Friday, September 30, 2005
From the Coalition Press
London, England—Scientists associated with Oxford University have discovered a new species of primate in Continental United. Tentatively named Homophobus republicanus inferiorus, the new species seems to represent a previously unknown missing link between the great apes and fully evolved human beings.
According to a professor of anthropology at Oxford University, “Inferiorus represents an important stage in the development of mankind from a time when protrohominids had yet to develop moral characteristics such as compassion, generosity, and every day tolerance.”
Field research has revealed a robust, powerful creature with an exaggerated survival instinct and limited intelligence. The average inferiorus stands approximately 6 feet-3inches tall at the shoulder and weighs approximately 270 to 315 pounds. The teeth are designed for a carnivorous lifestyle; inferiorus remains suggesting that the species tends to be cannibalistic, apparently feeding on weaker members of its own species for the sheer joy of consumption. The body, which tends to be flabby and corpulent in older specimens, is covered with heavt coat of long, rank, dark brown hair. The skull cavity is approximately 20 to 30 percent smaller than that of the least intelligent human being, but the testicles appear to be disproportionately large to the size and weight of the body. Males exhibit similar characteristics although to an even greater extent.
Behaviorally, inferiorus appears to be highly paranoid, seldom leaving the family unit, even during the breeding season which appears to take place with a certain degree of disgust for the reproductive act in general. This however, is to be expected in a tribalistic society in which alpha males hold dominion over every aspect of existence. Males and females tend to form strong social bonds, and may well perform a series of primitive, arcane rituals which are clearly designed to promote long-term relationships, although adult males will frequently stray from their mates, engaging in a form of serial monogamy. “Males are given more freedom to break the social taboo,” said the professor. “Females are typically beaten to death when they have strayed from their respective mates.” Interbreeding among family members is common in the southern subspecies, Homophobus Confederationus Inferiorus, which frequently copulates with siblings, offspring, and cousins.
“The degree of copulation between brothers and sisters and parents and offspring may account for the smaller cranium and often barbarous behavior,” said animal behaviorist Kyle A.J. Kilpatrick. “While interbreeding is more common in the southernmost subspecies it is not unheard of in the population at large.”
On the other hand, relationships between members of the same sex are brutally repressed, with offending members of the tribe either being abandoned or beaten to death my alpha males.
From an environmental point of view, all subspecies of inferiorus appear to be either threatened or endangered: and for obvious reasons. Family tribes tend to deplete resources in a given territory before they move on to the next, leaving what can only be described as an ecological wasteland. Scientists hypothesize that the creatures have no sense conservation and may well lack a sense of self-awareness as well. This poses a serious threat to life forms in areas that inferiorus invades and conquers. Rather than conserving their resources, they tend to over-consume until the landscape is unable to sustain any kind of animal life. They then move into a neighboring territory, where they either destroy or subjugate the local populations, and then deplete the local resources before moving on to yet another territory. The end result is a constant series conflicts with a wide range of species, including their own kind, which usually result in lagre numbers of deaths and serious injuries.
“Make no mistake about it,” offers Kilpatrick. “This is an early form of tribalistic warfare—kind of like what we see in Iraq and in Republican political campaigns.”
Part of the problem may lay in the species’ limited communication skills,” Brimms noted. “Their vocabularies are confined to grunts, groans, and emotional buzz words. That considered, you can see why they react in such a rapacious, impulsive manner.”
Impulsive may be an understatement. Video recordings of live specimens reveal a highly aggressive creature which is quick to lash out or even destroy anything which is in any way different from itself. “This appears to be a form of pre-religious behavior,” said Kilpatrick. “I think we are witnessing a very primitive form of tribalism. I don’t know if they have any conception of an afterlife or a deity, but they are certainly displaying the same kinds of behavior that we see in modern day religious fanatics.”
“We’re dealing with a species that is both, a threat to itself and to others. I would even go so far as to suggest that its primitive, law of the jungle instincts will inevitably lead to its own extinction.”
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Regarding Brandon's recent post about the hired mercenaries from Blackwater USA. This may come as a shock and a revelation to our loyal readers, but the situation may be worse than Brandon could have ever imgained. Our Coalition Investigative team has returned from New Orleans with these genuinely disturbing photos of Blackwater employees in action, and we must warn out readers in advance: What we have uncovered is both shocking and repulsive. In the above photo we see a Blackwater employee trying to destroy the foundation of a lower income apartment complex. And while this may seem unusual (to say the least) it is nothing compared to what we discovered in the way of forced evacuations.
For some time now we had been hearing rumors that the Bush Administration would use Blackwater employees to intimidate minorities and poor people in a clandestine attempt to change the voting demographics of a Democratic Southern City. Thanks to our investigative team we now have proof positive that the Administration in Washington is indeed trying intimidate lower income people and minorities. In the photo to your left we see a Blackwater employee physically carrying a low income resident from the waterlogged basement of her run down, 19th Century Victorian home. When asked to comment, the unidentified Blackwater employee said, "I had to knock her over the head and pistol whip her before she would agree to leave." When asked if he was a part of a larger conspiracy to permanently change the demographics of New Orleans, the Blackwater employee shrugged his shoulders and quipped, "Nahhhh, I was only trying to make sure that the wrong kinds of people don't come back to the city."
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Speaking of dry drunks. Tom Delay was just indicted in a campaign finance probe in Texas. What can I say? If ever a politician deserved what he got--if ever a man were all at once a bully, a thug, and an all around creep--it was this one.
Prediction. The ineptitude and corruption of the Republican Party will hasten the swing to the left. And the Republicans only have themselves to blame for it.
