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September 29, 2005

Congratulations To Chief Justice John Roberts!

The United States Senate has just voted 78-22 to confirm John Glover Roberts, Jr., as the 17th chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

At age 50, he is the youngest chief justice since John Marshall was confirmed as chief justice in 1801.

All the Senate Republicans voted to confirm Judge Roberts. The 22 Democrats who voted against him were the typical left-wing hard liners. Leading the left against him were:

Akaka, HI
Bayh, IN
Biden, DE
Boxer, CA
Cantwell, WA
Clinton, NY
Corzine, NJ
Dayton, MN
Durbin, IL
Feinstein, CA
Harkin, IA
Inouye, HI
Kennedy, MA
Kerry, MA
Lautenberg, NJ
Mikulski, MD
Obama, IL
Reed, RI
Reid, NV
Sarbanes, MD
Schumer, NY
Stabenow, MI

At the end of the day, no real surprises.

Congratulations to Chief Justice Roberts!!

Posted by Rick | September 29, 2005 10:01 AM | Political Science

September 27, 2005

FEMA - An Unbelievable Bureaucracy

I have been a big supporter of FEMA since the disaster in New Orleans, but while I was listening to Ann Coulter on the Sean Hannity radio show today, she mentioned a news report on NBC5.com that discussed FEMA requiring 700 volunteer firemen, including Indiana firefighters Bill Lundy and Joe Calhoun, take an 8 hour course on sexual harassment and equal opportunity employment procedures before they would be allowed to help.

Lundy and Calhoun's first task was an eight-hour course on sexual harassment and equal opportunity employment procedures, Rogers reported. Neither firefighter would be involved in technical rescues of trapped people or any of their other specialties.

If this is the type of petty, shortsighted bureaucracy that pervades FEMA, the whole agency should be overhauled.

Posted by Rick | September 27, 2005 10:52 PM | Political Science

September 26, 2005

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Thank God for the Department of Homeland Security!
The Christian Science Monitor runs cartoons by Clay Bennett. Here is one that seems to hit the nail on the head.

To see more of his cartoons, click here.

Posted by Rick | September 26, 2005 10:10 PM | Social Studies

September 21, 2005

Go Ahead, Make My Day

President Bush said in remarks today that residents of the gulf coast need to be ready for the worst. So, in addition to stocking up on water, canned goods, plywood, and batteries, reliable sources tell me that residents of Houston are also stocking up on ammunition. I am guessing that the wide spread looting that occurred in Katrina's aftermath will not be tolerated in Texas. Residents in hurricane-ravaged areas should shoot first and ask questions later if they witness any looting. As Clint Eastwood said as he portrayed Dirty Harry in the movie Sudden Impact which was released in 1983, "Go ahead, make my day."

Here's a little movie trivia from IMDb - Earth's Biggest Movie Database concerning Dirty Harry's famous line:

The phrase, "Go ahead, make my day" was originally said by actor Gary Swanson in the movie Vice Squad (1982). Swanson, who played a Hollywood vice cop, said the line, "Go ahead scumbag, make my day," to actor Wings Hauser who played a pimp.

I like the earlier version better, don't you?

Posted by Rick | September 21, 2005 09:15 PM | Social Studies

September 20, 2005

Reid Says 'No' To John Roberts

Senate minority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said he was going to vote against Judge John Roberts, who has been nominated as the next chief justice of the Supreme Court.

The senate had over 75,000 pages of documents and over 300 appellate cases to review in evaluating Judge Roberts qualifications, but Senator Reid still said he didn't know enough about Roberts to vote for him. Reid is kidding isn't he?

Posted by Rick | September 20, 2005 07:03 PM | Political Science

September 16, 2005

The Politics Of Race, Poverty, And Class Warfare

In an article written by Ker Than at SPACE.com it was reported that "astronomers have detected a massive black hole but can find no traces of the surrounding galaxy that should be feeding it."

