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September 24, 2005

COULD RITA RETURN TO THE GULF? Jeez, I hope not.

TOM MAGUIRE looks at blog wisdom, left and right.

Plus -- John Tierney's last shred of influence!

G.M. ROPER looks at reportage from Iraq, with an assist from Chris Muir.

UPDATE: More criticism of the BBC's reporting, too. Plus an illustration of what you can learn via Google. As Ken Layne famously wrote some years ago, "It's 2001, and we can Fact Check your ass. And you, like many in the Hate America movement, are no longer able to dress your wretched 'reporting' in fiction. We have computers. It is not difficult to Find You Out, dig?"

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE:

Harvard University researchers have found that molecular markers indicating the presence of cancer in the body are readily detected in blood scanned by special arrays of silicon nanowires -- even when these cancer markers constitute only one hundred-billionth of the protein present in a drop of blood. In addition to this exceptional accuracy and sensitivity, the minuscule devices also promise to pinpoint the exact type of cancer present with a speed not currently available to clinicians.

A paper describing the work will appear in October in the journal Nature Biotechnology and is now posted on the journal's web site.

Bring it on.

FIND THE PORK: A Flash game by Sean Gleeson. What's realistic is that, just like real legislation, the ultimate enemy is boredom -- I got 18 in a row, then gave up.

JEFF GOLDSTEIN DECONSTRUCTS a story on the anti-war protests by Jennifer Kerr of the AP. "Perhaps it’s too much to ask that our media simply report on the story without taking sides."

UPDATE: Read the comments, which note some changes in the article, perhaps in response to criticism.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More criticism for Kerr here, with the suggestion that she save her prose stylings for an opinion piece, rather than reporting. Though the difference gets harder to discern . . . .

MORE: More Kerr-analysis here.

MORE STILL: Read this, from a Marine in Iraq, though it's not specifically about Kerr.

And there's this. Heh.

BUSINESS AT THE PRICE OF FREEDOM: An article on technology companies collaborating with the Chinese government:

All the major search engines have given in to Chinese demands to throttle liberty in exchange for access to the Chinese market. Google has removed news listing from its popular news search to publications critical of Chinese policy such as Epoch Times, Voice of America and a dozen other publications. Microsoft has blocked users of its MSN site from using the terms "freedom," "democracy" and other concepts China has designated as "dangerous."

(Via Slashdot).

FORTUNE REPORTS on Alberta's oil sands.

THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE has a Medal of Honor story that's worth reading.

GATEWAY PUNDIT HAS A ROUNDUP ON THE ANTIWAR PROTESTS ("I thought this was going to be an Anti-Iraq War Rally but it's just a hodgepodge of extreme leftist groups taking turns at a microphone."), while reader Brandon Marx emails:

I dont think that the anti-war rally is following the Daily Kos' Do's and Dont's of protests. In 10 minutes I have heard that 1) the war is racist 2) Bush left the black and poor behind in New Orleans and 3) Bush is funding the horrible occupation of the Palestinian people. Also, 100,000? On C-Span I'm seeing a couple thousand tops.

When your advice on moderation comes from Daily Kos, you're in trouble. Especially when you don't follow it . . . .

Free Mumia!

ANOTHER UPDATE: More firsthand photoblogging, from Michelle Malkin, with graphic evidence that people aren't following the Kos advice! (And go here, or just scroll down, for lots more photoblogging links).

MORE: More photoblogging here, and Ian Schwartz has video of Cindy Sheehan defying the Kos advice.

MORE STILL: Bad reviews even at DailyKos: "Watching clips of the Answer Anti-War Rally, all I see are things that I want nothing to do with. . . . I watch this rally and see people basically supporting the Hamas, etc., and the suicide killings of innocent Israelis in cafes, on buses, etc."

Which speaks well for you, but that's who holds these rallies. As I said before, if there were an authentic grassroots anti-war movement, then the rallies wouldn't be dominated by fringers. Reading the comments is interesting, because a lot of people are saying the kind of stuff about A.N.S.W.E.R. that I've been saying for years. That sounds like good news, to me. I support the war, but I'm not afraid of an intellectually and morally serious antiwar movement. We just haven't had one of those.

Some earlier posts on that theme can be found here, here, and here, among many others.

STILL MORE: More photoblogging here.

STRATEGYPAGE:

American casualty rates for September are less than what they were the last few months. Attacks on infrastructure (including oil facilities) and civilians are down as well. Combat operations along the Syrian border, and throughout the Sunni Towns of central Iraq have made it much more difficult for terrorist groups to operate. There is still much support for terrorists among the Sunni Arab population, and many Sunni Arabs believe that, if the Coalition troops can be forced to leave, the Sunni Arab tribes can somehow subdue the Kurds and Shia Arabs, and regain control of the country. But the best opportunity for this was lost when the Sunni Arab dominated army and civil service was disbanded after the 2003 invasion. The army and civil service are now thoroughly Kurdish and Shia Arab, and this annoys the Sunni Arabs a great deal. But the Sunni Arabs have been in charge for so long (centuries, even under three centuries of Turkish domination), that they see it as their right to rule. Many other Sunni Arabs in the region, and many Europeans as well, agree.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: The Belmont Club: "But perhaps the strategic rationale for choosing Iraq versus Saudi Arabia consisted in that Iraq lay along a major fault line in the Muslim world, not simply with respect to religion, but in the case of the Kurds, ethnicity as well. It was the one place where America was guaranteed to find local allies whichever way it turned; it was the last place where the population could easily put aside their differences to oppose the United States. And if the objective were to set the region on its ears, here was the pillar in temple of Dagon around which everything could be sent crashing down. . . . However it began, OIF has unlocked forces that are rocking the foundations of the entire region. Saudi Arabia, for example, cannot but remember how the forces of an Iraqi state stopped just a few hours' drive away from its gleaming cities in 1990, with nothing but the 82nd Airborne Division between the Republican Guard and the Royal Palaces. Now they are torn, truly torn, between their sympathies for the Sunni insurgency and the cold knowledge of its probable consequences. The one thing Arab capitals may fear more than a continuing American presence in Iraq is the possibility of an American withdrawal."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Brad Bettin emails:

SP says disbanding the Sunni-dominated Iraqi army resulted in the new army being heavily Kurdish & Shia ... making it less likely to support a Sunni effort to regain control of Iraq.

Perhaps disbanding the army - widely criticized as a mistake by anti-Bush forces - wasn't such a bad idea after all.

Indeed.

JOHN LITTLE REPORTS that Houston dodged a bullet:

We got some pretty good winds in Midtown but it doesn't look like damage is a problem. Flooding hasn't been a problem either. I've lost satellite but I didn't lose power.

He praises anti-looting efforts, which seem to have been quite successful, and notes that he has some spare beanie-weenies and bottled water. He also observes: "There's no gas in the city, no shops open, and millions of people that might be rushing back. If you're out of town and you can wait a day or two to return please do."

Good advice.

UPDATE: Joe Gandelman has a hurricane news roundup: "The bottom line so far seems to be this: all three levels of government were better prepared for this storm, as they anticipated the worst and made preparations."

ANN ALTHOUSE ON THE BBC: "Unbelievably smug." Indeed.

UPDATE: "Relentless, clueless, and anti-American." Indeed, again.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Ted Nolan points out that even the NPR ombudsman has noticed:

The BBC also seems to portray aspects of Southern culture in a less than flattering light, especially in its interviews with local religious leaders who see Katrina as divine retribution for New Orleans' "sinfulness."

I am sure that the BBC is not inventing these interviews. But the effect is that it sounds less like reporting than like caricature. Public radio listeners likely understand what is going on -- that BBC cultural assumptions about the United States remain mired in a reflex European opposition to American foreign policy. But what comes through the radio sounds mean-spirited and not particularly helpful; it probably evokes knowing glances and smirks among editors and producers back in London.

It's producing knowing glances and smirks elsewhere, too -- just of a different sort!

MORE: One of Ann's commenters writes:

It's very sad to see the severe degradation of the Atlantic relationships in recent years, but what can you do when the bridge is being burned from the other end?

Indeed.

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ED MCNAMARA is photoblogging the pro-war protests in Washington.

Meanwhile, David Adesnik out-reports the Washington Post by noting what A.N.S.W.E.R. really stands for.

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MORE: More photoblogging here -- just keep scrolling.

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MORE STILL: More photoblogging at BitchGirls, showing more Kos rules-violations.

September 23, 2005

HERE'S A ROUNDUP OF GULF COAST NEWS SOURCES. And, commenting on the TV coverage, reader Carlos Myers emails:

I'm starting to get bored with reporters giving us a "front row" seat when a hurricane makes landfall. It was impressive the first couple of times they did it, but it is now old hat and all I can say when I look at the sheer silliness of the melodrama is, "Do we really need this kind of reporting and is their play-by-play reporting really newsworthy?"

No, and no, in my opinion.

THE OLD KATRINA RELIEF DONATIONS LIST is now a Rita relief donations list, I guess. They'll need donations for this one, too.

MORE PROTEST-SPINNING is noted.

THOUGHTS ON TEXAS AND RITA, from a military perspective.

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: A rather lame response from Colorado Senator Ken Salazar. The promise to get Michael Brown fired is pretty funny.

