Thursday, August 31, 2006

Must Watch Video: Keith Olbermann Delivers One Hell Of a Commentary on Rumsfeld
Keith Olbermann Delivers One Hell Of a Commentary on Rumsfeld
By: Jamie Holly

Keith had some very choice words about Rumsfeld’s "fascism" comments tonight (08/30/2006). Watch it, save it and share it.

Click here, then scroll down just a bit and click on the appropriate link to watch the video

Olbermann delivered this commentary with fire and passion while highlighting how Rumsfeld’s comments echoes other times in our world’s history when anyone who questioned the administration was coined as a traitor, unpatriotic, communist or any other colorful term. Luckily we pulled out of those times and we will pull out of these times.

Remember - Rumsfeld did not just call the Democrats out yesterday, he called out a majority of this country. This wasn’t only a partisan attack, but more so an attack against the majority of Americans.

The transcript of Keith’s comments tonight is available below.

[Editor's Note: Much better to watch the video to fully grasp what has occurred.]

The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and

shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.

Donald S. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable comments to the Veterans of Foreign Wars

yesterday demand the deep analysis - and the sober contemplation - of every


For they do not merely serve to impugn the morality or

intelligence - indeed, the loyalty — of the majority of Americans who

oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land;

Worse, still, they credit those same transient occupants - our

employees — with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither

common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad,

suggests they deserve.

Dissent and disagreement with government is the life’s blood of

human freedom; And not merely because it is the first roadblock against the

kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as "his" troops still

fight, this very evening, in Iraq.

It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile… it

is right — and the power to which it speaks, is wrong.

In a small irony, however, Mr. Rumsfeld’s speechwriter was

adroit in invoking the memory of the appeasement of the Nazis.

For, in their time, there was another government faced with true

peril - with a growing evil - powerful and remorseless.

That government, like Mr. Rumsfeld’s, had a monopoly on all the

facts. It, too, had the secret information. It alone had the true

picture of the threat. It too dismissed and insulted its critics in

terms like Mr. Rumsfeld’s - questioning their intellect and their


That government was England’s, in the 1930’s.

It knew Hitler posed no true threat to Europe, let alone


It knew Germany was not re-arming, in violation of all

treaties and accords.

It knew that the hard evidence it received, which

contradicted policies, conclusions - and omniscience — needed to be


The English government of Neville Chamberlain already knew

the truth.

Most relevant of all - it "knew" that its staunchest critics

needed to be marginalized and isolated. In fact, it portrayed the foremost

of them as a blood-thirsty war-monger who was, if not truly senile - at

best… morally or intellectually confused.

That critic’s name… was Winston Churchill.

Sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among us this

evening. We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing disagreement, the way

Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill.

History - and 163 million pounds of Luftwaffe bombs over England

- taught us that all Mr. Chamberlain had was his certainty - and his own

confusion. A confusion that suggested that the office can not only make the

man, but that the office can also make the facts.

Thus did Mr. Rumsfeld make an apt historical analogy.

Excepting the fact that he has the battery plugged in backwards.

His government, absolute - and exclusive - in its knowledge, is not the

modern version of the one which stood up to the Nazis. It is the modern

version of the government… of Neville Chamberlain.

But back to today’s Omniscients.

That about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused… is simply this:

This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely. And as such,

all voices count — not just his. Had he or his President perhaps

proven any of their prior claims of omniscience - about Osama Bin

Laden’s plans five years ago - about Saddam Hussein’s weapons four years ago

- about Hurricane Katrina’s impact one* year ago - we all might be able to

swallow hard, and accept their omniscience as a bearable, even useful

recipe, of fact, plus ego.

But, to date, this government has proved little besides its own

arrogance, and its own hubris.

Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or

intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to

Katrina, to the entire "Fog of Fear" which continues to enveloppe this

nation - he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies, have - inadvertently

or intentionally - profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.

And yet he can stand up, in public, and question the morality and

the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the

Emporer’s New Clothes.

In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised?

As a child, of whose heroism did he read?

On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day

to fight?

With what country has he confused… the United States of



The confusion we — as its citizens - must now address, is

stark and forbidding. But variations of it have faced our forefathers, when

men like Nixon and McCarthy and Curtis LeMay have darkened our skies and

obscured our flag. Note - with hope in your heart - that those earlier

Americans always found their way to the light… and we can, too.

The confusion is about whether this Secretary of Defense, and

this Administration, are in fact now accomplishing what they claim the

terrorists seek: The destruction of our freedoms, the very ones for

which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday in Salt Lake City,

so valiantly fought.


And about Mr. Rumsfeld’s other main assertion, that this country

faces a "new type of fascism."

As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew

everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he

said that — though probably not in the way he thought he meant it.

This country faces a new type of fascism - indeed.


Although I presumptuously use his sign-off each night, in feeble

tribute… I have utterly no claim to the words of the exemplary journalist

Edward R. Murrow.

But never in the trial of a thousand years of writing could I

come close to matching how he phrased a warning to an earlier generation of

us, at a time when other politicians thought they (and they alone) knew

everything, and branded those who disagreed, "confused" or "immoral."

Thus forgive me for reading Murrow in full:

"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty," he said, in 1954.

"We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction

depends upon evidence and due process of law.

"We will not walk in fear - one, of another. We will not be

driven by fear into an age of un-reason, if we dig deep in our history

and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men;

"Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to

defend causes that were - for the moment - unpopular."


Al Gore For President: The Man Meets The Moment

Huffington Post
Brent Budowsky
Al Gore For President: The Man Meets The Moment

Imagine this: a President of the United States with vast domestic and international experience who would aspire to unify the American people, uplift a reformed American politics, and inspire friends of freedom and democracy everywhere.

Imagine: a President who would assume office with commander in chief quality experience who would be trusted on matters of war and peace; and with a temperament that respects the breadth and diversity of the American Family and brings people together in common cause.

There will be other candidates for President who have much to offer and would deserve enthusiastic support. In my opinion, Al Gore is unique because of the extraordinary breadth of his experience, his ability to get ahead of the curve on cutting edge issues, and his vast knowledge that war and peace issues should be decided with integrity, clarity, and the full involvement of the American people, Congress, and allies.

Beyond all of the individual issues is this: the kind of America a Gore Presidency would bring, which would let loose the positive and creative energies of a good and great people, versus the kind of America George Bush has brought, which is what the overwhelming majority of the American people want to end.

Unlike virtually every major Democrat in Washington Al Gore was dead right about Iraq from day one. This commends him for the Presidency for two reasons, both equally important. The first reason is that with decades of national security experience he was wise enough and smart enough to know that the Iraq War was a tragic mistake. The second reason is profound: Al Gore had the courage and clarity to speak out clearly, forcefully, and unequivocally without the maneuvering and positioning that led virtually every leading Washington Democrat to be dead wrong.

Iraq alone should not be disqualifying. But this is the defining war of our times, and evaluating who should be leader of the free world and commander in chief, the fact that Al Gore was completely right and courageously straight is a monumental plus.

When George W. Bush took office, he was a man of enormous self-esteem but virtually zero knowledge of the world, zero understanding of foreign nations, zero understanding of military strategy or military life. When Al Gore was a young man he had vast curiosity about the world that continually expanded his knowledge throughout his life. He was not a war hero, but accepted the obligations of service, joined the military and had more world experience and war experience returning from Vietnam than George Bush did the day he took the oath of office as President.

Al Gore has been in a military family, respects military leaders, knows military issues, has experienced sacrifice in service, knows that American diplomatic leadership is essential to world security, would never send our troops to war without adequate support, and learned from long experience that mobilized support from democratic allies is vital for diplomatic and military initiatives.

If Al Gore becomes President and commander in chief on the day of his inaugural he would be one of the most qualitied leaders to ever assume the Presidency. Years in the House of Representatives, years in the United States Senate, eight years as one of the more active and respected Vice Presidents. Deep and serious involvement for decades in military strategy and global economics, an enormous body of first rate leadership in protecting the environment, advancing new technologies, and advocating a pro-America energy policy that aggressively promotes new energy sources to protect our security and our consumers.

These are not merely position papers, or bogus internet petitions that are little more than fund raising tools of the consultariat class. These are areas of leadership that comprise a lifetime body of work: serious, substantive and real.

These are initiatives of meat and potatoes, of impact and depth, that required substantial intellectual content, developed throughout thirty years of work, involving major collaboration with excerpts in the field, and often collaboration with interested Republicans and independents.

Since leaving the Vice Presidency, Gore could have made a small fortune through less noble pursuits, but has continued his life pattern of major leadership well beyond his opposition to the Iraq War.

Inconvenient Truth is a perfect example. He tapped decades of work with environmental leaders and scholarly knowledge; he worked with Hollywood in a higher pursuit of a major documentary that combined major intellectual quality with major public impact.

Gore combined his knowledge of environment and energy with his interest in financial markets and global economics, through Generation Investments which brings together enlightened money with socially conscious business.

Gore has spoken passionately and eloquently about the Bill of Rights, human rights, political freedom, checks and balances and American Constitutional democracy. Others have spoken out as well, but in considering which candidate best articulates the American idea I commend Gore's sweeping speech at Constitution Hall and other strong, detailed statements on these subjects.

