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Friday, September 30, 2005

Behold, the slippery slope in action. (Hat tip to The Brussels Journal.)
The Netherlands and Belgium were the first countries to give full marriage rights to homosexuals. In the United States some politicians propose “civil unions” that give homosexual couples the full benefits and responsibilities of marriage. These civil unions differ from marriage only in name.

Meanwhile in the Netherlands polygamy has been legalised in all but name. Last Friday the first civil union of three partners was registered. Victor de Bruijn (46) from Roosendaal “married” both Bianca (31) and Mirjam (35) in a ceremony before a notary who duly registered their civil union.

Yes, I understand that "slippery slope" arguments can be ... slippery. It's easy to make them, but harder to prove that they're happening. Well, this story is that proof. First same-sex marriage, then civil unions, and from civil unions you can go literally anywhere. Quoth the groom:
Victor: “A marriage between three persons is not possible in the Netherlands, but a civil union is. We went to the notary in our marriage costume and exchanged rings. We consider this to be just an ordinary marriage.”

Next stop, normalized polygamy. That's not some dire prediction. That's what is happening and will happen if we don't hold the line somewhere. I've heard those who suggest that they're for same-sex marriage but not anything further. But this story proves that, having opened the door a crack to let in just one person, a whole multitude stands ready to take advantage of the breach. You can call those who wanted the door to stay closed all sorts of names--prudish, intolerant, homophobic, narrow-minded--but regardless of how accurate or inaccurate those names are, when it comes down to what was predicted would happen, you can also call them "correct".

Will that change the minds of those pushing for civil unions here? For most, I have my doubts, although I have no doubt that they'll be shocked--SHOCKED--when the first trio get married here. "I had no idea" will be no excuse.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out, Blogger News Network and Comments welcome.)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Via's RedHot comes a pointer to a Hugh Hewitt blog post. Hugh first notes the LA Times article on the awful coverage filled with rumor and unsubstantiated report (which we at SCO have covered here and here). Then comes the knockout punch:
Given this failure to capture the true story in New Orleans even with all of the combined resources of all the MSM working around the clock, why would anyone believe that American media is accurately reporting on the events in Iraq from the Green Zone, in the course of a bloody insurgency fought in a language they don't understand? If the combined forces of old media couldn't get one accurate story out of the convention center, why for a moment believe it can get a story out of Mosul or Najaf?

Good question.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

It's pledge week (month? year?) at Air America Radio. Is this the writing on the wall (or website)?

Remember the ad showing a walking Christopher Reeve? Remember John Edwards saying that someday folks in wheelchairs would be able to get up and walk? Both were extolling the virtues of embryonic stem cell research. Turns out that adult stem cell research, which doesn't require the destruction of embryos and has none of the ethical issues, is on its way to fulfilling that promise.
In an apparent major breakthrough, scientists in Korea report using umbilical cord blood stem cells to restore feeling and mobility to a spinal-cord injury patient.

The research, published in the peer-reviewed journal Cythotherapy, centered on a woman who had been a paraplegic 19 years due to an accident.

After an infusion of umbilical cord blood stem cells, stunning results were recorded:

"The patient could move her hips and feel her hip skin on day 15 after transplantation. On day 25 after transplantation her feet responded to stimulation."

Umbilical cord cells are considered "adult stem cells," in contrast to embryonic stem cells, which have raised ethical concerns because a human embryo must be destroyed in order to harvest them.

The report said motor activity was noticed on day 7, and the woman was able to maintain an upright position on day 13. Fifteen days after surgery, she began to elevate both lower legs about one centimeter.

The study's abstract says not only did the patient regain feeling, but 41 days after stem cell transplantation, testing "also showed regeneration of the spinal cord at the injured cite" and below it.

The scientists conclude the transplantation "could be a good treatment method" for paraplegic patients.

The article notes that this is still very preliminary ("one patient does not a treatment make" cautions a bioethicist), but this is very exciting.

Well, to me it is, at least. A search for just the journal name on Google New today returns only this article and the article it refers to. If this had been done with embryonic stem cells, the media would be all over this, with quotes from John Edwards and Ron Reagan for starters (the latter of which just needs to open his mouth on the subject to get major coverage). Let's hope they come around, but hold not thy breath.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out and Blogger News Network. Comments welcome.)

Homespun Bloggers Radio (which I host, produce and distribute) now has a new distribution channel; Podcasting! You can click here for the subscription URL for your podcast software, or it's always available at the main Homespun Bloggers site (click on the Podcast graphic below the Homespun Bloggers Radio button).

If you haven't listened in yet, and you have software to receive podcasts, you can catch up, as all 9 programs are available.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Al-Qaeda is on the air.
An Internet video newscast called the Voice of the Caliphate was broadcast for the first time on Monday, purporting to be a production of al Qaeda and featuring an anchorman who wore a black ski mask and an ammunition belt.

...just in case a sudden snowstorm was to move in, and he had to shoot his way out of it.
The anchorman, who said the report would appear once a week, presented news about the Gaza Strip and Iraq and expressed happiness about recent hurricanes in the United States. A copy of the Koran, the Muslim holy book, was placed by his right hand and a rifle affixed to a tripod was pointed at the camera.

If you have to threaten your own cameraman with death, shouldn't that tell you something?

Ever play the Rumor game, where you whisper one thing to someone, and by the time it gets around the room it's quite different? Well, looks like politicians and news organizations have been playing it in New Orleans.
Maj. Ed Bush recalled how he stood in the bed of a pickup truck in the days after Hurricane Katrina, struggling to help the crowd outside the Louisiana Superdome separate fact from fiction. Armed only with a megaphone and scant information, he might have been shouting into, well, a hurricane.

The National Guard spokesman's accounts about rescue efforts, water supplies and first aid all but disappeared amid the roar of a 24-hour rumor mill at New Orleans' main evacuation shelter. Then a frenzied media recycled and amplified many of the unverified reports.

"It just morphed into this mythical place where the most unthinkable deeds were being done," Bush said Monday of the Superdome.

It started in New Orleans proper, and then, via the magic of modern communications, went worldwide.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune on Monday described inflated body counts, unverified "rapes," and unconfirmed sniper attacks as among examples of "scores of myths about the dome and Convention Center treated as fact by evacuees, the media and even some of New Orleans' top officials."

Indeed, Mayor C. Ray Nagin told a national television audience on "Oprah" three weeks ago of people "in that frickin' Superdome for five days watching dead bodies, watching hooligans killing people, raping people."

The article mentions Fox and the NY & LA Times in the US, then the Ottawa Sun in Canada and the Evening Standard in England. These are but examples of a news cycle that continued to feed on itself. Some believe race may have played a factor.
Times-Picayune Editor Jim Amoss cited telephone breakdowns as a primary cause of reporting errors, but said the fact that most evacuees were poor African Americans also played a part.

"If the dome and Convention Center had harbored large numbers of middle class white people," Amoss said, "it would not have been a fertile ground for this kind of rumor-mongering."

While the media shares in the blame, it certainly didn't help that politicians were feeding the machine.
Some of the hesitation that journalists might have had about using the more sordid reports from the evacuation centers probably fell away when New Orleans' top officials seemed to confirm the accounts.

