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Thursday NYT editorial blasts Bush

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George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast. He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end....

Sacrifices may be necessary to make sure that all these things happen in an orderly, efficient way. But this administration has never been one to counsel sacrifice. And nothing about the president's demeanor yesterday - which seemed casual to the point of carelessness - suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis.

While our attention must now be on the Gulf Coast's most immediate needs, the nation will soon ask why New Orleans's levees remained so inadequate. Publications from the local newspaper to National Geographic have fulminated about the bad state of flood protection in this beloved city, which is below sea level. Why were developers permitted to destroy wetlands and barrier islands that could have held back the hurricane's surge? Why was Congress, before it wandered off to vacation, engaged in slashing the budget for correcting some of the gaping holes in the area's flood protection?

It would be some comfort to think that, as Mr. Bush cheerily announced, America "will be a stronger place" for enduring this crisis. Complacency will no longer suffice, especially if experts are right in warning that global warming may increase the intensity of future hurricanes. But since this administration won't acknowledge that global warming exists, the chances of leadership seem minimal.
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10 US airports in danger of being shut down because of fuel crisis, including Washington Dulles and Atlanta

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Airlines and oil companies are working on plans to supply jet fuel to at least ten U.S. airports that could be shut down due to a lack of jet fuel caused by refinery and pipeline shutdowns from hurricane Katrina. The airports in most jeopardy for closure include Atlanta, Charlotte, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers, Orlando, Tampa, Washington Dulles and West Palm Beach.

AAG has learned that ChevronTexaco and Shell had cargoes loaded prior to the shutdowns destined for Florida ports. However, with the Colonial and Plantation pipelines shutdown due to a lost of power it could be sometime for shipments to reach airports from Atlanta to Washington D.C.
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Air Force personnel in Mississippi playing basketball today while people were dying

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From Editor & Publisher. The Biloxi paper rips Bush, the Air Force, and more.
While the flow of information is frustratingly difficult, our reporters have yet to find evidence of a coordinated approach to relieve pain and hunger or to secure property and maintain order.

People are hurting and people are being vandalized.

Yet where is the National Guard, why hasn't every able-bodied member of the armed forces in South Mississippi been pressed into service?

On Wednesday reporters listening to horrific stories of death and survival at the Biloxi Junior High School shelter looked north across Irish Hill Road and saw Air Force personnel playing basketball and performing calisthenics.

Playing basketball and performing calisthenics!

When asked why these young men were not being used to help in the recovery effort, our reporters were told that it would be pointless to send military personnel down to the beach to pick up debris.

Litter is the least of our problems. We need the president to back up his declaration of a disaster with a declaration of every man and woman under his command will do whatever is necessary to deal with that disaster.
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Jeff. Parish President Bonano: It took too long

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On CNN with Aaron Brown:
"I think it took longer to the National Guard's armed troops in. The national guard was here very early with equipment and manpower, engineering batalltions, etc. to help us restore our infrastructure. What's taken longer is getting the actual armed troops and that may be a result that most of our armed troops, most of our armed troops, a lot of our armed reserves are in Iraq. I don't know if they have the troops to send us."
Speaks for itself.
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FEMA director now says he knew Monday morning that hurricane disaster was growing

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FEMA director Michael Brown just said this on CNN to Aaron Brown:
I just knew in my gut in my heart Monday morning that this thing would continue to grow even after it made landfall and continued to move in to the Ohio and Tennessee valleys. Unfortunately I was right.
So, Monday morning FEMA's director knew that thing was going to be huge and was getting worse by the minute. So then why did George Bush spend the next 48 hours remaining on vacation? Read the rest of this post...

CNN: Communications failures cause fleeing

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CNN's Chris Lawrence reporting on Aaron Brown, reports of people streaming out of the Superdome, entire families just trying to walk out of the city in fear. Reports of a dead body in the Superdome, several women raped. There is no visible police presence on the ground. He reported a police officer saying "we don't need police here, this needs to be a military action right now", the officer said that the situation was more than the police could take on.

We're in day 3 Mr. President, and it's getting worse. And you go on television today and say you're about to BEGIN WORK?

Pathetic failed President and Presidency.
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Did the FEMA director just lie to Larry King in order to save Bush's ass?

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Michael Brown, Bush's director of FEMA, just said the following to Larry King, in an effort to explain why the federal emergency response is going so slow:
"I must say, this storm is much much bigger than anyone expected."
Okay, that's an outright lie. This storm was predicted to be a major category 5 hurricane with 175 mile per hour winds. From everything I read, it actually slowed down before it hit New Orleans, and it went somewhat to the east of the city (it was expected to hit New Orleans dead on), and by going east it spared New Orleans the full brunt of the storm. So what Brown just said, the storm was much bigger than anyone expected, is an outright lie. The storm was, in fact, a tad smaller than expected, and in the case of New Orleans, the storm didn't hit nearly as hard as they thought. Read the rest of this post...

New Orleans cops ordered to abandon search and rescue and focus instead on looters

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Ok, how bad is it getting when the cops are ordered to forget trying to save people who are dying and instead focus on criminals? Actually, read the article, it's gotten THAT bad in New Orleans. Sounds like Baghdad, on a good day. Glad we have the National Guard in place ready to help. Oh yeah, they're in Baghdad.
Mayor Ray Nagin ordered 1,500 police officers to leave their search-and-rescue mission Wednesday night and return to the streets to stop looting that has turned increasingly hostile as the city plunges deeper into chaos....

Managers at a nursing home were prepared to cope with the power outages and had enough food for days, but then the looting began. The home's bus driver was forced to surrender the vehicle to carjackers.

Bands of people drove by the nursing home, shouting to residents, "Get out!" Eighty residents, most of them in wheelchairs, were being evacuated to other nursing homes in the state.

"We had enough food for 10 days," said Peggy Hoffman, the home's executive director. "Now we'll have to equip our department heads with guns and teach them how to shoot."....

New Orleans' homeland security chief, Terry Ebbert, said looters were breaking into stores all over town and stealing guns. He said there are gangs of armed men moving around the city. At one point, officers stranded on the roof of a hotel were fired at by criminals on the street.
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West Virginia county police will run out of gas by Friday

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The reverberations of this just keep growing. Police without gas can't keep you safe:
The Transit Authority in Huntington, which supplies fuel to its fleet of buses, ambulances for Cabell County Emergency Services and to the Cabell County Sheriff's Department, only has enough gasoline for police cruisers until Friday, Vickie Shaffer, TTA general manager, told The Herald-Dispatch for Wednesday's edition.
What else are you folks hearing? Read the rest of this post...

Evening Open Thread

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I'm still watching reports on WWL. It isn't getting any better, people are overwhelmed, out of water, food, and there are probably still "thousands" either on their roof or trapped in their homes.

Discuss. Read the rest of this post...

South Carolina running out of gas too

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So how's that president working out for you, red staters? Read the rest of this post...

North Carolina gas stations running dry

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A gas shortage that closed some stations and caused lines at others could last through the Labor Day weekend and beyond, Asheville city and Buncombe County officials warned at a press conference this afternoon.

It could take six days for fuel to flow as normal from the Gulf of Mexico, officials said.

Of the county’s nearly 100 gas stations, more than 20 have run dry.
And my friend Sean just called from North Carolina. He is terrified at what he's seeing. There are lines, long lines down the block, at every gas station. The local news just reported that there is no more gas coming, the stations have what they're gonna get, until next Tuesday - the supply line is gone.

This is turning into a nationwide disaster. I'm so glad Bush finally decided to return from vacation at 3pm TODAY. I hope someone made him walk all the way. Read the rest of this post...

Newsweek blasts Bush's non-response to hurricane

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Uh oh, someone in the media is doing their job...
Beyond the poll numbers, the Bush administration faces some immediate, urgent challenges—and serious questions about its response to the disaster. For all the president's statements ahead of the hurricane, the region seemed woefully unprepared for the flooding of New Orleans—a catastrophe that has long been predicted by experts and politicians alike. There seems to have been no contingency planning for a total evacuation of the city, including the final refuges of the city's Superdome and its hospitals. There were no supplies of food and water ready offshore—on Navy ships for instance—in the event of such flooding, even though government officials knew there were thousands of people stranded inside the sweltering and powerless city.

Then there's the speed of the Bush administration's response to such disasters. Just one week ago the White House declared that a major disaster existed in Louisiana, specifically most of the areas (such as Jefferson Parish) that are now under water. Was the White House psychic about the disaster ahead? Not exactly. In fact the major disaster referred to Tropical Storm Cindy, which struck the state a full seven weeks earlier. That announcement triggered federal aid for the stricken areas, where the clean-up had been on hold for almost two months while the White House chewed things over.

