Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Ribs and Beer

What a surprise!

National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Sept. 11 Commission hearings, April 8, 2004:

"No one could have imagined them taking a plane, slamming it into the Pentagon -- into the World Trade Center, using planes as a missile."

Previously secret portions of Sept. 11 Commission report completed in August, 2004 and whose release was opposed by The White House for a year:

American aviation officials were warned as early as 1998 that Al Qaeda could "seek to hijack a commercial jet and slam it into a U.S. landmark." The officials also realized months before the Sept. 11 attacks that two of the three airports used in the hijackings had suffered repeated security lapses.


Last night I had ribs and beer with two friends who are political junkies although much less cranky than I am. We, of course, solved most of the world's problems before dessert. We did come up with a few cranky thoughts:

1. Assuming Hillary will be the Democratic nominee in 2008 that would mean a Bush or Clinton has been on the national ticket in every election since 1980. Seven straight presidential elections. Amazing that over 28 years in a country of about 300,000,000 people only two families can produce such "qualified" candidates. P.S. "Family" is a good choice of word for the "go to the mattresses" Bushies.

2. No Democrat from Massachusetts should ever again be a presidential or vice-presidential nominee.

3 No more women managing presidential campaigns. Sorry. Susan Estrich, Donna Brazile and Mary Beth Cahill ruined it for you double xx-ers. If an entire state's population are given the boot from national elections a few women must go as well. I think if you don't have family jewels you don't understand the level of pain getting kicked in them produces and that level of pain must be inflicted on the other side to win elections. (Childbirth notwithstanding.)

4. Kerry needed a tailor and shorter answers to even have a chance of winning. The lanky, hunched over look while droning on about wonkish details could have been replaced with shoulder pads and "Vote to make things better, not worse. Vote Kerry-Edwards" (nod MC).

Of course this could just be the beer talking.

P.S. If Democrats don't gain seats in the House or Senate, I'm done. No more politics, no more blog, no more nothing. And given this rough projection of the toss-up competitive races in the U.S. Senate, the Curmudgeon could likely go back into his cave permanently in November 2006.

BONUS POSTING: From the "Some animals are more equal than others" file:

ABC's Nightline from Tuesday, Sept. 12:

U.S. Rep. William Jefferson (D-NO), and eight-term, senior member of Ways and Means committee has a house in the affluent Uptown neighborhood of New Orleans. First he was let through a military blockade of the city on friday Sept. 2, five days after Hurricane Katrina struck. A criminal investigation into Jefferson's dealing with a high tech company in Virginia has been ongoing and the has FBI raided his NO house his Washington, DC house, his car and his accountant's house.

While people were still trapped on roofs and in their homes, Jthe Democratic Congressman began to tour the damage using a National Guard 5-ton truck and at least half a dozen military guards. During the tour Jefferson directed the military escort to drive to his house. Although this was not part of tour they complied with the demand. The truck was parked on the lawn of his house and the congressman went in alone. After an hour Jefferson emerged with a laptop computer, 3 suitcases and a box the size of a small refrigerator and the military guards loaded it on the truck.

Unfortunately the 5-ton truck was struck on lawn and the group signaled a rescue helicopter that was carrying 4 civilians having just been saved. A coast guard rescuer was lowered and Jefferson considered leaving but decided against it. The rescuer was hoisted up alone but then for some reason was lowered again to make sure Congressman Jefferson didn't want to go in helicopter which he declined again. After spending 45 minutes hovering over house, the rescue helicopter left, rescued 3 other civilians and then running low on fuel ended that mission. A second 5-ton truck was sent out to rescue the first truck and eventually the congressman and his and his personal items were recovered.

Congressman Jefferson said nothing he retrieved from his house related to his criminal investigation. Uh-huh. I'm sure it was just sock balls and AOL buddy lists on those suitcases and laptop.

BONUS POSTING 2: From the "that was fast/what a surprise" file -- The ink isn't even dry on the Katrina relief packages Congress passed and the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday that his office had received accusations of fraud and waste in the multibillion-dollar relief programs linked to Hurricane Katrina and would investigate how no-bid contracts were awarded to several large, politically well-connected companies.


Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

If Kerry had had a visible halo and a chorus of angels announced his every arrival, he would have been buried in more slime than fills the streets of New Orleans. Nothing short of a revolution will unseat the GOP choice. We will vote for the people that screw us every time because every one of us is the Manchurian Candidate.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Crankyboy said...

I put the "man" in Manchurian.

1:15 PM  
Blogger phinky said...

Kerry's problem was he didn't fight back against the Rove slime machine. Kerry had a poorly run campaign, he else do you lose to an incumbent with an approval rating aroung 50%?

5:31 PM  
Blogger Petunia McGillicuddy said...

