It has been a very long time since your blogstress last occupied her own breakaway republic; would that she could tell you why. Oh sure, she’s been mighty busy, doing the things one might expect a blogstress to be doing--singing torch songs, shopping for lingerie and watching C-SPAN, with box of bon-bons at hand. Yet, instead of turning her taunting wit to the plethora of scandal and perdition now gripping Our Nation’s Capitol and all in its realm, your cybertrix finds herself adrift in a sea of listlessness, barely able to raise her well-manicured middle finger in the direction of the White House. In short, your Webwench is consumed by--for lack of a better term--outrage fatigue.
So shamelessly consistent are the thieving hucksters who control the executive and legislative branches of our superior form of government that, with each successive outrage--say, the revocation of food stamps from several hundred thousand single-parent families even as Congress stands poised to give America’s wealthiest citizens a $70 billion tax break--one feels one’s capacity for indignation diminishing. We’ve been breathing the toxic waste of lies and blood and graft for so long that we’ve developed a sort of emphyzema of the soul, gasping for truth as we wheeze out a wimper of protest.
Perhaps your net-tête should return to the third person singular and speak only for herself. Perhaps you feel nothing like her exhaustion in the face of news about our government’s torture of prisoners, the name-calling of combat veterans who speak against the war, the revelation of the president’s demolition plan for al Jazeera, the attempt to throw Hurricane Katrina survivors out of their government-funded quarters, the fleecing of taxpayers in the post-Katrina contracting, and Vice President Cheney’s plans to skip the White House Christmas party in order to attend a fundraiser for the indicted Tom DeLay. Perhaps you are out there, screaming at the top of your lungs, blogging three times daily, calling into C-SPAN and writing your congressperson. You would then be a far better man than your blogstress.
But if you are like your blogstress’s many friends, you instead whisper in her exquisitely delicate ear about fascism--e.g., we’re on the cusp of--fearful of being overheard lest one be branded an alarmist nut, or worse. Indeed, in at least five different settings over the last week, your écrivaine has been presented with that partcular F-word--not in angry invective, not as a mindless perjorative, but, rather, as a description of a state of being towards which les amis de la cyberscribe fear our nation is marching.
Said a friend who works on the Hill: “I know that Goebbels wrote a book; I’ve been thinking I should read it--just to know what they’re up to.”
Monday, November 28, 2005
It has been a very long time since your blogstress last occupied her own breakaway republic; would that she could tell you why. Oh sure, she’s been mighty busy, doing the things one might expect a blogstress to be doing--singing torch songs, shopping for lingerie and watching C-SPAN, with box of bon-bons at hand. Yet, instead of turning her taunting wit to the plethora of scandal and perdition now gripping Our Nation’s Capitol and all in its realm, your cybertrix finds herself adrift in a sea of listlessness, barely able to raise her well-manicured middle finger in the direction of the White House. In short, your Webwench is consumed by--for lack of a better term--outrage fatigue.
Friday, October 28, 2005
And so, as the New York Times predicted last night, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, chief of staff to the vice president of the United States, has been indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice charges. As they've been doing for the last week, Republican wags can be expected to characterize those charges as no big deal.Sphere: Related Content
Now that the right has been served its pound of flesh, its leaders seem to have only the nicest things to say about Harriet Miers. And they're oh, so willing to be helpful to the president as he sets about choosing (with Ms. Miers' help?) his next nominee to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the high court.
Here's today's missive from Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council:
Rebound, Retrench and RallySphere: Related Content
Harriet Miers graceful withdrawal of her candidacy for the Supreme Court speaks well of her loyalty and her wisdom--no mean traits. She has generously given the President a second golden opportunity to restore the historic and vital role of the Supreme Court. The President campaigned on the promise to appoint justices in the mold of Scalia and Thomas. He won the 2000 and 2004 elections on the strength of that promise. He and his party's candidates won back control of the U.S. Senate in 2002 by appealing for an end to liberal obstructionism on the confirmation of judges. Earlier this year, public opinion swung behind the President and against the filibusters of qualified judges. Americans agreed that outstanding candidates like Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen, and Bill Pryor deserved a fair hearing and a fair vote.
Nothing could rally the President's strongest backers more than for him now to select a strong judicial conservative, an unquestioned champion of judicial restraint. He knows the list as well as we do. Harriet Miers helped him select just such able candidates for a score of judgeships. One thing should be clear: the liberals now shedding crocodile tears over the troubles of the Bush Administration are wrong. Miss Miers' withdrawal in no way means or should mean the unraveling of the Bush Presidency, or even the "fraying" of his Second Term prospects--as liberal columnist David Broder puts it. No lesser figures than George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan were rebuffed on their plans for the Supreme Court. President Bush can rebound, retrench, and rally. And we stand ready to help him do so.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
And so it has come to pass that, as your blogstress predicted last Saturday, the White House has put the kaibosh on Harriet Meirs's nomination to the Supreme Court. Perhaps this fine piece filed yesterday by the New York Times's David Kirkpatrick was the last straw. His opening and closing paragraphs say it all. Most telling is his interaction with the very conservative Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions.
The drumbeat of doubt from Republican senators over the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet E. Miers grew louder Tuesday as several lawmakers, including a pivotal conservative on the Judiciary Committee, joined those expressing concerns about her selection.CLOSE:
Asked if the debate had become "one-sided," with too few defending Ms. Miers, Senator Sessions, the Alabama Republican, struggled for words, then pushed a button for a nearby elevator in the Capitol building and told an aide, "Get me out of here."Sphere: Related Content
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
From the Fabulous Frankie G. (your blogstress's partner in musical crimes), comes this biting question:
With legal tribulations looming for the administration, just how long
will we have to wait before a "code orange" terrorist threat?
Counting... 1 2 3 4 ...
Now, the Fab F may be a bit mad (as good musicians are), but that doesn't mean he isn't right. Check out Keith Olbermann's chronology of the mysterious coincidences of bad news for the administration and elevated terror alerts.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Indictments to come down tomorrow, says Steve Clemons of The Washington Note.
It would be a sight for sore eyes, that of Vice President Dick Cheney in an orange jumpsuit. Yes, your blogstress knows she is speculating wildly (as she does all things), tantalized as she is by today's New York Times front-pager (by David Johnston, Richard W. Stevenson And Douglas Jehl) that tells of how Scooter Libby learned that Joe Wilson's wife worked for the Agency: he learned it from his boss, the vice president of the United States.
Notes of the previously undisclosed conversation between Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney on June 12, 2003, appear to differ from Mr. Libby's testimony to a federal grand jury that he initially learned about the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson, from journalists, the lawyers said.Readers of this site have no doubt wondered why, while touting the American people's poll-tested willingness to consider the impeachment of their president, your cybertrix has declined to call for the impeachment herself?
The notes, taken by Mr. Libby during the conversation, for the first time place Mr. Cheney in the middle of an effort by the White House to learn about Ms. Wilson's husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, who was questioning the administration's handling of intelligence about Iraq's nuclear program to justify the war.
Lawyers involved in the case, who described the notes to The New York Times, said they showed that Mr. Cheney knew that Ms. Wilson worked at the C.I.A. more than a month before her identity was made public and her undercover status was disclosed in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak on July 14, 2003.
Well, what if such an impeachment should succeed? Who, then, becomes president? Why, Darth Vader himself! And Dick Cheney is not your father's Darth Vader. Back in the day, ol' helmet-head sought only domination of the known universe through oppressive military means and impressive swordplay. (And what girl doesn't go for impressive swordplay?) But the meglomania of the Darth of yore seemed to stop there; no mention of the major money jones the Wyoming version seems to have.
Now, with visions of ol' slant-mouth in leg-irons, your Webwench dares to dream. However, finding someone in the House with the fortitude to invoke Article II, Section 4--well, that's another story. Sphere: Related Content
Monday, October 24, 2005
If you've found your blogstress to be negligent on the subject of the New York Times' infamous reporter, Judith Miller, your blogstress herein offers her mea culpa, accompanied by a fascinating take on the unholy mess by William Powers of the National Journal.
In this week's column (you really should be reading him weekly, dear reader), Powers draws a strong analogy between how the Roman Catholic Church has addressed its pedophilic priests problem and how the Times is addressing its problem with journalists who lie (and the editors who let them):
Think about it. A powerful institution of enormous prestige and global importance, one that has unusual sway over our collective life, turns out to have troublesome elements in its ranks, some of them downright corrupt. The story has been dribbling out for years in small isolated cases, but it blows open when a member of the priesthood is revealed to be a serial abuser of the truth.
Click here to read the complete piece Powers's regular weekly column, "Off Message."
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Here in Our Nation's Capital, people who believe themselves to be in the know have already declared dead in the water the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers. Today's revelations of her support for affirmative action have surely done her in on the right, while the do-over demanded by senators on the Judiciary Committee of the committee's questionnaire has pretty much finished her off for everybody else. (Her answers were described as "insulting" and "incomplete".)