Al Gore understands from many decades of real world experience and a lifetime body of work in the House, the Senate, and as Vice President that we have three branches of government, two major political parties, key allies around the world, and that ALL must be respected and involved on the great issues of security.

We are not a country with a French King who says "L'Etat C'est Moi" or a Nixonian President who says "I am the law". We are not a country where intelligence is distorted, where war is used for partisanship, where opponents are called traitors, where the Bill of Rights is bartered away, where Guantanamos are justified, where Congress is treated with contempt, where Courts are bypassed and ignored, where the American people are insulted with a politics of fear, where allies are demeaned, and Washington is turned into a capital of courtiers, sycophants and influence peddlers.

Al Gore does not blame the American people by suggesting we have psychological trauma because we know things have gone terribly wrong. Al Gore embodies the American people and the real America. Imagine the kind of country we will be, with a President who believes these things, based on decades of hard leadership, substantial experience, and achievement from a lifetime body of serious work.

There are other good candidates that will emerge. In my humble opinion, the man and the moment come together. The mission is clear, the moment is now, and the man is Gore.


Ohio to Delay Destruction of Presidential Ballots; More irregularities found in 2004 election ballots supervised by Governor candidate Blackwell

The New York Times
Ohio to Delay Destruction of Presidential Ballots

With paper ballots from the 2004 presidential election in Ohio scheduled to be destroyed next week, the secretary of state in Columbus, under pressure from critics, said yesterday that he would move to delay the destruction at least for several months.

Since the election, questions have been raised about how votes were tallied in Ohio, a battleground state that helped deliver the election to President Bush over Senator John Kerry.

The critics, including an independent candidate for governor and a team of statisticians and lawyers, say preliminary results from their ballot inspections show signs of more widespread irregularities than previously known.

The critics say the ballots should be saved pending an investigation. They also say the secretary of state’s proposal to delay the destruction does not go far enough, and they intend to sue to preserve the ballots.

In Florida in 2003, historians and lawyers persuaded state officials not to destroy the ballots in the 2000 presidential election, and those ballots are stored at the state archive.

Lawyers for J. Kenneth Blackwell, the Ohio secretary of state, said although he did not have the authority to preserve the ballots, Mr. Blackwell would issue an order in a day or two that delays the destruction and that reminds local elections officials that they have to consult the public records commissions in each county.

Federal law permits, but does not require, destroying paper ballots from federal elections 22 months after Election Day.

The critics say their sole interest in the question is to improve the voting system.

“This is not about Mr. Kerry or Mr. Bush or who should be president,’’ said Bill Goodman, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York group that is part of the lawsuit. “This is about figuring out what is not working in our election system and ensuring that every cast vote counts.

“There is a gap between the numbers provided in the local level records, which until recently no one has been allowed to see, and the official final tallies that were publicly released after this election, and we want to figure out why that gap is there.”

The planned action of Mr. Blackwell, a Republican who is running for governor, and the threatened suit could draw attention to possible irregularities in the election that he supervised.

The suit would follow what researchers call the first time anyone other than county and state officials in Ohio have been given such extensive access to the main material from the previous presidential election.

After eight months inspecting 35,000 ballots from 75 rural and urban precincts, the critics say that they have found many with signs of tampering and that in some precincts the number of voters differs significantly from the certified results.

In Miami County, in southwestern Ohio, official tallies in one precinct recorded about 550 votes. Ballots and signature books indicated that 450 people voted.

The investigation has not inspected all 5.6 million ballots in the election because the critics were not given access to them until January. That followed an agreement by the League of Women Voters, a plaintiff in another election suit against the state, that it was not contesting the 2004 results, Mr. Goodman said.

The new suit, to be filed in Federal District Court in Columbus, would be argued on civil rights grounds, saying the state deprived voters of equal treatment.

Last week, lawyers sent a legal notice to Mr. Blackwell notifying him that suit was pending and asking him to issue an administrative order directing the 88 county election boards to retain the 2004 records.

“The decision of who decides whether the records will be preserved is quite simply not the secretary’s to make,” said Robert A. Destro, a lawyer for the secretary of state’s office.

Mr. Destro said preservation decisions belonged to the county public records commissions, the county boards of elections and the Ohio Historical Society.

“But by issuing this order,” Mr. Destro added, “the secretary of state will prevent any records from being destroyed for at least several months while this matter is studied more closely.”

Steven Rosenfeld, a freelance reporter formerly with National Public Radio, said the investigative team analyzed three types of sources. They are poll books used by officials to record the names of voters casting ballots, signature books signed by voters and used to verify that signatures match registration records, and optical scan and punch card ballots, used by 85 percent of the voters in the state. The rest used touch-screen machines.

“We’re not claiming that what we found reveals a huge conspiracy,” Mr. Rosenfeld said. “What we’re claiming is that what we found at least reveals extremely shoddy handling of ballots, and there are some initial indications of local-level ballot stuffing.”

In Miami County, Mr. Rosenfeld said, the team found discrepancies of 5 percent or more in some precincts between the people in the signature books and the certified results.

In 10 southwestern counties, he said, the team found thousands of punch card ballots that lacked codes identifying the precinct where the ballot was cast. The codes are typically necessary for the machines processing the ballots to “know’’ to record which candidate receives the votes.

Mr. Rosenfeld is a co-author of a book that The New Press is to publish next month, “What Happened in Ohio?: A Documentary Record of Theft and Fraud in the 2004 Election.” The other co-authors are Harvey Wasserman, an election rights advocate and an adjunct professor of history at Columbus State Community College, and Robert J. Fitrakis, a lawyer who is running for governor as an independent.

Robert F. Bauer, a lawyer from Washington who represented Mr. Kerry and the Democratic National Committee on voting issues before the 2004 election, was skeptical about the critics’ case.

“The major discrepancies that they are identifying are not materially different than what has already been highlighted,” Mr. Bauer said.

On Tuesday, Mr. Kerry sent a fund-raising e-mail message calling for support for Representative Ted Strickland, the Democrat who is running for governor. Mr. Kerry wrote that Mr. Blackwell “used his office to abuse our democracy and threaten basic voting rights” in 2004.

Multiple suits failed in challenging the 2004 election in Ohio, and most studies after the election concluded that irregularities existed, but that they would not have changed the outcome.

In January 2005, the Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee issued a report finding “massive and unprecedented voter irregularities and anomalies” in the election.

In March 2005, the Democratic National Committee issued a report that said 2 percent of the Ohio electorate, or “approximately 129,543 voters,” had intended to vote but did not do so because of long lines and other problems at polling stations.

But the report said those and other frustrated voters “would not have erased Bush’s 118,000 vote margin in the state.”


Democrats accuse Rumsfeld of political smear

Democrats accuse Rumsfeld of political smear
By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats accused Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Wednesday of a political smear after he assailed critics of U.S. policy in Iraq and the war on terrorism in a speech recalling those who favored appeasing the Nazis before World War Two.

"If Mr. Rumsfeld is so concerned with comparisons to World War Two, he should explain why our troops have now been fighting in Iraq longer than it took our forces to defeat the Nazis in Europe," said Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, House of Representatives Democratic Leader.

"Desperate to divert attention from his many failures as Defense Secretary, Rumsfeld is resorting to tactics that would make Joe McCarthy proud," added Rep. Pete Stark of California, referring to the disgraced Republican senator who with scant evidence accused many Americans of being Communists or sympathizers in the 1950s.

"The sooner Rumsfeld resigns, the safer America will be," Stark added.

Their comments came a day after Rumsfeld, in a speech in Salt Lake City, took aim at war critics. Rumsfeld noted that some world leaders tried to appease Hitler's Germany in the 1930s, and some critics today "seem not to have learned history's lessons."

"With the growing lethality and the increasing availability of weapons, can we truly afford to believe that somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased?" Rumsfeld asked.

Rumsfeld said "any kind of moral or intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong can weaken the ability of free societies to persevere" in any long war.

Pentagon press secretary Eric Ruff said, "He was not accusing critics of this administration of being soft on terrorism or anything of that sort."

"The point of the speech," added Ruff, "was to raise these questions, and at the same time to remind us that ... it's not in America's best interest to turn your back on history. And the lessons of the '30s are pretty clear."

But Pelosi responded on Wednesday: "Secretary Rumsfeld's efforts to smear critics of the Bush administration's Iraq policy are a pathetic attempt to shift the public's attention from his repeated failure to manage the conduct of the war competently."

Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, a member of the Armed Services Committee and retired Army officer, said, "Secretary Rumsfeld continually substitutes sloganeering for strategy. And any strategy relies not only on a plan, but also adequate resources. And in the case of Iraq, there was no adequate planning and insufficient resources from the very beginning."

"If there is a moral and intellectual confusion about this war, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is the one that is confused. His overly optimistic mischaracterizations of this war continue to confuse and dishearten Americans," added Rep. Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and a leading critic of the Iraq war.


Continuing the politicalization of the war, Bush launches push to counter Iraq war criticism

Bush launches push to counter Iraq war criticism
By Caren Bohan

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) - For the third time in less than a year and two months before crucial U.S. elections, President George W. Bush is launching a new campaign to counter opposition to the Iraq war with a series of speeches he insists are not political.

