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My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.
|"I Keep Trying To Get Out, But They Keep Sucking Me Back In!!!"|
Poor Ken Salazar. I have noted before how his act of trying to live in the world of Washington Democrats at the same time as representing Colorado had to be a difficult one to maintain. Today we have more evidence of that dichotomy.
During a conference call with reporters, Salazar said he would oppose Janice Rogers Brown or Priscilla Owen, two U.S. circuit court judges the U.S. Senate recently installed on the bench following a blistering confirmation process.
"This president, frankly, sometimes acts like a king," Salazar said. "He's imperious. He believes he controls Washington and controls our country, and does so sometimes in a way that, it's his way or the highway, and doesn't take into account what other people are thinking...when they have a different point of view or are (from) a different party."
Well, isn't that SPECIAL?
First, he makes a campaign promise; then he joins the Seven Dwarves striking a deal preserving the possibility of a filibuster while temporarily foreswearing it; then he introduces Alberto Gonzalez to the Senate JudComm; then he votes in favor of John Roberts; then he makes this outrageous statement.
No matter how hard he works to maintain the appearance of moderation for his constituents, he keeps getting "sucked back in" by the Washington establishment, much like Al Pacino in "The Godfather, Part 3"
The quote above isn't even the most ridiculous thing he said in this conference call. That prize goes to this:
Salazar wants the president to publicly release the so-called "short list" of Supreme Court candidates before making an official nomination, which could come at any time.
Really? What right does he have to ask for anything from this President, who, according to the story, has already had conversations with more than 80 Senators?
More to the point, what sort of gall does it take to ask the President to contribute to the opposition research? Sure . . .why not??? Here's the people you guys should start looking at--in a few days, I'll tell you which one to actually focus on.
Of course, there was also this:
"I'd hope that if the president does move forward with someone like Janice Rogers Brown, many Republicans would join us in basically telling the president, ‘No, we won't accept somebody who is professionally unqualified and is an ideologue.'"
Is that the same ideologue who just passed the Senate with 56 votes? The same ideologue who was reelected in hopelessly liberal California by 70%? The same unqualified professional who has served on the California Supreme Court for years?
Ah, Senator Salazar . . . Sort of like trying to dance to Stravinsky, don't you think?
You know, the problem with straddling the fence is that it only takes one foot slipping to cause you to fall, and we all know what body part hits first when you do.
|"It Says So Right In The Referendum . . . "|
Supporters of Referenda C and D are running a television ad right now saying that C and D are not tax increases because, and I quote, "it says so right in the text."
Well, that's good enough for me.
But let's just work through this one.
If I go to buy a movie, for instance, and the clerk estimates that it will cost me $20, but it only rings up as $15, how much do I actually pay for it? Or, better yet, what kind of a fool would I have to be to not expect to get $5 back from the clerk?
So if the clerk decides to keep the extra $5, no matter what for, doesn't that become for me a price increase? The clerk may have other plans for that $5, but in the end I'm still $20 lighter in the pocket.
Sounds like a price hike to me.
Looks like a tax increase, smells like a tax increase, quacks like a tax increase . . .
|A Word About 22% and the "Mainstream"|
John G. Roberts was confirmed and sworn in today as Chief Justice of the United States' Supreme Court by a vote of 78-22. All 55 Republicans voted for his confirmation, as well as 22 (of 44) Democrats and one Independent.
So, do you remember when the battle cry on the Left was that they could not vote for anyone who was not a "mainstream" conservative? That he was clearly "out of the mainstream" of judicial thought? Well, just what does it say about the mainstream when 78% of the Senate votes in favor of him? You would have to have a pretty unusual stream for the far left 22% to be the "main" part of the stream.
But, more importantly, what does that portend for the next battle? If the bulk of the Senate Dems get in line with the 22% who are already identified as "out of the mainstream," then do they lose any legitimacy in this argument?
Now, I realize logic is not the strong suit of liberals, so let me slow down a bit and, as my teacher used to say in Algebra class, show my work:
:by any reasonable definition, 78% is clearly the "mainstream"
:which renders the remaining 22% as "out of the mainstream"
:given that they've already identified themselves as out of the mainstream, these 22% are no longer qualified to speak on or label anything or anybody "mainstream"
:so if the other 22 Democrats align themselves with this group, aren't they likewise identifying themselves as "out of the mainstream"?
Which is all just a long way of getting around to the point that the Democrats are really stuck in a corner on the next nominee. Anybody short of a Robert Bork, and in particular a woman or minority, has a fairly easy road to establish that they belong in the "mainstream." And given the near certainty (in my opinion) that this President will keep his word and nominate a solid conservative, I would say it's also nearly certain that a filibuster is in the offing.
And I don't think the American people are going to buy that the Senate has an obligation to NOT VOTE on a nominee; nor do I think the Gang of 14 can hold together through this sort of highly visible public battle.
|The Voice Of Leadership|
One thing that has been lost, I think, in the aftermath of Katrina and the scandals of New Orleans, is the fact that the storm actually made landfall in Mississippi and did massive damage there, too. But an effective governor--Haley Barbour--and state and local officials have limited the residual destruction, and now the governor has addressed a special session of the state legislature. I have chose a few choice excerpts here, though I would try to find the whole thing if I were you. (The speech was actually sent to me via e-mail, so I don't have a link; it shouldn't be hard to find)
Thank you. Governor Tuck, Speaker McCoy, ladies andgentlemen of the Legislature....Fellow Mississippians.
Just over four weeks ago, Hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster in American history, struck our GulfCoast and South Mississippi a grievous blow.
Ourstate... our citizens, bore the brunt of a hurricanemore devastating than Camille, and the miles uponmiles of utter destruction is unimaginable, except tothose who have witnessed it with their own eyes, onthe ground.
In her wake, Katrina left literally tens of thousandsof uninhabitable, often obliterated homes; thousandsof small businesses in shambles; dozens of schools andpublic buildings ruined and unusable; highways andports and railroads; water and sewer systems, all destroyed. . . .
But in the last month I've learned that an awful disaster, with its myriad of tragedies for individuals and families, also brings out the best in most people. And that has surely been the case in our state.
What a debt we owe those first responders who riskedall to save lives that Monday evening. The localfiremen and policemen, EMTs - many of whom lost theirown homes that day in the storm - were that night rescuing their neighbors. The column of state law enforcement officer - highway patrolmen, narcotics agents, investigators - who, with several hundredNational Guardsmen, left Hattiesburg Monday afternoonled by MDOT crews who cut a lane open on Highway49...7 1/2 hours to go 60 miles, but that night they joined local police and firemen in search and rescue,and to crack down on looting.
The stories of ordinary people displaying extraordinary courage and uncommon selflessness are,well, extremely common. The conservation officers intheir boats searching the trees and roofs and rescuing people from the flood waters Monday; the Waveland police, whose plan was to ride out the storm in theirheadquarters, who got up on the roof when the building flooded and swam off into the raging sea when thebuilding collapsed...clung to trees or debris to save their own lives...and that very night, their own homes destroyed, were on duty, saving their neighbors; or the Coast Guard helicopter crews from Mobile, who flew in Monday to conduct search and rescue operations on the Coast... fearless young men, who hung from helicopters, on ropes, dangling through air, in the dark that first night, pulling people from roofs and trees. By the first Friday these Coast Guard daredevils had lifted 1700 Mississippians to safety by hoisting them into helicopters.
Some of the men and women who performed these heroic deeds are with us today. To them, and the literally hundreds and thousands of genuine heroes whom they represent, your state and a grateful people thank you. Because of heroes like these the death toll from Katrina, while too high and still not final, is remarkably low compared to the immense destruction.
The local officials, who ordered mandatory evacuations, saved lives. And the thousands of inland families who took in friends and families, before Katrina struck, made it possible for their friends and loved ones to be safe.
Before I discuss the agenda for this extraordinary session, I am obliged, honored and pleased to thank our sister states, the federal government and the American people. Katrina is the biggest disaster ever, and the outpouring of support and generosity from ourfellow citizens is also the largest in history. Here,today I want our fellow Americans to know all your efforts and your contributions have helped tremendously, and we are tremendously grateful.
The State of Florida's elite search and rescue team was on the ground the first night, joining our local and state people, saving lives. For weeks there were 600 Florida law enforcement officers, helping protect lives and property on the Coast. Sheriff Steve Garberof Hancock County says they were indispensable.
Indeed, Governor Bush and Florida have set the curve, but so many other states have done so much. North Carolina's Med-One portable hospital; Georgia'sinvestigators and Ohio's search and rescue teams;National Guard units from nearly 20 states had boots on the ground... Alabama sent two MP units whileMobile was still flooded.
As Governor, I'm personally moved by it all.When President Bush was here the third time we toured a faith-based feeding station; where hundreds of displaced people were eating a hot meal. I met a fellow from Vermont, a truck driver. He and 16 othertruck drivers had driven down from Vermont, a small state, very far away, to deliver 17 trailers of food to Gulfport. I couldn't believe it... 17 tractor-trailers all the way from Vermont. Then, he told me it was his third trip.
Yes, the American people are being very generous, andI want them to know we need the help to get through this disaster, and we genuinely appreciate it.
