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January 20, 2006

A Day Late and a Dollar Short
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 02:10 AM *

A mere three-and-a-half months after Hurricane Katrina (and where’s the federal investigation?), Michael Brown has noticed that maybe he had something to do with the botched federal response to the storm:

Brown Accepts More Blame on Katrina

Ex-FEMA Chief Michael Brown Now Says He Deserves Much of the Blame for Hurricane Katrina Failures

By TOM GARDNER Associated Press Writer

MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. Jan 19, 2006 — Former FEMA Director Michael Brown has placed blame on everyone from New Orleans’ mayor to Louisiana’s governor for the chaos following Hurricane Katrina. Now, he’s including himself.

Brown said Wednesday he fell short of conveying the magnitude of the disaster wrought by the nation’s deadliest hurricane, and calling for help.

Fell short? Ya think?

Try the search link in the left-hand column here to find our previous comments on Michael Brown falling short.

Brown said he doesn’t want to play the blame game.

Completely understandable, big guy. Who’d want to play a game when there are 1,300 American citizens known dead and 3,200 still missing? Not that he wasn’t pretty quick to “play the blame game” back in September. You’d have thought it was The Family Circus for all the times Not Me and Ida Know were trotted out.

FEMA had been gutted by the Bush administration, with known incompetent political cronies put in charge. It’s nice that the agency’s head incompetent is admitting what the rest of us have known for months. But isn’t there someone else who should be taking some responsibility?

Comments on A Day Late and a Dollar Short:
#1 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 07:51 AM:

But isn?t there someone else who should be taking some responsibility?

He was clearing storm-damaged timber is Texas. What more do you want him to do?

#2 ::: toni ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 08:08 AM:

I live in Baton Rouge and blogged through Katrina and the aftermath, and the stunning lack of caring shown by many of the FEMA people in charge which I encountered was unbelievable. We (my family) went into areas just north of New Orleans (Mandeville and Covington) to try to help, and it looked like a war zone. There was no official support or help -- none -- for days. We found one shelter which had no water, almost no food left, and more than a hundred elderly people and young families with infants who were sleeping on a concrete floor. The heat was so bad (98) and there was no real circulation of air, so the floor would sweat. The people would stay outside until night, but ended up sleeping on cardboard or sheets from home (if they had any) on that wet floor. People were falling, getting hurt. I went back to Baton Rouge, found the FEMA guy in charge of the LSU triage center and cornered him and told him of the conditions. (There was one little Red Cross volunteer there, but no supplies from them, either.) That was day 7. We returned several times, and by day 12, there was still no help. The only supplies those people and many like them were getting were the generous donations from people from other states, friends of mine, who mailed in supplies for me to bring. (The stores were stripped bare and there were no trucks in yet with supplies. People asked me if I needed help, and when I listed what I needed, I thought I might get ten or twenty boxes of stuff. I got more than 1000, and delivered them all to the various shelters. You have no idea how grateful we were.) That particular shelter finally got offical aide on day 14.

FEMA and the Bush administration has completely forgotten that the American people are resiliant and want to help. They made almost no efforts to coordinate volunteered supplies, unless it went through the "official channels" -- which then told people they didn't need anything right now. One of the ER doctors who came to work at the LSU triage had years of triage experience (having run the trauma center in L.A.). He called FEMA to see where they needed him when he saw the storm hit and they said, "We don't think we're going to need any doctors, but thanks." He packed up his stuff and came anyway and ended up working 20 hour days in the LSU triage center.

There is a lot of blame to be laid at the feet of our own state government on all levels as well, but the shock of seeing the national system so dysfunctional and abysmally unprepared will never leave me. Seeing people dying when there were FEMA trucks nearby and no one would do anything was an unimaginable horror playing out in front of me. Now FEMA has presented Louisiana with a bill of (I don't remember the exact figure) around $3 billion. Our state is devastated and we've lost so many lives which could have been saved if FEMA had done their job. I wonder if we should give FEMA a bill for every life lost?

#3 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 08:36 AM:

But isn’t there someone else who should be taking some responsibility?

That's right, it's all Hillary Clinton's fault. Or maybe Al Gore's. Or Michael Moore's.

But certainly not Dear Leader's. Didn't he single handedly rescue thousands of nuns and small children by swimmming back and forth across Lake Potchatrian pulling a small rowboat?

#4 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 10:28 AM:

Well, now we know what compassionate conservatism really is, and how important it is to show Arabian horses.

#5 ::: Mark Henaghen ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 10:38 AM:

Read the whole article; particularly likes where Brown says:

"These are not FEMA roles," Brown said at the time. "FEMA doesn't evacuate communities. FEMA does not do law enforcement. FEMA does not do communications."

Explains a lot. His points may be true, but apparently, under Michael Brown, the key idea is, was, and shall be
"FEMA does not do."

#6 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 11:07 AM:

So, who paid him for that public mea culpa and how much?

#7 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 11:52 AM:

Read the whole article; particularly likes where Brown says:

"These are not FEMA roles," Brown said at the time. "FEMA doesn't evacuate communities. FEMA does not do law enforcement. FEMA does not do communications."

Explains a lot. His points may be true, but apparently, under Michael Brown, the key idea is, was, and shall be
"FEMA does not do."

Which raises the vexed question of what Brown thought FEMA was supposed to do. Aside from pay him, that is.

#8 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 12:15 PM:

"... FEMA does not do communications."

FEMA only talks to itself, I guess. (The others are actually legitimate 'FEMA doesn't do' lines. They're supposed to come in for the cleanup, though.)

#9 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 12:38 PM:

They aren't part of the The New Whatever-it-is that the Neocon[victed-ought-to-be-convicted-criminals]want --oh, The New World Order and the Neocons seems to be going for every way they can create of getting rid of those who aren't their good friends.

