The Bonehead Compendium : http://www.boneheadcompendium.com

The Bonehead Compendium

Volume 61

Well, folks, the BHC took a hit for some imprudent comments last week, just the kind we were reviling everyone else about. Touche. Katrina and the government's response to it, of course, is the big story and we have a number of bits about that morass. Bush is bungling elsewhere in the world though, as his cronies continue to exact damage world wide. The King of Sweden is under attack, evolution is in the news, and yes, it's happening now! And a guy named Bill. Don't anyone marry this guy.

The BHC was taken to task by one reader, whose opinion we regard highly, for blithe comments we made regarding the looting that was reported to be taking place in New Orleans:
your apparent assumption that if some people took TVs (or guns or whatever) that they must be part of the cretinous poor who don't know what's good for them (though "we" do). Even if that wasn't your intent and you meant it as lightly sarcastic, I won't be read by everyone that way. It's a potentially politically explosive comment.
We agreed with that assessment. It certainly could have been read that way. And it is easy to sit in comfort and pronounce certain activity irrational, which is all that we were doing. The phrase "low-down citisens brigades" was not meant, in any way, as a derogatory swipe at impoversihed residents looting basic and necessary goods nor even unnecessary and clearly useless items that would not help them in such grave circumstances. The phrase was meant, first and foremost, as a play on the term "upright citisens brigades" and was chosen to describe the very few who were stealing items that were not obviously useful and were using force or threat of force against their fellow stricken citisens to do so. In fact, it turned out that a few or more -- the numbers are in no way clear -- of these people were not poor residents of the swamped city at all but police who, when confronted, felt it appropriate to issue veiled threats to anyone questioning their activities. Those are some of the "low-down" citisens we really had in mind. We did not make that clear.

We wish to apologise to anyone who may have easily misconstrued the intent of the comment and especially to those residents implicated who were merely doing what they could to survive the devastated environs of New Orleans.

Federal Emergency Mismanagement Agency

Now that the situation in New Orleans appears to have settled somewhat, with evacuees having been relocated all over the place, the finger wagging has been ratcheted up a notch or two. Interestingly, Bush supporters themselves have expressed some strong demands that FEMA director Michael Brown be canned, which seems like light punishment for the magnificent and lethal bungling that obviously took place. White House fawner David Brooks even said that he was embarrassed by Bush's performance in this debacle. Well, that took awhile but some of these folks seem to have finally had the right wing wool pulled up from over their eyes. When someone like ubber-crank Michele Malkin is steamed at Bush about his incompetent political crony appointees, something in the Bush camp really is wrong.

But Bush, as usual, remains clueless -- and at this point it seems clear that this is not by choice -- and after he initially said that no one anticipated a breach of the levees, he then chose, not only to defend FEMA's ineptitude, but to tell everyone that "Brownie" had done a "heck of a job." Of course, in George Bush's world, a "heck of a job" does not likely have the same meaning that it would in the world most other people occupy. Because, even after most residents of New Orleans have now been removed from the city, more stories of FEMA's expert hand have been coming to light.

"Hey, fire guy. Can I wear wunna those suits? can ay, can ay?"
It now appears that when presented with some 1400 firefighters and paramedics from around the country and who possessed expertise in search and rescue and hazmat operations, FEMA saw fit to assign this regiment of life-saving men and women to wander around the devastated regions of the south and hand out information fliers to already rescued hurricane victims. But within this frustrating waste of human capital an even more egregious abuse of these good people occurred. As Bush made his way to New Orleans for some priceless footage of him hugging black people, FEMA had 50 of these firefighters flown to Louisiana to walk around with the President while he toured the wreckage:

He he, I always wanted to be fireman. It's hard work. Too damn hard for me, really. But I like those suits. Maybe if I give 'um a hug they'll let me wear one. He he. As you know, I like pretendin'.
Just to highlight the efficacy of FEMA during the worst natural disaster in American history, three students from Duke University drove to New Orleans late in the week , drove into the city to the convention centre and helped evacuate seven people from their atrocious surroundings.
We found it absolutely incredible that the authorities had no way to get there for four or five days, that they didn't go in and help these people, and we made it in a two-wheel-drive Hyundai.
But without a doubt, the most awful example of FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security (and what a cruel joke that now sounds) inability to cope, let alone manage the situation has got to be seen in the Department's impotence in receiving the huge volumes of foreign aid that some 95 countries have on standby. Soon after the flooding and well before anyone at FEMA thought to get the ball rolling, Sweden loaded a C-130 transporter brimming with water purification equipment, generators, and a portable cell phone network. The plane has been on the tarmac since Saturday and has yet to receive clearance from Washington. Netherlands-based New Skies Satellite company were prepared to deliver a "a massive telecommunication system and two technicians" to the disaster area:
FEMA? That was a lost case. We got zero help, and we lost one week trying to get hold of them.
The list goes on. Canada, France, Germany, India, Taiwan, Britain, China, Russia, Spain and Israel all have planes or ships ready to deliver supplies. Some have landed, others are still awaiting a go-ahead. With the gross lack of ability on display, EU officials are now wondering if the goods will ever be used.