EUGENE VOLOKH HAS questions for the New York Civil Liberties Union.

JON HENKE has thoughts on polarization and the blogosphere.

ARMED CITIZENS are fending off looters in Houston. John Little has photos.

In addition, the Houston Police seem to be taking a harder line than the NOPD did:

Ready said officers would be very visible as long as weather conditions allow.

“We have put out the message that we are not going to tolerate looting and we have increased out presence and visibility,” Ready said.

Good. (Via Shawn Wasson).

A CIVIL LIBERTIES VICTORY:

The United States District Court for the Eastern District in Louisiana today sided with the National Rifle Association (NRA) and issued a restraining order to bar further gun confiscations from peaceable and law-abiding victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

(Via SayUncle).

MATT RUSTLER has taken up my suggestion to Google anti-war protesters mentioned in press accounts and has found, to his shock, that they're not always the starry-eyed naifs that the news reports suggest.

"'Novice' protestor? Not hardly."

UPDATE: Read this, too. And LT SMASH writes: "The anti-war movement is stuck on stupid."

Along, it seems, with its enablers in the press.

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Matt Duffy continues to blog his ongoing efforts to get a straight answer on pork from Georgia Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, and Rep. Tom Price.

Stay tuned. And if you're in Georgia, why not give 'em a call yourself (he provides the contact information) -- maybe you'll do better.

UPDATE: Reader David McCune emails:

I don’t think Republicans realize what they are dealing with here. There is now a margin-of-victory-sized block of voters that is up for grabs. I never thought I would say it, but if Nancy Pelosi is the only congressional leader who can dial back government, then maybe I need to re-think my party allegiance. At this point, I believe many small-government conservative are wondering whether the budget might not grow less with a Republican minority trying to slow down a Democrat majority, rather than our current majority trying to outspend the Democrat minority.

Yes, I think that they're behind the curve on this, and it's very risky for them. All the Democrats need is a candidate who's not John Kerry, and they've got a shot.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Blogging gets results! Matt Duffy has gotten not one, but two calls back.

MORE: Reader Rob Beile emails:

I just sent this to my congressman, John Shimkus...

When then Gov. Clinton lied to the country about smoking pot by saying "...I didn't inhale", I wasn't angry that he lied to me. I was angry about the way he insulted my intelligence.

By the same token, when Mr. Delay says there's no pork to cut....

Indeed.

AUSTIN BAY reports on what's going on within Texas Emergency Management circles.

RON SILVER'S NEW DOCUMENTARY ON THE U.N. IS OUT:



"Broken Promises" has at its root the betrayed vision of an idealistic youth from the Lower East Side. Silver grew up in a modest Jewish neighborhood, and his way to escape his parochial world, where everyone was defined by ethnicity and race, he says, was to go to the U.N. and just wander around. . . .

There are interviews with peacekeepers on the failures of peacekeeping, including Canadian Gen. Romeo Dallaire, who wrote the famously ignored "genocide memo" months before nearly 1 million Rwandans were killed, in which he begged for reinforcements. Rwandan survivor Eugenie Mukeshimana appears 10 years later with the daughter she gave birth to in a container while hiding from machete-wielding Hutu killers. Former U.N. translator Hasan Nuhanovic describes how U.N. officers in Srebrenica ordered him to tell his family himself that they must leave the U.N. haven to face death by the Serbs.

One of the most stirring comments comes from Kenneth Cain, a civilian peacekeeper who co-wrote a book titled "Emergency Sex" about what Cain views as U.N. betrayals. It is liberals like him who should be most aggrieved, he says, because it is their ideals that have been most harshly sundered.

Indeed.

SIGH. New Orleans re-floods.

JEFF GOLDSTEIN HAS FURTHER THOUGHTS on intentionalism and interpretation.

THE 2006 AALS MEETING, previously scheduled for New Orleans, has been moved to Washington, DC. It will center on the Marriott Wardman Park hotel.

HUGH HEWITT IS OFFERING ADVICE to DSCC staffers.

HOG WILD: MICHELLE MALKIN launches a salvo at Alaska Republican porkmeister Don Young.

Meanwhile, John Tabin observes:

For the first time in a long time, fiscal restraint is both good policy and good politics. To turn his approval rating numbers around, Bush needs to shore up restless conservatives, and get behind -- or better yet, in front of -- calls for spending cuts to offset hurricane reconstruction. . . .

Bush has made some rhetorical glances toward spending cuts; last Friday, when he ruled out a tax increase to pay for post-hurricane reconstruction, he spoke of "cutting unnecessary spending." But if he and his party are going to get credit for turning toward fiscal discipline, he needs to be more visible on this issue.

Yes, he does. Jonah Goldberg is less optimistic, though: "The porkbusters fight is fun now, but not since early cave men tried to train grizzly bears to give them tongue-baths has a project seemed more obviously doomed to end in disappointment. Expecting Congress — of either party — to give back pork which has already been approved and passed into law is like expecting crack whores to give refunds days after services have been rendered."

UPDATE: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jim Wooten signs on to PorkBusters: "Folks are invited to identify pork projects in our own backyards that could be delayed or scrapped altogether to help fund Katrina costs. The Web site is: truthlaidbear.com/porkbusters.php. It's a sacrifice to a handful of Georgians, I know, but I'm offering up the commuter rail line to Lovejoy. That'll free up $106 million for the Gulf Coast."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Daniel Drezner starts out pessimistic, but ends on a more optimistic note. I'm certainly OK on pushing back (or abolishing) the Medicare prescription drug benefit, and while I'd normally favor moon colonies I'm not at all convinced that NASA's plan will give us what we need.

THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE casts a critical eye on press coverage of this weekend's protests. And here are some well-thought-out dos and don'ts for protesters from the Daily Kos. Best one: "Don't use the slogan 'No Blood For Oil!': Face it. The bromide is tired, used."

Heh. Indeed.

UPDATE: Read this, too.

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Reader David Nadle emails:

I'm watching CNBC "Squawk Box" this morning, and they are doing segments called "Pork Busters" with accompanying graphics. They're showing video & stills of particular instances of pork, naming the state and it's representatives, and inviting them on the show to "defend their pork." The latest spot was about a vintage Packard museum in Ohio.

I think this is the briefest interval yet for good ideas from the blogosphere to hit the MSM.

Cool. Let's hope for more of that. I mentioned the Packard museum in an NPR interview yesterday; it seems particularly hard to defend.

SPINNING THE PROTESTS: I recommend that readers google the names of people mentioned in the press accounts of this weekend's antiwar protests. I looked up Brian Becker, who's mentioned in this Washington Post story by Petula Dvorak. To be fair, Dvorak at least mentions the ANSWER connection, but a quick Google search of Becker's name finds that he's been praising the "Iraqi resistance" and denigrating U.S. troops since the beginning. It would appear that he's not so much "antiwar" as just on the other side.

It would be nice if Dvorak's article, and others, made that clearer, instead of offering the sanitized treatment of ANSWER that it does. The Post, however, has a history of whitewashing these folks.

For those who have forgotten, here's some background on A.N.S.W.E.R. and its related groups by David Corn. Here's some more, and here's Michael Lerner's piece on antisemitism in the antiwar movement, written after he was banned from an antiwar rally at A.N.S.W.E.R.'s behest.

If there were an authentic antiwar movement in this country, it wouldn't have to rely on the services of fringe groups like A.N.S.W.E.R. to provide organization and cadre.

UPDATE: Here's more on Becker from INDCJournal, including a photo from an earlier protest.

Meanwhile PostWatch asks:

Is the Washington Post simply incapable of accurately describing ANSWER, one of the chief organizers of this Saturday's protest? . . .

Dvorak writes of "many causes" that antiwar protesters have marched for, but leaves out the really interesting ones.

Why can't Dvorak do a little digging on the connection between ANSWER and the Stalinist Workers World Party (WWP)? . . .

If some bloggers can find this in an old Michael Kelly column, why can't the combined staff of the Washington Post?

Why, indeed? Read the whole thing. And read this related post, too.

And there's more criticism of the Dvorak article over at Newsbusters.

LOTS MORE HURRICANE NEWS at the WSJ's Stormtracker page, which is free to nonsubscribers.

RITA'S LITTLEST VICTIM: Soon to be a very special episode of Oprah, no doubt.

NOT ENOUGH GAS: Evacuees are running out, though National Guard fuel trucks are on their way. Some people left without enough fuel in their tanks, but mostly it just seems that people burned it up while stuck in traffic. Notes for the future: Obviously, the "contraflow" needs to start earlier, and prepositioning gas trucks along the route is probably a good idea.

The amount of traffic seems worse than expected, with more than twice as many people on the road as were anticipated. Houston blogger Bill Dyer blames local media: "Katrina + news media hysteria = lots of folks in non-flood-prone areas of Houston, who otherwise would have hunkered down altogether or at least waited until tomorrow to evac, instead hitting the road yesterday afternoon, last night, and today = avoidable degree of gridlock. IMHO, local media have done a very bad job of distinguishing between 'mandatory evacuation' areas (truly coastal counties, storm-surge areas) and elsewhere. . . . And ordinary folks are hyper-receptive to the hype because of Katrina. . . . And thus, when amplified by the media megaphones and imprecision in the media's reporting, Mayor White saying anything at all about evacuation by anyone comes across to most people like 'RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!'"

