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Friday, September 09, 2005
THE TIME HAS COME THE WALRUS SAID
or, OF PRINTING AND DISASTER MANAGEMENT
OF CABBAGES AND KINGS (Part II)
Part II: Legally Tender
"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job," quoth Bush on September 2 (or Katrina plus five).
I am reminded of the old saw that Mussolini made the trains run on time. Recently I learned the back story, and it applies here: the "reason" that the trains "ran on time" was that Mussolini made it a felony to say that they weren't running on time. Thus, "the trains ran on time."
But they didn't.
And the whitewash -- as we have seen earlier -- has poured forth in buckets and barrels.
But the whitewash hasn't. Washed, I mean. Just look at the Homeland Security website:
Preparing America [Statement from 2002]It's been a cascading clusterf*** from the moment that NOAA noted Tropical Depression 12 forming in the Western Atlantic on August 23:
TROPICAL DEPRESSION TWELVE
1 NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
AL122005 2100Z TUE AUG 23 2005
AT 5 PM EDT...2100Z...
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE BAHAMAS HAS ISSUED A TROPICAL WARNING STORM WARNING FOR THE CENTRAL AND NORTHWESTERN BAHAMAS.
A TROPICAL STORM OR HURRICANE WATCH MAY BE REQUIRED FOR PORTIONS OF SOUTHERN FLORIDA LATER TONIGHT.
TROPICAL DEPRESSION CENTER LOCATED NEAR 23.2N 75.5W AT 23/2100Z POSITION ACCURATE WITHIN 30 NM
The dithering and idiocy has continued each day since, like a gremlin-blighted print job.
I should note here that a "cascading CF" is an order of magnitude in the vast spectrum of f***-upedness.
The first level is the simple f***-up.
The next level is the SNAFU, which is an old military acronym meaning "Situation Normal: All F***-ed Up." This indicates a more generalized f***-upedness, and is, thus, superior to the mere f***-up.
The next, and formerly highest echelon of f***-upedness is the FUBAR, which means "F***-Up'ed Beyond All Recognition."
But, as we have seen with Katrina, there are even higher magnitude of disaster than we have been used to.
Thus, a systemic, and snowballing FUBAR becomes a Cascading CF.
And the Katrina-inspired, Bush-administered cascading CF has been slamming through every level of the emergency management heirarchy with a ferocity only matched by the natural disaster itself.
The latest has been the plan to give "hurricane victims" each a $2000 debit card.
I know that a lot of you would go in the obvious direction of recognizing that this is a sort of typical Bush response: hand them money, and maybe they'll stop complaining. Remember the child-checks?
But I'd like to take it in a different direction: DEBIT CARDS?
I mean, we ARE a sovereign nation and we print up our own money. On that money, there is a notation that "THIS NOTE IS LEGAL TENDER FOR ALL DEBTS, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE."
We also print up scrip -- sort-of money that can only be used for specific purposes, like food stamps.
I suppose that I can even understand or project the reason for handing out "debit cards" but I have a little problem with that.
You see, debit cards AREN'T legal tender. They are bank cards (it will be interesting to see who services the cards). And, since I suppose that they won't be able to access ATM machines for cash (else, why the debit cards?), why are We, the People, issuing non-legal tender plastic?
What? We can't issue our own money, scrip, etc.? We are so impotent as a nation that first we have to bribe those we have so grotesquely abused through our inaction, and thence we will have private bankers issue the bribes?
Great leaping horny toads.
Which raises the obvious question: Bush has now asked for and/or gotten a little less than $64 billion for hurricane recovery. Given their track record, is there much doubt that this money will be channeled to GOP "contractors" through the conduit of 'recovery'? Halliburton is already in the enrichment stakes, with a contract to rebuild all the military bases damaged in the hurricane; and a contract to provide an "independent" assessment of certain infrastructure damage.
You might note that previously, Halliburton had received several Pentagon contracts because THEY were the only company that could fulfill bidding specifications -- which they had been previously contracted to write. One wonders whether their new specifications will produce the same happy results. (And Deadeye Dick Cheney continues to receive six figures in deferred income from Halliburton each year he has been Veep, all the while claiming that of COURSE there is no impropriety. After all, you can TRUST him, right? I mean with all his great integrity, who could impugn his receipt of that cash, along with no prohibition of his going BACK to Halliburton as CEO after he leaves office in early 2009? Who could POSSIBLY consider this the "appearance of impropriety"?)
