Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Saturday, September 10, 2005
All Power on Earth is either derived or usurped.
These last two weeks have led Americans to the somber realization that George Bush’s presidential aura is a complete product of public relations marketing; like Velveeta artificial cheese food, the actual bland taste of Mr. Bush’s wayward leadership fails to meet its hyped expectations.
Mr. Bush’s frozen-faced and clipped demeanor at stage-managed events, in this last week of frenzied smear and spin, actuates an age-old historical axiom, usurpers most fear usurpation.
Some fascinating recent conversations with people of all political stripes in the last few days make clear, with sincere expressions hardly verging on revolutionary, that Mr. Bush’s controversial presidency is finished.
Like a dead man walking, Mr. Bush and his puppeteers only feel the threat of doom and not the reality, but if the irate Bush country voters I’ve talked with lately are any indicators, that doom, like a personally tailored terrorist threat, is overt and looming.
Is it any wonder, with the Bush presidency at Code Red, that we find Rove and the Echo Chamber ineffectually whirling like demon-possessed tops?
Al Gore speaking to the Sierra Club Friday and helping evacuate Katrina survivors.
Americans, hungry for real leadership, need only look to morning blog and press accounts of the man who should have been President, Albert Gore of Tennessee, for a reassurance that intellectual leadership is not dead and that the possibility exists that, paraphrasing Locke, a true Father of his people might again come to the once usurped Right of his inheritance.
Gore, who spoke yesterday following “thunderous ovations” at the Sierra Club national convention in San Francisco, urged Americans to hold the Bush administration responsible for many of the Hurricane Katrina failures, according to an AP account:
When the corpses of American citizens are floating in toxic flood waters five days after a hurricane struck, it is time not only to respond directly to the victims of the catastrophe, but to hold ... the leaders of our nation accountable…What happened was not only knowable, it was known in advance, in great and painstaking detail.
The speech, according to a Sierra Club account published on AlGore-08.com, was peppered with quotes from “Winston Churchill, Upton Sinclair, the Bible, and President George W. Bush, and the contrast was not pretty.”
From Upton Sinclair, Mr. Gore said:
It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.
From the Bible, Gore selected:
When there is no vision, the people perish.
And from George W. Bush, the man denied the presidency by the Rehnquist Supreme Court said:
Nobody could have predicted the levees would break.
In his speech, Vice President Gore didn’t mention his very personal involvement in the Katrina relief efforts.
This morning, in an Associated Press report on CNN.com and sourced by Gore’s personal physician, the former Senator from Tennessee was described as “airlifting some 270 Katrina evacuees on two private charters from New Orleans to Tennessee on Sept. 3 and 4” with the assistance of a California businessman.
According to Dr. Anderson Spickard, activist Greg Simon and the AP:
Gore told me he wanted to do this because like all of us he wanted to seize the opportunity to do what one guy can do, given the assets that he has…None of the airlines involved required a contract or any written guarantee of payment before sending their planes and volunteer crews…One official said if Gore promised to pay, that was good enough for them…He [Gore] also recruited two doctors, Spickard and Gore's cousin, retired Col. Dar LaFon, a specialist in internal medicine who once ran the military hospital in Baghdad. Most critically, Gore worked to cut through government red tape, personally calling Gov. Phil Bredesen to get Tennessee's support and U.S. Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta to secure landing rights in New Orleans. About 140 people, many of them sick, landed in Knoxville on Sept. 3. The second flight, with 130 evacuees, landed the next day in Chattanooga.
Not to sully Mr. Gore’s altruism with cheap politics and despite the reported Gore family assets, I have to imagine Bush wealth, to say nothing of the consequent non-offered assistance from that quarter, far outstrips the resources available to Mr. Gore.
God bless you Al Gore.
This blogger sincerely hopes you consider another run for the presidency.
Photos: Sierra Club, Knoxville News Sentinel-AP
Friday, September 09, 2005
Let Brown Fake It
Brownie pictured doing a "Heck of a job".
TIME magazine did some digging into FEMA Director Michael Brown’s official biography at the Federal Agency, a 2001 White House press release and with his resume published online at the legal website FindLaw.com and “found some discrepancies”:
Before joining FEMA, his only previous stint in emergency management…was "serving as an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight." The White House press release from 2001 stated that Brown worked for the city of Edmond, Okla., from 1975 to 1978 "overseeing the emergency services division”…according to Claudia Deakins, head of public relations for the city…Brown was an "assistant to the city manager"…not a manager himself, and had no authority over other employees. "The assistant is more like an intern."
