Hanging Us Out to Dry

“It's a heck of a place to bring your family. It's a great place to find some of the greatest food in the world and some wonderful fun.”
George W. Bush

“Many New Orleans neighborhoods are still abandoned wastelands, with uninhabitable homes, no working street lights and sidewalks piled with moldy garbage. The levee system is as vulnerable as ever. Barely a quarter of the 400,000 people who fled have come back, demographers estimate.”

I was going to write about how Bush has left us hanging in south Lousiana, but Schroeder already did it. (Thank god because I can't get into it without suffering a stroke.) The WaPo's take on it is here (courtesy Schroeder). A NYT editorial on our plight is here.

The photo, by the way, is from the Lower Ninth Ward. I took it in early January.


The Enemy Is Dissent

The Pentagon's keeping a watchful eye on peace activists who hand out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to Halliburton employees. Truly, Alberto "Organ Failure" Gonzalez's "just trust us" defense of illegal NSA wiretaps is warranted. Okay, maybe "warranted" isn't right word....

DISCLAIMER: I'm not saying the NSA spied on the activists; it was Rummy's Counter Intelligence Field Activity.


Happy Really Bad News Day (with a Giggle!)

Dear so-called conservatives, at what point do you begin to get worried, let alone angry?

Case One: According to the New Orleans Times Picayune, the Dept. of Homeland InSecurity accurately predicted the horror that befell New Orleans:
President Bush's top disaster agency warned of the likelihood of levee breaches that could leave New Orleans submerged "for weeks or months," a communications blackout that would hamper rescue efforts and "at least 100,000 poverty-stricken people" stranded in the city.

Those remarkably accurate predictions were in a 40-page "Fast Analysis Report" compiled by the Department of Homeland Security on Aug. 28. Documents show that the report was sent by e-mail to the White House Situation Room at 1:47 a.m. on Aug. 29, hours before the deadly storm made landfall.
Bush's front-line disaster agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, was predicting the worst. In a Power Point slide show dated Aug. 27 and obtained by The Times-Picayune, the agency spelled out the death and destruction anticipated by Hurricane Pam and warned that Katrina was likely to be worse.

"Exercise projection is exceeded by Hurricane Katrina real-life impacts," the slide show said.
Wow. So they knew. And did nothing. Thanks, guys. Now can we throw the lot of you in jail for negligent homicide?

Case Two: The shiny new inaptly named Patriot Act contains a provision for (guess) a "uniformed division" of the Secret Service, authorized to arrest people without warrant "for any offense against the United States committed in their presence, or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony." I know, I know, conservatives, a federal police force with nebulous powers of arrest isn't fascistic or totalitarian or even worrisome. It's just our Leader exercising the war powers of the unitary executive. Dear conservatives, please, get a dictionary, take a class, but do something.

(Via Suspect Device.)

THE GIGGLE: And while we're linking to everything Greg Peters, why not link to his latest cartoon?


Why the Towers Fell

While Bush is out pushing 9/11 as an excuse for doing whatever he wants, why not celebrate by reading a physicist's paper on why the World Trade Center towers fell? (The author, Steven E. Jones, gave a presentation in late September; this paper, I think, is pretty recent. Very highly recommended.)

East Coast Vs. West Coast

The battle has begun....


Jesus Christ, AFA, Get a Life

I mean, thank god the American Family Association is dedicated to protecting humans from art and desire. Hint: If you don't like NBC's Book of Daniel, don't watch it.


Katrina Documentary

Do Your Part, a non-profit I'm working with, is screening a documentary at Sundance this week. It's about the devastation in St. Bernard Parish, just east of New Orleans. You can watch it here.

To find out just how bad things are going with the reconstruction effort, read today's Times Picayune.


Peter Dauo Wastes More of His Time by Getting It Right

An invaluable post for the Democratic "leadership," who invariably won't read or heed it. For progressive bloggers (full disclosure: I am one), a depressing analysis of what should happen what some fascistic ass clown like ScAlito schlepps before The Incompetent Ones to not be grilled about anything. As John "I donated my brain to Terri Schiavo" Hinderocket of Power Line told me last week, "Man, you're one angry guy." With leadership like this, anger's a given. I feel as abandoned as a New Orleanian waiting for Chimpy McWarboy* to deliver some goddamned category-5 flood protection. Oh, wait....

*The entire staff of realitique would like to express their admiration and support of our closest primate cousins and regret the use of their species as an epithet. However, realitique® has stalled delayed for quite some time using standard progressive epithets for His Highness, George IV, partly out of respect for certain readers. As they seem to've disappeared, realitique sees no reason not to jump the proverbial shark. In the spirit of blog-wagoning, then: fuck Bush**.

**As this phrase and variations on chimps and war are overcooked, we doubt we'll use it much. But it's nice to have options, especially when, unlike the grinning, relaxed Power Line boyz, you're "angry."

