Friday, September 30, 2005

Minutemen receive criticism, praise

A few months ago the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps received national media exposure for their efforts to stem the tide of illegal immigrants across the U.S./Mexico border. They're back and it's a good thing.

The Minuteman Project "is launching a monthlong vigil along America's northern border this weekend, expanding its operations to demand heightened security at U.S. borders ... Although the number of arrests at the southwestern border dwarfs those to the north — well over 1 million versus about 12,000 annually — Minuteman members say that the Canadian border, which at 5,525 miles is almost three times the length of the Mexican border, is vulnerable to terrorists and criminals."

LINK

Jon Stewart makes fun of DeLay

Jon Stewart, of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, had a great segment last night regarding Rep. Tom DeLay and is indictment on conspiracy charges. The "I'm So Indicted!" segment included such quips on DeLay's political action group, TRMPAC (TuPac's much skinnier brother) and his first ethics charge in 1993 (Ahh... yes... First ever ethics charge. Makes a Congressboy a Congressman).

Visit TV Squad for additional coverage. A video clip of the "I'm So Indicted!" segment can be found at The Daily Show website.

Pelosi vs. DeLay

My belief that all politicians are corrupt to one degree or another continues to be supported by such people as Rep. Tom DeLay. After Delay's recent indictment, House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi remarked, "The criminal indictment of Majority Leader Tom Delay is the latest example that Republicans in Congress are plagued by a culture of corruption at the expense of the American people."

Pelosi has short term memory loss. It was only last week the she was found guilty of violating federal election law similar to DeLay's indictment.

LINK

The wonderful federal government ...

If the Transportation Security Administration doesn't "have the capability to perform a simple computer-based search" to locate individual records on the "no fly" list, how do they check it for terrorists?

"In response to a fruitless Privacy Act request by four Alaska residents, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) encouraged other airline passengers to request their own files. TSA recently began notifying the passengers who filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Privacy Act requests that it lacks the ability to easily search its records. TSA also said that it would close such requests unless individuals provided additional detailed information, such as the air carrier they used, the dates of travel, and their phone numbers -- part of the data that requestors were seeking in the first place."

LINK

Needing some help

It seems the only way Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Katrina refugees can receive FEMA aid is to be in a shelter and know how to work the system.

The AP and KPLC-TV report that "One man says he called FEMA this morning, and was told there was no help for him because the region hadn't been declared a disaster area. Others told of a similar response. One woman shouted that President Bush made sure to declare Texas a disaster area, while everyone 'just forgot about' Louisiana."

In follow-up to Hurricane Katrina, the following e-mail was sent to me.

LINK

Thursday, September 29, 2005

LSU fans causing more problems

Believe me, as an LSU fan myself and having grown up enjoying muggy Saturday nights in Tiger Stadium, I can attest to the inane and vacuos attitude of many a Tiger fan(atic). I've had some not-so-proud moments while tailgating and at the games.

However, I've never taken it to the point that a number of LSU fans (?) did Monday night when they threw "beer bottles at a bus full of Tennessee cheerleaders and other members of the traveling party, including [Tennessee athletic director Mike] Hamilton, as the bus arrived for the LSU game Monday. Three windows on the bus were broken. Bertman has pleaded with LSU fans for better game day behavior several times over the years after incidents with other Southeastern Conference teams and their fans."

Cindy hopes to get lucky

Cindy Sheehan writes about being "arrested along with hundreds of other protestors after failing to heed police admonitions ..."

In her 9/27/05 post, Sheehan emotes, "I had a huge grin on my face when I was getting arrested yesterday. I have received a lot of flak for smiling. Apparently I am not supposed to smile, but I had some really good reasons for doing so."

Perhaps she's smiling because those are the first men to touch her in several years. Just look at where that cop's hand is.

Do you have to go No. 2?

"Did that headline in the Los Angeles Times the other day — the one about 'No. 2 Al Qaeda Leader in Iraq is Killed' — look familiar? There's a reason for that: you've read it before, or at least headlines a lot like it. Consider this one — 'Iraqis Nab Top Zarqawi Aide' — that ran on the Fox News Web Site last Jan. 24, 2005, over an Associated Press story reporting the arrest of one Abu Omar al-Kurdi. Or the stories a year earlier reporting the apprehension of one, Husam al-Yemeni, described by the U.S. military as the shadowy Abu Musab Zarqawi's 'right hand man.' It turns out there's quite a pattern here."

Pot calling kettle black

"Travis County, Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle, the man behind Wednesday's indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on state campaign-finance charges, has also indicted several corporations in the probe. But last June, National Review's Byron York learned that Earle offered some of those companies deals in which the charges would be dismissed — if the corporations came up with big donations to one of Earle's favorite causes."

Katrina exodus reaches all states

"Hurricane Katrina has dispersed 1.3 million Gulf Coast households to communities in every state from Maine to Hawaii, according to the first official accounting of the disaster's unprecedented ripple effect."

Poor, poor Roman Polanski

"Before he became cinema's enfant terrible and a fugitive from U.S. justice, and long before he won an Academy Award, director Roman Polanski was a small boy trapped in a nightmarish childhood of turmoil and loss. His parents were sent to Nazi death camps, and his mother died at Auschwitz. Polanski escaped the horrors of Poland's Krakow ghetto, living off the charity of strangers in the countryside until his father reappeared to claim him."

Then Roman Polanski became a rapist.

Rick "Rooster" Santorum

Hats off to Santorum, he understands politics
Philadelphia Daily News (04/11/2005)
By John Baer

MY HAT'S OFF to Rick Santorum.

I mean it. Say what you want, this is one pol who works it.

Whether it's flying off to Rome to the pope's funeral, or putting out news he personally met with the pope five - count 'em, five times - he knows how to touch his bases.

More Catholic, one could say, than, well, you know.

And take his trip to Florida and his national TV appearance after visiting the hospice where Terry Schiavo was dying.

A masterpiece of timing, an exceptional use of his time and a good example of how politics is played by the big boys.

Make some news, do a little pandering, raise some money and, oh, yeah, comfort a suffering family.

Wait, raise some money? Yep, that's what the trip was about.

Maybe you thought it was about Santorum's deep commitment to the culture of life.

After all, the passionately conservative Republican was pretty visible in the controversial case, getting lots of ink and airtime. He argued that Schiavo was denied due process and her right to life. He called state and federal court refusals to intervene "unconscionable."

And at the critical moment, right near the end, the day before she died, there he was (uninvited) with her family.

Reportedly the only member of Congress to go, he said was in Florida on "a lot of other business."

Like?

Well, there was a town meeting in Tampa, near the hospice, with two other Republican senators selling President Bush's Social Security reform. See, Santorum's a leader in the U.S. Senate, chairman of the Republican Conference.

