Essential parts

posted 09.23.05

The breeze coming through the window is cool, not humid - really nice. Here comes fall. Here comes Rita. Hurricane Rita, that is. Not catching many breaks this hurricane season. She-yit.

We're sending out our sincerest wishes of safety to the folks down on the Gulf Coast. Whatever conditions would tame this beast bearing down on your shores - we're hoping for them.

My brain feels like it's been stripped of some essential parts and left for junk. Reminds me of driving out of Manhattan with my mother when I was a kid, we'd go down to the city and she'd drag us through a museum (hoping beyond hope that we might actually absorb something), then we'd make the trek homeward. It was the seventies and I'd stare out the windows as Mom piloted us along. We'd clear the skyscrapers as we made our way out of the city - lower skyline, gritty industrial and encrusted residential neighborhoods. There was a big fascination and dread for me that dotted the streets in that area just outside of the city - abandoned and stripped cars. Some of them were burned out. Just sitting there on the streets - bits and pieces missing, sometimes almost all of them. How did that happen to cars, I wondered?

Some of the neighborhoods didn't look much better off than the cars there. It was a landscape we drove through, but didn't talk about.

I didn't understand it, that landscape. I only knew that there was poverty there - extreme poverty. It looked so vast that poverty - like there was no way to make it better - there must not be, if there was, surely somebody would have - right? We had poverty upstate, but it was more spread out - all over people's front yards sometimes... and the back yards... and side yards... old cars, trucks, tractors, refrigerators, stoves...

I was once attacked by a mouse in a junked, abandoned car. Yes, I've lived a dangerous and exciting life. While emotionally scarred by the experience, I managed to escape otherwise unscathed.


My right ear has been really waxy lately...

I've never experienced this before...

My wax tends to build up on a regular, slow schedule...

Ume thinks it's probably allergies...

I do too...

Still, it's kind of gross.

Is the road to totalitarianism paved with a lack of imagination?

You know what keeps going through my mind? The parallel between Bush's inability to respond competently in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and those seven minutes he sat in that chair in that classroom after the planes hit the tower on 9/11.

But now he's Mr. InCharge - as another hurricane plows into the Gulf Coast and our fourth largest city evacuates. After Katrina, the administration figured out that maybe they ought to pay attention to this disaster stuff - it seems to concern people... And cost a lot of money (starting to make the "cost" of reasonable energy policies and actually doing something about global warming seem, I dunno, cheap). So you can bet they'll be scripting Bush's response to this next one!


"We will do what it takes. We will not leave until the job is done."
-- President Bush on Iraq, 11.14.03

"We will do what it takes. We will stay as long as it takes."
-- President Bush on the Gulf Coast, 9.15.05

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Need some good information on ergonomics and micro stretches to keep you in good shaspe while working on a computer all day? You want to stretch a few minutes every hour (you're preciuos and whatnot, you've got to take care of your parts!). Check out ErgoAnswers.

Ooh La!

A contemporary historian has dusted off Henry Adams' nine volume history of the early years of the US, and has hopefully made it more digestible (nine volumes of 19th century Harvard educated prose...). I may have to give this one a go - "Henry Adams and the Making of America". You can check out an OnPoint discussion with Gary Wills, the author of the book.

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Gulf Coast braces for arrival of Rita (Reuters, 09.23.06)

UK soldiers 'freed from militia' (BBC, 09.20.05)

Basra governor demands UK apology (BBC, 09.22.05)

World has slim chance to stop flu pandemic (Reuters, 09.20.05)

Skyscrapers dim lights to save birds (Reuters, 09.21.06)

Cocoa health benefits may boost West Africa farms (Reuters, 09.19.05)

No new taxes!

posted 09.17.05

Whew! I was so worried about that. (Not!) Seems we'll pay for damage from Hurricane Katrina the old fashioned way - off of the backs of low wage earning Americans - all the while recognizing that there may possibly have once been some racial overtones to the social inequity thereabouts, but that won't be the case now, 'cuz we now live in a color blind society and all... Oh, and we'll make further spending cuts to offbalance the rebuilding efforts...

