Friday, September 30, 2005

Fox News Reporter Plays Lesbian Matchmaker for Condi Rice?

I am not familiar with Fox News reporter James Rosen's on-air interview skills, but after reading the State Department's transcript of his talk this week with Secretary Condoleezza Rice, which is both goofy and serious, I sensed he's a graduate of the frat-boy school of journalism.

Of particular interest to me is the way in which Rosen uses language more appropriate for a lesbian matchmaker than a journalist at the end of his interview, as he talks about a female Fox reporter and a gift from her to the secretary.

Makes me wonder if Rice has ever been asked on the record about the rumors of her alleged lesbian orientation. Couldn't find a thing about that question through Googling.

This is part of the State Department's official transcript of the interview:

MR. ROSEN: I think it's outrageous, frankly. All right. I close with a gift for you. You met this person once, I believe, but you really, I think, ought to know each other because this woman is, I think you'll have an interest in knowing her. She is one of our FOX News anchors in New York. Her name is Lauren Green. She is brilliant, she's beautiful, she's African American, she's single and she's a concert pianist in her spare time.

SECRETARY RICE: My goodness.

MR. ROSEN: And she asked me to give you her CD and I promised her that I would.

SECRETARY RICE: That's perfect.

MR. ROSEN: And here's her doing a number of different classical pieces.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, that's special.

MR. ROSEN: So there you have it.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank her very much and I look forward to seeing her sometime.

MR. ROSEN: All right. She's going to want to hear from you.

SECRETARY RICE: And maybe even playing dual piano sometime.

MR. ROSEN: That would be great. Thank you, as always.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. [snip]

I can understand a hard-edged Fox journalist using some of his face-time with the secretary to endear himself on a very personal level to her and presenting her with a gift, because he may help him get answers to difficult questions she might not otherwise address, like her supposed lesbianism, but what is hard to fathom is why Rosen mentions that his gal-pal is single.

Why the hell is Rosen practically setting up a date for the two women and did Fox sow that part of the interview in its story from it? This queer mind wants to know. And good for Rice for being open to meeting the gal-pal, who's single, you know!

Here are more excerpts of goofiness from Rosen during the interview, which was conducted on September 27 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti:

MR. ROSEN: Madame Secretary, thank you, as always, for your time. I wonder if we could begin by establishing on the record that you've missed me terribly.

SECRETARY RICE: (Laughter.) Of course.

MR. ROSEN: All right. Onto the alleged off-the-charts questions because I know our time is short. I was criticized in the Washington Post after our last interview because I'd had asked if you ever wanted to be a superhero and you said, "Yes." And they said you didn't ask the obviously follow-up question, Rosen, of which one? And I thought doing that would make me sound a little too much like Barbara Walters asking Katharine Hepburn which kind of tree she would like to be. So I will follow-up simply by asking which super powers is it that you covet, that you would like to have?

SECRETARY RICE: Super powers?

MR. ROSEN: Yes. You said you wanted to be a superhero occasionally.

SECRETARY RICE: I'd like to be able to see through walls. (Laughter.)

MR. ROSEN: Which one? All right. You made the mistake of sharing what you called "an inside joke" with an interviewer recently, in which you said that you had been president of the family.


MR. ERELI: What did that mean?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, there are only three of us, so it wasn't a very big constituency -- my father, my mother and me. And I could always count on my mother's vote and my own. My father, I think, probably wanted to be president of the family, too. No, it was actually a very important post. We organized -- I organized the family, as president, to do things like have a family meeting about when we were going to leave on a particular trip. So when we were going to go to Denver from Alabama, I would have a family meeting. We'd decide what time we were going to leave. We'd decide where we were going to stop over. So it actually had real responsibilities. But it said something about my parents who were determined that even at that early age that I'd have different experiences.

MR. ROSEN: And you were not autocrat in that role?

SECRETARY RICE: Of course not. Of course not.

MR. ROSEN: All right. You turned -- well, I don't want to get into age matters, but you were at an impressionable age during the counter culture and did it just pass you by entirely or did it anything from the counter culture lodge within you and stay with you?

SECRETARY RICE: I was very young at the time of the counter culture. I was 12 or 13 and that's kind of young. And I was a music major. All I did was play the piano and ice skate. And so I don't think I focused very much on the counter culture. But I was pretty young. I'm on the young end of that -- of that spectrum.

MR. ROSEN: Madame Secretary, I'll be blunt. Did you ever do drugs?

SECRETARY RICE: (Laughter.) James, why don't you go back to Iran? (Laughter.)

MR. ROSEN: (Laughter.) I don't think they'd like me there either. (Laughter.) Last question. Last question. You do so many interviews, sometimes five a day, and it requires a lot of repetition on your part. Part of me wants to ask simply how you manage to do that; but my real question is what advice would you give to somebody who's thinking about a career in public life of some kind, about how to deal with the media. What are a couple of most important things someone should keep in mind for dealing with the media?

SECRETARY RICE: I think the most important thing is to always be willing to say what you can say and what you can't. I told the media I simply can't talk about that because there's no reason to do anything but to state the truth. But part of the truth is to say when it's not possible to talk about things. Sometimes, I think, for instance, in diplomatic activities, I very often said to members of the media I'm going to actually talk to the President of that country or the Foreign Minister of that country before I talk about it in the press or I'm not going to reveal every detail of a diplomatic exchange just because I'm asked about it. And I think if you deal in that sort of straightforward way, you're better off -- if you could tell me. [snip]

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Bloggers Putting It Out There

The latest media column by Michael Miner in the Chicago Reader is all about bloggers and our recent research on the political hacks running parts of FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. My blog gets special mention, for which I'm happy, but, more importantly, Miner tells his readers about Matt A. Mayer, head of DHS Disaster Preparedness Office, and his lack of experience in this field.

Read Miner's column at the Chicago Reader's site.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Safavian's Bio, Photo Still on White House Site

The White House web master must be taking a nap because the site presently is still posting the official bio and photo of David Safavian.

What with his arrested and charges leveled against him, not to mention all the MSM attention, the well-oiled Bush administration would quickly get Safavian's White House page deleted, but they haven't.

Gotta tell the White House the news--Safavian resigned his position on September 16.

Here's the link to his page.
Arrested White House Aide Savafian's FEC Files

Recently arrested and indicted White House procurement official David Safavian has a long history of donating primarily to GOP candidates and causes, stretching back to 1997, according to his Federal Election Commission files available at the site.

Total contributions to GOP pols and PACs: $29,184.

Interestingly, he donated $1,000 this year to his wife Jennifer Safavian's former boss, Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia.

Safavian also gave a paltry $250 in 2004 to one Democrat, Rep. John Conyers of Michigan.

All of Safavian's donations come to $29,434.

Jennifer Safavian's FEC file shows she doesn't spread as much moolah around as her husband. She gave $800 in 1998 to GOP Sen. John Ensign of Nevada and in 2004 she coughed up $500 for the Bush Cheney reelection campaign.

Follow the links to their FEC records.

David Savafian's file; Jennifer Savafian's file.

Monday, September 19, 2005

NYT's Altman Shills for Lasker Foundation?

Byron Calame
The Public Editor
The New York Times

Dear Mr. Calame:

The Times on September 18 ran a very glowing story by Lawrence K. Altman on the winners of this year's Lasker Awards for scientific achievement and I have several concerns about it that I wish to share with you.

First of all, no one outside of the Lasker Foundation, which bestows the awards, or the winners, is either mentioned or quoted in the story, which was 24 column inches long, leading me to qualify the article as nothing more really than a slight reworking of the foundation's press release about the awards.

Second, the Times didn't disclose that former Times reporter Martin A. Tolchin is a member of the foundation's board of directors.

Third, I think the Times should have informed readers that the paper was a Lasker Award recipient in 2000 for its coverage of medical and science issues, and that Mr. Altman was singled-out for exemplary reporting in the foundation's news release about the 2000 awards.

Finally, I'm not sure why the Times thought the Lasker Awards this year warranted major coverage on the National Report page of the Sunday edition. Seems to me the story was much more suited for the Science Times section of Tuesday's editions instead.

I wonder if you feel the Times should have reported opinions of people not connected with the Lasker Foundation regarding the awards this year and if the paper had any duty to disclose information about a former Times correspondent on the board and that the Times's award from the foundation.

Michael Petrelis
San Francisco, CA

Lawrence K. Altman,
David Corcoran,

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Whoa, Brownie! Hold yer horses on escaping to a new job!