Now, faced with a far bigger and deadlier disaster, the Bush administration faces at least two difficult questions: Was it ready to deal with the long-predicted flooding of New Orleans? And is it ready to deal with the long-predicted terrorist attack that might some day strike another of our big cities?"
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Bush Speaks...finally...He's really worried about gas and oil

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Did anyone watch the President? Exhibit A as to why the Government is overwhelmed. First, he recited a list of the facts about the he had just learned them himself. But, hey, he saw the devastation....he asked the pilot of Air Force One to fly over the gulf coast. He asked that himself, he told us. And he was devastated.

The one thing that caught my attention was the emphasis he placed on the problems the oil companies are having. The AP caught that, too:
President Bush is warning Americans about the nation's gasoline supply, saying everyone must understand that Hurricane Katrina has had a significant effect.

Speaking at a White House news conference, the president stressed that Katrina has disrupted America's ability to both make and distribute gasoline.

To try to ease the problem, Bush says the Environmental Protection Agency has granted a nationwide waiver for fuel blends. He says that will make more gas available and take some pressure off skyrocketing prices.
What's he trying to tell us? He should be challenging the oil industry not to gouge...and not to screw with the American people. He should, but he won't.

This gas thing is going to get really ugly...really, really ugly. And Bush's pals in the industry better not be reaping windfalls. Read the rest of this post...

CNN Reporter Blog: Government Overwhelmed

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Just a brief snippet from the CNN reporters "blog". Read it, it's terrifying and saddening:
People are carrying their children, trying to get them to safety. A woman coming down to the police, close to hysterics, saying, "My elderly mother is in a building over there, she needs dialysis. She can't get it. She is dying. Can you help me?"

And the police had to say, "There is absolutely nothing we can do. We don't have a precinct house. We don't have communication. There is absolutely nothing we can do for you."

That was amazing to me.

The other thing that struck me was the looting. The police were standing in the middle of the street and right in front of them stores were being ransacked. And they didn't even make an effort to stop it. I don't think they could, under the circumstances.

They were totally outnumbered. They couldn't call for any reinforcements. And frankly, the priority now isn't property. The priority has to be people and people's lives. The police are there protectively, I think, in case things escalate even further. But they are powerless. They're powerless in this situation.
Why is it George Bush, both in Iraq and here, can't seem to figure out that he ALWAYS misunderestimates what it takes to get the job done. Too few troops in Iraq, too few here. People die as a result of your decisions Mr. President. I wish you cared about that, but clearly you don't.
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"Most likely, thousands" may be dead

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The numbers of dead are going to be astounding:
The mayor said Wednesday that Katrina probably killed thousands of people in New Orleans - an estimate that, if accurate, would make the storm by far the nation's deadliest hurricane in more than a century.

``We know there is a significant number of dead bodies in the water,'' and other people dead in attics, Mayor Ray Nagin said. Asked how many, he said: ``Minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands.''
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CNN's Cafferty raises more questions...

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CNN's Jack Cafferty is clearly not drinking the Kool-Aid. Good for him. This is what he just said on CNN:
You wonder, given the notice that we had, that this thing was out there and it was getting to be just as deadly and nasty as they're capable of being, you wonder if more could have been done, should have been done to prepare, to evacuate, to do some contingency planning... You wonder with almost a week's notice from the time this thing crossed the Florida peninsula if enough was done to protect the people in the path of this storm.
Yes, we do wonder. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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So much news today. Time for an open thread. Read the rest of this post...

Religious right group, heralded by top religious right leaders, says God destroyed New Orleans because of gays

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Oh yes.

And lest anyone write this off as the musings of fringe nutjobs, this group is hardly Fred Phelps.

This is a group that has been defended by scores of lead religious right organizations in just the past year, including the Southern Baptist Convention, Center for Reclaiming America (attached to D. James Kennedy), the American Family Association's AgapePress, WorldNetDaily, the men over at the Concerned Women for America, Lou Sheldon's Traditional Values Coaltion, the freepers, and more.

Here's what this darling of the religious right had to say about New Orleans:
An evangelical Christian group that regularly demonstrates at LGBT events is blaming gays for hurricane Katrina.

Repent America says that God "destroyed" New Orleans because of Southern Decadence, the gay festival that was to have taken place in the city over the Labor Day weekend.
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Who needs Scott McClellan when you have the AP

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From today's AP:
The president decided he should be in the nation's capital given the magnitude of destruction and death caused by Katrina, one of the most severe storms to ever hit the United States.
Yeah, AP, he decided on the third day of the disaster, a good 5-7 days after the disaster was predicted, that he should be in the nation's capital and you write it as though he's a hero.

The obvious question any reporter worth his salt would ask, and put in the story, is if the president decided he should be in the nation's capital given the magnitude of the destruction and death, then why didn't he return on Sunday or Saturday when we thought the destruction would be even greater (remember, they expected an even BIGGER hurricane to have hit New Orleans DIRECTLY, and it didn't)?

Why didn't Bush return on Monday or Tuesday when we already knew the level of the destruction?

You don't just report the man coming back 3 days late and act as though he's really early and doing a good thing. Read the rest of this post...

Manchester Union Leader: "Bush and Katrina: A time for action, not aloofness"

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That title is from an editorial today in the super-conservative super-Republican Manchester Union Leader.

It's now time for an AMERICAblog na na na na na to all the Democratic politicians in DC who haven't said boo about Bush's MIA status over the past 3 days. Guess we were right and you were wrong. I'm so glad that you're receiving millions and we receive, oh, chump change for our respective work.
AS THE EXTENT of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation became clearer on Tuesday — millions without power, tens of thousands homeless, a death toll unknowable because rescue crews can’t reach some regions — President Bush carried on with his plans to speak in San Diego, as if nothing important had happened the day before.

Katrina already is measured as one of the worst storms in American history. And yet, President Bush decided that his plans to commemorate the 60th anniversary of VJ Day with a speech were more pressing than responding to the carnage.

A better leader would have flown straight to the disaster zone and announced the immediate mobilization of every available resource to rescue the stranded, find and bury the dead, and keep the survivors fed, clothed, sheltered and free of disease.

The cool, confident, intuitive leadership Bush exhibited in his first term, particularly in the months immediately following Sept. 11, 2001, has vanished. In its place is a diffident detachment unsuitable for the leader of a nation facing war, natural disaster and economic uncertainty.

Wherever the old George W. Bush went, we sure wish we had him back.
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New Orleans & Parish Hospitals Out of Supplies

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Watching the hospital briefing right now on WWL. State office of emergency management is reporting that the hospitals are out of supplies, generators have been flooded, temporary generators installed but they are now out of fuel. Full evacuations of many hospitals underway. There are some hospitals in other parishes that they still have not been able to make ANY contact with. We have thousands of people who are getting ill. They aren't sick in hospitals already, but they are going to get sick.

Not enough fuel? A hospital no one has even been able to CONTACT? I certainly know that the military knows how to move fuel in a desert, and any reason why they can't seem to get it together to help drowning and dying Americans?
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Cmdr. of US Northern Command tells CNN "if and when the president decides to step it up" he will act

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If and when? IF AND WHEN?

We've known about this approaching disaster for well over 5 days, we've had the disaster for well over 2 days, and the commander of the US Northern Command, an Admiral no less, is talking about "if and when" the president decides to step up his response to the hurricane?


Of course, Bush did only just get off Air Force One in DC, carrying his dog, no less, so I'm sure he's still in vacation mode. You know how it is. Funny it took him 8 hours to fly from Texas to DC, since he's only arriving here at 3pm EST. Even with the detour over New Orleans, it shouldn't have taken a jet 8 hours to fly from Texas to DC. (I say 8 hours because I assume, in the face of such a horrific crisis, the president immediately got on his plane this morning at 8am and flew back to DC.) Unless of course Bush delayed his vacation even more this morning.

This is Adm. Timothy Keating on CNN right now:
As you know, as you just said, initially, principally a local law enfrocement effort. If and when the president decides to step it up and use active duty forces, we will be, and it would be at almost certainly the request of the governor of Louisiana or Missippi... we would be able to respond with any number of options.
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Bush should demand that his oil buddies stop gouging the American consumer by raising prices after Hurricane Katrina

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Gas prices are soaring as Bush's oil buddies now gouge the American consumer with record high prices. Why are they raising prices now? Is the supply threatened? No one is claiming that. Sure, they're giving us all this bull about production being down blah blah blah, and I'm sure that fact is true, but has anyone told us that there isn't enough gas? No. Has anyone told us that the oil companies are losing money after Katrina and thus need to raise prices to compensate? No. The oil companies simply raised prices so they could make more money off of us and make more money off of the tragedy in the south.

