Warm the tar, fetch the down comforter...
Copyright 2005 JHB
Life after the Presidency...
The Evolution of Man
You'll Never Walk Alone...
From the AP
Trouble Ahead, Trouble Behind
Goofy frontman for the GOP, Ken Mehlman, is quoted in The Washington Post
about the post Katrina fallout in Washington, D.C. :
"The public is going to look in coming months and year and say how have leaders responded to this . . . and what have they done"to protect the nation.."
Apparently, Ken didn't get the memo. From the New York Times
...Richard A. Falkenrath, a former homeland security adviser in the Bush White House, said the chief federal failure was not anticipating that the city and state would be so compromised. He said the response exposed "false advertising" about how the government has been transformed four years after the Sept. 11
That would be the Republican government led by George W. Bush. You know, the ones who insisted that everything had changed after 9/11? Yet Katrina has revealed precisely how little has been achieved in the four years since the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon.
Under Bush, the nation's ability to respond to disasters - both natural and man-made- has been greatly diminished, evidenced by the prolonged suffering endured by thousands of New Orleanians as they desperately awaited evacuation from the city. The money needed to upgrade our deteriorating infrastructure, fund projects addressing situations such as the levees in New Orleans and provide adequate resources for first responders have been diverted toward tax cuts for the wealthy and an unnecessary war that lingers on with no end in sight.
Ken Mehlman and the Republicans had their chance. Protecting the nation and preparing for the "next" disaster was precisely the charge they had assigned themselves to keep. They above all others, especially those suspicious liberals, would protect us. It was the basis of George W. Bush's entire political survival. It was the theme of his re-election campaign.
But it is clear now, that Bush is incapable of governing the nation and managing its numerous and vast priorities. Especially now, when his already flailing Administration is likely to be crippled by the fallout from the Federal government's failure to respond promptly and responsibly to the Mississippi Delta. In a recent poll, in which respondents were asked if they would vote for Bush or his predecessors going back to Carter, Bush lost to every single one. Even Jimmy Carter...by eight points.
The real quesiton now is surviving the last three years of his Presidency and beginning to establish a new government in the 2006 mid-terms. It is the first chance to hold accountable those Republicans who have led the nation so disastrously off into the wilds of an ultra-conservative, theocratic vision for us all, by taking away the President's Congress and preventing any continued action on Mr. Bush and the GOP's wreckless agenda.
It is the very least we owe to the victims of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.
The President Goes South
George W. Bush visited the ruin of Hurricane Katrina last Friday, five days after the killer storm made landfall early Monday morning. It was the first coordinated public relations response in the wake of the Federal Government's failure to respond to the disaster. It was the first move by Rove to ease the damage to a beleaugured President, who seemed confused during his mid-week laundry list recital and on another plane of existence as he toured the Mississippi Delta.
Chertoff and Brown were fending for themselves, lobbing the opening salvos at the state and local authorities, casting blame on those who stayed behind. There was no script. They were ad libbing responses to harsh questions from reporters, making terrible gaffes such as pointing blame at those who had not evacuated or fabricating phony headlines, such as Chertoff's mysterious "Dogded Bullet." Besides, while that may be all well and good for the macabre secretary of DHS, everyone knows George doesn't read newspapers. And despite being briefed by the National Hurricane Center on the aftermath of Katrina, Bush, Brown and Chertoff were simply not there when their country needed them.
Brown originally only asked Chertoff for 1000 DHS agents, giving them two days to arrive and expecting only a two week stay according to a FEMA memo. This was his response to Homeland Security's third highest national security priority - a Category 4 hurricane swallowing the city of New Orleans. The levees would break, the city would flood, thousands would die, thousands more would be stranded...But there were no "Code Reds" issued at Homeland Security when a Cat 5 came bearing down on the gulf coast. Neither Chertoff nor Brown nor Bush committed federal resources in aiding the state and city in a mandatory evacuation, at a time, given the parameters established by this administration in a post-9/11 world and in accordance with the priorties they have set, the Federal government should have been leading the charge. There is simply no reason why the Bush Administration was not on top of this situation - afterall, this is the post-9/11 world. Things are different.
Yet Team Bush was caught unassembled, "country-clubbing" in their various lairs scattered about the country.