Under the "honors and awards" section of his profile at FindLaw.com…[Brown] lists "Outstanding Political Science Professor, Central State University". However, Brown "wasn't a professor here, he was only a student here," says Charles Johnson, News Bureau Director in the University Relations office at the University of Central Oklahoma (formerly named Central State University)…As for the honor of "Outstanding Political Science Professor," Johnson says, "I spoke with the department chair yesterday and he's not aware of it."
Brown states [on FindLaw.com] that from 1983 to the present he has been director of the Oklahoma Christian Home, a nursing home in Edmond. But an administrator…told TIME that Brown is "not a person that anyone here is familiar with."
Michael Brown was confirmed at a 42-minute hearing before the Senate’s Committee on Governmental Affairs, chaired by Joseph Lieberman on June 19, 2002.
A PDF transcript of that hearing, found by a contributor to the TPM Café, has several interesting passages.
The transcript shows only three Committee members present for the confirmation hearing of the new FEMA Deputy Director, among these members is Kentucky’s junior Senator, 74 year-old former baseball player, Jim Bunning.
In the brief exchanges shown below, Brown, under oath, seems to have lied directly and indirectly to the Committee:
Chairman LIEBERMAN. Do you know of anything personal or otherwise…that would in any way prevent you from fully and honorably discharging your responsibilities as Deputy Director of FEMA?
Mr. BROWN. No, sir.
Senator BUNNING. You were in city government like I was...You were an Assistant City Manager in Edmond, Oklahoma, one of my old hangouts when I managed the Oklahoma City 89-ers, in the mid-1970s, actually. So was I, 1976. How has the responsibility and focus of local officials changed since September 11, the relationship to FEMA?
Mr. BROWN. First of all, I would say I probably went to some of those ballgames, but I am sure I never screamed at the manager.
Senator BUNNING. Yes. I can remember you specifically doing
Mr. BROWN. I never did that. [Laughter.]
Photo: AFP Getty
Thursday, September 08, 2005
This week the media, once again, proves itself incapable of resisting a cute Psy-Op-laden phrase regardless of it’s tainted parentage and blatant power to obfuscate and blur obvious government and presidential responsibility.
The phrase, of course, is that politically redolent Bush I chestnut, The Blame Game, a phrase that had its Bush II unveiling with Poppi and Bar’s September 5th durkhredn redn zikh mit TV mentsch Larry King:
KING: What do you make of all the criticism?
G. BUSH: The criticism of what?
KING: The federal government's response, the lateness…
G. BUSH: Any time there's a crisis people want to blame someone. I've never been much for the Monday morning quarterbacking and to be very candid, Larry, I think some of the criticism had been grossly unfair…But you know the media has a fascination, Larry, and you know this, I'm not saying you but the media has a fascination with the blame game…
KING: But even the president said the reaction should have been faster that he wasn't satisfied.
G. BUSH: Sure. I don't think -- certainly I'm not satisfied but I'm just talking about the blame game and there was one particularly vicious comment that the president didn't care, was insensitive on ethnicity.
Overnight, Bush I’s calculated planting of a tried and true prosaic bad seed was sprouting like Kudzu from the mouths of CNN’s morning anchors and a few select echo chamber hacks.
Tuesday morning, Poppi’s boy, the spelter-tongued President himself, attempted the Psy-Op phrase candy, but, forgot to include the vital negative contraction for “do not”:
THE PRESIDENT: I think one of the things that people want us to do here is to play a blame game.
By Tuesday afternoon, White House Press Secretary was festooned with multiple tendrils of a rapidly sprouting Blame Game vine:
Q: Is the President prepared to say where this White House, where this administration went wrong in its response to Katrina?
MR. McCLELLAN: You know, David, there are some that are interested in playing the blame game.
Q: Scott, a question about the "plenty of time" assertion that you make…should the accountability be determined immediately and that part be removed?
MR. McCLELLAN: I know some just want to engage in the blame game. There will be a time to talk about all these issues.
Q: The person who says that he found out about the Convention Center seeing it on the media…is that satisfactory?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, this is getting into -- we're somewhat engaged in a blame game. We've got to --
Q: It's not a blame game. That's accountability --
MR. McCLELLAN: Terry, we've got to --
Q: It's accountability.
Q: You're telling us today there will be time for that somewhere down the road?
MR. McCLELLAN: We can engage in this blame-gaming going on and I think that's what you're getting --
Q: No, no. That's a talking point, Scott.
Q: The whole country is watching and wondering about some --
MR. McCLELLAN: The time for bickering and blame gaming is later.
Q: Wouldn't it be more appropriate to follow the suggestion of appointing somebody as the coordinator, overall coordinator for the relief effort?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, this is getting into trying to finger-point and play the blame game.
