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The Gross National Debt

Friday, September 09, 2005
We NEED a Katrina Victims Panel NOW

(Cross-posted, with edits, at Daily Kos)

With just shy of four years under our collective National belts since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, there are still lessons to be learned and applied as we look at the current situation in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the debacle that unfolded shortly thereafter.

I'm an avid reader of Daily Kos. More information and knowledge passes through the diaries that dKos users post than I can possibly get to - but I definitely try to check the recommended diaries with regularity because they encapsulate a progressive's call to action. Over the days since the Katrina debacle unfolded, I have posted my share of stories on Daily Kos, some scoring the recommended list and others not. Here are the things I've posted there and to this blog since Katrina struck:


There have been literally thousands of diaries at Daily Kos highlighting the spectrum of issues - if you have considered it, someone has diaried it over there. If it hasn't been diaried, then open an account and write about it.

My point in bringing this all up is an interesting discussion in one of the diary's comment threads over the past two days. I wish I could remember which user had the idea so I could ascribe appropriate credit, but there's just too high a volume of comments to go back through and find it. The comment, in summary, indicated the writer's deep belief that the progressive community had to find the Katrina-equivalent to the 9/11 widows. As I'm sure we all recall, the 9/11 widows were a compelling and powerful force that almost single-handedly, through shame and pressure and testimony and lobbying, forced the 9/11 Commission into being. Those women spoke absolutely from a position of power and sympathy. The fear at Daily Kos and other sites is that, as the stranded have been evacuated, the public pressure and attention on what in God's name happened will fade. Any investigatory commissions will be watered-down and ineffectual - in essence, without a 9/11-widow-like presence, nothing will be learned or changed as a result of this tragedy.

So. The idea of a Katrina Victim presence takes on importance and power. But who should be on it?

Bob Johnson did an outstanding diary about Charmaine Neville, New Orleans resident and member of the famed musical Neville family. From Bob's diary, you can navigate to links of Charmaine Neville's videotaped account of her frightening story (click here to view it if you're on a PC and here if you're on a Mac). This is, in my opinion, required viewing for progressives who want to effect change in the wake of Katrina. She is an articulate and visible presence with a harrowing story of what really happened, and a story that can't be whitewashed. I would nominate her for Katrina-Victim status.

Another great story has emerged around Dr. Gregory S. Henderson, a New Orleans resident and doctor who has just been scathing in his criticism of the way relief and aid efforts have been (mis)managed since Katrina struck the region. The Wilmington Star-News has a nice article up about Dr. Henderson. Further, this transcript from CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 underscores his efforts and comments. I think somehow (it's a gut reaction) that it's important that any 9/11-widow-type group have a diverse public face - faces of all colors, all income levels and all backgrounds. Dr. Henderson goes a long way toward that end.

The only other person I think it would be interesting to talk to is the gentleman who, off-camera during Dick Cheney's visit to Mississippi yesterday, expressed his true feelings. "Go f--k yourself, Mr. Cheney," he said - and then again, "Go f--k yourself." If you missed this particular clip, Crooks and Liars has provided it. Click here for a Windows Media version and here for a QuickTime version. The problem is I can't find any reference as to who that individual is and he never appears on-camera before he is "escorted" away. If anyone has that information, that would be excellent.

That is all I've come up with as to actual people that I've seen in the news. I don't think that these people can be politicized because they are not politicians - they are survivors. And I, along with everyone else, am witnessing the attempt to shift blame and deflect and change the subject. We cannot allow that to happen.

There are so many things which need to be investigated in the wake of this disaster. I certainly don't need to be convinced that there is plenty of blame to go around - Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco need to be held accountable for their missteps prior to the storm hitting - but the lion's share of the debacle rests with the Federal Government. This was a disaster they knew was possible and imminent. What this says about disaster response is that we are less prepared than we were before 9/11. Imagine if this had been a terrorist attack on a moderate- to large-scale: if, knowing in advance of Katrina that a disaster loomed, the response was so utterly lacking, what kind of response can we expect to an unforecast disaster?? My God.

First and foremost on the list of things I think are critical to investigate is the role of FEMA and the harm done to FEMA by demoting it from cabinet-level independence to place it within the massive Department of Homeland Security. This will be a complicated investigation - it will be difficult to separate the question of the competence of leadership at the very top of FEMA from the question of funding and preparedness when FEMA became a (relatively) small part of a much larger whole. I caught this commentary from Jack Cafferty on CNN's The Situation Room yesterday which I found appalling:

CAFFERTY: Indeed I do, Wolf. Thanks very much.

