Saturday, September 17, 2005

Revoltin' Joe

Hugh Hewitt calls him Slow Joe Biden. Once of his callers suggested Clueless Joe (a play on Shoeless Joe Jackson).

I've never really thought much about him before. He just seemed like a bore. But I never really came to have real contempt for him until I listened to his "questioning" of John Roberts. His faux friendliness ("How ya doin', Judge?") is common enough among pols, but in this case it reminds me a lot of Bob Dylan's Positively Fourth Street:
You say, how are you? good luck
But you don’t mean it . . .

When you know as well as me
You’d rather see me paralyzed
Why don’t you just come out once
And scream it

What really annoys me is that he's such a poseur. His pathetic efforts to persuade Roberts into answering how he would rule on issues that would come before the court weren't just dumb; they were dishonest. His whining and wheedling and silly legal arguments just seemed to proved how really poor the reasoning for the expansionist reading of the Constitution is. Here' a senator arguing that the court should diminish the role of his office in governing the nation. Does he really think so little of democracy that he would prefer to allow judges to decide policy than to trust the political process?


I've always wonder what all those soybeans were used for. Vegetable oil. And people are discovering that oil which comes from various plants like corn and soybeans runs in diesel engines. Of course, it's not likely to take over from petrodiesel right away, but the prices of gas and diesel are reaching the point where it may be competitive to product vegetable oil for the tank.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Bush's speech

I didn't watch Bush's speech, but I saw enough clips of it to make me wonder if he drank some of the water being pumped out of New Orleans. I don't object to helping rebuild southern Mississippi, Alabam, the Florida panhandle and those parts of I think that we're going to have other big disasters like this, and I don't think it is good policy to let every part of the country believe that if they bungle their preparation, there's a $200 billion bonus in it for them. I might be wrong about his plans, but I'm not encouraged by the promise that New Orleans will rise again. I'm afraid it will sink again and we'll have flushed a lot of money down the sewer.

Please don't remind us,

Apparently Cindy Sheehan is still basking in the glow of her 15 minutes of being famous.

If you build it, they will come.

Hugh Hewitt has been mocking FEMA's purchase of 300,000 housing units for the evacuees from the Gulf Coast to live in.

I advise a county planning commission, and mobile homes are different animals from manufactured homes and RVs. Before 1976, mobile homes were build of aluminum and pressed wood. They had little structural integrity. But in 1976 the government established new construction standards for "manufactured homes." These are not trailers. They're built more solidly and are more like houses than travel trailers which are a lot like the old mobile homes. Most of the homes going up here are two-part manufactured homes, which are quite nice inside and don't have the cheap feel that say camp trailers have.

My problem with this report is that it uses the terms trailer house, RV/Motor Home/Camp Trailer and manufactured home interchangeably. If they are a bunch of fifth-wheel camp trailers this will be a disaster. If they are really manufactured homes, they aren't badly built, but a single-wide isn't very roomy. For older folks without much, they could be attractive as long as there were doctors and shopping close by.

Hugh sees this as an "instant slum" program. Rick Brady is one of the designers of this "temporary cities" program for FEMA. Hugh talked to him and gave him the business over this proposal. I went to his blog, Stones Cry Out, and found a link to this report:
The solution is mind-boggling in its scope and complexity: Build dozens of temporary cities of up to 25,000 homes from the ground up. The ambitious resettlement plan is unprecedented in U.S. history, experts say, and raises huge logistical questions that, in most cases, have yet to be answered _ or even anticipated.

"The whole process is just staggering," said Rolf Pendall, professor of urban and regional planning at Cornell University. "I'm left speechless by the prospect of getting people resettled and giving them a semblance of their former life."

I don't think it's possible to give them "a semblance of their former life," unless they will continued to get washed out by a hurricane every decade or so. If they really want that, they'd be better off moving to Galvaston that staying in the delta.

