Friday, September 30, 2005

Foxx on Endangered Species Act

Madame Virginia Foxx voted FOR (natch!) H.R. 3824 yesterday to weaken the "Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act."

We're not bothered so much by provisions in this law that would require the government to compensate property owners, if measures to protect species thwart development plans. Hell, the government is shelling out money to private interests for everything else these days!

What is much more bothersome is the provision in the law that would give political appointees the power to make some scientific determinations and stop "critical habitat" designations.

Giving compensation to landowners for loss of development is one thing. Turning over the mechanism for designating endangered and threatened species and their habitats to political hacks ... well, that's what we hate most about this present regime. They've politicized science. Why not endangered species too?

All of this for the moment is on hold, since the U.S. Senate has passed no version of this turn-back-the-clocks legislation, and the man in charge of writing it for the Senate, Sen. Lincoln Chafee, is not at all in favor of the House's approach.

Landmarks in Superior Morality

"But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." William Bennett, former Education Secretary and author, "The Book of Virtues," speaking yesterday on his radio show, "Morning in America" (source: WashPost, today).

The Fun Is Watching

What were we saying yesterday about Tom DeLay's operating like an imprisoned crime boss? Check out the WashPost this a.m.: "As DeLay fights charges that he was involved in a fundraising conspiracy, [House Speaker Denny] Hastert told him that he will remain among the speaker's closest advisers. Significantly, DeLay's large staff will remain on the majority leader's payroll -- working for [Rep. Roy] Blunt, but also in position to keep watch on him."

Trying to track where Madame Virginia Foxx stands among all the in-fighters becomes somewhat interesting, though all eyes are on DeLay's replacement, Roy Blunt of Missouri: "...there were clear indications that he is rubbing some of his colleagues the wrong way. Several lawmakers, who said they could speak candidly only on the condition of anonymity, said the 55-year-old former teacher has a reputation for being too overtly ambitious, and must work hard to win over skeptical colleagues. 'He's the kind of guy always looking over your shoulder when you are talking to him,' looking for something better, a top House Republican leader said."

Blunt is being allowed to hold simultaneously his Majority Whip position along with DeLay's vacated Majority Leader position. Who died and made him king? conservative rebels want to know. But Denny Hastert has apparently persuaded his restless troops to allow Blunt to run things at least until January, to see if DeLay can return.

Foxx has a history as an avid in-fighter when she was an academic administrator at Appalachian State University. She's bound to be in that rumble, shivving SOMEBODY.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Matrix Theory and Intelligent Design

"For all we know, the world may have been created five minutes ago, and we've all been implanted with memory chips." --Robert Pennock, a philosopher of science at Michigan State University and a witness for the plaintiffs in Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District, under cross examination by the defendant's attorney (for who's who in this Darwin Revisited case, click here), quoted by the York Daily Record.

For the context of that comment, we depend on Mike Argento, writing in the same paper cited above: "[Pennock] got into what some people believe.... Young Earth creationists, for instance, believe our planet is between 6,000 and 10,000 years old, based on analysis of Scripture. Sure, you can believe that, Pennock said. But it ignores the evidence or claims that the evidence was placed there by God to fool us, which, when you think about, is a kind of odd way to describe the deity, as some kind of cosmic prankster. And that's when Pennock unloaded this: 'For all we know, the world may have been created five minutes ago, and we've all been implanted with memory chips.' "

So far in the Pennsylvania Darwin trial, Intelligent Design is taking a royal pasting, O my brethren.

Can't wait for the defendants to put on their case.

The Hammer and the Madame

Trying to figure out Madame Virginia Foxx's relationship with Tom DeLay, like certain other metaphysical enigmas, can cause me mild fainting spells. DeLay is precisely the sort of cocky little male dictator that Foxx used to despise. Probably still does. But that $10,000 DeLay gave her for her campaign does a lot to sweeten spite. Hell, if she played THOSE cards right, that spigot might gush: DeLay gave over $40,000 to her fellow North Carolina Republican Congressman Robin Hayes. Hmmmm ... one might live so long.

Especially if one did as one was told. Foxx has voted with DeLay 96% of the time. All those big government spending bills ... YES YES YES, moaned the Madame, who has conducted her long public life being as stingy a conservative as breathes air on earth.

At the same time, she quietly joins the Republican Study Committee (RSC), the don't-spend-a-damn-dime caucus of arch-conservative House Republicans led by Mike Pence (R-Ind.). Foxx's name mysteriously does not show up on the membership list of the RSC, but a call to her office confirms she's joined up.

Foxx is a total back-bencher, and not the most sociable soul, so the extent to which DeLay even KNOWS her is open to speculation ... knows her or cares about her views, unless there's a close vote. But there's plenty of evidence that DeLay got good and mad at her RSC buddy Mike Pence during the height of the Hurricane Katrina crisis (see below), and it was at that precise time that Madame Foxx decided to stick her sore thumb waaay up in the air, voting NO on Katrina aid. Might have gotten Mr. DeLay's attention.

Mike Pence, according to Robert Novak, got DeLay's attention and got slapped down for it, hard, Sept. 20th, for criticizing "the leadership" for their big-spending ways. Pence had been in the press on the 19th, confidently announcing that Congress would surely come to its senses and put a hold on certain highway spending and the Medicare prescription drug plan, to offset the $60 billion (so far) going to the hurricane zone. According to both Novak and Dana Milbank in the WashPost, Pence tucked tail. He and the RSC had been reticent before this about publicly criticizing Republican leadership, but the dam seemed to be leaking.

And here comes Foxx and 10 other conservatives (all members of RSC? probably), voting against the second Katrina aid bill. For that stunning vote, was she on the receiving end of some of that Pence-style punishment? One wonders. This sentence appeared in the WashPost on Tuesday this week: "In private meetings last week, GOP leaders sharply criticized rank-and-file Republicans for taking issue with the surge in spending....? Virginia Foxx may have gotten cussed. By MEN, at least some of whom are less capable than she. Wonder how that felt.

Pence and Foxx and the rest of the conservative mavericks, as it turned out, only had to wait mere nanoseconds before DeLay was indicted and officially removed from a position of authority over them. Don't you know they're so secretly relieved that ... they're developing pimples!

For DeLay, the politics of Katrina relief, particularly to the Texas portion of the hurricane zone, goes to the root of his ethical problems. He's indicted for funneling corporate money into the project to redistrict Texas to give himself an additional half-dozen Republican yes-men in Congress. Two of those new yes-men, freshmen Louie Gohmert and Ted Poe, represent districts in the hurricane zone, and they'll have to face a potentially pissed off electorate next year. DeLay's determined to pour on the money to save 'em.

