Another Madman EXTRA
Saturday, September 3, 2005
Today's Note From a Madman usually comes out Monday thru Thursday, while Weekend Madman is sent out Sunday night. This is another Madman Extra, just to keep up. -NG
Heard on CNN's Larry King Live, Saturday Night, General H. Stephen Blum (another guy without a first name), after putting the onus on the governments of Louisiana and New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina saying that "they are in charge", Blum told everyone listening "If you like what you see, if you want to be a part of this, then call 1-800-GO-GUARD."
Then They'll send your ass to Iraq.
Unbelievable! - Part 2
M E M O R A N D U M
From: Grover G. Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform
To: Members of the United States Senate
Re: Death Tax Repeal/Katrina
In light of this week’s tragic hurricane in Louisiana, some politicians have suggested that tax cuts in general and death tax repeal specifically should not move forward. This is a similar argument which was made following the Iraq War and the 2003 tax cut. That analysis turned out to be very wrong. In March 2003, the United States Senate voted on a number of amendments to reduce the budget window of President Bush’s Jobs and Growth Tax Reconciliation Act. Opponents’ efforts to cut the size of the tax cut package were narrowly defeated the week before. But with the campaign in Iraq entering its third week and fresh cost estimates of more than $70 billion released Monday morning, Sen. John Breaux (D-LA) proposed an amendment to the budget to redirect $396 billion of the tax cut into a “reserve fund” to strengthen Social Security. The measure narrowly passed and the President’s tax cut was reduced by more than half.
In retrospect, this “half a tax cut” generated an additional $238 billion of economic growth over two years than was forecasted by the Congressional Budget Office four months after the tax cut was signed into law. To put this in perspective, these higher levels of economic growth translated into an additional $1,960 per American household. At the same time, $4 trillion of new shareholder wealth has been created and 4 million new jobs have been added to the American workforce. The result is higher than expected tax revenues which are $112 billion above the Congressional Budget Office August 2003 baseline.
Now imagine how much more growth, investment, jobs, and wealth would have been created if the Senate passed the entire package put forth by President Bush. The 2003 tax cut is instructive to the recent tragic events. Opponents of permanent repeal of the Death Tax are attempting to exploit this tragedy to put off a vote. Proof that they are exploiting this tragedy is that they were never for repeal of the Death Tax in the first place. They were against this proposal six years ago, five years ago, four years ago, three years ago, two years ago, and two weeks ago.
By stalling the vote they believe that the issue will not fit in the calendar on a later date. The 2003 tax cut lifted economic growth far beyond what most people expected. We know repeal of the Death Tax will also have a similar effect. And higher levels of economic growth is exactly what the residents of the Gulf Region need at this time to start the rebuilding process for their neighborhoods and more importantly for their lives.
"We have two competing world views in American politics. The first says that government cannot help people. That government must be as small as possible, and exists only to provide security from external enemies. The other says that government can be a force for good and can help make people's lives better.
This week, we are seeing the effects of the lack of government. The American people are seeing what happens when the GOP worldview is dominant. We've talked about the two disasters -- the hurricane itself, which was unavoidable, and the response to the hurricane and lack of leadership, which was.
"We are seeing a third disaster -- the conservative world view itself, crashing and burning as reality meets ideology. Where government programs are slashed in the name of Norquist's drownable government, only to see an entire major city wiped off the face of the map as a result."
And this is why these "globalists" are the most dangerous men and women the world has ever known. Individually, they are scary. Together, and in power, they are disastrous.
-Noah Greenberg, forwarded by Robert Scardapane
Unbelievable! - Part 3
(FEMA Head Michael) 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 interviewer, doing a wonderful job, was trying to pin him down about
conditions at the convention center.
the nerve to refer to the conditions as rumors,
and the host did not let him get away with that, and
Chertoff finally had to say that he would investigate and if true would send
Imagine -- the rest of us all knew about it.
Anderson Cooper on
also blew a gasket at Sen. from LA who was thanking the politicians and the
pres., and he said enough of that, look at what's happening here, the people
don't want to hear thanks for the politicians, they need help right now.
Just incredible, unbelievable. I also heard an interview on NPR this evening with
As we used to say in Brooklyn, "Forgetaboutit" - Just about everything the "Gang of Bush" and the "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party "faithful" say is "FREAKIN' UNBELIEVABLE".
