Friday, September 30, 2005

A fool Republican

posted by Rob at 12:03 PM


UPDATE: Rush spent the first hour of his program "on the offensive" over Bennett's remarks. I agree with him that the "hack website" is, indeed, just that, but Bennett's use of the example of "you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down" is just asinine on more than one level.

For example, you could abort all members of any race and the crime rate would go down. White people commit crime. Latinos commit crime. Abort them all and, all things remaining equal, there'd be fewer crimes committed.

And why single out "black" babies? For a high-profile conservative to do so, with no prompting whatsoever, only adds to the myth that conservatives are, by their nature, racist.

That said, one other point on which I agree with Rush - idiot statements by Republicans/conservatives always gain more media attention than similarly stupid comments by Democrats/liberals. One could make the argument that whites/conservatives are held to a higher standard than blacks/liberals. The media expect the latter to make ignorant comments, but are surprised when the former do.

Call it the media's soft bigotry of higher expectations.

Who should be in charge

posted by Rob at 10:50 AM

Interesting read in the Wall Street Journal on why the federal response was so slow into New Orleans. This point makes sense to me:
Senior government officials now say that one major reason for the delay was that they believed they had to plan for a far more complicated military operation, rather than a straight-ahead relief effort.

Accounts from local officials of widespread looting and unspeakable violence -- which now appear to have been significantly overstated -- raised the specter at the time that soldiers might be forced to confront or even kill American citizens. The prospect of such a scenario added political and tactical complications to the job of filling the city with troops and set back relief efforts by days.

The misinformation raises the question of why the federal government had so much trouble gathering its own intelligence that could have provided a more accurate picture.
In this light, the slow response can be understood, if still not forgiven. Yet the effort to fix this problem may prove troubling:
Washington's experience in Louisiana has prompted the White House to seek ways to shoulder locals out of the way if another similar disaster crops up in the future. President Bush has asked Congress to consider mechanisms that would allow him to quickly place the Pentagon in charge of such disasters, making it easier to use assets such as the 82nd Airborne Division, highly trained, regular Army soldiers who specialize in moving to an area quickly and securing it. As it was, cumbersome federal regulations generally prevent Mr. Bush from sending regular Army troops to enforce order in American cities unless they are expressly invited by a state's governor.
To paraphrase a point made by
Charles Krauthammer earlier this week on Brit Hume's show, it's doubtful that people hysterical over the feds possibly peeking at library records will react to this news in a sane manner.

At first glance I think it's a bad idea. I agree with Austin Bay:
However, if federal "leadership" goes beyond providing communications and transport assets, it could stunt local and state emergency planning. Diminish local and state responsibility for immediate action, and overall response to the next mega-disaster may be far worse than the response to Katrina.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee asks a good question:
"Who determines if a state can't handle a disaster? What if a riot happens in a major city? Does a mayor get a call that the 82nd Airborne has just landed in your city? We've got to talk about this."
The military isn't happy with the idea either.

Is the problem the notion that the military would be in charge, or the fear of the federal government itself overstepping its bounds?

What do you think, Greg? You've argued that Bush should have taken charge when it became apparent, as Michael Brown aptly put it "Louisiana was dysfunctional." Who should be in charge?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Abortion politics in the language

posted by Rob at 5:08 PM

Best of the Web at times points out the vernacular gymnastics pro-choice advocates and the media endure to avoid describing abortion in negative or emtional terms.

Today BOTW finds another quote linked to abotion, which does seem odd when you think about it (last item):
In an item yesterday, we noted a curious quote from Jerry Edwards, an Arkansas aborter who was offering to evacuate the wombs of women who evacuated New Orleans free of charge. "If we didn't provide it now," Edwards said, "they would get it later--a late-term abortion that would give greater risk to the mother's health."

Needless to say, we were flummoxed. "How would the timing of a woman's choice affect her mother's health?" we asked. But several readers have written with a theory that, if true, is shocking: that by "the mother," Edwards meant the woman who is exercising her constitutional right to choose.

The implications are chilling. Of course it's possible that some of these women are mothers, as a result of previous pregnancies during which, tragically, they were too poor or uneducated to make a choice. But Edwards is sweepingly characterizing all women exercising their constitutional rights as "mothers." And think about what that means: If a woman availing herself of her right to choose is a "mother," then the fetus is a "child" rather than what science has definitively proved it to be, which is just a clump of cells.

Republicans have their problems

posted by Rob at 3:53 PM


Some will go down fighting.

Odds are, it's a setup:
"I can't imagine indicting a majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives without having a smoking gun, and that means someone who flipped on DeLay," said Buck Wood, an Austin lawyer who filed a related civil lawsuit on behalf of Democratic congressional candidates. "He's got to have corroborating evidence, too, bills and things proving where DeLay was at key times." ...

But all the indictment says DeLay did was "enter into an agreement" with one or both men to knowingly violate the election code. Earle must prove to a jury that DeLay agreed to a felony when he denies it.
The Smoking Gun has the indictment here. It is normal for the first sentence of an indictment to be two pages in length?

UPDATE: Great point by Kevin Drum:
If Democrats still can't win in 2006, then we've got serious problems.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Folklore versus Fact

posted by Rob at 10:20 AM

As an update to a post yesterday, here's a link to Gateway Pundit's breakdown of rumor versus reality.

Compare and contrast: New Orleans

posted by Rob at 8:03 AM

I wonder if this guy will ever get this treatment. There is ample evidence that the former did a woeful job before, during and after Katrina.

UPDATE: Read this too.

(Hat tip: BOTW)

The state of the Democrat Party

posted by Rob at 7:57 AM

Nice column out today by Jonah Goldberg. In just a few paragraphs he describes how, as weak as Bush is politically right now, his opposition is even weaker:
George W. Bush is at his lowest approval level of his presidency, Iraq will not likely be a political winner for the foreseeable future, congressional Republicans are balking at his agenda and, in response, Bush is throwing money out the window as if he's afraid it might catch fire. Yet his thoroughly rich, white male nominee has passed with barely a scratch. ...

In speech after speech, Democrats voting "no" said he was qualified, decent, brilliant, capable, nice, but they just couldn't do it. You got the sense John Kerry wanted to take Roberts to a nice restaurant and give the nominee the "it's not you, it's me" speech: Look, you're a great guy, and any country would be lucky to have you. I'm just not in a good place right now.

And that's about as good a description of what's going on with the Democrats as any out there.
Both parties have their soft underbellys. It will be interesting to see which one if better defended as the 2008 election season gains momentum come spring.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

It's never news when it's the news

posted by Rob at 10:18 AM

A recent USA Today/CNN Gallup Poll reports that 58 percent of respondents say they don’t approve of the way President Bush is handling his job.

Another recent Gallup Poll reports that 49 percent of respondents say they have very little or no trust in the media. That's acually a small increase from the 55 percent recorded last month.

Also noted:
When asked about the news media's political slant, Americans are much more likely to say they are too liberal (46%) than they are to say they are about right (37%) or too conservative (16%).
Expect to hear plenty about Bush's poll numbers, but it's never news when it's the news with the bad numbers.

Why should we trust the television

posted by Rob at 8:19 AM

Expect today to hear on talk radio and read in the blogosphere much about yesterday's Hardball. Chris Matthews took on Peter King, R-NY. Matthews was in full "anti-Bush" mode, but King would have none of it.

I liked this exchange (emphasis mine):
CM: No, no, no. Let me ask you. Weren't you dismayed as a Republican Congressman, that the President of the United States didn't watch television for all those 48 hours? That he had to be shown a picture of what we'd all been watching? ...

PK: Chris, you won't give me a chance to answer the questions. Just because the president doesn't watch you on television, it doesn't mean he's not doing his job. You know, Franklin Roosevelt wasn't hired to listen to radio accounts of D-Day. You're hired to do the job, and the president can do his job without having to listen to Chris Matthews or Andrea Mitchell or Tim Russert, or any of the others.
King makes a point that has been nagging me the past month. Does the national media really expect the president to get all his information solely from them? Should there be people on the federal payroll whose job it is to watch CNN, MSNBC, FOX, Headline News, etc. and report immediately to the White House what they see being reported? Should that information then supercede what officials on the ground are saying? Which information is "correct" or "official"?

