Thursday, September 29, 2005

What An Incredibly Odd Day

An attack of depression, a visit to the doctor interrupted by a cellphone call, a fairly tense afternoon, and a good swim in the evening. Yesterday was a truly odd day.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Wishing Well

So, just in case the well in our backyard is a wishing well, I tossed a penny in and wished that the yellowjackets would go away by next week.

I wanted to wish for world peace, but you'd have to have a really powerful wishing well for that, and this one... well, it's only ten feet deep. I'm not sure it's got that kind of power. And then I thought of wishing for all the folks who lost their homes in the hurricanes to get back on their feet quickly... but again, this is just a backyard well. I'm not sure how much good a wish like that would do. Then I thought I ought to wish for something for Eric and I, but all the wishes I came up with seemed too greedy (like wanting the mortgage to be paid off). So I decided to wish for something that would benefit the mighty missionaries in the incredibly unlikely event that it worked.

The penny made an interesting *plop* sound when it hit the bottom.

Mighty Mowing Missionaries

They seem determined to come over and wreak havoc with the vegetation running wild in the back yard. This week there were four of them again, complete with two machetes, a hand saw, and a pitchfork.

They were disappointed to discover that the bees' nest was still very much active and alive, even after last week's adventure with gasoline. I looked it up on the 'net, and it appears we have a yellowjacket nest. The only way to really get rid of the suckers is to completely cover their nest and smother them. Due to the location of the nest, I don't think that's really likely. I suggested that the missionaries work around them, which they mostly did today.

I bought some cookie dough for them, and made fresh warm cookies again. Again, they appreciated it. Fresh cookies and Gatorade.

The really frightening moments came when they decided to delimb some of the dead branches from the trees in the back. I started hearing these horrible CRASH noises, and ran out to see if First Aid was required. There was a missionary 30 feet up in one of the trees, sawing off any branch that looked dead. After a few minutes, I went back in and grabbed my camera, and got a couple of shots of another missionary in another tree:

The other three guys were pulling the branches he'd cut into another part of the yard, away from the yellowjacket's nest, which was almost directly under the tree he's standing in. Right after I took this picture, he sawed off the branch he was standing on. No, I'm not joking. At least in this tree he didn't go nearly as high as the other guy did in the first tree.

The pile of wood in the foreground was cut by the missionaries last week. I ought to start hauling it around the house and put it on the porch before the rains come. If we get our wood-burning stove checked and fixed again, we have plenty of wood to burn in it.

They definitely want to come by again and keep at the work. All of this from an offhand remark...

Happy Birthday Amanda!

Happy birthday to my niece Amanda, who is almost old enough to drive now... wowsa.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Football Season

We can hear the band at the football game down the hill. They are playing "Hey, Baby!" which we used to play back at Hazen when I was in the band. You would think they would get new songs twenty years later...

Eric says that the teams playing are Inglemoor and Woodinville. He knows this because he taught at Inglemoor today.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hurricane Thoughts

I've learned more about hurricanes in the last few weeks than I even expected to know, living in the Pacific Northwest. I've learned that hurricanes go through phases of weakening and strengthening, and that sometimes predictions about a hurricane's strength are useless because of those phases. I've learned what atmospheric pressure means in relation to the strength of a hurricane. And I've learned that some people actually believe that the Yakuza has a weather control device.

But mostly I've learned that it's impossible to get everyone away. I'm stunned by the fact that thousands of people in Houston simply cannot get out, as seen in this story. Some who have the means just can't get out because of the traffic. Nobody wants to be caught out in the storm in just their car or on foot, so they are actually turning back since the traffic isn't moving at all. After Katrina, everyone is taking Rita seriously, but even when they want to get away, they can't.

To anyone in the hurricane's path: Good luck and God bless. Stay strong. We're thinking of you.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Well, that was a disappointing evening

Hi, there, folks. Hubby-Eric here, finally with something to say. I was pretty excited about tonight, as Laura and I had tickets to a free preview screening of Corpse Bride, the new Tim Burton animated movie. But wouldn't you know, we both got the latest bug going around. I thought I might be able to make it, but I left the final decision to Laura, and she just wasn't up to it. Oh, well. I'm sure I'll get a chance to see it again some time (hey, it opens in theaters on Friday anyway). And to be honest, with the way we're both feeling right now, it may be just as well we didn't see it tonight.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Another Successful Cooking Experiment

I've mentioned before that I don't really cook. I have the tools, but not the practice, and I've made most of the mistakes it is possible to make.