Did This Really Happen? - Part 2
I just read that 700 Hyatt guests and employees were ushered in ahead of the Superdome folks already in line for a bus ride out of town. As they say, let them eat cake.
Evacuees Question Preferential Treatment
"The evacuation onto buses bound for Texas was interrupted briefly to allow 700 guests and employees from the adjacent New Orleans Hyatt Hotel to move to the head of the evacuation line and board school buses."
-Various News Outlets,
including KTVU, Channel 5 in Cincinnati, WNBC-TV, etc
"How does this work? They are clean, they are dry, they get out ahead of us?"
-Howard Blue, an evacuee
I guess this REALLY DID HAPPEN after all.- NG
Guardsmen Halt Evacuation at Superdome
By MARY FOSTER
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - National Guard members halted the evacuation of the Superdome early Saturday after buses transporting the refugees of Hurricane Katrina stopped rolling. About 2,000 people remained in the stadium and could be there until Sunday, according to the Texas Air National Guard. They had hoped to evacuate the last of the crowd before dawn Saturday.
Guard members said they were told only that the buses had stopped coming and to close down the area where the buses were loaded.
``We were rolling,'' Capt. Jean Clark said. ``If the buses had kept coming, we would have this whole place cleaned out already or pretty close to it.''
The remaining refugees remained orderly, sitting down after hearing the news.
-Forwarded by Many Sources
KATRINA & BUSH DECIMATE GULF
by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2005 Journal-Register Newspapers, Inc.
There is nothing but suffering, now, suffering on a massive, terrible scale unseen since the December 2004 tsunami in the Pacific. But this disaster is at home, not half a world away. At press time more than a million people were displaced by Hurricane Katrina, more than 70,000 homes were underwater and the damage estimates had peaked $30 billion–the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.
In New Orleans and its surrounding parishes (counties), in Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi and in sections of Alabama, the devastation wrought by Katrina is immense and by all accounts it will only get worse before it gets better.
At press time, four of the levees that protect New Orleans from the waters of Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River had been breached; incomparably slow action by the federal government has made mending the breaks nearly impossible. Water continues to flood the city; 70 percent of New Orleans is below sea level which means once the water is in, there is no way to get it out if the levees are breached. The generators that pump the water out pump into Lake Pontchartrain–the very lake now flooding the city.
New Orleans, one of the nation's most beautiful and historic towns, is now, according to Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, uninhabitable. She ordered mandatory evacuation of the entire city on August 31st, commandeering fleets of buses to get remaining residents out.
Blanco's order followed the August 27th evacuation order by Mayor Ray Nagin that undoubtedly saved thousands of lives. By August 26th it was apparent that the Category 5 hurricane would neither lessen in intensity nor veer off course. New Orleans would indeed be hit directly by the storm and as Nagin noted in a press conference on August 26th, Katrina was "the big one, the real deal" that New Orleanians had been fearing and dreading for years. The Mayor was unequivocal: Everyone capable of leaving had to evacuate immediately.
Within hours 80 percent of the city's half-million population were on the road along with another 100,000 from surrounding counties. Another 20,000 were sent to the city's huge sports arena, the Superdome, for emergency shelter and a few thousand others were sheltered by the Red Cross in various other smaller shelters. Still others in areas away from the immediate threat of the Gulf stayed home. More than 4,000 of those people have been rescued from their rooftops in recent days by the Coast Guard.
There are no clear statistics yet on the number of dead but the count is already higher than that of any storm in 40 years. At least 120 have been killed in Biloxi which Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour likened to Hiroshima after he viewed the area on August 31st.
No one is counting the dead in New Orleans where bodies float through the water; the emphasis by Nagin and Blanco is on evacuating and saving the living. But the toll is expected to be high; no one is yet able to check the flattened or flooded houses where people may not have been able to escape in time. However, without Nagin's strong action, the number of dead, the level of catastrophe, would surely have been incalculable.
Unfortunately for the residents of New Orleans, federal inaction may have made disaster more monumental than it might have been. Both Blanco and Nagin have expressed their distress at the slowness of the Bush Administration and the Army Corps of Engineers in particular to address the catastrophe or to proffer help prior to the hurricane.
It wasn't until August 30th that President Bush finally decided to cut his five-week vacation, the longest in presidential history, short by a few days to return to Washington to address the impact of Katrina. Yet his first action upon his return was to release oil reserves to lower the price of crude oil. More than 30 percent of American oil is pumped out of the Gulf Coast and Katrina has shut down a significant percentage of that pumping ability.