Call it the oil companies' own little death tax.

President Bush ought to call on the oil companies to stop the price gouging, lower their prices to pre-Katrina levels, and donate the windfall they've already earned off of the dead to the relief effort.

Perhaps some enterprising Democrat will even demand this.

Perhaps. Read the rest of this post...

New Orleans "in chaos"

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A million people fled the New Orleans area before Katrina arrived. But former Mayor Sidney Barthelemy estimated 80,000 were trapped in the flooded city and urged President Bush to send more troops.

"We have to send the army to stop this or we will lose New Orleans and we will lose 80,000 people," Barthelemy told CNN. "If we can spend the monies that we are spending to help the people in Iraq, then we can do the same thing for New Orleans."
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Out of food and water for evacuees in New Orleans

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Well, I'm sure those evacuees will be glad to know that while they face possible starvation, at least Saddam Hussein is no longer in power and President Bush today took a whole 2 days off of his 35 day vacation to focus like a laser beam on a disaster that we were all focusing on 5 days ago.
We have no food or water for the evacuees. Says emergency workers have seized the food and water and drinks from Sam's Club, Wal-Mart and other groceries for evacuees, but he said that is all gone. Says water supply is gone. More water expected, but its not there right now. Says evacuees are getting upset and harried.

"Director Walter Maestri: FEMA and national agencies not delivering the help nearly as fast as it is needed.

"Director Walter Maestri: Evacuees from New Orleans and the east bank of Jefferson are flocking to the west bank, overwhelming the facilities. "

It also reports: "Roving bands of looters are breaking into stores in Carrollton area to get food and supplies. They've also stolen guns and armed themselves."

The Times-Picayune noted that Maestri made the above comments "tearfully," pleading for help.
And Rob notes:

The Governor was just on the WWL feed and said that there has been massive communications failures. They have satellite phones which can call Washington, but can't call Baton Rouge.

It's just a complete breakdown of emergency management - a complete federal failure. Watch the WWL TV feed to hear more.
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Bush devoted only 5% of his speech in California to the hurricane disaster happening as he spoke

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This is a long post. Intentionally so. I want you to see HOW MUCH TIME Bush devoted to issues NOT DEALING with the hurricane over the past few days.

As you know, while New Orleans was sinking over the past two days, President Bush went on vacation to Arizona and California. In California Bush devoted the day to, not the hurricane, but instead to lying about a link between the war in Iraq and WWII. So I pulled up Bush's speech from Monday to take a look at how much of that speech he devoted to the hurricane that was in the process of destroying several US states as he was speaking.

What I found was that Bush devoted 185 out of 3,800 words to the hurricane. That's almost 5%. Gives you a sense of how much time he was spending on the hurricane versus vacation and political issues.

And so you can get a sense of how many that is - or isn't - here's the entire speech. Note how much Bush devotes to the crisis that's happening at the same time (hurricane paragraphs, all 2 of them, are in bold).
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Thanks for the warm welcome. It's good to be back in California. Good to be here at North Island. This is the birthplace of naval aviation, and I want to thank you for making this son of a naval aviator feel right at home. (Applause.)


This morning our hearts and prayers are with our fellow citizens along the Gulf Coast who have suffered so much from Hurricane Katrina. These are trying times for the people of these communities. We know that many are anxious to return to their homes. It's not possible at this moment. Right now our priority is on saving lives, and we are still in the midst of search and rescue operations. I urge everyone in the affected areas to continue to follow instructions from state and local authorities.

The federal, state and local governments are working side-by-side to do all we can to help people get back on their feet, and we have got a lot of work to do. Our teams and equipment are in place and we're beginning to move in the help that people need. Americans who wish to help can call 1-800-HELPNOW, or log on to, or get in touch with the Salvation Army. The good folks in Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama and other affected areas are going to need the help and compassion and prayers of our fellow citizens.


As we deliver relief to our citizens to the south, our troops are defending all our citizens from threats abroad. In the war on terror, all of you gathered here today are playing a critical role. Our naval aviators are displaying their fantastic skill in bringing justice to our enemies. Our sailors on Navy ships are patrolling the high seas. You're maintaining those ships and keeping them ready for battle. You're serving on special operations teams that are hunting the Taliban and al Qaeda fighters in the mountains of Afghanistan. And our Marine units are bringing the terrorists to justice in Iraq.

However you are serving, each of you is defending our nation and bringing honor to the uniform, and your Commander-in-Chief, and your country is proud of your service. (Applause.)

I'm also proud to stand with those whose achievements we commemorate today, the military veterans of World War II. (Applause.) In war, America called you from your farms and your schools and your factories to defeat two of the most ruthless armies the world has known. In victory, America counted on you to extend a helping hand, to lift up a defeated foe. And in a lasting peace that has been your greatest legacy, America confirmed the power of freedom to transform the bitterest of enemies into the closest of friends.

Your victory came at great cost. And many of the heroes who fought by your side would not live to make the return journey home. More than 400,000 Americans gave their lives in that war, and some of them are buried a few miles from here at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. At a funeral sermon delivered after a battle that had taken the lives of thousands of Americans, a rabbi said, "Out of this, and from this suffering and sorrow of those who mourn this, will come, we promise, the birth of a new freedom for the sons of men everywhere."

President George W. Bush speaks during a ceremony to commemorate the 60th anniversary of V-J Day at the Naval Air Station in San Diego, Calif., August 30, 2005. White House photo by Paul Morse Today, your hair is whitened. Your steps have slowed. Yet you have seen in your lifetime the rabbi's promise come true. The freedom that was born of your sacrifice has lifted millions of God's children across the Earth. This freedom is your monument to your fallen friends, your gift to their children and grandchildren, and your sacred bond with generations of patriots past and present who have worn the nation's uniform.

As we look into your faces, we see the same quiet resolve that defeated our enemies. And we count it a privilege to be the citizens of the country that you served. We pray that your comrades you have lost found peace with their Creator, and we honor your sacrifice by recommitting ourselves to the great ideals for which you fought and bled.

I'm honored today to be traveling with the First Lady of the United States, Laura Bush. (Applause.) I want to thank Admiral Zortman, the Commander of the Naval Air Force U.S. Pacific Fleet, for his introduction. And thank you for your service, Admiral.

I'm proud to be here today with a man who is doing an excellent job for the United States military, the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. (Applause.) On V-J Day in 1945, Secretary Rumsfeld was selling newspapers at the Coronado Ferry, Coronado, California. He went on to be a Navy pilot. And today, he's a trusted advisor in my Cabinet. Mr. Secretary, proud to have you here. (Applause.)

I want to thank the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Duncan Hunter. Congressman Hunter is with us today. (Applause.) Congressman Duncan Hunter is, today, here with his dad, Robert Hunter, who served in World War II. And he has a son who is a proud Marine in Iraq. (Applause.)

I want to thank Secretary Tom Johnson of the California Department of Veteran Affairs. I want to thank Mayor Tom Smisek and his wife, Peggy. He's the mayor of Coronado. I appreciate you, Mr. Mayor. I want to thank Vice Admiral Barry Costello, Rear Admiral Mike Miller, Read Admiral Len Hering, Captain Tim Alexander. I want to thank Command Master Chief Mick Fulton, Chief Petty Officer Swisher. I want to thank all the men and women who wear the uniform for greeting us today. (Applause.)

Laura Bush listens to President George W. Bush speak during a ceremony to commemorate the 60th anniversary of V-J Day at the Naval Air Station in San Diego, Calif., August 30, 2005. White House photo by Paul Morse We're proud to be in the company of Medal of Honor recipients -- Robert Modrzejewski, Jay Vargas, Red Millett, John Finn, John McGinty. Thank you for coming. Thank you for your courage. (Applause.)

Finally, I want to thank Sybil Stockdale, the wife of Admiral James Stockdale, for being with us today. (Applause.)

Sixty years ago this Friday, General Douglas MacArthur accepted the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. With Japan's surrender, the last of our enemies in World War II was defeated, and a World War that began for America in the Pacific came to an end in the Pacific. As we mark this anniversary, we are again a nation at war. Once again, war came to our shores with a surprise attack that killed thousands in cold blood. Once again, we face determined enemies who follow a ruthless ideology that despises everything America stands for. Once again, America and our allies are waging a global campaign with forces deployed on virtually every continent. And once again, we will not rest until victory is America's and our freedom is secure. (Applause.)

