Saturday, September 10




I wonder how many Republican Congressmen would hear similar questions and sentiments should they hold a town hall meeting?

There are important lessons for Democrats in this story.

Hat tip to Democratic Veteran.


President George W. Bush's approval ratings have fallen across the board in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and a seemingly flawed government response to the disaster, according to the latest Newsweek Poll. Bush's job-approval rating dropped to 38 percent, the lowest ever in the Newsweek Poll. Sixty-six percent of those polled say they are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States at this time; just 28 percent are satisfied, another record low in the poll.

More here.


Riverbend is posting again.


Jonathan Chait: "The reason they have nothing to fear is that the structure of our political system makes our leaders almost completely unaccountable."

Bill Kristol, another prominent conservative, recently told the New York Times, "I think the Clinton administration would have done a better job in handling Hurricane Katrina, but I'm also glad Bush is president and not a Democrat."

What could this statement mean? Bush may have mishandled a massive natural disaster that may have killed thousands, displaced tens of thousands and cost tens of billions of dollars, but Kristol is still glad he's president. Because we need his skillful handling of Iraq. No, I mean the federal budget. No, wait….

What I think it means is that Kristol, like most conservatives, will remain loyal to Bush as long as he remains ideologically true, no matter how badly he governs.


Heads up, Christians, and indeed, all Americans. Vitally important to our survival as a nation. From Bill Moyer's address to Union Theological Seminary in New York:

My spiritual forbears did not take kindly to living under theocrats who embraced religious liberty for themselves but denied it to others. "Forced worship stinks in God's nostrils," thundered the dissenter Roger Williams as he was banished from Massachusetts for denying Puritan authority over his conscience.
Such revolutionary ideas made the new nation with its Constitution and Bill of Rights "a haven for the cause of conscience." No longer could magistrates order citizens to support churches they did not attend and recite creeds that they did not believe. No longer would "the loathsome combination of church and state" - as Thomas Jefferson described it - be the settled order.
Terrorists plant time bombs in our heads, hoping to turn each and every imagination into a private hell governed by our fear of them.

They win only if we let them, only if we become like them: vengeful, imperious, intolerant, paranoid. Having lost faith in all else, zealots have nothing left but a holy cause to please a warrior God. They win if we become holy warriors, too; if we kill the innocent as they do; strike first at those who had not struck us; allow our leaders to use the fear of terrorism to make us afraid of the truth; cease to think and reason together, allowing others to tell what's in God's mind. Yes, we are vulnerable to terrorists, but only a shaken faith in ourselves can do us in.
So General Boykin explained how it was that the candidate who had lost the election in 2000 nonetheless wound up in the White House. President Bush, he said, "was not elected by a majority of the voters - he was appointed by God."
We can't wiggle out of this, people. Alvin Hawkins states it frankly: "This is a problem we can't walk away from." We're talking about a powerful religious constituency that claims the right to tell us what's on God's mind and to decide the laws of the land according to their interpretation of biblical revelation and to enforce those laws on the nation as a whole. For the Bible is not just the foundational text of their faith; it has become the foundational text for a political movement.
As I look back on the conflicts and clamor of our boisterous past, one lesson about democracy stands above all others: Bullies - political bullies, economic bullies and religious bullies - cannot be appeased; they have to be opposed with a stubbornness to match their own. This is never easy; these guys don't fight fair; "Robert's Rules of Order" is not one of their holy texts. But freedom on any front - and especially freedom of conscience - never comes to those who rock and wait, hoping someone else will do the heavy lifting. Christian realism requires us to see the world as it is, without illusions, and then take it on. Christian realism also requires love. But not a sentimental, dreamy love. Reinhold Niebuhr, who taught at Union Theological Seminary and wrestled constantly with applying Christian ethics to political life, put it this way: "When we talk about love we have to become mature or we will become sentimental. Basically love means...being responsible, responsibility to our family, toward our civilization, and now by the pressures of history, toward the universe of humankind."

Christian realists aren't afraid to love. But just as the Irishman who came upon a brawl in the street and asked, "Is this a private fight or can anyone get in it?" we have to take that love where the action is. Or the world will remain a theatre of war between fundamentalists.