"This leadership group is so out of touch, it's unbelievable," an unnamed Republican lawmaker was quoted as saying in the WashPost (link above). Could well be Foxx's view of that situation, though not necessarily her quote. I'd lay money on it.

Which begs the question: Why did she vote with DeLay 96% of the time? Opportunism? Selling out one's values for filthy lucre? Or pure old human cowardice? Tom DeLay is, after all, a thug who scares plenty of people.

Blunt Force Trauma

The WashPost this a.m. confirms what was going around the Internet yesterday ... that Tom DeLay intends to continue exerting control over the Republican caucus in the U.S. House even after stepping down officially as Majority Leader ... rather the way a jailed don can continue to run his mob.

According to the Post, DeLay is keeping his Majority Leader's office in the Capitol, rather than relinquishing it to the new Leader, Roy Blunt of Missouri.

The other interesting fact confirmed by the Post is that DeLay had wanted to install David Dreier of California in his job: "What [DeLay] and [House Speaker Denny] Hastert wanted was a timeserver, someone to hold the job but with no ambitions to stay in it. And they had someone in mind. This week, an aide to the speaker approached Rep. David Dreier about his role in a post-DeLay caucus. Dreier, a congenial Californian who has loyally served the GOP leadership as Rules Committee chairman, expressed interest in helping Hastert."

Word leaked quickly yesterday that DeLay had hand-picked Dreier. Approximately three seconds later, Mr. Dreier's transparent but still deeply closeted homosexuality became a raging topic. According to the Post story, Republican conservatives in the House staged a revolt against DeLay's choice of Dreier, alleging he was too "soft" (hee-hee), so Blunt, the Majority Whip with his own ethics problems, gets the job.

Does it take a crystal ball to see why DeLay wanted the "congenial" Dreier? He was going to make him his bitch and continue to run the House as he has. Blunt will perhaps be less pliable, though Lord knows the House Republican showers are a dangerous place to drop the soap.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Foxx & the DeLay Gravy Train

Virgina Foxx:

Contributions received from Tom DeLay's ARMPAC: $10,000

Voting percentage with DeLay: 96%

Foxx and the Republican Study Committee

Down-thread, a comment was posted saying I should do my homework before publishing a statement that Virginia Foxx is not a member of the uber-conservative Republican Study Committee. Turns out she is, but it took a call to her Washington office to confirm it. The official website for the RSC does not list her, though it lists a hundred other Republican congresspeople. I know this because I had done my homework. But I'm also glad to have this small but significant fact settled and readers willing to correct me.

Details about "Operation Offset," devised by the RSC, continue to tumble out and make for interesting analysis. Matthew Yglesias at The American Prospect points out that this "hit-list" "partakes heavily of a much-beloved Republican tactic: using phase-ins to obscure what's really happening. In the first year, 78 percent of the cuts come from delaying the implementation of the scheduled Medicare prescription-drug benefit and rolling back earmarks attached to the recent highway bill. Both are genuinely wasteful, though neither is 100 percent waste, so both proposals look to be on a good path. Both, however, are one-time savings, not enduring elements of the budget. In year two of the plan, for example, 0 percent of the cuts come from those measures. In year three, it's also zero percent. Year four? Zero percent. You get the idea. By the time you look at the full 10-year picture, only about 10 percent of the cuts are coming from these wasteful endeavors. Almost half, meanwhile, is accounted for by the cryptic 'Block Grant Medicaid Acute Services.' What this means is that instead of providing an amount of money for emergency medical services equal to the amount necessary to provide acute services to everyone who's eligible, the government will appropriate too little and just let poor people not get treatment when they're sick."

Here's the line that resonates, like a tuning fork struck on Virginia Foxx's hard hard heart: "Say what you will about the idea of making sure poor people get treatment when they fall ill, but this isn't 'waste' by any standard definition. It's just something conservatives don't care about."

The Pennsylvania Monkey Trial

The Pennsylvania ACLU has set up a blog, "Speaking Freely," specifically to keep up with the daily testimony and cross-examination in the landmark Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District, the suit by parents of school-age children seeking to prove that "Intelligent Design" is religion dogmatism in new clothes and has no place in science classes. This site looks like it'll be the best source for what will likely be a long slog.

Among the reader comments on "Speaking Freely" is someone's apt analogy: that standing in front of a 10th grade science class and announcing that evolution is just a theory, equivalent to other worthy theories like "Intelligent Design," would be like opening a 20th-century history class by saying that some people don't believe there was ever a Holocaust during WWII, and we need to study both "theories," or that some people believe the so-called "moon landing" in 1969 was faked, and we have to give equal time to the doubters.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Landmarks in Public Insincerity

Watching El Presidente stumble through his attempt yesterday to suggest that Americans might want to take up car-pooling, uh, or not, you know, drive unnecessarily ... was hilarious, given this administration's public record on conservation of energy resources. But it took Billmon to document the hypocrisy:

From a press briefing by Bush spokesman Ari Fleisher on May 7, 2001:

Q Is one of the problems with this, and the entire energy field, American lifestyles? Does the President believe that, given the amount of energy Americans consume per capita, how much it exceeds any other citizen in any other country in the world, does the President believe we need to correct our lifestyles to address the energy problem?

MR. FLEISCHER: That's a big no. The President believes that it's an American way of life, and that it should be the goal of policy makers to protect the American way of life. The American way of life is a blessed one. And we have a bounty of resources in this country. What we need to do is make certain that we're able to get those resources in an efficient way, in a way that also emphasizes protecting the environment and conservation, into the hands of consumers so they can make the choices that they want to make as they live their lives day to day.

Q So Americans should go on consuming as much more energy than any other citizens in any other countries of the world, as long as they want?

MR. FLEISCHER: Terry, the President believes that the American people are very wise and that, given the right incentives, they will know how and they will make their own right determinations about how much they can conserve, just as the President announced last week that the federal government, as part of its consumership in California will reduce energy needs -- for example, the Department of Defense facilities in California, by 10 percent. He believes the American people, too, will make the right decisions about conservation and the program he will announce shortly will also include a series of conservation items. But the President also believes that the American people's use of energy is a reflection of the strength of our economy, of the way of life that the American people have come to enjoy. And he wants to make certain that a national energy policy is comprehensive, that includes conservation, includes a way of allowing the American people to continue to enjoy the way of life that has made the United States such a leading nation in the world....


Did you get that, fellow citizens? "The American way of life is a blessed one?" God created us as hogs, and he wants us to enjoy our slops. To suggest otherwise is not only un-American. It's anti-religious. Until yesterday, that is. But as conversions go, El Presidente's was about an unconvincing as Jimmy Swaggert's swearing off hookers.

