Dada is the sun, Dada is the egg. Dada is the Police of the Police.

9/03/2005

Rehnquist dead

That's what Instapundit says. Details here.

Yes, it's true, apparently. From CNN:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who helped shift the U.S. Supreme Court toward a more conservative ideology and strongly supported states' rights during his three decades on the bench, has died.

Rehnquist, who presided over the court for nearly 19 years, was 80.

Rehnquist, who had been receiving chemotherapy and radiation for thyroid cancer, died at an Arlington, Virginia, hospital surrounded by his three children, a court spokeswoman said.

He was working in his office until a few weeks ago," CNN Producer Bill Mears said.

"He loved his job and continued to work until the very end," he added.

The chief justice was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in October 2004, not long after the 2004-2005 court session began, and received outpatient radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

Rehnquist adjourned the court in late June amid speculation that he would resign before justices reconvened in October for the new term. He quashed that idea in July, hours after he left a hospital where he was treated for a fever.

"I want to put to rest the speculation and unfounded rumors of my imminent retirement," he said in a written statement. "I am not about to announce my retirement. I will continue to perform my duties as chief justice as long as my health permits." He returned to work the following day.

Rehnquist's announcement followed the surprise retirement of 75-year-old Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on July 1.

After Rehnquist began his cancer treatments, he worked at home until March 21, causing him to miss oral arguments in a number of cases. He attended President Bush's inauguration January 20 to administer the oath of office, but stayed on the platform for less than 15 minutes.

On his first day back at work in March with the other justices, Rehnquist showed no emotion, paid sharp attention to the argument presented in the first case and asked eight or nine technical questions. His voice was fairly strong; he had a tracheotomy tube in his throat to assist his breathing.

Good question

Mike the Mad Biologist:
...if the news of oral sex in the White House can lead to impeachment because it's awful for children to have to hear about, how awful does New Orleans have to get before it rises to the same level as a blow job?

Returning to the scene of the crime

The National Review is calling for the GOP to hold its 2008 convention in ... you guessed it: New Orleans.

The Republicans, of course, held their 2004 convention in New York City, in a deliberate attempt to cash in on the right's sick 9/11 nostalgia.

What is it with these ghouls?

(HT: Oliver Willis.)

Tomorrow's wingnut blogs today

From Tom Tomorrow:
Why aren't the media reporting the good news from New Orleans? It's because of their dad-gum bias! But they're not fooling anybody but themselves, I tell you! The American public won't fall for their malarky! Blah blah blah blah blah

Shepard Smith grows a soul

If you'd asked me a week ago, I would have told you that Shepard Smith was one of the most reprehensible figures in the mass media. But I've got to hand it to him, he's down in New Orleans, seeing this stuff firsthand, and he's not mincing words in describing to viewers just how fucked up the situation is.

The video is really worth watching; you can see it at Crooks and Liars.

Bill Clinton

Why does anyone have any respect for this man? Arianna:
What the hell was Bill Clinton thinking, standing there next to President Bush and providing verbal cover for the administration's ludicrous claims that the problems plaguing New Orleans were unforeseeable?

He even defended the administration's catastrophic response to Katrina. When asked on CNN whether the federal response was fast enough, Clinton bobbed, weaved, and fell back on this utterly absurd claim: "You and I are not in a position to make any judgment because we weren't there." C'mon, Bill, "...we weren't there"? I know this sucking up business is hard, but you've got to do better than that.

This disaster has been extraordinarily revealing, exposing not only Bush's failure of leadership, and the deadly consequences of his distorted priorities but also the many, many years of political neglect of the poor and the needy by both political parties. You couldn't get a much clearer illustration of the myriad ways that we have indeed become Two Nations than the stories and pictures coming out of New Orleans this week. Not too many Bush Pioneers were forced to wallow in their own feces at the Superdome.

But it's mighty hard to have a teachable moment when you have Bill Clinton, still the reigning symbol of the Democratic Party, failing to connect the dots between the Bush administration's chronic abandonment of the poor and its recent abandonment of the poor in the Big Easy -- as well as the dots between the war in Iraq and the undermining of our security here at home. And as if all this wasn't enough, there he was defending the indefensible. "I'm telling you," he said in a White House sit-down with CNN (along with Bush, Sr.), "nobody thought this was going to happen like this...they had problems they never could have foreseen." Which is absolutely, incontrovertibly, and provably untrue (many, many times over). And he is too smart not to know it.

Instead of acting like a Bush lapdog and gratefully accepting his role as Co-Disaster-Fund-Raiser-in-Chief, imagine the impact Clinton would have had if he had stepped up and made the connection between the increase in poverty and the stagnation in incomes for the fifth straight year and the post-storm suffering among the poor in New Orleans. Or imagine if he had spoken out about how the GOP's beloved new bankruptcy bill is going to further the misery of those ruined by Hurricane Katrina.

Chances to radically shift the national debate, alter the nation's perspective, and rearrange our priorities don't come along very often ... Bill Clinton is now making it harder to use the current disaster as a wake-up call about the pent-up anger bubbling just beneath the surface of our country, about the Other America largely hidden from view, and about the urgent need to redefine national security.

...Sadly, Clinton has been remarkably consistent when it comes to sucking up to Bush -- offering his support on everything from the invasion of Iraq ("I have repeatedly defended President Bush against the left on Iraq," he told Time last summer) to Bush's infamous phony State of the Union claims about Saddam attempting to acquire uranium ("You know, everybody makes mistakes when they are president," he told Larry King sympathetically. "I mean, you can't make as many calls as you have to make without messing up once in a while.")

And now providing cover for George W. Bush and undermining this teachable moment. Again I ask: What the hell is he thinking?
I'm surprised that anyone is surprised by this, frankly. Clinton's entire political career was based on selling out to the right wing (a shameful tradition his wife seems determined to continue), camouflaged with cynical faux-populism. Clinton's behavior in the aftermath of Katrina is only to be expected from this enemy of true progressivism.

A lot of liberal bloggers have been passing around this reminder of the consequences of "small-government" conservativism (which, of course, has nothing to do with actually reducing the size of government, and everything to do with maximizing the degree to which it serves the interests of the privileged classes):


That's fine, but let's not forget who it was that declared: "The era of big government is over." (Let's also not forget who it was that waged his own terrorist war against Iraq, in the form of the sanctions regime.)

Kanye West is getting a lot of attention for saying that "George Bush doesn't care about black people." And he's right. But neither does Bill Clinton, Toni Morrison notwithstanding - not enough, anyway, to risk losing his position as Bush's unofficial apologist by actually telling the truth and holding this administration accountable for once.

