"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Friday, September 02, 2005

The ‘Knuckled-headed’ Neocons and the ‘Do-nothing’ Congress.

The Story Of The Hurricane Cowboy Who Fiddled While New Orleans Drowned

Why did Bush vacation – cut wood, clear brush, bike, and read -- for days while the world watched Katrina develop, then slam as a category 4 hurricane into the Gulf Coast? Just as he did on September 11, 2001, he froze. They don’t have cable or telephones in Crawford? The unfolding catastrophe has Bush leadership skills, or lack thereof, written all over it. He treats his own citizens with the same contempt and callousness as he does the Iraqi civilians – as “collateral damage.” If a category 4 hurricane is not a “bomb” dropping on American soil, what is? Bush remained on vacation one whole day after Katrina hit, WAITING FOR WHAT? The federal government was ‘missing in action’ and has failed its citizens abysmally. And Congress... where the hell are they? They rushed back to Washington over night for one woman’s feeding tube, but can’t seem to find the way back for a destructive hurricane that most likely killed thousands. Are these Americans too poor or not expounding the right religion to garner attention the Trade Tower victims received? They all sat and watched this train wreck, now they are screwing up the rescue and salvage, probably busy searching for the ‘scapegoat’ du jour. Did the Bush administration and Congress want to create a situation where they could declare martial law? Looks like it.

New Orleans has become a war zone. Martial law declared. Since when is a policy of "you loot, we shoot" appropriate for people just trying to survive until help arrives? THEY ARE DYING. So are they ‘looters’ or ‘survivors’ (like the TV show “Survivor” Americans loves to love)? So what if in addition to food, water, diapers, and medical supplies, they take some jeans? They’ve been wearing oil, chemical and sewer-soaked clothes for days. They’re wading through floating, decaying dead bodies. New Orleans is and will be uninhabitable for three to six months at least, so the merchandise is already a write-off. Think about it? Would you want this merchandise? Let good come from it while it can.

The ‘survivors’ have obtained weapons and are using them. Escaped prisoners riot and hold hostages. People go ‘feral’ displaying ‘pack’ and/or ‘mob’ behaviors when threatened their lives are in ‘great peril.’ Unfortunately, in America you can find a gun anywhere in virtually any caliber, so chaos reigns. A "loot-shoot" policy only exacerbates the problem. Relief workers received orders to divert efforts from ‘saving people’ to ‘crime fighting’. Why choose ‘property’ over ‘life’? The policy lacks common sense, compassion, or understanding of the survival instinct. CNN has images of people dead and dying on camera. Their reporters are watching people – children and elderly – die before their eyes. The sick, injured, dehydrated, starving, and scared feel abandoned. In the hot, stinking Superdome, where 25,000 refugees await evacuation, fires and fighting are breaking out. Fear, anger, and hopelessness will push conditions to a boil, and more people than necessary will die – mostly the innocent victims of this horrible disaster.

Do we need to request U.N Aid and Peace Keeping Forces? It appears we lack the expertise and leadership to prevent or deal with a major national crisis. Why aren't these convoys and helicopters dropping in water, food, and medicine to these trapped individuals? Yes, conditions are deteriorating, but our National Guard soldiers fly helicopters through Iraq every day taking gunfire for a far less legitimate cause. Is the relief work necessary beyond the Bush administration's capabilities? We do not posses the numbers of National Guard soldiers and relief workers necessary to get this situation under control. Just like Iraq – not enough bodies on the ground to do the job. Bush cut funding to New Orleans hurricane preparations by $72.1 million and gave eight jets to Pakistan – FREE – valued at $36 million each = $288 million. Get the picture. ‘Survivors’ of this crisis sure could use that $288 million and the $5.6 billion per month [this breaks down to almost $186 million a day] or $672 BILLION PER YEAR the Neocons are throwing at Iraq, plus the billions in pork given to corporations this year alone.

