Saturday, September 17, 2005

The long and wasteful road

With the President's introduction of an ambitious new disaster recovery plan for the Gulf Coast region, politicians and pundits alike are once again talking about our deficit. "Where are we going to find the money?" they ask.

Many are saying that rebuilding the region can't be accomplished without a tax hike. Still others are saying that the existing tax cuts need to be repealed. This, of course, is based on the notion that a crucial source of funding for hurricane aid has been squandered in the "wasteful" act of giving tax money back to the people that earned it.

Well, since we're on the subject of waste, let's look at how our congress is now managing the tax money we give them. One recent example that is fresh on many of our minds is the transportation bill that was passed just last month. This boondoggle allocated some $286 billion ostensibly to improve various facets of the nation's roads and highways. A record 6,371 pet projects were included in this bill by lawmakers looking to spruce up their communities... and their images.

Here is a list of some of the "improvements" we apparently couldn't do without:

  • $200,000 for a deer avoidance system in Weedsport, N.Y.
  • $3 million for dust control on Arkansas rural roads.
  • $200 million for a bridge in Alaska that would serve an island with 50 residents
  • $2.3 million for landscaping along the Ronald Reagan Freeway in California
  • $10 million to Iowa State University for "Portland Cement Concrete Pavement Technology"
  • $1 million to the University of Northern Iowa for building and equipping a "Native Roadside Vegetation Enhancement Center"
  • $500,000 to build riverfront trails in Warsaw, Mo.
  • $1,125,000 for a parking lot and bike paths for the Bozeman, Mont., public library
  • $2 million for improvements at the California Trail Interpretive Center in Nevada
  • $500,000 to build a "Transportation and Heritage Museum" in Townsend, Tenn.
  • $3.5 million to improve the access road to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Box Elder County, Utah
  • $6.5 million to design and build a welcome center in Bennington, Vt.
  • $7 million to the University of Oklahoma for research on tracking shipping containers
  • $1 million to build a transportation center at the Philadelphia Zoo
  • $2 million for interpretive signs and trails in Pittsburgh parks
  • $3 million to repair and restore an outdoor area at 82nd Street and Fifth Avenue in New York City
  • $480,000 to rehabilitate a historic warehouse on the Erie Canal

This bill was passed overwhelmingly by our "deficit-conscious" lawmakers in August. Even the President doesn't get a pass on this one because he should have vetoed it without question. However, this type of out of control spending is not a recent trend -- it has been taking place literally for decades thanks to a congress that grows more fiscally irresponsible every year. That us why it angers me that whenever we find ourselves in in a deficit, the President (if he is a Republican) is always blamed and the only solution that is ever proposed by those on the left is to give the children in congress even more of our hard earned dollars to take to the candy store. That is an insult.

Tax hikes are not the solution. Neither is a repeal of the tax cut needed to address the rebuilding efforts in the gulf -- or any of the other problems this country faces today. The money we need is already there. What is now needed is more accountability from congress on their spending habits as well as a greater faith in the American people themselves. With contributions for Katrina aid now exceeding half a billion, I would argue that we are able to spend our money quite wisely when left to our own devices.

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Patently Patriotic Post of the Day (9/17/05)

The Lincoln Memorial

Although Congress incorporated the Lincoln Monument Association in March 1867 to build a memorial to the slain President, no progress was made until 1901 when the McMillan Commission chose West Potomac Park as the site for the memorial. This decision expanded on the ideas of Pierre L'Enfant who designed the Federal City and envisioned an open mall area from the Capitol to the Potomac River. Congress agreed on a design for the memorial submitted by New York architect Henry Bacon and construction began on February 12, 1914. Daniel Chester French designed the statue and the Piccirilli Brothers of New York carved it. It is 19 feet tall and 19 feet wide and is made of 28 separate blocks of white Georgia marble. Murals, painted by Jules Guerin depicting principles evident in Lincoln's life, are located on the north and south walls of the memorial above inscriptions of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural. Ernest Bairstow carved other sculptured features of the memorial with the assistance of Evelyn Beatrice Longman, French's 19-year-old apprentice. The building is constructed primarily of Colorado Yule marble and Indiana limestone. The 36 columns around the memorial represent the states in the union at the time of Lincoln's death; their names are carved in the frieze directly above. The names of the 48 states in the Union when the memorial was completed in 1922 are carved in the exterior attic walls. A memorial plaque in the plaza commemorates the subsequent admission of Alaska and Hawaii. President Warren G. Harding dedicated the memorial on May 30, 1922. The principal address at the dedication was given by Dr. Robert Moton, president of Tuskegee Institute, and Robert Todd Lincoln, the President's only surviving son, was in attendance.

Friday, September 16, 2005

"Questioning Roberts" cartoon

This one cracks me up!

Cartoon by Timothy Kelly

Remember me, guys?

In a way, I actually feel a little sorry for Cindy Sheehan. Once a person has experienced the energizing rush that comes with sudden fame, many become addicted to it and it is difficult to let go. Now that Katrina has pushed Sheehan's story to the back pages, it is beginning to dawn on her that the media never really loved her after all. She was just just the latest excuse for making the President look bad and her cause has now been replaced. Now in a desperate cry for the attention she has lost, she is attempting to make Katrina her new cause. Drudge has the story:

Celebrity anti-war protester, fresh off inking a lucrative deal with Speaker's Bureau, has demanded at the HUFFINGTON POST and MICHAEL MOORE'S website that the United States military must immediately leave 'occupied' New Orleans.

"I don't care if a human being is black, brown, white, yellow or pink. I don't care if a human being is Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, or pagan. I don't care what flag a person salutes: if a human being is hungry, then it is up to another human being to feed him/her. George Bush needs to stop talking, admit the mistakes of his all around failed administration, pull our troops out of occupied New Orleans and Iraq, and excuse his self from power. The only way America will become more secure is if we have a new administration that cares about Americans even if they don't fall into the top two percent of the wealthiest."

That last remark is right out of the Democrat playbook and this is why the media seldom quoted her during her Crawford vigil. If her decidedly liberal philosophy and radical tone became apparent, the nation would soon realize this was a grieving mom with an agenda. Sheehan undoubtedly has experienced genuine pain over her son's death but her cause goes well beyond Casey -- who by the way is nowhere mentioned in this latest anti-Bush rant.