Conservativism on full display

Two comments by readers of Oliver Willis:

Tom Y:
Conservatives hate government so much, it’s no wonder they don’t know what to do with it once they control it. Its only value to them is to loot it and pay back their campaign contributors. America’s remembering why it created a safety net for the poor in the first place. Now we are truly reaping the fruits of modern conservatism, and the whole country can see the helpless frightened look in our leader’s eyes. You’ve got Denny Hastert questioning whether NO should even be rebuilt, putting conservatism’s essential inhumanity on display. You’ve also got the closet racists delighting in the fact that they finally have black people about whom it’s safe to publicly want to shoot. Conservatism is on full display, and it’s not looking pretty.
Trevor Wells:
To all my neocon friends and limousine liberals: welcome to the reality that the triple oppression of racism, sexism, and capitalism represent for poor colored folks. It means that in the midst of non-planning for a catastrophic hurricane that experts knew would kill tens of thousands, a hurricane that has been predicted for decades, nothing was done to prevent the misery on a massive scale that we have witnessed. People are dying on national television because of a lack of food, water, medicine, and medical treatment for days at a time. The spectacle of diabetics, elderly people, children, and infants falling ill and dying while their loved ones watch helplessly is an atrocity.

No logistical supports whatsoever for the police that also have no way of feeding themselves, or rescue workers who have no way of protecting themselves when the fatigue and rage from a neglected populace sets in. The dead left to float around or lie around in the open air for days as if this is some neglected and plundered third-world outpost. The scale of this calamity is a stench in the nostrils of God and George W. Bush, whose miserly ways slashed the corps of engineers’ budget that would have addressed fortifying the levees around New Orleans, is to blame. There is always, of course, money for tax cuts for billionaires and the quagmire in Iraq. To top it off, FEMA has designated Operation Blessing, run by Pat Robertson, of assassinate-Hugo Chavez-fame as a government approved charity to send monies too to help in relief efforts. Disgusting.

9/02/2005

"George Bush doesn't care about black people"


This is making the rounds, but I'll go ahead and post a link to it here, too:

Kanye West on live, national television: "George Bush doesn't care about black people."

Europe to send emergency oil to US to ease crisis

From Reuters:
PARIS (Reuters) - Europe will tap emergency stocks of gasoline to help the United States through an energy crisis triggered after Hurricane Katrina smashed into Gulf Coast refiners, EU governments said on Friday.

The West's energy watchdog, the International Energy Agency (IEA) announced that its members would release two million barrels per day (bpd) of oil over an initial period of 30 days.

About half that will be gasoline from European refiners including Germany, France, Spain, Britain and Italy plus Canada, matching output lost from the Gulf Coast's battered refineries. The remainder will be crude from U.S. state reserves.

Gasoline prices have soared by nearly a fifth over the past week and President George W. Bush has urged Americans to go easy on fuel.

Unlike European nations, the United States holds no state reserves of gasoline, having focussed its strategic energy efforts on building huge stocks of crude in case of disruption from the Middle East.

"It's self-evident that we support the American bid," German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder told a news conference in Berlin.

France echoed Schroeder's remarks: "This request is consistent with efforts for solidarity with the American people," the Industry Ministry said in a statement.

Right-wingers on Bush and Katrina

Ass Missile says that those critical of the Bush administration's "response" to the Katrina disaster just want to "bash President Bush."

But a non-trivial portion of the criticism of Bush is coming from the Right. Here's what some right-wingers had to say:

Newt Gingrich:
I think it puts into question all of the Homeland Security and Northern Command planning for the last four years, because if we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?
John Derbyshire:
...the feds look awful, and that can't but reflect on the President. For what we spend on them, federal employees should be swarming over the disaster area. There should be one per resident.

Bob Livingston was just on FNC, telling us to "Open our hearts, and open our wallets." I did open my wallet, Bob -- I sent north of $20,000 to the feds last year. What happened to it?

... 'The results are not acceptable,' he said lamely. Well, obviously. Don't the feds have legions of troops, flights of helicopters, warehouses full of food...? Where are they? What the hell use is the federal government?

It impacts everything. 'Where's the National Guard?' asked Shep Smith yesterday. To the minds of several million people watching him, the answer must have occurred, as it did to me: 'Oh, they're in Iraq...'
Jonah Goldberg:
As I think about what the finger-pointers are likely to say in the aftermath of all this it's hard not to credit some of their complaints. For years, Democrats complained that we needed to spend more on "first-responders." I took this for what it often was: an attempt to pad municipal budgets with pork. But, one must concede it wasn't entirely about that either. And while it's likely this disaster would have presented many if not most of the challenges we're seeing this week, even if all that money had been spent as the Democrats wanted, it remains hard to dispute that it would have been better spent than much of the garbage in recent budgets.

And that's the point: The choice isn't between a lean, fiscally responsible, Republican budget and a porcine Democratic budget which included money for first responders. The Republican Congress has proven to be just about as disgusting in its spending as a Democratic Congress might have been. Sure, perhaps Democrats would have spent a bit more, but Republicans are supposed to be against bloated government and the stealing of tax dollars for personal projects and missions. So whatever pennies we've hypothetically saved with Republicans, their hypocrisy and betrayal of principle more than compensates.

So the question is, would the money have been better spent if the Republicans hadn't gotten their way? And, though it sickens me to say so, that is at best an open question. I have the utmost faith in the kleptocratic and dysfunctional governments of New Orleans and Louisiana to waste and steal money. But, we were supposed to be preparing --at the national level -- for a major terrorist attack for the last four years. I just don't see much evidence of that preparation. Congress re-assembled lickity-split to deal with Terri Schiavo -- a decision that didn't and does not bother me the way it bothers some. But however you define the issues involved in that case, in terms of real human suffering they are very hard to stack-up against what's happened in New Orleans.
The Manchester Union-Leader:
"A better leader would have flown straight to the disaster zone and announced the immediate mobilization of every available resource to rescue the stranded, find and bury the dead, and keep the survivors fed, clothed, sheltered and free of disease."
LaShawn Barber:
Second, why, someone please tell me, is our federal government so unprepared and inept? It’s been four days since the storm ended, and people are still without food and water. Dead bodies are sitting on the side of the road. Can you imagine, God forbid it, if Islamofascists decided to unleash whatever bombs they have? I’m not talking about terrorist thugs coming into the country; I’m talking about the ones already here, the Allah-loving America haters we foolishly let in.

It’s been almost 4 years since 9/11. We’ve spent BILLIONS of dollars on so-called homeland security. We watched in disgusted amazement when Bush created yet another federal agency, but we thought he knew what he was doing. We must protect the homeland.

The infuriatingly sad reality is that our government will not be able to protect us or defend the homeland in the event of a massive terrorist attack.

...Liberals hate George Bush, and no matter what he does, they’ll use anything and anyone to get at him. I don’t hate the man. I voted for him. I want him to succeed, but more than that, I want to be safe, feel safe, and I don’t. The federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina has been an epic and humiliating embarrassment.

...It’s September 2. The storm ended four days ago. People have been waiting, begging for help, and all politicians do is talk, talk, talk. Doctors and nurses are begging for help. The aftermath of the storm is much worse than the storm itself.

