Monday, September 26, 2005


Word for the day:

bushbucker n. 1. A person who ostentatiously struts through bushes while shirking their responsibilites.

2. A blame gamer, a poltroon who seeks through surrogates to blame others for their disasters.

3. A megalomanic fabulist who offers bogus justifications in seriatum for otherwise unwarrantted attacks on individuals or nations.

Bush and his Bushies are bushbuckers.

bushbuck v. 1. Ostentatiously to strut through bushes while shirking the responsibility of one's work, school, or office. [can be used metaphorically]

President George W. Bush bushbucked on his Crawford, Texas, ranch while New Orleans drowned.

2a. To blame others, usually through surrogates, when something goes wrong on your watch. 2b. To direct the blame game while disavowing it.

President George W. Bush bushbucked local officials in Lousiana for his administration's feeble response to the drowning of New Orleans.

3. To offer a bogus justification for an attack on a person, persons, or nation, and each time the bogosity is exposed offer another bogus justification, indefinitely, while continuing the attack.

The Bushies bushbucked the war in Iraq with removing WMDs, keeping terriors [sic] from our shores, deposing a brutal dictator, improving the lot of the Iraqi people, especially the women, creating a shining example of democracy in the Middle East.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bush Speak

So why is that the media doesn't show that the Bush is speaking to an empty square in a ruined, deserted city in a made television extravaganza. It's not surreal; it's irreal. He looked like Max Headroom. He sounded like a checked out eejit, desperate to sound like he cared about an event that was and is totally beyond his comprehension. He couldn't have an audience there for fear they would hoot and jeer him out of town. If he truly wanted to make New Orleans rise from the rubble better than ever, he would make sure that the people who were flooded out had their homes rebuilt on stilts, solidly, and that they were owners not tenants of some slum lord. That's an ownership society. He would restore the wetlands and run canals through the former swamp of the 9th Ward, but Bushy's whole effort is about making money for the rich.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Katrina + Bush

The Bush has long said that it's better to fight the "terriers" in Iraq than it is to have them attack us at home. Now we know why. Responding to a question at a brief press conference yesterday, according to Elisabeth Bumiller and Richard W. Stevenson in The New York Times, Bushy said: "I want to know how to better cooperate with state and local government, to be able to answer that very question that you asked: Are we capable of dealing with a severe attack or another severe storm? And that's a very important question." That came after a comment that Katrina had "exposed serious flaws" in the ability of governments at all levels to respond to a catastrophe and that he, the Big Bush accepted responsibility for the federal government's failures whatever, if any, they might be. Once people buy that, blame shifting will jump into overdrive so that soon the federal government and Bushy will be fully exonerated. Let's say the Bushy's will try to make it that way.

But it might not work. Eric Lichtblau reports in today's NYT on the posting at the National Archives of a re-redacted monograph on aviation failures, prepared for the 9/11 Commission but originally released in such highly censored form that it was worthless. (Yes, the Bushies did the censoring.) Now, it is clear that as early as 1998, the FAA knew "that Al Qaeda could 'seek to hijack a commercial jet and slam it into a U.S. landmark.'" In 2001, the FAA was receiving a virtual flood of information about Al Qaeda and planes. No wonder the Bush was given a vacation briefing on the same subject. No wonder the Bushies don't want the full report released. Increasingly it does appear that they had everything but flight numbers and dates. 9/11 Commission material can be found at the National Archives--that is, as much as the Bushies have allowed to be releaed.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Katrina, take 4