It is apropos that the announcement was made a day before President Bush’s speech to the nation from New Orleans on Thursday. President Bush declared war on poverty, but his war will be against poverty which has roots based on racial inequality. A war on poverty in New Orleans and the deep south that continues with larger and larger entitlement programs could very well become a massive black hole similar to the one just discovered in deep space that sucks up everything around it. America is already feeding the black hole of poverty at an alarming rate. Eventually, all that will be left are the impoverished.

President Bush's remarks, while attempting to comfort and encourage those who had to flee their homes because of Katrina, were more reminiscent of a speech LBJ might have given while promoting his Great Society than those of someone who proclaims to be a compassionate conservative. Seemingly oblivious to the massive entitlement programs of the past 40 years, the President, in a blatant attempt to pander to the African-American community, promised not only a chicken in every pot, but two, three or maybe even four for those that get lucky and win the lottery for free land that he is proposing. The entire transcript of the speech can be found here.

“Within the Gulf region are some of the most beautiful and historic places in America. As all of us saw on television, there’s also some deep, persistent poverty in this region, as well. That poverty has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America. We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action. So let us restore all that we have cherished from yesterday, and let us rise above the legacy of inequality. When the streets are rebuilt, there should be many new businesses, including minority-owned businesses, along those streets. When the houses are rebuilt, more families should own, not rent, those houses. When the regional economy revives, local people should be prepared for the jobs being created.”

By an arbitrary line written in sand somewhere in Washington, D.C., approximately 12.5% of Americans are living in poverty in the United States. Caucasians comprise approximately 75% of that group, while African-Americans comprise most of the remaining 25% of the population living in poverty.

Bill O’Reilly has written a column in which he points out some startling economic facts about the efforts we are already making on the war on poverty in these great United States.

"We'll begin by comparing the halfway point of President Clinton's tenure to the fifty yard line of the Bush administration. In 1996, the poverty level in the USA stood at 13.7%. In 2004, the poverty level was 12.7%, so Bush beats Clinton here by a full percentage point. To be fair, Clinton did bring the poverty rate down during his administration, while it has been rising slightly since 9/11. But at the halfway point, Bush wins.

As far as entitlement spending on poverty programs is concerned, it isn't even close. In 1996, President Clinton signed a budget that directed 12.2% of spending be directed toward the poor. In 2004, Bush's budget kicked 2% more than Clinton to poverty programs, an astronomical $329 billion dollars. In fact, President Bush is spending more on poverty entitlement programs and education than any President in history. What say you, Jesse and Howard?

For a country that is often accused by left wing loons of not caring about the poor, we are certainly putting up a good front. In 2006, almost $368 billion dollars will go for Medicaid, food stamps, family support assistance, supplemental security income, child nutrition programs, earned income tax credits, welfare payments, child care payments, foster care and adoption assistance, and child health insurance payments to the states. The truth is that the working men and women of this country are providing the tightest safety net in history for the poor. And our private charitable donations rank first in the world as well.

So the next time the poverty propagandists start with the "America ignores the poor" bull, simply walk away. These people are blatantly dishonest and could not care less that America does, indeed, help the less fortunate. The race and class baiters will always ignore the fact that some people simply cannot support themselves no matter what society does. The New Testament states it clearly: "the poor, they will always be with us." But America provides more opportunity for more people than anywhere else on the planet."

Yet on Friday night, September 16, 2005, Alan Colmes said on his show, Hannity and Colmes, Friday night:

"Not a lot of attention has been paid to the poor, paid to those that can't vote, that who are not empowered."

Apparently, Mr. Colmes would have us believe that $368 billion dollars is tantamount to ignoring the poor.

Talk show host Bill Maher, oblivious to the fact that perhaps more money has been spent on essential public works programs in Louisiana than in any other state in the nation, would have us believe that it's a class warfare issue. On his show Friday evening, Mr. Maher said:

"The levees didn't get built because the money for it went to rich people's tax cuts, and pork projects and corporate welfare."

The voices become even more shrill among African-American advocates who continue to try to divide the nation along racial lines.

