Saturday, September 24, 2005


I had composed a post about how overturning American apartheid had created a sense of entitlement among those who were finally granted their full rights as citizens. The thought was that many of the charges of racist following hurricane Katrina are now the inevitable response to any perceived failure of the national government if any number of blacks meet misfortune. The point was that when the Civil Rights acts of the 1960s and later were passed, there was an idea among many blacks that the changes in law would solve all their problems in life. When they failed to do so, everything became the fault of racism, from poverty and bad schools to the fact that the levees next to black neighborhood broke. Legal equality does not translate into other kinds of equality or economic advances without effort. Those with ambition and a sense for politics found ways to capitalize on the new consciousness of civil rights. Others took advantage of the new opportunities and obtained educations and achieved middle class status, but the connection seemed to elude far too many.

Alas, when I tried to publish it, Blogger burped and lost the post. Maybe it was a warning not so put such thoughts forth in public.

Nobody I know of thought of New Orleans in terms of poor blacks or thought they didn't deserve to be rescued or helped. But the anger, complaints and charges of racism really disgusted most people I know. That is a natural reaction, and such bitterness may ultimately may become self-fulfilling as people who originally felt compassion begin to wonder what can be done for people with such an attitude. Certainly, the guilt heaped on the nation by the press, will no doubt reap a following flood of cash to be squandered along with largesse of the past. How could the home of one of the biggest ports in the world fail to turn trade into prosperity?

There will be a lot of discussion of these issues. I only hope we can arrive at different understandings.

How to rescue a sagging newspaper business.

Charge for internet access!

[frogs croaking, crickets chirping]

Paint Mickey Kaus skeptical:
We Want the Overnights!

Q.: Does the NYT have the subscriber totals for the triumphant first days of TimesSelect, its new pay-for-columnists feature?

A: Of course it does.

Q.: If those numbers were any good, wouldn't the NYT be telling us about them?

A: Of course it would!

Q: Have you seen them telling us about any numbers?

A.: Not yet.
Plan B: Pledge Drive! Devote a quarter of the normal news space in the paper to pleas for contributions to "keep us from having to accept advertising." Lend money to Air America. Don't take questions.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Cooking pork

I'm afraid that the only cure will be a wholesale voting out of the rascals. But it won't take long for new rascals to be created by the system of lobbyists and lawyers in Washington.

Just got in the mail

1491 by Charles Mann. I don't get books to review like big name bloggers. This promises to be really fascinating, however. The Americas before Columbus were far different than most people know.

Of course, I'm interested in this because of The Book of Mormon, which is a religious history of a people who lived in this hemisphere from 600 BC until around 400 CE. It was assumed that their descendents are the American Indians, but it has always seemed more complicated than that.

BTW, Indian is the term most, if not all, descendents of Pre-Columbian Americans use to refer to themselves. So Native American is mediaspeak. They think of Americans as people in the US. Mann's discussion of the naming problems is lucid and logical.

Now if we could just figure out a way to refer to Americans of African ancestry that made sense and they wouldn't take offense at. They aren't really black. They're brown skinned. They're not African any longer. When they go to Africa, Africans don't see them as black like themselves. Of course, most negroes in Africa don't think of themselves as Africans so much as members of their own peoples.

It's fake but accurate

I mean that in a good way. The TCS parody on "The Brady Bunch" is about how current liberal policies are going to leave us with energy shortages like we had in the 1970s.

New Orleans is not The Netherlands

One of Hugh Hewitt's callers make the point that in the Southwest you aren't allowed to build in a arroyo in the desert because of flash floods and wondered why they are not insisting that New Orleans be rebuilt on high ground. Hugh answered him by pointing to the Netherlands.

Here's a good summary of what it's like in the Netherlands:
Since the Dutch system was designed 50 years ago, scientists have discovered that seas are rising faster and the country is sinking faster than expected. It has fallen 12 feet in the last 1,000 years and the rates are increasing, according to Dutch statistics. The surrounding seas, in turn, are rising about 23 to 39 inches per century, the figures show.

Dutch scientists say that both the country's politicians and its younger generation have become complacent in the last 50 years. A generation that has never experienced a catastrophic flood is questioning the need to funnel billions into research and new systems.
The Netherlands have lost tens of thousands of citizens to floods. According to the National Geographic special the other night, they've spent $2.5 trillion over the past 50 years to build their seawalls and repair dikes that have failed. And the distances involved are miniscule compared to our Gulf Coast.

Their efforts and engineering are truly awesome, but their whole country is tiny compared with the areas we'd have to protect, and the distances involved are miniscule compared to our Gulf Coast. I wonder what having sea walls across their ocean views would do to property values down there.

Then there's this:
But now environmental, engineering and flood experts say those defenses might be insufficient. In the 21st century, population growth and climate change caused by global warming have left the country's interior, through which flow the Rhine, Maas and Schelde rivers, more vulnerable to flooding than ever, they say. High river dikes -- similar to those built in the United States to regulate the Mississippi River -- are now seen more as a contributor to major flooding than a protection against it.

A five-year study due to be published in January is likely to include disturbing new calculations of flood threats to the Netherlands and gaps in the country's readiness, according to experts and government officials familiar with the findings. Major deficiencies in evacuation plans for the most populous Dutch cities are likely to be outlined in the study.
They have concluded that the areas with the lowest population density will have to be sacrificed to the floods, and the land owners repaid for the loss of their homes.