But market analysts noted August 31st that the move was "merely cosmetic" and would do nothing to address the real problem of soaring gas prices, which is a shortage of actual gasoline–a refinery problem, not a crude oil shortage issue.
Nor, of course, did Bush's action do anything to address the monumentality of the disaster and suffering along the Gulf.
Many will recall that last year when far less powerful hurricanes hit Florida (a stumping ground for Bush's election campaign and home to his brother, Gov. Jeb Bush), Bush commandeered immediate aid and was even seen in photo ops distributing water to victims.
The election is over, but new victims remain in dire straits. With no water, food, plumbing, electricity or phone service, the residents of New Orleans and other hard-hit areas are in a state of panic and distress not seen in the U.S. in more than 40 years, since Hurricane Camille. On August 30th, Nagin declared martial law in New Orleans in an effort to control looting and other dangers impacting the city which is now reaching a point of utter lawlessness in the midst of the fear and misery.
Hindsight might be 20/20 but it didn't take hindsight to know that preparation *before* Katrina struck New Orleans was demanded and that the Bush Administration should have taken preventative action. The storm surge had been predicted at between 18 and 28 feet days prior to the actual landfall: the levees would only protect against a 15 foot surge. Why wasn't sandbagging ordered by the President and facilitated by the Army Corps of Engineers in the days before the storm? It could have been done then with a relative ease impossible now as the waters rage through the breaks in the levee system.
Where was the National Guard? The job of the Guard has always been to protect on the home front (hence their name) in times of domestic disaster and strife. But currently more than 80 percent of National Guard troops are serving in Iraq, unavailable to do the job they signed up for–protecting the U.S. *at home.* There are National Guard troops on hand in New Orleans now, but they are a vastly diminished crew in a city now literally going under.
Nor at press time, days after Katrina struck, had the President spoken publicly about the disaster–either to express his concern for the victims or to address the looming problem as yet unspoken: More than one million Americans from the impacted areas are now homeless and jobless. One newspaper editorial decried the looting and chided those who had stayed in the New Orleans, but it failed to note the obvious: Those still in the city were too poor to leave. In New Orleans, more than a third of the residents live below the poverty level. The poorest New Orleanians, those in the Ninth Ward, live south of Lake Pontchartrain, in the lowest part of the city. When the levees were breached, the flood waters covered most of the houses there, forcing those who survived to their rooftops. And these residents are also the ones too poor to have insurance; they are now homeless and destitute. More than 700,000 people in the affected region surrounding New Orleans and in Biloxi and Gulfport live in mobile homes, many now decimated.
New Orleans is one of the top ten most poverty-stricken cities in the U.S. according to a CNN report on August 31st and those remaining in the city are its poorest residents, nearly all African American, about 50 percent of whom are children, the elderly and the disabled. About 20 percent of these people are without any means of transportation out of town.
New Orleans poverty level expanded post- Katrina to include a majority of New Orleanians who are now wandering aimlessly about the South, looking for places to stay, many without the financial or other resources to remain in such a limbo for more than a few days.
However, they cannot come home. On August 31st, Nagin ordered residents to stay away from the city, following Blanco's evacuation of remaining residents. Nagin was succinct when he spoke to reporters August 31st: "We are looking at 12 to 16 weeks before people can come in," Nagin asserted. On September 1st buses began taking thousands to Houston's abandoned Astrodome for temporary shelter. Looting may look like a problem on the evening news, but even Gov. Blanco seemed unconcerned about that. At present the Red Cross is sheltering more than 50,000 residents along the Gulf; that number is expected to expand exponentially within days.
The real terror in New Orleans lies not in the lawlessness of poor people stealing from abandoned shops, but in the water itself that has flooded the city. The heat combined with the debris, sewage and dead bodies has made the city a huge Petri dish for disease. The mosquitoes, always a huge problem in the swampy, sub-tropical climate, will now have miles and miles of breeding ground. In addition, New Orleans is already being invaded by the wildlife that follows big storms: snakes, many poisonous, and alligators.
Nagin noted, "Another issue that's concerning me is we have dead bodies in the water. At some point in time the dead bodies are going to start to create a serious disease issue."
