Saturday, September 03, 2005
"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and those are the ones I have to concentrate on." - G.W.Bu$h (?)
I was able to find an atricle.
"George W. Bush once joked before a Gridiron crowd, "you can fool some of the people all of the time, and those are the ones I have to concentrate on." That offhand joke accurately describes how Bush gains support for his Iraq policy.
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 26, 2001
Press Briefing by Ari Fleischer Aboard Air Force One En Route Kansas City, Missouri
President Speaks to Employees of Bajan Industries in Kansas City, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/03/20010326-6.html )
10:20 A.M. EST
MR. FLEISCHER: If I told you the President began his day with an intelligence briefing, would you laugh?
Q He went to the Gridiron.
MR. FLEISCHER: No sense of humor in the nation's press corps this morning. The President began his day with an intelligence briefing.
Q You can fool some of the people all the time -- concentrate on this.
MR. FLEISCHER: That's why I'm here.
Q We're not some of the people you can -- (laughter.)
In 1975, when New York City teetered on the brink of financial default, the refusal of then-President Gerald Ford to back an aid package inspired the famous New York Daily News headline: "Ford to City: Drop Dead."
There was a measure of hyperbole in that headline, and it was at least a little unfair to Ford.
But in light of House Speaker Dennis Hastert's suggestion that rebuilding hurricane-ravaged New Orleans "doesn't make sense to me," it would not be a stretch to headline a report: "Hastert to City: Drop Dead."
Before the bodies had been pulled from the flood waters that have filled the streets of the Crescent City -- at least in part because of the failure of a Hastert-led Congress to allocate the funding needed to modernize the city's levees -- the Illinois Republican was displaying his brand of compassionate conservatism by saying of New Orleans: "It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed."
Most significantly, Hastert said that Congress ought to ask "some real tough questions" about whether to allocate federal funding for the job of restoring one of America's most beloved cities. The House Speaker's suggestion that "it makes no sense" for Congress to rebuild a city that is seven feet below sea level might sound like a warped version of conservative "tough love" if the man who is is second in the line of succession to the presidency after Vice President Dick Cheney had been similarly dismissive of plans to rebuild coastal areas of Mississippi and Alabama.
Unlike New Orleans, a 300-year-old city with a rich history but not a particularly rich populace, some of the hardest-hit areas of Mississippi and Alabama were upscale waterfront communities that have been built up in recent years, as real-estate developers have claimed more and more coastal wetlands for their oceanview projects.
But those Republican-leaning areas, which are home to people like former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, were spared Hastert's talk of "tough questions."
Could the calculus really be this dark? Could the Speaker of the House really justify dismissing one community while caring for another for purely parisan purposes? Anyone who has watched this Speaker in action knows the answer to that question.
Hastert is about as crass a political player as you will find in Washington. Along with his political godfather, House Minority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, the Speaker has made the House more partisan, and crude, than at any time in its history.
Hastert and DeLay keep vulture eyes on the political map. To the them, New Orleans is little more than a Democratic town full of African Americans, Latino immigrants, gays and lesbians and a few remaining pockets of southern white liberalism. Republican strategists have long been frustrated by New Orleans, a city so blue that it has often tipped the political balance in an otherwise red state. It was New Orleans that gave Democratic U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu her narrow first win in 1996 and her only slightly more comfortable reelection victory in 2002. Votes from New Orleans helped make Louisiana one of the few southern states to back Democrat Bill Clinton's 1996 reelection, and they kept Democrat Al Gore competitive with George W. Bush in 2000. In 2003, overwhelming support from New Orleans gave Democrat Kathleen Babineaux Blanco a come-from-behind win in the state's 2003 gubernatorial contest.
Notably, both Mississippi and Alabama have Republican governors and senators and have voted solidly Republican in presidential contests for decades. While Bush lost New Orleans by a 3-1 margin in his two presidential runs, he carried the Congressional districts that make up southern Alabama and Mississippi by margins of almost 2-1.
