Friday, September 09, 2005

Sing along: "Down with America"

I was enjoying my breakfast yesterday, reading my newspaper, until I came across an article about a new single from Flemish singer/songwriter Raymond van het Groenewoud.

Here is a literal (sort of) translation in English of the song’s lyrics:

Down with America ("Weg met Amerika")

Hamburgers and cola, yes you already knew
But do you also know the cause of the general decay?
Short-sighted thinking, noisy talking
Sticking to one-liners forever

Down with America! Down with the jerks from America
Down with America!

Down with American colonialism
Down with that ugly, biting English
All the Anglo-Saxon pretence, arrogance
Yes, a glowing pick up their ass
And that is that
Down with the rappers and their eternal “fuck”
Down with the glorification of stupidity

Indeed, “fucking assholes”, shit yourselves
Long live Italy, long live the mob
Down with imitating America
United Nations, lambs bleating
They are all vassals of the United States

Down with America! Down with the jerks from America

Down with America!
Down with American imperialism
Their infantile culture
Full of embarrassing predictability
And Hollywood monsters of shallowness
Then you are in Belgium, there you have to deal with
All those stupid and also failed
Imitations of stupid America-products

Down with America and its professionalism
A masquerade for emptiness
Democracy, “ammehoela”!
We are enslaved like a tame puma
Huh, ugly buyers, also of freedom
Their fucked up, imposed, meaningless freedom
Do you know what’s wrong, do you know what’s wrong?
The dictatorship of the American statue of liberty, yeah
That’s what’s wrong
Those foolish macho’s, yeah dude, yeah dude
They are playing cop for sixty years now

Down with America! Down with the jerks from America

Their chewing-gum firmness, their shotguns
Their plastic blond broads with their Pepsodent teeth
And their ridiculous terminator
“Full of shit”
It is never over
You can count on that
Down with the cowboys of CNN
The country that doesn’t recognize complexity
Where free thought is hindered
Make the jerks look like fools
Down with those cowboys, long live the Indians!
This is the last of the Mohicans speaking
I am from the Belgian, the European panel
And I ask you: “Clear my channel! Clear my channel!”
Megalomaniac unicellular idiots
“Kiss my ass”, yes, kiss my balls

Down with America! Down with the jerks from America

Down with America! Down with the jerks from America

Record company EMI defends this as “Raymond on his best” and although the song was recorded before Katrina hit the US, the song was released as scheduled.

The performer himself says that the song was written out of a feeling of irritation about the United States. “It is mostly a feeling of indignation about the economic coercion from people with a lot of power. I only realized that I had it up to – here – when I started to write the song, which went very easily.”

Van het Groenewoud can sing whatever he wants, but I have an equal right to say that I feel ashamed of his many stereotypes. I don’t know what my American friends think of this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they found this insulting. Does this qualify as inciting to hatred against populations or nationalities which is punishable by law in Belgium, as fellow blogger Luc Van Braekel thinks (in Dutch)? I remember a – not-to-be-named - political party that was found guilty of a similar crime against Muslim immigrants. Talking of double standards. Or maybe it is just pathetic, not worth making a fuss about it. Unfortunately, we continuously see this kind of things here. For a friend of America(ns) like me, this is very demoralizing.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Thoughts on Katrina

Over on Redhunter I've categorized this post under "politics", which even as I type seems odd. It should, of course, go under something like "natural disasters", or simply "tragedy".

I also haven't written much about it, partially due to lack of time, but mostly because I don't like to do instant analysis on somthing this complicated. It will take time before all of the facts become known, and much of we think to be true now will doubtless be shattered.

And indeed if the hurricane and it's devastating aftermath were simply a technical matter, I probably wouldn't be writing anything at all.

But the speed and ferocity with which the left has used the hurricane to attack President Bush is breathtaking. It is also completely inexcuseable and disgusting.

Raw Political Opportunism

Let's call is what it is; raw political opportunism. I've surveyed enough of the blogosphere, listened to enough news broadcasts, to see that these people have absolutely no shame.

David Frum puts it well:

Is there not something bizarre about their willingness to fire off accusation after accusation, each contradicting the last? The disaster was caused by the Bush administration's failure to protect the environment from global warming .... no, no, it was caused by the administration's refusal to manipulate the environment by funding more levees to control the Mississippi River .... it's Iraq, no it's budget cuts, no it's wetlands, and on and on and on.

