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September 5, 2005

Words Line Up In Formation And Fail Me
Posted by Patrick at 09:55 PM * 52 comments

Henry Farrell writes to point out that Michael Froomkin has a link to the audio of that interview with Barbara Bush. Henry observes:

Editor and Publisher actually softened it. She actually said, “What I’m hearing—which is sort of scary—is that they want to stay.”

Maybe I will have that drink after all.

Comments on Words Line Up In Formation And Fail Me:
#1 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 10:09 PM:

Cake?

Or, as a substitute for pushing the woman's head down in a cake, how about calling a new Constitutional Convention?

#2 ::: Alec Austin ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 10:14 PM:

My French friends tell me the line was actually, "Let them eat Brioche!" Though cake trips off the tongue better.

I'll second the motion for a drink. Or twenty, which with my (miniscule) alcohol tolerance would kill me dead.

#3 ::: Lizzy Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 10:27 PM:

Patrick, is this telling you anything about Barbara Bush that you didn't already know, or at least, strongly suspect? The rich are different from you and me: the experience of NOT HAVING MONEY and therefore not being able to happily and comfortably choose where to live is utterly foreign to her -- just as W. has probably never gone hungry in his whole life...

#4 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 10:44 PM:

The shock isn't that this is Barbara Bush's true nature. The shock is that she figures she can get away with being so frank about it.

Judging from some of the responses, she may be right.

#5 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 10:53 PM:

I just have to keep reminding myself that the Bush clan and retainers are American citizens, too, and so deserve a fair trial.

#6 ::: Lizzy Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 11:03 PM:

She can be so frank about it because in her world she and people like her is/are the norm and those of us who find her shocking are aberrant and weird. She can be frank because either she genuinely believes that all these happy folks are just delighted to be uprooted and moved to Houston, or she believes that the rest of us are dumb enough to believe it.

Psalm 94: "O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongs, show thyself...render a reward to the proud." And Psalm 144: "Send thy hand from above... and deliver me out of great waters, from the hands of strange children, whose mouths speak vanity, and their right hand is a hand of falsehood."

#7 ::: Kate Yule ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 11:05 PM:

What they deserve is a meditation retreat in Gitmo until they achieve enlightenment.

Not that I'm bitter or anything.

#8 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 12:00 AM:

They've been getting away with a palace coup, gross incompetence, theft, betrayal of the Constitution and the American people, lies, treason, and now mass murder. And that's a small list. And what did they get? Re-election. They have reason to feel safe. Bush just got the chance to shape American law for a generation or more. Why should he feel bad?

#9 ::: Phil Palmer ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 01:16 AM:

You think that's scary? Words have failed you already? Try this:

"But nothing, in the plethora of grim tales of disaster, compares with a terrible incident recounted to me as the week drew to a close. There was a 380-pound man stranded on the seventh floor of a New Orleans hospital. Unable to get him down five flights of stairs to the second-floor exit, through which other patients were being evacuated onto rescue boats to escape the rising floodwater, a female manager took a shocking decision. She ordered that he be given euthanasia."

From
http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=1886932005
via the Left Coaster

#10 ::: Fernmonkey ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 03:41 AM:

My French friends tell me the line was actually, "Let them eat Brioche!" Though cake trips off the tongue better.

The ol' spouse and I have a long-running irreconcilable argument about whether or not brioche is bread or cake. I think I win now that Marie Antoinette is on my side.

#11 ::: Zoe ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 05:30 AM:

I don't have a link for this - my dad heard it on the radio a day or two ago.

A Brit who made it home said he'd seen an army boat pass a group of girls on top of a roof who shouted at them for help. The soldiers shouted back something like "show us what you've got then" and when the girls didn't cooperate by pulling up their tops, the boat went on and left them.

Watching TV last night, it was weird to see families rescued from their homes at gunpoint. I'm wary of forming opinions about these things from a nice safe distance, but it seemed like a very odd way to treat people who needed help. Am I missing something?

#12 ::: Henry Richardson ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 06:31 AM:

The euthanasia story sounds like bull to me. No names, no hospital name, and 380 pounds is not THAT heavy.

#13 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 10:47 AM:

Certainly not by Louisiana standards. (I don't mean that in a nasty way.) And who stops to 'give euthanasia' in the middle of an evacuation?

