Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Delay indicted:


Just turn on the machine:

Washington Post story (a few days ago):
President Struggles to Regain His Pre-Hurricane Swagger
From Max Headroom's monologue in "Paranoimia" by the Art Of Noise.
Thank you.
I'll take over now....

And let's have a little taste of that old computer-generated....SWAGGER.

One, one, one, one, one, two, three....

Trust me.....yes.
Trust me.....yes.
Trust me.....yes.
Trust me.....yes.
Trust me.....yes.


What is the Washington Post thinking?

In their editorial promoting a gasoline tax, the Post asserts:
  1. Precisely because consumers are already outraged by fuel prices, a further, tax-induced price increase would force demand down more sharply than it would in normal market circumstances.
  2. ... the sharp reduction in demand would cause the pretax fuel price to fall sharply, too, offsetting the after-tax increase. This is a smart way to make oil producers subsidize U.S. taxpayers. Because of the energy tax, producers would face lower demand and lower market prices; they would, in effect, pay perhaps a quarter of the energy tax ...
  3. Fuel-tax revenue would ease the pressure to raise taxes to plug the budget deficit, so Americans would come out ahead ...
  4. ... they would be getting Saudi Arabia's help in rebuilding the nation's finances ...
To which we say:
  1. Many people, especially the poor, have already lowered their driving to the absolute minimum. For them, a gas tax will not drive demand down in the way the Post imagines.
  2. The Post argues that with a gas tax there will be a reduction in demand and in the pretax fuel price, and that therefore (!) oil producers will be paying "perhaps a quarter of the energy tax". What? They will be paying less tax, not more. Or perhaps the Post considers lowering business activity to be, in essence, paying a tax. That's nonsense.*
  3. This is the most outrageous. In order to "ease the pressure to raise taxes to plug the budget deficit", in order to let Bush get away with his cuts for the rich, institute a gas tax on everybody.
  4. A gas tax in the United States will a be way of "getting Saudia Arabia's help in rebuilding the nation's finances"? No. Saudi Arabia will not be paying anything.
The Post is falsely asserting that with a gas tax, the nation's finances will be fairly adjusted, and that oil companies and Saudi Arabia will be shelling out big money in the process. Can you believe it? No mention of fuel economy standards. No mention of public transportation. That's the kind of talk you'd expect to hear from Exxon/Mobil or the Saudi Embassy. Is that who the Post represents these days?

* It may be argued that by having a gas tax, oil companies will lower their prices and profit margins, and that lower profits is "paying a price". Perhaps. But they would not, as the Post asserts, "in effect, pay perhaps a quarter of the energy tax." (We assume that the "in effect" means paying taxes, though not the gas tax.)


Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side'

That's the conclusion of a study that was reported on in the TimesOnline (London). From the newspaper report:
According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.

The paper, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal, reports: [...] Â?In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.
As to the study itself, we have some serious questions. The United States has a lingering problem with race, which is a major factor in social statistics. Also, there are economic factors to consider. As Morgan Stanley's Stephen Roach wrote two days ago:
A globalized world must come up with a new model of the political economy. Germany is struggling mightily with just such a challenge. But it is hardly alone. Two extremes frame the choices -- the United States with its minimal social contract and Old Europe with its deeply entrenched social welfare state.
That's got to count for something. But in any event, we do know that a good part of religion is opposed to science, opposed to reality, and opposed to Enlightenment values. Which leads to bad policy and to bad behavior.

Religion leads to bad behavior? Of course, there are instances where religion has motivated people to act in exemplary fashion, so it's a complex issue. But we would like to point out one thing which is often overlooked. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, there is much talk of Justice, but that's not what the scriptures describe. They describe actions by people and by their god which can only be called Revenge - the infliction of disproportionate harm to people that have transgressed. A culture that promotes Revenge as a moral standard is not a healty one.


Sunday, September 25, 2005

This is who: (excerpts, emp add)
The president of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, Aaron Broussard on Meet the Press:

What kind of sick mind, what kind of black-hearted people want to nitpick a man's mother's death? They just buried Eva last week. I was there at the wake. Are you kidding me? That wasn't a box of Cheerios they buried last week.

Somebody wants to debate those things? My God, what sick-minded person wants to do that?

