"George Bush doesn't care about black people"

Kanye West on live TV (from MSNBC):

5:41: Mike Myers and Kanye West are on now, talking about the homeless situation. Kanye brings up an important point, talking about how the media portrays white people as seeking food and blacks as looters. He goes into an impassioned speech about the difficulties blacks are having during the Katrina fallout and in the country in general. Mike Myers is with him at the start.

About 10 seconds in, it's clear he's not reading from the prompter. He stumbles a bit on his points, but most of them get across. The basic message to the government? Stop dragging your feet and help the people down there. Myers gives him a couple "oh my God" looks, and then another when Kanye says "They've given them permission to go down and shoot us."

Myers, clearly stressed, goes into another point about the hurricane and how New Orleans is forever changed. Then Kanye drops the biggest bomb.

"George Bush doesn't care about black people," West said. Myers turns to him and clearly has no idea what to say. Then they go to a flabbergasted Chris Tucker.

Kanye was one frustrated man on TV. (And really, I can't do it justice here. Watch the video.)
Not sure what kind of flack Kanye's gonna catch for that last bit, but I'm sure he doesn't care.

And good for him to bring up a point on the media's portrayal of blacks that can't be said enough. Not sure if I agree, but it's always good to have someone out there, challenging the media to be as fair as possible.


It makes the mainstream media..

Budget cuts delayed New Orleans flood control work

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Bush administration funding cuts forced federal engineers to delay improvements on the levees, floodgates and pumping stations that failed to protect New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina's floodwaters, agency documents showed on Thursday.

The former head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that handles the infrastructure of the nation's waterways, said the damage in New Orleans probably would have been much less extensive had flood-control efforts been fully funded over the years.

"Levees would have been higher, levees would have been bigger, there would have been other pumps put in," said Mike Parker, a former Mississippi congressman who headed the engineering agency from 2001 to 2002.

"I'm not saying it would have been totally alleviated but it would have been less than the damage that we have got now."

Eighty percent of New Orleans was under water after Katrina blew through with much of the flooding coming after two levees broke.

A May 2005 Corps memo said that funding levels for fiscal years 2005 and 2006 would not be enough to pay for new construction on the levees.

Agency officials said on Thursday in a conference call that delayed work was not related to the breakdown in the levee system and Parker told Reuters the funding problems could not be blamed on the Bush administration alone.

Parker said a project dating to 1965 remains unfinished and that any recent projects would not have been in place by the time the hurricane struck even if they had been fully funded.

"If we do stuff now it's not going to have an effect tomorrow," Parker said. "These projects are huge, they're expensive and they're not sexy."

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the administration had funded flood control efforts adequately.

Tensions over funding for the New Orleans levees emerged more than a year ago when a local official asserted money had been diverted to pay for the Iraq war. In early 2002, Parker told the U.S. Congress that the war on terrorism required spending cuts elsewhere in government.
Situated below sea level, New Orleans relied on a 300-mile network of levees, floodgates and pumps to hold back the waters of the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain.

Levees were fortified after floods in 1927 and 1965, and Congress approved another ambitious upgrade after a 1995 flood killed six people.

Since 2001, the Army Corps has requested $496 million for that project but the Bush administration only budgeted $166 million, according to figures provided by the office of Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu Congress ultimately approved $250 million for the project during that time period.

Another project designed to shore up defenses along Lake Pontchartrain was similarly underfunded, as the administration budgeted $22 million of the $99 million requested by the
Corps between 2001 and 2005. Congress boosted spending on that project to $42.5 million, according to Landrieu's office.

"It's clear that we didn't do everything we could to safeguard ourselves from this hurricane or from a natural disaster such as Katrina but hopefully we will learn and be more prepared next time," said Landrieu spokesman Brian Richardson.

The levee defenses had been designed to withstand a milder Category Three hurricane and simply were overwhelmed by Hurricane Katrina, said senior project manager Al Naomi.

"The design was not adequate to protect against a storm of this nature because we were not authorized to provide a Category Four or Five protection design," he said.

A study examining a possible upgrade is under way, he said


What the Heck?


Sure am glad my current methods of transport get 35 & 55 miles per gallon.

Gov. Doyle's Statement on New Orleans

Thursday, September 1, 2005

Dear Friend:

Yesterday, I called elements of the Wisconsin National Guard to active duty to help in the tremendous rescue and relief efforts now underway in Louisiana and Mississippi. Over the next few days, 500 Wisconsin National Guard soldiers will head to the Gulf Coast to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina in any way they can – from performing rescues to shuttling refugees to providing relief supplies.

