Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Signing Off

After much fun for almost a year and a half, I am calling it quits on the blogging scene. I just don't have the time or ability to continue right now, but maybe sometime in the future I'll be back. Here is my first post on Digital Irony:
Well, here I am. On the web blogging. Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs is my inspiration. I will try to add my own personal insights to the world, and who knows? Maybe even make it a better place. *snif*
I really think the world is a better place because of bloggers and maybe even I had a little (real little) to do with it. We helped hurricane victims, exposed fraud, connected lost families, and many, many other good things.


In my abscence, please go to LGF or one of the blogs in my blogrolling list to the left. They are all awesome, and you can find yourself lost in their depth of content and opinions.


Monday, September 19, 2005

Security "Dis-" improvement

Colt at The Winds of Change has an interesting analysis on the post-disengagement security situation in Israel and, like me, feels that the situation has worsened.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Rapid Fire, 9/16/05

I am short on time, but long on posts, so I will borrow a posting technique used by our yiddishe friends over at Defense Tech. Here goes my first ever rapid fire:

Watered down terrorism resolution at the U.N.

The President was at his best last night.

Katrina victims suprise ABC News.

Microwaved Missiles

Michael Yon interview...podcast!

Science Non-Fiction

I think we all need to stop referring to far-out futuristic stories as "Science Fiction". The reason is that their "far-out" stories are increasingly being brought into reality, and their unbelievable imaginations are being discovered as scientific fact. Leaving behind quantum mechanics for the moment (which defies all logic and yet is demonstrably real), here is a report on a parasite worm controlling the behavior of its grasshopper host, 'convincing' the grasshopper to commit suicide on the parasitic worm's behalf (thanks to evariste at discarded lies). Sounds crazy, sort of like Science Fiction, no? Then go to the article and watch a (gross) video to see it for yourself. Mind control, parasitic microbes controlling its hosts. I've read Michael Crichton books that imagined this. It is now real...

VDH: Our Rock of Sisyphus

Victor Davis Hanson's latest is up: Our Rock of Sisyphus. He talks about the status of our post-9/11 world. Here are some good (yet out of context) quotes provided by the master (read it all for context):
Where does the United States stand in its so-called global war against terror, four years after the September 11 attack? The news is both encouraging and depressing all at once.

Hysteria surrounding non-news (like flushed Korans and the Cindy Sheehan carnival) seems to suggest that a non-attentive public is not worried about being gassed or nuked or even terrorists killing thousands of Americans abroad.

While critics screamed hegemony, we withdrew troops from South Korea, Germany, and Saudi Arabia, with promises of more withdrawals to come elsewhere. That prompted reflection on the part of noisy allies who formerly wanted it both ways, and reminded the world we don't enjoy the United States playing global policeman any better than it does.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

What Would You Do?

What would you do if you won the $250 million Mega-Millions? I might tell you later, but go to discarded lies for now and discuss it with their guest blogger, lawhawk.

Update: I didn't win.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Torn Together

Addison from IAG Blog forwarded me this moving flash slideshow of the Gaza withdrawal. I have been dreaming of putting one of these together myself, but I have not had the time yet.

"A Plane That Crashed"

How insane is this world that we are still giving CAIR an audience, rather than laughing and booing them off stage? Michele Malkin weighs in on the insanity of making a Flight 93 memorial in the shape of a red Islamic crescent, and also brings us the lastest sewage being spewed from the terrorist supporting CAIR:

Via LGF, CAIR has already mobilized in defense of the memorial:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 /PRNewswire/ — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today dismissed Rep. Tom Tancredo’s (R-CO) comments on the design of a memorial to those aboard a plane that crashed in Pennsylvania on 9/11 as a cynical political ploy designed to gain national attention...

A "plane that crashed?!" That's a rather telling description of the flight that fought back against Islamist terrorists. A "plane that crashed?" No, CAIR, this is "a plane that crashed." Flight 93 didn't just "crash." It was hijacked by al Qaeda followers under the banner of the red crescent, the very same symbol that may soon be implanted at the Islamists' crime scene outside Shanksville, Pa. It crashed there because brave men and women forced the hijackers' hands and refused to allow the terrorists to complete their deadly mission in Washington, D.C.

Never, never forget.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Gaza a Ga-Ga!

Gateway Pundit has a round up (with pictures) of the psychos run amock in what was once the serene, beatuiful, productive settlements of Gaza.

On the Burning of Synagogues

Here is the Instapundit's post bringing to our attention the rare Muslim condemnation of the burning of the synagogues in Gaza. They bring a great point that if Israelis would destroy two dozen mosques, can you imagine the riots, rage, political pressure and worldwide protests?

The double standard is really bothering me.


Imagine if Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip destroyed two dozen mosques. There would be mass rallies in front of Israeli embassies around the world, and in America organizations like CAIR and MPAC would issue righteous condemnations calling on the American government to restrain Israel. However, as we've seen today, when Palestinians streaming into liberated Gaza set fire to synagogues there is deafening silence from most Muslims and certainly from the leadership of the American Muslim community. . . .

The wholesale destruction of the Jewish synagogues is yet another indication that Palestinians of all stripes, whether Fatah secularists or Islamic Hamas types, do not have the political maturity to construct a civil society. However, it is also a sign that Muslims in America lack the conviction of their religion to condemn sacrilege when it is committed by Muslims against others.

Read the whole thing. (Via Zombyboy).