Nobody wants to be accused of downplaying this one, of course.

Meanwhile, delays at the Houston airport resulted from TSA employees abandoning their posts. ("White, a Democrat, blamed the 'failure to show up at work by (110) essential personnel of the federal TSA.'") So much for the notion that federalizing airport security would professionalize it, I guess.

UPDATE: Reader Melissa Dorman emails:

As someone who recently evacuated from Houston, I can tell you the hysteria and overwhelming rush to get out was too much for the transportation infrastructure. My family lives in Clear Lake, which is southeast of the city of Houston, just North of NASA's Johnson Space Center. We're considered a high flood risk, being East of I-45 and South of the Sam Houston Beltway (we're 5-10 minutes from Galveston Bay). As such, we faced a mandatory evacuation for a Cat 4 or 5. Having filled up the wife's Suburban with gas days before, and gotten the house ready as can be, we headed off with 2 kids, 2 dogs and 3 fish that the 2 kids would not leave behind. When we left at 4:20 a.m. yesterday morning we knew things would be bad as far as traffic. Rather than joining the parking lot on I-45, which took 8 hours to drive from our location to before the North beltway on 45 (still in Houston!), we decided to use my new Microsoft GPS software and hardware and hit the back roads. Almost exactly 12 hours later, we arrived at my sister's house in Dallas, where I'm e-mailing you from.

A few points of observation:

1. The evacuation routes and highways are incapable of moving the number of people necessary from the Texas coast, and in particular a large storm. Yes, it was stupid not to order the contra-flow to open for one day, but my guess is it took a while to make sure the southbound lanes were clear and all entrance ramps closed. Coordinating this many gov't workers isn't easy on a good day. As far as roads, we simply need more. To hell with the environmentalists that say concrete doesn't solve anything, simple physics will show that more roads allows more cars to move. There is insufficient road capability on a good traffic day in Houston (an oxymoron, I know), and I'll be willing to pay for new places to drive. Most of the roads currently in place were built during the 80s for traffic from the 70s, and can't keep up with the population growth of the region.

2. I'm sure the Republican governor will quickly be blamed, while the Democratic Mayor of Houston will be seen as a hero fighting against the state. Now I must be the first to give Mayor White his kudos in handling the Katrina refugees--he and County Judge Eckels did a fantastic job in opening the city and Astrodome (the County's baby). Then Mayor White's liberal tendencies took over and he proposed paying private Houstonians a per diem to keep New Orleans refugees. This asinine proposal met a quick death at city council, given that our city purportedly can't pay its bills now. Even though we housed a couple we'd never met from New Orleans right after Katrina hit (they were friends of our neighbors who had too many people), I wouldn't have thought to ask for money--it was the right (dare I say Christian) thing to do. Oh, and their race didn't matter to this evil Republican.

3. For people who were ordered to get out of Galveston and Southeast Houston, we had no choice, and the media-whipped scarefest (helps those ratings!) only exacerbated the traffic nightmares. That said, you noted that nobody wants to be at the end of the media's pointed finger ("you should have warned people...you didn't do enough"), from a practical point of view, it makes things worse for everyone. Back to my Microsoft program, this allowed me to route a plan on back roads, thus relieving pressure on I-10 and I-45. We headed Northeast on the Beltway, hit I-10 toward Beaumont. By 10:30 a.m., we had not even gotten 1/2 way there (an hour drive on a regular day), so I decided to take the first open exit and head North. EVERY gas station on I-10 was out yesterday morning by 9:00 a.m., but miraculously, the stations 15 miles off the freeway had gas--must be something about supply and demand. We headed North & East--away from the mass of Houston/Galveston evacuees--for some time, until we hit a Texas Dept. of Public Safety roadblock on a Northbound road. The DPS officer simply said the "road is closed" without explanation, and told us to head BACK to Beaumont and join the parking lot/freeway. I asked him why the road was closed (locals could still use it) and that it made no sense to head back and add to the problem (I was 30 miles North of I-10) at this point, but he said he was just "told" the clear road due north was closed. I explained that he was in essence risking my family's life, since stuck on the road with a 20+ foot flood surge, would be suicide. He didn't care and when I said it was idiotic to shut down good roads to force people onto a jammed evacuation routes, he said what was idiotic was to have to talk with people like me. I can count the number of people I've hated in my life on 1 hand and he's one--stupid, inflexible and unwilling to do SOMETHING (call, just move aside to let people go, etc.) to help take people to safety. My wife tried to keep me calm, and I decided to use the GPS to find an alternate route. We went east 1.5 miles, headed northwest on a dirt road (luckily on the GPS program!) and then hit the "closed" road with no problems about 1 mile north of the idiot DPS officer. No breaking the law, no roadblock at that point, and I was on my way North again.

The sad thing is that the back roads North were almost entirely deserted. Only when we hit the "official" evacuation route would we hit miles-long gridlock, which we quickly used the GPS program to get off and go through the small towns of East Texas. We found gas, food and incredibly nice people in all these small towns, and made it to Dallas (eventually coming in I-20 from the East) yesterday afternoon. When we arrived my wife said the program paid for itself and then some. I am no Bill Gates fan but I must say it was a life saver and stress reliever.

Sorry for the disjointed e-mail since from Sun-Weds. I only got 5 hours sleep.

It's very hard to move that many people at once, and our infrastructure isn't designed for it. I think, though, that we should take these considerations more into account in the future.

MICKEY KAUS:

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

A: Of course it does.

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

A: Of course it would!

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

A.: Not yet.

Heh.

PORK PROGRESS:

A former candidate for the U.S. House is asking Bozeman to give up $4 million in federal funding for a parking garage so it can instead be used to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

In an e-mail sent to the Bozeman City Commission, Tracy Velázquez of Bozeman said that given the scale of the disaster, she doesn't think the city can in good conscious keep the money when it is desperately needed elsewhere. "I think every city in America should look at what they can postpone or do without for now," she said in an interview Friday.

Good for her.

UPDATE: The Washington Times editorializes:

If fiscal business-as-usual was dangerous before Katrina, then in a post-Katrina world it is undeniably disastrous. Yet, no less than House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was initially in denial. In the wake of the $62.3 billion in emergency appropriations for Katrina, Mr. DeLay said that the Republican-controlled Congress had already removed the fat from the federal budget. "My answer to those who want to offset [Katrina] spending is, 'Sure, bring me the offsets,' " he said. "I will be glad to do it, but no one is able come up with any yet."

To its credit, the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC) accepted Mr. DeLay's challenge. This week the RSC released a detailed 23-page report identifying and explaining a menu of more than 100 specific budget offsets that total nearly $1 trillion over 10 years, including $102 billion for 2006 and nearly $400 billion over the first five years. . . . Back to you, Mr. Delay.

Indeed. And, of course, we'll soon be seeing Rita relief, too. The evacuation seems to be better-handled this time around, but the property damage will nonethless be enormous.

MICHAEL YON has posted another dispatch from Mosul.

September 22, 2005

N.Z. BEAR is looking for a volunteer to help clean up the porkbusters pages. If you're interested, let me know.

AIRBUS ISSUES? "The problems with JetBlue Flight 292 marked the seventh time that the front landing gear of an Airbus jet has locked at a 90-degree angle, forcing pilots to land commercial airliners under emergency conditions, according to FAA records. . . . The locking of the nose gear on Airbus jets is one of several recurring problems with the planes' nose landing gear."

TOM BEVAN: "There's nothing quite like getting your enemy's propaganda served up unfiltered in a major American daily newspaper."

We're used to it by now.

UPDATE: "The groups that will gather in Washington DC for a major anti-war protest this weekend have financial ties to major leftist fundraisers like George Soros and Theresa Heinz Kerry, and beyond them to communist organizations and radical left-wing groups, the Washington Times reports today. The conduits for the rallies appear to be the ubiquitous front groups International ANSWER and the UPJ."

But the press reports will say that the marchers are ordinary Americans, not MoveOn and A.N.S.W.E.R. astroturf. But then, they said that about Cindy Sheehan, too.

UH OH: "As the death toll rises from an outbreak in Indonesia of avian flu, health officials and business executives are warning firms across Asia to start preparing for a possible pandemic of the disease."

INDEED: "Can't be fun being a spokesman for the New Orleans police department these days." Especially in the face of the looting-and-robbing accusations.

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Here's a response from Congressman George Miller. His constituent is unsatisfied.

UPDATE: Investor's Business Daily:

People worry: How do we repair hurricane damage, fund a war and expand domestic programs all at the same time? The answer: prioritize. Take a machete to the unnecessary stuff — which Congress should have done long ago.

We've come up with our own list (left), borrowing from various sources. All are programs or projects that could be deleted with little economic disruption but with maximum fiscal impact.

The typical family now spends $22,000 a year on federal government and has serious doubts about where it all goes. Seventy-one percent of Americans, according to budget analyst Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation, "are more bothered by how their taxes are spent than by the amount of taxes they pay." . . .

Some in Congress are already starting to look more closely for savings in the $2.6 trillion budget for 2006. Other voices — including those of the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, Citizens Against Government Waste and a fast-growing blogger group called Porkbusters — have weighed in with many suggestions.

