Friday, July 28, 2006

Not with a wizbang but a... 

Conservative New Orleanian blogger Paul has quit Wizbang!, saying it "ain't fun any more".

Here's the background to the internet kerfuffle which led Paul to quit. It involves a debate over "sockpuppetry" which devolved into threats about turning Paul's name into an internet verb. Or something like that.

We've had our dust-ups with Paul in the past, and (quite frankly) we get along a lot better with Jay Tea, who seems a quintillion times as fun-loving as Paul. But Paul had a few sharp insights over the years, especially post-Katrina. I hate to see a New Orleanian pack it in because of this Acehole's venom. (Hmm. Ace of Spades site is currently down. Perhaps there was a cowbell malfunction after the low GDP number was released.)
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BigHead Strikes Again 

Light posting today. Locals should familiarize themselves with the Unified New Orleans Plan site.

For political commentary, go read Eric Martin's recent work (plus this one). Lately, he's been crushingly good on Iraq. Just hitting them outta the park, again and again, like Ralph Kiner used to do at Forbes Field (462' to center).

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In other news, I still can't get over how After the Levees cropped my headshot. The Ramones album is no longer visible in the background and the smaller frame makes my fat face look even more freakishly big.





This is what the pic should look like. Not wonderful, but at least you can see my prized autographed Rocket to Russia album lurking in the shadows. (Do not click to enlarge.)












Your Friday Ten Fourteen:

"Rocket To Russia" (1977)

Cretin Hop
Rockaway Beach
Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
Locket Love
I Don't Care
Sheena Is A Punk Rocker
We're A Happy Family
Teenage Lobotomy
Do You Wanna Dance?
I Wanna Be Well
I Can't Give You Anything
Ramona
Surfin' Bird
Why Is It Always This Way?
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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Disaster 

Update: Check out the blog, and the book here.
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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

FL, CA: This is why we call them the Corpse of Engineers 

Here's a few relevant quotes followed by a suggestion at the end.

"The federal government is committed to building the best levee system known in the world." --Reconstruction Czar Donald Powell (12/14/05)


"The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer." -- Motto of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during World War II.


Florida:

Two months ago, the Army Corps of Engineers reacted with anger when state consultants called the Herbert Hoover Dike "a grave and imminent danger" to human life.

The consultants likened the leak-prone dike around Lake Okeechobee to the levees that failed in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, saying only heroic repairs had staved off similar disasters in the Glades. The corps' leader in Florida, Col. Robert Carpenter, denounced those words as "sensationalism," "cavalier," even "downright irresponsible."

But the corps' own files are filled with more than 20 years of reports outlining the dike's dangers -- at times in words nearly as dire as the state's.

The documents warned of "a very serious risk of catastrophic failure," declared much of the dike "hazardous" at high lake levels and spoke of "the real potential for human suffering and loss of life" if the dike collapsed.


For cities along the lake, the corps wrote, "flooding of these communities would be severe and warning times would be limited." Emergency repairs in 1995 "may have prevented a breach," the corps' own outside experts reported three years later.

California:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has withdrawn its endorsement of levees protecting parts of Sacramento, reversing a 1998 evaluation that has facilitated a construction boom in the Natomas area.

In a letter released Tuesday to The Associated Press, the Corps' chief engineer in Sacramento attributed the decision to local and federal studies that have unearthed levee vulnerabilities.

"Based on this information, we can no longer support our original position regarding certification of the levee system surrounding the Natomas area," wrote Thomas E. Trainer, chief of the engineering division.
...
The certification led to skyrocketing development of the Natomas area - a section of the state capital north of downtown that flood experts now say could be submerged by at least 13 feet of water if the levees failed.


Washington Post opinion piece by Michael Grunwald:

Somehow, America has concluded that the scandal of Katrina was the government's response to the disaster, not the government's contribution to the disaster. The Corps has eluded the public's outrage -- even though a useless Corps shipping canal intensified Katrina's surge, even though poorly designed Corps floodwalls collapsed just a few feet from an unnecessary $750 million Corps navigation project, even though the Corps had promoted development in dangerously low-lying New Orleans floodplains and had helped destroy the vast marshes that once provided the city's natural flood protection.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's failures didn't inundate a city, kill 1,000 residents and inflict $100 billion in damages. Yet FEMA is justifiably disgraced, while Congress keeps giving the Corps more money and more power. A new 185-point Senate report on what went wrong during Katrina waits until point No. 65 to mention the Corps "design and construction deficiencies" that left New Orleans underwater.
...
Ever since Katrina, independent engineers have been pointing out grave problems with the Corps levee designs, and criticizing the agency for building on unstable soils. In congressional testimony last month, Lt. Gen. Carl A. Strock, the commander of the Corps, finally acknowledged "design flaws." But his damning admission got nowhere near as much attention as former FEMA director Michael Brown's e-mail about being a "fashion god."