UPDATE: TigerHawk isn't sure if the Palestinian Authority was unable, or unwilling to stop the burning of synagogues, but says it's bad news for the peace process either way. Roger Simon has related thoughts.

Israellycool has more:
If you don't think that the world is hypercritical when it comes to Israel, just imagine the outrage if Israelis started burning down abandoned Mosques. A UN special session would be called in no time; the mainstream media would be carrying the story as their headlines, and the Arabs would be rioting.

Goodbye, Arthur

Arthur Chrenkoff, the iconic Good News blogger, is signing off. We wish you well, Arthur, in your new endeavor and hope to see you back in the blogosphere sometime soon.
I'm signing off, but the war goes on. I rejoice in the scope and quality of the blogosphere that is able to provide you with so many alternatives to my blog. I'm sure you'll enjoy much good reading in the future. My thoughts will remain with all those on the frontlines of the struggle for freedom and democracy.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Bush Bites Back

Gateway Pundit has the post. He also points out the unprecidented speed and volume of the federal disaster response.
"The storm didn't discriminate and neither will the recovery effort," Bush said. "The rescue efforts were comprehensive. The recovery will be comprehensive."

Pictures of Devastation, Redux

I'm sure there will be much more in the future, but here is one installment of photos of the devastation in Biloxi and Gulfport. A friend of ours just came back from being a Rescue Hero in Gulfport (he's an ER doc). This is the city that he worked in, trying to save lives:

This is How a Heart Breaks

September 7, 2005

BEFORE AND AFTER: In this composite image, a view of Neveh Dekalim in the southern Gaza Strip is seen in a June 19 photo (top) and again after the razing of all its homes, leaving the synagogue, top left corner, yesterday.
Photo: AP
See my previous post on how the paleos are treating the synagogue in Neve Dekalim.

Foxes Through the Ruins

Rabbi Akiva was on such a high spiritual level that when he saw foxes running through the ruins of what was once the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, he laughed while his colleagues cried. He laughed because through the destruction he saw the redemption. He uderstood that because the prophecy of destruction came true, the same prophecy of the redemption will also come true.

The foxes are running through the ruins of our holy places in Gaza. May we all find the strength to see the good in all these desecrations, and see the rebuilding of the final temple in Jerusalem, and the redemption of the entire Jewish people.

Palestinians loot and set fire to the abandoned synagogue in the evacuated Gaza settlement of Neveh Dekalim.
Photo: AP

Friday, September 09, 2005


If you haven't noticed my new "Blogrolling - Complete" feature, look over to the sidebar (under the All-Stars) for a complete suggestion list of my blogging buddies (well, I'm their buddy like the math nerd is to the football jocks, but at least the math nerd thinks he's their buddy).

Compiling the list made me go through some great blogs that I haven't visited recently. Here is a good post on gun statistics from Of Arms and the Law:

Economist John Lott calculated the actual number of child gun accidental deaths, and found it was about 30 per year -- lower than the number that die of drowning in buckets.

If about ninety million Americans are in households with guns, and 1.7 million kids are in households with "unsecured" guns (however the study defines that), yet only 30 a year die in accidents .... doesn't it stand to reason that the vast, vast majority of gunowners, and even "unsecured" gun owners, are doing something right? (One useful comparison: lots of houses have "unsecured" chemicals and medicines as well -- and 17,000 people die annually of poisoning accidents). If anything, the figures suggest gun owners display a truly exceptional degree of personal responsibility.

Vonage - PR Coup!

Contrary to popular belief that in a crisis internet phones will become less reliable than land-lines, after the recent hurricane, the internet phone was the only way the mayor's office was able to reach the outside world! Bush even called back on the Vonage line! (P.S. I have Vonage and love it immensely) (Hat tip: Defense Tech)
For days after Hurricane Katrina's devastating rampage through this city, a small corps of city leaders holed up at the Hyatt Hotel. They had virtually no way to communicate with the outside world.

A command center set up before the storm stopped working when the backup generator ran out of diesel fuel. Cellphone towers had been knocked out by high winds. Many land lines in the area were unusable.

When emergency power finally returned to the Hyatt, Scott Domke, a member of the city's technology team, remembered that he had recently set up an Internet phone account with Vonage Holdings Corp. He was able to find a working socket in a conference room and linked his laptop to an Internet connection.

At 12:27 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 31, the mayor's inner circle made its first outside call in two days. Eventually, the team was able to get eight lines running from the single Vonage account. That evening, the phone rang and it was President Bush calling from Air Force One.

Forget the Constitution, We're Protecting You!!

Wow. Simply Wow. Via the Instapundit:

NEW ORLEANS: WE CAN'T PROTECT YOU FROM LOOTERS -- but we can confiscate your guns!

Unless you're hired security for rich people. (More here).

UPDATE: Cam Edwards: "Talk about class warfare. If you're rich enough to hire someone to defend your property, you're okay. If you're not... you're SOL."

A quote from the NY Times artice:
NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 8 - Waters were receding across this flood-beaten city today as police officers began confiscating weapons, including legally registered firearms, from civilians in preparation for a mass forced evacuation of the residents still living here.

No civilians in New Orleans will be allowed to carry pistols, shotguns or other firearms, said P. Edwin Compass III, the superintendent of police. "Only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons," he said.

The Political Angle

Here's a great article written with wit and sarcasm that is most enjoyable talking about the political ramifications of the hurricane.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if the entire political agenda of George Bush's second term will not still be damaged in some terribly satisfying way.

