28 September, 2005

Good Call

Via Joshua Clayborn comes this. And I thank him for it.
Weis asked Montana if there was something he could do for him. He agreed to let Montana call the first play against Washington on Saturday. He called "pass right."

Montana never got to see the play. He died Friday at his home.

Weis heard about the death and called Mazurkiewicz on Friday night to assure her he would still call Montana's play.

"He said, 'This game is for Montana, and the play still stands,'" she said.
Just one more reason to cheer for the Irish this year. And just in case Coach Weis ever reads this, you are a good man, sir. Damn good.

26 September, 2005

A Shame What They're Teaching Kids These Days

After far too long without saying anything, I'm going to really open up today. Trust me on this one.

From Sunday's Denver Post comes a story about the folks that are using tours of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science as the launching pad for teaching kids about creationism.

And unfortunately, that's not a mistype, either:

God made dinosaurs on the sixth day of Creation, the same day he made people, according to Rusty Carter's interpretation of the Bible.

"The word 'dinosaur' was not invented back then, but in Job 38, there's two large creatures, behemoth and leviathan," said Carter, director of the Littleton-based Biblically Correct Tours, as he prepared to give his first tour of the school year.
"What do you guys think? Is the world really 4.5 billion years old?" Carter asked. "Nonsense!" one girl called out. The adults in the group smiled.
Tour leaders say they're trying to point out flaws in the "so-called science" of evolution, which contradicts their own understanding of Creation.

Most of the children on Saturday's tour attend Foothills Bible Church in Littleton. About half go to public school, the rest to Christian or home schools.

Many knew creationists' critiques of evolution: that scientists' methods of dating rocks are inaccurate, for example.

For Tanner Cameron, a fifth- grade student at Shaffer Elementary, a public school in Littleton, life's history finally began to make sense Saturday.

"Ohhhh," he said as Carter's colleague Tyson Thorne explained how fossils form. Thorne's story included water, mud, sudden catastrophe ...

"They're fossilized from the flood!" Cameron exclaimed. "So maybe the dinosaurs became extinct because of the flood?"
What he teaches comes direct from the Bible, Carter said:

  • The Earth is 6,000 years old.
  • The fossil Lucy, purportedly a transition between ape-like creatures and humans, is shoddy science.
  • Organisms can't evolve from one thing into another. "You might have a small change, like a tadpole to a frog, but nothing more than that," Carter said.
  • Now I just have to ask myself... What the heck does this guy think he's doing with arguments like these? Pretty soon, we're going to wonder why students from Colorado schools are being turned down for admission into respectable schools due to these sorts of wierdness and being told it's flat-out truth.

    Regretfully, the web version was significantly different than the print version found on store shelves over the weekend, but I do remember a few parts of them very clearly.
    • Rusty Carter does not have a Ph.D in any subject and belittles the importance of the degree by calling the acronym "Piling it High and Deep."
    • He instead has a degree in divinity.
    • He publicly states that the Grand Canyon was created by the Flood.
    • When the children were asked what kind of science was being displayed at the museum, the people from Biblically Correct Tours led them in the chant of "Bad! Bad! Bad!"
    Mr. Carter isn't teaching these kids, he's indoctrinating them. That's the only word I can think of to describe the actions depicted in the article (particularly the print one) and part of me feels that the word-choice is far too weak.

    And, of course, the Denver Post wasn't the only source for wierdness on the ID front over the last two days. Via Balloon Juice comes this from the other, slightly less meaningful Post in Washington:
    But decoding chimpanzees' DNA allowed scientists to do more than just refine their estimates of how similar humans and chimps are. It let them put the very theory of evolution to some tough new tests. When scientists announced last month they had determined the exact order of all 3 billion bits of genetic code that go into making a chimpanzee, it was no surprise that the sequence was more than 96 percent identical to the human genome.

    If Darwin was right, for example, then scientists should be able to perform a neat trick. Using a mathematical formula that emerges from evolutionary theory, they should be able to predict the number of harmful mutations in chimpanzee DNA by knowing the number of mutations in a different species' DNA and the two animals' population sizes.

    "That's a very specific prediction," said Eric Lander, a geneticist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Mass., and a leader in the chimp project.

    Sure enough, when Lander and his colleagues tallied the harmful mutations in the chimp genome, the number fit perfectly into the range that evolutionary theory had predicted.

