30 September 2005

Neuvo California here I come......

I had to repost the below here..... not sure of it's origins..... but love the cause.

Dear Red States,

We’ve decided we’re leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we’re taking the other Blue States with us. In case you aren’t aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and all the Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New California.

To sum up briefly:

You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states. We get stem cell research and the best beaches.

We get Elliot Spitzer. You get Ken Lay.

We get the Statue of Liberty. You get Dollywood.

We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom.

We get Harvard. You get Ole’ Miss.

We get 85 percent of America’s venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama.

We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition’s, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms.

Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we’re going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they’re apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don’t care if you don’t show pictures of their children’s caskets coming home. We do wish you success in Iraq, and hope that the WMDs turn up, but we’re not willing to spend our resources in Bush’s quagmire.

With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country’s fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation’s fresh fruit, 95 percent of America’s quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners), 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy league schools, Seven Sister schools, plus Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all tele-evangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia and the vast majority of illiterate Americans also known as Arkansas.

We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

Additionally, 38 percent of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless we’re discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of you crazy b*****ds believe you are people with higher morals than we lefties.

Peace out,
Blue States

US Forces 'Out of Control'

US Forces 'Out of Control', Says Reuters Chief ... By Julia Day, The Guardian UK

Reuters has told the US government that American forces' conduct towards journalists in Iraq is "spiralling out of control" and preventing full coverage of the war reaching the public.

The detention and accidental shootings of journalists is limiting how journalists can operate, wrote David Schlesinger, the Reuters global managing editor, in a letter to Senator John Warner, head of the armed services committee.

The Reuters news service chief referred to "a long parade of disturbing incidents whereby professional journalists have been killed, wrongfully detained, and/or illegally abused by US forces in Iraq".

He asked Mr. Warner to demand that Mr. Rumsfeld resolve these issues "in a way that best balances the legitimate security interests of the US forces in Iraq and the equally legitimate rights of journalists in conflict zones under international law".

At least 66 journalists and media workers, most of them Iraqis, have been killed in the country since March 2003.

US forces admitted killing three Reuters journalists, most recently soundman Waleed Khaled, who was shot by American soldiers on August 28 while on assignment in Baghdad. Reuters believes a fourth journalist working for the agency, who died in Ramadi last year, was killed by a US sniper.

'A Serious Chilling Effect on the Media'

"The worsening situation for professional journalists in Iraq directly limits journalists' abilities to do their jobs and, more importantly, creates a serious chilling effect on the media overall," Mr. Schlesinger wrote.

"By limiting the ability of the media to fully and independently cover the events in Iraq, the US forces are unduly preventing US citizens from receiving information ... and undermining the very freedoms the US says it is seeking to foster every day that it commits US lives and US dollars."

Mr. Schlesinger said the US military had refused to conduct independent and transparent investigations into the deaths of the Reuters journalists, relying instead on inquiries by officers from the units responsible, who had exonerated their soldiers.

He noted that the US military had failed to implement recommendations by its own inquiry into the death of award-winning Palestinian cameraman Mazen Dana, who was shot dead while filming outside Abu Ghraib prison in August 2003.

He said that Reuters and other reputable international news organizations were concerned by the "sizeable and rapidly increasing number of journalists detained by US forces".

Earlier this week Reuters demanded the release of a freelance Iraqi cameraman after a secret tribunal ordered that he be detained indefinitely.

Samir Mohammed Noor, a freelance cameraman working for Reuters, was arrested at his home in the northern town of Tal Afar four months ago. The news agency has demanded that he be released or given a chance to defend himself in open court.

The US network CBS has raised concerns over the arrest of its cameraman, Abdul Amir Younes, who was arrested in hospital in April after he was shot by US troops.

Bush Cronyism Weakens Government Agencies

Bush Cronyism Weakens Government Agencies [Bloomberg]

The ranks of political appointees in the US government have surged under President George W. Bush after falling sharply during the Clinton administration, sparking concern - especially since Hurricane Katrina - that career professionals are being crowded out of key jobs.

Federal jobs available to political appointees rose 15 percent to 4,496 last year from 2000, according to the 2004 edition of the "Plum Book," which is published by Congress after each presidential election to list positions up for grabs. Those jobs declined 5 percent during President Bill Clinton's second term, a comparison of the 2000 and 1996 Plum Books shows.

As the Bush administration draws increased scrutiny over the credentials of top-level employees after the hurricane, a review of the record shows the issue goes far beyond the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has borne the brunt of criticism for its fumbling response to the disaster.

"It is quite surprising that Bush turned out to be much more politicizing than Clinton," Sullivan said. "The Bush campaign was built around how they were the governors, not the politicians."

Under Bush, inexperienced political appointees have penetrated deeper into agencies, creating more levels of bureaucracy. The biggest growth has been in jobs that don't require Senate confirmation, which rose by almost one-quarter between 2000 and 2004.

The Bush administration increasingly tends to "drill down into government," making ever-lower-ranking officials political appointees, said Paul Light, a commission adviser and professor of organizational studies at New York University.

That layering "slows information coming up from the bottom, creates vacancies in the chain of command at key points in time and, contrary to their hopes, actually weakens the president's control of government," Light said.

The universe of federal political appointees goes beyond Cabinet secretaries and their deputies and principal assistants. Lower-level "Schedule C" and other appointed jobs pay at the civil service scale and don't need to be confirmed by the Senate. Their numbers grew 24 percent from 2000 to 2004 and are included in the Plum Book, which is formally known as "United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions."

"We could do twice as good a job with half as many appointees," Light said.

Ties to DeLay Ally Raise Ethics Question for New Majority Leader

Ties to DeLay Ally Raise Ethics Question for New Majority Leader... By Mary Curtius, Los Angeles Times

House Republicans struggled Thursday to regain their political balance, one day after House Majority Leader Tom DeLay relinquished his leadership position after being indicted by a grand jury in his home state of Texas.

As he worked to unite the party and turn its attention back to the legislative agenda, Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, DeLay's successor as majority leader, faced ethics questions himself.

Records on file with the Federal Election Commission show that since 2003, Blunt's political action committee has paid $94,000 in salary to the consulting firm of Jim Ellis, a longtime associate of DeLay. Ellis has been indicted in the same case as DeLay, for allegedly conspiring to illegally influence the outcome of Texas legislative elections by channeling corporate money to Republican candidates.

Congressional watchdog groups pointed to Blunt hiring Ellis' firm, JW Ellis Co., as evidence of what they said was an atmosphere of corruption on Capitol Hill.

This week, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) confirmed that he was under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department for a stock sale he ordered this year.

"It doesn't surprise me because an ethical cloud does hang over this Capitol," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco).

Keri Ann Hayes, executive director of Blunt's political action committee, confirmed in an interview that the group still employees Ellis as a political consultant.

Blunt has faced ethical question in the past.

The Washington Post reported in June 2003 that hours after DeLay elevated Blunt to be whip, Blunt tried to insert into a bill creating the Department of Homeland Security a provision that would have benefited Philip Morris USA Inc. Blunt had close ties to the tobacco company, which contributed heavily to his campaign PAC and was at the time dating one of its lobbyists, whom he later married.

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois and DeLay pulled the provision from the bill once it was brought to their attention, the Post reported.

One DeLay ally, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Blunt's employment of Ellis was seen as a gesture of support for a DeLay associate.

The questions about Blunt, however, added to anxiety among Republicans as they headed to their districts for the weekend.

Defensive about how the Bush administration responded to Hurricane Katrina, alarmed by President Bush's slide in public opinion polls, and worried that Democrats would use ethics against them in next year's congressional elections, Republicans saw the political ground slipping. Some spoke of disarray, and of a leadership vacuum triggered by DeLay's abrupt removal from their top ranks.

DeLay's departure, even if temporary, is seen as a blow to Hastert, DeLay's longtime ally. Some Republicans predicted that the more genial Hastert would have trouble controlling his increasingly fractious Republicans without DeLay. The first hint of what may lie ahead came Wednesday, when stiff opposition from conservatives forced him to back off his decision to replace DeLay with Rep. David Dreier (R-San Dimas).

Italy Seeks Former US Diplomat in Kidnapping

Italy Seeks Former US Diplomat in Kidnapping... By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times

The warrant links an imam's abduction to the Rome embassy. A total of 22 people are sought. Rome - Italian authorities have ordered the arrests of a former US Embassy official here and two other people in connection with a "rendition" case in which CIA operatives allegedly kidnapped a radical Muslim cleric from Milan and flew him to Egypt, where, he has said, he was tortured.

The new arrest warrants bring to 22 the number of people sought on suspicion of planning and executing the plot and apparently are the first direct connection to the US Embassy in Rome. US intelligence officials in Washington, though refusing to acknowledge the operation publicly, have sought to portray it as conducted by the spy-world equivalent of contractors.

The warrants were signed by a judge this week in response to a petition from prosecutors Armando Spataro and Ferdinando Pomarici, an Italian judicial official said Thursday.

