Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Street Prophets: The Carpenter and the Hammer

Nice comparison between The Carpenter and the Hammer. From Street Prophets.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

HuffPo'sAndrew Gumbel on the Georgia vote debacle

Cathy Cox is a Democrat in a now heavily red state, but I've never understood her devotion to Diebold. Now some ugly facts are coming out: "The new poster-child for how not to run elections is Cathy Cox, the Secretary of State of Georgia. Only she comes with an added twist. She won’t merely be helping to run someone else’s campaign in next year’s mid-terms; she will be running for office herself.

Cox, a Democrat, was the first Secretary of State to champion and purchase an all-electronic touch screen voting system for her state. She persuaded Georgia to spend an initial $54 million on a hitherto untried Diebold system in 2002, and has tried ever since to parlay the e-voting revolution she helped launch into a bid for the Georgia governorship in November 2006. “Advancing the e-government revolution,” is the slogan on her website.

Contrary to the fine rhetoric, however, a raft of official documents obtained exclusively by the Huffington Post – including the original contract signed with Diebold and a flurry of six amendments that followed between July 2002 and December 2004, as well as official correspondence and legal papers – show that Cox’s management of Georgia elections has been little short of a disaster. The documents were obtained by way of multiple public records requests, most of them coordinated by the Georgia voting rights activist Roxanne Jekot and her organization, Count The Vote.

The documentary record shows that elections were run on software that was not only untested but also uncertified, that key components broke down during live elections, that county officials were left clueless on how to operate the new machines because of a breakdown in the training schedule, and that the cost of installing the electronic touch-screen system jumped dramatically beyond the advertised $54 million, without proper legislative oversight or approval. None of this has previously been made public."

Death spasms continue at PBS/NPR

CPB Taps Two GOP Conservatives for Top Posts: "A leading Republican donor and fundraiser was elected chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting yesterday, tightening conservative control over the agency that oversees National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service.

Cheryl F. Halpern, a New Jersey lawyer and real estate developer, won approval from the CPB's board. She succeeds a close board ally, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, who stirred controversy earlier this year by contending that public broadcasting favors liberal views. Tomlinson's term as chairman had expired, but he will remain a member of the board.

The board also elected another conservative, Gay Hart Gaines, as its vice chairman. Gaines, an interior decorator by training, was a charter member and a chairman of GOPAC, a Republican fundraising group that then-Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) used to engineer the GOP takeover of the House in 1994."


Donald Rumsfeld is giving the president his daily briefing. He concludes by saying: "Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed."

"OH NO!" the President exclaims. "That's terrible!"

His staff sits stunned at this display of emotion, nervously watching as the President sits, head in hands.

Finally, the President looks up and asks, "How many is a brazillion?

Ansley Coe Throckmorton's Sermon: The Essence of the Gospel

Hammond Street Congregational Church, Bangor, Maine
Dr. Mark Allen Doty, pastor
September 25, 2005
Preacher: Rev. Dr. Ansley Coe Throckmorton

"The Essence of the Gospel"

From the time I was a small child I loved hearing the Bible read aloud. Of course I had the distinct advantage of first hearing it in the majestic/poetic language of the King James Bible. And I had another unique advantage. My father, who was the minister of a church in Oak Park, Illinois, read scripture in worship with commanding eloquence. And both my mother and my father read it aloud at home from time to time. So early on I was exposed to the wonder and mystery, the beauty and poetry, the images and stories of the Bible.

Later when I left home I went to Wellesley College. During my years there, a new translation of scripture began coming out known as the Revised Standard Version. It was based on the King James Version but the language was modernized and because of decades of scholarship its texts were brought in line with the correct translation of early manuscripts and the discovery of new early manuscripts. At Wellesley I had the benefit of brilliant teaching of the Bible, which opened up its mystery, and meaning and which really set the direction of my life. Is it any wonder that I married a New Testament scholar?

Before I describe the bearing all this has on the sermon today I want to tell you a story that will illustrate the place the Bible has in my life. One day a few years ago I had to get a new license plate for the car I drive. I was in line at the Motor Vehicles office waiting my turn for the license plate. I consciously dreaded having to force into my head a new meaningless number along with the countless phone numbers, zip codes, pass words, user names, and id numbers that were a part of my life. The woman who took my application turned to a shelf and brought out a new plate. When she uncovered it there before me I saw 1611, the date the King James Bible first came out. Had there not been a counter between us I’d have hugged her. I was elated. And you will find in your parking lot today a red Buick with the date of the first King James Bible, 1611, on its front and rear bumpers.

At this particular time in our lives, in the cultural and religious life of our nation and world, there is a matter related to the Bible that troubles me and that needs to be addressed openly. The concern I have is this: The Christian faith in our time is being represented widely by persons who are selective fundamentalists, who take verses out of their context in scripture that match their views, and who then interpret those verses literally to justify those views. In short, they defend their extreme ideologies by proof texting. In doing so they misrepresent, or better said, distort the meaning of the whole and make a mockery of the Bible and of thoughtful faith.