The answer is almost certainly yes, provided that the entire political agenda of George Bush's second term consists of repealing the 22nd Amendment. Otherwise, with a clear Republican majority in both Houses of Congress, he can carry on doing pretty much whatever he likes.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if the Republican Party itself will now suffer a setback at the congressional mid-term elections next November.

The answer is almost certainly yes, provided that people outside the disaster zone punish their local representatives for events elsewhere a year previously, both beyond their control and outside their remit, while people inside the disaster zone reward their local representatives for an ongoing calamity they were supposed to prevent. Otherwise, the Democratic Party will suffer a setback at the next congressional election.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if an official inquiry will shift the blame for poor planning and inadequate flood defences on to the White House. The answer is almost certainly yes, provided nobody admits that emergency planning is largely the responsibility of city and state agencies, and nobody notices that the main levee which broke was the only levee recently modernised with federal funds. Otherwise, an official inquiry will pin most of the blame on the notoriously corrupt and incompetent local governments of New Orleans and Louisiana.

Read it all, for it is good (and funny).

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Red Crossed at the Superdome?

Every blogger is talking about this, but here is the LGF post:
Did Louisiana state officials deliberately prevent Red Cross aid from getting into the Superdome? Radio Blogger has the transcript of an explosive interview on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show with Fox News’ Major Garrett. (Hat tip: LGF readers.)

Update: There's an updated interview here, and the video here. (hat tip: Instapundit)

Instapundit Roundup

Rather than post separate entries for the Professor's wise posts, I will bring to you the greatest hists from the past few days. Rather than link each one separately, here is a link to the Instapundit's home page. Enjoy!

Monday Sept 5:

SEARCH AND RESCUE IN NEW ORLEANS: Gateway Pundit has a roundup, with video.

WHAT THE NAVY IS DOING for Katrina relief. Short answer: A lot.

HERE'S A Katrina response timeline from Rick Moran.


Tuesday, Sept 6th:

DISASTER KITS: My earlier post on radios produced more emails with suggestions. Here's one, from reader John Jones:

One of the first things I would grab in an emergency is the water filter that I normally use for camping. A filter like this is small, and can easily produce enough potable water for a family for weeks. The only problem I would foresee in a major flood is the presence in the water of chemicals such as pesticides and oil that the filter cannot remove. Still, for filtering rain water or questionable water from a city water supply, a basic water filter could literally be a life saver. I prefer this one.

Yeah. Stored water's best, of course -- and you don't have to be rich to store water, all you need are old milk jugs and a few drops of bleach. You can also store bleach, and use it (in higher concentrations) to purify water, though it won't get rid of chemicals.

I don't think there's much of anything that would clean out the toxic sludge in New Orleans. This list of survival goods may be over the top, though.

UPDATE: Reader Stanley Tillinghast, MD emails:

The MSR Miniworks is a good filter but doesn't kill viruses. This system includes a small bottle of bleach that is added to the water that chlorinates it, killing viruses.

That would be better for emergencies. I'm pretty sure that nothing would make that New Orleans floodwater safe to drink, though.

Meanwhile, reader Sarah Marie Parker-Allen sends this link to emergency water storage advice from the University of Wisconsin. Plastic 2-liter soft drink bottles are better than milk jugs, it says.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Robert Davis emails:

I'm mystified by all the instructions for cleaning milk jugs, filling them with water, spiking them with bleach . . .

For about $7 you can pick up three 2.5-gallon bottles of water next time you're at the supermarket -- enough to last one person a week in an emergency.

It's sterile and you don't have to worry about the top popping off. Your time would need to be worth practically nothing to have the do-it-yourself version make economic sense.

True, but whenever I post on disaster prep I get emails saying "that's all fine for rich guys, but poor people live hand-to-mouth, yada yada yada." I'm not sure that this is true in a relevant way -- poor people in America are disproportionately likely to be fat, suggesting that access to food, at least, isn't an issue. But the other point is that if you put things off until the last minute, store shelves will be empty while taps still work. And most people have bleach around.

Several readers also note that there are other emergency sources of water. Brad Mueller writes:

All fine and good, but most households also have a water heater which holds 40 gallons of potable water and the toilet tank holds about 3 gallons of drinkable water. A small amount of preparation could have prevented a lot of suffering. I'm left wondering if there isn't a segment of our population that, for whatever reason, steadfastly refuses to helped.

Well, yes, there is. Note that you should turn off the supply valve to protect the water heater from backflow of dirty water through the lines -- or leakage -- if lines are damaged. (Er, and turn off the heat!) Jugged water is also more portable than water in heater or toilet tanks -- but it's good to remind people that it's there.

It's aimed at earthquakes, primarily, but here's a page on disaster preparedness from the Los Angeles Fire Department. And here's a much longer PDF booklet from the LAFD, too, with instructions on water heaters, etc. Excerpt:

To those of us who live and work in the Greater Los Angeles area, earthquakes and other natural emergencies are a reality. In order to deal with this situation, emergency preparedness must become a way of life. In the event of a major earthquake or disaster, freeways and surface streets may be impassable and public services could be interrupted or taxed beyond their limits. Therefore, everyone must know how to provide for their own needs for an extended period of time, whether at work, home, or on the road.

That's reality. Take note. (Thanks to reader Susan Kitchens for the links).



How widespread is the corruption at the United Nations? The multibillion-dollar Iraq Oil-for-Food scandal was just the beginning.

Now the issue is becoming the scale of corruption in the U.N.'s normal operations — and which individuals and corporations are reaping the benefits of a network of bribery and conspiracy that investigators have just begun to uncover. So far, those identities are still a mystery — but perhaps not for much longer.