As a guest on that same Bill Maher show Friday night, San Francisco mayor Willie Brown said:

"When you take a look at New Orleans for an example you see what occurred. You announce 'hey, let's get out of town, Katrina's coming.' Well you know the people who got that message who had cars, and who had airline tickets, and who had relatives in other places split. The only people left behind are the ones who couldn't split and they were there because America has never addressed the issue of that class of persons."

"If poor people were given the same resources or had the same resources made available that's been made available to Haliburton and to all of corporate America there wouldn't be any poor people. So be clear, when you give them only a piddlin', you're going to end up with people who are near..."

and he was then cut off.

And finally this from the honorable mayor:

"The policies of this nation that has allowed the issue of poverty, you understand, voting rights is one thing, but to just vote is not getting rid of the real problem in America. The Republican operation under George Bush has been consistently perpetuating the existence of an incredible number of very poor people all whom happen to be black in America."

From the MSNBC show, Hardball with Chris Matthews, radio talk show host Joe Madison came up with these pearls of wisdom:

"And this mess about is it economics or is it race? It's a double whammy when you're black. It's economics because poor people in this country are always marginalized. It's race because if you are poor and black you are marginalized doubly."

After that remark, I went out and put my hip-boots on. You would think that the lessons of the past 40 years of the Great Society would begin to sink in eventually. Throwing money at the impoverished without any level of personal responsibility on the recipient’s part is not the answer.

80% of success in life is merely a matter of showing up.

Poverty is rooted in laziness, not inability. While there are some in our society who are unable to cope for themselves because of illness or disability, most people below the poverty level are capable of providing a good life for themselves. However, it is much easier to let someone else provide life’s essentials and our society is willing to do it. Poverty in general, and poverty among African-Americans in particular, will be reduced substantially when individuals are forced to become self-reliant.

Every year thousands of dollars are spent per child in this country providing books, computers, schools and teachers, and it’s all free. Students who show up and put forth a modicum of effort can learn to read, write, and even add and subtract. If you can read, write and speak well in this country, the sky is the limit. Throw in the ability to do a little math, even if you have to use your fingers and toes, and you could end up as successful as Donald Trump.

American society is set up so that if you just show up, and keep your nose clean you can make a pretty nice life for yourself without breaking a sweat. Keeping your nose clean does not include having children out of wedlock or having more children than one can afford.

If merely showing up is not your style, and you want something better for yourself and your family, higher education abounds. Low interest school loans are available for students attending universities and trade schools. Scholarships for good students, students from poor families, and students who merely take the time to fill out the applications are there for the asking. Enter the military and the government will pay for most, if not all, of your higher education.

There is virtually no excuse to be uneducated in America. There is virtually no excuse to be on poor in America. The excuses must stop.

Everyone needs to show up, especially those living in poverty....

Posted by Rick | September 16, 2005 11:50 PM | Social Studies

September 14, 2005

All Or Nothing

I heard that one of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's reasons for not using the school buses to evacuate the city before Katrina was that there weren't enough bus drivers. Does that mean that if he had 2,000 buses and only 1,000 drivers he decided it wasn't worthwhile to evacuate 50,000 people?

Posted by Rick | September 14, 2005 01:00 AM | Just A Thought

September 9, 2005

Sandy Berger Medium-Well Done

Case closed, but it seems to me that former national security adviser Sandy Berger should have been sent to the big house to reflect on the error of his ways for at least 3 years. Martha Stewart lied to the feds and spent 5 months in the slammer and 5 months under house arrest (more or less). Not only did Sandy Berger smuggle classified documents out of the National Archives, he reportedly either misplaced or destroyed some of them. Here is the report from the Indianapolis Star:

A federal judge Thursday ordered former national security adviser Sandy Berger to pay a $50,000 fine and give up his security clearance for three years as the penalty for smuggling classified terrorism documents out of the National Archives in 2003.

The sentence was much more severe than the $10,000 fine that Justice Department prosecutors and Berger's attorneys had jointly proposed after Berger pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge. But Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson said the punishment, which also included two years of probation and 100 hours of community service, would more "sufficiently reflect the seriousness of the offense."

Berger, who had classified documents hand-delivered to his desk when he advised President Bill Clinton, pleaded guilty in April to unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents.