Blanco hopes that in evacuating the remaining residents–"We will be either loading them by boat, helicopter, anything that is necessary"–attempts to save the city will be unhampered by concerns for citizens still in need. Days later than requested by both Blanco and Nagin, Army engineers are finally attempting to plug the levees with giant sandbags and concrete barriers. But as Blanco made clear, at this point so far after the fact, "The challenge is an engineering nightmare." Even when the levees are fixed, the Army Corps of Engineers estimates it will take another month to drain the water from the city. That delay will make the houses and other structures currently impacted by the flooding uninhabitable.
Adding to concerns is the city's water system. Should the flood water rise by even a few more feet, New Orleans's homeland security chief, Terry Ebbert, cautions that the flooding could wipe out the water system for the whole city.
At press time the Pentagon had begun preparing a huge rescue operation. Four Navy ships will be sent to the Gulf with water and emergency supplies. Search helicopters and eight swift-water rescue teams will add to the Coast Guard teams in place, commandeered by the Governor, since before Katrina struck.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is currently considering housing Gulf refugees on cruise ships, in tent cities, mobile home parks and floating dormitories–boats the agency uses to house its own employees.
The question now, with more than one million people displaced in three states, is what will the President do to ameliorate a situation made so much worse by his failure to aid in preventative measures prior to the hurricane. What will be done for all these people without shelter, food, water, medical care and the basic necessities of life?
And what does the lack of preparedness on the part of the Bush Administration for a natural disaster in which there was at least a week's warning suggest for a possible terrorist attack? If all of America's available resources are being directed toward the war on terror, what happens when domestic crises simulating a terrorist attack occur? Who cares for U.S. citizens while the President vacations and ignores the impending disaster?
In the months to come Katrina will be referred to repeatedly as a "natural" disaster. But Americans need to remember that global warming has created the atmosphere for such high-intensity storms (the storms build exponentially, as Katrina did, over warm water), that there is always advance warning for hurricanes and that the government–in this case, the Bush Administration–bears responsibility for protecting the citizenry from catastrophe.
In the wake of this disaster there is aid to be given but also hard questions to be asked. Bush failed the citizens in Louisiana and Mississippi in this disaster. If Bush continues to ignore America's exacerbation of global warming (the U.S. is the world's largest contributor to that problem), there will be more storms like Katrina, here and elsewhere.
We must aid the victims now, but we must also do all we can to avert similar disasters in the future and protect others from the extremes of suffering plaguing New Orleans today.
Relief Organizations for Katrina victims:
Red Cross: 1-800-HELP-NOW or https://http://www.redcross.org/
Episcopal Relief &Development: 1-800-334-7626 or http://www.er-d.org/
United Methodist Committee on Relief: 1-800-554-8583 or http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor/emergency/hurricanes/2005/
Salvation Army: 1-800-SAL-ARMY or http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/
Catholic Charities: 1-800-919-9338 or http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/ FEMA Charity tips: http://www.fema.gov/rrr/help2.shtm
National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster: http://www.nvoad.org/
Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: http://www.la-spca.org/
THE LAVENDER TUBE: SURVIVOR–NEW ORLEANS
By Victoria A. Brownworth
Oh the horror, the horror.
For well over a week it has been the only news: On every channel, on every newscast, on special prime-time magazine reports, on the entertainment shows, even on sports. Hurricane Katrina and the nightmare in New Orleans.
We had expected to devote this column to the new fall lineup premiering September 21st (CBS's *Survivor–Guatemala* premieres earlier, September 15th), but the worst natural disaster in American history has trumped anticipation of a new season of ABC's *Lost* or the thrilling new CBS series *Threshold,*ABC's *Invasion* or UPN's Chris Rock sit-com about his childhood (it's definitely not *Fat Albert*).
What alien invaders, after all, could be more chilling than the scenes out of New Orleans this past week?
Katrina is already the costliest national disaster in America history, with ABC putting damage estimates over $100 billion. And unless every newscast has it wrong, unless the short history of hurricanes delivered by ABC's *Prime-Time* September 2nd was totally off-course, when the bodies are finally counted, Katrina will have been the most deadly hurricane to ever hit the U.S., trumping even the hurricane that destroyed Galveston, Texas in 1900, killing 7,000 people.
The body count from Katrina is expected to be between 10,000 and 50,000. But on CNN, Wolf Blitzer interviewed Shea Penland from the University of New Orleans whose team has been computer modeling this disaster. The model predicts that one third of the some 250,000 people who stayed in New Orleans were killed.
