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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Roads Into Gulfport - Boomr Marooned

All right, I have posted everywhere I can think of, and I am not finding much except other poeple trying to find out the same thing. If anyone knows of open roads into Gulfport, please leave a comment. There must be a way. This is starting to seem like one of those bad WWII movies.

I have Boomr's number but I can't get through.

Update: I got road info from Free Republic. Less than an hour after I registered! Nice forum. I'm in a good mood.

Boomr Search Ends, Boomr Rescue Begins.

See Barking Dingo. He and his family are alive but stuck in a furniture warehouse. They need a ride. I may go.

Superdome to Astrodome

NOLA reports that they are planning to bus people from the Superdome to the Astrodome:
The 23,000 New Orleans evacuees who have been holed up at the Superdome with little air conditioning, food and water, will be bused 12 hours to Houston to be housed for an indefinite period at the Houston Astrodome, Gov,. Kathleen Blanco said Wednesday.

Department of Social Services Secretary Ann Williamson said the buses should start rolling later Wednesday. About 475 vehicles have been arranged to ferry the evacuees to Houston.
After they get this lot of people out, they will drop more off at the Superdome, in its smelly squalor, to be ferried somewhere. I'm starting to think that the only way that people are actually going to get a place to live is for towns to adopt them. I can't imagine what it would be like to have been sitting in the Superdome with no functioning toilets, no way to bathe, no AC, little food or water and then be told that I am going to be taken to the Astrodome. Some of these people are going to be getting very ill soon. There are a lot of children.

SunHerald.com reports that looting has hit Gulfport. The police announced that they will arrest anyone caught on the streets after 6 PM. The top looting targets are food, water, beer and cigarettes.

New Orleans: Facing The Inevitable

I think this is going to turn into a giant political mess. There are already accusations flying on DU about deliberate plans to drown New Orleans, and Howard has pointed out some other political shenigans. It may be that federal authorities are unwilling to face the reality, which is that New Orleans will most certainly not be a dry city for months, and after that it will be far longer before it can become a liveable city.

The local authorities will surely point fingers at the feds. Part of this situation is the human inability to understand how such a situation can happen so suddenly. But people will have to overcome their amazement and concentrate on the priority of relocating people into functioning communities. I am not suggesting stopping trying to fix the problem; I am just pointing out that it will be a long time before the city can be stabilized and the process of restoring water and utilities can even begin.

The reason why I say this is that a levee break like the 17th Street Canal breach is not easy to repair. It appears that the levee was scoured by overflow. That means that as water came over the top, it dug out a pit at the foot of the wall on the dry side. Eventually the pit undermined the levee and it collapsed. The talk of simply dumping sandbags in there is fiction, and the break is expanding. Yesterday it was reported as 200 feet; today it has been reported as 300 feet. As the water flows through the gap, it is digging away at the foundations of the levee on each side of the break and undermining additional sections.

The tidal flow will keep sloshing more water in and out of there, so this is not going to be simple. Lest I be accused of a conspiracy against New Orleans, here are some articles explaining what I am saying. The best is this SFgate article which explains a lot about how levee breaks in other places have been fixed and what is required. Access is the most important factor, and the 17th Street levee is not very accessible to the type of barges or trucks required to bring in the material required. Here's another article explaining what is known about the 17th Street Canal break.

Several important points are the tidal flow and the lack of accessibility. The first priority is to shore up the ends. You don't have to use boulders. You could use manufactured steel and concrete caissons, but you have to have some way to get them there. As the SFgate article points out, the usual way to do this is to use barges or build an access road. Dropping huge and heavy stuff in from the air requires specialized helicopters. Nor can you carefully place the shoring materials this way. If they try to bombard this thing from the air they may well end up knocking down more of the levee. And just dropping materials in the middle won't work either. Even if you can get heavy enough materials in the middle to hold, all that does is divert the water toward the ends of the break which expands the breach.

They can try to sandbag the ends of the levee breach to stop the expansion, but it is going to be very hard to prevent more scouring as long as much water is running through the gap. That scouring will tend to undermine the piles of sandbags as it digs pits around the edges. You are working against time so the lack of access makes this a much harder problem.They may have to block the water flow in the canal itself to slow this down enough to repair the breach. It may well be a few weeks until they even have a workable plan. I am sure they will keep trying, but it is not a simple matter.

A couple of quotes from the articles. The State:
Until engineers can repair breaks in the huge levees that separate New Orleans from Lake Pontchartrain, the city will essentially be an arm of the Gulf of Mexico, subject to the ebb and flow of the tides.

And because the tidal pull weakens the levees and widens the breaks, experts said Tuesday, that will make it all the more difficult to repair them.
• One challenge was that the narrow canal is not accessible by barge, in part because a newly built low bridge and hurricane barrier sits 700 feet down the canal toward the lake end.

“We can’t get at it,” he said.

• Another problem is that whatever is done to block the breach also must not block the canal itself, because that would impede the pumping of the floodwaters.
Engineers who have patched broken barriers in California say it could take weeks -- even months -- before the levees damaged from Hurricane Katrina are repaired and for floodwaters to be pumped out.
Maurice Roos, chief hydrologist for the state Department of Water Resources, said it usually took two to four weeks to fill large levee breaks and stop the flow of water, but that's just part of the problem.

"The question is how fast can you drain the area that's flooded,'' Roos said. "The longer the water is there, the worse the damage.''
Once they even get close to repairing the 17th Street break there are other breaks. Under the best of circumstances the city of New Orleans continuously pumps water out of its lowlying areas, so this flooding is not likely to improve. During the period of fixing the levees, which may well take months, any severe storms may worsen the situation quite dramatically.

Nationally we must turn our attention to the hundreds of thousands of people who have been uprooted. They need places to live with schools, hospitals and municipal services.

Katrina, Day Three

NOLA.com and Michelle Malkin continue to have excellent coverage. One of the most disturbing stories reported late last night was of looters gathering outside the Children's Hospital in New Orleans:
Late Tuesday, Gov. Blanco spokeswoman Denise Bottcher described a disturbing scene unfolding in uptown New Orleans, where looters were trying to break into Children's Hospital.

Bottcher said the director of the hospital fears for the safety of the staff and the 100 kids inside the hospital. The director said the hospital is locked, but that the looters were trying to break in and had gathered outside the facility.
While sucking in my coffee-flavored anti-oxidants this morning, I noticed this thread on DU about what the response should be. First read Kobayashi Maru's joke from yesterday, and then continue to the DU thread. DU's opinions varied from shooters on the roof to those who felt the crowd was probably just looking for a safe place. Others recommended taking pictures and looking threatening. In general, break-ins at hospitals are focused on drugs, so I doubt that would be workable. Another suggested that the authorities were involved in a conspiracy not to stop looters in downtown neighborhoods.

On the brighter side, the word is that water flooding into New Orleans is lessening, because water levels outside are dropping. At least one levee breach is now letting water out of New Orleans. Maybe they will make some progress today on the 17th Street break. I am hoping NOLA got this wrong and that breach has not expanded to 500 feet:
Meanwhile, Blanco said officials are working rapidly to fill the hole in the 17th Street Canal, where a 500-foot breach is allowing water to pour into the city. Areas of the city that were dry or had low water early Tuesday were slowly filling up with the water by Tuesday evening.
There should be more satellite photographs when it gets light.

