masthead-highres

Friday, September 30, 2005

There Is No Joy in Greenville

...Rep. George Miller has struck out.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:46 PM

Journalists Aren't Special (One More Time)

If it is OK to not talk to a prosecutor because you are a journalist who wants to protect sources, so that later on you can (maybe) do some good deeds, would it be OK to not talk to a prosecutor if someone paid you not to, as long as you gave the money to charity?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:25 PM

What Was Bush Doing on SunDay?

Even if increased output from the Sun is causing global warming, as Duke University physicists report, won't lefties just find a way to blame George W. Bush (and ExxonMobil) for the Sun?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:00 PM

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Bugs, Songs and Global Warming

The National Center's Peyton Knight admires Barbra Streisand:
Is there no bottom to the well of the talent possessed by Barbra Streisand? The singer/actress/director/wannabe political hack is adding "weather prognosticator" to her repertoire.

Over the past weekend, Ms. Streisand declared to ABC's Diane Sawyer: "We are in a global warming emergency state and these storms are going to become more frequent, more intense."

Sounds pretty serious. What can we expect in the future, Ms. Streisand?

"There could be more droughts, dust bowls."

(You can't say she didn't warn you. )

Streisand says all these weather events can be avoided quite easily. All America has to do is cripple its economy by signing (like Europe) and adhering to (unlike Europe) the Kyoto Protocol.

According to Streisand, "I mean, for the United States not to be part of the Kyoto treaty is unforgivable."

Streisand's wisdom comes on the heels of a similar scolding from Britain's chairman of something called the "Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution," Sir John Lawton.

Sir John, a zoologist with special expertise in the population, ecology and eating habits of animals without backbones, puts a hugh priority on spreading his global warming views to physicists who dedicated careers to climate science.

Referring to Hurricane Rita before Rita's landfall, Sir John opined: "If what looks like it is going to be a horrible mess causes the extreme skeptics about climate change in the U.S. to reconsider their opinion, that would be an extremely valuable outcome."

Perhaps sobered by the prospect that Rita might -- as was considered possible at the time -- destroy a major U.S. city, Sir John took pains to be respectful of these PhDs, referring to them as "the climate loonies in the States."

Sir John, also known as a bird lover, also said of the "climate loonies": "I'd liken them to the people who denied that smoking causes lung cancer."

Thankfully, National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield stepped in yesterday to put the lie to the real climate loonies.

Appearing on ABC's "This Week," Mayfield explained that hurricane intensity is a matter of cyclical weather patterns, not global warming, saying "Hurricanes, and especially major hurricanes, are cyclical," said Mayfield. "We'll have a few decades of really active hurricanes, and then inactive periods, followed by active periods again."

Perhaps feeling the need to correct the budding climatologist and her ideological counterpart in the mother country, Mayfield left no doubt in his prognosis: "So I think that this activity that we're in can be explained without invoking global warming. And the bad news here is that we are in this active period, and the research meteorologists tell us that it may last another 10 or 20 years," he said.

But will the diva and the knight bachelor believe him? After all, Mayfield can't possibly know anything about the weather. His experience with bugs and high octaves is minimal. He's just a professional meteorologist.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:04 PM

Is the Fifth Amendment a "New Entitlement"?

I'm watching C-SPAN right now, and that's what some Members of Congress are saying.

Here is the backstory.

Addendum: Following the debate referenced above, the U.S. House voted earlier today in favor of the Threatened and Endangered Species Reform Act (TESRA) by 229-193, after first rejecting, 216-206, a proposal by Rep. George Miller (D-CA) and Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) that would have weakened property rights protections in TESRA.

Among the emails I've received on this today:
Re: Is the Fifth Amendment a "New Entitlement"?

From the backstory:

Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife are also decrying the notion of compensating small landowners when government takes their property.

The Sierra Club is advocating, effectively, the taking of someone's home if one of their members walks past your property and espies a "yellow-spotted-three-legged-toad" on your lawn, even if same happens to be only hopping by, and as if that's not already over the top, they wish to do so without compensation to the homeowner?

Between this craziness and "Kelo" there is no such thing as a "home" in the USA anymore, it's merely a house and only a fool would buy one -- rent it instead and let the landlord take the hit when the moonbats come knocking. Unfortunately, that's where they really want to go ultimately, isn't it? -- all government owned housing and a daily ration of rice for the masses.

I was born too late, those that died in the early 60s and prior, are surely turning over in their graves.

Mark

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:14 AM

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Disabled Children and the Guillotine

A former deputy mayor in Britain, a retired doctor, has been excoriated for allegedly saying disabled children would be better off if they were guillotined.

The doctor, Owen Lister, explains to the BBC, somewhat convincingly, that his words were taken out of context.

Read the links for the story and judge for yourself. Note also, in the first link, the doctor's remark about socialized medicine in Britain: "We have 5,800 people waiting to go into hospital in [the English town of] Swindon. A percentage of those will die as a result of waiting too long."

The U.S. health system may have its problems, but long waiting lines to get into a hospital are not one of them.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:17 PM

Friday, September 23, 2005

Charles Rangel Turns Fire Hose on Bush

The New York Sun is reporting that Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY), compared President Bush to infamous segregationist Bull Connor at a Congressional Black Caucus event September 22, to "wild applause and cheering":
Comparing President Bush to the Birmingham, Ala., police commissioner whose resistance to the civil rights movement became synonymous with Southern racism, Rep. Charles Rangel said yesterday of the president: "George Bush is our Bull Connor."

Mr. Rangel's metaphoric linkage of Mr. Bush to the late Theophilus "Bull" Connor - who in 1963 turned fire hoses and attack dogs on blacks, including Martin Luther King Jr., demonstrating in favor of equal rights - met with wild applause and cheering at a Congressional Black Caucus town hall meeting, part of the organization's 35th Annual Legislative Conference...
Other participants in the event, according to the Sun, included Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Senator Barak Obama (D-IL), former entertainer Harry Belafonte, Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX).

Project 21's response is here.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee represents Houston. I'd have thought she might have been too busy helping constituents yesterday to attend a hate conference, but perhaps I am being too hasty. Maybe she was there on hurricane-related business: Lobbying to get Hurricane Rita renamed after an ethnic minority.

The Sun article says the Congressional Black Caucus event was a four-day legislative conference. Other participants included Rev. Al Sharpton and former Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-MD). Cindy Sheehan also was present, perhaps attempting to prove that no black legislative conference is complete without a speech from a white woman who has no legislative experience.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:01 PM

CO2 Science: Global Warming Good in Asia?

Could global warming have benefits?
Climate alarmists predict global warming will increase human death rates, and nary a heat wave occurs but what they are quick to blame any concurrent excess deaths on the high temperatures associated with it. Much more deadly than hot weather, however, is cold weather; yet climate alarmists typically ignore the excess deaths that are caused by low temperatures, even though they are far more numerous than those caused by high temperatures. How do we know? Because a multiplicity of scientific studies reveals such to be the case, as demonstrated by the results reported below for different parts of Asia.
Read the entire piece, by the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide, here.

Hat tip: TownHall.com.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:00 PM

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Katrina Rescues: Ft. Belvoir Soldiers in New Orleans

The Fort Belvoir (VA) Eagle has an article today about the work of the D.C. National Guard rescuing Katrina victims.

This is the unit whose activities have been chronicled in blog posts by Joe Roche here, here, here and here.

By the way, the "Spc. Annelie Roche" quoted in the article is the "Lili" of the blog posts -- Joe's wife.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:29 PM

Heritage Foundation: Saving $40 Billion

The Heritage Foundation has a plan to save $40 billion federal tax dollars annually while helping seniors afford prescription drugs.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:11 PM

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

New TESRA/ESA Reform Analysis Posted

Those who are following the TESRA/Endangered Species Act debate may be interested to know that The National Center just posted a new press release on provisions of the ESA bill the Resources Committee will be taking a look at later today.

This press release is far from a complete analysis, but adds detail to what we posted on September 19.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:27 AM

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Katrina Rescues: Dedicated Soldiers of the National Guard

Joe Roche has sent another email relating the experiences of his wife, Lili, who (as a member of the DC National Guard) is part of National Guard rescue operations in Louisiana:
The soldiers are showing amazing motivation and endurance. You and everyone should be extremely proud of our military women and men who have put on such an incredible and great effort to turn around the disaster situation in New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Someday, when the politicization and debate of the issues are forgotten and old, I think history will record this whole operation by the military as amazingly fast, effective and life-saving.

And specifically of the Louisiana National Guard soldiers she has met and befriended, she says, "these people irregardless are holding their head high and moving forward even when their future is completely obscured by the world around them."

