Tuesday, September 13, 2005

[UPDATE] Targeting Bloggers: Who is Citadel Consulting Group LLC?

Last month, I did a post here and a diary at Daily Kos seeking information regarding this company:
Who is Citadel Consulting Group LLC and what are they up to and why are they targeting bloggers?
I was more than a little surprised to suddenly receive my first unsolicited marketing email at my blog email address. This email was also sent in a manner to bypass spam filters. I became immediately suspicious reading the rest of the email when I saw the request for name, address and regular email. Now, I normally ignore and delete unsolicited spam received via email, but as this was the first I received via my blog address and was being targeted to bloggers I decided to investigate further. Unfortunately, I have been unable to turn up much information and I am posting this seeking further information, to discuss this with anyone else that has received this email and to find out if anyone besides members of Blogger have received it.

The general consensus from others who received the unsolicited email was that it was an annoying, but benign marketing spam for this company’s new magazine West Coast Midnight Run. I did not reply to their email solicitation and forgot about them. However, I now find them more than annoying and not at all benign. I received the following two emails last night supposedly from the editorial staff of the magazine (editor@midnighttracks.com ).
Subject: From the Editorial Desk of the West Coast Midnight Run

We noticed some of your concerns have been voiced loudly over the West Coast Midnight Run. Please rest assured we are not being neglectful. We are simply understaffed, overbudget and behind on our deadline as we retool the lineup of our segments.

The West Coast Midnight Run is being offered for free the first year only to those subscribers who request our electronic publication. We intend to bring together some of the concepts found in National Geographic, Variety, Consumer Reports, Penthouse and the Harvard Business Review, except the only nude models we will use will be hot automotive creations from Europe, Japan and Detroit.

The reason we request a regular email address is because many subscribers may use a temporary email which may get deleted afterwards and since we are not a multi-million dollar corporation we do not dispose of large automated systems that would allow us to re-subscribe you each time you delete your convenience email. We also request your mailing address since we want to make sure we are getting one request per household. Each subscriber's email is entered into our monthly random sweepstakes drawings, one valid confirmed entry is used per individual and the address is needed to confirm and to mail the entrant their prize should they be the winner.

Please do take a look at the entire teaser website, but please bear in mind some of the sample segments are now outdated.

We do hope this comment helped to clear up the mystery regarding our periodical and please bear with us as we struggle to make it to the publication finish line of our first issue.

Thank you for your interest and we look forward to welcoming you as part of our family.

The Editorial Staff

You are receiving this information because you have contacted us. If you have received this message in error we do apologize and request that you inform us so as to remove you from our contacts database. The information and files attached have been scanned apriori and have been found to be free from defects or viruses. The information in this email is confidential and intended solely for the addressee. Access to this email by anyone else is unauthorized and any disclosure, copying, distribution or any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it, is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please delete this email and destroy any copies or prints thereof and notify the sender immediately.
NOTE: I have never contacted this company. I am posting the entire contents of their email for full disclosure. This "confidential" information was posted by their ediotrial staff at another blog, Blast Radius, as a comment to his post last month seeking information about this company, Following the tracks, which I referenced in my original post.
Subject: Copyrights Violations

You may want to re-consider grabbing photos from any website and posting them without express written permission of the original author. Some of the content we publish is through a licensing agreement provided to us only from the original authors' publishers and by copying and reposting content without express authorization you are violating the copyrights of the original author, their publishers and distributors.

We always warn our readers not to photocopy, redistribute, download or distribute in any fashion any of our content. We would greatly appreciate it if you would let your readers know.

With regards,

The Editorial Staff

I was annoyed by the first unsolicited commercial email I received from this company last month. The second unsolicited email falsely stating that I had contacted them and was now in their database made me more than annoyed. The third email regarding copyright violations and suggesting I downloaded material from their website was too much and I have decided to take action. I sent their editorial staff the following reply.
RE: Copyrights Violations

You may want to re-consider grabbing electronic mail addresses through address harvesting from the proprietary online service of Blogger (www.blogger.com).
You may want to re-consider using electronic mail addresses thus acquired to for the transmission of unsolicited commercial electronic mail via the Internet.
You may want to re-consider using deceptive subject headings in your unsolicited commercial electronic mail messages.
You may want to re-consider including an identifier, opt-out, and physical address in your unsolicited commercial electronic mail messages.
You may want to re-consider sending me any further unsolicited commercial electronic mail messages with this demand to cease and desist further transmissions.
You may want to re-consider your violations of federal law, CAN-SPAM ACT of 2003, sections 5(a)(2), 5(a)(5)(i), 5(a)(5)(ii) 5(a)(5)(iii) and 5(b)(1)(i).

Now I will discuss your concerns of copyright violations. I have not grabbed and photos from your website. I have posted a copy of your original unsolicited commercial electronic message as a diary and blog posting. You may read the posting entitled, "Targetting Bloggers: Who is Citadel Consulting Group LLC?" at http://disgustedinstlouis.blogspot.com/2005/08/targeting-bloggers-who-is-citadel.html and http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/8/26/124748/192. This was done in pursuit of information about your company from other recepients of your unsolcited commercial electronic message.

I do not believe you wish to attempt to pursue a copyright violation for the posting of your unsolicited commercial electronic message that you transmitted to my electronic mail address, which was acquired by address harvesting from Blogger. However, if you think it is advantageous for you to pursue a copyright violation for posting your unsolicited commercial electronic message be sure to inform you legal representation that the material was acquired though your illegal method of distribution.

I sincerely hope to receive no further unsolicited electronic messages from you again, commercial or otherwise.

I welcome comments and suggestions from others that have either been spammed or threatened by this company.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

25 Stupid Quotes About Hurricane Katrina

The following comes from Dan Kurtzman in his guide to Politcal Humor.