I am guessing that Florida Cracker was right about the situation inside the Superdome from this statement of Blanco's on the NOLA (Times-Picayune) blog:
Blanco said part of the population in the Dome are people “who do not have any regard for others.” But “many good people” also are living in the Dome, she said, including mothers with babies.
She said it must be evacuated. However, the staff of The Times-Picayune is returning to normalcy. I base this on the top entry in their blog which discusses the fate of the New Orleans Saints. Football ueber alles. The reports are that all communications to the Gulfport-Biloxi area are down, so the Sun Herald's blog is not being updated. They posted several numbers for use though:
If you are from the area, please call 1-866-453-1925 to let someone know that you're OK. Even if you fled before the storm, friends and relatives might not know you're safe. We hope to share that information when we can.

If you work for The Sun Herald, call 1-800-346-2472 to let us know where you are.
Good luck to everyone waiting for news of family and friends.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Gulfport-Biloxi Update

The Clarion Ledger reports that authorities are confirming 100 dead in Harrison County, but fear that the final death toll will be considerably higher:
An emergency management official has confirmed more than 100 dead from Hurricane Katrina in the Biloxi-Gulfport area.

"We are very, very worried that this is going to go a lot higher," said Joe Spraggins, civil defense director for Harrison County, home to Biloxi and Gulfport. "We're just estimating but the number could go double or triple from what we're talking now."
It sounds like most of those were in Biloxi, but who knows. Apartment buildings were pulled right off their foundations.

The HoustonChronicle reports that authorities are still trying to dam the 17th Street levee break in New Orleans:
Tonight they put the plan into action. They were filling 3,000-pound cargo containers full of sand, rock or other heavy materials. They intended to fly these containers and 180 concrete barriers by helicopter to the site, and place them into the breach.

Succeeding will be difficult from the air alone, engineers said. And, after the corps drops each cargo container and concrete barrier into the breach, water will flow through the remaining hole faster and with more force.
They are also wondering how the breach occurred, and theories abound:
Corps of Engineers officials said their analysis indicated that a limited amount of water washed over the top of the levee in waves, scouring and weakening the foundation on the levee's dry side.

Suhayda said that's possible. But another possibility is that, during the half-day floodwaters built up in Lake Pontchartrain and the canal, water may have percolated through the earthen part of the berm, undermining it.
Let's hope other levees don't get undermined. One report from a PA trainee working in a hotel reported that the river reversed course before the hurricane, so a lot of pressure must have built up back there.

Levees And Riots In New Orleans

It's imperative that the authorities evacuate the prisons in New Orleans, but Michelle Malkin (who has great, great coverage), reports at least one prison riot and hostage situation. Just go to her page and read.

If the levee break is as bad as feared, there may be a chain of other events in the city. Water is heavy, and the modern infrastructure of New Orleans has never been tested under weeks of this sort of test. Buildings may shift and other levees may be undermined and fail if waterlogged for too long. A couple of gas explosions could produce frightening effects if they jiggle the soil enough.

They have to clear the city quickly. They have to. After about three days no one has any idea of what may happen. Here is an article from last year that describes some of the problems. The levee system was greatly expanded in the 1970s, and it undercut the wetlands:
And there's another reason why scientists worry more about hurricanes every single year. There's always been a huge natural buffer that helps protect New Orleans from storms. There are miles of wetlands between here and the Gulf of Mexico: they slow hurricanes down as they blow in from the sea. But that buffer is disappearing. Every year, a chunk of wetlands the size of Manhattan crumbles and turns into open water.

Joe Suhayda explains, "So the hurricane can move closer to the city before it starts to decrease. So in effect, the city is moving closer to the Gulf as each year goes by."

And he says, it's partly because of those levees along the Mississippi River. When they stopped the river from flooding, they also prevented the wetlands from getting the regular doses of floodwater and mud that they need to survive. Studies show that if the wetlands keep vanishing over the next few decades, then you won't need a giant storm to devastate New Orleans — a much weaker, more common kind of hurricane could destroy the city too.
The Barking Dingo posted an article about stupid encroachments on those wetlands. The whole story is complicated, but the major point is that when they stopped the Mississippi from flooding, they stopped the natural feeder system of the wetlands. So, to continue:
New Orleans has protected itself from past floods partly with the levees, but the city also operates one of the biggest pumping systems on earth. There are giant turbines all across town, and every time there's a major rain, they suck up the water and pump it out. Combes says that system won't work after a huge hurricane.
But one thing the article did not cover is that enough water sitting inside the levee system for too long will change the underlying soil characteristics. The land has been artificially dried and so it is artificially stable. Weeks of waterlogging will inevitably produce more fluid sections and pockets between more stable chunks (clay/gravel deposits) and soil substrates. You could see rapid subsidence in some areas and land rising in others. You could see some sideways slippage of clay substrates. Roads will buckle and buildings may shift. The mixture of soils that compose a delta can become quite unstable under certain conditions.

All through history mankind has been building cities on river deltas, and history resounds with stories of their sudden downfalls. Modern cities are actually lighter than most older ones with massive stone construction, but the underlying problem is the same. A sudden disruption of an artificially-created but balanced slow deterioration of the delta formation starts a chain reaction.

For more information see this Time article:
What is threatening New Orleans is a combination of two man-made problems: more levees and fewer wetlands. The levees installed along the Mississippi to protect the city from water surges have had a perverse effect: they have actually made it more vulnerable to flooding. That's because New Orleans has been kept in place by the precarious balance of two opposing forces. Because the city is constructed on 100 feet of soft silt, sand and clay, it naturally "subsides," or sinks, several feet a century. Historically, that subsidence has been counteracted by sedimentation: new silt, sand and clay that are deposited when the river floods. But since the levees went up—mostly after the great flood of 1927—the river has not been flooding, and sedimentation has stopped.
The upshot is that New Orleans has been sinking as much as 3 ft. a century.
Science Daily, 2000. Also from 2000, Risk & Insurance. This explains the subsidence problem well, plus explains how the newer larger buildings are constructed with special types of pilings to stabilize them in unstable soils. Basically, drying soil makes it heavier, and buildings on top of that push down. That is why chunks of the city are sinking.

Another Radioworks article. This debate has been going on forever, but once you stopped delta formation by stopping the flooding of the Mississippi, you changed the balance. This can't be undone. The grasses and other flora that stabilize the land nearest the sea are under constant attack by high tides and storms. Without the new influx of soil and freshwater that the floods bring, they too sink and are beaten back by the sea:
Houck says before people built these walls, the giant Mississippi helped build America. Every day, the river and its tributaries washed millions of pounds of soil from all over the country down to the Gulf of Mexico.

"You can imagine what it would take in dump trucks to bring half a million tons of silt to south Louisiana," says Houck. "Well, it would take about two hundred thousand, two-and-half ton dump trucks every day, driving from Minnesota, from Rapid City, from Pittsburgh, from Denver. And in so doing, it brings down these enormous, enormous loads of earth to the mouth of the Mississippi."

Every year or so, Houck says, it would rain so much that the river would gush out of its banks, and all that mud and goo would spread out along the coast.

"And that's what built south Louisiana," Houck says. "The Mississippi built five million acres of land. A huge amount of land was wetland."

But when French settlers showed up in the 1700s, they tried to stop the Mississippi from flooding: they started building these walls. Eventually, the U.S. Army took over the job, and every time they thought they'd conquered nature, the river proved them wrong. So the army built more walls and they built them higher, they've built two thousand miles of levees as of today along the Mississippi River and its branches. And Houck says, the army has finally won the war—they've tamed the Mississippi.

