Monday, September 26, 2005

Katrina Encours et Toujours XXII

I took a little break, distracted by a mini trip, an upcoming conference paper, and less frequent postings coming my way. Katrina is gradually fading from the national consciousness, but NO is still a wreck... After a couple of conversations here and there, I'm getting the impression that the last month is starting to really wear on otherwise strong people. I'm also getting worried about NO rebuilding, because there's currently no low-income housing to speak of.

I've heard several things lately: a crunchies' co-op is now in the Bywater, numbering ca. 50 service industry folk/artists. There are talks afoot by the elite to remake NO completely, and there's not much talk about building low-income housing. Arby's now pays 12 USD/hour in Metairie, but still can't find a crew -- as there's nowhere for anyone to live. I imagine migrant contract workers will turn up in the coming days, ready to rebuild the city while sharing 12 to a room or even squatting/camping. NO Parish schools won't open till next fall, so NO's going to be childless this year. Claiborne/Carrollton is described as too toxic to enter, let alone rebuild on. What a mess.

1) These are the best photos I've seen yet of the destruction in NO. For locals, these can be really depressing. Be forewarned:

New Orleans flood photos

An inside look from someone who worked down there during the first few days after the storm.

2) Report from one of our readers:

Dear Ones,

Hugs and kisses from Hurricane Alley! Got back into the metro area last Sunday and spent the night at an acquintances house down in Raceland. There were 10 people staying there, 9 of them for the duration. I am now staying in the charming guest room of one of the attendance secretaries at work--she is also putting up one of the music teachers from St. Rose elementary.
It is not at all uncommon to hear about people sheltering 20-30 family members--seems like most everyone has taken in one or two folks. I'm on a list for one of the FEMA trailers the St. Charles parish school board and Dow Chemicals will be installing in Hahnville. I'm calling it Harvard Yard--the best educated trailer park in the South! 30x8 ft. to call my very own--heaven. I spent the weekend up in Mandeville after an anxiety attack and an evacuation order persuaded me to head for the hills.

In the four weeks since we all fell down the rabbit hole, I have not spent more than four consecutive nights in any one place, nor have I ever managed to unpack my car. Of course the advantage is that it makes your next evacuation such a snap.

I got into New Orleans on Wed. afternoon ahead of Rita. Lakeview is a nightmare; mud, debris, that creepy sweet smell of organic rot. But the minute I pulled up outside the house, the gorgeous Yuppie couple from across the street stuck their heads over the mangled wreck that used to be their fence and yelled "hi" while waving cheerily. It made me just a little verklempt. The sun room of the apartment below mine looked like an abandoned aquarium--the mud line went all the way to the tops of the windows, on the inside of the glass. Yikes. I had tried to steel myself for all the worst possibilities, but I am happy to report to you boys and girls, that every blessed thing I own was absolutely fine. I got out all the clothes, art, Mardi Gras costumes, family photos, documents, signed books, and other portable, irreplaceable treasures of sentimental value which I have been kicking myself for not taking in the first place. My furniture and housewares were all fine too, but I'll have to try and dig up a rental truck or van (which I'm told is nearly impossible, because Guess which federal agency we all know and love has commandeered them all?) and then find some place to store them for the next 12-18 months, which is my best guess how long it will be before anyone will be able to find functional rental property. I may just decide to make an offering of the whole mess to Poseidon. Whatever.

So I have been very blessed on a material level--didn't lose a thing except, I guess, my lease (as it were). I am still fairly bereft at the loss of my life--that is, you all. I find myself in the unfamiliar territory of living to work. Most everything else that gives me pleasure, meaning, and validation--that is, you all, and the beauty and culture of our fair city--has been pulled out from under me. It sucks, and is disorienting to say the least. But I find solace in the most unexpected places and moments, like my impossibly tan and maniacally cheery neighbors, the return of WWNO/NPR to the arid wasteland of ClearChannel classic rock radio from Houma, the modest graciousness of tens of thousands of Louisianans opening their homes to their neighbors, co-workers, and strangers, the knowledge that many of you are on your way home at this very moment. (I'm getting a little verklempt again. It's a trauma thing, you understand.) I had another moment of tedious and trite revelation while sitting on someone else's back porch and drinking their good wine, watching Rita flail away at our already crippled state. The material world really is ephemeral; ideas and emotions are what endure. We are the foundation upon which the house stands--our hare-brained ideas, our hopelessly unrealistic passions, our skills, our history together, our arms linked resolutely as we march (or skip, mince, and amble--we don't have to be in lockstep here in the Big Easy) forward into the grand and terrifying experiment that is our future. Lemonade anyone?

your Gypsy Rose

3) Another Jordan posting, sent out last Friday:

Dear Friends and Allies,

I spent yesterday in New Orleans, where residents are once again preparing for storm and flooding. In Treme, I spoke with Al, Chief of the Northside Skulls Skeleton Crew, a vital institution of Black Mardi Gras. He hasn't left yet, and says he isn't leaving now. "We're holding on," he says. "I've got plenty of food - I've been feeding people from all over. Let me know if you need anything." I also spoke with the activists from Food Not Bombs, who have set up a food distribution network from a house on Desire Street, and are working on setting up a medical clinic. "We're feeding folks from Central City, Ninth Ward, Treme, all over," said Leenie.

Meanwhile, in Houston, many New Orleans evacuees have been evacuated once agin.

Below is an update from Families and Friends of Louisiana's Incarcerated Children, an excellent organization I've mentioned in a couple of recent articles. They also speak about ways in which you can support their work. Please help them if they can.

The People's Hurricane Fund also is developing a new website, available at

Please check in with them for updates on their work.
New Orleans fights on.

in solidarity,


It has been 22 days since the storm hit, 3 weeks since the levee broke, 20 days since we began witnessing on national TV, the images of thousands of forgotten people fighting to survive and being abandoned by those whose job it was to rescue. Sometimes it feels like it all happened yesterday. Sometimes it feels like years have passed in these last three weeks. There are no more people suffering and dying in the superdome and out on the causeway, but the nightmare is hardly over.

This brief update of what FFLIC has been observing, experiencing and doing is being sent out via a listserve. You are receiving it if you have called or emailed with donation offers, support, words of solidarity or offers to volunteer. We apologize if anyone would prefer not to receive these - please unsubscribe by sending an email to if you do not want to receive any more. You can also have others join by sending an email to that same address.

Thanks to you all

First, of all we want to say thank you to all of you who have supported, donated, and volunteered. We cannot express fully enough how much your solidarity means to us as individuals and as an organization. If we have neglected to return your call or get back to you with a thank you email, please know that we sincerely apologize! It has taken us a minute to get organized and we know some people may have not received the prompt response they should have. Please know that we appreciate every dollar, every computer, every box of paper, every word of encouragement.

Finding Folks

FFLIC is now working with Critical Resistance and Communities United to have volunteers all over the country go shelter to shelter with information for anyone who has a loved one who was locked up or detained in the affected areas when the storm hit. We have volunteers in Arizona, California, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Arkansas, etc. We are talking with people, collecting information, and helping folks call the hotline and facility numbers to locate where their family members are and speaking directly to them or leaving them messages. If you are interested in volunteering with us to help us help folks find their family members, please contact Daniel Horowitz de Garcia at

Going shelter to shelter, here’s what we can tell you about some of what we’ve discovered:
Some shelters are well organized, providing needed services, with staff who are respectful and caring of the survivors. Houston’s convention center was a good example of this. Some are dirty, mis-managed, with racist and unpleasant staff. At the River Center in Baton Rouge, we witnessed dinner being served – a hot dog, a bag of chips and an apple. We also witnessed the National Guardsmen patrolling the sleeping quarters, two at a time with huge AKs slung over their shoulders. The woman who I was helping find her son as her grandson played around us asked me, “why are they here? Are we in prison?” We hear that many Red Cross staff in Lafayette and Lake Charles have been fired and replaced after serious complaints of prejudice and disrespect. One volunteer said she wouldn’t be surprised if folks just got fed up and started rising up against the Red Cross authorities.

