Singing the Bite Me Song


« September 2005 | Main | November 2005 »

October 26, 2005

Georgie Anne Geyer lays it out, and sends me to the New Yorker

Hey, I get it! Wow, for the first time I think I'm getting it, one of the more perplexing mysteries of the Bush administration, an incredible insider overview from a voice I trust. 

Thanks for the overview Georgie Anne! (we are alums from the same undergrad program, for what it's worth) This is so excellent, it's hard to cut anything out, it's just so important.

(someone please tell Yahoo News those little purple interstitial link things are annoying as hell, btw. I believe in interstitial link info, but those purple things are BUTT ugly and disruptive. Head back to your Jacob Nielsen, y'all)

Link: SKELETONS FIGHT TO GET OUT OF CLOSET AS WITCHES' BREW HEATS UP - Yahoo! News.

SKELETONS FIGHT TO GET OUT OF CLOSET AS WITCHES' BREW HEATS UP

By Georgie Anne Geyer 2 hours,  17 minutes ago

WASHINGTON -- If you wonder how journalists have puzzled through the twists and turns of this secretive Bush administration, let me tell you a personal story from three years ago that culminated in some stunning revelations this week.

It was August 2002, and the specter of war hung like a dark cape over the city. The radicals in the White House and the Pentagon had long before decided to invade Iraq, and Colin Powell was, with some anguish, agreeing to take their case to the United Nations. It was all only a question of time.

Meanwhile, one of the mysteries that haunted many of us was what Father Bush, the consummate foreign policy realist of the Eastern Establishment, was really thinking about his son's unilateralist and utopian ideas. It seemed obvious that the first President Bush would disagree with the son's policies, but he was, as always, immensely discreet.

It was at that point 1) that I was able to confirm from three excellent sources close to George H.W. Bush that he was, indeed, in serious disagreement with his son, and 2) that Gen. Brent Scowcroft, his close friend and former national security adviser, wrote a startling op-ed in The Wall Street Journal under the rather clarifying headline: "DON'T ATTACK SADDAM."

To me, Scowcroft's op-ed obviously reflected the feelings of his close friend, W.'s dad. I took a reasoned chance and wrote as much in a carefully qualified column. By chance, within a few days, I was at a conference where the general, whom I knew only professionally, was speaking.

After he left the podium, he walked through the crowd and suddenly swerved and walked over to me. He gave me a big kiss on the cheek and said, "That was a great column." Now, the general is a man of much decorum; he does not go around kissing stunned ladies on the cheek without purpose, and so I quickly got the message.

This week, which is chock full of so many revelations about the personalities and rationale behind the Iraq war, Gen. Scowcroft has finally told it all. In a fine article in The New Yorker, he tells writer Jeffrey Goldberg how opposed he was to the Iraq war; how instead of defeating terrorism, "Iraq feeds terrorism"; and how George W. has refused to speak to him over the last two years, despite his father's appeals.

"The real anomaly in the administration is Cheney," he is quoted as saying. "I consider Cheney a good friend -- I've known him for 30 years. But Dick Cheney I don't know anymore." And he characterizes the ideas of the neocons behind George W. and Cheney in the words of Arab scholar Bernard Lewis, whom he quotes as saying, "I believe that one of the things you've got to do to Arabs is hit them between the eyes with a big stick."

But even more interesting than Scowcroft's revelations is the fact that Goldberg apparently was able to get e-mail answers from Father Bush in Houston. At one point, he quotes the senior Bush as saying of his intimate friend and ideological comrade Scowcroft: "He has a great propensity for friendship. By that I mean someone I can depend on to tell me what I need to know and not just what I want to hear, and at the same time he is someone on whom I know I always can rely and trust implicitly."

Reading the piece carefully, one can see that even while the Father Bush references are elliptical, they also clarify his deep disagreements with W. over the war. Not surprisingly so, since he and Scowcroft are part of the realist school of foreign policy that believes in the prudent use of force for American interests. George W. and his neocons and Cheney are part of a new utopian Republicanism, which believes in spreading democracy through force.

At the same time this week, analysts were agog over other revelations from the top assistant to one of the men whose real feelings about the war, while known, have never been publicly expressed, Gen. Colin Powell.

