Friday, September 30

scooter & judy

When I was little I was buddies with a neighborhood kid named Scooter Barry. His dad, Rick Barry, played for the Golden State Warriors. Scooter grew up big and strong and played basketball at the University of Kansas and was a member of their 1986 National Championship team.

Why do I mention this? I have no idea. Especially since it has absolutely nothing to do with the Judy Miller thing, other than we now know that her source is a guy also named Scooter--Scooter Libby--Vice President Cheney's Chief Of Staff.

This whole thing is a big sham if you ask me. Miller went to jail for three months--even though Libby gave her permission to name him as her source--to 'protect' Libby as the secret source in the Valerie Plame/Joe Wilson affair? Why the hell would she do that? To prove that she's a great journalist? To show how tough she is?

If the MSM wasn't so damn arrogant they might actually be embarrassed that the world now knows that they wasted untold hours of airtime, ink, paper and space assuming (and opining) that Miller's source was Karl Rove.

Like I said. It's total B.S.

dresden, germany

Gerhard Schroeder's own party has deserted him in his great moment of need--right ahead of Sunday's elections--in the east German city of Dresden. Merkel looks like a shoe-in as Chancellor.

Thursday, September 29

17,000 acres

The fire started yesterday off the 118 Freeway in Chatsworth, which is in the San Fernando Valley, north of Los Angeles.

The concern is that if the fire jumps the 101 Freeway, it could burn all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

new low

Historically, Supreme Court nominees have been voted for as long as they were highly qualified people. The ideology didn't matter as much as tradition and decorum.

The fact that 22 Democrats voted against the confirmation of John Roberts as Chief Justice today shows the depths of behavioral depravity to which the Democrats have decided to sink.

Evan Bayh of Indiana
Joseph Biden of Delaware
Barbara Boxer of California
Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York
Jon Corzine of New Jersey
Mark Dayton of Minnesota
Dick Durbin of Illinois
Dianne Feinstein of California
Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts
John Kerry of Massachusetts
Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey
Barbara Mikulski of Maryland
Barack Obama of Illinois
Harry Reid of Nevada
Charles Schumer of New York
Debbie Stabenow of Michigan
Jack Reed of Rhode Island
Tom Harkin of Iowa
Daniel Inouye of Hawaii
Paul Sarbanes of Maryland
Maria Cantwell of Washington
Daniel Akaka of Hawaii

I salute the 22 fair minded Democrats and 1 Independent that voted yes.

Max Baucus of Montana
Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico
Robert Byrd of West Virginia
Kent Conrad of North Dakota
Russ Feingold of Wisconsin
Tim Johnson of South Dakota
Herb Kohl of Wisconsin
Mary Landrieu of Louisiana
Patrick Leahy of Vermont
Ben Nelson of Nebraska
Bill Nelson of Florida
Mark Pryor of Arkansas
Ken Salazar of Colorado
Christopher Dodd of Connecticut
Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut
Byron Dorgan of North Dakota
Carl Levin of Michigan
Ron Wyden of Oregon
Tom Carper of Delaware
Patty Murray of Washington
Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas
James Jeffords (I) of Vermont

the convertible diaries

I'm a social guy, always talking to people. When you have a convertible, people talk to you. I love that.

I also love the wind in my hair. I've stopped combing my hair in the morning. Really. What's the point?

I love the fact that I don't need air conditioning, even though it's 95 degrees.

I love that the stereo totally rocks and sounds great, even on the freeway at 80MPH.

I love that I can talk on my cellphone, while the stereo is cranked and I'm on the freeway doing 80MPH.

I feel like a bird, gliding through the air, completely free.

I'm not looking forward to getting my 330i back, either.

the good, the bad & the ugly

The Good. Introducing Chief Justice John Glover Roberts, Jr., who was confirmed 78-22 by the Senate this morning. Roberts, after lunching with the President, will be sworn in this afternoon in the East Room at the White House in a ceremony called 'investitures,' which are the two oaths Justices take, one to uphold the Constitution, the other to fairly judge the rich and the poor. Then work starts bright and early Monday morning.

The Bad. Ronnie Earle, the Austin, Texas District Attorney (pictured above with McGruff the Crime Dog) has been trying to grind his axe across the reputation of Tom DeLay for years. Earle, a bitterly partisan Democrat, is known for throwing around accusations without much evidence. Back in 1993, the case he brought against Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison was dismissed. Earle is a hack, nothing more. He's also the star of a new documentary, "The Big Buy." Click on the above link for more info from Byron York @ National Review.

The Ugly. Events on the ground in Baghdad today leaving 60 dead and injuring 70 others. Three car bombs went off near a bank and a market. And in the town of Ramadi, a roadside bomb killed five American soldiers.

More Ugly. Predictably, U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein ruled today that the US must release never before seen Abu Ghraib photographs. Way to go, Hellerstein. You've just handed the enemy a big victory.

Wednesday, September 28

fire season

I hate fire season in Southern California. Untold thousands suffer because of abandoned campfires, undistinguished cigarettes or deranged arsonists.

robert f. kennedy, jr.

My buddy Brian from Radio Equalizer turned me on to this rant from the intellectual lightweight and Air America weekend host Robert F. Kennedy. His father must be rolling over in his grave at the stupidity of his son.

Read the above link for a good chuckle.

black homeownership & poverty stats

Bill O'Reilly is always talking about how African American homeownership is up and poverty among blacks is down under President Bush.

But guess what? I can't find the stats to back up those claims on the web. Don't get me wrong. I believe that both of those claims are true. I've heard the President say it, Limbaugh says it, Fox News is always talking about it. But I can't find the hard data anywhere.

I know, I know. You Left wing nuts are going to post comments and say 'c'mon Kent. You're just a Republican shill. Citing O'Reilly, Rush, Bush and Fox News doesn't count. Get some REAL news sources,' they'll say.

The thing is that NPR, the Big Three Networks, PBS, CNN and the New York Times aren't likely to report positive domestic news about the Bush Administration because doing so would go against their ideology.

So, back on point, that fact that I can't find stats on the above means either one of two things. [1.] those two statements are untrue, or more likely, [2.] the Left wing press doesn't report that type of information out of fear that it will aid Bush and the GOP.

Which one of those scenarios seems more reasonable to you?

Regarding the poverty claim, O'Reilly says that when comparing the economy under Clinton to the Bush economy one will find a full percentage point decrease, 35.7% to 34.7%.

I'll keep searching. Your feedback is encouraged and needed.

don't call me

When I signed up for the Do Not Call Registry in 2003 I thought my problems were over.

You know how it is. You sit down for dinner and just as you're raising that first spoonful of food to your mouth, the telemarketer calls. But that Registry, it was supposed to change all that.

I'll admit to the fact that the telemarketing calls have decreased a bit, but lately I've been getting more calls. I always ask, 'why are you calling me? My name is on that list. The do-not-call thing.'

And they say, 'oh, sir, that doesn't apply to us, because' blah, blah, blah. That's when I ask them to repeat their name and company affiliation.

Then I say, 'Congratulations. You and your company are now a part of my class action lawsuit.' Then I hang up.

Today's WSJ had an interesting piece about the Do Not Call Registry. Did you know, for example, that in the two years since the Registry took effect that only four Federal fines have been levied against offending companies by the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission, the two agencies that administer the program?

Only fourteen lawauits have been filed by the FTC/FCC on behalf on consumers.

That being said, I think it's time we fight back. The Journal article mentions four ways to 'shield yourself' from the onslaught of the telephone sharks.

[1.] Sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry @ DoNotCall.gov or call 888.382.1222.

[2.] When those bastards do call, tell them to take you off their list. By law, companies must maintain a list of customers that have requested not to be called.

[3.] Sign up for your state's Do Not Call list. Fair warning, some charge a fee.

[4.] Get on the industry's list @ DMAConsumers.org/cgi/offtelephone.

radio

It's always fascinated me. I've always been a fan of the disc jockey, the clever things they say in such a short amount of time. I've always been interested in how they cue those songs up just perfectly every time.

Back in the '80s, I would go to Dallas to visit my family and I would just totally dig on this one rock station, Q102. They played the obligatory Ozzy, Journey, Bad Company and Van Halen, but they branched out into Asia, The Fixx, Duran Duran and INXS too. I thought this one DJ, a guy named Drake, was the coolest dude ever.

Today radio is different. Regardless of what kind of music stations play, everything is homogenized because of corporate ownership. Everything sounds the same. With technology like voice tracking your 'local' DJ is 'local' in 12 other different markets.

DJ's don't play records or CD's anymore. Now they play computers. No more cueing up the records on the turntable to fire at just the right time. Now it's easy. Today stations have their entire music libraries on the hard drives of computers. Everything is automated, with commercials, loaded onto a PC and then released over the airwaves.

In San Diego we have 91X. Click on the link above to hear about the station's long and rich history. From 1983 to 1996, 91X was one of the COOLEST stations in the country. It's fallen on hard times lately because it was owned by Clear Channel. They completely sucked the life, the creativity out of it. The playlist became mundane and narrow. The DJ's were all terrible, and many of them were 'voice tracked' to other Clear Channel stations around the country. The imaging of the station--those little voices and recordings you hear between songs and commercials, what I call the 'personality' of a radio station--was AWFUL.