Last Friday, federal prosecutors in Manhattan indicted the head of the U.N.'s own budget oversight committee, a Russian named Vladimir Kuznetsov, on charges of laundering hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bribes paid by companies seeking contracts with the United Nations.

Kuznetsov, who has pleaded innocent, allegedly took a cut so openly that he had part of it deposited into the United Nations' own staff credit union in New York.

Kuznetsov's arrest is the latest twist in the scandal involving the U.N. procurement department, which was the longtime post of Alexander Yakovlev (search), another Russian U.N. official recently fingered by U.S. federal investigators.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Much more (including video) here.

HERE'S the U.S. Navy's Katrina rescue photo gallery.

Lots of interesting pictures.

Meanwhile, here's a Katrina relief report card from RealClearPolitics.

And Chuck Simmins reports that total donations for Katrina relief have reached $465,769,985. And they're still growing.
Wed Sept 7:
IS IT THE vindication of Tom Ridge?

SOME KATRINA LESSONS: We're going to see a plethora of commissions and inquiries (most about as useful and non-partisan as the 9/11 Commission), but here are a few lessons that seem solid enough to go with now:

1. Don't build your city below sea level: If you do, sooner or later it will flood. Better levees, pumps, etc. will put that day off, but not prevent it.

2. Order evacuations early: You hate to have false alarms, but as Brendan Loy noted earlier, even 48 hours in advance is really too late if you want to get everyone out.

3. Have -- and use -- a plan for evacuating people who can't get out on their own: New Orleans apparently had a plan, but didn't use it. All those flooded buses could have gotten people out. Except that there would have had to have been somewhere to take them, so:

4. Have an emergency relocation plan: Cities should have designated places, far enough away to be safe, but close enough to be accessible, to evacuate people to. Of course, this takes coordination, so:

5. Make critical infrastructure survivable: I think that one of the key failures was the collapse of the New Orleans Police Department's radio system. Here's the story on why:

Tusa said the police department’s citywide 800 MHz radio system functioned well during and immediately after the hurricane hit New Orleans, but since then natural gas service to the prime downtown transmitter site was disrupted and the generator was out. Transmitter sites for the police radio system “are also underwater with the rising water and [are] now disabled,” Tusa said.

Owners of the sites that housed police radio transmitters would not allow installation of liquefied petroleum gas tanks as a backup to piped gas, meaning generators did not have any fuel when the main lines were cut, Tusa said.

Radio repair technicians attempting to enter the city were turned away by the state police, even though they had letters from the city police authorizing their access, Tusa said.

This is absurd, and I'm pretty sure it's the major factor leading to the disintegration of the New Orleans Police Department. That sort of gear should be survivable -- and there should also be a backup plan for how to get messages back and forth if the radios go out anyway: Messengers, broadcasts on commercial radio, etc.

(There should be a separate post-disaster communications plan for survivors, too -- so that they can locate relatives and let people know they're alive).

Other crucial infrastructure should be hardened as much as possible, too. There's only so much you should do, but disaster survivability should be considered at every stage of design, procurement, and construction.

6. Stock supplies and prepare facilities: The Superdome didn't have adequate food, water, and toilet facilities, even though everybody knew it was going to be a shelter of last resort. The Convention Center was worse. All public buildings that might be used for refugees should be ready. We used to stock fallout shelters that way; we could do it again.

7. Be realistic: Here's what the Los Angeles Fire Department tells people about an earthquake aftermath:

To those of us who live and work in the Greater Los Angeles area, earthquakes and other natural emergencies are a reality. In order to deal with this situation, emergency preparedness must become a way of life. In the event of a major earthquake or disaster, freeways and surface streets may be impassable and public services could be interrupted or taxed beyond their limits. Therefore, everyone must know how to provide for their own needs for an extended period of time, whether at work, home, or on the road.

That's just how it is. People need to be encouraged to do this. Whenever I say this, I get responses along the lines of "poor people can't afford to stockpile food." But here's a family survival kit for $50 and it's pretty good. Most poor people in America can afford food (that's why so many poor people are fat). They do have other problems that make preparation less likely, though (if you're the kind of person who thinks ahead and prepares for emergencies, you're much less likely to be poor to begin with) and local authorities have to be ready -- see the stockpile advice above.

8. Put somebody in charge: Politicians and bureaucrats thrive on diffusion of responsibility, because it helps them escape blame (as they're trying to do in the fingerpointing orgy that's going on now). Somebody needs to be clearly in charge. Right now it's mostly state governors, but this needs to be made inescapably plain, regardless of where it is. I don't agree with Mickey Kaus that we should ignore federalism and just put the President, or the FEMA Director, in charge and empower them to override state and local officials, but even that would be better than leaving no one in charge.

There's much more to be done on this topic, but it awaits clearer information on who dropped what balls when. However, it's worth noting that structural problems are always soluble when the people involved are willing to cooperate, and that no structure works well when it's staffed by idiots or people who don't take the problem seriously. Which raises another point:

9. Make people care: Actually, Katrina may have done this. Most people -- and politicians are worse, if anything -- have short time horizons. Disasters are things that just don't happen, until they do. Planning for them is ignored, or even looked down on, often by the very same people who are making after-the-fact criticisms that there wasn't enough planning. People usually get better after a big disaster, for a while. Beyond that, voters and pundits need to treat the subject with the importance it deserves instead of -- as is more typical -- treating it as the silly obsession of a few paranoid types.