Recently I subscribed to a couple of food newsletters. One from Food Network, and one from Kraft Foods. While 99% of the recipes they send me don't appeal to me, recently I saw one that I thought I might be able to manage, so I saved it. And last night, without telling Eric what I was making, I made it.

The recipe is for Sloppy Joe Mac, a strange combination of Sloppy Joes and Mac & Cheese. I was a little worried about the taste because some of the reviewers stated that the flavors didn't work for them. One even claimed to have thrown out the dish after a few bites! On the other hand, it appeared to fit our tastes pretty well, and it wasn't too much of a challenge to make. So I went for it...

Kraft Foods Sloppy Joe Mac

Ingredients: one pound ground beef, 1 package KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese Dinner, 2 cups water, BBQ sauce (about 1/2 cup), and 1 cup tomato sauce. Large skillet, non-stick, with lid. Optional: toppings like fresh lettuce, tomatoes, or shredded cheese.

Brown the beef then drain. Add the noodles, water, and BBQ sauce and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, turn the heat down to medium and cover. Simmer for about 8 minutes or until the mix thickens, stirring a couple of times. Remove the cover, add the cheese sauce mix and tomato sauce and stir until it's really well mixed. Serve immediately and top with any toppings you feel like (I used shredded cheese).

Leftovers need to be refrigerated. Makes about 4 adult-size servings. Kid-sizes may vary. Preparation time is about 20 minutes.

Update: Just had part of the leftovers for lunch today, and if anything it got better overnight. Yum. This recipe must be really bad for us, or it wouldn't taste so good. End Update

Goes best with some sort of veggie. I used corn this time, but I think carrots would work really well. It didn't really need any extra seasoning, but that will depend in part on what kind of BBQ sauce you use. Try not to use BBQ sauce that will clash with the cheese sauce too much. I don't have any good ideas for experimenting on it for next time... it turned out really well this time around.

Previous Recipes:
I'm putting my recipes on the blog mostly to keep a record of what has been successful for me. I'm not a daring cook, and I'm usually not willing to spend a lot of time in prepping food. But I actually kind of like cooking, and I'm always looking for something different to serve. The same four dishes week after week get tiring even for me. Add in the fact that I'm really a very picky eater, and finding recipes becomes an annoying chore. So having a record of other recipes is a good thing... and hey, this is the boring blog, so it fits right in!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Mighty Mowing Missionaries

They came again today, this time with a half-gallon jug of gasoline to pour on the bees' nest (no, they didn't light it). They cleared out a lot of vegetation in the time they were here, and also took down the "tree house" from the backyard.

When we moved into this house, in addition to the mysterious wellhouse, there was a platform up between two trees with a solid wooden ladder up to it. It was a tree house. My brother climbed up the ladder and checked it out, and pronounced it solid but slightly dangerous. When the missionaries first started work on the backyard a couple of weeks ago, one of them climbed up onto the platform and noted that some of the planks were rotting, and some of the nails no longer held, making it extremely dangerous. Thus, when they asked if they could take it down, I only had to think about it for a few seconds before agreeing.

And they had a LOT of fun taking it down, too. If you want to keep four 20-year old boys happy, give 'em something to destroy. They took turns chopping the beams down after they took turns whacking the supports until the thing finally fell. Luckily, it didn't fall on any of them, although one of them nearly managed to get the ladder on his head.

In addition to the missionaries, the visiting teachers came over. When they called, I mentioned that the missionaries were in our back yard, so they brought over some cookie dough. I cooked up a couple of batches of cookies for the missionaries and they had a nice lunch of cookies and gatorade. Warm cookies, fresh out of the oven, will also make missionaries happy.

The missionaries also uncovered a short stone stairway when they removed one of the rhododendron bushes. All four of the rhodies are way too close to the house and will have to go. They took out the biggest one first, and found it was covering the stairway up from the back walkway into the yard. Since the yard for part of the distance is about two feet up from the walkway, it's nice to have some steps instead of having to climb.