A great illustration of my point occurred over at CNN, which received some praise for its hyped "Big Disconnect" story. It featured quotes from various officials making conflicting statements. Click on over and re-read it. Knowing what we know at this point, who was the most responsible party with regard to providing accurate information? (emphasis mine):
Conditions in the Convention Center
FEMA chief Brown:
We learned about that (Thursday), so I have directed that we have all available resources to get that convention center to make sure that they have the food and water and medical care that they need.

CNN Producer Kim Segal: It was chaos. There was nobody there, nobody in charge. And there was nobody giving even water. The children, you should see them, they're all just in tears. There are sick people. We saw... people who are dying in front of you.

Uncollected corpses
Brown: That's not been reported to me, so I'm not going to comment. Until I actually get a report from my teams that say, "We have bodies located here or there," I'm just not going to speculate.

Segal: We saw one body. A person is in a wheelchair and someone had pushed (her) off to the side and draped just like a blanket over this person in the wheelchair. And then there is another body next to that. There were others they were willing to show us.
The facts now: "At the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, just four bodies have been recovered, despite reports of heaps of dead piled inside the building. Only one of the dead appeared to have been murdered, said health and law-enforcement officials."

Over at the Superdome, six bodies have been found.

Let's continue with CNN:
Violence and civil unrest
Brown: I've had no reports of unrest, if the connotation of the word unrest means that people are beginning to riot, or you know, they're banging on walls and screaming and hollering or burning tires or whatever. I've had no reports of that.

CNN's Chris Lawrence: From here and from talking to the police officers, they're losing control of the city. We're now standing on the roof of one of the police stations. The police officers came by and told us in very, very strong terms it wasn't safe to be out on the street.
What we know today: "Four weeks after the storm, few of the widely reported atrocities have been backed with evidence. The piles of murdered bodies never materialized, and soldiers, police officers and rescue personnel on the front lines assert that, while anarchy reigned at times and people suffered indignities, most of the worst crimes reported at the time never happened."

I don't mean to pick just on CNN. Here's an AP story from Sept. 1 posted on the website of a Knoxville TV station. It reports that "Outside the nearby convention center, dead bodies are mixed with crying children and adults chanting desperately for help."

Here's a Reuters report (which was posted on MSNBC) from Sept. 3 in which "refugees ... described how the convention center and the Superdome became lawless hellholes beset by rape and murder" and quotes someone as saying "There is rapes going on here. Women cannot go to the bathroom without men. They are raping them and slitting their throats."

And there's still been no apology or explanation for the well-circulated prediction by Nagin of 10,000 dead.

I accept the fact that the media can not be expected to be accurate or perfect all the time, especially during crisis situations. Yet when will there be televised or print confessions that the coverage of New Orleans post-Sept. 1 was overly emotional, exaggerated and in some cases false?

If anyone has any further examples of post-Katrina reporting now needing a correction, please send them my way via comments below.

UPDATE: Soon after posting this, I noticed via Drudge that the LA Times is setting up a woodshed. The paper offers several examples of mistaken reporting, including "Fox News, a day before the major evacuation of the Superdome began, issued an "alert" as talk show host Alan Colmes reiterated reports of "robberies, rapes, carjackings, riots and murder. Violent gangs are roaming the streets at night, hidden by the cover of darkness."

Washington Post smackdown

posted by Rob at 7:59 AM

The capitol's paper of record bodyslams Louisiana's Congressional delegation this morning. In an editorial headlined "Louisiana's Looters," the paper contends that "the Louisiana legislators are out to grab more federal cash than they could possibly spend usefully."

Here's the money shot:
The Louisiana delegation has apparently devoted little thought to the root causes of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. New Orleans was flooded not because the Army Corps of Engineers had insufficient money to build flood protections, but because its money was allocated by a system of political patronage. The smart response would be to insist that, in the future, no Corps money be wasted on unworthy projects, but the Louisiana bill instead creates a mechanism by which cost-benefit analysis can be avoided.
This is how Washington works, Greg. Legislators write the legislation. The president signs it (Bush is allergic to vetos). The president does not write the bill, nor dictate allocations from it. Louisiana got its money in the past. It can be forcefully argued it misspent it.

Now the state is asking to be trusted to do what's right with a blank check. Republicans will prove their idiots if they go along with them.

Monday, September 26, 2005

I guess this is Bush's fault as well

posted by Rob at 4:25 PM

Since everything that happens is attributable to the man in the White House, should he get credit for the sudden surge in state tax revenue, as recorded by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government.

Here's the summary:
- State tax revenue in the April-June 2005 quarter grew 13.3 percent compared
to the same period in 2004. This was the fastest growth since at least 1991.

- After adjusting for inflation and legislated tax changes, growth was 8.1 percent.

- All three major tax sources showed strong growth, with the strongest gains
recorded in the corporate income tax.

- Final personal income tax payments with returns were up 29.3 percent.

- Revenue growth was strongest in the Mid-Atlantic region (16 percent) and
weakest in the Great Lakes and Southwest regions (9.1 percent).

- National employment growth was 1.6 percent in the quarter, with the strongest
growth in the western and southern regions.
The full report is here (.pdf file).
So from where did this extra money come? Not where you think (emphasis mine):
Tax increases and other processing changes made a relatively minor contribution to state tax collections in the April-June quarter, and were concentrated in a few states. Without net enacted tax increases and processing changes, state tax revenue growth would have been 13 percent. Inflation, however, remained relatively high this quarter at 4.5 percent. If the effects of enacted tax increases and inflation are considered, real adjusted state tax revenue increased a strong 8.1 percent, as shown also in Table 1. This is the strongest quarter of real adjusted state tax revenue growth in seven years.
I admit, this is only for one quarter. Revenues could be way down for the next, especially considering the impact of Katrina and Rita. It'd be interesting to find out what's happening at the state level, and if there may be a corresponding trend at the national.

Not as bad as thought or proclaimed

posted by Rob at 9:43 AM

Interesting read over at It appears many of the statements made by both the news media and local New Orleans officials were overblown, exaggerated and outright false:
Four weeks after the storm, few of the widely reported atrocities have been backed with evidence. The piles of bodies never materialized, and soldiers, police officers and rescue personnel on the front lines say that although anarchy reigned at times and people suffered unimaginable indignities, most of the worst crimes reported at the time never happened.
Gotta love the take over at Scappleface: Mayor Nagin Blames Bush for Lower Body Count.

The recovery effort is ongoing, as is the investigation into what really happened when. It will be interesting to see if the media admits to any errors in reporting.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Never enough to spend

posted by Rob at 4:46 PM

Yeah, Greg, you have a point. The federal government's wallet needs to be closed tighter than Lando's slacks, yet it keeps getting opened because:

1 - Few - in either party - want to spend less

2 - Since Bush came to office we have hit the deficit trifecta - war, recession and national emergency, of which Katrina and Rita can be classified.

First let's clarify our economic shape. As a percentage of overall GDP, the deficit remains lower than it was in the 1980s. The deficit was 3.6% of gross national product in 2004. Yes, that is the highest rate since 1993, but lower than most of the 1980s.

To further explain - in 1984 the federal government brought in (in millions) $666,486. Last year, federal revenue stood at (in millions) $1,880,070. So, in 20 years federal revenue grew three times in size, yet the deficit, by percentage of GDP, is lower.

Thus, our country's economic shape is better than it was twenty years ago, at least as measured in federal receipts. This is not to forgive the Jabba-like gluttony of politicos both red and blue, but to demonstrate that "our children's" shoulders are less burdened now than they were in the 1980s.

Yet, as you request Greg, "we should balance the books as quickly as possible." That's easy to demand, but difficult (for politicians) to do.

We have an administration and Republican-led Congress that will not suggest tax increases, because to do so will weaken their re-election chances. We have a Democrat opposition that will not suggest spending cuts (outside of Iraq) because to do so will - say it with me - weaken their re-election chances.

