3rd Quarter 2005
Episodes 384, 385, 386, 387, 388, 389, 390, 391

Episode #384: They Deserve the Real Facts
First Broadcast: 6/27/05 Episode began at 1:59:50 AM. Episode ended at 2:27:49 AM, apparently cutting off the last few seconds of our program.
We start this episode by going over some ridiculously boneheaded remarks by White House advisor Karl Rove, specifically:

Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.

He also went on to say that "moderation and restraint is not what was called for. It was a moment to summon our national will - and to brandish steel." Aside from the likelihood that these remarks were meant to cast those who disagree with this White House as somehow unwilling to defend the country when attacked, could there be any greater indication that this White House is naturally inclined to respond to situations with violence instead of diplomacy? Steel-brandishing psycho.

Next, we mention how--once again--George W. Bush is still trying to tie Saddam Hussein together with Al Qaeda, despite all evidence to the contrary that Iraq had nothing to do with the events of September 11, 2001. Said Mr. Bush in his June 18, 2005, radio address:

We went to war because we were attacked, and we are at war today because there are still people out there who want to harm our country and hurt our citizens. Some may disagree with my decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, but all of us can agree that the world's terrorists have now made Iraq a central front in the war on terror.

So, if in a discussion about the (still undeclared) Iraq war, Bush mentions that "we went to war because we were attacked," what else are we supposed to infer but that the United States went to war in Iraq because it was attacked on 9-11? And if that's what Bush is implying, doesn't that mean he still thinks Iraq and Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9-11, even though the 9-11 commission itself said that "to date we have seen no evidence that these or the earlier contacts [between Iraq and Al Qaeda] ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States." How long is Bush planning to keep this up? Until the end of his term? Will he end up being impeached as a result of the Downing Street memos?

Also: Ted Kennedy calls Iraq a "quagmire" to Donald Rumsfeld's face, and Jeb Bush proves that there is no level too low for him to stoop, when he decided to investigate if Michael Schiavo was somehow responsible for his late vegetative wife Terry's death by not calling 911 fast enough fifteen years ago, even though it's apparently never been challenged as an issue in any of the court cases that determined Mrs. Schiavo's right to die during the same time period. Shame on Jeb Bush! Shame on George W. Bush! Is it 2008 yet?

Episode #385: In Search Of The Giant Squid
First Broadcast: 7/11/05 Episode began at 2:00:20 AM. Episode ended at 2:27:50 AM, cutting off our end credits.
Does it make sense that George W. Bush said through his National Security Advisor, Stephen Hadley, of the new President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that...

... the administration did not approve of the way he was elected. Bush denounced the election earlier this month, saying it was designed to maintain power in the hands of an unelected few who denied ballot access to more than 1,000 people who wanted to run.

As I've said before, irony seems to be totally lost on this administration.

Moving on, is it any surprise that Bush is still trying to link Iraq to the September 11, 2001, attacks, even though not one investigation has turned up anything even remotely resembling Iraqi involvement in those events? Witness these remarks from a prime-time speech Bush made on June 28, that was ostensibly about Iraq:

We are fighting against men with blind hatred and armed with lethal weapons who are capable of any atrocity. They wear no uniform; they respect no laws of warfare or morality. They take innocent lives to create chaos for the cameras. They are trying to shake our will in Iraq just as they tried to shake our will on September 11, 2001.

Now, I don't know about you, but when I use the same pronoun twice in the same sentence (i.e., "they") in the way Mr. Bush did, it usually implies that the pronoun stands in for the same noun in both instances. Needless to say, the idea that "they" who perpetrated the 9-11 hijackings are the same "they" who are attacking Americans in Iraq is a total lie. "They" who hijacked those planes are all dead. Any other "they" is a different "they" by definition. Therefore, no "they" in Iraq can be part of the "they" from 9-11, yet Bush links the two as if they are all part of some single, worldwide, monolithic movement against Americans, when nothing could be further from the truth, as anyone taking a more than superficial look at the globe can tell. Enough of that nonsense!

Finally, I am actually glad that New York City was not chosen for the 2012 Olympics. The idea did not have popular support in the city in the first place, the proposals for developing Olympic sites (specifically, the West Side Stadium) were not made with local residents in mind, and, in all honesty, I just do not think this city deserves to be saddled with another event that would be surrounded with so much crowding, congestion, and security that it would make the 2004 Republican National Convention look like a traffic stop. Perhaps the next time politicians want to do something on such a massive scale in New York, they'll have the decency to ask its citizens first.