In the midst of this struggle, we have confidence in our cause because we know that America has faced down brutal enemies before. We have confidence in our cause because we've seen the power of freedom to overcome the darkness of tyranny and terror. And we have confidence in our cause because we know the character and courage of those who wear the uniform of the United States military. (Applause.)

Fifty years ago we saw that character and that courage in men such as Leon Stone, who was a young Navy sailor aboard the battleship West Virginia, supporting the Marines at Iwo Jima. We saw that courage in men such as Jim Simpson, who was one of those Marines. They didn't know each other, but they came together to fight for America's security. They came together to join a mighty force that defeated the Japanese empire. Jim Simpson and Leon Stone did finally meet one day when Leon's son and Jim's daughter got married.

And today, their grandson, Captain Randy Stone, carries on a proud family tradition. Captain Stone is a Marine officer now serving in Iraq. He knows that he and his generation are doing the same vital work in this war on terror that his grandparents did in World War II. He also knows how this struggle will end. Randy says, "I know we will win because I see it in the eyes of the Marines every morning. In their eyes is the sparkle of victory." (Applause.)

President George W. Bush greets a veteran after delivering remarks to commemorate the 60th anniversary of V-J Day at the Naval Air Station in San Diego, Calif., August 30, 2005. White House photo by Paul Morse Captain Stone proudly wears the uniform just as his grandfathers did at Iwo Jima. He's guided by the same convictions they carried into battle. He shares the same willingness to serve a cause greater than himself. Many of you grew up with dads and granddads who have similar stories about their World War II service. They're the modest sons of a peaceful country. And a grateful nation thanks them for their sacrifice that preserved our freedom and our way of life. (Applause.)

The men and women who served in World War II belonged to a generation that kept its faith even when liberty's ultimate triumph was far from clear. When America was attacked at Pearl Harbor, our country was just emerging from a depression. More than half a dozen nations had large armies than we did. In Asia and Europe, country after country had fallen before the disciplined armies of the militaristic regimes. These events led many to conclude that freedom had seen its day, and that the future belonged to the hard men in Berlin and Tokyo.

Franklin Roosevelt refused to accept that democracy was finished. His optimism reflected his belief that the enemy's will to power could not withstand our will to live in freedom. He told the American people that our liberty depended on the success of liberty in other lands. And he called on Americans to defend that liberty, and millions answered the call. Within four years, America would recover from the devastation of Pearl Harbor. Within four years, we would fight and win a world war on two fronts.

Our victory in Asia was a particular triumph for the United States Navy. After Pearl Harbor our Pacific Fleet was nearly destroyed and the enemy appeared invincible. Those were dark days for freedom, but the darkness would not long prevail. From the daring first attack on Japanese soil led by Jimmy Doolittle and launched from the deck of the USS Hornet, to the Battle of Midway, to the flag-raising of Iwo Jima, our troops in the Pacific gave Americans back home reason to believe that President Roosevelt was right, that democracy was the most unconquerable of all forms of human society.

President Roosevelt was guided in victory in World War II by certain timeless principles. First, President Roosevelt believed that free nations could muster the resolve to defend themselves. In his day that belief was sorely tested by a ruthless and determined enemy. Our troops in the Pacific found themselves up against a ferocity they had never before encountered -- kamikaze pilots on suicidal missions, soldiers who fought to the last man, commanders animated by a fanatical belief that their nation was ordained to rule the Asian continent. This enemy took many lives and left many grieving families. Yet, in the end, they were no match for the forces of the United States and our allies. In the end they were defeated by Americans who only months before had been farmers and bank clerks and factory hands. And in the end, the victorious children of democracy would help their defeated enemies rebuild, and bring the taste of freedom to millions.

One of the first to recognize this truth was a member of Japan's surrender delegation aboard the USS Missouri. He went to the ceremony expecting to hear how the allies intended to take their vengeance on the defeated. Instead he heard General MacArthur speak about a future of freedom for Japan, and he realized the true source of America's military might. He wrote, "We weren't beaten on the battlefield by the dint of superior arms; we were defeated in the spiritual conquest by virtue of a nobler idea." (Applause.) In World War II, wherever our troops raised the flag of victory, they would also sow the seeds of liberty, and as a result, the world is better off. (Applause.)

Secondly, President Roosevelt believed that the call to freedom is universal. Many of our closest allies did not agree with him about this, and the political map of Asia seemed to confirm their skepticism. At the beginning of the war, the Pacific had only two democracies: Australia and New Zealand. Even in nations where the rule was not harsh, the best that most Asian people could expect was benevolent colonialism. The Japanese claimed they were ridding the continent of foreign colonialism. But millions of Chinese and Burmese and other Asian people soon learned that Tokyo had simply replaced Western colonialism with a version that was often more harsh and repressive.

President Roosevelt, and later President Truman, wisely resolved that we would not make that mistake in our treatment of a defeated Japan. They understood that the sacrifices of allied forces would mean nothing unless we used our victory to help the Japanese people transform their nation from tyranny to freedom. There were many doubters. American and Japanese experts claimed that the Japanese weren't ready for democracy.

In a letter to a friend back home, one of our soldiers on the ground offered a different view. Sergeant Richard Leonard's brother had been killed in fighting the Japanese, but after being stationed in Japan and meeting Japanese people, he found he could not hate them. He wrote, "Sure, we've got to occupy their country and watch them. But at the same time, we've got to help them and do everything possible to reconstruct them as a peace-loving nation." Sergeant Leonard was right. And America did just what he thought we should do. And as we look at what he and his generation accomplished in Japan, we know it is a mistake to believe that some people are not fit for equality and freedom our Creator intended for all. (Applause.)

Third, President Roosevelt believed that free nations are peaceful nations that would not threaten America. He knew that it was the lack of democracy in Japan that allowed an unelected group of militarists to take control of the state, threaten our neighbors, attack America, and plunge an entire region into war. And he knew that the best way to bring peace and stability to the region was by bringing freedom to Japan.

Democracy takes different forms in different cultures. Japanese democracy would be different from American democracy. The Japanese constitution would guarantee the universal freedoms that are the foundation of all genuine democracies, while, at the same time, reflecting the unique traditions and needs of the Japanese people. It allowed for both an electoral democracy and a heredity monarchy. It set Japan on the path to a free society.

With every step toward freedom, the Japanese economy flourished. With every step toward freedom, the Japanese became a model for others in the region. With every step toward freedom, the Japanese became a valued member of the world community, a force for peace and stability in the region, and a trusted and reliable ally of the United States of America.

I've experienced this transformation in a very personal way. During World War II, my dad was one of the Navy's youngest pilots and was shot down over the Pacific. At the same time, an official named Joonya Koizumi served in Japan's legislative assembly. Today, their sons serve as the elected leaders of two free nations. Prime Minister Koizumi is a respected leader and one of my best friends in the international community. Our two democracies are among the world's closest allies. And all Americans are safer and more secure because the Japanese people are free. (Applause.)

Today we must not forget the lessons of the past, and the lesson of this experience is clear: The most powerful weapon in the arsenal of democracy is the spirit of liberty. In the 20th century, the spirit of liberty worked to spread freedom from Japan and Germany to Eastern Europe and Latin America and Southeast Asia and Africa. And the spirit of liberty is at work today. Across the broader Middle East, we can see freedom's power to transform nations and deliver hope to people who have not known it. In Afghanistan and Iraq and Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories, people have gone to the polls and chosen their leaders in free elections. Their example is inspiring millions across that region to claim their liberty, as well -- and they will have it. (Applause.)

In Iraq, people have come together to write a constitution that guarantees freedom for all Iraqi citizens. The document they have produced protects fundamental human freedoms, including freedom for women, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, freedom of conscience, and freedom of expression. This constitution is the result of democratic debate and compromise, and the Iraqi citizens can be proud of what they have accomplished. (Applause.)

As freedom advances across a troubled part of the world, it is once again opposed by fanatical adherence of a murderous ideology. And once again, the stakes are high. Now, as then, our enemies have made their fight a test of American credibility and resolve. Now, as then, they are trying to intimidate free people and break our will. And now, as then, they will fail. (Applause.)

They will fail because the terrorists of our century are making the same mistake that the followers of other totalitarian ideologies made in the last century. They believe that democracies are inherently weak and corrupt and can be brought to their knees. They looked at our response after the hostage crisis in Iran, the bombings of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, the first World Trade Center attack, the killing of American soldiers in Somalia, the destruction of two U.S. embassies in Africa, and the attack on the USS Cole. They concluded that free societies lack the courage and character to defend themselves against a determined enemy. Hear the words of Osama bin Laden that explain why he believed he could get away with the attacks of September the 11th, 2001: "We've seen in the last decade the decline of the American government and the weakness of the American soldier, who is ready to wage cold wars and unprepared to fight long wars... After a few blows they ran in defeat... [They forgot] about being a world leader..." End quote.

