Journalist under criminal charges for filming Katrina evacuees

A journalist and a TV producer working on a piece about Katrina refugees have been charged with the crime of videotaping a “critical national security structure” in Louisiana… Palast Charged with Journalism in the First Degree:

On August 22, for LinkTV and Democracy Now! we videotaped the thousands of Katrina evacuees still held behind a barbed wire in a trailer park encampment a hundred miles from New Orleans. It’s been a year since the hurricane and 73,000 POW’s (Prisoners of W) are still in this aluminum ghetto in the middle of nowhere. One resident, Pamela Lewis said, “It is a prison set-up” — except there are no home furloughs for these inmates because they no longer have homes.
To give a sense of the full flavor and smell of the place, we wanted to show that this human parking lot, with kids and elderly, is nearly adjacent to the Exxon Oil refinery, the nation’s second largest, a chemical-belching behemoth.
So we filmed it. Without Big Brother’s authorization. Uh, oh. Apparently, the broadcast of these stinking smokestacks tipped off Osama that, if his assassins pose as poor Black folk, they can get a cramped Airstream right next to a “critical infrastructure” asset.
So now Matt and I have a “criminal complaint” lodged against us with the feds.

Dectective Pananepinto, in justifying our impending bust, said, “If you remember, a lot of people were killed on 9/11.”
Yes, Detective, I remember that very well: my office was in the World Trade Center. Lucky for me, I was out of town that day. It was not a lucky day for 3,000 others.
Yes, I remember “a lot” of people were killed. So I have this suggestion, Detective — and you can pass it on to Mr. Bush: Go and find the people who killed them.

Continue ReadingJournalist under criminal charges for filming Katrina evacuees

Handmade Quilts for Katrina Victims

I mentioned back in April of 2004 that my mom has made hats for premies babies and hats for soldiers.

Lately, though she volunteered with the Quiltmakers shop in Fishers that coordinated a large-scale event last Saturday where quilters sewed quilts for Katrina victims using materials donated by fabric companies. They made 51 quilts. That’s awesome.

Continue ReadingHandmade Quilts for Katrina Victims

“Operation Offset” is more accurately “Operation Offset with money from your pocket”

The Republican Study Committee (RSC) lead by Indiana Rep. Mike Pence proposes “Operation Offset” which is their plan to pay for Hurricane Katrina, by raping America and transferring money to their big business cronies.

Marla helps us out by summarizing the plans:

  • $225 billion cut from Medicaid, the last-resort health insurance program for the very poor.
  • $200 billion cut from Medicare, the health care safety net for the elderly and the disabled.
  • $25 billion cut from the Centers for Disease Control — pending flu pandemic? What me worry?
  • $6.7 billion cut from school lunches for poor children — protein deprived children grow up to make a less pesky, more compliant workforce or breatharians must receive early training.
  • $7.5 billion cut from programs to fight global AIDS — it’s bad enough we have to pay anything for one group of poor black people, so don’t push it.
  • $5.5 billion to eliminate all funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting — bye-bye Big Bird.
  • $3.6 billion cut to eliminate the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities — if we can’t tolerate Big Bird, don’t even dream of tolerating art. So what if it’s an essential for consideration as a civilized society and only costs us 4 cents a day. You don’t expect the richest 1 percent to give up their tax cuts. Puhlease!
  • $8.5 billion cut to eliminate all subsidized loans to graduate students — aka professional jobs should be reserved for the sons and daughters of the oligarchy.
  • $2.5 billion cut from Amtrak — except for the commuter trains for Wall Street types, there goes that program, too.
  • $2.5 billion to eliminate the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative — the only thing remotely environmentally friendly Shrub embraced but what’re two hurricanes when you can make more, more, more!
  • $417 million cut to eliminate the Minority Business Development Agency — it’s not as if a reasonable amount of the windfall of the Katrina/Rita budget is going to make it into minority-owned businesses anyway. All those rules were suspended along with the prevailing wage requirement straight off.
  • $4.8 billion cut to eliminate all funding for the Safe and Drug-Free schools program — no use trying to prevent any future poverty if we’re not willing to pay for it now.

Now, none of this would be neccessary if Bush eliminated the tax breaks he’s given to his big-business buddies, and to the richest 1% of America. But of course that’s not gonna happen.