I can hear Grover Norquist's squeals from here, "Kill big government! It's evil! Shrink it down to a manageable size then drown it in the bathtub! Put a knife in it's belly and twist it every which way until you're covered in the blood of big government! Kill it! Kill it now! Before those girly-men, self-loathing liberals get ahold of it and tax our multi-billion dollar estates and try to resurrect the public school system. I'll see this country destoyed before I give up my money! We're not giving up our money! And all of that money that's floating around in the federal coffers is going to pay for defending our economic interests. We're going to spend it on big military contracts - we're going to funnel it into companies staffed with retired Republican leftovers. So that we can kill! And kill some more! And kill! Kill! Kill!"

Gyuh - how long was I gone?

I couldn't actually bear to listen to Bush's roadshow schtick - his address from New Orleans (repleat with spooky lighting). I read about it instead. Looks like we're going to get to see relief and rebuilding Heritage Foundation style. It was sooo successful in Iraq, why not perpetrate it here too?! School vouchers all 'round!

And who's overseeing all of these billions of dollars that are flowing out of the federal coffers? Who's making sure that it's spent properly? (You know, oversight? Louisina and Mississippi aren't exactly known for their lack of public corruption.) No transparent process, no independant body? Oh, now there's a good idea. Sign me up for some of that.

So people are focusing on the huge tasks facing folks on the Gulf Coast. Politics aside - it's staggering...

Unless they installed something like a humongous vacuum in those levees, and built them up twice as strong, I'd be hanging back for a while... But that's just me. And man, the people who endured that hell in the Superdome and the convention center... it'll take some serious resilience to overcome that trauma. I've read and heard several hair-raising accounts - what a horrific nightmare. The best and the worst we're capable of... I wonder how many of those people are going to return? I sure as hell wouldn't - no way. Or maybe they will, with the determination to rebuild a city in which no one, rich, poor, black, white or otherwise, will ever have to endure that kind of hell on earth again. Last I heard, over half of the people who were evacuated to Houston plan on settling there. (Now Houston, there's a city that's done an amazing service to this country.)

Not too many people wanted to relocate up here to Massachusetts - about 250 people were brought here from New Orleans. Some will settle hereabouts or so we hear, but most are headed back home.

I was deeply disappointed to hear that the Red Cross had waded into the politicking concerning the initial lack of response to the hurricane. We used to donate money there... But we may have to locate another option.

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You know those people, who, when you mention something to them, they reflexively mention something that they've done that seems so much more interesting to them? You say, for instance, "I found this amazing bit of lint in my navel this morning." And they reply, "Oh, last week, I was at this outrageous party and I met the woman who holds the world's record for most unique navel lint - two years running! Someone thought they saw the image of Christ in some of it. It's on display at MOMA." And then they go on, at length, about them and their friends and their artful navel lint - leaving you to contemplate your navel lint on your own... if you still think your lowly navel lint is worthy of contemplation, that is.

You don't share with these people, you exist as an opportunity for them to tell themselves how interesting, smart, understanding, well-off (etc.) they are. In short, they're narcissists and you're the closest thing they have to a mirror in that moment. It's all about the sparkly reflection, baby. Unless that narcissist is a big depressive - then it's all about the unfathomable depths of their never-been-felt-so-exquisitely-before angst. Yawn.

I know too many of these people. I find them regrettable and do my best to avoid contact, but they don't make it easy. They hunt me down when they need to feel good about themselves. It may be that they need someone else present, or on the phone, to feel anything at all - other than that terrible empty feeling they have when they're left to experience their wonderfulness on their own.

Reminds me of a recent encounter... I stood luxuriating in the surf, the cool ocean waters chilling my overheated self. (Ah, fond summer memories...) I wasn't quite ready to dive in - I prefer to creep up on the chill of the ocean, one small step at a time. She looked me over with that keen, voracious eye, and said, "My mother had a large chest like yours, back when that was considered quite an asset."

And she wonders why it is that we don't manage to get together all that often any more...

Earlier, she'd compared our suits - from the same company - "I was surprised I could still get the young-ass suit and look good in it, I didn't like the style of the old-ass suit... oh, but it looks good on you."

And she wonders why it is that we so rarely see one another these days...

You can only tell someone to behave so many times before it gets old. And to have to tell someone to stop being an insecure shit, well, that's not something I think one should have to do much with a friend - a family member, of course, a friend - no. Someone who repeatedly undermines you to bolster their own sagging ego, that person isn't a friend you want.