Kellogg, Brown & Root, better known as Halliburton, is doing amazing stuff at Naval Air Station New Orleans. Just like in Kosovo, Baghdad, Khandahar and everywhere else our soldiers deploy to harsh conditions, KBR (as we call them in the military) has rushed in and set up huge dining facilities, brought in comforts and standard-of-living improvements, and made life on base in New Orleans far more better than it otherwise would be with the huge arrivals. One facility they set up is "like hundreds of tents long, huge!" She said they have good food and a lot of variety. They have also set up and facilitated the arrival and assembly of many many other things that are improving conditions there for the soldiers.

Soldiers and other military-related units are continuing to arrive at a very fast and large pace. She said that a couple nights ago, a huge convoy of flat-bed trucks pulled in late, and the soldiers had to initially sleep on the flat-beds because of the size and logistics of their arrival. Nonetheless, there are areas that are "tent cities" on base for housing the soldiers.

There are also some nice New Orleans eateries setting up on base. Biker Bob's is apparently one of the favorites. They have set up and are now feeding soldiers, the contractors, and everyone else on base at a huge rate every day all day long. I think their place was wiped out in the hurricane's aftermath, and so they have set up ad hoc on base to help and support the rescue and relief efforts of our soldiers.

The New Orleans' SportsBar near the base has also set up on base a place to feed and entertain them.

Wal-Mart is also on base giving away free stuff that she said is helping a lot.

These are nice things because the heat and humidity returned last week with a vengeance. Lili said that when she walks to the DFAC, her uniform is soaked and dripping with sweat. Her unit and others have also had to do an increasing number of Medivac missions for military contractors who get sick from the infections, viruses and toxins in the city.

She said, however, that life there is getting into patterns and routines that are important and good for the soldiers. This all helps bring peace-of-mind, keeping morale up, and aiding in personal recovery in between missions, and all this goes to facilitating better and better performance.

The water was being drained out of the flooded parts at an amazingly fast rate. Something like a billion gallons of water an hour, I think she estimated? One machine is pumping something around 21,000 gallons a second! I have to admit that this is beyond my ability to comprehend.

She did say that when she and the other soldiers go running, their lungs feel like they have been in a smoking room because there are so many pesticides, sprays and maybe even a few toxins in the air.

She told of a wild account when a C-130 flew just 150 feet in the air over the city spraying stuff around. Her unit's helicopters were tasked with following and monitoring its mission.

She has done some neat side-missions too, such as last week when she drove up to Baton Rouge in a convoy to drop off the vehicles her unit had taken to deploy down to New Orleans. She and the others picked up dinner from some of the good places in Baton Rouge, then flew back in the Hueys to New Orleans and fed the others.

With routine and relaxation coming to the base for the soldiers, she said that despite the huge pace of operations and arrivals, it feels quieter there. They are bracing themselves for the anticipated mayhem from when the residents of the city start returning in droves. Right now there are some New Orleans residents and, of course, Louisiana National Guard living on base with them who she talks with and befriends. She said, "everyone, it seems, is tired of hearing about the hurricane but they seem willing to tell me their personal stories."

The LA NG have some of the most heart-wrenching stories because many of them are from the most stricken parts of the city and Louisiana, and they have next to nothing left. These soldiers ran from their houses with just the bare essentials to get to their units, and have deployed all this time not knowing what is going on with their homes, families and belongings. One commander told her it took two weeks for him to locate his grandson who had been left at a hospital in New Orleans. Many of the LA NG have traumatic family and home situations going on that they are nonetheless coping with as they continue to do missions and perform for their military units. I find this inspiring and amazing.

Another one whose extended family has lost their houses, jobs and everything else, is solely taking care of them because as a LA NG, he is the only one with a job. Despite all this that would probably overwhelm anyone else, he did many vital things to facilitate and do his part for his unit at the start of the operation. Now, however, because of a bad heart, his unit has had to let him go. In despair, he told her, "New Orleans is dead, it will never be a great city again...at least in my lifetime." ...In an email from Lili, she describes this soldier's plight in more detail, which I'll forward after this.

Another LA NG commander described how "some of the young people in his unit had just gotten married and were finally just now getting their feet on the ground in a difficult city and moving out of their poverty only to lose everything" because of the storm and flooding.

Nonetheless, the military missions continue, setting up what is emerging as one massive gargantuan enterprise that is going to do amazing things over the coming weeks and months. Again quoting her about the LA NG she is with, "these people irregardless are holding their head high and moving forward even when their future is completely obscured by the world around them."

With humility, Lili is fails to say this about her unit too. (I/we will point out!)

That is all.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:12 AM

Monday, September 19, 2005

"TESRA" Endangered Species Act Reform Update

Regular visitors to this blog, let alone our website, are unlikely to have missed our criticism (for example, here and here) of the policy implications within the draft of House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo's "Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act," TESRA for short, that has been circulating these last few months.

The TESRA legislation is a proposed reform of the Endangered Species Act.

Earlier today, Rep. Pombo (R-CA), Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), Greg Walden (R-OR) and George Radanovich (R-CA) introduced the legislation (go here for the Resources Committee press release annuncing this, which includes links to the legislation as introduced).

National Center staff members have been briefed on the contents of this new version of TESRA and are encouraged by some of the changes that have been made. A comprehensive analysis is needed before The National Center releases a more specific review, however, a few promising developments are worth noting:
  • TESRA no longer includes "invasive species" regulations;
  • TESRA now appears to have good potential to provide solid private property rights protections.
  • The National Center is in the process of conducting a thorough analysis of this new draft and will issue a more in-depth statement very soon.

    In the meantime, this blog at least would like to commend the more than eighty public policy organizations (see here and here for copies of coalition letters raising concerns that were sent to Rep. Pombo in June and September), and individuals too numerous to name, who joined together to publicly address policy concerns raised by the first draft.

    Some who opposed criticism of the earlier draft of TESRA claimed constructive criticism was pointless; that Congress never listens to citizen concerns. Apparently, their pessimism was unwarranted.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:10 PM

    The Other Club: The North Side

    The Other Club posts some pictures of the north side of Lake Pontchartrain, and wonders who is truly to blame for hangnails.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:35 PM

    Katrina, Global Warming and Honest Disagreement

    Husband David, The National Center's VP, is debating Wayne Madsen in newspapers across the country on the question: "Are climate-change advocates wrong to blame Katrina's fury on man-made global warming?"

    David said, yes, they are wrong; Wayne Madsen says no and blames President Bush: "...the Bush administration's six years of hostility to international efforts to stem the effects of global warming are now, as predicted, drastically affecting the coastal regions of the world."

    Mr. Madsen also claims many of those who are skeptical of his view on global warming have essentially been bribed by "handsome grants and honoraria from the oil and coal industry and affiliated 'non-profit' think tank like the Cato Institute." In light of this smear, quite typical of those who are intolerant of dissent from the global warming alarmist orthodoxy, allow me to volunteer that the National Center for Public Policy Research received less than one percent of its funding from fossil fuel industries in 2004 and, so far in 2005, has received zero funding from such industries. And, as may go without saying, neither David nor The National Center have received funding from The Cato Institute, which really is a genuine non-profit -- no quotation marks required.

    Addendum: Duane at The Other Club writes to say:
    The theories of the watermelon alliance do not demonstrate correctable, or even notable, human contribution to global warming.

    For Madsen to blame Bush is at fault is outrageous, since the Clinton-era Senate voted 95-0 against Kyoto and since even if President Nixon had adopted it, it wouldn't have made any difference, by Madsen's best allies' own figures.

    It's Bush's "hostility" that caused Katrina? Heh. It's Madsen's hostility that paralyzes his brain.

    Duane Hershberger

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:23 PM

    Sunday, September 18, 2005

    David's Medienkritik: German Election Results

    Go to David's Medienkritik for comprehensive coverage of the German election results.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:10 PM

    Saturday, September 17, 2005

    Arianna Huffington is Deeply Sincere

    Arianna Huffington, September 11, speech to the Sierra Club: "Hurricane Katrina's real name is global warming."

    Ross Gelbspan, writing in the Boston Globe, August 30: "The hurricane that struck Louisiana yesterday was nicknamed Katrina by the National Weather Service. Its real name is global warming."

    The next time Arianna Huffington is cribbing words from another writer, she might pick one who can answer this question: If Hurricane Katrina's real name is global warming, why did we have an above-average number of hurricanes in the 50s and 60s, when the Earth was cooling?

    Bonus extras: (a) Check out Michelle Malkin and/or Say Anything to see what sort of vehicle the Sierra Club sent to pick up Arianna Huffington so she could give the abovementioned speech to the Sierra Club.

    (b) This paper explains why it makes no sense to attribute every newsworthy weather event to global warming.


    Addendum (9/18): Bizzy Blog has a lot more on Arianna Huffington, including the possible (secret) tax reason she's apparently taken advantage of some fans.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:37 PM

    Friday, September 16, 2005

    Katrina Bailout: $200 Billion in Perspective

    The National Center's Ryan Balis says:
    213 Republicans already approved, and President Bush signed into law, a $51.8 billion hurricane "response" package. Now the President is proclaiming the American taxpayer should fund what could top $200 billion as an installment payment on an FDR-style laundry list of government 'visionary' creations.