And, in yet another manifestation of the cascading CF, the amazing one-man news service MichaelP reports:
After a week of attempts to provide a low power FM broadcast service for the persons concentrated at the Astrodome, and with FCC authorization to broadcast from a transmitter - FEMA has denied authorization - those trying to install this facility included Houston IndyMedia, Prometheus Radio and Pacifica.
Censorship? I mean, why would an administration that is now discouraging the news crews from photographing corpses want to censor anyone? I mean the truth is in their best interest, right? Right? Do you mean to say that "candor" ISN'T their watchword?
The wheel's a-spinning, but the hamster done died.
So, as the whitewash continues to gush forth, the cascading CF moves past mere SNAFU, ever further into the realm of world-class FUBAR.
A realm increasingly familiar to the present administration.
"He who can take no great interest in what is small will take false interest in what is great." -- John Ruskin
Note: This was written before today's announcement that debit cards won't be given out after all. This was followed by the news that Oregon -- which was going to receive one thousand New Orleans refugees, and then was not going to receive ANY refugees, and then was told to "hold" -- is now going to receive five hundred refugees, but no details were forthcoming. And the day began with FEMA head Michael Brown being recalled to Washington D.C. and the revelations, courtesy of TIME magazine that his "official" resume was filled with bogus positions, evidently never held or non-existent. A rear admiral of the Coast Guard is now in charge, and the cascading CF continues its cascadence. And the beat goes on.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
THE TIME HAS COME THE WALRUS SAID
or, OF PRINTING AND DISASTER MANAGEMENT
OF CABBAGES AND KINGS (Part I)
Back when I was an Art Director, and designing record album covers and re-engineering other jobs that came through our print shop, I noticed an interesting phenomenon. When I pointed it out to my boss, Jim, who had been raised a printer, he assured me that it was true.
When a job came in with a mistake, or there was a screwup, the "gremlin" remained with the job all the way through the print shop: through typesetting, printout, pasteup, stats, plate burning, printing and gluing (in the case of album covers) or binding, folding and other packaging.
The mistake just kept cascading, all the way through the process.
And that seems to be what's happening with the response to Katrina.
I know that a lot of people are beginning to ascribe malice and even dark motivations to the FEMA post-disaster disaster. But I've also found that just as much evil is done through incompetence as through volitional malice. In other words: ineptitude kills just as many people as villainy.
And, it's unnecessary to bring willfulness into the equation to understand it. Occam's Razor suggests that the simplest explanation is the best.
In the case of the alien ship, it might well BE that the charred tree was the result of extraterrestrial skullduggery, but without additional, convincing evidence to the contrary, parsimony works best. We have no justification of Occam's Razor, but as an analytical tool, it's worked beautifully for over seven centuries.
It may well BE that the Bushies had dark designs on New Orleans: that the recent Supreme Court ruling on eminent public domain had given them the leverage necessary to rebuild the Big Easy as a theme park and remove the "riff-raff" and the rabble. There may have been dark racist subtexts. There may have been any number of malefic designs, but Occam's Razor suggests that sheer incompetence is sufficient to explain the blackened tree trunk.
The cascading effect of the FEMA screwups continues, as the official "spin" has been proven false, again and again. One of these, of course, was that NO ONE COULD HAVE ANTICIPATED the flooding.
Which is demonstrably incompetent, given that Condoleeeeza Rice got caught in that selfsame lie in front of the Congress when she was forced to read the title of the PDB "Osama bin Laden Determined to Strike inside US." She had claimed that NO ONE COULD HAVE ANTICIPATED the 9/11 hijacking scenario. And she got caught, and has been caught over and over again. (She referred -- in one of my favorite Stoopid Sayings of the XXIst Century -- to "traditional hijackings" in her since-deconstructed denial).
Having been caught once in a Stoopid Lie, you'd think that Bush's appearance on ABC's Good Morning America -- on the First Day of Operation PR Blitz -- would have conscientiously eschewed the "no one could have known" lie. But, unable or unwilling to change tactics, President Apocalypse made the statement anyway.
That is not malice. That is incompetence.
Here, the beginning of an October 2004 National Geographic article, "Gone With the Water," a lengthy piece about Louisiana's vanishing wetlands. (Surely SOMEone in the administration reads it. Certainly Incurious George has looked at the pictures, one would hope.):
It was a broiling August afternoon in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Big Easy, the City That Care Forgot. Those who ventured outside moved as if they were swimming in tupelo honey. Those inside paid silent homage to the man who invented air-conditioning as they watched TV "storm teams" warn of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Nothing surprising there: Hurricanes in August are as much a part of life in this town as hangovers on Ash Wednesday.
