Saturday, September 10, 2005

Mark your calendar

Have any plans tomorrow night? The Discovery Channel will air a program Sunday evening at 9 pm ET/PT called The Flight That Fought Back. Using cell-phone and cockpit recordings as well as interviews with family members and other compiled information, this 90 minute commercial-free documentary attempts to re-construct the events leading up to the heroic uprising of the passengers on the legendary Flight 93.

From watching the previews it looks to be very powerful -- not only as a reminder of the tragic events of that day but also as an inspiring tale of American resolve in the face of certain death. Try to catch it if you can.

Never try to work with a donkey

A very clever one from Glenn McCoy:

Abbas may try to disarm terrorist groups

To date, it has been difficult to guage how serious the new Palestinian government will be in quelling the violent activities of terrorist factions against Israelis after the Gaza pullout. However, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas apparently has revealed some of his intentions for groups such as Hamas which... if true... seem to indicate a little intestinal fortitude on his part:

PA chairman orders security forces to prepare for disarming factions in wake of Monday’s Gaza blast; most complex task: Disarming Hamas members
Roee Nahmias

Will Hamas be disarmed? Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas ordered Palestinian Authority security officials Wednesday to prepare a plan for disarming terror groups in the Gaza Strip.

The move follows an explosion in a residential building in Gaza two days ago that left four people dead and another thirty wounded.

A senior Palestinian official told Arabic-language newspaper al-Bayan that Abbas demanded that relevant officials present him with plans to disarm Palestinian factions.

“The implementation of this task will take a long time, but the chairman expressed his determination (to ensure) not even one weapon would be found in the Strip expect arms held by security officers,” the source said.

“According to the reports received by Abu-Mazen (Abbas,) the most difficult task would be removing weapons from the hands of Hamas, because the (Fatah’s) al-Aqsa Brigades will eventually join the security forces and receive a permit for their weapons,” he said.

“The most appropriate time for taking away Hamas’ weapons would be right after the elections for the legislative council,” another source added.

Meanwhile, Hamas said it is determined to keep its weapons because the Gaza withdrawal “does not constitute the end of the conflict.”

“The continued occupation of the West Bank constitutes 94 percent of Palestinian territory occupied in 1967, an area where Sharon said he intends to reinforce settlement blocs,” the Hamas said.

Who hired this incompetent, anyway?

As Democrats (the usual ones) call for the firing of Michael Brown, NewsMax gives us a little background perspective on his confirmation:

Democrats who've been complaining about FEMA director Michael Brown still want him fired - saying that Homeland Security czar Michael's Chertoff's decision on Friday to recall him to Washington isn't enough.

"It is not enough to remove Mr. Brown from the disaster scene," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Sens. Dick Durbin, Debbie Stabenow and Charles Schumer complained in a letter to President Bush. "His continued presence in this critical position endangers the success of the ongoing recovery efforts."

As noted by National Review Online's Byron York, however, Brown got glowing reviews from some of his new critics, when he was confirmed by the Senate in 2002.

"Not only was Brown confirmed," noted York. "But he was apparently confirmed by a unanimous voice vote -- when the Senate was controlled by Democrats. . . .

"The whole affair, including tributes from Brown's home-state senators, apparently lasted less then an hour, and ended with [Sen. Joe] Lieberman saying, 'Mr. Brown, I thank you very much. I will certainly support your nomination. I will do my best to move it through the committee as soon as possible so we can have you fully and legally at work in your new position.'"

The hearing was for Brown's nomination as FEMA deputy director - but apparently Brown didn't have to be re-confirmed when he became director.

Laura has had it

The First Lady spoke out yesterday regarding recent attacks on her husband calling the criticisms "disgusting":

WASHINGTON — Laura Bush described as "disgusting" comments by rapper Kanye West and Democratic chairman Howard Dean blaming her husband for the disproportionate number of black hurricane victims.

"I think all of those remarks are disgusting, to be perfectly frank, because of course President Bush cares about everyone in our country," the first lady said Thursday in an interview with American Urban Radio Networks.

"And I know that. I mean, I'm the person who lives with him," she said. "I know what he's like and I know what he thinks and I know how he cares about people."

Open letter to Cindy Sheehan

For those who have loved ones serving overseas and support their cause:

Subject: From the heart...

An Open Letter to Cindy Sheehan From the Proud Father of a U.S. Marine By Brantley Smith Posted On August 17, 2005

Ms. Sheehan,

By your actions over the past two weeks it is clear that you missed an important aspect of Civics 101: With rights come responsibilities. You certainly have the right to voice your opinion against the war in Iraq and the President's policies. You even have the right to camp outside the President's home in Crawford and demand he meet with you. Your status as a mother who has lost a child in the war also gives your words and actions a credibility and a larger audience than otherwise would be the case. Now that your supporters have given you a broad forum from which to be heard, making you a national figure, its time you considered your responsibilities to all of us. I have a daughter set to deploy to Fallujah in two weeks and I have a serious concern with how your irresponsible and short sighted actions might impact on her. She is, after all, a volunteer, like your son, and she is going in harm's way because she believes it is her responsibility to protect your rights and freedoms.

Well meaning people like you always seem to forget the law of unintended consequences and in your vanity and arrogant self-righteousness never bother to think through what it is you are trying to do versus what you may actually accomplish. I am here to inform you, Ma'am, that you will not change the policy of our government by sitting outside Crawford making a spectacle of yourself in the name of your rights to free speech; what you will do is provide more propaganda for our enemies and cost the lives of even more brave and selfless American warriors. How long do you think it will be before you become a star on Al Jazeera? For all I know, it may have already happened. One thing is certain, though, and that is that your actions and words will further embolden a ruthless and evil enemy and more American blood will be shed and some of it will be on your hands. I pray that my daughter will not be one of them. If she is, then I will hold you and those like you partly responsible. Yes, my daughter's fate will depend mostly on her own courageous decision to serve, but only the most naive among us can deny the impact our own words and actions here in America have in a world grown smaller by the revolution in communications technology.

I am sure you believe that you are serving some great cause by putting our servicemen and women in more danger and that you can, by your irresponsible exercise of free speech, help end a policy you disagree with. Your emotion may be compelling but the reality is that you will not set in motion any process that will change or undo what has been done. The war will go on because to end it now would dishonor the sacrifice of all of our fellow countrymen who have died in the cause of fighting terrorism. Rational Americans will not allow that. Too much is at stake. Unfortunately, shallow and irrational ones, such as yourself, will continue to put the lives of our sons and daughters in danger by aiding and abetting an enemy who sees propagandizing in the mass media as its main weapon in a war it could otherwise not win standing on its own wretched and evil justification of radical Islam, or by force of arms. You, Ma'am, have joined forces with an evil you neither understand nor apparently have tried to comprehend. You direct your anger toward our country while the enemy plots to kill and maim the innocent. You make a mockery of responsible free speech while thousands of young men and women fight desperately to preserve your safety. Instead of honoring your son's sacrifice you are inspired to comfort an evil enemy.