We send billions of dollars overseas. We help everyone else, but we can’t even help ourselves. Why was the federal government slow to respond? Why weren’t rescue efforts coordinated? Isn’t that what all those billions of homeland security dollars were supposed to do? Why are people still waiting to be rescued?

I’m ashamed of this country and its bumbling leadership today...
Defend Bush if you must, but you can't pretend the criticism is coming only from the left.


UPDATE: From AMERICAblog:
Rep. Charles W. Boustany Jr., (R-La.), said he spent the past 48 hours urging the Bush administration to send help. "I started making calls and trying to impress upon the White House and others that something needed to be done," he said. "The State resources were being overwhelmed, and we needed direct federal assistance, command and control, and security -- all three of which are lacking."

Thank you, O merciful Lord, for smiting this city of sin

The American Family Association finds a bright side to the Katrina disaster:
“New Orleans now is abortion free. New Orleans now is Mardi Gras free. New Orleans now is free of Southern Decadence and the sodomites, the witchcraft workers, false religion -- it's free of all of those things now," Shanks says. "God simply, I believe, in His mercy purged all of that stuff out of there -- and now we're going to start over again."

Truer words were never spoken

From Tom Tomorrow:
African American woman at a bus stop: "They wouldn't be taking this long if it was white people stuck down there!"
No doubt. From Kevin Drum:
Why did so many people who lacked the means to evacuate New Orleans get left behind?
Brian Wolshon, an engineering professor at Louisiana State University who served as a consultant on the state's evacuation plan, said little attention was paid to moving out New Orleans's "low-mobility" population — the elderly, the infirm and the poor without cars or other means of fleeing the city, about 100,000 people.

At disaster planning meetings, he said, "the answer was often silence."
It's not that no one had thought of this problem. They just didn't consider it important enough to spend any time on.

The Bush legacy

The people of New Orleans forced to resort to cannibalism?

There's no way of knowing if these reports are true or not. But frankly, I'd be surprised if this weren't happening; it often does in such situations.

I swear, if the American public is not demanding Bush's resignation or impeachment at the end of this, I will have lost all hope.

The buck stops ... somewhere else

One thing's clear: the disastrous response (or lack thereof) of the federal government to the crisis in New Orleans is really separating the hard-core Kool-Aid drinkers from the rest of us.

I've heard a lot of ludicrous claims over the past four and a half years, but possibly the most ludicrous is the claim that the Bush administration is and has been doing all it can to save the people of New Orleans, who are starving to death on Bush's watch.

A few honest conservatives have admitted the obvious. The rest have confirmed that there is literally nothing Bush can fuck up bad enough that will cause them to denounce this administration.

Instead, we get what we've been getting since January 20, 2001: excuses, excuses, and more excuses. I'm no fan of Harry Truman, but the incompetent fools in this administration would do well to take to heart his most famous quote: "The buck stops here." I wonder if they've ever even heard it.

9/01/2005

Krugman on Bush's disaster

Via AMERICAblog (whose coverage of Katrina has been excellent, by the way), this is what Paul Krugman had to say about the situation:
A Can't-Do Government
By PAUL KRUGMAN

Before 9/11 the Federal Emergency Management Agency listed the three most likely catastrophic disasters facing America: a terrorist attack on New York, a major earthquake in San Francisco and a hurricane strike on New Orleans. "The New Orleans hurricane scenario," The Houston Chronicle wrote in December 2001, "may be the deadliest of all." It described a potential catastrophe very much like the one now happening.

So why were New Orleans and the nation so unprepared? After 9/11, hard questions were deferred in the name of national unity, then buried under a thick coat of whitewash. This time, we need accountability.

First question: Why have aid and security taken so long to arrive? Katrina hit five days ago - and it was already clear by last Friday that Katrina could do immense damage along the Gulf Coast. Yet the response you'd expect from an advanced country never happened. Thousands of Americans are dead or dying, not because they refused to evacuate, but because they were too poor or too sick to get out without help - and help wasn't provided. Many have yet to receive any help at all.

There will and should be many questions about the response of state and local governments; in particular, couldn't they have done more to help the poor and sick escape? But the evidence points, above all, to a stunning lack of both preparation and urgency in the federal government's response.

Even military resources in the right place weren't ordered into action. "On Wednesday," said an editorial in The Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss., "reporters listening to horrific stories of death and survival at the Biloxi Junior High School shelter looked north across Irish Hill Road and saw Air Force personnel playing basketball and performing calisthenics. Playing basketball and performing calisthenics!"

Maybe administration officials believed that the local National Guard could keep order and deliver relief. But many members of the National Guard and much of its equipment - including high-water vehicles - are in Iraq. "The National Guard needs that equipment back home to support the homeland security mission," a Louisiana Guard officer told reporters several weeks ago.

Second question: Why wasn't more preventive action taken? After 2003 the Army Corps of Engineers sharply slowed its flood-control work, including work on sinking levees. "The corps," an Editor and Publisher article says, citing a series of articles in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, "never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security - coming at the same time as federal tax cuts - was the reason for the strain."

In 2002 the corps' chief resigned, reportedly under threat of being fired, after he criticized the administration's proposed cuts in the corps' budget, including flood-control spending.

Third question: Did the Bush administration destroy FEMA's effectiveness? The administration has, by all accounts, treated the emergency management agency like an unwanted stepchild, leading to a mass exodus of experienced professionals.

Last year James Lee Witt, who won bipartisan praise for his leadership of the agency during the Clinton years, said at a Congressional hearing: "I am extremely concerned that the ability of our nation to prepare for and respond to disasters has been sharply eroded. I hear from emergency managers, local and state leaders, and first responders nearly every day that the FEMA they knew and worked well with has now disappeared."

I don't think this is a simple tale of incompetence. The reason the military wasn't rushed in to help along the Gulf Coast is, I believe, the same reason nothing was done to stop looting after the fall of Baghdad. Flood control was neglected for the same reason our troops in Iraq didn't get adequate armor.

At a fundamental level, I'd argue, our current leaders just aren't serious about some of the essential functions of government. They like waging war, but they don't like providing security, rescuing those in need or spending on preventive measures. And they never, ever ask for shared sacrifice.

Yesterday Mr. Bush made an utterly fantastic claim: that nobody expected the breach of the levees. In fact, there had been repeated warnings about exactly that risk.

So America, once famous for its can-do attitude, now has a can't-do government that makes excuses instead of doing its job. And while it makes those excuses, Americans are dying.

Lake George

From AlterNet:
While we're on the subject of Bush's incompetence, Wonkette offers this email from an EPA staffer down in New Orleans, who says the people cleaning up the White House-created mess have a special name for the flood waters:
We're naming it Lake George, 'cause it's his frickin fault. Have you seen all that data about the levee projects' funding being cut over the past three years by the Prez, and the funding transferred to Iraq? The levee, as designed, might not have held back the surge from a direct Class 5 hit, but it certainly would not have crumbled on Monday night from saturation and scour erosion following a glancing blow from a Class 3. The failure was in a spot that had just been rebuilt, not yet compacted, not planted, and not armed (hardened with rock/concrete). The project should have been done two years ago, but the federal gov't diverted 80% of the funding to Iraq. Other areas had settled by a few feet from their design specs, and the money to repair them was diverted to Iraq.