Thankfully, 91X is under new, actually old, management. In fact, the people who ran the station when it rocked are back in charge. The imaging is back to the familiar voice of the past and it's a totally different station. Welcome back Kevin Stapleford.

San Diego also has FM 94.9. I love what the station stands for: Music. Their battle cry is 'it's about the music.' I love their program director, my old buddy Mike Halloran, who used to work at 91X. He and Anya Marina are the best DJ's in town. Oh and Midori is hot, too. Her show 'Big Sonic Chill' is a must listen. But the other jocks just talk and talk and talk. They won't shut up. Do I really care who sang 'I Fought The Law' before the Clash?

No. If you want to be 'about the music' then shut the hell up already. If you want to talk, then at least say something interesting. Don't tell me that you like the song 'Love In A Trash Can' because of the cool guitar intro. I don't care.

It used to be that wherever I happened to be in California, I was covered with cool radio stations. Live 105 in San Francisco, 91X in SD, KROQ in Los Angeles and KWOD in Sacramento. If I found myself someplace else, the CD player in my car was going to really get a vigorous workout.

KROQ remains the coolest station in the country, primarily because of location. They break all the music first, get all the celebs in studio, etc. KROQ is a taste maker, no question. They've also been the launch pad for a bunch of people you might know. People like Jimmy Kimmel, Carson Daly and Adam Corolla.

KWOD has been cool for as long as I can remember and that's really saying something because Sacramento is a cow town. This past weekend when I was up north, I noticed that KWOD is not KWOD anymore. New format, like an 'Unplugged Alternative' thing and new, sucky DJ's.

I guess I can trade KWOD for the new and improved 91X, huh?

'the tom delay show'

Finally. An indictment. It's about time. I've been disgusted for the past, what, 12 months, 15 months, as the Democrats pounded away at DeLay in typical Liberal fashion--blind accusations without concrete evidence.

Now that the House Majority Leader has been charged we can really get down to business, specific business, as to whether DeLay is dirty or not on this campaign finance deal.

Of course, it is worth noting that the indictment was brought by a guy named Ronnie Earle, who just happens to be the biggest DeLay-Hater on the planet. He's been delving, snooping, looking [and quite likely inventing] for ANYTHING, any kind of dirt.

We'll be hearing all about what Earle's got on 'ol Tommy D, too, because the coverage on this case is going to be wall to wall, gavel to gavel, non-stop, full tilt, 24/7--even if the charges are flimsy--on the cable channel, news magazine, daily newspaper and blog of your choice from now to November 2006. Or until DeLay moves back to Texas.

Meantime, DeLay has 'temporarily stepped aside' his leadership role in Congress, which will most likely be given over to California Representative David Dreier, a really good dude, BTW.

Regardless of DeLay's guilt or innocence, I think it's about damn time to get rid all of these people who have been in Congress for all these years. It's time to kick all these dinosaurs out, people on both sides of the political aisle.

I don't think the Founders intended for people like DeLay, Lott, Cochran, Hatch, Specter, Byrd, Biden, Leahy, Kennedy, and many, many others, to make a career out of politics. Bob Byrd of West Virginia was first elected to the Senate in 1958!

The intent was for good people to serve for a very limited time, go home and allow others to serve.

Only when the old guard gone will it be possible to clean up the mess and change the rules--rules these guys have written for themselves so they can remain in power--and elect new blood, no people to lead us into the future.

New leaders, with new ideas.

Tuesday, September 27

'quite happy with the outcome'

Killing them before they can kill us. That's just good strategy.

Let's celebrate the death of Abu Azzam who is (or was) the top aide to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq.

A US spokesman said "Azzam had been tracked for some time, and his death was a "significant development."

"This shows that we are actively going after the network. We've taken down the number two in the network and that is going to have an impact," Lt Col Steve Boylan said.

"And whoever replaces him as number two, we will go after him as well."

washing my hands

I can't stop thinking about something that happened to me last weekend in Northern California.

My buddy and I went to this micro brew place. Nice porter too. I had six or seven, can't remember exactly. Before I got too hammered I was noticing this couple and their son. The little guy was really cute, maybe two or three years old. BTW, I love kids. But I hate it when parents allow their children to run wild in a public place. It's rude and inconsiderate to other patrons.

As I watched this kid run all around this bar--a very adult place--for about an hour, I got really angry. I just couldn't hold my tongue a second longer, so I told the lady her son was cute and everything, but that he really needed to sit down and be quiet.

Later, I ran into the husband and the tyke in the bathroom. On my way to the stall I noticed that the little bastard had messed his pants, so the Dad was cleaning him up. In the sink. IN THE SINK. There were two sinks, so the kid was sitting in one and the father was tossing the soiled paper towels in the other. It was a mess.

I went to the bathroom and then when I came out I expected to be able to wash my hands. Nope. The asshole had left the mess in both sinks.

When I got back out to the bar I told the guy to clean up his mess and we got into this big thing. He claimed he didn't leave a mess, then he got into my face. INTO MY FACE telling me I was rude.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

The point to this story is that I've traveled all over and seen a bunch of different people, different situations, etc. I thought I'd seen it all, or close to it, but I'd never seen anything like that.

remains

Bone fragments found on the roof of the Deutsche Bank building in NYC are thought to possibly be the remains of people who died in the neighboring World Trade Center collapse.

MORE later.

just one quick political thing

I heard Hillary Clinton speaking to a NAACP group and she was SPEAKING WITH A SOUTHERN ACCENT all of a sudden.

She was saying 'Ya know...I usedta live in Arkansaw...and we dyid thangs diff'rent dahn thar...'

Pandering to the black folks...That's what Democrats do.

my new convertible

Okay, so it's not mine. It's a loaner from the dealer. My car is in the shop all week due to this freak thing, and so they gave me a blue Z4 BMW.

blackberry

I'm a gadget guy, like most guys are. But I don't have a Blackberry. Yet. But I'm sure it's only a matter of time.

And convenience. First, I'm a Mac user, and Blackberry, like most everything else, runs on Windows. Now, I may be wrong about the BB's operating system--my readers will tell me if I am, as always--but last time I checked, there wasn't any Mac compatibility.

I read this morning in WSJ that Microsoft and Palm have teamed up against Blackberry and their parent company, Research In Motion (RIM). I love that because I'm a big Microsoft shareholder and they always seem to inject themselves into the marketplace and make money. I used to be a RIM shareholder, but like a total freaking idiot, I sold my shares at $42. Then they promptly jumped to $110. Bloody brilliant, right?

Anyway...I'm so sick of politics I could scream...

Monday, September 26

DIRTY POLITICS

My buddy John Fund writes a great piece today about the rampant corruption in Louisiana politics.

I have high hopes that the scope of the Katrina disaster will cleanse, at least, Southern Louisiana of some of the slugs that inhabit elected office.

Note the quote from former ABC talking head Cokie Roberts about how former Governor Edwin Edwards should be released early from jail 'because he knows how to get things done.'

That's funny. And actually true. He was a 'can-do' guy. Edwards was Governor when I moved to the state in 1980. He used to take big trips to France with all his cronies, party his ass off, then stick Louisiana taxpayers with the bill.

HAPPY MONDAY

Poland has elected a center right government, which, if polls hold true, will be led by a man named Donald Tusk.

The destruction, the killing, raping, the body count in New Orleans seems to have been badly exagerated. That's good news.

There's a rumor this morning, based on a hint dropped by President Bush, that's he has chosen 'a diverse' candidate for the O'Connor vacancy on the Supreme Court. Presumably, this means he's going to pick a minority or a woman, for the seat, further cementing the Republican majority.

Meanwhile, the ultra Left continues to make themselves look ridiculous. Cindy Sheehan has been arrested at the White House and policy wonk Barbra Streisand declares that there is a 'global warming emergency,' in a new interview with Diane Sawyer.

Vice President Cheney had a successful surgery over the weekend.

And I'm back in San Diego after a quick weekend jaunt to Northern California. Thanks to my homie Rooster for being the host with the most, beverages, that is. I drank all the good stuff, notably Pilsner Urquell. He even got me hooked on Pitch Black II Mountain Dew.

Flying in last night my plane took a protracted path around the city. You know what? Sometimes you forget just how beautiful this town is. And as always, it's good to be home.

Then I met this totally gorgeous girl at the airport...

Saturday, September 24

NOT AS BAD AS KATRINA

Thankfully, Rita wasn't as bad as Katrina.

Not that the storm wasn't bad. It was, and people lost homes and property.

But judged against typical standards, Rita would have been considered a deadly storm. But after roaring ashore, and causing damage in Louisiana and Texas, it is headed toward my old hometown, Shreveport, LA.

Friday, September 23

NON-STORY

I was happy to leave San Diego this weekend because of the continual, overbearing and silly sports hype--actually, non-hype--between Eli Manning and the San Diego Chargers.

Manning, the top pick in the NFL draft, what, two years ago, declared publicly that he didn't want to play for the Chargers. So, after drafting him, San Diego traded him to the New York Giants. End of story?