I disagree with kicking the family jewels and playing dirty. The way to beat that crud is to be good good good and keep getting information out. I know none of you believe me, but I'm telling you, it's true.

11:15 PM  
Blogger Crankyboy said...

Not dirty, just tough. Remeber Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid? Rules? In a knife fight? No rules! The Republicans have been in a knife fight for decades. The Democrats are in a boxing match.

11:28 PM  
Anonymous BBBetz said...

Kerry's problem is the he could not escape his own memories. For an anti war, anti defense candidate the "Call to duty" was a major blunder. He should of hired Rove. Kerry is a JOKE!

11:28 AM  
Blogger Crankybro said...

I'm voting Republican to test your vow to stop posting.

1:17 PM  
Anonymous BBBetz said...

Money Earmarked for Evacuation Redirected


As far back as eight years ago, Congress ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to develop a plan for evacuating New Orleans during a massive hurricane, but the money instead went to studying the causeway bridge that spans the city's Lake Pontchartrain, officials say.

The outcome provides one more example of the government's failure to prepare for a massive but foreseeable catastrophe, said the lawmaker who helped secure the money for FEMA to develop the evacuation plan.

"They never used it for the intended purpose," said former Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La. "The whole intent was to give them resources so they could plan an evacuation of New Orleans that anticipated that a very large number of people would never leave."

In Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, attention has focused on the inability of local and federal officials to evacuate or prepare for the large number of poor people, many of them minorities, who had no access to transportation and remained behind.

That possibility was one of the concerns that led Congress in 1997 to set aside $500,000 for FEMA to create "a comprehensive analysis and plan of all evacuation alternatives for the New Orleans metropolitan area."

Frustrated two years later that nothing materialized, Congress strengthened its directive. This time it ordered "an evacuation plan for a Category 3 or greater storm, a levee break, flood or other natural disaster for the New Orleans area."

The $500,000 that Congress appropriated for the evacuation plan went to a commission that studied future options for the 24-mile bridge over Lake Pontchartrain, FEMA spokesman Butch Kinerney said.

The hefty report produced by the Greater New Orleans Expressway Commission "primarily was not about evacuation," said Robert Lambert, the general manager for the bridge expressway. "In general it was an overview of all the things we need to do" for the causeway through 2016.

Lambert said he could not trace how or if FEMA money came to the commission. Nor could Shelby LaSalle, a causeway consulting engineer who worked on the plan.

LaSalle said it would be "ludicrous" to consider his report an evacuation plan, although it had a transportation evacuation section, dated Dec. 19, 1997. That part was tacked on mainly to promote the causeway for future designation as an official evacuation route, LaSalle said.

"We didn't do anything for FEMA," he added.

Asked why the congressional mandate was never fulfilled, Barry Scanlon, senior vice president in the consulting firm of former FEMA Director James Lee Witt, said he believes the agency did what it needed when it gave the money to the state.

"FEMA received an earmark which it processed through to the state as instructed by Congress," Scanlon said. Witt is now a private consultant to Gov. Kathleen Blanco, D-La., on the Katrina aftermath.

Tauzin said he, too, could never find out where the money went. "They gave it to the causeway commission? That's wacky," he said.

At the time eight years ago, the Louisiana delegation had plenty of political muscle to get the money. Then-Rep. Bob Livingston, R-La., was chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, which controls the government's purse strings.

Livingston, now a lobbyist, said he could not explain what happened either, although he knew of other predictive hurricane studies over the years.

"Do I wish the study had been made? Sure, but now that's by the boards. We're doing the best we can right now to repair and rebuild," he said.

FEMA typically contracts its studies to private or government entities. Kinerney, the agency spokesman, said it appeared the money went through the Louisiana government. State emergency and transportation officials said they did not recall it.

After nothing came of its first directive, FEMA addressed the need for an evacuation plan "off and on" over the years, Kinerney said. Last year, the agency undertook the massive "Hurricane Pam" project that was supposed to create a comprehensive emergency plan for New Orleans.

That work was unfinished when Katrina struck, though its first phase involved an elaborate hurricane simulation that was eerily predictive of Katrina's disaster.

Asked about any earlier FEMA-funded plan, Mark Smith, spokesman for the state Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said, "To the best of our knowledge we can find no information on this."

Congress' 1999 language directed that FEMA consult with that state agency as well as the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

FEMA's parent agency, the Homeland Security Department, did provide $75,000 to print 1 million evacuation maps that were distributed this year for the state's updated transportation evacuation blueprint, state transportation spokesman Mark Lambert said.

That plan used phased evacuation orders and reverse-flow traffic patterns to avoid the highway snarls New Orleans saw during Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

But that plan was designed for traffic management, not to provide transportation or contingencies for the infirm, elderly and poor who could not get out on their own, officials said.

10:33 AM  

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