Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator    

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Military May Play Bigger Relief Role

Sep 17 2:59 PM US/Eastern

By ROBERT BURNSAP Military Writer

President Bush's push to give the military a bigger role in responding to major disasters like Hurricane Katrina could lead to a loosening of legal limits on the use of federal troops on U.S. soil.

Pentagon officials are reviewing that possibility, and some in Congress agree it needs to be considered.

Bush did not define the wider role he envisions for the military. But in his speech to the nation from New Orleans on Thursday, he alluded to the unmatched ability of federal troops to provide supplies, equipment, communications, transportation and other assets the military lumps under the label of "logistics."

The president called the military "the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moment's notice."

At question, however, is how far to push the military role, which by law may not include actions that can be defined as law enforcement _ stopping traffic, searching people, seizing property or making arrests. That prohibition is spelled out in the Posse Comitatus Act of enacted after the Civil War mainly to prevent federal troops from supervising elections in former Confederate states.

Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, Sen. John Warner, R-Va., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said, "I believe the time has come that we reflect on the Posse Comitatus Act." He advocated giving the president and the secretary of defense "correct standby authorities" to manage disasters.

Presidents have long been reluctant to deploy U.S. troops domestically, leery of the image of federal troops patrolling in their own country or of embarrassing state and local officials.

The active-duty elements that Bush did send to Louisiana and Mississippi included some Army and Marine Corps helicopters and their crews, plus Navy ships. The main federal ground forces, led by troops of the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C., arrived late Saturday, five days after Katrina struck.

They helped with evacuations and performed search-and-rescue missions in flooded portions of New Orleans but did not join in law enforcement operations.

The federal troops were led by Lt. Gen. Russel Honore. The governors commanded their National Guard soldiers, sent from dozens of states.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is reviewing a wide range of possible changes in the way the military could be used in domestic emergencies, spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said Friday. He said these included possible changes in the relationship between federal and state military authorities.

Under the existing relationship, a state's governor is chiefly responsible for disaster preparedness and response.

Governors can request assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. If federal armed forces are brought in to help, they do so in support of FEMA, through the U.S. Northern Command, which was established in 2002 as part of a military reorganization after the 9/11 attacks.

Di Rita said Rumsfeld has not made recommendations to Bush, but among the issues he is examining is the viability of the Posse Comitatus Act. Di Rita called it one of the "very archaic laws" from a different era in U.S. history that limits the Pentagon's flexibility in responding to 21st century domestic crises.

Another such law, Di Rita said, is the Civil War-era Insurrection Act, which Bush could have invoked to waive the law enforcement restrictions of the Posse Comitatus Act. That would have enabled him to use either National Guard soldiers or active-duty troops _ or both _ to quell the looting and other lawlessness that broke out in New Orleans.

The Insurrection Act lets the president call troops into federal action inside the United States whenever "unlawful obstructions, combinations or assemblages _ or rebellion against the authority of the United States _ make it impracticable to enforce the laws" in any state.

The political problem in Katrina was that Bush would have had to impose federal command over the wishes of two governors _ Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana and Haley Barbour of Mississippi _ who made it clear they wanted to retain state control.

The last time the Insurrection Act was invoked was in 1992 when it was requested by California Gov. Pete Wilson after the outbreak of race riots in Los Angeles. President George H.W. Bush dispatched about 4,000 soldiers and Marines.

Di Rita cautioned against expecting quick answers to tough questions like whether Congress should define when to trigger the president's authority to send federal troops to take charge of an emergency, regardless of whether a governor agreed.

"Is there a way to define a threshold, or an anticipated threshold, above which a different set of relationships would kick in?" Di Rita asked. "That's a good question. It's only been two weeks, so don't expect us to have the answers. But those are the kinds of questions we need to be asking."

Link Here

Doctor says FEMA ordered him to stop treating hurricane victims


09/16/05 "The Advocate" -- -- In the midst of administering chest compressions to a dying woman several days after Hurricane Katrina struck, Dr. Mark N. Perlmutter was ordered to stop by a federal official because he wasn't registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"I begged him to let me continue," said Perlmutter, who left his home and practice as an orthopedic surgeon in Pennsylvania to come to Louisiana and volunteer to care for hurricane victims. "People were dying, and I was the only doctor on the tarmac (at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport) where scores of nonresponsive patients lay on stretchers. Two patients died in front of me.

"I showed him (the U.S. Coast Guard official in charge) my medical credentials. I had tried to get through to FEMA for 12 hours the day before and finally gave up. I asked him to let me stay until I was replaced by another doctor, but he refused. He said he was afraid of being sued. I informed him about the Good Samaritan laws and asked him if he was willing to let people die so the government wouldn't be sued, but he would not back down. I had to leave."

FEMA issued a formal response to Perlmutter's story, acknowledging that the agency does not use voluntary physicians.

"We have a cadre of physicians of our own," FEMA spokesman Kim Pease said Thursday. "They are the National Disaster Medical Team. ... The voluntary doctor was not a credentialed FEMA physician and, thus, was subject to law enforcement rules in a disaster area."

A Coast Guard spokesman said he was looking into the incident but was not able to confirm it.

Perlmutter, Dr. Clark Gerhart and medical student Alison Torrens flew into Baton Rouge on a private jet loaned by a Pennsylvania businessman several days after Katrina hit. They brought medicine and supplies with them. They stayed the first night in Baton Rouge and persuaded an Army Blackhawk helicopter pilot to fly them into New Orleans the next day.

"I was going to make it happen," the orthopedic surgeon said. "I was at Ground Zero too, and I had to lie to get in there."

At the triage area in the New Orleans airport, Perlmutter was successful in getting FEMA to accept the insulin and morphine he had brought. "The pharmacist told us they were completely out of insulin and our donation would save numerous lives. Still, I felt we were the most-valuable resource, and we were sent away."

Gerhart said the scene they confronted at the airport was one of "hundreds of people lying on the ground, many soaked in their own urine and feces, some coding (dying) before our eyes." FEMA workers initially seemed glad for help and asked Gerhart to work inside the terminal and Perlmutter to work out on the tarmac. They were told only a single obstetrician had been on call at the site for the past 24 hours.

Then, the Coast Guard official informed the group that he could not credential them or guarantee tort coverage and that they should return to Baton Rouge. "That shocked me, that those would be his concerns in a time of emergency," Gerhart said.

Transported back to Baton Rouge, Perlmutter's frustrated group went to state health officials who finally got them certified -- a simple process that took only a few seconds.

"I found numerous other doctors in Baton Rouge waiting to be assigned and others who were sent away, and there was no shortage of need," he said.

Perlmutter spent some time at the Department of Health and Hospital's operational center at Jimmy Swaggart Ministries before moving to the makeshift "Kmart Hospital" doctors established at an abandoned store to care for patients. After organizing an orthopedics room and setting up ventilators there, Perlmutter went back to the Swaggart Center and then to the LSU Pete Maravich Assembly Center's field hospital to care for patients being flown in from the New Orleans area.

"We saw elderly patients who had been off their medicine for days, diabetics without insulin going into shock, uncontrolled hypertension, patients with psychosis and other mental disorders, lots of diarrhea, dehydration and things you would expect. I slept on a patient cot there every night until I came home."

Gerhart said he felt the experience overall was successful and rewarding, although frustrating at times. "You don't expect catastrophes to be well organized. A lot of people, both private citizens and government officials, were working very hard."

Perlmutter did not return home empty-handed. He brought a family of four evacuees back with him and is still working with Baton Rouge volunteer Hollis Barry to facilitate the relocation of additional hurricane victims to Pennsylvania.

He also returned with a sense of outrage. "I have been trying to call Sen. Arlen Specter (of Pennsylvania) to let him know of our experience.

"I have been going to Ecuador and Mexico (on medical missions) for 14 years. I was at ground zero. I've seen hundreds of people die. This was different because we knew the hurricane was coming. FEMA showed up late and then rejected help for the sake of organization. They put form before function, and people died."

Both FEMA and the Coast Guard operate under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which has been widely criticized for its disjointed, slow response to the devastation caused by Katrina. Federal officials are urging medical personnel who want to volunteer to help with disaster relief to contact the Medical Reserve Corps or the American Red Cross for registration, training and organization.

Link Here

Suicide car bomb hits joint US-Iraqi convoy :

FALLUJAH, Iraq, Sept. 17 (Xinhuanet) -- A suicide car bomber blew himself up near a joint US and Iraqi military convoy in the restive city of Fallujah on Saturday, witnesses said.

"A suicide bomber drove his explosive packed car into a joint US and Iraqi convoy in the industrial area in Fallujah, destroying two vehicles belong to the Iraqi army," Abdul-Rahman, a local resident told Xinhua.

All the soldiers aboard were either killed or wounded, he said,adding that the blast also killed a civilian and wounded two others.

US and Iraqi troops blocked the entrances of the city,surrounding and isolating al-Shurta and Jughaifi neighborhoods, he said.

Fighting in the mainly Sunni Arab Fallujah, some 50 km west of Baghdad, still flares as sporadic attacks were launched from time to time against the US troops and Iraqi governmental forces. Enditem

Link Here

Media Matters for America

Here are the latest items from Media Matters for America, click on 'read more' to read the entire item.
WSJ, AP left out key information in reports on Mississippi lawsuit against insurance companies
In reports on Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood's lawsuit against five U.S. insurance companies alleging deceptive trade practices for their denial of water damage claims caused by Hurricane Katrina, The Wall Street Journal made only perfunctory reference and the Associated Press none at all to a key element of the case. Hood claims that these companies are offering policyholders immediate funds to cover living expenses only in exchange for signing waivers stating that damage to their property was caused by flooding, which the insurers are claiming is not covered by their policies.