We appreciate, too, the efforts by the federalgovernment. From those young Coast Guardsmen that first night to the U.S. Department of Transportation,which provided all the fuel for all our emergency operations and responders from the end of week one to the Seabees, who've just been spectacular in helping get us on the road to recovery.
During the relief and recovery stages the federal government has pumped resources in to help us. Their efforts have been enormous. Those efforts haven't been perfect, but our efforts haven't been perfect either. I expect every mayor or supervisor will tell you local governments haven't been perfect either. But I'll tell you this: .Those local officials are trying; they're serving their people; they're leading in the midst of a carnage they never expected to confront. They make me proud
And the people they represent make me even prouder. From Pascagoula to Pass Christian, from Waveland to Waynesboro, from Meridian to Moss Point, from Pearlington to Petal, Mississippians consistently display resilience and self-reliance. Our people aren't whining or moping around, they're not into victimhood. From the very beginning Mississippians have been helping themselves, and God bless them,helping their neighbors. The unselfish, even selfless attitude of people who've lost everything is awe-inspiring to me.
Katrina did not discriminate. It leveled rich neighborhoods and poor neighborhoods. It knocked down the mighty as hard as it clobbered the lowly. Black or white, Vietnamese orHispanics...Katrina leveled them all.
And it seems they all came through the devastation with a commitment to their neighbors as well as to their home communities. One consistent theme I hear from those who volunteer a lot in the disaster area is how unselfish the affected people are, and how they are concerned for others.
I have several thoughts about this speech. One, this sort of speech, on the heels of his handling of the crisis, should propel Haley Barbour to the national stage. Mississippi has been poor stepchild of Louisiana in this whole affair, and it, and he, seem to have pulled it together awfully quickly and awfully effectively.
Two, you wonder if the MSM hadn't been so focused on inventing a scandal in NOLA, if we wouldn't have heard a great many more stories of individual heroism and nobility, rather than the now debunked reporting about the lowest common demoninators. I would be suprised if such grace under pressure were limited to Mississippi, and yet the picture we got of Louisiana is of a lawless and cheap society. In the way that 9/11 galvanized this country around its heros, Katrina could have done the same, but that didn't fit the MSM meme, now, did it?
At any rate, keep your eye on Haley Barbour. He speaks with the voice of a true leader.
|A Clinic On Handling A Scandal|
Tom Delay--in case you've been in a cave all day--was indicted today for violations of Texas campaign finance laws. This has forced him to step down from his post as House Majority Leader (in accordance with House GOP rules). Here's Delay's reaction:
These charges have no basis in the facts or the law. This is just another example of Ronnie Earle misusing his office for partisan vendettas. Despite the clearly political agenda of this prosecutor, Congressman DeLay has cooperated with officials throughout the entire process. Even in the last two weeks, Ronnie Earle himself had acknowledged publicly that Mr. DeLay was not a target of his investigation. However, as with many of Ronnie Earle's previous partisan investigations, Ronnie Earle refused to let the facts or the law get in the way of his partisan desire to indict a political foe.
This purely political investigation has been marked by illegal grand jury leaks, a fundraising speech by Ronnie Earle for Texas Democrats that inappropriately focused on the investigation, misuse of his office for partisan purposes, and extortion of money for Earle's pet projects from corporations in exchange for dismissing indictments he brought against them. Ronnie Earle's previous misuse of his office has resulted in failed prosecutions and we trust his partisan grandstanding will strike out again, as it should.
Ronnie Earle's 1994 indictment against Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison was quickly dismissed and his charges in the 1980s against former Attorney General Jim Mattox-another political foe of Earle-fell apart at trial.
We regret the people of Texas will once again have their taxpayer dollars wasted on Ronnie Earle's pursuit of headlines and political paybacks. Ronnie Earle began this investigation in 2002, after the Democrat Party lost the Texas state legislature to Republicans. For three years and through numerous grand juries, Ronnie Earle has tried to manufacture charges against Republicans involved in winning those elections using arcane statutes never before utilized in a case in the state. This indictment is nothing more than prosecutorial retribution by a partisan Democrat.
Delay then followed up this statement with a live press conference. And then, just to be sure, he appears on the set of FoxNews unannounced in the last ten minutes of Brit Hume's show for a live interview.
This is not behavior of a man who has anything to hide. On the other hand, his approach is doing a great deal to draw attention to the actions, both past and present, of Ronnie Earle, the DA who asked for this indictment. At the very least, the quick read on this has to be a bit suspect, especially given the vagueness of the indictment and the anrcane nature of campaign finance laws to begin with.
Like the Hutchinson endictment of 1994, I would hope and expect that a judge will look at this indictment and file it in the round drawer pretty quickly.
Also, I hope the White House is watching this--their PR game has been WEAK for the last several months, and their response to scandal and criticism has been late and wishy-washy. It's time for the WH to get its act together and respond to its critics the way Delay--and, to a lesser degree, Sen. Bill Frist--has responded: quickly, forcefully, and unequivocally.
|Ben Has The Goods|
Let me give you a tease, before I send you over to his site for the full story:
Amid a heated election contest to suspend taxpayer refunds, a leading Colorado Senate Democrat has moved forward in her plan to urge voters to adopt another tax increase to fund K-12 education.
At a Tuesday meeting, an Interim School Finance Committee composed of 10 state lawmakers agreed to proceed with crafting legislation recommending Colorado voters approve a new funding source to finance the state’s schools. Committee chair Senator Sue Windels (D - Arvada) proposed the idea, which she styled as “Referendum E.”
I guess it just makes sense: if they're going to argue that C & D aren't a tax hike, they might as well actually ask for a full-blown tax-hike to go along with it.
Good reporting, Ben.
Being a political junkie, I am an unfortunately easy sucker for dramatized politics. It was this propensity that compelled me to tune in to "Commander In Chief"--the new Geena Davis vehicle--tonight.
Let me rephrase that: it was that propensity that UNFORTUNATELY compelled me to tune in tonight.
Before even dealing with the politics--carefully shielded but still evident--behind the show, just from the standpoint of drama this was a bad hour. The dialogue was poorly done, the production quality was lacking, and the characters were only slightly likeable or interesting or. . . well, anything.
Just to give a one scene example: the closing act was the new President addressing a joint session of Congress. In the hallway outside the chamber Davis asks her onscreen hubby something like "Do you hate me?" (the difficulties of the transition was one of the sub-texts (YAWN)), to which he replies "No. Now, go win the country" after which they embrace in a aunt-with-the-mustache-type hug. Davis is announced, and walks into the chamber, past the four or five rows of legislators (small Congress, I guess) into a completely antiseptically-lit room with very little in the way of camera flashes, onto the podium where she delivers a speech during which--GASP--the teleprompters go blank!!!AUGHHGHGHGH. Donald Sutherland, sitting behind her as Speaker of the House, smiles conspiratorially. In all, it was just barely professional.
If this show is attempting to inherit the fading legacy of The West Wing, it falls far short. Regardless of its politics, TWW always LOOKS completely authentic and the dialogue is without a doubt the most intelligent on tv (again, regardless of the politics). CINC. . . not so much.
The politics were too carefully protected--Davis is supposed to be an independent whose role as VPOTUS was lttle more than a political stunt. But you can pick up the subtext: Sutherland is menacing as a conservative Speaker "just to the right of Genghis Khan" and a list of scandals included "Watergate, Iran-Contra Gate, and WMD-gate." And the central conflict of the show is this President's commitment to freeing a Nigerian woman in Nigeria from a death sentence for adultery according to Nigerian law. . .to which she is willing to commit special forces from the central fleet.
Disappointing. I like Geena Davis--she strikes me as a smart and classy woman whose great work as a quirky character actor in such movies as "The Accidental Tourist" and a very credible turn as an action star in "The Long Kiss Goodnight" earned her my respect as an actress. But this is bad, and she also gets credits as associate producer, so . . .
|And In The Category of "Stupidest Thing Said In A 'News' Article . . ."|
We have this entry from Ellen Knickmeyer of the Washington Post:
Violent attacks -- unknown before the invasion -- have killed more than 3,000 since late spring.
(full disclosure--this is actually the caption an the website, so I don't know if the attribution to Knickmeyer is fair or not)
3,000 since late spring, huh? Let's see . . .let's assume "late spring" means May--so that time frame is roughly five months. Which would make the annuitized rate of violent deaths about 7,200.
Okay. Saddam was in charge for about thirty years, and so far, we've found mass graves for about 400,000 Iraqis. That puts the annuitized rate under Saddam at about 13,000 per year.
7,200 . . . .13,000. Huh. "Unkown before the invasion?" Oh, maybe it's the whole "violent" thing.
Well, that doesn't quite hold up either, does it? Can anybody credibly argue that those who died in Saddam's torture chambers didn't die violently? How about the Kurds? Not violent?
Thus the entry this category.
|Well, It COULD Have Been True|
Following days of internationally reported murders, rapes and gang violence inside the stadium, the doctor from FEMA — Beron doesn't remember his name — came prepared for a grisly scene: He brought a refrigerated 18-wheeler and three doctors to process bodies.