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The Katrina speech aftermath

In light of what was a rather innovative and encouraging speech by President Bush Thursday night, I thought it might be interesting to bring you some of the MSM headlines from last night and today:

Mr. Big Government (Washington Post)

Disaster Costs to Swell US Deficit (San Francisco Chronicle)

Bush rhetoric evokes other Gulf (Newsday)

Despite Bush's pledge, city has mountain to climb (Chicago Sun-Times)

Bush recovery plan: Spend, then spend some more (DetNews.com)

President Seeks to Revive a Region -- and His Image (Los Angeles Times)

Viewers skeptical of Bush (CNN)

Notice that many of these headlines focus on the cost of Bush's plan. Isn't it interesting that this same president who was so roundly criticized for not digging deep enough into his pockets to help the Asian tsunami victims is now being cast as a big-government spender when it comes to Katrina?

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"Build higher"

The President's speech last night on hurricane Katrina started out as expected. Bush reassured the displaced families that his administration would be there to meet their basic needs as they got back on their feet. He also offered aid and oversight in the rebuilding efforts. It is worth noting that he took the opportunity here to remind the state and local governments that although the feds would be onhand to help, the ball was in their court as far as planning and prevention:

In the rebuilding process, there will be many important decisions and many details to resolve, yet we're moving forward according to some clear principles. The federal government will be fully engaged in the mission, but Governor Barbour, Governor Blanco, Mayor Nagin, and other state and local leaders will have the primary role in planning for their own future. Clearly, communities will need to move decisively to change zoning laws and building codes, in order to avoid a repeat of what we've seen. And in the work of rebuilding, as many jobs as possible should go to the men and women who live in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

The President also addressed the poverty conditions that were exposed in the storm's aftermath -- and offered a new and decidedly conservative message: we don't just want you to rebuild, we want you to build higher:

Our third commitment is this: When communities are rebuilt, they must be even better and stronger than before the storm. Within the Gulf region are some of the most beautiful and historic places in America. As all of us saw on television, there's also some deep, persistent poverty in this region, as well. That poverty has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America. We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action. So let us restore all that we have cherished from yesterday, and let us rise above the legacy of inequality. When the streets are rebuilt, there should be many new businesses, including minority-owned businesses, along those streets. When the houses are rebuilt, more families should own, not rent, those houses. When the regional economy revives, local people should be prepared for the jobs being created.

Americans want the Gulf Coast not just to survive, but to thrive; not just to cope, but to overcome. We want evacuees to come home, for the best of reasons -- because they have a real chance at a better life in a place they love.

When one resident of this city who lost his home was asked by a reporter if he would relocate, he said, "Naw, I will rebuild -- but I will build higher." That is our vision for the future, in this city and beyond: We'll not just rebuild, we'll build higher and better. To meet this goal, I will listen to good ideas from Congress, and state and local officials, and the private sector. I believe we should start with three initiatives that the Congress should pass.

Tonight I propose the creation of a Gulf Opportunity Zone, encompassing the region of the disaster in Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama. Within this zone, we should provide immediate incentives for job-creating investment, tax relief for small businesses, incentives to companies that create jobs, and loans and loan guarantees for small businesses, including minority-owned enterprises, to get them up and running again. It is entrepreneurship that creates jobs and opportunity; it is entrepreneurship that helps break the cycle of poverty; and we will take the side of entrepreneurs as they lead the economic revival of the Gulf region.

This is an ambitious plan to say the least -- and I love it. Although Bush pays lip service here to the typical Democratic thinking behind poverty, the specifics of his plan show that he recognizes the real root cause. And he knows that the solution is not more hand-outs and dependency on government -- it is tax cuts and other incentives that will encourage the community to have a vision. He wants the poor in this region to know that they have the power to climb out of the rut they are in and build a better life for themselves. He also wants them to know that they have the power to kick Ray Nagin and Kathleen Blanco to the curb and realize their full potential as human beings.

Whether this plan will achieve fruition remains to be seen, but I hope that the idea at least begins to catch on. Poverty will always be with us in some form, and by no means should we ignore those who are genuinely in need. But so much of what we call poverty in this country can be overcome with just a change in attitude -- and a resolve not to listen to politicians and opinion makers who would have certain people believe that the cards are stacked against them.

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Patently Patriotic Post of the Day (9/16/05)

He wanted to join the Marines, but he was too short. The paratroopers wouldn't have him either. Reluctantly, he settled on the infantry, enlisting to become nothing less than one of the most-decorated heroes of World War II. He was Audie Murphy, the baby-faced Texas farmboy who became an American Legend.Murphy grew up on a sharecropper's farm in Hunt County, Texas. Left at a very young age to help raise 10 brothers and sisters when his father deserted their mother, Audie was only 16 when his mother died. He watched as his brothers and sisters were doled out to an orphanage or to relatives.

Seeking an escape from that life in 1942, he looked to the Marines.War had just been declared and, like so many other young men, Murphy lied about his age in his attempt to enlist. but it was not his age that kept him out of the Marines; it was his size. Not tall enough to meet the minimum requirements, he tried to enlist in the paratroopers, but again was denied entrance. Despondent, he chose the infantry.

Following basic training Murphy was assigned to the 15th Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division in North Africa preparing to invade Sicily. It was there in 1943 that he first saw combat, proving himself to be a proficient marksman and highly skilled soldier, consistently his performance demonstrated how well he understood the techniques of small-unit action. He landed at Salerno to fight in the Voltuno river campaign and then at Anzio to be part of the Allied force that fought its way to Rome. Throughout these campaigns, Murphy's skills earned him advancements in rank, because many of his superior officers were being transferred, wounded or killed. After the capture of Rome, Murphy earned his first decoration for gallantry.

Shortly thereafter his unit was withdrawn from Italy to train for Operation Anvil-Dragoon, the invasion of southern France. During seven weeks of fighting in that successful campaign, Murphy's division suffered 4,500 casualties, and he became one of the most decorated men in his company. But his biggest test was yet to come.

On Jan. 26, 1945, near the village of Holtzwihr in eastern France, Lt. Murphy's forward positions came under fierce attack by the Germans. Against the onslaught of six Panzer tanks and 250 infantrymen, Murphy ordered his men to fall back to better their defenses. Alone, he mounted an abandoned burning tank destroyer and, with a single machine gun, contested the enemy's advance. Wounded in the leg during the heavy fire, Murphy remained there for nearly an hour, repelling the attack of German soldiers on three side and single-handedly killing 50 of them. His courageous performance stalled the German advance and allowed him to lead his men in the counterattack which ultimately drove the enemy from Holtzwihr. For this Murphy was awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for gallantry in action.

By the war's end, Murphy had become the nation's most-decorated soldier, earning an unparalleled 28 medals, including three from France and one from Belgium. Murphy had been wounded three times during the war, yet, in May 1945, when victory was declared in Europe, he had still not reached his 21st birthday.