Even worse, image you’re a National Guard soldier in Iraq that has family, friends, and property in ‘harm’s way, but are stuck policing the streets of Iraq. The irony of the situation is macabre. You were sent to fight an urban guerilla war based on a 'buffet' of evolving lies and rationales -- perhaps on your second or third tour -- and your family is back home dealing with this mess alone -- homeless, injured, starving, drowning, or dying -- and you are not there and you don't have a clue what their condition is because no one else does. Tragic irony. They face an uncertain future and still may die themselves on a street or road in Iraq. In the news, they hear of over-the-top CEO salaries, while Florida hotels evict refugee families so fans can attend a football game. How would you feel to discover your loved ones where not evacuated, even though it was known a category 4 or 5 hurricane was approaching? Or even worse, they still stuck in the disaster area because at your pay scale, they just couldn’t afford to leave.

A reckoning time is here. The ‘Hurricane Cowboy’ has a lot to answer for, as do the ‘knuckled-headed’ Neocons and the ‘do-nothing’ Congress. This tragedy should have been prevented. Hundreds of thousands of Americans lives completely destroyed while Bush fiddled with a guitar, went on a two-day speaking jaunt/fund-raiser to California and Arizona, and ‘read’ a speech, ironically to a group of sailors and WWII veterans:

"This morning, our hearts and prayers are with our fellow citizens along the Gulf Coast," Bush said. "We know that many are anxious to return to their homes. It's not possible at this moment."

His heart and prayers may have been there, but his ass sure wasn’t.

Amanda Lang, PhD < innovator@comcast.net > conducts research in Organizational and Technological Innovation primarily in the area of New and Strategic Business Development. A former professor, Amanda retired to Georgia and restores and fabricates replicas of vintage, classic, antique wooden boats, such as the '34 Garwood "Gentlemen's Racer" with her husband, while serving as a news editor at www.opednew.com. She is a US Army Veteran, honorably discharged in '79. Her motto: "Hysteria is always one frame of mind away...why not keep it there?"

George Bush...Froze Like A Rabbit In The Headlamps

The Humbling of a Superpower

Like some lurid scene from an apocalyptic disaster movie, a world famous city is overwhelmed by the awesome forces of nature.

Familiar landmarks lie half-submerged in a toxic swamp of polluted water. Thousands are feared dead. Images of desperate people smashing through the roofs of their homes to escape the floods fill our TV screens.

But this is no Hollywood blockbuster. This is New Orleans today.

The most exotic, un-American corner of the United States has fallen victim to a cataclysm that almost defies belief.

A city the size of Sheffield will soon be lying completely empty, its residents fled, evacuated, or drowned.

While Washington struggles to respond to the storm that has humbled the most powerful nation on the planet, we should perhaps reflect on how quickly the thin veneer of civilisation can be stripped away.

The city's mayor has to order 1500 police officers to stop searching for survivors and instead combat looting&a police food lorry is ransacked while its crew is shot at by an armed gang&even a rescue helicopter comes under fire.

Meanwhile, four days after Hurricane Katrina, the federal Government is still struggling to come up with a viable rescue and recovery plan.

Perhaps we shouldn't be so surprised. George Bush, so decisive when it came to launching an illegal war on Iraq, froze like a rabbit in the headlamps.

It was more than two days after Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans before he cut short his month long holiday - as overwhelmed state authorities struggled to cope.

Now back in Washington, the President finds his reckless adventure in Iraq coming back to haunt him.

The National Guard, the part-time soldiers whose prime role is to provide emergency services in natural disasters, have in large part been deployed overseas.

Five thousand members of the Louisiana National Guard who should be spearheading the rescue effort watch the disaster unfold from their HQ - Camp Liberty, west of Baghdad. Equipment that could have been so valuable in the rescue operations is parked in depots there.

The same is happening across all the neighbouring states, leaving Washington bereft of vital manpower as it grapples with the greatest homeland crisis in memory.

Here is a superpower that can crush at will a tinpot dictatorship - but then becomes so bogged down in the grisly aftermath of war that it finds itself unable to respond anything like adequately to the plight of tens of thousands of its own citizens engulfed by a natural calamity.

President Bush, his ratings already in free-fall, could pay a high price indeed for his military folly.