Hastert's honest initial statement of his views regarding New Orleans was an embarrassment to Republican Congressional leaders, but who didn't want to be seen as insensitive when they were busy pulling together votes for a face-saving aid package. So Hastert issued a backtracking press release, while his allies circled the wagons and began peddling the line that, "Hey, Denny's just a gruff old wrestling coach with a tendency to be blunt" -- much as they did in 2004 when Hastert announced shortly before the presidential vote that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network was pulling for the election of Democrat John Kerry.
Don't believe it. Hastert and DeLay see everything in political terms. And in the political calculus of the House Republican Leadership, New Orleans and cities like it have for a long time been written off as expendable. That's why New Orleans didn't get the infrastructure assistance it needed when the city's aging levies could have been strengthened to withstand a storm even as powerful as Hurricane Katrina. And that's why, in the immediate aftermath of Katrina, it made no sense to Denny Hastert to give any hope at all to the people of New Orleans.
Don't doubt for a second that, in his heart of hearts, Hastert believes New Orleans and other big cities are expendable, just as he believes that federal dollars should be poured without limit into the reconstruction of the coast-hugging upscale developments of conservative southern Mississippi and Alabama.
In the months and years to come, as questions arise about whether the federal government is caring equitably for all of Hurricane Katrina's victims, people of good will should never forget Denny Hastert's first reaction. If the Speaker is not held to account at every turn, there is every reason to fear that he will return to it -- and that New Orleans and its citizens will be victimized once more.
By E&P Staff
Published: September 02, 2005 11:05 AM ET
NEW YORK All day Thursday, from the New York Post to several popular blogs, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice came under attack and ridicule for having fun in Manhattan while New Orleans sank and exploded in violence. By nightfall, she had cut short her vacation and returned to her post in Washington.
The Post started it with an early morning Page Six item about Rice playing tennis with Monica Seles at a court near New York's Grand Central. Then Drudge revealed that she had attended a Broadway play -- 'Spamalot,' no less -- the night before.
Wonkette and Gawker got in on the action, with the latter revealing that she had just been spotted shopping for expensive shoes at a chic New York City boutique -- where she had to endure another female customer shouting at her about enjoying herself in such a way while thousands were perishing down South. All of this sparked criticism at many other sites.
By Thursday night she was back in Washington, convening a perhaps-overdue staff meeting to discuss ways of coordinating offers of foreign assistance from dozens of countries and organizations.
Just hours earlier, at the State Department's daily briefing, spokesman Sean McCormack had responded to a journalist who asked whether Rice was involved with hurricane relief efforts by saying, �She�s in contact with the department as appropriate.� He made no mention that his boss had any plans to leave New York. "
By Jeff Schogol, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Saturday, September 3, 2005
ARLINGTON, Va. — Authorities are avoiding airdropping provisions into New Orleans — the traditional way of supplying disaster victims — out of fear of sparking riots, a state official said.
While the military has used helicopters to drop provisions to some stranded in New Orleans, authorities have not launched the massive supply airdrops seen in Afghanistan at the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Several C-130 Hercules aircraft are stationed at Little Rock Air Force Base, but authorities have not ordered them to drop supplies to flood victims, Arkansas Air National Guard officials said.
Airdropping supplies could actually worsen the situation, said Army National Guard Lt. Kevin Cowan, with the state Office of Emergency Preparedness.
“Just like Afghanistan, you drop food, it creates chaos,” Cowan said.
He said authorities are looking for a more controlled way to get badly need food and other supplies to people in the hurricane-ravaged region who need it.
“We’re trying to logistically to plan how to get food the best way,” Cowan said. “But as of right now, airdrops are not part of the plan.”
He said dropping supplies from the air is an option that is still available, but “I don’t think that is high on the priority list.”
Officials at U.S. Northern Command and Task Force Katrina could not be reached in time for publication Friday.
Little Rock Air Force Base is home to about 80 C-130s, but many cannot be flown because of wing cracks, wrote a spokesman for the 314th Air Wing in an e-mail.