Don't let Tom DeLay and other discombobulated politicians fool you. It can be done. If we can get out $200 billion without breaking a sweat, imagine what Congress can do if it rolls up its sleeves and really gets down to work.

Indeed.

ANOTHER UPDATE: "What happens here is important, not just for recovery efforts in the Gulf, but for the future of conservatism and the relationship of fiscal conservatives with the GOP. If the Republican majority can't prioritize spending now, there is no reason to believe it ever will."

BRENDAN LOY: "I don't know if they can read blogs in heaven... but I'll miss you, Sarah. We all will."

Of course they can read blogs in heaven. And write them. Otherwise, how could it be heaven?

JEFF JARVIS: Do not build it. Not here.

BILL QUICK:

Yes. I'll be on pins and needles waiting to watch a tv series about a woman President written by Eleanor Clift, Gwen Ifill, and Helen Freaking Thomas.

How about a series about a President who actually has brains and leadership qualities, written by Jonah Goldberg, Roger Simon and, well, me?

I'd watch that.

A TALE OF TWO CITIES: Rand Simberg thinks that Katrina and Rita offer an opportunity for a controlled social experiment.

PERSONNEL PROBLEMS for Al Qaeda.

POLITICAL BLOGGERS DEMAND SPEECH FREEDOMS: You'd think the First Amendment would take care of this, but, you know, "eternal vigilance" and all that.

My advice: Tar and feathers futures -- buy!

SCHUMER'S COLSON? Well, some people are calling him "the new Nixon!"

PAVEMENT MARKINGS as an alternative to red-light cameras:

New research sponsored by Florida's Department of Transportation suggests a number of effective engineering alternatives can reduce red light running. Using an advanced driving simulator to monitor the reactions of ordinary drivers, University of Central Florida researchers concluded that improving street markings near intersections reduced red light running by 74 percent without increasing the likelihood of rear end collisions.

"The pavement marking countermeasure is a low-technology and inexpensive solution to reduce the number of motorists that run red lights," the study concluded.

On the other hand, it's not a source of revenue.

UPDATE: By comparison, traffic cameras increase accidents according to this Virginia study. But they also increase revenue!

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: An email from Senator Coburn. "I can only assume that the good Senator from Oklahoma and his staff have been paying attention to the porkbuster efforts in the blogosphere, and that's how my name ended up on an email list. I find this very encouraging. Keep it up!"

Yes, do!

JEFF JACOBY offers a very nice valedictory to Arthur Chrenkoff:

The success of the series, Chrenkoff told me, took him by surprise. ‘‘I couldn’t believe that no one had done it before,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m usually not a pioneer. ... But there was obviously a niche there that needed filling.’’

That ‘‘niche’’ — a widespread interest in the things going right in Iraq — was obvious. So why didn’t Big Media fill it?

Why, indeed? Here's more from StrategyPage:

Other bloggers, like Michael Yon, have been providing coverage not seen in the media. Some of the military commands are also reaching out to the blogosphere as well, bypassing the legacy media.

The silent majority these days not only is willing to speak out, it is gaining the means to do so via talk radio and the internet. And the vocal minority - particularly the legacy media - is finding out that their volume is not drowning out things that were ignored in past wars.

That matters.

MORE ON PORK: A reader sends this from today's CongressDaily PM:

Seeking to assuage their political base, White House officials met with House Republican conservatives today to discuss ideas for offsetting the spiraling cost of hurricane relief and reconstruction. According to sources familiar with the meeting, OMB Director Bolten met with Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, the Republican Study Committee chairman, Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, who heads up the group's budget task force, and Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona. On Wednesday, the group unveiled spending cut options dubbed "Operation Offset," that were quickly praised by conservative spending watchdog groups. But House Republican leaders were generally lukewarm to the plan, and administration officials did not comment. The White House meeting demonstrates the Bush administration's concern with eroding support among conservatives because of the explosion in federal spending on its watch.

They should be concerned. I'd advise them to get in front of this issue before it's too late.

MARK TAPSCOTT: "Hurricane Katrina was America's worst natural disaster, and it may also generate the biggest federal boondoggle ever — unless President Bush moves now to apply the FOIA to every tax dollar spent rebuilding."

Transparency is key.

HERE'S MORE on the Iraqi oil trust idea.

IN THE MAIL: James Patterson's Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush vs. Gore.

SOME VERMONT PORK identified in the Rutland Herald. The PorkBusters campaign is mentioned.

UPDATE: Bill Hobbs notes some Tennessee pork: "As politicians look for federal spending to cut in order to pay for rebuilding the Gulf Coast after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Lipscomb University - where I was enrolled for three-plus years back in the mid-1980s - ought to step up and give back the $3 million it is getting from the government to build a parking garage."

ANOTHER UPDATE: More Tennessee pork.

serenity14.jpg

MOVIE SEEKS BLOG REVIEWERS: The PR folks for the forthcoming Joss Whedon (Buffy, Angel, etc.) science fiction movie Serenity are inviting bloggers to advance screenings. (List of cities here via an Excel document that didn't quite format right, but it's legible). It's free, and all they ask is that you blog something, good or bad, about it.

If you're interested, email 'em at rsvp@gracehillmedia.com and they'll put you on the list. I'll be going to a screening in Knoxville.

UPDATE: More legible list of screenings here. And here's a Daniel Drezner post about the trailer.

UPDATE: They're full now (Friday p.m.) so if you haven't emailed 'em you've missed your chance. Apparently the blog-response was phenomenal.

serenity10.jpg

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Heh. Indeed.

PORK UPDATE: "Senate OKs Coburn Measure to Shine Light on Pork; Now House, Bush Approvals Needed to Become Law." Sounds like the ball is in the Bush/Delay court.

Uh oh.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL'S ONLINE STORM TRACKER is now free.

PORK UPDATE:

Western Colorado’s chunk of the $284 billion highway bill that Congress passed this year is necessary for the region’s development, U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., said Wednesday. . . .

“I’m not willing to cut any of the projects,” said Salazar, also a member of the Democratic Blue Dog caucus, which opposes Congressional spending on credit and justification for pet projects.

Obviously a Tom Delay fan. Meanwhile, a challenge to Republicans:

But the real debate isn’t happening in Congress as a whole – it is unfolding within the Republican Party. The debate will shape the future of the GOP. If Republicans – the one-time party of small government and fiscal restraint -- cannot support spending cuts now, then they will officially signal their abandonment of fiscal conservatism, a once valued part of the Republican platform. . . .

Bloggers, too have latched onto this theme. A coalition of bloggers have launched a website called “porkbusters.” The site lists every member of the House and Senate by the name and has a column next to the name for “committed cuts,” or sacrifices. Currently, the only member of Congress listed with a “committed cut” is House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Many Republican members of Congress must be asking themselves, “Is Nancy Pelosi the best fiscal conservative this Congress has to offer?”

Heh. Indeed.

RITA UPDATE: "4:00am Update - Roads still packed, lines still long, Rita still a bitch."

Some forecasts have the storm sliding up toward Louisiana. There's also this: "I am about 60 miles inland and they're predicting 120 mph winds here. Building codes only require the homes be built for 75 mph winds."

That seems inadequate for, well, anywhere.

CHESTER LOOKS AT new horizons in war reporting. I don't know why we're not seeing this caliber of reporting and analysis from Big Media.

DARFUR UPDATE:

Darfur rebels claim that soldiers and pro-government tribal militia are increasing their raids on villages, killing, raping and stealing as they do. At least 30 villagers have been killed in these raids in the last week. The government denies any responsibility. The UN and AU observers confirm that there has been an increase in violence in Darfur in the last month, but has a hard time confirming specific claims by the rebels. The government blames all the violence on rebels or bandits. There are bandits operating in the region, but pro-government militias, and soldiers, have been spotted attacking non-Arab civilians as well.

I still think we should send the rebels guns and trainers.

MICKEY KAUS: "It's as if Gary Hart and Bill Clinton (and Theodore Lowi) had never existed, as if 'constituency liberals' like Mondale and Harkin had been routinely winning the presidency while Carter/Clinton 'policy liberals' were the rare Democrats who'd lost, as opposed to the only Democrats who'd won."

September 21, 2005

HERE'S VIDEO of the JetBlue emergency landing. Here, too.

PORKBUSTERS ON CNN: Ian Schwartz has the video.

RAY KURZWEIL'S BOOK comes out tomorrow. Here's a post on Kurzweil by Tyler Cowen ("It is no longer intellectually acceptable not to know his major arguments."). And here's a review from Kirkus. And here's my interview of Kurzweil.

UPDATE: More thoughts from Matthew Yglesias. And from Kevin Drum. (I liked this comment, which echoes this column.) The blogosphere is certainly buzzing.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More blogosphere buzz here: "The book might alternatively be titled 'The Modern Futurist Consensus: a Review' . . . My own two cents thrown into the ring say that the class of future portrayed in TSiN is something of a foregone conclusion. It's quite likely that we'll all be wildly, humorously wrong about the details of implementation, culture and usage, but - barring existential catastrophe or disaster - the technological capabilities discussed in TSiN will come to pass." There's much more.

NO ACTUAL SPECIFICS in response to her porkbuster questions, but Sissy Willis grades her elected representatives (Sens. Kennedy & Kerry, Rep. Capuano) on form. Grades are mixed.

