As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, September 02, 2005

Cap'n Cheney to the Rescue

The Navy has hired Houston-based Halliburton Co. to restore electric power, repair roofs and remove debris at three naval facilities in Mississippi damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Halliburton subsidiary KBR will also perform damage assessments at other naval installations in New Orleans as soon as it is safe to do so.

KBR was assigned the work under a "construction capabilities" contract awarded in 2004 after a competitive bidding process. The company is not involved in the Army Corps of Engineers' effort to repair New Orleans' levees.

Amazing how they awarded a cleanup contract in 2004 yet "nobody anticipated" the levees breaking.

And the markets are reacting to this good news:

Halliburton (HAL), which also offers petroleum engineering services through its KBR unit, added 1.9% at $63.16.

I thought I wouldn't post anymore today, but my anger level raised a meter.


I Got Nothing

Really at a loss for words. This whole sorry mess has me incredibly depressed. I've given, and I'll likely give some more. It's every citizen's repsonsibility to do so.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's interview today on WWL Radio was mind-numbing. What he's saying is absolutely correct. He did not help matters by telling people to evacuate and giving them no means to do so. But according to the interview he tried for days to get through to Baton Rouge and Washington the severity of the impending danger.

This is a repudiation of 25 years of Republican ideology. Think about it. The government is the problem. We can't help you, you have to help yourself. Environmental activists are wackos and kooks and tree-huggers. Defense spending will save us all. The poor don't need assistance, just opportunity. Every single one of these absolute truths on the right are being as systematically laid to waste as is the great city of New Orleans.

I'm glad that the President has repsonded by finally saying that the federal effort is insufficient. I'm saddened that it's taken this long, allowing the flooded city to devolve into chaos.

I heard a story on Democracy Now of a 2 year-old being raped to death. I can't go on with this.


Thursday, September 01, 2005


Seeing the scenes of absolute horror at the New Orleans Riverwalk and Convention Center, I'm reminded of nothing so much as the Confederate prison for Union soldiers during the Civil War in Andersonville, Georgia.

Here's an excerpt from a historical record, as a refresher course:

Arriving in late December of 1863, Captain Winder adopted a prison design that encompassed roughly 16.5 acres which he felt was large enough to hold 10,000 prisoners. The prison was to be rectangular in shape with a small creek flowing roughly through the center of the compound. The prison was given the name Camp Sumter.

Prisoners began arriving at the prison in late February of 1864 and by early June the prison population had climbed to 20,000. Consequently, it was decided that a larger prison was necessary, and by mid-June work was begun to enlarge the prison. On July 1, the northern extension was opened to the prisoners who subsequently tore down the original north stockade wall, then used the timbers for fuel and building materials. By August, over 33,000 Union prisoners were held in the 26.5 acre prison.

Due to the threat of Union raids (Sherman's troops were marching on Atlanta), General Winder ordered the building of defensive earthworks and a middle and outer stockade around the prison. Construction of the earthworks began July 20th. These earthworks consisted of Star Fort located southwest of the prison, a redoubt located northwest of the north gate, and six redans.

During the 15 months during which Andersonville was operated, almost 13,000 Union prisoners died there of malnutrition, exposure, and disease; Andersonville became synonymous with the attrocities which both North and South soldiers experienced as prisoners of war.

They died because 1) there was not enough food provided to the prisoners, and 2) the water became polluted and disease-ridden. The parallels are shameful.

Here's another essay that includes some first-hand accounts:

On one particularly hot July evening that year, a Confederate guard from the 26th Alabama regiment stood watch on the parapet of the stockade prison, which was more commonly referred to as Andersonville Prison by the locals, and as “hell” by the Union soldiers and sailors incarcerated there. 

The prison was nothing more than acres of open ground surrounded by a stockade fence and earthworks barricades.  The destitute prisoners sheltered themselves as best they could, some with makeshift tents, others in shallow holes dug in the dirt, lined with pine needles, and covered with whatever scrap of fabric the men had—a tarp, a blanket, maybe a tattered coat.  The prison was so crowded that each man had just enough room to lie down. 

As dusk gave way to night, the guard looked out on thousands of prone, wretched bodies—some of them nearly skeletons from dysentery and malnourishment—and he thought of Andersonville as a massive graveyard where the corpses were still breathing and graves were yet to be covered.