Somewhere along the way, FEMA became a dumping for the President's political cronies with little experience in disaster relief. The Agency's first director was Joe Albaugh. He was President Bush's 2000 campaign chairman. Albaugh brought in the current failure, Michael Brown. His previous work was with Arabian horses. The number two guy, Brown's top deputy at FEMA is a fellow named Patrick Rhode. He worked for the President's 2000 election campaign. The number three guy at FEMA is Brooks Alchuler. He used to work in the White House. His job was planning Presidential trips. And FEMA's long-term recovery director is a guy named Scott Morris. He produced television and radio commercials for the Bush campaign.

The Federal agency charged with handling national emergencies is staffed at the very top by a bunch of political hacks with virtually no experience that qualifies them to respond to something like Katrina.

But I digress.

He wasn't kidding.

Further revelations have bubbled up as the dust is settling, and many important ones have been diaried over at Daily Kos:



That is just a tiny sampling of the information swirling out there and all of the balls that were dropped. I'm missing more than I highlighted - I just wanted to give a flavor.

The Republican Administration is trying to baffle us with bullshit, folks. They're throwing so much crap and so many smokescreens that we run the risk of becoming distracted and confused. A Katrina-Victims panel would speak volumes and speak them clearly with the authority of someone who has lived to tell of an ordeal. If I can get the suggestion of a few more names of people who would be suited to carry this powerful message of accountability, I will do my best to contact the news agencies and individuals and see if we can't get a face on this. A real, human face. Your help is desperately needed.



posted by RenaRF at 8:43 AM 5 comments links to this post

5 Comments:

Anonymous JollyRoger said...

The faithful wouldn't care what their Lord does.

They are what I like to call the "baby eater" base-as in, they could watch El Shrubbo eating babies and find someone else to blame for it. I estimate them at around 30% of his base of support, although I do not understand for a second why anyone would want to willingly cede the right to think independently. Because as we all know, if you are a Shrubberal, you stopped thinking years ago.

The ones we can reach most easily are those who voted for El Shrubbo based on his "Mr. Security" lies-they have seen that lie blow up in graphic, horrifying color. We must continue to pound one simple message home.

Whether or not you believe Blanco and Nagin are chumps (and there is at least some truth to the accusation that Blanco was slow to understand what was happening to New Orleans,) there is no way that Blanco or NAgin caused the spectacular failure of FEMA-they couldn't have because they neither set the FEMA response up nor did they get any FEMA help for awhile after they screamed for it.

In addition, the new Rove bullshit meme about "Mississippi did all right because of a good Governor" willfully ignores both the geography and population density of the metropolitan New Orleans area. We must not let them get away with this bullshit either-if New Orleans had been sitting where Biloxi sat, I can't imagine these scumbags praising Nagin or Blanco for the ease of access.

12:00 AM  
Blogger RenaRF said...

Great comment and I totally agree.

I don't know when I'll get to it (sometime this weekend perhaps) but I have an email from a FORMER Republican friend who falls in the non baby-eater category and I've asked for permission to blog it, which has been granted. ;-)

9:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.votetoimpeach.org/

There are some very troubling developments regarding the collecting of
bodies in NOLA. The company hired to do the collection is Kenyon
International. Kenyon International is owned by SCI, a major Bush
contributor. SCI was involved in a scandal called "Funeralgate" wherin
bodies were improperly disposed of on numreous occasions. Rather than
prosecute the company, the then Governor George W Bush and and his campaign
manager and future FEMA director Joe Allbaugh seemingly helped the company
engage in a coverup. Both Bush and Allbaugh were named as defendants in a
lawsuit regarding the issue.

The fact FEMA and the Bush Administration seem to be intent on blocking
media coverage of the collection of bodies, and unsubstantiated rumours of
"mishandling" of bodies in NOLA already circulating should lead to great
concern among the public. Is the Government planning to cover up the number
of dead in NOLA as they covered up the Abu Ghraib scandal?

One thing is certain: reporters for the Dallas times caught Police and
National Guardsmen red handed in this video
http://www.dallasnews.com/s/dws/photography/2005/katrina_video/straydogs.html
telling the media they were rounding up dogs to be collected by the ASPCA
and other animal groups, when in fact they were caught "exterminating" them
on camera. If the government will lie about that, what else will they lie
about?

The American people deserve to know the truth. The collection of American
bodies should not be farmed out to a Bush political crony, one which he
seemingly helped cover up the "mishandling" of bodies...a felony. SCI's criminal practice of
"mishandling" bodies should preclude it from engaging in or profiting from the
recovery of American bodies anywhere, but particularly in NOLA...the outcome
of the investigation is too important to leave to a company with such a
tainted past, particulary one that is so incestuously connected to George W
Bush, and particularly when the Bush administration has so much to lose from an accurate body count.