Recently I have found an eloquent ally in John Danforth, “a conservative Republican three-term senator from Missouri and an ordained Episcopal minister” (BDN, July 14) who has warned, “that the Republican Party has been taken over by the extreme religious right.” In an April 5th editorial in the Bangor Daily News he is quoted as saying that that “by a series of recent initiatives, Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians.” He goes on to say: “It becomes extraordinarily divisive, and legislatures get themselves entangled with writing religious documents into legislative form. It’s exactly what the constitution says we can’t do if we want to keep the country glued together.” He added: “I’m surprised people have been so mute about this. I thought if no one was saying this, I should.’ (April 5, 2005) In short he has disputed the claims of “conservative Christians” that they hold the one authentic Christian perspective, that that they alone know God’s truth, and that they can advance the kingdom of God through government action.

My concern today is related to the roots of that issue, namely how should scripture be interpreted so that one is faithful to its spirit and variety? How can we listen to God’s word in a way that doesn’t make an idol out of English words? What are the roots of the arrogance and folly of the so-called “Christian Right” to which John Danforth points? To put it bluntly the root cause is fundamentalism. And the proof texting that arises in fundamentalism is dangerous in any religious guise - Muslim, Jewish or Christian. It always leads to arrogance that excludes, that makes doubt a dirty word that often makes violence its method of choice.

King Abdullah of Jordan says that Muslim fundamentalism has highjacked the Koran. Just so Christian fundamentalism, with all its arrogant claims to doubt-free literalism, has highjacked the Bible

William Sloane Coffin, long time minister of Riverside Church in New York said it this way: “Why am I so hard on fundamentalist preachers? Because it is right to be stabbed by doubt. ‘Commitment is healthiest when it is not without doubt, but in spite of doubt’ (Rollo May). It is wrong to be clearer than clarity warrants, to write off intellectual and moral ambiguities simply because you haven’t the security to live with uncertainty. It’s wrong to require certainty to the point of blind stupidity. And it’s dangerous. If God is like a marine sergeant who has been handed a bunch of hopeless recruits, then those who believe in such a God will become like soldiers prepared to do almost anything they’re told, no matter what, no matter to whom. To me that is diametrically opposed to Jesus, whose central theme was that there is something intrinsically sacred, intrinsically deserving of respect, intrinsically…. entitled to love in every human being. Seekers of truth can build communities of love. Possessors of truth have too much enmity toward those who don’t possess the truth or possess some other truth.” (Coffin, Credo, p. 157)

We see the terrible consequences of all this daily in events not only around the world born of Islamic and Jewish fundamentalism but in our own country born of Christian fundamentalism. John Danforth is concerned for the body politic. I am concerned for the integrity of of the Bible, of the faith and of truth itself.

And radio and television don’t help at all. In fact they have exacerbated the problem. For some reason they continually confront us with the most fundamentalist preachers they can find and imply that they represent the Christian faith. Larry King had four of them on last month at one time. You’d think he’d know better.

There is a little novel out last year that is a gem. Its title, Gilead. It is the simple and eloquent story of the minister of a little country church in Kansas who reflects on his life, his parishioners and his ministry. With regard to radio and television he says it all: “Two or three ladies had pronounced views on points of doctrine, particularly on sin and damnation, which they never learned from me. I blame the radio for sowing a good deal of confusion where theology is concerned. And television is worse. You can spend forty years teaching people to be awake to the fact of mystery and then some fellow with no more theological sense than a jackrabbit gets himself a radio ministry and all your work is forgotten. I wonder where it will all end.” (p. 208)

That’s the question that I pose today: Where will it all end? The penultimate end is alarming. In many states, including Kansas itself, it is required by law that religion in the guise of ‘creationism’ (sometimes known as “intelligent design”) be taught in the public schools as an alternative to evolution. And the latest howler is that they’ve discovered that there were dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark. Well it would be hilariously funny if they weren’t going to teach it to our young people as fact. That’s a nightmare. And who is speaking up in opposition? Well scientists of course. Where are the voices of religious people whose understanding of creation is grounded in the mystery and wonder of faith that in no way is threatened by the science of evolution? (Einstein knew that.) That’s the penultimate end - the nightmare that confronts us daily in daily life in education, politics and in the misrepresentation of our precious faith.