Episode #386: They Ought To Be Fired
First Broadcast: 7/18/05
The Karl Rove scandal breaks wide open this week as the White House Press Corps finally discovers its spine. Specifically, Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper revealed that White House Advisor (and close friend to George W. Bush) Karl Rove had confirmed to him that Joseph Wilson's wife was a C.I.A. employee, and that Rove was also peddling the story that Wilson's wife somehow engineered Wilson's trip to Africa in an attempt to discredit Bush's claims that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Niger--even though Rove and White House spokesman Scott McClellan had been denying Rove's involvement from day one, when Robert Novak first revealed in his column in 2003 that Wilson's wife was a C.I.A. employee, evaporating any remnants of secrecy that her identity might have had in the past. Suddenly faced with the bald-faced truth that they had been lied to and misled by the White House yet again, the White House reporters struck back with the ferocity of a cornered animal, and the White House, faced with agressive questioning for the first time in a long while, responded with time-honored techniques of the Nixon administration: stonewall, and the "non-denial denial," as demonstrated by Mr. McClellan in this press briefing on July 11:

Q Do you stand by your statement from the fall of 2003 when you were asked specifically about Karl and Elliott Abrams and Scooter Libby, and you said, "I've gone to each of those gentlemen, and they have told me they are not involved in this" -- do you stand by that statement?

MR. McCLELLAN: And if you will recall, I said that as part of helping the investigators move forward on the investigation we're not going to get into commenting on it. That was something I stated back near that time, as well.

Q Scott, I mean, just -- I mean, this is ridiculous. The notion that you're going to stand before us after having commented with that level of detail and tell people watching this that somehow you decided not to talk. You've got a public record out there. Do you stand by your remarks from that podium, or not?

MR. McCLELLAN: And again, David, I'm well aware, like you, of what was previously said, and I will be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time. The appropriate time is when the investigation --

Q Why are you choosing when it's appropriate and when it's inappropriate?

MR. McCLELLAN: If you'll let me finish --

Q No, you're not finishing -- you're not saying anything. You stood at that podium and said that Karl Rove was not involved. And now we find out that he spoke out about Joseph Wilson's wife. So don't you owe the American public a fuller explanation? Was he involved, or was he not? Because, contrary to what you told the American people, he did, indeed, talk about his wife, didn't he?

MR. McCLELLAN: David, there will be a time to talk about this, but now is not the time to talk about it.

Q Do you think people will accept that, what you're saying today?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I've responded to the question.

Hopefully, these reporters and others will not only keep up the heat on this story, but will also be equally agressive when questioning the White House on other items as well--with Iraq being at the top of the list. Maybe they should also lean on Senator Hillary Clinton, and ask her if demonizing Mature-rated video games is really the most important issue for her to pursue at the moment.

Episode #387: Constitutional Whats-it
First Broadcast: 7/25/05 Episode began at 1:59:54 AM.
So, because bombs exploded in the London subway on two dates in two weeks, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg--apparently without consulting anyone in the City Council (you know, the representatives of the people who live here)--decided to make all bags and packages being brought into the New York City subway subject to random searches upon a person's entrance into the system. The problem with this policy--aside from the lack of open debate on the issue with the city's citizens--is that it is unconstitutional, in that it is a plain violation of the Fourth Amendment. As a reminder, here is the text of the Amendment, unaltered since the Bill of Rights was made law in 1791:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

By definition, a random search of the type now being conducted by the NYPD upon straphangers does not have probable cause, and it certainly doesn't have a warrant describing the place to be searched or the persons or things to be seized, so it is ipso facto unconstitutional. It also presumes that all potential transit riders are guilty, and that they must prove their innocence before boarding a train--a stance totally at odds with the way the criminal justice system is supposed to work in this country. Donna Lieberman, the Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, sums it up with this statement:

All New Yorkers rely upon public transportation and we all want them to be safe and secure as we go about our daily activities. We are entitled to move freely around the city without being worried about being searched by police.

The NYPD can and should investigate any suspicious activity, but the Fourth Amendment prohibits police from conducting searches where there is no suspicion of criminal activity. One of the dangers of random searches is that they can invite the possibility of racial, ethnic or religious profiling. The plan is not workable and will not make New Yorkers more secure but will inconvenience them as police go about finding a needle in a haystack.

