Friday, September 30, 2005

Saving Fuel in Formation

It's strange but true that a friend of mine at NASA actually worked on the research described in this article:

Migrating birds, including geese, pelicans and gulls, have long demonstrated the art of efficient flight by positioning themselves in a "V" formation. This allows each trailing bird within in the V to coast in the wake of the bird just ahead.

If birds can do it, researchers have asked, then why not planes?

Schkolnik estimates that V-formation flying can save up to 12 percent in fuel costs. Those savings could jump as high as 20 percent if airplanes are designed specifically for formation flying.

"If you can find where that upward wind is and put your airplane in it, you are essentially riding a wave," Dick Ewers, a retired Marine Corps pilot, explained in a 2001 NASA press release on the developing technology.

...a team of engineers at Dryden, the University of California at Los Angeles, Boeing, NASA Ames and NASA Langley began developing technology in the late 1990s that would allow pilots to safely lock into the draft of a plane in front of them and hitch a virtually fuel-free ride.

I remember my pal Bruce describing this to me several years ago and thinking at the time that while this would probably work with cargo airplanes, passengers would never accept it.

Well, they may have to, if they want to keep flying.

Let's Get a Novelist to Testify!

What with Michael Crichton testifying on global warming to a Senate committee, perhaps they could follow with Alistair Reynolds testifying about space travel. Problem being, of course, that Reynolds is a sane and sound man (a working scientist for ESA, in fact), where Crichton has for a long while been a nut. Now a global-warming denier, he's been an AIDS denier previously, stentoriously announcing in the 80s that AIDS was not a problem for straight people. His views on AIDS have been pretty much forgotten now (you'd probably need a LEXIS/NEXIS subscription to dig them up online at this point), but they illuminate the unsoundness of his beliefs on global warming.

Snore

I suppose we will now have to endure "My Imprisonment," a noble story of fortitude and courage, by Judy Miller, now that she is going to testify to the grand jury investigating the Valerie Plame "outing." The one good thing is that it now appears that "Scooter" Libby is going to go down alongside his pal Karl Rove. God knows prison couldn't happen to two "nicer" guys.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Bug Man

Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy, eh?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Wiki Wacki

In The Onion today:

Congress scrapped the open-source, open-edit, online version of the Constitution Monday, only two months after it went live. "The idea seemed to dovetail perfectly with our tradition of democratic participation," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said. "But when so-called 'contributors' began loading it down with profanity, pornography, ASCII art, and mandatory-assault-rifle-ownership amendments, we thought it might be best to cancel the project."

It's a Croissant!

The usual right wing dingbats got all titterpated when they saw that the proposed Flight 93 memorial was crescent shaped. Well, a lot of things are crescent-shaped. "Freedom rolls," for one thing (croissants - sorry, couldn't resist). The smoking remains of New Orleans, the Crescent City. That little ventilation slit on the House Out Back. Islam also uses the symbol of a crescent moon, so obviously THAT crescent was more important than any other possible crescent and had to be a liberal PLOT of some kind. Obvious, right?

Well, it turns out that the design was liked by those traitorous loons, the families of the Flight 93 heroes who died in the process of ripping four Muslim lunatics into tiny pieces:

Esther Heymann, whose stepdaughter, Honor Elizabeth Wainio, was killed on Flight 93, said most family members find the design’s recent criticism “insulting,” considering the designs had been on public display for months before “Crescent of Embrace” was selected.

“I’m greatly saddened by it,” Heymann said from her home in Baltimore. “I think there is an overall consensus that the families feel we have been very open and inviting through all of this, long before it reached this point.

“We’re certainly not trying to pay tribute to the terrorists. I find that insulting,” added Heymann, pointing out that red maples are indigenous to Somerset County.

Jack Grandcolas of San Rafael, Calif., whose wife, Lauren, died on Flight 93, agreed.

“I certainly wouldn’t expect the memorial to be a tribute to the hijackers,” he said. “That goes without saying.”

And of course from the right side of the aisle we get this kind of nuttiness:

The Rev. Ron McRae, self-proclaimed bishop of Bible Anabaptist Church near Jerome, brought the controversy to the forefront a day after the design was unveiled last week in Washington.

McRae said Street Preachers Fellowship, based in Lancaster, is preparing to file for an injunction to stop the design.

“I’m not the only one in America that sees that,” he said. “Americans are fed up with terrorism, and we’re not stupid. We’re not all politically correct in trying to appease our enemies.”

What crap. (via)

Brownie

Anyone think Brownie did a "heckuva job" yesterday in front of the Republican congressional investigation? No, me neither.

And a big "Duh!" to the Democrats for (mostly) boycotting it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Expert on Rescuing Horses?