#14 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 10:49 AM:

Henry noticed the same thing I did -- only 380 pounds? And going downstairs? Not too tough to do.

And ... no names, no place, no way to check ...

(Oh, and if you go to the original story cited -- "Military experts said last night that regular soldiers - let alone elite assault troops - had never before been used to quell disorder in the United States" -- their military experts aren't too expert, apparently never having heard of the Draft Riots.)

#15 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 11:12 AM:

Zoe: Watching TV last night, it was weird to see families rescued from their homes at gunpoint. I'm wary of forming opinions about these things from a nice safe distance, but it seemed like a very odd way to treat people who needed help.

I feel like a wingnut for saying this, but considering what we've heard about abandoned communities being deliberately cut off from communication, I'd be in denial if I didn't think of it: What proof does anyone have that these supposedly rescued people are being delivered to safety?

#16 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 11:16 AM:

What proof does anyone have that these supposedly rescued people are being delivered to safety?

Because assuming otherwise would be assuming that the corruption and indifference of the Bush mob extends down to individual Fish and Game officers.

#17 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 11:45 AM:

James: I ask this in all confusion--are F&G officers authorized to "rescue" people at gunpoint?

#18 ::: (not the same) Katrina ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 11:52 AM:

The E&P article previously linked to does include the "sort of scary" wording at this point. Perhaps that wording was added in the update, if it hadn't been present before? If the article had been softened, it seems to have been 'de-softened.'

#19 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 12:30 PM:

Can police use force to stop a person from jumping off a bridge?

Short answer: Yes.

That's the whole imminent danger/protective custody thing. Police can take someone into protective custody, and that can look from the outside a whole lot like a felony arrest.

#20 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 12:43 PM:

James D. Macdonald:
their military experts aren't too expert, apparently never having heard of the Draft Riots.

Heck, what about the Bonus Marchers (1932)? MacArthur use the Army there.

#21 ::: Zoe ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 12:47 PM:

People weren't jumping off bridges or doing anything that would endanger themselves or, from what I could see, that threatened to endanger others.

The journalist in the boat was talking to a guy who said there was a family stranded down the road/waterway. They broke down the door to enter, and the adult walking members of the family came out at gunpoint with their hands up. The young kids and very ill grandfather followed after them.

I know it's necessary for the police etc. to do things which might look unreasonable the other side of the TV, but which actually make perfect sense. I just don't see why such an aggressive, suspicious approach should have been appropriate here.

#22 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 12:48 PM:

Patrick writes: The shock is that she figures she can get away with being so frank about it. [...] Judging from some of the responses, she may be right.

Um... "she may be right?" I'm having a hard time imagining the kind of sci-fi America I would have to be living in for there to be any plausible reason whatsoever to believe in the slimmest hope of a chance at an opportunity to keep her from getting away with being so frank about it.

More to the point: I don't think there's a market for that story.

#23 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 01:00 PM:

People weren't jumping off bridges or doing anything that would endanger themselves or, from what I could see, that threatened to endanger others.

Staying in a pestilential swamp, with cholera, typhus, dysentery, yellowjack ... no food, no water, no sanitation ... if they don't come out now, alive, all they'll be is more sources of contagion. Someone would just have to come by later and put them into body bags with a shovel.

#24 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 01:40 PM:

Okay, time for my Barbara Bush story. Back in 1990 or '91 the Boston Globe magazine published a long profile of the First Lady--it was the cover article. During the interview, she was asked to relate what she admired about her husband, and she told a story that went something like this:

In the early seventies they were living in Houston. There was a newspaper article about a baby in the housing projects that had been bitten on the face by a rat. George Sr. was so upset by this that he rummaged around and found the old Bush family crib and took it over to the poor family so the baby would not have to sleep on the floor. A sweet, heartwarming story of charity, yes?

Except George Herbert Walker Bush was a sitting member of Congress at the time. He was one of the few people who could pick up the phone and say, "Why are my constituents being bitten by rats?" and actually expect an answer. One might even think that it would be part of his job to do so.

I haven't been able to stand the woman since she told this pathetic story of her husband sticking a band-aid on a problem instead of doing his job. And it doesn't look like she--or the rest of the family--has changed in any respect.