I'm not sure whether this will be as horrible as Hugh believes. He favors giving them living expenses for a year and let them make their own arrangements. Those who have something on the ball will be rebuilding and back on their own land within a year. Those who don't will probably end up in trailer parks and slums anyway. But I wouldn't let them build middle class and low income housing in those areas that were flooded when the levees broke. I don't think it can be made safe permanently. That's just not the way New Orleans seems to have ever done things. They just hunker down and hope the hurricane doesn't blow them away.

Hugh thinks it would work better to give them vouchers and let them find their own housing. I like that solution better, but I wonder if dumping all these people into areas like Baton Rouge and Houston will be very successful. I think that if I were planning the future of New Orleans, I'd promote making it like the Las Vegas Strip with casinos, and themed hotels and resorts, but I'd make the employees live outside of the city. The tracts of houses that have been flooded ought to be given back to the swamps, letting Lake Ponchartrain back into that area.

It's not Bush who needs to worry about how historians will see his role in Katrina

Victor Davis Hanson reviews the media's performance in covering Katrina. I think they did about as well as William Randolph Hearst did in reporting that the Maine was exploded in Cuba by the Spanish. That'll be my memory of this.

It's been a long time

Since I watched network news, that is. I tuned in ABC tonight, hoping to see a replay of the comments on Bush's speech by evacuees in the Houston Astrodome. It was a shocking reminder of why I quit watching these jerks. You'd think Bush's speech was a big dud. The photo they had of the President, had a big sad frown.

They featured John Kerry, of all people, criticizing it as "too little, too late." I wonder what he'd have done, put on his lucky hat and headed down to do a little windsurfing?

This is late at night and they have a couple of young happy-talkers who make the Fox News and CNN anchors look like Walter Cronkite. When I first turned the TV on there was Ted Koppel in a clip from Nightline with Richard Clarke and Jerry Howar discussing how the military should have moved in right away. This was a "calamity," which is apparently worse than a "disaster," so they should have been moving in within the first hour. Clarke recounted how when he was in the White House they had programs to provide proper emergency equipment to the cities hit by disasters. The military should have rolled in the first hour. They shouldn't have waited to be asked. "It was the planning assumption for years, when I was in the White House under three presidents, that if there were a major disaster that it would be turned over to the military."

Yeah, sure, Dick. Ever heard of the Posse Commitatus Act? When you were in the White House, the World Trade Center was bombed and the Oklahome City bombing took place and in which one did the military move in and take over? I guess none of these rose to the level of a 'calamity.' They were only 'disasters.' No color code or threat levels for them. I kept wondering why he didn't say where a "catastrophe" was in this hierarchy.

Of course, in Katrina the mayor and the governor weren't knocked out of action, they just weren't ever in action. They didn't know what they were supposed to do besides order an evacuation. Ted Koppel and guests marveled that FEMA didn't even know about the flooding when the levees broke. Why, two reporters from the Times-Picayune went out on bicycles and "got very good intelligence."

Well, Ted, did they call FEMA and tell them? Are you saying that FEMA should have had people riding bicycles in the Crescent City to give them minute by minute updates? I seem to remember seeing a lot of Coast Guard copters over the area. Wouldn't they have contacted FEMA? My understanding is that there aren't any limitations on its ability to move right in, and they did. But the law still requires the local and state authorities to take charge and ask for federal help. This is dismissed as "red tape" and "bureaucratic buck-passing," but if it hadn't been observed I'll bet we'd have been hearing a different tune from Ted and Dick.

This clip was followed by a snotty little announcement that "our colleagues at Nightline did invite the secretary of Homeland Security Secretary to be a part of that show to respond, but he declined."

Is it any wonder that Bush's rating are down in the polls after two weeks of this sneering, smug and hostile treatment? Is it any wonder that these networks are losing audience?

Later, they showed a piece about how New York would respond to a nuke attack by terrorists, and the importance of communications. The two anchors commented that a lot of the things they did on 9/11 could have really helped in Katrina.

Why it sure would have! The equipment and the training were available through home security grants to the cities. Why didn't New Orleans have any of it?