The first of the speeches is planned for Thursday at the American Legion annual convention in Salt Lake City and Bush will continue the theme of the Iraq war and national security through mid-September, coinciding with the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

After a surge in violence in the past few months, Bush will acknowledge "that these are unsettling times," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said. But he will discuss the Iraq war in the broader context of the war on terror, she said.

Democrats have pressed for a timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. But Bush argues that a premature exit would embolden al Qaeda and leave Americans more vulnerable to another terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

Iraq has emerged as a top issue in the run-up to November's congressional elections. Democrats hope to win control of at least one chamber of Congress and many believe disillusionment with the Iraq war could boost their chances.

Democrats and Republicans accuse each other of politicizing the war debate.

Bush, visiting Little Rock, Arkansas, to raise money for Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson, rejected any tie between politics and the blitz of speeches on Iraq.


"My series of speeches, they are not political speeches, they are speeches about the future of this country and they are speeches to make it clear that if we retreat before the job is done, this nation will become in even more jeopardy," he said.

"These are important times and I would seriously hope people wouldn't politicize these issues that I am going to talk about," Bush added.

Bush later hit some of his themes about the war at a fundraiser for a Republican Senate candidate in Nashville, Tennessee.

"The stakes in Iraq are high," Bush said, warning that a premature withdrawal would lead militants to "follow us here."

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made a similar case on Tuesday but took it a step further by likening war critics to those who argued for appeasing the Nazis during World War Two. He spoke to the same American Legion veterans Bush is due to visit on Thursday.

The comparison stirred outrage among Democrats.

"We Democrats want to fight a very strong war on terror," said Charles Schumer, a New York senator. "No one has talked about not doing everything we can to make sure we win this war on terror."

Bush's popularity ratings are hovering in the high 30 percent range, only slightly better than record lows earlier this year, making him a liability for many in his party. Yet voters give him his highest marks for his handling of the war on terrorism.

Perino said Bush's American Legion speech will explain the "roots of the ideological struggle in the lack of freedom in the Middle East" and emphasize Bush's agenda of trying to spur democratic change there.

(Additional reporting by Tabassum Zakaria)


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Bush: "We delivered!" New Orleans: "No, you didn't!"

Huffington Post
Steven G. Brant
Bush: "We delivered!" New Orleans: "No, you didn't!"

"Ford to NYC: 'Drop Dead!'"

Every New Yorker old enough to remember the '76 election recalls that headline in The New York Daily News. It summed up then President Gerard Ford's opinion regarding New York City's huge fiscal problems as only the Daily News could. As legendary New York City columnist Jimmy Breslin recalled a couple of years ago, that headline "helped make Jimmy Carter the president."

"We delivered!" were President Bush's equally emphatic words, delivered in New Orleans on the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina to NBC News anchor Brian Williams (who, for reasons perhaps only known to Mr. Williams, did not challenge Bush on his claim). President Bush was, of course, referring to the response by the Federal government to the needs of the people of New Orleans.

I think "We delivered!" will turn out to be Bush's version of "Drop Dead!".

The exact words Mr. Bush used, as reported on were:

"When it's all said and done, the people down here know that I stood in Jackson Square [a year ago] and said, 'We're going to help you,' and we delivered," he said. "What matters is that we help the good people here rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, and we're going to do that.

UPDATE: And here's the video, which I was just able to get a hold of.

Of course, Mr. Bush was being positive and supportive in his remarks. Nothing to get down on him about here. Right? After all, Ford was showing himself to be cold-hearted. Bush is demonstrating he's a warm-hearted., "compassionate conservative".

Ford certainly didn't "heart" NY. Bush definitely "hearts" New Orleans. In fact, President Bush was actually responding to Brian Williams' telling him that some people say the Federal government's poor response to the devestation in New Orleans reflects Bush's "partrician upbringing". That's what led Bush to say the words above.

So, why do I say that I think "We delivered!" will be President Bush's "Drop Dead!"?

Because he lied. Because he doesn't care.

Bush may care about poor people, personally; but he doesn't care if the Federal government actually gets the job done in New Orleans...if it actually "delivers".

And everyone knows it.

Well, I suppose President Bush himself might not know it. But that would require him to be delusional.

Yes, he could be delusional rather than a liar. In fact, he mixes the present and future tenses in his two sentences. First saying "We delivered." and then saying "we're going to do that." (not "we did that already and will do more.") So, maybe he really wishes he had delivered after one year what he really knows will take many years to deliver (at the rate he is going). Hmmm. Choices, choices.

Well, with Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and Don Rumsfeld having decided to label everyone who thinks things aren't going well in Iraq as "fascist sympathizers", I'm going to stick with my opinion that Bush lied. Sorry. I'm just not feeling charitable at the moment.

By the way, when I say "everyone knows the Federal government hasn't 'delivered'", it's because of discussions such as the one below, from the PBS Newshour. Of course, this is just one example. But I like it for how thoughtful it was. (This video is only the first 5 minutes of the discussion, because I'm focused on the "delivered or not?" question. If you want to see the rest, you'll be able to find it on YouTube.)

Here's my hope, which you've probably guessed by now.

If "Drop Dead!" cost Ford the presidency, I hope "We delivered!" helps cost the Bush administration their majorities in the House and Senate.

Are you listening, Democratic Senatorial and Congressional Campaign Committees?
One footnote to the PBS video: At the end, you will hear Sean Reilly, chair of the state and local legislative task force of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, blame the Army Corps of Engineers for what happened to New Orleans.

He literally says this was a man-made engineering failure. Well, since my undergraduate degree happens to be in civil engineering and since I spent 10 years working for the Army Corps of Engineers in NYC, I'd like to point out to Mr. Reilly that - especially when it comes to the "civil works" part of its mission - the Corps of Engineers responds to political needs and demands and funding restrictions imposed by politicians just like all other federal agencies. The colonels who run the various district offices risk harming their careers if they go against the will of their political masters.

I'm not saying the Corps of Engineers shouldn't share the blame. But what I am saying is that the Corps exists within a larger system called "the government". It is that larger system which failed the people of New Orleans. So, please Mr. Reilly - and anyone else who is getting in line to put ALL the blame on the Corps of Engineers - stop doing this now. Don't make further fools of yourselves than you already have.

It's the system that failed, not just one part.


Far Right's Dilemma: Hate Jews or just blacks, Hispanics and Muslims?

Huffington Post
Art Levine
Far Right's Dilemma: Hate Jews or just blacks, Hispanics and Muslims?

The far right-wing, according to a recent issue of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report, is split among those who want to continue to blame the Jews for all the ills of the world -- in the spirit of Mel Gibson -- to those who hope to broaden their appeal by focusing on blacks, Hispanics and Muslims.
In other words, those three are the same groups that are the much-preferred targets of the so-called "mainstream" nativist GOP that started building its majority in the 1960s by catering to disaffected white Southerners' hatred of integration and now still can't shake a fondness for pandering to anti-immigrant fears and racism, even if it might alienate moderate soccer moms and independents.

Meanwhile, while the GOP panders, the far right that fuels some of the nativism in "mainstream" right-wing circles is confronting its own divisions:

HERNDON, Va. -- For a gathering of people devoted to denouncing the inferiority of blacks and sounding the alarm about civilization-threatening Muslims, the biannual conferences thrown by the New Century Foundation, publisher of the racist newsletter American Renaissance, are decidedly genteel affairs. Men dress in suits and ties, women in formal business attire, and there are no uniformed skinheads or Klansmen to be seen. Large plasma television screens, Starbucks coffee spreads and fancy linens adorn the hotel meeting hall. Epithets have no place here.

Or at least they didn't. At the latest edition of the conferences that began in 1994, held this February at the Hyatt Dulles hotel, a nasty spat broke out that upset the gathering's decorum -- and may even shape the future of the radical right.

It began when David Duke, the former Klan leader and author of Jewish Supremacism, strode to a microphone after French author Guillaume Faye wrapped up a talk vilifying Muslims entitled "The Threat to the West." Duke thanked Faye for remarks that "touched my genes." But then he went one further.

"There is a power in the world that dominates our media, influences our government and that has led to the internal destruction of our will and spirit," Duke said, according to an undisputed account in The Forward newspaper.

"Tell us, tell us," someone in the back yelled.

"I'm not going to say it," Duke replied. Laughter began to fill the room, until a short, angry man leaped from his seat, walked up to Duke and began to curse.

"You fucking Nazi, you've disgraced this meeting!" he said.

And with that, Michael Hart, a Jewish astrophysicist and long-time attendee at American Renaissance conferences, headed for the door. As many as 50 people at the conference began to jeer and point at the rapidly disappearing Hart.

This extraordinary incident marked the beginning of an open rift between those on the radical right who see blacks, Hispanics and Muslims as the primary enemy, and those who say "the Jews" are ultimately behind every evil -- a split that has usually stayed just below the surface but now threatens a leading institution of American extremism. While in the past he has managed to bridge this divide mainly by ignoring it, American Renaissance founder Jared Taylor now must finally come to terms with the split. His dilemma boils down to this: Throw out the anti-Semites and try to build a larger movement with electoral possibilities like those increasingly seen in Britain and Germany; or openly join hands with the very energetic neo-Nazis even though that means the loss of any remaining shred of respectability.

"These are the makings of a major schism," wrote Shawn Mercer, co-founder and moderator of American Renaissance's AR List, an E-mail group. "If American Renaissance ultimately fails as a result of this donnybrook at the convention, it will be a sad, possibly fatal turn of events for the future of whites."