Advocate 1 and Brandon Alexander Geraghty-MacKenzie
OUR DRY DRUNK PRESIDENCY:
AN ADDICTION TO POWER AND FASCISM
by Advocate 1 and Brandon Alexander Geraghty-MacKenzie
Why does the Bush Administration have such a problem, such an aversion to, moderation? Must it always flip flop from one repressive extreme to the other? Must it always find a way to defecate on the Constitution, on civil liberties in the process? Anyone one with a lick of good old, common sense had predicted that a fanatical, dry drunk from an amoral state like Texas would make a better Fuhrer than a president, and now, after Hurricane Katrina and yet another series of bungling extremes, those predications have again been validated as accurate assessments.
You just have to give the Bush Regime credit. When faced with a disaster it will almost invariably find a way to exploit that disaster in a never ending mission to transform America into a fascist empire.
For sometime now, we had been wondering why the regime would want to use private mercenaries in Iraq; and now we’re wondering why we have the likes of Blackwater USA touring the streets of New Orleans when the task should have been performed by the Louisiana National Guard. All right, the answer to that is obvious. Our would be Fuhrer sent so many National Guardsmen to Iraq that there weren’t enough of them left at home to perform their primary functions of homeland defense and emergency response. But that still doesn’t explain why we have paid mercenaries, hired thugs, touring the Streets of New Orleans. Nor does it explain why the regime wants to nullify the time tested concept of Posse Comitatus, in essence giving the United States military, and by extension, the President of the United States, sweeping powers over state and local officials in the event of a natural or manmade disaster. You really need to wonder just why these kinds of policies are being suggested by the party which claims to embrace the idea of smaller government. Doesn’t it seem just a little odd, just a tad hypocritical, for the GOP to preach the value of local control while they’re trying to undermine the every day practice of local control on a regular basis?
When you think about it, almost everything the Bush regime has done has been designed to undermine the Constitutional provisions for the Separation of Powers. After 911, we were inundated with a series of Draconian measures which restricted open government and civil liberties in general. And now, after Hurricane Katrina, the trend continues with private mercenaries in the Streets of New Orleans coupled with our would be Fuhrer’s desire to give the United States Military carte blanche in the event of a catastrophic event.
Of course, the obvious question is this: "Why do we need both?” The answer is equally obvious. In Nazi Germany the soldiers did the actual invading, fighting, and occupying, while the Gestapo and SS provided the intelligence and terror which were requird to keep the subjects in line. It may well be that in the feverish minds of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Propaganda Minister Karl Rove that paid mercenaries such as the types that are employed by Blackwater USA represent the embryonic stage of an American SS or Gestapo. Goodness knows that they have the required qualifications. Some of Blackwater’s paid goons (they’re actually complaining because they’re only getting $350 a day in New Orleans as opposed to $1,000 a day in Iraq) were once henchmen for the repressive regime of Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet. And, as we have seen from incidents of torture, sexual sadism, and outright sociopathy on the part of paid mercenaries in Iraq, private mercenaries clearly possess the savagery, sadism, and sociopathy which were so common place during the Hitler regime. Indeed, after Katrina revealed the administration’s contempt for minorities and the lower classes, Bush and his jubilant band of cronies did what they have always done best: they used a national calamity as an opportunity to acquire still more power, both personal and political. Would we really be surprised to learn that these hired assassins were actually preventing blacks and lower class residents from returning to their homes? Would we be at all shocked to learn that these private security firms were in fact exiling “undesirables” from their own city just as the Hitler regime initially exiled Jews from Nazi Germany? Probably not: We’ve already seen how rapacious, how underhanded, the Bush Regime can be during an election. It doesn’t take a large stretch of the imagination to assume that they would use private intimidation in an attempt to change the voting population of New Orleans.
Regrettably, the Bush regime has a problem with moderation. First it did nothing while an American City cried out for help. Then our would be Fuhrer tool (pseudo) responsibility while Scott McClellen and the AM radio hate-mongers played the blame game. Then our would be Fuhrer flip flopped from a non response to an over reaction. Of course, you need to remember that our would be Fuhrer is a dry drunk who has quit drinking but who has maintained the psychological characteristics of an active alcoholic: dishonesty, arrogance, denial, impulsivity, manipulation, and of curse, immaturity.
The only real difference between George the Alcoholic and George the Megalomaniac is that the addiction to alcohol has been transformed into a twin addiction to both power and religion. And the fact that he has surrounded himself with power hungry sociopaths with high ambitions and low morals has only complicated the matter.
Monday, September 26, 2005
Children are so small, so helpless, so utterly dependent on us for everything--and that's a responsibility, that we do not take lightly. We can't think of anything that motivates us more than looking into the eyes of our innocent children.
We can't say that we feel comfortable with the idea of raising children with the country in the mess that it is today. God knows there are days when we turn on the television, or the computer, or the radio, or when we look at the latest headlines and wonder: "What is the Bush Political Crime Syndicate in Washington going to corrupt next?" But that aside, there isn't anything like looking into the eyes of a children to get us, the adults, out of your own fears and trepidations. Or should we say that there isn't anything like having children to motivate us? No matter. Despite the state of decay in our nation's capitol, and a growing sense that America has been weakened, or even over- extended beyond her limits, there are still moments, brief eternities in our every day lives when we can truthfully say and believe: "Life is good. Life is fair. Let's live it."
Beyond that we can only say, "Happy Birthday Little Kyle--we'll try to leave the world a better place than it was before you were born."
Kyle and Karen Kilpatrick
Saturday, September 24, 2005
President Bush had no sooner blown it with Katrina (play on words intended) but what he blew it here in Wisconsin. For those of you who aren't too familiar with the situation here in Wisconsin, a few weeks ago this state experienced a series of thunderstorms and tornadoes (think supercell) which devastated the villages of Stoughton and Viola, WIsconsin. Well, in an all too predictable move, President Bush has denied our request for Federal Aid.
Now, I must admit--this is one case in which the gutless wonder has actually shown a modicum of courage. Granted, he didn't have that much to begin with; he is still the ball-less coward who skipped out of actual combat service in Vietnam and who depends on bullied lackeys to protect his reputation and over-blown ego. But for once he actually allowed his rapacity to overcome hos cowardice.