Suicide car bomber kills 30

FEMA, Slow to the Rescue, Now Stumbles in Aid Effort

Published: September 17, 2005

BATON ROUGE, La., Sept 16 - Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Katrina cut its devastating path, FEMA - the same federal agency that botched the rescue mission - is faltering in its effort to aid hundreds of thousands of storm victims, local officials, evacuees and top federal relief officials say. The federal aid hot line mentioned by President Bush in his address to the nation on Thursday cannot handle the flood of calls, leaving thousands of people unable to get through for help, day after day.

Federal officials are often unable to give local governments permission to proceed with fundamental tasks to get their towns running again. Most areas in the region still lack federal help centers, the one-stop shopping sites for residents in need of aid for their homes or families. Officials say that they are uncertain whether they can meet the president's goal of providing housing for 100,000 people who are now in shelters by the middle of next month.

While the agency has redoubled its efforts to get food, money and temporary shelter to the storm victims, serious problems remain throughout the affected region. Visits to several towns in Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as interviews with dozens of local and federal officials, provide a portrait of a fragmented and dysfunctional system.

The top two federal relief officials in charge of the effort both acknowledged in interviews late this week that they too have listened to the frustrated voices of local officials and citizens alike, and find their complaints valid.

"It is not happening fast enough, effective enough and it is not impacting the people at the bottom as quickly as it should," said Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, standing along the waterfront in New Orleans on Friday. "I have heard frustrations." >>>continued

Link Here

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. | We Must Take America Back

Robert Kennedy Jr.: "These people love the war; they just wanted somebody else to fight it. And it occurs to me that the reason for that is that these are people who don't understand the values that makes America worth fighting for. But America is worth fighting for and it's worth dying for. Those of us who know that it's worth fighting for have to take it back now from those who don't."

We Must Take America Back By Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. t r u t h o u t Speech
Saturday 17 September 2005
Speech delivered at the Sierra Summit 2005 San Francisco, California

I want to tell you how proud I am to accept the William O. Douglas Award.

Link Here

Republicans Join in Call for Release of 9/11 Report on CIA

By Douglas Jehl
The New York Times

Saturday 17 September 2005

Washington - Senior Republican members of Congress have joined Democrats in asking Porter J. Goss, the CIA director, to declassify and make public an internal agency report that criticizes his predecessor, George J. Tenet, and others for lapses on terrorism in advance of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The requests were sent last week by leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, said members of Congress and their aides. They add to the pressures on Mr. Goss, who has made clear that he would prefer not to make the report public, at least in part because its publication could be damaging to the agency's morale.

Mr. Goss is also still weighing difficult decisions about whether to impose any kind of disciplinary action against the dozen or so current and former intelligence officials, including Mr. Tenet, who are said to have been singled out in the report.

The report was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency inspector general, John L. Helgerson, at the request of the joint Congressional committee that completed its own review in 2002 of the Sept. 11 attacks. Mr. Goss delivered a highly classified version of the document to Capitol Hill last month, and Mr. Helgerson has briefed the Intelligence Committees on his findings, but distribution of the report has otherwise remained very limited.

The CIA spokeswoman, Jennifer Millerwise Dyck, declined on Friday to comment on whether Mr. Goss might agree to make the report public. She said that the agency's focus remained on "improvements in all we do" and that Mr. Helgerson had acted "as required by law" in preparing the report and presenting it to Congress.

Mr. Tenet has prepared a lengthy rebuttal to the report, and people close to him have denounced the report as unfair. But in a telephone interview on Friday, Representative Peter Hoekstra, the Michigan Republican who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he believed that Mr. Helgerson had conducted a "thorough and balanced review" and that the public deserved to know whether intelligence officials were being held accountable for any failures.

A spokeswoman for Senator Pat Roberts, the Kansas Republican who is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he had told Mr. Goss in making his request that "there is material in the report that the public should know."

Until last week, only the top Democrats on each panel, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia and Representative Jane Harman of California, had called for Mr. Helgerson's report to be made public. The White House has not commented on the issue.

Any decision on whether to declassify the report remains in the hands of Mr. Goss, who has the authority to keep it secret. But Mr. Goss is in a difficult position, in part because he was the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee at the time he and other members of Congress initially requested the report. He must also contend with relatives of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, who have wielded considerable political clout and who have joined in asking for the report to be made public.

In the telephone interview, Mr. Hoekstra said he recognized that any effort to make the report public was "going to be difficult." He described the subject as "very sensitive," and said, "It's very difficult to do an honest appraisal of a lot of people's personal and professional performance without demeaning them, and to do it fairly and in hindsight."

But he also described himself as "pretty impressed" with the quality of Mr. Helgerson's review.

Mr. Hoekstra's request, in a Sept. 8 letter to Mr. Goss, was also signed by Ms. Harman, Congressional officials from both parties said. The letter also urged that Mr. Goss order a separate review of the comments submitted by Mr. Tenet and other current and former intelligence officials in response to the report, to determine if they, too, should be declassified and made public.

A spokeswoman for Senator Rockefeller, Wendy Morigi, said that he supported Mr. Roberts's request that the internal CIA report be declassified and that he "hopes that as much of it as possible is made available to the public."

Current and former government officials who have seen Mr. Helgerson's report or been briefed on it have said it faulted Mr. Tenet as failing to develop a strategic plan against Al Qaeda and carry it out in the years before 2001. Others who are said to be criticized in the document include James L. Pavitt, the former deputy director of operations, and J. Cofer Black, the former director of the agency's Counterterrorist Center, though the report also offers praise for some specific actions taken by them and others, they said.

Mr. Tenet is specifically censured, even after he wrote in a 1998 memorandum to intelligence agencies that "we are at war" with Al Qaeda, according to the officials, who have agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity, because the report itself remains highly classified. But Mr. Tenet's supporters have argued that a CIA effort known as "The Plan," instituted in 1998, amounted to exactly such a strategy.

In its report last year, the independent commission on the Sept. 11 attacks cited that 1998 plan as evidence that the CIA, under Mr. Tenet, was the most proactive agency within the government in trying to counter the terrorist threat.


Link Here

Taxing Oil Profits Could Generate $10 Billion for Katrina Efforts

Taxing Oil Profits Could Generate $10 Billion for Katrina Efforts
Center for Economic Policy and Research Press Release

Thursday 15 September 2005

Washington - Hurricane Katrina's financial impact could be reduced by $10 billion through a tax on windfall profits from the oil industry, according to calculations by the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

The calculations, which appear in a new paper, "Taxing Exxon's Windfall From Hurricane Katrina," by economist Dean Baker, are based on the sharp run-up in oil industry profits due to recent shortages of crude oil and refined products like gasoline and jet fuel. If just one-third of the industry's unexpected profits are taxed back by the government, it could raise more than $10 billion a year to finance the relief effort.

The need for public money for immediate relief and reconstruction will likely exceed $100 billion, and could run as high as $150-$200 billion (6-8 percent of the federal budget). With the federal government already facing large budget deficits, Congress is looking at new revenue sources to cover Hurricane Katrina costs, including legislation to create a tax on the oil industry's windfall profits.

Since the oil industry anticipated much lower prices when it made its investment and production decisions, it can cover its costs and make a normal profit at prices that are less than half the $60-$70 a barrel price now seen in world markets. This surge in prices has led to an unexpected glut of profits for the oil industry. The oil industry's profits were running at annual rate of $62.8 billion in the first quarter of 2005, several months before the most recent run-up in prices. This compares to an average of just $24.3 billion (in 2005 dollars) over the last five years. The world's largest oil company, Exxon Mobil, will likely have over $10 billion in profits this quarter.

Link Here

The Crony Who Prospered

By Mark Benjamin

Joe Allbaugh was George W. Bush's good ol' boy in Texas. He hired his good friend Mike Brown to run FEMA. Now Brownie's gone and Allbaugh is living large.
George W. Bush relied most heavily on three trusted staffers in his bid for the White House in 2000: political strategist Karl Rove, communications czar Karen Hughes and national campaign manager Joe Allbaugh, who had been Bush's chief of staff in Texas, when Bush was governor. The three were dubbed the "iron triangle" of Bush's top staff. Allbaugh was "the enforcer," says Texan Robert Bryce, the author of "Cronies," about Bush and the oil industry. "And he looked the part: crew-cut, cowboy boots, and just slightly smaller than a side-by-side refrigerator."

When Bush moved into the Oval Office, Hughes took a job as counselor in a spacious White House corner office with a view of the Truman balcony. Rove moved in as senior advisor. Allbaugh, on the other hand, went down the road to C Street in southwest Washington to take over the Federal Emergency Management Agency.


"Everybody thought [Allbaugh] was going to be White House chief of staff," Robert Novak said on CNN at the time. "And your initial reaction is, boy, what did he have against Allbaugh? But as I talked to politicians, they say this was a brilliant maneuver because FEMA is very important, politically, to any president dealing with disasters."

The FEMA director has turned out to have political consequences for the president all right, but not the kind that Bush supporters could have ever envisioned. Critics say Allbaugh hastened the decline of FEMA - even before he turned the agency over to his buddy from Oklahoma, Michael D. Brown, the hapless captain when Katrina struck, whose political career appears to have been shipwrecked for good.

As for the president, a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 54 percent of Americans disapprove of his response to Katrina. Allbaugh, meanwhile, has risen above the morass. He and his wife, Diane, now work as Washington lobbyists and consultants for such companies as Halliburton and Northrop Grumman, companies involved in homeland security and disaster relief that do business with the federal government.

When Allbaugh inherited FEMA in February 2001, the relief agency may have been in its best shape since its inception in 1979. It had been in the hands of James Lee Witt for the previous seven years. Witt was an experienced disaster manager who had been the director of the Arkansas Office of Emergency Services for four years before going to FEMA. Witt is credited with implementing sweeping reforms to speed disaster relief, and he was the first FEMA director to get Cabinet-level status - and crucial access - to the president. "Access to the president, I think, is critical in an agency like this," Witt told reporters over lunch just as he was leaving FEMA.