It will be interesting to see the White House's response to such good will and FEMA's obvious incapacity to handle it. We can easily imagine Scott McClellan or some other flak claim that those damn Euros offered up all that good will and help just to make us look bad:
The EU was perfectly well aware of our incompetence in handling this entire situation and are, once again, politicizing this disaster with such immediate, generous and copious offers of aid.

Modern Major General

Readers may or may not have heard about a statement from the indubitable model-of-a-modern-Major-General Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, wherein he claimed that he read the papers on Tuesday and discovered that New Orleans had "dodged a bullet."
The headline, of course, in most of the papers on Tuesday — “New Orleans Dodged a Bullet,” or words to that effect. At that time, when those words were in our minds
There appears to have been some transcendental mind meld in the administration because, oddly, these were exactly the same words spoken by Michael Chertoff earlier:
I remember on Tuesday morning picking up newspapers and I saw headlines, 'New Orleans Dodged The Bullet.'
Let us put off consideration of the fact the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the World's Only Superpower is claiming that he learns of cataclysmic events 24 hours after everyone else in the freaking world knew of the biggest national disaster in memory, because we know that just can't be true. The interesting aspect in the above item is that no one can seem to find any headline on Tuesday that said "New Orleans Dodged a Bullet." This is not surprising because by Tuesday morning, New Orleans was under 20 feet of water and had clearly not dodge any bullet. In fact, the only thing dodged by New Orleans was FEMA's help.

Myers is claiming to have had exactly the same mistaken memory as Chertoff. There must be a name for that.

Mmm ... Kool-Aid.

The New Deal

Same as the Old Deal.

With the federal government expecting post-Katrina costs to meet or exceed $100 billion, plans are underway to overhaul the budget and set things right. Kidding.

Senate leader Frist is still expecting to call for a vote on a tabled measure, although its political ramifications at this time could prove even too severe for the Republican leadership to venture down that callous road ... yet. But make no mistake, once the furor dies down, the call to repeal the tax on wealthy estate owners will rear its ugly head soon enough. Once the images of distraught, poor, black Americans cease to appear on the tube, look out:
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist hastily postponed plans to push for a vote on repealing the estate tax, a move that would benefit the wealthiest 1 percent of households but would cost more than $70 billion a year once fully implemented.
But that is not the only fiscal overhaul the GOP has in the offing,
House and Senate leaders are also grappling with their pre-Katrina plan to propose $35 billion in spending cuts over the next five years for entitlement programs like Medicaid, student loans, food stamps and cash welfare payments to low-income families.
We here at the BHC would love to see them try this right now. This country's reaction to such cupidity would be quite a spectacle.

Blessing in Disguise

The controlling meme of the White House has always been loyalty, both to and from cronies. It is a symbiotic relationship and, even in the midst of the New Orleans disaster, makes itself known, sometimes in very subtle ways.

FEMA released a "Donations List" that indicates possible charities to which people might give to help Katrina victims. Now, of all the possible hundreds of charitable organisations they could have listed, FEMA listed only three in the "cash" donations section. Not surprisingly, The American Red Cross is there but the third is a one "Operation Blessing." Sound familiar? probabaly not unless you're a fan of The 700 Club, in which case you might know that Operation Blessing is a Pat Robertson construct. Unfortunately for those who donate money to this less-than up front organisation, there is almost no telling where your kind help may wind up.

In case you missed it recently, Greg Palast's 1999 story about Robertson and Operation Blessing was circulating again after Robertson's bizarre proclamation that Hugo Chavez ought to be assassinated. Operation Blessing makes an appearance when the "charity" was supposedly accepting money for aid in Rwanda:
More interesting is the way the Operation Blessing funds were used in Africa. Through an emotional fundraising drive on his TV station, Robertson raised several million dollars for the tax-free charitable trust. Operation Blessing bought planes to shuttle medical supplies in and out of the refugee camp in Goma, Congo (then Zaire).