When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf States, he just sat by and did nothing while a red state populated by lower class citizens was ravaged by a Category Four Hurricane. Kind of like what he did during 911, only this time his cowardice and apathy lasted for a walloping four days. But when his beloved Texas was threatened he had no problem in mobilizing every potential helper and tat helper's immediate family to save the favorite haunts of the Bush Crime Family.
Now shall we take a look at what he has done to Wisconsin? For those of you who don't know what I am talking about, a brief explanation may be required. A few weeks ago our state experienced a super cell of tornadic/thunderstorm activity which ravaged the southeastern corner of the state and caused severe damage to the villages of Stoughton and Viola. What was the Bush response? He has denied our request for FEMA aid. Of course I am sure that this had nothing to do with the fact that Wisconsin rejected Bush in both, 2000 and 2004; and I'm certain that it has nothing to do with the fact that our governor and both of our United States Senators are Democrats. And if you believe that I have some swamp property in down town New Orleans that I'd like to sell you.
For once in his courage- depleted career, the gutless wonder has ignored the yellow stripe down his back and allowed the true, rapacious nature of American conservatism to shine through. For once we saw the real George Bush in all his glory--petty, vengeful and malicious.
What can I say? President Bush calls himself a compassionate conservative, and I have to agree with him. He truly is. No one conserves their compassion the way this guy does
Thursday, September 22, 2005
The cures for the twin diseases of censorship and repression could not be more obvious.
First of all we need healthy, freedom-loving people in the FEC who understand that individual bloggers are a part of the decentralized media, not the mass media. Secondly, we need to inform the public that bloggers are individual citizens whose freedoms of speech and expression are protected by the First Amendment; an idea that FEC Commissioner Scott E. Thomas is obviously too obutse or too repressive to understand.
The cure for diseases like Mister Thomas is a shoring up of the Constitution, an infusion of the proverbial White Cells to keep him and his fellow bacteria from further contaminating our basic liberties. In other words, Mister Thomas is the infection. Freedom of speech is the antibody.
In this case, the most effective way to assist the antibody might be an antibiotic or vaccination in the form of a Constitutional Amendment that would permanently and totally protect the rights of bloggers to express their political beliefs. It might read as follows:
"Therefore be it enacted that no part of this Constitution shall be construed so as to limit in any way, shape, or form the rights of bloggers to express their political opinions, the rights of bloggers to express themselves being perfectly and fully protected against any and all governmental intervention."
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
"The hyphen says it all. We strive for an honorable America free of Republican greed, arrogance, rapacity, and ineptutude. If you still believe in American core values such as justice, equality, and freedom of conscience then this is a safe harbor for you."
Well done in every way.
Keep up the good work
Enlightenment (AKA TREVOR)
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
By Brandon and Advocate 1
From the Coalition Press
WASHINGTON DC—In response to declining numbers of new recruits into the various branches of the United States Armed Services, Secretary of War, Donald Rumsfeld has issued an executive order to begin recruitment efforts in American preschools and junior kindergarten classes. Operating under the curious title of Companions Reprogramming All Prepubescent Prodigy (or CRAPP), the new initiative would penalize both, private and public preschools and junior kindergartens which fail to share the names, addresses, and phone numbers of children under the age of four with military recruiters. Those institutions which fail to comply would face an immediate termination of federal funding followed by a federal takeover of their schools.
According to Rumsfeld, the effort was specifically designed as a complimentary program to JROTC (Juvenille Retraining of the Children), which already has a foothold in American Grade Schools where recruiters are serving as everything from wrestling coaches to school volunteers.
“We need to convince parents and children alike that killing and being killed in a war of choice is better than playing with blocks and Barbie Dolls,” Rumsfeld chuckled. Continuing in a similar vein, the gleeful Secretary of War, in a rare moment of inadvertent honesty, openly chided concerned parents who want to protect their children from Bush Administration incompetence. “The fact that we don’t know what we are doing should not deter mothers and fathers from giving their children to promotion-hungry recruiters.”
If enforced, CRAPP would regulate the kinds of activities and curricula which are implemented in American preschools and junior kindergartens. Educational toys would be strictly prohibited, replaced with junior sized models of AK-47s, M-16s, hand grenades, and plastic landmines. Snacks, which typically include graham crackers, cookies, and chocolate milk, would be shelved in favor of junior-sized MREs. Likewise, casual daywear and security blankets would be replaced by camouflage military fatigues and GI Joe dolls, while coloring and/or story books would be supplemented with mandatory readings from SunTzu’s The Art of War.
Said Minister of Indoctrination and Enlightenment, Margaret Spellings: “We are trying to dissuade teachers and parents alike from using any kind of material—written or otherwise—which might teach subversive values such as cooperation, kindness, and forgiveness, which in no way train young people to hunt and destroy their fellow human beings.” In Spellings’s opinion this would include everything from Mother Goose and Doctor Seuss to stuffed toys and fuzzy animal hand puppets.
The response from the public was mixed.
Predictably enough, Anne Coulter was elated. “This is a delightfully Draconian solution to an irrational war,” said Coulter. Speaking at length on the Monday afternoon broadcast of the Lush Rimbaugh Show, the delusional commentator openly embraced the idea of CRAPP or any other federal mandate that would put children in war zones by the age of fourteen-and-a-half. “We need to stop parents from teaching a basic respect for human life,” Coulter told Rimbaugh. “What a glorious day it will be when we can send Black and Hispanic teenagers to dangerous war zones without having to run the political risk of a draft that might actually put the children of rich, white Republicans in harm’s way.”
But when questioned in a September 20 CNN poll, a majority of the respondents were clearly opposed to the Administration’s latest attempt to undermine family values and choices. By a measure of 63% to 34% with only 3% undecided, The American people overwhelmingly rejected the idea of turning infants and preschoolers into soldiers of fortune.