All around Louisiana and Texas, local responses to Katrina survivors vary from welcoming to hostile. In Houston, we saw signs and expressions of sympathy and support. In Lake Charles the city is planning to put a fence around the shelter and has doubled law enforcement in areas like the mall and popular restaurants. The theme of treating survivors like prisoners has been repeated over many of our visits and observations. In St. Louis, they just skipped the middle step and created a shelter out of an abandoned prison.

We have been in touch with several of our long time members, for those who know them: Ms. Mathews now has an apartment in Houston after several weeks in the Astrodome, Ms. Flora is safe in Jackson, MS. Ms. Sabrina should be flying out with her 2 sons to Colorado Springs, and Ms. Cortez and Mr. Minoo are both safe. We are still searching for others. If anyone would like to send support to these individuals, please let us know. We are keeping a list of what people need and can get that information to you.

Those who are left in the shelters right now are the folks who have no where else to go. Many are planning on staying there until they can go back to New Orleans. Many are separated from families that are in shelters as far away as Massachusetts, Los Angeles and San Antonio, TX.
People have harrowing, horrifying, overwhelming and inspiring tales of surviving the storm, surviving the evacuation, saving lives, watching loved ones die. It is important that these stories be told and heard. It is important that people know the extent of what went wrong and how people paid the price for it.

We continue to hear the stories of young people and adults locked up who were not evacuated but who had to break free from their cells, sometimes leaving others behind in chest high water that was rising. We continue to hear nothing from state officials that addresses this issue and commits to investigating who was responsible and what will be done to determine how many prisoners lost their lives.

FFLIC’s Hurricane Relief Fund

Our fund is finally being put to good use! We are helping folks with housing, transportation and basic necessities. We have raised over $10,000 thanks to the generosity of dozens of people across the country. We have been moved to tears by the letters and notes which accompany the checks apologizing for not sending more, not being able to do more. Our collective sense of powerlessness is profound. We are determined to overcome it and make something of this tragedy.

Moving Forward

There is so much to do. Hopefully, by next week, we will have an office set up and operating in Lake Charles, Louisiana. We cannot stop with simply gathering the information, finding our members, and helping families reconnect. The fight for a transformed juvenile justice system must continue, but not in isolation. This disaster has illuminated that the racism and oppression which have fueled the juvenile and criminal justice systems in this state for years are the very same which abandoned people to die in our city after the storm hit. For these reasons, we must figure out how to continue to build membership and channel the rage, and righteous indignation that people have into a movement that demands justice on every level – in the short, medium, and long term. FFLIC has joined with Community/Labor United (CLU) to strategize how to do this in a unified, powerful way. For those organizers who would like to come down and support us, please stay in touch with us, we will soon have a clearer sense of all that needs to be done and how to begin the doing.

Last Notes

As folks know, FFLIC is a project of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana (JJPL), a legal and advocacy organization dedicated to transforming Louisiana’s juvenile justice system. JJPL and our Board of Directors have been incredibly supportive of and generous about FFLIC’s work in this crisis while also trying to continue on with the JJ reform work that has been years in the making. We want to invite anyone who would like to donate to JJPL and FFLIC’s efforts, to designate on your checks whether you are making a donation to “JJPL and FFLIC” overall or specifically for the “JJPL/FFLIC Hurricane Relief Fund” which goes to fund the immediate needs of displaced families and children with whom FFLIC is working. JJPL/FFLIC Hurricane Relief Checks can be still sent to:

920 Platt Street, Sulphur, LA 70663.
Checks to JJPL may be sent to Sonji Hart at:
392 Sisters Rd., Ponchatoula, Louisiana, 70454.
Thank you all – with love and respect,
Xochitl, Gina, Grace and Kori

4) That Marigny Spirit:

Marigny streets groove to the sound of music
Makeshift disc jockey keeps the noise alive
By Bruce HamiltonStaff writer
The music is still alive on Frenchmen Street.

From a porch near the corner of Frenchmen and Chartresstreets, the sounds of Dr. John, Professor Longhairand other New Orleans musicians pour out.

"This neighborhood is normally noisy, and I justwanted to make it noisy again," said musician KennyClaiborne, 42, a lifelong New Orleans resident and oneof the owners of the Mermaid Lounge.

Claiborne's "station" started out more as a personalneed than a public service.

"By about day eight, I was going crazy because of nomusic," he said.

Claiborne turned his speakers toward the street from2019 Chartres, and used his 3,350-watt generator tokill the quiet.

"It was an inspirational moment for the neighborhood,"said German Bas, who lives around the corner. "Thatwas the night that things started to lighten up here."Claiborne started spinning CDs, LPs and, with aborrowed Apple G4 computer, MP3 sound files forseveral hours each day.
Other neighbors cheered on the sonic mission, whichhas evolved with community needs. Claiborne startedusing his microphone to make announcements,town-crier-style. Passers-by and military troopscongregated on the street outside and made requests.The stereo station became a focal point, a place tosocialize.

And then one night at about 9, some police officersfrom out of state tried to stop the music.
He turned down the music at the officer's request. Thenext day, a fan in the neighborhood created fliersthat read, "I (heart) Radio Marigny," and posted themon buildings to show the community's support ofClaiborne's effort. She made a sun-bleached, pink"Radio Marigny (heart)" banner, which now flaps gentlybeside a New Orleans city flag above the porch.

The residents who remain are supportive. HerbertLaborde, 88, who was sitting Wednesday on Frenchmaninside his business, Laborde and Sons Printers, saidthe music doesn't bother him.
"It's nice to hear there's somebody alive out there,"he said. "Because I look out my door and north, south,east, west, there's nothing happening. There's life inthe block somewhere. More power to him."

He has done about four "shows" in the area, playingfor the Oregon National Guard, stationed at FrederickDouglass High School, and the "federal city" atHarrah's New Orleans Casino, where various police,military and federal agencies are located.

Military troops, he said, tend to want to hear heavymetal bands such as Pantera. New Orleans police, hesaid, want to hear Al Green.

During Claiborne's off-site shows, he even performedsome live music on bass with guitarist David Jaurequiof Rockin' Dopsie Jr. & The Zydeco Twisters. The duetwas mostly blues. Claiborne found some upbeat forms ofmusic don't have the right emotional timbre for thesituation.

"It's not like we're partying," he said. "It's toosad. I don't want to be fiddling while Rome burns."

With Hurricane Rita hovering in the Gulf, fewer peoplewere around. "I'm just waiting for people to comeback. It's so lonely," he said. He wants to visit hisfamily in Austin, Texas, and his girlfriend in SanFrancisco when things return to normal.

Until then, Galactic and Stanton Moore, the NevilleBrothers and the Soul Rebels will help keep himcompany – along with as his dogs, Stryker and Simon,and his listeners. "I'm just trying to keep the spiritalive as well as the body," he said. "New Orleansisn't dead."

Staff writer Bruce Hamilton can be reached at (504)343-1744.

5) The vultures are circling. Somebody should tell Seminole County what they can do with their tax breaks used to lure NO area companies away just now:

Ruth's Chris headquarters leaving Metairie
By Mary JudiceBusiness writer

The newest publicly traded company in the New Orleansarea plans to leave the city as a result of HurricaneKatrina.

Ruth's Chris Steak House, which began trading onNasdaq last month, has decided to make its temporaryrelocation to the Orlando area permanent.

The company said its Metairie headquarters wasdamaged, communications were down, and that the NewOrleans area "would not be able to support ourcorporate office and our support center for anextended period of time."