You clearly do not understand the challenge we face as a nation and have not tried to put it in historical perspective. It is a sad fact that it is those of your thinking that have led us to where we are today. Decades of appeasement to these haters of everything we hold dear has cost thousands of American lives from Beirut to New York and in dozens of other forgotten places. Remember Lockerbie? The Achille Lauro? The USS Cole? We as a people were dragged into this war, much like December 7th, 1941, and we must fight and win it wherever the enemy hides and against whomever would support him. Make no mistake about Iraq. It is both a legitimate and crucial campaign in this much larger, global war of radical Islam's making. These people hate us for who we are, not what we have done. We did not bring this on ourselves, as many would have us believe, by our policies and actions abroad. We brought this on ourselves in 1775 when the Founding Fathers embarked on a course of freedom, tolerance, and liberal democratic and social ideals. These haters of all we hold dear strive to destroy forever a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" that Abraham Lincoln hoped would never "Perish from the earth". They would replace it with an oppressive world theocracy unlike anything modern history has ever seen for its ruthless disregard for personal freedom and liberty. If more appeasement is your answer for an alternative policy, spare us. We have suffered enough from cowardice and inaction.

An historical analogy screams to be let out here. It is one of two men, both named Chamberlain. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, a school teacher turned soldier in the American Civil War, found himself in the crosshairs of history on a warm July day in 1863 on a small hill in Pennsylvania. Commanding the 20th Maine Regiment on the extreme Union left at Gettysburg he was in a most perilous position. Should he fail to hold against a strong Confederate attack, the Union could be lost. You see, he was serving in an increasingly unpopular war at home against a resurgent enemy, and for a President fighting for his political life. Colonel Chamberlain, stoic but determined, refused to yield. His small regiment held against an onslaught of Confederate attacks, an action many historians believe turned the tide of the war. He was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The other half of this analogy focuses on Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of Great Britain in the years preceding World War II. His story is widely known. Through his policy of appeasement and a lack of moral courage, he handed Adolf Hitler much of Europe. Which side of history have you chosen, Ma'am?

Your son died in the service of freedom and my daughter will go in harm's way to protect and preserve it. Honor their sacrifice, Ma'am, by exercising it responsibly.

I will pray with you and I will grieve with you but I will not stand by silent while you needlessly and arrogantly endanger the life of my daughter and her comrades in arms. Please bless us with your silence and go home.

Brantley Smith Proud father of a United States Marine, Tullahoma, TN email: usmcengr@aol.com

Semper Fidelis,

Patently Patriotic Post of the Day (9/10/05)

NEW ORLEANS--Lance Cpl. David B. Bystricky (right) and Pfc. Chris Mesche, both members of Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, peer over the lip of their Amphibious Assault Vehicle during a search and rescue patrol Sept. 6. The Marines were called to provide humanitarian assistance to the city of New Orleans to mitigate the devistation of Hurricane Katrina.
Photo by: Sgt. Tracee L. Jackson

From U.S. Marine Corps official website

Friday, September 09, 2005

Mars to make close approach

From Space.com:

Mars is coming back. The Red Planet, the only one whose surface we can see in any detail from the Earth, has begun the best apparition it will give us until the summer of 2018.

Planet watchers have already begun readying their telescopes.

If this sounds familiar, you might recall a similar setup two years ago. This current apparition of Mars will not be as spectacular as the one in August 2003 when the planet came closer to Earth than it had in nearly 60,000-years.

Mars is currently in the constellation of Aries, the Ram and doesn't rise until around 10:45 p.m. local daylight time. There is certainly no mistaking it once it comes up over the east-southeast horizon. Presently shining at magnitude –0.8, it now ranks fifth among the brightest objects in the night sky, surpassed only by the Moon, Venus, Jupiter and Sirius (the brightest star in the sky).

And as it continues to approach Earth, Mars will only be getting brighter in the coming weeks: it will surpass Sirius on Sept. 21 and on Oct. 4 it will rival Jupiter and as a consequence (until Nov. 26), hold forth as the second-brightest planet.

Late on the night of Aug. 24, Mars will hover below and to the right of the waning gibbous Moon. As you will see for yourself, the so-called Red Planet actually will appear closer to a yellow-orange tint – the same color of a dry desert under a high sun.

This time around, Mars comes closest to the Earth on the night of Oct. 29 (around 11:25 p.m. Eastern daylight time). The planet will then lie 43,137,071 miles (69,422,386 kilometers) from Earth measured center to center. Mars will arrive at opposition to the Sun (rising at sunset, setting at sunrise) nine days later, on Nov. 7.

My wife and I live in a small town but we are fortunate enough to have an observatory less than five miles from our home. When Mars came so near to the earth in 2003 we were able to get a close up glimpse of the red planet. Absolutely amazing...

Ophelia coming back

Ophelia is now a hurricane again and is headed back toward the Eastern U.S.:

(CNN) -- Ophelia regained hurricane strength Friday evening, and the latest long-range forecast from the National Hurricane Center shows the storm making landfall either late Monday or early Tuesday along the South Carolina coast.

However, due to the the often erratic nature of hurricane movement, residents along the Atlantic coast from northern Florida to North Carolina were advised to closely monitor the storm because of the possibility it could strike their areas.

At 5 p.m. the center of the Ophelia was 175 miles east-northeast of Daytona Beach, Florida, and 220 miles south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina. The storm, with sustained winds of 75 mph, was moving northeast at about 7 mph, making it a minimal Category 1 hurricane.

Forecasters said Ophelia was not expected to strengthen over the next 24 hours. However, it was projected to turn west on Sunday, which would take the storm toward land instead of out to sea.

Tropical storm warnings and watches for northeast Florida were discontinued earlier in the day, and forecasters have not yet posted any warnings for stretches of coastline farther north. Tropical storm force winds from the storm extended only 70 miles from the center, not far enough to reach land.

If Ophelia hits the United States at hurricane strength, it would be the third hurricane to strike U.S. soil this year, with three months yet to go in the busy 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. Dennis landed near the Florida-Alabama border in early July; Katrina brought devastation and misery to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida with two landfalls in August.

Katrina death toll may be revised lower

Here's a new development on the Katrina aftermath that is somewhat interesting if not encouraging:

Authorities said Friday that their first systematic sweep of the city found far fewer bodies than expected, suggesting that Hurricane Katrina's death toll may not be the catastrophic 10,000 feared.

"I think there's some encouragement in what we've found in the initial sweeps that some of the catastrophic deaths that some people predicted may not have occurred," said Terry Ebbert, New Orleans' homeland security chief.

Ebbert declined to give a new estimate of the dead.

Authorities turned their attention to counting and removing the dead in a grid-by-grid search of the city after spending days cajoling, persuading and all but strong-arming the living into leaving the shattered city because of the danger of fires and disease from the filthy, corpse-laden floodwaters.

"Numbers so far are relatively minor as compared to the dire projections of 10,000," Ebbert said.

Mayor Ray Nagin had suggested over the weekend that the death toll could climb that high, and authorities ordered 25,000 body bags as they started gathering up the dead across a landscape awash in corpses.

Separately, Maj. Gen. Bill Caldwell, commanding general of 82nd Airborne Division, said the last of the bodies at the convention center would be taken out on Friday. Thousands of people took shelter there after the hurricane for days with little or no food or water, in what became an increasingly chaotic and violent situation.

In a small sign of progress, authorities said the New Orleans airport will reopen to commercial flights on Sept. 19. Caldwell said water and power are functioning at the airport.

