September 10, 2005

A golden opportunity passing you by

That's what you'll see if you don't bid in the next two hours.

Yah, oh by the way...

Tom, did you make your way down to Mississippi for Cheney's visit? I could swear I hear you in the background expressing your thanks for all the work the Administration did on the Florida hurricane crisis...

September 09, 2005

A horse is a horse of course of course


And no one can talk to a horse of course.

You have got to be kidding me.

I hadn't seent this yet...

But thank goodness we've got this in video. Laughed myself stupid.

Haven't found the version he sang on Larry King Last Night

So I'm listening to this one.

And reading this.

Brown Out

But only out of Louisana. Lisa reports that Brown is out and headed back to D.C. either for a desk job or an involuntary separation. His resume is in question now.

Lots of times, in companies I've worked in, having relatively less important job responsibilities than a FEMA head, my resume got checked ahead of time.

Brown did do a good job at his humble position, however, according to his boss. "Yes. Mike Brown worked for me. He was my administrative assistant. He was a student at Central State University," recalls former city manager Bill Dashner. "Mike used to handle a lot of details. Every now and again I'd ask him to write me a speech. He was very loyal. He was always on time. He always had on a suit and a starched white shirt."


I only wish Michael Brown's head on a platter would fix the problem. But it's ground zero in the process that I don't think will ever be complete, because the U.S. structure of power and class depend upon it not being fixed. Especially not with another $50 billion on the way to insulate and protect all types of inefficiency.

But we can hope.

What Good Things Come

I met Grayson yesterday at the PRSA/Atlanta Press Club panel I did. Probably wouldn't have run into her blog any other way, and so I'm stoked I did. Great writing and thinking all around and a friend in the making. I get it--that's why you do these conference things. Example: Soggy Vampires:

And if you have the grave misfortune of being poor in America, better use your last few bucks to move inland quick. Or at least until this "phase" of globally-warmed, apocalypse-related, oil crisis kickoff, Atlantic hurricane cycle of a perfect cluster fuck passes over. Or buy a bike. Or hell, just shoot heroin on a beach with smoke blowin' up your ass! We're all gonna live forever anyway, right? Why bother to do a goddamn thing? W's in charge and looking out for each and every one of us. Sleep well.

Charmaine Neville's Account

A first-hand account from Sept 2nd. Wshew. I remember hearing originally about her taking the bus out of there from Arthel Neville who was interviewed on FOX from the Superdome.

$50 Billion More to FEMA

Oh. Dear.

We're so toast.

He sought it, he got it today.

September 08, 2005

Global PR Blog Week - Put It On Your Calendars!


<--click me!

It's Panel Time

I participated today on a panel at the Atlanta PRSA and Atlanta Press Club's joint meeting. The panel was called All the News That's Fit to Blog: How Technology Is Changing the Face of the Media.

The lone woman on the panel (good thing all of my BlogHer preparation groomed me for what it's like to be representin' even if I didn't make it to San Jose!) I participated with some smart guys -- fellow blogger Kevin Howarth, Managing Editor of Techlinks; Scot Safon, Senior VP of Marketing for CNN; Dan Greenfield, VP of Corporate Communications for Earthink; and Larry Street, Partner & Internet Lawyer for Morris, Manning and Martin, LLP. What's Up Interactive's Richard Warner moderated the panel at Maggiano's in Buckhead.

I enjoyed the experience--one that I generally try to avoid whenever humanly possible because it takes me so far out of my comfort zone that I'm not sure I can find my way back. The audience's questions were awesome--that was the part I enjoyed the most. People who had the enthusiasm and guts to ask whatever blogging-type questions they had on their mind. And I think I even said a few coherent things.

Kevin and I being the only bloghards on the panel had an immediate connection and I got all jazzed when he would answer a question, and then I'd want to jump in and add to it, but panels have an interesting dynamic and order to them. It's probably a good thing we weren't sharing a mic and that Scot was seated between us. There really is an art to participating on a panel and being able to think fast, respond quickly and get the right thoughts from brain to mouth to mic in the allotted time.

Scot Safon is a master at relating meaningful annecdotes that cut to the heart of the question, and Larry Street had some great lawyerly advice and gave a shout out to free speech. Dan Greenfield mentioned that Earthlink is now lookng for a full-time blogger. A REAL GIG, FOLKS. Dave Taylor has more thoughts on the job, plus a job description readout, here.