The NYCLU urges you to know your constitutional rights before you enter the subway, and also encourages you to fill out their "bag search survey" if you do get searched. I also encourage carrying a copy of the Fourth Amendment around with you in large clear print, so that if police do search your bag it is the first thing they see inside. Maybe that will remind them of the unlawful nature of this whole idea. Wasn't it Ben Franklin who said "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety"?

P.S.: Do me a favor and tell Hillary Clinton that the "secret" sexually-oriented graphics inside Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas are so lightweight that they barely deserve mention in Gamespot, let alone a federal investigation.

Episode #388: Hopped Up On Hybrid Cars And Subway Searches
First Broadcast: 8/1/05
We start by noticing that an energy bill passed by the House did absolutely nothing to raise the miles-per-gallon average of American cars--even though the E.P.A. said (in a delayed report) that "'fuel economy is directly related to energy security,' because consumer cars and trucks account for about 40 percent of the nation's oil consumption." The House also failed to include a measure "that would have required the president to find ways to cut oil use by 1 million barrels a day by 2025," even though American cars and trucks use "8.5 million barrels a day," according to David Friedman, Research Director for the Union of Concerned Scientists. Then, we move on to an issue that is still bugging the hell out of us: the unconstitutional random searches of bags of New York City subway passengers. Unconstitutional because, by their very random nature, they violate the Fourth Amendment: they are without probable cause, they are without warrants, and they certainly don't come with descriptions of the places to be searched or the persons or things to be seized--if anything is to be seized at all. For the same reasons, these searches also violate Article 1, Section 12 of the New York State Constitution--unconstitutional on two levels! And despite this obvious illegality, despite the undemocratic way this policy was suddenly imposed, and despite the obvious ineffectiveness this technique would have on any genuine criminal, the N.Y.P.D. still has the gall to say "We expect the searches will continue indefinitely," through their Deputy Chief Spokesman Paul Browne. How long before the popular resistance to these searches make the police rescind this policy? How many more routes will popular protest take? What are your rights? When will the NYCLU take one of these cases to court? Can we preserve our rights so that the cops don't go berserk, like those British cops in London who shot that Brazilian guy 7 times in the head, even though he had nothing to do with any of those London bombs of the past month? I'll probably have even more questions next week.

Episode #389: Narrow And Dry Decision
First Broadcast: 8/15/05
First of all, I want to encourage you to see Counter Convention when it gets screened again on Sunday, August 28, 2005, on the last day of the HOWL Festival. Second, I want to encourage George W. Bush to walk to the end of his fuckin' driveway and meet with Cindy Sheehan and tell her why he thinks her son had to die in Iraq. (Sheesh, even Nixon met with protestors once when he was President.) Third, I want to encourage the NYCLU to be aggressive in their lawsuit against the NYPD to stop the unconstitutional random searches of people's bags in the subway. Fourth, I want to encourage the Senate to aggressively question John Roberts about why he couldn't find some legal rationale to not let a 12-year-old girl be arrested and handcuffed for eating a single french fry on the Washington D.C. subway. More encouraging (or discouraging, as the case may be) words to come next week.

Episode #390: English Lit in a Calculus Class
First Broadcast: 8/22/05
We start tonight by prominently mentioning that our documentary, Counter Convention: A Free New York Special will be screened at the Pioneer Theater on the last night of this year's HOWL! Festival (Sunday, August 28, 2005), and encouraging all those who may be interested to see it on the big screen, if they're so inclined. It's already received some attention from The Village Voice in a little blurb about HOWL! in the August 17-23, 2005, issue. Specifically, speculating about "What Would Allen [Ginsberg] Do":

We're almost sure he'd wander into Karen Finley's performance piece on Terri Schiavo at Bowery Poetry Club and scour Counter Convention, the RNC documentary at the Pioneer Theater, for the faces of fellow protesters.

Of course, the late Mr. Ginsberg won't be able to join us on Sunday, but we feel privileged to think that he might be there in spirit.

After much talk about that, we discuss how George W. Bush is being a bit of a prick by not meeting with Cindy Sheehan to answer her questions about why her son died in Iraq, and we also talk about how Bush apparently does not believe in science, since he seems to equate the very unscientific idea of "intelligent design" with the very scientifically sound theory of evolution. Is it any wonder that he still doesn't believe that global warming is happening? Or that the predicted bird flu pandemic is a bigger threat than anything in Iraq? It's no wonder to me, anyway.

