Hogan's Alley

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Taking a Short Break

I'll be signing off for a while. We'll be traveling without a laptop. I know thousands of you will be disappointed, but bear up, I shall return.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Louisiana Pols Waddle Up To The Trough

The Washington Post lays waste to the absurd $250 billion money grab in a bill submitted by the Louisiana Congressional Delegation. Key quote:
The Louisiana delegation has apparently devoted little thought to the root causes of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. New Orleans was flooded not because the Army Corps of Engineers had insufficient money to build flood protections, but because its money was allocated by a system of political patronage. The smart response would be to insist that, in the future, no Corps money be wasted on unworthy projects, but the Louisiana bill instead creates a mechanism by which cost-benefit analysis can be avoided. Equally, Katrina was devastating because ill-conceived projects have drained coastal wetlands and caused their erosion, destroying a natural buffer between hurricanes and human settlements. The smart response would be to insist that future infrastructure projects be subject to careful environmental review. But the Louisiana delegation's bill would suspend the environmental review process. Rather than grappling with the lessons of Katrina, Louisiana's representatives are demanding an astonishing $40 billion worth of Corps of Engineers projects in their state. That is 16 times more than the Corps says it would need to protect New Orleans from a Category 5 hurricane.
Hat tip to Glenn at Instapundit.

More On Exaggerated Rumors After Katrina

The LA Times has now also chimed in about the gross overstatements about criminal behavior in New Orleans following Katrina. This follows yesterday's similar report from the Seattle Times.

Interestingly, LAT lists its own reporting as having pumped up the hyperbole. It also notes other exaggerated media reports and foolish apparent confirmations by politicians, Mayor Nagin principal among them.

A Slam Dunk For Hitch On The "Peace" Movement

Christopher Hitchens posts another insightful view of the perversion of the old Left that has become the current "progressive" movement. He calls them what they are, supporters of Saddam, the Taliban, Milosevic, Castro and Kim Jong Il, who are manipulating those who are genuinely uncomfortable with America' engagement in a preemptive war to root out the causes of jihadist Islamofascism.

Monday, September 26, 2005

FactCheck.org Lays Waste to MoveOn.org's Latest Broadside

MoveOn and a coalition of other anti-war/Bush groups published an ad in USA Today on 9/22 which listed six "lies" told by the Bush Administration to justify the war in Iraq. FactCheck provides the full context of the quotes in question. They also raise the crucial issue that what was said, especially about WMD, was not a lie if Bush and the others believed the intelligence provided by the CIA and foreign intelligence services.

The simple fact is that there is no evidence that any of these people purposely lied. It seems that everyone on the left asserts that "Bush Lied" as a kind of mantra. However not one person who claims they lied is in any position to know the inner thoughts or internal processes of this administration.

The daily media drumbeat of hopelessness on Iraq and differential treatment of Cindy Sheehan and other anti-war activists has now moved public opinion solidly against the war. It is probably too late for the issue to be muddied by facts. One can, however, hope that the real lies will not stand.

TimesSelect - Still Impossible to Access

More on my continuing saga of futile attempts to use my status as a home delivery subscriber of the Times to activate my free access to their newly walled off opinion columns.

I finally got a response to my email of Sept. 19, on Sept. 24. It provided detailed instructions for negotiating their registration labyrinth, which I followed religiously, but to no avail.

Today, when one clicks on one of the TimesSelect pieces, the returned screen telling you that you must be a registered user to read the full article now has a link which states," If you have already enrolled in TimesSelect, the site may not be recognizing you correctly. Please click here to reset your information. If you continue to have a problem, check our FAQ."

Needless to say, clicking on the reset link failed, as did clicking on a link in the FAQ pop up window. Reset shmeset. Nothing they try works.

What they need is a redesign that would link the refusal page to a page in which one could enter the relevant user id's and account numbers, have the cookies reset and/or use one's browser to remember the login data for future use. I predict that all their attempts will fail until they finally determine to bite this bullet.

The Blogs On Last Weekend's Peace Marches

David Adesnik at OxBlog has put together two interesting reviews of posts about the demonstrations over the weekend, both from the left and the right.

Good News From Ireland

The fact that an international commission has certified the destruction of the hidden armaments of the IRA should be seen as good news. The way is now clear for a strictly political settlement of the future of Northern Ireland. At least one would have thought so. Reuters, however leans heavily on the skepticism of the Protestant and pro-British entities in the country.

Here, from AFX News, via Forbes Magazine, is a more positive take.

Broussard Tells Russert the Truth

The truth of this was told to Tim Russert by Jefferson Parish President, Aaron Broussard. As quoted by Jeff Jarvis, the money quote is:

Were we abandoned by the federal government? Absolutely we were. Were there more people that abandoned us? Make the list. The list can go on for miles. That'’s for history to document. That'’s what Congress does best, burn witches. Let Congress do their hearings. Let them find the witches. Let them burn them. The media burns witches better than anybody. Let the media go find the witches and burn them. But as I stood on the ground, sir, for day after day after day after day, nobody came here, sir. Nobody came. The federal government didn'’t come. The Red Cross didn'’t come. I'’ll give you a list of people that didn'’t come here, sir, and I was here.

His interview with Russert can be found at Crooks and Liars.

The brouhaha over Russert's intcrystallizestalizes the difference between dealing with people as human beings vs. treating them solely as sources of information. It also shows big media's willingness to go to any ends to preserve their appearance of objectivity and balance.

But So What?

Now that it has become clear that stories of murder, rape and pillage in New Orleans were massively overstated, the facts that remain were still awful to contemplate. What still remains true is that:

  1. Thousands of people, the weakest and poorest, were left in that city despite years of planning and ample warning of the coming tragedy.
  2. Thousands of those were purposely gathered at the Superdome and Convention Center with out adequate pre-positioning of food, water and toilet facilities, and with no adequate plan for rescuing them.
  3. Despite the fact that the horrors at those two facilities were there for all the world to see, the authorities failed to notice for several days.

Superdome Horrors Grossly Overstated

An investigative piece by the Seattle Times establishes that only six people died inside the Superdome. Four of "natural" causes, one of suicide by jumping and one apparent murder.

I further goes on to say that virtually 99% of reports from New Orleans after Katrina of roving gangs, murders, rapes and other horrors were false. Based purely on rumor.

