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buzwardo
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« Reply #100 on: June 15, 2005, 11:25:36 AM »

I dunno, this piece comes dangerously close to allowing logic and good sense into the discussion. . . .


June 15, 2005, 7:48 a.m.
Gitmo by Any Other Name?
?is still necessary.
Jonah Goldberg


There?s a lot I don?t understand about the current hysteria over our prison facility at Guantanamo Bay. At the top of the list is why no one has mentioned Louis Pepe or Mamdouh Mahmud Salim.

Salim, a reputed top lieutenant of Osama bin Laden, was being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a high security federal jail in lower Manhattan. Pepe was a guard there. On November 1, 2000, Salim plunged a sharpened comb into Pepe?s left eye and three inches into his brain. Salim and a compatriot also beat Pepe savagely, in their effort to get the guard?s keys and orchestrate an escape for himself and two fellow terrorists awaiting trial. Believing Pepe was dead, the attackers used his own blood to paint a Christian cross on his torso. Pepe was an experienced correctional officer, a member of the elite MCC Enforcers Disturbance Control, and he weighed in at 300 pounds. He survived the attack with brain damage, crippling disabilities, and an unending stream of surgeries.

The reason Pepe and Salim are relevant should be obvious. There are good guys and bad guys in this story, and as much as it pains some to hear it, we are the good guys. We are not talking about confused teenagers caught up in events larger than themselves. We aren?t talking about mistaken identities. We?re talking about the cream of our enemy?s crop in the war on terror.

Critics of the Bush administration are fond of the argument that the war in Iraq is a distraction from the real war on terror. John Kerry, Howard Dean, and countless others have argued that Iraq diluted our efforts in Afghanistan, the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, and the worldwide consensus on the need to destroy al Qaeda. That?s an argument worth having ? and we have had it many times over. But if it were all true and we had never invaded Iraq, we would still have Guantanamo and the problem of what to do with hardened, dedicated terrorists like Salim.

Of course, we could close Guantanamo, but if you actually support the war on terror you must recognize that we would still need someplace like it. A rose by any other name and all that. We can?t summarily execute every al Qaeda member we capture. Not just because that would raise legitimate moral and legal problems, but because we can?t win unless we interrogate these guys.

Senator Joe Biden said that while we should close Gitmo and release the occupants, we should also ?keep those we have reason to keep.? Huh? This is the logical equivalent of Solomon saying, ?Hey, let?s cut the baby in half after all.? Imagine if, instead of Gitmo, the issue was the death penalty. ?The death penalty should be abolished, but let?s execute the folks there?s a reason to execute.?

If we kept the ones ?we have reason to keep? ? which would probably mean all 500 or so current detainees ? but closed Gitmo, we could bring them to the United States. But this would be a legal quagmire, as it isn?t clear what their rights would be on U.S. soil. And it would be a disaster to treat them like common criminals with all of the usual constitutional rights. Nobody read these murderers their rights when they were seized in Afghanistan, and it?s not like the cast of ?CSI: Kabul? or ?Kandahar PD Blue? collected all the necessary forensic evidence to build a case against them. Does that mean we should just let them go? We certainly can?t set them free on American soil. And if we send them back to Afghanistan or Pakistan, it would be like giving them a do-over.

Any new Gitmo would quickly gain the same reputation as the old one because a) al-Qaida is under strict orders to allege all manner of abuses for propaganda purposes, especially now that such tactics have proved so useful, and b) because the ?international community? and other lovers of runny cheese desperately want such allegations to be true, regardless of the evidence. That the head of Amnesty International could call Gitmo, where we spend more money on the care and feeding of detainees than we do on our own troops, the ?Gulag of our time? is all the evidence we need for that. Caving into such bullying would send the unmistakable message that American can be rolled.

Now, none of this is to say that the U.S. military should have carte blanche to torture or harass detainees. There must be rules, and it is perfectly fair to debate what those rules should be. But unlike the lawless calamity of Abu Ghraib, the evidence is sparse that Guantanamo is anything like the house of horrors depicted by its detractors. In other words, if there are abuses, remedy them. If allegations are propagandistic lies, rebut them as best you can.

But caving into a defamation campaign in order to please those who cannot be pleased and aiding those who must not be aided is no way to support the war on terror or prevent more victims like Louis Pepe.
   
http://www.nationalreview.com/goldberg/goldberg200506150748.asp
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #101 on: June 18, 2005, 09:12:28 AM »

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/GuestColumns/Ham20050617.shtmlWhere have all the good spines gone? To Sea.
Mary Katharine Ham (archive)


June 17, 2005
Well, the crab season is officially over. And I will never look at an all-you-can-eat crab leg buffet the same again.

I've been watching 'Deadliest Catch' a Discovery Channel mini-series about the world's most dangerous profession: Alaskan crab fishing. The show follows a handful of fishing boats through the crests and troughs of a five-day crab season. Five days. Sounds easy, right? Not when there is a quota for the fleet and you're competing against hundreds of other boats to haul in your share before Fish and Game calls the end of the season over a crackling radio.

Not when there's 37-degree water, freak 45-foot waves, and nothing but an ice-slicked deck and railing standing between you and the Bering Sea.

The men work days-long shifts, grabbing two hours' pillow time here and there, maximizing the number of 800-lb. crab pots they can throw and reel in during the abbreviated fishery. The pots, made of what looks like rusty chain link, crash into the sea and settle heavily on the green, muddy bottom, zipping 300 feet of rope over the railing behind them. Get a foot caught in that rope and you're gone; hit that water without a survival suit and you're gone; find your ship sitting under a squall and you're quite possibly gone.

As you would imagine, the fishermen are gruff, nary a one without dirty facial hair and dirtier language.

And I like them. Sure, there's a glint of crazy in some of their eyes and more than a hint of a barfight in many of their smiles, but they're all men who do hard work at great risk, hoping to hit it big, and go home better off. They understand the risks they take, they know the reward that?s possible, they weigh the costs and benefits, and they cast off.

These days, it?s helpful to watch a show like 'Deadliest Catch' to remind you of what Americans can be: responsible, grimly determined, and just plain tough. Sometimes it's easy to forget, especially so in the past couple of weeks.

First came the preeners of the Great Compromise:

"Thank God for this moment and for these colleagues of mine," said Sen. Robert Byrd.

"We have reached an agreement to try to avert a crisis in the United States Senate," said Sen. John McCain.

In the Bering Sea, on a ship called the Maverick, men expend far fewer words on far braver acts than bucking one's party leadership.

After that, the Senate let me down again when a red-blooded red-stater indulged in some public parliamentary blubbering'over President Bush?s nominee for ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton. As James Taranto put it in Tuesday's Best of the Web:

Voinovich was blubbering because John Bolton, a man who is purported to be socially rough-edged, is about to become America's ambassador to the U.N. This is not something that would make a normal person weep.
Back on the Fierce Allegiance and the Lady Alaska, men honor a friend who slipped overboard and out of their lives with a stiff upper lip and a moment of silence.

So, what does the State Department have to offer? A pamphlet that reminds us that 'Real Men Moisturize,' with several different lotions, even. It?s a good thing I know plenty of real American men who counter the image of this product-centric creature. Unfortunately, the people this pamphlet is aimed at Arab youth don't know a lot of real American men. And the cause of building bridges with that community is probably not well-served by flaunting our pliable gender constructs.

But these are just pockets of prissiness, right? No, I'm informed that this really is the new man, and I better get ready for him:

"The masculine ideal is being completely modified. All the traditional male values of authority, infallibility, virility and strength are being completely overturned," said Pierre Francois Le Louet, the agency's managing director.

According to this article- dateline, Paris- the new man also has the 'guts' to trade in a traditional wife for something more along the lines of wife swapping. Luckily, father/blogger/columnist and regular American guy with guts, James Lileks, takes some time to explain the term for the new man.

I hate to break it to these theorists, but it does not take guts for a young man to want to have multiple sex partners. It takes guts to settle down and have a family and rein in the roaming libido.  Back in the Bering Sea, Capt. Pete Liske calls home to discipline one of his nine adopted kids over the radio.

But perhaps the most emasculating whining in the past couple weeks has come from folks who actually believe Gitmo is a 'gulag.' When dealing with the would-be 20th hijacker of 9/11, these folks believe that loud Christina Aguilera music, dripping water, exposure to females, proximity to dogs, and thorough medical care constitute ?torture.? Democrat leaders and weak-kneed Republicans are mewling about closing Gitmo altogether.

On the Bering Sea, water that drips instead of gushes from the heavens would be a luxury, sleep deprivation is a perpetual state, and exposure to women would most assuredly not be considered torture.

Luckily, there's another man with guts who will inject some sense into the debate:

"The important thing here to understand is that the people that are at Guantanamo are bad people," Vice President Dick Cheney said.

By 'bad people,' he means enemy combatants who scorn military uniforms to gain strategic advantage by blending in with civilians. He means enemy combatants who are not technically entitled to Geneva Convention protections, but who get them at Gitmo, along with their fried chicken dinners. Closing Gitmo as a response to this kind of criticism would be an admission that we are the pedicuring, Kleenex-carrying society we?ve looked like lately.

We can't afford such an admission. Many seem to forget that we are engaged in a fight with an enemy that wants us all dead. All of us?civilian and military alike?because we are a many-hued, many-faithed nation and we like it that way; because our citizens can treat flags and holy texts in any way they wish without being killed; and because we let the womenfolk write columns, among many other transgressions.

It is not mere understanding that will win this fight and keep us alive. It is most certainly not preening or crying, or moisturizing, or shutting down prisons that will do the trick either.

Thank goodness we have folks like this, and this, and this, and many more who are willing to show some spine in this fight. There is a deadly storm at sea. To get through it, we need grizzly fishermen at the helm, not scuttling invertebrates.
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buzwardo
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« Reply #102 on: June 22, 2005, 03:39:26 PM »

How this story can be so uniformly ignored is beyond me. Maybe it's only interesting when the bomb actually goes off. . . .

Bauer: Major TV Networks Boycotted 'Hospital Bomber' Story
Wednesday, June 22, 2005 / 15 Sivan 5765

Despite the distribution of a video of the Arab suicide bomber who intended to blow up a hospital by the IDF, nearly all foreign news agencies chose to boycott the story altogether.

An outraged former undersecretary to US President Ronald Reagan and candidate for Republican Presidential nominee, Gary Bauer wrote a scathing critique of the world media?s decision to avoid the story.

Excerpts from Bauer?s letter:

?If you don't get the Fox News Channel then you didn't see any of the dramatic footage of the Israeli army's arrest yesterday of a 21-year old, female Palestinian homicide-bomber, strapped with 25 pounds of high-explosives, just moments before she was to commit mass-murder by detonating herself inside an Israeli hospital. No other television network featured the story.

?Utterly ignoring the extraordinary video of the homicide-bomber's arrest, both the BBC and CNN focused extensively on how much ?damage? Israel's early morning arrest - for which there was no video - of 55 Fatah and Islamic Jihad terrorists, described by CNN as ?Palestinian activists,? would cause to today's scheduled ?summit meeting? between Israeli Prime Minister Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

?That only one network would air incredible footage of the seizure of a ticking human-bomb, just moments before she tried to murder hospital patients, means this story was not simply ignored by the mainstream media - it was boycotted by the mainstream media. Since nearly every aspect of this remarkable story contradicts everything the mainstream media has been trying to tell us about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they just opted for the easiest way to handle it - denying it ever happened.

[?]

?Ignoring the story meant the networks didn't need to tell viewers that yesterday's homicide-bomber was not dispatched by terrorists of Islamic Jihad or Hamas, groups opposed to President Abbas, but was in fact working for the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade, which is controlled by the political party Fatah, whose chairman is none other than President Abbas himself!

?Ignoring the story meant not having to reveal that the would-be-murderer had been traveling regularly to Israel for years on a valid medical pass, which granted the woman free treatment for burns she received in a home cooking accident, and was thus ruthlessly exploited by depraved terrorists whose shameless capacity to cynically manipulate goodness, in their pursuit of murder and death, knows no bounds.

[?]

?Ignoring the story meant not having to cover comments the female-terrorist made in a rare army supervised press conference in which she revealed what her mission was and who sent her. "I believe in death," she said on Israeli TV. "All my life I have been preparing to be a martyr. Mother, please forgive me for failing in [my] mission." Sentiments not exactly consistent with the line long peddled by the liberal media, and more recently even by the Bush administration, that Israel is the obstacle to "peace."

http://sandiego.cox.net/cci/apvideo/0620gaza_explo_300.wmv
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buzwardo
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« Reply #103 on: June 23, 2005, 10:59:19 AM »

Guantanamo Loses 5 Star Rating

By: Ann Coulter

If you still have any doubts about whether closing Guantanamo is the right thing to do, Jimmy Carter recently cleared that up by demanding that it be closed. With any luck, he'll try to effect another one of those daring "rescue" attempts. Here's a foolproof method for keeping America safe: Always do the exact 180-degree opposite of whatever Jimmy Carter says as quickly as possible. (Instead of Guantanamo, how about we close down the Carter Center?)

Sen. Dick Durbin says it is reminiscent of the "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime ? Pol Pot or others." (He then offered the typical Democrat "if/then" non-apology: i.e., "if my remarks offended anyone," based on the rather remote possibility any sentient, English-speaking adult who didn't hate America could have heard them and not been offended.)


Amnesty International calls Guantanamo a "gulag." Sen. Teddy Kennedy says he cannot condone allegations of near-drowning "as a human being." And Sen. Patrick Leahy calls it "an international embarrassment," as opposed to himself, a "national embarrassment."

On the bright side, at least liberals have finally found a group of people in Cuba whom they think deserve to be rescued.

In the interests of helping my country, I have devised a compact set of torture guidelines for Guantanamo.

It's not torture if:

* The same acts performed on a live stage have been favorably reviewed by Frank Rich of the New York Times;

* Andrew Sullivan has ever solicited it from total strangers on the Internet;

* You can pay someone in New York to do it to you;

* Karen Finley ever got a federal grant to do it;

* It's comparable to the treatment U.S. troops received in basic training;

* It's no worse than the way airlines treat little girls in pigtails flying to see Grandma.

It turns out that the most unpleasant aspect of life at Guantanamo for the detainees came with the move out of the temporary "Camp X-Ray." Apparently, wanton homosexual sex among the inmates is more difficult in their newer, more commodious quarters. (Suspiciously, detainees retailing outlandish tales of abuse to the American Civil Liberties Union often include the claim that they were subjected to prolonged rectal exams.) Plus, I hear the views of the Caribbean aren't quite as good from their new suites.

Even the tales of "torture" being pawned off by the detainees on credulous American journalists are pretty lame.

The Washington Post reported that a detainee at Guantanamo says he was "threatened with sexual abuse." (Bonus "Not Torture" rule: If it is similar to the way interns were treated in the Clinton White House.)

"Sign or you will be tortured!"

"What's the torture?"

"We will merely threaten you with horrible things!"

"That's it?"

"Shut up and do as we say, or we'll issue empty, laughable threats guaranteed to amuse you. This is your last warning."

One detainee in Afghanistan told a hyperventilating reporter for Salon that he was forced to stand with his arms in the air for "hours." Doctor, I still have nightmares about the time I was forced to stand with my arms up in the air ...

Others claimed they were forced into uncomfortable, unnatural positions, sort of like the Democrats' position on abortion. Next, the interrogators will be threatening to slightly undercook the Lemon Chicken!

According to Time magazine, this is how the "gulag of our time" treats the inmates: "The best-behaved detainees are held in Camp 4, a medium-security, communal-living environment with as many as 10 beds in a room; prisoners can play soccer or volleyball outside up to nine hours a day, eat meals together and read Agatha Christie mysteries in Arabic."

So they're not exactly raping the detainees with dogs at Guantanamo. (I still think the gift shop T-shirts that said "My dad went to Guantanamo and all I got was this lousy T-shirt" goes too far.)

The only question is: Why do Democrats take such relish in slandering their country? If someone was constantly telling vicious lies about you, would you believe they supported and loved you?

"I love John Doe, and that's why I accuse him of committing serial rape and mass murder. Oh, he doesn't do that? Yes, but how dare you say I don't love John Doe!"

And now back to our regular programming on Air America ...

http://www.iconoclast.ca/MainPage.asp?page=/NewPage16.asp
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buzwardo
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« Reply #104 on: June 26, 2005, 12:08:04 AM »

Hanson's scope and sweep always amazes. . . .

The Politics of American Wars
Islamists have proved adept at winning liberal exemption from criticism.
Victor Davis Hanson


For all the talk of imperial America, and our frequent "police actions," we are hardly militarists. Protected by two oceans, and founded on the principles of non-interference in Europe's bloody internecine wars, the United States has always been rightly circumspect about going to war abroad. The American people are highly individualistic, skeptical of war's utility, and traditionally distrustful of government ? and wary of the need of their sacrifice for supposed global agendas.

So we go to war reluctantly. And being human, our support for war hinges on its being short and economical, and waged for professed idealistic principles. Wars that drag on past three years ? from the Civil War to Vietnam ? can often lead to demonstrations and popular disdain.

By the same token, some politics are more compatible with the American perception of the need to fight.

It was not only Lincoln's gifted rhetoric that got the Union through Cold Harbor and the Wilderness, but after the war's initial months of hard fighting, his reinvention of the North's very aims, from a utilitarian struggle to restore the United States to a moral crusade to end slavery and the power of the plantationists for good. In that effort, he was willing to suspend habeas corpus, sidestep the Congress, and govern large chunks of the border states through martial law.

Woodrow Wilson intervened liberally in Central America. He led us to war against right-wing Prussian militarism. His "too proud to fight" slogan in was no time scrapped for the Fourteen Points, a utopian blueprint for the nations of the world, handed down by a former professor from his high and moralistic Olympus.

Few worried that Franklin Delano Roosevelt not only waged a savage global struggle against Italian, German, and Japanese fascism, but in the process did some pretty unsavory and markedly illiberal things at home. It was no right-wing nut who locked up Japanese Americans without regard for habeas corpus or ordered German agents to be shot as terrorists.

To end the dictatorial and genocidal plans of Slobodan Milosevic, liberal Bill Clinton was willing to bomb downtown Belgrade, commit American forces to a major campaign without U.S. Senate approval, and bypass the United Nations altogether. Few accused him of fighting an illegal war, contravening U.N. protocols, or cowardly dropping bombs on civilians. In all these cases, public opposition was pretty much muted, despite the horrendous casualties involved in some of the conflicts.

Some general principles, then, can guide us in determining American reactions to war, and they transcend even the notion of comparative sacrifice and cost. Progressives such as Wilson and Clinton, who, we are assured, hate war, can intervene far more easily, and are more likely to receive a pass from a hypercritical elite media.

In the end, they always seem forced to fight by circumstances, since their very liberal natures are supposed to abhor optional conflicts. FDR's wartime criminal-justice apparatus trumped anything that John Ashcroft could imagine, but it has remained relatively unexamined even to this day: Liberals must have had very good reasons to put non-white people in camps, so contrary to their innate notions of social justice.

Second, the United States seems to be more united against right-wing fascism than left-wing totalitarianism, perhaps because our elites in academia, journalism, and politics feel authoritarian dictators from the right lack the veneer of egalitarian empathy for the poor. In any case, we are more prone even today to assume the 6-8 million Hitler slaughtered puts him in a category far worse than Stalin or Mao, despite the fact that the two combined did away with ten times Hitler's tally.

During World War II, here at home we experienced nothing like the Rosenbergs or Alger Hiss working for the Axis, even though Soviet-inspired global Communism would end up liquidating 80 million in Russia and China alone. Fighting North Korea or North Vietnam ? or even waging the Cold War ? was a far more difficult enterprise than opposing the Kaiser, Hitler, Mussolini, or Tojo. Our successes were often due to the efforts of strong anti-Communist democrats such as Harry Truman, who could assure our influential universities, media, politicians, writers, actors, and foundations of the real danger, and the fact that the president had little choice but to go to war.

In this context, many had some apprehensions about the present so-called war on terror. Ostensibly, the Islamists who had pulled off September 11 largely fit past definitions of fascism and so should have galvanized universal traditional American furor.

The tribal followers of bin Laden advocated a return to a mythical age of ideological purity uncorrupted by modernism, democracy, or pluralism. Islamism certainly held no tolerance for other religions, much less any who were not extreme Muslims. Sexism and racism ? remember bin Laden's taunts about Africans, ongoing slavery in the Sudan, and the genocide in Darfur ? were an integral part of radical Islamist doctrine. Al-Qaeda was not so much chauvinistic as misogynistic. Substitute bin Laden's evocation of "believer" for the old "Volk," and the crackpot rants about world domination, purity, and the anti-Semitic slurs of "apes and pigs" fall into the old fascist slots.

It is no accident that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Mein Kampf are still popular sellers among zealots in some capitals of the Arab world. Was our war on terror, then, going to be morally clear to even the most progressive utopian, since our enemies lacked liberal pretensions and the charisma of a Stalin, Ho, Che, or Fidel that so often duped the gullible?

Hardly.

Two factors explain the current growing hysteria over Iraq, and they transcend the complex nature of the war and even the depressing media reports from the battlefield. First is the strange doctrine of multiculturalism that has become one of our most dominant boutique ideologies of the last few decades, as the United States experienced unleveled prosperity, leisure ? and guilt.

All cultures are of equal merit; failure and poverty abroad are never due to indigenous pathology but rather Western colonialism, racism, Christianity, and gender bias. The Other is never to be judged by our own "biased" standards of jurisprudence and "constructed" bourgeois notions of humanity; those poorer, darker, non-Christian, and non-English-speaking are to be collectively grouped as victims, deserving condescension, moral latitude, and some sort of reparations or downright cash grants. Senator Patti Murray gave us the soccer-mom version of this pathology when she once talked of the need to rival bin Laden's supposed humanitarian projects in Afghanistan, while Senator Durbin assures us from a private e-mail that poor suspects in Cuba (no longer terrorists who plot to butcher more thousands) suffer the similar fate of Hitler's victims.

As September 11 faded in our collective memory, Muslim extremists were insidiously but systematically reinvented in our elite presentations as near underprivileged victims, and themselves often adept critics of purported rapacious Western consumerism, oil profiteering, heavy-handed militarism, and spiritual desolation.

Extremists who would otherwise be properly seen in the fascistic mold were instead given a weird pass for their quite public and abhorrent hatred of non-believers and homosexuals, and their Neanderthal views of women. Beheadings, the murder of Christians, suicide bombings carried out by children, systematic torture ? all this and more paled in comparison to hot and cold temperatures in American jails on Cuba. Suddenly despite our enemies' long record of murder and carnage, we were in a war not with fascism of the old stamp, but with those who were historical victims of the United States. Thus problems arose of marshalling American public opinion against the supposedly weaker that posited legitimate grievances against Western hegemons. It was no surprise that Sen. Durbin's infantile rantings would be showcased on al-Jazeera.

When Western liberals today talk of a mythical period in the days after 9/11 of "unity" and "European solidarity" what they really remember is a Golden Age of Victimhood, or about four weeks before the strikes against the Taliban commenced. Then for a precious moment at last the United States was a real victim, apparently weak and vulnerable, and suffering cosmic justice from a suddenly empowered other. Oh, to return to the days before Iraq and Afghanistan, when we were hurt, introspective, and pitied, and had not yet "lashed out."

If one examines the infomercials of a bin Laden or Zawahiri, or the terrorist communiqu?s sent to the Westernized media, they are almost all rehashes of the Michael Moore Left, from "Bush lied" to "Halliburton" to "genocide" and "Gulag." This now famous "Unholy Alliance" of radical anti-Americans and reactionary jihadists is really a two-way street: Islamists mimic the old leftist critique of the United States, and the Western Left hopes that they in turn can at least tone down their rhetoric about knocking walls over gays or sending all women into burka seclusion ? at least long enough to pose as something like disposed Palestinians minus the Hamas bombs laced with feces, rat poison, and nails.

The second problem was that not only were we no longer clearly fighting a right-wing extremist ideology, but Texan, twangy, and conservative President Bush was hard to repackage into the reluctant liberal warrior in the image of Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Harry Truman, or Bill Clinton.

So there was never much room for error in this war. We are not talking in this postmodern era in terms of a past Democratic president invading Latin America, interring citizens in high-plains camps, hanging terrorist suspects, nuking cities, or bombing pharmaceutical factories in Africa, but, at least from the weird present hysteria, something apparently far worse ? like supposedly flushing a Koran at Guantanamo.

In a leisured and liberal society, it is very difficult in general for a conservative to wage war, because the natural suspicion arises ? as a result of the conservative's tragic view of human nature and his belief in the occasional utility of force ? that he enjoys the enterprise far more than a lip-biting progressive, who may in fact order more destruction. George H. W. Bush barely pulled off freeing Kuwait, but only because he fought on the ground for only four days, used the aegis of the U.N., pulled back on televised images of the so-called "Highway of Death," and was able to avoid going to Baghdad and dealing with a murdering despot still in power.

In contrast, once the metamorphosis of the Islamists from fascists to victimized critics of the West was underway, and once a suspect conservative like George Bush eschewed the old League of Nations utopianism, the fireside chat, and the "I feel your pain" persona of traditional Democratic war leaders, I feared we would have real trouble finishing this war.

Contrary to all recent popular wisdom, the war in Iraq is not a disaster, but nearing success. It has been costly and at times tragic, but a democracy is in place, accords are being hammered out with Sunni rejectionists, and the democratic reformist mindset is pulsating into Lebanon, Egypt, and the Gulf. This has only been possible because of the courage and efficacy of a much maligned military that, for the lapses of a small minority at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, has been compared to Stalin and Hitler.

If President Bush were a liberal Democrat; if he were bombing a white Christian, politically clumsy fascist in the heart of Europe; if al Qaeda and its Islamist adherents were properly seen as eighth-century tormenters of humanists, women, homosexuals, non-Arabs, and non-Wahhabi believers; and if Iraq had become completely somnolent with the toppling of Saddam's statue, then the American people would have remained behind the effort to dismantle Islamic fundamentalism and create the foundations to ensure its permanent demise.

But once the suicide murdering and bombing from Iraq began to dominate the news, then this administration, for historical reasons largely beyond its own control, had a very small reservoir of good will. The Islamists proved to be more adept in the public relations of winning liberal exemption from criticism than did the administration itself, as one nude Iraqi on film or a crumpled Koran was always deemed far worse than daily beheadings and executions. Indeed, the terrorists were able to morph into downtrodden victims of a bullying, imperialistic America faster than George W. Bush was able to appear a reluctant progressive at war with the Dark Age values of our enemies.

And once that transformation was established, we were into a dangerous cycle of a conservative, tough-talking president intervening abroad to thwart the poorer of the third world ? something that has never been an easy thing in recent American history, but now in our own age has become a propagandist's dream come true.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #105 on: June 27, 2005, 06:05:30 PM »

For the record, post WW2 Germans should be judged in their own right and not have the sins of their fathers visited upon them.
=================

 
 
 
Sent: Monday, June 27, 2005 2:27 PM
Subject: Ralph "The Heckler" Peters


GERHARD'S GROVEL
By RALPH PETERS

IN the bitter winter of 1077, Kaiser Heinrich IV, a vicious German politico, pursued the pope to a mountain castle to beg him to lift his excommunication. The pope let the emperor wait barefoot in the courtyard for three days before granting an audience.

When Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder visits the White House today, our president should at least keep him waiting three hours. Extend that morning meeting with the Deputy Plumber's Guild of Peoria. Presidents have to prioritize.

Bush won't be rude, of course. Besides, he's got more on his schedule than a burnt-out German hack ? he's got to get the chancellor in and out. It'll be enough to watch Schroeder squirm as he crawls to the Oval Office, begging to be taken seriously again.

Schroeder's so pathetic these days that it's almost ? almost ? tempting to pity him. He was never a man of substance, just a populist slimeball who told more lies in public than Bill Clinton did in private. But the Herr Kanzler figured he could coast on the legacy better men had left behind in Germany. He never had a program, just ambition.

And Schroeder blew it on every single front. With his penchant for grandstanding and an appetite for licking Jacques Chirac's boots, he made a great show of "standing up to Bush" while defending Saddam Hussein. In doing so, he wrecked an alliance of a half-century's standing that had allowed Germany a voice in world affairs it never deserved.

Think Germany's been forgiven? Talk to any American general or diplomat off the record.

At home, Schroeder lacked the vision or courage to undertake anything beyond cosmetic reforms of Germany's gasping economy. The result: the highest level of unemployment since the end of World War II, with developing-world joblessness in his country's industrial heartland.

The children of the Auschwitz guards love to lecture us about human rights. But they won't even give their youth hope for the future. How can a society claim to be humane when it condemns its citizens to lifelong unemployment and the humiliation of the dole?

Under Schroeder, Germany's educational system continued to deteriorate, the country's brain-drain accelerated, industry shifted jobs abroad and the Teutonic reputation for quality craftsmanship went into free-fall (pretty grim when the reliability rating of Mercedes is below that of Hyundai . . . ).

Now Schroeder's lies have caught up with him. Germans want him out. And he's desperate to end his dying chancellorship on any faintly positive note he can. So the Windbeutel invited himself to Washington and our president graciously offered to buy him lunch.

What does Schroeder want? Besides a free meal?

First, he wants a photo op that lets him pretend he's still taken seriously by the most powerful man in the world.

Second, he'll get down on his knees and promise to be good, good, good as gold if only Bush will back Germany's bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.

Bush would be as nutty as Howard Dean to agree. There are, indeed, a few countries deserving of a new reserved seat at the Security Council's Theater of the Absurd ? Brazil and India head the list ? but Germany's claim to a permanent chair falls somewhere between the aspirations of Liberia and Myanmar.

Why should a decaying, neurotic country with a recent history of massive genocide be granted a seat at the world's most exclusive table? Russia already fills that bill.

But Gerhard, having stabbed the American people in the back with a dull knife two years ago, is hoping against hope that our short historical memory will kick in and we'll forget that one of his favored parliamentarians compared Bush to Hitler ? and the chancellor didn't offer one word of apology.

Schroeder will blabber on about the long tradition of friendship between our two nations. Come again? We had to force democracy on the Germans at gunpoint. They sucked our strategic blood for 50 years and then chose Saddam Hussein over Uncle Sam.

Yeah, we're pals, Fritz. Here comes the big bratwurst.

Our president can afford to be gracious to the beggar on the South Lawn. Bush doesn't have to land any haymakers on the punch-drunk pol: Tony Blair, the British lion incarnate, is ripping off the chancellor's limbs in a diplomatic Monty Python skit.

Blair has given Chirac and Schroeder such a hammering over their refusal to reform the European Union's antiquated system of subsidies that even German newspapers have accepted that the Brit is right: The European Union can't heal itself without serious, painful changes.

Blair wants money moved from giveaway programs to research and development. Schroeder and Chirac want to keep rewarding Europe's unproductive and inefficient farmers and vintners for being unproductive and inefficient.

A week ago, Schroeder thought he saw an opening when Blair torpedoed the business-as-usual E.U. budget. Now he finds that even his longtime allies believe that Blair nailed it.

Justice doesn't always prevail in this complex, tormented world. But sometimes it does. It's lovely to see Chirac in the merde in France and Schroeder begging for mercy in D.C.

All we can hope is that President Bush doesn't succumb to one iota of pity: Don't forgive, don't forget. Schroeder's perfidy aided America's enemies. The chancellor should go home without so much as a souvenir fountain pen.

Bush should smile, listen, shake hands ? then let the "tin chancellor" suffer the consequences his duplicity brought down upon him.

Ralph Peters' is a retired Colonel.
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« Reply #106 on: July 01, 2005, 10:09:28 AM »

A Police Perspective On Gun Control & Political Correctness


By

Jim Mortellaro
Source: New York State Fraternal Order Of Police 6-29-00

It's amazing what one has to believe to believe in gun control:
That the more helpless you are the safer you are from criminals.

