Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 04, 2005

Isn´t This Mass Murder?

by mats (lifted from a comment)

I understand the fact that the poor of the city should have been evacuated ahead of the storm, I do.

I understand the fact that global warming is a disaster to make this disaster forgettable except as first shot over the bow, I do.

I understand the administration was scattered and on vacation and clueless for an eternity before even returning to Washington, I do.

I understand the head of FEMA is a horse's ass, I do.

I understand the roles of race and poverty need once again to be examined, I do.

I understand the whole nutty Republican 'drown the government in a bathtub' routine, I do.

I even understand that there's a difference between looting and shooting at the cops and rescuers, and that made the job of relief and rescue tougher, I do.

But ...

If it's true that the beginning of fixing up of the 17th st canal breech was staged for the cameras, then basically all equipment was removed and work stopped once Bush left ...

And if it's true that food and water were used as props for another Bush photo op, then taken away after he fled the scene ...

And if it's true that supplies were made available at the outskirts of the city from early on, and that FEMA blocked local authorites from accessing them ...

Then isn't this mass murder?

I don't know any other way to ask the question, and much as I've been against what this administration has done from even before they were handed the 2000 election, I must say I'm stunned to see these words on the screen.

And if that question is on the table, then isn't it time - for now - to stop talking about all those other things listed above, and keep repeating only this question until there is an answer?

Posted by b on September 4, 2005 at 18:59 UTC | Permalink


Lets do talk about Murder Ink.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Sep 4 2005 19:09 utc | 1

It is, just like the mass murder committed in Iraq ...

The second link, a German TV clip, is from, Die Tagesschau, the prime German daily news watched on 23.4% of German TV's - this is the prime believable news at least the quality of BBC.

The reporter is in Biloxi and has been for several days. "What happened here today is unbelievable". She tells about how suddenly a bunch of heavy clean up and wreck cleaning equipment came up that has never been seen the days before and started working.
As she says this is in area where there is no need for immediate clean up because nobody is left in that area buit were evacuated to the city.
The presidents caravan with the press pool came by and they had several "good pictures".

Her last sentence:
"The extend of this natural catastrophy had me shocked, but the extend of this (theater) staging today has shocked me at least to the same level."

The second link is about a report that ran in ZDF, the second German Public TV. Unfortunatly I could not find it online. But if they reported it, it is very, very believable. The reach of the news produced by ZDF is around some 20% of German viewers.

Posted by: b | Sep 4 2005 19:16 utc | 2

It would become mass murder, if, instead
of building a new internet network called
HomelessandHurting to track the survivors,
and whether they are compensated and their
lives restored, or whether they are simply
abandoned, once MSM kicks up SuperBowl'05,
we are flogging ourselves at crooksandliars.

There's no point preaching to the choir,
when a congregation is dying on the street.
The RNC doesn't care. We know that. Move On.
Document the lives of *every single person*
who was abandoned and disenfranchised, and
keep that story before the media and blogs,
and include all the 100,000's of permanently
unemployed, the dying GWI veterans that are
being forgotten, the chronically homeless
that wander every US city, all of them.

If we are truly powerful, speaking Truth
to Power, bubble-up, in-the-streets, blogs,
then we ought to be able to interview them
all and post their stories on a network,
and track their stories until they get the
aid and reconstruction their taxes paid for.

Then when 2006 elections roll around, link
personal ads to that US Homeless Roll Call.
Posters on every building and utility pole.
MSM will be Paid Political Advertisements,
talking heads, balloons and party hats.

The entire world is watching. The entire
world is appalled, sickened and disgusted.
Now it's our job to make sure the invisible
people don't become the forgotten people.

Posted by: tante aime | Sep 4 2005 19:32 utc | 3

I'd personally like to thank Colonel Oliver North and General Richard Secord for THE MOST POWERFUL ORGANIZATION IN THE UNITED STATES, FEMA.

