Tuesday, December 27, 2005

OK, Enough Whining. Time for Solutions!

Here's a cheering thought for the holidays: Some practical suggestiong for repairing the horrendous messs the US is in and by extension, all the rest of the world (that's you honey!). Read, take heart, but remember:

It can only happen when ACTION is taken. Blog, write, call. Put pressure on the folks who's salaries YOU pay.

That an interesting New Year is upon us if certain. Be part of what may make it happy.

Blue Ibis

Big Lies: Who told the worst political untruth of 2005? It’s a shame the list of contenders is so long.

By Eleanor Clift
Dec. 22, 2005

Every holiday season, we on "The McLaughlin Group" hand out news awards. Some categories, like "Biggest Winner," are easy (My choice was Chief Justice John Roberts, with the oil companies as runner-up). Others are a struggle to fill, like who to insult with the “Overrated” award.

In compiling this year’s list, I had the highest number of entries for the category, “Biggest Lie.” I chose the White House declaration that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby had nothing to do with leaking the identity of a covert CIA agent. They were the principal participants in the effort to discredit former ambassador Joe Wilson because he had raised doubts about one of the pillars of their argument for war, namely that Iraq had tried to buy yellowcake uranium to make a bomb.

Read the whole article here.

Comment: It's a strangely schizophrenic state for the United States to be in: on one side, you have Bush, Cheney and the gang loudly proclaiming "their reality," and on the other, you have more and more mainstream media outlets loudly proclaiming that Bush, Cheney, and the whole White House gang are out and out liars.

Two years ago, almost NONE of the mainstream media sources were calling Bush and Cheney liars; that was the purview of the alternative news sites and bloggers. But the issues have grown so large, so frightening that even the moderates and former Bush supporters are joining the general clamor for something to be done.

There's a problem, however, as Eleanor Clift points out above:
"The polls show that a majority of Americans no longer trust this team, which is why Bush and Cheney are hitting back hard at their critics. ... We have no mechanism to deal with a president who has lost the trust and confidence of the American people and has three years remaining in office. Impeachment is a nonissue; it’s not going to happen with Republicans in control of the House and Senate."

Recent polls (uncooked ones, that is) show that over 80 % of the American People want Bush impeached. But, as we pointed out a day or so ago, that's not the answer. If you impeach Bush, you get Cheney, if you impeach Cheney, you get Hastert, if you impeach Hastert, you get Stevens.

What we need is a way to get rid of an entire government.

The problem seems to be that our Founding Fathers did not include in their deliberations, any situation such as the United States is faced with today: a gang that has fixed elections, assassinated opposition, blackmailed and stacked the Congress to pass laws that essentially create a dictatorship.

Some other democratic governments have made provisions for just such contingencies. Typically, when parliaments vote 'no confidence,' or where it fails to vote confidence, a government must either: 1. resign, or 2. seek a parliamentary dissolution and request a General Election. We think that such provisions still leave something to be desired in that there is no way to factor in the voice of the people

In view of the situation, we here at Signs do have an idea. Since it is now obvious that 80 % or more of the American people want Bush OUT, it is not very likely that any of them will be voting Republican in the next congressional elections. If a Republican majority is returned to Congress, we can then be almost certain of vote rigging. So, the thing to do first is deluge all state governments with demands for voting systems that have a paper trail to ensure that no more elections are stolen.

Then, the people must put their energy into demanding new legislation. This legislation should be a bill introduced in Congress to the effect that a petition of citizens can invoke a national referendum of confidence/no confidence. Such a referendum will be 1 person = 1 vote, no "electoral college," no steps between the will of the people and the representatives of the people. If the will of the people is "no confidence" in the reigning government, they must all resign and a new election will be held. There ought to also be new legislation regarding elections, election financing, Congressional perks and power brokering.

So, here are some general ideas:

Government Should Be In The Hands Of Those Who Wish To Serve And Who Are Qualified By A Thorough Psychological Testing Program As Well As Extensive Background Investigation by something equivalent to a Grand Jury. Governing powers should certainly never be in the hands of those who are evaluated according to "electability" in terms of looks, or budget. Government should be made undesirable to those who seek money and power. Honor and the High Regard of the People should be the main rewards of statesmanship. Therefore, the following should be enacted as Constitutional Amendments:

A. Outlaw Expensive Political Campaigns. The Top Five qualified candidates should be given equal media representation gratis so that each can clearly state their positions and platforms. Money must be divorced from power in a Democracy.

B. Outlaw Lobbying And Special Interest Groups. Each Act Of Legislation should be clearly written so that all people can understand it,and no bills should be "conglomerates" where an unpopoular measure can be piggy-backed on a popular one.

C. All Elected Officials should be elected by Majority Vote of the People only. The Electoral College needs to be dismantled.

D. Salaries Of Elected Officials should reflect an average of the incomes of their constituents. In this way, they will have a better idea of how everybody else lives and will be more motivated to solve the problems of the people they serve.

Legislators and government officials should be provided with simple apartments, paid for by the government, where they can live while performing government functions if they must live away from their normal homes while doing so. Expensive residences, parties, cars, trips, and other so-called perks must be outlawed. Entertainment for visiting heads of state from other countries can be handled via special programs for same.

E. Outlaw Honorariums, Speaking Fees, Consulting Fees, Gifts etc, for elected officials while in office. If they can't live on their salaries, how do the expect anyone else to do so?

Such measures as the above are simple and would quickly result in social adjustments relating to government. With individual riches and power eliminated from the government equation, only those who truly seek to serve will be motivated to run for government office.

Naturally it is to be expected that great resistance to such ideas will issue from those possessing great wealth and power. The wealthy and powerful control not only the government, but also religions, social customs and social institutions. They have access to very clever theoreticians who invent very clever theories to justify everything they do. The result of these machinations can be seen all around us today. Never before has humanity been so precariously balanced on the edge of a chasm of fire, from which no one will emerge if we fall in.

Popular Theory holds that, while concentrated wealth may seem unfair, it is "good for economic prosperity." A couple of con-artists once made an Emperor a New set of clothes, too.

We believe in prosperity and comfort and freedom from want for all. Indeed, those who are more industrious and ambitious will naturally have more than others: that is the nature of a free market. We have no issues with that. However, we believe that those individuals who are less "equal" in terms of intellect or ambition, but who are still the majority of humanity, should be able to establish and maintain a basically comfortable and fulfilling lifestyle. The people who are content flipping burgers and collecting the trash should be able to live without stress, too.

Since our current major problems are actually Economic, we think immediate measures must be taken. These measures are based on the ideas of Dr. Ravi Batra, Professor Of Economics at Southern Methodist University.

A. Enact taxation in proportion to benefits received from the government. Since "Defense Of Our Way Of Life" is the Primary Benefit we receive, and is the major part of the Federal Budget, those who have the most to protect should pay the most taxes for that service.

Those who have accumulated great wealth in the United States have been vigorously protected at great expense of life limb by the common people from the time of The Revolutionary War until the present. That is to say, that the wealthy have been protected at the expense of the poor and middle classes and yet, the poor and middle classes are getting poorer and less able to survive while the rich are getting richer and sending more of the sons of the poor and middle classes off to die to enable the rich to get richer. For this reason, such a Wealth Tax should be retroactive when possible.

This Tax should be imposed on net worth including Stocks, Bonds, Real Estate, Precious Metals, Paintings Etc. An Exemption of an amount to equal twice the average cost of living in a given region should be allowed for everyone for personal and living expenses. The next double amount of the average cost of living would be taxed at 2%, the third at 3%, the fourth at 4%, and so on up to 10% of everything above 10 times double the average cost of living.

As can easily be seen, this would instantly remove the tax burden from the poor and Middle Classes entirely.

This Tax Rate would also generate revenues amounting to well over $300 Billion, based on $15 Trillion in total wealth.