They can't move to higher ground without leaving their own country or building up their polders higher. They're already one of the most densely populated areas on earth. New Orleans can, but its businesses and people don't want to abandon it. I think that Katrina and insurance costs in the area. If they want to live like this, they're welcome to it, but they had better start a trust fund or endowment from taxing the oil and gas industry and the port and an independent federal-state-local agency to monitor the situation and make sure the various walls are solid. And people who don't have their own transportation shouldn't live there.

The Netherlands is not a model we should be emulating, but at least as far as I'm concerned.

The attitude of people living on coastal areas is fatalistic. They seem to just accept the fact that they're going to be flooded every so often and a few thousand deaths are inevitable.

That's why Louisiana and New Orleans were so ill prepared. But now this stuff is being used to badger the rest of the nation and all the blaming and complaining is pretty ugly.

The Netherlands has no choice but to accept living below sea level. They're stuck, unless they start building up their land, knowing that it will continue to sink at a few feet per century. That's how they built their country. For us to build sea walls like theirs would take a whole lot more more than $2.5 trillion.

They have to deal with it. We don't! There's no reason to allow huge tracts of houses to be subject to the flooding we've seen. Make 'em build on higher ground.
The original city was built on high ground along the banks of the river. That's why it wasn't flooded in places like the French Quarter. The skyscrapers will remain, and some of the city can be filled in and built up by bringing in a lot of rock and concrete. But the residential areas can't afford that.

Hopeful news from Brazil

The mask is being stripped the progressive Worker's Party which is mired in a huge bribery scandal.
The conventional wisdom was that, despite his radical Marxist roots and occasional concessions to his political base, Lula represented a healthy move away from the old left and toward the emergence of a new model for underdeveloped nations similar to Europe’s social democracy. Many thought this model would have a moderating effect on the left across the continent and hold Hugo Chávez in check.
Nope, it's good old fashioned lefty politics. Give away the bank and crush business, the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Does this count as pork?

The Times reports that a lot of those debit cards that were handed out were used at strip clubs.

Do Americans want to be loved?

That's an old saw and the basis of David Ignatius' latest column. This is one of those memes that don't really make a lot of sense when you examine them.

We don't like to be criticized. Nobody does, but the only Americans I know who want the rest of the world to love us are liberals. Most of us don't care that much what the rest of the world thinks of us. We get annoyed when, like the French, they get huffy and don't seem to remember that a lot of Americans died to give them back their freedom from German agression not that long ago. And when people come from abroad, accept our hospitality, study in our universities and then turn on us and kill thousands of us, we get angry and want to hit back. Right now we're spending American lives and treasure to try to build a democracy in Iraq. It's not because we want to turn it into a playground for vacationing Americans. And it's not because we want to own another Puerto Rico.

We think that the best way to keep the rest of the world from dumping their problems and violence on us is to take out the people who are causing trouble. When the terrorists are defeated, the Iraqis are dealing with them without our help, or it becomes clear that they just can't do it, we'll bring our troops home, or take another tack against terrorism. We don't care if Iraqis love us afterwards, we just want to be left alone, to trade with others and to let them live their lives.


Jonah and I are on the same page. I'm wishing the Porkbusters well, but I'm not all that sanguine. What's miraculous is that this country has survived and thrived with with democracy. I don't expect it to ever really correct itself. I think it'll have to go bankrupt before the grownups take control again.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Where's Judge Sirica?

Hugh Hewitt thinks this will be another Watergate:
The U.S. attorney's office for the District and the FBI are investigating the theft of Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele's credit report by two Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee staffers, law-enforcement officials confirmed yesterday.
The head of that campaign committee is Chuck Schumer.
The U.S. attorney's office for the District and the FBI are investigating the theft of Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele's credit report by two Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee staffers, law-enforcement officials confirmed yesterday.
I'm not holding my breath for the MSM to pick this up.

Are we there yet?

That must be ringing in the head of a lot of drivers trying to get out of Houston. People are calling in to Hugh Hewitt saying they've been in their cars for 10 to 24 hours trying to get away from the coast.

Searchlight's Dim Bulb

James Taranto's nickname for Harry Reid. Perfect.


Weren't the flood walls built by the city of New Orleans built to the standards of the Corps of Engineers? Something smells, and it isn't the backed up sewage.

Sobering Stats

The ten most powerful hurricanes can give some idea of how serious Rita could be.

Then think about those living in places like Haiti, Cuba, Central American and the Carribean who are hit by these storms.

E. B. White and the Jackass media

Hugh Hewitt posts a piece by E. B. White about Hurricane Edna from 1954:
It became evident to me after a few fast rounds with the radio that the broadcasters had opened up on Edna awfully far in advance, before she had come out of her corner, and were spending themselves at a reckless rate. During the morning hours, they were having a tough time keeping Edna going at the velocity demanded of emergency broadcasting. I heard one fellow from, I think, Riverside, Long Island, interviewing his out-of-dorrs man, who had been sent abroad in a car to look over conditions on the eastern end of the island.

"How would you say the roads were?" asked the tense voice.

"They were wet," replied the reporter who seemed to be ina a sulk.

"Would you say the spray from the puddles was dasjing up around the mudguards?" inquired the desperate radioman.

