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I keep seeing discussion about the "strategy" Dems and progressives should be adopting in re the Katrina/FEMA/BushCo disaster. The problem is, you won't get the right answer because you're not asking the right question.

The question is, What are the strategies we should be using?

On the one hand, some people are griping because Dr. Dean and leading Dems in government are not holding press conferences, demanding impeachment, or pushing for investigations. Others claim that doing those things would actually take the heat off the BushCo crowd by "politicizing" the tragedy. Finally, still others respond that it's not right to let this administration off the hook, yet again. And through it all, we continue to be concerned and agitated about the people who need help actually getting it.

The answer is found in all of these comments, and it is simple: a multi-pronged, multi-level strategy. What you do depends on who you are and where you are.

1. Everyone, everywhere. Find a way to help: donate money, donate supplies, open your home. whatever you can do. I read more than one poll yesterday where 40% or more had yet to do anything. If we care as much as we say we care, the donation rate among Dems and progressives must be 100%.

2. Everyday folks, inside the disaster: Share your stories, good and bad. All that is needed is the truth. If, as Haley Barbour said, the situation on the ground in Mississippi is much better than NO, we should hear that. If you were at a checkpoint and they turned away relief supplies, we should know that, too. There is nothing more powerful than first-person. (I started to put something like "Take care of yourself" at the top of this section, but everything I wrote sounded trite. In no way do I mean to imply that people affected by this tragedy should first think of politics; their first task, and our first wish, is for them to be safe and cared for. But, the country still needs to hear from them, especially if there is beginning to be a media blackout.)

3. Everyday folks, outside the disaster: Continue to raise hell. Write LTEs, contact your reps. Be direct, be concise, be respectful, but also be up front about your anger and disgust. Be sure to ask your reps, when are THEY going to speak out? As one state senator told me, "I've often wanted to speak out, but based on the lack of communications from my constitutients, I figured no one had my back." Let them know we have their back.

4. Mid-level politicians: Keep the buzz growing. Begin to call for action, change, investigations. When interviewed, raise the tough questions. Start some buzz in the halls of power, even with your Repub counterparts. Focus on "competence" and "lack of national security." And, be sure to ask the local leaders in the areas you represent, how well are WE prepared, and how do we feel about counting on FEMA after this?

5. Top-level politicians: Wait for the moment, then strike. Focus for now on the relief effort, and be quiet for now on the political ramifications. Give the nation's anger a little more time to build. Hold back, hold on, hold it, hold it -- then in one large, joint press conference (I can see Reid, Pelosi, Nagin, Blanco, and about twenty more), call for the resignation of Chertoff and Brown, and the censure of the President by Congress. List the reasons (should be a fairly hard-hitting list) and have a handout with sourcing and documentation.

If this builds like I think it might, and if we follow the steps above, it could be a political Perfect Storm. I think (without any first-hand knowledge) that something like this is what has kept the Reids of the world quiet for now. They can't make a big play until they feel that the national political will is ready to be moved in that direction. That preparation work is up to us, and to the mid-level pols.

So, keep up the groundswell, and let's hope that when the mayors and governors and back-seat/middle-seat congressfolk give their statements to the media, that along with the "here's what we're doing" and "here's what you can do" parts, they also have a "Why?" part, definitely an "I'm concerned for what this lack of federal competence means for our community/state/region" part, and maybe even an "I'm angry and I want action" moment as well.

Picture a pyramid. The people at the point can't take action until the base is wide enough and the middle has followed. Keep making the base bigger, and start trying to get the middle to follow -- that's our tasks for the next few weeks.

Originally posted to Bruce in Louisville on Mon Sep 05, 2005 at 08:01 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  good analysis (none)
    I hope you are right in your view of the Dem leadership waiting for the right moment, when the groundswell of anger becomes unstoppable.

    Recommended

    don't always believe what you think...

    by claude on Mon Sep 05, 2005 at 08:10:49 AM PDT

    •  learn this (none)
      I am getting comments to stop spamming this story on all boards, but it's critical for a jumping off point in arguing the spin that Blanco and Nagin are to blame for not asking for help and coordinating assistance according to protocol (what bullshit!)

      Counter all the bullshit and read this diary:

      http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/9/5/63720/67555

      I include links to the full text of the National Response Plan.

      http://www.dhs.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/NRP_FullText.pdf

      Memorize Page 43-44 like your life depends on it.

      Basic gist:

      In times of catastrophe when local and state resources are overwhelmed - the feds are to step in immediately.

      First order of business: save lives and protect infrastructure.

      The protocol of coordinating with state and local governments should not delay the deployment of federal resources.

      This the Katrina August 6th PDB.  Learn this, memorize this and spread it around PRONTO!

      •  I recommended your diary (none)
        But, I can't recommend your method of promoting it everywhere, particularly now that you clearly are affirmatively choosing this approach.

        All that said, I continue to believe your intentions are good and your suggestion worthwhile.