At your blogstress's Oppo Factory, a mere saunter from the Great Temple of the High Court, visitors wonder aloud at the truly bizarre trajectory of this nomination. Your cybertrix, you'll recall, was the first to pronounce Ms. Miers too much of a hack to merit a nomination. (Three days later, The New Republic designated Miers as the Number One Hack in what it called the Bush Administration Hackocracy.)
The far right had their own issues with Miers, of course: she is a woman, and not one who has signed the blood oath all far-right female power figures take: "In exchange for a modicum of worldly power, I shall surrender the rest of womankind to the submission of authoritarian males." (Well, your Webwench may have paraphrased a bit, but you get the idea.)
Then came word of assurances given to James Dobson, king of the Focus on the Family media empire, that Miers would vote the right's way on matters relating to abortion. He knew this, he said, because Karl Rove (in between grand jury appearances) told him so. It seems, however, that a review of Miers's own record as a member of the Texas Bar would have made Rove's case. (So, okay, she might surrender pregnant womankind.)
The Judiciary Committee was not amused.
But the right-wing wooing didn't end there. A conference call was arranged for something called the Arlington Group--a cabal of right-wing hoo-has--that featured a couple of sitting judge pals of Miers attesting to her orthodoxy on matters of concern to the authoritarians. One of those judges today sits on a federal court. A bit unseemly, wouldn't you say, that he stepped down from his lofty post to lick some boots for the administration?
Let's not forget another priceless moment or two on Ms. Miers's journey back into sycophantic obscurity: the president's assertion that Miers's religious beliefs were a factor in his selection to the body that serves as the final arbiter of the First Amendment.
Alas, the torpedoing of the Miers nomination hardly saves the court from the judicial jihadis on the right. For a nuanced illustration of the conundrum faced by the opposition party, your net-tête turns, as she so often does, to Hendrik Hertzberg of the New Yorker, whose shapely sentences leave her staring wantonly at the glossy page titled "Comment":
Sinking Miers’s nomination would give Democrats the satisfaction of dealing Bush a defeat while at the same time striking a blow against the intellectual degradation of the Court. But Bush’s next nominee would almost certainly be both more distinguished and more provably, fearsomely right wing. To fracture the formula of a founding father of modern conservatism, mediocrity in the defense of moderation isn’t much of a vice. And excellence in the pursuit of extremism is certainly no virtue.
The first AddieStan reader to name the "founding father of modern conservatism" cited by Hertzberg wins an autographed picture of your blogstress in her bustier.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
This past weekend, your blogstress had the great good fortune to be interviewed by Mary Glenney of The Women's Show at WMNF, an excellent public radio station in Tampa, Florida, on the subject of Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers. Glenney proved to be one of the most informed interviewers your cybertrix has run across, and managed even to stump your oh-so-astute Webwench once or twice. To hear the sound of two broads dishing on one who might have once been of our kind, click here and go to the item labeled "October 8, 2005." The segment featuring your écrivaine begins at around 13:05, though if you check in around 09:55, you'll be treated to Lizz Wright's delicious cover of Neil Young's "Old Man".Sphere: Related Content
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
A delicious item has met your blogstress's eye, courtesy of the Family Research Council (FRC) e-mail list. Apparently FRC President Tony Perkins has the same reading habits as your cybertrix. (You'll remember FRC as the folks who brought us Justice Sunday.) Today we find him citing Lou Chibarro's piece in the Washington Blade--the one excerpted here yesterday in which Lou scooped the mainstream media on Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers' interaction with a gay and lesbian group during her run for Dallas City Council. Perkins is most concerned, it seems, about the fact that, per the Blade's report, Louise Young of the Lesbian/Gay Political Coalition of Dallas, said of Miers, "She was not hostile [to gay and lesbian people]..."
Herewith, the Perkins missive:
Second (Day) Thoughts
President Bush has earned a substantial measure of trust and confidence from pro-life, pro-family Americans. He has shown every indication that he understands the crucial role we played in returning him to the White House less than a year ago. Even so, the nomination of President Bush's close friend and confidante, White House Counsel Harriet Miers, continues to roil the waters in this Capital. Liberal advocacy groups are also delving into the nominee's background. A story in a homosexual newspaper--The New York Blade--reports on Dallas homosexual leaders' meetings with Harriet Miers when she sought election to the Dallas City Council in 1989. "She was not hostile, nor did she come across as some kind of right-wing ideologue," said Louise Young, formerly with the Lesbian/Gay Political Coalition of Dallas.
Ultimately, the group declined to support Miers. They said she told them then that she would not support repeal of Texas's sodomy law and that she was opposed to abortion. Despite this non-endorsement by his group, Marc Lerro said his fellow homosexual leaders viewed the fact that Miers met with them and filled out their questionnaire as "a positive gesture." Today, Lerro says "I can't say...she will be good on our issues, but on a personal level, she was very open to having gay people serve on boards and commissions." While I am relieved to have some of her reported responses, I have a concern that Miss Miers was helping to legitimize the drive of homosexual organizations for power and influence over our public policies. You can be sure Harriet Miers will be closely questioned on these and other matters when she appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Your Webwench especially appreciates the use of the honorific "Miss" before the name of the first woman to head the Dallas Bar.
The e-mail continues with a defense of Gamblin' Man Bill Bennett, who apparently has not learned exactly when to fold 'em, given his ongoing defense of his own blatantly racist comments, brought to light by Media Matters for America.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Kudos to you, Lou Chibarro, Jr., cries your blogstress, for scooping the mainstream media with his report on Harriet Miers' views, discerned through her interaction with a Dallas gay group during her successful 1989 run for Dallas City Council. Chibarro is the veteran reporter at the Washington Blade.
In his discussions with members of the Lesbian/Gay Political Coalition of Dallas, Chibarro learned that (in 1989, at least), Miers was anti-choice and opposed a repeal of the Texas sodomy law that targeted homosexuals. He also learned, however, that she had appointed a prominent out, gay attorney to a city board, and otherwise supported nondiscrimination against gay and lesbian people.
White House Counsel Harriet Miers, President Bush’s latest nominee for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, met with members of a gay rights group during her successful campaign for a seat on the Dallas City Council in 1989 and later appointed a prominent gay attorney to a city board that oversees federal grants...
Louise Young, former co-chair of the Lesbian/Gay Political Coalition of Dallas, said Miers provided mixed responses to a questionnaire on gay issues that the group sent her during her council campaign, with some of Miers’ responses "non-supportive" on gay rights.
Former Lesbian/Gay Political Coalition member Marc Lerro, a D.C. resident, said he recalls that Miers stated in the questionnaire that she would not support a bill to repeal the Texas sodomy law, saying the matter would not come before the Dallas City Council.
Lerro and Young said that although the group did not endorse Miers, members believed she made a positive gesture by completing the questionnaire and agreeing to meet with them.
"She was not hostile nor did she come across as some kind of right-wing ideologue," said Young, a Dallas software engineer and a member of the Business Council of the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay political group.
In Miers' meeting with members of the gay group, Lerro said Miers stated that she opposed abortion, a response that prompted the group to eliminate her from contention for obtaining the group’s endorsement.
To read Chibarro's complete piece in the Washington Blade, click here.
To read your blogstress at The American Prospect Online on why liberals should be wary of Miers, click here.
Finding herself perplexed over her failure to flog her latest piece, published yesterday by The American Prospect Online, your blogstress now gently calls her readers' attention to her scintillating argument as to why Democratic senators need to show a bit more moxie on the Miers nomination than they displayed at the Roberts hearings.Sphere: Related Content
Your blogstress opened her e-mail this morning to discover a missive from her friends at the Family Research Council (FRC)--the folks who brought us Justice Sunday--with the subject line, "Wait and See." The object of all that waiting and seeing is, of course, Harriet Miers, President Bush's pick to fill the shoes of Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court.
It appears that, so far, on this one, the right is more jittery than the left, though your cybertrix would advise her progressive pals to be less reticent. It seems that Ms. Miers' nod to the right in her acceptance remarks--that bit about the majesty of the legislative branch--did little to appease the wing-nuts.
Here's the text of today's missive from FRC President Tony Perkins:
President Bush's announced this morning that White House counsel Harriet Miers is his nominee for the Supreme Court. President Bush has long made it clear that his choices for the U.S. Supreme Court would be in the mold of current justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. We have no reason to believe he has abandoned that standard. However, our lack of knowledge about Harriet Miers, and the absence of a record on the bench, give us insufficient information from which to assess whether or not she is indeed in that mold.
In the days to come, Harriet Miers will have the chance to demonstrate a conservative judicial philosophy. We will be watching closely as the confirmation process begins, and we urge American families to wait and see if the confidence they have always placed in the President's commitment is justified by this selection.
Monday, October 03, 2005
Your blogstress does not recall having ever heard a more political acceptance speech for a Supreme Court nominee than we heard today from politician Harriet Miers.
Her comment regarding her "appreciation for the role of the legislative branch" was hardly a subtle signal to the president's right flank that she's on the same page with the Justice Sunday crowd, who would like to get the Supreme Court out of the constitutional interpretation business once and for all.
