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calendar   Monday - September 05, 2005

Rewarding Failure?

Now that the National Guard and the US Military have arrived in New Orleans to restore order, the mayor of New Orleans is sending the entire police force to Las Vegas on paid vacation. On top of that, Mayor Nagin tried to get FEMA to pay for it ..

imageimageCity to Offer Free Trips to Las Vegas for Officers
(NEW YORK TIMES - SEPT. 5)

A day after two police suicides and the abrupt resignations or desertions of up to 200 police officers, defiant city officials on Sunday began offering five-day vacations - and even trips to Las Vegas - to the police, firefighters and city emergency workers and their families.

The idea of paid vacations was raised by both Mayor C. Ray Nagin and senior police officials who said that their forces were exhausted and traumatized and that the arrival of the National Guard had made way for the officers to be relieved.

“I’m very concerned about individuals who have been here, particularly since the first few days, and have been through a lot of hardship,” Mr. Nagin said in an interview.

He said most of the police officers, firefighters and emergency medical workers “are starting to show signs of very, very serious stress, and this is a way to give them time to reunite with their families.”

Mr. Nagin, who has been demanding more federal assistance for days as his city struggled with despair, death and flooding, said he had asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay for the trips but the agency said it could not. He said the city, therefore, would pay the costs.

He said he believed there were now enough National Guard members in the city to allow the police to take a break and still keep the city secure, and he brushed off questions about whether such a trip might look like a dereliction of duty.

“I’ll take the heat on that,” Mr. Nagin said. “We want to cater to them.”

Cater to them? After they dropped the ball on maintaining law and order and 20% of them just walked off the job?


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Posted by Ronald Reagan's Ghost   United States  on 09/05/2005 at 05:40 AM   
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calendar   Sunday - September 04, 2005

Moonbat Alert: Halliburton Conspiracy

So far, Liberals and Democrats (redundancy?) have been having fun playing the race card over Hurricane Katrina. This was to be expected. However, something has been missing and I finally found it at the New York Daily News (a prime example of fishwrap). Be sure to pass this along to the tinfoil-hat enthusiasts over at Democratic Underground and Daily Kos. They will have a field day with this one. It appears that Halliburton is going to make a profit on Katrina ..

imageimageHalliburton Subsidiary Gets Katrina Deal

A Halliburton Co. subsidiary that has come under fire for its reconstruction work in Iraq has begun tapping a $500 million Navy contract to do emergency repairs at Gulf Coast naval and Marine facilities that were battered by Hurricane Katrina. The subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown & Root Services Inc. of Arlington, Va., was awarded the competitive bid contract last July to provide debris removal and other emergency work associated with natural disasters.

Jan Davis, a spokeswoman for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, said Sunday that KBR will receive $12 million for work at Naval Air Station Pascagoula, Naval Station Gulfport and Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. It will receive $4.6 million for work at two smaller Navy facilities in New Orleans and others in the South.

The company has provided similar work after major disasters in the United States and abroad for more than 15 years, including in Florida after Hurricane Andrew. But KBR has been at the center of scrutiny for receiving a five-year, no-bid contract to restore Iraqi oil fields shortly before the war began in 2003.

Halliburton has reported being paid $10.7 billion for Iraq-related government work during 2003 and 2004. The company reported its pretax profits from that work as $163 million. Pentagon auditors have questioned tens of millions of dollars of Halliburton charges for its operations there. Late last month three congressional Democrats asked Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to investigate the demotion of a senior civilian Army official who publicly criticized the awarding of that contract.

Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, who had been the Army Corps of Engineers’ top procurement official since 1997, was removed from her position last month for what the Corps called a poor job performance. The lawmakers said the demotion “appears to be retaliation” for her June 27 testimony before Congress in which she detailed her objections to the award of contracts for Iraq projects.

Vice President Dick Cheney headed Halliburton from 1995 to 2000, and Democrats have questioned whether the company has gotten favorable treatment because of his connection.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Dick Cheney has the business connections, George Bush has the weather machine and Karl Rove has the Evil Master Plan to rule the world.

Everyone be prepared to don your tinfoil hats. This promises to be a Category 5 bull- shit storm.


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Posted by Ronald Reagan's Ghost   United States  on 09/04/2005 at 05:42 PM   
Filed Under: • Democrats-Liberals-Moonbat LeftistsStoopid-People •  
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Moonbat Alert: Liberal Idiocy From Maureen Dowd

I have prepared you for this post with those below from leading Conservative editorialists. Take the time to read this post and you will better understand the remarks and reactions from John Tierney, Rush Limbaugh, Pat Buchanan and Robert Tracinski below. Whereas they offer rational arguments, Ms. Dowd offers only lyrics from old rock songs and outdated cliches. She is also extremely adept at name-calling. That is why she is the poster-child for liberal idiocy, as demonstrated in her editorial today in the New York Times. Here, in her own words, is The Anti-American ....

imageimageUnited States of Shame

Stuff happens. And when you combine limited government with incompetent government, lethal stuff happens. America is once more plunged into a snake pit of anarchy, death, looting, raping, marauding thugs, suffering innocents, a shattered infrastructure, a gutted police force, insufficient troop levels and criminally negligent government planning. But this time it’s happening in America.

