WaPo Forced to Retract Disaster Story Based on White House Disinformation Intended to Smear Gov. Blanco

Why hasn’t the MSM learned to fact-check stories they get from Karl Rove?

From Talking Points Memo:

Earlier today we noted that in today’s papers the Post passed on a claim from a “senior Bush official” that “as of Saturday [i.e.,Sept.4], [Gov.]Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency.”

As TPM — and probably half the blogosphere — pointed out, there is voluminous information in the public record showing this to be demonstrably false.

The Post just ran this correction …

A Sept. 4 article on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina incorrectly said that Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) had not declared a state of emergency. She declared an emergency on Aug. 26.

Good for them for correcting the record. But are they going to be taking more blind quotes from this senior official who got them to pass on misinformation to their readers?

And one other point: for all the truly foolish chattering about anonymous sources and blind quotes a few months ago, this is a terrific example of the worst sort of anonymous sourcing. This claim by the administration official was obviously meant to place blame on Gov. Blanco…

But in this case, this is a straightforward factual assertion. What you do in such a case is find out whether it’s true or not. If it is, you don’t need to source it to your tipster. You run it as a fact. What you don’t do is take an interested party’s say-so on an easily verifiable claim and run it as a blind quote.

Of Condi’s Shoes and Bush’s Numbers

The Condi Buying Shoes thing demonstrated something about this administration. The people in it aren’t the cream of the crop. These are folks who would not rise very far in life, were it not for their strange connections and the Bush family capacity to recycle people from previous circumstances. We already know about Dick Wyoming MIA Cheney’s past as an abject failure until he hooked up with the Bushes. And FEMA Director Mike Brown couldn’t even run a frickin’ horse association well enough to keep the job.

The nation becomes divided not simply along partisan grounds, but between those who want the occupant removed from office and those who are just disgusted.

But think about it: Condi is the perfect call center operator, the perfect fast food worker who really doesn’t give a shit and makes that plain. She’s going to provide exactly as much service as required, and that’s it, she’s outta here. See ya, wouldn’t want to be ya.

An editorial in the Gainesville Sun makes an additional point.

The president has never learned the importance of being a totally Public Man.

…Although the news from Iraq gets most of the blame, it is not the only cause of Bush’s falling numbers. Instead, Bush, like Bill Clinton before him, has allowed his sense of entitled privacy to overwhelm his awareness of public responsibility. Both failed to grasp that as presidents, they are first and foremost Public Men. By ignoring this vital role, they compromised their administrations and sowed the seeds for their fall. […]

Rightwing Pundits Finally Notice That Their Emporer Has No Clothes

Despite the fact that millions of cable news viewers witnessed the Bush Administration’s abysmal performance in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the White House political team will soon begin a full-court press to rewrite the reality of what happened – and what didn’t – in New Orleans last week.

One way they’ll try to turn public opinion around is by smearing the news coverage as being relentlessly negative – a product of liberal bias. But they may have a harder time deploying this tactic this time than they usually do because several of their most reliably Rovable pundits have themselves gone off the reservation this time.

On Friday, New York Times rightwing columnist David Brooks cracked up over his disillusionment with the president on the News Hour:

[It] is a national humiliation to see bodies floating in a river for five days in a major American city … [People] feel lousy; people feel ashamed and part of that is because of the public presentation. In part that is because of the failure of Bush to understand immediately the shame people felt … Sitting up there on the airplane and looking out the window was terrible. And the three days of doing nothing, really, on Bush was terrible. And even today, I found myself, as you know, I support his politics quite often … [This] is how Mark Shields must feel looking at him, I’m angry at the guy and maybe it will pass for me. But a lot of people and a lot of Republicans are furious right now.

Former Gingrichite congressman from Florida Joe Scarborough, who hosts an hourlong, O’Reilly-lite show on MSNBC, went off book , calling the situation in the Gulf Coast region “nothing short of a national disgrace.”


Jeb’s ‘Shared Sacrifice’ – New Hybrid SUV

The Bradenton Herald:

Less than 24 hours after urging Floridians to turn up thermostats and curtail gasoline use in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Gov. Jeb Bush rode Friday in a white Ford Escape Hybrid…

“It’s kind of hard to be arguing to conserve gasoline when you’re driving around in a Ford Expedition that guzzles it down at a 6- to 8-mile-per-gallon clip,” Bush said after arriving at a northeast Tallahassee Mormon Church where hurricane evacuees were staying…

“This baby outside . . . makes more sense,” Bush said.

…Bush ordered state facilities to raise their thermostats to 78 degrees and take other energy saving measures. He asked all Floridians to do the same as part of a “shared sacrifice.”

Success! Arabian Horses Presumably Safe

If you don’t agree with Georgie that Brownie did a heckuva job in New Orleans, think again:

“He’s done a hell of a job, because I’m not aware of any Arabian horses being killed in this storm,” said Kate Hale, former Miami-Dade emergency management chief who oversaw emergency response during Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

The Miami Herald published more on the amazingly inappropriate background of FEMA Director Mike Brown today.

Boycott ExxonMobil

[Photo is of an oil well leaking near Port Fouchon, 100 miles southeast of New Orleans and was taken by Scott Saltzman/Bloomberg News]

A coalition of environmental groups is asking us to boycott ExxonMobil, and when you find out all the reasons why, you’ll say, “My pleasure!”