I think the Repugnicans are forgetting what happened after Marie Antoinette and her infamous “let them eat cake” incident. The peasants rose up and cut off her head. Almost makes me want to take up knitting.

Continue Reading“Operation Offset” is more accurately “Operation Offset with money from your pocket”

Pipelines more important than hospitals to Dick Cheney

According to the Hattiesburg America, a small Mississippi newspaper, Dick Cheney’s office called the South Mississippi Electric Power Association and ordered them to prioritize restoring power to Colonial Pipeline Co. before restoring power to two rural hospitals.

“I considered it a presidential directive to get those pipelines operating,” said Jim Compton, general manager of the South Mississippi Electric Power Association – which distributes power that rural electric cooperatives sell to consumers and businesses.

“I reluctantly agreed to pull half our transmission line crews off other projects and made getting the transmission lines to the Collins substations a priority,” Compton said. “Our people were told to work until it was done.”

Let me reiterate what I said before about the importance of this: in the event of a nuclear terrorist attack on our country, Dick Cheney would save his pipeline before he would save your grandmother’s hospital.

I wonder if anyone died in those two hospitals while the power was off.

I’m not sure whether the South Mississippi Electric Power Association is a state or privately run facility — from what I can see they’re privately owned. I wonder, then, why they didn’t tell Cheney to go Cheney himself.

Continue ReadingPipelines more important than hospitals to Dick Cheney

Dodging Bullets

First Secretary Michael Chertoff said it:

I remember on Tuesday morning picking up newspapers and I saw headlines, ‘New Orleans Dodged The Bullet.'”

Then Gen. Richard Myers said it:

The headline, of course, in most of the papers on Tuesday — “New Orleans Dodged a Bullet,” or words to that effect. At that time, when those words were in our minds, we started working issues before we were asked, and on Tuesday, at the direction of the secretary and the deputy secretary, we went to each of the services.

Now the president is saying it (original link, no longer active –

What I was referring to is this: When that storm came by, a lot of people said we dodged a bullet. When that storm came through at first, people said, Whew. There was a sense of relaxation. And that’s what I was referring to.
And I myself thought we had dodged a bullet. You know why? Because I was listening to people probably over the airwaves say, The bullet has been dodged. And that was what I was referring to.

The trouble is, the only media source that said “Dodged a Bullet” was the ultra-conservative mini-paper, WorldNetDaily. If that’s where the president gets all his news, we’re in trouble.

And all of this begs the question… why is the President getting his information from the newspapers in the first place? Shouldn’t he be talking to weather services and officials on the ground in New Orleans? Like the Army Corps of Engineers; the guys who are actually standing there looking at the levees?

All the mainstream newspapers said this:

Katrina Headlines
Continue ReadingDodging Bullets

Say that again? ‘Things are going relatively well’

From the Chicago Sun-Times, Say that again? ‘Things are going relatively well’ is Richard Roeper’s hall-of-shame article on the worst quotes from famous people, especially government officials, regarding the Katrina disaster.

It would be very funny if it weren’t so desperately sad.

Continue ReadingSay that again? ‘Things are going relatively well’

Unbelievably Racist E-mail

03/12/2022 Update: I had to edit this today to fix the broken links to the 35(!) images that came with this email. I took them out rather than trying to replace the images; too much work for something this malevolent. Also, why is this person still in my friend list?

This is the other racist e-mail that was sent to me by someone I thought was a friend. I got this a week and a half ago, I believe. I’m putting the entire text of the e-mail below the fold because I want to be sure that my friends know, before they see it, that it doesn’t come from me, that I didn’t write it, and that I don’t endorse anything that it says.

I went back and forth about putting this e-mail up, but I think it’s important that people see it and know this kind of stuff is out there being passed around by white supremacists.

If you want to really understand how the welfare system works in America after the welfare reform that happened in the 1990s, read this book:

American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids, and a Nation’s Drive to End Welfare by Jason DeParle

Continue ReadingUnbelievably Racist E-mail

A Completely Racist Diatribe

A friend forwarded the following diatribe to me. She sent me another one earlier in the week that was equally bad and which originated with the KKK. This is apparently the kind of crap that’s getting passed around by right-wing nut jobs though e-mail.