The NO paper raised hell about this time and again, to no avail. And who will take the blame for it? The Army Corps, because they're good soldiers and will never contradict the C in C. But Corps has had massive budget cuts across all departments (including wetland regulatory) since Bush took office, and now we've reaped what was sown. It really pisses me off to see the Corps get used by the Administration to shield Bush -- they do great work when they're funded. This was senseless, useless death caused not by nature but by budget decisions. [LINK]

"You can't do nothing for your own people"

Even the jokers at NRO admit that this guy "has a point":
An old man in a chaise longue lay dead in a grassy median as hungry babies wailed around him. Around the corner, an elderly woman lay dead in her wheelchair, covered with a blanket, and another body lay beside her wrapped in a sheet.

"I don't treat my dog like that," 47-year-old Daniel Edwards said as he pointed at the woman in the wheelchair. "I buried my dog." He added: "You can do everything for other countries but you can't do nothing for your own people. You can go overseas with the military but you can't get them down here."
You fucked up, Bush. Resign.

Welcome to your legacy, Mr. Bush

From the much linked-to Editor and Publisher article:
Did New Orleans Catastrophe Have to Happen?

...New Orleans had long known it was highly vulnerable to flooding and a direct hit from a hurricane. In fact, the federal government has been working with state and local officials in the region since the late 1960s on major hurricane and flood relief efforts. When flooding from a massive rainstorm in May 1995 killed six people, Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA.

Over the next 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and building pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid. But at least $250 million in crucial projects remained, even as hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin increased dramatically and the levees surrounding New Orleans continued to subside.

Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars.

Newhouse News Service, in an article posted late Tuesday night at The Times-Picayune web site, reported: "No one can say they didn't see it coming....Now in the wake of one of the worst storms ever, serious questions are being asked about the lack of preparation."

In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to a Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans CityBusiness.

On June 8, 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; told the Times-Picayune: 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.

Also that June, with the 2004 hurricane season starting, the Corps' project manager Al Naomi went before a local agency, the East Jefferson Levee Authority, and essentially begged for $2 million for urgent work that Washington was now unable to pay for. From the June 18, 2004 Times-Picayune:

"The system is in great shape, but the levees are sinking. Everything is sinking, and if we don't get the money fast enough to raise them, then we can't stay ahead of the settlement," he said. "The problem that we have isn't that the levee is low, but that the federal funds have dried up so that we can't raise them."

The panel authorized that money, and on July 1, 2004, it had to pony up another $250,000 when it learned that stretches of the levee in Metairie had sunk by four feet. The agency had to pay for the work with higher property taxes. The levee board noted in October 2004 that the feds were also now not paying for a hoped-for $15 million project to better shore up the banks of Lake Pontchartrain.

The 2004 hurricane season was the worst in decades. In spite of that, the federal government came back this spring with the steepest reduction in hurricane and flood-control funding for New Orleans in history. Because of the proposed cuts, the Corps office there imposed a hiring freeze. Officials said that money targeted for the SELA project -- $10.4 million, down from $36.5 million -- was not enough to start any new jobs.

There was, at the same time, a growing recognition that more research was needed to see what New Orleans must do to protect itself from a Category 4 or 5 hurricane. But once again, the money was not there. As the Times-Picayune reported last Sept. 22:

That second study would take about four years to complete and would cost about $4 million, said Army Corps of Engineers project manager Al Naomi. About $300,000 in federal money was proposed for the 2005 fiscal-year budget, and the state had agreed to match that amount. But the cost of the Iraq war forced the Bush administration to order the New Orleans district office not to begin any new studies, and the 2005 budget no longer includes the needed money, he said.

...The Newhouse News Service article published Tuesday night observed, "The Louisiana congressional delegation urged Congress earlier this year to dedicate a stream of federal money to Louisiana's coast, only to be opposed by the White House....In its budget, the Bush administration proposed a significant reduction in funding for southeast Louisiana's chief hurricane protection project. Bush proposed $10.4 million, a sixth of what local officials say they need."

Local officials are now saying, the article reported, that had Washington heeded their warnings about the dire need for hurricane protection, including building up levees and repairing barrier islands, "the damage might not have been nearly as bad as it turned out to be."
James Wolcott:
New Orleans Died for Bush's Sins

...Over at DailyKos, Armando is cautioning liberal lefties to holster the fickle fingers of blame. [Ed.-Figures.]

"[T]his is not a time for politics ... Yes Bush and his administration have much to answer for ... But not now. Maybe next week. But not today."

I don't mean to pick on Armando, but has he learned nothing under Bush? There is no "next week" when it comes to getting answers and fixing accountability for failure under this president. Next week never comes.

Look at 9/11. There were tough questions about the breakdown of communications at Ground Zero, the lateness in scrambling fighter jets once the hijacked planes were heading toward NY and DC, Bush's strange behavior on that day, etc., and in the aftermath those questions were considered inappropriate, "divisive." We needed to grieve first, heal; and then the tough questions could be raised.

But they weren't. As months passed, the focus was on overthrowing the Taliban and avenging 9/11, and tough questions were taken off the table as the drumbeat was about the Nation Moving Forward. The media fell into zombie lockstep behind the invigorated Bush agenda ...

No, this is the time for politics, none better, because I can tell you just from being out of NY a few days that a lot of people in this country are shocked and sobered by New Orleans, but they're also worried and pissed off. They're making the connection between the money, manpower, and resources expended in Iraq and how raggedy-ass the rescue effort has been in the Gulf. If you don't say it now when people's nerves are raw and they're paying full attention, it'll be too late once the waters receded and the media-emoting "healing process" begins.

Thankfully, Paul Craig Roberts is ignoring the pleas for sotto voce commentary in a time of tragedy.

"Chalk up the city of New Orleans as a cost of Bush's Iraq war.

"There were not enough helicopters to repair the breached levees and rescue people trapped by rising water. Nor are there enough Louisiana National Guardsmen available to help with rescue efforts and to patrol against looting.

"The situation is the same in Mississippi.

"The National Guard and helicopters are off on a fool's mission in Iraq.

"The National Guard is in Iraq because fanatical neoconservatives in the Bush administration were determined to invade the Middle East and because incompetent Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld refused to listen to the generals, who told him there were not enough regular troops available to do the job....

"Now the Guardsmen, trapped in the Iraqi quagmire, are watching on TV the families they left behind trapped by rising waters and wondering if the floating bodies are family members. None know where their dislocated families are, but, shades of Fallujah, they do see their destroyed homes.