Powell's chief of staff and a respected military officer himself, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, told the whole story at a meeting at the New America Foundation. The "Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal flummoxed the process" in order to get us into war. "The case that I saw for four-plus years was a case that I have never seen in my studies of aberrations, bastardizations, perturbations, changes in the national security decision-making process," he said.

While the seconds-in-command were essentially speaking for their bosses, Washington was waiting on pins and needles to see whether White House aides would be indicted in the Valerie Plame CIA case, or whether even Vice President Cheney would be drawn deeper into that strange witch's brew of trouble. The web of secrecy and deliberate miscues we've all been subjected to over the last four years is beginning to unweave.

[...]

I don't have the print version right here, but I did find a discussion of it on the New Yorker site here.

Link: The New Yorker: Online Only: The Republican Rift | Issue of 2005-10-31 | Posted 2005-10-24 .

This week in the magazine, Jeffrey Goldberg writes about Brent Scowcroft, the national-security adviser under President George H. W. Bush—and the former President’s best friend—who has been at odds with the current Administration. Here, with Amy Davidson, Goldberg discusses Scowcroft and the divide within the Republican party over Iraq.

        AMY DAVIDSON: Why is Brent Scowcroft worth writing about now? He’s been out of government for some time.       

JEFFREY GOLDBERG: For one thing, he’s a leading proponent of the “realist” school of foreign-policy thinking, which stands in opposition to the “transformationalist,” or neoconservative, or liberal interventionist—pick your preference—school. He also has a great deal of experience on the Iraqi question—he managed the first Gulf War for President George H. W. Bush, so it’s interesting to hear what he thinks of the current war. (Not much, as you can see from the article.) And he’s the best friend of the father of the current President, and the mentor of the current Secretary of State, so it’s worth exploring why the Administration of George W. Bush doesn’t listen to his advice on Iraq and other subjects.

        Scowcroft is a consummate diplomat and a careful man. And yet, reading the quotes in your story, it seems that he almost had to force himself not to lash out at the current Administration—and he didn’t always succeed. Is Scowcroft an angry man these days?       

He’s a man in control of his emotions, and so I’m not sure how angry he is, or how far he would be willing to go to show his anger. He is upset about the course of the war, of course, and I suppose he’s upset because his advice before the war was ignored. But I don’t think he takes these things personally. I think he doesn’t want to see America do damage to itself. And, according to what he told me, he thinks America has been damaged by the intervention in Iraq: he believes, he said, that the Iraq war has made our terrorism problem worse, not better.

        You mentioned his advice before the war. That advice was very public: Scowcroft wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal with the title “Don’t Attack Saddam.” Does Scowcroft have any regrets about that—either about the substance of the piece or about how openly critical he was?       

I don’t believe he has specific regrets. He very much wanted to express these ideas privately, but had no means to do so. He is a very unusual figure in Washington, in that he does not seem to seek popularity or attention. But he seems to believe that when asked a question he should answer honestly. (This, too, makes him unusual in Washington.) He regrets not having a better relationship with George W. Bush and his White House, but he’s not going to sacrifice principles for access. (This, it is almost needless to say, makes him extremely unusual in this city.)

[...]

        Scowcroft is George H. W. Bush’s best friend. What does it mean that Scowcroft seems to disagree with his son?       

It doesn’t mean anything for his relationship with the elder Bush. They remain best friends. I’ve been told that Bush is sorry that his son and his best friend aren’t close, and, according to people with knowledge of this relationship, the elder Bush has tried to broker meetings between his son and Scowcroft. But the deeper meaning here is ideological: George W. Bush’s father was committed to a realist understanding of foreign policy. This served him well in Iraq, and not so well in Bosnia. George W. Bush, on the other hand, has become a leading proponent of democratic transformationalism; he believes it is America’s job to help non-democratic countries become democratic. The realists don’t believe that the internal organization of another country is any of our business; George W. Bush, evidently, does.

        The relationship between Scowcroft and the Bushes is not the only complicated one in this story. Condoleezza Rice was Scowcroft’s protégée. What happened there?       