The tragedy for American journalism is that the media reported these claims without any fact checking. Sadly, the story of NOLA as hell hole of criminals will probably persist in perpetuity.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Like Don't Trust Anyone Under 30, Man

As part of the vast nationwide anti-war demonstration this past weekend, there was a 70 person effort by the Westchester People's Action Coalition (WESPAC) in White Plains, NY. According to the report in the local Gannett paper, most participants appeared to be senior citizen types, probably aging hippies and SANE veterans.

It seems a counter demonstration was mounted by a group of 14 year-olds who held signs reading, "War Is Good". Money quote:

When a police officer started questioning the teens and tried to send them away, some of the anti-war protesters defended the teens' right to be there.

"We were like their mothers, all of a sudden," said Gail Dunkenberger, a 67-year-old Katonah resident. "We said, 'Thank you for having an opinion.' They'll go away with a much more open mind."

Its like a bad acid flashback.

Right Wing Hollywood?

A. O. Scott is the finest film critic writing for the New York Times. If he recommends a film, go see it. It will be worth your $10 plus popcorn. If he says a film is not worth seeing, see it at your peril.

A political analyst he is not. In today's lead piece in the Arts and Leisure section he tries to suggest that two current films, "Just Like Heaven", staring Reese Witherspoon, and "The Exorcism of Emily Rose", along with the recent Mel Gibson whip epic, "The Passion of the Christ" mark a rightward swing of the Hollywood studios. No doubt the upcoming "DaVinci Code" will be seen in the same mode.

What these films are, like all films released by the major studios, is an attempt to make money. The former is a romantic comedy in which a man sees his apparently dead girlfriend. "Emily Rose" is an film about possession by the devil, a concept believed in only by orthodox religionists, and lovers of the thrills of the horror movie genre.

Leaving aside the fact that movies with these high concepts have been done for years (The Exorcist and Ghost as only two examples of 32 and 15 years ago respectively), the central conceit of Scott's piece is that these are religious movies. They assert life after death, the existence of the devil, the deity of Christ. These are not right wing concepts, except in Manhattan, they are religious beliefs.

Mr. Scott may have never met anyone self-described as a conservative, or a Republican. This is understandable for a resident of NYC's upscale borough. But the truth is that not all conservatives are religious nuts. Only some are. The usual suspects like Dobson, Falwell, even Bush.

The only non-religious examples Scott provides are "Team America", a cartoon puppet show which mocks Hollywood liberals while it portrays right-wing America bombing the hell out of everyone, and "The Incredibles", another cartoon, which he finds celebrating an "Ayn Randian libertarian individualism and the suburban nuclear family".

Scott seems to be firing an early shot across the bow of a growing juggernaut of cultural analysis that demonstrates that many Hollywood residents and their products are left-leaning. I will not here provide chapter and verse of the documentation of the liberal inclinations of many in the movie business, but let no one use Scott's piece as if it were prima facie evidence of a vast right-wing conspiracy by agents of Haliburton to infiltrate and co-opt the good, caring citizens of La-La-Land.

The truth is that the Hollywood machine wants, more than anything, to make vast piles of money with its blockbuster movies. They it can use the profits from those to make "important" small films that somehow all seem to reveal the evils of capitalism, American power, racism, chauvinism and homophobia.

Maureen Dowd's Vacuousness Revealed on "Meet The Press"

Moon God at a blog called In The Mouth Of Madison absolutely nails the truth about Ms. Dowd in this post. Check it out.

Quoting extensively from today's Meet the Press, Moon God demonstrates the striking emptiness of Dowd's "thought", declaring that she is essentially a nihilist.

I think that viewing her that way grants her more credit than she deserves. It presumes she is capable of adopting any philosophical position. I have long felt that Dowd was free of any serious world view. She is like the prototypical high school girl, leader of a clutch of hangers on, who defends her own insecurity by declaring the uncoolness of everyone else in the school. Dowd's columns are nothing more than facile labeling and name calling, always with an undertone of the serene cool of some adolescent ice goddess.

Dowd is no more a follower of Dadaism than the German Nihilist Kidnappers in "The Big Lebowski".

In Iraq, Sunni Clerics Speak Out Against Al- Qaida

Evan Kohlman at Counterterrorism Blog posts an encouraging report of signs of distress in al Zarqawi's campaign to foment civil war between Sunnis and Shiites. A major group of Sunni cleric has condemned their murder of innocents and there are signs that al-Zarqawi is fumbling for a direction for his movement that will lead somewhere.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Raleigh N.C. County Schools Report Big Jumps in Test Results, Credit Economic Integration

The Times reports that the Wake County School District, which is a county-wide district that includes the city of Raleigh, attributes significant improvements in the test scores of Black and Hispanic kids to their ongoing policy of busing and magnet schools to achieve integration based on family income. They have sought to have no more than 40% low income children in any school.

The results have been quite impressive.

"In Wake County, only 40 percent of black students in grades three through eight scored at grade level on state tests a decade ago. Last spring, 80 percent did. Hispanic students have made similar strides. Overall, 91 percent of students in those grades scored at grade level in the spring, up from 79 percent 10 years ago."

The logic of this approach is persuasive:

"Low-income students who have an opportunity to go to middle-class schools are surrounded by peers who have bigger dreams and who are more academically engaged," said Richard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation who has written about economic integration in schools. "They are surrounded by parents who are more likely to be active in the school. And they are taught by teachers who more likely are highly qualified than the teachers in low-income schools."

The approach may not have universal application, since many, if not most, school districts are city or town specific. In such districts often the cities have large volumes of poor kids and better off kids predominate in suburbs. A lawsuit in Connecticut, known as the Sheff case, sought to address this problem, but has so far not invalidated the local control of the schools, a necessary step to promote statewide or regionwide integration. Sheff, in any event, deals only with racial integration and would not necessarily achieve economic integration.

My only question relates to an important statistic missing from the Times story. While the performance of Black children, Hispanic children and all children improved, what happened to the performance of white children? Did they also improve, stay the same or decline? This is an essential piece of information to allow readers to evaluate the full issue but is curiously missing in the Times.

Bush Haters Engage in Rumor Mongering

A single story in the National Enquirer, a source most rational people would be ashamed to wrap fish in, has now transmogrified into a mini-blogstorm. Revealing themselves to have no shame, people who would, in any other context be offended by the introduction of slander into personal or political discussions, are gleefully jumping on the original piece and linking to other sites that in turn link to the original story in an attempt to create the impression that this "news" is a widespread "insider rumor" or quasi-fact.