If there were any justice in America, Brownie would be facing felony charges, but he walks free down K Street, and maybe, just maybe, soon bouncing back from his recent public shaming.


September 26, 2005
US News & World Report
Washington Whispers
By Paul Bedard

Jumping Back in the Saddle--Too Soon

Ex-FEMA Administrator Michael Brown seems to be doing for his career what he did for the beleaguered agency. Less than a week after FEMA's dismal Hurricane Katrina response forced Brown out of the agency, he has been shopping his resume to headhunters and Washington PR firms. And it's not working. "He's radioactive," said one exec. An ally of Brownie in the PR world said he should have waited a month before starting his job hunt. "It's just a bad play."
Shaw Group CEO Resigns as La. Dem Party Chairman

Liberal New York Times columnist Frank Rich in his column this Sunday calls on the Democratic Party to follow this bit of advice:

"It's up to Democrats, though they show scant signs of realizing it, to step into the vacuum and propose an alternative to a fiscally disastrous conservatism that prizes pork over compassion."

Let's not expect the Louisiana Democratic Party to fill that vacuum any time soon. Rich's colleague Joyce Purnick, in Saturday's edition of the Times, seems to have been one of a handful of reporters to note this curious development last week:

"Two contracts, for example, were awarded to the Shaw Group Inc. here in Baton Rouge, which is headed by J. M. Bernhard Jr., a close adviser to Ms. Blanco and chairman of Louisiana's Democratic Party - until Friday, that is. He abruptly stepped down, saying he had to focus on his company, which is very busy these post-hurricane days. Shaw Group is also a client of Joe M. Allbaugh, a close friend of President Bush and his first FEMA director, now running his own consulting firm."

News to me that the Shaw Group head was such a high-ranking Democrat for the Louisiana party. Until a couple of days ago, he had no ethical qualms about keeping his party post, and raking in millions of recovery dollars from the federal government for post-Katrina mopping up bucks and acres of muck.

The Baton Rogue Advocate on Saturday ran a detailed article on Bernhard's resignation with much more background

"In a resignation letter, Bernhard said The Shaw Group Inc. has been working 'around the clock' to assist with the clean-up and rescue efforts in New Orleans and surrounding Gulf Coast area [...]

"'I do not believe I can fairly divide my energies between the party and my relief and recovery efforts and totally fulfill the obligations of both important jobs to my satisfaction, or yours,' wrote Bernhard, Shaw's CEO.

"Bernhard did not return phone calls seeking comment on his resignation letter that was released by the Democratic Party."

And Bernhard's resignation letter is not posted on the state party's site.

One thing not addressed by the Advocate is why it took three weeks after Katrina struck for Bernhard to leave his Democratic leadership position.

There's a fascinating contrast in what the Louisiana Democratic Party's and Shaw's sites say about Bernhard. The party touts his business acumen and job at Shaw, while two messages from Bernhard on the Shaw site don't once reference his Democratic affiliation.

Want to read what was written about Bernhard earlier this year when he took the reins of the Louisiana Democratic Party and his political plans?

This is a good place to start: Best of New Orleans.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Dubya's Drunk Nephew's Mug Shot

Yep, he sets off my gaydar.
Oops. CBS Didn't Tape Interview w/Condi Rice

Two snaps up to Vaughn V. of CBS News' Public Eye desk for answering my questions so quickly and posting a reply on his blog, and a big thumbs down to the folks at CBS who didn't record their meeting with Secretary Rice on camera.

Seems a TV news outfit worth its salt would of course videotape any on the record meeting its editorial board holds with Rice, especially because she might say something newsworthy and the reporters would want to get it on the air.

But that didn't happen. CBS for unknown, and probably odd, reasons failed to get the meeting on tape. A real head-scratcher, if you ask me.

At least the public affairs office at the State Department had the sense to record the meeting, transcribe it and make it available on the web.

Kudos to CBS for linking to the transcript.

The larger matter here is CBS News' commitment to increasing transparency, especially related to its editorial board.

I believe it behooves CBS to post on its web site _all_ of the meetings its editorial board has held with Bush administration officials since January 2000.

If the meetings between CBS's editorial board and Bush officials were on the record, like the one this past week with Rice, then the network owes the public not just the transcripts of the meetings, but also any videotapes of the meetings, if someone at CBS had the brains to tape them.

Last but not least, the Public Eye, which served this week as both a soap box and a letters to the editor page, should use the last names of people who submit letters.

After all, I had to reveal my last name to sign up for the Public Eye's site functions, and there's nothing wrong with having a Greek last name.

That aside, the Public Eye is an enormous move forward for the MSM in terms of interacting better with news consumers, answering our questions and removing some of the darkness surrounding MSM decisions.

September 16, 2005
CBS News
Public Eye
By Vaughn Ververs

E-Mailbag: Looking For Condi

We received this letter asking some questions about the editorial meeting Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had earlier this week at CBS News. Michael P. from San Francisco writes:

I'm a media consumer who thinks there isn't nearly enough transparency and I'm always on the prowl for more ways to increase media transparency, especially when it involves Bush administration officials.

Earlier this week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sat down with the CBS Editorial Board and CBS News [] wrote up a story about her meeting with your colleagues.

However, the story failed to link to or mention that a full transcript of the meeting is posted on the web. No, not on the CBS News site, but on the State Department site.

You'll find the transcript here, courtesy of the U.S. government.

My questions for the Public Eye are these: Why is CBS News so coy about informing its audience that the transcript exists? Why not create a page on your site with the full transcript? Barring that, how about linking to the State Department page where the transcript have been posted all week?

After talking with CBS reporter Charles Wolfson, who filed the story for and Michael Sims, Director of News and Operations for, here’s the answer we have for you Michael.

As far as we can find out, CBS News did not tape the meeting, certainly not on camera. The meeting was recorded by the State Department, which then later transcribed and posted the transcript. The story, which was filed long before a transcript was available, now includes a link to the State Department page where you can read it.

As a general rule, Sims notes that the full text of President Bush’s Thursday night address to the nation was posted, adding: “When available, we always default to publishing this kind of material.”
CBS News: No Transcript of Our Meeting w/Condi Rice


Hello Public Eye Editors at CBS News:

I'm a media consumer who thinks there isn't nearly enough transparency and I'm always on the prowl for more ways to increase media transparency, especially when it involves Bush administration officials.

Earlier this week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sat down with the CBS Editorial Board and the CBS News wrote up a story about her meeting with your colleagues. (Source: CBS News.)

However, the story failed to link to or mention that a full transcript of the meeting is posted on the web. No, not on the CBS News site, but on the State Department site.

You'll find the transcript here, courtesy of the U.S. government: What Secretary Rice Has Been Saying Lately.

My questions for the Public Eye are these: Why is CBS News so coy about informing its audience that the transcript exists? Why not create a page on your site with the full transcript? Barring that, how about linking to the State Department page where the transcript have been posted all week?

A prompt reply is requested and appreciated.

Michael Petrelis
San Francisco, CA
Help! S.F.'s Top Disaster Official = FEMA's Brown

One lesson I've learned from the Katrina disaster and the local, state and federal government's catastrophic responses, or lack thereof, is that it's never too early to request help when a natural or man-made disaster is predicted.

With that in mind, I am issuing an urgent plea for help. As a resident of San Francisco, a city prone to earthquakes and a prime target for terrorism, I am scared that government officials at every level are not sufficiently prepared for disaster.

Last week, I phoned the regional FEMA office, which is in Oakland, and asked the public affairs office what plans, if any, the federal government had if it became necessary to evacuate San Francisco either after an earthquake or other calamity.

His response? It's up to the city and county emergency management authorities to get citizens out of San Francisco, if that were required.

Maybe I shouldn't admit this in public, but I've never learned how to drive a car. Never had a desire to get behind the wheel of an automobile and driving go-carts at Playland does not count as driver's education. So if a call went out to evacuate San Francisco, I'd be dependent on either Muni or BART to get out of town.

But if the public transit systems were not functioning, I'd be left to the mercy of Annemarie Conroy's disaster preparedness expertise, such as it is.

Conroy is the head of San Francisco's Office of Emergency Services and she makes former FEMA head Michael Brown seem qualified.

Read this story from KGO TV, our local ABC News affiliate for an assessment of Conroy and her qualifications. Then contact me and let me know if you'll be able to rescue me and my boyfriend after the next quake hits San Francisco.