I know I keep saying this, but it needs to be repeated: thousands of people just DIED. An entire American city is GONE. There has never been a disaster like this in the history of our country. Blaming the victims because they’re black is the most hideous behavior imaginable. And it’s not surprising that the true colors of the Republican party are showing.

If you want to really understand how the welfare system works in America after the welfare reform that happened in the 1990s, read this book:

American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids, and a Nation’s Drive to End Welfare by Jason DeParle

Update: This forwarded racist diatribe was written by Robert Tracinski

It has taken four long days for state and federal officials to figure out how to deal with the disaster in New Orleans. I can’t blame them, because it has also taken me four long days to figure out what is going on there. The reason is that the events there make no sense if you think that we are confronting a natural disaster.

If this is just a natural disaster, the response for public officials is obvious: you bring in food, water, and doctors; you send transportation to evacuate refugees to temporary shelters; you send engineers to stop the flooding and rebuild the city’s infrastructure. For journalists, natural disasters also have a familiar pattern: the heroism of ordinary people pulling together to survive; the hard work and dedication of doctors, nurses, and rescue workers; the steps being taken to clean up and rebuild.

Public officials did not expect that the first thing they would have to do is to send thousands of armed troops in armored vehicle, as if they are suppressing an enemy insurgency. And journalists–myself included–did not expect that the story would not be about rain, wind, and flooding, but about rape, murder, and looting.

But this is not a natural disaster. It is a man-made disaster.

The man-made disaster is not an inadequate or incompetent response by federal relief agencies, and it was not directly caused by Hurricane Katrina. This is where just about every newspaper and television channel has gotten the story wrong.

The man-made disaster we are now witnessing in New Orleans did not happen over the past four days. It happened over the past four decades. Hurricane Katrina merely exposed it to public view.

The man-made disaster is the welfare state.

For the past few days, I have found the news from New Orleans to be confusing. People were not behaving as you would expect them to behave in an emergency–indeed, they were not behaving as they have behaved in other emergencies. That is what has shocked so many people: they have been saying that this is not what we expect from America. In fact, it is not even what we expect from a Third World country.
When confronted with a disaster, people usually rise to the occasion. They work together to rescue people in danger, and they spontaneously organize to keep order and solve problems. This is especially true in America. We are an enterprising people, used to relying on our own initiative rather than waiting around for the government to take care of us. I have seen this a hundred times, in small examples (a small town whose main traffic light had gone out, causing ordinary citizens to get out of their cars and serve as impromptu traffic cops, directing cars through the intersection) and large ones (the spontaneous response of New Yorkers to September 11).

So what explains the chaos in New Orleans?

To give you an idea of the magnitude of what is going on, here is a description from a Washington Times story:
“Storm victims are raped and beaten; fights erupt with flying fists, knives and guns; fires are breaking out; corpses litter the streets; and police and rescue helicopters are repeatedly fired on.

“The plea from Mayor C. Ray Nagin came even as National Guardsmen poured in to restore order and stop the looting, carjackings and gunfire….

“Last night, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said 300 Iraq-hardened Arkansas National Guard members were inside New Orleans with shoot-to-kill orders.

” ‘These troops are…under my orders to restore order in the streets,’ she said. ‘They have M-16s, and they are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill and they are more than willing to do so if necessary and I expect they will.’ ”

The reference to Iraq is eerie. The photo that accompanies this article shows National Guard troops, with rifles and armored vests, riding on an armored vehicle through trash-strewn streets lined by a rabble of squalid, listless people, one of whom appears to be yelling at them. It looks exactly like a scene from Sadr City in Baghdad.

What explains bands of thugs using a natural disaster as an excuse for an orgy of looting, armed robbery, and rape? What causes unruly mobs to storm the very buses that have arrived to evacuate them, causing the drivers to drive away, frightened for their lives? What causes people to attack the doctors trying to treat patients at the Super Dome?

Why are people responding to natural destruction by causing further destruction? Why are they attacking the people who are trying to help them?