What the World Needs Now

Heard Michael Brown of FEMA fame say on C-SPAN a few minutes ago that his biggest mistake following the Katrina disaster was not having more press conferences.

Because, see, it's SPIN that the government needs to attend to first!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Foxx Hunt: Where Is She?

Don't miss Robert Novak's column today about the uproar over federal spending among House Republicans. According to Novak, it's come down to an auto-da-fe for Republican Congressman Mike Pence. I love that arcane term ... auto-da-fe. It comes out of Portuguese, meaning literally an "act of faith." It was used once upon a time primarily to describe the burning at the stake of heretics during the Spanish Inquisition. See, it was an "act of faith" for the church mullahs of that day to torch a guy who deviated from doctrine; it was also an "act of faith" in a sense for the poor sucker tied down on the pile of flaming fagots, to see if his alternate beliefs would save him from the fire. Usually not.

But back to the back-flipping House conservatives, 100 of whom have formed the Republican Study Committee. They absolutely HATE the $200 billion price tag (so far) for Katrina hurricane relief and have suggested very publicly a long list of "offsets" where spending could and should be cut. Virginia Foxx is NOT a member of this group, though she's been all over the press in the 5th District claiming how "accountable" she wants the federal government to be, and she was quick to sign on to a letter to Prez Bush requesting that he suspend wage rules and allow corporations in the hurricane zone to pay desperately unemployed people whatever the companies feel like paying.

Anyway, Denny Hastert and Tom DeLay and other bigwigs in the House Republican leadership, according to Novak, are administering verbal beatings to House conservatives who step out of line. One wonders about Foxx in all this, since she was one of only 11 House Republicans to vote against the Katrina supplemental relief bill, a bill which her Prez and her House leadership wanted very badly for PR purposes.

Where does she stand on the Republican Study Committee's list of budget offsets, principal among them the detested drug benefit provision under Medicare?

What tightrope is she walking, trying to be a loyal Republican when loyal Republicanism has gone completely 'round the guv'mint welfare bend? Will someone please volunteer to ask her office. For some reason, they don't return our calls.

Does she get a taste of the DeLay bullwhip? Might be, since DeLay is a big contributor to her reelection fund, and he's not exactly a man known for big-heartedness unless he gets something in return. Like absolute loyalty.

Evolution Road Trip

Here's the only reason now extant perhaps to be in balmy Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, today as a spectator: Appearing before a federal judge, 11 parents of school-age children in the Dover Area School District will offer proof that "Intelligent Design," as the current popular term for tossing evolutionary science out of school curricula, is not, well, intelligent at all. Last year, the Dover Area School District decided, under pressure from know-nothing parents enraptured by the false "science" of "Intelligent Design," decided -- mandated, rather -- that science teachers in their schools must tell students that there is an "alternative" to evolution, which is after all merely a "theory," and refer those students to an alternative textbook that champions "Intelligent Design." Three opposing school board members resigned after the vote making this change.

The parents contend that the directive amounted to an attempt to inject religion into the curriculum in violation of the First Amendment. Their suit has been joined by the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation for Church and State. The school board is being defended pro bono by the Thomas More Law Center, a Christian law firm in Ann Arbor, Mich. The case is being heard without a jury in Harrisburg by U.S. District Judge John Jones III, whom President Bush appointed to the bench in 2002.

But here's where it gets interesting: scientists are using this case as an opportunity to get aggressive with the equally aggressive right-wing forces who have been pushing "Intelligent Design" as a way of undermining Darwin.

It isn't enough for the plaintiffs to discredit intelligent design. Instead, what they must do is show that the school board's decision would have an unconstitutionally religious purpose and effect. Intelligent design as science is bogus, they insist, and teaching it is a grave disservice to students.

Today's lengthy WashPost article outlines both the science and the legal argument. (Disclaimer: The only 'C' I ever got in college was in a science class, so don't depend on me, but I can read English prose fairly well and find the recent advances in science extraordinarily astounding.)

Here's part of the current proof of evolution:

Scientists have now decoded the billions of bits of genetic code that make up both chimpanzees and human beings. Darwin had predicted back in the 19th century that chimps were humans' nearest cousins. And guess what? Scientists announced last month that the 3 billion strands of DNA in chimp genes were more than 96 percent identical to human DNA.

Now if that shakes the foundation of your religious belief, that's your problem and should not be the burden of science teachers in the public schools.

Evolution is proven. It's testable. It's a "theory" about the same way that gravity is a "theory." "Intelligent Design," on its best day, doesn't even rise to the level of a theory. It's a metaphor hiding a religious/political agenda. The trial in the Harrisburg courtroom today should prove it ... if the fix isn't in already with this Bush-appointed judge.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

We're Laughing Our Bloody Asses Off

From this a.m.'s NYTimes:

"Three former members of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division say soldiers in their battalion in Iraq routinely beat and abused prisoners in 2003 and 2004 to help gather intelligence on the insurgency and to amuse themselves."

They say they learned their behavior from "military intelligence personnel."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Rich Republican Elites Turning Against El Presidente

The Prince of Darkness, a.k.a. Bob Novak, reports in his column today about an off-the-record gathering of rich Republican donors in Aspen where the Bush-bashing rivaled that of a meeting of Democratic precinct chairs. He ends that column with the observation that Karl Rove arrived late, that the direct attacks on Bush policies immediately died down, and that Rove may have left the gathering with a very misleading notion of his boss's support among Republican elites.

Sen. Frist, Guilty of Insider Trading?

You be the judge. But, COME ON!

Didn't they send Martha Stewart to jail for this kind of thing?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Chance for Foxx to Act in Interests of the People

El Presidente's decision to suspend the Davis-Bacon Act in the Hurricane Katrina disaster zone was stunning. In effect, he said "We've decided to help you recover your losses by allowing huge corporations to pay you less, while they rake in the profits."

Now Rep. George Miller of California has introduced H.R. 3763, "To reinstate the application of the wage requirements of the Davis-Bacon Act to Federal contracts in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina." Some 171 members of the House have signed on as co-sponsors, none of them Republicans. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, a committee that our very own Madame Virginia Foxx sits on (with ever increasing specific gravity). If she's sincere at all in her expressed concern for the people of the Gulf Coast, looks like she might want to pay them the prevailing wage as they rebuild their region.

Whaddya wanna bet?

Piety in the Game of Politics

The following quote from ex-Guv Jim Hunt is so rife with subtext and irony, we won't even bother to write the joke:

"I would be very careful to let people know that I believe in God and that we ought to treat people in a fair, decent, and I would say, Christian way. An awful lot of people in my party hadn't thought about that ... haven't seemed to care about that. That's a mistake." (N&O, scroll down)

Foxx Hunt: Which Way Will She Leap?