Anyway, I'm beat from a long day, so more later.

P.S. Ha-ha, Kevin--I posted first. ;-)

Californians, Start Your Engines

Susan Kitchens is getting ready, because she's pretty sure she'll be on her own if the big one hits given the lessons of New Orleans. She's updating her 1989 earthquake disaster kit. Susan, put a trailways bus in there if you can find one.

September 07, 2005

Do you think it's coincidence?

The Media is being slowly but surely forced out and away from New Orleans, quite literally at gunpoint. Brian Williams reporting.

At that same fire scene, a police officer from out of town raised the muzzle of her weapon and aimed it at members of the media... obvious members of the media... armed only with notepads. Her actions (apparently because she thought reporters were encroaching on the scene) were over the top and she was told. There are automatic weapons and shotguns everywhere you look. It's a stance that perhaps would have been appropriate during the open lawlessness that has long since ended on most of these streets. Someone else points out on television as I post this: the fact that the National Guard now bars entry (by journalists) to the very places where people last week were barred from LEAVING (The Convention Center and Superdome) is a kind of perverse and perfectly backward postscript to this awful chapter in American history.

Craig at Booknotes

Craig's got some must-read stories, photos and links about the mishandling of Katrina over at booknotes. Craig's headlines are always smart -- and he's able to find all this information I'm so glad to get my hands on.

Well, glad might not be the best word...

"The initial call to action very specifically says we're looking for two-person fire teams to do community relations," she said. "So if there is a breakdown [in communication], it was likely in their own departments."

Oh, I almost forgot about them

From The Humanity Critic:

You know folks, I kind of feel sorry for Black republicans because you are running out of excuses to why you are one. You can't claim the whole "less government" argument because that flew out the window with this administration. Being against Affirmative Action is cute and everything, but being that Condi Rice and Clarence Thomas, two people against it, are beneficiaries of it kind of weaken your argument.(Colin Powell even said that he benefited from it, and is for it.) You didn't want to be a "tax and spend" liberal, OK, because now your dumb ass is a "tax and spend" conservative because of the actions of this administration.

I always think that black conservatives were abused, the same way you find out that a hooker was abused as a child, explaining a lot about the woman that she became, because there has to be some explanation to why you love someone that doesn't give a fuck about you. Did other black kids call you "Ugly" as a child? Seriously, you can tell me..

Future Quote: "Oh, those records were destroyed in the Katrina Flood"

People back in their homes are now being driven out of NO. Threatened. Frightened with absurd rumours of crazed predatory rapists. The clean up operation, cleaning up humanity, driving the remainder out of their uninsured homes, off their uninsured property. So they can burn down the city, destroy all the people's assets, extort taxes to build it up gorgeously, and sell it wholesale to themselves.

That shocking 'liberal' supreme court decision about imminent domain exercised for commmerical development was not for nothing.


The Ethnic Cleansing of New Orleans. Read it.

If We Show them 20,000 Dead People, They Might Get Mad

George has long been musing why they haven't shown a single body on all the TV coverage of the the death of the victims of Katrina. The same way it was distressing to see our dead soldiers and their dead enemies on TV during the Vietnam War, I think the Administration is more than a bit concerned that glimpses of bloated dead bodies of the elderly in their nursing home beds, or dead children in the superdome -- those who would be alive had the response been speedier -- might upset our delicate American constitution. Just like those coffins coming back from Iraq. Gets the natives all stirred up.

There will be mass graves for the unidentified. Get out of New Orleans, because we don't want you to see where we put them. Not all of those victims are hurricane victims. Half of them are potentially victims of broken processes, of failed leadership, of bureacracy and delay. Seeing several thousand bodies -- black and white, 90 year-old grandmas and 5-year-old rape victims -- whose delayed rescue ("No one's coming to get us."-- A. Broussard) caused their death might indeed outrage even conservative Americans.

And too many of you, my liberal friends, are buying the line you are being served: "It's NOT TIME TO LAY BLAME Yet. Now is the TIME TO HELP." Excuse me? How is uncovering the criminals and the crime not helping? Would you like the madness to continue just a little longer--long enough for you to get some of your old clothes to the shelter so you can wipe the guilt off of your white brow? It is PRECISELY the time to blame. PRECISELY the time to lay down accountability. PRECISELY the time to rise up in voice and in numbers and say Absolutely Not. Not Acceptable is what we say when we learn professional firefighters who wanted to help were sitting through a FEMA sexual harrasment class while the people they hoped to save were starving to death.

