Friday, September 16, 2005

NYT: "Bushes Pledges Federal Role in Rebuilding Gulf Coast" (Elisabeth Bumiller)

If Bully Boy gives a speech and Elisabeth Bumiller's not around, did it really take place?

In this morning's Times, Bumiller contributes "Bush Pledges Federal Role in Rebuilding Gulf Coast" which has its highs:

White House officials viewed the speech as the culmination of a pivotal week in which Mr. Bush tried to turn around his image as a chief executive slow to respond to the greatest natural disaster in American history. The speech was meant to portray Mr. Bush as a forceful leader in control of the crisis and sympathetic to the people in the region.


Aside from the opportunity zone, Mr. Bush also proposed "worker recovery accounts" of up to $5,000 that evacuees could use for job training and education. The proposal sounds much like the kinds of accounts set up after the passage of the North America Free Trade Agreement in the early 1990's to help retrain workers displaced by foreign competition, a program that met with mixed reviews.

(Note the use of anonymice is not a high. I'm noting as a high that Bumiller's providing perspective, not often in a Bumiller article.)

And it has its lows. We won't note them partly because I'm tired and partly because we have the antidote to them thanks to Lloyd who e-mails to note Matthew Rothschild's "Bush Late by Hundreds of Lives" (This Just In, The Progressive):

His sleeves were rolled up.
He looked ready for hard work.
He used the words "compassion" and "kindness" and "sympathy" and "respect" and "care" and "generosity" and "courage" and "strength" and "resolve."
The White House speechwriter must have a sore thumb from going through the thesaurus to find a way to project the President in the most positive light.
This speech was an attempt at image-saving, not life-saving.
"The work of rescue is largely finished," Bush put it, creepily.
Because the fact remains that hundreds of people were not rescued on time.
Bush awoke to this disaster 17 days and hundreds of lives too late.
And he can now try to wax eloquent about the valiant work of the Coast Guard, and he can try to say with a straight face that many members of FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security "performed skillfully" when the leaders of those organizations were lethally negligent.
And he can now praise the work of coroners "who gather the dead, treat them with respect, and prepare them for their rest."
But the fact is that many died needlessly, not just by "a cruel and wasteful storm" but by an inept and careless government.
Now, suddenly, George W. Bush recognizes the importance of federal funding to repair the "public infrastructure."
It's a little late for that, after letting the levees go.

Brad e-mails to note "Our Two Gulf Crises" (editorial, The Nation):

America is now beset by two Gulf crises: one in the Persian Gulf, the other in the Gulf of Mexico. The two crises, each in its own way, have brought us back to reality. The chaos in Iraq has painfully demonstrated the limitations of American power and the inability of our military to subdue a people who don't want to be occupied. Similarly, the disaster on the Gulf Coast has lifted the veil on the effects of years of neglect of our infrastructure and what happens when the country is guided by an economic philosophy that reduces a large proportion of the working public to minimum-wage jobs without access to good schools or adequate healthcare.
The fact that the richest nation in the world could not organize the rescue of its own people--and at times did not even seem to want to--was not lost on other countries that were once in awe of American power, wealth and principles. The images of desperate Americans clinging to rooftops and bridges while the President was on vacation at his ranch did more to destroy our credibility than any military retreat ever could.
How we respond to these twin crises--the lessons we draw from them--will tell us a lot about the kind of country we are. Above all, they call for us to reorder our priorities by giving up imperial missions abroad and rebuilding the social fabric and physical capital upon which the safety and livelihoods of all Americans depend. In the editorials that follow, we explain why withdrawal from Iraq will in the end make us a stronger and more secure country that is better able to contribute to a peaceful international order--and how the rebuilding at home can begin.