What on earth is this all about?

Is it possible there are more of these around the country? A personal note: the Falls Creek facility at the center of this bizarre story is one my family is very familiar with. Three of our children attended retreats there when they were preteens.

Friday, September 9


Despite the negative publicity Dubya has received for his lackluster response to the disaster called Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, he's as resolute as ever in "staying the course" -- in other words, it's business as usual for the administration. Here are just a few examples:

(1) Bush used the excuse of "a national emergency" to issue an executive order allowing federal contractors to pay substandard wages to construction workers working on the reconstruction and recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

(2) BushCo continues to grant lucrative contracts, this time for Katrina-related work, to their pet business cronies. Kenyon International is a case in point. The Bush-connected company landed the contract to remove the bodies from New Orleans.

That's the same disaster management group which is owned by SCI Corp, whose chairman is Bush contributor and friend Robert Waltrip. Well, why not? When you're as accident prone as this administration, it's handy to have a few pals standing by to help out. For its part, SCI bills itself as "the largest provider of funeral, cremation, and cemetery services in North America", although others remember it more fondly as the firm at the centre of the scandal (lazily) dubbed "Funeralgate". That was an investigation into alleged unlicensed embalming, which almost brought the then Governor Bush to the stand when an ousted investigator sued the state. The case was settled and has since been largely forgotten. That's all right, then.

· Incidentally, Kenyon was also called to action in Iraq and New York after September 11.

More here.

You can bet Bush won't expect Halliburton and Kenyon and other Bush/Cheney business cronies to accept cut-rate fees for THEIR work.

(3) Bush is playing his usual sleight-of-hand by shifting blame from his own administration's failures to Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, while praising Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, a Republican. Avoiding the mostly-black New Orleans, he has been photographed strolling along the mostly-white Mississippi Gulf Coast.

(4) Bush has pledged to conduct his own investigation into the failures of emergency management in the aftermath of Katrina.

If this follows the pattern of his so-called search for the administration leaker who exposed a covert CIA agent's cover to revenge her husband's criticism of the war in Iraq, he will look everywhere except in his own house.

(5) After a week of candid and courageous news coverage exposed the failures of FEMA and the lack of leadership asserted by the president, the administration has declared a sort of "media martial law," forbidding the photographing of the dead and barring journalists from areas that just days earlier were open to them.

These are merely a few among many incidents and actions that illustrate the fact that Bush is a man-child who operates from a very limited playbook. It's as if Karl Rove is a coach who understands that his star quarterback is of limited intelligence and ability and so designs a mere half-dozen plays to be repeated ad nauseum. But hey, it's worked so far, hasn't it?


U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's visit to Reliant Park this morning offered him a glimpse of what it's like to be living in shelter.

While on the tour with top administration officials from Washington, including U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao and U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, DeLay stopped to chat with three young boys resting on cots.

The congressman likened their stay to being at camp and asked, "Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?"

They nodded yes, but looked perplexed.

More here.

Thursday, September 8


"I'm going to later visit, as you know, a shelter that's here. I wanted to visit another shelter. I've visited several so far. All of them have been organized and run very, very well for the benefit of the people who are having to be sheltered, who are choosing that." -- Laura Bush, from an interview today at a school she was visiting

Yes, those people have so many options, and a crowded shelter just seemed so appealing the choice was easy to make.


"Kyra, if you want to make a case for the White House, you should go on their payroll." -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to CNN's Kyra Phillips


Texas Senator John Cornyn (R) was a guest yesterday afternoon on Dallas talk station KRLD's Greg Knapp Experience. I tuned in late, but I heard enough. The usual Republican talking points were asserted as fact, and there was plenty of blame for those in New Orleans who failed to evacuate before Hurricane Katrina struck the area, with plenty to spare for Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco (D). Some highlights:

(1) Cornyn and Knapp agreed that the military couldn't be called in to help with the situation unless Gov. Blanco specifically ceded jurisdiction to the Chimpster because of the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, the original purpose of which was to remove the Army from domestic law enforcement. The intent of the act is to prevent the military forces of the United States from becoming a national police force, and so prohibits the use of the military to “execute the laws.”

