PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH isn't taken with Joe Biden's latest oped: "The fact that he has failed to give any semblance of reasoning or justification for those proposals should alert us to the possibility that he either (a) hasn't thought the matter through carefully enough; or (b) is more interested in advancing talking points than genuinely carrying the policy process forward."
TONY Blair has re-opened the government’s long-standing row about BBC bias by describing the corporation’s coverage of the aftermath of the havoc caused to New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina as being “full of hatred of America”. . . .
Bill Clinton, the former US president, and Sir Howard Stringer, chief executive of Sony Corporation, also criticised the tone of the BBC’s coverage during a seminar on the media at the Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York.
The BBC's growing bias and anti-Americanism has been a disappointment for years, of course, but it's nice to see more people noticing.
Senior officials in Louisiana's emergency planning agency already were awaiting trial over allegations stemming from a federal investigation into waste, mismanagement and missing funds when Hurricane Katrina struck.
And federal auditors are still trying to track as much as $60 million in unaccounted for funds that were funneled to the state from the Federal Emergency Management Agency dating back to 1998. . . .
The problems are particularly worrisome, federal officials said, because they involve the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, the agency that will administer much of the billions in federal aid anticipated for victims of Katrina.
Before we shovel any more money in that direction, let's be sure this won't happen again.
Regarding your post on the president's quasi-pledge to cut spending in order to fund post-Katrina relief/reconstruction, and given the awesome job you and other super-bloggers did raising donations and participation for relief efforts, what role can the blogosphere play in pressuring each state delegation to give up some or all of the federal pork currently slated for them? Should bloggers in Alaska start calling for suspended funding on the "Bridge To Nowhere"? Should other bloggers start listing the federal projects and $'s earmarked for their respective states and lead email campaigns aimed at their congressmen and local newspapers? Would this kind of nationwide project benefit from some uber-blogger coordination? Yes, I suspect it would.
Sounds good to me, and the "bridge to nowhere" is certainly a good place to start. Here are some more things to look at. I've got a few ideas about what bloggers might do to call attention to this, and I'll be posting more on that later.
Judging from the poll results, quite a few InstaPundit readers are in favor of cutting spending.
UPDATE: Meanwhile, here's evidence that the federal relief money is already being wasted. Jeez. Can't we just cut every evacuee a check and call it a day?
posted at 08:28 AM by Glenn Reynolds
AFGHANISTAN'S ELECTIONS: People seem to be taking them very seriously:
HERDS of mountain donkeys have been helping to bring democracy to some of the remotest areas of Afghanistan.
The democracy donkeys have been co-opted for the task of delivering 40 million ballot papers because they can penetrate mountain passes and muddy valleys beyond the reach of other transport.
More than 400 international observers are in Afghanistan to monitor the elections, and some of them have had to follow the trail of the donkeys to ensure that the precious ballot papers are not lost, stolen or damaged.
President Bush on Friday ruled out raising taxes to pay for Gulf Coast reconstruction, saying other government spending must be cut. "You bet it will cost money, but I'm confident we can handle it," he said.
An Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times who makes an error "is expected to promptly correct it in the column." That's the established policy of Gail Collins, editor of the editorial page. Her written policy encourages "a uniform approach, with the correction made at the bottom of the piece."
Two weeks have passed since my previous post spelled out the errors made by columnist Paul Krugman in writing about news media recounts of the 2000 Florida vote for president. Mr. Krugman still hasn't been required to comply with the policy by publishing a formal correction. Ms. Collins hasn't offered any explanation.
Yet the system at every level of government, was not well coordinated and was overwhelmed in the first few days. It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces -- the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moment's notice.
He's talking about logistics here, but it's not clear that's all he's talking about. I'd certainly oppose a repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act. And those interested in getting the military more involved in law enforcement should read this cautionary tale from an earlier disaster.
UPDATE: Donald Sensing has similar concerns, which he outlines in a long and thoughtful post.
SINGULARITY WATCH: "If nanotechnology maintains its current pace of development, it will give birth to a computer that has the information processing capacity equivalent to every human brain combined by 2060."
FUNDING KATRINA RELIEF: Bush seems to be shoveling out the cash, which has led some people to suggest cutbacks elsewhere -- though curiously the press mostly seems to mention Iraq. Here's an InstaPundit poll on the question that explores some other alternatives. Express yourselves!
French researchers have used embryonic stem cells from mice to repair heart damage in sheep. Claudine Mйnard and colleagues report that embryonic stem cells from mice could be successfully transplanted into larger mammals to regenerate damaged heart cells. This strengthens the possibility that embryonic stem cells could one day be used to repair heart cells in humans.
posted at 09:02 AM by Glenn Reynolds
September 15, 2005
LAURA BUSH told Popular Mechanics today that she supports rebuilding New Orleans, though PM readers oppose it by a rather hefty margin, according to their online poll. It's unscientific, of course, but this real poll isn't very supportive. Are there any scientific polls that suggest widespread support for rebuilding?
ANOTHER UPDATE: More video, and a transcript, here. Don't miss it -- though in fairness I don't think that Dean Reynolds' (no relation) tone is as anti-Bush as some people in the ABC discussion forums thought. There's no question, though, that the interviewees shot down the standard Big Media line on Katrina relief.
Matt Duffy, meanwhile, compares ABC's live coverage with NPR's edited product.
I EXPRESS MY SKEPTICISM regarding the New York Times' new TimesSelect program.