This tax would apply to all foreign investors as well. This money should be used to immediately balance the Federal Budget. At the same time, government spending must be frozen and capital controls against moving money out of the country enacted.

Several things would result from this plan.

1. The tax would only fall on those who could afford to pay.

2. It would stimulate those of wealth to divest themselves of speculative paper and invest in actual industry. REAL jobs would be created and expanded.

B. Financial Institutions Must Be Regulated, and not by themselves as is the current situation with the so-called "Fed."

C. Charge Foreign Countries For Defense. It is cheaper for foreign governments to pay the U.S. than to establish and maintain their own standing armies. That is one of the reasons the U.S. has so many military bases all over the world. Ten years agoa, as much as $290. billion of the U.S. Defense Budget was spent on defense abroad. Today, that figure is so unbelievable that the U.S. is in imminent danger of economic collapse.

Following WW II, America offered a sefense umbrella to impoverished allies. At that time it was the world's largest banker. Those surpluses have declined turning America into the world's largest debtor. We can no longer compete in world trade because of our defense spending. Charging 1 To 2 percent of other nation's GNP for defense would bring in hundreds of millions annually. It can be said that the Iraq War is being fought on behalf of Israel, therefore, Israel should pay for it. Any wealthy individuals in the U.S. holding dual Israeli/American citizenship ought to pay double the Wealth Tax: once for the U.S. and once for Israel.

If other countries imposed a wealth tax as well, they would easily be able to bring their books into balance. But, as we have noted above, it is the wealthy who have risen to power on the blood, sweat and tears of the common man with the predictable result of today's embarrassing situation of the U.S. being stuck for the next three years with a president and administration that over 80% of the people do not want. It is the "love of money" for its own sake that has brought this evil on America.

In closing we would like to say: We believe in government of the people, by the people, and for the people - and we desire to see that it does not perish from the Earth!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


A flicker of hope that sanity may yet prevail in the U.S. educational system. Aren't you tired of being the laughingstock of the world on this?

Blue Ibis

Judge rules against 'intelligent design'

Idea shouldn't be taught in science class in public school, judge rules
The Associated Press
Updated: 10:56 a.m. ET Dec. 20, 2005

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the "intelligent design" explanation for the origin of life cannot be taught in biology classes in a Pennsylvania public school district.

The Dover Area School Board violated the Constitution when it ordered that its biology curriculum must include "intelligent design," the notion that life on Earth was produced by an unidentified intelligent cause, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III ruled.

The school board policy, adopted in October 2004, was believed to have been the first of its kind in the nation. Eight families then sued to have intelligent design removed.

"The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy," Jones wrote, "It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy."

[It's ironic only if you don't realize these folks are taking a page from the Neocons. They set the pattern. Look at the touted reasoning for the Patriot Act, and then look how it's being applied.]

The board's attorneys said members sought to improve science education by exposing students to alternatives to Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection causing gradual changes over time; intelligent-design proponents argue that it cannot fully explain the existence of complex life forms.

The plaintiffs argued that intelligent design amount to a secular repackaging of creationism, which the courts have already ruled cannot be taught in public schools.

The Dover policy had required students to hear a statement about intelligent design before ninth-grade biology lessons on evolution. The statement says Charles Darwin’s theory is "not a fact," has inexplicable "gaps," and refers students to an intelligent-design textbook, "Of Pandas and People," for more information.

Jones said advocates of intelligent design "have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors" and that he didn't believe the concept shouldn't be studied and discussed.

[Bona fide and deeply held beliefs -- also known as "wishful thinking" drives a lot of public policy these days, eh? Try Signs of the Times for a daily run-down on this phenomenon.]

"Our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom," he wrote.

The dispute is the latest chapter in a long-running debate over the teaching of evolution dating back to the famous 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, in which Tennessee biology teacher John T. Scopes was fined $100 for violating a state law that forbade teaching evolution. The Tennessee Supreme Court reversed his conviction on the narrow ground that only a jury trial could impose a fine exceeding $50 and the law was repealed in 1967.

Jones heard arguments in the fall during a six-week trial in which expert witnesses for each side debated intelligent design’s scientific merits. Other witnesses, including current and former school board members, disagreed over whether creationism was discussed in board meetings months before the curriculum change was adopted.

The controversy also divided the community in southwest Pennsylvania and galvanized voters to oust eight incumbent school board members who supported the policy in the Nov. 8 school board election. They were replaced by a slate of eight opponents who pledged to remove intelligent design from the science curriculum.

© 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Achtung!! An SS of Our Very Own

Do you feel safer now? A toe out of line and you could be the next "terrorist suspect" with your own personal security letter courtesy of the FBI and CIFA

I'm running out of the energy to be outraged . . . . . .

Blue Ibis

Testing the limits of wartime powers
Bush’s disclosure on domestic spying raises legal questions


By Barton Gellman and Dafna Linzer
The Washington Post
Updated: 12:56 a.m. ET Dec. 18, 2005

In his four-year campaign against al Qaeda, President Bush has turned the U.S. national security apparatus inward to secretly collect information on American citizens on a scale unmatched since the intelligence reforms of the 1970s.

The president's emphatic defense yesterday of warrantless eavesdropping on U.S. citizens and residents marked the third time in as many months that the White House has been obliged to defend a departure from previous restraints on domestic surveillance. In each case, the Bush administration concealed the program's dimensions or existence from the public and from most members of Congress.

Since October, news accounts have disclosed a burgeoning Pentagon campaign for "detecting, identifying and engaging" internal enemies that included a database with information on peace protesters. A debate has roiled over the FBI's use of national security letters to obtain secret access to the personal records of tens of thousands of Americans. And now come revelations of the National Security Agency's interception of telephone calls and e-mails from the United States -- without notice to the federal court that has held jurisdiction over domestic spying since 1978.

Waging an adamant defense

Defiant in the face of criticism, the Bush administration has portrayed each surveillance initiative as a defense of American freedom. Bush said yesterday that his NSA eavesdropping directives were "critical to saving American lives" and "consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution." After years of portraying an offensive waged largely overseas, Bush justified the internal surveillance with new emphasis on "the home front" and the need to hunt down "terrorists here at home."

Bush's constitutional argument, in the eyes of some legal scholars and previous White House advisers, relies on extraordinary claims of presidential war-making power. Bush said yesterday that the lawfulness of his directives was affirmed by the attorney general and White House counsel, a list that omitted the legislative and judicial branches of government. On occasion the Bush administration has explicitly rejected the authority of courts and Congress to impose boundaries on the power of the commander in chief, describing the president's war-making powers in legal briefs as "plenary" -- a term defined as "full," "complete," and "absolute."

["Things would be so much easier if this were a dictatorship. If I get to be the dictator, of course." --GWB]

A high-ranking intelligence official with firsthand knowledge said in an interview yesterday that Vice President Cheney, then-Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet and Michael V. Hayden, then a lieutenant general and director of the National Security Agency, briefed four key members of Congress about the NSA's new domestic surveillance on Oct. 25, 2001, and Nov. 14, 2001, shortly after Bush signed a highly classified directive that eliminated some restrictions on eavesdropping against U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

In describing the briefings, administration officials made clear that Cheney was announcing a decision, not asking permission from Congress. How much the legislators learned is in dispute.

Extent of policy shift disputed

Former senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.), who chaired the Senate intelligence committee and is the only participant thus far to describe the meetings extensively and on the record, said in interviews Friday night and yesterday that he remembers "no discussion about expanding [NSA eavesdropping] to include conversations of U.S. citizens or conversations that originated or ended in the United States" -- and no mention of the president's intent to bypass the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

"I came out of the room with the full sense that we were dealing with a change in technology but not policy," Graham said, with new opportunities to intercept overseas calls that passed through U.S. switches. He believed eavesdropping would continue to be limited to "calls that initiated outside the United States, had a destination outside the United States but that transferred through a U.S.-based communications system."

