Thursday, August 30, 2007
My transition to my new position is finally starting to settle down. Things are getting better. My Mom is getting an operation Friday, that they give a 50:50 chance for survival. That's the one thing that is still hanging over me. It is still there, but I am gonna blog my heart out. Strap on your seat belts folks, I'm ready to let it rip! I am back!
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Nobody wants to have to compete for disaster relief.
But that is what Louisianians have had to do in the two years since Hurricane Katrina struck.
Despite massive destruction caused by the failure of the federal government's levees during Katrina, despite the torment caused by FEMA's slow response to the disaster, despite being hit by a second powerful hurricane less than a month later, Louisiana has had to plead to be treated fairly by our leaders in Washington.
Of all the photos from Katrina, the two below are among the most memorable in my mind:
Historian Douglas Brinkley chronicled many photos from Katrina in his book, The Great Deluge. There's a photo gallery here.
From The Guardian UK on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina a reflection from music legend Fats Domino who was missing after Katrina:
The King of New Orleans, Fats Domino, is one of the few optimistic people in the still devastated city. "Everybody is doing the best they can. I think New Orleans will recover," he said on the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
He is one of the lucky ones. His house in the city's poor and exclusively black Lower Ninth district, from which he was rescued by helicopter, was destroyed in the flooding. But musicians from around the world - Elton John, Joss Stone, Neil Young and many others - have put together a tribute CD to be released next month to pay for its reconstruction and others in the Lower Ninth.
Speaking in Tipitina's jazz hall, Domino, 79, said he was born and raised in New Orleans, liked everything about the place, from the food to the music, and did not want to live anywhere else. "I think we will be all right," he said.
That is not a view shared by many of the city's 250,000-plus residents still waiting to return to their homes or the 100,000-plus still in exile in Texas and elsewhere.
The recovery goes on in the Gulf. John Kerry noted today in response to Bush's platitudes from New Orleans that Bush aasn’t learned the lessons of Katrina:
“President Bush showed once again that he hasn’t learned the lessons of Katrina. Empty claims ring hollow to the survivors of Katrina still struggling to get back on their feet. While the President hailed the progress made by Louisiana schools, less than twenty percent of the money needed to rebuild the schools has been pledged to New Orleans. The Gulf Coast needs a sustained federal effort to help small businesses and homeowners return and rebuild. It’s time for President Bush to listen to his own advice and make a real commitment to Gulf Coast recovery.”
Enough Is Enough.
Cross posted from The Democratic Daily.
While middle- and upper-class neighborhoods have rebuilt using private insurance and contacts, residents of low-income areas such as the Lower 9th Ward and Holy Cross — roughly 20,000 of them — for the most part remain scattered throughout the region, their return uncertain.
The flooding that began after Katrina hit on Aug. 29, 2005, delivered an estimated $150 billion worth of damage to the Gulf Coast region, making it the worst disaster in U.S. history. Of the $116 billion appropriated by Congress to Gulf Coast recovery, $34 billion has been earmarked for long-term rebuilding. But less than half of that has made its way through federal checks and balances to reach municipal projects.
Throughout the Gulf Coast, residents are asking why their government — at every level — hasn't done more to streamline the process and bring more rebuilding dollars to the region.
"We're working ourselves close to death," says Scott Darrah, a New Orleans civic activist. "But we can't move it past further than what we have today. The government needs to step up."
Yesterday, Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, made the following statement on the eve of the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina:
“Two years after Hurricane Katrina there is still a long way to go to get the Gulf Coast region back on its feet. Too many families and businesses are still struggling with too much red tape and an incompetent federal response that put our kids in toxic trailers and mismanaged billions of taxpayer dollars. Two years ago, Katrina pulled back a curtain and showed the world the true extent of poverty and inequality that still exists in our country. Remembering this tragedy with photo ops isn’t enough. We must finally force accountability and action from the federal government that will get our families and small businesses back on track.
“When Katrina hit, there was no effective safety net to help the individuals and small businesses that were devastated by the storm. And two years later, we still lack a plan that ensures that a Katrina-like response never happens again. I’ve worked with Senator Mary Landrieu and others on a bipartisan basis for two years to provide the government with critical tools to respond more quickly and effectively in the case of future disasters. We passed a disaster loan reform bill in the Senate, and we need to get this legislation on the President’s desk and signed into law.”
“Many families and businesses owners have put themselves back on track and the Gulf Coast region is making progress because of their own hard work and determination. It’s long past time that Washington gives the victims of Katrina a policy that equals their incredible perseverance and hope.”
See here for more information about the legislation.
Bush made an appearance at a "recovering school in the Lower 9th Ward — a predominantly black, low income area that was all but obliterated by the storm" and led a moment of silence followed by platitudes.
"Better days are ahead," Bush said as he sought to assure residents that his administration had not forgotten the region and would make good on the promises of aid.
"We're still paying attention. We understand," the president said.
Protesters, remembering the government's slow response in the storm's immediate aftermath, planned to march from the Lower 9th Ward to Congo Square to spread their message that the government has also failed to help people return.
"People are angry and they want to send a message to politicians that they want them to do more and do it faster," said the Rev. Marshall Truehill, a Baptist pastor and community activist. "Nobody's going to be partying."
Today's anniversary is a stark "reminder of the desperation that filled New Orleans' flooding neighborhoods in the days after Katrina hit."
Images of dead bodies, people in the flood zones calling from their roofs and waiting days for help, and of the thousands of evacuees packed into the grimy and damaged Superdome, are still fresh in many minds.
Politicians have used the date to pitch policy. Scholars and activists have released a steady stream of reports on the state of recovery.
An international people's tribunal, spearheaded by legal activists trying to build a case under international law accusing the United States of human rights abuses during and after Katrina, has also been convened to take testimony from victims.
It's stunning to mark the two year anniversary of Katrina with the fact that in so many ways our government is still failing the people of the Gulf. As historian Douglas Brinkley pointed out in the WaPo a few days ago, victims of Katrina are "still in the middle of the Katrina saga" and suffering from the Bush Administration's "Reckless Abandonment."
A year ago The Dem Daily marked the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with a few posts including one referring to an article in the Boston Globe that featured this photo of "Mounds of debris fill a waste collection point in New Orleans":
The sad fact is, 2 years later, when it comes to Hurricane Katrina, we're still "waiting for a leader."
Cross posted from The Democratic Daily.
Although it is very easy to believe that George Bush is, indeed, a racist, it is far easier to believe that George Bush just doesn't like poor people (who, sadly, in the case of NOLA, are, disproportionately, black people).
Why isn't the financial support coming quicker to New Orleans? Is it because their residents didn't vote for him (other areas with far less damage were given more money and more swiftly, despite the stark and obvious devastation in NOLA)?
Mississippi Got Larger Share of Aid
In part it argued that Louisiana had not received its fair share of aid, compared with Mississippi, which has a powerful GOP congressional delegation.
Here is an excerpt.
This community is grateful for the help. But Louisiana's losses were dramatically higher than any other state's and thus deserving of greater compensation. In reality, Mississippi has gotten a larger share of federal aid.
Louisiana had three times more damaged homes and seven times more severely damaged homes than Mississippi. Universities in this state had three times as many students displaced and had four times the losses of Mississippi's campuses. Louisiana fisheries suffered almost 75 percent of the damage done by Katrina, and our hospitals lost 97 percent of the hospital beds closed by the storm.