The move affects 58 executives and corporate stafferswho worked out of the Metairie office.
Ruth's two company-owned restaurants in New Orleanssuffered flood and wind damage. Craig Miller, Ruth'spresident and chief executive, said he is optimisticthe company will be able to reopen its Metairierestaurant on Veterans Highway. But company officialsare far less optimistic about the Broad Streetrestaurant because they have been unable to assess thedamage at that location.

A Ruth's restaurant in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino inBiloxi, which was scheduled to open the weekendHurricane Katrina hit, suffered significant damage andwill not open until next year, the company said.

Miller said the company chartered a couple of propplanes and flew to New Orleans the first weekend afterthe storm to retrieve computer equipment.

"The first thing people took out were three picturesof Ruth and I," Miller said.

Miller said the company carried insurance on all ofits facilities and expected to report a one-time gainin the third quarter because of the insurancesettlements. Ruth's may also incur one-time chargesfor uninsured losses and asset write-downs.

Ruth's Chris is a national presence with 88restaurants. But its New Orleans influence is seen inall of its restaurants, and the company has used itsties to the Big Easy in its marketing. Miller saidexecutives considered this identity issue andquestioned the impact of not being anchored in NewOrleans.

"It is not merely an office building in Metairie,Louisiana, that dictates who and what Ruth's ChrisSteak House is," Miller said.

Miller said central Florida is a vibrant economic areawith several major restaurant chains and an availablework force. The company received tax breaks fromSeminole County, where it is renovating a21,000-square foot building to house its headquarters.

This is not the first time Ruth's has faced such asetback. In 1965, three months after founder RuthFertel opened her first restaurant, Hurricane Betsydevastated New Orleans. Fertel was able to reopen herrestaurant and cook several thousand pounds of steakover a gas stove. She served the steaks to victims andrelief workers.

6) Killer dolphins on the loose in Lake George...who knew?,6903,1577753,00.html

Armed and dangerous - Flipper the firing dolphin letloose by Katrina
by Mark Townsend Houston
Sunday September 25, 2005
The Observer

It may be the oddest tale to emerge from the aftermathof Hurricane Katrina. Armed dolphins, trained by theUS military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spiesunderwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico.Experts who have studied the US navy's cetaceantraining exercises claim the 36 mammals could becarrying 'toxic dart' guns. Divers and surfers riskattack, they claim, from a species considered to beamong the planet's smartest. The US navy admits it hasbeen training dolphins for military purposes, but hasrefused to confirm that any are missing.

Dolphins have been trained in attack-and-kill missionssince the Cold War. The US Atlantic bottlenosedolphins have apparently been taught to shootterrorists attacking military vessels.
Their coastalcompound was breached during the storm, sweeping themout to sea. But those who have studied thecontroversial use of dolphins in the US defenceprogramme claim it is vital they are caught quickly.

Leo Sheridan, 72, a respected accident investigatorwho has worked for government and industry, said hehad received intelligence from sources close to the USgovernment's marine fisheries service confirmingdolphins had escaped.

'My concern is that they have learnt to shoot atdivers in wetsuits who have simulated terrorists inexercises. If divers or windsurfers are mistaken for aspy or suicide bomber and if equipped with specialharnesses carrying toxic darts, they could fire,' hesaid. 'The darts are designed to put the target tosleep so they can be interrogated later, but whathappens if the victim is not found for hours?'

Usually dolphins were controlled via signalstransmitted through a neck harness. 'The question is,were these dolphins made secure before Katrinastruck?' said Sheridan.

The mystery surfaced when a separate group of dolphinswas washed from a commercial oceanarium on theMississippi coast during Katrina. Eight were foundwith the navy's help, but the dolphins were notreturned until US navy scientists had examined them.

Sheridan is convinced the scientists were keen toensure the dolphins were not the navy's, understood tobe kept in training ponds in a sound in Louisiana,close to Lake Pontchartrain, whose waters devastatedNew Orleans.

The navy launched the classified Cetacean IntelligenceMission in San Diego in 1989, where dolphins, fittedwith harnesses and small electrodes planted undertheir skin, were taught to patrol and protect Tridentsubmarines in harbour and stationary warships at sea.

Criticism from animal rights groups ensured the use ofdolphins became more secretive. But the project gainedimpetus after the Yemen terror attack on the USS Colein 2000. Dolphins have also been used to detect minesnear an Iraqi port.

7) This Gretna story won't be forgotten soon, although I'm sure no local was really surprised:

Bridge emphasizes divide between communities
By Matthew Brown
West Bank bureau

When the Superdome and the Ernest N. Morial ConventionCenter deteriorated into anarchy and food and waterran short, many who tried to escape the floodedstreets of New Orleans found their paths blocked.

Gretna police fired shots over the heads of evacueesstreaming across the Crescent City Connection, asbullhorns blared for them to go back to New Orleans.

In Plaquemines Parish, dozens of sheriff's deputiesraised shotguns and pistols to turn back a convoy ofschool buses attempting to take storm victims tosafety at the Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base inBelle Chasse.

And in Westwego, arriving evacuees had two choices:Leave immediately, or go to an overcrowded shelterwith few supplies where armed guards accompanied by apolice dog prevented anyone from leaving.

The confrontations occurred largely along raciallines: African-American residents of poor sections ofNew Orleans facing off against majority white lawenforcement agencies.

Elected law enforcement officials remain unapologeticover their response and say they would take the samesteps if the city flooded again.

"If you are in your house and they're rioting allaround to get in, are you going to let them in?" askedGretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson. "We saved our cityand protected our people. Our plan worked and we'regoing to stick with our plan. Next hurricane, we'regoing to secure our city the same way."

Lawson added that evacuees "actually would have beenbetter off where they were, because we didn't haveanything for them."

He said his city of 17,000 was overwhelmed with itsown problems at the time: flooded neighborhoods, abarge that damaged the Mississippi River levee, andthe daily task of feeding 800 city employees and otheremergency personnel.

Officials from Plaquemines and Westwego also saidtheir own problems were too great for them to shouldersomeone else's.

But New Orleans elected officials bristle at thesuggestion they should have kept residents in thecity. While acknowledging their own preparations cameup far short, they say getting people out quicklyafter supplies ran short became the only option.

"If he (Lawson) is saying they would do the same thingover again, is he saying the same woman who died onthe ramp because she couldn't get over the bridge, ishe saying he would let that woman die again?" saidCity Council President Oliver Thomas. "I don't thinkhe's thinking that. I think he's talking political.He's just trying to make white folks in Gretna thinkhe's protecting them from all those poor black peoplefrom New Orleans."

Lawson insists he would have taken identical measures"if it had been any ethnic group" coming into hiscity.
The chief's stance has turned him into a folk heroamong his
constituents. Signs nailed to telephonepoles and planted in highway medians proclaim "Thankyou and God bless Chief Lawson" and "Balls is spelledArthur Lawson."

Sitting on the front steps of her shotgun-style houseon Monroe Street, just a few paces from where Gretnapolice had placed barricades to keep out New Orleansresidents, city resident Ida Koenig offered a moremixed reaction.

"If they were stopping looters, God bless 'em. Butmaybe it was just people getting out of harm's way,"said Koenig, 59. "The good suffered for the bad."

But Walter Maestri, Jefferson Parish EmergencyManagement director, said West Bank law enforcementwas justified in its aggressive reaction, particularlygiven the partial burning of the Oakwood ShoppingCenter on Aug. 30.

The fire, attributed to arson, occurred across thestreet from a bus stop where thousands of displacedNew Orleans residents – primarily women and children –had been cordoned off by Gretna police and JeffersonParish sheriff's deputies.