Nagin and Police Chief Eddie Compass appeared on "Oprah" a few days after trouble at the Superdome had peaked.

Compass told of "the little babies getting raped" at the Superdome. And Nagin made his claim about hooligans raping and killing.

All of these folks--politician and reporter alike--are supposed to be a bit more sober and careful about this. In this day of the 24-hour news cycle, getting this hour's scoop is making the media sound more and more like the National Enquirer as they try to outdo each other. But what are the politicians' excuses? Are they bucking for more money, or just looking for sympathy? It may sound like you care when you complain about how children are mistreated, but when you're just passing around unsubstantiated rumors, that's not compassionate; it's irresponsible. The actual facts were less sensational.
State officials this week said their counts of the dead at the city's two largest evacuation points fell far short of early rumors and news reports. Ten bodies were recovered from the Superdome and four from the Convention Center, said Bob Johannessen, spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

(National Guard officials put the body count at the Superdome at six, saying the other four bodies came from the area around the stadium.)

Of the 841 recorded hurricane-related deaths in Louisiana, four are identified as gunshot victims, Johannessen said. One victim was found in the Superdome but was believed to have been brought there, and one was found at the Convention Center, he added.

And frankly, there's plenty of actual suffering resulting from Katrina that doesn't require embellishing, while also unreported was much of the good news and good work going on.
Relief workers said that while the media hyped criminal activity, plenty of real suffering did occur at the Katrina relief centers.

"The hurricane had just passed, you had massive trauma to the city," said Lt. Col. Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard.

"No air conditioning, no sewage … it was not a nice place to be. All those people just in there, they were frustrated, they were hot. Out of all that chaos, all of these rumors start flying."

Louisiana National Guard Col. Thomas Beron, who headed security at the Superdome, said that for every complaint, "49 other people said, 'Thank you, God bless you.' "

All this hype and frenzy took its toll on the rescue effort as well. Irresponsible words have consequences.
Bush, of the National Guard, said that reports of corpses at the Superdome filtered back to the facility via AM radio, undermining his struggle to keep morale up and maintain order.

"We had to convince people this was still the best place to be," Bush said. "What I saw in the Superdome was just tremendous amounts of people helping people."

But, Bush said, those stories received scant attention in newspapers or on television.

I understand that news is, by one definition, that which is unusual, not the ordinary day-to-day events. However, in a disaster area, everything is unusual and extraordinary. This goes for the good news as well as the bad. Does the good news draw viewers as much as the bad? Perhaps not. However, a balance needs to be struck that was missing from the Katrina coverage. And if indeed more people will listen to bad news than good, then it's as much our collective problem as it is that of the media and the politicians specifically.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out and Blogger News Network. Comments welcome.)

Today's (Really) Odd "Considerettes" Search Phrase - salamanders of Conyers [#8 on Starware Search]

Monday, September 26, 2005

What do you do when you're a corrupt government and you've wasted all your money on fountains and such that should have gone to reinforce levees? Why, you demand more money, of course.
Louisiana's congressional delegation has requested $40 billion for Army Corps of Engineers projects in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, about 10 times the annual Corps budget for the entire nation, or 16 times the amount the Corps has said it would need to protect New Orleans from a Category 5 hurricane.

Louisiana Sens. David Vitter (R) and Mary Landrieu (D) tucked the request into their $250 billion Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief and Economic Recovery Act, the state's opening salvo in the scramble for federal dollars.

The bill, unveiled last week, would create a powerful "Pelican Commission" controlled by Louisiana residents that would decide which Corps projects to fund, and ordered the commission to consider several controversial navigation projects that have nothing to do with flood protection. The Corps section of the Louisiana bill, which was supported by the entire state delegation, was based on recommendations from a "working group" dominated by lobbyists for ports, shipping firms, energy companies and other corporate interests.

The bill would exempt any Corps projects approved by the commission from provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act. It would also waive the usual Corps cost-sharing requirements, ensuring that federal taxpayers would pay every dime.

Why do they need 16 times what the Army Corps thinks it needs? I guess you have to figure in the graft. And how nice of them to ensure that everyone else in the country must pay for their corruption in its entirety.
"This bill boggles the mind," said Steve Ellis, a water resources expert at Taxpayers for Common Sense. "Brazen doesn't begin to describe it. The Louisiana delegation is using Katrina as an excuse to resurrect a laundry list of pork projects."

You said it, Steve.

It's deja vu all over again.
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who said last year she would not raise her child in the United States because her homeland is too dangerous, has changed her mind.

The Oscar-winning leading lady and her husband, Chris Martin, have since spent just as much time in the U.S. as in their other home in London, she admitted.

"I've been here as much as there," she said. "I'm sticking around."

"Words matter. Actions? Eh, whatever." Thank you, Ms. Paltrow, for your principled stand.

Today's Odd "Considerettes" Search Phrase - pharmacists rating themselves as good listeners [#6 on Ask Jeeves]

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Homespun Bloggers Radio, Program #9, released!

Music and opinion are the fare in this edition of Homespun Bloggers Radio.
  • Andrew Ian Dodge, of the blog "Dodgeblogium", gives us some music in response to the London bombings of last July. His band "Growing Old Disgracefully" plays "Cry Freedom".
  • Yours truly talks about the federal response to Katrina, and what that tells us about the role of government.

Click here to listen or on the "Homespun Bloggers Radio" button to the left. The current audio feed is a loop of shows #8 & #9. Also, you can click here to download a high-quality version of the show. The 2 previous shows can also be heard by clicking here.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Governor Sonny Perdue of Georgia has asked public schools to close Monday and Tuesday to save gas. This will save diesel fuel, I'm sure, but not automobile gas, so the main thing this is doing is starting a gas panic. On the local radio talk show, people are calling in to say that there are gas lines already and the prices have jumped 20 cents. And what will the parents do with the kids during this 4-day weekend? Probably drive somewhere.

Global Warming Update: Date this news item.
Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects.... But the scientists see few signs that government leaders anywhere are even prepared to take the simple measures of stockpiling food or of introducing the variables of climatic uncertainty into economic projections of future food supplies. The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality.

Sounds like it could have come from yesterday's paper. In reality it comes from a Newsweek article from 30 years ago that cooling.
A survey completed last year by Dr. Murray Mitchell of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reveals a drop of half a degree in average ground temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere between 1945 and 1968. According to George Kukla of Columbia University, satellite photos indicated a sudden, large increase in Northern Hemisphere snow cover in the winter of 1971-72. And a study released last month by two NOAA scientists notes that the amount of sunshine reaching the ground in the continental U.S. diminished by 1.3% between 1964 and 1972.

I guess the SUV has single handedly saved us from a new Ice Age, eh?

Conservative, small-government types are getting run over by the latest spending spree by the Republican-controlled Congress. This Cox & Forkum cartoon on the subject points to this OpinionJournal article by Stephen Moore called "The GOP's New New Deal". He opines:
Conspicuously missing from the post-Katrina spending debate is a question for some brave soul in Congress to ask, What is the appropriate and constitutional role here for the federal government? Before the New Deal taught us that the federal government is the solution to every malady, most congresses and presidents would have concluded that the federal government's role was minimal. One of our greatest presidents, Democrat Grover Cleveland, vetoed an appropriation for drought victims because there was no constitutional authority to spend for such purposes. Today he would be ridiculed by Ted Kennedy as "incompassionate."