Yeah, for me it was. But when you've got a deadline you gotta write about something.

All week long, the San Diego Union-Tribune sports page has been cram-jammed with B.S. about how Manning dissed San Diego, how he insulted the city, the team, the fans. 'How dare Eli not want to play in San Diego,' 'Arrogant Son,'blah, blah, blah.

Remembering back, had I been Eli, there was no way I would have wanted to play for the Bolts, either. Oh sure, the commute home would have been a piece of cake. Just drive straight north on the 15.

But on the negative side, the team sucked then. Bad offensive line. Few offensive weapons. The organization has consistently been one of the worst in football. Perennial losers, except for last year when they made the playoffs. Alex Spanos, a great Republican but a terrible NFL owner, is a cheap bastard. No way he would have paid Eli top-draft-pick-money. And I can only describe Coach Marty Schottenheimer, choker that he is, as washed up, at best.

No wonder Eli preferred the Giants. At least he gets paid.

Thursday, September 22

ROBERTS, 13-5

YES: Russ Feingold, WI

NO: Diane Feinstein, CA; Joe Biden, DE; Teddy Kennedy, MA; Chuck Schumer, NY; Dick Durbin, IL.

AND--Surprise, surprise, Boxer and Clinton, both pledge to vote 'no' on Roberts next week.

'UNDERSTANDING STRATEGY'

I've long believed President Bush to be 'the smartest person in the room,' but now here's a guy--Thomas Lifson--who says the same thing.

FRIENDLY SKIES

It never fails. Whenever I fly I make a new friend.

Today, I flew from San Diego to Northern California. I had the image of the JetBlue plane doing the emergency landing @ LAX with the sparks and everything in my mind, too.

When I check in at the terminal, they told me that the plane was 20 minutes late due to engine problems. 'Oh really?' I said. 'I'll be in the bar,' I said.

I went to the bar, where I met Brian and Brianna, newlyweds. He is a Marine. She is a personal trainer.

That's right. I said personal trainer.

Turns out Brian was in on the Jessica Lynch rescue in Iraq. I press but he doesn't want to talk about it.

'That's cool,' I say.

I get on the plane and I settle in my seat. I look up and see the Newlyweds. They join me.

Once we get in the air, over peanuts, I begin probing again about the Lynch Affair.

'He loves talking about it,' Brianna says.

I can't divulge exactly what Brian told me, but he told me some pretty sensitive information. It must have been the beer talking.

This guy has seen extensive action in his 11 years in the Corps. Afghanistan. Iraq. Numerous tours in both countries. He was mainly responsible for keeping his craft in the air, as well as being a gunnery, among other duties.

'Do you like President Bush?' I asked.

Brian: 'Yeah. He raised our pay. I can finally buy a house.'

'Do you guys kill civilians?' I asked.

Brian: 'I don't know. They don't wear uniforms. If they are civilians, I don't feel bad about it. They killed our civilians in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania, without giving it a second thought.'

But on to important questions.

'Are you a nutrionist?' I ask Brianna.

Brianna: 'I am.'

'I'm prepping for a film. You know the camera adds ten pounds?' I tell her.

Brianna: 'That's what I understand. But I don't think you need to lose weight, Kent.'

I love this girl. And to think, she was SINGLE ONE MONTH AGO. Dammit.

And with that, we were landing. We swapped cell phone numbers and promised to get together this next week before they are promoted to Pensacola, Florida.

This trip I actually made two friends.

Wednesday, September 21

'STRONGER THAN KATRINA'

COVERUP?

The Pentagon doesn't want the Able Danger people testifying. Could it be that their testimony would reveal that the Government, under Bill Clinton, had all the information about al Qaeda, the USS Cole and 9/11 and failed to act?

Remember the 9/11 Hearings? The Commission wanted every document, every witness. The American public 'had to know everything,' right? Condi Rice testified at length. They tried to hang responsibility for 9/11 on the Bush Administration, even though they had only been in office eight months. (refer to above link)

Now there's a very high probability, with the Able Danger program, that the Clinton Administration had detailed information about what was coming--not only to the Cole, but also on that beautiful tuesday morning in September 2001--and did nothing.

HOLY CRAP

The flashing woke me up from a deep sleep. I rolled over in bed and looked toward the bay windows. My blinds were closed but the entire room was bathed in light.

Then came the thunder. For the next three hours, it was crack and flash continuously.

This type of weather is highly unusual for Southern California. We get thunderstorms, of course, but out in the deserts, not in the cities. I've lived here for twenty years and I've never experienced the barrage of electricity. It reminded me of growing up in Oklahoma and Louisiana.

LEAHY

I'm surprised that Vermont Senator Leahy is going to vote to confirm Roberts.

"I respect those who have come to different conclusions, and I readily acknowledge the unknowable at this moment, that perhaps they are right and I am wrong. Only time will tell. All of us will vote this month but only later will we know if Judge Roberts proves to be the kind of chief justice he says he would be, if he truly will be his own man."

Thus far it's Reid and Kennedy voting no on confirmation; Nelson, Baucus, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, and now Leahy, voting to confirm.

Tomorrow the Judiciary Committee votes on Roberts. Then next week the vote goes before the full Senate.

Tuesday, September 20

HERE SHE COMES

OBSTRUCTIONIST REID

Breitbart reports that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is going to vote against confirming John Roberts as the Chief Justice to the Supreme Court.

Reid claims his 'no' vote is due to his concern over Roberts' commitment to civil rights and the 'stonewalling' of the White House in producing documents that might 'shed light on Roberts' views.'

B.S. Alert. The White House has released--according to Arlen Specter--over 70,000 Roberts-related documents, which is an unprecedented amount of information. If Reid needs more info he can go to the National Archives like everyone else.

As for the civil rights positions of Judge Roberts, the Senator must not have been listening to the testimony last week. Roberts is a strict constructionist--a person who believes in following--not amending--the Constitution. As such, Roberts is all about civil rights.

Meanwhile, other Democrats like Nebraska's Ben Nelson and Montana's Max Baucus say they intend to vote for Roberts.

NORTH KOREA: WAIT TIL NOVEMBER

Reagan said it best: "Trust but verify."

I'm a advertising guy. I love short, punchy, pithy headlines. So, when it comes to North Korea and that freak Kim Jong Il, my tagline would be "Verify."

Yesterday, the word came that the six party talks had succeeded. North Korea had agreed to abandon it's nuclear program. Cool right?

Ah, not so cool because nothing is going to happen until November. That's when the negotiators will tackle the many unresolved matters, most notably North Korea's so called 'right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.'

The lead editorial in today's WSJ explains the entire six party talks, who said what and exactly how everything went down.

BTW, noted at the end of the piece is praise for Bush that he wisely resisted pressure from many on the Left to hold unilateral talks with North Korea, which of course, was exactly what Jong Il wanted. A seat at the table with the US, a country he fears but doesn't respect. In the end, it was the presence of their big neighbor China at the table, a country North Korea fears AND respects, that made the difference.

OPTIMISM

The always fabulous Claudia Rosett writes a beautifully optimistic column in today' WSJ. It is well worth reading.

BRINGING ON THE POLITICS

"Katrina is a symbol of all this administration does and doesn't do. Michael Brown--or Brownie as the President so famously thanked him for doing a heck of a job--Brownie is to Katrina what Paul Bremer is to peace in Iraq; what George Tenet is to slam dunk intelligence; what Paul Wolfowitz is to parades paved with flowers in Baghdad; what Dick Cheney is to visionary energy policy; what Donald Rumsfeld is to basic war planning; what Tom Delay is to ethics; and what George Bush is to “Mission Accomplished” and "Wanted Dead or Alive." The bottom line is simple: The "we'll do whatever it takes" administration doesn't have what it takes to get the job done.

This is the Katrina administration.

It has consistently squandered time, tax dollars, political capital, and even risked American lives on sideshow adventures: A war of choice in Iraq against someone who had nothing to do with 9/11; a full scale presidential assault on Social Security when everyone knows the real crisis is in health care--Medicare and Medicaid. And that's before you get to willful denial on global warming; avoidance on competitiveness; complicity in the loss and refusal of health care to millions."

The blame game continues from the Left. Note that Kerry didn't offer any solutions, only vitriol, in his remarks from a speech at Brown University. Parts of the speech were included in a fundraising email sent to supporters.

WHAT TO DO?

I heard 'America's Mayor' Ray Nagin yesterday when he encouraged the residents of New Orleans to return to the city. According to Nagin's plan, "the Garden District, the French Quarter and Uptown were supposed to reopen one ZIP code at a time between Wednesday and next Monday, bringing about 180,000 of New Orleans' half-million inhabitants back."

'What the hell?' I said to myself yesterday. 'Doesn't this guy know about Tropical Storm Rita?' The storm track looked as if she might be headed directly for the Louisiana and Texas. And today, TUESDAY, we call Rita a category 2 hurricane.

Then President Bush spoke. A reporter asked him about Mayor Nagin and his earlier comments.

"The mayor--you know, he's got this dream about having a city up and running, and we share that dream," Bush said. "But we also want to be realistic about some of the hurdles and obstacles that we all confront in repopulating New Orleans."