But the ultimate end of all this is surely, for us, a renewed and ever deeper conviction that God came in Christ as the Word, as agape, as love itself, not as human words in whatever language. The Rev. Dr. Peter Gomes, Professor and Minister in the memorial Church of Harvard University said this of the Bible. “Because it is not intended to be a substitute for science or history or politics or even religion, it can neither be made or destroyed by these agencies for it is at the same point both less and more than all of these. It is in the whimsical phrase of Krister Stendahl, once dean of Harvard Divinity School, ‘Not history minus but poetry plus.’…

“With the Bible, then, our work is not done but just beginning, for in its penetrating light we must now live our lives even as our ancestors lived theirs, working out our own salvation in fear and trembling.” (Sermons, pp 209-210)

There is a wonder and a mystery about this faith of ours that we call Christian. The only certainty I have about it is that it is all about love - God’s love for us, which calls on us to love one another and to love God’s creation. St. Augustine said, “The Lord loves each of us as an only child.” (Gilead, p. 245) Out of that amazing assurance we can live lives that reflect that love. Bill Coffin has said, “Christians believe in the word made flesh, not the Word made words. Christianity is less a set of belief than a way of life, and a way of life that actually warns against absolute intellectual certainty”. (Coffin, p. 40)

I close with two passages of scripture, which tell it all. From Paul’s letter to the Romans: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unreachable are God’s judgments and God’s ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of God?” (Romans 11:33-34)

And that magnificent 13th chapter of First Corinthians which concludes:

“Faith hope and love abide, these three, and the greatest of these is love.” (I Cor. 13:13)

Monday, September 26, 2005

Street Prophets :: Faith and Politics

Daily Kos has spun off Pastor Dan and his friends to a new blog, Street Prophets. Be sure to bookmark it and visit often.

AMERICAblog finds GIs allegedly trading ghoulish pix for porn

AMERICAblog has uncovered yet another unsavory aspect of US treatment of Iraqis. Beware, it's grisly.

New information on the death of Pat Tillman

-THE CUNNING REALIST: Anatomy Of A Disgrace: "For example, the documents contain testimony of the first investigating officer alleging that Army officials allowed witnesses to change key details in their sworn statements so his finding that certain soldiers committed “gross negligence” could be softened.

Interviews also show a side of Pat Tillman not widely known — a fiercely independent thinker who enlisted, fought and died in service to his country yet was critical of President Bush and opposed the war in Iraq, where he served a tour of duty. He was an avid reader whose interests ranged from history books on World War II and Winston Churchill to works of leftist Noam Chomsky, a favorite author."

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Hard Bigotry of No Expectations - New York Times

NY Times Editorial, right on: "In Iraq, the elimination of expectations is on display in the disastrous political process. Among other things, the constitution drafted under American supervision does not provide for the rights of women and minorities and enshrines one religion as the fundamental source of law. Administration officials excuse this poor excuse for a constitution by saying it also refers to democratic values. But it makes them secondary to Islamic law and never actually defines them. Our founding fathers had higher expectations: they made the split of church and state fundamental, and spelled out what they meant by democracy and the rule of law.

It's true that the United States Constitution once allowed slavery, denied women the right to vote and granted property rights only to white men. But it's offensive for the administration to use that as an excuse for the failings of the Iraqi constitution. The bar on democracy has been raised since 1787. We don't agree that the 218-year-old standard is good enough for Iraq.

Since his failure to notice the Katrina disaster, Mr. Bush has stopped bragging that he doesn't read or watch the news. If he's paying attention now, he should get a message from the outrage over Katrina and shrinking support for his policies in Iraq: The American public has much higher expectations than he does for the president and his government."

Saturday, September 24, 2005

President Struggles to Regain His Pre-Hurricane Swagger

From the Washington Post: "Most of all, White House aides want to reestablish Bush's swagger -- the projection of competence and confidence in the White House that has carried the administration through tough times since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Bush likes to say his job is to make tough decisions and leave the hand-wringing for historians and pundits. He almost never entertains public doubt, which is part of the White House design to build a more powerful presidency. The term 'strong leader' appears in at least 98 speeches he has given during his White House years, according to a database search, and was the subtext of his 2004 campaign strategy. He favors provocative language, declaring that he wanted Osama bin Laden 'dead or alive' and taunting Iraqi insurgents to 'bring 'em on.'

He projects this in nonverbal ways as well, the arms-swinging gait of his walk, the glint in his glare, the college boy grin that flashes even in sober moments. Some advisers consider this supreme self-confidence a secret to Bush's success enacting his first-term agenda and winning reelection in a tough political climate. It reinforced Bush's image as a decisive leader, which was an important attribute in an election colored by the threat of terrorism, and helped calm congressional Republicans who disagreed with some of the president's ideas but were won over by the force of his style."

Of course it was his swagger that got us all into this complex mess.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Poor New Orleans Neighborhood Floods Again

Oh no...: "Hurricane Rita's steady rains sent water pouring through breaches in a patched levee Friday, cascading into one of the city's lowest-lying neighborhoods in a devastating repeat of New Orleans' flooding nightmare.