Three times since 1984, FEMA stood on the threshold of taking control of the nation. Once under President Reagan in 1984, and twice under President Bush in 1990 and 1992. But under those three scenarios, there was not a sufficient crisis to warrant risking martial law. Most experts on the subject of FEMA and Martial Law insisted that a crisis has to appear dangerous enough for the people of the United States before they would tolerate or accept complete government takeover. The typical crisis needed would be threat of imminent nuclear war, rioting in several U.S. cites simultaneously, a series of national disasters that affect widespread danger to the populous, massive terrorist attacks, a depression in which tens of millions are unemployed and without financial resources, or a major environmental disaster.

(Editorial comment - as you can see by the comments below, this was a very, very unintended long post, so I edited this comment and placed the link and quote. b.)

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Sep 4 2005 19:37 utc | 4

@Uncle $cam - thanks for the info - I really really value your comments here, but please link such stuff instead of mega long copys - thanks a lot - and please no bad thoughts.

Posted by: b | Sep 4 2005 19:45 utc | 5

Sorry b, I didn't realize that would be so long.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Sep 4 2005 19:51 utc | 6

You know, I remember a few years ago when Clinton was touring in the South, taking flak from the Jim Crow crackers about all the defense cutbacks and base reductions, that were actually initiated by Bush Sr to try and pull his tanking economy out of a death spiral.

And I remember some Southern Senators saying that Clinton had better be careful where he went in the South, if he didn't want to catch a bullet.

And now I'm watching Chertof, and wondering where Rove is hiding, and Bush smirking, I'm wondering where Cheney is hiding, and Condi in her brand new $3,000 pair of shoes, and you know, if we weren't locked down under Patriot Act II, and knowing the Secret Service (SS) is monitoring every blog, and Rumsfeld has a secret black ops budget for his assassins and disappearers, then I might say that George and the Senators had better be careful where they go in the South, if ....

Posted by: lash marks | Sep 4 2005 19:58 utc | 7

An Angry 'Times-Picayune' Calls for Firing of FEMA Chief and Others in pen Letter to President On Sunday

Every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be fired, Director Michael Brown especially.

In a nationally televised interview Thursday night, he said his agency hadn’t known until that day that thousands of storm victims were stranded at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. He gave another nationally televised interview the next morning and said, "We’ve provided food to the people at the Convention Center so that they’ve gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day."

Lies don’t get more bald-faced than that, Mr. President.

Yet, when you met with Mr. Brown Friday morning, you told him, "You’re doing a heck of a job."

That’s unbelievable.

Posted by: b | Sep 4 2005 20:05 utc | 8

No, it is not mass murder, it is economic urban cleansing.

Posted by: eftsoons | Sep 4 2005 20:08 utc | 9

As far as I can see, all the concern about the impact of FEMA as an agent of govt. control is grossly misplaced since FEMA has shown itself to be horrifically incompetent, criminally political, and certainly in need of examination to investigate their poor performance.

I haven't been able to understand how camera crews and reporters were able to get into the area but FEMA supplies could not.

As far as it goes, I don't understand why the media people didn't just say fuck FEMA and ask people to contribute water, etc. at various places and let different media outlets, via helicopter, bring in the supplies that FEMA was too evil or incompetent (or both) to do themselves. Or why buses from surrounding states could not simply run down the FEMA check point..let them try to stop someone with the cameras running.

What does chain of command or area of responsibility matter when people are dying and someone has access to the people in the area?!?!? Why didn't the camera crews go out and film the buses being turned back or stopped, if this was true?

If these allegations about the Bush photo op and food is true, something that I find hard to believe, even for someone as blatantly evil and uncaring as Bush, then the media is criminally complicit if they do not make sure this issue is known.

People should give sworn testimony now, in order to save for the investigation to come, and any and all photographic/video evidence should be copied and put in at least two safe places.

If this is not the tipping point for the Bush junta... when oh when is enough fucking enough?!?!?

Posted by: fauxreal | Sep 4 2005 20:25 utc | 10

And just one paranoid question:

in the event of a nuclear attack, how many days would need to pass before it would be considered minimally safe for rescue workers (in protective clothing, certainly) to be able to go into a city?

Is there some group that has made a speculation on this issue and published it?