Italy, however, stunned Washington during the summer by attempting to prosecute 19 people, including a man identified in arrest warrants as the former CIA station chief in Milan, who are alleged to have taken part in the abduction. It is believed to be the first time that an ally has attempted to bring US operatives to justice in such a case.

Italian investigators said their review of telephone traffic among those who abducted the imam in Milan 2 1/2 years ago led them to the former US Embassy employee. She is believed to have made or received a number of calls aimed at coordinating and organizing the abduction and to have participated directly in the operation, according to papers filed in court by prosecutors.

Investigators found evidence that she checked into a Milan hotel 24 days before the kidnapping and traveled with the other suspects to the US-run Aviano Air Base in northern Italy, where Abu Omar was bundled onto a private jet bound for Egypt via the US military's Ramstein Air Base in Germany, Italian prosecutors said.

The prosecutors maintain that the participation of the woman is especially egregious given the diplomatic position she held at the embassy. According to public records, she served in the US Embassy in Rome until this year, when she was transferred to Latin America.

The Italian court file does not identify her as a CIA officer, though previous Italian court documents have said the team of agents worked under the former CIA station chief in Milan.

CIA officers often work overseas as US Embassy officials with the status of diplomats, even though they do not work for the State Department.

The imam's suspected captors appear to have been sloppy, leaving behind copies of their passports and credit card numbers and speaking openly on cell-phones that can be easily tracked by law enforcement officers, which is how Italian authorities identified their suspects and built their case.

The former station chief named was Robert Seldon Lady, who has since retired. Lady, a 51-year-old American born in Honduras, served in the Milan consulate and, by Italian accounts, directed Abu Omar's abduction and transfer to Egypt. His name has been widely reported in connection with this case.

Abu Omar eventually was able to make contact with his wife in Milan, whom he telephoned during a brief period out of prison. He told her he had been tortured and beaten. Italian authorities believe that Lady was present in Egypt at the time.

At last report, Abu Omar remained jailed in Egypt without charge. He has told associates that Egyptian authorities tried to persuade him to spy on Islamic radicals for them, but he refused.

Since retiring, Lady has bought a home near the northern Italian city of Turin. Italian police raided the home in June after the first warrants were executed.

New details emerged in court papers this week about what the inspectors found in the raid. In addition to a surveillance photo of Abu Omar taken a month before his disappearance, police found on Lady's computer hard disk information indicating he traveled to Cairo four days after the abduction last year. He left Cairo on March 7. Investigators also discovered research for determining the best way to travel from Milan to the Aviano base.

U.S. no longer land of opportunity.... but land to be feared.

U.S. Needs to Go Goodwill Hunting

"For what can be heard around the world, in the wake of the invasion of Iraq, the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib, and the controversy over the handling of detainees at Bagram and Guantanamo Bay, is that America is less a beacon of hope than a dangerous force to be countered."

So says a report by a nine-member State Department ad hoc advisory committee, based on travels to the Persian Gulf region, Egypt and Britain.

"This assertion, repeated in newspaper columns, on radio and television broadcasts, and via the Internet, diminishes our ability to champion freedom, democracy and individual dignity," says the report released this week by the Advisory Committee on Cultural Diplomacy.

The committee recommends boosting spending for public diplomacy and training foreign service officers in the use of research, polling and news media. It also urges the streamlining of visa procedures for international students.

What people around the world admire about American culture, the report says, is a sense of freedom found in its arts. But after the Cold War, the U.S. Information Agency was abolished and the U.S. cultural presence abroad reduced.

"The erosion of our trust and credibility within the international community must be reversed if we hope to use more than our military and economic might in the shaping of world opinion," the report says. "Culture matters."

The panel and other academic and official travelers found a "sense of crisis" abroad, the report says. "Put simply, we have lost the goodwill of the world, without which it becomes ever more difficult to execute foreign policy."

Although the committee found "deep and abiding anger toward U.S. policies and actions," the criticism was not leveled across the board. The U.S. system of higher education, science and technology were praised, as were the values of freedom, democracy and individual dignity.

"America is still seen as a place where things can happen, where change is not feared; a land of diversity, openness, candor and generosity," says the report.

WCET Fundraiser: Wicked

I am one of the hosts again this year for what should be a great event at WCET Studios...... Wicked. So don your best costume and join me for this 'fun'draiser:

Saturday, October 29, at CET, as we celebrate creativity, originality and a bit of daring at Wicked... A Party for Individuals who want to Be More!

Wicked, the place to be for fiendish Halloween fun, is an evening full of spooky delights and fun-filled antics where guests can vie for the honor of best original costume, groove to the tunes of The Kevin Fox Band and nibble on countless treats stationed throughout the
CET studios.

The event kicks off at 8:00 p.m. and runs well past the witching hour until 1:00 a.m.!

Tickets are $20.00 and only a limited number are available. Don't wait, make your reservation now using our secure online reservation form... if you dare!

I Care About the Black Folks (by Frank Rich)

Message: I Care About the Black Folks By FRANK RICH

ONCE Toto parts the curtain, the Wizard of Oz can never be the wizard again. He is forever Professor Marvel, blowhard and snake-oil salesman. Hurricane Katrina, which is likely to endure in the American psyche as long as L. Frank Baum's mythic tornado, has similarly unmasked George W. Bush.

The worst storm in our history proved perfect for exposing this president because in one big blast it illuminated all his failings: the rampant cronyism, the empty sloganeering of "compassionate conservatism," the lack of concern for the "underprivileged" his mother condescended to at the Astrodome, the reckless lack of planning for all government operations except tax cuts, the use of spin and photo-ops to camouflage failure and to substitute for action.

In the chaos unleashed by Katrina, these plot strands coalesced into a single tragic epic played out in real time on television. The narrative is just too powerful to be undone now by the administration's desperate recycling of its greatest hits: a return Sunshine Boys tour by the surrogate empathizers Clinton and Bush I, another round of prayers at the Washington National Cathedral, another ludicrously overhyped prime-time address flecked with speechwriters' "poetry" and framed by a picturesque backdrop. Reruns never eclipse a riveting new show.

Nor can the president's acceptance of "responsibility" for the disaster dislodge what came before. Mr. Bush didn't cough up his modified-limited mea culpa until he'd seen his whole administration flash before his eyes. His admission that some of the buck may stop with him (about a dime's worth, in Truman dollars) came two weeks after the levees burst and five years after he promised to usher in a new post-Clinton "culture of responsibility." It came only after the plan to heap all the blame on the indeed blameworthy local Democrats failed to lift Mr. Bush's own record-low poll numbers. It came only after America's highest-rated TV news anchor, Brian Williams, started talking about Katrina the way Walter Cronkite once did about Vietnam.

Taking responsibility, as opposed to paying lip service to doing so, is not in this administration's gene pool. It was particularly shameful that Laura Bush was sent among the storm's dispossessed to try to scapegoat the news media for her husband's ineptitude. When she complained of seeing "a lot of the same footage over and over that isn't necessarily representative of what really happened," the first lady sounded just like Donald Rumsfeld shirking responsibility for the looting of Baghdad. The defense secretary, too, griped about seeing the same picture "over and over" on television (a looter with a vase) to hide the reality that the Pentagon had no plan to secure Iraq, a catastrophic failure being paid for in Iraqi and American blood to this day.

This White House doesn't hate all pictures, of course. It loves those by Karl Rove's Imagineers, from the spectacularly lighted Statue of Liberty backdrop of Mr. Bush's first 9/11 anniversary speech to his "Top Gun" stunt to Thursday's laughably stagy stride across the lawn to his lectern in Jackson Square. (Message: I am a leader, not that vacationing slacker who first surveyed the hurricane damage from my presidential jet.)

The most odious image-mongering, however, has been Mr. Bush's repeated deployment of African-Americans as dress extras to advertise his "compassion." In 2000, the Republican convention filled the stage with break dancers and gospel singers, trying to dispel the memory of Mr. Bush's craven appearance at Bob Jones University when it forbade interracial dating. (The few blacks in the convention hall itself were positioned near celebrities so they'd show up in TV shots.) In 2004, the Bush-Cheney campaign Web site had a page titled "Compassion" devoted mainly to photos of the president with black people, Colin Powell included.

Some of these poses are re-enacted in the "Hurricane Relief" photo gallery currently on display on the White House Web site. But this time the old magic isn't working. The "compassion" photos are outweighed by the cinéma vérité of poor people screaming for their lives. The government effort to keep body recovery efforts in New Orleans as invisible as the coffins from Iraq was abandoned when challenged in court by CNN.

continue reading full article in the NYTimes... below is excerpted:

Like his father before him, Mr. Bush has squandered the huge store of political capital he won in a war. His Thursday-night invocation of "armies of compassion" will prove as worthless as the "thousand points of light" that the first President Bush bestowed upon the poor from on high in New Orleans (at the Superdome, during the 1988 G.O.P. convention). It will be up to other Republicans in Washington to cut through the empty words and image-mongering to demand effective action from Mr. Bush on the Gulf Coast and in Iraq, if only because their own political lives are at stake. It's up to Democrats, though they show scant signs of realizing it, to step into the vacuum and propose an alternative to a fiscally disastrous conservatism that prizes pork over compassion. If the era of Great Society big government is over, the era of big government for special interests is proving a fiasco. Especially when it's presided over by a self-styled C.E.O. with a consistent three-decade record of running private and public enterprises alike into a ditch.