Similar to the stories of maternity wards in NOLA is this story of a baby at Andersonville:

The guard from Alabama could hear the prisoners below him.  But tonight the guard thought he heard something else.  He thought he might be going crazy, but he’d heard the same sound that morning and the night before as well.  It sounded like the cries of a newborn.

He scanned the terrain of bodies and squinted through the gloom.  A baby in this hell hole? he thought.  The Lord could never be so cruel.

He heard a series of high-pitched, plaintive wails that carried over the din, and now there was no doubt in his mind that there was a child down there.   The silhouette in skirts swayed faster, bouncing the bundle on her shoulder.  The guard didn’t like this development at all.  He feared for their safety.  A horrible thought passed through his mind—the emaciated prisoners falling upon this child for food.  His heart was thumping hard.  He had to tell someone about this immediately.

This link mentions prisoner conditions:

The prisoners daily ratio of food consisted of one and one-forth pound of corn meal and either one pound of beef or one-third pound of bacon. They occasionally got sme beans, peas, rice, or molasses with it.

Conditions at the prison were initially good. Deaths of prisoners were not common during the initial months. Prisoners died from all different things like; overcrowding, disease, and exposure.

No clothing was provided, many people were left with rags or fragments of clothing. Some had nothing at all. Their daily food ratio consisted of one and one-fourth pound of corn meal and either one pound of beef or 1/3 pound of bacon. The prisoners occasionally got some beans, peas, rice, of molasses with it.

Here's a daguerrotype of the camp:

There's little doubt that we could be looking at the same kind of loss of life if we don't act fast. The shining jewel of the Southeast is now Andersonville Prison.


Jack Cafferty

Unvarnished truth:

The thing that's most glaring in all of this is that the conditions continue to deteriorate for people who are victims and the efforts to do something about it don't seem to be anywhere in sight. [...]

The questions that we ask in The Situation Room every day are posted on the website two or three hours before we go on the air and people who read the website often begin to respond to the questions before the show actually starts. The question for this hour is whether the government is doing a good job in handling the situation.

I gotta tell you something, we got five or six hundred letters before the show actually went on the air, and no one - no one - is saying the government is doing a good job in handling one of the most atrocious and embarrassing and far-reaching and calamatous things that has come along in this country in my lifetime. I'm 62. I remember the riots in Watts, I remember the earthquake in San Francisco, I remember a lot of things. I have never, ever, seen anything as bungled and as poorly handled as this situation in New Orleans. Where the hell is the water for these people? Why can't sandwiches be dropped to those people in the Superdome. What is going on? This is Thursday! This storm happened 5 days ago. This is a disgrace. And don't think the world isn't watching. This is the government that the taxpayers are paying for, and it's fallen right flat on its face as far as I can see, in the way it's handled this thing.

We're going to talk about something else before the show's over, too. And that's the big elephant in the room. The race and economic class of most of the victims, which the media hasn't discussed much at all, but we will a bit later.

This guy's quickly becoming a national hero.  He's telling it exactly like it is on national corporate media, and he's been absolutely on point for hours now.  He has been since the beginning of this crisis.  Paging Mr. O'Reilly: this is what the no-spin zone looks like.  Cafferty's always been sort of a curmudgeonly imitation, CNN's version of an "everyday guy" usually focused on financial matters.  He's been indispensable in this crisis, delivering absolute truth to power, saying what everyone is thinking.

The media is seeing this thing as up-close as anyone. Their simmering rage is telling.



I'm not saving the mayor of New Orleans or the governor of Louisiana (both Democrats) from blame on this either. The failure of leadership is at the local, state, and federal level. The mayor's last good move was saying "Get out," but he did little or nothing to help the less fortunate to do that. And the reports from CNN and MSNBC at the Convention Center today are out of control. It sounds like Andersonville Prison.

A disaster of this magnitude requires federal support, however. The localities and the state simply don't have the resources. They've been systematically starved by the federal government for years, too, leading to all the state deficits and bankruptcies. The feds deserve the brunt of the blame.

Also, on a completely different note, somebody needs to exile MSNBC's Rita Crosby, who is STILL reporting from Aruba during this mess, and never let her back in the country. Enjoy the mai tais, moron.