Yet in every case, Mississippi ended up with a disproportionate share of aid. Housing grants, for instance: Mississippi got $5.5 billion in Community Development Block Grant money for its 61,000 damaged homes. Louisiana, with 204,000 damaged homes, got $10.4 billion. If the aid were given out proportionately, this state would have gotten twice that much.
Our neighbors on the Gulf Coast were hit hard by Katrina, no doubt about it. And Mississippians needed the help of the federal government to rebuild and recover. No one who has suffered from devastation would argue otherwise.
All Louisiana wants is to be treated fairly. But that hasn't happened.
Some people point to the clout of Mississippi's congressional delegation as the reason. Others say that Louisiana's reputation for political chicanery has hurt us.
Frankly, neither should be an issue. The people of Louisiana are no less deserving of disaster aid because their representatives are newer to Congress or because some of the people we trusted to lead us turned out to be scoundrels.
As President Bush returns today to mark the second anniversary of Katrina, this is what Louisianians need him to remember:
We are Americans who have suffered a great tragedy. We have worked tirelessly for two years to revive this beloved place and reconstruct our lives. And we ought to get no less help from our government than any other victims of this disaster.
This is disgraceful. We're supposed to live in the greatest country in the world and yet, two years after the greatest disaster this country has ever experienced (yes, even worse than what happened on 9/11), we are still looking at Louisiana as if Hurricane Katrina JUST hit.
In the meantime, the only people making out like bandits in New Orleans are those who already came to the game with a ton of money or who knew how to work the government system to get all the juicy contracts to "rebuild" (funny, they are barely rebuilding the levees or the Projects).
Gulf Coast economy rebounding
Since Katrina hit Aug. 29, 2005, rebuilding has been swiftest in New Orleans' most affluent neighborhoods, city permit records show; some of its poorest remained largely depopulated for much of last year. Even now, rebuilding has barely begun in some neighborhoods.
Still, the poverty rates in Louisiana and Mississippi — among the USA's highest — remained essentially unchanged from before Katrina. The findings are based on a Census survey last year that offers the most sweeping view yet of how the hurricane changed the economic face of the Gulf Coast.
Katrina's disproportionate impact on New Orleans' poor has sparked battles over how the city should be rebuilt.
Two years later, natives of New Orleans have become refugees from their own homes because their own government won't allow them back, even in housing areas that were barely touched by flooding caused by the levees because of Hurricane Katrina:
Clip from Big Easy to Big Empty
Since George W Bush came into office I have felt more and more like I live in a foreign country; a country where greed and wealth are rewarded with more wealth, more perks and a country where humility and poverty are regarded as sinful and loathesome. This to me is enough to prove that there is no way that this nation is a "Christian Nation".
Even if you believe that every citizen is responsible for pulling himself up from their own bootstraps, there is no way that you can NOT feel disgusted that our fellow citizens, our brothers and sisters are still refugees, still living in POISONOUS trailer parks (and living like prisoners...not allowed to come and go as they please, except to go to Walmart, of course), still waiting for the government to reopen their homes and allow them to move back in and get started on renewing their lives. How can you not feel ashamed that our leaders are playing shell games with the money that is supposed to help our brothers and sisters in New Orleans who are not able to help themselves because of this tragedy?
This was not some podunk town that barely registers a dot on a typical US atlas. This IS New Orleans! These are American citizens who have been hung out to dry by the elites, while they get fat off of the hubris of photo ops and government contracts, all the while rebuilding the parts of New Orleans that favor the rich and upper-class leaving the poor to wait out the government or go away.
This is not the legacy that I want to leave for my children.
It is long past time to get rid of the bastards who turn a blind eye to the poor (in every city) and get rid of those ass-holes that continue to bring shame to what once was our country's "good name".
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I'm on dozens of Email lists, everybody from the New York Times to Victoria's Secret (great articles over there) sends me Email and I spend way too much time scanning and deleting most of it daily. I subscribe to Email lists from news organizations, campaign committees, government watchdog groups and all kinds of public service organizations. I also get stuff addressing me as Dear One, with great investment opportunities in Nigeria and missives that promise to make me larger, but I delete them all summarily as I have nothing to invest and..., never mind.
Most of what I receive is of a "progressive" or "liberal" nature but in the interest of knowing what the adversary is up to, I also subscribe to publications from conservative groups, the spectrum runs from the Coulter, Limbaugh breed of invertebrates to the American Enterprise Institute and other large lizards. I"ll tell you, a little of this stuff goes a long way.
I got a real dandy this morning from the Heritage Foundation, you know, the conservative think tank that has worked so tirelessly for the Bush administration, embroiling us in various wars of empire and providing invaluable aid and advice in support of administration efforts to relieve American citizens of such pesky irritants as habeas corpus, civil liberties and due process of law, while conducting additional studies aimed at relieving us of our money.
Heritage has long fought the good fight for corporate rights and limited government. These are the guys who burn the midnight oil to come up with ways to help corporations pocket employee pension funds without exposing themselves to criminal liability while working diligently to ensure that federal regulatory agencies are toothless, and in all ways impotent. The effectiveness of their efforts on behalf of corporate America can be measured in such events as the Crandall Canyon mine collapse.
The organization, which came into existence in 1973 was bankrolled by Joseph Coors, of the Coors Brewing Company and billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, Paul Weyrich was one of it's founders, there were no wild eyed leftists in that circle unless they were carrying a rake, polishing the crystal or cleaning the pool.
Heritage is now funded to the tune of 30 to 40 million annually by obscenely wealthy individuals and cash bloated corporations. They also receive large sums from foreign governments and such entities (it has been reported) as the Korean Intelligence agency. In return for their generosity Heritage spends about twenty percent of the take lobbying government on their behalf and publishing studies which tell them things that they want to hear and helping them market bullshit and lies to the rest of us.
In this morning's Email from Heritage was a featured article written by "Senior Fellow" (please pause to genuflect) Robert Rector (Photo at right) at the National Review Online and titled "Poor Politics" in which he offers the following nuggets of conservative think tank wisdom regarding persons in this country who are classified as poor. From Mr. oops, "Senior Fellow" Rector:
"The following are facts about persons defined as "poor" by the Census Bureau, taken from a variety of government reports:"
"46 percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio."
"Senior Fellow" Rector quoting from a "variety of government reports."
I don't know the actual numbers but I'm guessing that most of the 46% quoted own nothing more substantial than a 30 year mortgage which they struggle mightily to pay while staying ahead of such wolves as the costs of daily living and working in America. The idea that forty percent of those below the federal poverty level "own" their homes is nonsense and "Senior Fellow" Rector knows it.
In addition, what happened to the legions of people who live in houses with fewer than 3 bedrooms and the gazillions of apartment dwellers, not to mention the many people who call the porch or patio "home."
"80 percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning."
"Senior Fellow" Rector quoting from a "variety of government reports."
I suppose that "Senior Fellow" Rector would feel more comfortable with the poor if they were sweltering in their "three bedroom houses" and dying quietly and unobtrusively of heat prostration. It must also be noted that those who rent houses or apartments don't "own" their air conditioners any more than they own their homes. Either way they pay dearly in utility bills and taxes for the meager comfort of not sweating through their shorts.
"Only six percent of poor households are overcrowded; two thirds have more than two rooms per person."
"Senior Fellow" Rector quoting from a "variety of government reports."
