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Katrina Bailout: $200 Billion in Perspective

The National Center's Ryan Balis says:

213 Republicans already approved, and President Bush signed into law, a $51.8 billion hurricane "response" package. Now the President is proclaiming the American taxpayer should fund what could top $200 billion as an installment payment on an FDR-style laundry list of government 'visionary' creations.

Let's pause for a moment and reflect upon this fact: $200 billion is roughly ten percent of Britain's GDP in 2004.

I recall that the original Louisiana Purchase cost $15 million. According to the Inflation Calculator, after adjusting for inflation, that $15 million would be nearly $193 million today -- still a good bit less than $200 billion.

Was Thomas Jefferson simply a better negotiator than George Bush? Or is our nation being a tad less careful with its tax revenues these days?


Bush's Hurricane Speech

After you've finished emptying your wallet, selling the family silver, emptying your kids' college funds and selling everything of value in your home to pay the taxes necessary to pay the bill for what the White House is proposing to put millions of people back below sea level, where they'll be especially vulnerable to the next hurricane, read the Heritage Foundation paper From Tragedy to Triumph: Principled Solutions for Rebuilding Lives and Communities.

Heritage remains aware that there is such a thing as self-reliance and, in theory at least, limited government. Bush used to be aware of the same.

I guess he 'grew' in office.

Addendum: Here's the AP's take:

WASHINGTON - The era of big government is back. President Bush is presiding over the most expensive government relief and reconstruction operation in U.S. history.

With estimates of the federal tab ranging up to $200 billion or more for rebuilding New Orleans and other storm-ravaged Gulf Coast cities, Bush and his Republican allies in Congress are casting aside budget discipline.

They're also deferring - for now - vows to finish the Reagan revolution against big government and turning to some of the same kinds of public health, housing and job assistance programs they once criticized as legacies of the Democrats' New Deal and Great Society.

Bush called the project "one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen" in his Thursday evening address to the nation from New Orleans...

Addendum 2: JunkYardBlog notes the mayor of New Orleans likes moolah from federal taxpayers, but doesn't want our opinions.


The Book on John Roberts

Next time, let's tell them the briefing book is in the study, with Colonel Mustard.


Pledge of Allegiance Ruling to the Left of the Ultra-Left

Even ultra-liberal Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, the man who wrote the infamously activist decision in Roe v.Wade, would have called yesterday's court ruling on the Pledge of Allegiance "out of the mainstream."

To see why I say so, read the Brennan quotes in this Project 21 press release.


Biden v. Roberts clips are available right now on the Senate Republican Conference website.

Barbara Ledeen recommends the clip (under the picture of John Roberts as of 5:45 Eastern Sept. 14) of Judge Roberts explaining the role of the judiciary to Senator Joe Biden (D-DE). She also sent along a transcript of what is on the clip:

BIDEN (to Judge Roberts): "You've told me nothing with all due respect. As if the public is not entitled to an answer. None of us here in the Senate would ever be elected without answering such questions."

ROBERTS (responding to Sen. Biden): You make the point that [Senators] stand for election and [they] wouldn't be elected [if] we didn't tell people what we stand for. Judges don't stand for election. I'm not standing for election. And it is contrary to the role of judges in our society to say that this judge should go on the bench because these are his or her positions and those are the positions they're going to apply. Judges go on the bench and they apply and decide cases according to the judicial process, not on the basis of promises made earlier to get elected or promises made earlier to get confirmed. That's inconsistent with the independence and integrity of the Supreme Court.

Here's another Biden-Roberts exchange, from earlier in Biden's questioning:
BIDEN: I promise I won't interrupt if you give short answers....

Minutes later...

BIDEN: If I may interrupt...

ROBERTS: Well, and -

BIDEN [interrupting again]: Do you side more...
Another Biden quote, this time from 12 years ago, when Justice Ruth Ginsburg was facing her own confirmation and questioning from Senator Biden:
"[Y]ou not only have a right to choose what you will answer and not answer, but in my view you should not answer a question of what your view will be on an issue that clearly is going to come before the court in 50 different forms, probably, over the next - over your tenure on the court." (quote provided by the Republican National Committee, citing the Committee On The Judiciary, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 7/22/93)


Endangered Species Act: Fix It, Don't Fix it

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer caps off a silly editorial about Rep. Richard Pombo's plans to strengthen/weaken (depending on whom you ask) the Endangered Species Act with this concluding paragraph:

As critics point out, the [Endangered Species] act hasn't restored many threatened species to robust health. If consensus can be found, it's possible that Congress could craft better ways of restoring endangered species. But the starting point must be to prevent extinction. On that basic responsibility, Congress must not mess with the Endangered Species Act's great success.
In other words, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer simultaneously believes the following:
  • The Endangered Species Act is not working very well.
  • Congress may be able to craft an Endangered Species Act that would do a better job.
  • The Endangered Species Act is a great success.
  • Congress should not mess with the Endangered Species Act.
  • Make up your minds, folks.