Something in my gut told me that maybe 10,000 was a bit high. Remember the numbers that were initially thrown around right after Sept. 11 -- something in the neighborhood of 25,000? A lot of times the "experts" don't know much more than the rest of us.

A tough one to swallow

Another great cartoon by Paul Nowak:

U.N. refusing to start the presses

The U.N. is once again doing what it does best: nothing.

THE United Nations has refused to start printing Iraq's draft constitution, yet again delaying efforts to get millions of copies to voters before a referendum on October 15.

One negotiator from the Sunni Arab minority which has been lobbying for changes to the text adopted by parliament on August 28, said non-Arab Kurdish leaders agreed to an amendment to the draft to strengthen wording on Iraq's nature as an Arab state.

Others involved were not available for comment.

"We haven't been given authority to print it," said Nicholas Haysom, a UN official in Baghdad, adding that he could not say whether the existing draft had been amended.

"From our perspective, and we are helping in printing and distribution, we are awaiting a text certified by the National Assembly. We don't expect that to happen before Sunday."

Why even go through the U.N. to get this done? Why not just give the Iraqi parliament a Dell and a LaserJet and let them have at it. Better yet a PowerMac;).

UN won't print Iraq constitution

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FEMA Chief goes down

Democrats have found their first fall guy in the Katrina aftermath:

WASHINGTON — Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown (search) is being removed from his role managing Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, The Associated Press has learned.

And as FEMA grapples with criticism from all sides regarding the speed and effectiveness of its response to Hurricane Katrina, questions are now being raised about Brown's background.

FEMA Chief Taken Off Hurricane Relief Efforts

Some sanity from the courts

A crucial factor in this country's fight in the war on terror is the ability to make the distinction between a criminal and an enemy combatant. This means that we have to look at the activities of the person in question and decide whether we are dealing with a delusional US citizen who entertains apocalyptic fantasies or someone who has concrete plans and connections with a foreign enemy. In the case of Jose Padilla, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has gotten it right:

A federal appeals court Friday sided with the Bush administration and reversed a judge's order that the government either charge or free "dirty bomb" suspect Jose Padilla.

The three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the president has the authority to detain a U.S. citizen closely associated with al Qaida.

"The exceedingly important question before us is whether the President of the United States possesses the authority to detain militarily a citizen of this country who is closely associated with al Qaeda, an entity with which the United States is at war," Judge Michael Luttig wrote. "We conclude that the President does possess such authority."

Judge Luttig gets it. We are not talking about some street thug who is throwing molotov cocktails into nightclubs. This is a man who wanted to employ a weapon capable of killing hundreds of thousands and making an entire city uninhabitable. Furthermore, he was in direct communications with a foreign organization that had the potential to bring this about. As the 4th Court has now recognized, that makes him an enemy of the United States and puts him under military jurisdiction.

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Anti-hurricane protestors descend upon the White House

As reported yesterday, MoveOn.org has plucked three survivors out of the wreckage of Hurricane Katrina and planted them on the White House doorstep:

(CNSNews.com) - MoveOn.org presented three survivors of Hurricane Katrina to the media outside the White House Thursday to draw attention to the group's ongoing criticism of the Bush administration.

About 100 supporters of the liberal political group descended on Pennsylvania Avenue and spent most of their time blaming the president for the allegedly slow local, state and federal response in New Orleans; and, indirectly, for the failure of the city's levees.

One woman who stopped to show her support for President Bush received a loud and emotional rebuke from a MoveOn.org protester.

New Orleans residents Iona Renfroe, Michelle Augillard and Christine Mayfield recounted their stories of surviving the storm and described the lack of assistance they received in the aftermath. Each criticized the federal government without addressing accusations of early failures by local and state officials.

Renfroe, a New Orleans attorney, claimed that there has been "absolutely no response by the federal government ... absolutely nothing has been done."

CNSNews goes on to detail all of this "nothing":

According to the Department of Homeland Security, as of Tuesday, the federal rescue effort involved more than 71,000 personnel and has resulted in more than 45,000 rescues, including 23,000 by the U.S. Coast Guard. Approximately 273,000 citizens had been evacuated and two-thirds of them are still being housed in 550 federally-organized shelters around the country. Federal authorities had gathered and distributed 11.3 million military "Meals Ready to Eat" and 18 million liters of drinking water.

That's a pretty substantial amount of nothing. Now let's hear from the MoveOn folks themselves. Pay close attention to what is said here. This is Liberalism 101:

Tom Matzzie, Washington director of MoveOn.org Political Action, also focused his criticism on the Bush administration, calling the federal response to Hurricane Katrina "a national disgrace.

"What looks like incompetence by the president and his appointees is actually something worse," Matzzie claimed. "This is what government looks like when it is in the hands of people who don't believe in government, who want to privatize, who want to cut back and reduce the ability of the government to serve its people."

There it is in a nutshell. In the mind of a liberal, government is here to feed us, clothe us, shelter us and otherwise provide every fundamental need that we have. This is the mindset we are up against, folks.

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Ophelia may be bluffing

While the Gulf Coast recovers from Katrina, the East Coast has been keeping it's eye on another storm:

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. - Hurricane Ophelia weakened to a tropical storm and began drifting away from Florida's northeast coast early Friday, but that may not be the end of it for the peninsula, Georgia or the Carolinas.

Though Ophelia's top sustained winds had dropped to 65 mph, forecasters warned some models showed it turning back toward land as a hurricane sometime next week.

"By no means should people take this short-term motion as being let off the hook here," National Hurricane Center meteorologist Jamie Rhome said. "I don't want people to say, 'Whew this one's going out to sea.' There's still a possibility that it could loop back."

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Government to the rescue

Yesterday a 51.8 billion relief package was approved by congress to help fund the recovery of the Gulf Coast region which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Meanwhile, as the Boston Globe tells us, the Bush administration detailed it's own extensive relief plans for the victims:

Bush said the government would quickly deliver $2,000 debit cards to heads of households displaced by the storm, and said all residents of counties declared as disaster areas would be granted ''evacuee status." The designation will make residents available for a range of federal benefits, including mental health counseling, housing, child care, and nutrition programs, the president said.

Sounds pretty compassionate of our President, huh? But the Globe knows better:

Bush, under fire from an array of critics for a lackluster reaction after the deadly hurricane, used the announcement to portray himself as engaged and involved in the government's plans to help the victims. The president declared a national day of prayer and remembrance for Katrina victims next Friday, and Vice President Dick Cheney toured the devastation of New Orleans and Gulfport, Miss., his first trip to the disaster zone.

I think I understand, now. All of this aid and funding by the administration is simply a PR effort to portray Bush and Cheney as real human beings. Kind of like Boston Globe portrays itself as a real newspaper.

Like an emergency $10.5 billion package passed late last week, the extra $51.8 billion in aid to hurricane victims swept through Congress with broad bipartisan support last night. Still, Democrats kept up their fierce critique of the president, then offered an assistance plan of their own.

Senate minority leader Harry Reid unveiled his party's proposal for more direct assistance to affected residents, including guaranteed Medicaid health coverage for affected residents, housing vouchers for evacuees, access to federal facilities for temporary shelter, and six-month waivers on any loan payments or financial obligation to the federal government.