One of the visiting teachers noted the spiders that infest our house, and mentioned that spraying down the outside of the house with a 50% bleach to water solution will get rid of a large number of them. I will have to seriously consider that now, as the spiders are driving me slightly nuts. The missionaries also noted the spiders and started pointing to "large" ones, all of which were tiny compared to the big hunter spiders we get inside the house. One of the missionaries expressed a fear of spider bites, and I reassured him that there are no poisonous spiders native to this area, and no non-natives are likely to survive long in our climate, so he's pretty safe, all told. Of course, those reassurances never seem to work with me, so I doubt they calmed his nerves all that much.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


The M's have just guaranteed a better record this season than last season, with their 64th win. Last season the M's went 63-99, their fourth worst season ever.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Mighty Mowing Missionaries

They're here again. And they've just discovered a large bee/hornet/wasp nest in our backyard. I'm going to get the First Aid kit...

Update: One of them got stung, but not too bad. I decided to not get close enough to identify which flying insect is in the nest for sure. Two of the other missionaries are going door to door in the neighborhood... not preaching but asking the neighbors if they can borrow their yard waste bins. They seem to be having some success.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

More Hurricane Thoughts

Give to Operation USAGive to The Red Cross

Polite Scott describes helping victims of Katrina.

More benefits to help victims of the hurricane. And Bendis is auctioning off the first Powers cover as well.

A volunteer's story. Via Garrett.

A survivor's story. Via This Modern World.

Visiting New Orleans.

Helping out their guests.

Stories through e-mail.

An amazing slideshow of photos from NOLA before and after the hurricane. Watch this one all the way through, it's worth it for the perspective it gives.

The New Orleans talking blues. Via Making Light.

Boing Boing has a picture of Floodweiser.

Stuart Hughes directs us to a lesson about how to write captions for TV news.

The Seattle Weekly weighs in on the disaster.

The conspiracy theories have already started. The Museum of Hoaxes has one about Yakuza causing the hurricane.

Insurance companies might try to claim that damage in NOLA wasn't a hurricane to keep from paying out.

Aquarium survivors are airlifted.

Snopes takes on a neo-con talking point about the Katrina disaster.

Fafblog has do-it-yourself disaster remedies.

ExxonMobil made $10 billion this quarter. And people want the states to cut taxes on gasoline. How about the oil companies be punished for profiteering, instead? How much more money does the oil industry stand to make on the Katrina disaster? And, if you read the article, you'll see that Bush just gave ExxonMobil a tax break. Lovely. Bush just adds insult to injury. Via Mah Two Cents.

Good-bye, second amendment.

And forget about the first admendment, too. (ok, I admit, this is less a first admendment issue than a stupid bureaucracy issue, but the segue was to good to pass up).

The Red Cross wouldn't go into NOLA, and the people in the cityweren't allowed to leave. More here.

The Red Cross can't get into New Orleans, but mercenaries can.

Compassionate Conservative.

The folks of Southern Louisiana introduce themselves.

One of these men is not like the others.

The man who told Cheney to "Go Cheney himself" was detained. He had lost everything in the hurricane, and says he was only throwing Cheney's own words back at him. Via C&L.

And lastly: Those were the days. Via MetaFilter.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Good News, Bad News

Great news! Michael "there are people at the convention center?" Brown has been removed from duties relating to hurricane Katrina, and an experienced Coast Guard Vice Admiral has been put in charge instead!

Bad news... Brown hasn't been fired as director of FEMA (and there's another three storms lurking in the Atlantic) and this move should've been made over a week ago, when Vice Admiral Thad Allen's expertise could have saved hundreds of lives.

Still, it's a start. A very small start, but a start in the right direction nonetheless.

Give to Operation USAGive to The Red Cross

Thursday, September 08, 2005

More Hurricane Thoughts

Elayne has a list of heroes of New Orleans.

Comic Book Related Charity efforts. Also more information here. FilkerTom suggests Network for Good.

Harry Potter fans continue to raise money.