From The U.S. Army Military District of Washington

Thursday, September 15, 2005

A disagreeable breakfast

In his first encounter with reporters on American soil, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad showed his solidarity with the Democrats today as he criticized the Bush administration for it's handling of the Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina:

Meeting over breakfast with about a dozen journalists in a Midtown Manhattan hotel conference room, Ahmadinejad blamed the Bush administration's policies for instability in Iraq. A veteran of Iran's war against Iraq, the president described the removal of Saddam Hussein as "necessary," but said the task should have been left to Iraqis.

"It is the occupiers who have responsibility for stability in Iraq," he said, adding later, "The root of the problem is the presence of foreign troops."

Ahmadinejad, who was an obscure provincial politician when he was elected mayor of Tehran in 2003, was the surprise winner in June's presidential elections. His anonymity outside Iran has helped keep alive accusations that he was photographed with American hostages at the U.S. Embassy in 1979, a charge repeated during his visit here and categorically denied by Ahmadinejad over breakfast.

Seeming relaxed in a tan sports jacket and open collar but initially almost timid, Ahmadinejad, 49, opened his session with journalists expressing condolences for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. He said he was puzzled by how the storm received its name. "The letter K," offered CBS News' Mike Wallace, launching a discussion of the idiosyncratic American practice of personifying some of the nation's most destructive natural disasters.

Later, Ahmadinejad returned to the subject of Katrina to poke at the Bush administration's response and perhaps draw lessons about solidarity among Americans. He compared the delivery of aid to victims in the Delta unfavorably with the response to natural disasters in the Islamic Republic.

"When this hurricane occurred, we were all extremely sad," Ahmadinejad said, speaking through a translator. "We thought Americans would act more quickly and help their fellow Americans. We expected more." He added: "During the very first day of the hurricane, people could have brought more and limited the extent of the tragedy."

Why was this buffoon even invited to our country? Is Iran only part of the "Axis of Evil" on certain days if the week? It should come as no surprise that this guy would feel emboldened by the opportunity thrown in his lap and proceed to give us a lecture on everything that is "wrong" with America. Send him home and make him pay his own airfare.

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A hearty conclusion

On the last day of questioning in the John Roberts confirmation hearings, the Democrats seem to have found a favorite new buzzword.... "heart":

Schumer praised Roberts’ quest for modesty and stability, and for being his “a lawyer above all.” But on the con side, he said, “is the question of compassion and humanity.” Kennedy said the law demands a “heart and a head,” else it becomes “a sterile set of rules.” Feinstein was openly impressed by Roberts when she first met him, but later became more skeptical of the nominee after criticism mounted among liberal interest groups and documents from Roberts’ time as a young lawyer in the Reagan and first Bush administrations revealed his conservative bent.

Feinstein set the tone for the Democratic strategy on Wednesday when she expressed concern about “John Roberts the legal automaton.’’

“I don’t really know what I’m going to do,” Feinstein said today. “I had one impression of you when we had our hour in private, and to a great extent, I think I came out of that meeting with a different sense of you.”

The impression she has now, she said, “is of this very cautious, very precise man — young, obviously with staying power.”

Granted, it is a bit irritating to hear these Democratic Senators questioning the heart of someone who by all accounts is a very virtuous man, thereby positioning themselves as models of compassion. But all they are doing here is getting in a few digs for the benefit of the more extreme factions of their base who like to equate Roberts with the Fuhrer. Gotta feed the kooks from time to time.

Another who questioned the heart of Roberts was Senator Dick Durbin. The answer that Roberts gives here is perfect, and should satisfy any lingering doubts about him being the right man for the job:

Durbin asked him if it is “important enough for you to say, in some instances, I will not use my skills as a lawyer because I don’t believe that that is a cause that is consistent with my values and beliefs?”

Roberts replied that he had been asked him privately if he would take the side of the little guy. “You obviously want to give an immediate answer,” Roberts said, “but as you reflect on it, if the Constitution says that the little guy should win, the little guy is going to win in court before me. But if the Constitution says that the big guy should win, well, then the big guy is going to win because my obligation is to the Constitution. That’s the oath. The oath that a judge takes is not that I’ll look out for particular interests. … The oath is: uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States, and that’s what I would do.”

Roberts shows a clear understanding here about the role of a Judge. It is not to stand up for the little guy -- that is activism and has no place in the High Court. But neither is he obliged to show favor to the big guy. His role as a federal Judge is simply to uphold the law and the Constitution.

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Photo of the "crescent"

Someone had asked to see a picture of the "Crescent of Embrace" memorial so I have included it below. For those who would argue that the Islamic reference was not intentional -- try to imagine if the proposed memorial had "unintentionally" depicted a cross or a Star of David:

Roberts' views on privacy, torture, and cinema

Here is a brief recap on yesterday's hearings:

WASHINGTON -- Supreme Court nominee John Roberts carefully picked his way through a second day of questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday as Republicans challenged Democrats to support his all-but-certain confirmation as the nation's 17th chief justice.

''If people can't vote for you, then I doubt that they can vote for any Republican nominee,'' said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

Democrats sounded unswayed.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told Roberts he was ''cutting back a little on what you said yesterday,'' referring to Roberts' earlier statement that the Constitution provides a right to privacy.

Schumer made his charge after Roberts declined to cite any examples of disagreement with the opinions of Justice Clarence Thomas. Thomas has written there is no general right to privacy, a right often viewed as the underpinning of a right to abortion.

''We are rolling the dice with you,'' Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) told Roberts, who turned aside questions about abortion, the right to die, the permissibility of torture and other issues he said may come before the court. AP

Thank you, most gracious Senator Biden. Once again let me pont out that these clowns enjoy the power they have only because our Republican leaders in the Senate buckled under to pressure by not enacting the nuclear option. We will witness the ugly results of their timidity when the next set of hearings to fill the remaining Supreme Court vacancy begin.

And now on a lighter note:

No sidestepping on 'Zhivago'

WASHINGTON -- After two days of intense legal questioning, Supreme Court nominee John Roberts finally addressed a subject most Americans could relate to: His favorite movies are ''Doctor Zhivago'' and ''North by Northwest.''

Frustrated by Roberts' answers, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) suggested on Wednesday that if he dared to ask the nominee his favorite films, he would get a discussion of cinematography and why ''Casablanca'' is considered one of the greatest.

Instead, Roberts answered flat out, bringing laughter from the audience and senators alike.

Understand that Roberts probably didn't actually like "Zhivago". That is one of those movies a man pretends to like in order to please his wife (it is considered a grand gesture of love just to stay awake for the full 197 minutes of that film). "North by Northwest", on the other hand, was a masterpiece and Roberts' good taste in that movie alone is worthy of his confirmation.