"Yeah," replied the reporter.

It was one of those confused moments, emotionally, when the listener could not be quite sure what position radio was taking--for hurricanes or against them....
I guess they'll never grow up.

I'd really like to see some recommendations for rebuilding NOLA on pontoons. The Dutch have built highway that floats all the time. With the availability of things like plastic foam, that may not be such a crazy idea.


I just sent the following to Joe Scarborough who seems to be in a permanent state of bitchiness about these hurricans:

With all your bitching about the government not doing enough for hurricane victims, I'm getting to the point where I don't want to send another cent down there. I know most of these people aren't as arrogant and ungrateful as you are, so I probably will, but you are not helping. You're making it sound like these people had no choice but to live below sealevel or on the sunny hurricane coasts! Look, Jerk, I wouldn't live there if they gave it to me. It's dangerous, especially if you don't have a way to get out.

As far as I'm concerned, the first responsibility is with the individual to protect himself. If you can't afford insurance and don't have a way to get out, DON'T LIVE THERE!

That being said, the city and states down there are supposed to be be prepared! When we see people stranded, we all have compassion and want to help. But if they elect morons, how can anybody else help that?

The VERY LAST THING THEY SHOULD BE SAYING, especially that other twit,Heath Allen, on your show, is WHY WEREN'T YOU THERE WAITING TO SAVE OUR BACON! Those of us who have more sense, or maybe just not the money, than to go live in "The Land of Dreams," get pretty offended by people who made their nests in a flood plain COMPLAINING THAT THE CHARITY ISN'T THERE ON TIME! We do what we can, but if we can't get to you in time, it's NOT OUR FAULT. There is nothing so offensive as whining about people who are trying to help you after you walked into the quicksand right past a dozen warning signs.

I want to help people, but I didn't build their cities, or tell them to stay put with a Cat 5 hurricane bearing down on them.

I've seen the films. I know about the 1900 hurricane. I knew that NOLA is below sea level. When I heard about the people stranded there I sent cash, because that's all I could do. But when I hear you raging and blaming and bellyaching, I feel like asking for my money back.

If you want to help these people, you should be thanking the country for the help that IS pouring in and showing us what more needs to be done. BUT QUIT BLAMING YOUR VIEWERS AND THE GOVERNMENT THEY PAY TAXES TO, because these people have put themselves in a stupid place. Show some humility and a little thanks.

As you can tell, this is really making me angry. And I know from talking to others that the media bitching about this is really turning them off. YOU ACCOMPLISH NOTHING BY BLAMING BUSH. Do you really think Clinton, Gore, or John Kerry would have been any better? If Louisiana were run by Republicans, I don't think all these deaths would have occurred. We don't order these hurricanes and we didn't elect the team of Blanco and Nagin. Quit blaming them on the rest of the country!

If you want help, SHUT THE HELL UP with the complaining, blaming and bitching!

I'm about ready to start lobbying to disband FEMA if this is the kind of thanks we get. I can tell you one thing, I won't be watching your show any time soon! People are dying because they were allowed to live in dangerous places.

Go back and read Matthew 7 about the man who built his house on sand and what happened when the rains came and the winds blew. Then read the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins. Then show me anything in the scriptures where the Lord says When people are trying to help you, heap abuse on them!

Think about it.

Saw the first body bags from NOLA

On MSNBC. They're still going door to door checking houses for hold outs and dead bodies. It really makes me annoyed that they can't make people get out of the cities in the path of these things.

Joe Scarborough, shut up! He keeps harping that "our leaders failed us miserably." I'm getting really tired of being told that because these people have built their homes in places like that keep getting smashed by hurricanes, it's the federal government's job to save everybody. It's a gamble with your life to stay in the range of the storm swell, or anything but a concrete bunker. I have compassion for those who just don't have any means to evacuate, especially when their own cities and states let them down, but it all comes down to the fact that nobody forced them to live there! Quit bitching about what everybody else owes you.

I hope this jerk doesn't run for Congress again. He's part of the problem.

Let's be clear. The people who populate places like this are the first ones to blame, especially when they don't prepare themselves for things like this. Nobody owes them a thing. What we give and the help we send is out of compassion, not because it's our job.

We live with winter. And we don't come moaning to you when we have a blizzard. If I were you, I'd tell these weasels in the media to shut up about the rest of the country. Show a little appreciation or a lot of us are going to just quit trying to help.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Watching "Invasion" on ABC

It seems to the time for scary science fictions shows. Did the TV Producers all just get a bunch of big movie quality special effects computers? Who told them this was the year of the sci-fi suspense thriller? Or is this some kind of alien plot?

So far, they all seem to be of the Alien Invasion genre.

Invasion seems to be an update of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. NBC's Surface is about some kind of sea monsters from space. CBS has Threshold, in which an alien craft if found at sea and is being investigated by a special team of specialists, including Brent Spiner, from Star Trek TNG. I missed the first hour of the the two hour premiere, so I'm not sure if I can tell much about it. The website home page links to a pretty cool screensaver though.

What's really eerie is how similar the shows seem to be. They all have babes, geeks and scientists. Two have rednecks. They're all the kind where you don't really get to see the Aliens up close, at least in the first episodes. I get the feeling that they were driven by the need to match what the competition is doing. I can't think of any other explanation for the coincidental appearance of all three at one. Are they imitations of some hit film I haven't seen?

