Friday, September 30, 2005

A Blow To Thug Immunity

Judith Miller, sitting in jail, abandons her jihad-for-immunity.

The 23 loyal readers of Scylla&Charybdis know that Bummer has zero tolerance for the effete nonsense of corpolitical media thugs hiding behind spurious claims of complete immunity and permanent privilege.

Miller sought to be the poster child for the proposition that a reporter and her "source" could enter into an agreement that was immune from the jurisdiction of any criminal court. All courts rejected her argument. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to agree with her.

The immunity argument is CRAP. Wrote Bummer:

"Bummer likes a free press. Bummer likes a press that can be a conduit for whistleblowers, in government and industry. Bummer understands that a free press and whistleblowing will be seriously impacted if the powerful forces that are attacked are able to punish the reporters via criminal indictment. Bummer also understands the argument that a reporter's sources may be less willing to provide information, if there is a credible threat that the reporter might be compelled to reveal the source, someday.

"But the 'chilling of my sources' argument is a fake, emotional non-issue here, and the effete thugs of the MSM, who have enjoyed a perception of complete immunity, know it (like some punk UN sub-diplomat who double parks his car with diplomatic license plates for 2 hours in a rush hour traffic lane, so that he can have a smoke and a cocktail before heading home to his Stateside mistress). What is at issue is whether there exists ANY third party (like a judge) with the power to supervise abuses of the strong 1st Amendment rights of the press. Of course there is. Our whole system relies on checks and balances...."

Miller's "source" long ago agreed that she was not bound by any confidentiality obligation.

A little background reading, here. As to the MSM's failed grab for complete immunity underlying it all, read here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.


Why did Miller recant? Simple. She lives in bubble, where the MSM executives all think that the "liberal elite street" in America will "rise up" and demand legislative action to correct this horrible travesty of justice. one rose up, and no matter how much tortured spin one applies to it, Miller is obstructing justice.

Cynics will note that the Republican targets of this investigation, all of whom insist they have done nothing wrong, want Miller to testify, in order to establish their innocence.

So why would Miller refuse to testify, given that her "source" wants her to do so, in order to establish the innocence of the "source?" Gosh...maybe it's because MSM reporters are happy to burn a source, so long as the source is a Republican. Even if burning a source means refusing to come forward.

Or perhaps, realizing that sainthood is not in her future (other than with the Sheehan crowd of foilhat fools) and that the NYTimes is laying off people, someone talked some sense into Miller.

In any event, a deserved blow to effete thugs claiming immunity.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

MSM Racism Surfaces

In reporting on the urban myth of violence, rape and death within the Superdome in New Orleans, the MSM reporters saw several thousand poor, black refugees.

Wild tales of pillage, rape and murder inside the Dome by out-of-control blacks began to surface, yet with no witness, no backup, and ultimately, no substance.

"Call in the military ! The Negroes are rioting."

You don't think this is what went on in the minds of the MSM reporters?

Imagine if the Dome were instead filled with several thousand white people, and the same tales began to surface. The MSM would not have jumped to conclusions.

update: Bummer shouldn't be flippant about race stuff. From my follow-up in the comments, let me spell it out, non-smartass style:

"1. The media hyped the "urban chaos riot" part of the story.
2. The story has turned out to be substantially untrue.
3. All the riot actors were poor and black.
4. I hypothesize that the status of the actors as poor and black fed upon underlying conceptions of white reporters, who were far more willing to believe, without any support, that poor blacks would engage in urban rioting.
5. I hypothesize that the incredible nature of such reporting of urban myths would have been substantially lessened if the actors were white, because the reporters - instead of just assuming the stories were true - would have had some minimum level of skepticism.
6. The difference in treatment is a marker of differing attitudes towards race -- what we call, "racism."

That's the syllogism. "


Maybe I'm wrong...