Patently Patriotic Post of the Day (9/15/05)

"I remember this one teacher. To me, he was the greatest teacher, a real sage of my time. He had such wisdom. We were all reciting the Pledge Of Allegiance and he walked over. Mr. Lasswell was his name... He said": "I've been listening to you boys and girls recite the Pledge Of Allegiance all semester and it seems as though it is becoming monotonous to you. If I may, may I recite it and try to explain to you the meaning of each word:


Me; an individual; a committee of one.


Dedicate all of my worldly goods to give without self-pity.


My love and my devotion.

To the Flag

Our standard; Old Glory ; a symbol of Freedom; wherever she waves there is respect, because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts, Freedom is everybody's job.

of the United

That means that we have all come together.


Individual communities that have united into forty-eight great states. Forty-eight individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose. All divided with imaginary boundaries, yet united to a common purpose, and that is love for country.

And to the Republic

Republic -- a state in which sovereign power is invested in representatives chosen by the people to govern. And government is the people; and it's from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.

For which it stands
One Nation

One Nation -- meaning, so blessed by God.


Incapable of being divided.

With Liberty

Which is Freedom; the right of power to live one's own life, without threats, fear, or some sort of retaliation.

And Justice

The principle, or quality, of dealing fairly with others.

For All

For All -- which means, boys and girls, it's as much your country as it is mine. And now, boys and girls, let me hear you recite the Pledge of Allegiance:

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands; one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our country, and two words have been added to the Pledge of Allegiance: Under God. Wouldn't it be a pity if someone said that is a prayer, and that would be eliminated from schools, too?"

Red Skelton, The Red Skelton Show, January 14,1969

Audio links:

RealAudio format
MP3 format

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Not a warm embrace for "crescent" memorial

After a public outcry, the California artist who created the crescent-shaped design for a proposed Flight 93 memorial has agreed to rework his idea:

WASHINGTON - The architect of the memorial to a plane downed in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001, said Wednesday he would work to satisfy critics who complained that it honors terrorists with its crescent-shaped design.

Designer Paul Murdoch said he is "somewhat optimistic" that the spirit of the design could be maintained.

"It's a disappointment there is a misinterpretation and a simplistic distortion of this, but if that is a public concern, than that is something we will look to resolve in a way that keeps the essential qualities," Murdoch, 48, of Los Angeles, said in a telephone interview.

Murdoch's design, "Crescent of Embrace," was selected last week during a meeting of the Flight 93 Advisory Commission from five narrowed down from 1,011.

Why did I just know that the designer's response was going to be one of those "I'm sorry you people are so stupid" apologies? The condescending tone of his remarks tells me that he knew exactly what he was doing when he created this piece. Actually the fact that he had the gall to call it "Crescent of Embrace" should have been proof enough.

After watching "The Flight that Fought Back" this past Sunday, my tolerance for this brand of PC drivel is particularly low. The families of the victims of Flight 93 have been through hell and they deserve much better than this -- and better than Paul Murdoch.

Grrrrrrrrrrr. This and the Newdow story is about all I can take out of California today. My "liberal jerk meter" has officially reached the red-zone.

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Unions seek to unite elsewhere

Labor unions are not happy with their current state of affairs. In recent years they have experienced a sharp decline in membership as well as a marked loss of power and relevance in the labor force. CNSNews has been documenting this fallout as yet another union cuts it's ties with one of the nation's more prominent labor organizations:

(CNSNews.com) -- For the fourth time in the past two months, a union has withdrawn from the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in favor of a coalition that seeks to reform the organized labor movement.

UNITE HERE, a union of about 450,000 workers in the apparel and hospitality industry, announced Wednesday that its general executive board has voted unanimously to disaffiliate from the AFL-CIO.

"It is time for the labor movement to make some changes," UNITE HERE General President Bruce Raynor told the Associated Press.

"After two years of internal debate," Raynor added, "we have concluded it is the best course for the labor movement for us to ... strike off in a direction of focusing more on organizing."

Fourth Union Leaves AFL-CIO for Reform Coalition

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New audiotape, same old taunts

According to IC Publications, a new unverified Zarqawi tape has surfaced today:

The Al-Qaeda frontman in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, declared "all-out war" against the Shiites in Iraq, in an audiotape attributed to him and posted on the Internet Wednesday.

Zarqawi, who has a 25 million dollar US price on his head, also urged Sunni Arabs to wake from their slumber, telling them "the war to exterminate Sunnis will never end."

Iraq's most wanted man also challenged Iraqi leaders to leave the highly fortified "Green Zone" in Baghdad where the seat of goverment is located, to challenge the mujahedeen or holy warriors.

Earlier, militants loyal to the Jordanian-born Zarqawi claimed they had carried out a wave of suicide bombings in Baghdad to avenge an offensive by US and Iraqi government troops on the northern rebel town of Tal Afar.

The bombings claimed almost 130 lives, making it the bloodiest day of insurgent attacks in the Iraqi capital since the US-led war of March 2003.

"The conquest of revenge for the Sunni people of Tal Afar has started," Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's Al-Qaeda Organization in the Land of Two Rivers said in the statement, the authenticity of which could not be verified.

As bad as the attacks were today, I am still convinced that these are the cries of a desperate man. Zarqawi will be either dead or in U.S. custody by year's end.

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U.S. District Judge strikes down pledge

Michael Newdow is at it again:

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools was unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that the pledge's reference to one nation "under God" violates school children's right to be "free from a coercive requirement to affirm God." The judge has granted legal standing to two families represented by an atheist who lost his previous battle before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Karlton said he was bound by precedent of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which in 2002 ruled in favor of Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow that the pledge is unconstitutional when recited in public schools.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that the pledge's reference to one nation "under God" violates school children's right to be "free from a coercive requirement to affirm God." The judge has granted legal standing to two families represented by an atheist who lost his previous battle before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Karlton said he was bound by precedent of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which in 2002 ruled in favor of Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow that the pledge is unconstitutional when recited in public schools.

"Imagine every morning if the teachers had the children stand up, place their hands over their hearts, and say, 'We are one nation that denies God exists,"' Newdow said in an interview with AP Radio after the ruling.

"I think that everybody would not be sitting here saying, 'Oh, what harm is that.' They'd be furious. And that's exactly what goes on against atheists. And it shouldn't."

Not all liberals are jerks but some of the biggest jerks I have known have been liberals. We have just witnessed how one such jerk can use an activist court system to make a name for himself.

By the way, I've just decided that Michael Newdow doesn't exist and I intend to go to court to keep him out of our schools. Wish me luck.