I've found that exposure to this sort of thing is poison, straight up. I've tried addressing it subtly - no go. I've tried being straight forward - met with evasion. I came to the conclusion that conscious or no, people make choices about how they want to live - and some don't understand why it is that they end up living that life in a rather lonely fashion - but that isn't my problem.

I have better things to do with my time than stand around blinking in disbelief at yet another zinger, unleashed from the rancid depths of a bitter and angry person's twisted gut. No matter how genuinely and supportively they smile while they spew this crap, it reeks of the bile they were never able to scrub from their gullet - be it childhood trauma, anxiety, envy, desire, anger or whathaveyou based. You don't find a way to siphon that out of there (therapy, medication, near death experiences, combinations of all of the above...) - it festers - builds up a real stink.

So we don't see one another much anymore... not on purpose.

Gads - I'm in a cheerful mood! How 'bout you?

Reader comments

My dear, let me assure you that a good rack NEVER goes out of style, despite what your "friend" may say!

USA - 09/20/2005

Here, here!

USA - 09/23/2005

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Astute article

Left Behind: Bush's Holy War on Nature by Chip Ward (Common Dreams, 09.16.05)

Excerpts: Perhaps the most lasting legacy of the Bush administration will be its undermining of environmental and conservation science itself. Cases of silenced government scientists and experts, censored reports, disbanded scientific advisory panels, and withheld evidence abound. (The National Resources Defense Council has listed dozens of examples on its website.) No administration has ever shown such levels of contempt for science as a means for informing and guiding policy and law.

...Our President himself recently declared "the jury is still out" on evolution. The administration's push to satisfy its base by devaluing and discrediting evolutionary theory has profound implications for environmental policy and law. If you don't believe in the evolutionary sciences, chances are you also don't heed or trust the ecological sciences that underlie environmental law and policy. When conservation biologists talk about keystone (or endangered) species, fundamentalists are far more likely than most Americans to listen skeptically. The value of biodiversity as a measure of ecosystem health is going to be of little concern to those who do not understand or accept the critical role that species interaction plays in keeping ecosystems resilient in the face of disturbance and stress.

...If you believe that God made the world for you and instructed you to dominate it and be fruitful, then you are likely to see yourself as above and beyond the natural world. If you are God's chosen, then how can you fear that he will not provide for you no matter how large your numbers grow or what you do to your surroundings? God, after all, can change nature's laws, which are part of his "intelligent design" in the first place. So you are unlikely to fret about practicing environmental restraint or worry about environmental toxins -- righteousness being the best prophylactic against disease in a world where God's will is done.

...According to Bush's political base, the future is theirs; nature was put here for us to use as we please; God will provide; and foolish unbelievers will be abandoned, like those desperate refugees at the New Orleans Super Dome, in a trashed and shredded world. We had our chance, but decided to listen to scientists, believe in dinosaurs, hug trees, and wring our hands over pupfish, spotted owls, and the odd centipede or two. While our jaws drop at their arrogant and reckless behaviors, they just shake their heads and chuckle condescendingly at all of our "liberal whining." It's a holy war, after all, and they are most righteous.

Bush's assault on the environment makes perfect sense once you see the bargains that drive it. The fundamentalists give Bush political power; his corporate cronies get free reign to plunder the land for their profit; and the fundamentalists get the heads of nature-worshipping enviros on an arsenic platter. The rest of us, of course, get left behind.


Huzzah! I think...

Mass. Legislature rejects proposed amendment banning gay marriage (Boston Globe, 09.14.05)

Excerpt: Now, lawmakers are girding for a battle over a more-restrictive proposed constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage but not allow for civil unions. The earliest that initiative could end up on the ballot is 2008.

"The union of two women and two men can never consummate a marriage. It's physically impossible. We can't get around that. You can be a family, absolutely. You can be loving, and I respect that absolutely. But you're not married," said Rep. Phil Travis, D-Rehoboth. "The other 49 states are right and we are wrong."

Another terrific This American Life show, these stories will blow you away: After The Flood on their site.