    And later on:

    Today, in a courtroom in Harrisburg, Pa., a federal judge will begin to hear a case that asks whether ID or other alternative explanations deserve to be taught in a biology class. But the plaintiffs, who are parents opposed to teaching ID as science, will do more than merely argue that those alternatives are weaker than the theory of evolution.

    They will make the case -- plain to most scientists but poorly understood by many others -- that these alternatives are not scientific theories at all.

    "What makes evolution a scientific explanation is that it makes testable predictions," Lander said. "You only believe theories when they make non-obvious predictions that are confirmed by scientific evidence."

    Lander's experiment tested a quirky prediction of evolutionary theory: that a harmful mutation is unlikely to persist if it is serious enough to reduce an individual's odds of leaving descendants by an amount that is greater than the number one divided by the population of that species.

    The rule proved true not only for mice and chimps, Lander said. A new and still unpublished analysis of the canine genome has found that dogs, whose numbers have historically been greater than those of apes but smaller than for mice, have an intermediate number of harmful mutations -- again, just as evolution predicts.

    Now, this says to me that the ID/Creationists are embattled wherever they go. And will it cause them to think twice about trying to put religion into science? Most definately not. All this is saying to them is that they are an embattled minority. And all that does is put them, mentally at least, to when Christians were actually a persecuted minority back in the days of Imperial Rome.

    Tell me how can a religous group feel as a minority when over there are over 159 million Christians in the country? The various flavors of Christianity are so dominant in the country that they already pretty much run everything already. Unfortunately, some of them feel like that means they can change things so that those of us that aren't of their specific flavor of Christianity are forced to listen to their blather.

    I've an idea on how to keep the latter from becoming universal, but it's going to have to wait for a different post. This one's gone long enough as it is.

    19 September, 2005

    Why I'm Not Too Concerned

    Seems like tons of folks are still up in arms about the whole John Roberts thing. It's becoming almost unhealthy how the scorn-filled posts are just about everywhere these days...

    Oh wait. There aren't all that many of them, are there. In fact, running back for an entire week for the left-leaning ones on my blogroll, I can't find any. Zero, zip, nada, nothing, zilch, bugger-all. And this from everyone that's been screaming head-over-heels obsessed with him and praying for someone to find a bunch of old Polaroids with the nominee having wild crazy monkey sex with a toy poodle and his neighbor's twin daughters.

    Okay, maybe not the poodle part.

    So here's my views on the subject:

    (Of course they are my views on the subject! Sheeesh, OC, get a grip on yourself, will ya! Who else would be writing on this blog? Nobody. Not even a hacker would take over this piece of garbage... They'd want their deed to have an actual audience. Well, enough with the parenthetical comments.)

    Will Judge Roberts make decisions I disagree with? Definately. But that's no big suprise. Anyone other than myself will, at some point in time, do something that I will, either figuratively or literally, claw their eyes out for. Hell, look at the Kelo decision! And that piece of judicial dung was written up by the (supposedly) pro-individual side of the Court.

    Will Judge Roberts make decisions I agree with? Definately. And not simply in the manner of "a stopped clock is always right twice a day" way, either. Take Rhenquist, for example. The Chief wrote the decisions for a good number of the decisions out there, and I found that I liked the result of his decision at least 40% of the time. Now, that could just be because I'm a moderate Democrat rather than the screaming liberal of a Kos or Atrios. But I doubt it.

    Will Judge Roberts make his decisions honestly and from his own convictions? Yes to both. Regardless of his political viewpoint, I can see just from his extended interview with the Judiciary Committee that he honestly believes what he is saying. (Unlike, for example, Clarence Thomas and David Souter, who I believe both said what needed to be said in order to get seated on the Bench rather than their honest viewpoints.)

    And with these questions all being answered yes, then I have little to no problem with Roberts getting confirmed. He's about the same as Rhenquist was, in a political sense. Now, whether he'll be as effective as Chief Justice, particularly having to deal with a bunch of primadonnas on the Bench, is something that only the future will be able to tell us.

    18 September, 2005

    Constitution Day Redux

    Well, now that it's over and done with, what was the real verdict on Constitution Day?