"And so," describes Houck, "the project was—from an engineering point of view— brilliant, brilliant. It was hugely successful. From an environmental standpoint, it was a disaster."
You just can't artificially replace inputs that huge. You can't. All the talk of mitigation projects avoids the underlying reality, which is that we have destabilized the land itself, so the sea must win. Among some of the ideas that have been floated (sorry, it just seemed irresistible) have been rerouting the Mississippi and building artificial islands in the Gulf to act as breakwaters. Here's one of the projects that has been attempted to restore the fresh/salt water balance in the wetlands. Very interesting.

There are questions as to whether all of this can work at all, but we will have to choose between abandoning New Orleans or trying to artificially create some sort of new, greater balance. However, all the plans I have ever read don't address the real problem, which is that the soil deposition is not occurring any more, and New Orleans will continue to sink. Shoring up the wetlands will help, but there are very scientists who believe it can fix the problem. We have changed the balance of the Mississippi forever.

New Orleans Levee Break Update

WWLTV is reporting that attempts to fill the 17th Street levee break have ended for the time being Authorities have warned that the pumps will soon fail. Estimates range from 9 to 15 feet of water within the next day in the East bank and metro areas. Authorities say get out and stay out.

WWLTV has a blog for further updates:
7:59 P.M. - Mayor Nagin: Pumps at 17th street canal has failed and water will continue pouring into the city. Nine feet of water is expected on St. Charles Avenue that will be nine feet high. Water is expected to spread throughout the east bank of Orleans and possibly Jefferson Parish.

6:41 P.M. - Efforts to stop the levee break at the 17th Street Canal have ended unsuccessfully and the water is expected to soon overwhelm the pumps in that area, allowing water to pour into the east bank of Metairie and Orleans to an expected height of 12-15 feet.
How are they going to get people out of the Superdome?
4:21 P.M. - WWL-TV Reporter quotes officials as saying there may now be 60,000 people in the Superdome and that more people are still being urged to go there.
They are trying to figure out how to evacuate the prisons, etc. They are ignoring corpses and looking for the living. From Lucianne.com, there may be an effort to get people with boats in there:
Everybody who can get to a flatbottom boat and move towards the city is asked to go to a local Walmart for further rescue planning. Imagine. I didn't hear whether they would need to get there by water but it seems likely. This area is going to turn into the worst sort of jungle very soon. I'm not sure it won't be too dangerous for the average citizen in a couple of days. How many boats does the National Guard have? They need to start removing people ASAP. All of them. If the mayor says it's "unimagineable" we have a problem.
Florida Cracker thinks the situation in the Superdome is bound to get nasty.

I read somewhere that the helicopters are picking people up and plunking them on levees to wait for the National Guard. As for those who are being snarky about people not heeding evacuation orders, snap out of your fog of complacency. Some stayed because they had no way to get out. In cities you don't need to own a car. Some had no money for gas and a hotel. Some stayed to take care of the old or ill for whom evacuation was likely to be too risky. Some were doctors, nurses, police, fireman, dispatchers, engineers, in charge of facilities, etc. They stayed to do their duties.

For the rest of the country, it is time to count our blessings and shell out the cash. Give until it hurts, because believe me it will not hurt you as bad as it is hurting them.

Something About The Perspective

I have been following the coverage (what there is of it) about Katrina's effects, and feeling so helpless. Right now there is not much we can do except donate. And that will be incredibly useful later, but it does not save lives now. Yet it is the best thing to do, because right now trying to go to the area would create worse problems. It is hard to accept those things we cannot change, but if we don't, we waste our energies and neglect to address the things we can change.

Somehow, for a reason I can't explain, the situation playing out in Palestine and Gaza seems to be linked with the Katrina disaster in my mind. I think it might be the contrast. One situation is largely unavoidable; the other situation was and is largely self-created. Carl at No Oil For Pacifists has a wonderful post up about the sequence of events. I believe it speaks for itself so go read it if you are interested in what I am seeing.

The worst tragedy of all is that because Katrina was not a self-created disaster, we will find a way to rebuild these devastated towns and cities faster than the Palestinians will be able to become a functional society. Objectively speaking, the people on the Gulf Coast and in New Orleans are facing much greater obstacles. Subjectively speaking, the Palestinians keep creating much greater obstacles for themselves.

What a commentary on the nature of our human social life. What a demonstration of the sheer power of human integrity, the reasoned ability to recognize external realities, and compassion. It is not enough just to have integrity. One can pursue one's goals with integrity, yet if the goals themselves are not well-chosen little will come of the effort. It is not enough just to recognize external realities, if one does not act to make a difference where that is possible. Neither integrity or an ability to recognize objective truth will move one to act without compassion. These three qualities must be linked to create a truly productive human being or human society.

Additional Katrina Aid/Info Links

I know there must be frantic people all over the country trying to find out what has happened to their friends and family.

WWLTV has a weather forum which has information sorted by parish and county. Harrison County (Gulfport/Biloxi) is in there. This has information and personal accounts. You may have to reload a couple of times to get it and it may go down sporadically.

Democratic Underground has an aid organization thread and an information links thread.

The Barking Dingo is likely to be the first one to hear from Boomr.

The Second Night Approaches

You can view TV coverage at Khou.com. This is mostly of the situation in New Orleans, where levee breaks have changed a hurricane into an ongoing flood. They are still discussing how to plug the major Canal Street levee breach, but the Industrial canal breaches are letting water out of the city. One proposal to deal with the Canal Street breach is to fill land-sea containers with sand and lower them into the breach. I believe some specialized helicopters will be needed. A clumsy effort could worsen the break.

Miami Herald has a pretty good article which also has information about Gulfport:
Back in New Orleans, medics converted part of the Superdome -- already the steamy home of 10,000 people -- into a triage center for scores of the injured and sick, many of them found on rooftops and street corners. Some were sent to hospitals in Baton Rouge.

The narrow, debris-filled streets of the tourist-oriented French Quarter filled with more than two feet of water. Terrified by what they heard on the radio, some people ran down the streets, screaming and warning others.

''Get out of town if you can,'' said Ed Freytag, a city worker at the temporary City Hall complex in the Hyatt Regency.

''People are afraid of drowning,'' said Greg Reaves, 45, who tried to flee the city but turned around after confronting high water on Interstate 10. ``I think that's what's causing the panic.''
I think the reality is setting in.

According to the Khou.com video, the rescuers in New Orleans are just trying to get to whoever they can reach and are taking them to the Superdome. With poor communications, it is clear that as night comes some people will remain trapped in their houses quite possibly without food or drinkable water. The Superdome is surrounded by water and according to the Khou.com press conference, they will worry about getting those people out later. For now they are just trying to get food and water in.

In Gulfport/Biloxi (Harrison County), the suggestion is that it will be hard to even come up with an accurate casualty figure. Perhaps the best way to sum up the scope and confusing nature of the disaster is this quote from the article linked above:
In Harrison County, Miss., 35 people swam out of their emergency operations center with life jackets on. ''We haven't heard from them,'' said Christoper Cirillo, the county's emergency medical services director.
We have not heard from Boomr who reported himself on Sunday evening to be in Gulfport in a house a few blocks from the shore with his parents and perhaps his sister. This Reuters report cites a possibility of over a hundred dead in Biloxi. The storm surge was apparently 30 feet.