It’s the least the State of Wisconsin can do to assist Louisiana and Mississippi as they deal with the hurricane’s aftermath.

The people of Wisconsin can help, too.

The human toll of Hurricane Katrina is staggering, and as the days unfold, the situation in the Gulf States continues to worsen. So many have lost so much, and they are in desperate need of our material, financial, and spiritual support. This is one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, and the people of Louisiana and Mississippi will need our help as they work to rebuild their homes and their lives over the coming months and even years.

America is at its best when we realize we are one community. Now is the time for all Americans to band together and volunteer their time and resources to local and national relief efforts.

The best and quickest way you can help is by donating money. Cash donations will help provide clean water, food, and shelter for disaster victims.

The American Red Cross is a great place to start:

To find out other ways you can help, visit the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s website at
www.wisdems.org for a list of charitable organizations and agencies assisting hurricane victims.

We are still learning the full extent of the devastation, but this is no time to wait. Please do something now to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families, and we will continue to do everything we can to help our fellow Americans recover from this tragedy.


Governor Jim Doyle


Did the New Orleans disaster need to be as bad as it was?


Did New Orleans Catastrophe Have to Happen? 'Times-Picayune' Had Repeatedly Raised Federal Spending Issues

New Orleans had long known it was highly vulnerable to flooding and a direct hit from a hurricane. In fact, the federal government has been working with state and local officials in the region since the late 1960s on major hurricane and flood relief efforts. When flooding from a massive rainstorm in May 1995 killed six people, Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA.

Over the next 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and building pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid. But at least $250 million in crucial projects remained, even as hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin increased dramatically and the levees surrounding New Orleans continued to subside.

Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars.


How New Orleans was Lost

Chalk up the city of New Orleans as a cost of Bush's Iraq war.

There were not enough helicopters to repair the breeched levees and rescue people trapped by rising water. Nor are there enough Louisiana National Guards available to help with rescue efforts and to patrol against looting.

The situation is the same in Mississippi.

The National Guard and helicopters are off on a fools mission in Iraq.

The National Guard is in Iraq because fanatical neoconsevatives in the Bush administration were determined to invade the Middle East and because the incompetent Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld refused to listen to the generals, who told him there were not enough regular troops available to do the job.

After the invasion, the arrogant Rumsfeld found out that the generals were right. The National Guard was called up to fill in the gaping gaps.

Now the Guardsmen, trapped in the Iraqi quagmire, are watching on TV the families they left behind trapped by rising waters and wondering if the floating bodies are family members. None know where their dislocated families are, but, shades of Fallujah, they do see their destroyed homes.


Why city's defences were down
Cuts in spending to raise levees blamed on cost of war in Iraq

The Louisiana coastline may have been so badly damaged by the hurricane because manmade engineering of the delta has led to erosion of natural defences, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The engineering of the last 100 years that has reworked the Mississippi delta with thousands of miles of levees and flood barriers to protect communities and aid navigation, has also disturbed natural barriers which traditionally prevented storm surges and protected against hurricanes, says the society.

"Human activity, directly or indirectly, has caused 1,500 square miles of natural coastal barriers to be eroded in the past 50 years. Human activity has clearly been a significant factor in coastal Louisiana land losses, along with subsidence, saltwater intrusion, storm events, barrier island degradation, and relative sea level changes," the society said in a paper last year.

The damage done this time may be also linked to White House cuts in funding for hurricane defence to pay for homeland security terrorist defences.

Who wants to bet...

...that Bush says the disaster in New Orleans is a reason we will need tax cuts?

Just a prediction.

Look Who Wants to Help...

Aid offers pour in from around the globe
Rice: U.S. will accept assistance that ‘can help alleviate the suffering’

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


What's Rev. Pat putting in?

God Destroyed New Orleans?

Personally, I think this is sick & opportunitic:


PHILADELPHIA - Just days before "Southern Decadence", an annual homosexual celebration attracting tens of thousands of people to the French Quarters section of New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina destroys the city.

"Although the loss of lives is deeply saddening, this act of God destroyed a wicked city," stated Repent America director Michael Marcavage. "From 'Girls Gone Wild' to 'Southern Decadence,' New Orleans was a city that had its doors wide open to the public celebration of sin. From the devastation may a city full of righteousness emerge," he continued.

New Orleans is also known for its Mardi Gras parties where thousands of drunken men revel in the streets to exchange plastic jewelry for drunken women to expose their breasts. This annual event sparked the creation of the "Girls Gone Wild" video series.