"The mayor of New Orleans was counting on helicopters to put in place massive sandbags to repair the levee. However, someone called the few helicopters away to rescue people from rooftops. The rising water overwhelmed the massive pumping stations, and New Orleans disappeared under deep water.

"What a terrible casualty of the Iraqi war – one of our oldest and most beautiful cities, a famous city, a historic city."

As Alexander Cockburn & Jeffrey St. Clair eulogize at Counterpunch:

"It didn't have to be this bad. The entire city of New Orleans needed have been lost. Hundreds of people need not have perished. Yet, it now seems clear that the Bush administration sacrificed New Orleans to pursue its mad war on Iraq."
Anybody who says that "now is not the time to point fingers" or other such nonsense needs to understand this: it is dangerous to let the Bush administration off the hook once again. The only prayer we have of preventing future fuck-ups of such a catastrophic nature is by making sure everyone understands what a fuck-up this was.

If Bush had any honor, of course, we wouldn't have to "play politics" in the wake of a disaster. If Bush had any honor, he would fall on his sword, or at least resign. But he doesn't, so he won't.

Wolcott is right. It would be nice to wait until next week to start holding this administration accountable. But if it doesn't happen now, it never will, and we simply can't afford to let that happen again.

Donating

Ezra says to give through John Rogers' site, where he will be matching all donations.

Also, if you want to help with animal rescue, you can give to the Humane Society's Disaster Relief Fund.

By way of comparison

From Antiwar.com:
As you're watching all this footage of people in Louisiana and Mississippi sleeping in overcrowded gymnasiums, their homes destroyed, loved ones missing, jobs lost… just remember that YOUR money is going to pay Gaza "settlers" $200,000 to $300,000 per family to relocate from their cushy housing projects along the Mediterranean. Think any of your fellow citizens will get a deal anywhere near that sweet?

Blame the poor first

Fucking idiots.

Wingnuts pitch a fit over the allegedly "Blame America First" movement ... but I guess it's OK to blame the victims as long as they're poor and black.

John Cole calls bullshit:
the people spreading the meme that the vast majority of who did not evacuate New Orleans did so because they simply chose to ignore the warnings are out of touch with reality. I just heard James Carville state that the Governor and Mayor did all they could, and that some people “just didn’t listen.”

That may very well be. ‘Some people’ probably didn’t listen, and instead chose to just weather the storm. But the vast majority of people who are stranded, and, I fear, dead in the flooded parts of NO in numbers we have not yet begun to discover and comprehend, did not ‘choose’ to ‘ignore’ the warnings.

They simply had no place to go, no way to get there, no way to afford living in a motel/hotel somewhere else, no relatives outside the region, no automobile. I know it is always funny to make fun of the “Hurricane Strikes- Poor Hit Hardest” headlines, but there is some truth to it.

Some truth to it?

I swear to God, nothing is too obvious that half the "moronosphere" still won't get it.

Who could have predicted?

Ezra Klein notes a strange similarity between these statements:

"I don’t think anybody could have predicted that these people…would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile." -Condi Rice

"I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." -George W. Bush

These are both, of course, total lies.

Well, at least the Bush administration is on top of things after disaster strikes, right?

Condi, for instance, is stocking up on shoes. From AMERICAblog:
Just moments ago at the Ferragamo on 5th Avenue, Condoleeza Rice was seen spending several thousands of dollars on some nice, new shoes (we’ve confirmed this, so her new heels will surely get coverage from the WaPo’s Robin Givhan). A fellow shopper, unable to fathom the absurdity of Rice’s timing, went up to the Secretary and reportedly shouted, “How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!” Never one to have her fashion choices questioned, Rice had security PHYSICALLY REMOVE the woman.

Angry Lady, whoever you are, we love you. You are a true American.
Things are bad ... from CNN via Atrios:
That official told me they were able to take a couple of people out. One woman so desperate that she actually handed up her 2 month old baby and said take my child. I can't get on this bus, but you've got to try to save this child. She didn't even know the woman's name.
FromCNN via Kos:
It's hard to describe. It's something I never could conceive of ever seeing in a major city like New Orleans. It is hard to believe. This is New Orleans Louisiana we ware talking about. We spent the last few hours at the convention center where There are thousands of people just laying in the street. They have nowhere to go. These are mothers. We saw mothers. We talked to mothers holding babies. Some of these babies are 3, 4, 5, months old living in these horrible conditions. Putrid food on the ground. Sewage, their feet sitting in sewage. We saw feces on the ground. These people are being forced to live like animals. When you look at some of these mothers your heart just breaks. We're not talking about a few families or a few hundred families. Thousands of people are gathered around the convention.

I want to warn you. Some of these images that you will see they're very very graphic. But people need see this. The people that are down there have been down there for days. People need to see what it is really like here. We saw dead bodies. People are dying at the convention center and there's no one there to come get them. We saw an older woman, someone's mother someone's grandmother, in a wheelchair. Her dead body pushed up against the side of the convention center with a blanket over it. Right on the ground next to her another dead body wrapped in a white sheet.

People are literally dying. Right in front of us as we were watching this a man went into a seizure on the ground. It looked like he was dying. People tried to prop his head up. No one has medical training. No ambulance can come. It is just heartbreaking that people are just sitting there without food or water waiting for the buses to come tak ehtem away. People keep asking us - when are the buses coming. And I just have to say, I don't know.
Crooks and Liars has an MSNBC interview of a survivor who says, accurately, "President Bush shouldn't be the president no more."

S.O.P.





Dicking around while people die.

Playing politics

I realize there are some delicate souls out there who are very, very troubled by the thought of bringing up the dreaded "politics" at a time like this. But I agree with Josh Marhsall (those are words I don't often utter ...):
I'm sorry. I know we're supposed to be observing an accountability free moment for the president. But there are just too many examples out there of the ways in which his policies have contributed to and accentuated this crisis: systematic cuts in levee and pump construction around New Orleans ... phasing out FEMA and the apparently the whole concept of national coordination of the response to natural disasters. That's a great idea, isn't it? ... And, of course, example after example of cronies running critical agencies ...

The scene of any natural disaster, especially one of such grave magnitude, will invariably be chaotic. Much won't go according to plan. But a lot of people seem to have been caught unprepared in this mess, a lot of preparedness agencies appear to have missed a few beats in getting on top of it.

Yes, let's save everyone and everything we can. People on the scene and in the surrounding region are pulling together in amazing ways. But no more letting this man's failures become his own argument against accountability. It's always been a live-for-today presidency.
The last time Bush got a "free pass" was 9/11, and we're still suffering the consequences of that.

And somehow I don't think some lefty bloggers saying nasty things about Dubya is going to compromise the relief efforts. Other than donating (and exhorting others to donate), none of us can do much about what's going on in Louisiana and Mississippi. What we can do - and what no one else probably will do - is try to make sure that the Bush administration is not allowed to yet again escape being held accountable for its actions (and lack thereof).

