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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, September 03, 2005

This is what this is all about.

Mr. Bush,

You left these people to fend for themselves for two days longer than if we had a competent administration.

Without water a healthy male will live three to five days.

How long do you think she lasted?

It's not how you presented it, or creating the right image. It's not about getting the "good news" out there. It's not about spin or a sense of "progress."

It's that you left helpless people to die when you were the only one in the world who could have done anything to stop it.

That's why we're so angry.

Quit the photo ops and do something!!!!!

Landrieu Blasts Bush on Katrina Response
by Mike Liddell
Sat Sep 3rd, 2005 at 07:05:42 PM EST

U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La., issued the following statement this afternoon regarding her call yesterday for President Bush to appoint a cabinet-level official to oversee Hurricane Katrina relief and recovery efforts within 24 hours.

Sen. Landrieu said:

“Yesterday, I was hoping President Bush would come away from his tour of the regional devastation triggered by Hurricane Katrina with a new understanding for the magnitude of the suffering and for the abject failures of the current Federal Emergency Management Agency. 24 hours later, the President has yet to answer my call for a cabinet-level official to lead our efforts. Meanwhile, FEMA, now a shell of what it once was, continues to be overwhelmed by the task at hand.

“I understand that the U.S. Forest Service had water-tanker aircraft available to help douse the fires raging on our riverfront, but FEMA has yet to accept the aid. When Amtrak offered trains to evacuate significant numbers of victims – far more efficiently than buses – FEMA again dragged its feet. Offers of medicine, communications equipment and other desperately needed items continue to flow in, only to be ignored by the agency.

“But perhaps the greatest disappointment stands at the breached 17th Street levee. Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment. The good and decent people of southeast Louisiana and the Gulf Coast – black and white, rich and poor, young and old – deserve far better from their national government.

Governments that have offered assistance.

Despite trouncing on the UN, attempting to engineer the assassination of Chavez, the embargo of Cuba, the imminent threats on Iran, and all the other stuff, the rest of the world has stepped up.

Governments line up to help after Katrina


Austria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Belgium.


China, Columbia, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Greece, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland.


Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jamaica.


Jordan, Lithuania, Luxembourg.


The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay.


Portugal, South Korea.


Saudi Arabia

Singapore, Slovakia.


Sri Lanka

Switzerland, Sweden.


Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and

Two quick additions, one positive, the amir of Qatar has pledged a hundred million from his own pile.

And one negative. Where the hell is Kuwait in all these lists? If there's one gov't who I feel we can claim owes us something, it's Kuwait, and they haven't stepped up.

UPDATE: At 10:45 AM Sunday, a story finally appeared saying that Kuwait is offering $500 million in oil.

Gov't money for Iraq, citizen donations for New Orleans

This is it, the most gut level summary of what's wrong with the Bush Admin.

Norman Solomon off antiwar.com

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.

Bushes, Just stay the fuck outta New Orleans

Sorry for the language lately, but the anger brings it out. And this is what I'm angy at right now. Laura Bush keeps people in a shelter waiting to eat so she can have a photo op, now this.

Times Picayune via Americablog.org

Bush visit halts food delivery
By Michelle Krupa
Staff writer

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

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

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

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

Another one from Rising Hegemon.

I think I gotta move this blog up into my regulars. All their entry below this line. Hate to do that, but it's pretty significant.

I read this last night, but suffered an outage on the internets. But bigger bloggers, including the Big Blue Convention Host, Talk Left, and perhaps first by Adventus, have noticed now and it is a story that needs to be repeated because its implications are so perverse and terrible.

The Red Cross (link active)itself says:

Hurricane Katrina: Why is the Red Cross not in New Orleans?

* Access to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders.

* The state Homeland Security Department had requested--and continues to request--that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.

Who the hell, be it local, State or Federal Homeland Security made such an order? And why the hell wasn't it rescinded by Wednesday? To take the suffering of tens of thousands of fellow citizens so cavalierly. It sounds like a decision Stalin would have made toward Leningrad in the Summer of 1941.

Somebody is culpable for the deaths of likely hundreds of people by those orders. The first 72 hours are the most critical...the majority of those stranded received no assistance until Friday...far more than 72 hours after the levees broke...120 hours after the Hurricane.

Starving for a photo op.


As the first lady toured the Red Cross shelter at the Cajundome this morning, a line of evacuees waiting to eat their lunch trickled out the door of the Dome.

First lady Laura Bush arrived about midday to tour the shelter and meet evacuees.

By 12:50 p.m., the trays of food were still covered and hungry evacuees stood in line, holding empty plates. Rice, beans and jambalaya were on the menu. About that time, volunteers began rolling the carts of food into position to serve.

(Found this on http://www.rising-hegemon.blogspot.com/)

Friday, September 02, 2005

New Orleans should be the patriotism issue in the midterm elections.

The New Orleans response should be the patriotism issue of the 2006 midterms, much like patriotism/national defense was the main issue in the 2002 midterms roughly a year after 9/11. This is a hugely populist issue with broad appeal which no one will stand against. We should take anybody who says, "they were warned to evacuate" like Chertoff or Brown, and some of the things Trent "my summer home on the coast was destroyed" Lott's been saying, to the woodshed. This event has been a very good test of whether politicians want to help the people of America or wants to defend the Bush administrations obvious incompetence. And we should grade that test with a big red pen.

And, Mr. Politician, I don't care what party you're from, but if your first concern is not the welfare of the American people, we're gonna throw you out on your ass.

I'm proud of my City - Houston Day 2

This isn't particularly neat, it's just a quick email I sent my aunt. I just figured I'd throw it up here to give a bit of a sense of what's going on down here in Houston.

Just a quick update from Houston.
If the local authorities are to be believed, there are now 75,000 people here from NO. I would actually guess that's probably higher if you include all the people staying with friends and family, but that number may just be shelters and hotels. After the fire marshall closed the dome last night to new arrivals, the mayor stepped in to open the Reliant hall, a rebuilt astrohall, and a part of the active football stadium.

Vote Bill White.

I have no idea of what is enough, but the people of Houston have been pouring forth support. Yesterday, I took some clothes down, and saw the early turnout, but by today, almost everyone is chipping in something. My block has a little clothing drive and just about every media business is taking up donations of clothes, food, etc. And just anecdotally I can say that I haven't come across an office that hasn't started a pool.

