Thursday, September 15, 2005

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Exactly how much time, money and resources were used to light up Jackson Square in New Orleans for Bush's "help me save my ratings" speech? Developing...

73-Year-Old Deaconess Jailed in Kenner, LA

"There were people looting, but she wasn't one of them. Instead of chasing after people who were running, they grabbed the old lady who was walking," said Elois Short, Maten's daughter, who works in traffic enforcement for neighboring New Orleans police. Read it.

Bush's Half-Hearted Mea Culpa

Earlier this week, President Bush, facing ever-dropping approval numbers, said "to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility." Wow. Inspiring. In the first few days after Katrina's landfall, the government didn't even partially do their job right. They threw up walls of bureaucracy reacted with indifference to human suffering. And what about personal responsibility? Where's the admission that he should have given up a couple more days on the ranch to see his country through a catastrophic natural disaster? Where's the remorse for having put a complete incompetent in charge of America's disaster response? Why didn't he admit that, as a commander in chief, he failed to call for immediate action by the nation's armed forces to mobilize, despite any pre-existing issues of jurisdiction? I hope the nation sees his so-called contrition for what it is: an attempt to bolster his falling numbers and protect his now meaningless agenda.

CNN Details Stymied Efforts of Volunteers

In a bit of muck-raking journalism, CNN.com has detailed a few accounts of volunteers who were diverted, delayed and denied access to Katrina-affected areas. "Firefighters who answered a nationwide call for help were sent to Atlanta for FEMA training sessions on community relations and sexual harassment." Read it.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Mr. Brown Goes (Back) to Washington

Friday, Sept. 2, 2005: "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job," Bush said Friday during a tour of the state, a day before Chertoff voiced his confidence.

Friday, Sept. 9, 2005: Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen will replace Michael Brown, the embattled FEMA director, as the on-site head of hurricane relief operations in the Gulf Coast, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced at a news conference in Baton Rouge Friday afternoon. Read it.

Baltimore Sun Op/Ed: Bush Must Go

"The disastrous federal response to Katrina exposes a record of incompetence, misjudgment and ideological blinders that should lead to serious doubts that the Bush administration should be allowed to continue in office." Read it.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Bush Ultimately Responsible

In an AP article about the various "chiefs" in charge of the federal government's hurricane recovery, White House spokesman Scott McLellan said, "there are clear lines of authority and responsibility. ... Ultimately the president is in charge." Read it.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

EPA Practices Use of Understatement

"'Human contact with the floodwater should be avoided as much as possible,' said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson."

Wow. Your tax dollars at work. Read it.

Refugees or Not?

"A refugee can be a person of any race at all," he said. "A refugee is a person who seeks refuge."
An interesting debate on the topic.

Republicans Divided on Federal Response

According to an article on CNN.com, House majority leader Tom DeLay has joined the chorus of Bush protectors blaming local officials for the failures of response in the wake of Katrina. (We here do believe that there were failures of preparation at the local level in advance of the storm, but in manys cases, better advanced preparation would have required an unprecedented forceable removal of citizens from their homes.) Not every member of the House is on board with DeLay's "blame the victims" assessment:

"A Republican representative stood up and said, 'All of you deserve failing grades. The response was a disaster,' CNN was told by lawmakers emerging from the meeting.

"But DeLay countered that assessment later in a news conference by saying that the onus for responding to emergencies fell to local officials." Read the article

Pay particular attention to the memo from FEMA head Mike Brown to Secretary Chertoff of Homeland Defense.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Let the world know...

that the Bush administration views you as nobody. Get your "i am nobody" t-shirt, mug or bumper sticker HERE. There is no markup on these items, but we are working on a way to set markups that go directly to the American Red Cross. More designs to come...

How you can help

If you believe the Bush administration failed the American people in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and you wish to embrace the "i am nobody" concept and the grassroots effort to call for President Bush's resignation, there are several things you can do:

1. Donate to a relief agency. Before we can assign blame, we must be willing to step in and help those our country forgot. People in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi will need help for months, maybe years. Find a company that matches donations to maximize your contribution. If you are a person of faith, there are many religious organizations whose relief agencies could use your suppport.

2. Write or call your members of congress. When you do, copy them on the Nobody Letter or mention it in your conversation. Tell them that you are disgusted by the lack of federal response to this emergency, and that Mr. Bush must resign.

3. Send copies of the Nobody Letter to as many people as you can. There's a link under the original post for sending it. (Links to the Nobody Letter are in the header above and in the sidebar to the right.)

4. Send copies of the Nobody Letter, along with a personal note from you, to every media outlet you utilize -- internet, TV, radio, newspapers. If we inundate the media with this concept, they will give it credence.