"You're doing a heckuva job, Brownie!" has landed on his feet as - get this - a consultant to FEMA. Now isn't that a sweet deal. Imagine, you get run out on a rail at your previous job, then they hire you back. Neat!

Brown told congressional investigators Monday that he is being paid as a consultant to help FEMA assess what went wrong in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, according to a senior official familiar with the meeting.

That should be pretty easy. All he needs to do is sit there like the blockhead he is, drool a bit, and point at himself.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Search for the Truth

The family of Pat Tillman, the Arizona Cardinals football player who volunteered for the Army after 9/11, continues to search for the truth about his death in Afghanistan. Originally claimed as a heroic death under enemy fire, it turns out Tillman died of friendly fire. It's also interesting to learn that Pat Tillman, the right winger hero, was a well-read independent thinker who was not a fan of the current administration. The article covers the entire long and sordid story of the coverup surrounding Tillman's death in detail and is well worth your time. A little sample:

“I can see it like a movie screen,” Baer said. “We were outside of (a city in southern Iraq) watching as bombs were dropping on the town. We were at an old air base, me, Kevin and Pat, we weren’t in the fight right then. We were talking. And Pat said, ‘You know, this war is so f— illegal.’ And we all said, ‘Yeah.’ That’s who he was. He totally was against Bush.”

He gave his life for his country. His family deserves the entire truth.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Norquist Watch

Mark Kleiman has been watching too:

During the earlier part of the Cold War, ideology was the primary motive for selling this country out to its adversaries, and therefore loudly professed anti-Communism seemed to be a guarantee of loyalty. Later on, that changed; the predominant motivation for disloyalty became money, and Russian spies such as Robert Hanssen used conspicuous conservatism and fanatical anti-Communism as cover. (Some of the money Hanssen took from the Russians went to pay his children's tuition at an Opus Dei school, and he went to the same Latin-Mass church attended by Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Louis Freeh.)

Any serious Islamist agent of influence in today's Washington won't be wearing a black turban; he will wear a two-thousand- dollar suit, an Adam Smith necktie, and an American flag lapel pin. That's the world we live in, and we'd better get used to it.

If we continue to run a money-dominated political system, we will continue to be vulnerable to the purchase of influence by those with access to a slice of the billions of dollars we send abroad to fuel our SUV's. In a hostile world, corruption may cost us a lot more than our money.

Indeed. Grover is not only a bloody parasite, he's probably a traitor too.

Another Airbus "Feature"

Yeah, I have a low opinion of Airbus. Any airplane whose tail falls off under normal usage, any airplane that cheerfully flies itself into a forest during an airshow...well, I don't like them. Presumably this will turn out to be another Airbus "feature":

The landing gear trouble -- the front wheels were stuck in a sideways position -- was discovered almost immediately after the plane departed Bob Hope Airport in Burbank at 3:17 p.m., en route to New York City.

The Airbus A320 circled the Long Beach Airport, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of Burbank, before being cleared to land at Los Angeles. It stayed in flight for three hours to burn off fuel, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Donn Walker

Nosewheel steering gone insane? We'll probably soon see a French press release assuring us that this is either "normal" or "the pilot's fault."

Lots of excited chatter at Airliners.net here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Spam Spam Spam Spam....

At Chaos Manor, a reader has a new take on those spam letters you get from unfortunates in foreign lands:

An Honest Request for Assistance from Your Most Humble Servant in the Name of God

Dearest Sir or Madame,

Good thing to write you. I am sure this comes as a surprise but I have prayed over my selection of your name due to its esteeming nature, and its similarity with the names of many who have, unfortunately, perished by the hand of God, and I hold with the hope that you can be assist me.

I am BROWN MICHAEL, from Oklahoma, USA. While serving as FEMA's Director of Relief Efforts for Hurricane Katrina I came upon the records of an appropriation from the U.S. Congress for US$51.8 billion ($51,800,000,000) in hurricane relief funds that have so far gone unclaimed.

Because of the slow government response, I have been orphaned from my job with FEMA, in which President Bush took me so special. I am now in the process of cleaning out my office, which is messier than an Arabian horse stable. Believe me, I know.

I am looking for an honest God-fearing individual who can assist me with these unclaimed fund. Please to provide me with your bank account information so that we can immediately execute this transfer. In return for your help I will provide you with 20% of the funds as your fee.

I will also need your phone number and any other personal, confidential information you can send me.

Time is of the essence. Please respond my email address immediately, which is MBrown@InflatedResume.com

Praise God, the Most High, that we shall bring righteously these funds to where they may us benefit.

BROWN MICHAEL PhD.

Sounds right to me.

Let's Hope Law & Order Doesn't Base an Episode on This

Euuwwwwww:

Jurors hearing the case against a former judge accused of exposing himself in his Creek County courtroom will be allowed to see the sex toy at the center of the state's allegations, a judge ruled Tuesday in rejecting a defense motion.