    Let's pause for a moment and reflect upon this fact: $200 billion is roughly ten percent of Britain's GDP in 2004.
    I recall that the original Louisiana Purchase cost $15 million. According to the Inflation Calculator, after adjusting for inflation, that $15 million would be nearly $193 million today -- still a good bit less than $200 billion.

    Was Thomas Jefferson simply a better negotiator than George Bush? Or is our nation being a tad less careful with its tax revenues these days?

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:38 PM

    Thursday, September 15, 2005

    Bush's Hurricane Speech

    After you've finished emptying your wallet, selling the family silver, emptying your kids' college funds and selling everything of value in your home to pay the taxes necessary to pay the bill for what the White House is proposing to put millions of people back below sea level, where they'll be especially vulnerable to the next hurricane, read the Heritage Foundation paper From Tragedy to Triumph: Principled Solutions for Rebuilding Lives and Communities.

    Heritage remains aware that there is such a thing as self-reliance and, in theory at least, limited government. Bush used to be aware of the same.

    I guess he 'grew' in office.

    Addendum: Here's the AP's take:
    WASHINGTON - The era of big government is back. President Bush is presiding over the most expensive government relief and reconstruction operation in U.S. history.

    With estimates of the federal tab ranging up to $200 billion or more for rebuilding New Orleans and other storm-ravaged Gulf Coast cities, Bush and his Republican allies in Congress are casting aside budget discipline.

    They're also deferring - for now - vows to finish the Reagan revolution against big government and turning to some of the same kinds of public health, housing and job assistance programs they once criticized as legacies of the Democrats' New Deal and Great Society.

    Bush called the project "one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen" in his Thursday evening address to the nation from New Orleans...
    Addendum 2: JunkYardBlog notes the mayor of New Orleans likes moolah from federal taxpayers, but doesn't want our opinions.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:31 PM

    The Book on John Roberts

    Next time, let's tell them the briefing book is in the study, with Colonel Mustard.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:12 AM

    Pledge of Allegiance Ruling to the Left of the Ultra-Left

    Even ultra-liberal Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, the man who wrote the infamously activist decision in Roe v.Wade, would have called yesterday's court ruling on the Pledge of Allegiance "out of the mainstream."

    To see why I say so, read the Brennan quotes in this Project 21 press release.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:07 AM

    Wednesday, September 14, 2005

    Biden v. Roberts

    ...video clips are available right now on the Senate Republican Conference website.

    Barbara Ledeen recommends the clip (under the picture of John Roberts as of 5:45 Eastern Sept. 14) of Judge Roberts explaining the role of the judiciary to Senator Joe Biden (D-DE). She also sent along a transcript of what is on the clip:
    BIDEN (to Judge Roberts): "You've told me nothing with all due respect. As if the public is not entitled to an answer. None of us here in the Senate would ever be elected without answering such questions."

    ROBERTS (responding to Sen. Biden): You make the point that [Senators] stand for election and [they] wouldn't be elected [if] we didn't tell people what we stand for. Judges don't stand for election. I'm not standing for election. And it is contrary to the role of judges in our society to say that this judge should go on the bench because these are his or her positions and those are the positions they're going to apply. Judges go on the bench and they apply and decide cases according to the judicial process, not on the basis of promises made earlier to get elected or promises made earlier to get confirmed. That's inconsistent with the independence and integrity of the Supreme Court.
    Here's another Biden-Roberts exchange, from earlier in Biden's questioning:
    BIDEN: I promise I won't interrupt if you give short answers....

    Minutes later...

    BIDEN: If I may interrupt...

    ROBERTS: Well, and -

    BIDEN [interrupting again]: Do you side more...
    Another Biden quote, this time from 12 years ago, when Justice Ruth Ginsburg was facing her own confirmation and questioning from Senator Biden:
    "[Y]ou not only have a right to choose what you will answer and not answer, but in my view you should not answer a question of what your view will be on an issue that clearly is going to come before the court in 50 different forms, probably, over the next - over your tenure on the court." (quote provided by the Republican National Committee, citing the Committee On The Judiciary, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 7/22/93)

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:04 PM

    Tuesday, September 13, 2005

    Endangered Species Act: Fix It, Don't Fix it

    The Seattle Post-Intelligencer caps off a silly editorial about Rep. Richard Pombo's plans to strengthen/weaken (depending on whom you ask) the Endangered Species Act with this concluding paragraph:
    As critics point out, the [Endangered Species] act hasn't restored many threatened species to robust health. If consensus can be found, it's possible that Congress could craft better ways of restoring endangered species. But the starting point must be to prevent extinction. On that basic responsibility, Congress must not mess with the Endangered Species Act's great success.
    In other words, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer simultaneously believes the following:
  • The Endangered Species Act is not working very well.
  • Congress may be able to craft an Endangered Species Act that would do a better job.
  • The Endangered Species Act is a great success.
  • Congress should not mess with the Endangered Species Act.
  • Make up your minds, folks.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:30 PM

    Monday, September 12, 2005

    Shame in Gaza

    Palestinians loot and burn synagogues on a day Palestinian "leader" Mahmoud Abbas calls "a day of happiness and joy that the Palestinian people have not witnessed for a century."

    In this London Times article, someone named Abu Eliyan excuses the destruction, claiming (as far as is reported, with a straight face) that the looters "are not stealing. They are not robbers. They are just very poor. These people were impoverished by the Israelis and they are scarcely at subsistence level. Those you see here do this because they want to live, by fair means or foul."

    What garbage. No one ever filled an empty stomach by setting fire to a synagogue.

    Addendum: Joel Rosenberg has more.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:41 PM

    Tell It to Anne Rice

    From Texican Tattler:
    I heard a radio interview over the weekend with one of the evacuees in Houston, bitching that the $2000 debit card he received from FEMA wasn't enough, he needed at least $10,000 to feed his family. I had to wonder just how much the Astrodome was charging people to eat?

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:21 PM

    Katrina Rescues: The Military's Work Continues

    Joe Roche has shared more emails about his wife, Lili, who is conducting hurricane rescue work as part of her service with the Washington D.C. National Guard. She is based at Naval Air Station New Orleans.

    Before I share the (edited) e-mails, a link: Lili's unit was the focus of a Washington Times story today.

    And now for the e-mails, written by Joe, based on the phone calls he is receiving from Lili:
    September 11

    ...Lili sounds great. She was visited by a reporter for the Washington Times today.

    In addition to other search and rescue and transport missions, she took calls and coordinates of dogs being sighted in the city. Some dogs are rabid, and that is now a concern while they are also trying to pick up and rescue the pets. There are still some parts that have flooding, and pets there are still on rooftops in those areas...

    She said there is a big search for more space on the base, and that people are jealous of her office space. She has it good. Nonetheless, she told me she wants to do more missions in the city...

    After yesterday's mishaps, things got under control again today. Everyone is sleeping when they are supposed to, and getting more of it. So safety has returned.

    That is all. Have a good week.

    September 10

    Much better sounding today. Perhaps the comforts of the base are mitigating the stresses.

    Lili said it is wild to see all the people setting up and the huge operations going on. She saw foreign supporting soldiers, rescue workers and aid groups. She saw some from Luxemburg, some from Israel, and some from Germany.

    There is also a massive quad in the base with perhaps around 50 large tents, set up as temporary shelter bays, housing a huge number of contractors and workers of all types. These being civilian types.

    There are also large numbers of various Search & Rescue units setting up.

    Her descriptions really reminded me of what it was like at Baghdad International Airport when during the first year under the 1st Armored Division, it was like one massive operations enterprise. That is what it sounds like is happening at Naval Air Station New Orleans. Not just military, but also every type of rescue outfit from all over the country, huge numbers of diverse civilian contractors, and also the foreign groups. She described long and big set-ups of volunteer campers and trailers.

    Clearly, it is all starting to fall into place there. A huge, massive, gargantuan enterprise is being set up that is going to really do some incredible stuff over the coming weeks and months.

    Contrary to the earlier report that the Air Force had abandoned the place, she said there are now big operations and set-ups from all of the military services there. This includes the Navy, Marines, Air Force, Army, Coast Guard.

    She saw one of those massive giant C-5 Starlifter planes land. It is the fourth largest plane in the world. I remember seeing them at our air base in Germany -- they completely dwarf C-130s!

    The dining facility (DFAC) on base is very nice, but she doesn't get there much because it is a long way from where she is, and because of the many different military branches there, it makes it a bit uncomfortable walking around too much. Everyone likes to bark out orders.

    She has an office now. It was set up and opened today. It is very nice. People of all sorts of government agencies often pop in to talk to her. She has AC and nice window views of the whole flight line. There are many such operations centers popping up, so it is going to be huge.