Wisdom from Dan Rather

Dan "No One Can Conclusively Prove Me Wrong" Rather, blathering in an Irony-Free Zone:

"[A] person who wants to give information, wants to be an honest broker of information about the who, what, when, where, why of events, and attaches his name to it, that might be a new form of journalism. I'm not there yet, but it could be."
An honest broker of information might be a new form of journalism? You nailed it, Dan. And no, you are not there yet.

Dan "Stonewall" Rather, astonished not only that bloggers attacked his fake story, but that the decades-long hegemony of the MSM to spike stories, immune from any counterbalance, melted before his very eyes:

"I believe it to be true of CBS News, and I think it was true of a lot of news organizations, unaware, or not knowing enough, of how quickly bloggers could strike."

And then it all just crashes. Rather continues his exercise-in-dissonance:

"[Rather]: The facts of the story were correct. ... To this day, no one has proven whether it was what it was purported to be or not.

"[Question]: I believe you just said, that you think the story is accurate.

"[Rather]: Well, the story is accurate."


No BummerComment can improve upon this source material.

Thanks to Radioblogger.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Tantalus Field Delusion II

Tantalus is back.

Longtime 23'ers might remember the Tantalus Field Delusion. In a rare hat-tip to my geeky pre-teen years, I explained how modern Leftists/Progressives suffer from the "Tantalus Field Delusion" on military matters. BummerArchive states:

"In their better moments, most Left friends claimed to be in favor of 'special operations' or 'black ops' to take out Saddam....

"You see, to the Left, war is justified only when it is a silver bullet. As in a Hollywood movie. When there are no civilian casualties. Only a couple of real bad guys die. There are no US casualties. Costs are low. And no third world grumbling will be heard over the military event.

"They are deluded. The reason it is called 'War,' is because ... well, you get it. It's hell. Innocents die; things are ruined; and one side imposes its will on another....

[Leftists have deluded themselves into believing that war should be a 20-minute affair with no consequences, sort of like a game of speed chess. Dinner cocktails may be pushed back a few minutes, but that's about the extent of the damage. - Ed.]

"I know where that Liberal delusion comes from, in middle-aged lefties. They watched too much Star Trek. In particular, their minds were abducted by the Mirror Mirror episode.That's the episode where Kirk and Co. find themselves in an alternate, warlike universe. Kirk has a concubine who shows him a secret device in his quarters, from the plundered laboratory of an alien scientist. It's called the 'Tantalus Field'. It has two powers -- a monitoring capability so one can keep an eye on one's enemies; and a white button which, if pressed, disappears the
chosen enemy. He just magically disappears. Poof

"That perfectly encapsulates the military view of the Left. Only the Tantalus Field is acceptable.

"- Bush should have just adjourned to his quarters, and pushed the white button to make Saddam disappear.
- Bush 1 should have done the same thing, to get Iraq out of Kuwait.
- Johnson should have done it to Ho Chi Min.
- Eisenhower should have done it to Hitler.

"Of course, the Tantalus Field is make believe. It's an adult adaptation of the childhood wish to be God. But the Left cannot make that connection. Their cognitive dissonance prevents them from seeing that their being in favor of 'black ops' is really just a childhood wish for the Tantalus Field."


This leftist Tantalus Field Delusion is not confined to things military. Bummer recently spent time on a camping trip with many Leftist/Progressive folks. As we hiked and canoed in high mountain areas, many Progressives launched into new versions of anti-capitalist sloganeering - basically, condemnations of the "corporations." (Many with better brains than mine have dubbed these sessions with Leftists as being the Irony-Free Zone.) Every issue was viewed by the Progressives in that light (and/or from the viewpoint of opposing the agenda of stupid right-wing Christian zealots.)

Leftist Progressives take as a given the existence and maintenance of the modern industrial world. (Maybe that's why they call it the post-industrial age; even the name connotes the idea that no further effort is needed to maintain it.) To them, the magical world we live in is not the result of generations of advancement and effort, nor does it require constant efforts of Herculean proportions to maintain. Instead, it just "is." As if Captain Kirk can effortlessly push a white button, to keep it all running. Or that bureaucrats (FEMA!) can run it all. Just like a magic Tantalus Field. And voila, all of the goodies of our society magically remain in existence, get distributed worldwide, and serviced, all un-connected with the "corporations" upon which each and every goodie is dependent. (FEMA!)