“Maybe we should start using subliminal teaching techniques while they’re still in the womb,” said Kyle Kilpatrick of the left-leaning Parents for a Republican-Free America. “It’s bad enough that we have recruiters infiltrating grade and high schools at every level. I’d hate to see what this measure would do if it isn’t struck down by the Supreme Court.”
Kilpatrick may have over-estimated the bravery of the Administration in general. Upon reading the most recent opinion polls, Minister of Propaganda and Mass Deception Carl Rove announced that CRAPP would not be implemented “at any time in the near future.”
“We tend not to do anything that might damage this president politically,” Rove told the Washington Press Corps on Tuesday. “When given a choice between doing the right thing and saving the President’s political ass we almost invariably do the latter, regardless as to whether or not it involves dangerous or even destructive policies. We got by with No Child Left Untested because no one was paying attention. This time we kind of blew it by being open and honest about our intentions."
Translated into modern English, CRAPP is dead--at least until such time as the Bush Administration finds a better and more acceptable manner in which to undermine the authority of parents and legal guardians.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Welcome to the new and improved Coalition. As many of you already know we have merged with our sister blog, LeftWingRising. The decision to close LWR was not an easy one, but when we realized that we were often duplicating articles, we came to the conclusion that the time had come to bring all our talent and resources under the same umbrella at The Coalition for a Republican Free America.
This of course calls for a series of introductions. Afterall, you might want to know who we are and how we’re all related to one another, and we can assure you that the relationships around here are…well, a tad complicated.
Where do we begin?
In a strange way it begins with Brandon. Or does it begin with Jeff? Or did it begin with Brandon and Jeff and Sam? Or does it begin with Chris and Brandon?
Several months ago, one of our team members, Advocate 1, began to correspond with a a bright, young woman named Samantha. After a few months, Advocate 1 introduced Brandon to Politics.com . Through Samantha, Brandon began to correspond with Chris, who invited Brandon to join a blog called The Young Liberals. One of the first things he did upon reactivating Coalition was to bring on Advocate1 and our friends from The Young Liberals, namely Samantha and Chris. Are you still with us? Good! Around the same time Brandon started a blog called Republican-Free America, which he ignored for some time while he concentrated on The Young Liberals. In the meantime, Brandon’s friend, Daniel, began a gay rights blog called Rights Now, which wasn’t exactly going anywhere either. A few months after that Kyle began a blog which he called LeftWingRising, the above-mentioned blog which we are in the process of closing out. During that time our friends and relatives from the area began to join in on the fun, and the end result is the “interesting” crew that you see listed in our contributors’ column.
After awhile it began to dawn on three of the blog founders (Brandon, Kyle, and Daniel) that they might cut back on repetition if they were to pool their resources on COALITION. So, that’s the basic history.
So, now you’re probably asking yourselves, “Who is who?” Well, friends and neighbors, that’s easy. This is basically a political blog run by friends, relatives and step-relatives. Brandon, Kyle, and Brian are half brothers by the same mother, although they do not half a common father. Kyle and Daniel are half brothers, sharing the same natural father, although Daniel is not related to Brian and Brandon. That doesn’t make a difference though, since we love him like family anyhow. Isn’t this easy? Why, of course it is! Enlightenment (Trevor) is Brandon’s natural father, Rachel is Trevor’s wife (Brandon’s step mother), and Abraham is Rachel’s Uncle in her late father’s side (Please note that her late father does not write for this blog!)
Karen is Kyle’s wife; Kelli is Karen’s cousin and Brandon’s fiancé, while CJ is Daniel’s boyfriend. (And you thought this would be simple!) Advocate1 is a best friend to both, Trevor and Brandon. Chris, and Samantha are our close friends from Baltimore and Pittsburgh (respectively) and Katie is a friend who Advocate 1 met through the library where he writes, sketches, and helps out from time to time.
Most of us, live in the Southeastern Corner of Wisconsin where we live within anywhere from a 10 minute to an hour's drive from one another. All in all it’s a fine place to live—despite the Republican riff-raff which contaminates the rural areas between Chicago and Milwaukee, but that aside, we enjoy making life difficult for the local GOPIgs and their Fundamentalist lap dogs.
Soooooo, that’s who we are. What are we about? The hyphen and the newly revised mission statement say it all: “We strive for an honorable America free of Republican greed, arrogance, rapacity, and ineptitude. If you still believe in American core values such as justice, equality, and freedom of conscience then this is the site for you.”
So, we hope that former LeftWingRising readers will stay with their favorite writers here on Coalition Sometimes you will find them in solo efforts. On other occasions you will find them working together on joint projects, such as our recent examination of the Bush Administration and the Fourteen Characteristics of Fascism. In any event, we hope you enjoy what we’re doing here.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
When I suggested the idea for the following article Brandon informed me that he had been thinking along the same lines but was a little reluctant to write a post about it. After a little coaxing, my stunningly handsome fiance finally came around to my way of thinking and agreed to help me with the post. For that, and for being the fine future husband that I know he will be, I am very grateful.
Thank you, Brandon. Love and kisses.
8 September 2005
INEPTITUDE OR MALICE AFORETHOUGHT?
THOUGHTS ON FEDERAL RELIEF, FEMA AND THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION
A quarter century of deepening and expanding conservatism; twenty-five years of I-hate-the federal-government fanaticism: thatĺs what it takes to breed to kind of apathetic ineptitude like the kind that we have seen in Washington DC during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Throughout the campaign season of 2004, George W. Bush claimed that he could prevent the kind of terrorism that we saw on 911. In a similar vein he also said that he could provide the kind of "strong leadership" (yeah, right) that would be required in the event of another terrorist attack. Well, here we are a few months later. We're facing a national disaster which has created the same kind of results that we might expect from a terrorist attack, and now it seems as if we have a "leader" who needs the political equivalent of a seeing eye dog.