Don't buy their line. Don't buy the unity slogan from the White House PR department. Do not for one minute buy that line of bull. You blame them and you do it now and later. You have enough energy to go around. What, are you conserving? No, I don't think so. You pull THOSE people out of hiding at the federal and local level who did not AND ARE NOT CURRENTLY doing their jobs, you shine the light on them, and you set out to create a public record of undisputable evidence that mounts and mounts until it is so overwhelming that it can't be denied.

Or instead you can allow the Administration to continue business as usual, as with its order of "NO DEAD BODIES WILL BE SHOWN," and you can continue to not ask why.

Because you don't want to see them. And you don't want their relatives to see them. Because we wish it never happened. And if we don't see the bodies, then maybe it didn't, maybe it wasn't all that bad. Maybe everyone did the best they could. Maybe we should get on with it. Dr. Phil even says that you have to move on.

Right.

Okay.

Tell the officers who committed suicide that trauma works that way.

And we don't need to see their bodies either. Because it's tough being traumatized. And we have to get up and go to work tomorrow. And the creditors haven't stopped calling.

And maybe next time the calvery stays home, they'll serve us up cartoon bodies, and we'll willingly accept them, because it's always cool when Wily Coyote springs back to life again after the roadrunner lays his house to ruin.

Because make believe is always so much better.

Advice from the Floridians Who Came Before You...

Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, take heed of the words of the Floridians who came before you. Tom's latest FEMA outing is essential reading:

When we finally reached an allegedly living FEMA representative, the first thing we learned was that we'd need to write down our case numbers in order to proceed with any claim or loan. We were also told that the interview would result, invariably, in a letter from FEMA denying our claims. We were told to ignore that, as it was simply part of the routine.

So we sat there at tables in the recreation center, making our calls. When it became evident that we would need to write down case numbers, I asked for a pencil. I hadn't come with one, nor had most other people.

FEMA had not brought pencils.

Not such a hopeful sign: An agency whose prime directive is to address immediate need in the face of a catastrophic event, a crew of freshly scrubbed professional emergency workers in crisp blue shirts, failing to bring the only things everyone undergoing their process would be sure to need: a pencil and a piece of paper.

And Tom is right. Brown's head on a platter would be a symbolic yet unfulfilling offering--and not so helpful the next time one of us who has lost everything expects help from the giant tangled-tentacled monster known as FEMA.

It's a similar level of frustration I heard on a smaller scale from a friend volunteering last week at the Red Cross shelter. She witnessed a sort of amnesiatic state among those "in charge," who had apparently forgotten everything that has been invented in the way of art and science that might help streamline processes and get things done.

Should a business process expert ride along with every disaster-related team to make sure processes are optimized--or at least workable? Should technologists and business people partner up with the FEDs and non-profits to make sure that the smartest thinking and best technology is available and impemented? OR are all these things already available and just sitting back at headquarters working on the slow and inefficient business of government?

It shouldn't be all that hard to make a difference in the life of someone who has lost everyting. As Tom points out, something as simple as a pencil can make a world of difference.
The only other time I saw hurricane behavior in Florida achieve FEMATIC levels was among Florida drivers waiting in line on long gas lines. Lines of cars backed up at the few stations that had some gas, and invariably there would be within view a station across the road that seemed to not have long lines, but a steady stream of cars nonetheless.

It seemed improbable that so many cars would be going to an empty station, but in fact that is what was happening. Lines would form, each car would drive up in turn to the pump, try all the levers, discover there was no gas, and move on, leaving the next driver to make the same discovery.

The striking thing here was the remarkable breakdown in communication. It would have taken one sign on the pump, or better, on the station's marquis, to save hundreds of gas-starved people the experience of learning an identical thing, over and over. Any single driver could have hollered or made signs to the folks behind indicating the pump was empty. Somehow it was like the very option of giving voice to another was unavailable. Language had not yet been discovered. There was no other.

Or maybe no one had a pencil.