The local Pacifica station was running a kids' things drive, baby food, formula, old baby clothes, and having none of those, I took up a collection at the tennis courts and went to the dollar store and the walmart to buy a hundred cheap dolls, cars, puzzles, crayons and such. I mention this not to blow my own horn, but to add context for what I'm about to say. At the small 99cent store, only two slots wide in the strip mall and a good twenty miles from the dome, I came across four other people doing the same thing but on different themes. One was gathering school supplies and books, one was doing soap, shampoo, shaving etc, and two more were doing baby goods. Three were from local offices and the other was from a women's book group. Then at Walmart, I ran across another half dozen people filling their carts and hitting up other shoppers just the way I was. Pretty incredible.

And I've got to concede, being probably one of the most anti organized religion guys on the planet, that the local churches have really stepped up. BIG MONEY. One in particular I ought to mention is Second Baptist, one of the three local megachurches who I have great issues with. But Second Baptist has stepped up to sponsor an entire month of feeding people at the Dome complex. Eventually 35,000 people, three meals a day, thirty days, that's a big commitment even for a church with a 12,000 seat sanctuary. I feel quite certain that that action is not isolated and that First Baptist and Lakewood have probably stepped in to commit the same thing.

And on a smaller level, as I outlined in the blog, pretty much every church in the area is chipping in pretty big, whether it's space, organization (job placement/tutoring/daycare/volunteers), or just money.

I'm quite proud to be a Houstonian right now.

I hope the effort is sustained. That's my only fear right now, is that this will fade a bit from consciousness, but again, with some of the big churches involved, they should be able to sustain the effort by buying advertising space later to keep it in consciousness.

Now, I do have to say, there have been some blacker moments. There have been a few calls to the radio stations, and some responses in the local paper's blog asking why Houston is supporting looters and why would we bring those criminals here. But pretty much all of them have that word "those", as in the thinly veiled racist "those people," and I would say that represents a pretty small minority that is present throughout most of the south. There's already been spreading the rumor of children being raped in the dome(not true) and a carjacking, and a couple that was tied up beaten and robbed(all not true) through those highly reliable third hand emails that get passed around.

I'm pretty sure there's going to be some hairy moments at the Dome complex, I don't see how you can stick 25K or 35K people sleeping elbow to elbow in a facility not designed for it and not have problems.

One more anecdotal. I have a friend who lives alone in a three bedroom house out west. We were talking, and he said he'd like to house some people for a month. I pointed out that Moveon.org is organizing matches for that, and being the good Republican that he is, he said "F**k that, I'm not working with those assholes." So I got out my LaQuinta list from the travelling salesman days and we started calling looking for somebody who was begging for extra days. Bingo. DeJean, party of four your rooms are ready.

We're doing our best down here. Best thing ya'll can do, besides Red Cross(or other non-denominational contributions) is to get up the ass of any politician who is dragging their feet. Call your congressman, call your senator, they're all already campaigning for the 2006 midterms anyway and would love a popular issue to press that no one will stand against. Just like the "patriotism/national defense" issue was so big in the 2002 midterms, we need to make this the patriotism issue in the next election.

Enough, I'm rambling again.


True Americans

I don't know the validity of FEMA's stance, don't want to argue that in this post, but I gotta say, these guys, and presumably gals, who volunteered are true Americans. Whether they are allowed in or not, we ought to salute these people, who on MONDAY, saw people in need and were ready to go. Salute.

As a flooded New Orleans sinks further into despair, up to 500 Florida airboat pilots have volunteered to rescue Hurricane Katrina victims, transport relief workers and ferry supplies.

But they aren't being allowed in. And they're growing frustrated. ......

On standby since Monday, the pilots -- many from Central Florida -- have spent thousands of their own dollars stocking their boats and swamp buggies with food, water, medical supplies and fuel. ......

said Frances Marine, Orlando's FEMA public-affairs director. "However, it's so important to be coordinated. Those areas are dangerous right now. There are health hazards and limited ways of getting in and out. . . . Right now, private citizens trying to go into those impacted areas are more hindrance than help."

From the white house press briefing

Just a few clips from the white house press briefing.

Q Scott, there's already a line of discussion going on about the funding of projects prior to this, whether projects in New Orleans, in particular, were under funded because of the Iraq war or for other reasons. Is there a -- do you find any of this criticism legitimate? Do you think there is any second-guessing to be done now about priorities, given that the New Orleans situation was sort of obvious to a lot of the experts?

MR. McCLELLAN: As I indicated, this is not a time for politics. This is a time for the nation to come together and help those in the Gulf Coast region. And that's where our focus is. This is not a time for finger-pointing or playing politics. And I think the last thing that the people who have been displaced or the people who have been affected need is people seeking partisan gain in Washington. And so if that's what you're talking about, that's one thing.

Now, if you're talking about specific areas, if you're talking about specific areas, I think I would be glad to talk about some of those, if that's what you want. I don't know what specific areas you're --

Q I'm talking about policy. I'm talking about the SELA project, for instance, is one some people cite where they felt they needed $60 million in the current '06 fiscal year, they were given $10 million, those types of projects. And a lot of --

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry, which project --

Q SELA -- Southeast Louisiana flood control --

MR. McCLELLAN: Flood control has been a priority of this administration from day one. We have dedicated an additional $300 million over the last few years for flood control in New Orleans and the surrounding area. And if you look at the overall funding levels for the Army Corps of Engineers, they have been slightly above $4.5 billion that has been signed by the President.

Q Local people were asking for more money over the last couple of years. They were quoted in local papers in 2003 and 2004, are saying that they were told by federal officials there wasn't enough money because it was going to Iraq expenditures.

MR. McCLELLAN: You might want to talk to General Strock, who is the commander of the Army Corps of Engineers, because I think he's talked to some reporters already and talked about some of these issues. I think some people maybe have tried to make a suggestion or imply that certain funding would have prevented the flooding from happening, and he has essentially said there's been nothing to suggest that whatsoever, and it's been more of a design issue with the levees.

Jessica, go ahead.