Episode #391: The Worst Case
First Broadcast: 9/5/05
Repeated: 3/6/06
By now, most people already know about the horrible conditions the people in New Orleans have had to endure in the wake of the flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina. However, just in case you need a reminder:

Those left behind in the Crescent City, including many with diabetes and other worsening health conditions, clung to rooftops, gathered on overpasses and bridges, and huddled on islands of dry ground, waiting for help that never came. Parents carried small children, and grown children carried their elderly parents through the flotsam. Corpses floated in fetid waters and lay amid the crowds of refugees. Helicopters airlifted hundreds of seriously ill patients to a makeshift field hospital at the city's airport. ...

One of the most squalid and desperate situations unfolded at the city's fetid Ernest M. Morial Convention Center, where thousands had assembled over the preceding two days but which, as of Thursday evening, still had no visible government presence. A half-dozen buses arrived at one point to take a small number of refugees, but none had come since, according to the stranded residents and tourists.

The center itself, dark and without power, was rank with sewage and trash, and was avoided by most of the crowd, who milled around outside. As many as seven corpses lay out in the open around wailing babies and other refugees, according to witnesses and news reports, including one dead man covered in a blue tarp in the middle of a street.

Desperate refugees at one point broke into the center's food-service area to retrieve water and other goods, and the crowds have been roiled by fights and at least one gunshot, according to interviews. Some food rations finally arrived Thursday, dropped by helicopter.

-- Washington Post, "A City of Despair and Lawlessness," by Sam Coates and Dan Eggen, Friday, September 2, 2005; Page A01

Another reporter described the scene at the Superdome, where residents were told to go for shelter, if they could not evacuate from the city:

The bathrooms, clogged and overflowing since Monday, announced the second level of hell, the walkway ringing the entrance level. In the men's, the urinal troughs were overflowing. In the women's, the bowls were to the brim. A slime of excrement and urine made the walkway slick. "You don't even go there anymore," said Dee Ford, 37, who was pushed in a wading pool from her flooded house to the shelter. "You just go somewhere in a corner where you can. In the dark, you are going to step in poo anyway."

-- Washington Post, "'And Now We Are in Hell,'" by Ann Gerhart, Thursday, September 1, 2005; Page A01

Another account of the conditions at the Convention Center:

At least seven bodies were scattered outside the convention center, a makeshift staging area for those rescued from rooftops, attics and highways. The sidewalks were packed with people without food, water or medical care, and with no sign of law enforcement.

An old man in a chaise lounge lay dead in a grassy median as hungry babies wailed around him. Around the corner, an elderly woman lay dead in her wheelchair, covered up by a blanket, and another body lay beside her wrapped in a sheet.

"I don't treat my dog like that," 47-year-old Daniel Edwards said as he pointed at the woman in the wheelchair.

"You can do everything for other countries, but you can't do nothing for your own people," he added. "You can go overseas with the military, but you can't get them down here."

The street outside the center, above the floodwaters, smelled of urine and feces, and was choked with dirty diapers, old bottles and garbage. ...

As he watched a line snaking for blocks through ankle-deep waters, New Orleans' emergency operations chief Terry Ebbert blamed the inadequate response on the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"This is not a FEMA operation. I haven't seen a single FEMA guy," he said. He added: "We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims, but we can't bail out the city of New Orleans."

-- "New Orleans in Anarchy With Fights, Rapes," by ALLEN G. BREED, Associated Press Writer, Thu Sep 1, 7:43 PM ET

Contrasting conditions near the Superdome:

"Itís chaotic, and it smells," said barbershop owner Ted Mitchell, who after three nights in the Dome was leaving Ė and contemplating walking back to his flooded home near Canal and Broad streets. "Itís worse than the Depression. That place is not fit for people to be living in."

"Theyíre treating people like prisoners in there," said Shelton Alexander as he left the Dome for the thigh-high waters of Poydras Street. "Itís so hot in there, and people are s---ting on the floors." ...

Evacuees also vented their anger at city officials, in particular Mayor Ray Nagin, who many said they felt should have put in an appearance at the Dome in a show of sympathy.

"Ray Nagin should come speak to these people," said Julie Joseph, who huddled in a bleacher seat with friends who nodded in agreement. "To be the mayor Ö he should have come in here. We got people who lost family members."

Even some of the police officers and military members assigned to the Dome Ė none of whom wanted to speak on the record Ė said they felt the situation was being poorly managed, if it was being managed at all.

"This plan was no plan," said one cop, shaking his head.

The hellish confines stood in stark contrast to those of people nearby in the restricted-access New Orleans Centre and Hyatt Hotel, where those who could get in lounged in relative comfort.