5. Get a t-shirt or cap made with the "i am nobody" slogan. I should have a CafePress shop up soon. (I'm putting no markup on the products, but I have contacted CafePress about setting up a means of sending all profits to the relief agencies.)

Monday, September 05, 2005

More FEMA Bungles

Sen Mary Landrieu, D-LA: "I understand that the US 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." Read the article

FEMA Sabotaged the Efforts of Local Authorities

In this "Meet the Press" interview with Jefferson County Parish president Aaron Broussard, we learn that FEMA turned away truckloads of donated bottled water, refused to allow local emergency management officials to receive fuel from the Coast Guard and severed the emergency phone lines used by local officials. This is one of the most heart-breaking interviews I've seen.
Watch the video

FEMA Director Mike Brown... what else can I say?

Apparently, not only did Mike Brown not have any experience that would even vaguely qualify him for his work at FEMA (he was "Judges and Stewards Commissioner" for the International Arabian Horses Association), but he was fired from that position. He was so incompetent that he drove the organization into non-existence.
Read the article
Another article on this (with less F-bombs!)

A Red Cross Explanation

I knew I'd find something that would explain the Red Cross absence in New Orleans. Thanks to truthout.org for posting stories the mainstream, corporate media won't touch.

Addition: In contacting a Red Cross rep, I've learned that they didn't want to be in NO, due to the unsafe conditions. No explanation on where they were Tuesday, while people in Biloxi and surrounding areas were wandering around with no food or water.

An excerpt:
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. Read the Red Cross FAQ

Now the Military Spin Begins

Admiral Tim Keating, Commander of US Northern Command, in a press conference moments ago said that from his perspective, aid was moving to Katrina victims before the storm ever hit, but that "to those people in Mississippi and New Orleans who were without food and water for a few hours, maybe overnight, that seemed like a much longer time." WHAT!? First of all, the entire world watched as people starved for four days in New Orleans. Secondly, to present the desperation as only a matter of perception on the part of the victims is insulting, condescending and dehumanizing. I'd like to see his buzz cut hang on to the rafters with dank filth up to his neck for three days and then say his misery was only a matter of perception.

FEMA Outsourced Hurricane Plans to GOP Contributors

Adding to the controversy regarding the Army Corps of Engineers diverting $250 million from the SELA (Southeast Louisiana) Urban Flood Control Program to Iraq and Halliburton reconstruction projects, is the revelation that FEMA outsourced hurricane recovery planning to the Baton Rouge-based consulting firm Innovative Emergency Management (IEM), Inc. to develop a "Catastrophic Hurricane Disaster Plan for New Orleans & Southeast Louisiana." Read the article

Sunday, September 04, 2005

About the Red Cross

Re-reading the original Nobody Letter, I realize how harsh my reaction to the Red Cross seems. I don't apologize, but I would like to explain the tone. At that time (late Wednesday night-early Thursday morning) there was a very real perception that no aid was being offered. The letter started primarily as a release for everything I was feeling; emotions to which I am sure many people can relate. I suspect the Red Cross was ready and willing to offer aid. The question is where were they? Did government inadequacy and bureaucracy prevent them from moving quickly? The fact is, FEMA and Homeland Security dropped the ball. I have yet to hear any comments from the Red Cross or Salvation Army about FEMA's handling of the situation, but I am sure that they are coming.

I have confidence in the Red Cross and I encourage you to donate. Do it quickly, and do it sacrificially. Beyond the Red Cross and Salvation Army, many religious organizations have relief agencies. Many national corporations are offering matching funds for Red Cross donations. I know Lowe's and Costco stores are making such matching donations.

Zookeepers Prepared for Worst

The famous Audubon Zoo has the good fortune of being located on some of the city's highest ground, but it also had a disaster plan for the animals that worked better than the city's plan for humans. Read the article

More Red Tape

"We have tried so hard to do the right thing. It took us 30 hours to get here," he said. That government officials can't straighten out the mess and get them assigned to a relief effort now that they're just a few miles away "is just mind-boggling... Read the article

The Bush Administration Founders

I wanted to collect in this post a few examples of the bureaucracy, lack of forethought and political business-as-usual that are poisoning the administration's response to Katrina. Herewith, a few quotes, with links to the original articles:

That's right, he said "swamped."