I'm sure there's a lot more to be learned, but this is a start. If you think I've missed something important, send me an email.

JOSEPH BRITT: Don't forget about Darfur. It is, in fact, worse than a hurricane.
Thurs. Sept 8:

WELL, THIS WILL HELP: A finger-pointing storm erupts in Congress. Congress, of course, is in no position to point fingers. While we're assigning responsibility, perhaps those who had committee assignments relating to the Katrina response should lose those assignments, and their seniority. . . .

UPDATE: Here's another idea -- maybe members of Congress should give up some existing pork-barrel projects to fund Katrina reconstruction.

Defund things we don't need to pay for things we do! That's so crazy it just might work!


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

In My Absence...

In my absence, I hope you all feel free to go to Little Green Footballs for your blogging needs. There are so many good blogs out there, but if you need to stop by just one, LGF is the place (don't forget about the great commenting community too!)

Here's an LGF rip from today:

Where Did the Debris from the Twin Towers Go?

The First Post has a moving story about the debris from the World Trade Center towers—and its connection to the disaster in New Orleans.

Monday, September 05, 2005

More Hurricane Miscellany

Sorry. No time. Must rip from LGF:

Only two organizations were on the scene from day one as refugees began arriving at the Houston Astrodome: the American Red Cross and Chabad Jewish Hurricane Relief. Some photographs of the Astrodome are here: Chabad Hurricane Relief. You can donate to the Texas chapter here, or the Louisiana chapter here.

Don Singleton dug up every available official document related to the Emergency Management Plan of the city of New Orleans, to investigate the question: Who is responsible?

Inside the Eye of the Monster

From LGF:
Lt. Mike Silah, a P-3 pilot for the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration, captured some amazing photographs from inside the eye of Hurricane Katrina when she was a Category Five monster bearing down on the Gulf Coast, on August 28, 2005: NOAA Hurricane Hunter Pilot Captures Katrina at Her Meanest.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Blanco Refused to Act

Lifted from LGF directly due to the informations import:

At the Washington Post, in a story with a headline that gives no indication of the important information it contains, we discover that federal officials were desperately trying to get Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco to do something about the disaster in New Orleans—but she refused to act: Thousands Remain To Be Evacuated. (Hat tip: efuseakay.)

Behind the scenes, a power struggle emerged, as federal officials tried to wrest authority from Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D). Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans, a source within the state’s emergency operations center said Saturday.

The administration sought unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. Some officials in the state suspected a political motive behind the request. “Quite frankly, if they’d been able to pull off taking it away from the locals, they then could have blamed everything on the locals,” said the source, who does not have the authority to speak publicly.

A senior administration official said that Bush has clear legal authority to federalize National Guard units to quell civil disturbances under the Insurrection Act and will continue to try to unify the chains of command that are split among the president, the Louisiana governor and the New Orleans mayor.

Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday, three state and federal officials said. As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said.

“The federal government stands ready to work with state and local officials to secure New Orleans and the state of Louisiana,” White House spokesman Dan Bartlett said. “The president will not let any form of bureaucracy get in the way of protecting the citizens of Louisiana.”

Blanco made two moves Saturday that protected her independence from the federal government: She created a philanthropic fund for the state’s victims and hired James Lee Witt, Federal Emergency Management Agency director in the Clinton administration, to advise her on the relief effort.

Chillingly Prophetic Article

From the National Geographic comes an article written almost a year ago by Joel K. Bourne, Jr., that is chillingly prophetic.
It was a broiling August afternoon in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Big Easy, the City That Care Forgot. Those who ventured outside moved as if they were swimming in tupelo honey. Those inside paid silent homage to the man who invented air-conditioning as they watched TV "storm teams" warn of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Nothing surprising there: Hurricanes in August are as much a part of life in this town as hangovers on Ash Wednesday.

But the next day the storm gathered steam and drew a bead on the city. As the whirling maelstrom approached the coast, more than a million people evacuated to higher ground. Some 200,000 remained, however—the car-less, the homeless, the aged and infirm, and those die-hard New Orleanians who look for any excuse to throw a party.

The storm hit Breton Sound with the fury of a nuclear warhead, pushing a deadly storm surge into Lake Pontchartrain. The water crept to the top of the massive berm that holds back the lake and then spilled over. Nearly 80 percent of New Orleans lies below sea level—more than eight feet below in places—so the water poured in. A liquid brown wall washed over the brick ranch homes of Gentilly, over the clapboard houses of the Ninth Ward, over the white-columned porches of the Garden District, until it raced through the bars and strip joints on Bourbon Street like the pale rider of the Apocalypse. As it reached 25 feet (eight meters) over parts of the city, people climbed onto roofs to escape it.

Thousands drowned in the murky brew that was soon contaminated by sewage and industrial waste. Thousands more who survived the flood later perished from dehydration and disease as they waited to be rescued. It took two months to pump the city dry, and by then the Big Easy was buried under a blanket of putrid sediment, a million people were homeless, and 50,000 were dead. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States.

When did this calamity happen? It hasn't—yet. But the doomsday scenario is not far-fetched. The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists a hurricane strike on New Orleans as one of the most dire threats to the nation, up there with a large earthquake in California or a terrorist attack on New York City. Even the Red Cross no longer opens hurricane shelters in the city, claiming the risk to its workers is too great.