The horrifying numbers aren't the only body count, however. TV continues to show other victims. On Univision and Telemundo, the Spanish word being used for the victims is *damnificados*–those damned by fate. Watching this disaster unfold on TV over the past ten days, *damnificados* seems exactly the word. Damned by geography, poverty and race.
ABC and CNN reported on September 3rd that there are now more than 1.3 million people displaced by Katrina: the entire populations of New Orleans and Slidell, Louisiana, about a third of Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi. The town of Pass Christian, which once sat between those two Mississippi towns is no more–wiped off the map by Katrina.
According to BBC's September 3rd news report (when, a full week after the storm hit, thousands still remained to be evacuated to the incredulity of the reporters and despair of those still in New Orleans and thousands more were still trapped on rooftops), the U. S. has almost as many refugees caused by Katrina as there are residents of Manhattan. There are, according to that report, *11 states with fewer residents that there are people displaced by Katrina.*
We have said this before: TV makes such events real to us safe at home. Not since the coverage of 9/11 has TV had such a horror to transmit to its American audience and not since 9/11 has it done such a stellar job.
In descending order of perfection, top honors go to NBC, ABC and CNN for the best news reporting *ever.* These three didn't just pre-empt regular programming for disaster coverage, they made the news themselves in many cases: saving lives, reuniting lost children with frantic parents, getting medical care to the injured and dying. A CNN reporter saved the life of Hardy Jackson in Biloxi, who was clinging to a tree, his wife of 29 years already swept away when the floodwaters split their house in two. One veteran cameraman recorded the hell inside the N.O. Convention Center, alerting FEMA officials–who pleaded ignorance–to the existence of thousands without food or water, surrounded by dead and dying. He witnessed a baby die of dehydration and wept, unable to continue. An NBC reporter tried to get help for an injured family stranded on a rooftop; but by September 3rd, they still hadn't been rescued and had no food or water.
Over and over again what made TV coverage of this disaster so unique was the fact that reporters were where the federal agencies pledged to avert disaster were *not,* which has become a news story as big as Katrina herself.
The storm hit the Gulf Coast the night of August 28th, two days after it killed 15 and caused untold damage in Florida. President Bush didn't return from vacation August 30th; there is news footage of him partying with Republican cronies on August 29th as if the storm had not already decimated New Orleans. Bush gave his first press conference late on August 30th: eight minutes, of which 47 seconds were devoted to stiff-upper-lip, we-will-rebuild rhetoric; five and a half minutes to gas and oil prices and Alan Greenspan and the remaining time spent passing the buck–literally–for disaster relief to the American people via a fund-raising team led by former Presidents Bush and Clinton. (Clinton looked stunned by Bush's insensitive response, as, it must be noted, did Bush, Sr.)
August 31st Bush gave an exclusive interview to ABC's Diane Sawyer on *Good Morning America.* Sawyer asked hard questions in her softly probing way wondering if the President should have returned from vacation when he knew the storm would hit New Orleans as a Category 5. Bush demurred, noting that he understood people "wanted help yesterday" it was now four days into the disaster) but they "had to be patient." Then he added this astonishing statement: "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."
Newscasts were quick to enumerate just how big a "mis-speaking" that statement was. As ABC, NBC, CNN, PBS, CBS, Univision and even FOX reported, anticipation that the levees would be breached had begun more than a decade ago when Clinton initiated wetlands preservation to help preserve the Delta.
*Nightline* revealed that FEMA reports indicated, "A Category 4 or Category 5 hurricane could generate a 20-foot surge that would easily overwhelm the levees of New Orleans" and "In early 2001, FEMA issued a report stating that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the US, including a terrorist attack on New York City. But by 2003 the federal funding for the flood control project essentially dried up as it was drained into the Iraq war."
Bush finally toured the Gulf Coast on September 2nd three days after New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin sent out a desperate "S.O.S" for "someone, anyone to please, help us." Nagin's contempt for the lack of response from Bush and FEMA was succinct in an interview September 1st televised nationwide. With many words bleeped by TV censors, Nagin asserted, "They don't have a clue what's going on down here. They flew down here one time two days after the doggone event was over with TV cameras, AP reporters, all kind of [bleep]-- excuse my French-- I am pissed." Nagin said he told Bush "We had an incredible crisis here and that his flying over in Air Force One does not do it justice ... I have been all around this city and that I am very frustrated because we are not able to marshal resources and we are out-manned in just about every respect." Nagin added that the U.S. could get help to other nations "in a day" but help had yet to arrive to New Orleans after five.
