A commenter wrote in yesterday to chide me for neglecting to mention that former NAACP head and former Congressman Kweisi Mfume is running for the Senate along with Michael Steele and Josh Rales. You wouldn’t know it because frankly his campaign has been under water. No one is talking about it, there are no ads on TV and there is nothing in the newspapers.

What gives?

Well, some might recall that Mfume left the NAACP under a cloud of sexual harassment allegations. Apparently the way to get ahead under his adminstration at the old stalwart organization had less to do with your ability to uplift the race and more with your ability to uplift…well, I think you catch my drift.

No one is talking directly about that though either. Look, I want to see another brother in the Senate as much as anyone. And Mfume was a strong, solid leader overall of the NAACP. He’s solid on the issues progressives care about, like Iraq, corporate responsibility and uh, cruelty to chickens.

The fact that Steele is more appealing to Maryland African-Americans right now is very telling and it is bad news for Mfume’s quest. Same goes for Ben Cardin — he’s not generating a ton of excitement in Maryland right now. Unlike Cardin, Mfume has a lot of name recognition though both in and outside of the black community and we could very well see him go up against Steele after the primary. By keeping quiet, he may be able to capitalize on his good rep while avoiding direct criticism of past behavior.

Bill Clinton faced impeachment over lying about a sexual affair. Unwise? Sleazy? Pathetic? Unethical and disturbing? Sure. I agree with Republican friends on this.

Yet, who can look at this timeline of actual events as they unfolded during and after Hurricane Katrina hit vs. where Bush adminstration officials could be found — and not walk away seeing them as criminals. Lazy, carefree criminals who fiddled like Nero while Rome burned.

Officials were begging for help even before the disaster struck and the Bush administration took no significant action for five days. From this timeline, it is clear that anything anyone in his cabinet who says otherwise is lying.

They didn’t know the levees might break — Lie.
They didn’t know how bad the storm would be — Lie.
The states didn’t ask for help — Lie.
They didn’t have enough on-the-ground information — Lie.
They’d never seen or done anything like this before (Hello Well-Coordinated East Asian Tsunami response) — Lie.
They didn’t realize the levees had broken — Lie.

At a minimum, Michael Chertoff and Donald Rumsfeld should be fired immediately. They failed to do fulfill the basics of their responsibilities for Homeland Security and Defense of our nation. Yet this timeline shows how deeply George W. Bush also turned his back on the people he is sworn to lead and protect.

Here’s an excerpt from Mon Aug 29 as rain poured into the Astrodome in New Orleans and the levees had begun to breach…

8PM CDT — RUMSFELD ATTENDS SAN DIEGO PADRES BASEBALL GAME: Rumsfeld “joined Padres President John Moores in the owner’s box…at Petco Park.” [Editor & Publisher]

8PM CDT – GOV. BLANCO AGAIN REQUESTS ASSISTANCE FROM BUSH: “Mr. President, we need your help. We need everything you’ve got.” [Newsweek]

LATE PM – BUSH GOES TO BED WITHOUT ACTING ON BLANCO’S REQUESTS [Newsweek]

Please read Think Progress’ excellent work here. It cuts through all the crap in terms of who asked for what when and who knew what when…

Ever heard this schoolyard chant? No? Well then you’re lucky. Because there isn’t enough racial tension in America due to the immigration debate and Katrina tragedy among other things, CBS is going to bring us a Survivor divided along racial lines. A desperate bid for ratings? Yes. The seeds of our destruction? Yes. Circus Maximus? Yes.

For those of us in the reality-based community, it is refreshing to read this analysis of Bush’s shifting message on Iraq from “progress” to avoiding failure. Other politicians are pointing fingers and saying the administration built up expectations and didn’t fully explain the sacrifices that would be necessary.

Christopher F. Gelpi, a Duke University scholar whose research on public opinion in wartime has been influential in the White House, said Bush has little choice.

“He looks foolish and not credible if he says, ‘We’re making progress in Iraq,’ ” Gelpi said. “I think he probably would like to make that argument, but because that’s not credible given the facts on the ground, this is the fallback. . . . If the only thing you can say is ‘Yes, it’s bad, but it could be worse,’ that really is a last-ditch argument.”

As recently as two weeks ago, Bush was still making the case that things in Iraq are better than they seem. The new Iraqi government “has shown remarkable progress on the political front,” he said on Aug. 7, calling its mere existence “quite a remarkable achievement.”