It is only a matter of time until some brave reporter, let's say David Gregory, asks the President if the "reports" are true. I'll give it a week.

Enquiring minds want to know.

The good news is that the vast majority of voting age Americans really only care about the breakup of Renee Zellwegger and Kenny Chesney. The really important stuff.

ANSWER Anti-War Rally Underway

Anyone who wants to see the poverty of ideas on the left should tune in to C-SPAN's coverage of the rally in Washington.

Ramsay Clark, looking rather decrepit, apparently believes that the impeachment of George Bush is actually a possibility, to large cheers by the crowd. He also called for a 90% cut in the Defense Department budget as the,"only way for there to be peace in the world." You can't make this stuff up.

Update: Here's Gateway Pundit's longer blog on the A.N.S.W.E.R. rally.

Hillary To Vote No On Roberts

After much speculation in the blogosphere and even a report by Druge that she would support John Roberts' nomination to SCOTUS, Sen. Clinton has now issued a statement that she will vote against his nomination.

The political calculus seems clear. Following the advise of her husband, no slouch at reading the electorate, Sen. Clinton is now focusing on being re-elected to the Senate as her first priority. If she loses to her likely opponent, Westchester County D.A. Jeanine Pirro, there can be no presidential run.

In the NY election, the support of women's and other liberal activist groups is crucial. If she voted for Roberts they might have only provided luke warm support. She can only guarantee such support by distinguishing herself from the other strong woman in the race on the Repbublican side.

Once the Senate election is over expect Hillary to tack immediately to the right. Having cemented her credentials with the liberal groups essential to victory in the Presidential primaries, she will desperately need to appear unthreatening to the vast middle.

Besides, two years from now no one will even remember anyone's vote in the Roberts nomination.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Gen. Honore Emerging Star of Hurricane Season

Amidst all the tragedy one clear, bright light has emerged, Lt. Gen. Russel Honore of the National Guard. He kicked ass and took names in NOLA and got the search and rescue operation finally moving. The other day, in case you missed it, he was on the front lines of Rita dealing with the press and created a joyous ruckus in the blogosphere with his use of the phrase, "stuck on stupid", to put the press in its place. Anyone perpetually annoyed at the dumbness of reporters and some of their questions will enjoy this video clip via Political Teen.

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Budget Cuts

Dan Drezner strikes a cinematic chord in his piece today on the budget debate. Key quote:

Jessep: You want budget cuts?

Kaffee: I think I'm entitled to them.

Jessep: You want them?

Kaffee: I want the cuts!

Jessep: You can't handle the cuts! Son, we live in a world that needs quasi-public goods. And those needs have to be funded by men in Congress. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for small government and you curse the ballooning deficit. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that big government, while tragic, probably enriched some lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, enriches some lives...You don't want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you want big government. You need big government.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

CNN's Hurricane Coverage Is Nauseating

I watched CNN for about a half hour before and a half hour after the start of the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. It was annoying before Wolf came on, but intolerable after the start of the daily hysteria they try to drum up with their multiple TV screens and wall to wall coverage concept.

Blitzer was worked into a lather about the traffic jams headed north out of Houston. How would these poor people ever get out!

Hey Wolf, the storm is not scheduled to hit land for almost 35 hours. Screaming about the crowding of the roads only serves to scare those left in the city and convinces them to sit tight, thereby risking a late, perhaps too late departure.

As for Jack Cafferty, he has apparently decided that the southbound roads should have been turned into northbound routes yesterday. He was screaming about the incompetence of officials who were failing their citizens.

Meanwhile, he was only able to find emails that bashed Bush in the presumption that Texas would be handled magnificently since it is his home state and home to the oil interests.

These guys received an enormous amount of good ink for their righteous indignation over the demonstrable failures in NOLA and they have apparently decided to employ this blunt instrument to save coastal America from any recurrence of that event.

The fact that their ratings might also go up when they behave like guests on the Jerry Springer Show has, I'm sure not entered the equation. I fear we are witnessing a further deterioration of what used to be a profession called journalism.

TimesSelect Still Not Operative

Forget what you think of the value of TimesSelect or the efficacy of the Times' decision to wall off their opinion makers. As far as this subscriber is concerned I have still not been able to access these articles.

As a home delivery subscriber I am supposed to be able to obtain access at no cost. After days of failed attempts, I successfully registered on Monday, the first day of the new regime, but didn't get back a screen confirming it as the timed out after two minutes. My suspicion is that I should have received a cookie identifying me as a registered user. Subsequent attempts to register lead me to a screen advising that I am already registered and cannot register again. Yet, when I attempt to access a TimesSelect piece, I am advised that I must register and this screen provides no place to sign in manually. The classic locale between a rock and a hard place.

One call to the Times produced a suggestion that I reboot my computer to clear the cache. Did it, but it didn't fix the problem. Then, following a suggestion found on the web, I signed on to the Times website using my email as user ID. That didn't work.

An email to the Times last Sunday, which promises a reply in 24 hours has yet to produce a reply.

Then I called the Times again, yesterday afternoon, as was advised that a supervisor would have to call me back to "walk you through the process." As of this afternoon, no such call.

Frankly, I give up. I'll focus on the vast array of free opinion columnists out there. I really feel sorry for the 500 Times staffers who are losing their jobs, but clearly the Times' management is not up to the challenge of the new media environment.

Roberts Vote - Durbin and Schumer Vote No

Senators Schumer and Durbin vote No, as I guessed.

Judiciary Committee Vote on Roberts

As of this moment the WaPo reports that, on the Democratic side, Kennedy, Feinstein and Biden have voted No, while Leahy, Kohl and Feingold have voted Yes. All Republicans are expected to vote Yes.

That leaves Schumer and Durbin. Schumer will definitely vote No. He cannot afford to anger the pro-abortion interests in New York. Although I'm less familiar with the atmosphere in Illinois, my guess is that Durbin, one of the most liberal of Senators will also vote No.

Thus seven out of ten Democrats will have approved the nomination of possibly the most reasonable, non-dogmatic justice they could possibly have expected from this President. I'm betting that Bush will go for broke in the next nominee and make no attempt to mollify the Democrats. Why should he? He gained virtually nothing from the effort. All he needs to avoid is such a radical nomination that the Dems will filibuster and all 45 Dems stick together.