What comes next? Having turned the page on Mr. Bush, the country hungers for a vision that is something other than either liberal boilerplate or Rovian stagecraft. At this point, merely plain old competence, integrity and heart might do.

29 September 2005

The Governator makes history, the wrong kind.

Today Governor Schwarzenegger made the wrong choice for California - and the nation - by vetoing the Civil Marriage and Religious Freedom Protection Act which had been passed by the California legislature. Schwarzenegger has come down on the wrong side of history and made an ideological choice instead of a rational, governing choice. This was a gross act of cowardice.

Around the country, California is known as a trendsetter and the Golden State could have set the trend for guaranteeing basic civil rights and equality to all in society. Instead, Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed that plan.

As Phil Angelides said today in denouncing Schwarzenegger's decision:

"By vetoing the Civil Marriage and Religious Freedom Protection Act, Governor Schwarzenegger has come down on the wrong side of history. [He] had the chance to enter the pages of history with the likes of Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson; instead he has chosen to be listed alongside George Wallace and Strom Thurmond."

In the 1940s, California was the first state to lift its ban on interracial marriage - leading other states across the nation to lift theirs as well.

This time, California could have been in the same leadership role - providing an example for states across the country to expand equal rights to all their citizens, too.

28 September 2005

Bush's house of cards further unravels.... Brown gets grilled by Senate

Downgrades for Brown's Topical Storm
By Dana Milbank [Washington Post]

The House Select Committee on Hurricane Katrina did a heck of a job on Brownie yesterday.

Rep. Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican, called Brown's account of events "feeble," "clueless," "shocking" and "beyond belief." Said Shays: "I'm happy you left, because that kind of . . . look in the lights like a deer tells me that you weren't capable to do the job."

Rep. Kay Granger, a Texas Republican, told Brown: "I don't know how you can sleep at night. You lost the battle."

Rep. Gene Taylor, one of two Democrats, said Brown was in way over his head. "You folks fell on your face. You get an F-minus in my book," he attested. The Mississippian added: "Maybe the president made a very good move when he asked you to leave your job."

Chairman Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) offered Brown no help, giving members unlimited time to abuse the witness and adding his own barbs. When Brown argued that the White House "was fully engaged . . . behind the scenes," Davis interjected: "They had to be behind the scenes, because I think we didn't see anything out front."

Brown displayed the command of facts that made him famous over the past month. He did not know how much FEMA had spent on communications, guessing, "a boatload of money." He had to ask members of his entourage how many MREs were in a trailer load. "I don't have a clue how many [people] were truly in the Superdome," he volunteered at one point. Asked whether he is still a federal employee, Brown said: "You know, I don't know." (He is.)

With 12 Republicans and no Democrats on the dais when the hearing opened, Brown started by blaming the media and Louisiana's Democratic officials. "I do believe there are a couple of specific mistakes that I made," he said. "I failed initially to set up a series of regular briefings to the media," he lamented. And his "biggest mistake," he said, "was not recognizing . . . that Louisiana was dysfunctional."

"I do not want to make this partisan," he said, proceeding to do just that, "so I can't help it that Alabama and Mississippi are governed by Republican governors and Louisiana is governed by a Democratic governor."

Pointing his finger, pounding the table, Brown veered from his prepared testimony to insist: "I get it" and "I know what it's all about," and "I know what I am doing" and "I do a pretty darn good job." This display produced gasps and chuckles in the gallery.

Brown did nothing to win over his questioners. Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.) had to repeat a question because Brown was reading his BlackBerry. Shays had to repeat one because Brown was engrossed in his notes. When Shays pressed him about his performance, a petulant Brown complained: "So I guess you want me to be this superhero."

One hour and 36 minutes passed before Brown acknowledged that "FEMA has a logistics problem." Gradually, Brown's admissions grew more damaging.

Money for "catastrophic planning" for a New Orleans hurricane "was removed by the Department of Homeland Security," he said. Brown said he should have asked for President Bush's help earlier, and should have urged the military to come in sooner. He said it was a mistake that FEMA had no contingency contract for recovering dead bodies.

Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-Tex.) elicited the biggest confession. "One of my frustrations over the past three years has been the emaciation of FEMA," Brown told him. Speaking of dwindling funds and a "brain drain," Brown said he struggled just "to keep that place together" and asserted that he "predicted privately for several years that we were going to reach this point."

As the questioning progressed, Brown turned his fury on the administration. "I probably should have just resigned my post earlier and gone public with some of these things," he told Granger.

Yesterday, he might have been better off to keep some things private -- as when Jefferson complained about the lack of ice in New Orleans and Brown replied: "I think it's wrong for the federal government to be in the ice business, providing ice so I can keep my beer and Diet Coke cool."

Taylor, incredulous, asked, "How about the need to keep bodies from rotting in the sun?"

Jefferson added: "One of the major reasons that old people just suffered and died is because there was no ice."

Brown, losing control, demanded four times that Taylor not "lecture" him.

But the lecturing continued -- in a way even Pelosi would have approved. "I have come to the conclusion that this administration values loyalty more than anything else," Shays said, "more than competence or, frankly, more than the truth. And you have reinforced that view. . . . I'm left with the feeling [that] the administration feels they have to protect you."

"Well," Brown answered, "you should come over here and sit in this chair and see how protected you feel."

This is quite unbelievable and the American public is stilling paying for this joke to be on the payroll. FIRE BROWN NOW!!! What do we need to get this done? We have mass public outrage. Senate and House outrage. The only ones NOT outraged are the Bush cronies trying to protect their own jobs.

Tom Delay, house majority leader indicted


House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was indicted today on one count of criminal conspiracy by Texas grand jury, according to Travis County clerk's office.

Are we finally beginning to see the pendulum swing back in Washington from this gross power grab at all costs? We wait and see if justice is done and a balance of power begins to take hold anew in our country.

Lastly, why hasn't the Republican leadership demanded he step down as Leader? What does he have on them do you think in his dirty bag of tricks?

And why is Karen Hughes in this job again???

As Karen Hughes, the US soccor mom, made her first trip to the Arab world to mend US image and relations there, she was met by a chilling response.

The response on Tuesday was not what she and her aides expected. When Ms. Hughes expressed the hope here that Saudi women would be able to drive and "fully participate in society" much as they do in her country, many challenged her.

"The general image of the Arab woman is that she isn't happy," one audience member said. "Well, we're all pretty happy." The room, full of students, faculty members and some professionals, resounded with applause.

The administration's efforts to publicize American ideals in the Muslim world have often run into such resistance. For that reason, Ms. Hughes, who is considered one of the administration's most scripted and careful members, was hired specifically for the task.

Many in this region say they resent the American assumption that, given the chance, everyone would live like Americans.

So explain why we sent someone with no experience or education or understanding in Arab affairs, history, or culture to try and sell Muslims on the virture of America? Was everyone else busy? Are there no Middle Eastern studies scholars available to take on the task?

An icey day in Atlanta

Hostage that read the scripture to her captor and finally got him to surrender.... used a little more than god. She gave him Crystal Meth from her stash...... a highly toxic illegal drug.

Ashley Smith, who was held hostage in her apartment in March by the man now charged with murder in the Atlanta courthouse shootings, was hailed as a hero after she disclosed how she had persuaded her captor to surrender, partly by reading to him from the spiritual best seller "The Purpose-Driven Life."

But in a memoir released yesterday, Ms. Smith also recounts that she gave the kidnapper some of her supply of crystal methamphetamine during her captivity.

Ms. Smith says that at the time, she was fighting an addiction to crystal methamphetamine that had previously led her to spend time in a psychiatric hospital and to lose custody of her 5-year-old daughter.

"Suddenly, looking down at my drug pouch," she says, "I realized that I would rather have died in my apartment than have done those drugs with Brian Nichols. If the cops were going to bust in here and find me dead, they were not going to find drugs in me when they did the autopsy. I was not going to die tonight and stand before God, having done a bunch of ice up my nose."

US Army Captain concerned about lack of clear standards for War

Mr. Flanigan's Answers

A letter was published that a U.S. Army captain sent to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), expressing his frustration at the absence of clear standards governing how the military should treat detainees. In the letter, Capt. Ian Fishback expresses his view, based on service in Iraq and Afghanistan, that this "confusion contributed to a wide range of abuses including death threats, beatings, broken bones, murder, exposure to elements, extreme forced physical exertion, hostage-taking, stripping, sleep deprivation and degrading treatment."

How can it be that an officer of the United States armed services, concerned about detainee mistreatment that he has personally witnessed, could struggle in vain for 17 months to learn the standards of humane treatment the military is applying? The answer to this question appears starkly in the written responses to questions from senators by Timothy E. Flanigan, President Bush's nominee to serve as deputy attorney general: The Bush administration has no standards for humane treatment of detainees. Capt. Fishback is looking for something that doesn't exist.