Chertoff and Brown were left to their own devices, until Bush and Rove could arrive to begin a political campaign with one single purpose - damage control. Firefighters were provided and used as props to walk beside the President. Sen. Mary Landrieu recounted how they staged repairs on the levee. Actually, has anyone considered that our government, in the immediate days following the hurricane, could only muster one helicopter and one bulldozer to repair the levee? And only a single pipe pumps water from the city...
Bush's first visit received wide media attention, but perhaps equally as much scorn. He didn't know a Salvation Army center he directed two survivors toward had been destroyed. He lamented the destruction of Trent Lott's house. He hugged people. And delayed relief efforts in the city of New Orleans.
More importantly, the Administration established its beachhead in the counter offensive to offset the political consequences of their failure. The talking points had been issued - insist everything's going fine, launch a subtle attack to deflect responsibility to state and local authorities, and use phrases like "the Blame Game," "not the time for fingerpointing," or "I'm a problem solver," when questioned regarding the President's absence of leadership a week ago.
The President even announced that he would lead an investigation into what he might have done wrong. Of course, the President insists nothing went wrong, prompting Nancy Pelosi to call him oblivious and dangerous. Everything is just fine in W's World.
The Administration has clearly engaged in a concerted attempt to create their own reality, absolving themselves of New Orleans, conducting a response that looks like something out of Iraq. So far, they have pledged to provide survivors with a $2000 debit card, for emergency expenses, because, in true Republican fashion, people know what to do with their money better than the government. Except, $2000 is unlikely to provide the kind of relief that the victims of Katrina are in need of - healthcare, especially vaccinations in the light of the biohazard created by the flood; housing, food, clothing. And for a family, $2000 won't last long.
Democrats had proposed several ideas of their own, but Republicans blocked efforts to amend the $52 billion request by President Bush. In fact, Raw Story reports that copies of the legislation were not provided to House members. Just like Iraq - how long before $5 billion ends up missing from the Katrina relief fund? How long before Halliburtion overcharges for their services?
Worst of all, the President has completely failed to rally the nation to the city of New Orleans. It's not that the vast majority of Americans have not responded. It's that the governing party, the Republicans, show little enthusiasm for rebuilding New Orleans, the gods be damned! House Speaker Hastert has pondered, "What for?" Santorum wants to punish people who stayed behind. Bush misses Trent Lott's old porch.
On his return visit Sunday, Bush hit Baton Rouge, which was virtually untouched except for being swamped by survivors, and a middle class Mississippi neighborhood also spared the worst of Katrina. It was an attempt to improve upon the first visit. Secondary players were spreading the talking points - even old man Bush condemned the media's obsession with the "Blame Game."
The President is too busy solving problems, such as his incredibly shrinking approval, to worry about when the next time Chertoff and Brown blow it might be.
Afterall, in this Administration, when you make a mistake, you're not fired. Likely, your superiors will allow you to go on making mistakes. You might even receive a medal, like the Congressional Medal of Freedom, for your colossal shortcomings as a competent, functioning human being...you'll probably receive a promotion.
...in W-World, everything's just fine, even for a horse's ass like Mike Brown.
While Rome Burns...
was a pleasant, dry Arizona afternoon as the President and Senator tasted the celebratory confection of John McCain's birthday. The Senator has an odd relationship with the President these days, and it is clear that he is seeking the Bush blessing before his 2008 Presidential run. McCain, once admired across the political spectrum, struck his Faustian bargain with Bush, depsite the 2000 slandering he took in South Carolina and elsewhere at the hands of Rovian politcal thugs, who tarnished McCain as an unstable Vietnam Vet kook with "brown" children.
However, McCain may yet rue the day he shook hands with a President who is firmly establishing himself as the most inept commander-in-chief since Herbert Hoover. Worse yet, given his two terms, a conservative judiciary and Republican leadership in both houses of Congress, President George W. Bush is more likely establishing a new standard by which to measure ineptitude, incompetance and ignorance - his own unique legacy of failure, which is quickly surpassing Nixon, LBJ, Carter and dear, sweet, doughy Hoover.
And in 2008, John McCain will likely suffer the same stain that threatens to undermine what appears to be the short-lived(and failing) Republican Era in 2006 - George W. Bush.
Rising gasoline costs, the onset of inflation, a failing policy in Iraq, erosion of vital industrial and environmental standards, strained international relations, a healthcare crisis, a hollow educational system, Casey Sheehan's mom, a rapidly declining infrastructure, the rise of a new generation of Robber Barons - in Enron, Worldcom, etc., an assault on civil liberties and, now, the most horrific bungling of a disaster relief effort in our history, which has cost far more lives than necessary.