On Friday, four C-130s from Little Rock Air Force Base were expected to bring water and MREs to the flood region and to evacuate refugees, wrote Air National Guard Capt. David Faggard.
The Arkansas National Guard is using 10 C-130s and 15 helicopters to bring troops and supplies to the flood region, said a National Guard spokeswoman.
Should authorities order an airdrop, “we are certainly ready if that’s what they need us for,” said Air National Guard Capt. Kristine Munn.
From October to December 2001, the Air Force dropped 2.5 million individual rations in Afghanistan using C-17 Globemaster aircraft based in Ramstein, Germany.
By Will Dunham
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military will send home from Iraq and Afghanistan more than 300 Air Force airmen based at an installation in Mississippi battered by Hurricane Katrina to allow them to assist their families, officials said on Saturday.
The airmen, both active-duty airmen and reservists, will end their deployments early and return to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, to help their families and aid in base recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Air Force said in a statement released in Qatar. They will not be participating in the broader relief effort in the region, officials said. "
Leroy Fouchea, 42, waited in the sweltering heat for an hour to get his ration -- his first proper food since Monday -- and immediately handed it over to a sickly friend.
He then offered to show reporters the dead bodies of a man in a wheelchair, a young man who he said he dragged inside just hours earlier, and the limp forms of two infants, one just four months old, the other six months old.
"They died right here, in America, waiting for food," Fouchea said as he walked toward Hall D, where the bodies were put to get them out of the searing heat.
He said people were let die and left without food simply because they were poor and that the evacuation effort earlier concentrated on the French Quarter of the city. "Because that's where the money is," he spat.
A National Guardsman refused entry. "It doesn't need to be seen, it's a make-shift morgue in there," he told a Reuters photographer. "We're not letting anyone in there anymore. If you want to take pictures of dead bodies, go to Iraq."
Friday, September 02, 2005
"...do our duty to help the good folks of this part of the world get back on their feet."
"These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so, and I expect they will."
Treatment for veterans suffering from PTSD must be factored into the cost of war.
Five decorated combat veterans from Bayou Blue could change the way we look at the war in Iraq and mental health care in the United States. They took the first step last week. In our Feb. 15 cover story, "The Hidden Wounds of War," all five men discussed publicly for the first time their harrowing memories from wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam, and the difficulties they've experienced adjusting to life after warfare.
Four of the five veterans have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a potentially disabling psychiatric condition that can result from experiencing a life-threatening event such as combat. They said that the federal government is not doing enough to alert returning troops to the dangers -- including anger, rage, emotional numbing, recurring nightmares and flashbacks of wartime traumas -- of untreated PTSD. These veterans don't like to tell war stories. But by going public, they hope to encourage soldiers now returning from Iraq to get confidential testing for PTSD at the Veterans Administration (VA) hospital in New Orleans.
The four men diagnosed with PTSD who were interviewed by Gambit Weekly are Marty Chaisson, 30, a former Marine Corps staff sergeant who led combat platoons in both Iraq and Afghanistan; his father, James Chaisson, 57, a specialist and crew chief in the Army Air Cavalry in Vietnam; William "Bill" Runnels, 58, a naval gunner's mate in Vietnam; and Loyd Olin, 61, a specialist and crew chief in the Army Aviation Division during Vietnam. The fifth veteran, Marine Cpl. Miguel Perez, 22, has not been diagnosed with PTSD. He is recovering from an enemy bullet wound suffered in Iraq that may preclude his return to combat.
The four "PTSD vets" are members of the Forgotten Warriors, Houma Chapter 2, a small veterans' organization. Chapter representatives made a presentation to Vice President Dick Cheney during his Dec. 1 visit to Houma for a political fundraiser, and the group takes a special pride in helping homeless veterans. All five veterans may never engage a foreign enemy in battle again, but their courageous outreach efforts exemplify the kind of leadership our country needs if we hope to provide adequate mental health care to returning U.S. troops.