Dave lets us know about one church that has taken in refugees.*

Polite Scott is going to assist refugees. Thank you, Scott, and we can wait for the story dissections.

A great story (LA Times) about a Vietnamese Houston Mall owner who took in and helped refugees from NOLA. Thanks for the link, Garrett.

News about the Aquarium and Zoos.

Here is a very good timeline of events in the disaster.

A fascinating view of the Austin Convention Center from Jasmina Tesanovic. Read this one. It's uplifting in a great many ways.

$2000 won't go far, but it will help a lot right now.

Perhaps the absolute best news yet, Coast Guard's Chief of Staff To Assist FEMA (Washington Post). If Brown is smart, he'll give Allen control since the guy has actual credentials and knows how to help people in a disaster. Via Collective Sigh.

Give to Operation USAGive to The Red Cross

Medication for refugees. One reason people are having a really difficult time is because they don't have their medications with them, and going "cold turkey" can cause huge problems.

Truly Chilling, an account from Charmaine Neville of the events in NOLA. This is a video, but it's worth watching.

When did facts become opinion?

An EPA accounting of New Orleans.

Another FEMA screw-up: FEMA webpages only accessible via IE or installing special software on other browsers. If we had a leader in this country, the head of FEMA would already have been replaced.

Yet more FEMA stupidity. When did FEMA become so useless?

Navy pilots are reprimanded for rescuing people using helicopters specifically designed for rescue operations.

The Blame Game. And, why now is absolutely the best time to "play the blame game".

Check out Here's What Gets Me. And Garrett fumes.

Meanwhile, Bush doesn't think anything went wrong. That might be because newspapers in Bushworld have completely different stories than in the real world.

Here's what I don't blame Bush and FEMA for: I don't blame them for the hurricane, nor for the lack of evacuation plans (that was truly a local issue). I don't blame them for the deaths that happened during and immediately after the hurricane. I don't even blame them for the failure of the levees, unlike many others, because the problems with the levees started 40 years ago.

Here's what I do blame Bush and FEMA for: The lack of security in the city following the hurricane. The National Guard should have been in the city in force within 24 hours after the storm had passed. The city was accessible and everyone with a brain knew there was damage (a category 4 hurricane hit, you'd have to be a true moron to not realize the city needed the Guard immediately). The fact that no one evacuated the people left in the city for days after the hurricane (pre-hurricane=local problem, post-hurricane=FEMA's problem -- in short, once the disaster hit, the whole area was FEMA's responsibility by law). Any deaths that could have been prevented if the Guard entered the city in a timely manner are on Bush and FEMA's head. The fact that the levee wasn't being repaired soon after it broke is FEMA's fault and Bush's responsibility. The refusal to let the Red Cross into the city is FEMA's fault and Bush's responsibility.

How the DNC reacted to hurricane Katrina.

Wonkette found an example of FEMA moving very fast, indeed.

Don't forget the poor died all over.

I hope that this isn't true.

More timelines. These will eventually be crucial in determining what went wrong so we can prevent it from happening again.

The Daily Show's list of Bush Admin Disasters is truly one of the funniest things I've seen in these horrible recent days.

Making Light continues their excellent coverage of the hurricane with an article about how people were forced to stay in NOLA when there was no help available inside the city.

Slightly unrelated: Bush by the Numbers. Also, Chemo patients forced to reschedule because Bush was going to visit. If you know anything about chemo, you know rescheduling is a REALLY bad thing. Bush's visit may well have cost people their lives.

*A note regarding the word "refugees". I have heard it argued that the word is somehow racist. It isn't. It's a word about people taking refuge from something. In this case that something is the dangers of disease in NOLA. I've heard it argued that the word has negative connotations. Of course it does! It implies disaster of some sort. I've heard it argued that it implies poor black people. It doesn't to me. My first thought when I hear "refugee" is of Serbia. And so, I'll continue to use the word. If it offends you, I suggest you find something better to do with your time than read my blog.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Mostly Positive Hurricane Thoughts

Reposted from Bloggity

Jeff Parker is selling off artwork to help victims of Katrina. More info here.

Tom Spurgeon has a roundup of support projects. Be sure to check out Warren Craghead's offer.