Graham said the latest disclosures suggest that the president decided to go "beyond foreign communications to using this as a pretext for listening to U.S. citizens' communications. There was no discussion of anything like that in the meeting with Cheney."

The high-ranking intelligence official, who spoke with White House permission but said he was not authorized to be identified by name, said Graham is "misremembering the briefings," which in fact were "very, very comprehensive." The official declined to describe any of the substance of the meetings, but said they were intended "to make sure the Hill knows this program in its entirety, in order to never, ever be faced with the circumstance that someone says, 'I was briefed on this but I had no idea that -- ' and you can fill in the rest."

By Graham's account, the official said, "it appears that we held a briefing to say that nothing is different . . . . Why would we have a meeting in the vice president's office to talk about a change and then tell the members of Congress there is no change?"

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), who was also present as then ranking Democrat of the House intelligence panel, said in a statement yesterday evening that the briefing described "President Bush's decision to provide authority to the National Security Agency to conduct unspecified activities." She said she "expressed my strong concerns" but did not elaborate.

Just one in a series of disclosures

The NSA disclosures follow exposure of two other domestic surveillance initiatives that drew shocked reactions from Congress and some members of the public in recent months.

Beginning in October, The Washington Post published articles describing a three-year-old Pentagon agency, the size and budget of which are classified, with wide new authority to undertake domestic investigations and operations against potential threats from U.S. residents and organizations against military personnel and facilities. The Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, began as a small policy-coordination office but has grown to encompass nine directorates and a staff exceeding 1,000. The agency's Talon database, collecting unconfirmed reports of suspicious activity from military bases and organizations around the country, has included "threat reports" of peaceful civilian protests and demonstrations.

CIFA has also been empowered with what the military calls "tasking authority" -- the ability to give operational orders -- over Army, Navy and Air Force units whose combined roster of investigators, about 4,000, is nearly as large as the number of FBI special agents assigned to counterterrorist squads. Pentagon officials said this month they had ordered a review of the program after disclosures, in The Post, NBC News and the washingtonpost.com Web log of William M. Arkin, that CIFA compiled information about U.S. citizens engaging in constitutionally protected political activity such as protests against military recruiting.

In November, The Post disclosed an exponentially growing practice of domestic surveillance under the USA Patriot Act, using FBI demands for information known as "national security letters." Created in the 1970s for espionage and terrorism investigations, the letters enabled secret FBI review of the private telephone and financial records of suspected foreign agents. The Bush administration's guidelines after the Patriot Act transformed those letters by permitting clandestine scrutiny of U.S. residents and visitors who are not alleged to be terrorists or spies.

The Post reported that the FBI has issued tens of thousands of national security letters, extending the bureau's reach as never before into the telephone calls, correspondence and financial lives of ordinary Americans. Most of the U.S. residents and citizens whose records were screened, the FBI acknowledged, were not suspected of wrongdoing.

Surge in domestic surveillance

The burgeoning use of national security letters coincided with an unannounced decision to deposit all the information they yield into government data banks -- and to share those private records widely, in the federal government and beyond. In late 2003, the Bush administration reversed a long-standing policy requiring agents to destroy their files on innocent American citizens, companies and residents when investigations closed.

Yesterday's acknowledgment of warrantless NSA eavesdropping brought the most forthright statement from the president that his war on terrorism is targeting not only "enemies across the world" but "terrorists here at home." In the "first war of the 21st century," he said, "one of the most critical battlefronts is the home front."

Bush sidestepped some of the implications by citing examples only of foreigners who infiltrated the United States -- Saudi citizens Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, two of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers. But the most fundamental changes undertaken in the Bush administration's surveillance policy are the ones that have broadened the powers of the NSA, FBI and Pentagon to spy on "U.S. persons" -- American citizens, permanent residents and corporations -- on American soil.

Anxiety about threats, countermeasures

Roger Cressey, who was principal deputy to the White House counterterrorism chief when terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center and a wing of the Pentagon, said "the amount of domestic surveillance is an admission of fundamental gaps in our understanding of what is happening in our country."

Those anxieties about unknown threats have ebbed and flowed since World War I, according to a bipartisan government commission chaired by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. President Woodrow Wilson warned against "the poison of disloyalty" and another loyalty campaign created black lists of accused Communists in the 1950s. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Army and the NSA collected files and eavesdropped on thousands of anti-Vietnam War and civil rights activists.

Congress asserted itself in the 1970s, imposing oversight requirements and passing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, said FISA "expressly made it a crime for government officials 'acting under color of law' to engage in electronic eavesdropping 'other than pursuant to statute.' " FISA described itself, along with the criminal wiretap statute, as "the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance . . . may be conducted."

No president before Bush mounted a frontal challenge to Congress's authority to limit espionage against Americans. In a Sept. 25, 2002, brief signed by then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, the Justice Department asserted "the Constitution vests in the President inherent authority to conduct warrantless intelligence surveillance (electronic or otherwise) of foreign powers or their agents, and Congress cannot by statute extinguish that constitutional authority."

'We only do it on Tuesdays'

The brief made no distinction between suspected agents who are U.S. citizens and those who are not. Other Bush administration legal arguments have said the "war on terror" is global and indefinite in scope, effectively removing traditional limits of wartime authority to the times and places of imminent or actual battle.

"There is a lot of discussion out there that we shouldn't be dividing Americans and foreigners, but terrorists and non-terrorists," said Gordon Oehler, a former chief of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center who served on last year's special commission assessing U.S. intelligence.

By law, according to University of Chicago scholar Geoffrey Stone, the differences are fundamental: Americans have constitutional protections that are enforceable in court whether their conversations are domestic or international.

[Really?? Tell that to Jose Padilla]

Bush's assertion that eavesdropping takes place only on U.S. calls to overseas phones, Stone said, "is no different, as far as the law is concerned, from saying we only do it on Tuesdays."

Michael J. Woods, who was chief of the FBI's national security law unit when Bush signed the NSA directive, described the ongoing program as "very dangerous." In the immediate aftermath of a devastating attack, he said, the decision was a justifiable emergency response. In 2006, "we ought to be past the time of emergency responses. We ought to have more considered views now. . . . We have time to debate a legal regime and what's appropriate."

Staff writers Charles Lane and Walter Pincus and researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

© 2005 MSNBC.com

Sunday, December 11, 2005

WHAAAAAA!!!! Don't tell me what to do!

Okay. There's just nothing to say after finding something like this, other than maybe "please tell me it's a joke". Get me off this continent. Hell, get me off this planet.

Blue Ibis

Bush - Constitution
'Just A Goddamned
Piece Of Paper'

By Doug Thompson
Capitol Hill Blue

Last month, Republican Congressional leaders filed into the Oval Office to meet with President George W. Bush and talk about renewing the controversial USA Patriot Act.

Several provisions of the act, passed in the shell shocked period immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, caused enough anger that liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union had joined forces with prominent conservatives like Phyllis Schlafly and Bob Barr to oppose renewal.

GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

"I don't give a goddamn," Bush retorted. "I'm the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way."

"Mr. President," one aide in the meeting said. "There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution."

"Stop throwing the Constitution in my face," Bush screamed back. "It's just a goddamned piece of paper!"

I've talked to three people present for the meeting that day and they all confirm that the President of the United States called the Constitution "a goddamned piece of paper."

And, to the Bush Administration, the Constitution of the United States is little more than toilet paper stained from all the shit that this group of power-mad despots have dumped on the freedoms that "goddamned piece of paper" used to guarantee.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, while still White House counsel, wrote that the "Constitution is an outdated document."

Put aside, for a moment, political affiliation or personal beliefs. It doesn't matter if you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent. It doesn't matter if you support the invasion or Iraq or not. Despite our differences, the Constitution has stood for two centuries as the defining document of our government, the final source to determine ­ in the end ­ if something is legal or right.

