In Memoriam

Sunday, August 29, AD 2010

Today marks the 5th anniversary of the day Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans.

Many other commenters, far more versed in statistics and politics, will have plenty to say about the governmental failures in the disaster and the progress New Orleans has made in rebuilding. These are all very worthwhile, but as someone who lived in the New Orleans area before the storm, it’s not the story I think that’s most worth telling nor is it the one I’m most equipped to tell. While the government and insurance companies both reared their ugly and greedy heads in the aftermath, there’s only so much good one gets out of rehashing old arguments and injuries. I want to remember the good that God has done for me and the city from this storm.

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19 Responses to In Memoriam

  • [Saying people deserved to die on the anniversary of their deaths is one of the most unchristian things I can think of. I will not be tolerate it, other than to say a) everyone’s location comes with natural dangers b) New Orleans is so far below sea level b/c of the federal government’s levee system which made the ground sink more]

  • If I could win a trip to anywhere on earth I haven’t visited before, the first place I’d choose would be New Orleans (as long as it wasn’t during hurricane season or Mardi Gras, since I don’t really care for drunken crowds). It seems to be one of the few places left in the United States that has a genuine Old World culture.

  • [The reasons people want to live in New Orleans are expressed in the post. Again, I am not tolerating this nonsense on this issue today. Another day, perhaps, but not today. This is your first and only warning-MRD]

  • It seems to be one of the few places left in the United States that has a genuine Old World culture.

    That it does. The city itself is different from any other city in America, in a very good way.

    As far as visiting during Mardi Gras, I’m with you; I don’t think New Orleans is at it’s best in the French Quarter on Mardi Gras. However, during Mardi Gras season you can come to a parade that’s a pretty cool environment that’s not as full of drunken crowds depending on where you go.

  • As regards those who think living in New Orleans is wrong or stupid because of its location, well, is there really any place in the continental U.S. that is completely disaster free? Anyplace on the Gulf Coast or East Coast is subject to hurricanes, the West Coast has earthquakes, mudslides, forest fires, and even a volcano (Mt. St. Helens) and the Midwest and South have tornadoes and floods. I suppose anyone who lives in those places “deserves” what they get too, right?

  • If a location requires carefully engineered public works to survive, it is reasonable to ask if resettlement should be undertaken. You might begin by asking underwriters on which portions of the territory of greater New Orleans (absent public subsidies and state compulsion) would residential and commercial development incorporate uninsurable risks.

  • Only a very small part of New Orleans proper is below sea level, most of it not.

    A priest I know was on the verge of being kicked out (“asked to leave”) of Notre Dame Seminary for the 3rd and last time. They also had their guns on 2 other men as well. Katrina hit and they were all sent to another seminary. At this new seminary, they excelled, just as they had in minor seminary. Our diocese has at least 3 fine young men as holy priests of God, possibly only due to the effects of Katrina.

  • Art Deco:

    Those questions are in fact being asked and since the footprint of New Orleans appears to be smaller, shrinking in from some of the riskier places is still being attempted (they tried to prevent resettlement immediately after the storm, but were blocked by political pressures). However, New Orleans developers are taking pains to try to take the higher land and put it to more efficient uses in order to reduce some of the risks.

    That said, the abandonment of the entire city is neither practical nor desirable.

  • Elaine,

    I disagree.

    If you live 9 feet below sea level, then deal with the consequences and don’t blame the government for a decision you consciously made.

    Your logic holds no water, pun intended.

  • If New Orleans needs the federal government to keep the city viable and to operate daily, then there is no practical nor desirable reason to continue throwing money away in the bayou.

  • There is a reason there is a national flood insurance program. There is really no “safe” area from flooding. The recent floods in Milwaukee occurred in the highest elevated neighborhoods. WRT Katrina specifically, tidal surge inundated communities over 100 miles inland. Perhaps prudence would dictate making a nature preserve from the coast line of the Gulf to 100 miles inland. More seriously, in some respects, New Orleans is better prepared for events that typically cause flooding because it has an extensive non-gravity water removal system. It wasn’t just New Orleans’s system that failed: every other system along the Gulf failed, most failing because they didn’t have a system to begin with.