'Our worst fears came true,' said Maj. Barry Guidry of the Georgia National Guard.

'We have three significant breaches in the levee and the water is rising rapidly,' he said. 'At daybreak I found substantial breaks and they've grown larger.'"

Sen. Frist on the hot seat

HCA subpoenaed over Sen. Frist's shares: "A federal investigation into Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's sale of HCA Inc. stock widened on Friday when the largest U.S. hospital chain said federal prosecutors had subpoenaed the company for related documents.

Frist, a Tennessee Republican and a potential 2008 presidential candidate, has come under fire for sale of his stock in the company shortly before HCA warned that earnings would miss expectations.

The sale has also drawn the attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has sought information from Frist. His spokesman has denied Frist had any inside information when he initiated the sale."

This could be interesting.

AmericaBlog on the Rove-Abramoff connection

AmericaBlog points to the Washington Post story, as well as Josh Marshall's take. It's getting more and more interesting. Meanwhile, Rove is off to North Dakota for political fund raising events. I thought he was in charge of the Katrina recovery?

The Daily Show on limited government

Froomkin again: "On Comedy Central's Daily Show last night, satirical correspondent Robb Cordrry insisted to host Jon Stewart that 'Everything the president is doing is perfectly in keeping with the conservative ideal of limited government.'

Stewart, who had just divulged the possible $200 billion pricetag for Bush's proposals for Gulf Coast reconstruction, expressed puzzlement.

So Cordrry explained: 'This president believes government should be limited not in size, Jon, but in effectiveness. In terms of effectiveness, this is the most limited administration we've ever had.'"

Froomkin asks: What brave soul will ask about it?

Dan Froomkin's blog at "Will any member of the White House press corps risk scorn from McClellan -- and maybe even mockery from colleagues -- by asking the press secretary to set the record straight about what appears to be an utterly scurrilous report in the National Enquirer that Bush is hitting the booze again? Some brave soul should."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Dowd in Times Select: Go back to the White House

Message: I Can't - New York Times: "There's nothing more pathetic than watching someone who's out of touch feign being in touch. On his fifth sodden pilgrimage of penitence to the devastation he took so long to comprehend, W. desperately tried to show concern. He said he had spent some 'quality time' at a Chevron plant in Pascagoula and nattered about trash removal, infrastructure assessment teams and the 'can-do spirit.'

'We look forward to hearing your vision so we can more better do our job,' he said at a briefing in Gulfport, Miss., urging local officials to 'think bold,' while they still need to think mold.

Mr. Bush should stop posing in shirtsleeves and get back to the Oval Office. He has more hacks and cronies he's trying to put into important jobs, and he needs to ride herd on that."

Arianna Huffington: Plamegate: The John Bolton Connection

The Blog | Arianna Huffington: Plamegate: The John Bolton Connection | The Huffington Post: "So could Ambassador Bolton actually be a target of Pat Fitzgerald's investigation? When considering this question, it's important to keep in mind that he's never been subpoenaed or questioned by the Plamegate grand jury -- and, as a lawyer who does work for the New York Times put it: 'The target of a grand jury investigation would not ordinarily be subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury.'

So here is what we know: We know that Fleitz was the connection to the CIA, and that Bolton was close to Scooter Libby (and the rest of the neocons, of course) and Judy Miller (for whom he was an important source, although the last time she quoted him by name was in 1999 when he was at the American Enterprise Institute). And here is what we don't know: we don't know the pathway through which Plame's identity got into Novak's column. Did Miller learn about Plame from her old chum Bolton? Did she pass that info on to Libby? Or had Bolton already told Libby? And Rove? Or was it all just passed around and around in a cozy game of neocon phone tag? It makes one wonder more than ever before what Bolton and Miller talked about when he visited her in jail."

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Rove Off The Record

The Huffington Post has some notes of Rove's off-the-record presentation to business people: "Karl Rove, President Bush's top political advisor and deputy White House chief of staff, spoke at businessman Teddy Forstmann's annual off the record gathering in Aspen, Colorado this weekend. Here is what Rove had to say that the press wasn't allowed to report on.

On Katrina: The only mistake we made with Katrina was not overriding the local government...

On The Anti-War Movement: Cindy Sheehan is a clown. There is no real anti-war movement. No serious politician, with anything to do with anything, would show his face at an anti-war rally...

On Bush's Low Poll Numbers: We have not been good at explaining the success in Iraq. Polls go up and down and don't mean anything..."

There's more at HuffPo.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Rich on what the hurricane exposed

Message: I Care About the Black Folks - New York Times: "The worst storm in our history proved perfect for exposing this president because in one big blast it illuminated all his failings: the rampant cronyism, the empty sloganeering of 'compassionate conservatism,' the lack of concern for the 'underprivileged' his mother condescended to at the Astrodome, the reckless lack of planning for all government operations except tax cuts, the use of spin and photo-ops to camouflage failure and to substitute for action.

