Preznit losing it?

With Bush now apparently only talking to his favourite gal-pals on a daily basis, maybe it’s time to invoke the 25th Amendment?

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Of course, the scary thing about that is that it would mean Cheney would be running the show. On the other hand, maybe that wouldn’t be so different from status quo.

How Bush Blew It

Anyone with honor would resign–or commit hari kari after reading this Newsweek article:

It’s a standing joke among the president’s top aides: who gets to deliver the bad news? Warm and hearty in public, Bush can be cold and snappish in private, and aides sometimes cringe before the displeasure of the president of the United States, or, as he is known in West Wing jargon, POTUS. The bad news on this early morning, Tuesday, Aug. 30, some 24 hours after Hurricane Katrina had ripped through New Orleans, was that the president would have to cut short his five-week vacation by a couple of days and return to Washington. The president’s chief of staff, Andrew Card; his deputy chief of staff, Joe Hagin; his counselor, Dan Bartlett, and his spokesman, Scott McClellan, held a conference call to discuss the question of the president’s early return and the delicate task of telling him. Hagin, it was decided, as senior aide on the ground, would do the deed.

The president did not growl this time. He had already decided to return to Washington and hold a meeting of his top advisers on the following day, Wednesday. This would give them a day to get back from their vacations and their staffs to work up some ideas about what to do in the aftermath of the storm. President Bush knew the storm and its consequences had been bad; but he didn’t quite realize how bad.

The reality, say several aides who did not wish to be quoted because it might displease the president, did not really sink in until Thursday night. Some White House staffers were watching the evening news and thought the president needed to see the horrific reports coming out of New Orleans. Counselor Bartlett made up a DVD of the newscasts so Bush could see them in their entirety as he flew down to the Gulf Coast the next morning on Air Force One.

How this could be—how the president of the United States could have even less “situational awareness,” as they say in the military, than the average American about the worst natural disaster in a century—is one of the more perplexing and troubling chapters in a story that, despite moments of heroism and acts of great generosity, ranks as a national disgrace.

Sick Joke

The Katrina jokes have started already. Here’s one:

How many search-and-rescue certified, paramedic-trained haz-mat certified firefighters does it take to respond to a natural disaster of unprecedented scale?

1,000.

950 to sit in sexual-harrassment classes to prepare for community relations, and 50 to act as props for a Bush photo-opportunity.

U.S. President George W. Bush walks with firefighters while touring Hurricane Katrina damage done to the Biloxi, Mississippi area September 2, 2005. Bush on Saturday ordered the deployment of 7,000 additional U.S. troops to help survivors of Hurricane Katrina as he acknowledged the initial federal effort had fallen short. REUTERS/Larry Downing

It would be sick if it were just a joke, but disgustingly, as the Salt Lake Tribune reports, it’s true.

The firefighters, several of whom are from Utah, were told to bring backpacks, sleeping bags, first-aid kits and Meals Ready to Eat. They were told to prepare for “austere conditions.” Many of them came with awkward fire gear and expected to wade in floodwaters, sift through rubble and save lives.

Instead, they have learned they are going to be community-relations officers for FEMA, shuffled throughout the Gulf Coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number: 1-800-621-FEMA.

But as specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew’s first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas.

Seriously, you can’t make this shit up. Fire Brown now, and impeach Bush. (Hat tip: Kos.)

Army Times on “combat operations” in Nola

Via BoingBoing and Rigorous Intuition:

From the September 2 article titled “Troops begin combat operations in New Orleans”:

NEW ORLEANS – Combat operations are underway on the streets “to take this city back” in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

“This place is going to look like Little Somalia,” Brig. Gen. Gary Jones, commander of the Louisiana National Guard’s Joint Task Force told Army Times Friday as hundreds of armed troops under his charge prepared to launch a massive citywide security mission from a staging area outside the Louisiana Superdome. “We’re going to go out and take this city back. This will be a combat operation to get this city under control.”

Jones said the military first needs to establish security throughout the city. Military and police officials have said there are several large areas of the city are in a full state of anarchy. Dozens of military trucks and up-armored Humvees left the staging area just after 11 a.m. Friday, while hundreds more troops arrived at the same staging area in the city via Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters.