Mickey Kaus On The Failures Of Traditional Coalition Liberalism

Mickey Kaus provides a thorough fisking of Matt Yglesias' romantic clinging to the old FDR Democratic party. The fights that the unions bravely fought in the 30's through the 50's have now been institutionalized in our laws. Unions are shrinking across the board, except in government, where onerous labor contracts make the civil service ineffective and without innovation. At a time when government services in education and economic development are crucial to the essential advance of poor people, Americans no longer believe that government is an efficient tool for solving almost any problems.

Unions are less a part of the solution now. Rather they are part of the problem.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Utility of Cursing

In the ancient days of my adolescence, cursing was a joyful kind of rule breaking. We knew it was wrong, our mothers told us so. I actually had my mouth washed out with a particularly nasty tasting brown soap once.

It became a badge of our assumed manhood to sprinkle our language with profanities. But such words were not for mixed company. Women were then treated as a more decent, clean branch of the human race. Of course, regular beatings in Catholic school helped enforce the badness and dirtiness of these words in our minds.

Today's NY Times has an interesting piece on several studies about cursing that have recently been published. Much of the gist of these studies is that cursing serves the purpose of venting anger and thereby avoiding violence. There are also suggestions that the free exchange of forbidden words among the members of a group serves as a kind of binding mechanism. If people are free to use any words with one another, they are expressing their togetherness and openness with one another.

In my first post-college job as a welfare caseworker, most of my coworkers were women. I clearly remember my shock at the open, casual and almost universal use of four letter words. My experience would seem to verify that in the face of the high pressure burdens of large caseloads of very needy people, a group of workers from all religious and ethnic backgrounds will seek comfort and release in the shared violation of a social norm.

Shock soon melted into a joyful acceptance in this shared badness. It felt good. It did reduce internal conflict and it allowed us to blow off the stress of our jobs and keep coming back for more.

The Times also provides the political context for this issue, which is the bill currently in the Senate that would fine broadcast stations and broadcasters up to $500,000 for the use of so called obscenities on the air. This is one of the disturbing trends of our growing nanny state. In this case Republicans, seeking to pander to their religious supporters appear willing to further supress free expression. Will the person who recently told V.P. Chenney to, "go fuck himself", be subject to a fine for offensive speech in a newly purified America? I hope not.

One group trying to mount an opposition to this kind of nonsense is TV Watch. Check out their website and sign up if you agree.

Blogging "Lost" Continued II

I thought it was superb. The flashbacks seemed to be meaningless explorations of Jack's motivations and then, bang, the guy from the arena step-running episode turns out to be the guy in the underground facility...I think.

Interesting and promising decision to basically give viewers the answer to most of the first season's question about what the Island is, or appears to at least. The promise is that much more fleshing out of details and twisting and turning of the plot lies ahead for us to enjoy.

One question occurs. If I'm not mistaken, the Quarantine sign was inside the hatch, indicating that whatever is outside the underground bunker is being labeled as quarantined. That would make the underground guy a kind of monitor for whoever created this quarantine space for the unnamed "it" on the Island. Also, it appeared that the ladder visible at the top of the entry hatch did not extend all the way down when Kate fell. That would imply that there was some sort of elevator mechanism to bridge the gap between the bottom of the hole and the bottom of the ladder.

Here we go, off again down the rabbit hole that will make me really hate the repeats when ABC begins dropping them in as a way of "extending" the season. And, here's hoping that we end this season at a place none of us will have anticipated.

Blogging "Lost" Continued

Great opening! I thought we were back in flashback land, but not so. Some dude has been living under the Island for 30 odd years. A quick Google check shows the song "Make Your Own Kind of Music" was released in 1969.

Back to flashback land. Mercifully brief, but how did shots of Jack in an ER inform Locke's question about why he is afraid to go into the hatch?

The hell with blogging scene by scene. Back with thoughts after the show.

Blogging "Lost"

Tonight "Lost" returns to the air. Hooray! It was about the only show last year that I regarded as "must see TV".

I'm now watching the review pre-show, which seems to be focusing on the backstory segments of the show. I must say that these have always been the least satisfying part of the show for me. One tolerates it because, in the first season, viewers need to get to know who these survivors are. But as the second season develops, I would hope to see less and less of these flashbacks.

If the writers cannot develop sufficiently interesting stories on the Island, with all its weird accoutrements, I will be upset. It will be a failure of imagination.

Here's hoping for a good opening for season two.

Stupid Bush Decisions of the Day, II

Michele Malkin provides extensive linkage about the appointment of person with no immigration experience at all to head the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.

Following hard on the heels of l'affair Brownie, this is another foolish abuse of the hiring procedures at the Department of Homeland Security. Is Chertoff a willing accomplice, or is he asleep at the wheel?

My objection is not about this kind of cronyism as such, it is among the highest traditions of the political craft. Tammany Hall and the Chicago Dalys are two prime exemplars of its highest achievements. It is just that these people don't seem to understand that the security of the country now depends on the competent management of the Department of Homeland Security.

Stupid Bush Decisions of the Day, I

Thanks to Jeff Jarvis for highlighting a report in the Washington Post about the FBI recruiting agents, presumably away from assignments having to do with anti-terrorist or real crime fighting, to join an anti-porn squad.

This has nothing to do with child porn or anything in the exploitive nature of porn. It is all about putting a group together who will be forced to look at piles of porn to try to find examples that will make a case for the violation of some community's standard of decency. No doubt there are places in America, say Greenville, South Carolina, home of Bob Jones "University", where most of what passes for advertising in glossy magazines would offend their sense of propriety.

This choice by A.G. Gonzales demonstrates the administration's willingness to sacrifice focus on important issues to pander to what it believes to be its base. If I were in Congress I would worry that these people are off the hook now that reelection is not an issue W, Carl and Co.

How Long Till This Piece Finds Its Way Into The Left Side of the Blogosphere?

The Onion has a funny piece on the Bush Administration fearing the coming terror of Cindy Sheehan, who's expected at the gates again following the alleged death of a second son fighting the floods in NOLA.

It will be intersting to see if this morphs into a new "truth" about the evils of the Administration.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Progressive Gospel on Katrina

In the current issue of Dissent, Peter Dreier lays out the party line of "progressives" about Katrina. Simply put, everything, except perhaps the storm itself, is the fault of Bush, the conservatives, the Republicans and, apparently, Barbara Bush's insensitivity.

No where is there any mention of a State or local responsibility for disaster planning. Only the Federal government exists in Dreier's world view and only New Deal level of Federal effort will suffice. Poverty, Dreier implies, would have been erased if only government would answer his question:

"What responsibility, if any, does the federal government have to provide Americans with decent housing, access to health care, and opportunities for work that pays a living wage?"