Many conservatives are upset with the Republicans now for their carefree spend, spend, spend attitude (see bill, highway). Yet it has been common the past few years to hear Democrats complain that not enough money is spent (see Behind, No Child Left; and Care, Medi).

And when the parties do see eye-to-eye, we get a trillion-dollar liability.

I agree with the quote you selected from our great first president, who at the time never conceived of a federal income tax, federal gas tax, federal phone bill tax, Social Security tax, Medicare tax or any of the other hundreds of hands Uncle Sam sticks into hundreds of pockets.

With regard to cultivating peace, we never asked for war. The powers within Afghanistan attacked us. We fought back.

More than 15 years ago, the power within Iraq attacked a neighboring country. The international community forced that power back within its borders and attached a list of demands for peace. Those demands were never met. It was time they were.

Which now takes us into arguing over Iraq, which I have no time to do now.

UPDATE: Here's a nice summary of some conservative anger toward Bush and Republicans in Washington for spending money faster than an Ewok-driven speeder bike.

Why I love President George……. Washington.

posted by Gregory Nazario at 9:05 AM

In his famous Farwell Address President Washington delivered more pearls of wisdom than Yoda on crack. The topics include civic duty and public life, interstate commerce, checks and balances and the mad popular caveat “avoid entangling foreign alliances..Bitches”. The one tip that doesn’t get much attention is his “Public Credit” suggestion.
As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is, to use it as sparingly as possible; avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it; avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge the debts, which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burthen, which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives, but it is necessary that public opinion should cooperate. To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in mind, that towards the payment of debts there must be Revenue; that to have Revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised, which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment, inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties), ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining revenue, which the public exigencies may at any time dictate.

Many Americans would suggest that this George put down his signed copy of “My Pet Goat” and read the thoughts of his predecessors. Not all of them mind you solely the effective ones. Our current administration has taken fuzzy math to a new level. Think Chewbacca on Rogaine. He proposes to fight a war, make New Orleans “better”, enact a Medicare prescription plan and dole out more pork than brunch at Oprahs. All this while cutting taxes. This is possible only because we are borrowing huge amounts from foreign neighbors, to include red China. These loans, plus interest, will rest on the shoulders of our children. George Washington understood that nobody enjoys paying taxes, but in order for this great nation to endure funds must be collected. If we are to enjoy global respect and more importantly international credit, we should balance the books as quickly as possible. The same folks that label any executive dissent as un-American cry foul when taxes are proposed, taxes that would invariably support their agenda. Mr. Rove take note, you cannot get more patriotic than the tax endorsing President Washington.

Friday, September 23, 2005

If you're an agnostic, why are you uncomfortable

posted by Rob at 9:41 PM

Several groups at Dartmouth College are publicly spanking and seeking to embarress the student body president for discussing Jesus at the school's recent convocation. A roundup of the "controversy" can be found here (scroll down to "Controversy Surrounds Riner Convocation Speech").

What got my attention is this quote:
"Honestly, as an agnostic person, the religious part made me slightly uncomfortable," Kimia Shahi '09 said.
If you're truly an agnostic, then why would someone discussing Jesu make you "uncomfortable"? If you cared nothing for football, would Chris Berman give you chills? If you had no taste for red meat, would driving by Burger King upset you to no end?

College life is supposed to challenge you .. or so I thought. Apparently Shahi isn't as confident in her religious beliefs as she wishes she were.

You can read more about the Dartmouth rage here.

The comments and indignation remind me of a Martin Luther King Jr. event at Appalachian State University a few years ago. Organizers planned to show excerpts of King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech. Before the video rolled, the presenter apologized in advance to the crowd about some of the content to which they were about to be exposed. He explained that King carried the title of reverend, so unfortunately they would be exposed to Christian ideals expressed as only an educated Christian black man could express them.

In other words, please excuse King for being a man of God, cause nobody's perfect. Just put your fingers in your ears during the "naughty" parts. And try not to hold them against him.

(Hat tip: The Corner)

What if it works?

posted by Rob at 3:03 PM

Interesting read over at on Bush's plans to re-build New Orleans (emphasis mine):
The reaction from liberals to Bush's proposed War on Bayou Poverty has been outrage that Republicans would take advantage of the tragedy to advance their ideological agenda. ...

This is precisely the wrong response. Liberals, who have failed to muster any kind of social consensus for a major federal assault on poverty since LBJ's day, should welcome conservatives as converts to the cause. ... If the conservative war on poverty succeeds, even in partial fashion, we will all be better for its success. And if it fails, we will have learned something important about how not to fight poverty.

I don't see that happening. There's gonna be a fight because the president's political opponents will not risk an economic victory for Republicans. Remember how welfare reform was supposed to go?

That law, which President Clinton signed over the objection of many Democrats, proclaimed an intention "to encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families." ... As hard as it is to believe that a major government reform actually had its intended effect - especially a grandiose effect like restoring the family - that seems to be what has happened.

This wasn't what experts - on both the left and right - predicted before the law passed. ... Liberals routinely scoffed at the idea that young hormone-filled teen-agers and twentysomethings would change their sexual behavior just because they might not get welfare years down the road.

Many conservative experts scoffed too. ...

It's now possible to start saying that these people were wrong, and the welfare reformers were right.
Clinton did indeed sign that legislation, then ran for re-election in 1996 promising to "fix" it, which he never did. Care to guess where the idea originated? (see No. 3)

Kaus has more on Bush's plans, and admits he - Kaus - is "guilty of pursuing good policy."

Who said the following?

posted by Rob at 12:51 PM

Just guess -
Right now we need a president who will help. He's helping. I'm so grateful. Poverty and misery is humbling. I'm humbled to the core that this administration is helping the poorest of the poor. Why beat up on a president who's helping? When I'm calling around for willing hands, I'm not worrying about party affiliation.

She (a clue!) also said this:
Girl, I only tell you, I applaud this president for stepping up.
Still don't know? Here's some more clues:
I'm a woman, 45 years old, whose birth certificate says 'Negro,' and I was Al Gore's campaign manager. With all that layin' on top of me, I thought nothin' could ever scare me.
Click here for the answer.

Where was Kennedy in 1960?

posted by Rob at 7:51 AM

Someone please ask Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Al Gore and CNN to explain these stats (via WeatherMatrix.Net).

There were two Category 5 hurricanes in the Atlantic in 1960, and another two in 1961. Between 1950 and 1960 there were 10 such Cat 5 storms. Fast forward to 1985 to present - and a time when CNN says "hurricanes have become significantly stronger." In the past 20 years we've had ... wait for it ... eight such storms, only two of which were in the 1990s.

The TimesOnline over in the UK today had a Q&A yesterday on Rita and global warming:
Although this has been an exceptional year in terms of the number of storms, there have so far not been as many as there were in 1995, when we had 19. There have been similarly active seasons dating back decades. In both 1960 and 1961 there were two Category 5 storms in the Atlantic region and in 1933 there were 21 storms.

If you discount Ophelia, which grazed the Carolinas, three hurricanes have so far made landfall over the US this year. In 1886, records show that there were seven.
I'll admit it can be argued that Bush and some Republicans come across as "anti-science." But this is just one example of the left and some Democrats being "anti-history."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The argument Edwards should make

posted by Rob at 7:15 AM

I mentioned earlier this week that John Edward's eight-year presidential campaign has new life. Thomas Oliphant and TPMCafe are all a'giggle over the possibility of a Southern son revival. Best of the Web, of course, has a slightly different take.

I also think this is Edward's chance to make a credible case for himself in 2008, though I think he'll blow it. As Oliphant points out, Edwards is pushing the point that Katrina "exposed America's dirty secret" of poverty. If that is all he argues, he's toast for two reasons:

One, that line about a secret is bull feces. Everyone knows there are poor people in the country. We just argue over how best to help them improve their economic standing.

No. 2, it's the wrong argument. The target for Democrats and liberals should be simple - Bush and the Republicans have not done what they promised after 9/11.