    Oh, wait. You don't know what it is, do you. That's okay. It was pretty much buried by the major dailies on Page 15, below the fold, underneath the 4/5 page lingerie ads, where absolutely jack-all would see it unless they were obsessive newsies like Your Humble here. And I didn't hear a damn thing about it on the area newscasts either. So it's understandable that you haven't heard jack anything about it.

    So here's the official website. Go peruse at your leisure.

    Did you see the press release? Well, bugger. Go and read that before I continue... Don't worry about me. I've still got donuts.

    Still not going to read it, eh? Well, I know what to do with your types... I'll just blockquote it!
    All America will unite in the simultaneous recitation of the Preamble to the US Constitution all over the world on September 16. 2005 by schools and the military at home and overseas. Our website (www.constitutionday.com) will feature a short 3-5 minute film to be downloaded and played at exactly 11AM on the West Coast and 2PM on the East Coast. The Preamble will be led by General Tommy Franks via our film and this year the celebration will be dedicated to the military.
    Seems rather innocent, doesn't it? All the little kiddies standing in a row, shouting the Preamble at the top of their lungs. All the boys and girls in uniform reciting the very Constitution they are sworn to defend and protect...

    Well, that's not the rosy picture available out there for the majority of the blog-perusing public. I tried to get a nice, representative sample of opinions. I really did. Unfortunately, not even Google can help find what isn't all that obvious.

    Kip from A Stitch In Haste:
    --We are talking about an intrusive federal law mandating that states introduce a specific curriculum extolling the virtues of Tenth Amendment federalism. Does no one see the irony in that?

    --On the other hand, there's actually nothing in the Tenth Amendment or its jurisprudence declaring education as a "power reserved to the states." That's a convenient overlay that has been repeatedly paid lip service, but little else. No Child Left Behind was merely the last nail in the coffin burying the fiction of "leave the schools to the states."

    --As for that "all federal agencies" provision, I'd be just as happy, if not more so, if federal employees actually did their jobs on September 17 rather than watched prepackaged videos about separation of powers or federalism. This is just another paid holiday for them.
    And Hiram Hover giving a kind of back-handed positive:
    The good news is that the Department does not plan to monitor whether educational institutions that receive federal money—from grade schools to universities—are complying with the requirement that they teach students about the Constitution on September 17. Nor do the guidelines mandate the specific content of what is to be taught.
    And that's pretty much it. I tried to goad John Cole into posting on it, but to no avail.

    Instead, just for you, Mark the Pundit, I've got dancing badgers! Woo-hoo! And snakes, too!

    The rest of you, kindly ignore the above link. Trust me. It's for your own sanity.

    15 September, 2005

    Public Perception Is King

    Eric Seymour in response to a comment of mine:
    I'm completely amazed at how people are talking doom and gloom for the GOP for an election that is 14 months from now, based on the perception that the federal response to a hurricane was slow by a couple days. Seems to me like a case of wishful thinking on the left.
    It's very possible, Eric. Think about this bit of political history.
    • In December, 1995, the GOP-run Congress pressed the government shutdown into effect due to a veto by President Clinton against the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 1996. This was a factor in the Election Day loss of their majority 10 months later, not to mention Clinton's victory over Dole..
    • In 1988, after the full scope of the 1985 Iran-Contra Affair was explored, the Democrats increased their majority. (For the sake of honesty, a good chunk of those were due to retirements and those seeking other offices.) That was almost 3 years after the initial events, and no Americans not themselves involved in the Affair lost anything.
    • In 1980, Ronald Reagan and the rest of the Republicans rode a wave of popular sentiment and disgust at the perception of Carter's incompetence all the way into the White House. With the Iran Hostage Crisis beginning just under 12 months before the election, the embassy in Tehran was the albatross that dragged Carter down.
    • In 1973, Nixon resigned rather than face possible impeachment, leaving Gerald Ford to suffer the brunt of the voter's wrath 3 years later.
    • And in 1968, the albatross known as Vietnam was the significant factor in the utter defeat of LBJ. Whether Vietnam was his albatross all on his own or if it was entirely inherited from Kennedy is still a debate in some historical circles. But what is not in the debate is that it was a direct cause of his literal whoopin' in '68.
    In other words, over the last 8 Presidents, 6 of them experienced events that were maintained in the eyes of the average voter for at minimum 10 months.