W. drove his budget-cutting Chevy to the levee, and it wasn’t dry. Bye, bye, American lives. “I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees,” he told Diane Sawyer. Shirt-sleeves rolled up, W. finally landed in Hell yesterday and chuckled about his wild boozing days in “the great city” of N’Awlins. He was clearly moved. “You know, I’m going to fly out of here in a minute,” he said on the runway at the New Orleans International Airport, “but I want you to know that I’m not going to forget what I’ve seen.” Out of the cameras’ range, and avoided by W., was a convoy of thousands of sick and dying people, some sprawled on the floor or dumped on baggage carousels at a makeshift M*A*S*H unit inside the terminal.

Why does this self-styled “can do” president always lapse into such lame “who could have known?” excuses. Who on earth could have known that Osama bin Laden wanted to attack us by flying planes into buildings? Any official who bothered to read the trellis of pre-9/11 intelligence briefs. Who on earth could have known that an American invasion of Iraq would spawn a brutal insurgency, terrorist recruiting boom and possible civil war? Any official who bothered to read the C.I.A.’s prewar reports. Who on earth could have known that New Orleans’s sinking levees were at risk from a strong hurricane? Anybody who bothered to read the endless warnings over the years about the Big Easy’s uneasy fishbowl.

In June 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, fretted to The Times-Picayune in New Orleans: “It appears that the money has been moved in the president’s budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that’s the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can’t be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.”

Not only was the money depleted by the Bush folly in Iraq; 30 percent of the National Guard and about half its equipment are in Iraq. Ron Fournier of The Associated Press reported that the Army Corps of Engineers asked for $105 million for hurricane and flood programs in New Orleans last year. The White House carved it to about $40 million. But President Bush and Congress agreed to a $286.4 billion pork-filled highway bill with 6,000 pet projects, including a $231 million bridge for a small, uninhabited Alaskan island.

Just last year, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials practiced how they would respond to a fake hurricane that caused floods and stranded New Orleans residents. Imagine the feeble FEMA’s response to Katrina if they had not prepared. Michael Brown, the blithering idiot in charge of FEMA - a job he trained for by running something called the International Arabian Horse Association - admitted he didn’t know until Thursday that there were 15,000 desperate, dehydrated, hungry, angry, dying victims of Katrina in the New Orleans Convention Center.

Was he sacked instantly? No, our tone-deaf president hailed him in Mobile, Ala., yesterday: “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.” It would be one thing if President Bush and his inner circle - Dick Cheney was vacationing in Wyoming; Condi Rice was shoe shopping at Ferragamo’s on Fifth Avenue and attended “Spamalot” before bloggers chased her back to Washington; and Andy Card was off in Maine - lacked empathy but could get the job done. But it is a chilling lack of empathy combined with a stunning lack of efficiency that could make this administration implode.

When the president and vice president rashly shook off our allies and our respect for international law to pursue a war built on lies, when they sanctioned torture, they shook the faith of the world in American ideals. When they were deaf for so long to the horrific misery and cries for help of the victims in New Orleans - most of them poor and black, like those stuck at the back of the evacuation line yesterday while 700 guests and employees of the Hyatt Hotel were bused out first - they shook the faith of all Americans in American ideals. And made us ashamed.

Who are we if we can’t take care of our own?

E-mail: liberties@nytimes.com

I believe Ms. Dowd’s last question above is answered quite well in the posts below. You may feel free to send an e-mail to Ms. Dowd at the e-mail address above if you wish. The First Amendment guarantees you the right to tell her precisely how you feel about her asinine proselytizing.


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Posted by Ronald Reagan's Ghost   United States  on 09/04/2005 at 01:43 PM   
Filed Under: • Democrats-Liberals-Moonbat LeftistsMedia-Bias •  
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John Tierney: Stop Taxpayer-Paid Insurance

imageimageBen Franklin Had the Right Idea for New Orleans

Why is New Orleans in so much worse shape today than New York City was after the attacks on Sept. 11? The short answer is that New York was attacked by fire, not water. But then why are urbanites so much better prepared to cope with fire than with flooding? Mostly because they learned to fight fire without any help from the Army Corps of Engineers or the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

For most of history, fire was far more feared than flooding. Cities repeatedly burned to the ground. Those catastrophes occurred sporadically enough that politicians must have been tempted to skimp on fire protection - like levee maintenance, it was a long-term investment against a calamity that probably wouldn’t occur before they left office. But urbanites learned to protect themselves through two innovations Benjamin Franklin introduced to America. He started a fire department in Philadelphia, as well as its first fire insurance company. Other cities followed, often with the firefighters organized by insurance companies with a vested interest in encouraging public safety.