Similar worries might also be brewing among GOP strategists as well. Even if GOP activists rarely engage these days in the blunt racist name-calling of their brethren on the far right (not counting racist gaffes from the likes of Sen. George Allen), they too often appeal to similar if more muted impulses, and face their own strategic dilemma: On whom should they focus their appeals to hate?


Richard L. Armitage, First Source of C.I.A. Leak, Admits Role

The New York Times
First Source of C.I.A. Leak Admits Role, Lawyer Says

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 — Richard L. Armitage, a former deputy secretary of state, has acknowledged that he was the person whose conversation with a columnist in 2003 prompted a long, politically laden criminal investigation in what became known as the C.I.A. leak case, a lawyer involved in the case said on Tuesday.

Mr. Armitage did not return calls for comment. But the lawyer and other associates of Mr. Armitage have said he has confirmed that he was the initial and primary source for the columnist, Robert D. Novak, whose column of July 14, 2003, identified Valerie Wilson as a Central Intelligence Agency officer.

The identification of Mr. Armitage as the original leaker to Mr. Novak ends what has been a tantalizing mystery. In recent months, however, Mr. Armitage’s role had become clear to many, and it was recently reported by Newsweek magazine and The Washington Post.

In the accounts by the lawyer and associates, Mr. Armitage disclosed casually to Mr. Novak that Ms. Wilson worked for the C.I.A. at the end of an interview in his State Department office. Mr. Armitage knew that, the accounts continue, because he had seen a written memorandum by Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman.

Mr. Grossman had taken up the task of finding out about Ms. Wilson after an inquiry from I. Lewis Libby Jr., chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. Mr. Libby’s inquiry was prompted by an Op-Ed article on May 6, 2003, in The New York Times by Nicholas D. Kristof and an article on June 12, 2003, in The Washington Post by Walter Pincus.

The two articles reported on a trip by a former ambassador to Africa sponsored by the C.I.A. to check reports that Iraq was seeking enriched uranium to help with its nuclear arms program.

Neither article identified the ambassador, but it was known inside the government that he was Joseph C. Wilson IV, Ms. Wilson’s husband. White House officials wanted to know how much of a role she had in selecting him for the assignment.

Ms. Wilson was a covert employee, and after Mr. Novak printed her identity, the agency requested an investigation to see whether her name had been leaked illegally.

Some administration critics said her name had been made public in a campaign to punish Mr. Wilson, who had written in a commentary in The Times that his investigation in Africa him to believe that the Bush administration had twisted intelligence to justify an attack on Iraq.

The complaints after Mr. Novak’s column led to the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the disclosure of Ms. Wilson’s identity.

The special prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, did not bring charges in connection with laws that prohibit the willful disclosure of the identity of an C.I.A. officer. But Mr. Fitzgerald did indict Mr. Libby on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, saying Mr. Libby had testified untruthfully to a grand jury and federal agents when he said he learned about Ms. Wilson’s role at the agency from reporters rather than from several officials, including Mr. Cheney.

According to an account in a coming book, “Hubris, the Inside Story of Spin, Scandal and the Selling of the Iraq War’’ by Michael Isikoff and David Corn, excerpts of which appeared in Newsweek this week, Mr. Armitage told a few State Department colleagues that he might have been the leaker whose identity was being sought.

The book says Mr. Armitage realized that when Mr. Novak published a second column in October 2003 that said his source had been an official who was “not a political gunslinger.’’

The Justice Department was quickly informed, and Mr. Armitage disclosed his talks with Mr. Novak in subsequent interviews with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, even before Mr. Fitzgerald’s appointment.

The book quotes Carl W. Ford Jr., then head of the intelligence and research bureau at the State Department, as saying that Mr. Armitage had told him, “I may be the guy who caused this whole thing,’’ and that he regretted having told the columnist more than he should have.

Mr. Grossman’s memorandum did not mention that Ms. Wilson had undercover status.

Apart from Mr. Ford, as quoted in the book, the lawyer and colleagues of Mr. Armitage who discussed the case have spoken insisting on anonymity, apparently because Mr. Armitage was still not comfortable with the public acknowledgment of his role.

He was also the source for another journalist about Ms. Wilson, a reporter who did not write about her. The lawyers and associates said Mr. Armitage also told Bob Woodward, assistant managing editor of The Washington Post and a well-known author, of her identity in June 2003.

Mr. Woodward was a late player in the legal drama when he disclosed last November that he had the received the information and testified to a grand jury about it after learning that his source had disclosed the conversation to prosecutors.


Govt. Investigation Proves Bush Appointee Used Position To Hire Friends, Run Horse Racing Operation

The New York Times
Inquiry Criticizes U.S. Broadcasting Official Over Hiring

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 — State Department investigators have concluded that Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, the head of the federal agency that oversees most government broadcasts to foreign countries, improperly hired a friend on the public payroll for nearly $250,000 over two and a half years, according to a summary of their report made public this afternoon by Democratic Congressional staff members.

They also said that Mr. Tomlinson, whose job puts him in charge of the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, used his government office for personal business, including running a “horse racing operation” in which he supervised a stable of thoroughbreds he named after leaders from Afghanistan, including President Hamid Karzai and the late Ahmed Shah Massoud, that have raced at tracks across the United States. They also said that Mr. Tomlinson repeatedly used government employees to do his personal errands and that he billed the government for more days of work than the rules permit.

The State Department inspector general presented those findings in a report last week to the White House and on Monday to some members of Congress. Three Democratic lawmakers, Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Representatives Howard Berman and Tom Lantos of California, requested the inquiry last year after they were approached by a whistleblower from the agency about the possible misuse of federal money by Mr. Tomlinson and the possible hiring of phantom or unqualified employees.

In providing the report to the members of Congress, the State Department warned that making it public could be a violation of federal law, people who have seen the report said. Today, Mr. Berman’s staff released a summary of the report.

Mr. Tomlinson was ousted from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting last year following a separate inquiry that found evidence that he had violated rules meant to insulate public television and radio from political influence. His renomination by President Bush to another term as chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors is pending before the Senate.

The summary of the State Department inspector general’s report said the United States attorney’s office in Washington had been given the report and decided not to conduct a criminal inquiry into the matter. It said the Justice Department was pursuing a civil investigation that focused on a contract Mr. Tomlinson had awarded to his friend.

The three lawmakers who had requested the inquiry sent a letter to the president this afternoon urging him to remove Mr. Tomlinson from his position immediately “and take all necessary steps to restore the integrity of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.”

Emily Lawrimore, a White House spokeswoman, said President Bush continues to support Mr. Tomlinson’s renomination. She declined to comment about the State Department report.

Asked about the report and the call for his ouster, Mr. Tomlinson and his lawyer, James Hamilton, would not immediately comment.

Mr. Tomlinson is a 62-year-old Republican and former editor of Reader’s Digest who has close ties to Karl Rove, Mr. Bush’s political strategist and senior adviser. Mr. Rove and Mr. Tomlinson served together on the board of predecessor agency to the Broadcasting Board in the 1990’s. Mr. Tomlinson has been chairman of the Broadcasting Board since 2002.

The board, whose members include the secretary of state, plays a central role in public diplomacy. It supervises the government’s foreign broadcasting operations, including Radio Marti, Radio Sawa and al-Hurra; transmits programs in 61 languages; and says it has more than 100 million listeners each week.

Mr. Tomlinson’s ouster last November from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was prompted by a separate investigation by that organization’s inspector general. That inquiry found evidence that Mr. Tomlinson had violated rules as he sought more conservative programs and that he improperly intervened to help the staff of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page win a $4.1 million contract — one of the largest programming contracts issued by the corporation — to finance a weekly program on public television.

The heavily edited State Department report on Mr. Tomlinson’s activities at the Broadcasting Board of Governors did not specify the identity of the friend who received the improper contract at the direction of Mr. Tomlinson. Agency officials said he was a retired worker already on a government pension who was rehired by Mr. Tomlinson, without the knowledge of the board or any competitive bidding process, to work on projects for him. The employee was known by other employees as “the phantom” because he was often not at work, other agency employees said.

Mr. Tomlinson was rebuked in the earlier inspector general report by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for improperly hiring an acquaintance from a journalism center founded by the American Conservative Union to monitor several public radio and television shows, including Bill Moyer’s “Now” program, for political bias.

The State Department report said that from 2003 through 2005 Mr. Tomlinson had requested compensation in excess of the 130 days permitted by law for the post he holds. It said that he had requested and received pay from both the broadcasting board and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for the same days worked on 14 occasions, but that investigators were unable to substantiate whether they were for the same hours worked on the same days.

Investigators who seized Mr. Tomlinson’s e-mail, telephone and office records found that he had improperly and extensively used his office at the Broadcasting Board to do nongovernmental work, including work for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and horse racing and breeding ventures. The material seized included racing forms and evidence that he used the office to buy and sell thoroughbreds.

Mr. Tomlinson’s longstanding interest in foreign affairs has carried over to his horse breeding operation. As the owner of Sandy Bayou Stables near Middleburg, Va., his most recent horses have been named after Afghanistan leaders who have opposed Russian and Taliban control of the country. The horses include Massoud, Karzai and Panjshair, the valley that was the base used by forces to overthrow the Taliban. Most of the horses have not been in the money, although Massoud appears to have been quite successful, earning purses of more than $140,000 over the last two years, according to track records.