After four planes hit three buildings and U.S. soil, Bush and the Republicans went on the offensive. The Department of Homeland Security was created. Military strength became the party's theme. We waged a War on Terror. We got color codes and proclamations that, while an attack is likely, thanks to Bush's policies none had yet to occur.

Bush's legacy post-9/11 looked to be gaining shape - he kept America safe. Now it can be argued we've only been lucky. Hurricane Katrina's impact and the mass confusion at all levels of government give hefty weight to the argument that we are no better prepared today for a terrorist strike than we were on 9/10.

I keep going back to this Mark Steyn column:
Imagine if al-Qaida were less boneheaded and had troubled themselves to learn a bit more about the Great Satan's weak spots. Imagine if they'd decided to blow up a couple of levees and flood a great American city. Would local and state government have responded any more effectively than they did last week? After all, Katrina, unlike Osama, let 'em know she was heading their way.
As has been pointed out by numerous people, it has been so secret that New Orleans would one day be hit by a massive storm that would flood the city. You would think that somewhere in Washington there was a plan on how to best save Americans on that fateful day. You would think there would have been clear lines of communication and a agreed-upon plan between the DofHS, FEMA, Louisiana and New Orleans.

We have since learned that is not so. So now the question must be asked. Is our country's preparedness for a terrorist attack filled with "unknown unknowns"? Disaster plans we don't know we don't know.

I was born and raised in Fayetteville, N.C. The city is home to Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base. Both are prime military targets. If al-Qaida wanted to launch a domestic attack with a dirty bomb or high-grade explosive, the Fayetteville area would be a prime target. Civilians in Fayetteville and the surrounding area would also be hit.

Is the federal government prepared for such an attack? Unlike Katrina - and now Rita - it's doubtful we'd have three days to prepare. Is there a well coordinated plan between the federal, state, local and military chains of commands?

And wouldn't you think that, post-9/11 and post-DofHS, such a plan should exist? After Katrina, do you think one does?

For some odd reason, few people - and no Dems - are making this argument. The leftist Dissident Voice has to look to Republicans to make the argument:
Among leading Republicans who called the response by FEMA and federal agencies a failure were Sens. David Vittin (R-La.) and Sen. Susan Bollins (R-Maine). Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.), a conservative, called FEMA’s response “an embarrassment”. Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), one of Bush’s closest allies, told the Associated Press he believed “was overwhelmed, undermanned and not capable of doing its job.” By the time Katrina hit, the federal government in the four years after 9/11 had spent billions of dollars and had funded or conducted thousands of training sessions to combat terrorism. “If we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?” demanded Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House.
I don't like John Edwards, but I admit he has struck a chord with some Americans. Not enough to actually win primaries or national elections, but the media love him so he has a mighty big bat in his hands.

IMHO, if Edwards or the Democratic party was smart, they'd forget the tired taxcutsfortherichHalliburtonBoltonismeanCheneyisevilRoveissatanBushisstupidcanttalk crap they've been futilely shoveling since 1999 and make a sound policy argument based on national security.

Edwards can stand in front of a respectful crowd, one arm around a token black from New Orleans, the other holding his wife's hand. There can be a huge blowup print of the Superdome from September 1 behind him. James Lee Witt can be off to the side, looking solemn. Edwards can look into the camera and say, "The Republicans promised they'd prepare this country for a terrorist attack. They obviously weren't prepared for something as predictable as nature.

"Mr. President, why should we trust your party again?"

That should be his mantra. Build the two Americas speech around that theme. He can say. "One America believes Republicans are keeping us safe and at the ready, the other America now knows they are not. Join me as we work to do the job Republicans either can't or won't. I will make America stronger not only economically, but domestically as well."

Yeah, tinker with the verbage some. And change the scenery a bit. But is there any doubt that Edwards would have a more credible foundation for a run in 2008.

Which begs the question - why is no one on the left in Washington making that argument now?

UPDATE: Mystery Pollster stumbles across the same open door as I (emphasis his):
...if Katrina did not alter Americans overall rating of Bush, they certainly did collapse perceptions of Bush on one key dimension: Being a "strong and decisive leader." The percentage of Americans who describe Bush as a strong leader fell steadly from 60% just before Katrina, to 51% on the current survey (a result also seen in recent CBS polls). To paraphrase pollster Peter Hart's conclusion in looking at his own poll NBC and the Wall Street Journal, Katrina effectively "burst" perceptions of Bush as a strong leader. That may not collapse his overall job rating, but it is a bad sign for the President.
(hat tip: Kaus)

Haw far she has fallen

posted by Rob at 7:08 AM

Several weeks ago she was the top story at the top of the hour on CBS News radio. She's been on every major media news show and has described as reviving the anti-war sentiment in this country and becoming its most powerful voice.

My, my, my how the trumped-up "mighty" have fallen.

I stand by my earlier comment - Idiot.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Obviously it was Bush's fault

posted by Rob at 5:13 PM

Geez. What can you really say about this? And people wonder why New Orleans was such a wreck.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

You just have to shake your head

posted by Rob at 1:03 PM

I really don't know what can be said about this:
“If they are evacuees, don’t they have the right to return, or are they being disbursed in a new Diaspora so that the other cities and towns can absorb this Black people, so that when New Orleans is rebuilt as a mainly White city, so that never again can New Orleans have a Black mayor, and Black police chief?” (Minister Louis Farrakhan) asked.

He also revealed to the press a report that he received, from a “very reliable source” he said, that there was a 25-foot hole under one of the levees that broke, which suggested it may have been busted on purpose to destroy the part of the city where Black people lived.
I feel for the people quoted in the article. Their pain is real. Too bad their "leaders" are not.

UPDATE: I guess some people will always make excuses. Common Folks using Common Sense notices a media discrepency:
Search Google News for the words "Farrakhan" and "blown up" to see how many of the mainstream media outlets carried this lunacy.

Now, search Google News for "Pat Robertson" and "assassination" to see how many carried that lunacy. No bias, huh?
Give them time CFuCS. I'm sure it will be all over the evening news broadcasts and covered in-depth by Time and Newsweek next week. Don't you know? The media is back and it's pissed!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Preach on Howard

posted by Rob at 8:49 AM

A week ago I expressed surprise at the media's surprise that there are poor people in New Orleans. Today, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz joins the bandwagon with plenty of examples, including a database search of the Washington Post archives which found:
one story that prominently mentioned the poor of New Orleans: a 2002 piece on a campaign to boost the minimum wage that cited the city's "40 percent poverty level." Far more typical of the Mardi Gras media was a 1995 Post story on how "the city's black neighborhoods come alive" with Sunday parades in the fall.
Somewhat buried in Kurtz's piece is the coal for the John Edwards 2008 presidential engine - his popular "Two Americas" theme he ran into the ground in 2004.

Now That's Progress suggests that "It may be that more high-profile people like John Edwards need to be out there making this an issue, because only those with a strong voice in this country can call attention to the voiceless."

Okay, John. You caught the punt. Let's see how far you can run with it. This is a pretty good first step:
Edwards said Bush's plan to deposit cash assistance into victims' bank accounts shows that the president fails to understand the plight of the nation's poor.

"News bulletin, Mr. President. They don't have bank accounts," Edwards said.
UPDATE: Thanks Professor!

The Smoking Gun is there

posted by Rob at 8:36 AM

It looks to be a bad week for the Bush haters. The Smoking Gun now has online pages from the 9/11 commission report which states that back in 1998 the FAA was warned that al Qaeda operatives could "seek to hijack a commercial jet and slam it into a U.S. landmark":
When the report was originally released in January, the section about the FAA's early warning to U.S. aviation officials was redacted. However, a subsequent declassification review uncloaked various portions of the document, which was re-released yesterday by the National Archives.
This doesn't clear the Bush administration of being asleep at the wheel, but it supports the notion that al Qaeda's plans predated January 20, 2001 and no one then did anything about them.

Friday, September 16, 2005

The next big national scandal

posted by Rob at 10:45 AM

Or, at least, it should be (emphasis mine):
A Pentagon employee was ordered to destroy documents that identified Mohamed Atta as a terrorist two years before the 2001 attacks, a congressman said Thursday.