    She said that the bureaucracy now getting established is really complicated. At first, this is always the case. She said that it was very hard all day to keep track of who was who, what needed to go where, how to do what, and when to do this and that. ...Wow!

    She said that it impresses her that a huge operation is being established that is going to go on for a long time. "It is all falling into place."

    The heat returned today. This must be making it much harder for the search, rescue and patrolling units in the city. However, Lili lucked out because she worked in her AC'd office.

    Her job is pretty much the heart of her unit's flight operations throughout New Orleans. She takes the calls for missions, and then calls out to get the crews, pilots and mechanics together to get the mission going. She is the key to it all happening -- that is her job. They are doing search-and-rescue missions, transporting patients and moving evacuees around/out.

    She said that fatigue is starting to show with some of the pilots. Nothing bad happened with her unit, but other units had some mishaps. One, which she said is probably on TV (I haven't seen it) was when a helicopter carrying a slingloaded water bladder hit a powerline with it, knocking it down and losing the load with water splashing everywhere. There was also a blade strike. And more worrying, there was a "precautionary landing," which means a potentially serious mechanical failure sometimes leading to a crash. The helicopter nearly had to land in the water. In the end, it landed alright and nothing bad happened. All told, though, there were no injuries and nothing serious resulted from these mishaps. She said the point is, though, that it shows there is a lot of fatigue and weariness being felt by the overworked crews and pilots.

    She also said that the water is being pumped out of the city very well, at an incredible rate. However, the effect on Lake Pontchatrain is probably very bad. She said she saw it flowing into the lake as a "clearly defined thick black" pool of stuff.

    I think it may help that today the outline of a huge massive organization is starting to take shape. Structure in such a place stricken by anarchy and chaos might be a comfort. I don't know. She did sound good, spirits lifted, and determined to keep carrying on.

    That is all.

    September 9

    She sounded drained, sad, maybe a little depressed. I asked her about it, and it appears that this is being felt all around now. It may be because of the missions, the constant sights, and the smell. I can tell you that in my unit, we are told that for a full-on/full-mass rescue mission, one week is about the total amount of time. Here is what she said about the day today...

    She flew a mission with reporters. One was a video journalist and the other was a New Orleans Times-Picayune journalist. They had them fly to the worst hit areas where they are doing missions, over the broken levees, and a number of other significant sights.

    She also flew other missions. She said that her unit is flying "anything" that comes up for missions. Sometimes it is rescue, sometimes it is transporting something, sometimes it is taking VIPs around. They never know.

    The constant sights of "total destruction," however, are making everyone (her fellow soldiers) feel down and maybe a bit depressed. She said that it is "overwhelming to see the total destruction" and that it "isn't like any movie you have seen, except perhaps some weird sci-fi flick."

    She saw unexpected random things that throw you a bit. For example, there was a horse standing lost and clearly dazed in a street intersection. Another one later on was eating what was obviously bad and contaminated stuff. There are animals starving to death on rooftops. And while it is hard to make out human bodies in the water because of all the sludge and debris, when they lower, you can see a few at a time.

    The smell is really messing them up. It is all over everything, "you smell New Orleans on everything, all night long." She said, "you can't wash it out."

    The water has dropped in much of the city. Some areas have had up to 20 feet of flooding recede. What is left, though, is not nice to see: "Everything is covered with this grey mud that stinks really bad." There are houses with rings around them from where the grey mud just piled up from the flooding. Some only had the very top tips of the roofs over the water.

    At collection points where previously there had been hundreds and thousands of evacuees, "there are piles and piles of peoples luggage, purses, bags and personal stuff." All that had to be left behind, is now just sitting there abandoned.

    She said that you see no one most of the time. "The city is dead." "Nothing pretty. It is full of dead."

    When there are people, it is more sad and bad-feeling than before. They are still doing rescue missions, but the people are mostly those who don't want to leave. They are giving up because they have run out of food, or other traumatic reasons.

    She said, "being near the devastation every day, all day long, constantly, is wearing on everyone."

    She said that an eerie sight is all the buses that are sitting spaced out at intervals along certain streets. They are wrecked, having been left and not used through the storm and the flooding. They are city buses, school buses, and those tan or plain types sometimes used by churches or the military. All of them just sitting there, never having been used. There are cars scattered everywhere too, as though people often just abandoned them in the streets.

    She sees "heavily armed military and police" patrolling the streets. "They must have it really hard" because she said they are right on and in the mess and smell. Some are walking where it is dry, others are riding in high-water trucks and armored vehicles. She also saw many military convoys going through the city.

    She said that except for a few areas where people still remain, mostly it is like a "dead city" with heavily armed soldiers and dying/starving animals. The smell and that grey mud just makes it all seem "unreal."

    She saw a lot of houses and buildings that had "like shuffled and bumped into other" houses and buildings. There was a marina where "all of the boats had been forced off of the water and onto the land."

    When they see someone, they contact ground units to get to them if it isn't an urgent rescue situation.

    She said it appears that around the base and into that part of New Orleans, that is where the worst of the hurricane wind damage hit. The flooding parts are like a separate event. She said that while the press/media focused so much on the Superdome and Convention Center, "the reality is that there is massive, just total devastation elsewhere." She said that so much "focused on those sights because it was easier to get cameras and quick powerful pictures." The other areas are just like dead parts of the city.

    She warned that when she returns, the smell of New Orleans will be on her.

    She added that the weather is beautiful. "It is perfect for flying."

    ...She said that her unit is on standby constantly for missions. They are setting up more permanent operations centers, so all this can go on for much longer and be very organized. She said the Crew Chiefs are working incredibly hard, and everyone is overdoing themselves.

    She did add that it is nice to be back at base because they have AC, electricity, lights, and it is comfortable. They even have running water, though they can't drink it or put it on toothbrushes. It is brought in by the military.

    That is all.
    Earlier e-mails covering Lili's hurricane rescue experiences can be found here and here.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:15 AM

    Saturday, September 10, 2005

    Been There, Done That

    Cornel West, rap artist, is calling for a "Marshall Plan" for the South.

    We had that. It was called "The Great Society."

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:53 PM

    Friday, September 09, 2005

    Katrina's Pestilence Potential

    I was visiting the New Jersey Pest Management Association website today (yes, my life is very exciting) and happened to notice this "fun fact about pests":
    In the 1960s, animal behavior researchers studied the effects of various substances on spiders. When spiders were fed flies that had been injected with caffeine, they spun very 'nervous' webs. When spiders ate flies injected with LSD, they spun webs with wild, abstract patterns. Spiders that were given sedatives fell asleep before completing their webs.
    How much do you want to bet that this study was funded by tax dollars?

    I was actually at the website after reading this far more serious piece about the Katrina aftermath:
    "There is an aspect to the devastation of New Orleans and other Gulf Coast cities," says Leonard Douglen, executive director of the New Jersey Pest Management Association, "that must not be overlooked. It is the need to deal with an insect and rodent pest populations that are going to explode, creating the potential for the spread of disease that rivals the polluted waters."

    Douglen urges the state and federal government authorities in charge of evacuating the human population of New Orleans and tending to the needs of other affected Gulf Coast cities "to undertake a major pesticide spraying program in order to exterminate a massive outbreak of mosquitoes, major vectors for the spread of diseases that include Malaria and West Nile Fever, along with other insect pest populations."

    The conditions for the breeding of billions of mosquitoes are ideal says Douglen. "Unless the troops, police, contractors and others in the affected areas are protected against the mosquitoes, we could see significant outbreaks of disease among them." Stinging insects such as wasps, Yellow Jackets, and others will return in force as well.

    Douglen also warns against a huge population increase among rats. "Not only do they now have access to vast supplies of food and ample harborage among abandoned homes and other structures, but rats under these circumstances will breed rapidly in response to this favorable environment." Mathematically, a single pair of rats has the potential of producing 359 million descendents in just three year's time.

    "The current population of rats in the affected areas can reproduce at a rate of an entire new generation within three months. The gestation period is a scant twenty-two days and a female rat will give birth to an average litter of eight. In their brief lifespan of nine months, each will produce an average of twenty new rats," said Douglen.

    The Black Plague of the 1400's, which killed a third of the population of Europe, was spread by the combination of rats and the parasitic fleas that lived off of them, that transmitted the bubonic plague to humans. As recently as 1994, rats and fleas were responsible for an outbreak of the pneumonic plague in India....
    Katrina appears to be the disaster that never quits.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:09 PM

    Hawaiian Apartheid?

    This is harsh.

    Unfortunately, it also is accurate.

    If the "Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005" happens to become law, I'm going to being looking very, very hard for the necessary single Native Hawaiian ancestor it takes to get me exempt from federal and state income taxes. Why should I have to pay, if they do not?