The Worst Writing Gig in the Nation

I don't know--this may have been "out there" for a while now, but my friend Phyllis just sent me the link and I nearly wet myself. So you know you gotta watch.

September 06, 2005

Irritable Male Syndrome?

No, I'm not talking about New Orleans officials--I'm talking about the new buzzword (and soon-to-be paperback on Irritable Male Syndrome (IMS). Otherwise spelled O.M.G.

I missed this when it came out in August. Where was I? You mean, there's help for RageBoy?

Apparently yes. The disease/syndrome/manifestation/manifesto typically strikes men (get the pun? strikes?) bewteen the ages of 15-28 and again between 40-55, when testosterone levels are fluctuating the most.

To find out if you have the risk factors that might make you an angry motherfucker, take the IMS test. (I wanted to write testy, but you know, it was too easy).

And if you take the test and believe you have IMS, which might lead you to buying Jed Diamond's book, realize that you have also just passed the stupid test with flying colors.

Go David Perez

I just heard a phone interview on The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch (have no idea who he is) on CNBC with David Perez, a businessman who has used $250K of his own money (he raised an additional $250K) to fly his private jet full of supplies into regions affected by Katrina. He's on a mission to Mississippi now because he says that Gulfport is officially out of food today. He was screaming and choked to tears on the phone talking about the lack of support for those left behind, and for the workers currently there to keep order, find surivivors, and begin recovering the dead.

He damned America's wealthy businessmen -- Bill Gates got called out by name as well as the fuel providers who are giving no breaks on gas for those traveling in and out. Mississippi has apparently given Perez the rights to land on the airfield any time, and he's back on his way with food and water.

I googled him. And I say, Go Mr. Perez.

What is "just privileged enough"?

From Barbara Bush to Joi Ito (and that's quite a range!) people are using the term "underprivileged" to describe the evacuees, dead, and dying from Katrina. I haven't heard that term used in a sentence since I was probably 14, and a relative was describing the plight of children living in entire countries that were very, very poor as I asked, "Who are those children on TV?" Bloated bellies. Flies in the corners of their eyes. Puss filled wounds. Eating mash from a wooden bowl. These are images that come to mind. Oh, and of course the skin of these underprivileged children was very, very dark.

To Barbara Bush, underprivileged individuals are those who live in public housing. Period. She said that today. These are the folks she thinks are taking a step up by sleeping on cots in a gym. Look mom, no roaches.

And while it's true that the superdome and convention center and I-10 overpass were full to capacity with people who did not have the means to flee, it's also true--and what America isn't prepared for is--there are going to be a lot of white people dead too, because some of them couldn't or didn't flee either. From Mississippi and New Orleans. Maybe those white bodies will wake up the folks who are still sleeping.

WHOLE NURSING HOMES FULL OF ELDERLY DROWNED IN THEIR BEDS a week after the hurricane, while FEMA was busy turning trucks of water sent by Walmart away. Well, those elderly people are underwater, but I'm not sure if they would rank as underprivileged--would they? Do we need to determine if these were private nursing homes or medicaid-subsidized? I suppose they would have been better off at the Astrodome, but unfortunately they didn't make trek to the superdome to wait a week for a bus ride. Where do they rank on the privilege scale?

THE REAL AMERICANS WHO STAYED BEHIND TO TAKE CARE OF THEIR SICK OR ELDERLY NEIGHBORS WHO WOULDN'T LEAVE. Is that underprivileged? Is that heroic? I get confused. I wish I could have a cup of coffee and and Barbara could tell me. There's probably a cap on privilege that I'm not aware of. Or a checklist her maid keeps for her.

THE PET OBSESSED who know they cannot take their pets with them to shelters during evacuations and always remain behind. These people have pets that are privileged, but sometimes their pets live better lives than their human owners do, so I'm not sure--does that make their owners relatively-speaking underprivileged? But if you can buy a bag of Purina, maybe that makes you over-privileged? Man, this is hard.

THE ESTIMATED THOUSANDS who tried to go within the RAPIDLY CLOSING window but ran short on gas and turned around--stations had no gas within hours of the evacuation notice as cars sat piled on the highways. In this case--when you are in need of gas--I guess having a debit card makes you sort-of privileged? But having a Platinum Mastercard makes you just-right privileged? And maybe paying huge legal fees to get your son off on a DUI charge makes you over-privileged?