No mention of the entrenched culture of poverty exacerbated and perpetuated in New Orleans and elsewhere by progressive local governments. No mention of substance abuse, failing local schools, subcultures which devalue achievement and the countless other factors that impact on the persistence of poverty.

One has the feeling that Dreier has been preaching this sermon since the close of the Johnson Administration and, no doubt, getting "amens" from the choir.

From Our "Friends" in Egypt

MEMRI reports an op-ed piece in the Egyptian Government daily paper, Al-Akhbar, that continues to repeat the dreck that passes for political thought in our recently "democratized" ally.

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Type Out Cybersex Emails...

The Scientific American reports that researchers at Berkeley have figured out how to interpret what is typed into a computer keyboard just from the sound. They claim to have achieved better than 88% accuracy.

Is nothing sacred?

Another Gem From The Onion

Some may find it offensive (although I can't imagine who in this great cess pool that is the world wide web), but this "advice column" from the Onion is hilarious. A much needed break from the world.

Mississippi Tacking Care of Business in Absence of FEMA

Far from the madding crowd of media types swarming around NOLA, the people of the Magnolia State's Gulf Coast seem to be a great job in the face of a non-existent and now sluggish Federal response in the aftermath of Katrina. The WAPO reports how local officials did what they had to do, by any means necessary, to help their people survive.

Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan and one of his annoymous correspondents.

NY Times Rediscovers Poverty

In the Metro section of today's NYT Anthony Ramirez reports on a fire that left 70 people homeless, at least temporarily. As the story itself reports:

"In the last 10 years in New York City, according to the Fire Department, there have been nearly 317,000 of what are known as structural blazes, including apartment fires. Nearly 1,400 people have died in these fires, and tens of thousands have been dispossessed."

The Times however reported on barely any of them. So in one of its infrequent expeditions into the foreign territory of far away Washington Heights it examines the immediate aftereffects of an apartment fire.

The stories headline appears to have determined the tack the story would take. It reads, "Homeless After a Fire, And Feeling Overlooked in Katrina's Shadow."

If read carefully, the story reports that victims feel anxious about their belongings, identification, public assistance benefit cards, etc., which is perfectly understandable. They, or the reporter, are also worried that the Red Cross will not be as responsive as it otherwise would be because of its involvement in Katrina recovery. However, the local manager of the Red Cross, the State public welfare officials assert that all their immediate needs will be met within one day.

Of course, like anyone who experiences a tragedy, the victims wish that in the best of all possible worlds they could be made whole tomorrow. Sadly that can never be the case when disaster occurs. While it is also true that the poor need more help from government and NGO's than those who suffer a fire in the West Village, those forms of assistance are here and are available.

The entire piece is a non-story prompted, it seems, by the reawakening of the Times to the presence of poverty in Manhattan. Or perhaps the editors were in part motivated by a review of the weekend edition's advertising and the Arts, Bookreview and Style sections of the paper, which pander to its principle clientele, the very comfortable citizens of Manhattan and its tonier suburbs.

TimesSelect Continuing Technical Problems

Ann Althouse reports today the exact experience I have had over the last few days. Those of us who have managed to leap through the prior set of technical hurdles I reported here, have now discovered there is actually no way to sign on to the bloody thing.

This long-planned exercise in bad judgment has now had the worst implementation of any major new internet initiative in memory.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Louisiana Homeland Security Under Indictment

Captain Ed reports links to an LA Times story reporting that several officials of the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security were under indictment before Katrina hit. According to the LAT:

"For instance, a Nov. 30, 2004, report by Tonda L. Hadley, a director in the Denton field office, examined $40.5 million sent to the Louisiana agency, mostly for the Hazard Mitigation program. The report found that the state's emergency office did not have receipts to account for 97% of the $15.4 million it had awarded to subcontractors on 19 major projects."

They also note:

"The day before the report was issued, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Louisiana obtained an indictment against Michael L. Brown, deputy director of the Louisiana office of emergency preparedness. (Brown is no relation to former FEMA director Michael D. Brown who resigned this week.) Louisiana's deputy director oversaw the state's Hazard Mitigation program.
Brown was charged with conspiring to obstruct the inspector general's investigation and for making a false statement to a federal investigator. Michael C. Appe, another senior state agency official, also was charged with obstructing the audit. Months earlier, Appe had been appointed as head of a "surge team" to review projects funded with FEMA money. The team's mission was to help spot abuses."

As could be expected, whenever there are millions of dollars floating around, the scum bags will come out of the woodwork. What can we expect will occur to the fortunes in public and private funds about to descend on the Gulf coast.

Can't Register for the NY Times "TimesSelect"

Leaving aside the wisdom, or lack thereof, displayed by the Times in segregating its opinion columnists in a kind of pay-per-view ghetto, it now turns out that present subscribers to the hard copy Times can't register for the new TimesSelect service, which is advertised to be free for such subscribers.

For the last four days I have attempted unsuccessfully to register. Each time an apparent system glitch fails to complete the process. Today a call to the 866 number frustrated subscribers are referred to confirmed that the, "system is down." I was asked to try back in a few hours and assured they were working on the problem. What happened? Did the Times use FEMA to help with their own mini-disaster recovery? Will heads roll, or will the Times show Bush-like loyalty to its computer staff?

Frank Rich Has Reached a New Low

Paraphrasing Joseph Welch's famous shaming of McCarthy during the Army-McCarthy hearings, until this moment, Mr. Rich, I never gauged your recklessness.

In today's piece in the Times, Rich crafts yet another of his endless show business analogies, which substitute in his world for logic. This time it is Toto's exposure of the Wizard of Oz as a mortal man. Here is the money quote:

"The worst storm in our history proved perfect for exposing this president because in one big blast it illuminated all his failings: the rampant cronyism, the empty sloganeering of "compassionate conservatism," the lack of concern for the "underprivileged" his mother condescended to at the Astrodome, the reckless lack of planning for all government operations except tax cuts, the use of spin and photo-ops to camouflage failure and to substitute for action."

Note that buried in the middle of his short, undocumented, litany is a reference to Bush's mother's condescending statement at the Astrodome. Clearly it was condescending, but since when did we hold any adult children accountable for the utterances of their parents. Not only is Bush assumed to share his mother's views, but Rich lists it as if it were plainly the President's own feeling.

