« Katrina Comments | Main | How Many Ways Can You Say “Let Them Eat Cake” »

September 03, 2005

Letter To Condoleezza Rice

Dear Ms. Condi:

How are you? I am fine. How did you enjoy Spam-A-Lot? I enjoyed it quite a lot. Ha! I’m a poet and I don’t even know it!

Of course, while I was attending Spam-A-Lot, not a single poor black baby bobbed up from the filth and the shit and the unine flowing down the streets of a major southern city. How sad. How sad.

I hope your brand new shoes fit. If the shoe fits, you must be full of shit.

Hope you enjoy running the world as much as I enjoy watching you do it.


Posted by Mike Gold at September 3, 2005 04:56 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Like I said, they don't even bother to pretend to care.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at September 3, 2005 06:07 PM

You're mad because she went to see Spam- A- Lot? And that means she doesn't care?

My brother and his wife are somewhere in New Orleans area. Haven't heard from them and yes, I' ve been trying to reach them. When I'm not, I'm living my life like normal. Going to work, laughing and joking with my friends, going to the video store and renting a movie. Apparently, because I'm not fretting 24/7 about the fate of my brother, I don't give a damn.

Just out of curiosity is there ever a time when you guys on the left DON'T think it's appropriate to take pot shots at the administration? Let's see, Wellstone Memorial, 9-11, Hurricane Katrina... nope, guess not.

I'll let you know if I ever find my brother, you know, if I think about it.

Posted by: eclark1849 at September 3, 2005 10:00 PM

Truly sorry to hear about your brother and wife. Hope they come out of this all right.

As for taking "pot shots" at the administration, with all due respect, I don't really expect the same standard of behavior from you as I do from the secretary of state or the president.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at September 3, 2005 10:31 PM

My favorite comment on this came from Wonkette, no friend of the administrations she:

Drudge brings disturbing news:

Theater goers were shocked to see the president's former National Security Adviser at the Monty Python farce last night...

We assume that the eyewitness, on the other hand, spent the entire play weeping uncontrollably, phoning in credit card donations to the Salvation Army and organizing sandbagging efforts. Seriously: You can't expect everyone to don hair shirts and roll around in broken glass just because thousands of their fellow Americans are suffering.

As usual, just when it looks like Bush is in trouble, his enemies overreach and look as crazy as possible. What next--civil rights leaders claiming that Black people in New Orleans are eating the dead?

Posted by: Bill Mulligan at September 4, 2005 12:19 AM

The original complaint against Rice can be found at snopes.com.

What I found interesting about the shoe thing is that at the store where it supposedly occurred (Ferragamo), "several thousand dollars' worth of shoes" could be a single pair. It's also worth noting that in this tale, the "fellow shopper" who shouted at Ms Rice was in the process of, obviously, purchasing her own pair (or more) of ludicrously overpriced shoes, whose cost could have been donated to the Red Cross, or other worthy organization, to help with the cleanup after Katrina.

I'm no defender of Bush or any of his borderline-evil cronies, but I think we can find enough bad things to point out regarding them that we don't need to invent or exaggerate incidents...