After September the 11th, 2001, we've taught the terrorists a very different lesson. America will not run in defeat, and we will not forget our responsibilities. We have brought down two murderous regimes. We're driving terrorists from their sanctuaries. We're putting the terrorists on the run all across the world. (Applause.)

The terrorists and insurgents are now waging a brutal campaign of terror in Iraq. They kill innocent men and women and children in the hopes of intimidating Iraqis. They're trying to scare them away from democracy. They're trying to break the will of the American people. Their goal is to turn Iraq into a failed state like Afghanistan was under the Taliban. If Zarqawi and bin Laden gain control of Iraq, they would create a new training ground for future terrorist attacks; they'd seize oil fields to fund their ambitions; they could recruit more terrorists by claiming an historic victory over the United States and our coalition.

Our goal is clear, as well. We will defeat the terrorists. We'll build a free Iraq that will fight terrorists instead of giving them aid and sanctuary. A free Iraq will offer people throughout the Middle East a hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology being peddled by the terrorists. A free Iraq will show that when America gives its word, America keeps its word.

That choice -- this is the choice we face: Do we return to the pre-September the 11th mind-set of isolation and retreat, or do we continue to take the fight to the enemy and support our allies in the broader Middle East? I've made my decision: We will stay on the offensive. We will stand with the people of Iraq, and we will prevail. (Applause.)

We will prevail because this generation is determined to meet the threats of our time. We will prevail because this generation wants to leave a more hopeful world for our children and grandchildren. We will prevail because the desire to live in freedom is embedded in the soul of every man, woman and child on this Earth. And we will prevail because our freedom is defended by the greatest force for liberation that humankind has ever known, the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. (Applause.)

In this war, some of our best citizens have made the ultimate sacrifice. We mourn the lose of every life. We pray for their loved ones. And we will honor their sacrifice by completing the mission and laying the foundation for peace. (Applause.)

Sixty years ago, American forces made the same type of sacrifice and helped liberate two continents, and made our world a more peaceful place. The men and women of World War II brought honor to the uniform, and to our flag, and to our country. With each passing day their ranks thin, but the peace they built endures. And we will never let the new enemies of a new century destroy with cowardice what these Americans built with courage. (Applause.)

Sixty years after V-J Day, our military veterans can take heart from the example they see right here in San Diego. Those of you who wear the nation's uniform today are every bit as selfless and dedicated to liberty as the generations that came before. And when we will look at you we know our freedom is in good hands. (Applause.)

It is men and women like you who keep us free. It is the spirit of liberty that keeps you strong, and it is the history that gives us confidence to know that in the vital work of spreading liberty, America, and those of us who love freedom will prevail.

May God bless you all, and may God continue to bless America. (Applause.)

END 9:35 A.M. PDT
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Bush's response to gas prices problem? Increase pollution

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Big surprise there. The administration just announced they're permitting wavers to the Clean Air Act to address the disaster. Funny, of all the options available to them they chose to let the oil companies increase pollution. Always a silver lining to every dark cloud, so long as the silver lining helps Bush's friends. Read the rest of this post...

New Storm Warning: Brewing Anger Over Bush's Indifference To This Disaster

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An Arizona columnist shakes his head in wonder that Bush visited his state the day the worst natural disaster in US history was wrecking havoc. And the New York Times lead editorial levels criticism at Bush while saying now is not the time to level criticism at Bush:
But this seems like the wrong moment to dwell on fault-finding, or even to point out that it took what may become the worst natural disaster in American history to pry President Bush out of his vacation. All the focus now must be on rescuing the survivors.
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How cute. While people died in New Orleans Bush played a guitar with the presidential seal on it!

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We knew about Bush's guitar playing yesterday because Rob reported on it, but we didn't know about the presidential seal on the guitar. But thanks to DailyKos, we do now:

Isn't that swell? People are dying and the waters are rising and Bush was on vacation playing a guitar with the presidential seal on it - how totally cute of him.

Wonder if he played this song?
All I ever wanted
Had to get away
Meant to be spent alone
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Governor Blanco: Complete Evacuation of New Orleans

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From WWL:
The governor of Louisiana says everyone needs to leave New Orleans due to flooding from Hurricane Katrina. "We've sent buses in. We will be either loading them by boat, helicopter, anything that is necessary," Gov. Kathleen Blanco said. Army engineers struggled without success to plug New Orleans' breached levees with sandbags, and Blanco said Wednesday the situation was worsening, leaving no choice but to evacuate.
Blanco said she wanted the Superdome - which had become a shelter of last resort for about 20,000 people - evacuated within two days, though was still unclear where the people would go. The air conditioning inside the Superdome was out, the toilets were broken, and tempers were rising in the sweltering heat. "Conditions are degenerating rapidly," she said. "It's a very, very desperate situation."
The current plan is to send them to the Astrodome in Houston, I'm so not kidding. They have truly become the Dome People.

More from WWL:
At least 25,000 of Hurricane Katrina's refugees, a majority of them at the New Orleans Superdome, will travel in a bus convoy to Houston starting Wednesday and will be sheltered at the 40-year-old Astrodome, which hasn't been used for professional sporting events in years.
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USA Today: Submit Your Comments To Open Forum On The Hurricane

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One great comment from someone in New Jersey:
With the economic nightmare that Hurricane Katrina is causing for so many people, has anyone thought about how sad it is that in October, the new bankruptcy laws will go into effect? Those people will still be homeless, unemployed and broke, when the new law goes into effect, so filing bankruptcy will be the last thing on their mind. How would you like to be required to go to credit counseling when you are homeless? Stupid President Bush!!!
Post your thoughts -- and keep in mind that people are still dying. Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread -- Bush Polling At All-Time Low

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Wow. And this was BEFORE Bush's shameful, let-them-eat-cake behavior during the worst natural disaster in US history. You can bet the polls next week will be even worse. Read the rest of this post...

New Orleans Mayor Nagin: "There is way too many fricking ... cooks in the kitchen"

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

"There is way too many fricking ... cooks in the kitchen," Nagin said in a phone interview with WAPT-TV in Jackson, Mississippi, fuming over what he said were scuttled plans to plug a 200-yard breach near the 17th Street Canal, allowing Lake Pontchartrain to spill into the central business district.
An earlier breach occurred along the Industrial Canal in the city's Lower 9th Ward.
The Corps has workers assessing damage at the two locations. The National Guard, Coast Guard and state and federal agencies are working with the agency to speed the process, it reported.
But Nagin said a repair attempt was supposed to have been made Tuesday.

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

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

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

Nagin said he expects relief efforts in the city to improve as New Orleans, the National Guard and FEMA combine their command centers for better communication, followup and accountability.
Just an utter failure of federal leadership.
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CNN: Army Corps Communications Problems

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CNN just interviewed someone from the Amry Corps. He was complaining about communications equipment failures. The Corps, it seems, has been relying on civilian communications networks, like cellular.

Could military communications and transport equipment have given the Corps what it needed to get the levy plugged last night, preventing the further devastation we're watching on TV right now? What disaster planner decided that the ARMY Corps should rely on civilian communications networks?
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Even more too little too late Mr. President

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From the NY Times:
The Pentagon late Tuesday ordered five Navy ships and eight maritime rescue teams to the Gulf Coast to bolster relief operations as worsening conditions overwhelmed the initial response.

One Navy amphibious assault ship, the Bataan, with six Sea Stallion and Sea Hawk helicopters that could be used for search and rescue missions, was en route from Texas. Four other vessels from Norfolk were expected to sail within 24 hours and take four days to reach the gulf, said Mike Kucharek, a spokesman for the Northern Command.
"The biggest challenge is getting enough resources - especially helicopters and small boats - to the area for the rescue work we have to do," said Lt. Gene Maestas, a Coast Guard spokesman in Washington. He said the Coast Guard had scores of small craft with outboard motors, but they were reaching the region at a frustratingly slow pace.
Pentagon officials asserted that deployment of thousands of National Guard members from the gulf states to Iraq and Afghanistan had not affected relief efforts. But on Tuesday the two hardest-hit states, Louisiana and Mississippi, which each have more than 3,000 National Guard troops in Iraq, requested military specialists and equipment from other states, ranging from military police and engineers to helicopters and five-ton, high-wheeled trucks that can traverse the flood waters.