Not the New Deal by Paul Krugman (NYTimes, 09.16.05)

A Fatal Incuriosity by Maureen Dowd (NYTimes, 09.14.05)

Baghdad reels from new bombings (BBC, 09.15.05)

The Petulant President by Sidney Blumenthal (Guardian/UK, 09.16.05)

Excerpt: It was easier for Bush to renounce alcohol at 40 than ideology at 60. Bush had radicalized Reagan's conservatism, but never has Reagan's credo rung so hollow: "Government is not the solution to our problem." Social Darwinism cannot protect the homeland. Many thousands, mostly poor black people, were trapped in the convention centre without food and water for days. Poverty has increased more than 9% since Bush assumed office. The disparity between the superpower's evangelical mission to democratise the world and indifference at home is a foreign policy crisis of new dimension. Can Iraq be saved if Louisiana is lost?

Chris Mooney on 'The Republican War on Science' (Fresh Air, 09.15.05)

Site that gives a good daily news roundup:
American Progress Report

For a weekly roundup:
Harper's Weekly Roundup

One tires of being whipped with the example that is Singapore (a totalitarian city state of 4 million people - 1/4 the size of Manhattan), and yet: Singapore and Katrina by Thomas L. Friedman (NYTimes, 09.14.05)

Excerpt: Speaking of Katrina, Sumiko Tan, a columnist for the Sunday edition of The Straits Times in Singapore, wrote: "We were shocked at what we saw. Death and destruction from natural disaster is par for the course. But the pictures of dead people left uncollected on the streets, armed looters ransacking shops, survivors desperate to be rescued, racial divisions - these were truly out of sync with what we'd imagined the land of the free to be, even if we had encountered homelessness and violence on visits there. ... If America becomes so unglued when bad things happen in its own backyard, how can it fulfill its role as leader of the world?"

Janadas Devan, a Straits Times columnist, tried to explain to his Asian readers how the U.S. is changing. "Today's conservatives," he wrote, "differ in one crucial aspect from yesterday's conservatives: the latter believed in small government, but believed, too, that a country ought to pay for all the government that it needed.

"The former believe in no government, and therefore conclude that there is no need for a country to pay for even the government that it does have. ... [But] it is not only government that doesn't show up when government is starved of resources and leached of all its meaning. Community doesn't show up either, sacrifice doesn't show up, pulling together doesn't show up, 'we're all in this together' doesn't show up."

What's up with the speech police in Britain?
Britain's tougher security laws come under attack (Reuters, 09.16.05)

Still Eating Our Lunch by Thomas L. Friedman (NYTimes, 09.16.05)

Roberts will get approval, it's a done deal - you can keep track of it if you want.

Informative conversation about happenings in New Orleans: On the Ground in New Orleans: Reporter Christopher Drew (Fresh Air, 09.12.05)

Good riddance

posted 09.12.05

Micael Brown has stepped down after his performance and qualifications (so called) came under scrutiny. Good riddance, you sorry little man. I heard that he was whining about being made a scapegoat - delusional bastard.

FEMA has decreed that people (news people in particular...) not take pictures of those killed by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath - to preserve the dignity of the deceased. To preserve Bush's sorry ass is more like it.

Seems FEMA, an agency whose top several leadership positions are peopled with uniquely unqualified political appointees, is taking a whack at media control. You limit the horrible and frightening images, you limit the damage to the government. It's part and parcel of the "no photographing bodybags and coffins" approach to mind control.

Seems Laura Bush thinks the recovery effort is going really well, though - on all fronts! I suppose we can excuse her for a biased point of view. Her husband is busy getting on top of things, he's going to head up an investigation on his inept handling of the response. I feel so confident that his findings will be greatly insightful and tell us exactly why the disastrous initial response was someone else's fault.

In the meantime, the Ministry of ReInformation, has issued Bush with an explanation for why he said that no one expected the breach of the levees - hold onto your hat, this one has some mean spin on it - seems what Mr. Bush really meant was that after the hurricane passed everyone was relieved that it hadn't been so severe and sighed in relief - remember? And so what he actually meant was that no one had suspected that the levees could have been breached, because they thought that they had gotten through the storm without the levees having been breached, because the breaching wasn't reported until after the storm had passed, you see, and so who on earth would have suspected that the levees could have been breached? Because they hadn't been. Naturally. Just like he said to Diane Sawyer...

"But I want people to know there is a lot of help coming. I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm. But these levees got breached, and as a result, much of New Orleans is flooded. And now we are having to deal with it and will."

Wonder which reporter lobbed him the question that afforded him such a convenient platform to re-spin this beauty of a blunder? Wouldn't be suprised if he was made the new director of FEMA. (Watch Bush spin... keep your eye on the Mayor's face in the background to see what he thinks of Bush's b.s.)