But New York had a lot more that New Orleans didn't have, it had leadership and competent police and fire protection. I'm sure there are New Orleans cops who are dedicated and heroic, but there were about a third of them who just disappeared into the trees. Maybe they weren't being paid enough to attract real professionals, or maybe they didn't have the tradition and culture of service that their New York brethren do.

On 9/11, who made sure that the feds and state were notified and told what was needed? Why Mayor Giuliani and Governor Pataki! They were prepared, with a plan and people who knew their jobs! They had been paying attention and thinking! And they were communicating. They had people who knew what to do and how to communicate and coordinate with each other and with FEMA.

The whole system was designed to be triggered by local officials who are presumed to know what's happening and what is needed where. What is the federal government supposed to do, just ignore the authority of local officials and run roughshod over them? They could go around and run test drills and decide whom to defer to and whom to ignore? Or should they just assume that if the local government is run by Democrats, don't expect them to do their jobs?

I'm sure that the mayor and governors would welcome having the military roll in before the storm even past and start ordering people around.

I do not want the federal government taking more rights and responsibility from the states. The USA is a federation of states which have their own sovereignty. Every usurpation seems to be preceded by some emergency that justifies a little more reliance on government. If free people don't maintain their independence, their freedom goes with it. I don't think the feds should be the primary agency to dealt with local disasters. That's the job of governors and mayors for them. If they don't perform they should get fired by the people and new ones found. The federales should be able to rely on the locals to know what's going on and keep them informed and give them heads ups in sufficient time for them to arrange for additional help.

Another irony I noticed was in the segment about a hypothetical 10 kiloton 'device' were detonated in New York. The network's security said we should have duck tape and plastic sheeting to keep radioactive fallout from getting into our houses. I remember Tom Ridge telling us this, and his advice being being roundly mocked in the liberal press.

That's why it will be an even longer time before I go back to get ABC to tell me anything.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The most pretentious title

I'd nominate "social justice advocate", as if everybody else is opposed to social justice. "Justice," judging from what I gather from the post, means "being entitled to be cared for by others by reason of something that somebody else did to your ancestor," and "a right to something you didn't work for." The word "justice" is bein warped by people who confuse it with mercy, Christian charity, etc. Like the word "deserving poor" it's misleading. It's like saying it's not just that we aren't all born into riches, as if the universe was supposed to treat us all the same.

There's so much demagoguing of Katrina going on I wouldn't be surprised if the Democrats were shown to have created it through secret weather modification technology. Here's Hillary!:
Well, we saw what that meant in the last couple of days. You can't expect any help from your government that you pay taxes to. You can't expect any help unless you own a car, unless you have enough money to figure out how to get your family on an airplane to get away from impending disaster.

Emergency Response and Responsibility

Jack Welch:
. . . the Katrina crisis follows a well-worn pattern.

The first stage of that pattern is denial. The problem isn't that bad, the thinking usually goes, it can't be, because bad things don't happen here, to us. The second is containment. This is the stage where people, including perfectly capable leaders, try to make the problem disappear by giving it to someone else to solve. The third stage is shame-mongering, in which all parties with a stake in the problem enter into a frantic dance of self-defense, assigning blame and claiming credit. Fourth comes blood on the floor. In just about every crisis, a high profile person pays with his job, and sometimes he takes a crowd with him. In the fifth and final stage, the crisis gets fixed and, despite prophesies of permanent doom, life goes on, usually for the better.

Interesting and logical. This analysis applies to each level of society in the Katrina crisis. The personal and family level, private charity, local government, state and federal. Within each of these, except on the level of the individual, there is a structure involving a hierachry and leadership at the top is tested by the crisis. I think that the media blew it by jumping straight to the shame-mongering stage because they have been looking for ways to attack Bush ever since he decided to run for President. I think that as time goes by, people who are fair minded will realize that there are limits to what national government can do in responding to things like this.

Where's Joe Biden?