People who have seen the report said it noted that in the middle of in interview with investigators, Mr. Tomlinson terminated the interview on the advice of his lawyer. One person familiar with the inquiry said Mr. Hamilton ended the interview as the investigators started to ask about the use of Mr. Tomlinson’s office for his horse-racing venture.

Mr. Hamilton declined to comment about the interview.


AT&T says hackers accessed customers' cards

AT&T says hackers accessed customers' cards

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Hackers broke into one of AT&T Inc.'s computer networks and stole credit card data and other personal information from several thousand customers who shopped at the telecommunication giant's online store.

AT&T said it was notifying "fewer than 19,000" customers whose data was accessed during the weekend break-in, which it said was detected within hours.

The company said it immediately shut down the online store, notified credit card companies, and was working with law enforcement agencies to track down the hackers.

"We recognize that there is an active market for illegally obtained personal information," Priscilla Hill-Ardoin, AT&T's chief privacy officer, said in a statement.

"We will work closely with law enforcement to bring these data thieves to account," Hill-Ardoin said.

AT&T said it would also pay for credit monitoring services to assist in protecting the customers involved. The data theft involved people who had bought DSL equipment for high-speed Internet access.


Scientists say they have made a blocker that could stop the lethal anthrax toxin from attacking the body

Scientists find 'anthrax blocker'
Scientists say they have made a blocker that could stop the lethal anthrax toxin from attacking the body.

The inhibitor binds to the receptors in the body where anthrax attaches.

Using receptors as the treatment target rather than the toxin itself should get round the problem of antibiotic resistance, PNAS journal reports.

The same approach could also be used to stop other deadly invaders such as SARS, influenza and Aids, the US and Canadian researchers said.


The current treatment for anthrax exposure is antibiotics.

But pathogens can mutate and develop resistance to these treatments, rendering them ineffective.

With anthrax, there is also a concern that individuals could intentionally alter the toxin in the lab to make it resistant to current treatments, making it an even more deadly bioterrorism agent than it already is.

Inhalation anthrax still has a fatality rate of 75% even after antibiotics are given.

Antibiotics can slow the progression of the infection, but they do not counter the advanced destructive effects of the anthrax toxin in the body.

Dr Ravi Kane, from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, and his colleagues believe that combining their inhibitor with antibiotic therapy may increase the chance of survival for people who become infected with anthrax by neutralising the toxin.

Best fit

They tested the inhibitor in rats, until they found the best design.

This was a polyvalent inhibitor, which means that it displays multiple copies of receptor-binding peptides, allowing it to bind at multiple sites and become more potent than inhibitors that bind to a single site.

All of the six animals they injected with the polyvalent inhibitor appeared to be protected from anthrax, with no signs of adverse side effects.

Work is now needed to see whether the inhibitor will do the same in humans.

Dr Shiranee Sriskandan, a consultant in infectious diseases at Imperial College London, said: "There have been many other approaches to blocking the anthrax toxin; what is important about this work is that the investigators have come up with a new technique for screening chemicals for activity that might block other types of toxin as well.

"It will be important in future work to establish whether such an approach can work in 'real' infections.

"The inhibitor represents a step forwards in treatment but does not obviate the need for development of better and more effective vaccines to prevent anthrax, which remains an important disease in many poor, developing countries, notwithstanding the risks of misuse in bioterrorism."

Researchers at Oxford University are among others searching for an effective anthrax inhibitor.

Story from BBC NEWS:


Jack Kemp, the Republican vice presidential nominee in 1976 to campaign for Lieberman

Kemp to campaign for Lieberman

NEW LONDON, Connecticut (Reuters) - Jack Kemp, the Republican vice presidential nominee in 1976, will campaign in Connecticut on behalf of U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman's independent bid for re-election.

Lieberman said on Tuesday he had accepted an offer of help from Kemp after the former congressman contacted him this month following Lieberman's loss of the Democratic Senate primary to anti-war challenger Ned Lamont.

"We've been good friends for a long time," said Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee, during a campaign stop in New London. "He called me after the primary, he's a good friend, and I'm grateful."

Many Democrats have turned their backs on Lieberman since his defeat by Lamont, a businessman who claimed the senator was too supportive of the Iraq war and too close to President George W. Bush and Republicans.

Lieberman, who is banking on Republican and independent support to carry him to victory over Lamont in November, said he was not worried that a campaign visit by a Republican like Kemp would anger Democrats.

"I think if anyone complains about Jack Kemp coming in on my behalf, it just shows that they're still blinded by the old partisan politics," he said. "Jack's a devoted Republican, I'm a devoted Democrat, but we agree on a lot of stuff."

Lieberman is running for a fourth Senate term as an independent but has promised to remain a Democrat if he wins.

Kemp, a former star pro football quarterback, served in Congress from New York and was Housing and Urban Development secretary under the current president's father.

Kemp also was Republican Bob Dole's running mate in the 1996 election, which they lost to President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.


Ahmadinejad challenges Bush to debate
By Parisa Hafezi

TEHRAN (Reuters) - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday challenged President Bush to a televised debate and voiced defiance as a deadline neared for Iran to halt work the West fears is a step toward building nuclear bombs.

"Peaceful nuclear energy is the right of the Iranian nation ... it wants to use it and no one can stop it," he told a news conference.

The White House said Ahmadinejad's call for a presidential debate on global concerns was a "diversion".

The U.N. Security Council has given Iran until Thursday to suspend uranium enrichment -- a process which can produce fuel for civilian reactors or explosive material for warheads -- and has threatened to consider sanctions if it does so.

Iran has shown no sign it will halt uranium enrichment. The world's fourth largest oil exporter has shrugged off the threat of sanctions and said such a move would simply push oil prices up to intolerable levels for industrialized economies.

Oil dipped below $70 a barrel on Tuesday, but worries about the nuclear standoff have curbed selling.

Britain's Ambassador to the U.N., Emyr Jones Parry, said the 15 council member states would first need to assess a report to be delivered on Thursday on Iranian compliance from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

"I would expect activities here to resume toward the middle of September," when governments would have "a clearer view of exactly how this should be carried forward," he told reporters.

Ahmadinejad said Iran had laid out a framework for talks in its reply to an offer by six world powers of incentives in exchange for a suspension of enrichment. That framework provided an "exceptional opportunity" to solve the nuclear dispute.

Asked specifically if Iran would halt enrichment, even for a short period, he replied: "In that (Iran's response to the six-nation offer) we announced that any kind of dialogue should be based upon the certain rights of the Iranian nation."


Ahmadinejad condemned the U.S. and British roles in the world since World War Two.

"Isn't it time that international relations are founded on democracy and equal rights of the nations?" he asked. "I suggest holding a live TV debate with Mr George W. Bush to talk about world affairs and the ways to solve those issues.

"The debate should be go uncensored in order for the American people to be able to listen to what we say and they should not restrict the American people from hearing the truth."

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said: "Talk of a debate is just a diversion from the legitimate concerns that the international community, not just the U.S., has about Iran's behavior -- from support for terrorism to pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability,"

Ahmadinejad brushed off calls by John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., for sanctions if Iran ignores the U.N. deadline.

"Bolton is free to say whatever he wants ... our nation is a strong nation. A nation that has been able to attain the nuclear fuel cycle with its bare hands can solve any other problems."

He also said Iran would consider renewing ties with the United States but that it was up to Washington to act after cutting relations shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Washington has called for a swift response if Iran does not meet the deadline. But analysts say divisions at the United Nations about how to handle Iran's file could delay such a move.

Russia and China, big trading partners of Iran who have veto powers in the U.N. Security Council, may oppose sanctions moves.

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said talks with Iran were important, but only after it halted enrichment.

"The international community must not be divided. If it is cut in two, that would be a victory for the Iranians," he told EuroNews in an interview to be broadcast on Wednesday.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Impostor scams Louisiana officials
Impostor scams Louisiana officials

KENNER, Louisiana (CNN) -- A man who pulled a hoax on Louisiana officials and 1,000 contractors by presenting himself as a federal housing official said Monday he intended to focus attention on a lack of affordable housing.

"We basically go around impersonating bad institutes or institutes doing very bad things," said the man, who identified himself as Andy Bichlbaum, a 42-year-old former college teacher of video and media arts who lives in New York and Paris.

"That would be HUD. At this moment, they're doing some really bad things."

Masquerading as Rene Oswin, an official at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Bichlbaum followed Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin to the lectern Monday morning at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner.

In a speech to attendees of the Gulf Coast Reconstruction and Hurricane Preparedness Summit, he laid out grandiose plans for HUD to reverse course.

After the speaker read from a text he said had been prepared by his boss, HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson, a HUD spokeswoman said the department knew nothing about the man.

"Everything is going to change about the way we work, and the change is going to start here today in New Orleans," the man said during his speech.

Jackson, he said, had had to cancel his appearance at the meeting of 1,000 builders and contractors at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner because he had to stay in Washington to meet with President Bush.

William Loiry, president of meeting sponsor Equity International, said he was duped.

"We were contacted about a week ago or so by someone who we believed to be [public relations firm] Hill & Knowlton [saying] that they were representing the HUD secretary and that he wanted to make a major announcement at this summit."

