Saturday, September 03, 2005

Blaming the Victim

An awful lot of right wing foks (sic pronounce it out loud) I've encountered this week have been mewling, "For heaven's sake, why didn't they just evacuate like everyone else????"

I think I have the answer. I put myself in the head of one of these refugees (there really is no other way to describe them now).

Here's what I think goes thru the mind of an indigent person ahead of Katrina.

"I've got two babies and a wife to try to move. Ain't got no car. Ain't got no busfare, cuz I live day-to-day on my small paychecks from two or three jobs, and besides, no hurricane ever destroyed a city (ed note: that's assuming he bothers to watch the news with his "ample" free time). So what am I goin' to do?

I guess I'll ride out the storm in my house, cuz I got food and water here and if I try to walk out of the city, what if the hurricane follows me? I'll be on the road with no food or water, nothing. And besides, the gubmint will be able to get food and water and stuff into New Orleans (or Biloxi or wherever). They did it for Florida. I remember seeing that President in the papers handing out bottles of water to them shiny white faces."

This blaming the victim crap has got to stop. You can spin spin spin all you want, but the simple fact is, the governments at all levels failed miserably, but most of all, the Bush administration is guilty of the murder of thousands of innocent poor people. It's genocidal what happened here.

You see, a mayor can order the evacuation of a city (which Mayor Nagin did). A governor can declare a state of emergency (which governor Blanco did). But only the Federal government can deploy the necessary resources to both enforce and facilitate an evacuation of a half million people and to protect those few who simply cannot or will not move.

See, I figure there's about a one percent "crackpot and deathly ill" factor in any population, who simply can't or won't be moved. So if more than 5,000 (in New Orleans case) are stranded, then that's who's left. Anything above that, and you've got a serious breakdown in governance.

It's no wonder guns were the first thing stolen from Walmart. As abhorrent as I find them, I would have grabbed me about five or six and protected myself, my house, and used them to get food and water for those I care about.

It's very easy for a civilized man to degenerate into savagery, far harder for the savage to discover civil behavior.

Let's do a comparison of the various responses to major hurricanes in the past century:

In September 1999, Hurricane Floyd -- a category 3 -- was bearing down the Carolinas and Virginia.

President Clinton was in Christchurch, New Zealand - meeting with President Jiang of China (you know, actually working). He made the proclamation that only Presidents can make and declared the areas affected by Floyd "Federal Disaster Areas" so the National Guard and Military can begin to mobilize. Then he cut short his meetings overseas and flew home to coordinate the rescue efforts. This all one day BEFORE a Cat-3 hit the coast. That is how you do it.

How about this dope's own father during Hurricane Andrew?

Once again, President Bush (41) -- August, 1992 -- was in the midst of a brutal campaign for re-election. Yet, he cut off his campaigning the day before and went to Washington where he martialed the largest military operation on US soil in history. He sent in 7,000 National Guard and 22,000 regular military personnel, and all the gear to begin the clean up within hours after Andrew passed through Florida. 'Cause, you know, those people and their stuff was actually where it belonged, rather than being used for insurgent target-practice halfway around the world in a vain effort to make Iraq safe for Iranian takeover.

In August of 1969 when Cat-5 Hurricane Camille hit roughly the same area as Katrina, President Nixon had already readied the National Guard and ordered all Gulf rescue vessels and equipment from Tampa and Houston to follow the Hurricane in. There were over 1,000 regular military with two dozen helicopters to assist the Coast Guard and National Guard within hours after the skies cleared.

Bush 43 - August 2005 - Cat-5 Hurricane Katrina bears down on New Orleans and the Mississippi gulf. Both states are down nearly 8,000 National Guard troops because they are in Iraq -- with most of the rescue gear needed. Bush is on vacation.

The day before Katrina makes landfall, Bush rides his bike for two hours.

The day she hits, he goes to Johnnie McCain's birthday party; and lies to old people about the multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical company welfare boondoggle. People are dying, the largest port of entry in the United States (and fifth largest in the World) is under attack. Troops and supplies are desperately needed. The levees are cracking and the emergency 1-1/2 ton sandbags are ready, but there aren't enough helicopters or pilots to set them before the levees fail. The mayor of New Orleans begs for Federal coordination, but there is none, and the sandbagging never gets done.

So Bush -- naturally -- goes to San Diego to play guitar with country singer and lie to the military about how Iraq is just exactly like WWII.

The levees give way, filling New Orleans with water, sewage, oil and chemicals. Ten percent of all US exports, and 50% of all agricultural exports ordinarly go through this port. It is totally destroyed.