Hmmm.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a strong supporter of the war, suggested this week that the Bush team has only itself to blame for setting unrealistic expectations.

“One of the biggest mistakes we made was underestimating the size of the task and the sacrifices that would be required,” McCain said. ” ‘Stuff happens,’ ‘mission accomplished,’ ‘last throes,’ ‘a few dead-enders.’ I’m just more familiar with those statements than anyone else because it grieves me so much that we had not told the American people how tough and difficult this task would be.”

I feel your pain, McCain. Sen Lindsay Graham even says “I think we missed by a mile how much it would cost to rebuild Iraq.” Really? I couldn’t tell.

Here’s my favorite passage though (emphasis mine):

“I would say [Bush] was deeply concerned about how many lives are being lost, both American and Iraqi, and how much this is costing the American taxpayer,” said Eric Davis, a Rutgers University professor who was among those invited, who urged Bush to launch a New Deal-style economic program in Iraq. “He would like to see progress sooner rather than later.”

Excuse me, a New-Deal style economic program in Iraq? How about we launch that here — in America? For oh, maybe Katrina victims. Or military veterans? Since when are conservatives so desperate and confused that they advocate for progressive programs? When their mistakes start to catch up with their rhetoric and with reality.

Why is hip hop entrepreneur and emerging progressive leader Russell Simmons supporting Michael Steele over Josh Rales to represent Maryland in the U.S. Senate. Rales has a clear and strong progressive platform. Steele’s recent TV commercial shows off his immense charisma and manages to say nothing about his actual positions. Apparently he is going to “talk straight” in Washington about the things people really care about. That sounds great — and very open to interpretation.

Look, diversity in government is important. Steele would join Barack Obama as the 2nd black senator serving — out of 100. Yet, he is a loyal Republican. These are the same people who abandoned African-Americans during Katrina and continues to hand them short change to re-build their lives in the aftermath. He does not share Simmons’ values. Or mine for that matter. When does race matter more than principle? In my opinion, never.

Next week, look for him to hug some black people who will also express their gratitude for almost drowning them. Sorry, for everything the government hasn’t, excuse me, has done for them since the levees broke.

Looks like this guy is actually a loyal Republican and this “Cindy Sheehan-style” protest was all staged for publicity. Was this guy even in New Orleans after the levees broke? How stoopid do they think we are?

Hat tip: CorrenteWire

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Sen. George Allen likely got his arm twisted by the Bush handlers. Prior to a fundraising event at which they were both scheduled to appear, Allen called S.R. Sidarth to apologize personally for calling him an unfortunate “nickname.” Dubya can’t afford to look racist or to hang out with racists as we near the anniversary of Katrina, it would appear.

Jon Stewart’s black friends love him so much more than Stephen Colbert’s black friends. Wonder why?

I agree with this person. The concept of race has been invented to separate people from one another. The successful domination of power in the United States has always been to control the extent to which poor blacks and poor whites cooperate. Some folks like Pat Buchanan in the Republican party of late have been working hard to convince lower income blacks and whites that illegal immigrants are trying to take their jobs and turn the U.S. into Mexico. It’s just a new update on an old strategy of divide and conquer. When progressives unite, the middle class in America widens its prosperity and the nation’s economy is stronger. This is what the union movement of the 1920s and 30s and the civil rights movement of the 1940s-60s helped to achieve.

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MySpace.com has come under scrutiny for its popularity with pedophiles but I think it is not yet understood widely how much racism and anti-semitism is happening on YouTube. There is a lot of virtual discussion happening on YouTube with white supremacists posting video responses to anti-racist kids and activists working for tolerance.

YouTube seems aware of the problem and while you can search and find over 1300 videos for the keyword “nigger”, someone at YouTube is rapidly blocking those videos with racist intent and allowing those that use “nigger” in the pop culture sense to remain.

White supremacists are finding YouTube a fertile playground however for spreading their message however and are one step ahead of YouTube’s censors. The YouTube community is also having trouble flagging content rapidly enough for YouTube staff to find and filter. White power activists are using coded tags to hide their videos. I love that they are choosing what they think are politically correct or neutral terms such as “racism” or “yt” or “youtube”. A lot of it is still out in the open though. When I searched under “white power”, I found over 500 videos — mostly racist, mostly viewable by anyone and unflagged yet. There is some pretty rough stuff out there too.