Here's the money question for Harriet Miers in her confirmation hearing: Do you believe that Marbury v. Madison--the landmark 19th-century case that determined the court's obligation to interpret the Constitution--was correctly decided?
As an occasional propagandist, your blogstress wincingly questions the president's choice of White House Counsel Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court. (Your Webwench, however, has not been named to the Supreme Court, despite her womanly wisdom. Alas, no bustier will lurk under the High Court's black robes--at least as far as we know--right, Nino?). With no judicial experience to recommend her, journos and pontificators have only Ms. Miers's political record to regard in assessing her qualifications for the high court, and it bodes not well so far--unless one is comfortable with a spin doctor on the Big Bench.
Here's Miers in an online discussion on WhiteHouse.gov, almost a year ago, back when Miers was President Bush's Deputy Chief of Staff for Domestic Policy:
James, from Mountain View, CA writes:
Are we better off now than we were four years ago?
Thanks, James, this is a very good question, and I am pleased to give you my views. What we did not know fully in January of 2001 turns out to be very important in answering your question. In January of 2001, there were problems facing the Nation that we did not fully perceive. First, as 2001 progressed we saw the stock market continue a decline that had begun in the middle of 2000 before the Bush Administration took office. We also witnessed an economy slipping further into a recession as 2001 unfolded. We also learned as time passed that corporate misbehavior in the nineties resulted in the eruption of scandals that shook the foundation of trust that we had in the strength and integrity of our economy.
And we all know that on September 11, 2001, we learned that there had been gathering dangers for the United States that would materialize in terrorist attacks that would kill innocent Americans as well as people from countries around the world and dramatically impact the economy, including tremendous loss of jobs and shock to our airlines industry.
In response to the economic problems, the President acted immediately to implement tax relief to get the economy going again. He signed into law corporate governance reforms to address the wrongdoing that had been occurring, and those reforms were the most far-reaching since President Franklin Roosevelt’ s time. The President’s optimism and faith in the American people and our economy helped inspire a remarkable recovery. Just today, we saw new statistics showing that our economy continues to grow solidly and compensation for our workers continues steady growth. Working families now keep more of their paychecks, and we are growing faster than any other among major industrialized nations.
The President responded swiftly to the attacks on September 11th. He has our country on the offensive against terrorism. American is waging a global war on terrorism with the help of many friends and allies from around the globe. The President believed it important to confront regimes that harbored or supported terrorists as well as the terrorists. And he is also confronting outlaw regimes that pursue weapons of mass destruction, and he is committed to ensuring that the terrorists do not obtain the world’s most dangerous weapons. At the same time, the President led in the creation of the Homeland Security Department and strengthening our defenses here at home. Although I am sure the President would be the first to say more needs to be done, we are a safer Nation today than we were four years ago.
Additionally, with victories in Afghanistan and in the toppling of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and other efforts around the world, we are promoting freedom and democracy in the greater Middle East as well as elsewhere. Sowing the seeds of freedom around the world brings the goal of peace for all nations ever closer. All these efforts require great resolve and sacrifice, but we are making our Nation safer and we will leave a better world for our children and grandchildren. The last four years have been in many ways difficult years, but we have accomplished a lot and as the President has said: "because we have made the hard journey, we can see the valley below. Now, because we have faced challenges with resolve, we have historic goals within our reach, and greatness in our future. We will build a safer world and a more hopeful America -- and nothing will hold us back."
So, James, as you can tell, I think we are much better off than we were four years ago. And that belief is without discussing many, many other areas where I believe great progress has been made also. For example, with the President’s effort in education and the implementation of No Child Left Behind we are seeing much needed improvement in our schools. The President and Mrs. Bush believe in the power of quality education. That is why immediately upon taking office, the President introduced a bill to improve our education system. I could go on and on, but it is time to take another question.
Check in later with your cybertrix for more on Harriet Miers.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
And so it has come to pass that John Roberts, a charming, accomplished man whose interpretation of the U.S. Constitution defers to the desires of those in authority, has been confirmed Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The vote was 78-22.
Among the senators who just voted against Judge Roberts, your blogstress especially wishes to commend Evan Bayh, who hails from the virtually red state of Indiana, where his vote is unlikely to be viewed with tolerance. Also due kudos for their nay votes are Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (Calif.). Given his strong anti-choice stance, your cybertrix found the Reid vote to be a bit of a surprise.
Due a lashing (and not that good kind) by your Webwench are, first and foremost, Senator Patrick Leahy (Vt.) of the Judiciary Committee, and both of Connecticut's senators, who all, evincing a waning of certain hormones, voted yes to a Justice Roberts. Lieberman, well, what did your écrivaine expect? The man just needs to change parties. But Dodd?! What on earth has happened to that man?
Your net-tête is, however, pleased to report that the two most excellent senators from her most excellent home state know from the Constitution. Thank you, Senators Corzine and Lautenberg, the pride of the Garden State.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
On the heels of Brownie's clueless, blame-laying testimony yesterday before Congress (just as we learned he was still on FEMA's payroll) comes the delicious indictment of one Hammer that seems not to be hangin' so happily this morning.
But before liberals commence their happy dance, it behooves us to issue a warning to our own representatives on the Hill, for your blogstress has, alas, too little confidence in the Democrats' ability to use these latest Republican setbacks to their own advantage. Though, combined with the administration's callous and inept response to Hurricane Katrina, the indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay should guarantee a Democratic takeback of Congress next year, your Webwench cautions her readers against underestimating the Democrats' lack of political fortitude and competence in embracing the Force, even when it is with them.
Given the current set of political dynamics (Republicans revealed--in detailed relief--as the corrupt, treasury-looting, Constitution-killing louts they truly are), anything short of a string of victories in 2006 will be evidence of a moral failing. For in times such as these, ineptitude truly is a moral failing. Far too much is at stake.
Monday, September 26, 2005
This Saturday evening, Washingtonians (and visitors to our fair city) can catch the incomparable J. Scales doin' her thang at the big annual hoo-ha of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Joined by a group of smokin' hot women--including the agile Genny Jam--J will be plucking the bass strings to a tasty mix of jazz, rock, neo-soul and more. (Stick a dollah in her G-string, and ya might get her to sing--a rare treat.)
Details found here. (Click!)
Louisiana's new boom town, state capital Baton Rouge, emerged from the winds and rains of Hurricane Rita without loss of life, though plenty of (tree) limbs lay at Rita's feet. You'll recall your blogstress's fears for the survivors of Katrina should Baton Rouge take a bad hit, as the Red Stick is now the staging area for virtually all the hurricane relief efforts taking place in Louisiana.
Click here for a report from the Baton Rouge Advocate by Mark Bonner, Vicki Ferstel, David Mitchell and Jessica Fender.
Friday, September 23, 2005
Sphere: Related Content
WASHINGTON, D.C.--Having recently returned from a whirlwind tour of southeastern Louisiana in its post-Katrina state, your blogstress has found it difficult to put words to the sights and smells she encountered there, and tonight proves no exception.
What your écrivaine can speak of tonight is her anxiety--not a state to which she readily admits--in examining the track of Hurricane Rita and finding Baton Rouge in its path. Though not expected to take the brunt of it, Baton Rouge is expected to receive torrents of rain.
What distinguishes the forecast for Baton Rouge from the more dire ones given the coastal cities? Baton Rouge is THE staging ground for relief efforts for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Red Cross operations are centralized there in a giant Wal-Mart warehouse. Most of the Border Patrol and CBP officers who serve as law enforcement for New Orleans sleep in Baton Rouge at night, in accomodations that are less than sturdy: RVs, an open helicopter hangar. Many FEMA folk and medical professionals are living in a tent city under an I-10 overpass. Interstate 10 is the designated danger zone for anyone who hopes to weather dear Rita.
It would be unnatural not to fear for the health and lives of the relief workers stationed in Baton Rouge. But then imagine the compounded misery if Louisiana’s state capital takes a bad hit. Who, then, will minister to the millions in already living in the region’s shelters? Right now, the supplies and the food are coming out of Baton Rouge. So are the law and order.
If you’re of the praying sort, do say one for the Red Baton.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Canal Street in New Orleans
NEW ORLEANS, LA--Your blogstress wishes that she didn't have all manner of reports to file for her pesky day job, but she promises her readers that she does indeed have tales to tell. There's no cliche that can possibly describe all the things New Orleans is now. It remains, as always, an exceptional and surreal place. Only now, not in that good way.
It's an empty city policed by troops of men in fatigues and hired guns in Blackwater caps. It smells like every bad smell you've ever encountered, all rolled up in one.
There is no music right now.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
From the incomparable J. Scales comes word of the deliverance of the members of two outstanding New Orleans bands: Zion Trinity and Mother Tongue. The members of both groups, however, have lost nearly everything, and need the help of fellow musicians and music-lovers to make it to the next phase of their recovery. To assist to Zion Trinity, buy their CD, "Eyes on Zion" (featuring the incomparable J. Scales on bass), and/or send donations to:
c/o Melody Friday
2258 Wild Turkey Court
Decatur, GA 30035
To help their colleagues in Mother Tongue (Dorise Blackmon, Michaela Harrison, and Tanya), send your contribution to:
Fundraiser for Dorise, Michaela, and Tanya
c/o E. Christi Cunningham
1335 Jefferson St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20011
Click here to purchase Mother Tongue's CD.