"I've got a report of 200 bodies in the Dome," Beron recalled the doctor saying.
The real total?
Six, Beron said.
Of those, four died of natural causes, one overdosed and another jumped to his death in an apparent suicide, said Beron, . . .
I wonder how long it will take the MSM to come around to reporting how pathetic their performance was in the whole Hurricane Katrina aftermath.
GOT THAT----SIX!!! That's the sum total of dead at the Superdome. Gang fights? nope. Gang rapes? nope. Children raped and murdered? apparently not.
So from a death count of 10,000 down to a more accurate count of about 1,000; from "Escape from New Orleans"-like conditions in the Superdome to, well, bad but not hellish; and from a poor chap having to suffer while his mother died over the course of four days to, well, she died on the first day and never actually was in contact with him.
The pattern was to make this look like the worst thing that ever happened in America, all while doing everything they could to cover for the incompetent local authorities who should have been taking care of their own people. When it all comes and goes with only a whisp of truth to it, the press will just move on to something different and, you know, . . .
|Colorado's Junior Senator Announces His Position|
Ken Salazar has stated his intentions to vote to confirm John Roberts to be Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar said Sunday that he will support John Roberts for Supreme Court chief justice, in part because he believes the Republican nominee recognizes Roe vs. Wade as the law of the land.
Salazar said that Roberts, in a one-on-one meeting with him Friday, made assurances in five key areas, including the landmark 1973 decision on abortion.
"In the West, you take people on their word," Salazar said. "I don't think he will vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade."
This isn't the first time a Democratic Senator has said he received personal assurances in a private meeting that nobody anywhere is able to verify. So spake Pat Leahy:
"Judge Roberts is a man of integrity. I can only take him at his word that he does not have an ideological agenda."
He left me with the understanding that he would not seek to overrule or undercut the right of a woman to choose. I trust that he is a person of honor and integrity and that he will act accordingly. "
This seems to be the playbook: rely on unverifiable testimony, characterize it in a certain way that makes Roberts appear almost pro-life, and hope he'll try to live up to the way they've painted him. I'm fairly sure it won't work: I neither believe them that Roberts said he would leave precedent alone, nor do I think he would be so foolish as to commit himself to a certain vote years before a case comes before him.
What I do think is that this is part of a long-term strategy. It seems almost certain that there will be one, two, or even three more Supreme Court vacancies to fill in the next three years, and I think the Dems are trying to lay the groundwork for saying that they were betrayed by Judge Roberts, and are therefore justified in whatever tactic they choose to take for future nominations.
As for Salazar, again he efforts to straddle the line between Washington Democrats and his Colorado constituency. This particular action seems to be shrewd from that standpoint; but he will take a hit in support from the moonbat wing of the party--not his first--and it remains to be seen if he's left himself the flexibility to do this dance again.
|The Democrats Cheated?!? Say It Ain't So!|
Prompted by a press release from the office of Ken Lambert, I did a quick google search and found this:
A Democratic political committee which compared a 2004 Republican House candidate to the "smarmy" Eddie Haskell on Leave it to Beaver was recently fined $36,000 - by far the largest levy in Colorado political history. . .
The fine was levied by Administrative Law Judge Matthew Norwood against the Alliance for Colorado Families, which raised almost $1 million during last year's campaigns from Tim Gill, Pat Stryker and other wealthy Democrats. . .
After Lambert lost, the El Paso County GOP chairman sued Alliance for Colorado's Families on his behalf, noting that its contributors gave far more than the $500 individual limit on gifts to political committees.
The alliance, a "527" group, claimed it wasn't really a political committee because its major purpose wasn't taking sides on candidates.
But, said the judge, according to Colorado law a political committee is a group that's accepted or made made expenditures of more than $200 to back or attack a candidate.
And the alliance clearly had.
I would hope that this would be just the first in many such suits against the Alliance. In my own district, Jessica Corry was hammered by (by my count) 5 full-color, glossy mailings which played pretty loosely with the facts, and were clearly designed to champion her defeat. I don't have any idea how much such mailings cost, but they should be substantial enough to warrant a noticable judgment against the Alliance. And, at any rate, it isn't about the fine--that's pretty much pocket change to Rutt Bridges--but multiple findings of campaign law violations should make a fairly forceful point to the Colorado electorate next time around.
I would also hope that the state GOP uses this ruling, and those that follow, as a powerful weapon in the next election campaign. Something along the lines of "What does it say about this shadow committee that it works exclusively--AND ILLEGALLY--on behalf of Democrats? What does it say about Democrats that they need illegal help to but elections?"
|When Everyone Says "You're Drunk . . ."|
You should sit down . . .
I rarely find much in the WaPo editorials that I agree with. But the way the ed. board excoriates Dems over John Roberts is a thing of beauty--and should be used by every GOP talking head for the next time around.
. . .Supporting overwhelmingly qualified members of the opposite party for the Supreme Court used to be the norm, not an act of courage. Yet, set against the general opposition from Democrats to the nomination, and truly intense pressure from interest groups, the votes cast by ranking Democrat Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.) and Wisconsin's Herb Kohl and Russell Feingold took guts.
The larger Democratic opposition to Judge Roberts represents a disturbing departure from longtime Senate practice. Of the current members of the court, only Justice Clarence Thomas had substantial opposition. The other seven, including Justices John Paul Stevens and Antonin Scalia, received among them only one no vote in committee; six of them, in other words, received unanimous committee endorsement. The seven received, again among all of them, only 21 negative votes on the floor. In refusing to support an indisputably qualified conservative, Democrats send a message that there is a strongly partisan component of the task of judging -- something those who believe in independent, apolitical courts must reject.
This begs the question: where was the WaPo during the filibuster-fest of the last three years?
Also, if this is how the mouthpieces are talking, I would expect--perhaps demand--that the President appoint a similarly superbly qualified, DEMONSTRABLY CONSERVATIVE, judge for the remaining opening on the Court. If the President can find another judge who is as overwhelmingly qualified (read: Michael Luttig) for the post, he should appoint that person forthwith. Let the American public see a Democratic party unwilling to recognize and reward outstanding achievement--and perhaps even try to stop the Senate from doing its duty through a filibuster. Let the American public see the out-of-control partisanship that has become the hallmark of the 21st century Democratic Party. Then let's see what happens--AGAIN--at the ballot box.
By the way, was there any more ridiculous moment during Judge Roberts' hearings last week than when Chuck Schumer accused him of being unable to understand "normal" people because his whole life has been a testiment to overachievement? Yep, there's the message we want our children to hear: don't work too hard today because someday you might be compassion-challenged against the slackers who you're making look bad. In fact, why don't you go sit in the corner and consider how bad you're making the other kids feel because you're doing what you're supposed to and making them look bad.
I'm willing to bet that that's not really the message Schumer was trying to convey; he's a little too smart to say something that stupid. But it is indicative of the whole underlying philosophy of the Left, so you have to wonder what got into him. Perhaps a scandal-induced Freudian slip?
After Rita makes landfall, its forward motion will slow, and the weakening hurricane may stall across northeastern Texas or northwestern Louisiana by Sunday causing catastrophic flooding for several days across East Texas, Louisiana, and possibly Mississippi and Arkansas. . .
Storm surge of as high as 20-25 feet is possible along the coast near and to the right of landfall. In addition, 8-16 inches of rain can accompany the storm into eastern Texas and western Louisiana, with perhaps even higher amounts should the storm stall inland as mentioned above. These higher rainfall amounts would occur over the weekend into early next week.
Everybody say a little prayer tonight--this could get very. VERY. Bad.
Texas has 26 refineries that account for more than one-fourth of the nation's refining capacity, mostly along 300 miles of Gulf Coast from the Louisiana border to Corpus Christi.
If I were a terrorist right now, I wouldn't be thinking too much about New York or Washington; I would be thinking about the Gulf Coast region.
--a major, if not THE major drag on an otherwise robust U.S. economy for the last year has been the price of energy, from gasoline to home heating fuel
--Katrina shut down production in Louisiana (NOT the major U.S. production center) and it caused prices at the pump to spike by anywhere from 30 to 50 percent
--China and North Korea are very comfortable with the role of antagonist, and one of the reasons gasoline has been so expensive lately is the increased demand from China
--the American psychology is already deeply scarred right now, and a terrorist strike would very likely cause incalculable political damage to the President and his supporters, perhaps returning American policy to the "good old days" of the 90's law-enforcement model
--I know nothing about security, but it seems to me that 1,500 oil platforms in the Gulf make a very difficult target to protect
--America has not built an oil refinery in thirty years; our capacity to disperse our energy needs across regions and sectors in the event of an attack is almost nonexistent.
I'm not trying to be an alarmist; I think I'm just pointing out the obvious: this hurricane season has highlit many ways in which the U.S. is remarkably ill-prepared in the long haul for a strategically smart and agressive enemy. I am a strong subscriber to the "good offense" theory of waging war, but even a great puncher has to be able to withstand a few good punches.
Now, the segue to the solution:
It would seem that a smart candidate for office would make a major part of his platform an effort to attract energy business to his state--both for the national security contribution and straightforward economic self-interest. Clearly, I don't understand all of the infrastructure demands of such a thing, but it seems that a forceful case could be made to attempt to attract refining capacity and alternative resources (nuclear power generation) to make a state a regional power in the generation of energy.