Bush, however, did not hand the FEMA reins to Allbaugh because of any long experience in emergency services. "Look at Joe Allbaugh's qualifications," says Eric Holdeman, director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management, who last month penned an editorial in the Washington Post, "Destroying FEMA." "He was campaign manager for Bush. He was a political strategist. He saw FEMA as a federal entitlement program for people. He had no interest in the mission and functions of the emergency management agency."

However, at FEMA, Allbaugh led federal rescue efforts at Ground Zero with apparently good results, though New York City officials, notably Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, got most of the attention. Allbaugh could also move fast. In February 2001, the Nisqually earthquake in Washington state occurred at 11 a.m. By 11 p.m., Allbaugh was in the Puget Sound area, leading a $157 million response.

Following the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Allbaugh backed plans to fold FEMA into the Department of Homeland Security. "I fully support FEMA's transfer into the new department and commit myself to ensuring its success," Allbaugh told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in September 2002. "This is the right action, at the right time, for the good of the country."

In March 2003, FEMA was folded into DHS. FEMA critic Holdeman explains that the move stripped the FEMA director of Cabinet-level status, buried the agency in red tape, and caused key talent to flee. DHS employees now rate it as one of the worst places to work in the federal government, according to a nonprofit agency's report, "Best Places to Work in the Federal Government," released this week. "FEMA first became ill with the appointment of Joe Allbaugh," Holdeman says. Not only is it on the back burner of DHS priorities, he says, "it is not even on the stove."

After FEMA's move to DHS, Allbaugh promptly left the agency. "I have been a longtime advocate for the Department of Homeland Security, and now that it is a reality and the president has a great team in place, I feel I can move on to my next challenge," he said in a statement. Of course, before he drove off, he appointed the now infamous Brown as team leader, whom he had brought to FEMA in 2001 as general counsel. Appearing before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee in June 2002, Brown said: "My friend, Joe Allbaugh, whom I have known for some 25 years, has asked me to serve with him. Our friendship goes back many years."

Allbaugh graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1975, the same year Brown moved from Southeastern Oklahoma State University to the University of Central Oklahoma. (It has been incorrectly reported that Allbaugh and Brown were college roommates. They did not attend the same college and were never college roommates.) Both were active in Oklahoma municipal or state government. Allbaugh was once the Oklahoma deputy secretary of transportation, and Brown was the staff director of the Oklahoma Senate Finance Committee from 1980 to 1982.

Patti Giglio, Allbaugh's spokeswoman, says Allbaugh is unavailable for interviews. She says that she is not sure exactly how Allbaugh and Brown met in Oklahoma, but that Allbaugh is "absolutely" responsible for first bringing Brown to FEMA. "He hired him because he was a solid attorney with a strong ethics background," she says.

Like Allbaugh himself, Brown was no veteran of emergency services. He worked as general counsel for Dillingham Insurance in Enid, Okla., from 1988 to 1991, and evaluated judges for the International Arabian Horse Association for the 10 years ending in 2001.

Brown's sole piece of emergency experience before FEMA came in the 1970s, working for the city of Edmond, Okla. In the spring of 2002, Brown delivered written biographical materials to a Senate panel considering his nomination to FEMA as a political appointee. In those papers, Brown said he worked as "Assistant City Manger, Police, Fire & Emergency Response," in Edmond from 1975 to 1978. He signed an affidavit stating that his biographical material and written answers to that Senate panel were "current, accurate and complete."

However, Edmond city spokeswoman Claudia Deakins says city records list Brown as an "assistant to the city manager" - as opposed to "assistant city manager" - from August 1977 through September 1980. Randel Shadid was on the Edmond City Council from 1979 to 1991 and was mayor from 1991 through 1995. He says he remembers Brown and described the Edmond job as relatively low level. "My best I can recall he was an assistant to the city manager, which basically means he did certain tasks for the city manager," he says. "He would not have been in charge of the police and fire departments. We had a fire chief and a police chief."

Shadid says Brown may have assisted the city in preparing a response plan for a tornado or a freight train spill. "He was a nice guy, hard worker and pretty bright," he says. "But the scope of doing anything in the city of Edmond is nowhere near the scope of trying to handle what's going on in the gulf."

Today, with the disgraced Brown having quit FEMA, and President Bush's post-Katrina poll numbers sinking, Allbaugh continues to prosper. His stint at FEMA has proven to be lucrative for him and his wife Diane, who are lobbyists and consultants for the Allbaugh Co.

A review by Salon of lobbying registration records shows that seven months after Allbaugh left what was to become the Department of Homeland Security, Diane Allbaugh registered as a lobbyist with three companies to work on homeland security or disaster relief issues. Prior to that, she focused almost exclusively on energy companies and electric utility clients.

Records also show that Diane Allbaugh contacted DHS for undisclosed reasons on behalf of two of those clients. She did less than $10,000 of work for each company and all three contracts were terminated in the summer of 2004.

Washington is full of folks in power with spouses who are lobbyists. Allbaugh's spokeswoman, Giglio, points out that Diane has her own substantial credentials as an attorney and a lobbyist. "Her work is much broader than 'electric utility lobbyist,' as you have described it," Giglio says in an e-mail. "She is an experienced government affairs consultant across many industry sectors."

Federal ethics law bars senior employees from contacting their former employers on business matters for a period of one year. But not necessarily their spouses. Scott Amey, general counsel at the Project on Government Oversight, says it is unclear if Diane violated any of a complex web of ethics laws, but there are provisions intended to prevent the use of spouses to skirt restrictions.

It is not the first time Diane's lobbying could be perceived as cashing in on her husband's connections. Then-governor Bush in 1996 learned from a report in the Dallas Morning News that Diane had been hired by Texas utility companies who had business before the state. Diane and Joe Allbaugh had moved to Texas from Oklahoma because Joe had become Bush's executive assistant. The paper said Diane could get $250,000 from the companies, even though she "had no previous experience with Texas legislators." Diane later dropped the clients to avoid the "perception of a conflict," she wrote Bush's general counsel.

This year, the Allbaugh Co. registered to lobby for Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, Northrop Grumman Corp., and Shaw Group, according to lobbying registration forms. In all three cases, the Allbaughs said they would "educate Congress" on either homeland security or disaster relief issues on the companies' behalf.

The Washington Post reported last week that Allbaugh was in Baton Rouge, La., helping his clients get business in the wake of Katrina. Allbaugh told the Post that he guides his clients toward "entities" that might need their services but, he said, "I don't do government contracts."

Press reports show that Kellogg Brown & Root received a $30 million contract to rebuild Navy bases in Louisiana and Mississippi, and Shaw got a $100 million FEMA contract for housing construction and management. Giglio says Allbaugh had nothing to do with those contracts at all. "He is not in the government contracting business," she says. "Everybody is trying to connect the dots. They just don't connect. He did not secure these contracts for either of these companies."

Watchdog Amey says Allbaugh clearly got the job at FEMA because he was a political operative and he appears to be cashing in on his FEMA post now. "Bush may have stacked the [FEMA] administration with people who may not have been the most qualified, and who then steer business their way afterward. Cronyism gets them into the White House. The revolving door gets them business."

Mark Benjamin is a national correspondent for Salon based in Washington, DC.

Link Here

Journalists under Attack in Louisianna and Iraq

New Orleans Police Harass Independent Journalist
Democracy Now

Friday 16 September 2005

As President Bush says he'll rebuild New Orleans, we speak with Hip Hop activist and independent journalist Rosa Clemente about the crackdown in the shelters. She describes being harassed by a New Orleans police officer while doing interviews at a Red Cross shelter. [includes rush transcript] Yesterday evening President Bush addressed the nation from the devastated city of New Orleans. He spoke in Jackson Square, in the heart of the French Quarter and said that the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina will be one of the largest reconstruction projects the world has ever seen. He also acknowledged that the government failed to respond adequately to the disaster. African Americans have been particularly angered by the government response to the disaster, with an overwhelming majority telling pollsters they believe help would have come quicker if so many of the people stranded had not been poor and black. Bush seemed to be responding to those charges by mentioning the role of persistent poverty in the region.

We speak with activist Rosa Clemente who recently returned from New Orleans.

Rush Transcript

Amy Goodman: Yesterday evening President Bush addressed the nation from the devastated city of New Orleans. He spoke in Jackson Square, in the heart of the French Quarter and said that the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina will be one of the largest reconstruction projects the world has ever seen. He also acknowledged that the government failed to respond adequately to the disaster. African Americans have been particularly angered by the government response to the disaster, with an overwhelming majority telling pollsters they believe help would have come quicker if so many of the people stranded had not been poor and black. Bush seemed to be responding to those charges by mentioning the role of persistent poverty in the region.

George W. Bush: When communities are rebuilt, they must be even better and stronger than before the storm. Within the Gulf region are some of the most beautiful and historic places in America. As all of us saw on television, there's also some deep, persistent poverty in this region, as well. That poverty has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America. We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action. So let us restore all that we have cherished from yesterday, and let us rise above the legacy of inequality. When the streets are rebuilt, there should be many new businesses, including minority-owned businesses, along those streets. When the houses are rebuilt, more families should own, not rent, those houses. When the regional economy revives, local people should be prepared for the jobs being created. Americans want the Gulf Coast not just to survive, but to thrive; not just to cope, but to overcome. We want evacuees to come home, for the best of reasons - because they have a real chance at a better life in a place they love.

Amy Goodman: President Bush speaking in New Orleans. He faced the nation at a vulnerable point in his presidency. Most Americans disapprove of his handling of the hurricane, and his job approval rating is at the lowest point of his presidency. In his speech, Bush promised to review the government response and cooperate in a congressional investigation into what went wrong. He also said a disaster on the scale of Katrina requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces.