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Roberts on eminent domain

In the third day of confirmation hearings, John Roberts has weighed in on the eminent domain issue. Roberts chose not to condemn the recent Supreme Court decision, arguing that the matter was one for congress and the states to decide rather than the courts:

"This body and legislative bodies in the states are protectors of the people's rights," Roberts told the Senate Judiciary Committee on the third day of his confirmation hearings to be the nation's 17th chief justice.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were up in arms earlier this year when a sharply divided Supreme Court ruled on what's known as "eminent domain" in the case of Kelo v. City of New London, Conn. That ruling said cities can take over private land and homes in order to build shopping malls, convention centers or other structures to generate tax revenue. The decision drew a scathing dissent from Justice Sandra Day O'Connor as favoring rich corporations, and Republican lawmakers have blasted it, saying it infringes on states' rights.

Many Americans are now concerned that it had become "much easier for one man's home to become another man's castle," noted Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan.

Congress has been working on legislation that would ban the use of federal funds for any project getting the go-ahead using the Kelo decision. Roberts said that was an "appropriate approach."

"What the court is saying is there is this power," he added. "That leaves the ball in the court of the legislature."

While I have been impressed with Roberts so far, I disagree with him on this. The ball is in the court of the legislature only because SCOTUS dropped it. While capitalism is a wonderful thing, the founding fathers clearly didn't envision a world where commercial developers had the upper hand over private land-owners. It was certainly within in the Supreme Court's authority to make that distinction.

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Patently Patriotic Post of the Day (9/14/05)

“The issues of the world must be met and met squarely. The forces of evil do not disdain preparation, they are always prepared and always preparing... The welfare of America, the cause of civilization will forever require the contribution, of some part of the life, of all our citizens, to the natural, the necessary, and the inevitable demand for the defense of the right and the truth.”

Calvin Coolidge

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Portions of New Orleans to re-open?

Drudge brings us a new development on the New Orleans re-building front:

An upbeat New Orleans mayor announced Tuesday eve that he hoped to reopen 4 neighborhoods, including the city's central business district and the French Quarter, to residents and business owners by the end of the week... Developing...

I'm not sure what to make of the contradictory news coming out of that region. On the one hand it is WONDERFUL to hear that the death toll is going to be a fraction of what was predicted and that the city will likely be functioning much sooner than possible. On the other hand -- 10,000 were said to be dead just a few short days ago and we were told that the city would be uninhabitable for weeks if not months. All of this was then promptly blamed on the Bush administration.

Someone has some splainin' to do.

Getting down and dirty

As John Roberts enters his second day on the Senate hot-seat, he is expected to face tough questioning by Democrats designed to glean information about how he will decide on specific issues. As might be expected, the two sides have differing views on how Roberts should (or should not) respond:

Many Republicans used their allotted 10 minutes apiece to urge the nominee not to answer questions about legal issues that may come before the court.

But Democrats said he must satisfy them that he will safeguard the rights of women, disabled people and minorities in the voting booth and workplace. Some pressed him to recognize a constitutional right to privacy, which underpins the Supreme Court's legalization of abortion.

In other words, Democrats want an activist judge. These are all key Democrat issues and while Roberts undoubtedly respects the rights of all groups cited here, he won't necessarily respect some of the really bad legislation designed to "protect" these groups. As chief justice of the Supreme Court, the only thing that John Roberts will actually be responsible for safeguarding is the Constitution.

It also appears that the much rumored strategy of blaming Roberts for the Katrina aftermath has been officially put into play:

Lawmakers' preoccupation with the hurricane catastrophe pervaded the hearing on filling the first chief justice vacancy in nearly two decades. At least two Democrats tried to weave the storm's devastation into their arguments, saying the disproportionate impact on poor people and ethnic minorities underscores the need for a judiciary sympathetic to the nation's most vulnerable.

"We cannot continue to ignore the injustice, the inequality and the gross disparities that exist in our society," Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, the committee's most senior member, told Roberts. He said Roberts's writings on civil rights suggest there are "real and serious reasons to be deeply concerned" about the direction he would take the court and about "his commitment to equal opportunity. . . . This hearing is John Roberts's job interview with the American people."

You guys should know best. Your policies of welfare and class-warfare are the root cause of most of the problems that exist today in these areas. By the way, even mentioning Katrina in association with Judge Roberts is about as low as a Senator can get. Evidently Mr. Ted has taken upon himself the unthankful role of keeping the MoveOn and DU folks happy.

Stay tuned... more fireworks to come.

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Drum roll please...

We have a new FEMA director:

WASHINGTON - President Bush has tapped a federal official with three decades of firefighting experience and a background in emergency management to be the new face of his administration's response to Hurricane Katrina and future natural disasters.

Bush on Monday said he would name Miami native R. David Paulison as acting director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, replacing Mike Brown. Brown resigned Monday after days of criticism over what some said was a slow and ineffective response to Hurricane Katrina's devastation.

Since December 2001, Paulison has led the U.S. Fire Administration, a division of FEMA and the Homeland Security Department that works to reduce life and economic losses caused by fire.

Paulison led FEMA's emergency preparedness force from 2003-2004.

Before joining the agency, Paulison was chief of the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department, where he oversaw 1,900 personnel and a $200 million operating budget, according to a biography posted on FEMA's Web site. He also oversaw the Dade County Emergency Management Office.

Paulison started as a rescue firefighter, before rising through the ranks to become fire chief. He was among the emergency workers who responded to Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and the crash of ValuJet Flight 592 in the Florida Everglades in 1996. He also is a certified paramedic.

So will this appease the critics on the Democrat side? Not hardly. Brown was an easy target because people on both sides were not pleased with his performance. But now the sharks have tasted blood, and their plan is to gobble as many fish as they can until they reach the big fish.

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Southern California's NBC 4 gives us the reason for yesterday's blackout in Los Angeles. It's safe to say some heads rolled over this one:

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Department of Water and Power officials said an outage Monday afternoon was linked to human error at a receiving station.

Power officials reported outages from the San Fernando Valley to downtown Los Angeles. Workers connected the wrong wires, causing a surge of power that led to shutdowns at three power generating stations, according to officials.

Receiving stations take high-voltage power from generating stations and convert it to lower voltage. It can then be used throughout the city.

Ron Deaton, general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, said the system is designed to shut down when it receives too much power.

"They connected it to another line that was not expecting that much electricity," said Deaton.

Power to DWP customers went out at about 1 p.m.

DWP: Workers Trigger Outage By Connecting Wrong Wires

Patently Patriotic Post of the Day (9/13/05)

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Sept. 12, 2005) – U.S. Army Reserve Master Sgt. Valerie Golowaty was among the thousands who took part in the first “America Supports You Freedom Walk” Sept. 11.

If she and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld have their way, it’ll be the inaugural one of many Freedom Walks to come.

