...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Friday, September 30, 2005
      ( 6:12 AM )
True Colors

Tapped notes that John Conyers has taken action against the latest and most horrifying move from Bill Bennett (The "Values" wing of the Right):

GOOD FOR HIM. John Conyers has sent a letter to The Salem Radio Network asking how they can dare continue airing Bill Bennett after he said:

if you wanted to reduce crime, you could - if that were your sole purpose - abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down

One thing about this post-Katrina period, it sure has brought out everyone's true colors. No normal person could even think such a thing, let alone utter it, let alone utter it on the radio, in public, for all the world to hear. I don't know where Bennett has been spending his days since turning in his virtuecrat hat, but it clearly hasn't been in decent society, where people are appalled by statements like his. That the man was once the Republican Education Secretary -- responsible for educating America's youth for success under Ronald Reagan, rather than condemning them from birth as future criminals -- is even more disturbing. Come to think of it, wasn't Bennett education secretary back when a lot of the Katrina victims were growing up? He helped create the world they live in, didn't he?

Do people actually see these men as true leaders? If so, we are so much worse off than we imagine. We cannot allow this kind of blatant and disgusting talk and behavior to continue to be rewarded with high-paying talk radio contracts, cable news shows or political positions. Even after Katrina, are we not yet awake?

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Thursday, September 29, 2005
      ( 6:19 AM )

The whirlwind of corporate-media support of Tom DeLay is only starting, so I don't really feel like getting too wound up about it now. I think the most effective response for any of us will be to support (especially financially) the guy who's running against him for '06 in his Houston district.

But Meanwhile...the administration has claimed to once again have killed a "Number Two Man in Al Qaeda." How many Number Two's or Number Three's can there be? MyDD notes that the media may be catching on to this little habit of the administration to claim great strides in Al Qaeda hunting everytime someone is caught or killed with a name they recognize. Grasping at straws, I think, will become more and more prevalant as the days of this administration continue to wane.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005
      ( 5:47 PM )
Proud Mama

I try every so often to put myself in Cindy Sheehan's shoes. I cannot. My son is only 3 years old. I can't imagine losing him. But even more horrifying is the thought of knowing him and loving him for 20+ years and then losing him to a violence that he did not have to face for any good reason. And not a sudden, inexplicable violence like a car accident or plane crash. No, a violence plotted and maintained on purpose by those who have never faced the kind of loss that Cindy Sheehan and other Gold Star families have faced.

Cindy got herself arrested yesterday. One of the tried and true ways to declare your dissent against a government that is committing wrong in your name is to disavow that government's laws. It's called civil disobedience. You declare in a nonviolent way that you cannot honor the laws of a government that does not honor you as its citizen or its soldiers as its servants.

Cindy explains

Being arrested is not a big deal. Even though we were arrested for "demonstrating without a permit," we were protesting something that is much more serious than sitting on a sidewalk: the tragic and needless deaths of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis and Americans (both in Iraq and here in America) who would be alive if it weren't for the criminals who reside in and work in the White House.

Karl Rove (besides just being a very creepy man) outted a CIA agent and was responsible for endangering many of our covert agents worldwide. Dick Cheney's old company is reaping profits beyond anyone's wildest imaginations in their no-bid contracts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and New Orleans. John Negroponte's activities in South America are very shady and murderous. Rumsfeld and Gonzales are responsible for illegal and immoral authorization, encouragement and approval of torture; not to mention, violating Geneva Conventions, torture endangers the lives of our service men and women in Iraq. Along with the above mentioned traitors, Condi lied through her teeth in the insane run-up to the invasion. The list of crimes this administration has committed is extensive, abhorrent, and unbelievable. What is so unbelievable is that WE were arrested for exercising our first amendment rights and these people are running free to enjoy their lives of crime and to wreak havoc on the world.

The fine for "demonstrating without a permit" is $75.00. I am certain that I won't pay it. My court date is November 16th. Any lawyers out there want to help me challenge an unconstitutional law?

When the mothers of the children who are being killed for ...WHAT??? are the ones being arrested, and yet there are actual criminals running things from the White House, the country MUST sit up and pay attention. ESPECIALLY if you are a parent. This administration does not care for our children or their future.

Whether by draft, poverty, hunger or lack of healthcare, our children are being eliminated from their potential futures. By the government this nation elected. Yes, we ALLOWED a second term for this administration. It's on our heads. If we do not start working now to reverse the damage, there will be hardly anything left to work with. We can't wait for politicians to save us. Lord knows our Democratic Party leaders aren't going to do anything substantial. It's up to us. We've GOT to get involved and start to change things now. Whether that means getting on board with your union's bargaining team, working for your local progressive party, volunteering for someone who's challenging an incumbent, or writing regular letters to your representative, we've got to do SOMETHING. Now. If there is something I'm always grateful to Howard Dean for, it's giving the regular American citizen the idea that they indeed can make a difference. It's time for that spirit to revive itself and start showing the country and the world that no, we actually DON'T agree with what is going on and we are willing to do what needs to be done to change it.