Every federal official ­ including the President ­ who takes an oath of office swears to "uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says he cringes when someone calls the Constitution a "living document."

""Oh, how I hate the phrase we have-a 'living document,'" Scalia says. "We now have a Constitution that means whatever we want it to mean. The Constitution is not a living organism, for Pete's sake."

As a judge, Scalia says, "I don't have to prove that the Constitution is perfect; I just have to prove that it's better than anything else."

President Bush has proposed seven amendments to the Constitution over the last five years, including a controversial amendment to define marriage as a "union between a man and woman." Members of Congress have proposed some 11,000 amendments over the last decade, ranging from repeal of the right to bear arms to a Constitutional ban on abortion.

Scalia says the danger of tinkering with the Constitution comes from a loss of rights.

"We can take away rights just as we can grant new ones," Scalia warns. "Don't think that it's a one-way street."

And don't buy the White House hype that the USA Patriot Act is a necessary tool to fight terrorism. It is a dangerous law that infringes on the rights of every American citizen and, as one brave aide told President Bush, something that undermines the Constitution of the United States.

But why should Bush care? After all, the Constitution is just "a goddamned piece of paper."

Monday, December 05, 2005

Gobsmacked . . . . .

There are times when you can read/hear things and your brain just can't seem to process what your eyes/ears are presenting to it. As in John McCain, WHO HAS EXPERIENCED BEING TORTURED saying [below]"while he would not compromise on the torture language, said they were in discussions "about other aspects of this to try to get an agreement."


It has been well established that any information gained by this disgusting activity is nearly always useless. People will say anything to stop the infliction of pain.

WHAT IS THERE TO DISCUSS???? WE ARE TALKING ABOUT INFLICTING PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PHYSICAL PAIN ON HUMAN BEINGS! And no weaseling that "we didn't actually do it, Syria/Egypt/toady of your choice did". If the US set up the conditions with their rendition process, they are responsible.

And for a man with his history and experiences, what sort of hold do "they" have on him, that he could be making such absurd statements?

Blue Ibis

P.S. For an insight into how the world can be led into such madness, even though populated by mostly reasonable human beings, see Laura Knight-Jadczyks' new article on Ponerology - the study of evil

McCain: No compromise on torture ban
Arizona senator appears on NBC's 'Meet the Press'

The Associated Press
Updated: 2:02 p.m. ET Dec. 4, 2005

WASHINGTON - Sen. John McCain, a prisoner of war who was tortured in Vietnam, said Sunday he will refuse to yield on his demands that the White House agree with his proposed ban on the use of torture to extract information from suspected terrorists.

"I won't," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press" when asked whether he would compromise with the Bush administration. He is insisting on his language that no person in U.S. custody should be subject to "cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment."

The Arizona Republican said he had met several times with the president's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, on the issue, and both McCain and Hadley said Sunday they were working toward an agreement.

Hadley, on ABC's "This Week," repeated President Bush's assertion that the United States does not torture and follows international conventions on the treatment of prisoners.

He added, "We're trying to find a way ... where we can strike the balance between being aggressive to protect the country against the terrorists, and, at the same time, comply with the law."

"We're working it. We're not there yet," he said on "Fox News Sunday."

McCain, while saying he would not compromise on the torture language, said they were in discussions "about other aspects of this to try to get an agreement." He did not elaborate.

McCain, a Navy flier who was captured by the North Vietnamese and tortured during the Vietnam War, sponsored an anti-torture measure that has passed the Senate by a 90-9 vote.

But the White House said it could not accept restrictions that might prevent interrogators from gaining information vital to the nation's security and has threatened a presidential veto of any bill that contained the McCain language.

[Guys, if "We don't torture!", then why threaten the veto? Or even, why do we need this bill in the first place???]

McCain noted that intelligence gained through torture can be unreliable and he said the practice hurts the U.S. reputation abroad.

© 2005 MSNBC.com

Friday, November 18, 2005

Words From a Real Mother

Though I've been following the debacle that is the Iraq war from the beginning, I somehow missed this completely heartless remark made by the mother of our "president". No wonder he can send so many beloved sons and husbands to die for nothing. How could you ever feel compassion for anothers with such a background?

Blue Ibis

Open Letter to George's Mama

By Cindy Sheehan
16 Nov 2005

Dear Barbara,

On April 04, 2004, your oldest child killed my oldest child, Casey Austin Sheehan.

Unlike your oldest child, my son was a marvelous person who joined the military to serve his country and to try and make the world a better place. Casey didn't want to go to Iraq, but he knew his duty. Your son went AWOL from a glamour unit. George couldn't even handle the Alabama Air National Guard. Casey joined the Army before your son became commander in chief. We all know that your son was thinking of invading Iraq as early as 1999. Casey was a dead man before George even became president and before he even joined the Army in May of 2000.

I raised Casey and my other children to use their words to solve problems and conflicts. I told my four children from the time that they were small that it is ALWAYS wrong to kick, bite, hit, scratch, pull hair, etc. If the smaller children couldn't find the words to solve their conflicts without violence, I always encouraged them to find a mediator like a parent, older sibling, or teacher to help them find the words.

Did you teach George to use his words and not his violence to solve problems? It doesn't appear so. Did you teach him that killing other people for profits and oil is ALWAYS wrong? Obviously you did not. I also used to wash my children's mouth out with soap on the rare occasion that they lied…did you do that to George? Can you do it now? He has lied and he is still lying. Saddam did not have WMD's or ties with al-Qaeda and the Downing Street Memos prove that your son knew this before he invaded Iraq.

On August 3rd, 2005, your son said that he killed my son and the other brave and honorable Americans for a "noble cause." Well, Barbara, mother to mother, that angered me. I don't consider invading and occupying another country that was proven not to be a threat to the USA is a noble cause. I don't think invading a country, killing its innocent citizens, and ruining the infrastructure to make your family and your family-friendly war profiteers rich is a noble cause.

So I went down to Crawford in August to ask your son what noble cause did he kill my son for. He wouldn't speak with me. I think that showed incredibly bad manners. Do you think a president, even if it is your son, should be so inaccessible to his employers? Especially one of his bosses whose life George has devastated so completely?

I have been to the White House several times since August to try and meet with George and I am going back to Crawford next week. Do you think you can call him and ask him to do the right thing and bring the troops home from this illegal and immoral war in Iraq that he carelessly started? I hear you are one of the few people he still talks to. He won't speak to his father, who knew the difficulties and impossibilities of going into Iraq and that's why he didn't go there in the 1st Gulf War. If you won't tell him to bring the troops home, can you at least urge him to meet with me?

You said this in 2003, a little over a year before my dear, sweet Casey was killed by your son's policies:

"Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? Oh, I mean, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?" (Good Morning America, March 18, 2003)

Now I have something to tell you, Barbara. I didn't want to hear about deaths or body bags either. On April 04, 2004, three Army officers came to my house to tell me that Casey was killed in Iraq. I fell on the floor screaming and begging the cruel Angel of Death to take me too. But the Angel of Death that took my son is your son.

Casey came home in a flag draped coffin on April 10th. I used to have a beautiful mind too. Now my mind is filled with images of seeing his beautiful body in his casket and memories of burying my brave and honest boy before his life really began. Casey's beautiful mind was ended by an insurgent's bullet to his brain, but your son might as well have pulled the trigger.

Besides encouraging your son to have some honesty and courage and to finally do the right thing, don't you think you owe me and every other Gold Star parent an apology for that cruel and careless remark you made?

Your son's amazingly ignorant, arrogant, and reckless policies in Iraq are responsible for so much sorrow and trouble in this world.

Can you make him stop? Do it before more mothers' lives are needlessly and cruelly harmed. There have been too many worldwide already.