Are you sitting there having your coffee, you're in a place where toilets flush and lights go on and everything's a dream and you pick up your paper and you want to battle ideology and political chess games? Man, get out of my face. Whoever wants to do that, get out of my face.

When somebody wants to nit-pick these details, I don't know what sick minds creates this black-hearted agenda, but it's sick. I mean, let us recover. Let us rebuild.

Russert was at probably his most disgusting ever this morning.

... the best part of George Bush has always been a sense of being a Republican who cares about the poor and has an actual instinct about it and a compassion about it.


Friday, September 23, 2005

Listen to somebody who knows:

During the Roberts hearings, Senator Brownback repeatedly used the example of children with Down Syndrome to make a case against abortion. Some fetuses are aborted when it can be determined that a baby will be born with a serious lifelong disability, like Down Syndrome. In Brownback's view, that's not warranted. (At a minimum. He doesn't like abortion in any circumstances.) The senator has even brought a child with Down Syndrome to the hearing and basically presented the issue as, "How can you be so cruel as to want this person, standing right next to me, dead?"

Thus, it is very interesting to read what Michael Berubé has to say that kind of argument. Highly recommended.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

This administration cares deeply about women-owned and minority-owned businesses:

From the White House press briefing:(emp add)
Q Scott, Representative LoBiondo from New Jersey, Republican, is circulating a letter calling on the President to rescind the tax cut, which he signed into effect for the people who are going to be rebuilding the Gulf Coast. In light of that, and in light of the need that people have to be working and to be earning decent money down there, is the President reconsidering this wage cut?

MR. McCLELLAN: Which tax cut?

Q The wage cut.

MR. McCLELLAN: In terms of tax cuts --

Q No, I'm sorry. I meant the wage cuts, didn't mean to say, tax cuts --

MR. McCLELLAN: What do you mean, wage cuts?

Q The Davis-Bacon.

MR. McCLELLAN: The Davis-Bacon. Well, what --

Q Which is a wage cut.

MR. McCLELLAN: We suspended that act for the reasons that we stated previously. This will open up access to more business -- small businesses, including women-owned and minority-owned businesses.
An echo of the parody of the New York Times which had the headline:
World War III Begins
Atomic bombs rain on several U.S. cities
Women and minorities adversely affected
Back then (the 1908's ?) the joke was on liberals. Now it's the Bush administration which is a joke.


Monday, September 19, 2005

Shorter Washington Post editorial (literally):
JOHN G. ROBERTS JR. should be confirmed as chief justice of the United States even though on a number of important issues he seems likely to take positions that we will not support. Judge Roberts represents the best nominee liberals can reasonably expect from a conservative president, and broad opposition by Democrats would send the message that there is no conservative capable of winning their support. Having done their duty by asking Judge Roberts tough questions, Democrats should not withhold their support.


Saturday, September 17, 2005

Highly appropriate symbolism:
[KHON Hawaii] President Bush has pledged to "do what it takes" to help the Gulf Coast region recover from Hurricane Katrina — a step he says should include national economic, social and military changes.

"Tonight I also offer this pledge of the American people: Throughout the area hit by the hurricane, we will do what it takes ... we will stay as long as it takes ... to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives," Bush said in a prime-time, 23-minute address to the nation on Thursday night. "And all who question the future of the Crescent City need to know: There is no way to imagine America without New Orleans, and this great city will rise again."

In his speech, delivered from a podium in Jackson Square, the president was well lit with a statue of Andrew Jackson astride his horse and St. Louis Cathedral in the background.
History buffs may be familiar with this bit of Americana:
(From the Wilson Quarterly, Summer 1997. Article: Money and Politics)

In this mock-memorial to "Our Civil Service as It Was,"
cartoonist Thomast Nast, a Republican, warned voters
in 1877 what the party of Andrew Jackson would do
if returned to power.


Get lost:

Here is what Donna Brazile has to say about Bush's reconstruction effort, the one being run by Karl Rove and (as Digby points out) an opportunity to gut labor and environmental regulations:
On Thursday night President Bush spoke to the nation from my city. I am not a Republican. I did not vote for George W. Bush -- in fact, I worked pretty hard against him in 2000 and 2004. But on Thursday night, after watching him speak from the heart, I could not have been prouder of the president and the plan he outlined to empower those who lost everything and to rebuild the Gulf Coast.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Who is looking back at you, George?