On the other hand, if I'm wrong, and people really are willing to pay through the nose to read blathering opinions on the Internet, well . . . I might be okay with that, too!
posted at 06:57 PM by Glenn Reynolds
PEOPLE HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR THE DAMNING ROBERTS QUOTE, and I've found it:
SCHUMER: OK. Let me ask you, then, this hypothetical: And that is that it came to our attention, Congress', through a relatively and inexpensive, simple process, individuals were now able to clone certain species of animals, maybe an arroyo toad. Didn't pass over state lines; you could somehow do it without doing any of that. Under the commerce clause, can Congress pass a law banning even noncommercial cloning?
ROBERTS: I appreciate it's a hypothetical, and you will as well, so I don't mean to be giving bindings opinions. But it would seem to me that Congress can make a determination that this is an activity, if allowed to be pursued, that is going to have effects on interstate commerce. Obviously if you were successful in cloning an animal, that's not going to be simply a local phenomenon. That's going to be something people are going to...
SCHUMER: We can leave it at that. That's a good answer, as far as I am concerned.
Under this analysis, everything is subject to regulation under the commerce power. That it's a good answer as far as Schumer is concerned doesn't surprise me, but that it's the answer of a Bush nominee to the Supreme Court is damning, if not terribly surprising -- for the Bush Administration. Fair-weather Federalism, indeed. More here.
UPDATE: Reader Martin Albright asks if this means that I disagree with Wickard v. Filburn. Possibly -- but Wickard stands for the proposition that instances of economic activity that impacts a scheme of pervasive economic regulation can be aggregated to find an impact on interstate commerce sufficient to justify Congressional regulation. Roberts seems to be saying that anything can be aggregated to find an impact on interstate commerce, and that Congress can even nip it in the bud by outlawing it in advance to ensure that there never will be such an impact. This seems rather extreme to me, perhaps even going beyond Raich.
In fact, it seems as if Roberts is endorsing the Schumer view of the commerce power that Jonathan Adler was deriding just the other day over at NRO's "Bench Memos" site. Perhaps Roberts misspoke, but he's not really the misspeaking type, is he?
MORE: Hugh Hewitt says not to worry, but I am uncomforted.
ERIK JAFFE: "I am struck, watching the hearings, at the complete disconnect between the criticisms of many of those opposing Judge Roberts and a cogent view of the role of the courts. It seems that many of the criticisms are policy based — x or y rulings would lead to bad RESULTS — and make no reference whatsoever regarding whether such results are in fact the correct interpretation of the law (or the Constitution). . . . It is particularly ironic to hear the demands of Senators (most notably Specter) that they not be treated like children when they seem so intent on acting like children. "
Floodwaters recede from the city's hard-hit east side, revealing neighborhoods covered in slimy, putrid muck and dotted with ruined cars and collapsed houses.
_ The body count in Louisiana climbs to 474, and it's expected to rise further as state and federal officials go about the tedious task of collecting bodies and identifying them through DNA tests. The total death toll in five states reaches 710.
_ Mayor Ray C. Nagin says the tourist-friendly French Quarter and central business district may reopen as early as Monday after the Environmental Protection Agency said the foul-smelling air in the city was not overly polluted.
_ Nagin expects about 180,000 people to return to the city within a week or two, when power and sewer systems are restored.
Overall, it seems that things aren't as bad as we feared, and the recovery is proceeding faster than we thought.
posted at 03:53 PM by Glenn Reynolds
A WHILE BACK, I mentioned the idiocy of FEMA requiring firefighters to take sexual harassment training before being sent to New Orleans. Now John Derbyshire has what appears to be the curriculum for FEMA volunteer training. Whatever you think of this in the abstract, it seems awfully dumb to be putting people through this stuff when there's an actual, ongoing disaster.
UPDATE: Reader Don Fleming emails: "Is there a firefighter who has been on the job longer than a month anywhere in this country who hasn't already had the diversity training?" Seems unlikely to me.
Derbyshire's curriculum is satire. Sadly, I had to read it twice to be sure.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader who requests anonymity says that it's not that much of a satire:
Sadly John Derbyshire isn't far wrong. It's called "Cultural Awareness" and is required before you can deploy. Anyone that wants to deploy in any FEMA team has to take required training BEFORE becoming "deployable". USAR, DMAT, DMORT, VMAT, it doesn't matter. Cultural awareness is only one module. Sadly, most of the training is a waste of time. For example, doctors have to take basic classes in first aid.
Some of the training is helpful, such as how to set up equipment, but it makes more sense to do this in field training exercises than in on line sessions.
If you chose to mention this, please don't attribute it to me.
I think that we could skip the sexual harassment stuff when there's an actual disaster underway.
posted at 01:47 PM by Glenn Reynolds
THE TAMPA TRIBUNE is running a new "Voices From the Front" section, where they get views from serving soldiers. I think it's a great idea. Installments can be found here and here.
Read 'em both, because they have a different take on things than the usual media talking-heads. Congratulations to the Tampa Tribune for adding some diversity to its coverage.
TOM DELAY UPDATE: I have to agree with Ramesh Ponnuru that DeLay's comments don't seem to have been taken out of context, and I still don't find the "sarcasm" defense persuasive. As I said before, if it was sarcasm, it misfired.
posted at 12:39 PM by Glenn Reynolds
RELIEFCONNECTIONS.ORG is a cool new portal set up by N.Z. Bear to connect relief-providers and those who need relief services. Check it out if you're in either category.