We all want to see New Orleans rebuilt, but it does not follow that this requires more than $100 billion in federal aid. Chicago was burned to the ground in 1871; San Francisco was leveled by an earthquake in 1906; and in 1900 Galveston, Texas, was razed by a hurricane even more ferocious than Katrina. In each instance, these proud cities were rebuilt rapidly and to even greater glory--with hardly any federal money.

That's so hard to do in today's world because, as Moore points out, the culture has already been conditioned, by the New Deal and its reinforcements since then, to expect this from the federal government. Here's a paragraph from Grover Cleveland's biography at
Cleveland vigorously pursued a policy barring special favors to any economic group. Vetoing a bill to appropriate $10,000 to distribute seed grain among drought-stricken farmers in Texas, he wrote: "Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character. . . . "

Indeed, President Cleveland was right; we now live in the age of that expectation. And the sturdiness of character that rebuilt 3 cities on its own within 35 years seems to have been dealt a serious, self-inflicted blow, first by Cleveland's own Democratic party, but now we see that too many Republicans have had a hand in it. Much of this can be laid at the feet of those who think that the Constitution is a thing of rubber to be twisted into whatever shape is desired at the moment rather than a firm foundation. As government has seeped out of the bounds created for it, and voters have elected more and more people willing to encourage such seepage, the money taken in increased, and with the money came power, and with that power came arrogance. And the descent along this slippery slope continues because each time we slid farther, "it seemed like a good/compassionate idea at the time".

Now it's city mayors and state governors looking first to Washington to bail them out of a crisis, rather than teaming up with local businesses and charities. We are a much, much wealthier nation than we were in 1871, but in the current culture, self-sufficiency and community effort seem to be things of the past.
Yet almost as soon as the embers had cooled, Chicago business leaders deployed to New York to persuade investors that this was the time to put more of their money into Chicago, not less. Peter Alter, curator of the Chicago Historical Society, recounts the story of William D. Kerfoot, a real-estate speculator whose offices had burned. The day after the fire was extinguished, Mr. Kerfoot erected a crudely made painted sign: "All Gone But Wife, Children and Energy."

That article goes on to describe the response to three other cities that fell to disaster, and shows, in spite of some cases of man's tendency to take advantage of a situation, people and organizations did have the energy to deal with the situation, rather than immediately look to Washington, DC. Do we still have that personal energy, or are we content to not even try? Private individuals, private charities and private organizations were able to rebuild in times past; why do we automatically think that could never happen now?

Well, not all of us think that.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out, Blogger News Network and Comments welcome.)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

I remember seeing a short movie on something like this when I was in high school. The idea was fanciful then, but it's becoming more of a reality.
BRAIN-SCANNING techniques that test whether people are telling the truth could soon be sufficiently reliable to be used to interrogate criminals.

Neuroscientists developing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) as a tool for detecting lies believe the technology is nearly ready for use beyond the laboratory.

A team at the University of Pennsylvania has developed a way of reading fMRI scans that is claimed to be capable of telling lies from the truth with 99 per cent accuracy.

The question in the movie was, would this run afoul of the 5th Amendment protection against self-incrimination? It's possible. The main question is; what was the purpose of a such a protection? As such, would a device like this protect us from the abuses that the 5th Amendment does? It's a very interesting idea, being able to get the truth for sure, but could it be abused and manipulated, giving bad information the credentials of good information because "the machine said so"?

Tough questions.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Jimmy Carter, the new racist? Oh, that's not me talking, that's Democrats.
A private commission trying to restore public confidence in national elections recommended on Monday requiring a free photo ID for voters, drawing opposition from Democrats and some voting rights activists.

Critics suggested that having to acquire the ID cards in order to vote could be an obstacle for minorities, the poor and older Americans and might intimidate some people.

"We believe such a requirement would constitute nothing less than a 21st century poll tax," said a letter from Reps. John Conyers, D-Mich., and John Lewis, D-Ga. Poll taxes were once used in some states to prevent black citizens from voting.

Former President Carter, a co-chair of the commission, said he was hesitant about the free photo ID proposal at first, but laws passed in some states like Georgia convinced him that a national approach was a better idea. Republican lawmakers in Georgia pushed through legislation that requires a new voter identification card that costs $20 for five years.

Jesse Jackson was down here in Atlanta calling this move a racist one, but now Jimmy Carter's on board. Should make for an interesting debate for the Dems. Republicans already know it's a good idea.

Global Warming Update:
New gullies that did not exist in mid-2002 have appeared on a Martian sand dune.

That's just one of the surprising discoveries that have resulted from the extended life of NASA's Mars Global Surveyor, which this month began its ninth year in orbit around Mars. Boulders tumbling down a Martian slope left tracks that weren't there two years ago. New impact craters formed since the 1970s suggest changes to age-estimating models. And for three Mars summers in a row, deposits of frozen carbon dioxide near Mars' south pole have shrunk from the previous year's size, suggesting a climate change in progress.

OK, who shipped those SUVs up there?

But seriously folks, if, lacking any fossil fuel combustion, Mars is having global warming, the idea that warmer temps on Earth are a result of changes in the Sun sound more likely. In addition, trying to reverse that process is an exercise in futility. Worse, blaming George Bush for global warming is like blaming him for the seasons.

Today's Odd "Considerettes" Search Phrase - ukraine pro invest chocolate [#6 on Google]

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Well, I guess it was to be expected.
North Korea will not give up its nuclear weapons until the United States provides civilian atomic reactors, Pyongyang said on Tuesday in a statement that significantly undermined a deal reached just a day earlier.

Six countries, including the North and the United States, had agreed on Monday to a set of principles on dismantling the Pyongyang's nuclear programs in return for aid and recognizing its right to a civilian nuclear program.

Skeptics had said the deal was long on words, vague on timing and sequencing and short on action: the North's comments made clear just how short.

Here's hoping this can be salvaged. But remember; don't trust a dictator.

When I first started this blog, the topic I posted mostly on was the Catholic church's pedophile priest problem, and how the media completely ignored the fact that >90% of the instances were between priests and boys, thus making this as much a homosexual priest problem. Well, today the Pope has reaffirmed the church's stance on the issue.
Pope Benedict XVI has given his approval to a new Vatican policy document that bans men with homosexual tendencies from being ordained as priests, reports Catholic World News.

The policy statement is a direct result of the pope's concern about the pedophilia scandal in the church – especially in the U.S.

The new document, prepared by the Congregation for Catholic Education in response to a request made by the late Pope John Paul II in 1994, will be published soon. It will take the form of an "Instruction," signed by the prefect and secretary of the congregation: Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski and Archbishop Michael Miller, according to the report.

This is not a change in policy. It's meant most likely for the North American churches that have been ignoring it.
The "Instruction" does not represent a change in church teaching or policy, according to the Vatican.

Catholic leaders have consistently taught that homosexual men should not be ordained to the priesthood. Pope John XXIII approved a formal policy to that effect, which still remains in effect. However, during the 1970s and 1980s, that policy was widely ignored, particularly in North America.