They've all been done in the movies, but I'll probably watch them all for a few weeks if I don't get tired sooner. We'll see which characters I care about after a month.

Mmmmm. Pork!

Reynolds is watching! There's still resistence though. If you want this to work, you'd better be recruiting candidates to make it an issue.

Worth Two Thousand Words

Two pictures tell a lot.

If I lived on the Gulf Coast of Texas right now I'd be closing the shutters on my ark.

Further inland, I'd be checking the supplies in my tornado cellar. It's Cyclone Week in East Texas. Get out or get ready to buck.

After reading about the Mormons driven from their homes in Missouri and then in Illinois, I'm pretty sure that the Lord doesn't see losing all your possessions as a compelling reason for him to excuse you from the impacts of Nature. He really does help those who help themselves. Clinging to possessions is not a good reason to risk your life. Remember Lot's wife.

Get out of there, and don't look back.

Smearing Chatterbox

Timothy Noah author of a column called "Chatterbox" on Slate has assailed conservatives for "smearing" Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg by pointing out that she had formerly represented the ACLU and had supported lowering the age of consent to 12 and legalizing prostitution. Chatterbox is right. Noah seems to just keep chattering whether he's got anything to say or not.

Justice Ginsburg is not up for confirmation. The whole point of recalling these things, was to point out that those "smears" were not used to derail her confirmation or argue that she should be filibustered. Most people who aren't leftist ideologues don't see most of the arguments against John Roberts as anywhere nearly as extreme as some of the things Ginsburg supported in the past. The point was that if those positions didn't disqualify her as being "out of the mainstream" how much less are Judge Roberts' view justified as grounds to reject him.

In short, Mr. Noah is a hypocrite. We've just witnessed attempt after attempt to make John Roberts looke "insensitive" to Latinos because he referred to "illegal amigos" once in a memo, and hostile to the constitution beccause of legal opinions he rendered 25 years ago. And he thinks repeating knocks on Ginsburg, which weren't used as a reason to vote against her, is "smearing" her. And he's not very bright, either if he thinks this is a way to convince anybody that filibustering Roberts is justified.

What does this mean?

Pat Leahy has announced he'll vote to confirm Roberts.

Is he thinking, "I'm keeping my powder dry for the next one."

Or, "It's obvious that we can't stop this guy. I don't want to look like a sore loser."

Or "I'm too old for this crap. We just got our heads handed to us trying to keep these abortion groups happy. Who needs this?"

I know which one I'd be thinking. Leahy knows that he's got to work with Republicans for awhile in the future, and maybe he senses that Hatch's approach on Justice Bader-Ginsburg looks a lot fairer to voters who don't know much about this.

Boy, Erwin Chemerinsky is getting smoked by John Eastman on Hugh Hewitt. Of course, he's trying to defend a litmus test on specific cases for SCOTUS nominees.

Pray for the passengers

This is no freeway chase! A Jetblue plane has its front landing gear turned sideways and can't retract it. Right now it's flying around to burn off fuel. It's an Airbus and can't jettison fuel. There's hope that the nose gear will caster (turn like a grocery cart wheel) on the runway before they try a landing.

This is why I need Fox News in my office.

Update: They made it. They practice drills for this kind of situation, so I guess they weren't in too much danger. But it must have been white knuckle time on that plane. I hope they weren't watching live TV. They'd have to replace a lot of seat cushions. The nose gear didn't caster. It was locked sideways, but it held the weight of the plane, even as the tires burned off and the wheel sparks seem to set fumes from the tarmac on fire. That pilot and his flight crew deserve bonuses. They probably saved the company. The plane never veered from straight, which could have been fatal. They burned off most of their fuel and made arrangement to land at LAX which has an extra long runway. Then they moved people to the rear of the plane and landed on the two main sets of wheels without dropping the nose until they had slowed down quite a bit. Then they lowered it gingerly and then up and down a number of times as the tires were burned off. At the end they allowed the front to just grind off until they could bring it to a stop. The sight was arresting, but the performance of the landing was truly impressive. Nice job.

The bad news is Bush's down in the polls.

The good news, according to Howard Kurtz:
In my humble opinion, the Democrats need to do more than just criticize the bungling of the past. They need to lay out a compelling vision for the reconstruction of New Orleans. There's an important debate to be had here, but my sense is that voters don't have much patience for the usual partisan bickering.

It's similar, in a way, to the Democratic dilemma over Iraq: Yes, we know it's a mess, but what would you do differently in the future?
I wonder if they wouldn't do better to just have an MSM party, as Howard Fineman posited. The Democrats don't have a single candidate I can even listen to. The MSM has lots of good looking folk who know how to read teleprompters. They're well practiced in negative campaigning. Their only problem would be coming up with a credible platform. "No defense. More environmentalism," isn't likely to convince people.

I got my John Tierney

and it didn't cost me a single penny!

Anti-Pork Triumphalism

More progress on the pork front. Nowhere near the $200 billion level, but Katrina has given Democrat politicians an incentive to play this as a dig against Tom Delay and George Bush, and politicians who never have felt comfortable with pork barrel spending a cause to rally to.