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:58 PM

    Katrina Rescues: Scenes of New Orleans

    As I mentioned in this post, our friend Joe Roche's wife Lili, a member of the Washington, DC National Guard, is doing helicopter rescue missions in hurricane-affected areas.

    Joe's been sharing her reports about her experiences with friends and family and, with his permission and Lili's, I'm reprinting one of his emails here.

    But first, a photo (taken before Katrina struck) of Joe and his new (less than a year) bride with their mutual boss:

    Joe and Lili Roche With Secretary Rumsfeld

    And now, Joe's letter:
    Lili is doing missions in downtown New Orleans, picking up people that need rescuing and transporting them to medical triage sites, going around the city, and she has flown over a town in Mississippi... I want to just pass on what she has said and what she is doing, so I'm not going to organize this. I have spoken to her a few times since Monday. Some of what she is seeing and experiencing is very bad....

    Lili has been flying into New Orleans, leaning outside the helicopter on the right side (opposite the Crew Chief), with doors off. She said she has gotten sunburned on the right side of her face as a result. The weather is much nicer now because the heat has broken. It still is much hotter there elsewhere, but not as bad as Southern Louisiana can be.

    She has flown missions in which they pick up people who need rescuing, and then transport them to medical facilities that have been set up, such as at New Orleans International Airport, called Neil Armstrong airport something-or-other.

    The staging area she is based at is at the main international Baton Rouge airport. She says it is one massive military city now. There is an entire huge part of the airport where her helicopters land. There are about 50 Blackhawks also there, huge Sea Stallion helicopters, and C-130 airplanes around too. Today some massive C-17 mega-planes landed. There are soldiers all over the place there, staying in hotels and any other facility that can be opened and taken over. She is currently sleeping comfortably in an office with five other female soldiers. There are soldiers from all over the country, and also police officers from all over the country. She has met some from Virginia and elsewhere.

    She has befriended some soldiers from the Louisiana National Guard's Engineer units. One young girl is getting this weekend off to go get married, and then will return to missions. I think Lili is good friends with the soldier.

    The bulk of the Louisiana NG Aviation units are rotating out of missions today because they need servicing. There are only so many hours and days a helicopter can go before it becomes dangerous. ALL of them are at or well beyond those limits. Therefore, as of today, Lili's unit is picking up the missions they were performing. This is added on to the other missions her unit has been assigned.

    One Alabama National Guard unit has flown over 1,600 flight hours since the response began for the hurricane's impact. That very well could be a record.

    Another flight unit performed 148 hoist missions in one day. Bear in mind that hoist missions are very dangerous for helicopters. They make it look easy on TV, but there are many very dangerous issues and things to deal with when a helicopter is hovering and lowering a basket like that to rescue a victim.

    Lili said that as her chopper approached to pick someone up, she could see bodies floating in the water. Near one man she picked up, there was a body partially wrapped up in a trash bag just sitting nearby. When she looks down at the flooded streets while flying over them, she can see bodies.

    She said that the smell of rotting bodies and all the other refuse that is fermenting in the water in New Orleans can be detected from afar. As her helicopter is approaching the city, even though she is up in the air, she said she can smell it. The soldiers at Baton Rouge say they can smell New Orleans on them all night long. She said that their uniforms and gear smells of this when they return from missions.

    She has been flying around the Superdome in downtown New Orleans. The others soldiers she is with are telling of harrowing experiences they had. One soldier was shot in the leg while he was trying to patrol at the Superdome when the crowd was at its peak stress. There were multiple murders, rapes and other crimes carried out inside the Superdome. Some of the rapists were killed by the crowd. One man who raped a small baby girl was lynched by a crowd and thrown off of a ramp.

    Lili said that it is interesting to see how in many parts of New Orleans, one side is so bad with flooding, damage and death, while just across the water ways, basically the size of a street, houses are untouched, clean and just fine. There are some neighborhoods of the city that escaped almost all of the damage.

    She said that New Orleans actually doesn't have much storm damage.

    In contrast, her flights in Mississippi have seen destruction on massive scales. She said that the damage in Mississippi is wind damage, the direct hit from the hurricane, and that it is therefore much worse. It looks like an atom bomb went off. New Orleans, in contrast, suffered marginal wind damage. She said that there are many buildings with windows, walls and other stuff blown out, but nothing so bad as in Mississippi. New Orleans instead was destroyed by the flooding that happened, interestingly, many hours AFTER the hurricane had passed (because of the levee breaks).

    Lili flew over Hattiesburg, Mississippi...

    In Hattiesburg, the damage is from the wind of the hurricane. She could see blue tarps over where roofs have been torn off of houses. This is actually a good thing to see because it indicates that people are functioning there. They aren't suffering massive flood damage, and appear to be able to survive alright. Putting up the tarps is a sign that people can live there and intend to stay and recover. That is what she saw over Hattiesburg.

    Lili has flown victims to New Orleans international airport. She said they are being carried on makeshift items, such as one very overweight man who was carried on a large luggage carrier. The people board C-130s, which then fly them to other staging areas.

    The work to keep her unit's helicopters going is a lot. They have pre-flight maintenance, post-flight maintenance, daily equipment checks, and also mechanical fixes to make. Basically, if a bird (helicopter) is in the air for 10 hours in a single day, that is too much. Most all of them there are doing more than that however!

    Keeping the birds flying, keeping the rescue equipment working and safe, are also constant jobs.

    She said that there are big military convoys moving around all over the place. She sees this at her base, and when she flies she sees them everywhere.

    There are still thousands of rescue missions to be carried out. There are also a series of mass casualty medivac missions, and also huge refugee populations to be moved. Also, it is unclear at this time how the New Orleans police decision to begin forced evacuations today will impact the military missions. Lili and her unit are looking at going full tilt for a long time, likely only to stop when the birds can't fly anymore.

    I believe I've seen her helicopters on TV a couple times. You can see it too, perhaps. She flies in Hueys that have the medical red cross sign on the front and sides. Actually, one of her helicopters don't have the sign. Anyway, you might catch a glimpse of her and her helicopters, so I thought I'd let you know.

    Joe
    Addendum 2/19/06: As has now been well-documented, rumors and media reports of murders and other incidents of reported violent crimes in the Superdome turn out to have been unsubstantiated. We apologize for our part in repeating false information.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:34 AM

    Thursday, September 08, 2005

    Battleship Iowa to House Gay Museum?

    Will the Battleship Iowa soon house (free registration required) a museum dedicated to "lesbian, gay, bisexual [and] transgender[ed]" veterans?

    The Historic Ship Memorial at Pacific Square, a group that is trying to convince the city of San Francisco to exhibit the Iowa, hopes putting such a museum on the Iowa will attract the interest of San Francisco's board of supervisors. In July, the board voted against exhibiting the Iowa, citing (given that we are talking about San Francisco) utterly predictable political reasons.

    The Iowa, which has earned 11 battle stars, was first commissioned in 1943 and most recently decommissioned in 1990. She saw significant action in World War II. She carried President Roosevelt part of the way to the Teheran Conference and then saw action in the Pacific Theatre, including in the Marshall Islands and Okinawa and the Battle for Leyte Gulf. She served as Admiral William F. Halsey's flagship during the Japanese surrender ceremony (60 years ago last Friday). She saw action in the Korean War and in the Mediterranean, and was decommissioned in 1958, only to be recommissioned in 1984 as part of President Reagan's expansion of the Navy. In 1989, the Iowa received national attention when tragedy struck: A never-fully-explained explosion in one of her nine 16-inch gun turrets killed 47 sailors.

    The Iowa remains part of the U.S. Navy's Reserve Fleet.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:04 AM

    Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act Reviewed

    David Almasi and I weigh in on the "The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005" here.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:24 AM

    Tuesday, September 06, 2005

    NFL Hostile to Conservatives?

    Michelle Malkin sees a Bush-hating trend at the NFL.

    Maybe it is because of owners like this?

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:02 PM

    Black Activists on Chief Justice Rehnquist

    Several members of Project 21 are speaking out on the legacy of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:00 AM

    Response to Black Caucus Criticism of Katrina Relief

    Project 21 has responded to Congressional Black Caucus criticisms of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:58 AM

    Ex-Liberal in Hollywood: New Orleans: Where Laid Back is Laid Bare

    Clark Baker sent me a copy of a post in his new blog "Ex-Liberal in Hollywood" in response to my post about Anne Rice complaining about America. After I read the post he sent me I went to his blog and read a lot more of it, including why he became an ex-liberal.

    Clark Baker has a lot to say, and he doesnt mince words saying it. I recommend this fresh new blog.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:08 AM

    Monday, September 05, 2005

    Katrina Rescues: A Military Perspective

    I'm posting a letter from Joe Roche, whose wife is doing helicopter rescue missions in hurricane-affected areas, "24/7, very tired, sometimes being shot at, facing intense heat and humidity, having spartan-to-bare sleeping conditions, with sickness and disease spreading."
    Amy,

    I want you to know that over the past days, our soldiers of the National Guard have quickly and readily made big sacrifices so they can get down to the Hurricane Katrina rescue mission. My wife, as you know, is with National Guard. I watched last week as they worked feverishly, being called in from their other jobs and away from their families, to get everything ready to go.