SOME THOUGHTS ON WHAT THE KATRINA RESPONSE says about the likely response to avian flu:
You think Katrina was bad, imagine a bird flu pandemic which will spread from country to country. The UN and WHO will be in the position of the federal government!
You think the Katrina situation was confused, imagine what an avian flu pandemic would be like: poor countries trying to cover-up cases while the outbreak becomes increasingly widespread while the UN/WHO stands by impotently. . . .
I'd be a lot happier if Congress and the media would focus on what to do about the next predictable crises, not on what went wrong in Katrina. 1,000 dead seems to be the upper limit on the number who died in Katrina. The number who'd die in an epidemic could be 4 or 5 orders of magnitude larger.
posted at 10:13 AM by Glenn Reynolds
MISSISSIPPI READER HAROLD BRASHEARS WRITES ON KATRINA RESPONSE:
Regular reader who just got internet access in South Mississippi tonight! I hope it does not go out before I finish this email. I live in Gautier, just north of I 10 on the gulf coast. Unlike many, I can plead personal knowledge.
I must disagree with those who appear to have made some kind of holy writ that the response was slow or inadequate. Of course, I cannot speak for New Orleans, which has had such a dysfunctional government
my wife and I have hesitated to visit for almost a year now. We stayed at home during Katrina (at my wife’s insistence, we won’t do that again!), and I must report that I think the emergency response was very fast, considering the size of the storm and the barriers to the response.
This was the biggest storm to hit the US in memory; it stretched from west of New Orleans to east of Mobile in its damage. The storm was a category 2 or 3 as far inland as Hattiesburg and Laurel. This means
prepositioning of supplies would not work, since they would have been destroyed in most cases. As I understand it, there were emergency supplies in the Gulfport/Biloxi area, but they were destroyed by the
strength of the storm.
The barriers to the emergency response are mind boggling. In many cases, emergency personnel and other first responders in the affected area could not be found. In Gulfport, for example, the police station was under water, and was relocated to a school, wading through water to get there. I don’t think anyone has found the Waveland PD, since Waveland is not there any longer. From New Orleans to Mobile there was no phone, no cell phones, no Internet, no
TV, no cable, no electrical power, no gas, no water and no communications of any kind except messenger. This is hard for people in communities far from the disaster to understand, the complete isolation of this communication lack.
North of the gulf coast is an area called the “Pine Belt”. As you may suspect, there are a lot of pine trees there, many of which ended up on the roads after the storm. Just clearing US 49 (a major artery to the coast from the north), took nearly a day. Hattiesburg is the major transportation hub in South Mississippi, and it was actually closed to all traffic for almost a day, due to fallen trees on the city roads. This is incredible, and unprecedented on this scale.
There was literally no way into the area for convoys that did not involve clearing hundreds of miles of roads. The bridge between Mobile and Pascagoula was closed, due to fear that it would collapse. It is still only one lane each way. I 10 was, in places,
under water until Tuesday.
So where did this idea of a slow response originate? I believe it came from fearful local politicians, mostly in Louisiana, eager to deflect blame to anyone else. It was picked up enthusiastically by the media. The Cindy Sheehan story was rapidly fading, so this was simply another attack by the media, beleieving they have finally got Bush. The Plame story, the Rumsfield story, Cindy Sheehan, Abu Graib, etc… etc…
I saw emergency personnel on Tuesday evening, and I was quite happy with the response.
INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY: "Every House member and every senator, as a show of support for the hurricane's victims, should publicly give up a pork project in their district or in their state." (Via Newsbeat 1).
posted at 07:38 AM by Glenn Reynolds
ANN ALTHOUSE ON DIANNE FEINSTEIN: "Or is one of Congress's enumerated powers the power to show it cares?"
Read the whole thing, which illustrates that listening to Senators bloviate about things they don't understand isn't like having a tooth pulled -- it's worse!
MERYL YOURISH: "Someone needs to explain to me how what happened in Iraq today can in any way be labeled the actions of 'insurgents' who are fighting to rid the country of the 'occupiers.' . . . Shouldn’t an insurgent to be a native of the land he’s fighting for? Wouldn’t you otherwise call these men mercenaries, or perhaps even—dare I say it—terrorists?"
In a swift and crucial victory for freedom of speech and academic freedom, Brooklyn College has affirmed that prominent professor KC Johnson will not be subjected to an unconstitutional inquisition into his views. The college surrendered mere days after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) came to Johnson’s public defense.
As it should have, though it would have been better not to have needed FIRE at all.
posted at 09:22 PM by Glenn Reynolds
DONALD SENSING: "Yesterday my eldest son, Lance Cpl. Stephen Sensing, deployed with his unit to Iraq. . . . My son and his fellows are producers of freedom, not mere consumers of it." Read the whole thing.
HUGH HEWITT WONDERS why Arthur Jones, chief of disaster recovery for Louisiana's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, is speaking at a conference in New York instead of, you know, doing his job in Louisiana. Maybe that explains the confusion over the bodies.
Gov. Kathleen Blanco lashed out at the federal government, accusing it of moving too slowly in recovering the bodies. The dead "deserve more respect than they have received," she said.
However, Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman David Passey said the state asked to take over body recovery last week. "The collection of bodies is not normally a FEMA responsibility," he said.
Perhaps if people spent less time talking to the press, and more time talking to each other . . .