A good candidate could make a compelling argument that could overcome "NIMBY-ism" in the national interest; and, for the sake of his constituents, long-term independence from foreign oil, protection from vulnerability to regional upheavals, and energy-sector leadership should appeal to the self-interest of any electorate. Likewise, in the wake of Katrina and Rita, any opponent who takes up a straight-forward environmental argument could easily be painted as an extremist.
I'm not saying expand Commerce City to include everything east of Tower Road; I'm just saying that there should be some room somewhere in the vast desolation of Colorado's eastern plains for a nuclear generator or a couple oil refineries (again, with a nod to my lack of infrustructure knowledge).
Just a thought. This is an issue that seems to have politicians wringing their hands, but none of them step out and take leadership on the issue. ANWAR is a decent first step, but it is altogether inadeqate for the long run. Real, long-term strategic planning of this sort requires leadership, and since precious little of that is coming from Washington, perhaps it needs to come from somewhere else.
Say, the Governor's office of one of the square flyover states that has vast tracts of unpopulated space.
|Colorado Is Doing Just Fine, Thank You|
In case you missed the news, this, according to Saturday's Rocky Mountain News.
Colorado's work force in August swelled to a record level for the month - 2.233 million workers - while the state's unemployment rate dropped to 5 percent from 5.3 percent in July.
The latest numbers also showed that Colorado's nonfarm work force is only about 15,000 workers shy of its all-time high - reached in December 2000, before the state's economy hit hard times due to the bursting of the Internet bubble. . . .
The increases add to evidence that the state continues to distance itself from the hardships faced in 2002 and 2003, when Colorado lost 75,000 jobs in each of those years.
Kinda makes that whole "urgent need to change TABOR" look a little less compelling. So now the case is simply that the State GOVERNMENT is going to have less money without a change--the solution to which is, of course, YOU having less money.
Again, I say, why isn't Governor Owens out there touting the successes of his economy, instead of trying to dismantle one of the key components of that?
And, speaking of governors, I noticed GOP candidate Marc Holtzmann on the tellie, working to defeat Referenda C and D. Bold move--shows some gumption and leadership. Also makes you wonder where the other candidate is on this issue right now.
|Just Another Popular Uprising, part II|
The strange phenomenon that has become Cindy Sheehan took another twist today.
Mrs Sheehan was joined by about 30 supporters in her march down Pennsylvania Avenue to deliver a letter to Bush urging him to pull the troops out of Iraq. [via Reuters via Confederate Yankee via Powerline].
Yeah, you read that right, THIRTY supporters. What a joke.
A sad joke; strangely emblematic of what happens to people whose 15 minutes has been stretched too far by the press.
We can continue to feel sorry for her--the death of a child is something that nobody can possibly say they understand. The very thought of burying one of my children steals the breath from my lungs and freezes my heart.
But we should be outraged at the Michael Moores and the rest of them who used her in their own cynical chess game, and then abandoned her as soon as they had a new pitch to swing at.
leaving town for a couple days. Be sure to stay up-to-date on all the local happenings with my colleagues in the Rocky Mountain Alliance (see blogroll, right).
|The Gift That Keeps On Giving|
Just when the press was losing interest in New Orleans--you know, at about the same time as it was becoming clear who should be getting the blame--, and the Roberts hearings were losing their luster--at about the same time as it was clear Roberts was going to not only be easily confirmed, but was going to habitually make the Dems look stupid--and we were starting to wonder what the press was going to turn to next . . .
Along comes Michael Newdow.
A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the law requiring the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is unconstitutional and said he was ready to issue an injunction to three California school districts to halt the daily reciting of the pledge.
Terming the case "a cause celebre in the ongoing struggle as to the role of religion in the civil life of this nation," U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that the pledge's reference to "one nation under God" violates children's right to be "free from a coercive requirement to affirm God."
Ah, but wait . . . here's the best part of Judge Karlton's ruling:
In his ruling, which he acknowledged will "satisfy no one involved" in the debate about the role of religion in public life, Karlton said he was bound by precedent from the appeals court, which in 2002 ruled in favor of Newdow that the pledge is unconstitutional when recited in public schools.
Last year, the Supreme Court dismissed the case, . . .
So, um . . .I know I'm just a dumb non-lawyer guy here, but . . . It would seem that if the Supremes dismissed the case (granted, on procedural grounds), then it can no longer be considered precedential material. Or is it just me?
By the way, if you think it doesn't really matter if Judge Roberts gets confirmed, or whether the President picks a strong conservative for the next opening, think again. Only a Court able to make a clear, concise statement on the balance between the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause can put this nonsense to rest, once and for all.
|Fair Is Only Fair|
If the President and FEMA can be blamed for all the horrors of New Orleans--including the 10,000 dead--then shouldn't he also get credit for the fact that 10,000 seems to be a bit overestimated . . . .
Like by a factor of 10-20!!!
I'm not saying that it's actually reasonable to give credit in that fashion. But, is it just possible that this may point out that the response--both local AND federal, as well as personal--might have been just a little bit better than advertised? Maybe--and I know it's still VERY early--the fact that the death toll may be only in the triple digits is a remarkable miracle given the scope of this tragedy.
And maybe the right response for everyone now is to just get down on our knees and pray that the number doesn't climb much more, and to thank God for His mercy.
|The Politics of Naivete--UPDATED|
Or, The Dangers of Keeping Your Eye On The Ball When Playing the Oakland Raiders.
There is no question that the response of the White House, from a political sense, to Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath was inadequate. Why else would there have had to be four trips by either POTUS or VPOTUS to the region in the two weeks since the Hurricane? If memory serves (and I’m sure someone will have some memory of this) it only took the President one trip to Ground Zero to get on top of the politics of 9/11. And, sure, it was easier then—the country was prepared for the President to get out in front of that story. When he had that spontaneous moment with the bullhorn, it was exactly what the country was looking for.
What people seem to forget is that that moment was three days after the attacks. Three days.
Now, I’m not sure who was advising the President on this, but whoever had him do a flyover of New Orleans TWO days after Katrina was just not thinking very well. I would argue that the country (not Washington, mind you—the country) was looking for a little leadership at that moment, also, and just flying over on your way home from vacation was an inadequate response.
Remember, please, I am only talking the politics of the moment.
I know that putting POTUS on the scene of an ongoing disaster in New Orleans was not feasible—yeah, hey, let’s stop all the traffic (?!), divert the police, and place the Secret Service on the ground so POTUS can be here. That would have been stupid and pointless.
But it seems he could have stopped over in Baton Rouge and met with his commanders on the ground, the mayor, the governor, and taken the time to comfort some evacuees. The symbolism of the President flying over was awful, and it allowed all the stories of his detachment from the problem to fester. Think about it: he declares a state of emergency two days ahead of the storm, he asks permission (denied) to federalize ahead of the storm, he makes a personal phone call to beg for an evacuation, but somehow the story sticks that he was detached and aloof from the issues.
Somebody—like the famously Machiavellian Karl Rove—should have recognized that the Dems were laying in wait for a moment like this, and when the White House played into their hands, they pounced like a pack of hyenas on the slow wildebeest.
And then, after it has been obvious what the political fallout was starting to be, the White House is STILL not playing the game very well, at all. I thought a couple weeks ago that the reason for that was that the facts were so overwhelmingly on their side that they figured they could wait and let reality set in to change the perception. But, like concrete, the conventional wisdom hardened too quickly, and they did nothing to stir the pot. Like, what, it was a secret the MSM was going to try to take this presidency down? They’d been at that game for two years!
Like it or not, one of the symbolic jobs of POTUS is that of “comforter-in-chief.” We all saw how effective Bill Clinton was at that after Oklahoma City; we all remember Ronald Reagan’s words after the Challenger explosion; and we rallied behind this President after 9/11. This was another moment when the American people needed to see someone with the power to do something about it—perceived power, at least (we can talk federalism later)—down in the trenches empathizing with victims. And the White House blew it.
And, still, even now, the President has not re-captured the initiative by taking a bold move like Hugh Hewitt suggested; the White House still seems to be in a largely defensive posture and the facts don’t seem to matter very much. And this has only been exacerbated by the inexplicable appointment of Michael Brown to head FEMA. Of course, even that could have been dealt with had the political operation swung into gear quickly (“I’m sorry, David Gregory, but that’s not true; FEMA’s preparations for Katrina were just like their preparations for the quadruple-hurricane hit Florida took last year. Don’t you, in the press, have to ask yourself why it worked in Florida or is working in Mississippi but is not working in New Orleans? What’s the difference?), but they didn’t. So concerned with NOT playing politics that the other team had three touchdowns on them before they broke the huddle.
So, to explain the sub-title of this post: I’m all for keeping your eye on the ball. But when you’re playing the Oakland Raiders, you don’t go over the middle without a flak jacket, and that is precisely what the White House did here. In many respects, it’s their own fault that they’ve taken a cheap shot from a dirty team.