Mr. Flanigan was Alberto R. Gonzales's deputy when the attorney general served as White House counsel during Mr. Bush's first term, and he was therefore deeply involved in forming policy on matters related to detainees. Like Mr. Gonzales, he has piously repeated the administration's insistence that it does not engage in torture. Yet, also following the administration's disgraceful line, he has refused to say that conduct just short of torture -- which is banned by treaty and is a stain on American honor -- is either illegal or improper when inflicted on foreigners overseas.

Mr. Bush has promised that all detainees will be treated humanely. Yet, when asked how he would define humane treatment, Mr. Flanigan declared that he does "not believe that the term 'inhumane' treatment is susceptible to a succinct definition." Did the White House provide any guidance as to its meaning? "I am not aware of any guidance provided by the White House specifically related to the meaning of humane treatment."

Mr. Flanigan could not even bring himself to declare particularly barbaric interrogation tactics either legally or morally off-limits. Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) asked him about "waterboarding," mock executions, physical beatings and painful stress positions. Mr. Flanigan responded: "Whether a particular interrogation technique is lawful depends on the facts and circumstances," and without knowing these, "it would be inappropriate for me to speculate about the legality of the techniques you describe." And he reiterated that "inhumane" can't be coherently defined.

All of which is to say that anything short of outright torture goes -- or, at least, that nothing is absolutely forbidden. The Senate Judiciary Committee is likely to report Mr. Flanigan's nomination to the floor as early as tomorrow. Having only recently confirmed Mr. Gonzales despite his similar refusal to be pinned down, the committee isn't likely to draw the line at Mr. Flanigan. Still, it is an odious thing that the top two law enforcement officers of the United States will both be people who resort to evasive legalisms in response to simple questions about uncivilized conduct. Capt. Fishback should not have to be pleading with senators, as he is now doing, to give "clear standards of conduct that reflect the ideals [soldiers] risk their lives for."

27 September 2005

Bushism of the day..... [Slate]

Bushism of the Day

"If it were to rain a lot, there is concern from the Army Corps of Engineers that the levees might break. And so, therefore, we're cautious about encouraging people to return at this moment of history."—Washington, D.C., Sept. 19, 2005

From Corruption to Conspiracy... Abramoff again.

Demotion of a Prosecutor Is Investigated...

The Justice Department's inspector general and the F.B.I. are looking into the demotion of a veteran federal prosecutor whose reassignment nearly three years ago shut down a criminal investigation of the Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The lobbyist is a major Republican Party fund-raiser and a close friend of several Congressional leaders.

Colleagues said the demotion of Mr. Black, the acting United States attorney in Guam, and a subsequent order barring him from pursuing public corruption cases brought an end to his inquiry into Mr. Abramoff's lobbying work for some Guam judges.

Colleagues of Mr. Black said F.B.I. agents questioned several people in Guam and Washington this summer about whether Mr. Abramoff and his friends in the Bush administration had pushed for Mr. Black's removal. Mr. Abramoff's internal e-mail messages show that he boasted to clients about as his close ties to John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, and others at the department.

Mr. Black's colleagues said that similar questions had been raised by investigators for the Justice Department's inspector general's office, which serves as the department's internal watchdog.

A spokesman for Mr. Abramoff said he had "no recollection of being investigated in Guam in 2002" but would have cooperated if he had been aware of any inquiry at the time. Mr. Abramoff had a lucrative lobbying practice on Guam and the neighboring Northern Mariana Islands, another American territory; his lobbying clients paid for luxurious trips to the islands for several members of Congress.

The demotion came only days after Mr. Black had notified the department's public integrity division in Washington, by telephone and e-mail communication, that he had opened a criminal investigation into Mr. Abramoff's lobbying activities for the Guam judges, the colleague said.

The colleagues said that Mr. Black was also surprised when his newly arrived bosses in Guam blocked him from involvement in public corruption cases in 2003. "Whatever the motivation in replacing Fred, his demotion meant that the investigation of Abramoff died," said a former colleague in Guam.

Representative George Miller, a California Democrat who has long focused on issues involving American territories in the Pacific, said the disclosures about Mr. Black's demotion raised questions about a possible conflict of interest at the Justice Department in its investigation of Mr. Abramoff. "What this starts to suggest is that Abramoff's ability to corrupt the system was far more pervasive, certainly than we knew at the time," Mr. Miller said.

26 September 2005

Favoritism running rampant.....

Many Contracts for Storm Work Raise Questions

Topping the federal government's list of costs related to Hurricane Katrina is the $568 million in contracts for debris removal landed by a Florida company with ties to Mississippi's Republican governor. More than 80 percent of the $1.5 billion in contracts signed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency alone were awarded without bidding or with limited competition, government records show, provoking concerns among auditors and government officials about the potential for favoritism or abuse.

Once again the Vatican puts out a fire with gasoline.... instead of looking at the real issues.

Admirers of Fallen 9/11 Hero Disdain the Vatican's Likely Plan to Bar Gays as Priests. By ANDY NEWMAN

The Rev. Mychal F. Judge, the Fire Department chaplain who died in the rubble of 9/11, was, and still is, one of the most widely loved Roman Catholic priests in New York City's recent history.

For 40 years, Father Judge tirelessly ministered to firefighters, their grieving widows, AIDS patients, homeless people, Flight 800 victims' families and countless others. At his funeral, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani called him a saint, a sentiment that admirers have followed up by campaigning for his canonization. A simple prayer that Father Judge wrote has been circulated around the world and attached to thousands of donations to the needy. Pope John Paul II accepted the gift of his helmet.

Father Judge was also a homosexual. A celibate homosexual, he told friends, but a homosexual nonetheless. And reports last week that the Vatican is likely to try to bar gay men, even celibate ones, from the priesthood stirred anger among those who revere his memory.

The former city fire commissioner Thomas Von Essen, a close friend of Father Judge's, said Thursday that excluding men of his caliber from the priesthood would be simply "a shame."

Mr. Von Essen, a married, practicing Catholic who said that Father Judge came out to him years before his death, added, "To sacrifice your life to God and try to do so much good every day and to be prevented from doing that - it's no wonder they can't get anyone to join the church to become a priest or a nun."

On Thursday, Andrew Sullivan posted on his Web site an oft-reprinted photograph of Father Judge's limp body being carried off by firefighters on 9/11 minutes after he had given last rites to one of their own.

Mr. Sullivan said on Friday that Father Judge's work with the Fire Department mocked the assertion, made by a Catholic official who described the expected new rule, that even celibate gays should not enter the seminary because the temptations arising from being surrounded by men there would be too strong.

"The idea that gay priests somehow cannot serve straight congregants, when you have this priest working with one of the most stereotypically macho organizations - and he gave his life to them - captures some of the cruelty and bigotry we see in the Vatican now," Mr. Sullivan said in a telephone interview.

Father Judge, a gregarious, sandal-shod Franciscan friar who was 68 when he died, was a longtime member of a gay Catholic group, Dignity, and he often spoke up for gay rights.

A man who posted to saintmychal .com, a Web site promoting Father Judge's canonization, said he did not see why anyone would care, either. The man, Ralph W. Vogel, attended Masses that Father Judge offered in the 1990's for gay and lesbian Catholics in a Unitarian church on Staten Island. "I don't know anything personally about his sexual orientation, and it's not really important to me other than 'Wow, he was there,' " said Mr. Vogel, a director of volunteer services at Ronald McDonald House.

In fact, some prominent conservative Catholic commentators said on Friday that the church should not concern itself with the sexual orientation of candidates for the priesthood who honor their vows of celibacy.

"I don't really care, and I don't think most Catholics care if a priest is gay", said William Donohue, the president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and a fierce critic of what he has called declining moral standards.

Mr. Donohue said that the while the Vatican did need to address the sexual abuses committed by priests and damage they have done to the church, "the answer to the problem is not all of a sudden to roll out of bed and have this universal prohibition."

The founder of the saintmychal Web site, Burt Kearns, suggested that Father Judge himself could help repair the church's public image.

"If you look at the work and life of Mychal Judge, this is a man who should be on the recruiting poster for Catholic priests," Mr. Kearns said. "He was a great priest."

23 September 2005

Corruption: Republican Style

All of the same names just appearing and reappearing: Abramoff, Delay, Rove, Tyco, et al.

These guys have put together a nice little boys club by which they can rape America. Here's the latest to come down the pipeline in an ongoing investigation of Abramoff and his 'lobbying' on behalf of Tyco, Inc. Remember, their CEO and CFO were just sentenced to time in a NY State Prison for corruption, fraud, etc. Poor boys, they got caught.

Timothy Flanigan, general counsel for Tyco, just revealed in a statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Abramoff was signed on by Tyco to help kill offshore tax havens for US companies. Abramoff bragged that he had direct access to the White House and Congress.... specifically to Karl Rove and Tom Delay. Later, Abramoff said he had personally been working with Rove ont the issue to help maintain illegal offshore havens. Don't forget that Abramoff's partner in crime used to be Delay's boy.