Michael Medved's website is conducting an on-line poll on "Who is the most annoying member of the Senate Judiciary Committee?" The choices are Patrick Leahy, Arlen Specter, Chuck Schumer, Ted Kennedy and Diane Feinstein. Perhaps they consider Biden as more entertaining than annoying.

Save the Crescent for the Crescent City

James Lileks on monuments, the one in Ohio and a hypothetical one for New Orleans v. Katrina.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Bodycount: 600

According to Fox News this afternoon.

The History Channel plugged its program Isaac's Storm about the hurricane that destroyed Galveston in the early 20th century, calling it "until Katrina, the most deadly hurricane in American history" That storm killed 6,000. So far, Katrina's toll is one tenth of that. I blame George Bush and Karl Rove for their strategy of lowering expectations. Or is that raising expectations.

This is not to minimize the loss of life, but when you remember where these people were living, and, with the exception of those who were abandoned in a nursing home that was flooded, it would have been difficult to prevent a lot of them. Thousands of people refused to leave their homes when warned, and were stranded as a result. If you fail to heed warnings, can you blame others for not tracking you down and dragging you out of the city? I consider the people who lived in New Orleans, below sea level, in the path of a Cat 5 Hurricane reckless for believing that anybody could save them even in a week.

I sent my contribution, because I recognize that many of these victims had no way to evacuate, or were not given one. I blame much of this on the unpreparedness and incompetence of local and state government. And I don't believe that one should deny help to even the most wanton risk taker. I'm just not convinced that anyone who tried to help should be blamed for not saving more lives. I don't believe in punishing good deeds. It's for those who tried to help to judge their own performance, but if someone tries to ford a flooded river and gets swept away, I don't feel that rescuers who can't reach him to be the cause of his death.

I'll be relieved and thankful if this catastrophe costs fewer than 1000 lives. 10,000 was a believable figure, but the difference between this and the final losses should be credited to those who were blamed at first.

As if we couldn't have guessed

The New York Times and Washington Post are "sharing" their frontpages the night before they appear on newsstands.

I'm not sure who outraged I feel, seeing as how tne internet renders the old notion of scooping the competition kind of anachronistic and quaint. If you're still getting the news on paper, you're behind the curve.

It's Democracy, Stupid!

Thomas Sowell writes about the harm done by "the nationally televised Roman circus and mud-slinging contest that these hearings have too often become." He goes on to make a point I've been trying to:
There has been much hand-wringing about how or whether we can tell what the "original intent" was among those who wrote the Constitution. But the moral and legal bases for the authority of the Constitution do not rest with those who wrote it. The moral and legal authority of the Constitution comes from those who ratified it -- "we the people" -- not those who wrote it.
In other words, our system is designed to allow those who make up our society what it will be like, within certain limits, by enacting their own laws from state to state and town to town. If people don't mind have a gay enclave in their city, far be it from me to tell them they can't have one, but the people in my little town shouldn't have to follow the same rules as New York or San Francisco.

One of our real mistakes over the past 50 years is to see every issue as one of civil rights. It was wrong to force blacks or any racial minority to be treated like second class citizens. But that doesn't mean that pornography is the same kind of consideration, or homosexual behavior in public places, or panhandling and vagrancy or gay marriage. There are sound reasons other than bigotry to object to many behaviors that are being claimed as rights. Just about any group can find a way to distinguish itself from everyone else and claim prejudice, but the push to sensitize society to every personal feeling someone might have, as in the questioning of John Roberts about referring to some one as "Amigos" or portraying women who become pregnant and feel shame or desperation as vicitms because they can't have abortion on demand, just leads to absurd results, a society that doesn't reproduce enough to maintain itself, for instance, or one so hamstrung by legaliities and political correctness that every person is isolated from everyone else for fear if being thought "insensitive."

Joltin' Joe

Joe Biden who seems to think he's an expert on everything from baseball to military strategy adds to his cranky performance at the Roberts hearing, a cranky critique of our progress in Iraq.

The Democrats' Right to Die

Mort Kondracke notes that Bush's problems are diverting attention from the Democrats' failure to propose a reasonable alternative.

