Rehnquist Dies

Chief Justice Rehnquist died today at the age of 80, at his home, surrounded by his family.

So when do we start building the underground railroad for the women in red states who need abortions?

More on Katrina, Politics, and Being Rudderless

Molly Ivins has a word to say about why politics matter, and why Katrina has made that clear.

Here’s something that I could have written – straight from a New Yorker who has had enough of this charade of a Presidency.

And finally, the Rude Pundit (not for those who don’t like swear words!) on leadership and the lack of it. Look, I didn’t like Rudy Giuliani, but I’d take all of his bullshit twelve times over for the leadership he showed on 9/11, a leadership that is obviously lacking with Katrina, and in the person of George Bush Jr. If people think that’s leadership, we really aren’t teaching history in school anymore.

Leaders are people like Mother Jones, John L. Lewis, Eugene Debs, Cesar Chavez: the people who brought you Labor Day weekend, the 40-hour work week, and weekends. None of them were perfect, but all of them understood something that Dubya does not: that what people need is power, not promises.

Happy Labor Day, folks.

Sidney on Katrina

This piece was written by Sidney, a friend of a friend. She can be reached at

These are random thoughts, feelings.

I’ve been immersed in this because my dearest friend of 40 years, and her family, live in Gulfport and there’s no way of knowing for sure whether they’re alive or not. She’s a life-long resident and a minister. I change my mind every second about whether she left or stayed, lived or died. The emotional roller coaster is text-book, but because it’s me, I’m feeling desperate and crazed.

If I’m feeling crazed, as safe, dry, fed, watered, and well as I am, and with all the support in the world that I need, I can begin to comprehend the desperation they and all the dear souls in New Orleans and on the Coast must be feeling.

I can’t express my shame and rage that this is occurring in my country. Past the grief and shock of the natural disaster is the utter shame at the boggling incompetence in response to, and the chaos in New Orleans. I can’t. I stammer. I find it hard to breathe. Sometimes I feel such rage and frustration that I think my chest will burst.

At last I hear somebody REAL on TV. CNN’s Jack Cafferty said something like “. . . and the elephant in the living room that nobody’s willing to talk about, the race and class factor going on here.” I could weep for relief that the glad-wrapped whiteout is finally beginning to break down. You know and I know that if this were Dallas, we’d be seeing a totally different play. That it took a — what, what do you call this? “Disaster?” I think frankly that we’re past that now — if it took an obliteration of this size to reach the flinty little hearts of the corporate newsfaces absolutely appalls me, but I’ll force myself to find the good news: At least it is happening now. Long may it reign.

I heard our ghoulish new national Director of Homeland Security first thing this morning give a press conference on how September would be “preparedness month.” The mind congeals. I heard the president say that looters should be dealth with ruthlessly. I had to laugh. I didn’t hear him say that about what’s happening in Baghdad. I had to laugh, for the first time in days. It wasn’t a happy laugh.

My questions are without end. I imagine Europe looking on. I imagine a whole world led for decades to believe that the mighty USA could clean up a mess like this in 24 hours, looking on in a wonder of grief and disillusion, slightly disoriented by the disconnect between what we’ve been told and what we are seeing. I imagine that they, like me, see themselves in the stinking, deadly soup that’s suffocating New Orleans. I imagine Osama tapping his bony fingers, thinking “Now would be a good time.” I imagine that all the world, like me, wonders what will happen to us when the big one comes. I fear I’m seeing the future. I think I’m watching the chickens coming home to roost.

This morning I opened one of the survivor link-up sites. I had posted two search messages there, one for each of my friends. The site format limited what I could say to listing the names and locations, and a drop-down menu of “alive,” “dead.” “missing,” and “unknown.” I had chosen “unknown.” I opened the site this morning, dully, numb and despairing, and clicked on my post for Jane Stanley, expecting what I’ve found for two days : no news. But someone has changed “unknown” to “alive.” I feel something shift inside. My heart ca-thunks. Ca-thunks again. I am clinging to this, using every power of faith I can muster to believe it. Believe. Believe. Believe. Don’t let go.

Memories of the Coast. The beach where caskets lie like pill boxes today is the beach I walked on almost every day for two years. I remember the sounds of the surf, the smell at low tide, the lovely pale sunrises. Girls in their whites around a huge bonfire. Happier days. My then best friend could watch the sea like no one else I’ve ever known. She seemed to meld with it, finding in it a consolation for wounds that no one knew but she. I learned something about that from her in that first year there.

My favorite teacher and I crossing 90, heading back to campus, when a dog darted across in front of us. I knew it would be hit. It was, and yet it fled too fast to rescue.

The very first time I ever got drunk was on that beach, the first week of my freshman year. I wasted no time sowing my wild oats. A pack of Keesler men had come to hunt us, bringing inner tubes with holes sewn closed on the bottom, to serve as coolers. They’d tie a rope to the tube and float it out into the water to chill the gin and Southern Comfort, vodka, bourbon, rum, and coke. Who knew not to drink in the hot sun? Who knew not to mix the liquors? Who knew even how much to drink? Certainly not I. There are half a dozen women alive now who may remember dunking me in ice cold water in the tub until I was sober enough to take the carefully meted-out hazing that the upper class dispensed at any act of serious idiocy. This particular act could have cost my parents their tuition and me my education, because drinking there was a shipping offense.

I remember walking west on 90, past the little Catholic church on a Sunday morning, to Little Man’s, the tiny cafe where we hid out from mandatory church attendance. We called it “St. Little Mans.” The damp chill of a wintry Coast morning. The sound and feel of the sand on the pavement under my feet, or in my dorm room. The glint of Biloxi lights on a moonlit night, and the scent of gardenias mixed with orange blossom on a warm Coast night.

I sit in wonder at the wealthy white men who are right this minute making decisions that will seal the fate of thousands of my countrymen and women, and, like every other American, I suppose, I wonder where I’d be if my fate depended on their wisdom and, dare I say it, compassion. I have a better sense where I’d be now than I had last week, that’s for sure.

I see Perry hogging the limelight for Texas, and while I am grateful for the aid, I want to ask him: “Governor Goodhair, do you plan to house queer refugees in your astrodome?”

I just heard that the Speaker of the US House, Dennis Hastert, thinks it’s a waste of good money to rebuild the Big Easy. What does that mean? I mean, What. Can. That. Possibly. Mean.

Somehow the Red Cross was able to pre-position — word of the week — its “assets.” Somehow the Coast Guard was able to get in there and get in gear. Wonder why the US government wasn’t? You know, it’s 5:47 pm, Thursday, September 1, 2005, and I STILL DON’T SEE THE GUARD in New Orleans. I STILL DON’T SEE 500 B-52s offloading troops, cots, blankets, medicines, food, water, toilets, walkie-talkies.

These guys can set up a rally on the Mall for 250,000 in 24 hours, but they can’t fly in a few large speakers and microphones to begin to coordinate communications in New Orleans?

My mind spins one moment and melts to aspic the next.

I called McCain’s office. At the end of my enraged tirade, I said, “I suppose you’ve gotten lots of calls today.” “Yes,” she said. “Callers saying, ‘O I just LOVE George Bush! I think he’s the BEST president in US history!'” She said, “Not exactly.”

Copyright JS Oliver, 2005. All rights reserved.

“In 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S. But the Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war.”

What’s Left in America

Liberal Blogosphere for Hurricane Relief

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“There’s nothing wrong with America that can’t be fixed by what’s right with America.” – Bill Clinton.

Hurricane Katrina destroyed thousands of lives. Together, we’re raising $1 million for the Red Cross and prove that the liberal blogosphere can help our fellow citizens.

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