    Tens of thousands of National Guard soldiers have mobilized all over the country like this. I know you have felt grief over the disaster and the issue some people have made of it. I want you to take heart and lift your spirits at what has happened with our military.

    There is now a MASSIVE military response under way. It is moving very fast, in fact. So fast that it quickly and frequently overwhelmed the capacity to put it all in place and get it launched.

    I understand the frustration, fear and sadness being felt, but it takes time to get such a thing going. Remember that it took many months for our military operations to get under way overseas when the decisions were made to do so. In fact, I think there was some controversy about that in both of the wars over Iraq, when it took from August to January to launch Operation Desert Storm, and even longer to get Operation Iraqi Freedom going. I well remember even having to assure people that we were going to respond after September 11th when some started worrying that weeks had passed and nothing had happened.

    I believe that such comparisons actually will show that the military response to Hurricane Katrina's destruction is going at breath-taking fast speed.

    Lt. Gen. Russell Honore, the commanding General of the Army National Guard, said that the thing to realize is that the rescuers who were there on the first day were also victims of the storm.

    It takes time to organize the massive operation now under way. I watched my wife and her unit prepare to go, and I felt worried that they would become victims too if they didn't properly prepare. The vital thing the soldiers have to make sure of is that they are the solution to the problem, and not part of the problem. Therefore, what has happened is that a vast, truly amazing and powerfully inspiration-driven massive team of professionals has quickly and effectively set up a huge series of staging areas from which rescue operations can begin.

    It is a fact that with the destruction of the storm, there were very few open and secure areas in which to set up huge military operations. Well, defying all the challenges, your National Guard soldiers have done that brilliantly!

    Now we are seeing this massive military response making it's impact. Tens of thousands have been rescued, moving entire refugee populations hundreds of miles. I don't believe others ever have been able to do this, such as the Europeans in the Balkans. No, such massive population moves are normally the work of war and crime that last years. This time, bigger and faster than most in history, your National Guard has moved in, set up, and begun one of the largest rescue operations in history.

    The thing that has affected me most, however, are the soldiers doing this. I have seen police officers, Vietnam Veterans, and other professionals from all sorts of jobs, dropping everything last week and getting airborne to get down there. And Amy, it is scary too.

    My wife is my best friend and the best person I have ever met. Now she is doing helicopter rescue missions, 24/7, very tired, sometimes being shot at, facing intense heat and humidity, having spartan-to-bare sleeping conditions, with sickness and disease spreading. There are thousands of rescue operations to do, and there are dozens of air units and even more ground units working hard and sometimes bumping into each other. It is more dangerous than I think people realize.

    Yet, amazingly and very inspiringly, I watched as these National Guard soldiers cancelled plans for college, jobs, their kids' plans for next week, basically everything that you can imagine, and instead jumped eagerly and with great determination to get ready and deploy to Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

    Some of them are veterans, soldiers who have served for years in many of our wars and missions, civilian professionals who have jobs and lives and families, and all of them have set everything aside to go. Many are taking big financial hits, and their families have to make big adjustments. But you know what? They are all highly motivated and eager to get down there and do their jobs.

    I know that for the victims of this storm, their suffering and tragedy is terrible and cannot be erased. I do hope we all realize, though, that the military is making a massively huge effort to rescue and help them that also involves National Guard soldiers making countless personal sacrifices.

    We should have found inspiration from the determination of the people of New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to survive the long series of nightmares they have endured as a result of the hurricane. I also believe that we should now find inspiration in our great military, primarily the Army National Guard, for how they have jumped full steam ahead into this.

    Be proud of your soldiers, keep your spirits and hopes high. There are some very sad and gruesome days and weeks ahead for our nation as we learn of the full scope of the disaster. Face it with the resolve, focus and determination that our military is showing us now, and we'll get through this to make a more safe future for such events and rebuild what has been lost.

    Joe

    Labels:

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:46 AM

    Sunday, September 04, 2005

    Reviewing Anne Rice

    Judging from her screed in the New York Times today, the writer Anne Rice apparently doesn't know the simple word "thanks."
    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.
    Speaking as someone who hates jazz, dislikes most of the creole food I've been introduced to, and never once went to Mardi Gras, but nonetheless sent a donation for Katrina relief, if I thought you, Anne Rice, spoke for anyone but yourself I would put a stop on the check.

    Let's see what other blogs say about Anne Rice's point of view:

    Flood uses the "f-word."

    Michael at 1-imagery.com says:
    I'm sorry, but I can't agree with you on this one, Ms. Rice. I can't think of anyone that could or did "turn their backs" on the people of New Orleans. I perceive that there was mistake after mistake made in responding to this horrible disaster, but I don't think that any of it was motivated by a disdain for the people of New Orleans in any form, on any level.
    Free Thinker Slaves addresses Rice's essay at some length. A small excerpt:
    Anyone who believes the America hates New Orleans or turned its back on it is either blinded or something worse. America loves New Orleans. People all around the nation turn on the TV because they care about it. They are shocked about what they see because they didn't expect people in a city such as this to turn on one other. And don't tell me it's all about a desperate search for food - people aren't being eaten they are being raped! Where is the so-called "gentleness" of these residents?
    A number of bloggers posted Anne Rice's op-ed in full with no comment, which may mean that they liked it, or, like me, were agog, but one wonders if they have heard of copyright law. (And, really, if you don't have anything to say, why do you have a blog?)

    I also found three bloggers who posted that they liked Rice's piece. No one was especially specific as to why, but it seemed to be a vague combination of appreciation for vampire novels combined with a dislike for President Bush.

    For myself, I think Anne Rice's op-ed was inappropriately hostile and irresponsible. When someone lends you a helping hand, don't spit in it. Furthermore, while Anne Rice herself doesn't need the charitable donations, tax dollars and (perhaps) future tourist dollars of the people Rice is telling off, there are hurricane victims who do. Rice's screed is so obnoxious it could make people want to keep their dollars to themselves.

    Fortunately, if blogger attention is any indication, most people seem to be ignoring Anne Rice's piece. I guess that's what I should have done, too. Certainly, the New York Times should have.

    Addendum: Anne Rice should read this letter.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:33 PM

    Tidbits on Rehnquist

    A few tidbits I saw this night while reading about the late Chief Justice:
    Comedian/actor Robin Williams, doing a supposed imitation of Rehnquist soon after he became Chief Justice in 1986, as quoted in People magazine's September 22, 1986 edition:
    Do I have a hood on my new robe?
    Senator Ted Kennedy on Rehnquist during the latter's 1986 Senate confirmation hearing (as cited in the August 25, 1986 New Republic, which added after Kennedy's quote: "A fair point."):
    Imagine what America would be like if Mr. Rehnquist had been chief justice and his cramped and narrow view of the Constitution had prevailed in the critical years since World War II.
    A synopsis of Rehnquist's legacy (and an answer to Kennedy), by Jan Crawford Greenburg for the Chicago Tribune:
    [Justice Rehnquist's] legacy is a more overarching one, because he has, quite literally, changed the terms of the debate. His outlook on the law - that courts should strictly interpret laws, not seek to solve problems - was not embraced by some of his colleagues when he joined the bench more than three decades ago. But today, arguments are framed in terms of the law. The language in court opinions, even by the court's liberal justices, has changed.
    My quibble with Rehnquist: That he didn't join the court far earlier, and stay much longer.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:05 AM

    Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, RIP

    A great man has died.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:26 AM

    Saturday, September 03, 2005

    Hurricane Relief Suggestion Box

    I've not blogged the Katrina aftermath much, partly because I'm so disgusted I don't trust myself around a keyboard when I'm thinking about it, and partly because I have been assuming that most decent, clear-thinking people are thinking pretty much the same thing.

    I guess I was wrong on the second count, at least, because The Paragraph Farmer has posted a list of Katrina-related suggestions by people who are, as far as I know, decent and clear-thinking, and I disagree with a far amount of these suggestions. So, I'm going to have a post with my running thoughts about Katrina, and if/as I update it, I may bump this post to the top.

    First, before I blather on, remember that private donations are important. Instapundit has a list; go here if you want your donation up to $100,000 automatically doubled and are willing to give to the third largest disaster relief charity in the U.S., after the Red Cross and Salvation Army.

    Now for the more argumentative stuff.

    I wouldn't call my post, as Patrick did, "The suggestion box for Uncle Sam." (Sorry, Patrick.) I'd name it The Suggestion Box for Individuals, Followed by Organizations (Whether Non-Profit or For-Profit), Followed by Local Government, Followed by State Government, Followed - as a Last Resort and Probably Not Even Then -- by the National Government." (What's that? Patrick's theme is more concise? Well, maybe... but mine, if adopted, would save a lot of money.)