I wonder what Barbara would think about that.

Bell South, If you're listening

Bell South, can you get some extra lines over to the Boot Ward Recreation center at Lost Mountain Park in Cobb County? Or Cingular, maybe some cell phones? How about some short-range walkie-talkies for the Red Cross workers? What up?

A volunteer at the gymnasium (where I'll be working next week some) where the red cross is stationed with evacuees says there are only 2 lines at the facility, and one is nearly always in use outgoing by the Red Cross. They're using the phone lines for the recreation center to operate a shelter for 200 evacuees. They really need a hub or voicemail that gives information on what kind of donations are needed, WHAT KIND AREN'T, and who/where/what/how to communicate information that's really important.

I'd really like to take my computer next week and help folks that are calling in who have housing (and folks there who need it) directly, real-time, using the huricanehousing.org site. But there isn't wireless available as near as I can tell, and I wouldn't be able to dial up with just 2 phone lines.

We can do better. More on how after I get my foot in the door. These are just some initial needs voiced by folks helping out there.

If I were a less resonable person, I would begin to shout CONSPIRACY!

Fixing the Levee - Photo Opp for Make Believe Progress.

You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool us for long.

Impeaching a President for lying under oath about having sex kind of pales in comparison to orchestrated class-o-cide, genocide, or mass murder (pick your euphemism), eh?

Mark Kleiman reporting:

I didn't join in criticizing Mary Landrieu for not bashing GWB for his failures concerning Katrina. It was legitimate for her to put her efforts into securing help for New Orleans, and unfortunatly it's the President -- a President with a clear record of punishing those who criticize him -- who has help to give.

But apparently her patience has now been exhausted: and no wonder. She reports that the big levee-fixing operation she watched with GWB yesterday turns out to have been merely a show for the cameras. (See boldface below.)

Here is the full text of a press release issued by her office:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE09/03/2005
Landrieu Implores President to "Relieve Unmitigated Suffering;" End FEMA's "Abject Failures"


WASHINGTON -- 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.

"Mr. President, I'm imploring you once again to get a cabinet-level official stood up as soon as possible to get this entire operation moving forward regionwide with all the resources -- military and otherwise -- necessary to relieve the unmitigated suffering and economic damage that is unfolding."

Today's aerial tour of the 17th Street levee will be featured tomorrow on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Later, Sen. Landrieu will also appear on CBS's 60 Minutes.

Another Anchor Breaks Down

Thank God they're there. Coop is infuriated by politicians backpatting one another while rats are eating the backs off of the corpses in front of him in Mississippi.

More Fun with Captions

From the Woman Who Raised the Imbecile

"What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this (she chuckles slightly) -- this is working very well for them."

--Barbara Bush, W.'s mom and former first lady, during a radio interview with the
American Public Media program "Marketplace"


Yeah! You know! Yes! Awesome! Super!

[[audio]]

FEMA Murder

Keep Hearing Broussard.

Deserving of a Full Re-Print

Absolutely, absolutely--a context that too many people don't get.

From The New York Daily News: The Ugly Truth by Errol Louis

-------------

The ugly truth
Why we couldn’t save the people of New Orleans


Bubbling up from the flood that destroyed New Orleans are images, beamed around the world, of America's original and continuing sin: the shabby, contemptuous treatment this country metes out, decade after decade, to poor people in general and the descendants of African slaves in particular.

The world sees New Orleans burning and dying today, but the televised anarchy - the shooting and looting, needless deaths, helpless rage and maddening governmental incompetence - was centuries in the making.

To the casual viewer, the situation is an incomprehensible mess that raises questions about the intelligence, sanity and moral worth of those trapped in the city. Why didn't those people evacuate before the hurricane? Why don't they just walk out of town now? And why should anyone care about people who are stealing and fighting the police?

That hard, unsympathetic view is the traditional American response to the poverty, ignorance and rage that afflict many of us whose great-great-grandparents once made up the captive African slave labor pool. In far too many cities, including New Orleans, the marching orders on the front lines of American race relations are to control and contain the very poor in ghettos as cheaply as possible; ignore them completely if possible; and call in the troops if the brutes get out of line.

