Thursday :: Sep 1, 2005

The Media Take On Bu$h'$ Inaction

by pessimist

The American media isn't being very kind to our poor over-vacationed Cheef Executer:

Bush and Katrina: A time for action, not aloofness

A better leader would have flown straight to the disaster zone and announced the immediate mobilization of every available resource to rescue the stranded, find and bury the dead, and keep the survivors fed, clothed, sheltered and free of disease.

The day Arizona was in the eye of Hurricane George

As nice as it was to have the president visit the state we live in, I believe it would have been OK with us if Mr. Bush had canceled or at least postponed his plans in order to monitor the progress of Hurricane Katrina and to review federal relief plans.

As it is, however, the president spoke briefly about the hurricane, promising disaster relief. Then, after urging Americans to pray for those most affected by the storm, Bush said, "I also want to talk about immigration."

I've got a feeling that historians looking back on this day will not describe that transition as a particularly shining presidential moment.

Monday will not be remembered for the trip that President Bush made to a retirement community in El Mirage. But a clever historian might mark Aug. 29, 2005, as the day when Americans proved that even in the face of a hurricane we couldn't get over ourselves.

Mr. President, come home

Mr. President, go to Washington TODAY and show the country you're in charge. Go to New Orleans TODAY and show the country that you care. While you ramble on in California about Iraq, FOX News anchor Shepard Smith is flying over New Orleans in a helicopter to survey the damage and report to the nation. Have things gotten that bad in our nation that a reporter for a biased news outlet is acting more presidential than the president himself?

Mr. President, you should have canceled your vacation and your political stump speeches days ago. Blow out the candles, put away the birthday cakes, and come home to Washington today - not tomorrow after you finish all your politicking in California over the next 24 hours, but TODAY.

And what did George do?

McClellan Describes President's 'Fly Over' Hurricane Damage

President George W. Bush returned to Washington, D.C. this afternoon from his vacation in Texas, with Air Force One flying over the Gulf Coast for a look at the massive hurricane damage. One of the Air Force pilots came down and was telling them where -- which cities and communities we were passing over.

The President, when we were passing over that part of New Orleans, said, "It's devastating, it's got to be doubly devastating on the ground." And he pointed out some of the neighborhoods that I just mentioned, and pointed out -- there's a shopping mall, I think it was, we were trying to figure out what it was, and we thought it was a shopping mall that was under a lot of water.

The President pointed out this one church that was still standing, but all the homes around it there were completely wiped out.

Q: Scott, can you say if the President requested this fly-over?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President certainly wanted to do it. I think that it had been discussed among the staff with the President, but the President certainly wanted to do it, as long as we weren't going to be disruptive of what was going on in the region.

AS LONG AS WE WEREN'T GOING TO BE DISRUPTIVE OF WHAT IS GOING ON IN THE REGION????? How does one be more disruptive than one of the most destructive hurricanes in history?

CNN's Cafferty raises more questions...

CNN's Jack Cafferty is clearly not drinking the Kool-Aid. Good for him. This is what he just said on CNN:

You wonder, given the notice that we had, that this thing was out there and it was getting to be just as deadly and nasty as they're capable of being, you wonder if more could have been done, should have been done to prepare, to evacuate, to do some contingency planning... You wonder with almost a week's notice from the time this thing crossed the Florida peninsula if enough was done to protect the people in the path of this storm.

Yes, we do wonder.

So do we. In the first place, one does have to listen to those who know what the problem really is. George has done everything he can to avoid hearing what they have to say. In fact, he's doing everything he can to still their voices:

Republicans accused of witch-hunt against climate change scientists

The scientific work they are investigating was important in establishing that man-made carbon emissions were at least partly responsible for global warming, and formed part of the 2001 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which convinced most world leaders - George Bush was a notable exception - that urgent action was needed to curb greenhouse gases.

The inquiry has sent shockwaves through the US scientific establishment, already under pressure from the Bush administration, which links funding to policy objectives.

And how well is this playing in the Red States who are the direct beneficiaries of Bu$hCo policies? Not well:

Biloxi Newspaper Slams Relief Effort, Begs for Help

The Sun Herald of Biloxi, Miss. ... criticized the relief effort in its ravaged area so far, and told officials and the nation-at-large: "South Mississippi needs your help." It angrily revealed: "While the flow of information is frustratingly difficult, our reporters have yet to find evidence of a coordinated approach to relieve pain and hunger or to secure property and maintain order. People are hurting and people are being vandalized.