What frightens me is that this has given the Dems the opportunity to redefine “security” for all time. What once was about defending from hostile enemies is starting to become about responding to a crisis, and Hurricane Katrina is now the defining moment of the second term, if not the entire Presidency. And how dangerous would it be for the country to think responding to natural disasters was as important or more for the President than to press the war on terror and see it through to its inevitable conclusion? Picture a President John Kerry, on the ground in New Orleans and overrunning incompetent state bureaucrats to get things done in NO, while pressing for trials before the International Criminal Court for Saddam Hussein, Gitmo detainees and, someday, Osama bin Laden.
THAT is why this moment matters so much politically. The landscape may be changing regardless of the facts, and the White House had better begin to move to the high ground or we’re all gonna get buried.
UPDATE: Well, an up and a down. Down, though only a little: the President has taken responsibility for federal failures in the response to Katrina; up: the President is making a nationally televised speech to the nation on Thursday from New Orleans.
Better call in all speechwriting hands--get Robinson, Noonan, and anybody else with a good track record. This speech makes or breaks the second term.
|You Might Have Noticed . . .|
my cynicism of last night has been replaced by a sort of resolve to redouble my efforts. A sort of anger filled in the gaps, and there was ample material to draw from.
And I would suggest to any and all out there who were disturbed, as I was yesterday, to remember your answers to Hugh's question of 3-1/2 years ago: "How has 9/11 changed you?", and recommit to your answers.
|On Refs C & D|
Something occured to me tonight, as I was ignoring the commercial with Gov. Bill Owens shilling for C&D. And that something is this:
The Governor's decision to support C&D--the $2 billion solution to a $400 million problem--rings too much of denying the success of Republican governance over the past several years. In particular, it faults the very mechanism through which Colorado has, arguably, fostered economic growth and prosperity.
Yes, the state government has had to cut back the last few years--so have most people whose lives were effected by the recession. The fact that Colorado emerged from the recession quicker than the rest of the country, and that through it all our unemployment was less than that of the country in general, should be a pretty good indicator that the state of our economy was always on solid ground. And much of that is due to TABOR.
What? You didn't think a mandatory increase in spending on education was the catalyst for economic stability? Investments like that pay off down the road.
I'm not denying that there's a problem; what I'm saying is that C&D make radical alterations to TABOR which will forever alter the fundamental structures of it. And, in so doing, probably encourage the sort of fiscal irresponsibility TABOR did such a nice job of reining in.
And, I may not know all the details; if there was a way to improve the fiscal state short of C&D, nobody ever made much of a case for it.
My point is this: for the governor who helped draft TABOR as a legislator to support this restructuring is nothing short of an admission of failure, despite evidence of success. And I suppose that is what bothers me most about his position.
|Um . . .Mr. Williams? What Kind Of Gloves Did You USED To Wear?|
NBC's Brian Williams, in a little-reported interview (in fact, the first source I saw for this was the Comcast News blurb, and it was removed from their site within hours):
NBC's Brian Williams says the lasting legacy of Hurricane Katrina for journalists may be the end of an unusual four-year period of deference to people in power.
There were so many angry, even incredulous, questions put to Bush administration officials about the response to Katrina that the Salon Web site compiled a "Reporters Gone Wild" video clip. Tim Russert, Anderson Cooper, Ted Koppel and Shepard Smith were among the stars.
The mute button seemingly in place since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has been turned off.
"By dint of the fact that our country was hit we've offered a preponderance of the benefit of the doubt over the past couple of years," the "Nightly News" anchorman said. "Perhaps we've taken something off our fastball and perhaps this is the story that brings a healthy amount of cynicism back to a news media known for it."
I would say that this betrays a remarkably short span of attention. Anybody remember the Presidential campaign? Little things like the Air National Guard? The Swift Boat Bets? Abu Graib? Cindy Sheehan?
It's not news that the gloves are off. The only gloves the MSM has been wearing for about the last three years have been sparring gloves.
|Good Things From the Sunday Talkers|
--between Chris Wallace and Sen. David Vitter: If I might ask you another question, sir. Was it competent and insulting for the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security — I'm talking about the state, not the feds — to tell the Red Cross and the Salvation Army that they couldn't go into the city in the middle of the first week, when they said they were ready to go; they had the provisions to go; and it was the state that kept them out.
VITTER: Yes, it was, Chris.
--From Tim Russert to Ray Nagin: Why did you not declare, order, a mandatory evacuation on Friday, when the president declared an emergency, and have utilized those buses to get people out?
--same: It was your responsibility. Where was the planning? Where was the preparation? Where was the execution?
--same: Amtrak said they offered to remove people from the city of New Orleans on Saturday night and that the city of New Orleans declined
--same: My interactions with the president is, anytime I talked with him and gave him what the real deal was and gave him the truth, he acted and he made things happen.
MR. RUSSERT: How about the governor?
MAYOR NAGIN: Well, you know, I don't know about that one. We fought and held that city together with only 200 state National Guard. That was it. We did not get a lot of other support for three or four days of pure hell on Earth.
--Bob Shieffer, in signing off: The brave firemen and policemen of New York, the passengers who gave their lives to force down hijacked Flight 93 before it could be crashed into the US Capitol, and so many others showed us that day what true heroism is.
Led by a decisive mayor, New York rescue teams saved countless lives as the untested young president found just the right wordsto rally the nation.
This time it did not happen that way. Local officials all but panicked. Officials at the highest
level were tongue-tied, full of excuses but unable to find the words to give the nation comfort orconfidence. But as the government fumbled, the American people did not. Charities appearedfrom nowhere. People opened their hearts, homes, their schools. `Bring them on,' went outthe cry from Texas to Utah. No, these poor people in shelters are not better off than they wereoff back home, but they will live to see a better day. The government dropped the ball lastweek, but the good and great American people picked it up, as they always do, thank God.
--and, finally--FINALLY!!--Chris Wallace challenging the rhetorical bullying tactics of the Left, to Sen. Landrieu:
LANDRIEU: Now is not the time for finger-pointing. Now is the time to rebuild.
So, I'm asking the White House to stop sending out press releases blaming local and state officials.
WALLACE: But, Senator — I'm sorry. This works better if I get to ask some questions here.
LANDRIEU: I know. That would be fine.
WALLACE: OK, thank you. But you're the one who's done the finger-pointing. You were the one who, on the Senate floor, talked about the federal response being incompetent and insulting to the people of Louisiana. You were the one — if I might — and, I want to ask you, also, because you've also pointed the finger at the Bush administration for failing to spend enough on flood control.
Here's what you said this week on the Senate floor. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LANDRIEU: They gambled that no one would notice if Louisiana's critical and vital role in our national economy was threatened. And Washington rolled the dice and Louisiana lost.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: But here is what the Washington Post found in an article this week, Senator. And let's put that up on the screen if we can: "The Bush administration's funding requests for the key New Orleans flood-control projects for the past five years were slightly higher than the Clinton Administration's for its past five years."
And, Senator, the article went on to say that Louisiana politicians, in too many cases, were involved in pork, rather than in trying to protect the city of New Orleans. And let's go back to the article. Let's put up another part of it: "For example, after a $194 million deepening project for the Port of Iberia flunked a Corps..." — that's an Army Corps of Engineer — "... cost-benefit analysis, Sen. Mary Landrieu tucked language into an emergency Iraq spending bill ordering the agency to redo its calculations."So, question, Senator: Is it just the president who gambled and lost or, frankly, did a lot of Louisiana politicians, including you?
Like I said, I think the Sunday shows did a reasonable fob. And, more importantly, they may be betraying the tipping point--the complete lack of credibility that the MSM will have if it maintains its crusade against the President in light of many of the facts on the ground.
|Ten Stupidest Things Said On Sunday Morning|
Originally, I was going to post what I thought were the ten stupidest questions asked on Sunday morning. But, surprisingly, the anchors did a passing good job (with the exception of Stephanopoulis); and, of course, with the ubiquitousness of Mary Landrieu, the stupidness could hardly be said to be contained to the questioning side of the desk.
So, having combed the transcripts of the Sunday morning talk shows, I present my Top Ten List:
10. Wolf Blitzer, on journalistic accuracy and professionalism: "I just want to clarify what we reported in the first hour of "Late Edition," when I was interviewing Russel Honore, the lieutenant general U.S. military commander on the ground.
I read to him a statement that the Associated Press put out on Saturday, that was reported on WashingtonPost.com, a statement quoting the National Guard bureau commander, General Steven Blum, as saying the following: "Had that brigade been at home and not in Iraq, their expertise and capabilities could have been brought to bear," referring to Mississippi and Louisiana National Guard units in Iraq.
We just got a statement in on behalf of General Blum from the National Guard bureau denying that General Blum made any such statement. The statement goes on to stay that National Guard deployments to Iraq did not slow the Guard's response to Hurricane Katrina.
Guess all those layers of fact-checking let another one slip by.
9. Bob Schieffer, summarizing something totally unrelated:
Schieffer: On reflection, do you think now that FEMA should not be a part of that
giant bureaucracy, or should the relationship be changed in some way?
Sen Collins: That's a question that our oversight review will take a close look at. Myinclination is to say that FEMA does belong in the Department of Homeland Security. . . .