“We’re here to do whatever they need us to do,” Sgt. 1st Class Ron Dixon, of the Oklahoma National Guard’s 1345th Transportation Company. “We packed to stay as long as it takes.”

While some fight the insurgency in the city, other carry on with rescue and evacuation operations. Helicopters are still pulling hundreds of stranded people from rooftops of flooded homes.

Un. Fucking. Believable. Or on second thought, not really that unbelievable in George Bush’s America. Welcome to the Baghdadization of America.

WaPo on the gutting of FEMA

Long, sad article that lays it all out:

The killer hurricane and flood that devastated the Gulf Coast last week exposed fatal weaknesses in a federal disaster response system retooled after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to handle just such a cataclysmic event.

Despite four years and tens of billions of dollars spent preparing for the worst, the federal government was not ready when it came at daybreak on Monday, according to interviews with more than a dozen current and former senior officials and outside experts.

Among the flaws they cited: Failure to take the storm seriously before it hit and trigger the government’s highest level of response. Rebuffed offers of aid from the military, states and cities. An unfinished new plan meant to guide disaster response. And a slow bureaucracy that waited until late Tuesday to declare the catastrophe “an incident of national significance,” the new federal term meant to set off the broadest possible relief effort.

Born out of the confused and uncertain response to 9/11, the massive new Department of Homeland Security was charged with being ready the next time, whether the disaster was wrought by nature or terrorists. The department commanded huge resources as it prepared for deadly scenarios from an airborne anthrax attack to a biological attack with plague to a chlorine-tank explosion.

But Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said yesterday that his department had failed to find an adequate model for addressing the “ultra-catastrophe” that resulted when Hurricane Katrina’s floodwater breached New Orleans’s levees and drowned the city, “as if an atomic bomb had been dropped.”

If Hurricane Katrina represented a real-life rehearsal of sorts, the response suggested to many that the nation is not ready to handle a terrorist attack of similar dimensions. “This is what the department was supposed to be all about,” said Clark Kent Ervin, DHS’s former inspector general. “Instead, it obviously raises very serious, troubling questions about whether the government would be prepared if this were a terrorist attack. It’s a devastating indictment of this department’s performance four years after 9/11.”

“We’ve had our first test, and we’ve failed miserably,” said former representative Timothy J. Roemer (D-Ind.), a member of the commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks. “We have spent billions of dollars in revenues to try to make our country safe, and we have not made nearly enough progress.” With Katrina, he noted that “we had some time to prepare. When it’s a nuclear, chemical or biological attack,” there will be no warning.

Read the whole thing, if you can. It is not lost on me that they managed to demolish one of the best examples of Clinton-era efficiency and excellence– because the Republicans want us to believe that government is worthless. And you know what? When you staff it with idiots, and promote them when they fail abjectly, it pretty much is.

Aid, Schmaid – How can we get ADM the contract?

OK, I am cynical. I have also read and written about various US foreign aid programs and their deleterious effects upon the very nations they are sent to help. But that anyone is naïve enough to believe that Congress is going to do away with a PR friendly way of accomplishing corporate welfare – well, that’s just “cotton candy clouds” and “sea of lemonade” thinking.

Don’t get me wrong I think Sophia Murphy makes some excellent arguments in her editorial however I do take issue with this one:

“It should transition to cash-based aid”

I don’t think this is such a great idea. Just look at what happened in Iraq with all of the cash accounts they had access to in a time of war and chaos. Do you really think that mobilizing to avoid widespread famine is any less chaotic? Can anyone really believe that money won’t go missing? Just because people are starving and dying doesn’t mean that somewhere there isn’t a person willing to profit from it. Is the cash meant to make it easier to bribe the local authorities?

I do think the US should spend the money directly in the region because the stimulus to the economy would do more good than anything else. However, it will require the agencies to be more transparent with regard to where the money is going and to what end it is meant to serve. It will also require regular audits with defined and enforceable penalties should malfeasance be proven. (ha ha ha…can’t breathe…oh, stop…hee hee)

Now, who is going to convince every Representative and Senator from a significant agricultural region that their corporate constituents should give up these contracts so US tax dollars can be spent in African countries to feed Africans? Although, I suppose Brown & Root could start a new division…

Bush: Waging war on terror, one child rape at a time

And no, that’s not hyperbole.