A few blocks farther away, guests were being fed "foie gras and rack of lamb" for dinner, according to a photographer who stayed there, while the masses, most of them poor, huddled in the Dome.

-- New Orleans Times-Picayune (NOLA.com), "Refugees find Dome an intolerable refuge," by Gordon Russell, Thursday, September 01, 2005

Echoing the feeling that there was no plan:

"I have to get out of here," said Albert Bryan, 58, shirtless and wearing all his jewelry. On Sunday, he was heading west out of Metairie in a two-car convoy with his wife, sister, two sons, daughter and three grandchildren. He was stuck in horrific traffic, going nowhere, and "the radio made the Superdome sound pretty good." In they came.

"None of this has been planned," he said. "Not a single elected official has come down here in days to talk to us and tell us anything, not the mayor, not the police chief, nobody. On Sunday the colonel said his main objective was to protect and serve, and that has been a mockery. No one has materialized to do anything. I'm a social worker, and I can tell you, no one thinks about the human aspects."

"This is mass chaos," said Sgt. Jason Defess, 27, a National Guard military policeman who had been stationed on a ramp outside the Superdome since Monday. "To tell you the truth, I'd rather be in Iraq," where he was deployed for 14 months, until January. "You got your constant danger, but I had something to protect myself. [And] three meals a day. Communications. A plan. Here, they had no plan."

-- Washington Post, "'And Now We Are in Hell,'" by Ann Gerhart, Thursday, September 1, 2005; Page A01

And what did George W. Bush have to say, when Diane Sawyer asked him, "But given the fact that everyone anticipated a hurricane five, a possible hurricane five hitting shore, are you satisfied with the pace at which this [aid] is arriving? And which it was planned to arrive?"

George W. Bush: "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm. But these levees got breached. And as a result, much of New Orleans is flooded. And now we are having to deal with it and will."

-- Washington Post, "A Dearth of Answers," by Dan Froomkin, Thursday, September 1, 2005; 12:30 PM

Sure, no one anticipated a breach of the levees. No one except the people who anticipated it, that is:

A year ago the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed to study how New Orleans could be protected from a catastrophic hurricane, but the Bush administration ordered that the research not be undertaken. After a flood killed six people in 1995, Congress created the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, in which the Corps of Engineers strengthened and renovated levees and pumping stations. In early 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a report stating that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S., including a terrorist attack on New York City. But by 2003 the federal funding for the flood control project essentially dried up as it was drained into the Iraq war. In 2004, the Bush administration cut funding requested by the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for holding back the waters of Lake Pontchartrain by more than 80 percent. Additional cuts at the beginning of this year (for a total reduction in funding of 44.2 percent since 2001) forced the New Orleans district of the Corps to impose a hiring freeze. The Senate had debated adding funds for fixing New Orleans' levees, but it was too late.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune, which before the hurricane published a series on the federal funding problem, and whose presses are now underwater, reported online: "No one can say they didn't see it coming ... Now in the wake of one of the worst storms ever, serious questions are being asked about the lack of preparation."

-- Salon.com, "No One Can Say They Didn't See It Coming," by Sidney Blumenthal, Wednesday 31 August 2005

Indeed, the Bush administration had other ideas for what to do with money originally meant for New Orleans:

On June 8, 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; told the Times-Picayune: "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us."

Also that June, with the 2004 hurricane season starting, the Corps' project manager Al Naomi went before a local agency, the East Jefferson Levee Authority, and essentially begged for $2 million for urgent work that Washington was now unable to pay for. From the June 18, 2004 Times-Picayune:

"The system is in great shape, but the levees are sinking. Everything is sinking, and if we don't get the money fast enough to raise them, then we can't stay ahead of the settlement," he said. "The problem that we have isn't that the levee is low, but that the federal funds have dried up so that we can't raise them."

-- Editor & Publisher, "Did New Orleans Catastrophe Have to Happen?" by Will Bunch, Wednesday 31 August 2005

On Democracy Now! Amy Goodman confirmed that the problems were known well ahead of time:

AMY GOODMAN: We're also joined by Mark Fischetti, contributing editor of Scientific American. You wrote the piece, The Drowning of New Orleans, warning that massive re-engineering of Southeastern Louisiana could save New Orleans from a catastrophic flood. Talk more about this. Talk about what you are seeing today and what you were warning, not one, not two, was it more than three years ago in 2001?

