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Friday, September 30, 2005

William Bennett's Comments On Abortion

William Bennett has come back into the news in a big way since yesterday. Bennett has always been an extreme conservative, so much so that I think Attilla The Hun would quiver near him.

That's why I was surprised to read the first headlines of his new controversy. The headlines and lead paragraph of the story only related the dismal sounding portion of his on air conversation, which was that abortion, specifically abortion among blacks has lead to a reduced crime rate.

WB went on to say that he supposed that if you aborted every black baby, crime would go down. He went on to call that "an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky."

Now, if all you read is the first sentence above, it looks pretty horrible, if you read the whole paragraph it looks bad, but not nearly as crazy. However, if you put it all into the context of answering a callers question on someone else's assertation that the abortion rate among blacks has lead to a reduced crime rate, it looks like he was have a conversation of extrapolation on a theory.

Of course the last part doesn't matter, since the news is only concentrating on the part of his comments that sound like he endorses the idea. The fact is when you read everything he said, he didn't endorse it, he condemned it!
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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Is This Really The Biggest Problem in Her Life?

A visiting law school professor at the University of Iowa has decided to take on the football program. She's not angry that there are no women on the team, she's not mad about the number of scholarships football takes up.

Nope, she feels she's been injured by the fact that the visitors locker room is pink. That's right, by painting the locker room pink the football team is demeaning women, homosexuals, reinforcing sexual stereotypes, and just possibly could cause the end of the universe as we know it!

Here's my thought on it, if color of the visiting locker room at the football stadium is the biggest problem in her life, I want her life. In fact, if she doesn't switch places with me right now, I may have to sue!

Here's a link to the story....


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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Fair Tax Flawed??

I've been in an interesting discussion on Usenet (alt.economics) about House Resolution 25, the 2005 Fair Tax initiative, which would remove income, payroll, estate and gift taxes in favor of a 23% national sales tax on all new goods and services.

conceptually, I like the idea, but as written, I don't, for a few reasons.

First is that it doesn't require the repeal of the 16th Amendment which allowed for the income tax. Unless that goes away, my guess is that like every country that's gone to a Goods and Services Tax (which is what this is) we'll end up with an income tax also.

Second is the law of unintended consequences. The folks at www.fairtax.org like the idea that you can chose to save taxes by buying a used car for instance, because it wouldn't be subject to the tax. However, the unintended consequence is that new car sales would drop considerably, because they'd be subject to this tax. That means lots of auto workers looking for a job.

On that same line, rents and leases are taxable on real and personal property. Meaning that if you are a renter, you would pay a 23% premium.

I personally see new home sales falling through the floor, as the 23% tax is added to them.

Third is inflation. I say this because in 1997 The Cato Institute proposed just such a tax (http://cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-272.html) that was to be set at 12-15%, and would have eliminated more taxes than this one! That means in 8 years, the numbers have already jumped 50-90% depending on where they would have started. Where will in be in 8 more years?

Fourth, I believe that the figures they are throwing out are based on a flawed premise. They claim that all prices will come down because of the loss of the currently embedded taxes. However, only corporate taxes and the payroll end of SSI (7.65%) is embedded as a business cost on a product. The workers taxes cannot be considered an embedded cost to be saved and passed on unless the worker is going to take that amount of a pay cut, you figure the odds of that. The cost of labor, which is the workers full wage, is the cost, and the tax end of that comes from the worker, not the company.

Finally, while I hate the current "progressive tax system"; even with it's built in poverty level protection, The Fair Tax becomes a very regressive tax. For myself, in a 15% tax bracket, when you add in social security about 23%, it's kind of a wash. However, for someone in the lower end of the tax scale, say under $35,000 a year, who pays little if any taxes, and if a family gets the earned income credit, this would end up costing them money. Of course, if the little guy only buys used "stuff" they can save their tax money.

I'm personally in favor of moving to a flat tax, with a starting point of $35,000 for a family of four to be taxed, and a rate of about 15%, but don't see that going anywhere anytime soon either.
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Special Interest Problem

Mark Shields has a great column over at CNN.com, yes, a unabashed conservative like me does read what's going on at CNN...

The column concern's the Democratic party and it's special interest problems. I've said for a long time that as long as the far left interest groups are the loudest groups in the party, they are destined to be the minority party in congress.

Shields not only talks of the problem, but gives some very specific examples of where and how it's hurting them.

While special interests are hard on both parties, the fact is the GOP really has two groups that folks like to bash, business, and Christian conservatives. The Democrats have dozens, with environmentalists, unions, pro-choice groups, women's groups, and minority groups leading the way.