    You hear the garbage with New Orleans that you hear after every natural disaster. When the Missouri and Mississippi had massive flooding a decade ago, smart people said, people should build along rivers. When earthquakes hit California, people say you shouldn’t live where there are earthquakes. When tornadoes hit the Midwest, people say you shouldn’t live in tornado alley. This is one of those areas where you can sound awful intelligent until it comes down to actually proposing a solution. There are all sorts of hazards in the world, some more easily mitigated than others.

  • Good points M.Z.

    I think it would be better if there were in fact a nature preserve from the coast and people lived further inland. Obviously for economic reasons, people tend to live near coasts.

    Another major point of consideration that has economic impacts has to do with dams and levies and other man-made mechanisms that are put into place for practical economic reasons and flood-protection measures. These things increase the pace of coastal erosion in what ever direction the water is being directed and such mega-disasters exacerbate this problem; in short, Katrina put this activity on fast-forward.

    There are estimates that New Orleans will be off shore in 85 years (2095) as coastal erosions continue. This is the result of what has been going on for some 300 years in terms of coastal erosion. The coastline will pass the city and New Orleans literally will be a fish bowl.

    There is great difficulty in letting go of a city with significant history and this should not be dismissed as arbritrary concerns; it is human to have such attachment.

    I am not sure what to do in this situation. But given that New Orleans is going to be 15 to 18 feet below sea level, if the predictions are accurated, and will be sitting by itself off the coast, surrounded virtually on all sides by water, I am not sure building 50-to-100 feet tall levees are going to protect the city or are worth the investment.

    The solution that is more economically viable, hospitable to life, and practical is obviously moving. But this is no easy task nor is it simply said.

  • When tornadoes hit the Midwest, people say you shouldn’t live in tornado alley.

    The most tornado prone metropolis in the United States is Oklahoma City, which typically has about one a year.
    The implications of most such tornados are the loss of some mobile homes and the roof on some garages.

    http://www.tornadoproject.com/fscale/fscale.htm

  • I think a state law requiring the purchase of flood insurance by property owners (much as a purchase of car insurance is required) would permit the formation of viable actuarial pools. Application of underwriting standards could then limit development in selected areas.

    You would need to have a state fund to indemnify property owners whose land ceased to be utile for residential or commercial development.

  • If you live 9 feet below sea level, then deal with the consequences and don’t blame the government for a decision you consciously made.

    The federal government is in control of the levee systems. Their decisions (building the MR-GO canal and refusing to redirect the mississippi to effect the natural replenishment of the wetlands) exacerbated the situation. No one blames the government for Katrina and the placement of the city but the feds (and this both parties) with the Army Corps of Engineers in particular have made poor decisions by putting immediate economic interests ahead of long-term environmental considerations. Critiquing the feds is entirely appropriate.

    Eric:

    You raise good points. The wetlands have to be replenished. Unfortunately, wetlands protection is an issue that’s not glamorous to Democrats and repugnant to Republicans. Nevertheless, the wisest course of action to to protect the city from these storms by improving the wetland barriers that diminish storms before they ever reach the city. This is not an easy thing to do, but it’s long past time for someone to start considering how to do it.

  • Shutting New Orleans down isn’t sensible, if for no other reason than it’s a huge port through which billions of dollars worth of commerce passes, especially for the country’s midsection. It would take billions to upgrade one of the nearby Gulf ports
    (Mobile? Biloxi?) to take the traffic.

    Leaving aside the fact that it’s New Orleans, for pete’s sake. Yeah, I’m sentimental, but there’s something to be said for sentiment on occasion. 🙂

  • I don’t disagree with you Dale. I wasn’t advocating for shutting down New Orleans. There may be other reasonable solutions that did not occur to me. What struck me as the solution that is “more economically viable, hospitable to life, and practical,” need not be the course of action that is taken. I was simply saying that giving up on the city met these criterion better than any other solution I could think of, not that it was better.

    New Orleans is a great city with a rich cultural history and it would be a terrible thing for us lose it. I support trying to salvage the city in any way possible but only if we sincerely face the facts that are serious challenges that will have to be met — and as we can see from certain comments, people from other places in the U.S. might not be too excited about picking up the tab.

  • Eric:

    Oh, I wasn’t responding to you–for one, I heartily agree on the wetlands issue. The maps showing how much of Louisiana is being lost to the Gulf are sobering.