Good God, what is wrong with these people? Will they ever learn to see somebody else's misfortune as something more than their political opportunity?

No doubt that any diasater of this magnitude will become a political issue sooner or later. Blame, or credit, will be assigned to various political leaders. This is fine. Elected leaders, who are expected to take primary role in planning for and executing disaster plans, should expect to face scrutiny.

Indeed, with so many people suffering so badly, it is only to be expected that they, at least, will lash out at political leaders. This is fine. No problem.

And, let's be blunt, the Bush Administration made mistakes, perhaps many. Republicans are supposed to be the "can do" party, and this image has been tarnished. So no, I'm not excusing George Bush or everyone in his administration for everything that has happened.

"Worst Example Yet of Media Bias"

Of the many news stories that I could have selected, consider just this one from the BBC, posted just this morning:

As President Bush scurries back to the Gulf Coast, it is clear that this is the greatest challenge to politics-as-usual in America since the fall of Richard Nixon in the 1970s.

Then as now, good reporting lies at the heart of what is changing.

But unlike Watergate, "Katrinagate" was public service journalism ruthlessly exposing the truth on a live and continuous basis.

Instead of secretive "Deep Throat" meetings in car-parks, cameras captured the immediate reality of what was happening at the New Orleans Convention Center, making a mockery of the stalling and excuses being put forward by those in power.

Amidst the horror, American broadcast journalism just might have grown its spine back, thanks to Katrina.

Such reporting is at the level of self-parody, and only those who are completely lost in the fever swamps of hate-Bush leftism cannot but fail to see the bias. I had to check twice to make sure I wasn't on the website of, or National Lampoon.

Powerline tells it like it is:

The mainstream media's handling of Hurricane Katrina and the disasters in New Orleans is a disgrace, possibly the worst instance yet of media bias. Insane claims by left-wing nuts that President Bush botched the recovery effort on purpose so as to kill black people are repeated by the MSM in a chin-stroking mode, as if to say, "It's an interesting question--they might be on to something." Meanwhile, no one points out that it was President Bush who implored Governor Blanco to issue a first-ever mandatory evacuation order for the city, an action by the President that probably saved tens of thousands of lives.

Similarly, the media yammmer on and on about the allegedly slow federal response to the hurricane, without noting that the Governor of Louisiana has the power to call out the National Guard. Accusations that lawlessness and looting in New Orleans are somehow the federal government's fault are repeated endlessly; hardly anyone bothers to criticize the looters and other criminals themselves. And where is the outrage that should be directed toward the New Orleans Police Department? They were the authorities on the scene, and they, under the direction of the city's Mayor--who had an emergency plan in place, but apparently made no attempt to implement it--had the responsibility to maintain law and order. Yet some policemen reportedly joined in the looting, while a great many others turned tail and abandoned their responsibilities

Timing is Everything

If liberals had waited until the next election cycle, or at least a few months, before launching their attacks, then I would not be writing this. I may disagree with the substance of their attacks, but could fault them then for bringing the issue to the forefront.

But no, they just couldn't wait. They hate the President so much that in their zeal they launched attacks virtually unprecedented in their ferocity. Some immediate criticism is only to be expected, especially in the blogosphere. But this has gone way, way, too far, way too fast.

Look Who isn't Talking

Just as with 9/11, the one person who isn't criticizing the President is Bill Clinton.

Indeed, he came to Bush's defense at a press conference last week. The President had recruited both his father and Bill Clinton to aid in soliticing disaster relief funds, just as he did during the tsunami earlier this year. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux, however, decided to play politics:

MALVEAUX: Let me ask you this: There are some people at the New Orleans Convention Center who say that they have been living like animals -- no food, no water, no power. And they are the ones who are saying: Where are the buses? Where are the planes? Why did it take three days to see a real federal response here? Mr. Bush, you, whether it's fair or not, had gone through some administration criticism about your handling of Hurricane Andrew.

G.H.W. BUSH: I sure did.

MALVEAUX: Do you believe that this is legitimate?