One wonders if the gremlins at work in the Ministry of ReInformation will be able to re-spin this whole mess into, "Compasionate Prez delivers to those most in need - yet again! (Despite all of those nasty things the liberal media has done to prevent him from looking out for your best interests.) He even went and talked with the survivors, like, three times! And some of them were black! See how much he cares? What a super guy!"

Only time will tell...

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Driving along, listening to Marian Fontana telling this story, I was stunned and amazed. Someone actually told Donald Rumsfeld, to his face, that he'd used the death of her husband in the Trade Towers on 9/11 as a pretext for a war in a country, Iraq, we had no business being in. Damn! That's courage. To hear it and have your spine tingle - check out "Not What I Signed Up For" - scroll down the page and look for the show's title (8/26 - Episode 295 - this part of the story starts about 20 minutes into the show)

Meanwhile in Massachusetts...

Groups that oppose same-sex nuptials have asked lawmakers sympathetic to their cause to oppose the Travaglini-Lees amendment -- a reversal from their position last year. Instead, the groups are asking legislators to focus on passing a separate ballot initiative that is aimed at banning same-sex marriages without creating civil unions by 2008. Several of those lawmakers, such as Representative Philip Travis, a Rehoboth Democrat, have agreed to do so, which means the Travaglini-Lees amendment was probably doomed regardless of whether gay-marriage supporters became a majority of the Legislature or not.

From the article: Gay marriage ban expected to fail by Raphael Lewis, Boston Globe, 09.12.05

In the news...

Stories from hell:
After the Flood (This American Life, 09.09.05, Episode 296, audio file, you might have to scroll down to the story title)

Sept. 11: The Fourth Anniversary (NPR, 09.11.05)

All the President's Friends by Paul Krugman (NYTimes, 09.12.05)

Point Those Fingers by Paul Krugman (NYTimes, 09.09.05)

Another Term, Another Turning Point (, 09.07.05)

Excerpt: Even though U.S. unemployment had fallen below 5 percent before the hurricane, Americans are dissatisfied. Household income has stagnated for five years in a row, the first time that's happened. Health, housing and education costs are up substantially. The percentage of Americans in poverty rose again last year, and now the Gulf Coast region has lost hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in economic activity. The rate of growth in the economy is expected to slow this year and next.

Finding a Niche for New Orleans Restaurant Workers (NPR, 09.10.05)

Making our military stronger and better...
Howe's End (American Prospect, 08.24.05)

Lest we forget...
Texas groups linked to DeLay indicted in scandal (Reuters, 09.08.05)

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Interesting times

posted 09.05.05

You know the Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times..."? New Orleans underwater. Towns along the Gulf Coast shattered, flattened. Countless dead. A shamefully uncoordinated response, resulting in unimaginable horrors and many more deaths. And now Rehnquist is dead.

George Bush, who took a good deal of time figuring out how, exactly, he should act about the disaster down south (no, Mr. President, reminiscing about your binge drinking in New Orleans is not an appropriate way to express yourself in a time of shock, grief and outrage), and patted the criminally inept (and laughably unqualified) FEMA director on the back and told the world he was doing a great job - that same President took no time figuring out who would be the next chief justice of the Supreme Court. You see, Bush has his own priorities - and they don't involve the poor on the Gulf Coast and in New Orleans, let me assure you of that. Meanwhile, the Govenor of Louisiana has hired James Lee Witt to help coordinate the relief effort. Lee Witt headed up FEMA during the Clinton administration and has actual experience in disaster relief - imagine that, experience...

This country is like a narcissist being forced to see a reality they can't fathom, because they truly bought into their own bullshit fairy tale - "This isn't happening... How could this happen? This isn't happening..."

It's like waking up to find that the sparkly sugar-coated walls of your suburban Barbie dreamhouse/condo, are actually fetid, maggot-ridden pieces of buckled pressboard. And then you wake up for real, and after catching your breath, feel a wave of relief when you realize that no, that buckled pressboard belongs to some lazy no-good sod down in the projects. Whew! Your dreamhouse walls are indeed sparkly. So off to sleep you go in relief. You wake up the next day, get the paper and grumble about whiney environmentalists, high taxes and inefficient government spending. (Spending on social welfare is always a bad idea, money burned, but funneling that same money into the military industrial complex, why, that's just practical!)