You can't make it up:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hurricane Katrina will hurt the U.S. economy in the short run but bright long-term prospects mean the Bush administration can push ahead with its reform agenda, a top White House economic adviser said on Thursday.

"In the shorter term, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina will have a palpable effect on the national economy," White House economic adviser Ben Bernanke said in prepared remarks for delivery at the National Press Club. But he said private-sector forecasts were for healthy long-run growth.

Bernanke said the White House intends to continue pursuing policies that have make the economy able to withstand shocks and that will keep growth on track.

"These policies include making tax relief permanent, reducing the budget deficit by limiting spending, strengthening retirement and health security through efforts like Social Security reform ... and enhancing energy security," Bernanke said.
  • "Bright long-term prospects"? Nobody is saying that. (Not that a recession is being called for, but the future isn't particularly encouraging.)
  • They might get the tax cuts, but how big a deficit can this country stand?
  • They sure aren't going to rein in spending. See Bush's speech tonight.
  • "Strengthening retirement" for who? Certainly not for the retirees.
These guys are living in a dream world.


Preview of the speech Bush will give tonight:





Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The end:

Yahoo photo/story:

President Bush greets Mexican Marines who are helping to rebuild an elementary school in Gulfport, Mississippi, September 12, 2005. Bush will address the nation from devastated Louisiana on Thursday at 9 p.m. EDT (0100 GMT), the White House announced.
We're glad the Mexicans are helping, but from a purely political viewpoint this is a horrible photo-op for Bush. It's like, "Why do we have to depend on our neighbors south of the border?" It won't sit well with red-state pride.

In other news, the recent headlines have been devastating.No wonder the conservatives are panicking.


Friday, September 09, 2005

This guy is no Truman:


Friday sunrise blogging:


Thursday, September 08, 2005

President declares a National Day of Prayer:

Background: Matthew, chapter 25, verses 31-36 (from the New International Version), Jesus speaking:
[T]he Son of Man ... will separate the people one from another   [...]   Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father   [...]   For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'


'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.
In other words, help the poor and your reward is eternal life, otherwise face eternal damnation.

Now to Bush's proclamation: (excerpts)
Across our Nation, so many selfless deeds reflect the promise of the Scripture: "For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in."
Interesting that he didn't include "I was in prison and you came to visit me," which means 'looters' aren't part of Bush's Christian compassion. In addition, the sick are out of luck. Bush doesn't expect the typical citizen to look after them because that's beyond their ability, and anyway there's always Medicaid to rely on. Wait a minute! That's scheduled for cuts. So perhaps faith-healing is the way to go.

NOTE: Normally Bush cites scripture that is in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament (a favorite technique is quoting Jesus quoting Isiah). But this time he's gone 100% Christian. That's probably all he's got left as a base. Take that William Kristol!




The only timeline that matters:

cite Sat 27 Aug
White House "The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of Louisiana and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts in the parishes located in the path of Hurricane Katrina beginning on August 26, 2005, and continuing. The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures"
  Mon 29 Aug
7 a.m.: Katrina makes landfall on the Louisiana coast

Yes, we are aware that the declaration of the state of emergency listed parishes that were inland and not on the coast.

To which we say, the declaration should apply to the whole state of Louisiana. If Bush is going to try and weasel out by claiming that he didn't authorize disaster relief for those coastline parishes, then he's guilty of murder, pure and simple.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Portion of today's Pat Oliphant cartoon:


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

"This is no time for politics" - Joe Lieberman

New York Times:
... the chairwoman and the ranking minority member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said hearings would be held. "Government at all levels failed," said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine and chairwoman of the panel, who appeared with the ranking Democrat, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman ...

"In some sense, not just the Gulf Coast was attacked but America's self-confidence in the aftermath of the way government responded to this crisis," he said. "And this is no time for politics."
GAC Chairman Lieberman during the 2002 confirmation hearings for Michael Brown's appointment to head FEMA:
I am glad the President has nominated someone already familiar with FEMA's mission to become Deputy Director.

I will certainly support your nomination. I will do my best to move it through the Committee as soon as possible so we can have you fully and legally at work in your new position.