In fact, as this article posted on Homeland Security's own web site demonstrates, the argument is patently false. And there's this from the Washington University Law Quarterly:

The PCA proscribes use of the army in civilian law enforcement, but it has not prevented military assistance in what have been deemed national emergencies, such as strike replacements and disaster relief.

Kos has more on the subject, specifically addressing whether or not the governor was obliged to sign over jurisdiction in order to override the PCA.

(2) Cornyn said that the people of New Orleans "didn't take the warnings seriously. They couldn't or wouldn't some cases."

(3) When Knapp asked Cornyn his opinion of a Democratic call for an independent investigation, Cornyn stated that "some politicians" are grandstanding. Knapp asked whether it wasn't Congress's job to provide oversight and investigate, and Cornyn agreed.

Switched over to Sean Hannity and heard the proponent of the "Hanniticization of America" assert that we've experienced three tragedies related to Katrina, the obvious first two being the hurricane itself and the flooding of New Orleans. The third, according to Hannity, was the "looting, lawlessness and mayham that required the police and fire departments to divert their efforts from rescue operations, resulting in lost lives." To listen to Hannity, you'd have thought there was massive armed combat in New Orleans that rivaled the insurgency in Iraq. Guest Boyce Watkins, author of If George Bush Were a Black Man (and several books for parents to help their children succeed in college), told Sean, "You're focused on petty looting instead of the real issues" and refused to condemn wholesale the theft of multiple pairs of bluejeans and flat-screen TVs by people who had no electricity. Sean, who screamed at the man throughout the entire interview and made it nearly impossible to understand a single statement he made, shouted at him, "You're reprehensible, the worst of the worst." As Watkins futilely attempted to explain the experience and consequences of chronic, generational poverty, Hannity continued to excoriate him for a "failure of moral leadership" because he wouldn't concede that the looting caused people to die. If Hannity was as concerned for the those who died because George Bush couldn't be bothered to cut short his five-week vacation and FEMA director Michael Brown neglected to ask Homeland Security for any help until hours after Katrina hit and gave the 1,000 workers he requested a full 48 hours to report for duty, I didn't notice it.

On the KRLD morning show yesterday, Ankarlo Mornings, guest James Hirsen of, repeated the canard that Gov. Blanco had still failed to declare a state of emergency as of Sept. 4. Ankarlo apparently had not followed the news carefully or he would have known that, in fact, Blanco formally declared a state of emergency the day before Katrina struck.

And last but not least, every single right-wing radio show I've listened to over the past few days, including Michael Medved, Michael Savage, and Glen Beck along with Knapp, Hannity and Ankarlo, has decried the "blame game" Democrats are allegedly conducting while devoting a good portion of their show to blaming Blanco, New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin, the Democratic Party, liberals and the victims of the disaster. If their hypocrisy has limits, I've yet to discover them.


Haroon Siddiqui compares Bush's actions re Louisiana with those in Iraq and Egypt:

In Iraq, victory is always said to be around the corner — with the transfer of "sovereignty" to the locals, with the elections and now with the new constitution. As historic as the document is, few Iraqis care. They won't until they, too, receive some relief from their endless misery.

Exaggerations also mark the administration's hailing of the ostensible arrival of democracy in Egypt, its other Arab client state.

Under American pressure, Hosni Mubarak, the pharaoh in power since 1981, permitted competition in the presidential election yesterday, thusly: Voter registration was closed before the announcement of the contest.

The strongest opposition, the Islamic Brotherhood, was barred from fielding a candidate.

The only ones on the ballot were those with the signatures of 65 members of the lower house of parliament, 25 of the upper house, and 10 of municipal councils, all controlled by Mubarak.

The election commission banned election monitors, foreign or local.

On the eve of the election, in an unrelated incident, a fire broke out at a student theatre, killing more than a dozen young people. Among the first to arrive at the scene were not the firefighters and ambulance and aid workers but armoured riot police to secure the site — just like in Louisiana.