    Which puts Bush and the Republican Party right back into the danger zone for 2006, doesn't it. This is about the perception of the events, and all it will take is the uprising (and possibly resurgant) Demo noise machine to make sure that it stays out there.

    10 September, 2005

    Playing The Numbers Game

    Serious question for you folks out there... If you're still out there, that is:

    Do Bush's approval numbers, or pos/neg trends, or any of the myriad of issue-specific polls that could possibly be run, actually mean anything right now?

    Josh Marshall just linked (with probable great personal satisfaction on his part) to these polls done by The Pew Research Center and Newsweek and displayed their "Bush bad, m'kay" meme in that nice bold color he uses for links. Yet do they actually mean anything in the great scheme of things?

    Not really. Anything that has the name Bush in a survey (unless it's asking about Brother Jeb down Florida way) will pretty much have zero effects from now until after he finishes off this (thank every known Diety in the Universe) last term of his Presidency. Bush 43 has lame-ducked himself into the Sea of Oblivion, with Democrats simply dismissing him as a bad mirage and the GOP sharks circling in anticipation of the day after Election Day, 2006, when pretty much everyone can finally stop bowing and scraping to him.

    But those Pew numbers aren't completely useless. Here is the section that really caught my eye, with emphases mine:
    The deep and enduring differences over Bush's presidency are once again evident in attitudes toward government's response to the disaster. Fully 85% of Democrats and 71% of independents think the president could have done more to get aid to hurricane victims flowing more quickly. Republicans, on balance, feel the president did all he could to get relief efforts going, but even among his own partisans 40% say he could have done more.

    Similarly, Democrats are much more critical than Republicans of the federal government's handling of the disaster. Roughly three-quarters of Democrats (76%) rate the federal government's efforts in this area as only fair or poor. Most Republicans (63%) give the federal government positive marks for its response to the hurricane.

    More than half of Democrats (56%) say they feel less confident in the government's ability to handle a major terrorist attack as a result of this crisis. A 65% majority of Republicans say the government's response to Katrina had no effect on their views on this issue.
    Did you catch those bits? This is the telling portion of the entire article, from what I can see. Any time the leader of the party only has 6 out of 10 from his base in support on any issue, that party is going to change leadership, or at least direction, very quickly. And without that broad base of screaming fans, the relationship with independents gets even more important, but with a 71% negative (even if only on this single issue), it doesn't look like they are getting on board.

    The Bush Trust is finally in serious trouble. I just wish it wouldn't have taken a hurricane combined with massive loss of life, property, and happiness, not to mention the destruction of a good chunk of an American city, to make it happen.

    09 September, 2005

    Just Desserts

    Via Balloon Juice comes this:

    A grand jury has indicted a political action committee formed by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and a Texas business group in connection with 2002 legislative campaign contributions.

    The five felony indictments against the two groups were made public Thursday. Neither DeLay nor any individuals with the business group has been charged with any wrongdoing.

    The charge against Texans for a Republican Majority alleged the committee illegally accepted a political contribution of $100,000 from the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care.

    Four indictments against the Texas Association of Business include charges of unlawful political advertising, unlawful contributions to a political committee and unlawful expenditures such as those to a graphics company and political candidates.
    Damn, but this has been a while coming, hasn't it? The DeLay delay has been going on for 3 years now, or just about, and the walls around Texans For A Republican Majority are finally coming down.

    And for those that are wondering: yes, corporations can be idicted. As a commenter at Balloon Juice said:
    There are legal options which can be taken against a corporate individual when it is found to have violated a criminal statute. In the extreme, the corporate entity can be dissolved and its assets repossessed [sp?]. In addition, the directors can be forbidden from holding a position of responsibility with a public corporation for a period of time. (That latter is a serious punishment. It means that the directors need to be individual proprietors, which exposes their personal assets to risk in the case of bankruptcy. Ouch!)
    Sounds to me like the GOP should've kicked the whole 527's concept out the window instead of trying to out-527 the Democrats. Because now, it's going to kick them in the wallet. And with political campaigns, that hurts just as much as a boot to the fork.

    05 September, 2005

    And Who Is Our First Contestant?