Time to get the message, folks.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

This just says it all.
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) unleashed a furious attack on the Bush administration at a Brown University speech yesterday, upbraiding the president’s response to the hurricane that recently devastated the Gulf Coast and tying it to what he sees as other flaws at the White House.

“This is the Katrina administration,” read prepared remarks posted on 2004 Democratic presidential nominee’s website, “Katrina is a symbol of all this administration does and doesn't do,” read Kerry’s script, portions of which were included in an e-mail to supporters that ended with a fundraising appeal.

Fundraising on the backs of the Katrina victims from the man who would be President.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Yet another good side effect of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. First Libya decided to play nice (i.e. voluntarily disband their nuke program), afraid of a US invasion. Later, Syria, close to the Iraq situation, left Lebanon. And now it's North Korea's turn. (Emphasis mine.)
North Korea agreed Monday to end its nuclear weapons program in return for security, economic and energy benefits, potentially easing tensions with the United States after a two-year standoff over the North's efforts to build atomic bombs.

The United States, North Korea and four other nations participating in negotiations in Beijing signed a draft accord in which the North promised to abandon efforts to produce nuclear weapons and re-admit international inspectors to its nuclear facilities.

Foreign powers said they would provide aid, diplomatic assurances and security guarantees and consider North Korea's demands for a light-water nuclear reactor.

The agreement is preliminary and will require more rounds of negotiations to flesh out because it does not address a range of issues like timing and implementation that are likely to prove contentious. China announced that the nations taking part in the talks would reconvene in November to continue ironing out the details.

Even so, the agreement marks the first time since the United States accused North Korea violating a previous accord in 2002 that the two countries have drawn up a road map for ending their dispute through peaceful means.


Washington declared as part of the agreement that it does not have any nuclear weapons at its bases in South Korea and that it "has no intention to attack or invade the D.P.R.K. with nuclear or conventional weapons." The D.P.R.K. stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's formal name.

North Korea was worried that we'd actually do something about it if they pursued nuclear weapons. Why? Because we have a President that does what he says he will. And this step may bring about yet another good side effect.
Progress in the talks may also give the United States and European countries some diplomatic momentum in their negotiations with Iran over its nuclear weapons program, which is not considered as advanced as the North Korean one.

My only concern is that North Korea has been one to say one thing and do another. Ask Jimmy Carter. (Well, maybe not. I think he's still in denial.) Hopefully, any agreement allows for serious inspections. Nonetheless, this is a good first step, one that makes us safer, and which was aided by our military actions.

I saw this article last night and thought it would be a great one to comment on. Bill Clinton is breaking with a long-standing tradition of Presidents muting their criticism of their successors. (Well, this happens a lot with Jimmy Carter, too. Maybe it's just a Republican tradition.) And Bill's doing it with all the same talking points from the far left that have long been refuted and discredited. Since most of those talking points are about his own administration, it's even worse; he knows the facts, but he's deliberately ignoring or lying about them. (And of course, doing all this in front of George Stephanopolous made it all the easier.)

However, Bryan Preston at Junkyard Blog rips this to shreds much better than I could. Run, don't walk, to JYB.

I wonder, if Hillary were to become President, if Bill would appreciate Dubya second-guessing every move she made. Just asking.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

More elections in Afghanistan today.
Afghans chose a legislature for the first time in decades on Sunday, embracing their newly recovered democratic rights and braving threats of Taliban attacks to cast votes in schools, tents and mosques.

Reports of violence came in from around Afghanistan as it sought to claw its way back from more than a quarter-century of conflict, but there were no immediate signs of a spectacular attack that officials had feared from Taliban militants who had vowed to disrupt the vote.

Bravo for a courageous Afghan people. I remember a situation like this years ago where people were going to the polls in a country for the first time (don't recall the country), and there was a good political cartoon in the paper that day. The first panel was labelled "What keeps <citizens of the country I forgot> away from the polls". The picture was of turned over cars and burning tires. The second panel was labelled "What keeps Americans away from the polls". The picture was of a guy holding his hand out the door with a single drop of rain falling on it.

Recent presidential elections have changed the turnout issue a bit in the United States, but you have to really give loads of credit to people who brave a whole lot more than weather to vote. Compare that to people who say that US voters are "disenfranchised" when they have to stand in the rain, and you see how we're being put to shame on this topic.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Rick (from Stones Cry Out) and I had a bit of a back-and-forth about raising taxes vs reducing spending to deal with the budget deficit in general and paying for the Katrina rebuilding specifically. Last night, Bush proposed a number of programs, and today he's said how he wants to pay for them:
President Bush on Friday ruled out raising taxes to pay for Gulf Coast reconstruction, saying other government spending must be cut. "You bet it will cost money, but I'm confident we can handle it," he said.

"It's going to cost whatever it's going to cost, and we're going to be wise about the money we spend," Bush said a day after laying out an expensive plan for rebuilding New Orleans and the Gulf Coast without spelling out how he would pay for it.


Also Friday, White House officials said taxpayers at home will pay the bill for the massive reconstruction program and that this will mean a deeper budget deficit.

Bush said it's important that government quickly fix the region's infrastructure to give people hope. Asked who would pay for the work and how it would impact the nation's rising debt, Bush said he was confident the United States could pay for reconstruction "and our other priorities."

He said that means "cutting unnecessary spending" and maintaining economic growth, "which means we should not raise taxes."

Deficits are (or should be) for emergencies, and this is certainly one. However, I think Dubya should take this opportunity to both avoid increasing it by too much and at the same time cut the waste and making some departments actually look for ways to cut back. Now is the opportunity to cut the fat (and prove DeLay wrong).

And let's make these cuts permanent. It would be the smallest of starts, but a start it would be.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

Poor Al Gore; can't seem to remember what story he's told to whom.
And [Gore] urged that "the leaders of our country be held accountable" for the flooding of New Orleans. Unfortunately he was addressing the Sierra Club, which was not the best place to bring up the flooding of New Orleans.

The very day he spoke a congressional task force reported that the levees that failed in New Orleans would have been raised higher and strengthened in 1996 by the Army Corps of Engineers were it not for a lawsuit filed by environmentalists led by who else but the Sierra Club. Among those "leaders of our country" to "be held accountable" for the flooding of New Orleans, would Al include the Sierra Club? How about the Save the Wetlands stalwarts? According to a recent report in the Los Angeles Times, a 1977 lawsuit filed by Save the Wetlands stopped a congressionally funded plan to protect New Orleans with a "massive hurricane barrier." A judge found that New Orleans' hurricane barrier would have to wait until the Army Corps of Engineers filed a better environmental-impact statement.

Tomorrow is Constitution Day, the day that document was adopted in 1787. Some very interesting paragraphs from the Fox News article on this:
The federal government typically stays out of telling schools what to teach, because that power rests with the states under the 10th Amendment to — yes — the Constitution.

Yet this topic is different thanks to Sen. Robert Byrd (search), a West Virginia Democrat who is known for being zealous about the Constitution. He inserted a provision into a huge 2004 spending bill that requires constitutional teaching, although schools are free to choose how.

I appreciate the sentiment by Sen. Byrd, though I wonder how much extra-constitutional pork was in that very spending bill.

(Note that Iraq is going to get their own constitution a little bit quicker than we got ours once we were free. Who says progress is slow over there?)