But investigative reporter Bill Sizemore of the Virginian Pilot discovered that over a six-month period - except for one medical flight - the planes were used to haul equipment for something called African Development Corporation, a diamond mining operation a long way from Goma. African Development is owned by Pat Robertson.

Did Robertson know about the diversion of the relief planes? According to pilots' records, he actually flew on one plane ferrying equipment to his mines.
With no diamond mines anywhere near New Orleans, it is difficult to know just where cash donations to Operation Blessing will go, but one thing is certain: your federal government is encouraging Americans to give, give, give to Pat Robertson and his less than noble efforts.

Doing Damage

Like many people around the world right now, UN secretary general's special envoy for HIV/Aids in Africa, Stephen Lewis, is not happy with George Bush's deadly health policies. Back in 2003, Bush promised to spend $15 billion on AIDS/HIV prevention in Africa. Well, his administration not only hasn't come close to delivering that and what they have handed over has some rather dogmatic strings attached. Deadly dogmatic strings.

The US has cut funding for condoms across the continent because, as we have so often heard, the White House prefers the abstinence approach to fighting this enormous public health problem. This policy is now jeopardising reductions in infection rates that have been made through national condom distribution programs.

As if often the case with such faith-based thought processes, hypocrisy, once again, makes a leap into the ring. The White House requires that recipient countries denounce prostitution while, of course, the US sports a few legal prostitution zones itself. The real world effects of this requirement is that recipient countries are not allowed to distribute condoms to prostitutes. Of course, in many countries with high rates of HIV infection, getting condoms to prostitutes is one of the most effective ways of reducing infection rates. Brazil has refused $40 million is US aid rather than submit to this asinine position.

Uganda is an excellent example of a successful condom program. The country has seen HIV rates drop from 30% to less than 6% in ten years. The science of public health, like so many other sciences, is being undermined by a religious agenda promoted by the White House. If that isn't theocracy, what is?

This Can't Be Happening

This probably won't surprise most people but researchers at the University of Chicago have announced recent studies that indicate the human brain is still evolving,even those of creationists and proponents of Intelligent Design. The story reports of discussions about chimps and humans splitting "some 5 million to 6 million years ago," genes linked to brain size undergoing "evolution," and talk of microcephalin and abnormal spindle-like microcephaly-associated, just to add some "scientific gobbledegook." Egads! It's all enough to drive a devout creationist mad.

Primary Target

Unhinged religious loon Fred Phelps, minister of the much-reviled but eminently laughable Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, has recently revealed his plan to assassinate the King of Sweden. Now, BHC readers might ask, why kill the king of benign and loveable Sweden? Hey, why not?

Actually, Phelps has a very good reason, or at least it is a reason that he considers good. You see, Sweden is a very permissive society and they tolerate all sorts of heathens and godless gay people. But there are a few countries like that around, so why Sweden particularly? Well, it seems that Sweden is not without its own radical albeit small population of virulent religious whack jobs. Phelps turned his steaming yet Godly wrath toward this quarter of Scandinavia after Swedish minister Åke Green was convicted of inciting hatred of homosexuals for delivering a Phelpsian anti-gay sermon. And now King Gustaf is the target of a religiously-motivated assassination attempt.

Hmmm. Religiously-motivated assassination. Does that sound right? What minister of God would call for such a thing? And no, Pat Robertson doesn't count because, despite his standing as a minister of God, his call for an assassination was not -- so far as we know -- religiously motivated.

Mr. Bill

Bill runs a blog. The blog is called Eject!Eject!Eject!. Bill fancies himself as quite the "social theorist." He has just posted a piece called Tribes wherein he attempts to describe the world of people without attention to race. You see, he breaks down the world into one that comprises people who are like him and people who are not. Bill's world is filled with people who are either "corrupt, ignorant, violent" or "funny, decent, upright, honest and honorable." You might be able to guess which kind of person Bill thinks he is. But Bill does recognise that these two kinds of people come in all shades and sizes. And that is the crux of the theory. It is not a complicated social theory. Breathtaking in its simplicity, really. In fact, it sounds like a social theory George Bush could really wrap his head around.

It is a fanciful world, this one of Bill's. But not too fancy. You see, years ago, Bill "ejected" himself from liberalism, hence the name of his theory-filled blog. But there is one thing Bill will do if you don't happen to agree with how "self-evident" his theory is
I should tell you I own a gun and I know how to use it. I assure you that the pleasure I would take in shooting you would be temporary, minimal, and deeply regretted later.

"Well, I just think it's a bad idea. What's going to happen is they're going to be over there for 10, 15, maybe 20 years"
-Joe Scarborough (R-FL) commenting on military action in Kosovo, 1999.


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