I currently live in a five room house with my cat, which I suppose places us above "Senior Fellow Rector's" mandatory squalor requirement average. I will soon be forced to move (due to poverty) from this spacious splendor to share an apartment with my brother and his Grandson. We will then share 5 rooms, I am doing my part to "walk the walk" of the poor by cramming myself into smaller accomodations so that the ruling class may have more room to ride their horsies.
"The typical poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)"
"Senior Fellow" Rector quoting from a "variety of government reports."
It should be noted that America as she was growing in the 19th century and the early part of the 20th, had so many more times the available land area than most European countries that there can be no comparison. Except for those unfortunate millions who were crammed into urban tenements and company "housing" "provided" by railroad, mining, factory or mill owners we have historically been able to spread our elbows regardless of economic status. It does look bad though, I admit it, all those so called poor people with so much wasted space between them. Inefficiency.
"Nearly three quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or more cars."
"Senior Fellow" Rector quoting from a "variety of government reports."
I own a car, It's 12 years old and I bought it used back when I was not disabled and working six days a week to stay just above the poverty level. I still drive it to my physical therapy appointments at the VA hospital and the grocery store when I can afford to pay the fuel prices that Heritage helped to arrange.
"97 percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions."
"Senior Fellow" Rector quoting from a "variety of government reports."
I have two, one is 8 years old and works well, the other was given to me by a friend and sometimes works as well, there is nothing on them but lying news people reading scripts prepared at the Heritage foundation. If that violates my status as "poor" I'll be happy to turn one over to the "unnecessary entertainment police."
"78 percent have a VCR or DVD player."
"Senior Fellow" Rector quoting from a "variety of government reports."
My wife made me buy a DVD player a couple years before she died. She was an invalid those last several years but found joy and laughter in rented Disney movies. She's gone now, a year next month. I do feel a bit guilty for the extravagance and promise to atone.
"62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception."
"Senior Fellow" Rector quoting from a "variety of government reports."
Got me again, and, I have wireless internet as well. I must have these things, they allow me to stay abreast of those who wage this unrelenting war against the middle and lower economic classes in this and other countries. I also need it to get my Email from the Heritage Foundation and Victoria's Secret. (good articles over there)
"89 percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a more than a third have an automatic dishwasher."
"Senior Fellow" Rector still quoting from a "variety of government reports."
In all his quoting of vague "government sources," "Senior Fellow" Rector doesn't mention wage stagnation, the continually rising cost of living in all areas, outsourcing and offshoring of jobs in all sectors of the economy, community crippling layoffs, pension defaults, natural disasters, catastrophic illnesses, death, war and a host of other legitimate reasons why good, honest, working people have fallen into poverty yet still have that embarrassing dishwasher in their kitchen and still reside in the three bedroom house with a patio that they lived in before their jobs were shipped off to Timbuktu.
There may be a difference between the face of poverty in Dorothea Lange's hauntingly beautiful "Migrant Mother" from 1940 at the top of this rant and the modern version in this new century but I doubt it, you have to look at the eyes, close up, and personal to see, to know the despair.
I don't know, Maybe "Senior Fellow" Rector hasn't heard about those things, yeah that's probably it.
Anyway, I'm off the hook on the last one, (is he still running on?) my ten year old nuke died and I can't afford another, that damn poverty thing again, and alas, no dishwasher. I've been waiting a long time for a veteran's disability pension to show up in my mailbox and I'm sure that it will, probably the day after they plant my butt at the VA cemetery. I'll celebrate, maybe buy a new microwave or a ... they still sell "stereos?"
Monday, August 27, 2007
Craig was arrested in June, his trial was earlier this month. Was there some sort of coverup by Craig?
After he was arrested, Craig, who is married, was taken to the Airport Police Operations Center to be interviewed about the lewd conduct incident, according to the police report. At one point during the interview, Craig handed the plainclothes sergeant who arrested him a business card that identified him as a U.S. Senator and said, “What do you think about that?” the report states.
MSNBC reports that "Craig said in a statement issued by his office that he was not involved in any inappropriate conduct."
“At the time of this incident, I complained to the police that they were misconstruing my actions,” he said. “I should have had the advice of counsel in resolving this matter. In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty. I was trying to handle this matter myself quickly and expeditiously.”
Clearly this should have bene made public at the time of Craig's arrest. MSNBC also notes that "last fall, Craig called allegations from a gay-rights activist that he’s had homosexual relationships “completely ridiculous.”"
Mike Rogers, who bills himself as a gay activist blogger, published the allegations on his Web site, www.blogactive.com, in October 2006.
The WaPo is also reporting the story now, as well as other media outlets including CNN. No one is asking the question... Why is the public just finding out about this?
ArchPundit points to a transcript of "Larry Craig on naughtiness and nastiness," from Meet The Press, January 24, 1999:
MR. RUSSERT: Larry Craig, would you want the last word from the Senate be an acquittal of the president and no censure?
SEN. CRAIG: Well, I don’t know where the Senate’s going to be on that issue of an up or down vote on impeachment, but I will tell you that the Senate certainly can bring about a censure reslution and it’s a slap on the wrist. It’s a, “Bad boy, Bill Clinton. You’re a naughty boy.”
UPDATE: On The Politico, Jonathan Martin points out that Senator Craig is "is one of Mitt Romney's top backers in the Senate," and a "clip of Craig praising Romney was until just moments ago available on Romney's YouTube channel, but is now listed as "a private video.""
Cross posted from The Democratic Daily.
I watched in horror, like the rest of the country, at the inaction of the Bush Administration. I cried when I saw photos of the crying children and saw the bloated and rotting corpses as the stranded residents of New Orleans waited, in vain, for help from our government.
I was ashamed to watch the president fiddle around the country while my fellow Americans were literally drowning and dying in New Orleans.
I was angered at the lack of true compassion by the elites, like Barbara Bush, who simply patted the survivors on the head.
The racial implications were stark then, too. The media portraying white people as "finding food and water", while black people were portrayed as "looting" (the same food and water). The rumors were flying fast and furious, particularly surrounding the Superdome, that "scary black men" were raping and killing women and children; that black people were storming the rest of the community and shooting up the place "for no apparent reason". I got horribly racist emails describing the "proof" that black people were tearing up what was left of New Orleans (yet, to this day, there is no proof that any of that was true).
Everybody was stunned when Kanye West said, during a televised fundraiser, that "George Bush doesn't care about black people". I wasn't exactly stunned to hear that except in the context of the fact that this was an international figure on national (live) television saying exactly what so many of my friends and family have said about the Bushes (since George Bush I). I recall my mother called me and added a caveat that "Bush only likes people who have money, he doesn't give a f**k about poor people".
Here we sit, two years into this tragedy, and there is no real relief in sight. Those who have chosen to stay put, despite not having a home, have been forced to live in poisonous, formaldehyde laced trailers. Even those determined to rebuild on their own property, putting in all the leg work and trying to cut through all the government red tape are being told "too bad, we can't help you".
Two years on, they are still relying on the "kindness of strangers", since their own government has yet to lift a worthwhile hand to help them. But, even the "strangers" are growing weary of trying to help those in need, when our own government refuses to step up and get on with the rebuilding effort.
The Bush presidency has been a huge failure, starting with the failure to stop the events that happened on September 11, 2001, failing to capture Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, leading us into Iraq on wholesale lies and leaving New Orleans to drown two years ago (with no worthwhile relief in sight).