"Yet where is the National Guard, why hasn't every able-bodied member of the armed forces in South Mississippi been pressed into service?"

Pointedly, it declared that earlier today, "reporters listening to horrific stories of death and survival at the Biloxi Junior High School shelter looked north across Irish Hill Road and saw Air Force personnel playing basketball and performing calisthenics."

It added: "We need the president to back up his declaration of a disaster with a declaration of every man and woman under his command will do whatever is necessary to deal with that disaster."

And how is our illustrious Con-mander in Cheef responding to this demand? He's staying the course:

Where Are the Louisiana National Guard?

Bush's decision to fight terrorism by taking the battle "over there" is about to hit home. Historically, it is the National Guard, along with other emergency personnel, who attempt to provide emergency services to the community in disaster relief situations like Katrina. And where are these National Guard right now?

Iraq. If they are alive.

In an August 1 article, Ron Harris writes for the St. Louis Dispatch:

In no state have those deaths registered more than in Louisiana. Louisiana, along with New York, has lost more guardsmen and reservists - 23 as of July 24 - than any state in the nation, and all but one of those deaths have come in the last eight months.

This is a direct consequence of President Bush's bad decision to invade Iraq.

At least the right questions are being asked:

Katrina Rescue Operations: Are National Guard and Equipment Stretched Thin by Iraq War?

Earlier this month the Louisiana National Guard publicly complained that too much of its equipment was in Iraq. The local ABC news affiliate reported dozens of high water vehicles, Humvees, refuelers and generators are now abroad.

Other states are facing shortfalls as well when facing fires, floods or other disasters. A few months before summer began, Montana's governor called for that state's National Guard to be brought home from Iraq because of possible wildfires. As is the case with Louisiana's Guard, Montana found that critical equipment was overseas in Iraq. This included the bulk of the Guard's helicopters which are critical in shuttling fire crews and equipment to blazes.

Hiz Hindni$$ disagrees:

The National Guard Belongs in New Orleans and Biloxi. Not Baghdad.

CBS News reported: “Even though more than a third of Mississippi’s and Louisiana’s National Guard troops are either in Iraq or supporting the war effort, the National Guard says there are more than enough at home to do the job.”

President Bush said. “We’re in place, we’ve got equipment in place, supplies in place, and once the -- once we’re able to assess the damage, we’ll be able to move in and help those good folks in the affected areas.”

But after New Orleans levees collapsed and the scope of the catastrophe became more clear, such reassuring claims lost credibility.

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday: “With thousands of their citizen-soldiers away fighting in Iraq, states hit hard by Hurricane Katrina scrambled to muster forces for rescue and security missions yesterday -- calling up Army bands and water-purification teams, among other units, and requesting help from distant states and the active-duty military.”

The back-page Post story added: “National Guard officials in the states acknowledged that the scale of the destruction is stretching the limits of available manpower while placing another extraordinary demand on their troops -- most of whom have already served tours in Iraq or Afghanistan or in homeland defense missions since 2001.”

Speaking for the Mississippi National Guard, Lt. Andy Thaggard said: “Missing the personnel is the big thing in this particular event. We need our people.” According to the Washington Post, the Mississippi National Guard “has a brigade of more than 4,000 troops in central Iraq” while “Louisiana also has about 3,000 Guard troops in Baghdad.”

It takes more than muscle to deal with a disaster, and King George's Guardsmen are doing without so that the Oil War isn't affected:

LA National Guard Wants Equipment to Come Back From Iraq
August 1, 2005

When members of the Louisiana National Guard left for Iraq in October, they took a lot equipment with them. Dozens of high water vehicles, humvees, refuelers and generators are now abroad, and in the event of a major natural disaster that could be a problem. "The National Guard needs that equipment back home to support the homeland security mission," said Lt. Colonel Pete Schneider with the LA National Guard. And even if commanders in Iraq release the equipment, getting it home takes months.

"It's just the process of identifying which equipment we're bringing home, bringing it down to Kuwait, loading it on ships or aircraft however we're gonna get it back here and then either railing it in or trucking it in, so we're talking a significant amount of time before that equipment is back home," Schneider said.

Col. Schneider says the state has enough equipment to get by, and if Louisiana were to get hit by a major hurricane, the neighboring states of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida have all agreed to help.

And we all know that wasn't going to happen, was it? If it wasn't for Bu$hCo'$ tax 'relief', might there not be enough to deal with the problems caused by Katrina?

New Orleans Pays the Death Tax

Should basic public services in the United States be slashed so that George W. Bush and Paris Hilton may get additional millions at your expense? To use the words of the Club for Growth, "it is wrong."