From a member of Zion Trinity:
September 3, 2005
Andaiye [made contact] today after many days of concern and prayer....she's dry and still at her home at 1555 Gentilly in New Orleans....she's unable to move anywhere because there are no more accommodations at the Superdome and the water level is still high where she is.......she's dry and well at home and waiting for the water to receed so she can drive out to safety - when the van dries out...Thank you for your thoughtfulness and the tremendous outpouring of love...Trisha is well in Dallas with her husband and will have the baby at the end of October ...Their area was hit the hardest, so they've lost their home, which is under 22 feet of water...My area, as i understand it, is under 15 feet of water, so I won't know my damage until I return home...
My vehicle is lost (under water) and as we all know Sister Andaiye - QUEEN OF FAITH - said her house was marked for the passover...the water only reached the porch level with no water inside.....Once I reconnect with Andaiye, Ali and Sam, we'll restart our lives in Atlanta temporarily until our precious New Orleans opens up...I am now in New Jersey with my family and will move on to Atlanta where my Friend Melody has agreed to house us..Andaiyes' mother was airlifted to a hospital in Alexandria, Louisiana, and is well. and out of ICU...
We ARE SOOOOO GRATEFUL to be alive.......life is precious ......possessions can be replaced...We will have a powerful story to tell once this is over...ZION Trinity loves everyone and we appreciate greatly all the love shown....Please continue to be in prayer for the safe return of Andaiye and her family...GOD IS SO MERCIFUL AND WE ARE BLESSED .....One in Love and Light - Sula Janet
And from the entire trio:
September 4, 2005
ZION Trinity is safe. Sula is in New Jersey with her sister and learned that Sister Andaiye and her family were airlifted out of N.O. last night (Sunday). They've arrived safely in San Antonio, Texas, and, as you know, we will not be able to return to N.O. any time soon.
We've all lost everything material but praise God for life and the safe return of our sister.
On Thursday, Oshun will fly to Atlanta where my friend, Melody, has agreed to give housing to me and mine. Andaiye will be in Plano, Texas, with her mom and family until we can meet again in Houston or another part of Texas in the coming weeks.
Trisha and Shawn will be in Houston where she will deliver her baby in five weeks. We have quite the praise story to tell and are so grateful for the love from everyone. Keep praying for us, okay? We will rebuild and have our losses replaced tenfold in Yahweh’s name!!!
One In Spirit -
sula, oshun and andaiye
The women of Mother Tongue speak to us through E. Christi Cunningham, a friend in Washington, DC. They recently put together a killer CD, “Sister,” which features a version of Jobim’s “Agua de Beber” that will just slay you. Brazilian Portuguese with a New Orleans twist. The album also includes some tasty originals, as well as more familiar pieces. The sound is a cross between Tuck and Patti, Sweet Honey and DeeDee Bridgewater. Your purchase of the CD is strongly recommended.
3 September 2005
I am writing to request monetary donations for Dorise Blackmon, Michaela Harrison, and Tanya – survivors of hurricane Katrina.
We know them now as Mother Tongue, a successful trio that has appeared on BET, at the Essence festival, and at New Orleans Jazzfest; shared the stage with artists like Meshell N’degeochello and Sweet Honey in the Rock; produced and released a debut CD entitled “Wonderwomen”; and performed in venues across the United States.
But before Mother Tongue, for more than a decade, they, individually, were active and generous participants in communities in D.C., in general, and the women’s community, in particular. Their contributions include teaching in the D.C. public schools, providing HIV/AIDS research, counseling, and education, organizing and hosting WITL poetry readings, providing entertainment at June’s Annual Black Pride Cookout and Sistah Summerfest, and offering love, advice, and laughter.
They continued to demonstrate their commitment to uplifting communities even after leaving D.C. by teaching in public schools in New York and New Orleans, teaching at an HBCU in New Orleans, organizing a conference on traditional spiritual healing practices at NYU, working with underprivileged youth, opening their homes to friends and strangers alike, and making positive music.
Now Dorise, Michaela, and Tanya need our help. Their homes were located near Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans. They lost almost every material thing in the hurricane and subsequent flooding – their houses, jobs, clothes, recording equipment, original recordings – everything.
They need financial assistance to support them immediately and in the coming months. Please help. (See address above.)
In addition, they have CDs for sale and are available for performances at social events www.mothertonguemusic.net
Your blogstress’s new friend, Wilson Kolb of Seattle, has begun a blog, WillieSnout, chronicling his experience “adopting” a married couple who evacuated New Orleans.
This article by Dr. Red Head really hit home. I am here in Seattle and as of last Friday I am one of those well-meaning people who has paid the rent on an apartment for a displaced family of fellow Americans made homeless by the storm. Even before reading her article I had been thinking about the issues Doc Redhead raised and, boy, could I ever use some practical ideas. Meantime, I'm making it up as I go along, and am hoping that a lot of caring and some common sense will get us through.
This is a family of five who made it up here in their car. I only met two of them, a husband and wife who I'd say are in their mid-40s. I had learned about them through an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and met them at the Central Area Motivation Project (CAMP), which specializes in helping low-income black folks here. I had never heard of CAMP, but I called them to ask what was being done for their housing. I wound up offering to pay their rent for a couple months.
Click here to read more on WillieSnout
Your blogstress asks her readers' forbearance in chaotic times. A family emergency and frenetic activity at her pesky day job have interfered with your ecrivaine's blogging, and in the interim, she has received many interesting pieces from readers that she has yet to post. Don't give up on the cybertrix--not you, Leigh, nor Wilson Kolb nor the incomparable J. Scales. Your net-tete will do yas right--really.
Tomorrow, your Webwench departs for Baton Rouge. Posting may be sporadic.
Well, here’s one way that his administration’s abject failure--its criminal negligence--in its lack of response to the nation’s most devastating disaster is working for it: the president promises that the next time disaster strikes, the federal government will simply take over, with a “much greater role for the armed forces.”Sphere: Related Content
While the president focused his speech on what needs to happen to rebuild the Gulf Coast, he said precious little about the disaspora of Louisianans and Mississippians now dispersed throught the lower 48. Today, the city of Dallas announced it was sick of waiting for the feds to deal with the thousands of evacuees they’re housing in a convention center and an arena, so they’re raising money from private sources to get these folks situated in Dallas apartments.
Is it fair to leave this massive undertaking to the efforts of a municipal government? Is it smart? How long before the people of the suburbs and the inner cities begin to resent the newcomers?
Okay, your cybertrix is calming down a bit--at least enough to grock that the president has pledged a lot of dollars and efforts to rebuilding lives and real estate in the Gulf Coast region. Amen to that. And he has admitted that discrimination causes poverty (though he did seem to imply that it was the discrimination of the bad old days that caused the poverty endemic among African-Americans in the South), not that it exists today, n'est-ce pas?Sphere: Related Content
Your blogstress is willing to bet that George W. Bush wouldn't know John Coltrane from Gary Coleman. Hence her outrage at the closing lines of the president's speech tonight. Invoking the funerals given for jazz musicians in New Orleans, he spoke condescendingly of the joyful strains played by the living on their return from the cemetary--after playing a mournful dirge on the walk between church and grave. New Orleans is still in the dirge phase, he said, but the joy is just around the corner. Yeah, right.Sphere: Related Content
“This is an unprecedented response to an unprecedented disaster,” so the president just said in his address to the nation on the disaster called Katrina. He cited a litiany of efforts and supplies, measured in tons and dollars and numbers of staff, to demonstrate the breadth of his administration’s response.
It is actually amazing that he is touting his response without apology up top, without recognition of his failure.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
With the nation drowning in the endless tale of Katrina, the disaster that didn't have to happen, it's easy to forget that the Senate is presently going through the motions of advising the president on his pick for Supreme Court Chief Justice. Herewith, your blogstress's latest opinionating at The American Prospect Online on that very subject.Sphere: Related Content
From your blogstress's favorite pen-pal, Studley Do-Right at Delusional Duck, comes this little gem:
Commanders Ordered Not To Fire Gays Until War's End
Santa Barbara, California--Scholars studying military personnel policy have discovered a document halting the discharge of gay soldiers in units that are about to be mobilized.
From your blogstress's homegirl radio station in Newark, New Jersey, comes this story on the Web site of WBGO-FM, perhaps the best jazz station in the world:
Dr. Critty Hymes has been a staff physician with the Charity Hospital in New Orleans for the past 27 years.
She evacuated the city early Sunday morning just before the storm hit. From a family members home in Houston she watched in horror as her home town filled with water and thousands of people were left to fend for themselves.
"I know a lot of these people were my patients from Charity Hospital."
As soon as evacuees were bused to the Astrodome, she went with her medical credentials to volunteer and was stunned to be turned away at the door.