The AP reports from the Bush's tour of New Orleans today that he sought to clarify his comment on the Thursday after the storm that no one thought the levees would be breeched. According to AP reporter Jennifer Loven, Bushy "said he was referring to that 'sense of relaxation in a critical moment' when many people initially thought the storm had not inflicted heavy damage on the city." Right. We'll just lay aside for now just what that "'sense of relaxation in a critical moment" means--if not something like "letting your guard down" or "walking off bcause everything is cool." The Washington Post, reported on Sunday, September 11, 2005, in its excellent post mortem, that the National Weather Service, which Pennsylvania's junior Republican Senator Ricky Santorum wants to block from issuing public forecasts, reported at 8:59 a.m. on August 29--the morning Katrina hit--that a levee on the Industrial Canal had been breeched and the 9th Ward was going to flood. Other reports followed and by Monday night--that night--it was clear the city was filling up. Bushy is right that a lot of naive people, including reporters, had initially cheered that New Orleans had once more "dodged" the big one, but anyone paying attention knew what the commander-in-chief should have known--New Orleans was going under. So Bushy's clarification is best seen as a confession of ignorance. It reminds me that this is a man who four years earlier had not taken seriously a CIA briefing about a certain terriorist group planning to use jet planes to attack the U.S. And that's not blame gaming.

At the same press conference, the Bush, like other white Republican politicians and Clintonistas, denied that race played a role in the horror of New Orleans. Of course, were the Bushies to admit that racism exists, they would have to change their tune on civil rights and affirmative action--either support them in the name of the equality they say already exists or become more openly honest about their racism. Bushy might ask New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin about this one. In an interview with Gordon Russell of the heroic Times-Picayune, Nagin confirms that black people were turned back from crossing a bridge out of the city into a largely white parrish and goods were stockpiled outside the city but never brought in. I'm sure there are other explanations, but I can't think of them.

That is not to say that poor whites are not also ignored; they are. The Bushies like poor white people only if they can be persuaded to enlist and to vote for Bushies out of fear of raging yellow, bown, and black people. Otherwise, they have no use for them. Poor blacks, though, suffer discrimination on account of caste--race--as well as class.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Katrina Blame Gaming

The big three--LA Times, Washington Post, and NY Times--all weigh in today with long analyses of the inundation and collapse of New Orleans. While citing failures by officials at all levels of government, they make clear that the primary responsibility rested with the federal government, and in almost every way imagineable the officials in charge, up to and including the president, screwed up.

Well, the sources the Post used seem intent on saving Bushy by intimating that he was concerned from the start but suffered from a lack of accurate and timely information, as well as incompetent managers on the ground and hostillity between the Bushies and the governor of Louisiana and mayor of New Orleans, both Democrats. I'm not sure the Post version will fly. If Bushy were that aware and concerned, he should have acted more forcefully from the start.

Time and Newsweek have polls showing that Americans have become wary, if not disapproving of Bushy's abilities. They don't see that his government can do much against a human-made or natural disaster, either.

It's clear that the feds had the manpower, money, goods, gear, and jurisdictional power to take the lead in a disaster that quickly overwhelmed local and state authority--throughout the Katrina strike zone, not just New Orleans--but the Bushies were too incompetent and derelict to act.

The Washington Post also reports today that this same out-of-touch Bushy wants to have a policy for delivering a pre-emptive nuclear strike against terriers with WMD--presumably the ones they stole from Iraq. That's a terrifying thought.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Let's Hear It for Privatization

Among Congressional Republicans flaming in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, as today's Washington Post reports, is Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who last spring introduced legislation that would forbid the National Weather Service from posting forecasts on the web, if they competed with private services like the Weather Channel or AccuWeather. The private services rely on government forecasts, of course, so Santorum's brilliant plan would have forced the public to pay twice.

Ever ready to push his agenda, Santorum, in the wake of Katrina, released a statement, claiming that the National Weather Service, by which I suppose he means specifically the National Hurricane Center, blew the forecasts for Katrina. In fact, they were close to right on the money. Even the turn southwest across Florida had been projected by one of the models and included as a possibility in the center's forecasts and warnings.

Like Bushy, Santorum is an irrationalist, convinced that what he believes is right and true, even if all the evidence says otherwise. These people never learn because they can't learn. Under ordinary circumstances, they just make people around them miserabe. Given political power, they become dangerous to the public and destructive to the very concept of civil society. In the wreckage of New Orleans and the Gulf coast, they are reaping the fruit of their war on "government," more specifically public services.