Posted by: Jonathan (the other one) at September 4, 2005 12:33 AM

Yes, we can find enough bad things to point out without inventing or exaggerating incidents.
AND THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT UPSETS OUR RESIDENT BUSH-DEFENDERS. We DO point out "bad things" that Dubya and his inner clique have been doing, and it just pisses them off.
The Shrub himself was too busy eating cake at a McCain birthday bash (let's not be so "spiteful" as to deem it a "celebration" or "party", 'cause that would just be more evidence of Bush-bashing) and playing guitar at another event to even COMMENT on Katrina. Not even a mealy-mouthed "let's keep them in our prayers".
What has to be remembered--first and foremost--DUBYA DOESN'T CARE ABOUT ANYONE OTHER THAN HIMSELF. And this disaster--much of which has been exaggerated by Dubya's own policies (not merely by depriving Louisiana of more than 1/3 of their National Guardsmen, but appointing as head of FEMA a lawyer whose last significant job was for the International Arabian Horse Association, and putting FEMA itself under the Department of Homeland Security)--should be more than enough proof of Dubya's lack of care. It seems that the Times-Picayune has reported that 3 tons of food had to sit while the Shrub made his photo op, because air traffic in the NOLA area was restricted as long as the Shrub's chopper might be airbound.
If you Bush-defenders are so upset, just ask yourself how you would REALLY be reacting if it were a Democrat in the White House and the same level of federal response were taken. I don't mean a "well, I would hope I wouldn't be so anti-DemocratPresident"; I mean a real reaction.
Don't attack me for daring to criticize Dubya's (lack of) actions during this crisis. I'm only pointing out the Emperor's new clothes. You don't like it--tough.
Hell, at the very least, Dubya could criticize the Limbaughs of this world who've dared attack those who had no ability to flee the city before the storm hit. As yet, though, I haven't heard any reporting of such criticism coming from Dubya.

Posted by: JosephW at September 4, 2005 05:33 AM

Just like her president, the secretary of state is entitled to "get on with her life." But while they're both in office, it would be nice if they "got on with it" in a manner befitting their job titles. Comparing the secretary of state to other theater goers is a specious argument because no on is critizing the actions of average citizens. It is the actions of the leaders of our country that are in question. And it is not a single incident that is in question; it's the larger and fairly consistent pattern of which it is indicative.

For me personally, it's the sheer stupidity and raw hubris that concerns me the most. It would take so little effort for them to merely put up a convincing front, but they don't even bother to do that.

And if you don't find the comment about "phoning in credit card donations" the least bit ironic (or even if you do) I recommend the Red Cross (redcross.org), Habitat for Humanity (habitat.org), and Second Harvest (secondharvest.org). I, for one, am not letting my anger at the government's misuse of our tax dollars stand in the way of helping the victims of this tragedy.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at September 4, 2005 09:33 AM

Hubris indeed, Rick.

The Bush Administration has come under rightful criticism -- from people who are otherwise its supporters as well as from the evil "left" -- for its deathly slow response to the Katrina situation. Many were particularly outraged at Bush's "who could have predicting the levies would break" comment.

For Condi to choose that particular time to go to a hit Broadway musical and to go on a Fifth Avenue spending spree is not only bad taste (and, damn, when I think something is bad taste...) and insensitivity in the extreme, it is very, very, very bad politics. She did her collaborators no good here.

As a willful celebrity, she has a more limited right to privacy than an average citizen. She must be aware that her actions are going to be covered by the media. She blew it big time, at the worst possible time.

As for suggestions of hypocracy, well, it's a shame this blog didn't exist during Clinton's administration.

Or Kennedy's.

Or CERTAINLY Superbird's.

Posted by: Mike Gold at September 4, 2005 11:16 AM

Ms. Rice was also infamous for her "who could have predicted that someone would fly a plane into a building" statement. The radar screen of the Bush Administration is very small indeed.

Posted by: Marilyn Ferdinand at September 4, 2005 12:48 PM

I don't have a problem with criticiszing Bush or his adminstration about legitimate stuff, but criticizing someone for taking in a play, geez. If her job were somehow tied to the disaster, I might agree with the criticism. Hey she ate dinner that night I'm sure while people were starving, let's nail her for that too.

BTW, Rick, since you're the only person here who actually expressed sympathy or concern about my brother, thank you. I haven't personally heard from him yet, but my sister called to let me know that he had contacted her. They lost all their property, but they are all right themselves.

Posted by: eclark1849 at September 4, 2005 03:44 PM


Glad to hear your brother and wife are safe. I wish them and you the best in the days, weeks, and months to come. Whatever our petty differences, I hope we can all work together to overcome -- and learn from -- all of this.

OMG, I'm starting to sound like a card-carrying liberal. I'm not, really.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at September 4, 2005 04:39 PM

Long after the mindless bashings of the critics have faded from memory, like the tantrum of petulant child, some good will probably come from this. For one thing, I think most of us were unaware of just how complicated it is to do things that seem very basic.