The US media must be allowed to report on a crucial element of one of the gravest
governmental crises in American history. Congress should demand that Kenyon
International be FIRED immediately from any and all recovery efforts in NOLA,
and send an independent oversight group to be present in NOLA and the
surrounding area during the body recovery to insure the American people are
not being duped. These are not hanging chads, these are American citizens
.The present leadership within FEMA and the Bush administrationhave proven
themselves unworthy of American trust.

Following is a list of links detailing some very disturbing allegations of
criminal activity directly involving GW Bush, Joe Allbaugh, and the company
entrusted by the American people to recover the dead abandoned by the Bush
administration after hurricane Katrina...are you listening America?

Please dont just read this info, do something about it!
Contact Congress and the National Media to launch a formal inquiry, help
disseminate this info
on the blogs. Its time to bring back accountbility to our government.

Permission to use this post for any reason is granted Universally without
charge or obligation.

http://www.apfn.net/messageboard/10-26-03/discussion.cgi.163.html

http://www.kenyoninternational.com/kenyoninternatio.html

http://maverick.dailykos.com/story/2005/9/8/1269/39920

http://www.newshounds.us/2005/09/08/bush_cohorts_profiteering_at_all_levels.php

http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2005/09/what_is_it_agai.html

http://www.hereinreality.com/funeralgate.htm

http://www.americanpolitics.com/20020304Baker.html

http://www.apfn.net/messageboard/10-26-03/discussion.cgi.163.html

3:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FEMA "DISAPPEARINNG" BODIES IN NOLA?
Skeletons (Real Ones) in Bush's Closet

http://www.votetoimpeach.org/

There are some very troubling developments regarding the collecting of bodies in NOLA. The company hired to do the collection is Kenyon International. Kenyon International is owned by SCI, a major Bush contributor. SCI was involved in a scandal called "Funeralgate" wherin bodies were improperly and fraudulently disposed of in mass graves of in violation of numerous State and Federal laws on numreous occasions. Rather than prosecute the company, the then Governor George W Bush and and his campaign manager and future FEMA director Joe Allbaugh seemingly helped the company engage in a coverup. Both Bush and Allbaugh were named as defendants in a lawsuit regarding the issue.

The fact FEMA and the Bush Administration seem to be intent on blocking
media coverage of the collection of bodies, and unsubstantiated rumours of
"mishandling" of bodies in NOLA already circulating should lead to great
concern among the public. Is the Government planning to cover up the number
of dead in NOLA as they covered up the Abu Ghraib scandal?

One thing is certain: reporters for the Dallas times caught Police and
National Guardsmen red handed in this video
http://www.dallasnews.com/s/dws/photography/2005/katrina_video/straydogs.html
telling the media they were rounding up dogs to be collected by the ASPCA
and other animal groups, when in fact they were caught "exterminating" them
on camera. If the government will lie about that, what else will they lie
about?

The American people deserve to know the truth. The collection of American bodies should not be farmed out to a Bush political crony, one which he seemingly helped cover up the "mishandling" of bodies...a felony. SCI's criminal practice of "mishandling" bodies should preclude it from engaging in or profiting from the recovery of American bodies anywhere, but particularly in NOLA...the outcome of the investigation is too important to leave to a company with such a tainted past, particulary one that is so incestuously connected to George W Bush, and particularly when the Bush administration has so much to lose from an accurate body count.

The US media must be allowed to report on a crucial element of one of the gravest governmental crises in American history. Congress should demand that Kenyon International be FIRED immediately from any and all recovery efforts in NOLA, and send an independent oversight group to be present in NOLA and the surrounding area during the body recovery to insure the American people are not being duped. These are not hanging chads, these are American citizens.The present leadership within FEMA and the Bush administrationhave proven themselves unworthy of American trust.

Following is a list of links detailing some very disturbing allegations of criminal activity directly involving GW Bush, Joe Allbaugh, and the company entrusted by the American people to recover the dead abandoned by the Bush administration after hurricane Katrina...are you listening America?

Please dont just read this info, do something about it!

Contact Congress and the National Media to launch a formal inquiry, help disseminate this info on the blogs. Its time to bring back accountbility to our government.

Permission to use this post for any reason is granted Universally without
charge or obligation.

http://www.apfn.net/messageboard/10-26-03/discussion.cgi.163.html

http://www.kenyoninternational.com/kenyoninternatio.html

http://maverick.dailykos.com/story/2005/9/8/1269/39920

http://www.newshounds.us/2005/09/08/bush_cohorts_profiteering_at_all_levels.php

http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2005/09/what_is_it_agai.html

http://www.hereinreality.com/funeralgate.htm

http://www.americanpolitics.com/20020304Baker.html

http://www.apfn.net/messageboard/10-26-03/discussion.cgi.163.html

3:22 PM  
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9:55 PM  

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