President Bush announced Tuesday that he would cut short his extended summer vacation and fly to Washington to begin work on Wednesday with a task force that will coordinate the work of 14 federal agencies involved in the relief effort.
Oh where to begin. He's going to BEGIN WORK today? I call that a devastating failure of leadership.

The states have requested equipment that only the military can bring. And it's five days away. What if those ships had been mobilized Sunday night? They would have gotten there on Friday. As currently scheduled, they'll be getting there on Sunday. Two days of further hell that was entirely unnecessary and more people will die as a result.

The Coast Guard has equipment that they want to bring, but can't get into New Orleans. Is there a shortage of heavy transport in the US because the equipment is in Iraq?

It's all too little too late Mr. President. Your administration is an absolute failure.
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Open Thread

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So much death and destruction. What's the latest? Read the rest of this post...

Hundreds killed in Baghdad bridge disaster

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The numbers are sketchy now but the low end is 300+ and CNN is reporting well over 600 dead. A massive crowd was crossing the al-Aima bridge during a pilgrimage to a Shiite shrine in northern Baghdad when a railing broke sending hundreds of people off of the bridge. CNN is reporting that rumors of a suicide bomber in the group triggered the stampede which broke the railing. Read the rest of this post...

Commander Chickenhawk rests comfortably while New Orleans is in chaos

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So who else is having flashbacks to president MIA from 9/11? As the city of New Orleans struggles with looting, lack of police and equipment, Bush is nowhere near and is resting in the midst of chaos. Leadership, my ass. He is more worried about pitching his dog of a war and other unpopular programs than getting involved with a problem that has been exacerbated by his miserable policies related to Iraq. Maybe he's been delayed so his team can finish their script and prepare the proper angles for his photo ops. Setting the right mood is so important for a good photo, you know.
"It's downtown Baghdad," said tourist Denise Bollinger, who snapped pictures of looting in the French Quarter. "It's insane."

"It's like being in a Third World country," said Mitch Handrich, a registered nurse manager at Charity Hospital, where nurses were ventilating patients by hand after the power and then the backup generator failed. Some 300 patients had yet to be evacuated, but the babies in intensive care had been flown out.

"We're just trying to stay alive," Handrich said.

"The looting is out of control. The French Quarter has been attacked," Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson said. "We're using exhausted, scarce police to control looting when they should be used for search and rescue while we still have people on rooftops."
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"Missing the personnel is the big thing in this particular event. We need our people."

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With National Guard troops being stretched to the limit in Iraq and Afghanistan, shortages in the US for domestic disastors such as Katrina come as no surprise.
Mississippi has about 40 percent of its Guard force deployed or preparing to deploy and has called up all remaining Guard units for hurricane relief, [Lt. Andy] Thaggard said.

Mississippi has requested troops and aircraft from about eight other states -- including military police and engineers from Alabama, helicopters and crews from Arkansas and Georgia, and aircraft-maintenance experts from Connecticut, who are filling in for a Mississippi maintenance unit that is heading to the Middle East.

In Alabama, all the major Guard units activated for the disaster have already served in Iraq, and some still have contingents there, said Alabama Guard spokesman Norman Arnold.

Recruiting and retention problems are worsening the strain on Guard forces in hurricane-ravaged states. Alabama's Army National Guard has a strength of 11,000 troops -- or 78 percent of the authorized number. "We're just losing too many out the back door," Arnold said.
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Louisiana Governor: Too Little, Too Late

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From CNN, speaking about the Army Corps' attempts to repair the levy breaches:
"The Corps Of Engineers has attempted to fix the situation under emergency conditions," Blanco told CNN. "They're not the best conditions, and probably too little, too late."
Speaks for itself.
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Where the hell is the Democratic party?

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People are trapped and dying, the president is still on vacation, and the Democratic party is silent about Bush's deadly vacuum of leadership during a time of crisis.

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Bush and GOP House cut funds for hurricane protection in New Orleans

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From New Orleans City Business
In fiscal year 2006, the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is bracing for a record $71.2 million reduction in federal funding.

It would be the largest single-year funding loss ever for the New Orleans district, Corps officials said.

I've been here over 30 years and I've never seen this level of reduction, said Al Naomi, project manager for the New Orleans district. I think part of the problem is it's not so much the reduction, it's the drastic reduction in one fiscal year. It's the immediacy of the reduction that I think is the hardest thing to adapt to.

There is an economic ripple effect, too. The cuts mean major hurricane and flood protection projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved for now....

The House of Representatives wants to cut the New Orleans district budget 21 percent to $272.4 million in 2006, down from $343.5 million in 2005. The House figure is about $20 million lower than the president's suggested $290.7 million budget.
That means Bush cut New Orleans' funds by $50m and the GOP in the House cut it by $70m. Read the rest of this post...

As Katrina struck, Bush vacationed

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What Bush saw in El Mirage, AZ yesterday: The majestic beauty of the El Pueblo Mirage RV and Golf Resort

What Bush missed in New Orleans: The scarred façade of the Hyatt Regency Hotel

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Open thread

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In France they had a revolution when the king got too uppity. Read the rest of this post...

Bush spending one final night of vacation at Crawford tonight while people are dying in New Orleans and across the south

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He's STILL on vacation. Rather than return to DC immediately, he's actually taking one final night of vacation. I am absolutely speechless.
Following his speech at the naval base to commemmorate the 60th anniversary of the Allied victory in World War II, the President will fly to his ranch in Crawford, Tx. before returning to Washington on Wednesday morning.
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Bush took New Orleans disaster funds and used them for the Iraq war and for his tax cuts

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An amazing late-breaking article from Editor & Publisher. Bottom line: Experts knew this was coming, and all the preparations ground to a halt because Bush stole New Orleans' disaster preparation money so he could use it for his Iraq debacle:
New Orleans had long known it was highly vulnerable to flooding and a direct hit from a hurricane. In fact, the federal government has been working with state and local officials in the region since the late 1960s on major hurricane and flood relief efforts. When flooding from a massive rainstorm in May 1995 killed six people, Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA.

...after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars.

Newhouse News Service, in an article posted late Tuesday night at The Times-Picayune web site, reported: "No one can say they didn't see it coming....Now in the wake of one of the worst storms ever, serious questions are being asked about the lack of preparation."

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

On June 8, 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; told the Times-Picayune: “It appears that the money has been moved in the president’s budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that’s the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can’t be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.”

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

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

About $300,000 in federal money was proposed for the 2005 fiscal-year budget, and the state had agreed to match that amount. But the cost of the Iraq war forced the Bush administration to order the New Orleans district office not to begin any new studies, and the 2005 budget no longer includes the needed money, he said.”

The Senate was seeking to restore some of the SELA funding cuts for 2006. But now it's too late.
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WWL: Mayor reports massive communications failure will flood entire city

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WWL has just reported that the Mayor of New Orleans reported that a massive miscommunication has occurred. The choppers that were rescuing people were supposed to attempt to sandbag one of the levy breaches. Somewhere along the way, it was never communicated, night has fallen, and within 12-14 hours the entire city will flood.
Mayor Nagin: Unhappy that the helicopters slated to drop 3,000-pound bags into the levee never showed up to stop the flow of water. Too many chiefs calling shots he says.
Mr. President, there aren't enough military choppers in this country to both SAVE LIVES and try and mitigate DISASTER?

Total failure of leadership, and an entire city is now going to flood.

UPDATE: From the WWL Web site:

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CNN: National Guard deployed to combat violence

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CNN is reporting that the National Guard is being deployed to the New Orleans French Quarter to combat growing violence. Journalists are being shot at and cars trying to get out of the city are being targeted for carjacking. Prisoners are rioting trying to escape and holding hostages.
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Follow updates with WWL TV New Orleans blog and video

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NOTE: I'm bumping this back up top, the WWL blog and video are excellent links to follow reports from the ground

WWL TV New Orleans evacuated their offices due to rising waters. They have set up a blog for news updates. View it here. Live TV from an affiliate here.
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CNN says Bush should stop vacationing and get to work

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Via Atrios:
Cafferty: Where's President Bush? Is he still on vacation?

Blitzer: He's cut short his vacation he's coming back to Washington tomorrow.

Cafferty: Oh, that would be a good idea. He was out in San Diego I think at a Naval air station giving a speech on Japan and the war in Iraq today. Based on his approval rating, based on the latest polls, my guess is getting back to work might not be a terrible idea.
Hey Wolf, might have been nice to ask why he didn't cancel his vacation two days ago when the disaster happened, or 5 days ago when it was predicted?