Q Scott, since the briefing started, I've gotten a number of emails from people saying that correspondents who've been in Baghdad and New Orleans say Baghdad feels safer to operate in; people saying that it's absolute chaos in the streets; message boards on the Internet are going crazy. They're frustrated that you're deflecting this to FEMA. Is the White House properly, adequately concerned? And can you tell us --

MR. McCLELLAN: Deflecting what to FEMA?

Q You're deflecting all specifics to the FEMA briefing. .........

He then goes on to tell the next questioner that if they want to know why the helicopters stopped flying, they should check with FEMA.


I saw this exchange on Aaron Brown(CNN) last night. Just unbelievable.
(McIntyre is a CNN military reporter)

MCINTYRE: And as to your question about political, I talked to a lot of people at the Pentagon today who were very frustrated about the fact that the perception was being created that the military didn't move fast enough. And they did it somewhat as political. They thought that part of the motivation was the critics of the administration to make the president look bad.

And they seemed to question the motives of some of our reporters who were out there and hearing these stories from the victims about why they had so much sympathy for the victims, and not as much sympathy for the challenges that the government met in meeting this challenge.

And I have to say thinking about that, it doesn't really seem all that unusual that you would tend to understand the plight of the victims a little more than the bureaucrats in Washington.

BROWN: Yes, I mean, I'm glad you told us that. And they have every right to believe they believe and think the way they think. I mean, and I mean that. But you've got people who have been living as refugees. It is not hard to understand why our first heart beat goes in their direction. We'll worry about the bureaucrats later.

Yeah. It's the media's fault for focusing on the people who have been left to die instead of the planning difficulties of people in air conditioned offices. Unbelievable

NO update

A huge oil spill was spotted near two storage tanks on the Mississippi River downstream from New Orleans, state officials said Friday.

The oil was seen in a flyover to the Venice area by the Department of Environmental Quality.

"Two tanks with the capacity of holding 2 million barrels appear to be leaking," the department said in a statement.

No further details were given.

More brief commentary

A small snip from a rather large Raimondo column from the libertarian/old conservative antiwar.com.

The American military no longer has anything to do with protecting this country from invasions, either natural or man-made. It is purely an instrument of naked aggression, only peripherally serving distinctly American interests, and then grudgingly and as a last resort. The announcement that troops will not be diverted from Iraq to Louisiana tells us everything we need to know about the War Party's priorities. As both New Orleans and Baghdad sink into complete chaos, only the latter is getting any serious attention from Washington.

The rest of it kind of sums up the current stories about the cuts in the Bush budget that were to go to the levees, and a rather lengthy blow at Jonah Goldberg for making jokes about the people in the superdome.(I does support his point, that there is a segment of the right who has become detached from the interests of the American people, but there's more important things to read right now.) But I thought this summed up this line of criticism pretty well.

Stress kills political niceities

Col. Terry Ebbert, director of homeland security for New Orleans, concurred, and he was particularly pungent in his criticism. Asserting that the whole recovery operation had been "carried on the backs of the little guys for four goddamn days," he said that "the rest of the goddamn nation can't get us any resources for security."

"We are like little birds with our mouths open, and you don't have to be very smart to know where to drop the worm," Colonel Ebbert said. "It's criminal within the confines of the United States that within one hour of the hurricane they weren't force-feeding us. It's like FEMA has never been to a hurricane."

AP story and unrelated picture from Superdome

NEW ORLEANS - Ragtag armies of the desperate and hungry begged for help, corpses rotted along flooded sidewalks and bands of armed thugs thwarted fitful rescue efforts as Americans watched the Big Easy dissolve before their eyes.

No offer of help from the Saudis

Here's a list from yesterday afternoon of the countries that have offered assistance. No Saudi. No Kuwait. Excuse China as they have their own cat five typhoon coming at them.

WASHINGTON -- In a turnabout, the United States is now on the receiving end of help from around the world as some two dozen countries offer post-hurricane assistance.

Venezuela, a target of frequent criticism by the Bush administration, offered humanitarian aid and fuel. Venezuela's Citgo Petroleum Corp. pledged a $1 million donation for hurricane aid.

(they've also offered medical teams. - Mike) ......

Offers have been received from Russia, Japan, Canada, France, Honduras, Germany, Venezuela, Jamaica, Australia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Greece, Hungary, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, China, South Korea, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, NATO and the Organization of American States, the spokesman said.

Also, the Singapore embassy said the Southeast Asian country was sending three Chinook helicopters with 38 air force personnel from military exercises in Texas, to Louisiana to support relief efforts by the Texas National Guard.

Freaking Singapore. And yet the Saudis and Kuwaitis haven't stepped up.

What the fuck is this????


President Bush, facing blistering criticism for his administration's response to Hurricane Katrina, said Friday "the results are not acceptable" and pledged to bolster relief efforts with a personal trip to the Gulf Coast.

"We'll get on top of this situation," Bush said, "and we're going to help the people that need help."

I mean, yeah. He's right, but shouldn't he maybe be kicking some butt to make sure that things get better rather than taking a six/seven hour trip, just so he can fly over and look. For god's sake, send one of the marine one helicopters without your ass in it to drop some supplies.

That might help.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

I'm proud of my City

Took some old clothes down to the Red Cross center by the Astrodome this morning around lunch. Didn't go too close, stayed on Kirby, because I didn't want to get in the way. But even on Kirby there were probably 500-1000 people mulling around, usually one or two in the family group carrying large plastic garbage bags.

And this was before a single bus had arrived from the Superdome. We've had two "rogue" buses from New Orleans, one's not sanctioned by the FEMA/NO authorities, and alot of the people who took originally took hotel rooms are starting to show up.

There was a red cross clothing distribution center, well, really it was just pants in one pile, shirts in another, etc. in the parking lot across Kirby. About a hundred and fifty people digging through the stuff. If you want to donate, go there, or better, go to the Red Cross Office on the Southwest freeway(hwy 59) on the north side about at Buffalo Speedway.

There were probably two hundred, maybe more, porta-johns spread throughout the parking lot in groups of five to supplement the ample but dingy facilities inside.

But most notable was the obvious work going on. Hundreds of people, trucks going in and out, parking attendants being unusually nice.