America deserves better than the likes of George W Bush. Bush did not just abandon New Orleans, two years ago. He abandoned this country the minute he was sworn into office. It's unfortunate that our Democratic leaders will not take the steps needed to help Bush abandon the office of the presidency.
(crossposted at Dizzy Dayz)
Friday, August 24, 2007
Whether you, the the Bush Dog Democrats, the lobbyists who you feel represent people like us, other colleagues in the Senate or the House on either side of the aisle, corporatist, neoconservative or stay the course people who are afraid of the scary brown person lurking under your bed realize it or not – this is a new war going on. Sadly, it seems as though if you don’t realize it, you are probably on the wrong side here.
I use the word “war” with a heavy heart. While it is a cheap way to describe a conflict, especially one where the weapons used are not of a violent nature, and there are no bombs (other than a few “f-bombs” here and there) being dropped, it is the term used by people who like to over inflate and over conflate issues into silly bite size (or sound byte size) pieces like “war on drugs”, “war on terror” or “war on Christmas”. So, I use it for context only.
On one side of this“war” is the American public, who overwhelmingly are against a continued military presence in Iraq, or much of the Middle East for that matter, are against the policies of this administration, are against elected officials who are not accountable to anyone or are not holding those accountable who need to be. This side is also against the corporatization of the economy and government, and for some form of affordable basic medical care, less spending, fairer taxes and better education standards. They are in favor of a document called “The United States Constitution” and the rights enumerated within that document. They also like to keep the right of privacy. Both Democrats and republicans are on this side.
On the other side of this “war” are those who think that “if we just did things differently in Iraq, it would have been so much different”. Or that it is ok to let a man who lied under oath to Congress about warrantless wiretapping would be given more powers to wiretap without a warrant. To “stay on the offense”. To not keep our ports, railways, infrastructure safe. Or not rebuild the Gulf Coast. Or try to influence politics in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan or any other country in such a blatant manner. Or protecting our environment is no big deal. Both Democrats and republicans are on this side too.
Our side knows that Iraq was never going to be successful with the very foundation of lies and fear tactics it was based on. We know that the lies spouted and double speak will be captured somewhere and come back to bite you in the ass. We hold people accountable. For their actions and their words. Both Democrats and republicans, for that matter.
We have candidates running for Congress who share our values much more than you do. And we have resources. Lots of resources. Our side is growing. More people realize that they don’t like the other side’s actions. We catch the lies and discredit those petty liars. We want change. We want serious action on getting out of Iraq. We want fair and affordable healthcare. We will fight for these things. And we ARE fighting for these things.
Of course, now that I’ve tipped you off, I would expect a complete change in tactics (ok, that was overreacting). But as a number of you have noted (both Democrats and republicans), “elections have consequences”. And people need to live up to the promises made while running for office. We don’t forget.
But if you think that the “new war” is going on out there as opposed to right here, then that is precisely why, to our side, you are not fit to lead our country at this very important time in our history.
You can’t lead if you don’t “get it”.
Sadly, you don’t get it.
Left of Centrist has also found a new home. Stop in and say hi to Robert. Just to let everyone know, I am going to extend my blogger tour of duty. I have a lot going on now, but I will continue.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Now this sucks! I came to see Donnie, and he is talking about hanging up blogging now. The big give up! This one took me by suprise. I just found out that he is thinking about it. WTF? You just can't leave buddy. Not now! Please think about this. Don't let all the work you have done be cast to the side. I know you better than this buddy. Things will work out, and it will get better. Think about it.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
1. No members of the Bush or Cheney families served in either one of these military theaters.
2. In a word: "quagmire".
3. Johnson refused to run again; Nixon resigned; we're waiting. . .
4. Asia - chopper evacs from rooftops; Iraq - "coming soon"
5. Lowest approval rating in history for a sitting president.
6. People in the streets protesting - marches on Washington DC.
7. Guaranteed election of a Democrat in the next presidential election (sweaters optional).
8. Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, et al.
9. The great silent majority (but the new one's starting to roar).
10. You can take all of the letters from vice-president Spiro Agnew's name and spell "grow a penis". Dick Cheney IS a dick.
A rumble a loud crack, like thunder, rocks, dirt and chocking dust rain down.
A rock fall is imminent. So what is a miner to do?
"You run for your life," said Tim Miller, who toiled in Kentucky's mines for more than two decades.... The goal is to eliminate the coal industry. Of course the goal is to eliminate the coal industry. Coal is filthy. It destroys ecosystems to dig it up. It kills the people who work around it. Coal plants throw particulates in the air and causes respiratory ailments. They throw mercury in the water and causes birth defects. They throw CO2 into the atmosphere and cause global warming. The coal industry corrupts the political process. It lies to the public about global warming, and mine safety, and coal reserves, and everything else. It leeches money and opportunity out of the states where it is based.
The only reason we think of coal as "cheap" is that we don't tally all those costs in the debit column.
From David Roberts Coal is the enemy of the human race...
During the winter of my fourteenth year I had a part time job. Every morning I would get up at 5 o"clock and walk up the hill to the ancient brick home of an elderly widow where I would descend to the dimly lit basement and remove the previous day's supply of clinkers from the firebox of an equally ancient and frightening looking furnace, shovel in a supply of fresh coal and get a good fire roaring. That was it, home to shower and head to school. She payed me two dollars a day and in 1958 when a gallon of gas was a quarter, that was a good sum of money. That is also the sum total of my life's experience with coal.
David Roberts wrote the brief but engaging piece quoted above earlier in the summer at Huff Post, he wrote his rant in reference to a coal industry mogul who for several months had been preaching to anyone who would listen about the evils that congress, in league with environmentalists, were plotting to perpetrate on the coal industry. I had heard the name of the subject of his rant before but at the time I didn't recognize it.
It wasn't until two weeks ago when a mine in central Utah's Emery County in Crandall Canyon, one of the deepest coal mines in the country collapsed, burying six miners 1500 to 1800 feet below the surface and 3 1/2 miles from the entrance point, that the name and the reason the it rang a bell popped back into my mind.
Robert Murray. The name was familiar because I had read a Washington Post article about his testimony before a congressional committee in the spring in which he took congress to task over the Clean Air Act of 1990 and declaimed on the perils of listening to the purveyors of Global warming science, which he has since referred to as "global goofiness." (as quoted below in the New York Sun)
"Some wealthy elitists in our country," he told the audience, "who cannot tell fact from fiction, can afford an Olympian detachment from the impacts of draconian climate change policy. For them, the jobs and dreams destroyed as a result will be nothing more than statistics and the cares of other people. These consequences are abstractions to them, but they are not to me, as I can name many of the thousands of the American citizens whose lives will be destroyed by these elitists' ill-conceived 'global goofiness' campaigns."
2007 speech to the New York Coal Trade Association
Robert Murray is one of two people that you would recognize from the nearly non stop coverage of the aftermath of the cave in, the repeated rescue attempts, and the ensuing tragedy upon tragedy when the rescuers themselves were caught in another collapse killing three and injuring six others.
Murray, is the most recognizable, at times seen castigating the press or the unions, at others in the mine, pointer in hand, explaining the rescue operation to the media, or as seen below. Murray is the owner and CEO of Murray energy which is among the dozen largest coal mining companies in the country. He owns 19 mines in Ohio and Illinois including the Crandall Canyon mine and others in Utah. In general, Murray's operations have a far less than stellar reputation for safety, having over the years, been cited thousands of times for safety violations and fined millions of dollars. Murray says that the safety violations were trivial and included violations such as not having enough toilet paper in the restroom.
