Saturday, September 10, 2005

Not only are Democrats righteously indignant, Republicans are not!

No bias here! No sirree! And those evil conservatives are trying to politicize the disaster by helping people get back to school!

Halliburton snags contracts.

"Firms with Bush ties" win federal contracts to help clean up after Katrina. I wonder if that's exclusively firms with Bush ties or just some. I'll bet some with ties to the Blanco Administration and Mayor Nagin get some deals too.

Private good Samaritan

At least the State of Louisiana didn't prevent Al Gore from helping out by airlifting 270 evacuees from New Orleans, "acting at the urging of a doctor who saved the life of the former vice president's son." Some good deeds go unpunished.

A shameful editorial

Tim Worstall fisks the New York Times editorial denouncing President Bush's suspension of the Davis-Bacon Act during Katrina recovery and rebuilding.

So poor, So black

Attributed to Wolf Blitzer:
You simply get chills every time you see these poor individuals…many of these people, almost all of them that we see are so poor and they are so black, and this is going to raise lots of questions for people who are watching this story unfold.

The best reporting on Katrina, imho, has been by Major Garrett of Fox news. Everybody else tooks plenty of video and interviewed people in various emotional states, but the big issue was why there were no first responders there to help. Garrett is the only one I know of who really dug into that question seriously instead of immediately blaming it on FEMA, which never has had that role. He uncovered not just failures by local and state officials, but affirmative interference with people and organizations who were there to bring immediate help to the people stranded in places like the Superdome and the Convention Center.

Those bloated bodies

I was wondering when we were going to get to see the more gruesome handiwork of Katrina and George Bush! CNN has won the right to televise soldiers recovering bodies:
In an e-mail to CNN staff, CNN News Group President Jim Walton said the network filed the the lawsuit to "prohibit any agency from restricting its ability to fully and fairly cover" the hurricane victim recovery process.

"As seen most recently from war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq, from tsunami-ravaged South Asia and from Hurricane Katrina's landfall along the Gulf," Walton wrote, "CNN has shown that it is capable of balancing vigorous reporting with respect for private concerns."
But only when they want to. We've seen in the past two weeks how "balanced" and "vigorous" CNN's coverage has been as it assigned blame for the misery in New Orleans totally to FEMA and the President.

I still haven't seen any facts about the death toll anywhere. Maybe the estimates of 10,000 or more make for a a better story. If they turn out to be accurate, we'll see no end to body counts. Ed Driscoll has a round up of comments on the insane rage that has gripped the news media.

I suspect that the fears of seeing gruesome video of rotting bodies coming to pieces in the hands of the recovery crews won't be realized. We'll see body bags aplenty. But the first time we see a distraught relative upset by learning about the death of a family member from CNN, the need for pictures of bodies will suddenly seem less urgent.

Congressional hearings

Like night follows day, congress will convene hearings and commissions to get to the bottom of whatever happens. This time the Democrats, fearful that the investigation may introduce partisan politics into a national tragedy, are refusing to go along. John Tierney has an inconvenient memory about Congress' role in putting FEMA into DHS.


This lettert to the editor of the Deseret News should be read and considered by every pundit, blogger, politician and critic in the land.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Shades of Heaven's Gate!

They're still out there.

With all due respect to Rod Dreher,

invoking the Insurrection Act would have been a truly dumb idea. First, there was no insurrection. Second, it would have put the people of the city in the middle of a contest between the military saying, "We're here to help you," and their own mayor and governor, the Press, and every Democrat leader in the nation on the other side calling it a coup d'etat. The had plenty of conflicting instructions as it was. Would you really want to make it worse?

Sweet Land Sweet Land of Liberty

The 9/11 Freedom Walk will be tightly restricted by the D.C. Police. Are they trying to protect the marchers from terrorists or Democrat protesters?

This was my first thought.

Lower the ocean or raise the city. Of course, it wouldn't be New Orleans if it made sense. It's always been the nation's Animal House. Maybe it's time to graduate and get a job.

Another reason . . .

I'm not a libertarian. I'm generally in favor of the Second Amendment, but not in this case. I don't think the ACLU will be suing over it, but Glenn could work for the NRA.

Every cloud . . .

silver lining. Heh indeed! (ht: Barcepundit)

Brown is Mudd

I'm amazed how conservatives are piling on FEMA. Even more, that some are saying we need to give the President almost dictatorial powers.

It's not that I don't trust Bush. It's just that another time it could be President Blanco.

I think James Taranto, who seems to think of himself as two people, has the best comment on the day's events:
A few readers have written demanding to know why we haven't offered an opinion on Michael Brown, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The reason is that we don't have an opinion. A lot of people whose opinions we don't trust have been demanding, often quite hysterically, that Brown be fired. Some people whose opinions we do trust have also been critical of Brown, but in more measured terms.

The Safest City in America?

I'm sure the New Orleanians are proud.

The hearings begin

The name Schumer is beginning to acquire its own meaning, like "Uriah Heap," "Fisk," or "Quisling." His very name is synonymous with "political toady." His smarmy remarks today to John Roberts, welcoming him and his lovely wife and "two beautiful children," as if he weren't there to do his worst to smear and torpedo him, are nauseating. His claims that Judge Roberts is "outside the mainstream" are specious and insulting to every person who shares Roberts' values, such as the majority of believing Catholics and other Christians. If he really believes such assertions, he's a fool. If he's trying to persuade others with such baloney, he's a con man.

He implies that high achievement and a "privileged life," are disqualifications from high office. What would he have said to Colin, Janice Rogers Brown, or Condoleeza Rice? If Roberts were another Stephen Breyer, would there be any objections to his background and achievement? Not likely. What a twit!

The Instant Myth

The first one is that Bush is to blame for the problems getting help to the Gulf Coast, which, in turn, is based on the myth that FEMA is supposed to be the first responder to any emergency.

The newest one is that New Orleans streets are choked with bloated bodies of black people. All the white people were protected. Maureen Dowd writes:
But this time, the bodies of those who might have been saved between Monday and Friday, . . . are floating up in front of our eyes.
I looked for a death toll earlier today but all I could find were estimates. Maybe that should be "the estimates are floating up in front of our eyes."

MoDo is starting to sound like a crazy crone who won't come out of her house and claws anybody who gets close to her. She may have to darted with tranquilzer just to get her out of her cube and giver her her medicine. Consider this paragraph:
But when people around the world . . . look at New Orleans, they see glaring incompetence and racial injustice, where the rich white people were saved and the poor black people were left to die hideous deaths. They see some conservatives blaming the poor for not saving themselves. So much for W.'s "culture of life."