Of course, in Rove style, his spokeswoman said Karl "has no recollection" of being contacted by Abramoff about Tyco's concerns. Of course you don't Karl.... just like you don't recall the Plame issue either until records were revealed to the contrary. Oops. I forgot.

Abramoff's firm, Greenberg Traurig, promoted him as "Tyco's savior on the tax issue", according to Flanigan's statement and others familiar with the process.

Tyco -- whose executive was on trial and brought the offshore funneling of profits to light -- was worried that the Bush administration might embrace legislation promoted by Democrats that would impose higher taxes on US based companies that had moved their profit center offshore to cut their tax bills (nothing more than a mailing address). The legislation was motivated by popular anger over such offshore moves, and carried the additional penalty of barring such firms from receiving federal contracts. After all, why pay taxes when the money could better be used to throw multi million birthday parties for your wife or build beach homes for execs.

And, again, mere coincidence I am sure..... Rove's personal assistant, Susan Ralston, formerly worked as Abramoff's secretary. What better way to keep your shady dealings under wraps than to keep everyone in house (and indicted). And, you wonder why Bush keeps promoting college buddies. The further you spread your wings the more damage can be done by those that have ethics (think whistleblower).

The Bush administration was not happy about the tax penalty, but both the House and Senate approved language denying federal contracts to companies largely based in the United States but incorporated in tax havens. Tyco was among a large contingent of companies, including Ingersoll-Rand and Noble Corp., that hired an army of lobbyists to stall the legislation and ultimately kill most of it. But they made it appear as if they passed something that halted corporate corruption.... after all, the American people would not really notice either way. Right?

Abramoff's firm had promised to repay three-quarters of a $2 million fee that Tyco paid to kill this legislation to a firm called Grassroots Interactive.

The fee was supposed to finance a letter-writing campaign by Tyco suppliers against the offshore tax bill, but it has been concluded that $1.5 million of it was "diverted to personal entities controlled by Mr. Abramoff" and misspent, according to Flanigan's statement.

And, now we begin to realize why our country is having such problems in this century. That old boys club has regained power with a vengeance and they plan on using it before anyone catches up to them.

22 September 2005

President Bush Sells Louisiana Back to the French

President Bush Sells Louisiana Back to the French

President Bush and a giddy Jacques Chirac shake hands on the deal.

BATON ROUGE, LA. - The White House announced today that President Bush has successfully sold the state of Louisiana back to the French at more than double its original selling price of $11,250,000.

"This is a bold step forward for America," said Bush. "And America will be stronger and better as a result. I stand here today in unity with French Prime Minister Jack Sharaq, who was so kind to accept my offer of Louisiana in exchange for 25 million dollars cash."

The state, ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, will cost hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild.

"Jack understands full well that this one's a 'fixer upper,'" said Bush. "He and the French people are quite prepared to pump out all that water, and make Louisiana a decent place to live again. And they've got a lot of work to do. But Jack's assured me, if it's not right, they're going to fix it."

The move has been met with incredulity from the beleaguered residents of Louisiana.

"Shuba-pie!" said New Orleans resident Willis Babineaux. "Frafer-perly yum kom drabby sham!"

However, President Bush's decision has been widely lauded by Republicans.

"This is an unexpected but brilliant move by the President," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. "Instead of spending billions and billions, and billions of dollars rebuilding the state of Louisiana, we've just made 25 million dollars in pure profit."

"This is indeed a smart move," commented Fox News analyst Brit Hume. "Not only have we stopped the flooding in our own budget, we've made money on the deal. Plus, when the god-awful French are done fixing it up, we can easily invade and take it back again."

The money gained from 'T'he Louisiana Refund' is expected to be immediately pumped into the rebuilding of Iraq, says Bush supporter Ann Coulter.

21 September 2005

Gas price gouging, Governors want answers

The governors of eight states sent a letter on Tuesday to President Bush and Congress calling for an investigation into profits made by oil companies after Hurricane Katrina and asking for legislation that would require the companies to refund to customers any profits deemed excess.

"When the wholesale price of gas went up by 60 cents almost overnight, oil companies were obviously using the most devastating natural disaster in our nation's history to reap a windfall at the expense of American consumers," said the letter, which was initiated by Gov. James E. Doyle of Wisconsin and was signed by governors from Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington.

"To price-gouge consumers under normal circumstances is dishonest enough," the letter stated, "but to make money off the severe misfortune of others is downright immoral."

Independent Counsel

One just sits and wonders that if the Bush administration and it's cronies had to worry about oversight by an office of Independent Counsel... how much corruption, pandering, and unethical behavior would be uncovered. I have a feeling that the iceburg runs quite deep.

Time to find our own Kenneth Starr to hound this administration.

So far the Bushies control almost every facet of our Federal Government with little to no oversight into their dealings. Our government is now their own private playground to spend and reap the wealth at will.

The blatant nature of their arrogance has, I fear, changed our government forever.

20 September 2005

Whistle blower warned the administration a year ago about Brown

A disturbing view from inside FEMA...Worker: Decision-makers lack disaster experience

As Hurricane Katrina bore down on the Gulf Coast three weeks ago, veteran workers at the Federal Emergency Management Agency braced for an epic disaster.

But their bosses, political appointees with almost no emergency management experience, didn't seem to share the sense of urgency, a FEMA veteran said.

"We told these fellows that there was a killer hurricane heading right toward New Orleans," Leo Bosner, a 26-year FEMA employee and union leader told CNN. "We had done our job, but they didn't do theirs."

Bosner's storm warning came three days before Hurricane Katrina came ashore in eastern Louisiana.

"New Orleans is of particular concern because much of that city lies below sea level," he warned in his daily alert to Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff, then-FEMA chief Michael Brown and other Bush administration officials in the White House, but on one paid attention.

"If the hurricane winds blow from a certain direction, there are dire predictions of what may happen in the city," it said.

The agency's failure is a tragic element of the Hurricane Katrina story. But, according to Bosner, FEMA's troubles came as no surprise after its role and stature shifted when federal agencies were reshuffled in response to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

A longtime union leader, Bosner has been a whistle-blower before.

A year ago he raised concerns that Brown was in over his head.

"I have nothing personal against Mike Brown," Bosner told CNN. "I feel badly about the guy. But he took a job he was never trained for. The man was a lawyer."

FEMA, formerly an independent agency led by a Cabinet-level official, was among the 22 federal agencies shuffled into the Department of Homeland Security. Brown was an undersecretary who answered to the secretary of Homeland Security.

Chertoff and Brown both have legal backgrounds but no emergency management experience.

Brown came to work for FEMA in 2001 as legal counsel to his college friend, then-FEMA director Joe Allbaugh, who was Bush's 2000 campaign manager. Brown assumed the top job when Allbaugh left FEMA in 2003.

Chertoff worked from home the day Bosner first warned of the hurricane's catastrophic potential for New Orleans, CNN's Tom Foreman reported. Chertoff also has been criticized for writing a memo the day after Katrina struck, delegating authority to Brown and deferring to the White House rather than taking charge.

Committees in the House and Senate are looking into FEMA and the government's flawed response, and officials are clamoring for reform. Former President Bill Clinton, who revamped FEMA during his administration, is among them.

Clinton, and a national group of state disaster officials, say anyone who heads FEMA should be required to have emergency management credentials. Clinton added that the FEMA chief should also answer to the president.

Bosner wrote a memo in 1992 that raised red flags about FEMA and helped lead to excellent reform during the Clinton administration.

"FEMA's biggest problem is that too few people at the top in the agency are trained to help in emergencies," he wrote. "We have good soldiers but crummy generals."

For the rest of the 1990s, FEMA greatly improved under Clinton, Bosner said. But since 2001 the agency has again become demoralized and experienced disaster experts have left en masse.

Pope's envoy shameful of US.

Pope's Katrina envoy: 'Shameful' poverty in U.S.

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI's envoy to the United States to bring aid for Hurricane Katrina's victims said Saturday that many of them have been struck by "shameful" poverty in "rich America."

The German-born Archbishop Paul Cordes, who heads the Vatican's charity organization, traveled to Louisiana and Mississippi last week to express the pontiff's solidarity with the victims as well as bring aid.

He said that Catholic Charities had allocated $6 million (euro4.9 million).

"Many were struck by ... poverty, at times shameful, in rich America," Cordes told Vatican Radio.

"I do not want to hide my personal fear -- that the superpower isolates itself and remains isolated even in dealing with the disaster," Cordes said. "In this dramatic emergency, the United States must not be abandoned."

Cordes spent four days touring Baton Rouge and New Orleans in Louisiana, and Biloxi, Mississippi.

"The weakness experienced by the United States faced with this catastrophe" serves to "destroy all of our beliefs about self-sufficiency," the Vatican official said. "Thus, for me, in the bad part of this event there is also the hope, for many citizens, of seeing that the world is greater than the United States," Cordes said.

Evacuation plan was supposed to be in place by FEMA, oops.