That Washington DC's low murder rate of 69 per 100,000 is due to gun
control, and Indianapolis' high murder rate of 9 per 100,000 is due to
the lack of gun control.

That "NYPD Blue" and "Miami Vice" are documentaries.

That an intruder will be incapacitated by tear gas or oven spray, but if
shot with a .44 Magnum will get angry and kill you.

That firearms in the hands of private citizens are the gravest threat to
world peace, and China, Pakistan and Korea can be trusted with nuclear
weapons.

That Charlton Heston as president of the NRA is a shill who should be
ignored, but Michael Douglas as a representative of Handgun Control,
Inc. is an ambassador for peace who is entitled to an audience at the UN
arms control summit.

That ordinary people, in the presence of guns, turn into slaughtering
butchers, and revert to normal when the weapon is removed.

That the New England Journal of Medicine is filled with expert advice
about guns, just like Guns and Ammo has some excellent treatises on
heart surgery.

That one should consult an automotive engineer for safer seatbelts, a
civil engineer for a better bridge, a surgeon for spinal paralysis, a
computer programmer for Y2K problems, and Sarah Brady for firearms
expertise.

That the "right of the people peaceably to assemble," the "right of the
people to be secure in their homes," "enumeration's herein of certain
rights shall not be construed to disparage others retained by the
people," "The powers not delegated herein are reserved to the states
respectively, and to the people," refer to individuals, but "the right
of the people to keep and bear arms" refers to the states.

That the 2nd Amendment, ratified in 1787, allows the states to have a
National Guard, created by act of Congress in 1917.

That the National Guard, paid by the federal government, occupying
property leased to the federal government, using weapons owned by the
federal government, punishing trespassers under federal law, is a state
agency.

That private citizens can't have handguns, because they serve no militia
purpose, even though the military has hundreds of thousands of them, and
private citizens can't have assault rifles, because they are military
weapons.

That it is reasonable for California to have a minimum 2 year sentence
for possessing but not using an assault rifle, and reasonable for
California to have a 6 month minimum sentence for raping a female police
officer.

That it is reasonable to jail people for carrying but not using guns,
but outrageous to jail people for possessing marijuana.

That minimum sentences violate civil rights, unless it's for possessing
a gun.

That door-to-door searches for drugs are a gross violation of civil
rights and a sign of fascism, but door-to-door searches for guns are a
reasonable solution to the "gun problem."

That the first amendment absolutely allows child pornography and threats
to kill cops, but doesn't apply to manuals on gun repair.

That Illinois' law that allows any government official from Governor to
dogcatcher to carry a gun is reasonable, and the law that prohibits any
private citizen, even one with 50 death threats on file and a
million-dollar jewelry business, is reasonable. And it isn't a sign of
police statism.

That free speech entitles one to own newspapers, transmitters,
computers, and typewriters, but self-defense only justifies bare hands.

That gun safety courses in school only encourage kids to commit
violence, but sex education in school doesn't encourage kids to have
sex.

That the ready availability of guns today, with only a few government
forms, waiting periods, checks, infringements, ID, and fingerprinting,
is responsible for all the school shootings, compared to the lack of
school shootings in the 1950's and 1960's, which was caused by the
awkward availability of guns at any hardware store, gas station, and by
mail order.

That we must get rid of guns because a deranged lunatic may go on a
shooting spree at any time and anyone who owns a gun out of fear of such
a lunatic is paranoid.

That there is too much explicit violence featuring guns on TV, and that
cities can sue gun manufacturers because people aren't aware of the
dangers involved with guns.

That the gun lobby's attempt to run a "don't touch" campaign about kids
handling guns is propaganda, and the anti-gun lobby's attempt to run a
"don't touch" campaign is responsible social activity.

That the crime rate in America is decreasing because of gun control and
the increase in crime requires more gun control.

That 100 years after its founding, the NRA got into the politics of guns
from purely selfish motives, and 100 years after the Emancipation
Proclamation, the black civil rights movement was founded from purely
noble motives.

That statistics showing high murder rates justify gun control, and
statistics that show increasing murder rates after gun control are "just
statistics."

That we don't need guns against an oppressive government, because the
Constitution has internal safeguards, and we should ban and seize all
guns, therefore violating the 2nd, 4th, and 5th Amendments of that
Constitution, thereby becoming an oppressive government.

That guns are an ineffective means of self defense for rational adults,
but in the hands of an ignorant criminal become a threat to the fabric
of society.

That guns are so complex to use that special training is necessary to
use them properly, and so simple to use that they make murder easy.

That guns cause crime, which is why there are so many mass slayings at
gun shows.

That guns aren't necessary to national defense, which is why the army
only has 3 million of them.

That banning guns works, which is why New York, DC, and Chicago cops
need guns.

That the Constitution protects us, so we don't need guns, and can
confiscate them, thereby violating the 5th amendment of that
constitution.

That women are just as intelligent and capable as men and a woman with a
gun is "an accident waiting to happen".

That women are just as intelligent and capable as men, and gun makers'
advertisements aimed at women are "preying on their fears."

That a handgun, with up to 4 controls, is far too complex for the
typical adult to learn to use, as opposed to an automobile that only has
20.

That a majority of the population supports gun control, just like a
majority of the population used to support owning slaves.

That one should ignore as idiots politicians who confuse Wicca with
Satanism and exaggerate the gay community as a threat to society, but
listen sagely to politicians who can refer to a self-loading small arm
as a "weapon of mass destruction" and an "assault weapon."

That Massachusetts is safer with bans on guns, which is why Teddy
Kennedy has machinegun toting guards.

That most people can't be trusted, so we should have laws against guns,
which most people will abide by, because they can be trusted.

That a woman raped and strangled with her panties is morally superior to
a woman with a smoking gun and a dead rapist at her feet.

That guns should be banned because of the danger involved, and live
reporting from the battlefield, which can keep the enemy informed of
troop deployments, getting thousands of troops killed and perhaps losing
a war, is a protected act that CANNOT be compromised on.

That the right of online child pornographers to exist cannot be
questioned because it is a constitutionally protected extension of the
Bill of Rights, and the claim that handguns are for self defense is
merely an excuse, and not really protected by the Bill of Rights.

That the ACLU is good because it uncompromisingly defends certain parts
of the Constitution, and the NRA is bad, because it defends other parts
of the Constitution.

That police operate in groups with backup, which is why they need larger
capacity magazines than civilians, who must face criminals alone, and
therefore need less ammunition.

That we should ban "Saturday Night Specials" and other inexpensive guns
because it's not fair that poor people have access to guns too.

That guns have no legitimate use, but alcohol does, which is why we
issue cops beer instead of guns.

That police and soldiers are the dregs of society who were unfit to get
any real job, which perfectly qualifies them with the high moral
standards and keen intellects to handle these complicated tools and be
our guardians.

The article and other similar articles may be found at http://www.2ampd.net/
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« Reply #107 on: July 13, 2005, 12:40:42 AM »

"All kinds of hypocrisy remained unchallenged. In my world of liberal London, social success at the dinner table belonged to the man who could simultaneously maintain that we've got it coming but that nothing was going to come; that indiscriminate murder would be Tony Blair's fault but there wouldn't be indiscriminate murder because 'the threat' was a phantom menace invented by Blair to scare the cowed electorate into supporting him."

Cool.

 
=============
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/Guardian/0,6961,,00.html> Guardian
Unlimited
Comment
Sunday July 10, 2005

Face up to the truth

We all know who was to blame for Thursday's murders... and it wasn't Bush and Blair
by Nick Cohen
 
 

The instinctive response of a significant portion of the rich world's
intelligentsia to the murder of innocents on 11 September was anything but robust. A few, such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, were delighted. The
destruction of the World Trade Centre was 'the greatest work of art
imaginable for the whole cosmos,' declared the composer whose tin ear failed to catch the screams.

Others saw it as a blow for justice rather than art. They persuaded
themselves that al-Qaeda was made up of anti-imperialist insurgents who were avenging the wrongs of the poor. 'The great speculators wallow in an economy that every year kills tens of millions of people with poverty, so what is 20,000 dead in New York?' asked Dario Fo. Rosie Boycott seemed to agree. 'The West should take the blame for pushing people in Third World countries to the end of their tether,' she wrote.

In these bleak days, it's worth remembering what was said after September 2001. A backward glance shows that before the war against the Taliban and long before the war against Saddam Hussein, there were many who had determined that 'we had it coming'. They had to convince themselves that Islamism was a Western creation: a comprehensible reaction to the International Monetary Fund or hanging chads in Florida or whatever else was agitating them, rather than an autonomous psychopathic force with reasons of its own. In the years since, this manic masochism has spread like bindweed and strangled leftish and much conservative thought.

All kinds of hypocrisy remained unchallenged. In my world of liberal London, social success at the dinner table belonged to the man who could
simultaneously maintain that we've got it coming but that nothing was going to come; that indiscriminate murder would be Tony Blair's fault but there wouldn't be indiscriminate murder because 'the threat' was a phantom menace invented by Blair to scare the cowed electorate into supporting him.

I'd say the 'power of nightmares' side of that oxymoronic argument is too
bloodied to be worth discussing this weekend and it's better to stick with
the wider delusion.

On Thursday, before the police had made one arrest, before one terrorist
group had claimed responsibility, before one body had been carried from the wreckage, let alone been identified and allowed to rest in peace, cocksure voices filled with righteousness were proclaiming that the real murderers weren't the real murderers but the Prime Minister. I'm not thinking of George Galloway and the other saluters of Saddam, but of upright men and women who sat down to write letters to respectable newspapers within minutes of hearing the news.

'Hang your head in shame, Mr Blair. Better still, resign - and whoever takes over immediately withdraw all our forces from Iraq and Afghanistan,' wrote the Rev Mike Ketley, who is a vicar, for God's sake, but has no qualms about leaving Afghanistan to the Taliban and al-Qaeda or Iraq to the Baath party and al-Qaeda. 'Let's stop this murder and put on trial those criminals who are within our jurisdiction,' began Patrick Daly of south London in an apparently promising letter to the Independent. But, inevitably, he didn't mean the bombers. 'Let's start with the British government.'

And so it went on. At no point did they grasp that Islamism was a
reactionary movement as great as fascism, which had claimed millions of
mainly Muslim lives in the Sudan, Iran, Algeria and Afghanistan and is
claiming thousands in Iraq. As with fascism, it takes a resolute
dunderheadedness to put all the responsibility on democratic governments for its existence.

I feel the appeal, believe me. You are exasperated with the manifold faults
of Tony Blair and George W Bush. Fighting your government is what you know how to do and what you want to do, and when you are confronted with totalitarian forces which are far worse than your government, the easy solution is to blame your government for them.

But it's a parochial line of reasoning to suppose that all bad, or all good,
comes from the West - and a racist one to boot. The unavoidable consequence is that you must refuse to support democrats, liberals, feminists and socialists in the Arab world and Iran who are the victims of Islamism in its Sunni and Shia guises because you are too compromised to condemn their persecutors.

Islamism stops being an ideology intent on building an empire from Andalusia to Indonesia, destroying democracy and subjugating women and becomes, by the magic of parochial reasoning, a protest movement on a par with Make Poverty History or the TUC.

Again, I understand the appeal. Whether you are brown or white, Muslim,
Christian, Jew or atheist, it is uncomfortable to face the fact that there
is a messianic cult of death which, like European fascism and communism
before it, will send you to your grave whatever you do. But I'm afraid
that's what the record shows.

The only plausible excuse for 11 September was that it was a protest against America's support for Israel. Unfortunately, Osama bin Laden's statements revealed that he was obsessed with the American troops defending Saudi Arabia from Saddam Hussein and had barely said a word about Palestine.

After the Bali bombings, the conventional wisdom was that the Australians
had been blown to pieces as a punishment for their government's support for Bush. No one thought for a moment about the Australian forces which stopped Indonesian militias rampaging through East Timor, a small country Indonesia had invaded in 1975 with the backing of the US. Yet when bin Laden spoke, he said it was Australia's anti-imperialist intervention to free a largely Catholic population from a largely Muslim occupying power which had bugged him.

East Timor was a great cause of the left until the Australians made it an
embarrassment. So, too, was the suffering of the victims of Saddam, until
the tyrant made the mistake of invading Kuwait and becoming America's enemy. In the past two years in Iraq, UN and Red Cross workers have been massacred, trade unionists assassinated, school children and aid workers kidnapped and decapitated and countless people who happened to be on the wrong bus or on the wrong street at the wrong time paid for their mistake with their lives.

What can the survivors do? Not a lot according to a Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He told bin Laden that the northern Kurds may be Sunni but 'Islam's voice has died out among them' and they'd been infiltrated by Jews. The southern Shia were 'a sect of treachery' while any Arab, Kurd, Shia or Sunni who believed in a democratic Iraq was a heretic.

Our options are as limited When Abu Bakr Bashir was arrested for the Bali
bombings, he was asked how the families of the dead could avoid the fate of their relatives. 'Please convert to Islam,' he replied. But as the past 40
years have shown, Islamism is mainly concerned with killing and oppressing Muslims.

In his intervention before last year's American presidential election, bin
Laden praised Robert Fisk of the Independent whose journalism he admired. 'I consider him to be neutral,' he said, so I suppose we could all resolve not to take the tube unless we can sit next to Mr Fisk. But as the killings are indiscriminate, I can't see how that would help and, in any case, who wants to be stuck on a train with an Independent reporter?

There are many tasks in the coming days. Staying calm, helping the police
and protecting Muslim communities from neo-Nazi attack are high among them. But the greatest is to resolve to see the world for what it is and remove the twin vices of wilful myopia and bad faith which have disfigured too much liberal thought for too long.
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« Reply #108 on: July 14, 2005, 10:09:50 PM »

Message: July 14, 2005

Make No Mistake: It's a War of Civilizations
By Ed Koch

The events of 9/11 and 7/7 will dominate the lives of
Americans and the British for generations to come.

Even if no more terrorist attacks are perpetrated against us --
regrettably, there will be -- those two acts of mass murder
will long be remembered. On 9/11, we suffered 2,986 dead
and 2,337 injured; On 7/7, the estimate is that 52 died and
700 were injured. English law enforcement has not yet
determined which group was responsible, although the
speculation is that al-Qaeda was involved. (now confirmed of course- Marc)

According to the U.S. government, the al Qaeda organization
is active in Europe, and other terrorist organizations are
associated with Islamic fanatics who live in more than 60
countries worldwide.

The various terrorist organizations are overwhelmingly
Muslim. I believe they are supported by millions of Muslims
around the world who are bent on destroying both Western
civilization and those Muslims, Christians and Jews who
believe in the Western values of democracy and tolerance. Of
course, not every Muslim is a fanatic or terrorist, as pointed
out by Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, the general manager of the
Al Arabiya television station, who said, "It is a certain fact
that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and
exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims."
They are responsible for near daily suicide bombings in Iraq
that have deliberately murdered Iraqi police, military
personnel and thousands of innocent civilians -- men, women
and children.

We are truly in a war of civilizations. While the Muslim
fanatics do not have us on the run, they have won some major
victories. I count among those victories the submission of
France and Germany to the demands of Islamic fanatics, and
their refusal to stand with us in Iraq, despite the fact that we
are now there pursuant to a U.N. Security Council resolution
and at the request of the recently-elected Iraqi government.
Italy, which originally stood with us, has announced it will
leave Iraq by the end of the year. Prime Minister Berlusconi is
running for reelection and is worried that the Italian electorate
will throw him out of office as did Spanish voters to their
pro-Iraq war prime minister and his governing party after the
Madrid railroad bombings. The newly-elected Socialist
government in Spain withdrew its troops. Poland has already
withdrawn its troops.

The Secret Organization of al-Qaeda in Europe which issued
a statement taking responsibility for the London attack said
after berating Britain for its being in Iraq and Afghanistan,
"We still warn the governments of Denmark, Italy and all the
Crusader governments that they will meet the same fate if they don't pull their forces out of Iraq and Afghanistan."

Here we have it. For the Islamic terrorists, each and every one of their demands must be met by the Christian governments or they will suffer acts of terrorism. Every head of state has expressed outrage. For example, Chirac of France said, "I would like to express the full horror I feel at the terrorist attacks which bathed the British capital in blood this morning. I would like to express to all Londoners, to all of the British people, the solidarity, the compassion and the friendship of France and the French people."

What world leaders should have said is, "An attack upon any
one of us is an attack upon all of us and each of us now
pledges to send 10,000 troops to Iraq. We will not be
intimidated by terrorism."

Instead, they engaged in platitudes.

Today in Great Britain, George Galloway sits in the
Parliament, a former member of the Labor Party, who broke
away, joining the RESPECT party which ran in the last
election. Its major message is to blame Tony Blair for
supporting and joining forces with the U.S. in Iraq. Galloway
criticized Blair after 7/7 saying, "Tragically, Londoners have
now paid the price of the government ignoring such
warnings."  Galloway represents the vision of the Brits who
supported Neville Chamberlain in 1939. Blair, on the other
hand, represents the vision of Winston Churchill. Fortunately,
the British chose to reelect Tony Blair in the last election. Blair
understands the Islamic terrorists worldwide are bent on
killing Christians (Crusaders), Jews and Muslims who defy
them. In Iraq, they have killed thousands of innocent civilians
-- Shiites -- who recently voted for a democratic, tolerant
government.

In 1941, when Japan attacked us at Pearl Harbor and Hitler
declared war on the U.S. four days later, there were
opponents of the Roosevelt policy of supporting the survival
of a British government seeking to repel the pending Nazi
invasion. Many of them were allied with the America First
Committee led by Charles Lindbergh who sought to use
anti-Semitism to coalesce the country, blaming the Jews for
the world's ills. Under that umbrella organization, there were
Nazi supporters and others who sought to be neutral in what
was then clearly becoming a war of civilizations, pitting
European and American democracy against fascist
totalitarianism.

The America First Committee dissolved after December 7,
1941, and most of its adherents stood shoulder-to-shoulder
against the enemies of the U.S. and Western civilization.

In England, there were comparable groups and they too
dissolved. Will that happen now in England as a result of 7/7?
Has it happened in the U.S. as a result of 9/11? Regrettably,
not.

Should we stand aside in Iraq and elsewhere and allow the
terrorists to impose their will in that country and elsewhere
throughout the world? I think not. I believe that countries not
yet involved and unwilling to expend blood and money like
Germany, France and others to protect our democratic values
will rue their desertions from the cause of liberty and
tolerance.

In a recent New York Times article, Tom Friedman pointed
out, "The Muslim village has been derelict in condemning the
madness of jihadist attacks. When Salman Rushdie wrote a
controversial novel involving the prophet Muhammad, he was
sentenced to death by the leader of Iran. To this day -- to this
day -- no major Muslim cleric or religious body has ever
issued a fatwa condemning Osama bin Laden."

Regrettably, our "friends" who are appalled by 7/7 are guilty as well by their absence from the battlefields of Iraq where the war between civilizations is now being waged.


http://www.realclearpolitics.com/Commentary/com-7_14_05_EK.html


Ed Koch is the former Mayor of New York City.
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« Reply #109 on: July 15, 2005, 12:28:35 PM »

Provenance unknown.
-----------------------------------------

 What?s worse than crawling under your beloved house and seeing the foundations rotten with decades of termite damage?
NOT crawling under your beloved house and seeing the foundations rotten with decades of termite damage.

I?ve been away for a while, doing a little thinking. Usually, my thoughts for these past few years have started at home and then taken me to Iraq, and the war. Lately, though, I have been thinking about Iraq, and my thoughts turn more and more to home.

I started thinking along these lines six months ago, after a young Marine shot and killed a wounded Iraqi in a mosque in Fallujah

The ideas behind this little adventure we are about to embark upon have changed enormously since then. I have, quite frankly, been at a loss to know how to put so many wide-ranging snapshots together into this montage, this image, this idea of Sanctuary that I think holds the key to many of the problems we face today.

Stay with me -- our first stop is not our destination, but it is a necessary one. So let me first take you on that original journey, and show you how events in Iraq can show us how to fight and win a much wider and deeper conflict, right here at home.

Now to hear some fellers tell it, the entire idea of ?Unlawful Combatants? came to Sith mastermind Darth Rover in a vision, and he instructed his familiars Chimpy McBushitler and Torture Master Rumsfeld to use it as an excuse to begin the unjustified savagery that is such an essential part of the American character.

Absent from this worldview is?well?just about everything.

During the actual Major Combat Operations of Iraqi Freedom, US generosity and grace toward defeated elements of the Iraqi regular army was in the highest tradition of the US Military, which is justifiably well-known for its benevolence toward a defeated adversary on the battlefield. Surrendering Iraqi regular units were given rations and medical care, and their officers were allowed to keep their sidearms as a show of respect and authority. I have not seen or heard of a single case of anything less than exemplary conduct regarding enemy regular-army soldiers.

So why were the Taliban and Al Qaeda and Fedayeen insurgents treated so differently? Why the hoods and shackles? Why the humiliation at Abu Graib?

It is not because these men shot at US soldiers. Regular Iraqi units, NVA units, North Korean Units, Germans, Japanese, Confederates and Redcoats have shot at American soldiers and upon their surrender their treatment has been, on the whole, exemplary. Why are these different?

It is not because they are opposing us. It is ? to put it as bluntly as possible ? because they are cheating ? cheating in a way that none of the above ever did.

They have willfully and repeatedly broken the covenant of Sanctuary.


 

What is the obvious difference between an enemy Prisoner of War, and an Unlawful Combatant? Suppose two of them were standing in a line-up. What one glaringly obvious thing sets them apart?

That?s right! One is wearing a uniform, and the other isn?t.

And why do soldiers wear uniforms?

It certainly is not to protect the soldier. As a matter of fact, a soldier?s uniform is actually a big flashing neon arrow pointing to some kid that says to the enemy, SHOOT ME!

And that?s exactly what a uniform is for. It makes the soldier into a target to be killed.

Now if that?s all there was to it, you might say that the whole uniform thing is not such a groovy idea. BUT! What a uniform also does -- the corollary to the whole idea of a uniformed person ? is to say that if the individual wearing a uniform is a legitimate target, then the person standing next to him in civilian clothes is not.

By wearing uniforms, soldiers differentiate themselves to the enemy. They assume additional risk in order to protect the civilian population. In other words, by identifying themselves as targets with their uniforms, the fighters provide a Sanctuary to the unarmed civilian population.

And this Sanctuary is as old as human history. The first civilized people on Earth, these very same Iraqis, who had cities and agriculture and arts and letters when my ancestors were living in caves, wore uniforms as soldiers of Babylon. This is an ancient covenant, and willfully breaking it is unspeakably dishonorable.

Now, imagine you are involved in street-to-street fighting?

We should actually stop right here. No one can imagine street-to-street fighting. It is a refined horror that you have lived through or you have not, and all I can do with the full power of my imagination does not get to the shadow of it. Nevertheless, there are men who have peered around corners in Fallujah, and Hue, and Carentan and a hundred unknown places; places where the enemy?s rifle may be leveled inches away from your nose, awaiting the last split-second of your young life.

Most of the time, you do not have time to think. A person jumps up from below a window three feet away. If he is wearing a grey tunic and a coal-scuttle helmet, it?s a Kraut and you let him have it before he kills you and your buddies. But what if he is wearing street clothes? What if he is smiling at you?

For brutal soldiers ? like the Nazi?s those of the far left accuse us of being precisely equal to ? this is a moot point. The SS killed everything that moved. They executed prisoners in uniforms, partisans, hostages and children. They were animals.

Our soldiers are civilized, compassionate and decent citizens doing a tough, horrible job. That means when they see someone who might be a civilian, they hesitate. That hesitation can and has killed them. And some people wonder why enemy soldiers without the honor and courage to wear a uniform are treated less than honorably after being captured by men full of courage and restraint.

Worse ? worse by far ? than the artificial safety given to enemies not wearing a uniform is the additional horror such behavior will inevitably inflict upon their own civilian population.

And it doesn?t hurt to point out ? repeatedly ? that the people they are putting at infinitely greater risk are supposedly the very people these so-called Muslim Warriors claim be trying to protect: their own women and children. Michael Moore has called these ruthless cowards the moral equivalent of our revolutionary Minutemen. I would point out to Mr. Moore that when confronted by an overwhelming enemy force, our Minutemen grabbed their guns, put their elderly, their women and their children behind them, and went out to face their adversary as far away from the weak and vulnerable as possible. These people do precisely the opposite. Our Minutemen fought for Freedom and Liberty; these fight for repression, state torture, and the right to force everyone to behave as they see fit. Am I surprised that Michael Moore cannot see this difference? I am not. The man has not seen his own toes for two decades, and they are a good deal closer to him than the streets of Fallujah.

Do those protesters ever wonder why prisoners of war in World War II movies ? soldiers -- trying to escape in civilian clothes would be shot as spies? A soldier out of uniform, a soldier trying to hide in the civilian population is gaining a one-time personal advantage, but that not the real sin. The real sin is that he is endangering the non-combatants. He is using civilians as cover. He is breaking down the barrier between the armed and the unarmed, the threat and the non-threat. He is trying to have it both ways.

Whenever there is war and invasion, there will be terrified civilians trying to get from one place to another. In the very early hours of Operation Iraqi Freedom, when we expected to be fighting the same Army that in the Gulf War fully honored the idea of uniformed troops, our soldiers discovered large numbers of unarmed, military-aged men in civilian clothes making for the rear. Many of these men were let through, and promptly took up arms and caused immeasurable damage before blending back into the population.

But they did much worse. Because after a few suicide bombers in civilian vehicles drove up to checkpoints and blew themselves and honor-abiding Coalition soldiers to bits, we have found ourselves having to treat all speeding civilian vehicles as hostile. We simply have no choice anymore. We did not simply decide to open fire on civilians; rather the enemy, in a cold and calculated decision repeated many, many times over, decided to violate the Sanctuary given to civilians to wage war on an American and British Army playing by the rules. They have made the line between civilian and soldier nonexistent. They did this, not us. They did it. They gained the benefits from it, and it has cost us dear. And so perhaps, in a world with less ignorance and more honesty, Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena ? who sped at a US roadblock, weaving, at more than 60 mph and in violation of warning shots -- would be pointing her finger at the people who violated this Covenant of Civilization, and not those being forced to make terrible decisions in order to preserve it.


War is hell, and soldiers have to live there. It is an unbearable burden; unbearable in the sense that not a single man and woman who has been fully exposed to war has ever come back home. Someone else comes back home. Sometimes, it is a better person. Sometimes a worse one. But they are different, all changed in the horror and crucible of war.

And so from the beginning of war, there exists between soldiers a bond that cannot be described. There is the obvious connection of a soldier to his comrades, but there is too a strong sense of respect and kinship with the soldier on the other side of No Man?s Land, shivering in cold wet places just the same, under orders and doing his job, too ? just wanting to get the thing over with and go home.

Surrender is a mercy in such a place. The idea that certain death may be avoided, that one might be willing to simply give up fighting and still survive, is mercy of the deepest blue. Surrendering enemy soldiers are often greeted with a warmth and understanding that friendly civilians do not receive, for they have shared in the misery and hardship of war in ways that we comfortable and safe civilians can never know.

Surrender, in war, is perhaps the ultimate of Sanctuaries. It is a way out when hope and rescue have fled the field. Honorable surrender has never been treated with shame by any American unit I have ever heard of.

And so, when groups of un-uniformed enemy soldiers waving white flags suddenly drop and open fire on unsuspecting, generous and honorable Americans, then the masters of these men have made a terrible bargain. They have destroyed the Sanctuary of Surrender, and eliminated for their own men a deep and abiding refuge in the nightmare of the battlefield.

They have done this to their own men. Not us. We have known of the brutality of the Iraqi army regarding prisoners from at least as far back as those taken and beaten during the first Gulf War, and as far as improvements over the intervening years, we might perhaps call Jessica Lynch to tell us of any newfound magnanimity on the part of the Ba?athists.

False surrender as a weapon of ambush is an abomination. When it is repeated, it is obvious that is not an aberration; it is policy. It is, like the abandonment of the uniform, a tactic to gain a short-term advantage that leads to long-term hardship and misery for their own troops. It is a Devil?s bargain, and they have had the Devil to pay for it ? as have we.

They violate the Sanctuary of the Uniform. They violate the Sanctuary of Surrender. And the most reprehensible of all is the violation of the Sanctuary of Mercy.

Throughout the insurgency, and especially in places like Fallujah, enemy fighters with real or feigned wounds have called for aid. Not often does a soldier who has been in combat look down upon the wounded of either side without horror and sympathy. In places like Fallujah and Iwo Jima and Antietam it is an easy thing to see one?s own reflection in that grimace and that agony.

So when a soldier out of uniform, who may have faked surrender to kill unsuspecting Americans, calls for aid and then willfully kills medics with a concealed grenade? where does that leave us? What unplumbed depths remain? When mercy is used as a weapon against the merciful, what horrors and abominations remain unplayed?

THAT, dear left-wing Citadels of Conscience, is what we are up against. That is what you support against the decency, honor and kindness you mock in your own countrymen as they build schools and hospitals and, indeed, an entire democracy. That is the definition of ?Unlawful Combatant.? It is not a legal nicety, and it is not a rhetorical flourish. It is a pattern of ruthlessness, deception and murder. And regardless of your motive, it is the side you find yourself taking.

These are the kind of men in Guantanamo. Who controls such men? And when busloads of men from Afghanistan and Syria and Jordan and Egypt and Iran, men without uniforms, men not under the control of any officer, men who follow no code of conduct other than an oath to kill any American, anywhere ? who among us with a gram of understanding and perspective can be surprised when such men are hooded and shackled on air transports? And being left to sleep in the open air is one thing in Northern Germany in the winter of ?44, and something else entirely in the middle of the goddam Caribbean! I mean, for the love of God, some of the people screaming themselves into a lather over such an outrage will pay tens of thousands of dollars for the same privilege a few miles away on a catamaran anchored off the coast of Jamaica.

And when people acting on the stage of their own moral outrage wonder when such men will be released, what do we say to them? When Osama bin Laden officially surrenders Al Qaeda on the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan? They have no government, they have no command structure, they have no objective but death. That is their great strength, and by God, it is also their weakness, and we would be fools ? absolute drooling idiots ? to let them have it both ways.

These fanatics have been rigorously coached to lie about mistreatment and torture, and despite this transparent fact, every utterance they make is breathlessly quoted and trumpeted by the press as absolute truth. The naked human pyramids, intimidation with dogs, sexual humiliation and threat of electroshock torture that marked a day or two of mistreatment at Abu Graib were the tools used by immature and untrained individuals precisely because the methods previously employed at that location ? removal of fingers and tongues and genitalia, electrified wire brushes, and the rape and murder of relatives before the eyes of the prisoner ? are so far beyond the horizon of what American interrogators are able to imagine doing that any comparison between the two betrays the moral blindness of those making the comparison.

Is humiliation the same as torture? It is not -- that's why the words are spelled differently. To get to the heart of the difference, assume you were a prisoner at Abu Graib, and your interrogator started to remove your fingers one by one with bolt cutters. How long would it take you to beg to be posed with women?s panties on your head? Yeah, I thought so.

This is not to excuse in any way the shameful behavior committed there by a few individuals who clearly are not fit to wear the uniform of the United States. They have disgraced us all and done incalculable damage. But if producing humiliation and fear is now to be defined as ?torture,? what international human rights organization will be appointed to help the surviving readers of The New York Times?

No system built on human behavior is perfect; they can only be good. What's a reasonable guess as to the number of sadistic, brutal and infantile Americans who so dishonored their uniforms at Abu Graib? Shall we say, perhaps fifteen? Fifteen who knew about what was happening, and countenenced it? So those fifteen, out of a total force of 150,000, completely negate the hard work, restraint, courage and compassion of the rest of the American presence in Iraq?

That is not ten percent bad apples. That is not one percent. That is not one-tenth of a percent. It is, in round numbers one percent of one per cent. What is the percentage of of criminals in the general population? A hundred times that? A thousand? Can college professors boast that kind of quality control? Can reporters? And yet this is all the press can obsess about, for over a year...the behavior of .0001 of the U.S. forces employed to liberate Iraq?