I wonder... Abramoff and associates bled the Indian tribes of money for every cent Abramoff and his fellow slime could squeeze... they weren't exactly his "friends" I surmise, since they were the ones being shaken down, not the ones the cash flow was going to.

I wonder, is Publish America one of the recipients of Abramoff & associates' "grease" ?? ...

#10 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 01:26 PM:

Who’d want to play a game when there are 1,300 American citizens known dead and 3,200 still missing?

I'll keep saying this until I'm blue in the face, because I believe this is deliberate underreporting by the relevant agencies: These numbers don't match what I was hearing from Search & Rescue people in the area at the time, who informally reported tens of thousands of bodies.

And let me point out that a lot of S&R people are conservative, Republican, and military or paramilitary.

#11 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 01:31 PM:

"FEMA does not do..." %&%#$#$&%! Damn, that stupid %$%# man doesn't even understand the gravity of what he's saying! He's saying, FEMA doesn't do what needs to be done. FEMA doesn't do its job. Ever heard of "Emergency Management," dude? I thought not.

As for Bush taking responsibility -- yawn. Not gonna happen. And if, God forbid, the earth were to crack open across Los Angeles tomorrow, do you think FEMA is any better prepared to do its job? I don't. And we -- taxpayers -- are still paying Michael Brown a salary, are we not?

It gives me sympathy and understanding for the excesses of the sans-culottes.

#12 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 01:33 PM:

These numbers don't match what I was hearing from Search & Rescue people in the area at the time, who informally reported tens of thousands of bodies.

I wonder how many of the non-reported missing had no people left behind (family or friends long dead or out of area, or also lost in Katrina) to report them missing?

(It's a little like the 1906 earthquake, where the 'official' toll was 750 for many years, even though there was lots of evidence it was far too low, based on the people who were never heard from again though not officially lost; they've upped it to 2000 now.)

#14 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 03:38 PM:

Mind you he made that statement as the speaker at a conference on disaster relief, where he was touting his new consulting business, which is, as you may have guessed, in disaster relief..


#15 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 05:55 PM:

In re the number of dead: in one of the earlier threads here about Katrina, someone described getting evacuated old people off buses, and either two or four had died out of two hundred and fifty. It didn't seem like a shockingly high number--iirc, it was people from nursing homes, and even four hours without medical care would reasonably be risky. There is no way I can believe that figure of one thousand dead.

#16 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 06:21 PM:

"he made that statement as the speaker at a conference on disaster relief"

Gives one pause. Why would anyone want him to speak to their conference, let alone hire the doofus?

#17 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 06:30 PM:

Why would anyone want him to speak to their conference, let alone hire the doofus?

First thought coming to mind: he knows people, therefore he is a useful contact to have: he can get them access to Higher Ups who can Do Things for them.

#18 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 06:40 PM:

In other words, he's a Known Crony, and with Bush the watchwords are "No Crony Left Behind."

#19 ::: LeslieS ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 07:08 PM:

It would be, well good isn't the word, but highly educational if people could get anything like a real body count number into the media. They've so thoroughly supressed any real information on this one though. Given the total lack of organized federal support for rebuilding it's even easier for them to hide the numbers.

I don't believe their numbers on casualties in Iraq either and I know that any soldier killed in any way other than an explosive or bullet is not counted as a casualty. (thus also cheating their families on death benefits too if I understand how those are computed ).

#20 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 08:19 PM:

After the '94 Northridge quake, the Red Cross was here, set up and working. Within a short period of time, FEMA was here, set up and working. My insurance company got back to me within a week, letting me know that they would get back to me when the more urgent, homeless were taken care off. I fell completely apart for months afterwards, barely able to go to work and function. But I remember, these organizations were here. I remember Clinton came out, and I heard him ask "what do you need?" And I saw things arrive in a timely fashion. (I also saw the poor Secret Service try to protect the President against an earthquake -- ever see a guy pull a gun on the ground? "You! Ground! Hands UP!")

I am in a stronger place, mentally, than I was then. Which is good, as I am expecting to have to pick up all the pieces because I don't expect FEMA to be here, or the Red Cross to be allowed in here, or my insurance company willing to admit that it was earthquake damage, not flood damage from burst pipes and I'm not covered for flood damage.

#21 ::: Madeleine Reardon Dimond ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 08:36 PM:

Thank you for going in. My family home is in Mandeville; I went to school in Covington (St. Scholastica's). Half of our house (where my brother lives) washed away and many trees fell, but he said a few days ago that he's only been inconvenienced compared what others are suffering. The day Katrina hit I asked the Red Cross to send me, but they weren't allowed to send anyone. Around 8000 or so LA & MS folks came to my town; there's been plenty to do here, but I'm full of awe and gratitude for the people that were on the front lines--and ignored the "rules" to do it.

#22 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 09:08 PM:

PJ Evans says: "Higher Ups who can Do Things for them."

And Mr. Macdonald says: "he's a Known Crony, and with Bush the watchwords are 'No Crony Left Behind.'"

Both of which are probably true, but on prior performance, would you trust that, if referred to Higher Ups or Cronies, those things would get done well?

As Brad DeLong says, why would you trust the Administration to do anything well after what we've seen with Iraq, etc.?

#23 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 10:22 PM:

Trust these guys??

I look on them as people who lie the way they breathe: constantly, automatically, and even in situations where not doing so would be greatly to their benefit. The only thing I trust them to do is enrich themselves at the expense of the rest of us.

#24 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2006, 10:41 PM:


You are wrong as to what counts as death in the stats.

By way of example, the first weekend I was in Walter Reed one of the soldiers there (an SFC, about my age) committed suicide, he is numbered among the dead.

