Note From a Madman
Thursday, September 1, 2005
A Call to Action
What follows is a call to action. I would ask that you read it in its entirety because I believe that the information contained here will spur you forward as it has me.
As many of you know, I used to live and work in the city that is now the epicenter of the worst natural disaster in American history. New Orleans is imbedded in my heart and soul. it is a recurring presence in my writing and it is a shadow that follows me throughout me life. I love new Orleans.
And now I weep for her and for those for whom she has become a living hell.
I used to live in two of the places completely submerged by water, now, places where all that can be seen are desperate people or desperate animals or both running back and forth on rooftops screaming for the help that seems nowhere in sight.
This morning I began my day in prayer for the survivors and for the survivors of those who did not survive. and then I watched George bush on good morning America.
No one I have spoken to about new Orleans, even those generally not given to sentiment, has been unmoved by the absolute horror that is happening there. the abject, grinding, leveling horror.
Except George bush.
ABC anchor Diane sawyer, once a speechwriter for Richard Nixon, thus she has been in the company of evil before, kept asking bush again and again: "why didn't you come back from vacation?" "why hasn't there been aid sent yet?" "why are the mayor and governor saying it's all too slow?" (after all, the category five storm had been barreling down on the city for more than a week before it made landfall late Sunday night.) and on and on.
Behind the stumbling, inarticulate excuses and the unrelenting smirks lay a man with absolutely no sense of the enormity of either the tragedy or of his responsibility to try and make right what his appalling inaction had exacerbated into the very terrorism about which he talks so much.
As a reporter, as a journalist, as someone who has worked in various avenues of human rights for three decades, I have seen some awful things. I have images in my head that will never be erased. some of those images were implanted in my early days in the south. but the images of the last week have been a new and distinct horror. and it would take a true sociopath, I believe, to remain unmoved by what has been transpiring this week in new Orleans.
Yet George bush is unmoved.
His interview with sawyer, in which he urged patience and resolve---addressing thousands who had not had water or food SINCE SUNDAY --was bad. his handlers must have been grimacing throughout the hour. but his press conference later this afternoon was ever so much worse.
Bush reiterated his calls for patience, although he left out the brutal line he had delivered to sawyer earlier: "I know people wanted this done yesterday. but it's a big job."
As if he hadn't gotten around to a chore like mowing the white house lawn. as if people were not literally dying in the superdome, on the roof of Truro hospital a block from where I once lived, on rooftops in the ninth ward where I once worked with the poorest of new Orleans many, many poor. dying for lack of water and food in America, not Darfur. in America, an hour and a half from Washington by plane. not a half a world away in Africa.
The press conference reiterated the theme of patience and then got to the heart of his concern: rising oil and gas prices. of his eight minute speech, six were devoted to concerns over gas.
People are dying on the streets and on the rooftops of the city I love and the president, the man with the power to stop it, to staunch the arterial bleeding, is concerned over whether or not the SUVs will have enough gas to run.
I won't mince words here. I could not be more filled with rage. I am now declaring myself the Cindy Sheehan of this tragedy: George bush is allowing my beloved town to die a hideous, agonizing death. he is turning decent people whose only "crime" is their poverty and their race into anarchists. he is turning human beings--the elderly, small children, babies, mothers, the disabled--into waste, left where they died to be picked up later, perhaps, by some death cart out of the middle ages. he is rendering one of the most beautiful, historic, intoxicating places in this country into nothing more than an separating wound of misery and pain, chaos and death.
How can he--how can *we*--bear the suffering being inflicted on our fellow Americans?
There has to be a point where Americans refuse to allow this man to take any more lives through his laziness, his inaction, his greed, his callousness, his "agenda."
Katrina began the suffering, but bush has done nothing to salve it. this morning Sen.. Mary Landrieu said that between 12,000 and 16,000 were dead in new Orleans. I heard at least five reporters on five different newscasts today assert that they had watched people die--at Truro, at the superdome, in the French quarter, in the CDB. one veteran photojournalist from NBC who has covered many a horror went inside the superdome today and took video and recounted what he saw. no one in charge, a stench of dead bodies and raw sewage unimaginable, he said. one nurse among more than 20,000 people. no water. no food, no toilets. at the end, after watching a baby die, after pushing dead bodies out of his way, he broke down. he wept. he could not go on.
Where are the president's tears? I know mine have not stopped since Sunday when the catastrophe was inevitable. but where is that compassionate conservativism upon which he launched his presidential tenure?