For starters, the basic truth is that the Federal government should not be expected to be much of a factor for the first few days. The Washington Post has an article that is quite critical of FEMA but also includes this intriguing truth:
Other federal and state officials pointed to Louisiana's failure to measure up to national disaster response standards, noting that the federal plan advises state and local emergency managers not to expect federal aid for 72 to 96 hours, and base their own preparedness efforts on the need to be self-sufficient for at least that period. "Fundamentally the first breakdown occurred at the local level," said one state official who works with FEMA. 'Did the city have the situational awareness of what was going on within its borders? The answer was no."

I don't know about you guys but if you are in MY state you might just want to assume that the locals don't have much of a plan for that crucial 4 days. Plan accordingly.

Another shocker--those of us who were screaming for the army to get in there and do something were unaware that to do so is illegal: from the LA Times:

Although active-duty U.S. troops are being used in the relief effort, constitutional limits prevent them from performing law enforcement duties.

Pentagon officials stressed that only National Guard troops, which are under the control of governors when operating within the United States, may be given law enforcement duties.

The president CAN issue a decree allowing them to take part but it is only under certain rules. From a comment at the Protein Wisdom weblog:

Under the Posse Comitatus Act (18 U.S.C. § 1385), the president can’t use armed forces (including national guard in federal service) for law enforcement absent congressional directive. (Some courts, however, have held that this does not apply to the Navy (U.S. v. Yunis, 924 F.2d 1086 (C.A.D.C. 1991)) and the Coast Guard (U.S. v. Chaparro-Almeida, 679 F.2d 423 (5th Cir. 1982)), both of which seem to be more useful here, since it looks like that nobody without boats can provide any serious logistical or enforcement functions in NO.)

But upon request of the governor, or perhaps on his own initiative, the president can use the federal military by invoking the Insurrection Act (10 U.S.C. §§ 331-34). What’s happening in NO might be called “insurrection” or “rebellion,” but that’s a politically-dangerous stretch.

I doubt that the governor will make such a request. She seems to be very interested in keeping control of the situation out of the feds hands any more than is needed.

From the Washington Post again (I apologize to Joseph W for my reliance on such right-wing Republican rags as The Washington Post and LA Times)

Behind the scenes, a power struggle emerged, as federal officials tried to wrest authority from Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D). Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans, a source within the state’s emergency operations center said Saturday.

The administration sought unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. Some officials in the state suspected a political motive behind the request.

Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday, three state and federal officials said. As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said

(this last part is somewhat in error-the area was declared a disaster area ahead of time, on the 26th I think. But this is apparently something to do with getting federal money freed up early and does not allow the Feds to take control or use the military unless additional requests come in. At least, that's what seems to be true.)

While the first response of some has been to quickly try to score political points--and there will be a time for that and there will be plenty to go around, from Bush appointing hacks to lead FEMA to Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco not mobilizing buses to get the poor out of town--I'm more impressed with those who have organized aid and begun to explore how we can streamline this way too cumbersome system.

I can see why sates may not want to cede to the Federal government to ability to invade with troops on a whim but really, how likely is that to be abused, outside of the paranoid fantasies of those at the political extremes?

Every god damned school in the country has a plan to evacuate the kids from the building. Every city should be obligated, by law if need be, do have a plan for an evacuation in the shortest time possible and be forced to have the means to accomplish it and someone who is in charge of seeing that it is done. Hell, I thought they already did! Shows what I know...

Posted by: Bill Mulligan at September 4, 2005 07:47 PM

So the Washington Post is reporting that Gov. Blanco has still not declared a state of emergency. Is this woman insane??? Like Bill is saying...look to the first line of defense - that's where things crumbled.