Bush decides he'll end his vacation a couple of days early -- TOMORROW --BECAUSE HE HAS TICKETS TO A
PADRES GAME! He goes back to the Fake Farm in Crawford, with every intention of doing something on WEDNESDAY about this disaster that happened starting last Sunday night.

And this guy is a neo-con!

Tip o the hat to owlbear1

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Friday, September 02, 2005

Paul Krugman Says It Better Than I Could

September 2, 2005
A Can't-Do Government
Before 9/11 the Federal Emergency Management Agency listed the three most likely catastrophic disasters facing America: a terrorist attack on New York, a major earthquake in San Francisco and a hurricane strike on New Orleans. "The New Orleans hurricane scenario," The Houston Chronicle wrote in December 2001, "may be the deadliest of all." It described a potential catastrophe very much like the one now happening.

So why were New Orleans and the nation so unprepared? After 9/11, hard questions were deferred in the name of national unity, then buried under a thick coat of whitewash. This time, we need accountability.

First question: Why have aid and security taken so long to arrive?

Second question: Why wasn't more preventive action taken?

Third question: Did the Bush administration destroy FEMA's effectiveness?

A Shining Example of Our Republican Youth

I really ought to make a permanent link between Jesus' General and this blog....

Harass Cindy Sheehan

A Little Levity

Butt paste

Scrotum Scrub

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Two Sides of the Intelligent Design Question From Religious Folks

There was an interesting exchange of letters in this week's Time Magazine regarding the debate over teaching evolution v. intelligent design on a parity basis in science. Personally I oppose that, altho I think it makes for a good framework for an examination of the role faith has in society, and therefore is better suited for a civics class.

But here, let me let two avowed Christians point out the distinctions:

Evolution is being taught as unquestionable scientific dogma. As a high school student, I have repeatedly observed that any attempt to debate Darwin's theory is immediately shot down by the teacher and quickly followed with the accusation, direct or implied, that the student who dares to think outside the evolutionary box is an anti-intellectual idiot. That approach hampers science, for it is a field that thrives on the testing of theories and on the questioning and seeking of more accurate knowledge. How will science ever be able to progress if students are told there is only one way to think?


Olathe, Kans.

Admittedly, an interesting point, and perfectly designed to subvert the claim that ID is not science, thus also introducing the teleological argument that God exists by default. So what's nearly the next letter?

As an evangelical Christian, I reject intelligent design because it is not science but bad theology. Within science, it is no crime to admit that we don't have all the answers. Within theology, however, it is a crime to use God as an excuse for our ignorance. If we don't understand how something came about in nature, then we ought to use the brains that God gave us to think about and work on the problem. Otherwise we turn God into a magic word to use whenever we can't figure things out.


(Have to love the Letters editor of Time. Kudos, because this type of contrast happens all too frequently for it to be coincidence)

Precisely the point, Mr. Graf, and this letter should become the rallying cry of science teachers nationwide. Folks, I cannot stress this enough: We are in danger of turning our schools into madrassahs where only religion is taught, and asking our kids to become whatever the democratic equivalent of suicide bombers is!

The Arabic world was once a bastion of enlightenment and intellectual curiousity. We got algebra, astronomy, rudimentary geometry, medicine, even our alphabet from Arabian peoples. And now look at it.

Is this what we want America to become?

It's easy to say it'll never happen, but you know what? It has once in human history at least, and that alone ought to scare the beejeezus out of you.
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Amazing video of Katrina

A pair of storm chasers purposely put themselves in harm's way, and courtesy of the Today Show, this is what they filmed.

Note: Sorry about the advertisement at the beginning. I was hoping I could skip around it but they figured a way around my hack...

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

From My Good Friends At

Write your own caption

The Redneck Version of Nero.

Would that be "Nirra feddled whul Rome boined"?

Gas Prices

One of the most useful sites I've ever found on the Web is Gas Buddy.

So after Katrina, I thought I'd check out NYC gasoline prices, which, while not the highest in the country, tend towards the high end.

In the New York area, the most expensive gas (regular grade, not premium) is $3.49 on Long Island. And climbing.

Meanwhile, Bush, who has been asked by Senator Charles Schumer (a hero of mine) numerous times to alleviate the price crisis in this country, is only "thinking" about releasing parts of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Schumer made this same request back in 2000. Then-President Clinton released 30 million gallons and gas prices tumbled.

What did Bush do when Schumer asked him last year?