But remember, there is no bias in the media.

And by the way, has it not occurred to anyone that during the years since 9/11 there has not been a single terrorist attack on the United States? Do you think they simply stopped trying? Or have we been winning a secret war of information in dark rooms in Langley, Virginia? How many failed attempts have there been to kill you and your family in the past four years? Two? Twenty? One Hundred?

If we cannot use torture to get that information -- and we most emphatically should not and have not -- then what can we use? Anything? No intimidation? No sleep deprivation? No threats? No coersion? No drugs? What are we left with to persuade these killers to talk? The comfy chair?

It is not only possible, but likely, that many of the press elites who consider bright lights and harsh language as a form of ?torture interrogation? are alive today in places like New York and San Francisco precisely because of information gleaned from inmates at Abu Graib and Guantanamo Bay. I have no doubt of this whatsoever. What would their response be, I wonder, if standing at the funeral of their friends and children they discovered that the information needed to save their lives could have been obtained not through torture, but through fear of torture, or through humiliation and intimidation?

As you sit here reading this, there are men and women working around the clock using information obtained ? not just without torture, but humanely ? to keep us safe at night. They do this without any recognition or fanfare. But there are no less than ten televised award shows each year honoring those who do the best job at playing make-believe, and more often than not, the heroes they pretend to be are the soldiers and intelligence agents and policemen they so spectacularly spit upon the second the camera stops rolling.

We worship the wrong people. More on that in a moment.






There is one final layer of atrocity, a violation of the very core idea of Sanctuary as a place of safe haven that the insurgents in Iraq practice with abandon.

These religious fanatics, who will form a mob and tear a person limb from limb if he (or especially she) so much as looks askance at a copy of the Quran, routinely and methodically have used mosques ? even their most sacred mosques ? as ammunition dumps, staging areas and firing positions, viewing our decency and restraint as foolishness and weakness.

These acts have been recorded so many times that it has become banal. It?s just a fact. It?s what they do.

If they had genuine respect for their own religions and holy places they would give them the widest berth available, not turn them into command bunkers, ambush sites and staging areas.

Here is a violation of Sanctuary written as plainly as the eye can see. They use safe havens -- hospitals, hotels and places of worship -- as military fortresses because they are counting on our decency and honor to spare them from retaliation.

Actually, it is deeper than that. I suspect what they are really counting on is that sooner or later, such provocations have to be answered. And then there will be armies of useful idiots with television cameras and microphones and Expensive Hair, who will rally the full weight of recrimination and guilt and defeatism and accomplish for a few bearded lunatics what entire armored divisions could not achieve for them on the battlefield: Victory over the Americans.  

But what has shocked and dismayed me, way beyond the sadness and regret of our losses, has been the willingness, even the eagerness, among many on the left who want nothing more than to see our side lose.

Our soldiers are fighting and dying to install what any sane person can see is a widely-representative democracy, heroically elected at great personal risk. Opposing them are a shadow army of former secret policemen, state torturers, and foreign invaders of every stripe who kill Iraqi policemen, behead innocent Iraqi cabdrivers, and detonate car bombs at the opening of new schools and children?s centers. There may be an explanation for this support I am not seeing. I, for one, can not get past the idea that millions of Western Progressives would rather see a nation re-enslaved, or erupt in civil war, or have twenty thousand of their countrymen come home in boxes than admit that they were wrong.

And they have the audacity, the unmitigated gall, to claim the moral high ground?

I am trying my level best to understand how and why someone who professes to be for freedom for artists, homosexuals and women ? not to mention unlimited personal expression of every stripe -- can take the side of 8th Century religious fanatics who brag about murdering writers, stoning women, beheading homosexuals and instituting moral policemen at every street corner with unquestioned authority to beat, jail or execute anyone suspected of being insufficiently pious.

I used to wonder why civilizations fell. No longer. I see it now before my eyes, every day. Civilizations do not fall because the Barbarians storm the walls. The forces of civilization are far too powerful, and those of barbarism far too weak, for that to happen.

Civilizations fall because the people inside the Sanctuary throw open the gates.

Look around. Tell me what you see. Look at how the entire idea of civilization is under attack. Abandoning the ideas of civilization and savagery is tantamount to throwing open the gates. Maintaining a civilization takes work ? savagery, not so much. If both are equal then what?s the point?

Don?t think there?s any difference? Then here?s a little show-and-tell for you, Scooter:

When Newsweek runs an unsubstantiated rumor about flushing a Quran down the toilet, entire nations erupt into riots that leave many dead and more, likely, to follow. That is savagery.

Trained teams of Islamic murderers hijack four airliners, slit the throats of their crews, immolate their passengers as flying bombs and destroy the heart of a city and worse, and the most powerful people the world has ever known sit patiently trying to identify the perpetrators and then sacrifices its own children to reform a diseased and despotic region with overwhelming restraint and discretion ? that is civilization.

Really, all I?m trying to do here is prevent the fall of Civilization. Now far be it from me to be so arrogant as to think I can prevent the fall of Civilization with a single essay! It may take several essays; in fact, if things are worse than I feared it might take an entire book.

Here?s my thesis: Civilizations fall because they become so successful that their citizens become, over many generations of increasing security and prosperity, further and further away from the reality of the human condition. The quest for ?better? becomes so successful that after a few generations of hard work and ingenuity we have nothing left but the quest for ?perfect.? More and more effort produces fewer and smaller results, because the quest for perfection is asymptotic. Perfection is unattainable.
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buzwardo
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« Reply #110 on: July 19, 2005, 12:16:41 PM »

Homeland Pork
?Unless we waste money, the terrorists will win.?
Rich Lowry


NORTH POLE, ALASKA ? As I was driving through this town of less than 1,600 people just outside of Fairbanks the other day, an overwhelming sensation came over me ? of safety. Or at least that's what Congress wanted me to feel. Thanks to a senseless, but sadly typical, formula for spending federal homeland-security dollars, North Pole, Alaska, has been awarded more than half a million dollars for homeland-security rescue and communications equipment. This just in case the terrorists decide to try to shut down Santa Claus Lane. Fortunately, I am in a position to make a frontline report ? all seems quiet.
     
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is irritating certain U.S. senators by insisting that how federal homeland-security spending is allocated should have some relation to the risk of a terrorist attack in any given area. Where he has the authority to act on his own, Chertoff has pushed his department toward rationality. He moved, for instance, to limit the cities eligible for port-security grants to 66 from 366, thus eliminating Martha's Vineyard from the list (and exposing the extended Kennedy clan to attack by terrorist yacht). But Congress controls how homeland-security grants for first responders are doled out to the states, and its attitude is, "Unless we waste money, the terrorists will win."

Immediately after 9/11, Congress wrote a homeland-security spending formula into the Patriot Act, one of the provisions of that law that actually is a mistake. It says that every state gets .75 percent of the funding from two enormous federal grant programs that spend well over $1 billion a year. That eats up 40 percent of the funding. The other 60 percent is allocated on the basis of population, which is one risk factor for a terror attack, but only one. In other words, in a homeland-security effort that should be built on intelligence and risk analysis, Congress has created a system that is almost entirely random and beholden to the dictates of logrolling and pork-barrel spending.

This is a boon not just to North Pole, but to places like Wyoming. According to Veronique de Rugy of the American Enterprise Institute, the Equality State has only .17 percent of the nation's population, but gets .85 percent of federal homeland-security grants. That works out to $37.74 per capita for Wyoming, while New York state gets $5.41 per capita. De Rugy reports that Washington, D.C., is the only location that is both among the top 10 grant recipients and on a list of the 10 most at-risk localities.

Throwing around money in absurd fashion has resulted in, naturally enough, absurdities ? $18,000 for Segway scooters for the bomb squad in Santa Clara, Calif.; $30,000 in Lake County, Tenn., to buy a defibrillator to have on hand at high-school basketball games; $98,000 on training courses in Lenawee County, Mich., which no one bothered to attend. And on it goes. Billions of dollars in the grants haven't been spent on anything because they are gummed up in the bureaucratic pipeline, partly because some localities don't have the foggiest idea what to do with the money.

The House recently passed a bill to rationalize the funding formula, basing it almost entirely on risk-assessment by DHS. States would have to submit applications for grant money to address specific risks, and DHS would evaluate them accordingly. This is the basic approach advocated by the 9/11 commission. But the Senate has balked. Small-state senators have a disproportionate sway there, and last week they rejected the House approach, preferring a barely improved version of the status quo. These senators can't imagine any reason for being in Washington other than to shove lucre back to their home states ? for whatever reason.

If Congress can't straighten out the funding formula, maybe it will have to try a different approach, and relocate people from threatened urban areas to places like North Pole. We can be certain they would be well-secured here.

? Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years.
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buzwardo
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« Reply #111 on: July 21, 2005, 08:41:23 AM »

In his inimitable way, Hitchens gets to the meat of the matter.

The poverty of our current scandal.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, July 18, 2005, at 1:10 PM PT

Writing to a friend in 1954, P.G. Wodehouse commented:
Are you following the McCarthy business? If so, can you tell me what it's all about? "You dined with Mr. X on Friday the tenth?" "Yes, sir." (Keenly) "What did you eat?" "A chocolate nut sundae, sir." (Sensation) It's like Bardell vs Pickwick.

Wodehouse of course was only affecting ignorance and making light of a ludicrously pompous and slightly sinister proceeding. But he was essentially correct in his lampooning of the McCarthy hearings, since even the most convinced anti-communist would not learn anything from the spectacle that he did not already know, and since the show trials managed to go on without producing either any evidence of any crime, or any evidence of any perpetrator, or any evidence of any victim.

It is the entire absence of the above three elements that makes the hunt for Karl Rove (who was once so confidently confused with I. Lewis Libby) so utterly Snark-like. In fact, in his column of July 17, Frank Rich was compelled to concede that the whole thing is absolutely nothing in itself, but is rather a sideshow to a much larger event: the deception of the Bush-Cheney administration in preparing an intervention in Iraq. I want to return to this, but one must first winnow out some other chaff and nonsense.

First, the most exploded figure in the entire argument is Joseph Wilson. This is for three reasons. He claimed, in his own book, that his wife had nothing to do with his brief and inconclusive visit to Niger. "Valerie had nothing to do with the matter," he wrote. "She definitely had not proposed that I make the trip." There isn't enough wiggle room in those two definitive statements to make either of them congruent with a memo written by Valerie Wilson (or Valerie Plame, if you prefer) to a deputy chief in the CIA's directorate of operations. In this memo, in her wifely way, she announced that her husband would be ideal for the mission since he had "good relations with both the Prime Minister and the former Minister of Mines (of Niger), not to mention lots of French contacts." If you want to read the original, turn to the Senate committee's published report on the many "intelligence failures" that we have suffered recently. I want to return to those, too.

Speaking to the Washington Post about the CIA's documents on the Niger connection, Wilson made the further claim that "the dates were wrong and the names were wrong." Again according to the Senate report, these papers were not in CIA hands until eight months after Wilson made his trip. He has since admitted to the same newspaper that he may have "misspoken" about this.

The third bogus element in Wilson's boastful story is the claim that Niger's "yellowcake" uranium was never a subject of any interest to Saddam Hussein's agents. The British intelligence report on this, which does not lack criticism of the Blair government, finds the Niger connection to be among the most credible of the assertions made about Saddam's double-dealing. If you care to consult the Financial Times of June 28, 2004, and see the front-page report by its national security correspondent Mark Huband, you will be able to review the evidence that Niger?with whose ministers Mr. Wilson had such "good relations"?was trying to deal in yellowcake with North Korea and Libya as well as Iraq and Iran. This evidence is by no means refuted or contradicted by a forged or faked Italian document saying the same thing. It was a useful axiom of the late I.F. Stone that few people are so foolish as to counterfeit a bankrupt currency.

Thus, and to begin with, Joseph Wilson comes before us as a man whose word is effectively worthless. What do you do, if you work for the Bush administration, when a man of such quality is being lionized by an anti-war press? Well, you can fold your tent and let them print the legend. Or you can say that the word of a mediocre political malcontent who is at a loose end, and who is picking up side work from a wife who works at the anti-regime-change CIA, may not be as "objective" as it looks. I dare say that more than one supporter of regime change took this option. I would certainly have done so as a reporter if I had known.

OK, then, how do the opponents of regime change in Iraq make my last sentence into a statement of criminal intent and national-security endangerment? By citing the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982. This law, which is one of the most repressive and absurd pieces of legislation on our statute book, was a panicky attempt by the right to silence whistle-blowers at the CIA. In a rough effort to make it congruent with freedom of information and the First Amendment (after all, the United States managed to get through the Second World War and most of the Cold War without such a law), it sets a fairly high bar. You must knowingly wish to expose the cover of a CIA officer who you understand may be harmed as a result. It seems quite clear that nobody has broken even that arbitrary element of this silly law.

But the coverage of this non-storm in an un-teacup has gone far beyond the fantasy of a Rovean hidden hand. Supposedly responsible journalists are now writing as if there was never any problem with Saddam's attempt to acquire yellowcake (or his regime's now-proven concealment of a nuclear centrifuge, or his regime's now-proven attempt to buy long-range missiles off the shelf from North Korea as late as March 2003). In the same way, the carefully phrased yet indistinct statement of the 9/11 Commission that Saddam had no proven "operational" relationship with al-Qaida has mutated lazily into the belief that there were no contacts or exchanges at all, which the commission by no means asserts and which in any case by no means possesses the merit of being true. The CIA got everything wrong before 9/11, and thereafter. It was conditioned by its own culture to see no evil. It regularly leaked?see any of Bob Woodward's narratives?against the administration. Now it, and its partisans and publicity-famished husband-and-wife teams, want to imprison or depose people who leak back at it. No, thanks. Many journalists are rightly appalled at Time magazine's collusion with a prosecutor who has proved no crime and identified no victim. Far worse is the willingness of the New York Times to accept the demented premise of a prosecutor who has put one of its own writers behind bars.

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair. His most recent book is Thomas Jefferson: Author of America.

Article URL: http://slate.msn.com/id/2122963/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #112 on: July 24, 2005, 11:56:44 PM »

http://www.americanthinker.com/arti...article_id=4669

Much like a victim of spousal abuse,
The Left always seems to have an excuse
For barbarous behavior by terrorist thugs,
Their violence dismissed with self-blaming shrugs.
Oh, they just can?t help it, they just get so mad,
When we get them upset by behaving so bad.
It?s not really their fault that we suffer their blows;
We provoked them ourselves as everyone knows.

Like a cowering wife with her bruised blackened eye,
The Liberal defeatists just keep asking why;
What is it in us our tormentors despise?
What will gain us some favor in those angry eyes?
It must be our doing that sets them aflame;
Our own bad behavior that must bear the blame.
If we just appease them, we grovel and simper,
Perhaps we?ll avoid the mad wrath of their temper.

Battered wives learn what the Left cannot see:
Excusing brutal behavior will not set you free.
Appeasing these madmen just maddens them more,
Till someday they?ll come and kill three thousand more.
Quit making excuses for these murderous men,
You Liberal appeasers, who?d let terrorists win.
The only sure way to be free of their ire:
Defeat and destroy them; fight fire with fire.

Russ Vaughn is the Poet Laureate of The American Thinker
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buzwardo
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« Reply #113 on: August 01, 2005, 03:49:08 PM »

"When you come for my guns?"

I guess I?m just tired of it all. Tired of the bogus definitions (see: "assault weapons" or "assault rifles") and the slanted or (far more commonly) just plain false statistics being quoted.

I guess I'm just tired of the endless attempts to find a "stealth" method to do away with all firearms ? most recently by the use of lawsuits aimed at bankrupting firearms manufacturers by holding them responsible for what some criminal does with their product.

Tired of the skewed reporting and glaring omissions in "news" stories.

Bet you didn?t know that, in the Appalachian Law School shooting of several years ago, the incident ended when two students got their guns and subdued the killer without firing a shot.

If you missed it, it?s not your fault. You see, in more than 200 reports, that little factoid was "conveniently" left out.

I?m tired of gun owners being portrayed as ignorant, gap-toothed simpletons whose only source of amusement is shooting anything that moves.

I?d be willing to stand a cross-section of gun owners up against any of the anti-gun crowd and bet hard money on which end of the IQ pool would be deepest. You see, I?ve sat around too many campfires listening to doctors, judges, airline pilots, business owners, teachers, and just plain hard working people talk. Most times, I decided to keep my mouth shut in order to not lower the level of discussion.

I?m tired of being told that the Constitution guarantees such things as abortions (nowhere mentioned), but does not recognize an individual?s right to "keep and bear" arms - even though those words can be read by all who care to do so.

I?m tired of hearing that we need just one more "reasonable gun law" when there are already thousands on the books that seem to be studiously ignored.

I?m tired of finding that most - if not all - of such proposed laws are nothing more than dishonest attempts aimed at the eventual confiscation of all firearms.

I?m tired of bringing reasoned and well-researched arguments to discussions of this topic only to be ignored or treated with polite contempt.

I?m tired of being told that I should take moral guidance on this issue from the likes of - let?s say - Ted Kennedy and others of his ilk. Sorry, I?ll have to check with Mary Jo Kopechne and get back to you on that one.

I?m tired of seeing concrete and obvious examples ignored.

Washington, D.C. and New York City have some of the toughest gun laws on the books. Their crime rates have been repeatedly shown to be (guess which) higher/lower than cities wherein gun ownership is less restricted.

I?m tired of being told that guns are the problem when, on any given day, I can turn on the news and hear about the latest atrocity we ? as a society ? have suffered. Therein, I inevitably find that: (1) it?s been perpetrated by some useless accretion of carbon with a "rap" sheet thicker than a telephone directory; and (2) said individual was still on the street because of a justice system that?s become more "system" than justice.

I?m a father, a former little league coach, an honorably discharged veteran, and a past president of the local PTA. I?ve been married to the same woman for 34 years. I?ve never been arrested and my last run-in with the law was a speeding ticket back in the mid-70?s.

I vote in every election. I give blood regularly. I have a degree in English Literature and another in Marine Biology. I spent a year in a Benedictine monastery studying to be a priest. However - because I choose to own firearms - to the major networks, liberal politicians everywhere, and the likes of Sarah Brady, I?m nothing more than a "gun nut."

I?ve finally accepted that there?s never going to be a balanced presentation of "my" side of the argument and I?m tired of that, too.

I guess I?ve finally reached the point where I?ve decided I will no longer be "reasonable" while the other side has never before, does not now, nor will they ever accord me the same courtesy. Therefore, I have a message for the anti-gun zealots out there. It?s from someone who?s perfectly normal and is basically your next door neighbor.

There used to be a bumper sticker that said: "You?ll get my gun when you pry my cold, dead fingers from the trigger."

You made fun of it and derided those who believed in the spirit of the idea it propounded.

Unfortunately, it?s not much seen any more and I?ve been unable to find one for my own use. Because of this, I?ve had to go out and make up one of my own.

It says: "When you come for my guns, bring yours. You?ll be needing them."

I think that about covers it.

Larry Simoneaux

Biography - Larry Simoneaux

Larry Simoneaux is a regular columnist for The Everett Herald in Washington state. He is a retired ship driver for the US Navy, and NOAA.
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buzwardo
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« Reply #114 on: August 04, 2005, 03:45:24 PM »

At the end of the last election there were a lot of charges made that Republicans worked to surpress voter turnout. Many of those charges were widely reported.

What follows is the American Center for Voting Rights examination of charges made against both Democrats and Republicans. I've posted the charges made against Democarts first.

Thinks it's worth noting that the most egregious charges are the least reported. You can find the report in total at:

http://www.ac4vr.com/reports/072005/default.html


Incidents Of Voter Intimidation & Suppression

(A) Five Democrat Operatives In Milwaukee Charged With Slashing Tires Of Republican Vans On Morning Of Election Day (60) (Exhibit E)

On Monday, January 24, 2005, five Democrat operatives were charged with felony counts of ?criminal damage to property? for slashing the tires of 25 get-out-the-vote vans rented by Republicans early on the morning of Election Day. The vans had been rented by Republicans to help transport observers and voters to the polls on Election Day. The five individuals charged in the case were all paid Democrat operatives. Two defendants in the case are the sons of prominent Milwaukee Democrats: U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore and former Acting Mayor Marvin Pratt, Chairman of the Kerry-Edwards campaign in Milwaukee. (61) The following is a list of the individuals charged with slashing tires on the morning of November 2, 2004, and their connections to the Democrat campaign in 2004:

Michael J. Pratt
Paid $7,965.53 by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin in 2004
Pratt?s father is former Acting Mayor Marvin Pratt, who chaired the Kerry-Edwards campaign in Milwaukee
Sowande Ajumoke Omodunde (a.k.a ?Supreme Solar Allah?)
Paid $6,059.83 by Gwen Moore for Congress and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin in 2004
Son of U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI)
Lewis Gibson Caldwell, III
Paid $4,639.09 by Gwen Moore for Congress and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin in 2004
Lavelle Mohammad
Paid $8,858.50 by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and America Coming Together ($966 for canvassing work in June and July) in 2004
Justin J. Howell
Paid $2,550.29 in 2004 by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (62)
According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, on the day before the election, DNC consultant Opel Simmons witnessed individuals at the Democratic headquarters in Milwaukee discussing a plan to go to the Republican campaign office and cover it with yard signs, placards and bumper stickers. They referred to their plan as ?Operation Elephant Takeover.? However, upon learning that there were security guards at the Republican headquarters, they called off the operation. (63)
According to the complaint, at about 3 a.m. on Election Day, several people at the Democratic headquarters were gearing up for another project. Some of them dressed in what was described as ?Mission Impossible? type gear ? black outfits and knit caps. Simmons asked them what they were up to and warned them about the security guard. One of them told Simmons, ?Oh, man, you don?t want to know, you don?t want to know.? They were laughing and joking and continued to tell Simmons that he did not want to know what they were going to do. (64)

About 20 minutes later, the group returned to Democrat headquarters very excited, saying things like:

?They won?t go anywhere now, man, we got ?em, we got ?em?
?Man, I walked right past the security guard. He didn?t even know anything was going on.?
?That?s ?cause, you know, I was acting all crazy, you know, I was acting crazy. I even let him watch me piss.? (65)
The group went on talking about the affair and described the sound of the air escaping the tires. There was apparently much bragging as they described their various roles in the escapade. Mohammad was the ?deception guy? who walked around acting drunk. According to the criminal complaint, when Simmons asked them what was going on, defendant Michael Pratt told him, ?We got ?em. We hit the tires.? Simmons told investigators that at some point on Election Day a staffer at Democrat headquarters pulled an article on the tire-slashing incident from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel?s website. Simmons said that upon seeing the article, defendant Lavelle Mohammad said he wanted to frame it and put it on his wall. Simmons said he did not talk to any of the other defendants about the tire slashing incident over the course of Election Day. (66)
While the Kerry-Edwards campaign and state Democrats denied knowledge of the plan to vandalize the Republican get-out-the-vote vehicles, the vehicle used by the defendants was rented by Simmons, a political consultant from Virginia working for the DNC in Wisconsin. According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, Simmons told police that he had rented the vehicle ?to be used by his workers for their campaign activities.? When questioned by police on the night of November 2, Simmons said he knew that five of his workers were involved in slashing tires at Republican headquarters early that morning, and identified all five defendants to police. (67)

In all, forty tires on 25 separate vehicles were slashed in the incident causing $4,192.35 of damage to the tires, plus $1,125 in towing charges. Since the damage exceeded the $2,500 threshold for a felony, the five were charged with felony ?criminal damage to property,? which carries a maximum punishment of 3 1/2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The five defendants pleaded not guilty at their March 4 arraignments. (68) A trial was originally scheduled for mid-July, but has since been postponed until January 2006. (69)

(B) Court Issues Injunction Against Democrat Operatives Targeting Ohio Voters With Phone Calls Providing Deceptive Information to Voters

During the U.S. House Administration Committee hearings in March 2005, a common point of inquiry was the issue of phone calls made in an apparent effort to misdirect voters. The committee?s Ranking Member, Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-CA), stated that Ohio voters were ?disenfranchised? when ?voters were told ? that the presidential election would be on Wednesday the 3rd of November as opposed to November 2nd.? (70)

Ohio voters who had identified themselves as Republicans received telephone calls telling them that the election was to be held a day later than Election Day, that their polling locations had been changed and that they could only vote if they brought four separate pieces of identification to the poll. This information was intentionally deceptive and intended to direct voters to a polling place where they would not be able to cast a ballot.

The Marion County Common Pleas Court issued a temporary restraining order against the Marion and Greene County Democratic Parties, the Ohio Democratic Party and America Coming Together (ACT) enjoining them from making inaccurate and deceptive phone calls to targeted voters. (71) (Exhibit F) The judge originally assigned to the case recused himself because he had ?personally received a phone call? like the one described by the plaintiff in which incorrect information about date of the election and polling place was given, a point he noted in the Judgment Entry he signed effectuating his recusal. The Ohio Supreme Court appointed a visiting judge to hear the case who then issued a temporary restraining order against the county and state Democrat parties and against ACT. (72)

Judge David C. Faulkner ordered state and local Democrats and ACT to stop their calls ?misstating the date of the November 2, 2004 election? and ?directing [voters] to the wrong location to which they should report to vote.? (73) Faulkner?s restraining order specifically stopped the Democrats from the following activities:

?Any acts of interfering in any way with the rights of Ohio registered voters to vote in the November 2, 2004 election, including, but not limited to, telephoning or contacting in any way any such registered voters and misstating the date of the November 2, 2004 election, directing them to the wrong location to which they should report to vote, telling such voters that they must bring certain documentation to the polls in order to vote and suggesting to, telling or implying to said voters that there are procedural and/or documentary hurdles they must overcome in order to vote in the November 2, 2004 election.? (74)
The Marion County Democratic Party provided an affidavit in the case that explained its role in the matter. The affidavit, as completed by Cathy Chaffin, Chair of the Marion County Democratic Party, explained that Kerry-Edwards campaign staffers made the misleading phone calls blocked by Judge Faulker?s order. Chaffin stated in the affidavit that once she became aware that Kerry-Edwards staffers were using her office space to make calls giving ?the wrong polling location? to voters, she tried multiple times to get them to stop the calls, to the point of threatening to kick them out of the office if the calls did not stop. Below are the key points from Chaffin?s affidavit. (75)
The Marion County Democratic Party provided space to the Kerry-Edwards campaign for use as its campaign headquarters.
Ms. Chaffin became aware that Kerry-Edwards staffers were placing telephone calls to voters and giving out voting locations and ?that the wrong polling location was being given.?
Ms. Chaffin called Kerry-Edwards campaign staffer Jim Secreto and told him the activity must stop. She was assured that it would stop.
A few days later, Ms. Chaffin learned that the phone calls were continuing. She again told Mr. Secreto to stop and again was told that the activity would cease.
Finally, on Election Day, Ms. Chaffin learned that the telephone calls were still being made. At that time, she told Mr. Secreto that if the calls did not stop, he would have to leave Marion County Democratic Headquarters. (76)
The case is still pending before the Marion County Court of Common Pleas.
(C) Court Issues Injunction Against Democratic National Committee Ordering It To Stop Distributing Intimidating Materials To Republican Volunteers In Florida

On Election Day 2004, a Seminole County, Florida, court stopped the DNC and state Democratic Party from ?further intimidation? and dissemination of materials that were ?designed or intended to intimidate or unduly threaten the activities of poll watchers? organized by the Florida Republican Party. (77) (Exhibit G)

Florida law allows all candidates and political parties to have observers in polling places to monitor the conduct of the election. Both the Florida Republican Party and the state Democratic Party organized thousands of volunteers to participate in the election observers in polling locations across Florida. (78)

Under Florida law, the names and addresses of volunteer poll observers are filed with election officials in advance of the election. The DNC and Florida Democrat Partyic obtained these records on the identity of Republican poll observers and sought to prevent them from volunteering by sending them a letter threatening legal action against them personally. The letter, entitled ?IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE,? stated that each poll watcher receiving the document had ?now been provided notice of the law.? (79) (Exhibit H)

Individual volunteers who received the letter threatening legal action by the DNC went to court in Seminole County and obtained an injunction against the DNC and the Florida Democratic Party. (80) Seminole Circuit Judge Nancy Alley ordered the DNC, Florida Democratic Party and Democratic Executive Committee of Seminole County to stop ?further intimidation, further dissemination of these materials ? designed or intended to intimidate or unduly threaten the activities of poll watchers who are duly carrying out their responsibilities? granted under Florida law. The court ruled that the flyer constituted a ?misrepresentation of [poll observers?] legal rights and obligations.? (81) The DNC sought an emergency appeal of the trial court?s order to the Florida Appeals Court but was rebuffed. (82) (Exhibit I)

(D) Intimidating And Misleading Phone Calls To GOP Volunteers Made By President Bill Clinton And DNC General Counsel Joe Sandler In Florida

In addition to the intimidating letters sent by the DNC to Republican volunteers, the DNC paid for recorded phone calls to Republican poll observers? homes in Florida featuring the same message that the court in Seminole County found to be intimidating and misleading.

These phone calls were recorded by former President Bill Clinton and DNC General Counsel Joe Sandler. The call from Sandler said, ?Please be advised that any challenge to a voter must be stated in writing, under oath, and that you must have direct and first-hand knowledge of the voter?s ineligibility. Interfering with a citizen?s right to vote is a serious offense and swearing out a false statement is a felony. Violations will be referred to federal and state prosecutors.? The recording finished by noting, ?This call is paid for by the Democratic National Committee, www.democrats.org, not authorized by any candidate.? (83) (Exhibit J)

(E) Court Orders MoveOn.org To Cease Voter Intimidation And Harassment In Ohio

On Election Day, individuals in Franklin County, Ohio, were threatened and harassed at their polling places by agents of MoveOn.org after being asked about their voting preference and revealing their intention to vote Republican. Similar situations are alleged to have occurred elsewhere around the state and prompted a lawsuit filed in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court. Voters were intimidated by MoveOn.org in an attempt to dissuade them from voting for George W. Bush or in an attempt to harass them after they voted. (84) (Exhibit K)

Examples of such intimidation include one plaintiff who arrived at his polling place and was called over to a table operated by MoveOn.org that promised ?Free Coffee.? The plaintiff asked for a cup of coffee, was asked if he would voter for Kerry, and responded that he would not. The person at the table refused him a cup of coffee. The plaintiff then noticed that particular individual and others standing near the plaintiff?s car. When he exited the polling place, the MoveOn.org table was placed in front of his car, blocking his exit. When he asked them to move, the individuals harassed him, took his picture and recorded his license plate. (85)

Another voter noticed a loud and boisterous gentleman at her polling place wearing a ?Voting Rights Staff? badge and standing well within 100 feet of the polling place. In fact, he stood right outside one plaintiff?s voting booth and told her that she only had a few seconds left and needed to make her final vote. These plaintiffs sought, and received, a temporary restraining order against MoveOn.org. The complaint has subsequently been amended to include allegations of similar acts by agents of MoveOn.org that occurred elsewhere in the state. (86)

(F) Ohio Court Ordered Democrat Polling Place Challengers To Remove Deceptive Arm Bands and Badges

On Election Day, several Lucas County voters brought suit against the Lucas County Board of Elections and Democratic challengers in the polling place who were wearing armbands and/or badges identifying them as ?Voter Protection Staff,? ?Voting Rights Staff,? and other similar terms. The Lucas County Court of Common Pleas granted the temporary restraining order prohibiting the use of such intimidating insignia. (87) (Exhibit L)

(G) Violence Against Republican Volunteers In Philadelphia On Election Day

Philadelphia has a long history of vote fraud and intimidation. (88) According to press and police reports filed on November 2, this past election was no different. Reports indicate that Republican volunteers in Philadelphia were violently intimidated by Democrat activists on Election Day 2004.