Katrina timeline:

Bush / White House Chertoff / DHA Brown / FEMA Blanco / Louisiana & Mississippi Nagin / New Orleans government action


cite "Before Hurricane Katrina slammed into Louisana and Mississippi"
SeattleTimes DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff listened in on electronic briefings by the National Hurricane Center warning of a storm surge capable of overtopping levees in New Orleans
SeattleTimes FEMA Director Mike Brown listened in on electronic briefings given by the National Hurricane Center warning of a storm surge capable of overtopping levees in New Orleans
  Fri 26 Aug
CNN 4 p.m.: The National Hurricane Center warns that Katrina is expected to reach dangerous Category 4 intensity before making landfall in Mississippi or Louisiana.
CNN hours later: Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco declare states of emergency.
  Sat 27 Aug
CNN 5 a.m.: Katrina is upgraded to a Category 3, or major hurricane, with the Gulf Coast in its path.
White House "The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of Louisiana and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts in the parishes located in the path of Hurricane Katrina beginning on August 26, 2005, and continuing. The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures"
CNN During the day, residents of Louisiana's low-lying areas are told they must evacuate; residents in other low-lying areas are urgently advised to do so.
AP evening: Mayor C. Ray Nagin was visiting New Orleans television stations and urging people to leave
StPTimes night: Natl. Hurricane Ctr. head Mayfield calls Nagin
StPTimes night: Natl. Hurricane Ctr. head Mayfield calls governors of Louisiana and Mississippi
  Sun 28 Aug
CNN 2 a.m.: Katrina escalates to Category 4 strength, heading for the Gulf Coast.
CNN 7 a.m.: Hurricane Katrina intensifies to Category 5
CNN 10 a.m.: New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin orders mandatory evacuations
StPTimes Natl. Hurricane Ctr. head Mayfield videoconference with Bush
White House "The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of Mississippi"
White House "The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of Alabama"
  Mon 29 Aug
FT FedEx said it began airfreighting 120,000lbs of water and telecoms equipment on behalf of the Red Cross before the hurricane hit.
CBReport Northcom started planning before the storm even hit. The USS Bataan was sailing almost behind the hurricane so once the hurricane made landfall, its search and rescue helicopters could be available almost immediately. Authorization was given in a timely manner. [NOTE: Early reports were that authorization was not given.]
CNN 4 a.m.: Hurricane Katrina is downgraded to a strong Category 4
AP FEMA head Michael Brown told NBC's "Today" show that his agency had "planned for this kind of disaster for many years"
7 a.m.: Katrina makes landfall on the Louisiana coast
AFP New Orleans area residents, seeking refuge from Hurricane Katrina wait to get inside the Superdome
White House President discusses Medicare in Arizona
AP noon: FEMA head Brown requests dispatch of 1,000 DHS employees to the region, giving them two days to arrive.
AP FEMA head Brown urged local fire and rescue departments outside Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi not to send trucks or emergency workers into disaster areas without an explicit request for help from state or local governments
Two major flood-control levees are breached, and the National Weather Service reports "total structural failure" in parts of New Orleans.
AP A section of the roof of the Superdome, where 10,000 people are taking refuge, opens.
  Tue 30 Aug
MSNBC Beginning early in the week a strange paralysis set in. For days, Bush's top advisers argued over legal niceties about who was in charge, according to three White House officials
Meet the Press DHS SEC'Y CHERTOFF: Well, I think if you look at what actually happened, I remember on Tuesday morning picking up newspapers and I saw headlines, "New Orleans Dodged The Bullet" ... It was on Tuesday that the levee--may have been overnight Monday to Tuesday--that the levee started to break. And it was midday Tuesday that I became aware of the fact that there was no possibility of plugging the gap ... [cf. Wonkette]
CNN New Orleans is left with no power, no drinking water, dwindling food supplies, widespread looting, fires -- and steadily rising waters from major levee breaches. Authorities try evacuating the thousands of people at city shelters.
CNN The U.S. military starts to move ships and helicopters to the region at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
White House President gives speech about V-J day in San Diego
AP Plays a guitar presented to him following his visit to Naval Base Coronado
NYTimes Many refugees said they had come [to the convention center] after hearing directives on the radio that they do so, because the Superdome and other shelters were already filled. But Kenya Smith, head of intergovernmental relations for New Orleans, said Friday that the convention center was never designated an official shelter. At the convention center, he said, the refugees were told - he was not sure by whom - that FEMA would send buses to take them from the city.
  Wed 31 Aug
White House Returning to Washington DC, the president flies over affected area
CNN Evacuations from the Louisiana Superdome to the Houston Astrodome begin.
White House Bush gives 'laundry list' speech about hurricane relief efforts
  Thu 1 Sep
  New York Times editorial: 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. ... He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end."
AP Victims of Katrina outside the Superdome as they wait for evacuation
White House President Asks Bush and Clinton to Assist in Hurricane Relief Efforts
WaPo Bush in interview on ABC's Good Morning America: ""I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."
  Photo in several newspapers showing the situation Thursday
TPM FEMA page for Katrina-related giving had Pat Robertson's Operation Blessing listed second (since then the page has been reformatted)
CNN Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announces that 4,200 National Guard troops trained as military police will be deployed to New Orleans over the next three days.
CNN Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco requests the mobilization of 40,000 National Guard troops.
CNN Mayor to feds: 'Get off your asses'
Reuters Dorothy Divic, 89, is surrounded by onlookers trying to keep her alive on a street outside the convention center
News Hour FEMA head Brown: "with regard to the ... the convention center ... They've had meals every day that they've been there."
NY Times FEMA head Brown told network television interviewers on Thursday night that federal officials had learned about the [convention center] refugees just that day.
  Fri 2 Sep
White House 9 am: President Heads to Hurricane Katrina Affected Areas "The results are not acceptable."
White House President arrives in Alabama, Briefed on hurricane Katrina
Local (Los Angeles) FOX anchor and Chris Wallace agree that Bush looked bored and uninterested.