While engaged in these discussions, never did any Progressives offer up the discussion of how their vision of some lesser-industrialized or non-capitalistic, non-free market society, would fare respecting any of the following items that were vital to our trip -- that is, but for these items* and the capitalist free-market structure of the US and western world, we would not have been there hiking.

- The private jet that took us there.
- The radical poly-fiber clothing that allowed each of us to wear only a couple pounds of clothing, while living in an inhospitable environment that would otherwise have killed us in a few days or weeks.
- Our cell phones and blackberry email/SMS devices (which usually worked!).
- Lightweight miracle fiber camp gear that allowed us to break camp, move 10+ miles, and reset camp, in a day. In rain and snow.
- Our caravan of gas-guzzling SUV's.
- Our lightweight resin/plastic kayaks that extended our range 3x.
- Fresh Sushi restaurants in the quaint village, 1000 miles from any port.
- Etc.


Modern US society, Western life and the goodies that permeate our existence from alarm clock to bedtime, do not and cannot exist without the capitalistic free-market "corporate" infrastructure. Progressives naively assume that it can. In so believing, they have deluded themselves that Captain Kirk can just push a button and make it all OK. It's their Tantalus Field Delusion II -- as to things economic.

Vote for Pedro!

Timmy for FEMA !

* - The list is, of course, much larger. This is a direct list for illustrative purposes. Irony-free Zone.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Shut Up and Broadcast

From a Hurricane Rita press conference that included New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. Lt. Gen. Russel Honore stepped in and showed how it's done in a crisis. I miss Al Haig. From Radioblogger:

Honore: And Mr. Mayor, let's go back, because I can see right now, we're setting this up as he said, he said, we said. All right? We are not going to go, by order of the mayor and the governor, and open the convention center for people to come in. There are buses there. Is that clear to you? Buses parked. There are 4,000 troops there. People come, they get on a bus, they get on a truck, they move on. Is that clear? Is that clear to the public?

Female reporter: Where do they move on...

Honore: That's not your business.

Male reporter: But General, that didn't work the first time...

Honore: Wait a minute. It didn't work the first time. This ain't the first time. Okay? If...we don't control Rita, you understand? So there are a lot of pieces of it that's going to be worked out. You got good public servants working through it. Let's get a little trust here, because you're starting to act like this is your problem. You are carrying the message, okay? What we're going to do is have the buses staged. The initial place is at the convention center. We're not going to announce other places at this time, until we get a plan set, and we'll let people know where those locations are, through the government, and through public announcements. Right now, to handle the number of people that want to leave, we've got the capacity. You will come to the convention center. There are soldiers there from the 82nd Airborne, and from the Louisiana National Guard. People will be told to get on the bus, and we will take care of them. And where they go will be dependent on the capacity in this state. We've got our communications up. And we'll tell them where to go. And when they get there, they'll be able to get a chance, an opportunity to get registered, and so they can let their families know where they are. But don't start panic here. Okay? We've got a location. It is in the front of the convention center, and that's where we will use to migrate people from it, into the system.

Male reporter: General Honore, we were told that Berman Stadium on the west bank would be another staging area...

Honore: Not to my knowledge. Again, the current place, I just told you one time, is the convention center. Once we complete the plan with the mayor, and is approved by the governor, then we'll start that in the next 12-24 hours. And we understand that there's a problem in getting communications out. That's where we need your help. But let's not confuse the questions with the answers. Buses at the convention center will move our citizens, for whom we have sworn that we will support and defend...and we'll move them on. Let's not get stuck on the last storm. You're asking last storm questions for people who are concerned about the future storm. Don't get stuck on stupid, reporters. We are moving forward. And don't confuse the people please. You are part of the public message. So help us get the message straight. And if you don't understand, maybe you'll confuse it to the people. That's why we like follow-up questions. But right now, it's the convention center, and move on.