George W. Bush: I also want to know all the facts about the government response to Hurricane Katrina. The storm involved a massive flood, a major supply and security operation, and an evacuation order affecting more than a million people. It was not a normal hurricane - and the normal disaster relief system was not equal to it. Many of the men and women of the Coast Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the United States military, the National Guard, Homeland Security, and state and local governments performed skillfully under the worst conditions. Yet the system, at every level of government, was not well-coordinated, and was overwhelmed in the first few days. It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces - the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moment's notice. Four years after the frightening experience of September the 11th, Americans have every right to expect a more effective response in a time of emergency. When the federal government fails to meet such an obligation, I as President, am responsible for the problem, and for the solution.

Amy Goodman: President Bush speaking on Thursday from New Orleans. We're now joined by Rosa Clemente. She's a Malcolm X fellow for the Institute of the Black World and an organizer with the Malcolm X Grass Roots Movement. She just drove in from New Orleans. Welcome to Democracy Now!.

Rosa Clemente: Thanks for having me, Amy.

Amy Goodman: Well, you had quite an experience for the brief time you were there. Talk about why you were there and what happened?

Rosa Clemente: I felt I needed to go, particularly as a younger person of color. I think this is a watershed moment for particularly black and people of African descent in America, and I wanted to be there. I didn't want it to be filtered through anyone's eyes but my own and my partner who went down with me, Brad Young. And it's just - It was my duty to be there, to be able to report back particularly to the hip hop generation, and I was also very upset at the low, low numbers of people of color, journalists, that I saw on the ground. The only ones I really saw were folks from CNN and mainstream media, and as I'm a proud member of alternative and progressive media here in New York, it was my duty to be there.

Amy Goodman: So, what happened when you went, particularly to look at the shelters? You went where, to the -

Rosa Clemente: Well, first we went to New Orleans, and actually, we went to the Convention Center and, you know, just saw real estate speculators there and Blackwater mercenaries protecting property and didn't realize that the Marriott and the Wyndham hotel were across the Convention Center and began to ask the question: Why weren't those hotels taken over as eminent domain? That's the question I have. If someone can take my private property for - to build a highway or a medical facility, why were these hotels not opened to let these people not languish in what can only be described as a living hell. And to see the militarization. We then went to Algiers and spent the day with Malik Rahim. We could not leave because of the curfew, and that was a first experience for me. It was an experience to have an M-16 pointed at my car and from -

Amy Goodman: What do you mean?

Rosa Clemente: When we got on I-10 West, we went to a military checkpoint, and when we pulled up, three of the National Guards just had M-16's pointed at the front of the car, and the side door and the side door, the two front doors. Then we went to the next military checkpoint, and they told us we could not go in at all. We snuck in and we got on Canal Street and we worked our way through that whole area. We then went to Algiers again to spend the day with Malik Rahim and also see the levee, and see what's going on with that and to see the amazing work that Malik Rahim and Indymedia folks are doing by setting up a command center. It was amazing to be there to see that being built.

Amy Goodman: And I encourage people to go to our website, Democracynow.org. We also went with Malik, a community organizer in the Algiers neighborhood, right to the health center which was around the corner. It's closed, the Arthur Monday Health Center. But in the driveway has been a dead body for two weeks. And as he was telling us that he has told every level of authority, concerned about disease, the disrespect to the bodies, been there since the day of the hurricane, every level of that authority drove by, and we went up to them and asked them, "There's a dead body here, will you be picking it up?" Louisiana State Police, the New Orleans Police, the National Guard, the Army, the First Cav, the Department of Homeland Security, an ambulance drove by, and yet this has been going on for two weeks.

Rosa Clemente: Yeah. I mean, I think the one thing that struck me was the smell, when I realized that it's the smell of death in the air of New Orleans, and that was just shocking because I have only kind of seen that on TV, right, and when people make that face, but - and we saw things that looked like body parts, but of course, I just couldn't look - but it didn't look - it looked like human body parts that had been mutilated in the garbage cans behind the Convention Center. As of Monday, when we looked in the Convention Center, you could see the remnants of everything, and just - it's just horrific just to see that. So, Malik had told us about that that dead body that I think was finally picked up.

Amy Goodman: Oh, really? Well that would have been in the last few days. Talk about the shelter where people who have been evacuated are staying, where you tried to document?

Rosa Clemente: Yeah. We then went to the Baton Rouge River Center, which is the largest shelter in Louisiana, seven miles away from Governor Blanco's mansion. She has not visited there. We were asking residents, "How many times has the Governor come here to visit?" They said, "Not one time." There's about four thousand people in that shelter. It's supposed to be, "one of the best-run American Red Cross shelters." It can only be described as a prison. Everyone we talked to in there said it was a prison-like facility. Well, you have to go through metal detectors to get in. There's a curfew. When we did get in there and had registered earlier with the Red Cross as media, we were then stopped - the National Guard let us in, and us being someone that was traveling with us, a lawyer, and the videographer, Brad Young.

When we got in there, the National Guard let us in, but then the Baton Rouge Police Department said something to the National Guard and the National Guard said, "You can't come in. You're not media." "What do you mean, I'm not media. Here's my press pass." "Well, you're not the media I know." And I said, "Who I do talk to?" And they said, "An American Red Cross volunteer." They sent someone over and the American Red Cross volunteer said, "You're over time. Interviews can only happen up until 6:00 p.m." I said, "I called the Red Cross and in fact, I see CNN in here with a camera. So, what's going on?" So, we were audio - you know, I was - I had my mini disc on and Brad had his camera on and then the - it was the Baton Rouge Police officer who said, "Turn your equipment off." We said, "We're not turning our equipment off until we're told by someone from the American Red Cross. You don't run this shelter. You are here to enforce the law." He said, "I'm here to do whatever I want. Turn it off." We refused to. He then grabbed Brad, threw him over the table, and pulled out the handcuffs and went to arrest him.

Something ensued in that point. I was not watching. I was more mini-discing the kind of chaos because then the people coming in started to kind of stop and say, "What's going on? Why can't they videotape?" People were noticing, "Well, they're the only black people here. Why are you not stopping those other people on the corner, right here, the CNN crew?" And Brad got escorted out along with the lawyer that was with me. I was left there. The officers said, "I want your tape." "Why do you want my tape?" He said, "Because you said my name into the tape." I said, "Your name is public information." He said, "You're slandering me, give me your tape." He went to grab my mini disc and I backed up, and he said, "You're under arrest." I said, "Am I being detained?" He said, "No, you're under arrest." He then begins to call for his backup, backup, and I said, "Well what are you going to do?" He goes, "Come over here." I said, "You are going to have to grab me and you are going to have to physically - you are going to have to put handcuffs on me." He said, "Give me your mini disc; I'm not going to ask you again." So, I popped the tape out. I put it in my pants and I handed him the mini disc. I said "Here's the mini disc. You didn't ask for the tape. If you want the tape, you have to strip search me in public." He called for backup again. I said, "Am I under arrest?" "You're under arrest." "Can I leave?" "You're under arrest." The Lieutenant came with three other people, I guess more superior to him, and they whispered, had a little conversation. The Lieutenant goes, who are you with? I said "I'm here with Pacifica - I'm a reporter with Pacifica radio. I'm also corresponding for many - the Bev Smith Show", and I gave him the rundown. He said, "Let me see your press credentials." I showed it to him. He said, "On behalf of the Baton Rouge Police Department, Miss Clemente, we apologize. You're free to go."

We then went outside and stayed until curfew, which is 10 p.m. and got amazing interviews with some young men who actually said "I'd rather be in prison because at least in prison, I have information." When we asked them what that meant, what it meant is that they're not - they don't get papers. For four thousand people, there's only three TVs. For four thousand people there's only three computers. They can only go on the computer not to access websites but to download FEMA forms. Then they download these FEMA forms, but many people are illiterate. There's no one there to help them. There were no Spanish language translators although there's a sizable Latino population in there. There's a Filipino and Vietnamese population, and no translators for them. So they have other people kind of looking out for them. You know, they are giving kids - the Church of Scientology is the biggest organization in there. There was about forty of them. What they do is every hour they go and give kids lollipops and little juices, and potato chips. We asked the young men "What kind of food are you getting?" They get a bagel and orange juice in the morning. They get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich during the day, and they get ravioli with some type of white sauce, a scoop of corn and a piece of bread. Some of the young men are not allowed to wear sneakers because if they're already labeled as a, quote, "gang member", they're not allowing them to wear sneakers. They have to wear what we call "prison slippers". I mean, just - Amy, it just goes on and on and on.

Amy Goodman: Well, if people want to see your reports, you can go to Rosa's website at rosaclemente.com. Rosa, thanks for being with us.

Rosa Clemente: Amy, thank you so much for having me.

Link Here

FOCUS | Corruption Hobbles the Rebuilding of Iraq

Even in Iraqi City Cited as Model,

Rebuilding Efforts Are Hobbled

Published: September 18, 2005

NAJAF, Iraq - In April, Najaf's main maternity hospital received rare good news: an $8 million refurbishment program financed by the United States would begin immediately. But five months and millions of dollars later, the hospital administrators say they have little but frustration to show for it.

They keep saying there's renovation but, frankly, we don't see it," said Liqaa al-Yassin, director of the hospital, her exasperated face framed by a black hijab, or scarf. "Each day I sign in 80 workers, and sometimes I see them, sometimes I don't."

She walks a visitor through the hospital's hot, dim halls, the peeling linoleum on the floors stained by the thousands of lighted cigarettes crushed underfoot. Anxious women, draped in black head-to-foot chadors, or veils, sit in the sultry rooms fanning their sick children.

"My child has heart problems, she can't take this heat," pleaded one mother as Dr. Yassin walked past.