G.H.W. BUSH: Yes, I do. What happened? We all sighed with -- not legitimate. I believe that they ought not to be as upset, but I can understand why they are. We thought, a lot of people thought, that when the hurricane went to the right a little bit, New Orleans was going to be spared. And it was only the next day that, you know, there were these horrible problems with the levee. But, look, if I were sitting there with no shower, no ability to use bathroom facilities, worried about my family, not knowing where they were, I'd blame anybody and so you have to expect that.

MALVEAUX: But do you think this administration responded quickly enough?

G.H.W. BUSH: Of course I do.

CLINTON: Let me answer this. The people in the Superdome are in a special position. And let me say, I've been going to New Orleans for over 50 years. There's no place on earth I love more. They went into the Superdome, not because of the flooding, but because we thought the hurricane was going to hit New Orleans smack dab and they'd be safe in there if they didn't leave town.

What happened was, when the levee broke and the town flooded, what did it do? It knocked out the electricity and it knocked out the sewage. They're living in hellacious conditions. They would be better off under a tree than being stuck there. You can't even breathe in that place now.

So I understand why they're so anxiety-ridden. But they have to understand, by the time it became obvious that they were in the fix they were in, there were a lot of other problems, too. There were people -- they were worried about people drowning that had to be taken off roofs.

MALVEAUX: So you two believe that the federal response was fast enough?

CLINTON: All I'm saying is what I know the facts are today. There are hundreds of buses now engaged in the act of taking people from New Orleans to the Astrodome in Houston. And you and I are not in a position to make any judgment because we weren't there.

All I'm saying is the way they got stuck there, I see why they feel the way they do. But the people that put them there did it because they thought they were saving their lives. And then when the problems showed up, they had a lot of other people to save. Now they've got hundreds of buses. We just need to get them out. I think they'll all be out by tomorrow. Didn't they say they would all be out by tomorrow morning?

G.H.W. BUSH: Yes.

MALVEAUX: OK. Well, thank you very much. I'm sorry. We've run out of time. Thank you.

G.H.W. BUSH: Let me -- I just to want finish. I believe the administration is doing the right thing, and I believe they have acted in a timely fashion. And I understand people being critical. That happens all the time. And I understand some people wanted to make, you know, a little difficulty by criticizing the president and the team. But I don't want to sit here and not defend the administration which, in my view, has taken all the right steps. And they're facing problems that nobody could foresee: breaking of the levees and the whole dome thing over in New Orleans coming apart. People couldn't foresee that.

CLINTON: Yes, I think that's important to point out. Because when you say that they should have done this, that or the other thing first, you can look at that problem in isolation, and you can say that.

But look at all the other things they had to deal with. I'm telling you, nobody thought this was going to happen like this. But what happened here is they escaped -- New Orleans escaped Katrina. But it brought all the water up the Mississippi River and all in the Pontchartrain, and then when it started running and that levee broke, they had problems they never could have foreseen.

And so I just think that we need to recognize right now there's a confident effort under way. People are doing the best they can. And I just don't think it's the time to worry about that. We need to keep people alive and get them back to life -- normal life.

(transcript courtesy of Captain's Quarters)

Bill Clinton knows perfectly well that had this occured under his watch his administration would have responded much as President Bush's did. He also knows that in his eight years he didn't get the levees in New Orleans fixed, either. One thing that amazes me about the left is how they forget who was president before George W Bush. Are we to believe that the idea that a category 5 hurricane might hit New Orleans is a recent one?

Either Way He gets Criticized

If Bush doesn't go to the disaster area, he is said to be insulated and uncaring. If he does go, then he's only looking for the photo op.

If Bush proposes large funding increases for the military, including guard and reserves, then he's "feeding the imperialist war machine" and starving "badly needed funds" for education or child care. If he doesn't, then he's blamed for not having enough resources on hand to respond to disasters like Katrina.

If he doesn't fire someone, then he doesn't recognize that federal relief efforts have failed. If he does, then it's an "ah ha!" moment for the left; Bush has finally admitted he's a failure as a leader.

This is the worst natural disaster in our nations history, why isn't more being done faster?

Not our Finest Hour

When New Yorkers faced a crisis of unimaginable proportions 4 years ago, they responded with grace and dignity. "Everyone pulled together" became more than a cliche.

The scenes of looting and mayhem in New Orleans will haunt us for some time. One can not fail to be nothing but appalled at how all too many of the residents who stayed behind reacted.