    Shame in Gaza

    Palestinians loot and burn synagogues on a day Palestinian "leader" Mahmoud Abbas calls "a day of happiness and joy that the Palestinian people have not witnessed for a century."

    In this London Times article, someone named Abu Eliyan excuses the destruction, claiming (as far as is reported, with a straight face) that the looters "are not stealing. They are not robbers. They are just very poor. These people were impoverished by the Israelis and they are scarcely at subsistence level. Those you see here do this because they want to live, by fair means or foul."

    What garbage. No one ever filled an empty stomach by setting fire to a synagogue.

    Addendum: Joel Rosenberg has more.


    Tell It to Anne Rice

    From Texican Tattler:

    I heard a radio interview over the weekend with one of the evacuees in Houston, bitching that the $2000 debit card he received from FEMA wasn't enough, he needed at least $10,000 to feed his family. I had to wonder just how much the Astrodome was charging people to eat?


    Katrina Rescues: The Military's Work Continues

    Joe Roche has shared more emails about his wife, Lili, who is conducting hurricane rescue work as part of her service with the Washington D.C. National Guard. She is based at Naval Air Station New Orleans.

    Before I share the (edited) e-mails, a link: Lili's unit was the focus of a Washington Times story today.

    And now for the e-mails, written by Joe, based on the phone calls he is receiving from Lili:

    September 11

    ...Lili sounds great. She was visited by a reporter for the Washington Times today.

    In addition to other search and rescue and transport missions, she took calls and coordinates of dogs being sighted in the city. Some dogs are rabid, and that is now a concern while they are also trying to pick up and rescue the pets. There are still some parts that have flooding, and pets there are still on rooftops in those areas...

    She said there is a big search for more space on the base, and that people are jealous of her office space. She has it good. Nonetheless, she told me she wants to do more missions in the city...

    After yesterday's mishaps, things got under control again today. Everyone is sleeping when they are supposed to, and getting more of it. So safety has returned.

    That is all. Have a good week.

    September 10

    Much better sounding today. Perhaps the comforts of the base are mitigating the stresses.

    Lili said it is wild to see all the people setting up and the huge operations going on. She saw foreign supporting soldiers, rescue workers and aid groups. She saw some from Luxemburg, some from Israel, and some from Germany.

    There is also a massive quad in the base with perhaps around 50 large tents, set up as temporary shelter bays, housing a huge number of contractors and workers of all types. These being civilian types.

    There are also large numbers of various Search & Rescue units setting up.

    Her descriptions really reminded me of what it was like at Baghdad International Airport when during the first year under the 1st Armored Division, it was like one massive operations enterprise. That is what it sounds like is happening at Naval Air Station New Orleans. Not just military, but also every type of rescue outfit from all over the country, huge numbers of diverse civilian contractors, and also the foreign groups. She described long and big set-ups of volunteer campers and trailers.

    Clearly, it is all starting to fall into place there. A huge, massive, gargantuan enterprise is being set up that is going to really do some incredible stuff over the coming weeks and months.

    Contrary to the earlier report that the Air Force had abandoned the place, she said there are now big operations and set-ups from all of the military services there. This includes the Navy, Marines, Air Force, Army, Coast Guard.

    She saw one of those massive giant C-5 Starlifter planes land. It is the fourth largest plane in the world. I remember seeing them at our air base in Germany -- they completely dwarf C-130s!

    The dining facility (DFAC) on base is very nice, but she doesn't get there much because it is a long way from where she is, and because of the many different military branches there, it makes it a bit uncomfortable walking around too much. Everyone likes to bark out orders.

    She has an office now. It was set up and opened today. It is very nice. People of all sorts of government agencies often pop in to talk to her. She has AC and nice window views of the whole flight line. There are many such operations centers popping up, so it is going to be huge.