Male reporter: General, a little bit more about why that's happening this time, though, and did not have that last time...

Honore: You are stuck on stupid. I'm not going to answer that question. We are going to deal with Rita. This is public information that people are depending on the government to put out. This is the way we've got to do it. So please. I apologize to you, but let's talk about the future. Rita is happening. And right now, we need to get good, clean information out to the people that they can use. And we can have a conversation on the side about the past, in a couple of months.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Rather Late after RatherGate

Beware when a disgraced public figure blames his demise on a witchhunt catering to a "dumbed-down" populace. Sorta like the guy who gets busted with the dead body in his car trunk, who then complains that the car search was unconstitutional....


Bummer has tried to avoid personal attacks against Dan Rather. He was a liberal newsman, who increasingly used his news pulpit as a political attack vehicle against people, ideas, programs, and finally, facts that did not favor his political ideology.

The BummerRub is that Rather's attack pulpit - the Mainstream Network News - more or less enjoyed hegemony on the strength of its brand, that it was "just the facts." (Those daring reports from Vietnam ... they must be the real truth, because those young reporters are so ... daring !)

BummerReaders, and millions of others, now realize that increasingly, over the decades, the MSM version was not "just the facts." Unchallenged, it slanted further and further. When did the MSM finally jump the shark? is a good question.

The MSM had jumped the shark by that September 2004 day when 60 Minutes II -- Dan Rather's bully pulpit -- knowingly* used forged memos in an attack report, to try to swing a presidential election for Kerry. (The use of the blatant forgeries was all the more infuriating in light of the concurrent, fast-inflating and well-documented "Swift Boat" story that the MSM refused to cover, as it was not advantageous to the candidate that the MSM was backing.)

Rather almost got to exit his pulpit, without having been held to account. But Rather and CBS got busted. Hard. By intelligent internet bloggers.

Rather and most of his crew were eventually fired, more or less. Good riddance to the rotten regime.

Imagine that. Truth and accuracy, as a new paradigm for news reporters. Who can be against that?


Now, Dan Rather is using his considerable acting talents to lament the whole state of the media to audiences, as if some evil force was at work in his demise, rather than his own unethical and illegal use of forged documents:

"NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather said Monday that there is a climate of fear running through newsrooms stronger than he has ever seen in his more than four-decade career....

" [Rather] said that in the intervening years, politicians "of every persuasion" had gotten better at applying pressure on the conglomerates that own the broadcast networks. He called it a "new journalism order." [Rather] said this pressure -- along with the "dumbed-down, tarted-up" coverage, the advent of 24-hour cable competition and the chase for ratings and demographics - has taken its toll on the news business.

"'All of this creates a bigger atmosphere of fear in newsrooms,'" Rather said."

Yes, Dan. All those other voices, how dare they compete with you ! How dare they use truth as a competitive weapon against you ! How dare those evil ... moderates ! It's scary ! An atmosphere of fear ! Rise up and fight !!

* - "Knowingly" is used here in the American Law Institute way, to mean any of (a) they knew it and did it, or (b) they intended the outcome, or (c) they were so reckless [sticking head in sand] that they were in effect acting knowingly and/or intentionally. All 3 are legally equivalent. "Negligence" is the next rung down on the ladder, and does not carry with it the "evil intentions" associated with acting knowingly, intentionally or recklessly.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Surprise on S&C's First Anniversary

It's been a year since I started this thing. I got lucky; my first few posts got some traction and I got air time or links with the guys at INDC, Allahpundit (RIP), LGF.

And you know what? We got that bastard Rather. We busted him. Hard. And his thievin' colleagues. I was at best a scrub right fielder in the effort, but I got to be there, writing a few punch lines for the sitcom it was.

Now almost a year later, when I have some sharp angle, Charles at LGF or the Powerline guys will link to me, and a couple thousand hits come through. Otherwise, a hundred or two come by each day. I still think there's only 23 live bodies reading....