    I wouldn't follow Hugh Hewitt's advice, as reported by The Paragraph Farmer, to "Establish a Center for the Study of Mass Casualty Events at Tulane University in New Orleans." If I have a long-term suggestion for Tulane University in New Orleans, it is this: Move. A "Center for the Study of Mass Casualty Events" based in a city that is a sitting duck for mass casualty events every 100-200 years (there could just as easily be another one next month as in 2017 or 2077 or 2111 or any year you pick out of a hat) is a perversity. One is either in favor of reducing mass casualty events or one is not. (If such a center were to be established, it could be entitled the "Center for the Encouragement of Mass Casualty Events.")

    Hugh Hewitt's advice here however, makes 100 times more sense than Michael Savage's lunatic idea to "Impose price controls on gasoline for 90 days." Great idea, and I mean that with all the sarcasm my keyboard can muster. Let's ARTIFICALLY INFLATE THE DEMAND FOR GASOLINE as a way to deal with a gasoline supply disruption. REAL GOOD IDEA. Here's one only slightly dumber: Pray for rain in New Orleans.

    Lew Rockwell's ideas, as related by the Paragraph Farmer in the post linked to above, make sense, except that the federal government, being soulless, cannot do penance.

    Ed Shultz's idea for an "Adopt a Family of Hurricane Katrina Program" made sense, too - especially the fact that he appears to actually be working on making the idea a reality, instead of expecting George W. Bush to do it personally, and right now, besides.

    I'll try to be nice to Patrick, since all this was his idea. I wonder, though, if his idea for a design contest for levees and pumps is needed. For all I know, Patrick has a degree in civil engineering (I sure don't), but don't we already know how to build these things? Isn't the real problem that we build in places that are dangerous while failing to ameliorate the dangers because doing so would cost money we'd rather spend on things that are not a matter of life and death?

    "Relaxing the union rules" in the Gulf states makes sense, if it is necessary. (Strike that last: "Relaxing union rules" can never be unnecessary.)

    Can't endorse another Civilian Conservation Corps. Federal employees don't rebuild the houses of every Tom, Dick and Harry who has a house fire... need I go on? Clearing roads of debris is an appropriate (local) government function.

    Anything rebuilt in the especially dangerous hurricane zones (read: the "bowl" of New Orleans) should be built with private or local government money. If I seem harsh, remember this: Any federal money spent to rebuild New Orleans amounts to a tax-supported financial incentive to encourage people to live in a dangerous area. Such a program would be morally wrong. The French Quarter can exist without federal involvement and is small enough to be evacuated when necessary; anyone else who wants to live and work in the immediate "bowl" area can simply do it with his own resources, cognizant of the risks.

    'Nuff criticism of other ideas. People making ideas are just trying to help and I should be nicer. Plus, my reactions assume a false reality; that is, one in which the federal government won't spend over $100 billion of our money on this. It will because it is expected, because it did this for the last hurricane and the one before that, so people start of expect the feds to swoop in take care of everything, the way Mommy did when we were two years old.

    (Consider this: People who seem to hate George W. Bush also want him to be their Mommy. Are they twisted or what?)

    Here are some ideas from me:

    1) If you live in a ravaged area, and don't have financial resources (savings, employment, insurance covering losses), get a job somewhere else. Six months, a year or more elsewhere isn't the end of the world. Getting out of the devastated area for an appropriate length of time reduces demands for infrastructure there.

    2) If you are elsewhere and run a business, hire a refugee (defined as "one who flees in search of refuge," yes, Americans can be refugees) if you can.

    3) Those who can, which includes but is not limited to private employment services and job websites and charities, should help connect job-seekers with those who can offer employment. For example, Monster.com could let businesses browse the resumes of hurricane victims free of charge. (Yes, I realize few refugees, at this stage, have Internet access, but every bit helps.) Charities can play a big role here.

    4) Plan for the worst next time and don't think it can't happen because we're Americans. I'm not just talking about government, but individuals. Plan to leave town when experts recommend it. Plan enough to have a place to go, and a way to get there. And, when the time comes, don't wait until the last minute.

    5) If you still don't have the resources and ability to always be prepared to get out of town, move to an area with low storm/earthquake risk. Do this as a favor for your neighbors, who may later have to risk their lives to save yours.

    6) If you have morals, brains, and good impulse control, buy a gun. If you lack any one of these, get rid of any guns you have and never get any more.

    7) Local and state governments should get control of street crime during non-emergency times, because that's the only time it is possible. If it is necessary to use the National Guard, and to create tent cities to have enough prison space, do so. Civilized people don't always stay civilized in times of great stress and provocation, but uncivilized people can be counted on to be what they are. Law and order can create civilization in places where it is not flourishing.

    8) Keep Lawrence Guyot off TV. (Sorry, I know he's a gnat and not worthy of a suggestion, but he's on Fox right now claiming that the Katrina response would have been "perfect" if New Orleans had been a predominately white city, and, according to Guyot, everyone in America knows it.)

    9) Local and state governments should have very harsh penalties for looting.

    10) Local and state governments should have enhanced penalties for violent crime during states of emergency. Very enhanced.

    11) Local and state governments should eliminate the statue of limitations for all crimes conducted in an area under a state of emergency. A conviction 20 years from now is better than no conviction at all.

    12) No plea bargains should be accepted for anyone who shot at rescue personnel or committed any crime whatsoever that had the affect of impeding rescue operations during a state of emergency. These crimes are very serious and the message must be sent that anyone who does anything like this can kiss his or her old lifestyle goodbye for quite a long time indeed.

    13) Americans: Stop thinking bad stuff can't happen to you because you are Americans.

    I have more but that's enough for now. Probably more than I should have written, actually.

    Addendum: Coyote Blog has a picture that is worth a thousand words.

    Addendum (9/6): The website www.disasterreliefideas.org has forums for discussions of disaster relief ideas. Check it out.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:36 AM

    Friday, September 02, 2005

    The Civil War Being What?

    The New Orleans mayor says Katrina is "the biggest goddam crisis in the history of this country."

    The biggest crisis since the development cable TV 24/7, yes. But maybe perception becomes reality.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:05 PM

    Congressional Action: Prayer of the House

    On September 2, the Chaplain of the House of Representatives, Reverend Daniel P. Coughlin, offered the following prayer:
    The Nation, Lord God, is overwhelmed today by the mournful sound that comes from the Deep South.

    Like a familiar songstress who knows the fragile pain of us all, her prayer, if set to music, would hold us as an audience on suspended notes that would lift us beyond present expectations.

    From New Orleans and cities, towns, and rural areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, there rises a soulful lament born of the blues now turned black.

    The dreadful hurricane has swept over the South as a violent baptism. As witnesses, all of us turn to You, O Lord. You alone can renew faith and bring these people to new and promising life.

    The cries of the poor over their families, their homes, their past and their future can sway any indifferent heart in America to be moved to prayer, solidarity, and generosity.

    Until the South can sing again Your praises in her churches, on front porches, in the fields and the shipyards once again, we will hold onto the words of Your Song of Songs: "Deep waters cannot quench love; nor floods sweep it away."

    Help us, Lord, to trust in Your faithful love and deepen our love for one another, especially those most in need of the kindness of strangers.

    Amen.
    Note: "Congressional Action" is a blog feature highlighting an official activity undertaken by or in Congress, very often chosen at random, to provide an educational snapshot of our Congress at work. Opinions and facts represented in this feature do not necessarily represent the views of Amy Ridenour or The National Center for Public Policy Research, nor is this feature intended to express an opinion on any measure under consideration by the Congress.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:00 PM

    Interview with Lt. Gen. Carl Strock

    Reuters has an interesting interview with Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about levee-related funding cuts, hurricanes and the decisions people make.

    Lt. Gen. Carl Strock strikes me as a man of good sense.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:01 PM

    Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Neo-Luddite

    The National Center's Peyton Knight is not joining the Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. fan club (assuming there is one):
    Hurricane Katrina has wrought tragedy and human suffering like few of us can even imagine. Disasters of this magnitude have a way of separating the good from the bad and downright ugly.

    Heroes are emerging in the form of rescue teams and volunteer relief efforts. These selfless Samaritans remind us of what is inherently beautiful about human nature.

    Regrettably, villains have also made their way to the scene. Looters are running rampant. Scammers are hitting the phone lines and the Internet falsely posing as representatives of legitimate charities to rob unsuspecting folks who simply want to help in any way they can.

    So, it is hardly surprising that environmental opportunists are clamoring to make political hay out of death and destruction.

    Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., in a vain attempt to exploit tragedy and score political points, is blaming Katrina's devastation on President Bush, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, and the absence of the Kyoto global warming treaty.