    Down at the bottom of this post, I suggested that we on the left should target the everloving hell out of certain Louisiana Republicans... And thanks to Josh Marshall and the DCCC, I think we might have our first target. And hooo-doggie, ain't he a beaut:
    Boustany three days ago:

    Rep. Charles W. Boustany Jr., (R-La.), said he spent the past 48 hours urging the Bush administration to send help. "I started making calls and trying to impress upon the White House and others that something needed to be done," he said. "The state resources were being overwhelmed, and we needed direct federal assistance, command and control, and security -- all three of which are lacking."

    Boustany today:

    BOUSTANY: Most of the red tape and problems have been at the state level. I have to say that the federal response has been focused on New Orleans with search and rescue operations which is going very, very well at this stage. But we've had a completely ineffectual state response and this is being borne by the local communities to help now. and I have asked the president to take this into consideration, consider that the state response is completely ineffectual and the full range of social and health care needs needs to be met.
    Sounds to me like someone is more interested in his party than his constituents. So let's show him the error of his ways, shall we? OurCongress already has a page dedicated to the open warfare about to occur in the 7th Louisiana Congressional District, so I'll be keeping an eye on this one... Not more than one until after the first of the year, though.

    04 September, 2005

    This Is Interesting...

    Via NewMexiKen, there's a very snarky flame from Anne Rice. Yes. That Anne Rice.

    And it's in the New York Times:

    But to my country I want to say this: During this crisis you failed us. You looked down on us; you dismissed our victims; you dismissed us. You want our Jazz Fest, you want our Mardi Gras, you want our cooking and our music. Then when you saw us in real trouble, when you saw a tiny minority preying on the weak among us, you called us "Sin City," and turned your backs.

    Well, we are a lot more than all that. And though we may seem the most exotic, the most atmospheric and, at times, the most downtrodden part of this land, we are still part of it. We are Americans. We are you.

    Pretty much says it all to me. Those that are standing on the rooftops in order to shout condemnation, hellfire, and brimstone: may someone do unto you what you have done unto others. Those that are allowing politics to get in the way of relief efforts: may you no longer have a political career. Those that aren't doing whatever they can to help out: may you some day be in the position of the Big Easy.

    I'm going down to the Red Cross again tomorrow. It's my day off, so I don't have to worry about getting drained of energy after giving blood. Just because you don't have any money laying around is not an excuse for sitting around and doing nothing.

    In Search Of Rehnquist

    Another major story: The Chief just passed away. Or, in the newspeak that the Court's spokesperson used, "a precipitous decline in his health in the last couple of days..."

    And before I go any further, I need to say this. We lost a good American tonight. A good man, even though I disagreed with many of his positions, has left his mark and legacy in almost every facet of American life over the last 30 years. And we, for the most part, are the better for it. Thank you, Chief. And rest well. You have earned it.

    Unfortunately, there's a bunch of folks out there in Kosland that don't feel that way. I'd copy/paste some of their comments, but I'd have to have my eyes surgically removed before I could look myself in the mirror. (Don't worry if you can't understand that one immediately. Just sleep on it. It'll come to you.) May they be impaled on this work of art. Multiple times. With a hot sulphuric acid bath to help increase the pain.

    And almost everyone on my blogroll has refrained from making a thorough comment, instead relying on a simple linkthrough to the New York Times article. (And yes, I am deliberately leaving out Amanda's angst-filled rantings over at Pandagon. If you're curious, click through yourself. I refuse to give that twit any more trackbacks than I can help.) Well, they tend to post multiple times per day rather than the two-days-per-post schedule that I seem to be keeping to these days, so I can understand the typist's cramps catching them on this one.

    In fact, the only one with any substantial comment was Ezra. So I'll start by quoting his more intricate comments:

    • My instant read of the nomination landscape is that this makes the appointment of an extremist harder, not easier. Because Roberts is basically sailing towards confirmation, he can be used as "acceptable contrast" with a nutcase. Since Dems are already confirming one nominee, terming them obstructionist would be almost impossible.

    • I wouldn't be surprised to see Bush put Roberts up for Chief Justice, simply because he looks confirmable, his paper trail is so short, there are so many more battles to fight, and Roberts is so young. Trying to run one confirmation battle, another confirmation battle, and dealing with a war over the elevation of Scalia or Thomas to Chief would be an almost impossible task.