Then Nagin changed his mind. Apparently he got a call from the fine folks at the Weather Channel.

"Now we have conditions that have changed. We have another hurricane that is approaching us," Nagin said Monday.

What a leader.

Mayor Nagin, please tender your resignation, effective October 1.

THREE CHAIRS

Gerhard Schroeder is claiming that he should remain the German Chancellor because he leads in some opinion polls.

Why does that matter? Polls are easily manipulated. Undoubtedly there are just as many polls that show Merkel leading Schroeder.

This is all so familiar isn't it? I can just hear Al Bore bitching about 2000. 'I WUN the popular vote.'

Angie Merkel, with her three seat advantage in Parliament, is the winner of the German election. End of story.

Don't let the door hit you in the kiester, Mr. Schroeder. For the good of the Deutschland, walk away immediately.

KEPT DOWN

I want to share some thoughts with you about race in the aftermath of the Katrina disaster.

I have always believed, and witnessed firsthand, that good always comes out of tragedy. It's true everywhere, but especially so in America. Whenever something bad happens, we come together as a country. We mourn together, we unite and we rebuild. This happens regardless of our religious beliefs, our educational backgrounds, our sexual preference and our skin color.

I believe that history will show that Hurricane Katrina was one of the best things to ever happen to the city of New Orleans and for poverty in the United States. That's a big statement.

But we are not there yet.

For decades, the African American community has chosen to follow leaders that didn't necessarily have their best interests in mind. Black devils like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan and others who have benefited financially by creating (and maintaining) an entire cottage industry that keeps a large percentage of inner city blacks uneducated and uninformed.

Multi millionaire Jackson has been extorting money from corporate America for thirty years. He strong-armed Budweiser into giving two of his sons lucrative beer distributorships in Chicago. Sharpton attaches himself to every Left wing cause de jour, the latest being the phony Cindy Sheehan anti-war spectacle. And Farrakhan has alleged that President Bush and the Federal Government blew a 25 foot gash in the levees that 'protected' the poorest areas of New Orleans.

Keep in mind that if blacks don't hate whites, then Jackson, Sharpton and Farrakhan lose their money and their power, so it is incumbent on them to stoke the fires of anger and hatred.

Driving into the office this morning, I heard an intelligent African American woman named Cynthia call into the Limbaugh show. A black Republican woman living in Brooklyn, no less!

Cynthia spoke articulately about how the Democrats patronize black people. It was refreshing to hear a black woman tell her story about growing up in the projects and how she heard everyday that white people wanted to keep black people down. Then when she grew up and went to college she discovered that white people didn't want to keep anybody down. In fact, everyone, she learned, was primarily concerned with doing their own thing, whether that was getting an education, advancing in a chosen career, raising a family, whatever.

She spoke about how much she has always resented the notion that black people are seen by the Left as children to be taken care of. Democrats have been treating the black community as if it can't be responsible for itself for decades, and as such there is an entire generation of African Americans that are totally reliant on the Federal Government.

This has never been more apparent than in the aftermath of Katrina. You saw people walking around New Orleans, dazed and confused, waiting for someone to tell them what to do. No minds, no ideas of their own. Just people waiting, like cattle, to be told where to go and what to do.

In my optimism I think that a big light has now been shed on the product of big city Liberalism: the extreme poor of New Orleans, who simply couldn't get out of the path of a category 5 hurricane. Their local and state governments, on whom they have depended, failed them.

The nation and the world now have seen the results of inner city Liberalism and the faces of the Black Devils. We are all going to be better people and a better country now because of what has happened in the Gulf.

14-13

Will I ever learn?

Given the history of ABC's Monday Night Football, you'd think I'd watch the game until the end, wouldn't you?

Back in '03, the Bucs were crushing the Colts so I went to bed. The next morning the sports page screams 'greatest comeback EVER.' Indy scored four touchdowns in the fourth quarter and I missed it.

I promised myself that very day that I would never again miss the end of a Monday night game. And then last night I did it again.

The Cowboys were dominating the Redskins all night. A low scoring game. Dallas got on the board early with a field goal. It was 3-0 until the third quarter when Drew Bledsoe connected on a long TD pass to Joey Galloway. They added another field goal to make it 13-0.

I was bored so I started channel surfing. I caught some O'Reilly and a bit of Brit Hume on Fox. I took the dog out. When I came back in I flipped on ESPN and SONOFAB-! The Redskins rallied and scored two TD's late in the game.

Monday, September 19

RITA

Now upgraded to a Category 2 storm.

GOOD MONDAY MORNING

There is good news all around this morning.

Let's see here. Free elections yesterday in Afghanistan.

The water is going to be sucked out of New Orleans by the end of this week.

And North Korea has agreed to suspend its nuclear program, although I disagree with the pledge we had to make 'to respect the sovereignty' of the regime of Kim Jong Il.

Maybe President Cheney and Vice President Rice will force regime change in Pyongyang in 2009.

GERMAN DEADLOCK

The best that Angie Merkel and the Christian Democrats could do was to get 35.2% of yesterday's vote to Gerhard Schroeder's 34.3%?

"I feel I have a mandate to ensure that in the next four years there will be a stable government in our country under my leadership." So said Gerhard Schroeder yesterday. He lost but claims that he won.

So I was wrong last week when I predicted Merkel and the CDP would get a governing majority. She didn't, and they didn't. But she still received more votes than Schroeder.

Hard to believe that a nation wouldn't wholeheartedly endorse a flat tax, isn't it?

he Economist attempts to frame the election result as 'a surprise,' an odd assertion to make since opinion polls have been showing a big Schroeder surge the last two weeks.

What is maddening to me is that idea that radical economic reforms lost the majority for Merkel. It didn't. Schroeder made up ground in the final days of the campaign with his criticism of Merkel economic advisor Paul Kirchhof, a judge turned professor, who favors, in the words of the Economist, 'radical tax reform.'

Hell, I'd favor radical tax reform if I lived in Germany, too.

The fact is that Europeans are just too deeply entrenched in welfare state bliss. With all of their state sanctioned benefits firmly in place, there's no incentive to work or to be self reliant.

Friday, September 16

NO TAX HIKES

Hundreds of billions of dollars are being donated to the Gulf Coast. Why the hell do we need to raise taxes?

Leave it to some stupid politicians to punish the generosity of the American people.

GOODBYE KYOTO, HELLO NUCLEAR ENERGY

The Kyoto Protocol just got a reality check. It's bogus. Glorified junk science. And Tony Blair said so yesterday.

That is indeed big news. Blair was in Manhattan yesterday attending something called the 'Clinton Global Initiative' when he warned the audience that he was going to get 'brutally honest.' Then he said the following:

"My thinking [about Kyoto] has changed in the past three or four years. No country is going to cut its growth."

That's exactly what I've been saying for six years. No responsible country, anyway, would knowingly kill its own economy. That's just dumb. Almost as dumb as asking a country to do damage to itself for the sake of some unproven and patently silly idea cooked up by some leftover hippie radicals.

The always amusing Jim Pinkerton writes @ TechCentralStation.com that the 42nd President kicked off his wonky-glitzy extravaganza by announcing that the event would be "climate neutral." That is, the CGI--described as a global forum for world leaders when it was actually an event underwritten by a couple of fatcats so they could get some onstage face time with Clinton--would "offset" the CO2 produced by this event by "investing in renewable energy projects in Native American lands and in rural Nigerian villages."

Instead Blair contradicted and upstaged his friend Clinton at his own shindig. Can't you just hear Bubba sayin' 'Shazam!'

Secretary of State Condi Rice was also dropped by the CGI to say that 'nuclear energy is going to have to be part of the mix' of any future world power policy.

"France generates something like 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear power." Oooh. Ahhh. Imagine all the Liberal hand wringing over proliferation. "While there most certainly are risks, in the fast-developing world, we have to find a way to leverage all power," Rice said.

BAD BRANDING

I could not possibly have a lower opinion of Time Warner Cable. They suck and they have absolutely no incentive to improve their service or their product offerings because people like me, who live in a particular area, are a captive audience. I'm an inmate in the worst prison imaginable.

My sucky television reality is further complicated by the fact that my neighborhood has an extremely tough home owner's association. The rules are so strict we're not even allowed to have satellite television because the powers-that-be believe that a Dish Network or Direct TV dish on the roof would be an eyesore.

How much do I hate Time Warner Cable? How much time do you have?

I hate the fact that my digital cable box, or I should say my 12th digital cable box, always needs to be re-programmed. I hate the fact that one out of three televisions that I have in the house always looks 'snowy.' I hate that the high definition signal always cuts in and out whenever I watch sports. I hate the fact that I have to have three digital boxes on all three of my tv's in order to watch HBO in bed. That sucks. I hate the fact that I get that annoying pixelization onscreen all the time. I hate the fact that Time Warner's service technicians don't all know the same stuff. Apparently there is a learning curve amongst the service department because I learn something new every time one of these bozos comes to the house. I hate the fact that ESPN in high def costs $29.95 a month. Just ESPN HD. And I hate the fact that I now have to pay extra for the Discovery Channel, which brings my monthly bill to $80.