The United States has poured more than $200 million into reconstruction projects in this city, part of the $10 billion it has spent to rebuild Iraq. Najaf is widely cited by the military as one of the success stories in that effort, but American officers involved in the rebuilding say that reconstruction projects here, as elsewhere in the country, are hobbled by poor planning, corrupt contractors and a lack of continuity among the rotating coalition officers charged with overseeing the spending.

"This country is filled with projects that were never completed or were completed and have never been used," said a frustrated civil affairs officer who asked not to be identified because he had not been cleared to speak about the reconstruction.

Najaf would seem to be one of Iraq's most promising places to rebuild. As a Shiite holy place, it has few Sunnis and, as a result, none of the insurgent attacks and sabotage that plague other parts of the country. Just a year after fighting between American forces and Shiite militias left much of the city in smoking ruins, a new police force is patrolling the streets and security in the city has been handed over to Iraqis.

There are some successes. The Army Corps of Engineers has finished refurbishing several police and fire stations, one of which has shiny new fire engines donated by Japan. It is spending tens of thousands of dollars to refurbish crumbling schools and has replaced aging clay water pipes in the suburb of Kufa with more durable plastic ones. It is even spending half a million dollars to renovate the city's soccer stadium, putting in new lights and laying fresh sod.

But in a series of interviews, American military officers and Iraqi officials involved in the reconstruction described a pattern of failures and frustrations that Army officers who have worked in other parts of Iraq say are routine. Residents complain that the many of the city's critical needs remain unfulfilled and the Army concedes that many projects it has financed are far behind schedule. Officers with the American military say that corruption and poor oversight are largely to blame.

"We were told to stimulate the economy any way we can, and a lot of money was wasted in the process," said Capt. Kelly Mims, part of the Army liaison team that maintains an office in Najaf's local government building. "Now we're focused on spending the money more wisely."

He said the Army was forming a committee with provincial authorities to create a master list of all current and future projects so that the money goes where it is most needed.

Several agencies are charged with reconstruction in Iraq. In Najaf it is primarily the work of the Army Corps of Engineers and the United States Agency for International Development.

They award some projects to foreign contractors, many of them American companies that hold master contracts for reconstruction work. Other projects are awarded directly to Iraqi companies, but even the American companies subcontract much of the work to Iraqis. A handful of Army reservists and civilian employees hand out cash to Iraqi contractors and try to keep track of the projects they underwrite.

But American officers say there is almost no oversight after a contractor is given the job. The Army pays small Iraqi contractors in installments - 10 percent at the outset, 40 percent when the work is half done, 40 percent on completion and the final 10 percent after fixing problems identified in a final inspection. On larger projects, contractors are paid by the month, regardless of how much work is actually done.

Penalty clauses for missing deadlines are rare, and some contractors drag out their projects for months, officers say, then demand more money and threaten to walk away if it is not forthcoming.

">1 2 3 Next Page >

Link Here

Anti-war protesters back in court for spilling blood

Associated Press Writer

September 17, 2005, 1:24 PM EDT

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- Four anti-war protesters who spilled their own blood at a military recruiting station accused the Bush administration of trying to intimidate them and others from demonstrating against the Iraq war by prosecuting them in federal court.

The four defendants _ dubbed "the St. Patrick's Four" for their March 17, 2003 protest _ go on trial in U.S. District Court beginning Monday. The U.S. Attorney's Office decided to prosecute the four following a mistrial in April 2004 in Tompkins County Court, where the 12-person jury ended in a deadlock after nine members voted to acquit the protesters.

.S. Attorney Glenn Suddaby and Tompkins County District Attorney George Dentes declined to discuss the case and the reasons the federal government was proceeding with the prosecution.

"This is part of the right wing agenda," said Daniel Burns, a 45-year-old father of two from Ithaca, one of the four defendants. "Anyone who disagrees with this administration and dares to show it gets the crap beat out of them."

To back his accusation, Burns ran off the names of former administration officials who ran afoul of Bush: Paul O'Neill, his first treasury secretary, who was fired after expressing misgivings about the need for additional tax cuts; economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey who was ousted after estimating that the cost of the Iraq war would be higher than what Bush was publicly saying; and Valerie Plame, the CIA agent whose identity was leaked following public criticism leveled against the Bush White House by Plame's husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

"They punish anyone who criticizes them. It is nothing short of fascism," said Burns, an independent documentary filmmaker who said he paints houses and walks dogs to make ends meet. Burns' father was former Binghamton Mayor John Burns, who also headed the New York State Democratic Committee.

"The federal government is clearly trying to make an example of these people and intimidate future nonviolent protesters by charging these folks with conspiracy," said Bill Quigley, a law professor at Loyola University acting as legal adviser to the four defendants, who are representing themselves.

Two days before the invasion of Iraq, Burns and co-defendants Peter DeMott, 58; and sisters, Teresa Grady, 39; and Clare Grady, 46; were arrested at a U.S. Army and Marine Corps recruiting station at a mall in Lansing, about 65 miles south of Syracuse. During the protest, they splattered their blood onto the windows and walls, posters, pictures and an American flag.

The four are members of Catholic Worker, a social justice organization with 130 communities in the United States. They contend the U.S. war in Iraq is illegal and said they were upholding international law in a justifiable nonviolent protest.

Burns and DeMott were previously convicted of trespassing at the recruiting station in December 2002 and each spent a week in jail.

The four were tried on charges of trespassing and criminal mischief, misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in jail.

After the mistrial, Dentes said rather than run the risk of another hung jury, he would turn the case over to federal prosecutors.

If convicted in federal court, each could face up to six years in prison and fines as high as $250,000 on the primary charge of conspiracy to impede an officer of the United States. They also are charged with damaging governmental property and entering a military station for unlawful purposes.

The prosecution is unusual but not unprecedented, said Barrie Gewanter, head of the Central New York chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. Gewanter said the federal government has been fairly consistent about pursuing prosecutions where the protests involved damage to government property.

While the ACLU does not support acts of civil disobedience _ even nonviolent ones _ it is concerned about how the government is handling this case, she said.

"It seems the government has decided they weren't punished enough," Gewanter said. "This appears to be about more than just keeping order and enforcing the law ... this suggests the government is more motivated by the message than by the conduct of the defendants and is retaliating for that message and opposition to government policy."

Link Here


God, who is looking after all this money, the Red Cross where with FEMA, and the Bush Administration in delaying the rescue, and evacuation of New Orleans, Follow the Money America and know whose pockets it is going into to.

15:44 IST
The Indian Air Force IL-76 aircraft has delivered the 25 tonnes of relief supplies for the hurricane Katrina victims at the Little Rock Air Force base, Arkansas. The relief supplies comprised 3000 blankets, bed sheets, tarpaulins and personal hygiene items.

The IAF’s IL-76 was received by Brig General self, Station Commander of the Air Force base. Little Rock air base has been designated as the hub center for the International Relief Missions in USA. It is learnt that the IAF’s IL-76 was the 35th aircraft from 20th country to have arrived at Little Rock Air Force base.

It may be recollected that the IAF’s IL-76 took off from Palam airport on 10 Sep 05 and had reached USA after routing via Muscat, Cairo, Lisbon, Lajes and Boston. The aircraft is scheduled to return to India Ex-Boston on 17 Sep 05.

The Indian Ambassador in Washington had last week presented a cheque of 5,000,000 US Dollars to Red Cross as aid to Katrina victims.


Link Here


Saturday, September 17, 2005

Note: Palast and Cindy Sheehan will be speaking at the Operation Ceasefire concert sponsored by DC Anti-War Network and United for Peace and Justice -- all day and night at the Washington Monument.

by Greg Palast

During his debate with Salman Rushdie at the recent Edinburgh TV Festival, someone asked George Galloway if television should broadcast an adaptation of Rushdie's novel, "Satanic Verses." According to Rushdie, Galloway replied, "If you don't respect religion, you have to suffer the consequences."

Holy Jesus! This was, unmistakably, an endorsement of the death-sentence fatwa issued against Rushdie by Ayatollah Khomeini.

Add this endorsement of killing for God to Galloway's notorious opposition in Parliament to a woman's right to choose abortion, and you get yourself a British Pat Robertson. What next? Will he be "saluting the courage, strength and indefatigability" of abortion clinic bombers, as he saluted Saddam?

The Honorable Member of Britain's House of Commons has become the new love-child of American progressives for his in-your-face accusations about our own government's mendacity in sending our troops to war in Iraq. I myself quoted Galloway with admiration.

But the man who saluted the "courage" of Saddam Hussein in 1994, who today can't and won't account for nearly a million dollars in income and expenditures for a charity he founded to buy medicine for Iraqi children is not, friends, the best choice as our anti-war spokesman.

Where did this guy come from? Who invited him here? The answer: US Senate REPUBLICANS. As Cindy Sheehan was gathering public sympathy as the Gold Star mom against the killing in Iraq, the Republican party decided to import an easier target to pummel. So they brought over the "I-salute-your-courage, Saddam" religious fundamentalist crack-pot who can't tell us where the money went.

That's why the Republicans chose him for us. This gross cartoon from abroad whose "charity" is stuffed with loot from an Oil-for-Food profiteer is the image they prefer on TV to Cindy Sheehan whom they dare not confront.

Yes, Galloway was the punching bag that punched back, and for that we are appreciative. Now GO HOME, George.

We need to repudiate this guy -- before the warmongers do, with glee.

I'm sorry, but I'm not going to let Karl Rove or some sick GOP Senator pick my heroes for me.

Some well-meaning progressives have said that my exposing Galloway plays into the hands of the "other side." Friends, this isn't a World Cup match, with sides; it's a World War, with too many dead bodies piling up.

Galloway says, "I have religious beliefs and try to live by them. I have all my life been against abortion and against euthanasia."

Well, Mr. Galloway, you may live by your beliefs -- anti-choice, fatwas, Saddam's "courage" -- but too many are DYING by your beliefs.