Posted by Rick | September 9, 2005 04:20 AM | Political Science

So Much For New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's Evacuation Plan

On September 1, 2005, in an interview aired on WWL-AM radio, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin had this to say, "It's too doggone late. Now get off your asses and let's do something, and let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country."

What a waste!

A couple of days later this picture was published indicating that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin must have been sitting on his ass when he should have been using these buses to evacuate his city. Does anyone have a mirror for the the big mouth mayor?

Posted by Rick | September 9, 2005 02:47 AM | Just A Thought

The Disgrace Of The Louisiana Department Of Homeland Security

It is becoming almost impossible for the Democrats to place the horrific conditions at the New Orleans Superdome and Convention Center that lasted for four days at the feet of FEMA's head, Michael Brown, and President Bush. In an interview on Hugh Hewitt's radio show, Major Garrett of Fox News laid the blame squarely in Louisiana officials' laps:

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

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

I, for one, can't wait for the bipartisan congressional hearings!

Posted by Rick | September 9, 2005 02:22 AM | Political Science

September 4, 2005

Random Thoughts About The National Disaster

I have been thinking about the national disaster that we have endured and the aftermath that we will be living with for years and years. The following are some random thoughts in no particular order.

Why should we rebuild a city like New Orleans that is below sea-level and is bound to be hit again and again by hurricanes?

If people are bound and determined to rebuild New Orleans, at least rebuild the oil refineries in a less precarious area.

Why did so many people not leave the city when they were told a giant hurricane was headed right at them?

I don't buy the excuse that 100,000 people in New Orleans didn't have enough resources to travel 30 miles to the north.

I have seen pictures of the flooded parking lot full of school buses in New Orleans. Why weren't the school buses, transit buses and trains used to evacuate the people who didn't have enough money to leave?

It is being reported that over 2,000 school buses were eventually damaged/destroyed by the flooding. If nothing else, they should have been moved! At $50,000 per bus, that's $100,000,000 (one hundred million dollars) in community assets that did not have to be lost.

If people in the Katrina's path knew they weren't going to leave their homes during the hurricane, why didn't they fill up containers of water to help them in the inevitable aftermath?

Regardless of the fact that all these people refused to leave the city of New Orleans, America would still have to deal with the fact that over a million people are now homeless because of the damage the level 4 hurricane force winds, the storm surge, and the flooding caused.

The American military is a marvelous organization capable of responding to virtually every situation in heroic fashion.

A job corps manned by the displaced citizens should be set up that would aid in rebuilding the disaster areas. Food and temporary housing could be provided, a stipend paid to live on, and a savings account that would accumulate a percentage of their over-all earnings would be paid to those that remained in the program until the affected areas were rebuilt or a specific time commitment was fulfilled. When the areas were ready to be reoccupied, the money in the savings accounts could then be used to obtain housing, buy new furniture, automobiles, and household goods. The job corps would train many of the poor and unskilled to be carpenters, masons, tile setters, equipment operators, even bookkeepers, and teachers. The benefits to the communities would be returned many times.

I am glad that the mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, who did such a wonderful job preparing his community for a natural disaster, will be overseeing FEMA's work in his community in the coming weeks and months, or so he claims.

New Orleans' Mayor Ray Nagin should resign!

The police chief says they ran out of ammunition. What were they shooting at? They weren't shooting the looters and roving bands of gun-toting thugs. Barney Fife got one bullet, but never used it either.

The police chief of New Orleans, Superintendent Eddie Compass, should resign.

It is being reported that the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security would not let the Red Cross bring food and water into the Superdome and the New Orleans Convention Center in the three or four days immediately following the flooding because it would encourage the people to stay and officials wanted them to suffer so they would be motivated to leave.

The governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco, should resign.

The former director of FEMA under Bill Clinton, James Lee Witt, who was just hired by LA Governor Kathleen Blanco, seems to think that by taking cheap political shots at the Bush administration and the Department of Homeland Security he will speed FEMA's relief effort in Louisiana.