By almost every statistical measure, New Orleans is a bad place to be poor. Half the city's households make less than $28,000 a year, and 28% of the population lives in poverty.
In the late 1990s, the state's school systems ranked dead last in the nation in the number of computers per student (1 per 88), and Louisiana has the nation's second-highest percentage of adults who never finished high school. By the state's own measure, 47% of the public schools in New Orleans rank as "academically unacceptable."

And Louisiana is the only one of the 50 states where the state legislature doesn't allocate money to pay for the legal defense of indigent defendants. The Associated Press reported this year that it's not unusual for poor people charged with crimes to stay in jail for nine months before getting a lawyer appointed.

These government failures are not merely a matter of incompetence. Louisiana and New Orleans have a long, well-known reputation for corruption: as former congressman Billy Tauzin once put it, "half of Louisiana is under water and the other half is under indictment."
That's putting it mildly. Adjusted for population size, the state ranks third in the number of elected officials convicted of crimes (Mississippi is No. 1). Recent scandals include the conviction of 14 state judges and an FBI raid on the business and personal files of a Louisiana congressman.
In 1991, a notoriously corrupt Democrat named Edwin Edwards ran for governor against Republican David Duke, a former head of the Ku Klux Klan. Edwards, whose winning campaign included bumper stickers saying "Elect the Crook," is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for taking bribes from casino owners. Duke recently completed his own prison term for tax fraud.

The rot included the New Orleans Police Department, which in the 1990s had the dubious distinction of being the nation's most corrupt police force and the least effective: the city had the highest murder rate in America. More than 50 officers were eventually convicted of crimes including murder, rape and robbery; two are currently on Death Row.

The decision to subject an entire population to poverty, ignorance, injustice and government corruption as a way of life has its ugly moments, as the world is now seeing. New Orleans officials issued an almost cynical evacuation order in a city where they know full well that thousands have no car, no money for airfare or an interstate bus, no credit cards for hotels, and therefore no way to leave town before the deadly storm and flood arrived.

The authorities provided no transportation out of the danger zone, apparently figuring the neglected thousands would somehow weather the storm in their uninsured, low-lying shacks and public housing projects. The poor were expected to remain invisible at the bottom of the pecking order and somehow weather the storm.

But the flood confounded the plan, and the world began to see a tide of human misery rising from the water - ragged, sick, desperate and disorderly. Some foraged for food, some took advantage of the chaos to commit crimes. All in all, they acted exactly the way you could predict people would act who have been locked up in a ghetto for generations.

The world also saw the breezy indifference with which government officials treated these tens of thousands of sick and dying citizens, even as the scope of the disaster became clear. President Bush initially shunned the Gulf Coast and headed to political fund-raisers in the West.

That left matters in the bumbling hands of the director of emergency management, Michael Brown, who ranks No. 1 on the list of officials who ought to be fired when the crisis has passed. Even as local officials were publicly reporting assaults, fires and bedlam at local hospitals, Brown took to the airwaves to declare that "things are going well" as mayhem engulfed the city. When asked about the rising death toll, Brown attributed it to "people who did not heed the advance warnings." Brown's smug ignorance of the conditions of the place he was tasked to save became the final door slammed on the trap that tens of thousands of the city's poorest found themselves.
The challenge for America is to remember the faces of the evacuees who will surely be ushered back into a black hole of public indifference as soon as the White House and local officials can manage it. While pledging ourselves to remember their mistreatment and fight for their cause, we should also be sure to cast a searching, skeptical eye on the money that Bush has pledged for rebuilding.

Ten billion dollars are about to pass into the sticky hands of politicians in the No. 1 and No. 3 most corrupt states in America. Worried about looting? You ain't seen nothing yet.

Expendable and Expense

Parishes Against Coastal Erosion (PACE) Response to the Bush Administration's June 14, 2005 Policy Statement on the Proposed Energy Act of 2005 By Parishes Against Coastal Erosion

Louisiana's congressional delegation has urged Congress for more than a decade to return to the state a fair share of the revenue from the production of offshore oil and gas both because of the impact of offshore production on Louisiana and because interior states get 50% of revenues from oil and gas production on federal lands. The president has supported the concept, but has backed off when it comes to funding the restoration effort.

PACE believes Louisiana can no longer afford to wait. Louisiana urgently needs guaranteed resources to thwart a catastrophe that is not being given the sense of urgency that it demands. Our Louisiana legislature this month passed a constitutional amendment requiring any new offshore oil and gas revenue to be put in a trust fund dedicated to coastal erosion. Louisiana has made a commitment.