I admit, I was suckered by Galloway. I was the first journalist in the UK to rush to his defense on television when he was accused of wrong-doing. I wanted to believe in him, but the hard facts condemn him -- and us, if we don't act true to our moral imperative.

Mr. Galloway told the Independent newspaper, "I'm not as Left-wing as you think."

Indeed, he isn't.

Next Saturday, September 24, Cindy Sheehan and I will be speaking at the Operation Ceasefire gathering in Washington DC, sponsored by the DC Anti-War Network and United for Peace and Justice. Please join us.

Hopefully, our voices won't be drowned out by George Galloway's antics.

Greg Palast's commentaries can be heard on the CD "Weapon of Mass Instruction" (Alternative Tentacles 2004) produced by Matt Pascarella and Jello Biafra. Jello will host Palast, The Coup, LeTigre, Bouncing Souls and others at the Operation Ceasefire event at the Washington Monument. Research on Galloway was directed by investigator Leni von Eckardt.

Link Here

Art For Everyone


War on Shi'ites intensifies

17 September 2005 GUNMEN have again targeted Shi'ite labourers waiting for work, with at least 12 people dying in a string of attacks on Iraqis and US forces yesterday.

Link Here

US warns of terrorist group luring more recruits

By Greg Miller and Tyler Marshall
September 17, 2005

Al-Qaeda's top operative in Iraq is drawing more Iraqi nationals to his organisation, according to US officials and Iraqi Government leaders

After the floods: trailer parks for a million

Jamie Wilson Baker, Louisiana
Saturday September 17, 2005
The Guardian

It is being called the biggest federal housing programme in United States history, a plan to build up to 300,000 temporary homes for nearly a million people flooded out by Hurricane Katrina. All along the Gulf Coast contractors are constructing huge trailer parks. The scale of the enterprise dwarfs both the rebuilding of Chicago after the great fire of 1871 and San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake.

Planners and officials are worried about the long-term ramifications if people are stuck in temporary accommodation for years. "We have never had to deal with anything like this in US history," said Ruth Steiner, an associate professor at the department of urban and regional planning at Florida University. "They are looking at trying to house more than a million people, so you are basically dealing with trying to build multiple cities."

On the outskirts of Baker, east of Baton Rouge, contractors have less than two weeks to turn 60 acres of prairie into a town for several thousand people. While bulldozers dig drainage ditches, men in fluorescent waistcoats use orange flags to show where 600 trailers will be, along with a network of limestone roads, parking areas and sewage treatment facilities.
The park is one of many. Emergency officials are mapping out new towns made up of as many as 25,000 mobile homes. The plan is to open 30,000 new homes every two weeks. Stores, restaurants and other facilities will come later, but the priority is getting people out of shelters and under their own roofs.

This will increase the pre-Katrina population of Baker, about 13,000, by at least a third. Nobody knows how long the evacuees will stay. "The key is making them comfortable enough for people to live in but not so comfortable that they never want to leave," Prof Steiner said.

Already local shops have been running out of groceries as a result of the influx, but the town is still offering a warm welcome to the evacuees. "We're not looking on the negative side," said Monteal Caron-Margolis, of the town's chamber of commerce. "Basically we are seeing this as an opportunity that we hope will help to breathe new life into our community."

But the towns and the trailer park residents can expect rocky times ahead. Several of the parks built in Florida in the wake of four major hurricanes in the state last year have experienced widespread lawlessness, and New Orleans was home to some of the US's most violent gangs.

"We ain't worried about it," said the town's assistant chief of police, Captain Mike Kanaps. "There has been a bit more shoplifting and minor crime like that, but basically nothing else. We run a pretty tight ship over here. We have a very low tolerance level, we go straight by the rules and we don't have any grey areas, that's why people like living here

Link Here

US conservatives round on Bush over Katrina aid pledges

'Shocking expansion of federal role' dismays right
· Doubts over wisdom of rebuilding New Orleans

Julian Borger in Washington
Saturday September 17, 2005
The Guardian

US president George Bush's promise to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf coast "higher and better" has triggered a wave of anxiety among conservatives in his own party, who are shocked at the expansion of the federal role in disaster relief.

Yesterday Mr Bush led the country in a day of prayer for the victims of Hurricane Katrina in Washington's national cathedral, declaring: "The destruction of this hurricane was beyond any human power to control, but the restoration of broken communities and disrupted lives now rests in our hands." But his ambitious pledge the night before to lead "one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen" has dismayed many of his own followers.

The promise was made in a dramatic prime-time address to the nation from a floodlit Jackson Square in the heart of New Orleans, where President Bush attempted to rebuild his credibility as a strong leader. In doing so, he apologised once more for the bungled, delayed response of the federal government.
"Four years after the frightening experience of September 11, Americans have every right to expect a more effective response in a time of emergency," he said, adding that he was personally "responsible for the problem, and for the solution".

Mr Bush presented the solution in terms of an array of far-reaching government programmes. He proposed the creation of a "Gulf opportunity zone" along the Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama coast, in which rebuilding would be encouraged by tax incentives and subsidies. Secondly, worker recovery accounts would be set up giving adult evacuees $5,000 (£3,500) each to help them find work. He also proposed an "urban homesteading act" providing federal land for displaced people to build new homes.

Senior members of the president's own party had voiced doubts over the wisdom of rebuilding a city like New Orleans, which is mostly below sea-level, but Mr Bush shrugged off those concerns, declaring: "This great city will rise again."

The speech was aimed at reassuring Hurricane Katrina's refugees, although fewer than half said they intended to return home, according to a poll published yesterday by the Washington Post.

The promise of arguably the biggest federal government project since Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal triggered a reaction among fiscal and "small-government" conservatives. "This is a shocking expansion of the federal role in disaster relief," said Stephen Slivinski, director of budget studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian thinktank. "The fear is these programmes that are supposed to be temporary will find a permanent home in the budget."

The broad and deep tax cuts of the Bush administration's first term coupled with the Iraq war drove the federal budget from a surplus to a $412bn deficit in 2004. Higher tax revenues brought White House predictions it would drop to $333bn this year, but that hope has been dashed.

Some Republicans are voicing their unease. Senator Tom Coburn declared: "I don't believe that everything that should happen in Louisiana should be paid for by the rest of the country."

So far, Mr Slivinski said, Republican rebels in Congress could be counted "on two hands and one foot" but he predicted that, as congressional elections approach next year, concern will rise when leaders face the rank and file, who still believe in small government and balanced budgets.

Link Here

Bush pledges a new Orleans

Too late, Too late, Too late you moron,

at least I hope it is to late for the

people of America to believe their


17 September 2005
GEORGE W. Bush has pegged out an ambitious new social contract for his administration in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, acknowledging that racial discrimination and poverty in the US need "bold action".

Link Here

Friday, September 16, 2005

George Bush's lies about Iraq didn't stain a blue dress - they stained the red, white and blue flag of the United States of America.

AfterAfterDowning Street.Org
Submitted by jonschwarz
by Bob Fertik

On Wednesday, Republicans had their chance to save George Bush from


And, as Steve Cobble describes, they threw it away.

Since the Downing Street Minutes were published on May, progressives have demanded to know whether the central allegation of those Minutes was true: that the pre-war intelligence and facts were being fixed around Bush's policy of invading Iraq, whether or not Iraq had any WMD's or any connection to 9/11.

We have generated hundreds of thousands of emails, letters and calls to Congress. On July 23, we held Downing Street Memo events all around the country with leading Members of Congress, and had to turn people away. On September 14, we united all 20 Democrats on the House International Relations Committee - including many who voted for the war - to vote for Barbara Lee's Resolution of Inquiry (H.Res 375) for the White House to turn over all documents that would confirm or refute the truth of the Downing Street Memos. We even persuaded one conscientious Republican - Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa - to join them.

But when the vote was counted, those 21 defenders of the truth were defeated by 22 Republican defenders of lies.

In a delicious twist of fate, the leading defender of George Bush's lies about Iraq was none other than Henry Hyde - the former chair of the House Judiciary Committee who led the Impeachment of President Clinton in 1998 not because he had consensual sex with Monica Lewinsky - but because he lied about it.

Which brings us right to the point: under the Constitution of the United States, is it worse to lie about sex or to lie about war?

Every American can lie about sex, and most do - including lots of Congressmen. (Henry Hyde, who was the leading opponent of legal abortion in Congress, had a 4-year extramaterial affair with Cherie Snodgrass, which destroyed her marriage. Newt Gingrich was having a torrid extramarital affair with a young staffer named Callista Bistek even as he was leading the charge to impeach Bill Clinton.) Lying about sex is not a "high" crime under the Constitution - it's about as "low" a crime as a President or a Congressman can commit.

But only one American can lie to start a war - the President.

George Bush's lies about Iraq didn't stain a blue dress - they stained the red, white and blue flag of the United States of America.

Conservatives consider the flag so precious that they want to send people to jail for burning a single one. Bush didn't stain one American flag - he stained every American flag in the United States - and around the world.

Thanks to George Bush's lies, the flag which originally stood for liberty against imperialism, and later stood for liberty against fascism, now stands for imperialism and fascism in the eyes of billions.

And thanks to George Bush's lies, the flag now drapes the coffins of nearly 2,000 of America's bravest and most patriotic young men and women, including Cindy Sheehan's beloved son Casey.

Thanks to the coverup engineered by Henry Hyde and his 21 Republican cronies, George Bush will never have to explain his Iraq War lies to Congress and the American people.