Is San Francisco's Top Disaster Official Qualified?
By Dan Noyes

[...] There are some parallels between the man who stepped down as FEMA director this week and the woman who now heads San Francisco's Office of Emergency Services. They are both lawyers with little previous disaster experience who used strong political connections to get the job.

[...] John Bitoff is a retired Navy Admiral and former head of San Francisco's Office of Emergency Services. He says Mayor Gavin Newsom should replace the woman he appointed a year ago to head OES. Annemarie Conroy had no previous experience in disaster management.
Admiral John Bitoff: "Planning for saving lives and property, isn't that important enough to have a professional in that job? The president found out in a hurry!"

Admiral Bitoff echoes complaints we've heard in recent days behind closed doors here at City Hall, at the Board of Supervisors, even at the Disaster Council.

[...] Conroy has built a career out of political appointments. In 1992, her godfather, Mayor Frank Jordan, tapped her to fill an opening on the Board of Supervisors.

Two years later, Conroy lost her bid for re-election, so Jordan sent her to the police commission. Next stop, Treasure Island. Mayor Willie Brown appointed her to oversee the transfer of the base from the Navy to San Francisco. Then, last year, Mayor Newsom gave her the top spot for disaster planning, a $160,000 dollar a year job.

[...] But, Conroy stands out among OES directors up and down the state for her lack of emergency management experience.

[...] Annemarie Conroy is not a certified emergency manager. She'd have difficulty meeting even the basic criteria, such as 3 years experience in emergency management and 100 hours of training. Now, the I-Team has confirmed that Conroy is attending the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey for a master's in disasters. She'll be learning on the job, and that angers former OES director Admiral John Bitoff.

[...] At the moment, Annemarie Conroy is in Monterey for her studies. She'll be there for the next two weeks, and she'll be back there several times over the next year and a half. So she won't be in San Francisco if disaster strikes in the next minute or tomorrow or the next day. And, of course, your tax dollars are paying for her schooling -- $40,000 for tuition, plus travel, hotel and meals.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

WaPo's Dan Balz Weighs in on Bush's NOLA Speech

I think Balz and the Washington Post have it wrong, to a certain degree. Bush and his presidency can't be repaired, at least not with a lame speech way too late. So much build-up for the speech and very little substance delivered by Bush. Now that this speech, so late in the Katrina disaster, is over, it's time to start asking when Bush will face an audience of Americans not pre-screened by his advance team and how long will it take before he holds a news conference with skeptical reporters asking hard questions.


A Bid to Repair a Presidency

By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 16, 2005; Page A01

The main text of President Bush's nationally televised address last night was the rebuilding of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, but the clear subtext was the rebuilding of a presidency that is now at its lowest point ever, confronted by huge and simultaneous challenges at home and abroad -- and facing a country divided along partisan and racial lines.

Hurricane Katrina struck at the core of Bush's presidency by undermining the central assertion of his reelection campaign, that he was a strong and decisive leader who could keep the country safe in a crisis. Never again will the White House be able to point to his often-praised performance after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, without skeptics recalling the fumbling and slow-off-the-mark response of his administration after the hurricane and the flooding in New Orleans ...[snip]
Bids for Bush's $260-300M Library Due Today

Here's some comic relief for today, which is the deadline for proposals to be submitted to the White House for the George W. Bush Presidential Library that will be built in Texas, upon Bush leaving the Oval Office. If only that day were approaching sooner rather than later.

Here's a round-up of highlights about institutions in Texas scrambling to get their bids in today:

"Also, the site would include a presidentially-mandated policy institute to spread George W. Bush's ideals regarding the rule of law, economic and business development, and health and welfare. The institute would function like a think tank."

"The estimated price tag for the entire project will range from approximately $260-$300 million. Most of the money will go directly to construction, but $60 million will be required for the federally mandated maintenance endowment." (Source: The Daily Texan, UT campus at Austin.)

I don't know which is scarier; three more years of Bush, or a think-tank dedicated to spreading his ideals.

"President Bush, who is expected to make a decision sometime next year, guaranteed that the library will be built in his home state by inviting only Texas contenders to make a bid. Others in the hunt for the presidential library are Texas A&M, Baylor and a 10-city West Texas coalition that would base the library-museum at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, with a component in Midland.
"A three-member committee composed of former Commerce Secretary Don Evans, Marvin Bush, the president's brother, and Craig Stapleton, the husband of one of Bush's cousins, will screen the proposals after today's deadline, but the timetable after that remains unclear [...]

"The bids are due in Marvin Bush's office in McLean, Va., a Washington suburb, by the end of the day Thursday. UT got the jump on the deadline when its Washington representative, William Shute, hand-carried the proposal to the office Wednesday afternoon." (Source: Ft. Worth newspaper.)

The bidding process sounds like it's on a par with the way the Bush administration hands out contracts for rebuilding Iraq and New Orleans.


Proposals for Bush library are kept hush-hush
Dallas Morning News (subscription), TX - 14 hours ago
... The full-color proposal also features a picture of first daughter Jenna Bush, a UT-Austin alum, flashing a "Hook 'em Horns" sign. ... (Source: Dallas News.)

So she still hasn't found her way to the U.S. Army recruiting office and signed up for duty in Iraq.
FBI Won't Release More of Pres. Bush's File

Read the full story, along with the actual denial letter from the FBI, at: Here are some excerpts:

FBI rejects appeal for additional records on President Bush
September 15, 2005
By John Byrne

An appeal to obtain more of President George W. Bush's FBI "file" by a San Francisco-based activist and blogger was rejected by the agency Sept. 6, RAW STORY can reveal.

The request was made by Michael Petrelis, a gay activist and blogger who received 20 pages on the president from the FBI in April, but was denied access to a broader set of records.

In denying the appeal, the Justice Department's co-director of the Office of Information and Privacy said the agency had "properly withheld" documents which "related solely to internal agency practices" or which in being part of a "law enforcement" investigation "could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of third parties."


Petrelis says he is seeking a Freedom of Information Act attorney to help him get more of the President's records.

"I need a good FOIA lawyer," he said. "I feel I've done what I can as a blogger activist trying to use FOIA to get information about our president that should already be out in the public square."

"Since 9/11, the press has given Bush and company a free ride," he asserted, "and as part of that, the press hasn't gained access to his FBI file. And that's wrong."


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

DailyKos Must-See: Photo Montage of BushCo at the U.N.

Do yourself a favor and have a few laughs: Photo montage.
AK "$231M Bridge to Nowhere" Rep Wanted More Money for Congestion

Government waste watchdogs have been howling about all the fat in the $286 billion highway transportation bill passed back in late July, and editorials across the land have called on lawmakers who inserted pork into the bill for the home districts and states to return some of the money, if only to help pay for Katrina disaster relief.

Everyone cites GOP Alaska Rep. Don Young's success in securing $941 million for his state's transit needs, in particular the $231 appropriated for Don Young Way, a bridge to nowhere that will serve about, oh, 50 people in Ketchikan, as a prime cut of pork.

But that bit o' pocket change just isn't enough for Young. He actually wanted more money for transportation projects in Alaska.

After Congress passed the highway bill, Young's office issues a release hailing his work and discussing funding levels, that just weren't satisfactory to the sole representative for Alaska in the House.

“This is not the funding level that I wanted, but this funding level will help boost our economy. This is a jobs bill that will put America back to work and [...] these funds will help to curb our ever growing congestion problems and meet the need of some of our infrastructure challenges,” said Congressman Young.

To be honest, I'm not the least bit surprised a Congressmember is effective at bringing home the bacon, or that he feels the large pot of money he did secure could have been higher.

What does shock me is that Rep. Young believes there are "congestion problems" in Alaska. C'mon, Congressman, how bad are the traffic jams in your state and couldn't they be solved by just waiting a few minutes for the bears, moose and caribou to cross the road?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

DHS Audit Slams Ports Grants; GOP Career Omitted from Bio

The acting executive director of the Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness within the Department of Homeland Security, Matt A. Mayer, may have something in common with departed FEMA Michael Brown: resume padding.

Mayer heads the terrorism preparedness strategies for DHS and gets to dole out loads of moolah and is the primary contact for state and local officials in the federal bureaucracy.

His puffed up resume is posted at DHS and is of prime interest to me for what is not mentioned: Matt A. Mayer has a long involvement with the Colorado GOP and their redistricting efforts.