Their customers had a vested interest, too, because they had to pay higher premiums if they lived in homes or neighborhoods that were prone to fire. As fire insurance became a standard requirement for homeowners, they and their insurance companies kept pressure on politicians to finance firefighting and tighten building codes. As a result, the risk of a fire leveling a city like New York is lower than ever. Although the number of fires has dropped so much that experts routinely advise cities to close firehouses, voters’ fondness for the stations makes local politicians loath to close any.

But as we’ve learned this week, few people seem to care passionately about maintaining levees or preparing for a predictable flood. They’ve left that to Washington, which promised to hold back the waters and absolved coastal dwellers from worrying about hurricanes. Starting in the 1960’s, the federal government took over the business of insuring against floods. It offered subsidized insurance to people in flood-prone areas, encouraging seaside homes that never would have been built otherwise. Even at bargain rates, most people went without flood insurance - only about a third of the homes in New Orleans carried it.

People don’t bother to protect themselves because they figure - correctly - that if disaster strikes they’ll be reimbursed anyway by FEMA. It gives out money so freely that it has grown into one of the great vote-buying tools of the modern presidency. Bill Clinton set a record for declaring disasters, and then President Bush set the single-state spending record in Florida before last year’s election. Now it’s New Orleans’s turn. Since Washington didn’t keep its promise to protect the city, the federal government should repair the damage and pay for a new flood-control system. But New Orleans and other coastal cities will never be safe if they go on relying on Washington for protection. Members of Congress will always have higher priorities than paying for levees in someone else’s state.

The federal government has a role in coordinating flood control among states and in organizing outside disaster relief, but the locals should fight floods much the same way they fight fires. Fifteenth-century Dutch burghers didn’t have the financial or technological resources of today’s Louisianians, but they managed to hold back the sea without the Army Corps of Engineers. Here’s the bargain I’d offer New Orleans: the feds will spend the billions for your new levees, but then you’re on your own. You and others along the coast have to buy flood insurance the same way we all buy fire insurance - from private companies that have more at stake than do Washington bureaucrats. Private flood insurance has come to seem quaint in America, but in Britain it’s the norm. If Americans paid premiums for living in risky areas, they’d think twice about building oceanfront villas. Voters and insurance companies would put pressure on local politicians to take care of the levees, prepare for the worst - and stop waiting for that bumbling white knight from Washington.

Email: tierney@nytimes.com

Text of this article at the New York Times (registration required - free).


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Posted by Ronald Reagan's Ghost   United States  on 09/04/2005 at 01:22 PM   
Filed Under: • Editorials •  
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Rush Weighs In

imageimageIt’s Ideological, Not Racial

The subject here is the media—well, the far-left fringe and their looking at what’s happening in New Orleans as a “holocaust of the black people.” Some Democrat websites are now referring to this as a holocaust—and, of course, you know, holocausts, those are manmade. Holocausts are caused by man. It’s almost like saying it’s a genocide here, and they’re asking, “Why doesn’t the mainstream press talk about this?” This piece by Jack Shafer at Slate.com. He wants to know why the media does not have the guts to talk about the fact that race and class are really what’s on display here, that all the people hurt are black and they’re poor. “I don’t recall any reporter exploring the class issue directly by getting a paycheck-to-paycheck victim to explain that he couldn’t risk leaving because if he lost his furniture and appliances, his pots and pans, his bedding and clothes, to Katrina or looters, he’d have no way to replace them. No insurance, no stable, large extended family that could lend him cash to get back on his feet, no middle-class job to return to after the storm.”

Okay, Mr. Shafer, who runs the city? The 67% black population has elected a black mayor for years. See, the thing that gets me about this is he sees all these things that I don’t see. He’s looking to be critical in the area of race. He doesn’t see human misery; he sees black misery. There’s plenty of human misery. The people that we’re not seeing on TV are as miserable in their own way as these people are, and these people continually say that it’s others other than them who are racist, but they’re the ones who constantly notice first who somebody is or what somebody’s skin color is or what their gender is. They claim to be clean and pure as the wind-driven snow in all this, and yet they’re the ones that first notice all these differences among us, and then they take what they’ve noticed and transfer the notice to people that have not made a big deal out of it and call them racists. Or in this case, they’re just scared. They don’t have the guts to bring it up. Well, race in this circumstance, folks, is a poisonous weapon, and it’s why the liberals are now gravitating to it. They’re blaming the media for not having the guts to mention race here which is the attempt to get them to open up and take the lead on how this is an unfairly damaging circumstance to people of color. The mayor is black; over half the city is black. That’s nobody’s fault. It’s statistical given that the crime will be committed by the residents, the majority of which are black. That’s not arguable. When 100,000 people, so said, remain and they’re all black and the looters come from those who remain, how can it be any other way?