When the groups start yelling a lot, the problem the Dem's have is that they look like they are caving to them, and just giving fodder to the GOP machine to beat them up over it. When a lot of groups are yelling a lot, it makes for an horrible din, with no message coming out of it other than confusion. And because there are so many of them, it's almost impossible for the Democrats to actually have a true policy message, for fear of alienating one of them.
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Delay Indicted...

Tom DeLay was indicted by a Texas grand jury today for allegedly funnelling corporate donations to his PAC to the GOP national committee to redistribute to Texas GOP candidates. This would be a violation of Texas law, as corporate money can't be used directly by candidates, only to cover admin expenses.

TD has stepped down from his leadership position while he awaits trial on the charges, though he'll still be a member of congress.

It's really too bad that Pres. Bush and Denny Hastert didn't have the guts to force him out when this stuff first surfaced. While he's been a good party guy, the fact is the Prez and Speaker should have, for the good of the party, forced him to step down from his power position over a year ago.
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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Who Sponsored Cindy's Rally?

The answer to the title is "International A.N.S.W.E.R" (act now to stop the war and end racism).
What are their goals?

Stop the War in Iraq
End Colonial Occupation from Iraq to Palestine to Haiti
Support the Palestinian People’s Right of Return
Stop the Threats Against Venezuela, Cuba, Iran & North Korea
U.S. Out of the Philippines
U.S. Out of Puerto Rico
Bring all the troops home now
Stop the Racist, anti-Immigrant and anti-Labor Offensive at Home, Defend Civil Rights
Military Recruiters Out of Our Schools and Communities
(From their website).

Who do they support? Read for yourself, here's a link to the 8 page brochure they distributed...

Quick rundown for those who don't want to read their brochure...
Fidel Castro and Kim Il Jong are both hero's who should be respected, along with Hugo Chavez. Saddam's regime was a legitimate, as was his invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
Private Property Ownership is evil, and should end.
Palastinian suicide bombers are heros, and any Israeli is fair game.
We should leave Puerto Rico, a US protectorate which has voted against statehood but not to be independent (Evidently they don't know what's good for them).

After you read all of that, if your congressman/woman was at the rally you might want to ask them if they support all of the groups goals.
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Monday, September 26, 2005

Commander In Grief Arrested at Home of Commander In Chief

Cindy Sheehan, a woman who's gained fame as America's "Commander in Grief" was arrested today outside the White House while protesting the war in Iraq. Good on you Cindy, it's your right to demonstrate, and I spent 21 years of my life defending it.

Though I would caution, while you were yelling that "the whole world is watching", many of us were cheering.

On the Cindy beat, evidently she's sent an apology to readers of "The Daily Kos" for her rant about CNN not showing her on Saturday, and instead of concentrating on a hurricane.

Maybe she was hurt that readers on a leftwing website would say things that implied she's turning into the self-centered grandstanding egomaniac the right has portrayed her as.

While I hate the destruction caused by Katrina and Rita, I will say that the nearly month long break from Cindy news was kind of refreshing.
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Sunday, September 25, 2005

NY Times Public Editor Sides With Geraldo

BYRON CALAME, the public editor of the New York Times, has sided with Geraldo Rivera, in saying the paper should correct a story that claims he shoved Air Force rescuers out of the way in New Orleans to get in a shot of a woman being pulled from a flooded house.

This is the second time this month that Mr. Calame has beaten up the paper in his column. The first time, he asked (twice) for a factual correction from Paul Krugman, a columnist at the paper, and was blown off both times.

The fact that the Public Editor would call out Krugman has annoyed liberal bloggers, like "The DailyKos" to no end, because Paul is one of their heros.

I don't know how long Mr. Calame will last at the Times, but I hope it's awhile, he seems to not be run by ideology, and definitely doesn't seem to bend at the whim of the editorial board, something needed if the Times is going to become "America's Paper of Record" again, instead of the liberal rag that it's seen as by so many.
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Ramblings for today (Protesters, new links on the sidebar)

Do you think the anti-war protesters are angry that Hurricane Rita picked the day of their rally to come ashore. While Rita didn't do as much damage as feared to the Gulf Coast area of Texas and Louisiana, it sure washed the rally folks off my TV screen.

Added a couple of new links this week, one is to Hip Liz's blog, which is, well pretty Hip! Definitely like to read his stuff. He is not strictly a political blog, but that's good, we need to look at other stuff occasionally.