''After everything that has happened with FEMA, is there anyone who believes that we should continue to let the money go to FEMA and be distributed by them?" said Reid, Democrat of Nevada.

Certainly not. I think that the money should be distributed by a responsible body... such as congress. We all saw what they did with that highway bill last month...

Reid, as we remember, had this to say shortly after passing the first relief package last Friday:

[...]"our unified response sends a powerful signal to victims of this tragedy looking for signs that their government sees their plight and stands with them during this dark time.

"In these days ahead, it is important we continue to send this strong, unified message. We must work together not as Democrats and Republicans, but as Americans united in helping families torn apart by this devastating storm,"

Way to stick with that unified message, Harry.

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Patently Patriotic Post of the Day (9/09/05)

The Washington Monument, the simple, graceful obelisk that dominates the National Mall, has become more than just a memorial to the country's first president; it has become an enduring symbol of the city itself.

The structure — some architectural historians have called it as much a sculpture as a building — stands 555 feet, 5 inches, and although the monument has a stairwell, one need only take the 70-second elevator ride to the top and the observation floor. The trip is well worth it, as the views are superb, with stunning views of the city's monumental core and beyond.

Washington himself approved the general site of the monument, as Congress designated that an equestrian statue of the Revolutionary War hero be built in the new capital in 1783. When Washington approved L'Enfant's plan, the memorial was to be situated at the axis between the Capitol and the White House. The actual building is a few yards east of that exact nexus because the ground there proved too marshy.

While Congress mandated that the monument be built, it did not appropriate any funds. Fifty years after the original Congressional resolution, in 1833, a private group formed to raise money for construction. The Washington National Monument Society sought to raise $1 from each citizen. By 1836 it had raised considerably less than that — $25,000 — but was able to stage a design contest for the monument. Won by architect Robert Mills, the original design featured an obelisk emerging from a circular colonnade topped by Washington riding in a horse drawn Roman chariot. With all elements save for the obelisk eliminated, the cornerstone was laid in 1848.

Construction was halted during the Civil War, leaving a 150 foot stump at what was then the western edge of the Mall. Funds were hard to come by, so in 1876 the Society ceded the project to the federal government. The completed monument was finally dedicated on February 21, 1885, and finally opened to the public in 1888.

The stark beauty of the Washington Monument, particularly at night, is one of the glories of the capital city, and moved poet Robert Frost to pen the poem, "The Diver."

From Explore DC

Thursday, September 08, 2005

No jailtime for Berger

As expected, Sandy Berger is getting a slap on the wrist for creatively acquiring classified documents back in 2003:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger was sentenced Thursday to community service and probation and fined $50,000 for illegally removing highly classified documents from the National Archives and intentionally destroying some of them.

Berger must perform 100 hours of community service and pay the fine as well as $6,905 for the administrative costs of his two-year probation, a district court judge ruled.

"I deeply regret the actions that I took at the National Archives two years ago, and I accept the judgment of the court," Berger said outside the courthouse after his sentencing.

"I'm glad that the 9/11 commission has made clear that it received all the documents that it sought, all the documents that it needed, and I'm pleased to finally have this matter resolved," he added.

I just have two questions here:

  1. What were the contents of the documents that were destroyed?

  2. Who will be paying his fine for him?

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More from Mallard Filmore on the Roberts hearings

Arnold to terminate same-sex marriage bill

A day after the California Legislature approved a bill supporting same-sex marriage, Governor Arnlod Schwarzenegger announced that he would veto it. His reasons for doing so were right on:

In a careful statement, Schwarzenegger press secretary Margita Thompson invoked the voter approval in March 2000 of Proposition 22, which said: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

"The governor believes the matter should be determined not by legislative action — which would be unconstitutional — but by court decision or another vote of the people of our state," the statement said. "We cannot have a system where the people vote and the Legislature derails that vote."

Way to go, Arnold.

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Activism gone amuck

In a post from Sept. 5 on this blog titled "America's first political hurricane", I closed with the following prediction:

"Also don't be surprised when some of the same leftist groups that organized the Sheehan protests start whispering in the ears of some of the families of the hurricane victims."

{sigh} Read on:

(CNSNews.com) - A few hurricane Katrina evacuees are coming to Washington on Thursday to tell President Bush his administration let them down.

In a formula that worked well for anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan, the evacuees and liberal activists will request a meeting with President Bush to "demand accountability" and to ask why federal funding was cut for levee maintenance.

The protest is being organized by MoveOn.org's political action branch, while MoveOn.org's "civil action" branch continues to match evacuees who need housing with people who have extra rooms and beds.

In a press release announcing Thursday's protest, MoveOn.org said hurricane evacuees will tell President Bush to "stop blaming local officials for his mistakes and acknowledge that budget cuts and indifference by his administration led to the disaster in New Orleans and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast."

My intention here is not to brag. I just want to demonstrate how predictable the left has become in their desperation. What these groups fail to grasp is that the Cindy Sheehan protests have not worked. In spite of wall-to-wall coverage by the media, nobody has had their opinion swayed one way or the other. If this is all the moonbats have in their arsenal then the future looks pretty good for my side.

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We must backtrack before we can MoveOn

Yesterday I reported on the plans of Senate Democrats to associate the Katrina aftermath with John Roberts during next week's hearings. Pretty low, huh? So just what would inspire our good senators to engage in such a cockamamie strategy? After reading this USA TODAY article, I think I have some ideas...

The televised images of poverty-stricken evacuees from Hurricane Katrina are part of a provocative, last-minute effort by a liberal interest group to divert federal Judge John Roberts' path to confirmation as chief justice.

MoveOn.org Political Action plans to unveil a TV ad on Monday that questions whether Roberts is sensitive enough to civil rights concerns to lead the Supreme Court. The ad suggests that the plight of the mostly African-American evacuees in New Orleans showed that poverty remains a serious problem among minorities, said Ben Brandzel, the group's advocacy director. In a mix of judicial and racial politics, the ad then suggests that minorities could suffer if the Senate confirms Roberts.

"The connection is obvious," Brandzel said. "The images after Hurricane Katrina show we still live in a society where significant racial inequities exist. We believe John Roberts' record on civil rights ... is clearly not the direction our country needs to head now."

Ahhh it all becomes so clear now. Or does it? In an editor's note that was later inserted at the beginning of this piece, we are informed that... well... we were misinformed.

A liberal interest group Thursday denied it ever planned to use televised images of poverty-stricken evacuees from Hurricane Katrina as part of a provocative, last-minute effort to divert federal Judge John Roberts' path to confirmation as chief justice.

MoveOn.org Political Action's advocacy director Ben Brandzel had laid out plans for such an ad to USA TODAY on Wednesday. But Thursday, the group's executive director said "we regret any misunderstanding that may have arisen because of anything that our staff member might have told USA TODAY's reporter."

"We have no plans, and have never had plans, to produce such an ad," Eli Pariser added.

So what you are telling us, Mr Pariser, is that your organization never entertained such plans and your own prestigious advocacy director has now given to telling fibs? Pardon the pun, but that just doesn't wash. More likely is the probability that this and many other unsavory ideas have recently been swatted back and forth like tennis balls within the hallowed halls of your organization. This particular ball just happened to make it's way over the fence and out of the court.