Yes, yes, I know, the situations were different; all of NYC was not affected, many of those who stayed in NO were doubtless criminals anyway who did so precisely because they thought there would be an opportunity to loot, etc. Nevertheless one cannot help but be struck by the vast disparity between the two.

Oh, by the way, do you own a gun? If you don't, I'll bet you're thinking about getting one now. Of course, the Redhunter already has that base well covered.

Overplaying their Hand?

It may well turn out that by coming on so strong, so quickly, the left has overplayed their hand. Arthur Chrenkoff has done an excellent job at compiling extreme statements made by Bush bashers, see here and here. .

Mainstream Democrats may be embarassed by some of these attacks, and will hold their fire for a more opportune moment. But one of the problems they face is that their party has been captured by far left groups such as, America Coming Together, by people such as Michael Moore and George Soros. Byron York has documented this well in his 2005 book The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy. Democrats who should know better have become so dependant on money and publicity from these fringe groups and people that they cannot or will not disavow them. Because of this they may well end up tarnished themselves.

Either way, this is only going get more ugly.


Don't worry, I'm not going to turn this post into a "daily update" thing.

But a few things that I saw today bear repeating

First, is the story in today's Washington Post that puts the lie to the notion that the entire reason the levees failed is that mean 'ol President Bush cut their funding. Money quote:

In Katrina's wake, Louisiana politicians and other critics have complained about paltry funding for the Army Corps in general and Louisiana projects in particular. But over the five years of President Bush's administration, Louisiana has received far more money for Corps civil works projects than any other state, about $1.9 billion; California was a distant second with less than $1.4 billion, even though its population is more than seven times as large.

Much of that Louisiana money was spent to try to keep low-lying New Orleans dry. But hundreds of millions of dollars have gone to unrelated water projects demanded by the state's congressional delegation and approved by the Corps, often after economic analyses that turned out to be inaccurate. Despite a series of independent investigations criticizing Army Corps construction projects as wasteful pork-barrel spending, Louisiana's representatives have kept bringing home the bacon.

In other words, folks, they wasted the money we did give them. Read the whole thing.

Also is Major Garrett's interview with Brit Hume on the 6pm Fox show last night. Garrett is a Fox news reporter, which most of you know. I'll just post the whole thing:

Fox News' Brit Hume: First, the focus of all of the attention has been FEMA, Federal Emergency Management Agency, what is FEMA?

Fox News' Major Garrett: Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2,500 full time employees, 4,000 stand by employees. The mission statement very simple: prepare, respond, help, recover, reduce risk. How does it do it? By coordinating with state and local entities and other groups The Salvation Army, Red Cross, dedicated to helping the needy when disaster strikes.

Hume: So FEMA is relatively, it isn't very labor intensive it mostly works through other agencies?

Garrett: It works through other agencies. But it has been moved into the Department of Homeland Security. And in this crisis, It is a bit a victim of its own bureaucratic boastfulness. Earlier this year the new national response plan released by the Department of Homeland Security promised this - "seemless integration of the federal government when an incident exceeds local and state capabilities." In the minds of many Americans, this one did. And FEMA, at least initially, in the minds of some, did not respond enough.

Hume: The words seamless don't exactly spring to mind. But look, they are down there, The Red Cross, for example, is there.

Garrett: Standing by, ready.

Hume: Standing by, ready. Why didn't FEMA send The Red Cross into New Orleans when we had all of the people there on that bridge overpass and elsewhere. Why not?

Garrett: First of all, no jurisdiction. FEMA works with The Red Cross, The Salvation Army and other organizations but it has no control to order them to go one place or the other. Secondarily, The Red Cross was ready. I got off the phone with one of their officials. They had a vanguard, Brit, of trucks with water, food, hygiene equipment, all sorts of things ready to go where? To the Superdome and convention center. Why weren't they there? The Louisiana Department of Homeland Security told them they could not go.

Hume: This is isn't the Louisiana branch of the federal Homeland Security? This is --

Garrett: The state's own agency devoted to the state's homeland security. They told them you cannot go there. Why? The Red Cross tells me that state agency in Louisiana said, look, we do not want to create a magnet for more people to come to the Superdome or convention center, we want to get them out. So at the same time local officials were screaming where is the food, where is the water? The Red Cross was standing by ready, the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security said you can't go.