Condoleezza Rice started her public career as an aide to Scowcroft, and was firmly in the realist camp. But she switched Bushes, in a sense, becoming closer to the son than to the father; the son has a different view of the world, and now so does Rice. From what I understand, Rice believes now that the realists’ preoccupation with stability over democratic change brought us to September 11th, and now she’s committed to the idea of transforming countries into democracies, rather than dealing with their governments as they are. There is, of course, merit to that argument. There is also merit to Scowcroft’s argument that America shouldn’t rush into these sorts of programs haphazardly.

        I was also struck by Scowcroft’s comment to you about Vice-President Cheney: “I consider Cheney a good friend—I’ve known him for thirty years. But Dick Cheney I don’t know anymore.” What does that say about Cheney’s role in the White House now?       

It implies two things. One, the people who served George H. W. Bush cannot believe that their former colleague—the deeply conservative Secretary of Defense in that first Bush Administration—has embraced the neoconservative, transformationalist philosophy of George W. Bush. It also suggests something about the estrangement of the camp of George H. W. Bush from the camp of George W. Bush.

[...]

        Whether we should go to war to spread democracy is a good question—one that, as you note, we’ve debated as a nation since Woodrow Wilson. But is that, in fact, why we went to war?       

Again, a mystery. I think that there were many reasons for this war, even in the mind of George W. Bush. I think each key player in the Administration had a different reason for wanting this. I tend to think that we went to war because most people thought Saddam was a provably dangerous man who was hiding a W.M.D. program. I tend to think that Bush’s second inaugural—the one in which he called for an end to tyranny—would not have happened had the American military found ten pounds of Iraqi anthrax in a bunker somewhere. This is a roundabout way of saying that democratic reform is the reason we have now for the war, because W.M.D.s weren’t found.

[...]

        Is Scowcroft at all optimistic about what’s likely to happen next in Iraq?

He is not terribly optimistic. He feels very heavily the weight of history, and history isn’t telling him that things will turn out well. He’s hoping they will, I believe, and, from what I can tell, this is a sincere hope, even if a good turn of events in Iraq would prove him wrong in his analysis. This is an eighty-year-old man who wants to see his country safe and secure and prosperous. I’m not sure he’s right, of course—sometimes the realists overestimate the difficulties that come with change. But I think it’s fair to say that the country would be better off if Scowcroft was at least heard out by the current Administration.

Gotta get the magazine. Yup.

October 26, 2005 at 10:27 PM in Politics, War/Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 25, 2005

Where are those indictments?!

Am I the only one who's getting antsy for Patrick Fitzgerald to shit or get off the pot?

A radio talk show host on Air America (I forget which one, Al Franken?) is calling that much-anticipated day "Fitzmas," because some of us will see the indictments as Christmas come early.

Meanwhile, the plot thickens as the investigation gets closer to Vice President Cheney, which is not unprecedented. Can you say "Spiro Agnew?" Back before the press had Richard Nixon to kick around, Agnew had been the Grade A poster child for ignominy.

Link: CNN.com - White House sidesteps questions about Cheney - Oct 25, 2005.

White House sidesteps questions about Cheney


NYT: Vice president told top aide CIA officer's identity

Tuesday, October 25, 2005; Posted: 2:00 p.m. EDT (18:00 GMT)

NEW YORK (AP) -- The White House on Tuesday sidestepped questions about whether Vice President Dick Cheney passed on to his top aide the identity of a CIA officer central to a federal grand jury probe.

Notes in the hands of a federal prosecutor suggest that Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, first heard of the CIA officer from Cheney himself, The New York Times reported in Tuesday's editions.

[...]

The Times said notes of a previously undisclosed June 12, 2003, conversation between Libby and Cheney appear to differ from Libby's grand jury testimony that he first heard of Valerie Plame from journalists.

"This is a question relating to an ongoing investigation and we're not having any further comment on the investigation while it's ongoing," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.

[...]

The New York Times identified its sources in the story as lawyers involved in the case.

Libby at center of inquiry

Libby has emerged at the center of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's criminal investigation in recent weeks because of the Cheney aide's conversations about Plame with Times reporter Judith Miller.

Miller said Libby spoke to her about Plame and her husband, Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson, on three occasions -- although not necessarily by name and without indicating he knew she was undercover.

Libby's notes show that Cheney knew Plame worked at the CIA more than a month before her identity was publicly exposed by columnist Robert Novak.