But that meeting was canceled at least two days earlier.

On Wednesday March 30 Santorum said on national TV, "We canceled it on Monday."

Why? According to the Tampa Tribune, "out of respect" for Schiavo's family.

A spokesperson for the event said, "We just didn't think it was appropriate to go into the region and do a big policy event at this time."

Apparently, though, it was appropriate for a politician seeking re-election to go into the region and do political events at this time. Even if he didn't talk about them.

Santorum told MSNBC-TV, according to the March 30 "Hardball" transcript, he was in Florida because, "I had other plans to - and other meetings." (Schiavo died March 31.) What he didn't say was the plans and "meetings" were fund-raisers for his '06 re-election effort.

There was a luncheon in Orlando and a dinner in Miami on March 29 with Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, a luncheon in Tampa March 30 hosted by Outback Steakhouse, which is headquartered there, and a dinner that night in Palm Beach hosted by execs from Revlon.

The trip was made on a Wal-Mart jet paid for by Santorum's campaign fund.

Total take, according to Santorum finance director Rob Bickhart, was about $250,000 (en route to an April 15 FEC filing expected to show the senator with close to $3 million already).

So my hat's off.

Down and back on a corporate jet, grab a quarter-mill, get some national attention. This, my friends, is poetry in motion.

What's that you say? Seems a tad crass to cash in on a heartbroken family and get your mug on TV because you happen to be in the neighborhood lining your pockets?

If you cancel one event "out of respect," why not others?

Doesn't the culture of life outweigh the culture of cash?

Well, your problem is you just don't understand politics (and, hey, Jesse Jackson went down there!) or the way it's played by the big boys.

Abortion and crime

In all honesty, before today I don't recall hearing of Bill Bennett. From what you're about to read, perhaps you'll agree he's malevolent and antipathic on a scale far greater than Louis Farrakhan, Archie Bunker, David Duke, Jesse Jackson and Rush Limbaugh.

Read on ...

"Addressing a caller's suggestion that the 'lost revenue from the people who have been aborted in the last 30 years' would be enough to preserve Social Security's solvency, radio host and former Reagan administration Secretary of Education Bill Bennett dismissed such 'far-reaching, extensive extrapolations' by declaring that if 'you wanted to reduce crime ... if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.' Bennett conceded that aborting all African-American babies 'would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do,' then added again, 'but the crime rate would go down.'"


A scary thought ... China controlling the internet

"The politically charged question of who will control the Internet in the future is dominating preparatory talks ahead of a global Internet summit. At the same time, a controversy over the choice of a host nation for the November gathering has focused attention on autocratic regimes' attempts to clamp down on the medium. The U.N.-organized World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) is to be hosted by Tunisia despite campaigners' accusations of press freedom violations in the North African Muslim state. Rights groups have recorded violations in Tunisia including the blocking of websites and police monitoring of cyber cafes - the very type of behavior that makes them nervous about allowing rights-abusing governments, through the U.N., to have a say in future Internet policy ... But developing nations, led by Brazil and Iran and supported by China, Cuba and others, are pressing for effective U.N. control."

The saga continues ...

As mentioned earlier, a number of New Orleans police officers have been accussed of looting the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The latest reports state that "four New Orleans police officers have been suspended and one has been reassigned" due to the allegations. The investigation isn't over as "at least 12 police officers may have gone on a looting spree in the days after the storm hit."

U Loot, We Shoot

N.O.P.D. looted the city?

"The New Orleans Police Department has launched an investigation into whether officers participated in the giant looting spree that overtook the city after Hurricane Katrina. News reports in the aftermath of the storm put officers at the scene of some of the heaviest looting, the Wal-Mart in the Lower Garden District. Some witnesses -- including a Times-Picayune reporter -- said police were taking items from shelves."

What Do We Know About FEMA And Congress

An interesting article on the governmental (federal, state, local) blunder surrounding Hurricane Katrina response efforts. It's from The Conservative Voice and written by Ken Hughes (I corrected any spelling or grammar errors I noticed on initial glance):

Inevitably, someone’s always singled out for blame. In the case of Hurricane, Katrina Michael Brown the former director of FEMA is going to be the scapegoat. How much is actually the fault of Director Brown?

How much is the fault of Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin refusing to coordinate efforts of the city and state with FEMA? How much of the rancor between the Governor and the Mayor was posturing, how much was political?

What authority did Director Brown have over the Governor and the Mayor, none I suspect? Director Brown in appearing before congress to answer for something he can’t explain. [What went wrong?] What went wrong was a bureaucracy out of control. I have no doubt Director Brown is doing a lot of CYA dancing around many of the issues. One man can’t be held accountable when the entire system is broken. Congress created FEMA when Carter was president and have controlled it ever since. Placing FEMA under Homeland Security was a big mistake many now realize.

Too many assumptions were made. Too many people were relying on others to assume leadership and responsibility. Director Brown places blame on the governor of Louisiana and the mayor of New Orleans. The governor and the mayor are blaming the federal government for not acting sooner. Everyone is blaming President Bush for not taking charge. Perhaps President Bush is remiss in assuming his declaring the Gulf Coast a potential disaster area two days prior to Katrina coming ashore would be sufficient to set evacuation and relief actions in motion. President Bush relied on other to do their jobs, something one never assumes in the federal government.

The blame lies squarely on apathy. The Gulf Coast and especially New Orleans has withstood hurricanes for as long as there’s been people living in the region. What was one more hurricane to them?

What the population of the Gulf Coast and especially New Orleans knew but didn’t pay attention to, the protection of the levee system they were relying on had been allowed to deteriorate over the years. Corrupt politicians allowed the funds appropriated by congress for levee repair and improvements to be used for other projects, canal locks, gambling casinos, and partying, lots of partying. The Army Corp of Engineers is taking the heat for misspent funds. Corrupt politics are responsible for the levees breaching. The person Mayor Nagrin placed in charge of disaster relief was under federal government indictment for corruption, having misdirected the funds designated for the levee repairs. At a time, he should have been ordering the evacuation of the city. Mayor Nagrin and the entire city government failed the citizens of New Orleans, now they’re looking for a scapegoat in former FEMA Director Michael Brown, and George Bush.

No one’s sure, why Governor Blanco reacted the way she did. She seems to have a different person to blame each time she’s questioned abut the states reaction to hurricane Katrina. There’s little doubt she’s in way over her head as Governor of Louisiana. It’s obvious she should be home cooking gumbo. Only in America, do we require some degree of formal training and certification, to drive a car, cut hair, or install a light fixture. Anyone with no training what-so-ever can become Governor of a state.