To give you an idea of how big the Katrina rebuilding will be, NBC and CNN are opening full-time bureaus in New Orleans. And the other major broadcast news organizations are putting a bunch of folks in there for a long time as well. It's just another reminder of how much and how widespread this devastation is.

Scott Ott's "ScrappleFace" blog is a place where he posts quick and quite funny news satire items. The main purpose is to editorialize, but in such a way as to give you a good laugh, too, whether or not you agree with him.

His item today, however, is quite astounding. With a wink, he's suggesting that the speech Bush gave last night from New Orleans was really a rejected draft. However, his version of what Bush should have said is a masterpiece. An excerpt:
"But as reconstruction begins, rest assured that we're not merely going to re-establish the conditions that led to such deep pockets of poverty in the midst of affluence. We're not going to continue the enslavement of the poor at the hands of seemingly-benevolent politicians who fail to understand the power of faith, freedom and personal responsibility to build vibrant communities on a foundation of strong families."

"In the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it's time to "let freedom ring." It's time to let this area of the south rise up and live out the true meaning of our creed."

Keep reading for a speech I wish I'd heard. Someone draft this guy for President.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Sorry, didn't get to posting anything today. However, I've written quite bit today, more than usual, in the comments of some "Stones Cry Out" posts; "Time to Raise Taxes!", "DeLay Jumps the Shark", and "Federal Judge Rules Pledge Unconstitutional". Some good debate, both with readers and with other SCO contributors.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The bionic eye?
SCOTTISH scientists are developing an electronic implant that will be capable of curing two of the most common forms of blindness.

Dr Keith Mathieson, from Glasgow University's Department of Physics, is using digital camera technology to create the 'bionic eye'.

He has developed a microchip that can replicate the role played by the retina, the sensitive lining at the back of the eye that converts light into a signal that is sent to the brain.

This would be truly amazing.

"If the federal government didn't the people who didn't have cars out of New Orleans, there was nothing they could do for themselves."

This guy would differ with that statement.

The Pledge of Allegiance was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge today.
Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools was ruled unconstitutional Wednesday by a federal judge who granted legal standing to two families represented by an atheist who lost his previous battle before the U.S. Supreme Court.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that the pledge's reference to one nation "under God" violates school children's right to be "free from a coercive requirement to affirm God."

I'm wondering what federal law enumerates that particular right. Google can't seem to find anything. I'm not saying unequivocally that children ought to be required to do that. I just would like to know the law this judge is citing.

Hold not thy breath.
Karlton said he was bound by precedent of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which in 2002 ruled in favor of Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow that the pledge is unconstitutional when recited in public schools.

You mean the most overturned court in the country has suddenly become unassailable? Here's what one web page notes:
It is often called "the most overturned appeals court in the United States", but the court has a higher caseload than most other circuit courts. From 1992 to 2003, the lowest percentage of overturned appeals by the ninth circuit was 68 percent. The highest was 95 percent. The average percentage of Ninth Circuit Court decisions overturned by the Supreme Court during this time was 73.5 percent as compared to an average of 61 percent by the all the other circuit courts of appeal combined.

(By the way, a higher caseload, with a larger number of decisions, should tend to lower this percentage. The more samples, the more those samples tend to congregate around the average. Thus the higher percentage speaks more to their out-of-mainstream judicial views rather than to their workload. I'm no stats expert, but I'm pretty sure I'm right.)

This is a judicial cop-out. "Golly gee, I can't overturn anything by the 9th Circuit!" Hogwash. Overturning the 9th Circuit has become the rule rather than the exception. And if he simply can never break their precedent, Judge Karlton needs to be removed. He's just a walking, talking rubber stamp.

I've talked about the "under God" thing here, and the Supreme Court's view on it here, and I don't think this is going to get ultimately set in stone. For now, this is a case of a judge unwilling to take on a hot-button topic, and instead saying (doing my best Flip Wilson impersonation), "The 9th Circuit made me do it!"

UPDATE: My bad, and I apologize. Judge Karlton is not above the 9th Circuit in the appeals process; he's below it, and thus needs to abide by the precedent set by the 9th Circuit until such time as it's overruled by the Supreme Court. According to this updated news item, the 9th Circuit Court is the next stop for this case:
The Becket Fund, a religious rights group that is a party to the case, said it would immediately appeal the case to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If the court does not change its precedent, the group would go to the Supreme Court.

I do believe, however, that the 9th Circuit will continue it's stellar performance of being overturned on appeal in this decision as well. Again, my apologies to the readers and to Judge Karlton.

UPDATE PART DEUX: Rick at Stones Cry Out noted (see the comments) that, according to "The Smart Guys" (a couple of regular lawyer guests to the Hugh Hewitt show, Judge Karlton wasn't bound by the 9th Circuit's precedent because the Supreme Court annulled it (they ruled that Newdow had no standing in the case). Thus the precedent cited by Karlton, legally, doesn't exist. Well, now I'm inclined to take back my apology, but I won't. Obviously, my own knowledge of the situation isn't good enough to pass an informed judgement on it. The "Smart Guys", however, are another story.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

What in the ever-luvin' world???
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said yesterday that Republicans have done so well in cutting spending that he declared an "ongoing victory," and said there is simply no fat left to cut in the federal budget.

Mr. DeLay was defending Republicans' choice to borrow money and add to this year's expected $331 billion deficit to pay for Hurricane Katrina relief. Some Republicans have said Congress should make cuts in other areas, but Mr. DeLay said that doesn't seem possible.

"My answer to those that want to offset the spending is sure, bring me the offsets, I'll be glad to do it. But nobody has been able to come up with any yet," the Texas Republican told reporters at his weekly briefing.

Asked if that meant the government was running at peak efficiency, Mr. DeLay said, "Yes, after 11 years of Republican majority we've pared it down pretty good."

I would really hope this has been taken out of context, but it's hard to see what larger context he might be talking about. There are entire departments many conservatives would like to see gone (e.g. Education Department, NEA). If DeLay's that tone deaf to the folks who put him in office, it's time for a change.

Fortunately, not everyone's that out of touch.
"This is hardly a well-oiled machine," said Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican. "There's a lot of fat to trim. ... I wonder if we've been serving in the same Congress."

American Conservative Union Chairman David A. Keene said federal spending already was "spiraling out of control" before Katrina, and conservatives are "increasingly losing faith in the president and the Republican leadership in Congress."

"Excluding military and homeland security, American taxpayers have witnessed the largest spending increase under any preceding president and Congress since the Great Depression," he said.

And here's someone else with their own list of things that could be cut.
Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), said if Mr. DeLay wants to know where to cut, "there are plenty of places to reduce."

His group soon will release a list of $2 trillion in suggested spending cuts over the next five years, and he said Congress also could cut the estimated $20 billion to $25 billion in pet projects that make their way into must-pass spending bills each year.

Now, I will say that Democrats, even in light of unfettered and un-vetoed spending by Republicans, still argue that we're not spending enough on this or that program, so I think we probably doing better financially vs. a Kerry presidency & Democrat Congress. However, to claim victory at this point in time is simply irresponsible.