At conclusion of briefing, Bush said of FEMA head, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job"
White House President arrives in New Orleans, tours area. [cf. Sen. Landrieu the next day: "yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity"
CNN Members of the Congressional Black Caucus criticize the pace of relief efforts
  Sat 3 Sep
CNN The Army Corps of Engineers brings in pumps and generators to help get New Orleans pumps back on line
NYTimes FEMA cuts Jefferson Parish's emergency communications line
  Sun 4 Sep
  Mon 5 Sep
White House Bush returns to areas affected by hurricane
SaltLTrib 50 firefighters sent to Louisiana with first assignment to stand beside Bush as he toured devastated areas.
  Between Monday (29 Aug) and Sunday (4 Sep)
NYTimes FEMA turns away three trailer trucks from Wal-Mart loaded with water
NYTimes FEMA prevented the Coast Guard from delivering 1,000 gallons of diesel fue
Post-Gazette Red Cross officials said that FEMA would not allow them to deliver food to New Orleans
Chi-Tribune FEMA accepts only one truck from Chicago
SaltLTrib FEMA issues call "for two-person fire teams to do community relations"
  Tue 6 Sep
AP Criticized for its sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina, the White House said Tuesday that "we're not going to engage in the blame game"
White House BUSH: "What I intend to do is lead an investigation to find out what went right and what went wrong."
NOLA Bodies found piled in freezer at Convention Center. "It's not on, but at least you can shut the door."
Daniel Martinez, a spokesman for FEMA said plans for body recovery "are not being released yet."

(subject to updates)

A big Thank You to the Daily Kos website, which was the starting point for many of these entries.

UPDATE: There is another timeline over at Nobody Knows Anything, which contains a different mix and goes back further to when FEMA was reorganized and levee projects and funding were decided upon.

UPDATE2: There is a very detailed timeline over at the dKospedia that covers (for the most part and currently) the period between Aug 26 to Sep 1.

UPDATE3: Additional timelines: a very extensive and well-sourced one at Right Wing Nut House (right-leaning, but the timeline is unbiased), and the BBC (thinner, but with some pictures)

COMMENT: It's getting to the point where there are so many events to chronicle, that separate per-department_of_government timelines may be needed. But that practically takes us to the point where we're writing up a report of the kind an investigating committee would produce. Here at uggabugga, we'll probably stick to what we see as key events and topics of debate (e.g. when various authorizations were made). We don't envision, say, including stuff like when Shepard Smith cussed out Hannity or when a private citizen was stopped at a checkpoint - it's overload.