But before we get into his past, let's examine what the most recent, Oct. 2004 - March 2005, semi-annual DHS Inspector General's report to Congress had to say about Mayer's port security grant program:

"[...] The program has awarded approximately $560 million for over 1200 programs. We reported that the program's eligibility criteria are directed broadly at national critical seaports and the current design of the program compromises the program's ability to direct resources toward the nation's highest priorities [...]

"In addition, grant award decisions were made with the intent of expending all available funding, and spreading funds to as many applicants as possible, leading the agency to fund 258 low-scoring projects at a cost of $67 million.

"Moreover, the program lacks DHS criteria for granting awards to the private sector. Private entities received substantial funding, some of which went to projects that reviewers scored below average or worse, during the evaluation process.

"Furthermore, after three rounds of grants, all grant recipients had expended only $106.9 million, or 21% of the total program awards as of September 30, 2004
." (Source: DHS OIG, page 27.)

So the program's a mess and 79% of the money for securing our seaports is unspent. That's comforting to know. Not!

Here are some results after Googling for more background on Mayer:

Rocky Mountain News
For Redistricting, They've All Hired Mouthpieces
By Peter Blake
October 27, 200

Can 100 lawyers, more or less, succeed where 100 legislators failed?

The drawing of Colorado's seven new congressional districts depends on this dubious hypothesis.

The General Assembly went home recently after deadlocking on their constitutional duty to do the job.

So now the map will be probably be drawn by Denver District Judge John W. Coughlin, in whose court state Democrats filed a lawsuit last spring in anticipation of the legislative fiasco. The Republicans are hoping against hope that a federal court, where they filed suit later, will claim superior jurisdiction.

[...] Secretary of State Donetta Davidson spurned help from the attorney general's office in favor of hiring private attorneys Jim Kilroy and Matt Mayer.


June 4, 2005

The Hill

Colorado Republican Party officials are coalescing around state Higher Education Commission Chairman Rick O’Donnell in his quest to succeed Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-Colo.).

Matt Mayer, O’Donnell’s only known campaign aide, could not be reached for comment yesterday


July 30, 2005
The Denver Post

Defending the homeland

Don't look for Matt Mayer to come back and run Republican Rick O'Donnell's campaign for congress. Mayer, O'Donnell's deputy when he was director of Colorado's Department of Regulatory Agencies, helped run his 2002 bid but last week was appointed counselor to the deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.


Federal Election Commission records reveal all of Mayer's political has been to GOP candidates, including Bush's reelection campaign.

My gut tells me that Mayer was probably also raising funds for the Bush/Cheney political war chest last year.

These listings come from and may paint a fuller picture of Mayer, one that is a portrait of a loyal Bush and GOP crony.










The Genocide Convention, Katrina & Bush

A certain "g" word has been missing from the three (!) weeks of debate about Katrina, her destructive aftermath and the Bush administration's actions before, during and most certainly after she struck New Orleans.

No, the word missing is not gay, as we know a few reverends have blames queers like me and my partner for incurring God's wrath and forcing him to cleanse New Orleans of human trash.

The word is genocide. Can't say I've read any analysis related to Katrina that broaches this question:

Should the Genocide Convention be used to force Bush and his inept appointees to accept their responsibility in the Katrina disaster?

Here is the preamble and the first two articles of the Genocide Convention, which was ratified in the U.S. Senate in 1986:

"Having considered the declaration made by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its resolution 96 (I) dated 11 December 1946 that genocide is a crime under international law, contrary to the spirit and aims of the United Nations and condemned by the civilized world,

"Recognizing that at all periods of history genocide has inflicted great losses on humanity, and

"Being convinced that, in order to liberate mankind from such an odious scourge, international co-operation is required,

"Hereby agree as hereinafter provided:

"Article I: The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.

"Article II: In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."

Yes, I believe some of the subsections apply, particularly the first one.

Monday, September 12, 2005

BushCheney Katrina Fund Donors' Names; Clueless Wills; Cheney's Web Page

The Bush Clinton Katrina Fund is doing something unique for a nonprofit and I hope it sets a standard for other tax-exempt charities to follow.

The former presidents' relief fund is posting the names of private individual and corporate donors on its web site.

The Bush Clinton Katrina Fund site reveals forty-two corporations and private foundations have contributed, while 14,215 private individuals' names are listed on the fund's Wall of Contributors. And that 14,215 figure is not the whole picture since quite a few of the listings are for couples, so the total number of donors is actually higher.

Amounts donated are not provided.

On the fund's donation page, contributors are asked if they want their names listed on the Wall of Contributors and the field for that question is checked yes. If donors don't wish to have their name on the wall, they must remove the check from the box.

IRS regulations for 501(c)3 tax-exempt groups allows charities to withhold the names of donors from being reported and/or disclosed in a charity's annual 990 filing. Many charities, with the permission of donors, tend to highlight their big corporate and individual donors in annual reports, which is one way accountability watchdogs have of following some of the money flowing to nonprofits.

Bravo to the Bush Clinton Katrina Fund for proudly showing who's donating to their charity and may other nonprofits do the same.


September 13 marks two weeks to day that President Bush was goofing off in San Diego with country singer Mark Wills, while thousands of Gulf Coast residents were struggling to survive in Katrina's wake.

Frankly, I'd never heard of Wills before he aided and abetted Bush in his dereliction of duties as commander-in-chief, and he probably expected a big career boost from his photo-op with the president, giving him a guitar with the presidential seal on it.

Many people have justifiably criticized the president for not acting on August 30 to pour federal aid and military might into the affected region and help save American lives, and he's been desperately making amends for ignoring the Katrina crisis for so long.

But what about Wills? He seems to have faded into the woodwork and as far as I know hasn't made any statement about his appearance with Bush on that fateful day, nor has he done anything to assist Katrina's displaced victims.

On his official web site though, Wills asks the following question:

"How many people do you know that have given the president a guitar?"

Well, only one, Mark, and the guitar was given to the president while New Orleans residents were clinging to life, hoping not to drown.

Wills gives the following answer to his question:

"Mark recently participated in the Victory Day Celebration in San Diego, CA. The celebration honored veterans of WW2 [sic]. Also in attendance was President Bush, who was very suprised [sic] when Mark presented him with his very own custom made guitar."

Hello? Ever hear of Katrina, Mr. Wills? Guess not because she isn't mentioned anywhere on your site!

And just in case you somehow missed the photo of Wills diverting Bush's limited attention away from the dead and drowning in New Orleans that day, the singer graciously posts the image on his site. Wills possesses no shame about his deadly, for Katrina's victims, shenanigans with Bush, fourteen long days ago.

Wills should get a clue about his pathetic role in the Katrina disaster and anyone thinking of spending money on one of his CDs or for a ticket to his upcoming concerts, should instead donate the money to a Katrina victim.


The White House sure could use a better web mistress or web master for its site, one who could give some much-needed focus on the Veep's latest chores performed in his official capacity.

To start off, Cheney's page shows a wide gap in speeches and activities from August 18 through September 12, and there's no mention of Katrina and her aftermath. The closest his page tells you about his Katrina-related work and concerns is in his remarks on Monday to the National Restaurant Association annual public affairs conference.

Photos of Cheney are not up to date, either. The most current one of him is from August 18. Didn't an official White House staff photographer accompany him on his visit to the devastated states?

I searched the following terms using the photo search engine; Dick Cheney, Vice President, Cheney, for the past two weeks, and this is what was returned: "No results were found for your search."

I would expect the White House team to heavily promote the Katrina relief agenda and associated political efforts not just of Bush and the First Lady, but also that of the number two honcho, maybe even his wife too.

Let's not read too much into the incredible lack of attention on the White House site about the Veep's Katrina work, but the missing transcripts of Cheney's remarks in the Gulf Coast area last week and photos gives pause.

The TalkLeft blog yesterday posted this tale, which may provide a larger context to the lame treatment of Cheney recently on the White House site:

"Like many of us, Nora Ephron at the Huffington Post has been puzzled by Dick Cheney's absence during Katrina and doesn't buy that it's because he was on vacation. She wonders whether the President and Cheney have had a falling out.

"A few months ago, I heard of a lunch conversation that Cheney had with a political type in Wyoming. I have no idea if it's true or not, but it makes some sense. Here's the tale:

"Cheney has been getting tired of being called upon to fix Bush's mistakes. Cheney said Bush is almost incapable of making any decision. He waffles and waffles. Then, once he makes a decision, he refuses to change it. Because of his born-again faith, he says "It's in the hands of G-d now" and washes his hands of it. Then Cheney is called in to repair the damage.