The employee is prepared to testify next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee and was expected to identify the person who ordered him to destroy the large volume of documents, said Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa. ...

On Wednesday, former members of the Sept. 11 commission dismissed the "Able Danger" assertions. One commissioner, ex-Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., said, "Bluntly, it just didn't happen and that's the conclusion of all 10 of us."

Weldon responded angrily to Gorton's assertions.

"It's absolutely unbelievable that a commission would say this program just didn't exist," Weldon said Thursday.
And people wonder why this failed. (Love the photo!)

UPDATE: The photo that was posted alongside the above news article has been changed. It's no longer humerous at all.

Karl Rove has a gun to her daughter's head

posted by Rob at 10:36 AM

That is the only way to explain why a black woman in New Orleans would say this about Bush on national television. I mean, doesn't she read polls?

Is she a house slave?

Is she even really black?

Polls are law. They rule above all else. Unless, of course, you disagree with them.

Fake but accurate

posted by Rob at 10:26 AM

I know, I know. It's really a molehill. But it's amusing to read someone from a major news organization saying, "the picture was not manipulated in any other way."

Yes, it was manipulated, but not in any other way than the way we manipulated it, so it's okay.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Praise for Sky News

posted by Rob at 9:22 PM

From a post earlier this week Woffle commented:
You're right, and then you're wrong. Most of the poor in New Orleans didn't live in or dance on the streets of the French Quarter. They worked crap jobs further out in Elysian Fields and beyond. But still, the media's not squeaky clean on this one.
True, most of the poor were not visible. My point was that portions of New Orleans reflected - for those who cared to notice - the poverty that was there. Public urination, massive consumption of alcohol, rude beggers on street corners, kids tapping and outright demanding money - I don't think those are the traits of a city with a strong, empowering economic core.

After reading Woffle's post I paid a visit to his blog. Very well done. And yes, this is very funny.

Landreneau gets a press agent

posted by Rob at 6:48 PM

And he comes From the Swamp. Why doesn't anyone know who he is?

Brown has his say

posted by Rob at 4:17 PM

The New York Times gives a microphone to former FEMA cheif Mike Brown today. I espeically took note of this exchange:

What do you need? Help me help you," Mr. Brown said he asked (state officials). "The response was like, 'Let us find out,' and then I never received specific requests for specific things that needed doing." ...

Governor Blanco's communications director, Mr. (Bob) Mann, said that she was frustrated that Mr. Brown and others at FEMA wanted itemized requests before acting. "It was like walking into an emergency room bleeding profusely and being expected to instruct the doctors how to treat you," he said.

Mann's analogy seems weak to me. If someone walks into an emergency room bleeding, they don't yell "treat me" then lay back and expect immediate proper care. The doctor will want as much information as possible - where are you bleeding, how did you come to bleed, are you on any medication, what is your medical history, etc. Once the doctor and the staff have that information, they can get to work.

Now, let's say that someone is taken while unconscious to an emergeny room. Blood is everywhere and no one knows the patient. There will be treatment, but will it be as effective or organized as it would with the medical history? Is it more likely that mistakes could happen?

According to Mann, FEMA was supposed to just show up and .... what, exactly? As the Times details, there was no local communication network, though Mann insists that "Everything that Mr. Brown needed in terms of resources or information from the state, he had those available to him."

In reality, no one in a governmental capacity knew what was happening where Tuesday through Thursday. One example the Times notes is that "at some point on Monday or Tuesday the hotels started directing their remaining guests to the convention center - something neither FEMA nor local officials had planned." Brown said no one told him of this.

The Times article includes details that show the silliness of Mann's analogy (emphasis mine):

The crowd in the Superdome, the city's shelter of last resort, was already larger than expected. But Mr. Brown said he was relieved to see that the mayor had a detailed list of priorities, starting with help to evacuate the Superdome.

Mr. Brown passed the list on to the state emergency operations center in Baton Rouge, but when he returned that evening he was surprised to find that nothing had been done.

"I am just screaming at my F.C.O., 'Where are the helicopters?' " he recalled. " 'Where is the National Guard? Where is all the stuff that the mayor wanted?' "

FEMA, he said, had no helicopters and only a few communications trucks. The agency typically depends on state resources, a system he said worked well in the other Gulf Coast states and in Florida last year.

So actually it appears Brown was asking the wrong question. He should have asked, "what do you have to help me help you?" As the Times also notes, FEMA has only 2,600 employees nationwide. It relies on state and other federal resources. I would think a governor and her staff would know this.

(Brown) said his biggest mistake was in waiting until the end of the day on Aug. 30 to ask the White House explicitly to take over the response from FEMA and state officials.

He should have done so earlier, no doubt. Louisiana officials expected miracles to save them from a lack of planning, preperation and an understanding of how to best protect its citizens.

Battling photos

posted by Rob at 12:50 PM

This photo makes the wires. I doubt most people will ever see this one.

Recovering the dead from Katrina

posted by Rob at 8:34 AM

Yesterday the governor of Louisiana followed the president - again. After Bush took responsibility for the federal response to Katrina, Gov. Kathleen Blanco took responsibility "for failures and missteps in the immediate response to Hurricane Katrina."

Good for her, I guess. What sticks with me, though, is her complaint from Tuesday:
Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco lashed out at FEMA on Tuesday, complaining the agency is moving too slowly in recovering the bodies of those killed by Hurricane Katrina.

The dead "deserve more respect than they have received," she said at state police headquarters in Baton Rouge.

Her words were ringing in my head when I heard a report on NPR this morning on efforts to recover the dead. It's not online, but this story touches on some details:

Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen, who heads the federal on-site relief and recovery effort, says each team will include four people in addition to a chaplain.

The chaplain will say a prayer before any body is removed, Allen said.

Allen told reporters Wednesday in New Orleans that after the forensic evidence has been gathered, "There will be a ceremonial symbolic washing of the body to honor the dead as observed in the Christian, Jewish and Muslin faiths."

Allen is quoted as saying he spoke with Blanco about her complaints. She has since "signed a contract with a private company to speed the process.":

The state of Louisiana will pay Kenyon International Emergency Services almost $119,000 a day for two months for the job of recovering, documenting and handling the bodies of the victims of Hurricane Katrina, according to documents released by the state.

Allen said the call cleared the air with the governor and that he told Blanco he accepted personal responsibility for any perceived problem with the recovery effort.

A rate of $119,000 a day for two months equals just over $7 million. This article from last week says Kenyon International has "been hired by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help recover the bodies of those killed by Hurricane Katrina" in both Louisiana and Mississippi.

It seemed odd to me that the state and FEMA were contracting with the same company to recover the same bodies, until I found this story:
Kenyon initially said last week it had been hired by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to recover bodies in New Orleans and elsewhere.

But on Tuesday Gov. Kathleen Blanco said the state had signed a contract directly with the company because the recovery work was going too slowly and Kenyon was threatening to pull out for lack of a written contract with FEMA.

FEMA said it offered a contract to Kenyon, which the company declined. It also said the state's contract with Kenyon was eligible for reimbursement under various federal relief programs.

A spokesman for Service Corp. International, which owns Kenyon, could not immediately comment on whether the contract would have a material impact for SCI.

I had never heard of Kenyon before, but the company has a long history of working with countries devastated by massive tragedies. But then I read this regarding its owner SCI:

Service Corporation International (SCI), the largest funeral services provider in North America, implicated in scandals in Texas and Florida, recently learned that one of its subsidiaries is negotiating a lucrative contract with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to remove dead bodies in areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

SCI paid $100 million to settle a class-action lawsuit several years ago alleging the company desecrated thousands of corpses, and dumped bodies into mass graves.
I don't mean to imply or suggest any wrongdoing or scandal. But gobs of money are in play and already there's confusion over who is paying whom for what. I wonder how much will go to fraud or waste.

Lesson learned

posted by Rob at 8:10 AM

I was asked late Tuesday to be in a golf tournament Wednesday. I said yes.