    Actually, I was disagreeing with brother Tito, and wanted to point out the economic importance of the city, and the lack of an alternative.

  • Not shutting the city down, but not (after a transitional period) subsidizing its maintenance either.

    If the civil engineering permits, one might devolve responsibility for the construction and maintenance of the subregional levee system on an elective authority. The authority would be empowered to set tolls and make flat assessments on personal income. Conjoined to underwriting standards, this would place on local residents the full cost of real estate development in that part of the world and move the area closer to some sort of social optimum.

Political Miscellania 6/24/10

Thursday, June 24, AD 2010

A roundup of recent political news.

1.  Nikki Haley, see the above video, crushed her opponent in the runoff 65-35.  She survived bizzare accusations of infidelity, attacks on whether she is a Christian, her parents are Sikh immigrants, and outright racism.  She is only 38 years old, her youth being something she has in common with the new generation of conservatives running and winning this year.  She has a 20 point lead on her opponent in the general election and is the odds on favorite to win in the fall and be the next governor of South Carolina.

2.  Tim Scott handily won his runoff against Paul Thurmond for the Republican nomination for Congress from South Carolina 1.  This is a heavily Republican district, so Mr. Scott, who many consider to be the most conservative member of the South Carolina legislature, will now almost certainly be the first black Republican congressman from South Carolina since Reconstruction.

3.  The bad news for the Democrats for November just will not stop.  Gallup released a poll this week which shows a huge enthusiasm gap in favor of the GOP.

The current average is based on four measures of this enthusiasm question since February, including the recent June 11-13 USA Today/Gallup poll. In that poll, 53% of Republicans said they were more enthusiastic than usual about voting and 39% were less enthusiastic, while 35% of Democrats said they were more enthusiastic about voting and 56% were less enthusiastic.

Republicans’ net score of +14 more enthusiastic in the latest poll compared with the Democrats’ net score of -21 represents the largest relative party advantage Gallup has measured in a single midterm election-year poll. More generally, Republicans have shown a decided relative advantage in enthusiasm throughout 2010, averaging a net score of +28, compared with Democrats’ net score of 0.

(Gallup instituted a separate enthusiasm question in March on its Daily tracking survey, which asks voters to say how enthusiastic they are about voting this year as opposed to comparing their current enthusiasm to their enthusiasm in prior elections. This new enthusiasm question lacks a historical trend but has also shown a consistent Republican advantage throughout the year.)

The 28 percentage-point party difference in net scores on the “more enthusiastic than usual” question in 2010 is the highest Gallup has measured in a midterm election year, with 1994’s 17-point Republican advantage the only other midterm election-year gap coming close. (See the table at the end of the article for full data by party.)

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One Response to Political Miscellania 6/24/10

  • Re: Patty Murray’s challengers… Akers is solid, but he just doesn’t have much of a following among folks here in WA. He’s a businessman from Bellingham, who intends to streamline or LEAN out the bureaucracy.

    Rossi is (in my mind) a Johnny-come-lately to the race, and is the supposed establishment choice. He has name recognition, but he has yet to win a statewide race. In my time here, he’s the guy that lost to Christine Gregoire (governor) twice.

    Clint Didier is the man who has won my support. He’s a former tight end for the Redskins, and even caught a TD pass in the Superbowl. He’s a farmer, and a football coach back in Easter WA. By no means is he a polished politician, he admits quite frankly that he is not a polished politician.

    The Washington State Republican Party recently held their convention. Terra Mork, a local activist and pro-life conservative gives her take on the convention here and here. Additionally, Michelle at “Life of the Party”, another local local activist and pro-life conservative gives her endorsement to Didier as well.

    Anecdotally, the signs you see around town for Senate candidates are primarily for Didier. I have not seen one for Rossi. I’ve only seen one for Akers and one for Murray. WA is typically a blue state, but the enthusiasm seems to be falling mostly behind Didier, as Terra’s report of the straw poll seems to indicate. It should be interesting to see how the top two primary plays out to see who really will be on the ballot in the general.

Mr. President, Not Even Close to Good Enough

Wednesday, June 16, AD 2010

Mr. President,

Last night you gave an address using the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as an opportunity to pontificate about many subjects. I am afraid that far from convincing me you are leading the federal government well in this disaster, you have removed beyond a doubt your indifference to the state of Louisiana. Since you rarely visited the state before the disaster (even when the un-repaired damage done by Hurricane Katrina should have called your attention), perhaps I, as a resident of this great state, can explain what you obviously don’t understand.