Murray claims that the Crandall Canyon collapse was caused by an earthquake, seismologists dispute his claim saying that the seismic activity they recorded was the result of the collapsing mountain not the cause of it. The head of the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colorado said that an analysis of seismic waves that occurred in the area around the time the mine collapsed are consistent with what would be seen from a mine collapse, and, subsequent seismic activity that has been detected may have been related to energy being released in the aftermath of the collapse,
However its probably easy to guess which side of this question the insurance companies will land on.
If Murray has no love for environmentalists and federal regulation, he also has no love for unions and all but one of his mines are non union, a fact that probably is responsible, in large measure, for the dismal safety record. In a union atmosphere, union stewards and safety committees can report violations without fear of retaliation from management. In a non union mine reporting safety violations or unsafe practices and working conditions place the individual miner at risk of losing his job, or worse, for speaking out. This often results in an atmosphere of fear in which such conditions are overlooked, placing lives at risk.
Murray is also a serious donor to Republican candidates for office, having bequeathed over $150,000 to such notables as George Bush, Mitch McConnell, Katherine Harris and Sam Brownback among others, in the last couple of years through his Murray Energy PAC and other affiliates. This may help to explain the accommodating way he has been treated by federal regulators.
The coal in the Crandall Canyon mine is removed by what is called the room and pillar method where digging and removing coal creates a cavity or room and large pillars or columns of coal are left standing to hold up the roof which is further augmented by drilling and setting roof bolts. It is believed by many that at the time of the collapse the miners were engaged in retreat mining in which the pillars are removed and the roof is allowed to collapse as the workers retreat back to the entry.
Although considered to be a very dangerous undertaking, the mine had the necessary permits for performing retreat mining from Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) according to Robert Friend who told the Washington Post that the cause of the collapse had not yet been discovered but, "there was retreat mining where these miners are." Asked about the conflict with Murray's denials that the retreat method was in use he replied, "I can't speculate as to what he meant."
Some, including Utah's Governor are calling for an investigation focusing on why those permits were granted in this instance and UMW says that the MSHA has been too cozy with the industry in recent years.
There are whispered reports (it's a good idea to lower one's voice when criticizing mine owners or their operations in central Utah) that the Crandall Canyon mine was unsafe when Murray bought it last year. Not wanting to leave behind any of the coal contained in the pillars they began the retreat mining operation. A spokesman for UMW, Phil Smith, said yesterday, "No one took the time to see that it was a recipe for disaster.
The graphic depicts retreat mining in a room and pillar operation like Crandall Canyon.
The pillars are mined from the farthest point towards the entry and the mine is allowed to collapse as it will.
Wanna try it? I'm sure the image above is a much more orderly depiction of the process than the reality.Though it may seem strange to people outside the coal industry, generations of miners have been cutting away those pillars to increase coal production in a practice known as retreat mining. It's legal and considered standard procedure. But it has claimed the lives of 17 coal miners in the past seven years.
In Kentucky alone, four miners have been crushed in rock falls during retreat mining in the last 14 months.
"You're definitely playing Russian roulette," said Miller, now an organizer for the United Mine Workers of America, which spells out in its contract that members can withdraw from any section of mine they believe is unsafe. "You remove those pillars, the roof is coming down. It's inevitable."
Retreat Coal Mining Comes Under Scrutiny
Which brings us to the second recognizable figure from the coverage of these horrible events, Richard Stickler the Mine Safety and Health Administrator who waited two days after the mine collapsed before taking control of the rescue efforts, a delay that reminded some of "Brownie" and Katrina.
Stickler is a former mine executive and manager whose confirmation for the position was turned down twice by the Senate.
Richard SticklerThe injury rates at coal mines Stickler managed from 1989 to 1996 were double the national average, according to statistics assembled by the Mine Workers before Stickler's appointment to head the Pennsylvania Bureau of Deep Mine Safety.
During his confirmation hearings, Stickler said he believed the then-current mine safety laws were adequate and did not need strengthening. This spring, when coal mine deaths stood at 33?at the time the highest number killed on the job in a full year since 2001. Congress passed legislation to strengthen and improve mine safety.
In spite of fierce opposition from both Democrats and Republicans as well as the United Mine Workers, George Bush made the appointment last October during a congressional recess.
The Fox was now in charge of another regulatory chicken coop.
The federal government's power to regulate the activities of business is among it's most sacred duties to our citizenry. The regulation of the purity of our drugs and our food, the safety of our workplaces, the safety and reliability of manufactured products, ranging from what we wear to what we drive is a responsibility that is as critical to our social health and civil order as defense. In this area, as in so many others, this administration has not only dropped the ball, they have thrown it to the opposing team.
From a candlelight vigil held in Huntington last week, focused on the six coal miners trapped in the Crandall Canyon mine. Photo by Trent Nelson Salt Lake Tribune
"We are at the mercy of the officials in charge and their so-called experts."
Sonny Olsen, Spokesperson for the families of the trapped miners"
As I was about finish and post this article I received this Email from John Sweeney, AFL-CIO President. The timing was spooky, but he wrote the perfect postscript to what I wanted to convey here. So I'm going to use his remarks as my close, Take it Mr Sweeney:
As you may already know, the underground rescue operation to save the six coal
miners trapped in the Crandall Canyon Mine has been halted. Tragically, the miners may be buried beneath the Utah mountain
At this difficult time, I ask you for your thoughts and prayers for the miners and their families, as well as for the families of the three rescue workers who gave their lives trying to save the missing.
I also thank you for being someone who cares enough to take action to improve life for working
families on many fronts.
Last year, after 12 coal miners died in the Sago Mine in West Virginia you helped convince Congress to pass the first major overhaul to mine safety laws in more than three decades, the MINER Act.
Since the Bush administration came into office, it has been systematically dismantling workplace safety protections. But you wouldn't allow corporate greed and Bush administration neglect and indifference to go unchallenged.
That neglect and indifference haven't been isolated to workplace safety. Just look at our economy workers' paychecks are stagnant while our productivity goes up and up. Just think back to the
administration's catastrophic response to Hurricane Katrina, the poor conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the nation's crumbling infrastructure, our health care crisis; many, many people are wondering,What's wrong with America?
Fortunately, in our democracy, every four years we have a chance to fix what's wrong by electing
leaders, including a president, who put working families first. We have a very busy time ahead of us, fighting together for health care, good jobs and the freedom to form unions without employer interference and fighting for a government led by people committed to make America work for
Thank you for all that you've done so far in this fight and for all you will do in the months ahead.
P.S. What do you think the next president should do to make our workplaces safe and healthy? Please share your thoughts on our AFL-CIO Working Families Vote 2008Forum.
Related Stories and Links:
Two For The Money
The Salt Lake Tribune
Memo shows mine already had roof problems in March
I See Dead People
A sincere thank you to Marty Kaplan and David Roberts
To that, I say bullshit.
If you (the abstract “you”, of course) want to argue that we don’t have the votes, or that there isn’t enough time, or that the public would rather have investigations go on in the background while real bold legislation is being pursued, or that there are other bigger more pressing matters, I can accept that. I don’t necessarily agree with many (or maybe not any) of these reasons, but I at least can accept them.
