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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Thought on Renewable Energy

In our need for renewable sources of energy,
We can always grow more corn,
But we can't kill any more dinosaurs...
No matter how hard Dick Cheney tries

-Noah Greenberg

The Inept & The Dead

FEMA is a "symbol of a bumbling bureaucracy"
-the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs investigation into the failures of defending the Gulf Coast against Hurricane Katrina

"The first obligation of government is to protect our people. In Katrina, we failed at all levels of government to meet that fundamental obligation."
-Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the chairwoman of the investigation

The government which Senator Collins speaks of is the United States Federal Government led by President George W. Bush and his administration of politicos, cronies and yes-men. The protection Ms. Collins speaks of is what was lacking in late August, 2005. That is when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and decimated a great American city, New Orleans, Louisiana.

"We must learn from the lessons of Katrina so that next time disaster strikes, whether it's a storm that was imminent and predicted for a long time, or a terror attack that takes us by surprise, government responds far more effectively."

We will never learn from Katrina because those who need to learn are just too darn stupid to learn; they're too darn arrogant to admit mistakes; and they're too darn inept to make sure the correct people are in the correct place at the correct time. At least this is the case during odd-numbered years. As my brother, the "W"-Lover puts it, "It's a good thing that Katrina didn't hit in 2004 or President Bush would have lost the election in a landslide." There is a part of me that thinks the response in the even-year, 2004, would have been quite different, and if you want proof, just look at the pictures of George and brother Jeb (Republican Govenor Jeb Bush of Florida) handing out food and supplies in Hurricane damaged Florida after (Hurricane) Frances. Maybe it was because Frances hit Jeb's state and the Bushes do look after each other. Maybe it's because more white people were affected than in New Orleans. The Bushes look at the polls which tell them that only one out of every ten African Americans voted for them in 2004. Whatever the reason, it has to be more than a coincidence.

All one has to do is to look at the archives of communication between Governor Kathleen Blanco (D-LA) and view the mountains of memos and emails sent from her and her office pleading for help from President Bush and his "Brownie, You're Diun'-A-Heck-Of-A-Job" led agency, FEMA (http://www.nola.com/katrina/view.ssf). As a reminder, on the day of the Hurricane, August 29, 2005, Brownie-the-Clownie was too busy having a scrumptious meal to be bothered and President "Georgie-Boy" was celebrating Senator John McCain's (R-AZ) birthday in the gila monster state.

President Bush's White House "still seemed detached until two days later,"
Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT), a member of the bi-partisan investigation, regarding his war-buddy GW's response to Katrina

Wow... If you lost Joe, who do you have left to turn to. Is Tony Snow around?

Katrina killed in excess of 1,300 people (many of them drowned) in part or entirely due to the Bush administration's ignoring of an Army Corp of Engineers report that recommended fixing the levees and making them Category 5 protection..

In their efforts to "spin", the "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party want us all to believe that FEMA has been a disaster from day one. That's nothing but a lie. FEMA, under the leadership of President Bill Clinton's choice to lead it, James Lee Witt, was transformed into one of this nation's leading agencies. Mr. Witt's position was a cabinet level position. Under George W. Bush, the position had been demoted and much of its work "farmed out" to profiteers who have "special interests" and major donors to the Republican party.


In 2001, Joe Albaugh, the man who managed the campaign of George W. Bush was named to replace Witt. It was the first decision of many bad decisions that GW would make regarding FEMA. The biggest was, of course, allowing Allbaugh to name his own replacement in his old college roommate Michael "Brownie" Brown.


Much like the Harriet Miers fiasco, Bush named a friend to an important position with little or no experience. In the case of Miers, smarter people prevailed. In the case of Allbaugh and Brown, thousands died.

''During my years as governor, I came to know Joe Allbaugh as an individual with extraordinary management capabilities who can be counted on in times of need. I have the utmost confidence in his abilities.''
-Bush on Allbaugh, 2001


Talk about the "kiss of death"!