One Republican activist, working as a Bush campaign legal volunteer to monitor the vote in Philadelphia, was ?cornered in a parking lot by roughly 10 large men, whom the police later identified as ?union goons.?? The men tried to tip over the minivan the Republican attorneys were sharing, ?punching it relentlessly, breaking parts off and failing to drag us out, they chased us in and out of the dense urban traffic.? It took ?a frantic 911 call and a police roadblock? to stop the assault, and the GOP volunteers ?had to be secreted out of town to safety by a police escort.? (89) (Exhibit M)

According to police reports filed after the incident, the union members? SUV was a rental vehicle. (90) (Exhibit N) On Election Day, rental vehicles were used all over the city ?primarily by the parties ? for transporting voters and election monitors.? (91)

(H) Union-Coordinated Violence And Intimidation Against Republican Campaign Offices And Volunteers

On October 5, a Bush-Cheney campaign volunteer in Orlando had his arm broken when trying to stop union activists from storming the campaign office. This incident was part of a series of simultaneous demonstrations coordinated by the AFL-CIO against Bush-Cheney campaign offices in 20 cities, intimidating campaign volunteers with violence and vandalism. In Orlando, AFL-CIO members stormed and ransacked the Bush-Cheney field office as part of what one local newscaster called a ?coordinated attack against the Bush-Cheney campaign.? Protesters also defaced posters of President Bush and dumped piles of letters on to the floor of the office. Several protesters in Orlando faced possible assault charges as a result of the incident. (92)

As part of the 20-city anti-Bush protest, more than 100 AFL-CIO members ?stormed? the Bush-Cheney campaign?s Miami office and ?pushed volunteers? inside. Three dozen union members rushed a campaign office in Tampa, shaking up elderly volunteers. (93) Union members staged an ?invasion? of the Republican campaign office in West Allis, Wisconsin, where police were called after 50 activists ?marched right in? and ?took over the place for about 30 minutes? with bullhorns and chanting. (94)

(I) Violence And Other Incidents of Intimidation

In 2004, Republicans were subject to an aggressive and sometimes violent campaign of harassment and intimidation orchestrated by Kerry supporters. At least three Bush-Cheney offices were shot at during the election season. A swastika was burned into the front yard of a Bush-Cheney supporter in Madison, Wisconsin. Other incidents included offices burglarized, windows smashed, tires slashed and other property damage. The following is a timeline of documented election-related violence and intimidation against the Bush-Cheney ?04 campaign and Republicans in 2004.

 

September 2, 2004: Gun Shot Fired Into Huntington, WV, Republican Headquarters. (95)

September 3, 2004: Windows Broken, Anti-Bush Messages Scrawled At Gallatin County, MT, Republican Headquarters. (96)

September 6, 2004: Huntington, WV, Republican Headquarters Egged. (97)

September 13, 2004: Swastika Drawn On Duluth, MN, Resident?s Lawn, Signs Also Defaced With Words ?Nazi? And ?Liar.? (98)

September 16, 2004: Community College Professor In Florida Punched Republican County Chairman In Face. (99)

September 22, 2004: West Elmira, NY, Resident Found Swastika Drawn On Bush Campaign Sign In His Yard. (100)

September 23, 2004: Office Ransacked During Break-In At Vilas County, WI, Republican Headquarters, Obscene Words And Graphic Pictures Sprayed On Campaign Signs. (101)

September 26, 2004: Windows Smashed And Signs Stolen At Oxford, MS, Bush-Cheney ?04 Headquarters. (102)

October 1, 2004: Laptops Of Executive And Field Director Stolen From Bush-Cheney ?04 Headquarters In Seattle, WA. (103)

October 1, 2004: Swastika Burned Into Front Yard Of Bush-Cheney ?04 Supporter In Madison, WI. (104)

October 2, 2004: Collinsville, OH, Resident Chains Down Bush-Cheney ?04 Signs After Several Signs Stolen And One Was Replaced With Kerry Sign. (105)

October 3, 2004: Burglary At Thousand Oaks, CA, Victory 2004 Headquarters Where Bush-Cheney ?04 Banner Was Stolen From Outside Premises. (106)

October 5, 2004: Gun Shots Fired Into Knoxville, TN, Bush-Cheney ?04 Office, Shattering Office?s Glass Front Doors. (107)

October 8, 2004: Two Men Were Caught On A Hidden Camera Tearing Down And Urinating On Bush-Cheney ?04 Sign In Akron, OH. (108)

October 9, 2004: Oxnard, CA, Supporter Placing Bush-Cheney ?04 In Yards Verbally Abused, Knocked Down And Had Signs Stolen. (109)

October 9, 2004: Bush-Cheney Signs Near Vail, CO, Cut In Half And Burned In ?Ransacking.? (110)

October 10, 2004: Office Windows Broken And Field Director?s Laptop Bag and Purse Stolen In Burglary At Canton, OH, Victory Office. (111)

October 11, 2004: Windows Broken, Petty Cash Stolen And Computers Tampered With In Burglary At Spokane, WA, Victory 2004 Headquarters. (112)

October 13, 2004: Walls And Windows Of York, PA, Victory 2004 Headquarters Vandalized With Pro-Kerry Spray-Paint And Signs Outside Destroyed. (113)

October 13, 2004: Window Smashed At Laconia, NH, Victory 2004 Headquarters. (114)

October 13, 2004: Kerry Supporter Caught Stealing Bush Sign In Cape Girardeau, MO, Pulled Knife On Sign?s Owner And Was Arrested. (115)

October 15, 2004: Someone Destroyed Large Plywood Bush-Cheney ?04 Sign, Then Tried To Smash Debris Though Glass Door Of Santa Fe, NM, Republican Party Headquarters. (116)

October 15, 2004: Someone Lined Window Sill With Bullet Casings At Littleton, NH, Republican Headquarters. (117)

October 16, 2004: Unknown Suspects Vandalized Large Bush-Cheney Campaign Sign In Hollister, CA, With Obscenities. (118)

October 17, 2004: Stickers Placed Over Windows Of Gettysburg, PA, Victory 2004 Headquarters. (119)

October 18, 2004: Eggs Thrown At Keene, NH, Victory 2004 Headquarters. (120)

October 18, 2004: 21 Protesters Arrested At Bush-Cheney ?04 Campaign Headquarters In Arlington, VA. (121)

October 20, 2004: Rocks Thrown Through Windows At Multnomah County, OR, Republican Party Headquarters. (122)

October 21, 2004: Bomb Threat Made Against Lake Havasu, AZ, Republican Party Headquarters. (123)

October 21, 2004: Windows Smashed At Multnomah County Republican Party Headquarters In Portland, OR. (124)

October 22, 2004: Break-In Discovered At Cincinnati, OH, Victory 2004 Headquarters. (125)

October 22, 2004: Break-In Discovered At Flagstaff, AZ, Victory 2004 Headquarters. Perpetrators gained entry by throwing a cinder block through a plate glass window. (126)

October 22, 2004: Chunk Of Concrete Tossed Through Glass Door Of Republican Headquarters In Santa Cruz, CA. (127)

October 23, 2004: Two Kerry Supporters Arrested After Stealing Pro-Bush Signs From Activist And Pushing Police Officer At Edwards Rally In St. Petersburg, FL. (128)


    
 Return To Index

Incidents Of Voter Intimidation & Suppression
(A) Charges Of Long Lines Orchestrated By Republicans To Suppress The Minority Vote
On June 2, 2005, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean charged that Republicans caused long lines at polling places on Election Day to suppress the minority vote. Dean stated:
?The Republicans are all about suppressing votes: two voting machines if you live in a black district, 10 voting machines if you live in a white district. ? You know, the idea that you have to wait on line for eight hours to cast your ballot in Florida there?s something the matter with that. ? Well, Republicans, I guess, can do that because a lot of them never made an honest living in their lives.? (7)

Dean was just the latest Democrat leader to make this charge. In January 2005, the Rev. Jesse Jackson charged that ?blatant discrimination in the distribution of voting machines ensured long lines in inner-city and working-class precincts that favored John Kerry, while the exurban districts that favored President Bush had no similar problems.? (8) The Democrat staff of the House Judiciary Committee, led by Ranking Member Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), alleged in a January 2005 report that ?the misallocation of voting machines [in Ohio] led to unprecedented lines that disenfranchised scores, if not hundreds of thousands, of predominantly minority and Democratic voters.? The Conyers report specifically cited Franklin County, Ohio, as an area in which Republicans intentionally misallocated voting machines in order to cause long lines and disenfranchise minority voters. (9)

However, Democrat election officials in Franklin County and the U.S. Department of Justice have refuted this allegation. During the recent U.S. House Administration Committee hearing held in Columbus, William Anthony, Chairman of the Franklin County Democratic Party and County Board of Elections, flatly rejected the allegation that long lines were part of some effort to disenfranchise minorities and/or Democrat voters. Anthony further testified that long lines were not limited to minority and Democrat communities. Anthony stated under oath:

?Some have alleged that precincts in predominantly African American or Democratic precincts were deliberately targeted for a reduction in voting machines, thus creating the only lines in the county. I can assure you Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, both as a leader in the black community and Chairman of the local Democratic Party and a labor leader and Chairman of the Board of Elections, that these accusations are simply not true.? (10)

Anthony stated that ?on Election Day I spent several hours driving around the county in the rain and observed long lines in every part of our county, in urban and suburban neighborhoods, black and white communities, Democrat and Republican precincts.? He referred to those who made claims about long lines and disenfranchisement as ?conspiracy theorists? and ?Internet bloggers.? (11)

Anthony noted that the entire process for allocating voting machines in the county was controlled by a Democratic supervisor. (12) He cited three reasons for the long lines in Franklin County on Election Day 2004: increased voter turnout, static resources and an exceptionally long ballot. (13) Finally, Anthony was ?personally offended? by these allegations. As he told The Columbus Dispatch, ?I am a black man. Why would I sit there and disenfranchise voters in my own community? ? I feel like they?re accusing me of suppressing the black vote. I?ve fought my whole life for people?s right to vote.? (14)

In July 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice reported that its investigation of Franklin County found that the county ?assigned voting machines in a non-discriminatory manner.? As to charges of racial disparities in voting machine allocation, the Justice Department found that ?the allocation of voting machines actually favored black voters because more white voters were voting on each voting machine than black voters.? The Department reported that white precincts averaged 172 voters per machine, while black precincts averaged 159 voters per machine. Noting that elections in Franklin County ? and everywhere in Ohio ? are run by a six-member Board of Elections equally divided between Republicans and Democrats, the Department concluded that ?long lines were attributable not to the allocation of machines, but to the lack of sufficient machines to serve a dramatically enlarged electorate under any allocation.? (15) (Exhibit B)

(B) State Rep. John Pappageorge?s Statement That Republicans Needed To ?Suppress? The Detroit Vote
In the 2004 campaign, Democrats repeatedly cited a quote by 73-year-old Michigan state Rep. John Pappageorge as evidence of Republican plans to suppress the minority vote. In July 2004, Pappageorge was quoted by the Detroit Free Press as saying, ?If we do not suppress the Detroit vote, we?re going to have a tough time in this election.? Detroit is 83 percent African American. (16)
When questioned about his statement, Pappageorge said the quote was misunderstood and then apologized to every Detroit legislator in the state House of Representatives. Pappageorge stated, ?In the context that we were talking about, I said we?ve got to get the vote up in Oakland (County) and the vote down in Detroit. You get it down with a good message.? (17) Pappageorge immediately resigned from his position as a chairman of Michigan Veterans for Bush-Cheney. (18)

We have found no evidence of any plan by Pappageorge or others to suppress the minority vote in Detroit. In fact, minority voter participation in the presidential election in Michigan was up in 2004. (19) Voter turnout in Detroit increased in 2004 from 2000, and African American voters reportedly voted 95 percent for John Kerry. (20) Statements such as those by Pappageorge are highly inflammatory, even in the absence of any corresponding effort to suppress voter turnout. No political party, candidate or campaign should premise its success on a strategy of suppressing the participation of any class or group of voters, whatever that group of voters? racial or demographic characteristics. Rather, the political process works best when the parties, candidates and their campaigns focus on delivering a message that encourages their support and seeks to persuade voters to support their position.

(C) Charges That Republicans Spread Misinformation On Date of Election And Polling Places
In the weeks leading up to Election Day 2004, there were scattered reports of misinformation being spread about where and when the vote would take place. In Ohio, there were reports of fliers being distributed that said Republicans were to vote on Tuesday (November 2) and Democrats on Wednesday (November 3). Callers to nursing homes reportedly told senior citizens that the elderly were not allowed to vote and other callers directed people to the wrong polling places in African American neighborhoods or said voters who owed back child support or had unpaid parking tickets would be arrested if they came to the polls. (21)
No paid Republican operative has been linked to these misinformation efforts. A review of such incidents linked to paid Democrat operatives appears in the next section of this report. While we found no evidence that GOP operatives were responsible for these heinous acts, both the Republican and Democrat parties and law enforcement should be fully committed to investigating and prosecuting all reported efforts to misinform voters, or any effort to intentionally misdirect a voter so the voter will be denied the opportunity to participate in the election. What follows is a review of incidents in which it was charged that Republicans misinformed Democrat voters in 2004.

News reports indicate that in Franklin County, Ohio, a bogus flier was distributed telling Democrats to vote on Wednesday, November 3, the day after Election Day. The flier falsely claimed to be from the Franklin County Board of Elections. Republican operatives were never linked its distribution, and the Chairman of the Franklin County Democratic Party ?didn?t think it was a ploy by his Republican counterparts.? Election officials took action to counteract this false information. (22) Franklin County Elections Director Matthew Damschroder, a Republican, held a press conference to warn voters about the fraudulent flier and reemphasize that the election was indeed on November 2. The county Elections Board also mailed a post card to each of the more than 800,000 registered voters in the county informing them of their correct precinct and voting location at a cost of over $250,000 to the county. (23) These efforts by election officials to respond quickly to reports of voter misinformation are commendable and illustrate responsible action in response to this issue.

In Lake County, Ohio, some voters reportedly received letters on fake election board letterhead telling them that if they were registered by certain Democrat groups they would be unable to vote on Election Day. (24) The letter, headlined ?Urgent Advisory,? said that no one registered by NAACP, America Coming Together (ACT), or the John Kerry and Capri Cafaro campaigns would be able to vote because the groups had registered voters illegally. (25) ACT spokesman Jess Goode charged that the letter was ?proof positive that the Republicans are trying to steal the election in Ohio. They know they can?t win if all legitimate Ohio voters cast their ballots, so they?re kicking up a storm of voter intimidation and suppression.? (26) The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Lake County Sheriff Dan Dunlap was investigating the matter. We could find no evidence that any paid Republican operative was linked to these letters in Lake County.

In Milwaukee, a flier from the fictional group ?Milwaukee Black Voters League? was reportedly distributed in African American neighborhoods inaccurately telling voters they were ineligible if they voted previously in the year or if they had been convicted of any offense, no matter how minor. (27) The flier also warned, ?If you violate any of these laws, you can get ten years in prison and your children will get taken away from you.? (28) A spokesman for the Wisconsin Republican Party denounced the flier as ?appalling,? and a Bush-Cheney ?04 spokesman said the campaign would ?not tolerate any effort to suppress or intimidate voters.? (29) We were unable to find any reports of Republican operatives linked to the Milwaukee fliers.

At least some of the misleading information on voting locations came from the Kerry campaign itself. On Election Day, The Columbus Dispatch reported that hundreds of Columbus voters received directions to the wrong polling places after Kerry campaign canvassers ?mixed up the precincts in several Columbus neighborhoods.? While the Dispatch reported that the affected neighborhoods were ?predominantly pro-Kerry,? some residents were extremely unhappy after receiving directions to the wrong polling place. Dawn M. McCombs, 37, ?who complained to the Ohio Democratic Party about the error,? said ?This just really makes me mad ? It?s just stupid.? Columbus resident Yolanda Tolliver, who received one of the Kerry campaign fliers, was concerned about how the mistake might affect the area?s elderly and poor residents. ?We have people who have to work, and people who don?t work at all. They?re used to being discouraged. What happens is when they get frustrated, they won?t vote at all,? Tolliver said. Franklin County Board of Elections Director Matthew Damschroder said that while he didn?t think the distribution of the incorrect poll information was ?malicious,? it ?could disenfranchise a voter.? (30)

(D) McAuliffe Letter Alleging RNC-Funded Disenfranchisement
On October 13, DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe sent a letter to RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie accusing Republicans of ?systematic efforts to disenfranchise voters ? to impose unlawful ID requirements in New Mexico, to throw eligible voters off the rolls in Clark County Nevada and to deprive voters of their rights to vote a provisional ballot in Ohio, among other examples.? The letter argued that while Republicans claimed to combat vote fraud, ?it is actually the Republicans who are engaging in vote fraud in Nevada, Oregon and potentially other states.? McAuliffe cited the example of a voter registration organization paid by the RNC that was accused of ?ripping up Democratic voter registration forms? in Nevada. (31)
McAuliffe?s reference to ?ripping up Democrat voter registration forms? was a reference to the charges leveled by a former employee of the voter registration firm Sproul & Associates. These charges were, however, later found to be without merit. In October 2004, former Sproul & Associates employee Eric Russell claimed to have witnessed his supervisors tearing up Democrat registration forms. Russell, who admitted to being a disgruntled employee upset about not being paid for work he claimed to have done, said he witnessed his supervisor shred eight to ten Democratic registration forms from prospective voters. (32)

On the basis of these allegations, the Nevada Democratic Party sued the state of Nevada to reopen voter registration only in Clark County. A state court judge rejected the suit, saying that Democrats? thin evidence of registration forms actually being destroyed did not justify reopening the registration process. (33)

In late October, Nevada Secretary of State Dean Heller announced that a state investigation of Eric Russell?s claims against Sproul found ?no evidence of an organized or concerted effort which would influence or impact the result of the elections in Clark County based on these allegations.? (34)

Allegations were also made that Sproul & Associates was registering Republicans exclusively and tearing up registration cards in Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. (35) While the Secretary of State and Attorney General launched investigations of Sproul?s activities in Oregon, there are no reports indicating any indictments or other legal actions taken against Sproul or its workers in these states. (36) The mere fact of these allegations and the other documented abuses of the voter registration process and incidents of voter registration fraud detailed in this report support reforming the process by which third-party groups participate in voter registration efforts and call for more accountability and oversight of third party voter registration efforts by election officials.

(E) Charges That Republicans Targeted Minority Precincts For Polling Place Challengers In Jefferson County, Kentucky
Prior to and since the 2003 elections, Democrats and their allies alleged that the Jefferson County, Kentucky, Republican Party?s placement of challengers in Democrat precincts was an attempt to suppress the African American vote by illegally targeting precincts in the county based on race. (37) Days before the 2003 gubernatorial election, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit accusing the county Republican Party of singling out minority Democrat precincts for intimidation through vote challengers. (38)
On November 4, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Thomas Wine denied the ACLU?s effort to ban GOP challengers from the polls and determined that their allegations of racial targeting were not supported by the evidence. Judge Wine found that Republicans placed challengers in county precincts without regard to any racial criteria. The judge ruled that the county Republican Party used a ?racially neutral? method of placing challengers, choosing those precincts ?with the highest percentage of registered Democratic voters vis-?-vis Republican.? Judge Wine noted that ?speculation alone? by the ACLU and Democrats about the challengers? placement was ?not sufficient? to merit a restraining order. According to Judge Wine?s order, state law entitled Republicans to have challengers at the polls on Election Day and barred such challengers from disrupting the election process by ?intimidating or harassing verbally? any voter, under penalty of being removed from the polling place. (39) (Exhibit C)

Despite the charge that Republicans were seeking to suppress the African American vote through their poll watcher program, the results of elections in 2003 and 2004 showed the opposite effect. In 2003, African American turnout actually increased in key county precincts targeted by Republicans for monitoring, and elections officials reported ?no problems? with the Republican poll watchers. (40) President Bush actually lost Jefferson County by a larger margin in 2004 than he did in 2000. John Kerry won the county by 5,592 votes in 2004, while Al Gore won it in 2000 by 4,849 votes. (41)

(F) Ohio Challenger Allegations
In the weeks leading up to the 2004 election, the issue of partisan challengers at polling places in Ohio became a lightning rod for charges voter intimidation and suppression. Ohio law allows observers who have been properly registered and credentialed by boards of election to be present at polling locations to observe the conduct of election. The observers are supervised by election officials and have a narrowly defined role. Ohio law allows each party, as well as candidates and issue campaigns, to appoint these observers, denominated as ?challengers? in the statutes. Both Republicans and Democrats applied to have thousands of challengers monitor the vote across Ohio on November 2. (42)
Republicans said they wanted challengers in polling places because of concerns about fraudulently registered voters in Ohio. (43) Democrats said they registered challengers only to watch the GOP observers, who they accused of trying to intimidate minority voters. The Rev. Jesse Jackson called the Republican challenger effort ?Old South politics, a type of intimidation.? (44)

Democrats ?filed lawsuits accusing the GOP of trying to suppress turnout and intimidate black voters? through their challenger program. One lawsuit, filed by civil rights activists Marian and Don Spencer, asked U.S. District Judge Susan J. Dlott of Cincinnati ?for an emergency restraining order barring partisan challengers from polling stations? in Ohio on the grounds that such challengers would ?intimidate black voters.? (45) Another lawsuit brought by Summit County Democrats asked U.S. District Judge John Adams of Akron to ?to declare unconstitutional a decades-old Ohio law that allows challengers to sit in polling places and challenge voters.? (46) Both Judge Dlott and Judge Adams held that the Ohio statute providing for challengers was unconstitutional and barred challengers from the polls on Election Day. (47) Neither Dlott or Adams ruled that the Republican challengers were intended to suppress minority voter participation. During the hearing before Judge Dlott Republicans were questioned extensively about the Republican challengers and the evidence established that the determination of which polling places Republican challengers observed was made without regard to any racial characteristic of the precincts in which challengers participated.

However, early on the morning of Election Day, a three-judge panel from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati overturned the lower courts? rulings to allow challengers in Ohio polling places. The court ruled that the presence of Election Day challengers was allowed under state law, and that while registered voters should be able to cast ballots freely, there is also a ?strong public interest in permitting legitimate statutory processes to operate to preclude voting by those who are not entitled to vote.? (48) The Plaintiffs appealed the 6th Circuit?s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, but Associate Justice John Paul Stevens declined to hear the case, and thus refused to block the election challengers. Justice Stevens wrote that while the accusations leveled by the Plaintiffs were ?undoubtedly serious? time was too short for the court to render a proper decision. Stevens also expressed faith in local election officials in declining to hear the case by writing, ?I have faith that the elected officials and numerous election volunteers on the ground will carry out their responsibilities in a way that will enable qualified voters to cast their ballots.? (49)

Allegations that Republican challengers in the polls would ?intimidate and suppress the black vote? in Ohio in 2004, were spectacularly unfounded. African American turnout was up in predominantly black precincts in Ohio. In Cleveland, ?turnout was up nearly 22 percent [from 2000] and it went higher in some black wards.? In 2004, President Bush doubled his support from Ohio?s black voters from 2000. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, ?Black voters may have given President Bush the edge in Ohio.? (50) The paper also reported that the ?most feared delays of the election ? from Republican challengers questioning the validity of voters at the polls ? never materialized.? (51) According to the New York Times, ?there were no reports that large numbers of voters were being challenged or denied a ballot [in Ohio].? (52)

On April 28, 2005, U.S. District Judge Susan J. Dlott issued an order denying a second motion for preliminary injunction against Republicans, holding that no voter?s due process rights are violated by Ohio?s polling place challenger rules. Judge Dlott ruled that there was no evidence to support giving the plaintiffs any relief on any of their claims. (53) (Exhibit D)

The plaintiffs in the case had claimed that the procedures established by the Republican Secretary of State would deprive properly registered voters of the opportunity to vote. They asserted that a voter whose qualifications to vote were challenged would be denied rights because they might fail to fully answer questions put to them by the precinct judges. According to Judge Dlott, the plaintiffs ?failed to establish a likelihood of success on the merits of claims and have not shown that any irreparable injury has resulted or will result from the [challenge] procedures.? Judge Dlott held that the plaintiffs ?produced no evidence at the hearing that any eligible voter was wrongfully denied a ballot under [the Ohio challenger rules] in the November 2004 election or that such a voter would be denied a ballot in any future election.? Judge Dlott reasoned that ?while the magnitude of the burden of having one?s properly registered right to vote revoked is great, there is no evidence that it has happened or will happen in May?s primary.? (54)

It has been noted that it is not difficult to convince the winner of an election that the result was proper and the election was fair and honest. The difficulty is to assure the losing candidate and party that the election was legitimate. Providing openness and transparency in the conduct of elections is an important means to assure that voters and the participants in the election (the candidates and political parties) ? especially those who sought a different outcome - have confidence that the election has been conducted in a fair and honest manner and that the result is a legitimate expression of the will of the voters. The presence of observers in polling places deters attempts at vote fraud and also provides assurance that there was no misconduct by election officials. All political parties and candidates should have appropriate means to have observers in polling places. State law should allow a role for observers and should provide them a meaningful opportunity to monitor the conduct of the election without interfering with the lawful conduct of the election. As the Ohio and Kentucky litigation illustrate, the mere presence of observers in polling places also invites legal challenge that such a presence is in some manner discriminatory. The outcome of the Ohio and Kentucky litigation and the actual participation in the respective elections by minority voters suggests that claims of observers lawfully monitoring the conduct of the election does not deter participation by minority or other voters.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #115 on: August 29, 2005, 06:38:29 PM »

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/995phqjw.asp
 
A War to Be Proud Of
From the September 5 / September 12, 2005 issue: The case for overthrowing Saddam was unimpeachable. Why, then, is the administration tongue-tied?
by Christopher Hitchens
09/05/2005, Volume 010, Issue 47

 



LET ME BEGIN WITH A simple sentence that, even as I write it, appears less than Swiftian in the modesty of its proposal: "Prison conditions at Abu Ghraib have improved markedly and dramatically since the arrival of Coalition troops in Baghdad."

I could undertake to defend that statement against any member of Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International, and I know in advance that none of them could challenge it, let alone negate it. Before March 2003, Abu Ghraib was an abattoir, a torture chamber, and a concentration camp. Now, and not without reason, it is an international byword for Yankee imperialism and sadism. Yet the improvement is still, unarguably, the difference between night and day. How is it possible that the advocates of a post-Saddam Iraq have been placed on the defensive in this manner? And where should one begin?

I once tried to calculate how long the post-Cold War liberal Utopia had actually lasted. Whether you chose to date its inception from the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, or the death of Nicolae Ceausescu in late December of the same year, or the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, or the referendum defeat suffered by Augusto Pinochet (or indeed from the publication of Francis Fukuyama's book about the "end of history" and the unarguable triumph of market liberal pluralism), it was an epoch that in retrospect was over before it began. By the middle of 1990, Saddam Hussein had abolished Kuwait and Slobodan Milosevic was attempting to erase the identity and the existence of Bosnia. It turned out that we had not by any means escaped the reach of atavistic, aggressive, expansionist, and totalitarian ideology. Proving the same point in another way, and within approximately the same period, the theocratic dictator of Iran had publicly claimed the right to offer money in his own name for the suborning of the murder of a novelist living in London, and the g?nocidaire faction in Rwanda had decided that it could probably get away with putting its long-fantasized plan of mass murder into operation.

One is not mentioning these apparently discrepant crimes and nightmares as a random or unsorted list. Khomeini, for example, was attempting to compensate for the humiliation of the peace agreement he had been compelled to sign with Saddam Hussein. And Saddam Hussein needed to make up the loss, of prestige and income, that he had himself suffered in the very same war. Milosevic (anticipating Putin, as it now seems to me, and perhaps Beijing also) was riding a mutation of socialist nationalism into national socialism. It was to be noticed in all cases that the aggressors, whether they were killing Muslims, or exalting Islam, or just killing their neighbors, shared a deep and abiding hatred of the United States.

The balance sheet of the Iraq war, if it is to be seriously drawn up, must also involve a confrontation with at least this much of recent history. Was the Bush administration right to leave--actually to confirm--Saddam Hussein in power after his eviction from Kuwait in 1991? Was James Baker correct to say, in his delightfully folksy manner, that the United States did not "have a dog in the fight" that involved ethnic cleansing for the mad dream of a Greater Serbia? Was the Clinton administration prudent in its retreat from Somalia, or wise in its opposition to the U.N. resolution that called for a preemptive strengthening of the U.N. forces in Rwanda?

I know hardly anybody who comes out of this examination with complete credit. There were neoconservatives who jeered at Rushdie in 1989 and who couldn't see the point when Sarajevo faced obliteration in 1992. There were leftist humanitarians and radicals who rallied to Rushdie and called for solidarity with Bosnia, but who--perhaps because of a bad conscience about Palestine--couldn't face a confrontation with Saddam Hussein even when he annexed a neighbor state that was a full member of the Arab League and of the U.N. (I suppose I have to admit that I was for a time a member of that second group.) But there were consistencies, too. French statecraft, for example, was uniformly hostile to any resistance to any aggression, and Paris even sent troops to rescue its filthy clientele in Rwanda. And some on the hard left and the brute right were also opposed to any exercise, for any reason, of American military force.

The only speech by any statesman that can bear reprinting from that low, dishonest decade came from Tony Blair when he spoke in Chicago in 1999. Welcoming the defeat and overthrow of Milosevic after the Kosovo intervention, he warned against any self-satisfaction and drew attention to an inescapable confrontation that was coming with Saddam Hussein. So far from being an American "poodle," as his taunting and ignorant foes like to sneer, Blair had in fact leaned on Clinton over Kosovo and was insisting on the importance of Iraq while George Bush was still an isolationist governor of Texas.

Notwithstanding this prescience and principle on his part, one still cannot read the journals of the 2000/2001 millennium without the feeling that one is revisiting a hopelessly somnambulist relative in a neglected home. I am one of those who believe, uncynically, that Osama bin Laden did us all a service (and holy war a great disservice) by his mad decision to assault the American homeland four years ago. Had he not made this world-historical mistake, we would have been able to add a Talibanized and nuclear-armed Pakistan to our list of the threats we failed to recognize in time. (This threat still exists, but it is no longer so casually overlooked.)

The subsequent liberation of Pakistan's theocratic colony in Afghanistan, and the so-far decisive eviction and defeat of its bin Ladenist guests, was only a reprisal. It took care of the last attack. But what about the next one? For anyone with eyes to see, there was only one other state that combined the latent and the blatant definitions of both "rogue" and "failed." This state--Saddam's ruined and tortured and collapsing Iraq--had also met all the conditions under which a country may be deemed to have sacrificed its own legal sovereignty. To recapitulate: It had invaded its neighbors, committed genocide on its own soil, harbored and nurtured international thugs and killers, and flouted every provision of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The United Nations, in this crisis, faced with regular insult to its own resolutions and its own character, had managed to set up a system of sanctions-based mutual corruption. In May 2003, had things gone on as they had been going, Saddam Hussein would have been due to fill Iraq's slot as chair of the U.N. Conference on Disarmament. Meanwhile, every species of gangster from the hero of the Achille Lauro hijacking to Abu Musab al Zarqawi was finding hospitality under Saddam's crumbling roof.

One might have thought, therefore, that Bush and Blair's decision to put an end at last to this intolerable state of affairs would be hailed, not just as a belated vindication of long-ignored U.N. resolutions but as some corrective to the decade of shame and inaction that had just passed in Bosnia and Rwanda. But such is not the case. An apparent consensus exists, among millions of people in Europe and America, that the whole operation for the demilitarization of Iraq, and the salvage of its traumatized society, was at best a false pretense and at worst an unprovoked aggression. How can this possibly be?