I'd love to be proven wrong on this. It needs to become fixed in the mind of every voter that having the government do things for you is usually proof that you're incompetent. The Federal Government was never intended to replace the state governments the way it has, and it needs to start looking for ways to cut spending on subsidies and welfare of all kinds, including various tax credits and exemptions that benefit private businesses and farmers. It has a number of legitimate types of spending, such as national defense, regulating interstate commerce, but most of the bureaucracy is a sinkhole for money. We'd do better going back to the days when income taxes were below 1% and most federal funds were from excise and tarrif taxes.

Harry Reid, Statesman

How's this for leadership? I won't vote for him, but I won't support a filibuster. Like a kiss from your sister. The Dems are doomed.

I'll wait and see

Yeah, it looks pretty lame, but if so many of the inmates are upset, maybe they need somebody who will insist on their doing a better job. I'm not sure what exactly the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is supposed to do, but if it's to catch Arabs who are here illegally, it can't be said to be above improvement.

Blog Power!

It seems to have made Tom Delay back off, but I'm not holding my breath for pork in government to shrink much.

I first voted for Orrin Hatch when the incumbent was touting a bill to require that all radios sold in the country have AM and FM capability. They never change.

The NYTimes Co. is laying off 500 more workers.

These will affect both the Boston Globe and the Times itself. Kind of ironic after denouncing Bush for suspending the Davis-Bacon Act. If the Times didn't have to pay union wages in its printing plants, how many jobs could it have saved.

Is asking people to pay to read Krugman, Dowd, et al. online the answer? No, but it might at least cut down on the amount of blogranting about their latest outrages. That has to count as a public service. Or maybe not. It'll be interesting to know how much they make on that deal. I quit doing the Times crosswords when they started charging for them and then raised the rates, and those crosswords are more addictive than Krugman or Dowd. David Brooks is a good writer and generally quite sensible, but he's a Milquetoast compared to the others, which is probably why he got the Times gig. If he'd been as intemperate on the right as they are on the left, he'd still be writing for The Weekly Standard or, more likely, have his own radio and TV talk show like Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity.

If you're a columnist, you'd better start a blog and hope you can attract an audience.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Saving the hurricane coasts.

Watched a program on the National Geographic Channel about the sea walls built to protect the Netherlands from the North Sea.
In 1953 a killer storm surge floods the Dutch coastline and claims over 1800 lives, inspiring the construction of the biggest, most sophisticated flood defenses on the planet. Costing billions of dollars, the systems of giant concrete and steel sea wallsand retractable floodgates include one of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World. But with sea levels rising across the globe, the fierce North Sea and swelling rivers threaten to breach the defences again and wipe out the Netherlands.
Including a pair of gates to close the shipping channel to the port of Rotterdam, the busiest on earth.

They've spent $2.5 trillion in the past 50 years and have budgeted another $26 billion for the next 100 years. Climate change is expected to create more floods coming in from the higher lands to the East and South. They have designated areas to be sacrificed in such a case. I'm doubtful of the Global Warming predictions, but I think that we're going to have to deal with it, whether it happens or not on the schedule predicted, we can't just assume it won't happen. These are natural cycles that raise and lower sea levels over time. The costs of abandoning Southern Florida may justify that of building sea walls around it. Expect windmills to pump out the ocaean.

The Netherlands is a very similar case to that of Southern Louisiana: built on marshlands, subject to storm surges from the North Sea, land is sinking as it dries out and the organic matter in it decomposes. It's sea walls will continue to become ineffective as sea levels rise.

Their sea coast is much shorter than the US coastal areas affected by hurricanes. Even if we build walls to prevent flooding by storm surges, they couldn't prevent the winds and rains accompanying hurricanes, nor would they stop the loss of wetlands in the Delta, which is caused by the channeling and levees of the Mississippi. Expect a lot of resistance from environmentalists.

I have to say that the case of the Netherlands doesn't make me feel any more positive about rebuilding NOLA. If that country spent $2.5 trillion over 50 years ($50 billion per year) to protect a much shorter main coast line, how much would it cost to protect the major population centers on both the Gulf Coast and the Atlantic Coast that could be hit by hurricanes.

Rita stands to be a repeat of the horrors of earlier hurricanes like Audrey, Tropical Storm Claudette, Alicia, Carla, Gilbert, T.S. Allison, and the 1900 hurricane that killed between 6,000 to 12,000 people when it destroyed Galveston. Rita is expected to be a Cat 4, possibly 5, hurricane before it's done and exceed Carla which hit the Texas Coast in 1961. Maybe the best idea for NOLA would be to require that homes in the low areas be floatable like those being built now in the Netherlands, along with windmill-driven pumps to supplement those they normally rely on. I wonder how many trillions it would cost to make all these areas safe, not including all the environmental litigation. East step in category means 10 times the damage of the previous one. Carla was a Cat 4. Rita could be a Cat 5.

"You are stuck on 'stupid'!"

Thus spake General Honore. I wish the White House Press Secretary had that kind of spunk. I'd vote for Honore. I'd also like to hear what he'd have to say in response to Dan Rather's whining. That'd probably be another Patton-esque slapping incident.

That'd be a good name for a blog, "" The MSM has been SOS since the 1960s.