Local vendors are stepping in offering food supplies or whatever they've got. I saw a couple of Kroger trucks in the loading dock.

The only concern I really have is the showers. In the first week or so, they're gonna try to schedule all those people into the lockerroom showers which is gonna be untenable.

And today, locally, there have been the beginnings of an effort of people with extra rooms in their homes to house some of these evacuees at least temporarily. I really feel quite badly that I'm not in a situation where that's possible. But, you know, that's really giving.

On my way back out, I stopped at my favorite Gyro place and ran across a lady buying twenty sandwiches, chips and drinks, for some of the Red Cross people and some of the others at the clothing distribution site. She wasn't involved with the red cross; she was just driving by and saw all the people. I bought ten more and sent them with her.

It's already been widely reported that Houston schools(HISD) has waived all entry requirements for families coming out the hurricane area. No need for ID, school records, etc.

Several of the church run thrift shops, local salvation army or goodwill equivalents like the Bluebird shop my mom is affiliated with, will allow anyone out of that region to come and take what they need, and several of the churches in the area have adopted "sister" churches in New Orleans to help organize relief. I don't think that is a denominational discrimination, simply a way to help organize and channel locally distributed aid. There's a couple of churches who've turned over their buildings, and in one case I know of, their sanctuaries, to help house refugees. (not a big fan of organized religion, but that's good work.)

To the people of New Orleans, I would like to say that you are welcome in Houston.

It's not gonna be smooth, but we will do everything that we can to help.

Lean, we got you.

White people find things, Black people loot things

(Top Caption) Two residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store after Hurricane Katrina came through the area in New Orleans, Louisiana.(AFP/Getty Images/Chris Graythen)

(Bottom Caption) A young man walks through chest deep flood water after looting a grocery store in New Orleans on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005. Flood waters continue to rise in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina did extensive damage when it made landfall on Monday. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Might be an editorial difference between AP and AFP, but I'm more than likely to think not.

Hats off to this guy I've never heard of for the catch

Local Gas price site.

Don't know how important this is to you, but here's the www.gasbuddy.com website link which sorts local gas stations by current unleaded price. I drive diesel so it's not really helpful, but on a quick survey of the Houston numbers, it could save you $ .86 a gallon from top to bottom, so it might be worth a look.

I'll post the link permanently on the right side under links.

More New Orleans Stories

This is all from the www.NOLA.com site via Editor and Publisher. There's more through the link, this is just a sample. It just gives a real sense of what's going on.

My coworker's brother is one of seven doctors who have been left behind at Charity Hospital. His name is Vinroot, I'm sorry, I don't know the first name. He is in a panic--the doctors have barricaded themselves on the seventh floor because armed gunmen are outside threatening them and demanding access to the roof so they can be rescued first. He is desperate. Someone needs to help these people NOW!

There are still approximately over 300 Vietnamese people stranded in sewage water up to the necks in many areas gathered at the Mary Queen of VN Church. We've contacted USCG, Red Cross, news media but no help has come out to their way yet. As you all know, Versailles is so far on the eastern edge of New Orleans that by the time any helicopters come that way, they're
already filled with people and have to turn back towards the Superdome to drop people off.

The water is still rising in that area. Many of the people are growing weak and sick from lack of food and water plus the heat. Some of them feel like they probably won't make it for the next day. Please people!!! do what you can to get these people to safe land.


There are 7 people trapped in the Gallary Row apartments at 448 Julia Street (corner of Julia and Magazine). They were attacked by armed gang who hijacked their truck and drove it through a locked gate in the parking garage. They are unable to leave the building due to the heavy presence of large, well-organized armed looters. They expect the building to be attacked at any moment.

The trapped people are lightly armed (one shotgun and one pistol) but there are numerous entry points into the apartments. Currently the trapped people are holed up on the roof. Please send help ASAP.

And apparently they did have food and water.

Yesterday, I just lost it that there seemed to be no preparedness at all on the part of the federal government, stored food and water, and the transportation to get them to the site of a disaster or terror attack.

Well, I'm not sure if it's better or worse, but they did have stores of food and water, they just waited two extra days until Bush got back to Washington so he could announce their deployment.

People will die because of this!!

Oh, and my underlying point still holds. There is no preparation for a rapid response to a massive disaster/terror attack. Maybe I can accept the difficulties imposed by the water in New Orleans as limitations on getting people out, or supplies in, but that doesn't change the fact that there is no established routine for evacuees/refugees. What happens when the much threatened nuke goes off in one of our cities? Do we have to wait for another city, like Houston, to put together a package of relief to bring the burned and sick to the Astrodome? Isn't that the root purpose of our government?

And, okay, so the government did have millions of gallons of water and MRE's sitting in a warehouse, that's good, but I want to know whose decision, or lack of decision, left them sitting there for two days after the levees broke. I mean, Jesus, that decision caused unneccesary deaths.

Perhaps Chertoff our Homeland Security Director, the link between FEMA and Bush might have some explanation.

"The critical thing was to get people out of there before the disaster," he said on NBC's Today program. "Some people chose not to obey that order. That was a mistake on their part."

I wish I believed in God so I could be certain these people would suffer in hell.

Oh, and then there's this.

(links in the article are hers. first link, gets you to the entry. His main qualification seems to have been that he was a college buddy with the former Bush appointee, and of course a fundraiser.)

From War and Piece : Laura Rozen

My lord, the guy heading FEMA has no qualifications. What was he doing before getting pulled into FEMA by the Bush administration in 2003? He was an estate planning lawyer in Colorado and of counsel for the International Arabian Horse Association Legal Department. And yes, it is the same Michael D. Brown.

Education as described by the Arabian Horse Association:

Oklahoma City University School of Law, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1981
J.D., Doctor of Jurisprudence

Central State University, Edmond, Oklahoma, 1978
B.A., Bachelor of Arts
Honors: Outstanding Pol. Science Senior, Dean's & President Honor Rolls

And by the White House:

A native of Oklahoma, Mr. Brown holds a B.A. in Public Administration/Political Science from Central State University, Oklahoma. He received his J.D. from Oklahoma City University's School of Law.

AND Josh Marshall's version:

Much was made at the time and since about the fact that James Lee Witt was the first head of FEMA who had a professional background in emergency and disaster management.