    She said that the bureaucracy now getting established is really complicated. At first, this is always the case. She said that it was very hard all day to keep track of who was who, what needed to go where, how to do what, and when to do this and that. ...Wow!

    She said that it impresses her that a huge operation is being established that is going to go on for a long time. "It is all falling into place."

    The heat returned today. This must be making it much harder for the search, rescue and patrolling units in the city. However, Lili lucked out because she worked in her AC'd office.

    Her job is pretty much the heart of her unit's flight operations throughout New Orleans. She takes the calls for missions, and then calls out to get the crews, pilots and mechanics together to get the mission going. She is the key to it all happening -- that is her job. They are doing search-and-rescue missions, transporting patients and moving evacuees around/out.

    She said that fatigue is starting to show with some of the pilots. Nothing bad happened with her unit, but other units had some mishaps. One, which she said is probably on TV (I haven't seen it) was when a helicopter carrying a slingloaded water bladder hit a powerline with it, knocking it down and losing the load with water splashing everywhere. There was also a blade strike. And more worrying, there was a "precautionary landing," which means a potentially serious mechanical failure sometimes leading to a crash. The helicopter nearly had to land in the water. In the end, it landed alright and nothing bad happened. All told, though, there were no injuries and nothing serious resulted from these mishaps. She said the point is, though, that it shows there is a lot of fatigue and weariness being felt by the overworked crews and pilots.

    She also said that the water is being pumped out of the city very well, at an incredible rate. However, the effect on Lake Pontchatrain is probably very bad. She said she saw it flowing into the lake as a "clearly defined thick black" pool of stuff.

    I think it may help that today the outline of a huge massive organization is starting to take shape. Structure in such a place stricken by anarchy and chaos might be a comfort. I don't know. She did sound good, spirits lifted, and determined to keep carrying on.

    That is all.

    September 9

    She sounded drained, sad, maybe a little depressed. I asked her about it, and it appears that this is being felt all around now. It may be because of the missions, the constant sights, and the smell. I can tell you that in my unit, we are told that for a full-on/full-mass rescue mission, one week is about the total amount of time. Here is what she said about the day today...

    She flew a mission with reporters. One was a video journalist and the other was a New Orleans Times-Picayune journalist. They had them fly to the worst hit areas where they are doing missions, over the broken levees, and a number of other significant sights.

    She also flew other missions. She said that her unit is flying "anything" that comes up for missions. Sometimes it is rescue, sometimes it is transporting something, sometimes it is taking VIPs around. They never know.

    The constant sights of "total destruction," however, are making everyone (her fellow soldiers) feel down and maybe a bit depressed. She said that it is "overwhelming to see the total destruction" and that it "isn't like any movie you have seen, except perhaps some weird sci-fi flick."

    She saw unexpected random things that throw you a bit. For example, there was a horse standing lost and clearly dazed in a street intersection. Another one later on was eating what was obviously bad and contaminated stuff. There are animals starving to death on rooftops. And while it is hard to make out human bodies in the water because of all the sludge and debris, when they lower, you can see a few at a time.

    The smell is really messing them up. It is all over everything, "you smell New Orleans on everything, all night long." She said, "you can't wash it out."

    The water has dropped in much of the city. Some areas have had up to 20 feet of flooding recede. What is left, though, is not nice to see: "Everything is covered with this grey mud that stinks really bad." There are houses with rings around them from where the grey mud just piled up from the flooding. Some only had the very top tips of the roofs over the water.

    At collection points where previously there had been hundreds and thousands of evacuees, "there are piles and piles of peoples luggage, purses, bags and personal stuff." All that had to be left behind, is now just sitting there abandoned.

    She said that you see no one most of the time. "The city is dead." "Nothing pretty. It is full of dead."

    When there are people, it is more sad and bad-feeling than before. They are still doing rescue missions, but the people are mostly those who don't want to leave. They are giving up because they have run out of food, or other traumatic reasons.

    She said, "being near the devastation every day, all day long, constantly, is wearing on everyone."

    She said that an eerie sight is all the buses that are sitting spaced out at intervals along certain streets. They are wrecked, having been left and not used through the storm and the flooding. They are city buses, school buses, and those tan or plain types sometimes used by churches or the military. All of them just sitting there, never having been used. There are cars scattered everywhere too, as though people often just abandoned them in the streets.