Well, they took part of my advice.

The AP is reporting that Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown is being removed from his role managing Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, to be replaced at the scene by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen. No Pelosi appointment at this time.

The Crescent of Embrace

That's the description of the monument to those killed on Flight 93. Do they know that a crescent is a symbol of Islam? Or was this someone's idea of reaching out to Muslims? It's a sour note.

It'll be composed of wind chimes and maple trees. One wind chime can be soothing, but one for every person on the plane?

I was thinking of a really BIG ball of twine symbolizing . . . whatever. An embrace of twine? It makes as much sense.

On further reflection, I decided that the thing looks reminiscent of a crater. Another reason to hate it.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The next backfire

With their hair on fire and afraid to go near water, the MSM needs a dose of some political common sense, via Slugger O'Toole:
[T]housands of desperate columnists are asking if an official inquiry will shift the blame for poor planning and inadequate flood defences on to the White House. The answer is almost certainly yes, provided nobody admits that emergency planning is largely the responsibility of city and state agencies, and nobody notices that the main levee which broke was the only levee recently modernised with federal funds. Otherwise, an official inquiry will pin most of the blame on the notoriously corrupt and incompetent local governments of New Orleans and Louisiana.
Those Democrat local governments.

Will Katrina lead to a police state?

Lee Harris:
Rescuers will still be salvaging bloated bodies from debris of New Orleans when the nation commemorates the fourth anniversary of the last catastrophe that focused the world's attention on America, 9/11. Whether the death toll from Katrina exceeds that killed by the terrorists four years ago may not be known for a while, though the numbers that are currently being thrown about in the media suggest that it may be three or four or five times as great. One thing is already certain, however: Katrina will have a profound impact on the way Americans think about their government, just as 9/11 did -- only Katrina will almost certainly move public opinion in the opposite direction from the way 9/11 moved it -- with consequences that are, for the moment, foreseeable.. . .

In short, in the post-9/11 world, the federal government was looked upon as a bulwark that stands strong; in the post-Katrina world, it is seen as a levee that failed.

I expected more sense from Harris. I don't know where he got the idea that the feds were stepping in as the first responder in every instance, but that assumption seems quite puerile. The Patriot Act was not intended to relieve local and state government from their status as first responders or their responsibility to protect their citizens' lives and property. It helps them by financing better emergency preparedness, but obviously, if the locals adopt a policy of "leave it to FEMA," they're derelict in their duty. A third of the New Orleans police department just disappeared into the woodwork. And the mayor and Governor Blanco don't seem to ever have met one another, let alone work out their respective powers and duties.

In fact, the heightened awarenss of approaching calamity may actually contribute to lawlessness, and hence increase the need for proactive local government. Does anybody really want the federal government to maintain FEMA as a standing army of bureaucrat cops to move in and take over a city? That's where I would join the libertarians. The increased investigative powers given to the FBI, are nothing compared to that.

If Katrina ends up creating that kind of thing, it'll be worse than a disaster. The president and the Republicans in Congress had better jump on this kind of thing and stop it before it gets any farther.

While we're blaming Bush,

let's not forget Kofi. Roger Simon hasn't.

That wasn't Bush!

Byron York recounts the saga of a "rally", interestingly at Lafayette Park "designed to 'tell President Bush to stop blaming local officials for his mistakes and acknowledge that budget cuts and indifference by his administration led to disaster in New Orleans and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast." (More, with photos, here)

I haven't hear Bush blaming anybody. I and practically every conservative blogger and website around has been pointing to the abysmal failure of city and state government, but not Bush. Let's keep the blame where it belongs!

BTW, when is going to change its name to something less hypocritical. It meant something when it was trying to protect Bill Clinton from his own sex addiction, but not that it is devoted to stirring rage on the left over every real or imagined misstep of the Bush administration, shouldn't it be called something like "" Of course, Lileks would sell them the name, but I'm sure they could meet his price, whatever it is.

Should we trust Louisiana politicians to administer aid?

It's not just illegal immigrants Rep. Tancredo despises. Of course his distrust of Louisiana politicians is not completely without foundation.

How hapless are you when you're getting rescued by the Mexican Army?

Update: Congress seems to be willing to facilitate wastefulness in the recovery from Katrina.

Today's culture nugget

Courtesy of Rod Dreher:
"The world has proclaimed the reign of freedom, especially of late, but what do we see in this freedom of theirs? Nothing but slavery and self-destruction! For the world says: "You have desires and so satisfy them, for you have the same rights as the most rich and powerful. Don't be afraid of satisfying them and even multiply your desires." That is the modern doctrine of the world. In that they see freedom. And what follows from this right of multiplication of desires? In the rich, isolation and spiritual suicide; in the poor, envy and murder; for they have been given rights, but have not been shown the means of satisfying their wants." -- from "The Brothers Karamazov"

I tried to post this at PressThink

It kept telling me that my Typekey validation had failed. Anyway, here's my post:
Two comments:

1. When the media starts "demanding answers" it tends to be like Cindy Sheehan, asking questions it's not really interested in the answers to. This is not really reporting. It's cross examination, which means trying to promote your own version of things and destroy someone else's credibility. Is that really the job of the press, to tell the public what to think? If journalists want to prosecute, they should go to law school.

2. Dave McLemore's post struck a chord with me. Perhaps my experience with being disappointed by photos I have taken, made me suspect that this disaster was much bigger than I could get from a TV image. I had a feeling that responding to this would be much more difficult to do adequately than previous disasters. For one thing, in most places when the rain stops the water runs off, the river goes down, etc. In New Orleans the water has to be pumped out, and if the pumps aren't working, it it doesn't run off. That alone should tell you that New Orleans was a massive disaster waiting to happen, just like Texas City in 1947, and that if the levees didn't hold they were going to be in deep sewage.

My first thought was that I had heard once that the city of New Orleans was below sea level, and then why would anybody live in a place like that. The more I learned from that point forward just reinforced that thought.

Here's something I have learned, but not from the MSM: FEMA doesn't respond to emergencies directly. It's a middle man. When it gets a request, it contacts others to come and help. That usually takes three or more days. Therefore, the city and state governments are expected to fill the gap. That didn't happen in New Orleans. That's tragic, but it doesn't help anything to start screaming about whose fault it is. That's pretty obvious. First, people who live there are at fault for living there. Second, the city's government and engineers are at fault for relying on pumps powered by the grid. to keep the city dry.