Don't miss Dahr Jamail's latest "Meanwhile, in Iraq..." (Iraq Dispatches):

For the last several days at least 6,000 US soldiers along with approximately 4,000 Iraqi soldiers (Read-members of the Kurdish Peshmerga and Shia Badr Army) were laying siege to the city of Tal-Afar, near Mosul in northern Iraq. It is estimated that 90% of the residents have left their homes because of the violence and destruction of the siege, as well as to avoid home raids and snipers.
The Fallujah model is being applied yet again, albeit on a smaller scale. I haven't received any reports yet of biometrics being used (retina scans, finger printing, bar coding of human beings) like in Fallujah, but there are other striking similarities to the tactics used in November.
While the US military claims to have killed roughly 200 "terrorists" in the operation, reports from the ground state that most of the fighters inside the city had long since left to avoid direct confrontation with the overwhelming military force (a basic tenet of guerrilla warfare).
Again like Fallujah, most of the families who fled are staying in refugee camps outside the city in tents amidst horrible conditions in the inferno-like heat of the Iraqi summer.
The LA Times reported that Ezzedin Dowla, a Turkmen leader in the area said, "Families are homeless and the government has not provided any shelter, food or drink for them." Nor has the US military.
The targets of this military operation are the Sunni Turkmen who are politically on the side of the Sunni Arabs. Most Sunnis will be voting against the constitution during the coming vote of October, 15th.
The Cheney Administration is desperate for something it can spin as "good news" from Iraq; thus, it most certainly behooves them to have the referendum on the constitution to boast about. But in order to do so, the voting ability and power of the Sunni (and Sunni Turkmen) must be severely compromised, as well as punishment meted out for rightfully assuming what will be a Sunni no-vote on the constitution.
Both the Cheney Administration and its current puppet-government in Iraq benefit from destroying the voting (and living) ability of the majority of people in the "Sunni triangle," so we have the operation in Tal-Afar, most likely to be followed by similar operations in Al-Qa'im, Haditha, Samarra, and possibly more.

Rod passes on that scheduled topic for today's Democracy Now! include:

As President Bush travels to New Orleans to deliver a prime-time speech tonight, we continue our coverage of hurricane Katrina.
We'll get a report from the ground as well as hear an excerpt of a debate between British MP George Galloway and author and columnist Christopher Hitchens discussing New Orleans.

And let me do a note of thanks because I'll forget if I don't do it now. Thanks to members for their patience. Topics that I didn't get around to but need to I will try to suggest to The Third Estate Sunday Review. (One topic, I know they'll go for because I was speaking to Jim about it yesterday after the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin.) Thank yous to Dallas, Shirley and Eli who helped so much this week hunting down links. (Dallas always helps with that but even more so this week.) All I've basically done all week is dictate entries over the phone. For the mid-morning post (the Democracy Now! one), I had e-mail print outs so I could give the links that way. But for these morning posts especially, they were all three working with any and every friend I could draft to take these down for me. Also a big thank you to everyone I enlisted to take down entries over the phone. I'd thought this would be a test run for next week but it ended up being an all week thing. I apologize and thank everyone for their help.

(And the delay yesterday was not Rebecca's fault. She did an apology on that yesterday at her site which I haven't had time to read. But it wasn't her fault. The Blogger program itself had an issue with what she's wanted added to the posts. It wasn't the simple error message and it didn't have anything to do with her. She brought it up before the roundtable when we were all on the phone and I don't want her taking the fall for something that wasn't her fault.)

Ruth notes that Pacifica's regular (strong) programming returns today with time out for this special:

Pacifica National Coverage on Hurricane Katrina
Friday, September 16th
10 am to 1 pm Pacific
To honor the victims of Hurricane Katrina, one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, the Pacifica Radio Network will present special programming dedicated to the lives that have been lost and the hundreds of thousands of people displaced in the Gulf Coast region.
The Pacific Radio Network is committed to providing our listeners with stories about the devastation and despair, and also, the incredible courage, compassion, and determination of the victims and people who have directly given their time and support to help these survivors.

That announcement is from KPFA in Berkeley so adjust for other time zones.

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Ruth also notes that CounterSpin has a new program today online. If it's not broadcast in your area or if you miss it, you can listen to CounterSpin online.

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