Friday, September 23, 2005

"KatRita" update from a friend in the midst of it all

My friend, DTS forwarded a message to me from our friend Chris, who is once again volunteering for the Red Cross. Chris did some heroic stuff for the Red Cross in the aftermath of 9-11. Now he is efforting the recovery after Katrina and finds himself bracing in anticipation of Rita...
Howdy, folks -
Just a quick update on my whereabouts and doings. I'm still managing a shelter for the Red Cross here in Larose, Louisiana, about 45 miles west of New Orleans ...... a shelter whose population nearly doubled to 150 today in what me and the 13-member Red Cross crew I'm heading (10 mass care staff/3 nurses) are now referring to as our "KatRita" deployment. I've been in Louisiana for almost three weeks now; two weeks at this location with brief stints in Baton Rouge, Houma, and Grand Isle, Louisiana. This area is currently under a voluntary evacuation order for Hurricane Rita and after much talk of evacuating, we have now hunkered down here in the Larose Civic Center to ride out the storm. The Pennsylvania National Guard made a heroic entrance earlier in the evening with two gigantic, Mad Max lookin' trucks full of MREs which were unloaded by an impressive and efficient chain of military guys, Red Cross volunteers and shelter residents in record time. We were already loaded down with water and the building has a generator fueled to run for more than a week once we lose standard power. Our cable television and Red Cross satellite phones and internet access are holding up through the first squalls as we've experienced brief, intense outbursts of wind and rain, with the phones and 'net likely to remain constant as long as we can keep the dish out back from blowing over or away. At this point, we've been told to expect tropical storm force winds for 24 or more hours but every inch eastward you see the landfall projections move, the more intense things will get around here. The worst of it should hit just after midnight Friday night/Saturday morning so we're expecting our currently well-behaved population to surge further toward the Civic Center's maximum sheltering capacity of 300 or 400. Sounds like a party, no!!?!! So here I am ..... split three ways between feeling like I can really help here and all is well, wanting to be in the safe comfort of home with my kitties as I fear what's in store, and just loving the adrenaline rush of riding out this major storm and historical event. Regardless of my spin on it, we're here to stay now. I'm on my third set of plane reservations as I vacillated between trying to get out in advance of the storm and trying to project a safe time after it will have passed. My current schedule to fly out of Baton Rouge on Saturday will almost certainly need to be altered once again. Meanwhile, it should be an interesting ride!!
Hope you're all well. Check in if/when you can -

Godspeed to Chris. Stay safe.

The Bush Administration and the "F" word..Zogby and the "I" word

Tip o' the hat to Crooks & Liars for pointing me to this article by Marshall Auerback, blogger at PrudentBear, containing the following observation:
The reconstruction of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama provides a fascinating picture of how the Bush administration actually works. His government represents an odd melding of corporatism and cronyism, more in tune with the workings of 1930s Italy or Spain. In fact, if one looks at fascist regimes of the 20th century, it is appears that the Bush administration draws more from these sources than traditional conservatism. Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.
6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
8. Religion and Government are intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.
9. Corporate Power is protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
10. Labor Power is suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

(Source: The Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism, Dr. Lawrence Britt, Spring 2003, Free Inquiry)
Has anyone else noted this connection? You betcha.
Pollster John Zogby says he will only poll America about their support for Bush's impeachment again if the price is right or if the question is raised by congress. Here is Zogby's article dated June 30, 2005 showing the results of the first time the question was asked of Americans: 42% of those polled said that "if it is found that President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should hold him accountable through impeachment." 42% seems to me to be a big number, but proving that Bush "did not tell the truth" about reasons to destroy Iraq would be difficult, given that no one has ever "proven" that he actually knows what he is saying when he addresses the nation. And of course it would all depend on what your definintion of "truth" is.
In June, Mr. Zogby said he would pose the impeachment question "probably in a month from now" on Countdown with Keith Olbermann. An Austrailian blog called Wot Is It Good 4 has been corresponding with Zogby on this matter since August, and has gotten the run-around from Zogby's peeps. Karl Rove has gotten to them, apparently, so don't look for the "I" word to come up any time soon.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Two film strips to watch..

Educatonal filmstrips from Filmstrip International, just like when you were 12. It's called A--hole and it's about the current Administration. Here is version one. Here is another one, updated after Katrina. It features the song, "A-hole" by a band called Jim's Big Ego. Pass these links along to your friends and foes. Click here for more filmstrips from these guys. Worth your time and every dime.