I don’t get the point. I mean, it’s just more liberal hand-wringing from an age-old page of their playbook. What they’re doing right now, folks, with this Mr. Shafer piece begging, cajoling the mainstream press to pick up on this, they’re arguing among themselves at this point. Even David Brooks, New York Times, the last line in his column today, “Take a close look at the people you see wandering devastated around New Orleans: they are predominantly black and poor. The political disturbances are still to come.” Everybody got wiped out in New Orleans, folks. What the hell is this? Everybody got wiped out! Everybody’s wiped out, yet they still try to outdo one way or another, milking the anguish, hoping someone notices. It’s the cheapest and darkest side of journalism because, as I said, they are attempting to indict our society. What I see down there, contrary to what Mr. Shafer sees, I see people of all races help each other. I see people of all religions trying to help each other. I see all kinds of businesses gathering and trying to help each other. But here’s the bottom line. The New York Times and all these liberal elites, they are the least capable of understanding the American character at a time like this, my friends—and it also demonstrates what little they bring to the table in our society. What good is a story on all of this now? There is human suffering, and there are efforts to alleviate it as quickly as possible. People of color are not being left behind while others are being chosen and placed in front of the line. The rescuers know no difference. They are all colors. They are all sexes. They are all religions.

So we’ve got armchair quarterbacks who never offer solutions, who only complain and whine, now trying to drive a further wedge between all of us, in an attempt to indict the American society and the American culture. “We are no good. We stink because we are a racist culture.” Not all, but most of the organizations on the ground are religious. The others are military. I have seen American flags hanging from trees and from rooftops. This is just obscene for this kind of attention to be drawn to this now. The volunteers, the military, law enforcement, politicians of both parties are not doing everything possible to address this disaster because all these people are racists, is that what we’re to believe? All of these suffering black people that you see are being allowed to suffer because all of the people involved in helping them are racists? Is that the suggestion? They were allowed to suffer in the first place because somebody’s racist and they don’t earn enough money and don’t have cars and can’t get out, somebody else has to be racist in order for this circumstance to exist? Is the suggestion that millions and millions and millions of dollars are not being poured into this region now because the people there are black? I see all kinds of relief efforts going on. I see the US military there. Is the US military racist as well? You see, my friends, this is the liberal mind-set. I look at this and I see a nation once again as we were after 9/11 rallying to the aid of our fellow citizens and doing it the best we can, given the limitations we face. The armchair critics in the media—some on our side, too, but mostly on the left—can’t help but revert to see this country from 1800 to 1964, and do their best to indict this whole country as no good and racist, and wonder why the US media isn’t on that case.

Read the full transcript at RushLimbaugh.Com.


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Posted by Ronald Reagan's Ghost   United States  on 09/04/2005 at 12:54 PM   
Filed Under: • Democrats-Liberals-Moonbat Leftists •  
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Blogging From New Orleans

image


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Posted by Ronald Reagan's Ghost   United States  on 09/04/2005 at 11:50 AM   
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Man-Made Disaster: The Welfare State

Excerpt from ”An Unnatural Disaster: A Hurricane Exposes the Man-Made Disaster of the Welfare State” by Robert Tracinski ....

imageimageFor the past few days, I have found the news from New Orleans to be confusing. People were not behaving as you would expect them to behave in an emergency--indeed, they were not behaving as they have behaved in other emergencies. That is what has shocked so many people: they have been saying that this is not what we expect from America. In fact, it is not even what we expect from a Third World country.

When confronted with a disaster, people usually rise to the occasion. They work together to rescue people in danger, and they spontaneously organize to keep order and solve problems. This is especially true in America. We are an enterprising people, used to relying on our own initiative rather than waiting around for the government to take care of us. I have seen this a hundred times, in small examples (a small town whose main traffic light had gone out, causing ordinary citizens to get out of their cars and serve as impromptu traffic cops, directing cars through the intersection) and large ones (the spontaneous response of New Yorkers to September 11).

So what explains the chaos in New Orleans?What explains bands of thugs using a natural disaster as an excuse for an orgy of looting, armed robbery, and rape? What causes unruly mobs to storm the very buses that have arrived to evacuate them, causing the drivers to drive away, frightened for their lives? What causes people to attack the doctors trying to treat patients at the Super Dome? Why are people responding to natural destruction by causing further destruction? Why are they attacking the people who are trying to help them?