Please, please, please: call the white house, call your senators, call any person whose name you know in Washington and protest this hideous and callous disregard for America's poorest, most helpless, most vulnerable people. demand that water be airlifted to the city NOW, that food be dropped NOW, that the dying be stopped NOW.
Bush has asserted since 9/11 that his raison d'etre is to keep terrorism from our shores.
Take a look at anarchy unleashed by despair and hopeless and fear and hunger and THIRST in new Orleans: that is terrorism on our shores and it was put there by bush's inaction. Katrina struck the city a powerful, near-fatal blow. but it has been the abandonment of the thousands too poor to leave that has turned the town lawless, that has escalated the dying.
Imagine not having water, food, sleep, a shower--even brushing your teeth or washing your face--for five looooooong days. and all the while you are holding the hand of your tiny child or sick parent or disabled neighbor or just rocking in your own quaking fear, isolated amidst thousands just as terrorized and desperate as you. and all the while you are wondering if there will be anything of your life left to go home to if you ever exit the hell you are now in.
That is the level of suffering that has driven the violence in new Orleans today. the majority of the looting has been brought about by suffering---the suffering wrought by Katrina and the suffering wrought by a lifetime of poverty. there may be some real villainy at hand there, in the roving gangs, in the scattered rapists. but that would be any day in any city, without the spur of so much chaos and misery.
For us, compassion for the victims must also be stoked by our rage at the failure of the bush administration to act in either a timely or even concerned fashion. have you ever seen--except in the visage of a dictator like Saddam Hussein--such utter lack of interest?
The head of FEMA, Michael Brown, spoke on the news tonight. when NBC anchor brain Williams asked him why none of the army helicopters could just drop water on pallets to the city, brown replied that he didn't know that there were peaceful (i.e., not looters) people waiting for water until that broadcast and he had urged his people to get them services immediately.
The head of the relief operations didn't know what everyone with a TV in the entire country knows? that thousands of people are dying of dehydration in America a stone's throw from where he sits?
Then fire him.
Please: be outraged, be as outraged as you would be if it were your city, your families, your homes, your lives. this is not a third world nation in which corrupt and violent leaders keep life-giving services from the starving and dying.
This is America, friends. a nation of incomparable wealth.
But this week new Orleans is indeed a third world city and the president has uttered not a single phrase of care or concern, just a revamping of his Iraq speeches about "staying the course" and "it will take years to rebuild."
But what about now?
The people dying in new Orleans AS YOU READ THIS do not have the luxury of time or equivocation, smirks or shrugs.
Be angry. get your friends angry. propel your anger into action because a terrorist attack could indeed befall us one day, augmented by bush's deadly foreign policies. should that fateful day occur, we will all become like the poor suffering masses of people in new Orleans who but for their poverty, are you or I.
Make your voices heard, please. demand action now. express just how appalled you are at the needless suffering, the needless dying.
And don't forget to give what you can to the relief efforts. we are so very fortunate it is not us--but it very well could be us one day with this man in the white house for three more years. let him know how you feel. now, today, before anyone else dies at his hands. before we become any more complicit in the blood he continues to spill.
Quotes Up Second
"Washington knew that this day could come at any time, and it knew the things that needed to be done to protect the citizens of New Orleans. But in the tradition of the riverboat gambler, the Bush administration decided to roll the dice on its fool's errand in Iraq, and on a tax cut that mainly benefited the rich. Now Bush has lost that gamble, big time."
-Will Bunch, a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News
"The president told us that we needed to fight in Iraq to save lives here at home. Yet -- after moving billions of domestic dollars to the Persian Gulf -- there are bodies floating through the streets of Louisiana. What does George W. Bush have to say for himself now? "
Let me guess - it's hard work, hard work ripping off the American people!
Let me put my 2 cents in. It appears the only one who didn't realize it was GE himself. Either that or he just doesn't care.- NG
"No one can say they didn't see it coming ... Now in the wake of one of the worst storms ever, serious questions are being asked about the lack of preparation."
-The New Orleans Times-Picayune, taken from multiple sources, regarding their series of articles on the cutting of the federal budget for New Orleans' levees and evacuation preparedness
-Forwarded by Jenny Hanniver
More nobodies, eh GW?- NG
"I gotta tell you something, we got five or six hundred letters before the show actually went on the air, and no one - no one - is saying the government is doing a good job in handling one of the most atrocious and embarrassing and far-reaching and calamitous things that has come along in this country in my lifetime. I'm 62. I remember the riots in Watts, I remember the earthquake in San Francisco, I remember a lot of things. I have never, ever, seen anything as bungled and as poorly handled as this situation in New Orleans. Where the hell is the water for these people? Why can't sandwiches be dropped to those people in the Superdome. What is going on? This is Thursday! This storm happened 5 days ago. This is a disgrace. And don't think the world isn't watching. This is the government that the taxpayers are paying for, and it's fallen right flat on its face as far as I can see, in the way it's handled this thing."