They also can hear testimony that a second "penis pump" was seen under former District Judge Donald Thompson's bench, among other evidence Thompson's attorneys sought to have barred from next week's scheduled trial.
...
McCall took other issues raised by Thompson's team under advisement, including testimony from a woman who prosecutors said had a sexual relationship with Thompson and the admission of 180 hours of courtroom tapes they said contained the whooshing sound of the penis pump in use.

I don't think Sam Waterston could keep a straight face prosecuting this case.

This is Not Good

The NOAA National Hurricane Center has issued a new update on Hurricane Rita:

SATELLITE IMAGERY SUGGESTS THAT RITA HAS CONTINUED TO STRENGHTEN AND MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS HAVE INCREASED TO NEAR 135 MPH WITH HIGHER GUSTS. RITA IS NOW A CATEGORY FOUR HURRICANE ON THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON SCALE. A NOAA PLANE WILL CHECK THE INTENSITY LATER THIS MORNING. SOME ADDITIONAL STRENGTHENING IS POSSIBLE DURING THE NEXT 24 HOURS.

Here we go again...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Running Out of Names

This year's hurricane season has been so active that scientists at NOAA are in danger of running out of names. What happens then? The Greek alphabet steps in!

The Atlantic basin has seen 17 named storms since season began June 1, and only four are left on the list.

What's a meteorologist to do if the names run out? Go Greek.

Should the Atlantic see more than 21 named storms "additional storms will take names from the Greek alphabet: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and so on," according to the National Hurricane Center Web site.

"We only have four names left on the list this year: Stan, Tammy, Vince and Wilma. If we have a fifth storm it would be named Alpha," said Daniel Brown, a meteorologist at the center, which is based in Miami, Florida.

At the beginning of each Atlantic storm season, the center publishes a list of 21 storm names. They alternate male and female names in alphabetical order.

The letters Q, U, X, Y and Z are skipped because not enough names start with those letters, Brown said.

Could it happen?

Iraqis Get Well-Deserved Kick in Ass

The British Army has been less and less impressed by the goings-on in Basra, where "liberation" has led to a takeover by various sorts of lunatic extremists. It finally boiled over yesterday into a TV-movie moment in which two British special forces types, arrested and apparently beaten by the local crazies, were freed when armored vehicles smashed down the jail they were held in:

British troops used tanks last night to break down the walls of a prison in the southern Iraqi city of Basra and free two undercover British soldiers who were seized earlier in the day by local police.

An official from the Iraqi interior ministry said half a dozen tanks had broken down the walls of the jail and troops had then stormed it to free the two British soldiers. The governor of Basra last night condemned the "barbaric aggression" of British forces in storming the jail.

Gee, too bad.

Monday, September 19, 2005

How Things Change

Two years ago, British Army Lt. Colonel Tim Collins was a conservative hero for the stirring talk he gave his troops on the eve of the Iraq war:

"We go to liberate not to conquer. We will not fly our flags in their country," he said.

"We are entering Iraq to free a people and the only flag which will be flown in that ancient land is their own. Show respect for them.

"There are some who are alive at this moment who will not be alive shortly. Those who do not wish to go on that journey, we will not send.

"As for the others I expect you to rock their world. Wipe them out if that is what they choose. But if you are ferocious in battle remember to be magnanimous in victory."

Well, Colonel Collins, now retired from the Army, at present sees things rather differently:

One cannot help but wonder what it was all about. If it was part of the war on terror then history might notice that the invasion has arguably acted as the best recruiting sergeant for al-Qaeda ever: a sort of large-scale equivalent of the Bloody Sunday shootings in Derry in 1972, which in its day filled the ranks of the IRA. If it was an attempt to influence the price of oil, then the motorists who queued last week would hardly be convinced. If freedom and a chance to live a dignified, stable life free from terror was the motive, then I can think of more than 170 families in Iraq last week who would have settled for what they had under Saddam. UK military casualties reached 95 last week. I nightly pray the total never reaches 100.

The consequences of this adventure may run even deeper. Hurricane Katrina has caused a reappraisal of the motives and aims of this war in the US. The storm came perhaps in the nick of time as hawks in Washington were glancing towards Iran and its newly found self-confidence in global affairs. Meanwhile, China and India are growing and sucking up every drop of oil, every scrap of concrete or steel even as the old-world powers of the UK and US pour blood and treasure into overseas campaigns which seem to have no ending and no goal.

It is time for our leaders to explain what is going on. It was as a battalion commander trying to explain to his men why they would embark on a war that I came to public notice. The irony is that I made certain assumptions that my goodwill and altruistic motivations went to the top. Clearly I was naive. This time it is the role of the leaders of nations to explain where we are going and why. I, for one, demand to know.