Loiry said he was told a few minutes before he had planned to introduce Jackson that the secretary would be replaced by Oswin.

"We've done 75 national conferences, 25,000 people participated, and we certainly never encountered anything like this before," he said.

The man left a flier bearing a HUD emblem that said attendees could go to a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a public housing project. A free lunch and transportation aboard buses were promised.

"They never materialized," Loiry said.

Loiry was not impressed with the stunt. "There are many people still in need," he said in a written statement. "To perpetuate a hoax on them is cruel and disgusting."
Impostor: 'We have failed'

In his speech, Bichlbaum said the department's mission was to ensure affordable housing is available for those who need it.

"This year, in New Orleans, I'm ashamed to say we have failed," he said.

To change that, HUD would reverse its plans to demolish 5,000 units "of perfectly good public housing," with housing in the city in tight supply, he said.

Former occupants have been "begging to move back in," he said. "We're going to help them to do that."

The government's practice had been to tear down public housing where it could, because such projects were thought to cause crime and unemployment, he said.

But crime rates in the city are at a record high and there is no evidence that people in the projects are more likely to be unemployed, he said.

The man added that it also would be essential to create conditions for prosperity.

Toward that end, he said, Wal-Mart would withdraw its stores from near low-income housing and "help nurture local businesses to replace them."

Wal-Mart was unmoved. "As evidenced by the fact that we recently reopened two stores in the New Orleans metropolitan area, there is absolutely no truth to these statements," said spokeswoman Marisa Bluestone.

In a comment that elicited applause from the contractors and builders, Bichlbaum said, "With your help, the prospects of New Orleanians will no longer depend on their birthplace, and the cycle of poverty will come to an end."

Finally, to ensure another hurricane does not inundate the city, Exxon and Shell have promised to spend $8.6 billion "to finance wetlands rebuilding from $60 billion in profits this year," he said.
HUD: 'Who the heck is that?'

Late Monday afternoon, in a telephone call with CNN, Bichlbaum said the gist of his comments about housing was truthful, even if he had to use subterfuge to deliver it.

"The only not-true part is, unfortunately, the part about them changing their minds. They are still going to tear down 5,000 units of affordable housing," he said.

The New Orleans projects are sturdily constructed brick buildings that, nevertheless, are slated for demolition, he said.

"Basically, the real reason, of course, is they want to develop New Orleans into something pleasing to tourists -- even more pleasing."

Bichlbaum said Monday's prank was the latest in a series pulled off by The Yes Men, whose members have recently masqueraded as representatives of McDonald's, Halliburton and Dow Chemical.

"Fortunately, the law protects freedom of speech," he said. "What we're doing is not actually lying. It's actually exposing the lies. There's nothing morally wrong with what we're doing."

Bichlbaum said The Yes Men plan to release a movie about their exploits next year, but that commercial gain is not their goal.

"The real reason we do it is what we're doing right now," he told a reporter. "You're paying attention to this issue of affordable housing and the absurd policies of HUD."

In Washington, HUD spokeswoman Donna White called the hoax "sick."

"This announcement is totally false; it's totally bogus," said Donna White in Washington.

No one named Rene Oswin works for the department, she said. "I'm like, who the heck is that?"

Jackson, White said, had never planned to address the meeting. "I don't even want to refer to it as a joke," White said. "At this point, it's not funny."

Annie Chen, media coordinator for Survivors Village, a tent-city protest for the reopening of public housing in New Orleans, applauded Bichlbaum's theatrics.

"Right now, a lie is better than the truth," she said.

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After year in Iraq, soldiers face 18-hour bus ride home

Boston Globe
After year in Iraq, soldiers face 18-hour bus ride home
By Lisa Wangsness

For at least a year, the soldiers had survived one of the most dangerous jobs in the world: driving trucks on the violent roads of Iraq for the US Army. Half the company had been at it nearly two years.

But when the 150 soldiers in the Massachusetts-based 220th Transportation Company, 94th Regional Readiness Command, arrived at Camp Atterbury in Indiana just after midnight Friday for demobilization, they were told they would have to take the bus home -- an 18- to 20-hour ride.

Furious families of the soldiers called the office of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

``I was absolutely outraged," Kennedy said in a phone interview yesterday. ``These are men and women who have worn our uniform that bears the flag of the United States of America. They deserve a hero's welcome."

The senator dashed off a letter to Secretary of the Army Francis J. Harvey, pointing out that the Indianapolis International Airport was 38 miles from Camp Atterbury.

``With air service such a viable option, I don't believe putting these soldiers on buses for an extended overnight ride is the most appropriate way for the US Army to show its gratitude for their considerable sacrifices," Kennedy wrote.

Yesterday, aides to Kennedy said, the Army notified Kennedy's office that it would charter a flight to bring the soldiers home. The flight time was still being worked out last night, an aide to Kennedy said, but a welcome-home celebration for the unit is planned for tomorrow afternoon in Boxborough.

Kennedy said he plans to bring the matter to the attention of Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia. Kennedy said there is a role for bus transportation in the military, but no American soldier returning from an extended stay overseas should have to take the bus home after demobilization when a plane would be more comfortable and convenient.

``This is absolutely intolerable," he said.

He said the soldiers were told there was not enough money to pay for their air travel home.

``This is a demobilization," he said. ``They're on their way home, they served in Iraq and to be told . . . there are not enough resources in the Defense Department budget to treat people first-class is indefensible, unwarranted, and outrageous."

Army officials said they could not confirm plans for a flight.


Did Bush Keep Katrina Promises?

ABC News
Did Bush Keep Katrina Promises?
President Made Promises to Nation from New Orleans' Jackson Square After the Storm

WASHINGTON, Aug. 27, 2006 — - Eighteen days after hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, President Bush stood before the nation from Jackson Square in New Orleans and promised, "We will do what it takes, we will stay as long as it takes, to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives."

A year later, tens of thousands of people are still waiting for help.

President Bush pledged federal assistance in three key areas -- emergency response, rebuilding communities and strengthening New Orleans' levees.

In the first area, after a slow start, he largely delivered. The federal government moved most evacuees out of shelters within six weeks, helped restore oil refineries and the port of New Orleans within months, and cleared more than a million cubic yards of debris scattered across the Gulf States.

It's in rebuilding that many critics say the president's promises have fallen short.

"We want evacuees to come home," Bush told the nation in his speech from Jackson Square on Sept. 15, 2005.

Of the more than 1.8 million people forced to flee the area, only slightly more than half have returned.

Up to 10,000 people are waiting for promised trailers from FEMA: 116,000 trailers have been delivered, but local officials report in many instances they don't have water, or electricity or even keys to the doors.

And just last week, the government finally began to distribute grant money for home rebuilding. Funding had been bogged down in the federal bureaucracy for nearly a year.

In New Orleans, large parts of the city are still without reliable electricity and drinking water, and the crime rate is skyrocketing -- so much so that the national guard has been called in.

"Protecting a city that sits lower than the water around it is not easy," Bush noted in his Jackson Square speech.

That, perhaps, is the biggest obstacle holding back New Orleans' recovery.

All parties, from the president down, are waiting on a final plan for the redesign of the levee system, but a study isn't even due to be released until December 2007.

"I made a commitment that we would … help the people there recover," Bush said in an Aug. 21 press conference. "I also want the people down there to understand that it's going to take a while to recover."

Tied to the restoration of the Gulf Coast is, perhaps, the president's credibility. Critics and Gulf residents alike wait to see if the president -- who sells himself as man of his word -- will deliver on the promises he's made.


The Gaza Strip is in the grip of anarchy and Palestinians must stop blaming Israel for all their problems, a senior Hamas figure has said.

Hamas figure slams Gaza 'anarchy'

The Gaza Strip is in the grip of anarchy and Palestinians must stop blaming Israel for all their problems, a senior Hamas figure has said.

Ghazi Hamad, chief spokesman for the Hamas government, said the hope that followed Israel's pull-out last year had been replaced with "a nightmare".

Gaza is at the mercy of thugs, he said, and pleaded for an end to deadly clan rivalries. "Let Gaza breathe," he said.

Such frank self-criticism is rare among Palestinian leaders, analysts say.

Mr Hamad's comments came in an article, which was published in Palestinian newspapers on Monday.

He said they were his own views and did not represent the position of his government.

"I am not interested in discussing the ugliness and brutality of the occupation because it is not a secret. Instead, I prefer self-criticism and self evaluation," Mr Hamad wrote.

Overwhelming problems

He said life in Gaza City now involved "unimaginable chaos, careless policemen, young men carrying guns and strutting with pride, and families receiving condolences for their dead in the middle of the street."

And he was also critical of militants who fire crudely-made rockets into Israel, saying ordinary Palestinians paid a high price when Israel responded militarily to such attacks.

Mr Hamad said Gazans should stop laying the blame for their mistakes at the door of the Israeli occupation.

"Our extreme joy at their departure made us forget the most important question: What is our next step?" he went on.

Hamas swept to power in elections in January and promised to bring law and order to the Gaza Strip.

Mr Hamad's remarks would seem to be an admission that it has completely failed to do so, the BBC's Alan Johnston in the West Bank says.

But he adds that the best government in the world would have struggled to cope with Gaza's overwhelming social and economic problems.