There is no doubt everyone involved from the president down to the police officers who didn’t show up for work failed in one way or another. The public from Maine to California bare some responsibility for allowing the government to become so blotted with bureaucratic regulations they no longer have the ability to perform their jobs. Under the current system, the inmates are running the instruction. Congress is nothing more than window dressing. Presidents are prohibited by the constitution from serving more than two terms in office. A president set by our first President George Washington, and only breached once by Franklyn D. Roosevelt. This same constitutional amendment should be extended to cover congress. Congress should be limited to two terms to allow new ideas, brighter minds to run our government. We need to take governing back from the courts, bureaucrats and the executive branch. The public should become more involved in what their government does.

There’s an old adage, perhaps it’s not so old after all. It says we should not discuss politics or religion. How are we to know about either if we don’t discuss them. Are we to allow the Media, Politicians, and the Clergy to dictate what we should know about our government and our churches? Are we not to hold an opinion of our own? Many of us grew up in countries where the aristocracy determined what government we would live under. That isn’t what the American Constitution guarantees it’s citizens. The founding fathers took 15 years to write the perfect documents. The Constitution, and the declaration of Independence, once written they found they weren’t the perfect documents after all, thus amendments were added, and the right to add additional amendments later. America was founded on the principle all it’s citizens should have the right to participate in government. This right is circumvented by congresspersons that choose to serve in perpetuity.

UPDATE: Shreveport hates evacuees

Hurricane Katrina and Rita refugees were kicked out of the CenturyTel Arena in Shreveport, La, and shipped to the CajunDome in Lafayette, La.

"Cajundome director Greg Davis says without any notice, five more buses showed up from Bossier City. He says CenturyTel Arena evidently didn't want the residents that evacuated to their facility from Cameron, Calcasieu, Vermilion and Iberia because that's who the evacuees were who arrived on the extra buses. Davis says the residents told him the facility kicked them out. Parish President Joey Durel says it really was something officials weren't prepared for, weren't set up for and it obviously took several more hours to get those people processed and comfortable and documented. He says it was an unfortunate thing that happened, but of course, they got the job done. Durel and Davis tell us they believe the evacuees were forced from their shelter because of a scheduled hockey game in Bossier City this weekend. While both men are disappointed in the way things unfolded, they say they are dedicated to making evacuees as comfortable as possible."

Are you a crusader?

"A Paris-based media watchdog has released a free guide with tips for bloggers and dissidents to sneak past Internet censors in countries from China to Iran. Reporters Without Borders' Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents is partly financed by the French Foreign Ministry and includes technical advice on how to remain anonymous online. It was launched at the Apple Expo computer show in Paris on Thursday and can be downloaded in Chinese, Arabic, Persian, English and French ... The San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation also published an online guide this year to help web diarists keep their blogs anonymous. That includes pointers on anonymizing technologies, including the EFF's own Tor, and tips on keeping postings out of search engines. The guide, though, was mostly aimed at preventing firings rather than bypassing censorship."

Katrina, Rita cause of increased unemployment

"The number of Americans thrown out of work by Hurricane Katrina climbed by another 60,000 last week, pushing the total number of unemployed workers seeking jobless benefits because of the storm to 279,000 ... Analysts said Thursday they expect more jobless claims to come in from Katrina as a flood of applications is processed, many taken by unconventional means such as mobile units dispatched to shelters."

Senate takes advantage of Katrina relief funds

"The Senate was up to its old tricks Monday evening. It prepared to pass, without debate and under a procedure requiring unanimous consent, a federal infusion of $9 billion into state Medicaid programs under the pretext of Katrina relief. The bill, drafted in secret under bipartisan auspices, was stopped cold when Republican Sen. John Ensign voiced his objection."

How cellular companies rip you off

For years we've been told that, for example, a Sprint mobile phone won't work on the Verizon system. For the most part, this has been a lie.

Jennifer Granick writes on Wired News of recent activities by U.S. cellular providers using the Digital Millenium Copyright Act to stop software companies from unlocking mobile phones for use on a variety of cellular providers.

"Last week, I was contacted by a small company that I'll call Unlocko. Unlocko sells software that 'unlocks' mobile phones so owners can select different cellular providers on the same handset. The company had received a cease-and-desist letter from a large mobile phone provider, which I'll call CellPhoneCo. Like most U.S. cellular providers, CellPhoneCo electronically locks the handsets it sells so the phones can only be used with CellPhoneCo's service. CellPhoneCo claims that the sale of unlocking software is illegal. The financial motive behind this claim is obvious. Companies have been using the razor blade business model to guarantee a steady stream of revenue ever since, well, the razor blade. Cell phone companies sell you a phone at a discount, and then make up the difference by requiring you to sign a multi-year contract promising to pay monthly fees for mobile phone service or to fork over a hefty termination penalty if you break the deal ... As a result, a burgeoning market has developed for unlocking software that allows customers to modify their phones to accept signals from the service provider of their choice. Here, CellPhoneCo is making a novel argument: that it can stop a business with which it has no contractual relationship from selling software that customers might use for these purposes. Does CellPhoneCo have a legal right to squelch unlocking software? To lock out the unlockers, CellPhoneCo is turning to a provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act intended to prevent people from disabling technology that protects games, songs and movies from illegal duplication. The DMCA says that you can't distribute tools that break -- or circumvent -- technological measures that control access to copyright works."

Exposing military imposters

"For sixteen years, [Mary and Chuck Schantag's] POW Network have served the public interest, pro bono, by identifying and exposing thousands of military imposters, and making their research available without charge to countless individuals, organizations, and scores of law enforcement agencies (including the FBI). Scores of prosecutions and convictions have resulted from their work. Now, for the first time POW Network has been sued — by a World War II veteran who claims that the information they posted about him is false."

Senate goes easy on Blanco?

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco went before a Senate committee, the same one that grilled former FEMA Director Michael Brown, and was basically given a pat on the back. "Instead of commenting on her response to Katrina, Blanco called Brown “clueless” and then proceeded to ask the Senate committee for money for Louisiana. Some of the items Blanco included in her speech were emergency business loans and tax write-offs for new investments. In regards to any Hurricane Katrina answers, it now appears that Michael Brown may be the only one interrogated."

"under God"

"Say it ain't so, Bill. To be sure, it was unintentional. Bill O'Reilly obviously recognizes the danger of secular extremism. He fights it vigorously and regularly. But Bill blundered badly in putting the Secular Coalition of America's atheist paid lobbyist, Lori Lippman Brown, on the air last night without being prepared to discuss the history of “The Pledge of Allegiance” or the particulars of the bill paid lobbyist Brown is campaigning against these days. Brown used the airtime Bill gave her last night to charge that the inclusion of the words 'under God' in “The Pledge of Allegiance' was the result of 'McCarthyism' (translation: a hysterical fear of communism) and to attack a bill that would protect religious organizations from people who would subvert their message and good work."