The federal government of George W. Bush took five days to respond in a responsible way in the wake of Katrina. It is a gross failure of leadership across the Bush Administration, from the President to the incompetant Mike Brown at FEMA to the callously disinvolved Condi Rice, who bought shoes while New Orleans drowned, and the devilish insensitivity of Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff.
Despite ranking a Category 4 Hurricane strike around New Orleans as the third most critical national security risk, the Bush Administration failed to respond to the terror descending upon New Orleans and lands surrounding the Mississippi Delta. In fact, under George W. Bush, the funding required to adequately develop the levees around New Orleans has been drastically reduced as a consequence of his misbegotten war and wreckless tax cuts. There were warnings. Plenty. And they all went unheeded. Bye, bye New Orleans, our country's largest port.
Perhaps the only thing greater than the destruction of the Mississippi Delta has been the gross negligence in the Administration's response to a national crisis that the President himself has described as beyond 9/11. Even he has acknowledged that his
government's response is "not acceptable."
The people of New Orleans and those caught in the much wider swath which Katrina cut along the Gulf Coast, were left to die for nearly six days following landfall 6:10AM Monday morning. After the levees broke, New Orleans was submerged and chaos ensued. A major US city had vanished in any recognizable way as something even faintly reminiscent of the New Orleans we knew.
Even now as the President attempts to catch-up to his own missteps, he has stumbled, pointing out the rumble that was Sen. Trent Lott's house and how he can't wait to sit on the new porch once it's been rebuilt. Or failing to realize that the very Salvation Army center he attempted to direct two Mississippi women towards had been destroyed during the Hurricane, something the women were trying to tell him. It just didn't sink in. He just
didn't get it.
Katrina has exposed his failing presidency and the even greater failure of the Conservative philosphy, which contends government can do no good, despite the overwhelming evidence blown across Alabama & Mississippi, and floating dead in the streets of New Orleans that government certainly cannot do anyone any good when it does nothing at those very times when it is required to fulfill its constitutional committment to provide for the General Welfare.
As if that wasn't enough, the ugly head of Racism has reared itself in the wake of the Great Flood of '05, as well as a host of other issues, such as our ability to respond to a catastrophic event - involving a biohazard - four years after 9/11.
But those are tales for a later hour.
For now, Rome burns...
...as a distant fiddle comes calling across the bayou...
Breaking News: Bush to Replace Top Aides
IN a surprise announcement, the Bush Administration has announced the replacement of two prominent figures - Press Secretary Scott McClellan and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
Neither would comment when questioned.
McClellan will be replaced by Sgt. Shultz, who served on the staff of Col. Klink during the second world war. Administration officials said Shultz has earned a reputation for his unique ability to handle intense questioning, something the White House has faced more and more over the last several months.
When asked about his appointment, he replied, "I knooooow nothingk!"
At the Pentagon, Gen. Richard Meyers announced the successor to beleaguered Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld, or "Rummy" to his fans, has drawn increasing fire from both parties over the last few months, as the calls for his resignation have increased. President Bush stated that he was confident of his choice to take over at the Department of Defense.
"I looked into his eyes," the President said,
"and gave him a banana. Because America is about bananas, and I...uh...respect that. And the American people respect that. And so...my administration, is going to be, ya know, for bananas."
The comment has sparked a controversy with the National Plantain Growers Association, and whether or not there is anyone
left in America who the President has not offended or put-off.
Mr. Diggz is a 20 year old Circus chimp from Florida, who smokes,juggles and is married to a pot-bellied pig named "Mincy".
"Mr. Diggz is certainly qualified," Meyers said. "He's got lots of experience trying to put a round peg in a square hole. And, I must say, he's getting quite good at it."
Pressed to explain his plan for finalizing the conflict in Iraq, Diggz clapped and stuck out his tongue, exhibiting the sophistication, tact and straightforwardness that so often eluded his predecssor.
Rumsfeld was visibly upset as a result of his dismissal, as friends stated he was "smoking mad" and had fallen into a blithering flurry of nonsense.
As for Mr. Diggs, Meyers said he's up to a pack day but has gotten off the bacon.
"The rational mind stresses opposites...Compassion and Love go beyond pairs of opposites"