#25 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 02:09 PM:

Staying in a pestilential swamp, with cholera, typhus, dysentery, yellowjack ... no food, no water, no sanitation ... if they don't come out now, alive, all they'll be is more sources of contagion. Someone would just have to come by later and put them into body bags with a shovel.

Maybe, but there's another, more cynical explanation. There are parts of NO that are perfectly dry, and in fact if you read the Interdictor blog they are beginning to restore power, at least to the CBD. So my quietly cynical heart wonders if the mostly white Algiers area is being 'evacuated' at gunpoint, too.

Because if you want to build Disneyland New Orleans, it's helpful if there aren't any remaining poor residents to act as anchors for their neighbors who might choose to return.

#26 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 02:37 PM:

Re the Algiers district on Sunday morning.

From the Times-Picayune this morning:

"Work on the Algiers Point ferry and landing was completed Tuesday morning, making it available to move equipment and supplies between the east and west banks of the Mississippi River."

Unfortunately, there's also this report dated 9/5/05, 4:19PM:

"One resident of the unflooded Algiers section of New Orleans on the west bank of the Mississippi River reports that the 65,000 population of the neighborhood has been reduced by forced evacuations to 2000 even though there are relatively undamaged schools, parks, and churches available to house the homeless. The remaining population of Algiers is in urgent need of medical supplies."


#27 ::: Patrick Weekes ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 02:43 PM:

While I'm not at all in agreement with the woman, it's possible to read her words in another light -- and I strongly suspect that when enough publicity has been stirred up about it, this is what they'll fall back on as what she originally meant:

She was and is genuinely sympathetic. When she says that they want to stay in Texas because they like it better, she's saying that in relation to how awful things were in the dome and in the city. That little laugh is a laugh of disbelief at how awful the situation was, that living in refugee shelters in Texas is that much of an improvement. And when she says that it's scary, she's saying that it's scary that they think of this as such a step up from where they were before -- it's scary to see people in that situation.

Not saying that I'm positive that that's what she means, but I don't think that statement is as clear-cut as others seem to think. I think there are easier places to target our outrage, areas that might result in something getting done. This is just an invitation for a "No, you didn't understand what I meant"-fest, resulting in lots of semantic handwaving and pointless soundbites by the hack from the left and the hack from the right.

#28 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 02:49 PM:

There's a report in The Guardian to the effect that some of the worst Superdome stories now seem to be short of evidence -- no rape victims and no corpses. The report of Algiers being depopulated apparently comes from a particular site which is carrying a lot of extreme stories, run by somebody caled "Wayne Madsen"

It's a site which also seems to be pushing the communications jamming story.

I can't help wondering if somebody has been reading Seftom Delmer's account of black propaganda aimed at Nazi Germany.

If some of the stories do turn out to be lies, check just where they started from.

#29 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 03:01 PM:

James D. Macdonald: Okay, first question answered, then: Yes, F&G officers are authorized to evacuate people at gunpoint. Thank you. The second question would be, then, is it the F&G officers who are doing so, if the reason we're to assume the evacuees are being delivered to safety is that to assume otherwise means rescue workers like F&G officers would have to be in on it?

I know, I know I sound like a wingnut. But the numbers of bodies I'm hearing from official news sources, compared to what rescue workers are saying unofficially...coupled with the first-hand report that FEMA cut emergency communication lines to an abandoned community...in all the confusion, how easy it is to disappear a few hundred or even a few thousand people?

#30 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 03:09 PM:

While I'm not at all in agreement with the woman, it's possible to read her words in another light

And it's true the the attitude in Texas tends to be that if you're there for more than a visit, you're a Texan, even if you don't want to be one.

And there are people in Texas, even now, who are still having trouble with the idea that non-whites are really human, just like them. (In one area, a Hispanic-ancestry nurse was assumed to be a drug-dealer when she was able to buy a decent house, because people 'knew' that she couldn't be paid enough to afford it. Fill in your own description of them.) I just hope that Miz Barbara isn't one of those, because she should, by now, know better.

And, for those who may be interested in the origins of the Shrub's views:

http://www.wargs.com/political/

Genealogies of a whole lot of political types.

#31 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 04:03 PM:

The report of Algiers being depopulated apparently comes from a particular site which is carrying a lot of extreme stories, run by somebody caled "Wayne Madsen."