The media are now catching on, but their visceral hatred of George Bush won't let most reporters think this through.

Although I wondered why anybody would live in that city without the ability to get out quick, I didn't feel any anger toward anybody, until I noticed all the fury directed at FEMA, Michael Brown, Michael Chertoff and George Bush. Then I got ticked off.

I've known for years that everybody should have a 72-hour kit to tide them over until help can get to them. Why doesn't the MSM know that? Why couldn't they inform themselves about the realities of emergency management, and report the news without looking for a fall guy? Was everybody in the news industry a nasty little tattle-tale in kindergarten or did they have to learn it in J-school.

The media did a good job at telling us where to send aid, but not why the Red Cross wasn't allowed into the city when it first responded. Apparently all the reporters covering this debacle just assumed that FEMA was supposed to be there first, which is just false. Instead of investigating and getting the facts right, they dissolved into an orgy of fingerpointing and demagoguery while others were busy trying to get something done.

The big story about this was NOT who should be fired. It was that the city's preparation and emergency response capabilities were AWOL. And it would have been nice to explain to viewers and readers what preparations could have prevented the human suffering.

There were mistakes made. That ALWAYS happens. But the response of the federal government was no better or worse than it normally has been. If people weren't already primed with the goofy criticism over Bush taking a vacation, maybe they'd have stopped to think about how the story should have been reported.

The quality of mercy.

President Bush's remarks in appreciation of private charities and churchs will be sneered at by the likes of Paul Krugman and Harry Reid. There are some important differences that should be considered, but never are.

Government programs create legal rights. People don't feel gratitude for legal rights. They do feel angry when their "rights" aren't delivered ASAP, sometimes even when they are. And when they expect government to take care of them, what incentive do they have to prepare and provide for themselves and others?

Americans are proud of their independence, but they seldom stop to think about the deep meaning of that term. It is used as a synonym with freedom, but it also means self-reliance, not having to have someone else care for you. That's because if you are dependent on someone else, he/she can tell you what you can and can't do, as well as what you must do. For example, the federal government could dictate speed limits to all the states by threatening to withhold funding for highways. It can impose requirements on private universities and colleges by refusing to authorize student loans. If you receive any benefit from government you aren't independent, or free either, if you can't get along without it.

People who pay for government programs by and large don't have any choice in the matter. Their contributions show no compassion. Those who send donations or go volunteer in person know the personal benefit the giver receives from helping others in need. Taxpayers don't. That's probably why people who pay taxes also contribute to the Red Cross and their church. Anybody who thinks his taxes are enough, is a Scrooge. There's no credit given in heaven for paying what you are legally required to.

When you try to help someone and he tells to go to hell or complains that it isn't enough, how does it make you feel? That's part of what the whole concept of charity is about. It's a two-way bond that makes people better and closer. It should be the bond that holds society together. With government in the middle, that bond doesn't form.


Thomas Lipscomb's review of New Orleans' culture and government pulls no punches.

The banality of irresponsibility

Hugh Hewitt:
When Senator Reid sends a letter to Homeland Security Committee Chair Susan Collins that includes the questions ""How much time did the president spend dealing with this emerging crisis while he was on vacation?" and "Why didn't President Bush immediately return to Washington from his vacation?", you know that the Dems have decided that no matter the facts of the situation, they will try and use their allies in the MSM to turn this into an assault on Bush.

Which again leads to the question: Who could want these people in charge of anything -whether the House, the Senate or the Presidency?
Here's a hint.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Channeling Blanche DuBois

Jim Geraghty responds to the single worst example of self-pity and ingratitude I've ever heard.

Anne Rice: "You want our Jazz Fest, you want our Mardi Gras, you want our cooking and our music. . ." It kind of cross fades into "I have always relied on the kindness of strangers."

Who's accountable? Not the press.

The press has been congratulating itself "that the national press corps has finally awakened from its five-year, self-induced slumber, opting to play hardball with the Bush administration by actually holding officials accountable in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe."

How's that again? How is blaming the entire problem on some officials, while ignoring the nonfeasance of those with the primary responsibility "holding them accountable?" It looks more like partisan demagoguery to me. When did the object of journalism become to "play hardball?" Who besides Fox News is really holding anybody accountable? The rest are just part of a lynch mob.

Followup: OK, I may have been too sweeping in my description of "the press." The Anchoress points to some notable examples of balanced reporting from unexpected sources, and one less so.

She adds Austin Bay's post about how the NYTimes didn't really miss the opportunity to accuse Houston of profiteering from Katrina's victims. It just printed the slander in its overseas edition.

Lessons from Katrina

Glenn Reynolds already has a long list, but I'd add this one for the President:

The first member of the opposing party to call for firing head of FEMA gets the job.

Has it occurred to anybody how much help New Orleans would be getting if Bush had fired everybody at FEMA the first time somebody demanded it? This is the politics of bitching, and it's really getting old.

The LDS Church response to Katrina

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has responded to Katrina with supplies from its central storehouse in Utah, as well as from local storehouses:

• Over 40 truckloads of commodities and relief supplies have been delivered to the Church’s permanent distribution and supply center and other facilities in the affected area.
• Fuel has been delivered and dispensed.
• The Church has provided supplies and volunteer assistance for evacuees in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arizona, Utah, and Idaho.
• Sheltered 4,000 people in 20 buildings.

Dinosaur Image Update

First all those old pictures of dinosaurs walking around with their legs out to the side and their tails draggin on the ground had to be redone. Now we're told they all had feathers. Excuse me if I wait for more data.

Imagine how many fossils are buried throughout the earth. Now, how many of these have been found? How would seeing them all affect findings like these? How scientific is it to make flat statements based on partial information.

I noticed from a recent program about anthropological studies that previous belief that bones of pre-human creatures were part of a single evolutionary line is no longer in effect. It has been realized that they may be from different branches that have now disappeared.

Is it a cover up or just common decency

FEMA has announced that it does not want the news media to take photographs of the dead as they are recovered. If my wife or mother had been dead and floating for a few days in NOLA, would I like to see a photo of her splashed all over the media? Does that really require an answer?

Does the media's desire to pile blame on President Bush outweigh respect and decency for private grief? I guess we'll see soon.