8/31/2005

By the way ...

I guess I assumed that no one needed me to suggest/remind them about this, but just in case -

If you want to help with the hurricane relief efforts, you can donate to the Red Cross here.


... if you want to help rescue animals affected by the hurricane, I suppose the Humane Society is as good a place as any to donate to. They have a relief fund specifically set up for Katrina.

Welcome to reality Jonah; sorry you couldn't stay longer

Jonah Goldberg is one funny guy:
Everyone knows the 50 different versions of the joke about the Meteor (apocalypse, whatever) heading to earth and The New York Times (or Washington Post) running the headline: "World Ends: Women, Minorities Hardest Hit."

Here's ABC News:

"Poorest Hit Hardest By Hurricane Katrina"

"Disaster Disproportionately Affects Those Who Can Least Afford It"
Then Jonah catches some shit from readers, and "explains" himself:
Several readers complain that it's in fact true that the hurricane will disproportionately affect poor people. I don't really dispute that in the sense most mean it. Yes, the poor will have special hardships. Obviously so. But what I objected to, and still object to, is the reflexive playing of the class card. Is it really true that some middle class retirees who heeded the advice of the government to leave town, only to watch their homes be looted after a lifetime of hardwork for a better life are suffering less than a poor person who lost his rented apartment? What's the metric for measuring this sort of suffering? What about the small businessman who worked his entire life to build something he's proud of? What about the families who lost loved ones, but had the poor taste to make more money than the poverty line?

Whatever happened to the idea that unity in the face of a calamity is an important value? We're all in it together, I guess, except for the poor who are extra-special.
Then, after I guess catching even more shit, he tries again:
OKAY, STRIKE TWO

In a real sense the poor do have it worse, as a general proposition. You can't watch these images and really conclude otherwise. I do think that I am entirely right about the nature of suffering in that it cannot be measured by a simple economic metric ... To me measuring such things by an economic calculus seems as grotesque as some people seem to think it is not to.

But, while watching this footage of these poor people with absolutely no place to go and with the prospects of the city being closed for months it's pretty obvious -- as I said -- the hardships affecting the poor become more pronounced and disproportionate. Your heart really does have to go out to these poor souls. I still don't think grief and misery can be measured economically, but as this disaster stretches out over time, it seems impossible to deny that the grief and misery will be extended longer the further down the economic ladder you go. I sympathize for more for a middle class family which has lost everything it worked for than I do for some thug having a grand time smashing a jewelry shop window. But looking at these poor women carrying their kids aimlessly through the muck with no place to go, you have to concede their lot would be much better with the means to find a dry bed at the end of the day.
Wow, that really is an impressive insight, Jonah. Kudos. Poor people have it tough - you heard it on NRO first, ladies and gentlemen.

Of course, everyone with the intellectual and moral development of, say, a second-grader already knew this, but hey, better late than never. And Jonah is so obviously proud of himself, I'd hate to piss on his parade.

I'm sure that's enough reality for NRO for quite some time ... back to your regularly scheduled wingnuttery.

That's some damn fine presidenting there


Look - your president cares.

Leadership and lack thereof, part 2

Keep strummin', George. (Yes, I know we've all seen this picture a million times now.)

I assume everyone knows how bad things have gotten in the Louisiana and Mississippi (and Alabama, to a lesser extent). If not, MyDD has a good summary.

Jacob Deems brings this article to my attention:

In fiscal year 2006, the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is bracing for a record $71.2 million reduction in federal funding.

It would be the largest single-year funding loss ever for the New Orleans district, Corps officials said.

I've been here over 30 years and I've never seen this level of reduction, said Al Naomi, project manager for the New Orleans district...


There is an economic ripple effect, too. The cuts mean major hurricane and flood protection projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved for now.

Money is so tight the New Orleans district, which employs 1,300 people, instituted a hiring freeze last month on all positions. The freeze is the first of its kind in about 10 years, said Marcia Demma, chief of the Corps' Programs Management Branch.

...The House of Representatives wants to cut the New Orleans district budget 21 percent to $272.4 million in 2006, down from $343.5 million in 2005. The House figure is about $20 million lower than the president's suggested $290.7 million budget.

It's now up to the Senate. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-New Orleans, is making no promises.

It's going to be very tough, Landrieu said. The House was not able to add back this money ... but hopefully we can rally in the Senate and get some of this money back.

Landrieu said the Bush administration is not making Corps of Engineers funding a priority.

I think it's extremely shortsighted, Landrieu said. When the Corps of Engineers' budget is cut, Louisiana bleeds. These projects are literally life-and-death projects to the people of south Louisiana and they are (of) vital economic interest to the entire nation.

...One of the hardest-hit areas of the New Orleans district's budget is the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, which was created after the May 1995 flood to improve drainage in Jefferson, Orleans and St. Tammany parishes. SELA's budget is being drained from $36.5 million awarded in 2005 to $10.4 million suggested for 2006 by the House of Representatives and the president.

8/30/2005

Tragedy, comedy - what's the diff?

Jonah Goldberg is just getting a big ol' kick out of the Katrina devastation:
ATTN: SUPERDOME RESIDENTS

I think it's time to face facts. That place is going to be a Mad Max/thunderdome Waterworld/Lord of the Flies horror show within the next few hours. My advice is to prepare yourself now. Hoard weapons, grow gills and learn to communicate with serpents. While you're working on that, find the biggest guy you can and when he's not expecting it beat him senseless. Gather young fighters around you and tell the womenfolk you will feed and protect any female who agrees to participate without question in your plans to repopulate the earth with a race of gilled-supermen. It's never too soon to be prepared.
Brian Leiter responds:
There are actually some jokes that people who aren't sociopathic freaks don't make; and sociopathic freaks, lo and behold, turn out to be enthusiasts for criminal and immoral wars. Who would have guessed? No doubt the fact that he has "let the cat out of the bag" about the moral depravity of "his kind" accounts for the vigor with which right-wing war mongers are denouncing him.

Leadership and lack thereof

People are apparently calling Katrina the worst disaster in US history.

So I imagine that means that Dubya will be breaking out his copy of 'The Pet Goat' and sitting down for a nice long read.

Oh my - I politicized tragedy! I feel so bad ... my counterparts on the right would never do anything like this ...

Oh well - everything's political. Or almost everything. And if it ends up being the case that Louisiana and Mississippi suffer because they don't have enough National Guardsmen on hand ... well, should that fact not be mentioned?

None dare call it global warming

But according to Pamela Leavey, that's Katrina's real name.

(via Daou.)

Why are Bush's poll numbers so bad?

Answer: because the Yankees suck and football hasn't started yet.

Don't breathe that sigh of relief just yet

Yesterday, it seemed that New Orleans had avoided the worst case scenario. But now comes word (via Mike the Mad Biologist) that the levee there has given way, and things aren't looking too good:
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin warned of a "significant" death toll as the exact scope of Hurricane Katrina's wrath remained unknown in the Crescent City.