At the time of the Cheney-Libby conversation, Wilson had been referred to -- but not by name -- in the Times and on the morning of June 12, 2003 on the front page of The Washington Post.

The Times reported that Libby's notes indicate Cheney got his information about Wilson from then-CIA Director George Tenet, but said there was no indication he knew her name.

The notes also contain no suggestion that Cheney or Libby knew at the time of their conversation of Plame's undercover status or that her identity was classified, the paper said.

Disclosing the identify of a covert CIA agent can be a crime, but only if the person who discloses it knows the agent is classified as working undercover.

Charges against Cheney unlikely

The Times quoted lawyers involved in the case as saying they had no indication Fitzgerald was considering charging Cheney with a crime.

But the paper said any efforts by Libby to steer investigators away from his conversation with Cheney might be viewed by a prosecutor as attempt to impede the inquiry, which could be a crime.

[...]

October 25, 2005 at 04:46 PM in Current Affairs, Democracy, Favorite Links, Politics, Singing the Bite Me Song, War/Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 22, 2005

BBC News archive from Sept 18, 2001 | US 'planned attack on Taleban'

A story that is worth remembering for our 20/20 hindsight. I'm saving it all here, so I can be sure to never forget.

Link: BBC News | SOUTH ASIA | US 'planned attack on Taleban'.

Tuesday, 18 September, 2001, 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK

US 'planned attack on Taleban'

Taleban fighters
The wider objective was to oust the Taleban

By the BBC's George Arney

A former Pakistani diplomat has told the BBC that the US was planning military action against Osama Bin Laden and the Taleban even before last week's attacks.

Niaz Naik, a former Pakistani Foreign Secretary, was told by senior American officials in mid-July that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October.

 
Russian soldiers in Tajikistan
Russian troops were on standby
Mr Naik said US officials told him of the plan at a UN-sponsored international contact group on Afghanistan which took place in Berlin.

Mr Naik told the BBC that at the meeting the US representatives told him that unless Bin Laden was handed over swiftly America would take military action to kill or capture both Bin Laden and the Taleban leader, Mullah Omar.

The wider objective, according to Mr Naik, would be to topple the Taleban regime and install a transitional government of moderate Afghans in its place - possibly under the leadership of the former Afghan King Zahir Shah.

Mr Naik was told that Washington would launch its operation from bases in Tajikistan, where American advisers were already in place.

Osama Bin Laden
Bin Laden would have been "killed or captured"

He was told that Uzbekistan would also participate in the operation and that 17,000 Russian troops were on standby.

Mr Naik was told that if the military action went ahead it would take place before the snows started falling in Afghanistan, by the middle of October at the latest.

He said that he was in no doubt that after the World Trade Center bombings this pre-existing US plan had been built upon and would be implemented within two or three weeks.

And he said it was doubtful that Washington would drop its plan even if Bin Laden were to be surrendered immediately by the Taleban.

October 22, 2005 at 01:09 AM in Democracy, Favorite Links, News to Note, Politics, Singing the Bite Me Song, War/Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 06, 2005

Bush says God told him to invade Iraq

Now doesn't that make you feel better?

I have no idea what time zone this embargo is set for. I was told there would be no math.

Link: BBC - Press Office - George Bush on Elusive Peace.

Press Releases

God told me to invade Iraq, Bush tells Palestinian ministers

This press release is embargoed until 2230 hours on Thursday 6 October. Before that time it is only available through the link which you have been sent.

President George W. Bush told Palestinian ministers that God had told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq - and create a Palestinian State, a new BBC series reveals.

In Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs, a major three-part series on BBC TWO (at 9.00pm on Monday 10, Monday 17 and Monday 24 October), Abu Mazen, Palestinian Prime Minister, and Nabil Shaath, his Foreign Minister, describe their first meeting with President Bush in June 2003.

Nabil Shaath says: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, "George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan." And I did, and then God would tell me, "George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq …" And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, "Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East." And by God I'm gonna do it.'"

Abu Mazen was at the same meeting and recounts how President Bush told him: "I have a moral and religious obligation. So I will get you a Palestinian state."

[...]

Israel and the Arabs: Elusive Peace - Mondays 10, 17 and 24 October, from 9.00 to 10.00pm on BBC TWO.