Interesting questions for Judge Roberts

Senator Specter seems a little worried about John Roberts. Or maybe he's just starting to figure out what the ramifications of his opinions could be. Specter is worried that Roberts might vote to narrow the reach of the Commerce Clause to authorize Congressional impositions on the states, like the ADA.
Specter has struck the posture of a legal scholar, probing out of intellectual curiosity -- but in fact, he seems to have drifted into the role of Wile E. Coyote in the Road Runner cartoons: In the course of his letter he was laying traps that would close at the wrong moment, and bombs that would explode on himself.

Drawing on Scalia, Specter complained that the Court -- in assembling a large collection of facts to explain and justify the Americans with Disabilities Act -- had arrogated to itself the role of checking Congress's homework. Should Congress not be given a certain deference, he asked, in finding and asserting the facts that establish the ground of its legislation?

An Open Letter to Pat Leahy

It's from George Weigel.


I started another post on Hurricane Katrina and all the fingerpointing, and then I just decided that it's pointless and futile to keep blogging it. I've sent my contribution. If I went down there, I'd be more burden than help.

There are furious arguments and denunciations going on throughout the media and the blogosphere, but what good will come out of them? None that I can see. Those blaming Bush will only invite counterexamples like this one and this and this. There's plenty of ammo to go around. If you want to excuse people for not helping themselves and local and state government for dithering, which I'm willing to forgive, why does that lead to the conclusion that Bush, Brown and everybody at FEMA is culpable to the Nth degree? It must be a liberal thing.

This is not the last natural disaster we'll have, and a lot of people who tried to help this time will probably not do it again. This is why some doctors fear to stop and help victims in a car wreck. They risk getting sued for malpractice if they do.

Most of us, however, will still try to help however we can. That's what Christians do. We'll just remember that, like raising children, it's a thankless task and often all you get is disrespect.


CNN seems to see its role in covering the aftermath of Katrina by standing on the sidelines and throwing rocks.

Stop the presses!

E. coli has been detected in the NOLA flood water. Cue the hair on fire.

And how is this Bush's fault?

As New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin pleaded on national television for firefighters - his own are exhausted after working around the clock for a week - a battalion of highly trained men and women sat idle Sunday in a muggy Sheraton Hotel conference room in Atlanta.
This travesty is dictated by FEMA's need for community relations? How does having 1400 trained firefighters sit around being trained for something else improve community relations?

If I were Bush hearing this, I'd be tearing my hair out. Of course, he has to take the blame, because the buck stops with him. But I think he would have been happy to have left FEMA the way it was instead of melding it into DHS. I doubt that his inquiry will be as politically tainted as the ones held by Congress, but I'll bet that it will be more effective. In a lot of ways, the President is more under the command of bureaucracies than they are under him. He can't fire anybody without months or struggle and getting new appointees approved is almost as bad.

Earth to Joe Scarborough

You'll recall that Mr. Scarborough held Florida up as the example of how to deal with a hurrican, but the feds didn't show up in South Florida for three days. The difference, if any, was probably due to state and local preparedness.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Building on the success of The Sopranos

HBO's new blockbuster, also about Italians, is Rome. If the History Channel program tonight promoting it, it should be as violent, depraved and X-Rated as the Romans themselves. How long would it have taken for Rome to decline and fall if they had had cable TV?

JPod's keeping a running list

John Podhoretz is keeping track of the worst excesses of rhetoric from Hurrican Katrina. First it was rapper Kanye West who wandered off script on NBC's fundraiser for hurrican relief. But that is done one worse by this noisome bit of smug racism by Steve Sailer.
It's a general rule that the tastier the indigenous cuisine, the lousier the government. Its culture has provided America with jazz, A Street Car Named Desire, and the great American comic novel of the 20th Century, A Confederacy of Dunces. New Orleans is a nice place to visit. But you wouldn't want to raise your kids there.. . .

"Let the good times roll" is an especially risky message for African-Americans. The plain fact is that they tend to possess poorer native judgment than members of better-educated groups. Thus they need stricter moral guidance from society.
I knew the city and state government have a reputation for incompetence and corruption, but Sailer's casual bigotry, masquerading as sophistication, seems kind of goofy, not to mention revolting.


Reporters and Democrats are trying to use the hurricane as an argument for appointing a "moderate" to SCOTUS. This is political self-parody.

More on Krugman's "Lethal Ineptitude"

I don't normally read Paul Krugman's column; that weird staring photo that accompanies it kind of creeps me out. He looks like somebody who would grab you by the lapel and just keep raving. You don't want to get any closer. But he seems to make a lot of others unable to avert their eyes. Of course, the disaster being Bush's fault is now accepted as scripture throughout the left and the MSM.

James Taranto skewers Krugman today. After quoting Krugman's blaming the misery on the Gulf Coast on conservatives who are hostile to the "very idea of using government to serve the public good," Taranto writes:
The obvious objection is that Krugman has a cartoonish view of conservatism, which is anything but uniformly antigovernment. . . And while it's true that Reagan described government as the problem, not the solution, 25 years ago, those words would be shockingly out of character if George W. Bush were to utter them. [And no conservative I know of ever proposed not funding FEMA. -AST]

The more interesting point is that Krugman's implicit view of liberalism is about 35 years out of date. To put it bluntly, American liberals no longer believe in activist government. Oh, they believe in big government, but that's a matter of feeding existing bureaucracies and interest groups. But suggest doing things differently--welfare reform, Social Security reform, the Patriot Act--and they have nothing to offer but fear, anger and hate.

Among the first complaints we heard when Katrina struck was that the government failed to respond because of (a) Iraq and (b) tax cuts. This is passive-aggressive politics, not activist government. Lyndon B. Johnson cut taxes and waged war both in Vietnam and on poverty. To be sure, LBJ's administration was far from an unqualified success, but the point is that in those days liberals were confident--arguably overconfident--in the power of activist government.

By contrast, consider some of the dour and whiny Democratic campaign slogans of the past two presidential campaigns: Lockbox. Risky scheme. Miserable failure. Two Americas. Wrong war, wrong place, wrong time. Let America be America again.

The only one we can remember that on the surface has anything like a can-do sound is John Kerry's "Bring it on." But this was not original; it was a variation on an utterance of President Bush's that was widely criticized as too activist. What's more, the "it" Kerry wanted to "bring on" was not some great challenge facing the nation. Kerry's use of the phrase was an exercise in narcissism, not civic-mindedness; he simply was threatening to become belligerent over personal slights. And even at that, it was an empty threat!