Minnesota reader Monte Myer emails:

I just got off the phone with Senator Coleman's office (Minnesota). We have 9 Million in pork going to bike trails. The only thing they said was that it was virtually impossible to rescind something like this (it takes 2/3rds vote). He didn't sound that interested, but said he would pass on my message to the Senator.

Not much of a response. I was hoping for better.

Indeed. More of these as they come in -- please put "Pork Response" in your subject line, and please don't use that subject for anything but reports of what your Senators / Congressperson said on this.

Meanwhile, N.Z. Bear posts some thoughts on what we're trying to do: "a fiscal 'Broken Windows' policy."

If you've come to this late, the background is here.

UPDATE: Reader Pat Clancy emails:

I called my Senators (Coleman / Dayton) and Congressman (Oberstar)earlier today. Not one had any position on the isssue of "re-evaluating spending in light of the recent hurricane" but would pass on my comments to the respective represenative. My feeling in speaking with each office was one of ambivalance.

I can imagine.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here.

JOHN LITTLE is hurricane-blogging from Houston, and plans to keep it up as long as he's able.

THE HANDBOOK FOR BLOGGERS AND CYBER-DISSIDENTS IS OUT!

MY TECHCENTRALSTATION COLUMN has inspired a discussion of space elevators vs. NASA's current plans on Slashdot. The "elevator music" comments quickly pall, but this one is good.

TANGLED BANK, the science blog carnival, is up.

92105sm.jpg

HEH.

TRAFFIC CAMERAS IN KNOXVILLE: I think this is a terrible idea.

UPDATE: Maybe I shouldn't say that!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's how it worked in Hawaii:

Everybody didn't like something about traffic cameras.

Invasion of privacy. Zero tolerance. Pay-per-ticket. A presumption of guilt. No police involvement. Rising insurance rates. Speed traps. Bureaucratic bungling. Poor public relations. Political posturing. City and state bickering. Thousands and thousands of tickets that didn't pass legal muster.

What went wrong?

Take your pick.

In the end it was a combination of all those people and things that doomed the van cams.

Gov. Ben Cayetano ordered an end to the program last week amid increasing signs that the courts and state Legislature were about to pull the plug anyway.

The program, which was launched in early December, had noble aims: use advances in technology to slow traffic, reduce accidents and save lives, and free police officers for other duties.

In just more than four months, however, it became possibly the most hated public policy initiative in Hawai'i history, almost uniformly disliked, even by those who thought it actually worked.

I'll have to send a copy to the Knoxville City Council.

FOLLOWING UP MY EARLIER POST, WALT MOSSBERG has a review of emergency gadgets in the WSJ today. (Free link).

I'M SUPPOSED TO BE ON PUBLIC RADIO'S MARKETPLACE program between 6 & 6:30 Eastern, talking about PorkBusters. Listen live at the link.

AUSTIN BAY has more on oil shale.

A HURRICANE RITA ROUNDUP with some interesting photographs.

TIM NOAH VS. LINDSEY GRAHAM: Eugene Volokh referees.

THE MORE YOU TIGHTEN YOUR GRIP, the more readers will slip through your fingers.

PORK UPDATE:

Today Alabama Senator Richard Shelby (Republican) said he would be willing to give up some of his allocated Federal monies for pork projects in his state to help fund recovery efforts from Hurricane Katrina. Which raises the question whether California Congressman Adam Schiff (Democrat-29th District) would be willing to shift funds as well?

Nancy Pelosi is!

House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco said Tuesday she was willing to return to the federal Treasury $70 million designated for San Francisco projects in the new highway and transportation bill and use the money to help pay for Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts.

But Tom Delay (same story) isn't:

Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said that while he would consider cutting all other domestic discretionary spending to raise the tens of billions of dollars needed for Katrina relief, it was a bad idea to take money from transportation projects.

His suburban Houston district is slated to get $64.4 million under the bill, and DeLay has said that he brought home an additional $50 million for freeway projects in the metropolitan area. He also helped secure $324 million in funding credits for Houston's light rail construction.

Neither is Alaska Rep. Don "bridge to nowhere" Young:

“Kiss my ear!” Rep. Don Young, an Alaska Republican, told a Fairbanks newspaper reporter when asked whether he would return the $223 million he “earmarked” for a bridge so that residents of Ketchikan won’t have to pay $6 to ride a ferry to get to the airport. Young is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

You can't make a silk purse out of a pig's ear, I guess.

But Rep. Mike Pence is looking like the hero of this story so far:

Indiana Congressman Mike Pence is leading a call for cuts in the federal budget that would match the spending for hurricane relief. "Operation Offset" is the name of the effort.

The details were made public on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning. The 23 pages of proposed cuts in the federal budget come from 110 members of Congress who belong to the Conservative Republican Study Committee chaired by Mike Pence.

Bring it on! But if people aren't willing to support cuts in their own districts, they're not going to be taken seriously.

UPDATE: Pelosi backpedals:

But by the afternoon she had backtracked, saying she wouldn't give up all of the $128.6 million going to her district. She said the $58.8 million slated to retrofit the Golden Gate Bridge to protect it from earthquakes is a safety issue too important to forgo.

That might be a fair cop, actually, though it looks bad. Still, her colleagues need to be stepping up. And perhaps she can find some other pork to take its place, if she looks hard . . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: John McCain wants to ditch the hugely expensive prescription drug benefit: "'We’ve got to go back and look at the Medicare prescription drug bill. It was supposed to cost $400 billion. It’s now up to $700 billion.' McCain added, 'It was a bad idea to start with.'" Follow the link for an alternative proposal.

MORE: Hmm. Nancy Pelosi may not have backpedaled at all, despite what the story says above. Reader Jeff Barron emails:

I'm absolutely not a fan of Nancy Pelosi, but I think you inadvertantly do her an injustice with your "Pelosi backpedals" update. The original cite says that Pelosi will give back $70 million. The update (which states that she's "backpedal[ing]") says that Pelosi won't give back $58.8m of the $128.6m going to her district, because its directed to GG safety retrofitting. (As you suggest, sounds fair.) 128.6 m. - 58.8 m. = about 70 m.

Yeah, looking at both the stories that makes sense to me. Either I'm missing something, or the charge of backtracking in the second article is wrong.

RECORD REENLISTMENTS from Idaho National Guardsmen in Iraq. Clayton Cramer sarcastically notes that "things must be bad in Iraq!"

It is interesting that the troops seem consistently more positive than the press.

SOME PROGRESS ON OIL:

Eight U.S. companies have filed applications with the federal government to lease land in Colorado for oil-shale development, a sign that oil producers again are ready to gamble some 23 years after the last boom went bust.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the arm of the Interior Department that manages federal lands, has received 10 drilling applications, including three from Shell and one each from Exxon Mobil and Chevron. The companies want to develop technologies to extract oil from shale on 160-acre federal tracts in Rio Blanco County in northwestern Colorado.

The government said it will tread carefully, since it doesn't want to repeat the oil shale boom-and-bust cycles of the 1970s and 1980s that almost devastated the Western Slope's economy.

But with crude oil above $66 a barrel at the close of trading Tuesday, oil shale is a promising alternative to crude. The Green River shale deposits in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming are estimated to contain 1.5 trillion to 1.8 trillion barrels of oil, and while not all of it can be recovered, half that amount is nearly triple the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia.

Long term strategic plan for the United States: Get the price of oil up high enough that oil shale competes with Middle East oil. Then put Middle East oil producers out of business, or just let them run out of oil. Oil-funded islamoterror then goes out of business, too, and the Middle East goes back to being an unimportant backwater.

I'LL ALWAYS REMEMBER a place called hope.

LT SMASH has thoughts on Katrina, Rita, and the punditocracy.

T.S. ELIOT WROTE that there's no greater treason, than to do the right thing for the wrong reason. In fact, however, that's often the best we can hope for, which is why I'm still glad that Harvard will be allowing military recruiters on campus, even if it is because of the Solomon Amendment and not some native patriotic impulse.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: So people want me to follow up on my earlier disaster-preparedness posts with lots of recommendations, but I don't have anything all that new. But for those interested, here's a pretty comprehensive list of stuff by Sarah Mankowski.

There's more to preparation than buying stuff, though, and you might want to acquire some training via the Red Cross, FEMA, or the Citizens' Corps. And this PDF booklet from the LAFD, though focusing on earthquakes, has a lot of useful knowledge.

It's useful to have the right stuff handy, but you also need the right knowledge, and mindset. That doesn't come from a catalog.

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: I think the idea is developing more and more momentum. Here's a Wall Street Journal editorial:

The idea of a pork-for-reconstruction swap had already been denounced as "moronic" by a spokesman for Don Young of Alaska, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee and proud father of the now-infamous $223 million "bridge to nowhere" near Ketchikan. Since then the White House and Congressional Republican leadership have been acting as if the cost of Katrina relief should have no impact on the course of an administration that has presided over the fastest growth in discretionary spending since Lyndon Johnson.

But thankfully, a grassroots Internet campaign and a handful of House GOP conservatives have refused to give up on the idea that spending cuts should be found to defray the estimated $200 billion federal price tag for hurricane relief. In the Senate, John McCain is proposing a similar pork-for-Katrina swap.