OK, and outright nuts.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Here's an interesting take on the Fairness Doctrine; having two sister radio stations split, with one station continuing the conservative talk (including Rush Limbaugh) while the other picks up the Air America slate of programs. In "nuclear-free" Santa Cruz, CA, that's what happened on July 18th. Since then...well, I'll let station owner Michael Zwerling lay it on the line.
Since programming content for local AM sister stations 1080 KSCO and 1430 KOMY made the great political split July 18, the liberal arm has been slow to hook advertisers.

It’s so slow, station owner Michael Zwerling went on the air recently with an ad of his own threatening the future of progressive shows on KOMY.

"For liberal programming to continue ... you need to support it," his ad said.

Zwerling said his ad was designed to "get in people’s face" and remind listeners that radio is a commercial business, and if ad space is available, they need to know about it.

"You can’t be coy in this business," said Zwerling, who shifted his personal politics right of center in the 1970s when faced with the burdens of government bureaucracy while building a house in Santa Cruz. "You have to spell it out, especially in Santa Cruz where everybody thinks they deserve everything."

KOMY, the new home to the Air America network featuring Al Franken and Randi Rhodes, lags in advertising appeal, Zwerling said, especially compared with Rush Limbaugh, who has ruled the KSCO airwaves for more than a decade blasting conservative tirades.

Air America execs, by the way, refused to share a station with Michael Savage, which is why Zwerling split the sister stations. So since that time, how has the advertising been coming in?
Since Air America debuted on KOMY, the station has been praised by listeners writing and calling with appreciation, but not a single business has stepped up to buy air time specifically during Air America’s slot.

On the other hand, Limbaugh’s show — with an estimated 5,000 local listeners per quarter hour — is mostly sold out, station General Manager Michael Olson said.

To be fair, AA's short time on the air may be part of the problem; businesses often plan ad campaigns months in advance. Nonetheless, the plan for bringing in AA has no doubt been in the works longer than that, and no doubt the station had been trying to line up advertisers long before throwing the switch; that's just good business preparation.

And still they can hardly give away ad time on a liberal radio station in a liberal city. Amazing

Robert Kagan has a great article on the short memories of those who now say that we shouldn't have gone to Iraq and that Hussein never was a threat to the United States. Kagan quotes authors and politicians (Madeleine Albright gets a lot of coverage as spokesperson for the Clinton administration on this). It's a summary of all the folks from all over that thought going after Hussein was a good idea...until, you know, we actually did it under a Republican administration. It's a good place for one-stop shopping for refuting folks who forget that Democrats were all for it, until they were against it.

Monday, September 12, 2005

FEMA director Mike Brown has resigned. Perhaps that recall to Washington was for a trip to the woodshed and a suggestion to resign rather than be fired. Some may call this premature, but it's probably for the best.

Jon Henke of Q&O has a good list of quotations to keep with you while (if?) you watch the Roberts confirmation hearings.

A million dinars may not be a whole lot ($680) relative to the amount required for the Katrina cleanup, but this donation, collected by the Iraqi military from soldiers, is both heartwarming and a good barometer of how much they actually do love us over there.
"I am Colonel Abbas Fadhil; Tadji Military Base Commander,” Abbas wrote. “On behalf of myself and all the People of Tadji Military Base; I would like to console the American People and Government for getting this horrible disaster. So we would like to donate 1.000.000 Iraqi Dinars to help the government and the People also I would like to console all the ASTs who helped us rebuilding our country and our Army. We appreciate the American's help and support. Thank you."

I think these folks deserved to be liberated, just for this kind of spirit and compassion alone. Our troops' efforts have not been wasted.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

Jack Kelly makes some good points. He has some facts, figures and choice words for those who say that the relief response to hurricane Katrina was slow. Try comparing it to previous response times.
For instance, it took five days for National Guard troops to arrive in strength on the scene in Homestead, Fla. after Hurricane Andrew hit in 2002. But after Katrina, there was a significant National Guard presence in the afflicted region in three.

Journalists who are long on opinions and short on knowledge have no idea what is involved in moving hundreds of tons of relief supplies into an area the size of England in which power lines are down, telecommunications are out, no gasoline is available, bridges are damaged, roads and airports are covered with debris, and apparently have little interest in finding out.

So they libel as a "national disgrace" the most monumental and successful disaster relief operation in world history.

He also points out that National Guardsmen can't be instantly transported to the scene of the disaster. A massive operation like this takes time, but even given that, they did exceptionally well.
Guardsmen need to receive mobilization orders; report to their armories; draw equipment; receive orders and convoy to the disaster area. Guardsmen driving down from Pennsylvania or Navy ships sailing from Norfolk can't be on the scene immediately.

Relief efforts must be planned. Other than prepositioning supplies near the area likely to be afflicted (which was done quite efficiently), this cannot be done until the hurricane has struck and a damage assessment can be made. There must be a route reconnaissance to determine if roads are open, and bridges along the way can bear the weight of heavily laden trucks.

And federal troops and Guardsmen from other states cannot be sent to a disaster area until their presence has been requested by the governors of the afflicted states.

Exhibit A on the bill of indictment of federal sluggishness is that it took four days before most people were evacuated from the Louisiana Superdome.

The levee broke Tuesday morning. Buses had to be rounded up and driven from Houston to New Orleans across debris-strewn roads. The first ones arrived Wednesday evening. That seems pretty fast to me.

The article also includes a response from a former Air Force logistics officer who explains the hardships and obstacles that had to be overcome in order to deal with such devastation done to such a huge area. "Read the whole thing"(TM).

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Today's Odd "Considerettes" Search Phrase - What inconsistencies with a mission statement can be warning signs [#11 on MSN Search]

Friday, September 09, 2005

Excerpts from Bob Herbert, writing in the NY Times:
The tragedy in New Orleans did not occur in a vacuum. There is no way, even in the face of a storm as violent as Katrina, that a great American city should have been reduced to little more than a sewage pit overnight.

The monumental failure of the federal government to respond immediately and effectively to the catastrophe that resulted from Hurricane Katrina was preceded by many years in which the people of New Orleans (especially its poorest residents) were shamefully neglected by all levels of government.


The public school system, for example, is one of the worst in the nation. Forget about educating the children, 96 percent of them black. School officials, enveloped in a bureaucratic fog and the toxic smoke of corruption, do not even know how many people are employed by the system. The budget is a joke. Money had to be borrowed to pay teachers.

The classroom environment has been chaotic. About 10,000 of the 60,000 students were suspended last year, and nearly 1,000 were expelled. Half of the high school kids fail to graduate in four years.


Crime in New Orleans is another issue that has gotten a lot of attention in Katrina's aftermath. It should have gotten more attention before the hurricane hit. A great deal of the mayhem reported or rumored to have occurred over the past several days appears to have been exaggerated. But New Orleans has long had a serious crime problem. And it has never been properly dealt with.

A couple of days ago I was talking with a woman named Julia Cass who had fled the flood and settled temporarily in Montgomery, Ala. It turns out that Ms. Cass, a former reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, had just completed a paper for the Children's Defense Fund, which is concerned about the effect on children of the chronic violence plaguing New Orleans.

Ms. Cass noted that as of Aug. 19, there had been 192 murders in the city, an increase of 7 percent over that period last year. (You can get a decent perspective on the violence if you note that New Orleans, with a population of 500,000, had 264 homicides last year, compared with the 572 homicides in New York, which has a population of 8 million.)


