An End To The FEMA-NoLA Follies In Sight?

February 27, 2009

femaThis story from CBS News tells us that, as a result of their investigation into “cronyism, sexual harassment and racial discrimination in their New Orleans office” that yielded “more than 30 complaints,” U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu called for the resignation yesterday of Doug Whitmer, FEMA chief of staff of the Louisiana Transitional Recovery Office in New Orleans.

Also, this story tells us that…

President Obama hasn’t yet named a FEMA administrator, but is said to be considering two potential nominees: Ellen Gordon, a former Iowa emergency response manager who is now associate director of the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security, and Craig Fugate, head of Florida’s emergency management agency.

And concerning Homeland Security Secretary (and former Arizona governor) Janet Napolitano (who seems to be willing to go along either way concerning whether or not FEMA stays in her organization), she appeared before Congress recently (here), where she was lambasted by Repug U.S. House Rep Peter King of New York for “failing to use the word ‘terrorism’ in her remarks” (yeah…to paraphrase that great quote about Former PA Senator Man-On-Dog, King is one of the greatest minds of the 19th century, as noted here).

Another thing – I keep mentioning this guy out there since he’s still in exile of sorts over his little dalliance that cost him his presidential aspirations, but I mean, c’mon people! It’s not like he has a hell of a lot to do at the moment, I’m sure.

edwards_013008
Just put him in charge of the FEMA Louisiana Transitional Recovery Office after Whitmer is gone and see what happens, OK? Hell, don’t even pay him for a three-month probationary period if you want. If he doesn’t do a good job and you end up “booting” him, then what have you lost?

Update 3/4/09: Looks like Fugate will get the nod to run FEMA based on this, which is an even better reason to give Edwards a shot, IMHO.


Paying Homage To “The Great Orange Satan”

February 26, 2009

markos_head_squareI happened to come across the following from Time Magazine online; namely, their yearly rankings of their Top 25 favorite blogs, and their least favorite five, “spanning politics, housekeeping, astronomy and everything in between” according to Tom McNichol.

The Top 25 has some choices that I think are astute, including Josh Marshall’s “Talking Points Memo” at number 1. HuffPo ranks Number 2, and The Daily Dish by Andrew Sullivan rates Number 5 on their list (I think that’s being charitable, but I realize that this stuff is highly subjective). However, “The Conscience Of A Liberal: Paul Krugman” chimes in at Number 10, as it were, with “Crooks and Liars” at Number 11.

(And as I scanned down the list, I checked for National Review Online, Red State, Little Green Footballs, Michelle Malkin, Power Line, World Net Daily, etc., and gosh darn it, none of those “winger” sites made it to the list. Color me shocked!)

Well then, you may be curious to find out which five sites were “cast out” by Time, then (for this year, anyway). That list includes supposed financial guru Jim Cramer (who, rather stupidly I thought, told people to “go to the mattresses” with their money here, captured by Josh Marshall’s TPM site as it turns out).

And also on the “jive five” list for ‘09 is The Daily Kos.

Now as I said, I realize that this stuff is subjective. However, get a load of what the “blog raters” had to say about the site in 2008 here, which I believe was the first year Time provided these lists…

Sample Daily Kos Post: It sickens the heart, the carnage that George W. Bush unleashed upon both our countries. No death is insignificant. The deaths of these four souls are just as lamentable as all those that have preceded, and all those that will surely follow while American forces remain in the midst of this civil war. When will the President apologize for what he has wrought?

(And keep in mind that this is what Time said when they liked the site.)

Yes, I will grant you that that was an excerpt from a real live ’08 post by Daily Kos diarist smintheus. However, I believe that, at that time, Time still didn’t know what the site was about if they thought that post, by itself, represented a site with such diverse viewpoints (and lively ones also…actually, “cranky,” “agitated,” “have to ‘talk down from the ledge’” is more apropos, and yes, I realize I know something of that myself).

So, with all of this in mind, here is what Time said for this year…

Markos Moulitsas — alias “Kos” (pictured) — created Daily Kos in 2002, a time he describes as “dark days when an oppressive and war-crazed administration suppressed all dissent as unpatriotic and treasonous.” Be careful what you wish for. With the Bush years now just a memory, Kos’s blog has lost its mission, and its increasingly rudderless posts read like talking points from the Democratic National Committee.