In the September 11 post below, I wondered how the media would respond to the revelations in Sunday’s newspapers of extreme anti-Jewish bigotry and Holocaust denial among Muslim advisers to the government on combating Islamist extremism. As I feared the reaction has ranged from silence to indifference, with more than one report even appearing to endorse some of the most poisonous prejudice at the core of the Muslim demand.
There is now a real feeling of siege among the Jews of Britain.
Read the whole thing.
posted at 03:05 PM by Glenn Reynolds
DESPITE ALL THE MEDIA CRITICISM, Bush's poll numbers seem to be improving. Interesting.
UPDATE: On the other hand, here's a WSJ poll that shows Bush's numbers falling. I don't know which one is right, but I can guess which will get more coverage!
Had there been a futures market on buses in New Orleans, the value of the buses would have skyrocketed as Katrina approached, signaling their increased utility in the emergency. But even without such an overt market signal, any private owner of the vehicles would have exhausted all opportunities to save his or her property. Nobody who owned such a potentially valuable product would have done what New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin did: let it all go to waste on the assumption that drivers would be impossible to find. Greyhound, after all, did not leave hundreds of its buses to be destroyed. And, of course, this very fact caused Nagin to scream for "every doggone Greyhound bus line in the country" to come to the aid of his city. And it should go without saying that no private employer would long tolerate a workforce that, in Sen. Mary Landrieu's memorable description of New Orleans public sector workers, has trouble coming to work even on sunny days.
In the aftermath, the questions grew sharper: Why did aerial shots of the flooded city show hundreds of school and city buses window-deep in water? Why hadn't anyone used those buses to move people out? Did Amtrak really offer residents seats on trains the company moved out of harm's way? And if so, who refused that offer and why?
Of course, Booher adds:
CNN does not connect the dots by noting that if the City had evacuated citizens using the buses, trains, etc. as set forth in the City's Disaster Plan, there would have been no need to rescue those same people from roof tops, the Superdome, the Convention Center, overpasses, etc. The city's failure started a cascading effect.
Yes. And although it wasn't at fault in the pre-storm failures, I think that the collapse of the NOPD's radio system played a substantial role in the unrest after the flooding began.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Harry Shearer emails:
Sunday's lonnnnnng Washington Post piece on Katrina makes it clear, as I suggested to you last week, that, by the time Nagin declared his evac order (and even Haley Barbour warned of "Hurricane fatigue" from previous evacuations), getting people on those buses and SAFELY out of town was a very chancy proposition. Every plan published indicates that it would take up to 72 hours to fully evacuate New Orleans, and 72 hours in advance Katrina was not posing the lethal threat it turned out to be....
"Fully evacuate?'' Yes. As Brendan Loy noted, even 48 hours is really too late -- though Nagin waited much later than that. (I've seen people doing math to the effect that you could have gotten everyone out in 24 hours, but I doubt that New Orleans could have mustered the necessary degree of organization for that.) But certainly a lot of people could have been evacuated who weren't, and that would have improved conditions for the rest, and reduced the burden on relief services. And if Nagin had gotten the buses out, they would have been available for further evacuations after the storm had passed, instead of him having to call for Greyhounds.
This is, of course, all water over the dam in the most literal sense, but given all the finger-pointing going on, it's hard to ignore this issue. Had more people been evacuated, as they should have been, before the storm hit, conditions in the city would have been better, and relief services less stressed, afterward.
MORE: Reader Michael Pate emails:
Your post http://instapundit.com/archives/025165.php may not have been 72 hours ahead but it was 60. Brendan Loy has been posting for hours http://www.brendanloy.com/page2.html. Apparently, the Bush Administration had been talking to the Governor all that afternoon. If the plan had been implemented, and they had run slightly behind, a lot fewer than 100,000+ would have been in the city.
I guess public officials should read more blogs. Or at least pay attention to the stuff Brendan Loy was paying attention to.
Various readers, by the way, want to know if it's "that" Harry Shearer. Yes.
READER A.L. HARRIS EMAILS: "After watching the Senatorial Tour de Force during the Robert's confirmation, if you know anyone that is thinking about restarting the term limits crusade, tell them now's the time."
posted at 01:53 PM by Glenn Reynolds
HERE'S AN INTERESTING PIECE BY DECLAN MCCULLAGH, saying that the Internet has done better than government with regard to hurricane response. That's a bit strong, I'd say, but the piece is worth reading.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said yesterday that Republicans have done so well in cutting spending that he declared an "ongoing victory," and said there is simply no fat left to cut in the federal budget.
Give it to me, Tom. I'll find some things to cut. Starting with your salary, which you don't seem to be earning . . . .
UPDATE: Okay, I take it back. The dumbest statement of the week comes from Andrew Sullivan, who doesn't seem to get the difference between "today" and "yesterday" in a post from this morning criticizing something I quoted last night, but which he attributes to "today" as, I guess, evidence of my obliviousness to this morning's terror bombing in Iraq.
Sorry Andrew, but I'm not capable of precognition. On the other hand, I can read a clock. Jeez. I confess that I don't understand why Sullivan is so desirous of scoring cheap points at my expense these days, but this is pretty lame. As Jeff Goldstein put it in a different context: "Andrew Sullivan is completing his transformation into a Kos Diarist."
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Matthew Cook thinks that Tom Delay is smarter than he looks:
Delay set up the entire congress, (R) and (D)! No one in congress can come forward and say that Delay is false without offering up some examples. I think you will notice the silence from both houses. Note that Delay also said "My answer to those that want to offset the spending is sure, bring me the offsets, I'll be glad to do it. But nobody has been able to come up with any yet,".