Johnny B has a link to The Webcomic Hurricane Relief Telethon.

Harry Potter fans are ganging up to help the victims of Katrina.

John Ford reminds us of the symptoms of stress, symptoms which may mean we've been following the disaster too closely.

Here's a brilliant idea to help victims of Katrina: virtualize all the nonworking phone numbers in the stricken area. That way people can claim their numbers, set up voice mail, and be able to tell others they are all right.

Russell Shaw has another proposal on how to help victims of Hurricane Katrina recover from what is likely to be crushing debt.

A group of kids get together and raise $1710 to help victims of Katrina.

Three students from Duke University mounted a rescue operation of their own. Amazing. Simply incredible.

Geeks help re-establish communications.

Anne Rice on what it means to lose New Orleans (NY Times, Reg may be required). Via Kos.

The amazing story of Deamonte Love, age 6, and the children he protected. Via TalkLeft.

Stephen Fry on the smell of disaster.

Another list of charities. Also, check out Charity Navigator before you give to be sure your money is going to someone who will help.

Firstbook is donating books to children in the devastated areas. If you donate $5, they'll thrown in another book on top of it. Via bookslut.

Give to Operation USAGive to The Red Cross

Monday, September 05, 2005

Matthew 25:31-46, from The Holy Bible, King James version

31: When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

34: Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37: Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38: When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39: Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40: And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

41: Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44: Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45: Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

46: And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

I just think we all need the reminder, especially folks who consider themselves Christian, right now.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Hurricane Thoughts

Give to Operation USAGive to The Red Cross

I'm afraid this is going to be pretty political, because I can't divide the disaster from the people in leadership positions who made it so much worse by not doing their jobs.

Many more to be rescued. We know where they are. They've called for help. But no one goes to rescue them. They are desperate and dying.

Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. If you haven't seen this video, go find a clip and watch it now. All the way to the end.

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. . . 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.

Much much more here, here, here, here, and one post that explains what happened after Broussard was cut off.

FEMA is unable to make use of their resources, including a navy ship that's been waiting for orders... orders which have to come from FEMA. Criminal Negligence. Dereliction of Duty. The officals of FEMA should be tried for crimes against humanity.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff claimed that the disaster in New Orleans was unpredictable, and a surprise. Liar. National Geographic predicted it a year ago. Even worse, Chertoff HIMSELF was briefed with FEMA Director Mike Brown BEFORE THE HURRICANE EVEN MADE LANDFALL. And if that wasn't enough, FEMA has considered the scenerio for at least two years, and supposedly has been practicing for it. I say supposedly because they didn't show any sign at all of actually having prepared. I wonder where the taxpayer money has been going, since it's clear they haven't been using it to actually do their jobs. Criminal Negligence. Dereliction of Duty. The officals of FEMA and the DHS should be tried for crimes against humanity.

Bush had the utter gall to lie outright and claim that a state of emergency wasn't declared. Liar. Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babnieaux Blanco declared a state of emergency starting on Friday, Aug. 26, until Sunday, Sept. 25. She knew it would be bad. Everyone in the whole freaking world except Bush and his criminal cronies knew it would be bad.

Bush also made the argument that New Orleans was too difficult to reach for rescue operations. Oh, really? Liar. If The Hyatt could get emergency supplies in, why couldn't the government of the United States?!???

Pacific Views is quoting Bible verses.

False reports of looters scared off rescuers. There's plenty of blame to go around. The media has a huge debt to society to pay.

Indifference is a Weapon of Mass Destruction.

Senator Mary Landrieu has had enough.

Regular citizens have had enough.

Folks stuck in NOLA have had enough.

US Army Reserves members have had enough.

Rescue volunteers have had enough.

But compassionate conservatives show their hate, using the "n-word" to describe the hurricane victims.

Chertoff, in a transparent attempt to keep himself from going to prison for his dereliction of duty, says that now is not the time for pointing fingers. When is the time, then? After another few thousand have died because of their criminal negligence?

Ben Stein fails to defend Bush.

As if they haven't suffered enough, now schools won't want to take in refugee children because their schools will still be held to the stupid No Child Left Behind standards.