But this whole line of crap that “impeachment is forever tainted” will make me want to scream. Does anyone honestly think that if a Democratic administration member did ANYTHING even remotely close to any of the myriad of things that Gonzales, Bush, Cheney or anyone else has done that the word “impeachment for the sake of the rule of law” won’t be dripping from every republican, talking meatstick and corporate owned major media publication nonstop?
If you don’t think so, just remember what Clinton was impeached over, who controls the message and who can’t message their way out of a paper bag.
There are a myriad of reasons why impeaching Gonzales is a slam dunk, and would restore confidence in Democratic leadership in Congress, as well as raise the profile of the Democratic led Congressional investigations (not to mention lend credibility to the investigations) and raise the approval of Congressional Democrats among those who think that some or many are not willing to stand up to this administration. As for the reasons to impeach Gonzales (just in case Senator Dodd needs more convincing), well, I alone have laid out a few reasons here and here and here and here and here and here and here.
Impeachment is a very serious thing – and should not be taken lightly. It is very likely that one of the main reasons why impeachment was deliberately rammed through the House in the late 1990s was to reduce it to the “cheap political theater” that it is now known as. Or, maybe it was a side benefit to some other reason.
But the bottom line is that the word “impeachment” is viewed as taboo to many people because of the hyper partisan nonsensical political theater that was Clinton’s impeachment. And it is all too convenient of an excuse for those who don’t want to take a stand against some of the most corrupt and sinister people ever to serve in such high offices here in the United States government.
However, I think that just the opposite is true here. We have so many reasons - valid, imperative reasons, to impeach Gonzales that NOT to do so is what will forever cheapen the power of impeachment. If not Gonzales, if not now, then please tell me what could EVER be the case for bringing impeachment charges against anyone? Why wouldn’t the argument down the road be “if Gonzales wasn’t impeached, with all of the evidence that the Democratic Congress said they had, then why should XXXXX be impeached over something that clearly does not rise to the same level?”
It’s about time that more people who are supposed to know better realize that unless impeachment is used now against Gonzales, there will never (hopefully) be a better reason to pursue impeachment. By doing so, it will (1) restore integrity to the impeachment process and (2) put an end to this stupid lazy nonsensical excuse once and for all.
It’s a no-brainer.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
I know that we all would love to see Bush, Cheney, Rove, Gonzales and whoever else frog marched, impeached and locked up for many years. I am also aware of the precedent that would be set if these actions don’t go punished, or even investigated. But with the country in such bad shape by nearly every metric that even the slumbered masses have taken their heads our of
their asses the sand long enough to start realizing just how dire the situation could be.
Now that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the problems that face this country – Katrina has still left the Gulf Coast in shambles and ignored to the point where it isn’t much better than it was close to two years ago. The housing crisis is going to get worse. A LOT worse, as people won’t be able to afford their mortgages, as mortgage companies go out of business and the cascading effect hits other areas of the housing sector. Iraq is a sinkhole of death, destruction and even our Democratic leaders (with a lot of help from the blue dogs) aren’t taking a bold stand or the lead on probably the most important issue facing this country. That goes for the Presidential candidates as well – especially those who are in Congress and in a position to act as the leader that they want to be.
The infrastructure is a mess – the bridge collapse is just another example, as I have written about our decaying railways and the decline in mine safety over the past few years as well. Roads are in disrepair, the power grid is outdated, and there are so many more examples of needs with not enough money to even keep up with the necessary maintenance, let alone major repairs. We are falling behind in education, the environmental issues are still “up for debate” and the White House has even fought regulations with respect to lead paint.
People are working more and taking home less. This is compounded by high gas prices, a lack of adequate or affordable health insurance and the AMT squeezing all of the people it SHOULDN’T, while not touching many of those it should be hitting.
You know, real problems that touch on them. Problems that they want Congress to tackle - no matter how big or how tough they may be. And here is a news flash – Americans would rather have the Democrats TRY to implement a healthcare plan, or deal with infrastructure issues, or hold their ground on Iraq and actually have a timetable set – even if it results in a veto than to have nothing but hand wringing.
So where am I going with all this?
Investigations are nice. Investigations are warranted. Threats are also good, especially when there has been no indication of compliance or cooperation for years. But, toothless investigations and threats of the “just wait until your father gets home” variety aren’t going to do much other than waste time, energy and resources.
Actually, I take that back – it will also (1) piss off those who demand accountability because we see the toothless threats time and again and are getting tired of it and (2) give fodder to those on the right who accuse the Democrats of partisan witch hunts or “playing politics”.
Before you dismiss the second point above – just remember who controls the message.
"Alberto Gonzales - I gotta tell you, if your question would have been just about Alberto Gonzales, I would've been a little less secure in my answer to you," said Dodd, who said he didn't support pursuing impeachment of Bush or Cheney. "The president and vice president of the United States, I just don't want to go down that road. Gonzales - I'm open to you convincing me that this is one we might want to move on."
Now, as much as I am liking Dodd more and more, this is just an unbelievable statement. He is open to being convinced about impeaching Gonzales???? A man who is an attorney (and supposedly bound by a professional code of ethics) and is caught lying time and time again. To Congress. The nation’s TOP attorney, who either can’t get a handle on the most basic as well as the most controversial high profile things going on in his own Justice Department, or who is pulling the strings and lying about it. A man who crafted the support for torture. And lord knows what else.
Before anyone says that impeachment comes from the House and he can only vote to convict, I say that I am sure that Dodd has many friends in the House and as someone who is running for President, should be able to take a leadership role here in forcing the issue.
Leahy lets deadlines come and go, while throwing around words like “contempt”. Reid talks about changing direction in Iraq. Much of the Democratic leadership talks about how they want to change the FISA rule they just allowed to be brought to the floor. Frankly, the argument of being afraid that something will happen that wasn’t picked up by spying and the Democrats will be blamed is the stupidest, laziest and dishonest argument that I have heard in a good while. For starters, let’s answer a couple of questions:
- Who is responsible for the lack of enough qualified Arabic translators that can even interpret any messages that are intercepted?
- Who gave no though to invading Iraq or the aftermath, even though there was ample warning?
- Who blew off the most bold warnings that the US was in dire threat of being attacked, blew off warnings about al Qaeda, and then responded with a “ok, you’ve covered your ass now”
- Who decided to give money to the Saudis, even though they have ties to the 9/11 attackers and had ties to wealthy nationals who funded the insurgency in Iraq?
How about going on the offensive? How about getting legislation to the floor that actually helps the major disasters that are facing Americans? How about getting on national television, writing OpEds or holding press conferences on the steps of the Capitol letting everyone know that Bush is going to veto a bill with respect to expanding health care access for children – that is if the republicans don’t stop it from passing? Or that they are going to impeach Gonzales? Or that there will be a major transportation bill that funds the things it needs to fund - even if Bush vetoes it. Even if the republicans hold the bill up?
That is the republican strategy – block everything and say that the Democrats did nothing other than investigate for partisan purposes. And in the battle of message, the Democrats are losing badly.
If the investigations don’t result in meaningful actions, and the status quo in Congress continues, then the 2008 elections will be a lot closer than we would like them to be.
This country has lots of major problems that need to be solved. This is the Democratic Party’s chance to step up to the plate. We can’t wait until after the 2008 elections for much of this. And it is foolish to think that independents are going to flock to the polls based on a disappointing two years as Democrats need them to.