Holy Fucking Crap II

Blaming the people:

"The critical thing was to get people out of there before the disaster," (Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff) said on NBC's Today program. "Some people chose not to obey that order. That was a mistake on their part."

Not a mistake, you idiot, an impossibility! People didn't have the money to leave town. They didn't have cars. They couldn't afford gas. It was the end of the month, these people live from check to check. They were desperately asking for advances from their employers and were rebuffed. They were poor, old, infirm, and they couldn't fucking leave! How callous get you be! Have you no decency?

Liberal blogs are running a fundraising drive for hurricane relief. I just gave $50. Please do too if you can.



We're up to $2.95/gal at the cheapest stations out here in Santa Monica. About a $0.20 jump from the weekend. I know that pales in comparison to some of the reports in the Southeast, reports of closures, $6/gallon prices, et al.

This is the part where a leader would call for price caps. Or conservation, at the very least. Over the past year, the oil companies literally have acquired so much cash they don't know what to do with it. That's not hyperbole, read this:

Exxon's soon-to-retire CEO suddenly has a new anxiety: how to spend the windfall wrought by $55-a-barrel oil. By the end of April, Exxon will have a cash hoard of more than $ 25 billion. And if crude prices stay where they are, this geometrically growing bonanza could soon give Exxon more cash on hand than any other U.S. company...the cash is building at a remarkable rate. Each dollar jump in the price of a barrel of oil adds another half billion in earnings. Based on current prices, Exxon is accumulating more than $1 billion a month - even after allocating for dividends, share repurchases, and capital spending. If oil simply stays where it is now, Exxon's cash could approach $40 billion in 12 months. By then [Exxon's CEO] is expected to have handed off the top job--and the headache of what to do with all that cash.

The only thing the President has done (and I'm not even talking about the incompetence and slow response on the ground) is to suspend environmental regulations to increase productivity. He's actually responding to an environmental disaster by increasing pollution.

We live in a parallel universe.

UPDATE: First Presidential mention of conservation at the press event with Dubya's dad and Clinton. The governor of North Carolina was on this a day ago.


Holy Fucking Crap

I can't believe this was just said:

"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did appreciate a serious storm but these levees got breached and as a result much of New Orleans is flooded and now we're having to deal with it and will," (President Bush) said.

I'm absolutely flabbergasted. FOUR FUCKING YEARS AGO, in December 2001, FEMA listed a potential New Orleans flood as one of the three likeliest, most castastrophic disasters facing the nation. Only a San Francisco earthquake and another terror attack in New York were listed as likely or as deadly.

These boobs actually sound angry that anyone would question their leadership, (constant quotes of "I know everyone's frustrated, but we're trying,") and then they come out with nonsensical statements like this. Incidentally, does it sound like anything else we might remember?

"I don't think anyone could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center." -Condoleezza Rice, May 2002

So it goes. The accountability Adminstration desperately tries to spin and shirk repsonsibility while defensively calling for nobody to "play politics" with the disaster. Nobody's playing politics, they're asking questions. If you want to talk about playing politics with a disaster, think about this: four years later, this Administration STILL recalls 9/11 every chance they get. They're STILL planning a commemorative country music concert while New Orleans is under water and more people are dying by the day. There are reports of a shark swimming through the streets of a major American city. The Convention Center is slowly turning into a mausoleum. The government's planning a fucking concert. They're also, because of some insane kind of foolish pride I guess, refusing international aid.

In the media they're starting to ask questions with unusual forcefulness, shaken by the reality on the ground. Where are the airlifts? Where are the food drops? Where are the troops? Why weren't they all pre-positioned? Why did this happen? America is starving for leadership and receiving none. Fuck, the Secretary of State is still on vacation.

I'm so angry I could spit. Give if you can.

UPDATE: Bush I and Clinton both just agreed, on CNN, that nobody could have forseen this coming. I don't know if they're just covering up for the official story or what, but that's a total show of ignorance. We've known since last Friday where the storm was headed. We've known for four years that the levee couldn't withstand a hurricane of this type. Holding your breath and bracing yourself IS NOT A PLAN. Leadership means anticipating events.


Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Natural Disasters: Just Another Reason to Blame Hollywood

Would you believe that Michelle "Hey, the Superdome looks a lot like those internment camps I support" Malkin has been scremaing today about how Hollywood isn't doing enough to help the victims? Here's the link to DC Media Girl, who first reported this. I refuse to enter Malkin's site, but here's the quote:

"Question on many readers’ minds: Where are Hollywood and the Live Aid people? Answer: Nowhere to be found yet."

Um, it takes a little more than a day to put on a concert or a massive TV production They were probably confirming the guests just as Malkin decided to spout off. Also, Hollywood isn't the federal fucking government, or the military. You know, the groups ordinary Americans would actually look to for help during a catastrophe like this.

Unsurprisingly, the creative community is actually coming through, like it always does:

NBC will air a telethon Sept. 2 with proceeds going to those suffering as a result of hurricane Katrina.

Tim McGraw, Wynton Marsalis, Harry Connick Jr., all of which hail from areas hit hard by Katrina, will perform during the hour-long event.

Matt Lauer will host and Leo Dicaprio is set to appear. Throughout the show, contact info for donating to the Red Cross will be aired.

The Dave Matthews Band has also added a night to their tour, Sept. 12 @ Denver, with proceeds going to hurricane relief.

Morgan Freeman has also organized a celebrity auction with proceeds going to the Red Cross. Charity Folks, the organizer of the event, says the auctions will begin Friday and will take place over the web. Freeman was born and raised in Mississippi and lives in the Mississippi Delta.

BET will also hold a telethon September 7-9 from 7-9p.m. Wynton Marsalis, Russell Simmons and Jay-Z will hold a press conference tomorrow (Thursday) to lay out the details. MTV, VH1 and CMT also announced a multi-artist, multi-venue special concert set to air September 10 in NYC, LA, Atlanta and Nashville. Featured in the special concert include Ludacris, Green Day, Gretchen Wilson, Usher, Alicia Keys, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews Band, Rob Thomas, David Banner, and Chris Bennington from Linkin Park.

New Orleans-native rapper Master P and son Romeo have also set up a charity, Team Rescue.

By the way, where are the rightwing bloggers? Why aren't they putting on a telethon?


Keystone Kops

Why were we so unprepared?

A day after Hurricane Katrina dealt a devastating blow to the Big Easy, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin on Tuesday night blasted what he called a lack of coordination in relief efforts for setting behind the city's recovery.

"There is way too many fricking ... cooks in the kitchen," Nagin said in a phone interview with WAPT-TV in Jackson, Mississippi, fuming over what he said were scuttled plans to plug a 200-yard breach near the 17th Street Canal, allowing Lake Pontchartrain to spill into the central business district...

According to the mayor, Black Hawk helicopters were scheduled to pick up and drop massive 3,000-pound sandbags in the 17th Street Canal breach, but were diverted on rescue missions. Nagin said neglecting to fix the problem has set the city behind by at least a month.

"I had laid out like an eight-week to ten-week timeline where we could get the city back in semblance of order. It's probably been pushed back another four weeks as a result of this," Nagin said.

"That four weeks is going to stop all commerce in the city of New Orleans. It also impacts the nation, because no domestic oil production will happen in southeast Louisiana."

The first 48 hours after a crisis are always going to be the most important. It seems like utter chaos down there. Refugees (yes, in America; REFUGEES) don't know where to go; federal, state and local officials are engaged in pissing contests; thousands are set up in the Superdome, of all places, which is 30 years old and not structurally sound.

We're four years out of a major terrorist attack, one in which emergency personnel performed admirably to minimize the loss of life. Unlike that one, everybody knew this was headed to New Orleans at least a few days out. Why were we so unprepared? The levees were built to withstand a Cat 3 hurricane; Cat 5 hurricanes have been in the area before. This scenario should have been played out.

I'm sure we've all thought at one time or another that we've become so consumed with worry about terrorism, that we turn a blind eye to other potential disasters. That really seems to be exactly what's happened here. Homeland Security can't have such a single-minded focus. I'm afraid that we'll end up seeing more casualties as a result of this than 9/11. The impact to people's homes and livelihoods, and the economy as a whole, will certainly be greater.

As I've written throughout this, give if you can. It's just a terrible tragedy.


Maybe a Thousand Dead in Iraq

It shows you what kind of a world we're living in, when a 4-figure death count in Iraq can get overshadowed.