"We must help and pray for those ravaged by this disaster, but let us not forget that the citizens of New Orleans tolerated and welcomed the wickedness in their city for so long," Marcavage said. "May this act of God cause us all to think about what we tolerate in our city limits, and bring us trembling before the throne of Almighty God," Marcavage concluded.

"[God] sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matthew 5:45)


Draft Jenna First!

That was a sign I made for a demonstration a few years back - it looks like others are picking up on the idea:

Questioning Bush's Sacrifice for a 'Noble Cause'

This week, the liberal Web site buzzflash.com noted in an unsigned editorial that "not one -- not one -- of any of Bush's children or his nieces and nephews have volunteered for service in any branch of the military or volunteered to serve in any capacity in Iraq. Not one of them has felt the cause was noble enough to put his or her life on the line."

Publicity stunt or not, it does raise a question. If the sacrifice is so noble, has the president urged his own children, or enlistment-age nieces and nephews - of which there are eight - to join the military and fight in Iraq?

I called the White House to pose this question and was somewhat surprised to learn that none of the supposed liberal baddies in the White House press corps had ever asked the president or any of his spokespersons that question.

Spokeswoman Dana Perino couldn't find that this question had ever been asked. She said she'd have to check and call back. And she did later Tuesday afternoon with this prepared statement: "There are many ways for people to serve their country and to help make the world a better freer and more peaceful place. The president is grateful to all of those who have answered the call to service whether it's in the military or in another capacity and members of his family have done both."

This is a newer version of the old chickenhawk argument - that is, that the administration is filled with hawks who avoided military service themselves. The current argument focuses on the question of whether children of today's Iraq war supporters are urging their children to fight in a war they deem noble.

"It's pretty simple, really. The military doesn't have enough soldiers; the president believes that this is a good and just war; he has two daughters who could enlist in the military, but haven't. These things don't add up.

"So here's a question I think a White House reporter should ask the president: President Bush, if your own two daughters won't enlist, how can you expect anyone else's children to join the military?"


Fiddling While Rome Burns for Our Times...

From AMERICAblog:

BREAKING: Sec of State Condi Rice caught buying several-thousand-dollar pair of shoes in NYC moments ago, spends last night at Broadway show!

According to Drudge, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has recently enjoyed a little Broadway entertainment. And Page Six reports that she’s also working on her backhand with Monica Seles. So the Gulf Coast has gone all Mad Max, women are being raped in the Superdome, and Rice is enjoying a brief vacation in New York.

We wish we were surprised.What does surprise us: Just moments ago at the Ferragamo on 5th Avenue, Condoleeza Rice was seen spending several thousands of dollars on some nice, new shoes (we’ve confirmed this, so her new heels will surely get coverage from the WaPo’s Robin Givhan). A fellow shopper, unable to fathom the absurdity of Rice’s timing, went up to the Secretary and reportedly shouted, “How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!” Never one to have her fashion choices questioned, Rice had security PHYSICALLY REMOVE the woman.

Angry Lady, whoever you are, we love you. You are a true American.

For anyone who still doesn't get it, let's talk for a moment about why this story matters.

The president, finally, has decided that the hurricane is a problem. He claims yesterday at 5pm, finally, that he's going to be devoting his entire administration to saving the lives of the people currently dying in this growing national disaster. And what does a top member of his cabinet do? She goes to a Broadway comedy and today is buying multi-thousand-dollar shoes on 5th Avenue at the same time CNN is showing dead grandmothers in wheelchairs abandoned on the streets of New Orleans.

This is more than just a cheap shot at Condi. What in the blazes is this woman doing at a Broadway show in the middle of a national emergency? This is akin to going to a Broadway show in the middle of September 11. Don't we expect the Secretary of State to work past 5pm on a day an entire American city is being wiped off the face of the planet? And shouldn't she be doing something else today than shopping at filthy rich stores on 5th Avenue? Could she be - oh, I don't know - working with foreign leaders, like the Mexicans, to see what immediate assistance they can offer to the neighbor?New Orleans is ceasing to exist. What in God's name is Bush doing letting his secretary of state go on vacation in the middle of this?Message: "I don't care."


Cell Phone Troubles in New Orleans

I used to sell cell phones, so I found this interesting

Katrina outages reveal phone system quirks
Some cell users can make calls, but not receive them

The storm also revealed some quirks of how the telephone system works: Some Gulf Coast residents who had fled far away before the storm hit were finding that their cell phones could make calls but not receive them.

The problem affected only those whose cell phone numbers came with area codes from the affected region such as 504 for New Orleans.