No one seems to dispute the fact that prior to 1993, the agency was a dumping ground for patronage hires. (The change was also furthered by a devastating 1992 GAO report.)

President Bush replaced Witt with Joe Allbaugh, whose main qualification was that he was one of the president's main political fixers from Texas.

When Allbaugh left FEMA in 2003 to cash in on the Iraqi contracts bonanza, he was replaced by Michael Brown. Allbaugh originally brought Brown to FEMA as General Counsel. His qualification was that they were college buddies.

When Allbaugh bailed, he apparently gave the top job to Brown.

Why FEMA is diminished.

From the WaPo Tuesday.

SEATTLE -- In the days to come, as the nation and the people along the Gulf Coast work to cope with the disastrous aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we will be reminded anew, how important it is to have a federal agency capable of dealing with natural catastrophes of this sort. This is an immense human tragedy, one that will work hardship on millions of people. It is beyond the capabilities of state and local government to deal with. It requires a national response.

Which makes it all the more difficult to understand why, at this moment, the country's premier agency for dealing with such events -- FEMA -- is being, in effect, systematically downgraded and all but dismantled by the Department of Homeland Security.

Apparently homeland security now consists almost entirely of protection against terrorist acts. How else to explain why the Federal Emergency Management Agency will no longer be responsible for disaster preparedness? Given our country's long record of natural disasters, how much sense does this make?

What follows is an obituary for what was once considered the preeminent example of a federal agency doing good for the American public in times of trouble, such as the present


NYTimes lead editorial

NYTimes lead editorial this morning. And this is the "board editorial", consensus of the editorial board, and not just some columnist.

Waiting for a Leader

George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast. He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end.

We will, of course, endure, and the city of New Orleans must come back. But looking at the pictures on television yesterday of a place abandoned to the forces of flood, fire and looting, it was hard not to wonder exactly how that is going to come to pass. Right now, hundreds of thousands of American refugees need our national concern and care. Thousands of people still need to be rescued from imminent peril. Public health threats must be controlled in New Orleans and throughout southern Mississippi. Drivers must be given confidence that gasoline will be available, and profiteering must be brought under control at a moment when television has been showing long lines at some pumps and spot prices approaching $4 a gallon have been reported.

Sacrifices may be necessary to make sure that all these things happen in an orderly, efficient way. But this administration has never been one to counsel sacrifice. And nothing about the president's demeanor yesterday - which seemed casual to the point of carelessness - suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis.

While our attention must now be on the Gulf Coast's most immediate needs, the nation will soon ask why New Orleans's levees remained so inadequate. Publications from the local newspaper to National Geographic have fulminated about the bad state of flood protection in this beloved city, which is below sea level. Why were developers permitted to destroy wetlands and barrier islands that could have held back the hurricane's surge? Why was Congress, before it wandered off to vacation, engaged in slashing the budget for correcting some of the gaping holes in the area's flood protection?

It would be some comfort to think that, as Mr. Bush cheerily announced, America "will be a stronger place" for enduring this crisis. Complacency will no longer suffice, especially if experts are right in warning that global warming may increase the intensity of future hurricanes. But since this administration won't acknowledge that global warming exists, the chances of leadership seem minimal.

More stories from Nola

Again, from the Times Picayune feed.

At 91 years old, Booker Harris ended his days propped on a lawn chair, covered by a yellow quilt and abandoned, dead, in front of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

Mr. Harris died in the back of a Ryder panel truck Wednesday afternoon, as he and his 93-year-old wife, Allie, were evacuated from eastern New Orleans. The truck's driver deposited Allie and her husband's body on the Convention Center Boulevard neutral ground.

And there it remained.

With 3,000 or more evacuees stranded at the convention center -- and with no apparent contingency plan or authority to deal with them -- collecting a body was no one's priority. It was just another casualty in Hurricane Katrina's wake.

FREMONT, CALIF - An obviously distraught Joe Horn said he feels impassioned to do something that can make a difference in New Orleans.

Few Saints players are as tied to the community as the veteran wide receiver, who is in his sixth season with the team. He said when the players get three days off this weekend, he plans to head in to the city.

“I’m going to try to get in there. I’m going to try to do something,” Horn said. “I’m going to try to help, donate money and try to feed the families. I’m going to do whatever I can, because I feel like that’s a part of my family that’s starving.

“If I have to spend a million dollars in getting food, trying to help people get food, whatever I have to do to help people, help monetarily, help all I can, I’m going to do it.”

-- George Primo of Buras and three others survived Katrina by clinging to the top of a roof after his friends' house floated loose from its pilings.

Life preservers and a strong personal sense of preservation helped them
weather the night and strong winds. They floated to the roof as the water rose. When the eye of the storm came over and brought temporary calm, they broke into the attic for shelter. They were even joined for a while by a nutria.

A Coast Guard helicopter rescued them Monday at 5 p.m.

"This hurricane has changed everything", said Primo as he contemplated the high water and loss of lives and land. "We didn't have a chance. In 15 minutes the water rose 16 feet."

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

If this were a terror attack.....

If this were a terror attack, say that mushroom cloud we all fear, would the response be this slow? After all the money and four years of planning, is this the best response our government can offer? I mean, we're days into this thing, and there is just starting to be a trickle of medical teams being flown in. Apparently, there were no food or water stores preset somewhere waiting for deployment. There is no preset place for refugees to be placed, no ready means of mass evacuation.

Is this going to be the response to a massive terror attack?

Does the US government not have some sort of preset plan to deal with something on this scale?

If this had been a mass casualty event such as a nuclear strike, a hundred thousand people would be dying due to lack of food, water, transport, and medical care. They would be left to fend for themselves with crippling burns and injuries.

Isn't that, perhaps the main role of government?

I don't want this to be construed as an indictment of the Bush people, they've done enough wrong without piling this on. This is a failure of the system. Yes, the decisions are made at the top, but the planning and action is supplied from below. I'm quite certain that if there were stocks of food and water and a plan in place, the president and his people would be doing everthing they could to get them to where they could help.

Okay, I can accept that there may be problems in evacuation what with the flooding, but the US gov't hasn't set up a plan to place evacuees? A place for them to go after their city has been contaminated or destroyed in a terror attack?