        My objection lies in the way you have knowingly abused the system.  Please consider what the quality of this site would be if many people took your approach.

        Peace.

        Let's get serious about renewables and efficiency. It's time to Win the Oil Endgame.

        by by foot on Mon Sep 05, 2005 at 08:21:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Good Job (none)
    we need to act, chill on the analysis for a while, try to overcome the grief, and behave strategically.

    There are other long term things needed, like making sure all these displaced people have the right to vote and no fucking around because thier current address can't be verified underwater.  It's like each of us should adopt 10 people and do the work with them to help this out.

    A censor of the President is good to pave the way for a 2006 takeover and further impeachment proceedings.

    If we don't do what you suggest, these guys will get the medal of freedom.

    sign the petition at http://www.impeachbush.org

    by DrKate on Mon Sep 05, 2005 at 08:12:39 AM PDT

  •  Zero Tolerance (none)
    Part of the rage...let's take back "zero tolerance". While Bush was saying there would be "zero tolerance" for looting (not even a looted drink of water for old women dying in their wheelchairs)...let's have a zero tolerance of our own:

    • Zero tolerance of the corruption, incompetence, and outright ignorance that drowned a city.

    • Zero tolerance of Bush's bullshit cranking. People are dead and dying. Stop it.

    • Zero tolerance of a he-said-she-said, blow-dried, meat-puppet, live-in-Aruba, Limbaugh-brained excuse for a press.

    How to fight the anti-press? I don't know. Boycotting, letters, emails? People still watch. How about a strike force?  
    • Whenever an idiot reporter appears with cameras on the street, flash-crowd to chant "MEAT PUPPETS KILL."
    • Picket studios with "MEDIA CORRUPTION KILLS" and  "10,000 DROWNED" and "FOX KILLS."
  •  very good stuff (none)
    I'm kicking myself for hitting "recommend" and then accidentally clicking "unrecommend."

    Your suggestion for the grassroots is right on.  We have a different role to play than, say, a senator.

    It's a theme that's coming up elsewhere as well (example).  We need to engage our outrage.

    LTEs are a great place to start, as you suggest.  Emailing grahpics/posters ( 1, 2 ) to friends and family is another.  I haven't yet been on the phone to my senators & representative, but will make those calls tomorrow.

    Thanks for posting this.

    Let's get serious about renewables and efficiency. It's time to Win the Oil Endgame.

    by by foot on Mon Sep 05, 2005 at 08:32:39 AM PDT

  •  Tip jar (4.00)
    Sorry -- new at this and forgot to put it up earlier. :--)
  •  You hit the Nail on the Head (none)
    It is the political will that is at stake.  When 9/11 happened, the FIRST thing they did was to sieze upon the fear and use it to sway the will of the country to war.  They had the support of the whole country.

    But this is a huge tipping point because the whole country is with those poor refugees - THIS IS OUR MOMENT.  The country is liberal whether they realize it or not, and instead of whipping up fervor and hatred, this is stirring emotions and inspiring empathy.  

    The country realizes now that they are truly vulnerable in ways they've never seen before.  We have 'control' of the fear factor now, and I say we use it for all it's worth.

  •  Help the victims, have some decency (none)
    How about posting new ways to help the victims instead of devising ways to exploit the natural disaster to bring down the administration.

    A media plan of attack regarding Katrina is ghoulish. Have some common decency for once.

    •  See point 1 (none)
      and there's a reason it's first. I've already given twice, and plan on donating more, including personal care packets. I've contacted local officials about coordinating housing efforts for evacuees, including long-term leases paid for by local churches. So be careful when you throw around accusations of exploitation.

      Two more quick points:
      -- There is nothing that says we cannot both meet the needs of the victims and also accuse the victimizers.
      -- Ultimately, if we don't get this market-driven, poll-focused, heartless administration out of there, more innocent people will die.

      •  I could not disagree more (none)
        That is where we differ. I think what you mention above would turn off many more people in a quest to bring down the administration at all costs.

        Help the victims, and then point to the administrations mistakes and short comings responsibly for the mid term elections.

        Fly off the handle now and create a Cindy Sheehan-esque circus, and it will hurt not help Democrats.

        Be more compassionate, more responsible, more honest and more effective than the opposition, and gains will follow. Take the Kos and Atrios, Moveon and Media Matters tact, and we will all be screwed.

  •  LOL!! (none)
    Apparently Little Green Footballs picked up on this diary that got only 4 recommends as an example of how Daily Kos is "cold bloodedly" politicizing tragedy (by urging people to get involved in helping victims and holding leaders accountable for failures, no less).

    http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=17384_Daily_Kos-_Strategies_for_the_Coming_Weeks&o nly

  •  Do you think Blanco has the right to criticize? (none)
    S. O'BRIEN: And the governor said no.

    NAGIN: She said that she needed 24 hours to make a decision. It would have been great if we could of left Air Force One, walked outside, and told the world that we had this all worked out. It didn't happen, and more people died.

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