Saturday, September 03, 2005

Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist Dies

Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist Dies
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died Saturday evening at his home in suburban Virginia, said Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg.

A statement from the spokeswoman said he was surrounded by his three children when he died in Arlington.

"The Chief Justice battled thyroid cancer since being diagnosed last October and continued to perform his dues on the court until a precipitous decline in his health the last couple of days," she said.

Labor Day - A Commitment to End Poverty

Labor Day - A Commitment to
End Poverty

I was saddened to see propaganda cross the internet newswire today. It was called Labor Day 2005: Five Reasons Not to Increase the Minimum Wage

In the aftermath of Hurrican Katrina, we see the poorest in our nation and how they struggle and suffer while we wake up in clean bedrooms, take our showers; while the end of summer transitioning into autumn is the heaviest thing crossing our minds. We may not be in the midst of the horror that we see on our television screens, but it bothers us. We realize how much we'll need to accomplish, as a nation, to help the displaced people of New Orleans who were, up until a week ago, "invisible people".

One first-hand accounting reveals what most of us are just beginning to understand:
As you know, thousands of others are not so fortunate and as you may know, most of them are African Americans who had no means to leave the city and only had a matter of minutes after the levy broke to get out of their houses. Also, please understand all the looters are NOT all criminals. People are starving to death in wet clothes and doing whatever they can to get water, clothes, diapers, bedding ANYTHING!!!
Once we take care of the imminent needs of those suffering on the Gulf Coast, we need to see an increase in our ongoing efforts to help lift the displaced people of New Orleans and all Americans out of poverty.

Many Americans are working two or three jobs, yet are still struggling to get by. They are working hard, but it is impossible for them to survive financially on a minimum wage job.

Former NC Senator John Edwards, who has made Poverty the issue of his life, recently said:
In a country of our wealth, it is wrong for someone to work full time and still not be able to make ends meet. A job should be a bridge out of poverty - an opportunity to achieve the American Dream. But for America's minimum wage workers, especially those with families, it is not.
Minimum wage workers in America make just under $11,000 annually - about $5,000 below the poverty line for a single mother with two children. The last increase came in the mid 1990s and since then, inflation has completely wiped out its impact. Although the American people overwhelmingly support raising the federal minimum wage, the Bush Administration and Republican Congressional leaders continue to block attempts to increase the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour. America's workers deserve better than this.

Organizations such as ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), labor unions, and other grassroots organizations, are working, together and individually, to create an America that rewards work, not wealth. ACORN is working with community organizations and labor allies to place minimum wage increases on the ballot in some targeted states in 2006. Last year, ACORN led the successful campaign to raise the minimum wage in Florida by $1.00 an hour.

If we want America to keep its good reputation as being the land of opportunity, it's time for us to consider being active in order to live up to that name. Raising the minimum wage and seeking a "living wage" should be fought for so that working Americans are not living in poverty.

For all Americans on this Labor Day, that is the message to which I believe we should commit ourselves.


ACORN needs your support to open a temporary national headquarters in Baton Rouge, Lousiana, and, as soon as possible, reopen their offices in New Orleans. As they get up and running, they will work to help secure the housing, community services, and other relief our communities will badly need. All of this will be expensive, so please consider a contribution to the ACORN Hurricane Recovery and Rebuilding Fund. (Read more about how these contributions will be used.)

The ACORN Hurricane board gives a lot of inside information and discussion about the aftermath of the floods and hurricane-damage.

After Katrina, Worldwide Energy Crisis Possible

After Katrina, Worldwide Energy Crisis Possible

Hurricane Katrina could spark a worldwide energy crisis if damage to U.S. refineries led to a big increase in U.S. purchases of European petrol. [Reuters]

For poorer Americans living from paycheck to paycheck, a sharp rise in the price of heating fuels this winter could be the difference between financial solvency and the personal disgrace of bankruptcy.

Where Was the Planning and Coordination?

Where Was the Planning and Coordination?

Why did it take six days before any sign of a coordinated rescue/relief/clean-up/repair effort was apparent in the wake of Katrina?

If you'd like to read non-partisan straight-talk about the massive failure of planning and coordination at all levels of government in the response to Hurricane Katrina, I recommend Jack Grant's "Accountability" post at Random Fate. A commenter named BOU posts:
"Being a Logistics Engineer for 17 years, this entire thing has made me sick. There have been failings from the bottom to the top… from personal responsibility in planning for their hurricane preparations, to the ciy of NOLA, to the State, to the Federal. I’ve never seen such a screw up on such a grandiose scale. I never imagined it."
At Daily Kos, an AP report is discussed. It says that "several states ready and willing to send National Guard troops to the rescue in New Orleans didn't get the go-ahead until days after the storm struck -- a delay nearly certain to be investigated by Congress."

Josh Marshall is skeptical about the Bush administration's storyline, as you will see in his introduction to an excerpt from a current Washington Post story about the delays.

Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu has made a serious charge, casting the President's sincerity in a dubious light. She is accusing his staff of staging a photo op at the scene of a levee break in New Orleans. She said:
".... perhaps the greatest disappointment stands at the breached 17th Street levee. Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment. The good and decent people of southeast Louisiana and the Gulf Coast – black and white, rich and poor, young and old – deserve far better from their national government."
The thoughts of many of the victims of this hurricane are going to pose a problem for government in the way in which government is viewed by the public. It will take a hell of a long time to erase inmages of poor black Americans pleading and crying for help from the collective memory of America.