The other new link is to Charlie Sykes Blog. Charlie is a conservative talk show host on WTMJ radio in Milwaukee, and is one of the better local hosts I've heard. It's odd, but living in the DC area there is a lack of good talk radio here, or at least on stations that can be heard from outside the beltway. I started listening to Charlie when I lived in the northern part of Illinois, because he was also better than anything on the Chicago airwaves. Follow the link to his blog, and hit the listen live button some time when he's on.
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Anti-War Rally

Watched a little of the protest from DC yesterday on CSPAN. According to the AP and others, about 100,000 showed up. When I saw Ralph Nader talking the area around the stage was nearly empty, with what appeared to be a few thousand milling about the tents and displays that were set up.

I'm not convinced they hit the 100,000 mark, or even came close. Two reasons, one is what I stated above, and 2, the lack of photographs of the throngs of people that would have been there. Normally, when that many folks show up you get the wonderful roof top shot of the throngs, I can't find one anywhere. Instead, close ups of groups are what are on all of the websites.

Of course the star of the show was Commander-In-Grief, Cindy Sheehan, you remember her, right. The lady who's son enlisted (voluntarily) in the Army, then re-enlisted, voluntarily during a war, then volunteered to go on a mission, and was killed. Yeah, that's the lady, the one who says it's the President's fault her son is dead. All the pictures of her were close up shots of her and a dozen or so people, again, leading me to speculate that the turn out wasn't nearly what they hoped for.
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Thursday, September 22, 2005


For those not formerly or currently in the military, the title of this post "BOHICA" is an acronym for "Bend Over, Here it Comes Again!"

Probably the sentiment along the gulf coast as I write this. There is a 100 mile traffic jam leading out of Houston, half the TSA screeners didn't show up at the airport today (maybe they evacuated!), and of course, there are folks who refuse to leave, even after Katrina.

One small town Mayor in the area had a great idea, he's giving permanent markers to those who won't leave, and asking that they use them to write the name of the next of kin, and their own social security number on their bodies, so they'll be easier to identify after the storm passes.

I hope his point is made to those folks.
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Monday, September 19, 2005

Democrats Denounce Carter Panel

Democrats are denouncing the panel that included former President Jimmy Carter for it's suggestion that a free picture ID card be issued and required to vote, along with other changes it has recommended.

The Panel came about because of the controversy from the 2000 and 2004 elections, and widespread claims from both parties of voter fraud.

Carter did say that he was originally against the idea of the ID cards, but with many states passing laws to require picture ID's to vote, he felt a federal standard was a much better way to go.

John Conyers (D-Mich) and John Lewis (D-Ga) both came out against it, calling it a 21st century poll tax, to be used to keep minorities, the elderly, and disenfranchise voters.

The truth is, fraudulent voting disenfranchises those of us who do it right. It dilutes the value of the correctly cast vote, and that is what we should be trying to eliminate.

Giving away ID's to vote isn't going to disenfranchise anyone, if there was a charge for the ID, it would be another matter.

Unfortunately, Democrats are against anything that resembles creating an easy, fair way to ensure correct votes count, and illegal votes don't.
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Sunday, September 18, 2005

Liberals Scared of Rove in New Orleans

Liberal bloggers, usenet posters, and politicos are scared to death of the idea of Karl Rove heading rebuilding efforts in Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf Coast, but mostly of what he could do in New Orleans.

The mainstream media hasn't picked up on the little noticed paragraph in one of Bush's recent statements, but it evidently got the bloggers revved up.

Why are they upset, other than it's Rove? First, to anyone on the left he is the devil. But they are mostly upset because he gets results, and they know it, it's the reason they smear him so often and so harshly. He's been kicking their asses all over DC and in election strategy for five years, and now he's set to take them on in an arena that will be very public.

The real reason for the dismay is that New Orleans has little chance of coming back with a 67% poverty rate. Bush's proposals for enterprise zones, and land donations for private home building to the needy scare them. If the city comes back with concentrations of businesses other than service industry, chances are there will be more middle class, more homeowners, and more people with a stake in the city.

Forty years of "Great Society" programs couldn't fix New Orlean's poverty, crime and education problems. If three years of Karl Rove suddenly produces a vibrant, productive city that is more than Mardi Gras, it will show that conservative policies can work.

The truth is he won't deserve as much credit as he'll take, but any credit will be too much for the liberals. The majority of the poor, who owned nothing in the city probably won't come back right away, there won't be anything to support them for quite some time, so they'll probably end up somewhere else. Just the nature of the storm and rebuilding will cause some of New Orleans reshaping, but if Rove succeeds in any way, it will be too much an indictment of the last 40 years of social programs.
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Louisiana and FEMA

Found this in the LA Times.
WASHINGTON — 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.
In March, FEMA demanded that Louisiana repay $30.4 million to the federal government.

The rest of the story is at the Times (linked above), but this might explain FEMA sending in so many auditors during the rebuilding from Katrina.
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Friday, September 16, 2005

Molly Join's Jesse Jackson's Disinformation Campaign

Molly Ivins, in her latest column, has jumped on Jesse Jackson's bandwagon of disinformation about the Shaw Group and Halliburton contracts on the gulf coast.