More evidence that the Bush administration has learned nothing about combating terrorism since 9/11. A comment from the New America Foundation conference, “Terrorism, Security and America’s Purpose: Towards a More Comprehensive Strategy”:

What was so bad about Mr. Zarate’s speech? In a nutshell, the Deputy National Security Advisor for Combatting Terrorism conveyed both explicitly (by what he said in his speech) and implicitly (by what he failed to say) that he has ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE about “combatting terrorism.” It’s frightening to consider, but apparently the Bush Administration has learned nothing in four years. Apparently, the only thing it has to offer on “combatting terrorism” is a Tarzan-like “us good, them bad, we kill bad terrorists” pablum. But then again, they already knew all the answers even before 9/11, didn’t they?

Anyway, all we got today from Mr. Zarate was the usual Bush Administration propaganda about how we’re “rounding ‘em up and hauling ‘em in,” how we’re systematically destroying the ability of Al Qaeda to operate effectively, and basically how we’re winning winning WINNING!!! I guess the theory is that if you repeat the same lies enough times with enough fake enthusiasm, maybe someone will believe them? Or at least you can convince yourself that you’re doing the right thing?

What I also found extremely jarring - and disturbing — about Mr. Zarate’s speech was that he — and, by extension, the Bush Administration — hadn’t listened to one word that had been spoken over the two days of this important conference. And Mr. Zarate certainly didn’t stick around to find out, almost literally running out the door without taking any questions — as almost all the other speakers did during the conference. His excuse, of course, was that he had to get right back to the White House. Yeah, I’m sure he did…nasty “war on terrorism” to fight and all. And tough, nasty questions from the mean audience of “experts” awaiting him if he stayed.

The bottom line is that, four years after 9/11, the Bush Administraiton shows no sign of having learned a damn thing about America’s vulnerabilities, its enemies, its first response capabilities, or pretty much anything else. As far as I could tell from today’s speech, there’s not even a glimmer of comprehension as to what we’re facing, who we’re fighting, where we’re headed, or just about anything else related to the “war on terror.” And the Bush Administration certainly show no sign of having listened to any serious terrorism or national security experts the past four years, if Mr. Zarate’s speech is any indication.

What’s so truly frightening about all this is the fact that — like it or not — the Bush Administration (barring impeachment) is in charge of our country’s national security for the next three years. Unfortunately, if Mr. Zarate’s speech today is representative, we’re in deep, deep trouble. Personally, I recommend that you batten down the hatches, stock up on food and water, get yourself some Cipro, and hone your personal escape plans, because this could be a really bad three years.

Wednesday, September 7


Tom Friedman is the shrill one today:

As my Democratic entrepreneur friend Joel Hyatt once remarked, the Bush team's philosophy since 9/11 has been: "We're at war. Let's party."


Oh, you won't believe what Arizona Senator Jon Kyl said.

If you follow his logic, nobody should be allowed to live in Florida or any state near the Gulf Coast. Oh, but hurricanes also strike the East Coast, so we should depopulate Georgia, the Carolinas, and points north also. And since California is vulnerable to earthquakes, that's no place to live either. (Oops, there's a fault line running from Arkansas up to Canada. There go another few states. But maybe Kyl doesn't think it poses a consistent enough threat.) And oh yes, let's not forget the desert states, which, as Buck at Bad Attitudes points out, require tons of water from other states and considerable federal assistance on an ongoing basis. And what about the "tornado alley" of Kansas, northern Texas and Oklahoma? Would Kyl feel the same way about those areas as he does New Orleans?

Come to think of it, it WOULD break up some Republican strongholds.


My husband The Sage just got a call from Chase/Bank One (after 8 p.m.) where the telephone representative advised him to make a payment on our education loan (for one of our kids) over the telephone, in order to avoid a $39 late fee.

"Wait a minute," Sage said. "Our payments are due on the 28th of each month, and we're up to date. Why would we incur a late fee? And why would the late fee be almost equal to the monthly installment?"

"So you won't have to worry about being late," the rep said.

"You're telling me to pay three weeks before the installment is due so I won't have to worry?" Sage countered.

"You wouldn't want us to call the credit agency to report you as being late," the rep went on.

"When, exactly, would you be reporting me late since it's three weeks early?"

"I can't give you that information."

"I think this conversation is over," said Sage as he hung up the phone.


This straightforward reporting struck me as hysterically funny in several places.

President Bush, facing a political crisis over the government's handling of relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, announced yesterday that he would lead his own investigation of what went wrong.