New Orleans has had high rates of illiteracy and high rates of poverty, and long before the hurricane blew in, high rates of children and families with extraordinarily low expectations. In short, much of the city was a mess, and no one was marshaling the considerable resources necessary to help pull its stricken residents out of the trouble of their daily lives.

You'd think, after 40 years of essential one-party rule by Democrats, this place would be a liberal utopia by now.

In a comment on a post at Stones Cry Out, 'dem' made a good point with respect to the timeliness of talking about responsibility for the response, or slowness thereof, to Katrina.
In a previous post I deferred to you and other conservatives when you said that a discussion of the topic of responsibility and accountability should wait. But at some point our country needs to have that discussion. When do you think an appropriate time should be? Because the longer conservatives say "now is not the time", the more it looks like conservatives are planning to say "we need to move on" when the topic is forced to the forefront of discussions about the catastrophe at a later date. I hope that is not the case. We need to learn from the shameful mistakes that were made during this crisis to prevent people from suffering again in the future.

I think we're approaching that time. The histrionics began on the Left with RFK Jr.'s "Reap the Whirlwind" screed that blamed Katrina in general, and the Mississippi devastation in particular, on global warming brought on personally by Haley Barbour. Today, however, not falling into the "let's move on" trap, the Right weighs in with a much more even-handed look by Charles Krauthammer. He notes plenty of blame to pass around, and in a spirit of non-partisanship, pulls no punches from anyone. His list, with reasons, includes:
  • Nature (or Nature's God)
  • The Mayor of New Orleans
  • The Governor
  • The head of FEMA
  • The President
  • Congress
  • The American people

I think he missed the head of HomeSec, to whom the head of FEMA currently reports, but aside from that, this is a good list to start with.

One of the questions to come out of this would be, does this indicate that we need more government or less? SCO's own Rick Brady has asked the question, does this indicate that we need stronger federal government? As to the bigger/smaller government question, I noted here (and now it's confirmed) that the Red Cross was asked not to come in to New Orleans with food, water and supplies. Instead, the LA National Guard was tasked with providing it, rather than putting those forces into rescuing survivors. While the Mayor was pleading for those provisions, his own state HomeSec CEO was turning it away. This is a bureaucracy out of control. The same charge can be leveled at FEMA. I watched from an airport TV as Paula Zahn reacted with shock when Mike Brown said they'd just found out about the people in the convention center. Some of this may be poor decision-making and/or incompetence, but some of it is wrapped in governmental red tape. And read this story about a guy who ignored the restrictions and just did the right thing.

Should the government be a part of disaster recovery? I believe so (although read this commentary for an interesting counterpoint, from one man's legal and Christian point of view). But would the government respond better if it were smaller and more streamlined? I think that's a definite "Yes". And this applies to all strata of government. When Rudi took charge on 9/11, that was a great example of streamlined (and local) government in action. It's the red tape that's holding things back.

How about the idea that the federal government should take a stronger role in this, overriding at will the wishes of the states when it determines it needs to? My main problem with this is that we're simply substituting the judgement of one group of people (further away from the potential problem) for another group. Is this necessarily any better? If the feds have better intelligence, and thus think they should go in, instead of going in, this intel should be given to those affected and let them decide. Conservatives generally believe that local solutions to local problems are better than one-size-fits-all boondoggles. How, then, is a stronger, more intrusive federal government better in this instance? Greater resources? Sure. But they're already available to states if they ask for them. Now, the governor didn't want to do that until Tuesday, which was a bit late, and was unwilling to do that beforehand. However, I don't think that the failure of a single governor to act should mean that we now give the feds the power to second-guess the other 49 as well. Just like the meaning of the Interstate Commerce Clause has been expanded beyond recognition, the same fate could await the Insurrection Act if we go down this path. Do you think the federal government, under any party, will reign itself in? (Hint: The guys who wrote the Constitution said "No".)

Katrina has brought this debate to the fore, and it's a good debate to have. But keep an eye on the lessons of history.

UPDATE: Congressman Bobby Jindal of Louisiana has some similar thoughts (and examples).

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out, Blogger News Network, and Comments welcome.)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Oh, now this is rich. Planned Parenthood, after offering to give Katrina victims free "morning after" pills, is now using the disaster to raise money...for itself.
Pro-life advocates say Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion business, continues to exploit victims of Hurricane Katrina. The organization previously said it would provide morning after pills to victims, instead of food or shelter, and is now raising money off of the hurricane for its local abortion centers.

On its national web site, Planned Parenthood solicits funds for Hurricane Katrina support efforts. In fine print, the abortion advocacy group explains that all of the money raised will be used to support its local abortion businesses.

Under a headline "Help Those Affected by the Hurricane," Planned Parenthood admits that "100% of your tax-deductible contribution will go directly to helping Planned Parenthood affiliates."

"Your support is particularly important right now because Planned Parenthood is facing a truly tremendous number of challenges in the courtrooms, in Washington, D.C., and in our clinics," the abortion business says on the hurricane donation page.

I guess PP considers itself "affected by the hurricane". Some folks may chuckle (or get outraged) over handing out Bibles to victims, but I think it's far better than offering to kill your unborn baby for free. And whatever money isn't spent on Katrina victims will just go into the PP general coffers. How considerate of them.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

Here's a great story coming out of the Katrina aftermath.
Proving virtually no one is too young to help Katrina survivors, three boys set up a lemonade in the Houston area that raised $1,005.20 in just two days.

Twins Christopher and Joshua Gohlke, age 9, and their friend, Jordan Todes, 6, started selling their lemonade and cookies Saturday for 50 cents each at the corner of Southwyck and County Road 94 in Pearland, Texas, reports a special hurricane weblog run by the Houston Chronicle.

"We were amazed," said Christopher and Joshua's mother, Nancy Gohlke.

"People just started stopping and giving them $5 bills and not wanting the change," she said. "People from Louisiana would stop and tell them how much they appreciated what they were doing."

A little self-reliance, a little entrepreneurship, and a lotta' heart can multiply our efforts.

Major Garrett of Fox News, talking to Hugh Hewitt:
"At the very moment that Ray Nagin, the Mayor of New Orleans, was screaming where's the food, where's the water, it was over the overpass [nearby], and state officials were saying you can't come in," Garrett said.

Click here for the full transcript from Radio Blogger.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Yesterday, on the drive home, I talked to Kim Peterson on the radio about the fact that many Democrats who want to blame the President for moving too slowly in response to hurricane Katrina were also complaining that the President moved to fast in anticipation of hurricane Charley one year ago. It doesn't matter what Bush does, he will still come up against criticism. Keep this in mind when the "Katrina Commission" is talked about by Democrats. There ought to be one, but President Bush is holding back on the idea of an independent commission at this point, preferring to conduct his own investigation (at a later date, while the tragedy isn't still in full swing), while the Congress is going to hold its own as well. Can you blame Dubya, though? If the commission has these kinds of "multiple personality Democrats" on it, you can't possibly expect to have fair hearings.

Listen to "Considerettes Radio"! [This recording from The Kim Peterson Show (WGST, Atlanta, GA) on 9/6/2005 5:45pm EST (205K).]