Dish Network just sent me a thing that says I would only pay $31.99 a month. Maybe I'll kick Time Warner to the curb and figure out a way to rig a thing on my roof to hide a satellite dish so the homeowner's association Nazis can't see that I'm violating the rules.

ORATOR-IN-CHIEF

As it turned out my cable was working last night so I was able to catch Dubya live from New Orleans.

I think President Bush gives great speeches. I always have and he always does. The mangled syntax, the facial ticks, the periodic stutter only makes him better because it illustrates that he's a real person. Give me the real guy every time instead of a phony, polished, plastic politician.

Last night ranked right up there with the early 9/11 speeches. Bold, confident, logical, progressive and steadfast. Bush is one of those people who is at his best during and after a crisis. He rises to the challenge, which is good because challenging is the perfect adjective to describe what it is going to be like rebuilding the Gulf Coast.

The speech last night seemed to be about 30% FDR andLBJ, and 70% Compassionate Conservatism. The Gulf Opportunity Zone, the Federal Aid money to displaced residents, the temporary housing, the necessary and unavoidable rebuilding of the entire region, making things better than they were before Katrina.

As I wrote yesterday, there are a lot of great things already happening down in the Gulf. The President spoke of those things:

"The work of recovery is moving forward. In nearly all of Mississippi, electric power has been restored. Trade is starting to return to the Port of New Orleans, and agricultural shipments are moving down the Mississippi River. All major gasoline pipelines are now in operation, preventing the supply disruptions that many feared. The breaks in the levees have been closed, the pumps are running, and the water here in New Orleans is receding by the hour. Environmental officials are on the ground, taking water samples, identifying and dealing with hazardous debris, and working to get drinking water and waste water treatment systems operating again. And some very sad duties are being carried out by professionals who gather the dead, treat them with respect, and prepare them for their rest."

I hate to be talking about legacy here, but there was the eradication of poverty thing in the speech last night, which would be one of the most remarkable achievements in the history of mankind. Bush's face automatically goes up on Rushmore if he gets that done.

Bush said:

The "deep, persistent 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."

As I predicted yesterday, the President that 'New Orleans will rise again.' I thought the best line of the speech was 'You can't picture America without New Orleans.'

The President took responsibility again, not placing blame on the incompetent Louisiana officials. As frequent R.F.L. reader Melissa H. says 'the fact that he [Bush] said that he takes full responsibility made my heart soar. He didn't blame Nagin. He didn't blame Blanco. He didn't blame FEMA. That is a REAL MAN.'

When Bush said 'I also want to know all the facts about the government response to Hurricane Katrina,' I remember thinking that those words would never be uttered by a Democrat. He went on to say 'I, as President, am responsible for the problem, and for the solution.'

The post-speech reaction was good too. From what I saw, the speech was well received, with Gulf Coast residents not only loving what they heard and supporting the President's plans, but also faulting local and state officials for the lackluster disaster response instead of the Federal Government.

One comment from an African American woman was, and I paraphrase, 'The Federal Government has given Louisiana plenty of money, but it wasn't used as it was intended. And everyone here knows it.'

Bush scored a touchdown last night and the country should be proud.

Thursday, September 15

POTTY BREAK

Reuters published a photograph of President Bush as he scribbled a note to Condi Rice yesterday at the United Nations. Bush wrote 'I think I may need a bathroom break? Is this possible?'

The very fact that Reuters, a Left leaning news organization, would publish this photo is outrageous and unprofessional. It just shows the depths the anti-Bush press will sink to in order to reinforce their hatred of him and to embarass them. Instead, Reuters has only embarrassed itself.

You and I can just get up and go do our business, no fanfare necessary. It is just a bit more complicated for the President to go to the bathroom and a bunch of preparations must be made in order for him to visit the restroom. It's not like he can just duck into the men's room and take a leak.

And it's not like this stuff just happens on a moment's notice.

First, the Secret Service must secure the route from where Bush was sitting in this photograph inside the General Assembly, out into the hallway. They clear a path and sweep the area of everybody. Maybe the most direct route requires the use of an elevator. Clear and secure that. Secure the bathroom. I'm sure they sniff for bombs, chemical and/or radiological weaponry, too.

Dollars to donuts says the Secret Service was practicing the Presidential potty break days before Bush's speech on Wednesday.

UPDATE:

Drudge is now reporting that Reuters has admitted that the above photo was Photoshop-ed.

BULLY PULPIT

The President has the opportunity tonight to alter public opinion and change the subject away from the perception that their was a lackluster Federal response to Katrina and recalibrate the nation's attention toward the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast.

I hope the President seizes the opportunity tonight, as he lays out his reconstruction plan, to remind Americans that the carnage left behind in Katrina's wake wasn't as bad as many predicted and feared. The loss of life cannot be classified as 'catastrophic,' with 650 confirmed deaths thus far. Great sections of New Orleans were not destroyed and parts of the city are going to be re-opened this coming Monday.

Indeed the Gulf Coast has much to be thankful for and much to look forward to in the future. Watch for Bush to remind the nation tonight that 'the South will rise again,' and be even better than it was before.

AP writers Terence Hunt and Nedra Pickler, in the above link, cynically and inaccurately claim that by aiding the Gulf region Bush is only 'trying to make up for a flawed response to the hurricane that embarrassed his administration.'

UPDATE:

My cable is out, so you'll have to tell me how Bush's speech goes. Thanks!

SEEING THINGS CLEARLY

"If the Constitution says that the little guy should win, then the little guy's going to win in the court before me. But if the Constitution says that the big guy should win, well then the big guy's going to win because my obligation is to the Constitution."

--Judge John Roberts, September 15, 2005

Wednesday, September 14

GO ANGIE

Liberal bias among the press corps has never been more evident. Check out this outrageous headline:

"Merkel gathers advisors to salvage German election campaign."

Merkel is Angie Merkel, the conservative candidate for Chancellor of Germany. She and her party, the Christian Democrats, are enjoying a lead over the incumbent Gerhard Schroeder, 42% to 33%. Now, I'm no mathematical genius, but that's a NINE POINT ADVANTAGE going into this Sunday's election.

This headline is beyond biased. It is factually incorrect.

I can only pray that the voters of Germany wake up and vote for the sweeping economic and social policy changes that Merkel and her party will bring to this once great country.

BAD DAY IN BAGHDAD

Twelve car bombs exploded today in Baghdad, killing 150 and injuring 500. The temptation is to leave, but if we do that it would mean that the terrorists have won the war. We can't allow that to happen.

C'EST LA VIE!

Independent Sources has a hilarious post today about the 'real' reason that the Bush Administration was so slow to descend upon New Orleans: The President HATES FRENCH PEOPLE.

Damn! I wish I'd thought of that!

'RESPONSIBILITY'

Over the past 24 hours much has been made about President Bush's so called 'apology' over the myth that the Federal Government was 'slow to respond' to the Hurricane Katrina disaster in the Gulf Coast.

He didn't actually apologize. What he said was 'to the extent' that the response of the Federal Government was slow, 'I take responsibility.' To me that sounds like Bush doesn't think the response was slow at all. It's simply a carrot to those who have chosen to believe the crap being advanced by the Democrats.

'To the extent' means 'if you think we screwed up, blame me.' History shows that the American people are a forgiving group. Fessing up to one's perceived shortcomings almost always yields forgiveness.

If I were advising Bush, I would have liked him to say something like this:

"The mistake I made with respect to FEMA was including that agency under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security, which created an enormous, slow moving bureaucracy. As your President, I was against doing that, but in an effort to be bi-partisan, I relented. In hindsight, my initial misgivings have been proven correct. Had I kept FEMA as it was--a Cabinet level agency--it would have been able to act more swiftly. I made a bad decision against my better judgment and for this, I take full responsibility."

OPHELIA

Tuesday, September 13

DRIVEL

The WaPost's E.J. Dionne writes an op-ed today declaring 'the End of the Bush Era.'

In the dreamland Dionne inhabits, Bush is 'out of touch' because he wants to save Social Security. The 'glorious' Bush economy is 'not so glorious' for many Americans. Bush is faulted for the extreme political polarization of the country and he is entirely to blame for the Katrina disaster down in the Gulf.

Dionne only wishes that all of his dilusions were true.

He writes:

"Recent months, and especially the past two weeks, have brought home to a steadily growing majority of Americans the truth that President Bush's government doesn't work. His policies are failing, his approach to leadership is detached and self-indulgent, his way of politics has produced a divided, angry and dysfunctional public square. We dare not go on like this."

To the Liberal Dionne the 'detached' President Bush is detached because he doesn't kow-tow to the Washington Press Corps. In Dionne's mind 'Bush's government doesn't work.'

Oh really?

The Bush government has enacted economic policies like tax cuts that have resulted in the strongest American economy in two decades.

The Bush government has liberated two sovereign nations from dictatorial regimes.

The Bush government has taken extraordinary steps to protect the American homeland and her citizenry from terrorism.

The Bush government is working very well, Mr. Dionne.

Dionne could barely conceal his undying love for Bill Clinton. The former President, knowing Dionne would write nothing but fawning pieces about his Administration, gave Dionne and the WaPost 'exclusives.' It wouldn't surprise me to learn that Dionne blew Clinton in the Oval Office, right along with Monica.