Here’s an example. Don’t be fooled by the cute white polar bear. He is coming to get you, nigger. (Warning: violent content)

On Bobby Brown. “Whitney shall be mine!” cried Osama as he pointed out the specially outfitted cave he has prepared for his true love…

Just kidding.

Seriously, 74% of Americans polled in an Opinion Research Poll believe that Bin Laden is planning an attack on the U.S. That seems obvious to me too especially in light of recent attacks, both successful and foiled. The implications of this and the other findings of the poll bear some attention. Are those 74% the same who disapprove of the President’s performance? His approval rating is in the low 30s at this point.

Also, people have become discouraged about our ability to catch Bin Laden — about 58% think it’s possible. And people are unclear how much the war in Iraq has impacted our ability to bring him to justice. So cluelessness still reigns in America — folks are still struggling to sift through all the propaganda and mis-information.

That percentage, however, has dropped from past years; in 2004, 66 percent of poll respondents said it was likely [the U.S. would capture Bin Laden], and in 2001 the figure was 76 percent.

Respondents were nearly evenly split on whether the U.S.-led war in Iraq has hampered the nation’s ability to capture or kill bin Laden.

Forty-seven percent said it was either “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that bin Laden would have been captured or killed had the United States not become involved in the Iraq war. Fifty-one percent said bin Laden would not have been captured by now regardless of the Iraq war.

The Taliban, the allies and protectors of Al-Qaeda, are re-taking Afghanistan. And we’re not doing much about that because most of our troops are in Iraq. Bush just said in his press conference that we will not leave Iraq while he is still president. This in the face of an increasingly aggressive Al-Qaeda threat launching attacks around the world. This president’s priority has never been addressing the real threat presented by those who attacked America. It has been settling old scores. We invaded a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and Bush has yet to fully admit that. Do you feel safer?

According to Matt Stoller of MyDD, Sen. George Allen via his Karl Rove Jr./campaign manager Dick Wadhams has retracted his apology. Frankly it looks to me like Allen AKA “Mr. Macaca” never apologized in any way that seemed sincere or contrite. From the beginning, his first instinct was to apologize for being politically incorrect because he “made up a nickname.” He went on to say that any other “insinuations” were false. Which is a nasty and hostile word to use when apologizing. My favorite part of the original apology is the fact that Allen never refers to the victim of his little “joke” as a fellow Virginian or as a constituent yet chooses to remind us that S.R. Sidarth is still his enemy:

“Even though he has signed onto my opponent’s campaign, I look forward to seeing him on the trail ahead.”

No hard feelings, right monkey man? I mean, sh*thead? That’s just not apologizing. That’s racist. And no person of color was or is fooled. Watch as important voting blocs turn away from Allen and toward Webb this fall. I love it when someone is hoist on his own petard.

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Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times is following Sen. Barack Obama on his trip to Africa. If it weren’t so very important that we be kept up-to-date on what JonBenet Ramsey alleged killer is having for lunch today, maybe this might make the TV network news.

Former Archbishop Desmond Tutu teased Obama about being president one day and Obama shows South African men what a real man is made of and pledged to take an AIDS test in his father’s home village in Kenya. Read Sweet’s column here.

Watch videos of his trip to South Africa here.

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A number of other black blogs are talking about Osama Bin Laden’s crush on Whitney Houston and thoughts of assasinating Bobby Brown. Truth, child, is so much stranger than fiction. Just when you think you know every thing there is to know about Al-Qaeda. Interesting that Osama’s not into big butts since usually that’s a major attraction point that so many men feel women of African descent have to offer! Maybe Osama and Whitney could double-date with George W. Bush and Condi Rice? Who knew Dubya and Bin Laden shared more than a passion for explosives?

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There have been a lot of excuses put forth as to why it took five (5) days for the residents of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast to receive help from the federal government. There were several offered in Spike Lee’s documentary “When the Levees Broke” — something about states rights, not enough information from the ground, inadequate resources, etc. I’m sure we will hear more as the anniversary of the Katrina disaster nears.

Soledad O’Brien, news correspondent, points out in “When the Levees Broke” that it only took 2 days for the U.S. to provide material assistance in remote Banda Aceh in Indonesia in the wake of the December 2005 tsunami. I would posit to you that every word out of every Bush administration official’s mouth after the levees broke was a cold, bald lie. Why?