On a roll

Howard Kurtzhas had two great columns yesterday and today. The first about the media hypocrisy in being interested in the poor only when they can use them as a club to attack Bush.
Covering the 37 million people who live below the poverty line--the percentage has increased for four straight years--is not as easy as, say, covering advocates who claim to speak on their behalf. Many of the poor are wary of intrusive journalists, don't carry cell phones and don't speak in snappy sound bites.
I'm not sure that anybody really "lives below the poverty line," unless they're drug addicts, mentally ill or are being abused by someone withholding assistance the assistance we give to practically anybody. Nobody in this country really has to go hungry, or homeless. A lot of them have become helpless through our societies attitude that nothing is anyone's fault.
The same goes for race: It is far easier to write about the politics of race--President Bush appointing the first two black secretaries of state, or refusing to speak to the NAACP--than to probe the impact of federal policies on the lives of minorities. And the problems of generations of low-income broken families who seem unable to escape the cycle of poverty can be depressing fare.
And it tends to discredit the liberals' solutions to poverty and their claims to care about these people. George Bush shows more concern for the victims of our welfare and education systems, by trying to lift them out of their lives of dependence and fecklessness, and not just sending them more checks.

I've heard about a woman who used the temporary assistance she received to buy and $80 purse, but who can blame her, when she's probably never had that much cash in her life. She is the product of a system that has never taught her the true value of anything.

The Great Bad Man

Michael Medved has George Galloway on his radio show. The first remark out of Galloway's mouth was to condemn Medved's standard show opening hailing the U.S. as "the greatest nation on God's Green Earth." Galloway is extremely defensive, as his aggressive anti-Israel rhetoric and personal attacks on Medved. He keeps referring to Medved's notes from MEMRI, as "an Israeli website," as though that alone is proof that its unreliable.

Galloway is quite an accomplished Sophist. As easy to pin down as a bucket of eels, and very skilled at evading every question by retorting with attacks. He talks just like Christopher Hitchens, but he's dishonest.

Its fascinating to see the difference between British and American debating styles. Galloway, as Hitchens, is a master of the sneer and his favorite tactic is to take offense at practically everything anybody says. It's the "righteous indignation" pose, go on the pose and turn every question into an impugning of his "character," and act insulted. He goads with barely disguised contempt for "Israeli websites," hoping to provoke an accusation of anti-semitism, so that he can use his "How dare you . . ." speech.

You could teach a class in the rhetoric of deception from the content of this hour alone.

I wonder when we'll get a debate between Galloway and Mark Steyn.

How do you get pigs to vote for cutting fat?

Howard Kurtz is concerned about the effect of spending billions to rebuilt the Gulf Coast and New Orleans, as I am. But things like this don't count as deficit spending according to the rules governing reporting such things. If the $200 billion comes out of revenues, i.e. is given in the form of tax credits and exemptions, I'm less worried, but however you slice it this will affect how much the Feds have to spend. What concerns me is that this kind of assistance has become a new entitlement. Everything spent by the federal government is wasteful, because there's so much money sloshing around at that level that nobody can really get a grasp on the whole thing, let alone stand up to all the advocates for a particular spending program, when there are so few who oppose it and know enough to make a case against it. Then there's the problem of building a consensus on what programs are fat and which are justified.

Over the weekend I watch BookTV a lot. This week there was a segment featuring Charles W. Calhoun discussing his biography of Benjamin Harrison. The biggest fiscal problems during Harrison's presidency was that the government was running surpluses because tariffs were bringing in more than was needed. Harrison, a Republican, was opposed to lowering taxes, and proposed instead to use the surplus for public works. That was the beginning of pork barrel politiics. It has now been a tradition for more than a century. You're only critical of pork when you're not benefiting from it.

Call me slow

I finally figured out that all this Pork posting supposed to prove that Tom Delay's silly claim about there being no more fat to cut in the federal budget. I can't believe anybody really thought that needed refutation.

I think that there's a difference between pork and fat in the minds of member of Congress, and after the Roberts hearings, I use the term "minds" advisedly. To them, "fat" means something you can eliminate and still get a budget passed. "Pork" means the ordinary and necessary cost of getting vital legislation passed. We all can look at the budget and spot money for a museum of the White Tailed Prairie Dog as pure lard, but what's a million or two for a vote to get the Transportation Bill passed? That's one of the facts of life for legislators. Every one of them wants to horse trade, and usually all they've got is dog food to deal with, but when a big bill comes barreling through, every man's a king.

I'm only half kidding.

Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown.

It's that time again

Synchronize your Political Correctness dictionaries! The new correct term for colored, negroes, mulattos, octoroons, picaninnies, Afro-Americans, ebonic speakers, blacks, African- Americans, etc., is now New Afrikan(s) The rest of us WASPs will remain Whitey until further notice.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Funny how the profit motive still works

Grows hair! Also removes warts!"

Actually that's a quote from W.C. Fields, but the claims of the inventor of the "H2N Gen" reminded me a little of snake oil, particularly the 100% pollution reduction claim. That's not possible if you treat CO2 as a pollutant.
His device is installed in cars and draws power from a car's battery to split water to produce hydrogen which is added to the intake manifold. This in turn causes more complete combustion in the engine, resulting in better mileage. Up to 94%It

If it works, we'll see it in all the new cars. If not, well, you've heard about those 100mpg carburetors that were suppressed by Big Oil.

The Almighty to New Orleans

"Perhaps you didn't get my message!" You can run, but you can't hide.