Oh, that's rich. Dubya has built into his administration a culture that shouts "be loyal or you will pay for it." That's hardly likely to encourage FEMA employees or anyone else that ultimately reports to BushCo to tell the truth. Besides, no one would believe that Bush would want any truth that might reflect poorly on his appointees. We have the example of the Plame case for proof. "I want to know the truth," the president said at a press conference in Chicago in February 2004. "Leaks of classified information are bad things." Bush said he told his administration to cooperate fully with the investigation and said he'd asked anyone with knowledge of the case to come forward. Did Rove, Libby et al? Hell, no.

...Mr Bush also declared that he was sending Vice-president Dick Cheney to the ravaged Gulf coast region to assess recovery operations, and remove "any bureaucratic obstacles that may be preventing us from achieving our goals".

Sound of hollow laughter. Dick Cheney, who spent nearly a week after Hurricane Katrina struck on vacation in Wyoming and house-hunting for a Chesapeake mansion near Donald Rumsfeld's, has shown no concern to this point about the victims of the storm and his administration's failures. "That is a cruel joke," said Derrick Z. Jackson in the Boston Herald today. "Everyone knows that if New Orleans had been wasted by terrorists and weapons of mass destruction, Cheney would have been Bush's man on the spot proclaiming our need to root out evil."

...The seriousness of the political storm Mr Bush is facing was vividly illustrated yesterday by an editorial in the staunchly conservative Wall Street Journal which warned "the aftermath of Katrina poses a threat to his entire second term".

The usually supportive editorial page concluded: "What's really at stake in the coming months is the Republican claim to be the governing party."

Another laugh line. The Republicans have been claiming not to be the governing party, but the anti-governing party. Their favorites spout ideologies such as "I'd like to shrink government until it can be drowned in the bathtub." They've traditionally espoused anti-big-government positions, though the reality, under Bush, has been the opposite, the rapid growth of the federal government, but not so it could do anyone but a millionaire any real good.

...Mr Bush insisted he would not be drawn into the "blame game", but echoed an argument his aides have been making - that the primary responsibility lay with state and local authorities.

What's there to say? The irony of the sentence speaks for itself. And I love The Guardian for pointing out the hypocrisy of Bush's statement.

...Meanwhile Mr Bush, already under pressure for the impression that he has been unable to empathise with the poor, mainly black victims of the disaster, was not helped by remarks made by his mother, Barbara, after touring a relief centre in Texas.

"What I'm hearing which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality," Mrs Bush told the Public Broadcasting Service. "And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."

Thank you again, Guardian, for reminding your readers of the evidence that the Bushes have no sympathy, empathy, or even sensitivity. Too bad American voters are unlikely to read about it.

The NY Times weighs in.


Robert Scheer is right on:

For half a century, free-market purists have to great effect denigrated the essential role that modern government performs as some terrible liberal plot. Thus, the symbolism of New Orleans' flooding is tragically apt: Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and Louisiana Gov. Huey Long's ambitious populist reforms in the 1930s eased Louisiana out of feudalism and toward modernity; the Reagan Revolution and the callousness of both Bush administrations have sent them back toward the abyss.

Now we have a president who wastes tax revenues in Iraq instead of protecting us at home. Levee improvements were deferred in recent years even after congressional approval, reportedly prompting EPA staffers to dub flooded New Orleans "Lake George."

None of this is an oversight, or simple incompetence. It is the result of a campaign by most Republicans and too many Democrats to systematically vilify the role of government in American life.


Read this. Just trust me.

These two avoidable disasters – New Orleans and Iraq – have inflicted a massive double blow to American prestige. A country that can go to war by mistake and mislay the lives of thousands of its own inhabitants, does not credit the name of superpower. The economic impact is already being seen in the price of petrol and the collapse of the dollar. But it is first a moral rather than an economic crisis for Republican America. The superpower that won the Cold War is beginning to resemble the one it defeated. Like Putin's Russia, America is looking like a belligerent country, with a dysfunctional democracy, a third-rate leadership and intractable social problems bogged down in war it cannot win.

...It brings no satisfaction to see America humbled. The land that used to be the beacon for the free world has become an international pariah. This is Bush's black September.