This is horrifying to me.

Today, after watching the hours pass with no significant aid to the citizens of New Orleans, I learned that when the chips are down, I shouldn't expect any help from the US government.

That in the face of terror, I am on my own.

Fuck tax cuts. Fuck stem cells. Fuck gay marriage.

What legitimacy does a government hold when it can't even help its own people stay alive?

On the other hand.....

On the other hand, maybe I should lay into Bush. On Tuesday, as CNN was reporting the breaks in the levee Bush was playing a round of golf, which he took the time to finish. Then, he went to San Diego for a VJ day speech, very acceptable, followed by the moment pictured above.

Maybe clowning with a guitar wasn't so cool when the people in New Orleans were crawling on their rooftops to escape the rising water. Make your own call.

It's officially a war for oil.

After all the rationales for for the Iraq war have come and gone, WMD, threat to neighbors, Civil rigghts, women's rights, spreading democracy, and the latest, my favorite, because we've already lost so much we can't abandon the mission, the truth finally comes out.

Bush at the VJ-day thing in San Diego.

President Bush on Tuesday answered growing anti-war protests with a fresh reason for American troops to continue fighting in Iraq: protection of the country's vast oil fields that he said would otherwise fall under the control of terrorist extremists. ......

Bush said the Iraqi oil industry, already suffering from sabotage and lost revenues, must not fall under the control of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida forces in Iraq led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

"If Zarqawi and bin Laden gain control of Iraq, they would create a new training ground for future terrorist attacks," Bush said. "They'd seize oil fields to fund their ambitions. They could recruit more terrorists by claiming a historic victory over the United States and our coalition."

And in case you believe the SF Chronicle is mischarcterizingt, a not unreasonable supposition,

HERE is the Whitehouse.gov transcript of the speech.

Bolton at the UN

I know, I know, not so important today, but I had to get away from it for a little while. Check out what Bolton's pushing at the UN.

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 31 -- John R. Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has voiced firm opposition to U.N. reorganization measures that the Bush administration fears would inhibit U.S. authority to use force and place new legal obligations on countries to intervene where genocide, ethnic cleansing or war crimes were being committed. .......

Bolton also pressed for changes in the U.N. document that would ensure that U.S. or Israeli forces would not be exposed to terrorism charges if they killed or injured civilians during military operations. Bolton wrote that the "scope" of the terrorism provision should be limited to "terrorist actions," not "military activities that are appropriately governed by international humanitarian law." Arab governments have insisted for years that the Israeli army has engaged in "state terrorism" against Palestinian civilians.

So basically, the UN should be used to sanction other countries and justify the use of US force, and then also not be allowed to stand in the way of the unilateral use of US force. This "Bolton plan" would effectively destroy any peacemaking/international law enforcing role that the UN has. You talk about making the UN irrelevant. I guess we know which ten floors of the UN Bolton would go after; the ones which stop world war IV.

Oh, and by the way..... ISRAELI FORCES??????? Just whose ambassador to the UN is Bolton?

More New Orleans

Again from the Times-Picayune feed. (Full credit to those people for standing in and doing their job. Admittedly, none of their usual readers can get the info, but they are providing valuable info both to the rescue workers and the outside world.)

Jeff officials plead for 'necessities of life'

11:40 a.m.

The normally unflappable Jefferson Parish Emergency Management Director Walter Maestri broke into tears as he broadcast a call to help for anyone who could offer food or water to officials at the parish's emergency operations center in Marrero.

Maestri said anyone who can help with the necessities of life for workers at the center can call (504) 349-5360.

Maestri said the water situation is so dire that like many people in the parish and the area, they are trapped in the center.

A few more pictures from New Orleans

Just a few more pictures from New Orleans. These are from BBC. I'll be posting stuff as I come across it. It's just impossible to describe in words.

More tragedy in Iraq.

From the BBC, more tragedy in Iraq. And check the video version of the story on the same page.

More than 600 people have been killed in a stampede of Shia pilgrims in northern Baghdad, Iraqi officials say.

The incident happened on a bridge over the Tigris River as about one million Shias marched to a shrine for an annual religious festival.

Witnesses said panic spread because of rumours that suicide bombers were in the crowd. Many victims were crushed to death or fell in the river and drowned.

Earlier, mortar rounds had been fired into the crowd, killing 16 people.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Links on New Orleans

First, here's the Times-Picayune's link for their scrolling top stories. Probably the best source for immediate status in New Orleans.

Second, this just out from local TV.


Also, this from Forbes:

Europe may need to send oil stockpiles to US after Katrina damage - IEA's Mandil
08.30.2005, 03:10 AM

PARIS (AFX) - Europe will need to send some of its strategic emergency stockpiles of crude to the US if refinery damage caused by Hurricane Katrina proves severe, said International Energy Agency executive director Claude Mandil.

For now, however, the US, Europe and Japan have enough emergency stockpiles to wait a week to assess the damage before having to decide whether to release oil to damp prices, Mandil told the Financial Times.

The IEA, which co-ordinates the emergency inventories of the world's biggest oil consuming countries, also said in a statement issued yesterday that, although persistent high oil prices are a growing concern, the underlying supply and demand for oil are 'roughly in physical balance and should improve'.

Non-OPEC supply growth will accelerate in the second half of 2005 and will reach almost 2 mln barrels per day in the first half of 2006 - enough to cover projected world growth in oil demand.

But in order to promote robust markets for the future, the agency said companies and governments should ensure the investment climate and capital flows are sufficient to meet global demand for new oil production, storage, refining and transportation.

I take it back.

Right: Picture of the Levee break on Pontchartrain.

Below: Thirty miles along the coast up to a half mile to a mile in, looks like this.

After watching just 20 minutes of the MSNBC Olberman coverage of the Hurricane, I take back the last post. I was trying to draw out some of the sense of loss that the ordinary Iraqis must feel as so many civilians die. And although that parallel still holds to some degree in relation to casualties, the material damage just from the Gulfport/Biloxi area is beyond description, and the levees have broken in New Orleans and the water is rising.

MSNBC showed a film from a helicopter crew that flew seventeen miles down the coast to Biloxi from the west, and everything up to a half mile inland was destroyed.