The next day, Wednesday, Mr. McClellan, that unblushing Jezebel of spin, was still enrobed in the leafy chokehold of H. W. Bush’s Blamezu vine.
This morning saw the Republican leadership, fresh from an audience with the Bicyclist-in-Chief, taking their turns dancing with Blamezu and a recent Google search found, among all political and media stripes, 17,300,000 general web references and 8,850 news references to the phrase, The Blame Game.
But, as indicated in this morning’s Zogby poll and what will, without doubt, be reflected in future polling, the standard bag of manipulative political tricks are failing in the face of a Katrina death count in the multiple tens of thousands.
Astute political comic Jon Stewart beautifully gift-wrapped this latest infestation of Bush denial last evening:
Well, the way that they're making is sound is that if you're playing the Blame Game, you're to blame.
Photos: Reuters, rotten.com
According to a new poll from Zogby International of 1157 likely voters, conducted from September 6 through 7, 2005 and with a +/-2.9 margin of error, President Bush’s national approval has hit historic lows.
Amazingly, Zogby finds that Bush, in imaginary elections where he is pitted against former Presidents, would lose to every President from Jimmy Carter to Bill Clinton.
The poll has Bush, by only 1 percentage point, beating former Democratic Presidential Nominee John Kerry.
Image: Zogby International
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
National Hurricane Center Chief Max Mayfield briefs the President via teleconference Sunday August 28th
St. Petersburg Times, August 30
At 11 p.m. Friday [August 26], more than two days before Katrina reached land, the hurricane specialists said the hurricane would make landfall in the bayous of Louisiana, east of New Orleans...Saturday night, Mayfield was so worried about Hurricane Katrina that he called the governors of Louisiana and Mississippi and the mayor of New Orleans. On Sunday, he even talked about the force of Katrina during a video conference call to President Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.
Press Briefing by Scott McClellen 1:26PM EDT
Q: When did the President know that Katrina was the kind of hurricane that could overtop the levees?
MR. McCLELLAN: I appreciate you wanting to get into some of the factual tick-tock questions...A lot of the media reports that were coming out Monday, Monday night, Tuesday morning were expressing that it had missed the massive flooding that some had projected in a worst-case scenario.
Q: The President of the United States was getting his information about this major disaster from the media?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, no...The President was getting regular updates from people in the region and from people here in Washington, D.C.
Q: But you can't tell me when he was -- was he told by Max Mayfield or others on Saturday or Sunday, Mr. President, this is the big one, this could really flood New Orleans. When did he hear that?
MR. McCLELLAN: Absolutely, Terry.
Photo: White House
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Briefing by Scott McClellan, 1:18PM EDT:
Q: Where does the buck stop in this administration?
MR. McCLELLAN: The President.
Q: All right. So he will be held accountable as the head of the government for the federal response that he's already acknowledged was inadequate and unacceptable?
MR. McCLELLAN: The President's most important responsibility is the safety and security of the American people.
George LXIII & Laura Antoinette
The New York Times:
The criticism has been visibly irritating to the president.
Modified Images: Google, Reuters
Monday, September 05, 2005
According to this morning’s New York Times:
Mr. Bush expressed alarm after his return to Washington from the Gulf Coast.
Any sane American citizen with a pulse would simply assume this Presidential “alarm” concerned the hideous privation of Katrina survivors and the massive scale of death and destruction across a three state area.
This morning we are given yet another reason to believe our sham of a leader isn’t wired to think with the normal compassion of an ordinary American.
According to a very matter-of-fact article by Adam Nagourney and Anne Kornblut, the President of the United States’ first priority “this weekend” was “a plan…to contain the political damage from the administration's response” lead by “Bush's two senior political advisers”, the warm and huggable Karl Rove and the President’s goon-in-chief Dan Bartlett.
This rapidly assembled plan to restore a vacation-fresh 43 to his Photo-Opp’ed glory:
-Orchestrated visits by cabinet members to the region…
-Directed administration officials not to respond to attacks…on the relief efforts…
-Sought to move the blame for the slow response to…state officials, according to Republicans familiar with the White House plan.
According to the Times’ third paragraph, the “political damage” plan was begun “late late last week” without the President’s involvement “after Congressional Republicans called White House officials to register alarm about what they saw as a feeble response by Mr. Bush to the hurricane”:
His first visit, on Friday, left some Republicans cringing.