THERE IS, first, the problem of humorless and pseudo-legalistic literalism. In Saki's short story The Lumber Room, the naughty but clever child Nicholas, who has actually placed a frog in his morning bread-and-milk, rejoices in his triumph over the adults who don't credit this excuse for not eating his healthful dish:


"You said there couldn't possibly be a frog in my bread-and-milk; there was a frog in my bread-and-milk," he repeated, with the insistence of a skilled tactician who does not intend to shift from favorable ground.
Childishness is one thing--those of us who grew up on this wonderful Edwardian author were always happy to see the grown-ups and governesses discomfited. But puerility in adults is quite another thing, and considerably less charming. "You said there were WMDs in Iraq and that Saddam had friends in al Qaeda. . . . Blah, blah, pants on fire." I have had many opportunities to tire of this mantra. It takes ten seconds to intone the said mantra. It would take me, on my most eloquent C-SPAN day, at the very least five minutes to say that Abdul Rahman Yasin, who mixed the chemicals for the World Trade Center attack in 1993, subsequently sought and found refuge in Baghdad; that Dr. Mahdi Obeidi, Saddam's senior physicist, was able to lead American soldiers to nuclear centrifuge parts and a blueprint for a complete centrifuge (the crown jewel of nuclear physics) buried on the orders of Qusay Hussein; that Saddam's agents were in Damascus as late as February 2003, negotiating to purchase missiles off the shelf from North Korea; or that Rolf Ekeus, the great Swedish socialist who founded the inspection process in Iraq after 1991, has told me for the record that he was offered a $2 million bribe in a face-to-face meeting with Tariq Aziz. And these eye-catching examples would by no means exhaust my repertoire, or empty my quiver. Yes, it must be admitted that Bush and Blair made a hash of a good case, largely because they preferred to scare people rather than enlighten them or reason with them. Still, the only real strategy of deception has come from those who believe, or pretend, that Saddam Hussein was no problem.

I have a ready answer to those who accuse me of being an agent and tool of the Bush-Cheney administration (which is the nicest thing that my enemies can find to say). Attempting a little levity, I respond that I could stay at home if the authorities could bother to make their own case, but that I meanwhile am a prisoner of what I actually do know about the permanent hell, and the permanent threat, of the Saddam regime. However, having debated almost all of the spokespeople for the antiwar faction, both the sane and the deranged, I was recently asked a question that I was temporarily unable to answer. "If what you claim is true," the honest citizen at this meeting politely asked me, "how come the White House hasn't told us?"

I do in fact know the answer to this question. So deep and bitter is the split within official Washington, most especially between the Defense Department and the CIA, that any claim made by the former has been undermined by leaks from the latter. (The latter being those who maintained, with a combination of dogmatism and cowardice not seen since Lincoln had to fire General McClellan, that Saddam Hussein was both a "secular" actor and--this is the really rich bit--a rational and calculating one.)

There's no cure for that illusion, but the resulting bureaucratic chaos and unease has cornered the president into his current fallback upon platitude and hollowness. It has also induced him to give hostages to fortune. The claim that if we fight fundamentalism "over there" we won't have to confront it "over here" is not just a standing invitation for disproof by the next suicide-maniac in London or Chicago, but a coded appeal to provincial and isolationist opinion in the United States. Surely the elementary lesson of the grim anniversary that will shortly be upon us is that American civilians are as near to the front line as American soldiers.

It is exactly this point that makes nonsense of the sob-sister tripe pumped out by the Cindy Sheehan circus and its surrogates. But in reply, why bother to call a struggle "global" if you then try to localize it? Just say plainly that we shall fight them everywhere they show themselves, and fight them on principle as well as in practice, and get ready to warn people that Nigeria is very probably the next target of the jihadists. The peaceniks love to ask: When and where will it all end? The answer is easy: It will end with the surrender or defeat of one of the contending parties. Should I add that I am certain which party that ought to be? Defeat is just about imaginable, though the mathematics and the algebra tell heavily against the holy warriors. Surrender to such a foe, after only four years of combat, is not even worthy of consideration.

Antaeus was able to draw strength from the earth every time an antagonist wrestled him to the ground. A reverse mythology has been permitted to take hold in the present case, where bad news is deemed to be bad news only for regime-change. Anyone with the smallest knowledge of Iraq knows that its society and infrastructure and institutions have been appallingly maimed and beggared by three decades of war and fascism (and the "divide-and-rule" tactics by which Saddam maintained his own tribal minority of the Sunni minority in power). In logic and morality, one must therefore compare the current state of the country with the likely or probable state of it had Saddam and his sons been allowed to go on ruling.

At once, one sees that all the alternatives would have been infinitely worse, and would most likely have led to an implosion--as well as opportunistic invasions from Iran and Turkey and Saudi Arabia, on behalf of their respective interests or confessional clienteles. This would in turn have necessitated a more costly and bloody intervention by some kind of coalition, much too late and on even worse terms and conditions. This is the lesson of Bosnia and Rwanda yesterday, and of Darfur today. When I have made this point in public, I have never had anyone offer an answer to it. A broken Iraq was in our future no matter what, and was a responsibility (somewhat conditioned by our past blunders) that no decent person could shirk. The only unthinkable policy was one of abstention.

Two pieces of good fortune still attend those of us who go out on the road for this urgent and worthy cause. The first is contingent: There are an astounding number of plain frauds and charlatans (to phrase it at its highest) in charge of the propaganda of the other side. Just to tell off the names is to frighten children more than Saki ever could: Michael Moore, George Galloway, Jacques Chirac, Tim Robbins, Richard Clarke, Joseph Wilson . . . a roster of gargoyles that would send Ripley himself into early retirement. Some of these characters are flippant, and make heavy jokes about Halliburton, and some disdain to conceal their sympathy for the opposite side. So that's easy enough.

The second bit of luck is a certain fiber displayed by a huge number of anonymous Americans. Faced with a constant drizzle of bad news and purposely demoralizing commentary, millions of people stick out their jaws and hang tight. I am no fan of populism, but I surmise that these citizens are clear on the main point: It is out of the question--plainly and absolutely out of the question--that we should surrender the keystone state of the Middle East to a rotten, murderous alliance between Baathists and bin Ladenists. When they hear the fatuous insinuation that this alliance has only been created by the resistance to it, voters know in their intestines that those who say so are soft on crime and soft on fascism. The more temperate anti-warriors, such as Mark Danner and Harold Meyerson, like to employ the term "a war of choice." One should have no problem in accepting this concept. As they cannot and do not deny, there was going to be another round with Saddam Hussein no matter what. To whom, then, should the "choice" of time and place have fallen? The clear implication of the antichoice faction--if I may so dub them--is that this decision should have been left up to Saddam Hussein. As so often before . . .

DOES THE PRESIDENT deserve the benefit of the reserve of fortitude that I just mentioned? Only just, if at all. We need not argue about the failures and the mistakes and even the crimes, because these in some ways argue themselves. But a positive accounting could be offered without braggartry, and would include:

(1) The overthrow of Talibanism and Baathism, and the exposure of many highly suggestive links between the two elements of this Hitler-Stalin pact. Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who moved from Afghanistan to Iraq before the coalition intervention, has even gone to the trouble of naming his organization al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

(2) The subsequent capitulation of Qaddafi's Libya in point of weapons of mass destruction--a capitulation that was offered not to Kofi Annan or the E.U. but to Blair and Bush.

(3) The consequent unmasking of the A.Q. Khan network for the illicit transfer of nuclear technology to Libya, Iran, and North Korea.

(4) The agreement by the United Nations that its own reform is necessary and overdue, and the unmasking of a quasi-criminal network within its elite.

(5) The craven admission by President Chirac and Chancellor Schr?der, when confronted with irrefutable evidence of cheating and concealment, respecting solemn treaties, on the part of Iran, that not even this will alter their commitment to neutralism. (One had already suspected as much in the Iraqi case.)

(6) The ability to certify Iraq as actually disarmed, rather than accept the word of a psychopathic autocrat.

(7) The immense gains made by the largest stateless minority in the region--the Kurds--and the spread of this example to other states.

(Cool The related encouragement of democratic and civil society movements in Egypt, Syria, and most notably Lebanon, which has regained a version of its autonomy.

(9) The violent and ignominious death of thousands of bin Ladenist infiltrators into Iraq and Afghanistan, and the real prospect of greatly enlarging this number.

(10) The training and hardening of many thousands of American servicemen and women in a battle against the forces of nihilism and absolutism, which training and hardening will surely be of great use in future combat.

It would be admirable if the president could manage to make such a presentation. It would also be welcome if he and his deputies adopted a clear attitude toward the war within the war: in other words, stated plainly, that the secular and pluralist forces within Afghan and Iraqi society, while they are not our clients, can in no circumstance be allowed to wonder which outcome we favor.

The great point about Blair's 1999 speech was that it asserted the obvious. Coexistence with aggressive regimes or expansionist, theocratic, and totalitarian ideologies is not in fact possible. One should welcome this conclusion for the additional reason that such coexistence is not desirable, either. If the great effort to remake Iraq as a demilitarized federal and secular democracy should fail or be defeated, I shall lose sleep for the rest of my life in reproaching myself for doing too little. But at least I shall have the comfort of not having offered, so far as I can recall, any word or deed that contributed to a defeat.



Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair. His most recent book is Thomas Jefferson: Author of America. A recent essay of his appears in the collection A Matter of Principle: Humanitarian Arguments for War in Iraq, newly published by the University of California Press.

 
 

? Copyright 2005, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.
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buzwardo
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« Reply #116 on: September 01, 2005, 05:55:26 PM »

Possibly better posted under "Homeland Security." In the wake of social  pathologies emerging after hurricane Katrina, National Review Online republished the following:

September 01, 2005, 1:16 p.m.
A Riot Primer
The importance of using force to control the spread of urban riots.

By Eugene H. Methvin

EDITOR'S NOTE: This piece appeared in the June 10, 1991, issue of National Review.

Do we have to relearn every couple of decades ? at high cost in blood and treasure ? the ABCs of riot ignition and suppression?

Two recent outbursts of urban mass violence suggest we may be in for a chain reaction of anti-police rioting like the ones that erupted in Harlem and five other cities in 1964, followed by the bloody "long hot summer" riots in Watts, Newark, Detroit, Washington, and many other cities in 1965-68. Following the vicious Los Angeles police beating of Rodney King on March 3, police attempts to arrest street drunks, a routine occurrence, produced a minor riot in Houston and major violence in Washington, D.C.

In a drug-and-gang-infested neighborhood in Houston, on Saturday night, May 4, a solo policeman came upon a man who appeared intoxicated. The officer told the man he would have to go to jail. The man refused and shoved the officer. "At that time I noticed another man standing behind me with a video camera, filming the whole thing. It was an obvious setup," said Officer J. R. Deugenio, who wisely beat a retreat. A crowd of some 75 to 100 people gathered, and bottles and rocks rained down on his patrol car before he could escape. He reported hearing four or five shots. Two similar incidents had occurred in the same neighborhood on Saturday, April 20. In each case an officer's car was pelted with rocks, sticks, and bottles, and he was forced to yield a prisoner. Houston Police Chief Elizabeth M. Watson ordered her cops not to enter the area, less than a mile west of downtown, without backup.

In Washington, D.C., on Sunday, May 5, a black female police officer attempted to arrest a Hispanic man who was drinking and unruly on a street in the Mount Pleasant area, heavily populated by recent Central American immigrants. The man drew a knife and advanced, the officer reported, whereupon she shot and severely wounded him. The rumor spread that he was dead, shot while handcuffed. A flashfire of violence erupted as hundreds of youths set fire to police cars, smashed windows, and looted. Washington's new mayor, Sharon Pratt Dixon, at first ordered police to disperse crowds but make no arrests. The second night, running gangs of youths fought a thousand policemen, burning and looting as they spread out. Mayor Dixon then declared a curfew and ordered arrests, whereupon the violence subsided. Police made 230 arrests in three days.

City officials said no more than six hundred youths were involved and claimed a great triumph since no one died, in contrast to the 1968 riots, in which 13 people died. But merchants and residents in the area bitterly criticized the initial police inaction.

Mayor Dixon's no-arrest order precisely replicated the initial blunders of 1968. If other mayors and police chiefs follow her example, the nation will be in for a "long hot summer" indeed. For the lesson of history is plain: In riot situations, the earlier the police make arrests, and the more arrests they make, the lower will be the toll in life, limb, and property. And the cop on the street will not act decisively unless he feels he has the support of his superiors ? principally his chief and mayor.

The social phenomenon is well documented, but the books lie on library shelves, dusted off only once a generation or so by mayoral or presidential commissions. We need only look at Atlanta in 1905; East St. Louis in 1917; Charleston, Chicago, Washington, Boston, and Knoxville in 1919; Harlem in 1935; Detroit in 1943; and Harlem to Watts to Washington and nearly everywhere else in 1964-68.

Moral Holiday
In a nutshell: Riots begin when some set of social forces temporarily overwhelms or paralyzes the police, who stand by, their highly visible inaction signaling to the small percentage of teenaged embryonic psychopaths and hardened young adults that a moral holiday is under way. This criminal minority spearheads the car-burning, window-smashing, and blood-letting, mobbing such hate targets as blacks, or white merchants, or lone cops. Then the drawing effect brings out the large crowds of older men, and women and children, to share the Roman carnival of looting. Then the major killing begins: slow runners caught in burning buildings and-as civic forces mobilize-in police and National Guard gunfire.

The books are on the shelf- let the responsible authorities in city hall and police headquarters check them out.

The time to halt a riot is right at the start, by pinching off the criminal spearhead with precise and overwhelming force. The cops will usually be caught flat-footed (no pun intended) by the initial outbreak. But they need to spring into a pre-arranged mobilization that should always be as ready in every major city as the fire-department or hospital disaster-response program.

While Detroit Burned
In the worst urban riots of the 1960s ? Watts, Newark, Detroit, and Washington ? the police did nothing or next to it for the first several hours. Deaths and property destruction soared. Contrast what happened in Toledo 36 hours after Detroit's outburst.

There, five hundred young men began breaking windows along a six-block stretch. The fourth police cruiser arriving radioed: "Do you want us to observe?" That such a question should even have been asked was damning proof that Americans had let years of extreme court rulings and hysterical "police brutality" propaganda paralyze our last line of defense against criminal anarchy.

Yet in Toledo the answer snapped back steely and clear. Police Chief Tony Bosh happened to be monitoring the radio and he barked: Arrest every lawbreaker you can ? and meet illegal force with legal force!"

Just as quickly, Toledo's mayor requested and Ohio Governor James Rhodes called in five hundred National Guardsmen to stand behind police in reserve, with well-publicized orders to kill if necessary to maintain order. They were never needed. Toledo's police arrested 22 people (nine for possessing firebombs) in the first three hours. That was almost triple the number Detroit and Newark police arrested in the same period.

Chief Bosh laid out for a Senate committee the criminal records, "some as long as your arm," of the rioters jailed in his city's three-day eruption. Of the 126 adults a startling 105 had prior arrests, averaging six apiece. Every single one of the 22 young adults jailed in the first three hours had criminal records; they averaged only twenty years old and three prior arrests apiece. The twenty young men jailed on firebomb charges averaged four apiece.

The result of the quick arrest policy: Toledo's trouble hardly earned the name "riot." No one died ? not one person, looter, policeman, or innocent bystander. The will that Toledo's civil authorities displayed, like a heavy rain on a kindling forest fire, made the difference between "incident" and "insurrection." They withdrew the one essential ingredient for a major riot: implied official permission for criminals and rowdies to coalesce and rebel.

As Santayana said, those who do not study history are condemned to repeat it.

   
http://www.nationalreview.com/flashback/flashback200509011316.asp
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« Reply #117 on: September 04, 2005, 04:51:51 PM »

by Robert Tracinski

It has taken four long days for state and federal officials to figure out how to deal with the disaster in New Orleans. I can't blame them, because it has also taken me four long days to figure out what is going on there. The reason is that the events there make no sense if you think that we are confronting a natural disaster.

If this is just a natural disaster, the response for public officials is obvious: you bring in food, water, and doctors; you send transportation to evacuate refugees to temporary shelters; you send engineers to stop the flooding and rebuild the city's infrastructure. For journalists, natural disasters also have a familiar pattern: the heroism of ordinary people pulling together to survive; the hard work and dedication of doctors, nurses, and rescue workers; the steps being taken to clean up and rebuild.

Public officials did not expect that the first thing they would have to do is to send thousands of armed troops in armored vehicle, as if they are suppressing an enemy insurgency. And journalists--myself included--did not expect that the story would not be about rain, wind, and flooding, but about rape, murder, and looting.

But this is not a natural disaster. It is a man-made disaster.

The man-made disaster is not an inadequate or incompetent response by federal relief agencies, and it was not directly caused by Hurricane Katrina. This is where just about every newspaper and television channel has gotten the story wrong.

The man-made disaster we are now witnessing in New Orleans did not happen over the past four days. It happened over the past four decades. Hurricane Katrina merely exposed it to public view.

The man-made disaster is the welfare state.

For the past few days, I have found the news from New Orleans to be confusing. People were not behaving as you would expect them to behave in an emergency--indeed, they were not behaving as they have behaved in other emergencies. That is what has shocked so many people: they have been saying that this is not what we expect from America. In fact, it is not even what we expect from a Third World country.

When confronted with a disaster, people usually rise to the occasion. They work together to rescue people in danger, and they spontaneously organize to keep order and solve problems. This is especially true in America. We are an enterprising people, used to relying on our own initiative rather than waiting around for the government to take care of us. I have seen this a hundred times, in small examples (a small town whose main traffic light had gone out, causing ordinary citizens to get out of their cars and serve as impromptu traffic cops, directing cars through the intersection) and large ones (the spontaneous response of New Yorkers to September 11).

So what explains the chaos in New Orleans?

To give you an idea of the magnitude of what is going on, here is a description from a Washington Times story:

"Storm victims are raped and beaten; fights erupt with flying fists, knives and guns; fires are breaking out; corpses litter the streets; and police and rescue helicopters are repeatedly fired on.

"The plea from Mayor C. Ray Nagin came even as National Guardsmen poured in to restore order and stop the looting, carjackings and gunfire....

"Last night, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said 300 Iraq-hardened Arkansas National Guard members were inside New Orleans with shoot-to-kill orders.

" 'These troops are...under my orders to restore order in the streets,' she said. 'They have M-16s, and they are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill and they are more than willing to do so if necessary and I expect they will.' "

The reference to Iraq is eerie. The photo that accompanies this article shows National Guard troops, with rifles and armored vests, riding on an armored vehicle through trash-strewn streets lined by a rabble of squalid, listless people, one of whom appears to be yelling at them. It looks exactly like a scene from Sadr City in Baghdad.

What explains bands of thugs using a natural disaster as an excuse for an orgy of looting, armed robbery, and rape? What causes unruly mobs to storm the very buses that have arrived to evacuate them, causing the drivers to drive away, frightened for their lives? What causes people to attack the doctors trying to treat patients at the Super Dome?

Why are people responding to natural destruction by causing further destruction? Why are they attacking the people who are trying to help them?

My wife, Sherri, figured it out first, and she figured it out on a sense-of-life level. While watching the coverage last night on Fox News Channel, she told me that she was getting a familiar feeling. She studied architecture at the Illinois Institute of Chicago, which is located in the South Side of Chicago just blocks away from the Robert Taylor Homes, one of the largest high-rise public housing projects in America. "The projects," as they were known, were infamous for uncontrollable crime and irremediable squalor. (They have since, mercifully, been demolished.)

What Sherri was getting from last night's television coverage was a whiff of the sense of life of "the projects." Then the "crawl"--the informational phrases flashed at the bottom of the screen on most news channels--gave some vital statistics to confirm this sense: 75% of the residents of New Orleans had already evacuated before the hurricane, and of the 300,000 or so who remained, a large number were from the city's public housing projects. Jack Wakeland then gave me an additional, crucial fact: early reports from CNN and Fox indicated that the city had no plan for evacuating all of the prisoners in the city's jails--so they just let many of them loose. There is no doubt a significant overlap between these two populations--that is, a large number of people in the jails used to live in the housing projects, and vice versa.

There were many decent, innocent people trapped in New Orleans when the deluge hit--but they were trapped alongside large numbers of people from two groups: criminals--and wards of the welfare state, people selected, over decades, for their lack of initiative and self-induced helplessness. The welfare wards were a mass of sheep--on whom the incompetent administration of New Orleans unleashed a pack of wolves.

All of this is related, incidentally, to the apparent incompetence of the city government, which failed to plan for a total evacuation of the city, despite the knowledge that this might be necessary. But in a city corrupted by the welfare state, the job of city officials is to ensure the flow of handouts to welfare recipients and patronage to political supporters--not to ensure a lawful, orderly evacuation in case of emergency.

No one has really reported this story, as far as I can tell. In fact, some are already actively distorting it, blaming President Bush, for example, for failing to personally ensure that the Mayor of New Orleans had drafted an adequate evacuation plan. The worst example is an execrable piece from the Toronto Globe and Mail, by a supercilious Canadian who blames the chaos on American "individualism." But the truth is precisely the opposite: the chaos was caused by a system that was the exact opposite of individualism.

What Hurricane Katrina exposed was the psychological consequences of the welfare state. What we consider "normal" behavior in an emergency is behavior that is normal for people who have values and take the responsibility to pursue and protect them. People with values respond to a disaster by fighting against it and doing whatever it takes to overcome the difficulties they face. They don't sit around and complain that the government hasn't taken care of them. They don't use the chaos of a disaster as an opportunity to prey on their fellow men.

But what about criminals and welfare parasites? Do they worry about saving their houses and property? They don't, because they don't own anything. Do they worry about what is going to happen to their businesses or how they are going to make a living? They never worried about those things before. Do they worry about crime and looting? But living off of stolen wealth is a way of life for them.

The welfare state--and the brutish, uncivilized mentality it sustains and encourages--is the man-made disaster that explains the moral ugliness that has swamped New Orleans. And that is the story that no one is reporting.

Source: TIA Daily -- September 2, 2005
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« Reply #118 on: September 05, 2005, 12:45:35 AM »

Get Off His Back (Updated)
By Ben Stein
Published 9/2/2005 11:59:59 PM

A few truths, for those who have ears and eyes and care to know the truth:

1.) The hurricane that hit New Orleans and Mississippi and Alabama was an astonishing tragedy. The suffering and loss of life and peace of mind of the residents of those areas is acutely horrifying.

2.) George Bush did not cause the hurricane. Hurricanes have been happening for eons. George Bush did not create them or unleash this one.

3.) George Bush did not make this one worse than others. There have been far worse hurricanes than this before George Bush was born.

4.) There is no overwhelming evidence that global warming exists as a man-made phenomenon. There is no clear-cut evidence that global warming even exists. There is no clear evidence that if it does exist it makes hurricanes more powerful or makes them aim at cities with large numbers of poor people. If global warming is a real phenomenon, which it may well be, it started long before George Bush was inaugurated, and would not have been affected at all by the Kyoto treaty, considering that Kyoto does not cover the world's worst polluters -- China, India, and Brazil. In a word, George Bush had zero to do with causing this hurricane. To speculate otherwise is belief in sorcery.

5.) George Bush had nothing to do with the hurricane contingency plans for New Orleans. Those are drawn up by New Orleans and Louisiana. In any event, the plans were perfectly good: mandatory evacuation. It is in no way at all George Bush's fault that about 20 percent of New Orleans neglected to follow the plan. It is not his fault that many persons in New Orleans were too confused to realize how dangerous the hurricane would be. They were certainly warned. It's not George Bush's fault that there were sick people and old people and people without cars in New Orleans. His job description does not include making sure every adult in America has a car, is in good health, has good sense, and is mobile.

6.) George Bush did not cause gangsters to shoot at rescue helicopters taking people from rooftops, did not make gang bangers rape young girls in the Superdome, did not make looters steal hundreds of weapons, in short make New Orleans into a living hell.

7.) George Bush is the least racist President in mind and soul there has ever been and this is shown in his appointments over and over. To say otherwise is scandalously untrue.

8.) George Bush is rushing every bit of help he can to New Orleans and Mississippi and Alabama as soon as he can. He is not a magician. It takes time to organize huge convoys of food and now they are starting to arrive. That they get in at all considering the lawlessness of the city is a miracle of bravery and organization.

9.) There is not the slightest evidence at all that the war in Iraq has diminished the response of the government to the emergency. To say otherwise is pure slander.

10.) If the energy the news media puts into blaming Bush for an Act of God worsened by stupendous incompetence by the New Orleans city authorities and the malevolence of the criminals of the city were directed to helping the morale of the nation, we would all be a lot better off.

11.) New Orleans is a great city with many great people. It will recover and be greater than ever. Sticking pins into an effigy of George Bush that does not resemble him in the slightest will not speed the process by one day.

12.) The entire episode is a dramatic lesson in the breathtaking callousness of government officials at the ground level. Imagine if Hillary Clinton had gotten her way and they were in charge of your health care.

God bless all of those dear people who are suffering so much, and God bless those helping them, starting with George Bush.

**** UPDATE: Sunday, Sept. 4, 2005, 2:13 p.m.:

More Mysteries of Katrina:

Why is it that the snipers who shot at emergency rescuers trying to save people in hospitals and shelters are never mentioned except in passing, and Mr. Bush, who is turning over heaven and earth to rescue the victims of the storm, is endlessly vilified?

What church does Rev. Al Sharpton belong to that believes in passing blame and singling out people by race for opprobrium and hate?

What special abilities does the media have for deciding how much blame goes to the federal government as opposed to the city government of New Orleans for the aftereffects of Katrina?

If able-bodied people refuse to obey a mandatory evacuation order for a city, have they not assumed the risk that ill effects will happen to them?

When the city government simply ignores its own sick and hospitalized and elderly people in its evacuation order, is Mr. Bush to blame for that?

Is there any problem in the world that is not Mr. Bush's fault, or have we reverted to a belief in a sort of witchcraft where we credit a mortal man with the ability to create terrifying storms and every other kind of ill wind?

Where did the idea come from that salvation comes from hatred and criticism and mockery instead of love and co-operation?

http://www.americanprowler.com/dsp_article.asp?art_id=8693
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SB_Mig
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« Reply #119 on: September 07, 2005, 03:32:50 PM »

An Imperfect Storm
How race shaped Bush's response to Katrina.
By Jacob Weisberg
Posted Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2005, at 12:59 PM PT


With the exception of Secretary of State Condi Rice, nearly every black person I've seen quoted in the press or on television?and most every white liberal?believes that African-Americans suffered disproportionately from government neglect in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Those being pulled from waist-deep corpse water sometimes put the case much more bluntly.

But what is the evidence that race itself?as opposed to such determinants as poverty, bad luck, geography, bureaucratic incompetence, and daunting logistics?deepened the misery of African-Americans in New Orleans? In that city, as in many others, blacks as a group were more prey to harm of many sorts because of the historic legacy of slavery, segregation, and discrimination. But those who, like me, think race was a factor in other ways as well ought to be able to give some account of how racial bias made the catastrophe worse.

At the heart of the matter is the racial pattern of American constituency politics. I don't think Kanye West can support his view that George W. Bush just doesn't care about black people. But it's a demonstrable matter of fact that Bush doesn't care much about black votes. And that, in the end, may amount to the same thing.

Blacks as a group have voted Democratic since the 1930s. The GOP has not courted them in any real way since the 1960s, focusing instead on attracting white constituencies hostile to civil rights and African-Americans in general. Even many conservatives now accept blame for this ugly, recent history. In July, Ken Mehlman, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, apologized (http://www.gop.com/News/Read.aspx?ID=5631) to the NAACP for those in his party he said had been "looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization."

Yet the underlying racial dynamic of party politics hasn't changed at all under Mehlman's boss. Though he appointed the first and the second African-American secretaries of state, Bush seldom (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/14/AR2005071401728.html) appears before black audiences. Beyond his interest in education, he has little to say about issues of social and urban policy. Bush has never articulated an approach, other than faith-based platitudes and tax cuts, to bettering the lives of African-Americans. And indeed, has not bettered them. The percentage of blacks living in poverty (http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/histpov/hstpov2.html), which diminished from 33 percent to less than 23 percent during the Clinton years, has been rising again under Bush. In 2000, Bush got 8 percent of the black vote. In 2004, he got 11 percent. Because African-Americans constitute only 12 percent of the population, it's possible for Republicans to neglect them and still win elections. Indeed, as Mehlman indicated, neglecting them has often helped Republicans win.

Because they don't see blacks as a current or potential constituency, Bush and his fellow Republicans do not respond out of the instinct of self-interest when dealing with their concerns. Helping low-income blacks is a matter of charity to them, not necessity. The condescension in their attitude intensifies when it comes to New Orleans, which is 67 percent black and largely irrelevant to GOP political ambitions. Cities with large African-American population that happen to be in important swing states may command some of Karl Rove's respect as election time approaches. But Louisiana is small (9 electoral votes) and not much of a swinger these days. In 2004, Bush carried it by a 57-42 margin. If Bush and Rove didn't experience the spontaneous political reflex to help New Orleans, it may be because they don't think of New Orleans as a place that helps them.

Considered in this light, the actions and inactions now being picked apart are readily explicable. The president drastically reduced budget requests from the Army Corps of Engineers to strengthen the levees around New Orleans because there was no effective pressure on him to agree. When the levees broke on Tuesday, Aug. 30, no urge from the political gut overrode his natural instinct to spend another day vacationing at his ranch. When Bush finally got himself to the Gulf Coast three days later, he did his hugging in Biloxi, Miss., which is 71 percent white, with a mayor, governor, and two senators who are all Republicans. Bush's memorable comments (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/03/national/nationalspecial/03assess.html) were about rebuilding Sen. Trent Lott's porch and about how he used to enjoy getting hammered (http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/national/AP-Bush-Struggling-with-Katrina.html) in New Orleans. Only when a firestorm of criticism and political damage broke out over the federal government's callousness did Bush open his eyes to black suffering.

Had the residents of New Orleans been white Republicans in a state that mattered politically, instead of poor blacks in city that didn't, Bush's response surely would have been different. Compare what happened when hurricanes Charley and Frances hit Florida in 2004. Though the damage from those storms was negligible in relation to Katrina's, the reaction from the White House (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/09/20040906-1.html)was instinctive, rapid, and generous to the point of profligacy (http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/sfl-femacoverage,0,6697347.storygallery?coll=sfla-news-utility). Bush visited hurricane victims four times in six weeks and delivered relief checks personally. Michael Brown of FEMA, now widely regarded as an incompetent political hack, was so responsive that local officials praised the agency's performance (http://www.sptimes.com/2004/08/17/Weather/Unlike_Andrew__aid_s_.shtml).

The kind of constituency politics that results in a big life-preserver for whites in Florida and a tiny one for blacks in Louisiana may not be racist by design or intent. But the inevitable result is clear racial discrimination. It won't change when Republicans care more about blacks. It will change when they have more reason to care.


Jacob Weisberg is editor of Slate and co-author, with Robert E. Rubin, of In an Uncertain World.
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buzwardo
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« Reply #120 on: September 07, 2005, 04:33:30 PM »

Though the usual suspects are beating the racial gong, a look at the numbers suggests the the equation is a lot more complex than the race baiters would have it. I'd argue underwriting failure with tax dollars had a lot more to do with the pathologies emerging in New Orleans than any putative racist policy. The following underlines those points.



September 07, 2005, 8:29 a.m.
A Fuller Picture
Beginning to understand what we are seeing in New Orleans.
Michael Novak


There has been something askew in the reporting from New Orleans. It has bothered me for a week now. Finally, when I took a look at the 2000 census data on New Orleans, a lot became clearer.

According to the Census, the population of New Orleans in 2000 was 485,000 of whom 326,000 were black, 136,000 white, and the remaining ten thousand or so each, Asian or Hispanic.

If 75-80 percent of the population evacuated the city safely before the storm hit, as everybody is reporting, that means that far more than half the black population escaped safely before the storm slammed into the city. Even if all those who did not evacuate were black ? and that is manifestly not true ? 25 percent of the total population is only 121,000. Twenty percent is 96,000. By far the majority of blacks in New Orleans, who numbered as the storm began some 326,000, evacuated in advance.