Without a truthful explanation, the American people can only assume the worst - that Bush deliberately committed the following crimes:

In July 2002, Bush deliberately diverted $700 million from the authorized war in Afghanistan to provoke an unauthorized war in Iraq, including a criminal bombing campaign
On March 18, 2003, Bush deliberately lied to Congress when he claimed in writing that continued U.N. inspections would endanger the national security of the U.S. and undermine enforcement of U.N. Resolutions, and that Iraq planned or aided the attacks of September 11, 2001

By invading Iraq without any threat or just cause, Bush launched a War of Aggression in violation of U.S. obligations under the U.N. Charter

In the conduct of the War, Bush violated the Geneva conventions by failing to protect civilians (including journalists) and by authorizing torture of prisoners

On the basis of these now-undisputed high crimes, Congress must immediately begin to impeach George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and every other high official who participated in these crimes.

Gov. Jeb Bush's son arrested in Austin

Sept. 16, 2005, 7:41PM

Reuters News Service

John Ellis Bush, the son of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and nephew of President Bush, was arrested in Austin today on charges of public intoxication and resisting arrest, police said.

He was held at the Travis County Jail and later released on $2,500 bail, they said.

Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Capt. David Ferrero told the Austin American Statesman that Bush, 21, approached a group of police officers on a street corner in downtown Austin at 2:30 a.m. today to ask about an earlier arrest of people he knew.

He appeared to be drunk, so police detained him and tried to handcuff him. While they put the cuffs on young Bush, he pushed against the officers and ended up suffering a cut on the chin, the newspaper said.

"He was observed to be a danger to himself and others," Ferrero told the Statesman.

Alia Faraj, spokeswoman for the governor, said: "Governor Bush and First Lady Bush are concerned about this incident. This is a personal family matter which they are dealing with privately."

It is not the first time one of the governor's children has had a run-in with the law.

Jeb Bush's daughter Noelle was sentenced to 10 days in jail in 2002 after cocaine was found in her shoe at a court-ordered drug rehabilitation program.

President Bush's daughters Jenna and Barbara were both charged in 2001 with drinking underage

Link Here

Let Them Eat Cake


Link Here

I am duty-bound to report the talk of the New Orleans warehouse district last night: there was rejoicing (well, there would have been without the curfew, but the few people I saw on the streets were excited) when the power came back on for blocks on end. Kevin Tibbles was positively jubilant on the live update edition of Nightly News that we fed to the West Coast. The mini-mart, long ago cleaned out by looters, was nonetheless bathed in light, including the empty, roped-off gas pumps. The motorcade route through the district was partially lit no more than 30 minutes before POTUS drove through. And yet last night, no more than an hour after the President departed, the lights went out. The entire area was plunged into total darkness again, to audible groans. It's enough to make some of the folks here who witnessed it... jump to certain conclusions.

America’s Battered Wife Syndrome

Dear America

As a friend of the family I can’t sit back and watch you do this to yourself without saying something. Consider this a long distance intervention.

Your man is no good. He treats you like crap, lies to you, abuses you, bullies you, exploits you, takes your money. As a friend I want to tell you that you deserve better. You deserve a person that treats you with respect, cares about your welfare, and your children’s welfare, but that’s not George and it never will be.

Do you tell yourself that he’ll stop, or that it won’t get worse? He won’t ever stop, every insult, injury and death he has caused are a line that once crossed will never be uncrossed. Forget the dream. You will never have the American dream with George. You have to forget about what might have been, what George might have been, and realise that at the end of the day you are what you do, and look at George’s track record.

Notice how he’s alienated all your friends? Who can blame them, they can’t understand why you stay with him when he treats you like shit and embarrasses you in front of everybody. The more his public behaviour overshadows yours, The more doubt creeps over them, they wonder if they knew you as well as they thought they did. You seem to have changed - if you condone his behaviour- and your silence can create the impression that you do. People are more inclined to take things at face value when they feel alienated. Your friends remember the good times you had together, the heroic battles you fought together, all of the intricate interweavings between their families and yours through time and space. Do you even recognise yourself anymore America? He is a drunken, coke-addled loser and he always will be, you should kick him out of your house today before he can destroy any more members of your family, your history, your culture, before he decimates your bank account so irretrievably that China and Saudi Arabia repossess all your stuff.

YOU CAN DO BETTER! You are an amazing country, beautiful, interesting, funny, positively glamorous, you wouldn’t stay single for five minutes, you know that suitors would be competing for your affections and any one of them would be ten times better than George. And how can you stand his god-awful Stepford’s answer to Marie-Antoinette mother, piping up with another casual atrocity every time she opens her mouth.

Because of George and his friends global warming is now upon us - I know what it has cost your family already, combined with George’s complete uselessness and indifference in a crisis. It would probably now be possible for a mathematician to calculate exactly how much of all of our futures we are losing for every minute you stay with that sick,twisted, idiot.

I see you doing what everyone in your position does - you end up looking to the perpetrator for comfort because theres no one else left, and look at how he reacts for Christ’s sake, look at what he did to New Orleans, and you should know that yet again he did it in front of all of your friends, all of us saw nothing happening whilst thousands died, all of us heard Ray Negen and the president of Jefferson Parish (I must heard him 30+ times now and I still cry every time) and all of us heard George’s bloody mother. We have been trying to help and he won’t let us. We are all appalled and aghast, it breaks our hearts to see him hurting you like this, and you not fighting back, you just take it and take it as it slowly spirals down into the pits of hell. What will it take America, will you let him kill you before you’ll kick him out? This is not rhetoric America, he is killing you every day you stay with him. If I had described your relationship with George to you back when you were still with Bill you never would have believed me. He degrades you in little increments, every day he erodes your assets as well as your dignity, your reputation, your legacy and your life America.

All of our TV crews were rescuing survivors as they filmed the devastation because there was nobody else there to help them, all of us saw the victims being treated like some sudden new insurgency. with suspicion and hostility. Those poor people, the heart & soul of New Orleans, the very people whose culture and history made New Orleans beloved around the world, He just left your brothers and sisters to die. Can you really continue in your relationship with George after this? There is a degree at which cognitive dissonance becomes outright delusion. He is a maniac, he is destroying your life, please, please leave him, just leave him, only you have the power to make it stop.

He is selling out your family business, if you let him continue like this how are you going to live? How are you going to feed your children, what happens if you get ill? Everything he has ever touched has turned to shit, he puts any idiot that’ll kiss his ass into positions of power and New Orleans is the result. Kick him out America! Do it today! I know it feels like you would be leaping into a void, but I promise you, you will be leaping out of one. Your friends will come back as soon as they see you are back to your old self, they really miss you. I know that less than 36% of your heart is still in it. Go with the 64% of you, that 36% is just that vestigial, primitive part of the brain that clings to the familiar no matter how badly the familiar sucks.

It all comes down to you, America. I know no-one likes other people passing comment on their relationships but this is an extreme situation. You are in very real danger, he is hurting you everyday and he is hurting us, your friends as well. But only you can make it stop. We are all rooting for you, although we don’t get to talk to you very often anymore, because he cuts us off from you. We are on your side, we will all be over the moon the day you finally kick him out. You know he really should be thrown in jail for the things he has done to you. Him and all of his gangster friends.

Please, please, do it America, you know I am right. If not for yourself then do it for your brothers and sisters and children. Do it before he kills any more of your family or anyone else’s. We are all really worried for your welfare.

Your friend,


Link Here

Media compliment emperor's new clothes


While President Bush's approval ratings plummet amid widespread dissatisfaction with his handling of Hurricane Katrina, many news outlets seem to be doing their best to try to rebuild his reputation -- making false claims that his poll numbers are improving; baselessly asserting that Bush has again "risen to the occasion"; giving him undeserved credit for Katrina recovery efforts; and downplaying his paralysis in the face of the disaster.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Suzanne Malveaux falsely suggested at the beginning of the week that Bush's poll numbers were improving, with Blitzer excitedly exclaiming, "Mr. Bush's approval rating is up -- up! -- to 46 percent." But in order to claim that Bush's approval rating is increasing, Blitzer compared polls conducted by different news organizations using different methodologies -- a dubious comparison, at best, particularly in light of the fact that every recent poll has shown dismal results for Bush. As the week continued, it became increasingly clear that the rosy picture painted by Blitzer and Malveaux wasn't based in reality; new polls by Fox News, CBS/New York Times, and NBC/Wall Street Journal, among others, all showed poor results for Bush.

While CNN was putting a happy face on dismal poll numbers, CBS and Rush Limbaugh gave Bush credit he didn't deserve for steps taken by state and local leaders. CBS reporter Peter Van Sant repeated already debunked claims that Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco was slow to declare a state of emergency. (She made such a declaration before Katrina even hit, contrary to the false claims made by the Bush administration and repeated by The Washington Post.) Van Sant also repeated a baseless claim similar to one made by Fox's Brit Hume and others that Bush "convinced" Blanco to order an evacuation.

Rush Limbaugh took things a step further, claiming that "Bush was begging that governor [Blanco] on the Sunday before the hurricane hit to get people out of there and to declare an emergency." But if Bush was "begging" Blanco to "declare an emergency" on the Sunday before the hurricane hit, the president's response to the disaster was even more inept than we knew: Blanco had already declared an emergency two days earlier. Limbaugh's lies didn't stop there; as Media Matters has documented.

Fox News, of course, did its part. The "news" channel displayed a "timeline" of key Katrina events that curiously omitted two key details. The timeline included declarations of emergency by the Republican governors of Mississippi and Alabama but omitted Blanco's declaration, in keeping with the Bush administration's attempts to pretend that she was late to issue one. And the timeline indicated that three New Orleans levees broke on August 30 -- but omitted mention of two levees that broke on August 29, triggering catastrophic flooding. Coincidentally, a key (though false) Bush administration talking point has been that nobody anticipated the levee breaches and that, as of Tuesday August 30, everybody though New Orleans had "dodged a bullet." It is presumably nothing more than a coincidence that the Fox timeline left out two key details and that, in each case, the omission works in Bush's favor.