Aug. 31 (Bloomberg) -- At least 640 Shiite Muslim pilgrims were killed in a stampede on a bridge spanning the Tigris River in Baghdad today after a nearby mosque was attacked by insurgents, Iraqi National Assembly adviser George Sada said.

"When people heard that the mosque had been attacked, they panicked and rushed toward the bridge to get out of the area,'' Sada said in a telephone interview from the capital. "There were so many people on the bridge that many fell over its sides and drowned in the Tigris, others were crushed.'' He said the force of the crowds broke the bridge's barriers. Other accounts said people in the crowd reacted to rumors of a suicide bomber among them.

The 2000s (or is it the aughts? the zeroes? We're halfway into this decade and we don't have a decent nickname for it) have easily been the most tragic decade since I've been around. I'm guessing you'd have to go back to the 40s, with WWII and all.

"May you live in interesting times," as the saying goes. Or maybe not. Stop this decade, I want to get off.


Tuesday, August 30, 2005


There's no reason to bring politics into the horrendous situation down in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region. Obviously the focus is on the loss of lives, the damage, and what you can do to help (hint: 1-800-HELP-NOW).

Once we're beyond the immediate aftermath, it's reasonable to ask a simple question: Why did the levees break? Everyone in Louisiana knew the potential for catastrophe: a bowl-shaped population center, almost entirely below sea level, and a levee system that was desperately in need of repairs in case of emergency. Why was no attention paid to these warnings?

When these questions do get asked, it's important to remember this:

It appears that the money has been moved in the president’s budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that’s the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can’t be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.

-- Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 8, 2004...

Indeed, the advent of the Bush administration in January 2001 signaled the beginning of the end for FEMA. The newly appointed leadership of the agency showed little interest in its work or in the missions pursued by the departed Witt. Then came the Sept. 11 attacks and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. Soon FEMA was being absorbed into the "homeland security borg."

This year it was announced that FEMA is to "officially" lose the disaster preparedness function that it has had since its creation. The move is a death blow to an agency that was already on life support. In fact, FEMA employees have been directed not to become involved in disaster preparedness functions, since a new directorate (yet to be established) will have that mission...

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has identified millions of dollars in flood and hurricane protection projects in the New Orleans district.

Chances are, though, most projects will not be funded in the president's 2006 fiscal year budget to be released today.

In general, funding for construction has been on a downward trend for the past several years, said Marcia Demma, chief of the New Orleans Corps' programs management branch.

In 2001, the New Orleans district spent $147 million on construction projects. When fiscal year 2005 wraps up Sept. 30, the Corps expects to have spent $82 million, a 44.2 percent reduction from 2001 expenditures.

In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to a Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans CityBusiness.

Also that June, with the 2004 hurricane season starting, the Corps' project manager Al Naomi went before a local agency, the East Jefferson Levee Authority, and essentially begged for $2 million for urgent work that Washington was now unable to pay for. From the June 18, 2004 Times-Picayune:

"The system is in great shape, but the levees are sinking. Everything is sinking, and if we don’t get the money fast enough to raise them, then we can’t stay ahead of the settlement," he said. "The problem that we have isn’t that the levee is low, but that the federal funds have dried up so that we can’t raise them."

One project that a contractor had been racing to finish this summer: a bridge and levee job right at the 17th Street Canal, site of the main breach on Monday.

People are going to be looking for these answers at some point: they're as plain as day. This is to say nothing about the woeful lack of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama National Guard troops, who are elsewhere deployed (along with their equipment, which could be saving lives).

Let's get to work and do whatever we can to save lives, feed people, house people, and mitigate this stunning disaster. Inevitably, however, people will want answers. And they're indisputable.


If You Can, Give

The initial sighs of relief have given way to nightmares. New Orleans is in bad shape and big trouble. Two million people in the region are without power. The death toll is rising. The Crescent City is under 20 feet of water.

1-800-HELP-NOW is the number of the Red Cross for donations, easily the best way to help out. This link has information on a bunch of other relief organizations. I'm having a little financial disaster of my own at the moment, but I plan to give.

And if you can't give money, give blood. I'm sure it will be needed.

I'm sure this won't be the relief donation hub on the Internet, but I thought I'd throw it out there.