Perhaps, in the aftermath of this horror people will reflect that there are some things government alone can do well and start to demand better services. That means recognizing, too, that they must pay taxes to suppor those services. Now that's a radical proposition.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Hurricane Katrina, take 3

There's been a bit of a flap in the press over stories in Newsweek and the Washington Post over the weekend, citing that omniscient, nameless narrator news weeklies love and a "senior administration official," respectively and too reverentially, to the effect that following the inundation of New Orleans, Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco was slow and indecisive about declaring a "state of emergency," which would have allowed the feds to move in with massive amounts of money, supplies, and people. In fact, she had issued that declaration on Friday, August 26, 2005, three days before the storm hit. Bushy followed up on Saturday and Sunday--that's right, August 27 and 28--declaring a federal state of emergency in every area where the storm might hit.

Caught up in its slime, the Bushies changed their tune. White House spokesman Scott McClellan now boasts of Bushy's early action, while maintaining that people must ignore the inaction that followed.

But despite those declarations, help didn't come, day after day, until the cry of distress became an obscenity laced bellow from Mayor Ray Nagin and media reports that had already shocked the world finally seemed to penetrate the Bushies' isolation chamber.

Let's avoid the 'blame game,' say the Bushies, even while they continue to find other ways to slime local officials or the people who couldn't or wouldn't leave town, even while they try one spin after another. And here, it must be said that the press should either stop using anonymous sources from the Bushy Administration, on the grounds that they invariably lie, distort, or attempt to 'dis' someone else. Or, having discovered that they have been used for dishonorable purposes, reporters should out their sources. Journalists have no moral or ethical obligation to protect sources who hold the truth in contempt; rather, they are obliged to out them

The Bushies from the top down screwed up, and no amount of spin or lying or ducking responsibility or trying to pass the buck will change that. It's not that the emperor--excuse me, the president--has no clothes--I mean brain--and was fiddling--er, mountain biking and fishing--while Rome--New Orleans--burned--drowned; it's that, to put it as bluntly as possible, he doesn't care. Bushy lacks the power of empathy, which Bubba, by the way, had too much of...Bushy is wilfully ignorant and congenitally malign--a lethal combination--as New York City, Iraq, and New Orleans can attest.

The Bushies succeeded in obscuring the top Bushy's negligence in the run up to 9/11 and his perfidy in Iraq. They'll try again on New Orleans, and they have formidable resources. It will be up to the people who value truth to try once more to stop them and expose them to the full light of the sun.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Hurricane Katrina, take 2

I received the following this morning from my friend, the author and editor, Bruce Stutz, regarding the ruination of New Orleans:

So the boys and I were sitting around discussing FEMA’s ethnic cleansing policy and how so many of the evacuees said they weren’t going back to New Orleans when Nathaniel pipes up with “Go back?! They could hardly get buses to get them out, you think they’re going to provide buses to bring them back?!”

Kid knows.


Monday, September 05, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

"The Horror! The Horror!" Kurtz's last words, according to Marlow, civilization's witness in Heart of Darkness, rang through my ears last week as New Orleans devolved following Hurricane Katrina. Worse horrors litter the world's history, of course, but the crash into dystopia of New Orleans while explicable is shocking, even incomprehensible. That is until one sees it as an extension of Bushy and the Republicans' war on the cities, the poor and disadvantaged, especially people of color. The devolution of New Orleans is also a reflection of the Bushies' fundamental incompetence--the same incompetence that failed to heed abundant warnings prior to September 11, 2001, and prior to invading Iraq.

The Bushies, who like to proclaim that they are so omnipotent that they create their own reality, this time faced a hurricane powerful enough to transform reality and smash and wash away the fantasies of the ignorant. Or so I hope. Unfortunately, the Bushies' capacity for delusional thinking seems limitless, as does their ignorance.