As do we all, Colonel.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Rove

It's kind of surprising to me that Bush putting Karl Rove in charge of disaster reconstruction hasn't attracted more notice. Here's someone less qualified than "You're doing a heckuva job, Brownie" who is now is charge of what is undoubtedly going to become a $200 billion slush fund. Houston, we have a real problem here.

Light Blogging

Power outages, taking the signficant other to work...things like that cut into your blogging time.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Permission Slip

Check this out; Dubya writes a note to Condi (via)

Norquist Watch

Woo hoo! Grover living in a dream world:

Grover Norquist, a conservative activist who advises the White House and congressional Republicans, said he expects the president to assure Americans that the government will complete the job without pork-barrel spending.

"This is a speech to reassure the country it is going to be OK. But we're not going to waste money and we will not be foolish," Norquist said.

ROTFLMAO. Hell, they've already brought in Halliburton and the Blackwater mercenaries. Can Bechtel be far behind? Frack!

Truscott Would Know

Author Lucian K. Truscott IV writes to Mark Kleiman about the makeup of the military officer corps. Houston, we have a very, very dangerous problem:

A little known study of the political opinions of senior military leaders was done by Duke University a few years ago. The study -- of Colonels and above, up to and including 4 star Generals -- revealed that in this time of the volunteer military that some 66% described themselves as conservative Republicans, and something like 5% described themselves as Democrats. The rest described themselves as "independents."

Friends of mine at the Pentagon and in the military at the time the study was done said the real numbers are far worse. One friend, a West Pointer with a Phd. from Harvard who taught me economics at West Point in the late 60's and who recently retired from being an Asst. Secretary of the Army, told me the so called "independents" included savvy senior officers who were actually very conservative Republicans but who realized how it would look if the numbers were "bad" and so labeled themselves as "independents." My friend said the senior military is more likely 90% or more conservative Republican, with few if any independents.

As an aside, I personally know two West Point Captains who were run out of the Army by their senior commanders when it became known that they had voted for Clinton in 1996, so the political leanings of senior officers are not an abstract thing. The far-right leanings of senior military officers have real consequences. If you have any doubt of this, see also the reporting on what you might call the take over of the Air Force Academy --including its most senior leadership -- by fundamentalist Christians in recent months. See also what they did to the one (female) chaplain who dissented from the prevailing wisdom on religion at AFA. She was fired and reassigned and has resigned from the Air Force. One guess which political party the fundamentalist "leaders" of the Air Force Academy belong to.

Dangerous. These are the kind of men who would not blink at a coup, who would not blink at taking an oath to the president rather than the Constitution. Yet another reason for a draft, and for an overhaul of the military academies. This kind of danger to the republic cannot be tolerated in a free society.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

From Brownie to Duct Tape

Now that Michael Brown is going to have to get a real job - something he seems to have never had - a new man is taking charge at FEMA. We've met him before. He's Duct Tape Man!

In another gesture symbolizing the continued confusion of the federal response, the man President Bush immediately named to succeed “Brownie,” proves to have been the same FEMA official who, two-and-a-half years ago, suggested that Americans stock up on duct tape to protect against a biological or chemical terrorist attack.

David Paulison, then the government's Fire Administrator, joined with the then-head of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, on February 10th, 2003, to say that duct tape and plastic sheeting should be part of any home's "survival kit" in preparation for a terrorist attack. That set off a run on duct tape at stores, and widespread criticism of the administration. It might have been the first time after 9/11 that a large number of Americans wondered if the government really knew what it was talking about when it came to disaster preparedness.

Yikes! In all fairness, Paulison seems qualified. But an appropriate gift for his new position would be a roll of visqueen and some duct tape. Get the colored kind; it's more fun.

Idiots. Just Idiots.

Daniel Kurzman collects a passel of inane comments about the hurricane from politicians and reporters here. One sample:

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

Yup, shit happens.

Is It Just Me, Or...

...is John Roberts deeply weird? Not to mention his Stepford Wife and Stepford Children?

Hm.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Enough

There continues to be a large amount of conspiracy theory nonsense on line about the destruction of the World Trade Center towers. Yet another diary at Kos covers the so-called "controlled demolition" of the buildings. Let me take a little of this on:

Do steel frame buildings just collapse neatly down into their own footprint, and, at free-fall speed due to a fire? or heat? When in all of world history has that ever happened before?