Posted by: fauxreal | Sep 4 2005 20:30 utc | 11

I have finally found the link to the German TV piece mentioned in the third link in the above post. It is here (for me it only works with IE and madia player).

You will recognize that the pictures shown are more serious that US pictures. A lady going into a diabetes sugar shock at the convention center, dead people etc.

The "stand up" report from a German reporter on the ground in Biloxi starts at 03:16 into the clip.

She says that there came people and machines in to clean up the presidents route through Biloxi and left two hours after the president and press cars passed by.

Again this is a serious and very reputable newsshow. It is a different report and reporter than the other also very reputable German newsshow, linked in the above post.

They report that cleanup crews, search and rescue crew, and equipment came in specifically to the presidents route, that there was now immediate need for the crews there, that there had been now crews before and the the crews left after the president left.

Posted by: b | Sep 4 2005 20:54 utc | 12

FEMA was VERY effective -- at keeping relief out of the city. This has been observed again and again and again.

Posted by: eftsoons | Sep 4 2005 21:15 utc | 13

Our government has ceased to be a government, and has instead become a corporate "facilitator". It has shorn itself from any public responsability or morality or even civility in to most elementry sense. Its "soul" purpose now is to act only in the capital interest of its elite shareholders. Morality and ethics are determined only by the legal perimeters which they define as in the "interests" of the "nation". The Iraq war and the hurricane Katrina only serve to illustrate how far down the road we have come, and beyond the obvious violations of morality, and so within their radicalness, fissures in the veneer will often appear -- when the blatent and glaring contradiction of the product being sold is seen with crystal clarity, as being fraudulent. Unfortunatly for the administration, their project of selling people their own demise, requires a major and risky advertising adventure that must continually be ratcheted up to contain ever greater lies. So as we see, in mats post, they must now create illusions of benevolence within a disaster, that mask, so obviously, their predictable corporate mentality, of opportunistic seizure of wealth without accountabliity. Short of armed insurrection, or an epiphony within the press, or some miracle of renewed political representation, what we are left with is to channel our anger ( within these fissures between product and advertising) into a culturally derived stake aimed at the heart of the beast -- its credibility -- because an illusion of america, is not america.

Posted by: anna missed | Sep 4 2005 21:22 utc | 14

Short of armed insurrection, or an epiphony within the press, or some miracle of renewed political representation, what we are left with is to channel our anger ( within these fissures between product and advertising) into a culturally derived stake aimed at the heart of the beast -- its credibility -- because an illusion of america, is not america.

Posted by: anna missed | Sep 4, 2005 5:22:47 PM | #

aanna missed - i am trying in these hours in these hours of hours amongst the song of songs to create with all my talent & all my years that culturally derived stake - aimed directly at the heart of the beast

noisette's offering of brecht reminded me he has never been more apt & never has art had this the profoundest of responsibilities to speak of the dark times

as i have said it is so difficult - the questioning, the interrogation & the doubt that are necessary to create that stake are also the very same in form as the questioning interrrogations & doubt that are able to overwhelm us in melancholy - to surrender to the impotent witnesses the rulers want

in this last year - as an artist i have never felt that war so clearly in my body - what is left of the brain is torn apart by ever increasing obscenities

& i am reminded again of how old bertolt understood it - in his play arturo ui - he could not have drawn a character so close to the cheney bush junta

the elegies o brecht for germany could now be written of america - the pulse of his attack has not lost its ferocity

but this ferocity as an artist has a cost if that artist is not connected to the community - it can easily become sekf destructive & for me personally - it is an ongoing war beyween fighting for hope & losing out to my melancholy

i feel that melancholy in many pf us here - in some ways it is just a form of astonishment in relation to what we are witnessing & its worst aspect that these rulers seem to profit more & more from the chaos & it is the people who absorb & carry the actual & symbolic weight of the horror of events

i hope each of us in our way accululatively can create & carry that stake to the beast

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Sep 4 2005 22:44 utc | 15

in the event of a nuclear attack, how many days would need to pass before it would be considered minimally safe for rescue workers (in protective clothing, certainly) to be able to go into a city?

