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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Calling it like it is... 

Norman Solomon's CommonDreams article is full of pathos, unlike the speech of our President.

Here's an excerpt:

The policies are matters of priorities. And the priorities of the Bush White House are clear. For killing in Iraq, they spare no expense. For protecting and sustaining life, the cupboards go bare. The problem is not incompetence. It's inhumanity, cruelty and greed. Media outlets have popularized some tactical critiques of U.S. military operations in Iraq. But the administration is competent enough to keep the military-industrial complex humming. It's good at generating huge profits for "defense" contractors, oil companies and the like. First things first, and first things last. Why shore up levees when the precious money it would take can be better used for war in Iraq? Why allow National Guard units to remain home when they can be useful, killing and being killed, in a faraway war based on lies? And when catastrophe hits people close to home, why should the president respond with urgency or adequacy if their lives don't figure as truly important in his political calculus? It's time to end the impunity of President George W. Bush. Of course he doesn't pull the triggers, drop the bombs or oversee the torture himself. And he avoids the dying that he has facilitated in the wake of the hurricane. White-collar criminals -- in this case, white-collar war criminals -- rarely get close to their dirtiest work. Every minute has counted in the wake of the hurricane. While dawdling and compounding the massive tragedy, Bush wants to shift responsibility. We should stop and think about why he noisily rattled a big tin cup midway through the week. While the death toll rises in New Orleans and criticisms of his inaction grow more outraged across the country, the man wants us to think about making a charitable contribution, not taking political action. But George Bush and Dick Cheney must not be let off the hook. There is something egregiously obscene about the people in charge of the U.S. government telling citizens to donate money for a hurricane relief effort while the administration, from the president on down, has viciously abdicated its most basic responsibilities. For the activities it views as really important, like the war on Iraq, the Bush White House hardly requires private contributions while siphoning off vast quantities of taxpayer funds. But when the task is to save lives instead of destroying them, kids are supposed to bust open their piggy banks.

Indeed. As the airbrushing campaign begins now, just as it did after 9/11, let us NEVER forget the non-response during the first 3 days...the unnecessary starvation, dehydration, dysentery, in a city where 134,000 people had no car. And this time yelling "I hear you!" into a bullhorn just isn't going to cut it.

I wonder if there will be any planned detonations in New Orleans? It worked for 9/11. Check out the "Collapse Videos". Probably not, though, there's not much left to blow up in New Orleans.

This is a crucial test for the soul of the States. This is #16 on the list of things that Bush has done for which Clinton would have been impeached. Where is the elected official who will initiate Impeachment proceedings? Until then, this country --already the world's most hated--will continue to descend into new, previously unexplored depths.

-Vulf


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Why the Levee Broke... 

If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break, When The Levee Breaks I'll have no place to stay.

When the levee breaks, mama you got to move...as in away from the coastline forever. However, it didn't have to be so bad...if Bush hadn't cut funding by 44% in the past four years.

Going down, going down now, going down, down, down, down...

Reprinted here in its entirety...

http://www.salon.com/opinion/blumenthal/2005/08/31/disaster_preparation/
By Sidney Blumenthal

Aug. 31, 2005 Biblical in its uncontrolled rage and scope, Hurricane Katrina has left millions of Americans to scavenge for food and shelter and hundreds to thousands reportedly dead. With its main levee broken, the evacuated city of New Orleans has become part of the Gulf of Mexico.

But the damage wrought by the hurricane may not entirely be the result of an act of nature.
A year ago the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed to study how New Orleans could be protected from a catastrophic hurricane, but the Bush administration ordered that the research not be undertaken. After a flood killed six people in 1995, Congress created the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, in which the Corps of Engineers strengthened and renovated levees and pumping stations. In early 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a report stating that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S., including a terrorist attack on New York City. But by 2003 the federal funding for the flood control project essentially dried up as it was drained into the Iraq war. In 2004, the Bush administration cut funding requested by the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for holding back the waters of Lake Pontchartrain by more than 80 percent. Additional cuts at the beginning of this year (for a total reduction in funding of 44.2 percent since 2001) forced the New Orleans district of the Corps to impose a hiring freeze. The Senate had debated adding funds for fixing New Orleans' levees, but it was too late.