My wife, Sherri, figured it out first, and she figured it out on a sense-of-life level. While watching the coverage last night on Fox News Channel, she told me that she was getting a familiar feeling. She studied architecture at the Illinois Institute of Chicago, which is located in the South Side of Chicago just blocks away from the Robert Taylor Homes, one of the largest high-rise public housing projects in America. “The projects,” as they were known, were infamous for uncontrollable crime and irremediable squalor. (They have since, mercifully, been demolished.)

What Sherri was getting from last night’s television coverage was a whiff of the sense of life of “the projects.” Then the “crawl”–the informational phrases flashed at the bottom of the screen on most news channels–gave some vital statistics to confirm this sense: 75% of the residents of New Orleans had already evacuated before the hurricane, and of the 300,000 or so who remained, a large number were from the city’s public housing projects. Jack Wakeland then gave me an additional, crucial fact: early reports from CNN and Fox indicated that the city had no plan for evacuating all of the prisoners in the city’s jails–so they just let many of them loose. There is no doubt a significant overlap between these two populations–that is, a large number of people in the jails used to live in the housing projects, and vice versa.

There were many decent, innocent people trapped in New Orleans when the deluge hit–but they were trapped alongside large numbers of people from two groups: criminals–and wards of the welfare state, people selected, over decades, for their lack of initiative and self-induced helplessness. The welfare wards were a mass of sheep–on whom the incompetent administration of New Orleans unleashed a pack of wolves.

All of this is related, incidentally, to the apparent incompetence of the city government, which failed to plan for a total evacuation of the city, despite the knowledge that this might be necessary. But in a city corrupted by the welfare state, the job of city officials is to ensure the flow of handouts to welfare recipients and patronage to political supporters–not to ensure a lawful, orderly evacuation in case of emergency.

No one has really reported this story, as far as I can tell. In fact, some are already actively distorting it, blaming President Bush, for example, for failing to personally ensure that the Mayor of New Orleans had drafted an adequate evacuation plan. The worst example is an execrable piece from the Toronto Globe and Mail, by a supercilious Canadian who blames the chaos on American “individualism.” But the truth is precisely the opposite: the chaos was caused by a system that was the exact opposite of individualism.

What Hurricane Katrina exposed was the psychological consequences of the welfare state. What we consider “normal” behavior in an emergency is behavior that is normal for people who have values and take the responsibility to pursue and protect them. People with values respond to a disaster by fighting against it and doing whatever it takes to overcome the difficulties they face. They don’t sit around and complain that the government hasn’t taken care of them. They don’t use the chaos of a disaster as an opportunity to prey on their fellow men.

But what about criminals and welfare parasites? Do they worry about saving their houses and property? They don’t, because they don’t own anything. Do they worry about what is going to happen to their businesses or how they are going to make a living? They never worried about those things before. Do they worry about crime and looting? But living off of stolen wealth is a way of life for them.

The welfare state–and the brutish, uncivilized mentality it sustains and encourages–is the man-made disaster that explains the moral ugliness that has swamped New Orleans. And that is the story that no one is reporting.

Why do I say this is racist?

Because it’s blaming the victims of the tragedy.

It ignores the fact that there’s no evidence whatsoever that any of the people you saw on your TV news are on welfare at all. They’re assuming because the people they saw were black, that they’re automatically on welfare.

The totally lie about criminals being let out of jails, and the implication that those black people you saw on your TV were criminals and convicts — utter untruths. Criminals were moved out and locked down before the storm hit; there have been numerous stories about this — I saw it on CNN of course, where people get real news, not fake spin from the White House.

It ignores the fact that thousands of ordinary (black) people DID work hard to save lives, to help their fellow man, to get everyone to safety. It cites totally unsubstantiated rumors of violence and chaos. It ignores the fact that many people were told by police “it’s every man for himself.”

And it’s COMPLETELY, IGNORANTLY WRONG about how welfare works in America. There’s no such thing as a fucking “welfare state” except in the deluded minds of racist people. People don’t get rich from welfare. People don’t “live off stolen wealth” at all. The people who are on welfare (who are overwhelmingly white, BTW) are struggling to survive, not kicking back eating feasts on your dime.

The taxes that you’re paying are going to Iraq, and into the pockets of Halliburton executives through corrupt corporate contracts, not to poor black people.

Continue ReadingA Completely Racist Diatribe