Monday, August 29, 2005

You Mess With The Bull, You Get the Horns

The latest recipient of a goring to the gluteus maximus region by this Administration is Bunnatine "Bunny" Greenhouse. In addition to being Elvin Hayes' sister (The Big E!), she was an Army Corps of Engineers official who was the first to raise questions about Halliburton's no-bid contract in Iraq. For her service to American taxpayers, she received this:

A top Army contracting official who criticized a large, noncompetitive contract with the Halliburton Company for work in Iraq was demoted Saturday for what the Army called poor job performance.

The official, Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, has worked in military procurement for 20 years and for the past several years had been the chief overseer of contracts at the Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that has managed much of the reconstruction work in Iraq.

The demotion removes her from the elite Senior Executive Service and reassigns her to a lesser job in the corps' civil works division.

"She is being demoted because of her strict adherence to procurement requirements and the Army's preference to sidestep them when it suits their needs," Mr. Kohn said Sunday in an interview. He also said the Army had violated a commitment to delay Ms. Greenhouse's dismissal until the completion of an inquiry by the Pentagon's inspector general.

Carol Sanders, spokeswoman for the Army Corps of Engineers, said Sunday that the personnel action against Ms. Greenhouse had been approved by the Department of the Army. And in a memorandum dated June 3, 2005, as the demotion was being arranged, the commander of the corps, Lt. Gen. Carl A. Strock, said the administrative record "clearly demonstrates that Ms. Greenhouse's removal from the S.E.S. is based on her performance and not in retaliation for any disclosures of alleged improprieties that she may have made."

By the way, for twenty years this lady had nothing but the best performance ratings you could get from the Army. That is, until she started messing with Unca Dick's parent comapny:

Known as a stickler for the rules on competition, Ms. Greenhouse initially received stellar performance ratings, Mr. Kohn said. But her reviews became negative at roughly the time she began objecting to decisions she saw as improperly favoring Kellogg Brown & Root, he said. Often she hand-wrote her concerns on the contract documents, a practice that corps leaders called unprofessional and confusing.

Amazing that she went all funny like that at exactly the same time she started balking at Halliburton's contracts. That's what they call "accountability" in this Adminstration: do something we don't like, and you're accountable. Do something incompetent in the service of something we do like, and you're OK.

War profiteering is the great hidden story of this disastrous war. Beyond the UN "oil for food" headlines (which implicates several US companies, though you never hear that) are countless stories of mismanaged and flat-out stolen money. There's $8.8 billion missing from the Coalition Provisional Authority (led by Medal-of-Freedom-winner Paul Bremer). There's $2.4 billion in $100 bills, the largest cash transfer in the history of the New York Federal Reserve, carted up and shipped to Iraq, given away, handed out of the back of pick-up trucks (This is the government report on it). There's millions and millions and millions of dollars in overcharging and kickbacks from Halliburton, Bechtel and others for services in Iraq. There's simply no reasonable government oversight to what these companies are doing with our money. And anyone who does try to provide oversight gets demoted.

As many have said, we need a "Truman Commission" to look into these instances of war profiteering and provide real accountability, where the company engaged in these practices loses their contract or are penalized in some other fashion. Period.


Keep It Like A Secret

Got this in an email. It's from back in July in case some of the time frames seem wrong:

How Comcast Censors Political Content, Or Why My Comcast Horror Story Is Better Than Yours
By David Swanson

I'm working on a campaign headquartered at that seeks to draw attention to the Downing Street Minutes and to lobby Congress to open an investigation into whether the President has committed impeachable offenses.

July 23rd is the three-year anniversary of the meeting on Downing Street that produced the now infamous minutes, and we are organizing events all over the country on that day. Or, we're trying to. We noticed about a week ago that everyone working on this campaign was having strange Email problems. Some people would get Emails and some wouldn't, or they'd receive some but not others. Conference calls were worse than usual (I can't stand the things anyway) because half the people wouldn't get the info and know where to call in. Organizing by internet is super easy, but when you have to follow up every Email with a phone call to see if someone got it, it becomes super frustrating. Volunteers have been complaining all over the country - especially now that we've figured out what the problem was and they know what to complain about.

We didn't know it, but for the past week, anyone using Comcast has been unable to receive any Email with "" in the body of the Email. That has included every Email from me, since that was in my signature at the bottom of every Email I sent. And it included any Email linking people to any information about the upcoming events.