As with the Mr. Jackson (I refuse to call him reverend anymore), Molly jumps on the Joe Allbaugh connection in Shaw, refusing to acknowledge the fact the company chairman is the Chair of the Democratic Party in Louisiana.

She also derides Halliburton's work, though conveniently forgetting that they are working on a contract they competitively bid last year.

Molly, like Jesse, is a joke. Papers shouldn't even carry them on the "opinion" page, they need to come up with a lies, misinformation, and whining page for those two columns. (Marky Steyn, the conservative columnist could join them there, he's just as bad).

My guess is that neither Ivins or Jackson would like to write about Joseph Cari, a former finance chairman for the Democratic National Committee, who just plead guilty in Illinois to shaking down companies involved with the state's Teachers Pension Fund this week. Or the fact that the Governor of the State of Illinois is also being mentioned in the same scandal.
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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bitch Slapping Planned Parenthood

First, the title is a joke, get over it!

Second, I believe that Planned Parenthood does a lot of very good work for a lot of people, including very direct family members of mine.

However, I take exception to their trying to brand any limit on abortion; including partial birth and parental notification; as the end of the world as we know it. Personally I wonder how the president of PP would feel if her son (if she has one) broke his leg in a soccer match, and the coach took him for an amputation, without notifying her, when a cast would work? Abortion is no less a medical procedure, but they'd like to keep parents of juviniles out of it.

Today Karen Pearl appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee at the Roberts hearings, and as expected opposed him, as the group has every male nominated to the Court since John Paul Stevens. She even referenced the "chill wind" that liberals feel so often in her statement.

However, Arlen Specter, not exactly a pro-life idealogue, beat her down, pointing out that her group had opposed Stevens, Kennedy, and held rallies against Souter, all on the grounds that they were going to over turn Roe v. Wade, and were wrong in each of those cases.

Senator Sessions even produced the fliers claiming if Souter was confirmed, women would die, and advertised a rally against him, co-sponsored by Planned Parenthood.

If anything, Specter was the surprise knowing he's a pro-choice Republican. He basically slapped down Planned Parenthood for their constant harping against any republican nominee, even though they hold the same view on Roe.
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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

New Orleans and Prevailing Wage

Because so many prominent Democrats are screaming about the President lifting prevailing wage restrictions for the rebuilding of New Orleans and the surrounding area, I did some Davis-Bacon research, and found the Prevailing Wage Tables.

For those who don't know what Davis Bacon is, it requires the payment of a "prevailing wage" on any contract who's value is over two thousand dollars. The determination of prevailing wages are made in two ways. The first is based on collectively bargained (union) wage rates. If half of the workers in a trade in an area are under collectively bargained contracts, according to Davis Bacon that scale will be used. If the fifty percent threshold isn't met, then the average of the wages of people in that trade for the area are used.

Congressman George Miller should probably read the DOL website and find out how prevailing wage works, since his memo on the subject is completely wrong.

So, I looked up (using the above link) the rates for New Orleans, and lo and behold, only carpenters, masons, and common laborers in commercial and residential construction and road construction weren't represented by unions in the area.

Laborers for heavy construction are paid on a negotiated wage scale, and they make only about fifty cents an hour more than those without a union contract, plus some extra benefits.

Sounds like two problems in Louisiana, 1, the unions haven't done a good job of organizing the folks not in heavy construction, and 2, even when they do, they don't get them much of a pay increase. Most of it is probably sucked up by union dues anyway, making it moot.

Now, if you'd like to go into shock, look up the tables for Lake County Illinois, where a common laborer is payed $26 per hour, plus about 40% of that in fringe benefits if they work on a federal contract! Makes me want to push a broom again.
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Roberts Hearings

I've gotten to watch a few hours of the confirmation hearings for John Roberts over the last few days, and have come to a conclusion, the Democrats on the committee have a sole purpose of getting him to answer a question he's previously refused to answer. Their inability to do that over the last couple of days led them today to try and get him to say he doesn't support education, is a bigot (basically), favors large corporations over anyone, and anything else they could call a horribly "out of the mainsteam opinion".

Dick Durbin (who after these hearings, I'm even more ashamed represents my state on that committee) spent 20 minutes trying to get Judge Roberts to say he wanted illegal aliens tossed out of schools, based on a memo to the Attorney General stating that the Solicitor General didn't follow the AG's guidelines in presenting the case. Mr. Durbin has been called a very bright legal mind, but his questioning represented the lowest form of partisan politician around.