The Internet campaign picks up on the idea of revisiting the earmarks in the Highway Bill. A Web site called Porkbusters (www.truthlaidbear.com/porkbusters.php) helpfully lists these projects by state and directs readers to the appropriate Representatives and Senators to ask what they would cut. Around the country a flood of letters to local newspapers has echoed the theme.

And if revisiting the Highway Bill is too much to ask, how about a one-year moratorium on all non-defense earmarks for fiscal 2006? Rep. Ron Lewis (R., Kentucky) proposes just that in a "Dear Colleague" letter dated Monday. Other suggestions include across-the-board spending cuts at federal agencies of 2.5 cents on the dollar and delaying the introduction of the Medicare drug benefit by a year. We should be hearing more today when members of the House Republican Study Committee -- led by consistent spending hawks such as Mike Pence, Jeb Hensarling and Jeff Flake -- announce "Operation Offset" and a list of specific options to find savings in the budget.

The campaign also got another mention in the Washington Post, courtesy of Howard Kurtz. And Mark Tapscott continues to round up other reactions.

And Leslie Paige of Citizens Against Government Waste wants some help from the blogosphere:

CCAGW is considering bringing in grassroots folks from districts all over the country who have publicly decried or offered to reject their own pork-barrel projects in order for those dollars to be redirected to Katrina Relief.

We've pointed her to some folks, but if you're interested send me an email with "CAGW" in the subject line and I'll forward it on.

No word, so far, from my congressman, Jimmy Duncan.

TRADING TASTES: My brother's new book is out. Congratulations, bro!

JOHN TIERNEY ON DISASTER RELIEF:

I don't think Washington needs any more czars. But if President Bush feels compelled to put someone in charge of rebuilding the Gulf Coast, let me suggest a name: Lee Scott.

Scott is the chief executive of Wal-Mart, one of the few institutions to improve its image here after Katrina sent a 15-foot wave across the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. If you mention the Red Cross or FEMA to people in Slidell, you hear rants about help that didn't arrive and phone lines that are always busy. If you mention state or national politicians, you hear obscenities.

But if you visit the Wal-Mart and the Sam's Club stores here, you hear shoppers who have been without power for weeks marveling that there are still generators in stock (and priced at $304.04). You hear about the trucks that rolled in right after the hurricane and the stuff the stores gave away: chain saws and boots for rescue workers, sheets and clothes for shelters, water and ice for the public.

"This was the only place we could find water those first days," said Rashan Smith, who was shopping with her three children at Wal-Mart on Saturday. "I still haven't managed to get through to FEMA. It's hard to say, but you get more justice at Wal-Mart."

That's the same assessment you hear from public officials in Louisiana, and there's even been talk of letting Wal-Mart take over FEMA's job. The company already has its own emergency operations center, where dozens of people began preparing for the hurricane the week before it hit by moving supplies and trucks into position.

Of course, not all for-profit institutions are that giving: I would have linked this yesterday at its New York Times home, but since TimesSelect forbids that, I'm linking it at the Tallahasseee Democrat today. Read the whole thing.

GLOBAL WARMING ON MARS: "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."

If only we had ratified Kyoto.

NASA'S RETURN TO THE MOON PLAN: I take a skeptical line, and suggest an alternative, in today's TechCentralStation column.

UPDATE: Related thoughts from Dave Price.

SOME THOUGHTS ON HURRICANE RITA, over at GlennReynolds.com.

UPDATE: Ack, MSNBC's permalinks are buggered. Go here or just scroll up from the link above.

September 20, 2005

MORE ON BIRD FLU: Not terribly encouraging.

POTS, KETTLES, AND HURRICANE HYPE.

"STUCK ON STUPID:" a new catch phrase has been born.

UPDATE: Video here. I wonder who the reporter was?

But I think I know why Dan Rather is crying.

PORKBUSTERS: Here's the background.

I'm on Hugh Hewitt now talking about it.

DEREK LOWE looks at some promising developments in longevity research.

SHRINKAGE at The New York Times.

UPDATE: Is it because people don't want to pay retail?

SCOTT JOHNSON charges the Post with cheap shots.

MICHELLE MALKIN IS VERY UNHAPPY with President Bush's nominee to head the the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency under the Department of Homeland Security:

This nomination is a monumental political and policy blunder in the wake of the Michael Brown/FEMA fiasco. And I can tell you that contrary to the Miss Mary Sunshine White House spokeswoman's comments, rank-and-file DHS employees and immigration enforcement officials are absolutely livid about Myers' nomination.

Quite a few other people seem to be unhappy, too.

ALLISON HAYWARD: "The Club for Growth is a court-bound guinea pig for the application of some new FEC theories."

JIM HOFT sees surprising progress in Iraq.

On the other hand, there's a problem with missing money from the Iraqi Defense Ministry. Rather a lot. This would seem to underscore the point, made here earlier, that corruption is a bigger threat than terrorists, long-term.

UPDATE: Here's more good news on the terrorism front, but the corruption issue still needs to be dealt with. An Iraq that looks like Nigeria would be better than what we had under Saddam, but not as good as it ought to be.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here.

"DON'T GET STUCK ON STUPID:" Just heard Gen. Honore's reproach to a reporter at a press conference on Rita.

UPDATE: Transcript and audio here. Could this be a new slogan for the blogosphere?

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: So I made the call I suggested other folks make, calling my Congressman (Jimmy Duncan) to ask if he would be willing to forego some local pork (either the specific items identified earlier in this post or something else, maybe from this Knoxville News-Sentinel list) in order to fund Katrina relief.

I spoke to his budget analyst, who promised me a swift response -- by postal mail, as they don't do email. Hmm. I know that franked mail is "free," but it's not as cheap as email -- I think I just figured out another way for the Congress to save some money. . . .

UPDATE: Reader Jim Ewing emails:

Just tried sending Congressperson Duncan an email to reinforce that it might be a good idea to respond to you via e-mail.

From your "Jimmy Duncan" link, I got his page on the house.gov site. The contact menu button took me to the "write your representative" page of the site. This asked for my zip, which is in Georgia. So it get a prompt to inform me that my zip precludes me from sending a him an email. So the email barrier operates bidirectionally, in a way that would make Franz Kafka blanch with envy.

I think it's safe to say that Rep. Duncan has no ambitions toward nationwide office. However, this seems to be a function of the House's lame email setup which requires a ZIP+4 to send an email.

PORK UPDATE: Tom DeLay has changed his tune:

Raising taxes would kill jobs, choke off investment, and stifle economic growth. That's not exactly a recipe for the kind of economic renewal that region so desperately needs.

Instead, I hope some of the money can be the product of spending sacrifices elsewhere in the federal budget.

There are programs all over the federal budget that are bloated or wasteful or inefficiently using the funds we provide them, and I'm very interested in identifying them.

Heh.

HERE'S A CANDIDATE FOR BUDGET-CUTTING:

Early last month, the bureau's Washington Field Office began recruiting for a new anti-obscenity squad. Attached to the job posting was a July 29 Electronic Communication from FBI headquarters to all 56 field offices, describing the initiative as "one of the top priorities" of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and, by extension, of "the Director." That would be FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III. . . .

The new squad will divert eight agents, a supervisor and assorted support staff to gather evidence against "manufacturers and purveyors" of pornography -- not the kind exploiting children, but the kind that depicts, and is marketed to, consenting adults.

"I guess this means we've won the war on terror," said one exasperated FBI agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity because poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing. "We must not need any more resources for espionage."

Either the FBI has too much money, or the government's priorities are screwed up, or both. If there's another terror attack in America, how will Gonzalez and Mueller justify this? Maybe by blaming Congress: "Congress began funding the obscenity initiative in fiscal 2005 and specified that the FBI must devote 10 agents to adult pornography." (Via Volokh).

I would have slapped the PorkBusters logo on this post, but I was afraid someone would notice that the pig isn't wearing pants . . . .

IN THE MAIL: John Yoo's new book, The Powers of War and Peace : The Constitution and Foreign Affairs after 9/11. Looks very interesting, and it's sure to receive a lot of attention.

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Howard Kurtz has picked up on the porkbusters effort and given it an extensive plug, though he's pretty skeptical as to whether it will make a difference.

He may be right, of course, but it seems to me that we need to try. I also think that pork-barreling thrives through lack of transparency and scrutiny, and that we can work on that. Transparency and scrutiny are what the blogosphere is best at.

Speaking of which, the Porkbusters page has been updated, with lists of members of Congress and whether they've committed to cut pork. (Basically, no, at the moment). The list also has links to their webpages so that you can call or email them and ask why not.

Is it enough? Who knows, but it's what we can do, and it can't hurt.

UPDATE: Mark Tapscott says the porkbusters approach is gaining momentum and notes Congressional action and media agreement.

GRAND ROUNDS is up!

NICK SCHULZ WRITES on the link between poverty and bad governance.

MORE ON PORK: Powerline warns that the Katrina-relief bill will be a pork magnet beyond all precedent, which is undoubtedly true. Perhaps the blogosphere should take the "adopt a box" approach that Hugh Hewitt pioneered, with different people taking on different provisions.