When the National Weather Service announced that Hurricane Katrina had been upgraded to a Category 5 Storm, and then informed us that she was heading straight for the Gulf States, I turned to my fiance,, Brandon and his best friend, Jeff, and I said "this is going to be a disaster." Unfortunately, this is one of those times when I really, (really!) hate to be right. Granted, Katrina had been downgraded to a Category 4 by the time she hit New Orleans, but that proved to be irrelevant. What was relevant, however, was the fact that after 911 the big government-hating Neocons, in their infinite wisdom, decided it would be a neat idea to take a number of smaller bureaucracies and to merge them into an even bigger and even more inefficient super bureaucracy, the Department of Homeland Security. Of course, their reasoning went something likes this: If we get all of these agencies and programs under some kind of centralized control we should be able to respond more efficiently to a terrorist attack and the kind of damage that such an attack would leave in its aftermath. Or so we've been told. I on the other hand have had serious doubts about their motives--as you shall soon see.
We haven't suffered another terrorist attack, but we have certainly suffered a national disaster; and while it wasn't a terrorist attack per se, the kind of damage that it created was (and is) highly analogous to the kind of destruction that one might expect after an attack. Translated into modern English, Katrina was the test, and the Bush Administration's performance gets an F--or should I say an incomplete?
First and foremost, you really have to ask yourself why the Republican Neocons melted FEMA into the Department of Homeland Security. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the history of FEMA, it was created in 1979 during the Carter Administration. Its primary purpose was to help and assist during times of national disasters: not only during terrorist attacks as the Bush Administration seems to believe), but during times of national disasters. To be specific, I am talking about tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, chemical spills etc. For many years FEMA became a dumping ground for political appointments. I suppose, presidents Reagen and Bush 1 assumed that national disasters weren't all that common so they could get away with appointing political cronies to head up a federal agency that they assumed would never be used with any great frequency. But that changed when William Jefferson Clinton (of all people!) appointed James Lee Witt (see http://www.fema.gov/about/bios/witt.shtm ). Note also that Clinton had the intelligence to elevate FEMA to a cabinet position. Unlike past (and present) directors, Witt actually had a background in emergency management which allowed him to whip the agency into an effective organization.
But that changed when the Bush neocons came into power and decided that we would fare better under a system of free market fundamentalism. Under the new director (Joe M. Allbaugh) Witt's reforms were abandoned and the Bush administration subjected FEMA to a foolish regiment of privatization. It didn't get any better in 2003, when FEMA was stripped of its cabinet position and bled into the Department of Homeland Security along with 22 other federal programs, agencies, and offices, thereby reducing contact between the FEMA director and the President of the United States. Moreover, FEMA's disaster functions were sharply curtailed; three quarters of its functions and activities were stripped, and, perhaps worst of all, little (if any) thought was given to possible consequences as FEMA was transformed into a quasi law enforcement entity. In its new and devolved form, FEMA lost the capacity to manage. Coordination, cooperation, and communication broke down. Under Witt, representatives from FEMA actually met with local officials in the same room and coordinated responses. But that didn't happen under Allbough and his successor, Michael Brown. Instead there was very little contact between FEMA and local officials. And the results were predictable, if not inevitable. Suddenly we were exposed to horrific stories about FEMA rejecting help from fire fighters, the Red Cross, medical experts, even water bearing trucks from Wal-Mart. Under Bush and the Neocons, FEMA lost the ability to manage disaster situations.
Part of me would love to believe that Free Market Fundamentalists were merely foolish. I really want to believe that my elected officials were merely naive, that they didn't fully understand the repercussions of their policies and actions. But there is another part of me that is beginning to wonder if the woefully, inadequate (read negligent) response that we saw in New Orleans might not have been deliberate. That's right; I said deliberate, as in on purpose.
Whether you want to admit it or not, the knee jerk drive to privatize anything and everything in sight, regardless as to consequences, has clearly had an effect on the effectiveness of our Federal government.
For a quarter of a century we have been inundated with speeches, doubletalk, and out right prevarications about the evils of the dreaded Federal government, and now the results of this right wing rhetoric have come back to haunt us. We now have a Federal government in which the appointed and elected officials are dedicated to making their (self-fulfilling) prophecies come true.
In some cases I suspect (or at least hope) that we may actually have well-intentioned individuals who simply don't know what to do, who find themselves faced with both, a supposedly bloated federal bureaucracy, and an inept administration which truly believes that the best way to insure privatization is to guarantee failure by the federal government. But in other cases, I suspect that the Department Heads themselves (think Michael Brown) are hell bent on watching their own offices or agencies fail, simply so that they and the Neocon politicians who confirmed them can go to the American people and tell them that "big government is ineffective, we need to privatize this mess for the people who funded Republican campaign chests." Or, to be succinct, I do not entirely believe that the failures, the ineptitude, we saw in New Orleans was fully accidental. Part of me is beginning to question the underlying assumptions and motivations that were at play here.
So I am asking the questions that very few have dared to ask: Could it be that the Bush Administration, in its privatization zeal, deliberately messed up in New Orleans so that it could write home about the ineffectiveness of the federal government in Washington? Might not the Neocons have decided that the poor, black, and elderly population of New Orleans was expendable?
When you think about it, there is certain logic to this. The Presidency, the federal legislature, and the federal judiciary are predominantly Republican, so the Republicans probably won't be too inclined to launch an independent investigation into the matter. Granted, Bush has announced that he will investigate himself, and Senator Frist has made off the cuff remarks about a bipartisan investigation, but with one party in complete control the odds are that you will not get a very thorough investigation. And it isn't as if the lower income population of a racially and culturally mixed city is going to have the same political clout as the people in Lower Manhattan. In other words, we had investigations after 911 because the victims' families were predominantly upper middle or upper class and had political/economic clout. They were able to both force and shame the Bush Administration into holding hearings that it did not initially want to hold.