Judge Roberts did a wonderful job on disputing the out of context interpretation that Mr. Durbin was trying to rope him into, and pointed out many of the folks who were probably disappointed that he didn't ignore his job and praise the decision were probably very happy when he did pro-bono work helping a convicted murderer with his appeals.

I'm hoping that folks who've only read talking point memos from liberal interest groups have actually watched him. Those who are still able to think on their own will appreciate his methods, and thoughts on the law. Those who are tied to the left into believing anyone Bush nominates is evil will only complain he won't give specific views on current cases, (regardless of the judicial oath he's taken).

After watching probably six or seven hours of the questioning I've come away with one opinion, the man always takes the same side, regardless of the case, and that side always seems to be the side of law. What else do you want in a Chief Justice?
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History Lesson For U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton has declared the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. He has obviously been watching closely the Roberts hearings in Washington, as he used the excuse of the 2002 ruling by the 9th Circuit as precident as the reason for his ruling.

Now, he could just as easily used the 2005 ruling by the 4th Circuit in Richmond Va as the basis for his "following precident" declaration, and probably been much more correct. In case the Judge has forgetten, the Supreme Court tossed the case the 9th heard, based on the fact that the person (same guy as this time) who filed didn't have cause to file. If he didn't have cause to file in the Supreme Court, he didn't have cause to file in any US Court, therefore the 2002 ruling shouldn't be looked on as precident. It shouldn't be looked on at all!

For a baseball analogy (they seem to be the rage this week in court circles); if a baserunner were to pass another baserunner then score, it is an illegal play. The correct ruling is to call the man who passed as "out", and not count the run. Under Judge Karlton's logic we'd call the man out (as the Supreme Court did), but still let his run count in the score and subsequent records.

The 4th Circuit on the other hand, called the pledge an exercise in patriotism, not religious indoctrination, and therefore allowed the Virginia law to stand.

Looks like John Roberts will get to play baseball with this one.

PS, to the 9th Circuit; who will get the first appeal; you need to toss this one based on what I stated above.
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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Letter To Chicago Sun Times

I sent this letter to the Chicago Sun Times based on Jesse Jackson's column in the paper today.

In Mr. Jackson's column of 13 September "Hurricane Looting Not Over Yet" he derides the fact that Shaw Group is getting contracts for the rebuilding in the aftermath of Katrina, calling it a "Republican linked group". He fails to mention in his column that the CEO of Shaw Group, J.M. Bernhard, Jr. is also the chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party.

He also complains of Haliburton's post Katrina work, but that is being done on Navy facilities, under a contract they won on a competitive bid in 2004 to provide construction work for the Navy.

His complaints about "prevailing wage" relaxation is also totally misleading, the only wage he used was the $9.00, which is for a common laborer. Skilled trade wages under Davis Bacon for Orleans Parish range from $12.28 per hour for roofers and mason's to $22.78 for sprinkler fitters. The scales can be found on the Dept. of Labor website if Mr. Jackson or the editorial board would like to look at them.

What the President's order does is allow a contractor to continue paying the wage he or she has already negotiated with an employee, and not change it because of federal dollars being involved in the reconstruction, and saves companies the tons of paperwork required under Davis Bacon.

Mr. Jackson has devolved from a respected civil rights leader in this country into a partisan political hack, who's race baiting after the hurricane, and current column full of false, misleading, and intentionally distorted information do no service to anyone, and only work to dig a deeper divide in the country.

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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Did Environmentalists Cause Destruction of New Orleans?

I was looking for info the "post-Betsy" work in New Orleans for strengthening their levee system. For those (like me) who are too young to remember, in 1965 a Cat 2 storm, Betsy, hit New Orleans and broke a few levees.

So, everyone is angry with the folks at the Army Corps of Engineers for not strengthening the levees, and pointing fingers. But here's an article from National Review (an admitted conservative mouthpiece, I'll balance it later). It describes environmental group lawsuits as recently as the late 1990's over Corps projects to build up the levee system in New Orleans.

And one from the LA Times (thought linked through the Chicago Tribune) that describes the 1967 law to do a major rework on the New Orleans system, including floodgates, that was brought to a halt by Save Our Wetlands.

So the big question is, did environmentalists put crawfish and shrimp ahead of human safety? And does the $500 million it would cost to build the 1967 project seem like overspending, now that we've appropriated over $60 billion as a down payment on repairs?

I'm not saying either of these projects would have saved New Orleans, however, watching the news reports, the city seemed to be spared the brunt of the wind damage from the storm, being on the west eyewall will do that. How much of the flooding might have been prevented with floodgates on the canal system, and higher levees on the lakes, projects stopped by environmental groups?
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A Better New Orleans?