25 Mind-Numbingly Stupid Quotes About Hurricane Katrina And Its Aftermath

1) "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." –President Bush, on "Good Morning America," Sept. 1, 2005, six days after repeated warnings from experts about the scope of damage expected from Hurricane Katrina

2) "What I'm hearing which is sort of scary is that they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this (chuckle) – this is working very well for them." –Former First Lady Barbara Bush, on the Hurricane flood evacuees in the Houston Astrodome, Sept. 5, 2005

3) "It makes no sense to spend billions of dollars to rebuild a city that's seven feet under sea level....It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed." –House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Aug. 31, 2005

4) "We've got a lot of rebuilding to do ... The good news is — and it's hard for some to see it now — that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house — he's lost his entire house — there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." (Laughter) —President Bush, touring hurricane damage, Mobile, Ala., Sept. 2, 2005

5) "Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans, virtually a city that has been destroyed, things are going relatively well." –FEMA Director Michael Brown, Sept. 1, 2005

6) "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." –President Bush, to FEMA director Michael Brown, while touring Hurricane-ravaged Mississippi, Sept. 2, 2005

7) "I have not heard a report of thousands of people in the convention center who don't have food and water." –Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, on NPR's "All Things Considered," Sept. 1, 2005

8) "Well, I think if you look at what actually happened, I remember on Tuesday morning picking up newspapers and I saw headlines, 'New Orleans Dodged the Bullet.' Because if you recall, the storm moved to the east and then continued on and appeared to pass with considerable damage but nothing worse." –Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, blaming media coverage for his failings, "Meet the Press," Sept. 4, 2005

9) "I mean, you have people who don't heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving.” –Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), Sept. 6, 2005

10) "You simply get chills every time you see these poor individuals...many of these people, almost all of them that we see are so poor and they are so black, and this is going to raise lots of questions for people who are watching this story unfold." –CNN's Wolf Blitzer, on New Orleans' hurricane evacuees, Sept. 1, 2005

11) "What didn't go right?'" –President Bush, as quoted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), after she urged him to fire FEMA Director Michael Brown "because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right" in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort

12) "Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?" –House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX), to three young hurricane evacuees from New Orleans at the Astrodome in Houston

13) "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did." –Rep. Richard Baker (R-LA) to lobbyists, as quoted in the Wall Street Journal

14) "Louisiana is a city that is largely under water." –Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, news conference, Sept. 3, 2005

15) "I also want to encourage anybody who was affected by Hurricane Corina to make sure their children are in school." –First Lady Laura Bush, twice referring to a "Hurricane Corina" while speaking to children and parents in South Haven, Mississippi, Sept. 8, 2005

16) "It's totally wiped out. ... It's devastating, it's got to be doubly devastating on the ground." –President Bush, turning to his aides while surveying Hurricane Katrina flood damage from Air Force One, Aug. 31, 2005

17) "I believe the town where I used to come – from Houston, Texas, to enjoy myself, occasionally too much – will be that very same town, that it will be a better place to come to." –President Bush, on the tarmac at the New Orleans airport, Sept. 2, 2005

18) "Last night, we showed you the full force of a superpower government going to the rescue." –MSNBC's Chris Matthews, Sept. 1, 2005

19) "You know I talked to Haley Barbour, the governor of Mississippi yesterday because some people were saying, 'Well, if you hadn't sent your National Guard to Iraq, we here in Mississippi would be better off.' He told me 'I've been out in the field every single day, hour, for four days and no one, not one single mention of the word Iraq.' Now where does that come from? Where does that story come from if the governor is not picking up one word about it? I don't know. I can use my imagination.” –Former President George Bush, who can give his imagination a rest, interview with CNN’s Larry King, Sept. 5, 2005

20) "We just learned of the convention center – we being the federal government – today." –FEMA Director Michael Brown, to ABC's Ted Koppel, Sept. 1, 2005, to which Koppel responded " Don't you guys watch television? Don't you guys listen to the radio? Our reporters have been reporting on it for more than just today."

21) "I don't want to alarm everybody that, you know, New Orleans is filling up like a bowl. That's just not happening." -Bill Lokey, FEMA's New Orleans coordinator, in a press briefing from Baton Rouge, Aug. 30, 2005

22) "FEMA is not going to hesitate at all in this storm. We are not going to sit back and make this a bureaucratic process. We are going to move fast, we are going to move quick, and we are going to do whatever it takes to help disaster victims." --FEMA Director Michael Brown, Aug. 28, 2005

23) "I don't make judgments about why people chose not to leave but, you know, there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans." –FEMA Director Michael Brown, arguing that the victims bear some responsibility, CNN interview, Sept. 1, 2005

24) "I understand there are 10,000 people dead. It's terrible. It's tragic. But in a democracy of 300 million people, over years and years and years, these things happen." --GOP strategist Jack Burkman, on MSNBC's "Connected," Sept. 7, 2005

25) "Thank President Clinton and former President Bush for their strong statements of support and comfort today. I thank all the leaders that are coming to Louisiana, and Mississippi and Alabama to our help and rescue. We are grateful for the military assets that are being brought to bear. I want to thank Senator Frist and Senator Reid for their extraordinary efforts. Anderson, tonight, I don't know if you've heard – maybe you all have announced it -- but Congress is going to an unprecedented session to pass a $10 billion supplemental bill tonight to keep FEMA and the Red Cross up and operating." –Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), to CNN's Anderson Cooper, Aug. 31, 2005, to which Cooper responded:

"I haven't heard that, because, for the last four days, I've been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi. And to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other, you know, I got to tell you, there are a lot of people here who are very upset, and very angry, and very frustrated. And when they hear politicians slap – you know, thanking one another, it just, you know, it kind of cuts them the wrong way right now, because literally there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats because this woman had been laying in the street for 48 hours. And there's not enough facilities to take her up. Do you get the anger that is out here?"

Friday, September 09, 2005

"Price gouging" to Liberals is Market Driven Economy to Conservatives

Forget about everything you ever heard about "price gouging" because it's just a silly Liberal misconception. The right wingnut idiocracy explains that it's a necessary and normal function of a market driven economy!

Guest blogger desi at Jesus’ General has written a letter to John Stossel about his article at TownHall in praise of price gouging. According to Stossel:
Consider this scenario: You are thirsty -- worried that your baby is going to become dehydrated. You find a store that's open, and the storeowner thinks it's immoral to take advantage of your distress, so he won't charge you a dime more than he charged last week. But you can't buy water from him. It's sold out.

You continue on your quest, and finally find that dreaded monster, the price gouger. He offers a bottle of water that cost $1 last week at an "outrageous" price -- say $20. You pay it to survive the disaster.

You resent the price gouger. But if he hadn't demanded $20, he'd have been out of water. It was the price gouger's "exploitation" that saved your child.
Stossel is not finished...
It saved her because people look out for their own interests. Before you got to the water seller, other people did. At $1 a bottle, they stocked up. At $20 a bottle, they bought more cautiously. By charging $20, the price gouger makes sure his water goes to those who really need it.

The people the softheaded politicians think are cruelest are doing the most to help. Assuming the demand for bottled water was going to go up, they bought a lot of it, planning to resell it at a steep profit. If they hadn't done that, that water would not have been available for the people who need it the most

I encourage people to read desi's complete post at Jesus' General, An Open Letter to John Stossel, for her entire rebuttal (or at her own blog Greatscat!).
I have a few questions for you, but first, I too have a scenario for your consideration: You are a shop owner in a small coastal town. It's Summertime, and you know there are bound to be storms, possibly flooding. You stock up on water and necessities.
A young woman carrying a small baby makes her way to your store. They are wet, tired and thirsty, possibly dehydrated. She picks up 2 bottles of water and sets the on the counter. You explain that the total is $40.00 -- plus bottle deposit, I assume?