Here is what I learned after a few visits to the site only for today:

  • New Attorney General Eric Holder will do away with Bushco’s idiotic “marijuana raids” at dispensaries where cancer patients obtain it for treatment.
  • General Motors lost more money in 2008 than was appropriated in the state budgets of Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Utah combined.
  • Republican junior senator Bob Bennett of Utah looks like a good bet for reelection in 2010 (so much for the part about “DNC talking points”).
  • The media ban at Dover Air Force Base where our returning heroes slain in Iraq and Afghanistan come home will be lifted at long last, or at least filming/photography will be left to the discretion of the immediate family of the fallen (thank God!).
  • New Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele is catching flak from conservatives because he apparently favors voting rights for the District of Columbia (serves him right).
  • The RNC may “cut off support” to pro-stimulus GOP senators (tee hee).
  • Also, as noted here, The Daily Kos “has an average weekday traffic of about 519,000 visits,[1] and has between 14 million and 24 million visits per month,” so somehow I have a feeling that no one at the site will be bothered much by what Time has to say about it.

    Finally, I should note that I learned from Kos diarist BarbinMD about this site, which fulfills an Obama campaign commitment to transparency in putting our tax dollars to work to end (someday) this horrible economic mess in which we’re currently mired.

    Not bad for a site that has “lost its mission,” huh?


    Dissecting Dubya’s “Binyam” Blunder

    February 25, 2009

    guantanamo_11329tFrom Monday’s White House press briefing (and again, what a difference between Robert Gibbs and Ari Fleischer/Scott McClellan/Tony Snow/Tony Fratto/Dana Perino here)…

    Q Binyam Mohammed, a Guantanamo detainee, arrived in Britain today. This would constitute the first Guantanamo detainee released freely into society. How does the administration respond to criticisms from some of the military families he met with just a couple of weeks ago that this is premature, it’s before the 180-day review is complete, and does not fulfill his promise to them and to the country at large that he would weigh all security implications before making a decision on a detainee for release?

    MR. GIBBS: Well, as you state, the President made a decision at the beginning of his administration to close the facility at Guantanamo Bay and to start a process of evaluating the detainees there in accordance with his solemn obligation to do all that he can to keep our country safe, to do it in a way that protects our men and women in uniform, and does so in accordance with our American values. That process, as you know, is ongoing.

    In terms of the specifics related to Mr. Mohammed’s case, I would point you to the Department of Justice. But the President feels confident that the process that his administration has undertaken will yield results that keep us safer.

    Q Can you comment in any way on how the administration decided this person was not only subject to release but would not pose a future danger to the country —

    MR. GIBBS: I would point you to Matt over at Justice.

    Well, in lieu of that, please allow me to present this story on Mohammed, which contains a timeline telling us all that is commonly known of him to date, including the fact that he was first “handed over to U.S. officials” in July 2002, then he was sent to Morocco for 18 months of torture, then to the “alleged” CIA-run ‘dark prison’ in Kabul, Afghanistan for five months and then to the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan for four months, then to Guantanamo in September 2004.

    And after the British government called for his release in August 2007, he was recharged in May 2008 before (surprise! surprise!) all charges against him were dropped by the departing regime cabal collection of thugs and pirates presidential administration in October 2008.

    So basically, President Fighting The Global War On Terra! Terra! Terra! Now And Forever You Chicken Obama-Speech-Lovin’ Luburuuls had OVER SIX YEARS to make a case against this guy, and he and his pals couldn’t do it.

    Anyone with even the faintest notions of anything approximating human decency knew that we had no legal alternative but to let Binyam Mohammed go.

    And let us hope and pray that Mohammed does not, by some miracle, “pose a future danger to the country.” Because if he does (assuming he was a threat to begin with and we couldn’t make the case, or we ended up radicalizing him while in our custody), then we have only ourselves to blame.


    Steve Looks Out For Our Kids

    February 24, 2009

    This story in the Bucks County Courier Times today tells us that…

    State Rep. Steve Santarsiero wants to prohibit Internet use by anyone convicted of committing a sexual offense using the Web.