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Jihadists planning a not-so-happy holiday

We in the West offer gifts and goodwill during our religious holidays. As we see in this CNSNews special report, Muslim fanatics are not in such a charitable mood for their holy month of Ramadan:

(CNSNews.com) - Al Qaeda's plans for a series of spectacular terrorist strikes in October, targeting American interests as well as U.S. allies in Europe and the Middle East and said to be coordinated by Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenant in Iraq - Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- are the subject of a non-public report issued by terrorism experts this week.

The attacks, planned to coincide with the Muslim observance of Ramadan and dubbed the "Great Ramadan Offensive," are designed to create a "fateful confrontation" with the U.S. and Israeli forces in the Middle East, according to a May 30 letter from Zarqawi to bin Laden. The contents of the letter are referenced in the report written by Yossef Bodansky, the former director of the U.S. Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare.

The Sept. 2 report is accessible only to government officials on the Global Information System (GIS) database. Cybercast News Service obtained the report on the same day as its release. It warns of planned attacks in Western Europe, Russia and perhaps the continental U.S. The specific targets are believed to include airports at Schiphol in the Netherlands and Fiumicino in Italy.

I'm not sure how CNS would have been allowed to have a copy of this report unless it was leaked deliberately. Whether it was to give the public an unofficial-official heads-up or whether it was a disgruntled government staffer trying to undermine the administration's counter-terror efforts is unclear at this point.

CNS goes on to explain how the information was compiled:

Details of the planned attacks were pieced together from intercepted communications between top al Qaeda leaders in the latter part of August, analysis of what counter- terrorism experts described as a dramatic increase in the volume of communication among jihad forces and the observation of an unprecedented movement of jihadists and messengers around the world apparently delivering instructions.

Zarqawi, linked to numerous bombings and the beheadings of several Western hostages in Iraq, reportedly titled his letter to bin Laden, "A Message from a Soldier to His Commander." According to the GIS report, Zarqawi's letter to bin Laden alluded to "the forthcoming grand offensive comprised of escalation in the Middle East and a series of spectacular terrorist strikes" meant to overshadow the impact of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist strikes in New York City and Washington, D.C.

The letter also indicated Zarqawi was expecting bin Laden to approve and authorize the escalation: "I think that the plan for the next stage that was drawn up has reached you or is on its way to you. O God. Make the expedition of Osama proceed toward its goal ... We await your orders as to the next stage of the plan," Zarqawi wrote.

An Aug. 8 televised message from bin Laden's overall second-in-command -- Ayman al-Zawahiri - is now viewed as the approval Zarqawi was anticipating. "What you have seen, O Americans, in New York and Washington and the losses you are having in Afghanistan and Iraq, in spite of all the media blackout, are only the losses of the initial clashes ... You will see the horror that will make you forget what you had seen in Vietnam," Zawahiri said.

The al Qaeda official's threat, according to the report, wasn't delivered until the jihad forces were organized and ready to strike.

The GIS report also cites an Aug. 21 message recorded by Zarqawi, which references the next phase of the terrorist jihad. "The [mujahedeen] in Iraq, have, praise be to God, moved the battle from the ground (in Iraq) to the land of the cross."

Why can't these guys just say "We plan on attacking America next"? Such a melodramatic bunch, those jihadists.

Bodansky's report states that "concrete preparations for the consolidation of Islamist-jihadist springboards against the heart and lair of the Great Satan are being completed -- for Western Europe in the Balkans, for Russian and Eastern Europe in Chechnya, and for the United States in the tri-border area in Latin America."

Two words, President Bush: immigration reform. Quickly.

Widespread anticipation throughout the Muslim world of the Great Ramadan Offensive was being picked up by intelligence analysts in August and then was reinforced by a slew of theological statements -- all buttressing what the GIS report calls "a forthcoming, well-coordinated global onslaught."

The marked increase in the volume of communication, both encrypted and open, exceeded that of the months prior to September 2001, the report states.

Bodansky said there is a growing awareness among Western European intelligence services of the "chatter" and activation of jihadist units, led by veterans of Iraq and Chechnya. In early August 2005 Pakistanis arrested a senior operative called Osama bin Yussaf who had detailed maps of Italian, German and British cities stored in his computer.

Germany faces the challenge of second and third generation immigrants inspired by the idea of a global jihad, the GIS report notes. Such young jihadists often hold down a regular job, have European passports and are valued assets due to their low profile, and easy mobility.

Bodansky also points to the Aug. 23 decree by Islamist rebels in Chechnya establishing an "emergency government." Details of the decree, not previously reported, indicate that a "war leadership council" was established and would likely "implement the next cycle of terrorist strikes against Russia" as part of the coordinated global attacks.

What can I say about this that hasn't already been pounded into our stubborn little heads by our President for the last 4 years: We are in a war. People of all political affiliations had better come to terms with that fact and be ready for what is still to come.

Now comes the tough part (for some of you): if we are to win this war, we also need to be ready to stand behind the President as most of us did after Sept. 11. Sorry if the very thought of that makes some of you cringe... but get over it. These are not the sixties and the stakes are too high now for us to be playing around.

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A welcome invasion

Now Mexico is sending it's army across the border to help with Katrina. These are strange times indeed:

LAREDO, Texas — A Mexican army convoy began crossing into the United States on Thursday to bring aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina (search).

Carrying water treatment plants and mobile kitchens that can feed 7,000 people daily, the convoy bound for San Antonio is the first Mexican military unit to operate on U.S. soil since 1846.

The first of 45 vehicles in the convoy crossed the international bridge at Laredo at about 8:15 a.m. Military engineers, doctors and nurses are among the 200 people headed to San Antonio.

Mexico has sent disaster relief aid missions to other Latin American nations, but not to the United States.

In 1846, Mexican troops briefly advanced just north of the Rio Grande (search) in Texas, which had then recently joined the United States. Mexico, however, did not then recognize the Rio Grande as the U.S. border.

The two countries quickly became mired in the Mexican-American War (search), which led to the loss of half of Mexico's territory in 1848.

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Grim task ahead for rescue workers

As workers continue to search for the living and the dead in New Orleans, FoxNews now gives word that 25,000 body bags have been prepared. They probably won't need them all but better to have more than not enough. Regardless, the estimations continue to be revised upward:

When asked if authorities really expect to find 25,000 bodies, Bob Johannessen, spokesman for the state Department of Health and Hospitals, said: "We don't know what to expect."

Mayor C. Ray Nagin had earlier said New Orleans' death toll could reach 10,000. Already, a temporary warehouse morgue in rural St. Gabriel that had been prepared to take 1,000 bodies was being readied to handle 5,000. The official death toll in Mississippi climbed to 201 Wednesday, but more than 1,000 are feared dead there, too.

Pretty sobering numbers. I'm not going to talk politics in this particular post. Just please help out however you can. I have a few links for Katrina aid on this page and you may know of other ones that you would rather use. Just use them.

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Patently Patriotic Post of the Day (9/08/05)

The United States Coast Guard is a military, multimission, maritime service and one of the nation’s five Armed Services. Its mission is to protect the public, the environment, and U.S. economic interests – in the nation’s ports and waterways, along the coast, on international waters, or in any maritime region as required to support national security.