The Daily Mail
©2005 Associated Newspapers Ltd ·

Bush Strafes New Orleans

Where is our Huey Long?

"There is no such thing as a "natural" disaster. Hurricanes happen, but death comes from official neglect, from tax cuts for the rich that cut the heart out of public protection. The corpses in the street are victims of a class war in which only one side has a general."

The National Public Radio news anchor was so excited I thought she'd piss on herself: the President of the United had flown his plane down to 1700 feet to get a better look at the flood damage! And there was a photo of our Commander-in-Chief taken looking out the window. He looked very serious and concerned.

That was yesterday. Today he played golf. No kidding.

I'm sure the people of New Orleans would have liked to show their appreciation for the official Presidential photo-strafing, but their surface-to-air missiles were wet.

There is nothing new under the sun. In 1927, a Republican President had his photo taken as the Mississippi rolled over New Orleans. Calvin Coolidge, "a little fat man
with a notebook in his hand," promised to rebuild the state. He didn't. Instead, he left to play golf with Ken Lay or the Ken Lay railroad baron equivalent of his day.

In 1927, the Democratic Party had died and was awaiting burial. As depression approached, the coma-Dems, like Franklin Roosevelt, called for balancing the budget.

Then, as the waters rose, one politician finally said, roughly, "Screw this! They're lying! The President's lying! The rich fat cats that are drowning you will do it again and again and again. They lead you into imperialist wars for profit, they take away your schools and your hope and when you complain, they blame Blacks and Jews and immigrants. Then they push your kids under. I say, Kick'm in the ass and take your rightful share!"

Huey Long laid out a plan: a progressive income tax, real money for education, public works to rebuild Louisiana and America, an end to wars for empire, and an end to financial oligarchy. The waters receded, the anger did not, and Huey "Kingfish" Long was elected Governor of Louisiana in 1928.

At the time, Louisiana schools were free, but not the textbooks. Governor Long taxed Big Oil to pay for the books. Rockefeller's oil companies refused pay the textbook tax, so Long ordered the National Guard to seize Standard Oil's fields in the Delta.

Huey Long was called a "demagogue" and a "dictator." Of course. Because it was Huey Long who established the concept that a government of the people must protect the people, school, house, and feed them and give every man or woman a job who needs one.

Government, he said, "We The People," not plutocrats nor Halliburtons, must build bridges and levies to keep the waters from rising over our heads. All we had to do was share the nation's wealth we created as a nation. But that meant facing down what he called the "concentrations of monopoly power" to finance the needs of the public.

In other words, Huey Long founded the modern Democratic Party. Franklin Roosevelt and the party establishment, scared senseless of Long's ineluctable march to the White House, adopted his program, called it the New Deal, and later The New Frontier and the Great Society.

America and the party prospered.

America could use a Democratic Party again and there's a rumor it's alive -- somewhere.

And now is the moment, as it was in '27. As the bodies float in the streets of New Orleans, now is not the time for the Democrats to shirk and slink away, bleating they can't "politicize" this avoidable disaster.

Seventy-six years ago this week, Huey Long was shot down, assassinated at the age of 43. But the legacy of his combat remains, from Social Security to veterans' mortgage loans.

There is no such thing as a "natural" disaster. Hurricanes happen, but death comes from official neglect, from tax cuts for the rich that cut the heart out of public protection. The corpses in the street are victims of a class war in which only one side has a general.

Where is our Huey Long? America needs just one Kingfish to stand up and say that our nation must rid itself of the scarecrow with the idiot chuckle, who has left America broken and in danger while he plays tinker-toy Napoleon on other continents.

I realize that the middle of rising flood is a hell of a bad time to give Democrats swimming lessons; but it's act up now or we all go under.

A pedagogical note: As I travel around the USA, I'm just horrified at America's stubborn historical amnesia. Americans, as Sam Cooke said, don't know squat about history. We don't learn the names of a nation's capitol until the 82d Airborne lands there. And it doesn't count if you've watched a Ken Burns documentary on PBS.