This is especially true in the Roberts hearings where they continue to pound their heads against the wall asking questions he refuses to answer because they have nothing better to do and they don't dare not attack. They remind me of the Federalists who, having been snookered by the structural advantage the Constitution gave to the Southern States, became captured by abolitionists, failed to face reality and just became bitter. The party shrunk to oblivion because all it could do was carp and condemn.

Senator Clinton:
"Well, we saw what that meant in the last couple of days. You can't expect any help from your government that you pay taxes to. You can't expect any help unless you own a car, unless you have enough money to figure out how to get your family on an airplane to get away from impending disaster," Clinton said.
Something tells me that most of the people who were stranded in the city were not big taxpayers. And, of course, she's insulting the Coast Guard, the Red Cross, and every other organization that was there at once with help, as well as millions of people who sent aid immediately and generously. I didn't notice that the $52 billion authorized by Congress at Bush's request was marked "for the white and the rich" only.

I hope the Republicans hang this around her neck in the next four years, because, like Mayor Nagin, once the crisis has passed most fair people will recognize that Bush showed more concern for these people than their own Democrat governor did. It is the reaction of local Democrat pols that best fits Clinton's invective.

Oh, no! They're looking at us!

Tom Friedman reports how New Orleans' Katrina disaster looks to the citizens of Singapore, where they have good city government. The Big Easy looks like the Big Shameful.

Nip it!

In its zeal to damage George Bush, the media has spread the slander that the time it took to get help to people stuck in New Orleans shows that the system is racist. Jeff Jacoby shows why its false.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Why he's the Instapundit

Glenn Reynolds sums up a roundup of reactions to the confirmation hearings:
There's no better way to make Senators look bad than to hand them a microphone and let them talk at length.
Hugh Hewitt noted something similar this afternoon, gleefully pointing out how senator after senator wasted his/her time asking questions and then objecting when Roberts tried to answer them.

It's fascinating to watch the dynamics of this. The Democrats keep trying to pry a statement out of him that will prove to the country that he intends to undo what they consider to be 50 years of progress. But having made that so clear, they're hoisted on their own petard, the advice Joe Biden gave to Ruth Bader-Ginsburg. So when he refuses to answer their pointed questions, the sympathy is with him, not them. Kennedy may rail; Schumer pontificate; Leahy huff and puff and Biden crack wise, but the futility of proceedings just seems to grow. Roberts is as good as confirmed. By beating their chests and harrumphing about their Constitutional role and the obligation of nominees to answer their questions, they've only made themselves look ridiculous and impotent. They can't even control their own impulses to talk endlessly about nothing, and in the presence of a man who has argued more cases before the Supreme Court than anyone living, that's a telling weakness. They should just skip the hearing and go straight to the filibuster.

The rumors of Bush's death have been exaggerated.

Mark Steyn delivers a well-deserved fisking to Jeremy Clarkson, whose foul lies about the Katrina disaster are beyond heinous. Well, actually, it isn't so much a fisking as a taunting. Steyn senses that the media overplayed this to the point of bathos, and so is not worried about their political triumphalism:
I'll leave it to future generations of historians to settle the precise moment at which Hurricane Katrina finally completed its transformation into a Kansas-type twister, and swept up the massed ranks of the world's press to deposit them on the wilder shores of the Land of Oz. But for a couple of weeks now they've been there frolicking and gambolling as happy Media Munchkins, singing and dancing "Ding Dong, The Bush Is Dead".
. . .
[T]he media could never quite disguise the impression that their principal enthusiasm for this story derived from its potential as "the Bush Administration's political nemesis," as The Sunday Telegraph's Niall Ferguson put it. Predicting a back-to-the-Seventies economic slump, Prof Ferguson noted that post-Katrina "gasoline prices in some parts of the United States soared to $5 a gallon".
. . .
[I]t would seem unlikely that in the 2006 elections voters in states unafflicted by Katrina would eschew Republican incumbents and stampede to vote for the party that's given us the New Orleans Police Department, its clown mayor and Louisiana's sob-sister governor.