The curious and, of late, schizophrenic Times, from the tenor of the eye-raising article, appears to consider this disgraceful and unseemly PR action plan at par for the Rove-designed Bush course:
The unfolding public relations campaign reflects the style Mr. Rove has brought to the political campaigns…Rove had told administration officials not to respond to…attacks on Mr. Bush's handling of the hurricane…[as] the president was in a weak moment and that the administration should not appear to be…blatantly political…In a reflection of what has long been a hallmark of Mr. Rove's tough political style, the administration is also working to shift the blame away from the White House and toward officials of New Orleans and Louisiana who, as it happens, are Democrats…That line of argument was echoed throughout the day [Sunday], in harsher language, by Republicans reflecting the White House line.
This egregious and demonically calculated PR plan is shocking and another new low for an already bottom-slimed, shame-ladened Presidency.
One cannot really blame the Bush henchmen for, again, resorting to the only dirty tool in their kit to aid in the image-burnishing restoration of what John at AmericaBlog described as our nation’s figurehead Queen.
Chicanery has been the Bushies weapon of first, middle and last resort since 2000 and no thinking person should be surprised that these mediocre men, even in the face of this historic human tragedy, again return to their true natures.
Be forewarned, though, these political rats have been, through their own negligence, backed into a rather tight corner and will now conduct this evolving, dirty rapid response PR plan with unprecedented ferocity as over a million people still struggle for basic life-sustaining necessities and untold thousands still float dead in sewage-contaminated waters.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
This morning’s Washington Post provides some damning facts that lay responsibility for the Katrina Hurricane mega-disaster on the President’s doorstep.
Here’s the shocking pith from a 4-page article on the intentional destruction of FEMA:
We have less capability today than we did on September 11," said a veteran FEMA official involved in the hurricane response. "We are so much less than what we were in 2000," added another senior FEMA official. "We've lost a lot of what we were able to do then."
When Chertoff took office earlier this year, he made his top priority an entirely new bureaucratic reorganization…taking away a key remaining function, preparedness planning, from FEMA…procedures for what to do when the inevitable disaster hit were also subjected to a bureaucratic overhaul, still unfinished.
Last Tuesday, as New Orleans was drowning…some department contractors found an important e-mail in their inboxes…Attached were two documents -- one more than 400 pages long -- that spelled out in numbing, acronym-filled detail the planned "national preparedness goal”…the documents were not a menu for action in the devastated Gulf Coast. They were drafts, not slated for approval and release until October.
[The Department of Homeland Security] emphasized terrorism at the expense of other threats, said several current and former senior department officials and experts…cutting funding for natural disaster programs and downgrading the responsibilities and capabilities of the previously well-regarded FEMA.
On the Friday before Katrina hit, when it was already a Category 2 hurricane rapidly gathering force in the Gulf, a veteran FEMA employee arrived at the newly activated Washington headquarters for the storm. Inside, there was surprisingly little action. "It was like nobody's turning the key to start the engine," the official recalled.
There has been substantial talk, on line, that the President and his government must leave office because of their calculated actions as regards FEMA and their coldly meretricious behavior toward the devastated survivors of Katrina.
I think that talk is more than justified.
Bush supporters will no doubt spin discussions toward isolated and improperly framed specifics such as the Echo Chamber’s intellectually bankrupt looting meme, but, in this case, it is the overall and currently continuing gestalt of Katrina that damns the Bush maladministration.
I, personally, am as heartsick as I was in the days following September 11, 2001.
I have followed this disaster closely and have personally witnessed via CNN and the Internet many of the events the Bush maladministration now claims not to have happened.
We all have witnessed these Bush modi operandi before, haven’t we?
And, with the timely death of Chief Justice Rehnquist, who knows what tricks are yet hidden up the elastic Bush sleeve?
No pitiful excuse or cowardly attempt to shift blame will succeed and, I think, should not be tolerated particularly in light of the orchestrated FEMA destruction outlined in this morning’s Washington Post.
Reports, again on line, from eyewitnesses and European news outlets clearly show the ballyhooed Bush visits to the hurricane areas were nothing more than heartlessly staged photo-ops geared toward fluffing our over-fluffed and naked emperor.
Already, this Sunday morning I have witnessed various craven talking heads, specifically Campbell Brown and Cokie Roberts, who ludicrously claimed to have “been involved in this from the beginning”, assist the Bushies in another feeble attempt to shift blame to state and local officials and, of course, the poor benighted hurricane survivors.
As I’ve said in several blog comment areas, Katrina is America’s Yeltsin on the Tank moment, a time when vast numbers of Americans are seeing though the fog of a controlled media to the charade of national leadership.
I know we can proceed with the unprecedented removal of a President and his government in an orderly manner and in a manner that celebrates our Founders, our constitution and our Freedoms.
Remember, this is a holiday weekend where we should be reminded of our own particular forefathers, their sacrifices and their blood.
We, all of us, owe our past and the living document of our Constitution the continued promise of a truly American future.
Modified Image: LA Times, White House