He went out and drove oil prices higher by shoring up the SPR.

UPDATE: Grudingly, the White House announced today they would tap the SPR.

Bet you it's nowhere near enough to help and not even close to what Clinton did, which actually *saved* the US a lot of money, as he was able to resupply the SPR at greatly reduced prices.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I meant to comment on Lawrence Greenfield's Firing Yesterday....

This is another example of the Machiavellian "Deus Ex Machina" that has bureaucrats failing upwards, while good people like Colin Powell are embarassed out of town...

From Maureen Dowd's Op-Ed piece in Sunday's NY Times.

Eric Lichtblau reported in The Times this week that the administration was dumping the highly respected Lawrence Greenfeld, appointed by President Bush in 2001 to head the Bureau of Justice Statistics, because he refused superiors' orders to delete from a press release an account of how black and Hispanic drivers were treated more aggressively by the police after traffic stops. The Justice Department study showed markedly higher rates of searches and use of force for black and Hispanic drivers, compared with white drivers.

Fearing that the survey would give ammunition to members of Congress who object to using racial and ethnic data in terrorism and law enforcement investigations, Mr. Greenfeld's supervisors buried it online with no press release or briefing for Congress.

Mr. Lichtblau wrote that when Mr. Greenfeld sent the planned press release to the office of his supervisor, Tracy Henke, then an acting assistant attorney general, the section on the treatment of black and Hispanic drivers was crossed out with a notation: "Do we need this?" Ms. Henke herself had added a note: "Make the changes."

Like Condi Rice, Stephen Hadley, John Bolton and others who helped spin reality to suit political ends, Ms. Henke was rewarded by the president. She has been nominated for a senior post in the Homeland Security Department.

I feel safer already.

But read the rest of the column as well. Bush has not only lost touch with reality, he's jumped the couch

News You Aren't Reading In America

Iraqis fear new draft constitution will lead to country's disintegration
30/08/2005 17:01

BAGHDAD, August 30 (RIA Novosti, Pavel Davydov) - Iraq fears that a constitution that does not meet the interests of the whole society may lead to the disintegration of the state.

"The Sunnis, which represent one of the key groups in Iraqi society, refused to sign the draft constitution," an Iraqi writer, Shiite Diya al-Khalidi, said. "This means the constitution does not meet the aspirations and hopes of the whole Iraqi nation, which might lead to the country's disintegration."

Many people said they believed that if the constitution did not take into account the interests of all major communities within Iraqi society - Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds - conflict and tension would grow between them.

"Federalism in Iraq, which Kurds and some Shiite leaders are insisting upon," Shiite Adnan al-Mayahi, a worker from Baghdad, said, "will lead to escalation of hatred between different communities, as the balance will be distorted between them."

Shiite lawyer Ali Mahmoud said the idea of federalism was absolutely unacceptable for Iraq. "Federalism would be possible in Iraq if Iraqis first of all felt that they were the country's citizens, and then, that they were members of a community, faith, or tribe, if all Iraqis could live in any part of the country regardless of its ethnic composition." This would not be possible either now or in the near future, the lawyer said. He explained that Kurds, for example, did not associate themselves with Iraq and wanted to separate from it.

So what does this mean?

Basically, it means the chances of a civil war will not go away any time soon, despite our best efforts to build as effective a coalition government as we have in building a coalition to prosecute this war and occupation.

(Meaning, for the lurking FReepers out there, no chance at all)

See, Federalism speaks to a strong, centralized government, which favors a majority (except in the United States, where tyranny of the minority is the order of the day, but you can read all about that in my book-in-progress when it comes out). Regionalist government would at least give the Sunnis a safe haven in their own country to have some form of autonomy and self-determination, kind of like a local town can ignore some state mandates on their own volition.

Stupid neo-cons missed the lessons of the early Articles of Confederation...

Sunday, August 28, 2005

World's Shortest Personality Test

This is how I did. Pretty damned accurate. Water has always held a special place in my life, first as a world-class swimmer, and now as a scuba diver:

You are elegant, withdrawn, and brilliant.
Your mind is a weapon, able to solve any puzzle.
You are also great at poking holes in arguments and common beliefs.

For you, comfort and calm are very important.
You tend to thrive on your own and shrug off most affection.
You prefer to protect your emotions and stay strong.

Honey! I'm hoooome!

Just got back in about midnight last night, so I'm whipped, seven hours later. I will write more at some point today (more likely tomorrow), but I found this and wanted to share it.

Looks like they are eating their young again....