    Citing Barbour's opposition to the Kyoto global warming treaty and mandatory caps on carbon dioxide emissions, Kennedy sneered: "Perhaps it was Barbour's memo that caused Katrina, at the last moment, to spare New Orleans and save its worst flailing for the Mississippi coast."

    Despicable.
    I'll add my two cents, as usual: Haley Barbour and others oppose both Kyoto and CO2 caps because of their disproportionate negative economic impact on the poor and minorities (science is another reason). We've all heard repeatedly on the news that poverty was a reason why many hurricane victims failed to evacuate as Katrina approached. So, poverty-promoting policies are not the way to avoid hurricane pain.

    You know, if the Luddites always had their way, we wouldn't have satellites orbiting the Earth - and we wouldn't even have seen Katrina coming.

    Addendum: Cooper Republic has a good take on this. I'm a Benny Peiser fan, too.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:37 AM

    Gainesville, Texas

    Looks like Gainesville, Texas, is a very neighborly town.

    Brad Baugh, the inspirational young man in the story, is the cousin of National Center staff Sam Baugh.

    We send our best wishes to Brad and his family.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:38 AM

    Thursday, September 01, 2005

    Congressional Action: Senator Frist on Katrina

    On September 1, Senate Majority Leader gave the first speech as the Senate reconvened on account of Hurricane Katrina:
    Mr. President, on behalf of my colleagues and fellow Americans, I come to the Senate floor to extend my heartfelt sympathies to the victims of Hurricane Katrina and to reassure the thousands of families suffering from this tragedy that we are committed to providing all of the relief and support necessary to get through this terrible and ongoing crisis. It is unprecedented, and it is unfolding before our eyes. Thus, this is a highly unusual emergency session we are conducting tonight.

    As the President has said, our first priority is saving lives. At this very moment, relief organizations and faith-based volunteers are working valiantly to provide food, shelter, water, and medical care. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has delivered essential sustenance and supplies. It has supplied and continues to supply generators and thousands of cots and blankets and has deployed over 1,800 personnel to save lives and render medical assistance.

    Our action, coupled with the House action tomorrow, will ensure that all necessary funds are immediately available to respond to this ongoing crisis.

    The Army, Navy, National Guard, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Air National Guard are hard at work conducting rescue operations and providing aid. Twenty thousand guardsmen are on the ground right now. Thousands more are on the way.

    Volunteers from my home State of Tennessee have been on the front lines all week. I think of Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief, a ministry of 3,000 Southern Baptist Tennessee churches. They are working around the clock on rescue missions, at relief stations, cooking thousands of meals and providing emergency care. And they are offering something else, something desperately needed in this time of tragedy: the hope and the love and the compassion of a Nation--of all of us pulling together as one.

    As Norma Jones, a 63-year-old volunteer from Indian Mound, told a newspaper, "Most of the time, the rescue survivors just want to be hugged."

    Hundreds of storm victims have found refuge in Nashville and middle Tennessee. Many are staying with relatives until it is safe to return, which, as we all know, may not be for months.

    The ongoing crisis has become a crisis of refugees, a crisis of refugees the likes of which this country has never seen. In Memphis, TN, actually a long way from the gulf, there are 10,000 refugees as we speak, and over the course of tonight they are expecting 4,000 more refugees in that town alone.

    On the television, we see families wading waste-high for dozens of blocks in search of food or dry land or clean water. We see those families marooned on those rooftops, as floodwaters swirl past, writing, inscribing with whatever they have available: "Need insulin." "Diabetic." "Please help" -- reaching out for hope, reaching out to be saved.

    Our very own colleague and friend, Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, lost his family home in this disaster. He returned recently -- about 2 days ago -- to his family home and found nothing. Our deepest sympathies go out to him and his family as they face this difficult time and to so many others in this body and, indeed, all around this country who face these personal challenges.

    Towns, cities, communities, and shorelines have been decimated and reduced to rubble, to debris. We have a public health crisis that is just beginning, an ongoing crisis, but one that will increase almost with certainty over the coming days and weeks.

    New Orleans, one of America's most vibrant cities, will take years to recover. Hundreds of helpless people remain trapped on highway overpasses and in the city center with nowhere to go, no food, no water, no sanitation, and security has been tough, as we have all seen over the course of the day.

    Most of Mississippi is without power, without electricity. Towns, villages have been totally destroyed.

    The darkness of the night will be not just dramatic but, as we heard over the last several hours, haunting underneath those bridges, in rural areas with no lights for blocks, for miles, just human suffering.

    Our rescue teams are working hard, and we see that. We are so proud of them, and they deserve our praise--our enormous praise--for their courage, for their boldness, for their dedication. People are still stranded. They are reaching their breaking point, and they need our help now. That is why at 10 o'clock tonight we are acting. That is why we are convening tonight in this urgent session for an emergency supplemental, operating by unanimous consent. FEMA needs additional funds now to continue their relief efforts and to continue the recovery.

    Over the course of the last several days, we have had numerous calls with President Bush, and the Democratic leader and I just several hours ago received a call from President Bush requesting these funds. We applaud President Bush. He moved early to get emergency supplies prepared and ready to go. We have been in constant contact. He and his administration have been working tirelessly to meet this daunting challenge.

    We all recognize we have much to do. There are many frustrations that have bubbled up over the course of the last several days to do more or things are not going well, and we feel those frustrations. We feel that pain. We feel that suffering. Again, that is why we are here tonight--to support, to deliver, to answer those challenges.

    I also thank our State and local leaders for their tremendous dedication and commitment. We, this body, our Federal Government, stand behind them 100 percent. Helping the victims of this hurricane disaster is our highest priority.

    Hurricane Katrina and her aftermath is, as we now know, one of the worst catastrophes this country has ever seen. But this is America, and in America we face our toughest challenges together as one, united and lifted up by our compassion and our strength.

    Even in our darkest hour, our humanity shines through, millions of citizens, millions of Americans committed to one another, to the care and well-being of all.

    Inscribed in this very Chamber just above the Presiding Officer is "E Pluribus Unum," out of many, one.

    Mr. President, I yield the floor.
    Note: "Congressional Action" is a blog feature highlighting an official activity undertaken by or in Congress, very often chosen at random, to provide an educational snapshot of our Congress at work. Opinions and facts represented in this feature do not necessarily represent the views of Amy Ridenour or The National Center for Public Policy Research, nor is this feature intended to express an opinion on any measure under consideration by the Congress.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:00 PM

    Congress is Returning

    Thought folks might be interested in seeing the following announcement, which was put out within the last hour by a member of the U.S. House Leadership:
    In the next few minutes, the President will have a conference call with the House and Senate Leadership. At that time, the President will inform the Bicameral Leadership that FEMA needs additional funds this week.

    The Speaker, in consultation with the Minority Leader, and pursuant to the emergency recall authority provided in the Adjournment Resolution passed by the House in July, has decided to bring the House back into Session tomorrow.

    The specific language of the bill is not yet available, but the goal is for the House to consider the legislation tomorrow afternoon. At this time, we expect the legislation to pass WITHOUT a recorded vote. Therefore, Members will not be required to return to the Capitol.

    More information will be provided as it becomes available.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:07 PM

    Katrina Relief

    Go to this post on Instapundit.com for a comprehensive list of recommendations.

    You can go there now. This blog will be waiting for you when you get back. We won't delete anything. We promise.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:00 AM

    Down With Knee-Jerk, Apoplectic Hysteria

    From today's Inside the Beltway column in the Washington Times:
    Martin and John

    Rekindling the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr., blacks in America aren't being silent about the nomination of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to the Supreme Court -- albeit for this cause, the minority group's leaders are divided for a change.

    Responding to attacks from left-wing blacks, the black leadership network Project 21 is defending its assertion that the beliefs of King are more in line with the record of Judge Roberts than with the agenda of those currently laying claim to the civil rights leader's legacy.

    The debate began more than a week ago when Project 21 member Mychal Massie remarked: 'John Roberts is the type of jurist who represents the beliefs of great Americans such as James Madison and Martin Luther King Jr.'

    At which point African-American Ministers In Action Chairman Tim McDonald charged that Mr. Massie sought to 'pull the wool over the eyes' of the black community, while fellow member Roger Wilkins added: 'John Roberts is no Martin Luther King Jr.'

    Mr. Massie says he does not apologize 'nor shrink from my comments comparing the beliefs' of Judge Roberts and Mr. King.

    'To suggest that I have in some way discredited Dr. King is simply the knee-jerk, apoplectic hysteria of those who find fault with anyone not espousing their leftist mantra of self-segregation and special rights,' he says.
    Personally, I find it interesting that the left objects to Judge Roberts being compared to Martin Luther King, but not to Roberts being compared to James Madison.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:47 AM

    We Have a Friend

    Australia is "looking at ways of providing assistance" to Katrina victims.

    Addendum: Michelle Malkin has IDed some more.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:36 AM

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