Idiot Nagin

"Despite warnings from state health officials, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is allowing business owners into the city's French Quarter and Central Business District starting today."

Shreveport expells hurricane evacuees

It's being reported that Shreveport, LA, expelled evacuees from the CenturyTel Center so the local Central Hockey League team could play its home game Friday, 9/28. The evacuees were apparently sent to Lafayette's CajunDome in the middle of the night without prior notice, creating problems for local officials unprepared for the arrival.

More to come.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

U.N. wants to run the internet

"(National Review Online) 'In my opinion, freedom of speech seems to be a politically sensitive issue. A lot of policy matters are behind it.' So observed Houlin Zhao, the man who wants to control the greatest forum for free expression in history. Zhao, a director of the U.N.'s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and a former senior Chinese-government official, is a leader in the United Nations's effort to supplant the United States government in the supervision of the Internet. At a series of conferences called the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), held under the aegis of the ITU, and set to culminate in Tunis this November, the U.N. has floated a series of proposals for doing exactly that. The U.N.'s professed goals, which include expanding Internet access in developing countries and fighting spam, are laudable. However, the substance of its proposals — shifting Internet governance from the U.S. to a U.N. body — would produce an Internet in which regulations smother free speech, strangle net-driven economic growth, and threaten America's online security. A typical U.N. enterprise, in other words."

What's really in the golden microphone?

"Prosecutors want to question Rush Limbaugh's physicians in their probe of the conservative commentator's possible 'doctor shopping' for prescription painkillers, according to a motion filed Tuesday. Prosecutors believe Limbaugh illegally deceived multiple doctors to receive overlapping prescriptions for painkillers. He has not been charged with a crime."

Political corruption

"Action News investigator Robin Guess uncovered waste and fraud that sent millions of dollars in aid to Miami, while hurricane-ravaged Hardee and Desoto counties still struggle to recover. FEMA has repeatedly claimed it's doing a great job helping Florida recover from last year's hurricanes, but a federal audit released Wednesday largely confirms what Robin reported. The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General audit reveals FEMA never actually did a damage assessment before declaring Miami-Dade County eligible for federal aid. As a result, 12,000 people who were not affected by Hurricane Frances still got FEMA money -- people like Daniel Bellegarde. Bellegarde bought new furniture with the more than $11,000 of FEMA money. Now he's charged with fraud."

The Truth About Ronnie Earle

"Over Earle’s 27-year tenure, his Public Integrity Unit has prosecuted 15 elected officials, including 12 Democrats." Maybe it just means Republicans are smarter at hiding their illegal activities?

Cindy Sheehan ... a capitalist at heart

"[Cindy Sheehan] said her contract with Speaking Matters, which has not yet disclosed how much a Sheehan appearance will cost, will help her 'finally make some money ... 'cause Casey's insurance money's going to run out pretty soon."

Ambiguity in DeLay indictment

"In a criminal indictment that seems strange, at best, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has listed neither wrongdoings nor illicit behaviors against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. The vaguely written indictment document contains the word 'conspiracy' only in reference to Rep. DeLay’s having, previously, agreed to waive the three-year provision 'from the date of the [alleged] commission of the offense.' The only individuals named in Earle’s indictment, who are charged as purportedly being guilty of illegal fund-raising behaviors, are John Dominick Colyandro and James Water Ellis who are associates of Rep. DeLay. House leader DeLay is listed in the indictment but, appears to be in a 'guilty by association' capacity."

Inmates running the asylum

Boca Raton's Community High School is easing the penalties for students who swear and explains that "television is where [students] should look for model language."

Meet The Press: The GOP's PR firm

National Ledger: "Tim Russert had a chance to fess up to his viewers on Sunday and let them know that his 'Meet the Press' show was used for political propaganda by Jefferson (La.) Parish President Aaron Broussard on September 4 when Broussard embellished a story about a mother of an employee that perished in the flood waters of Hurricane Katrina. Russert failed."

Buzzflash.com: "For the last handful of holdouts who may have harbored any doubt about Tim Russert’s purpose in life, we now know for certain: He is a bought and paid for Republican corporate shill placed there to do the bidding of his masters, Jack Welch [GE's former CEO] and George W. Bush. What a truly reprehensible and loathsome human being this guy Russert is. It was sad, truly sad, to watch the once-venerable and once-respected program Meet the Press this Sunday as it was being usurped in a seedy and sordid effort to grind away at the credibility of Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard, a man who had the temerity to accuse Bush’s federal government of wrongdoing during Hurricane Katrina."

The Moderate Voice: "What did Russert do yesterday? He fell into two traps: (1) He made the esssence of his interview exposing Broussard, who seemed dismayed by the implication that because the timeline of his tale (which turns out to be incredibly second hand) was seriously wrong somehow the federal government didn't do a poor job in New Orleans. (2) Russert's questioning indeed made it sound as if he was trying to compensate for his earlier broadcast by suggesting that the federal government did get a bum rap."

DeLay, Blanco, Nagin and Bush

Rep. Tom DeLay gave no indication of responsibility today (I doubt it, but perhaps he's completly innocent) regarding his indictment on consipracy charges. "DeLay, a Republican, blasted the charge as a 'sham' and an act of 'political retribution' ... 'I have done nothing wrong,' DeLay told reporters. 'I have violated no law, no regulation, no rule of the House.'"

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco is in Washington, DC, testifying before a Senate Finance Committee on job creation legislation. She'll also testify in response to Michael Brown's allegations that Louisiana politicians are to blame for poor response to Hurricane Katrina. She and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin still haven't accepted any level of blame.

At least Pres. George Bush pointed the finger of blame at himself.

The latest on resignation of N.O.P.D. leader

"The mayor calls him a hero, but others criticize departing Police Superintendent Eddie Compass, saying the department failed to keep order in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Compass, 47, gave no reason for announcing his resignation Tuesday. Neither he nor Mayor Ray Nagin would say whether he had been pressured to step down ... On the streets of the Algiers neighborhood, the first in Orleans Parish to be open to residents, some said Compass' resignation was no loss."

Why aren't you seeing Hurricane Rita victims on TV pleaing for help?

Michael Graham writes about the lack of Hurricane Rita victims blaming Pres. George Bush, looking for handouts and wondering where FEMA is. As he writes, "They were poor. They lived in homes that, to some Americans, would appear no more than shacks. They've suffered discrimination at the hands of their fellow Americans. And when the hurricane came, it seemed to veer out of its way, just to hit them."