Hamas has also been paralysed by the crushing Western and Israeli economic boycott imposed because it has refused to renounce violence and accept Israel's right to exist.

Story from BBC NEWS:


Local Republicans May Begin to Back Lieberman

Political Wire
Local Republicans May Begin to Back Lieberman

Local Republican committees are starting to follow the lead of their rank and file in Connecticut by abandoning the quixotic Senate candidacy of Republican Alan Schlesinger. On August 11th, the Killingworth Republican Town Committee voted to withdraw its endorsement of Schlesinger.

A dozen more may follow, including at least one town that raises more money than any other for Republican causes around the state, Greenwich. The question for most towns will be whether to include the “L-word” in their resolutions. Some want to endorse Lieberman, who’s drawn significant Republican support since his narrow 1988 upset of disagreeable Republican Lowell P. Weicker, Jr, now an unaffiliated voter.

There are few gatherings more earnest than meetings of the 169 Republican town committees in Connecticut. The decision to bolt formally from a Republican candidate for the United States Senate to a three-term incumbent Democrat turned independent will cause much debate among party activists, who have stood by the parade of no-hopers the party has nominate for the Senate in the past decade.

Greenwich, hometown of Democratic primary victor Ned Lamont, sets the pace for other local Republican organizations in affluent Fairfield County. As in many other realms, there is an element of Greenwich-envy among party workers in other towns. An outright endorsement of Lieberman would be another blow to Schlesinger, currently garnering around 4% in most polls. Schlesinger has made a couple of pilgrimages to the Greenwich town committee, where he has not been enthusiastically received.

Formal endorsements of Lieberman by local Republicans could bolster the army of volunteers that he is trying to build after losing the August 8th Democratic primary to Lamont. Neddites are particularly roiled by the possibility that the state’s 450,000 registered Republicans could provide the margin of victory for Lieberman. Additional signs of the Republican stampede to Lieberman will cause additional agitation between the two camps as the race grows more bitter and personal.

-- Guest contributor Kevin Rennie is a columnist for the Hartford Courant.


Pronouncing Blame on the Israel Lobby
Pronouncing Blame on the Israel Lobby
By Dana Milbank

It was quite a boner.

University of Chicago political scientist John Mearsheimer was in town yesterday to elaborate on his view that American Jewish groups are responsible for the war in Iraq, the destruction of Lebanon's infrastructure and many other bad things. As evidence, he cited the influence pro-Israel groups have on "John Boner, the House majority leader."

Actually, Professor, it's "BAY-ner." But Mearsheimer quickly dispensed with Boehner (R-Ohio) and moved on to Jewish groups' nefarious sway over Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who Mearsheimer called " Von Hollen."

Such gaffes would be trivial -- if Mearsheimer weren't claiming to be an authority on Washington and how power is wielded here. But Mearsheimer, with co-author Stephen Walt of Harvard's Kennedy School, set off a furious debate this spring when they argued that "the Israel lobby" is exerting undue influence in Washington; opponents called them anti-Semitic.

Yesterday, at the invitation of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), they held a forum at the National Press Club to expand on their allegations about the Israel lobby. Blurring the line between academics and activism, they accepted a button proclaiming "Fight the Israel Lobby" and won cheers from the Muslim group for their denunciation of Israel and its friends in the United States.

Whatever motivated the performance, the result wasn't exactly scholarly.

Walt singled out two Jews who worked at the Pentagon for their pro-Israel views. "People like Paul Wolfowitz or Doug Feith . . . advocate policies they think are good for Israel and the United States alike," he said. "We don't think there's anything wrong with that, but we also don't think there's anything wrong for others to point out that these individuals do have attachments that shape how they think about the Middle East."

"Attachments" sounds much better than "dual loyalties." But why single out Wolfowitz and Feith and not their non-Jewish boss, Donald Rumsfeld?

"I could have mentioned non-Jewish people like John Bolton," Walt allowed when the question was put to him.

Picking up on the "attachments" lingo, Mearsheimer did mention Bolton but cited two Jews, Elliott Abrams and David Wurmser, as "the two most influential advisers on Middle East affairs in the White House. Both, he said, are " fervent supporters of Israel." Never mind that others in the White House, such as national security adviser Stephen Hadley, Vice President Cheney and President Bush, have been just as fervent despite the lack of "attachments."

This line of argument could be considered a precarious one for two blue-eyed men with Germanic surnames. And, indeed, Walt seemed defensive about the charges of anti-Semitism. He cautioned that the Israel lobby "is not a cabal," that it is "not synonymous with American Jews" and that "there is nothing improper or illegitimate about its activities."

But Mearsheimer made no such distinctions as he used "Jewish activists," "major Jewish organizations" and the "Israel lobby" interchangeably. Clenching the lectern so tightly his knuckles whitened, Mearsheimer accused Israel of using the kidnapping of its soldiers by Hezbollah as a convenient excuse to attack Lebanon.

"Israel had been planning to strike at Hezbollah for months," he asserted. "Key Israelis had briefed the administration about their intentions."

A questioner asked if he had any "hard evidence" for this accusation. Mearsheimer cited the "public record" and "Israeli civilian strategists," then repeated the allegation that Israel was seeking "a cover for launching this offensive."

As evidence that the American public does not agree with the Israel lobby, the political scientist cited a USA Today-Gallup poll showing that 38 percent of Americans disapproved of Israel's military campaign. He neglected to mention that 50 percent approved, and that Americans blamed Hezbollah, Iran, Syria and Lebanon far more than Israel for the conflict.

Walt kicked off the session with a warning that we face a "threat from terrorism because we have been so closely tied to Israel." This produced chuckles in the audience. Walt allowed that this was "not the only reason" for our problems, but he did blame Israel supporters for the hands-off position the Bush administration took during the Lebanon fighting.

"The answer is the political influence of the Israel lobby," Walt said. He also hypothesized that if not for the Israel lobby, the Iraq war "would have been much less likely."

Up next, Mearsheimer ridiculed U.S. leaders for "falling all over themselves to express support for Israel." And he drew groans from the crowd when he spoke about a lawmaker who, after questioning Israel's policy, "met with various representatives from major Jewish organizations, who explained to him the basic facts of life in American politics."

When the two professors finished, they were besieged by autograph- and photo-seekers and Arab television correspondents. Walt could be heard telling one that if an American criticizes Israel, "it might have some economic consequences for your business."

Before leaving for an interview with al-Jazeera, Mearsheimer accepted a button proclaiming "Walt & Mearsheimer Rock. Fight the Israel Lobby."

"I like it," he said, beaming.


There He Goes Again!

Early Iraq pullout "ruinous" to U.S. security: Cheney
By Patricia Wilson and Kristin Roberts

WASHINGTON/RENO, Nevada (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney, seizing on Democratic calls to pull troops out of Iraq, on Monday linked early withdrawal to the possibility of terrorist attacks in the United States.

As Cheney and President George W. Bush try to help Republicans keep control of the U.S. Congress on November 7, polls show public support for the war ebbing. Bush gets better marks for his handling of terrorism.

"Some in our own country claim retreat from Iraq would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone," Cheney told a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Reno. "A precipitous withdrawal from Iraq would be ... a ruinous blow to the future security of the United States."

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld pulled from the same playbook on Monday night, telling the veterans group that U.S. foes would view an early withdrawal as American "faintheartedness." He pointed to the Clinton administration's decision to pull troops out of Somalia, a move he said led both Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein to see U.S. forces as weak.

Neither Cheney nor Rumsfeld used the word "Democrats," choosing instead the anonymous "some," but the vice president rejected the argument many have made that by invading Iraq in March 2003, the United States simply "stirred up a hornets' nest."

"They overlook a fundamental fact. We were not in Iraq on September 11, 2001, but the terrorists hit us anyway," he said, in a reference to the hijacked plane attacks that killed almost 3,000 people.


When Bush answered a question about Iraq last week by raising September 11, a reporter asked him, "What did Iraq have to do with that?" The president replied, "Nothing," and added, "Nobody has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack."

But prior to the U.S.-led invasion, Cheney suggested that one of the September 11 hijackers met with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague before the attacks. The bipartisan September 11 Commission found no evidence such a meeting took place.

September 11 and its aftermath, as well as the buildup and early successes in the Iraq war, were winning issues for Republicans in 2002 and 2004. With the unpopular war now helping to drag Bush's poll numbers down to the lowest of his presidency, the White House has sought to cast it as part of the broader struggle against terrorism.

Cheney said terrorists wanted to arm themselves with chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons, "to destroy Israel, to intimidate all Western countries and to cause mass death in the United States."

He suggested critics were naive and did not understand the magnitude of the threats.

"Some might look at these ambitions and wave them off as extreme and mad," he said. "Well, these ambitions are extreme and they are mad. They are also real and we must not wave them off, we must take them seriously."

Cheney and Rumsfeld said they welcomed vigorous debate over Iraq, but they drew differences between healthy debate and what the vice president called "self-defeating pessimism."

"We have only two options on Iraq -- victory or defeat -- and this nation will not pursue a policy of retreat," Cheney said.

Rumsfeld said America's enemies had launched a public relations campaign to distort the debate over the war and manipulate the U.S. media to focus on the violence rather than progress being made against terrorism.

"This enemy lies constantly -- almost totally without penalty," he said.