Nagin has been credited with saving at least half a million lives by ordering a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans on August 27th.
Nevertheless, the hundreds of thousands who remained–too poor and too sick to escape–have, on telecast after telecast, become victimized yet again by government officials. Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff told NBC's *Today* show that "The critical thing was to get people out of there before the disaster. Some people chose not to obey that order. That was a mistake on their part."
FEMA director Michael Brown, whose firing has been called for by New Orleans officials for his incompetence in dealing with the tragedy, also blamed the victims on *Nightline's* September 1st.
"Don't you have a TV? Haven't you seen what's going on in New Orleans?" the usually composed Koppel fairly yelled at Brown. Brown's unfazed response was that "people should have left." Koppel was apoplectic, explaining the depths of the poverty of the survivors in New Orleans: "They had no way *to* leave.!" Koppel added, "It's four days into this disaster and you're still talking about what you are *going" to do." Brown said, "We're going to make this right," to which Koppel exploded, "With all due respect, sir, some of these people are *dead* from dehydration. How can you make it right for them?"
On September 2nd–nearly a week after the storm hit–officials had begun to blame Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco for "not making a request for aid." But as one congressman from Louisiana noted on *Nightline,* expressing his own frustration, the Office of Homeland Security is responsible for all national emergencies now. "If she didn't fill out the right form, too bad. Look at the TV–and get help immediately."
The USS Comfort won't arrive in New Orleans, he added, until September 15th.
Koppel was not alone in his outrage. Reporters were continually stunned by what they saw. *Nightline's* Chris Bury, with his pale, Irish complexion and red hair, has had searing sunburn since his arrival in New Orleans August 28th, his physical discomfort obvious. But his September 2nd report showed the usually unflappable reporter on the verge of a meltdown as he toured the as-yet *still* unevacuated Convention Center which he described as the closest thing to hell he'd ever seen. "Unbearable conditions," he nearly cried out. NBC's Stone Phillips, *Dateline's* host and senior correspondent and the most stolid man in TV news as his name implies, seemed shattered by the scenes, having to cut to commercial more than once.
And indeed, who among us can forget the images of women and children screaming, of men–even police–in tears, shaking their heads in despair? One thin young man held a tiny, almost lifeless baby aloft and screamed at the cameras that his baby needed *something* or it was going to die. Two women were screaming about the rape of a child they had witnessed in the Convention Center. Hoda Kotb of NBC held a woman who had chopped out the roof of her home, getting her two sons and dog to safety, only to have her two-year-old lost in the crowd finally being evacuated at the Superdome. Another woman, a nurse, was the only medical professional among 20,000 at the Convention Center. "I can't do *anything* without supplies," she cried. "I haven't slept since Sunday." It was Thursday.
The only thing reporters couldn't bring viewers was the stench, which each described as "unimaginable" and the fear, which individual survivors made palpable.
The visceral immediacy of the TV reportage of this incomparable human misery and pain made the whole world question why, in the world's most powerful nation, *Americans*–not Darfurians, not Iraqis, not people the viewers were unfamiliar with a world away but *fellow Americans*–were being treated so abysmally, literally being allowed to die in the streets, the only solicitude coming from reporters and fellow survivors. As a 10-year-old girl in New Jersey who went door to door on September 2nd collecting money for the victims (she raised $900 for the Red Cross) told a reporter: "Well, nobody seems to be helping them. I thought we could buy them some water and some food."
Hip-hop artist and multi-Grammy winner Kanye West expressed his rage from New York during the relief concert aired live on the East Coast on NBC, MSNBC, CNBC and PAX on September 2nd: "George Bush doesn't care about black people." He asserted that delays in relief were deliberate and that the government was set up "to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible."
West also reiterated comments made on the previous day's *Nightline*and *Dateline* about the portrayal of black survivors and looters and white survivors as desperate. "I hate the way they portray us [blacks] in the media. If you see a black family, it says they're looting. See a white family, it says they're looking for food."
NBC decried West's statements, saying he "departed from the scripted comments that were prepared for him, and his opinions in no way represent the views of the networks." Yet earlier in the day the Congressional Black Caucus had held a press conference in which West's words were simply stated in a less raw fashion. "America was given a test, and we failed that test, "noted one congresswoman.
