Saturday, September 17, 2005


The fiasco in the Gulf is causing many to see the true self of the naked emperor. Even the fascist staging of his silly speech in NO, the melodramatic but temporary lighting of the set and motorcade route, and the chicken strut across the lawn, turned goofy in the minds of any not yet brain dead long before they doused the lights, packed up the generators, returning NO to darkness, and flew away.

Except of course, for the ultra faithful. Billmon:
...The true Bush cultists are hanging in there, following every loop and corkscrew in the party line like a carload of zombies on a rollercoaster.

Not much better are the sickenly ineffective Democrats who, handed a golden opportunity to mount a serious challenge, continue to act as if a critical whisper in the bathroom is real opposition and that compromises with the neo fascists are responsible government.

Just think about it. Karl Rove is in charge of rebuilding the Gulf coast with our money and we're standing for it quietly, acquiescent as zombies.

Gold rush 2


...Everything this admininstration touches turns to shit. $200 billion for the Gulf is going to be put in the hands of Karl Rove and a team of 22 year old Heritage foundation flunkies so they can proceed to hand it all over to powerful interests with no strings attached.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Gold rush

Here’s how the Bush Gulf Coast recovery plan works.

First, push through a wage cut plan that lowers wages from the princely “prevailing rate” of $7 or $8 an hour to the federal minimum $5.15 per hour. Then, he makes sure his gluttonous corporate cronies, Halliburton, etc, get the lucrative contracts and, with the reduced labor expenses, they haul away obscene profits, all paid for by taxed Americans.

It's a gold rush, for Bush loyalists only.

The rebuilding of NO is turning into a fabulous scheme, looting by corporate plutocratic insiders on a mind bending, near mythic scale. It is unbelievable and so blatantly obscene, right in the faces of the cowardly Democrats that it seems the Bush crime family has abandoned any pretenses of propriety, legality, ethics, and morality. If we were not all paying for it and if innocent poor people were not suffering because of it, the Bush program of institutionalized looting would be a wonder to behold.

Bush/Cheney and their corporate coconspirators have simply accumulated so much power, so successfully intimidated and co-opted the media and the Democrats that they can operate as flagrantly as they please.

This is the new face of fascism, unmasked thuggery and raw greed arm in arm with crazy Christian fundamentalism, military adventurers and Blackwater mercenaries. Get used to it. They aren’t going anywhere and there is no effective opposition.

I’ll post more later (I have to work) but if you want to follow the gold rush closely, just go over to Josh Marshall.

More storms, less Florida

Storms with the power of Hurricane Katrina are becoming more common, in part because of global warming, according to a report from a team of researchers that will be published Friday.
Link New York Times

A record loss of sea ice in the Arctic this summer has convinced scientists that the northern hemisphere may have crossed a critical threshold beyond which the climate may never recover. ...

...The greatest fear is that the Arctic has reached a "tipping point" beyond which nothing can reverse the continual loss of sea ice and with it the massive land glaciers of Greenland, which will raise sea levels dramatically.
Link The Independent on line

Bird flu vaccine

Mass production of a new vaccine that promises to protect against bird flu is poised to begin, as the government on Thursday agreed to stockpile $100 million worth of inoculations.

The new contract with French vaccine maker Sanofi-Pasteur marks a major scale-up in U.S. preparation for the possibility that the worrisome virus could spark an influenza pandemic.


Some people, either with more foresight, or more paranoia than I have, are stockpiling Tamiflu purchased via websites, mostly in Canada.

We are overdue for a pandemic, which, given the population densities and global interactions, could spread more rapidly than ever before. The goverment clearly believes, $100 million worth, there is a real threat.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Eisenhower speech, 1961

Now's a good time to be reminded of Eisenhower's military industrial complex speech. I am old enough to remember when this speech was given, though not wise enough then to appreciate its importance. Too bad we seem to have forgotten it.

Here's a few paragraphs from Eisenhower.

...This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together....
The rest is here.

One more thing. Here's a quote from Bush, from Josh Marshall:
"It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces - the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moment's notice."

(edit. The Bush quote is not in the New York Times transcript, likely released before the speech. It is in the MSNBC version which is probably a transcript of the actual speech as it was delivered. It is in the middle of the paragraph, six up from the bottom of page 4, that begins, hilariously, "I also want to know all the facts...")

It gets worse

Could Bush/Cheney have done anything more offensive than putting the despicable Karl Rove in charge of rebuilding NO? Well, yes he could. He is also awarding the reconstruction and recovery contracts to corporations run by his cronies in the plutocracy. As Josh Marshall says this evening:

Let's all be clear about one thing.