Give to Operation USAGive to The Red Cross

Reposted from Bloggity

If You Still Support Bush...

...then you must read this and watch the video (links here):
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.


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. . . 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.

Bush sat on his hands. He played guitar, ate cake, and IGNORED the disaster. He could have saved hundreds of lives by simply picking up his phone and saying "Get the National Guard in there, now." That's all he had to do. Nothing more. The absolute minimum. He didn't. He abandoned those people to die. He appointed complete incompetents to the head of FEMA and the DHS, just because they were his old drinking buddies. Then, when disaster struck, for the SECOND TIME in his presidency, he did nothing. NOTHING.

Five days. It took FIVE DAYS for help to arrive. We responded faster to the Tsunami. If you don't think the Iraq war is an impeachable offense, well, what about this? Blatant dereliction of duty and criminal negligence. You watch that video, then you tell me that Bush did everything in his power to help. You can't, because it's a lie. Bush did NOTHING. Indifference is a Weapon of Mass Destruction. And Bush has a whole lot of it.

Open Letter to Bush from the Times Picayune

link here:
We heard you loud and clear Friday when you visited our devastated city and the Gulf Coast and said, "What is not working, we're going to make it right."

Please forgive us if we wait to see proof of your promise before believing you. But we have good reason for our skepticism.

Bienville built New Orleans where he built it for one main reason: It's accessible. The city between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain was easy to reach in 1718.

How much easier it is to access in 2005 now that there are interstates and bridges, airports and helipads, cruise ships, barges, buses and diesel-powered trucks.

Despite the city's multiple points of entry, our nation's bureaucrats spent days after last week's hurricane wringing their hands, lamenting the fact that they could neither rescue the city's stranded victims nor bring them food, water and medical supplies.

Meanwhile there were journalists, including some who work for The Times-Picayune, going in and out of the city via the Crescent City Connection. On Thursday morning, that crew saw a caravan of 13 Wal-Mart tractor trailers headed into town to bring food, water and supplies to a dying city.

Television reporters were doing live reports from downtown New Orleans streets. Harry Connick Jr. brought in some aid Thursday, and his efforts were the focus of a "Today" show story Friday morning.

Yet, the people trained to protect our nation, the people whose job it is to quickly bring in aid were absent. Those who should have been deploying troops were singing a sad song about how our city was impossible to reach.

We're angry, Mr. President, and we'll be angry long after our beloved city and surrounding parishes have been pumped dry. Our people deserved rescuing. Many who could have been were not. That's to the government's shame.

Mayor Ray Nagin did the right thing Sunday when he allowed those with no other alternative to seek shelter from the storm inside the Louisiana Superdome. We still don't know what the death toll is, but one thing is certain: Had the Superdome not been opened, the city's death toll would have been higher. The toll may even have been exponentially higher.

It was clear to us by late morning Monday that many people inside the Superdome would not be returning home. It should have been clear to our government, Mr. President. So why weren't they evacuated out of the city immediately? We learned seven years ago, when Hurricane Georges threatened, that the Dome isn't suitable as a long-term shelter. So what did state and national officials think would happen to tens of thousands of people trapped inside with no air conditioning, overflowing toilets and dwindling amounts of food, water and other essentials?

State Rep. Karen Carter was right Friday when she said the city didn't have but two urgent needs: "Buses! And gas!" Every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be fired, Director Michael Brown especially.

In a nationally televised interview Thursday night, he said his agency hadn't known until that day that thousands of storm victims were stranded at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. He gave another nationally televised interview the next morning and said, "We've provided food to the people at the Convention Center so that they've gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day."

Lies don't get more bald-faced than that, Mr. President.

Yet, when you met with Mr. Brown Friday morning, you told him, "You're doing a heck of a job."

That's unbelievable.

There were thousands of people at the Convention Center because the riverfront is high ground. The fact that so many people had reached there on foot is proof that rescue vehicles could have gotten there, too.

We, who are from New Orleans, are no less American than those who live on the Great Plains or along the Atlantic Seaboard. We're no less important than those from the Pacific Northwest or Appalachia. Our people deserved to be rescued.

No expense should have been spared. No excuses should have been voiced. Especially not one as preposterous as the claim that New Orleans couldn't be reached.