Today, the Coast Guard will:

  • Save 15 lives

  • Assist 117 people in distress

  • Conduct 90 search and rescue cases

  • Protect $2.8 million in prop

  • Interdict and rescue 15 illegal migrants at sea

  • Board 4 high interest vessels

  • Board 192 vessels of law enforcement interest

  • Board 122 large vessels for port safety checks

  • Seize 71 pounds of marijuana and 662 pounds of cocaine with a street value of 21.1 million

  • Conduct 317 vessel safety checks and teach 63 boating safety courses

  • Conduct 19 commercial fishing vessel safety exams

  • Respond to 11 oil and hazardous chemical spills

  • Process 280 mariner licenses and documents

  • Service 140 aids to navigation

  • Monitor the transit of 2,557 commercial ships through U.S. ports

  • Investigate 20 vessel casualties involving collisions, allisions and groundings

From United States Coast Guard (USCG)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Nature of the beast

This disturbingly funny NOWAK cartoon gets to the truth of the matter:

While they thought we weren't looking...

The California Legistlature approved a bill today allowing same-sex marriages by a vote of 41-35. This move is the latest by that state to circumvent the will of the California people who in 2000 had voted overwhelmingly to enact Proposition 22. That proposal stated that "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

So much for representation. Story below:

California Legislature Approves Gay Marriage

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Another failing grade

A new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll reveals the average American's opinion about the handling of Hurricane Katrina. Among other things, it serves as a report card for the mainstream media and the moonbats by showing how effective they were in turning the tide against President Bush over the past week and a half. Their grade? A big "F".

Only 13 percent of those polled believe President Bush is "most responsible" for the problems in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, a new poll discloses.

And 35 percent said Bush has done a "great" or "good" job responding to the hurricane and flooding, according to the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

  • 18 percent said federal agencies are "most responsible" for the problems, 25 percent said state and local officials are to blame, and 38 percent think no one is to blame; 6 percent have no opinion.

  • 29 percent said that "top officials in the federal agencies responsible for handling emergencies should be fired"; 63 percent think they shouldn't lose their jobs.

  • 8 percent of those surveyed believe that federal agencies responsible for handling emergencies have done a "great" job responding to the hurricane, while 42 percent said the agencies had done a "bad" or "terrible" job.

  • Similarly, 7 percent said state and local officials in Louisiana have done a "great" job, and 35 percent said their performance has been "bad" or "terrible".

  • More than 9 out of 10 adults polled said the hurricane is the worst natural disaster to strike the U.S. in their lifetime.

  • 56 percent said New Orleans will not recover from the effects of the storm, and 34 percent believe it should not be rebuilt as a major city.

  • 79 percent believe gas companies are taking advantage of the tragedy and charging unfair prices.

The libs saw their chance, they threw everything they had at the President, and nothing stuck. Almost twice as many people blamed the local officials as blamed Bush for the debacle in New Orleans. The 13% who do blame the President are the same 13% who blame him for everything else. As I have said before, these people bring into any situation their own pre-existing bitterness and loathing of the current administration and distribute blame accordingly.

These numbers also demonstrate the effectiveness of the talk-shows, blogs and others in the alternative media in bringing out the pertinent facts that are often ignored elsewhere. It's a whole new arena out there, and the liberal establishment is having to come to terms with the fact that the power and influence it once had is quickly waning.

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You don't say?

The AP brings us this astute observation from the "stating the obvious" dept.:

Hurricane Katrina to Reduce Employment

20 times ought to do it

Shortly after claiming that an investigating judge extracted multiple murder confessions out of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein (amazing how a man's memory improves when he finds himself dangling over one of his own paper-shredders) current Iraqi president Jalal Talabani now says it is time for the man to die:

Saddam Hussein has confessed to ordering executions and should be hanged “20 times”, Jalal Talabani, Iraq’s president, has said.

In an interview on Iraqi television on Tuesday night, Mr Talabani said that investigator who had questioned the former Iraqi president had extracted “important signed confessions” from Mr Hussein.

The former leader had confessed to ordering the ‘Anfal’ - a campaign against Kurdish villages between 1987 and 1989 in which up to 180,000 people were reported to have been killed - Mr Talabani told Iraqia state television.

He added: “Saddam deserves a death sentence 20 times a day because he tried to assassinate me 20 times,” said Mr Talabani, recalling his days as a Kurdish rebel leader.

While the media focuses on soldier and civilian deaths in the Iraqi war, this 180,000 number seldom is brought up anymore. This is the legacy of the man our soldiers pulled out of a rathole in late 2003. Thanks to the U.S. -- and no thanks to the U.N. or the whimpering weenies on the left -- Saddam's day in court has finally arrived.

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Roberts faces a hurricane in upcoming hearings

Democrats in the Senate believe they have found a new weapon to use in the coming Supreme Court battle over John Roberts -- Hurricane Katrina:

WASHINGTON -- Senate Democrats said yesterday that they will invoke the vast disparities in income and living conditions laid bare by the Hurricane Katrina disaster to sharpen their questioning of Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. at his confirmation hearings next week.

The scenes of devastation featuring primarily poor African-American residents in New Orleans have highlighted the widening gap between rich and poor, said Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts.

With Roberts having urged a narrow interpretation of civil rights laws in the past, Senate Democrats will link the scenes of economic hardship with the constitutional and legal issues that surround efforts to address racial and economic inequalities, he said.

No real surprise there. Where there is a tragedy involving water, Ted Kennedy is never far from the scene.

'We have made very important progress over the period of the last 50 years in knocking down walls of discrimination so that people can participate and be a part of a changed America," said Kennedy, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. ''And he's going to be asked to explain some of his advice that would have, I think, undermined that progress in important ways."

Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said he, too, will pursue questions raised by Katrina in the Roberts hearings. In addition, civil rights leaders whom Democrats have called to appear at the hearings said they also intend to refer to the scenes from the hurricane-ravaged region.

I have never seen a political party that thrives so much off of the suffering of others. This strategy approaches the same guttural low as NARAL's recent attempt to link Roberts to the 1998 abortion clinic bombings. It also shows the depths to which democrats and liberals have sunk in their efforts to regain power. Do these Senators not realize that 6 out of 10 Americans are going to be watching these hearings? Keep it up guys -- you're making the other side look great.

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Patently Patriotic Post of the Day (9/07/05)

Henry Ford

Automobile manufacturer Henry Ford was born July 30, 1863, on his family's farm in Dearborn, Michigan. From the time he was a young boy, Ford enjoyed tinkering with machines. Farm work and a job in a Detroit machine shop afforded him ample opportunities to experiment. He later worked as a part-time employee for the Westinghouse Engine Company. By 1896, Ford had constructed his first horseless carriage which he sold in order to finance work on an improved model.

Ford incorporated the Ford Motor Company in 1903, proclaiming, "I will build a car for the great multitude." In October 1908, he did so, offering the Model T for $950. In the Model T's nineteen years of production, its price dipped as low as $280. Nearly 15,500,000 were sold in the United States alone. The Model T heralds the beginning of the Motor Age; the car evolved from luxury item for the well-to-do to essential transportation for the ordinary man.