Money for evacuation plan went elsewhere...FEMA twice failed to give Congress plan to evacuate New Orleans

Congress ordered the FEMA to develop a plan for evacuating New Orleans during a severe hurricane, but the money instead went to study a causeway bridge that spans nearby Lake Pontchartrain, officials say.

The outcome provides one more example of the government's failure to prepare for a massive but foreseeable catastrophe, said the lawmaker who helped secure the money for FEMA to develop the evacuation plan.

"They never used it for the intended purpose," said former Rep. Billy Tauzin, a Louisiana Republican. "The whole intent was to give them resources so they could plan an evacuation of New Orleans that anticipated that a very large number of people would never leave."

In Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, attention has focused on the inability of local and federal officials to evacuate or prepare for the large number of poor people who had no access to transportation and remained behind.

That possibility was one of the concerns that led Congress to set aside $500,000 for FEMA to create "a comprehensive analysis and plan of all evacuation alternatives for the New Orleans metropolitan area."

Frustrated two years later that no study had materialized, Congress strengthened its directive. This time it ordered "an evacuation plan for a Category 3 or greater storm, a levee break, flood or other natural disaster for the New Orleans area."

The $500,000 that Congress appropriated for the evacuation plan went to a commission that studied future options for the 24-mile bridge over Lake Pontchartrain, FEMA spokesman Butch Kinerney said.

Sen. Billy Tauzin (LA) said he could never find out where all the money went. "They gave it to the causeway commission? That's wacky," he said.

Asked about any FEMA-funded plan, Mark Smith, spokesman for the state Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said, "To the best of our knowledge we can find no information on this."

FEMA's parent agency, the Homeland Security Department, did provide $75,000 to print 1 million evacuation maps that were distributed this year for the state's updated transportation evacuation blueprint, state transportation spokesman Mark Lambert said.

Federal government is just not doing it's job.

FEMA's Woes Were Merely the Beginning

The federal government's efforts to help victims of Hurricane Katrina have been hobbled by inadequate planning and coordination, troubled computer systems and confusion over who will pay the costs.

Interviews with federal officials indicate that recovery difficulties have gone beyond the Federal Emergency Management Agency and span key agencies in Washington, where top officials are trying to respond to a huge reconstruction problem for which they had no policies or plans. Large contracts are pouring out of agencies.

Among the danger signals, cited by FEMA and other government officials in interviews:

• Months ago, the Small Business Administration created a data processing system that was meant to revolutionize its delivery of disaster loans. But the system has stumbled badly because there haven't been enough new computers or staff trained to use them, and the central computers have been strained by the workload.

• Officials at the Department of Education are only now beginning to address questions over who will pay what costs for educating tens of thousands of schoolchildren displaced by Katrina. Meanwhile, school districts inundated with evacuees have had to open shuttered schools and order portable classrooms.

• Federal officials responsible for programs designed to help the poor are tangled in questions about rules that vary from state to state. Families that received welfare in Louisiana, for instance, may not be entitled to payments in Texas, where they have been resettled. And almost everywhere, funds for programs such as Head Start were stretched thin before Katrina hit.

• FEMA has continued to stumble, leaving tractor-trailers packed with ice and water intended for evacuees sitting out of position for days or sending them to places that had no need. And the agency's rushed efforts to deliver evacuee housing points up a lack of foresight and planning that could have long-term ramifications.

"This is an extraordinary time in our history," said Mississippi State Supt. of Education Hank M. Bounds. "It will take an extraordinary effort from our leadership. I hope they will grasp the magnitude of the issue."

Frustration is evident in a message by a middle-level FEMA official, who sent a plaintive cry for help up the chain of command, along with this warning:

"We have now told the state of Texas (and thus all the states) that it may directly pay for evacuees in hotels. For how long? For how much? Does this include food?" his Sept. 7 memo asked. "What I heard was Texas being given carte blanche to run this new program as it sees fit solely on its statement 'We have controls.' Do we know what these controls are?

"We are going down the path here of no federal accountability for huge sums of money," the official warned.

About a week after Katrina's hammer blow to the Gulf Coast, Congress reacted with a $62.3-billion emergency spending bill. The bulk of the money went to FEMA to establish its Disaster Relief Fund, which is to pay for housing assistance; projects by other agencies; property clean-up; and work on roads, bridges and water facilities.

Although the lion's share is going to individuals and housing assistance, agencies including the Army Corps of Engineers and the departments of Defense, Transportation, and Health and Human Services have been allotted $11 billion.

About $23 billion is earmarked for housing and individual assistance, which is distributed by the Small Business Administration's Office of Disaster Assistance.

The agency's new Disaster Credit Management System was intended to revolutionize the handling of disaster relief loans covering uninsured losses and to cut loan processing times from weeks to days. Instead, the new computer system was quickly swamped. Managers scrambled to order new equipment for field inspectors and to reconfigure the central office computers.

"We've been pressed into action pretty hard," said project director Michael Sorrento, who acknowledged that processing Katrina loans may take longer than the agency had envisioned.

The Small Business Administration is expecting to receive more than 1 million applications for loans. There weren't nearly enough portable units for loan inspectors in the field, and fewer than 100 inspectors had been trained in the new system when Katrina hit.

The agency has had to order extra computers and hire nearly 500 more inspectors, some of whom don't yet have portable computers.

And those who have made it out into the field have discovered that they can't always link up from the disaster area to handle new loan applications and file reports on existing ones.

Assistance programs for the poor that existed before Katrina struck have also faltered. For those seeking welfare payments, administered through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, results depend on the state the evacuee is staying in.

Some states, including Texas, are using a restrictive interpretation of the rules to deny welfare payments to families that received support in their home states.

Head Start and child-care programs also face problems. Texas already had 29,000 preschoolers on its Head Start waiting list, and now applications are pouring in from evacuees whose children participated in the program in Louisiana.

"How are they going to be able to take care of the evacuees when they can't take care of their own people?" asked Helen Blank of the National Women's Law Center.

The programs, which depend on annual appropriations from Congress, have received none in the supplemental budgets enacted so far. Head Start was able to release $15 million from an emergency fund to temporarily take care of its most pressing needs. But that money will last only a month, and federal child-care support, which has received no funding increase in four years, did not have even that.

"Child-care programs operate on the edge in the best of times," Blank said.

The hurricane dislodged at least 372,000 children from Gulf Coast schools, according to the Department of Education, and though the hardest blow has fallen on Louisiana and Mississippi, school districts accepting evacuees are also struggling. For example, Texas, which is taking in 60,000 students, estimates it must spend $7,500 per pupil for additional classroom space, desks, textbooks, teachers and supplies.

On Friday, after weeks of suggesting that little or no federal money would be forthcoming, the Education Department announced it would seek $1.9 billion to help meet such expenses.

The department also indicated that it might relax provisions of the federal law known as No Child Left Behind, which mandates that states meet certain reading and math standards or risk losing federal funds.

Mississippi Supt. Bounds, who now oversees 226 closed schools, 30 destroyed schools and more than 125,000 displaced children, had requested that those requirements be suspended for his state this year.

"Frankly, instruction is not the primary mission right now," Bounds said in an interview. "We want to continue to accelerate learning, but right now we just have to take care of our children, and testing is a long way from my priority right now."

On Sept. 8, officials in Congress estimated that about 450,000 families would need long-term housing. And that day, FEMA began contracting firms to help set up temporary housing facilities across Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.

FEMA spokesman James McIntyre, speaking from Baton Rouge, La., said some firms had received $100-million contracts to prepare sites and housing for about 200,000 evacuees.

But Joshua Schwartz, a professor at George Washington University who specializes in government procurement, sees the rushed bidding process as yet another sign of disarray and a lack of preparation.

I think we have learned one hard lesson from all of this and hopefully the Republicans are paying attention. This is why we actually NEED a strong and working central government. The idea of government as bad as an ideology is absurb, misplaced, and dangerous.

A new system is badly needed...

If there is one thing we have learned with the mess in Iraq and the aftermath of Katrina. Experience counts and political payback doesn't.

Long before Michael D. Brown became the poster boy for the overwhelmed and lightly qualified political appointee in Washington, there have been many others that have not lived up to their office.

Administrations of both political parties have long track records of appointing cronies who are out of their depth to key executive branch positions, only to see them disappoint or fail, sometimes spectacularly. What we have seen in the current administration takes this concept to unbelievable new heights in mismanagment.

"You try to help the hands that helped you," said Paul C. Light, a government professor at New York University.

The practice is especially common in the naming of U.S. ambassadors, many of whom earned their posts on the strength of their fundraising prowess. What may be different now, one veteran diplomat said, is that President Bush is putting these people in some key countries, such as Germany and Japan, instead of smaller, less-signifant European and Caribbean postings.

And so it was that in 2001, Bush nominated as ambassador to France, Howard H. Leach, a San Francisco financier who raised $100,000 for Bush's presidential bid but did not speak French. (The French noticed.)