According to this a.m.'s NYTimes, "conservative House Republicans" (which ones? didn't say) are drawing up a list of potential budget cuts amounting to $500 billion to offset the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast. That list is highly secretive, but the Times reporter did manage to squeeze out these details from an unnamed House Republican aide:

*Delay the start of the new Medicare prescription drug coverage for one year to save $31 billion

*Eliminate $25 billion in projects from the newly enacted transportation measure

*Eliminate the Moon-Mars initiative that NASA announced on Monday, for $44 billion in savings

*End support for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, $4 billion

*Cut taxpayer payments for the national political conventions and the presidential election campaign fund, $600 million (WE PAY FOR POLITICAL CONVENTIONS!?)

*Charge federal employees for parking, $1.54 billion.

From the sublime to the ridiculous. And by our calculations, so far they're barely over one/fifth of the way to their $500 billion target, even assuming that they'll be able to make these changes. Where's the other $400 billion coming from? Agricultural subsidies? Corporate welfare?

We're all pins & needles, waiting to see the complete list and to hear, also, Madame Virginia Foxx's explanations, rationalizations, and continuing hypocrisies.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Republicans and the Environment

Back on September 12th, Catawba College's Center for the Environment hosted the national president of Republicans for Environmental Protection (say wha?), one Martha Marks, who thinks the National Republican Party has unwisely evicted conservation from the house of conservatism, a bad bargain. "I sometimes hear Republicans say that Democrats have 'stolen' the environment as an issue," Marks told the Salisbury Post. "I don't think that's what happened. I believe Republicans have abandoned it .... We have an administration that can't even bring itself to talk about environmental issues. That's a terrible state of affairs for a conservative party."

(You know, it was bound to happen. With even a few Baptists turning "environmental," the green virus was probably destined to seep around the duck tape and plastic sheeting some Republicans use to keep reality at bay. I said some! Lord knows that the local environmental movement would never have been as vibrant and effective without the active blood, sweat, and tears of many Republicans who are a lot more afraid of asphalt fumes than zoning laws. But I digress.)

Martha Marks told the Salisbury Post that "officials who deny public funding for such projects [as preserving national areas] under the guise of upholding conservative values are in fact acting in a 'liberal, squandering' way regarding the protection of our natural heritage."

Well now! You wouldn't expect such heresy to go unanswered, would you? You hear that sound of chopping? That's the wood-gathering crew of North Carolina mullahs getting ready to burn this witch. A follow-up letter to the editor in the Salisbury Post lays down Republican doctrine on "socialist preservationists." Says the letter-writer, Ms. Marks' "most important political concerns, as a 'Republican' should be: curtailing expansive government regulation, reducing costs imposed on us from locking up our natural resources, fighting those who demand more government control of our land."

Republicans for Environmental Protection are a little like Republicans for Choice. The cognitive dissonance of pairing mutually exclusive terms like that could create a tear in the fabric of the universe.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Foxx Breaks with Her Bleeding Heart President

Congresswoman Madame Virginia Foxx has a letter in today's Watauga Democrat explaining why she voted both for and against Katrina aid, and in passing she pretty much sends a message to George W. Bush: don't look to me to follow you on this whole rebuilding-New-Orleans-for-poor-blacks thingie you've launched. "I will not support out of control federal spending without proper oversight." At least not when it comes to poor black people. Iraq's another matter altogether.

Apparently, Madame Foxx was unimpressed by El Presidente's sound & light show on Jackson Square in New Orleans last Thursday night. Now you see the lights. Now you don't.

Apparently, the American public wasn't much impressed either. The latest Rasmussen Reports survey shows that approval of Bush's handling of the Katrina crisis actually fell after the speech. Actually, his approval fell most notably among Republicans. Witness Madame Foxx.

Defying her very own dear leader! But that's what you get, Mr. President, when your base of support has wallets several times bigger than their hearts.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Bush Fries Davis-Bacon

Since I make it a policy never to watch El Presidente on an empty or a full stomach, I surfed cable networks during his speech last night and must rely totally on my best source of news about what he said, the ineffable Wonkette:

9:17 PM A correspondent writes: "He acknowledged that there are poor black people, AND that that's a bad thing. And it can be solved by lowering their wages, naturally."

It gets lost in all the other unbelieveable developments out of this White House (KARL ROVE ... IN CHARGE OF KATRINA REBUILDING!), but last Thursday (a week ago) Bush issued an executive order allowing federal contractors rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to pay below the prevailing wage. The 1931 Davis-Bacon Act requires federal contractors to pay workers at least the prevailing wages in the area where the work is conducted. Bush's executive order suspends the requirements of the Davis-Bacon law for designated areas hit by the storm.

When will poor, working-class, middle-class American citizens recognize the Empire for what it is? Not as long as Karl Rove can point at gay marriage and say, "See! It's THAT that you need to focus on, not the fact that we've got everything jury-rigged to benefit the rich."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Landmarks in Superior Christianity

Jim Hastings, prominent local Republican operative, had his license tag office in Boone shut down by the D.O.T. for financial "irregularities." Hastings told the Watauga Democrat the closing was "politically motivated," which means, we reckon, that Democrats made up all this crap to make him look bad.

When Hastings was charged with income tax evasion in 1995, he said the charges were "politically motivated." Damn Democrats.

Hastings later pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor counts of tax evasion and was sentenced to three years' probation and was fined $20,000, court records show.

We believe that Mr. Hastings' habit of blaming Democrats might go under the general heading of Madame Virginia Foxx's favorite subject ... accountability.

"Accountability" Bandwagon

We thought it might be instructive to see how the other ten members of Congress who voted against the supplemental Katrina relief bill are faring and what they're saying. Not surprisingly, what they're saying seems to have come from a common fount:

"New Jersey Rep. Scott Garrett said Thursday he voted against sending $51.8 billion in emergency relief to the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina because the bill contained no accountability measures." (Newsday)

"Rep. John Hostettler was one of only 11 House members -- all Republicans -- to oppose the measure that received overwhelming support from members of both parties and the White House. The Associated Press left messages by phone and e-mail Thursday night seeking comment from Hostettler's office .... Hostettler's office did not issue a statement following the vote, but others who voted in opposition said the aid should be balanced with spending cuts elsewhere or that the funding came with too little oversight." (AP)

"Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., said in a statement that he voted against the bill because it failed to include controls on how the money will be spent. He proposed creating a bipartisan oversight committee." (CQ Today)

" 'There is no way that it has really been budgeted out and thoughtfully planned,' said Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, one of 11 Republican House members who voted against the $51.8 billion hurricane spending bill approved Thursday." (Houston Chronicle)

"Rep. Ron Paul, R-Lake Jackson, the other Texan who opposed the spending, questioned why his fellow lawmakers 'think that the best way to [deal with the disaster] is simply to write a huge check to the very government agency that failed so spectacularly.' " (Houston Chronicle) At least Paul is a principled libertarian. He votes against almost all spending, including the Iraqi War.

"Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who voted against the hurricane spending, wants Congress to cut money from what he considers overly expensive legislation, such as the Medicare prescription drug benefit and the recently passed energy bill. (Houston Chronicle) Flake is another Republican with at least some consistency. He, unlike Virginia Foxx, voted against the energy bill give-away.

"U.S. Rep. Steve King .... voted against the spending plan Thursday night, complaining he wasn't provided a detailed list of how the money would be spent before the vote. He also questioned the appropriateness of the federal government spending $3.3 billion to purchase 200,000 trailer homes to house hurricane victims with the first wave of money approved by Congress." (Sioux City Journal) Has an irrational fear of trailer homes?

"Idaho Congressman Butch Otter, who is running for governor, was in the minority on the $51.8 billion hurricane relief supplemental funding bill that the House passed yesterday on a 410-11 vote. Otter called the measure 'throwing money at a tragedy' and 'simply irresponsible.' 'By approving this bill, Congress once again was rushing to act without seriously considering the consequences or alternatives,' Otter said in a statement. 'Do something now, even if it's wrong, is as bad a policy for government as it is for individuals.' " (Eye on Boise) Even conservative Republicans recognize the hypocrisy of Otter's stance: "Members of the 'Republican community' blog questioned Otter's true fiscal conservatism by pointing out that he voted for large and sprawling spending bills on energy and transportation." (

"Georgia Congressman Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA 8th) Friday defended his vote against the U.S. federal government's $51.8 billion hurricane aid package .... 'I certainly don't want to keep any money away from the relief effort,' Westmoreland said, speaking from the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. But he said Congress approved the extra money without imposing any fiscal controls, which would help guarantee that the federal aid reaches the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. 'I don't think it's right to give the taxpayers money without some accountability,' Westmoreland said." (WXIA-TV Atlanta)

The only one of the Republican Eleven who hasn't said anything publicly (that we can find) is F. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin.

Monday, September 12, 2005


What she said: "The Democrats make things political. [...] The Republicans talk constantly about working together on issues and haven't been critical of Democrats at all."
-- Watauga Democrat 7 Jan. 2005

What she also said (all quotes from this handy source):

"Democrat leaders are not only out of the American mainstream, but are also out of the Democratic mainstream."

"Democrats believe they can win at the ballot box by obstructing, and they would rather win the next election than move America forward."

"The American people must not buy into the Democrat rhetoric."

The Foxx Gets Defensive

"That the Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide, at a minimum, a weekly report to the Committees on Appropriations detailing the allocation and obligation of these funds, beginning not later than September 15, 2005."

--Exact language taken from the text of H.R.3673, "Second Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act to Meet Immediate Needs Arising From the Consequences of Hurricane Katrina, 2005."

Back to you, Madame Virginia Foxx, who last Thursday had your spokesperson Amy Auth tell the press that you voted against the relief bill because of no accountability provisions. Had you even read the bill?

In today's Watauga Democrat, The Foxx sounds a good deal more defensive and is trying to firm up that "no accountability" excuse: "Foxx's press secretary Amy Auth said Foxx voted against the bill for several reasons, though she said Foxx did support relief efforts and had voted for the initial $10.5 billion supplemental relief bill the week before. Foxx was concerned because the $51.8 billion federal aid package didn't provide enough accountability in how the money will be spent, Auth said."

"No accountability" has suddenly become "not enough accountability." But more to the point, what accountability was included in the initial $10.5 billion supplemental relief bill (H.R.3645) that she DID vote for? Well, Lordy be, child! Turns out the bill she voted FOR doesn't contain ANY accountability clause that we can see. Go read it for yourself.

If we had a press worth its salt, they would have found this out on their own! When a public official prevaricates this transparently, it's the absolute duty of a free press to point it out.

Back to The Foxx, acting defensive (from today's Watauga Democrat): Her spokesperson Amy Auth saith, "She [Foxx] is obviously very deeply sympathetic over the devastation inflicted by the storm and she does believe the victims should be helped. She has made personal charitable contributions and urged her constituents to make charitable donations to organizations like the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross." Auth said the vote didn't signal a lack of faith in the federal agencies that would deliver the aid, but "is about making wise and informed decisions."

Yadda yadda yadda. Pharisaical double-talk.

The woman's mean. She's got a heart the size of a peach pit and a habit of lying about her votes.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Some of Foxx's "Accountability"

Statistics compiled by the Institute for Southern Studies in Durham, N.C.:

Amount of aid President Bush immediately requested after hurricanes hit Florida in September 2004: $12 billion.

Number of hours after Hurricane Charley made landfall in Florida that Bush authorized federal assistance: 1.

Date in September that a FEMA consultant wrote a memo suggesting steps to ensure the Florida hurricanes not become a "liability" for the president's re-election: 2

Days after the memo that FEMA announced the pre-storm deployment of "a powerful list of disaster response personnel, equipment and supplies" in Florida for Hurricane Frances, including 100 truckloads of ice and water: 2

Amount of Florida hurricane aid that government investigators later concluded was "questionable," including housing disbursements to families that had not asked for it: $31 million.

Number of hours after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast that FEMA authorized dispatching employees to the region: 5.

Number of days they were allowed to take before arriving there: 2.

Number of days after Hurricane Katrina struck that the administration was "still assessing" amount of aid to request: 4.

Amount that the administration requested for Hurricane Katrina, the worst in history, after four days: $10 billion.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Foxx Couldn't Be Reached for Comment

From today's N&O: "After the vote [for federal relief to the Gulf Coast], Foxx, a Republican from Banner Elk [and one of only 11 who voted against the aid package], was not available for comment. A spokeswoman, Amy Auth, said Foxx is saddened by the disaster and has urged residents to help with relief efforts. But she voted against the spending because she believes it does not have accountability protections built in. 'It is three times the size of the entire state budget of North Carolina,' Auth said. 'Not a penny of it is for reconstruction of the affected area. ... Rep. Foxx wants to be sure that tax money is spent wisely.' "

Hmmmm. "Accountability." And would her model for "accountability" be, say, the Iraqi War?

Pray Like a Baptist, Rule Like a Republican

When El Presidente spoke to cameras yesterday, he declared September 16th as a national day of prayer (Virginia Foxx must be pleased!), and according to the NYTimes, began droning out "a guide to government assistance programs, including Medicaid, assistance for needy families, food stamps, housing and job training, many of which he has tried to trim in the name of leaner government. 'The real irony is that after five years of seeking cuts in just about all these programs, he's now acknowledging their necessity as a safety net,' said Representative John M. Spratt Jr. of South Carolina, the senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee."