Mitt in Manhattan

Kathryn Jean Lopez has a positive review of Mitt Romney's speech to a "a Manhattan Institute-sponsored lunch at the Harvard Club in New York City. Having seen his performance in turning around the Utah Winter Olympics, which were headed for disaster after the bribery scandal, I'm rooting for the rest of the nation to take note too. I think he's presidential material, and if the Republicans don't figure it out, it will be their loss.

"I take responsibility. I'm sorry."

If we had a Democrat for president or news anchor that would have been all it took to shut up the media criticism. Of course, a Republican's saying this will only feed the frenzy. When they're taking their lead from Kanye West. This is a promo piece for a poll apparently meant to measure how well the MSM's con job went over with blacks. Answer: Pretty thoroughly, but it strikes me as the racism of low expectations. Why bother to even answer? It's like asking when you stopped beating your wife? The best answer is a counterattack.

Apparently the media don't care about white people, because there were plenty of them whose homes were destroyed by Katrina, we haven't seen as many photos of them compared to black victims. If you said that sentence is bogus, you get my point.

Soft-spoken Folk-humorist wields big stick

A spmall Minnesota Tee-shirt company is being menaced by Garrison Keillor who makes an awful lot of money selling humorous tee-shirts of his own. The parodist cannot abide parody.

Body Counts

279 so far. Considering the intensity of the storm, and the basic defenselessness of city residents that's pretty remarkable.

As for the 10,000 figure, it won't excuse the media that it came from Mayor Nagin. It was obviouly pulled out of the air, but the media repeated it over and over and referred to it in opinion pieces heaping blame on Bush. The MSM plays so loosely with the truth, that anything it reports ought to be taken as tentative at best. And they criticize military estimates!

It wasn't until yesterday that I heard a report about people who were killed by the storm. You always have a certain number of fatalities from any natural extremity, because there is always a certain percent of the population who are sick and die merely from added stress. Yesterday, however, 45 elderly patients were found dead in a medical facility which was under water. These people weren't holdouts. The couldn't get out, and the staff were unable to attract the notice of rescue helicopters flying through the city. Again, this is a result of the city's unpreparedness for the ever present possibility that its powere and levees could fail in a hurricane.

It's dress-up day in the Senate

The Senators grilling John Roberts get to play Appellate Justice today. Biden is trying to corner him by citing Justice Ginsburg's hearing. Good moment: Biden keeps interrupting Roberts' answer to a question. Specter cautions Biden to let Roberts finish his answer. Biden: "He's filibustering, sir." (Laughter from the audience)

Hail! An honest man!

Gandalf at Techno~Politics recants his blaming the feds for Katrina response, and he provides some pretty good evidence for doing so. It appears that FEMA responded faster than it ever has in the past:
Jason van Steenwyk is a Florida Army National Guardsman who has been mobilized six times for hurricane relief. He notes that:

"The federal government pretty much met its standard time lines, but the volume of support provided during the 72-96 hour was unprecedented. The federal response here was faster than Hugo, faster than Andrew, faster than Iniki, faster than Francine and Jeanne."

For instance, it took five days for National Guard troops to arrive in strength on the scene in Homestead, Fla. after Hurricane Andrew hit in 2002. But after Katrina, there was a significant National Guard presence in the afflicted region in three.
Read the whole thing. NOW!

The quote is in Jack Kelly's column, and Steenwyk's blog is here.

Tough choices

Paul Recer argues against providing insurance to people who insist on building in hurricane prone areas. It's appealing.
I'm thinking that a sea wall a given distance from the actual shore would be a good precondition. People who build in front of the wall know they won't get insurance or federal aid for rebuilding.