Cindy Sheehan
Mother of Casey Sheehan
Founder and President of Gold Star Families for Peace
Founder of Camp Casey Peace Foundation

Comment: Read again Sheehan's words:

You said this in 2003, a little over a year before my dear, sweet Casey was killed by your son's policies:

"Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? Oh, I mean, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?" (Good Morning America, March 18, 2003)

Now I have something to tell you, Barbara. I didn't want to hear about deaths or body bags either. On April 04, 2004, three Army officers came to my house to tell me that Casey was killed in Iraq. I fell on the floor screaming and begging the cruel Angel of Death to take me too. But the Angel of Death that took my son is your son.

Casey came home in a flag draped coffin on April 10th. I used to have a beautiful mind too. Now my mind is filled with images of seeing his beautiful body in his casket and memories of burying my brave and honest boy before his life really began. Casey's beautiful mind was ended by an insurgent's bullet to his brain, but your son might as well have pulled the trigger.

Aside from being a very powerful indictment of Bush and Co., Sheehan's words are as close to the truth of the matter as you are likely to get. The sad reality is that there is nothing inflammatory about calling the current member of the American executive "murderers", it is simply a cold hard fact. The U.S. population, like that of Britain, Australia, Italy and many other countries, is being governed by men and women who are very clearly guilty of war crimes.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Fighting the Good Fight

An update on one of my favourite truth-speakers, George Galloway. Remember him? He bearded the lion in the den of the Congress, daring anyone of them to charge him in the oil for food scandal, then administered a collective tongue-lashing to the feckless rubes we elected to Congress due to our laziness and stupidity. We can only dream of a statesmen that would say what needs to be said about our governments abysmal actions worldwide. If you want to talk embezzelment, let's start at home. Halliburton, anyone?

George has dared Congress to charge him formally with these crimes. He knows that they can't make them stick. From his detractors we've heard not a single subastatiated fact. Just a smear campaign that puts words in the mouth of a prisoner of the US. Some Independent Inquiry Commission, huh? It seems the US is perfectly happy to use the UN when it's playing along with the US agenda

Pity no one is paying attention.

Blue Ibis

Aziz denies naming British MP in graft probe: lawyer

By Dina al-Wakeel Sat Oct 29, 5:18 PM ET

AMMAN (Reuters) - Former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz has denied telling investigators that maverick British politician George Galloway profited from the U.N. oil-for-food program for Iraq, Aziz's lawyer said on Saturday.

U.S. congressional investigators said this week they had evidence that Galloway profited from the defunct U.N. program created to protect Iraqis from the harsh effects of sanctions against their government.

The U.N.-established Independent Inquiry Committee, led by former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, also named Galloway in a report issued this week as one of several politicians who were given favors by Saddam.

Congressional investigators said that, under questioning Aziz, said he had discussed oil allocations with Galloway and confirmed the authenticity of a letter in which the British member of parliament requested a bigger oil allocation.

"These are lies...he (Aziz) denied this," Aziz's lawyer Badia Aref told Reuters.

"It is part of a media campaign aimed at smearing Galloway's reputation," said the lawyer, who last saw Aziz on Tuesday.

Aref said Aziz confirmed that Iraq had participated with some $45,000 in the Mariam Appeal cancer charity set up by Galloway, but only to help sick Iraqi children.

However, Tom Steward, spokesman for U.S. Senator Norm Coleman who chairs the Senate subcommittee on investigations, said Aziz's retraction was suspect.

"Chairman Volcker believes Tareq Aziz changed his testimony because Iraqi prosecutors were breathing down his neck and concluded Aziz's retraction is not credible," he said in a statement. He said there was "a solid bedrock of evidence" suggesting Galloway received oil-for-food money.

Galloway himself told the subcommittee earlier this year that he was not an oil trader and had never spoken to Aziz about Iraq providing financial support for the Mariam Appeal.

He has also rejected the latest U.S. accusations that he profited from the oil-for-food program.

Congressional investigators say Galloway personally solicited and was granted oil allocations from the Iraqi government for 23 million barrels from 1999 to 2003. They say Galloway's wife received about $150,000 in connection with the allocations and the Mariam fund received at least $446,000.

Aziz, a Christian who was the public face of Saddam's government abroad, was arrested after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. No formal charges have been brought against him yet. "Nothing is clear yet...the man cannot remain in these conditions...his health is deteriorating," Aref said.

Comment: Armed only with the truth, Galloway so infuriated the U.S. ruling class at the Senate hearing in May this year that they will stop at nothing to have their revenge. Of course, we shouldn't be surprised that the Bush regime would deliberately fabricate evidence in order to further their political and personal goals, after all, look at the last 5 years.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Is This Why We Support "Our Troops"?

Yet another reason for the US citizen to hang their head in shame. That is, if they were even paying attention. Did Cindy Sheehan's son and so many other sons and daughters die to defend this sort of disgusting arrogance?

Once again, thanks to the Signs Team for bringing this to the blosphere. G-d knows we'd never hear it on CNBC or FOX.

Blue Ibis

U.S.: License to Abuse Would Put CIA Above the Law

Source: Human Rights Watch
26 Oct 2005

(New York, October 26, 2005) – The Bush administration is now the only government in the world to claim a legal justification for mistreating prisoners during interrogations, Human Rights Watch said today. The administration recently approached members of the U.S. Congress to seek a waiver that would allow the CIA to use cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment on detainees in U.S. custody outside the United States.

While many other governments practice torture and other forms of mistreatment and have records of abuse far worse than the United States, no other government currently claims that such abuse is legally permissible, Human Rights Watch said.

"The administration is setting a dangerous example for the world when it claims that spy agencies are above the law," said Tom Malinowski, Washington director of Human Rights Watch. "Congress should reject this proposal outright. Otherwise, the United States will have no standing to demand humane treatment if an American falls into the hands of foreign intelligence services."

Earlier this month, in a 90-9 vote, the U.S. Senate approved a measure sponsored by Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham that would prohibit the military and CIA from using "cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment" in the case of any detainee, anywhere in the world.

But last week, Vice President Dick Cheney and CIA director Porter Goss met with Sen. McCain to propose a presidential waiver for the proposed legislation. The proposed waiver states that the measure "shall not apply with respect to clandestine counterterrorism operations conducted abroad, with respect to terrorists who are not citizens of the United States, that are carried out by an element of the United States government other than the Department of Defense."

Monday, October 17, 2005

Don't Get Too Excited

I've been traveling and will be commenting on that experience soon. In the mean time here is another excellent op/ed from the Signs of the Times team.

Blue Ibis

False Hopes
Signs of the Times

Now that Bush and his administration are in deep trouble -- his approval ratings are way down, the war in Iraq is so far out of control that only the most rabid Bushistas are not seeing it, the White House is under investigation for leaking secrets, Hurricane Katrina brought to the screens of CNN and Fox the structural racism of American society and the Bush Administration's lack of concern for the plight of the poor and Blacks, gas prices are at historical highs, the US economy is on the verge of a major crash after being kept on life support via consumer debt, and stories that have long been found only on the Internet about Bush's drinking and drug problems, not to mention his abusive treatment of staff, are finally making it into the mainstream press, and so on --, we are going to see a lot of proposals for what should be done. What will be common to most of them is that they will completely miss the mark.

The current investigation of Patrick Fitzgerald, should it finish by handing down indictments to major figures of the Bush Reich, has been focused on a very small and relatively unimportant element of the litany of horror stories that have been such an integral part of this administration since it stole its way into office through a Supreme Court fiat. Outing a CIA spy is really a trivial matter. They should all be outed. There are reports, however, that Fitzgerald may be enlarging his investigation to look at the so-called faulty intelligence planted by the neo-cons in the press prior to launching their war on Iraq.

But still...

If Karl Rove or Scooter Libby, or even George W. himself, were to be named by Fitzgerald, prosecuted, and even convicted, do we actually think it would change anything? Do we think that any of these three men were actually involved in the organisation or carrying out of the events of 9/11?

We think not.