I woke up at 4:50 a.m. to be at the Winston-Salem course by 8. Played 18 holes. Had fun. Drank a couple of beers. Swung so awfully I'm a budding addict for the game. Got back to Boone by 5.

While at the office I called my wife. She gave me permission to hang out with friends and drink more beer. Did it. Had fun. Got home around 8:30. Soon went to bed.

Got up this morning thinking about what a great a day Wednesday was - golf, beer and friends. I was in the bathroom about to hit the shower when I heard my wife waking up my 13-week-old daughter. I heard her baby laughs and my wife's cooing. I then realized I didn't see my lil girl all day yesterday.

The gleam left my eye. Wednesday was actually a pretty rotten day.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Finally - Bush takes responsibility

posted by Rob at 3:56 PM

All during the 2004 election and the ongoing War on Terror, critics have been all on Bush's butt because, in the words of one member of the press corp, "you never admit a mistake."

Finally they have their mea culpa. It comes with regard to the fed's response to Hurricane Katrina:
"To the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," Bush told a White House news conference at which he openly questioned U.S. preparedness for another storm or a "severe attack."Bush's rare admission of "serious problems in our response capability" came as the White House stepped up efforts to repair his public standing.
Actually, this makes a "twofer" for Democrats. After failing to have Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Ashcroft, Wolfowitz, or anyone else fall on their sword, they have a scalp. Now they have a semi-apology/claim of responsibility from Bush.

It will be interesting to see how Democrats and the media respond. They finally have what they have longed for so long. Let's see how they handle it. It will say plenty with regard to Bush's campaign strategy to deflect such comment.

Here's how the kook fringe is responding.

Meanwhile, Kill Righty shares my thoughts. The Liberal Phoenix fainted.

Pamela Furr wants to see a line forming:
Now isn't it time for Mayor Nagin of New Orleans and Gov. Blanco to step up to the plate and say, "we take full responsibility for dropping the ball"?
I doubt it.

The beauty of New Orleans

posted by Rob at 9:38 AM

Yeah, I've been hard on the city. It does have its poor and dirty side and it irritates me that it appears no one wants to admit it. It seems the MSM always thought of New Orleans as a shining city in a hole and were shocked - SHOCKED they say - that poor people were hidden in the cracks.

I do hope New Orleans is rebuilt. It was refreshing to hear on NPR this morning that the French Quarter survived mostly in tact. Plenty of hotels may be able to reopen soon. Commercial flights have returned. A pulse is felt.

There's a great attraction to NO. Nothing compares to the cuisine. I never had a bad meal while there. Even the Mike's Inland Seafood in the mall was a treat (I risked missing my flight for one last bowl of seafood gumbo there).

The architecture is astounding and historic, as Blue Ridge Blog notes.

At the height of the flooding, Jeff Jarvis tackled whether the city should be rebuilt. I agree with this comment from Kelsey:
Absolutely, it should be re-built. As Chris says above, it has a great big soul. The history, culture, music - alone! that has sprung from that bathtub demands a re-build, and not some sterile, squeaky clean Celebration, FL version two hundred miles upriver, but right there. I think we all need a reminder of our own inherent absurd but beautiful fragility. Yes.
The comics page is also caught up with Katrina, as evidenced by yesterday's Foxtrot. I share their sentiments.

Clarence Page has out today his thoughts on the city's future. Actually, the future of the "two" cities, as he correctly describes New Orleans as "the lived-in theme park centered in the French Quarter, with its terrific restaurants, dance halls, burlesque joints and cultural gumbo. And there's the other New Orleans, the one populated by most New Orleanians":
That city has one of the highest rates of poverty and violent crime of any major city. Almost half of the city's schools are rated "academically unacceptable." Another 26 percent are under "academic warning."

Rebuilt the right way, New Orleans can leave those problems behind.
As expected, he doesn't describe exactly what the "right way" is. George Will's solution appears to be mandatory marriage. Daily Pundit comments on making the city an island.

Now the laywers are moving in

posted by Rob at 7:50 AM

The Blame Game has officially started down in New Orleans, as criminal charges are possible in the deaths of 34 nursing home residents:
At the center of the probe is St. Rita's Nursing Home in St. Bernard Parish and why its owners didn't evacuate the facility ahead of Katrina.

Bob Johannessen, a spokesman for Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, called the actions by St. Rita's administrators "shocking" and the "worst example of negligence."

This story is slowly gaining more spotlight. Last week the Dallas Morning News had this report (emphasis mine):
When St. Bernard Parish officials realized last week that St. Rita's Nursing Home had not evacuated as Hurricane Katrina bore down on the parish, they called to ask why. Their offer to send buses to help was turned down, they said Wednesday. ...

St. Rita's had the required evacuation plan: Ambulances would be called to take bedridden patients away, and the others would be evacuated by school buses. At least 60 patients and six staffers may have been in the building when Katrina hit.

Parish coroner Dr. Bryan Bertucci said several of the parish's other nursing homes evacuated during the weekend, but St. Rita's staffers never put their plan into effect.

Sunday afternoon, Dr. Bertucci said, he checked with St. Rita's staff to see why. He said the owner, Mabel Mangano, told him she had five special-needs patients, and an ambulance hadn't come to pick them up. Officials said she also told them that she had spoken with the families of patients who said it was okay to stay behind.

The New York Times from Sept. 6 has this detail:
Steve Kuiper, vice president of operations for Acadian Ambulance, said he was told that St. Rita's had an evacuation plan that depended on another nursing home. Acadian, by far the largest ambulance provider in the state, used helicopters to evacuate many of the parish's neediest medical cases after the storm hit. But Mr. Kuiper said he never heard from St. Rita's.

"They didn't think this would ever happen," Mr. Melerine said. "They just didn't evacuate."

The failure at St. Rita's is particularly difficult to explain. The home is in a depression in the ground. The nearby road, which was covered with four or five feet of water, sits at least five feet above the home's floor. The home appears in retrospect to be particularly vulnerable to flood. Efforts to reach its management late Tuesday were unsuccessful.

The Vancouver Sun had a particularly gruesome take on the story last week, and the Herald Sun way down under has this:

An official at Jefferson, 80km south of New Orleans, broke down as he recounted the ordeal of the elderly mother of one city employee who was trapped in the St Bernard home awaiting rescue.

"Every day she called him and said, 'Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?' " Aaron Broussard said.

"And he said, 'Yeah, Mama, somebody's coming to get you. Somebody's coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody's coming to get you on Friday.' And she drowned Friday night.

"It's not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here," Mr Broussard said. "Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area."

Kaus has been debating that bureaucracy for the past several days (Ann Coulter is his current foe). The Claremont Institute also had comments regarding St. Rita's:

The (New York Times) article throws in some by-now ritual references to why state or federal authorities didn't do more to help, but there are clear indications that the problem began with the nursing home staff, to which I would add the New Orleans city government which delayed evacuations and failed to provide bus transportation. But at a more basic level, there is paralysis, disbelief, uncooperativeness, ignorance, even stupidity at work here.

Monday, September 12, 2005

You don't see what you ignore

posted by Rob at 4:38 PM

I think I have found the answer to the media's sudden facination with its discovery of poor people in New Orleans. It was buried inside a Sunday column by the editorial page editor of the Winston-Salem Journal:
Over the years, I've been to New Orleans a number of times. It's a great place, a fun city. ... I've seen the outlandish characters, the street preachers, the people who spray-paint themselves into living statues so tourists will give them money, the artists at Jackson Square and women who, if they aren't hookers, sure give a good impression of them.

But never on those visits did I see the people who were driven into the public eye by Katrina. They were the other side of New Orleans, the ones who weren't part of the allure of the city. ...

And you have to wonder, where are the invisible poor in our own cities? What will it take to make us see them?
How about buying a freakin' clue?! I've been to New Orleans twice. I have been in and around the downtown area, from the public urinal known as Bourbon Street to the business district surrounding the Superdome. The poverty slapped me in the face.

How cold and oblivious is this woman to not have seen what I did?