Schieffer: So what you're saying is you're going to try to find out was it a failure of structure or a failure of leadership? Schieffer then moves on before allowing an answer.
8. Russert, to Dr. Van Derheen, LSU hurricane expert: From the simulation, officials estimate that a storm like Hurricane Pam would: -cause flooding that would leave 300,000 people trapped in New Orleans, many of whom would not have private transportation for evacuation; -send evacuees to 1,000 shelters... -require the transfer of patients from hospitals in harm's way... `A White House staffer was briefed on the exercise,' said [the Center's Deputy Director]. `There is now a far greater awareness in the federal government about the consequences of storm surges.'"
And here's a compilation of the report. FEMA was there. The White House was there. You had a CD. You gave it to them. What happened? Why the breakdown?
First of all, like a professor at LSU knows what was actually going on behind the scenes; but secondly, I think the better, unasked, question would be "Why didn't New Orleans follow its own emergency plan, given that the "Got a CD"?
[this space blank to represent Blitzer's failure to ask Mary Evans of the American Red Cross about her people being denied access to the Superdome by the Louisiana State National Guard]
6. Blitzer, to Gov. Pataki: One final question, Governor, before I let you go -- this latest "Newsweek" poll: Do you approve of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president? Only 38 percent say they approve of the way he's doing his job; 55 percent disapprove. Objection, your Honor; argumentative, and a leading question.
5. Again Blitzer to Pataki: Governor, one of the lessons learned so far from Katrina is that so many of the National Guard troops in Louisiana and Mississippi were deployed to Iraq during this crisis. They could have been badly used back home. How many New York state National Guard troops are right now in Iraq, and what percentage of that is the overall New York state National Guard contingent? [see number 10, above]
4. Russert, to Mayor Nagin: Do you believe that New Orleans could have Mardi Gras in February of 2006? 'Cuz, you know, Mayor, I was really looking for a little escape in February, and, you know . . .
3. Anything at all uttered by George Stephanopoulis.
2. Russert, to the wrong guest: You knew it was coming. You warned it was coming. You did a simulation a year before, and now, you were dealing with reality. Why wasn't the city evacuated better, more quickly? And why weren't the resources put in place to deal with it? Asked of the LSU professor, rather than the mayor who had until ten minutes earlier occupied the same guest chair.
1. This was a tough one, because Sen. Landrieu was SO bad on so many shows. But here's my favorite, an exchange with Chris Wallace:
WALLACE: Well, look in the picture here. There were hundreds of buses in parking lots. The city and the state.
LANDRIEU: That is underwater. Those...
WALLACE: It wasn't underwater before the...
LANDRIEU: Those buses were underwater. Those buses...
WALLACE: They weren't underwater on Saturday; they weren't underwater on Sunday.
LANDRIEU: We had two catastrophes. We had a hurricane and then we had a levee break. When the levee broke, not only did New Orleans go underwater, but St. Bernard when underwater and St. Tammany Parish went underwater.
WALLACE: But they weren't underwater on Sunday.
LANDRIEU: And Plaquemines went underwater. And because the mayor evacuated the city, we had the best evacuation between Haley Barbour and Kathleen Blanco of any evacuation I've seen. I'm 50 years old; I've never seen one any better.
WALLACE: But there were a hundred thousand people left in the city.
LANDRIEU: They did a hundred thousand people left in the city because this federal government won't support cities to evacuate people, whether it's from earthquakes, tornadoes, or hurricanes. And that's the truth. And that will come out in the hearing
Were I Chris Wallace, I might have added that those buses also weren't underwater on Monday, but that would probably have drawn a flag for piling on.
|In Memoriam . . . America|
I find myself, this evening, on the fourth anniversary of the most effective attack in an ongoing war against America, I find myself saddened.
First of all, this day went by with precious little acknowledgement in the "real world". Churches, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel . . .places like this made note of the attacks, and people took some time to pause and consider. And there was, I think, token acknowledgement in the mainstream, particularly around athletic events and the like.
But, in general, I would say this day has gone by largely ignored.
Tell me, someone who would know, how long it took America to forget about December 7th. On December 7th, 1945, while in the midst of an ugly cleanup after a protracted and difficult war, did the day go by without a national acknowledgement?
Perhaps I am afflicted with a peculiarly strong cynicism tonight. I suppose I should take comfort in the words of America's greatest orator, who, also, saw his country through a divisive and bloody war:
It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain . . .
And so I will try to move forward, secure in the knowledge that this country has been through worse and survived. We have survived a Civil War, many assassinations of Presidents, the Great Depression, two World Wars, a Presidential resignation, the ignomy of the Iranian Hostage Crisis, 40 years of staring over a wall the nuclear warheads of the Russians, and many other crises, both manmade and natural.
It just seems that our collective impulse to retreat, apologize, and surrender is stronger than I can imagine it has ever been.
The impulse to speak, think and act like King Henry V has, once again, been replaced by our habit of speaking, thinking and acting like Prince Hamlet. And the King looks too much like Prince Hal; and Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are NOT dead.
In fact, they anchor their own Sunday morning talk shows. . .
There are very--VERY--few television shows that I will go out of my way to watch. But I have got to admit that the new Battlestar Galactica on the SciFi Channel is one of them. If you haven't started watching, and have any affinity at all for science fiction, I can't recommend strongly enough that you do.
What you have to know, though, is that this is NOT your father's BG from the 70's (which I also watched regularly as a kid). This updated version is darker, edgier, and rarely--like, never--the cutesy, folksy, Lorne Greene-ey show the original was.
Just to tease you a bit, the main story line goes something like this: the bad guys (the Ceylons) have destroyed most of humanity in a WMD attack; the survivors have banded together into a fleet wandering around the galaxy protected by the one surviving battlestar--the Galactica. The civilian leadership of the fleet and the military leadership are often at odds, and there are frequent references to civil liberties, and the balance between security and freedom. And to top it off, there were a handful of incidents of military "abuse" of the civilian population, which has set the majority of the population against the military.
Oh, yeah--did I mention that the Ceylons look just like the humans in this version? As in, you never can tell who's the good guys and who might be waiting for the opportunity to blow you up.
If you're thinking it's an awfully topical story line with broad references to contemporary America, I'd say you're right. It's an intriguing story line with just happens to be set in space. And its two lead actors--Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell--are both accomplished actors that give the whole thing a solid core.
So, for what it's worth, if you happen to be home on Friday nights and want to take a little escape from the week but don't want to be condescended to, find the SciFi channel.
Like I said, for what it's worth.
|Long Limb, Waiting For One Saw . . . |
The House passed the $51 billion Katrina relief package today, with only 11 members voting against it.
Yep. You guessed it. Our own Tom Tancredo was one of those eleven.
Okay--I get it that he wants the government to spend the money wisely; and that he has a beef with state and local officials--a beef I share. And I suppose it's fair to say that a multi-billion dollar effort like this will have huge bits of graft and pork.
But, c'mon, Congressman. Just for a moment setting aside whether it was the right thing to do--which, I think, still might put you on the losing side of the argument--could you be any more politically tone-deaf? Honestly, if you want anybody to take you seriously, you're going to have to start finding a way to make your points without looking as if you've wandered off the reservation. Find a procedural way--an abstention, a non-vote, anything else that doesn't make you look uniquely detached and unfeeling.
You have some important things to say about immigration; don't let momentary pique drown out your political instincts, which will in turn drown out your message.
|The American Left and the Impact Of Craniums On Drywall|
The Left is doing its absolute best to pin the New Orleans issue on the President.
Nancy Pelosi: "There were two disasters last week: first, the natural disaster, and second, the man-made disaster, the disaster made by mistakes made by FEMA," she said.
She told reporters she had urged Bush in person at the White House on Tuesday to fire Brown.
And .. . .
"Instead of unconscionably blaming others, President Bush must take charge and take responsibility, and must get it right, and that is my concern and the message that I will bring to the president," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat. "Mr. President, you should have taken charge and you should have taken responsibility."
And the indispensible Howard Dean: Dean told the annual meeting of the National Baptist Convention of America in Miami that the nation 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."
And yet, for all their sound and fury, they just can't seem to make any of their outlandish charges stick to, or damage, the President.
When asked to identify who was most responsible for the problems in New Orleans after the hurricane, 38% of Americans said no one was really to blame, while 13% cited Bush, 18% the federal agencies, and 25% state and local officials.
Perhaps its because the American people, in general, are just a little bit (!) wiser than the play-for-the-political moment Democrats. Perhaps the public knows that the real story about events such as this tend to trickle out over days and weeks, and a full story rarely meshes with the immediate impressions. To wit:
. . . according to the mayor of New Orleans, her [Gov. Blanco] indecision when President Bush offered help delayed rescue efforts and cost lives.
New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin told CNN's "American Morning" Monday that he met with Mr. Bush and Mrs. Blanco on Air Force One on Friday and implored the two to "get in sync."
"If you don't get in sync, more people are going to die," Mr. Nagin said.
Mr. Bush met privately first with Mrs. Blanco, then called Mr. Nagin in for a meeting. "He called me in that office," Mr. Nagin said. "And he said, 'Mr. Mayor, I offered two options to the governor.' I was ready to move. The governor said she needed 24 hours to make a decision."