A few readers seem to think that DeLay was being sarcastic. I guess that's possible, but here's a quote from one of his colleagues, in the same story: "'This is hardly a well-oiled machine,' said Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican. 'There's a lot of fat to trim. ... I wonder if we've been serving in the same Congress.'" If it's sarcasm, it misfired rather badly.
Meanwhile, I think today's news proves my emailer right, and undercuts Andrew's chronologically-challenged point: Yesterday, at a press conference with the Iraqi President where good news was presented, all we heard from the press was Katrina news that might make Bush look bad.
Today, there's bad news from Iraq, and it's splashed all over the front page of the NYT's website. Because, I suspect, the press hopes it will make Bush look bad. Andrew used to be cognizant of such issues, but lately he seems to have joined the herd himself.
LATER: Sullivan admits "a failure of editorial sloppiness on my part," but somehow suggests that he didn't mean what the post said. That's sloppy. As for the "diarist" bit, well, I think the shoe fits. Sorry if it pinches.
UPDATE: Jonathan Gewirtz emails: "The phenomenon of non-US students returning to their countries of origin is alarming only if it is mainly a function of problems in the USA. If it mainly reflects, instead, improving opportunities in other countries, it is great news."
I write, of course, from Japan. You know, the Japan that makes social-democrat/third-way types feel all warm and fuzzy? The Japan in which enlightened technocrats, enshrined in the federal ministries in Kasumigaseki and insulated from elections and politicking and evil market forces and stuff, guide the nation toward a bright nationally-insured future? Yeah, the bloom is somewhat off the economic rose, but in social policy terms, a lot of my left-leaning acquaintances still swoon over the degree of ministry control here.
Well, I will tell you as someone who has lived here for a decade: what you hear about disaster preparedness ALWAYS involves local intiatives. . . . In Japan, what we're told is this: A disaster may render you unreachable. It may cut you off from communication networks and utilities. The appropriate government agencies (starting at the neighborhood level and moving upward depending on the magnitude of the damage) will respond as quickly as they can, but you may be on your own for days until they do. Prepare supplies. Learn escape routes. Then learn alternate escape routes. Know what your region's points of vulnerability are. Get to know your neighbors (especially the elderly or infirm) so you can help each other out and account for each other. Follow directions if you're told to evacuate. Stay put if you aren't. Participate in the earthquake preparation drills in your neighborhood.
If that's the attitude of people in collectivist, obedient, welfare-state Japan, it is beyond the wit of man why any American should be sitting around entertaining the idea that Washington should be the first (or second or fifteenth) entity to step in and keep the nasty wind and rain and shaky-shaky from hurting you. Sheesh.
Your post on Japanese disaster preparation reminded me an experience I had last year with some Japanese workers in my office building. I work in a seven story building in Madrid, Spain and each year the mangement conducts the standard fire drill which consists of someone sounding the fire alarm and everyone in the building exiting by way of the staircases. I timed it and it took me 10 minutes to exit from my office on the sixth floor. "Not good" I though as I exited only to find the majority of the office workers from the lower floors loitering about the exits, smoking cigarettes, hindering my "escape" and blocking the firefighters' entry. As I struggled to get through this crowd of ambivalent Spaniards I looked across the street and see three small groups of Japanese workers (presumably from the Japanese bank office in my building). They are ALL wearing miner style helmets with attached flash-lights and fluorescent vests. They were separated into groups of 10 or so and one from each group was conducting what appeared to be a head count as another member diligently rummaged through a well-stocked first aid kit conducting what appeared to be an inventory check. As my co-workers took delight in mocking our Japanese friends I thought to myself "if there is a real disaster I know who will be getting the last laugh."
Indeed. There is an ant-and-grasshopper aspect to this subject, which doesn't get enough attention.
DARTBLOG notes some things from Bush's press conference today that most people missed.
UPDATE: Vincent Flynn emails: "Iraq must be a smashing success, when Bush can hold a presser with Talabani and field only Louisiana disaster relief questions."
ANOTHER UPDATE: Barbara Skolaut emails: "I agree with Mr. Flynn, but his sentence is not complete. It should read, 'Iraq must be a smashing success - and it's obviously driving the press absolutely crazy - when Bush can hold a presser with Talabani and field only Louisiana disaster relief questions.'"
The city braced for more grim discoveries as the receding waters allowed search parties to reach isolated buildings. But the death toll -- 279 for Louisiana -- was still far below the initial prediction of the city's mayor that 10,000 perished.
"It's hot. It smells. But most of the houses we are looking at are empty," Oregon National Guard Staff Sgt. James Lindseth, 33, said as his platoon, inspecting for people dead or alive, worked its way through dank and broken homes that had been in the water a few days ago.
So they were off by 9700, so far. That's good news, but it's also reason to take other things they tell us with many grains of salt.
UPDATE: Reader Ryan Booth emails:
Mayor Nagin was the one to put forward the 10,000 number. It may have been irresponsible for him to do so, but surely it isn't the MSM's fault for repeating that number. If I were a reporter, I'd figure that the mayor would probably be in a better position to know than anyone else.
Well, that's hardly been his record, but . . . .