The Bushies certainly share top billing with Katrina for the demise of New Orleans. (The New York Times' Frank Rich is good on this issue.) New Orleans happened, too, because of the long American habit of sealing people off from nature, of channelizing rivers, indeed of believing that maginot lines of levees, spillways, pumping stations, damns, and the like can save humans from the wrath of nature--god, if you will. The situation is complex, to be sure, but I suggest it can be viewed through this paradox: the Army Corps of Engineers and every other person who looked even slantwise at the New Orleans levee system knew it would not surprise more than a middling category 3 storm and put forth ambitious plans for improvements--the Bushies cut the money--but no one planned for what to do when a levee failed and the pumps wouldn't work. By its own admission, the Corps didn't have in place a way to detect leaks much less patch them.

We'd already been surprised here in Miami Beach and the rest of Miami-Dade and Monroe County, when the newly minted Hurricane Katrina took a turn southwest after coming ashore about 15 miles up the coast from us. By then, our power and telephone landlines were down, so we did what people have always done in hurricanes--sat through it.

By Sunday, we were back in the computer age and seeing through the National Hurricane Center and associated sites that Katrina meant trouble in the Gulf. Monday morning, as reports came in that the storm was making landfall, I asked a few people what they thought would happen were it to render New Orleans uninhabitable. Not happening, they said.

A certain smugness colored initial reports on the storm, as journalists, politicians, citizens, and even weather forecasters celebrated that the hurricane had spared New Orleans or New Orleans had once more escaped, as if either storm or city had volition. Forgotten was the National Hurricane Center's favorite caveat: A hurricane is not a spot on a map; it is a massive, destructive storm. Indeed, there were reports that night of a breached levee that was allowing water from Lake Pontchartrain to drain into the city, not to stop till it found its depth. Some reporters and officials still treat the hurricane and flood as separate events. They were not. Emergency teams should have already been on the way; they were not. The Corps should have been scrambling to close the breach; even if it was, it had not a clue how to do it.

I won't rehash here what's been ably reported, most notably by the Los Angeles Times. arguably the best paper in the country today. It was horrifying to watch. But it has become increasingly clear that either out of malice or incocmpetence or both, the Bushies were complicit in letting the situation degenerate. They had ignored warnings for years and gutted FEMA, as the LA Times reports today.

More significant, again from today's LAT, citing the heroic New Orleans Times-Picayune, Max Mayfield and his staff at the National Hurricane Center briefed (3rd entry down) FEMA head Michael D. Brown and Homeland Insecurity secretary Michael Chertoff while Katrina was gathering strength in the Gulf that the storm meant big trouble and that its storm surge could top New Orleans's levees--precisely what appears to have happened. They mobilized no one. Bushy and company will shift blame and probably escape thorough and serious investigation as they did after 9/11 and have thus far after the war crime that is Iraq, and I'll have more about that later.

For now, I would suggest that if New Orleans is to be rebuilt, and for psychological and political reasons, it will be, it should become a model city in a globally warmed world, one fitted to its environment. Build up, build with canals. Take down the worthless levees. Rechannelize the Mississippi. People thrown into dire circumstances reverted to foraging, which in our urbanized world means "looting"; now let those who want to stay or live in New Orleans try a new way of living in an eco-Venice.

That's not likely to happen under the watch of the Bushies, but we can hope that this debacle will make him the second president in U.S. history to resign, taking his vice and the entire government with him, so that an extraordinary special election follows. Problem then is, who among this gang of feebs can lead.

stem cells, part 3

So stem cells accumulate mutations and become so unstable over time, that they can produce tumors, Rick Weiss reports in today's Washington Post. Big surprise, but I guarantee that those who work on them will forge ahead, for fame and fortune, claiming all the while that a cure for Parkinson's or Alzheimer's is soon. Weiss states that many scientists take the finding as proof that they should create more stem cell lines, rather than as a cautionary note.

The BBC today carries a report from Britain that Lord Winston, president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, warns that stem cell hype has gotten out of hand and the inevitable failure to produce the promised results will provoke a backlash against biological research in particular and science in general. Stem cells resarch might lead to greater understanding of the cell, which in the long run should prove beneficial in development of treatments for those diseases, he says, but that's far different. It's time for scientists and science journalists to cut the hype.