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Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Michael Balter

Wellcome aboard, Andrew. It seems a little unclear whether Rove is running the reconstruction effort or the PR campaign on the reconstruction effort, which is not the same thing. Could you clarify or comment?

marc Davidson

I had thought that the administration's right-wing rebuilding agenda would be limited to the usual things like circumvention of prevailing-wage legislation and environmental laws, but it seems that it goes far beyond this. The genius of Karl Rove is in his ability to make a national tragedy into winner for his boss. Will his cynicism be, once and for all, exposed? This is the test for our citizenry and the media.


All quite predictable and loathesome, but why should we care if the state shifts color? All those poor residents of New Orleans don't seem to have benefited particuarly from being ruled by Democratic mayors for the last century. In fact, there seems to be quite a lot of Democratic-Republican consensus on the whole episode, as seen most emblematically in the Bush-Clinton reconstruction fund. Isn't that patriotic?


Andrew wrote: "When I was in the disaster region last week, I heard a lot of stories of evacuee families being split up and shipped off.... ...Those stories, in turn, have led to rumors that the Bush administration is engaged in a crude exercise in population transfer...."

Are these rumors from the same sources that said that Bush caused and directed the hurricane, from the sources that said that he intentionally destroyed the levees, and from the sources that said that he refused to help those stranded who were black? If so, you need new sources or better analytical skills. If Bush is so stupid, as the left claims, then how can he be smart enough to do everything for which the left accuses him?

This is typical knee-jerk reaction and accusations based on no facts--just speculation from a bunch of liberals sitting around in coffee houses and college campuses and, oh yes, "news" rooms who speculate what "could happen," so it must be true. This is a classic case of why Democrats and their cronies have little credibility and connection with main-stream America.

I understand wanting to post something of controversy for discussion purposes; but, surely, Andrew, and be honest, you don't really believe these far-fetched and unsupported accusations, do you? Tell the truth. This speculaton has the same effect as Cindy Sheehan's calling for the withdrawal of troops out of "occupied New Orleans." It just causes anyone of reason to walk away stunned over the absurdity of the views. How typical of reactions and claims from the left.

Wouldn't it be better to discuss real problems and real solutions in an honest fashion and based upon facts rather deal in far-fetched fantasies? That would at least be productive. That's all I have to say...except, my offer to review you book is still on the table.

Good luck this week. At least you'll have a lot of company who will buy into suggested claims and back them.


"If Bush is so stupid, as the left claims, then how can he be smart enough to do everything for which the left accuses him?"

Huhh ???

I haven't heard those particular rumors you allude to Woody although I'm sure that's the line over at "Newsmax", but it might help squelch the "rumor" mill if Bush didn't do totally indefensible half-assed shit like appoint a completley incompetent crony to head the nation's #1 life and death emergency response program or put Karl Rove (!), a political hack with no discernible principles other than the most viciously partisan, in charge of strategizing reconstruction.

Your guy has proven himself a clueless piece of crap, both at home and abroad, so don't blame the "left" or the media when chickens come home to roost. The facts of the matter are that many people are dead needlessly, both in the Gulf and in Iraq, because of Bush's fecklessness, hubris, and incompetence - not to mention his terrible choice of counsel at critical moments. It's in your corner buddy. And it's damned ugly. And frankly, a lot of this stuff has gone way beyond any reasonable debate or defense except with hopelessly partisan GOP dead-enders .

America has pretty much had it with this crap.

Michael Turner

"Are these rumors from the same sources that said that Bush caused and directed the hurricane, from the sources that said that he intentionally destroyed the levees, and from the sources that said that he refused to help those stranded who were black?"

It doesn't take a batshit conspiracy theory to split up families under circumstances like these. If they are packing the evacuation/transfer vehicles to the gills, and making ham-handed or hasty decisions about who gets the last seat or two, and are also working with a definition of "family" that's significantly different from that of those who feel they are being split up, then splits will happen. The grandparents who are really raising the kid might get on the bus with the kid, while the teenage mother gets left behind. Or it might be the teenage mother who gets on the bus with the kid, while the grandparents get left behind. And that's hardly the end of the possibilities.

Oh, by the way: Andrew, meet Woody. I somehow don't think you'll be pleased to have made this particular acquaintance.