Disturbingly, Comcast did not notify us of this block. It took us a number of days to nail down Comcast as the cause of the problems, and then more days, working with Comcast's abuse department to identify exactly what was going on. We'd reached that point by Thursday, but Comcast was slow to fix the problem.

Comcast said that Symantec's Bright Mail filter was blocking the Emails, and that Symantec refused to lift the block, because they had supposedly received 46,000 complaints about Emails with our URL in them. Forty-six thousand!... Could we see two or three, or even one, of those 46,000 complaints? No, and Comcast claimed that Symantec wouldn't share them with Comcast either.

By the time Comcast had passed the buck to the company that it was paying to filter its customers Emails, Brad Blog had posted an article about the situation and urged people to complain to Comcast.

Brad quickly added Symantec phone numbers to the story on his website, and we called Symantec's communications department, which fixed the problem in a matter of minutes.

Shh... hopefully this post will be seen by Comcast users, as "After Downing Street" is now in the body of it...

This happened a little while ago, but it's the first I've heard of it. Basically a major media conglomerate (one who, at one time, signed my paychecks, disturbingly) decided to censor emails for very sketchy reasons. How are 46,000 complaints generated when the group never spammed anybody (a fact admitted by Comcast)? Was this a coordinated effort from certain people to mute protests and communication? Was it corporations falling in line behind their President? This raises some very big issues about free speech and the possibility of a military-media complex. This is not pie-in-the-sky "far left" conspiracy-mongering. This really happened. What does it say about our country that these types of things can go on?


Sunday, August 28, 2005


If any of this is true, we could be looking at the worst natural disaster on our shores in over a century (1906 fire and earthquake in San Francisco). Every time we've seen a hurricane in recent years, it hits far less populated areas, and this is a far bigger storm.

Let's hope everyone gets out of there OK. Let's hope Louisiana's emergency personnel are at their best. Let's just hope.



I was wondering when Tony Blair would get his payoff for joining the coalition of the willing in Iraq. After all, allowing the President a thin layer of political cover, and sending British soldiers into hostile territory (and not even achieving safety at home as a result) had to be worth something, right?


TONY Blair is expected to join one of the most exclusive groups of businessmen in the world after he leaves Downing Street.

The PM is being lined up for a highly lucrative position with the Carlyle Group - an American-based investment giant with strong links to the White House and the defence industry.

The firm has been nicknamed "The Ex-Presidents Club" because it has had a host of former world leaders on its books including George Bush Senior, his former secretary of state James Baker and former British PM John Major. There are also a large number of former US Army top brass.

The job could net Mr Blair up to £500,000 a year for only a few days work a month giving speeches and making "networking" trips on behalf of the company.

A-ha. So now we know.



This would be funny if it wasn't so sad and completely dangerous:

CRAWFORD, Texas - President Bush on Sunday promoted a proposed Iraqi constitution that goes to voters without the Sunni backing the White House aggressively worked to secure, hailing the document for offering "far-reaching protections for human freedoms."

"Their example is an inspiration to all who share the universal values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law," Bush told reporters from a helicopter hangar at his Texas ranch. "This is a document of which the Iraqis and the rest of the world can be proud."

Bush dismissed the constitution's rejection by 15 members of the Sunni negotiating team as the opinion of a few.

"There are strong beliefs among other Sunnis that this constitution is good for all Iraqis, and that it adequately reflects compromises suitable to all groups," he said.

Does he get reports on the same "Iraq" as everyone else? Obviously, no, his are filtered for "happy talk" clarity. That statement is the clearest depiction of the credibility gap in this Administration that I've ever seen. Put it this way: when Iran agrees with you that the Constitution is a great victory, it's time to dig a little deeper.

Of course, we knew Bush would strut out and proclaim another "turning the corner" moment if the Constitution was turned in literally written in the blood of Sunni women (rather than figuratively).

Meanwhile, Louisiana will have a far more difficult time saving lives and providing emergency services after a horrendous storm that's about to hit, because so much of their National Guard is over in Iraq. Actions have consequences, and these are tragic.

We will never have the ability to win in Iraq until the executive branch, led by the commander-in-chief, starts being truthful with themselves.