I'll keep it up here at S&C. Maybe only once or twice a week; more when I get P.O.'ed.

In any event, my first anniversary marks the start of a new blog. Rest assured, I will go to hell for it, and you will too, if you visit the new blog. I'll fancy it up over the next few months, but for now, I feel it's high time that the truth be told about Jesus Christ and his cohorts:
Jesus drank a lot of wine.

And my new blog will expose Jesus for the wine drinkin', vineyardist that he was.

I'm not sure if it will be a joke site or a serious site. I just came up with it - the same way I came up with Scylla&Charybdis.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Retirement Homework Assignment

I don't have time to delve deeply - feel free to post useful information - but give this some thought:

You are dumping money into your tax-deferred retirement accounts (401k; IRA; etc.) In effect, you are making a bet, that "A" will be greater than "B".

"A" is the value of the account, with pre-tax compounding, and taxed at retirement/withdrawal at ordinary income rates. [You've always heard the justification that, "your tax rate will be lower when you are retired."]

"B" is the is the value of the account, with post-tax compounding, and taxed at retirement/ withdrawal at capital gains rates.


Federal marginal income rates are mid-30%. In California, add 10% for state.

Guess what? Income tax rates are NOT going to be reduced. And I will bet anything that between now and retirement, they will increase. Evidence? Even conservative George Bush is a free-spender.

The top Federal rate in the early 1960's was 91%.


Check your assumptions, as to the bet you are making between "A" and "B". But don't assume that ordinary income tax rates will be 35% or less, at retirement. If the 1970's are any guide, they will be 50% Federal, another 5%-10% you might have to pay 10% FICA. If the deficit doomsdayers are correct, the rates will be more like 75%-90%.


Maybe, just should avoid any retirement scheme that defers taxation to a future date. Taking the tax hit now, and then building a retirement nest egg that is designed to avoid the tax disaster scenario above, might be the smart move.


Try it here.

Scenario 1: $100 put into your 401k. Compound at 7% for 20 years. It's worth $387 in 20 years. Tax that $387 at 75% (joint state and fed rate in the future). Your $100 401k contribution today nets you $97, 20 years from now. This, ignoring inflation.

Scenario 2: $100 today, pay tax of 35% + 9% = 44%, net in your pocket today is $56. Invest the $56 for 20 years, compound 7% return. It's worth $217 in 20 years -- $161 of which is taxable. If you put it into a capital asset, no dividends, you are taxed at capital gains rates (currently 15%). That 15% will surely rise by 20 years. Since I am assuming that income tax rates double, I will assume the capital gains rate doubles, so I'll use 30%. That's a combined tax rate of 30% fed, plus 3% state, for 33%. 33% tax on $161 is $53; your $100 investment outside of your 401k today leaves you with $164 in 20 years.

What if the capital gains are taxed at income rates, in 20 years? $161 of gain taxed at 75% makes for a $121 tax bill. Your $217 is thus taxed $121 and nets $96 in 20 years -almost exactly as if put into the 401k.


Scenario #1: $100 put into your 401k results in $97 left for you, in 20 years.
Scenario #2: $100 kept outside of your 401k results in $164 left for you, in 20 years. [Or, $96 if capital gains are taxed as income].

Run your own numbers. Scary.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Able Danger To Our Reputation

The bubbling Able Danger affair now counts 5 witnesses who have come forward to substantiate that military intelligence had ID'ed some of the 9/11 highjackers as security threats (long before 9/11), but were prevented from forwarding the information to the FBI. Such prevention was under the rubric of maintaining separation between the military and domestic policing.

Regardless of whether that separation was or was not a good idea, the Able Danger facts raise the troubling questions of why the 9/11 Commission did not investigate the matter. Given the charge of the Commission - to find out "What went wrong" and to fix it - the Able Danger situation seems to be the bullseye/smoking gun as to what went wrong. So why deny it exists?