From inventors.about.com -- Henry Ford

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

U.N. reprimands itself

While the world continues to focus on Katrina, other news is still happening out there. The U.N. investigative body that was funded and appointed by the organization to get to the bottom of the "Oil for Food" scandal -- a group known ironically as the Independent Inquiry Committee -- is set to release it's final report on Wednesday. As expected, Kofi gets a pass:

Annan's failure to properly manage the $64 billion program will be strongly criticized, but there is no new "smoking gun" linking him to an oil-for-food contract awarded to the Swiss company Cotecna that employed his son Kojo, the official said Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the report had not been released.

Were the old smoking guns not enough? The report goes on to concede that corruption did exist -- get ready for this -- "even within the U.N. itself":

"As the years passed, reports spread of waste, inefficiency, and corruption even within the U.N. itself," inquiry chief Paul Volcker, former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, wrote in a draft forward of the report. "Some was rumor and exaggeration, but much -- too much -- of it has turned out to be true."

But fortunately according to Volcker, all this corruption and filth does nothing to change the U.N.'s status as the most precious and important organization ever to grace mankind:

Yet the forward says the United Nations is the only organization in the world with the expertise and authority to handle work like oil-for-food, established in 1996 to help Iraqis suffering under the burden of tough U.N. sanctions imposed after Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

Yes, what would those Iraqis have done without the U.N.?

Typical bureaucratic braggadocio. This whole investigation was a joke from the beginning. Let's get Bolton on the case and get some real results.

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The "fault" line

Here is a funny cartoon offering by Wayne Stayskal. Can't you just see this happening?

A disaster of a plan

Some of the harshest criticism of the Bush administration's handling of the Katrina disaster has come from New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. Well, as CNN reports Mayor Nagin was involved in an informational campaign earlier this summer designed to instruct the city's poor about what to do in the event of an evacuation. The Mayor's message to the poor? "You are on your own".

On July 24, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported that city, state and federal emergency officials were recording video messages as part of a campaign organized by the anti-poverty group Total Community Action.

About 80 percent of New Orleans was flooded last week when levees collapsed in Katrina's wake, trapping thousands of the city's poorest residents. Mayor Ray Nagin has estimated the death toll could reach 10,000 in the city, most of which lies below sea level.

The response by local, state and federal officials was chaotic in the first days following the storm.

Thousands of residents who were unable or unwilling to leave the city were stranded without food or drinkable water for days.

Nagin, who bluntly criticized the feds for their response to the disaster, was among those taking part in the campaign to the poor.

In an interview with the paper, he summarized his message: "You're responsible for your safety, and you should be responsible for the person next to you," he said.

"If you have some room to get that person out of town, the Red Cross will have a space for that person outside the area. We can help you. But we don't have the transportation."

{sigh} Once again...

It was unclear exactly what language he and others used in their taped messages.

The Times-Picayune said other speakers included representatives of the Louisiana State Police and National Weather Service.

The message was to be distributed on DVDs across the city, the newspaper said in the July article. But it was unclear whether any of the city's poorest residents received the message by the time Hurricane Katrina struck last week.

It is also unclear as to why the city assumed the poor would have DVD PLAYERS.

The newspaper also reported that the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority planned to make 64 buses and 10 lift vans available in the event of an emergency. But "whether that means out of town or to local shelters of last resort would depend on emergency planners' decision at that moment," an agency spokeswoman told the paper.

The paper said government officials acknowledged that even that plan would help only a fraction of the city's poor population.

The plan was not followed in the case of Katrina. City and state officials have said no one was sent to poor communities to ensure people knew about mandatory evacuation orders.

One of the central criticisms of government response to Katrina centers on the failure to reach out to the's city large impoverished population and make sure people were aware of mandatory evacuation orders and had the means to flee.

The Bush administration has come under fire for what critics have called a slow federal response to the disaster.

What we have here is a local government that simply dropped the ball. They had years to prepare for this type of disaster but rather than spend their money on rescue and contingency plans, they chose instead to invest in DVD's informing the less-fortunate that they were essentially screwed.

From all appearances, New Orleans and Louisiana have a hands-off type of government that operates under an entitlement mentality. When the going gets tough, the mayor and governor respond by throwing their hands in the air and wondering why nobody is taking care of the situation for them. By contrast, Mississippi and Alabama were able to manage their own affairs quite handily and they did so without whining or assigning blame.

And yes I'm aware that those two states didn't have to deal with flooding and broken levees. But they also didn't have to deal with armed delinquents laying siege to an entire city. That kind of thing only occurs when a corrupt and permissive government conditions a population into believing that whatever they want is theirs for the taking.

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Roberts hearings delayed

From AP:

The Senate will begin confirmation hearings next Monday for John Roberts to be Supreme Court chief justice, one week after President Bush selected him to replace the late William H. Rehnquist as the 17th leader of the nation's highest court, congressional officials said Tuesday.

Roberts was supposed to begin his confirmation as the replacement for the retiring Sandra Day O'Connor on Tuesday, but the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing was canceled after Rehnquist's death and Bush's decision to elevate the 50-year-old Roberts to the top spot.

Congressional officials, both Republican and Democratic, said the hearings would begin the morning of September 12. They spoke on condition of anonymity because an announcement was to be made later.

NOW fuming over Roberts nomination

As you might expect, the libs are fit to be tied over Bush's recent upgrade of John Roberts' nomination from justice to chief justice. Among those "chiefly" offended is the National Organization for Women:

"Now that Roberts' attitudes toward women have been revealed, it is an outrage and an insult to the women of this country that George W. Bush has nominated such a jurist to be Chief Justice of the United States," said National Organization for Women President Kim Gandy in a statement on Monday.

NOW insisted that President Bush must "release every document" from Roberts' previous jobs in the administrations of President Ronald Reagan and the first President Bush.

"How dare Bush nominate this candidate for the top position on the Supreme Court when his administration has deliberately concealed hundreds of thousands of pages of his writings, during a time that he was one of the top lawyers representing the people of the United States?," Gandy asked.

"If the Bush administration refuses to release these papers, we must ask ourselves what they are hiding. And the Senate must ask the same question."

NOW urged the Senate to "ask even tougher questions" of Roberts during his confirmation hearing.

"If Roberts is confirmed as chief justice, Bush will have established right-wing leadership of the Court for another 30 years -- a lifetime legacy of the Bush presidency that women and girls will have a lifetime to regret," Gandy said.

Actually, Bill Clinton did more damage to the cause of women in 8 short years than John Roberts could do in a lifetime. Oh, that's right, he was a democrat.

These folks are such hypocrites.

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They're back... and ready to legislate

Congress has returned from it's recess today. Hopefully they will pass some more laws. Just can't get enough of those:

Congress comes back to a busy agenda

Patently Patriotic Post of the Day (9/06/05)

Need is vast, but so is outpouring
Private donations for hurricane victims may reach a billion dollars.

By Kris Axtman | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
BATON ROUGE, LA. – The Chatmans popped the trunk on their aging Oldsmobile and pulled out garbage bags bursting with baby formula, clothes, shoes, sheets, and food.

The Baton Rouge family didn't know anyone affected by hurricane Katrina. But when they heard a local television station was a designated donation drop-off location, they gathered up all they could and headed into town.

"We have very little, but they have nothing," says Dre Chatman, unloading another bag. "It's people helping people."

The historic storm has left tens of thousands of people in Louisiana and Mississippi without possessions or a place to live.