Mr. Bush, Please, Stop “Protecting” Me

What she said.

Contextual note: This is the SusanG who started the snowballing investigation into Jeff "Administration Plant" Gannon.


Do not Look at the Curtain

Nigel: Don't touch it.
Marty: Well uh I wasn't, I wasn't gonna touch it. I was just pointing at it...I....
Nigel: Well don't point, even.
Marty: Don't even point?
Nigel: No. It can't be played...never...
Marty: Can I look at it?
Nigel: No....no.

This Is Spinal Tap

It is vitally important not to look at the evidence. That's essentially what Our Beloved Leader told a seven-year-old in a staged meeting "conversation" in which he "participated":
Q How can people help on the war on terror?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, that's the hardest question I've had all day. (Laughter.)

First of all, I expect there to be an honest debate about Iraq, and welcome it. People can help, however, by making sure the tone of this debate is respectful and is mindful about what messages out of the country can do to the morale of our troops. (Applause.)

I fully expect in a democracy -- I expect and, frankly, welcome the voices of people saying, you know, Mr. President, you shouldn't have made that decision, or, you know, you should have done it a better way. I understand that. What I don't like is when somebody said, he lied. Or, they're in there for oil. Or they're doing it because of Israel. That's the kind of debate that basically says the mission and the sacrifice were based on false premise. It's one thing to have a philosophical difference -- and I can understand people being abhorrent about war [sic]. War is terrible. But one way people can help as we're coming down the pike in the 2006 elections, is remember the effect that rhetoric can have on our troops in harm's way, and the effect that rhetoric can have in emboldening or weakening an enemy.

(Emphasis mine. Via Dohiyi Mir.)
This is a revealing quote. It says, in effect, that not only should we not look behind the curtain, we shouldn't even look at the curtain.

There are many reasons we're in Iraq. Two of them are oil and Israel. Would the president mind if we said that the US also wants to fill out its empire of military bases in Asia? that having bases in Iraq and Afghanistan puts Iran, the bigger country with bigger oil reserves, in a tight spot? Would we be saying that the war was based on a false premise? Because it was. And, in real terms, those who are sacrificing themselves are not doing so for America or its freedom, but for a panoply of other causes, some of which may be good. But what Iraq is certainly not about is the illusory "War on Terror"—unless you mean that we've created a terrorist factory in Iraq.

The president claims that Americans can help in the "War on Some Terror" by watching what they say and how they say it. He then mentions that "as we're coming down the pike in the 2006 elections," we should remember how important "rhetoric" is to both our troops and the enemy they fight. Never mind that "enemy" should be plural, what Bush is saying is that we should make sure to vote for representatives and senators who don't suggest that oil, Israel or lying was involved in our invasion of Iraq. Do not vote for most Democrats. Do not vote for anyone willing to even look at the curtain. Or acknowledge that there is a curtain. Because the power of this entire Administration is rooted in fear, in ignoring the curtain or denying it exists.

What we need to do is rip the curtain down and burn it. If we did that, Bush and his cronies would be in jail. Or worse.

Il Duce to Drop by New Orleans

You may've heard that Our Beloved Leader is stopping by New Orleans today for the first time in three months. "Ah!" you say, "Tis certain he'll assuage locals' fears of future flooding! He hath hastened to the site of disaster to reassure concerned New Orleanians that the federal government will help rebuild the city that they through negligence let flood!"

But you would be wrong. Even if you used contemporary English.

No, His Beneficent Presence (may his cattle yield unblemished milk) is stopping by to meet with small business leaders about the Gulf Opportunity Zone and then hastening to Bay St. Louis to give a speech. I'm sure that has nothing to do with the simmering anger here or with, say, the party affiliation of Mississippi's governor. Our governor, meanwhile, is doing something useful: she's in the Netherlands, learning about flood control from the masters.

Whither Nightline?

Nightline may've turned a corner—into the gutter. If this kind of coverage keeps up, chalk one more up for slavish obeisance to advertising demographics, or "standard industry practice." (Remember, kidz, the left-leaning liberal elite news media is biased!)


Mississippi Gulf Coast Photos

A couple of weeks ago, A. and I ventured to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to see the damage from Katrina. (We'd tried in November but weren't allowed in without local ID.) If you're not familiar with the MS Gulf Coast, the area is a string of several cities along about 40 miles of beach. Homes a few blocks from the beach were high enough to be spared; many of those closer to the water weren't so fortunate. And for mile after mile along the beachfront Highway 90 in Long Beach and Gulfport, there is nothing but denuded foliage, the land wiped clean.

Most of the photos I took were of Pass Christian, where my family moved decades ago from New Orleans. The devastation is hard to fathom, but as many homes as are gone there, more are left than in neighboring Long Beach and Gulfport. The only area I've seen with comparable damage is the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, near the levee breaches (photos coming soon).