Perhaps the witnesses are liars with an agenda. (Seems unlikely). Perhaps the Commission, after the fact, is embarrassed for its having missed this 900 lb. gorilla. Perceived negligence.

A more sinister explanation, or course, is that political moves were afoot. (BummerDietz smells a connection to the tampering antics of felon Sandy Berger.)

Captain Ed has a good update, and he smells some sinister smoke:

Despite the discovery of five eyewitnesses to the Able Danger project who now insist that Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 hijackers got identified as potential al-Qaeda terrorists over a year before the deadly terrorist attacks, the 9/11 Commission has publicly asserted that the program did not produce any such analysis. ...Exactly how the ten commissioners came up with this consensus never gets explained... . [The 9/11 Commissioners never] heard testimony.... Without hearing witnesses nor reviewing evidence, the Commission reached a hard and fast conclusion that, not coincidentally, fits within their determined narrative....[T]he discovery of evidence that doesn't fit within their report makes the evidence untrue, no matter how many witnesses come forward to verify it.

If the Commission could miss this 900-pound whopper, how many 200-pounders were left out?

Update: Congressman Curt Weldon will hold a Congressional hearing next week to probe the matter. BummerMinds want to know: Who issued the order to destroy billions of pages of Able Danger data? And why? Was it truly, as claimed, "Destroyed in accordance with existing regulations regarding 'intelligence data on U.S. persons?' " Sounds like bureauwash, to me.

Remember the recent corporate scandals of Enron, Global Crossing, Martha Stewart, etc. Document destruction, aka evidence tampering, was one of the alleged crimes, and in fact the allegation that resulted in criminal convictions.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Some particularly funny pictures and captions from the Roberts hearing, here.

Egg-shelled skulls, stay away.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Bush and the Buckie Bullet

Bush pulls a Truman and says, "The Buck Stops Here."

"[Hurricane] Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government. To the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," Bush said.

He may speak like a wooden crank monkey, but Bush is part of the most effective political clan of the last 2 generations (since the Kennedys); he just showed that he has some serious political chops.

Because now the door is open to shoot some fish in the barrel - I mean, to blame the Democratic political machine in Louisiana. Easy pickins'. Condi Rice shot the openning volley, yesterday. Make no mistake - Katrina is the wide-open door for Rice to have a bully pulpit...

Monday, September 12, 2005

NYTimes: That Video Ain't Proof; We Still Could Be Correct

NY Times Editor Bill Keller, explaining why the NY Times, faced with a videotape that proves the NYTimes had its facts wrong, nonetheless will not run a correction ... because the Times claims that maybe the event might have happened off-camera:

"[T]he video does not literally show how Mr. Rivera insinuated himself between the wheelchair-bound storm victim and the Air Force rescuers who were waiting to carry her from the building. Whether Mr. Rivera gently edged the airman out of the way with an elbow (literally 'nudged'), or told him to step aside, or threw a body block, or just barged into an opening -- it's hard to tell, since it happened just off-camera. ... Ms. Stanley would have been justified in assuming brute force."

Let me get this straight:

-The NY Times stated that Rivera "nudged an Air Force rescue worker out of the way so his camera crew could tape him as he helped lift an older woman in a wheelchair to safety." (This might be libel per se, for those attorneys reading this.)

-Presumably, the only source the NYTimes reporter had was...watching the videotape on TV.

- Rivera produces the video of the incident, which shows Rivera did nothing of the sort. (Bummer viewed the video, by the way; Rivera is correct).

- The NYTimes refuses to run a correction, on the theory that Rivera might have done it separately - not on the videotape. And such theoretical possibility, means the NYTimes is correct.

- So it's fake, but accurate?

Effete thugs with immunity. Maybe the NYTimes should contact Mary Mapes for a copy of her memo that proves that Bush told FEMA to "stand down" for 48 hours, in order to embarrass the Democratic governor of Louisiana.....