Will a better New Orleans area emerge from this disaster? It's hard to say, but one thing is for sure, it won't emerge quickly.

In our age of instant news, 10 second sound bites, and "the next big thing" everyone has probably forgotten Hurricane Ivan from last year. Unless they live in the area hit by Ivan, which still has large numbers of houses with blue tarp roofs and missing siding because contractors in the area are too overwhelmed with work to get to them all.

With large numbers of residents of the city in other areas, many already looking for housing and jobs, it's a good guess that the city won't return to it's pre-Katrina size of 450,000 any time soon.

It's a good bet many of the poor will resettle somewhere else, where ever it is they've been dropped off. This alone may reduce the poverty rate in the city, but probably isn't the way anyone thought of reducing that rate.

The big thing is some thoughtful planning now has to take place, and it has to replace emotional planning for reconstruction.

The city will undoubtedly receive huge federal block grants for rebuilding. If they chose to rebuild "as it was", they are inviting it to become a destination for tourists again, and poverty hell for citizens.

Instead they need to look at a rebuilding plan that concentrates on attracting something other than the tourist industry, and it's low wage jobs. There are going to be huge areas of the city that have to be razed, and in the rebuilding, turning some of them into light industrial parks or other types of areas that generate a tax base and provide good jobs should be priority one.

The Super Dome and French Quarter need to stay, and do need to attract tourists, as a part of the plan, but that can't be the only plan as it has been for decades.

Check back in a year, and we'll know if they chose the route that will lead to a prosperous city, or if they've decided "that's the way it's always been", which would be as big a tragedy in the long run as Katrina.
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Friday, September 09, 2005

Too Many Boneheads

Hurricane Katrina definitely brought out the boneheads on all sides of the aisle.

Barbara Bush, sounding like Marie Antoinette, saying the evacuation might be okay for some of the folks since they lived in poverty.

Moveon.Org, for trying to exploit hurricane victims, then finding out most everyone found it disgusting, so they denied they had made the commercial using their images.

Howard Dean, well, enough said.

Kayne West, for his comments on NBC.

Nancy Pelosi, for linking Hurricane Katrina to her opinion of John Roberts.

Micheal Brown, head of FEMA, for being slow, though no slower than the instructions states have say FEMA would be, and then for not being able to articulate how the process works. He deserved to be a scapegoat.

Mayor Nagins and Gov. Blanco for not being able to A) Read their disaster plans, and B) not being able to make decisions.

George Bush, for not explaining why he can't just send in the Feds. The Insurrection Act didn't apply here, and the Posse Commitatus act doesn't allow federal troops to be cops, or take control over a governors wishes. But if you listen to the Governor of La, or the Prez you'd never know that.

Jesse Jackson, for deciding refugee is a racist term. Of course, Jesse wants the phrase "the pot callng the kettle black" changed too.

RFK Jr. For claiming Haley Barbour brought the whole thing on.

And the list could go on ad naseum.
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Monday, September 05, 2005

Update on Last Post

Evidently the wording of O'Connors resignation, and the rules of the Supreme Court will make it even more imparitive for liberals to hold up confirming not only Roberts, but the justice who will actually replace O'Connor.

If they hold up Roberts they have a 8 person court, and John Paul Stevens will act as the CJ. Contrary to popular belief, especially in the Democratic party by the sights on todays news, the Chief really doesn't do much other than preside over meetings, and assign cases that come to the court for review by the associates. The hope is evidently while he's in charge, Stevens will give the easy stuff to the conservatives, and anything that could be used to write law from the bench to the liberals.

The O'Connor issue is bigger, though. Because she's agreed to stay on the court until her replacement is confirmed, she could well be sitting into October and the start of the term. However, unless she is on the court when they release the results of votes, her vote doesn't count. This could essentially make it an 8 person court, 4 liberals, 4 conservatives.

In the great liberal fashion, if they can't win,they'll stall. My guess is they will stall, especially if any case of importance to liberal causes is scheduled before the court in October. I guess the big question is can they find a way to stall until 2009, the next time they MIGHT have a chance to actually name a justice.
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Delay Confirmation Hearings?

It appears there will be a minimum of a one week delay in the confirmation hearings of John Roberts for the Supreme Court.

This initial delay is to allow for the funeral of William Rehnquest, the late Chief Justice.

However, Senate Democrats, Chris Dodd, and Ted Kennedy specifically are calling for a delay because of Hurricane Katrina.

Now, I'm not exactly sure what Ted and Chris are doing for the relief effort, but I'm sure it could spare the nine senators on the Judiciary Committee to get the hearings underway.