"That was the fear -- these people that came out ofthe Superdome, they had no food, no water.
They weredesperate and, let's be honest, there were some thugsamong them," Maestri said.
Westwego Chief Dwayne "Poncho" Munch said at one pointa call came over the police radio warning of "400 to500 looters coming down the (West Bank) Expresswaytoward Westwego."

That marauding army never arrived, and most lootingturned out to be homegrown.

This week, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Officereported 266 looting arrests since Aug. 29.
Thatincluded 110 residents of the parish's East Bank, 111from the West Bank and three from out of state. Theremaining 42 – about 16 percent of the total – werefrom New Orleans, said sheriff's spokesman Col. JohnFortunato.

Lawson said few, if any, of the 50 people arrested forlooting in Gretna came from other jurisdictions.

"We were not herding criminals, for God's sake," saidNew Orleans Councilwoman Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson,referring to the city's attempt to march people acrossthe Crescent City Connection on foot after evacuationbuses were delayed. "We were sending poor, honest,distressed people who should have been picked up 48hours earlier."

But both Lawson and Munch attributed the low numbersof New Orleans looters to locking down their cities."The sh-- got deep when all those people were comingthrough on that Wednesday and Thursday," Munch said."If you wasn't here, shut your mouth, because youdon't know."
In Plaquemines Parish, Sheriff Jiff Hingle said he wasforced to turn back the school bus convoy headed forthe Naval Air Station because the evacuees "would havebecome our problem."

"All they were going to do was end up destroying mycommunity," he said. "I feel very, very sorry forthem. But they would put such a burden on us that wewould collapse."

John Pine, director of the disaster science andmanagement program at Louisiana State University, saidthe actions on the West Bank underscore howill-prepared the entire region was for the disaster.

"People are raising a lot of questions about race andclass discrimination," he said. "In the law, there'stwo forms of discrimination: One is intentional. Oneis unintentional.

"I look at this situation and see it's not so much theintent of the decision-makers. It just worked out thatway."

But Pine added that the images played out in the media– poor minorities struggling to survive in the face offloodwaters and hostility from their neighbors – haveleft a mark that will be hard to erase.

"Our state is embarrassed," Pine said.

8) From last week's articles:

Predictions of bigger, better New Orleans may be onlyhalf right
Nagin foresees dramatic decrease in population
Officials put priority on letting residents back in
By Robert Travis Scott
Capital bureau

BATON ROUGE – Mayor Ray Nagin said Wednesday heforesees the New Orleans of the near future as a cityof about 250,000 people, about half its populationbefore Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in lateAugust.

As Nagin addressed questions from elected officialsand the public at a meeting in the state Capitol, hedefended his policies to allow citizens limited accessto re-enter the city in the short term and to rebuildNew Orleans in the long term.

"We are going to lose a significant portion of ourpopulation" in the next 12 to 18 months, he said,partly because the city's infrastructure will not beable to handle more. After establishing a populationof about a quarter of a million, "then we'll buildfrom there," Nagin said.

"Let's start to dream about where we can bepost-Katrina," he said.

The city plans to hold meetings in cities where manyNew Orleans residents sou
ght refuge "so the entirecommunity will have a say in the new New Orleans,"Nagin said.

The mayor said he still plans to name task force todirect the rebuilding of the city. It will have about17 people on an executive committee, plus othercommittees with racial and ethnic segments of thecity's population represented. The design of the taskforce is not final, he said, "but I think you're goingto be happy at the end of the day."

The city's priorities are continued rescue efforts,followed by more evacuations, picking up the deceasedand clearing debris, Nagin said. The next priority isto set a schedule for people to re-enter the city sothey can check on their homes, he said.

Several elected officials urged Nagin to move quicklyto let people back into city, even if temporarily.

"People just need to get those little pieces of theirlives they can hold onto," said state Rep. PeppiBruneau, R-New Orleans.
New Orleans City Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewiscalled for
a comprehensive timeline of re-entry plansfor all of the city's neighborhoods. Her request wascouched in a statement that she wants to see theentire city rebuilt, and wants a commitment from Naginthat the city would not set a plan to repopulate onlycertain ZIP codes.

Nagin warned that, if people come back to the city tostay, they should know that hospital facilities arewell below the normal standard and that sewer serviceis faulty. "Our levee systems are beaten down," Naginadded, pointing to the potential for more flooding iffurther rain stresses the water barricades.

"Make sure you are a very mobile person" if you cometo New Orleans, Nagin said.

Nagin last week identified several ZIP codes whereresidents could re-enter the city in a phased scheduleover several days, but he pulled back from that planwhen Hurricane Rita became a threat to the region.

The mayor said he has heard concerns aboutgentrification and that the targeted areas forre-entry tend to favor a repopulation of the city bywhite residents.

Those initial re-entry areas were targeted becausethey are dry, Nagin said. Collectively, 55 percent ofthe population in those ZIP codes is black, 42 percentwhite and the rest Hispanic, he said.

When Rita moves out of the way, the re-entry willstart again on an expedited basis, Nagin said.
Nagin is concerned about people getting hurt in theunsafe conditions, especially in demolishedneighborhoods.

"I struggle with, 'Are we moving too soon? Are wemoving too slow?' " Nagin said. "You guys are pushingme in an area I don't want to go. I don't want to loseanother person."

The entire City Council and nearly all the statelawmakers representing New Orleans attended themeeting.

9) Ms. Noonan here demonstrates the split now emerging within Republican ranks. All I can do, besides gloat, is simply ask why none of them have not simply offered to transfer the funds currently being poured into the corporate corruption of Iraq into Katrina relief? It's a more or less one-for-one trade, and not one Republican politician has yet pointed out this obvious solution:

'Whatever It Takes' Is Bush's big spending a bridge to nowhere?
Thursday, September 22, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

George W. Bush, after five years in the presidency, does not intend to get sucker-punched by the Democrats over race and poverty. That was the driving force behind his Katrina speech last week. He is not going to play the part of the cranky accountant--"But where's the money going to come from?"--while the Democrats, in the middle of a national tragedy, swan around saying "Republicans don't care about black people," and "They're always tightwads with the poor."
In his Katrina policy the president is telling Democrats, "You can't possibly outspend me. Go ahead, try. By the time this is over Dennis Kucinich will be crying uncle, Bernie Sanders will be screaming about pork."

That's what's behind Mr. Bush's huge, comforting and boondogglish plan to spend $200 billion or $100 billion or whatever--"whatever it takes"--on Katrina's aftermath. And, I suppose, tomorrow's hurricane aftermath.

George W. Bush is a big spender. He has never vetoed a spending bill. When Congress serves up a big slab of fat, crackling pork, Mr. Bush responds with one big question: Got any barbecue sauce? The great Bush spending spree is about an arguably shrewd but ultimately unhelpful reading of history, domestic politics, Iraq and, I believe, vanity.

This, I believe, is the administration's shrewd if unhelpful reading of history: In a 50-50 nation, people expect and accept high spending. They don't like partisan bickering, there's nothing to gain by arguing around the edges, and arguing around the edges of spending bills is all we get to do anymore. The administration believes there's nothing in it for the Republicans to run around whining about cost. We will spend a lot and the Democrats will spend a lot. But the White House is more competent and will not raise taxes, so they believe Republicans win on this one in the long term.

Domestic politics: The administration believes it is time for the Republican Party to prove to the minority groups of the United States, and to those under stress, that the Republicans are their party, and not the enemy. The Democrats talk a good game, but Republicans deliver, and we know the facts. A lot of American families are broken, single mothers bringing up kids without a father come to see the government as the guy who'll help. It's right to help and we don't lose by helping.

Iraq: Mr. Bush decided long ago--I suspect on Sept. 12, 2001--that he would allow no secondary or tertiary issue to get in the way of the national unity needed to forge the war on terror. So no fighting with Congress over who put the pork in the pan. Cook it, eat it, go on to face the world arm in arm.