So if the public face of the new American fascism is removed, what about all of the others, the real power, the names we don't know? They'll still be in place. And this is why we think that all the hoopla will be much ado about nothing, sound and fury signifying yet another hoodwinking of the American public into believing the "system works", just like with Watergate and the resignation of Richard Nixon.

Well, yeah, it does. It works very well for those in control. It just doesn't work for what it claims: protecting and ensuring the freedom of the US people.

However, there is another degree of control that no one is talking about, a level of control that is so outlandish and preposterous for most of us that we laugh it off and consider the person making such a proposition as deranged. Yes, friends, we are speaking of the control that comes from hyperdimensional realities and our hyperdimensional overlords. You remember them; they consider us as livestock to be bred for their needs. If coming to the conclusion that the neocons and Israel were behind 9/11 is a bridge too far, how much further is it for the man on the street to consider that we are ruled by time-traveling beings who appear to us as gods and aliens in order to better manipulate us? Who have filled our heads with monotheism in order to divide us, to set us one against another, and if that doesn't work, then, whup, let's bring out the New Age and the occult, black magic and paganism, Planet Nibiru and the other fads of millennial thinking.

If you were holed up in the White House and saw that you were becoming encircled by enemy forces, what would you do? It is easy to suggest that Bush & Co could order another "terrorist" attack on the country, however, it is clear that Bush is but a puppet when it comes to such things. What if his puppet masters didn't want to help him out? What if he has become expendable?

That doesn't exclude the possibility that Bush and Rove could have their black ops experts pull off a little attack of their own, the way MI5 put terror back on the front pages in July in London, but it is risky because not everyone has the experience and know-how of Israeli intelligence when it comes to false flag operations. London was to a certain extent a bungled affair. Too many loose ends. It is only the complicity of the press, that watch dog that seems to forever feast on a piece of stray meat thrown its way when it should be doing its job, that the false flag nature of the bombings haven't come to light in the mainstream media.

We seem to have entered a period of turbulence, perhaps a phase transition. The new state into which we pass will depend upon the energy that is put into the system now, while it is beginning to boil. There are two choices, either the energy of creation or the energy of entropy. Creation is intimately linked to our ability to see the world as it is, free from any and all illusion. In our case, these illusions have to do with the social programming we receive in school, the emotional programming that comes from our relationships in our families, with our friends. If we continue to believe the lies we have been fed all of our lives, then we will remain embedded in a reality of lies, of chaos, of disorder, violence, hunger, and aggression. We will be swept down into the maelstrom of entropy.

Subjectivity is our enemy. It is what holds us prisoner to our personalities, unable to reach deeply inside to touch our real selves.

Only by staring the world in its face, working through the emotional chains that hold us, consciously revisiting our upbringing and identifying our programming, and then learning how to make a different choice when the programme starts to run will be be able to face the world in front of us calmly, steadfastly, and with the clear gaze that will enable us to respond creatively.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

And So It Has Come To This

Honest dissent has now become terrorism . . . .

An 82 year old man feebly voices the word "nonsense" when Home
Secretary Jack straw stated that there was only one reason that the UK was in
Iraq. He and another man who came to his aid were then "manhandled"
out of the building. The 82 year old was then held under recently-passed
anti-terrorism laws to prevent him from re-entering the building.

Story here. See the video here:

The PTB jumped on this one fast. See here how the story has morphed into this frail man "shouting" (being unruly and disruptive to the esteemed secretary) and so maybe "had it coming". In any case a mealy mouthed apology has been offered. No word on when the stewards of the Labour Party will start wearing brown shirts.

Blue Ibis

Friday, September 16, 2005

What Goes Around Can Bite You Again?

As interesting as this little tidbit is, you can find a lot more here and here. Both are in-depth treatments of this, the Reischstag fire of the 21st century, by the good folks at Signs of the Times. Funny what drops down the media memory hole when there's a Katrina for tragic distraction. Such is the callousness of our "leaders". . .

Blue Ibis

Bogus Israeli Moving Co -
Israeli Intel - Back In US?

By Wayne Madsen

Is Urban Moving Systems chief back in US? There are indications that Israeli national Dominik Suter, the former head of Urban Moving Systems in Weehawken, NJ is back in the United States, this time in south Florida and may be using his actual name. Suter ran the Weehawken, NJ-based moving company on 9-11 when a number of Urban Moving Systems vans were spotted around north Jersey before and after the hijacked planes struck the World Trade Center. One Urban Moving van was seen at Liberty State Park in Jersey City as the first plane hit the towers. The five occupants, all Israeli nationals, were seen videotaping and celebrating the attack and were dressed in Arab clothing. The five were later arrested near Giant Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. One of the Israelis told police they were at Liberty State Park to "document the event."

After the Israelis were detained for several months in Brooklyn as terrorist suspects, they were quickly deported to Israel. After the FBI questioned Suter on September 11, he fled the United States on September 14, 2001. The FBI was due to question Suter again before he fled the country. Later, Federal law enforcement agents discovered pipes, caps, explosive chemical materials, and traces of anthrax at the Weehawken warehouse. Suter's name and those of some of his moving employees turned up in a CIA database of foreign intelligence agents. Suter's name also appeared on an FBI 9-11 terrorism suspect list. Suter's year of birth is listed as 1970 with a social security number of 129-78-0926. His addresses before 9-11 are listed as 28 Harlow Crescent Rd., Fairlawn, NJ 07410; 312 Pavonia Ave., Jersey City, NJ 07302; and 15000 Dickens, Suite 11, Sherman Oaks CA. If Suter has been permitted to re-enter the United States, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security and its chief Michael Chertoff have a lot of explaining to do.


Sunday, September 04, 2005

Nuggets of Truth

They're there, those little tidbits that tell you what is really going on. You just have to look for them. From today's Meet the Press interviews:

[... Discussion of Renquist's replacement and nauseating spin from Chertoff about what a great job the government is going to do . . . .]

Coming next, the very latest from the governor of Mississippi. And the president of Jefferson Parish just outside New Orleans, Louisiana. Hurricane Katrina continues on this special edition of MEET THE PRESS.
MR. RUSSERT: More on Hurricane Katrina, the response from the governor of Mississippi and the president of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, after this station break.
MR. RUSSERT: And we are back.

Jefferson Parish President Broussard, let me start with you. You just heard the director of Homeland Security's explanation of what has happened this last week. What is your reaction?

MR. AARON BROUSSARD: We have been abandoned by our own country. Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst storms ever to hit an American coast, but the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history. I am personally asking our bipartisan congressional delegation here in Louisiana to immediately begin congressional hearings to find out just what happened here. Why did it happen? Who needs to be fired? And believe me, they need to be fired right away, because we still have weeks to go in this tragedy. We have months to go. We have years to go. And whoever is at the top of this totem pole, that totem pole needs to be chain-sawed off and we've got to start with some new leadership.

It's not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here. Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area, and bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now. It's so obvious. FEMA needs more congressional funding. It needs more presidential support. {Really? Check out that "effectiveness" of FEMA below} .It needs to be a Cabinet-level director. It needs to be an independent agency that will be able to fulfill its mission to work in partnership with state and local governments around America. FEMA needs to be empowered to do the things it was created to do. It needs to come somewhere, like New Orleans, with all of its force immediately, without red tape, without bureaucracy, act immediately with common sense and leadership, and save lives. Forget about the property. We can rebuild the property. It's got to be able to come in and save lives.

We need strong leadership at the top of America right now in order to accomplish this and to-- reconstructing FEMA.

MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Broussard, let me ask--I want to ask--should...

MR. BROUSSARD: You know, just some quick examples...

MR. RUSSERT: Hold on. Hold on, sir. Shouldn't the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of New Orleans bear some responsibility? Couldn't they have been much more forceful, much more effective and much more organized in evacuating the area?

MR. BROUSSARD: Sir, they were told like me, every single day, "The cavalry's coming," on a federal level, "The cavalry's coming, the cavalry's coming, the cavalry's coming." I have just begun to hear the hoofs of the cavalry. The cavalry's still not here yet, but I've begun to hear the hoofs, and we're almost a week out.