Graham accurately describes the southwest Louisiana hurricane victims as being "made of sterner stuff then you'll find in the Ninth Ward."

'The only people who can get here are the sturdiest of sorts, a small armada of Cajuns with pretty French names and sunburned skin and don't-mess-with-me bravado. The bayous were full of them Saturday, gliding high and quick in airboats, and so was the Vermilion River, where they were spinning steering wheels on fast Boston Whalers and kicking up wakes in flat-bottomed, aluminum boats. They did not wait for the president or FEMA or anyone else to tell them that there were people out there — out there and desperate, on rooftops... "

In the article, he refers to a Washington Post description of the situation and the Cajun response:

"But Cajun-named Mee New might just as well have been crying for Intracoastal City. This city way down at the end of the Vermilion River is where the United States' health supplements come from, where men with rough hands and chipped fingernails snare the oily fish that are ground up to extract omega-3 fatty acids. But it's not really a city anymore, this place at the mushy underside of Louisiana, where land meets open water. It's a lake. The water is up over the stop signs, and six-foot fences have disappeared under floodwaters moving so fast and choppily that they look like ocean currents. The only people who can get here are the sturdiest of sorts, a small armada of Cajuns with pretty French names and sunburned skin and don't-mess-with-me bravado. The bayous were full of them Saturday, gliding high and quick in airboats, and so was the Vermilion River, where they were spinning steering wheels on fast Boston Whalers and kicking up wakes in flat-bottomed, aluminum boats. They did not wait for the president or FEMA or anyone else to tell them that there were people out there -- out there and desperate, on rooftops -- or that there were dogs paddling hard or that someone had to save Mee New."

Cronyism?

"A TIME inquiry finds that at top positions in some vital government agencies, the Bush Administration is putting connections before experience. In presidential politics, the victor always gets the spoils, and chief among them is the vast warren of offices that make up the federal bureaucracy. Historically, the U.S. public has never paid much attention to the people the President chooses to sit behind those thousands of desks. A benign cronyism is more or less presumed, with old friends and big donors getting comfortable positions and impressive titles, and with few real consequences for the nation ... The Bush Administration didn't invent cronyism; John F. Kennedy turned the Justice Department over to his brother, while Bill Clinton gave his most ambitious domestic policy initiative to his wife."

The DA behind DeLay indictment

Just How Clean is Ronnie Earle?

Travis County DA Ronnie Earle has been gunning for Tom DeLay for years, trying to tie the long-time GOP House leader to political corruption -- and coming up empty, at least so far. However, NRO's Byron York notes that Earle has found others in violation of the law along the way, notably large corporations who have donated to DeLay campaign, forbidden by Texas law. Does he prosecute the corporations? Apparently only if they don't comply with the Ronnie Earle Clemency Program, which consists of demands for huge cash contributions to his own pet causes:
  • Ronnie Earle, the Texas prosecutor who has indicted associates of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in an ongoing campaign-finance investigation, dropped felony charges against several corporations indicted in the probe in return for the corporations' agreement to make five- and six-figure contributions to one of Earle's pet causes.
  • A grand jury in Travis County, Texas, last September indicted eight corporations in connection with the DeLay investigation. All were charged with making illegal contributions (Texas law forbids corporate giving to political campaigns). Since then, however, Earle has agreed to dismiss charges against four of the companies — retail giant Sears, the restaurant chain Cracker Barrel, the Internet company Questerra, and the collection company Diversified Collection Services — after the companies pledged to contribute to a program designed to publicize Earle's belief that corporate involvement in politics is harmful to American democracy.
  • Some legal observers called the arrangement an unusual resolution to a criminal case, at least in Texas, where the matter is being prosecuted. "I don't think you're going to find anybody who will say it's a common practice," says Jack Strickland, a Fort Worth lawyer who serves as vice-chairman of the criminal-justice section of the Texas State Bar. Earle himself told National Review Online that he has never settled a case in a similar fashion during his years as Travis County district attorney. And allies of DeLay, who has accused Earle of conducting a politically motivated investigation, called Earle's actions "dollars for dismissals."
Earle wants to fund a program at Stanford University that engages in deliberative polling, run by a personal acquaintance of Earle's, James Fishkin. In order to do that, Earle has used the indictments he has gathered in various political corruption cases to strongarm companies into donating large sums of money to the program in exchange for Earle dropping the charges. The amount of money that Earle wanted from Sears was so high that the company initially offered Earle the chance to pound sand. Eventually, the four corporations agreed to fund the program with an understanding that the result would not simply be an anti-capitalist screed.

For most people, this would appear to be nothing less than extortion, although certainly Earle has set up this scam well enough to avoid that charge. However, Texans can certainly smell the corruption this entails. All Ronnie Earle has to do is to file charges against any corporation that donates to a non-profit that might have a political connection. From that indictment, Earle can demand a hefty "donation" to Stanford's program in return for a clean bill of health. Most large corporations won't spend the money to fight off a determined DA, especially where politics are involved, and Earle gets his money. In fact, it's reminiscent of Jesse Jackson's corporate shakedowns exposed by Kenneth Timmerman two years ago.

One other fact that will rankle Texans: Sears offered to donate to the University of Texas at first -- and Earle refused to agree to it, insisting that the money go to California's Stanford University and his friend's program instead. He later relented when he found a similar program at UT run by a Fishkin protege.

I've documented the strange career of Ronnie Earle several times here at CQ. No one can doubt that Earle may be one of the most openly partisan district attorneys in the US. This revelation calls into question not only his motivations but his ethics as well. It may be that this is all perfectly legal -- but allowing a law enforcement officer the latitude to file charges against people or entities and then negotiating payoffs to his friends to get charges dropped smells bad no matter what the law allows.

Porn access for soldiers in Iraq

"The U.S. Army is investigating reports that troops took photographs of dead Iraqis and traded them to a pornographic Web site in return for access to that site, Army sources said Wednesday."

Free abortions

For some reason this struck me as sadistically odd. An Arkansas doctor is performing complimentary abortions for hurricane evacuees.

Hurricane Katrina linked to al-Qaida

Alabama GOP State Sen. Hank Erwin "claims Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment on part of America known for its 'gambling, sin and wickedness ... He said he didn't think the hard-hit residents of the low-income lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans were singled out for especially harsh punishment but were merely in the way ... Erwin's views are shared by others. The al-Qaida in Iraq group hailed the hurricane deaths in America as the 'wrath of God,' and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan suggested the devastation caused by Katrina was divine punishment for the violence America had inflicted on Iraq. Televangelist Pat Robertson said Katrina might be linked to God's judgment concerning legalized abortion, and some rabbis suggested Katrina was a retribution for supporting the Israeli pullout from Gaza."