Before I left three of our troops were killed in a vehicle accident, they are numbered among the dead (May 28th, IIRC. You can look them up in the list of the dead online. Look for three troops from 519th MI).

If you die in theater, or as a result of things in theater (to include at least that suicide) it gets counted.


#25 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 04:27 AM:

Terry, I've seen a similar misreporting of statistics over on RASFF, in a thread about comparing health services. Basically, an accusation that other countries have a lower infant mortality rate because they classify early infant deaths differently to the USA.

It got pretty thoroughly shot down: the guy who made the suggestion is inclined to extreme views about how bad "socialist" health care is, and seems predisposed to accepting this sort of lie.

But the figures published for international comparisons do have known counting problems. The statistics in the Soviet Union were organised differently, for instance. They're known problems, and there are ways in which you can compare: You're not quite comparing infant mortality, but you can assemble similar groups.

It's plausible that there's a difference in counting, just as the secrecy over the return of bodies from Iraq makes it plausible that there's something wrong with the official figures. And do they count those "contractors"?

These things can be checked, if people take the trouble. Terry, you're a witness to how at least one supposed reason for undercounting is simply wrong. But you have all those guns for hire, in Iraq and in New Orleans: who's going to talk about what they do, and what happens to them?

#26 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 05:31 AM:

Quite a few months ago (mid or early 2005??) I can remember there being an article about various families whose relatives had died in Iraq and were upset that they hadn't been counted. A number of examples were given, and the reasons the army put forward for not including them in the casualty list. Some, if not all of them, were serving soldiers. It wasn't just some unsourced & unverified assertions.

It was only a couple of weeks after reading it that I tried to find it again when the topic came up in discussion and didn't succeed, at least partly because I couldn't remember various details to search on, but others might have better skills.

#27 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 10:30 AM:

The defining characteristics of the US Government appointed and "elected" [vote fraud in Florida, fraud in Ohio, the redistricting in Texas, illegal campaign contributions almost guaranteeing election by sheer impact of the onslaught of ads and conspiracy to smear and defame opponents via funded mouthpiece media "personalities") officials and their actions in Shmuck's tenure in Washington appear to be corruption, malfeasance, and incompetence.

- the courts are full of kangaroo court appointees,
- FEMA and the EPA and the FCC and the National Park Service and NIH and the agency which is supposed to be responsible for overseeing mines and enforcing proper safety measure, etc., are full of:

-- Shmuck promoters,
-- religious bigots pushing their religion's agenda and pushing legislation to enforce it,
-- ideologues with the agenda of destroying federal oversight of anything except ensuring full implementation of a fascist police state,
-- people incompetent for managing anything other than filling their pockets and pockets of their buddies,
-- misogynists who want women locked in the Christian equivalent of purdah, and
-- those with a notable lack of professional experience and impartial credentials for the position appointed to (MDs who tell women to pray to God for relief from menstrual cramps, have professional credentials but they aren't the slightest bit impartial regarding "social engineering" running the department and agencies they have been appointed into, to remake the US into a two class state--the wealthy privileged that they see themselves as belonging to or as the points of (I can't think of the term I want, which denotes someone who serves willingly and happily for as the effectuator.... paid or unpaid agents who have tied their lives to some particular other person or cause and carry out the agenda/orders... David Brock was formerly one of those sorts, the Voices in mahendo'sat society in Cherryh's Alliance/Union universe are others...), and the e.g.-whatever-the-term-that-Marx-used-for-the-economically-disenfranchised.

Eradication of the middle class and the concepts of "commonwealth" and the the first sentence of the Constitution of the USA (there is a report that Shmuck regards it as an irrelevant piece of paper... under oath he pledged to uphold it, that is on record clearly and unambiguously, multiple times--when sworn into the Guard, when appointed to the Presidency of the USA twice...)

Oathbreaker, liar, incompetent, ideologue, religious fanatic urinating on the Bill of Rights' provisions of freedom of religion, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, etc. etc. etc., mass murderer attacking civilians in Iraq claiming retaliation for the mass murder attack on the USA planned and implemented by people who were not Iraqis.... appointer of corrupt incompetents, grantor of press corp credentials and attention to a paid political appartchik mouthpiece who turned out to be a homosexual male prostitute....

L'affaire Guckert has disappeared from the media. Here we have the crowd with the strident anti-homosexual agenda who have used not only homosexuals (Brock, Guckert) as shrill attack dogs on liberals and progressives and moderates, but gave White House Press Corps credentials to someone whose was a professional male prostitute paid to perform male-male sex with clients! Where's the outrage against the White House and Republicrap machine for their extreme hyprocrisy, their granting of special privileged access to someone who is a member of a class that they emphatically condemn as immoral and socially perverse and unworthy of being given the same benefits and rights as heterosexuals, and their pandering with regards to singling him out as someone given special privileges for interviews, asking questions, and reporting? They condemn homosexuality, condemn prostitution, condemn any sexual activity that isn't reprosex between a woman and a man who are married to another, but there they were, employing a male prostitute who rented himself out to other men for sex, as their preferred privileged "reporter"!!

The level of hypocrisy involved is astonishing. They are utterly unrepentant, and do not acknowledge their actions. They do something, and then pretend it never happened. We're in 1984.

#28 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 11:00 AM:

Addendum--and Guckert was using a pseudonym, too, as a member of the White House press corps...