I had no idea from the early reporting that the impact was so severe. I wish all the people affected my best. The damage from this thing is truly beyond my grasp.


Are they equal?

Not to diminish the suffering of the Gulf Coast centered around Biloxi, having been through major flooding and appreciating the utter helplessness of it, but these two headlines, listed side by side on the AP wire this morning, really give some sense of perspective to what's going on in Iraq.

(and I'm using CNN versions for this post because they are more current. )

Officials blamed Katrina for at least 68 deaths, a toll that is certain to rise. Officials estimated at least 55 people were killed in Mississippi, including 30 in an apartment complex near the beach in Biloxi. Alabama reported two deaths.

U.S.: Air Strikes Kill Seven Insurgents

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Air strikes have flattened insurgent safe houses used by militants linked to al Qaeda in western Iraq, the U.S. Marines told CNN Tuesday.

The air attacks near the Syrian border killed at least seven militants, the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force said.

A top operative called Abu Islam was among the dead, the force said.

Police in Baghdad reported that 56 civilians were killed in the strikes.

They said police contacts in the region told them 40 civilians died in one house and 16 in another. Two children survived, they added.

Again, not to diminish what's going down in relation to Katrina, but just to add a little perspective on Iraq. That country has been going through a hurricane for two and a half years, and it just won't blow over.

Rumsfeld defends "GWOT"

I find it very telling that Rumsfeld said this:

"The United States is not losing the global war against terrorism, nor are we losing the war in Afghanistan or Iraq," he said. Railing against violent extremists, he added, "They are what's wrong with the world." ......

Still, he reiterated the need to wage war on stages like Iraq, saying that such wars are the only means to secure America's freedom and peace, the only way to stave off the reach of Islamic extremism. He reminded listeners of the deaths on Sept. 11, 2001. .......

The trip, during which Rumsfeld plans to attend President Bush's speech commemorating V-J Day on Tuesday, comes as Pentagon officials expect violence in Iraq to get worse leading up to a scheduled constitutional referendum by Oct. 15 and then an election on Dec. 15. The next rotation of troops will allow for a temporary boost in U.S. force levels to roughly 160,000.

I find the defensive, negative phrasing, "The US is not losing the war" very telling in that it shows that he is aware of the pressure against the war. And that that pressure is so significant that the egomaniac is defensively acknowledging the political truth of the increasingly unpopular Bush administration policies.

Can you imagine the egotistical Rumsfeld of 2003 saying stuff like this?

So, keep up the pressure. And if you want some ammo, one of the more mainstream sources that challenges the rationales for this war is http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/. Weel worth a few minutes.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Brief foolmaking interviews from Crawford.

If you get a chance, take a look, it's about a 3 min video from Truthout.org, where they ask the uncomfortable question, "So you're nineteen and support the war, whay aren't you signing up for the military. Unsettling and kind of funny in an absurdist unfunny way.



But it is like Vietnam

We may argue as to whether Iraq is like Vietnam over there, but over here, it's looking more and more like it.

This is a horribly written article, but if you can get through the poor structure, you'll learn that through a FOIA, the ACLU has learned that the FBI has classified an antiwar group and affirmative action group neither with a history of violence as potentially "involved in terrorist activities". What this non-committal phrase means in practice is that members of these organizations are now subject to the terror laws, phone tapping, library checks, medical and financial records searches, and sneak and peek home searches. And, quite frankly, I don't think you have to be a member, simply to have been known to associate with terror suspects is usually sufficient.

"This document confirms our fears that federal and state counterterrorism officers have turned their attention to groups and individuals engaged in peaceful protest activities," said Ben Wizner, an ACLU staff attorney and counsel in a lawsuit seeking the release of additional FBI records. "When the FBI and local law enforcement identify affirmative action advocates as potential terrorists, every American has cause for concern."

The document released today is an FBI report labeled, "Domestic Terrorism Symposium," and describes a meeting that was intended to "keep the local, state and federal law enforcement agencies apprised of the activities of the various groups and individuals within the state of Michigan who are thought to be involved in terrorist activities."

Among the groups mentioned are Direct Action, an anti-war group, and BAMN (By Any Means Necessary), a national organization dedicated to defending affirmative action, integration, and other gains of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The FBI acknowledges in the report that the Michigan State Police has information that BAMN has been peaceful in the past.

***These FOIA requests were only in realtion to Michigan, so there's no telling if this is two samples or two of thousands.

Perception of corruption

A high-level contracting official who has been a vocal critic of the Pentagon's decision to give Halliburton Co. a multibillion-dollar, no-bid contract for work in Iraq, was removed from her job by the Army Corps of Engineers, effective Saturday.

Lt. Gen. Carl A. Strock, commander of the Army Corps, told Bunnatine H. Greenhouse last month that she was being removed from the senior executive service, the top rank of civilian government employees, because of poor performance reviews. .........

Kohn wrote to Rumsfeld. He said the review Strock cited to justify his action "was conducted by the very subjects" of Greenhouse's allegations, including the general. .......

"I can unequivocally state that the abuse related to contracts awarded to KBR represents the most blatant and improper abuse I have witnessed" in 20 years working on government contracts, Greenhouse said at the Democratic forum.

She said the independence of the Corps' contracting process was compromised in the handling of the contact. "I observed, first hand, that essentially every aspect of the [Restore Iraqi Oil] contract remained under the control of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. This troubled me and was wrong."

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Jesse and Chavez

Testimony that Lockerbie was faked.

I won't go into the deep detail, but one of the conditions of the re-integration of Libya back into the world market was that they accept blame for the Lockerbie bombing and offer up a couple of their citizens as meat in the trade. There have always been pretty valid challenges to the evidence, as some of it was conveniently destroyed by the British governement during the investigation, leaving these poor guys to hang for something they might not have done.

From The Scotsman.

A FORMER Scottish police chief has given lawyers a signed statement claiming that key evidence in the Lockerbie bombing trial was fabricated.

The retired officer - of assistant chief constable rank or higher - has testified that the CIA planted the tiny fragment of circuit board crucial in convicting a Libyan for the 1989 mass murder of 270 people. ........