The young woman is silent as she looks at the crumbled dollar-bills in her hand.
The young woman with the baby has endured hardships you cannot fathom to get to your store after the storm and flood. She is desperate to give her baby some fluids. She had taken shelter in a home that still had some fairly dry ground with a group of others. One of them gave her a small caliber handgun for her travels, to keep herself and the baby safe. Firing once, she strikes you dead as she exclaims "Take that, you bastard!"
As she leaves with her baby -- precious water, and the cash that she might need for someone selling food at an exorbitant price for her own good -- she mutters: "This is the last time I vacation in America!"

Now my quesitons. Just out of curiosity, are you a Libertarian, and did you complete Economics 101? On second thought, however, your answers don't really matter. You're dead. Heh heh. Good luck with that journamalisming thing.

Let there be no doubt about what Stossel is advocating here. "By charging $20, the price gouger makes sure his water goes to those who really need it." "The people who need it the most" are those that can afford it! Reserving it for the rich is EXACTLY what he means!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Message to Jay Nixon: Missouri Needs You As Governor

Thank you for being Missouri's Attorney General. We need you. We need you to remove corruption from the state. We need you to be the next Governor of Missouri.

I was born in University City, Missouri. I grew up during the 60s and 70s and graduated from UC High School in the mid-70s. U-City was relatively devoid of Racism and anti-Semitism, but I saw or experienced both in other areas of St. Louis. My memories are of Blacks and Jews working together on social issues and for Civil Rights. I remember stories of white supremacist and neo-Nazis sharing a HQ in Overland. I gladly welcome any confirming sources, especially if someone can provide Internet sources. I have been unable to find any probably because that information on St. Louis of that period has not been posted to the Internet.

I have given this short background because it and Hurricane Katrina relate to a lawsuit Attorney General Jay Nixon has filed on Wednesday against an associate of hate groups for websites attempting to collect donations for hurricane relief to fund these groups.

There are two articles which cover this story Nixon sues to shut some relief Web sites, in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Missouri Sues Web Site Purporting to Raise Funds, in The New York Times.

This is the Post-Dispatch description of the lawsuit:
Missouri's attorney general filed suit Wednesday seeking to shut down at least 10 hurricane relief Web sites that he said are quietly run by a man with ties to a racist group - and that may not benefit storm victims at all.

"This is a horrendous use of the victims of Hurricane Katrina to the benefit of a hate group," Attorney General Jay Nixon said at a news conference. He said Weltner is associated with the National Alliance, which Nixon's office described as "listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of the nation's most active neo-Nazi hate groups."

The New york Times give a the following details about the websites and Weltner:
Also named in the lawsuit, Mr. Nixon said, is the apparent operator of the donation sites, Frank Weltner, a St. Louis resident and radio talk show personality with ties to neo-Nazi organizations and the notorious Web site JewWatch.com.

That site, which indexes Adolf Hitler's writings, transcripts of anti-Semitic radio broadcasts, and other materials, drew wide headlines last year when it appeared at or near the top of Google search results for the query "Jew." It remains at No. 2 today.

The Missouri lawsuit seeks to freeze the assets of Internet Donations Inc., a nonprofit entity registered with the Missouri secretary of state's office by Mr. Weltner on Sept. 2, and to shut down the dozen or so Web sites with names like KatrinaFamilies.com, Katrina-Donations.com and NewOrleansCharities.com. Those sites appear to have been hastily registered and mounted since Hurricane Katrina devastated large swaths of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi last week.

The Web sites, which use similar imagery and slight variations on the same crude design, all point back to InternetDonations.org, which advises visitors interested in donating to the Red Cross, Salvation Army or other relief organizations, that "we can collect it for you in an easy one-stop location."

Most of the affiliated Web sites appear to have been registered using DomainsByProxy.com, a service that masks the identity of a domain name registrant. But Mr. Weltner's name appeared on public documents obtained through the Missouri secretary of state's Web site, indicating that he had incorporated Internet Donations as a nonprofit entity last Friday.

The Post-Dispatch contacted Weltner and reports:
Reached at his home in St. Louis, Weltner said he used to be a local public relations person for the National Alliance. Weltner declined to say whether he still holds that position.

He denied that another of his Web sites, jewwatch.com, is anti-Semitic, and he denounced Nixon for the suit. "That's slander," Weltner said. "None of it is going to any group that is a right-wing hate group."

He said his site is a "library" of information about Jews, some from Jewish sources or media outlets such as The New York Times. The jewwatch.com site claims, among other things, that 100 million Christians "were exterminated by All Anti-Christian Jewish Red Commissars in Russia under the orders of Trotsky, the Jewish Commissar of Commissars."

Attorney General Jay Nixon made the following statements:
(via StL P-D)
"This is a horrendous use of the victims of Hurricane Katrina to the benefit of a hate group," Attorney General Jay Nixon said at a news conference. He said Weltner is associated with the National Alliance, which Nixon's office described as "listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of the nation's most active neo-Nazi hate groups."

(via NYT)
"It's the lowest of the low when someone solicits funds" this way, Mr. Nixon said in an interview prior to announcing the lawsuit. "We don't want one more penny from well-meaning donors going through this hater."

Thank you Jay Nixon. At a time when our country is discussing issues regarding race in the shadow of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, you are exposing and fighting against perpetrators of hate. Hopefully, this will further the discussion by displaying the insidiousness of these hate groups.

We need you as Governor of Missouri. Our current Governor has shown his callousness on issues of race and hate most pointedly by ordering the flying of the Confederate Flag in state parks.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Bob Herbert NYT Op-Ed: A Failure of Leadership

I am posting Herbert's article, because I want to capture it all here for discussion in case it gets censored like Kayne West on NBC. Also, in lieu of the fact of that censorship I am going to reproduce the entire editorial here.

The following appeared in the September 5, New York Times written by opinion editor Bob Herbert (link here to story).
September 5, 2005
A Failure of Leadership

"Bush to New Orleans: Drop Dead"

Neither the death of the chief justice nor the frantic efforts of panicked White House political advisers can conceal the magnitude of the president's failure of leadership last week. The catastrophe in New Orleans billowed up like the howling winds of hell and was carried live and in color on television screens across the U.S. and around the world.

The Big Easy had turned into the Big Hurt, and the colossal failure of George W. Bush to intervene powerfully and immediately to rescue tens of thousands of American citizens who were suffering horribly and dying in agony was there for all the world to see.