One of the unfortunate things about most electronic media, especially blogs, is the level of ephermality about it--yesterday's news falls off the page and gets left behind not only on the page, but in the minds of the websurfers. Radio and TV are "memoryless" systems in terms of, what's being reported is there now, and what was reported in the past, isn't there anymore. Books and magazines and newspapers have a habit of sticking around, they're more permanent than electronic records are, particularly if there a storage limit for the electronic information. Also, browsing tends to be a lot easier in e.g. a library, where one can physically walk through the stacks, where there are indices developed over the millennia for doing searches on for title, author, subject matter, key word, abstract, year, etc. Compare that to a Google search, where there is even "product placement" interference these days, along with keywords places by those with the intent to deceive, to deflect web searcher traffic to their sites...

(Hmm, it just occurred to me that people who do that, are the modern equivalent of "breakers" who lit fires to spoof lighthouses, luring ships to the shoals to be robbed, or to breakup and their cargoes be "salvaged.")

But getting back to ephermality, L'affaire Guckert occurred not that many months ago, yet it's totally gone from the current discussions and media attention and public notice.

That keeps happening--offense after offense, scandal after scandal, gross impropriety after gross impropriety, crime after crime, committed by the corrupt Republicrap misadministration and catamites of Congress on their Abramoff & buddies channeled monetary leashes and slime and defamation Republicrap machine enforcement whips and spiked collars... and with each new diversion, be it Michael Jackson or the latest garbage about Paris Hilton or Britney Spears or Tom Cruise, or be it Pat Robertson's latest deranged announcement, or another ethics offense by the US Government, everything that's been reported in the past, evaporates as regards "this is yet another offense that is in consonance with so many others before it, this is a clear and unambiguous pattern of incompetence, malfeasance, and intentional fraud, deceit, and criminal conspiratorial behavior, a pattern of corrruption, greed, and high crimes behavior, which demands a team of independent investigators and prosecutors, who are not reporting to the heads of the organizations they are investigating.

The US Department of Defense investigated l'affaire Abu Ghraib and the other situations where the Red Cross and others reported torture. The US DOD was the agency involved in running those operations. Not one active duty general was implicated, not one active duty general and the chain of command down out of Washington, was brought into the investigation as even being possibly culpable. The scapegoats were Weekend Warriors whose chain of command for their actions, was never brought into the light of public testimony. The troops were not trained properly and were mismanaged, and then there was MGen Miller, whose role was never mentioned... the same fellow who was involved at Guantanamo, and whose hand was involved sending him over to Iraq, anyway, to try to beat information out of unfortunate Iraqis with the misfortune to be in the wrong place and the wrong time and get dragged intohellhole Abu Ghraib to be physically and emotionally abuse and assaulted? Some of the inmates at Abu Ghraib likely being sociopaths who were a menace to orderly peaceful functioning of society, is not a necessary and sufficient excuse for the abuses and torture and deaths than US nationals imposed on "detainees" at Abu Ghraib and other sites.

I truly wish the World Court would subpoena the likes of the Shmuck, Darth Cheney, Rumsfeld, MGen Miller, on the basis of war crimes, and try them. It seems to me that Justice in their cases is not available in the USA, with the courts packed with their sympathizers and promoters and associates and those beholden to them and their Causes and their money trail, the US Congress is full of catamites on the one hand bought with money from the K Street band, and on the other whipped into compliance by abusive bullying or the threat of it, that removed Max Cleland from office, and among so many others, moved Sen McCain to complicity. There is not Justice available here....

#29 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 11:00 AM:

What disgusts me the most, Paula, is The People, or rather the half of it that let Chimpy in office in November 2004. Are they so afraid of the whole world? Are they so stupid and gullible, that they will let all of this crap happen?

#30 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 11:19 AM:

Serge: The Republican voter, in 2004, was concerned about national security, the collapse of morals as exemplified by gay marriage (and I'm still trying to figure out how that affects my marriage), and the belief that the presence of W in the White House was a bulwark against a vague moral/political threat to the American way of life exemplified by the 'fact' that John Kerry 'looked French'. Plus we don't know that the election was generally free and fair. Odd things went on in Ohio.

#31 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 11:33 AM:

Are they so afraid of the whole world? Are they so stupid and gullible, that they will let all of this crap happen?

Well, in the vast midsection which mostly votes red, they don't have a lot of direct contact with the rest of the world: it's all new and frightening, because they only see it on TV and in the papers - and the TV stations and the newspapers are giving them the GOP view. Gays in those areas are pretty much in the closets, because coming out gets you big problems (never mind hate mail, there are lots of people who believe it's a deliberate choice and can be changed if you just find Jesus). The minorities are quiet because if they get loud, they're likely to be targeted. These are areas where some people are still trying to adjust to the Civil Rights Act, never mind the twenty-first century.

They're not bad people; they can be wonderful people. They just don't live in the same world as the rest of us. And some of them don't want to.

#32 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 11:37 AM:

True, Fragano, but what you're saying basically agrees with the first part of my post, which is that they live in great fear of the world.

As for Ohio, I still don't know.

Meanwhile, from now on, every time I hear Copland's Our Town, I remember that this is what the local radio station was playing as I was driving to the poll station that day of November 2004, when I still had hope for a majority of The People.

#33 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 11:43 AM:

Yeah, PJ, they don't want our world, where an heterosexual man can have a black homosexual friend who's happily married to a Hispanic man whose photo he keeps in plain view on his desk - a photo where he pretends to be James Bond, surrounded by two pretty female Asian co-workers. I don't think they can understand a world like that.

#34 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 11:46 AM:

There was fraud in Ohio, and there was the promotion of Fear, Uncertainty, and Deceit--remember the ads of the so-called Swift Boat Veterans? That organization should have been sued for libel and misrepresentation, the person with the big bucks behind it is a Republicrap appartchik with a big wallet, who's a mastermind in smear campaigning of lies and deceit and misrepresentation.