My family in Pass Christian did well, considering. My grandmother, uncle and aunt all lived just far enough from the beach to have minor damage and no flooding. That said, another cousin lost his house and yet another had just sold hers only to lose her family's possessions when the storage facility was washed away. (Where was the debate about rebuilding the storm-surge-vulnerable Gulf Coast? Seems New Orleans is the only city some people debate rebuilding.)

You can view the Gulf Coast photos here. Please note: I continually try to coax the beauty out of the devastation around here. These photos are part of that attempt.

Previously posted 9th Ward photos are here.


Today in Malfeasance

WWNO, the local NPR affiliate, reports that Greece offered two cruise ships for free to house Katrina refugees, but the US government turned them down, instead paying Carnival hundreds of millions of dollars for the ship parked over by the bridge right now. I don't know the source(s) of the story.


The Battle of New Orleans

Today in 1815, the United States of America&—with the aid of Jean Lafitte's pirates, Choctaw and liberated Haitian slaves—defeated the British in the Battle of New Orleans, the final battle of the War of 1812. I may be wrong, but I think the War of 1812 was the only US war to've started and ended unnecessarily (in formal terms). It started, in part, over a dispute whose settlement didn't reach the US in time to stop us from declaring war, and ended with a battle fought two weeks after the peace treaty, the Treaty of Ghent, was signed. (But according to Wikipedia, ratifications had yet to be exchanged, so maybe the war wasn't quite "over" when the Battle of New Orleans was fought.)

BONUS: And on another, unrelated note, it's Elvis' birthday.

He Puts the Big in Zbigniew

Foreign policy heavyweight Zbigniew Brzezinski weighs in on the false choice Our Leader® repeatedly lays before his subjects the American people vis à vis Iraq. (Via Atrios.)

Really Long Contextual Note: This is the former Carter Administration hawk who claims to've come up with the idea of suckering the Soviets to invade Afghanistan to save their puppet government there, only to get embroiled in their own Vietnam--a brilliantly effective move which led us to (more or less) create Al Qaeda. He's also the guy who thought up the sequel to The Great Game, or how the US could preserve its superpower status by dominating Eurasia. He suggested we do this by establishing access to the remaining oil and gas reserves in Central Asia. The gateway to Central Asia is Afghanistan (which is why we supported the Taliban), a land ripe for a pipeline to the energy riches of the Caspian region. But to dominate Eurasia via Central Asia, we'd need a more powerful, expansive military, and to get that, we'd need an external threat and a "new Pearl Harbor." This was such a handsome strategy that people like Rumsfeld, Cheney, Perlowitz et al. just couldn't resist, and they adapted it for their Project for a New American Century. Not long after, they managed to attain the most powerful positions in US goverment.


My Lai Hero Dies at 62

Hugh Thompson saved many Vietnamese from being massacred. Still waiting to hear it reported in the US.

And the other story US propaganda national news organs aren't touting today.


Let the House Cleaning Begin

With Jack Abramoff cooperating with prosecutors, a lot of representatives are soiling themselves today. They can get some stain-removal tips here. On Doityourself.com, poster twelvepeople notes that
Urine odor will be noticeable on warmer, more humid days. It may also be more noticeable after showering when humidity is high in bathroom. If urine has been absorbed into latex paint, it will require sealing odor into walls by applying a a couple coats of primer/sealer like Zinnser before repainting with oil-based paint which is more durable and easier to maintain.
A pity the humidity in DC is 92% today.


New Year's in Iraq

From my cousin in Anbar Province, Iraq:
Hello everyone and Happy New Year!

Well, at least I'm in the right calendar year now, and am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's hard to believe I've been here for six months now. Its felt more like six years.

I got promoted to Master Sergeant during a formation on New Year's Day. I've attached a photo from the formation for your viewing pleasure (lol). MSG Pentacost and I then fixed as traditional a NYD meal as possible, given our conditions. We had boiled cabbage and potatoes, fried potatoes and onions, soup beans, and fried cabbage. I tried to fix corned beef, but it was the stuff that comes in a can, and looked alot like Alpo when cooked (probably also tasted like it, too), so we threw it out.

I woke up this morning without power (again). I saw mechanics working on the generator as I left the barracks. I can't understand why they don't just replace the thing. It only worked for three days this time before breaking down again. We've got a small back-up generator on hand from the last time the main generator broke down for and extended period (right before Christmas we had no power for six days). If they don't fix the main by this afternoon, I will get the back-up running. It can't power the entire building, but will provide enough power to at least have lights and hot water.

Thanks again to everyone for your support, and the e-mails you've sent over the holidays. It is nice to hear from each of you. I look forward to seeing you when I get home.