Read this U.S. Dept of State eJournal account — offered on an official U.S. Government website no less — of the heroic aid that the U.S. Armed Forces and U.S. Government at their best provided to Indonesian tsunami victims. Here are a few excerpts:

Significantly important in the U.S. military support was the availability of almost 60 U.S. helicopters, which flew over 2,200 missions, shuttling relief supplies from U.S. ships and other staging areas to hard-hit towns and villages. U.S. fixed-wing aircraft, mostly C-130 and C-17 cargo aircraft, flew another 1,300 plus missions shuttling much-needed relief supplies and equipment into and throughout the affected regions. In Indonesia, which bore the brunt of the damage, the first fresh water many survivors saw was delivered by U.S. military units that rushed to the region even before the full extent of the damage was known. All told, through mid-February the U.S. military had delivered over 24 million pounds of relief supplies and equipment.

Six Maritime Preposition Ships from Guam and Diego Garcia also were dispatched to the area to provide critical drinking water: each can store about 90,000 gallons of fresh water and is capable of producing 36,000 gallons daily. Adequate fresh water supplies helped prevent widely-predicted, but largely avoided, outbreaks of malaria and other diseases.

American ambassadors in the stricken countries immediately offered financial and technical assistance and called upon U.S. military and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) experts to begin assessing the damage. U.S. ships were given orders to begin deploying to the region within hours of the tragedy—well before the extent of devastation was clear or any government had officially requested their assistance —in order to be there if and when called upon. Within 24 hours, U.S. Navy P-3 Orion reconnaissance aircraft began flying missions over the affected areas to help assist in the search and rescue effort and to assess the extent of the damage. This, despite the fact that U.S. military forces continue to be severely over-extended and many had seen recent duty in Iraq. (The forces, rather than complaining, willingly and eagerly came to the rescue, despite in some cases having their holiday rest and recovery curtailed.)

Let me get this straight — before there was full information and without governmental request, the Bush administration and the military took action! Soldiers on leave from Iraq were enlisted in the effort! But wait there’s more!

Within 48 hours of the tragedy, with news reports still estimating that “20,000 people are feared dead,” the U.S. Pacific Command was already establishing a joint task force to coordinate and conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. Access approval was requested, and quickly obtained, from the Thai government to allow its massive Utapao Air Base to serve as the regional hub for the relief effort. Meanwhile, U.S. defense attaches were arranging overflight and landing rights and making initial contacts to allow U.S. forces, if and when authorized to assist, to more effectively interact with their regional counterparts. As Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz subsequently testified, “the ability of the Department of Defense to respond so quickly would not have been possible without the relationships developed over many years with the militaries of countries in the region, particularly with Thailand.” The joint force (denoting the involvement of more than one military service) quickly became a combined force as other militaries became involved in the coordination effort. The task force also transformed into a non-doctrinal support force.

So apparently Americans in need did not merit this incredible level of coordination, cooperation, organization and resource allocation. It took international shame and national approbation to motivate any action or aid whatsoever, which when it arrived, was less that it should or could have been. The Canadian Mounties arrived in New Orleans before the federal government in the midst of the worst disaster our nation has seen to date. Doesn’t that make you angry. Or concerned.

The BlackProf recommends that folks bring friends and neighbors together around the anniversary of Katrina and host events. That’s a good idea because if there is one thing we should all take from what happened last year and what continues to happen to the victims of Katrina — it’s that the Bush administration and the Republican-controlled Congress have no intention of protecting American citizens. We need to organize in order to bring about some “regime change” that will ensure the safety of all Americans, not just the privileged few. Yet a special mention for Democratic LA Governor Blanco has to be reserved. In what ways could she have done more or acted more decisively? Should she also be held accountable?

As Harry Truman said famously, “The Buck Stops Here.” President Bush himself bears the greatest responsibility for the tragic and needless loss of life during Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath. He ran and hid during 9/11 when the planes first struck our national landmarks and he did the exact same thing during Katrina. When — when will this person be held accountable and why is it not as much of an election rallying cry as Iraq? The Bush adminstration was fully capable of providing significant aid and comfort to American citizens during an hour of dire need immediately — and did not. Everything else they say is simply an insulting lie.

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