Kerry was portrayed as a liar and braggart, a spineless lying wishwashy slimeball, and there wree hundreds of millions of dollars spent pushing that image and sound bites all over the USA. There weren't the same amount of funds going to debunking, to indicting Shmuck, to countering the lies and misrepresentation, plus, there are all those media outlets exercising their extreme partisanship promoting the Republicrap social engineering and agenda and lies, the news broadcasts with their Shmuck-promoting slant and Kerry-and-liberals-disparaging tone, there's stinking Paul Harvey with air time disparaging any who aren't Republicrap bootlickers, etc. etc. The airwaves in this country are biased, and it's not toward the values of Benjamin Franklin, statesman, scientist, revolutionary, writer, and PUBLISHER, who championed freedom of the press....

If Jefferson were alive today I suspect that the White House would be charcoal, and DeLay, Blunt, Ney, Santorum, etc. would not be out running around loose in public.

#35 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 11:49 AM:

Michelle Malkin is an example of a Queen Bee. Ironically, Shlafly that #@($^@(#@@# created her own Queen Bee protege, that piece of Q@#@#@ Elaine Donnelly. They are Privileged Queen Bitches and one appointed the other as heir apparently.

Malkin I suspect is treated as if she were someone with an unfortunately but overlookable skin condition, since she is such a willing tool for the Ruling Regime to hold power with....

#36 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 11:55 AM:

Kerry was portrayed as a liar and braggart...

No bleeping kidding, Paula.

I remember a couple of weeks before the Election coming out of the gym at 6am and finding a note on my windshield. Someone apparently didn't approve of my Kerry bumper sticker and basically wondered how I could support such a liar.

I did the appropriate thing, crumpling the note into a tiny ball then flushing it down the toilet as soon as I got to the office.

#37 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 02:22 PM:

Okay, sort of off topic if we're still talking about Michael Brown, but speaking of incompetents, whatever happened to opposing Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court? Are the Dems just going to roll over on this one and let the Repubs vote him on? What about that filibuster we all kept hearing about? Would it be at all worthwhile if I wrote to my congresspeople asking them to filibuster, or is it too late?

#38 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 02:28 PM:

Lisa, there was an item in's War Room blog about the Alito nomination and apparently there is at least one Democrat who said that the filibuster isn't off the table yet. But... The way things have been with my Party, I've decided it's better not to hold one's breath until they truly acquire a spine - and it doesn't have to be made of adamantium.

#39 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 02:41 PM:

They're not bad people; they can be wonderful people. They just don't live in the same world as the rest of us. And some of them don't want to.

My husband is from Oklahoma. He still has relatives there, so we get the story-line from mid-America every so often. According to the cousin, we are gullible people out here, even tho we could point to information he didn't have that showed he was wrong. Every time we brought up information he didn't have, he'd change the subject. Not even with a "yes, but..." Just change it completely.

The 2004 smear campaign was master-minded by Carl Rove, as he has a trail of such campaign tactics stretching back years. Why did it work? Because most people still believe "if there's smoke, there's fire." It's very hard for people to believe that when there's smoke, sometimes there's just smoke. Kerry made the mistake of trying to refute the charges instead of the credibility of the speakers. There was some attacks made on the SwiftBoat people, but it was way late in the campaign and was very anemic to boot.

I would have gotten some video artists to get the SwiftBoat guy to say "I never saw Kerry do those things. Someone paid me to say that on camera." Or show him shaking hands with Rove while Rove is handing him an envelope. You cannot fight the "if smoke, then fire" meme by refuting the smoke or the fire. You need to get to the guy with the smoke bomb.

#40 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 03:49 PM:

I'm tempted to put up the letter I sent this morning to Dean, Reid, Pelosi, Kennedy, Boxer. One of the things in it: Don't apologize for telling the truth. If backed into a corner, don't say 'I'm sorry I said you're a crook'. Say 'I'm sorry you're a crook'.

It's a little long for a comment. I got mad.

#41 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 04:24 PM:

Serge: I just wanted to expand on what you were saying, with my take on it (as someone who might be considered both an insider and an outsider).

As for Ohio, among other things odd things do seem to have happened in voting precincts known to be full of liberal voters (such as my older son, who waited for over five hours to cast his first presidential election vote -- for Kerry).

#42 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 04:26 PM:

PJ: The Democrats do seem to have a shortage of, ahem, testicular fortitude.

#43 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 04:44 PM:

Testicular fortitude, Fragano? At least where the men are concerned? Yeah... But the women haven't been much better. I'll settle for a semi-sturdy spine. And, like PJ pointed out, it'd be nice to have people who don't apologize to crooks for calling them what they are.

#44 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 04:46 PM:

Fragano: I'm an outsider, a complete foreigner, but I don't think balls are the problem. Tactics and balls are different things. To stand up like Gore or Kerry and face the Republican machine takes balls, and they both have them. To win takes balls and tactics, and I think Gore's refusal to embrace Clinton and Kerry's erm, Frenchness were neither of them failures in the bollocks department.

Selecting Kerry, maybe that was chickenshit "electable" cowardice, but I don't think Kerry himself is yellow.

#45 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 04:55 PM:

Since Kerry did show bravery under literal fire when he was young, I seriously doubt that, in his 'old' age, he's become afraid of more metaphorical bullets. Maybe he couldn't realize until too late that his opponents were playing by a very different set of rules.

#46 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 05:15 PM:

Serge: 'Balls' in this sense are non-gender-specific. I'd argue, also, that political courage is not the same quality as physical courage. Kerry, for example, unlike Edwards was not willing to fight over Ohio.

Niall: I agree that both are necessary.

#47 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 05:16 PM:

I'd say no rules at all. Whatever it takes, those are Rove's Rules. And we don't seem to get it.