    The statistics are sobering. One in five girls and one in 10 boys are sexually exploited before they reach adulthood.

    Additionally, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Youth Internet Survey shows that one in five children ages 10 to 17 has received unwanted sexual solicitations online.

    With that in mind, state Rep. Steve Santarsiero, D-31, hopes to introduce a bill early next month aimed at keeping sexual predators off the Internet. Specifically, Santarsiero’s proposal would prohibit Internet use by anyone convicted of committing a sexual offense using the Web and those required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law. The bill also would require all other convicted sex offenders to register with Pennsylvania State Police and reveal any online identities and Internet accounts they might have, including e-mail addresses, personal Web sites, online community memberships and chat room aliases, he said at a press conference Monday in Lower Makefield.

    Joining Santarsiero was Lower Makefield police Chief Ken Coluzzi, who called the proposal “a great piece of legislation.”

    “Obviously it is hard to monitor sex offenders until they do something wrong. + But we can keep these predators away from our schools, why not keep them away from our children when they are home,” Coluzzi said.

    Santarsiero calls his planned bill, the Pennsylvania Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act (PA e-STOP) which he said would protect children surfing the Web from online sex offenders.

    (By the way, I have a message for the Courier Times copy editor in charge of this story; I corrected three misspellings of Steve’s last name. Can you please watch that next time?)

    I like the fact that this bill puts the onus on the offender, as opposed to former U.S. House Rep Mike Fitzpatrick’s infamous Deleting Online Predators Act, which instead put the onus on kids, as well as libraries and schools, that may be completely innocent of any wrongdoing, as noted here (it was hard not to escape the conclusion that the real aim of Mikey’s bill was to try and shut down social networking sites which could be used for political fundraising and organizing; the 2006 bill marked one of my infrequent disagreements with our incumbent 8th District U.S. House Rep, as noted here).


    So What Of President Stupid Head, Anyway?

    February 23, 2009

    I’m sure the folks at Elliott’s Hardware here are hard working and decent people, but apparently they must be utterly oblivious to the state of our economy, to say nothing of the overseas turmoil unresolved by their notorious “customer” (and gosh, so many ways to inflict punishment with garden tools and gas grills also – hell, the least they could have done was to trick him into sitting on a thumb tack).


    Sanity In Response To FOCA Agitation

    February 20, 2009

    spanishorig31As a Roman Catholic who lives in a fairly moderate area of Bucks County, PA (though the county itself definitely trends “culturally conservative,” with new voter registration only recently favoring Democrats over Republicans), I should tell you that I am continually bombarded from the pulpit with entreaties against abortion under any circumstances, which I realize is totally consistent with the policy of the Catholic Church (though not with all parishioners, including yours truly). I believe that, though there is most definitely a spiritual component to this argument that should be respected, there is also a medical component which should be respected as well concerning the health and well being of all parties involved, which I realized is too nuanced apparently for the Church to support.

    With all of this in mind, I should also tell you that, a few Sundays ago, we as congregants were implored in an unusually aggressive manner (for our church, anyway) to fill out cards to be sent to our two U.S. Senators (Bob Casey and Arlen Specter) and our U.S. Congressional Representative (Patrick Murphy) urging them not to support the Freedom of Choice Act (two Sundays prior to that one, a priest from the group Priests For Life spoke and conjured all kinds of desperate scenarios in the event that the FOCA was signed into law, with rhetoric such at that used here to be pretty typical of what was said at the homily).

    Well, imagine my surprise as I read this story…

    The U.S. Catholic Church’s crusade against the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) has all the hallmarks of a well-oiled lobbying campaign. A national postcard campaign is flooding the White House and congressional offices with messages opposing FOCA, and Catholic bishops have made defeating the abortion rights legislation a top priority. In the most recent effort to stop the bill, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia sent a letter to every member of Congress imploring them to “please oppose FOCA.”

    There is only one hitch. Congress isn’t about to pass the Freedom of Choice Act – because no such bill has been introduced in the current Congress.