My wife, Sherri, figured it out first, and she figured it out on a sense-of-life level. While watching the coverage last night on Fox News Channel, she told me that she was getting a familiar feeling. She studied architecture at the Illinois Institute of Chicago, which is located in the South Side of Chicago just blocks away from the Robert Taylor Homes, one of the largest high-rise public housing projects in America. “The projects,” as they were known, were infamous for uncontrollable crime and irremediable squalor. (They have since, mercifully, been demolished.)

What Sherri was getting from last night’s television coverage was a whiff of the sense of life of “the projects.” Then the “crawl"--the informational phrases flashed at the bottom of the screen on most news channels--gave some vital statistics to confirm this sense: 75% of the residents of New Orleans had already evacuated before the hurricane, and of the 300,000 or so who remained, a large number were from the city’s public housing projects. Jack Wakeland then gave me an additional, crucial fact: early reports from CNN and Fox indicated that the city had no plan for evacuating all of the prisoners in the city’s jails--so they just let many of them loose. There is no doubt a significant overlap between these two populations--that is, a large number of people in the jails used to live in the housing projects, and vice versa.

There were many decent, innocent people trapped in New Orleans when the deluge hit--but they were trapped alongside large numbers of people from two groups: criminals--and wards of the welfare state, people selected, over decades, for their lack of initiative and self-induced helplessness. The welfare wards were a mass of sheep--on whom the incompetent administration of New Orleans unleashed a pack of wolves.

All of this is related, incidentally, to the apparent incompetence of the city government, which failed to plan for a total evacuation of the city, despite the knowledge that this might be necessary. But in a city corrupted by the welfare state, the job of city officials is to ensure the flow of handouts to welfare recipients and patronage to political supporters--not to ensure a lawful, orderly evacuation in case of emergency.

No one has really reported this story, as far as I can tell. In fact, some are already actively distorting it, blaming President Bush, for example, for failing to personally ensure that the Mayor of New Orleans had drafted an adequate evacuation plan. The worst example is an execrable piece from the Toronto Globe and Mail, by a supercilious Canadian who blames the chaos on American “individualism.” But the truth is precisely the opposite: the chaos was caused by a system that was the exact opposite of individualism.

What Hurricane Katrina exposed was the psychological consequences of the welfare state. What we consider “normal” behavior in an emergency is behavior that is normal for people who have values and take the responsibility to pursue and protect them. People with values respond to a disaster by fighting against it and doing whatever it takes to overcome the difficulties they face. They don’t sit around and complain that the government hasn’t taken care of them. They don’t use the chaos of a disaster as an opportunity to prey on their fellow men.

But what about criminals and welfare parasites? Do they worry about saving their houses and property? They don’t, because they don’t own anything. Do they worry about what is going to happen to their businesses or how they are going to make a living? They never worried about those things before. Do they worry about crime and looting? But living off of stolen wealth is a way of life for them. The welfare state--and the brutish, uncivilized mentality it sustains and encourages--is the man-made disaster that explains the moral ugliness that has swamped New Orleans. And that is the story that no one is reporting.


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Posted by Ronald Reagan's Ghost   United States  on 09/04/2005 at 08:36 AM   
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The Blame Game Begins

imageimage Who Lost New Orleans?
by Patrick J. Buchanan

Even the disasters and tragedies that at first unite us in grief or anger – Pearl Harbor, 9-11 – end up dividing us. New Orleans will be no exception. Books are yet being written on how Kimmel and Short, the commanders at Pearl, were scapegoated. Had we not broken the Japanese code? Did not FDR know by decoded intercepts the night of Dec. 6 that Tokyo had terminated talks and this meant war? Why was Gen. Marshall horseback riding the morning of Dec. 7, as aides frantically searched for him to alert Pearl?

Despite the 9-11 commission report, questions remain about the warnings received and advance knowledge President Bush had or should have had about what was coming. With the Katrina disaster, however, we are not going to have to wait months for the accusations and recriminations. They have already begun, and will poison our politics for years. Even as the hurricane was coming ashore, Robert Kennedy Jr. was attacking Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour for his role “in derailing the Kyoto Protocol and kiboshing President Bush’s iron-clad campaign promise to regulate CO2.”

Because of “Barbour and his cronies,” wrote Kennedy, “we are all learning what it’s like to reap the whirlwind of fossil fuel dependence. ... Our destructive addiction has given us a catastrophic war in the Middle East and – now – Katrina is giving our nation a glimpse of the climate chaos we are bequeathing our children.”