"I'm a doctor. I have 27 years of experence in OBGYN and all I wanted to do was help."
After visiting the Red Cross, entering her name and credientials on an internet medical volunteer database and getting a call from officials at the Astrodome , she has yet to be given the green light to give medical aid to those so desperately in need.
© 2005 WBGO News
Oh, and here's the story of tons of ice with nowhere to go, from Woody Baird of the Associated Press via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
About 200 tractor-trailer trucks with ice and water for victims of Hurricane Katrina took a convoluted, weeklong trip to a storage depot in Memphis, partly because of what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers called "miscommunication."
The drivers were sent to cities that didn't end up needing water or ice and were final directed to Memphis, said Corps spokesman Bob Anderson.
"They're in the right place now," Anderson said Monday.
Monday, September 12, 2005
Sphere: Related Content
Media hit by grain of truth.
Thanks to St. Jacques du Fenway for sending along the image, and to the chiron tech who wrote the screen caption for Sky News.
If you can't see the image, right-click your mouse and click "Show picture."
Friday, September 09, 2005
From your blogstress's dear friend, Spirit Guide, comes this first-hand account from a clinical psychologist who has been working as a volunteer with evacuees housed in the Dallas Reunion Arena and the Dallas Civic Center. Until permission is received to call her by name, she will be known on this site as "Dr. Red Head".
Your écrivaine here posts only snippets of her missive, so long and harrowing it is to read in its entirety. For the whole account, click here.
Among the most mortifying aspects of Dr. Red Head's story is her tale of jockeying for position among medical professional assigned to work with the evacuees:
Turf wars have already sprung up. In the name of "I know better than you do," chaos and wasted energy are multiplying. The Red Cross was initially in charge of certifying the credentials of the helping therapists. After Oklahoma City and the pretenders who arrived there, this seemed like a wonderful clearing house.
Everyone who wanted to help had to go through a brief orientation and a thorough checking of credentials. Only licensed professionals were allowed. Driver's licenses were checked for criminal records. This seemed to be a common sense excellent approach to the question of rapists, pedophiles, and other thugs being denied access to a vulnerable population.
Actually, things ran better than I expected at the beginning. Then in came the physicians who I guess felt that their non-existent coursework in this area qualified them to better run things. Immediate chaos, disorganization, and all sorts of ersatz "helpers" began running around. They grabbed our current Red Cross badges and then stopped us from going back on the floor to finish seeing our patients without the new badges, which they just happened to be out of.
We had an optometrist with prescriptive lenses but no glasses or
readers and no idea when he'd ever see any. We had a deaf booth but no
deaf helpers. In the midst of all this chaos, thousands and thousands
of the walking wounded mixing with the powerless well-intentioned came the whispered word, pandemic. Lots of people are suddenly getting sick, and we have to have precautions. Don't eat or drink or touch the patients.
We only have one bottle of disinfectant in the mental health section,
so have to come back here--the length of the Convention Center--
after each patient.
"What of the people who are being cycled out of here?" "What are we
sending into the population?" If people are sick and contagious, where
are the precautions to separate the vulnerable? What of precautions
such as masks and gloves to keep the medical professionals and first
responders safe? All the here and now is suspended in the hope that
maybe tomorrow will take care of itself and the worst won't happen.
Those are the question we asked on the first day. NO ONE IS IN
Therefore, there is no consistent answer or approach or forethought. I am no infection guru but as soon as I heard on day one that people with no water were forced to drink water with bloated bodies, feces, and rats in it, the thought of cholera, typhoid, and delayed disease immediately occurred to me. What if the fears of disease are correct? People are fanning out throughout America. Where is the CDC?
The convention centers have no bathing facilities so the filth and skin reactions are getting worse. What of lice? There are no clothes for the really heavy and large. I was reduced to writing the women I knew who went to Weight Watchers to comb their attics for "before" outfits. When I arrived with the sack of my gatherings, I had to engage in a full-scale battle and puff myself up to all my red-headed doctor fury to get them distributed to the women still sitting there in their stinking clothes.
Red Hed finds herself incredulous at the lack of resources provided by the homeland security honchos:
Finally, to hell with this "no blame game." The stories that I know to be true are enough to make me boil. The compassionate foreign doctors who can't find anyone to validate their credentials, the expensive mobile hospital still sitting parked waiting for federal paperwork to move into Louisiana, the five C130s sitting on the Tarmac in San Diego since the night of Katrina, still waiting for orders to move. Where the hell are the beds? We have some old people sleeping on hot plastic pool floats with no sheets. They are still no showers for people who have walked for hours through fetid waters. Their skin is breaking out in rashes. Still no showers. Where the hell are the DeCon showers bought with Homeland Security money that can shower 30 people at a time?
Despite all the reports of government ineptitude running through the mainstream media, Red Head rightly points out that the broadcast folk are short-shrifting the mental-health impact of this diaspora on the country as a whole, all the while seeking out the feel-good stories that will easy the soul of a troubled nation:
I am sure that there is a special ring of hell for the media: The survivor stories end-on-end for the titillation of the public. I heard Soledad O'Brien say something about the still unrecognized need to address the psychological trauma. I sent a response to the CNN tip-line that there were hordes of every manner of mental health professional working 24/7. CNN's response? Dr. Phil and the stories of the survivors" on Larry King. They went to the guy who lost his clinical license for serious professional infractions to tell the stories? I could see the "entertainer" down there gathering tales of the already exploited so that he and Larry could both pimp their ratings. The real unsung mental health heroes, the counselors, psychologists, social workers and psychiatrists dealing with un-medicated psychosis and severe traumatic responses were represented by Dr. "Keep-It-Real"? We don't need tabloid help from the media.
Scream about accountability and point fingers for those who can't. Where is the real help from the media? Help us find those babies and parents and missing family. We have a man in one of the shelters who is caring for four kids. They call him uncle. He is actually the cousin of the fiancé of the mother who is probably dead. The children are silent. They sit and play and weep with open mouths that can't scream. Where are the media to scream for them?
And finally, your cyberscribe here excerpts Red Head's ruminations on the "let-them-eat-cake" attitude of the mismanagers who created the nonsystem meant to locate the missing:
In the age of computers, we are doing worse than the pencil squibs and the rolls of paper to log in the displaced after World War II. Literacy and computer access seems to be considered as a given for people who have lost it all. Accessing FEMA is through a website. People are in shelters waiting for FEMA to come "in a few days." "Be patient." The Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana pumped my hand and replied to my desperate queries about how to help people find their parents and babies, "Be patient--give us a few days."
The mothers who have lost their children, and there are many, and the
children who have lost their parents, have had it with the "be patient"response. The shelters are surprisingly silent. It is hard to find the traumatized mothers because they cry silently. One mother asked how patient I would be if my five-month-old was somewhere unknown for over a week. Over and over, others would ask," Do you think my baby has milk and diapers?" "Do you think they are being kind to my baby?" And then, so softly that I would have to ask them to repeat, "Do you think my baby is okay?" My response--the convenient lie. Every time I said, "of course"; I prayed to God that it was true.
For Red Head's complete missive, click here.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Among the many inexplicable hold-ups, tie-ups, and frig-ups committed by incompetent government responding to Hurricane Katrina comes this report, as shown on Tuesday's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, from NBC's Lisa Myers, on the contribution of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to the boondoggled evacuation of New Orleans.
MYERS: One huge bottleneck in the evacuation, the New Orleans Airport.
(on camera): Officials say flights were delayed while screeners and air marshals were flown in to comply with post-9/11 security requirements and then further delayed because screening machines were not working. Finally, someone at Homeland Security signed an order to allow evacuees to be screened by hand.
What makes this all the more remarkable is the decision, made just a week or so before the storm, to change TSA guidelines to allow a range of small weaponry aboard passenger aircraft. In the Washington Post, Sarah Kehaulani Goo reported:
An agency panel has recommended allowing passengers to bring knives and scissors less than 5 inches long aboard airplanes, as well as ice picks, throwing stars, and bows and arrows...Officials familiar with the plans say the TSA's new leader, Edmund S. "Kip" Hawley, and other top security officials are no longer as concerned about another Sept. 11-style hijacking as they are about other threats, such as suicide bombers boarding airplanes.
In a fit of elation, your blogstress confided to her friend, Mr. Furley, her delight in being able to return her throwing star to her cosmetic kit.
Not so fast, said Mr. Furley, explaining that even without a throwing star--or any other dangerous or contraband item--in one's bag, TSA can easily find a reason to give one the full Checkpoint-Charlie treatment. He writes:
When I returned on my ever so eventful journey from California, I was given a boarding pass with “SSSS” at the bottom. I was happy: after a night of poker, a man likes to see four of any kind. My happiness was short-lived, as I remembered hearing this was the “random” search code.
I aborted my plan to hijack a plane. (It was going to Vegas anyhow; why would I want to divert this flight to anywhere else?) So I got the full shakedown... I sat next to senior citizen who was also given the dreaded SSSS by the new SS troops.