October 6, 2005 at 06:15 PM in Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 04, 2005

As DeLay goes down, don't forget about K Street

This Observer column is a good reminder of the House Delay Built in the odious world of DC Lobby firms, a plot not only to deliberately subvert democracy and the democratic processes, but also an overt attempt to insure that one party would remain in power in perpetuity, through corruption and cronyism, and with K Street and beyond (and it wasn't going to stop at K Street) BLACKLISTING.

Here's the part that boggles one's mind, however. The K Street Project wasn't blacklisting some minority in need of protection against lynch mobs and discrimination. IT WAS BLACKLISTING DEMOCRATS FROM THE INSIDER NEO-GILDED AGE BEING BUILT EXCLUSIVELY FOR THE SUPER-RICH.

What I'm saying is, in some ways, the K Street Project wasn't as much political as it was a form of social engineering for a particular class, the money class. It was an attempt to bully and coerce those of the moneyed class to goosestep, or else.

How peculiar, eh? Hitler's unique brand of fascism was populist. DeLay's fascism looks like it only applies to some faint "aristocratic" genetic remnant of Hitler's elite SS breeding program. A "Red Scare" for the rich, only the epithet isn't "Commie," it's "Democrat."

Link: The Observer | Comment | Something stinks in America.

Comment

Something stinks in America

As a leading Republican prepares to face corruption charges, the fallout will be felt as far afield as Westminster

Will Hutton
Sunday October 2, 2005
The Observer

The most important political event last week for Britain did not take place at the Labour party conference in Brighton, but in Travis County, Texas. District Attorney Ronnie Earle charged the second most powerful man in the United States, Tom DeLay, with criminal conspiracy. DeLay resigned as the majority leader of the Republicans in the House of Representatives while he fights the case, a stunning political setback.

[...]

The story begins in the murky world of campaign finance and the grey area of quasi-corruption, kickbacks and personal favours that now define the American political system. American politicians need ever more cash to fight their political campaigns and gerrymander their constituencies, so creating the political truth that incumbents rarely lose. US corporations are the consistent suppliers of the necessary dollars and Republican politicians increasingly are the principal beneficiaries. Complicated rules exist to try to ensure the relationship between companies and politicians is as much at arm's length as possible; the charge against DeLay is that he drove a coach and horses through the rules.

If DeLay were another Republican politician or even a typical majority leader of the House, the political world could shrug its shoulders. Somebody got caught, but little will change. But DeLay is very different. He is the Republican paymaster, one of the authors of the K Street Project and the driving force behind a vicious, organised demonisation and attempted marginalisation of Democrats that for sheer, unabashed political animus is unlike anything else witnessed in an advanced democracy. Politicians fight their political foes by fair means or foul, but trying to exterminate them is new territory. [emphasis mine]

The K Street Project is little known outside the Washington beltway and its effectiveness as a political stratagem is only possible because of the unique importance of campaign finance to American politics. DeLay, together with Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and some conservative activists, notably the ubiquitous Grover Norquist who runs the anti-state, anti-tax lobby group 'Americans for Tax Reform', conceived the notion 10 years ago that they should use the Republican majority in the House as a lever to ensure that the lobbyists, law firms and trade associations that inhabit Washington's K Street, heart of the industry, should only employ Republicans or sympathisers. To be a Democrat was to bear the mark of Cain; K Street was to be a Democrat-free zone.

This, if it could be pulled off, would have multiple pay-backs. Special-interest groups and companies have always greased the palms of American law-makers and because of lack of party discipline, they have had to grease Democrat and Republican palms alike to get the legislation they wanted. DeLay's ambition was to construct such a disciplined Republican party that lobbyists would not need Democrats, and so create an inside track in which the only greased palms from legislators to lobbyists would be Republican.

Lobbyists, law firms and trade associations should be told not to employ Democrats, so progressively excluding them from access to the lucrative channels of campaign finance. Democrats would become both poorer and politically diminished at a stroke and the Republicans would become richer and politically hegemonic.

Key vocabulary word there, hegemonic. Where's Fighting Bob LaFollette when you need him? Where's Paul Wellstone?