"The killer for Louisiana is a Category Three storm at 72 hours before landfall that becomes a Category Four at 48 hours and a Category Five at 24 hours—coming from the worst direction," says Joe Suhayda, a retired coastal engineer at Louisiana State University who has spent 30 years studying the coast. Suhayda is sitting in a lakefront restaurant on an actual August afternoon sipping lemonade and talking about the chinks in the city's hurricane armor. "I don't think people realize how precarious we are,"
Suhayda says, watching sailboats glide by. "Our technology is great when it works. But when it fails, it's going to make things much worse."

Friday, September 02, 2005

Can this really be happening in America?

One of many places of anarchy and despair: The Superdome. Read this NY Daily News article:
A great city has descended into chaos.

In much of New Orleans yesterday, food and water remained in short supply. Medical help was nowhere to be found. And answers were impossible to come by.

Then hope ran out and it was the biggest loss of all.

At the city's convention center, a frustrated and angry mob rioted, furious that they had been dumped at a place where there was no food, no water and no one in charge.

At the Superdome, fights broke out in the huge crowd that assembled on an upper parking deck. The crowd jostled for position and hoped eventually to get on a bus to somewhere - anywhere.

Children cried.

Women fainted.

A man who asked for a cigarette got beaten with a pipe.

"People are hysterical. I'm scared. I'm upset," said Gloria Charles, 53, a school custodian.

As if things weren't bad enough, a rumor soon shot through the crowd that another hurricane was brewing in the Atlantic. It even had a name: Hurricane Leo.

The anxious lines of people pushed against a National Guard barricade, sweaty and screaming and wishing it was all a bad dream.

Daily News photographer Mike Appleton and I heard there was a riot under way at the convention center and headed over there.

As we walked past the Windsor Court hotel, we were stopped by a female state trooper. "Y'all came over here without guns? Don't go there. Don't go there unless you have a machine gun around your neck. We pulled our troops out because the civilians have taken over. We don't have the manpower to deal with them," she said.

But Mike and I decided to press on. This is a story the world needs to hear.

There was no food or water and not a cop or a soldier to be seen. And overnight, I was told, 10 people had died.

I was skeptical of the claim and a man took me to a massive refrigerator in the center's kitchen.

Eight bodies were inside, though there was no power to keep the refrigerator on. I found the other two corpses around the back, on a loading dock.

The body of an elderly woman sat in a wheelchair covered with a red-and-blue checkered cloth. Her feet stuck out and had blood on them. Next to her was a woman wrapped in a white sheet.

A little while later, we heard the thump-thump-thump of a helicopter and a Black Hawk dropped from the gray sky into the parking lot. The mob rushed the copter, swarming it before it even had a chance to land.

The soldiers inside opened the doors and pushed out cases of water and boxes of MREs - meals ready to eat. People pushed. People yelled. The old folks and kids grabbed what they could. The young men made out best, though some were willing to share their bounty. Others just kept what they had claimed and shouldered their way through the crowd.

Claudia Sims, 54, watched from the side, her six grandkids all around her. They hadn't eaten in 24 hours.

"I can't compete with these people," she said.

One of her little granddaughters waded into the throng and came back with a smile on her face.

"Grandma, I got food!"

In her tiny hand was her bounty - a single MRE.

Three minutes after landing, the copter lifted off and rose into the air.

I have seen such scenes before, but always on television and always from faraway places. In Third World nations, but not here.

As I watched the copter go, I thought to myself:

Can this really be happening in America?


More Pictures of Devastation and Desperation

Here are some more photos of the despair, desperation and complete devastation in New Orleans. There are so many more heart-wrenching pictures, but I lack the time to go through them all.


Hell in a Handbasket, Part IV

Michelle Malkin has a roundup of the insanity in New Orleans. My friends, be thankful you're not down there, and pray anarchy never visits your home town.

Quick round-up:

Officials in New Orleans are belatedly sounding the right tones of toughness against looters and thugs. But on the ground, it's still FUBAR--and now there are explosions and fires on top of everything else. One local official is begging for gas and buses.

Mayor Ray Nagin says drug addicts are wreaking havoc on the city.

Donald Sensing calls Mayor Nagin's meltdown a "Kate Hale" moment. Audio here.
Louisiana blogger Emily Metzgar is trying to spread the word on stranded victims in St. Bernard's Parish.

An Australian victim of Katrina tells his countrymen of rape and murder in the Big Easy.

Confusion seems to reign over what the rules of engagement are, reports Brian at Brendan Loy's blog.

Clayton Cramer continues to document civilian gun defenses in the disaster area.

The American Thinker posts a reflection on "New Orleans hospitality."

And Lance at Red State Rant has a suggestion: Why not used closed BRAC closed bases as temporary shelters?


Bloggers Fund Drive

The Truth Laid Bear is organizing the blogger fund drive. To sign up your blog, suggest your favorite charity, and log your contribution, go here. Here are the latest numbers:
$ 288,300 in contributions so far
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1,375 blogs participating
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147 charities recommended
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And Don't forget the Instapundit's post on the updated list of charities...

Update: In thirty minutes the total has risen to $302,780. Keep on giving!
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New Orleans Under Water

Here is an overhead high-resolution picture of New Orleans under water, found via Ed Driscoll. It took me a while to understand the picture because the water looks green, like dark grass. To calibrate yourself, find a highway in the picture that disappears under that "grass" and then you can envision the devastation.


Hell in a Handbasket, Part III

A woman holds 7-day-old Envi Taylor at the evacuation staging area in Metairie, Louisiana.