Huh. Do you suppose those 24 hours might have been, I don't know, CRITICAL to some people?
But it gets better:
Mr. Bush, at the request of Mrs. Blanco, declared the entire state of Louisiana a disaster area 48 hours before the hurricane made landfall. He also asked Mrs. Blanco to order a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans on Aug. 27 -- two days before the hurricane hit -- but she did not make the order until Aug. 28.
And now we hear this: (exchange between Hugh Hewitt and Major Garrett)
MG:I watch hurricanes all the time. And I see correspondents standing among rubble and refugees and evacuaees. But I always either see that Red Cross or Salvation Army truck nearby. Why don't I see that?
HH: And the answer is?
MG: The answer is the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security, that is the state agency responsible for that state's homeland security, told the Red Cross explicitly, you cannot come.
HH: Now Major Garrett, on what day did they block the delivery? Do you know specifically?
MG: I am told by the Red Cross, immediately after the storm passed.
HH: Okay, so that would be on Monday afternoon.
MG: That would have been Monday or Tuesday
Of course there are two levels to this story. The first is the unbelievable incompetence of the Louisiana State entities, led by Gov. Kathleen Blanco, which very likely resulted in hundreds, if not thousands of deaths. Honestly, denying Red Cross access to those stranded in the Superdome, while simultaneously refusing to enact your own emergency management plan which called for all transportation resources to be applied to evacuation, is startling . . . and tragic.
But the second level is represented by the strange squishy sound you can hear if you listen closely enough. That is the sound of the political worm turning. FEMA, the Red Cross, and other agencies were in place and ready to go--to do what they have been roundly criticized for not doing. And it turns out that they would have done their jobs if only Louisiana had gotten its act together.
If there's one thing Americans hate more than incompetence, it's opportunism in the face of tragedy. But it's kinda rare to see both so on display from the same side of the aisle all at once.
|Today's Hall of Fame|
(courtesy LATimes, via TheCorner) a 6-year-old boy walking down the road, holding a 5-month-old, surrounded by five toddlers who followed him around as if he were their leader. They were holding hands. Three of the children were about 2 years old, and one was wearing only diapers. A 3-year-old girl, who wore colorful barrettes on the ends of her braids, had her 14-month-old brother in tow. The 6-year-old spoke for all of them, and he told rescuers his name was Deamonte Love.
|Today's Hall Of Fame|
I need to update one of my first nominees: WalMart (remember them, those union-hating, greedy, cat-beating corporate robber-barons) has upped the ante to $23 million.
Jerry Lewis, who diverted some of the proceeds from his annual Muscular Dystrophy Telethon to the relief efforts, to the tune of $1 million plus.
John Carolan and Charlie Hackett, who ". . .kind of together decided we would defend what we have here and we would stay up and defend the neighborhood," says Hackett, an Army veteran . . ."
Michael Jennings, who "doesn't have relatives or even know anybody in southern Mississippi, but he and friends nonetheless collected supplies, loaded them in a small trailer and drove more than 350 miles to a poor neighborhood in north Gulfport."
And, lastly, they patched up that hole . Looks to me like all that's missing now is a little duct tape . . .
|Roberts For Chief|
President George W. Bush nominated conservative appeals court judge John Roberts on Monday to replace the late William Rehnquist as Supreme Court chief justice, the top judicial position in the United States.
Some--in fact, many--have described this as a tactically sound move. Me, I'm not so sure.
First, let me state for the record that I KNOW NOTHING--I am not a lawyer, have never worked for lawyers, have never clerked anything, and really am nothing but a slightly over-interested observer.
That said, here I go.
Roberts appeared to be sailing to a fairly easy confirmation, starting with hearings tomorrow. Though he was not in the "O'Connor" mold, he seemed to have solidified his support to the point that that was not going to hold up his confirmation. In that, the Court would have ticked perceptibly to the Right. Following that, then the President could have gone for a replacement for Rehnquist in the Rehnquist mold--a strong, fiesty conservative. He could have even doubled down on Senate Democrats and nominated a woman as the First Chief--that would have driven the Left mad and all but guaranteed a successful confirmation.
Moving to elevate Roberts puts the President in a dicey tactical position. Now Roberts can succeed his mentor, and he should have a relatively easy go of it. But the next position, which is again the O'Connor position, will turn into the political football of the decade. Be sure that the feeble cries that the President should have appointed a "moderate" to replace the pivotal O'Connor will be redoubled, and the best anybody should expect from this Senate is hearings in November or December, and, if we're lucky, a vote sometime early next year--too far into the Court's Session to have an impact on this term.
Now, we've all seen how this President ignores conventional wisdom, and I anticipate that he will do the same thing this time. But, following the PR disaster that was last week (deserved or not), his position is significantly weakened. I'm not sure he has the political capital to hammer one through. I would lay better-than-even odds at this point on the Democrats filibustering whoever President Bush nominates, which would throw this whole process to the mercy of the Gang of Fourteen. And I'm not sure I like the whole process being in that position.
Please be clear: none of this is to disparage Judge Roberts' qualifications to the job of Chief Justice. I think he will be GREAT, and will have a chance to influence the Court for decades in ways that his predecessor--due to the dynamic of the Court itself--never had a chance to.
But I think that second position will cause enormous political upheaval--it will be a knock-down, drag-out fight that, probably, escalates into a rhetorical gun fight.
|Today's Hall Of Fame|
John Grisham, who has personally donated $5 million dollars to the Mississippi recovery efforts.
Mr. Ray, of Jefferson Healthcare, who insisted on remaining behind with all of his patients who could not be evacuated. (see OneHandClapping, ht HughHewitt)
Cynthia Shepard, who personally rescued 10 stranded people because, as she said, "I'm in a truck, so I should utilize it."
Kuwait, which has pledged $500 million for relief efforts.
The Colorado Rockies, who donated all profits from today's gate (attendance: 26,000) to the relief efforts (somewhere in the vicinity of $50,000)
and one young person in Oklahoma who gets it:
David Brooks in the New York Times stumbles onto one of the more salient comparisons we've seen this week.
On Sept. 11, Rudy Giuliani took control. The government response was quick and decisive. The rich and poor suffered alike. Americans had been hit, but felt united and strong. Public confidence in institutions surged.
Last week in New Orleans, by contrast, nobody took control. Authority was diffuse and action was ineffective. The rich escaped while the poor were abandoned. Leaders spun while looters rampaged. Partisans squabbled while the nation was ashamed.
Of course, while Brooks doesn't have the wit to capitalize on his accident, he leaves it sitting there waiting for someone to knock it into the bleachers. So . . .
The most important thing to read here is the first line: RUDY GUILIANI TOOK CONTROL. And, let me think, what was Rudy's job title? Um . . . lessee . . . oh, yes. MAYOR! The Mayor took control and guaranteed that the government response was quick and decisive.
And, just to play this out, try to picture New Orleans with a Mayor Guiliani. Try to picture a major catastrophe bearing down on his city and him waiting until 12 hours before landfall to issue an evacuation order. Try to picture him leaving school buses in their parking lots when an entire sub-stratum of the city was unable to comply with that order. Try to picture him encouraging people to evac to a location which he had already identified as inadequate to his city's needs. Try to picture a police force being ineffective or corrupt in his city.
Or try to picture him trying to shift the responsibility--and the blame--for HIS CITY onto anybody else.
I have defended the President to this point, but in one thing I am critical of him. When he flew over the city on Wednesday and saw the condition of the city and received reports of anarchy, he should have immediately federalized the entire city and appointed Rudy Giuliani to oversee all recovery and evacuation operations.
|This Could Explain Something|
I've begun to wonder if the inept PR response from the White House to the charges that have been levelled over the last few days was because the facts were so much on their side that they were trying to be gracious and giving the wacky Left a chance to walk their rhetoric back. This lends a little more credence to that idea (courtesy RedState):
Behind the scenes, a power struggle emerged, as federal officials tried to wrest authority from Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D). Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans, a source within the state's emergency operations center said Saturday.
The administration sought unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. . . .
Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday, three state and federal officials said.
It is entirely possible that in the days and weeks that follow, more stories like this will trickle out pointing to the efforts the President made to mitigate a disaster-in-the-making BEFORE THE FACT.
Which will have the collateral effect of pointing to the ineptitude of state and local officials.
|Tonight's Hall Of Fame|
The Manning Brothers, Peyton and Eli who helped deliver 31,000 pounds of relief supplies to New Orleans and who spent some time making personal contacts with victims of the disaster.
Warrick Dunn, the Atlanta Falcons running back, who upped the ante on Deion Sanders by challenging pro athletes to donate $5,000 per person.
Major League Baseball: $2 million
National Basketball Association: $2 million
SouthEast Conference (NCAA athletics): $1 million
U.S.Tennis Association: $500k
Wesley Fruge--an eight-month old surgery patient who had to be evacuated from Tulane Hospital--without his parents; they were evacuated on Thursday, not knowing where Wesley was. They were all eventually reunited at their home in Lafayette.
|Can Anybody Explain This?|
Just to bring a few items into evidence for consideration.