And here's a small but telling detail that might escape scrutiny: "Mr. Bush's efforts to strike a compassionate tone were also complicated by his decision to waive a requirement that employers who receive federal government contracts related to the relief effort pay their workers the prevailing wages for that kind of work in the area it is being done. The White House said the change was made to save the government money. John J. Sweeney, the president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O, called it 'unbelievable and outrageous.' "

And may we note that while Virginia Foxx was voting against federal relief money for those who've lost everything to Hurricane Katrina, she wasted no time whatsoever posting to her website instructions for private business entrepreneurs on how to cash in on the flow of federal money that she voted against (scroll down to "FEMA Contracting Opportunities").

If hypocrisy were a face cream, Madame Foxx would be a radient beauty.

Does the NRA Know About This? Does the NRA Care?

Civilians in New Orleans are being forced to surrender their firearms.

But, wait. They're black. Never mind.

Virginia Foxx is praying for them.

Virginia Foxx's Solution to Catastrophe: Pray Like a Baptist

We went to Madame Virginia Foxx's website, expecting to see some explanation for why she voted against the relief package for the Gulf Coast yesterday in Congress. Not a peep there about that vote, but rather this flourish of theatrical piety:

"My thoughts and prayers are with those who suffered through Hurricane Katrina and are continuing to suffer through its aftermath. I especially pray for those who have lost loved ones and hope they can find some comfort in this time of distress."

Some comfort, that! Let them eat mud.

"It is my hope that my constituents will join me in making a contribution to a charitable organization. The people affected by this storm desperately need our help right away. A donation to the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, or other charitable groups will help provide the resources necessary for these people to survive."

Yes, folks, your nickles & dimes will likely do the trick! Pass the hat at your golf resort. That'll rebuild New Orleans, no doubt!

"While our region has suffered from severe storms in the past, we have been fortunate to be spared from a storm of Katrina's magnitude," said Rep. Foxx. "Hurricane Katrina has reminded us of the need to be prepared and have an emergency plan ready in case something like this happens to our region."

That "emergency plan," according to Madame Foxx's voting record, would include a whole lot of nuttin' from government.

You're a fine public servant, lady. But you might want to pray that the people of your district don't find out what you really stand for.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Virginia Foxx to Gulf Coast: Eat Shit & Die

Madame Virginia Foxx was one of 11 Republican members of Congress who today voted against the emergency appropriations bill for victims of Hurricane Katrina (vote # 460, "On Motion to Suspend the Rules and Pass Further Emergency Supplemental Appropriations, Hurricane Katrina, 2005").

This is your congresswoman. She almost never votes against the wishes of her president and her congressional leadership. It's interesting that she should decide to defy El Presidente and Tom DeLay on a bill that will give money in this instance, to these particular people. Interesting ... and revealing.

Madame Foxx loves to brag about having been poor at one time in her life. She's now the richest member of Congress from North Carolina. Her vote today says, approximately, volumes about her humanity, if not about her supreme Republicanism. These personal qualities of hers might have something to do with this story currently moving on the AP wire:

WASHINGTON -- (AP) North Carolina Congresswoman Virginia A. Foxx (R-N.C.) was denied entry onto a Delta Airlines flight out of Washington today when she set off metal detectors at the airport. Federal officials later determined that her chest cavity may have set off the alarms.

Question of the hour: would she have voted against emergency appropriations if, say, Katrina had caused widespread devastation in these mountains like Ivan last fall?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Dicking Around

FINALLY, TOMORROW, some ten days after disaster struck the Gulf coast, our Supreme Leader is planning to show up down there and take a look. V.P. Dick Cheney will be in the neighborhood positively for hours on Thursday.

Lawyer Joke

The N.C. State Bar, which almost never dishes out real punishment to misbehaving lawyers, has charged two Union County prosecutors with committing 23 violations each of the rules that govern lawyers. Kenneth Honeycutt, the former district attorney of Union County, and his assistant, Scott Brewer, are charged with lying to the trial judge, the jury, and the defense lawyers and knowingly using false evidence at the trial of Jonathan Hoffman, who was sentenced to death in 1996 for the robbery and murder of Danny Cook, a jewelry store owner in Marshville, southeast of Charlotte.

Honeycutt retired from his job as district attorney in October after an unsuccessful run for the state House of Representatives. But Brewer -- get this! -- is now a District Court judge based in Rockingham. Just the sort you want on the bench! God save this honorable court!

Sweating the American Dream

Barbara Ehrenreich ... a name to conjure with. Her national best-seller on the lives of the working poor, "Nickle & Dimed," was featured locally for the freshman reading program at ASU in 2003. Ehrenreich's research for "Nickle & Dimed" involved a series of minimum-wage jobs (including one at Wal-Mart). She tried to live on her poor earnings and produced what one reviewer called a "heart-wrenching, infuriating, funny, smart and empowering" report. Our own Madame Virginia Foxx took one look, sniffed like she was smelling feces, and pronounced the book "propaganda," since it did not cheer for the supposed economic recovery of the Bush administration. Despite Madame Foxx's disdain, "Nickle & Dimed" has sold more than a million hardcover and paperback copies combined, according to its publisher; the paperback edition has spent 92 weeks on the New York Times's bestseller list.

Now Ehrenreich has produced another book in like fashion, living the life she's trying to report on, only this time she went undercover as an unemployed white-collar professional. The result, "Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream," is out now. "Bait and Switch," combined with "Nickle & Dimed," presents a vivid portrait of the "American Dream" as a soul-destroying fraud meant to keep the working class -- whether they slop food in a diner or slop PR for a major corporation -- anesthetized and uncritical of the power elite who control their lives.

A lengthy article in today's WashPost on Ehrenreich's new book is worth a look.

What caught my eye is this passage: "What are her hopes for 'Bait and Switch'? She wants her middle-class readers to stop thinking of poor people as 'the other,' some kind of unique species, fundamentally different from themselves. 'I want the 35-year-old middle manager at a bank to be thinking: I have something in common with a homeless person. It could happen. I'm not so far away from that.' "

We're none of us so very far away from being in the same soup as those poor souls on the Gulf coast ... though you can't tell it from the continuing voice of the pharisees that we hear in the land: "Those people in New Orleans brought it on themselves!"