Oh my God. We have acheived Hell in America. New Orleans is one of the largest cities and one of the most important strategic assets in the United States - and now it is entirely ruined. People are being lost, raped and murdered. The police have barricaded themselves in their headquarters. We have lost the city as thoroughly as if by a nuclear strike. Except there are still innocents alive and walking the streets, being stalked and hounded by the two-legged animals that may have once been human but are no longer.

May God have mercy on us all.

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - A mighty explosion rattled the outskirts of New Orleans and the ruined city's frayed nerves on Friday as U.S. troops finally headed toward the region in a federal aid effort that the mayor said was a disaster unto itself.

Police locked themselves in their own headquarters in fear of the spreading anarchy as looters, shooters and gangs roamed the streets thrown into chaos in aftermath Hurricane Katrina's deadly attack on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Tens of thousands of people sat helplessly on the streets and sidewalks near the city convention center, waiting for help that had not yet come.

Others trudged along flooded and debris-strewn streets toward the Superdome football stadium where they hoped to be bused to safety.

They stumbled around bodies that lay rotting and untouched five days after deadly Hurricane Katrina struck the U.S. Gulf Coast and left what officials said could be thousands of dead.


100 Hours Later...

The Anchoress has a wonderful essay looking at the 100 Hours After Stormfall. Read it all.


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hell in a Handbasket, Part II

This dispatch from a doctor setting up a makeshift hospital in the Ritz-Carlton.
Things were obviously bad yesterday, but they are much worse today. Overnight the water arrived. Now Canal Street (true to its origins) is indeed a canal. The first floor of all downtown buildings is underwater. I have heard that Charity Hospital and Tulane are limited in their ability to care for patients because of water. Ochsner is the only hospital that remains fully functional. However, I spoke with them today and they too are on generator and losing food and water fast. The city now has no clean water, no sewerage system, no electricity, and no real communications. Bodies are still being recovered floating in the floods. We are worried about a cholera epidemic. Even the police are without effective communications. We have a group of armed police here with us at the hotel that are admirably trying to exert some local law enforcement. This is tough because looting is now rampant. Most of it is not malicious looting. These are poor and desperate people with no housing and no medical care and no food or water trying to take care of themselves and their families. Unfortunately, the people are armed and dangerous. We hear gunshots frequently. Most of Canal street is occupied by armed looters who have a low threshold for discharging their weapons. We hear gunshots frequently. The looters are using makeshift boats made of pieces of styrofoam to access. We are still waiting for a significant national guard presence.

The health care situation here has dramatically worsened overnight. Many people in the hotel are elderly and small children. Many other guests have unusual diseases. We have commandered the world famous French Quarter Bar to turn into an makeshift clinic. There is a team of about 7 doctors and PA and pharmacists. We anticipate that this will be the major medical facility in the central business district and French Quarter.

Our biggest adventure today was raiding the Walgreens on Canal under police escort. The pharmacy was dark and full of water. We basically scooped the entire drug sets into gargace bags and removed them. All under police excort. The looters had to be held back at gun point.

In all we are faring well. We have set up a hospital in the the French Qarter bar in the hotel, and will start admitting patients today. We are anticipating to dealing with multiple medical problems, medications and and acute injuries. Infection and perhaps even cholera are anticipated major problems. Food and water shortages are iminent.

The biggest question to all of us is where is the national guard. We hear jet fignters and helicopters, but no real armed presence, and hence the rampant looting. There is no Red Cross and no salvation army.

In a sort of cliche way, this is an edifying experience. Once is rapidly focused away from the transient and material to the bare necessities of life. It has been challenging to me to learn how to be a primary care phyisican. We are under martial law so return to our homes is impossible. I don't know how long it will be and this is my greatest fear. Despite it all, this is a soul edifying experience. The greatest pain is to think about the loss. And how long the rebuild will [take]. And the horror of so many dead people .


Hell in a Handbasket

Oh my God... The city is going to hell in a handbasket. May God save the innocent and get them out of that hellhole. This is America! Not war-torn Africa! My God! Where is the Military? There are the APCs and Tanks? What in the world are the people in charge thinking? Bush can not go down there to visit! He might as well pay a surprise visit to Darfur to lend a hand! Get the security under control, for if there is no security, there can be no rescue!

The following comes from a blogger in New Orleans:
It's raining now and I guess that's a relief from the heat. It's hot as hell down there in the sun. Crime is absolutely rampant: rapes, murders, rape-murder combinations.


In case anyone in national security is reading this, get the word to President Bush that we need the military in here NOW. The Active Duty Armed Forces. Mr. President, we are losing this city. I don't care what you're hearing on the news. The city is being lost. It is the law of the jungle down here. The command and control structure here is barely functioning. I'm not sure it's anyone's fault -- I'm not sure it could be any other way at this point. We need the kind of logistical support and infrastructure only the Active Duty military can provide. The hospitals are in dire straights. The police barely have any capabilities at this point. The National Guard is doing their best, but the situation is not being contained. I'm here to help in anyway I can, but my capabilities are limited and dropping. Please get the military here to maintain order before this city is lost.


Civilization Breakdown

Rick Moran writes an insightful essay on civilization, and the effects of its breakdown.
But something has happened in New Orleans that is unprecedented. We’ve seen it happen on a smaller scale during other natural disasters. The looting, the anger, the despair was evident in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in Florida. However, while the area damaged by Andrew may have been just as large as the swath of total destruction left by Katrina, Andrew never quite destroyed the spirit of community and shared faith which allowed Floridians to maintain a patina of civilization that kept them from lunging at each other’s throats and descending to the level of animals whose only thought was of obeying the primal instinct present in all of us for self preservation.