Today's Odd "Considerettes" Search Phrase - five top reasons why people are fired from their jobs [#1 on Yahoo! Search]

Michelle Malkin now has the documents to show that Al Franken, in particular, has been lying since day 1 about the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club cash for Air America. He' s not some innocent bystander by any stretch of the imagination.

Ironic for a guy who wrote the book "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them".

I predicted, when Air America first started, that they wouldn't last 2 years. They're now 7 months from that milestone. I thought they'd fold due to bad ratings, and frankly, almost any other network with their ratings wouldn't last long. Their big buck$ backer$, however, have seen to it that they continue an artificial growth, but without that constant infusion from backers (and Boys & Girls Clubs), they wouldn't last. And it's not because the market is saturated, either. Bill Bennett's "Morning in America" radio show started at the same time as Franken's did. At the one-year mark, Bennett's show was broadcast in 116 markets (including 18 of the top 20) while Franken was heard in only 50.

The conservative Salem Radio Network, which has Bennett as well as Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager and others, didn't have nearly the fanfare from the MSM that Air America had, and yet folks are tuning in to it in numbers that far exceed AA's. The question of "why" is a topic for its own post, but SRN has quietly expanded, bringing in the ratings, which is how a network stays alive and relevant. Infusions of cash from fat wallets and kids' programs may keep it alive, but not relevant. It's the content that counts.

Of course, ethics matter, too. AA may fail for that reason. So many to choose from.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

Read this dispatch from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. I doubt there have been any previous dispatches from them with such dire language.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Michael Chertoff, Homeland Security Secretary, on how prepared they were for Katrina:
Defending the U.S. government's response to Hurricane Katrina, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff argued Saturday that government planners did not predict such a disaster ever could occur.

Ever? It was beyond all possible planning that something like this could happen?
Chertoff, fielding questions from reporters, said government officials did not expect both a powerful hurricane and a breach of levees that would flood the city of New Orleans.

If you are fully aware that levees protecting the city are designed for a Category 3 hurricane, and a Category 4+ one develops in the Gulf of Mexico, what do you expect the levees will do; hold anyway? You can't possibly be taken by surprise when they fail, especially when the director if FEMA (which is part of Homeland Security) planned and "war gamed" just such a scenario.
Last week, Michael Brown, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told CNN his agency had recently planned for a Category 5 hurricane hitting New Orleans.

Speaking to "Larry King Live" on August 31, in the wake of Katrina, Brown said, "That Category 4 hurricane caused the same kind of damage that we anticipated. So we planned for it two years ago. Last year, we exercised it. And unfortunately this year, we're implementing it."

Mr. Chertoff sounds like he's in full kiester-covering mode at this point. He sounds like he's trying to parse words and phrases. Here's his explanation of how the plan differed so drastically from the reality.
Chertoff argued that authorities actually had assumed that "there would be overflow from the levee, maybe a small break in the levee. The collapse of a significant portion of the levee leading to the very fast flooding of the city was not envisioned."

He added: "There will be plenty of time to go back and say we should hypothesize evermore apocalyptic combinations of catastrophes. Be that as it may, I'm telling you this is what the planners had in front of them.

However, Brendan Loy points out, this explanation doesn't hold water (so to speak).
For those who would defend Chertoff on the basis of the fact that "all the doomsday predictions were based on the levees being topped, not failing," that's true, but it doesn't help Chertoff's case, because if the levees had been topped by the storm surge (which they would have, if Katrina had moved 20 or 30 miles west of where it did), the flooding in New Orleans would have been even worse! It doesn't make much sense to say that the government was prepared for the worst-case scenario, but was unprepared for a less-bad scenario!

FEMA Director Mike Brown isn't entirely without culpability, either. His protestations of surprise sounded like this:
"Saturday and Sunday, we thought it was a typical hurricane situation -- not to say it wasn't going to be bad, but that the water would drain away fairly quickly," Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Brown said today. "Then the levees broke and (we had) this lawlessness. That almost stopped our efforts."

First of all, Katrina was a Cat 3 hurricane on Saturday, meaning it was going to tax the levees' upper bound anyway. Sunday morning around 1am, it was upgraded to a Cat 4, so no, this was no typical hurricane, especially for a city with levees not designed to withstand it, and they had time to realize that. Second, if they "war gamed" this scenario, why would the very scenario almost stop your efforts?

In fact, these "war games" have been specifically designed with Category 5 hurricanes in mind, including one in September, 2002 and one just last July.

Aside from all the questions about fault or the appropriateness of this or that decision, we have a clear question of whether these guys were lying to the American people, and, in addition, how appropriate is it for President Bush to be backing these guys 100%. Bush is a loyal guy, but it may be that in this case the "to a fault" suffix is necessary. And it's also quite possible that Bush's support is meant to avoid undermining the authority of HomeSec and FEMA in the middle of a major crisis. However, once the winds have died down, the further employment of these two directors needs to be given serious scrutiny. Hopefully, in the coming investigations, this will be a top priority.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Uh oh...
The Navy has hired Houston-based Halliburton Co. to restore electric power, repair roofs and remove debris at three naval facilities in Mississippi damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Halliburton subsidiary KBR will also perform damage assessments at other naval installations in New Orleans as soon as it is safe to do so.

KBR was assigned the work under a "construction capabilities" contract awarded in 2004 after a competitive bidding process. The company is not involved in the Army Corps of Engineers' effort to repair New Orleans' levees.

Never mind the competitive bids -- anyone on the Left that hears the word "Halliburton" used in a sentence will freak out. Keep your Democrat friends on "Freak Out Watch".

Friday, September 02, 2005

The President is taking heat for responding too slowly to the Katrina disaster. James Taranto covers how angry folks on the left have been reacting in general ("It's global warming!", "It's because Mississippi has a Republican governor!"), but the speed issue is one that keeps coming up. The NY Times calls Bush's response too little, too late.
George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast. He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end.

One of the criticisms I have of many pundits and news reporters on the Left is that, no matter at all what Bush does, they'll find some way to criticize it. It doesn't matter how objectively good his action may be, it simply must be shot down. Don't believe me? Well Sherman, set the Way Back Machine to August 15, 2004, a little over a year ago. CBS reports on what folks are saying to Bush's response to Hurricane Charley.
Even before the storm hit, the president declared four counties disaster areas to speed federal money to victims. But that quick response fueled suspicion that he is using disaster politics to help his campaign in one of the most critical battleground states, a notion the president dismissed Sunday.

"Yeah, and if I didn't come they'd have said he should have been here more rapidly," Mr. Bush said.

Just like they are saying now. And precisely what they said to Dubya's father.
The president is trying not to repeat his father's mistakes. After Hurricane Andrew flattened parts of south Florida in 1992, state officials blamed the first President Bush for not answering their calls for help quickly enough, and trying to make up that by overcompensating later.

It's a lesson the current president and political analysts have not forgotten.

"President Bush Sr. put so much money into the state after Hurricane Andrew that he was accused of buying votes in that election. So there is potential that the president could float so much money into Florida that people would say that's political opportunism," says political analyst Craig Crawford.

So a Republican President, by the definition of the Left, can only respond either too quickly or too slowly, and will spend either too much or too little money. This is what playing politics with human suffering looks like. Independents, take note.

(Cross-posted at, Blogger News Network and Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)