The entire region - indeed, the nation - has responded in a huge outpouring of support for those affected by Katrina.

The American Red Cross, at press time, has collected $21 million, with nearly $15 million coming from individual donations through its website. Corporate donors have contributed more than 1 million pounds of groceries through food banks. Other corporations are donating everything from trucks to phone cards to bottled water. The US Chamber of Commerce said initial corporate donations to the relief efforts could total more than $100 million. Giving USA in Glenview, Ill., said individual and corporate donations combined could reach $1 billion. Pop stars are already promising to participate in hurricane Katrina telethons.

And every day Americans are showing up at shelters to volunteer and offering their homes to total strangers through Internet postings.

"Everyone has been wanting to help," says Diana Gary, at WAFB Channel 9 in Baton Rouge, where hundreds of people were donating whatever they could spare. "This morning a homeless man brought over a $20 bill he had just been given."

Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana, has become the largest gathering place for hurricane evacuees in the region. Estimates are that the city will double in size before the worst is over. In one Red Cross shelter, the River Center, some 5,000 of the displaced pass the days wondering about their homes while making new friends.

"The people have been so nice," says Elaine Dominio, sitting on a blanket at the shelter. "They have given us everything we need: food, shelter, clothes."

Monday, September 05, 2005

A duck's eye view of the Roberts hearings

Today's Mallard Filmore provides an accurate picture of what to expect in the coming days:

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America's first political hurricane

Chris Ruddy brings us an excellent article explaining why it is wrong to blame Bush for the Katrina aftermath. Here is an excerpt:

This fact -- which needs to be repeated and remembered -- is that in our country, state and local governments have primary responsibility in dealing with local disasters.

The founding fathers devised a federal system of government -- one that has served us remarkably well through great disasters that have befallen America over more than two centuries.

But if we believe the major TV networks, George Bush, FEMA and the Republicans in Congress are all to blame for the current nightmare.

Let's remember that FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, was created only in 1979. It was formed to coordinate and focus federal response to major disasters -- to "assist" local and state governments.

Common sense suggests that local and state governments are best able to prepare and plan for local disasters.

Is a Washington bureaucrat better suited to prepare for an earthquake in San Francisco, a hurricane in Florida, or a terrorist act in New York?

After the Sept. 11 attacks against the World Trade Center, no one suggested that the Bush administration should have been responsible for New York's disaster response or that federal agents should have been involved in the rescue of those trapped in the buildings.

Last year, four major hurricanes slammed into Florida. Governor Jeb Bush led the disaster response and did a remarkable job, with nothing happening like what we have seen in New Orleans.

Ruddy nails it -- while nothing can be done to completely avert a natural disaster, city and state governments can still take a lot of measures to keep the situation from completely unraveling. It takes planning and leadership on the local level first. The feds can then come in to pick up the slack which, incidentally, is how it has always been structured.

What the feds were not expecting -- and any of us who are honest with ourselves will admit that we were not expecting this either -- was for New Orleans to essentially transform into a watery version of Fallujah practically overnight.

Ruddy goes on to quote directly from the official "City of New Orleans Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan". As you are reading this, remember the AP photo showing scores of undeployed city-owned schoolbuses submerged underwater.

The City of New Orleans will utilize all available resources to quickly and safely evacuate threatened areas. Those evacuated will be directed to temporary sheltering and feeding facilities as needed. When specific routes of progress are required, evacuees will be directed to those routes. Special arrangements will be made to evacuate persons unable to transport themselves or who require specific life saving assistance. Additional personnel will be recruited to assist in evacuation procedures as needed. ...

But none of this really matters to the libs. They want Bush to go down and are grasping at everything they can to accomplish that goal. Expect the yipping of the chihuahuas to grow ever louder in the coming weeks as politicians, celebrities and pundits begin calling for hearings and accountability from this administration. Also don't be surprised when some of the same leftist groups that organized the Sheehan protests start whispering in the ears of some of the families of the hurricane victims.

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Sean Penn's rescue bid sinks

I'll just let this one stand on its own:

EFFORTS by Hollywood actor Sean Penn to aid New Orleans victims stranded by Hurricane Katrina foundered badly overnight, when the boat he was piloting to launch a rescue attempt sprang a leak.

Penn had planned to rescue children waylaid by Katrina's flood waters, but apparently forgot to plug a hole in the bottom of the vessel, which began taking water within seconds of its launch.

The actor, known for his political activism, was seen wearing what appeared to be a white flak jacket and frantically bailing water out of the sinking vessel with a red plastic cup.

When the boat's motor failed to start, those aboard were forced to use paddles to propel themselves down the flooded New Orleans street.

Asked what he had hoped to achieve in the waterlogged city, the actor replied: "Whatever I can do to help."

With the boat loaded with members of Penn's entourage, including a personal photographer, one bystander taunted the actor: "How are you going to get any people in that thing?"

Terrorists just crazy about Katrina

Here's something none of us saw coming -- terrorists are now praising the Katrina disaster:

Al Qaeda group in Iraq, which is led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, on Sunday praised in an Internet statement what it said was the "start of the collapse" of the United States after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.

"Congratulations to the Islamic nation, to our sheikh Osama abu Abdullah (Osama bin Laden) and to sheikh Ayman Zawahiri (bin Laden's deputy) for the destruction of America, which is at the forefront of evil. It is the start of its collapse."

{yawn} Can't these guys find some new material?

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Supreme opportunity for Roberts

Even in Democrat circles, John Roberts was said to be a shoo-in for replacing Sandra Day O'Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court. Now with the death of William H. Rehnquist, President Bush wants Roberts to wear the chief justice robe:

WASHINGTON — Moving swiftly, President Bush on Monday nominated John Roberts to succeed William H. Rehnquist as chief justice of the Supreme Court.

The president made the announcement in the Oval Office before leaving for another trip to the hurricane-battered Gulf Coast.

Roberts, who once clerked for Rehnquist, said he would be honored "to succeed a man I deeply respect and admire."

"I am honored and humbled by the confidence the president has shown in me," Roberts said, standing alongside Bush in the Oval Office.

So what do Democrats say of his chances now?

Democrats said Roberts will now be held to a higher standard, although they had found little in his record to suggest they would thwart his nomination as associate justice.

"Now that the president has said he will nominate Judge Roberts as chief justice, the stakes are higher and the Senate's advice and consent responsibility is even more important," Democratic leader Harry Reid said Monday in a statement. "The Senate must be vigilant."

Get your popcorn ready, folks.

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Patently Patriotic Post of the Day (9/05/05)

Labor Day: How it Came About; What it Means

"Labor Day differs in every essential way from the other holidays of the year in any country," said Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor. "All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man's prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor Day...is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation."

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Founder of Labor Day

More than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers.

Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold."

But Peter McGuire's place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.

The First Labor Day

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a "workingmen's holiday" on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

Labor Day Legislation

Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From them developed the movement to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

A Nationwide Holiday

The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take were outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations" of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

The character of the Labor Day celebration has undergone a change in recent years, especially in large industrial centers where mass displays and huge parades have proved a problem. This change, however, is more a shift in emphasis and medium of expression. Labor Day addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics and government officials are given wide coverage in newspapers, radio, and television.

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.

From U.S. Department of Labor website