"If this story is even remotely true, this may have been the final straw for Cheney, and he decided to let Bush try to wiggle his way out of his Katrina inaction on his own. Cheney's re-emergence this week may be the result of his fellow Republicans begging him to return to save Bush for the sake of the party."

Interesting theory, to say the least, and it may explain why Cheney's duties on Katrina relief are getting such minimal attention on the White House site.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

NYT Fails Anonymous Rule; VP, Bush Disaster Bookend Pix; Laura on Looting, etc.

A round-up of curious things on the web over the weekend, starting with proof the New York Times inconsistently applies its anonymous sources rules.

Director of FEMA Stripped of Role as Relief Leader
Published: September 10, 2005

"[...] A senior administration official, who would speak only on the condition of anonymity, said Mr. Chertoff, whose department includes FEMA, told Mr. Bush on Wednesday that he was thinking of moving Mr. Brown aside and replacing him with Admiral Allen [...]

"A Republican with close ties to the White House, also speaking on the condition of anonymity for the same reason, said Mr. Bush had made clear that he wanted a change, a view reinforced by Vice President Dick Cheney's fact-finding trip to Mississippi and Louisiana on Thursday [...]" [Print version]

The Times fails to inform readers of the reasons why the anonymous White House official wanted, and was granted anonymity. Two paragraphs on, the Times references another GOP source given anonymity, only in this instance, the paper says this source requested anonymity "for the same reason" as the White House advisor.

But the Times never explained what the reasons were for the advisor requesting he not be quoted by name.

Here's the same paragraph about the Republican leader from the Times' web version of the story:

"[...] A Republican with close ties to the White House, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Mr. Bush had made clear that he wanted a change, a view reinforced by Vice President Dick Cheney's fact-finding trip to Mississippi and Louisiana on Thursday [...]"

Hmmm, those four little words, "for the same reason," made it into print in the Times, but were omitted from their web site.

In May when the Times published its "Preserving Our Readers' Trust" report, special attention was given to how and when the paper would use unidentified sources.

"When anonymity is unavoidable, reporters and editors must be more diligent in describing sources more fully. The basics include how the anonymous sources know what they know, why they are willing to provide the information and why they are entitled to anonymity," the report said.

I'd say the Times is not living up to its own standards here. First, it may seem reasonable to describe one source as senior administration official, but it certainly is not satisfactory that a source is just a GOP leader linked to the White House. Is that source from the RNC, someone in Congress? More information should have been given readers.

Second, readers have no idea how the Times' anonymous sources know what they do and why they're speaking to the Times.

Third, and this is of pressing concern to me, the Times did nothing to tell me, as a reader, the hell its' two sources were entitled to anonymity.

Clearly the Times' own standards on unidentified sources, after the publication the report about preserving readers' diminishing trust in the Times, were not met in this story.

Where is Slate's Jack Shafer when I need him to critize the Times?


Care to see two bookends of disaster staging the same basic photo-op to show their concern for America, four years apart?

Here's Veep Cheney doing his job from his helicopter on September 12, 2001.

And here is Dubya performing his duties as president on August 31, 2005.


September 8, 2005
American Urban Radio interview with First Lady Laura Bush

"[...] I mean, we'd really rather they didn't see people on their roofs screaming for help, or snipers or looters. I mean, these are all things that we don't want our children to see, because as you know, on television, they show them over and over and over and over, the same thing over and over [...]

"And then, of course, the bad images that we saw from young people looting stores or whatever, I mean, all of these are things that we want to address in Helping America's Youth. A lot of that was understandable, certainly, if you needed water or you were hungry. But on the other hand, to steal a television when you don't even have electricity, that seems not that sensible, to say the least [...]"

No one needed to see those images, but Mrs. Bush seems wholly unaware of how her husband's policies and his political pals are directly responsible for what led many of Katrina's victim to rooftops and engage in looting to survive. I'd like for her to also address the looting of the federal treasury for Dubya's follies in Iraq.

Still, I am surprised that she expressed any understanding about some of the survival tactics citizens of New Orleans found necessary to stay alive.


Rocky Mountain News
September 10, 2005

[...]"It's horrible," said Mary Ann Karns, an Oklahoma lawyer who once worked with Brown in the Edmond, Okla., city government. "He does not deserve this as a human being."

When Karns got Brown's e-mail addressed to "friends and family" last week, she offered to drive to Louisiana to "evacuate" him from the media storm [...]

Such a good friend, this Ms. Karns. Too bad she also didn't offer to evacuate the poor, black citizens of New Orleans who suffered greatly because of Brownie.


FEMA posted nine versions of the same release on September 10 about Bush signing declarations offering federal aid to nine states, including South Dakota, assisting evacuees. Last I heard, no Katrina victims have been sent to the Mt. Rushmore state.

Drownie Brownie was quoted in all nine releases.
FEMA's Brown Has Dam Named for Him; Much More Career Bio Info

Items of interest related to FEMA head Michael Brown, who still has a job because he's loyal to Dubya.

The video clip of Brown b.s. hearing, thanks Mr. Lieberman!, lasts forty-six minutes and fifty-five seconds. You'll need RealPlayer to watch it.

The nomination of Michael D. Brown to be Deputy Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Wednesday, June 19, 2002, 10:30am
342 Dirksen Office Building

Witness List & Video


How insane is this? There's a dam named for Michael D. Brown in Oklahoma. Sure do hope he had nothing to do with its construction. I'd love for the folks who operate the dam to rename it.

This Who's Who listing also gives much more information on Brown's career related resume than his FEMA bio. And to no one's surprise, even though there are more details on this aspect of the man, none of it point to qualifications for serving as head of FEMA.

Marquis Who's Who

Michael Dewayne Brown


Career Related

Adjunct professor state and local government law legis. Oklahoma City University; consultant No. Oklahoma Devel. Association, Enid, 1983-91; general counsel Alpha Oil Co., Duncan, Oklahoma, 1985, Physicians Management Service Corps., 1985-90, Physicians of Oklahoma, Inc., Physicians Medical Plan Oklahoma, Inc., City National Bank & Trust Co., 1987-88, Stanfield Printing Co., 1987—, Hammell Newspapers, Inc., 1987-90, Dillingham Insurance, 1989-91, Suits Rig Corp., Suits Drilling Co., 1989-91; chairman board directors Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority, Edmond, 1982-88, judges & stewards commissioner International Arabian Horse Association, 1991—.


Michael D. Brown Hydroelectric Power Plant and Dam named in his honor, Kaw Reservoir, Oklahoma, 1987.


An excerpt from Brown's FEMA bio:

Prior to joining FEMA, Mr. Brown practiced law in Colorado and Oklahoma, where he served as a bar examiner on ethics and professional responsibility for the Oklahoma Supreme Court and as a hearing examiner for the Colorado Supreme Court. He had been appointed as a special prosecutor in police disciplinary matters. While attending law school he was appointed by the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee of the Oklahoma Legislature as the Finance Committee Staff Director, where he oversaw state fiscal issues. His background in state and local government also includes serving as an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight and as a city councilman.
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FEMA's 10 Regional Directors' Bios

The Federal Emergency Management Agency divides the country into ten regions and each has a regional director setting policy and programs, in the event of a disaster.

As you can see from their bios, which I've excerpted below, some may have disaster relief experience, but quite a few appear to have very little expertise for this crucial public safety field.

Based on their FEMA bios, I'd say the worst of the lot are Region 1's Horak, who's experience in retailing and p.r. consulting; Region 3's Arcuri, who's bio lists no qualifications, just a resume detailing her rise through the FEMA ranks; Region 8's Maurstad, who's created programs honoring teenage leaders for their courage; and the most unqualified may be Region 10's Pennington, who authored more than 30 laws when he serves in the WA legislature.

Check out today's Seattle Times article on Pennington and his piss-pour resume for disaster expertise.

Given the recent abysmal record of FEMA, I'm not willing to say any of the agency's regional directors are qualified and ready to meet the challenges of disasters and relief efforts, for the simple reason we know how FEMA's head, idiot Michael Brown, padded his resume and experience.


Region 1
Kenneth L. Horak
Acting Director

[...] Prior to joining FEMA, Mr. Horak served as an officer in the United States Navy with duty assignments in Washington D.C., Norfolk, Va., and London, England. His private sector professional experience includes business retailing and public relations consulting.

A Massachusetts native, Mr. Horak holds a BA degree in American Government from Harvard College [...]