But seriously, in the history of the United States there has never been a more 'self-indulgent' President than Bill Clinton?

During the Impeachment thing, Dionne was on the cable television shows every night defending Clinton. He didn't think self-indulgence was such a big deal back then. Clinton, as President, was devoted 24/7 to indulging himself, at the expense of the well-being of the nation.

Terror was on the horizon at the end of Clinton's tenure because he and his Administration did nothing to address the threat. The economy was in recession for the last year of Clinton's second term and he did nothing about Social Security, preferring to leave the heavy lifting to his successor.

New Orleans has been vulnerable to Category 4 and 5 hurricanes since it first became a city in 1718. Democrats have controlled the city for years. Billions of dollars have been sent to Louisiana (more by the Bush Administration than any other Administration EVER) and yet somehow it is George W. Bush's fault that Katrina hit the city and destroyed the Gulf Coast?

Liberals like E.J. Dionne are just ridiculous, foolish people and they will be proven wrong.

Great progress is being made daily in New Orleans. The airport is open again. The water is being sucked out of the city at a rapid pace. There are fewer deaths than had been expected. Disaster aid funds are pouring in. There is much to be optimistic about in the Crescent City. The future is bright.

I think what you'll see in the weeks and months ahead will be George Bush's finest moments. He is going to lead the rebuilding of New Orleans and the entire Gulf Coast destroyed by Katrina. His face will be the face of the effort, his voice the rallying cry of the movement to make New Orleans even better, cooler, than it was before.

In 12 months' time, when New Orleans is bright, shiny and new, Bush will have yet another crowning achievement to add to his already remarkable legacy and his critics will once again be proven wrong and vanquished as the irrelevant slugs they are.

What kind of stupid drivel will E.J. Dionne be spewing then?

WHAT?

Newsflash: Listening to headphones can cause hearing loss. I had no idea.

No wonder my sweet Mother never bought me those headphones I wanted back in the 80's. She didn't want me blowing my eardrums out listening to Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden, the Scorpions, Van Halen and Judas Priest.

That's why I don't listen to my iPod with the ear buds. Instead, I connected it to my home theatre system. That way I have music in every room, my iPod can shuffle it's little heart out and my hearing remains intact.

CITY MANAGEMENT

The city of San Diego is in bad shape financially due to bad leadership. The city pensions have been underfunded and are close to bankruptcy.

By sharp contrast, the city of San Francisco is so well run and organized that they have a surplus of four percent. So if every city worker decided to retire tomorrow not only would they get their benefits but the city would have money left over.

How is it possible that my city can't find competent people to serve in positions of leadership? Why are we saddled with people like Dick Murphy and Donna Frye instead of smart, qualified people like Peter Q. Davis and Steve Francis?

It's because the voters of San Diego continually vote for the wrong people. Davis and Francis are hugely successful businessmen with established track records. They are also outsiders. Insiders like Murphy and current mayoral candidates Frye and former SD Police Chief Jerry Sanders are children of the bureaucracy. They are the architects of the problems we now face.

The cash position of Liberal San Francisco surprises me. I have long equated Liberals with taxing and spending, not saving. Maybe I should rethink that position.

IRAQ TODAY

The President of Iraq is in Washington DC today meeting with President Bush. I happened to catch a few minutes of their joint press conference this morning.

Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, spoke of his belief that the US could withdraw as many as 50,000 troops from his country before the end of the year. He also talked about the near readiness of Iraqi troops to begin taking responsibility for the security in several cities in southern, central and northern Iraq.

The Bush Administration isn't saying that, but it is interesting to get the perspective of the new Iraqi leader.

Progress is being made in Iraq and I believe that very soon it will be able to stand on it's own without assistance from the United States. The very fact that Talabani is President and visiting the White House today is testament to the courage, wisdom and vision of President Bush.

N.O. MAYOR LIVING IN DALLAS

Ray Nagin has been living in Dallas for over a week. Oh, and the city of New Orleans is bankrupt.

INTELLECTUAL SUPERIORITY

Listening to Judge Roberts as he responds to questioning by the Senatorial Judicial Committee is like listening to a conversation between a rocket scientist and a surfer. Different people on completely different intellectual planes.

If you watch the hearings today you'll notice the Senators refer to notes prepared for them by their staffs, or they just read a verbatim statement. Most of them are lawyers but they don't grasp the issues as Roberts does. Ted Kennedy really needs notes to read from after his three martini lunch. But Roberts doesn't use notes because he doesn't need them. He doesn't have any papers in front of him at all, from what I can tell. Instead, when answering questions he speaks off the cuff. When you listen to him speak you quickly realize that he's brilliant.

As expected he's not answering specifics about how he would rule. When he spoke of Roe V. Wade he only would say that the law was 'entitled to respect.'

Driving into the office this morning I was listening local talk radio as they were reporting--straight from the A.P. wire--that 'Roberts dodged questions about Roe four times.' He did nothing of the sort. He only declined to answer hypothetical questions just as Ruth Bader Ginsberg declined to answer hypothetical questions from the Judicial Committee during her confirmation hearings. I don't recall the press reporting that Ginsberg 'dodged' questions.

Roberts declared multiple times that he will abide by 'stare decisis,' or 'stand by a decision' when a case has been decided by a higher court, as would any qualified judge.

It is readily apparent that John Roberts, a man of great intellect and grace, is clearly the smartest man in the room this week.

Monday, September 12

JAPANESE LANDSLIDE

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and his Liberal Democratic Party won an enormous landslide after losing his bid to partially privitize Japan's Postal Service.

The victory margin was so huge, if the election had been held in the United States, it would have been equivalent to a 49 state, 525 election college vote win.

With this mandate firmly in hand, Koizumi is now free to advance his agenda of breaking up the Japan Post mainly because it is a fund of savings accounts and life insurance that politicians have skimmed for years. NO WONDER SO MANY PEOPLE WERE OPPOSED!

Koizumi has also been extremely savvy in changing the perception that the LDP was only comprised of 'old men in dark suits,' as the International Herald Tribune says. Instead, he has put into positions of power mostly young, female candidates replacing postal opponents.

From the IHT:

"This election shows how Koizumi is in a league of his own in his political skills and media-savvy," said Gerald Curtis, an expert on Japanese politics at Columbia University, who is visiting Tokyo. "He did the impossible. He managed to convince the electorate that his party, which was opposed to his own reforms, was for change, and that the Democratic Party, which was a party founded for reform, was against change."

UPDATE:

I learned this morning that Koizumi plans to amend Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, which currently says that Japan cannot attack any country militarily. This Article has severely limited Japanese foreign policy.

HUMAN ERROR

Relax. It's not terrorism. Just another rolling blackout in Los Angeles--the first since 2003.

What happened? Human error at a receiving station in Burbank. That's beautiful. Workers connected the wrong wires, which then caused a surge of power that led to the shutting down of three power generating stations.

No problem.

CHILD'S PLAY

Enough with John Roberts' kids following him into the hearings this morning. These confirmation hearings are serious business. Confirming a new Chief Justice is serious business. Determining the makeup of the Supreme Court for the next 30 years is serious business.

What idiot came up with the idea to have Josie and Jack Roberts follow their father into the Senate Caucus room this morning?Even Vermont Senator Leahy, who is about as phony as anyone could ever be, characterized it as 'as staged a photo op as you'll have.' Is the Administration this concerned about the hearings that they have to rely on such shameless theatre? Are they really that intimidated by the Democrats that they are counting on two cute kids to defray some of the criticism? Will the Democrats actually be nicer to Roberts because his kids are adorable?

Can we please just get down to business now? Can we get past the long-winded, hot air filled opening statements by Specter, Hatch, Kennedy and Leahy already? I realize these ego-maniacs love hearing themselves bloviate, but please. Stick a fork in it and start asking your stupid questions. Let Roberts testify and lets get this thing done already.

The GOP is hoping against hope that these confirmation hearings will follow in pattern and principle 'The Ginsberg Model,' so named because when Clinton nominated Ruth Bader Ginsberg to the Court, the Republicans didn't ask her any difficult questions. They just voted to confirm her, even though they had vast ideological differences with the former head of the American Civil Liberties Union.

So the thinking goes now, in the interest of fairness or bi-partisanship, Judge Roberts should receive the same treatment out of courtesy and tradition.

Well that ain't gonna happen with these Democrats, I can tell you that. Kennedy and Leahy are going to get pretty nasty. The knives are going to get sharpened this week during the Roberts hearings, which, for the Dems, is nothing more than an opening event. They'll get a couple of good stabs at Roberts, confirm him and then use those knives on the next nominee-- Janice Rogers Brown or Michael Luttig.

Friday, September 9

GERMS

I blogged earlier about what I believe is going to happen across the country. This link from Bloomberg talks about the massive effort underway to diagnose the potential medical threat currently on the ground in Southern Louisiana.

Health care is about to take on a whole new meaning in the wake of Katrina. Let's hope they can get a handle--a quick one at that--on whatever they find.

WHAT HE WE NOT TALKED ABOUT?

We haven't talked about Iraq in a week and a half.