The Trade Center towers hardly collapsed "neatly down into their own footprint"s. Aerial photographs of the site show that wreckage from both towers fell all over the area. The Marriott hotel was almost cut in half by wreckage falling from the South Tower (photographed before Tower 1 fell); buildings all over the area ended up with varying degrees of damage, some crushed, others with pieces of WTC steel and facade parts sticking out of them. Controlled demolition is designed specifically to avoid flying wreckage and buildings falling onto other buildings. As for "free fall," it's largely an illusion that the buildings fell that fast, caused by the huge clouds of dust that immediately arose and blanketed the area. Both buildings suffered failures in the impact zones that did cause the tops of the buildings to come down rather quickly, but in both cases study of videos and photographs show that large portions of both buildings survived the initial collapse only to fall some seconds later, including what appears to have been almost the entire central core below the impact zone of Tower Two. These are hardly "neat" textbook-style controlled collapses.

Even the foundation and framing of wood-made houses remain standing after a 1-hour fire.

The 2nd tower fell first even though it had only been on fire for a little over 1 hour. What are you going to believe that the marvelous WTC which were designed to handle tremendous fire, wind, and impact forces simply just fell down like a house of cards from a 1 hour fire?

Indeed, no steel framed building until 9/11 had fallen from fire. But fire was only part of the 9/11 story. The fire was preceded by two large, heavily loaded jet aircraft tearing the guts out of the buildings, severing steel core columns and tearing holes in floors and, perhaps even more importantly, blowing fireproofing off of the steel columns and the trusses that made up the floor system. After impact, the buildings were already badly crippled. Fortuitously, the hat trusses at the tops of the buildings, intended to support a transmission antenna (WTC 1 had such an antenna; WTC 2 was designed to carry one if necessary) were able to redistribute some of the load from the damaged core columns to the walls of the buildings, giving the buildings stability. But the kerosene-fueled fires - and conspiracy theorists tend to understate the intensity of these fires - were relentless. I would recommend that everyone interested in this subject read the NIST reports on the disaster and especially their detailed studies (large pdfs here and here) of the fires. The fires were so hot that WTC 2 bled molten aluminum from the airplane that hit it for several minutes before it collapsed. The fires caused the floor trusses and surviving core columns to bend, actually pulling the walls inward by not inches but feet. When the walls, already carrying many times their normal load, finally failed, the buildings fell.

Part of the problem with 9/11 is that the way the disaster was handled invited conspiracy theories. For example, the mad rush to clear the site made the task of scientists studying the disaster much harder (in particular WTC 7 was cleared away so quickly that NIST could not obtain any steel samples from that building). Once it was clear that there were no survivors, the clearing should have turned into something a little closer to an archeological dig, which I suspect would have led to a better understanding of the disaster, the recovery of more remains, and very possibly the recovery of the black boxes from the aircraft. As it was, the wreckage was hauled, scooped, and dumped into ships to take it overseas at a truly ridiculous pace. The failure to involve the NTSB was also a mistake. NTSB investigators should have been onsite identifying parts of the airplanes. It's not impossible that such an approach could, again, have turned up some of the CVRs and flight data recorders.

No one in the US government "controlled-demolished" the World Trade Center. The real crime here is that the man responsible still walks this earth: Osama bin Laden.

Too Little, Too Late

Evan Thomas in Newsweek writes a damning account of how our whining, petulant Dear Leader failed to react to the Hurricane Katrina disaster. The problem is, Bush's work "habits" have been common knowledge to the press for years - in fact since Dubya was a video-game playing, exercising, 9-5 with a two-hour lunch governor of Texas. To write an expose now is just too damned little too late:

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.

...

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.

The press are in a large part responsible for making Shrub president. They were charmed by his (passive aggressive) habit of giving them nicknames; they found him more accessible than the intellectual Al Gore; some of them, like the egregious Cokie Roberts, seem to have fallen head over heels in love with him. During the campaign they covered him warmly; when time came to report the Florida election fiasco, much of the press was missing in action. Since 9/11, they have largely given this lazy, stupid man a pass. To act surprised and write exposes now is pathetic. And too late. Too late for thousands of people, in New York and Washington, in Iraq, in the hurricane-affected zone, who would prefer to be alive.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

9/11

Greater love hath no man than this....

Friday, September 09, 2005

Norquist Watch

At last, a comment from Grover on the hurricane disaster, and of course hell no, it's not Grover's problem:

Grover Norquist, one of Washington's most important conservative activists and a close Rove ally, blamed the chaos on "looting in a Democratic city run by a Democratic mayor and a Democratic governor."

Of course!

Others see Grover's plan hard at work:

The government’s “strange paralysis”, as Newsweek put it, is, in fact the Grover Norquist-Karl Rove plan at work: weaken and indeed dismantle what they see as the FDR legacy. The federal government’s continued refusal to accept responsibility, the emphasis on refusing federal help for “state and local” problems are just part of the overall strategy.

Plenty of bloggers, editorial pages, television anchor people and even legislators are saying that the federal agencies and administrators--from Michael Brown at FEMA to George Bush--are inexcusably and inexplicably unable to do anything right. These people are NOT stupid, they are NOT inept; they simply have priorities.