MARK FISCHETTI: Yeah. Right. It was 2001, and a lot of what that was predicated on was actually a plan that was put together in 1998 by a number of local scientists, engineers, and the governor's office of Louisiana, which basically showed with computer models what would happen if a hurricane came in this direction and hit New Orleans directly. The models pretty much predicted exactly what's happened, so this whole group of experts down there came up with a pretty consolidated plan of four or five major steps that should be taken to protect the city and the delta as much as possible. The plan came out and really didn't get a whole lot of response on a national level. It was an expensive program, as you might have imagined, and it sort of was just left there.

-- Democracy Now! "The Drowning of New Orleans: Hurricane Devastation Was Predicted," Thursday, September 1st, 2005

Just how badly is New Orleans now contaminated by pollutants?

... there may be nothing normal about New Orleans, because the floodwater, spiked with tons of contaminants ranging from heavy metals and hydrocarbons to industrial waste, human feces and the decayed remains of humans and animals, will linger nearby in the Gulf of Mexico for a decade.

"This is the worst case," Hugh B. Kaufman, a senior policy analyst at the Environmental Protection Agency, said of the toxic stew that contaminates New Orleans. "There is not enough money in the gross national product of the United States to dispose of the amount of hazardous material in the area."

-- Washington Post, "Extraordinary Problems, Difficult Solutions," by Guy Gugliotta and Peter Whoriskey, Thursday, September 1, 2005; Page A10

So, maybe Washington really doesn't care about New Orleans after all:

House Speaker Dennis Hastert dropped a bombshell on flood-ravaged New Orleans on Thursday by suggesting that it isnít sensible to rebuild the city.

"It doesn't make sense to me," Hastert told the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago in editions published today. "And it's a question that certainly we should ask."

-- New Orleans Times-Picayune, "House Speaker: Rebuilding New Orleans Doesn't Make Sense," by Bill Walsh, Thursday 01 September 2005

Mr. Hastert backtracked fairly quickly once everyone found out about what he said:

"I am not advocating that the city be abandoned or relocated. My comments about rebuilding the city were intended to reflect my sincere concern with how the city is rebuilt to ensure the future protection of its citizens and not to suggest that this great and historic city should not be rebuilt."

-- U.S. Newswire, "Statement From House Speaker Dennis Hastert About City Of New Orleans; Clarifies Earlier Comment About Rebuilding City," Thu Sep 1, 7:35 PM ET

George W. Bush, of course, took a hard line against looting after the hurricane:

"I think there ought to be zero tolerance of people breaking the law during an emergency such as this, whether it be looting, or price-gouging at the gasoline pump or taking advantage of charitable giving, or insurance fraud," Bush said.

-- Reuters, "Bush warns looters, urges Americans conserve gas," by Steve Holland, Thu Sep 1, 2005 9:34 PM BST

A far cry from the stance taken by his staff during the looting of Baghdad, only two years ago:

Suppose rioters were wrecking an American city, looting its hospitals and destroying one of the greatest museums in the world. And imagine if, as this happened, one of the nation's most prominent liberal excused the violence by saying, "Stuff happens," and then, when pressed, put a happy face on the looting by saying, "It's untidy. And freedom's untidy. And free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes." ...

Yet when rioters were tearing up the U.S.-controlled city of Baghdad last week, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld responded by saying, "Stuff happens." Then, echoing statements of other Bush administration apparatchiks, Rumsfeld described the looting of the city as an "untidy" display of freedom. In response to questions about the first signs of chaos in the streets of Baghdad, the Secretary of Defense told Americans that they were seeing "a spontaneous outburst of the oppressed Iraqi people..." ...

Items that survived 7,000 years of human history were lost last week in a city controlled by forces under the direction of Donald Rumsfeld. Yet Rumsfeld refused to take any responsibility. "We didn't allow it," he said. "It happened." ...

... the boss at the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld, who had promised to teach the Iraqi people how to live in freedom, was too busy explaining that rioting and looting are what free people are free to do.

-- The Nation, The Online Beat blog, "Riots? Looting? 'Stuff Happens'" by John Nichols, Posted 04/14/2003 @ 5:51pm

Free for me, but not for thee, I guess. You can read all about how the New Orleans Times-Picayune warned its citizens about the potential effects of a massive hurricane on its city back during June 23-27, 2002, in a five-part series titled "Washing away." And, if you feel compelled, you might want to donate to the Red Cross, because the people whose lives were literally washed away by the floods need all the help they can get.

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