Monday, September 05, 2005

Ask, But Don't Wait For an Answer

Frank Rich, in Sunday's NYTimes:

"...But a president who flew from Crawford to Washington in a heartbeat to intervene in the medical case of a single patient, Terri Schiavo, has no business lecturing anyone about playing politics with tragedy. Eventually we're going to have to examine the administration's behavior before, during and after this storm as closely as its history before, during and after 9/11. We're going to have to ask if troops and matériel of all kinds could have arrived faster without the drain of national resources into a quagmire. We're going to have to ask why it took almost two days of people being without food, shelter and water for Mr. Bush to get back to Washington...."

Bush Launches Huge Disaster Relief

The Bush administration has swung into crisis mode to relieve the untold damage done by Hurricane Katrina. Karl Rove has been put in charge of damage control. The holes that have been blown in President Bush's popularity ratings and his credibility threaten to swamp the White House itself, so Rove, along with White House communications director Dan Bartlett, were described by the New York Times as moving rapidly yesterday to shore up Mr. Bush's dykes and levees. "That Karl Rove-- he can move tons of dirt overnight," said an admiring Bartlett.

For example, the Rove machinery was moving swiftly yesterday to blame the Biblical misery of the Gulf coast on available Democratic whipping boys & girls ... especially Louisiana Gov. Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Nagin. "Now THIS is disaster relief," sighed a clearly grateful Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Even Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice showed up to look at the damage. She was wearing new shoes.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Kanye West Lets 'er Rip

We were watching last night the live fundraising broadcast for Katrina victims on NBC when rapper Kanye West departed slightly from the script. Here's what happened, as taken down by Lisa de Moraes of the Washington Post:

West was not scheduled to perform; he was one of the blah, blah, blahers, who would read from scripts prepared by the network about the impact of Katrina on southern Louisiana and Mississippi.

West and Mike Myers had been paired up to appear about halfway through the show. Their assignment: Take turns reading a script describing the breach in the levees around New Orleans.

Myers: The landscape of the city has changed dramatically, tragically and perhaps irreversibly. There is now over 25 feet of water where there was once city streets and thriving neighborhoods.

(Myers throws to West.)

West: I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family, it says, "They're looting." You see a white family, it says, "They're looking for food." And, you know, it's been five days [waiting for federal help] because most of the people are black. And even for me to complain about it, I would be a hypocrite because I've tried to turn away from the TV because it's too hard to watch. I've even been shopping before even giving a donation, so now I'm calling my business manager right now to see what is the biggest amount I can give, and just to imagine if I was down there, and those are my people down there. So anybody out there that wants to do anything that we can help -- with the way America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off, as slow as possible. I mean, the Red Cross is doing everything they can. We already realize a lot of people that could help are at war right now, fighting another way -- and they've given them permission to go down and shoot us!

(West throws back to Myers, who is looking like a guy who stopped on the tarmac to tie his shoe and got hit in the back with the 8:30 to La Guardia.)

Myers: And subtle, but in many ways even more profoundly devastating, is the lasting damage to the survivors' will to rebuild and remain in the area. The destruction of the spirit of the people of southern Louisiana and Mississippi may end up being the most tragic loss of all.

(And, because Myers is apparently as dumb as his Alfalfa hair, he throws it back to West.)

West: George Bush doesn't care about black people!

(Back to Myers, now looking like the 8:30 to La Guardia turned around and caught him square between the eyes.)

Myers: Please call...

At which point someone at NBC News finally regained control of the joystick and cut over to Chris Tucker, who started right in with more scripted blah, blah, blah.

"Tonight's telecast was a live television event wrought with emotion," parent company NBC Universal said in a statement issued after the broadcast.

"Kanye West departed from the scripted comments that were prepared for him, and his opinions in no way represent the views of the networks. It would be most unfortunate if the efforts of the artists who participated tonight and the generosity of millions of Americans who are helping those in need are overshadowed by one person's opinion."

Small But Significant Events; Huge Equivocations

Our local three-times-a-week news rag, the redoubtable Watauga Democrat, came out editorially yesterday calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq ... or at least that's how we read the following sentence: "Let's get our troops and money out of Iraq and bring them to bear on this wound in our national side [the devastation from hurricane Katrina] before it's too late."

That's a small but significant event.

The huge equivocation came in another article (evidently not available on-line) in Friday's Watauga Democrat, headlined "Lottery gets mixed local reviews." For that article, our state senator John Garwood was interviewed. He as much as admits that he actively participated in the lottery's passage BY NOT SHOWING UP FOR THE VOTE, and that furthermore he's clearly happy it passed:

"Garwood, who had been hospitalized with a leg infection and was recovering at his Wilkesboro home, said he could have 'paired' with a senator who supported the bill and prevented the tie [which was broken by Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue]. Under Senate rules, such pairing is allowed when a legislator is out of town and an opposing legislator agrees to withhold a vote. Garwood said he chose not to take that action because he felt the lottery was only a matter of time and would have been approved in the spring."

Said the teenager to her mom, "It was only a matter of time before I lost my virginity, so I thought, 'Why not tonight?' You understand, don't you, Mom?"

"I have mixed feelings," Garwood said. "I did not seek a pair [and don't HAVE a pair?] that could have forestalled it. The lottery is inevitable. We've got one now, only three other states are getting the money .... I'm not as upset with it as perhaps some of my colleagues are. We've never had enough money for education. This will help counties that don't have the tax base they need to keep their schools up .... There's more conservatism in my district, and I'll probably suffer for it. I didn't vote for it, and I didn't vote against it."

We believe that's a textbook case of equivocation.

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Mayor Is Pissed

The partial transcript of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's interview with a WWL reporter (via Daily Dissent):

We told them there is an incredible crisis here, and his [Prez Bush's] flying over in Air Force One does not do it justice. And I have been all around this city, and I am very frustrated because we are not able to marshal resources, and we're out-manned in just about every respect. You know the reason why the looters got out of control? Because we had most of our resources saving people, thousands of people that were stuck in attics, man. And old ladies -- when you pull off the doggone ventilator vent, and you look down there, and they're standing in there and water up to their freaking neck. And they [all the president's men] don't have a clue what's going on down here. They flew down here one time two days after the doggone event was over, with TV cameras, AP reporters, all kind of goddamn excuse my French everybody in America, but I am pissed.

I need reinforcements, I need troops, man. I need 500 buses, man. We're talking about, you know, one of the reasons we're talking about getting public school bus drivers to come down here, bus people. I'm like, "You got to be kidding me!" This is a national disaster! Get every doggone Greyhound Bus line in the country, and get their asses moving to New Orleans. That's their thinking -- small, man! And this is a major, major, major deal. I can't emphasize it enough, man. This is crazy. I've got 15- to 20-thousand people over at the convention center; it's bursting at the seams. The poor people in Plaquemines Parish, the airvac of people over here over to New Orleans. And we don't have anything, and we're sharing with our brothers. It's awful down here, man.