KGBT 4 - TV has a group of personal accounts in and around the Gulf coast. One of the ways to possibly get news is to file a request with the emergency radio network. You can do so here online.

To donate see this list of organizations with phone numbers from 10 KLFY. There are people marooned out there without virtually nothing to their names, and these areas are so devastated that many people will have to simply leave the area. Cash donations should allow aid organizations to fund rescue and rebuilding efforts but also to give money directly to people, which in all too many cases is what is needed.

The number of people out there in the area who have lost their houses, personal possessions, cars and jobs at the same time is uncountable. This is one of the worst disasters in our nation's history. Please give what you can.

More Bits Katrina/New Orleans

Martial law in New Orleans. The water looks like it will pretty much take over the city. Gas mains and so forth are severed, so the situation is extraordinarily dangerous. I have no idea how they are going to get the people in the Superdome out, because there is water around it now.

See DU thread. Tulane Medical Center being evacuated by helicopter. It is getting harder and harder to get news as radio stations and newspapers shut down. Times-Picayune is evacuating per DU. KHOU link - mediaplayer. Reports fires and rising water. Lots of looting, which is I guess why they declared martial law.


New Orleans Levee Breaks

It sounds like it couldn't be worse. New Orleans is now flooding from Lake Ponchatrain because of levee breaks. The feared catastrophe appears to have happened:
Of most importance is the breach of the levee between Jefferson and Orleans Parish.
“We probably have 80 percent of our city under water with some sections of our city the water is as deep as 20 feet”.
Both airports are underwater
The twin spans are destroyed.
No telling when this chain of disaster will stop. They are going to have to get the people still in the city out. Tulane University reported the water rising an inch every five minutes.

Update: CNN reports breach 200 feet long and whitecaps on Canal Street. It's going to be awfully hard to fix under the circumstances, but until the levees are restored they can't start to pump water out of New Orleans.

News And Great Reads

For Katrina news and links scroll down or click here.

The Cotillion was not deterred by minor matters such as hurricanes, even though Beth of VRWC had to evacuate Mobile, AL and a few members are fighting battles with the hurricane-induced air travel fiasco. I'll give just a couple of samples from this week's offering to whet your whistle. See Baldilocks on the Code Pink protesters in front of Walter Reed. You simply must read the post and the comments, for example:
Code Pink for Peace is a self-described "grassroots peace and social justice movement" formed in December 2002 to join the cadre of anti-war groups protesting against America's then-impending war in Iraq. Code Pink was founded by four experienced activists and hardcore Communists - Jodie Evans, Medea Benjamin, Diane Wilson, and a radical Wiccan activist calling herself Starhawk.
The Communists are doing the same thing they always have and always will - attempt to destabilize western society, whether it's George Galloway and Jane Fonda greasing up the highways or the Code Pinkos. They are attempting to stab our soldiers in the back by undercutting the war effort, and they will stop at nothing to attempt to distort the news or the real accomplishments in Iraq. Soldier's Angel - Holly Aho posts on how to get some real news from Iraq. Fausta of The Bad Hair Blog is included, but I want to also direct you to this resource post on Venezuela. Please do visit the Cotillion; you will notice a wide range of opinions and an extreme lack of superficiality in the group.

On to other things. Betsy Newmark of Betsy's Page makes a stunningly good observation in this post about the claims that Roberts is "anti-woman":
Roberts's views on abortion and other issues may be a legitimate cause for concern for women's rights groups. Yet so far his critics have resorted to so many bad arguments that one must wonder if they have any good ones.
They are not batting a thousand, that's for sure. And I will end this with an old but great post by Carl at No Oil For Pacifists, a.k.a. the "wrong-thinker". He discusses political bias in law schools and ends with this anecdote:
I was one of the few conservatives in law school. My views were tolerated at best, derided at worst. I remember a First Amendment course taught by an old-time socialist. He was smart and funny, but increasingly frustrated with my interjections. So, after calling on me about halfway through the semester, he paused for a few seconds, put hands on hips, and said "Carl--you're a wrong thinker and should be liquidated." He never solicited my views again.
I've heard of law school being tough, but death sentences? Communist thought as brought to you by your neighboring law school. Communists can't tolerate freedom and most especially not free thought or speech.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Gulfport & Biloxi Extremely Hard Hit

Everyone knows about damage to New Orleans, but in Harrison County (Gulfport and Biloxi) there are already 50 confirmed deaths. See the SunHerald.com Eyes on Katrina blog. The water got higher than it did for Camille; some houses were completely washed away. The shelters took damage, the firehouses took damage, and the Emergency Ops Centers took damage - several had to be evacuated. They say you can't go back into the area yet.

How to help: MSNBC has a roundup of relief organizations and numbers. The Salvation Army and the Red Cross will be getting in there as soon as anyone can. The Salvation Army operates an emergency radio network, and you can post a request for information about a person or persons online at this form. The number listed for information about LA Red Cross shelters is 1-800-469-4828.

The Red Cross's phone donation hotline number is 1-800-435-7669 (HELP NOW). For the Salvation Army it is 1-800-SAL-ARMY.

The true scope of this disaster will not be known for quite a while, but it is massive. The amount of housing alone that will be uninhabitable must amount to well over 100,000 homes. This is one where we all need to pitch in.

Katrina Update - Gulfport Hit Hard

I hope Boomr and his parents went to one of the shelters. The Mercury News has a good article, beginning w/ New Orleans:
Katrina's core roared very close to the below-sea-level city of 485,000 people, slamming eastern sections with one edge of its destructive eye wall. Winds of 100 mph rocked the area. Its storm surge and torrential rain submerged vast regions, with 40,000 homes flooded in St. Bernard Parish alone.

Moreover, it pummeled 270 miles of coastline across four states, striking particularly hard at Gulfport, Miss.

Pat Sullivan, Gulfport's fire chief, said downtown buildings were ''imploding'' and the business district was largely under water. ''It's complete devastation,'' he said.
See the site for a picture of Gulfport with a boat in the middle of Hwy 80.
Previous posts about Gulfport here and here. SunHerald (Gulfport) blog here.

Calls For Robertson's Extradition

Boy am I old. I'm so old that I remember when Jesse Jackson was a civil rights leader who I thought did a lot of good. I'm old. This thread on DU is interesting. An organization of South American Foreign Ministers thinks Robertson committed a crime:
Foreign Ministers of the Latin American countries belonging to the Rio Group expressed confidence that U.S. authorities will set in motion the "appropiate legal processes" to punish the call of evangelical telepreacher Pat Robertson to assassinate Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.
A number of DU commenters second the call and some suggest the DLC should get on board. Jesse Jackson has also made the same claim:
"... Rev. Jesse Jackson offered support for President Hugo Chavez on Sunday, saying a call for his assassination by a U.S. religious broadcaster was a criminal act and that Washington and Venezuela should work out their differences through diplomacy.

The U.S. civil rights leader condemned last week's suggestion by Pat Robertson that American agents should kill the leftist Venezuelan leader, calling the conservative commentator's statements "immoral" and "illegal."
Another commenter wants Robertson shipped to Gitmo:
How is Robertson different here from the Ayatollah Talibanskys over there?