The new round of Abu Ghraib photos that the badministration is refusing, in contempt of Federal court order, to release, apparently includes evidence of rape and child sodomy. [When Rumsfeld calls something “sadistic,” it has to be bad.] But apparently Bush wants more of the same. So much so that he is threatening to veto the $422 billion Defense appropriations bill if it includes any restrictions on prisoner treatment or investigation of already reported abuses. And guess which crazy liberals in Congress are leading the charge? Senators McCain and Graham. McCain, as Rove was quick to smear him in 2000, is all soft on POWs since he was one himself. But when a Republican Senator from South Carolina has to stand up to speak for human rights and the rule of law, you know that shit is officially fucked up.

As Hunter at Daily Kos puts it:

I think it’s time to invent some new swearing, because there isn’t anything currently in the language that fully encompasses the White House’s unapologetic attempts to ensure the Bush administration’s own crafted and approved “interrogation” policies be allowed to continue unhindered. Yes, according to the Bush administration, any attempts by Republican senators to legislate against, say, the sodomizing of detained children are unduly infringing on the president’s fight against terrorists.

Had the Christian Right any sense of decency left–or even a shared brain cell capable of perceiving irony–they would be speaking up on this. I do seem to recall some squeamishness about sodomy in their past activism. Could we perhaps get Dobson to clarify his position on child rape? By his silence one is forced to assume he only cares about pedophilia when it’s perpetrated by Catholic Priests of NAMBLA. He probably has a snippet of scripture that justifies it when undertaken by the CIA, or when the children in question are Muslim.

Because I read the news and have a conscience, I can no longer claim to be proud of my country. Until this gang of thieves and criminals are driven out of power, no more national anthems or pledges of allegiance for me. “Regime change begins at home,” as the bumper sticker proclaims, and until we manage to hold these people accountable we are all complicit.

I’m ready to march, ready to go to the barricades, and damn near ready to riot if that’s what it takes. This administration’s arrogance and stupidity has left it critically weakened. If we as Democrats can’t finish the job, we don’t deserve the name. If we can’t ride Rove out of Washington on a rail, we don’t deserve our country back. And if we can’t keep women children from being raped in our prisons around the world, we don’t deserve safety from the bombs thrown by their fathers and brothers. If we have truly stooped to the tactics of the terrorists, we deserve the Armageddon Bush’s base so desperately wants to provoke.

… and then McLellan proved that black was white, and got himself killed at the next zebra crossing

If only.

You can read about the unfolding scandal around Karl Rove saying that after 9/11 liberals wanted to “prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers” at americablog.org. That’s enough to piss me off mightily. But what pisses me off even more is how Scott McLellan can possibly say this about how Democrats would dare to be outraged by such a slur:

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that they [Democrats] are just trying to engage in partisan attacks. Karl was simply talking about different philosophies, and we should be talking about what we stand for and how we want to move forward. We should be talking about what the different visions are and what the different ideas are, and that’s what he was doing….

I’m sorry, who is engaging in partisan attacks here? Just what about Rove saying that liberals wanted to respond to 9/11 with therapy is not a partisan attack, Scott? Reading the transcript is like reading Through the Looking Glass all over again.

This summer’s hot fashion on Florida beaches: the bulletproof bikini

In Florida, the legislature has approved a new law that
gives residents the right to open fire against anyone they perceive as a threat in public
. Jeb Bush says he’ll sign the law. So be careful next time you’re in Orlando or down on the Keys. Be careful how you look at anyone, and be especially careful not to be perceived as a threat, or they can legally shoot you there. Or just wear your bulletproof vest to the beach.

still not paranoid, just mad as hell

Is the MSM a victim of cost-cutting measures and lack of resources or are networks (broadcast and cable) complicit in passing government propaganda as news? In an elaborate game of production and distribution, federal agencies are creating video vignettes that mimic news reports which are then showing up on numerous local broadcasts as hard news. In the New York Times this article while describing the process and interviewing some of the players involved comes to no real conclusion or in other words, places no blame – just like journalists are supposed to do. It reports the facts. So, which is it – a predatory government with or without a complicit press? The only thing that seems certain is a predatory government.
Continue reading “still not paranoid, just mad as hell”