I think the government should be responsible for preventing the large-scale terrorist attacks like nukes, smallpox, and Mariah Carey
diva-meltdowns that shut down our vast tabloid TV networks. The little stuff like plane-jackings--I would prefer that the public take care of this. I want to kick some terrorist ass, too...
If, however, public intervention and participation is a part of the larger scheme of Homeland Defense, I demand that all passengers get a weapon of their choice, with only business class getting gun-power-based systems, and coach getting police clubs or large MagLight flashlights.
Armed passengers notwithstanding, Mr. Furley offers an even simpler solution to those long lines at the passenger screening stations:
I recommend that everyone travel naked. My friends’ kids...have these backpacks that we love: they are see-thru vinyl, typically with Dora the Explorer or the Wiggles emblazoned. I assume this is so that if they are packing guns, the parents can be fully informed.
Think of how mandatory clear backpacks would make those encounters at the Israel-Palestine border so much more festive.
I once thought the future of air travel was gravity-defying cold-fusion powered hovercraft trickled down so that Everyman could travel like Buck Rogers. Now our only hope is Nude Travel with Clear Vinyl Packbacks.
On a good note, I understand W has declared war on all hurricanes that affect Red States. I feel safer already.
Well, thinks your Webwench, nude travel in America would certainly justify the absence of in-flight food service. (However, any girl lucky enough to travel al fresco with Mr. Furley might be in for quite a treat.)
Short of the knock-knock jokes told by a brilliant five-year-old who goes by the handle, Fire Dragon, your cybertrix's favorite form of funny is the ubiquitous light bulb joke.
From our friend Bassman, via the Fabulous Frankie G. (your blogstress's partner in musical crimes), comes this latest shot 'round the internet:
How many members of the Bush administration does it take to change a light bulb?
> 1. One to deny that a light bulb needs to be changed
> 2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says the light bulb
> needs to be changed
> 3. One to blame Clinton for burning out the light bulb
> 4. One to arrange the invasion of a country rumored to have a secret stockpile of light bulbs
> 5. One to give a billion dollar, no-bid contract to Halliburton for
> the new light bulb
> 6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a janitor,
> standing on a step ladder under the banner: Light Bulb Change
> 7. One administration insider to resign and write a book documenting in detail how Bush was literally in the dark
> 8. One insider to viciously smear #7
> 9. One surrogate to campaign on TV and at rallies on how George Bush has had a strong light-bulb-changing policy all along
> 10. And finally, one to confuse Americans about the difference
> between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
From the Fabulous Frankie G., your blogstress's partner in musical crimes, comes this thought:
The great state of Texas; The land of MILLIONS and MILLIONS of acres of luxury "ranchions" (ranch-mansions), and they cannot take in any more refugees from Louisiana.
Perhaps they're thinking, who needs African-Americans when you've got Mexicans (who work much more cheaply)?
Yes, there is more going on in the world than the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but your blogstress finds it difficult to focus on anything else, for nothing illustrates the dire straits in which the whole nation finds itself better than the administration's callous and craven response to this disaster. As the water recedes, along with the bodies of New Orleans' beloved, perhaps the American people will find themselves staring the corpse of their own republic in the face.
Note to the American people: This is not your country. It belongs to to the corporations and their largest shareholders. You pay the freight for the pleasure of living under their hand.
And the saddest part of all this? This is still one of the best places to live on earth. So imagine the hell lived by far too many of the earth's people, all for the beast's feeding pleasure.
In today's Washington Post, we find an amazing piece by Elizabeth Williamson that tells of aid offers ignored by the administration--for things desperately needed, like the water purification system offered by Sweden. (Geez, fellas, might that interfere with giving our corporate cronies a set-aside, no-bid contract for water purification?)
Soon after the flooding, the government of Sweden offered a C-130 Hercules transport plane, loaded with water purification equipment, and a cellular network donated by Ericsson.
Offers of foreign aid worth tens of millions of dollars -- including a Swedish water purification system, a German cellular telephone network and two Canadian rescue ships -- have been delayed for days awaiting review by backlogged federal agencies, according to European diplomats and information collected by the State Department.
Maybe it's the cell-phone network the administration doesn't want the emergency workers in New Orleans to have. You'll recall that the feds cut the emergency lines in Jackson Parish last week, leaving the parish president no choice but to place sheriffs along the infrastructure, in order to protect the people's phones from the federal insurgency.
Williamson goes on to report on the frustration of many in the international aid community who desperately want to help the drowning, starving and ailing black people of New Orleans, only to be turned away by an arrogant Caucasian-centric administration that chants a mantra, "We'll do it ourselves."
In an open letter released yesterday, though, Ambassador John Bruton, head of the Delegation of the European Commission to the United States, wrote:
"Perhaps one of those lessons will be that rugged individualism is not always enough in such a crisis, particularly if an individual does not have the material and psychological means to escape the fury of a hurricane in time."
Now don't get your Webwench wrong; she's big on the rugged individualism thing (though, in her case, it's more like silky-smooth, highly exfoliated individualism). But when she finds herself in trouble, she's mighty grateful to be part of a clan of willful, capable people who tend to show up en masse when called for. (Thanks, Ma. Thanks, Dad. Merci beaucoup, mes frères. Gracias, cousins, aunties, second cousins, nieces, nephews, grand-nephews. You dig?)
In the family of your cybertrix, dysfunctional though it may sometimes be, "family" includes anyone related by blood, marriage, adoption, or by just having hung around for awhile. Consequently, like America, we're a pretty multicultural lot. We speak a bunch of languages, and we can't all speak each other's mother tongues. But screw with one of us, and you'd better be ready to deal with all of us--white, brown, yellow, Catholic, Protestant, Jew, Buddhist, agnostic. We didn't start out particularly enlightened on such matters, but life kept mixing us up with "others," creating a collective US, and there you have it.
As the cognitive linguist George Lakoff has noted, America likes to think of itself as a family. Problem is, in the family of America, dad seems to have his favorites and his disinherited. Here's Jimmy Breslin, writing this weekend in Newsday:
Friday, showing up on the fifth day of a national tragedy, Bush made a little humorous aside about the times he was in New Orleans celebrating too much. Beautiful! If he tried to walk fifty yards he could have tripped over somebody's dead black grandmother under a blanket.
How do you like it? How do you like having a president who at a time like this reminisces about getting drunk in New Orleans? White boy with Daddy's money roaring at Mardi Gras in a town black for the rest of the year.
If whites were in trouble in New Orleans, trust that his government would have been there early and the aid massive.
Many thanks to our friend, St. Jacques du Fenway, for sending the Breslin piece along.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
WASHINGTON, D.C.--If anyone had any doubt of the deep corruption and criminality of the Bush administration, your blogstress suggests that the reader consider this series of news stories in combination:
Red Cross Turned Away from New Orleans
FEMA turns back water trucks, diesel fuel; cuts emergency communications lines, says Jefferson Parish president
Halliburton gets Katrina contract, hires former FEMA director
Houston Finds Business Boon After Katrina
Brown pushed from last job: Horse group: FEMA chief had to be `asked to resign'
Via Evan Derkacz at AlterNet’s blogs, we learn of the American Red Cross being turned away from the devastated birthplace of jazz, a city awash in bodies, water-borne disease and stranded people still clinging to life. Here, direct from the Red Cross’s own Web site, we find this under the headline, Hurricane Katrina: Why is the Red Cross not in New Orleans?
* Access to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders.
* 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.
On this weekend’s "Meet the Press," Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard offered breathtaking testimony of betrayal by the federal government:
We had Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of water, trailer trucks of water. FEMA turned them back. They said we didn't need them. This was a week ago. FEMA--we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. The Coast Guard said, "Come get the fuel right away." When we got there with our trucks, they got a word. "FEMA says don't give you the fuel."
Yesterday--yesterday--FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards on our line and says, "No one is getting near these lines." Sheriff Harry Lee said that if America--American government would have responded like Wal-Mart has responded, we wouldn't be in this crisis.
Broussard then offered a simple recipe for the future: restore FEMA to the status and efficiency it enjoyed under the Clinton administration and then-FEMA Director James Lee Witt. Oh, yeah, and get the priorities straight: lives over property. Broussard asserted:
Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area, and bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now. It's so obvious. FEMA needs more congressional funding. It needs more presidential support. It needs to be a Cabinet-level director...Forget about the property. We can rebuild the property. It's got to be able to come in and save lives.
As several bloggers have reminded us, the demise of FEMA under the Bush administration is a screaming example of the agenda advocated by Bush-booster Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform. A famous quote of Norquist’s has taken on enhanced meaning as television viewers hear countless references to New Orleans as a “bathtub”:
“My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”
As FEMA officials and the National Guard turn away relief supplies and medical help from New Orleans, Halliburton, not long ago the charge of CEO Dick Cheney, has won itself a contract to repair naval installations damaged by Katrina. How long ya wanna bet that they’ll soon be racking up civic contracts for gasoline line repair and the like?