Another relief concert will be held on September 9th on all major networks and celebrities are making pleas for the Red Cross in TV spots hourly.
Meanwhile, other celebrities are doing their part to help. On Sept. 3rd Atlanta Falcons running back Warrick Dunn told *Good Morning America* "I'm challenging guys on every NFL team, except the [New Orleans] Saints, to donate at least $5,000 to help people come back from this catastrophe." *GMA* noted that yield $8 million dollars. Baltimore Ravens cornerback Deion Sanders echoed the request. And NBC's Ellen DeGeneres, a New Orleans native whose family–mother, aunts, cousins-- has lost their homes and everything else in the disaster, issued her on tearful plea on *ET* September 3rd. She's hoping to raise $1.5 million on her show next week.
This story will be TV's major theme for a long time, despite the new season looming. (We'll catch you up with that next column.) Nor will the questions raised by the failure of the President and FEMA to act go away–the media were there when no one else was and so were some others. Harry Connick, Jr. chartered a plane to tour his hometown two days before Bush arrived and reported for NBC, then set up the relief concert with Wynton Marsalis. The whole world watched this tragedy in disbelief and horror, saw thousands crying into the cameras pleading desperately for help that came too little and too late.
What happens next will impact more than the survivors. As one survivor noted on September 3rd as she was still waiting for evacuation: "I think we'll all go to heaven. Because we've already lived through hell." Stay tuned.
Bush's Criminal Misuse Of The National Guard
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson offered Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco help from his state's National Guard on Sunday, the day before Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. Blanco accepted, but paperwork needed to get the troops en route didn't come from Washington until late Thursday.
California troops just began arriving in Louisiana on Friday, three days after flood waters devastated New Orleans and chaos broke out.
In fact, when New Orleans' levees gave
way to deadly flooding on Tuesday, Louisiana's
National Guard had received help from troops in only three other
states: Ohio, which had nine people in Louisiana then; Oklahoma, 89; and
Texas, 625, figures provided by the National Guard show.
I read this in the NY Times this morning and literally leaped out of seat. They were waiting for paperwork for four days knowing that a major storm was going to hit the area and that there is not enough national guard.
Bush said that there is no reason we can't recover from this disaster and continue the war in Iraq. To that I say "horsefeathers":
-No one can not be in two places at the same time.
-The national guard's effectiveness has been destroyed. They can't get new people to enlist because of Iraq.
-1/2 of the national guard's equipment is in Iraq - helicopters and vehicles that can drive through water.
This is criminal plain and simple!
FEMA - A Private Enterprise
I wonder how many people realize that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was privatized by Bush. Crooks and Liars reports that Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) called for FEMA Director Mike Brown to be fired in January.
The head of FEMA has no background at all in emergency management. Mike Brown was an estate lawyer in Colorado until Bush tapped him for FEMA after 2001. Specifically, he was a counsel for the International Arabian Horse Association Legal Department!
This is why FEMA is so ineffective. Can you imagine what would happen if there is another major terrorist attack in this nation now that Bush privatized FEMA? Bush claims his job is to protect the nation. I submit that he has failed completely and deserves a pink slip.
A Really Bad Speech
Published: September 1, 2005
George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast. He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end.
We will, of course, endure, and the city of New Orleans must come back. But looking at the pictures on television yesterday of a place abandoned to the forces of flood, fire and looting, it was hard not to wonder exactly how that is going to come to pass. Right now, hundreds of thousands of American refugees need our national concern and care. Thousands of people still need to be rescued from imminent peril. Public health threats must be controlled in New Orleans and throughout southern Mississippi. Drivers must be given confidence that gasoline will be available, and profiteering must be brought under control at a moment when television has been showing long lines at some pumps and spot prices approaching $4 a gallon have been reported.
Sacrifices may be necessary to make sure that all these things happen in an orderly, efficient way. But this administration has never been one to counsel sacrifice. And nothing about the president's demeanor yesterday - which seemed casual to the point of carelessness - suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis.
While our attention must now be on the Gulf Coast's most immediate needs, the nation will soon ask why New Orleans's levees remained so inadequate. Publications from the local newspaper to National Geographic have fulminated about the bad state of flood protection in this beloved city, which is below sea level. Why were developers permitted to destroy wetlands and barrier islands that could have held back the hurricane's surge? Why was Congress, before it wandered off to vacation, engaged in slashing the budget for correcting some of the gaping holes in the area's flood protection?