UPDATE: Air America scandal

"The ombudsman, or public editor, of the New York Times has belatedly acknowledged the point that we made in a recent Media Monitor about the scandal involving the Air America radio network. Writing on August 17, Byron Calame, former Navy officer and deputy managing editor of the Wall Street Journal before becoming the Times' Public Editor, said that 'Readers of The Times were poorly served by the paper's slowness to cover official investigations into questionable financial transactions involving Air America, the liberal radio network."

Blanco to go before Senate; what about Nagin?

"Governor Kathleen Blanco (D-LA) will appear before a Senate committee, Tuesday, to answer Michael Brown’s statement: 'My biggest mistake was not recognizing by Saturday that Louisiana was dysfunctional.' Although it was widely known in Louisiana that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Blanco did not work well together, Blanco is expected to refute former FEMA Director Brown’s charges."

Global warming

"Man doesn't cause global warming. It is a natural process. Man can't STOP global warming. The laws of Nature (and Nature's God, to cite a phrase from the Declaration of Independence) are still more powerful than mankind, despite man's grandiose view of himself. It is still true that we can talk about the weather, but we can't do anything about it."

A list of things that suck

Things that Suck
by Michael John McCrae
  • Congressman and confirmed racist Charles Rangel (D-NY) and his incessant calls for the reintroduction of the military draft sucks. This blurb-brained and scurrilous congressman called for a racial breakdown of all the people that have been killed and maimed by the Iraq conflict. He found the greater proportion of the dead and injured are young white men so he isn’t pursuing his idea much further. He is determined to find some avenue where he can blame the President for the deaths of all black people everywhere. The man is a racist idiot. Did I mention he sucks?
  • Cindy Sheehan sucks. I tried to be nice but she’s not letting me. She has brought shame upon her own son who volunteered to protect America. She blames Bush and Israel for a war begun by Islam. She should be blaming Islam. She doesn’t, therefore, logically, she is just silly. One of her own Anti-War buddies; seeing the real Cindy Sheehan for the first time, recently was quoted: 'They've lost their homes, jobs and businesses and gone through fear and panic while you bask in your fan's adulation, party with your celebrity friends and play the star. Shame on you, you're jealous of media coverage of others' suffering. You've become a caricature and I no longer support you. I'm ashamed I ever did.' (Foxnews.com) This was after Cindy decried the media for showing more hurricane coverage than coverage of her personal pogrom against all things Republican. Did I mention she sucks?
  • Holland sucks. Instead of helping solve the mystery in Aruba, they managed to heighten all suspicion by giving sanctuary to possible murderers. I am really not feeling sorry for their current woes with Islamists. Holland really sucks.
  • France and Germany still suck. That’s nothing new.
  • The United Nations sucks. Perhaps that entity doesn’t suck as much as France, Germany or Holland independently, but France, Germany and Holland are all members of the United Nations making it suck all that much more.
  • Liberalism sucks. Liberals have no ideas. Liberals are comforted by hatred. They hate anything that speaks or acts against abortion (which is murder) or tax increases (which is theft) or the anti-war effort (which is treason) or speaks out against Hillary Clinton (which is god).
  • The current government sucks. Where is law enforcement when it comes to immigration and the deportation of all the illegal Democrat voters running around this country? Why is there still a refusal to profile our greatest enemy; terrorist Islam? Why are we still pussyfooting with environmental idiots who insist we cannot drill where we need to and put up clean hydroelectric and nuclear power generating plants? Why is the government still playing the diplomatic card against Iran; a proven enemy of America? Why are we still asking Israel to take it on the chin while we remain in relative comfort? Our current government really does suck.
  • Louis Farrakhan, Barbara Streisand, Cynthia McKinney, Ted Kennedy, Charles Schumer, Barney Frank, Dick Durbin, Kofi Annan, John Kerry, and a whole host of other mental nood-nicks have been doing a lot of sucking lately. Nothing but gloom and a deep, dark doom pervading every word they speak and every event they sponsor.
  • I am really tired of the whole Bush-Bash mentality of the liberal left. I am tired of Islamic radicalism. I am tired of Louisiana politics. I am tired of the silliness of the entire Senate judicial committee and its treatment of qualified judges, but then I am tired of the judiciary as a whole as it bends over and allows the United States Constitution to be trashed on behalf of special interests and minorities. It all sucks.
"But I sure am happy I live in a country that allows me to point out the card-carrying lunacy of the liberal left and the roll-over-and-play-deadness of the less-than-conservative right."

More on media bias

"In a story about national media coverage of the government response to the Katrina hurricane disaster, the Los Angeles Times said that news coverage had 'turned confrontational' as 'many reporters shed their stance of neutrality and joined numerous commentators in criticizing local, state and federal officials for their seemingly slow reaction to the calamity.' In fact, this story was itself biased. Most of the coverage was confrontational toward the federal government. That is, the Bush administration. And that confrontational attitude was more evidence of a bias against Republicans and conservatives."

Roman "The Artful Dodger" Polanski

Rapist Roman Polanski has just released his latest movie, Oliver Twist. "Polanski, 72, has been a fugitive since 1978, when he fled to Europe after being convicted of statutory rape."

He's on my list of directors (including Michael Moore) who won't be getting any of my money.

Bubble Boy

"A clip of 'Inside the Bubble,' the Steve Rosenbaum documentary, can be viewed here ... Conservative Pardon My English, noting Rosenbaum was a Kerry supporter, speculates: 'I suspect the underlying purpose of this film is illustrate the failures of the Kerry Campaign to serve as an excuse for their loss. But why do that? The propaganda campaign of this movie -- I suspect -- is to show the American people that it was the ineptitude of the Kerry campaign that lost the election, not that President Bush actually won re-election.'"

Frist responds to SEC charges

"When I first ran for the Senate over 10 years ago, I made a commitment to the people of Tennessee that if elected, I would serve them to the best of my ability and uphold the highest ethical standards. I have tried to go above and beyond anything required by the Senate rules or the law. Now some questions have arisen, so let me tell you what I know and what I did. When deciding how to handle my family’s personal investments, I always sought expert advice and Senate Ethics Committee review and approval. Despite not being required to do so, I sought and obtained two Ethics Committee opinions acknowledging that my ownership of HCA stock complied with Senate rules and did not present a conflict of interest with my Senate duties. Despite not being required to do so, I later chose to place many of my investments in blind trusts, including my HCA stock. With these efforts, I have sought to guarantee that no conflict of interest existed. Review after review has found nothing wrong. Nevertheless, the complaints and questions have persisted."

Here comes the storm god!