"I don't treat my dog like that," we heard 47-year-old Daniel Edwards say near the convention center in New Orleans, as he pointed at an elderly woman dead in her wheelchair, covered up by a blanket, with another body lying beside her wrapped in a sheet. "You can do everything for other countries, but you can't do nothing for your own people," he added. "You can go overseas with the military, but you can't get them down here."

"We got dead bodies sitting next to us for days. I feel like I am going to die. People are going to kill you for water," Thomas Jessie, a 31-year-old roofer, told the AFP news agency after spending the night in the convention center. [BBC News]

"One guy jumped off a balcony. I saw him do it. He was talking to a lady about it. He said it reminded him of the war and he couldn't leave," one man in New Orleans said....a woman lay dead in a wheelchair on the front steps. A man was covered in a black drape with a dry line of blood running to the gutter, where it had pooled. Another had lain on a chaise lounge for four days, his stocking feet peeking out from under a quilt.. [New Orleans Left to the Dead and Dying ]

We saw one New Orleans citizen named Dwayne Jones approaching a reporter for MSNBC, saying that all he needed was a bullhorn and that his fellow citizens of New Orleans would listen to him and trust his leadership. He said he would be the voice for 25,000 people and all they needed and desired was a plan. He said that his desperate fellow citizens would not harm anyone - they just needed help. It was good of Dwayne Jones to take on such a leadership role - and pathetic and embarrassing to know all forms of government had failed him.

It's pretty tough to forget something like this.

A Baptist outreach minister in Virginia is calling for the President's resignation over this great failure in leadership.
As of this moment the general appearance to most of the country is that you protect the gas and oil companies but are punishing the black and the poor.

FEMA Directing Donations to Pat Robertson?

FEMA Directing Donations to
Pat Robertson?

Why is FEMA directing donations to Pat Robertson?

For Too Many Years

For Too Many Years

For too many years now, I've heard a lot of false and lofty rhetoric spoken in so-called "townhall meetings" where only a select Republican crowd was allowed inside. I could see these speeches on cable news, but I knew that I could never take part in them.

For too many years now, I have felt that I have been left behind. I understand that millions upon millions of Americans feel the same way that I feel.

For too many years now, we've been told that 9/11 united us in a common purpose and made us a better nation in the face of such tragedy. Far too many times, we've been told that the government of Iraq possessed WMD and was linked to the 9/11 hijackers. Too many times, we've heard that this link was our reason for making pre-emptive war upon Iraq, and now that the government has long been deposed and the "mission accomplished", we remain in a swirling quagmire.

For too many years, we've been told that with the new office of Homeland Security (with FEMA buried inside the office) we'd be well-prepared for a national emergency.

New Orleans has been practically wiped off the face of America, and it almost seems that in certain men's hearts, it was a righteous thing. In certain men's minds it was meant to be nature's last word, making New Orleans only a memory. In the President's agenda, when he knew a Category 5 storm was heading straight toward a city with known flooding issues, it was apparently a siuation not worth abandoning his 5-week-long vacation - at least not until he knew for sure the city had been decimated. After the flood, the President boldly told the lie that no one could have foreseen this flooding tragedy.

The American people are not only shocked by the government's slowness to action, they are disgusted.

In the past two days, ten people, who are not political by any stretch of the imagination, have sent me this e-mail - Vacation is Over... an open letter from Michael Moore to George W. Bush. It's cris-crossing Americans' e-mail path like wildfire.

For those Americans who are political animals and who have paid close attention to the dismal hyperbolic misleadings and the divisive rhetoric of the Bush administration, we see that the ineffective reaction, after Katrina, from government has killed off a lot of previous blind support and benefit of the doubt from many Americans.

Steve Gilliard says it in a very strong and clear way. There is no possibility of a mixed message in his words.
You say this isn't about politics? Fu*k you, this IS politics, real time, real life politics, where the insanity of all your ideas are exposed to the world for the fraud that they are. Tax cuts kill. Ask the relatives of the dead of the Gulf Coast.
He's angry with all those political creatures on the Right who have pumped this president up larger than life. He's angry with them for dividing Americans from one another, whether or not it was their intention.

I can't blame him.

This administration doesn't give a rat's ass about the poor in this country. A close look at every one of their policies will prove it. A close look at Grover Norquist and Karl Rove will prove it.

"Let's drown government in the bathtub" says Grover Norquist. It seems that nature helped Grover Norquist and his radical Republicans drown much more than government this past week. It literally drowned real Americans as a result of Norquist's brand of government inaction. America's confidence in their government has also been drowned.

For too many years, the Bush administration has been diverting our taxes to a place where the profit is higher for wealthy friends and political contributors. They've made blood and gunpowder stew out of Iraq while Nature has made a human gumbo out of New Orleans with no possible appropriate response here at home because of reduced availability of manpower.

It's unfortunate that it would take the poorest people among us having to suffer and die for the mainstream media's cameras to wake America up to the sickening fact that the public has been duped for too many years now.