I don't know what to make of Harry Reid. One day he compares the Republican Congress to the Mafia, the next he apologizes for what appeared to be a pretty accurate if nasty compendium of Republicans sins of the past.

Anybody see Molly Ivins' latest column? I excerpted it here.

#48 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 05:36 PM:

I wish we had FastPenta. It would be really interesting to have various members of government (not excluding the supremes and the White House) dosed on live TV (preferably CSPAN) and questioned by, say, Teresa, or some of the people over at firedoglake.

#49 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 05:51 PM:

It would be really interesting to have various members of government questioned by, say, Teresa.

I've heard it said here that Our Hostess sometimes dresses up like a nun. Does she also go for the Evil Frau look, with her hair in a severe knot, and carrying a riding crop?

#50 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 05:57 PM:

You had to remind me of C-Span. Our local cable outfit is taking away C-Span2 (the Senate) and giving the channel to the local television producers (which will up their allotment to six). I'm trying to generate a letter-writing campaign.

If six channels seems like a lot of local programming for a state with only 1M people, you're right. Half of it is "educational," meaning classroom videos. I really wonder how big that audience is.

#51 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 06:15 PM:

Oh, I know what you meant, Fragano. It's just that, being a pedant AND a computer programmer, I prefer refering to something that everybody is supposed to have, namely a spine. And, like Linkmeister, I don't understand people like Harry Reid. They act in a manner that gives you some hope then they revert back to their wimpy image.

#52 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 06:33 PM:

Another thing is why the Right still sees Hillary as a threat. Look at the way she's been acting, as was pointed out in Linkmesister's excerpt of that Molly Ivins column.

Is THAT Hillary someone they should be afraid of? Or do they believe she's only acting like a wimpy Democrat, but give her a chance and she'll revert back to her feminazi true self.

Or maybe they believe that the true self is the wimpy one and they just use her as a scarecrow to siphon money off from the rubes.

#53 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 07:22 PM:

Lisa: You could call DiFi's San Francisco office and let her staff know that you, as her constituent, would like her to support a filibuster against Alito. They aren't very gung-ho to hear from you -- at least, they weren't when I did it -- but they will listen politely. It can't hurt. I haven't called Boxer yet but I don't doubt that she'd support a filibuster.

And all of us (well, not the guys in Canada or across the pond) could call Harry Reid's office and express the same sentiment. He's the Man, in this fracas. He might as well hear from us.

#54 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 08:23 PM:

Serge: I always wonder what the other side has on people who backpedal as fast as Reid.

#55 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 08:47 PM:

Actually, Fragano, I don't think it's Reids opponents who have something on him. It's more like Reid not having something IN him. Of course, it's easy for me to chastise a politician for his or her lack of courage when I'm not the one in the Arena. I'd like to think I'd be more courageous in their situation, but then again I haven't really told my boss what I really think of her/him either.

#56 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 08:59 PM:

Serge: I take your point. I still think that backpedalling is a sign that the backpedaller fears incoming missiles.

#57 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2006, 10:48 PM:

I always wonder what the other side has on people who backpedal as fast as Reid.

This is how J. Edgar Hoover stayed in power for half a century.

Everyone has been wondering: why the secret eavesdropping? They have secret courts set up and ready to approve their wiretaps even retroactively. Why don't they just go to their star chamber judges and get a warrant to make it legal?

The obvious answer - the obvious answer that nobody seems to want to reach - is that the Bush Junta is eavedropping on their opponents, and doesn't take these cases before a judge because they're doing political blackmail that not even their tame judges could approve.

Occam's Razor. And it explains why the Dems are so spineless: every one of them is being blackmailed.

#58 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2006, 01:07 AM:

"Publish and be damned," has not been said by the Congressional Wimps.

There is one potential way to fight back, though... parody/satire/vicious humor. The slimeballs use it, it should be used back against them. Unfortunately AirAmerica doesn't really make it clear when their satire/parody is actually fictional satire/parody, as opposed to the words that the likes of Robertson and such have actually said. The stuff that e.g. Mr Phelps, of the Westboro Baptist Church, with his family of lawyers from hell who have been running a reign of terror in Topeka against anyone who objects to their malignance, puts out is so over the top, that it looks like satire. I mean, who here would regard a report of someone going to the funeral of a GI killed in Iraq, carrying a sign that read "Thank God for 9/11!" as completely serious, without the information that that is not at all out of keeping for Mr Phelps and his crew? It actually happened. They have websites, one of which is Again, at first glance it looks like a parody/satire site... but it's not. They're completely a/r/o/u/n/d t/h/e b/e/n/d serious in their extremsim. They even despise the the Schmuck, he's way too much of a milquetoast and such for them, and they're against the the debacle in Iraq, but not necessarily for the reasons the most of the people opposed to US actions regarding Iraq, have opposed it.

One of the traditional ways of disempowering someone/a group is by making them the butt of humor--it's not all that polite. But that pondscum who've hijacked the US Government, aren't polite and doesn't deserve politeness and respect--they have none for those they've committed their atrocities against, so why should they be granted perquisites and deference when they've denied the rights listed in the Bill of Rights to their victims?

Cockroaches in ape shape....

#59 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2006, 02:14 AM:

Fragano writes that ...backpedalling is a sign that the backpedaller fears incoming missiles...

That may be, Fragano, but I once read something by Cardinal Richelieu that roughly translates as Give me six lines written by an innocent man and I will have six things to condemn him for. In other words, there is always something in our lives to feel guilty about, that someone could use against us.

Later, Bob Oldendorf explains the spineless attitude of Democrats by suggesting that ...the Bush Junta is eavedropping on their opponents... they're doing political blackmail... and brings up Occam's Razor.

The Razor is exactly why I don't think there's a conspiracy.