Hospitals with deathly ill patients were left without power, with ventilators that didn't work, with floodwaters rising on the lower floors and with corpses rotting in the corridors and stairwells. People unable to breathe on their own, or with cancer or heart disease or kidney failure, slipped into comas and sank into their final sleep in front of helpless doctors and relatives. These were Americans in desperate trouble.

The president didn't seem to notice.

Death and the stink of decay were all over the city. Corpses were propped up in wheelchairs and on lawn furniture, or left to decompose on sunbaked sidewalks. Some floated by in water fouled by human feces.

Degenerates roamed the city, shooting at rescue workers, beating and robbing distraught residents and tourists, raping women and girls. The president of the richest, most powerful country in the history of the world didn't seem to notice.

Viewers could watch diabetics go into insulin shock on national television, and you could see babies with the pale, vacant look of hunger that we're more used to seeing in dispatches from the third world. You could see their mothers, dirty and hungry themselves, weeping.

Old, critically ill people were left to soil themselves and in some cases die like stray animals on the floor of an airport triage center. For days the president of the United States didn't seem to notice.

He would have noticed if the majority of these stricken folks had been white and prosperous. But they weren't. Most were black and poor, and thus, to the George W. Bush administration, still invisible.

After days of withering criticism from white and black Americans, from conservatives as well as liberals, from Republicans and Democrats, the president finally felt compelled to act, however feebly. (The chorus of criticism from nearly all quarters demanding that the president do something tells me that the nation as a whole is so much better than this administration.)

Mr. Bush flew south on Friday and proved (as if more proof were needed) that he didn't get it. Instead of urgently focusing on the people who were stranded, hungry, sick and dying, he engaged in small talk, reminiscing at one point about the days when he used to party in New Orleans, and mentioning that Trent Lott had lost one of his houses but that it would be replaced with "a fantastic house - and I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch."

Mr. Bush's performance last week will rank as one of the worst ever by a president during a dire national emergency. What we witnessed, as clearly as the overwhelming agony of the city of New Orleans, was the dangerous incompetence and the staggering indifference to human suffering of the president and his administration.

And it is this incompetence and indifference to suffering (yes, the carnage continues to mount in Iraq) that makes it so hard to be optimistic about the prospects for the United States over the next few years. At a time when effective, innovative leadership is desperately needed to cope with matters of war and peace, terrorism and domestic security, the economic imperatives of globalization and the rising competition for oil, the United States is being led by a man who seems oblivious to the reality of his awesome responsibilities.

Like a boy being prepped for a second crack at a failed exam, Mr. Bush has been meeting with his handlers to see what steps can be taken to minimize the political fallout from this latest demonstration of his ineptitude. But this is not about politics. It's about competence. And when the president is so obviously clueless about matters so obviously important, it means that the rest of us, like the people left stranded in New Orleans, are in deep, deep trouble.

E-mail: bobherb@nytimes.com

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

More Last Throes: "Welcome to the Islamic Republic of Qaim."

Well, it’s a good thing Vice President Dick Cheney is back from vacation. I'm sure there will be a Fox News interview with him shortly so he can explain how this is further evidence of "The insurgency is in its last throes."

Insurgents Assert Control Over Town Near Syrian Border appears in this morning's Washington Post.
Fighters loyal to militant leader Abu Musab Zarqawi asserted control over the key Iraqi border town of Qaim on Monday, killing U.S. collaborators and enforcing strict Islamic law, according to tribal members, officials, residents and others in the town and nearby villages.

Residents said the foreign-led fighters controlled by Zarqawi, a Jordanian, apparently had been exerting authority in the town, within two miles of the Syrian border, since at least the start of the weekend. A sign posted at an entrance to the town declared, "Welcome to the Islamic Republic of Qaim."
Ah, yes! This is definitely a sign of "last throes". Will Bush now join in and tell us once again, “The more they attack us, the more it means we're winning in Iraq.”
Insurgents have occasionally made similar shows of force, such as the takeover of a Baghdad neighborhood for a few hours late last month by dozens of gunmen. They then slipped away, having made the point that they can muster men as well as plant bombs. The weekend takeover of Qaim extended already heavy insurgent pressure on the people there and came after the U.S. military said it had inflicted heavy bombing losses on foreign-led fighters.
Do they appear desparate, Mr. President? Mr. Vice President?
Capt. Jeffrey Pool, a Marine spokesman in Ramadi, capital of the western province that includes Qaim, said he had no word of unusual activity in Qaim. Marines are stationed just outside the town, and no Iraqi government forces are posted inside, Pool said.

Witnesses in Qaim said Zarqawi's fighters were killing officials and civilians whom they consider to be allied with the Iraqi and U.S. governments or anti-Islamic. On Sunday, the bullet-riddled body of a young woman dressed in her nightclothes lay in a street of Qaim. A sign left on her corpse declared, "A prostitute who was punished."
Do we have enough men on the ground?
Zarqawi's fighters have shot and killed nine men in public executions in the city center since the start of the weekend, accusing the men of being collaborators with U.S. forces, said Sheik Nawaf Mahallawi, a leader of the Albu Mahal, a Sunni Arab tribe that had clashed earlier with the foreign fighters.
How is the training of the Iraqi military coming? Are they being trained faster than they are being killed?
Fighters loyal to Zarqawi openly patrolled the streets of Qaim with AK-47 assault rifles and grenade launchers. The fighters included both Iraqis and foreigners, including Afghans. They draped rooftops with Zarqawi's al Qaeda in Iraq banner of a yellow sun against a black background.

Residents said insurgents in recent weeks had begun enforcing strict Islamic law, burning shops that sold CDs and a beauty parlor, and lashing men accused of drinking alcohol. They said Zarqawi's fighters were killing government workers but had spared doctors and teachers.
How are our forces doing in controlling the towns that were reported to have been cleared of insurgents?
Early Monday morning, six members of an elite U.S. special operations unit were wounded in what was to have been a raid on the home of a suspected insurgent leader, according to U.S. commanders. Members of the unit, which is charged with searching for high-level insurgents, and the Army in Tall Afar would not provide details.
A roadside bomb killed one soldier in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Tall Afar on Monday, and two British troops were reported killed by another roadside bomb in southern Iraq.

In Baghdad, insurgents launched a dawn attack on the Interior Ministry, killing two police officers, officials said. Other political violence Monday in Baghdad killed at least 13 civilians, the Associated Press reported.

A roadside bomb and other attacks killed four oil workers associated with a northern oil company in Kirkuk. Insurgents have mounted frequent attacks to disrupt Iraq's oil exports.