Jack Shafer argues that the romantic view of the city is a false facade. That it's famous "Let the good times roll" image masks a really hopeless life for the city's black residents. The corruption of both the city's businesses and its government are legendary. Mardi Gras is basically an annual celebration of every vice imaginable, as if daring God do do anything about it. This is apparently the same conclusion that many others besides me arrived at pretty quickly. The tempting of fate by continuing to occupy an area where the sewage has to be pumped out or it will literally rise up and drown the residents, is staggering. Expert after expert has been interviewed saying this was their worst nightmare and they have dreaded it for decades. It makes you want to tear your hair, especially when you hear what measures were taken to prepare for such an obvious danger. Basically they were relying on evacuation to save everyone without any assurance that everybody would be able to comply! If the mayor weren't black himself, he'd be accused of racism like George Bush is being. The more you hear about the performance of state and local government, the more you wonder how such incompetents were allowed to occupy their offices. I've said before what Brigham Young would have done about this, but on further reflection, I think he would have told them to get out long before this. He did, after all, lead an Exodus from the shores of the Mississippi to those of the Great Salt Lake.

I would take a position that New Orleans should be only partially rebuilt. No residences below sea level. The port and the oil industries make the city indispensible. Too much of our imported oil, as well as domestic production, comes through NOLA. Too much of our agricultural exports rely on the Mississippi and New Orleans for transportation. The port and essential industries must be rebuilt, but that's all the more reason to restrict the city's occupancy. If there's sufficient economic benefit, structures will be repaired or rebuilt, but homes and housing projects that are susceptible to flooding like we've just seen have no business being built in a sub-sea-level city that is still sinking. The areas next to the river are higher because the river deposits soil along its banks that keeps them high, but the rest of the Delta is made of sediments from the river. That's why it's called a delta, because natural river deltas are in the shape of the capital Greek letter of the same name.

We have prevented the natural behavior of the river at its mouth because of human trading and transportation needs, and I don't see any good way to resolve the conflict. New Orleans has to be accessible from the ocean and that means keeping the Mississippi in its channel and running fast enough to prevent it from silting up. That means that, until somebody, comes up with a way to restore the rest of the old delta, or they start building on piles that won't sink or drift, New Orleans will not be a safe place for residential use, other than hotels. There'll have to be a New New Orleans built or the residents must scatter to other cities and towns. Workers in the industries that remain will have to commute.

If the Lake Ponchartrain causeway didn't fail, why can't they build levees that won't?

Watching the Modern Marvels program on the History Channel about the construction of the two causeways across Lake Ponchartrain. They can't reach bedrock, but they drove piles 70 feet down into the lake bed. The causeways held up to Katrina.

There was a program earlier about why levees fail. When they're overtopped, the resulting waterfall undermines the dry side and causes them to tip over. Why don't they build them with the same engineering they use for bridges? There's probably a perfectly good reason, but nobody has explained it.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Saving for your kids' education?

I hope you're teaching them political correctness. They'll be graded on their "commitment to social justice", if they go to the Brooklyn College School of Education, or any of a lot of other colleges which aren't quite so explicit. The question is, do you want your kids to turn out like this?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Pure Religion

Imagine the shock.
Nearly 3,500 LDS volunteers came to Mississippi and Louisiana hurricane areas from Florida, Georgia, Texas, Louisiana and Alabama. They camped at meetinghouses and on Saturday fanned out in groups of 10. Their work projects took them to the tree-littered homes of fellow members, of emergency workers and whoever needed help. They worked in Pascagoula, Gulfport, Biloxi and Waveland, Miss., and in Covington, Laurel, Picayune and Bogalusa, La.
Makes me happy to be a Mormon. (Pride is a sin.)

Echoes and lessons.

The History Channel is showing a special about Rick Rescorla, Security Chief of Morgan Stanley, who, like John O'Neill, knew that there would be a second attack on the World Trade Center, and who prepared for it, saving the lives of its employees on 9/11 while losing his own trying to get people out. He tried to persuade the company to move its offices, but failed. Nevertheless, he made sure that nearly all the employees of his company got out. Then he went back to try to get others out.