It has worked. The most influential Washington lobbyist is Barbour, Griffiths and Rogers; it employs not a single Democrat. Last year, in a classic operation, House Republicans let the Motion Picture Association of America (the film industry lobby group) know that appointing a Democrat, Dan Glickman, as its head would mean $1.5 billion of tax relief for the film industry was now in peril. Glickman staffed up the MPAA with Republicans, but the threat remains. In 2003, the Republican National Committee could claim that 33 of the top 36 top-level K Street positions were in Republican hands. Today, it's even closer to a clean sweep.

Corporations get their rewards. The oil and gas industry now gives 80 per cent of its campaign cash to Republicans (20 years ago, the split was roughly 50-50), and influence on this year's energy bill was a classic sting. American petrol can now contain a suspected carcinogen; operators of US natural-gas wells can contaminate water aquifers to improve the yields from the wells; the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is open to oil exploration - concessions all created by DeLay's inside track. And to provide ideological juice, there's a bevy of think-tanks, paid for from the same web of contributions, cranking out the justification that the 'state' and 'regulation' are everywhere and always wrong.

[...]

In Congress, moderate Republicans don't want guilt by association and companies value their reputation. The K Street Project stinks, along with all those associated with it. So far, the US media have been supine. DeLay's tentacles, and those of Karl Rove, Bush's top political adviser, have cowed media owners into the same compliance; if they want favours, best advance the Republican cause like Murdoch's Fox News. American newsrooms are fearful places.

But DeLay's indictment breaks back the dam. US politics moves in cycles. Once it was Republicans who were going to clean up corrupt Democrat Washington; now Democrats can champion the same cause. Nor can the media afford to be on the side of the Old Corruption; it's bad for business. The wheel is turning, an important moment both sides of the Atlantic.

October 4, 2005 at 11:24 PM in Best Essays, Current Affairs, Democracy, Favorite Links, News to Note, Politics, Rhetoric, Singing the Bite Me Song | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 02, 2005

OK, so if you start having some of these symptoms... you'll know what it is

I think my personal favorite is Substance "beta," which causes 'confusion, psychic weakness, temporary blindness and deafness.'"

Link: The Memory Hole > Reports on Psychochemical Weapons.

Reports on Psychochemical Weapons

>> On this page, we're posting military reports on chemical weapons designed to interfere with the central nervous system of targets, causing hallucinations, detachment, psychosis, and/or loss of motor control.

[...]

Clinical and Military Medical Aspects of Psychopoisons

(PDF format | 15 pages | 1.3 meg)

This article originally appeared in the German journal Zeitschrift Fur Militarmedizin (6/1971), and was translated by the US Army Foreign Science and Technology Center. Released to Russ Kick by the US Army Intelligence and Security Command on 30 August 2005 in response to FOIA request 378F-05.

From page 1: "This paper gives an overall view of the division of psychopoisons into psychotomimetica and disturbors [sic].... In addition to the general intoxication symptoms, synthetic substances of both groups are described. Finally, the military applications of psychopoisons and possible medical treatments are discussed."

From page 10:

"Tremorine
This substance produces strong tremors, connected with muscle weakness, excessive saliva flow and miosis.

IDPN
The application of this compound to experimental animals leads to an irreversible situation where the animals run around in circles, describing a circle with their heads, without endangering their lives.

Substance 'beta'
In the U.S. Army, this designation is used for a chemical warfare agent whose chemical structure is not known and which causes 'confusion, psychic weakness, temporary blindness and deafness.'"

October 2, 2005 at 11:12 PM in Favorite Links, News to Note, Privacy & Free Speech, Singing the Bite Me Song, War/Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How could inept FEMA mismanage TONS of ice?

I have to think hard about this story. Still processing. It seems too bizarre to be just sheer incompetence. It is like there was a method to the mismanagement, you know? Like someone was either trying DELIBERATELY to fuck up massively (why? The political fallout has been devastating for the Bush administration, but the only people who would even THINK of deliberately fucking up something this big are Bushies. Lefty hearts would bleed to death at the suffering in New Orleans before they'd ever entertain a deliberate fiasco for crass political gain, and besides, Lefties don't control anything right now, so how would they pull it off?)