Even they lost much, maybe everything, but at least they were not caught in the roiling water.

Secondly, I have heard ever since reading about Huey Long of the 1930s that Louisiana is one of the most corrupt and dependency-prone states in the Union. Of all the cities in the south, New Orleans seems the one most welfare-oriented, least entrepreneurial, most state-dependent, and least economically dynamic. More than any other southern city, it is "Old South" rather than "New South." That, of course, is part of its charm. It refuses the modern bustle, says "Slow down, Be easy." It lulls. Its charm seduces. And it is also the prototypical, old-time welfare-state city.

The Census report shows what that means in vivid detail. In 2000, there were only 25,000 two-parent families in New Orleans with children under 18. By contrast, there were more than 26,000 female householders with children under 18, and no husband present. In other words, slightly more mothers all alone with children than married-couple mothers.

In addition, there were more than 18,000 householders who were more than 65 years old and living alone. Of these, most would normally be female.

If you add together the 26,000 female householders with children under 18, no husband present, and the 18,000 householders more than 65 years old and living alone, that is an estimated 40,000 female-headed households. That explains the pictures we are seeing on television, which are overwhelming female, most often with young children. The chances of persons in this demographic being employed full-time, year round, and with a good income, are not high. The chances of them living in poverty, and without an automobile, are exceedingly high.

In the future, city planners should carefully count in advance the numbers of persons who fall in this demographic when they formulate evacuation plans. Female householders all by themselves with children or over 65 are statistically likely to be severely disadvantaged in thinking about options for the future, disadvantaged in not having the means to determine their own destiny, and disadvantaged with respect to the habits of mind that accustom them to taking charge of their own future. Special provision will need to be made for helping them. They are likely to be accustomed to being taken care of by the state.

The younger mothers among them have been abandoned by those they should have been able to count on, the males in their lives. The over-65s (in urban areas) are likely to be totally dependent on Social Security and other government benefits, without private pensions or homeownership of their own. In emergencies, such persons need someone else to take care of them. It is wrong to throw them, at this point, solely on their own resources. Some will be able to manage that, but by no means all.

Is this not what our eyes are showing us among those who failed to evacuate in time? To be sure, thousands of those taking refuge are men, and some are married couples, and some are white, Hispanic, or Asian. More research could show that my own hypotheses ? and even visual observations ? are wrong. But the Census data helps explain to me what my eyes are seeing.

Another question that bothers me: I would also really like to know what happened to the better-off blacks and whites of New Orleans, who escaped before the storm hit. How many have lost their homes? How many have loved ones still unaccounted for?

What are things now like in those lovely suburbs around New Orleans?

It is not only those who did not evacuate in time that seem to have suffered horribly. I would love to see more reporting about the middle class ? and sympathy for them, too. They are Katrina's victims, too.

Is it possible that many of them will not receive the insurance payments they are counting on, in order to get their lives started up again at a level not too far below where they were before the storm hit? Have they taken a permanent hit? How will many cope with that?

The poor may suffer worst of all, but they are not the only ones to taste bitter ashes in times of calamity, and to find their souls tested. Those of the middle class who worked hard (maybe even worked their way out of poverty), played by the rules, and set aside some resources for times of trouble, also deserve our help. Especially just at that exact moment when everything they made so many sacrifices to attain has been taken from them.

It was just then that Job was tried. So might we all be.

? Michael Novak is the winner of the 1994 Templeton Prize for progress in religion and the George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy at the American Enterprise Institute. Novak's own website is www.michaelnovak.net.

   
http://www.nationalreview.com/novak/novak200509070829.as
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« Reply #121 on: September 07, 2005, 05:46:28 PM »

Excellent article.

I heard an economist on the radio the other day saying that while in terms of human cost Katrina was a catastrope, most people don't realize what an economic disaster the storm caused. He pointed out that in looking at New Orleans' general population:

Middle class victims will become lower middle/lower class

Lower class will become working poor (if they can find jobs)

Working poor will likely become homeless/destitute

Not to mention the burden put on the states taking in refugees.

We're all in for a long haul...
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« Reply #122 on: September 09, 2005, 11:23:51 AM »

http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110007229

Oil for Food as Usual
The U.N.'s worst critics couldn't invent what the Volcker report shows.

Friday, September 9, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

"The scandal, quote, unquote, is, in my view, nonsense." Thus did Denis Halliday, a former United Nations Assistant Secretary General, opine in November 2004 on the U.N.'s Oil for Food program. With the release Wednesday of Paul Volcker's fourth report on Oil for Food, we have the clearest account yet of what this quote-unquote scandal is really about.

Let's begin with what this scandal is not about, at least not fundamentally. It is not about the dubious business practices of the Swiss Inspections company Cotecna, which was improperly awarded a multimillion-dollar Oil for Food contract while employing Secretary-General Kofi Annan's son Kojo, although this taught us something about the nepotism that typifies U.N. dealings. Nor is it about Kofi Annan's personal probity, which had been called into question by evidence that he was aware of, and tried to influence, the Cotecna bid. Mr. Volcker has found no conclusive proof on this score.

In other words, Oil for Food is not about some isolated incidents of perceived or actual wrongdoing during the course of a seven-year effort to maintain sanctions on Iraq, monitor its oil flows and feed its people. Oil for Food is a story about what the U.N. is. And our conclusion from reading the 847-page report is that the U.N. is Oil for Food.

To better understand the scandal, it helps to distinguish its political and managerial components. Responsibility for administering the program fell primarily to the U.N. Secretariat, which established the Office of Iraq Program (OIP) under the direction of Benon Sevan.

But the program itself was designed by members of the U.N. Security Council following protracted negotiations with the government of Saddam Hussein. It was the Security Council, for example, that approved Saddam's right to choose the companies, contractors and middlemen with whom Iraq would do business, and through which the entire program was corrupted. The Security Council also ran its own supervisory "661 Committee," named after the 1990 Security Council resolution that imposed sanctions on Iraq following its invasion of Kuwait.

The result of this bifurcated structure was that real responsibility for overseeing Oil for Food fell between two stools--and into the lap of Mr. Sevan and his staff. Mr. Volcker's previous reports tell us that Mr. Sevan was in the pay of the Iraqi government.

The current report adds to our knowledge of what the Iraqis got for their money. For example, Mr. Sevan and his staff failed to inform the Secretariat and the 661 Committee of the extent of Iraq's various kickback schemes--involving as many as 2,500 companies--and dismissed media reports about them as "groundless allegations, provocative suggestions and factual mistakes." Mr. Sevan also fought tooth-and-nail the Bush Administration's successful attempt to impose retroactive pricing standards on the sale of Iraqi oil, which helped curb some of Saddam's abuses.

However, part of the reason Mr. Sevan was able to get away with his malfeasance was that neither the Secretariat nor the 661 Committee showed any appetite to exercise their fiduciary obligations. Mr. Annan testified to the Committee that Mr. Sevan worked directly for the 661 Committee. Yet as the report acidly notes, "the difficulty with the Secretary-General's view is that he appointed Mr. Sevan and he created OIP in the first place." Maybe former Enron CEO Kenneth Lay should call Mr. Annan to testify as an expert witness at his trial.

This is an excerpt from the latest report of Paul Volcker's Independent Inquiry Committee on the United Nations' Oil for Food program. Benon Sevan, the former director of the Office of Iraq Program (OIP) that oversaw Oil for Food, has been accused by the Committee of taking nearly $150,000 in bribes from Iraq. "The 38th Floor" refers to Secretary General Kofi Annan's offices at U.N. headquarters. The "661 Committee" was a U.N. Security Council body, outside of Mr. Annan's Secretariat, which helped oversee the Oil for Food program.

"When interviewed by the Committee, the Secretary General, the Deputy Secretary-General [Louise Frechette] and [Chief of Staff Iqbal] Riza each struggled to rationalize the role of the 38th Floor in overseeing OIP. Instead, they offered conflicting views of their own responsibilities as well the functions of Mr. Sevan vis-a-vis the program. These inconsistencies demonstrate a basic confusion within the highest offices of the Secretariat. . . .

"When interviewed by the Committee, the Secretary General insisted that the program was "a very transparent operation"-"one of the most transparent programs [he has] seen" in terms of the process it required for reports to be made by the Secretariat to the Security Council. However, significant information was routinely withheld from the 661 Committee. Despite mounting evidence of a widespread kickback scheme, the Secretary General's quarterly reports never mentioned the emerging problem. . . .

"To be sure, the Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General were apparently not aware of the full scope of evidence that OIP had accumulated and, clearly, Mr. Sevan bears responsibility for withholding information. . . . But the Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General (and Mr. Riza) were aware of the kickback scheme at least as early as February 2001. The Secretary General discussed the kickback allegations and other sanctions violations with Mr. Sevan on numerous occasions. . . .

"In the final analysis, Mr. Sevan ran a $100 billion program with very little oversight from the supervisory authority that created his position and OIP. Through a combination of an unclear reporting structure, a lack of supervision by the 38th Floor, and a general unwillingness to recognize and address significant issues on the part of the Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Sevan had substantial autonomy to shape the program's direction. He failed to resist and challenge the Iraqi regime's rampant sanctions violations through which the regime diverted billions of dollars away from the humanitarian effort."
Mr. Annan is also on record telling the Committee he viewed Oil for Food as "a very transparent operation." Yet as the report shows, Mr. Annan was himself complicit in covering up Iraqi violations of the sanctions regime. Specifically, Mr. Annan was aware of the kickback issue from at least February 2001, yet "the Secretary General's quarterly reports never mentioned the emerging problem." (See the report excerpt nearby.)

Why Mr. Annan chose to see no evil on Iraqi sanctions violations, much less use his bully pulpit to denounce it (as he later denounced the Iraq war as "illegal"), is an interesting question. Our sense is that the U.N. Secretariat as a whole took the view that the sanctions regime was immoral and that Saddam was within his rights to break free of it.

Whatever the case, the Secretariat had a more than willing partner in the 661 Committee, and for reasons that are more easily comprehended. Iraq regularly steered contracts to Security Council members it believed were friendly to its political interests. Russian companies, for instance, did $19 billion in oil deals with Iraq, and French companies sold Saddam $3 billion in humanitarian assistance (much of which, the report notes, was diverted for Iraqi military purposes).

It's no coincidence, comrade, that France and Russia, as well as China (which did its own thriving business with Saddam) consistently downplayed the kickback allegations and pushed to have the sanctions regime eased. Only the U.S. and Britain made any effort to monitor Oil for Food for fraud, although even these efforts were lackluster until the Bush Administration came to office. We should also note the U.S. was itself guilty of looking the other way when it came to Iraq's oil smuggling through allies Jordan and Turkey.

So it was that the largest fraud ever recorded in history came about. Press reports often cite the overall size of Oil for Food at $60 billion, but Mr. Volcker's report makes clear that the real figure was in excess of $100 billion. From this, Saddam was able to derive $10.2 billion from illicit transactions. But the important point is that he was able to steer 10 times that sum toward his preferred clients in the service of his political aims.

None of this happened by accident. Mr. Volcker's report is replete with examples of incompetent U.N. oversight and tales of political wrangling among the permanent members of the Security Council. But the abiding fact is that it was the Western powers, not Saddam, who wanted Oil for Food at virtually any cost, because it offered the appearance of a meaningful policy in the absence of a real one, namely regime change. And it was the political convenience of this chimera that led the U.S. and the U.K. to tolerate, and the rest of the Security Council to feast on, the opportunities for corruption that were inscribed in the very nature of the program.

As for the U.N., it proved its worth to Saddam as the one hall of mirrors in which such shenanigans could take place. Yet even now we are told that "at least" Oil for Food fed the Iraqi people when they were on the edge of starvation, and this is accounted a U.N. success. That is false. Oil for Food offered a lifeline of cash and influence to a regime that was starving its people. The program did not corrupt the U.N. so much as exploit its essential nature. Now Mr. Annan wants to use this report as an endorsement of his "reform" proposals. Only at the U.N. could he dare to think he could get away with this.
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SB_Mig
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« Reply #123 on: September 09, 2005, 01:15:05 PM »

rolleyes

1. Bush: "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees"

On the September 1 broadcast of ABC's Good Morning America, President Bush told host Diane Sawyer, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees" that protected New Orleans from flooding. Sawyer did not challenge Bush's claim, despite numerous, repeated warnings by government officials, experts, and the media that a major hurricane could cause levee breaches resulting in catastrophic flooding. A September 2 New York Times front page article repeated Bush's false claim without challenge -- even though a Times editorial (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/02/opinion/02fri1.html) the same day declared, "Disaster planners were well aware that New Orleans could be flooded by the combined effects of a hurricane and broken levees."

A September 5 CNN.com article (http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/09/03/katrina.chertoff/) reported that Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff falsely told reporters that "planners" did not predict a breach of the levees that would flood the city. As CNN.com reported, Chertoff said, "That 'perfect storm' of a combination of catastrophes exceeded the foresight of the planners, and maybe anybody's foresight." But unlike the Times, CNN.com noted that "officials have warned for years that a Category 4 [hurricane] could cause the levees to fail." The CNN.com article added that in an August 31 interview (http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0508/31/lkl.01.html) on CNN's Larry King Live, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director Michael Brown said, "That Category 4 hurricane caused the same kind of damage that we anticipated. So we planned for it two years ago. Last year, we exercised it. And unfortunately this year, we're implementing it." But in the same Larry King Live interview, Brown responded to complaints that rescue efforts were not moving quickly enough by insisting, "And I must say this storm is much, much bigger than anyone expected."

Additionally, as journalist Joshua Micah Marshall noted (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2005_09_04.php#006437) in his Talking Points Memo weblog, National Hurricane Center director Max Mayfield "talked about the force of Katrina during a video conference call?http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/08/images/20050828-1_p082805pm-0101-515h.html) to President Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas" on August 28 [St. Petersburg Times, 8/30/05 (http://www.sptimes.com/2005/08/30/State/For_forecasting_chief.shtml)]. The Washington Post quoted Mayfield (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/05/AR2005090501590_pf.html) on September 6: "They knew that this one was different. ... I don't think Mike Brown or anyone else in FEMA could have any reason to have any problem with our calls. ... They were told ... We said the levees could be topped."

2. Chertoff strained credulity in defense of Bush, claimed levee breaks and massive flooding came as a surprise -- more than 12 hours after local media reported them

On September 4, Chertoff appeared (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9179790/) on NBC's Meet the Press and attempted to explain Bush's discredited claim (http://mediamatters.org/items/itembody/200509020001) that "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." After host Tim Russert asked Chertoff how the president could "be so wrong, be so misinformed," Chertoff suggested that Bush had been referring to newspaper reports the morning after the storm that New Orleans had "dodged a bullet" because the eye of the storm had passed to the east of the city. But more than 12 hours before the appearance of those headlines in print, a post on the weblog of the New Orleans Times-Picayune -- dated August 29, 2 p.m. CT -- reported, "City Hall confirmed a breach of the levee along the 17th Street Canal at Bellaire Drive, allowing water to spill into Lakeview." This initial report on the Times-Picayune weblog was followed (http://www.nola.com/newslogs/breakingtp/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_Times-Picayune/archives/2005_08.html#074923) throughout the afternoon and evening of August 29 by reports of other levee breaks and massive flooding.

While Chertoff said he recognized that the city's levee system failed sometime Monday night or Tuesday morning -- in fact, the first breaks occurred earlier, as noted above and as Think Progress noted in its detailed Hurricane Katrina timeline -- he insisted that "it was midday Tuesday that I became aware of the fact that there was no possibility of plugging the gap and that essentially the lake [Pontchartrain] was going to start to drain into the city." According to Chertoff, this "second catastrophe really caught everybody by surprise" and was a major reason for the delay in the government's emergency response.

Questioning Chertoff further, Russert pointed out that the Times-Picayune published a five-part series (http://www.nola.com/hurricane/?/washingaway/) in June 2002, in which it warned (http://www.nola.com/hurricane/index.ssf?/washingaway/thebigone_1.html) that if a large hurricane hit New Orleans, the city's levees would likely be topped or broken -- resulting in catastrophic flooding and thousands of deaths. Russert added that "last summer FEMA, who reports to you, and the LSU Hurricane Center, and local and state officials did a simulated Hurricane Pam in which the levees broke. ... Thousands drowned."

Chertoff then clarified, "What I said was not that we didn't anticipate that there's a possibility the levees will break. What I said was, in this storm, what happened is, the storm passed and passed without the levees breaking on Monday. Tuesday morning, I opened newspapers and saw headlines that said 'New Orleans Dodged the Bullet,' which surprised people. What surprised them was that the levee broke overnight and the next day and, in fact, collapsed. That was a surprise."

Even accepting as true Chertoff's incredible suggestion that he -- the secretary of Homeland Security -- and the president of the United States relied on the print media for their information on the situation in New Orleans, as Think Progress points out (http://thinkprogress.org/2005/09/07/rumsfeld-headlines/), had administration officials "bothered to read the full text of the three articles they found with favorable headlines, they would have realized that federal government help was needed immediately." Moreover, while Chertoff did not indicate which headlines (http://thinkprogress.org/2005/09/07/rumsfeld-headlines/) he was referring to, many newspapers -- in addition to the Times-Picayune -- did report on broken levees and significant flooding. For example, on August 30, the Los Angeles Times reported (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-hurricane30aug30,0,7918696.story) that a levee break had occurred by late morning August 29, with water from the break "spill[ing] through the area, flooding the town's two main shelters and swamping the local National Guard armory, leaving even public safety officials homeless."

Or Chertoff could have turned on the television. On the August 30 broadcast of NBC's Today, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams reported at 7:05 a.m. ET, "There has been a huge development overnight ... the historic French Quarter, dry last night and it is now filling with water. This is water from nearby Lake Pontchartrain; the levees failed overnight."

Indeed, Chertoff's and Bush's professed ignorance notwithstanding, the federal government was well aware of the continuing threat of the levees breaking. Just hours after the storm passed on Monday, August 29, FEMA director Brown confirmed that the potential for catastrophic flooding remained. In an interview with Brown, NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer noted, "In New Orleans, in particular, they're worried about the levees giving way or the canals not holding, and they're worried about toxic runoff." Brown responded that even though the storm had weakened, there was still a 15- to 20-foot storm surge causing "the water out of Lake Pontchartrain and the Gulf and the Mississippi continue to converge upon Louisiana." Brown added, "So we're still ready for a major disaster."

3. Brown: "We've provided food to the people at the Convention Center so that they've gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day"

On the September 2 broadcast of NBC's Today, FEMA director Brown told host Katie Couric, "We've provided food to the people at the [New Orleans' Morial] Convention Center so that they've gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day." Couric did not challenge this statement.

But on September 1, NBC News photojournalist Tony Zumbado reported (http://msnbc.msn.com/id/9160710/) on MSNBC Live:

ZUMBADO: I can't put it into words the amount of destruction that is in this city and how these people are coping. They are just left behind. There is nothing offered to them. No water, no ice, no C-rations, nothing, for the last four days. They were told to go to the convention center. They did, they've been behaving. It's unbelievable how organized they are, how supportive they are of each other. They have not started any melees, any riots. They just want food and support. And what I saw there I've never seen in this country. We need to really look at this situation at the convention center. It's getting very, very crazy in there and very dangerous. Somebody needs to come down with a lot of food and a lot of water.

4. Chertoff: "Apparently, some time on Wednesday, people started to go to the convention center spontaneously"

On the September 1 edition of CNN's Paula Zahn Now, Brown claimed, "Every person in that convention center, we just learned about that today [Thursday, September 1]." During a September 4 interview with Chertoff on CNN Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, host Blitzer replayed Brown's comments. In response, Chertoff said:

CHERTOFF: Well, I mean, this is clearly something that was disturbing. It was disturbing to me when I learned about it, which came as a surprise. You know, the very day that this emerged in the press, I was on a video conference with all the officials, including state and local officials. And nobody -- none of the state and local officials or anybody else -- was talking about a convention center. The original plan, as I understand it, was to have the Superdome be the place of refuge, of last resort. Apparently, some time on Wednesday, people started to go to the convention center spontaneously.

Chertoff's claim that hurricane survivors sought refuge in the convention center under their own initiative echoed his September 4 Meet the Press interview, in which he suggested, "We became aware of the fact at some point that people began to go to the convention center on their own, spontaneously, in order to shelter there." Chertoff's statements were false, but neither Blitzer nor Russert challenged them.

Though scenes of thousands of hurricane victims awaiting water, food, and buses at the convention center were not broadcast on television until Thursday, September 1, Chertoff and Brown would have had access to media reports about the convention center before then. As early as August 29, Times-Picayune staff writer Bruce Nolan wrote an article for the Newhouse News Service in which he reported, "City officials said they might open the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center as a temporary refuge to shelter an estimated 50,000 people made homeless by the storm." Nolan's article (http://www.nola.com/weblogs/print.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_Times-Picayune/archives/print075002.html) appeared in the Times-Picayune on August 30.

Beginning August 31, other reports of survivors at the convention center emerged:

Knight Ridder, August 31: "Derwin DeGruy had been kicked out of two hotels, the first on Sunday right before the storm hit, and the second one on Tuesday morning after it hit. He and about 50 other people found makeshift shelter on a ramp leading to the mall and parking garage at the New Orleans Convention Center. They rigged places for people to go to the bathroom, pooled their water for the babies, placed some blankets on the concrete and decided to wait and see what happened."

Associated Press, August 31: "The 37-year-old banker -- who admitted to looting some food from a nearby supermarket -- said the hotel guests were told they were being taken to a
convention center, but from there, they didn't know."

Associated Press, August 31: "After several hours, a small fleet of rented moving trucks showed up to take the people to the downtown convention center so they could be taken out of the city. Police herded people up metal ramps like cattle into the unrefrigerated boxes."
By September 1, when Brown claimed FEMA first learned about the situation at the convention center, TV networks were broadcasting footage of thousands of survivors waiting for water, food, and evacuation buses. Despite Chertoff's later insistence that New Orleans residents "spontaneously" converged on the convention center, the September 1 broadcast of ABC's Nightline included footage of a law enforcement official instructing survivors to go there:

SURVIVOR: Ain't nobody helping us.

LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL: I understand.

SURVIVOR: No, ain't nobody doing anything for us.

LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL: Y'all got to go to the convention center.

5. Chertoff pointed fingers: "New Orleans officials and the state officials ... called for the Superdome to be the refuge of last resort"

In his September 4 interview on NBC's Meet the Press, Chertoff attempted to place blame for the conditions at the Superdome solely with state and local officials. Chertoff asserted, "My understanding is, and again this is something that's going to go back -- we're going to go back over after the fact -- is the plan that the New Orleans officials and the state officials put together called for the Superdome to be the refuge of last resort."

But this claim is misleading at best. As The Washington Post reported on September 3 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/03/AR2005090301653_pf.html) , a FEMA official acknowledged participating in meetings in which the plan to use the Superdome as a shelter for thousands of evacuees was discussed:

Brown, the agency's director, told reporters Saturday in Louisiana that he did not have a sense of what was coming last weekend.

"I was here on Saturday and Sunday, it was my belief, I'm trying to think of a better word than typical -- that minimizes, any hurricane is bad -- but we had the standard hurricane coming in here, that we could move in immediately on Monday and start doing our kind of response-recovery effort," he said. "Then the levees broke, and the levees went, you've seen it by the television coverage. That hampered our ability, made it even more complex."

But other officials said they warned well before Monday about what could happen. For years, said another senior FEMA official, he had sat at meetings where plans were discussed to send evacuees to the Superdome. "We used to stare at each other and say, 'This is the plan? Are you really using the Superdome?' People used to say, what if there is water around it? They didn't have an alternative," he recalled.

Moreover, the plan to use the Superdome as a shelter for evacuees was widely known. The 2002 Times-Picayune series on the potential for a catastrophic hurricane reported (http://www.nola.com/hurricane/index.ssf?/washingaway/thebigone_1.html) that of the estimated 200,000 New Orleans residents who would likely remain in the city, "ome will be housed at the Superdome, the designated shelter in New Orleans for people too sick or infirm to leave the city."

6. Chertoff falsely minimized federal government's role in Katrina response as subordinate to states

The Bush administration has responded to criticism of its role in the Katrina disaster by attempting to deflect blame onto state and local officials in Louisiana [The New York Times, 9/5/05 (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/05/national/nationalspecial/05bush.html?ex=1283572800&en=6fea4620b7c96ac5&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss) ]. One way they are doing that is to claim that the federal government's role in a natural disaster of this magnitude is to provide support to state and local governments and work at their behest. Conservative media figures immediately fell into line, echoing the administration's claim that the federal government's role was subordinate. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security's December 2004 National Response Plan clearly indicates that in these situations, the federal government will pre-empt state and local efforts and provide immediate assistance to the affected area.

On September 1, two days after the levees were breached, Chertoff, at a press conference announcing the start of "National Preparedness Month 2005," characterized the federal role in response to Katrina as that of providing support to state and local officials: "The Department of Homeland Security will continue to work with federal, state and local partners to support efforts on the ground in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. We are working tirelessly to make sure that federal resources are being applied where they are needed all across the Gulf" [Federal News Service, 9/1/05]. But on September 2, Chertoff told reporters that the situation had changed and that federal agencies would now take over the primary role: "The fact of the matter is, this set of catastrophes has broken any mold for how you deal with this kind of weather devastation, and so we're going to break the mold in terms of how we respond. The federal government is not going to play merely its customary role in giving all necessary support to first responders. The federal government is going to step up and take a primary role, working with state and locals to deal with the outcome of this tragedy." [National Public Radio, 9/3/05]

But Chertoff's September 1 statement ignored the administration's own homeland security response plan, which directed the federal government to act on its own authority to quickly provide assistance and conduct emergency operations following a major catastrophe, pre-empting state and local authorities if necessary. According to DHS' December 2004 National Response Plan (NRP) (http://www.dhs.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/NRPbaseplan.pdf#page=61), "catastrophic events," such as what occurred in New Orleans, call for heightened and "proactive" federal involvement to manage the disaster. The response plan listed "guiding principles" to govern the response to these major events. The "Guiding Principles for Proactive Federal Response" (http://www.dhs.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/NRPbaseplan.pdf#page=61) make clear that, in these "catastrophic" cases, the federal government will operate independently to provide assistance, rather than simply supporting or cajoling state authorities:

The primary mission is to save lives; protect critical infrastructure, property, and the environment; contain the event; and preserve national security.
Standard procedures regarding requests for assistance may be expedited or, under extreme circumstances, suspended in the immediate aftermath of an event of catastrophic magnitude.

Identified Federal response resources will deploy and begin necessary operations as required to commence life-safety activities.

Notification and full coordination with States will occur, but the coordination process must not delay or impede the rapid deployment and use of critical resources. States are urged to notify and coordinate with local governments regarding a proactive Federal response.

State and local governments are encouraged to conduct collaborative planning with the Federal Government as a part of "steady-state" preparedness for catastrophic incidents."
The NRP also says that, when responding to a catastrophic incident, the federal government should start emergency operations even in the absence of clear assessment of the situation. "A detailed and credible common operating picture may not be achievable for 24 to 48 hours (or longer) after the incident," the NRP's "Catastrophic Annex" (http://www.dhs.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/NRP_FullText.pdf#page=359) states. "As a result, response activities must begin without the benefit of a detailed or complete situation and critical needs assessment."

A September 5 Los Angeles Times article quoted former FEMA chief of staff Jane Bullock saying that "[t]he moment the president declared a federal disaster [on Aug 29], it became a federal responsibility. ... The federal government took ownership over the response." Moreover, DHS' own website declares that DHS "will assume primary responsibility on March 1st [2005] for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation. This will entail providing a coordinated, comprehensive federal response to any large-scale crisis and mounting a swift and effective recovery effort."

7. Wash. Post, Newsweek, Gingrich falsely claimed that Blanco did not declare a state of emergency

In recent days, two news articles falsely reported that Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco had failed to declare a state of emergency, which had supposedly hampered the federal response. An article in the September 13 edition of Newsweek claimed that "Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco seemed uncertain and sluggish, hesitant to declare martial law or a state of emergency, which would have opened the door to more Pentagon help." Likewise, a September 4 Washington Post article incorrectly claimed that "As of Saturday [Sept. 3], Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency," citing an anonymous senior Bush administration official. (The Washington Post's article was later corrected, although Newsweek has yet to correct its article.) Fox News political analyst Newt Gingrich repeated the point on the September 5 O'Reilly Factor, saying, "As you [O'Reilly] point out, the governor [Blanco] failed to call the emergency. And initially, it was the governor who had to call an emergency." In fact, as the Post later noted, Blanco declared (http://gov.louisiana.gov/2005%20%20proclamations/48pro2005-Emergency-HurricaneKatrina.pdf) a state of emergency on August 26.

8. Gingrich falsely claimed that Nagin could "have kept water pumped out" of city had he ensured that pumps worked

On the September 5 O'Reilly Factor, Gingrich also claimed that if New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin had been able to keep the New Orleans pumps working, the flood waters could have been pumped out of the city. "[F]irst of all, the mayor of New Orleans had a real obligation to make sure the four pumps could work. Three of them didn't. It would have kept water pumped out." In fact, New Orleans has 22 "notoriously fickle" pumping stations, according to an August 31 New York Times article. The Times also reported that, according to Dr. Shea Penland, a coastal geologist, "When the pumping systems are in good shape, it can rain an inch an hour for about four to six hours and the pumps can keep pace. More than that, the city floods." The Times also noted that "[e]fforts to add backup power generators to keep [the pumps] all running during blackouts have been delayed by a lack of federal money." A June 2002 Times-Picayune article, part of a series exploring the probable consequences of a major hurricane hitting New Orleans, indicated that New Orleans' pumps would have been overwhelmed by the rapidly rising floodwaters:

Soon waves will start breaking over the levee.

"All of a sudden you'll start seeing flowing water. It'll look like a weir, water just pouring over the top," [Louisiana State University engineer Joseph] Suhayda said. The water will flood the lakefront, filling up low-lying areas first, and continue its march south toward the river. There would be no stopping or slowing it; pumping systems would be overwhelmed and submerged in a matter of hours.

"Another scenario is that some part of the levee would fail," Suhayda said. "It's not something that's expected. But erosion occurs, and as levees broke, the break will get wider and wider. The water will flow through the city and stop only when it reaches the next higher thing. The most continuous barrier is the south levee, along the river. That's 25 feet high, so you'll see the water pile up on the river levee."
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buzwardo
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« Reply #124 on: September 09, 2005, 04:36:07 PM »

As fun as it is to whup on Bush--accusing him of all manner of nefarious schemes when not naming him an utter dunce--my take is that there is plenty of blame to go around. Think Krauthhammer does an effective job of blame triage here, though I'd move his final point about the American people up a notch or two.

Assigning blame
Charles Krauthammer

September 9, 2005


WASHINGTON -- In less enlightened times, there was no catastrophe independent of human agency. When the plague or some other natural disaster struck, witches were burned, Jews were massacred and all felt better (except the witches and Jews).

     A few centuries later, our progressive thinkers have progressed not an inch. No fall of a sparrow on this planet is not attributed to sin and human perfidy. The three current favorites are: (1) global warming, (2) the war in Iraq and (3) tax cuts. Katrina hits and the unholy trinity is immediately invoked to damn sinner-in-chief George W. Bush.

     This kind of stupidity merits no attention whatsoever, but I'll give it a paragraph. There is no relationship between global warming and the frequency and intensity of Atlantic hurricanes. Period. The problem with the evacuation of New Orleans is not that National Guardsmen in Iraq could not get to New Orleans, but that National Guardsmen in Louisiana did not get to New Orleans. As for the Bush tax cuts, administration budget requests for New Orleans flood control during the five Bush years exceed that of the five preceding Clinton years. The notion that the allegedly missing revenues would have been spent wisely by Congress, targeted precisely to the levees of New Orleans, and reconstruction would have been completed in time, is a threefold fallacy. The argument ends when you realize that, as The Washington Post notes, ``the levees that failed were already completed projects."