    She sees "heavily armed military and police" patrolling the streets. "They must have it really hard" because she said they are right on and in the mess and smell. Some are walking where it is dry, others are riding in high-water trucks and armored vehicles. She also saw many military convoys going through the city.

    She said that except for a few areas where people still remain, mostly it is like a "dead city" with heavily armed soldiers and dying/starving animals. The smell and that grey mud just makes it all seem "unreal."

    She saw a lot of houses and buildings that had "like shuffled and bumped into other" houses and buildings. There was a marina where "all of the boats had been forced off of the water and onto the land."

    When they see someone, they contact ground units to get to them if it isn't an urgent rescue situation.

    She said it appears that around the base and into that part of New Orleans, that is where the worst of the hurricane wind damage hit. The flooding parts are like a separate event. She said that while the press/media focused so much on the Superdome and Convention Center, "the reality is that there is massive, just total devastation elsewhere." She said that so much "focused on those sights because it was easier to get cameras and quick powerful pictures." The other areas are just like dead parts of the city.

    She warned that when she returns, the smell of New Orleans will be on her.

    She added that the weather is beautiful. "It is perfect for flying."

    ...She said that her unit is on standby constantly for missions. They are setting up more permanent operations centers, so all this can go on for much longer and be very organized. She said the Crew Chiefs are working incredibly hard, and everyone is overdoing themselves.

    She did add that it is nice to be back at base because they have AC, electricity, lights, and it is comfortable. They even have running water, though they can't drink it or put it on toothbrushes. It is brought in by the military.

    That is all.

    Earlier e-mails covering Lili's hurricane rescue experiences can be found here and here.


    Been There, Done That

    Cornel West, rap artist, is calling for a "Marshall Plan" for the South.

    We had that. It was called "The Great Society."


    Katrina's Pestilence Potential

    I was visiting the New Jersey Pest Management Association website today (yes, my life is very exciting) and happened to notice this "fun fact about pests":

    In the 1960s, animal behavior researchers studied the effects of various substances on spiders. When spiders were fed flies that had been injected with caffeine, they spun very 'nervous' webs. When spiders ate flies injected with LSD, they spun webs with wild, abstract patterns. Spiders that were given sedatives fell asleep before completing their webs.
    How much do you want to bet that this study was funded by tax dollars?

    I was actually at the website after reading this far more serious piece about the Katrina aftermath:

    "There is an aspect to the devastation of New Orleans and other Gulf Coast cities," says Leonard Douglen, executive director of the New Jersey Pest Management Association, "that must not be overlooked. It is the need to deal with an insect and rodent pest populations that are going to explode, creating the potential for the spread of disease that rivals the polluted waters."

    Douglen urges the state and federal government authorities in charge of evacuating the human population of New Orleans and tending to the needs of other affected Gulf Coast cities "to undertake a major pesticide spraying program in order to exterminate a massive outbreak of mosquitoes, major vectors for the spread of diseases that include Malaria and West Nile Fever, along with other insect pest populations."

    The conditions for the breeding of billions of mosquitoes are ideal says Douglen. "Unless the troops, police, contractors and others in the affected areas are protected against the mosquitoes, we could see significant outbreaks of disease among them." Stinging insects such as wasps, Yellow Jackets, and others will return in force as well.

    Douglen also warns against a huge population increase among rats. "Not only do they now have access to vast supplies of food and ample harborage among abandoned homes and other structures, but rats under these circumstances will breed rapidly in response to this favorable environment." Mathematically, a single pair of rats has the potential of producing 359 million descendents in just three year's time.

    "The current population of rats in the affected areas can reproduce at a rate of an entire new generation within three months. The gestation period is a scant twenty-two days and a female rat will give birth to an average litter of eight. In their brief lifespan of nine months, each will produce an average of twenty new rats," said Douglen.

    The Black Plague of the 1400's, which killed a third of the population of Europe, was spread by the combination of rats and the parasitic fleas that lived off of them, that transmitted the bubonic plague to humans. As recently as 1994, rats and fleas were responsible for an outbreak of the pneumonic plague in India....
    Katrina appears to be the disaster that never quits.


    Hawaiian Apartheid?

    This is harsh.

    Unfortunately, it also is accurate.

    If the "Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005" happens to become law, I'm going to being looking very, very hard for the necessary single Native Hawaiian ancestor it takes to get me exempt from federal and state income taxes. Why should I have to pay, if they do not?


    Katrina Rescues: Scenes of New Orleans

    As I mentioned in this post, our friend Joe Roche's wife Lili, a member of the Washington, DC National Guard, is doing helicopter rescue missions in hurricane-affected areas.

    Joe's been sharing her reports about her experiences with friends and family and, with his permission and Lili's, I'm reprinting one of his emails here.

    But first, a photo (taken before Katrina struck) of Joe and his new (less than a year) bride with their mutual boss:

    Joe and Lili Roche With Secretary Rumsfeld

    And now, Joe's letter:

    Lili is doing missions in downtown New Orleans, picking up people that need rescuing and transporting them to medical triage sites, going around the city, and she has flown over a town in Mississippi... I want to just pass on what she has said and what she is doing, so I'm not going to organize this. I have spoken to her a few times since Monday. Some of what she is seeing and experiencing is very bad....

    Lili has been flying into New Orleans, leaning outside the helicopter on the right side (opposite the Crew Chief), with doors off. She said she has gotten sunburned on the right side of her face as a result. The weather is much nicer now because the heat has broken. It still is much hotter there elsewhere, but not as bad as Southern Louisiana can be.

    She has flown missions in which they pick up people who need rescuing, and then transport them to medical facilities that have been set up, such as at New Orleans International Airport, called Neil Armstrong airport something-or-other.

    The staging area she is based at is at the main international Baton Rouge airport. She says it is one massive military city now. There is an entire huge part of the airport where her helicopters land. There are about 50 Blackhawks also there, huge Sea Stallion helicopters, and C-130 airplanes around too. Today some massive C-17 mega-planes landed. There are soldiers all over the place there, staying in hotels and any other facility that can be opened and taken over. She is currently sleeping comfortably in an office with five other female soldiers. There are soldiers from all over the country, and also police officers from all over the country. She has met some from Virginia and elsewhere.

    She has befriended some soldiers from the Louisiana National Guard's Engineer units. One young girl is getting this weekend off to go get married, and then will return to missions. I think Lili is good friends with the soldier.

    The bulk of the Louisiana NG Aviation units are rotating out of missions today because they need servicing. There are only so many hours and days a helicopter can go before it becomes dangerous. ALL of them are at or well beyond those limits. Therefore, as of today, Lili's unit is picking up the missions they were performing. This is added on to the other missions her unit has been assigned.

    One Alabama National Guard unit has flown over 1,600 flight hours since the response began for the hurricane's impact. That very well could be a record.

    Another flight unit performed 148 hoist missions in one day. Bear in mind that hoist missions are very dangerous for helicopters. They make it look easy on TV, but there are many very dangerous issues and things to deal with when a helicopter is hovering and lowering a basket like that to rescue a victim.

    Lili said that as her chopper approached to pick someone up, she could see bodies floating in the water. Near one man she picked up, there was a body partially wrapped up in a trash bag just sitting nearby. When she looks down at the flooded streets while flying over them, she can see bodies.

    She said that the smell of rotting bodies and all the other refuse that is fermenting in the water in New Orleans can be detected from afar. As her helicopter is approaching the city, even though she is up in the air, she said she can smell it. The soldiers at Baton Rouge say they can smell New Orleans on them all night long. She said that their uniforms and gear smells of this when they return from missions.

    She has been flying around the Superdome in downtown New Orleans. The others soldiers she is with are telling of harrowing experiences they had. One soldier was shot in the leg while he was trying to patrol at the Superdome when the crowd was at its peak stress. There were multiple murders, rapes and other crimes carried out inside the Superdome. Some of the rapists were killed by the crowd. One man who raped a small baby girl was lynched by a crowd and thrown off of a ramp.

    Lili said that it is interesting to see how in many parts of New Orleans, one side is so bad with flooding, damage and death, while just across the water ways, basically the size of a street, houses are untouched, clean and just fine. There are some neighborhoods of the city that escaped almost all of the damage.

    She said that New Orleans actually doesn't have much storm damage.

    In contrast, her flights in Mississippi have seen destruction on massive scales. She said that the damage in Mississippi is wind damage, the direct hit from the hurricane, and that it is therefore much worse. It looks like an atom bomb went off. New Orleans, in contrast, suffered marginal wind damage. She said that there are many buildings with windows, walls and other stuff blown out, but nothing so bad as in Mississippi. New Orleans instead was destroyed by the flooding that happened, interestingly, many hours AFTER the hurricane had passed (because of the levee breaks).

    Lili flew over Hattiesburg, Mississippi...

    In Hattiesburg, the damage is from the wind of the hurricane. She could see blue tarps over where roofs have been torn off of houses. This is actually a good thing to see because it indicates that people are functioning there. They aren't suffering massive flood damage, and appear to be able to survive alright. Putting up the tarps is a sign that people can live there and intend to stay and recover. That is what she saw over Hattiesburg.

    Lili has flown victims to New Orleans international airport. She said they are being carried on makeshift items, such as one very overweight man who was carried on a large luggage carrier. The people board C-130s, which then fly them to other staging areas.

    The work to keep her unit's helicopters going is a lot. They have pre-flight maintenance, post-flight maintenance, daily equipment checks, and also mechanical fixes to make. Basically, if a bird (helicopter) is in the air for 10 hours in a single day, that is too much. Most all of them there are doing more than that however!

    Keeping the birds flying, keeping the rescue equipment working and safe, are also constant jobs.

    She said that there are big military convoys moving around all over the place. She sees this at her base, and when she flies she sees them everywhere.

    There are still thousands of rescue missions to be carried out. There are also a series of mass casualty medivac missions, and also huge refugee populations to be moved. Also, it is unclear at this time how the New Orleans police decision to begin forced evacuations today will impact the military missions. Lili and her unit are looking at going full tilt for a long time, likely only to stop when the birds can't fly anymore.

    I believe I've seen her helicopters on TV a couple times. You can see it too, perhaps. She flies in Hueys that have the medical red cross sign on the front and sides. Actually, one of her helicopters don't have the sign. Anyway, you might catch a glimpse of her and her helicopters, so I thought I'd let you know.


    Addendum 2/19/06: As has now been well-documented, rumors and media reports of murders and other incidents of reported violent crimes in the Superdome turn out to have been unsubstantiated. We apologize for our part in repeating false information.


    Battleship Iowa to House Gay Museum?

    Will the Battleship Iowa soon house (free registration required) a museum dedicated to "lesbian, gay, bisexual [and] transgender[ed]" veterans?

    The Historic Ship Memorial at Pacific Square, a group that is trying to convince the city of San Francisco to exhibit the Iowa, hopes putting such a museum on the Iowa will attract the interest of San Francisco's board of supervisors. In July, the board voted against exhibiting the Iowa, citing (given that we are talking about San Francisco) utterly predictable political reasons.

    The Iowa, which has earned 11 battle stars, was first commissioned in 1943 and most recently decommissioned in 1990. She saw significant action in World War II. She carried President Roosevelt part of the way to the Teheran Conference and then saw action in the Pacific Theatre, including in the Marshall Islands and Okinawa and the Battle for Leyte Gulf. She served as Admiral William F. Halsey's flagship during the Japanese surrender ceremony (60 years ago last Friday). She saw action in the Korean War and in the Mediterranean, and was decommissioned in 1958, only to be recommissioned in 1984 as part of President Reagan's expansion of the Navy. In 1989, the Iowa received national attention when tragedy struck: A never-fully-explained explosion in one of her nine 16-inch gun turrets killed 47 sailors.

    The Iowa remains part of the U.S. Navy's Reserve Fleet.


    Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act Reviewed

    David Almasi and I weigh in on the "The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005" here.


    NFL Hostile to Conservatives?

    Michelle Malkin sees a Bush-hating trend at the NFL.

    Maybe it is because of owners like this?


    Black Activists on Chief Justice Rehnquist 

    Several members of Project 21 are speaking out on the legacy of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist.


    Response to Black Caucus Criticism of Katrina Relief

    Project 21 has responded to Congressional Black Caucus criticisms of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.


    Ex-Liberal in Hollywood: New Orleans: Where Laid Back is Laid Bare

    Clark Baker sent me a copy of a post in his new blog "Ex-Liberal in Hollywood" in response to my post about Anne Rice complaining about America. After I read the post he sent me I went to his blog and read a lot more of it, including why he became an ex-liberal.

    Clark Baker has a lot to say, and he doesnt mince words saying it. I recommend this fresh new blog.


    Katrina Rescues: A Military Perspective

    I'm posting a letter from Joe Roche, whose wife is doing helicopter rescue missions in hurricane-affected areas, "24/7, very tired, sometimes being shot at, facing intense heat and humidity, having spartan-to-bare sleeping conditions, with sickness and disease spreading."


    I want you to know that over the past days, our soldiers of the National Guard have quickly and readily made big sacrifices so they can get down to the Hurricane Katrina rescue mission. My wife, as you know, is with National Guard. I watched last week as they worked feverishly, being called in from their other jobs and away from their families, to get everything ready to go.

    Tens of thousands of National Guard soldiers have mobilized all over the country like this. I know you have felt grief over the disaster and the issue some people have made of it. I want you to take heart and lift your spirits at what has happened with our military.

    There is now a MASSIVE military response under way. It is moving very fast, in fact. So fast that it quickly and frequently overwhelmed the capacity to put it all in place and get it launched.

    I understand the frustration, fear and sadness being felt, but it takes time to get such a thing going. Remember that it took many months for our military operations to get under way overseas when the decisions were made to do so. In fact, I think there was some controversy about that in both of the wars over Iraq, when it took from August to January to launch Operation Desert Storm, and even longer to get Operation Iraqi Freedom going. I well remember even having to assure people that we were going to respond after September 11th when some started worrying that weeks had passed and nothing had happened.

    I believe that such comparisons actually will show that the military response to Hurricane Katrina's destruction is going at breath-taking fast speed.

    Lt. Gen. Russell Honore, the commanding General of the Army National Guard, said that the thing to realize is that the rescuers who were there on the first day were also victims of the storm.

    It takes time to organize the massive operation now under way. I watched my wife and her unit prepare to go, and I felt worried that they would become victims too if they didn't properly prepare. The vital thing the soldiers have to make sure of is that they are the solution to the problem, and not part of the problem. Therefore, what has happened is that a vast, truly amazing and powerfully inspiration-driven massive team of professionals has quickly and effectively set up a huge series of staging areas from which rescue operations can begin.

    It is a fact that with the destruction of the storm, there were very few open and secure areas in which to set up huge military operations. Well, defying all the challenges, your National Guard soldiers have done that brilliantly!

    Now we are seeing this massive military response making it's impact. Tens of thousands have been rescued, moving entire refugee populations hundreds of miles. I don't believe others ever have been able to do this, such as the Europeans in the Balkans. No, such massive population moves are normally the work of war and crime that last years. This time, bigger and faster than most in history, your National Guard has moved in, set up, and begun one of the largest rescue operations in history.

    The thing that has affected me most, however, are the soldiers doing this. I have seen police officers, Vietnam Veterans, and other professionals from all sorts of jobs, dropping everything last week and getting airborne to get down there. And Amy, it is scary too.

    My wife is my best friend and the best person I have ever met. Now she is doing helicopter rescue missions, 24/7, very tired, sometimes being shot at, facing intense heat and humidity, having spartan-to-bare sleeping conditions, with sickness and disease spreading. There are thousands of rescue operations to do, and there are dozens of air units and even more ground units working hard and sometimes bumping into each other. It is more dangerous than I think people realize.

    Yet, amazingly and very inspiringly, I watched as these National Guard soldiers cancelled plans for college, jobs, their kids' plans for next week, basically everything that you can imagine, and instead jumped eagerly and with great determination to get ready and deploy to Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

    Some of them are veterans, soldiers who have served for years in many of our wars and missions, civilian professionals who have jobs and lives and families, and all of them have set everything aside to go. Many are taking big financial hits, and their families have to make big adjustments. But you know what? They are all highly motivated and eager to get down there and do their jobs.

    I know that for the victims of this storm, their suffering and tragedy is terrible and cannot be erased. I do hope we all realize, though, that the military is making a massively huge effort to rescue and help them that also involves National Guard soldiers making countless personal sacrifices.

    We should have found inspiration from the determination of the people of New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to survive the long series of nightmares they have endured as a result of the hurricane. I also believe that we should now find inspiration in our great military, primarily the Army National Guard, for how they have jumped full steam ahead into this.

    Be proud of your soldiers, keep your spirits and hopes high. There are some very sad and gruesome days and weeks ahead for our nation as we learn of the full scope of the disaster. Face it with the resolve, focus and determination that our military is showing us now, and we'll get through this to make a more safe future for such events and rebuild what has been lost.