Standing on the stage set up on the JFK Hockey Field next to the World War II Memorial, where the walk finished and from which country music star Clint Black performed a 90-minute concert for the walkers, Rumsfeld addressed the throng who sat on the grass before him.

“This was the first march for freedom,” Rumsfeld said, “Looking at the size of this crowd, I suspect it won’t be the last one.”

“I’m glad to hear that these walks will continue,” Golowaty said after she managed to get a photo taken with the Defense secretary. “I’ll walk again.”

Golowaty, a member of the Army Reserve’s 3409th Military Intelligence Detachment from Gaithersburg, Md., was called to active duty in April 2003 and is now working at the Defense Intelligence Agency, said she participated in the Freedom Walk for a couple of reasons.

“Nothing touched me like what happened on 9-11,” said native New Yorker Golowaty. “I really felt the pain that day.

“I’m also doing this for my fellow Soldiers,” she said, “especially for the ones overseas. They’re in harm’s way now. My heart also goes out to their families.”

On a day full of memories, the secretary of Defense had memories of his own. In his remarks, Rumsfeld – who had walked in today’s march – said that the last time he walked across Memorial Bridge was as a congressman in November 1963, going to Arlington National Cemetery in President John F. Kennedy’s funeral procession.

“Walking the other way today, I couldn’t help thinking of that,” he said. He went on to express his appreciation for those who took part in today’s walk.

“Thank you for your wonderful support of all our men and women serving nobly everywhere,” Rumsfeld said. “Thank you for your support of freedom.”

More than 15,000 people registered online to take part in the walk. The approximately two-mile route started at the Pentagon, went to Arlington National Cemetery, made a sharp turn across Memorial Bridge, went around the Lincoln Memorial and ended beside the Reflecting Pool.

Like the day four years ago, Sunday in Washington was beautiful, with temperatures in the low 80s and a clear blue sky overhead.

The marchers included members of all of the Armed Forces and family members, civilian employees of the military and people with no ties to the military, small children and senior citizens with canes. There were those who had been in the Pentagon four years ago and others who had lost loved ones there. Many were veterans of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of those were in wheelchairs or walked on artificial limbs.

As explained on the America Supports You website ( www.americasupportsyou.mil), the intent of the Freedom Walk was to remember the victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks on America, to support American men and women in uniform, past and present, and to commemorate freedom.

From the comments by the walkers, these goals were met, to include some up-close examples of exercising the freedom guaranteed by the first amendment to the Constitution – the right to peacefully protest.

There were demonstrators along parts of the parade route. Most walkers ignored them or read their signs without comment. Some did their own impromptu, verbal counter-protests back at the protesters.

One Soldier gave his son an impromptu civics lessons as they passed by one small protest group.

“Do you know why they can protest like that? Because of people like us who fight for their rights.”

From Soldiers Online

Monday, September 12, 2005

Roberts speaks

Below is the full text of today's opening statement to the Judiciary Committee by Judge John Roberts:

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, Senator Leahy, and members of the committee.

Let me begin by thank Senators Lugar and Warner and Bayh for their warm and generous introductions. And let me reiterate my thanks to the president for nominating me.

I'm humbled by his confidence and, if confirmed, I will do everything I can to be worthy of the high trust he has placed in me.

Let me also thank you, Mr. Chairman, and the members of the committee for the many courtesies you've extended to me and my family over the past eight weeks.

I'm particularly grateful that members have been so accommodating in meeting with me personally. I have found those meetings very useful in better understanding the concerns of the committee as the committee undertakes its constitutional responsibility of advice and consent.

I know that I would not be here today were it not for the sacrifices and help over the years of my family, who you met earlier today, friends, mentors, teachers and colleagues -- many of whom are here today.

Last week one of those mentors and friends, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, was laid to rest. I talked last week with the nurses who helped care for him over the past year, and I was glad to hear from them that he was not a particularly good patient.

He chafed at the limitations they tried to impose.

His dedication to duty over the past year was an inspiration to me and, I know, to many others.

I will miss him.

My personal appreciation that I owe a great debt to others reinforces my view that a certain humility should characterize the judicial role.

Judges and justices are servants of the law, not the other way around. Judges are like umpires. Umpires don't make the rules; they apply them.

The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules.

But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ball game to see the umpire.

Judges have to have the humility to recognize that they operate within a system of precedent, shaped by other judges equally striving to live up to the judicial oath.

And judges have to have the modesty to be open in the decisional process to the considered views of their colleagues on the bench.

Mr. Chairman, when I worked in the Department of Justice, in the office of the solicitor general, it was my job to argue cases for the United States before the Supreme court.

I always found it very moving to stand before the justices and say, I speak for my country.

But it was after I left the department and began arguing cases against the United States that I fully appreciated the importance of the Supreme Court and our constitutional system.

Here was the United States, the most powerful entity in the world, aligned against my client. And, yet, all I had to do was convince the court that I was right on the law and the government was wrong and all that power and might would recede in deference to the rule of law.

That is a remarkable thing.

It is what we mean when we say that we are a government of laws and not of men. It is that rule of law that protects the rights and liberties of all Americans. It is the envy of the world. Because without the rule of law, any rights are meaningless.

President Ronald Reagan used to speak of the Soviet constitution, and he noted that it purported to grant wonderful rights of all sorts to people. But those rights were empty promises, because that system did not have an independent judiciary to uphold the rule of law and enforce those rights. We do, because of the wisdom of our founders and the sacrifices of our heroes over the generations to make their vision a reality.

Mr. Chairman, I come before the committee with no agenda.

I have no platform.

Judges are not politicians who can promise to do certain things in exchange for votes.

I have no agenda, but I do have a commitment. If I am confirmed, I will confront every case with an open mind. I will fully and fairly analyze the legal arguments that are presented. I will be open to the considered views of my colleagues on the bench. And I will decide every case based on the record, according to the rule of law, without fear or favor, to the best of my ability. And I will remember that it's my job to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat.

Senators Lugar and Bayh talked of my boyhood back home in Indiana. I think all of us retain, from the days of our youth, certain enduring images. For me those images are of the endless fields of Indiana, stretching to the horizon, punctuated only by an isolated silo or a barn. And as I grew older, those endless fields came to represent for me the limitless possibilities of our great land.

Growing up, I never imagined that I would be here, in this historic room, nominated to be the chief justice. But now that I am here, I recall those endless fields with their promise of infinite possibilities, and that memory inspires in me a very profound commitment.

If I am confirmed, I will be vigilant to protect the independence and integrity of the Supreme Court, and I will work to ensure that it upholds the rule of law and safeguards those liberties that make this land one of endless possibilities for all Americans.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you, members of the committee.