Let me give you just three quick examples. We had Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of water, trailer trucks of water. FEMA turned them back. They said we didn't need them. This was a week ago. FEMA--we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. The Coast Guard said, "Come get the fuel right away." When we got there with our trucks, they got a word. "FEMA says don't give you the fuel." Yesterday--yesterday--FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards on our line and says, "No one is getting near these lines." Sheriff Harry Lee said that if America--American government would have responded like Wal-Mart has responded, we wouldn't be in this crisis.

But I want to thank Governor Blanco for all she's done and all her leadership. She sent in the National Guard. I just repaired a breach on my side of the 17th Street canal that the secretary didn't foresee, a 300-foot breach. I just completed it yesterday with convoys of National Guard and local parish workers and levee board people. It took us two and a half days working 24/7. I just closed it.

MR. RUSSERT: All right.

MR. BROUSSARD: I'm telling you most importantly I want to thank my public employees...

MR. RUSSERT: All right.

MR. BROUSSARD: ...that have worked 24/7. They're burned out, the doctors, the nurses. And I want to give you one last story and I'll shut up and let you tell me whatever you want to tell me. The guy who runs this building I'm in, emergency management, he's responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, "Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?" And he said, "Yeah, Mama, somebody's coming to get you. Somebody's coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody's coming to get you on Friday." And she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night.

MR. RUSSERT: Mr. President...

MR. BROUSSARD: Nobody's coming to get us. Nobody's coming to get us. The secretary has promised. Everybody's promised. They've had press conferences. I'm sick of the press conferences. For God sakes, shut up and send us somebody.

MR. RUSSERT: Just take a pause, Mr. President. While you gather yourself in your very emotional times, I understand, let me go to Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi.

Governor Barbour, can you bring our audience up to date on what is happening in your state, how many deaths have you experienced and what do you see playing out over the next couple days?

GOV. HALEY BARBOUR, (R-MS): Well, we were ground zero of the worst natural disaster ever to hit the United States. And it's not just a calamity on our Gulf Coast, which is decimated, I mean, destroyed, all the infrastructure overwhelmed. We have damage 150 miles inland. We have 100 miles inland, 12 deaths from winds over 110 miles an hour.
But my experience is very different from Louisiana, apparently. I don't know anything about Louisiana. Over here, we had the Coast Guard in Monday night. They took 1,700 people off the roofs of houses with guys hanging off of helicopters to get them. They sent us a million meals last night because we'd eaten everything through. Everything hasn't been perfect here, by any stretch of the imagination, Tim. But the federal government has been good partners to us. They've tried hard. Our people have tried hard. Firemen and policemen and emergency medical people, National Guard, highway patrolmen working virtually around the clock, sleeping in their cars when they could sleep. And we've made progress every day.
{Does anyone think to ask why? Who gains from drowning New Orleans?}

But should I--we haven't made as much progress as I want any day. And to be honest, we won't make as much progress as I want any day because the devastation we're dealing with is unimaginable, not just unprecedented. It's unimaginable.

MR. RUSSERT: Governor, how many people do you think have died in the state of Mississippi?

GOV. BARBOUR: Well, the official death toll is 160-something. And with the debris, Tim, that we have on the coast, which in many areas is six, eight, 10 feet tall, and because some people didn't evacuate, I think that toll will go up. I can't tell you how much, but we have so many people on the coast, they boarded up for Ivan, evacuated, nothing happened. Boarded up for Dennis, evacuated, nothing happened. Then they said, you know, "Where I am was OK for Camille." Nobody ever imagined something worse than Camille. And we have a lot of people...


GOV. BARBOUR: ...who may have died because they didn't believe anything could be worse than Camille.

MR. RUSSERT: Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard, we thank you very much for your own personal testimony this morning and sharing it with the American viewers.

Coming next, why were all the warnings about New Orleans ignored? And what will be the impact of this crisis on our nation's economy and our nation's psyche? Coming up right here on MEET THE PRESS.

MR. RUSSERT: Welcome all.

By now this animation by NBC News has become very familiar. It shows exactly how New Orleans is that so-called bathtub, a city in between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain. And when those levees break, the city can be flooded and disaster can occur.

Mark Fischetti, you wrote an article for Scientific American 2001...


MR. RUSSERT: ...and you basically predicted this very thing happening.

MR. FISCHETTI: Right. The article came out in 2001. It was based on computer models that Louisiana State University had been running for several years. A plan had been put together in 1998 already by scientists and engineers what could be done to protect New Orleans if a Category 4 or 5 hurricane came from the south as it did.

MR. RUSSERT: So when the president and Secretary Chertoff say, "We were surprised that the levees were breached," were you surprised?

MR. FISCHETTI: I wasn't surprised. I felt sick Sunday night myself having written this piece and seen the computer models about what could happen in this very instance. I wasn't the only one to write about it. Others have written about it. The models have been out there.

MR. RUSSERT: Mike Tidwell, you've written about it as well, and you say that in order to rebuild, there's going to have to be some serious undertakings in recognition of the environmental realities of what exists in the New Orleans area.

MR. MIKE TIDWELL: [....]You can't just fix the levees in New Orleans. We now have to have a massive coastal restoration project where we get the water out of the Mississippi River in a controlled fashion toward the Barrier islands, restore the wetlands. If you don't commit to this plan which is this $14 billion, costs of the Big Dig in Boston, or two weeks of spending Iraq, you shouldn't fix a single window in New Orleans. You shouldn't pick up a single piece of debris because to do one without the other is to set the table for another nightmare.

MR. RUSSERT: So if you keep status quo, rebuild the levee and not do the other environmental corrections that you're talking about, this will happen again?

MR. TIDWELL: I don't think we should fix a single window in New Orleans unless as a nation we commit to this $14 billion plan called Coast 2050. You can Google it under the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. It's been on the table since the mid-'90s. The Bush administration has had all kinds of folks in New Orleans and in Louisiana begging for funding for this--the cost of the Big Dig--to restore the Barrier islands, to fix the wetlands because without that, New Orleans is an endangered city forever.

MR. RUSSERT: Marc Morial, you were the mayor of New Orleans.


MR. RUSSERT: Your dad was the mayor. In fact, ironically, the very faces of those poor souls we saw in the Convention Center, it's the Dutch Morial Convention Center named after your dad.


MR. RUSSERT: I want to raise a subject that was written by The Washington Post and I've seen you on television speaking about it. "The Racial Dimension: To Me, It Just seems Like Black People Are Marked"--was the headline of The Washington Post story. "While hundreds of thousands of people have been dislocated by Hurricane Katrina, the images that have filled the television screens have been mainly of black Americans--grieving, suffering, in some cases looting and desperately trying to leave New Orleans. Along with the intimate tales of family drama and survival being played out Thursday, there was no escaping that race had become a subtext to the unfolding drama of the hurricane's aftermath."

MR. MORIAL: One has to ask themselves a question: Were this Washington, D.C., New York, an earthquake in Los Angeles, would the response have been so inadequate, been so lacking? Tim, what-- where my emotions are and watching Aaron Broussard, it just struck me another time. Where my emotions are is there was Hurricane Katrina, and then there was the first 72 to 96 hours of response. It was wholly and completely inadequate.

Not only am I upset, shocked, angry, I hope that as I talk on this show today that this nation will recognize that this is a wake-up call and an opportunity for black and white people to come together to try to do something for the now almost one million people who've been displaced from their homes, unprecedented in American history, a humanitarian crisis of untold proportions. And we've got to focus on that.