Kennedy was seconded by Germany’s environmental minister, Jurgen Tritten, who mounted his hobby horse – the hurricane was the result of the global warming Bush has ignored – and rode, rode, rode. Columnist James Glassman tore into these twin distortions of reality and exploitations of disaster. But the RFK-Tritten attack was ineffectual. No rational American is going to believe that, had Bush signed Kyoto, New Orleans would not be underwater. It is on the more serious matters that rancorous argument is about to begin, and deep divisions are about to be driven into our society.

First, it seems self-evident that those in the path of the storm who had the least suffered the most. Those who had no way out were left behind, and hundreds, perhaps thousands, perished. From TV pictures of the 20,000 crammed into the Superdome and the hundreds hauled off rooftops, most of them, it appears, were African-American. Conversely, TV footage of looters happily at work – taking not just food and water, but jewelry, guns, electronics and booze – reveals them, too, to be disproportionately African-American.

As demands arise that the National Guard and Army shoot looters to end the anarchy, the race demagogues will go to work. For if that orgy of rioting, looting, shooting and racial assaults on Korean and white Americans that was the Los Angeles riot of ‘92 can be excused by apologists as a justified reaction to the Simi Valley jury’s refusal to convict the cops who whaled on Rodney King, assuredly raucous voices will be raised in defense of the New Orleans looters.

But ultimately, the attacks will come around to a single target, President Bush, and they will run along these lines:

First, he was out of touch in Crawford, not alert to what was coming – and, indeed, photographed fooling with a guitar the day the storm hit. Second, despite the investment of scores of billions, the Gulf Coast, on his watch, was unprepared for a Category 4 hurricane. Third, when the need arose for the Louisiana and Mississippi National Guard to save the poor of those states, and defend lives and property after the storm, 7,000 Guardsmen were not on the Gulf of Mexico, but in the Persian Gulf.

Bush’s priorities are about to be challenged, and Katrina will turn America’s eyes inward, even as the crisis on the Mexican border is turning America’s attention away from the Syrian border. The antiwar movement has a new argument: What in Iraq is more important than Mississippi and Louisiana? As the cost of the disaster mounts, the questions will tumble, one upon the other: Can we afford both Iraq and resurrecting New Orleans and the Gulf? Which comes first? As the Gulf poor have lost most, ought not taxes be raised on the rich to pay for both?

Finally and critically, there is the question of why the levees broke and New Orleans was inundated, lost for years if not forever. As of Monday, the city had been spared. The French Quarter was dry. Then came the deluge. And there are print and TV allegations that funds allocated to strengthen the levees were diverted or cut by the Bush administration. Soon, we will be hearing and reading of recommendations by some officials that the levees be strengthened, and of decisions by other officials that the money be used on something else.

The scapegoating has begun. It will be deadly serious. The stakes are the highest. The ultimate objective will be to break the Bush presidency. Katrina and “Who Lost New Orleans?” will be as pivotal to Bush’s second term as 9-11 was to his first.


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Posted by Ronald Reagan's Ghost   United States  on 09/04/2005 at 08:03 AM   
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Obituary

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist
1924-2005

imageimageWASHINGTON (AP)—Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died Saturday evening of cancer, ending a 33-year Supreme Court career during which he oversaw the court’s conservative shift, presided over an impeachment trial and helped decide a presidential election. His death creates a rare second vacancy on the nation’s highest court.

Rehnquist, 80, was surrounded by his three children when he died at his home in suburban Arlington. His wife died in 1991. “The Chief Justice battled thyroid cancer since being diagnosed last October and continued to perform his duties on the court until a precipitous decline in his health the last couple of days,” said court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg.

Rehnquist was appointed to the Supreme Court as an associate justice in 1971 by President Nixon and took his seat on Jan. 7, 1972. He was elevated to chief justice by President Reagan in 1986. The death leaves President Bush with his second court opening within four months and sets up what’s expected to be an even more bruising Senate confirmation battle than that of John Roberts.

It was not immediately clear what impact Rehnquist’s death would have on confirmation hearings for Roberts, scheduled to begin Tuesday. The last time there were simultaneous vacancies at the court was 1971, when Justices Hugo Black and John Marshall Harlan retired in September, about a week apart. Rehnquist, then a Justice Department lawyer, urged the Nixon administration to move fast in replacing them and wound up being appointed to Harlan’s seat himself.

Rehnquist presided over President Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999, helped settle the 2000 presidential election in Bush’s favor, and fashioned decisions over the years that diluted the powers of the federal government while strengthening those of the states. Arberg said plans regarding funeral arrangements would be forthcoming.

Bush was notified of Rehnquist’s death shortly before 11 p.m. EDT. “President Bush and Mrs. Bush are deeply saddened by the news,” said White House counselor Dan Bartlett. “It’s a tremendous loss for our nation.” The president was expected to make a personal statement about Rehnquist on Sunday.