Gary Morgenstern has been unable to dial the cell phones of his daughter or her boyfriend, both students at Tulane University, since Monday even though they evacuated from New Orleans late Saturday and have been driving west through Texas and Arizona.

As a result, Morgenstern’s been sending text messages to her phone when he wants her to call so he can find out how they’re doing.

“My daughter could be sitting next to me in New Jersey and I could be having the same problem,” said Morgenstern, a public relations executive for AT&T Corp., noting that his daughter and boyfriend have different national providers.

Wireless industry experts said the problem revolves around basic network architecture.Usually, when cell users take their phones outside their local area code, the wireless network checks back with a network computer in the home market to verify account information and let the service provider know where to route calls.

With communications to the home switch in New Orleans and nearby area codes cut off by the storm, cellular operators quickly made arrangements on their networks and with one another to automatically connect any calls dialed from one of those phones.

Incoming calls, however, can present a problem because the phone network can’t determine where to route those calls without first checking in with the New Orleans switch to find out where the cell user is located.


Religious Right & Birth Control

Good cartoon:



A Must Read...

The Vietnamization of Bush's Vacation

ANOTHER week in Iraq, another light at the end of the tunnel. On Monday President Bush saluted the Iraqis for "completing work on a democratic constitution" even as the process was breaking down yet again. But was anyone even listening to his latest premature celebration?

..two conservative Republicans - actually talking about Iraq instead of Ms. Sheehan, unlike the rest of their breed - stepped up to fill this enormous vacuum: Chuck Hagel and Henry Kissinger. Both pointedly invoked Vietnam, the war that forged their political careers. Their timing, like Ms. Sheehan's, was impeccable. Last week Mr. Bush started saying that the best way to honor the dead would be to "finish the task they gave their lives for" - a dangerous rationale that, as David Halberstam points out, was heard as early as 1963 in Vietnam, when American casualties in that fiasco were still inching toward 100.

..As the retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey reported to the Senate, the National Guard is "in the stage of meltdown and in 24 months we'll be coming apart." At the Army, according to The Los Angeles Times, officials are now predicting an even worse shortfall of recruits in 2006 than in 2005. The Leo Burnett advertising agency has been handed $350 million for a recruitment campaign that avoids any mention of Iraq.

..IN the new pitch there are no mushroom clouds. Instead we get McCarthyesque rhetoric accusing critics of being soft on the war on terrorism, which the Iraq adventure has itself undermined. Before anyone dare say Vietnam, the president, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld drag in the historian David McCullough and liken 2005 in Iraq to 1776 in America - and, by implication, the original George W. to ours. Before you know it, Ahmad Chalabi will be rehabilitated as Ben Franklin.

..Among Washington's Democrats, the only one with a clue seems to be Russell Feingold, the Wisconsin senator who this month proposed setting a "target date" (as opposed to a deadline) for getting out. Mr. Feingold also made the crucial observation that "the president has presented us with a false choice": either "stay the course" or "cut and run." That false choice, in which Mr. Bush pretends that the only alternative to his reckless conduct of the war is Ms. Sheehan's equally apocalyptic retreat, is used to snuff out any legitimate debate. There are in fact plenty of other choices echoing about, from variations on Mr. Feingold's timetable theme to buying off the Sunni insurgents.

The marketing campaign will crescendo in two weeks, on the anniversary of 9/11, when a Defense Department "Freedom Walk" will trek from the site of the Pentagon attack through Arlington National Cemetery to a country music concert on the Mall. There the false linkage of Iraq to 9/11 will be hammered in once more, this time with a beat: Clint Black will sing "I Raq and Roll," a ditty whose lyrics focus on Saddam, not the Islamic radicals who actually attacked America. Lest any propaganda opportunity be missed, Arlington's gravestones are being branded with the Pentagon's slogans for military campaigns, like Operation Iraqi Freedom, The Associated Press reported last week - a historic first. If only the administration had thought of doing the same on the fallen's coffins, it might have allowed photographs.


Where is the Louisiana National Gueard?

Louisiana National Guard troops watch Katrina from Iraq

More than 3,000 members of the Louisiana National Guard’s 256th Brigade serving in Iraq can only watch from Baghdad as Hurricane Katrina bears down on their families and homes in New Orleans and the other south Louisiana communities from which they hail. The deployed soldiers and their equipment, which includes high water vehicles, Humvees and generators, will be sorely missed as Louisiana attempts to prepare for and recover from the historic Category Five storm.


We need our units here, not in Iraq.