On March 25, 2004, Dr. James Scully, medical director of the American Psychiatric Association, reported a 42 percent increase in VA patients with severe PTSD. More than half a million vets now use the VA for psychological help. But even those high numbers might not tell the whole story. The New England Journal of Medicine recently published the results of a study conducted by a team of Army psychiatrists that showed that one out of every six combat soldiers returning from Iraq in 2003 met criteria for "major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, or PTSD." Yet social stigmatization stopped many from seeking help. "Of those whose responses were positive for a mental disorder, only 23 to 40 percent sought mental health care," the study reported. The figure was even worse for military personnel with PTSD symptoms alone -- only 4.1 percent sought treatment. "[T]hose returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom who reported the greatest number or the most severe symptoms were the least likely to seek treatment for fear it could harm their careers, cause difficulties with their peers and with unit leadership, and become an embarrassment in that they would be seen as Œweak,'" psychiatrist Matthew J. Friedman commented in a Journal article titled "Acknowledging the Psychiatric Cost of War."
Reducing the stigma of mental health care should be a priority, the study concludes. We agree. Department of Defense spokesperson Jim Turner told us that PTSD cases presently are not recorded in casualty counts from Iraq and Afghanistan. "We don't have a trauma registry," Turner says. That should change soon, because Defense is expanding its post-deployment health assessment program to include PTSD. More than 600,000 service members will be required to visit a health care provider within three to six months after re-redeployment. All active, Guard and Reserve forces are required to comply with the new directive.
Still, many experts are concerned that the country is not prepared to help returning troops. The VA currently projects a $1.65 billion shortfall in mental health programs by the end of 2007. "If we don't give the VA what it needs immediately, the consequences will be lifelong and devastating," says Steve Robinson, executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center. Treatment for our returning veterans must be factored into the cost of war. It should be the first concern of anyone who supports our troops. We applaud those who served overseas and who are serving again by coming forward with their stories of PTSD. So does Madeline Uddo, outpatient program manager of the VA's PTSD Clinic in New Orleans. "It certainly will be helpful in terms of encouraging veterans to come in for treatment," Uddo says. By hearing other soldiers' stories -- and by encountering a VA program fully funded and prepared to help them -- our veterans with hidden wounds might finally be able to return home.
Governor Says In Effect "Shoot The Bastards" : NOLA Indymedia
by Captain America Friday, Sep. 02, 2005 at 6:49 AM
"They have M-16s and they're locked and loaded," Governor Kathleen Blanco said of 300 National Guard troops who landed in New Orleans fresh from duty in Iraq. "These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so, and I expect they will." As desperate people without food or water scavenge to feed their families, the clueless governor issues a threat.
The Army Corps of Engineers did a computer simulation study last year of the effect of a category 3 hurricane, with winds of 130 MPH, on New Orleans.
It showed a similar level of deaths, devastation and levee breaches. So, officials knew what was looming, sooner or later.
Katrina hit land as a category 4, with 140 MPH winds.
When you don't have any WATER or food, for 3 days, you get desperate. You simply must have safe drinking water. Since your government has failed to take any meaningful action towards your particular situation, you scavenge to feed and hydrate your family.
You are now a "looter". A criminal. Add that to your woes.
And the governor wants you shot on sight, should you scavenge again, by troops fresh back from Iraq, troops who, in the governors own words, "know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so, and I expect they will."
Who elected this bitch? Doe she play with a full deck?
There are military posts and bases all around. Where are the military MRE's (Meals Ready To Eat) warehoused and why were they not shipped to the effected areas within 24 hours?
We wage war much better than we save our citizens lives.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
Published on Monday, August 29, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
George W. Bush's Noble Cause - 'Political Capital'
by Thom Hartmann
Cindy Sheehan continues to ask George W. Bush what the "Noble Cause" was for which her son died in Iraq, and why Bush's daughters haven't enlisted in this Cause.
While Bush talked to us about WMDs, an imminent "mushroom cloud," and tried to link Saddam and Iraq to 9/11 (when it was 14 Saudis who hit the World Trade Center), those all fell apart and were exposed (by no less than Paul Wolfowitz) as intentional lies. When Bush shifted his Noble Cause to invading Iraq to bring democracy to the Iraqi people, the Downing Street Memo told another story. And now, also, so does Bush's first biographer.