Cindy made that choice. She's lost her son and her heart - her life as she knew it. But she made the choice to do something. Really, can we say we have any excuse not to follow her lead?

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      ( 5:41 PM )

Wow. I'm with Maru. I could watch this all day.

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      ( 4:01 PM )
Leading By Example

The President feels that the lack of energy conservation in our country needs to be addressed. Especially now that his oil company buddies really have the opportunity to gouge us all. So he addressed the nation, asking for some real sacrifice:

Bush issued his call for conservation after receiving a briefing on the energy outlook. He urged Americans to avoid unnecessary car trips and encouraged federal workers to use public transportation or join car pools.

He directed federal agencies to curtail nonessential travel and to conserve electricity during peak hours when possible.

"If it makes sense for the citizen out there to curtail nonessential travel, it darn sure makes sense for federal employees," Bush said. "We can encourage employees to car-pool or use mass transit, and we can shift peak electricity use to off-peak hours. There's ways for the federal government to lead when it comes to conservation."

But... really, who's keeping track?

The president's spokesman says this trip is, in fact, essential so the president can get a look at recovery efforts.

Spokesman Scott McClellan says the president's motorcade of gas-guzzling vans and SUVs is being shortened, but it's hard to make similar savings on Air Force One.

The Air Force recently estimated that fuel costs on the presidential aircraft have risen past $6,000 an hour, up from just under $4,000 in the last budget year.

Well, at least he left his official Presidential Hummer2 at home. Little Favors.

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Saturday, September 24, 2005
      ( 1:51 PM )
Great Day in DC

Wish I could be there. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have gathered today to show solidarity in the face of the ongoing decisions that this administration continues to make that send young Americans to their deaths and debilitating injuries. It's not just lefties out there. There are Republicans, families, Gold Star parents, veterans of this and other wars. It is ALWAYS the right time to stand up and resist a government that only seeks to endanger us. It's even better when that time is coordinated and close to 250,000 show up. I'm so proud of every American and every world citizen who is demonstrating what true freedom looks like today. THESE citizens speak for me. Thanks, guys.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005
      ( 7:41 PM )
Scientists Baffled

It's a shock for everyone:

In a strange reversal, astronomers have detected a massive black hole but can find no traces of the surrounding galaxy that should be feeding it.

No more apt description of the White House have I ever heard.

...oh, we weren't talking about the Oval Office?

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      ( 7:05 PM )
The Heart of New Orleans

This second week of school has been more taxing than the first. But I am absolutely in love with being a high school teacher. The work to get to this point was all worth it. I'm truly enjoying teaching Global Studies to sophomores. The freshmen are really difficult, but my sense is that they are like freshmen in college - they're suddenly set free from the structure of middle school and they're going crazy. They'll shape up in a bit, for now, they are very tiring.

Anyway, I came across this article today (it's from last weekend) - it's an editorial by Wynton Marsalis - one of my favorite musicians - a New Orleans native. He has a lot of really poignant things to say, but the entire article is really a call to truth and honesty about the importance of this region to our country and how we all need to be its guardians.

New Orleans has a habit of tweaking the national consciousness at pivotal times. The last foreign invasion on U.S. soil was repelled in the Crescent City in 1815. The Union had an important early victory over the South with the capture of the Big Easy in 1862. Homer Plessy, a black New Orleanian, fought for racial equality in 1896, although it took our Supreme Court 58 years to agree with him and, with Brown v. Board of Education, to declare segregation unequal. Martin Luther King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference was formally organized in New Orleans in 1957. The problem is that we, all us Americans, have a tendency to rise in that moment of need, but when that moment passes, we fall back again.

The images of a ruined city make it clear that we need to rebuild New Orleans. The images of people stranded, in shock, indicate that we need to rebuild a community. The images of all sorts of Americans aiding these victims speak of the size of our hearts. But this time we need to look a little deeper. Let's use the resurrection of the city to reacquaint the country with the gift of New Orleans: a multicultural community invigorated by the arts. Forget about tolerance. What about embracing. This tragedy implores us to re-examine the soul of America. Our democracy from its very beginnings has been challenged by the shackles of slavery. The parade of black folks across our TV screens asking, as if ghosts, "Have you seen my father, mother, sister, brother?" reconnects us all to the still unfulfilled goals of the Reconstruction era. We always back away from fixing our nation's racial problems. Not fixing the city's levees before Katrina struck will now cost us untold billions. Not resolving the nation's issues of race and class has and will cost us so much more.