How can we not be angry? How can we not appoint blame when so many people have died? Are still dying? Are wandering around in a toxic brew of sewage, death and decay? It's such a basic reaction, affixing blame - especially when you have the luxury of not being directly effected by the disaster. Probably makes that knee jerk reaction worse, actually - a way to feel somehow less useless, I guess.

I woke up in the middle of the night, I was having a nightmare - horrid images looping in my head. I had to remind my small brain, "This isn't about you, you're not suffering." Not directly.

Thankfully, most of the people have now been moved from New Orleans to places that are more secure, where they'll recieve better treatment. We wish them well. Aid is beginning to get where it needs to be.

The courage and bravery of the people on the ground doing rescue and relief work, who've gone in there and done the best they could with what they had - they're incredible. Can you imagine? And they're still at it, going door to door, rooftop to rooftop...

2500 people from that area are being temporarily relocated to Massachusetts and housed at Camp Edwards on the Cape. That's a long way from a home that probably doesn't exist anymore. We'll be doing what we can to make them welcome in the Bay State.

I think the anger and frustration people are expressing makes sense in another way - it's displacing anxiety over the grisly scenes that are forthcoming. And over the incomprehensible scale of the task that lies ahead - where are all of those people going to go over the next weeks and months? What will they do with their time? I think the magnitude of what lies ahead is shutting people's brains down. Affixing blame, that's easier to manage.

Listening to a program that was discussing the race and class aspect of the disaster, an economist who studies poverty said it was amazing that race and poverty had become the national focus at this time, the commentator was nonplussed, "What else could we be discussing?" The reply was something like, "Good god! An entire American city has been wiped out!" Seems there are other challenges he thinks are also worthy of our attention... health issues, housing isues, engineering issues, environmental issues...

Looking at the news I see Democrats on the offensive saying there should be accountability for the failure of the initial response, and Republicans on the defensive trying to protect their President and their own asses, saying, "Realistically, no one could have predicted such a huge disaster..." Actually, they did... Besides that, this is four years after 9/11, four years of the fear talk about dirty bombs in cities, bioterrorism, and the like - not to mention that a large storm hitting New Orleans was listed, by FEMA, as one of the top threats facing the US. Feeble excuse making at best.

We go to that place we're conditioned to go - have the knee-jerk reaction we're likely to have. The reality is too much for us to contemplate - so we gravitate to these things that we do know. Our sensationalist, conflict driven, spectacle loving media is at a loss, and so it too retreats to its comfort zone. We start with the most obvious spectacles and controversies and eventually we'll work our way through to a deeper, more insightful understanding... Well okay, maybe that's a stretch.

Meanwhile, they're starting to pump millions of gallons of diseased and toxic sludge into Lake Pontchartrain in an effort to drain New Orleans.

Evacuees looking for a place to stay can check out - - they're hooking people up with beds. There's also a missing person's database on

Report from a blogger who got out (Michael Howman, 09.05.05)

Floodwaters recede as New Orleans braces for what lies beneath (Times Picayune, 09.06.05)

"...Take whatever idiot they have at the top of whatever agency and give me a better idiot. Give me a caring idiot. Give me a sensitive idiot. Just don't give me the same idiot."
-- Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish

Katrina - more articles

posted 09.03.05

Thought the NewsHour commentary was insightful, I've excerpted it, but you can read the whole transcript on the NewsHour site: Political Analysts Blast Response to Katrina

Tom Oliphant: ...On the one hand there is no question that we can see now with our own eyes the two Americas of which John Edwards began speaking a year and a half ago.

But deeper than that, I think, is the anger that is going to come from the realization that virtually all public policy -- state, local, federal, where this area [disaster preparedness] is concerned, has been against the public interests for decades. And the realization that government is one of the reasons we have government has been violated by virtually everything government has done for decades.

David Brooks: This is -- first of all it is a national humiliation to see bodies floating in a river for five days in a major American city. But second, you have to remember, this was really a de-legitimization of institutions.

Our institutions completely failed us and it is not as if it is the first in the past three years -- this follows Abu Ghraib, the failure of planning in Iraq, the intelligence failures, the corporate scandals, the media scandals.

We have had over the past four or five years a whole series of scandals that soured the public mood. You've seen a rise in feeling the country is headed in the wrong direction.