Hume: FEMA does, presumably at some point, have some jurisdiction over some military forces. Of course, the first responders there are the National Guard. Why didn't FEMA send the National Guard in? You heard that cry from many people.

Garrett: FEMA does not have jurisdictional control over any state's National Guard, only the governor does. The governor in this case, Kathleen Blanco, A democrat, did use the Louisiana National Guard for some purposes, did not deploy them in massive numbers initially and they were not used to move any of these relief organizations in and they could have been for the very same reason I talked about earlier, the state decided they didn't want the relief organizations where the people needed it most because they wanted those people to get out.

Hume: But even today we know that Governor Blanco has now decided that a mandatory evacuation may not be necessarily after all. But we can go into that later. What about the use by her of the National Guard to impose law and order during the early looting and all of that?

Garrett: She had a choice, as I am told. She could have taken up the offer from FEMA to federalize all of the activities in Louisiana, meaning that FEMA would be in control of everything. Not only law enforcement, but everything else. She declined to give them that authority. So essentially FEMA was trapped between two bureaucracies. One the Department Of Homeland Security where many of its decisions have to be reviewed and in some cases approved, and a recalcitrant state bureaucracy that wasn't going to give them the authority they needed to make things happen, among them, the National Guard.

Hume: What about this evacuation problem? It's clearly was something that New Orleans faced, knew it faced to some extent.

Garrett: And the city [sic] of Louisiana. They have a whole plan that contemplates dealing with an evacuation in the effect of a hurricane three, four or five. Their own plan says, 100,000 residents minimum from the New Orleans area will have to be evacuated. This plan makes it clear ...

Hume: You mean, can't get out on their own.

Garrett: These people will have not have their own vehicles. Not only that, It stipulate that these people are disproportionately poor, sick and in need of special transportation assistance. Brit, I think in these circumstances, bureaucratic language is important. Let's go to this. This is what the state says: "the Department of Health and Hospitals has the primary responsibility for providing medical coordination for all of the special-needs populations, i.e. hospital and nursing home patients, persons on home health care, elderly persons and other persons with physical or mental disabilities." Brit, I don't think you can come up with a better description of the people we saw, day in and day out, at the Superdome and the convention center, than this very population that the state's own plan said needed to be transported to a safe place and provided services.

Hume: Apparently no plan, no provision, no facility for doing that.

Garrett: No facility for doing that. Not only that, those who reviewed the plans the state put together before were critical of it. In 2002 the New Orleans Times Picayune had a whole story about this saying no one believes the evacuation plans are possible, feasible or will be carried out. They proved to be accurate.

Hume: It sounds like the state will have much to answer for in the investigation coming before Congress as well as the federal government.

Garrett: It appears to be.

But, if you think that conservatie publications are being all nicy nice to the Bush Administration, you haven't been reading the Washington Times. Following are the paper's lead editorials for the past few days:

Tuesday: FEMA Fails it's Core Mission
In the wake of the disastrous initial responses to the Katrina disaster, the self-congratulatory conclusion asserted in the preface of (FEMA's) response plan is particularly disturbing. "The end result is vastly improved coordination among federal, state, local and tribal organizations to help save lives and protect America's communities by increasing the speed, effectiveness and efficiency of incident management." By FEMA's own description of its mission, they failed.

Wednesday: An Inadequate Military Response
Once the disaster occurred on Monday, however, neither the Army nor the National Guard was in a position to make good on its intentions. At a Pentagon briefing this week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was left to explain that relief could not be provided Tuesday and Wednesday because "there was substantial movement [of helicopters and aircraft] away from the hurricane" to prevent their being damaged.

Asked why no helicopters were available to drop food at the Superdome, Gen. Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that "the first priority was to save lives." But people were dying at the Superdome and at the convention center. Why couldn't the military perform both tasks?
The Coast Guard, fowever, performed admirably.

Thursday: More than a Coast Guard

The Coast Guard faced many of the same challenges as other government agencies in responding swiftly to Hurricane Katrina -- and yet it was able to outperform all of them.
For the Coast Guard, there was no quiet before the storm. Its members were busy before the storm hit preparing for deployments and have been working around the clock since. Its service in the hours after Katrina descended on New Orleans has been the one bright spot to an otherwise dismal early government response.