- Jack Cafferty
When a conservative such as Jack Cafferty blasts the Bush Administration, you know it stinks.
Let's face it - most of the guard, reserves and regular army are in Iraq along with their equipment. It was criminal neglect by the Bush administration that led to the levees bursting. Bush & company must be held accountable for this situation. Voters must remember that Republicans backed Bush's budget proposals that cut the necessary repair work!
I never thought I'd print Jack Cafferty's name in BLUE. -NG
In 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S. But the Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war.
No one could have seen this coming...
"Flood control has been a priority of this administration from Day One,"
-Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary
Really now, Scott. Then why did President Bush purpose a 13 percent cut to the Army Corp of Engineers in 2003, Scott? Why did he purpose another 7 percent cut this year?
Why aren't the Louisiana National Guard on their way home from Iraq and Afghanistan right now? They know the area. They're FROM the area. Why can't they help their neighbors and friends here at home? Don't you think that their heads may just be back home and not on their "mission" in Iraq? Why am I the only one asking that?
"I'm not saying that this would not have occurred in New Orleans in this situation. I am saying that there would have been less flooding if all the projects had been funded."
-Mike Parker, a former Mississippi congressman who was kicked out as the civilian head of the Army Corps of Engineers in 2002 after criticizing the Bush cuts to the Corp
I could just imagine the Bushies saying: "What does this guy know anyway. he has an ax to grind; he has a book to sell; he's not a team player. Isn't that right, Karl ('The Traitor' Rove)."
"Had we had the SELA (Southeast Louisiana Flooding) project finished ... we could more efficiently move the water out of the system because it's a big drainage project,"
-Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, commander of the Army Corps of Engineers
And this guy was trying to put a good face on the Bush administration's lack of funding.
"Those levees are OK under normal times but once every hundred years, that's not enough. We've all said for years that a category 4 or 5 hurricane hit just right on New Orleans, there was nothing there sufficient to prevent New Orleans from being 20 feet under water."
-Former Louisiana Sen. John Breaux (D)
We don't prepare for "normal days". We prepare for catastrophes. We examine mistakes so we don't make them again. We make predictions so we can prevent disasters, or at least minimalize them as best we can. We haven't had another plane hit a major US building in a few years, should we make our airports security more lax to save money now? Oh... wait... Bush did that, didn't he?
ARE WE JUST ALL SO FREAKING STUPID, OR WHAT!
When the evacuation started, and we all saw those lines of SUV's leaving suburban New Orleans, Why didn't GW fly some troop transports into New Orleans' airport to get the rest of the people out? Why weren't the Greyhound buses there prior to the Category 5 Hurricane's landfall?
WHAT IN GOD'S
NAME IS GOING ON HERE?
"Missing the personnel is the big thing in this particular event. We need our people,
-Lt. Andy Thaggard, a spokesman for the Mississippi National Guard, which has a brigade of more than 4,000 troops in central Iraq. Louisiana also has about 3,000 Guard troops in Baghdad.
"We're just losing too many out the back door,"
-Alabama Guard spokesman Norman Arnold, referring to worsening recruiting and retention problems that are putting a strain on Guard forces in hurricane-ravaged states. Alabama's Army National Guard has a strength of 11,000 troops -- or 78 percent of the authorized number.
"President Bush's wake-up call came awfully late. We are watching this devastation unfold on our televisions for days, and you have to ask: Where is the federal government? The National Guard's first priority must always be to protect people at home."
- Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
He was shooting par on the back nine of a golf course in Colorado, Senator Lautenberg. Where else would he be?
"Our citizens must understand this storm has disrupted the capacity to make gasoline and to distribute gasoline,"
-GW, in an attempt to explain away the 25- to- 50- percent rise in gas prices nationwide
Sell, sell, sell... Make sure your cronies can still make a buck no matter who is suffering, GW.
"G"lobal "W"arming Bush points to some obscure report that said Global Warming may not be caused solely by human actions. Bush ignored the overwhelming evidence that Global Warming was caused by human actions. People like Michael Crichton, in his book "State of Fear", tell US that Global Warming is not the cause of all these storms and hurricanes. They say that this happens every 33 years; or every 66 years; or every 100 years. Even if you take these "fictional writers" at their word, they still predicted this. Even if you believe the words of people like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, who blame homosexuals and sex shops for natural disasters, this was predicted.