If I remember correctly, the Razor says that one should seek the simplest explanation, where simplicity means the number of assumptions built into the explanation, and where one takes into account the probability of each assumption.

Consider the numerous assumptions behind a vast blackmailing operation against most if not all opponents of the current Assministration. Consider the competence required for such an operation, then compare that to their actual track record with pretty much anything, whether it's running a War, or dealing with a disaster like Katrina. It's not for nothing that Molly Ivins doesn't call them The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight.

Consider the assumptions and probabilities behind the proposition of our Elected Officials being spineless even when their voters will elect them back in next time around, one example being California's Dianne Feinstein.

#60 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2006, 03:17 AM:

"If I remember correctly, the Razor says that one should seek the simplest explanation, where simplicity means the number of assumptions built into the explanation, and where one takes into account the probability of each assumption."

consider the assunption that an opposition political party will not oppose because the ruling party has, uhm, no hold over them?

the richelieu quote was not meant as a proof that innocent men never write letters.

#61 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2006, 07:27 AM:

"...consider the assunption that an opposition political party will not oppose because the ruling party has, uhm, no hold over them?..."

A conspiracy like that, bryan, would require that every part of it function like it's supposed to, without any slipping into incompetence. And they do NOT have a good track record where that's concerned. But what they ARE good at is what bullies are good at: making the others think you're unbeatable or, that if they try anything to fight back, they'll wind up with a nosebleed. Remember what they did to Bill Clinton - and to the Democratic Party in the process?

#62 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2006, 09:20 AM:

hey wasn't there a guy that wrote an anti-bush book and then they wiretapped him and put him on a no-fly list?

#63 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2006, 09:58 AM:

well first of all, there is a common principle in criminal justice that if you catch someone for one crime it is sensible to assume they have gotten away with others of a similar nature. Perhaps these idiots aren't as incompetent as they appear, if someone commits a felony once per day for a year it might be sensible to expect them to go down for one or two. Everyone then says "What a loser, busted for two felonies in one year!" when the criminal under discussion is actually supercompetent.

two totally unrelated observations here:
it seems certain, just from the standpoint of mathematics, that there was massive voter fraud in the last election. I guess all the eyewitness testimony just cinches this conclusion.

Hey, wasn't this program of domestic spying running for a long time, and it was only revealed recently, so that we might assume that there are facts still to uncover in this case? HA, HA, those incompetents, running a massive unapproved domestic spying opperation for several years without getting busted. Just proves they can't do anything right and nobody has anything to worry about!

#64 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2006, 10:07 AM:

HA, HA, those incompetents...

And eventually, bryan, we did find out about the wiretapping because conspiracies can't be kept secret long enough. True, true, there may be a blackmailing conspiracy going on and, by the time someone screws up, the conspiracy will have fulfilled its purpose. But if there's some criminal mastermind behind this, it's kind of a letdown that it is Chimpy or Rove, instead of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, or Lex Luthor. (I never could figure out why the latter's pre-1986 incarnation wasted his genius on throwing kryptonite-powered robots at Superman instead of actually marketing them and thus becoming filthy rich, but that's another story.)

#65 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2006, 10:21 AM:

"And eventually, bryan, we did find out about the wiretapping because conspiracies can't be kept secret long enough. "

do you have a proof of that?

#66 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2006, 10:39 AM:

To understand the current administration, imagine Al Capone and Legs Diamond in the White House.

Then ask yourself WWBAD (What would Big Al do?)

#67 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2006, 10:44 AM:

Nope, no proof, bryan, except that scandal after scandal has cropped up with this Assministration, the kind and sheer number of which makes Bill's Lincoln Room and Whitewater and Monica's Big Hair look like small potatoes - even Monica's Big Hair. The (almost) amazing thing is that The People hasn't gone to the White House like peasants in an old Frankenstein movie. THAT's not because Chimpy's gang has got the goods on us but because of simple Fear of The World.

#68 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2006, 10:52 AM:

And sort of connected to all this is the news that Pete McCloskey is apparently going to come out of retirement to run against Richard Pombo. He has two expressed reasons: Pombo is out to get rid of as many EPA restrictions as possible (he doesn't believe there should be public land either), and Pombo is one of the people Abramoff was /b/r/i/b/i/n/g/ making donations to. Not my district, but I respect Pete and will send some money when I find out where to send it.

#69 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2006, 01:10 PM:

There are two questions:
1) Why is the opposition so spineless?
2) Why won't the Bush Junta bother to get effortless warrants to cover its domestic spying?

I was proposing that there's a simple explanation for question #2:
They don't ask for warrants because they're doing eavesdropping that no judge would give approval for. The White House's excuse - that "this spying is time-critical" is bogus on its face, given the '72-hour retroactive' feature already built into the law.

That's where I was applying Occam's Razor.

The fact that the simplest explanation for problem #2 also helps explain problem #1 is either a free bonus, or tinfoil-hat time.

There are plenty of other explanations for spinelessness. But we now know that the Junta is eavesdropping on the conversations of American citizens, and they're doing so in cases that they do not want to have to try to explain - even in secret - to a judge.

So yeah, the conditions are certainly in place to support old-fashioned J. Edgar Hoover-style political blackmail.
Which does help explain why the Junta's opposition folds.

#70 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2006, 01:18 PM:

The telcos are getting their iron monopoly back, and there has been concerted effort to rig the FCC to allow this.

It is worthwhile asking if that might be quid pro quo for building in continuous domestic monitoring. (If you dig, the answer is 'probably yes'. Much of the motivation is commercial -- having the infrastructure in place to compell a strict pay-per-view model for all entertainment media content, for instance.)