"The New York Times editorially instructs us that just because the two recent hurricanes were not linked specifically to global warming, it 'does not mean that President Bush and the rest of us should not be connecting the dots. These are natural disasters - but with human fingerprints.' Here comes the storm god! Blaming the storm god is not science. The theory proposed is a stretched coincidence at most: If global warming is occurring, if it is caused by mankind, we just had some pretty bad hurricanes. There's nothing to that. In the prehistoric past, our distant ancestors might have blamed the various storm gods for their destructive storms. Today, we have a new myth and we deem it sophisticated; in truth, linking the hurricanes to manmade global warming is even more daft that blaming the storm god. 'The storm god did it' is a simple statement of fact which can be either accepted or rejected. You cannot test it scientifically"

Delay's response to indictment

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay responds to today's indictment charges against him for alleged political improprieties.

"These charges have no basis in the facts or the law. This is just another example of Ronnie Earle misusing his office for partisan vendettas. Despite the clearly political agenda of this prosecutor, Congressman DeLay has cooperated with officials throughout the entire process. Even in the last two weeks, Ronnie Earle himself had acknowledged publicly that Mr. DeLay was not a target of his investigation. However, as with many of Ronnie Earle's previous partisan investigations, Ronnie Earle refused to let the facts or the law get in the way of his partisan desire to indict a political foe."

Want to help Hurricane Katrina relief efforts?

What is Beach Boy Brian Wilson doing to help relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina? For starters, he'll match every $100 you donate. Next, he'll call you on the phone.

David Duke ... not from Hazzard County

In doing research on Tom Delay and Bob Livingston, a site regarding David Duke's 1999 bid for Congress came up in a Google search.

DeLay's indictment politically motivated?

It's obvious that today's indictment of House majority leader Rep. Tom DeLay is politically motivated. However, that doesn't mean he's innocent.

DeLay Indicted in Campaign Finance Probe: "DeLay has denounced the investigation as politically motivated, noting that the Travis County district attorney, Ronnie Earle, is a Democrat." What would Delay's excuse be if the district attorney was a Republican?

Kevin Madden, a spokesman for DeLay, said "This is a political vendetta. They could not get Tom DeLay at the polls. Now they're trying to get him in court."

DeLay indicted

Rep. Tom DeLay has been indicted along with two political associates on charges of criminal conspiracy related to a campaign finance scheme. The indictment is based on his supposed violation of a Texas law outlawing corporate contributions when his "Texans for a Republican Majority political action committee accepted $155,000 from companies, including Sears Roebuck, and placed the money in an account. The PAC then wrote a $190,000 check to an arm of the Republican National Committee and provided the committee a document with the names of Texas State House candidates and the amounts they were supposed to received in donations." His co-conspirators include John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's national political committee.

His spokesman brushed off the indictment as being nothing more than a politically motivated attack.

Despite the problems here in Louisiana, ranging from hurricanes to crooked politicians, it was refreshing with former House Speaker-elect Bob Livingston resigned his post in 1998 after it was revealed he his marital infidelities. If you recall, this coincided with the investigation into Pres. Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky. During his address to the House, Livingston "urged President Bill Clinton to resign, drawing a chorus of 'boos' and shouted calls of 'You resign!' from Democrats. Then he shocked the chamber by saying he would set an example and step down himself."

"Another Republican representative, James Rogan said: 'He accepted responsibility for his conduct and he got a standing ovation. I think he's a stronger leader because he showed character.'"

Bush's new world order

Pres. Bush wants the military to have more power over state soverienty. " ... President Bush is raising the possibility of putting the Pentagon (search) in charge of search-and-rescue efforts for catastrophic natural disasters ... Such a precedent-setting shift would require not only some change in law but a greater degree of consensus. Congress is divided over the prospect of troops massed in U.S. cities and increasing the power of the federal government at the expense of the states."

Sheehan still isn't happy

Cindy Sheehan gets to meet with Sen. John McCain and she calls him "a warmonger." It's clearly evident that she has no respect for anyone that opposes her views and that everything is used to push the left's political agenda. She remarked, "He tried to tell us what George Bush would have said. I don't believe he believes what he was telling me." The Senator also felt the meeting was futile and that Sheehan misrepresented certain aspects, including that some of his constituents would be included. "Only one person in her small delegation has ties to the state, and that person no longer lives there. The two exchanged views about the war, and McCain described the conversation as 'a rehash' of opinions already well known. He said he might not have met with Sheehan had he known none of his constituents was in the group."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

It's not 'hard news', but interesting still

"As plays go in college football, it was a simple one -- he lined up, took a couple of steps, caught a pass and ran for nine yards. But it was anything but an ordinary play. That's because the ball was caught by Tim Frisby, a 40-year-old walk-on at the University of South Carolina."

An insider's look at media bias

"How the media love ‘he said, she said’ reporting. They seem to believe it insulates them against charges of bias from all sides, despite the fact that all sides continue to attack their credibility with great gusto (myself included). But what if they reported what ‘he said’ in proportion to what ‘she said?’ Wouldn’t that appear less biased still?"

Reports false?

"As floodwaters forced tens of thousands of evacuees into the Dome and Convention Center, news of unspeakable acts poured out of the nation's media: evacuees firing at helicopters trying to save them; women, children and even babies raped with abandon; people killed for food and water; a 7-year-old raped and killed at the Convention Center. Police, according to their chief, Eddie Compass, found themselves in multiple shootouts inside both shelters, and were forced to race toward muzzle flashes through the dark to disarm the criminals; snipers supposedly fired at doctors and soldiers from downtown high-rises. In interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Compass reported rapes of 'babies,' and Mayor Ray Nagin spoke of 'hundreds of armed gang members' killing and raping people inside the Dome. Unidentified evacuees told of children stepping over so many bodies, 'we couldn't count.' The picture that emerged was one of the impoverished, masses of flood victims resorting to utter depravity, randomly attacking each other, as well as the police trying to protect them and the rescue workers trying to save them. Nagin told Winfrey the crowd has descended to an 'almost animalistic state.' Four weeks after the storm, few of the widely reported atrocities have been backed with evidence. The piles of bodies never materialized, and soldiers, police officers and rescue personnel on the front lines say that although anarchy reigned at times and people suffered unimaginable indignities, most of the worst crimes reported at the time never happened."

Wal-Mart to convert China to land of mobile homes, obese Chinese women in stretch pants

"In an August 10 action alert, FAIR wondered if ABC's reporting on corporate giant Wal-Mart was improperly influenced by Wal-Mart's status as a major advertiser on the network's news programming. While ABC failed to answer FAIR's charges, a September 20 World News Tonight report on Wal-Mart's business practices in China once again suggests favoritism toward the network's sponsor."

Bush won't let his buddy go down

"Republicans said Karl Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff and Mr. Bush's chief political adviser, was in charge of the (Hurricane Katrina) reconstruction effort."