In the chaos unleashed by Katrina, these plot strands coalesced into a single tragic epic played out in real time on television. The narrative is just too powerful to be undone now by the administration's desperate recycling of its greatest hits: a return Sunshine Boys tour by the surrogate empathizers Clinton and Bush I, another round of prayers at the Washington National Cathedral, another ludicrously overhyped prime-time address flecked with speechwriters' 'poetry' and framed by a picturesque backdrop. Reruns never eclipse a riveting new show.

Nor can the president's acceptance of 'responsibility' for the disaster dislodge what came before. Mr. Bush didn't cough up his modified-limited mea culpa until he'd seen his whole administration flash before his eyes. His admission that some of the buck may stop with him (about a dime's worth, in Truman dollars) came two weeks after the levees burst and five years after he promised to usher in a new post-Clinton 'culture of responsibility.' It came only after the plan to heap all the blame on the indeed blameworthy local Democrats failed to lift Mr. Bush's own record-low poll numbers. It came only after America's highest-rated TV news anchor, Brian Williams, started talking about Katrina the way Walter Cronkite once did about Vietnam."

FEMA, Slow to the Rescue, Now Stumbles in Aid Effort

Update from the New York Times: "Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Katrina cut its devastating path, FEMA - the same federal agency that botched the rescue mission - is faltering in its effort to aid hundreds of thousands of storm victims, local officials, evacuees and top federal relief officials say. The federal aid hot line mentioned by President Bush in his address to the nation on Thursday cannot handle the flood of calls, leaving thousands of people unable to get through for help, day after day.

Federal officials are often unable to give local governments permission to proceed with fundamental tasks to get their towns running again. Most areas in the region still lack federal help centers, the one-stop shopping sites for residents in need of aid for their homes or families. Officials say that they are uncertain whether they can meet the president's goal of providing housing for 100,000 people who are now in shelters by the middle of next month.

While the agency has redoubled its efforts to get food, money and temporary shelter to the storm victims, serious problems remain throughout the affected region. Visits to several towns in Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as interviews with dozens of local and federal officials, provide a portrait of a fragmented and dysfunctional system."

The New Inquisition

NY Times reports on the new Catholic Church investigation of gays in seminaries: "Catholic Church investigators tasked by the Vatican to review U.S. seminaries will be looking for 'evidence of homosexuality' and for professors who dissent from Church teaching, the New York Times reported on Thursday.

The newspaper said a Vatican document prepared to guide the process and given to The New York Times by a priest, surfaces as Catholics await a Vatican ruling on whether homosexuals should be barred from the priesthood.

American seminaries are under review as a result of the sexual abuse scandal that swept the priesthood in 2002, the year the probe which is now starting was announced.

In a possible hint of the ruling's contents, the American archbishop supervising the seminary review said 'anyone who has engaged in homosexual activity or has strong homosexual inclinations,' should not be admitted to a seminary.

The Times said Edwin O'Brien, archbishop for the United States military who is supervising the seminary review, told The National Catholic Register that the restriction should apply even to those who have not been sexually active for a decade or more."

Friday, September 16, 2005

Arianna Huffington: Karl Rove's Big Easy

The Arianna opines on the Bush plan for the Gulf Coast, including the news that Rove has been put in charge: "And speaking of playing politics, I love how the news that Karl Rove has been placed in charge of the reconstruction effort was buried in the ninth paragraph of a twelve paragraph New York Times story on Bush’s big speech.

This assignment proves that despite the president’s lofty rhetoric about “building a better New Orleans”, his main concern is stanching his political bleeding. Let’s be honest, when it comes to large-scale efforts like this, Ol’ Turd Blossom isn’t exactly Gen. George Marshall, who, before devising the Marshall Plan, had, among other things, been responsible for deploying over eight million soldiers in WW II.

Rove’s genius (aside from a Mensa-level mastery of dirty trickery) is for using imagery, spin, and atmospherics to turn political liabilities into political opportunities.

So here is the White House’s Katrina Plan in a nutshell: block any independent examination of its failings, put the Einstein of damage control in charge of reconstructing New Orleans, keep the dead bodies out of sight, try to get away with general platitudes and palliatives, offer watered-down acceptances of “responsibility” while trying to pin everything you can on local yokels and fall guys like Brownie, and let Bush’s corporate cronies get fat on hefty no-bid reconstruction contracts.

So get ready for the New New Orleans -- Karl Rove’s Big Easy -- featuring the Halliburton French Quarter, the ExxonMobil River (formerly the Mississippi), Lake MBNA (formerly Pontchartrain), and Eli Lilly music (formerly jazz)."