I suggest starting with this: read "Huey Long" by the late historian Harry T. Williams. If you want to ease into it, get the Randy Newman album based on it (Good Old Boys) with the song, "Louisiana 1927." Listen to part of the song here. Do NOT watch the crappy right-wing agit-prop film, "Huey Long," by Ken Burns.

Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Subscribe to his commentaries or view his investigative reports for BBC Television at www.GregPalast.com.

What A Place, What A City

This Isn't the Last Dance

It has always had my heart in a box.

In the clip-joint souvenir shops in the gaudiest blocks of the Quarter, with canned Cajun music drilling rock-concert-loud into my ears, I could never resist opening the toy wooden coffins to see what was inside. I knew it would be just a cut-rate voodoo doll -- a wad of rags, cheap plastic beads and blind, button eyes. But every time, it made me smile. What a place, what a city, that can make you laugh at coffins and believe in magic -- all the way to the cash register.

What a place, where old women sit beside you on outbound planes complaining about their diabetes while eating caramel-covered popcorn a fistful at a time. "It's hard, so hard, sweet baby," they will say of their disease, then go home and slick an iron skillet with bacon grease, because what good is there in a life without hot cornbread?

What a place, where in the poorest cemeteries the poorest men and women build tin-foil monuments to lost children in a potter's field, while just a few blocks over, the better-off lay out oyster po' boys and cold root beer and dine in the shade of the family crypt, doing lunch with their ancestors and the cement angels in cities of the dead.

What a place, so at ease here at the elbow of death, where I once marched and was almost compelled to dance in a jazz funeral for a street-corner conjurer named Chicken Man, who was carried to his resting place by a hot-stepping brass band and a procession of mourners who drank long-neck beers and laughed out loud as his hearse rolled past doorways filled with men and women who clapped in time.

Now, for those of us who borrowed that spirit and used that love and then moved away, these past few awful days have seemed like a hospital death watch -- and, in fact, for so many people it has been. And we stare deep into the television screen, at the water that had always seemed like just one more witch, one more story to scare ourselves into a warmer, deeper sleep, and we wonder if there is just too much water and too much death this time.

Ever since I was barely in my twenties, I have loved the way some men love women, if that means unreasonably. I fell in love with the city and a Louisiana State University sophomore on the same night, eating shrimp cooked seven ways in the Quarter, riding the ferry across the black, black river where fireworks burned the air at Algiers Point. I drank so much rum I could sleep standing up against a wall. The sophomore left me, smiling, but the city never did.

There is no way to explain to someone who has never lived here why every day seemed like parole. Every time I would swing my legs from under the quilt and ease my toes onto the pine floors of my shotgun double, I would think, I am getting away with something here.

How long now before the streetcar rattles down St. Charles Avenue and beads swing into the 200-year-old trees? How long before Dunbar's puts the chicken and stewed cabbage on the stove, or the overworked ladies at Domilisie's dress a po' boy on Annunciation Street, or the midday drinkers find their way back to Frankie and Johnny's on Arabella Street? Does my old house still stand on Joseph? It was high, high ground, on the lip of the bowl, and you could hit the Mississippi River with a silver dollar if you threw it twice.

I cannot stand the idea that it is broken, unfixable. I look at the men using axes to hack their way into 100-year-old houses to save people trapped there by the suffocating water. I know there is life and death to be fought out for a long, long time. But I can't help but wonder what will come, later.

My wife, as wives do, voiced what most of us are afraid to say.

"I'm glad you took me there," she said. "Before."

We went there on our honeymoon.

Just a few weeks ago, I spent a week there, walking along Magazine, walking the Quarter, not minding the heat because that is what the devil sends, heat and water, to make you appreciate the smell of crushed cherries and whiskey on the balcony at the Columns Hotel, to make you savor the barbecued shrimp, to make you hear, really hear, the sound of a 12-year-old boy blowing his own heart out into a battered trumpet by a ragged cardboard box full of pocket change.

How long, before that city reforms. Some people say it never will.

But I have seen these people dance, laughing, to the edge of a grave.

I believe that, now, they will dance back from it.

Rick Bragg is an author and journalist.