    At a time when the United States is gripped by economic uncertainty and faces serious challenges in hot spots around the globe, some American Catholics are finding it both curious and troubling that their church has launched a major campaign against a piece of legislation that doesn’t exist and wouldn’t have much chance of becoming law even if it did. To many critics, it feels like the legislative equivalent of the dog that didn’t bark.

    What’s more, not only has the FOCA not been introduced or voted on, it has never even made it out of the committee where it originated (as the story tells us).

    And we also learn the following…

    A Freedom of Choice Act was introduced in the 108th and 110th Congresses (from 2003 to ’05 and ’07 to ’09, respectively) by Representative Jerold Nadler, a New York Democrat. It was developed at a time when the future of (Roe v. Wade) was in doubt because it was unclear if George W. Bush would have the opportunity to appoint another justice to the Supreme Court. But FOCA had a hard time gaining traction – even under Democratic control of Congress…

    Congressional Democrats have also been less than enthusiastic about the proposal. A spokesman for Nadler says that while he expects the legislation to be reintroduced, “it won’t be anytime soon.” Even if FOCA is reintroduced in the current Congress, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has indicated she has no intention of bringing it up for a vote. And even if she did, there are not enough votes in Congress to pass the bill.

    I don’t know about you, but I feel like I got “played” here more than just a little bit. And I’m not happy about it (I don’t have a link to a Gallup poll on this at the moment, but I recall that the FOCA didn’t even merit 50 percent approval among those polled – this, to me, has all the makings of another “non-controversy” concocted by those clueless “values voters,” like the supposed revival of the Fairness Doctrine).

    You know, I would really like to hear what the Church has to say about the “big picture” stuff going on in this country; I realize there’s only so much it can do about our collapsing economy and middle class, to say nothing of health coverage and the climate crisis, but even calling for prayerful intervention could only help, to say nothing of actual advocacy.

    But I suppose instances such as this will remain typical of the blinkered thinking of the institution as a whole and many of its supporters, to the point where Bob Casey, a pro-life Democrat, is pilloried because he doesn’t march in total lockstep with “the faithful” (and Casey, by the way, most definitely opposes the FOCA; I know, because I asked him about it myself).

    Update: And by the way, thanks to one of my “field correspondents” for the following (just to show how far anyone can go with extremism)…

    victor-stenger-bus


    Be Prepared…To Kill Trees

    February 19, 2009

    tree153
    I was alerted to this item from Working Assets/CREDO Mobile recently (though apparently the news story is a couple of weeks old), but I thought it was particularly worthy of mention.

    You see, it turns out that the Boy Scouts, under the radar of our dear corporate media cousins, have been selling off forest land like crazy…

    Five newspapers carried out an investigation that found dozens of examples in the past 20 years of Scout councils logging and selling land donated by people who wanted it to be preserved in its natural state and used for camping and similar activities. Some Scout properties that have been clear-cut contained vulnerable watersheds and wildlife.

    “In public, they say they want to teach kids about saving the environment,” said Jane Childers, a Scouting volunteer
    in Washington State. “But in reality, it’s all about the money.”

    Eugene Grant, board president of the Cascade Pacific Council in Portland, Ore., defended the sales, noting that the Boy Scouts’ ban on homosexuals and atheists has cost the organization donations and members.

    “The Boy Scouts had to suffer the consequences for sticking by their moral values,” Grant said.

    That’s one of the most disgusting copouts I’ve ever heard.

    It’s not about honoring “moral values.” It’s about obeying the law. And discrimination happens to be against the law!

    And to read about the travails of the local chapter of the Boy Scouts in this regard, to the point where they now have to pay market price for the premium digs they rent near Logan Square and the Philadelphia Art Museum, click here (by the way, when we last left this story, the Scouts had filed a federal suit against the city last December, as noted here – I guess, when all you have left to grasp at are straws…).

    Finally, this story tells us that “Tweety” himself is going to attend a Boy Scout fundraiser tonight in Johnstown/Somerset PA. I wonder if he’ll be impolite enough to broach the subject of how many more trees will be sold off to buy time for the Scouts to thumb their collective noses at the law of the land (with Matthews’ career in politics vanishing almost as fast as the timber).

    Update: I would call this a signal to the Scouts that it’s time to enter the 21st century, as they say.


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