The New Orleans Times-Picayune, which before the hurricane published a series on the federal funding problem, and whose presses are now underwater, reported online: "No one can say they didn't see it coming ... Now in the wake of one of the worst storms ever, serious questions are being asked about the lack of preparation."

The Bush administration's policy of turning over wetlands to developers almost certainly also contributed to the heightened level of the storm surge. In 1990, a federal task force began restoring lost wetlands surrounding New Orleans. Every two miles of wetland between the Crescent City and the Gulf reduces a surge by half a foot. Bush had promised "no net loss" of wetlands, a policy launched by his father's administration and bolstered by President Clinton. But he reversed his approach in 2003, unleashing the developers. The Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency then announced they could no longer protect wetlands unless they were somehow related to interstate commerce.


In response to this potential crisis, four leading environmental groups conducted a joint expert study, concluding in 2004 that without wetlands protection New Orleans could be devastated by an ordinary, much less a Category 4 or 5, hurricane. "There's no way to describe how mindless a policy that is when it comes to wetlands protection," said one of the report's authors. The chairman of the White House's Council on Environmental Quality dismissed the study as "highly questionable," and boasted, "Everybody loves what we're doing."


"My administration's climate change policy will be science based," President Bush declared in June 2001. But in 2002, when the Environmental Protection Agency submitted a study on global warming to the United Nations reflecting its expert research, Bush derided it as "a report put out by a bureaucracy," and excised the climate change assessment from the agency's annual report. The next year, when the EPA issued its first comprehensive "Report on the Environment," stating, "Climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment," the White House simply demanded removal of the line and all similar conclusions.


At the G-8 meeting in Scotland this year, Bush successfully stymied any common action on global warming. Scientists, meanwhile, have continued to accumulate impressive data on the rising temperature of the oceans, which has produced more severe hurricanes.

In February 2004, 60 of the nation's leading scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, warned in a statement, "Restoring Scientific Integrity in Policymaking": "Successful application of science has played a large part in the policies that have made the United States of America the world's most powerful nation and its citizens increasingly prosperous and healthy ... Indeed, this principle has long been adhered to by presidents and administrations of both parties in forming and implementing policies. The administration of George W. Bush has, however, disregarded this principle ... The distortion of scientific knowledge for partisan political ends must cease." Bush completely ignored this statement.

In the two weeks preceding the storm in the Gulf, the trumping of science by ideology and expertise by special interests accelerated. The Federal Drug Administration announced that it was postponing sale of the morning-after contraceptive pill, despite overwhelming scientific evidence of its safety and its approval by the FDA's scientific advisory board. The United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa accused the Bush administration of responsibility for a condom shortage in Uganda -- the result of the administration's evangelical Christian agenda of "abstinence." When the chief of the Bureau of Justice Statistics in the Justice Department was ordered by the White House to delete its study that African-Americans and other minorities are subject to racial profiling in police traffic stops and he refused to buckle under, he was forced out of his job. When the Army Corps of Engineers' chief contracting oversight analyst objected to a $7 billion no-bid contract awarded for work in Iraq to Halliburton (the firm at which Vice President Cheney was formerly CEO), she was demoted despite her superior professional ratings. At the National Park Service, a former Cheney aide, a political appointee lacking professional background, drew up a plan to overturn past environmental practices and prohibit any mention of evolution while allowing sale of religious materials through the Park Service.


On the day the levees burst in New Orleans, Bush delivered a speech in California comparing the Iraq war to World War II and himself to Franklin D. Roosevelt: "And he knew that the best way to bring peace and stability to the region was by bringing freedom to Japan." Bush had boarded his very own "Streetcar Named Desire."

Bush, in cutting this funding and ruining the protective barrier of the wetlands, is a terrorist, flagrantly killing his own constituency.

-Vulf

Tsunami of grief 

Our hearts go out to the latest victims of global climate change...in New Orleans.