Make no mistake. Unless something truly dramatic happens in the next 48 hours, the situation in New Orleans will degenerate into something heretofore seen only in refugee camps and places like Somalia. People will start forming themselves into mobs for protection. And those mobs will start fighting both the authorities and each other for scarce resources as people get hungrier and thirstier by the hour. We already have seen property owners setting up their own security patrols in sections of downtown. This is from a New Orleans blogger:

Since it’s war out there, I figure it’s time to go back to my military ways.

Camp Crystal is locked down for the night. Team SOTI (that’s the crew up here) has broken up into 3 squads. Squad 1 is on diesel detail. Squad 2 is on patrol. Squad 3 is on service and support.
The Final Protective Line is Poydras Avenue. All avenues of approach are secure. Stand to is at 0600.

The cops were out in force on Poydras until just a few moments ago. Not sure what they were upto.

The blogger has a fairly clear picture as to what’s happening on the ground:

I guess what I’m saying is there’s no need to focus on us here, because we’re gonna make do. We need to worry about preventing the city from consuming itself, because the looting is getting nuts, the waters are rising in many heretofor unflooded sections, and there’s no timeline available for power, food, water, medicine and the like for the masses.

If you have any survival tips, feel free to toss in your input. I’ve got a lot of survival training, but we’ve never trained for the total collapse of civilization (or I should say, my only training in that regard was from a military perspective).

The “total collapse of civilization” is right around the corner and there’s nothing really to stop it. The authorities' first priority is to save the living. Since so many are stranded, trapped, injured, or lost – numbers that may be in the tens of thousands – this is a process that will take days. In the meantime, the flood waters keep rising, the dead go unattended, the looting is getting out of control, people in shelters are getting close to open revolt, and the chances for complete and utter chaos that would cost the lives of thousands of people grows hourly.

Something or someone must intervene to restore the one commodity that could head the chaos off at the pass and put the evil genie of anarchy back in the bottle. That one commodity is hope. Unless people have hope that things are eventually going to get better and get better quickly, they will succumb to the siren song of mobocracy and tear New Orleans to shreds. As it stands now, we’re a hairsbreadth from open warfare in the streets. And if no one can step forward – the Mayor, the Governor, or even President Bush – and give the residents of New Orleans confidence in the future, people will look to their present circumstances and act accordingly.

That way lies madness.

Words of Wisdom

Michelle Malkin writes:
In times of chaos, an armed citizenry is often the best, last, and only defense.

Bloggers Unite to Help Victims

Bloggers are uniting to help victims by both providing information as well as fundraising efforts. Michelle Malkin has the lowdown:

Today's the day! Inspired by Hugh Hewitt, marshaled by Glenn Reynolds, and organized by N.Z. Bear, nearly 700 bloggers from 11 countries have united today to raise money for Hurricane Katrina victims. There's a plethora of charities to choose from--pick many!

I've donated to and am recommending Mercy Corps, which is teaming with Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) to meet the immediate and longer-term needs of people displaced from their homes in coastal Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. Mercy Corps consistently ranks as one of America's most effective and efficient charitable organizations. Last year, more than 92 percent of its resources went directly to programs serving people in need.

I'm also donating to Hugh and N.Z's respective charities--Canal Street Presbyterian Church, Soldiers' Angels, and The American Red Cross. And Strengthen The Good, an early innovator in blog charity drives, is launching a matching relief fund in honor of today's event.

Heartbreaking Stories

The sad, depressing stories of loss and despair are starting to trickle out of Louisiana. A heartbreaking account was e-mailed to the Instapundit. Much more will be coming in soon...
And the hospitals are full. The hospitals are turning people away, because they don't have enough food and water to be able to take care of the people who are in the hospitals. So, the boatload of people that came apparently to the hospital this morning or this afternoon, a father, a mother and two little kids came in a boat, and the people at the hospital turned them away, sent them away, because they didn't have room for them. Another 20 people walked up to the parking lot -- parking garage. They had been in the Holiday Inn downtown. That Holiday Inn lost electricity, lost everything. So those people just left, and they have been wandering around the city looking for a place to stay, and the security guards had to turn them away. They sent them back into the flood waters because they didn't have enough food or water or that to even be able to take care of necessarily the people that are here.

So who's left behind in New Orleans right now, you are talking about tens of thousands of people who are left behind, and those are the sickest, the oldest, poorest, the youngest, the people with disabilities and the like, and the plan was that everybody should leave. Well, you can't leave if you're in a hospital. You can't leave if you're a nurse. You can't leave if you are a patient. You can't leave if you're in a nursing home. You can't leave if you don't have a car. All of these things. They didn't have - there was no plan for that.

And so, we are talking about somewhere in the neighborhood, I think, of 100,000 people probably in the metropolitan New Orleans area that are still here. And the suggestions from local officials are, you know, in the suburban parish next to us, they announced on the radio -- we have one radio station, have no TV, have no cell phones. Nothing. The only calls we are able to get are the calls that come in. And the suggestion was that people should take a boat over toward the interstate, and then they would pick them up there.

But, you know, these people don't have a car, people who live in an apartment with their mother, you know, people who are sick. That's why they couldn't leave. They don't have cars. They certainly don't have boats!

And so, there's a huge humanitarian crisis going on here right now.

Pictures of Devastation

There will be more pictures coming of the damage, no, the devastation, left by the hurricane. These photos are just the beginning...