It's amazing how reluctant people were to leave the buildings until you remember that until the second tower was hit, everybody thought the first plane was a bizarre accident. After the 1993 attack only a few people worried about another one.

You'd think it would have made everyone in government look at their jurisdiction and consider whether it was adequately prepared, but some didn't, as Katrina showed. The difficulties with the federal response were probably the result of the measures taken by Congress to improve it.

Another eerie parallel is that each disaster occurred in stages, first the towers were hit and first the hurricane went through. Then the towers collapsed, making the disaster far worse, and then the levees and canal broke trapping thousands who had not gotten out of the city. The difference was that in one case the city jumped into action; in the other it dithered and failed to act.

Tonight, Monday, September 12, the History Channel will have three programs about how New Orleans became such a dangerous trap along with a documentary about Lake Ponchartrain and another about the 1900 hurricane that was the deadliest storm in U.S. history, unless the deaths from Katrina exceed it.

Four years ago

It' really that long. I would have sworn in the days after, that this would have permanently changed our national attitude. I guess I underestimated the influence of our national press. Over time, the persistent hatred of George W. Bush and continual criticism can make people forget their shock and anger. I admire Bush's sincere Christianity, but sometimes I wish he'd respond more of these cheap shots.

Weak excuse.

Yahoo!'s excuse for collaborating with a police state just doesn't cut it. Who forced them to do business in China? I'd have bailed and let someone else help in the denial of human rights. Roger Simon is livid.

Are blacks wising up?

While no party has a monopoly on incompetence, the key consideration for leadership must be management ability and the Democrats have become so enslaved to unreality just don't have it. They despise business except when it comes to fundraising.

Homeland Defense vs. Disaster Response

I would hate to believe that Republicans would be so concerned about sexual harassment and the political correctness that has washed over this country since the 1960s. It would be interesting to know just who was responsible for such assinity and what his/her political preferences are, but anybody whose first concern at a time of national disaster is sensitivity training, doesn't belong in FEMA.

Still, was this incident typical? I doubt it. How much of the delay getting help into the city is reasonably attributed to FEMA. Compared to the absolute, almost perverse incompetence of city and state officials in New Orleans, it's annoying but not disastrous.

The NYTimes seems to be trying to rehabilitate Governor Blanco, by crediting her story that she couldn't get any buses because FEMA didn't have them there as promised. Instapundit and Tom Magquire readers, however, have reason to think otherwise. The Washington Post seems to be taking the Blame Aplenty tack. Time and Newsweek are still detailing "How Bush blew it." Jeff Goldstein scorches that version. All in all, it's another blown story for the liberal press.

The media focus has all been on the fact of people who were stranded inside the city when the levee broke and the roads became impassable, but, with the exception of Fox News, particularly Brit Hume and Major Garrett, they seem to have settled for the facile assumption that it must have been FEMA's, and therefore Bush's, fault. We all saw the people who couldn't evacuate on TV, and it is impossible not to be distressed by their plight, but it doesn't make sense to think that the Feds should have been there the minute the storm passed. The question should not have been, Why isn't FEMA here? It should have been, Where's the Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc.? And that would have revealed, via some questions to the private groups who are normally first responders, that they were not allowed into the city and that local and state government were in total disarray.

I do think that it was difficult to realize the size of this problem if you weren't there with a helicopter. It really takes a panoramic view and the ability to go miles and miles without seeing any dry ground to get the true impact of such a thing. It really is the sort of job that ultimately only the military could deal with. Previous experience with hurricanes in other areas couldn't prepare people for this scale of this result. But that's no excuse for One must wonder how much of that was slow to dawn because noof the confusion among local authorities.

So I don't feel like looking for people to blame just because of the kind of dumb things that always happen. What really bothers me, however, is when people don't try to help themselves, and when those who are responsible, like Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin, behave as though they're in a stupor or act contrary to common sense. Whoever decided to waste the time of volunteer emergency workers by giving them sensitivity training should be fired, but it's probably in the manual dictated by OEO or Congress, so they'd be justifiec.