Mortar fire hit a residential neighborhood in the central city of Baqubah, killing six civilians, said Ahmed Fouad, a hospital physician. Eight other civilians were killed by a car bomb in the western town of Hit, the AP said.
Well, Mr. President and Mr. Vice President, with all your hard work making progress in Iraq, you must need another vacation.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Keith Olbermann shows how a real TV news editorial is done!

Olbermann delivered this editorial live on the air tonight on MSNBC. The text is posted on his blog at The "city" of Louisiana (Keith Olbermann) and a video is posted here, Olbermann's rant on Katrina, at Crooks and Liars
Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said it all, starting his news briefing Saturday afternoon: "Louisiana is a city that is largely underwater..."

Well there's your problem right there.

If ever a slip-of-the-tongue defined a government's response to a crisis, this was it.

The seeming definition of our time and our leaders had been their insistence on slashing federal budgets for projects that might’ve saved New Orleans. The seeming characterization of our government that it was on vacation when the city was lost, and could barely tear itself away from commemorating V.J. Day and watching Monty Python's Flying Circus, to at least pretend to get back to work. The seeming identification of these hapless bureaucrats: their pathetic use of the future tense in terms of relief they could’ve brought last Monday and Tuesday — like the President, whose statements have looked like they’re being transmitted to us by some kind of four-day tape-delay.

But no. The incompetence and the ludicrous prioritization will forever be symbolized by one gaffe by of the head of what is ironically called “The Department of Homeland Security”: “Louisiana is a city…”

Politician after politician — Republican and Democrat alike — has paraded before us, unwilling or unable to shut off the "I-Me" switch in their heads, condescendingly telling us about how moved they were or how devastated they were — congenitally incapable of telling the difference between the destruction of a city and the opening of a supermarket.

And as that sorry recital of self-absorption dragged on, I have resisted editorial comment. The focus needed to be on the efforts to save the stranded — even the internet's meager powers were correctly devoted to telling the stories of the twin disasters, natural... and government-made.

But now, at least, it is has stopped getting exponentially worse in Mississippi and Alabama and New Orleans and Louisiana (the state, not the city). And, having given our leaders what we know now is the week or so they need to get their act together, that period of editorial silence I mentioned, should come to an end.

No one is suggesting that mayors or governors in the afflicted areas, nor the federal government, should be able to stop hurricanes. Lord knows, no one is suggesting that we should ever prioritize levee improvement for a below-sea-level city, ahead of $454 million worth of trophy bridges for the politicians of Alaska.

But, nationally, these are leaders who won re-election last year largely by portraying their opponents as incapable of keeping the country safe. These are leaders who regularly pressure the news media in this country to report the reopening of a school or a power station in Iraq, and defies its citizens not to stand up and cheer. Yet they couldn't even keep one school or power station from being devastated by infrastructure collapse in New Orleans — even though the government had heard all the "chatter" from the scientists and city planners and hurricane centers and some group whose purposes the government couldn't quite discern... a group called The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

And most chillingly of all, this is the Law and Order and Terror government. It promised protection — or at least amelioration — against all threats: conventional, radiological, or biological.

It has just proved that it cannot save its citizens from a biological weapon called standing water.

Mr. Bush has now twice insisted that, "we are not satisfied," with the response to the manifold tragedies along the Gulf Coast. I wonder which "we" he thinks he's speaking for on this point. Perhaps it's the administration, although we still don't know where some of them are. Anybody seen the Vice President lately? The man whose message this time last year was, 'I'll Protect You, The Other Guy Will Let You Die'?

I don't know which 'we' Mr. Bush meant.

For many of this country's citizens, the mantra has been — as we were taught in Social Studies it should always be — whether or not I voted for this President — he is still my President. I suspect anybody who had to give him that benefit of the doubt stopped doing so last week. I suspect a lot of his supporters, looking ahead to '08, are wondering how they can distance themselves from the two words which will define his government — our government — "New Orleans."

For him, it is a shame — in all senses of the word. A few changes of pronouns in there, and he might not have looked so much like a 21st Century Marie Antoinette. All that was needed was just a quick "I'm not satisfied with my government's response." Instead of hiding behind phrases like "no one could have foreseen," had he only remembered Winston Churchill's quote from the 1930's. "The responsibility," of government, Churchill told the British Parliament "for the public safety is absolute and requires no mandate. It is in fact, the prime object for which governments come into existence."

In forgetting that, the current administration did not merely damage itself — it damaged our confidence in our ability to rely on whoever is in the White House.

As we emphasized to you here all last week, the realities of the region are such that New Orleans is going to be largely uninhabitable for a lot longer than anybody is yet willing to recognize. Lord knows when the last body will be found, or the last artifact of the levee break, dug up. Could be next March. Could be 2100. By then, in the muck and toxic mire of New Orleans, they may even find our government's credibility.

Somewhere, in the City of Louisiana.

Radical Religious Right blame Katrina on Gaza Withdrawal

The Radical Religious Right (RRR) always looking to turn a disaster into a club to smite those they appoint as transgressors against the god of their beliefs. Today, we get two examples blaming Hurricane Katrina on Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, one from a prominent member of the Christian RRR in the United States and the other from the RRR in Israel.

First up is Rick Scarborough of Vision America and Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration. Max Blumenthal at The Hufffington Post reports on Scarborough’s latest weekly newsletter, The Scarborough Report, in his post, Blaming Katrina on Gays, Israel, and Man-on-Horse Sex. I think Max missed pointing out that Scarborough appears to also be blaming 9/11 on gays, pornography and the separation of church and state in the first paragraph of his newsletter.
The following are excerpts from Scarborough’s report:

After September 11, 2001, "God bless America" was on everyone's lips. But what, exactly, are we asking God to bless - a nation moving a breakneck speed toward homosexual marriage, a nation awash in pornography, a nation in which our children are indoctrinated in perversion in the public schools, a nation in which most public displays of The Ten Commandments are considered offensive to the Constitution, a nation in which the elite does all in its considerable power to efface our Biblical heritage?
One other factor which must be considered: Days before Katrina nearly wiped New Orleans off the map, 9,000 Jewish residents of Gaza were driven from their homes with the full support of the United States government. Could this be a playing out of prophesy ("I will bless that nation that blesses you, and curse the nation that curses you")?
In Washington State, a man recently died from internal injuries sustained from committing bestiality with a horse. The incident led police to raid a farm where people were going to have sex with animals.

Though they discovered hundreds of explicit videotapes, apparently, nothing can be done about it. Washington is one of only a handful of states that does not have a law against bestiality....