What they are really doing is stalling to keep the court at 8 members; not 7; O'Connor said she'd sit until her successor was confirmed. This means that the court has lost a social conservative in Rehnquest, and by keeping O'Connor around, they are at best going to be stalled 4-4 on any vote in that arena until Roberts in confirmed.

After a week the Democratic members will suggest that the hearings be delayed until Bush names the new Chief Justice, and then they'll want to delay again if it's Roberts, needing "more information". They'll claim the 50,000 pages they already have isn't enough.

We now get to watch the democrats Four Corners Offense when it comes to Supreme Court nominees.
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Sunday, September 04, 2005

Questions Need to be Asked

Questions about the devastation that was wrought by Hurricane Katrina need to be asked. The death toll is going to reach into the thousands, and during the inevitable hearings to come in a few months, both the preplanning, initial response, and the response immediately after the hurricane all need to be looked into.

Preplanning seems to have been done, as I've posted earlier, and been on the news, the City, State and FEMA have all run scenarios for just this disaster, updating the plans as recently as April and distributing information this June.

But after the planning, the plan seems to have broken down. Someone will surely bring up the photos of hundreds of empty school buses underwater Monday, and ask why they weren't being used to evacuate people over the weekend.

The Superdome and Convention Center have been, for years by my research, the "shelters of last resort". Estimates in the 1990's and up through this year anticipated the number of people that would use them, and seemed quite accurate. Yet there didn't seem to be enough food, water, or anything else on hand to take care of those people. The city recommended in it's brochure that you have a weeks worth of food and water if you were riding out a storm, yet the Superdome and Convention Center were out after a day or so.

Both sites were also to act as transportation staging areas for those without means to leave town. Yet every interview I've seen or read on the subject said people were there as early as Saturday, and buses never showed to get them out before the storm.

What was the evacuation plan for the hospitals, or was there one? It seems as though every hospital in the city was still full of patients after the storm, meaning somewhere the ball was dropped, in a big way.

Why wasn't the National Guard out in force on Saturday and Sunday, evacuating residence? While it is obvious they couldn't have stayed in town into Monday either, it seems they could have been activated and sent in when the mandatory evacuation notices were given; and at a point say 12 hours prior told to leave, returning when the "all clear" was given.

In the immediate aftermath, the question should come up about the state's requests for help. So far I've read in papers from Illinois, Michigan, and Virginia of convoys of police and other responders being held up because they didn't have permission from Louisiana. Yes, it sounds silly in a situation like this, but states aren't allowed to send armed people into other states without permission.

Why wasn't FEMA prestaged with at least some relief supplies and teams so that they could have been in quicker.

Why wasn't the military activated quicker to assist, apart from those stationed in immediate vicinity? Contrary to popular belief on the net this week, the President doesn't have the authority to active national guard and federal troops into a domestic situation, for those instances NG troops are controlled at the state level. Federal troops must be requested by the state.

However, that rule probably needs some revision for natural disasters. It could also have been avoided by have the request sent on Friday, when he pre-declared the area a disaster site.

There's been a lot of knee jerk talk, make FEMA a cabinet level post, but that really wouldn't solve anything, unless congress is going to pass laws allowing FEMA to activate the Guard or Federal troops for the situations, among other things.

So there is a lot to be asked, and a lot to be learned. The big question will be are we going to try and learn anything, or spend two months of congress' time holding hearings to point fingers.
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Great Music, Great Musician

Just bought a great CD, and one anyone who likes Guitar Rock should buy. The CD, American Made, World Played by Les Paul and friends is an incredible display of guitar talent; and that's just by 90 year old Les Paul, the father of the solid body electric guitar.

Included on CD are Steve Miller, Eric Clapton, Sting, Joss Stone, Edgar Winter, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Johnny Rzeznik, Billy Gibbons, Richie Sambora, Keith Richards, Rick Derringer, Joe Perry, Buddy Guy, Steve Lukather and Peter Frampton, among others.

For those who think he's just a name on a guitar, Mr. Paul is really the father of guitar rock, 8 track recording, and a host of other electronic innovations starting in the 1930's and still going today.

He's in the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame (with Edison), the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and has Grammy awards not only for recording, but for technical innovation. He also holds patents on electric guitar pickups and designs, mult-track recorders and a number of other ideas.

Keith Richards summed it up in the liner notes "It has to be said, we must all up that without Les Paul, generations of flash little punks like us would be in jail or cleaning toilets. This man, by his genius made the road that we still travel today."

So, if you need so good guitar rock, and want to hear a legend with his disciples, check out Les Paul and Friends.
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Now It Could Get Real Ugly

I'm not referring to the aftermath of the hurricane with my title. I'm referring to the fact that before John Roberts has had his confirmation hearings William Rehnquist has passed away.