    First off, he seems to be under the impression that the President won't simply push for someone even more conservative to sit on the Bench instead of coming out with an olive branch for the moderates and liberals out there. Second, Democrats are in the minority, and therefore it is our bounden duty to be obstructionist, any hopes to the contrary being well and truly denied. And third, what the President wants, we have come to find out, the President goes ahead and does, so the chances to see a confirmation of either Scalia or Thomas to the middle of the Bench are still quite high. (And, in further thought, if the President continues on his traditional path, he'd be more likely to give the nod to Thomas. Just look at his Cabinet to see the examples.)

    Now, what does this actually mean for the important issues for the social liberals out there?

    will be relatively safe, as the last major test went through with a 6-3 majority. O'Connor's slot will be lost and Rehnquist's will remain the same, leaving Roe with a 5-4 majority. Exactly how those votes will fall into place is not something I'm willing (or qualified) to predict, but there will be no complete ban of abortion during this upcoming Court. And even more telling, the restrictions placed on the "sidewalk counciling" of people near abortion clinics are completely and totally safe, such as Hill v. Colorado and Schenck v. Pro Choice Network of Western New York.

    Privacy in specifics, however, is a completely different subject. With Roberts being an outspoken foe of the right to privacy, and both Rehnquist and O'Connor being supporters (although oftimes lukewarm) of the concept, the odds of a pro-privacy ruling are getting fairly steep. Especially with the recent case in Minnesota which ruled that the existance of PGP software on a computer indicated the possibility that a crime was being premeditated. (Of course, this was a child pornographer that should have been nailed to the nearest river abatement. By his testicles. During flood season.) And now that the Court's make-up is changing severely, there might just be a few appeals coming down the turnpike that will bring this issue, and others like it, into the foreground.

    And last, everyone's favorite: gay marriage. Why some folks are considering this the death knell for the "gay equality" movement is beyond me. My read of the former Court was that there was a 5-4 majority against them in the first place. With O'Connor gone and Roberts a shoo-in, that swings to a 6-3, and may God save them if they try to butt heads against that steel wall. The death knell for the "gay equality" movement has been ringing for a while now, which is why so few people hear it anymore. We've gotten used to the background noise.

    And that's it in a nutshell. There are quite a few more issues that I could easily put in here, but I need some sleep eventually.

    P.S.: Just so something is perfectly clear, here's where I stand on the issues.

    Abortion: Yes, I am against abortion as a form of birth control. No, I am not against it for definitive health reasons, whether life-threatening or quality-of-life-threatening, for either the mother or the fetus. No, I am not agaisnt it in situations of rape or incest. And no, I'm not against most parental notification laws. Then again, I don't have ovaries, so my opinions (like any male out there) shouldn't really matter in the great scheme of things.

    Privacy: This one is a no-brainer. Stay out of my private life. Period. Ad infinitum. Ad astra. Ad nauseum. Forever and ever. Omayn. And you can take my privacy out of my cold, dead hands. This is the one issue where I'd stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone on, regardless of their political stripe, or even repugnant body odor and oozing sores.

    Gay Rights: On this, I really don't care. I really don't. Part of me says the typical straight-male line of "I don't want to see it. Unless they're lesbians." But the rest of me feels the same as with privacy. Who cares what someone does in the comforts of their own four walls with other consenting adults (or at least those over the age of consent in whatever jurisdiction they are in). If it does no harm to the people involved and does no damage to property, there's no reason to go and make laws against it.

    01 September, 2005

    In Total Agreement

    For the first time since he was just a local talk show host at KFI 640 AM, I'm in complete agreement with Hugh Hewitt. The Canal Street Presbyterian Church is my choice for donations.

    And since my wallet doesn't stretch too far these days, I'm also going to go donate blood very soon instead of just selling plasma to help pay for phone service. And eating ramen for the next week is a small price to pay for a good deed.

    UPDATE: Gah. I really need help with this organizing-the-stream-of-consciousness stuff. Completely forgot to link to the originating post. Forgive me, Glenn?

    Calm Like A Bomb

    Recently, I've been trying to avoid writing about Katrina and the near-life-support status that the Big Easy is in. Quite frankly, what could I say about it that isn't being shouted from the virtual rooftops of the entire nation? Absolutely nothing.