Next up is Stan Goodenough. Who is Stan? This is from his personal biography:

Stan Goodenough is an experienced Christian journalist who has lived and worked in Israel for more than 15 years. Called from his South African homeland “to comfort, not criticize” the Jewish people, Stan served as editor of the International Christian Embassy’s Middle East Intelligence Digest for eight years, during which he helped launch and co-edit the widely-read ICEJ News Service. While with the Embassy, Stan covered the 1991 International Middle East Peace Conference in Madrid as an accredited reporter, and since then has written extensively on the Oslo Process and its bloody aftermath.

In 1999, he was appointed editor of the popular about-Israel website Virtual Holyland, and since the collapse of its operating company, he has created and edited the sites Israel My Beloved and Jerusalem Newswire.

So, let’s look at Goodenough’s view that Kristina was god smiting the United States because its support for Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. From his editorial, Katrina - The fist of God?, at Jerusalem Newswire:

On August 14, citizens in the United States, like people around the world, heard about the issuing of an order for the forced evacuation of Jews from parts of Israel’s biblical land.

For six days they watched as thousands of weeping people were pulled and carried from their homes, forced to leave their gardens, parks, communities, schools, towns and synagogues, everything they had spent decades building; banned from ever returning again. Those scenes were soon followed by pictures of bulldozers and other earth-moving machinery pulverizing the just-vacated homes into heaps of dust.

While this was taking place, a small tropical depression was forming near the Bahamas in the Atlantic Ocean. Slowly, as the air began to revolve, the nonthreatening weather system began moving in the direction of Florida.
As today unfolds we are bracing to see wind and water pounding homes, whole communities, into the ground.

Is this some sort of bizarre coincidence? Not for those who believe in the God of the Bible and the immutability of His Word.

What America is about to experience is the lifting of God’s hand of protection; the implementation of His judgment on the nation most responsible for endangering the land and people of Israel.

The Bible talks about Him shaking His fist over bodies of water, and striking them.

While the “disengagement” plan was purportedly the brainchild of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the United States of America has for more than a decade been the chief sponsor and propeller of a diplomatic process that has dangerously weakened Israel in the face of an overwhelming, growing threat to annihilate her.
As this “storm of a lifetime” wreaks its rage on the southern United States today, non-believers may be tempted to shake their fists at God. Others will cry out for mercy. Will God hear them?

Many in America couldn’t have cared less about Jews being forced out of their homes and losing everything they have built. Here in Israel, many Jews will be feeling for the Americans who are now facing similar tragedies, tragedies brought about by the forces of heaven rather than through the political power of men.

Can’t you see the link, America? Won’t you see the link?

Well, there you have it, two more examples of the crazies of the Radical Religious Right. I'm not sure where Goodenough, who is not Jewish, gets off editorializing on Jewish opinions or beliefs. He presents a nice allegory there with the six days for the “nonthreatening weather system” to be formed, but it’s not good enough to justify his editorial.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of Comédie Noire

I think Condie needs to go back to her shopping!

Rice says race had nothing to do with Katrina aid
(via WaPo)

Rice, the most senior black member of President George W. Bush's Cabinet, said she did not believe race had anything to do with how quickly the government reacted to Katrina, which killed thousands and displaced millions along the Gulf coast.

"I don't believe for a minute anybody allowed people to suffer because they are African-Americans. I just don't believe it for a minute," said Rice, while visiting a hurricane relief center outside of Mobile, Alabama.
Black leaders in the United States have accused the Bush administration of reacting too slowly to help people in New Orleans and in other Gulf areas where most of the victims were poor and black rather than rich and white.

Congressional black leaders pleaded with Bush and federal disaster relief officials to speed aid and said they were stunned by the failure to feed and shelter displaced people after the storm ripped through the region a week ago.

While defensive about race allegations after Katrina, Rice conceded the response could have been better.
En route to her home state, Rice personally defended the president. "Nobody, especially the president, would have left people unattended on the basis of race."

Rice has spoken to members of the Congressional Black Caucus in recent days to reassure them the government was doing everything it could to help hurricane victims.

On Sunday, she attended a church service in Whistler, Alabama, and prayed alongside the congregation for victims of the hurricane.

Asked to say a few words from the pulpit, Rice, a preacher's daughter, said: "The Lord Jesus Christ is going to come on time." She added: "If we just wait."

Jesus' General unleashes his Inner Frenchman

I salute the General's Inner Frenchman!

Fuck the President and his supporters
(posted by Gen. JC Christian, Patriot)

Go watch all of the videos at Crooks and Liars.

I hate that son of a bitch in the White House and everyone who supports him. He doesn't represent me. He's the embodiment of America's darkest side.

Update: Read Billmon's post comparing FEMA's ethnic cleansing of New Orleans to their GOTV efforts in Florida last year.

And read Steve Gilliard too (I should have posted this one yesterday).

And yes, my Inner Frenchman just kicked the shit out of the General for supporting that fascist fuck in the White House. The General should recover in a few hours.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

E&P: Bush guilty of "dereliction of duty"

In 'My Pet Goat'--The Sequel at Editor & Publisher, Greg Mitchell indicts the Vacation President:
This time, during a catastrophe, the president did not merely dither for seven minutes, but for three days, and his top advisors followed suit. While the media has done a good job in portraying the overall failure of leadership in this weeks hurricane's disaster, it has not focused enough on this deadly dereliction of duty.


Simply stated, the president and his top advisers chose vacation over action.

While the media has done a good job in portraying the overall deadly failure of leadership, it has not focused enough on this deadly dereliction of duty.

President Bush, in his weekly radio address on Saturday, said: “In America, we do not abandon our fellow citizens in their hour of need.” But Bush, and his top aides, quite frankly, did.

I was reminded of this today, seeing pictures of Vice President Dick Cheney finally showing up at the White House after riding out the storm-of-the-century in Wyoming. Perhaps he brought back with him a couple dozen trout to throw on the grill for the White House staffers.

His absence, and the president’s performance during it, can only add to the rumors that Bush is clueless without the Big Guy at his side.

This follows Bush himself remaining on vacation for more than two days after the storm hit, despite acknowledging this was the worst disaster in the nation’s history.

Steve Gilliard has a note to our conservative friends

Steve Gilliard at The News Blog has an outstanding post this morning, which belongs on the front page of every newspaper, should be read during every Sunday news show, and deserves to placed in the Congressional Record despite or because of containing words of profanity that need to be spoken.

I strongly encourage clicking through and reading the entire posting instead of just some of the excerpts, which follow.

We Told You So
Ever wonder why New Yorkers detest George Bush?

Because we experienced his incompetence up close and person. We knew this guy was full of shit, absolutely full of fucking shit, after they started to play games with the funding and gave Wyoming terrorism money. We knew he was an assclown then.
We have been screaming for two years that Bush and his team sucked. That they had no clue. They sent soldiers to be wounded in Iraq without armored anything. And you idiots cheered him on from the safety of your keyboards. We told you he was fucking up Iraq. But no, we supported Saddam, we were racist, we blamed America.