Hey Woody, make sure not to miss John Tierney in the New York Times today...his take on the poor preparation and slow response to Katrina is that it's Bill Clinton's fault . The solution - turn FEMA over to WalMart.

I'm sure that's one wild theory you will want to give some serious consideration to.


reg, I'm not going to mix it up with you. It's a waste of my time. Your attacks, ranting, exaggerations, and half-truths against Bush have been dismantled over-and-over with factual analyses.

You conveniently forget that a Democratic governor and mayor were given resources and were responsible for the protection of New Orleans and the preparation and evacuation of the city--not the federal government. It was the Democrats who controlled the Senate and chaired the committee that confirmed Brown, after a foty-two minute hearing in which only four Senators attended. Individuals had responsibilities and choices about staying in the threatened city. There is no evidence that Bush had the levees intentionally breeched, as is claimed. Then, on Iraq, Democrats questioned recently still overwhelmingly stand by their votes on invading Iraq for evidence that goes far beyond WMD.

Yet, I realize that it must be fun to say that Bush is responsible for all the deaths on the coast and overseas. Fun, maybe, but wrong. Emotions don't carry the day, especially when it comes to managing a nation, but you can keep on with yours if that makes you feel good, because it doesn't bother me and counts for nothing.


Michael, the clear implications of the post are that the Republicans are taking INTENTIONAL steps to break up the black majority and the families of New Orleans. That post doesn't hint that families getting separated is a natural result of a rushed evacuation. I see kids lost at malls and ball games, so why is Bush to blame for these?

I think that Andrew might enjoy getting to know me. I speak frankly, logically, and truthfully. Even when there is disagreement in our analysis, most people will respect and welcome polite and honest discourse from the other side. So, although you think that Andrew wouldn't welcome getting to know me, and I guess you have some high insight into him and me, you might be wrong, which wouldn't be the first time.

But, it doesn't matter. I stopped back in to say hello and see what's changed. Other than Jay Byrd taking a leave, which is good, I see the same baseless attacks which take too much energy to dispel for no return. So, carry on.

Marc Davidson

"It was the Democrats who controlled the Senate and chaired the committee that confirmed Brown..."

Woody, is this the best Bush supporters can come up with: the Democrats didn't do enough to stop my guy from screwing up royally. Be honest, Woody, wouldn't you have been yelling "obstructionism" had the Senate blocked the nomination.

No doubt that supine Democrats are partly to blame for a lot that's wrong, but the big bozo of the last 5 years is Bush, second only to the people who voted for him.


Welcome Andrew…. Interesting topic. Logic suggests that your latter analysis of the Katrina diaspora as an opportunity for the creative use of political pork is correct.

Woody, seriously, why exactly do you imagine Bush would have chosen Rove to manage the recovery effort now that his numbers are tanking, other than for political reasons? Give us some logical rationale other than the one we perceive---which is that the selection of Rove suggests in the most bald-faced and striking manner that any and all White House decisions regarding the recovery from Katrina are being made with their political consequences most primarily in mind.

Imagine if a democrat made a similar choice---- putting his closest, long-time political operative in charge of the most expensive disaster recovery in the history----someone who has no experience other than running hardball political campaigns and whose every waking thought---like him or loath him---is known to be political. What would one make of that if the shoe were on the other political foot? I’m open to be persuaded otherwise, but I believe the screaming of "Foul!" would never end---and rightly so.

PS: Andrew…..I know Woody told you to beware of any commenters with names beginning with the letter “R,” but Reg and I feel that Woody was being unnecessarily unfair singling out faithful commenter Rockford! ;-)

Mavis Beacon

Come now, Woody. Your first post was pretty insulting. You don't engage any of the arguments; you just call Andrew's inaugural post fantasy and claim that it's typical of the left to avoid facts. Then, when Turner and Reg give you a couple sly kicks you start crying martyr. Give me a break.