If we truly are "at war with terror" it's time to arrest Robertson, ship him off to Gitmo, torture him, hold him incommunicado, until everyone forgets who he was, and it will all be in complete compliance with the "Patriot Act."
Granted, I believe that what Pat Robertson said was immoral. But it wasn't illegal, as a DU commenter tries to explain to the board:
Like it or not, what he said was legal.

First amendment, freedom of speech, and all that BS. I've read the transcript of what he actually said, and heard it repeated ad nauseum on CNN, and what he said doesn't rise to the level of a terrorist threat. He clearly said that Chavez should be killed, and that the United States should do it. He did NOT call on his followers to kill him, did not say that he was going to have Chavez killed, and did not offer any kind of bounty or reward for killing Chavez. He simply said that the world would be better off if someone offed the guy.

There are people here on DU who have made the exact same comments about people in our own government. We may not like Robertson or what he says, but we need to remember that the 1st amendment was drafted to protect UNpopular speech, not the speech we all agree with. If we start imprisoning people for expressing political views we don't agree with, we'll be forging a political sword that could easily be turned back against us.
The poster above only gets support from a couple of others, but honestly, how can you prosecute such a thing given the 1st Amendment? If it doesn't protect political speech, what good is it? We have to allow the KKK to advocate passing laws for their repulsive beliefs, and we can't stop Robertson from saying that the US government should assassinate Chavez. Now, if he told his audience to go out and do it, that would be different. But floating the idea that our government should do something nasty like this is protected under the Constitution.

The cure for ill-advised and immoral speech is speech countering those ideas, not imprisonment. It's a constant surprise to me how few people on DU seem to understand the First Amendment.

More Gulfport /NO Katrina News

It's sounding pretty bad in Gulfport. Courtesy DU, I found the SunHerald log which is covering the area. They report widespread damage:
The Biloxi River is flowing over the bridge on Interstate 10, to what one observer guessed was perhaps 6 feet.

Reports from Harrison Central 9th Grade School in North Gulfport are that three of four walls there have collapsed.

At least three firehouses in Gulfport have taken significant damage. The company at Station 8 in Lyman was involved in a rescue operation of some sort, one spokesman said he thought it was an apartment complex.

Red Cross official said virtually all their shelters have received some sort of damage, including broken windows, leaky windows, no power and the like, but there have been no injuries. The most significant damage was at Lyman Elementary, where they lost two buildings.
Helpful phone info sent in by a reader:
This lets people know about the storm and what percentage of the Cellular South wireless network is up in specific geographic areas. This will be important as people try to contact family and friends.
Tanya Rankin (601.573.7134) is the contact at Cellular South. It will be important for people to use text messaging as much as possible instead of voice to help the network.

The fire station just north of the railroad tracks on Kelly Ave. just east of downtown Gulfport is taking on water. People on Second Street are calling to be evacuated from their attics.

Wolf River is 23 feet, the highest it's ever been
The tidal surge is 28 feet, and has been taking some homes off their slabs.
There are reports of some people being trapped in their attics/ on their roofs.
When the shelters are taking damage you know things are pretty bad. It sounds like several of the emergency ops centers were shut down because of damage.

Bad, Bad Katrina

From NOLA.com:
Some people who stayed in St. Bernard Parish were forced up into their attics to escape the floodwaters, said state Sen. Walter Boasso, who heard from local officials that some houses in Chalmette had water rising beyond the second floor.

“We know people were up in the attics hollering for help,” said Boasso, who evacuated to Baton Rouge and was camped out at the state Office of Emergency Preparedness....

Boasso said extensive flooding in the Lower 9th Board and St. Bernard Parish
could be blamed on water going over the tops of the levees.
Portions of the telephone system in metropolitan New Orleans failed about 9:30 a.m., further isolating the city as Katrina's center passed....

Bu mid-morning, dialing into and out of the New Orleans area was becoming increasingly difficult.
The parish by parish alerts can be found here.
In St. Bernard there was a levee breach along the industrial canal.
NOAA regarding Lower Plaquemines Parish:
Bad. Winds should be blowing 50 - 95 miles an hour and gusting up to 125 for Boomr.

Monday, Monday

Very good hurricane coverage at NOLA.com. They have a hurricane log.

Coffee has a lot of antioxidants. It's supposed to be protective against Alzheimers too. I'm wondering what Sheehan drinks. I suspect it is a lot of diet Coke.

Via a comment at Lucianne.com, you can listen live at Newsradio 1150 WJBO. Click the Listen Live link.

No Oil For Pacifists found a blogger last night who was blaming Katrina on Bush. No kidding.

And if that doesn't get you laughing, go check out Tom Carter's joke of the day.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Boomr/Katrina News

Update: Boomr is hanging in Gulfport, MS. The latest strike probabilities from SRH:

This is for the storm coming within 65 nautical miles of the named location. It's never a good idea to try to ride through a hurricane in a place named "Gulfport". You want to try for something like "Wayinland".
End Update.

I'm so glad I checked my email. Boomr sent a note saying he got out of New Orleans. He was in Gulfport this morning and probably heading further along. I would say that is an extremely good plan. He also writes with some ruefulness that his workplace may well be "cleared" so that he may be out of contact for a few days. Hurricane-induced urban renewal is not a good thing. What they were told:
This could be the "big one" that turns New Orleans into Venice, and the southeast Louisiana coast into Atlantis. It's pretty much the worst case scenario.
May I point out that this is a really good example to all those who think (like The Daughter In Question of Mamacita) that calling and writing is not necessary? It is. Boomr, I take back every disrespectful thing I ever said about you. Every last one. Keep moving and go inland. The last bulletin (7 PM):


No kidding, pray for this one to break up. Sustained winds are still near 160 mph.

Tracking maps small and large.

Non Nobis Domine

Non nobis domine, sed nomine tuo da gloriam.
"Not to us lord, but to your name give the glory."

Kobayashi Maru asks us to pray for New Orleans while celebrating the impossible news that the latest tests indicate that his brother is clear of cancer. His brother is back at home, although he has two more weeks to go in this course of treatment and then he will need a stem cell transplant:
Ten days ago, the world-class super-experienced oncology docs had been telling us that the chances of this happening - of the cancer retreating like this - were infinitesimally small. Start thinking about hospice, they said. We'll give it one last shot if you want, they said. It's OK if he decides to just go home and die quietly before Labor Day, they said. In my brother's own words: "You were planning my funeral, weren't you?" Uh, well... Yeah. Sorry. Never mind.
You can read the story of this stunning reversal of fortunes in just a few posts. First, the terrible news on August 16th:
An hour ago I spoke with my brother. He had just spoken with his doctor. The test results are back. His leukemia is back - for the third time. He's been given a 5% chance to live.
Second, the reeling and the staggering:
There's something about the slow-motion shock of this that's made me hyper-aware of certain people and situations: the doctor delivering the news in person, the woman at the elevator visiting a friend who's also in 'late stage', an friend I hadn't seen in two years whom I shared lunch with yesterday. There's what my pastor calls a "thinness" to these interactions - my normal inclination to put up a front of small talk, to not take risks and to stay within myself, i.e., my normal defenses, broken by the enormity of the situation.
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart; These, O God, You will not reject."