I don't know if you noticed, but “certain assets” of the Gulf Coast were IMMEDIATELY swept down upon and rescued and secured by Homeland Security and the FBI. The feds excel at acting quickly and decisively when it concerns things of importance to the administration. Also, I do hope you noticed that the day after the hurricane, shares in Halliburton reached eight-year record highs. The stock market is on the upswing. The oil companies are doing very well.
...
No doubt Norquist, Rove, the vacationing Dick Cheney, the “always on vacation” lackey Bush and other “good government is no government” ideologues have been patting themselves on the back. Now that agencies in our government are filled with such like-minded guys as Chertoff (who said, in essence, that, hey, these people were told to evacuate; if thousands of disabled, elderly, poor people die or get stuck, that's their fault; he also reportedly excoriated the media for making more out of problems at the Superdome than were warranted), we can expect lots more attitude and action—or lack of it—like that.

That's precisely the mindset Rove, Norquist and their minions and adherents promote. Our government agencies are now full of managers and middle managers appointed by the Bush administration who believe that if you can't pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, that's your problem (tough luck if you don't have any bootstraps to pull up). Let the churches and private sector rescue the elderly, poor, and disabled, and if they can't, well, that's just too bad.

The Bush administration, Rove, and Norquist have nothing but contempt for fellow human beings who believe that government should be a force for doing good. Government is a force for promoting the interests of U.S. business, according to them. Teddy Roosevelt once warned that when the government becomes entwined with business interests, democracy is threatened. Even during Roosevelt’s tenure, government was all too active in shoring up U.S. business interests. Today it approaches Mussolini’s own definition of fascism: “another term for corporatism”.

Indeed it does. Once, we fought fascism. Now....

Not Pretty

Tourists who were in New Orleans are starting to talk, and it's not a pretty picture. CathiefromCanada has done a fine job collecting several accounts at Daily Kos, including this one:

"Anyone who knows that area, if you had a bus, it would take you no more than 20 minutes to drive in with a bus and get these people out," Buder said. "They sat there for four or five days with no food, no water, babies getting raped in the bathrooms, there were murders, nobody was doing anything for these people. And we just drove right in, really disgraceful. I don't want to get too fired up with the rhetoric, but some blame needs to be placed somewhere."

Important reading. The truth is coming out, and it's worse than people thought.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Norquist Watch

The post-Katrina Norquist Watch goes on, but Grover is apparently lying low and cataloguing his barf bag collection or something. But, fortunately, others haven't forgotten about him. Tom Teepen:

Well, now we know what The Beast looks like when it's half-starved. It is a weak and wasting creature.

The beast is our national government and starving it has been promoted on the political right as a means to conservative ends.
...
Where conservatism once was characterized by prudence, which included skepticism, often healthy, about federal undertakings, conservatism today has become reckless. And it sees the American government as a fanged, snarling and predatory monster. No longer just skeptical of federal programs, today's right is contemptuous, in the manner of the sainted Reagan, of the very idea that government can accomplish anything.

Thomas Friedman:

An administration whose tax policy has been 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'' -- doesn't have the instincts for this moment.

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. And I hope that he was busy drowning government in his bathtub when the levee broke and that he had to wait for a U.S. Army helicopter to get out of town.

Gordon Adams in the Baltimore Sun:

We have a president who is apparently ill-informed, lackadaisical and narrow-minded, surrounded by oil baron cronies, religious fundamentalist crazies and right-wing extremists and ideologues. He has appointed officials who give incompetence new meaning, who replace the positive role of government with expensive baloney.

They rode into office in a highly contested election, spouting a message of bipartisanship but determined to undermine the federal government in every way but defense (and, after 9/11, one presumed, homeland security). One with Grover Norquist, they were determined to shrink Washington until it was "small enough to drown in a bathtub." Katrina has stripped the veil from this mean-spirited strategy, exposing the greed, mindlessness and sheer profiteering behind it.

It is time to hold them accountable - this ugly, troglodyte crowd of Capital Beltway insiders, rich lawyers, ideologues, incompetents and their strap-hangers should be tarred, feathered and ridden gracefully and mindfully out of Washington and returned to their caves, clubs in hand.

David Sarasohn in The Oregonian:

It's a favorite line of Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform and one of the most influential and aggressive of the movement conservatives, and it always goes over big with his audiences.

"I don't want to abolish government," explains Nor- quist. "I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."

Last week, we learned that you don't need a bathtub.

You can drown Americans' belief in government in the streets of New Orleans.

Yeah, I'd be hiding too.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Will Someone Put FEMA Out of Our Misery?

This is almost too good to be true. Almost:

A South Carolina health official said his colleagues scrambled Tuesday when FEMA gave only a half-hour notice to prepare for the arrival of a plane carrying as many as 180 evacuees to Charleston.