I don't really believe that God is sending hurricanes to punish these poor people, but seeing Rita's storm track you could get the impression that something has it in for them.

Update: Houston, you have a problem! Rita is now at Cat 5. Maybe the Almighty is telling us that we really don't need oil and gas.

But I doubt that. I think it's more like the message to the people who built the Tower of Babel, "Don't think you can do without my help and protection!" You can't separate church and state in the way we have tried to do. Religious faith helps keep us humble, except for a small number of radicals. It also helps the poor far more effectively than government ever could. Anybody who reads the Sermon on the Mount should know better than to think that Jesus' teachings are harmful. It's usually apostates who use religion to hurt others or seek worldly power in the name of God.

No higher praise!

Howard Kurtz sounds like a blogger. Welcome aboard matey!

The One True God

ARGGH! That lubber, Black Dog Hewitt, be tryin' to build a johnboat called "One True God." I'll be keelhauled if that be a welcome breeze!

Who told him thar be one true God? Aye, scripture! The Good Book. It be a cursed thing to dispite that book. But, what scurvy bilge rat, be he blogger or thealodger, can say aught about its meanin' without he's parleyed with God hisself? That book were written by holy men who palavered with th'Almighty direct, an it says "This is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

Now, who be this "only true God?" Most clergymen these days think he be a sperrit! And that there be three persons in that sperrit! But the Bible don't say that. Some band of Bishops decided that 300 years after the Bible were set down. It's bilge! It don't blow straight. If Christ's true church had come through pure an spotless, d'yer reckon it'd be split in of pieces like a doubloon? D'yer think there ud be no more 'Postles ter lead it? D'yer think his church woulda made war on other Christians, and kilt people like those that put Himself on a cross? They're mutineers, I tell ye. Mutineers without a true chart nor skills to read one.

Blast ye fer pirates! True mates don't preach for doubloons. Ask the Almighty yerself, if ye want ter know, and let him tell yer direct! Ask him who's seen Him.

Don't expect government to go Vegan anytime soon.

It's a revival of an old idea. Some of us remember Senator Proxmire's attacks on pork, which inspired Senator McCain's. It's spitting into the wind.

Two reasons: Politicians know that pork, not principles, motivate most voters. This is so because industry groups and unions activate their members to support or oppose politicians based on how "friendly" they are to their special communities. That makes delivering pork an easy way to garner lots of votes and donations without a lot of effort. It's an irresistable temptation.

They also are territorial. When someone else's district or state gets something, they want the same or something similar for their own. When voters see massive federal spending in other areas, they feel the same way.

Michael Crichton could have predicted it.

In New Jersey "A group of deer that were injected with a birth control vaccine are still getting pregnant, leading wildlife officials to look for new options to cut down on the state's deer population."

Send them to Utah. Our DWR will regulate them into extinction in no time.

Bill Gates' worst nightmare

Gates has been famously fearful that if it makes a wrong move Microsoft could be out of business in no time. This is one of his arguments in support of establishing and maintaining a monopoly. He won't be able to say that anymore. Microsoft has reached middle age.
Microsoft is slowing down. It is bigger, more lumbering and less profitable than it was five years ago. Its sales are up 73% in five years, but profits are up only 30%. Payroll has doubled in the last six years. In the fiscal year just ended, sales rose only 8%, the first time the company has ever reported less than double-digit growth.

In the dog years of Silicon Valley, Microsoft, at 30, is in advanced middle age. The company relies on Windows and a suite of desktop applications--products released a decade ago--for 80% of sales and 140% of profits. Newer products--the Xbox videogame machine, the MSN online service, the wireless and small-business software--collectively have racked up $7 billion in losses in four years.
It's going to need a different management approach.
What has gone wrong? Microsoft, with $40 billion in sales and 60,000 employees, has grown musclebound and bureaucratic. Some current and former employees describe a stultifying world of 14-hour strategy sessions, endless business reviews and a preoccupation with PowerPoint slides; of laborious job evaluations, hundreds of e-mails a day and infighting among divisions so fierce that it hobbles design and delays product releases. In short, they describe precisely the behavior that humbled another tech giant: IBM

Not only did the Democrat Senators fail to hurt Roberts, . . .

Robert Novak details how they hurt their own credibility, and and handed Chuck Schumer "a crushing defeat in his campaign to establish a new standard for confirmation of Supreme Court nominees. Ever since George W. Bush's election, Schumer has been planning how to force nominees to take broad policy positions." Schumer had boldly claimed that Senators should ask pointed litmus-test questions and insist that nominees give them answers to them. He seemed to get away with it for a while, when Democrats in the Senate were willing to sustain a filibuster against nominees for lesser judgeships, but when it came to the Supreme Court, and he had to make a case for filibustering him as an extremist. Instead, he made his own party look like the extremists--trying to dictate legal decisions to the Supreme Court.
In response, the Democrats have so hardened their posture that a unanimous Judiciary Committee vote by them against Roberts is probable. In the full Senate, the most that Roberts can hope for is probably eight Democrats, or 63 total votes.

Schumer said at the beginning of the hearing he would accept Roberts as a "mainstream conservative" but not an "ideologue." Is Roberts more of an ideologue than Justice Antonin Scalia, who was confirmed with 98 votes? Is Roberts more of an ideologue than former American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) general counsel Ginsburg, who got 96 votes?