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The latest (and last online?) Dowd column

A bit from Maureen's latest (starting Monday, NY Times columnists are for subscribers only: "President Bush continued to try to spin his own inaction yesterday, but he may finally have reached a patch of reality beyond spin. Now he's the one drowning, unable to rescue himself by patting small black children on the head during photo-ops and making scripted attempts to appear engaged. He can keep going back down there, as he will again on Thursday when he gives a televised speech to the nation, but he can never compensate for his tragic inattention during days when so many lives could have been saved.

He made the ultimate sacrifice and admitted his administration had messed up, something he'd refused to do through all of the other screw-ups, from phantom W.M.D. and the torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo to the miscalculations on the Iraq occupation and the insurgency, which will soon claim 2,000 young Americans.

How many places will be in shambles by the time the Bush crew leaves office?"

Bush at the U.N.: Needs a break

Reuters has an actual real true photo of the president's note to Condi asking for advice.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Newsweek's damning report: Bush knew nothing for 5 days

A shocking story from Newsweek, summarized by AmericaBlog.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Bill Moyers on 9/11 and fundamentalism

Here's a link to Bill Moyers' speech at Union Theological Seminary in NYC. Well worth reading.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Find the headline...

The one McClellan and others in the administration say proclaimed New Orleans had dodged a bullet. AmericaBlog reports the only headline found with that wording was on the right wingnut website, WorldNetDaily.

Krugman boldly points fingers and plays the blame game

Do read the whole thing: "In Iraq the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran the country during the crucial first year after Saddam's fall - the period when an effective government might have forestalled the nascent insurgency - was staffed on the basis of ideological correctness and personal connections rather than qualifications. At one point Ari Fleischer's brother was in charge of private-sector development.

The administration followed the same principles in staffing FEMA. The agency had become a highly professional organization during the Clinton years, but under Mr. Bush it reverted to its former status as a 'turkey farm,' a source of patronage jobs.

As Bloomberg News puts it, the agency's 'upper ranks are mostly staffed with people who share two traits: loyalty to President George W. Bush and little or no background in emergency management.' By now everyone knows FEMA's current head went from overseeing horse shows to overseeing the nation's response to disaster, with no obvious qualifications other than the fact that he was Mr. Allbaugh's college roommate.

All that's missing from the Katrina story is an expensive reconstruction effort, with lucrative deals for politically connected companies, that fails to deliver essential services. But give it time - they're working on that, too.

Why did the administration make the same mistakes twice? Because it paid no political price the first time."

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Olbermann's timeline

Crooks and Liars has a video Keith put together showing the time line of reality versus administration statements.

Dowd: Haunted by Hesitation

Haunted by Hesitation - New York Times: "It took a while, but the president finally figured out a response to the destruction of New Orleans.

Later this week (no point rushing things) W. is dispatching Dick Cheney to the rancid lake that was a romantic city. The vice president has at long last lumbered back from a Wyoming vacation, and, reportedly, from shopping for a $2.9 million waterfront estate in St. Michael's, a retreat in the Chesapeake Bay where Rummy has a weekend home, where 'Wedding Crashers' was filmed and where rich lobbyists hunt.

Maybe Mr. Cheney is going down to New Orleans to hunt looters. Or to make sure that Halliburton's lucrative contract to rebuild the city is watertight. Or maybe, since former Senator John Breaux of Louisiana described the shattered parish as "Baghdad under water," the vice president plans to take his pal Ahmad Chalabi along for a consultation on destroying minority rights.

The water that breached the New Orleans levees and left a million people homeless and jobless has also breached the White House defenses. Reality has come flooding in. Since 9/11, the Bush administration has been remarkably successful at blowing off "the reality-based community," as it derisively calls the press.

But now, when W., Mr. Cheney, Laura, Rummy, Gen. Richard Myers, Michael Chertoff and the rest of the gang tell us everything's under control, our cities are safe, stay the course - who believes them?

This time we can actually see the bodies."

Friedman on the difference between Osama and Katrina

Osama and Katrina - New York Times: "Well, if 9/11 is one bookend of the Bush administration, Katrina may be the other. If 9/11 put the wind at President Bush's back, Katrina's put the wind in his face. If the Bush-Cheney team seemed to be the right guys to deal with Osama, they seem exactly the wrong guys to deal with Katrina - and all the rot and misplaced priorities it's exposed here at home.

These are people so much better at inflicting pain than feeling it, so much better at taking things apart than putting them together, so much better at defending 'intelligent design' as a theology than practicing it as a policy."

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Froomkin: Dealing With Political Disaster

Dan Froomkin of the WaPo blogs on Karl's efforts to save his boss's butt: "President Bush somehow missed the significance of what was happening on the Gulf Coast last week as he and his political guru, Karl Rove, flitted between Texas and California and, finally, Washington.