As we suggested last night, and as President Bush has now put us on notice, the Gulf Coast reconstruction effort is going to be run as a patronage and political operation.

That's not spin or hyperbole. They're saying it themselves.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

BAGnewsNotes (a reiteration)

Earlier ("Anybody in charge?" two posts down) I posted a link to BAGnewsNotes. A while ago I went back to the site and wandered around. It's an interesting place, great images and analysis, and very much worth a visit.


I don't know where he found this but Eric Alterman attributes it to Bill Maher
Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you any more. There's no more money to spend--you used up all of that. You can't start another war because you used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people. Listen to your Mom. The cupboard's bare, the credit cards maxed out. No one's speaking to you. Mission accomplished.

Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service and the oil company and the baseball team. It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or space man? Now I know what you're saying: there's so many other things that you as President could involve yourself in. Please don't. I know, I know. There's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela. Eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church. And Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote.

But, Sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poorly I'm surprised that you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man. Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire city to rising water and snakes.

On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans. Maybe you're just not lucky. I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side.

So, yes, God does speak to you. What he is saying is: 'Take a hint.

Anybody in charge?

Go to Bagnewsnotes and check out the photos and accompanying analysis. You might as well get some sardonic amusement out of your halfwit, psychopathic president.

The "out takes" (by which I mean, the wire photos that didn't circulate widely because they weren't as "fit" as Mannie's) suggest even more, however. Bush's expression in this home run photo by AP's Susan Walsh might turn out to be one of the more revealing portraits of the Bush presidency. Sadly, it is reminiscent of the "My Pet Goat" photo taken on the morning of 9/11. In this case, however, the "Oh my God" is replaced with a look of "What the hell do you expect me to do about it?" Clearly, its a rare glimpse of Bush without the mask, or the script, or the teleprompter, or the Rove or Cheney, or the transmitter -- and he knows it. ...

...On the other hand, it is much harder to take the President's posturing at face value when you can see evidence of the stage and the actor, one pose after another. At that point, you can see that this is simply a photo shoot, and the President, rather than being somebody at this critical moment, is trying to look like someone instead.

Thanks to Digby

No surprise

Senate kills bid for Katrina commission

Senate Republicans on Wednesday scuttled an attempt by Sen. Hillary Clinton to establish an independent, bipartisan panel patterned after the 9/11 Commission to investigate what went wrong with federal, state and local governments' response to Hurricane Katrina.

Cheney again

Here's a story, "Power crews diverted Restoring pipeline came first", from the Hattiesburg American.
Shortly after Hurricane Katrina roared through South Mississippi knocking out electricity and communication systems, the White House ordered power restored to a pipeline that sends fuel to the Northeast.
That order - to restart two power substations in Collins that serve Colonial Pipeline Co. - delayed efforts by at least 24 hours to restore power to two rural hospitals and a number of water systems in the Pine Belt....
"We were led to believe a national emergency was created when the pipelines were shut down," Compton said.

...White House call

Dan Jordan, manager of Southern Pines Electric Power Association, said Vice President Dick Cheney's office called and left voice mails twice shortly after the storm struck, saying the Collins substations needed power restored immediately.

Jordan dated the first call the night of Aug. 30 and the second call the morning of Aug. 31. Southern Pines supplies electricity to the substation that powers the Colonial pipeline....

Article found via Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo.

There are so many fascinating implications suggested by this call from Cheney; Josh Marshall covers many. If true, Cheney clearly was monitoring the storm and its aftermath and chose to intervene where it suited him and to ignore any other situations (like a drowning city) that didn't. It suggests what we all know anyway, that Cheney is the real power ("President Cheney" as Billmon insists) and he is constantly keeping his eye on what matters to his branch of the plutocracy, and so on. I'm sure your imagination on this one is as good as mine.

More on NO mercenaries

Why do we need combat ready mercenaries in a disaster area? Is it appropriate for the government to use them to counter civil unrest in the U.S.?

In general the growth of the mercenary industry is unsettling, perhaps ominous, especially for a boderline paranoid like me who believes the current government, that does not appear to have any respect for the Constitution, will do anything to preserve their power. When it becomes clear that they stole the last elections and will steal the next and people get very pissed off when they realize it, will it be Republican hired mercenaries that squash unrest and protect the process of election fraud?

Heavily armed paramilitary mercenaries from the Blackwater private security firm, infamous for their work in Iraq, are openly patrolling the streets of New Orleans. Some of the mercenaries say they have been "deputized" by the Louisiana governor; indeed some are wearing gold Louisiana state law enforcement badges on their chests and Blackwater photo identification cards on their arms. They say they are on contract with the Department of Homeland Security and have been given the authority to use lethal force....