So, should we entertain the notion of deliberate sabotage of the Bush administration from WITHIN the Bush administration? I'm sure there are party-line goose-steppers who remain massively pissed off at the iron fists of the big bosses. But again, how would such a person or group of people ever find themselves in such a key choke point of power? The FEMA incompetents were deep political loyaltists. Sure, Texas may have invented a unique double-double cross, going back to the Kennedy administration, but such an idea seems oddly misplaced here.

So what does that leave? Mere incompetence? That would seem the only explanation, but that's what bugs me about it. It seems too easy for a fuck-up on such a grand scale, like an orchestra of errors, not a mere marching band arrangement.

Which leads me to entertain an idea that is utterly absurd. You have to WORK HARD to fuck up this badly, see? There isn't any logic in sending ice in the WRONG DIRECTION with a straight face, especially not that much of it. And they claimed people didn't need the ice because they'd dispersed, but we all saw people suffering from heat exhaustion, suffering in the heat. Who was the ice being kept for, freezers of meat held by BUSINESSES ONLY? (I get it, perhaps CORPORATIONS are the only "individuals" whose suffering meant anything in the aftermath of Katrina. PEOPLE didn't need ice. All they'd do is melt it trying to get cool. What a waste.)

I keep circling and circling around this idea, the one I don't want to believe, don't even want to consider. What if it wasn't incompetence at all? In this story below, it talks about how a lot of the ice was being held for the next disaster, and ended up in Texas.

Why is it I keep returning to this idea that the FEMA incompetence and withheld aid was higher in districts that voted blue in the elections, while aid was held in reserve and speedily delivered to districts that voted red? I can't prove this, of course. And so long as it looks like sheer incompetence, masquerades as sheer incompetence, no one can prove it. The so-called "fog of war" obscured stories of FEMA turning aid workers and trucks back, of telling people from distant states not to come, that they weren't needed.

What kind of thinking would even consider that there would be political gain from this kind of patronage payoff/punishment system coming home to roost in a humanitarian disaster? Because at the end of the day, my gut belief is that this had less to do with the Katrina victims being African American and poor and more to do with the fact that the place they lived voted the wrong way according to the party in power (of course, a big reason the area may have voted the wrong way may be because they are African American and poor).

If the Bush administration or the Republican Party ever gets another black vote, I will be awfully surprised. That's why I'm so puzzled. The party was making an effort to "court" African American voters in the last election. Or had they given up? Was that just a front, something to throw around for show while old Dixiecrats in pointy white hats were working hard in smoke-filled back rooms with other rich GOP fat cats and power-broker "Pioneers" divvying up real estate for the new GOP feudal aristocracy the GOP planned to permanently put in place by never having another free national election?

Maybe the incompetent fuck-up was a patronage gamble, an ill-informed underestimation of the scale of the humanitarian fallout, as if the plotters of this plan WERE incompetent, but with an incompetence built from the arrogance of power, secure in the idea that no one would ever question the patronage code system with which they wielded it and if anyone did, their manipulative control of the media would bury such an idea before it ever reached "real" public opinion polls.

And instead, they stumbled into the wake of the stunning images and reporting from New Orleans and actually encountered a news event they couldn't manipulate.

So now they ruse is actually an attempt to make it look like an incompetent fuck-up by people who don't know their heads from their asses, as opposed to what it really may be, an deliberate fuck-up to play political games with FEMA aid as was done in Florida, a deliberate fuck-up that collapsed in on itself because the arrogance of the players led them to be too insulated to understand that the event had gotten too big to "manage." That, in itself is incompetence, but not FEMA mismanagement incompetence. That's incompetent political "handling" of the faked FEMA mismanagement incompetence. Two different things, see?

Hey, it's just a theory.

Link: Stumbling Storm-Aid Effort Put Tons of Ice on Trips to Nowhere - New York Times.

October 2, 2005

Stumbling Storm-Aid Effort Put Tons of Ice on Trips to Nowhere

By SCOTT SHANE and ERIC LIPTON

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 - When the definitive story of the confrontation between Hurricane Katrina and the United States government is finally told, one long and tragicomic chapter will have to be reserved for the odyssey of the ice.

Ninety-one thousand tons of ice cubes, that is, intended to cool food, medicine and sweltering victims of the storm. It would cost taxpayers more than $100 million, and most of it would never be delivered.