By the way, the one thing no one has had the audacity to say about the Katrina response is that Kerry would have done better. President Kerry would have faced this disaster with a grand total of 7 1/2 months' administrative experience in his lifetime, and as someone [Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco] once said, "This ship of state does not come with training wheels."
Checking that final quote, I found some other ironic quotes from Governor Blanco's last campaign for governor:
I would say I have very clear plans and ideas over what has to be done. But the big thing is that I know how to get them done and have gotten them done, and you have to have that inside knowledge of how to make government work for you.
She obviously wasn't referring to the State's response to a public safety and health crisis.
Anybody who tries to tell people they have all the answers is fooling the public.
But you said . . .?
Today's problems are decisions made by immature people of the past.
This is the woman whose reaction to the disaster was to break into sobs. I'm obviously taking these out of context, but for someone who ran on her competence, doesn't seem to have been all that responsible in this crisis.

BTW, Krugman's column begins with these lines:
Each day since Katrina brings more evidence of the lethal ineptitude of federal officials. I'm not letting state and local officials off the hook, but federal officials had access to resources that could have made all the difference, but were never mobilized. [Italics added]
I searched in vain for any comment in the rest of his column about state and local officials, whose "lethal ineptitude," being legally the first responders. Evidently, he is letting them off the hook. His hyperbole that the federal resources were NEVER mobilized, seems pretty irresponsible when you realize that the federal government response was essentially the only one that has made any difference.

The media's hysterical blaming of everything on Bush, is being reviewed and questioned by bloggers, talk radio and conservative commentators. I think this will end up as another example of the overwhelming bias among journalists. The list of egregious examples is getting pretty long, and the momentum is not with "journalism."

That impression is supported by the fact that the polls don't show most people joining the "Bush is to blame" hysteria. John Podhoretz explains why:
Once again we see the gigantic divide in this country -- not between Right and Left, but between people who live and breathe politics and those for whom politics are only an incidental part. You need to look at the world through political glasses to assume that THE key aspect of a natural disaster is the response or lack thereof of the authorities -- whether they be local, state or federal. The president doesn't MAKE hurricanes, therefore he will not be blamed FOR hurricanes. Nor do the governor and the mayor.

And though I have no doubt that this presidency has been damaged seriously by the hurricane's aftermath, the effort to use it as a wedge against other policies -- like the appointment of a new Supreme Court justice or even the emendation of the estate tax -- represent a kind of opportunistic political overreach on the part of the president's rivals that might come quickly to seem tasteless to much of the country.
I think that's precisely what's happening.

Comic Satiric Relief

James Lileks lambastes the whiners about gas prices. The bien pensants won't like his alternatives, but they've been no help whatsoever at coming up with a rational energy plan, largely because it makes sense. The environmental left all seem to think we should be able to go buy an attachment to run our cars on sunlight or wind power. They certainly don't want more refineries, nuclear plants, nuclear waste depositories, hydroelectric dams or even windmills, when they realize that they aren't all that scenic on the horizon. Mostly, they want to have their prosperity, but deny it to everybody else.

Someone's asleep at the headline desk

The headline for this story should have been
Houston Businesses Profiteer Gulf Coast Tragedy
How did the NYTimes let it slip with:
Houston Finds Business Boon After Katrina

The Krugster

Radley Balko contemplates Krugman's latest effort in his continuing pursuit of irony, constantly criticizing the performance of government, while maintaining that more of it is the answer to every problem. He claims that the reason for Bush's mythical delays in getting help to the Gulf Coast is that he doesn't really believe in government solutions. The only failure I can see of Bush's is that he didn't waste a lot of time performing P.R.

Rehnquist's legacy

It's pretty early to tell, actually. Brannon Denning and Glenn Reynolds don't feel that he accomplished much toward his goal of limiting the Commerce Clause as a basis for passing federal laws that dictate to the states. These things take time to build a critical mass, but at least Bush is doing what he can to consolidate that legacy.

Alan Dershowitz said that Rehnquist's opinions are not taught in law schools, but that might tell us more about law professors than it does about the quality of his views.

Should we be doing business with these people?

Yahoo has helped the Chinese government convict a Chinese journalist for “divulging state secrets abroad” and send him to prison for 10 years. Yahoo! furnished detailed information about the man's email that enabled officials to track him down as the source of information that was published on some dissenters' web site based outside the country.

The Magic Marker approach

John Tierney has a recommendation for emergency managers everywhere. Maybe the City of New Orleans didn't have enough Magic Markers.

The Daily Kos responds.

It's the law.

Hugh Hewitt is conducting an introduction to Con Law as it applies to the response to Hurricane Katrina. In short, the federal government has no police power, as the general power to enforce laws, protect citizens, maintain peace and order, fight fires, etc. within the states. That power resides in the states. The president can't do anything until requested by the state governor. FEMA is NOT a first responder!

The NOLA mayor is the one who can call for evacuation. For state officials not to know this is inexcusable. And for them to blame their excuse their own inaction by blaming federal officials is despicable. Brendan Loy agrees.

Has the welfare mentality become so ingrained down there that not even the elected governments know how to help themselves? I guess they're old hands down there at the Shell Game.

Don't expect the MSM to say so. These officials are all Democrats.

Is this true or a set up?

"Senate Democrats' K Street inner circle [i.e. Democrat lobbyists] are predicting that as many as 25 Democrats will vote to confirm John Roberts. They think the smear tactic could misfire big time. They can't answer the ad showing Senator Biden advising Ruth Bader-Ginsberg not to answer the kind of questions the hard left Senators are planning on demanding that Roberts answer.

It's all about the OIL! The left's toxic

Check out the spin from The Nation criticizing Barbara Bush's praise for the hospitality offfered to the NOLA refugees in Texas. No Republican could possible have real compassion.

Bush asks for $40 billion to clean up after Katrina. I can just hear the Democrat response: "He obviously only cares about the area's role in our gas and oil supplies, not the victims of the disaster."

Meanwhile, The Guardian has taken to publishing urban legends.

So long, little buddy

Boy, this makes me feel old. Bob Denver known to the world as Maynard G. Krebs and Gilligan, has died at the age of 70.

Hillary!, Cindy and Katrina

The three women of the apocalypse for the left, four if you include Nan Aron.

John Leo on Cindy Sheehan.

