Good evening. I'll start off with Democracy Now!
Federal Government Attempts to Block Press Access To New Orleans
In New Orleans the federal government is being accused of trying to censor the images coming out of the devastated city. The Reuters news agency is reporting that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is now rejecting requests by journalists to accompany rescue boats searching for storm victims. In addition journalists are being asked not to photograph any dead bodies in the region. Critics of FEMA's request compared the policy to the Pentagon's policy that bars reporters from taking photographs of the caskets of soldiers killed in Iraq. NBC News Anchor Brian Williams is reporting that police officers have been seen aiming their weapons at members of the media. And a blogger named Bob Brigham has written a widely read dispatch that the National Guard in Jefferson County are under orders to turn all journalists away. Brigham writes QUIOTE "Bush is now censoring all reporting from New Orleans Louisiana. The First Amendment sank with the city."
It's happening all over again but this time it's happening here. Elaine wrote about this yesterday, how the press has themselves to blame because they have cowtowed to the Bully Boy for the last five years. They gave up their rights and now they're having more rights stripped from them. Overseas, like in Iraq, they gave up even more rights. Now they have little but Operation Happy Talk to offer. It's a shame because not everyone kissed ass. Helen Thomas didn't. Donahue didn't but they cancelled him. And we've had some really brave people like Amy Goodman, Robert Parry, Juan Gonzalez (especially with his depleted uranium story), Jane Mayer, Seymour Hersh and a few others.
But we had a lot of them blowing kisses at each other and at the Bully Boy. Now they find that kisses ain't enough and the administration wants to take even more. I don't feel sorry for them. I don't really feel sorry for us. We already know how they trade access for truth telling. We've been warned off by their own work.
FEMA Filled With Political Appointees, Not Disaster Experts
Questions are also being raised as to why the Bush administration chose to appoint a number of other top officials at FEMA who had no experience handling disasters. FEMA's deputy director and chief of staff Patrick Rhode, was an advance man for the Bush-Cheney campaign and the White House. The agency's third-highest ranking official, Scott Morris, was a public relations expert who worked for a Texas company that produced TV and radio spots for the Bush-Cheney campaign.
See this is the sort of thing we should have known about and had blasting from the front page of every paper when these idiots were being appointed. The press does the same thing with John Roberts right now. They just act like it doesn't matter and besides they're too busy being friends in D.C.
So I don't feel real sorry for them. They made themselves a joke.
The lesson here is support and go to independent media. And let me 1 more time recommend Democracy Now! because it's the all time best.
Check out Elaine because she's spotlighting the same two items.
Leanne e-mailed me that I needed to write more about Elaine blogging and I agree. I was just not prepared to find out that she was going to blog or that she was already blogging. It blew my mind.
I'm still blown away. And you heard her here last night, we did this. See what we can do? We can do a lot more. But Elaine wasn't wanting to blog. She was serious about not blogging and doing her own site. I don't think we forced her, but I do think we persuaded her. And that's what we need to do with some of our elected officials, we need to persuade them.
I think we can do it. So let's get focused on bringing the troops home. And let's get motivated on supporting indymedia because the "official record" has betrayed us.
The one and only wonderful Dave Zirin had a great article at CounterPunch that I missed but Tony pointed it out to me today. Here's a slice from his "The Earth's Most Damnable Homeless Shelter: The Superdome: Monument to a Rotten System:"
There is nothing "unnatural" about the disaster of New Orleans. When politicians smirk at global warming, when developers look at our wetlands and dream of mini malls, when billions are flushed in the name of war and tax-cuts, when issues of poverty and racism don't even register in Presidential debates, all it takes is wind, albeit 145 mph wind, to expose a sturdy super power as a house of cards.
Nowhere is this personified more painfully than in a monument to corporate greed that has rapidly become the earth's most damnable homeless shelter, the Louisiana Superdome.
The Superdome is perhaps the most unintentionally appropriate name since Mr. and Mrs. Cheney looked at their newborn son and said, "Dick." It was birthed in 1975 with pomp and bombast, as the largest domed facility in the world. It was also funded entirely on the public dime. In a case of brutal foreshadowing that would shame a B horror flick, the dome was constructed on an old cemetery for the poor. The burial grounds were dug up and discarded with a promise that the Superdome would the centerpiece of a New Orleans "Central Business District" that would benefit all. The results are certainly now in plain, ugly view. This past week, 25,000 people, walked through its doors, many for the first time. They entered a stadium where tickets go for 90 bucks a pop, season passes cost $1,300 and luxury boxes can run for as much as $109,000. The arena boasts of having a capacity that can comfortably seat 72,000 people, with 9,000 tons of air conditioning, and 88 massive restrooms. But for the 25,000 that can't afford the oxygen, there has been no air conditioning and bathrooms without electricity, running water, or working toilets. Feces and garbage now pack the upper decks. The traumatized people finally emerging tell of dead bodies on the 50 yard line. One man even committed suicide, throwing himself off the upper deck. Democratic Governor Kathleen Blanco called the Superdome shelter strategy an "experiment", when asked if it could hold the storm or the flood. Chuck D's line about Housing Projects comes to mind when he said, "What is a project but another word for experiment?"
Saints' receiver Joe Horn has looked at the place where he has set receiving records and said that football couldn't be farther from his mind. "It's devastating to us. I've cried three or four times. Seeing kids without any food, elderly people dying and the government saying that help is on the way - that's the most shocking part."
If you don't know about Dave Zirin, you can read this discussion we had on his book at The Third Estate Sunday Review: "Third Estate Sunday Review: 1 Book, Ten Minutes."