Was Jimmie Carter held accountable for all of Miss Lillian's statements? If mother's are now fair game, how about siblings. Does anyone recall Rich holding Presidents Carter and Clinton accountable for the shenanigans of brothers Billie and Roger? I doubt it.

Are there no limits to the bag of tricks, substituting for thought, that will be used in the name of Bush-Hating? I pray for Mr. Rich's sake that no moron out there tries to hold him accountable for any foolishness by elderly members of his family. It would be equally immoral. He has plenty to account for of his own doing. As does Mr. Bush.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Accurate Hurricane Katrina Timeline

Factcheck.org has just published a detailed timeline of the relevant sequence of events in this tragedy. Each occurrence is clearly documented and no conclusions are drawn. It is a straightforward explication of the facts.

My only continuing question about this sad train of events relates to the report (only one AP report is sited) of roving bands of armed looters, who Mayor Nagin ordered the police to deal with instead of continuing their search and rescue efforts. There has been much scattered reporting of snipers and other forms of gunfire, but, to my eye, precious little solid documentation. I smell rumors run amok, but only later investigations will be able to establish the facts. And it should be noted that Factcheck.org did not find enough credibility to these reports, other than Mayor Nagin's statement and order to his police, to publish them in this timeline.

Predicting the Judiciary Committee Vote

I tend to agree with Daffydd at Captain's Quarters that virtually all the Democrats will vote to confirm Roberts, with Teddy Kennedy the only likely "no" vote.

They have been unable to "Bork" him on any of the issues. Despite what were probably months of effort to find some dirt with which he could be "Thomased", they are left with only a vague feeling of distrust because of Roberts' unwillingness to declare himself a closet liberal.

The real fight will be over the next nomination. The NARAL ad campaign was only a taste of what is to come. The left came out with guns blazing when it seemed that Roberts would be replacing the swing vote of Justice O'Connor. When Rehnquist had the bad manners to die on them it was too late to pull their punches. If the Democrats vote against the moderate sounding Roberts, they will have no credibility with the public once they start crying wolf about the next nominee.

The Roberts Nomination

Although I have not blogged about the Roberts hearing, I did watch the proceedings almost obsessively. My general impression is that Roberts came across as a kind of lawyer as technocrat. Devoted to and in love with the sometimes cold logic of the law. He does not appear to have a political axe to grind, which will probably make him one of those Justices who have careers on the Court that surprise and confound both their supporters and detractors.

As for the Senators, their endless capacity, on both sides of the isle, for bloviating, pompousness and dullness is astounding. For me the signal moment came on the last day following one of the panels of witnesses. Joe Biden, whom I have previously admired, if not always agreed with, chose to react by remonstrating his audience about the tragedy caused by judges who would deprive the poor, the sick, the victimized and downtrodden of their right to sue a state that failed to implement rules attached to Federal funding correctly. He rose to theatrical heights of passion.

The problem, which anyone who listened to the prior days of the hearings would have learned, is that courts only rule that individuals have no right to sue because some laws, not all, do not include a specific declaration that makes this remedy available. As Roberts said, and it was unchallenged, the Congress can fix this problem by simply including a sentence of the appropriate language in all relevant legislation.

Sen. Biden, it appears, would rather devoted all his passion and energy to keeping such nefarious judges off the bench, rather than adding simple boilerplate language to legislation. He seemed foolish while actively kissing up to the advocacy groups represented in front of him at the time.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Costs of Government Rise, The Number of People Shrinks

As Andrew Sullivan points out, the size of the budget and the national debt have risen. The crucial point for me is that in spite of this enormous spending, most of it is in the form of direct grants or grants to the states. The number of employees at the state and local level has been climbing at an extraordinary rate, while the size of the Federal government has shrunk, as noted at my post below.

We may be spending vastly more money, but I think that we may have now reached a point where the essential functions cannot be carried out by the shrunken workforce. On the civilian side we see failures of security and emergency response. On the military side, our forces can't subdue and control the situation in Iraq. Where is the ground swell for growing the size of our forces in a post Cold War world? They barely exist. Is Rumsfeld trying to make do with an inadequate force because he just enjoys the challenge, or is he trying to do the best he can with inadequate resources?

Politicians like DeLay take great pride in "cutting" bureaucracy and reduced Defense spending, but spend like drunken sailors in projects that they can show as pouring fortunes into their constituencies. Policy in our republic is determined by re-election concerns at all levels, not by concepts of rational planning and management.

The Size of the Federal Government

Continuing on the theme of the size of government in the face of modern complexity, this pdf spreadsheet is available from the website of the Government Printing Office. It shows that the number of civilian employees per one thousand citizens has been shrinking relatively steadily since 1969.

A graph of these figures looks like this:Sorry for the small size, but it's the largest Blogger permits. The bottom axis shows, left to right, the years 1962 - 2005. The number of Federal Civilian employees per one thousand of the total population is shown on the left axis. The scale is from 8.0, at the bottom to 16.0. at the top.

At least for the Federal Government, how are so few employees to keep their fingers, figuratively, in the dike when they are required to maintain such a growing flood of requirements.

It is easy to blame and fire a few managers or employees each time a failure becomes known. But perhaps the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our employees, but in ourselves.

Is Government Capable of Succeeding?

Following on the heels of Katrina we have another incident, the failure to act on warnings of al Qaeda highjackings reported by the 9/11 Commission. Instead of starting endless recriminations about which President failed to do what, perhaps we need to ask a more basic question.

These failures of government to perform the basic tasks force one to ask if the government is in fact any longer capable of performing the essential core tasks of any civil society. Has modern government become so metastasized that it is overwhelmed by the sheer detail in a futile attempt to do it all? As if it all had equal importance.

Surely the lobbyists, advocates, Congress members and their staffs, bureaucrats, regulation writers, lawyers, journalists, etc. would, and do, spend their lives insisting that every jot and tiddle of every law, regulation, hearing and report issued is vital to America. Like all of us, these people need to think that their work is important. And, in modern America we have all become very skilled in demanding attention to our point of view.

Life in general is vastly more complex today than in the past. The requirements of government are no less so. (Just look at the daily book-sized issuance of new and proposed regulations that is the Federal Register) Can we continue to grow in complexity and accomplish it all without vastly growing the number of employees doing these tasks? Can we focus ourselves on the truly valuable tasks and accept less than perfect, even shoddy, attention to the lesser ones? Who and how would the truly valuable tasks be identified? Is consensus on such things beyond us as a society?