Meanwhile, another reader emails: "Don't you know why the body count in NO is so low? It is because of cannibalism my friend. Don't you read the Huffington Post? ;-)"
Officialdom abhors a numbers vacuum, and several elected officials have begun to speculate publicly about the death toll. Asked on NBC's "Today" how many might have died, Mr. Nagin said Monday that "it wouldn't be unreasonable to have 10,000." (On Thursday, he had said in a radio interview that 1,000 had died and 1,000 more were dying every day.) That echoed a statement Friday by U.S. Senator David Vitter: "My guess is that it will start at 10,000, but that is only a guess."
Educated guessing is an entirely understandable response, and it may help brace the public for the actual number. But that number could be very different.
"There's plenty of speculation. There's a thousand numbers out there, to say the least," Trooper Johnnie Brown, a spokesman for the Louisiana state police, told me on Sunday. I asked if any of the death counts were official numbers. "An official may have said it, but there has been no count," he said. He emphasized that more important work remained to be done: "We don't have anyone who can sit there and be a counter."
Read the whole thing. We don't know, of course, but it's interesting the way that a number -- based on basically nothing -- got set in concrete so fast.
"We're not the Red Cross, but I don't know that the Red Cross understands how to get a musician who lost everything a guitar or trumpet or saxophone or drum kit," said Jon Hornyak, executive director of the local chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, the Grammy organization.
New Orleans and Mississippi are part of the Memphis chapter.
The MusiCares Hurricane Relief Fund will provide funds for shelter, food, utilities, transportation, medical expenses and medication, clothing, instrument and recording equipment replacement, relocation costs, school supplies for students, insurance payments and more.
I belong to the Nashville chapter, but this is good work.
Imagine if Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip destroyed two dozen mosques. There would be mass rallies in front of Israeli embassies around the world, and in America organizations like CAIR and MPAC would issue righteous condemnations calling on the American government to restrain Israel. However, as we've seen today, when Palestinians streaming into liberated Gaza set fire to synagogues there is deafening silence from most Muslims and certainly from the leadership of the American Muslim community. . . .
The wholesale destruction of the Jewish synagogues is yet another indication that Palestinians of all stripes, whether Fatah secularists or Islamic Hamas types, do not have the political maturity to construct a civil society. However, it is also a sign that Muslims in America lack the conviction of their religion to condemn sacrilege when it is committed by Muslims against others.
UPDATE: TigerHawk isn't sure if the Palestinian Authority was unable, or unwilling to stop the burning of synagogues, but says it's bad news for the peace process either way. Roger Simon has related thoughts.
posted at 10:21 PM by Glenn Reynolds
NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Here's an article on environmental issues relating to Nanotechnology, and EPA hearings on the subject later this month.
"When I ponder our country and its greatness, its weaknesses, its potential, my heart aches for less divisiveness," he says and pauses a long time, choking back tears. "He's crying?!" I exclaim. We rewind the TiVo and play it again and, I'm sorry to say, laugh a lot. After the long pause, he goes on: "...less polarization, less fingerpointing, less bitterness, less mindless partisanship." You know, I agree! I feel very strongly about all of those things. But crying in a Senate hearing speech, moving yourself to tears? I'm sorry. I laughed a lot.
Also not when you're a police chief, according to the Insta-Wife, who earlier today saw Dr. Phil encouraging New Orleans' police chief to cry on camera and was not amused.
UPDATE: A reader writes:
Favorite Jack Handey quote:
"It takes a big man to cry, but it takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man."
Or a woman.
posted at 09:02 PM by Glenn Reynolds
MICHAEL TOTTEN IS MOVING TO BEIRUT, where he'll be a free-lance correspondent. Editors, take note!
posted at 08:54 PM by Glenn Reynolds
JIM LINDGREN offers perspective on analogies between baseball umpires and judges.
In our new poll, every president since Carter defeats Bush. But Kerry still loses to Bush by one point. What am I missing here?
It says a lot about what a weak candidate Kerry was, doesn't it? It also underscores Bush's weakness. I said from the beginning that he was a weak candidate, and vulnerable in 2004, but the Democrats managed to put up a guy that he could beat. (I was prophetic in 2003: "I'm always hesitant to disagree with Barone -- but I think that Bush is far more vulnerable than most commentators suggest. The real question, I guess, is whether he'll be vulnerable to whoever the Democrats nominate." Survey says -- nope!)
Bush is, in my estimation, adequate as President, but not much more. I've thought that all along -- which is why you've never seen the kind of lyrical praise of Bush here that once appeared at Andrew Sullivan's place, or the kind of disappointment with Bush you see at Sullivan's place now. But in a world of goofy-looking yet pompous empty suits, the adequate man is . . . President. And the Democrats made sure that this was the choice we had in 2004.
UPDATE: More thoughts here -- different from, but not inconsistent with, the above.
ANOTHER UPDATE: From the comments to item linked just above: "Zogby had better start asking questions like 'Why did I fail to predict President Bush’s margin of victory last election?'."
MORE: Various readers disagree with my position on Bush. Tim Dougherty emails:
I respectfully disagree with your assessment of the Bush presidency. In fact, he's accomplished a great deal in a remarkably short period of time. With the conspicuous exceptions of tort reform and an overhaul of Social Security, he's seen nearly his entire domestic legislative agenda enacted. Internationally, he's overthrown two of the most hideous regimes of the past five centuries -- one, in the case of Iraq, despite vocal worldwide opposition -- and will likely preside over the formal declaration of a Palestinian state. Plus, it must be remembered that he took a huge political risk to personally campaign on behalf of Republicans running for Congress in 2002. As we now know, the gambit paid off handsomely in the form of strengthened GOP majorities in the House and Senate -- a historical anomaly. Clearly, he's coming to rival Reagan in terms of both political courage and long-term significance, and he's not yet a year into his second term. In light of the foregoing, I would submit his vulnerability as a candidate owes more to the current political landscape than individual shortcomings, though he certainly has his share of the latter. In any case, appeal as a candidate is separate from performance while in office. It might interest you to know that I didn't even vote for Bush in 2000. I've since grown to like him, his goofy public speaking style notwithstanding.