"The city of New Orleans is in a state of devastation," Nagin told WWL TV on Monday night. "We probably have 80 percent of our city underwater, with some sections of our city, the water is as deep as 20 feet."

..."We're going to have a significant amount of loss of life in the city," he said, citing reports coming in from fire, police and National Guard sources.

Louisiana officials have released no death toll, but Nagin predicted eastern New Orleans and the city's 9th Ward would be the hardest hit, noting the National Guard would be setting up temporary morgues.

Nagin said bodies have been seen floating in flood waters.

"It's not a pretty picture."

Nagin said both both New Orleans airports are underwater and there would be no electricity in the city for four to six weeks. Natural gas leaks have been reported throughout town, he said.

"Now is not the time to return to the city," Nagin said to those who had evacuated ahead of Katrina, saying they would have to wait weeks, if not months.

"It's almost like a nightmare, that I hope we wake up from," Nagin said.

Nagin confirmed reports that a two-block-long part of a levee has given way to Lake Pontchartrain at the city's 17th Street Canal -- near the city's center.

"There's a serious leak and it's causing the water to continue to rise," he said.

The New Orleans Fire Department said the break was about 200 feet long.

Bryan Vernon, who lives in the neighborhood, told The Associated Press he had been on his roof for three hours calling for someone to help him and his fiancee from the rising water.

"I've never encountered anything like it in my life," Vernon told AP. "It just kept rising and rising and rising."

Along a street that had turned into a river filled with garbage cans and refuse, a woman leaned from the second-story window of a brick home and begged to be rescued, AP reported.

"There are three kids in here," the woman told AP. "Can you help us?"

In New Orleans' central business district, Karen Troyer Caraway, vice president of Tulane University Hospital, said water at the facility was initially rising at the rate of a foot an hour and had reached the top of the first floor.

"It's dumping all the lake water in Orleans Parish," Caraway said. "It's essentially running down Canal Street. We have whitecaps on Canal Street."

"We now are completely surrounded by six feet of water, and are about to get on the phone with FEMA to start talking about evacuation plans," Caraway said. "The water is rising so fast, I can't even begin to describe how fast it is rising."

The last days of Kurt Cobain

I don't see many movies, but I did manage to catch Gus Van Sant's new picture, Last Days, a fictionalized account of the last days of Kurt Cobain's life. I thought it was absolutely wonderful, though I'd hesitate to give it an unqualified recommendation - while I liked it, I can imagine that a lot of people would hate it. Don't see it if you tend not to like movies where very little actually, you know, happens. Mostly, the camera just follows Kurt - er, 'Blake' - around his house and the surrounding woods while he camps out, plays music, eats Cocoa Krispies, ignores the four hangers-on who seem to have permanently encamped in his dilapidated mansion, and avoids a private investigator who is trying to locate him. (For those who know some of the details about Cobain's actual last few days, a few of the characters in the film seem to be based on real people - namely, Michael 'Cali' DeWitt, Dylan Carlson, and Tom Grant.)

Van Sant is obviously a talented director, though he can be a frustrating one - what the hell was up with that Psycho remake, anyway? Again, the lack of much plot or even dialogue will put a lot of people off; Michael Pitt (who plays Blake) has only a handful of lines; his character is for the most part silent (well, he does mumble a lot). Luckily, Cobain's story is well-known enough that Van Sant doesn't really need to fill us in on it.

WARNING: MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW.


Michael Pitt and Kim Gordon in Last Days

What's especially interesting to me, though, about Last Days is that it is thoroughly ambiguous, leaving everything up in the air - including, believe it or not, the manner of Blake/Kurt's death.

Rumors that Cobain's death wasn't actually a suicide began almost immediately, and I, like almost everyone else, dismissed them as the same kind of nonsense that always seems to follow celebrity deaths - Tupac is still alive, etc. But when I happened to take a closer look at the case, I realized that it wasn't at all obvious that Cobain killed himself, and that he actually was, in all probability, murdered.

Now, this isn't some grand conspiracy theory; I don't think the Seattle PD is intentionally covering up the truth or anything like that. I just think they got it wrong. A look at the facts of the case reveals a thoroughly planned, if crude, attempt to make a murder look like a suicide. Unfortunately, it isn't always that difficult to fool investigators.

It happens often. You might recall the man who confessed to killing his girlfriend after seeing Mel Gibson's The Passion. He had made it look as though she had hanged herself, and before his confession, the investigators believed that she had. Another prominent example is the singer Elliott Smith, whose death was originally ruled a suicide but is now looking like murder. (Do people often commit suicide by stabbing themselves repeatedly in the chest?)

Last Days seems to suggest that Cobain wasn't alone when he died. The movie doesn't show his actual demise, but it does show him entering the greenhouse where he dies, and there appears to be someone else already in there. Later, we see a figure in red - which the Cobain character wasn't wearing - standing up in the greenhouse, as another character (Scott) looks on knowingly.

And there's something about the Scott character that seems vaguely sinister. He seems to know more than he lets on, and after Blake's death is very keen to put as much distance between himself and the 'crime scene' as possible.

I was also very surprised to read the following snippet of an interview with Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, a friend of Cobain's who appears in the movie:
UNCUT: The film doesn't explain why Kurt killed himself. Can you?

GORDON: I don't even know that he killed himself. There are people close to him who don't think that he did...

UNCUT: Do you believe the theory that Kurt was killed by someone else?

GORDON: I do, yes.
As far as I know, this makes Kim the only friend of Kurt's, as well as the only prominent musician, to publicly question the ruling that Cobain's death was a suicide.

I won't go into the facts of the case here, unless somebody wants to talk about it; they're easily available on the internet anyway - the Wikipedia entry on Cobain provides a decent jumping-off point. But mark my words, the lid will blow off this story at some point. It would be nice if Van Sant's film, or Gordon's remarks, provided the catalyst for a greater level of exposure for what is, aside from the notoriety surrounding it, a case of somebody getting away with murder.

Now this is the kind of science the GOP could get behind

Bob and David explain the scientific method:
How does a scientist know what's true? Well, all facts begin as dreams, dreamt by a wizard. If the wizard crosses the path of a scorned widow, then he shares it at the town council. Now it is a hypothesis, and it is time to drown the wizard. If he floats, he is an evil wizard, and must be burned alive. If he drowns, then the hypothesis is true! The king is told, and he consults with his menagerie of birds. If the king is satisfied, then it becomes an old-wives tale and science is advanced.

St. Judy

The New York Times continues its quest to make a martyr out of Judith Miller:
The New York Times reporter Judith Miller has now been in jail longer for refusing to testify than any reporter working for a newspaper in America. It is a very long time for her, for her newspaper and for the media. And with each dismal milestone, it becomes more apparent that having her in jail is an embarrassment to a country that is supposed to be revered around the world for its freedoms...
The fact that she's in jail is no embarrassment. The embarrassment is that she'll be let out eventually.