On the September 1 broadcast of ABC's Good Morning America, President Bush acted as though the breach of the levees was an unforeseeable fluke occurrence: "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." [emphasis added](http://mediamatters.org/items/200509020001 )
Bush needed no urging to say this stupid thing. He walked directly into the propeller blade of this national disgrace entirely of his own volition.
And that's not malicious as much as it is stupid.
Note that from Day One the screwups and foulups have snowballed at every step of the process. Look at all the stories beginning to emerge about the assistance turned away, about the first responders ordered not to respond, of the August 27th request for emergency assistance from FEMA and the Homeland Security and FEMA response on September 1 and following that they hadn't been asked for help.
Indeed, arguably, he only thing that -- in Bush's words -- "went right" in the Hurricane Response was the massive effort on the part of GOPeratives to distribute whitewash, which they have outdone themselves in.
PR Blitz ContinuesAnd, after yesterday's announcement that there WOULDN'T be a House hearing on the cascading CF of Katrina response (following a previous day's announcement that there WOULD be), the story has changed yet again.
People are still stranded, and still dying, but we ALREADY have a "bipartisan" commission to "investigate" and Bush's appointment of Deadeye Dick Cheney to head an "investigation" of what went right and what went wrong.
Of course, the Congressional investigation is a joint House-Senate enterprise, and the committee Democrats have no subpoena powers, so I think we can safely conclude as to what the "findings" will be.
The Right Wing Megaphones are out in force, as they push the twin mendacities of 1) Finger pointing is pointless and 2) it's the fault of those who didn't evacuate. Whole lotta whitewash on that fence there, Tom.
Yeah. They're "problem solvers" all right.
It's strange to me that an Administration that could name a successor to William Rehnquist even before his corpse was cold, and long before it was buried, couldn't respond to the Katrina aftermath with any dispatch. But they sure got their Excuse-O-Matic revved up in a New York minute, didn't they?
For a quick, fairly complete timeline of the first week, go to: http://www.thinkprogress.org/katrina-timeline
For a detailed timeline, go to: http://www.dkosopedia.com/index.php/Hurricane_Katrina_Chronology
These facts have been repeated enough elsewhere that it's pointless to go into them here.
(Tomorrow: Part II, Legally Tender)
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
IMPEACH PRESIDENT APOCALYPSE, NOW!
or, LEND A NEW SHEEN TO A TARNISHED COMMAND
or, THE HORROR, THE HORROR
They've given Incurious George a new nickname in Europe, and this one may well stick. Ironic, considering Bush's penchant for nicknames (cf. "Turdblossom," "Pootie Poot" et al). The nickname?
In an article of the same title at the MIRROR (UK),
3 September 2005But the term has been in use for some time.
from The Smirking Chimp
Re: Paul Krugman: 'George Bush: Weak on terror' (Score: 1)But this has been a chaotic day for President Apocalypse. Spinning into the ether, he has adopted a self-righteous, almost personally WOUNDED personna, now in High Moral Dudgeon, going to "investigate" this whole affair, with Himself leading the investigation ... of himself?
I am not making this up.
Tonight, the House of Representatives hastily cancelled their hearings on the cluster-f***, with Speaker Hastert's boss, Tom DeLay claiming that it would be counterproductive to be cross-examining those who are "saving lives." Oh, and it's the fault of the state and local officials, not the Feds.
So now they're NOT going to investigate ... Himself?
Truly I am not making this up.
"This is Dante's Inferno, Bill! I have never seen anything like it in a civilized nation!" Geraldo Rivera (real name: Jerry Rivers) on the Bill O'Reilly (real name: Mud) show on Faux Nooz (real name: Ministry of Propaganda).
Frank Rich, in the New York TIMES came up with the same slant as our Thursday, September 1 column:Yes. And German TV network caught the Bushies assembling and then dissasembling (after dissembling, naturally) an emergency aid station for their photo-ops. And the Germans know something about governmental propaganda, after all.
transcript and translation for the video link
TRANSLATIONAnd, of course, the White House is continuing the redux of the old Iraq spin by claiming that blaming them for screwing up the relief effort will screw up the relief effort. In other words, even if we screwed up -- which we haven't said that we did -- CRITICIZING us for screwing up will cause us to screw up, so it's YOUR fault if you criticize us:
Jennifer Loven, AP
Does this column seem chaotic?