Reader John Terry is unhappier with me:
Your comments about GWB were disappointing in the extreme. First, can you imagine a politician of either party to have the focus to do the right thing despite the consequences. He has the highest risk tolerance since Lincoln. He also has the least fear of a prejudiced media since Lincoln. You should be ashamed of yourself. Please refer to this commentary from Ben Stein in the American Spectator.
I'm not ashamed. I call 'em as I see 'em. I agree that Bush hasn't had an easy time of it. John Scott emails:
Re Zogby's poll, you say: "It says a lot about what a weak candidate Kerry was, doesn't it? It also underscores Bush's weakness." Maybe, but after two weeks of over the top Bush bashing Clinton only beats W by 2 pips, well within the margin of error. What are you and Zogby missing here?
Clinton was no prize, either, even though I voted for him in 1992. Reader Brian Howson emails:
I don’t think Bush is as much a weak candidate/president as his PR department is weak. He doesn’t get his message out well, at all. Everytime he gives a speech, it all seems forced and un-natural.
The big mistake is to judge a president while he is STILL president. We never realized how good Ronald Reagan was, until after he was out of office and the Soviet Union came crumbling down. Dubya could yield these sorts of results in the middle east, but only time will tell.
We'll see. Meanwhile, Christopher Grayce thinks I'm too critical:
So, you're unexcited about both Bush and Clinton. And, I suppose I can assume, the widely-acknowledged weaker recent one-termers, Bush Sr., Carter and Ford. Presumably you're not so unusual as to be a great big Nixon or LBJ fan...
So that leaves maybe Reagan or Kennedy as the only candidates for a good President in the last 45 years? That's some high standards you've got, man.
I only make the comment 'cause what you said is, I think, symptomatic of a modern American disease: we don't know when we have it good. Unemployment has been at 5% for 23 years, and inflation 5% or less -- and we bitch about the terrible economy. We freak at a war that claims 3 lives a day and maybe 6-8% of the Federal budget -- our grandfathers who fought in Okinawa would be ashamed of us. A huge hurricane roars ashore in the Gulf Coast and -- mirabile dictu -- not more than probably a few hundred people are killed, and generally speaking most everyone is being helped and is OK within a week or so, despite the enormous destructive force. But, oh dear, that's some monstrous failure at which fingers must be pointed.
Eh, I tell you, any of our ancestors would be ashamed of our squeaky weeniedom. They hacked out a country from wilderness, natural and human, and wrestled with awful terrible questions, from freeing ourselves from slavery and struggling to erase its lingering consequences, to beating back the poison of fascism of the left and the right across half the civilized world. *And* they went to the Moon, discovered penicillin and heart transplants, invented transistors and sliced bread. Well, I lied about that last one...
What are we leaving our children? What are we daring? Why would anyone a hundred years hence consider calling us a Great Generation? As opposed to one of the most spoiled and whiny generations of Americans ever? I'm hard pressed to say.
Well, maybe that will need historical perspective, too. After all, the Greatest Generation was, in its time, known as a Generation of Vipers.
And Mark Tapscott is impressed with the live-blogging effort. "Anybody seeking a comprehensive understanding of who is saying what today in that hearing room will stay with Margolis and Goldstein and forget the MSMers."
Justice Joseph Story wrote in 1833 that "since the American Revolution no state government can be presumed to possess the transcendental sovereignty to take away vested rights of property; to take the property of A and transfer it to B by a mere legislative act." Was Story wrong? Or was the Supreme Court wrong this year when it ruled in Kelo v. the City of New London that a government had the right to take property for the use of private developers?
WHAT'S WRONG WITH SCIENCE REPORTING, from The Guardian. Rather a lot, really. "Science is done by scientists, who write it up. Then a press release is written by a non-scientist, who runs it by their non-scientist boss, who then sends it to journalists without a science education who try to convey difficult new ideas to an audience of either lay people, or more likely - since they'll be the ones interested in reading the stuff - people who know their way around a t-test a lot better than any of these intermediaries. Finally, it's edited by a whole team of people who don't understand it."
In other words, it's like the rest of the news . . . .
Four years later, terrorism remains a problem around the world, as we have seen in Bali, in Madrid, in Israel, in London, and, of course, in Iraq. Yet, it would seem, not in America. While America remains alert and, some would say, hypersensitive to the risk of another attack, none has come. Our buildings, our buses, our airplanes all are surely tempting targets to the likes of Al Qaeda and its sympathizers. Yet, four years later, they have not struck. In the tense days after 9-11, such a stretch of safety would have seemed like wishful thinking. And yet, that's what happened.
As part of their ongoing post-9/11 convergence, the left now talks about Bush the way the wackier Islamists talk about Jews. . . .
On this fourth anniversary we are in a bizarre situation: The war is being won -- in Afghanistan, Iraq, the broader Middle East and many other places where America has changed the conditions on the ground in its favor. But at home the war about the war is being lost.