The Chief Justice has not, as the left will claim, been a hard right idealogue in his bench career, though he has remained more conservative than many justices before him.

I think that Roberts may have just gotten a break on his confirmation, in that the press, and left wing action groups, will have to concentrate not only on his background, but also the new Chief Justice Select's confirmation, and another associate justice.

However some of the loudest ultra liberal voices, the Shumer and Kennedy group, will probably make lots of noise over all three slots being filled.

It's going to make for an interesting September.
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Saturday, September 03, 2005

I'm Becoming More Cynical.....

After reading dozens of blog posts, hearing the Congresssional Black Caucus members and Al Sharpton on TV, and getting the "racism" angle on the New Orleans situation crammed down my throat I started doing some research on the New Orleans evacuation plan.

What I found actually startled me, because listening to the news the past few days we've all been led to believe that there really wasn't much of a plan to get folks out of the city, especially the poor, or elderly.

As it turns out, there was a very good plan in place, and it was not only recently revised based on Hurricane Ivan last year, but heavily advertised, with free maps and info packets being provided since early summer to residents.

Here's a link to the City Of New Orleans website with the basics of it.

The Red Cross paid for a million copies of a brochure outlining evacuation routes, emergency contacts, etc; for distribution in a city of 480,000. (Here's one of the brochures)

My point in all of this is that it's appearing that more and more of the victims are voluntary victims of this storm, not the target of some conspiracy to erradicate the low income inner city folks from the city.

Of course, none of that really matters, disasters make it easy to take potshots at opponents political rivals, and ignore the facts, because too many people will be to busy to look up the facts.
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Friday, September 02, 2005

If You are Healthy Enough To Loot...

If you are one of the folks in N.O. healthy enough to loot, I don't wanna hear your crying about the state of the city! If you've got enough energy to loot stores, shoot at the folks trying to help, and bitch, you probably were healthy enough to leave when you were told to.

Hopefully the arrival of the guard will cause the departure of looters, either in body bags, hand cuffs, or if they are smart, empty handed, on a bus, acting like the thousands of other stranded folks.

For those who were pillaging TV, stereo and computer equipment, if you get out of town with it I truly hope you get electrocuted when you plug it in, that's what you deserve.

If you took food to feed yourself and distributed it to others, good on you, thanks for trying to do the sensible thing.
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New Orleans

I'm sorry, but I'm having a problem having sympathy for a lot of the "victims" of Hurricane Katrina. Why? How can a person be so crass to not have sympathy. It's quite simple. If you had the ability, and opportunity to leave the city, but stayed because you lived through Camille or Betsy or some other storm, so you decided to stay, you deserve what ever you got.

Now, if you were unable to leave, I feel very sorry for you, my heart is crying for those who couldn't get out, those in nursing homes and hospitals, the elderly without transportation, etc. And I will send money to the Red Cross to try and help you, even though I know some of it will go to the nimwits who decided on their own to stay.

The other thing I'm getting ticked about is the idea that the federal government (ie, my taxes) should have been used earlier to reinforce the levee system in the city. I'm sorry, but why should I pay millions, or billions, to build levees for people who decide to live below sea level? If it was so important to the folks in New Orleans to have the system upgraded, they should have been putting money into it for the "decades" that the federal government has supposedly been ignoring them.

I lived in that area for a year, and loved it, but made a choice to not stay there, hurricanes being one of the big reasons. I do live near a coast now, but not on it, and while I may have to deal with the after effects of a hurricane, specifically tornades, I know that if I end up flooded hundreds of feet above sea level and 30 miles inland, then I should have built an ark.

To those who have lost loved ones in this tragedy, I feel for you. I feel very bad for those who are suffering those loses because of the stubborness of their loved one's and refusals to leave. But please don't ask me to morn  the person who stayed.

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Super George To The Rescue?

Reading the Washington Post editorial page the last few days, along with a few other papers and blogs, I've decided that the President didn't jump into the phone booth soon enough to don his cape and tights and save New Orleans.

According to the second guessers he should have headed to Washington Saturday, not that he could have done any more from that location than he could from Texas. He'd already declared a federal state of emergency.

 And, if RFK jr is right, the added exhaust of AF 1 flying may have made the storm worse, since the plane would have flown over that area of the country.

Evindently from Washington the Prez could have ordered some sort of pre-emptive, unilateral action against the hurricane, though other writers would then have faulted him for not talking to the UN, or at least asking Katrina to leave first.

Finally, he should have flown personally to the area, and moved the Hurricane his own, causing it to head south or west, into South America or Mexico, where we could all have watched on TV, said what a shame, and sent a check to a phony charity that would really use the money to fund porn sights and new computer worms.

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