We haven't discussed this week's Presidential elections in Egypt. Even with the attempts at democratic reforms, Hosni Mubarak easily 'won' 70% of the vote. That might be thanks to the fact that the Mubarak government refused to comply with an Egyptian court order that said independent poll watchers had to be on hand to help validate the vote.

We haven't discussed the Oil For Food Scandal. I have an op-ed from today's WSJ linked above.

It turns out that Oil For Food was far from being 'the transparent organization' Kofi Annan claimed it was. Benon Sevan, the UN official charged with running the program not only was on Saddam Hussein's payroll. He was also actively involved and had intimate knowledge of the kickbacks schemes between Hussein and 2,500 companies. And Annan ran [and continues to run] the UN with little or no oversight whatsoever. It's a case of the inmates running the asylum.

I knew it was not coincidental that Security Council member nations--like Russia, France and China--received preferential treatment from the Hussein regime when it came to oil contracts.

From the WSJ:

"Oil for Food offered a lifeline of cash and influence to a regime that was starving its people. The program did not corrupt the U.N. so much as exploit its essential nature. Now Mr. Annan wants to use this report as an endorsement of his "reform" proposals. Only at the U.N. could he dare to think he could get away with this."

Cue John Bolton.

We haven't discussed the fact that John Roberts has been nominated by the President to replace Rehnquist as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Interesting stuff. I hope Janice Rogers Brown is the new SCOTUS nominee. Let's see the Democrats try to oppose a conservative African American woman.

We haven't talked about the fact that this Sunday is the fourth anniversary of 9/11. I'm looking forward to watching the Discovery Channel film, "The Flight That Fought Back," Sunday night.

We haven't talked about Iran or North Korea or about Gaza.

We haven't talked about the vital ruling today by a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled that the US can hold an American prisoner with ties to al Qaeda. In this case American citizen Jose Padilla, who planned to detonate a 'dirty bomb' in an American city, has been held since 2002 and was designated by President Bush as an 'enemy combatant.'

Judge Michael Luttig wrote the unanimous opinion:

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

BTW, Judeg Luttig is on the White House's short list for SCOTUS nominations. This ruling won't hurt his chances.

Padilla is one American citizen held by the Federal Government. The second, Louisiana native Yaser Hamdi was released a year ago after it was determined he no longer posed a threat to the United States.

We haven't talked lately about Angie Merkel, the conservative candidate for Chancellor of Germany. She's got a great chance of winning. Currently her party has a 8% lead over the blowhard, anti-American Gerhard Schroeder.

We haven't talked about Tropical Storm Ophelia, which very well might strike Florida, Georgia or the Carolinas.

We haven't talked about football. Last night kicked off the season with the Patriots beating the Raiders, 30-20. (BTW, my Fantasy Football QB Tom Brady threw for 306 yards with two touchdowns, which is good for 16 points) I love football. Can't wait to park my happy ass in front of the television this Sunday morning. I should come up for air sometime Sunday night.

MYTH/FACT

A lot of people have been questioning the response of the Federal Government immediately after Katrina. Dan Henninger of the WSJ writes about what the Pentagon did in terms of preparation in the days leading up to the disaster.

MOON THEM

Call me crazy but the 'winning' design to memoralize the 9/11 Pennsylvania crash site of Flight 93, 'The Crescent of Embrace,' looks shockingly like the crescent moon logo of the religion of Islam, doesn't it?

Why exactly are we embracing or seeking to embrace the bastards who hijacked Flight 93 and three other commercial jets?

Here's what Paul Murdoch, the architect behind this design said:

"A primary task of this generation is to create new patterns of development that sustain human habitation on this planet. Towards this end, the principles adopted for our practice are intended to ensure that each project contributes to an overall goal of environmental responsibility while striving for design excellence.

As architects, we are uniquely qualified to help formulate and translate policy into tangible form; mitigating pressures of urbanity with the need to heal the natural environment. Each design solution is seen as a contribution to the human condition; as it exists today and evolves into future generations.

Our goal is to define and study problems both in terms of clients’ direct needs and relative to long term effects on natural and man made surroundings. More than problem solving however, we aspire to emotionally affect and uplift our lives through poetry and beauty.

It is through these transcendent qualities that we optimistically strive for ways to enrich life and fulfill our original purpose for engaging in the practice of architecture.”

That's very touching. But instead of being all touchy feely and focusing on embracing why don't we honor the courage, the balls, the 'nads it took to fight armed hijackers on that plane? Why not honor the fact that the passenger revolt on Flight 93 saved the White House from almost certain destruction and saved countless lives?

Perhaps the 'powers that be' should reconsider this one.

MAJOR

Major Garrett is a stud reporter. He blew the lid off the Swift Boat/Kerry story last year and in New Orleans he's uncovered the reason that Hurricane victims who were relocated to the SuperDome didn't receive immediate aid.

The Governor didn't want the people 'getting too comfortable.'

Hugh Hewitt interviewed Garrett yesterday on his radio show. Here's the transcript of that conversation via Radio Blogger:

"HH: Making an encore appearance, and we're very grateful for it, Major Garrett of Fox News Channel. Major, you certainly made waves yesterday. Perhaps the most reported story in America was yours. You followed up on it tonight. What has your investigation into the Red Cross relationship with the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security revealed today?

MG: A couple of things. First of all, it established on tonight's Special Report, that it wasn't just the Red Cross. It was the Salvation Army. Both agencies, both organizations were ready, prepared, pre-positioned, eager, but were thwarted in their efforts to bring supplies, basic supplies...not everything these people needed, but core supplies to the Superdome, and then eventually, the convention center. Why? Because the New Orleans Department of Homeland Security said look. Our plan is to evacuate these people. Marty Evans, the President and the CEO of the American Red Cross, said on camera...you don't have to believe me. Believe her. You can read her own eyes, saying look. We were told if we came in, we would create an atmosphere that would lead people to stay, and give them the feeling that they should stay. And the state did not want that.

HH: Now you said the New Orleans Department of Homeland Security. Did you mean the Louisiana Department...

MG: I'm sorry. Yes. Louisiana. Right. Because it is a state agency that is answerable to the governor, although the governor did not explicitly make this statement, I'm told so far.

HH: Who made this decision?

MG: I've also asked the Red Cross to create for me, and they've promised to do so, a timeline and a paper trail.

HH: Oh, very good.

MG: Now, they are a bit...they're very eager to put together the timeline. They're a little bit more reluctant about the paper trail, because as they've told me, look. We expect all this stuff to be subpoenaed by Congress very soon. I said well, that's probably true, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't be able to get it.

HH: Exactly.

MG: They said yeah, but look. The issue here, Hugh, is the Red Cross knows it's going to have to deal with Louisiana the next time around. And the next time around. And they're always trying to avoid the appearance of sticking it to somebody, if the political leader in charge feels as if the Red Cross is sticking it to them. So they feel that they're in a bit of a tenuous place.

HH: On the other hand, Major Garrett, they're a quasi-public agency, depending upon the good will of the public for their donations.

MG: Right.

HH: I think the public wants to know.

MG: And I said look. You guys had no problem posting this on your own website. So I just think it's a matter...I said you know, if you want to give it to me, and then put it on your website, that's fine. But just make sure I'm in the loop, because I want to know who said what to whom. And if that's written down anywhere, the public should see it.

HH: And what did the Salvation Army tell you?

MG: The Salvation Army basically said look. We...first of all, both agencies also want to let people know that they've served the needs of thousands of people who got out, and who got out just a little bit to high ground, north of New Orleans. But they couldn't get in to meet those needs. They asked to get in. They were prepared with their...the Salvation Army has these ever-familiar portable kitchen canteens, is what they call them. They can actually make food, produce food on spot, and distribute it there. People line up. We've seen that at hurricanes and other natural disasters. They were ready. Not allowed in. At first, it was this idea that we don't want to create a magnet at the evacuation site. Secondarily, it became an issue of well, there's lots of water, and we can't assure your safety, so on and so forth. Here's another key point, Hugh. I was very specific with the American Red Cross, president and CEO Marty Evans, and said wait. Tell me clearly. Were you prepared to go in before the levees broke? Before water became an issue of any kind? She said absolutely. Were you denied access before the levees broke? She said we were denied access from minute one.

HH: And did they attempt to renew their request to get in after the levees broke, Major Garrett?

MG: Yes. I am told that the timeline indicates a frequent reasking of this question.

HH: And a frequent denial by Louisiana state Department of Homeland Security?

MG: Right. Because as we discussed last night, their system was this is the shelter of last resort. It is an evacuation site, not a services site. And today, in Louisiana, the Louisiana National Guard said look. Here we were. We had four hundred Louisiana National Guard soldiers at the Superdome. Let's do the math here, Hugh. Four hundred National Guard soldiers coping with thirty thousand evacuees.

HH: Right. Right.

MG: And they said, look. The Mayor told all these people to bring three days worth of food and water. Well, not very many people did. So the National Guard did bring in, on its own, palettes of food, water and things. But clearly, it wasn't enough. Clearly, they were overwhelmed. The numbers were staggering. In the end, it was up to 60,000 people that the National Guard had to supervise, or at least try to supervise at these two places, and eventually move out with the buses. Where did the buses come from? They came from FEMA. 1,100 of them were produced in 72 hours, even though as we all saw, buses were under water all over the city, never used.