Terrorists can be a very small group of people or a politically weak organization. What makes the small and anonymous appear powerful and strong? In the 21st century, intense media coverage magnifies the terrorists’ capabilities. This suggests that winning the global war against Islamist terror ultimately means accomplishing two things: denying the terrorists’ weapons of mass destruction and curbing what is currently Al Qaeda’s greatest strategic capability: media magnification and occasional media enhancement of its bombing campaigns and political theatrics.
Nagin did not tell everyone to leave immediately, because the regional plan called for the suburbs to empty out first, but he did urge residents in particularly low-lying areas to "start moving -- right now, as a matter of fact." He said the Superdome would be open as a shelter of last resort, but essentially he told tourists stranded in the Big Easy that they were out of luck.
"The only thing I can say to them is I hope they have a hotel room, and it's a least on the third floor and up," Nagin said. "Unfortunately, unless they can rent a car to get out of town, which I doubt they can at this point, they're probably in the position of riding the storm out."
In fact, while the last regularly scheduled train out of town had left a few hours earlier, Amtrak had decided to run a "dead-head" train that evening to move equipment out of the city. It was headed for high ground in Macomb, Miss., and it had room for several hundred passengers. "We offered the city the opportunity to take evacuees out of harm's way," said Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black. "The city declined."
So the ghost train left New Orleans at 8:30 p.m., with no passengers on board.
He also notes this conclusion from hurricane experts in Florida: "Louisiana Failed To Follow A Flawed Plan." He's got a lengthy analysis, with links and quotes.
UPDATE: More here: "The Times' reporters either don't know the facts, and didn't take the trouble to do any significant research in preparing their story, or else they know about the bus fiasco but don't want their readers to know."
posted at 05:32 PM by Glenn Reynolds
BORIS BITTKER HAS DIED. Brannon Denning, who sent me the link, observes that it's a shame there aren't more people like him in the academy these days. He's right. Boris was, quite literally, a gentleman and a scholar.
posted at 05:25 PM by Glenn Reynolds
KATRINA DRUG RELIEF: "Victims of Hurricane Katrina who have lost access to their Pfizer medications can receive an emergency supply at any Walgreens, Rite Aid, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club or CVS pharmacy." Seems like a good initiative.
His rise to power included the unusual promise to "destroy" the party that had made him its president so it could be rebuilt from the ground up.
His structural reforms, including capping government spending and cleaning up the country's debt-laden banks, have been only partially successful.
Even so, he remains one of the most popular prime ministers Japan has ever had, consistently receiving 50 percent or higher support in public opinion polls.
While pursuing reform at home, Koizumi is not likely to change his approach in foreign matters.
A strong backer of U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Iraq, he has dispatched non-combat troops to both areas. He also supports amending Japan's pacifist constitution to give the military more freedom to act overseas, although he said late Sunday he would not pursue that goal in his final year as prime minister.
Japan also is one of the United States' negotiating partners in the effort to disarm North Korea of its nuclear weapons.
Japan needs restructuring, and I hope that Koizumi can do it.
UPDATE: Roger Simon -- fresh back from Japan -- observes: "What is surprising, although mildly, is that the most charismatic - and in many ways progressive - politician on the world stage today is Japanese."
JEFF GOLDSTEIN isn't buying the "plenty of blame to go around" thesis.
posted at 05:02 PM by Glenn Reynolds
INSTAPUNDIT'S AFGHANISTAN CORRESPONDENT, Major Robert Macaraeg, sends these photos and reports:
Here are some images and a summary of a conversation from Afghanistan.
I was talking with one of interpreters yesterday and we were talking about the up coming parliamentary election. He stated that he would be voting and everybody he knew would do so too. When asked about the Taliban terror campaign to disrupt the election, he scoffed at them stating that the Afghan and American armies are disrupting the Taliban’s plans and the Afghan people will vote despite the Taliban’s efforts. I am thinking that the national participation in this election will have a higher participation level than some European or American elections. When I asked him why he and others will vote, he just pointed to the children hanging around interjecting with their views of the election.
A fitting 9/11 memorial of its own.
posted at 12:09 PM by Glenn Reynolds
MICHAEL BARONE says there's "blame aplenty" and points out people who are at fault, but also cautions:
But we should resist the notion that we can come up with some organizational solution that can prevent every mistake. Today, as we look back on World War II, we tend to think that everything worked smoothly. But that wasn't the case. Rick Atkinson's An Army at Dawn shows that U.S. commanders made many blunders in the 1942-43 North Africa campaign. There were constant complaints about bottlenecks and snafus in defense production, and President Roosevelt changed the organizational chart several times. In 2002, everyone agreed FEMA should be put under Homeland Security; now people say it should be taken out. Fortunately, we don't depend just on government. Millions of citizens have contributed $500 million, thousands are taking Katrina evacuees into their homes and schools and churches, and private companies are hurrying free supplies to those in need. Government will never be perfect, but fortunately America is more than just government.
UPDATE: Reader Vincent Flynn emails: "There were 21,000 buses in Louisiana. Her failure to procure them locally is bizarre."
posted at 10:09 AM by Glenn Reynolds
I'VE DONE THE 9/11 MEMORIAL POSTS EACH YEAR, and this one isn't any easier than the ones before. You can read the earlier stuff here,here, and here. And this post from the morning of September 11, 2001 still holds up pretty well.
I'm observing the anniversary by giving shooting lessons to a Marine (my secretary, who says that the Corps trained him admirably as a rifleman, but not so well with a handgun, which turns out to matter for a combat engineer defusing IEDs and the like, he found). That seems like a good way for me.