Macwhirter gives Bush too much of a pass on the ineptitude of the federal hurricane relief effort. He thinks Bush is a hayseed figurehead who bungled an opportunity to look strong and leaderlike as opposed to his 9/11 flight to safety in a bunker. But the piece does discuss the various theories of WHY this happened and is gloriously blunt in his assessments of the Chimpster's abilities.

To see what other foreign papers are saying about the crisis, click here. It isn't pretty.


(With apologies to Arlo Guthrie)

Stranded in the city of New Orleans
Many thousands watch the levees fail
Daring flooded streets to get to safety
Hopes and cries for help do not avail

And on their desperate odyssey the stream of dire humanity
Find shelter fraught with perils so surreal
Their hunger biting, children cry, the poor and old and weak they die
And no one comes to answer their appeal

Good mornin' America, how are you?
Don't you know me? I'm your native sons!
I'm the pain they call the city of New Orleans
I'll be gone 500 miles when the week is done.

Days go by, with all the nation watching
Tens of thousands wretchedly await
But no rescue comes and all the world starts wond’ring
If to die in squalor was their fate

And the president flies overhead and worries ‘bout Trent Lott instead
What does his strange reaction there betray?
And mothers clutch their fevered babes while politicians exchange praise
And promise aid in practiced, smooth clichés.

Good mornin' America, how are you?
Don't you know me? I'm your native sons!
I'm the pain they call the city of New Orleans
I'll be gone 500 miles when the week is done.

Night time in the city of New Orleans
Darkness reigns, dismay is in the air
Thirst and hunger raging, gunshots echo,
Punctuating infinite despair.

And all the domes and people seem to play into macabre dreams
But FEMA says it still ain’t heard the news
The pres makes no apologies, a million more are refugees
A city lost while Dubya took a snooze.

Good night America, how are you?
Don't you know me? I'm your native sons!
I'm the pain they call the city of New Orleans
I'll be gone 500 miles when the week is done.

Monday, September 5


PSoTD nails it perfectly. Bush has nothing to offer the country in times of crisis except "revenge and retribution."

Some are saying there's a big difference in Bush with the Katrina disaster versus 9/11.

Not much different with him.

The difference is in the situation.

When Bush stood in New York and yelled in the bullhorn that "soon the people that did this will hear from all of us," he promised revenge and retribution. Not protection. Not help. Not wisdom.

America had a hearty appetite for revenge and retribution after 9/11. This country ate Bush's words up.
You can't promise revenge and retribution against a hurricane. You can't say we're going to get even with Mother Nature. And he has nothing else to promise. His administration didn't figure out how the federal government could responsibly work to better protect New Orleans. He wasn't able to figure out that he was needed immediately to show that the federal government was ready to help. Only an ever-shrinking minority believes his "wisdom" after seeing how screwed up Iraq has been.

Retribution and revenge is worthless to the American people in this situation. That is Bush's political problem. Personally, he has little else to offer.

Well, except more tax cuts for the wealthy.


Barbara Bush may have money, but she sure has no class.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush said Monday that living in the Astrodome in Houston was working out well for many of the 15,000 hurricane victims there because they were underprivileged anyway.

And Jeb Bush showed what a jerk he is at the Florida State-University of Miami game tonight. Just before the second half began Brent Musberger remarked to the Governor, "I guess as governor of the entire state you have to root for both teams. What do you do, sit with one team during one half and then switch over? You have voters in Dade County [Miami] just as you do Leon County [Tallahassee]."

Jeb replied, "Well, as a second-term governor I can reveal that I'm a 'Canes [Miami Hurricanes] fan."

He just revealed that he doesn't give a flip about the voters' FEELINGS, only their votes. And so typical Bush. Support the private, high-tuition school over the state university. He probably considers them more his own kind.


John Roberts has been nominated by Dubya to serve as the 17th Chief Justice of the United States.

Bush expects his confirmation within a month. The new court session begins October 3.

Not a single Democratic Senator is on record as opposing the Roberts nomination to the Associate Justice position.

I can’t help but suspect that Justice Antonin Scalia is suffering some disappointment at not being elevated.