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Politically Incorrect Thoughts I

The LA Times runs a front-page article:

A Comeback for Big Government

Thanks, LA Times, for reminding me that, only Big Government can prevent the Katrina things in life. One led by Democrats, that is. Am I crazy to point out that Katrina, had it happened under a Democratic administration, would have had the exact same outcome? I feel like a kid at a parade, asking why the guy on the float is naked... .

Meanwhile, the NYTimes runs a lead article:

Breakdowns Marked Path from Hurricane to Anarchy

and paints Lousiana Governess Blanco as a hardworking servant who just couldn't get the help she wanted from Bush. Funny, despite crisis timelines and the like, no where does the NY Times mention that Blanco, during a 24-hour period prior to the hurricane, REFUSED Bush's entreaty to have the Feds run the disaster response:

S. O'BRIEN: [Y]ou rejected after that 24-hour window, that you didn't have any interest in federalizing the troops or turning power over to the president? Why not hand it over, Madame Governor, when the first five days -- and I think that
meeting was on Friday, so the first several days of the recovery were clearly disastrous?

BLANCO: The first five days of the recovery were heroic. We had -- we were the people who took control.

Why is the New York Times deep-sixing this unbelievable decision by a Democratic governor to refuse to let a Republican President send his men in and be seen as "Katrina's Rudy Guiliani?"

David Brooks continues to get it right:

The Best-Laid Plan: Too Bad It Flopped

Among the many achievements of the human race ... surely the New Orleans emergency preparedness plan must rank among the greatest.... [T]his illustrates the paradox at the heart of the Katrina disaster, which is that we really need government in times like this, but government is extremely limited in what it can effectively do.

Katrina was the most anticipated natural disaster in American history, and still government managed to fail at every level.

For the brutal fact is, government tends toward bureaucracy, which means elaborate paper flow but ineffective action.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Sandy Soliah Berger

Judges disfavor guilty-yet-recalcitrant defendants. Contrition is a foundation of our criminal justice system - it's basic Judeo-Christian stuff. Yet in this media age, guilty defendants try to have it both ways. They want to show some type of remorse, to earn contrition Brownie points, but they want plausible deniability with their public, which requires that they not concretely admit to having committed the bad act with bad intentions.

Hence, the now-common expression of fake contrition.

Go too far, though -- meaning, your contrition is too insincere -- and the judge just might toss the book at you.

Remember the 60's radical SLA bomber nutjob Sara Jane Olson, aka Kathy Soliah? Tracked down decades later, she pled guilty to a bombing, but immediately walked out of the courtroom and declared her factual innocence in a press conference. The judge would have none of it, revoked her plea, told her to face a jury, as she could not have it both ways. 9/11 intervened; the jury option didn't look too promising then. A harsher sentence resulted, post-9/11, from her recalcitrance in trying to be "innocent but guilty."

Sandy Berger angers Bummer (as does the MSM's treatment of his felony). Apparently, the sentencing magistrate was also PO'ed. The judge just increased Berger's fine by 500% over the plea bargain. Berger blamed it all on his being"tired," and that is why he returned 3 times to steal and destroy documents? Well, he sure admits that he is "sorry." For something. Perhaps he is sorry for being so tired, from his tireless service to the nation... .

The magistrate's bullshit detector went off.

Berger was knowingly cleansing files to protect himself and Clinton, and to further the interests of his employer, the Kerry campaign. A felony. And just wrong.

Compare Sister Soliah with Sandy Berger's fake contrition, and the resulting 500% sentencing uptick by the magistrate.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Pay for Me

Bummer is a lucky SOB. He lives in a beautiful coastal mountain canyon, nestled against the Pacific Ocean.

The area is semi-arid,and devastating wildfires blow through every couple of years. Mudslides are a recurring force of nature every few years. Big earthquakes come every decade, and we're overdue for the "Big One."

My home is built where it is, amidst all this danger, because I am a lucky SOB and I wanted it.

So a wildfire blows through and burns my neighborhood down, including my big house. Or a mudslide destroys it all. Or a big earthquake levels mine and 1000's of other homes.

None of these are a surprise. In fact, it is certain that they will happen. The only question is, which homes will get destroyed?

