Let me pause in the current two parter about “Horizons and the Roots of Empathy.
Rant mode... on!
Predictions that I wish never came true...
I do wish people would stop talking about the New Orleans prediction in EARTH. For one thing, the levee that I portray breaking was way upstream, not the one separating the city from Lake Pontchatrain. And second, the flooding scenes that you folks remember so vividly were actually set in Houston , not in N.O. Yes (ironically), Houston is the new home of New Orleans, but...
What's weird is that EARTH now has at least thirteen major predictive hits, so far. Some of them technological, some social. Web pages, blogging, independent micro-camera use, subvocal voiced input, privacy wars, worries about human-generated singularities, animal habitat refuges, political activism by associations of low lying countries, accelerated global warming that results in worsening storm seasons, a Patagonia land boom, widespread self-editing of news input, the decline of delivered mail... and now this. (Can any of you think of any others?) Starting to get weird.
Will we also see a "Helvetian War" against secrecy, as the world's people rebel against all the lies and evasion of accountability? If so, it won't be easy. Those with deep secrets won't give them up easily.
In any event, bring on that "Predictions Registry"!
More catastrophe scandal:
* Again, though I have a very jaundiced eye toward Truthout (their partisanship sometimes all-too closely resembles a reverse version of the rabid Clinton-bashing of the nineties), nevertheless, they are often a good source of fresh perspective or useful links. This one asks some especially insightful questions.
* "Before 9/11 the Federal Emergency Management Agency listed the three most likely catastrophic disasters facing America: a terrorist attack on New York, a major earthquake in San Francisco and a hurricane strike on New Orleans. "The New Orleans hurricane scenario," The Houston Chronicle wrote in December 2001, "may be the deadliest of all." It described a potential catastrophe very much like the one now happening. "
* Apparently, disaster management in New Orleans had been privatized, the 'catastrophic hurricane disaster plan' having been handed over to Baton Rouge-based Innovative Emergency Management last year. "IEM, Inc., the Baton Rouge-based emergency management and homeland security consultant, will lead the development of a catastrophic hurricane disaster plan for Southeast Louisiana and the City of New Orleans under a more than half a million dollar contract with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)."
But the details get worse. See
* A correspondent wrote to me: Before the hurricane hit I have read that at least some airlines and Greyhound bus reportedly stopped service, not in the name of safety but the name of profit. No one was paying to enter the city and they could not break even by entering empty and simply flying or driving people out. This move trapped many ticket bearing tourists inside the city and made it even harder for the poor and infirm to leave. I have been unable to verify the details for sure, but have repeatedly encountered these anecdotal reports in a wide variety of cases. If anyone can firmly confirm or deny these reports, I will be grateful.
I've also seen a picture of what might be 200 school buses parked in a flooded lot. they likely had some policies in place that made it illegal to use for that purpose. not sure where that fits into the mix, but it shows that it's not just uncaring outsiders who didn't support. it was folks right in town, locally, who didn't respond. i
personally love the story of the 18 yr old kid who stole a bus and picked up 100 strangers and drove to houston. brilliant.
More links to the great betrayal.
* The crowded revolving door. Joseph Schmitz, Pentagon Inspector General, is quitting to accept a job with The Prince Group, a contractor doing no-bid services in Iraq. (Ask me some time about the depravity of today's "Inspector General" arrangements, which make Danny Kaye look like a professional. I have proposed a piece of legislation that would require just a single paragraph, that could transform the nation's IGs into fierce champions of accountability.)
This was no surprise.
* Back on July 17, the nation's governors, at their summer meeting, voiced deep worry over the way their national guard units have been dragged away from homes, families, jobs... and especially availability for use in emergencies. VA governor (and possibly future president) Mark Warner was especially pointed about this. More than a quarter million have been called up, to participate in an "elective surgery" war. Guard recruiting goals have been missed for 12 straight months.
* Meanwhile, Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Richard Meyers has informed Congress that major combat operations elsewhere in the world, should they prove necessary, would probably be more protracted and produce higher US and foreign civilian casualties, because of overstretched commitments to Iraq. Um duh. Democrats do not notice the "readiness scandal" because of perceptual bias. Republicans do not notice it because of obstinate and increasingly insane loyalty.
Secrecy skyrockets. Government secrecy has reached a historic high, even compared to the Cold War (San Diego Union July 3). Federal departments are classifying documents at a rate of 125 per minute... or two per second... and inventing new kinds of classification, while declassification efforts that peaked under the Clinton Administration have slowed to a crawl. This increase in secrecy has direct costs exceeding $7.2 billion. Not included are recent efforts to obstruct the Freedom of Information Act across a broad front.
And this is defensible... how? Evasion of accountability is a more likely explanation than “terrorism.” The secrets are being kept from us. (Please note that post Cold War analyses have almost universally concluded that Soviet paranoia and excessive secrecy was one of the reasons for the decay, fragility and eventual fall of that evil empire. By all means, let’s copy them!
And yet, the news sometimes offers cause for hope. Billy Graham recently joined Bill & Hillary Clinton onstage for his final revival meeting. The 86 year old evangelist called the former president "a man I love". All right, it doesn't have to go THAT far. But we do need more outreach across the "cultural" divide.
Again, a message to George Soros. Stop everything else you are doing and concentrate on getting 100 prominent and decent old-fashioned American conservatives - one at a time - trapped on an airplane with Bill Clinton for 6 hours. They will arrive at the other end his best friend. THAT is how we’ll get the core group of courageous conservatives who will stand up, at last, and save civilization.