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How out of touch is George Bush on this disaster?

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I'm bumping this post back to the top because I just got home from the airport, saw Rob's post, and can't even believe Bush had the gall to do this today of all days.

Per AP,while tens of thousands of people are trapped in the Superdome in New Orleans, Bush played guitar in California. I'm not making this up:
President Bush plays a guitar presented to him by Country Singer Mark Wills, right, backstage following his visit to Naval Base Coronado, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005.

Click the image for a larger version. Photos from Yahoo. (1) (2)
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"You have no idea what the level of devastation and frustration is on the street"

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From the WWL blog, covering an interview with New Orleans Councilman Oliver Thomas:
Thomas: Saw at least three dead bodies during his rescues. Whole families were among those rescued.
Thomas: Most sobering moment - being told to leave the dead bodies, because there are people to rescue.
Thomas: "What you see on TV, you have no idea what the level of devastation and frustration is on the street."
Watching the coverage on CNN, it's clear that the frustration is building.
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CNN: Tens of Thousands in the Superdome

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CNN is reporting "tens of thousands" trapped in the Superdome, toilets have ceased to work, water coming in.

Our White House Web site? We're still celebrating VJ day! And we're meeting with the troops! And we're talking about Medicare! The worst natural disaster in American history? Check on below the fold. Just disgusting.
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COAST GUARD: "Hundreds" Still Trapped

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A captain from the Coast Guard just reported on CNN that "hundreds" of people remain to still be rescued from their homes. He reported that the weather down there has been 100 degrees and people are still trapped in their attics. They are having trouble finding them during the day, but at night with the night vision goggles they are finding hundreds of people with flashlights signaling for help.
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Bush's Response To Horrific Disaster: Indifference. How Will You Respond To Bush?

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We've got a lot of good arguments posted here from John and Rob and Joe and Chris. Use them, add your own and start writing letters to the editor of your local newspapers, tv stations and radio outlets -- not to mention your elected representatives.

-- President Bush staying on vacation when EVERYONE knew a massive hurricane was getting ready to strike

-- President Bush flogging politics AFTER the hurricane destroyed New Orleans and Biloxi; the President joshing with McCain over birthday cake while the waters were rising

-- President Bush's father sending 25,000 troops after Hurricane Andrew. Either his dad was WASTING time and money or W is falling far short of his father. Again.

-- President Bush pushing a joke of an energy bill that did NOTHING to decrease our dependence on foreign oil, nothing significant to develop alternative fuels and nothing to strengthen our infrastructure. Now we can see how vulnerable it is since one storm is impacting our nation's ability to refine oil.

-- President Bush going back to Texas for another night of vacation instead of going straight to the White House AFTER the disaster struck.

--President Bush jamming on the guitar while the disaster worsens.

-- President Bush finally, grudgingly ending his vacation two days early and going back to DC. If he can stay in touch in Texas, why go back, as John says? If he needs to be back in DC, what the hell took so long?

-- President Bush's backdoor draft that abused the compact between the country and the brave men and women who volunteered for the National Guard and Army Reserve has damaged them for decades to come. Many fewer people leaving the Army are going to volunteer for these groups in the future. And this natural disaster reminds us all of how vital they are.

-- Widespread looting that one observer said made New Orleans look like downtown Baghdad. How many times can Bush turn a bad situation into a disaster before people start catching on?

-- The Coast Guard is saving lives left and right. They are perennially underfunded but President Bush has given the Coast Guard massive new responsibilities to guard our coasts, inspect ships and more all while helping in emergencies like this. So in a post 9-11 world, his attempt to DELAY for DECADES the essential upgrading of the Coast Guard's ships that date to the Vietnam and Korean war is offensive and inexcusable. How would you like to watch your grandmother clinging for her life and find out the boat struggling to get to her is decrepit and unfit? That's what Bush is doing to the Coast Guard.

-- Every time Bush praises the Coast Guard and National Guard and Army Reserves for behaving heroically during this disaster, he insults our intelligence. Bush has delayed providing decent equipment to the Coast Guard even AFTER 9-11. Bush has abused the National Guard and Reserve and likely crippled them for decades to come by turning them into de facto regular army troops when their real purpose is to defend this country AT HOME and come to the rescue during disasters like this. And Bush has repeatedly underfunded and undermined these essential groups again and again and again.

I've looked through 10-20 newspaper websites from the US and overseas and naturally all of them are dealing with the unfolding disaster. But what will the Day 2 (or Day 3) story be? When will they stop blandly reporting the President talked about the hurricane while dawdling in California? When will they stop politely reporting the President is cutting his record-breaking five week vacation short and heading back to DC? When will they start asking why it took Bush so long to pay attention to a disaster everyone could see coming -- even AFTER it struck?

You need to WRITE YOUR LOCAL NEWSPAPERS AND TV STATIONS AND RADIO STATIONS. Simple, common sense questions (Why did the President go to California to push some political agenda when the worst natural disaster in our nation's history had already struck?); anger; comparing Bush's inability to see disaster here to his inability to see disaster in Iraq -- it's all important and needs to be expressed sensitively and smartly, all while keeping in mind that people are dying. But that's just it -- people are dying and Bush is falling short. It would be wrong NOT to comment on that. Fill their inboxes with these ideas. They won't all get printed but they will inspire story ideas, editorials and maybe give the MSM a little backbone to ask some tough questions.

And no, we are not politicizing a terrible disaster.

BUSH played politics with this disaster by leaving our country woefully unprepared thanks to his unnecessary war in Iraq.

BUSH played politics by dawdling in Texas when this massive storm was brewing, just like he dawdles in DC while Iraq sinks further into despair.

BUSH played politics by going to California to flog some attack on Medicare and lie again by pretending Iraq and 9-11 are linked all when the waters were rising, looting was spreading and people were dying.

And BUSH will be playing politics when he gets offended after people finally ask the obvious question: What the hell took him so long?

How can anyone look at the image of Bush goofily strumming a guitar while the waters are rising and people are dying and not get angry? So make a donation to the Red Cross and then start writing those letters. Read the rest of this post...

More Too Little, Too Late Mr. President

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WWL just reported that Bush will have a conference call TOMORROW to set up an interagency working group to respond to the disaster.

What are you waiting for Mr. President? Shouldn't you have done this today? Yesterday? The day before? The water is still rising Mr. President, think you can put the guitar down long enough to do your job?
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HELP NOW: Red Cross

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Support the Red Cross disaster efforts - what they are calling their largest mobilization ever. Read the rest of this post...

WHITE HOUSE: Cake and VJ Day STILL More Important than Largest US Natural Disaster

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My Pet Goat Part II - As of 4:44 PM on August 30, 2005 Cake and VJ Day are still more important than reality at Click on the image for a larger view:

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President and Pentagon Leaving States to Fend for Themselves

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From the WWL blog:
Some six-thousand National Guard personnel from Louisiana and Mississippi who would otherwise be available to help deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina are in Iraq.

Even so, Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said the states have adequate National Guard units to handle the hurricane needs. He said about 6,500 National Guard troops were available in Louisiana, about 7,000 in Mississippi, nearly 10,000 in Alabama and about 8,200 in Florida.
So those extra 25,000 troops that Bush's father sent after Andrew? Must have been a complete waste of time and energy.

Let them eat cake.
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White House Web site home page barely mentions hurricane disaster

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Check out the White House home page right now. You won't see a thing about the hurricane unless you scroll down, way down, and then find a mention that the president "discussed" the hurricane today. You will, however, find five - FIVE - different pieces about Medicare on the White House home page today.

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Here's a question, Mr. President...

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If your aides claim, and I'm sure they will, that you didn't need to come back to DC this past weekend to help coordinate hurricane relief. Why? Because they'll say that you have all of this state-of-the-art communications technology at your Crawford ranch, so being at Crawford is the SAME as being at the White House.

So, if all that's the case, then why is the White House now telling us that you're cutting your vacation short tomorrow to come back to Washington and deal with the hurricane? I thought you were dealing with it just fine while on vacation?

Either you can manage hurricane relief sufficiently while on vacation, and in that case there's no need for you to return to DC tomorrow, or you can't, and in that case where the hell have you been the past 5 days?

So which one is it, Mr. President? Are you now admitting that you made a mistake by remaining on vacation and thinking you could handle hurricane relief from your deck chair by the pool? Read the rest of this post...

Too little too late Mr. President

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Maybe the President's post-war planners moved over to disaster relief? Because it's the only explanation I can imagine. There is a reason they call it a forecast -- so you know ahead of time what's coming your way so you can prepare. Why did it take THREE DAYS for Bush to decide to take this seriously?