The campaign, called Exxpose Exxon, is targeting the ugly giant because of greed so huge that it blocks out the sun. From a Sierra Club mailing:

Exxon is leading lobbying efforts in Washington D.C to open the pristine Arctic Refuge in Alaska for drilling…after more than a decade, Exxon has still not yet fully paid for the extreme damage that resulted from the Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William sound…and while you and I are being gouged at the gas pump, Exxon is reaping record high profits…over $25.3 billion in 2004…money that is paying for junk science designed to stop and stall action on global warming.

Whew. I’m convinced. But just in case you’re not, guess who Bush awarded the oil to that he’s releasing from the emergency reserves?

New York Times

The Bush administration said it approved a loan of six million barrels from the emergency reserve to Exxon Mobil, and another one million barrels to Placid Refining. A third company, Valero, will receive 1.5 million barrels.

I smell a rat. An oily rat. […]

Message from Katrina to America: Wetlands Matter

The Gainesville Sun examines a critical factor in what happened to New Orleans.

You can call what happened to New Orleans “devastating,” “unprecedented,” “calamitous” and “profoundly disturbing.”

What you cannot call it is “unpredictable.”

…Neither, strictly speaking, can you call what happened to that “city in a bowl” a “natural disaster.” While it’s true that Katrina was a monstrous hurricane, the damage she wrought was equally “man-made.”

…Message from Katrina to America: Wetlands matter.

…But the wetlands of Louisiana’s southeast coast are an endangered species. Because of extensive alterations to the Mississippi River and poorly planned coastal development, Louisiana has been losing 25 square miles of wetlands a year.

…”Because of continuing land loss, many of coastal Louisiana’s populated areas, including New Orleans, are almost completely exposed to the Gulf of Mexico,” Valsin A. Marmillion, spokesman for America’s Wetland: Campaign to Save Coastal Louisiana, said this week.

“The sad irony of the situation is that the Mississippi River levees, which were intended to protect lives in the 1930s have had the unintended consequence of laying waste to the very wetlands that are the state’s greatest natural protection,” he said.


‘Why Did It Happen? Who Needs To Be Fired?’

Bayou Buzz has the transcript of the stirring appearance by the president of Jefferson Parish, La. on Meet the Press today.

MR. RUSSERT: And we are back. Jefferson Parish President Broussard, let me start with you. You just heard the director of Homeland Security’s explanation of what has happened this last week. What is your reaction?

MR. AARON BROUSSARD: We have been abandoned by our own country. Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst storms ever to hit an American coast, but the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history. I am personally asking our bipartisan congressional delegation here in Louisiana to immediately begin congressional hearings to find out just what happened here. Why did it happen? Who needs to be fired? And believe me, they need to be fired right away, because we still have weeks to go in this tragedy. We have months to go. We have years to go. And whoever is at the top of this totem pole, that totem pole needs to be chain-sawed off and we’ve got to start with some new leadership.

It’s not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here. Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area, and bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now. It’s so obvious. FEMA needs more congressional funding. It needs more presidential support. It needs to be a Cabinet-level director. It needs to be an independent agency that will be able to fulfill its mission to work in partnership with state and local governments around America. FEMA needs to be empowered to do the things it was created to do. It needs to come somewhere, like New Orleans, with all of its force immediately, without red tape, without bureaucracy, act immediately with common sense and leadership, and save lives. Forget about the property. We can rebuild the property. It’s got to be able to come in and save lives.

We need strong leadership at the top of America right now in order to accomplish this and to…reconstructing FEMA.

MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Broussard, let me ask–I want to ask–should…

Bush Recalled to National Guard

If only this were true:

A White House already reeling from a “God awful” federal response to Hurricane Katrina, chaos in Iraq, and plummeting poll numbers received another blow today when President Bush was ordered to report to Montgomery, Alabama, immediately to resume his incomplete National Guard service.

The Guard, facing a crisis of its own due to over-deployment and under-enlistment, is scouring its records to identify former guardsmen with dubious service histories so they can be pressed back into duty. The move was necessitated when the guard was asked to deploy massive aid to hurricane-stricken regions and discovered that the “cupboard was bare.”

A Lethal Lack of Empathy and Competence

“It would be one thing if President Bush and his inner circle – Dick Cheney was vacationing in Wyoming; Condi Rice was shoe shopping at Ferragamo’s on Fifth Avenue and attended “Spamalot” before bloggers chased her back to Washington; and Andy Card was off in Maine – lacked empathy but could get the job done. But it is a chilling lack of empathy combined with a stunning lack of efficiency that could make this administration implode.

“When the president and vice president rashly shook off our allies and our respect for international law to pursue a war built on lies, when they sanctioned torture, they shook the faith of the world in American ideals.

“When they were deaf for so long to the horrific misery and cries for help of the victims in New Orleans – most of them poor and black, like those stuck at the back of the evacuation line yesterday while 700 guests and employees of the Hyatt Hotel were bused out first – they shook the faith of all Americans in American ideals. And made us ashamed.

“Who are we if we can’t take care of our own?”

Maureen Dowd