But the plane, instead, landed in Charleston, West Virginia, 400 miles away.

It was not known whether arrangements have been made to care for the evacuees or transport them to the correct destination.

A call seeking comment from FEMA was not immediately returned.

Insert monkey hooting here.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Norquist Watch

Unsurprisingly, Grover Norquist has been pretty invisible since the hurricane disaster vividly demonstrated what happens when you "starve the beast." But his ugly name is not forgotten in these perilous times:

While we're pointing fingers to blame George Bush and his minions for the inept and disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina, let's don't forget to point at Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform and strategist who urged Republicans to "starve the beast" of government until they could "drown it in a bathtub."

In Boulder, Colo., my husband saw a public message board where someone had noted, "Send Grover Norquist to New Orleans." He amended this to "Drown Grover Norquist in the bathtub that is New Orleans."

At the least, Norquist and his ilk should be consigned to clean the city up since a starved government could not muster enough help to save our fellow Americans from five days of needless suffering.

Indeed. I don't see Grover's pudgy figure wandering around in the wreckage spreading succour, probably because he knows he'd end up dangling from a streetlight.

God Must Love Stupid People

...'cause he made boatloads of 'em, as the saying goes. More proof, as if any were needed:

Forty-six percent of Americans approve of Bush's handling of the crisis, while 47 percent disapprove.

Good Lord.

A Little More Help

Americans have displayed their characteristic generosity in response to the Katrina disaster. But as Michael Benolkin reminds us at Cybermodeler Online, four-legged victims need your help too:

One problem area not being adequately covered by the media is the surviving pets. Hundreds of dogs, cats, and other creatures are being rescued with little hope of being reunited with their families. The Humane Society of the United States (www.hsus.org), United States Equestrian Foundation (www.usef.org/relief/index.php), American Veterinary Medical Foundation (www.avmf.org/html/index.asp), and other organizations are trying to care for them and they are obviously low on the post-disaster funding list. After you've helped those organizations that are helping the survivors, please consider a donation to one of these animal survivor support organizations.

The stories of people having to leave their pets behind are agonizing. You can help.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Fire Brown NOW

CNN has done a yeoman's job partnering the brainless statements of Repug appointee Michael Brown, useless head of FEMA, with the ugly truth about the New Orleans situation:

Hospital evacuations

Brown: I've just learned today that we ... are in the process of completing the evacuations of the hospitals, that those are going very well.


CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta: It's gruesome. I guess that is the best word for it. If you think about a hospital, for example, the morgue is in the basement, and the basement is completely flooded. So you can just imagine the scene down there. But when patients die in the hospital, there is no place to put them, so they're in the stairwells. It is one of the most unbelievable situations I've seen as a doctor, certainly as a journalist as well. There is no electricity. There is no water. There's over 200 patients still here remaining. ...We found our way in through a chopper and had to land at a landing strip and then take a boat. And it is exactly ... where the boat was traveling where the snipers opened fire yesterday, halting all the evacuations. ( Watch the video report of corpses stacked in stairwells -- 4:45 )


Dr. Matthew Bellew, Charity Hospital: We still have 200 patients in this hospital, many of them needing care that they just can't get. The conditions are such that it's very dangerous for the patients. Just about all the patients in our services had fevers. Our toilets are overflowing. They are filled with stool and urine. And the smell, if you can imagine, is so bad, you know, many of us had gagging and some people even threw up. It's pretty rough.

Gosh, I think I'm going to believe Drs. Gupta and Bellew. You too?

Brown needs to be fired. Immediately.

Repug Hack Blames the Victims

It's the fault of all those dummies in New Orleans that so many of them drowned and the living are now in misery: This, apparently, is the new Repug line. Another person who ought to be frogmarched in front of a wall and shot is the Repug hack Chimpy put in charge of FEMA, Michael "The rich all escaped!" Brown:

"I don't make judgments about why people chose not to leave but, you know, there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans," he said.

"And to find people still there is just heart-wrenching to me because, you know, the mayor did everything he could to get them out of there.

"So, we've got to figure out some way to convince people that whenever warnings go out it's for their own good," Brown said. "Now, I don't want to second guess why they did that. My job now is to get relief to them."

Yes, and you're doing such a sterling job of it.

No mention that most of those who appear to have stayed were the poor, the sick, the elderly, and trapped tourists who had no place to go. Bastard. Is it possible to hate Bush and his minions more? Yes, it is. More and more every day.