It's becoming increasingly clear that the way Bush lied us into invading Iraq, particularly the timing of it all (ginning it up just before the 2002 midterm elections), was done largely so Republicans could win take back the Senate in 2002 after losing it because of Jim Jeffords' defection, and so Bush could win the White House in the election of 2004.
It's apparently just that simple, just that banal, and ultimately just that traitorous to the traditional ideals of America.
This is why the greatest political threat that Cindy Sheehan represents to George W. Bush and his Republican Party is in her ability to point this out.
So far, Cindy has only done this once, but it had a powerful impact on those who heard her. Speaking before Congressman John Conyers' investigative commission on the war in Iraq, Sheehan said:
"My son, Specialist Casey Austin Sheehan, was killed in action in Sader City, Baghdad, on 04/04/04. He was in Iraq for only 2 weeks before L. Paul Bremer inflamed the Shiite militia into rebellion, which resulted in the deaths of Casey and six other brave soldiers who were tragically killed in an ambush. My friend Bill Mitchell, the father of Sergeant Mike Mitchell who was one of the other soldiers killed that awful day, is here with us today.
"This is a picture of my son Casey when he was 7 months old. It's an enlargement of a picture he carried in his wallet until the day he was killed. He loved this picture of himself. It was returned to us with his personal effects from Iraq. He always sucked on those two fingers. When he was born he had a flat face from passing through the birth canal and we called him Edward G., short for Edward G. Robinson.
"How many of you have ever seen your child in his or her premature coffin? It is a shocking and very painful sight. The most heart-breaking aspect of seeing Casey lying in his casket for me was that his face was flat again because he had no muscle tone. He looked like he did when he was a baby laying in his bassinet.
"The most tragic irony is that if the Downing Street Memo proves to be true, Casey and thousands of people should still be alive.
"I believe our leaders invaded Iraq in March 2003 -- I believe before our leaders Iraq in March 2003, and I am even more convinced now, that this aggression on Iraq was based on a lie of historic proportions and was blatantly unnecessary.
"The so-called Downing Street Memo dated 23 July 2002, only confirms what I already suspected, the leadership of his country rushed us into an illegal invasion of another sovereign country on prefabricated and cherry-picked intelligence. Iraq was no threat to the United States of America, and the devastating sanctions and bombing against the Iraq were working.
"As a matter of fact, in interviews in 1999 with respected journalist and long-time Bush family friend, Mickey Herskowitz, then Governor George Bush stated, 'One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as commander in chief. My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it. If I have a chance to invade, if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency.'
"It looks like George Bush was ready to lead this country into an avoidable war even before he became President.
"From the expose of the Downing Street Memo and the conversations with George Bush from 1999, it seems like the invasion of Iraq and the deaths of so many innocent people were preordained.
"It appears that my boy Casey was given a death sentence even before he joined the Army in May 2000."
Mickey Herskowitz - a Texan and longtime friend of the Bush family - had been hired to write the first draft of Bush's autobiography, now in print under the title "A Charge To Keep." In citing Bush's determination to invade Iraq to gain "political capital" even before he was appointed to the Presidency in 2001, Sheehan was quoting an article by Russ Baker, who extensively interviewed Herskowitz. Baker noted:
Herskowitz said that Bush expressed frustration at a lifetime as an underachiever in the shadow of an accomplished father. In aggressive military action, he saw the opportunity to emerge from his father's shadow. The moment, Herskowitz said, came in the wake of the September 11 attacks. 'Suddenly, he's at 91 percent in the polls, and he'd barely crawled out of the bunker.'"
Oil, to the Bushies, would be a nice bonus. So was the possibility of greater security for Israel and other allies in the region, and a staging ground for possible future military action in Iran and Saudi Arabia. And let's not forget those profits for Halliburton and other big Republican contributors.