Back in 1994, a friend of mine about had a heart attack as, while we approached our hotel, an old black woman screamed "Help me! Help me!"

My friend rushed to her side with concern, "What, what do you need? How can I help?"

She smiled at him. "You got a dollar?"

My friend, who had the heart of a hyena and the chest of a baboon, came pretty close to giving her five reasons never to shout at anyone again.

As I posted earlier, I was once offered a "rock" of crack while in New Orleans. If you want it - drugs, sex, or a "rock" and a "roll" - you could find it there. After 5 p.m. daily, just about everyone in the internationally recognized economic engine known as the French Quarter is drunk, high, unclothed - or a combination thereof - as they browse strip clubs, drag shows and gay/straight/crooked bars. How many middle- or upper-class cities have such a center?

In 2000, during Sugar Bowl time, I had dozens of black kids dance in front of me, then stick out their hands and say, "How about that tap?" I wondered how many of them were breadwinners. And given the adults in the shadows rubbing their hands while their charges danced, I wondered how many were really modern day slaves for whatever habits their minders had.

A couple of hours after reading the Journal's insight into selective vision, I tuned into the Panther-Saints game. Sure enough, a New Orleans video package was shown which included two young blacks dancing for their dinner. The announcer intoned how hopeful he was that scenes such as that would return to the Big Easy. Are people really blind to how sad that is, or am I the fool? (it wouldn't be the first time).

Newsweek has more on "The Other America," admitting the poor have always been here yet somehow they are hidden. As Newsweek "reports":
It takes a hurricane. it [sic] takes a catastrophe like Katrina to strip away the old evasions, hypocrisies and not-so-benign neglect. It takes the sight of the United States with a big black eye—visible around the world—to help the rest of us begin to see again.
Actually, all it takes a national political convention. Every four years the public is treated to stories like this and this, in which the homeless and poor are swept from sight so the two dominant political parties can party without any unsightly economic refugees in sight.

High-minded editorial page editors and national news magazines see only what they want to see when they want to see it. Reporting on poverty doesn't enhance the fun one has while sipping hurricanes and marveling at the rich, well-to-do people in New Orleans who for laughs "spray-paint themselves into living statues so tourists will give them money."

The poor have been with us always, but it takes an especially cruel event to make their plights newsworthy.

Forget FEMA - how late was the media

posted by Rob at 3:07 PM

One of the themes repeated ad naseum the past several days centers on how clueless the federal government was with regard to the scene in New Orleans. The other theme is how, like a George Lucas movie, the media finally "strikes back."

Since the media control how a story is framed and told no matter how true the "facts" - such as the situation at the convention center - expect to hear little about how slow the MSM was to the actual news that New Orleans was flooded.

Let's go to the Wall Street Journal (emphasis mine):
The New Orleans office of the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning at 8:14 a.m. Monday, saying "a levee breach occurred along the industrial canal at Tennessee Street. 3 to 8 feet of water is expected due to the breach." The media largely ignored it. ...

Introducing "World News Tonight" on Aug. 29, anchor Charles Gibson said: "In New Orleans, entire neighborhoods are underwater, but the levees held. The nightmare scenario of an entire city underwater did not happen." A spokeswoman for ABC, a unit of Walt Disney Co., had no comment. ...

"But the city managed to avoid the worst of the worst," read a front-page Washington Post article on Tuesday. "The Mississippi River did not breach New Orleans's famed levees to any serious degree, at least in part because Katrina veered 15 miles eastward of its predicted track just before landfall."

Leonard Downie Jr., the Washington Post's executive editor, says the paper's reporting was hampered by communications problems caused by the hurricane. ...

It wasn't until Monday evening that a private helicopter company, Helinet Helicopter Services of Los Angeles, began feeding the first aerial images of New Orleans to Fox News, ABC, NBC, CNN and CBS. By early Tuesday morning, most major media had become aware of the awful extent of the destruction.

In other words, it took the mighty MSM - which had every Brian, Bob, Charles, Shep and Anderson "live" on the scene - roughly 24 hours to report on a major city being flooded.

On the web, had a story up at 1:52 a.m. Tuesday which focused primarily on destruction in Mississippi. It is reported well down in the story some flooding in New Orleans.

Here's a report on MSNBC posted at 10:01 Monday night. The headline - "Hurricane Katrina plows into Louisiana, spares New Orleans its full fury."

The first sentence - "Hurricane Katrina was not the apocalyptic storm that New Orleans has been dreading all these years."

Interesting to note this paragraph in the article:

The federal government began rushing baby formula, communications equipment, generators, water and ice into hard-hit areas, along with doctors, nurses and first-aid supplies. The Pentagon sent experts to help with search-and-rescue operations.
UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt - whose radio show I used to be able to *just* get here in Boone - has more on problem's with the media's current Katrina template.

This is funny too

posted by Rob at 10:52 AM

David Rees does his best Greg Gutfeld impersonation. Another great read.

Friday, September 09, 2005

They are so poor .... and they are so black

posted by Rob at 8:16 PM

Ya gotta love Wolf Blitzer. He has to fill three hours of live programming five days a week on CNN. It's inevitable he will mispeak, but geez louise this was pretty bad.

On the positive side, Wolf's verbal lashing of Howard Dean was very well done. Dean was in The Situation Room today and the new CNN ball bustin' attitude was on full display. You can read the transcript here. Here's a sample exchange:
BLITZER: But there were 1,000 -- at least 1,000 school busses in New Orleans, and none of them were mobilized to get poor people, old people, people who didn't have cars, out of that city as that hurricane, Category 5, was building up steam along the -- in the Gulf of Mexico. Who should have ordered that those school busses, to get drivers and start driving people who don't have cars out of the city?

DEAN: That's an easy criticism to make, because beforehand you can blame everybody. You can blame the last four or five presidents --

BLITZER: Isn't that the responsibility of the mayor or the governor?

DEAN: Unless you tell people what the sequence is, I can't answer that question. I have to tell me that the sequence was that the hurricane was known to be, going to hit New Orleans directly, which it didn't. And that those busses weren't under water, and that the people who were supposed to be driving them didn't --

BLITZER: On Saturday and Sunday there was no water in New Orleans.

DEAN: Right.

BLITZER: And that was the -- the hurricane hit Monday morning.

DEAN: You're holding the mayor --

BLITZER: On Friday they knew this could potentially hit New Orleans, and that it could be a Category 4 or 5.

DEAN: You're holding the mayor to a different standard. This is a Republican spin machine stuff. You're holding the mayor to a different standard than you are holding FEMA.
As you can read in an earlier post, FEMA has no idea people were in the convention center because nobody told them.

Good job Wolf. I may have to tune into CNN more often.

How to piss off people and make new friends

posted by Rob at 4:46 PM

Just write like Greg Gutfeld! Kudos for one of the funniest smackdowns I have ever read. Well worth the time to read - at least for me.

How do you like your Rice?

posted by Rob at 1:47 PM

I'm a mark for Anne Rice. Her book, "Interview with a Vampire," is one of my favorites (as is the movie). I also enjoyed its sequels.

When I was last in New Orleans back in 2000, I stalked her. I asked a cabbie where she lived. He called his base and found out. I headed to the Garden District and found her home. It was just like I imagined - it had the cutest demon dog statues on the second-floor balcony, with cute Santa hats on their heads. I have a photo somewhere buried at home.

Politically, Rice is 180 from me. Her books bear this out, as they tend to be overwrought with homo-erotica imagery and metaphor (Lestat *really* loves him some Louie). I've also caught her on Bill Maher's old show "Politically Incorrect."

She had a column in the New York Times recently, during which she painted a deep, cultural portrait of New Orleans. She covered the poverty and violence with a nice shade of "tolerance had always been able to outweigh prejudice, where patience had always been able to outweigh rage."

And, I might add, a place where poor black children spend hours a day entertaining tourists for coins by tapping on sidewalks with ragged tennis shoes adorned with bottle caps. A place where anyone at two in the morning can be offered a rock of crack for $10, as I once was (and yes, I declined).