     Let's be clear. The author of this calamity was, first and foremost, Nature (or if you prefer, Nature's God). The suffering was augmented, aided and abetted in descending order of culpability by the following:

     1. The mayor of New Orleans. He knows the city. He knows the danger. He knows that during Hurricane Georges in 1998, the use of the Superdome was a disaster and fully two-thirds of the residents never got out of the city. Nothing was done. He declared a mandatory evacuation only 24 hours before Hurricane Katrina hit. He did not even declare a voluntary evacuation until the day before that, at 5 p.m. At that time, he explained that he needed to study his legal authority to call a mandatory evacuation and was hesitating to do so lest the city be sued by hotels and other businesses.

     2. The Louisiana governor. It's her job to call up the National Guard and get it to where it has to go. Where the Guard was in the first few days is a mystery. Indeed, she issued an authorization for the National Guard to commandeer school buses to evacuate people on Wednesday afternoon -- more than two days after the hurricane hit and after much of the fleet had already drowned in its parking lots.

     3. The head of FEMA. Late, slow and in way over his head. On Thursday he says on national television that he didn't even know there were people in the Convention Center, when anybody watching television could see them there destitute and desperate. Maybe in his vast bureaucracy he can assign three 20-year-olds to watch cable news and give him updates every hour on what in hell is going on.

     4. The president. Late, slow and simply out of tune with the urgency and magnitude of the disaster. The second he heard that the levees had been breached in New Orleans, he should have canceled his schedule and addressed the country on national television to mobilize it both emotionally and physically to assist in the disaster. His flyover on the way to Washington was the worst possible symbolism. And his Friday visit was so tone-deaf and politically disastrous that he had to fly back three days later.

     5. Congress. Now as always playing holier-than-thou. Perhaps it might ask itself who created the Department of Homeland Security in the first place. The congressional response to all crises is the same -- rearrange the bureaucratic boxes, but be sure to add one extra layer. The last four years of DHS have been spent principally on bureaucratic reorganization (and real estate) instead of, say, a workable plan for as predictable a disaster as a Gulf Coast hurricane.

     6. The American people. They have made it impossible for any politician to make any responsible energy policy over the last 30 years -- but that is a column for another day. Now is not the time for constructive suggestions. Now is the time for blame, recriminations and sheer astonishment. Mayor Nagin has announced that, as bodies are still being found and as a public health catastrophe descends upon the city, he is sending 60 percent of his cops on city funds for a little R&R, mostly to Vegas hotels. Asked if it was appropriate to party in these circumstances, he responded: ``New Orleans is a party town. Get over it.'
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buzwardo
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« Reply #125 on: September 09, 2005, 09:28:53 PM »

Not sure anything Buckley says can be construed as a rant, but this is as close as he gets to one.


September 09, 2005, 1:33 p.m.
Post-Katrina Doublethought
William Buckley

The war against stable thought blazes on, the objective being to put the blame on the Bush administration for what happened in New Orleans.

Thomas Friedman of the New York Times personalizes even further. The administration has a "tax policy . . . dominated by the toweringly selfish Grover Norquist ? who has been quoted as saying: 'I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.?" You would think that Mr. Friedman would leave a little place in life for hyperbole ? what would he do with the political poets who speak of the "end" of hunger and disease? But he hangs onto the metaphor: "Mr. Norquist is the only person about whom I would say this: I hope he owns property around the New Orleans levee that was never properly finished because of a lack of tax dollars. I hope his basement got flooded." Planted axiom: the unrepaired levee in New Orleans is the result of a shortage of federal dollars.

Across that editorial page we have the argument placed a little differently. Not that Maureen Dowd will neglect an opportunity to anthropomorphize Katrina. No, she explains, the tragedy was the result of the Bush political family, Dick Cheney being the next in line. What was he doing when Katrina struck? He was "reportedly . . . shopping for a $2.9 million waterfront estate in St Michael's" ? which is a ?retreat in the Chesapeake Bay where Rummy" ? the Secretary of Defense ? "has a weekend home."

"As the water recedes," Dowd explains, "more and more decaying bodies will testify to the callous and stumblebum administration response to Katrina's rout of 90,000 square miles of the South." Another planted axiom. It is that the Bush Administration, to return to the language of Mr. Friedman, "has engaged in a tax giveaway since 9/11 that has had one underlying assumption: There will never be another rainy day."

The gravamen against Bush becomes plain: The Bush administration insisted "on cutting more taxes, even when that has contributed to incomplete levees and too small an army to deal with Katrina, Osama, and Saddam at the same time.?

The proposition that the Federal Government under George W. Bush has been shortchanging welfare is in astonishing conflict with the figures. Under Bush, federal spending increases have been at the fastest rate in 30 years. Non-defense discretionary spending under Bush has grown by 35.7 percent, the highest rate of federal government growth since the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson.

Again, the planted axiom is that the New Orleans levee has been for years a national pustule that George Bush refused to lance because he didn't want to drain the money needed by Dick Cheney to buy his waterfront estate. If New Orleans was conspicuous for its vulnerability, why hadn't the city?s articulate mayor, or his fellow Democrat the articulate governor, said something about it? Why did it not figure in the demands of the Democratic party at its convention in Boston? How explain the silence on the subject of candidate John Kerry?

It is tempting to weigh directly the cost of repairing the levee, and the size of the tax cuts. But what is going to pay for all the ounces of prevention we could contingently use on all the frontiers of national vulnerability? To single out the levee is on the order of blaming the destruction of the Twin Towers on the architects who situated them where they were. The first-level threat to America is a nuclear bomb, then biological and chemical weapons. What preemptive precautions should be taken against the development of such weaponry? What Republicans are objecting to federal expenses on those fronts?

We have been promised reports on Katrina from almost every official body, legislative and executive. It diminishes confidence in purposive thought to lose oneself in polemical theater. Grover Norquist uses his own language. But he could be using that of John Adams, who warned that the government seeks to turn every contingency into an excuse for amassing power in itself. Or that of Woodrow Wilson, who said that the history of liberalism is the history of man's efforts to restrain the growth of government. If New Orleans is a land doomed by nature, then nature's reach needs to be tamed, or else yielded to. The critics have not yet charged that movement away from New Orleans was prohibited by George Bush.


http://www.nationalreview.com/buckley/wfb200509091333.asp
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SB_Mig
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« Reply #126 on: September 10, 2005, 01:43:04 PM »

evil

Who is this jackass!?

From the September 9 broadcast of The Glenn Beck Program:

BECK: Let me be real honest with you. I don't think anybody on talk radio -- I don't think anybody in their right mind is going to say this out loud -- but I wonder if I'm the only one that feels this way. Yesterday, when I saw the ATM cards being handed out, the $2,000 ATM cards, and they were being handed out at the Astrodome. And they actually had to close the Astrodome and seal it off for a while because there was a near-riot trying to get to these ATM cards. My first thought was, it's not like they're going to run out of the $2,000 ATM cards. You can wait! You know, stand in line. Maybe it's because I'm the kind of guy, when I go to a buffet, I either have to be first in line, or I'm the very last. Because I know there's going to be extra food, and I just won't stand in the line. I'll wait until all the suckers go get their food, and then I'll go get mine. Or if I'm really hungry, I hate to admit this -- and really, I don't even have to be really hungry. If I'm really being a pig, I will kind of, like, hang out around the buffet table before the line is -- you know, chat with people right around the table: "Oh, they just opened the line! Let's go!" And then you're first in line.

When you are rioting for these tickets, or these ATM cards, the second thing that came to mind was -- and this is horrible to say, and I wonder if I'm alone in this -- you know it took me about a year to start hating the 9-11 victims' families? Took me about a year. And I had such compassion for them, and I really wanted to help them, and I was behind, you know, "Let's give them money, let's get this started." All of this stuff. And I really didn't -- of the 3,000 victims' families, I don't hate all of them. Probably about 10 of them. And when I see a 9-11 victim family on television, or whatever, I'm just like, "Oh shut up!" I'm so sick of them because they're always complaining. And we did our best for them. And, again, it's only about 10.

But the second thought I had when I saw these people and they had to shut down the Astrodome and lock it down, I thought: I didn't think I could hate victims faster than the 9-11 victims. These guys -- you know it's really sad. We're not hearing anything about Mississippi. We're not hearing anything about Alabama. We're hearing about the victims in New Orleans. This is a 90,000-square-mile disaster site, New Orleans is 181 square miles. A hundred and -- 0.2 percent of the disaster area is New Orleans! And that's all we're hearing about, are the people in New Orleans. Those are the only ones we're seeing on television are the scumbags -- and again, it's not all the people in New Orleans. Most of the people in New Orleans got out! It's just a small percentage of those who were left in New Orleans, or who decided to stay in New Orleans, and they're getting all the attention. It's exactly like the 9-11 victims' families. There's about 10 of them that are spoiling it for everybody.
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rogt
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« Reply #127 on: September 12, 2005, 01:10:47 PM »

Yeah, Glenn is pretty &*@%ing hateful.  

Another of his ilk, Michael Savage, was also going off last week about the ATM cards.  His issues were 1) people could somehow manage to get more than one card and 2) by just handing out cash to "these people" we run the risk of them spending it on crack and marijuana.  Gee, how anybody could think this was racist is beyond me.

With all of these multi-million dollar "reconstruction" contracts being given out like Halloween candy to W's corporate buddies, I don't think I've heard a single right-wing loudmouth complain that executives might spend the money on scotch and hookers instead rebuilding that Iraqi hospital.

Rog
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SB_Mig
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« Reply #128 on: September 13, 2005, 11:19:55 AM »

angry

Newsweek, Sept. 19, 2005 issue -

It's a standing joke among the president's top aides: who gets to deliver the bad news? Warm and hearty in public, Bush can be cold and snappish in private, and aides sometimes cringe before the displeasure of the president of the United States, or, as he is known in West Wing jargon, POTUS. The bad news on this early morning, Tuesday, Aug. 30, some 24 hours after Hurricane Katrina had ripped through New Orleans, was that the president would have to cut short his five-week vacation by a couple of days and return to Washington. The president's chief of staff, Andrew Card; his deputy chief of staff, Joe Hagin; his counselor, Dan Bartlett, and his spokesman, Scott McClellan, held a conference call to discuss the question of the president's early return and the delicate task of telling him. Hagin, it was decided, as senior aide on the ground, would do the deed.

The president did not growl this time. He had already decided to return to Washington and hold a meeting of his top advisers on the following day, Wednesday. This would give them a day to get back from their vacations and their staffs to work up some ideas about what to do in the aftermath of the storm. President Bush knew the storm and its consequences had been bad; but he didn't quite realize how bad.

The reality, say several aides who did not wish to be quoted because it might displease the president, did not really sink in until Thursday night. Some White House staffers were watching the evening news and thought the president needed to see the horrific reports coming out of New Orleans. Counselor Bartlett made up a DVD of the newscasts so Bush could see them in their entirety as he flew down to the Gulf Coast the next morning on Air Force One.

How this could be?how the president of the United States could have even less "situational awareness," as they say in the military, than the average American about the worst natural disaster in a century?is one of the more perplexing and troubling chapters in a story that, despite moments of heroism and acts of great generosity, ranks as a national disgrace.

President George W. Bush has always trusted his gut. He prides himself in ignoring the distracting chatter, the caterwauling of the media elites, the Washington political buzz machine. He has boasted that he doesn't read the papers. His doggedness is often admirable. It is easy for presidents to overreact to the noise around them.

But it is not clear what President Bush does read or watch, aside from the occasional biography and an hour or two of ESPN here and there. Bush can be petulant about dissent; he equates disagreement with disloyalty. After five years in office, he is surrounded largely by people who agree with him. Bush can ask tough questions, but it's mostly a one-way street. Most presidents keep a devil's advocate around. Lyndon Johnson had George Ball on Vietnam; President Ronald Reagan and Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, grudgingly listened to the arguments of Budget Director Richard Darman, who told them what they didn't wish to hear: that they would have to raise taxes. When Hurricane Katrina struck, it appears there was no one to tell President Bush the plain truth: that the state and local governments had been overwhelmed, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was not up to the job and that the military, the only institution with the resources to cope, couldn't act without a declaration from the president overriding all other authority.

The war in Iraq was a failure of intelligence. The government's response to Katrina?like the failure to anticipate that terrorists would fly into buildings on 9/11?was a failure of imagination. On Tuesday, within 24 hours of the storm's arrival, Bush needed to be able to imagine the scenes of disorder and misery that would, two days later, shock him when he watched the evening news. He needed to be able to see that New Orleans would spin into violence and chaos very quickly if the U.S. government did not take charge?and, in effect, send in the cavalry, which in this case probably meant sending in a brigade from a combat outfit, like the 82nd Airborne, based in Fort Bragg, N.C., and prepared to deploy anywhere in the world in 18 hours.

Bush and his advisers in his "war cabinet" have always been action-oriented, "forward leaning," in the favorite phrase of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. They dislike lawyers and sometimes brush aside legalistic (and even sound constitutional) arguments. But this time "Rummy" opposed sending in active-duty troops as cops. Dick Cheney, who was vacationing in Wyoming when the storm hit, characteristically kept his counsel on videoconferences; his private advice is not known.

Liberals will say they were indifferent to the plight of poor African-Americans. It is true that Katrina laid bare society's massive neglect of its least fortunate. The inner thoughts and motivations of Bush and his top advisers are impossible to know for certain. Though it seems abstract at a time of such suffering, high-minded considerations about the balance of power between state and federal government were clearly at play. It's also possible that after at least four years of more or less constant crisis, Bush and his team are numb.

The failure of the government's response to Hurricane Katrina worked like a power blackout. Problems cascaded and compounded; each mistake made the next mistake worse. The foe in this battle was a monster; Katrina flattened the Gulf Coast with the strength of a vengeful god. But human beings, beginning with the elected officials of the City of New Orleans, failed to anticipate and react in time.

Congressional investigations will take months to sort out who is to blame. A NEWSWEEK reconstruction of the government's response to the storm shows how Bush's leadership style and the bureaucratic culture combined to produce a disaster within a disaster.

Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, didn't want to evacuate. New Orleanians have a fatalistic streak; their joyful, jazz-blowing street funeral processions are legendary. After many near misses over the years since Hurricane Betsy flooded 20 percent of the city in 1965, longtime residents prefer to stay put. Nagin's eye had long been on commerce, not catastrophe. A former executive at Cox Communications, he had come to office in 2002 to clear out the allegedly corrupt old guard and bring new business to the city, which has not prospered with New South metropolises like Atlanta. During Nagin's mayoral campaign, the promises were about jobs, not stronger floodwalls and levees.

Bush and his advisers in his "war cabinet" have always been action-oriented, "forward leaning," in the favorite phrase of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. They dislike lawyers and sometimes brush aside legalistic (and even sound constitutional) arguments. But this time "Rummy" opposed sending in active-duty troops as cops. Dick Cheney, who was vacationing in Wyoming when the storm hit, characteristically kept his counsel on videoconferences; his private advice is not known.

Liberals will say they were indifferent to the plight of poor African-Americans. It is true that Katrina laid bare society's massive neglect of its least fortunate. The inner thoughts and motivations of Bush and his top advisers are impossible to know for certain. Though it seems abstract at a time of such suffering, high-minded considerations about the balance of power between state and federal government were clearly at play. It's also possible that after at least four years of more or less constant crisis, Bush and his team are numb.

The failure of the government's response to Hurricane Katrina worked like a power blackout. Problems cascaded and compounded; each mistake made the next mistake worse. The foe in this battle was a monster; Katrina flattened the Gulf Coast with the strength of a vengeful god. But human beings, beginning with the elected officials of the City of New Orleans, failed to anticipate and react in time.

Congressional investigations will take months to sort out who is to blame. A NEWSWEEK reconstruction of the government's response to the storm shows how Bush's leadership style and the bureaucratic culture combined to produce a disaster within a disaster.

Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, didn't want to evacuate. New Orleanians have a fatalistic streak; their joyful, jazz-blowing street funeral processions are legendary. After many near misses over the years since Hurricane Betsy flooded 20 percent of the city in 1965, longtime residents prefer to stay put. Nagin's eye had long been on commerce, not catastrophe. A former executive at Cox Communications, he had come to office in 2002 to clear out the allegedly corrupt old guard and bring new business to the city, which has not prospered with New South metropolises like Atlanta. During Nagin's mayoral campaign, the promises were about jobs, not stronger floodwalls and levees.

Bush and his advisers in his "war cabinet" have always been action-oriented, "forward leaning," in the favorite phrase of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. They dislike lawyers and sometimes brush aside legalistic (and even sound constitutional) arguments. But this time "Rummy" opposed sending in active-duty troops as cops. Dick Cheney, who was vacationing in Wyoming when the storm hit, characteristically kept his counsel on videoconferences; his private advice is not known.

Liberals will say they were indifferent to the plight of poor African-Americans. It is true that Katrina laid bare society's massive neglect of its least fortunate. The inner thoughts and motivations of Bush and his top advisers are impossible to know for certain. Though it seems abstract at a time of such suffering, high-minded considerations about the balance of power between state and federal government were clearly at play. It's also possible that after at least four years of more or less constant crisis, Bush and his team are numb.

The failure of the government's response to Hurricane Katrina worked like a power blackout. Problems cascaded and compounded; each mistake made the next mistake worse. The foe in this battle was a monster; Katrina flattened the Gulf Coast with the strength of a vengeful god. But human beings, beginning with the elected officials of the City of New Orleans, failed to anticipate and react in time.

Congressional investigations will take months to sort out who is to blame. A NEWSWEEK reconstruction of the government's response to the storm shows how Bush's leadership style and the bureaucratic culture combined to produce a disaster within a disaster.

Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, didn't want to evacuate. New Orleanians have a fatalistic streak; their joyful, jazz-blowing street funeral processions are legendary. After many near misses over the years since Hurricane Betsy flooded 20 percent of the city in 1965, longtime residents prefer to stay put. Nagin's eye had long been on commerce, not catastrophe. A former executive at Cox Communications, he had come to office in 2002 to clear out the allegedly corrupt old guard and bring new business to the city, which has not prospered with New South metropolises like Atlanta. During Nagin's mayoral campaign, the promises were about jobs, not stronger floodwalls and levees.

But on Saturday night, as Katrina bore down on New Orleans, Nagin talked to Max Mayfield, head of the National Hurricane Center. "Max Mayfield has scared me to death," Nagin told City Councilwoman Cynthia Morrell early Sunday morning. "If you're scared, I'm scared," responded Morrell, and the mandatory order went out to evacuate the city?about a day later than for most other cities and counties along the Gulf Coast.

As Katrina howled outside Monday morning and the windows of the Hyatt Hotel, where the mayor had set up his command post, began popping out, Nagin and his staff lay on the floor. Then came eerie silence. Morrell decided to go look at her district, including nearby Gentilly. Outside, Canal Street was dry. "Phew," Morrell told her driver, "that was close." But then, from the elevated highway, she began seeing neighborhoods under eight to 15 feet of water. "Holy God," she thought to herself. Then she spotted her first dead body.

At dusk, on the ninth floor of city hall, the mayor and the city council had their first encounter with the federal government. A man in a blue FEMA windbreaker arrived to brief them on his helicopter flyover of the city. He seemed unfamiliar with the city's geography, but he did have a sense of urgency. "Water as far as the eye can see," he said. It was worse than Hurricanes Andrew in 1992 and Camille in 1969. "I need to call Washington," he said. "Do you have a conference-call line?" According to an aide to the mayor, he seemed a little taken aback when the answer was no. Long neglected in the city budget, communications within the New Orleans city government were poor, and eventually almost nonexistent when the batteries on the few old satellite phones died. The FEMA man found a phone, but he had trouble reaching senior officials in Washington. When he finally got someone on the line, the city officials kept hearing him say, "You don't understand, you don't understand."

Around New Orleans, three levees had overtopped or were broken. The city was doomed. There was no way the water could be stopped. But, incredibly, the seriousness of the situation did not really register, not only in Washington, but at the state emergency command post upriver in Baton Rouge. In a squat, drab cinder-block building in the state capital, full of TV monitors and maps, various state and federal officials tried to make sense of what had happened. "Nobody was saying it wasn't a catastrophe," Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu told NEWSWEEK. "We were saying, 'Thank you, God,' because the experts were telling the governor it could have been even worse."

Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, a motherly but steely figure known by the nickname Queen Bee, knew that she needed help. But she wasn't quite sure what. At about 8 p.m., she spoke to Bush. "Mr. President," she said, "we need your help. We need everything you've got."

Bush, the governor later recalled, was reassuring. But the conversation was all a little vague. Blanco did not specifically ask for a massive intervention by the active-duty military. "She wouldn't know the 82nd Airborne from the Harlem Boys' Choir," said an official in the governor's office, who did not wish to be identified talking about his boss's conversations with the president. There are a number of steps Bush could have taken, short of a full-scale federal takeover, like ordering the military to take over the pitiful and (by now) largely broken emergency communications system throughout the region. But the president, who was in San Diego preparing to give a speech the next day on the war in Iraq, went to bed.

By the predawn hours, most state and federal officials finally realized that the 17th Street Canal levee had been breached, and that the city was in serious trouble. Bush was told at 5 a.m. Pacific Coast time and immediately decided to cut his vacation short. To his senior advisers, living in the insular presidential bubble, the mere act of lopping off a couple of presidential vacation days counts as a major event. They could see pitfalls in sending Bush to New Orleans immediately. His presence would create a security nightmare and get in the way of the relief effort. Bush blithely proceeded with the rest of his schedule for the day, accepting a gift guitar at one event and pretending to riff like Tom Cruise in "Risky Business."

Bush might not have appeared so carefree if he had been able to see the fearful faces on some young police officers?the ones who actually showed up for roll call at the New Orleans Second District police headquarters that morning. The radio was reporting water nine feet deep at the corner of Napoleon and St. Charles streets. The looting and occasional shooting had begun. At 2 o'clock on the morning of the storm, only 82 of 120 cops had obeyed a summons to report for duty. Now the numbers were dwindling; within a day, only 28 or 30 officers would be left to save the stranded and fight the looters, recalled a sad and exhausted Capt. Eddie Hosli, speaking to a NEWSWEEK reporter last week. "One of my lieutenants told me, 'I was looking into the eyes of one of the officers and it was like looking into the eyes of a baby'," Hosli recalled. "It was just terrible." (When the AWOL officers began trickling back to work last week, attracted in part by the promise of five expense-paid days in Las Vegas for all New Orleans cops, Hosli told them, "You've got your own demons to live with. I'm not going to judge you.")

At emergency headquarters in Baton Rouge, confusion raged. Though more than 100,000 of its residents had no way to get out of the city on their own, New Orleans had no real evacuation plan, save to tell people to go to the Superdome and wait for buses. On Tuesday, the state was rounding up buses; no, FEMA was; no, FEMA's buses would take too long to get there ... and so on. On Tuesday afternoon, Governor Blanco took her second trip to the Superdome and was shocked by the rising tide of desperation there. There didn't seem to be nearly enough buses, boats or helicopters.

Early Wednesday morning, Blanco tried to call Bush. She was transferred around the White House for a while until she ended up on the phone with Fran Townsend, the president's Homeland Security adviser, who tried to reassure her but did not have many specifics. Hours later, Blanco called back and insisted on speaking to the president. When he came on the line, the governor recalled, "I just asked him for help, 'whatever you have'." She asked for 40,000 troops. "I just pulled a number out of the sky," she later told NEWSWEEK.

The Pentagon was not sitting idly. By Tuesday morning (and even before the storm) the military was moving supplies, ships, boats, helicopters and troops toward the Gulf Coast. But, ironically, the scale of the effort slowed it. TV viewers had difficulty understanding why TV crews seemed to move in and out of New Orleans while the military was nowhere to be seen. But a TV crew is five people in an RV. Before the military can send in convoys of trucks, it has to clear broken and flooded highways. The military took over the shattered New Orleans airport for emergency airlifts, but special teams of Air Force operators had to be sent in to make it ready. By the week after the storm, the military had mobilized some 70,000 troops and hundreds of helicopters?but it took at least two days and usually four and five to get them into the disaster area. Looters and well-armed gangs, like TV crews, moved faster.

In the inner councils of the Bush administration, there was some talk of gingerly pushing aside the overwhelmed "first responders," the state and local emergency forces, and sending in active-duty troops. But under an 1868 law, federal troops are not allowed to get involved in local law enforcement. The president, it's true, could have invoked the Insurrections Act, the so-called Riot Act. But Rumsfeld's aides say the secretary of Defense was leery of sending in 19-year-old soldiers trained to shoot people in combat to play policemen in an American city, and he believed that National Guardsmen trained as MPs were on the way.

The one federal agency that is supposed to handle disasters?FEMA?was dysfunctional. On Wednesday morning, Senator Landrieu was standing outside the chaotic Superdome and asked to borrow a FEMA official's phone to call her office in Washington. "It didn't work," she told NEWSWEEK. "I thought to myself, 'This isn't going to be pretty'." Once a kind of petty-cash drawer for congressmen to quickly hand out aid after floods and storms, FEMA had improved in the 1990s in the Clinton administration. But it became a victim of the Iron Law of Unintended Consequences. After 9/11 raised the profile of disaster response, FEMA was folded into the sprawling Department of Homeland Security and effectively weakened. FEMA's boss, Bush's close friend Joe Allbaugh, quit when he lost his cabinet seat. (Now a consultant, Allbaugh was down on the Gulf Coast last week looking for contracts for his private clients.) Allbaugh replaced himself with his college buddy Mike Brown, whose last private-sector job (omitted from his official resume) had been supervising horse-show judges for the International Arabian Horse Association. After praising Brown ("Brownie, you're doing a heck of job"), Bush last week removed him from honchoing the Katrina relief operation. He was replaced by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen. The Coast Guard was one agency that performed well, rescuing thousands.

Bad news rarely flows up in bureaucracies. For most of those first few days, Bush was hearing what a good job the Feds were doing. Bush likes "metrics," numbers to measure performance, so the bureaucrats gave him reassuring statistics. At a press availability on Wednesday, Bush duly rattled them off: there were 400 trucks transporting 5.4 million meals and 13.4 million liters of water along with 3.4 million pounds of ice. Yet it was obvious to anyone watching TV that New Orleans had turned into a Third World hellhole.

The denial and the frustration finally collided aboard Air Force One on Friday. As the president's plane sat on the tarmac at New Orleans airport, a confrontation occurred that was described by one participant as "as blunt as you can get without the Secret Service getting involved." Governor Blanco was there, along with various congressmen and senators and Mayor Nagin (who took advantage of the opportunity to take a shower aboard the plane). One by one, the lawmakers listed their grievances as Bush listened. Rep. Bobby Jindal, whose district encompasses New Orleans, told of a sheriff who had called FEMA for assistance. According to Jindal, the sheriff was told to e-mail his request, "and the guy was sitting in a district underwater and with no electricity," Jindal said, incredulously. "How does that make any sense?" Jindal later told NEWSWEEK that "almost everybody" around the conference table had a similar story about how the federal response "just wasn't working." With each tale, "the president just shook his head, as if he couldn't believe what he was hearing," says Jindal, a conservative Republican and Bush appointee who lost a close race to Blanco. Repeatedly, the president turned to his aides and said, "Fix it."

According to Sen. David Vitter, a Republican ally of Bush's, the meeting came to a head when Mayor Nagin blew up during a fraught discussion of "who's in charge?" Nagin slammed his hand down on the table and told Bush, "We just need to cut through this and do what it takes to have a more-controlled command structure. If that means federalizing it, let's do it."

A debate over "federalizing" the National Guard had been rattling in Washington for the previous three days. Normally, the Guard is under the control of the state governor, but the Feds can take over?if the governor asks them to. Nagin suggested that Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, the Pentagon's on-scene commander, be put in charge. According to Senator Vitter, Bush turned to Governor Blanco and said, "Well, what do you think of that, Governor?" Blanco told Bush, "I'd rather talk to you about that privately." To which Nagin responded, "Well, why don't you do that now?"

The meeting broke up. Bush and Blanco disappeared to talk. More than a week later, there was still no agreement. Blanco didn't want to give up her authority, and Bush didn't press. Jindal suggested that Bush appoint Colin Powell as a kind of relief czar, and Bush replied, "I'll take that into consideration." Bush does not like to fire people. He told Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to go down to Louisiana and sort out the various problems. A day later FEMA's Brown was on his way back to Washington.

Late last week, Bush was, by some accounts, down and angry. But another Bush aide described the atmosphere inside the White House as "strangely surreal and almost detached." At one meeting described by this insider, officials were oddly self-congratulatory, perhaps in an effort to buck each other up. Life inside a bunker can be strange, especially in defeat.

Bad news rarely flows up in bureaucracies. For most of those first few days, Bush was hearing what a good job the Feds were doing. Bush likes "metrics," numbers to measure performance, so the bureaucrats gave him reassuring statistics. At a press availability on Wednesday, Bush duly rattled them off: there were 400 trucks transporting 5.4 million meals and 13.4 million liters of water along with 3.4 million pounds of ice. Yet it was obvious to anyone watching TV that New Orleans had turned into a Third World hellhole.

The denial and the frustration finally collided aboard Air Force One on Friday. As the president's plane sat on the tarmac at New Orleans airport, a confrontation occurred that was described by one participant as "as blunt as you can get without the Secret Service getting involved." Governor Blanco was there, along with various congressmen and senators and Mayor Nagin (who took advantage of the opportunity to take a shower aboard the plane). One by one, the lawmakers listed their grievances as Bush listened. Rep. Bobby Jindal, whose district encompasses New Orleans, told of a sheriff who had called FEMA for assistance. According to Jindal, the sheriff was told to e-mail his request, "and the guy was sitting in a district underwater and with no electricity," Jindal said, incredulously. "How does that make any sense?" Jindal later told NEWSWEEK that "almost everybody" around the conference table had a similar story about how the federal response "just wasn't working." With each tale, "the president just shook his head, as if he couldn't believe what he was hearing," says Jindal, a conservative Republican and Bush appointee who lost a close race to Blanco. Repeatedly, the president turned to his aides and said, "Fix it."

According to Sen. David Vitter, a Republican ally of Bush's, the meeting came to a head when Mayor Nagin blew up during a fraught discussion of "who's in charge?" Nagin slammed his hand down on the table and told Bush, "We just need to cut through this and do what it takes to have a more-controlled command structure. If that means federalizing it, let's do it."

A debate over "federalizing" the National Guard had been rattling in Washington for the previous three days. Normally, the Guard is under the control of the state governor, but the Feds can take over?if the governor asks them to. Nagin suggested that Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, the Pentagon's on-scene commander, be put in charge. According to Senator Vitter, Bush turned to Governor Blanco and said, "Well, what do you think of that, Governor?" Blanco told Bush, "I'd rather talk to you about that privately." To which Nagin responded, "Well, why don't you do that now?"

The meeting broke up. Bush and Blanco disappeared to talk. More than a week later, there was still no agreement. Blanco didn't want to give up her authority, and Bush didn't press. Jindal suggested that Bush appoint Colin Powell as a kind of relief czar, and Bush replied, "I'll take that into consideration." Bush does not like to fire people. He told Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to go down to Louisiana and sort out the various problems. A day later FEMA's Brown was on his way back to Washington.