Meanwhile, on a larger, structural level those of us who want more discipline on fiscal (and other) matters should probably think of pushing something like Brannon Denning & Brooks Smith's proposed Truth In Legislation Amendment, which would impose considerable discipline on the practice of hanging unrelated items on big funding bills.

DEAN ESMAY: "For a country that's on the verge of collapse, we seem to be doing pretty well."

INDEED:

Thank God for the evil pharmaceutical companies. One day, when the history of this period is written, I have a feeling we will look back with astonishment as we recognize that advances in medical science, particularly pharmaceuticals, were arguably one of the most significant developments of this era. And yet the people who pioneered these breakthroughs were ... demonized and attacked. Baffling and bizarre. I'm merely grateful the attacks haven't stopped the research progress. They've merely slowed it.

I hope that we'll remember who was behind that, too.

YEAH, I GUESS THAT'S, LIKE, PURE EVIL: "The Time Magazine Blog of the Year comes up with something to fact-check and blast into oblivion oh, every time you hit refresh."

Better to direct your anger at the people who provide them with raw material, I'd think.

UPDATE: Greg Erickson notes that I'm mentioned as a "ringleader" in the same post and writes:

Now you know you're ready for the big time. The liberals think you are an arch conservative. The conservatives think you are soft - a moderate at best.

Glenn Reynolds for President.

I'm just saying....

Yeah, that's what they thought would work for Kerry.

THE DLC FACES A DOUBLE-BARRELED ASSAULT -- first Kos, now Kaus: "Who needs Reed's Democratic Leadership Council if its leaders are going to go to bat for this Old Democrat, special-interest, anti-government law?"

September 19, 2005

WELL, IT'S NOT QUITE THIS, but you can see it from here: "In the final declaration last week 191 countries, including Sudan and North Korea, went along with a restatement of international law: that the world community has the right to take military action in the case of 'national authorities manifestly failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity'. It comes too late to help Darfur, not to mention Rwanda and Cambodia, but it is a millennial change."

And now that this principle is established, the next international human right is clear.

TOM MAGUIRE offers to refresh Bill Clinton's memory.

I think Chris Lynch was right.

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Michael Barone weighs in with this observation:

A worthy idea, and one that raises the question, an uncomfortable one surely for many congressmen, of whether voters really value pork barrel projects. Of course some interested parties do, but do most voters? In the course of writing the Almanac of American Politics, I have to read of all the various projects that members bring to their districts. It's tedious reading after a while.

I suspect that most voters in a district don't care about the pork, and would be happy without it.

USUALLY you hear this kind of story about email.

A BLOGOSPHERE POLL for Secretary General.

My vote is already cast.

I'VE SAID EARLIER that the failure of New Orleans' police radio system seems to have had a lot to do with the subsequent collapse of the NOPD. Now John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Jane Harman, and Curt Weldon have an oped in the Washington Post calling for survivable and uniform radio systems for first responders.

THE CARNIVAL OF CORDITE IS UP! So is the Carnival of the Capitalists.

And don't miss the Blawg Review. Also, the Carnival of Personal Finance and the Virginia Blog Carnival.

ANN ALTHOUSE photoblogs from Hell.

CHRIS LYNCH WRITES that Bill Clinton doesn't understand the new media.

NOT MUCH LIKE THE MINUTEMEN: Notwithstanding Michael Moore's comparisons.

VARIFRANK has some interesting thoughts on China, Russia, and North Korea.

JEFF JARVIS: "We pay attention to big numbers. And whose fault is that? Media’s, first and foremost."

Even in the area of reporting about blogs, I've noticed this tendency: Journalists want biggests and mosts. They want the blogs with big traffic, and they want to talk about big stories like Rathergate. But there's a good argument that blogs with small traffic matter more in the aggregate -- because they're read by people who know the author personally and thus care more about what he/she says -- and I agree with something Duncan Black once said that the real impact of blogs isn't big stories, but ongoing posting on topics that interest the authors. If you focus on big numbers, you often miss the real stories.

CANADIAN JUSTICE: "Steal big, risk little."

JIMMY CARTER and James Baker recommend photo IDs for voting. This seems reasonable to me. I can't buy a beer -- even though I'm clearly over 21 -- without a photo ID. I think we should dye people's fingers purple, too, to prevent revoting.

Some people complain, but I don't see a way around Will Wilkinson's point that allowing unentitled voters to vote is just as bad as barring entitled people: "The strange thing is that the press seems to treat illegitimate votes as a kind of noise, a kind of tolerable if unfortunate democratic static, while intimidated no-shows are a travesty against all that is holy. Yet, and this should be obvious, in terms of the aggregative democratic procedure, an unnoticed illegal vote for one guy (in a two horse race) is EXACTLY EQUIVALENT to scaring off a voter for the other guy."

"NOW HE STARTS PAYING ATTENTION!" Brendan Loy on Ray Nagin's decision to give up on reopening New Orleans this week.

I'VE ALREADY POSTED MY PORKBUSTERS CONTRIBUTION, but I notice that Michael Silence has rounded up quite a few local pork projects, including mine. I hope that other newpapers and newspaper blogs will pick this up, and follow through by interviewing members of Congress.

UPDATE: Reader Chris Whittaker emails:

I just reviewed the Tennessee portion of the highway bill, and even being generous by assuming that anything having to do with roads was a valid project, here is a conservative pork estimate of what I found, with project numbers included:

Greenways (Pork)- $8.35 million
Project Nos. 66, 3429, 4953, 4977

Bikes and Trails (Pork)- $17.912 million
Project Nos. 97, 268, 339, 355, 463, 627, 828, 1135, 1832, 2440, 2567, 3252, 3267, 4955, 4958

Transportation Heritage Museums (Pork)- $1.808 million
Project Nos. 1038, 2411, 4975, 391

Miscellaneous (ex. walkways, visitors centers, interpretive centers, Trail of Tears museum)- $19.6 million Project Nos. 1517, 2154, 2212, 4926, 4927, 4933, 4937, 4938, 4949, 4952

TOTAL TENNESSEE PORK: $47.67 million dollars..., Blogosphere 1, DeLay 0, ADVANTAGE: Blogosphere.

Sorry, Tom.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A different Chris, Chris Nolan, thinks this whole effort is wrong:

It's also an extension of the attitude that got us and everyone in New Orleans into this mess in the first place.

I don't think so. As we've seen, money that might have shored up the levees was diverted to . . . pork! ("'Our politicians never cared half as much about protecting us as they cared about pork,' Dashiell said.")

She does offer up the argument that one person's pork is another's vital spending. Well, sometimes. Citizens Against Government Waste takes a procedural stance:

Q: This project sounds worthy. Why do you insist on calling it pork?

A: The pork label is a result of how a project receives funding and is not a subjective judgment of a project’s worth.

While CAGW is not judging the merit of projects included in our Pig Book, the point remains that many of these projects are local projects. If a local project receives federal funding it should be acquired through the federal competitive system.


If members of Congress insist on skirting the rules to get funding for a project, even for a seemingly important project, the resulting breakdown in accountability throws open the door to almost any kind of project. So while taxpayers may enjoy a local bridge or school renovation, they will also be paying for hundreds of egregious projects from which they will never benefit, such as screwworm research or a tattoo removal program four states away.

I tend to think that things that are obviously local -- civic centers, pedestrian bridges, etc. -- shouldn't be done by the feds. Things that aren't about, say, highways -- like money for methamphetamine busts -- shouldn't be in highway bills. Etc. Yeah, some of these might conceivably be worthy, but I'm skeptical and I think the burden is on their proponents to demonstrate their worthiness.

Oh, well. There's room to disagree on this, but I don't really think that Chris Nolan is siding with Tom Delay here. Am I wrong?

CLIFF MAY:

579. That’s the current death toll in Louisiana from the hurricane and catastrophic flooding. Terrible for the victims, their family, their friends.

But also much less than the 10,000 widely predicted.

And, BTW, much less than the more than 35,000 killed by a heat wave in Europe two summers ago.

You recall the debate that set off about European heartlessness, racism and discrimination? No, neither do I.

Me neither.

UPDATE: More on that here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Some history for Bill Clinton.

PORK REPORTS is a new blog that's all about pork.

BLOGGERS BUST A KATRINA MYTH: NBC / MSNBC retracts.

I believe it all started here.

"ANYBODY CAN DO THIS STUFF:" Hey, I prove that every day!

SEEKING SECOND AMENDMENT PLAINTIFFS in New Orleans.

WHAT HATH ROVE WROUGHT:

Fifty-seven percent (57%) of black voters support the federal reconstruction spending while just 17% are opposed. Among white voters, 49% favor the spending and 29% are opposed. This is the first Bush Administration proposal [t]hat has attracted more support from black Americans than from white Americans.

Hmm. (Via Newsbusters).

POPULAR MECHANICS is liveblogging from NASA HQ as the new "return to the Moon" plan is announced.

IT'S Talk Like a Pirate Day!

AUSTIN BAY IS SKEPTICAL of the new North Korea agreement.

BILL ROGGIO notes the Taliban's impotence in the face of Afghan elections.

TOUR THE INDIAN BLOGOSPHERE: The latest Blog Mela is up!

I FINISHED GREG BEAR'S Dead Lines : A Novel of Life . . . After Death last night and I'll never look at my cellphone the same way.