The Wayne Madsen site may be unreliable and exaggerated. But the police are definitely trying to get everyone out of the city, including in the dry areas. Today's SF Chronicle includes a statement reprinted from the N.Y. Times from W.J. Riley ("the city's no. 2 police official"):

"We continue in lockdown," said Riley, the Police Department's assistant superintendent. "We want to make sure thzat looters have a very serious force to address." [....] "Our officers are telling people there's absolutely no reason to stay," Riley said. "There are no homes to go to. There's no hotels. We advise people that this city has been destroyed, completely destroyed."

The police may be right in wanting to evacuate everyone from the city, period. But there are other stories popping up about partial restoration of electricity and groups of people trying to stay in the dry areas and rebuild without leaving. I have no clue to second-guess whether the total evacuation policy is in the best interest of everyone. Maybe it is. But it does sound like the primary police objective is to safeguard abandoned property, rather than to look after the welfare of people who're still there. I hope the reports about people being forced to leave at gunpoint are false.

#32 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 04:43 PM:

I'm willing to believe that Barbara's word could be interpreted two different ways. But then I also remember the debacle when she called Geraldine Ferraro a bitch without actually saying the word. (I was a very wee tyke at the time, but I remembered the Steve Benson political cartoon.)

#33 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 04:59 PM:

There are days when I think the neocons want to take the country back to the past (like, say, the 18th century), because they see themselves as the plantation owners and the rest of us as tenant farmers and field hands, at best.

Unfortunately, they want to do this without asking if the rest of us are interested in playing their game. And, if they can get away with it, all modern conveniences - for themselves. The rest of us wouldn't be able to afford much of anything.

#34 ::: Stephanie ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 05:05 PM:

And there are people in Texas, even now, who are still having trouble with the idea that non-whites are really human, just like them.

Please, let's not pretend that Texas is the only place that occurs.

#35 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 05:18 PM:

And when she says that it's scary, she's saying that it's scary that they think of this as such a step up from where they were before -- it's scary to see people in that situation.

After listening to the clip, that was my interpretation too--that she started off with a comment about how genuinely horrible things were--that people are happier to be living in a refugee camp than stuck in Lake George. She then wanders off into stupidity rather than evil.

I think Barbara Bush is, overall, an evil woman. I don't think this is rip-the-mask-off moment. Maybe I'm wrong.

#36 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 06:14 PM:

Please, let's not pretend that Texas is the only place that occurs.

I live in Los Angeles; I was here during the King riots. That verdict was predictable (Simi Valley is the home of a lot of law officers). Even then the feeling was that the police chief at the time should have seen the riots coming.

There are bigots everywhere.

#37 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 06:32 PM:

Phil, that story seems quite unlikely. I've been evacuated down 10 flights of stairs at a time we thought I was over 500 pounds. (I was in kidney failure and we think I had about 300 pounds of water weight.) The stair-chairs make it much easier than gurneys.

#38 ::: Henry Richardson ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 08:35 PM:

Had to run off to work 30 or so posts ago. More little points about The Scotsman. The article in question also states:

"Bush announced active duty troops from ..., the 1st Calvary, ...would arrive..." What? You mean the Golgotha brigade?

There's another article in the sidebar entitled Escape from a hotel full of looters which includes the following sentence:

"A Jewish missionary couple working there warned the tourists to be on their guard..."

Uh, wait a second. Jewish missionary couple? Damn near stripped my cerebral clutch shifting mental gears on that one. (I mean, after spending a small fortune on Jeho-No-Mo spray, I would welcome Jewish missionaries at my front door on a Sunday morning.)

I do not get a sense that The Scotsman is exactly a reliable source. Perhaps it should have a yellow background on the web pages.

#39 ::: Henry Richardson ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 08:51 PM:

There seems to be some geographical confusion. New Orleans is like Boston in that it's a city surrounded by smaller cities and towns, cheek by jowl. It is not unusual that they might be evacuating New Orleans at the same time that people are returning to parts of Kenner (two towns over) to pick up belongings and have some electricity and they expect to restore some utilities to Metairie just next door. The non-local press may report all of these as New Orleans, umbrage not withstanding.