Sadly, this is not a once in a lifetime event. There will be three or four like this every year from now on...fortunately, not all will hit a major metropolitan area, but some will. Remember last year's four-pack in Florida...in September alone? Which will be next? Mobile? Miami? Houston? Roll the dice...

But they are not just victims of a changing world climate. They are victims of Bush. Victims of lack of preparedness. Victims of neglect.

This may end up being the blackest September in US history--2001 included. Gas may hit $4/gallon, airports may close, and perhaps tens of thousands will die of cholera or worse as the lack of National Guard units takes it toll. Many more than in the ever more suspicious 9/11 attacks.

All to get Saddam out of power? How's his trial going, anyway? And yet Bush--callous, callow and culpable--asks us to stay the course. Yeah, it's looking really good in Iraq today, pal.

Forget Bush's course. It is a drunken stroll through a minefield. Here's the course we are left to take: Balkanize Iraq. Bring in the U.N. Bring the National Guard home. Pull back the tax breaks to rebuild the Gulf Coast. And get your worthless lazy derriere out of our White House. Resign and hope to hell Cheney pardons you, ruinous villain. Better pardon him first, of course.

Who are the 40% of you who still support Bush? You belong in jail with him in 2007.

-Vulf

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

More on (moron) the economic miracle... 

The Bite reported an increased poverty rate every year since W took office, and predicted 2004 would be a continuation of the trend in spite of the Administration's claims 2004 would be a recovery from 2001-2003.

Guess who was right?

The percentage of the U.S. population living in poverty rose to 12.7 percent from 12.5 percent in 2003, the Census Bureau said in its annual poverty report. The ranks of the poor rose to 37.0 million, as 1.1 million more people slipped into poverty from the previous year, the report said.

This with the Iraq war costing more per month in real dollars than Vietnam, and it's not being factored into the Federal Budget?

Trust the Orwellian Rovians to try to spin even this:

The Bush administration called the 2004 increase "modest" and said the rise was not altogether surprising because poverty rates improve more slowly than unemployment rates or the economy in general after a recession.

Yeah, it's modest, unless you're one of those 1.1 MILLION people, "W". Hit hardest, the midwest and whites. This might turn the tide in states like Missouri, Iowa, Ohio and dare we say Indiana? OK, maybe not Indiana. Still...

Nationwide, real median household income totaled $44,389, roughly flat from 2003, the Census Bureau said. Real median household income has crept lower each year since 1999, the data showed.

Nice trend. Now just imagine if this were corrected for the deficit that Bush has created and written off the books.

-Vulf

Vulf on ThinkProgress.org 

See:

http://thinkprogress.org/2005/08/30/bush-blames/

posting # 207

-Vulf

Let’s leave politics aside for a second. “W” went to war on cooked “evidence”, which is a war crime. That is a fact. Regardless, it is now 4 years after 9/11. Four years after WWII, Germany and Japan were occupied and trials and rebuilding underway. Where is Osama? Every time Bush brings up 9/11, let’s remember that he is admitting failure…nothing has been accomplished in 4 years–even the much more reasonable invasion of Afghanistan has been tainted by Bagram, opium and the resurrection of the Taliban. This is not a political issue, it is about America as an outlaw nation. Whatever is done to “finish up” in Iraq must be done with the UN, NATO and other (former?) US allies, for the sake of trying to restore US morality. Until that time, there is precious little that disambiguates the US from North Korea, except for the power of the US to impose its evil will.

"Known" terrorist? 

Quick, how many of you have heard of Abu Islam?

Didn't think so.

Yet, he was the reason for 47 deaths today...by the US military (again, a number very close to the number killed in the London Underground bombing, just to keep your perspective)...

U.S. forces said they had killed a known al Qaeda militant in western Iraq on Tuesday in air strikes which a hospital official said had killed 47 people.

How many "known" terrorists are being created by the Iraq fiasco? Abu Islam is just one in a long line. Or is he just one of many Abu Islams?

Abu Islam is an alias used by several Islamist militants. U.S. spokesmen had no further information on his identity.

When are these criminals going to be prosecuted for their war crimes?

-Vulf

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