A parable

I once heard a story about some teenagers who had gone for an outing into the Arizona desert, when one of them was bitten by a rattlesnake. Instead of immediately getting the victim to medical care, they hunted for the snake and killed it.

All of this angry blaming of George Bush or FEMA, especially when the city and state officials are let skate, is childish and unfair. For all these newspaper editors and reporters and politicians to be wasting time demanding the heads of federal officials is shameful. They should be raising funds, finding supplies and getting them where needed. This is a democracy. Nobody is free of responsibility to help. Those who expect the federal government to care for them, need to wake up and realize that this is a utopian dream, inconsistent with human nature and bureaucracy.

Everybody, including individuals, should be examining him or herself and asking what more he could do now, and what he can do in the future, and how he can help others. We have too much of the victim mentality in this country. There is no way for things to work the way people seem to expect. If they do, we should rejoice, but if they don't, we all should have our own preparation.

I see what the local officials knew or should have known, and what they should have done to prepare. I ask myself how they could have seen this threat and not done anything beyond some PR. But I don't feel angry at anybody, except those who stand around like cattle, complaining and feeling sorry for themselves. If someone is able bodied enough to go looting, he/she is able to help others and should be doing that. If he won't work, let him starve. If he can't work, help him. Calling for heads to roll accomplishes nothing, except leaving a whole lot of essential jobs empty. And for newspapers and politicians to rail at others is irresponsible, petty and hypocritical. The Times-Picayune wants everybody at FEMA fired. What has that paper been doing to bring the vulnerability of the city to public attention and to demand that they be addressed. But the attitude of "Let the good times roll" but "the Feds had better be there right now when we need 'em," is contemptible.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Alan Dershowitz. Feel the Lo-o-o-ve!

Just after Justice Rehnquist's death was announced, Fox had a special edition of Hannity and Colmes featuring telephone interviews with a selection of legal pundits. When Alan Dershowitz was asked how Rehnquist's death would change the court and what his legacy would be. His answer was worthy of Chuck Schumer or Ted Kennedy. He called Rehnquist an activist judge, and a reliable vote for the Republicans. Then the topper:
He was much more activist [than the Warren court]. And I think the Rehnquist court was never the Rehnquist court. He moved more toward the center as he became chief justice and as he had Scalia and Thomas on his right flank and of course most of the rest of the court in the center or on his left flank. It--the decisions of Justice Rehnquist are not taught in law schools as great decisions. He'll be remembered primarily for his votes rather than for the content or quality of his decisions. And it's consistent throughout his life. He started his career by being a kind of Republican thug who pushed and shoved to keep African-American and Hispanic voters from voting.

(Italics mine)

At which point he was cut off and another guest brought on.

I was listening to that exchange, which didn't surprise me much, considering Professor D's demonstrated gift for tact and decorum. This guy trains future lawyers. I hope he doesn't teach ethics.

As for the substance of Dershowitz's claims, James Taranto notes,
this is an argument the left has lost. Rather than defend, say, Roe v. Wade (in which Rehnquist dissented) as a justifiable work of judicial activism, they invent tendentious redefinitions of the term in a transparent attempt at judicial jujitsu. By Dershowitz's lights, Roe wasn't "activist" at all because it struck down a state law rather than a "congressionally enacted statute."
Apparently, the left has determined that the "activist" tag has legs and has adopted the same argument, claiming that any justice who would roll back past overreaching by the Court such as Roe would violate Stare Decisis and therefore be "activist." I view "activist" as meaning a judge who substitutes his own policy views for those of the duly constituted policy branch, the legislative.

I didn't remember anything about Rehnquist being a thug. Apparently it goes back to his activity in the Republican Party in Phoenix in the 1960s. He served as a poll watcher in the 1962 elections, when he and others were on the lookout for illegal voters and challenged Hispanic voters to prove they were entitled to vote. This was said to be done for the purpose of intimidating minorities from voting. Of course, the Democrats call this "disenfranchizing" minority voters. The "thug" comes from a shoving match he got into during that period. I don't know who started the shoving, but I doubt it was Rehnquist.

Update: Dershowitz defends his remarks and demonstrates his own thuggish tendencies: "Chief Justice William Rehnquist set back liberty, equality, and human rights perhaps more than any American judge of this generation." He provides a lot of hearsay about Rehnquist and some stories about memos he wrote as a law clerk defending the "separate but equal", but doesn't really cite any cases, but Bush v. Gore to demonstrate Rehnquist's worst sin, being a Republican. Then he adds an attack on Fox News and Sean Hannity and cites some hate email he received after the show, I guess as proof that anybody who defends Rehnquist condones sending Dershowitz obscene hate mail.

Poor Alan! He came on TV within minutes after the death of a Supreme Court justice and began calling him names and attacking his beliefs, and they had the nerve to cut him off and call him names! He was asked a question about Rehnquist's influence on the court and his legal legacy, and Dershowitz launched into a tirade of personal attacks.

His final paragraphs are:
All this, for refusing to put a deceptive gloss on a man who made his career undermining the rights and liberties of American citizens.

My mother would want me to remain silent, but I think my father would have wanted me to tell the truth. My father was right.
Using his own logic, I guess that makes Dershowitiz a male chauvinist pig. He was not asked to eulogize Rehnquist. He was asked to comment on his legal views and the effect of his time on the Supreme Court, not to deliver a diatribe against him.

The MSM blows the story again

Delays by the President and FEMA are not the real story of the New Orleans tragedy. The president declared a federal emergency before Katrina hit. Anybody paying attention must have asked by now, why the president had to call the mayor of the city to tell him to order an evacuation, why there were no caches of water and food and other supplies around the city, and why the pumps that dispose of the city's sewage and rain water weren't flood proofed and and equipped with emergency generators in case the power went out; why there was no way to communicate information on hazards, evacuation routes and destinations; why the so many of the city's cops went AWOL; and why The reason Rudy Giuliani was a hero after 9/11 was because he was on the case almost at once, and was directing police, fire, and emergency responses. The mayor of New Orleans (Does anybody know his name? Should he want anybody to?) was at home on the day Katrina came ashore.

Brad Delong points out a report that the city's officials are making a video telling the people now that the city's emergency plan is to tell everybody to leave town, and "You're responsible for your safety, and you should be responsible for the person next to you.. . . If you have some room to get that person out of town, the Red Cross will have a space for that person outside the area. We can help you, but we don't have the transportation." I wonder how much it would have costed to install some water treatment facilities to provide safe water in an emergency. It doesn't sound like the government of the city have a clue.