You say this isn't about politics? Fuck you, this IS politics, real time, real life politics, where the insanity of all your ideas are exposed to the world for the fraud that they are. Tax cuts kill. Ask the relatives of the dead of the Gulf Coast.
Well, motherfuckers, and that means you, fat ass Goldberg and your master, Rich Lowry, PNAC Bitch Beinart, the racist wannabe white Malkin and the little fucktards at LGF, Bareback Andy and "Diversity" Instacracker, all you backstabbing, fag hating uncle tom ministers, you can see Dear Leader in action. America's largest port is gone, maybe forever, gas is $5+ a gallon and FEMA is coming. Whores come faster with old men than FEMA is getting to NOLA.

How did your wartime President react? Like Chiang Kai-Shek when the Yellow River flooded in 1944, with corrupt indifference.

Bush, the man your fever dreams built into the next Winston Churchill when he is really the live action Chauncey Gardiner, has failed to everyone, in plain sight, without question. Rick Perry is trying to save his ass, but it ain't working. NOLA looks like ANGOLA and that ain't flying.

Say 9/11 changed everything now, motherfuckers. Ooops, 9/11, 9/11. 9/11. Doesn't work anymore? Gee, maybe the sea of alligator MRE's once known as the citizens of New Orleans has something to do with that. Now you can shut the fuck up about 9/11. Bush just proved what would happen with another 9/11. Dead Americans as far as the nose can smell.
George Bush's ineptitude has killed far more Americans than Osama could have dreamed of.
You can't hide behind racism forever. Bush fucked up, Bush is a weak, callous leader and the world knows this like it knows few other things. And all the stolen TV's in the world cannot hide that.

Friday, September 02, 2005

UPDATE: Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief: Waiting for a Leader

(original Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief: Waiting for a Leader)

Well, this article in the WaPo, Aid Offers Will Be Accepted From Countries seems to confirm what I supposed earlier about turning down international aided because it contradicts the general attitudes of the Bush administration, the GOP leadership and Fox News regarding the UN as an ineffective body while the Untied States is always helping other countries, but never receives help in return.
Boats, aircraft, tents, blankets, generators, cash assistance and medical teams have been offered to the U.S. government in Washington or in embassies overseas.

Offers have been received from Russia, Japan, Canada, France, Honduras, Germany, Venezuela, Jamaica, Australia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Greece, Hungary, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, China, South Korea, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, NATO and the Organization of American States, the spokesman said.


Still, Bush told ABC-TV: "I'm not expecting much from foreign nations because we hadn't asked for it. I do expect a lot of sympathy and perhaps some will send cash dollars. But this country's going to rise up and take care of it."

"You know," he said, "we would love help, but we're going to take care of our own business as well, and there's no doubt in my mind we'll succeed. And there's no doubt in my mind, as I sit here talking to you, that New Orleans is going to rise up again as a great city."


My anger is like the Incredible Hulk! It knows no bounds and the angrier I get the stronger I become!

"Hulk smash bad man. Hulk smash Bush!"

The Bush Anthem

Created by mentaldebris@myleftwing.com in her Fuss Bunnies diary series:

Thursday, September 01, 2005

As the world watches

Hastert: Rebuilding New Orleans 'doesn't make sense to me'
Asked in the interview whether it made sense to spend billions rebuilding a city that lies below sea level, he replied, "I don't know. That doesn't make sense to me."

Hastert later issued a statement saying he was not "advocating that the city be abandoned or relocated."

"My comments about rebuilding the city were intended to reflect my sincere concern with how the city is rebuilt to ensure the future protection of its citizens and not to suggest that this great and historic city should not be rebuilt," the statement said.
The "supposed" #3 man in the GOP, the Speaker of the House, the man second in line of succession to the President after VP Dick Cheney, saying the US can't reconstruct (rebuilding isn't sensible) a 500,000 population city in our own country when they have been telling the world how they were going to reconstruct a city of 6 million (as well as a country of 25 million) as a foreign occupier in another country.

Operation Blessing: This is just too f*-ing much!

FEMA on its web site page How You Can Help Hurricane Katrina Victims has a list of organizations for donations. The first two organizations on the list:
American Red Cross
1-800-HELP NOW (435-7669) English,
1-800-257-7575 Spanish;

Operation Blessing

Operation Blesing is Pat Robertson's controversial charity!

FEMA seems to be disregard their own warning right before the listing of charities:
# Beware of charity fraud. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) resources on how to make donations wisely.
# Please check with your tax advisor or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for more information regarding the tax deductibility of your donation.

More info about FEMA Directing Donations to Rev. Pat Robertson at Sploid.
“It’s an outrage,” said privacy watchdog Bill Scannell, who alerted Sploid to the FEMA / Robertson scam. “Operation f**cking Blessing? And it’s right underneath the Red Cross link!”

TomPaine.com had an article last year about this charity, Pat Robertson Counts His Federal Blessings
According to its Web site, the mission of Operation Blessing International (OBI) "is to demonstrate God's love by alleviating human need and suffering in the United States and around the world." Founded in 1978 by Pat Robertson, the organization "was originally set up to help struggling individuals and families by matching their needs for items such as clothing, appliances, vehicles with donated items from viewers of The 700 Club." In 1986, Operation Blessing International Relief and Development Corporation (OBI) was formed as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to handle international relief projects. In 1993, all Operation Blessing activities were transferred to OBI.

While OBI trumpets its work at home and abroad through its Web site, other sources provide a more nuanced picture. In 1996, the Norfolk, Va.-based Virginia-Pilot newspaper reported that two pilots who were hired by the charity to fly humanitarian aid to Zaire in 1994 were used almost exclusively for Robertson's diamond mining operations. Chief pilot Robert Hinkle, claimed that in the six months he flew for Operation Blessing, only one or two of more than 40 flights were humanitarian -- the rest carried mining equipment. OBI resources were being diverted to support the African Development Co., a private corporation run by Robertson. At the time, Robertson also had a special relationship with Zaire's late dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko.

"My first impression when I took the job was that we'd be called Operation Blessing and we'd be doing humanitarian work," Hinkle, a former Peace Corps volunteer, told the Virginia-Pilot. "We got over there and 'Operation Blessing' was painted on the tails of the airplanes, but we were doing no humanitarian relief at all. We were just supplying the miners and flying the dredges from Kinshasa out to Tshikapa."

The Vacation and Excuse President.

Vacation August, 2001

PDB titled, "Bin Laden determined to attack inside the US"

Excuses September, 2001

“Nobody expected planes would be used as missles."