#40 ::: Lizzy Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 09:05 PM:

This from my Earthlink home page news:
"Brown also urged local fire and rescue departments outside Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi not to send trucks or emergency workers into disaster areas without an explicit request for help from state or local governments."

Never mind Barbara Bush; can we please get Michael Brown fired, PLEASE?

#41 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 09:13 PM:

Yeah, but the electricity being restored is in downtown New Orleans, not one of the little cities around it. In fact, some of the street lights are now on. It just seems... odd... to start breaking into people's homes and forcing them out at gunpoint, at this stage.

#42 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 09:29 PM:

What they deserve is a meditation retreat in Gitmo until they achieve enlightenment.

Don't even get me started or the Secret Service will show up on my doorstep. Firing's too good for 'em. Jail's too good for 'em, too.

#44 ::: Henry Richardson ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 10:09 PM:

Tavella: I had only heard about outlying towns getting power.

The French Quarter has underground power lines that are pretty much floodproof, and I suspect many of the larger buildings downtown have the same. I now guess that both will come back online when the substations come back, but the areas that had overhead lines will be dark for weeks or months even.

Also, power is not water or sewer. There's still a public health hazard until those get fixed. I don't like the thought of forcing people out of their homes at gunpoint either, but I think they have valid reasons to evacuate the city and keep it evacuated.

I also don't really think that the rescue personnel will actually shoot someone in order to evacuate them. In some cases, having that gun pointed at you means that you can leave with your pride intact. "They had to put a gun to my head to make me leave." The couple of photo-essays I've seen showed people being coerced out by being told they would get no more water delivered. The shotguns stayed pointed at the ground and pistols holstered.

It's all terrifying and horrible and uplifting and exasperating at the same time. Fact competes with rumor and opinion with prejudice. Heads need to roll for this one. Heads need to roll for months and years to come.

#45 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 10:14 PM:

Please everybody read the link Elizabeth provided. It's made me sick, physically sick all over again and at this point it takes some doing.

#46 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 11:00 PM:

What Lizzy is referring to is an article, via AP, on this memo. (Firing is probably too good for Brown - I read the article, including this paragraph:

Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, sought the approval from Homeland Security Secretary Mike Chertoff roughly five hours after Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29. Brown said that among duties of these employees was to "convey a positive image" about the government's response for victims.

The memo from FEMA Director Mike Brown to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is available at: http://wid.ap.org/documents/dhskatrina.pdf

#47 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 12:02 AM:

"A Jewish missionary couple working there warned the tourists to be on their guard..."

Uh, wait a second. Jewish missionary couple? Damn near stripped my cerebral clutch shifting mental gears on that one. (I mean, after spending a small fortune on Jeho-No-Mo spray, I would welcome Jewish missionaries at my front door on a Sunday morning.)

the "jewish missionaries" referred to are probably chabad/lubavitch, who are in the area. even the characterization is not totally off the mark; they missionary (what is the verb?), but only to those who are already jewish.

#48 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 12:26 AM:

To add another account:

3 Duke University students pose as press to help evacuate people

"We found it absolutely incredible that the authorities had no way to get there for four or five days, that they didn't go in and help these people, and we made it in a two-wheel-drive Hyundai," said Hans Buder, who made the trip with his roommate Byrd and another student, David Hankla.

#49 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 07:00 PM:

For those wondering about the fate of those being evacuated

I just got back from a FEMA Detainment camp

#50 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 07:17 PM:

tavella, it's not the power, it's the water. It has so many toxins in it that many people are being treated for skin rashes and such.

#51 ::: pricklefoot ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 11:19 PM:

The Chabad/Lubavitcher verb you seek is "proselytize," and they're willing to convert non-Jews when available.

Another person conceivably misidentified as "missionary Jew" would be a Fundamentalist Christian who's pinned on a "Jews for Jesus" label.

Sorry to be fangirlish, but I do have to say that being able to read your snarky and intelligent commentary here has been a welcome counterbalance to the horrible news.

This particular narrative brought to mind the mad scramble for the less-lethal air at the top of the gas chambers. While even the "MSM" have recognized the governmental willingness to abandon people who aren't white, few have mentioned how much people with disabilities have disproportionately suffered.

#52 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2005, 10:27 PM:
But the Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless and sagacious. When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and light-hearted friends from among the knights and dames of his court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys.
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