There was Deborah Gore Dean, a Georgetown socialite and the niece of onetime Maryland GOP leader Louise Gore, who used her family and social connections to land a top staff job under then-Secretary Samuel R. Pierce Jr. at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In 1993, she was convicted of funneling federal funds to GOP insiders as part of a $2 billion influence-peddling scandal at HUD. Sentenced to 21 months in prison, Dean, who became an antiques dealer, stayed out of jail through appeals until 2002, when she was resentenced to six months of home confinement.

Some analysts say the trend is worsening, as more appointees view a government post as an opportunity to build a résumé and cultivate ties that will serve them in the private sector. "No question about it," said Light, who has studied 40 years of interviews with political appointees. "We've gone from the 'we' generation of presidential appointees to the 'me' generation."

Senate scrutiny of many nominees is almost pro forma, especially these days when the Republicans control Congress. The attitude is "if the president wants them, the president has got to live with them," Katz said.

The phenomenon also owes to a personnel operation that often values political credentials over managerial ability.

"They are not an executive search firm; they are a political search firm," says one official. The fruits of such a process are not hard to see.

Take Christopher B. Burnham, a former investment banker and Bush fundraiser who this year was tapped to be undersecretary for the department of management at the United Nations. Burnham caused a stir in July when he said that, professionally, his "primary loyalty is to the United States." The United Nations quickly issued a "clarification on his behalf," saying that Burnham took an oath of loyalty to the United Nations and "understands that his professional obligation is to the United Nations and the Secretary-General."

Favored but under-credentialed appointees often are dispatched to "turkey farms," select corners of federal agencies where it is presumed they can do little harm, said political scientist Donald F. Kettl of the University of Pennsylvania. It does not always work out that way, as Brown's stint at FEMA illustrates.

"People who run for the presidency often put so much emphasis on the race that they forget to stop to ask themselves what they are going to do with the prize when they get it," Kettl said. "They forget that so much of the work of government is governing. But every once in a while, we have a case like this where really truly terrible things happen because of a lack of competence. And then we have to learn the lesson all over again that the game isn't over when the election is done."

So in an Administration that hates government and governing we have learned the hard way that they should not be governing this complex and complicated nation.

Kerry and Edwards join the rising chorus of disgust at Bush

Kerry, Edwards Criticize Bush Over Response to Hurricane

President Bush came under withering criticism for his handling of Hurricane Katrina yesterday, with Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) charging that the storm exposed the administration's incompetence and ideological blinders and former senator John Edwards (D-N.C.) asserting that even in its response, the administration backs policies that support the privileged over the working poor.

Kerry said in a speech at Brown University that Michael D. Brown exemplified the administration's failures over the past five years.

Using the nickname Bush used for Brown, Kerry said, "Brownie is to Katrina what Paul Bremer is to peace in Iraq, what George Tenet is to slam-dunk intelligence, what Paul Wolfowitz is to parades paved with flowers in Baghdad, what Dick Cheney is to visionary energy policy, what Donald Rumsfeld is to basic war planning, what Tom DeLay is to ethics and what George Bush is to 'Mission Accomplished' and 'Wanted Dead or Alive.' "

Bremer was the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. Wolfowitz served as deputy defense secretary until becoming president of the World Bank by Bush appointment.

Edwards, who has made poverty a signature issue, said the plight of many of those displaced by the flooding in New Orleans underscores an urgent need for the nation to attack the problem. He offered policy initiatives aimed at ensuring that Americans who work full time do not fall below the poverty line.

The former senator said the administration has long favored wealth over work. He criticized Bush for suspending a law requiring federal contractors along the Gulf Coast to pay prevailing wages on reconstruction projects.

"I might have missed something, but I don't think the president ever talked about putting a cap on the salaries of the CEOs of Halliburton and the other companies . . . who are getting all these contracts. This president, who never met an earmark he wouldn't approve or a millionaire's tax cut he wouldn't promote, decided to slash wages for the least of us and the most vulnerable."

The two speeches followed pointed comments along the same lines by former president Bill Clinton, who criticized the administration's response to the storm Sunday. Speaking on ABC's "This Week," Clinton said Bush should roll back tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to offset the cost of rebuilding, and he asserted that the poverty exposed by the storm-forced exodus was caused in part by the administration's own policies.

"Whether it's race-based or not, if you give your tax cuts to the rich and hope everything works out all right, and poverty goes up, and it disproportionately affects black and brown people, that's a consequence of the action made," he said. "That's what they did in the '80s; that's what they've done in this decade. In the middle, we had a different policy."

According to a text of Kerry's speech made available in Washington, he said Katrina had provided an "accountability moment" for the administration.

"This is about the broader pattern of incompetence and negligence that Katrina exposed and beyond that a truly systemic effort to distort and disable the people's government and devote it to the interests of the privileged and the powerful," he said.

Kerry also charged that the administration is pursuing politics as usual in its prescription for rebuilding. "The plan they're designing for the Gulf Coast turns the region into a vast laboratory for right-wing ideological experiments," he said, citing private-school vouchers, subsidies to business and other proposals.

Edwards called for a restoration of community. "The administration may think every American is an island," he said. "But Americans know that Katrina's victims shouldn't have been out there on their own and that no American should be out there on their own."

Edwards used the metaphor of the flooded levees in New Orleans to describe what he called society's inadequate efforts to bolster the poor. Although he called for many new programs to help, he also said everyone, from parents and clergy to those most in need, must accept the responsibility to speak hard truths about behavior -- particularly out-of-wedlock pregnancies -- that condemn many to perpetual poverty.

Another mis-appointment by Bush...nepatism on the march.


Immigration Nominee's Credentials Questioned

The Bush administration is seeking to appoint a lawyer with little immigration or customs experience to head the troubled law enforcement agency that handles those issues, prompting sharp criticism from some employee groups, immigration advocates and homeland security experts.

The push to appoint Julie Myers to head the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security, comes in the midst of intense debate over the qualifications of department political appointees involved in the sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina.

Julie Myers has held a variety of jobs at the White House.

Concerns over Myers, 36, were acute enough at a Senate hearing last week that lawmakers asked the nominee to detail during her testimony her postings and to account for her management experience. Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio) went so far as to tell Myers that her résumé indicates she is not qualified for the job.

After working as a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, N.Y., for two years, Myers held a variety of jobs over the past four years at the White House and at the departments of Commerce, Justice and Treasury, though none involved managing a large bureaucracy. Myers worked briefly as chief of staff to Michael Chertoff when he led the Justice Department's criminal division before he became Homeland Security secretary.

Myers also was an associate under independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr for about 16 months and has most recently served as a special assistant to President Bush handling personal issues.

Her uncle is Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, the departing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She is married to Chertoff's current chief of staff, John F. Wood. So, in essence, she will be working with her husband at DHS.

"It appears she's got experience in money laundering, in banking and the financial areas," said Charles Showalter, president of the National Homeland Security Council, a union that represents 7,800 ICE agents, officers and support staff. "My question is: Who the hell is going to enforce the immigration laws?"

The most pointed questioning came from Voinovich, who said during the hearing that he wanted to meet with Chertoff to discuss Myers's qualifications. "I'd really like to have him spend some time with us, telling us personally why he thinks you're qualified for the job, because based on the résumé, I don't think you are," Voinovich said.

Bush's latest priority

Bush's top cop, Alberto Gonzalez is redirecting resources of the FBI to a new top priority. The war on Porn. And, this is not illegal porn but porn bought by consenting adults.

All 56 field offices have been directed to re-allocate manpower for the new "anti-obsenity squad."

The DC field office is already up in arms about such a ridiculous use of resource in an agency that is already stretched thin. This office usually concentrates on national security, terrorism, high-tech crimes, corruption, etc. Now one of their top priorities will be to gather evidence against "manufacturers and purveyors" of porn.

"I guess this means we've won the war on terror," said one exasperated FBI agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity because poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing. "We must not need any more resources for espionage."

Among friends and trusted colleagues, an experienced national security analyst said, "it's a running joke for us."

Where are they going to focus initially? They are looking at the purveyors. Explicit sexual entertainment is a profit center for companies including General Motors Corp. and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. (the two major owners of DirecTV), Time Warner Inc. and the Sheraton, Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt hotel chains. My guess is that these high profile big corporations are not going to be pleased.

Gonzales rational is that adult pornography is a threat to families and children. Christian conservatives, long skeptical of Gonzales, greeted the pornography initiative with what the Family Research Council called "a growing sense of confidence in our new attorney general."

At the FBI's field office, spokeswoman Debra Weierman expressed disappointment that some of her colleagues find grist for humor in the new campaign. "The adult obscenity squad . . . stems from an attorney general mandate, funded by Congress," she said. "The personnel assigned to this initiative take the responsibility of this assignment very seriously and are dedicated to the success of this program."

In a time where our priorities in rebuilding this country seem to be further falling away, Bush and his team once again give us reason for dispair. Porn is the least of the problems facing this country.

How sweet it is: fighting American greed in this century.