It is. So has the entire day been.
The world press has been having a field day with the Bushies' well deserved reputation for arrogance:
Story from BBC NEWS:
World press: Katrina 'testing US'And, finally, from the players themselves (courtesy of the AP):
(09-06) 02:47 PDT (AP) --The problem seems to be not that they screwed up, but that they decided to COVER IT UP, and, from Nixon we learned that, in American politics, THAT is the cardinal sin.
Of course, the ham-handed and laughable manner in which they've floated leaden lie after lie, all easily refutable, all contradicted by the record, and all as phony as a three-dollar bill hasn't helped them any.
Still, why are they STILL spending all their time doing PR spin, when they NEED to be dealing, albeit tardily, with the issue at hand.
They are flailing about, expending all their institutional energies on DEFENDING themselves, when those evident organization abilities could be put to humanitarian and non-fatality-inducing ends.
You will note, by the by, that the Bush Administration has passed, recently, the milestone wherein one US soldier has died for every day that Bush has been in office. Now, hurricane victims will undoubtedly dwarf that number. Ten thousand is now being bandied about, but it could go much higher.
But then, as pointed out last week: this group doesn't know how to govern. They only know how to campaign. You know: like this one -- No finger-pointing, if you please!
Monday, September 05, 2005
SIXTY SECONDS WITH MR. BUSH
or, WHAT I'D SAY WERE I GRANTED A ROYAL AUDIENCE
The other day on our local AirAmerica affiliate, KOPT, they were asking the question, "If you could have one minute with Bush, what would you say?"
Well, I tend to do little sound-bitey bits and the following day was Friday, my weekly gig on Nancy Stapp's morning show, and so I did it a little more formally.
You can download the FM-Quality MP3 by clicking below (471 kbytes):
Here's the text:
Mr. Bush, first, let me say that you certainly take after your mother.
I'd talk about the report on German TV that today's CNN photo op of Bush in Baton Rouge talking to refugees by a "food distribution" station was preceded by the construction of said "food distribution" station and FOLLOWED by dismanting of same, except that I'm too angry to write intelligibly.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
DOES 'PREDICTABLE' = 'ROBOTIC'?
or, ANOTHER CRISIS; ANOTHER PHOTO-OP
As predicted earlier this morning, the following photograph is up on the White House Website:
or, JESUS WEPT
I have not written for two days because I have been nonplussed, stunned into silence. I have been thunderstruck, astonished, stunned, flabbergasted, dumfounded.
But while I still seem to inhabit a strange nightmare landscape, as the images of New Orleans continue to bombard the airwaves, I now can find voice, if only a weak and shell-shocked growl.
First, though, I had to ask myself a simple question to put it into perspective: do we, the U.S.A. have the capability, the resources and the cojones to deal with the aftermath of the hurricane?
Well, we clearly have the capability and the resources. Evidently, the only thing we're lacking is cojones. Or, rather, the Castrato-in-Thief lacks them.
I grew up among engineers, and I learned that they tend to divide the world into two classes: those who can get the job done, and those who make excuses. George and his Merry Band of Plunderers (a/k/a "The Pillage People) make excuses when we have the resources -- that are not getting to New Orleans -- and we have the capability -- that is not getting to New Orleans.
We even have the cojones. But like a plugged toilet, the water keeps rising, while the executives clog the pipes.
And so I have watched, as a NEW federal agency, of whose existence I had been formerly unaware, sprang into action on Friday: the Federal Public Relations Emergency Management Authority.
In rapid-fire succession, they were everywhere: arranging for CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr to ride along with the "relief convoy," arranging a "walking tour" for our lead Castrato, followed by venerable castrati Haley Barbour (a misspelling of "barbarian") and Trent Lott -- whose house had been, alas, swept away.
The Castrato-in-Thief waxed eloquent about how Lott's house would be restored -- betraying the true values running his compassion, perhaps. And, nauseatingly, he arranged group hugs for the TV cameras, as the Presidential ass managed to position itself front-and-center in all the shots. Perhaps it is the reverse-speech equivalent in body language. The image meant to be portrayed is understandable by most anthropoids: hugging. It is the same mechanism that sends politicians out in every even numbered year to kiss babies.