Somehow, I don't think the same thing can be said about New Orleans. The survivors, the victims' families, are not going to have the same political and economic clout as the people in Lower Manhattan. In other words, the Bush Administration, in its free market fanaticism might well done a precursory analysis of the situation, decided (foolishly) that the risks were minimal, and allowed the situation to reel out of control in the hope that the American people would wake up and turn on the idea "big government.ö"
Well, if that was the plan it failed miserably--rather like every other plan that this crew has concocted. The general response has been a demand for more in the way of emergency assistance from the Federal Government, not less. And to make matters even worse, the same free market fundamentalists who so frequently tout the ideas of personal opportunity and personal responsibility are now doing their utmost best to distance themselves from any thing that even resembles personal responsibility. Certainly there were failures at every level of government, but by the same token we need to remember that this was a horrific event. And as my fellow team mates have suggested, there is only one city which could have made the federal government look good during a national crisis--Lower Manhattan, which has the manpower and financial power to virtually match governmental services. If a similar event were to happen in another American city I think you would see news reports of thousands dead and ineffective local and state government. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, the purpose of the federal government is to do for the American people what the American people cannot do for themselves. Or, if you prefer Harry Truman, "the buck stops here." Unless, of course, youĺre a team player in the Bush Administration, in which case it seems to stop over there, or yonder, wherever, or anywhere except on the chief executiveĺs desk top.
George W. Bush claimed that he was the only individual who could lead America during these troubled times. The governmental and structural reforms which the Neocons implemented after 911 were supposed to prevent terrorist attacks and improve our response in the event that another attack took place. Hurricane Katrina has proven conclusively that this Administration's ideas (or lack thereof) are actually more destructive than productive.
After twenty-five years of deepening conservatism, the far right has finally succeeded in its lifelong dream,the destruction of the Federal Government's ability to lend a helping hand during a national catastrophe. And now thousands of people are dead, either because of gross ineptitude or because of political malice aforethought.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
House Speaker Dennis Hastert has an interesting idea. In Speaker Hastert’s opinion we should not rebuild the City of New Orleans. Others have suggested that we should help the hurricane survivors this one time but then deny them insurance coverage or federal assistance in the event of a similar disaster.
Well, as much as it may pain my fellow liberals, I have to agree with Speaker Hastert. The fact of the matter is that the people of New Orleans, and the South in general, should have known better. They shouldn't have spent all that time, money, and effort building lives, careers, and communities inan area that is repeatedly ravaged by summertime disasters. But if Speaker Hastert’s idea is to be truly effective we cannot confine it to the borders of New Orleans. There are many areas ofthe country in which natural disasters are a part of every day life (or at least a threat at certain times of the year), and if Speaker Hastert and his supporters are serious, then we should at least consider expanding the idea to every American state and territory.
For example: The entire Southeastern United States, including the Gulf and Atlantic States, is frequently plagued by tropical storms and hurricanes. Why shouldn’t they be subjected to the same kind of treatment as the type Speaker Hastert has proposed? Why should New Orelans be the only area in the country to benefit from the Speaker's proposed policy? We could go back through historical records, determine which areas have been hit my devastating hurricanes, and begin an immediate and permanent evacuation of the given areas. Having done so, we could send in the bulldozers and wrecking balls, level everything, and pass legislation which would forbid future habitation by human beings. Nor should we stop at the southern coastal states. Certainly hurricanes have caused significant inland damage; tropical storms have undoubtedly bred killer tornadoes. Clearly, if we are to be consistent, we must include these inland territories as well.
We see a parallel problem in the Mississippi River states where entire areas rest in flood plains. Why should insurance consumers and tax payers be forced to subsidize the lifestyles of foolish people who develope emotional connections to the communities in which they live? If logic tells us that these areas pose a threat to life and property then said areas should be evacuated and never used by human beings again.
The Midwest and Great Lakes States pose similar problems, although not from hurricanes. Only a few weeks ago the southeastern corner of Wisconsin experienced horrific damage as the result of a tornadic super cell. Large portions Stoughton Village were leveled. In a sane society we would permanently evacuate the entire area of Stoughton, level the remaining buildings, and relocate the citizens to other areas of the state or country. Moreover, anytime a tornado touches down and inflicts significant damage (or perhaps even minor damage) we should permanently evacuate the area in question, refuse to rebuild the damaged structures, level everything, and forbid future human habitation.
We don’t even have to limit the policy to Wisconsin--nor should we. Many states experience severe tornado damage during the late spring and summer. Kansas, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas etc. experience weather conditions which pose extreme risks to life, limb, and property. Why should the American people pay hard earned dollars to support lifestyles which are constantly threatened by Mother Nature? In my opinion, they shouldn’t. If you live in an area which experiences tornadoes, or severe thunderstorms which might inflict catastrophic damage, you shouldn’t be burdening your fellow citizens by living such a dangerous lifestyle. You should be given a onetime shot, and if it doesn’t work out, you should be resettled to an area that has not yet been damaged.
Nor should we limit this policy to tornado damage. We could apply the same theory to the West Coast,where earthquakes are a constant threat. Why should we wait for the proverbial big one? With each minor earthquake we could abandon the inflicted area, forbid future resettlement, and relocate the local population to other areas of the United States. Moreover, the Midwest and Northeast states are long overdue for a major earthquake. Shouldn’t we be thinking about future disasters while we’re at it?
And what about Hawaii? Has it dawned on anyone that there might be a killer volcano out there waiting to dump tons of ash and lava on an unsuspecting population? Do we really want to wait for the next Krakatoa before we take action? Of course not. Get those people out of there and don't let them, nor anyone else back in.