Region 2

Joseph F. Picciano
Office of the Director

[...] Prior to his service with FEMA, Mr. Picciano worked with engineering consultants in the fields of floodplain management, environmental planning and engineering. Mr. Picciano graduated from Newark College of Engineering in 1971 with a BS in Civil Engineering, and received a Masters Degree in Environmental Engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology in 1976. Mr. Picciano was honored as a distinguished Alumnus for 2002. Mr. Picciano is a licensed professional engineer and resident of Bergen County, New Jersey [...]


Region 3
Patricia G. Arcuri
Acting Regional Director

Patricia G. Arcuri has assumed the position of Deputy Regional Director and has also been appointed by Director Allbaugh as the Acting Regional Director for FEMA Region III. She succeeded Peter G. Cote who retired on Jan. 3. Before being named Deputy Regional Director, Pat served as the FEMA Region III Director of the Administration and Resource Planning Division (ARP). Pat brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience in FEMA's programs.

Pat began her FEMA career as a disaster temporary employee after Hurricane Agnes in 1972. Her initial 90-day appointment was renewed repeatedly. In 1974, she became a permanent full-time administrative assistant in the Executive Office of Emergency Preparedness. In 1974, the Executive Office of Emergency Preparedness became part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development as the Federal Disaster Assistance Administration. It became an independent agency, FEMA, in 1979.

Moving up the career ladder, Pat transitioned to the program area, first to Individual Assistance, then Public Assistance. When the Branch Chief for Public Assistance left, Pat was promoted to the position. She was then reassigned around 1990 to the Deputy Director of the Emergency Management National Preparedness Program Division (EMNPP) to manage Regional Response Plan activities. In 1993, FEMA was reorganized. Among the new units was the Operations Support Division, and Pat became its first director. The new division was responsible for activities such as information technology, logistics management, procurement, grants management, payroll and personnel. This division later evolved into ARP.


Region 4
Kenneth O. Burris, Jr.
Regional Director

[...] Before accepting this post, Mr. Burris had served as the first Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Fire Administration since September 1999. Burris oversaw the day-to-day operations of the U.S. Fire Administration, including the National Fire Academy, and serves as the primary advisor to the FEMA Director and the USFA Administrator on overall operations and management of the fire administration.

Before joining FEMA, Mr. Burris had served as a firefighter for more than 22 years, and had been the fire chief in Marietta, Georgia, since 1992. He is credited with applying innovative techniques and strong leadership to that department, which serves as a national model.

A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Burris holds a BS degree in Safety and Fire Protection Engineering Technology from the University of Cincinnati, where he graduated cum laude. He also holds a Masters of Public Administration at Kennesaw University [...]


Region 5
Edward G. Buikema
Regional Director

[...] In September 2001, Mr. Buikema was appointed as the Regional Director of FEMA's Region V. He coordinated FEMA mitigation, preparedness, and disaster response and recovery activities in six states: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. Since his appointment, he has overseen the response and recovery to 22 presidential disaster and emergency declarations that have occurred in Region V. The Department of Homeland Security designated him as one of the original Principal Federal Officials in December 2003. He has been involved in leadership positions in several high profile events including the 2004 Democratic National Convention and the Top Officials series of exercises. He is co-chair of the Great Lakes Partnership for Critical Infrastructure Security and Interdependence, a member of the Executive Committee of the Chicago Federal Executive Board, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Prior to coming to FEMA, Mr. Buikema was Director of the Emergency Management Division of the Michigan State Police. He was responsible for the administration of the state’s emergency management system and served as the State Coordinating Officer for presidential disaster declarations. He was an officer with the Michigan State Police for more than 26 years, with responsibilities ranging from law enforcement to serving as the governor’s authorized representative for nine presidential-declared disasters [...]


Region 6
Gary Jones
Regional Director

[...] In 1993, Mr. Jones was designated deputy regional director and has served as acting regional director on four other separate occasions. From 1983 until 1993, Mr. Jones worked in the FEMA Region VI Technological Hazards Branch, serving as branch chief and regional assistance committee chairman. The branch program responsibilities included Radiological Emergency Preparedness, Radiological Defense, Hazardous Materials, Earthquake Preparedness, Hurricane Preparedness, Dam Safety and the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program.

Mr. Jones has 41 years of government experience at the federal and state level. Prior to joining FEMA, Mr. Jones worked for the Arkansas Department of Health in a variety of emergency medical services positions and later served three years as the director of Arkansas’ Emergency Medical Services Program. Following his 13 years with the Arkansas Department of Health, Mr. Jones served as the Arkansas state coordinator for physician recruitment with the U.S. Public Health Service [...]


Region 7
Dick Hainje
Regional Director

[...] Prior to coming to FEMA, Mr. Hainje was an elected member of the South Dakota state legislature and a 24-year veteran of the Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Department. Hainje was elected to the state senate in 1996 and re-elected in 1998 and 2000, and spent four years on the state’s Appropriations Committee. He joined the Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Department in 1977 and rose through the ranks to division fire chief of prevention in 1999. Part of his responsibilities included injury prevention and fire safety programs for school children. Mr. Hainje worked closely with FEMA during the floods of 1997, when South Dakota and other states were threatened with spring flooding [...]


Region 8
David Maurstad
Regional Director

[...] Prior to that appointment, Mr. Maurstad was the Lieutenant Governor of Nebraska, a position to which he was elected in 1998. In that position, Mr. Maurstad served as federal liaison and tribal liaison and chairman of the Nebraska Information Technology Commission. During his tenure as lieutenant governor, he also worked with the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services on early childhood learning issues and created a program to recognize young people from across Nebraska for their achievements and personal courage.

Mr. Maurstad had previously served as a member of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature. He had also previously served on the Beatrice School Board and was mayor of that city.

Mr. Maurstad holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration and an MBA from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.


Region 9
AZ, CA, Guam, HI, NV, CNMI, RMI, FSM, American Somoa
Patricia E. Armes
Acting Regional Director

[...] In addition, Ms. Armes continues to serve as the region's Deputy Director, a post she assumed in December 2000. Previously Ms. Armes had served as director of the Operations Support Division and as branch chief of Program Services. She also served as Acting Regional Director from January 2000 until November 2002.

Before joining FEMA, Ms. Armes was director of the Business Management Department of the Navy Finance Center in San Francisco, a position assigned to her after the capitalization of the data automation centers by the Defense Information System Agency in 1994. Prior to that, she had served more than 10 years with that organization being promoted from budget analyst to the director of the Budget and Accounting Division and then director of the Management Support Division. She began there in 1982 as a NAVCOMPT financial management trainee [...]


Region 10
John Pennington
Regional Director

[...] In August of 2004 Mr. Pennington was appointed by the Department of Homeland Security as a member of the Principal Federal Official (PFO) cadre. He serves on the executive committee of the Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council of Alaska (ATACA) and is an ex-officio member of the State of Washington’s Emergency Management Council (EMC).

Prior to joining FEMA, Mr. Pennington served four terms of elected office in the Washington State House of Representatives. He served as Speaker Pro Tempore for three terms, and enjoyed the distinction of being the youngest House Speaker Pro Tem ever elected in Washington State. During his tenure, he authored more than 30 bills that became law [...]

Friday, September 09, 2005

American Hero: Ben Marble

Thanks, Mr. Ben Marble, for telling the Veep what he so desperately needed to hear.

Visit Marble's site and see pix of him observing Cheney on his photo-op tour to repair the damage to the Bush administration.

For a pic of Marble, go here.
FEMA Release on Scams Quotes Brownie

And some criminals pad their resumes, aren't prepared for hurricanes and used to work for the Arabian Horse Association.

From FEMA's September 9 press release on fraudulent practices:

Some criminals go door-to-door posing as inspectors, asking for personal information such as social security numbers and bank account information. Others are calling homes, saying they are government officials needing personal financial information. Scammers may offer to process your disaster application or provide disaster-related services for a fee.

"This is an extraordinarily difficult time for residents of the Gulf Coast area," said Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Preparedness and Response. "Be careful when you're online, before you sign contracts and when dealing with people representing themselves as officials. If you have doubts, contact your local emergency management office or Better Business Bureau."
Gov. Perry Loots Fed Treasury for His Charities

The September 8 edition of the Dallas Morning News reported on Texas Governor Rick Perry, asking people to donate money to a charity, the OneStar Foundation, that just happens to be one he founded.