"Today we will not tell 50 million Afghans and Iraqis that because the going is tough -- and it is tough, let there be no doubt -- that we will abandon them to the beheaders, terrorists, assassins and 21st century fascists who seek to attack us abroad and here at home," Rumsfeld said.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Justice Department Not Seeking 9/11 Charges Against Osama Bin Laden
Bin Laden, Most Wanted For Embassy Bombings?
By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer

Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is a longtime and prominent member of the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list, which notes his role as the suspected mastermind of the deadly U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa on Aug. 7, 1998.

But another more infamous date -- Sept. 11, 2001 -- is nowhere to be found on the same FBI notice.

The curious omission underscores the Justice Department's decision, so far, to not seek formal criminal charges against bin Laden for approving al-Qaeda's most notorious and successful terrorist attack. The notice says bin Laden is "a suspect in other terrorist attacks throughout the world" but does not provide details.

The absence has also provided fodder for conspiracy theorists who think the U.S. government or another power was behind the Sept. 11 hijackings. From this point of view, the lack of a Sept. 11 reference suggests that the connection to al-Qaeda is uncertain.

Exhaustive government and independent investigations have concluded otherwise, of course, and bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders have proudly taken responsibility for the hijackings. FBI officials say the wanted poster merely reflects the government's long-standing practice of relying on actual criminal charges in the notices.

"There's no mystery here," said FBI spokesman Rex Tomb. "They could add 9/11 on there, but they have not because they don't need to at this point. . . . There is a logic to it."

David N. Kelley, the former U.S. attorney in New York who oversaw terrorism cases when bin Laden was indicted for the embassy bombings there in 1998, said he is not at all surprised by the lack of a reference to Sept. 11 on the official wanted poster. Kelley said the issue is a matter of legal restrictions and the need to be fair to any defendant.

"It might seem a little strange from the outside, but it makes sense from a legal point of view," said Kelley, now in private practice. "If I were in government, I'd be troubled if I were asked to put up a wanted picture where no formal charges had been filed, no matter who it was."

Bin Laden was placed on the Ten Most Wanted list in June 1999 after being indicted for murder, conspiracy and other charges in connection with the embassy bombings, and a $5 million reward was put on his head at that time. The listing was updated after Sept. 11, 2001, to include a higher reward of $25 million, but no mention of the attacks was added.

Others on the list include Colombian drug cartel leader Diego Leon Montoya Sanchez and fugitive Boston crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger, charged with a role in "numerous murders" in the 1970s and 1980s.

The FBI maintains a separate "Most Wanted Terrorists" list, which includes bin Laden and 25 others who have been indicted in U.S. federal courts in connection with terror plots. But this second bin Laden listing also makes no mention of Sept. 11.

"The indictments currently listed on the posters allow them to be arrested and brought to justice," the FBI says in a note accompanying the terrorist list on its Web site. "Future indictments may be handed down as various investigations proceed in connection to other terrorist incidents, for example, the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001."


Deception From America's Oil & Natural Gas Industry

Huffington Post
Raymond J. Learsy
Deception From America's Oil & Natural Gas Industry

This past week, a full page ad ran in the New York Times, labeled "A Message From America's Oil and Natural Gas Industry" purported to instruct us about "[The price at the pump]" and headlined accordingly. The ad's graphics depicted a dollar bill divided into three parts: 54% CRUDE OIL; 30% REFINING, DISTRIBUTION, & SERVICE
STATIONS; 16% TAXES- after having posed the question, "Where does your gasoline dollar go?"

The ad went on to make the statement "According to the Federal Trade Commission, the global price of crude oil is the single most important factor in what you pay at the fuel pump".

The operative word here is "global price of crude oil", implying that the industry was simply passing through to the consumer the cost of oil it was paying for crude. That may be true for those companies that are exclusively refiners, or certainly for the service stations referred to in the ad. And the implication in the ad is that in selling gasoline, the industry's earnings are 8.5 cents on every dollar of sales, without clearly defining what constitutes the "industry".

What is brushed over is that the major players in the industry aren't simply refiners or distributors, but they are major producers of crude oil as well, so that the "global price of oil" that constitutes 54% of a gallon of gasoline offers these companies their core profit base and not the sales price of gasoline as was implied in the ad.

Permit me to bore you with an example. ExxonMobil (always there when you need them) produced the oil equivalent of 4,162,000 barrels of crude oil per day in the second quarter of this year.

Earning 8.5% on every dollar of sales? Lets do some calculations. 4,162, 000 bbls a day at today's "global price of oil" at say $70 per/bbl ( I know it's higher, but let's not be piggy) is the equivalent of a cash income in dollars of $289,030,000 per day!

Now one needs to ask what are their production costs. Well, according to Reuters, as I had mentioned before (see "The Price of Oil Is Falling..." 8/18/06) the major oil companies remain cautious in their investment decisions, pricing new projects on the basis of $25/bbl oil. Even this seems high. In June 2000 Thierry Desmarest Chairman of France's oil giant Total, declared that his corporation would not invest in finding any oil that would be unprofitable at $13/bbl. Desmarest was certainly reflecting accepted wisdom in the oil patch at the time.

One can also assume that the major portion of ExxonMobil's production was in place predating 2000 and continues producing today. Being conservative and taking an average of $13 ceiling for installed capacity predating 2000 and the $25 ceiling today, a reasonable average production cost for ExxonMobil today could be calculated at a figure of $19 per barrel. The actual production costs are probably a great deal less given that drilling and infrastructure costs for much of their production have long since been amortized and the numbers cited are more representative of 'ceiling' numbers than much lower actuals. Let's stay with what we have, that is at an average production cost of $19/bbl, in all likelyhood with royalties included, one arrives at the following calculation:

Income- on 4.129 million bbls/day@ $70/bbl = $289,030,000 per day

Production Cost- on 4.129 million bbls/day@ $19/bbl= $78,451,000 per day

Or as the industry would phrase it, earnings of 368% on every dollar in crude oil equivalent sales!

Of course, to look better, that is to minimize the appearance of voraciousness, there are many ways of reducing net income, from capital expenditures to munificent salaries and golden handshakes such as ex Chairman Lee Raymond's $400 million plus "goodbye". In any case, I do hope Washington is listening. These guy's certainly need another tax allowance or royalty dispensation. It breaks ones heart to think of all those "K" Street lobbying bills they have to pay.

As for the American Petroleum Institute one can only thank them for their illuminating information and marvel at their abiding belief in our gullibility.

As for the rest of us, I think we should all remember that the gouging starts not with the local distributor nor at the gas station but at the wellhead.


Katrina revealed inadequate response: Bush

Katrina revealed inadequate response: Bush
By Tabassum Zakaria

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (Reuters) - Nearly one year after Hurricane Katrina created a humanitarian and political crisis, President George W. Bush said on Saturday the storm showed the government was unprepared to respond to a disaster of that magnitude and revealed "deep-seated poverty" in America.

Political fallout from the hurricane, which killed more than 1,000 people and displaced tens of thousands, was severe for Bush last year, sending his public opinion ratings to new lows amid widespread criticism that the government's response had been too slow.

He returns next week to the scene of one of the worst natural disasters in American history to meet with local residents and officials to review progress in rebuilding New Orleans and communities along the Gulf Coast that were flooded and destroyed.

"One year after the storms, the Gulf Coast continues down the long road to recovery. In Mississippi and Louisiana, we can see many encouraging signs of recovery and renewal, and many reminders that hard work still lies ahead," Bush said.

"We will stay until the job is done," he pledged in his weekly radio address from Maine, where he was visiting family.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat, accused the administration of failing in its hurricane response a year ago and leaving the country exposed to another disaster.

"Countless neighborhoods appear as if the hurricanes were just yesterday and they serve as harsh reminders of how our nation was so unprepared," she said in the Democratic response to Bush's radio address.

"Unfortunately, our nation in many ways remains unprepared for major disasters, whether they be hurricanes, earthquakes, or terrorist attacks."


Democrats, hoping to win control of at least one chamber of Congress in November elections, have been actively trying to remind voters of the Republican administration's slow federal response to Katrina immediately after the hurricane hit.

"It's past time we hold government officials accountable, not just for their policies, but for their follow-through and their competence," Landrieu said.

Some critics have charged the government's slow response to the hurricane was due to racism because the areas hit were largely poor and black, an accusation that administration officials have strongly denied.

"Unfortunately, Katrina also revealed that federal, state, and local governments were unprepared to respond to such an extraordinary disaster," Bush said. "And the floodwaters exposed a deep-seated poverty that has cut people off from the opportunities of our country."

Bush said while the federal government was playing a "vital role" in rebuilding efforts, it was the responsibility of state and local governments to take the lead.

"The federal government will continue to do its part -- yet a reborn Gulf Coast must reflect the needs, the vision, and the aspirations of the people of Mississippi and Louisiana," Bush said.

"And their state and local officials have a responsibility to help set priorities and make tough decisions, so people can plan their futures with confidence," he said.

Bush issued a proclamation declaring August 29, the anniversary of the storm, as a "National Day of Remembrance of Hurricane Katrina" that Americans should mark with appropriate observances.

On Tuesday, Bush was scheduled to visit New Orleans to meet Mayor Ray Nagin and attend a church service marking the Katrina anniversary.

(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan in Washington)