8/29/2005

Kos the misogynist part 542

Now he's making burqa jokes.

He really is a card, isn't he?

Kos, we get it - you're a big tough manly man who grew up in a war zone and joined the army and laughs at hippies and hates women. Congratulations.

Once again, true progressives have cause to be embarrassed that the most popular liberal blog is run by this poseur.

Katrina

It would seem that New Orleans was spared the brunt of it. Other places, especially in Mississippi, weren't so lucky.

New Orleans could be "laid to waste"

I knew it was going to be bad, but I didn't know that it might be this bad. From the AP:
Hundreds of thousands may be left homeless because of sea of water

NEW YORK - When Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans today, it could turn one of America's most charming cities into a vast cesspool tainted with toxic chemicals, human waste and even coffins released by floodwater from the city's above-ground cemeteries. As many as a million people could be homeless, one researcher predicts.

Experts have warned for years that the levees and pumps that usually keep New Orleans dry have no chance against a direct hit by a Category 5 storm. That's exactly what Katrina was as it churned toward the city Sunday.

"All indications are that this is absolutely worst-case scenario," Ivor van Heerden, deputy director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center, said Sunday afternoon.

The center's latest computer simulations indicate that by Tuesday, vast swaths of New Orleans could be under water up to 30 feet deep. In the French Quarter, the water could reach 20 feet, easily submerging the district's iconic cast-iron balconies and bars.

Estimates predict that 60 percent to 80 percent of the city's houses will be destroyed by wind. With the flood damage, most of the people who live in and around New Orleans could be homeless.

"We're talking about in essence having - in the continental United States - having a refugee camp of a million people," van Heerden said.

Aside from Hurricane Andrew, which struck Miami in 1992, forecasters have no experience with Category 5 hurricanes hitting densely populated areas.

Experts have warned about New Orleans' vulnerability for years, chiefly because Louisiana has lost more than a million acres of coastal wetlands in the past seven decades. The vast patchwork of swamps and bayous south of the city serves as a buffer, partially absorbing the surge of water that a hurricane pushes ashore.

They also have warned that the ring of high levees around New Orleans, designed to protect the city from floodwater coming down the Mississippi, will only make things worse in a powerful hurricane.

Katrina is expected to push a 28-foot storm surge against the levees. Even if they hold, water will pour over their tops and begin filling the city as if it were a sinking canoe.

After the storm passes, the water will have nowhere to go.

In a few days, van Heerden predicts, emergency management officials are going to be wondering how to handle a giant stagnant pond contaminated with building debris, coffins, sewage and other hazardous materials, some from the many industrial sites along the Mississippi.

"We're talking about an incredible environmental disaster," van Heerden said.
They've evacuated the city, so deaths should be minimized, but the prospect of a million left homeless, and of New Orleans - a wonderful, completely unique city - being ravaged like this is almost to horrible to think about.

8/28/2005

Tie goes to the runner

This doesn't make sense. NRO's posters are claiming that in baseball, it is not the case that the tie goes to the runner:
Listen to your faithful announcers during a favorite big league team's telecasts or radio play-by-play and it won't be long before a razor-close play at first base is followed by the time-honored statement:

"A tie goes to the runner."

In fact, the baseball rules book says no such thing. Simply flip to the legal language in section 6.05, a portion of which reads:

"A batter is out when, after he hits a fair ball, he or first base is tagged before he touches first base."

Notice the operative word there: "before."

There is nothing indicating that a tie is to be settled either way. You can assume that such dead heats will normally be settled in favor of the runner (a natural human response to the plight of every hitter who has ever stepped to the plate with the deck stacked statistically against him).

But the tie could just as easily be regarded as an out. It depends how coldhearted or warmhearted the first-base umpire might be.
Huh? It's true that the rule doesn't explicitly mention what the correct call is in case of a tie, but it doesn't have to. Rule 6.05 lays out all the ways in which a batter/runner can be called out - one of which is the runner/base being tagged by the fielder before he touches the base. It doesn't say what happens if it's a tie, but it doesn't say what happens if the fielder touches the base after the runner does, for that matter. Because it doesn't need to; it doesn't list the conditions under which a runner/batter is safe, only those under which he is out.

Since a tie isn't one of them, the tie goes to the runner.

Unless I'm missing something.

Guilt by association

Jonah Goldberg smears Cindy Sheehan:
GOOD FOR CINDY! She’s rallied the Nazis to her cause (obviously unintentionally, but it’s interesting how her message resonates in such quarters nonetheless).
I've said it before and I'll say it again: GOPers really, really, really don't want to play the guilt-by-association game.

Jami at Hillary Now suggests putting pressure on NPR to dump Jonah.

Robertson knows his precedent

I can't believe I didn't think to bring this up, but it should be noted that the sentiments expressed by Pat Robertson regarding the possible assassination of Hugo Chavez are very much in line with the history of US policy in Latin America and elsewhere, as this article from Counterpunch explains:
Robertson's original loose-cannon remark gives us such clear insight into how things really work in this world. First of all, his proposal confirms that this precise thing has been done in the past: Allende, Mossadegh, ... [insert list of assassination targets here]­ despite Don Rumsfeld's pious denials. Secondly, he confirms our (the United States') implicit right to petroleum resources wherever they may be found, as shown by his comment about how offing Chavez probably wouldn't disrupt oil deliveries.

What about that list of targets of assassination bids by the CIA, acting on presidential orders that David wants us to insert? We could start with the bid on Chou en Lai's life after the Bandung Conference in 1954; move on to the disposal in 1960 of Iraq's Kassim by the Ba'athists helped into power by the CIA, then to the efforts, ultimately successful in 1961 to kill the Congo's Patrice Lumumba Lumumba, in which the CIA was intimately involved; to the Kennedy years which saw similar implication in the murder of the Diem brothers in Vietnam and the first of many well attested efforts to assassinate Fidel Castro; almost certainly to Omar Torrijos of Panama, downed in an air crash; to the Reagan White House's carefully planned effort to bomb Muammar Q'addafi to death in his encampment in 1986.

In his Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II Bill Blum has a long and interesting list starting in 1949 with Kim Koo, Korean opposition leader, going on to efforts to kill Sukarno, President of Indonesia, Kim Il Sung, Premier of North Korea, Mohammed Mossadegh, Claro M. Recto (the Philippines opposition leadr), Jawaharlal Nehru, Gamal Abdul Nasser, Norodom Sihanouk, José Figueres, Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, Gen. Rafael Trujillo, Charles de Gaulle, Salvador Allende, Michael Manley, Ayatollah Khomeini, the nine comandantes of the Sandinista National Directorate, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, Lebanese Shiite leader (80 people killed in the attempt), Mohamed Farah Aideed, prominent clan leader of Somalia, Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein.

Blogarama - The Blog Directory Sanity is not statistical.