As unserious as Schumer is, the The New York Times is worse. Ignoring the obvious, it is still opposing Roberts's confirmation. Why bother with hearings if you're not going to consider what they demonstrate? More support for Noemie Emery's conviction that the Democrats have no future.

Barone suggests that Bush's plan is no Big New Deal

Michael Barone:
But despite the Great Society tone of his speech, he did not promise another Great Society. He proposed instead a Gulf Opportunity Zone -- presumably, a tax-free status to encourage investment. He called for Worker Recovery Accounts of up to $5,000 for job training, education and childcare. He proposed an Urban Homesteading Act on federal lands.
The problem with this is that he still plans to rebuild a city that shouldn't be where it was. Time will tell if this turns out only to be "a hand up, not a hand out."

Of course, Bush's foreign policy had nothing to do with this!

All Hail to China! Now we'll see how long this will last.

Relax. It's just Bill.

I think he's testing rhetorical stances for Hillary.

At least their Supreme Court didn't "appoint" a winner

Merkel finishes three seats ahead of Schroeder.
Germany now faces days and possibly weeks of uncertainty which could result in the two parties forming a coalition.
I won't be expecting German troops in Iraq any time soon. I spent two years there and I never did understand German politics, and it's vastly different there since reunification.

CNN lame?

I'm shocked, shocked, to read that Aaron Brown is a twit>. I'm only watching Brit Hume's program from now on!

New Orleans died for your sins. No.2

Do they have the word "Chutzpah in the South?
Governor Kathleen Blanco says if the state is forced to pay back the federal government more than 30 million dollars, the state’s children and sick will suffer. This week, FEMA officials sent a letter demanding back 30.4 million dollars back in misspent flood buyout money.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Hit em again, harder!

Manuel Miranda thinks Bush needs to nominate another Catholic to SCOTUS. One who's already been filibustered once.

I hate to break this to you

But cutting pork is not going to make up for the Katrina New Deal, let alone the rest of the deficits. The real money is in the entitlements. Social Security reform is dead, and I'm no longer hopeful that we will ever get federal spending under control. The question is how far we can continue without catastrophe.

Scriptures Bush needs to reread.

Matthew 7: 24-27:
¶ Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

If the point isn't clear, substitute "intelligent emergency preparedness recommendations" for "these sayings of mine."

Then there's Genesis 19:
And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.

And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.

And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.

And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord:

And he said unto him, Haste thee, escape . . .

Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;

And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.

But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

The Katrina Revolution

John Pohoretz re: "On what issue or issues (if any!) have you changed your mind in the last 10 years- and why?":
I learned one key political lesson from the calamitous confrontation in the fall of 1995 [when Republicans in the House of Representatives shut down the government], which is this: There is a huge divide in this country between people who follow politics closely, either as an avocation or a career, and the vast majority of Americans who don't. Following the seismic 1994 elections in which Republicans won 52 new seats and control of the House of Representatives for the first time in four decades--and in which the Senate went Republican as well--political people were sure that the balance of power in Washington had shifted decisively to Capitol Hill. The leading political figure in Washington was no longer the president, Bill Clinton. It was the new speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich was one of those political people, as were all the people around him and all the people in the Washington press corps. But what he and I and everybody but Bill Clinton seemed to realize was this: In 1992, Bill Clinton had received 45 million votes across America. In 1994, Newt Gingrich had received 119,000 votes in a single district in Georgia. Though Clinton had taken only 43 percent of the vote in that election, and was not a particularly strong president, in direct person-to-person combat against Newt Gingrich he had an incomparably stronger hand to play.

Presidents always do, because that's how the Constitution was structured. Just as the Founders intended, representatives in the House speak for local interests in Washington, while senators speak for state interests. The idea that executive power could be exercised from Capitol Hill was the great delusion that gripped Washington following the 1994 elections. It was hubristic and immodest, and Republican politicians had their hats handed to them in ways that reverberate still. (Seen government spending numbers lately?)
Gloomy, but if Bush's response to Katrina means anything, all too true.

Gingrich turned out to have been no more faithful in his marriage than Clinton was in his. At least, Republicans gave him the boot, so there's still some virtue left in the GOP, but he's back running for 2008. Bush, at least, is not a sex addict, but he doesn't seem to realize that Christianity is NOT the gospel of welfare spending and rebuilding Sodom after God destroys it. Embarrassed by the press's blaming of the mess on him, he finally seems to have lost his nerve. He should have stood up to them and accepted responsibility only for not making all the governors and mayors of major cities take a an emergency response competency test and bypassing the ones who would perform like Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin. He'd never have actually done that, but providing cover for them by pouring all the decreases in the deficit down a rat hole.

What happens if the Big One hits California next year or we have another hurricane season like this one? FDR did his work too well when he designed Social Security to be a program that makes everybody a dependent of the federal government to some degree. Despite what Conservatives and Libertarians tell you, that is now the rule of politics. You can cut taxes, but you'll never cut entitlements, unless you encourage more suicides among the elderly. Dystopia indeed.

You can rail against government pork all you want, but Republicans are no more immune from its logic than anybody else is. I don't believe libertarians will be either, if they ever get elected, because they'll never get re-elected without drinking the Koolaid.

Stephen Moore supports my point.

Yeah, I'm depressed. We've been corrupted more deeply than I had hoped. So much for the Reagan Revolution.