So why aren't Americans angry? Because water resources policy is so boring? Because they're counting on the Corps to protect New Orleans from the next storm? Because they assume all the other Corps flood-control projects are properly designed and constructed?
...
Meanwhile, the Corps is rebuilding its New Orleans levees to mere Category 3 levels.

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California and Florida, here's a way you can thank Louisiana for the warning about deadly USACE design failures: tell your Reps and Senators to pass the most generous Oil Revenue Sharing bill possible.
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Basic Annstink 

After uncrossing her legs on a nationally televised interview, Ann Coulter claimed that Bill Clinton is a latent homosexual because he is a "promiscuous" boy.

That takes balls nerve.

I'll go on record saying that I don't think there are many lavender streaks on the Big Dog. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) He may be promiscuous, but his political "game is MVP like Steve Nash".
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Stalwart Protectors of "Family Values" 

Greg Peters links to a story about conservative columnist Carl Tritschler's recent arrest, and how this "Family Values" man pushed his wife to the floor, drug her around and spit on her (according to the police report). Greg also explains why this matters (above and beyond its scandalous entertainment value) and I share his sentiments in full.

Just to be fair and balanced, I'll also link to a story about a "Family Values" Democrat in Maryland, who was arrested for raping his 19-year old Latvian (mail order?) bride.

It's good to know these alleged wifebeaters and rapists were leading the effort to protect our families.
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FEMA backs down; changes policy 

Hooray for freedom! And congratulations to all who do not "bow" to unconstitutional policies. Scout Prime has all the quotes and background you need about the story.
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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

How does the richest, freest country on earth help its displaced citizens? 

Update: Big belated thanks to Crooks and Liars for the link., which set a one day record for hits at YRHT.
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Loki at Humid City posts a link to an extremely important and under-publicized article about FEMA trailer parks in South Louisiana. The images described are unbelievably outrageous, even for those of us who have practically subsisted on outrage in recent months and years. Picture this:


1. At several sites in South Louisiana, hundreds of identical white trailers stand in rows in cleared fields-- but over 9 in 10 of the trailers are empty.


2. One of the very few residents living in the Morgan City "Femaville" is a single mom with five kids-- 4 are under 12 years old. Since there's no bus service (or phones or mailboxes) at the trailer park, she must walk "several miles" to the grocery store. Frequently. In the South Louisiana summer heat. Lugging groceries and an 18 month old.


3. It gets worse. In one respect, FEMA seems extremely protective of displaced citizens' right to privacy. They refuse to give out displaced citizens' contact information to parish officials who want to make them aware of available temp housing near their former homes. So-- due to this lack of communication-- there are families who have lived in tents for the past six months because FEMA apparently won't tell them about available housing, and FEMA won't let Parish officials contact the displaced citizens, either.

HOWEVER, this "respect" for privacy suddenly evaporates when a Femaville resident wishes to talk with a reporter who is inquiring about the aforementioned outrages and absurdities.


[A FEMA spokesperson] confirmed that FEMA does not allow the media to speak alone to residents in their trailers.

"If a resident invites the media to the trailer, they have to be escorted by a FEMA representative who sits in on the interview," [a FEMA official] said. "That's just a policy."

Government "Minders" in your living room, watching what you say during an interview-- it's "just a policy".

Just a policy... Just a policy... That's quite a useful little phrase.


4. Were multi-million dollar trailer park contracts awarded to local construction companies that submitted the low bids? Hell no! They were awarded to out-of-state companies that bid millions of dollars more than the locals. And I'd bet the non-Louisiana companies come from a state that rhymes with "Lexus". Or "Vexes".

A Parish President laments: "Money has just gone out the window... My biggest disappointment has been the inexcusable waste of public funds..."

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Go read Loki's post, and the linked articles. I personally think a protest is in order. Can't you see it? "Citizen Journalists storm Femaville gates, Demand to visit with Catastrophe Victims in their homes without Government Minders present".


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Update: Editor B has more.
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Monday, July 24, 2006

 
Sunshine State Senatorial Candidate Katherine Harris:

We hear of Middle Easterners-- they could be fundamental extremists-- taking Hispanic names and coming into our country. We do not know where they are. This
is a matter of great national security.




YRHT hears of Extra Terrestrials-- they could be alien vampires-- assuming nearly-human forms and infiltrating our planet. We do not know where they are. This is a matter of great international security.
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