Brit Hume today noted that the NYTimes had faulted the president for not seeing to it that the levees were hurricane-proof, but then cited numerous Times editorials in recent years opposing spending on flood control projects and giving more money to the Army Corps of Engineers.

Update: Apparently, I was wrong. The Mayor's name is Ray Nagin and he seems to have plenty of chutzpah, demanding that federal and state worker "get off your asses." What did the city do to prepare for such emergencies? Oh, yeah. It prepared a DVD, after Katrina approached.

Good advice apparently unheeded.

Glenn Reynolds had a column over a year ago that should have been gospel to local officials:
We could put more money into this sort of thing in general (as the pointy-headed boss in Dilbert puts it, "concentrating our resources across the board"), but we're already putting in a lot -- according to the CBO report, spending on homeland security has more than doubled since 2001 -- and it's likely that more money would just be wasted. There's only so much money a government mission can absorb in a short period of time, and my guess, buttressed by some news stories of homeland security pork-barreling, is that we're already past that point.

So what should we do? And -- perhaps more importantly -- who's "we" in this context anyway? Maybe it's not the federal government's job to anticipate every possible problem.

Where natural disasters are concerned, it seems only fair that individuals and local communities should take a hand in looking after themselves. One thing that the Homeland Security Department does that's clearly not a waste of money is to provide advice for individuals on how to prepare for disasters, natural and artificial, at its website. I've written columns on the subject myself (here's one), and there's loads of information on the Web about survival and disaster preparedness. Whatever the federal government does, there's plenty of room for the rest of us to prepare ourselves.

The Chief is dead.

I wonder if his refusal to resign was wishful thinking or fighting against the dying of the light. Maybe he figured that if he could hold out until October, it would put pressure on the Senate to dispense with the filibuster threat and get on with business. I hope Senator Frist will hold their feet to the fire and get this done. He ought to let the wobbly Republicans know that collegiality is no longer a reason to go along with this nonsense. I hope McCain will rethink his closeness to the Dems. I get the impression that he's posturing as an independent because he got burned by the S&L scandal and wants to let the conservatives know that they can't take him for granted, but that can go too far. If he thinks Kerry, Leahy and Kennedy would be there for him, he's naive beyond belief.

I don't know the candidates that well, but I'd prefer a replacement for Rehnquist who has judicial experience. These things seem to be a crapshoot. Bush nailed it with the Roberts pick. Can he resist going the affirmative action route for the second pick?

I'm not sure I'd nominate Roberts for Chief Justice just yet. I'd like to see Scalia there just to drive Nina Totenberg nuts.

Another buried lede

I guess the paper of a company town like Washington is more likely to focus on the company than on one of its customers, but this is significant:
Other federal and state officials pointed to Louisiana's failure to measure up to national disaster response standards, noting that the federal plan advises state and local emergency managers not to expect federal aid for 72 to 96 hours, and base their own preparedness efforts on the need to be self-sufficient for at least that period. "Fundamentally the first breakdown occurred at the local level," said one state official who works with FEMA. 'Did the city have the situational awareness of what was going on within its borders? The answer was no."
There's a reason they promote 72-hour kits.

The Big Easy, indeed. But will the media place the blame where it belongs? Not likely. While they have covered the fact that this catastrophe was foreseen, they seem to want to use it to pummel George Bush. Democrats are always the victims.

Val-cons and Lib-cons

Jonathan Rauch's piece on Santorum being the Anti-Goldwater is quite perceptive. I'm not sure whether I agree that conclusion, but I think he points to the growing divide between libertarian conservatives and traditional values conservatives. I think most of the latter share libertarian belief in freedom and distrust of government, but they also see that absolute freedom, especially when overseen by the Supreme Court, has the potential to destroy society.

My conservatism is based on the Book of Mormon. King Mosiah, at the end of his reign, and his sons having renounced the throne, recommended that the people adopt a government of judges and laws appointed by the "voice of the people." He recounted the advantages of having a moral monarch, but the disadvantages of having a wicked one. He then made this observation, "[I]t is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the cpeople to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people." Then he warned, "And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land."

A society is like an organism. It can be healthy or decrepit, depending on the kind of values it encourages and whether it produces citizens who are responsible, loyal, and wise, or at least educated. It grows and produces prosperity, culture and provides for the protection not only of the populace, but also for the transmission of sound principles to its young. As Mosiah noted, a republic will provide a just society in that when the majority makes correct, wise and moral choices, the society will be healthy. If, however, they choose iniquity, the society will decline and may eventually collapse. Of course, the ballots do not allow us to vote for "righteousness" or "iniquity." We have to make those judgments wisely.

That, as I see it, is the concern of values conservatives (val-cons), to provide freedom, with specific rights guaranteed, subject to the things requisite to a healthy society. Libertarian conservatives (lib-cons) place the highest value on the liberty of the individual. They trust that freedom of choice in every sphere will maximize the happiness and health of the society. I'm not sure that Goldwater and Reagan could be pigeon-holed according to these definitions. But as I have said before, I think that this distinction will become a fault line, with lib-cons voting with liberals on such things as abortion rights and with the val-cons on matters such as the Second Amendment and national defense.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Gospel of Emergency Management

I teach Sunday School twice a month. Today's lesson coincidentally was about how the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were driven from their homes in Nauvoo, Illinois and the surrounding area in 1846. ("Saints" refers to members of the apostolic church, not to individuals who are especially holy.) Their lives were threatened by religious persecution, and they had planned to evacuate in April, but because of threats, they were forced to flee beginning in February.

The lesson was based on Section 136 of the Doctrine and Covenants, a revelation received by Brigham Young who had become the leader of the church following the murder of Joseph Smith, the first prophet of the latter-day church. I was impressed with the parallels to the problems faced by the people of New Orleans and the nearby Gulf Coast communities. They had to leave with only those supplies they could gather quickly and carry with them.

The inspiration and revelation given to Brigham Young included these instructions:
1. They were to organize a number of advance companies lead by presidents called by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, each with two counselors, and with captains appointed over 100s, 50s and 10s. Responsibility was delegated and a chain of command was created.

2. They were told to covenant and promise the Lord and each other to keep all the commandments and statutes of God.

3. Each company was to do all it could to provide itself with teams, wagons, provisions and the supplies they would need for the journey. In other words, get busy and do all you can for yourselves.