I know about these risks. Maybe I buy insurance, or maybe I don't and spend the money on booze.

You live in Montana (or Redding, California) and pay your taxes. I pay my taxes.

What should you be obligated to pay for me?

- Cost of fire service.
- Cost of emergency rescue service.
- Cost of policing.
- Cost of emergency shelter.
- Any cost of low-interest disaster loans to rebuild.

- $1 billion to build firebreaks in my fire-prone canyon.
- $1 billion to build mudslide ramparts for me and my neighbors.

- $1 million to rebuild my house for me.


A slippery slope, indeed.

O'Reilly and the 2nd

Bill O'Reilly - who I bash here on occasion, but hey, I do watch and listen - made an interesting point this morning. You may disagree with it, but he's on to something.

O'Reilly pointed out that that 2nd Amendment - the citizens' right to bear arms - is directly related to the chaos we saw in the Katrina chaos is New Orleans. Upon hearing this, I thought, "What an idiot."

Then I thought about it more, in particular the exact wording of the Constitution, and it made sense. Let's review the text:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

O'Reilly is exactly on point. Armed citizen patrols, organized on-the-fly* in times of dire emergency, were a critical foundation of the country. And with Katrina, perhaps the 2nd Amendment is not the quaint, out-of-date notion that so many try to claim. Now, this doesn't mean that nutjobs should have access to automatic weapons so they can gun down schools or post offices. And gun deaths in our ghettos are at appalling levels. does mean something. Good catch, O'Reilly.

* - Yes, I am aware the "organized" and "on-the-fly" are, arguably, contradictory.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Little Katrina "What If" for the Governess

What if the administration of Governess Blanco had consulted this Emergency Hurricane Evacuation Plan? Perhaps the Plan's title was not worded clearly enough for the Governess' staff:

Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Evacuation and Sheltering Plan

From the Plan, Blanco had the primary responsibility for implementation of the evacuation and emergency sheltering:

D. Organization and Assignment of Responsibilities

"The organization and assignment of primary and secondary responsibilities are detailed in the State Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). Listed below are the key participants and their roles in the event of a catastrophic hurricane: 1. Governor.

Wapo has reported that Governess Blanco rebuffed Bush's effort made late Friday night, 8/26 (about 60 hours before the hurricane hit) to have the Federal government take over the hurricane disaster control. Not until 24 hours later (Saturday morning and afternoon, 8/27), did Governess Blanco request that Bush declare a state of emergency. And it is unclear if, and when Blanco gave any OK to Bush for the Feds to commence emergency operations.

But 60 hours before the hurricane hit, Blanco was warned of impending doom by the Feds.

Rather than worry about politics, what if the Blanco administration had read down a dozen pages in the Plan - to II.B., for this bulletpoint:

"The primary means of hurricane evacuation will be personal vehicles. School and municipal buses, government-owned vehicles and vehicles provided by volunteer agencies may be used to provide transportation for individuals who lack transportation and require assistance in evacuating....The need to evacuate could occur day or night, and there may be little control over the starting time due to the timing of the storm."
Blanco did not establish evacuation staging points in the 48 hour run-up to the hurricane. Yet the Plan specified:

Announce the location of staging areas for people who need transportation. Public transportation will concentrate on moving people from the staging areas to safety in host parishes with priority given to people with special needs.

Of course, there are those 255 buses that sat in New Orleans, unused. Governess Blanco left them sitting.

Let's do the math:

255 buses x 50 passengers per bus x 8 roundtrips each (6 hours per trip) = 102,000 evacuations possible, in the 48 hours before the hurricane hit, using just the school buses stored at one facility in New Orleans.

102,000 evacuations, with special needs persons getting priority. How different would it have all been, had Blanco just followed the Plan?

Monday, September 05, 2005

1000 Words

A lot to say, here.

Confederacy of Dunces.

Saturday, September 03, 2005


I'm not exactly sure how I managed to get BenGay on my jewels, but it ain't something I'd recommend.