One thing that bugs people about this president is his tendency to reward loyalists at the expense of competence. Politics over policy. Yesterday the American Spectator quoted an anonymous source (how dare they! Conservatives must be up in arms) saying the following:

"‘What happened was that some of the best people who were working in the Administration during the first term, but who weren't necessarily Bush campaign members or weren't particularly close to the White House, jumped when they saw opportunities being filled by under-qualified but more politically connected people,’ says a current Administration senior staffer in a Cabinet department. ‘In this department we lost three quarters of the people who should have been encouraged to stay, and most of them left simply because they had received no indication they would be considered for better or different opportunities. And many of these folks would have stayed’"

If this doesn't make you nervous, either you think the American Spectator is part of the liberal media or you can’t imagine this administration doing anything wrong. Either way, you’re not thinking straight.

Aside for Woody: Also, most liberals don't think Bush broke the levees on purpose. I hadn't even heard that claim. It seems to be a charge floated by an angry, paranoid person who just lost everything he owned. But just because that's a ridiculous claim doesn't mean other charges of incompetence aren't valid!

Andrew Gumbel

Think I'm going to quite enjoy having Woody around, much like a parent deciding that the biggest handful among his/her children can often also be the most rewarding. A few points:

Woody, you're welcome to review my book any time you choose, but please read it first. Don't take issue with me based on a review.

Your scoffing at me for picking up on the rumor mill hinting at preplanned population transfers misses the point. These rumors exist because the evacuation was so crude and hamfisted. But I emphatically don't subscribe to them. My theory is the political patronage theory, which makes sense of the chaos/split families/incongruity of poor urban blacks ending up in Utah etc. At least it does to me.

As for Michael Balter's question, on whether Rove is in charge of reconstruction or the PR effort, I'm not sure the Bush administration knows the difference. The first five FEMA officials I met in Louisiana, including those I met at random as they flew in, were all on PR duty, not frontline response. At the risk of enraging Woody further, I'd direct you to Robert Reich's piece in yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/09/19/EDGJ3EP1CS1.DTL&hw=robert+reich&sn=002&sc=690)further delving into the paradox of a Bush administration almost frighteningly competent RPT competent in the political management department but absolutely hopeless on policy.


"Reg and I feel that Woody was being unnecessarily unfair singling out faithful commenter Rockford! ;-)"

Oooops...I thought he was talking about GM Roper.


"Bush is responsible for all the deaths"

Didn't say that, but I understand why your Twisting is as inevitable as Chubby Checker at a Dick Clark Reunion.

I said "needless deaths" in Iraq and our Gulf were attributable to Bush's feckless incompetence- and that, my friend, is a just a damn fact clear to anyone who's not watching current events from the Twilight Zone.


Also Woody, blaming Brown on the Democrats is just outright, disgusting dishonesty. Who the hell appointed him ? You GOPers are big whining babies when it comes to taking responsibility for ANYTHING .


'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gumble in the wabes...


Woody - you don't have to believe me about Iraq, but perhaps you'll give at least a bit of credence to Colonel Tim Collins, the British commander of 1st Battalion, Irish Regiment, whose stirring words to his troops in Iraq, commending them as liberators, were given major play a couple of years ago. He doesn't work for FOX, doesn't host right-wing talk radio or paste together crap for Newsmax, so you might not consider him worth listening to. He's just a Brit who's put his ass on the line and looks back in disgust.



And just when you think things can't possibly get stupider on the Katrina relief front.....



Surely the only reason those British ratioins are being recalled and burned is because of regulations that were instituted under Clinton and the Democrats...

What other possible explanation could there be ????


A BBC Rescue Boat in New Orleans
Stephen Darwall: September 6, 2005

Yesterday I saw the most amazing BBC video coverage from New Orleans, which spoke volumes about the character and focus of even our belated relief efforts there. You can find it at the BBC News site (Thanks to Ciaran.) What you will see is footage from a small boat that a BBC reporter and crew took into one of the poor African-American neighborhoods in New Orleans. Winding their way past floating dead bodies, they find their way to a house with five children and their dead mother, whom they rescue. "It seems quite incredible to me," says the BBC reporter, "that we are the only boat in this neighborhood. And in every neighborhood we have gone into there are so many people with so many needs." After taking the family to an evacuation point, they return to the neighborhoods and find two middle-aged African-American brothers still holding on in their house because they don't want to leave their deceased mother, whose body hangs above the water level in a sling. Presently, the report turns to the relief effort itself and to the high proportion of military/police to medical support. "When the authorities do come to these streets, it's more often in pickup trucks with guns, more guns than medical workers." Dr. Greg Anderson is interviewed and says, "There are a lot more cops ... and guns than doctors. For a long time, I'm sorry to say, I was the only doctor down here in central New Orleans." An equally distressing proportion is the ratio of human needs met by that small BBC crew to those met by the enormous US news and "news" operations, not to mention, the national guard and other national support, considered in relation to their relative size.