Mr. President, we sincerely hope you fulfill your promise to make our beloved communities work right once again.

When you do, we will be the first to applaud.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

New Orleans

I've been blogging quite a bit over on Bloggity about the hurricane. This is a sample of what I've been posting.

Give to Operation USAGive to The Red Cross

How to get a temporary job in disaster relief. I think I want to take those courses anyway, just to be ready. If the hurricane has taught us anything, it's that we need to be ready for disaster and have a week's worth of food and water available.

Speaking of being ready, here's a list of items to put in emergency kits, and advice on how to maintain those kits. Maybe we should start working on one ourselves. Via Garrett.

Boing Boing links to an essay on being poor. I recognize a few of those, enough to know that I have tasted poverty, but never really been poor.

This is the face of a hero.

Eighteen-year-old Jabbor Gibson commandeered an abandoned school bus and took 100 people out of New Orleans to the Astrodome in Houston. He deserves honor. He might get jail for "stealing" the bus. "I dont care if I get blamed for it," Gibson said, "as long as I saved my people." He did what the National Guard didn't do: he didn't wait for orders, but went out and saved lives. He's a hero. God bless this man and give him the honor and praise he deserves. Via Boing Boing.

Wired directs us to a "Wiki" Map that allows people to describe the devastation in New Orleans by location.

Danger, Politics Ahead

CNN compares and contrasts the reactions of people on the ground in New Orleans to the utterly incompetent Michael Brown, head of FEMA and criminally negligent. If Brown doesn't serve prison time for this, there is no justice in the world.

Speaking of incompetence, MetaFilter has more on the people responsible for the failure of rescue efforts, and a roundup of FEMA/DHS's imcompetence leading to the crippling of relief efforts. You would think, from the links, that FEMA/DHS wants everyone left in NOLA to die.

We know who is at fault. From their own website: "In the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency, the Department of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility". Everyone in leadership positions at DHS and FEMA should be charged with criminal negligance and thrown in prison, preferably one that's still filled with dirty water from the hurricane, and left to rot. They didn't even make the most basic effort to help until it was too late for far too many, and their refusal to give the orders to let others help directly contributed to the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of people. We had Americans on the ground helping recover from the Tsunami half a world away faster than we got help into New Orleans.

And now the [censored] in charge of "Homeland Security" are keeping people in the city AT GUNPOINT. They won't let the Red Cross in, and they refuse to let the people out!

And apparently our government is at war with the citizens of New Orleans, as they are now calling them "the insurgency". That would explain why Michael Chertoff and DHS are so determined to make sure they die. Via Warren Ellis.

The cops are turning away volunteers and donations at the Astrodome, even though they are desperately needed. What idiot is in charge down there?!???

Kos is hopeful about bipartisan investigations into the relief effort failures, but Billmon is sarcastically skeptical. I also have doubts that the [censored] responsible will ever be punished. Criminal negligence, and Bush will be handing out medals to all of them.

Billmon points out the reaction of FEMA to the hurricanes that hit Florida last year, before the election, was completely different than the reaction to the hurricanes this year. Oddly enough, the major relief efforts didn't start in NOLA until Bush came down for a photo op.

If you haven't seen the clip this MetaFilter thread links to, of Geraldo Rivera and Shep Smith screaming the truth at the talking heads on the FOX news network, then you need to go check it out. I can't stand Rivera, but this is one of those rare times he's worth watching.

Over at Kos, Hunter rants and describes this disaster as what it is: Unforgivable.

A howl of outrage at the incompetence of the rescue efforts, while BBC News' Matt Wells tells it like it is. As does Steve Gilliard.

Dave also rants, and includes a picture of those school buses that should have been used before the hurricane hit to evacuate people who didn't have cars and couldn't get out on their own.

I can't go on. I'm sounding shrill even to myself. But I cannot express my fury at the people who sat on their hands or played politics with red tape while people were drowning and starving in New Orleans and elsewhere in the hurricane's path. I can't even begin to articulate the rage that's building inside of me. The actions of the government during this disaster are truly unforgivable.

End politics

And lastly, give:

Give to Operation USAGive to The Red Cross