But now, facing what is clearly a full-scale political disaster, Rove and a handful of other masterful political operatives have gone into overdrive. They are back in campaign mode.

This campaign is to salvage Bush's reputation.

Like previous Rove operations, it calls for multiple appearances by the president in controlled environments in which he can appear leader-like. It calls for extensive use of Air Force One and a massive deployment of spinners.

It doesn't necessarily include any change in policy. It certainly doesn't include any admission of error.

It utilizes the classic Rovian tactic of attacking critics rather than defending against their criticism -- and of throwing up chaff to muddle the issue and throw the press off the scent.

It calls for public expressions of outrage over the politicization of the issue and of those who would play the 'blame game.' While at the same time, it is utterly political in nature and heavily reliant on shifting the blame elsewhere."

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Sploid on the case

Sploid carries bunches of disheartening articles about the inane efforts of our government in the wake of Katrina. Check 'em out.

Barbara Bush: Things Working Out 'Very Well' for Poor Evacuees from New Orleans

Editor & Publisher offers an insane quote about the evacuees from New Orleans: "In a segment at the top of the show on the surge of
evacuees to the Texas city, Barbara Bush said: 'Almost
everyone I’ve talked to says we're going to move to

Then she added: 'What I’m hearing which is sort of
scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is
so overwhelmed by the hospitality.

'And so many of the people in the arena here, you
know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she
chuckles slightly) is working very well for them.'"

Olbermann lets loose

The 'city' of Louisiana - Bloggermann - "But, nationally, these are leaders who won re-election last year largely by portraying their opponents as incapable of keeping the country safe. These are leaders who regularly pressure the news media in this country to report the reopening of a school or a power station in Iraq, and defies its citizens not to stand up and cheer. Yet they couldn't even keep one school or power station from being devastated by infrastructure collapse in New Orleans — even though the government had heard all the 'chatter' from the scientists and city planners and hurricane centers and some group whose purposes the government couldn't quite discern... a group called The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

And most chillingly of all, this is the Law and Order and Terror government. It promised protection — or at least amelioration — against all threats: conventional, radiological, or biological.

It has just proved that it cannot save its citizens from a biological weapon called standing water."

Monday, September 05, 2005

Shieffer tells it like it is, again

Crooks and Liars has the video of Bob Shieffer's Sunday commentary--and once again ol' Bob gives his friend the president large grief: "SCHIEFFER: Finally, a personal thought. We have come through what may have been one of the worst weeks in America's history, a week in which government at every level failed the people it was created to serve. There is no purpose for government except to improve the lives of its citizens. Yet as scenes of horror that seemed to be coming from some Third World country flashed before us, official Washington was like a dog watching television. It saw the lights and images, but did not seem to comprehend their meaning or see any link to reality." Go see the whole thing. Dipping His Toe Into Disaster

TIME's scathing review of Bush's week: "It isn't easy picking George Bush's worst moment last week. Was it his first go at addressing the crisis Wednesday, when he came across as cool to the point of uncaring? Was it when he said that he didn't 'think anybody expected' the New Orleans levees to give way, though that very possibility had been forecast for years? Was it when he arrived in Mobile, Ala., a full four days after the storm made landfall, and praised his hapless Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director, Michael D. Brown, whose disaster credentials seemed to consist of once being the commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association? 'Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job,' said the President. Or was it that odd moment when he promised to rebuild Mississippi Senator Trent Lott's house--a gesture that must have sounded astonishingly tone-deaf to the homeless black citizens still trapped in the postapocalyptic water world of New Orleans. 'Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house--he's lost his entire house,' cracked Bush, 'there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch.'

Bush seemed so regularly out of it last week, it made you wonder if he was stuck in the same White House bubble of isolation that confined his dad. Too often, W. looked annoyed. Or he smiled when he should have been serious. Or he swaggered when simple action would have been the right move."

Administration's primary task: Play politics with the tragedy

Rove is on the case! From the NYTimes: "Under the command of President Bush's two senior political advisers, the White House rolled out a plan this weekend to contain the political damage from the administration's response to Hurricane Katrina.

It orchestrated visits by cabinet members to the region, leading up to an extraordinary return visit by Mr. Bush planned for Monday, directed administration officials not to respond to attacks from Democrats on the relief efforts, and sought to move the blame for the slow response to Louisiana state officials, according to Republicans familiar with the White House plan.

The effort is being directed by Mr. Bush's chief political adviser, Karl Rove, and his communications director, Dan Bartlett. It began late last week after Congressional Republicans called White House officials to register alarm about what they saw as a feeble response by Mr. Bush to the hurricane, according to Republican Congressional aides."