I look forward to your questions.

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Today's cartoon

Timothy Kelly aptly illustrates the blame game:

A speedy response?

Post-Gazette writer Jack Kelly pens an excellent article detailing how the federal response to Hurricane Katrina was faster than that of previous storms:

It is settled wisdom among journalists that the federal response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina was unconscionably slow.

"Mr. Bush's performance last week will rank as one of the worst ever during a dire national emergency," wrote New York Times columnist Bob Herbert in a somewhat more strident expression of the conventional wisdom.

But the conventional wisdom is the opposite of the truth.

Jason van Steenwyk is a Florida Army National Guardsman who has been mobilized six times for hurricane relief. He notes that:

"The federal government pretty much met its standard time lines, but the volume of support provided during the 72-96 hour was unprecedented. The federal response here was faster than Hugo, faster than Andrew, faster than Iniki, faster than Francine and Jeanne."

For instance, it took five days for National Guard troops to arrive in strength on the scene in Homestead, Fla. after Hurricane Andrew hit in 2002. But after Katrina, there was a significant National Guard presence in the afflicted region in three.

Journalists who are long on opinions and short on knowledge have no idea what is involved in moving hundreds of tons of relief supplies into an area the size of England in which power lines are down, telecommunications are out, no gasoline is available, bridges are damaged, roads and airports are covered with debris, and apparently have little interest in finding out.

So they libel as a "national disgrace" the most monumental and successful disaster relief operation in world history.

I write this column a week and a day after the main levee protecting New Orleans breached. In the course of that week:

  • More than 32,000 people have been rescued, many plucked from rooftops by Coast Guard helicopters.

  • The Army Corps of Engineers has all but repaired the breaches and begun pumping water out of New Orleans.

  • Shelter, food and medical care have been provided to more than 180,000 refugees.

Journalists complain that it took a whole week to do this. A former Air Force logistics officer had some words of advice for us in the Fourth Estate on his blog, Moltenthought:

"We do not yet have teleporter or replicator technology like you saw on 'Star Trek' in college between hookah hits and waiting to pick up your worthless communications degree while the grown-ups actually engaged in the recovery effort were studying engineering.

"The United States military can wipe out the Taliban and the Iraqi Republican Guard far more swiftly than they can bring 3 million Swanson dinners to an underwater city through an area the size of Great Britain which has no power, no working ports or airports, and a devastated and impassable road network.

"You cannot speed recovery and relief efforts up by prepositioning assets (in the affected areas) since the assets are endangered by the very storm which destroyed the region.

"No amount of yelling, crying and mustering of moral indignation will change any of the facts above."

"You cannot just snap your fingers and make the military appear somewhere," van Steenwyk said.

Guardsmen need to receive mobilization orders; report to their armories; draw equipment; receive orders and convoy to the disaster area. Guardsmen driving down from Pennsylvania or Navy ships sailing from Norfolk can't be on the scene immediately.

Relief efforts must be planned. Other than prepositioning supplies near the area likely to be afflicted (which was done quite efficiently), this cannot be done until the hurricane has struck and a damage assessment can be made. There must be a route reconnaissance to determine if roads are open, and bridges along the way can bear the weight of heavily laden trucks.

And federal troops and Guardsmen from other states cannot be sent to a disaster area until their presence has been requested by the governors of the afflicted states.

Exhibit A on the bill of indictment of federal sluggishness is that it took four days before most people were evacuated from the Louisiana Superdome.

The levee broke Tuesday morning. Buses had to be rounded up and driven from Houston to New Orleans across debris-strewn roads. The first ones arrived Wednesday evening. That seems pretty fast to me.

A better question -- which few journalists ask -- is why weren't the roughly 2,000 municipal and school buses in New Orleans utilized to take people out of the city before Katrina struck?

Good question. Furthermore, as the Washington Times reported on Sept. 7, Bush could have acted even sooner (try before the storm hit) had Governor Kathleen Blanco not dragged her feet:

New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin told CNN's "American Morning" Monday that he met with Mr. Bush and Mrs. Blanco on Air Force One on Friday and implored the two to "get in sync."
"If you don't get in sync, more people are going to die," Mr. Nagin said.
Mr. Bush met privately first with Mrs. Blanco, then called Mr. Nagin in for a meeting.
"He called me in that office," Mr. Nagin said. "And he said, 'Mr. Mayor, I offered two options to the governor.' I was ready to move. The governor said she needed 24 hours to make a decision."

That decision was a request by Mr. Bush to allow the federal government to take over the evacuation of New Orleans, which had been marked by chaos for days. The Democratic governor, who has clashed behind the scenes with the Bush administration since the storm hit, refused.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan confirmed the Air Force One meeting with Mrs. Blanco and the governor's decision not to cede her authority over the Louisiana National Guard, but added that he didn't think "it helps any situation to get into all those internal discussions."

"This isn't a time when people are trying to look at who's to blame or try to shift responsibility," Mr. McClellan said. "This is a time when we're all trying to work together to get things done."

Mr. Bush, at the request of Mrs. Blanco, declared the entire state of Louisiana a disaster area 48 hours before the hurricane made landfall. He also asked Mrs. Blanco to order a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans on Aug. 27 -- two days before the hurricane hit -- but she did not make the order until Aug. 28.

If Republicans can muster up enough courage, some of this information might just make it into the inevitable hearings that will be conducted. Let's not hold our breath though.

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Do we need his kind of help?

Actor Sean Penn roams the watery streets of New Orleans with... a shotgun. Where would this world be without celebrities?

Brown falls on sword

In a not-so-surprising development, FEMA director Michael Brown has resigned:

Federal Emergency Management Agency director Mike Brown said Monday he has resigned "in the best interest of the agency and best interest of the president," three days after losing his on-site command of the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

"The focus has got to be on FEMA, what the people are trying to do down there," Brown told The Associated Press.

His decision was not a surprise. Brown was abruptly recalled to Washington on Friday, a clear vote of no confidence from his superiors at the White House and the Department of Homeland Security. Brown had been roundly criticized for FEMA's bearish response to the hurricane, which has caused political problem for Bush and fellow Republicans.

"I'm turning in my resignation today," Brown said. "I think it's in the best interest of the agency and the best interest of the president to do that and get the media focused on the good things that are going on, instead of me."

Brown, who said he last talked to Bush five or six days ago, said the resignation was his idea. He spoke on Saturday to White House chief of staff Andy Card, who did not request his departure, according to Brown.

He said he feared he was becoming a distraction to FEMA's relief effort.

"I came to the conclusion that this was in the best interest of not just the administration and not just me, but FEMA," he said. "They need to be focused on the continuing efforts in the Gulf."