"And Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, urged Mr. Bush to quickly propose a rebuilding plan for New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast, arguing that an ambitious gesture could restore his power in Congress.
"If it's done right, it adds energy to the rest of his agenda," Mr. Gingrich said. "If it's done wrong, it swamps the rest of his agenda." Read the article


The officer said he had also heard of an incident in which two men in a New Orleans police cruiser were stopped in Baton Rouge on suspicion of driving a stolen squad car. The men were, in fact, New Orleans officers who had ditched their uniforms and were trying to reach a town in north Louisiana, the officer said.
"They were doing everything to get out of New Orleans," he said. "They didn't have the resources to do the job, or a plan, so they left."
Read the article

"We are ready to provide more help than they have requested. We are just waiting for their call," said Daley, adding that he was "shocked" that no one seemed to want the help.
Read the article


I can't verify the validity of this post, but it is date April 26, 2005 and is frighteningly prescient.
"They actually have the predictions on a map of a catagory 4 hurricane hitting NO and it looked unbelievable. He explained that it will be very similar to what happened to Galveston island during the great 1900 storm. It will actually flood from the North side of the city because of tidal surges moving into Lake Ponchatrain plus obviously flood from the South leaving the city under water. This will trap over two hundred thousand people."
Read the article


"As far back as 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was saying that a major hurricane hitting New Orleans was one of the three 'likeliest, most catastrophic disasters facing this country'."
Read the article


"We expected a lot more support from the federal government. We expected the government to respond within 24 hours. The first three days we had no assistance,"
Read the article

I'll post more later.

-Nobody-

Error correction

I've edited the original Nobody Letter to replace the word "refugee" with "evacuee." Personally, I think this is a politically correct semantics, but I understand the connotation of refugee as one who has left one's country, not simply one who seeks refuge. Some definitions:

: an individual seeking refuge or asylum; especially : an individual who has left his or her native country and is unwilling or unable to return to it because of persecution or fear of persecution (as because of race, religion, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion)

Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law, © 1996 Merriam-Webster, Inc.


n : an exile who flees for safety

Source: WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University

Join the Fight!

Okay, so this effort is, admittedly, in its infancy. I'm relatively new to the supply side of the blogosphere, but I hope and pray the message of these posts will strike a chord of discontent and activism in our nation.

To that end, I have sent the original post (is it an essay? an open letter? I think I'll call it the Nobody Letter from here on) to a number of media outlets: CNN, MSNBC, Slate, Salon, the Washington Post, Fox News (especially to the shows of Geraldo Rivera and Shep Smith, who are particularly outraged at the slow government reaction), New York Times, LA Times, Matt Drudge (I'd LOVE to see that reaction), NPR, the local NPR affiliate, WBHM, the NOLA.com Soundoff page, the Birmingham News and others I can't even recall at the moment. Join the fight and forward the letter to these outlets and any others you frequent.

I've also sent it to every member of the Senate, as well as my representative. I'll start working on the House toady, but that's a huge task. If you've found your way here, I need your help to share the message. Contact as many members of the House and Senate as time will allow. I want the capitol inundated with the Nobody Letter.

A few political groups and activist journals have gotten the letter: moveon.org, truthout.org and several websites dedicated to impeaching Bush. Again, spread the message to these types of groups. All we need is one major news outlet to pick up the story to really get this thing moving.

I would love to see this thing spread like fire in a field of dry wheat. My vision is to see people all across the nation sporting "i am nobody" caps and t-shirts, driving cars with nobody bumper stickers, guys in the end zone stands wearing rainbow fright wigs and holding up "i am nobody" signs. None of these are currently available, but I'm looking into a Cafe Press store, with proceeds going to Red Cross Disaster Relief. More on that to come...

It's time that the people of this country rise up and do something. Waiting until the 2008 election is not acceptable. It must happen now!

By the way, I want to share a quick note about me. In all my communications, I have not shared my own name. I have taken on the nom de plume of "I am Nobody," because this is about the message. It is not about me. If this thing takes hold, I don't want anyone to think I am doing it out of personal ambition or a desire for recognition. I want to inspire change.

Finally, if you're looking for a progressive alternative to the Drudge Report, check out The Locust Fork. Founder Glynn Wilson is a fellow Alabamian, a great writer and proof that we in "The Heart of Dixie" are capable of progressive thought.

Great Blogging from the Katrina Scene

These guys are doing wonderful work. Keep them in your prayers as they attempt to shed light on the loass and suffering along the Gulf Coast.


http://dancingwithkatrina.blogspot.com/

Chertoff's Defense

From CNN.com:

"Defending the U.S. government's response to Hurricane Katrina, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff argued Saturday that government planners did not predict such a disaster ever could occur."

This is a defense? Any hack screenwriter in Hollywood could have devised the scenario we've seen play out on the Gulf Coast. In the first real-world test of Homeland Security, the new department failed miserably. Maybe if they would have color-coded the response, it would have gone more smoothly...

Here's the full article:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/09/03/katrina.chertoff/index.html