Reporter Christy Hoppe, who I thank for getting this story into print and for looking at all angles of Perry's move, noted where the money for the foundation comes from: "Through legislation, the governor placed his divisions of faith-based initiatives, adult mentoring and the AmeriCorps volunteer program in the OneStar Foundation. It operates with federal grant money."

Nice use of our federal dollars, huh?

Hoppe whetted my appetite for more information on the charity, so I read the only IRS 990 report, for FY 2003, for the charity on the web site.

The total budget for Perry's OneStar Foundation was $71,000 in government grants. It didn't report any private, voluntary donations. Odd, for a group devoted to volunteerism that it has no direct public support. Just handouts from the federal government.

There's also an ancillary OneStar National Service Commission related to the OneStar Foundation, and the commission files its own IRS 990 form.

The national commission, based in beautiful Austin, Texas, reported in FY 2003 that it received $410,729 in government contributions.

Not a single dime was reported in the IRS 990 form. Just almost half a million in federal bucks to subsidize Perry's agenda of volunteerism.

So both of Perry's charities are wholly funded with federal money, from taxpayers, takes in no direct public donations, and the OneStar Foundation's "about us" page, with Perry's rather faggotty looking mug shot staring at visitors, outrageously claims the following:

"OneStar will support and promote volunteerism and will challenge all Texans to become active community volunteers, with the understanding that less costly government requires the individual leadership of service to others."

Hey, Gov! That costly government you deride is partially so expensive because of the federal grants you rake in. The next time someone talks to me about the looting of New Orleans, I'll be sure to point out Perry's looting of the federal treasury for his charities.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

FEMA P.R. Head Worked for Bush, Coke

From an old profile of the head of FEMA's public affairs office:

Natalie Rule, IBGA 1995

In the late summer of 1999, U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) gave Natalie Rule a promotion. Again. The move, from press secretary to communications director, was one of many career advancements that began with her attendance at the 1995 Institute for Business and Government Affairs (IBGA).

Natalie worked on President Bush's campaign as Victory 2000's Western United States Media Coordinator. After then serving as Press Secretary for the 54th Inaugural Committee, she was appointed as a Special Assistant to U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Gale Norton in the Office of Communications.

Natalie has now chosen to move her career to the private
sector. She has recently joined The Coca-Cola Company's Media Relations team as a Manager in their corporate headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia ...

Call me old-fashioned, but I believe spokespeople for federal agencies should have extensive backgrounds in the areas for which they will be speaking about before the press and general public.

Clearly, the top person at FEMA press office is yet another Bush political appointee without experience in disaster management.
Four FEMA Releases Today; None Quotes Brown

I feel like a Kremlinologist at times, sifting FEMA materials and photos, looking for signs of who in the ruling politburo has a cold. Or a flu perhaps.

Nincompoop FEMA director Michael D. Brown may be suffering from a case of the sniffles.

FEMA posted four news releases today and not one mentions Bush's buddy Brownie.

Release one, two, three and four are on the FEMA site.
Cheney's Silence, Laura "Proud" of Victims, DoD Asks Civic or Convention?

Tid-bits of news about some of the Bush administration's responses and statements regarding the Katrina disaster and its thousands, maybe millions, of victims that have caught my attention today.


Veep's site

September 8, 2005
Vice President Dick Cheney's Katrina statements on his official web site

"______________________________," said Mr. Cheney.

Yep, two weeks into the disaster and the Veep's silence on his web site may be indicative of a real crisis about Katrina at the White House.

If the administration can't post any remarks from the Veep expressing sorrow and concern on his web site, I guess it means they _really_ are focusing in on the aftermath.


First Lady's site

Compared to the Veep's site, First Lady Laura Bush's official web site is just brimming with concern, long remarks and photos about Katrina.

While Cheney's site lacks any comments from him, the First Lady's posts two transcripts of her recent talks on the catastrophe.

She spoke today in Des Moines at a back to school event and the transcript is here.

On September 2, she visited the Cajundome and spoke with some displaced people. She complained a bit about TV coverage and expressed pride in the people trying to recover. I wonder if she's as proud of how those displaced persons lived before the storm and her husband's policies that put them in grave and deadly danger.

MRS. BUSH: Today this is the only place. I just came straight to Lafayette. Well, I -- one thing I have to take back is that this doesn't really look like what we're seeing on television. And I'm proud of the people here. I'm proud of the people who are having to live here like this, whose lives are in shatters around them [...]


DoD site

This is just too much! Gen. Myers isn't even sure of the name of the one of the hell-holes were thousands of desperate Americans were trapped for days, without food, water, medicine or information. What TV stations wasn't he watching last week?

September 6, 2005

DoD Press Briefing on the Katrina disaster
w/Secretary Donald Rumsfield and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Richard Myers

Gen Myers: [...] we're talking about by Friday things were pretty much resolved not only in the Superdome but also in the - I think they call it the civic center or convention center -- they were pretty much -- by Friday night, Saturday morning, pretty much resolved [...]
CNN: "Go f*ck yourself, Mr. Cheney"

Someone off-camera tells the Veep to shove it! Watch the clip at Crooks and Liars.
MS, AL evacuation plans: Poor? Car-less? Tough Luck.

Let me state at the beginning of this post that I am a registered Green Party voter, so I have no allegiance to either the Democrats or the Republicans and their preparations and responses to the Katrina disaster, or the lack thereof.

Tons of criticism has been heaped on the mayor of New Orleans and governor of Louisiana, both Democrats, for their inadequate evacuation of poor citizens before Katrina struck and caused her catastrophic damage.

Many conservative pundits and GOP leaders, including White House political operatives, play the blame game pointing fingers against the Democrats in Louisiana, especially for their failure to have evacuation plans and to implement them.

While I don't wish to detract in any way from the necessary debate about Louisiana's pre-hurricane preparations, I think there must be some attention paid now to the evacuation plans of the Republican governors of Alabama and Mississippi, especially their plans to move people without cars or the means to leave Katrina's path in the two other hard-hit states.

Looking at Gov. Haley Barbour's Mississippi Emergency Management Agency's news releases and announcements related to Katrina, it's odd that not one release offers detailed plans for evacuations in general and nothing about evacuating citizens who don't drive or own cars.

Here's what MEMA said in its first August 27 release about evacuating: "At this time, no Mississippi local governments have began mandatory evacuations, but voluntary evacuations are recommended for coastal counties."

Nothing there about exactly how to get out, or where to find more information about evacuating, be it voluntary or mandatory.

The MEMA site has a link to a nine-page "Hurricane Evacuation Guide" pamphlet from the state Department of Transportation, but the only information in it about actually evacuating assumes everyone has a car. Absolutely no advice about what to do if you're without an automobile or disabled or at poverty level.

The second MEMA release from August 27 announced, "All three Mississippi Gulf Coast counties are urging residents to evacuate, especially those residents who live in low-lying areas, mobile homes and campgrounds."

Again, no directions on exactly how to evacuate and what to do if you didn't own a car.

This second release is also interesting because of this claim: "Governor Haley Barbour said he has been in personal contact with FEMA Director Michael Brown, Alabama Governor Bob Riley and Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, who have all offered any assistance that Mississippi may need." (Source for all MEMA releases.)

Nice of Barbour to communicate personally with the dumb head of FEMA, a GOP crony, and two other governors from nearby affected states, who, like Barbour, are Republicans, but what about the Democratic governor from the Bayou State?

Even Stevie Wonder can see that the Louisiana governor, Kathy Blanco, is missing from the list of governors Barbour contacted. This omission clearly shows Barbour and his staff were engaging in politics very early in the blame game.

Compare that MEMA release with what Alabama Governor Bob Riley said in a release from his Emergency Management Agency, also from August 27: "The track from the National Weather Service this morning shows Katrina’s most serious impact will most likely be in Louisiana and Mississippi, so I spoke with Governor Barbour and Governor Blanco to let them know Alabama is prepared to offer any assistance their citizens may need." (Source: Riley's office.)

I'd like to think that Riley put aside party differences and actually was in touch with his Louisiana counterpart, unlike Barbour.

Back to MEMA's announcements about evacuations. On August 28 MEMA advised, "All Mississippi Gulf Coast evacuees are urged to evacuate northbound and use the following highways for evacuation."

I hate to be rude, what the hell were folks without motor vehicles supposed to do? Stand on the side of the road and hitchhike? Hail a passing taxi? Maybe get a lift with the FEMA-rented buses going by?