Read the whole thing. You'll be glad you did.

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Thursday, September 08, 2005
      ( 7:49 PM )

It's unfathomable to me how this could have happened. How it continues to happen. How it's only now that people are recognizing the vast black hole of leadership in our government - a vaccuum that took a disaster of epic proportions that will leave our nation scarred for decades to be recognized. It's so devastating and so hard to even wrap your head around it, it's just impossible to respond coherently sometimes.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005
      ( 7:12 PM )
Why I Will Always Love Howard Dean

I didn't think he should have taken the head of the DNC because I believe that he belongs outside the political machines. But today he showed once again why his leadership and his honesty is sorely needed... loudly and in public. A taste of true leadership, helping to coordinate the effort that should have already been in place and provided by the federal government:

In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, you mobilized to make sure that the Red Cross had the financial resources it needed to respond swiftly. The response was literally overwhelming -- so many donations poured in that their web site struggled to process them.

Since then Americans have seen another kind of disaster unfold. The irresponsible lack of attention by our federal government has led directly to the devastation of communities and the loss of American lives.

The federal response over these crucial first days has been totally unacceptable. There will be a time for a full accounting of the preventable part of this disaster, and those responsible will be held accountable. It will be soon.

But there are lives to save right now and our focus must be steady. People need help right now. And you can be a direct participant in the relief efforts by providing housing for a victim of the disaster.

The vast number of evacuees has triggered a cascading crisis -- the first group of evacuation centers in the Gulf States has been overwhelmed, and the surrounding states have seen their capacity exceeded as well.

Hundreds of thousands of survivors are being transported in small groups to cities and towns across the country. A coalition of groups has put together a web site to collect offers of housing and provide a place for victims to search for help. You can offer shelter -- whether for a few days or a few weeks -- by signing up here:


Karl is trying to do his best to save face for Bush...but as Kos notes, it isn't working this time.

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      ( 6:56 PM )
Worth a Thousand Words...

Luckovich can usually say it better than anyone with a few strokes of his pen...

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      ( 6:43 PM )
Nero's Timeline

Kos shows us Bush's response to his citizens' devastation...in pictures.


Terry Neal asks the questions we're all asking.

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Monday, September 05, 2005
      ( 10:14 AM )
When You Can't Embed them...

It has been fascinating to see normally big-media, corporate reporters become radicalized as they report from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Even Sheppard Smith of Fox News has lost it several times, yelling the truth to the unhearing ears of his newsroom compatriots back on the East Coast. What happens when you can't control the comings and goings of reporters is that the truth gets out, and reporters and viewers are finding that out. One wonders what we might have learned from Iraq the last 3 years if this same ability to truly report had been present.

Shamefully, the administration is still attempting to fake it. There appears to be a great discrepancy between what CNN reported in the now well-known exchange between President Bush and a refugee in Biloxi where she begs for help and he directs her to a food distribution center and then an aide comments that it "no longer exists." The confusion of the woman and Bush were evidently genuine - German reporter on the scene reports that Bush's earlier visit to the shelter/distribution center was completely staged and once he left and news crews departed, the fake center was torn down.

ZDF News reported that the president's visit was a completely staged event. Their crew witnessed how the open air food distribution point Bush visited in front of the cameras was torn down immediately after the president and the herd of 'news people' had left and that others which were allegedly being set up were abandoned at the same time.

The people in the area were once again left to fend for themselves, said ZDF.

The depth of crimes against humanity this administration has committed this last week is unfathomable.

For ongoing and very excellent coverage and comment, I recommend Wonkette.

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Sunday, September 04, 2005
      ( 8:24 PM )
From Those Who Feel It Most

An open letter from the Times-Picayune to the president today:

We heard you loud and clear Friday when you visited our devastated city and the Gulf Coast and said, "What is not working, we’re going to make it right."

Please forgive us if we wait to see proof of your promise before believing you. But we have good reason for our skepticism.

Bienville built New Orleans where he built it for one main reason: It’s accessible. The city between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain was easy to reach in 1718.

How much easier it is to access in 2005 now that there are interstates and bridges, airports and helipads, cruise ships, barges, buses and diesel-powered trucks.

Despite the city’s multiple points of entry, our nation’s bureaucrats spent days after last week’s hurricane wringing their hands, lamenting the fact that they could neither rescue the city’s stranded victims nor bring them food, water and medical supplies.