Third, they wander in the night:
The news from the docs is moving subtly but steadily from "some hope, let's fight", to "start thinking about how you want the fight to end". That's fueled some intensely painful moments, (Why is it that I cry most in my car? Why is it that this song came on just as I started the engine the other day, rendering me a complete mess?)
Fourth, they struggle and are thankful for cool water.
Fifth, the tide begins to turn, but Kobayashi Maru suspects it is the eye of the hurricane (August 22). His brother has stopped dying, for the moment:
Yesterday, I think we got a down-payment on the miracle we'd been asking for: some lab results showing that recent chemo and radiation have beaten back a key part of the leukemia, achieving a 99.7% (!!) reduction in blast cells in his spinal column and stabilization of his blood chemistry. If anyone had told me this last week, I would either have said "no way", or rushed up and hugged them flat.

So scratch "I think", and "down payment" in that last paragraph. We've had a miracle. No, this may not change the big picture, which remains tenuous. We're trying to keep that in mind and not allow ourselves to get too 'high'. Still, this strong positive movement shows that doctors aren't always right, and that low odds still mean... odds... a shot... some skin in the game. Hope.
Sixth, on August 28th, his brother returns home, not to die, but to celebrate, which is where I began this post. Kobayashi Maru writes:
I've lost track of the number of countries and prayer groups making his case with the Big Guy. It has been tremendously humbling and inspiring to all of us.

To those of you steeped in this kind of thing - for whom prayer is a regular routine - thank you. To those of you who feel kinda funky and self-conscious and doubting about whether God exists, how to pray and/or whether prayer means anything at all, much less whether it works - THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!!!
"Non nobis domine, sed nomine tuo da gloriam" is the only possible reply. Do not stop praying for these people even if you don't believe. By all means pray for Katrina to wrap herself in windy confusion and spin herself out in the Gulf, and not on top of the coast and Boomr. Pray for what you need and cannot get, pray for what your family needs and cannot get, pray for help when your strength runs out, pray for our military in Iraq, pray for the helpless children caught in forces they can't understand and pray for all those who are suffering, confused or engaged on missions to rescue the helpless.

God plays by his own rules, which are designed for his own victory, and he will only act in the world if we invite him in and promise that we can bear the consequences. If not, he will catch up with us at the end, because he intends for his victory to be ours. But TANSTAAFL is an invariant rule; All their lives will be changed forever, and what is being forged now is yet another bell for the chorus that mirrors the real one.

A score of Non Nobis (and links to the Branagh soundtrack which can be purchased). A sound file of another version used in Doyle's 1989 version of Henry V. If you want to laugh until you hurt, see this scholarly and utterly witless discussion of the use of the Non Nobis hymn in Branagh's Henry The Fifth. No one has ever really figured out how the British won at Agincourt, and Pauline Kael can't even understand that the meaning of the hymn is not a triumphal paen to war, but a cry of amazed thankfulness to God:
Pauline Kael, in her review of Henry V, praises the tracking shot's powerful panorama of carnage but disdains the musical soundtrack -- in her view, it "trivializes" and "cheapens" the impact of the scene. Kael does not elaborate on why she feels this way, but we can assume that she at least was judging the music in its traditional role as an obligatory generator of affect, in which case a critic doesn't necessarily have to explain their assessment of music's effect....

If we are inclined to continue to trust the score as being "sincere," then "Non Nobis" can be interpreted as a sincere (and out-of-fashion) paean to glorious victory. (Indeed, some critics did seem inclined to do so; they could not understand why the film, in their eyes, took this seemingly pro-war tone, and some went so far as to call Kenneth Branagh a Thatcherite.)
For heaven's sake, pray for Pauline Kael. She's so confused she's probably still trying to figure out how Nixon got elected. There is something terribly sad about a person who can reach her age without understanding at least the human significance of that hymn in that setting. One thing is certain. Both Kobayashi Maru and all his family understand the significance of that hymn, and joy has touched their lives.

Honestly, the joyful part doesn't hurt a bit.

Good Advice From Howard

And it's free, and it cuts through the BS. Howard was a commodities broker and he understands financial markets:
There are a number of pieces being run in various media this weekend saying how "smart" it is to second mortgage your way to a better life style than you could otherwise afford. The "smart" people do not have dead equity in a house. Get the money out as prices rise. The "smart" people are all doing it. If you were only "smart" you would mortgage to the hilt.
If you want to understand why this is probably not "smart", read his whole piece. An awful lot of "smart" people end up in bankruptcy, and I have to say that the new rules going into effect in October don't favor those who were "smart" and piled the debt on. Howard's advice is extremely valid for the vast majority of people. The pieces being run are sucker bait.

Believe me, the powers that be are taking Immodium because of their fears that there may be a problem with the mortgages out there. Google Fannie Mae, and see Mover Mike on the issue.

Judging Matters

First, Right As Usual comments on NARAL's new ad, which this time seems to be dealing with facts rather than fiction:
The new ad, featuring smiling families and an American flag in the background, emphasizes a phrase in a 1981 Roberts memos: the "so-called right to privacy," and points out that he co-wrote a government memo saying the landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion was wrongly decided.
Ah, yes, we must have the smiling families and the flag! I have no problem with NARAL if it wants to notify the public of indications of Roberts' actions in the past, but one must admit they don't quite add up to the picture of the clinic-bombing advocate of mass murderer the first ad depicted. Linda did some research on NARAL and came up with some interesting facts.

Second, I am engaged in following the Boomr/Carl debate proceeding onward at No Oil For Pacifists. It begins here and has now moved to a second post. By now the argument is centering on Boomr's basic contention that legislation based on "morals" is inherently religious and therefore constitutes a prohibited establishment of religion under the First Amendment. I believe he is focusing on a subset of ethical or moral rules restricting sexual behavior, but this causes me to roll on the ground in laughter.

Logically he must assume that the basic ideas behind such rules can have no objective basis. That is where he is wrong, and can easily be shown to be wrong. In fact, I can make a far better religious argument for the goal Boomr wants to reach than a constitutional argument. After I stop laughing, I will do so. For now, I leave you with Carl's comments:
We all have different morals, different public policy goals, etc. Why must judges use his? Or mine? If not prohibited in the Constitution, what makes either view "right?" If expressing a valid syllogism, how can judges overturn state law--even were they to disagree? Example: adultery hurts children, therefore we criminalize it. Boomr disputes. But he would acknowledge that the logic is valid, even while disputing the premise. The judiciary's role in interpreting the law under rational basis scrutiny is essentially confined to logic, not wisdom....

I'm supporting non-religious laws "geared solely towards the protection of the citizens and the land within our borders." Boomr doesn't share my morals. But neither the Constitutional language, nor boomr's expanding non-textual rights, give him the legal authority to enshrine his while forbidding mine.
And for more constitutional thought, I send you to Minh-Duc of State Of Flux on Originalism:
However the responsibility for amending the constitution is a legislative responsibility, not a judicial one. Even if a certain provision/article of the constitution is out-of-step with modernity or even outright unjust; Jurists should interpret it as it is written. If the provision/article is unjust, the decision will highlight the injustice. And the outrage(d) electorates will force their elected legislators to amend the provision/article. This process ensure(s) that legislators are responsible toward the electorates and ensure(s) that the new article/provision receive have consensus within society.

Activist judges by interpret(ing) the constitution as they see fit, prevent the constitution from being properly amended. The greatest harm of judicial activism is that (it) takes the debate away from the public realm and prevent(s) the people from participating in the constitutional process.
Life is very interesting, and I don't think the university of the blogosphere is becoming stale at all.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Significance Of LTC Erik Kurilla

Via The Anchoress, the addresses for Kurilla and Lama:
LTC Erik Kurilla or SGT Daniel Lama
9040 Jackson Avenue
Madigan Army Medical Center
Tacoma, WA 98431
Write 'em. Send a postcard. Do something.