Shortly after Brown was recalled to Washington last week, officials close to the FEMA director said he would likely resign. They said that even before Katrina, Brown had been planning on leaving the administration late this fall to go into the private sector.

Your turn now, Ray.

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The bus stops here

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has addressed the problem of the schoolbuses on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday. I won't comment on this one other than to say... once again... Giuliani he is not:

Nagin said that as the storm approached, he might have had the buses to move people out of the city, but he did not have the drivers. Instead, he urged residents to gather at the Superdome.

"My biggest mistake is having a fundamental assumption that in the state of Louisiana, with an $18 billion budget, in the country of the United States that can move whole fleets of aircraft carriers across the globe in 24 hours, that my fundamental assumption was get as many people to safety as possible, and that the cavalry would be coming within two to three days, and they didn't come," Nagin said.

Nagin did not directly criticize President Bush. He said Bush responded every time they met face to face, but he suggested racism contributed to the delayed federal response.

"I will just tell you this, that I think the imagery that came out across the nation portrayed that this was primarily poor black people that were affected," Nagin said.

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Let the show begin

The much awaited John Roberts hearings are set to begin today:

WASHINGTON — John G. Roberts on Monday will be peppered by the Senate Judiciary Committee with questions on everything from abortion, separation of church and state, civil rights and the death penalty.

But barring any surprises, most on Capitol Hill expect the 50-year-old will ultimately win confirmation to be the nation's 17th chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The proceedings, which begin on Monday at noon in the same Senate hearing room in which the Watergate hearings took place, will delve into all facets of Roberts' judicial and legal background. The hearings are expected to last four to five days.

Although the official word is that the nomination will sail through, don't be surprised if the process hits a few snags. Close attention will be paid to the wording of his answers, particularly on the issue of non-enumerated rights. As specified in the 9th amendment: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people". A controversial interpretation of this clause played a pivotal role in the Supreme Court's determination of a "right to privacy" in the Roe v. Wade decision.

Basically, if Roberts is able to handle this issue with diplomacy, he gets confirmed. But if he makes even one slip, rest assured that a public Borking will soon follow -- and it won't be pretty.

The hearings are scheduled to kick-off at noon EDT. However...

Hearings will begin with opening statements from all 18 members of the committee; each statement will be as long as 10 minutes. Roberts will then introduced in three five-minute speeches. After three hours and 15 minutes of speechifying, Roberts will finally deliver his opening statement.

In other words, set your TIVO for about 3:15 pm.

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Patently Patriotic Post of the Day (9/12/05)

United States Constitution: Bill of Rights

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

A thread re-visited

Below is a link to the original Free Republic thread about the Sept. 11 attacks as the events were happening in real-time. It is a chilling reflection of the thoughts that went through the heads of many of us as we watched the surreal scene play out that morning:

World Trade Center

Editorial cartoons about Sept. 11

Headlines after Sept. 11 attacks

Patently Patriotic Post of the Day (9/11/05)

President George W. Bush speaks at a prayer service in the Washington Cathedral on 9/14/2001:
We are here in the middle hour of our grief. So many have suffered so great a loss, and today we express our nation's sorrow. We come before God to pray for the missing and the dead, and for those who loved them.

On Tuesday, our country was attacked with deliberate and massive cruelty. We have seen the images of fire and ashes and bent steel.

Now come the names, the list of casualties we are only beginning. They are the names of men and women who began their day at a desk or in an airport, busy with life. They are the names of people who faced death and in their last moments called home to say, be brave and I love you.

They are the names of passengers who defied their murderers and prevented the murder of others on the ground. They are the names of men and women who wore the uniform of the United States and died at their posts.

They are the names of rescuers -- the ones whom death found running up the stairs and into the fires to help others. We will read all these names. We will linger over them and learn their stories, and many Americans will weep.

To the children and parents and spouses and families and friends of the lost, we offer the deepest sympathy of the nation. And I assure you, you are not alone.

Just three days removed from these events, Americans do not yet have the distance of history, but our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil.

War has been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder.

This nation is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger. This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others; it will end in a way and at an hour of our choosing.

Our purpose as a nation is firm, yet our wounds as a people are recent and unhealed and lead us to pray. In many of our prayers this week, there's a searching and an honesty. At St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, on Tuesday, a woman said, "I pray to God to give us a sign that he's still here."

Others have prayed for the same, searching hospital to hospital, carrying pictures of those still missing.

God's signs are not always the ones we look for. We learn in tragedy that his purposes are not always our own, yet the prayers of private suffering, whether in our homes or in this great cathedral are known and heard and understood.

There are prayers that help us last through the day or endure the night. There are prayers of friends and strangers that give us strength for the journey, and there are prayers that yield our will to a will greater than our own.

This world He created is of moral design. Grief and tragedy and hatred are only for a time. Goodness, remembrance and love have no end, and the Lord of life holds all who die and all who mourn.

It is said that adversity introduces us to ourselves.

This is true of a nation as well. In this trial, we have been reminded and the world has seen that our fellow Americans are generous and kind, resourceful and brave.

We see our national character in rescuers working past exhaustion, in long lines of blood donors, in thousands of citizens who have asked to work and serve in any way possible. And we have seen our national character in eloquent acts of sacrifice. Inside the World Trade Center, one man who could have saved himself stayed until the end and at the side of his quadriplegic friend. A beloved priest died giving the last rites to a firefighter. Two office workers, finding a disabled stranger, carried her down 68 floors to safety.

A group of men drove through the night from Dallas to Washington to bring skin grafts for burned victims. In these acts and many others, Americans showed a deep commitment to one another and in an abiding love for our country.

Today, we feel what Franklin Roosevelt called, "the warm courage of national unity." This is a unity of every faith and every background. This has joined together political parties and both houses of Congress. It is evident in services of prayer and candlelight vigils and American flags, which are displayed in pride and waved in defiance. Our unity is a kinship of grief and a steadfast resolve to prevail against our enemies. And this unity against terror is now extending across the world.

America is a nation full of good fortune, with so much to be grateful for, but we are not spared from suffering. In every generation, the world has produced enemies of human freedom. They have attacked America because we are freedom's home and defender, and the commitment of our fathers is now the calling of our time.

On this national day of prayer and remembrance, we ask almighty God to watch over our nation and grant us patience and resolve in all that is to come. We pray that He will comfort and console those who now walk in sorrow. We thank Him for each life we now must mourn, and the promise of a life to come.

As we've been assured, neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities, nor powers nor things present nor things to come nor height nor depth can separate us from God's love.

May He bless the souls of the departed. May He comfort our own. And may He always guide our country.

God bless America.