Meanwhile there were journalists, including some who work for The Times-Picayune, going in and out of the city via the Crescent City Connection. On Thursday morning, that crew saw a caravan of 13 Wal-Mart tractor trailers headed into town to bring food, water and supplies to a dying city.

Television reporters were doing live reports from downtown New Orleans streets. Harry Connick Jr. brought in some aid Thursday, and his efforts were the focus of a "Today" show story Friday morning.

Yet, the people trained to protect our nation, the people whose job it is to quickly bring in aid were absent. Those who should have been deploying troops were singing a sad song about how our city was impossible to reach.

We’re angry, Mr. President, and we’ll be angry long after our beloved city and surrounding parishes have been pumped dry. Our people deserved rescuing. Many who could have been were not. That’s to the government’s shame.

Mayor Ray Nagin did the right thing Sunday when he allowed those with no other alternative to seek shelter from the storm inside the Louisiana Superdome. We still don’t know what the death toll is, but one thing is certain: Had the Superdome not been opened, the city’s death toll would have been higher. The toll may even have been exponentially higher.

It was clear to us by late morning Monday that many people inside the Superdome would not be returning home. It should have been clear to our government, Mr. President. So why weren’t they evacuated out of the city immediately? We learned seven years ago, when Hurricane Georges threatened, that the Dome isn’t suitable as a long-term shelter. So what did state and national officials think would happen to tens of thousands of people trapped inside with no air conditioning, overflowing toilets and dwindling amounts of food, water and other essentials?

State Rep. Karen Carter was right Friday when she said the city didn’t have but two urgent needs: "Buses! And gas!" Every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be fired, Director Michael Brown especially.

In a nationally televised interview Thursday night, he said his agency hadn’t known until that day that thousands of storm victims were stranded at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. He gave another nationally televised interview the next morning and said, "We’ve provided food to the people at the Convention Center so that they’ve gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day."

Lies don’t get more bald-faced than that, Mr. President.

Yet, when you met with Mr. Brown Friday morning, you told him, "You’re doing a heck of a job."

That’s unbelievable.

There were thousands of people at the Convention Center because the riverfront is high ground. The fact that so many people had reached there on foot is proof that rescue vehicles could have gotten there, too.

We, who are from New Orleans, are no less American than those who live on the Great Plains or along the Atlantic Seaboard. We’re no less important than those from the Pacific Northwest or Appalachia. Our people deserved to be rescued.

No expense should have been spared. No excuses should have been voiced. Especially not one as preposterous as the claim that New Orleans couldn’t be reached.

Mr. President, we sincerely hope you fulfill your promise to make our beloved communities work right once again.

When you do, we will be the first to applaud.

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      ( 8:11 PM )
In Their Own Words

New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin on Friday in a radio interview.

WWL: What else can we do?

NAGIN: Organize people to write letters and make calls to their congressmen, to the president, to the governor. Flood their doggone offices with requests to do something. This is ridiculous.

I don't want to see anybody do anymore goddamn press conferences. Put a moratorium on press conferences. Don't do another press conference until the resources are in this city. And then come down to this city and stand with us when there are military trucks and troops that we can't even count.

Don't tell me 40,000 people are coming here. They're not here. It's too doggone late. Now get off your asses and do something, and let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country.

WWL: I'll say it right now, you're the only politician that's called and called for arms like this. And if -- whatever it takes, the governor, president -- whatever law precedent it takes, whatever it takes, I bet that the people listening to you are on your side.

NAGIN: Well, I hope so, Garland. I am just -- I'm at the point now where it don't matter. People are dying. They don't have homes. They don't have jobs. The city of New Orleans will never be the same in this time.

WWL: We're both pretty speechless here.

NAGIN: Yeah, I don't know what to say. I got to go.

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Thursday, September 01, 2005
      ( 6:13 PM )
What Words

...can describe what is going on in this country? In the richest country on earth, we are allowing people to die in the streets. I cannot fathom what is happening in the Gulf Coast. I see the pictures on the television and I can't even begin to imagine what is to become of us. People begging for help, people who could have been helped sooner, who could have been gotten out before devastation hit. But our leadership values corporate welfare more than it values human lives. Thus, rescue missions were cut off in order to protect stores' profits. No federal power has been put to use by insisting that airlines and hotel chains open their doors and just help to get the people OUT before they all die. No federal muscle has been put on the gas companies. Everyone already knows that the fact that the poor people of New Orleans are the ones most suffering and dying - but does that matter? And we have no army to declare marshall law, send in the troops and just GET THE PEOPLE OUT.

If you can host a refugee family, MoveOn has a way for you to help.

It appears the federal government expect all of us citizens to take care of this situation. Fine, we will do that - we love our fellow man and we value their lives. It's utterly incredible to me what is happening.

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