To put it more bluntly, either shit or get off the pot. There is enough evidence to charge more than a few people and hold them in inherent contempt. Either do it or don’t even bother investigating anymore.
I informed my boss this morning, and one of the other Lt.'s offered to fill in for me if I had to take off. Dad told me they are waiting on some more info. He did say they finally got the infection out though. If I don't post as much in the next couple of days, you know why. I trust the other contributors will keep you informed on what is going on in the world. Be use to visit the other Louisiana bloggers too. I'll try to touch base as often as I can. I may not be able to post all the time, but I do try to get around and read the others.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Jose Padilla, center, is escorted to a waiting police vechicle by federal marshals in this Jan. 5, 2006, file photo. He has been on trial in Miami for most of this year, charged with conspiring with al Qaeda to detonate a "dirty bomb" in the United States. Photo by J. Pat Carter, AP
On Thurday August 16 2007 A federal jury convicted Jose Padilla of three counts of conspiracy in a trial that was the culmination of five years of a criminal proceeding that is among the most shameful in the history of the United States justice system.
I am not an apologist for Jose Padilla, I belong to no "Free Jose" organizations nor am I a member of any "Jose Padilla defense funds," although maybe I should have been, maybe we all should have been because when they throw away the keys to Padilla's cell we will also throw away any pretense to being a nation of laws, a nation that respects human rights, we will throw away a large measure of what once made us a great and civilized nation.
I am also not a terrorist, nor am I a member of any terrorist organization and that declaration alone, in the modern, mandatory, cocoon of fear within which we are now required to live by governmental decree, is probably enough to have a tap placed on my phone and a couple of guys who look like the Blues Brothers parked in front of my house at odd hours. After all, if I have nothing to hide, why would I bring it up. Under the new Department of Justice rule book I must be indictable for something.
Jose Padilla was arrested over five years ago in May of 2002, picked up in Chicago after returning from Europe and allegedly carrying over 10 grand in cash. He was held for about a month as a material witness before Attorney General John Ashcroft delayed a trip to Moscow in order to announce that the US had discovered a plot to explode "dirty bombs" inside the country. Padilla was branded as the "Dirty Bomber" and George Bush declared him to be an illegal enemy combatant.
Padilla was a small time criminal, a US citizen born in Brooklyn, he had lived in Chicago and been a member of a street gang known as the Maniac Latin Disciples. He had been in prison at least once for aggravated assault after a gang member died as a result of fight in which he was involved. While in prison Padilla converted to Islam under the tutelage of someone who is reported to have preached a non violent, mainstream version of the religion. He attended mosques in Florida for years with one of the men who was convicted with him.
Padilla was probably a bad actor, I have seen nothing in his resume that would lead me to hire him as a youth counselor, but was he a terrorist? Who knows? That is the problem.
Had the government arrested him and presented it's evidence in a court of law, as is done every day, in conspiracies great and small in every city in this country, had Padilla been afforded the guarantees of the constitution of the nation of which he was a citizen, we might have learned the truth.
Now we probably never will, because what the government did was search for shortcuts, the law was inconvenient, due process, criminal procedure, rights of the accused, all that stuff was an impediment to the speedy production of positive results in their war on terror public relations campaign, which followed on the heels of 9/11 and continues unabated to this day.
Padilla was shipped off to a Naval brig in Charleston to spend the next three and one half years in total isolation, held in constant darkness, or constant light, under extremes of temperature, subjected to physical and psychological "enhanced interrogation methods," the Bush administration's Orwellian euphemism for torture. And the government got nothing. Nothing.
When all was said and done, after more than three years of criminal treatment, the government, faced with the likelihood that the courts were about to require them to put up or shut up, finally indicted Padilla on the three conspiracy charges of which, last week, he was ultimately convicted.
Padilla was never charged with being a member of al Queada, he was never charged with being a dirty bomber, he was not indicted on nor was he ever charged with any what was alleged at the beginning of this exercise in injustice over three years before.
Our current Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales last week called the conviction of Jose Padilla and his co-conspirators " a significant victory in our efforts to fight the threat posed by terrorists and their supporters."
If holding an American citizen or anyone else, for years, years, in military custody, without charging him with a crime, subjecting him to torture during the entire period, and then failing to indict or convict him of anything close to what they originally alleged is "a significant victory" then it helps me to understand their constant claims of significant progress in Iraq or in the "War on Terror."
Make no mistake, this was no victory. This was a failure of our system of justice deliberately brought about by an executive department and two Attorneys General who had, and have, nothing but, disdain, in fact, utter contempt for the American system of justice and for due process of law.
I'm not bleeding for Jose Padilla here, I doubt if Jose even knows who he is at this point.
By accounts that I have read he has been driven insane by the circumstances of his confinement. It is reported that as part of the process of breaking him down he was forced to sign documents with the name "John Doe." One of their goals was to relieve him of his personal identity, they succeeded, all too well.
The government on Thursday convicted "John Doe" of three counts of conspiring to participate in terrorist acts. They can do the same to me, more importantly, they can do the same to you.
They have spared no expense of time, energy and money over the last six years. they have gone to great lengths in establishing shortcuts that enable them to investigate, arrest, imprison and torture any one they want, at any time and for any reason.
To this government, this Cheney/Bush administration, this criminal enterprise that is destroying America one liberty at a time, we are all, each and every one of us "John Doe."
"The regional government has declared September 12 the Day of Conception and wants workers to go home and procreate. Couples who then give birth on June 12 during the nation's holiday can win anything from cash prizes to cars to refrigerators."A "national day of conception". Can you imagine? Cash prizes, refrigerators and a paid day off from work, just to knock knees and get knocked up?
I love the Russian poker face Comrade Putin puts on it:
President Vladimir Putin, in May, defined the crisis as the nation's biggest problem and the government is offering hefty bonuses to women who have a second child. "Allowing women to act on their fertility preferences would further increase fertility, thus creating more vital and irreplaceable human capital," he says.
Er, talk about being in the Kremlin/politburo too long. I doubt we'll be reading Putin in the Penthouse Forum anytime soon.
But note too how the emphasis is on "the women" not the men, as if it's the women's fault this "shortage of fertility" is happening. As Jawa notes above, it certainly can't be because of "the way Russian women look."
No word yet on whether volunteers from foreign countries are being accepted, though since they are trying to cut down on foreign adoptions, I doubt wild, sex-crazed American males will be welcome into the country September 12th.
Cross posted from AoF
Looking at FEMA data, however, Bowman said about 3,000 homes in both parishes were heavily damaged or destroyed, so most of the migration within the parish was not immediately forced by the storms. However, parishes such as Orleans and Cameron that bore the brunt of the hurricanes also showed high figures for internal migration.
Just taking one bayou community alone, it would make up nearly that many homes. One of those communities, Dulac, showed the population of 2,458 in the 2000 census. Dulac was one of the communities that was flooded out by Rita, and where graves were floating away. But they somehow think 3,000 is a rational number. Is it any wonder why New Orleans and the surrounding areas are getting so much delay from the LRA? If they have problems keeping up with this area, the areas of mass exodus have no chance. If you want to know about Dulac, look no further.
In this coastal area of Louisiana’s Terrebonne Parish, 90 percent of which is covered by wetlands or water, government neglect is nothing new. The economic poverty of the residents here is starkly apparent, even with the most recent destruction layered on.