State and local officials have know for years that New Orleans was vulnerable, especially in the event of a category 5 storm. After a storm in 1995 killed six people, major work was needed to improve the levee system. In response, Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project (SELA), which alotted 10 years and $430 million to the Army Corps of Engineers to build new pumping stations and repairing the levee system.

The warning signs were clear: think of it as the equivalent of President Bush receiving a presidential daily brief titled, "Category 5 Hurricane Determined to Strike in U.S." And yet in 2003, the SELA funds slowed to a trickle. The Army Corps' funding in New Orleans was slashed to due to the twin constraints of the Iraq war and the budget deficit. By Febuary 2004, President Bush proposed cutting SELA spending by 80%.

Some aren't hopeful of anything positive coming from Owwer Leedur:

Waiting for a Leader

Sacrifices may be necessary to make sure that all these things happen in an orderly, efficient way. But this administration has never been one to counsel sacrifice. And nothing about the president's demeanor yesterday - which seemed casual to the point of carelessness - suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis.

Complacency will no longer suffice, especially if experts are right in warning that global warming may increase the intensity of future hurricanes. But since this administration won't acknowledge that global warming exists, the chances of leadership seem minimal.

There is going to be a heavy price paid for actions or inaction over the next several days:

Newsview: Bush Has Own Challenge in Katrina

In purely political terms, the question is whether Bush can live up to the tough, can-do reputation he cultivated after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks - or whether he falls short of expectations and pays a political price, as his father did after Hurricane Andrew slammed Florida in 1992.

That was a most costly price:

Paying the Price

According to preliminary assessments by AIR Worldwide Corp., a risk modeling firm, the property and casualty insurance industry faces as much as $26 billion in claims from Katrina. That would make Katrina more expensive than the previous record-setting storm, Hurricane Andrew, which caused some $21 billion in insured losses in 1992 to property in Florida and along the Gulf Coast.

Having lost reelection in 1992, Poppy Bu$h settled into relative obscurity. But Dumbya is center-stage in the spotlight's glare. He's not about to run for re(s)election. What does he care?

The White House is facing a perfect storm of trouble at home and abroad.

That dismal news from Iraq, combined with rising gas prices here at home, has sent Bush’s poll numbers plummeting to new lows. An ABC News/Washington Post survey released Wednesday has Bush’s approval rating at 45 percent—down 7 points since January and the lowest every recorded this president by that particular poll.

For the White House, it was interesting timing. Over the last month, administration officials have deflected criticism of Bush’s monthlong stay at his Texas ranch by making the case that technology has made it possible for Bush to run the country from anywhere, even the so-called Western White House.

So why is Bush going back to Washington now? When asked yesterday what Bush could do in Washington for hurricane relief that he couldn’t do from his Texas ranch, McClellan told reporters no less than five times that it was the president’s “preference” to return to the White House. Asked if the decision was more “symbolic” than logistical, McClellan said, “I disagree with the characterization.”

Image Over Substance

For all the president’s statements ahead of the hurricane, the region seemed woefully unprepared for the flooding of New Orleans — a catastrophe that has long been predicted by experts and politicians alike. Just one week ago the White House declared that a major disaster existed in Louisiana, specifically most of the areas (such as Jefferson Parish) that are now under water. Was the White House psychic about the disaster ahead? Not exactly. In fact the major disaster referred to Tropical Storm Cindy, which struck the state a full seven weeks earlier. That announcement triggered federal aid for the stricken areas, where the clean-up had been on hold for almost two months while the White House chewed things over.

Beyond the poll numbers, the Bush administration faces some immediate, urgent challenges — and serious questions about its response to the disaster. There seems to have been no contingency planning for a total evacuation of the city, including the final refuges of the city’s Superdome and its hospitals. There were no supplies of food and water ready offshore — on Navy ships for instance — in the event of such flooding, even though government officials knew there were thousands of people stranded inside the sweltering and powerless city.

Then there’s the speed of the Bush administration’s response to such disasters.

Now, faced with a far bigger and deadlier disaster, the Bush administration faces at least two difficult questions: Was it ready to deal with the long-predicted flooding of New Orleans?

And is it ready to deal with the long-predicted terrorist attack that might some day strike another of our big cities?

One does have to wonder. And what of those members of the loyal opposition?