One: In the face of a catastrophic Hurricane Katrina, a mandatory evacuation was ordered Sunday for New Orleans by Mayor Ray Nagin.
Acknowledging that large numbers of people, many of them stranded tourists, would be unable to leave, the city set up 10 places of last resort for people to go, including the Superdome. . . .
Gov. Kathleen Blanco, standing beside the mayor at a news conference, said President Bush called and personally appealed for a mandatory evacuation for the low-lying city, which is prone to flooding. (courtesy Powerline)
Two: Lake Pontchartrain poured into New Orleans on Tuesday through breaches in two flood walls and a levee.
Three: In a statement to CNN, he [mayor Ray Nagin ] said [Wednesday]: "This is a desperate SOS. Right now we are out of resources at the convention centre and don't anticipate enough buses. We need buses. "
Is it possible, just POSSIBLE, that it might have been smarter to turn the Superdome into a bus depot--BEFORE THE FLOOD--, rather than a "shelter of last resort"? Hmmmm, Mayor Nagin? Not to belabor the point, but there were 48 hours between the order to evacuate and the breach of the levee. And you HAD buses that were not being used.
|I Understand The Point|
that Hugh Hewitt and Captain Ed were trying to make last night about holding off criticism of ANYBODY until after we've saved all those who need saving and get them the help they need.
It would be the high road, the lassy thing to do, and the one that keeps everybody's energies best focused.
But it seems we're in a gunfight, to take that road would be to approach that gunfight with a knife.
We've seen through the month of August--and, indeed, throughout President Bush's terms--how slowness or failure to respond to the administration's critics has had the effect of crippling much of the President's agenda. The President must take the high road, but those of us out here who support him have to do what we can to defend him.
However, in the spirit of that idea, I will be sure to focus at least one post a day on the genuine heroics of those on the ground, the generosity of the American people, and the real truimph of the spirit SO in evidence in 90% of the effected areas.
|Hall Of Fame|
Ellen DeGeneres, who, along with her show's distributor Warner Brothers, have led off with a pledge of $500k, and a promise to match all viewer's donations to her relief fund up to another $500k, bringing the total to $1.5 million.
Deion Sanders, the outgoing football star, who has challenged all professional athletes to donate $1,000; the total if just the football players come through would exceed $1.5 million. Sanders noted that "God has given me a platform, and not just for football" to answer what has motivated him to this challenge.
Coors-Molson Breweries, which have pledged to match employee contributions to the relief effort dollar-for-dollar (I don't know if there is an upper limit on what they'll match).
Shaquille O'Neill, the gigantic basketball star, who has been in Baton Rouge since Sunday with his own airplane lending assistance to relief efforts.
The New York Yankees organization, which donated $1 million to the relief efforts.
Hillary Duff, who to my knowledge was the first Hollywood star out there working on this, has pledged $250k.
This is, obviously, an incomplete list. For instance, I left off the names of all the Coast Guard and National Guard helicopter pilots and corpsmen who have bee literally lifting hundreds, if not thousands, to safety.
And, of course, everybody out there who has donated to a charity to try to get relief going in the right direction.
Keep up the good work, and send me other nominees for the Hall--we need to recognize when our better angels stand up and sing!
|Did Pompeiians Blame The Emperor?|
I, like most of us, are getting to know the city of New Orleans much better in the last few days.
For instance, I did not know that most of the city is below sea level, with the high point in the city being at about the same elevation as the natural bank of the Mississippi River. I also did not know that the city is shaped basically like a bowl, with the Mississippi making up one of the borders; just for good measure, Lake Pontchartraine makes up one other border, and the Gulf of Mexico effectively makes up yet another border. Yes, that’s right, they built this city in a low flood plain bordered on three sides by volatile bodies of water.
A little like building a city at the foot of an active volcano. Oh, wait . . .
The city has been protected for many years by a lengthy (some 475 miles worth) system of levees which control the flow of the Mississippi and contain the Lake. These levees were built 40-some years ago by the Army Corps of Engineers, and were designed to withstand what they thought at the time was the historical equivalent of a catastrophic storm.
For some background on that, here’s a good investigative article by the New Orleans Times-Picayune from 2002 on the history and upkeep of the levees. For some background:
The corps' original levee specifications are based on calculations made in the early 1960s using the low-tech tools of the day -- manual calculators, pencils and slide rules -- and may never have been exactly right, corps officials say. Even if they were, corps officials and outside scientists say levees may provide less protection today than they were designed for because subsidence and coastal erosion have altered the landscape on which they were built. . .
Thanks to its low, flat profile and its location on the Gulf of Mexico, south Louisiana is more at risk from a major natural disaster than most other places in the country. The risk of a catastrophic levee-topping flood in New Orleans is roughly comparable to the risk of a major earthquake in Los Angeles. Because of coastal erosion and subsidence, that risk is growing.
But judging that risk and how to protect against it can be difficult. Recent experience tends to confirm the idea that catastrophic hurricane floods are rare. Even if a powerful hurricane comes close to New Orleans, only certain storm tracks could flood all or part of the city and suburbs. Twelve storms rated Category 3 and above have hit the Louisiana coast in the past 100 years, but only four produced major flooding in the New Orleans area. The levee system was built largely in response to those storms, to prevent or reduce flooding in similar events.
Obviously, there was a design flaw in the city that was just waiting for a force of nature to exploit it.
Statistically speaking, not very many hurricanes have hit the New Orleans area -- at least not enough to allow a solid projection into the future.
And the recent past isn't always an accurate basis for predicting the future. A Science magazine paper written last year by meteorologists William Gray, Christopher Landsea and Stanley Goldenberg predicted that based on long-term trends in sea-surface temperature, the Atlantic Ocean is entering a 10- to 40-year period of more intense hurricane activity. That means more big storms may menace areas that are more heavily populated than during the previous such cycle, from 1920 to 1960.
Storm surges are even harder to analyze. Flooding can vary dramatically mile by mile, even lot by lot, depending on the storm, rainfall, land elevation, levee heights and proximity to waterways and drainage pumps. Storm surges flowing into Lake Pontchartrain literally slosh around, first raising water heights to the north and west, then on the south shore.
A record-setting rainfall could swell water heights by a foot or more, something that could turn a relatively weak storm into a killer.
Hurricane flood statistics are even spottier because scientists often did not have the equipment positioned in enough places to measure high water during past storms. The landscape also is changing because of coastal erosion, sinking and even levee building. So a flood height from the past wouldn't be the same today.
So, you would suppose, efforts have been made to study the changes and to evaluate how effective the levee system is using more modern equipment and records. And, just such an effort was made, but . . .
A 1996 attempt to study Lake Pontchartrain-area levees broke down over that dispute and because of bureaucratic disagreements, according to Combe and others involved.
Meanwhile, sinking, erosion and sea-level rise mean that the odds of getting flooded have been getting worse across south Louisiana. "The frequency of flooding is increasing at all levels," Suhayda said. "You might find in 50 years that the risk of these infrequent events doubled. The 50-year event became a 25-year event, the 100-year event became a 50-year event."
All of this information might lead one to a rather inescapable conclusion: New Orleans was at risk.
"I think everyone familiar with this is sitting on pins and needles because nothing has happened in that lake for 50 to 60 years and you start to think, are we due" Butler said. "And the answer I think is yes, statistically you're due. And that's scary. Based on my knowledge of hurricanes, I'd watch what happens very closely -- and I'd get out of Dodge."
The group tasked with the upkeep of the levees is the Army Corps of Engineers. And many have been carping in the last few days about how dramatically the Corps has been underfunded. But a February article points out that even full funding of what they proposed for this year would have made no difference.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has identified millions of dollars in flood and hurricane protection projects in the New Orleans district.
Chances are, though, most projects will not be funded in the president's 2006 fiscal year budget to be released today. . .
The most urgent work being delayed by funding shortfalls involves levee construction on the West Bank.
Unfortunately, the main levee that broke and caused the vast majority of the flooding in the city of New Orleans was the 17th Street Canal Levee, which, according to the NYTimes (with a hat tip to RedState) was just recently upgraded.
No one expected that weak spot to be on a canal that, if anything, had received more attention and shoring up than many other spots in the region.
It did not have broad berms, but it did have strong concrete walls.
Shea Penland, director of the Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of New Orleans, said that was particularly surprising because the break was "along a section that was just upgraded."
Sadly, as Katrina bore down on the Gulf Coast, Matt Crenson of the Associated Press published a sadly prescient article on Monday.
Experts have warned for years that the levees and pumps that usually keep New Orleans dry have no chance against a direct hit by a Category 5 storm. . .
The center's latest computer simulations indicate that by Tuesday, vast swaths of New Orleans could be under water up to 30 feet deep. In the French Quarter, the water could reach 20 feet, easily submerging the district's iconic cast-iron balconies and bars.
Part of the problem, as Crenson points out, is that NOBODY has much experience dealing with catastrophic events of this nature.
Crenson also mentions the real culprit, which, as noted before, IS NOT the condition of the levees.
So, you might ask, what is the point?
I wonder if the survivors of Pompeii blamed the Emperor.