Nonetheless, like Richard Simmons and the Manning brothers, Rice speaks with a honest love of her hometown. She then turns a cutting eye to her country:
But to my country I want to say this: During this crisis you failed us. You looked down on us; you dismissed our victims; you dismissed us. You want our Jazz Fest, you want our Mardi Gras, you want our cooking and our music. Then when you saw us in real trouble, when you saw a tiny minority preying on the weak among us, you called us "Sin City," and turned your backs.
I have no idea why or where she got this impression. There has been an overwhelming outpour of love and aid to her colorful home. Someone needed to point this out to her. Thankfully, Jim Geraghty did more than that. He took a pen and, like a soap opera doctor treating an overacting patient, he slapped her across the face:

But it’s not like state and local officials could have seen this coming. They have never had a hurricane bearing down on them before and… oh, wait, there was Hurricane Ivan just last year. And after that dodged bullet, Blanco and Nagin both acknowledged they needed a better evacuation plan.

I would note that we’ve seen some pretty intense disasters in other parts of the country, like planes crashing into skyscrapers and subsequently collapsing, earthquakes, tornadoes, blizzards, and yet somehow, none of these disasters had the total breakdown of law and order, civil society, etc. Jonah Goldberg’s early joke about a Mad-Max style post-apocalyptic tribal anarchy may have been in poor taste, but it has turned out to be nightmarishly prescient.

We failed you? No, oh brilliant creator of Exit to Eden, you failed. You might not think of it this way, but: Your leaders failed to upgrade the levees. You elected a bunch of weepers and blame-shifters who lost their head in a crisis.

You have to read the whole thing to feel the full sting.

My sympathies to Rice and others who feel sorrow at the damage to their home. But your country is responding. Don't pretend it is not.

And yes, I will still read your next book.

What happened when in New Orleans

posted by Rob at 12:44 PM

It was down when I tried to read it earlier this week, but it appears Rightwing Huthouse is back with its in-depth "KATRINA: RESPONSE TIMELINE."

The report details what happened when and who said what from Friday, August 26, until Friday, September 2. It answers a lot of questions and clarifies several contentions from the past week, including (emphasis in original):

Overnight, New Orleans city officials consider whether or not to use the Ernest E. Morial Convention Center as an additional refuge for survivors:

City officials said they might open the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center as a temporary refuge to shelter an estimated 50,000 people made homeless by the storm.

This is the first mention by city officials of using the Convention Center, a shelter not listed in the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan nor listed in any other public statements as a place of refuge for residents. As of 9/7, there is no evidence city officials ever told FEMA or LA Homeland Security officials that they planned to use the Center to house evacuees. Revised 9/7

In an interview with Hugh Hewitt on 9/7, Fox News Correspondent Major Garrett reports that the American Red Cross was ready to go to the Superdome “on Monday or Tuesday” to assist in the relief of the 25,000 people who had taken refuge there but were prevented by the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security from doing so. According to Garrett and this FAQ at the Red Cross website, the reason given was because their presence “would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.” Revised 9/8
An invaluable peice of work. Thanks RW Nuthouse.

Charles Krauthammer Points His Finger

posted by Rob at 10:34 AM

At those to primarily blame for the disaster in New Orleans. It's a great read:
2. The governor. It's her job to call up the National Guard and get it to where it has to go. Where the Guard was in the first few days is a mystery. Indeed, she issued an authorization for the National Guard to commandeer school buses to evacuate people on Wednesday afternoon -- more than two days after the hurricane hit and after much of the fleet had already drowned in its parking lots.

He also points a finger at Bush, deservedly so:
4. The president. Late, slow, and simply out of tune with the urgency and magnitude of the disaster. The second he heard that the levees had been breached in New Orleans, he should have canceled his schedule and addressed the country on national television to mobilize it both emotionally and physically to assist in the disaster. His flyover on the way to Washington was the worst possible symbolism. And his Friday visit was so tone-deaf and politically disastrous that he had to fly back three days later.
Note he faults Bush primarily from a purely political standpoint.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Another "It's Bush's Fault!" argument struck down

posted by Rob at 9:09 AM

Bush-haters have several cliched arguments as to why the tragedy in New Orleans is all the president's fault. A friend listed several in an e-mail to me, including this one:
-Giving millionares tax cuts had to result in state and local funding cuts, New Orleans requested improving its coastal defenses, (not just levees), via plans from the army corps of engineers and instead of pouring money in Bush and fellow reps cut funding
Now enter this report from the Washinton Post (emphasis mine):
But over the five years of President Bush's administration, Louisiana has received far more money for Corps civil works projects than any other state, about $1.9 billion; California was a distant second with less than $1.4 billion, even though its population is more than seven times as large.

Much of that Louisiana money was spent to try to keep low-lying New Orleans dry. But hundreds of millions of dollars have gone to unrelated water projects demanded by the state's congressional delegation and approved by the Corps, often after economic analyses that turned out to be inaccurate. Despite a series of independent investigations criticizing Army Corps construction projects as wasteful pork-barrel spending, Louisiana's representatives have kept bringing home the bacon. ...

The Post goes on to report on one example:

The Industrial Canal lock is one of the agency's most controversial projects, sued by residents of a New Orleans low-income black neighborhood and cited by an alliance of environmentalists and taxpayer advocates as the fifth-worst current Corps boondoggle. In 1998, the Corps justified its plan to build a new lock -- rather than fix the old lock for a tiny fraction of the cost -- by predicting huge increases in use by barges traveling between the Port of New Orleans and the Mississippi River.

In fact, barge traffic on the canal had been plummeting since 1994, but the Corps left that data out of its study. And barges have continued to avoid the canal since the study was finished, even though they are visiting the port in increased numbers.

There are some examples cited of Bush offering and Congress giving less money than requested from Louisiana politicans. But this sums it up:
Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, the chief of the Corps, has said that in any event, more money would not have prevented the drowning of the city, since its levees were designed to protect against a Category 3 storm, and the levees that failed were already completed projects.

Blame Game heats up

posted by Rob at 8:17 AM

CNN has a report up on its latest poll on Katrina. It involves 609 adults polled by telephone September 5-6 (emphasis mine):
Respondents also disagreed widely on who is to blame for the problems in the city following the hurricane - 13 percent said Bush, 18 percent said federal agencies, 25 percent blamed state or local officials and 38 percent said no one is to blame. And 63 percent said they do not believe anyone at federal agencies responsible for handling emergencies should be fired as a result.
I saw on CBS's morning program that they have a poll out which really lays into Bush. I don't remember its specifics and have yet to find a story on the poll at

Over at, they didn't poll random people for an answer. It spoke to "experts":
But experts say when natural disasters strike, it is the primary responsibility of state and local governments — not the federal government — to respond.

New Orleans' own comprehensive emergency plan raises the specter of "having large numbers of people … stranded" and promises "the city … will utilize all available resources to quickly and safely evacuate threatened areas."

"Special arrangements will be made to evacuate persons unable to transport themselves," the plan states.

When Hurricane Katrina hit, however, that plan was not followed completely.

Meanwhile, Howard Dean is now joining the small but growing ranks of the race-card playing fringe.

"We must ... come to terms with the ugly truth that skin color, age and economics played a deadly role in who survived and who did not," Dean said.

Dean said Americans have a moral responsibility to not ignore the devastating damage caused by Hurricane Katrina when it struck the Gulf Coast.

Well Gov. Dean. They're not. From the Red Cross:
As of Sept. 7, 2005, it has received $485 million in gifts and pledges for the hurricane relief effort, $251 million of which has been received online.
You can click here for more stories of Americans fulfilling their "moral responsibility" before Dean said they should.

While I fully support this wonderfully named website, I did catch a bit of his show last night. I can't find a transcript of it yet, but one segment with two black guests focused on the race-baiting surrounding Katrina. One of the guests was an editor with Amsterdam News, a conspiratist in the mold of Kayne West. The other guest was a columnist.

Bill made the editor look clueless, foolish and full of hate. She really was misinformed and ignorant. If the transcript ever appears online, I'll post it.