Alabama's Emergency Management Agency, like MEMA, provided no detailed evacuation information for poor citizens lacking cars or trucks, even its August 28 announcement from the governor declaring an evacuation for two counties. (Source:

The next time the mainstream media or anyone criticizes New Orleans' and Louisiana's evacuation plans as inadequate, and they were, woefully so, ask the person doing the complaining about Mississippi and Alabama's evacuation efforts, particularly for the car-less and poor.

I wonder how many citizens of Mississippi and Alabama perished because of poor state evacuation organizing.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

USNS Comfort Arrives Sept 9 in New Orleans

According to a DoD release today, a US Navy ship finally arrived in the New Orleans area in the past few days.

"In another new development, USS Tortuga was positioned pierside in New Orleans, where its crew is now conducting evacuations, distributing food and water, and transporting support troops, NORTHCOM officials said."

To get some info on the ship, its crew and their activities, check out this link.

Today's DoD statement also provided this important news.

"The hospital ship USNS Comfort, capable of treating 250 patients, is scheduled to arrive Sept. 9, DoD homeland defense officials reported today."

I can't locate a URL for the Comfort, but if I do, I'll share it.

The DoD release is at this link.
FEMA Hiring Firefighters As Social Workers

The F*cked-up Emergency Management Agency continues its bumbling ways, with idiot Michael D. Brown still at the helm. When does the door slap his ass on the way out?

Just when I thought most of the head-scratching stupidity of FEMA was a thing of the past, I read this September 2 release from the U.S. Fire Administration, which is part of Homeland Security.

USFA put out a release correcting the confusion of an earlier email from the fire administration regarding possibel work for firefighters.

Well, it turns out FEMA isn't looking to hire the firefighters to do what they're trained to perform. FEMA wants them to do p.r. and social work for FEMA!

Read choice excerpts the USFA release and weep:

"The U.S. Fire Administration has received several emails regarding our recent memo soliciting firefighters to work as Disaster Employees. First and foremost, this is not a part of the National Response Plan, the Urban Search and Rescue Program, Emergency Management Assistance Compact or Mutual Aid.

"This is simply the hiring of firefighters to work as federal disaster employees of FEMA through existing financial instruments [...] The hiring of Community Relations disaster employees occurs at every disaster.

"This time, due to the constraints of doing background investigations when we hire private citizens, we made the decision to hire firefighters that already have gone through a criminal background investigation. We desperately needed 2000 people who could be hired as federal employees and deployed quickly.

"These people will not be performing firefighter duties. They will become temporary FEMA Community Relations personnel, doing a job we do in every disaster.

"We understand that some people may have been upset – this was never our intent. We are trying to respond to a desperate situation with the most talented people we know – firefighters [...] We simply ask that you understand how desperate the situation is and how badly we need skilled people."

Sounds to me like the initial USFA memo was confusing to firefighters, who mistakenly thought FEMA was looking to employ them to actually fight fires or perform other rescue and vital public safety services. Another example of poor communication from the feds.

And what are the nitty-gritty detail duties these brave men and women are being hired for? This September 6 posting on the U.S. Fire Service site provides the answer:

"The work we are recruiting Fire Service members for is community relations-focused, consisting of direct humanitarian outreach to persons in multi-state areas affected by Hurricane Katrina.

"It is non-operational in nature.

"You will assist victims in applying for Federal disaster assistance, distribute information, provide minimal first aid (if required), and take reports. The work may be outside (exposed to the elements and require significant walking) or inside an evacuation shelter/center or disaster field office."

Let the record show that in the second week of Katrina's aftermath FEMA, USFA and Homeland Security were recruiting and hiring firefighters to work as social workers and p.r. reps for the agencies.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Aug 30: Bush's Exclusive Interview w/Pentagon Channel

Can you believe that on August 30, as millions of our fellow Americans were devastated by Hurricane Katrina, our vacationing president and his wife were enjoying the lovely sunshine of San Diego, buffing up Bush's war on terror.

George and Laura Bush had all the time in the world, nothing pressing in New Orleans or on the Gulf Coast needed their urgent attention, so they sat down for an exclusive interview with a journalist from the Pentagon Channel.

Needless to say, my boyfriend and I don't subscribe to this channel, so we missed Dubya's talk with the Pentagon reporter.

I've gone hunting for the video of the interview and found it on the Pentagon Channel's site, but when I try to watch it a window opens up claiming I don't have the right version of WindowsMediaPlayer with which to view the video clip.

However, I did find a story about the interview on another military news web site. As you can see, it doesn't appear as though Bush said a word about the troubles engulfing American citizens in the South.

So, I hope someone out there can open the Pentagon Channel's video clip of the interview and inform me of what the president said, if anything, about the suffering of Katrina's victims.


The Pentagon Channel

30 August, 2005 - A Pentagon Channel exclusive interview with President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.

Bush: Troops Need Support Despite Political Debate
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31, 2005 – Debate about policy decisions and his approval rating as president are not reflections on the value of the service military members are providing every day, President Bush said in San Diego, Calif., Aug. 30.
After speaking at a ceremony commemorating the Allied victory over Japan 60 years ago, the president and first lady Laura Bush sat down to an interview with the Pentagon Channel and discussed the importance of support for the troops, regardless of what people may think of his politics.

"There's a difference between whether or not people support the decisions I have made and whether or not people support the troops," Bush said. "Our troops have just got to know that America supports them."

Bush said he is aware of the debate about the U.S. withdrawing its forces from Iraq, but emphasized he is firm in his position.

"I have made it absolutely clear that we will not withdraw now," he said. "We will complete the mission. I will continue to make the case that by withdrawing now, we will make the world less secure; we will have abandoned our word."

American society encourages people to express their opinions and have debates, but troops and families need to know America is supporting them as they make sacrifices to defend freedom, Bush said. Americans can show their support in many ways, one of which is by visiting the Defense Department's "America Supports You" Web site, which gives ideas on how to support the troops, he said.

Servicemembers and their families have had to make major sacrifices since the war on terror began almost four years ago, but they also are enjoying enhanced benefits, Bush said. Housing, pay, health care, training and equipment all have been improved, he said, and military families have a strong support community.

"We're a much more robust military today and a much more considerate military today than we were four or five years ago," he said.

The dedication of today's military members can be seen in the wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who, despite their life-changing injuries, want to return to the fight as soon as possible, Laura Bush said.

"The amazing thing for me is how strong they are," she said.

It is important for the government and the American public to support these wounded troops now and for the rest of their lives, she said, because they will always be affected by the sacrifices they have made.

President Bush said he attributes these servicemembers' dedication to two factors: first, the character of the troops and their understanding of the importance of the mission, and second, their willingness to defeat an enemy for the sake of future generations.

"America's lucky to have such incredibly courageous people," he said.

These dedicated troops will help the United States achieve its objectives in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush said, where he is confident freedom will prevail.

"When freedom prevails, history has proven that peace will prevail," he said. "When people see Iraq as an example - a country that answers to the hopes and aspirations of the people themselves, not to a tyrant - more will demand that kind of freedom."
Bush Has Reason to Laugh Today?

We all probably know by now about Barbara (Mamma Corleone) Bush cracking wise yesterday about the grief and displacement of refugees from Hurricane Katrina now being housed in the Houston Astrodome. In Editor and Publisher's account of her remarks on NPR over the weekend, E&P notes that she chuckled at her own bad humor.

Well, today at a meeting with his Cabinet about relief efforts in the Gulf Coast region, Bush took a few questions, one of which was about who he might nominate to the Supreme Court in the next few days.

As you see in the White House's transcript of the exchange, Bush laughed, not once, but twice at his own goofiness.

No, I'm not shocked the president can find _anything_ to laugh about right now, but what does surprise me is that his press office was kind enough to insert the word "laughter" into the transcript.

While the White House chants now is not the time for finger-pointing, known in most quarters as accountability, it apparently is always the right time for the Bush family to laugh as other Americans suffer greatly.

Note to the White House: Do you really want to call attention to the president having anything to laugh about during these dark times?


White House Press Office
September 6, 2005


Q Are the same ones on the list, sir? Some of the same ones that you interviewed last time, are they --

THE PRESIDENT: The list is wide open, which should create some good speculation here in Washington. (Laughter.) And make sure you notice when I said that I looked right at Al Gonzales, who can really create speculation. (Laughter.)



September 5, 2005

Editor and Publisher


Then she added: "What I’m hearing which is sort of
scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is
so overwhelmed by the hospitality.

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you
know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she
chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."