Sunday, September 4


I came across a fascinating Frontline interview with Jim Wallis, author of God's Politics. Wallis lends great insight into the "evangelical" movement's conversion to conservative politics over the past several decades. It's of particular interest to those who wonder how denominations like the Southern Baptist Convention could switch from championing the separation of church and state to being one of the foremost advocates of obliterating that doctrine.

There's also a revealing statement by Dubya: "Afterwards, [when] he was talking to us, George W. took me aside and said, "'Jim, I don't understand poor people. I don't live, never lived around poor people. I don't know [how] poor people think. Frankly, I'm a white Republican guy who just doesn't get it'...I said, "You need to listen to poor people, and people who work and live with poor people.'"

That's as good an explanation as any for why Bush et al failed to respond to the desperate plight of the poor in New Orleans before and after Hurricane Katrina struck and the levees failed. He just doesn't relate to, or consider, that poor people might not be able to afford to evacuate, that they might not own their own transportation, be able to afford hotel rooms and high gas prices, that their income might not stretch to the end of the month. So to Dubya, Chertoff, Michael Brown and their ilk, it's the people's fault that they didn't evacuate. "They" just didn't listen to or take seriously the warnings. But the truth is, it's the Bushies who weren't listening.

Here's an excerpt from the interview:

Then Sept. 11 came. I think his role changed dramatically, his notion of himself and his place in history, and he became commander in chief of the war on terrorism. The self-help Methodist became now almost a messianic American Calvinist, speaking of the mission of America, and even of his perhaps divine appointment to be president at a time such as this.

This raises some deep and unsettling theological questions, I think, whether there's a confusion now in the role of church and nation -- the body of Christ, the Christian community, what its role is versus the role of the nation.

Hymnology is often used in the president's speeches, and his 2003 State of the Union. There's "wonder-working power" in the faith and values of the American people. Well, that's not what the song says. Those of us who are evangelical hear that song, "Wonder-Working Power" -- it's a hymn. "There's wonder-working power in the blood of the Lamb," the song says, which means the salvation in Christ, not in the values of the American people. It's not what the song says.

Or Ellis Island, on the first anniversary of Sept. 11. He talked about how America stands as a beacon of light to the world, and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Well, that's in the Gospel of John. But the light there is the word of God, and the light of Christ, not the beacon of American freedom. So hymns are being altered and put in a different context. I think what you see now is more an American civil religion than evangelical biblical faith.

… That's bad theology. It confuses American civil religion and biblical faith. It confuses church and nation. It confuses God's purposes with the best interests for American foreign policy, so there's a confusion here. It's bad theology and bad foreign policy at the same time.
[emphasis mine]


Eric Margolis tips us off to the big story we missed while watching images of the hurricane-ravaged U.S. Gulf Coast.

The U.S. Air Force's senior officer, Gen. John Jumper, stated U.S. warplanes would remain in Iraq to fight resistance forces and protect the American-installed regime "more or less indefinitely." Jumper's bombshell went largely unnoticed due to Hurricane Katrina.

Gen. Jumper let the cat out of the bag. While President George Bush hints at eventual troop withdrawals, the Pentagon is busy building four major, permanent air bases in Iraq that will require heavy infantry protection.

Jumper's revelation confirms what this column has long said: The Pentagon plans to copy Imperial Britain's method of ruling oil-rich Iraq. In the 1920s, the British cobbled together Iraq from three disparate Ottoman provinces to control newly-found oil fields in Kurdistan and along the Iranian border.


A step-by-step look at an Iraqi program that never existed.


This is long, so if you want to read it, check the comments.


Mike Leavitt, Secretary of HHS on Wolf Blitzer just now.

Wolf: Do you know how many have died?

Leavitt: It's a lot.

Wolf: Hundreds? Thousands?

Leavitt: Thousands.


"The question, Who lost New Orleans? will plague Bush during his second term. I think this thing is going to divide us racially and politically and poison us for the remainder of the Bush term," said Pat Buchanan.

This is long, so if you're interested, read the comments.


Greg Palast has a must-read.

I realize that the middle of a rising flood is a hell of a bad time to give Democrats swimming lessons; but it's act up now or we all go under.