"I am satisfied that I never saw any intelligence that indicated there was going to be an attack on America -- at a time and a place, an attack.”

“Had I known there was going to be an attack on America, I would have moved mountains to stop the attack. I would have done everything I can. My job is to protect the American people.”

Vacation August, 2005


Excuses September, 2005

"I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."

How many more Americans will have to suffer the continued excuses of a vacationing President because the work is too hard for him to protect the American people?

Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief: Waiting for a Leader

The title of a New York Times editorial this morning, Waiting for a Leader, sums up the ongoing relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The UN has declared Katrina as one of "the largest, most destructive natural disasters ever" and offered its assistance. Canada, Russia, Germany, Venezuela, in fact 10-12 countries have offered aide.

Surprised to hear about this? Have you seen any reports about the offers of aide in the newspapers or on TV? This is due to Waiting on a Leader. Stated in reports from AP and Reuters, but as of yet not syndicated:
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said earlier on Wednesday 10 to 12 foreign governments have offered general assistance to the United States to deal with the hurricane aftermath but no decision had been made about how these offers might be used.
A leader would have at least made the decision to have the assistance from other countries deployed to United States to be prepared for rapid deployment.

It gets worse...
The Bush administration is rejecting aide!

UN official says Katrina among worst natural disasters
United Nations Undersecretary-General Jan Egeland, who oversaw relief efforts after the Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004, offered Washington U.N. assistance in a formal letter to new U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton.

"The United Nations stands ready to help with any kind of disaster expertise that might be required ... in full recognition that the United States is the country in the world that possesses the greatest civilian and military search and rescue and recovery assets themselves," Egeland told Reuters in an interview.

He said U.S. officials had thanked the U.N. for its offer, but had not requested any assistance so far.

USA thanks Russia for offer of help, says it can handle crisis.
The United States said it is thankful to Russia for the readiness to provide assistance in eliminating the consequences of the Katrina hurricane, but believes it can handle the crisis on its own.

"In response to the official offer regarding the sending of an Emergencies Situation Ministry plane with rescuers and a helicopter on board, the USA, through the National Security Council, made several confirmations within a day of the inexpediency of such a move," Russian Ambassador to the United States Yuri Ushakov told reporters on Wednesday evening.

"The Embassy was told that federal authorities and specialized services have all the necessary means and equipment to conduct relief works in the disaster area," Ushakov said.

Why have these offers of aide not been accepted by the Bush administration? Who know? Perhaps federal authorities “have all the necessary means and equipment to conduct relief works in the disaster area”. Perhaps it contradicts the general attitudes of the Bush administration, the GOP leadership and Fox News regarding the UN as an ineffective body while the Untied States is always helping other countries, but never receives help in return.

However, if the federal authorities do indeed “have all the necessary means and equipment to conduct relief works in the disaster area”, then why is there so many apparent problems with the relief efforts?

The problems are a result of “Waiting for a Leader”!

Hurricane Politcs, an article in Newsweek, discusses some of the Bush administration's preparedness for handling Katrina:
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.

In addition prior to the disaster, Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco requested that President Bush declare a state of emergency due to Hurricane Katrina. Bush authorized emergency assistance for Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama so FEMA could move into these states with federal resources to save lives and property from the impact of Hurricane Katrina. Katrina was at this time a category 5 hurricane on approach to New Orleans.

A leader would have immediately returned to Washington to oversee and coordinate efforts to prepare for a hurricane that was being called “historic” even before it came ashore and all the forecasts that the levees in New Orleans would not hold. Bush was preoccupied with what he is best qualified to do—vacation. White House aides have repeatedly said throughout the month of Bush’s vacation that he is able to monitor everything from his ranch in Crawford where he "the president is getting frequent and regular updates from his staff.”

Now, Bush has cut his five-week vacation two days short to rush back to Washington to monitor the massive recovery effort after Katrina. So, was the President unable to monitor this from his ranch in Crawford or was it because of an image problem as reported in the Washington Post, Bush Cuts Texas Vacation Short to Oversee Hurricane Response:
With antiwar protesters camping out near the Bush ranch, advisers were particularly sensitive to the image of a president continuing to vacation amid the hurricane crisis. Bush's father, President George H.W. Bush, suffered political damage when his administration was criticized for a slow response to the damage wrought by Hurricane Andrew in Florida in 1992. The current president was quick to respond to four hurricanes in Florida last year.

Asked whether returning to Washington is more symbolic, given his ability to work from the ranch, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said, "No, I disagree," but he did not explain what difference it would make for Bush to be in Washington. "The president's preference is to manage the response from Washington, and that's why he made the decision to return," McClellan said.

FedNews Online released a report today entitled Federal Agencies Expand Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts. It contains a list of the ongoing relief efforts including many that have not necessarily been covered in other news. Some of the efforts, which have received news coverage, leave more questions about waiting for leadership.
DoD’s U.S. Transportation Command is flying eight swift water rescue teams to Lafayette, La. The teams will provide a total of 14 highly-trained personnel with vehicles and small, rigid-hulled boats capable of rescuing stranded citizens from flooded areas.

The Iwo Jima Amphibious Readiness Group is preparing to sail from Norfolk, Va., loaded with disaster response equipment. ARG consists of four amphibious ships and will be off the coast of Louisiana in the next four days.

The USNS Comfort, a hospital ship, is leaving Baltimore to bring medical assistance capabilities to the Gulf region and should arrive in six days.

Why were the swift water rescue teams not deployed after immediately after the hurricane had passed? Why were the naval ships from Norfolk and Baltimore not dispatched earlier given the known travel time from their homeports? The potential loss of lives that might have been saved if these efforts had not been delayed for the last two to three days is depressing.

A final look at “Waiting for a Leader” is presented at AMERICAblog by John Aravosis. Posted in a report on a interview with Admiral Timothy Keating, Cmdr. of US Northern Command tells CNN:
As you know, as you just said, initially, principally a local law enfrocement effort. If and when the president decides to step it up and use active duty forces, we will be, and it would be at almost certainly the request of the governor of Louisiana or Missippi... we would be able to respond with any number of options.

This explains the delay of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Readiness Group and the USNS Comfort, which are under the US Northern Command. Even our generals are “Waiting for a Leader” to be Commander-in-Chief.

Aravosis sums up the appropiate outrage that should be shared over this revelation:
If and when? IF AND WHEN?

We've known about this approaching disaster for well over 5 days, we've had the disaster for well over 2 days, and the commander of the US Northern Command, an Admiral no less, is talking about "if and when" the president decides to step up his response to the hurricane?
What will be the Bush legacy? Not a War President and not a resolute leader.

The Vacation President – never on the job!