But, significantly, the other, obvious image shewn is that of the Presidential ass mooning us gleefully, which is, in a sense what they were doing.
Michael Chertoff, the Oberstgruppenfuhrer of the Department of Fatherland Sekurity had the gall to bald-facedly PRAISE the job that FEMA was doing, even while he was explaining that this was too titanic for mere mortals, and that in the face of this apocalyptic event, no one could have done better, and how he's proud of his department.
Worse, the "relief convoy" was highly telegenic, and happened to exactly coincide with our Simian President's nurturing poses.
Funny how he's got time to walk around the streets hugging seeming man-in-the-street folks (do you doubt that they're carefully screened?) but no time to attend to the problem itself. He is posing and posturing -- as is Barbour, as is Lott -- even though I noticed that the National Guard is offloading planes by the old-fashioned human chain technique.
When John Adams was president, there was a fire at the Executive Office Building, across from the new -- as-yet unburned by the British -- White House. President Adams arose and took his place in the bucket brigade. But then, George and Trent and Haley are far too important to do stuff like that. Indeed, Adams had also done the same when he was Vice President and the seat of government was in Philadelphia.
On Faux News, Geraldo Rivera was shamelessly pimping for the propaganda machine, breathlessly showing guardsmen sweeping up trash and feces. (I am not making this up, so help me ghod.) The man was positively giddy as he described this incredible event. He didn't know whether they'd done it of their own initiative, or if they'd been ordered to do it. And, somehow, in sheerest Dream Logic, Geraldo Rivera (real name Jerry Rivers) projected a great movement, as all the suffering peoples of N'Awleans pitched in to help and the corner had been turned. He announced (and again, I am NOT making a bit of this up) that "The Rebirth of New Orleans has begun!)
And I note that the image below was that of four or five men in camouflage, pushing brooms across a parking lot.
But that was not enough.
He had an "EXCLUSIVE" interview with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who was there "as a doctor, not a senator" although that language began to parse itself into a more Washingtonese "I am here more in a medical capacity than in a governmental capacity."
For whose conundrum I might have resolved with the more elegant (and more precise): "I am here on a P.R. mission."
To show the "face" of an AWOL administration, of course. Condi Rice has been yanked off her Broadway Show and shoe-buying spreee (sic) in Manhattan to visit Alabama or Mississippi ("where she GREW UP!") to counter her earlier "Fox pas" (sic) of having a woman removed from her shoe-store-buying place by security for having had the temerity to shriek at her: "What are you doing here, buying shoes, when those people in New Orleans are dying?"
Secretary of State Rice's witty verbal riposte is not found in the record, but it must have gone something like this: "I am here to buy comfortable shoes for my mission of compassion and to have you physically ejected from this shoe store. Security!"
The Cabinet will fan out all across the devastated landscape to put their best face forward (literally) and deal decisively with the incipient Public Relations tragedy.
One has to wonder at an administration that can move so forcefully -- they had recaptured the news cycle within 24 hours (including one golf round in Washington D.C., according to Greg Palast) of Bush's arrival from San Diego. They had their talking points out: "This is no time for finger-pointing," and the term "finger-pointing" seems to have momentarily supplanted "up or down vote" as the phrase du jour amongst the minions of the Castrato.
The blatant substitution of Soviet-style 'happy news' for those more real images of corpses, looting and a city abandoned to human misery, oppressive heat and an utter lack of the basic necessities of human existence, including water, food and elemental sanitation has already begun.
Tomorrow morning, on the Sunday shows, the usual suspects will be out in force, turning the mishandling of a disaster (which means that it has turned from misfortune to tragedy) into the very reason WHY we should not criticize the incompetents who precipitated the tragedy.
Let's face it: for five full days, the official administration position was "Let them loot cake."
They seem to have lost their heads, figuratively.
But now, in Day 2 of "Operation P.R. Blitz" I would caution them that the last time such a policy was effected, those in charge lost their heads over it, literally.
And, like Marie Antoinette, Laura Bush was dispatched to show the radiance and beneficence of the son of the Son-King. Well, the son of something-or-other, at least.
[Oh, and I guarantee you that the White House will have a photo of Bush and/or Laura Bush holding a cute black child for their P.R. push. Regular followers of that site will not be surprised. It is chief among their favorite stunts.]
WE'VE MOVED! Click here: http://www.hartwilliams.com/blog/blogger.html
* O T H E R S T U F Fo There is no other stuff at this time. There might be someday, though. One can always hope.