From Halliburton Watch* comes this:
In March, the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is tasked with responding to hurricane disasters, became a lobbyist for KBR [Kellogg, Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary]. Joe Allbaugh was director of FEMA during the first two years of the Bush administration.
Today, FEMA is widely criticized for its slow response to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Allbaugh managed Bush's campaign for Texas governor in 1994, served as Gov. Bush's chief of staff and was the national campaign manager for the Bush campaign in 2000. Along with Karen Hughes and Karl Rove, Allbaugh was one of Bush's closest advisers.
Allbaugh is also the guy who hired the current FEMA director, Michael Brown, an apparently hapless manager who, unlike Clinton’s FEMA guy, James Lee Witt, has no emergency management experience. Kudos to Brett Arends of the Boston Herald, who brought into public view the ignominious circumstances by which Brown became available to take his first position at FEMA:
The federal official in charge of the bungled New Orleans rescue was fired from his last private-sector job overseeing horse shows.
And before joining the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a deputy director in 2001, GOP activist Mike Brown had no significant experience that would have qualified him for the position.
The Oklahoman got the job through an old college friend who at the time was heading up FEMA.
Finally, we learn that that president’s pals in Houston are already rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of a boon set to come their way, thanks to the demise of the crescent city. Especially delicious is the context, given in this piece by Simon Romero of the New York Times (with reporting by Damon Darlin and Maureen Balleza), for Houston’s current travails, thanks to a little operation called Enron, one of the major funders of George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential election:
A surge of business activity in Houston this time around might lift the fortunes of a city that is still struggling to recover from the collapse of Enron and two decades of job cuts in the energy industry, which has shrunk as production of oil in Texas and the United States has declined.
"I always hate to talk about positives in a situation like this, but this is certainly a growth business over the next 6 to 12 months," said Geoffrey M. Hertel, Tetra [Technology]’s chief executive. By Friday, Tetra had been able to send an 800-ton barge it owns, the Arapaho, to the gulf to be used for platform repairs, Mr. Hertel said.
Looks like Vice President Dick Cheney (a CEO hereafter to be known, as in the tradition of CEO Trump, as "the Dick") is going to have to buy his buddies a big ol’ set of carpet bags.
NOTE: HalliburtonWatch.org is a project of Essential Information, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, and the Center for Corporate Policy, a nonprofit, non-partisan organization working to stop corporate threats to democracy.Sphere: Related Content
Monday, September 05, 2005
Sunday, September 04, 2005
WESTFIELD, N.J.--Tonight as your blogstress ponders news of the death of William Rehnquist, chief justice of the Supreme Court, she finds it difficult to avoid stumbling on the possibility that the apocalypse may just be at hand. On the heels of the destruction of the Gulf Coast and the administration's callous response--or virtual lack thereof--the political dynamic is itself one of chaotic and unpredictable outcomes. The currents are swirling against each other, and who knows what may emerge from the chiascoros.
The incomparable J. Scales writes of a musician friend still stranded in her New Orleans home, awaiting rescue. Her name is Andaiye, member of Zion Trinity, to which J. has lent her trademark basslines. J. is still awaiting word of another member of the group.
Your Webwench's new friend, Mr. Furley, has recommended some somber listening that has now become your écrivaine's soundtrack for this challenging time--two tracks by Bob Marley: "Natural Mystic" and "Exodus". Indeed, while the first is a virtually existential poem, your cybertrix has found an odd calm in its message that pain is a part of life.
Mr. Furley also reminds us that Americans could stand to learn a thing from the people of Bangladesh, who experience devastation by flood with great regularity.
For a second time, our arrogance has yielded us inept and hysterical. After 9-11, we cried that we never believed it could happen here--thousands killed by a premeditated act of malice and display of force.
Why, though, should we have ever thought that anything of the sort shouldn't happen here, when we've been mucking around the world, encouraging other countries to screw their own people for some time now? Sooner or later, some bad actor was destined to use that as an excuse to show us what's what. In an age when genocide is all the rage, why should our innocents rank higher than the people of Darfur or Cambodia?
And why on earth should we think that, somehow, our vast expanse of national real estate should be spared the sort of eschatological natural disasters that the rest of the world weathers as a matter of course? Just who the hell do we think we are? Better than everybody else? Children of a greater God?
Earlier this week, Chris Matthews explained, on MSNBC's "Hardball", said that the Bush-père/Clinton team were up to something a little something different with their New Orleans relief effort than they were for the tsunami victims. "This time, they're helping out Americans, not just people in Asia," Matthews said with incredulity.
Not just Asians. Disaster--not just for Asians anymore.
Friday, September 02, 2005
Via DavidCorn.com we learn of possible collusion between Bush's FEMA and the religious right:
The website sploid.com noticed that FEMA (which has been decimated by the Bush administration) has been directing concerned Americans to make Hurricane Katrina relief donations to Pat Robertson's Operation Blessing. At one point, Robertson's outfit was listed second on a list of suggested recipients, right under the Red Cross. I doubt Hugo Chavez will be clicking on that link. And maybe if the Mafia sets up a relief organization, FEMA will endorse it as well.
For those of her readers perplexed by the slow response of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to the disaster on the Gulf Coast, your blogstress suggests a look at a prescient piece of journalism done nearly a year ago by Jon Elliston in the Orlando Weekly. In his article, Disaster in the Making, Elliston reported:
[L]ong before this hurricane season, some emergency managers inside and outside of government started sounding an alarm that still rings loudly. Bush administration policy changes and budget cuts, they say, are sapping FEMA's long-term ability to cushion the blow of hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, tornados, wildfires and other natural disasters.
Among emergency specialists, "mitigation" – measures taken in advance to minimize damage caused by natural disasters – is a crucial part of the strategy to save lives and cut recovery costs. But since 2001, key federal disaster mitigation programs, developed over many years, have been slashed and tossed aside. FEMA's Project Impact, a model mitigation program created under Clinton, has been canceled outright. Federal funding of post-disaster mitigation efforts designed to protect people and property from the next disaster has been cut in half, and now, communities across the country must compete for pre-disaster mitigation dollars.
On Bella Ciao, Chris Sal posts a number of snips with informative links, including this from the Elliston piece as it ran in the Gambit Weekly at The Best of New Orleans on September 29, 2004:
[Walter] Maestri [director of Jefferson Parish’s Office of Emergency Management] is still awaiting word from FEMA officials as to why Louisiana, despite being called the "floodplain of the nation" in a 2002 FEMA report, received no disaster mitigation grant money from FEMA in 2003 ("Homeland Insecurity," Sept. 28). Maestri says the rejection left emergency officials around the state "flabbergasted."
Thursday, September 01, 2005
Although there is no shortage of Bush administraton shenanigans on which to report, your blogstress finds it impossible to do in the wake of Katrina's gruesome destruction of the birthplace of jazz.
Jazz is not just a form of music, it's a kind of people--of which the people of New Orleans are the progenitor. People descended from a blend of Yoruban Africans and American Indians--with a dash of French European--gave us our national classical music, however neglected and unappreciated by its nation it may be.
Today those people are drowning in the neglect of a government that looked away from their imminent doom, just as it has turned its back on nurturing the art form their ancestors gave us.
Shame on us--all of us. And let the dirge begin.
Monday, August 29, 2005
Your blogstress was much amused to find yet another reference to her American Prospect piece on John Roberts, this time by the eminent scholar George Weigel on a Web site called Tidings. Weigel writes:
Shortly after Judge Roberts' nomination, President Bush was accused of "playing the Catholic card" in an opinion piece widely circulated in the blogosphere. "Playing the Catholic card" is, to be frank, either a vulgar appeal to ancient prejudices or code-language for "someone who can't be trusted to take Planned Parenthood's position on abortion."
Well, Mr. Weigel, if you're going to bandy about accusations of vulgarity, it is only fair to credit the blogstress with her craft.
Another curiosity of Weigel's piece, written in the form of "An open letter to Patrick Leahy" (the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee), is his apparent lifting of central argument from a press statement issued by the far less eloquent William Donohue of the Catholic League, the first to tar your favorite bad Catholic girl as an anti-Catholic bigot. Here's Donohue:
"Now let's apply this logic to President Clinton's selection of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Steven Breyer for the Supreme Court. Did he do so because he liked 'Playing the Jewish card'? And did he do so because he wanted his critics to be seen as anti-Semites?
Consider what would have happened if, after nominating Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer to the Supreme Court, President Clinton had been accused of "playing the Jewish card"? Suppose the Associated Press had run a news story in these terms: "Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Jew, once wrote an ACLU legal brief on the constitutional status of Roe v. Wade"? There would have been outrage, and it would have been wholly justified.
Your blogstress notes that gentlemanly Mr. Weigel sits on the Catholic League's board of advisors. Could it be that is he who supplies the words that spew forth from the mouth of the most intemperate Mr. Donohue?
While your blogstress was dallying in her summer doldrums, all manner of remarkable developments have occurred without her sage comment. Truth be told, your Webwench seems to be suffering some form of outrage fatigue. Happenings which, under any other administration but Bush II, would have elicited great hue and cry, are met with a wimper by your cybertrix, who has been known to mutter, "Well, that's just what they do."