Posted by: Rob Thornton at September 4, 2005 08:30 PM

Thank God for the internet...really, thank God. So you can look up amusing bits of wisdom form previous years like the following from The New York Tims, the same folks who are no critical of cuts to the Army Corp of Engineers:

Anyone who cares about responsible budgeting and the health of America's rivers and wetlands should pay attention to a bill now before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The bill would shovel $17 billion at the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control and other water-related projects -- this at a time when President Bush is asking for major cuts in Medicaid and other important domestic programs. Among these projects is a $2.7 billion boondoggle on the Mississippi River that has twice flunked inspection by the National Academy of Sciences.

The Government Accountability Office and other watchdogs accuse the corps of routinely inflating the economic benefits of its projects. And environmentalists blame it for turning free-flowing rivers into lifeless canals and destroying millions of acres of wetlands -- usually in the name of flood control and navigation but mostly to satisfy Congress's appetite for pork.

This is a bad piece of legislation.

Along those lines, anyone who thinks that the local government in New Orleans just didn't know what would happen should read http://www.wwltv.com/local/stories/091904ccktWWLIvanFlaws.132602486.html

It's from a year ago when Hurrican Ivan almost did what Katrina did.

Those who had the money to flee Hurricane Ivan ran into hours-long traffic jams. Those too poor to leave the city had to find their own shelter - a policy that was eventually reversed, but only a few hours before the deadly storm struck land.

New Orleans dodged the knockout punch many feared from the hurricane, but the storm exposed what some say are significant flaws in the Big Easy's civil disaster plans.

Much of New Orleans is below sea level, kept dry by a system of pumps and levees. As Ivan charged through the Gulf of Mexico, more than a million people were urged to flee. Forecasters warned that a direct hit on the city could send torrents of Mississippi River backwash over the city's levees, creating a 20-foot-deep cesspool of human and industrial waste.

Residents with cars took to the highways. Others wondered what to do.

"They say evacuate, but they don't say how I'm supposed to do that," Latonya Hill, 57, said at the time. "If I can't walk it or get there on the bus, I don't go. I don't got a car. My daughter don't either."

Nice to see that they learned NOTHING.

Posted by: Bill Mulligan at September 4, 2005 08:48 PM

A couple of points:

1. It's quite easy for the federal government to declare that local governments are basically on their own for emergency evacuation and immediate disaster relief, since it takes virtually no effort or resources to declare that it's someone else's problem. And this change in FEMA's charter is a recent development, part of the Bush administration's grand scheme to scale back federal services. They pulled a similar ploy with the EPA, attempting to dump responsibility (and the associated expense) for enforcing EPA regulations on the states. Some people think that's a good thing, but this is what you get with that kind of vision. Many cities simply don't have the resources. New Orleans is a great example, with one of highest unemployment and poverty rates in the country.

2. Regular military units wouldn't be necessary if there were sufficient state National Guard units available, but the federal government has sort of borrowed a large chunk of the National Guard (and their equipment) for its own purposes far, far away.

You can't have it both ways: Tell the states and cities to take care of themselves, and then take away the resources they need to do it.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at September 4, 2005 11:06 PM

2. Regular military units wouldn't be necessary if there were sufficient state National Guard units available, but the federal government has sort of borrowed a large chunk of the National Guard (and their equipment) for its own purposes far, far away.

Ok, fair enough. Is there any evidence that Gov. Blanco called out the National Guard but there were not enough to do the job? That would be a perfectly good reason to critisize Bush but I've found no evidence that anything of the kind happened. Everything I've read says that the Louisianna forces still were at 2/3 full strength and the difference (and more) was easily made up by other states. the problem seems more to have been taht they were not called up early enough or deployed efficiantly enough. Given the problems at the superdome last year why weren't any deployed inside???

Posted by: Bill Mulligan at September 5, 2005 01:00 AM

I suspect there's plenty of blame to go around. In the shoulda/woulda/coulda department, the opinion of the NYT not withstanding, had the levees been repaired/reinforced and/or the protective wetlands not been destroyed, maybe we wouldn't be having this debate.

As for the Louisiana National Guard, there are two parts to that equation: personnel and equipment. Was two-thirds of the necessary equipment available? (And two-thirds is still...um...one-third less than would have been available under other circumstances.)