Look, I'm angry at the horrible coverage of events in Iraq from the traditional media. I'm angry about the consistent and dedicated omissions amounting to outright lies regarding the military's achievements in Iraq and the achievement of the Iraqi citizens who are trying to set up a real nation. Anger doesn't help, though.

I think we all should contact our local papers and ask them to run Michael Yon's dispatches. I am not a warlike type, but I can see clearly that the stories of men like LTC Kurilla are stories that can't be told in our times, because they make the meretricious, lying, standardless bubble of complacency in which so much of our society lives just evaporate like smoke. So these are the stories we need to have told. You can't look (Gates Of Fire) at the picture of Kurilla on the ground still shooting, after having been shot in both legs and one arm without realizing that here is reality. And you can't read about Kurilla's concern for his men without realizing something about what the military is and what it should be and what it deserves from us.

You can see that bubble deflating in Juan Cole's reaction to the story of Steven Vincent, and if the reference doesn't ring a bell then see Vincent's wife's rebuttal letter.

Also see Minh-Duc's discussion of the bad effects of a split between the military and the Democratic party. Min-Duc quotes Thucydides "The Nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools" and also goes on to notice that the Peace Corps is somewhat hostile towards ex-military types. He is absolutely correct in pointing out that this is an unfortunate development and that the Democrats who support the military are a marginalized group in the national party. I agree with his statement of the effects:
It is also unhealthy for the Republican Party when the party has no strong opposition. The country needs a strong opposition Party that is not on crack. But I am very pessimistic about the state of the Democratic Party and the prospect of them supporting the military.
So I am going down in person soon to talk to the editor of my local paper. I want them to run Michael Yon's reports from the front. If the angel Gabriel appeared on the campuses of Harvard and Yale trumpeting Minh-Duc's message, the administration and faculty would not change their knee-jerk suspicion and disapproval of the military at all. The majority of people running the Peace Corps believe that our soldiers are baby-killing murderers, so there can be no progress there.

But there really is not a split between the civilian society and the military society. Many of the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are carrying forward programs very similar to the Peace Corps, sometimes even mounting their own collection drives to support them. Is it any wonder that the Peace Corps class doesn't wish to have it known? The military strongly encourages education and self-development, so it is hardly in danger of sinking into brutality or ignorance.

What we do have is a split between the elites of society and the military. The military ethos is about duty, honor and discipline in service to our country. The elite ethos is currently about self-excusing attacks upon those very same values. This is a culture war, but it is not a culture war between liberals and conservatives. It is a culture war about realities. The larger society is being systematically starved of discussion about economic and social realities, and only restoring that dialogue will enable our country to move forward.

Men like Kurilla and Peralta deserve to have their stories told. The story that is being told in our media is that they can't win. The reality is that they can't be beaten given their mission, which is to defend the majority of Iraqis who would like to set up a functional and independent nation. The majority of Iraqis are desperately trying to escape from a nightmarish three decades of massacres and abuse. The American military is defending them.

Something is terribly wrong with our country when everyone knows of a man like Michael Moore but no one knows of a man like Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith. The media can launch into an orgy of excitement about reports that the cast of Friends may be squabbling, but who knows the story of Raven 42?
About this time, three armored Hummers that formed the MP Squad under call sign Raven 42, 617th MP Co, Kentucky National Guard, assigned to the 503rd MP Bn (Fort Bragg), 18th MP Bde, arrived on the scene like the cavalry.
Read it all, write your newspaper and get them to cover real life.

China And Able Danger

Powerline comments on the NY Post article this morning. It's money, honey. The allegation was that Able Danger was deep-sixed when it came up with data on Chinese "investments". NY Post:
The Pentagon canceled its contract with the private firm shortly after the analysts — who were working on identifying al Qaeda operatives — produced a particularly controversial chart on proliferation of sensitive technology to China, the sources said.

Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, the veteran Army officer who was the Defense Intelligence Agency liaison to Able Danger, told The Post China "had something to do" with the decision to restructure Able Danger.

Sources said the private contractors, using sophisticated computer software that sifts through massive amounts of raw data to establish patterns, came up with a chart of Chinese strategic and business connections in the U.S.
And that was that. This I totally believe and it is still going on today. I don't think most of it has to do with sensitive technology, but it sure does have to do with running money around. Canada is implicated as well.

Rainy Saturday

First, Howard at Oraculations has some comments on the Able Danger story and linked to an excellent Frontpage roundup.

Second, he had linked to a quiz at Curmudgeonly & Skeptical. I have been laughing for several hours at the blog. It's highly conservative, raunchy, pictorial and funny.

So I leave you with this thought: It does no good to be cute if you are also prey.

Possibility Of European H5N1/H7N7 Recombination?

This is important. The gulls in Finland that have some sort of bird flu may signal H5N1 entering an area in which other strains of bird flu are found:
H5N1 in Scandinavian countries would be particularly dangerous. In 2003 there was an outbreak of H7N7 in the Netherlands. Over 30 million birds were culled. However H5N7 isolates were found, indicting H7N7 had reassorted with H5N2. Reassortment, or swapping of whole genes, happens during dual infections, when the same host is infected with two different viruses. The H5N7 isolated in 2003 from a mallard duck in Denmark was novel and signaled new genetic combinations between H5 and H7 viruses.

Dual infections can also lead to recombination, where portions of genes are swapped. H7 is dangerous to humans because it can be easily transmitted human to human, which is a property that is lacking in H5N1. However, a dual infection involving H5N1 and H7N7 could lead to recombination where H5N1 acquires the human receptor binding domain on H7.
That would be a very, very unfortunate event.

George Galloway And Jane Fonda

The Independent Online is reporting that Galloway and Fonda are joining up for a speaking tour:
George Galloway, the anti-war MP for Bethnal Green and Bow who rocked the US Senate earlier this year, is to be accompanied on a speaking tour of America by the actress and activist Jane Fonda.

Few things are more likely to antagonise US conservatives than the combination of Mr Galloway and Ms Fonda - still hated by the right because of her outspoken opposition to the war in Vietnam - joining to condemn the American presence in Iraq. But Mr Galloway can expect a thunderous reception from those he impressed with his performance before a Senate committee last May.
Oh, I think what Fonda did was more than "outspoken opposition". I think it was aiding and abetting.

As for Mr. Galloway's "thunderous reception", the thunder is likely to be accompanied with a hail of missiles or tar and feathers if he hits some places in the south with Jane Fonda on his arm. For that matter, I know some sweet old benevolent bird-feeding ladies in the NE who would like to get a good solid whack at Jane Fonda.

I'm serious. I'm not recommending violence at all, I'm saying that there is a high, high risk of violence. Galloway is on record as saying that the left should ally itself with the terrorists who bomb people. Fonda is just doing the same old treasonous thing. The university/journalistic chittering class doesn't understand, because they don't have anyone in their families serving and they haven't had anyone serving. People are likely to look at this thing as the Tour of Traitors.

Friday, August 26, 2005

H5N1 Bird Flu In Finland?

Some sort of H5 avian flu strain was found in seagulls in Finland. They say it will be several weeks before they have an answer as to exactly which strain. 50 seagulls were found dead.