The officer, who was a member of the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland, is supporting earlier claims by a former CIA agent that his bosses "wrote the script" to incriminate Libya. .......

The vital evidence that linked the bombing of Pan Am 103 to Megrahi was a tiny fragment of circuit board which investigators found in a wooded area many miles from Lockerbie months after the atrocity.

The fragment was later identified by the FBI's Thomas Thurman as being part of a sophisticated timer device used to detonate explosives, and manufactured by the Swiss firm Mebo, which supplied it only to Libya and the East German Stasi.

At one time, Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence agent, was such a regular visitor to Mebo that he had his own office in the firm's headquarters.

The fragment of circuit board therefore enabled Libya - and Megrahi - to be placed at the heart of the investigation. However, Thurman was later unmasked as a fraud who had given false evidence in American murder trials, and it emerged that he had little in the way of scientific qualifications.

Then, in 2003, a retired CIA officer gave a statement to Megrahi's lawyers in which he alleged evidence had been planted.

The decision of a former Scottish police chief to back this claim could add enormous weight to what has previously been dismissed as a wild conspiracy theory. It has long been rumoured the fragment was planted to implicate Libya for political reasons.

So, remember this when terror is attributed, like they tried to do in Spain to ETA, on very slight evidence.

to wit: What we need is "a new Pearl Harbor" to galvanize the nation into action.

Drone crashes in Iran

Boy, this didn't get much coverage considering we just gave the Iranians the a good look at how to disrupt control/communications with our drones. Whether its ours or Israeli, the electronics package is going to be very similar.

An unmanned single-engined plane has crashed in a mountainous area of western Iran and the wreckage has been recovered by the Iranian armed forces.

It was not clear if the plane was Iranian or foreign, although the influential Kayhan newspaper pointed out that "usually these sort of planes are used for spying on other countries".

The reports quoted Ali Asgar Ahmadi, deputy head of security in the interior ministry, as saying the plane went down on Thursday in the Alashtar mountains near the city of Khorramabad, the capital of Lorestan province, 350 kilometres (220 miles) southwest of Tehran.

The hardline Kayhan newspaper said that as soon as the plane crashed, police sealed off the area -- just 150 kilometres from the border with Iraq -- and "a group of experts from Kermanshahr airbase went to examine the fuselage".

Latin American Al Quaeda

I've often wondered aloud at the continuing sanctions and hatred of Cuba as national policy. Quite frankly, Castro hasn't really done anything negative towards the US since the Cuban Missile Crisis, unless you believe the Cuban/Mafia theory of the JFK assassination. Yet here we are, forty years later, still punishing the average Cuban.

--- Aside, I think we can all agree that after seeing inside the lifestyle of Saddam Hussein the past twelve years that sanctions only serve to punish the less fortunate of a society in direct proportion to their level of poverty. Cutting off the importation of medicine doesn't harm a regime, but it does lead to the deaths of alot of children.

Then today, I came across this historical summarization in an article about the horrible plight of women in today's Guatemala, (I would recommend this article highly.)

By the early 1950s, vast swathes of Guatemala lay in the hands of America's United Fruit Company. In 1954, when the country's left-leaning government started expropriating some of this land to distribute to the poor, the CIA, whose director had financial ties to the company, orchestrated a military coup. Land reform stopped, left-wing guerrilla groups began to form and the US-sponsored anti-insurgency campaign began. The 30-year cycle of repression that followed, reaching its bloodiest peak in the 1980s, was the most violent, though least reported, in Latin America. Large areas of the countryside were razed, their population, mostly Mayan Indian, massacred. Villagers were herded into churches and burnt, whole families sealed alive in wells. Political opponents were assassinated, women were raped before being mutilated and killed. The wombs of pregnant women were cut open and foetuses strung from trees. By the time the UN brokered a peace deal in 1996, over 200,000 had been killed, 40,000 "disappeared" and 1.3m had fled their homes, to leave the country or become internal refugees. This in a country with a population of little over 10m.

The parallel of this brief description of the source of the Guatemala intervention to the current Chavez hate that I also don't understand, after all, his big crime was to claim more oil revenue for health and education programs for his people, jumped out at me.

I don't think I'm being very clear.

The point I'm trying to make is this: After fifty years of intervention in Central/South America, are we due a little blowback?

Are Cuba/Venezuela, the "anti-drug" intervention in Columbia efforts to stop that blowback from becoming a reality? To deny an organizing base? Is that the fear that is driving this policy? If we could have intervened in say, Iranian, Saudi or Afghani politics years ago, could we have prevented the rise of "Violent Extremism?"

Oh, yeah, we did, and that was one of the sources of the problem.

So, the question is this: Why has there been no violent terror coming from Central/South America? Our interventions have been far deeper, and generally far more bloody, and we have supported the same types of stooge governments that we attempted to set up throughout the middle east.

I don't think it's the lack of a religious base for organization, after all, people have been organizing and dying for their political/economic beliefs for centuries. I think there may actually be something to that civilizations argument as Latin Americans under seige see themselves less as a single brotherhood than Muslims, and then there's the presence of Israel forced onto Arab territory acting as a unifying influence.

even with all that, why is there no Latin American Al Queda?

Just rambling on a Sunday afternoon.


It's not amazing to me that there would be one guy doing this, after all, we've all seen the sandwich board, "the end is nigh" guys, but what does it say that this is an organized group.

Members of a church say God is punishing American soldiers for defending a country that harbors gays, and they brought their anti-gay message to the funerals Saturday of two Tennessee soldiers killed in Iraq.

The church members were met with scorn from local residents. They chased the church members cars' down a highway, waving flags and screaming "God bless America." .........

The Rev. Fred Phelps, founder of Westboro Baptist in Kansas, contends that American soldiers are being killed in Iraq as vengeance from God for protecting a country that harbors gays. The church, which is not affiliated with a larger denomination, is made up mostly of Phelps' children, grandchildren and in-laws.

The church members carried signs and shouted things such as "God hates fags" and "God hates you."

Oh, and as an aside, there was some comedian, can't remember who, who did a bit on the sandwich board guys. He asks god, "how could you let the world end, and all the people die?" God responds, " I put out a warning, I put a guy in Times square who yelled and yelled about it. What more do you want?"