At this point, I'm just as concerned about what might happen next time as I am about repairing the damage from this event. Although I'm a believer in state's rights, I shudder to think that my governor (a Democrat, incidently) would be the primary coordinator of disaster relief (and sole coordinator, apparently, for the first 72 hours) in a crisis of equivalent magnitude. Aside from the fact that my state, like many others, is basically broke, I think he's a bumbling idiot. But maybe that falls in the category of "you get the government you deserve."

Finally, in regard to bringing in Guard troops from other states and the larger role/power of the federal government, here are a few quotes from a Yahoo news item:

"New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson offered Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco help from his state's National Guard last Sunday, the day before Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. Blanco accepted, but paperwork needed to get the troops en route didn't come from Washington until late Thursday."

"Bush had the legal authority to order the National Guard to the disaster area himself, as he did after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks . But the troops four years ago were deployed for national security protection, and presidents of both parties traditionally defer to governors to deploy their own National Guardsmen and request help from other states when it comes to natural disasters.

In addition to Guard help, the federal government could have activated, but did not, a major air support plan under a pre-existing contract with airlines. The program, called Civilian Reserve Air Fleet, lets the government quickly put private cargo and passenger planes into service. "

Posted by: Rick Oliver at September 5, 2005 09:35 AM

In addition to Guard help, the federal government could have activated, but did not, a major air support plan under a pre-existing contract with airlines. The program, called Civilian Reserve Air Fleet, lets the government quickly put private cargo and passenger planes into service. "

Interesting. I wonder why it wasn't requested, unless it's something obvious like there is no place to land them.

Seems like what is really needed are boats, though even these have problems, as Sean Penn found out yesterday. not the brightest light in the chandelier but give him credit for trying.

(And two-thirds is still...um...one-third less than would have been available under other circumstances.)

Granted. But is there evidence taht the 2/3 left were deployed and stretched too thin? From what I've seen the problem was that they were not used or usaed poorly--it would not have taken very many to make the situation at the Superdome more tolerable. How does a city expect tens of thousands of people to crowd into a building and NOT have chaos occur?

Posted by: Bill Mulligan at September 5, 2005 10:11 AM

"Seems like what is really needed are boats..."

It's my understanding (as yet unconfirmed) that part of the Louisiana National Guard's arsenal is a fair number of amphibious craft, which for some reason were mostly shipped off to Iraq. That may be an unfounded rumor -- but I'm willing to bet that more than one-third of their helicopters were much closer to an entirely different gulf at the time Katrina made landfall. That is, of course, entirely idle speculation on my part. Many things will be revealed in the course of time.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at September 5, 2005 10:51 AM

What was more amazing to me than anything else posted here is that a sister didn't feel the need to worry 24/7 over her missing brother and sister in law who were in the midst of a national disaster where there were deplorable conditions and mounting deaths,..how compassionate of her,..I guess we can understand all her opinions from that point on.
I guess I am a bleeding heart liberal then,..because I frankly spent more time worried over her brother and everyone else in his circumstances than this heartless person. But I guess she should feel happy knowing she has the most appropriate president for her world view, because he cares even less about her and her country than she cared for her brother in his time of need, if that's possible.

Posted by: Lisa at September 15, 2005 11:18 AM

The Total Car Care series continues to lead all other do-it-yourself automotive repair manuals. This series offers do-it-yourselfers of all levels maintenance, service, and repair information in an easy-to-use format. Covers all models of F-150, F-250, F-350, F-Super Duty including Chassis Cab, Commercial Chassis, and F-Series Motor Home chassis; Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator; 2 and 4 wheel drive, gasoline and diesel engines.
Cutomer Review 0: The book barely mentioned the trip/mileage computer much less what to do to troubleshoot, remove and replace or what else might cause a blank screen. I was very disappointed that even the wiring diagrams showed nothing concerning this unit. Also to try and track down the circuit involved the book gave no help on basics such as the fuses involved.

Posted by: Ben Joe at September 26, 2005 06:58 AM

Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)