The same policy might apply to water deprived states such as Arizona, Mexico. Nevada, Oklahoma,and Texas. Let’s face it. The American Southwest was a disastrous area in which to settle large populations of human beings. Sooner or later they will run out of water and their greedy lifestyles will create a drain, compeling southwesterners to seek water from other areas of the country. Do we really want to disrupt the economic and environmental lifestyles of others who are taking care of their resources in a reasonable manner? I think not. Whenever there is a crop-threatening or cattle-threatening drought we could simply forbid future insurance of the area, remove the locals, and ship them--either willingly or unwillingly--in the same trucks in which we ship the longhorn cattle, and be done with the situation. Future human settlement in the inflicted area would be forbidden until the end of time and that would be the end of it--no questions asked. Never rebuild, never resettle, never worry.
Granted, there may be a few drawbacks. As more and more territory is declared off limits, we will be be compelled to squeeze a growing population into an ever shrinking territory. Indeed, experts have suggested that if Speaker Hastert's idea were to be employed on a national basis, we would eventually arrive at a point where approximately 300 million people would be settled in a two acre stretch of property in the State of Montana. But if we are to preserve the financial resources of well to do Americans at the expense of lower class, elderly, and disabled individuals, we must harden ourselves and prepare for the inevitable.
Only when we recognize that the all mighty dollar is more important than local culture and human, life, will we ever be safe and secure from natural disasters.
Obviously, the above post was intended as satire. But on a more serious note, someone should tell Speaker Hastert that New Orleans is one of our most active and important ports. Moreover, the historical and cultural appeal of New Orleans has always been somewhat magnetic, perhaps even a tad romantic. With that in mind, we also would like to nominate Speaker Hastert for a sepcial Asshole of the Month Award.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Like most Americans, we are outraged by the poor performance that we have been reading about and watching on our televisions screens. Moreover, we have just about reached the saturation point when it comes to the continuous flow of excuses that this administration offers on a regular basis for its growing ineptitude.
To paraphrase an old political joke: Why do George and Laura always make love with Laura on top and George on the bottom? Because George always screws up. All right. We had to clean that one up a little bit. But we're sure you get the drift. We used to say that the only way this Admiistration would ever tell the truth would be if it were to do so by accident. Now, we are half way certain that the only way it could ever do anything right or beneficial would be if it were to do so by accident.
Something has to give. And as much as we hate to say it, Hurricane Katrina may prove to be the tipping point in so far as the Bush Regime is concerned. Which in a way is ironic. First Bush suffered because of the efforts of a Gold Star Mother. Now he is suffering because of Mother nature. The irony here is that this over-masculinized, woman-hating regime is being brought down by motherhoods of different types in ways that it never could have imagined. The tragedy is that thousands of people will have to die to prove just how inept the crowd in Washington truly is.
WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?
I assume you have all heard the latest excuses to come from the Bush administration.
In yet another attempt to avoid responsibility for its dismal performance during the New Orleans debacle, the right wing is now trying to blame the state government of Louisiana and the city government of New Orleans for the woefully inadequate response that we saw to the New Orleans tragedy, Maybe it’s me, but the Bush Administration trying to blame others for the mess that it created from the top down through its imbecilic fiscal and foreign policies, is a little like taking your dog for a walk, letting it take a dump on your neighbor’s front stoop, and then asking your neighbor to clean up the mess.
I’m sorry, but this is another sorry example of this inept administration refusing to take personal responsibility for the consequences of its actions and inactions.
Let’s get something straight right off the bat. There is only one city in this country that could have performed adequately during a natural disaster (or for that matter even a terrorist attack) and that city located in New York State. It’s called Lower Manhattan. Whether you like it or not, lower Manhattan is the only city in the country which could make the Bush Administration’s Department of Homeland Security look in any way good because Lower Manhattan is the only city in the country which can match governmental services. If a natural disaster such as Katrina were to strike another American city you would not only have the tragic consequences of the disaster itself, but the extra added burden of a sloppy, local response. So let’s stop kidding ourselves; when you’re faced with a disaster of this magnitude the federal government as a duty to take the lead. And if the federal government doesn’t want, or can’t step in on a timely basis then the leaders who are running the federal government need to stop pointing fingers and practice some of the personal responsibility about which they so frequently lecture.
Of course the Bush Administration might—just might—have a feeble leg to stand on if it hadn’t made a hash out of the situation in the days following 911. Let’s face it. In retrospect I think we can all see that melting FEMA into the Department of Homeland Security was a mistake of the first magnitude. By depriving FEMA of its independence and making it a second tier player in a bloated bureaucracy, the Bush Administration all but set us up for the situation that we now see in New Orleans. You really need to wonder. Did it occur to anyone that FEMA was created to assist during a natural disaster? At some point did someone, anyone, bother to mention that the agency which was designed to assist during a natural disaster might need a free hand to react as efficiently as possible? By demoting FEMA, by placing it in the Department of Homeland Security, the Bush Administration essentially stripped it of its efficiency, although a viable argument might be made that the real demotion had taken place sometime earlier when Bush appointed Michael D. Brown to head the organization. I mean really, we’re talking about an individual whose previous experience was a position with the American Arabian Horse Association, an organization which—surprise, surprise—ultimately fired Brown. Beyond that the only other qualification that he seemed to hold, was the fact that he had been a room mate of W’s first campaign manager—which is interesting. Here in Wisconsin, the Chippewa Saint Croix Tribal Environmental Protection Agency has been looking for someone to serve as its Emergency Management Coordinator. The qualifications for which the Chippewa are searching are as follows: eight years of experience on top of a four year degree in emergency risk management. Now you would have thought that in its infinite wisdom, the Bush Administration would have assumed that the Bush administration would have searched for someone who actually knew what he was doing instead of caving in to the forces of nepotism, but as we have seen in the past week, that was expecting too much from this crowd.