Now, it's time for the President to step up to the plate and support funding to prevent the untold damage to the ecology, economy and potential loss of life in large numbers. With the National Hurricane Center predicting another active hurricane season, PACE President Aaron Broussard said he fears that it is going to take a major storm and significant loss of life before the nation acts responsibly. Please contact Jefferson Parish President and PACE President, Aaron Broussard
(THANKS Tim F.)

September 05, 2005

Never Forget

Aaaron Broussard, Jefferson Parish President.

"Nobody's coming to get us..."

Maybe They Have Learned Something from Blogging

I said last week--and I still say--thank GOD for the television broadcast news during the New Orleans disaster specifically. If not for the live camera feeds, it wouldn't have taken long for what happened to people in the shelters declared safe for them -- where they remained for nearly a week without food, water, in their own waste, with dead bodies, and not allowed to leave -- to turn it into some kind of affirmative action excuse. "OH it wasn't that bad. At least they lived. There were plenty of white people who found ways to get out."

That the rescue of the people in and around the superdome, convention center, and overpasses happened at all was because CAMERAS WERE WATCHING and anchors began reporting what they really thought (that the situation was INSANE) because they had no government-sanctioned information handed to them to spew (the kind of thing FOX News usually relies on).

The complete breakdown of communication and chains of command, combined with the daily trauma the anchors were exposed to, turned CNN and FOX reporters into talking bloggers--with opinions and all. They became involved, got biased, got sick, picked fights, and in the end, gave proof through the night that no help was still there.

And maybe the BBC is right, that American journalism may have just gotten the reality check it needed.

Look out bloggers: The report of the death of mainstream news might have been a wee bit premature.

When Your FOX News Correspondents Says It's Hosed, It's Hosed

Lest we forget how many days and what kind of hell. And in case one more person says (and I've heard this from people at the pool--more than one): "Why didn't they just walk out of New Orleans instead of being in that convention center so many days? I would have walked out."

You and Jeraldo.

Write Your Own Caption

Our Part

I don't like insinuations that bloggers shouldn't be blaming the government and its lame human representatives because tens of thousands (FACE IT, IT'S MORE THAN THOUSANDS FOLKS) Americans are now dead. Most of the dead did not die from flooding. They did not die from wind. They are dead because of the complete failure of the systems we are taxed nearly to death to support.

On the contrary, then, I think we should be shining the light in every corner shewing out the inept and corrupt and just plain stupid, and if shewing out doesn't work, we treat them as "looters" and shoot them on sight.

But Shelley makes an interesting point on how quickly -- all at once in fact -- the status quo can catch up with us all:

I keep coming back to the knowledge that 1 in 5 people in New Orleans were so poor they didn’t have the means to evacuate. How could we let that happen? Not Bush, not Mayor Nagin, not FEMA or Governor Blanco. How could we have let this happen?

How? Easy: we let it happen. [[go read more]]

"Beauracracy Has Committed Murder."

Aaaron Broussard:

MR. RUSSERT: Jefferson Parish President Broussard, let me start with you. You just heard the director of Homeland Security's explanation of what has happened this last week. What is your reaction?

MR. AARON BROUSSARD: We have been abandoned by our own country. Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst storms ever to hit an American coast, but the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history. I am personally asking our bipartisan congressional delegation here in Louisiana to immediately begin congressional hearings to find out just what happened here. Why did it happen? Who needs to be fired? And believe me, they need to be fired right away, because we still have weeks to go in this tragedy. We have months to go. We have years to go. And whoever is at the top of this totem pole, that totem pole needs to be chain-sawed off and we've got to start with some new leadership. It's not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here.

Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area, and
bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now. It's so obvious. FEMA needs more congressional funding. It needs more presidential support. It needs to be a Cabinet-level director. It needs to be an independent agency that will be able to fulfill its mission to work in partnership with state and local governments around America. FEMA needs to be empowered to do the things it was created to do. It needs to come somewhere, like New Orleans, with all of its force immediately, without red tape, without bureaucracy, act immediately with common sense and leadership, and save lives. Forget about the property. We can rebuild the property. It's got to be able to come in and save lives. We need strong leadership at the top of America right now in order to accomplish this and to-- reconstructing FEMA.

MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Broussard, let me ask--I want to ask--should...

MR. BROUSSARD: You know, just some quick examples...

MR. RUSSERT: Hold on. Hold on, sir. Shouldn't the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of New Orleans bear some responsibility? Couldn't they have been much more forceful, much more effective and much more organized in evacuating the area?

MR. BROUSSARD: Sir, they were told like me, every single day, "The cavalry's coming," on a federal level, "The cavalry's coming, the cavalry's coming, the cavalry's coming." I have just begun to hear the hoofs of the cavalry. The cavalry's still not here yet, but I've begun to hear the hoofs, and we're almost a week out. Let me give you just three quick examples. We had Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of water, trailer trucks of water. FEMA turned them back. They said we didn't need them. This was a week ago. FEMA--we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. The Coast Guard said, "Come get the fuel right away." When we got there with our trucks, they got a word. "FEMA says don't give you the fuel."

Yesterday--yesterday--FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency ommunication lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards on our line and says, "No one is getting near these lines." Sheriff Harry Lee said that if America--American government would have responded like Wal-Mart has responded, we wouldn't be in this crisis.
But I want to thank Governor Blanco for all she's done and all her leadership. She sent in the National Guard. I just repaired a breach on my side of the 17th Street canal that the secretary didn't foresee, a 300-foot breach. I just completed it yesterday with convoys of National Guard and local parish workers and levee board people. It took us two and a half days working 24/7. I just closed it.

MR. RUSSERT: All right.

MR. BROUSSARD: I'm telling you most importantly I want to thank my public employees...

MR. RUSSERT: All right.

MR. BROUSSARD: ...that have worked 24/7. They're burned out, the doctors, the nurses. And I want to give you one last story and I'll shut up and let you tell me whatever you want to tell me. The guy who runs this building I'm in, emergency
management, he's responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, "Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?" And he said, "Yeah, Mama, somebody's coming to get you. Somebody's coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody's coming to get you on Friday." And she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night.

MR. RUSSERT: Mr. President...

MR. BROUSSARD: Nobody's coming to get us. Nobody's coming to get us. The secretary has promised. Everybody's promised. They've had press conferences. I'm sick of the press conferences. For God sakes, shut up and send us somebody.

Welcome.

I signed up yesterday to volunteer at the shelter where about 150 evacuees are staying in Cobb County. I learned something through the process -- one thing that is really needed by the people displaced here: Walgreens Giftcards. Lots of them are just now getting prescriptions for their regular medicines, and with gift cards at pharmacies, they can get their medicines, along with a host of other personal health/hygiene items, crossword puzzles, etc., all in one place.

I hear we're getting another 3,000 people into Lockheed today. I'll let you all know anything specific I find out about what people need through what I find out. At the shelter where I'm volunteering, they said they are set for this week. But oh, the weeks to come, the cold weather that will hit eventually--a gym won't work then. And I'm wondering where the 3,000 who are flying in will stay? There are lots of offers on the moveon housing site. Maybe I can help hook people up with places. I can work a computer after all. ;-)

I look forward to talking to people, doing errands, helping clean up, serve food, whatever. I'm thinking of bringing my iriver in and podcasting some if they feel like talking eventually.

September 04, 2005

Predictable Morphing

Jeff Jarvis doesn't see anything wrong with calling the Katrina survivors "refugees." See my post yesterday. I do. In fact, there's a lot wrong with it. Same as there's a lot wrong with calling the lot of them "poor people," which is what some folks down here have taken a liking to.

You might quote some folks other than Jessee Jackson with thoughts on the topic, Jeff. Like a blogger. Maybe even a woman.

Jeff says: "I don’t see the disgrace in it, considering that this country was built in great measure by refugees and that refugees are people who had to flee something awful — political or natural — through no choice or fault of their own."

That is fascinating sentence. I'm not sure whether the "no choice or fault of their own" deserves deconstructing first, or the "people rushing to the promised land" needs tackling first. So I guess I'll say that this country was also built by people who were brought here against their will, torn from families, cuffed, whipped, dehumanized and kept against their will. But then, maybe those folks should have shot for the "refugee" title--a step up from slave.

Refugee has the potential to morph into something very unseemly. Read my post below to see what I mean.