Does everything have to be a racial issue? The fact is that, black or white, if you didn't leave New Orleans before the storm, any suffering you endured after the storm was your own fault. How many of the people now complaining about the slow response to the crisis called the mayor, or police chief, or governor before the storm and said you wanted to leave and needed help to do so?

There are still many people in New Orleans who refuse to leave their flooded homes. Why do these people continue to make bad decisions?

Citizens of Louisiana, please do not reelect the public officials who should have had an emergency plan in place to take care of this disaster and failed you.

I heard that a news report that said New Orleans had three emergency rescue boats and two were out of commission at the time of the flood.

Posted by Rick | September 4, 2005 11:33 PM | Just A Thought

September 3, 2005

Has The Federal Response To Hurricane Katrina Been Inadequate?

There are some realities that most of the critics of the relief effort seem to be overlooking. The New Orlean's mayor and police chief are responsible for preparing their local emergency plans and for carrying them out. If help is needed, it is their responsibility to ask the governor for that help. The governor of Louisiana is then responsible for activating the national guard and state police. If even more help is needed, the governor asks the federal government to come into the state with assistance. This doesn't happen in a vacuum and it isn't like ordering a Domino's pizza. Marshaling millions of meals, millions of gallons of water, thousands of trucks, hundreds of helicopters, thousands of troops, and all of the support staff and supplies to service the trucks, helicopters, and troops takes a day or two, not to mention the travel time to put everything in place. In good weather, with power and water, with telephone service, and with open roads, this takes time. In the middle of a flood with none of the above-mentioned infrastructure, it inevitably takes even longer.

It appears that the local authorities had nowhere near the foresight or preparation necessary for an event of this magnitude. (See the example of putting together an emergency shelter in Houston. The Astrodome was outfitted as a refugee site for the people of New Orleans. With time under ideal conditions, they couldn’t accommodate anywhere near the number of people needing a bed. When it became apparent that they could not accomodate all of the refugees, they began putting together sites in other cities in Texas; and other states have begun to offer accomodations for the refugees as well. They put together these sites under ideal conditions, where they had open roads, telephone service, water, and power. The sites still took a few days to come together.) Exacerbating the problem was the fact that the Louisiana’s governor was slow in activating the Louisiana national guard, and no one, not the police chief, the mayor, or the governor, was willing to do what was necessary to control the lawlessness which ultimately became a major impediment to the relief effort.

Marshaling the relief effort to a tragedy of this magnitude which covered three states and hundreds of miles of coastline in 4 days is truly a marvelous feat. Any blame of the President and FEMA for an untimely response to the emergency by the federal government is misplaced.

Posted by Rick | September 3, 2005 04:28 AM | Social Studies

"George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People" - Kanye West

On NBC's concert for the victims of hurricane Katrina, Mike Meyers reads prepared remarks off a prompter, then the microphone switches to black singer, Kanye West, who had this to say:

"I hate the way they portray us in the media.

If you see a black family, it says they are looting; if you see a white family, it says they are looking for food.

And you know that it’s been 5 days because most of the people are black and even for me to complain - I would be a hypocrite because I’ve tried to turn away from the TV because it’s too hard to watch. I’ve even been shopping before even giving a donation , so now I’m calling my business manager right now to see what is the biggest amount I can give.

And just to imagine if I was down there, and those are my people down there. So anybody out there that wants to do anything that we can help with the set up, the way America is set up to help - the poor, the black people, the less well off as slow as possible. I mean, Red Cross is doing everything they can.

We already realize a lot of the people that could help are at war right now fighting another way and they’ve given them permission to go down and shoot us."

Mike Meyers makes a brief attempt to get back on message, then Kanye West ended his rant with this:

"George Bush doesn’t care about black people."

I don't know how long the video will be posted on MSNBC, but here is the link if you would like to see the video.

Mr. West would have been better off admitting that he had not learned to read the prepared remarks - the public school system had failed him and he would be spending whatever his business manager said he could on a remedial reading class. Going on national television with this ridiculous, unintelligible rant merely highlighted his ignorance, and his bigotry.

Posted by Rick | September 3, 2005 01:00 AM | Social Studies

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