Just asking.

Failure to Act on Pre-9/11 Warnings

The Times reports that according to a classified report by the 9/11 Commission:

"American aviation officials were warned as early as 1998 that Al Qaeda could "seek to hijack a commercial jet and slam it into a U.S. landmark," according to previously secret portions of a report prepared last year by the Sept. 11 commission. The officials also realized months before the Sept. 11 attacks that two of the three airports used in the hijackings had suffered repeated security lapses."

The report does not go on to specify the source(s) of the information or the names of the two airports in question.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Media Matters Obsession With David Brooks

Today's Media Matters front page goes on endlessly about Brooks "admission" that the White House has, from day one, decided as a matter of policy to never admit any mistakes or fire anyone. Instead of now updating their rant to in any way reflect that the President today did take responsibility for the failings of the Federal government in the Katrina mess, they apparently stand by the ravings of their OCD-plagued staff. But then, who expected anything like reasonableness from rabid advocates such as this outfit.

Their chief complaint seems to be that Brooks hasn't written about this in the NYT, and that he has only spoken about it on Chris Mathews Sunday show. Anyone want to guess the relative size of Mathews' audience compared to the readership of the OpEd page of the Times?

Just for the record, Brooks has in fact written about this issue in his inaugural column in the Times, according to Daniel Drezner. The original Brooks column is archived by the Times, and only available at a price.

45 Found Dead In New Orleans Hospital

While the Times reports of the awful discovery of 45 people who were not evacuated, the website of Tenet Healthcare Corp. still has a news release dated August 30 which states that all their area hospitals (including Memorial) will be evacuated by the end of the day. What happened? Why was Memorial Medical Center not evacuated? This is yet another failure that must be investigated.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Mark Helprin, Required Reading

Mark Helprin has written one of his all too infrequent pieces for the WSJ Opinion website. Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for noting it. It is an extraordinarily provocative piece that asserts across the board strategic failures of post Cold War American policy and politics.

Key quote: "Ceaselessly, we court strategic error. At the end of the Cold War, assuming that history had concluded, we discarded too much military power. This continues through the present, rationalized by reference to transformation. But it is yet further error to believe that military-technical evolution can make up for the kind of deficiencies and poor strategic judgments from which no machine can save an army. Continual and remarkable innovation is both indispensable and expensive, but President Clinton required budgetary choice between innovation and everything else, and his successor has yet to disagree. The root of the error that offers transformation as a substitute for so much that is crucial is the conviction that having both would exceed reasonable military expenditures and somehow break the common weal.

Having made many wrong choices, we find ourselves at yet another strategic crossroads, where invisibly to the general public we are about to choose wrongly again. We are reshaping the military into a gendarmerie, configured for small wars, counterinsurgency, peacekeeping and nation-building, all at the expense of the type of force that could deter or defeat a rising China. Although we need a gendarmerie, we cannot do without heavy formations and the many additional ships required for a navy--now less than half the size of the Reagan fleet and shrinking--to exploit our natural advantage in the Pacific."

Check it out. It is a piece of public thought of a kind rarely witnessed these days.

Sen. Landrieu Lashes Out

The Times reports of Sen. Landrieu's anguish and anger, which is apparently solely directed at Pres. Bush. No anger is reserved for any of her colleagues in Congress, the State government or the City of New Orleans. Incongruously, late last week the Senator was filmed in a helicopter over the city when she pointed out that only one bulldozer was pushing earth into the levee breach. This sight made her cry in frustration that, again, the Federal government had only provided one bulldozer. Of course the problem with her judgment in this instance was that the earthen levee is only 15 - 20 feet wide. Only one of these large bulldozers could possibly fit in the space to do this work. This fact, like apparently many others, has escaped the Senator's view, which seems only able to encompass her anger at Bush for having campaigned against her, nearly unseating her in the last election.

Politics poisons everything in this tragedy.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Rebuilding New Orleans

Enough of the crisis has passed that the future of the Big Easy can now be considered.

1. New Orleans Must Be Rebuilt:

It is the seedbed of American music and much of its popular culture. Its unique French/Creole sub-culture of Mardi Gras, Burbon Street, ragtime, Mardi Gras Indians, the Napoleonic Code, Stanley Kowalski, all of it, is a treasure of the American nation.

It must be preserved.

2. No one should live below sea level unless absolute super-engineering of levees, canals, etc, guarantees no flooding in the face of a Category 5 Hurricane. Such guarantees would not be worth the paper they are written on.

In last Sunday's NY Times, Jason DeParle had an excellent piece on the inevitable preponderance of poor and black people left behind to suffer and John M. Barry laid out the history of the city's fruitless flood prevention efforts, which have only exposed it to further danger by destroying the protective delta silt deposits of the Delta after the last great flood of 1927.

If the low lying neighborhoods of what has been New Orleans are allowed to be repopulated, does anyone believe they will now fill with gentrifying yuppies? Only poor blacks will end up living in these tenuous sections while the soil of the city continues to sink at the rate of one half inch per year. An unconscionable outcome.

3. The only solution is to preserve the French Quarter, the riverfront and the highrise business district and to expand the building of sturdy steel and concrete multistory buildings into the flood plain. Local code must assure that essential electric, water and other infrastructure be redesigned to withstand the floods which will surely come. If those areas and new buildings are to be housing that will retain the socioeconomic patterns that were the city, permanent, assurable evacuation, transportation and sheltering mechanisms must be in place, regardless of the city's fiscal issues or political turnover.

The cost of rebuilding New Orleans will be great. The cost to our souls of simply reestablishing expendable wood frame ghettos would mean the end of America as an honorable nation. I, for one, have no desire to ever see in my lifetime a repeat of such a disgraceful failure of foresight that makes me feel ashamed of my country.

Get Rid of Michael Brown

I have been focusing on the culpability of the local and state authorities in the Katrina tragedy, but clearly the failures of FEMA are equally inescapable. The focus on demanding the firing of Brown led by Andrew Sullivan and Michele Malkin from the right and the entire left wing blogosphere initially struck me as facile and not helpful in the short term. But now I think that he must be held accountable for his failures.

Bush clearly screwed up when he hired an unqualified hack such as Brown to run FEMA. It was especially unconscionable in a post 9/11 world where horrid emergencies will surely need managing. I don't care about the future of the Republican party at all, but I am convinced that unless Bush begins to behave like he actually was in charge of this government soon, we will have a Democratic Congress come 2006. Considering the Democrats complicity in sucking up the pork and thereby diverting funds from essential projects like the N.O. levees, electoral success is not something that they deserve either.