4. The first companies would "go to with their might, to prepare for those who are to tarry;" then choose out a sufficient number of able-bodied and expert men, to take teams, seeds, and farming utensils, to go as pioneers to prepare for putting in spring crops. These would go ahead of the main body, to establish the route, plow fields and plant for those who would follow to find food along the way and to establish camps in the vicinity of what is now Omaha and Council Bluffs, building cabins, etc.

5 Each company, with their captains and presidents, was to decide how many can go in the spring.

6. Each company was to combine their means and provide "an equal proportion, according to the dividend of their property, in taking the poor, the bwidows, the fatherless, and the families of those who have gone into the army, that the cries of the widow and the fatherless come not up into the ears of the Lord against this people."

7. Every man was to use all his influence and property to "remove this people to the place where the Lord shall locate a stake of Zion."

8. They were told that if they would follow these commands "with a pure heart, in all faithfulness, [they] would be blessed in [their] flocks, in [their] herds, and in [their] fields, in [their] houses, and in [their] families.

9. The companies and captains were to give this message to all the saints and "teach this, my will, to the saints, that they may be ready to go to a land of peace."

10. They were to focus on these tasks and not worry about their enemies, "for they shall not have power to stop my work." In other words, don't waste time being angry, bitter or fearful, but to get busy and prepare.

11. "If any man shall seek to build up himself, and seeketh not my counsel, he shall have no power, and his folly shall be made manifest." This was not an occasion for demagogues and aspiring men to be allowed to divide the people with criticism and attempting to sow discord in order to take advantage of the crisis.

12. "Seek ye; and keep all your pledges one with another; and ccovet not that which is thy brother’s."

13. "Keep yourselves from evil . . .;" don't take the name of the Lord in vain, or use profanity. Remember that God delivered the children of Israel and his arm is not shortened. They were to trust him and live so that he could bless them. Note how the following commands would tend to help them pull together and be unified:

"Cease to contend one with another; cease to speak evil one of another."

"Cease drunkenness; and let your words tend to be edifying one another.

"If thou borrowest of thy neighbor, thou shalt restore that which thou hast borrowed; and if thou canst not repay then go straightway and tell thy neighbor, lest he condemn thee."

"If thou shalt find that which thy neighbor has lost, thou shalt make diligent search till thou shalt deliver it to him again."

"Thou shalt be diligent in preserving what thou hast, that thou mayest be a wise steward; for it is the free gift of the Lord thy God, and thou art his steward."

"If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.

"If thou art sorrowful, call on the Lord thy God with supplication, that your souls may be joyful."

"Fear not thine enemies, for they are in mine hands and I will do my pleasure with them."

"My people must be tried in all things, that they may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them, even the glory of Zion; and he that will not bear chastisement is not worthy of my kingdom."

"Be humble, seek knowledge and wisdom "by humbling [your]self and calling upon the Lord [your] God, that [your] eyes may be opened that [you] may see, and [your] ears opened that [you] may hear;" For my Spirit is sent forth into the world to enlighten the humble and contrite, and to the ccondemnation of the ungodly."
From these I can see a lot of ways the response to this hurricane could have been made better.

Tonight I heard stories of people who used their own boats to check on their neighbors, to buy food and supplies and distribute them. Individuals who took charge and got busy organizing, tracking down medicine and supplies and ministering to others. Most people were in shock. Many were sick, old or othewise unable to help themselves. But there were individuals who saw what needed to be done and put their shoulders to the wheel doing what they could. A ballet teacher named Bloodworth in Mississippi organized medical care providers and started helping people. Using her own money, she arranged for buses to evacuate people. There were lots of heroes.

What offends me, however, is the "journalists" whose idea of helping is to tour the area with cameramen and criticize government officials. There is a reason why emergency managers urge people to put together "72 hour kits." It's because they know that it takes at least that long to get their responses on the scene. It takes time to organize the large teams required to deliver assistance. As the revelation above shows, criticism and demands of others is counterproductive. It's true that the authorities could and should have been more prepared, but calling for heads to roll, an allusion to the French revolution, is petty and arrogant. What was Joe Scarborough doing for the past 20 years to establish better FEMA response? What was Tim Russert doing? He was willing to grill the head of FEMA who has been on the job for only a short time, but I didn't notice any series on any networks pointing out the low state of preparedness. Where were the local politicians and bureaucrats demanding that more be done? Where were the local citizens doing something to prepare. How many of them had 72 hour kits. How many were ripping wood from houses and building rafts? Why do they spend so much on Mardi Gras, but couldn't be bothered to have supplies stockpiled around the city in flood-proof storage.

As Mr. Chertoff noted, this is not the time to be blaming, criticizing, undermining and playing politics. This disaster required far more than the usual hurricane response, and it took time to realize that help was needed from out of the states affected, to notify the people needed from the National Guard, various other fire departments and police departments. There are thousands and thousands of people trying to help and do what they can and I consider it insulting and arrogant to keep carping about George Bush or anyone else. The root of this problem was with the government and people of New Orleans, not in the White House. I'm starting to equate reporters of disasters with the looters and street gangs who do nothing to help and lots to take advantage of them. I despise these people whose only "contribution" is to stir up anger, self-pity and dissension.

The absolute best way to prevent disasters like this is to not build homes and cities in such spots: Build on the rock, not on the sand. Of course, New Orleans is not known for its piety, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast had an economy based on gambling. They will rebuild and find other things to spend money on until the next Katrina. The police of the Big Easy and other cities will continue to include heroic public servants and far too many criminals and cowards, and be underpaid and undertrained. The local governments will continue to be full of competent people as well as feckless bureaucrats and political hacks. The National Guard will be ready to serve and be pelted with rocks and bottle and shot at.

Every city, county and state in the country could be doing more to prepare for disasters, like earthquakes, floods, wind storms, tornadoes and hurricanes. But they won't because such things are remote possibilities until they are days or hours away. Families should have food and supplies for such emergencies, but the majority won't. They should know and trust their Heavenly Father, serve him and be worthy of his blessings, but most won't. We can pray for our brothers and sisters, but too many of us will forget.

But remember that the Good Samaritan didn't stop to ask why the injured traveler was so dumb as to travel that road alone. Each of us should remember the lessons of Katrina, and be ready to go to work and do what we can for ourselves and our neighbors. Take Ms. Bloodworth's example. And we should be grateful for those who pitched in at the very first, and those who got there as soon as they could.