The chief justice passed up a chance to step down over the summer, which would have given the Senate a chance to confirm his successor while the court was out of session, and instead Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced her retirement to spend time with her ill husband. Bush chose Roberts, a former Rehnquist clerk and friend, to replace O’Connor.

Rehnquist said on July 14 that he wanted to stay on the bench as long as his health would allow. The president could elevate to chief justice one of the court’s conservatives, such as Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas, but it’s more likely he will choose someone from outside the court.

Possible replacements include Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and federal courts of appeals judges J. Michael Luttig, Edith Clement, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Michael McConnell, Emilio Garza, and James Harvie Wilkinson III. Others mentioned are former Solicitor General Theodore Olson, lawyer Miguel Estrada and former deputy attorney general Larry Thompson.


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Posted by Ronald Reagan's Ghost   United States  on 09/04/2005 at 02:39 AM   
Filed Under: • Judges-Courts-Lawyers •  
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calendar   Saturday - September 03, 2005

Give!

I have agreed to run a pro bono ad for the next few weeks for Mercy Corps. See link in the right sidebar. I have checked out Mercy Corps and they do good work. Plus they spend 92 cents of every dollar on actual aid.

I have begged in the past for donations from you folks to help support this blog and you always came through like champions. Now I am begging for someone else. Please click over there and donate what you can spare. If not, go to the Salvation Army’s web site. I’ll try to list some other decent organizations to help send aid to the stricken Gulf Coast region. If any of you have links, throw them at me in the comments. I’ll post them up front here.

God bless you all! Thanks!

From Revandryn: There is a site dedicated to monitoring charities and they keep information on how money is spent. Go to http://www.guidestar.org (registration - free - required) to get the best information on where to send donations.

Skipper Update From Tupelo, MS On A Freakin’ Dial-Up Line:



Instapundit List Of Bloggers & Charities


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 09/03/2005 at 04:27 AM   
Filed Under: • Patriotism •  
Comments (3) Trackbacks(0)  Permalink •  

calendar   Friday - September 02, 2005

Leave Of Absence

Several months ago I started making plans to attend a family reunion. My family only holds these “get-togethers” every five years or so. The party was scheduled for Sunday, September 4 in a little town just South of Montgomery, Alabama. I scheduled vacation time for the Labor Day weekend. The majority of my extended family would be coming in from all over Alabama, Mississippi and the Florida panhandle with a few flying in from all over the country .... like myself.

This year’s reunion has been cancelled. We all have more important things to do right now.

I had hoped to make an announcement today that I would be temporarily vacating the blog for the next week for some much needed rest and a chance to go back “down home”. Instead, I am choked up and emotionally drained. Two of my former co-workers in Mississippi are missing and presumed dead. Over a dozen of my family members are stuck in motels from Tallahassee to Birmingham.

I woke up this morning on the first day of my scheduled “vacation” with a decision to make. I have posted what I could while pondering what to do. I have finally decided that I am not where I need to be right now.

I am turning over the blog to Frank for the next week. Take advantage of the forums and talk over the issues of each day as best you can. Frank will try to keep you updated with breaking news and opinions. He’s a good guy who also has to work a full-time job so don’t hassle him.

Compare notes on the tragedy, help get information out to those who are in the dark, donate and press others to do so, say a prayer or two for the dead and dying, even if you don’t believe in a deity.

Most importantly, keep your heads straight and your hearts in the right place. If you do, everything will turn out alright. I promise.

In an hour or so, I’ll be headed South on I-55 toward Memphis and from there on to Tupelo and points further South. I’ll be back in a week or so. For right now though, I have work to do. Y’all take care of yourselves. God bless.


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 09/02/2005 at 08:13 AM   
Filed Under: • Personal •  
Comments (16) Trackbacks(0)  Permalink •  

Urban Warfare

Approximately 20% of the New Orleans police force have walked off the job, claiming it is too dangerous in the streets. A sniper has been firing at rescuers who have been attempting to evacuate patients at Charity Hospital downtown. Over 4,000 combat-ready military police, armed with M-16’s are starting to arrive this morning at Louis B. Armstrong airport in New Orleans. Here is the rest of the story ....

imageimage(CNN)—A fearful Friday has arrived in lawless New Orleans, with police snipers stationed on the roof of their precinct, trying to protect it from the armed thugs roaming seemingly at will through the flood-ravaged city. The surreal scene comes amid wretched chaos, with incredible scenes of desperation for those people still marooned in the city more than three days after Hurricane Katrina struck a deadly and devastating blow.

Adding to the uncertainty Friday morning was a large explosion in the city’s railroad district, possibly from a rail car.Authorities were trying to get a hazardous materials team to the area, a police officer told CNN. The officer said he believed the team could reach the area by vehicle since the water there had receded. He said he believed “several cars blew up,” but it was not known what they were carrying. No other details were immediately available.