Oops...I think I already posted this.


ZNet | Activism

Reply to Greg Palast

by George Galloway; September 20, 2005

Until a couple of days ago I hadn't heard of Greg Palast in years, the man who claims to have been pursuing me with questions for two months. He has never phoned, written, emailed or made any other contact with me, which is curiously reminiscent of the behavior of the US Senate committee. Having now forced myself to look at his pernicious writing, it seems like the deranged ramblings you might expect to find pushed out from under the door of a locked ward. He claims to be a journalist. He clearly doesn't get much work.

Palast conflates meetings, truths and half-truths, statements taken out of context to produce a toxic smear which would be actionable in the country he claims to work in, my country. How many times do I have to respond to the ravings of guttersnipes? I met Saddam twice, the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld. The difference is that I wasn't trying to sell him weapons and guidance systems. The first, and infamous time, my words were taken out of context. The second, where Saddam revealed his favorite confectionery, I was trying to persuade him to let the weapons' inspectors back in. A vain mission, of course, as the US and UK had already decided to illegally go to war whatever he did.

The Mariam Appeal, which Palast drags in to allege I benefited financially from its work, was not a charity. It was a political campaign. Its primary function was not to provide medicines for Iraqi children, although we did, but to highlight the political conditions which were killing them. Sanctions! The largest donor was the ruler of the UAE (who gave approximately £500,000), followed by Fawaz Zureikat's £375,000, and then the now king of Saudi Arabia (a regime I loath) with £150,000. The donations of these three represented 99% of the campaign's total income. These donors were prominently identified at the time, there was no attempt to hide them, as this palooka claims. None of them have complained the money was ill-spent. Palast might take the view that finance should not be taken from such sources. Sorry, but needs must.

Among the works undertaken by the appeal was a daily newsletter on sanctions, a sanctions-busting flight into Baghdad, the Big Ben to Baghdad trip in a red London bus, countless meetings and conferences, posters and flyers, the projection of an anti-war slogan on the House of Commons, the first time that had ever been done -- and the facilitating of trips to Iraq by dozens of journalists, many of whom sat in on my meetings with Tariq Aziz. And virtually all of whom were conducted around Baghdad by Fawaz Zureikat, openly introduced as the Mariam Appeal's chairman, as well as a businessman trading with Iraq. We brought Mariam Hamza to Britain for treatment -- immodestly, but factually, I claim that we saved her life -- where she remained for half a year, sent back cured. I could go on and on but my enemies would surely claim I was blowing my own trumpet.

But what I will not tolerate -- and will sue in any territory where it is possible to do so -- is the lie that I personally benefited financially from the campaign. The Charity Commission inquiry Palast refers to was occasioned by a referral from Tony Blair's Attorney General. The commission are in possession of every receipt of funds and every cheque issues or bank transfer ever made. They satisfied that there was no malfeasance and closed the case without further action, no doubt to the disappointment of Mr Blair's Attorney General. Charities in Britain cannot campaign politically, which was the prime function of the appeal and in their judgment the commission said that the operation should have been split in two, one arm of which, the one which provided the physical aid, should have registered as a charity. Well, sorry, but that's poppycock.

The stumblebum then drags in Hitchens -- perhaps it's two bums finding mutual support -- a man I recently debated in New York. For what seems like the ten-thousandth time let me try to finally nail the canard that I benefited through the oil-for-food programme, an allegation at the time of writing which has netted me at least $4 million in libel damages and costs. Of course, when I talked with Tariq Aziz, I talked about the programme, but only in respect of the effects it was having on Iraq. I did not request or receive oil vouchers. I did not benefit financially. Not by one thin dime! I said voluntarily and on pain of prosecution under oath to the US Senate committee -- another body which doesn't let the facts get in the way of a good smear -- and I say it again. If I had been guilty of what Palast alleges I'd be sitting not in the House of Commons but a prison cell! Let that be an end to it because I'm sure the public is even more tired and bemused than I am.

Crawl back under your rock, Mr Palast!

George Galloway MP


Just to clear up the "R's," Jim Rockford begins with J and GM Roper begins with G. Names that begin with R, which may or may not apply to my heads-up, are reg, my good friend rosedog, Rich, richard lo cicero, Randy Paul, R. Mark Davidson, and R. Mavis Beacon. I had to stretch on those last two. Anyway, I just found it interesting that so many frequent commenters for the left used names that begin with the eighteenth letter of the alphabet. The odds for that are greater than people refunding money for the $2,000 FEMA debit cards used at Houston strip clubs. Is a lap dance a legitimate survival expense? Will they thank George Bush for that?

Andrew, thanks for your comments. I have to say that if I actually read your book before expressing an opinion, then a lot of people would be disappointed. I'm glad that you don't agree with the rumors mentioned in the entry. Too many people do believe everything that is said against this administration--not to name names. However, if I were going to mention names and if this was still "talk like a pirate day" I would have to say Arrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Regarding rumors and racial feelings, I have to share an experience that I had today, where I took a volunteer experience to help the hurricane victims and made an effort to clear up race relations for all time. In a nutshell, some white folks in my circle went to the SCLC to help get supplies to the hurricane victims in a very poor town in Louisiana. At that gathering and in front of cameras, the SCLC represetatives went on a blistering attack of white people. Everyone on stage was shouting in agreement, like it was some protest rally. I told the SCLC that I thought it was in poor form to insult the white volunteers and that maybe apologies and new attitudes were in order. Using my best Johnny Cochran style, I said, "Isn't it more important to serve those who are hurting than to hurt those who are serving?"

Well, a senior official called me and told me that he disagreed with my assessment and went on to tell me that racism is alive even if I don't believe it, which isn't what I said at all. After listening to him and knowing that he would never understand or accept my point, I thanked him for his call and said that while we didn't agree at least I appreciated the opportunity to talk.

Here's where it gets good. He said that he would write me a letter, to which I replied that it would not be necessary as the phone coversation was sufficient for what we had to discuss, but thank you, anyway. I was very polite and sincere. Then, he went ballistic and said that I was just another white person telling him what he should do. He said that he was going to write me a letter and white people are always telling blacks what to do, and I did that when I said don't bother to write. He went on-and-on-and-on. Then he told me that he was offended. Well, I had heard enough, so I told him that if he is offended at that then he gets offended too easily. I was extending a courtesy to him by telling him not to waste his time to write me because I was satisfied with the phone call and a letter would add nothing to what was said. Then he got mad at me for saying that his writing a letter was wasting time. Well, I finally told him that if he wants to write a letter, then go ahead, but don't do it for me because I don't need it but he can do if for himself. Chalk one up for racial accord.

I really think that this official means well, but he really has a chip on his shoulder and really believes what he was saying. I used to think that a lot of the black agitators, like Jesse Jackson, were that way just to keep the revenues rolling in. Then, I realized that this guy really believes that whitey is out to get them. Well, that did it for me. I'm getting a white caddie and a new yard man in the future. (I just threw that in for effect.) Actually, I was surprised and I was being on my best behavior. If I can't bring racial harmony, then it can't be done. Remember, all this was in an effort to help poor black hurricane victims in Louisiana, and none of the whites cared about the color of people who needed help.

Now, where were we?

My ribbon is fading and I don't want use it up at this point, so I'll have to defer replies to other comments. I'm very stressed from today's activities and have to go see a therapist so that I'm not ashamed of being a white Republican. Our lives get very tough. I could use some sympathy.

Everyone have a good evening.


"so many frequent commenters for the left used names that begin with the eighteenth letter of the alphabet"

Woody, I can't believe that you missed this one. 18 = 6+6+6. 666 = The Mark of the Beast. Duh !

"If I can't bring racial harmony, then it can't be done."

Oh, shit. We're really screwed. (I'd pay serious money for a tape of that phone call. It would make the best ever segment of Crank Yankers.)


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This blog has hit rock bottom...

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