The stories we've seen this weekend about "rolling relief efforts" as backdrops to Bush's earlier photo-ops only prove that they really aren't all that serious about major recovery efforts, but about making Bush look better.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Crooks and Liars has video of Fox reporters telling it like it is

Crooks and Liars: "Shepard Smith and Geraldo Rivera were livid about the situation in NOLA as they appeared on H&C. When Hannity tried his usual spin job and said 'let's get this in perspective,' Smith chopped him off at the knees and started yelling at him saying, 'This is perspective!' It was shocking."

Food held up for Bush visit

AMERICAblog points to a piece on the Daily Picayune website, with some opinions: "Whoever halted the food delivery should be fired and brought up on charges of criminal negligence. We need to know who ordered the air traffic stopped, did they know they were stopping the food deliveries, who else knew the food deliveries were being stopped, did anyone object to or know about them being stopped, if so who objected and to whom did they object and what response did they get?

This isn't just a 'sad' story, this is criminally negligent. Someone had to affirmatively tell that food to stop. We need to know who, and we need to know if anyone associated with the White House or Secret Service or any other government official knew about this.

From the Times-Picayune (the story was on a breaking news page, it's now moved off, so I'm taking down the link, but it's for real, I copied it off the newspaper's web site)"

Bush visit halts food delivery
By Michelle Krupa
Staff writer

Three tons of food ready for delivery by air to refugees in St. Bernard Parish and on Algiers Point sat on the Crescent City Connection bridge Friday afternoon as air traffic was halted because of President Bush’s visit to New Orleans, officials said.

The provisions, secured by U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-Napoleonville, and state Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom, baked in the afternoon sun as Bush surveyed damage across southeast Louisiana five days after Katrina made landfall as a Category 4 storm, said Melancon’s chief of staff, Casey O’Shea.

“We had arrangements to airlift food by helicopter to these folks, and now the food is sitting in trucks because they won’t let helicopters fly,” O’Shea said Friday afternoon.

The food was expected to be in the hands of storm survivors after the president left the devastated region Friday night, he said.

Dowd on Bush's poor excuses

United States of Shame - 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.

In June 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, fretted to The Times-Picayune in New Orleans: '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.'

Not only was the money depleted by the Bush folly in Iraq; 30 percent of the National Guard and about half its equipment are in Iraq."

'My Pet Goat'--The Sequel

Greg Mitchell lets Bush have it at Editor & Publisher: "This time, during a catastrophe, the president did not merely dither for seven minutes, but for three days, and his top advisors followed suit. While the media has done a good job in portraying the overall failure of leadership in this weeks hurricane's disaster, it has not focused enough on this deadly dereliction of duty. "

Friday, September 02, 2005

A Can't-Do Government

Paul Krugman in the New York Times: "I don't think this is a simple tale of incompetence. The reason the military wasn't rushed in to help along the Gulf Coast is, I believe, the same reason nothing was done to stop looting after the fall of Baghdad. Flood control was neglected for the same reason our troops in Iraq didn't get adequate armor.

At a fundamental level, I'd argue, our current leaders just aren't serious about some of the essential functions of government. They like waging war, but they don't like providing security, rescuing those in need or spending on preventive measures. And they never, ever ask for shared sacrifice.

Yesterday Mr. Bush made an utterly fantastic claim: that nobody expected the breach of the levees. In fact, there had been repeated warnings about exactly that risk.

So America, once famous for its can-do attitude, now has a can't-do government that makes excuses instead of doing its job. And while it makes those excuses, Americans are dying."

Where is Cheney?

AMERICAblog raises the question I was just wondering myself: Where is the VP?: "We've heard nothing from him for weeks. And now that New Orleans, and the entire Bush administration, is a massive disaster, no word from Cheney at all? Is that because he's on super secret double background vacation, or because he's seriously ill? This is just a hunch, but it would explain why Bush is SO off his game this week, why the administration is falling apart at the seams, essentially leaderless. Because their leader is seriously ill."

As I recall just about the last time we heard from him was weeks ago, when Arianna Huffington reported he was visiting a hospital in Colorado and there was all kinds of hush-hush about it. We need all the leadership we can get in this horrible hurricane aftermath.

Note the link there to Charles Rangel's comments earlier, in which he discusses the VP's bad health.

Speaking of the hurricane, the stories coming out are overwhelming. Hunter provides a moving summary at Daily Kos here. Unfathomable, the ineptness of the administration, before and after the hurricane struck. I couldn't believe hearing Shep Smith of Fox News ranting about the conditions and lack of National Guard or any aid to Sean Hannity on the radio yesterday (I hit the wrong radio button in my car). Thankfully, individual people, communities, churches, and organizations are stepping up and pitching in. God help us.

Here's a link to an earlier posting about Cheney, who has been on vacation, so they say, and no, they're not sure when he'll get back. Unbelievable.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Waiting for a Leader - New York Times Editorial

Waiting for a Leader - New York Times: "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."

Read the whole thing.