I have no idea what they're doing, but I will tell you this: you know God is looking down on all this, and if they're not doing everything in their power to save people, they are going to pay the price. Because everyday that we delay, people are dying, and they're dying by the hundreds I'm willing to bet you. We are getting reports that are breaking my heart. [...] They're feeding the public a line of bull, and they're spinning, and people are dying down here....

Anderson Wept

From the transcript of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees" last night (thanks, Irmaly):

COOPER: Joining me from Baton Rouge is Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu. Senator, appreciate you joining us tonight. Does the federal government bear responsibility for what is happening now? Should they apologize for what is happening now?

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: Anderson, there will be plenty of time to discuss all of those issues, about why, and how, and what, and if. But, Anderson, as you understand, and all of the producers and directors of CNN, and the news networks, this situation is very serious, and it's going to demand all of our full attention through the hours, through the nights, through the days. Let me just say a few things. Thank President Clinton and former President Bush for their strong statements of support and comfort today. I thank all the leaders that are coming to Louisiana, and Mississippi, and Alabama to our help and rescue. We are grateful for the military assets that are being brought to bear. I want to thank Senator Frist and Senator Reid for their extraordinary efforts. Anderson, tonight, I don't know if you've heard -- maybe you all have announced it -- but Congress is going to an unprecedented session to pass a $10 billion supplemental bill tonight to keep FEMA and the Red Cross up and operating.

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

LANDRIEU: Anderson, I have the anger inside of me. Most of the homes in my family have been destroyed. Our homes have been destroyed. I understand what you're saying, and I know all of those details. And the president of the United States knows those details.

COOPER: Well, who are you angry at?

LANDRIEU: I'm not angry at anyone. I'm just expressing that it is so important for everyone in this nation to pull together, for all military assets and all assets to be brought to bare in this situation. And I have every confidence that this country is as great and as strong as we can be to do that. And that effort is under way.

COOPER: Well, I mean, there are a lot of people here who are kind of ashamed of what is happening in this country right now, what is -- ashamed of what is happening in your state, certainly. And that's not to blame the people who are there. It's a desperate situation. But I guess, you know, who can -- I mean, no one seems to be taking responsibility. I mean, I know you say there's a time and a place for, kind of, you know, looking back, but this seems to be the time and the place. I mean, there are people who want answers, and there are people who want someone to stand up and say, "You know what? We should have done more. Are all the assets being brought to bare?"

LANDRIEU: Anderson, Anderson...

COOPER: I mean, today, for the first time, I'm seeing National Guard troops in this town.

LANDRIEU: Anderson, I know. And I know where you are. And I know what you're seeing. Believe me, we know it. And we understand, and there will be a time to talk about all of that. Trust me. I know what the people are suffering. The governor knows. The president knows. The military officials know. And they're trying to do the very best they can to stabilize the situation....

Thursday, September 01, 2005

FDA Official Quits in Protest

About all I can do today is quote other people. This from today's NYTimes:

The director of the Food and Drug Administration's office of women's health resigned yesterday to protest the agency's decision last week to further delay approving over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill.

"I feel very strongly that this shouldn't be about abortion politics," the director, Dr. Susan F. Wood, who is an assistant F.D.A. commissioner, said in a telephone interview. "This is a way to prevent unwanted pregnancy and thereby prevent abortion. This should be something that we should all agree on." ...


In what parallel universe, Dr. Wood?


One casts about for words. No words can do justice to the horrific scenes in New Orleans and elsewhere. One seeks out images, but the images cannot be borne, not without a lot more alcohol in the house than I can currently find, and gasoline is too high to go running to the store. We wait with resignation for this news:

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) -- Today President George W. Bush, responding to the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina, called for massive tax-cut legislation. "The only way we're going to be able to rebuild is to give more money to rich people and corporations," the President said, speaking to reporters via telephone from Camp David, where he and his entourage have gone for a long weekend....

One casts about at times like this for SOMEONE ELSE to say the obvious. Thank God we found Harold Raines, writing in The Guardian (thanks to Albert for the tip):

...The performance of George Bush during this past week has been outrageous. Almost as unbelievable as Katrina itself is the fact that the leader of the free world has been outshone by the elected leaders of a region renowned for governmental ineptitude. Louisiana's anguished governor, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, climbed into a helicopter at the first possible moment to survey what may become the worst weather-related disaster in American history. She might even have been able to stop the looting in New Orleans if the 141st Field Artillery of the Louisiana Army National Guard had not been in Iraq for the past 11 months. They are among thousands of Southern guardsmen who could have been federalised by the stroke of a pen had they not been deployed in a phony war. Even Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi, a tiresome blowhard as chairman of the Republican National Committee, has shone a throat-catching public sorrow and sleepless diligence that puts Bush to shame.

This president, who flew away on Monday to fundraisers in the west while the hurricane blew away entire towns in coastal Mississippi, is very much his father's son when it comes to the kinds of emergencies that used to call forth immediate White House action before its Bushite captivity. When he was president, his father did not visit Miami after Hurricane Andrew, nor for that matter, did he mind being photographed tooling his golf cart around Kennebunkport while American troops died in the first Iraq war. Now the younger Bush seems determined to show his successors how to holiday through an apocalypse. Consider the visible federal leadership presence in Louisiana on the day that the levee broke, a full day after the hurricane first hit. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the US government department charged with disaster preparation and response, issued the usual promises. Bush, for his part, urged people not to stay where they were, even if their evacuation residence might be the roofless, toilet-clogged Superdome.

Meanwhile, in Baton Rouge, an army colonel seemed to be the most senior federal official at a televised news conference called to announce a Corps of Engineers plan to drop sand bags into the raceway of the broken levee. The proposed drop did not take place because the shortage of helicopters was such that the aircraft had to be diverted to rescue work. Twenty-four hours later, on Wednesday, as Bush met by intercom with his emergency team and considered a return to Washington, as Pentagon and Homeland Security promised relief by the weekend, intensive care patients were dying at Charity Hospital in New Orleans. They had languished for two full days because the overworked coast guard helicopter crews available in New Orleans did not have time to reach them. As for the Superdome refugees, it finally fell to the governor of Texas to announce that they could come to Houston's Astrodome. What other American president, one wonders, would fail to house these people in the decent barracks available at the closed and active military bases scattered throughout the South? The plain fact is that Jimmy Carter did a better job of housing the Mariel refugees from Cuba than Bush has done with the citizens of New Orleans.

The populism of Huey Long was financially corrupt, but when it came to the welfare of people, it was caring. The church-going cultural populism of George Bush has given the United States an administration that worries about the house of Saud and the welfare of oil companies while the poor drown in their attics and their sons and daughters die on foreign deserts.