Earlier, police officers told CNN that some of their fellow officers had simply stopped showing up for duty, cutting manpower by 20 percent or more in some precincts. Before Thursday night fell, police were stopping anyone they saw on the street and warning them that they were not safe from armed bands of young men who were attacking people and attempting to rape women. A fed-up Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco warned the lawbreakers that extra troops have already arrived in the city, and others are on the way—and “they’re locked and loaded.” She said Thursday night that 300 soldiers from the Arkansas National Guard had arrived—“fresh back from Iraq.”

An effort to evacuate patients and staff from downtown’s Charity Hospital had to be suspended after a sniper opened fire on rescuers. The hospital was caring for about 200 patients with no power or water, and the only food left was a couple of cans of vegetables and some graham crackers, according to a doctor at the scene. Sgt. Mark Mix of the Louisiana State Police told CNN late Thursday that a force of police officers would be arriving in New Orleans soon to beef up the law-and-order effort.

Mix said the officers would be coming from Texas, Arkansas, Kentucky, and even Michigan to join with Louisiana law authorities in bringing order to the streets. “The state of civil unrest is probably going to come to an abrupt end in the very near future,” Mix said.

Trying to quell the violence and chaos, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Thursday that 4,200 National Guard troops trained as military police will be deployed in New Orleans over the next three days, which he said would quadruple the law enforcement presence in the city. The first contingent of 100 military police officers arrived at Louis Armstrong International Airport late Thursday—combat-ready for immediate deployment in New Orleans.

At last report, conditions in Baghdad were safer than in New Orleans.

image


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 09/02/2005 at 06:11 AM   
Filed Under: • Outrageous •  
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Most Ridiculous Item Of The Day

Did you know that there is a 200 ton houseboat blocking 18% of our nation’s much-needed oil from getting in? No, I am not making this up. It’s too ridiculous to be fiction ....

(WASHINGTON POST)—PORT FOURCHON, La., Sept. 1—At 4:30 a.m. yesterday, Davie J. Breaux had a big problem. A really big one. Breaux is director of operations at Port Fourchon, a facility at the southernmost tip of Louisiana that provides key support for offshore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. In normal times, about 1,000 tractor-trailers reach the port each day via a two-lane road, hauling in goods and equipment critical to the import of about 18 percent of the U.S. oil supply.

But no trucks are coming through. The oil rigs are not running. Electricity is out. And Breaux’s big problem today: Blocking that key road is a 200-ton houseboat blown by Hurricane Katrina some 200 feet out of the water. The repairs Breaux and his crew must undertake are a prime example of what must be done to bring the U.S. oil supply closer to full capacity.

So Breaux, 46, whose grandfather and father each worked 30 years for Texaco on offshore rigs near Port Fourchon, came up with a solution: soap. His plan was to put five gallons of liquid soap on wooden boards, slide them under the houseboat, and use five or six large cranes to swing the front of the 100-foot-long barge to the side of the road. “Apparently everybody thinks I’m crazy,” Breaux said after one of his workers chuckled at his idea and reminded him of how heavy the barge is.

Wait. Don’t soap the boat down, the owner insisted after Breaux explained his plan. His insurance adjuster was on his way, and he wanted to hear ideas on how to move the hunk of metal. “I ain’t slept in two damn days trying to figure out how to move that bitch,” the owner said.

Barely an hour later, as Breaux went around and checked on his crews of workers—some of whom were prisoners from the local jail on work release to help clean up sand and marsh grass and pull boats upright—he got a call from the owner. Solution found—if Breaux and Falgout would agree, that is.

The insurance adjuster said he would have the boat moved using cranes in the next two to three days. A crew would tear out the wet wood on the inside and do a controlled burn. The only problem: A special burn permit would be necessary; port officials get nervous with fire around so many oil storage containers. The insurance company said it would then take the boat apart and turn it into scrap metal—a boat that at one time could sleep 50 people and was worth about $1.5 million, according to the owner.

I want to personally thank the insurance companies and the enviro-weenies for that $65 tank of gas I bought yesterday.


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 09/02/2005 at 05:48 AM   
Filed Under: • Insanity •  
Comments (13) Trackbacks(0)  Permalink •  

Hell Will Freeze Over First

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Scott Stantis, Alabama, The Birmingham News


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 09/02/2005 at 05:44 AM   
Filed Under: • International •  
Comments (6) Trackbacks(0)  Permalink •  
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
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It's been a long strange trip without you Skipper, but thanks for pointing us in the right direction and giving us a swift kick in the behind to get us going. Keep lookin' down on us, will ya? Thanks.

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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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