    Yet, via TPM and NOLA, this one really pissed me off. And when I get pissed off, either I vent or I start putting holes in doors...
    It makes no sense to spend billions of dollars to rebuild a city that's seven feet under sea level, House Speaker Dennis Hastert said of federal assistance for hurricane-devastated New Orleans.

    "It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed," the Illinois Republican said in an interview Wednesday with the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill.

    Mister Speaker, would you kindly stop speaking? Thank you.

    New Orleans is one of the national treasures of this country. The mythos of the Big Easy has so permeated the popular culture that it should be impossible to think of it being simply abandoned, regardless of the cause. (Okay, if it was a nuke that wrecked the bayou, then I'd see the reasoning. But hurricanes do not have residual radioactivity, even if the damage almost looks like it got bombed.) And this little attempt at damage control (tongue placed firmly in cheek for having to call it that) did nothing to help the issue.
    Hastert's press secretary, Ron Bonjean, said Hastert was not suggesting New Orleans should be abandoned or relocated. "The speaker believes that we should have a discussion about how best to rebuild New Orleans so as to protect its citizens," he said. "What he is saying is that rebuilding the city in the same way is not sensible."
    Translation: My boss doesn't like the taste of his foot in his mouth, so I, with my Cajun-sounding name, need to feed you a bunch of crap about what he should have said if his brain hadn't gone on vacation.

    And of course, Hastert's "discussion about how best to rebuild New Orleans" might not have needed to happen if they had just given them the budget for it:
    For instance, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requested $27 million for this fiscal year to pay for hurricane-protection projects around Lake Pontchartrain. The Bush administration countered with $3.9 million, and Congress eventually provided $5.7 million, according to figures provided by the office of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).

    Because of the shortfalls, which were caused in part by the rising costs of the war in Iraq, the corps delayed seven contracts that included enlarging the levees, according to corps documents.

    Much of the devastation in New Orleans was caused by breaches in the levees, which sent water from Lake Pontchartrain pouring into the city. Since much of the city is below sea level, the levee walls acted like the walls of a bowl that filled until as much as 80 percent of the city was under water.

    Similarly, the Army Corps requested $78 million for this fiscal year for projects that would improve draining and prevent flooding in New Orleans. The Bush administration's budget provided $30 million for the projects, and Congress ultimately approved $36.5 million, according to Landrieu's office.
    So let me get this straight... The city survived a major hurricane. And then was killed by the levees that it depended on for daily living. And those levees (and associated water drainage systems) were slated to be repaired and replaced by the Corps of Engineers. Who were denied sufficient funding by Congress. And was not even requested in full by the White House. Due to the budgetary pressures of the ongoing war in Iraq. And then Scott McLellan has the testicular fortitude to say that this "is not a time for finger-pointing or politics. And I think the last thing that the people who have been displaced or the people who have been affected need is people seeking partisan gain in Washington" in today's press briefing.

    Riddle me this, folks. If this had happened during the Clinton administration, how many Republican commentators and pundits would refrain from "seeking partisan gain" over the issue?

    The phrase "more fingers on a blind butcher's hand" comes first to my mind. And as for Scotty's polite request, there's a different finger I'm thinking about, and particularly in areas that are actually hit by the hurricane. Every single political office, from coroner on up to the U.S. Senate, in the disaster area held by the Republican Party should come under immediate and complete fire. However, if those officeholders come out and disavow Hastert, fight for the relief bill to be increased in value to at least $15 billion, and tell the Department of Homeland Security to get their assets in gear and secure the damn homeland like you're supposed to (particularly after halfway absorbing FEMA, the agency that would normally be all over the Lower Mississippi like white on rice), then we'll let off the pressure. Slightly.

    And only for the trifecta. Anything less than that, we Democrats light the fuse.

    UPDATE: Via Washington Monthly, here is the Liberal Blogs For Hurricane Relief. While I don't necessarily call myself a liberal, count me in on this one. Hell, if I can find a Conservative Blogs For Hurricane Relief, I'll post their link as well. It'd be even better if I also found a Moderate Blogs For Hurricane Relief, but that's almost too much to hope for.

    While I don't mind being partisan about the political dimension of Katrina, being partisan about helping the relief effort is not something I'm able to do. Anyone that's helping to put food into mouths, clothes onto backs, and roofs over heads is doing A Good Thing.