FEMA was created by Democratic President Jimmy Carter in 1979 to combine and centralize the efforts of those who would combat hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, and other disasters, natural or man-made, when the time came and the need arose. It was, and still is a good idea. FEMA saw its stock fall (I'm use words Republicans can understand) by its failures in their lackluster response to the 1989 San Francisco earthquake and in 1992 in their response to Hurricane Andrew. In case you forgot, there was a president named Bush then, too. FEMA was revamped and improved starting immediately after new President Bill Clnton chose Arkansas' Emergency Management Association chief, James Lee Witt to be its new chief.

"After the agency was slow to respond to a string of disasters, including the Loma Prieta earthquake in the San Francisco Bay area in 1989 and Hurricane Andrew in 1992, its current director, James Lee Witt, set about an overhaul. That effort was so successful that both Mr. Bush and Vice President Al Gore went out of their way to praise FEMA during the campaign.
"The agency is 'absolutely a success story,' said John Clizbe, vice president of disaster services at the American Red Cross. Mr. Clizbe said he hoped the new FEMA chief would prove a strong leader, able to nurture relationships across the board, from local leaders to private relief groups."
-From Christopher Marquis' "Man in the News" article, "A Tough-Talking, but Self-Effacing, Loyalist; Joe Marvin Allbaugh" published in The New York Times, January 5, 2001
(Read the whole article at http://www.nationalview.org/FEMA010501.htm)

FEMA doesn't need to discarded... FEMA needs a man like James Lee Witt again.

The fault resulting from Katrina's aftermath lies directly with this administration's FEMA, which was taken under the broken and featherless wing of the Department of Homeland Security. It ends with a Bush administration that cares less about us regular people and more about appearances, big business and their ultra-rich "base" of "haves and have-mores". The only care that this set of thieves and incompetents have for the American middle class is how much more they can take from us before there are none of us left.

-Noah Greenberg

The Freedom Tower

It's time for the Bush administration to put up AND shut up, all at the same time. The new Freedom Tower is going to be put up on the site of the World Trade Center in New York city's Battery Park area. I want the whole world to experience the "Freedom" which we New Yorkers experienced on September 11, 2001, and I want the Bushites to back it.

Tear down the United Nations on the East Side of Manhattan and give the UN the top fifteen or twenty floors of the new Freedom Tower as their new home, with the very top floor reserved for the general assembly.

Larry Silverstein, the man who leased the World Trade Center from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey before 2001, had trouble leasing out much of the space in the WTC anyway, so why not lend him a hand and help him occupy the building that many of us wouldn't work in for twice the amount of money that we could earn somewhere else.

The United Nations is up for major repairs anyway, and those repairs will cost, at a minimum, over one billion dollars. Why not tear it down, sell the land in the single-hottest real estate market on the planet for a huge profit, instead? We could even use the proceeds to help fight world hunger; or to research renewable alternative fuels; or to fund stem cell research (yeah, like that's going to happen); or even to fund a brand new illegal Bush-war. The possibilities are endless.

A one-bedroom apartment in the area of the existing United Nations, an area full of residences, consulates and doctor's offices, demands a purchase price well in excess of $600,000 with the large majority of apartments costing in the millions

"Now selling: One bedroom co-op apartments in UN Towers (Catchy name, huh?); doorman; swimming pool and health club (nominal fee); parking (nominal fee); Views of the River and New York city; maintenace starting at only $2,000 per month"

Why, they'll sell like hotcakes!

Right now, there is a new building going up on the slightly less-desirable west side of Manhattan. Similar to the ad above, the sign says "Starting at $3 million and up". There should be a sign up next to it that reads "No, really... we're not kidding."

If there is going to be a target placed on someone's back in my town, let it be an international target where the whole world could display its rage if (or is it when?) the next terrorist attacks occurs.

It is nearly impossible to get in and out of Manhattan's east side during rush hours and nearly as impossible during the off-peak hours. A UN in the downtown west side will alleviate traffic all throughout New York City's midtown area.