Perhaps the most egregious example of pro-Bush puffery in the media came in a September 16 New York Times editorial:

Once again, as he did after 9/11, Mr. Bush has responded to disaster with disconcerting uncertainty, then risen to the occasion later. Once again, he has delivered a speech that will reassure many Americans that he understands the enormity of the event and the demands of leadership to come.

Surely it is long past time to put to rest the feel-good but false notion that Bush somehow "rose to the occasion" after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 -- or at least to offer evidence for it rather than present it as axiomatic. How did Bush "rise to the occasion"? By promising to get Osama bin Laden "dead or alive" -- but failing to do so, while claiming to know where he is hiding? By taking the nation to war against a country that didn't attack us, based on false pretenses, a war that has required the commitment of resources that could have been used to get bin Laden and to help in preparation for and recovery from Katrina? By creating a massive Homeland Security bureaucracy stocked with political hacks who can't deal with the aftermath of a hurricane -- or, apparently, another terrorist attack?

The very same Times editorial that praised Bush for "rising to the occasion" after 9-11 also noted that, in the aftermath of those terrorist attacks, Bush "decided to invade Iraq, and he tried to do it on the cheap -- with disastrous results, for which the country continues to pay every day." He has approached his job with "a deep antipathy toward big government that has turned out to be utterly inappropriate for the world he inherited. The result has not been less government, but it has definitely been inept government."

Read that again: According to The New York Times, Bush has run an "inept government" with "disastrous results" since September 11 -- yet he is to be praised for "rising to the occasion." We shudder to wonder what kind of trouble we'd be in had he not "risen to the occasion." As it is, we must wonder why news organizations continue to propagate the myth that Bush did so. Is it because he gave a speech into a bullhorn? Because he staged a landing on an aircraft carrier, declaring "Mission Accomplished?" That wasn't rising to the occasion, that was acting. Rising to the occasion requires deeds, not mere words. The Times concedes, as nearly everyone now knows, that the administration's actions have failed; it's time to stop pretending that Bush's empty words constitute "rising to the occasion."

Conservative pundits blame America for Katrina

In the wake of Katrina's devastation, several conservative pundits have taken to blaming the United States for the death and suffering the hurricane caused.

Former Nixon administration "evil genius" and ex-con Charles Colson -- also known for advocating the firebombing of the Brookings Institution -- claimed on his radio show that God "allowed" Katrina to happen as a reminder to America of the importance of the war on terror and "to get our attention so that we don't delude ourselves into thinking that all we have to do is put things back the way they were and life will be normal again."

Trinity Broadcasting Network host Hal Lindsey added that Katrina is proof that "the judgment of America has begun."

And -- in what may be the single most predictable comment about Katrina to date -- Pat Robertson suggested that Katrina was God's punishment for abortion.

Smears, lies and videotape: CNN's Ed Henry doctored video, left out footage that contradicted his assertions

CNN correspondent Ed Henry selectively edited video of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT) talking about former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director Micahel D. Brown to omit Lieberman's statement that he opposed a provision in the Homeland Security legislation that allowed Brown to be promoted from deputy director to director without a second confirmation hearing. After carefully cutting Lieberman's comments (Henry used the sentences before and after the excised material), Henry asserted that Democrats had "allowed" Brown to be elevated without a hearing -- an assertion directly contradicted by the portion of Lieberman's comments that Henry left on the cutting-room floor.

False equivalency of the week: CNN's Schneider equated Bush's dismal poll numbers with Clinton's record highs

Media Matters documented CNN analyst Bill Schneider's faulty comparison of President Bush's current political situation with that of President Clinton's in 1998:

On CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, senior political analyst Bill Schneider falsely equated President Bush's current widespread unpopularity -- and that of President Reagan during the Iran-Contra scandal -- with President Clinton's standing with the public during the Monica Lewinsky matter. Noting that, despite his poor overall poll numbers, Bush still enjoys support from Republicans, Schneider said, "Sooner or later, every leader gets in trouble. President Reagan had Iran-Contra. President Clinton had Monica Lewinsky. Like Bush, they had a base that helped them get through it." But Schneider's suggestion that all three presidents had to rely on the support of their base during times of general public unhappiness with their performance is mistaken: While Reagan did see his approval ratings plummet to the low 40s during the Iran-Contra matter, Clinton saw no similar erosion of public support during the Lewinsky matter.

Unlike Schneider, the public apparently saw little similarity between, on the one hand Reagan, whose administration illegally sold arms to Iran in hopes of appeasing terrorists, and Bush, whose administration took the nation into a war based on false pretenses and badly bungled preparation for, and response to, Hurricane Katrina, and, on the other, Clinton, who had an inappropriate personal relationship.

Clinton's approval ratings were very high all through 1998 as the Lewinsky matter played out -- typically in the 60s, occasionally (such as when the Republican-controlled House of Representatives impeached him) breaking 70 percent. As an Associated Press summary of polls conducted in 1998 by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press and by CNN/USA Today/Gallup shows, Clinton's approval ratings were high when news of the Lewinsky matter surfaced, and remained high when former White House volunteer Kathleen Willey made further widely publicized allegations against him; when he admitted a relationship with Lewinsky; when Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr released his report; and when House Republicans voted to impeach him.

Schneider's implication that only Clinton's "base" stood with him in 1998 is particularly bizarre in light of Schneider's own assessment of Clinton's 1998 job approval ratings, which he offered on the December 30, 1998, edition of CNN's Inside Politics:

President Clinton's job ratings have been in the 60s for most of the year -- the highest ratings for any president on record in his sixth year. Clinton's ratings spiked three times this year: after the State of the Union speech in January and again in August just after his speech in which he confessed his, "misleading the American public for the past seven months." The president got his biggest bounce of all, a phenomenal 73 percent, after he got impeached in December. A few more setbacks like that and he'll go into the stratosphere.

Conservative pundits fall back on old standby: lying about Clinton

Conservative pundits have reacted to President Bush's poor approval ratings by going back to what they know best: lying about President Clinton.

As usual, Rush Limbaugh led the way, claiming that "there never was a surplus [under Clinton]. It was 10-year economic forecasts. ... There never was a surplus." But Limbaugh was lying: There was a surplus under Clinton, every year from 1998 to 2001.

CNN contributor Joe Watkins said on CNN's Paula Zahn Now that "under Bill Clinton, 15.1 percent of the population was poor; under President Bush, 12.7 percent of the population is poor. That's a reduction, that's a good thing." But that was a distortion, and that's a bad thing. The poverty rate was 15.1 percent when Clinton took office; it decreased every year during his presidency, falling to 11.3 percent in his last year in office. Since then, it has increased every year of Bush's presidency, to 12.7 percent now. The "reduction" Watkins referred to occurred entirely under Bill Clinton -- and has been reversed under George Bush.

Apparently the Republican Party was handing out misleading poverty talking points, because Watkins was joined by Bill O'Reilly, who noted that the poverty rate "halfway through President Bush's tenure" is "a full point lower" than it was "[h]alfway through President Clinton's tenure in office in 1996." But O'Reilly, like Watkins, was crediting Bush with a reduction in poverty that occurred before Bush took office, while Bill Clinton was still president. Incredibly, after Media Matters pointed out the dishonesty of this comparison, O'Reilly defended it, saying "That's the only fair comparison. You gotta go real time," adding that "[t]he poverty under Bush is down 1 percent."

Of course, that isn't true, but what should we expect from a man who gets his economic data from the Paris Business Review?

O'Reilly hits trifecta of bizarre comments

When he wasn't making false comparisons between Clinton and Bush, O'Reilly spent much of his week making a series of bizarre comments.

First, he seemed to excuse the failure to evacuate tens of thousands of New Orleans residents because many of them are "drug-addicted" and "thugs":

O'REILLY: Many, many, many of the poor in New Orleans are in that condition. They weren't going to leave no matter what you did. They were drug-addicted. They weren't going to get turned off from their source. They were thugs, whatever.

Then he argued that progressives support marriages between humans and ducks:

O'REILLY: The secular progressive movement would like to have marriage abolished, in my opinion. They don't want it, because it is not diverse enough. You know, that's what this gay marriage thing is all about. But now, you know, the poly-amorphous marriage, whatever they call it, you can marry 18 people, you can marry a duck, I mean --

LIS WIEHL (co-host): A duck? Quack, quack.

O'REILLY: Well, why, you know, if you're in love with the duck, who is the society to tell you you can't do that?

The on-screen relationship between Lea Thompson's Beverly Switzler and Howard the Duck apparently made quite an impression on O'Reilly.

Finally -- and this one speaks for itself -- O'Reilly commented on the United Nations:

O'REILLY: Bush to address the U.N., says we must be steadfast in battling terrorism. I'm sure all the U.N. people fell asleep. They don't really care about anything over there at all. I just wish Katrina had only hit the United Nations building, nothing else, just had flooded them out. And I wouldn't have rescued them.
September 16, 2005
Forward This E-mail To A Friend
Share your concern about conservative misinformation

Sign Up
Did a friend forward you this email? Click here to sign up to receive it each week.

Case File

Robert Novak is a syndicated columnist and, until his recent suspension, was a regular contributor to CNN. Novak, often referred to as "the Prince of Darkness" (a title he has been called in Washington circles and in CNN's on-air promotions for Crossfire), regularly promotes conservative positions in both print and broadcast while maintaining an air of journalistic legitimacy. During the 2004 presidential campaign, he repeatedly lauded and promoted the anti-John Kerry book Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry (Regnery, August 2004) without disclosing that his son, Alex Novak, was the director of marketing for the book's publisher, Regnery Publishing. Novak has been a central figure in a controversy surrounding his role in revealing the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame, an incident now under investigation by the Department of Justice. Novak's explanation of the events of Plame's outing has been murky at best, and he has changed his version of events depending on where he was telling the story. Read more »

Link Here
free hit counter