A state judge on Monday sentenced former Tyco International Ltd. executives L. Dennis Kozlowski and Mark H. Swartz to 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison for looting the company of hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for lavish parties, luxurious homes and extravagances. In June, a jury found former Tyco chief executive Kozlowski, 58, and former chief financial officer Swartz, 45, guilty of criminal counts of grand larceny, conspiracy, securities fraud and eight of nine counts of falsifying business records.

In a case that came to symbolize corporate greed, state Supreme Court Judge Michael J. Obus also ordered Kozlowski and Swartz to pay nearly $240 million in fines and restitution. Kozlowski and Swartz were immediately taken into custody and led from a packed courtroom in handcuffs as family members of both men sobbed. The men are likely to serve at least part of their sentences in one of New York's 16 maximum-security state prisons.

The sentences for Kozlowski and Swartz follow lengthy terms meted out to other white-collar defendants convicted in a wave of criminal cases that followed the collapse of the Internet bubble and multibillion-dollar frauds at companies such as WorldCom Inc. and Enron Corp.

Former WorldCom chairman Bernard J. Ebbers, 64, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for orchestrating an $11 billion accounting fraud at his company.

John J. Rigas, the 80-year-old founder of Adelphia Communications Corp., received 15 years in prison for stealing millions from the cable company for personal extravagances, hiding more than $2.3 billion in debt and lying to investors. Rigas's son and former Adelphia chief financial officer Timothy J. Rigas was given 20 years in prison for his role in the scheme.

Prosecutors and many shareholder groups say long sentences are necessary to deter future abuses and restore investor confidence. There is no parole in the federal system, under which many other white-collar defendants have been tried and sentenced.

House of Cards: Bush official arrested for corruption

Bush Official Arrested in Corruption Probe

The Bush administration's top federal procurement official resigned Friday and was arrested yesterday, accused of lying and obstructing a criminal investigation into Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff's dealings with the federal government. It was the first criminal complaint filed against a government official in the ongoing corruption probe related to Abramoff's activities in Washington.

Interestingly, His wife, Jennifer Safavian, is chief counsel for oversight and investigations on the House Government Reform Committee, which is responsible for overseeing government procurement and is, among other things, expected to conduct the Congressional investigation into missteps after Hurricane Katrina. One no longer wonders why they all think they can get away with misusing their office. They also control all the oversight.

The complaint, filed by the FBI, alleges that David H. Safavian, 38, a top White House procurement official involved until last week in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, made repeated false statements to government officials and investigators about his dealings with Abramoff.

It also contends that he concealed his efforts to help Abramoff acquire control of two federally managed properties in the Washington area. Abramoff is the person identified as "Lobbyist A" in a 13-page affidavit unsealed in court, according to sources knowledgeable about the probe.

Until his resignation on the day the criminal complaint against him was signed, Safavian was the top Bush administrator at the federal procurement office in the White House Office of Management and Budget, where he set purchasing policy for the entire government.

Abramoff was indicted by federal prosecutors in Miami last month on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy. He remains the linchpin of an 18-month probe by a federal task force that includes the Internal Revenue Service, the Interior Department and the Justice Department's fraud and public integrity units.

Abramoff's allegedly improper dealings with Indian tribes -- which netted him and an associate at least $82 million in fees -- prompted the federal probe. But investigators have found that his documents and e-mails contain a trove of information about his aggressive efforts to seek favors for clients from Republican members of Congress and senior Bush bureaucrats.

Accompanying Safavian and Abramoff on the 2002 trip to Scotland, for example, were Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Administration Committee, lobbyist and former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, Neil Volz, a lobbyist with Abramoff at the Washington office of Greenburg Traurig, and Tom Delay, senior House Republican.
Most interesting is that as usual Safavian is not qualified for this position. He only has a BA in political science from the Univ of Albany. Not exactly stellar credentials to hold down a position of this magnitude. I am sure there are tons of MBA's out there from Ivy League schools with a great deal of experience in this arena that would have clamored for this job.

19 September 2005

busy little bees

The Republicans are busy at work trying to find 'someone, anyone' to place the blame for Katrina. Guess they are just damn tired of having to assume responsibility.

So, they have instructed our illustrious attorney general to dig into lawsuits surrounding the rebuilding of the levees and marshes to see 'if it possibly held things up'. Now, no matter that the project was denied the money by the FED to undertake both the necessary studies but also the physical work. They will work hard to somehow spin it that somehow something unrelated 'could' be the cause.

Aren't we tired of all this?

Hypocrisy

A random thought today: while the 'Republican party' loves to preach and pander their self-interested and self-righteous version of family values and constantly prosyletizes about the evils of the 'gay agenda, choice, women's rights, personal freedoms, religion, human rights, and the spread of democracy, etc'......

..... the contradictions and hypocrisy of their words becomes ever more obvious.

This administration has emaculated our government by stripping it of it's mission and dignity. We have sent our children off to fight an unjust war where many of them have died in vain, as well as many innocent Iraqi civilians, while at the same time they promote the death penalty and vilify a women's right to choose her destiny. I suppose it is okay in their book to bring unwanted children into the world, and at the same time take those very lives.... whether it be by sending them into battle or to the electric chair. (an aside, over 100 people have been exonerated within days of the death penalty, wasn't one innocent life enough).

There are, in my opinion, two ways to approach life in this world. Love or fear. It appears to me that the Republican party has morphed itself into one of fear mongering. You keep control by pandering to the darkest side of the human psyche. Sound familiar: it sounds like a page from the playbook of the fundamentalists. Wait a minute: it IS familiar because the Republican message has been co-opted and scripted by the Republivangilists.

Take, for instance, Tom Coburn (R-OK) passionately preaching during his campaign that the worst thing Amurika faced this century was the evil, gay agenda.

Our latest embarrassment in a long five+ years of embarrassments, is Katrina.....which has exposed not only the rampant cronyism and ineptitude of the republican party but the plight and endless cycle of poverty in our country. The Pope's envoy to the Gulf Coast just issued a scathing statement in disgust at the condition of those lost to poverty and despair in the US, the world's richest. We have given the rich tax cuts while our country is engaged in two expensive wars (do you even remember the other one) and ever-expanding poverty. If you truly were to believe for instance that we are in Iraq for the furtherment of democracy in the region wouldn't we also be as concerned about democracy and equality at home instead of tax cuts.

So the next time the Republigelicals begin dividing us as a nation with their hate speak and false set of values.... just remember that if they want us all to believe that they possess true christian values then they should begin by living by what Jesus truly preached. Love, charity, forgiveness, non-judgment, kindness, etc. I really don't remember him promoting money, greed, hate, discrimination, segregation, and wealth. Talk about priorities.

Their is an old adage that goes: Republicans care more about property while Democrats care about more people.

It runs in the family...

Obviously alcohol and drug issues run in the family......Uncle George, his sister, Cousin Jenna, Noelle, and now little John. One wonders if Grandma Babs and Gramps like to knock back a few too.

Governor Jeb Bush's Son charged with Public Intoxication and Resisting Arrest.

AUSTIN, Texas - The youngest son of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was arrested early Friday and charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest, law enforcement officials said.
John Ellis Bush, 21, was arrested by agents of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission at 2:30 a.m. on a corner of Austin's Sixth Street bar district, said commission spokesman Roger Wade.

The nephew of President Bush was released on $2,500 bond for the resisting arrest charge, and on a personal recognizance bond for the public intoxication charge, officials said.

It's not the first time Florida's first family has experienced legal problems with one of their children.

Noelle Bush, the governor's daughter, was arrested in January 2002 for passing fraudulent prescriptions at a pharmacy to illegally obtain drugs. She was required by the court to complete a drug rehabilitation program in August 2003. She was also caught with illegal drugs while incarcerated and going through re-hab. (But, by virtue of the wonders of being the Governor's daughter and from a very rich and powerful, self-involved, and self-righteous family she of course skated with little recourse. And, imagine, I had always been taught that Republicans are supposed to be about personal responsibility and NO handouts).

Poor little John, I am sure it is not his fault just like it wasn't any of his relatives fault when THEY got in trouble. After all, hasn't everyone been charged with resisting arrest. Wanna place some bets that his Uncle or Dad make a few well placed phone calls and little John will be back home to his bourbon and coke in no time.

Clinton: FEMA chief should be experienced

Clinton: FEMA chief should be experienced

"When a disaster strikes, that person becomes the most important person in the federal government," Clinton said on CNN's Larry King Live.

"I think the most important thing is you probably should have a requirement that anybody who has the job has prior experience in emergency management," Clinton told King. "It's a very serious, important job."

He noted that his FEMA chief, James Lee Witt, had decades of experience and had headed up emergency management in Arkansas. "I made it a Cabinet-level agency, and when a disaster struck, everybody in the government worked for that person." Clinton also said FEMA functioned better when it was an independent agency.

Clinton said he has been impressed with the way Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen has taken over the leadership role in the disaster areas. Allen replaced Brown to head up FEMA's operations.

"We've finally got everybody on the same page now. It looks like we've got everybody working together, and we've got a huge job to do," Clinton said. "We just all need to be rowing in the same boat, trying to get people's lives back together and get plans in place to rebuild the area, particularly in New Orleans."