It would be some comfort to think that, as Mr. Bush cheerily announced, America "will be a stronger place" for enduring this crisis. Complacency will no longer suffice, especially if experts are right in warning that global warming may increase the intensity of future hurricanes. But since this administration won't acknowledge that global warming exists, the chances of leadership seem minimal.
-From The New York Times, Forwarded by Robert Scardapane
The New York Times
"Why does this self-styled "can do" president always lapse into such lame "who could have known?" excuses.
"Who on earth could have known that Osama bin Laden wanted to attack us by flying planes into buildings?
"Any official who bothered to read the trellis of pre-9/11 intelligence briefs.
"Who on earth could have known that an American invasion of Iraq would spawn a brutal insurgency, terrorist recruiting boom and possible civil war?
"Any official who bothered to read the C.I.A.'s prewar reports.
"Who on earth could have known that New Orleans's sinking levees were at risk from a strong hurricane?
"Anybody who bothered to read the endless warnings over the years about the Big Easy's uneasy fishbowl."
Criminal negligence constitutes high crimes against the American people ... read the constitution.
-Forwarded and Commented by Robert Scardapane
It Only Gets Worse
This is a terrible story--and it will happen more and more often to this bankrupt country. It's what happens when federal priorities become screwed up as badly as the Bush administration's have always been. This is the payoff from jerking 90% of the money away from New Orleans levee upgrades, sending the Nat. Guard overseas instead of letting them perform homeland security, and putting blockheaded Republican shills in charge of FEMA!
Just watch the snobby filth, as usual, blame the VICTIMS. We've already seen the oil interests making a huge profit on this tragedy. (Lest we forget: the Bush family stashes considerable money in offshore accounts, and we can imagine what they're raking in.)
And now Hastert is talking about totally discarding this elegant and historical city!
So far, Fox News has blamed everyone from the victims to the Louisiana state and the New Orleans local government. The only people they haven;t blamed are G"Global "W"arming Bush and the rest of the "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party that call themselves our "leaders" in DC. -NG
Forwarding of a Message from Air America Radio
Air America Public
Air America Radio's Public Voicemail is a way for disconnected people to communicate in the wake of Katrina.
Here's how it works:
Call the toll-free number above, enter your everyday phone number, and then record a message. Other people who know your everyday phone number (even if it doesn't work anymore) can call Emergency Voicemail, enter the phone number they associate with you, and hear your message.
You can also search for messages left by people whose phone numbers you know.
Air America Radio will leave Public Voicemail in service for as long as this crisis continues. You can call it whenever you are trying to locate someone, or if you are trying to be found.
Obviously, for this to work, people need to know about it so please forward the number to as many people as you can. You can find out more about Katrina and the affected areas at www.airamericaradio.com.
Air America Radio brings you Emergency Voicemail in conjunction with VoodooVox.
Also, if you’re looking for a way to help personally, MoveOn.org Civic Action, formerly known as MoveOn.org, launched a new web site yesterday, http://hurricanehousing.org/ asking its 3.3 million members and the public to post any available housing for the thousands of people left homeless by Hurricane Katrina. The organization will directly connect evacuees with volunteer hosts, and also provide the housing information to the Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
From this CNN video of Bush in Biloxi
Bush is talking to two
sobbing African-American women who have lost their house, and a white guy:
Bush to women: "There's a Salvation Army center that I want to, that I'll tell you where it is, and they'll get you some help. I'm sorry.... They'll help you.....
Woman 1: "I came here looking for clothes..."
Bush: "They'll get you some clothes, at the Salvation Army center..."
Woman 1: "We don't have anything..."
Bush: "I understand.... Do you know where the center is, that I'm talking to you about?"
Guy with shades: "There's no center there, sir, it's a truck."
Bush: "There's trucks?"
Guy: "There's a school, a school about two miles away....."
Bush: "But isn't there a Salvation center down there?"
Guy: "No that's wiped out...."
Bush: "A temporary center? "
Guy: "No sir they've got a truck there, for food."
Bush: "That's what I'm saying, for food and water."
Bush turns to the sister who's been saying how she needs clothes.
Bush to sister: "You need food and water."
What more needs to be said ...
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