Two men we spoke with said they plan on returning to Iraq in October. But, as one mercenary said, they've been told they could be in New Orleans for up to 6 months. "This is a trend," he told us. "You're going to see a lot more guys like us in these situations." ...

complete article from here, via the Side Show

Monday, September 12, 2005


If you criticize these guys they always make sure you become a public example of what happens if you do. Dr. Ben Marble, after saying “Fuck you Mr. Cheney,” was handcuffed and detained for a short time. And,
A state agency lawyer quoted in a nationally-circulated news story as questioning Karl Rove's eligibility to vote in Kerr County is out of a job and feeling twice burned.

Elizabeth Reyes said she was fired Tuesday as an attorney in the elections division of the Texas secretary of state's office because she appeared in a Washington Post story Saturday about the presidential adviser....

from here via Whatever already.

Where's Dick? (2)

Speculation has not ended about the whereabouts of Cheney at the start of the Katrina mess. Why wasn't he put in front of the cameras earlier? Are he and Bush no longer pals? Nora Ephron poses the questions and provides some answers.

And in case you need to be reminded about how important Cheney is, (from the same Ephron post)
It’s always been clear to me that five years ago, when all those Republican guys got together and realized that George Bush could be elected president – and that he wasn’t remotely capable – they came to an understanding: they would walk him through it. I’m sure it seemed like a swell idea, especially because it meant that they’d be in a perfect position to convince him to do all sorts of exciting things they had always wanted to do.

Cheney was the point man. Cheney was the guy they put on Meet the Press. Cheney was the person who seemed always to be the first responder. Cheney was the official they put into the bunker last May when a plane flew too close to the White House; Bush, who was bicycling in Maryland, wasn’t even told about the episode until forty minutes after it was over. Even Laura Bush, who was in the bunker with Cheney, publicly questioned the decision to keep the President in the dark.

But if you look at the chart in Sunday's New York Times, which tells you who was where when Katrina struck, Cheney doesn’t even get a listing. It’s Bush, Chertoff, Brown. Bush I and Bill Clinton were summoned to help. But Cheney didn’t even turn up back in Washington until last week, when he was sent off for a day of spouting platitudes while touring the flood zone.

Via Talk Left

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Ethnic cleansing

While residents are having their guns seized 150 or more armed Blackwater mercenaries are on the job in NO. You can be sure they are not there to protect the poor or rescue impoverished victims. They are there to protect individuals wealthy enough to afford them, to protect corporate assets and probably to protect the private, Bush crony and Halliburton affiliated companies selected by Cheney, Inc. for lucrative cleanup and reconstruction contracts.

How is it that Blackwater operatives get to have guns and citizens don't?

Blackwater’s presence disturbs me. Few presences would frighten me more than 150 armed mercenaries operating in my neighborhood who answer only to Republican paymasters. In fact, I don’t know whether I would be more frightened by efficient Blackwater mercenaries or mobs of disorganized looters.

Come to think of it, with the Abu Ghraib tortures in mind and a government that flagrantly holds people indefinitely, without charges, without trials, in Guantanamo, I don’t think I’d be too happy to see combat armed U.S. troops marching down my road either. I don’t trust them anymore.

In NO it seems people are being removed from their homes, reportedly sometimes at gun point and shipped out without being told where they are going. Think of it. You’re yanked from your house in NO (which may even be on dry land) and put on a plane and when you land, you find out you’re in Utah without money and with no way to reach relatives who might have been deported to Texas. You have no idea how the hell you’re going to get home or if home itself will be there when you get back. In a strange place, with no money, are you really free to leave the "shelter"? Or, are you a prisoner?

Personally, unless my house was under water, I think I'd prefer to stay home and risk disease, looters, fire and whatever, than entrust my well being and the security of my property to mercenaries and the feds. If my house was under water, I would prefer to take my chances getting out alone. I'd rather rely on the kindness of strangers than the good will of the authorities that are responsible for this mess. I would not willingly leave my dogs behind.

Once NO is emptied of residents, who is going to look out for the interests of the poor, now concentrated in distant camps? Who will object if part of the reconstruction by the Bush favored companies is to bulldoze the poor neighborhoods while restoring the business base and the neighborhoods of the wealthy?

If the impoverished, largely black population of NO is removed and conditions created that make it impossible for them to return, is that Ethnic Cleansing?

Link to Blackwater article.

Link to Military dictatorship article