The essential thing about the Republican attacks on Clinton aren't that they've made Democrats afraid (the just-folks variety are boiling mad; the inside-the-Beltway kind are rich, and thus conflicted, and generally not of a character able to force themselves to recognize what's going on as a reason to abandon prior custom), it's that they argued, over and over, that what made the President legitimate was something other than getting the most fairly counted votes.

If you look at the lead time on the voting machines, it looks very much like that was of a piece with planning to usurp the election process.

#71 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2006, 02:54 PM:

"That's where I was applying Occam's Razor."

and here is the problem with Occam's razor (or one of the problems), the very broad rule defines no methods for determining what are the simplest factors affecting any situation. It just tells you to choose the simplest.

#72 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2006, 02:59 PM:

Serge: Having seen the dirt flung at Kerry and Murta, I'd say that almost anyone with the vaguest hint of a skeleton is his/her closet would be wary of the Republican Noise Machine. But you may be right.

#73 ::: John Kelsey ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2006, 05:36 PM:

The telcos already have to build wiretapping in. That's what CALEA is all about.

But it's pretty hard to imagine the wiretapping being done without going to the FISA court if they were really only listening in on known AQ operatives. The obvious guesses here are:

a. They were listening in on *lots* of people, perhaps only with very tenuous connections to AQ. (Think of the no-fly lists!) Presumably, this is being done with some kind of voice-recognition software to scan for interesting keywords. They didn't think they could get approval from the FISA court for such broad wiretapping, since they're set up for "here's the guy we want to wiretap" type requests, rather than "here's the list of ten thousand people we want to wiretap."

b. They were listening in on people who were overtly political targets. I don't think they'd get away with this if they were listening in on Hillary Clinton, but less important targets might not be recognized by the people doing the intercepts as anyone unreasonable to wiretap. (Think of mid-level antiwar activists, or people that have information that could make the Bush administration look bad.)

c. They just want to make the constitutional point that they can do wiretapping without a warrant. This strikes me as implausible, since it would just be borrowing trouble.

The thing I find so creepy about the wiretapping in defiance of the law, locking a citizen on US soil up as an enemy combatant without a trial, shipping people overseas for torture either by us or our friends, is not just the direct evil of it. It's that we're trading the restrictions of law (you can't eavesdrop on or arrest your political opponents because you'd go to jail) for restrictions based on our country coming apart, literally. Bush claims the authority to arrest me, you, or anyone else on his say so, and hold us as enemy combatants for as long as he thinks necessary. Why can't he do the same thing to Hillary Clinton or Sen. Murtha? Because the next step in that protocol is "and then you have a civil war." That's a really, really bad last step.

#74 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2006, 08:10 PM:

John --

It's a better last step than leaving these guys in power indefinitely.

#75 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2006, 09:54 PM:

John: They just want to make the constitutional point that they can do wiretapping without a warrant. I think this choice out of your three is the most plausible, though I also see no need to choose: all three rationals may be correct, and I suspect they are. You think this is implausible. I suggest you have not absorbed how attached these folks are to their own theories of power, and how willing they are to allow damage to be done. That's precisely the point of this post, and of many previous posts about Katrina. One would wish it otherwise, but the folks making policy in Washington today are obsessives, locked into a course of redesigning and redefining the path of government into a kind of corporate totalitarianism, where you must pay to play and power is concentrated in a very few hands. Congress is irrelevant in this scheme. The courts become a rubber stamp. In order to do this they are perfectly happy to use political parties, the religious right, lobbyists, the law, P.R. firms, the media, the military, whatever they can, to get what they want. They have no reverence for the Constitution. If they thought a civil war could be managed so as to give them what they want, they would cheerfully finance one. The thought of other people's pain -- in Iraq, New Orleans, anywhere -- does not impinge upon their intentions or their actions, possibly not even upon their thoughts.

I wish I didn't believe what I just said. But I do.

#76 ::: Frank D Shannon ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2006, 10:52 PM:

John Kelsey- I agree with you that it is a big step.


Graydon- I agree with you that it is better than leaving these guys in power.

But Civil war requires that someone fight them. I don't see any sign that that is going to happen.

#77 ::: ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2006, 06:44 PM:

Dave Bell, about undercounting deaths in NO:

"These things can be checked, if people take the trouble. Terry, you're a witness to how at least one supposed reason for undercounting is simply wrong. But you have all those guns for hire, in Iraq and in New Orleans: who's going to talk about what they do, and what happens to them?"

I doubt that these things could practically be checked, if they were screwed up by the hurricane itself, then screwed up more by FEMA incompetances, and *then* deliberately left fragmented by people who don't want a complete count. They don't have to take good information and reduce the number; they just have to make sure that scattered, error-filled, overlapping fragments are not filled in and cleaned up.

In theory, an investigation team could figure out what actually happened. Given years, lots of money, lots of motivation, and the ability to prevail against administration pressure. I say 'years' because I'm assuming that the administration would fight every release of information in the courts - heck, that's their standard assumption if they're innocent.

The mass media doesn't have the motivation. Any small departments/divisions within it would probably not have the money, or the ability to prevail against pressure (much of which would also be from their superiors).

#78 ::: Barry ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2006, 06:47 PM:

I find Lizzy L's view rather frighteningly plausible. I add the mental model of a patient with a serious infection, with 9/11 destroying much of the immune system. The infection was dangerous, but the body had a few defenses; after 9/11 much of the remaining defenses were gone.

#79 ::: Spam deleted ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 11:41 AM:

Spam from

#80 ::: P J Evans sees drug-selling spam ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 11:57 AM:

they never give up, do they?

#81 ::: Spam deleted ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 07:12 PM:

Spam from

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#83 ::: Serge sees Niagara spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 05:15 AM:

Where is that Erector set?

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