The somewhat befuddled heroes of the tale will be truckers like Mark Kostinec, who was dropping a load of beef in Canton, Ohio, on Sept. 2 when his dispatcher called with an urgent government job: Pick up 20 tons of ice in Greenville, Pa., and take it to Carthage, Mo., a staging area for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Mr. Kostinec, 40, a driver for Universe Truck Lines of Omaha, was happy to help with the crisis. But at Carthage, instead of unloading, he was told to take his 2,000 bags of ice on to Montgomery, Ala.

After a day and a half in Montgomery, he was sent to Camp Shelby, in Mississippi. From there, on Sept. 8, he was waved onward to Selma, Ala. And after two days in Selma he was redirected to Emporia, Va., along with scores of other frustrated drivers who had been following similarly circuitous routes.

At Emporia, Mr. Kostinec sat for an entire week, his trailer burning fuel around the clock to keep the ice frozen, as FEMA officials studied whether supplies originally purchased for Hurricane Katrina might be used for Hurricane Ophelia. But in the end only 3 of about 150 ice trucks were sent to North Carolina, he said. So on Sept. 17, Mr. Kostinec headed to Fremont, Neb., where he unloaded his ice into a government-rented storage freezer the next day.

"I dragged that ice around for 4,100 miles, and it never got used," Mr. Kostinec said. A former mortgage broker and Enron computer technician, he had learned to roll with the punches, and he was pleased to earn $4,500 for the trip, double his usual paycheck. He was perplexed, however, by the government's apparent bungling.

"They didn't seem to know how much ice they were buying and how much they were using," he said. "All the truckers said the money was good. But we were upset about not being able to help."

[...]

At a hearing on Wednesday, Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, expressed astonishment that many truckloads of ice had ended up in storage 1,600 miles from the Hurricane Katrina damage zone in her state, apparently because the storage contractor, AmeriCold Logistics, had run out of space farther south.

"The American taxpayers, and especially the Katrina victims, cannot endure this kind of wasteful spending," Ms. Collins said.

Asked about trips like Mr. Kostinec's, Nicol Andrews, a FEMA spokeswoman, said: "He was put on call for a need and the need was not realized, so he went home. Any reasonable person recognizes the fact that it makes sense to prepare for the worst, hope for the best and place your resources where they may be needed."

Unlike an ordinary hurricane, which may leave a large population in still-habitable housing but without power for days or weeks, Hurricane Katrina destroyed neighborhoods and led to unprecedented evacuation, Ms. Andrews said.

"The population we ordered the ice for had been dispersed," she said, "which is good, because they are out of harm's way."

[...]

Not all of the ice delivery trips, by an estimated 4,000 drivers, ended in frustration. Mike Snyder, a truck driver from Berwick, Pa., took an excruciating journey that started in Allentown, Pa., on Sept. 16 and did not end until two weeks later, on Friday morning, when he arrived in Tarkington Prairie, Tex.

The electricity was out in the small community. When Mr. Snyder pulled up in front of a local church and unloaded his ice, residents were overjoyed to see him. "I felt like I did a lot of good," he said.

Truck drivers who pinballed around the country felt differently.

Having almost lost his Florida home to a hurricane last year, Jeff Henderson was eager to help when he heard that FEMA needed truckers to carry ice. He drove at his own expense to Wisconsin to collect a 20-ton load and delivered it to the Carthage staging area.

Then he, too, was sent across the South: Meridian, Miss.; Selma; and finally Memphis, where he waited five days and then delivered his ice to storage.

"I can't understand what happened," Mr. Henderson said. "The government's the only customer that plays around like that."

Mike Hohnstein, a dispatcher in Omaha, sent a truckload out of Dubuque, Iowa, to Meridian. From there, the driver was sent to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, to Columbia, S.C., and finally to Cumberland, Md., where he bought a lawn chair and waited for six days.

Finally, 10 days after he started, the driver was told to take the ice to storage in Bettendorf, Iowa, Mr. Hohnstein said. The truck had traveled 3,282 miles, but not a cube of ice had reached a hurricane victim.

"Well," Mr. Hohnstein said, "the driver got to see the country."

[...]

October 2, 2005 at 12:28 AM in Current Affairs, Favorite Links, News to Note, Rhetoric, Singing the Bite Me Song | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack