Your Lying Eyes

Dedicated to uncovering the truth that stands naked before your lying eyes.

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30 September 2005

Temporarily Out of Service

I'll be out of commission for about a day and a half, but I'll be back bloggin' up a frenzy. I'll leave you with this e-mail on the Hurricane Katrina "exaggerated stories" meme. I haven't had time to read the article in the link, but it's a good site, so I'll take the risk that it stands on its own:
I did a little math on the “exaggerated” stories meme: I calculate based on Times’ own facts 50-60 murders.

28 September 2005

Minds Think Alike

Glenn Reynolds seems to have figured out Mickey Kaus's all-too-subtle joke that had me hopelessly stumped:
MICKEY KAUS wonders why the New York Times hates poor people: "TimeSelect--and with it Web access to columnists such as Paul Krugman--is unavailable to those too poor to have credit cards. . . . News of the NYT policy comes at a time when Hurricane Katrina has raised profound issues of race, class, and gender." Heh.
Heh, heh, heh, heh...I don't get it. I guess because the Times is liberal and so is supposed to be concerned about the poor but here they're doing something anti-poor? I thought Kaus was maybe making fun of the dopey reader making such a ridiculous complaint by ironically tying it into the Katrina devastation, but I'm apparently off base here...any ideas?

And lord do I hate that little "Heh."

Update (9/29 7:39am): Kaus has used the "profound issues of race..." line again in an item on former NBA star Dave Bing - so he's obviously lampooning someone, presumably from the Times. Some initial Googling turned up nothing, however. I shan't rest until I figure out this joke!

Here's One Katrina Rumor That Is Preposterous

I hadn't heard this one before until I read this unintentionally hilarious Cynthia McKinney article in Counterpunch. "As dead bodies lay strewn about the New Orleans Superdome, military recruiters blew into Houston's Astrodome to reap the harvest" says McKinney. And what a bountiful harvest that must have been! In reality, these alleged recruiters would have been like Diogenes walking about with a lantern asking "Is anyone here an honest man?", except they would have been asking "Can anyone here score in the top 70 percent of the Armed Forces Qualification Test?" Given what we know of demographics and what inferences we could make about the refugees in the Astrodome in particular, we can imagine any such recruiters, real or imagined, were pretty much wasting their time.

Has Kaus Gone Krazy?

Now I love kausfiles and I share Kaus's hate of TimesSelect, but I think the former's obsession with the latter has entered an unhealthy stage, as evidenced by his latest post (as of 7:45am 9/28/05 - no permalink available!) which begins with this odd assertion:
Let the Victims Speak, Part II: kf reader S.D. complains that TimeSelect--and with it Web access to columnists such as Paul Krugman--is unavailable to those too poor to have credit cards.
And ends with this bizarre wrap-up:
News of the NYT policy comes at a time when Hurricane Katrina has raised profound issues of race, class, and gender.
Either Mickey has gone over the deep end or he has attained new heights of subtlety in the use of irony in blogging. Let's hope the latter.

Update: Clark Stooksbury noticed the same thing, but a few posts and a day earlier. I personally didn't think these Kaus were particularly off, but apparently Clark has a more sensitive "whack"-meter than I.

27 September 2005

No More Gay Priests. Now What?

Thrasymachus, based on some crude calculations - but broad enough to make being very far off not very likely - concludes that homosexualss are at the center of the Church scandals and that the Church therefore can't afford to have large numbers of gay priests. Steve Sailer, however, doesn't think the Church can effectively recruit enough American straight priests, and predicts that eliminating celibacy will result in a more personality-driven, protestant-like clergy (very interesting article wih a nice historical perspective - read the whole thing).

I'd like to see a third way. ...Read moreThe Church should keep its celibate priesthood but be very stringent on who joins. Catholic priests have a wonderful mystique about them that other clergy don't have - and celibacy is a big part of it. To make up for the big shortfall, the church could expand the reach of deacons - specially trained lay persons. Rather than just give communion and give readings, they could receive additional theological training (equivalent to, say, a Masters of Education) that would give them expanded roles, particularly to say mass (this would require a revision to Church law).

Priests, now in reduced numbers, would serve more of a special ministering role, giving the occassional special homily, appearing at special events, that kind of thing. The church could concentrate more on developing quality priests, leaving the more mundane tasks to the deacons. This would allow more normal people to become clergy without requiring large expense - deacons would still live a mostly normal civilian life - while maintaining the essence of the priesthood. Anyway, that's a modest proposal from a humble (and very bad) catholic.

26 September 2005

Reports That Conditions in NOLA Were Exaggerated are Exaggerated

An article from the Louisiana Times-Picayune ( has been circulating around (it was on Drudge) which claims that the horror stories from New Orleans were greatly exaggerated. This claim itself appears to be overstated. The article employs straw-man news reports to make its claim.
...Read more
Strawman #1:
"I've got a report of 200 bodies in the Dome," Beron recalls the doctor saying. - Huh? I watched an awful lot of Katrina coverage, but never once heard anything like that - The real total was six, Beron said. - That's more like what I remember hearing - six deaths in the Dome.

Strawman #2
"I think 99 percent of it is bulls---," said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Lachney, who played a key role in security and humanitarian work inside the Dome. "Don't get me wrong, bad things happened, but I didn't see any killing and raping and cutting of throats or anything.... Ninety-nine percent of the people in the Dome were very well-behaved." Well, ok, but reports of chaos and anarchy were not from the Dome, they were from the Convention Center.

Strawman #3
Four weeks after the storm, few of the widely reported atrocities have been backed with evidence. The piles of bodies never materialized[what piles of bodies?!], and soldiers, police officers and rescue personnel on the front lines say that although anarchy reigned at times and people suffered unimaginable indignities, most of the worst crimes reported at the time never happened. - get that - it was a fucking nightmare, but it wasn't a complete and total fucking nightmare, dammit!

The article then attempts to ridicule one of the demonstrably true reports that a guardsman was shot in the leg - it turns out the wound was self-inflicted. Why did the soldier shoot himself? "In the darkness, as he walked through about six inches of water, Watt was attacked with a metal rod..." - so he shot himself while trying to fight off a thug beating him with a metal rod! Silly soldier, shooting himself in the leg; silly media, exaggerating again!

The Convention Center is where all the controversy was, because this ended up being an impromptu shelter - thus there were no weapons searches, no authorities in place. The article makes a half-hearted effort to whitewash the situation: Inside the Convention Center, the rumors of widespread violence have proved hard to substantiate, as well, though the masses of evacuees endured terrifying and inhumane conditions. Yeah, sounds like a lovely time. Probably the best that can be said about conditionas at the Convention Center is that there is only one substantiated murder, that there was likely only a handful of rapes, and that gunfire in the center may have been only intermittent, not continuous. There is no doubt about the voracious and destructive looting that occurred and the general lawlessness that prevailed.

This "exaggerated reports" meme is going to have some serious legs. Right now it's being promoted by Bush apologists as a way to rub away some of the stain Katrina has left on this administration. It will then be picked up in due course (after they've let all the witless Republicans do the heavy lifting for them) by leftists to promote their view of an oppressive society in league with a racist media. It will be this latter charge that will take hold - the collective memory of Bush incompetence will stick while the media will pound away on the race angle for years to come.

Did The White House Blow It With Roberts?

So argues Mickey Kaus - the idea being they wasted such an unassailable candidate by using him to replace the conservative Rehnquist rather than the MOR O'Connor. Perhaps. But I think they blew it on a much more fundamental level - by having Roberts grovel, equivocate, and prevaricate his way around his prior writings and judicial philosophy, they gave in to the basic premise that conservative views are shameful - not the kinds of opinions civilized people admit to holding.

25 September 2005

Krugman's Trepidation Noted Elsewhere

Prolific blogger Glaivester also noted Krugman's tepid foray into racial politics. In fact Glaivester makes, overall, a very similar argument to that made here (though he did so a day earlier than me, but I swear I didn't read his first!! - though I do check out his blog pretty regularly). Anyway, it's interesting to read a similar take but one written very differently (and he had the graciousness to reference my post in his blog).
Also, I've also added some links in the sidebar. The intent is to provide some small set of interesting sites rather than an encyclopedic list - Sailer and Glaivester both have a very extensive and eclectic set of links for you to rummage through.

Sodomists Need Not Appply

If you have a large organization rocked by a scandal where a number of men have been found to have been sodomizing teenaged boys, a rather obvious first step towards fixing this would be to try to screen out men who'd be more likely to desire sex with teenaged boys. That seems just so sensible as to defy further discussion....Read more

Au contraire. The Vatican is proposing to do just that and the reaction is anything but ho-hum.
Objections on the grounds of "fairness" are prominent:
"Do you want to work for an organization that barely tolerates your existence and says that people like you can no longer be accepted?" asked one New York priest who described himself as homosexual and chaste. "What kind of self-hatred is necessary to continue in a place like that?"
Priests rail at Vatican's upcoming ban on gays - Newsday.

And the presumed irrelevancy is another common theme:
Reliable studies show that pedophiles (those adults who sexually abuse children) are overwhelmingly heterosexual. In fact, homosexuals are statistically underrepresented as those who sexually abuse children.
Letter to the editor - New York Times

This latter claim is often made, and never are any of these allegedly "reliable" studies ever actually referenced. If you Google on "pedophilia homosexuality" you will find 266,000 links most of it clearly agenda driven. Here's where Your Lying Eyes (figuratively, I hope) should rule the day, which in this case requires an "Affirmed" to the proposition: "A homosexual man is more likely to engage in sexual activity with a teenaged boy than a heterosexual man."

But, BUT (yes, that's a big but, not to be confused with this), the Roman Catholic priesthood presents a little twist that does confuse things some: celibacy. What celibacy does is remove normal relations with women from the mix, and that results in a rather unstable brew.

A critical distinction needs to be made between homosexual behavior and homosexuality itself - i.e., gayness. When deprived of women, while at sea or in prison, for example, otherwise heterosexual men will resort to homosexual behavior (in particular the strong will prey upon the weak). What's remarkable about gay men is not that they will have sex with men - under the right (i.e., wrong) circumstances, men are capable of having sex with anyone or anything - but that they do not want to have sex with women under any circumstances.

In the ancient world, man-boy couplings were not uncommon, and it is not hard to imagine that in those days common adult women might not have been the most attractive creatures to have walked the earth. Teenaged girls, on the other hand, were the most valuable treasures a man could own, and thus not generally available. Steve Sailer has pointed out that it was Christianity's great achievement to have eliminated much of this willful homosexual behavior. "The triumph of Jerusalem over Athens came both by negative sanctions on vice but also by the increased status of women under Christianity, which made companionate marriage the ideal."

But for priests in today's church, companionate marriage is not the ideal - and so one wonders: are the priests who fondle boys gay or are they straight men excercizing a time-"honored" alternative to sex with women? How ironic that the very institution most responsible for eliminating sodomy-as-choice could be still encouraging it among its own clergy.

22 September 2005

Krugman Nails It!

...then walks away and turns to mush. In his latest column, Paul Krugman unleashes the following bold insight: "Race is the biggest reason the United States, uniquely among advanced countries, is ruled by a political movement that is hostile to the idea of helping citizens in need." And what does he do with this bit of truth? He goes on to some ordinary, run-of-the-mill Bush bashing, with a gentle swipe at Reagan thrown in for good measure. But just as Your Lying Eyes noted several months ago, he also points out ...Read morethat our lack of universal health care is due to our racial divide, but provides no further insights other than to say "it isn't yet a crisis among middle-class, white Americans (although it's getting there). Instead, the worst effects are falling on the poor and black, who have third-world levels of infant mortality and life expectancy." See, he understands that there's a connection between our reluctance to have free health care and the fact that blacks have poorer health, but he can't seem to connect the dots. Has Krugman ever noticed that whites and blacks almost never live together in the same neighborhoods? In advanced, mono-ethnic nations such as France, Germany, and Japan the middle class does not view the poor as being a separate under-class. But here in the U.S., where 1/4 of the population can so clearly be identified by their appearance or language as not carrying their own economic weight, there is little inclination for the income earners to be generous with the public funds - particularly when there is such a poor track record of public generosity making things any better. When child assistance turns into an epidemic of illegitimacy, when housing subsidies turn into wrecked neighborhoods and failing schools, and when constantly increasing education expenditures show little improvement in scholastic achievement - well, you can't expect a lot of enthusiasm for introducing universal health care.
Now you can go on about racism all you want, but people aren't going to just ignore their Lying Eyes and pretend that all the things they see day in and day out are just figments of their own bigoted minds - not anymore they're not. They're not going to start believing that if only we'd just spend more money these problems will go away.
It's hard to believe it sometimes but federal judges used to actually forcibly integrate schools by ordering students from one school district be bused to another. Any nitwit could have predicted what would happen next - in fact plenty of nitwits did predict exactly what happened next - that eventually all the whites would either send their kids to private schools or would move away, leaving the "integrated" public schools behind and in shambles.
Yes, Dr. Krugman, race plays a very important role in our nation and explains alot. But by smugly laying the blame on "racism," you are turning your back on the issue. It's easy to do, if you're a New York Times columnist or a President of the United States, to blame problems on racism and then turn away satisfied with your own moral superiority. But that doesn't do anyone any good. When trying to understand problems, being realistic is a good start.

19 September 2005

Katrina Effects

What will be the lingering effect of Katrina? I mean on the body politic. The Bush administration is just not likely to come out of this well. All any Democrat has to do is play the tape of Chertoff sounding like Baghdad Bob insisting on NPR that there was no problem at the convention center to convince any sentient human that there's something terribly wrong at Homeland Security. And so there is a danger this will cost the Republicans seats in Congress next year.
Longer term, though, I think this will be a boost for Republicans (assuming Bush does nothing to further counteract it). One of the most underrated events leading to the Republican revolution of 1994 was the L.A. riots 2 years earlier. While the immediate political effect of the riots might have been to reinforce the notion that things were getting bad under Bush, the longer term impression it left was quite different. Remembering the lawlessness and the depraved pandering of liberal politicians and pundits, white voters pulled the Republican lever with gusto during the 1994 mid-term election.
The enduring image for white voters will be the overwhelming non-whiteness of the refugees, and this image will reinforce the vast gulf in the two societies. They will recall the legions of black faces crowding into the Superdome and stranded in flooded homes. They will picture these thousands of people unable or disinclined to take care of themselves; the lawlessness, the wanton looting, the otherness of it all. A minority of white voters ("liberals," we call them) will consider these same images to be the ineluctable and undeniable result of a racist society, and will say so. But the majority will resent this and, while they will be too intimidated to voice these feelings publicly, will voice them in the voting booth.
After a brief reluctance to play the race card, the usual suspects have moved into the "white guilt" phase rather pointedly (see this "archived" copy of Paul Krugman's latest now-subscriber-walled column via the QandO Blog). Some cooler heads are attempting to retain some perspective, but the more they crank-up the guilt rhetoric, the better for Republicans.

16 September 2005

Mayor Bloomberg Opposes Roberts

Liberal Republican - actually, a Democrat who ran as a Republican in the country's most Democratic city in order to get elected(!) - New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg opposes Bush's pick for the Supreme Court. "I am unconvinced that Judge Roberts accepts the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling as settled law," Bloomberg said.
Now, the obsession with Roe among Democrats and liberals aside, what in God's name does the Mayor of New York care about Roe v Wade? New York legalized abortion in 1970 - three years before Roe! If he wants to score points with his liberal voters, why not proclaim that it doesn't matter who's on the Court, "I'll make certain abortion is readily available to any woman for whatever reason at any time in the greatest city in the world..." or some such. Very curious.

Better Do Your Homework or Hoardes of Math Whizzes From Singapore Are Going to Come Over Here and Eat Your Lunch!

Awhile back I linked to a hilarious review of Tom Friedman's new book. The reviewer excoriated Friedman's writing - this column illustrates why.
At any rate, Friedman spends most of the column plugging a new teaching program for math called "Hey Math!" which was developed in Singapore, a city-state of 4 million people who Friedman is convinced will overtake us - "Message to America: They are not racing us to the bottom. They are racing us to the top."...Read more Yeah, I don't get it either - why would they be racing us to the bottom? Unless he's implying we're going to the bottom, but if they're racing us to the top then we're going there too? Just forget it - you can't figure out his little quips. His finishing flourish does not disappoint: "[M]ath and science are the keys to innovation and power in today's world, and American parents had better understand that the people who are eating their kids' lunch in math are not resting on their laurels." Are they eating their laurels? Oh, never mind.
What galls me most is the insistence - and it's not just Friedman - that we are lagging in science and engineering because our kids are either lazy or our teachers are too boring or both. There's one fundamental difference between us and Singapore that Friedman overlooks - we're not Singapore! We are not going to be mobilizing our children to study 5 hours a day to master advanced mathematics. Ethnically, Singapore is predominantly Chinese (over 75%), not Malay. East Asians, such as Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese, score significantly higher on quantitative portions of IQ tests than Europeans. So there isn't a chance we will ever even catch up to Singapore in scholastic math achievement, never mind pull ahead.
But is he kidding? Four (4) million Singaporeans are going to "eat our lunch"? We have 300 million people - what's he afraid of? We have 9 million Jews alone - they can eat the 4 million Singaporeans' breakfast, lunch, and dinner! What a kook.
Of course the real reason we face danger as a nation due to low engineering graduation rates is because there's no jobs for a young engineer to do. We outsource our engineering jobs (probably not to Singapore - I doubt we can afford them). So bright young people looking for a rewarding career need to look into fields that aren't so easily traded - like law or finance where actually being an American still gives you a competetive edge in America.

15 September 2005

Roberts Miscellany

At one point in the hearing, Teddy got Roberts too admit during questioning on Brown v Board that in deciding a case "you do need to look at the real-world impact." This may sound like apple pie, but could there be a single institution less equipped to judge the real-world impact of anything (other than its own schedule)? They don't do any investigating of their own, they only hear from lawyers never "real-world" people, they are not held accountable in any way for what they do - and generally their backgrounds do not give them any insights into real-world life. So how can the Supreme Court assess real-world impacts?
Of course when Kennedy talks about real-world impacts he is looking at it from an entirely bleeding-heart perspective. The real world impact of housing discrimination is that some specific people don't get to live in some specific houses, never that, say, every white person in a neighborhood will move out within 5 years leaving a once vibrant community in a complete state of ruin. But then again Kennedy's real world is one where a 32 year old with almost no experience of any kind is elected a United States Senator, so we can't expect much from him in the "real world" understanding department, either.

13 September 2005

Roberts The Unflappable

Chief Justice-nominee John Roberts made every reasonable effort not to be mistaken for a conservative jurist in his hearings today. He assured Senators that all those memoranda he wrote in the Reagan White House gustily (and at times gutsily) fending off liberal intrusions into those sacred halls were little more than some youthful abstract musings dashed off to satisfy an inconsequential though demanding client. Yes it's quite a game being played, but make no mistake - a game it is. Democrat senators need to grill him hard not just to please their own constituencies but also to make the process as painful as possible for the White House and nominee and thus discourage an even more conservative nominee for the next round. The Republicans, meanwhile, must bide their time, and put up with vague responses that do nothing to assure their constituents that this guy's the real deal. They just have to trust the White House on this one. So conservative pundits will begin to get a little restless and start making noises that we have another Souter on our hands. But the more they complain, the less seriously the press will take the Democrat's complaints, which will tend to dampen the impact of the Democrat offensive. And that's the funny thing about Supreme Court justices - you just never know for sure until their decisions start to come in.

Where Are All The New Jobs?

Economists can be funny guys. Daniel Gross has a perky little article in the NYT perporting to answer the question. "Mystified economists have pointed to various possible culprits: outsourcing, competition from China, high health care costs and lower work-force participation." Not so fast - the real culprit is - are you sitting - the accounting scandals of a few years ago! How's that? Well, you see, much of the new growth in jobs in the go-go 90's occurred in companies that later were found to have misrepresented their earnings - so when the scandals broke these companies of course ceased creating new jobs once their true but sorry performance became known. So, it's the accounting scandals, you see. Ok, but doesn't that mean that those jobs in the 90's should never have been created in the first place - so that still doesn't answer the question why aren't we creating new jobs?'re spoiling all the fun.

12 September 2005

Just What Is a Conservative, Anyway?

Thanks to Jimbo for passing along this NYT article on the quandary many conservatives find themselves in in the wake of Iraq, Katrina, huge budget deficits, and other challenges. I have felt some of these discomforts myself, but I think I finally have it under control...Read more

So what does it mean to be a conservative? Like any movement/ideology, conservatism comes in many flavors, but there are essential principles to which any good conservative should adhere or at least grant lip service.
The cold war - the life-and-death struggle with Marxism - confused things alot. Marxism, which can be thought of as anti-conservativism - the goateed consevative if you will - drove much of the conservative agenda. And so, if a Soviet client state, such as North Vietnam, invaded one of our client states (South Vietnam), we intervened, and suddenly conservatives favored fighting long distance wars where there no was no imminent threat to our nation. Large corporations, being clearly enemies of communism, became icons of conservatism, despite the obvious socialistic organization of these specially legally protected institutions. Communist countries established the unprecedented practice of preventing their residents from leaving while virtually no outsiders ever wanted to come in. To highlight la difference, conservatives triumphed in admitting asylum seekers and reveled in the desperation so many showed in lining up to immigrate to our fair land. And communist countries proved so economically inept that they were mired in poverty while their neighbours right next door were performing economic miracles - and so we became infatuated with the miraculous transformative powers of the free market.
So flash forward to 2005 and we find conservatives supporting a $300 billion war to establish democracy in a semi-literate Islamic country half way across the world; defending obscene 9-digit severance packages to failed corporate CEO's; and promoting the invasion of millions of uneducated peasants from third world countries to slash labor costs - even while these immigrant groups show no significant upward mobility generation to generation.
A conservative believes in the primacy of tradition - a defender of the traditional. This would mean different things in different lands, but in America it means a dedication to Western Civilization, to the classical Greco-Roman culture that undergirds it, the canons of European art and literature, the Judeo-Christian morality that informs it, the Anglo-Saxon legal principles that protect it, particularly the protection of property rights and democratic institutions.
Conservatives thus insist on assimilation and adherence to the prevailing Western culture and reject the diversity myth. We revere the great artists, writers, and composers of our past and the objective measure of achievement and reject subjective assessment of work. We believe in the the meaning of doctrines and principles and reject the deconstructive trivialization of truth. We proclaim our belief in right and wrong and reject moral relativism. And we demand following the plain meaning of the law and reject novelistic interpretations.
But first and foremost, a conservative philosophy of government should, at a minimum, insist that the government behave - conservatively. This means not doing things that have a high probability of being costly and a low probability of success. It means not doing things that have a significant chance of negatively impacting our standard of living or way of life. It means not risking a bad day tomorrow for an uncertain benefit today.
So where does the "free market" - capitalism - fit in? Belief in the free market is not really a central tenet of conservatism. It is merely a by-product of the belief in the inherent fallibility in us all. Since we are fallible, our behavior is heavily influenced by incentives and disincentives. The free market is a way to encourage industriousness (a good thing for society) and discourage sloth (bad for society) - indeed it seems to be the most efficient way we have yet found. But this doesn't mean that every outcome of a free market is to be applauded or even tolerated.
We should be willing to fight - savagely if necessary - to defend our country and way of life when threatened. This does not mean that we should expend huge resources to change others to see things our way - much better to defend ourselves and let others live their own lives - however awful we may think it to be.
Similarly, we should be skeptical of the ability of others to adapt to our way of life even when living amongst us, particularly in a political climate where pro-American indoctrination is frowned upon.
To the extent that today's Republicans find themselves spending taxpayer money recklessly, mired in a foreign war, increasingly viewed as beholden to large corporate interests, and hostile to traditional notions of individual liberty, they can blame it on their failure to be true conservatives.

06 September 2005

The Clinton-Bush Alliance

Jimbo, tired of my slow blogging, sends in these thoughts:

Something I´ve noticed lately and would like to hear your slant on is this interesting Clinton-Bush alliance. I get the impression that a while back, Bill and George HW had a "sitdown" to map out a global strategy for their families´ respective dynasties, wisely recognizing that neither one could dominate the national political scene all of the time (despite that dick Rove´s call for a permanent majority after the last prez election). With the Clintons at the center-left and the Bushs at the center-right, neither family´s interests would be too severely damaged during the other´s reign.

Tsunami and especially NOLA have exhibited this alliance in action, lately Clinton helping Bush Sr. save what is left of his moron son´s term while at the same time improving drastically Hillary´s chances for 08 which is of course the Clinton´s next big move. Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention the ex-presidential "rising above politics" disaster relief. The Clintons did a good job of gliding through the recent election, as loser Kerry was a Kennedy man, better positioning themselves as the new Democratic dynasty.

Better the devil you know I guess. But, at least it is some kind of democracy at work with the opposition always at the doorstep, however rigged it is.

Kinda like the Medicis and the Borgias, I guess. One problem I see is what about Jeb? Could be that Republicans will be too Bushed by '08 to select him, but I would think the Bush clan sees him as a natural to succeed his big bro'.
On the other hand, it could just be that presidents like to rehabilitate past presidents from the opposition party, perhaps to gain an air of statesmanship. Reagan adopted FDR, a tyrant to Republicans, as his idol. Clinton brought Nixon in from the cold, and Bush is putting Bubba on the same stage with his own father. I think even Kennedy made it safe for Democrats to pay tribute to Lincoln. No one, however, seems anxious to embrace Carter.

04 September 2005

Mississippi Victims Feel Neglected

Hurricane victims in Mississippi are feeling slighted because New Orleans has been getting all the attention. Not to worry - now that all the good video images of stranded people at the Superdome and Convention Center have disappeared with the evacuation, we should soon be ignoring the NOLA victims, too.

NOLA OLordy!

I thought I might have been too cynical in a previous post on NOLA, particularly after Jimbo dressed me down. But the best pundit in the blogosphere has just made me feel like some northeast weenie.

02 September 2005

Spam Comments

I've been getting spam in the comments, so if you see deletions it's just some necessary housekeeping - no anti-free-speech conpiracy, I assure you.

It Looks Like Fox News Might Have Dropped the Ball Too

Why did it take them five days to get their most potent weapon into New Orleans? I'm watching O'Reilly (no, not him) and he's got Geraldo on live from the atrocious convention center, and he is stirring things up. "This is the most horrible scene I've ever seen in a civilized nation!" "There are 20,000 people inside that building with dead babies in there!" The cops of course are all greeting him with hugs. "They're rallying around me, Bill, they're rallying around me!" Sometimes, at the darkest hour, it takes an outsized ego to make things happen. Maybe if they had Geraldo on the scene from the start instead of that weenie Shephard Smith things might have moved faster.

Dropped Balls in the Delta

It seems many balls were dropped in plans for a major hurricane in New Orleans, but it seems the biggest was in the understanding of how many people would remain after the order to evacuate was given. Bureaucratic planners, such as FEMA, seem to never really take into account the nature of the populace it's dealing with. FEMA apparently viewed this threat like flash floods in Lichtenstein, imagining that when ordered to evacuate, the good citizens would drop everything and begin the process to evacuate.
Now, as someone who is by nature very disorganized, a poor planner and given to procrastination, I think I have some insight into what was going on in these people's minds. I'm pretty sure that there were lots of poor people who got it together and found a way out of the city right away. But that requires forethought and the ability to do some basic planning - making some phone calls, looking up bus schedules, watching/reading weather forecasts to understand the time-frame, and an understanding of what makes New Orleans so vulnerable wouldn't hurt. One of the fundamental reasons that people are poor is that they lack such basic skills. When word got out that the Superdome would be a shelter of last resort, people didn't process the meaning of the last 3 words - they just heard "shelter" and said "I'm There!", imagining that would solve their problems.
The FEMA people, on the other hand, no doubt imagined that only the very sick and elderly would stay behind - not healthy men and women with healthy kids who could have walked 25 miles west out of the city in the time they spent standing in line at the Superdome. Failing to understand the nature of the populace - that not everyone is equally capable of hightailing it out of the city in a controlled manner - meant that plans were not in place for directing people out of the city. The buses that are now finally taking people out of the city should have been running before the hurricane. How many people might not be able to fully grasp the whole evacuation thing? A rough measure of the cognitive skills of the population based on published test results, such as SAT's, NAEP scores, could probably be a pretty good guide in the future.