I liked it -- it was like Tim Powers meets Charles Stross or something.

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: As of the moment, over $13 billion in pork projects have been listed by bloggers over at the PorkBusters page. (Take that, Tom Delay!)

But remember -- follow-through is everything here. Don't just list your project: Call your Senators and Representative and ask them what to do about it, then post their responses on your blog, and link 'em at the PorkBusters page.

When you do that, send me a link to your post with the subject line "Pork Response" and I'll link it.

(PorkBusters background here, in case you missed it.)

THIS ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR focuses on something I mentioned earlier -- whether Bush wants to repeal the Posse Comitatus Act.

I think that would be a very bad idea: Threatening freedom at home, while shifting the military's focus from winning wars to disaster response.

HOWARD KURTZ is slamming the media so hard that he almost sounds like a blogger!

The fact that most of those left behind in the New Orleans flood were poor and black is being treated by the press as a stunning revelation--"A National Shame," as Newsweek's cover put it.

But not exactly a national secret. . . .

This is not a story, like whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, that was difficult to get at. But journalists rarely venture into impoverished neighborhoods these days, except for quick-hit features. When a woman from one of these communities goes missing, it doesn't attain the status of a Natalee Holloway drama. . . .

The media have had a fine old time ridiculing Michael Brown, who quit last week as head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as a former Arabian horse expert with no background for the job. And as The Post reported, five of the agency's top eight officials came to their posts with virtually no experience in handling disasters. But why did journalists never get around to pointing this out in the past? Why are agencies such as FEMA never covered until disaster strikes?

Preach it, brother Howard. I'd like to see people explore why New Orleans hasn't shared in the prosperity that we've seen in other big Southern cities. Political corruption -- another undercovered story -- probably has a lot to do with it.

Meanwhile, Bush in a Tree thinks that this will reinvigorate John Edwards' presidential hopes.

BROCK VS. VAN STEENWYK: No contest.

NOT-SO-LOVELY RITA: Stormtrack notes the path for Tropical Storm Rita may take it over New Orleans as a hurricane.

Yet another reason not to rush people back in, as Mayor Nagin seems to want to do.

UPDATE: More on the rush to reopen New Orleans here.

A HAPPY DAY IN AFGHANISTAN:

What patrolling Canadian soldiers witnessed instead on Sunday was a virtual national holiday. Afghans casually strolled down the streets of their two major cities after all non-essential traffic was ordered off the road, on their way to do something they thought would ensure a brighter future -- vote. . . .

At the polling station, the women pulled off their burqas. Most emerged with smiling, lively unlined faces. Those faces had been sheltered for years from the harsh Afghan sun.

It was the age of these women that was most striking. In Afghanistan, the usual age for marriage is 15 to 18. The married women who lounged around the school cross-legged on rugs or pillows seemed more high-schoolish then motherly. They chatted, they giggled and they mugged each other. When they saw a foreign male looking at them, they turned shy and drew scarves across the lower part of their faces but most eyes looked back with unabashed curiosity.

(Via NewsAlert, which observes: "Voting makes some people happy.")

I DOUBT IT WILL SUCCEED, but there's a move to impeach Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

PAJAMAS MEDIA EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER MICHAEL BARONE is profiled at the Pajamas Media site.

Plus David Corn!

September 18, 2005

SO THE EARLIER PORK POST -- in which various bloggers posted and emailed about pork in their states -- looked kind of promising, and N.Z. Bear and I got together to figure out a way to take it up a notch.

How are we going to mobilize the blogosphere in support of cuts in wasteful spending to support Katrina relief? Here's the plan.

Identify some wasteful spending in your state or (even better) Congressional District. Put up a blog post on it. Go to N.Z. Bear's new PorkBusters page and list the pork, and add a link to your post.

Then call your Senators and Representative and ask them if they're willing to support having that program cut or -- failing that -- what else they're willing to cut in order to fund Katrina relief. (Be polite, identify yourself as a local blogger and let them know you're going to post the response on your blog). Post the results. Then go back to NZ Bear's page and post a link to your followup blog post.

The result should be a pretty good resource of dubious spending, and Congressional comments thereon, for review by blogs, members of the media, etc. And maybe even members of Congress looking for wasteful spending . . . .

Feel free to copy the cool logo by Stacy Tabb (or this larger version) and use it on your own posts.

Technorati tag: .

BLOGS: "Technology that took on a hurricane."

SURRENDERING TEXTUAL CONTROL to fundamentalists.

I DISCUSS SOME LAMENESS FROM AARON BROWN over at GlennReynolds.com.

COMPLAINTS ABOUT YAHOO!'S COMPLICITY WITH CHINESE REPRESSION have been swirling around the blogosphere for quite a while -- but today they're grist for an editorial in the Washington Post.

LOOKS LIKE A LOSS FOR SCHROEDER IN GERMANY:

Germany's Christian Democrats, led by Angela Merkel, have narrowly won Sunday's election, exit polls suggest. After voting ended Ms Merkel - who wants to introduce far-reaching reforms to revive a flagging economy - said her party had a "clear mandate" to govern.

However it is unclear whether her party has won enough support to form a government with the Free Democrats.

David Kaspar is predicting gridlock, while Bruce Kesler thinks its the end of the Franco-German axis and notes a connection with the Afghan elections.

UPDATE: Gateway Pundit notes that crapulent anti-Americanism didn't work for Schroeder this time.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Chris Christner: Bush 7, Axis of Weasels 1.

MORE: Schroeder is refusing to concede. More here.

WestHawk's advice: "Look after Afghanistan, ignore Germany."

STILL MORE: Peaktalk looks at the later numbers and says no mandate for Merkel. Well, dang.

On the other hand, everyone -- and I mean everyone -- can be glad that Schroeder won't be running naked through the streets as New Zealand Green MP Keith Locke will have to do in light of election results there.

PORK UPDATE: Rhode Island blogger Carroll Andrew Morse points out some highway pork in his home state that could be cut. I hope other bloggers will follow his lead. [LATER: Followup on Rhode Island here.]

UPDATE: More pork found in Iowa. And not the yummy, soon-to-be-bacon kind.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's some Utah fat!

(Sounds like Utah could do without it: "Surplus stack of state cash keeps growing.")

MORE: Some Massachusetts pork.

The obvious next step is for local bloggers to call their Senators/Representative on Monday and ask if they'll vote to cut this (or, failing that, can identify other cuts they will support) -- then to post the response on their blog. I suspect that members of Congress will pay at least some attention to requests from local bloggers.

MORE STILL: Here's the 2006 budget page from OMB. If you know of some other good resources, email 'em to me.

And -- how could I have forgotten it -- Nathan Lanier points out the Pig Book.

STILL MORE: Here's some North Carolina pork -- though at least it hasn't been soaked in that vinegary stuff they call barbecue sauce.

And reader Jay Stannard emails:

Here's some easy pork that we could cut:

$1.2 B to refurbish the UN building.

Trump says it can be done for $600M, so that's $600M to the UN kleptocrats.

Sorry Kofi, the rest of the world will have to pony up the cash, we have better things to do with it.

Here's an article on the U.N. Headquarters boondoggle, which is being financed (via a 30-year low interest loan of $1.2 billion) from the U.S. government.

Arizona pork, from Edward Boyd!

How easy is it? This easy!

EVEN MORE: A reader who requests anonymity because of his current position emails:

Every September, Federal bureaucrats go on a spending spree with "year-end funds" -- the money left over from the fiscal year that ends September 30.

Perhaps Congress should use this opportune moment to requisition the unspent money in padded program budgets and redirect it to Katrina rebuilding.

It could pay for the whole thing -- that's how much we're talking about here.

Go for it, Congress.

AND YET MORE: In My home county in Tennessee, here's $28 million in mostly-local road money. Is it pork? My congressman pretty much admits that:

Duncan and Alexander secured federal funding for Foothills Parkway, a civic arts center at Maryville College, Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center at Townsend, and a greenway pedestrian bridge across the U.S. 129 By-pass in Alcoa.

In federal funding, there have always been bills which the members of Congress use for what are commonly referred to as ``pork barrel'' projects by those not receiving the benefits. Currently, the transportation bill has provided funds for many local projects across the nation that meet the proper definitions within the bill.

In the days of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, such projects were financed through numerous other types of aid or work programs. Resentment locally was so high to that type of funding at the time that some local governments in Blount County refused to apply for the funds.

Whether we like the method used or not, it is the only way we have of getting back our fair share of the federal taxes we pay.

Couldn't we just, you know, keep the money without laundering it through Congress?

Some of the National Park road money may not count as "pork," but the Civic Arts Center and pedestrian bridge definitely do.

MATT DUFFY: Spending cuts, or new taxes? Guess the media frame!

A "STAGNANT CESSPOOL" at Turtle Bay.

AT HIS BLOG, MISERABLE DONUTS, Major John Tammes is photoblogging from New Orleans. Lots of interesting stuff.

PUBLIUS has a big Afghan election roundup.

Gateway Pundit has more, too, and so does Afghan Lord.

UPDATE: Norm Geras highlights 25-year-old candidate Sabrina Sagheb and notes that this is a rather dramatic transformation from the Afghanistan of Taliban days. It's funny that this isn't making a bigger splash, though I guess it's arguable that that's a good sign.