As for vanity, the president's aides sometimes seem to see themselves as The New Conservatives, a brave band of brothers who care about the poor, unlike those nasty, crabbed, cheapskate conservatives of an older, less enlightened era.

Republicans have grown alarmed at federal spending. It has come to a head not only because of Katrina but because of the huge pork-filled highway bill the president signed last month, which comes with its own poster child for bad behavior, the Bridge to Nowhere. The famous bridge in Alaska that costs $223 million and that connects one little place with two penguins and a bear with another little place with two bears and a penguin. The Bridge to Nowhere sounds, to conservative ears, like a metaphor for where endless careless spending leaves you. From the Bridge to the 21st Century to the Bridge to Nowhere: It doesn't feel like progress.

A lot of Bush supporters assumed the president would get serious about spending in his second term. With the highway bill he showed we misread his intentions.

The administration, in answering charges of profligate spending, has taken, interestingly, to slighting old conservative hero Ronald Reagan. This week it was the e-mail of a high White House aide informing us that Ronald Reagan spent tons of money bailing out the banks in the savings-and-loan scandal. This was startling information to Reaganites who remembered it was a fellow named George H.W. Bush who did that. Last month it was the president who blandly seemed to suggest that Reagan cut and ran after the attack on the Marine barracks in Lebanon.
Poor Reagan. If only he'd been strong he could have been a good president.

Before that, Mr. Mehlman was knocking previous generations of Republican leaders who just weren't as progressive as George W. Bush on race relations. I'm sure the administration would think to criticize the leadership of Bill Clinton if they weren't so busy having jolly mind-melds with him on Katrina relief. Mr. Clinton, on the other hand, is using his new closeness with the administration to add an edge of authority to his slams on Bush. That's a pol who knows how to do it.

At any rate, Republican officials start diminishing Ronald Reagan, it is a bad sign about where they are psychologically. In the White House of George H.W. Bush they called the Reagan administration "the pre-Bush era." See where it got them.

Sometimes I think the Bush White House needs to be told: It's good to be a revolutionary. But do you guys really need to be opening up endless new fronts? Do you need--metaphor switch--seven or eight big pots boiling on the stove all at the same time? You think the kitchen and the house might get a little too hot that way?

The Republican (as opposed to conservative) default position when faced with criticism of the Bush administration is: But Kerry would have been worse! The Democrats are worse! All too true. The Democrats right now remind me of what the veteran political strategist David Garth told me about politicians. He was a veteran of many campaigns and many campaigners. I asked him if most or many of the politicians he'd worked with had serious and defining political beliefs. David thought for a moment and then said, "Most of them started with philosophy. But they wound up with hunger." That's how the Democrats seem to me these days: unorganized people who don't know what they stand for but want to win, because winning's pleasurable and profitable.

But saying The Bush administration is a lot better than having Democrats in there is not an answer to criticism, it's a way to squelch it. Which is another Bridge to Nowhere.

Mr. Bush started spending after 9/11. Again, anything to avoid a second level fight that distracts from the primary fight, the war on terror. That is, Mr. Bush had his reasons. They were not foolish. At the time they seemed smart. But four years later it is hard for a conservative not to protest. Some big mistakes have been made.

First and foremost Mr. Bush has abandoned all rhetorical ground. He never even speaks of high spending. He doesn't argue against it, and he doesn't make the moral case against it. When forced to spend, Reagan didn't like it, and he said so. He also tried to cut. Mr. Bush seems to like it and doesn't try to cut. He doesn't warn that endless high spending can leave a nation tapped out and future generations hemmed in. In abandoning this ground Bush has abandoned a great deal--including a primary argument of conservatism and a primary reason for voting Republican. And who will fill this rhetorical vacuum? Hillary Clinton. She knows an opening when she sees one, and knows her base won't believe her when she decries waste.

Second, Mr. Bush seems not to be noticing that once government spending reaches a new high level it is very hard to get it down, even a little, ever. So a decision to raise spending now is in effect a decision to raise spending forever.

Third, Mr. Bush seems not to be operating as if he knows the difficulties--the impossibility, really--of spending wisely from the federal level. Here is a secret we all should know: It is really not possible for a big federal government based in Washington to spend completely wisely, constructively and helpfully, and with a sense of personal responsibility. What is possible is to write the check. After that? In New Jersey they took federal Homeland Security funds and bought garbage trucks. FEMA was a hack-stack.

The one time a Homeland Security Department official spoke to me about that crucial new agency's efforts, she talked mostly about a memoir she was writing about a selfless HS official who tries to balance the demands of motherhood against the needs of a great nation. When she finally asked for advice on homeland security, I told her that her department's Web page is nothing but an advertisement for how great the department is, and since some people might actually turn to the site for help if their city is nuked it might be nice to offer survival hints. She took notes and nodded. It alarmed me that they needed to be told the obvious. But it didn't surprise me.

Of the $100 billion that may be spent on New Orleans, let's be serious. We love Louisiana and feel for Louisiana, but we all know what Louisiana is, a very human state with rather particular flaws. As Huey Long once said, "Some day Louisiana will have honest government, and they won't like it." We all know this, yes? Louisiana has many traditions, and one is a rich and unvaried culture of corruption. How much of the $100 billion coming its way is going to fall off the table? Half? OK, let's not get carried away. More than half.
Town spending tends to be more effective than county spending. Count
y spending tends--tends--to be more efficacious than state spending. State spending tends to be more constructive than federal spending. This is how life works. The area closest to where the buck came from is most likely to be more careful with the buck. This is part of the reason conservatives are so disturbed by the gushing federal spigot.

Money is power. More money for the federal government and used by the federal government is more power for the federal government. Is this good? Is this what energy in the executive is--"Here's a check"? Are the philosophical differences between the two major parties coming down, in terms of spending, to "Who's your daddy? He's not your daddy, I'm your daddy." Do we want this? Do our kids? Is it safe? Is it, in its own way, a national security issue?

At a conservative gathering this summer the talk turned to high spending. An intelligent young journalist observed that we shouldn't be surprised at Mr. Bush's spending, he ran from the beginning as a "compassionate conservative." The journalist noted that he'd never liked that phrase, that most conservatives he knew had disliked it, and I agreed. But conservatives understood Mr. Bush's thinking: they knew he was trying to signal to those voters who did not assume that conservatism held within it sympathy and regard for human beings, in fact springs from that sympathy and regard.

But conservatives also understood "compassionate conservatism" to be a form of the philosophy that is serious about the higher effectiveness of faith-based approaches to healing poverty--you spend prudently not to maintain the status quo, and not to avoid criticism, but to actually make things better. It meant an active and engaged interest in poverty and its pathologies. It meant a new way of doing old business.

I never understood compassionate conservatism to mean, and I don't know anyone who understood it to mean, a return to the pork-laden legislation of the 1970s. We did not understand it to mean never vetoing a spending bill. We did not understand it to mean a historic level of spending. We did not understand it to be a step back toward old ways that were bad ways.

I for one feel we need to go back to conservatism 101. We can start with a quote from Gerald Ford, if he isn't too much of a crabbed and reactionary old Republican to quote. He said, "A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have."

The administration knows that Republicans are becoming alarmed. Its attitude is: "We're having some trouble with part of the base but"--smile--"we can weather that."

Well, they probably can, short term.

Long term, they've had bad history with weather. It can change.

Here are some questions for conservative and Republicans. In answering them, they will be defining their future party.

If we are going to spend like the romantics and operators of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society;
If we are going to thereby change the very meaning and nature of conservatism;
If we are going to increase spending and the debt every year;
If we are going to become a movement that supports big government and a party whose unspoken motto is "Whatever it takes";

If all these things, shouldn't we perhaps at least discuss it? Shouldn't we be talking about it?