I'm on my way to Houston today to visit the residents of my former city just to try to give hope and try to give healing and to try to say we care. There's going to need to be a retrospective and an examination of all that went wrong, but there needs to be a continuation of rescue efforts in New Orleans and also energy, money and resources, not just from the private sector, but from the government of the United States to do something about all of the people who have now evacuated and must be resettled.
{but you can bet it won't be anywhere near all that prime real estate. Wonder what the alternatives are then?}

MR. RUSSERT: There was a poll taken before the hurricane, and about 60 percent of the residents of New Orleans said they probably wouldn't leave if they were asked to evacuate. Many of them said they couldn't leave. They live check to check. They don't have an automobile. Should the mayor, should the governor, should the president, should everyone have been more insistent and provided the resources-- trains, planes, buses, automobiles, boats--to evacuate the city before the hurricane?

MR. MORIAL: When I was mayor in '98, we orchestrated the first evacuation of the city during Hurricane Georges. After the evacuation, we did a public opinion poll, or a poll of the citizens of the city, which demonstrated that 50 percent, approximately, evacuated. About 20 to 25 percent found themselves in shelters of last resort, which were the dome, the Convention Center, and then another 25 percent refused to go. It was always foreseeable that there would be those that would not leave. There was a marker here, Hurricane Georges going forward, that led, I must admit to, for example, changes in the city's hurricane evacuation plan which contraflowed the interstate, which, if that had not occurred, the tragedy may have even been greater.

So under these circumstances, faced with what we're faced, it was foreseeable that people would not be able to evacuate. Many of the people you saw at the Convention Center or the dome didn't have cars, didn't have means, didn't have money. And also, let's not forget, there were many who have now evacuated to hotels whose money is short, their jobs are gone. This requires a massive undertaking by our government on behalf of our own citizens. These are not, Tim, refugees. Let's not refer to them as refugees. They're citizens. They're survivors.

MR. RUSSERT: Yeah. They're Americans.

MR. MORIAL: They're us.

MR. RUSSERT: David Wessel, let me ask you about the economic impact of all this. You work for The Wall Street Journal and have written about it. Louisiana's coast produces one-third of the country's seafood, one-fifth of the oil, one quarter of our natural gas, and the strip between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is the nation's largest port. What is going to be the fallout for the rest of the nation from this crisis?

MR. DAVID WESSEL: It's going to be big, Tim. Of course, at first--the first blush is it's a horrible tragedy for the people there and the economy. Rebuilding there is going to be just a massive undertaking, as the mayor said. But this is like having a heart attack and then having problems with your circulatory system. The United States' economy depends on oil and gas and refineries that are in this region. They've been damaged, and it's going to be a shock to the economy if those things don't come back soon.

MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe they will come back soon?

MR. WESSEL: I don't think we know yet. It's pretty clear that some of them are coming back as power is restored. We know that the pressure in the pipelines...


MR. WESSEL: ...for instance, that carry the fuel from the coast to the rest of the country, is being restored. But a number of these refineries and also oil drilling platforms have been damaged so severely that it'll probably be months before they come back. And that's why the rest of us are going to be feeling the impact of this, not only in our hearts but in our economic lives.

MR. RUSSERT: Gasoline prices will be very high for some time to come?

MR. WESSEL: That's right. The early signs are, since the end of last week, that the financial markets, which guess, which bet on future gasoline prices, are that the price is coming down a little bit; that is, that we'll have a spike for a few weeks and then it'll start to come down. But that could turn around quickly when the oil companies--if the oil companies tell us that the refineries are going to be out of commission for a long time.

MR. RUSSERT: Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert started a debate by saying, "Well, we have to think about whether or not New Orleans should be rebuilt in the way it is and where it is." He then put out several other statements saying, "What I meant to say is that it will be rebuilt, but it has to be rebuilt correctly." It follows up on what you've been saying, Mark and Mike, in terms of just what is there and what should be there. Do you believe that we have the wherewithal, the money, $14 billion, to rebuild New Orleans? And how long will it take to do that?

MR. FISCHETTI: I don't think it's a question of money. It's a question of will. Florida in 2000 started this--Congress approved, essentially, a $7 billion plan to refresh the Everglades, which is a very similar kind of project. It's freshwater; it's marsh lands. $7 billion in 2000. I don't think the dollar figure is the obstacle. It's the desire to do it.

MR. TIDWELL: I think there are a number of stories here. I mean, first of all, we need to, of course, address the humanitarian crisis. And beyond that, we got to start thinking about how--what we need to do to rebuild New Orleans. And that's going to take just restoration now for--to get the water of the Mississippi back toward the Barrier islands and the wetlands.

But the really final big story here is that the Bush administration is failing on another level to hear warning signs and take credible evidence that there's dire problems. The Bush administration itself--its own studies say that we will in this century turn every coastal city in America into a New Orleans. Why? Because we got three feet of subsidence, sinking,in south Louisiana in the 20th century because of the levees. Right now, because of global climate change, the Bush administration's own studies say we will get between one and three feet of sea level rise worldwide because of our use of fossil fuels.
{but if Jesus is coming, it won't matter. Bush talks to God remember?}

The big, big, big take-away message here is: New Orleans is the future of Miami, New York, San Diego, every coastal city in the world, because whether the land sinks three feet and you get a bowl in a hurricane like this, or sea level rises worldwide, same problem. We have got to address this energy problem that David mentioned. We have an irrational energy problem.

The way most Americans are going to feel this hurricane is at the gas pump and the energy. That's because this infrastructure is irrationally exposed to hurricanes. That's a problem big enough itself and shows how vulnerable we are to fossil fuels. Then you have the consequences of fossil fuels and greenhouse gases turning every city, coastal city in the world into a New Orleans. We've got to start thinking about a new energy future.

MR. RUSSERT: I also think we feel it in our hearts very, very deeply as we watch those pictures as well, as the gasoline pumps. And I can tell you by the reaction I've gotten from people all across the country. Mr. Mayor, do you believe that the people of New Orleans will come back to their city? With-- there are no housing. There are no jobs. Will they come back?

MR. MORIAL: New Orleans must be rebuilt. It must be rebuilt as the diverse cultural gumbo that it's always been. It must be rebuilt the right way. Mary Landrieu has had legislation for a coastal restoration initiative now pending in Congress for three years and has not been able to get it passed. What we need here is a reconstruction and resettlement czar, someone like Colin Powell, someone like Andrew Young, someone with broad credibility to lead the efforts to resettle people and provide the leadership for the reconstruction of New Orleans, Louisiana, and southern Mississippi.

MR. RUSSERT: That's all for today. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of Hurricane Katrina and the people of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana as they try to rebuild their lives and their homes.

And we leave you with these haunting images of this terrible week, set to the voice of a son of New Orleans, Aaron Neville. These faces, these eyes, these tears are forever seared into our hearts.

(Videotape, photos and footage of hurricane aftermath; audio of Neville song)

Well if you slogged it this far, you know that the focus just had to return to the economics of it. Does anybody really think all that prime real estate and resources will go back to those who actually lived there? This is the new diapsora. The people who lived there for generations are being dispersed all over the country. Notice the shift from "victim" to "refugee". In the American psyche the refugee is the Other, not good ol' us:

Texas to Airlift Katrina Refugees

AUSTIN — With nearly a quarter-million Katrina refugees already in Texas and more still pouring in, Gov. Rick Perry ordered emergency officials today to airlift some of them to other states that have offered help.
Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt said relief centers around the state are running out of room.

"There are shelters set up in other states that are sitting empty while thousands arrive in Texas by the day, if not the hour," Perry said. "We are doing everything we can to address the needs of evacuees as they arrive, but in order to meet this enormous need, we need help from other states."
Aid centers will be set up at airports in Houston and Dallas where incoming refugees can be given food, water and medical care before they are flown out. The governor's office said some of those flights could begin today.

The Texas National Guard will coordinate the air operation. Perry said American, Continental and Southwest Airlines, all of which are based in Texas, have agreed to help.
Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt said she she did not know how many refugees might ultimately end up in other states.

What else is there to say?

Blue Ibis