More important than any elective considerations, the good of the nation demands that someone solid, dare I mention the name Rudy Giuliani, be put in charge. Brown must go.

Incredible Photos of N.O. Before, During and After Katrina

A guy named Alvaro Morales has posted almost 200 pictures in Kodak Gallery that he took of New Orleans as he rode out the storm. It presents a personal and intimate view of the large, almost ungraspable event.

Apparently he lived and worked in the Quarter. Check it out.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Local Planning Failures in New Orleans

Glenn Reynolds has an excellent list of the lessons learned to date in New Orleans. Hopefully, following a protracted series of recriminations, a blue ribbon panel will flesh out his list and craft recomendations to assure this doesn't happen again.

I was an administrator for local government in the area of the Indian Point Nuclear Plant. The local county, city and towns have developed extensive plans, rehearsed and updated regularly, to evacuate the area in case of a problem at the plant. These plans specifically deal with evacuation routes, buses being mobilized for those without transport, pre-set routes and bus stops. Children and the sick and elderly are given special attention in these plans. Relocation sites, health, food, water, shelter, all are accounted for.

Arguably, a failure of a nuclear plant is unlikely. It is certainly not the absolutely predictable tragedy we have now witnessed in New Orleans. It is also probable that any plan will not be carried out as neatly as envisioned in the abstract. But in New Orleans the local government apparently had a plan and then ignored it, no doubt in part because the city was abandoned by many of the first responders, who were probably seeing first to the safety of themselves and their families, also an absolutely predictable event in cities where, for political reasons, employees must live within city limits.

The size of any response required by state and Federal entities, once an emergency has occured, is directly proportional to the competence of the planning and the actual evacuation. Resolution of this in future will require public assessment of local planning, especially in New Orleans and Los Angeles (the next most likely site of a tragedy). It is crucial that this assessment be done in a way that will achieve the trust of the public in their objectivity. They must be politics free.

Monday, September 05, 2005

New Orleans Aftermath

David Brooks has nailed the fact that the New Orleans tradgedy comes at the end of a string of confidence eroding events. At this early date in the 21st Century the future looks bleak indeed for America's sense of its own wellbeing. The big question is, can our complex federalist political structure, with its complex interrelationships among Federal, State, County and Local governments really operate effectively in a confusing and dangerous world? I don't know any longer and I have no faith that we are a people who can arrive at a consensus about how to fix ourselves.

Let's watch how we decide to rebuild New Orleans. Do we take the easy route and simply restore the city as it was, sinking half an inch a year and facing accelerated deterioration of the protective Mississippi Delta. (Thanks to WRETCHARD at The Belmont Club, here and here.) Or do we come to a truly courageous combination of restoration, radical redesign and protective enhancements that will allow the Big Easy to live into the forseeable future. We'll see.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

New Orleans, The Recriminations Begin

Things are not going well in New Orleans. It seems to be taking an inordinate amount of time to mobilize boats, choppers, trucks, whatever it takes to get to stranded people and move them to safety. The police appear to not have an effective presence and there is as yet no major National Guard involvement.

The cable networks, who yesterday focused on the looting, are now raving about shots being fired at helicopter, hospital staff and police. The probability is that one or two shots were in fact fired and are now ricocheting through the media. It appears, regretibly, that these rumors are impacting the rescue response, providing an excuse for slowing it further.

Why would anyone shoot at a chopper? I can only think of two reasons: madness and fear that the authorities are coming to raid someones cache of looted property. Both seem unlikely and can surely not be widespread.

The political lunatics are poking their heads up the usual suspects (Bush from the left and probably soon Clinton from the right) for the entire mess. As if a category 4 - 5 huricane smacking right into a city of nearly 1 million situated largely below sea level could produce anything but awful results. This has been known since the city of New Orleans was settled by large numbers of people over a century ago. Lets blame it on Millard Fillmore.

David Brooks touches on the truth of this tragedy in today's piece. Those with the mental, physical and financial resources got out. Those without these resources are left to suffer. Sadly, as is all too often the case, those left behind were black and poor.

Lastly, the Astrodome is a very bad idea for a refugee center. No arena has plumbing that can survive the 24/7 onslaught by a small city's worth of people. Long lines and breakdowns are going to be constant.

As for the space, looking at the TV shots of cots spread close together on the floor of the Astrodome, they do not appear to be anywhere near the number needed to sleep tje 25,000 people who are supposedly coming from the Superdome. I was unable to find any reference on the web to the square footage of the Astrodome floor, but if a cot is 3x6 or 18 square feet, then 25,000 would require 450,000 square feet, without allowing for any necessary space for movement, or to allow some minimum space between people. Assuming the floor is a rectangle, which it is not, it is oval, that would be a dimension of about 900 x 500 feet, the length of 3 football fields, not counting end zones. The width would equal the width of almost 10 fields. In fact, the floor only holds one football field and a bit more.

I would guess that the floor space will only accomodate no more than 10,000 - 12,000 people. Probably a good deal less when you consider that people will be living cheek by jowl for months.

Are the authorities in Texas now preparing to forward buses full of refugees to alternate sites. How many are available?
Are the refugees being told what to expect? Is anybody out there looking at the whole picture? Not so's you'd notice.

Shooting Off My Big Mouth

Why the name "Hogan's Alley"? Well, it captures two references that are important to me. Golf, at which I torture myself, and the "Allen's Alley" of the long gone Fred Allen's radio show.

The golf reference is to the Riviera Country Club in L.A., which Ben Hogan made his own in 1948. The Fred Allen reference is to a recurring bit on his weekly radio show, which I am too young to remember, but which my father loved, in which Allen would "interview" a sequence of regional stereotypes in a comical attempt to take the pulse of the country.

My intent with this blog is to try to think out loud about world events, films, photography, music, books and anything else that catches my fancy. In this way I hope to get things off my chest in a way that someone else can read and react to, thereby helping to refine my thinking. If these musing also provide food for thought for others, so much the better.

Update: Hogan's Alley also refers to a Nintendo game from the 80's and a FBI training site. The game, which is the most common hit on Google, involves bad guys popping up in order to be shot by the player, or trainee at the FBI's Quantico facility. While I was not aware of this reference when I chose a name for this blog, it too may be a suitable metaphor for what I will attempt to do here.