Bush has finally decided that he might need to pay a little attention to the WORST NATURAL DISASTER IN AMERICAN HISTORY and head back to Washington. The mainstream media, however, just doesn't seem to get it -- seeming to care more that Bush is going to miss those extra two days of vacation.

The headline on CNN right above this story about Bush heading back?
Survivors "screaming for help"
Too little too late Mr. President.
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Mr. President, come home

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Mr. President,

There is something wrong with this picture.

Hurricane Katrina is now being called one of the worst, if not the worst, disaster in US history. Instead of focusing on this growing tragedy in the southeast, you are at this moment giving a speech in California about World War II and Iraq. Yes, you devoted one minute of that speech to the hurricane, but now it's been 20 minutes and you are still talking about WWII and Iraq.

Mr. President, the entire nation is focused on one issue today, and it is not WWII. We are fixated by the images we're seeing on TV. The images of uncontrollable fires blazing across New Orleans. The images of people stranded on their rooftops waving white t-shirts for help. And as I write this, the water levels are still rising in New Orleans and the situation is getting desperate.

In the face of this tragedy, rather than call off your vacation days ago and head back home to coordinate the relief, but even more importantly, to show the American people that you care and are in charge, you did not fly east to Washington. You flew west to Arizona and to California. While New Orleans and the south was in the process of being destroyed yesterday, you flew west and devoted the day to Medicare. While the death toll for the hurricane increases by the hour, and even FOX News has just now cut away from your live WWII speech in order to return their coverage to New Orleans, you continue to babble on about WWII and Iraq.

Mr. President, you should consider yourself lucky. By ignoring this hurricane and remaining on vacation all weekend, and by continuing to ignore this hurricane and travel out west doing stump speeches instead of focusing on the growing tragedy, you handed the Democrats in Congress a golden opportunity to paint you as out of touch, uncaring, and embattled. The Democrats chose to ignore this opportunity and have remained silent about your complacency in the face of disaster. That is unfortunately what Democrats do; they miss opportunities and sit back quietly while Republicans stumble over themselves with their incompetence.

But we're not your typical Democrats, and we see that you're hiding from the hurricane, and we can't understand why. Canceling your vacation this weekend, canceling your trips to Arizona and California the past two days, were not only the right thing to do, they were the politically smart thing to do. Your approval ratings are at 40% and falling. Mourning mom Cindy Sheehan's ongoing protest at your ranch has made you look a fool. You need whatever you can to get the media and public attention off of the disaster in Iraq. The hurricane was that opportunity. So what did you do when faced with this impending doom? You called off your vacation and went to California to talk about Iraq.

Mr. President, go to Washington TODAY and show the country you're in charge. Go to New Orleans TODAY and show the country that you care. While you ramble on in California about Iraq, FOX News anchor Shepard Smith is flying over New Orleans in a helicopter to survey the damage and report to the nation. Have things gotten that bad in our nation that a reporter for a biased news outlet is acting more presidential than the president himself?

Mr. President, you should have canceled your vacation and your political stump speeches days ago. Blow out the candles, put away the birthday cakes, and come home to Washington today - not tomorrow after you finish all your politicking in California over the next 24 hours, but TODAY.

Politics can wait. Your country needs you.



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White House Web site shows Bush and McCain laughing, eating cake, while Katrina is destroying New Orleans

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This man is so out of touch. Caption on the current picture on
President George W. Bush shares a laugh with Myrtle Jones during a Conversation on Medicare Monday, Aug. 29, 2005, at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
I'm sure that there were a lot of people laughing in their attics last night as the floodwaters rose around them while the President slept peacefully thinking about Medicare and a trip to California.

There are five major Medicare stories on the White House site right now, look WAY down the right and you'll see something about the worst natural disaster in American history.

Pathetic failed Presidency.

UPDATE: You can't make this up. Now we have a picture of Sen. McCain greeting Air Force One with, I kid you not, a cake. LET THEM EAT CAKE? Are you kidding me? More cake.

UPDATE 2: Now we have the President, at, I kid you not, A COUNTRY CLUB. What an ASS.

UPDATE 3: When in doubt, hug the troops... Maybe he should have been sending those troops out for disaster relief.

UPDATE 4: TOP STORY - President Commemorates 60th Anniversary of V-J Day. THERE IS A MAJOR NATURAL DISASTER UNDERWAY MR. PRESIDENT -- what will it take for you to get a clue?
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HELP NOW: American Red Cross

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Help support disaster relief at the Red Cross. Read the rest of this post...

You fight disaster with the army you have left...

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As more levees breach in New Orleans, the floodwaters are rising. Martial law has been declared.

One of the assets that the military brings to disaster relief is equipment that civilian governments don't usually keep on hand, things like amphibious vehicles. The problem is that President Bush, in his infinite wisdom, decided to send amphibious vehicles to... a desert. Now while you might ask how much water one finds in a desert, there are water hazards at golf courses, right near sand traps, so perhaps the President got a little confused.

To add insult to injury, amphibious vehicles are so ill suited to desert warfare that Marines are getting killed because of it. From CNN:
With tracks instead of wheels, the vehicle is designed to be dropped from ships for coastal assaults, then move through surf at a speed of 6 mph. It cruises on land at 20 mph to 30 mph.

But its biggest drawback in Iraq, analysts said, is that because it must be able to stay afloat, its armor plating is lighter than that in heavier vehicles used by the Army.
So how could these amphibious vehicles be used in this disaster? Perhaps they could rescue the hundreds of people who are still out there right now as the waters rise. Watch this CNN report to see more. Tragic.

And the President is going to California today to try and convince the American people of something that he hasn't been able to do yet - that the war in Iraq is worth it.

What an absolute utter failed Presidency.
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Bush Afraid To Arm Iraqi "Army"

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Everyone knows Bush misleads the American people about the size of the Iraqi army. (There are about 3000 Iraqis trained and ready to fight on their own. 3000.) Less reported is the fact that even if there were more soldiers available, the equipment just isn't there. One reason? Corruption. The other? Bush is afraid to give them any weapons because he knows the country could collapse into all-out civil war at any moment. I guess imminent collapse is all part of the "process." Read the rest of this post...

Extremist US politics damaging AIDS war in Africa

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Considering the ongoing FDA battle against the modern world, it should be no surprise that the UN special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa is pointing the finger at the US for a condom shortage in Uganda. Uganda has often been held up as the example by the wingnuts of how Africa should fight against AIDS, using the ABC program. I was horrified to see US taxpayer money in action around South Africa where the US funded billboard advertisements promoting abstinence instead of condoms. Sure, promote abstinence but as a primary method of addressing the problem? C'mon, what ever happened to the real world? Wasn't it always the GOP who criticized Dem's for being pie-in-the-sky?

Considering the seriousness of the problem across Africa, holding back condoms can and will have a very serious and deadly impact. The question then becomes whether or not the extremists running the US give a damn about the life and death struggles of Africans or if they would just rather test political theories on them. Read the rest of this post...

People are dying President Bush - have you sent enough troops?

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Katrina is being called the worst disaster in US history, being compared to hurricane Andrew, and it's not over yet. I've been listening to the reports this morning about hundreds of people trapped in attics, levees breaking in New Orleans and water rising. The reports indicate that people are stuck in their attics and have punched through in places and are trying to signal rescue workers.

The Red Cross has indicated its response will be the largest in its history. So how many National Guard and military troops will Bush send to help save these people? Well, in 1992 his father sent over 30,000 troops to Florida after Andrew, in addition to over 6,000 National Guard activated by the state.
According to today's Chicago Tribune, Louisiana has activated 3,500 National Guardsmen.

As the waters rise and people are trapped in their homes, think about someone's grandmother trapped in an attic waiting for her government to help her. George Bush's response? He spent yesterday talking politics, and today he's supposed to go to California.

Unless we see tens of thousands of troops activated to support this disaster recovery, the people who die over the next few days because there aren't enough troops are all on George Bush.
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Open Thread

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They are waking up to enormous devastation and death in the South.

What's going on? Read the rest of this post...

Arms sales to developing countries rising again

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Whenever the rich nations of the world talk about helping the poor or developing countries, the subject of arms sales never seems to make the list. Take a quick glance at who is cashing in and it is clear why this gets little attention. The US is raking in billions per year from selling weapons, followed by Russia, UK, Israel and France. Other world leaders such as Germany and Italy are right up there as well. Are weapons really that critical to the developing world or are they part of the problem and are the rich countries feeding on the insecurities of those people? Read the rest of this post...