Recombinomics commentary.

Journalistic Ethics In Action

The good news is that Kodee Kennings' father did not die in Iraq. The bad news is that Kodee Kennings never existed, despite a student newspaper loyally publishing her heart-rending letters to her father for several years. I wish the college kids would stick to goldfish-swallowing. It has more dignity.

This is a wild story and Florida Cracker has the complete run down. Impressive, since she has also been hurricane blogging, but hey, you just can't keep a good woman down. Seattle Post-Intelligencer writes about how the child was duped into playing the part:
A woman who pretended to be the child's guardian is a 2004 SIU graduate who says she concocted the story with a former Daily Egyptian editor who denies that allegation and claims he, too, was duped. A man who posed as the serviceman father also says he was an unwitting participant....

Reynolds said she and student journalist Michael Brenner, who wrote the original article, invented the story because "he's had a hard time with his career. He asked me if I would help him out. ... It just got a little bigger than he told me it would."

Brenner vehemently denied concocting the story and said he was taken in by Reynolds, whom he had befriended.
This is what relativism brings. Everyone is duped; no one is guilty:
The woman involved used an acquaintance to play Kennings, going so far as to take him and the little girl to a church in Detroit this spring, where they spoke to a group of children inspired by their story.

The acquaintance--Patrick Trovillion, a registered nurse from Marion--said he was led to believe he was playing a cocky soldier in a legitimate movie. He was shocked to learn Thursday night that it was a farce and that his character had died.
Yeah, all the documentaries use actors who go and speak to church groups pretending to be the real people, right? False but accurate, baby. The little Orphan Annie wrote a pretty rough letter to that evil President Bush too. Now what the heck was her family doing let her go all around like that? Didn't they talk to the kid? Would you let something like this go on for several years without checking it out yourself? Supposedly the woman who cooked up the scam was a family friend, but I don't think I'd be so dumb.

Also, see the Florida Cracker's post about the Sullivans. It is heartrending and it is true.

Kurilla Gets Hit; Yon Gets In Trouble

You have to read Michael Yon's latest. You have to.

The American Armed Forces are by far and away the best in the world. They cannot be defeated; they can only be shot in the back. Are you going to let that happen?

The question Yon was asked was this:
Were you in fear for your life or the lives of others?
No one can actually read the news and not understand that a war between those who would destroy and those who would create a nation is going on in Iraq. We should fear for the lives of the Iraqis if we abandon them.

Update(s): SC&A fires his round:
We understand that you don't give a damn about Iraqis. Quit pretending you do. Standing in 'solidarity' with organizations that promote terror or anti Semitism does not make you avant garde, informed or progressive.
Tommy of Almost Average fires his:
If you want to protest the war fine, you have the right. But if you put it up outside the hospital and claim it's anything other than trying to exploit wounded soldiers I'm going to politely call you a liar.
Even the Canucks can smell this, and it's one pretty kettle of fish that stinks all the way to Alberta. Darcey of Dust My Broom sums it up in one sentence.

The Anchoress covers the soldiers' side. Reenlistments for combat divisions are way up. What does that say? Nothing that the media will want to report, just as they won't report on anything good our troops are accomplishing. And they will never, ever, report the deeds of heroism and bravery. So you'll have to go to Centcom.mil and read about it yourself.

Gindy does an excellent job of covering the anti-war demonstrations at Walter Reed:
But the anti-war activists were unapologetic when asked whether they considered such signs as "Maimed for Lies" offensive to wounded war veterans and their families.
Dr. Sanity discusses the reasons for some of what we are seeing in an excellent post:
Hanson goes on to discuss the coalition that has formed between the paranoid left and the paranoid right, so read it all. He is absolutely correct that the glue that holds this misalliance together is a shared paranoid style.

There is a reason that human beings experience suspicion, distrust and hypervigilance. That reason is because there is REAL danger in the world. Our ancestors in the caves knew this to be true. They lived with continual danger just to survive every minute of every day. Those who did not have the psychological capacity to perceive the danger in the environment surely died out long ago.

But this important psychological trait which senses danger and strives to protect the ego; and which is accentuated in children and early in life, is appropriately balanced out by the development of the rational faculty--the intellect. As that faculty develops, the ego mostly abandons paranoia and projection because they are extremely maladaptive in almost all cases in an adult trying to deal with reality.
But I suppose they are extremely useful traits in those desperately trying not to deal with reality. And she closes:
The Prime Directive of the Left --as Hanson notes --is a nothing more than a desperate psychological strategy to deny the reality of Islamofascist terror; distort the struggle to eliminate it and to blame America for its very existence.

Notes And Nattering

Moody downgraded Ford and GM bonds again. Yes, they are officially junky bonds:
Moody's Investors Service cut its ratings on Ford Motor Co. (F.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and General Motors Corp. (GM.N: Quote, Profile, Research) to junk status on Wednesday, the latest blow to the automakers as they battle global competition and rising costs.
Moody's cut Ford's senior unsecured ratings by one notch to "Ba1," the highest junk rating, from "Baa3." It cut the senior unsecured rating on Ford's finance arm, Ford Motor Credit by one notch to "Baa3," the lowest investment-grade rating, from "Baa2." The rating outlook for both companies is negative, meaning another rating cut is likely over the next 12 to 18 months.

Moody's cut GM's senior unsecured debt rating by two notches to "Ba2," the second-highest junk rating, from "Baa3." It cut the rating on General Motors Acceptance Corp. by two notches to "Ba1," the highest junk rating, from "Baa2." GMAC is GM's finance arm.
Mover Mike has been writing very well about this and other financial trends. I strongly recommend this particular post from yesterday:
The NY Fed has called a special meeting for 14 companies who dominate the credit-derivatives market. The 14 companies include JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE: DB), Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley (NYSE: WMD) and Merrill Lynch & Co. (NYSE: MER). There have been allegations of illegal naked short selling, and regulators are smarting over allegations that they gave super hedge funds a free pass because regarding "fails to deliver" (FTD).
Sigmund, Carl and Alfred found a brilliant scholarly insight - A Washington University study claims that daydreaming leads to Alzheimers. Go over there and read it. The comments are quite funny.

Dr. Sanity sails into the media for their skewed coverage of the situation in Iraq and observes that it has consequences.

The Weasel Watchers Council has spoken. The winners were excellent but so were all the submissions. I particularly recommend Cutler's Yankee Station's post regarding appeasement. He looks at the situation pre WWII in Britain and France and comments:
The appeasers then made the same mistake that appeasers do now. They assumed that the opposition was somewhat reasonable, had a limit to his demands, and would become responsible when those demands were at least partially met. In reality, Hitler had and militant Islam has ultimate goals that are unreasonable and cannot ever be made right. We fundamentally cannot coexist with either of them, therefore they must be destroyed.
If you go and read the Iraqi constitution, it looks like the Iraqis have concluded the same thing.

Iowahawk is back in action. There are several new posts. Don't fail to read about Michael Moore's encounter with destiny. BlameBush goes to town, having just discovered a new Rovian plot. And Ferdinand is thinking deep thoughts over at the Conservative Cat:
In science, you collect facts and use them to determine the truth. In politics, you decide the truth and try to find facts that prove it. This means it was probably a mistake to put politicians in charge of science.
The heart quails at the realization that lawyers are now trying to take control of any science still free from political control. The end may be nigh.

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