Shouldn't our senators, congressmen and governors who wish to lead in the future come forward to take a stand?

And shouldn't the Bush administration seriously address these questions, share more of their thinking, assumptions and philosophy?

It is possible that political history will show, in time, that those who worried about spending in 2005 were dinosaurs. If we are, we are. But we shouldn't become extinct without a roar.

10) Here's a posting from a USG employee. Even though I could agree with some of these cuts, I wonder why we don't just pull out of Iraq and save ourselves 4-5 times as much as these proposed cuts:

Got this info from the Kaiser Daily Health Policy report. Note second item:
"Programs that may be cut, shrunk
A group of conservative Republicans led by Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana proposed a variety of spending cuts to pay for hurricane relief efforts along the Gulf Coast. A sample:
Proposal savings 2006
Daily Medicare prescription drug benefit $30.8 billion
Reduce funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention $1.8 billion
Restrict first-responder grants that help local governments prepare for terrorism $630 million
Eliminate funding for Corporation for Public Broadcasting $400 million
Eliminate funding for National Endowment for the Humanities $143 million
Charge federal employees for parking $140 million
Freeze payments for U.N. peacekeeping operations $93 million
Eliminate funding for clean coal technology $50 million
Close elementary, secondary schools in U.S. operated by the Pentagon $18 million
Decline pay raise for members of Congress $1 million
Source: House Republican Study Committee"

Completely eliminating funding for PBS, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the UN, and clean energy sources……hm… it just me, or is there a pattern here? Also notice that allowing the repeal of the estate tax to expire, which would bring in an additional $10 billion a year, doesn't even get mentioned.

11) Here's an article rewriting Bush's speech 10 days ago about Katrina reconstruction. Yup, pretty much sums it up:

Liar, Liar, By Jason Miller 9-17-5

If George Bush had encountered the same fate as Jim Carrey,s character in the movie Liar Liar, and had been rendered incapable of lying, America would not have been subjected to thirty minutes of manipulative propaganda on 9/15. Compelled to tell the truth, Bush's oration would have captured the reality of the situation in New Orleans, and of life for the poor and working class in an America dominated by a wealthy aristocracy:


Good evening. It is a very good evening for me. I am still an obscenely wealthy and powerful autocratic leader of a nation of sheeple who falsely believe they are free. While I am surrounded by misery and suffering, I make this presentation of shameless propaganda from a comfortable, beautiful stage set while surrounded by an entourage of thugswho assure my safety. I am speaking to you from what is left of the city of New Orleans, a gem of an American city which was gutted by a powerful forceof nature, and by the insidious social experiment undertaken by my malevolent administration. Millions of lives were destroyed by a cruel and wasteful storm, and by a cruel and wasteful federal government over which I zealously preside. In the aftermath of Katrina, the haves of this nation have gleefully watched the have-nots dispersed to the four corners of this great nation.

As the victims search for loved ones and grieve for the dead, America's attention is diverted from my nomination of a Supreme Court Justice who will strengthen the tyranny I have created, Karl Rove's criminal behavior, and my administration's numerous war crimes related to Iraq. The lies and exaggerations of my media lap-dogs have persuaded many Americans that blacks are undisciplined animals who live off of government hand-outs, feeding my agenda to end social welfare programs and perpetuating the lucrative prison-industrial complex. With their persistent cries for civil rights, blacks have been a thorn in the side of the American aristocracy long enough. These days of joy and elation for me and my base have been marred by acts of courage and kindness by members of the Coast Guard, who rescued tens ofthousands of the undesirables in New Orleans. Rest assured that my administration will deal with them accordingly.

I have met first responders who performed their duties in spite of their own suffering. Steve Scott of the Biloxi Fire Department aided in rescue efforts despite having lost his house and car. For his obstruction of the purge of undesirables, I will see to it that he loses more than just his physical possessions. Across the Gulf Coast, the people whose suffering I facilitated are showing a spirit and a faith in God which not even I could crush. However, there isa powerful determination amongst corporations, contractors, and entrepreneurs to take what is left of these battered areas and utilize them for personal financial gain. Like me, they have no compassion or humility. Our relentless bid for wealth and power will eventually break the backs of the downtrodden. To the victims of the hurricane dispelled far and wide, I send you this message. Many soft, weak people I call "liberals" care about you. In contrast, my base of the obscenely wealthy and I are relishing your misery. We are salivating at the opportunities to expand our wealth by rebuilding your city with you out of our way. The Crescent City will rise again, and as it does, so will the balances in our bank accounts. The National Guard and our hired thugs from Blackwater have nearly completed the task of quelling the New Orleans insurgency. Those thugs who were stealing food to survive or staying in their homes to protect their meager possessions have nearly been suppressed. Let the scenes of armed militia battering down doors of private homes be a lesson to you otherpotential dissidents across this great nation. As we have restored "law and order" to New Orleans and have scattered the "evacuees" to the wind, we have taken care of the truly important business.