Recusal could stop investigation into Frist's Martha Stewart tactics

SEC Chairman Chris Cox recused himself from a probe into allegations that, based on insider information, Senate Majority Leader Bill Fristy illegally sold stock in a family-owned business ahead of negative earnings reports.

"(Cox's) recusal is the latest in a whirlwind of activity in response to revelations about Frist's stock sale, and it could signal increasing sensitivity to conflict-of-interest allegations within the administration ... Even if SEC investigators determine that a case against Frist is worth pursuing, taking action on the allegations would require a majority of the commissioners. Cox's recusal leaves two Republican and two Democratic commissioners remaining on the traditionally partisan panel, and a 2-2 deadlock vote would permanently stall any further action against Frist ... Through his aides, Frist has contended that he ordered the stock sold from his blind trust to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest when the Senate debates health legislation. HCA was founded by Frist's father and brother."

Brownie lies under oath?

"At this point everyone knows that Mike Brown's resume was exaggerated. But what many people don't know is that Brown signed an affidavit attesting to his resume's accuracy when he was first nominated to be the head of FEMA. With his appearance before Congress today, Brown contradicted that affidavit and could now face criminal charges."

Martha "Bill Frist" Stewart at it again

Liberal pundits are gaining momentum as the pursue Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist for "selling millions of dollars of stock in the health care business founded by his family ... just one month before a poor earnings report sent the price down ... Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a liberal government watchdog group, has filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee, alleging that Frist violated Senate ethics rules 'by engaging in apparent insider trading and then attempting to cover it up.' In June, Sen. Frist sold all of his, his wife's and his children's stock in Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), shortly before the stock price fell."

Hurricane Rita's impact seen from the air

NOAA has posted more than 1,100 aerial images of the damage caused by Hurricane Rita.

Future hurricanes to pack more punch

A new study indicates that we're in for more hurricanes on the scale of Katrina that wreaked havoc from New Orleans to Mobile. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the National Center for Atmospheric Research note a shift in sea surface temperatures lead to an increase in Category 4 and 5 hurricanes over the past 35 years and that the cycle is likely to continue.

When a Desert Eagle 50 caliber just won't cut it, try methamphetamine

If you recall, Ashley Smith helped gunman Brian Nichols turn himself in for his involvement in a cop-killing shootout as he escaped an Atlanta courthouse. In her new book, Unlikely Angel, Smith admits that she shared her stash of methamphetamine with the accussed killer and that "the seven-hour hostage ordeal in March led to the realization that she was a drug addict, and she says she has not used drugs since the night before she was taken captive."

Burn a book, not the neighborhood

It's Banned Books Week and it's your turn to read a selection from the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000. There is even a proclamation your local library can print, sign and display.

Nagin, Blanco: no resignation?

I can't speak as to why New Orleans Police Superintendent Eddie Compass resigned Tuesday. Perhaps there is something more to the story that isn't public as of yet; however, I believe that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco should have stepped down already. They've performed miserably in response to Katrina's devastation. These two are "stuck on stupid."

Always respond with doubt

Since the Monday that Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, rumors have flown about life in the Superdome, car jackings in towns serving as refugee safe havens, increased drug activity and burgalaries, rapes, killings and more.

Rumors included:
  • On Sept. 1, with desperate Hurricane Katrina evacuees crammed into the convention center, Police Chief Eddie Compass reported: 'We have individuals who are getting raped; we have individuals who are getting beaten.' Five days later, he told Oprah Winfrey that babies were being raped.
  • On the same show, Mayor Ray Nagin warned: 'They have people standing out there, have been in that frickin' Superdome for five days watching dead bodies, watching hooligans killing people, raping people.'
  • The ugliest reports - children with slit throats, women dragged off and raped, corpses piling up in the basement - soon became a searing image of post-Katrina New Orleans.
  • The stories were told by residents trapped inside the Superdome and convention center and were repeated by public officials. Many news organizations, including The Associated Press, carried the witness accounts and official pronouncements, and in some cases later repeated the claims as fact, without attribution.
After re-examination of the reports and facts, police are "finding that many of them have little or no basis in fact ... They have no official reports of rape and no eyewitnesses to sexual assault. The state Department of Health and Hospitals counted 10 dead at the Superdome and four at the convention center. Only two of those are believed to have been murdered."

NOPD loses another, Brownie cries defamation

Eddie Compass, superintendent of the New Orleans police department, announced his retirement today. It's being reported that he "didn't give any reason for the decision." It's been publicized that many police officers failed in their "serve and protect" responsibilities in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. However, prior to the resignation of Compass, it was "revealed that nearly 250 New Orleans police officers left their posts without permission during Hurricane Katrina." Two officers commited suicide during the devastation.

Today was also an exciting day in Washing as former FEMA director Michael Brown was confronted by "sometimes heated testimony before a congressional committee ... for dragging their heels last month as Hurricane Katrina approached the Gulf Coast ... The storm devastated Mississippi coastal towns and left most of New Orleans flooded when the city's protective levees failed at several points. Brown said Mississippi and Alabama had evacuated properly but that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco were reluctant to order an evacuation. 'My biggest mistake was not recognizing by Saturday [August 27] that Louisiana was dysfunctional,' he said in his opening testimony. Later, he testified, 'My mistake was in recognizing that, for whatever reasons, ... Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco were reticent to order a mandatory evacuation.'"

Monday, September 26, 2005

Casket in a tree thanks to Rita

A casket is stuck in a tree surrounded by floodwaters in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita Monday in Grand Chenier. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

"Hurricane Rita's path of devastation along the Texas-Louisiana coast became shockingly clear Monday, as rescuers pulled stranded bayou residents out on skiffs and Army helicopters searched for thousands of cattle feared drowned. Crews struggled to clean up the tangle of smashed homes and downed trees. The hurricane slammed low-lying fishing villages, shrimping ports and ranches with water up to 9 feet deep. Seawater pushed as far as 20 miles inland, drowning acres of rice, sugarcane fields and pasture ... The death toll from the second devastating hurricane in a month rose to nine with the discovery in a Beaumont, Texas, apartment of five people - a man, a woman and three children - who apparently were killed by carbon monoxide from a generator they were running indoors after Rita knocked out the electricity. A Texas couple was confirmed killed by an uprooted tree that fell on their home. Houses in the marshland between Cameron and Creole were reduced to piles of bricks, or bare concrete slabs with steps leading to nowhere. Walls of an elementary school gymnasium had been washed or blown away, leaving basketball hoops hanging from the ceiling. A single-story white home was propped up against a line of trees, left there by floodwaters that ripped it from its foundation. A bank was open to the air, its vault still intact."