HH: What is your understanding of what happened at the convention center? Was the National Guard there insufficient force to prevent the allegations of huge brutality and murder?

MG: No. Clearly not. And the situation in the Superdome was tough for the National Guard, because you had people on various different levels of this enormous complex. And four hundred on thirty thousand, I mean, just forget it. It's not possible. You're doing the maximum, but in proportion to the numbers, it's a minimal effort.

HH: So the pre-positioning of resources around New Orleans was abysmal?

MG: Yes. I mean, I think in a word, you have to understand...and Marty Evans of the American Red Cross said look. The failure from my point of view is, and I don't want to second-guess people, but look. You have to have a realistic, executable plan, and then execute the plan for evacuation. They didn't have it.

HH: Now Major Garrett, when you broke this story last night, it immediately sped across the United States. People are aghast, even though there have been hints about it. You mentioned the O'Reilly Factor the night before. It had been on the website. But none of the other networks are carrying this. Why?

MG: Look, I don't know. And believe me, Hugh, this is not the first time in my career I have found myself with my news judgment saying this is an interesting and important story. Where are my colleagues? I don't know if you remember any of the swift boat coverage, but I covered that story more aggressively, more factually, and with more direct response to key questions from the Kerry campaign, than any other television reporter in this country. And I never lost my relationship with the Kerry campaign, because they always knew my questions were hard and tough and fair, but I always gave them a chance to express their opinion.

HH: Now Major Garrett, this morning, Rush...

MG: Everyone was ridiculed about...everyone who covered the swift boat story was an idiot. You know, well, I've been in this position before.

HH: But this morning, Rush made the blanket statement, and I think he's right, that if it is reported on Fox, the other networks will not consider it news. I believe that's because you're crushing them, and they hate to attribute to you guys a head start on something. But this is a huge story of important, national interest.

MG: They don't even have to attribute it to Fox. They can go to the website. They can call Marty Evans, and get her on camera whenever they want. Look, they don't need to talk to me. All they have to do...I mean, Hugh, I've covered a lot of hard stories, and I've done a tremendous amount of hard digging in my journalistic career. I've got to be honest with you. This isn't an example of it. I mean, it was a pretty basic story. Ask a few core questions, get some core answers, read the state documents, add it up.

HH: We're running low on time, Major Garrett. Was the Salvation Army reluctant to confirm to you? Or were they willing?

MG: No. No. I mean, look. Are they advertising it? Are they calling me up? No.

HH: Senior officials at the Salvation Army?

MG: Yeah. Among the most senior people here in Washington, D.C., who are coordinating their efforts across the Gulf region.

HH: And they were ready to go, and they were blocked as well?

MG: Yes."

'ON YOUR OWN'

And speaking of responsibility...

New Orleans' largest newspaper, the Times-Picayune wrote a story in July that quoted local, state and federal officials as saying 'you're on your own.'

From PNIONLINE:

"You're responsible for your safety, and you should be responsible for the person next to you," local Red Cross executive director Kay Wilkins explained to the Times-Picayune just six weeks ago. "If you have some room to get that person out of town, the Red Cross will have a space for that person outside the area. We can help you. But we don't have the transportation.”

Ironically, the Red Cross has run a network of shelters in New Orleans in the event of hurricane warnings. But it decided several years ago not to open them for a Category 3 or stronger storm that it was more important to get people out of the below-sea-level area - despite the lack of any organized system for transporting them.

Indeed, as Katrina bore down on New Orleans last weekend, Mayor Ray Nagin marshalled a fleet of city buses--not to take the city’s poor out of town but to the large shelter at the Superdome, where civil order would fall apart as the week progressed.

“Keep in mind, a hurricane, a Cat 5, with high winds, is most likely will knock out all electricity in the city, and, therefore, the Superdome is not going to be a very comfortable place at some point in time,” Nagin warned on Sunday. “So we're encouraging everyone to leave.”

“It’s almost as if the planning stopped at the flooding,” said Craig E. Colton, a geography professor at Louisiana State University, wondering as many have at the lack of foresight."

RESPONSIBILITY

I've really tried to spread my viewing around the networks and the cable channels. Fox News has been pretty solid, with Rick Leventhal and Molly Hennenberg providing honest coverage. CNN's Anderson Cooper has been good, too.

But the gratuitous [think GRETA VAN SUSTEREN] coverage of Hurricane Katrina is getting to me. I cannot stand that woman. I hated her when she was on CNN and I loathe her now, even after her plastic surgery.

This woman is such a sponge and a single issue whore. How many weeks was she in Aruba? How many weeks did she talk of nothing but Michael Jackson? Now she's going to be talking Katrina for the next six months. I saw a piece the other night where she was on a police boat as authorities were attempting to coax people out of their homes, and Greta's jamming her microphone into their sad, scared, poor faces. It was terrible.

Is it too much for me to wish that Roger Ailes will ship Van Susteren back to CNN where she belongs?

The normal logical and reasonable Shepard Smith was emotional and unobjective when he was on the air for three days straight, which isn't so much a criticism as it is a critique. I'd probably be much less composed on air than Smith was, especially after I walked past dead bodies on the 10 freeway.

I think CNN sunk to new lows yesterday when they broadcast footage of dead bodies laying around New Orleans. Why do we need to see that?

That's got to be the reason that the New Orleans police emphasized this morning that 'No press' will be allowed as they begin to clean the city, sweeping out the glass, trash, cars and bodies.

MSNBC's Tucker Carlson, who normally bores the shit out of me, has done very well with his brand of classy coverage. And I wonder, has he lost weight? He looks thinner.

The constant carping about 'response time' is a hindrance. The old journalistic adage 'if it bleeds, it leads,' has been readily apparent in the Iraq coverage and seems to fit the 'bull in the china shop' attitude of the press thus far in New Orleans.

There's far too much bad news and not nearly enough positive reporting and it seems to be getting worse, not better.

And where is the coverage of the other affected areas of devastation? The MSM almost never mentions the state of Mississippi, which I think is the reason Dick Cheney was in the Gulf yesterday. The infrastructure of New Orleans is mostly intact but Biloxi, Mississippi is completely gone. There is nothing left.

It's time to begin talking about the media and the responsibilty they have in times of national crisis. Just how much is too much? When does a reporter stop being a reporter and begin to become a human being again? I think that the process of spreading negativity in the case of the aftermath of Katrina could very well be just as poisonous as the stagnant water now saturating New Orleans.

PLAGUE

That nasty, toxic water in New Orleans is going to be a long term problem for the city, the region and for America.

This water--sewage, feces, e-coli bacteria, rotting food, human and animal remains, petrol and chemicals--will be the breeding ground for untold numbers of illnesses and infections like West Nile virus, malaria, dengue fever, typhoid fever, cholera and leptospirosis, among many others.

New 'plagues' will develop as a result and spread across the Gulf region and nationwide now that displaced residents of New Orleans have relocated to other states.

It is inevitable.

'NOBODY TOLD ME'

Apparently there was a flaw in the National Response Plan drafted after 9/11. The plan failed to take into account the possibility that local and state officials could be incapacitated in the aftermath of a terrorist attack or a natural disaster.

Interesting article in today's NYT. But can we really trust the word of a once great newspaper that prints lies about Geraldo Rivera?

So the White House considered seizing control of the Lousiana situation in the days before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, but questions of state/federal authority came into question as well as the perception of a President overruling a Southern female Governor from the opposition party...Sound familiar? I've been telling you this for how long now?

For Bush to invoke the 'Insurrection Act,' Governor Blanco would have had to surrender control, which she would not have done. Think about this for a moment. Democrats, now screaming bloody murder about Bush's slow response, would have screamed even louder about 'the sexist, Texas Cowboy and how he stole power from the poor helpless Governor Blanco.' Bush can't win here, no matter what he does.

From the NYT:

"Can you imagine how it would have been perceived if a president of the United States of one party had pre-emptively taken from the female governor of another party the command and control of her forces, unless the security situation made it completely clear that she was unable to effectively execute her command authority and that lawlessness was the inevitable result?" asked one senior administration official, who spoke anonymously because the talks were confidential."

Damn right.

The clueless Blanco asked for 'soldiers' from Washington, but didn't specify what kind of soldiers she wanted. There's leadership for you. 'Nobody told me that I had to request that,' she said. Then the Governor waited until the storm passed and the looting was out of control before she called in 40,000 National Guard troops.

Later conversations between Blanco and the Bush Administration focused on what the Times calls 'a hybrid command structure,' where Guard troops and active duty military would be commanded by an active duty three star general. But Blanco complicated the issue further by demanding that the general only be allowed to command after he was sworn into the Louisiana National Guard.

There is an obvious expectation at the Federal level that local and state officials are prepared for disasters, that they know what they are doing. But when the mayor fails to provide transportation to evacuate the low income residents of his city from the rising floodwaters and an incompetent Governor doesn't understand emergency procedures, there really is a limit to what the President and the Federal Government can step in and do on a moment's notice.

Everyone ought to be able to agree on something as simple as that, right?
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