According to the 2000 Census, the per-capita income is $8,785 per year in Dulac, a town that is almost 40 percent Native American. More than 30 percent of the area’s residents struggle to make ends meet below the federally recognized poverty line. Fewer than 30 percent possess a high school diploma or equivalent.
Dulac, population 2,458, is just one bayou town among many in the area southwest of New Orleans hit by Hurricane Rita and then largely ignored by government relief agencies.
Brenda Dardar Robichaux, principal chief of the United Houma Nation, put it all in perspective in 2005.
Robichaux said that her tribal members face severe obstacles when attempting to access help from FEMA. Since her people were not allowed into public schools until the 1960s, many cannot read or write. On top of that, many do not speak English.
"We’re looking at a whole population of people who are not aware of the FEMA process and could not even do it by themselves," she said.
So Robichaux finally convinced FEMA to set up a contact point at the tribal center where she and others could help people through the process. But, she said, FEMA representatives have only come a few times, have stayed only a few hours and have so far refused to give her enough notice to alert tribal members who need help.
When asked to put the lack of government hurricane assistance into historical context, Robichaux said, "It’s disappointing but not surprising because that’s been our relationship [with the government] throughout."
Economist Loren Scott, uses the "economy booming" excuse for the inner parish movement.
One reason for so much movement inside Terrebonne and Lafourche could be the booming local economy, said economist Loren Scott. Along with high sales-tax collections from bustling retail markets and steady job creation, some people might simply be using their higher salaries to buy new, nicer houses, he suggested.
"That’s the fastest-growing place in the state," Scott said. "The economy is really rocking and rolling."
So an oil boom is all the rage now Mr. Scott? Do you remember the late eighties Mr. Scott? I remember those bumper sticker saying "last one to leave Houma, turn out the lights" as people were layed off and companies relocated to Lafayette. My family now lives in Lafayette, and they got moved there during that time. I'll give you a hint as to why people are moving around in the parish. Pay close attention now!
"They’re trying to stay as much as possible," Brown said. But, because of insurance and flooding, "people are looking to move to the higher ground."
"People still love to buy down the bayous," Pellegrin said. "These are their homes, and that’s where they want to live."
Insurance costs, however, are pricing people out of those lowest-lying communities. A house with a $2,500 yearly insurance premium in west Houma would cost $6,000 a year down the bayou, Pellegrin said, forcing brokers to cut prices on down-the-bayou homes by thousands of dollars below the appraised value.
"The driving force is insurance," she said of the population shifts. "People are not scared of hurricanes here."
Got that? Insurance is the driving force! But I guess the the righties would suggest that we teach those people English. It's Merika after all. Those damned Indians think they have a right to be here, huh?
Cross Posted to The Democratic Daily
Friday, August 17, 2007
How many times have we heard the entirely irrelevant, factually incorrect and short sighted comment from someone when it comes to the illegal spying and warrantless wiretapping (not to mention the upcoming expanded use of spy satellites within the US) that “they have nothing to hide so who cares if the government is spying”?
Besides the fact that there is the massive collection of personal data by companies which has been lost, stolen or otherwise compromised – leading to identity theft and countless hours (and money) spent by individuals to deal with this, and there is the use of this data for nonstop bombardment of targeted marketing campaigns, it is the slipperiest of slopes to argue this position.
But, as Van Buren so aptly noted in his (or her) comment, it is the excusing of basically every OTHER right under the first ten amendments that are being shrugged off in the name of a false sense of security, while the one amendment that is completely taboo to talk in any reasonable or rational manner without the NRA or other interest group to blow the entire argument out of proportion, take comments out of context and generally lose the ability to have any rational conversation.
And that is precisely why the counter argument should hit on the right to bear arms. Certainly this is an issue that generates a lot of passion, and I see two benefits here of using this counter argument: (1) it exposes the sheer hypocrisy of so easily giving up a basic right – whether it be free speech, religious freedom, habeas corpus, or against unreasonable search and seizure – while vehemently dismissing outright (rightfully so, I might add) even the thought of taking away the right to own any gun that anyone wants to own, with as little restriction from regulation as possible; and (2) it raises the specter that, if the government can chip away at or flat out take away any other rights, then what is to stop it from taking away the right to protect yourself?
The bar keeps getting moved when it comes to other rights. Free speech zones are a perfect example. Censoring what Pearl Jam did in the Lollapalooza show is another example. Pre-screened “town hall meetings”, secret data rooms, spy satellites, expanding the authority of the Attorney General or President way beyond any plausibly rational or Constitutional authority when it comes to torture, spying or whatever else they want to do are some other examples.
And for those who don’t think that it happens all the time, or has been happening for longer than you may know, I will refer to a line that struck me from Jesselyn Radack’s excellent book, The Canary in The Coalmine that almost knocked me over when I read it. She was talking about her first contacts with Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff and how the government was able to get certain information related to this without either party having any idea. This is from the Columbia Journalism Review and is titled “Who’s Tracking Your Calls?” (emphasis mine):
So who traced Isikoff's calls? In the final analysis it really doesn't matter whether the justice Department did, and shared the information with Hawkins Delafield, or whether the firm did, and shared the information with the department. Either way the government got a record of Isikoff's calls to an important source on an important story, without either party's knowing about it. It's a quick lesson on how far an irate government may go to burn your source.
Now, imagine that the government bursts into your home, and instead of taking your computer, files and other personal information, it takes away your guns, ammo and license. Just because they (1) have a suspicion that you may have done something wrong or may eventually use them in a crime (even though there is no real basis for that suspicion) and (2) because they can. And, let’s also say that this was happening with regularity, was relatively random, and generally didn’t result in anything other than the wrongful confiscation of guns and ammo. Somehow, I don’t think that the NRA or the population of gun owners will be too happy about this development.
But it’s no big deal, right? You probably weren’t going to use the gun anyway, so who really cares?
Suddenly, the argument shifts and it is a bit more offensive than just the right to a fair and speedy trial, to hear evidence against you, to face your accuser, to exercise free speech and to not have unreasonable warrantless spying on you, confiscation of your computer and bugging of your phones.
Strange where peoples’ priorities are.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
“Today’s report underscores even more powerfully the urgency of getting our soldiers the care and assistance they need before they deploy, while they are in combat and most importantly when they return,” Senator Kerry said. “There is nothing more important than getting our government prepared to help heal all the wounds of war – including those that might not be visible. It starts with improving PTSD treatment and giving our veterans centers the resources they need to provide the care our soldiers deserve.”
“Over the past 6 years we’ve too often seen the rhetoric of supporting the troops fall short of promises kept. From threatened vetoes of military pay raises, failure to provide our troops with the proper equipment, and a multi-billion dollar shortfall at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the gaps in preparedness have been unacceptable. The Administration must reverse course and immediately follow the Dole-Shalala Commission’s recommendations and improve care and resources for PTSD and traumatic brain injury. I also call on the President to support bipartisan efforts in Congress to increase the number of mental health specialists in both the Department of Defense and the VA and increase dwell time for our soldiers between deployments.”
In the blogosphere, Outside the Beltway and Armered Liberal at Winds of Change, are pulling out national suicide statistics to downplay the reports findings. There is no downplaying this. The fact is that we're not doing enough to help out troops cope with PTSD, we're sending suicidal and stressed out soldiers back into combat, and we're not providing adequate medical care for our veterans.
Enough Is Enough.
Cross posted from The Democratic Daily.