Before and after hurricane aerial image comparison (Boston Globe, 09.02.05)

Hope emerges for New Orleans but struggles remain (Reuters, 09.03.05)

Murder and mayhem in New Orleans' miserable shelter (Reuters, 09.03.05)

Reaction to the Hurricane Response (OnPont Radio, 09.02.05, audio file)

The Awful Price of Coastal Ruin (Common Dreams, 09.01.05)

No one can say they didn't see it coming (Common Dreams, 09.01.05)


posted 09.02.05

Our thoughts are with the people suffering in the wake of hurricane Katrina - our hearts are with you. The devastation is beyond comprehension - we wish you safe passage. Here's courage and strength to you and those folks who are doing everything they can to help out in an impossible situation.

As the magnitude of the catastrophe becomes apparent in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama - the total lack of preparedness becomes evident. And further, the lack of an efficient, coordinated response is criminal. The people who didn't get out, who didn't evacuate - most lacked the means to do so (and adequate public transportation was not provided!). People are amazed at how many people were so poor - that many? That many people live below the poverty line in a major city in the US? Really? What a tragic way to wake up - at the expense of other people's lives and sanity.

This morning I was amazed to watch petite pretty girl talking heads questioning Michael Brown, the director of FEMA, in a less than friendly manner. I've seen him on every news show in the past 12 hours - doesn't he have anything better to do? WHAT THE FUCK! "I understand their frustration..." No, Michael, you don't - if you did you'd get off your ass and do something - this isn't a goddamn photo-op. People are dying while you're sitting in that chair on top of the most uncoordinated relief effort in history.

Yes, I know that all communication has broken down - local officials can't communicate with state officials, state can't communicate with federal - well, why the hell not? Even without that communication, why hasn't shitloads of food and water been airlifted in? How can we be FIVE days into this thing, FIVE days, and no one has managed to land helicopters in New Orleans with some armed guards to distribute this stuff on street corners? Quit talking about the big ships and shipments that are on the way - those are useless to those people if they're dead. They need that help NOW. They needed it yesterday and the day before that! If all of those tv crews can get in there - food and water sure as hell can.

Which isn't to say there's been no help and people aren't grateful for the help there's been, but come ON! Again, here's to the people on the ground doing everything they can - you people are amazing. It's got to be a nightmare there.

Remarkably, I heard them mention the "r" word this morning on tv. That sea of black faces in New Orleans hasn't gone unnoticed, and, now, it hasn't gone unremarked upon. How is it that most of the white people managed to get out, and most of the people remaining are black? You don't need an advanced degree to figure that one out. See above discussion on the number of people who live below the poverty line and then, to that, add our country's inability to cope with the issue of race.

So, do we start pointing fingers at people yet? When George Bush makes comments like, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." It's really difficult not to. Apparently, lots of people had warned against it - lots of people warned that the wetlands shouldn't be developed - lots of people warned that the levee system was compromised - so it's hard not to start hammering on inadequate leadership. I don't see how that's going to help anyone though - right now, getting help to those people, getting them safe, a place to live, getting them situated - that's the priority, no? It's going to be a long haul.

They're saying that volunteers should be trained if they're heading there to help - don't make the situation worse by going willy-nilly, they say to go as part of a group or an organization like the Red Cross (which will train and prepare you). Here's how you can contribute to the relief effort monetarily:


How You Can Help (

US economy to feel Katrina's force (Boston Globe, 09.02.05)

Specialists warn of health disaster (Boston Globe, 09.02.05)

La. governor calls for more troops as violence rises in New Orleans (Boston Globe, 09.02.05)

Forgotten people in Miss. grow desperate (Boston Globe, 09.02.05)

Race and Class in New Orleans (Here and Now, 09.02.05)

Excerpt: Also, the captions of two different photos posted on YahooNews have sparked controversy. One photo of a young black male was captioned as "a young man walks through chest deep waters after looting a grocery store" while another photo of a white man and a light skinned woman was captioned as" two residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store..." Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. made a point of faulting the media for its coverage of those victimized by the hurricane.

No one can say they didn't see it coming (Common Dreams, 09.01.05)

Iraq buries stampede dead as politicians point fingers (CS Monitor, 09.02.05)

Constitutional Crisis: The Iraqi charter is illegal. And disastrous. (American Prospect, 08.31.05)