Bush Against the Ropes

Democrats ought to be able to put him away, but you know how they are

Scared of their own shadows? Certainly, these media cretins have for years kept the Dems separated from their spines:

Messing With Mother Nature

Fox started calling the storm Killer Katrina. The biggest dittohead on the block, Rush Limbaugh, is calling the storm Hurricane Katrina vanden Heuvel. National Review's Jonah Goldberg, who has never seen a bad-joke bandwagon he could resist jumping on with both feet, blogged, "It would be pretty cool if Fox played to caricature and repeatedly referred to the hurricane as Katrina vanden Heuvel." He went on to imagine the lines, "The destruction from Katrina vanden Heuvel is expected to be massive. The poor and disabled are particularly likely to suffer from the effects of Katrina vanden Heuvel."

This is how they show respect for those who are suffering and dying--with lame quips?

[There is no repect for those seen as inferior:

A Point that Cannot be Repeated Enough

The victims of the flood will be portrayed via racist stereotypes as criminals and idiots. This will predispose the audience to disliking them. Then, after everything settles down, a few right wingers will start implying that the dead brought their own fate on themselves by being too stupid and/or criminal to evacuate. This focus will distract the pundits from discussing the real issue at hand, which is why the fuck we didn't have the resources on hand to evacuate a city that has Hurricane Target written all over it. Before you know it, it'll be a wingnut bonaza of people both gleefully indulging in the most racist tendencies while simultaneously claiming that the only reason one might end up dead in a hurricane is because one doesn't have "personal responsibility".

But I digress.]

Natural disasters should be above infantile politics. (George W. Bush's decision to send his father and Bill Clinton to organize aid for the tsunami was one of his few international PR successes since 9/11.)
We should be asking serious questions about why the Iraq War has led the White House to divert funds from an urgent project to upgrade levees and pumping stations in Louisiana, and why there aren't enough National Guard troops on hand in what is one of the worst natural disasters in US history.

Those who have naught but need will take any action necessary to survive. They aren't going to wait for George to get down off his high horse:

New Orleans Cops Ordered to Stop Looters

At one store, hordes of people from all ages, races and walks of life grabbed food and water. "It's really difficult because my opinion of the looting is it started with people running out of food, and you can't really argue with that too much," Mayor Ray Nagin said. "Then it escalated to this kind of mass chaos."

"We had enough food for 10 days," said Peggy Hoffman, the home's executive director. "Now we'll have to equip our department heads with guns and teach them how to shoot."

Gov. Kathleen Blanco said she has asked the White House to send more people to help with evacuations and rescues, thereby freeing up National Guardsmen to stop looters.

Bob Mann, an aide to the governor, said dozens of law officers are being brought in from around the country and Canada to help stop the looting. Officials said they hope the 4,000 National Guard troops already in New Orleans, who have been engaged in search and rescue, will be available for police actions.

"We will restore law and order," an emotional Blanco said at a news conference. "What angers me the most is that disasters like this often bring out the worst in people. I will not tolerate this kind of behavior."

As the effects of the disaster crisis spread, they will resonate in an amplified form, for the conditions to withstand them have been as neglected as the Louisiana flood levees:

US poverty rate continues to rise

An extra 1.1 million Americans dropped below the poverty line last year, according to the US Census Bureau. The rise in poverty comes despite solid economic growth in 2004, which helped to create 2.2 million jobs in the US. The last time poverty fell in the US was in 2000 when there were 31.1 million people officially classed as poor.

Poverty and Uninsured Rising in the Land of Plenty

The fruits of the so-called Bush “economic recovery” are clearly not reaching most Americans.

A new U.S. Census Bureau report finds that the number of Americans in poverty and without health insurance grew for the 4th straight year. Thirty-seven million Americans now live in poverty — nearly 13 percent of the population — and 45.8 million lack basic health insurance coverage.

The Census Bureau also reports that median household income remained stagnant for the fifth straight year.

And what has King George done to deal with all of these crises?

Just this:

White House to Release Oil From Reserves

The Bush administration will release oil from federal petroleum reserves to help refiners affected by Hurricane Katrina, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said Wednesday. The U.S. Minerals Management Service said Tuesday that 95 percent of the Gulf of Mexico's oil output was out of service.

But this isn't going to help much, Dumbya! How are you going to refine that crude into gasoline?

Eight refineries were shut down due to Katrina — half of them producing gasoline.

And what about the environmental conditions that created Katrina in the first place? You know, GLOBAL WARMING???? It's clear you still don't get it:

Exacerbating Global Warming

The Environmental Protection Agency, seeking to avert a severe supply crunch, announced it would temporarily allow the sale of higher-polluting gasoline in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi because those states can't provide enough fuel to consumers that meets Clean Air Act requirements.