With that mass of worthless humanity out of our way, we have resumed trade in the Port of New Orleans, restored the flow of precious gasoline thatensures profits for me and my cronies in the oil industry, and have repaired the levees to prepare for the impending land grab by wealthy business owners. What I want you to believe is that our first commitment is to meet the immediate needs of the refugees. To help convince you of my concern forthem, I have even started calling them evacuees rather than refugees. However, the reality is that the aid the federal government is offering to the evacuees is window dressing to maintain the facade that we still live in a democracy that is "of the people, by the people, and for the people". After days of inaction on my part, Karl Rove reminded me that if we didn't throw the poor some scraps, we could be looking at civil unrest and rioting across the nation. For assistance, please call this number: 1-877-EAT CAKE. To ensure that Americans believe we are helping the evacuees, but more importantly to start the rebuilding efforts, I have ordered $60 billion in aid. My friends in Congress gave me their usual rubber stamp. Know that this administration has been so generous with your tax dollars because the money will be flowing into the pockets of our friends at Shaw Contracting, Halliburton, and Bechtel National. I have ensured that their profits will be further enhanced by suspending that vexatious Davis-Bacon Act. Forget the damage caused by Katrina. The real tragedy would be if my friends were obligated to pay America's working people reasonable wages, thereby cutting into their disaster profiteering. Our second commitment, and our true agenda, is to rebuild the Gulf Coast. We will not rest until Trent Lott and I are able to share a drink on the front porch of his newly rebuilt home. Many of the 250,000 uninhabitable homes in New Orleans will be bull-dozed to make way for developments to benefit corporations and the wealthy. While we are orchestrating the theft of their homes, we will implement programs to ensure that the poor, black former denizens of New Orleans are permanently relocated to slums and decaying urban cores of other major cities in the US. The federal government will be heavily involved in the rebuilding process. I want my people to have ultimate authority to guarantee that my people prosper from this calamity. Many of the same contractors who were awarded large sums to rebuild the infrastructure in Iraq, and have bilked America's taxpayers of billions of dollars, will get the same opportunity here in New Orleans. We will see to it that the city of New Orleans changes its zoninglaws, to prevent the re-emergence of the disgusting "jungles populated by poor black "animals which existed before Katrina. I pledge a third commitment: The communities that we rebuild will be better than those before the disaster. We have already eliminated the persistentpoverty and racial discrimination prevalent in this region by evacuating the residents to various cities across the nation. Once this region is rebuilt, there will be a multitude of new businesses, including some token minority-owned businesses to pacify the black community. When houses are rebuilt, most of the residents will be white so they can own and not rent. In keeping with our emphasis on businesses and profit over humanity, I am proposing a Gulf Opportunity Zone in areas touched by the disaster. This program will further the interests of entrepreneurs and business people, and move our nation closer to the raw capitalism that is so near and dear to my heart. The Zone will grant loans and tax incentives to businesspeople so they can begin prospering again while the poor continue to suffer. I want you to believe that entrepreneurship breaks the cycle of poverty, but the reality is that without a reasonable degree of government regulation, it perpetuates impoverishment by keeping money in the hands of entrepreneurs who pay meager wages and offer limited benefits to theiremployees. I am also proposing Worker Recovery Accounts to help evacuees find work. This will provide accounts of up to $5000.00 from which evacuees can draw for education, job training and child care as they search for work. I want assurances that the poor who are receiving federal assistance are not using the money to buy crack, and this program will weed out the "trash" of our society. The Urban Homesteading Act, another of my programs I will submit for automatic endorsement by a Congress which is dominated by members of my wealthy base will take the property in the region which the federalgovernment will appropriate from its rightful owners and create a lottery for low-income individuals. Lottery winners will receive a plot of land on which they will be required to build a home. My friends in the mortgage industry will reap the windfalls of providing the financing. Those lottery winners whose credit is too weak to qualify for a loan from my friends will have to rely on Habitat for Humanity to build their homes. If that does not work out, Wal-Mart sells some very affordable tents. New Orleans presents a unique challenge. It is a city built below sea level. Now that we have expelled the scourges of humanity, my Army Corps of Engineers will make the levees bigger and better. I will spare no expense ensuring that my friends' investments are protected from future Katrinas. We have witnessed armies of compassion as Americans have given generously to mitigate the plight of the suffering in New Orleans and throughout the Gulf Region. Because I remained on vacation and FEMA acted with gross ineptitude, the burden to aid the storm victims initially fell upon private charities, organizations like the Red Cross, individual Americans, and religious organizations. This is "compassionate conservatism" in action, and I am delighted to see it working so well. I want you to know that my administration will capitalize upon this disaster, much like we did with the 9/11 tragedy. I have already apprised you of the $60 billion which will flow into the coffers of companies with ties to members of my administration and their friends. The financial windfall will be wonderful, but the true benefit lies in the opportunity to expand our power. I realize that like the WTC catastrophe, the cataclysm in New Orleans has left Americans feeling fearful and insecure. We will prey on this trepidation to broaden executive powers and sweep away the remaining semblance of a republic in America. America, Big Brother is there for you. Above all, remember: 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. While I realize that Americans expect a more effective response from the federal government when a disaster of this magnitude happens, they need to realize that under my New American Century, domestic programs like FEMA have been rendered impotent. The military is the essence of our government. The US military budget, including money for its ancillary departments, is over $600 billion per year. This siphons money away from domestic, humanitarian programs like emergency response, education, and health care. But the good news is that the rich who have high stakes in entities like the Carlyle Group get richer as a result. Besides, my delayed and feeble response in New Orleans enabled the Gulf Region to rid itself of many of its criminal, useless inhabitants. Congress is preparing an investigation of the situation in New Orleans. However, the results will be similar to the probes into 9/11 and Abu Gharib. My administration will see to it that no evidence of ourculpability comes to light, and if perpetrators are punished, they will be lower echelon scapegoats. The trials in the Gulf Coast remind Americans of their strength, as they struggle against the forces of nature, and against the corruption and criminal acts of my administration. These challenges also remind them that the poor and working class are bound together, and that despair touches all of them. Meanwhile my rich friends and I raise glasses of outrageously expensive champagne to toast the new opportunities for enrichment and empowerment. Because my rich, sheltered existence makes it impossible to empathize, I cannot tell you that I understand what you are feeling while you are sitting on the porch where your home once stood or lying on a cot in an over-crowded government internment center. I can say that I doubt that you can imagine a bright future, but rest assured it will come for some of us. My friends and I will prosper at your expense. Before Katrina and I joined forces to destroy it, New Orleans had a custom for funerals for jazz musicians. Following the funeral procession, a band would play a sorrowful dirge. After the coffin was laid to rest, the band would break into a joyful tune to celebrate the soul's victory over death. No such joyous music will emerge from our new New Orleans. My friends and I will erect a hollow, soulless shrine to the avarice and excesses of capitalism. This I promise you. Thank you, and may God continue to bless the wealthy of America.

Jason Miller is a 38 year old activist writer with a degree in liberal arts. He works in the transportation industry, and is a husband and afather to three boys. His affiliations include Amnesty International, the ACLU and the Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Hewelcomes responses at or comments on his blog at

12) Some of this seems pretty transparent -- waiveDavis-Bacon for the regional workers' sake, and ensureno-bid contracts for the national Friends of George'sshareholders' stake. Good thing he's got the Katrinavictims' interests at heart (as in the previous posting):,16441,1575392,00.html

Hurricane aid used 'to test out rightwing socialpolicies'

Julian Borger in Washington
Thursday September 22, 2005
The Guardian

President Bush's multi-billion dollar reconstructionplans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina are being usedas "a vast laboratory" for conservative socialpolices, administration critics claim.
The White House strategy involves the suspension of aseries of regulations guaranteeing the going localwage and affirmative action for minorities, whileoffering tax incentives for businesses in the affectedregion.

Education aid for displaced children will include$500m (£276m) in vouchers for private schools, while asenior Republican has also proposed a new lawpermitting a wide-ranging waiver of environmentalregulations.

The White House has argued that the deregulationmeasures are designed to disentangle the relief effortfrom federal red tape. But Democrats are furious atthe proposals. They view them as an attempt to slipthrough unpopular policies under cover of the wave ofsympathy for Katrina's victims. "The plan they'redesigning for the Gulf coast turns the region into avast laboratory for rightwing ideologicalexperiments," said John Kerry, the party's defeated2004 presidential candidate.

Conservative commentators see the measures as anopportunity to reverse federal entitlement programmesdating back to Franklin Roosevelt's that they argueingrain poverty by encouraging dependency on thegovernment. "The objection to these Bush proposalsisn't fiscal, but philosophical," Rich Lowry, aneditor on the National Review magazine, wrote. "Theyserve to undermine the principle of governmentdependency that underpins the contemporary welfarestate, and to which liberals are utterly devoted."
The focus of Democratic opposition is the White Housedecision to suspend the 1931 Davis-Bacon act, whichrequires firms working under government contract topay locally "prevailing wages" to workers.

Critics argue that the law's suspension will mostlybenefit big corporations such as Dick Cheney's formeremployer, Halliburton, at the expense of the localpoor who need a decent wage more than ever.

Claude Allen, the president's domestic policy adviser,argued that the deregulation measures would help localpeople by making it easier for small businesses tocompete for contracts.
"The purpose of the waiver of Davis-Bacon and otherregulations was to remove red tape so that we couldget at more small businesses, medium-size businessesthat do not currently contract with the federalgovernment, to get them involved in this activity," MrAllen told journalists.

13) Although this analysis strikes me as extreme (as well as dated -- it came last Thursday, and all of the short term predictions didn't come true), some of the trends pointed to seem accurate enough:

RITA: Storm May Be the Coup de Grace for the American Economy and Many of Us As Well
by Michael C. Ruppert

© Copyright 2005, From The Wilderness Publications, All Rights Reserved. May be reprinted, distributed or posted on an Internet web site for non-profit purposes only.

September 21st, 2005 1530 PST (FTW) – As I pack my bags to head to Washington for Congressional Black Caucus hearings on the September 11th attacks (to be conducted this Friday and Saturday) my inbox isbeing progressively flooded with emails from inside sources in the energy industry about what Hurricane Rita is now likely to accomplish – the near-complete destruction of an already teetering US economy.

Fully 30% of all US refining capacity is in the target zone. Perhaps most importantly, almost every refinery capable of producing diesel fuel is in immediate danger. This promises (especially in the wake of Katrina) a devastating and irreplaceable shortage of the diesel fuel needed to power America's harvest of grain and food crops this month and next. Without diesel fuel to power the harvesters and combines, crops may be left to rot in the ground presenting a double whammy: food shortages (with prices that may treble or quadruple) and exportdefaults negatively impacting the financial markets and trade deficit.