Late last week, Bush was, by some accounts, down and angry. But another Bush aide described the atmosphere inside the White House as "strangely surreal and almost detached." At one meeting described by this insider, officials were oddly self-congratulatory, perhaps in an effort to buck each other up. Life inside a bunker can be strange, especially in defeat.
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« Reply #129 on: September 13, 2005, 11:31:53 AM »

BAD CUT AND PASTE JOB...HERE'S THE REPOST:

Sept. 19, 2005 issue - It's a standing joke among the president's top aides: who gets to deliver the bad news? Warm and hearty in public, Bush can be cold and snappish in private, and aides sometimes cringe before the displeasure of the president of the United States, or, as he is known in West Wing jargon, POTUS. The bad news on this early morning, Tuesday, Aug. 30, some 24 hours after Hurricane Katrina had ripped through New Orleans, was that the president would have to cut short his five-week vacation by a couple of days and return to Washington. The president's chief of staff, Andrew Card; his deputy chief of staff, Joe Hagin; his counselor, Dan Bartlett, and his spokesman, Scott McClellan, held a conference call to discuss the question of the president's early return and the delicate task of telling him. Hagin, it was decided, as senior aide on the ground, would do the deed.

The president did not growl this time. He had already decided to return to Washington and hold a meeting of his top advisers on the following day, Wednesday. This would give them a day to get back from their vacations and their staffs to work up some ideas about what to do in the aftermath of the storm. President Bush knew the storm and its consequences had been bad; but he didn't quite realize how bad.

The reality, say several aides who did not wish to be quoted because it might displease the president, did not really sink in until Thursday night. Some White House staffers were watching the evening news and thought the president needed to see the horrific reports coming out of New Orleans. Counselor Bartlett made up a DVD of the newscasts so Bush could see them in their entirety as he flew down to the Gulf Coast the next morning on Air Force One.

How this could be?how the president of the United States could have even less "situational awareness," as they say in the military, than the average American about the worst natural disaster in a century?is one of the more perplexing and troubling chapters in a story that, despite moments of heroism and acts of great generosity, ranks as a national disgrace.

President George W. Bush has always trusted his gut. He prides himself in ignoring the distracting chatter, the caterwauling of the media elites, the Washington political buzz machine. He has boasted that he doesn't read the papers. His doggedness is often admirable. It is easy for presidents to overreact to the noise around them.

But it is not clear what President Bush does read or watch, aside from the occasional biography and an hour or two of ESPN here and there. Bush can be petulant about dissent; he equates disagreement with disloyalty. After five years in office, he is surrounded largely by people who agree with him. Bush can ask tough questions, but it's mostly a one-way street. Most presidents keep a devil's advocate around. Lyndon Johnson had George Ball on Vietnam; President Ronald Reagan and Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, grudgingly listened to the arguments of Budget Director Richard Darman, who told them what they didn't wish to hear: that they would have to raise taxes. When Hurricane Katrina struck, it appears there was no one to tell President Bush the plain truth: that the state and local governments had been overwhelmed, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was not up to the job and that the military, the only institution with the resources to cope, couldn't act without a declaration from the president overriding all other authority.

The war in Iraq was a failure of intelligence. The government's response to Katrina?like the failure to anticipate that terrorists would fly into buildings on 9/11?was a failure of imagination. On Tuesday, within 24 hours of the storm's arrival, Bush needed to be able to imagine the scenes of disorder and misery that would, two days later, shock him when he watched the evening news. He needed to be able to see that New Orleans would spin into violence and chaos very quickly if the U.S. government did not take charge?and, in effect, send in the cavalry, which in this case probably meant sending in a brigade from a combat outfit, like the 82nd Airborne, based in Fort Bragg, N.C., and prepared to deploy anywhere in the world in 18 hours.

Bush and his advisers in his "war cabinet" have always been action-oriented, "forward leaning," in the favorite phrase of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. They dislike lawyers and sometimes brush aside legalistic (and even sound constitutional) arguments. But this time "Rummy" opposed sending in active-duty troops as cops. Dick Cheney, who was vacationing in Wyoming when the storm hit, characteristically kept his counsel on videoconferences; his private advice is not known.

Liberals will say they were indifferent to the plight of poor African-Americans. It is true that Katrina laid bare society's massive neglect of its least fortunate. The inner thoughts and motivations of Bush and his top advisers are impossible to know for certain. Though it seems abstract at a time of such suffering, high-minded considerations about the balance of power between state and federal government were clearly at play. It's also possible that after at least four years of more or less constant crisis, Bush and his team are numb.

The failure of the government's response to Hurricane Katrina worked like a power blackout. Problems cascaded and compounded; each mistake made the next mistake worse. The foe in this battle was a monster; Katrina flattened the Gulf Coast with the strength of a vengeful god. But human beings, beginning with the elected officials of the City of New Orleans, failed to anticipate and react in time.

Congressional investigations will take months to sort out who is to blame. A NEWSWEEK reconstruction of the government's response to the storm shows how Bush's leadership style and the bureaucratic culture combined to produce a disaster within a disaster.

Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, didn't want to evacuate. New Orleanians have a fatalistic streak; their joyful, jazz-blowing street funeral processions are legendary. After many near misses over the years since Hurricane Betsy flooded 20 percent of the city in 1965, longtime residents prefer to stay put. Nagin's eye had long been on commerce, not catastrophe. A former executive at Cox Communications, he had come to office in 2002 to clear out the allegedly corrupt old guard and bring new business to the city, which has not prospered with New South metropolises like Atlanta. During Nagin's mayoral campaign, the promises were about jobs, not stronger floodwalls and levees.

But on Saturday night, as Katrina bore down on New Orleans, Nagin talked to Max Mayfield, head of the National Hurricane Center. "Max Mayfield has scared me to death," Nagin told City Councilwoman Cynthia Morrell early Sunday morning. "If you're scared, I'm scared," responded Morrell, and the mandatory order went out to evacuate the city?about a day later than for most other cities and counties along the Gulf Coast.

As Katrina howled outside Monday morning and the windows of the Hyatt Hotel, where the mayor had set up his command post, began popping out, Nagin and his staff lay on the floor. Then came eerie silence. Morrell decided to go look at her district, including nearby Gentilly. Outside, Canal Street was dry. "Phew," Morrell told her driver, "that was close." But then, from the elevated highway, she began seeing neighborhoods under eight to 15 feet of water. "Holy God," she thought to herself. Then she spotted her first dead body.

At dusk, on the ninth floor of city hall, the mayor and the city council had their first encounter with the federal government. A man in a blue FEMA windbreaker arrived to brief them on his helicopter flyover of the city. He seemed unfamiliar with the city's geography, but he did have a sense of urgency. "Water as far as the eye can see," he said. It was worse than Hurricanes Andrew in 1992 and Camille in 1969. "I need to call Washington," he said. "Do you have a conference-call line?" According to an aide to the mayor, he seemed a little taken aback when the answer was no. Long neglected in the city budget, communications within the New Orleans city government were poor, and eventually almost nonexistent when the batteries on the few old satellite phones died. The FEMA man found a phone, but he had trouble reaching senior officials in Washington. When he finally got someone on the line, the city officials kept hearing him say, "You don't understand, you don't understand."

Around New Orleans, three levees had overtopped or were broken. The city was doomed. There was no way the water could be stopped. But, incredibly, the seriousness of the situation did not really register, not only in Washington, but at the state emergency command post upriver in Baton Rouge. In a squat, drab cinder-block building in the state capital, full of TV monitors and maps, various state and federal officials tried to make sense of what had happened. "Nobody was saying it wasn't a catastrophe," Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu told NEWSWEEK. "We were saying, 'Thank you, God,' because the experts were telling the governor it could have been even worse."

Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, a motherly but steely figure known by the nickname Queen Bee, knew that she needed help. But she wasn't quite sure what. At about 8 p.m., she spoke to Bush. "Mr. President," she said, "we need your help. We need everything you've got."

Bush, the governor later recalled, was reassuring. But the conversation was all a little vague. Blanco did not specifically ask for a massive intervention by the active-duty military. "She wouldn't know the 82nd Airborne from the Harlem Boys' Choir," said an official in the governor's office, who did not wish to be identified talking about his boss's conversations with the president. There are a number of steps Bush could have taken, short of a full-scale federal takeover, like ordering the military to take over the pitiful and (by now) largely broken emergency communications system throughout the region. But the president, who was in San Diego preparing to give a speech the next day on the war in Iraq, went to bed.

By the predawn hours, most state and federal officials finally realized that the 17th Street Canal levee had been breached, and that the city was in serious trouble. Bush was told at 5 a.m. Pacific Coast time and immediately decided to cut his vacation short. To his senior advisers, living in the insular presidential bubble, the mere act of lopping off a couple of presidential vacation days counts as a major event. They could see pitfalls in sending Bush to New Orleans immediately. His presence would create a security nightmare and get in the way of the relief effort. Bush blithely proceeded with the rest of his schedule for the day, accepting a gift guitar at one event and pretending to riff like Tom Cruise in "Risky Business."

Bush might not have appeared so carefree if he had been able to see the fearful faces on some young police officers?the ones who actually showed up for roll call at the New Orleans Second District police headquarters that morning. The radio was reporting water nine feet deep at the corner of Napoleon and St. Charles streets. The looting and occasional shooting had begun. At 2 o'clock on the morning of the storm, only 82 of 120 cops had obeyed a summons to report for duty. Now the numbers were dwindling; within a day, only 28 or 30 officers would be left to save the stranded and fight the looters, recalled a sad and exhausted Capt. Eddie Hosli, speaking to a NEWSWEEK reporter last week. "One of my lieutenants told me, 'I was looking into the eyes of one of the officers and it was like looking into the eyes of a baby'," Hosli recalled. "It was just terrible." (When the AWOL officers began trickling back to work last week, attracted in part by the promise of five expense-paid days in Las Vegas for all New Orleans cops, Hosli told them, "You've got your own demons to live with. I'm not going to judge you.")

At emergency headquarters in Baton Rouge, confusion raged. Though more than 100,000 of its residents had no way to get out of the city on their own, New Orleans had no real evacuation plan, save to tell people to go to the Superdome and wait for buses. On Tuesday, the state was rounding up buses; no, FEMA was; no, FEMA's buses would take too long to get there ... and so on. On Tuesday afternoon, Governor Blanco took her second trip to the Superdome and was shocked by the rising tide of desperation there. There didn't seem to be nearly enough buses, boats or helicopters.

Early Wednesday morning, Blanco tried to call Bush. She was transferred around the White House for a while until she ended up on the phone with Fran Townsend, the president's Homeland Security adviser, who tried to reassure her but did not have many specifics. Hours later, Blanco called back and insisted on speaking to the president. When he came on the line, the governor recalled, "I just asked him for help, 'whatever you have'." She asked for 40,000 troops. "I just pulled a number out of the sky," she later told NEWSWEEK.

The Pentagon was not sitting idly. By Tuesday morning (and even before the storm) the military was moving supplies, ships, boats, helicopters and troops toward the Gulf Coast. But, ironically, the scale of the effort slowed it. TV viewers had difficulty understanding why TV crews seemed to move in and out of New Orleans while the military was nowhere to be seen. But a TV crew is five people in an RV. Before the military can send in convoys of trucks, it has to clear broken and flooded highways. The military took over the shattered New Orleans airport for emergency airlifts, but special teams of Air Force operators had to be sent in to make it ready. By the week after the storm, the military had mobilized some 70,000 troops and hundreds of helicopters?but it took at least two days and usually four and five to get them into the disaster area. Looters and well-armed gangs, like TV crews, moved faster.

In the inner councils of the Bush administration, there was some talk of gingerly pushing aside the overwhelmed "first responders," the state and local emergency forces, and sending in active-duty troops. But under an 1868 law, federal troops are not allowed to get involved in local law enforcement. The president, it's true, could have invoked the Insurrections Act, the so-called Riot Act. But Rumsfeld's aides say the secretary of Defense was leery of sending in 19-year-old soldiers trained to shoot people in combat to play policemen in an American city, and he believed that National Guardsmen trained as MPs were on the way.

The one federal agency that is supposed to handle disasters?FEMA?was dysfunctional. On Wednesday morning, Senator Landrieu was standing outside the chaotic Superdome and asked to borrow a FEMA official's phone to call her office in Washington. "It didn't work," she told NEWSWEEK. "I thought to myself, 'This isn't going to be pretty'." Once a kind of petty-cash drawer for congressmen to quickly hand out aid after floods and storms, FEMA had improved in the 1990s in the Clinton administration. But it became a victim of the Iron Law of Unintended Consequences. After 9/11 raised the profile of disaster response, FEMA was folded into the sprawling Department of Homeland Security and effectively weakened. FEMA's boss, Bush's close friend Joe Allbaugh, quit when he lost his cabinet seat. (Now a consultant, Allbaugh was down on the Gulf Coast last week looking for contracts for his private clients.) Allbaugh replaced himself with his college buddy Mike Brown, whose last private-sector job (omitted from his official resume) had been supervising horse-show judges for the International Arabian Horse Association. After praising Brown ("Brownie, you're doing a heck of job"), Bush last week removed him from honchoing the Katrina relief operation. He was replaced by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen. The Coast Guard was one agency that performed well, rescuing thousands.

Bad news rarely flows up in bureaucracies. For most of those first few days, Bush was hearing what a good job the Feds were doing. Bush likes "metrics," numbers to measure performance, so the bureaucrats gave him reassuring statistics. At a press availability on Wednesday, Bush duly rattled them off: there were 400 trucks transporting 5.4 million meals and 13.4 million liters of water along with 3.4 million pounds of ice. Yet it was obvious to anyone watching TV that New Orleans had turned into a Third World hellhole.

The denial and the frustration finally collided aboard Air Force One on Friday. As the president's plane sat on the tarmac at New Orleans airport, a confrontation occurred that was described by one participant as "as blunt as you can get without the Secret Service getting involved." Governor Blanco was there, along with various congressmen and senators and Mayor Nagin (who took advantage of the opportunity to take a shower aboard the plane). One by one, the lawmakers listed their grievances as Bush listened. Rep. Bobby Jindal, whose district encompasses New Orleans, told of a sheriff who had called FEMA for assistance. According to Jindal, the sheriff was told to e-mail his request, "and the guy was sitting in a district underwater and with no electricity," Jindal said, incredulously. "How does that make any sense?" Jindal later told NEWSWEEK that "almost everybody" around the conference table had a similar story about how the federal response "just wasn't working." With each tale, "the president just shook his head, as if he couldn't believe what he was hearing," says Jindal, a conservative Republican and Bush appointee who lost a close race to Blanco. Repeatedly, the president turned to his aides and said, "Fix it."

According to Sen. David Vitter, a Republican ally of Bush's, the meeting came to a head when Mayor Nagin blew up during a fraught discussion of "who's in charge?" Nagin slammed his hand down on the table and told Bush, "We just need to cut through this and do what it takes to have a more-controlled command structure. If that means federalizing it, let's do it."

A debate over "federalizing" the National Guard had been rattling in Washington for the previous three days. Normally, the Guard is under the control of the state governor, but the Feds can take over?if the governor asks them to. Nagin suggested that Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, the Pentagon's on-scene commander, be put in charge. According to Senator Vitter, Bush turned to Governor Blanco and said, "Well, what do you think of that, Governor?" Blanco told Bush, "I'd rather talk to you about that privately." To which Nagin responded, "Well, why don't you do that now?"

The meeting broke up. Bush and Blanco disappeared to talk. More than a week later, there was still no agreement. Blanco didn't want to give up her authority, and Bush didn't press. Jindal suggested that Bush appoint Colin Powell as a kind of relief czar, and Bush replied, "I'll take that into consideration." Bush does not like to fire people. He told Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to go down to Louisiana and sort out the various problems. A day later FEMA's Brown was on his way back to Washington.

Late last week, Bush was, by some accounts, down and angry. But another Bush aide described the atmosphere inside the White House as "strangely surreal and almost detached." At one meeting described by this insider, officials were oddly self-congratulatory, perhaps in an effort to buck each other up. Life inside a bunker can be strange, especially in defeat.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #130 on: September 13, 2005, 11:48:18 AM »

Well this piece certainly belongs here in the Rant thread because it certainly isn't news reporting.

It leaves out the extraordinary sequence of incompetent f8ckups of Nagin and Blanco. I am left looking like a jewish Don King as I read about them.  Even as the article tries to maximize the blame for Bush, who certainly could and should have grasped the gravity of it all sooner, it glosses over that the "steely"  Tongue  rolleyes  gov.  refused to grant Fed intervention.

I despise Newspeak.

Try this for State level incompetence:  http://stolenthunder.blogspot.com/2005/09/accusation-revealed.html


Marc
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SB_Mig
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« Reply #131 on: September 13, 2005, 01:36:34 PM »

The thing that bugs me the most about the situation is that everyone that should have been in charge is going to come away from this free and clear...
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rogt
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« Reply #132 on: September 13, 2005, 06:25:41 PM »

Really.  What does it mean for Bush to "take responsibility" if this doesn't include suffering some serious negative consequences, like stepping down or firing somebody?
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Howling Dog
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« Reply #133 on: September 14, 2005, 08:17:31 AM »

Woof, I agree. Bush did take the blame on the Federal level. The head of Fema (Brown) stepped down. Is that what you had in mind Rog?
Brown should probably have been fired, but he was indeed publicly humiliated into resigning. There is plenty of blame to go around on this one.
Should blame not trickle down to the state and local level as well? Example, the 1000 school buses that sit under water, that were never manned to aid in the evacution of the people of New Orleans?
Leagaly loaded a school bus can haul just under 50 people. Loaded to the gills who knows.......
With all the advance warning of the huricane one would think this should have been a option....? Esp in the poor areas where people could not get out?
                                                      Tom
P.S. Hopefully we can all agree there is procedure that needs to be followed in events like this.
I think it unfair to blame someone else when people don't do THEIR part in following procedure, and get the ball rolling.
You know what they say about the word ASSUME.
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Howling Dog
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« Reply #134 on: September 14, 2005, 08:24:36 AM »

I'd quibble with the notion of responsibility trickling down to the state and local level-- rather THIS IS EXACTLY WHERE THE PRINCIPAL REPSONSIBILTY LAYS.
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buzwardo
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« Reply #135 on: September 14, 2005, 10:40:02 AM »

And, in reference to the above, it's the way the emergency plan reads. I work with an emergency rescue team; all triggers get pulled locally and then escalate, and it's the local jurisdiction's responsibility to send a coherant request for assistance up the line.

Though at times like this federal authorities are expected to have an omniscience that frankly flabbergasts me, the truth of the matter is that the locals are the ones who should have the best grasp of the situation, and are the ones who need to send that info up the line in a useful manner.
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SB_Mig
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« Reply #136 on: September 14, 2005, 11:09:24 AM »

State and local officials should have to pay for their blunders. If the mayor/governor/senators of N.O/LA had any cojones they would resign as well. But that's asking waaaay too much of elected officials. As for Bush accepting responsibility, great, but what does that mean?

And the school buses everyone keeps talking about and "why weren't they used"?

1) Such a claim presumes an availability of resources (e.g., experienced drivers, fuel).

2) Workable logistics (e.g., sufficient means of notifying and getting residents to departure points, sufficiently clear roads for multiple trips out of town and back, adequate facilities within a reasonable driving distance capable of providing shelter, food, and water to a large number of people for an indeterminate period of time on short notice) that may or may not have been present.

3) There's no guarantee that all the buses shown were even in working condition

As we saw in the days after the hurricane, none of the above existed. Again, the responsibility of the state and locals. As for the Feds I hate to think it takes that long to realize that the locals can't hack it, time for us to step to the plate.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #137 on: September 14, 2005, 11:19:26 AM »

Sorry, not buying.  This storm was seen coming well in advance and the mayor COMPLETELY fornicated up with exceedlingly last minute response.  

Forgive me if this is a repost, but have you seen this?


=============

The Best-Laid Plan: Too Bad It Flopped
By DAVID BROOKS
Among the many achievements of the human race - Chartres Cathedral, the Mona Lisa - surely the New Orleans emergency preparedness plan must rank among the greatest, and the fact that this plan turned out to be irrelevant to reality should not detract from its stature as a masterpiece of bureaucratic thinking.

The plan (which is viewable online at
www.cityofno.com/portal.aspx?portal=46&tabid=26) begins with the insight: Be prepared. Or as the plan puts it, "Individuals with assigned tasks must receive preparatory training to maximize operations."

The plan lays out a course of action so that all personnel will know exactly
what to do in case of a hurricane. The Office of Emergency Preparedness will coordinate with the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness in
conjunction with the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan by taking full advantage of the courses offered by the Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Association and other agencies "as well as conferences, seminars and workshops that may from time to time be available, most notably state hurricane conferences and workshops and the National Hurricane Conference."

In addition, the plan continues, the administrative and training officer of
the Office of Emergency Preparedness will maintain close communication with the state training officer of the L.O.E.P., making sure workshops are
conducted at the Emergency Support Function level, reviewing Emergency
Operating Center/E.S.F. standard operating procedures and undertaking more "intensive work sessions with elements of the emergency response
organizations in order to enhance unified disaster planning."

One can imagine the PowerPoint presentations! The millions of cascading
bullet points! The infinity of hours spent planning a hurricane response
that would make a Prussian officer gasp with reverence!

Furthermore, the plan instructs the O.E.P. director to execute Mass Casualty Incidents scenarios; work with the Association of Contingency Planners and other groups to coordinate disaster organization responses; coordinate, facilitate and encourage other agencies to conduct emergency
self-assessments; engage in assessment processes in preparation for the
Agency Disaster Report; and produce after-action reports with the O.E.P.
shelter coordinator in conjunction with the Louisiana Statewide Hurricane
Exercise.

The paper flow must have been magnificent! The quality of the facilitating
must have been surpassed only by the magnificence of the interfacing!

The New Orleans emergency preparedness plan offers a precise communications strategy, so all city residents will know exactly where to go in times of crisis. It recommends that two traffic control officers be placed at each key intersection. It recommends busing the thousands of residents unable to evacuate themselves to staging areas prestocked with food.

In short, the plan was so beautiful, it's too bad reality destroyed it. The
plan's authors were not stupid or venal. They are doubtless good public
servants who worked in agencies set up to prepare for this storm. And yet
their elaborate plan crumbled under the weight of the actual disaster.

But of course this illustrates the paradox at the heart of the Katrina
disaster, which is that we really need government in times like this, but
government is extremely limited in what it can effectively do.

Katrina was the most anticipated natural disaster in American history, and
still government managed to fail at every level.

For the brutal fact is, government tends toward bureaucracy, which means
elaborate paper flow but ineffective action. Government depends on planning, but planners can never really anticipate the inevitable complexity of events. And American government is inevitably divided and power is inevitably devolved.

For example, the Army Corps of Engineers had plenty of money (Louisiana
received more than any other state), but that spending was carved up into
little pork barrel projects. There were ample troops nearby to maintain
order, but they were divided between federal and state authorities and
constrained by regulations.

This preparedness plan is government as it really is. It reminds us that
canning Michael Brown or appointing some tough response czar will not change the endemic failures at the heart of this institutional collapse.

So of course we need limited but energetic government. But liberals who
think this disaster is going to set off a progressive revival need to
explain how a comprehensive governmental failure is going to restore
America's faith in big government.
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prentice crawford
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« Reply #138 on: September 14, 2005, 12:51:54 PM »

The levees were built in 1927 mainly to protect New Orleans from the yearly floods of the Mississippi River. Since that time plans were drawn up to increase the number of levees and shore up areas that were considered unable to withstand a direct hit from a major hurricane. The Army Corps of Engineers tried numerous times to implement those plans during the 50s and 60s. They were sued by enviromentalist who said wetlands would be adversely affected by these new levees and the shoreing up of old levees. They won.
                                     WOOF P.C. embarassed
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SB_Mig
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« Reply #139 on: September 14, 2005, 12:52:18 PM »

In short, the plan was so beautiful, it's too bad reality destroyed it. The
plan's authors were not stupid or venal. They are doubtless good public
servants who worked in agencies set up to prepare for this storm. And yet
their elaborate plan crumbled under the weight of the actual disaster.


Best paragraph I've read yet. I shudder to think of what Los Angeles County's emergency plan looks like.

Amazing how reality will step in and kick you in the face no matter what the "plan". Mother Nature has a great way of showing us who's really the boss.

As for:

"But liberals who think this disaster is going to set off a progressive revival need to explain how a comprehensive governmental failure is going to restore America's faith in big government."

To me, the disaster is a perfect example of how little we can rely on any sized government when the **** hits the giant, high speed fan.

And did anyone ever have faith in big government?  wink
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #140 on: September 14, 2005, 03:35:09 PM »

Actually quite a few people did and do.  Amongst them is the junior senator from NY who sought to nationalize the 14.7% of GDP that is health care when her husband was president.
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rogt
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« Reply #141 on: September 14, 2005, 03:44:03 PM »

Tom,

Quote

Woof, I agree. Bush did take the blame on the Federal level. The head
of Fema (Brown) stepped down. Is that what you had in mind Rog?


Five of the top eight FEMA officials had little or no professional
experience in managing emergency services or disaster relief.
"Brownie" was director of judging for the Arabian Horse Association
before joining FEMA. Three of the five top officials for operations in
natural disasters and nine of ten regional directors were working in
an acting capacity.

I wouldn't say the disaster is all Bush's fault, but I think he
appointed "Brownie" and all these other unqualified hacks to FEMA
positions as a reward for their past service in one or both of his
election campiagns, figuring they'd never actually have to do anything
and if some real emergency did come up, he could simply replace them
with people who actually knew what they were doing.

Given what thousands of people from New Orleans are looking at as
a result of the disaster, it's hard for me to have much sympathy for Brown,
who'll no doubt return to an otherwise wealthy, comfortable existence.

Rog
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buzwardo
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« Reply #142 on: September 14, 2005, 04:14:36 PM »

Quote
I wouldn't say the disaster is all Bush's fault, but I think he
appointed "Brownie" and all these other unqualified hacks to FEMA
positions as a reward for their past service in one or both of his
election campiagns, figuring they'd never actually have to do anything
and if some real emergency did come up, he could simply replace them
with people who actually knew what they were doing.


Let's not forget that "Brownie" was vetted by 535 professional second guessers in congress. These days as we're being endlessly reminded about the solemn advise and consent role of congress as nominee Roberts gets the dog and pony show rolled out, let's be sure to take these procedural pontificates at their word. If they have a duty to examine things before the vote then they have an obligation to shoulder the blame after it.
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Howling Dog
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« Reply #143 on: September 14, 2005, 05:54:06 PM »

Woof Rog, No argument, "Brownie" was a screw up and apparently appointed on the buddie system.
I would even venture to say that in this day and age, Bush made a totally irresponsible choice in what proved to be a position that did in the end really matter. I would even go one step further and say, If Bush was truly concerned with protecting America in the war on terror he would have chosen for the head of FEMA a better qualified person. Just for fun I will say.......maybe Bush didn't thikn the guy could be THAT incompetent. wink
Iam sure all the Bush haters will exploit this to the MAX.
                                             Tom
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prentice crawford
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« Reply #144 on: September 15, 2005, 09:49:56 AM »

Just a reminder,
  Brownie, had already responded to three major hurricane relief efforts and was highly praised for his oversight of  FEMA during those events. He was however, blamed for makeing some pay outs to quickly, resulting in some fraud. Oh how soon we forget. wink
                                             Woof P.C.
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rogt
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« Reply #145 on: September 15, 2005, 12:08:01 PM »

As an example of what it means to "take responsibility", the state of Louisiana is bringing charges of negligent homicide against the owners of a nursing home in which 34 patients drowned in the flooding.  Louisiana's Attorney General is quoted as saying "They were repeatedly warned that this storm was coming.  In effect, their inaction resulted in the deaths of these people."

The nearby Memorial Medical Center contained the bodies of 45 other patients who died from exposure to the heat while waiting for a rescue that didn't come for days.  The corpses of dozens more people who died waiting for a delayed rescue were pulled out of the Superdome and Convention Center, and who knows how many more will be recovered from the rest of city.

If the nursing home owners are in fact guilty of negligence that resulted in the deaths of patients who weren't evacuated, then why isn't the Bush administration just as guilty of inaction that resulted in a lot more deaths?
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Howling Dog
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« Reply #146 on: September 15, 2005, 12:18:25 PM »

Woof, Good luck with that thought Rog. I suppose the same case could be made MORE for the mayor of N.O. since I view him more DIRECTLY responsible to the citzens of N.O.

Prentice, Its not a matter of what Brownie did in the past, but the fact that he never got into the Katrina game, shoot bro. he never got off the bench.

I think that was quite eveident when they wouldn't even allow him to speak to the press. huh
                                                Tom
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buzwardo
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« Reply #147 on: September 15, 2005, 01:14:33 PM »

Perhaps this piece speaks to FEMA's priorities. Not exactly the way I'd triage things. . . .

FEMA to the Rescue
The essentials prep work.
John Derbyshire

[On seeing the suffering caused by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, a close friend of mine contacted his local FEMA office to offer his services as a volunteer. He was told to report the following morning for an Orientation Class. All volunteers, he was told, must complete this class before being sent into the disaster area. My friend kindly provided me with a copy of the class schedule. I have reproduced the first two pages of the schedule below.]

Week One: The Volunteer as Citizen

Day 1: Diversity Awareness

The area affected by Hurricane Katrina includes a diverse population of many ethnicities, national origins, immigrations statuses, and faith traditions. In carrying out relief work, it is important that our workers and volunteers exhibit proper sensitivity to relief recipients from all backgrounds. Volunteers will undergo appropriate training, including the ?privilege walk,? basic Spanish-language instruction, and brief study of passages from the Q?u?r?a?n, the Bhagavad Gita, the Dhammachakkappavattana Sutra, and the collected speeches of Marcus Garvey.

Day 2: Harassment Awareness

Volunteers working with FEMA employees come under the scope of federal rules on sexual harassment, as set out in relevant EEOC guidelines. These guidelines will be reviewed and discussed. All volunteers must demonstrate full awareness of sexual harassment issues, both as they apply to other aid workers and volunteers, and as affecting aid recipients. Class events will include a taped lecture by Prof. Anita Hill, class staging of a one-act drama Tailhook Torment, and the ever-popular Packwood Pi?ata.

Day 3: Profiling Avoidance

Few behaviors give more offense, and few are as inimical to social harmony, as profiling. In our efforts to restore the social environment in the disaster area, we must strenuously avoid all appearance of profiling. All aid recipients must be dealt with on a basis of strict equality. In this workshop, attendees will study and discuss police profiling on the New Jersey Turnpike, airport security screening procedures, and the maligh effects of stereotyping on academic performance. This day?s session also includes a one-hour written test to screen volunteers for Islamophobia.

Day 4: GLBTQA Awareness

Our country has a dark record of oppression and discrimination towards orientational minorities. Because of this, we need to show particular sensitivity towards aid recipients from the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, questioning, and asexual minorities. This day?s session will involve group case studies led by qualified, credentialed GLBTQA-awareness trainers, including HIV-positive persons. Rubber gloves, condoms, and dental dams will be supplied.

Day 5: Liability Awareness

While the federal government and its agencies are exempt from most liability issues, volunteers who are not federal employees need to be aware of their susceptibility to lawsuits alleging nuisance, negligence, trespass, etc. Experienced courtroom professionals will address the class, and there will be a case study: ?Punishing Good Deeds ? The Good Samaritan as Defendant.?

Week Two: The Volunteer as Custodian of the Environment

Day 1: Diversity in Nature ? Protecting Endangered Species.

When conducting disaster-relief operations, we must bear in mind that the environment exists not only for humans, but for our friends in the animal and vegetable kingdoms. Wetland species are especially vulnerable?
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prentice crawford
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« Reply #148 on: September 15, 2005, 02:02:30 PM »

Hey Tom,
  Brownie, didn't know what effect  the levee failing would have on the situation. He was getting his info from the locals who didn't know how bad it was. When I heard the levee had failed, My first thought was, well most of the people are out. Sure he F up but who didn't.
                                      Woof P.C.
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prentice crawford
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« Reply #149 on: September 15, 2005, 03:57:02 PM »

Hey Guys,
 I didn't notice any post that pointed out that the Coast Guard was there early and very effective in their efforts not only in New Orleans but the entire zone of destruction along the coast. I'm thinking that instead of big government agencies running the show maybe the Coast Guard should call the shots in future disasters of this nature: afterall it's what they do everyday.
                                    Woof P.C.
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