How else to explain the failure of your net-tête to note, last week, the reported firing of a career employee of the Justice Department for daring to challenge the demands of higher-ups to downplay a study that revealed aggressive police tactics used against black and latino drivers? Here, the New York Times' Eric Licthblau reports:
The demotion of the official, Lawrence A. Greenfeld, whom President Bush named in 2001 to lead the Bureau of Justice Statistics, caps more than three years of simmering tensions over charges of political interference at the agency. And it has stirred anger and tumult among many Justice Department statisticians, who say their independence in analyzing important law enforcement data has been compromised.
Today, Times reporter Erik Eckholm tells of the plight of an Army contracting official who dared to question a no-bid deal for Vice President Cheney's former employer:
A top Army contracting official who criticized a large, noncompetitive contract with the Halliburton Company for work in Iraq was demoted Saturday for what the Army called poor job performance.
The official, Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, has worked in military procurement for 20 years and for the past several years had been the chief overseer of contracts at the Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that has managed much of the reconstruction work in Iraq.
Kindly pass the scissors and straight pins. Your écrivaine knows a pattern when she sees one.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Your blogstress is, admittedly, a few days late bringing the latest antics of her co-religionists on the right to her readers' attention. From your Webwench's dear friend, St. Jacques du Fenway, we learn of an attack by right-wing Catholics on faculty at Catholic Colleges who appear not to be toeing the line. On Wednesday, Ralph Ranalli and Michael Kranish of the Boston Globe wrote:
A conservative Catholic group billing itself as a "movement to rescue Catholic higher education" has called for the ouster of three Boston College professors who it says supported removing the feeding tube of Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman whose parents fought to keep her alive.
A spokesman for Boston College, Jack Dunn, issued a statement criticizing the group, saying, ''The publicity-seeking rhetoric and unfounded accusations of the Cardinal Newman Society are a disservice to Catholic colleges and universities and the church that they proudly serve."
From Connecticut, your écrivaine's closest advisor, Force of Nature, tells of a similar attack on faculty at Fairfield University, also a Jesuit institution.
From your blogstress' new friend, Caesarshead, comes this:
Subj: Revelation: Put it on a bumper sticker
Jesus is a Liberal
Actually, La Tête du Caesar has a point. Jesus counted women among his disciples, never said a word against homosexuality and intervened against the death penalty (stoning of the adulteress)--not to mention all of that stuff about the poor.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Just up on The American Prospect Online is your blogstress' latest take on last weekend's right-wing hatefest, Justice Sunday II.
Here, your cybertrix calls on Democrats to craft a bill for a constitutional amendment that would create an explicit right to privacy. How fun it would be to watch righties vote "no" on what the American people think is a God-given right.
Monday, August 15, 2005
NASHVILLE, TENN.—-The discipline was dazzling--everybody on the same page. The usual rhetoric was deployed--the railing against "activist judges," waxings on the "originial intent" of the Constitution’s framers; abortion defined as baby-killing; the horror of "homosexual sodomy." It was a typical assemblage of speakers for a right-wing confab: 10 men, 2 women, all but one of them white. As usual, a couple of right-wing Catholics made common cause with right-wing Protestant evangelicals. Yet, for all that, this second incarnation of the Family Research Council’s second "Justice Sunday" simulcast fell a bit flat.
Perhaps it was the lack of zealous enthusiasm for the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court, most probably due to the revelation that, while in private practice, Judge Roberts did pro bono work on behalf of gay rights activists who ultimately prevailed in overturning an anti-gay Colorado statute passed through referendum, a pet project of James Dobson, eminence of the Focus on the Family media empire. In fact, though Dobson, appearing in the sanctuary of Nashville’s Two Rivers Baptist Church via videotape, called upon the assembled to support the Roberts nomination, his description of the nominee indicated only tentative support.
"It looks like Judge Roberts is a strict constructionist," Dobson said. "For now, at least, he looks good."
(In truth, Roberts’ work suggests a consistent lack of philosophy--constructionist or otherwise--in favor of a sort of elitist pragmatism.)
Without a hint of irony, Dobson apologized for not attending the gathering in person, as expected, explaining the he and his wife were away on a brief trip--to France. Minutes later, he accused the Supreme Court of falling under the influence of European leftists, and described the High Court as an oligarchy.
Last night’s "Justice Sunday II: God Save the United States and This Honorable Court" was a follow-up to the infamous simulcast gathering in April at which Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist made a splash, when, after having failed to make a federal case out of the plight of Terri Schiavo, the brain-dead woman whose husband wished to remove her feeding tube against her parents’ wishes, he addressed the crowd that had gathered to, in the words of its own subtitle, stop "the filibuster against people of faith." Like the first Justice Sunday, this one was held in a megachurch whose sanctuary more resembles a television studio than a traditional house of worship; indeed, throughout the program, a television camera on a crane swung around center stage, and then out to the audience, all for the benefit of the dozens of churches nationwide whose congregants gathered to watch the event as a closed television broadcast.
Before the broadcast commenced, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, an offshoot of the Dobson empire, instructed the congregants on their appearance before the cameras. TV viewers, he said, were going to "gauge how this is going based on you.” So they were told to clap often and respond enthusiastically to the speakers. "When they say a joke," Perkins added, "even if it’s not funny, laugh--especially if it’s me."
With Bill Frist having recently flip-flopped on support for embryonic stem-cell research, the majority leader was not invited for round two, leaving man of faith Tom DeLay, House majority whip, with the responsibility of representing the apparently beleaguered legislative branch. Speaker after speaker asserted that the judiciary has consistently usurped the power of the legislative branch, which is entrusted with the making of law. Several even questioned the very constitutionality of judicial review--the power of the Supreme Court to review laws passed by Congress and state legislatures to determine if they pass constitutional muster.
Tom DeLay made what may count as his most sedate public appearance, calling, in measured tones, for an end to all that legislating from the bench. (No mention of putting contracts out on judges.) He spoke of a judiciary grown all-powerful, and called for a return to what he called "balance," which presumably means having all three branches of government dominated by a single party. "Without balances," he said, "there can be no checks." And we all know how much checks mean to Mr. DeLay.
A rant of resentment
While most of the speakers seemed tightly scripted, William Donohue of the Catholic League issued his customary, stream-of-consciousness rant of resentment against all who take issue with him, adding fire to the evening’s overarching theme: the persecution of God’s people by the godless Court which is, in turn, supported by a mighty, godless left-wing political powerhouse.
Warning liberals of the change that awaits them at the hands of God-fearing folk, Donohue snidely suggested that his side provide liberals with counselors to help them through the great change. "We respect the fact that they don’t believe in anything," he said. Because that lack of belief precludes the use of priests or rabbis, he went on, "we’re going to send them grief counselors" to "hold their hands."
One of only two speakers who uttered the name of John Roberts, Donohue singled out for special criticism several individuals who had dared to wonder aloud about the potential implications of Roberts’ strongly held conservative Catholic beliefs. Of Mario Cuomo, who discussed just that on a recent edition of "Meet the Press," Donohue said, "And he’s one of mine! He’s a Catholic." Christopher Hitchens, who penned a controversial piece on Roberts for Slate, was described as "that atheist anti-Catholic bigot." Then, inexplicably, Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio came under fire for having simply noted that Roberts is a conservative Catholic with adopted children and a wife who served as an officer of a "pro-life" organization.
Truth be told, your blogstress felt a bit jilted to have been left off the list, having been, along with The American Prospect, the subject of a three-week press release and op-ed campaign by Donohue for having dared to mention, on The American Prospect Web site, that any questions put to Roberts about his views on abortion were likely to be met with cries of "anti-Catholicism" from the right. Three weeks of engagement and rebuttal—-you’d think the guy could have at least blown your Webwench a kiss.
In a torrent of New York-accented words, Donohue accused liberals of being "so sweet" that they allowed Christian right-wingers to "ride in the back of the bus" while the liberals did the driving. It was time, he said, for evangelicals to "take command of the wheel."
Beyond his poisonous invective, though, Donohue floated a proposition with the potential for real damage: "a constitutional amendment that says unless a decision of the Supreme Court is unanimous, you cannot overturn legislated law."
He received a standing ovation. Breathe deep the gathering gloom.
An empty frame
Thoughout the evening, the repetition of thematic words became a drumbeat, most notably the coupling of the word "sodomy" with "homosexual," and the use of the words "supremacist" and "supremacy" to describe the High Court.
After the program ended, your cybertrix asked Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum to comment on the emergence of the word "supremacist" in the context of the Court. She smiled and reached inside her bag, pulling out a copy of her latest book. The jacket features a photograph of the Supreme Court building, with these words emblazoned across the cover: The Supremacists.
"Probably I’m the one who did it," she said, "with my book. I think that word is completely descriptive; it’s a much better word than 'activist' [in describing the court]. These people really do think they’re supreme over everybody else."
When asked what she thought about the newfound love of issue framing shown by liberals, she replied, "But they haven’t a message to sell."