Complicating the matter has been Donald Rumsfeld’s obsession with the Department of Defense—or should I say his personal obsession with his personal power over the Department of Defense? Thanks to post 911 reforms, the Defense Department as virtually isolated itself from the whole issue of homeland security. Not to coin a phrase, but they believe their duty is to protect America from outside threats. AS a result of Rumsfeld’s obsession, virtually anytime the Department of Homeland Security wants anything, whether it’s an analyst, or a helicopter, or a material in general, Rumsfeld has to personally sign off on the release. Ironically, the present situation was created because Rumsfeld himself believes that centralized power is a threat to his personal turf at the Department of Defense. But did he ever bother to figure out that he himself became a center of power and that the present arrangement provides a threat to both, FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security as a whole? God only knows with this administration, but the results were entirely predictable. Again and again we heard stories if FEMA turning away helicopters, food, water, badly needed provision, ad infinitum. In how many ways can you say Bush Incorporated blew it?
And it gets even worse. The abysmal response time in New Orleans actually undermines the Administration’s argument that we have to fight the Bush War in Iraq to make us safer here at home. Someone should have reminded the Bush Administration that the primary mission of a state’s National Guard is to provide emergency relief during a catastrophe such as the one we have seen in New Orleans. Unfortunately, the Administration dropped the ball again when it began to send large numbers of National Guard Troops to the (Bush) War of Choice in Iraq. Well, incase no one told them, the National Guard is very often comprised of fire fighters, policemen, and emergency medical experts, just the kind of people who were in short supply during the aftermath of Katrina. Of course, the Bush supporters (all three of them by this point) will undoubtedly claim that we were able to use National Guard Units from other states, but that isn’t the point. The point of the matter is that the National Guard from a given state is more familiar with their own state than they will be with another. National Guard Units from your own state, or even from your own city, will know the terrain, the streets, the resources at hand, the unique situation that each situation will present. That cannot be said about National Guard Units from distant states who will be plunged into a new and unfamiliar setting.
Ultimately the question must be asked: Are we safer now than we were before 911? Well, friends and neighbors, after witnessing the imbecilic manner in which this administration responded in the aftermath of Katrina, I think it is safe to assume that we are not safer under this administration; far from it. Katrina gave us plenty of warning. We watched on, initially with fascination, and then with concern and dread, as she developed from a tropical depression, into a tropical storm, into a Category 1 Hurricane, and eventually into the Category 4 nightmare which struck the Gulf Coast, and New Orleans. A terrorist is not going to give us an advance warning the way Katrina did. A terrorist is going to strike out of nowhere. There will be no time for evacuations. Or to put it another way, if the Powers That Be can’t get their act together when they have an advance warning, what makes them think that they will perform any better when a manmade disaster strikes from out of the blue? Again the answer is obvious. They cannot. All the double talk that we have heard about the Bush administration making us safer from a terrorist attack is just that—double talk. It was interesting campaign rhetoric, and it served the Bush well for nearly four years, but now the truth has come out and we realize that Bush and his cronies have been whistling in the proverbial graveyard—hoping against hope that something wouldn’t happen while the American people gave Bush high marks for his ineffective efforts in the war on terror.
Sad to say, but it seems as if the Bush Administration is just as inept at handling the after effects a natural disaster (and quite probably a terrorist attack) as it is at waging a poorly planned war of choice in Iraq. But then again, what do you expect from an incompetent administration which can only tell the truth by accident and which finds a way to ruin everything it touches?
Thursday, September 01, 2005
After talking to my Great Uncle (Abe) I realized that the US invasion of Iraq is even less like World War II than I had previously thought it was. As I have stated in the past, Iraq was contained through sanctions, observation, and occasional bombing. Hitler was allowed to run free. Moreover, in the case of Germany, we had actually been attacked first by Germany which was firing on our shipping in the Atlantic during the autumn of 1941 BEFORE the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.
AND there are major differences in HOW we fought World War II and this tragedy.
During World War II we rationed fuel, flour, eggs, rubber, sugar, material, anything that could be used for the war effort. When was the last time you heard this President tell you to do ANYTHING for the troops beyond supporting a failed policy that puts them in danger? When was the last time you heard this administration encourage you to drive a smaller car, or to drive more slowly, or to have your home insulated, or to buy energy efficient products? The answer is seldom.
And I have more bad news. You can display all the flags and yellow ribbons you like, but they won't be as helpful as proper equipment in the field. Little things like promptly supplied body armour are a thousand times more useful than meaningless platitudes about why we need to keep the troops ion harm's way. su In other words, Bush Inc has created a situation in which we have corporations which either cannot or will not suply the troops with required materials.
I can assure you, it was very different in the 1940s. When you went to the cinema there was a trailer at the end of the movie asking you to buy warbonds to fund the effort against Fascism. Children went from house to house, collecting dimes for war bonds. Taxes were raised to fund the war. None of this has happened with the Iraq war.
Not under the Bush Oil Company in Washington.
We have taken very few steps to make ourselves independent of foreign oil. The government has dragged its feet when it comes to funding research for alternative energy sources. We can't even create a national energy bill or create new efficiency standards for our motor fleet without including hidden and not so hidden kickbacks for the car companies and oil companies. We do nothing to discourage SUVs* which are burning good oil/gas after bad. Few of the elites have children fighting in the war. Have you seen the Bush twins in militaryfatigues doing their basic training? What about the children of our representatives and Senators? You get the drift.
In the meantime, Corporate America has behaved in a way that can only be described as traitorous. CEOs live in America, enjoy American rights and American-created prosperity, but then turn around and send American jobs overseas, get special tax breaks, and contribute very little towards the war effort itself. Behavior like that would have been frowned upon during World War II. Hell,who am I kidding? Behavior like that would have been seen as traitorous during World War II. And yet the Bush has the brainless audacity to stand up there and tell us that his debacle in the Mid East is similar to that honorable war. This after they have proven time and time again through their own dishonorable actions and exposed webs of deceit that the Bush War is in no way, shape, or form the moral equal of World War II....
But then again, during World War II most Americans could tell the difference between a just war and an unjust war. And that seems to be a talent that the Bush regime will never acquire.