Who would be allowed OUT of a city after a nuclear or biological attack? There are reasons for Homeland Security to be interested in how to contain and blockade an urban area. There are justifications that could be made for such an exercise.

Posted by: eftsoons | Sep 4 2005 23:11 utc | 16

I guess Mass Murder is a hard conclusion to avoid. Here's a link from the Horse's Mouth - the Dir. of the Nat'l Hurricane Center - on how thoroughly FEMA was briefed well in advance on what would happen:

Dr. Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center, said
Sunday that officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, including FEMA Director Mike Brown and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, listened in on electronic briefings given by his staff in advance of Hurricane Katrina slamming Louisiana and Mississippi and were advised of the storm’s potential deadly effects.

Mayfield said the strength of the storm and the potential disaster it could bring were made clear during both the briefings and in formal advisories, which warned of a storm surge capable of overtopping levees in New Orleans and winds strong enough to blow out windows of high-rise buildings. He said the briefings included information on expected wind speed, storm surge, rainfall and the potential for tornados to accompany the storm as it came ashore.

“We were briefing them way before landfall,” Mayfield said. “It’s not like this was a surprise. We had in the advisories that the levee could be topped.

“I keep looking back to see if there was anything else we could have done, and I just don’t know what it would be,” he said.

Chertoff told reporters Saturday that government officials had not expected the damaging combination of a powerful hurricane levee breaches that flooded New Orleans.


Posted by: jj | Sep 4 2005 23:41 utc | 17

It appears that someone very belatedly has gotten something in gear. Fairly heavy military traffic southbound on I-81 since noon Sunday. I am located near Harrisonburg, VA.

I am approximately 1000 miles NE of NO. First trucks should arrive there about 2-3pm Monday. Troops involved must have been airlifted.

Posted by: Belle Boyd | Sep 4 2005 23:59 utc | 18

Anna missed,

(within these fissures between product and advertising)beautifully captures the space that people work within today. A dessicated polity (across the neoliberal world)opens up gaps where individuals can articulate and practice alternative forms of political representation. The WSF is but a salient example of Raymond Williams' greatest insight:

'however dominant a social system may be, the very meaning of its domination involves a limitation of selection of the activities it covers, so that by definition it cannot exhaust all social experience, which therefore always potentially contains space for alternative acts and alternative intentions which are not yet ar-ticulated as a social institution or even project.'

Neoliberalism 'dominates'with only the thinnest of crust covering the reality of its rule and this crust split in the Gulf State last week. As many here and elsehwere have said, our institutions are geared mainly for surveillance and repression--a focus which is itself a sure sign of structural weakness.


I think in your artistic mind your are becoming too senisitive. It will hamper the good work that you do and the spirit of resistance and hope in the writings of yours of which I am familiar. I think Brecht knew much worse times. We live, as anna missed says in a hyperreality (most of the time). The original copy surfaced last week in the US. We we see the governemment go into overdrive (with halliburton) to reconstruct the mask; they know now that this is serious (for them) and the Straussian confidence that the people can be lulled into stupifaction has been broken; and the media unintentionally give people the world over pause to relect upon their own reality and how tenous the illusion is. The fissures will only widen, and the repaired mask will begin to look as hideous as the disfigurements it tries to hide.

Posted by: theodor | Sep 5 2005 0:35 utc | 19


i know you are right - fundamentally correct - but i am not so sure of the dark times. i work here with hundreds of people a week intimately in extremely dark situations from unemployment to rape, to torture exile - in fact the whole panopoly of what capital by its very nature creates. it is extremely dark & i have chosen this work - fundamentally because marxism - gave me light -taught me that we are not alone - & brought to me - an irrevocable humanity

but it is that humanity - that this day threatens to - create what you might call perhaps a hypersensitivity. that is to work wel with people - i absorb their histories & hopefully hiver thems some keys for transformation - but the residue of what is wrong in this world rests heavy in me

as a writer i have always used & absorbed what is happening poliically - personally, locally, nationally & internationally. at this time the weight of historic forces personaly & politically are an enormous

i'm not crying the tears of an indivudual - at least i hope not - but there are contingent realities - which even to us marxists matter - you have a family of your own you love - which is a primary consideration & it is this consideration which can protect as you protect it. & that protection is noble

my family is that community & i imagine it has always been so & you are right to articulate that - there is a genuine pessimism of what passes here for the leftist project - & you are right to indicate with the citation with the citation of williams that there is a space for those that resist even under the most terrible conditions but sometimes i feel the bejaminian melancholy pass through me like waves.