But the main reason Bush invaded Iraq, it turns out, was so Republicans could take back the US Senate in the election of 2002, and Bush could finally win an election in 2004.
As Bush himself said two days after the election, in a press conference on November 4, 2004:
"And it's one of the wonderful -- it's like earning capital. You asked, do I feel free. Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style. That's what happened in the -- after the 2000 election, I earned some capital. I've earned capital in this election -- and I'm going to spend it..."
In the mind of George W. Bush, accumulating political power -- political capital -- is a Noble Cause. Whether America's veterans and grieving families will agree is another matter entirely.
Thom Hartmann (thom at thomhartmann.com) is a Project Censored Award-winning best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk show. http://www.thomhartmann.com/commondreams.shtml His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection," "We The People," "The Edison Gene", and "What Would Jefferson Do?"
August 31, 2005
Bring Them Home...NOW!
The National Guard Belongs in New Orleans and Biloxi. Not Baghdad.
By NORMAN SOLOMON
The men and women of the National Guard shouldn't be killing in Iraq. They should be helping in New Orleans and Biloxi.
The catastrophic hurricane was an act of God. But the U.S. war effort in Iraq is a continuing act of the president. And now, that effort is hampering the capacity of the National Guard to save lives at home.
Before the flooding of New Orleans drastically escalated on Tuesday, the White House tried to disarm questions that could be politically explosive. "To those of you who are concerned about whether or not we're prepared to help, don't be, we are," President Bush said. "We're in place, we've got equipment in place, supplies in place, and once the -- once we're able to assess the damage, we'll be able to move in and help those good folks in the affected areas."
Echoing the official assurances, CBS News reported: "Even though more than a third of Mississippi's and Louisiana's National Guard troops are either in Iraq or supporting the war effort, the National Guard says there are more than enough at home to do the job."
But after New Orleans levees collapsed and the scope of the catastrophe became more clear, such reassuring claims lost credibility. The Washington Post reported on Wednesday: "With thousands of their citizen-soldiers away fighting in Iraq, states hit hard by Hurricane Katrina scrambled to muster forces for rescue and security missions yesterday -- calling up Army bands and water-purification teams, among other units, and requesting help from distant states and the active-duty military."
The back-page Post story added: "National Guard officials in the states acknowledged that the scale of the destruction is stretching the limits of available manpower while placing another extraordinary demand on their troops -- most of whom have already served tours in Iraq or Afghanistan or in homeland defense missions since 2001."
Speaking for the Mississippi National Guard, Lt. Andy Thaggard said: "Missing the personnel is the big thing in this particular event. We need our people." According to the Washington Post, the Mississippi National Guard "has a brigade of more than 4,000 troops in central Iraq" while "Louisiana also has about 3,000 Guard troops in Baghdad."
National Guard troops don't belong in Iraq. They should be rescuing and protecting in Louisiana and Mississippi, not patrolling and killing in a country that was invaded on the basis of presidential deception. They should be fighting the effects of flood waters at home -- helping people in the communities they know best -- not battling Iraqi people who want them to go away.
Let's use the Internet today to forward and post this demand so widely that the politicians in Washington can no longer ignore it:
Bring the National Guard home. Immediately.
Norman Solomon is the author of the new book "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death."
ALEXANDER COCKBURN, JEFFREY ST CLAIR, BECKY GRANT AND THE INSTITUTE FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF JOURNALISTIC CLARITY, COUNTERPUNCH
We published an article entitled "A Saudiless Arabia" by Wayne Madsen dated October 22, 2002 (the "Article"), on the website of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalistic Clarity, CounterPunch, www.counterpunch.org (the "Website").
Although it was not our intention, counsel for Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi has advised us the Article suggests, or could be read as suggesting, that Mr Al Amoudi has funded, supported, or is in some way associated with, the terrorist activities of Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorist network.
We do not have any evidence connecting Mr Al Amoudi with terrorism.
As a result of an exchange of communications with Mr Al Amoudi's lawyers, we have removed the Article from the Website.
We are pleased to clarify the position.
August 17, 2005