Even before Rita strikes, fully 30% of all domestic natural gas production is shut in. The US cannot import natural gas from overseas like it can both crude and refined products. Repair work on infrastructure damaged by Katrina has been halted as crews have been evacuated. The remaining half of Gulf energy production undamaged by Katrina is directly in Rita's crosshairs. Natural gas prices are up over 110% and home heating oil futures are up almost 70% before Rita even gets here. Since Katrina, US domestic oil production is down one million barrels per day (from 5Mbpd to 4 Mbpd). We were producing 9Mbpd less than a decade ago.

Peak Oil has made replacement of losses almost impossible even as Saudi heavy-sour is bei
ng spurned as useless around the world, even with discounts of up to $10 and $12 per barrel.
A Bloomberg article today contains a quotation from a Wall Street energy expert as saying, "`Rita is developing into our worst-case scenario,' said John Kilduff, vice president of risk management at Fimat USA in New York. `This is headed right into our other major refining center just after all the damage done to facilities in Louisiana. From an energy perspective it doesn't get any worse than this.'"

The Chairman of Valero Energy agrees with the Bloomberg assessment calling Rita a potentially national disaster. His opinion is important because Valero operates more refineries in the US than anyother company.
CNN is now predicting $5 per gallon gasoline and this will not likely go away with market manipulations. We had not yet experienced the permanent spikes resulting from Katrina, and the emergency reservesof the United States' Strategic Petroleum Reserve and the International Energy Agency have already been tapped once and not refilled.

The South Texas Project nuclear plant – one of the largest in the country – is being completely shut down in preparation for Rita's landfall. It is only 12 miles from the Texas coast and almost dead center in the hurricane's projected path. Texas has its own power grid but catastrophic electricity shortages could easily ripple throughout the country in a short time. Electricity lost from that facility will only be added to what is lost from other facilities powered by now critically short supplies of natural gas.

For those of you who expect FEMA to behave any differently in Texas than it did in New Orleans you are in for a crude awakening. FEMA will do what it must now do to preserve even a functioning part of America's governing and economic infrastructure. Saving lives will be one of the least important functions in its mandate. While I had serious doubts about America's ability to recover from Katrina, I am certain that – barring divine intervention – the United States is finished; not only as a superpower, but possibly even as a single, unified nation with the arrival of Hurricane Rita.

14) Bush sells Louisiana back to France (would that it were so):

BATON ROUGE, LA. - The White House announcedtoday that President Bush has successfully sold thestate of Louisiana back to the French at more thandouble its original selling price of $11,250,000. "This is a bold step forward for America,"said Bush. "And America will be stronger and betteras a result. I stand here today in unity with FrenchPrime Minister Jack Chirac, who was so kind toaccept my offer of Louisiana in exchange for 25million dollars cash." The state, ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, willcost hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild. "Jack understands full well that this one's a'fixer upper,'" said Bush. "He and the French peopleare quite prepared to pump out all that water, andmake Louisiana a decent place to live again. Andthey've got a lot of work to do. But Jack's assuredme, if it's not right, they're going to fix it." The move has been met with incredulity fromthe beleaguered residents of Louisiana. "Shuba-pie!" said New Orleans resident WillisBabineaux. "Frafer-perly yum kom drabby sham!" However, President Bush's decision has beenwidely lauded! by Republicans. "This is an unexpected but brilliant move bythe President," said Senate Majority Leader BillFrist. "Instead of spending billions and billions,and billions of dollars rebuilding the state ofLouisiana, we've just made 25 million dollars inpure profit." "This is indeed a smart move," commented FoxNews analyst Brit Hume. "Not only have we stoppedthe flooding in our own budget, we've made money onthe deal.

The money gained from 'The Louisiana Refund'is expected to be immediately pumped into therebuilding of Iraq.

15) An analysis of TWC [The Weather Channel]:

16) Katrina reconstruction as anti-immigrant platform:

Dealing with Katrina Sept. 21, 2005
by Phyllis Schlafly

Katrina has displaced hundreds of thousands of Americans who now need food, housing, and cash. Relief for those necessities will have to be temporary and it will be many months before they can return to New Orleans, if ever, so what they need most of all is jobs.

Our government should act immediately to put these displaced Americans in the jobs now held by illegal aliens. Some 10 million illegal aliens are now working in our country, so there is no excuse for not replacing a million of them with unemployed American citizens.

President Bush should announce an immediate crackdown on employers of illegals and set up a hiring database to match up the unemployed with jobs.

Remember how Bush was talking glibly about inviting "willing workers" to come here from other countries? We should give affirmative-action preference to willing workers from Louisiana and Mississippi.
Meanwhile, the Senate voted $10 billion and then ano
ther $50 billion for hurricane relief, and that's all deficit spending. Why not take that money out of foreign aid handouts since we have an obligation to help our own first?
Our guide for dealing with the Katrina disaster should be Dr. Bo
oker T. Washington's speech at the Atlanta Exposition in 1895. Known as one of the most memorable and influential speeches in American history, it is just as timely today as when it was given.
Dr. Washington started by telling the story of a ship lost at sea for many d
ays. When it sighted a friendly vessel, it sent a desperate signal from its mast: "Water, water; we die of thirst!" The friendly vessel signaled back, "Cast down your bucket where you are."

The lost ship signaled again, "Water, water; send us water!" Again the friendly ship sent the message, "Cast down your bucket where you are."
After a third and fourth such exchange, the captain of the distressed vessel finally heeded the injunction and cast down his bucket. It came up full of fresh, sparking water from the mouth of the Amazon River.

Dr. Washington then admonished members of his own race to cast down their buckets "in agriculture, mechanics, in commerce, in domestic service, and in the professions." He cautioned that "in the great leap from slavery to freedom we may overlook the fact that the masses of us are to live by the productions of our hands."

"We shall prosper in proportion as we learn to dignify and glorify common labor and put brains and skill into the common occupations of life," he said. "No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem."

"It is at the bottom of life we must begin, and not at the top. Nor should we permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities."

Booker T. Washington then gave a stern message "to those of the white race who look to the incoming of those of foreign birth and strange tongue and habits for the prosperity of the South. . . . Cast down your bucket among these people who have, without strikes and labor wars, tilled your fields, cleared your forests, built your railroads and cities, and brought forth treasures from the bowels of the earth."

Continuing, Dr. Washington said: "As we have proved our loyalty to you in the past, in nursing your children, watching by the sick-bed of your mothers and fathers, and often following them with tear-dimmed eyes to their graves, so in the future, in our humble way, we shall stand by you with a devotion that no foreigner can approach, ready to lay down our lives, if need be, in defense of yours."

Ever so practical, Dr. Washington counseled that "progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing. . . . The opportunity to earn a dollar in a factory just now is worth infinitely more than the opportunity to spend a dollar in an opera-house."

Booker T. Washington had a dream of bringing "our beloved South a new heaven and a new earth." He called for "that higher good that, let us pray God, will come in a blotting out of sectional differences and racial animosities and suspicions, in determination to administer absolute justice, in a willing obedience among all classes to the mandates of law."

Dr. Washington's speech wowed his audience and was widely reprinted in newspapers all over the country. A faraway Boston newspaper editorialized that "the sensation that it has caused in the press has never been equaled."

President Bush, stop looking for "willing workers" from other countries. Cast down your bucket in America and guide these displaced Americans to jobs now held by those who have no right to be in our country.

Eagle Forumwww.eagleforum.orgPO Box 618 Alton, IL 62002
Phone: 618-462-5415 Fax: 618-462-8909 E-mail:

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?