it is not to make melodramatic - what i sense & feel as an artist & activist but to say i understand deeply walter benjamin's interrogation at port bou - wondering whether to go on & there is some argument - that his escape was stilll possible. in his correspondances - which i am using for the work this year (& perhaps that is its effect) you can palpablly feel the fatigue pulling him apart while at the sam time one feels him also constructing z future if not for him - then for others - one can feel it especially in the letters between him adorno & horkheimer

that is all that i am saying in a way the weight of seeing too much makes you sometime wish for blindness

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Sep 5 2005 1:07 utc | 20


I feel as you do. As an artist I have been literally sucked into the intensity of our country's experience since the invasion of Iraq, but I have felt paralyzed. Right now I think I will be able to move forward into this wounded world.

I also agree with theodor that the exposure now will effect some reaction and that the illusion is demolished.

None of this matters to the senses of the artist as he is designed to experience life with a knowing and ultra sensitive makeup. Good or bad, I believe the artist always feels the same malaise. It is outside of events in the material dimension. There is an emotional burden, it seems, since the artist feels things in a larger than ordinary realm and must resonate with the collective to do his work. The best thing to do is not indulge too much in this feeling body for personal reasons but to try and divert the force into masterpieces.

Posted by: jm | Sep 5 2005 3:25 utc | 21

Just Wondering

From: Z
To: GI Special
Sent: September 04, 2005 5:47 PM
Subject: just wondering

Who killed more Americans, Osama and his gang through criminal attack or Dubya and his gang through criminal neglect?

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Sep 5 2005 4:05 utc | 22


i hope each of us in our way accululatively can create & carry that stake to the beast.

A little antidote.
There is this road on the island I live on. A well traveled road for the island, two lane blacktop. And just after a four way stop, before any speed can gained, you go under a large tree tree that hangs over the road, its branches no more than twelve feet overhead. When the war in Iraq started, I noticed this little sign had appeared hanging from a low branch over the road. The sign was only about 8 inches square, but because of its location, it could still be read, and it simply said "US Deaths in Iraq... 32". Now since that time, over two and a half years ago, the number on that sign has changed with each new casuality, which means I guess, whoever put that sign up in the first place, must drag a ladder onto the highway, presumably in the dead of night, and climb up that ladder and change that number on that little sign -- every fucking night for the last one thousand nights. It may not be a great idea, an inspired idea, and certainly not a big idea, but there it is in its little way, hanging there with a relentless vengence.

Posted by: anna missed | Sep 5 2005 6:06 utc | 23

anna m....that struck a deep chord.

Something about subtlety, grace, and hope.

Thank you.

Posted by: jm | Sep 5 2005 6:15 utc | 24

It is amazing to me how much of the left, including Billmon, is ignorning an important story of folks in the US who face imprisonment for peacefully trying to stop the real mass murder of the Iraq invasion before it started. The St. Patricks Four poured half a cup of their own blood on a recruiter's flag in protest days before the invasion, waited around until the police came, and are now facing up to 6 six years in prison.

Their story seems to be invisible to the folks who support the safer and easier issues like Cindy Sheehan or Bush's ineptitude with respect to Katrina.

If you care about real activists who really need your help, please go to the website (, read about them, sign the letter of support, and try to get bloggers to carry the story. Their trial is on the 19th of September.

Posted by: dqj | Sep 5 2005 19:29 utc | 25

to state "Their story seems to be invisible to the folks who support the safer and easier issues" is in my opinion a poor way to raise awareness about this important story.

Generally it pays to start with the assumption that people you like to influence are not ignoring what you would like them to be aware of because of cowardice or laziness but because of ignorance. At least that is my experience.

Posted by: A swedish kind of death | Sep 11 2005 0:00 utc | 26

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