If this is the case, then it should have been prepared for. It wasn;t.
"I don't think anybody could have anticipated a breach in the levees,"
-"G"lobal "W"arming Bush
Not ANYBODY... It was EVERYBODY GW. It appears that GW and his administration is "shocked" again.
All we're missing is the "awe".
-Noah Greenberg with Robert Scardapane
...We Beg to Differ
In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to this Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans CityBusiness:
The $750 million Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Protection project is another major Corps project, which remains about 20% incomplete due to lack of funds, said Al Naomi, project manager. That project consists of building up levees and protection for pumping stations on the east bank of the Mississippi River in Orleans, St. Bernard, St. Charles and Jefferson parishes.
The Lake Pontchartrain project is slated to receive $3.9 million in the president's 2005 budget. Naomi said about $20 million is needed.
"The longer we wait without funding, the more we sink. I've got at least six levee construction contracts that need to be done to raise the levee protection back to where it should be (because of settling). Right now I owe my contractors about $5 million. And we're going to have to pay them interest."
"It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us."
-Walter Maestri, emergency management
chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, to the Times-Picayune, June 8, 2004,
-From http://alternet.org/story/24871/, forwarded by Robert Scardapane
A Fox Guy is "Touched"
Shepard Smith is overcome by what he sees on the ground in New Orleans. He appears to be truly humbled by what he sees. Here is a brief exchange between Smith and Bill O'Reilly, also of Fox News, the O'Reilly Factor and the O'Reilly radio factor:
SMITH: (Still in obvious shock) In my wildest imagination, bill, I cannot envision this city ever being rebuilt.
O'REILLY: (Condescending and dismissive, cutting Smith off) It'll be rebuilt.
SMITH: You haven't seen this, Bill.
The report went on. Seeing Bill O'Reilly as he truly is, a man with no empathy whatsoever, is eye-opening, to say the least. Earlier in the report, O'Reilly threw the blame toward the Louisiana state government and the New Orleans Mayor's office, leaving out the Bush administration althogether:
"The Louisiana Government and authorities could have been more prepared"
-O'Reilly, on The O'Reilly Factor
Maybe they would have been more prepared if "G"lobal "W"arming Bush and the "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party hadn't cut the budget from the Army Corp of Engineers when they asked for more money to protect New Orleans from faulty levees; when they asked to complete a $4 million dollar study that could have helped prevent much of the torment in the Crescent City now. O'Reilly had no comments about the funding cuts by the Bush administration that were designed to build better levees and plan for the inevitable.
But it's good to know where Bill O'Reilly's head is at during all of this:
"I hope you win the highest journalism award ever."
-O'Reilly, in closing to Shepard Smith
Lobby early... Lobby often, Bill.
While Air America Radio's Sam Seder (at the top of the hour, 7PM ET) was speaking about ways to help those in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, Mark Taylor, substituting for Michael Reagan (the son of President Ronald Reagan) was interviewing a former Allstate employee who wrote a letter telling US all the ills of gay marriage.
While Air America Radio's priorities were to help their fellow man, the good Christians of "America Right" (one of XM Satellite's many Conservative Stations) were changing the subject and ignoring their fellow man.
Somehow the words "Drop Dead" entered my head.
Dumbest question of the day goes to Rita Crosby (formerly of Fox News, but, now that she gained a few pounds, she's on MSNBC, or as we call it Fox Lite) who asked a Louisiana Senator, David Vitter (R):
"What is the frame of mind of the people you talked to?"
In response to Fox News and their "pundits" like Mort Kondrake who said, "Bush actually exceeded the Clinton record this time. He declared the emergency in advance in all of these states, so that they can get...", Robert Scardapane writes:
Mort Kondracke as usual just doesn't get it. The rest of the Faux News commentators need to read their respective religious books. All religions preach charity and mercy! Now, is not the time to quarrel about how much will disaster relief cost - it's time for action. Hey Faux News pundits - take out your check books and send money to the Red Cross now.
Let me try to help confused Mort. Bush had to declare an emergency because he needs to call in military assets. Why? Because most of the national guard in these states is in Iraq along with all of the equipment that could have been used in this disaster - helicopters for instance! That is why the disaster relief is moving at a snail's pace. The Republicans took a big chance with American lives - both in Iraq and domestically. Now, the people of the Gulf States are paying a steep prices for the lack of Republican support.
Of course, the chief pundits of the (G)reed (O)ver (P)eople party are concerned about how much will it cost them! This is the problem with modern day Republicans - they localize empathy. I sure hope for their families sake that they at least treat them well.
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