The agency also said those states will be allowed to use motor vehicle diesel fuel with a sulfur content higher than the 500 parts per million standard for the next two weeks through ozone season.

I'm all choked up by this dazzling display of Leedurship! And how about displaying some on this issue? Or are you counting on campaign contributions taken from their profits?

Interviewed on the Fox News' Fox and Friends First, Bodman was asked if price gouging is taking place.

"I would like to believe that in this time of crisis that all of us are going to pull together to try to deal with this very difficult circumstance and situation that's confronting not just this region, but this country," he replied. "We're hopeful of that, but if we have some bad actors, we have a mechanism to deal with it."

We have some bad actors. What are you going to do about them?

America's new crisis: Gas lines

This is a nightmare. The supply of oil is plunging because of the problems with the two pipelines, which shut down due to the power outages in Louisiana and Mississippi. There are growing signs that damage to Gulf oil rigs was much greater than feared, with at least 20 rigs, maybe more, lost or missing. And now start to throw consumer panic into the mix.

It won't be long, we fear, before the lines come to Philadelphia. Even though there are seven refineries in this area, prices at local gas stations rose faster than any day anyone can remember, topping the $3-a-gallon barrier at many spots. At nightfall, some stations along Route 30 west of the city were charging $3.19 a gallon for regular.

In Fayetteville, N.C.:

At one Shell station, the operator was trying to explain to irate customers why he had to impose a 10-gallon limit on all customers. “If I don’t, I run out this afternoon,” the operator said with a raised voice to two men. “Then what will we do?” The men left with their 10-gallon limits pumped.

In Waterloo, Iowa:

At about 10:15 p.m., gas lines were backed up in Waterloo at the Kwik Star stations at the Six Corners intersection of Kimball, Campbell and Williston avenues and West Fourth Street, as well as the company station at Fletcher Avenue and U.S. Highway 63. Other nearby stations were closed. The rush occurred following broadcast media reports of gas prices topping $3 a gallon today.

The nation's airlines are starting to run out of jet fuel

Airlines and oil companies are working on plans to supply jet fuel to at least ten U.S. airports that could be shut down due to a lack of jet fuel caused by refinery and pipeline shutdowns from hurricane Katrina. The airports in most jeopardy for closure include Atlanta, Charlotte, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers, Orlando, Tampa, Washington Dulles and West Palm Beach.

Serious gas crunch reported

Gas stations in upstate South Carolina reported they were running out of gas. "The state is telling us the pipeline that services the northeast has been disrupted at the supply point in Louisiana, and that it will take a week and half for it to reach us," he said. "A lot of gas stations are out and closed in this area."

In central Maryland, many gas stations were shut down by Wednesday night. "I don't know when I'll get gas again," said one station owner in Laurel, Md.

In North Carolina, a gas station on U.S. 74 reported it had only premium gas left and was selling it for $2.99. Station managers say they are unable to get gas from their suppliers. A nearby competitor station reported it had to close altogether because it was out of all fuel.

In Michigan, gas prices were as high as $3.92 for unleaded regular in Garden City, just one of many stations with high prices in the Detroit metro area. Forty percent of Michigan’s gas comes from the Gulf Coast.

In Atlanta, gas prices were rising and shortages were imminent, residents reported.

Fuel shortages could affect W.Va. emergency vehicles

At least two West Virginia counties have been scrambling to find enough fuel to run their emergency vehicles and public transportation systems following looming fuel shortages caused by Hurricane Katrina. The problem could spread to consumer outlets, where the price of regular gasoline jumped 50 cents overnight in some areas from $2.59 a gallon to $3.09 on Wednesday.

Gas Prices Hit Record High in Kentucky

The highest prices for regular unleaded in Lexington and in the metro area are at $2.99 a gallon. Some of the highest prices in the state are in Morehead, where gas has topped $3.09.

Now - with King George's economic 'recovery' disappearing faster than the levees along the Mississippi, let's see what sort of mechanisms get put into play.

A real leader would know what to do to benefit the most people in the quickest time. It's clear that George only knows how to take care of the already wealthy who stole the elections for him.

The time to act to aid our fellow citizens and our country is now:

Let’s use the Internet today to forward and post this demand so widely that the politicians in Washington can no longer ignore it: Bring the National Guard home. Immediately.
- Norman Solomon

The need is just as great in New Orleans as it is in Baghdad. Which should be more important to the Leedur Uv Da Free Whirrled?

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