The Democrats and the War

Evil? Yes; Spineless? No

Standard fare in the mainstream media as well as in both Left and Libertarian blogs, web sites and magazines, is that the Democrats are spineless. But this view simply does not fit the facts, and it is dangerous to boot, because it leads us to underestimate one of our most sinister and cynical pro-war adversaries, the Democratic Party establishment. For, if left to their own devices, the Dems will do what Kucinich warned of and substitute a Democratic for a Republican version of the war on Iraq.

The conventional wisdom is that the Dems are afraid to stand up to Bush's war, because they fear the accusation of being "soft on terrorism" or downright treasonous. And, we are told by the liberal punditocracy, this sort of charge will prevent our poor Dems from winning elections and ending the war which, deep down, they really oppose. So what's a poor Dem to do? Obviously call for "staying the course." This analysis is ever so convenient for the Dems. It gets the likes of Kerry, H. Clinton, Dean, Biden, Cleland and the rest, marvelously off the hook, bringing them the support of the anti-war forces. These are good men and women, we are told, just trying to win elections in the face of the ignorance of the benighted masses so as to bring us peace! Thus are hawks transmogrifed into doves, even as they cry out for more bloodshed, more troops and more death and destruction.

This whole whacko analysis cannot stand up to reality. First, the country, by a significant majority according to the polls, is against the war and long has been ­ even before the last presidential election. Now 60% want some or all troops withdrawn at once. The least popular option, the one favored by leading Democrats, is to send more troops, an option that draws the support of less than 10%, with 57%, saying they would be "upset" at such a move. Why would anyone wanting to win an election champion a view which hardly anyone favors and is even less popular than Bush's? Second, take as an example a senator like California's Diane Feinstein who is not planning to run for president and comes from a solidly anti-war state, so an anti-war position is no danger for her. And yet she calls for "staying the course."

No, the idea of the spineless but virtuous Democrat does not hold up. The real reason has to be that the Dems do not give a damn about the electorate. The Dem establishment must in fact favor the war. And the reason is not hard to find. They play to the same real but hidden constituencies as the Republicans ­ the oil tycoons, AIPAC, the barons of the military industrial complex and those who make their fortunes from empire, ranging from the banks to Bechtel. This is their class and if one of the pols dares play traitor to his class, he or she will soon be an outcast. Ask Ted Kennedy. When Kennedy called for immediate withdrawal from Iraq last January, he was virtually denounced by the rest of the Dem leadership. And although the media is afflicted with many and mortal problems, do not tell me that the media makes it impossible for the Dems to take a strong anti-war position. When Kennedy did so, it was all over the media from the front pages of the dailies to the Sunday morning TV talk shows.

The Dems know full well there is an enormous anti-war constituency out there. If they used their considerable resources to organize it and give voice to it, then it would quickly prevail. A sorry example is Cindy Sheehan's effort. Not a single major Democrat has shown up at Camp Casey. They are blowing off Sheehan just like Bush.

In fact far from being cowardly, the Dems are showing considerable spine in standing up to the anti-war constituency that routinely does the leg work and contributes the dollars to elect them. Here their courage and resolve befit heroes of Homeric proportions. In the face of powerful anti-war sentiment from their loyalists, the Dems resolutely call for "staying the course" in the war for which they voted. Now there is spine. There is fortitude, both testicular and ovarian.

But the Dems have now been exposed and about the last excuse they have for "staying the course" is to "help" the Iraqis. Of course they uttered no such sentiment when Clinton was imposing sanctions that resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi kids, a price Madeline Albright famously said was worth it to pressure Saddam Hussein. So the Dems either cry crocodile tears over the fate of the Iraqis, or avoid all mention of the war or else, like Russ Feingold, call for endless discussions of "exit strategies." I prefer the sentiment splashed across the cover of the paleocon American Conservative which proclaimed: "We do not need an exit strategy. We need an exit."

So next time you hear that the problem with the Dems is their spinelessness, do not believe a word of it. They are quite courageous in facing down their voting base to peddle death and destruction. To view them otherwise is to underestimate a potent, treacherous and insidious adversary of the anti-war movement.

John Walsh can be reached at jvwalshmd@gmail.com.