Bloggers Get Email

Wonkette gets an email from a friend working at the EPA:

We're naming it Lake George, 'cause it's his frickin fault. Have you seen all that data about the levee projects' funding being cut over the past three years by the Prez, and the funding transferred to Iraq? The levee, as designed, might not have held back the surge from a direct Class 5 hit, but it certainly would not have crumbled on Monday night from saturation and scour erosion following a glancing blow from a Class 3. The failure was in a spot that had just been rebuilt, not yet compacted, not planted, and not armed (hardened with rock/concrete). The project should have been done two years ago, but the federal gov't diverted 80% of the funding to Iraq. Other areas had settled by a few feet from their design specs, and the money to repair them was diverted to Iraq.

The NO paper raised hell about this time and again, to no avail. And who will take the blame for it? The Army Corps, because they're good soldiers and will never contradict the C in C. But Corps has had massive budget cuts across all departments (including wetland regulatory) since Bush took office, and now we've reaped what was sown. It really pisses me off to see the Corps get used by the Administration to shield Bush -- they do great work when they're funded. This was senseless, useless death caused not by nature but by budget decisions.

One thing blogs do is point to the truth. This is the vile truth about what just happened, about the complete destruction of a major, historic American city. It needs to be repeated, and repeated, and repeated. (via)

Welcome Back to Baghdad

Don't this sound familiar:

Chertoff said Thursday that 4,200 trained National Guard military police would be deployed in the city over the next three days, quadrupling the law enforcement presence in New Orleans.

"Fourteen hundred military police trained soldiers will be arriving every day --- 1,400 today, 1,400 tomorrow and 1,400 the next day," he said.

"Frankly, what we're doing is we are putting probably more than we need in order to send an unambiguous message that we will not tolerate lawlessness or violence or interference with the evacuation."

Wow, doesn't that sound great? Luckily, the truth is in the next paragraph:

Yet, the first contingent of those promised military police were not scheduled to arrive until late Thursday night -- and only 100 Guard members would be in that first wave, according to Pentagon officials. Pressed about the other 1,300 promised troops, officials would only say that they were on the way.

New Orleans police officers told CNN that they needed the manpower earlier in the week to prevent the looting and violence now prevalent in the city. The situation is now much worse because among the first items taken from stores, according to the officers, were guns -- turning unarmed thieves into armed gangsters.

Police were reduced to looting ammunition from stores themselves, to keep it off the streets.

I wonder, has the D-Day Museum been looted yet?

Spinning the Hurricane

As New Orleans sinks into final destruction, Shrub and the True Believers appear to have come up with an angle: we had no idea it was going to be this bad. Now it's our job to make sure the media know that that excuse is a lie.

Here's some truth that the Bushies just won't be able to handle:

Fed up with the splintered efforts, Len Bahr, then the head of the Louisiana Governor's Office of Coastal Activities, somehow dragged all the parties to one table in 1998 and got them to agree on a coordinated solution: Coast 2050. Completing every recommended project over a decade or more would have cost an estimated $14 billion, so Louisiana turned to the federal government. While this may seem an astronomical sum, it isn't in terms of large public works; in 2000 Congress began a $7 billion engineering program to refresh the dying Florida Everglades. But Congress had other priorities, Louisiana politicians had other priorities, and the magic moment of consensus was lost.

Thus, in true American fashion, we ignored an inevitable problem until disaster focused our attention.

$14 billion now sounds like really cheap insurance, doesn't it?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Retard in Chief

The Chimp:

He defended the federal government's response so far to the growing crisis amid urgent pleas for help from stranded victims. He said the breach of the levees that led to the submerging of much of New Orleans had not been anticipated.

Jesus.

I wish I could say more, but what I really want to say is illegal.

Also Incredible

Also amazing is that Caligula got up in front of the American people yesterday, rambled a bit, and didn't bother to ask people to conserve gasoline. Perish the thought that those SUVs with the "W" bumper stickers might be parked for a day or two!

Incredible

My partner and I watched in disbelief last night as the head of the Army Corps of Engineers appeared on ABC and blithely admitted that the levees of New Orleans had been designed to withstand a Category 3 hurricane and that building them to withstand what really happened - a Category 4/5 - would not have been cost-effective. Oh, really? In what way could better levees have been less cost-effective than the total destruction of the city? There's an ass who needs to be frog-marched in front of a firing squad - now.

Can't find a link to the piece at the moment, but I'll keep looking.

Like an Anthill Kicked Over

I expect Osama bin Laden and assorted wannabes are watching the hurricane disaster with great interest. After three years of pouring vast amounts of money into "homeland security," it's evident that the homeland is, if anything, far less secure than ever, judging by the chaotic at best and insanely inadequate at worst response to Katrina.

So what was that money spent on?

UPDATE: Read this (via):

"What you're seeing is revealing weaknesses in the state, local and federal levels," said Eric Tolbert, who until February was FEMA's disaster response chief. "All three levels have been weakened. They've been weakened by diversion into terrorism."

Is there anything - anything - that the Repugs haven't totally effed up?