Taking this idea a step further, the new location could be accessible from Newark's Liberty Airport by a new, "diplomats only" bridge from the very close Jersey City, New Jersey Coast. The bridge could serve a dual purpose of being used for the business of getting diplomats in and out of town in a hurry (just in case Osama bin-Laden's brothers are in town when the next bomb hits, their escape will be swift and unnoticed) and as an emergency causeway to help the injured out of town.

It's a win-win.

-Noah Greenberg

Rich & Poor


Just in case you were wondering why the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, here's an indicator:

The multimillion-dollar lobbying effort to repeal the federal estate tax has been aggressively led by 18 super-wealthy families, according to a report released today by Public Citizen and United for a Fair Economy at a press conference in Washington, D.C. The report details for the first time the vast money, influence and deceptive marketing techniques behind the rhetoric in the campaign to repeal the tax.

It reveals how 18 families worth a total of $185.5 billion have financed and coordinated a 10-year effort to repeal the estate tax, a move that would collectively net them a windfall of $71.6 billion.

The report, available at www.citizen.org, profiles the families and their businesses, which include the families behind Wal-Mart, Gallo wine, Campbell's soup, and Mars Inc., maker of M&Ms. Collectively, the list includes the first- and third-largest privately held companies in the United States, the richest family in Alabama and the world's largest retailer.

These families have sought to keep their activities anonymous by using associations to represent them and by forming a massive coalition of business and trade associations dedicated to pushing for estate tax repeal. The report details the groups they have hidden behind - the trade associations they have used, the lobbyists they have hired, and the anti-estate tax political action committees, 527s and organizations to which they have donated heavily.

-Reported and commented on by Victoria Brownworth

In regards to President Bush's new energy plans and "Where have you been, Mr. President?" Pat Thompson writes:

The Earth Day speech in California was a lie from beginning to end. And too little, too late.

When he explained about hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, and their non-polluting end product -- water -- I did scream at the TV. These were Al Gore's exact words in 2000, and in his 1992 book "Earth in the Balance". Why did these power hungry neo-cons steal that election, and the next, go to war in the middle east, give tax cuts to Big Oil, give tax credits for buying large SUV's and Hummers, persecute California for setting their own standards for both emissions and fuel efficiency -- and now, when it is so painfully obvious and so pitifully late, finally start at least talking about alternate energy vehicles??? Talk is cheap, Mr. President. We'll all be walking, and our economy will shut down before something of substance is done.

In response to "Dumb-Ya says that we are addicted to oil," Pat Thompson writes:

Bush is not only a pusher, he's at the top of the pyramid in the oil addiction profit business.

And in response to "Bush's latest initiative announced yesterday in California to lower environmental standards," Pat Thompson writes:

There is always an opportunity, in every calamity or tragedy or bad situation, to hide and push through some nefarious initiative. 9/11 gave them a huge free pass to get the provisions of the PATRIOT ACT passed. Katrina was an opportunity for a lot of pork, and billions to contractors who use migrant, illegal immigrant labor and mark it up 8000%. Forest fires gave them the opportunity to pass the Healthy Forests initiative, which gave logging companies free reign over our national forests. High fuel prices, giving oil companies record profits should not be an opportunity to lower emission standards. Is he crazy? Well, he gets away with this stuff all the time. But this time, every American who drives is being reminded whose side he is on.

In response to "Ha! Culture of Life my foot. Dumb-Ya is a damn liar," Pat Thompson writes:

That is for sure. He lives a lie, he is a lie, he can only tell lies. When will the rest of the American people catch on?

And in response to Bush's poll ratings "now at 32% approval rating in the latest CNN poll," Pat Thompson writes:

Be afraid, be very afraid. To raise his poll numbers and assure Republican victory in November, they will surely do something -- whether it is invade Iran, or engineering another 9/11, something to scare people will surely happen.

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-Noah Greenberg