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8 Responses to Mr. President, Not Even Close to Good Enough

  • Flappin’ gums don’t get things done!

    Do something besides execrating BP and demolishing the unjsut, racist capitalist economy!

  • Bravo. I would not like to be President with the current problems that face the country including the disaster in the Gulf. But the man wanted the job and billed that the planet would start to heal with his ascent. Now he’s learning that neither the tides nor disasters heed his will.

    Leadership is a lot more than talk.

  • I honestly did not seize the opportunity to observe the speech, but I was amazed to learn that Chris Matthews and Keith Olberman heavily critized the President.

    Olberman said: “It was a great speech if you were on another planet for the last 57 days.”

    Matthews compared Obama to Carter, said that he had “no direction,” was “a lot of meritocracy, a lot of blue ribbon talk” and that he did not personally “sense executive command” from the President.

  • This whole Obama experiment is kind of like expecting a career .200 hitter to suddenly start hitting .325 with 30 hrs and 92 rbi. I suppose it’s possible if the player played every game like the one game last September when he went 4 for 5 with 1 hr and 4 rbi. Possible, but not bloody likely. The truth of the matter is that Obama was not even a good community organizer. People who spend too much time reading the sports pages missed this little fact.

  • Actually, if a player played every game like the one last September, he would be an .800 hitter with 162 hr and 648 rbi – but I think you catch my drift.

  • Even more about the poor performance Tuesday night. You know its bad when your own press supporters dis you:

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2010/06/obama_disappoints_from_the_beg.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

  • It seems like there is finally some good news with the spill. The Houston Chronicle reports, U.S. ships were being outfitted earlier this month with four pairs of skimming booms airlifted from the Netherlands and should be deployed within days.” Could this be the turning point? For all those feeling pretty gloomy about this situation, I recommend a good laugh… Here’s a funny joke, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dd0svVWfFbo

Louisiana Close to Passing Pro-Life Measures

Monday, June 14, AD 2010

One of the many things that makes Louisiana the greatest state in the Union is that due to its high population of Catholics it is the most pro-life state on the issue of abortion. This allows Louisiana to develop and pass pro-life laws that legislators in other states can adopt.

The latest laws are no exception, though perhaps they are too late. You may remember how in the healthcare debate, Catholics promoting the bill often pointed out that insurance often covers abortion and that the federal bill was doing little to expand coverage for abortion over the current private insurance system. Some in that camp obviously believed that the Republicans were too wedded to big business/insurance to actually change that.

I was glad they pointed this out, as it exposed a situation which I believed pro-lifers would soon rectify. Indeed, Louisiana is very close to doing just that:

House Bill 1247 by Rep. Frank Hoffman, R-West Monroe, would bar private insurers from covering “elective” abortions, including by women who are victims of rape or incest. The only exception would be for abortion procedures performed to save the life of the pregnant woman

Sen. Gerald Long, R-Natchitoches, who handled Hoffman’s bill, said it was filed in response to the health-care overhaul bill approved earlier this year by Congress, which gives states the right to “opt out” of covering elective abortions. He said the legislation is meant to affirm Louisiana’s long-standing opposition to abortion.

Hoffman’s bill, which passed 28-3, must go back to the House for agreement with changes made by the Senate before it can go to Gov. Bobby Jindal‘s desk.

Hopefully more pro-life states will follow Louisiana’s lead.

But it does clearly show the problems with the positions adopted by Catholics who promoted Obamacare. They gave up on the pro-life movement’s ability to actually change things. While sometimes the GOP does justly cause pro-lifers to be close to despair, Louisiana shows that sometimes real pro-life change can come if only we work for it.

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10 Responses to Louisiana Close to Passing Pro-Life Measures

  • “They gave up on the pro-life movement’s ability to actually change things.”

    Michael, you hit the nail squarely on the head there, my friend. And it wasn’t just in the Obamacare fight. We saw the same thing during the 2008 election when formerly solid pro-lifers abandoned the principled positions they once held regarding the necessity of pursuing a legal regime that protects the unborn in law and decided to play the pro-choice Catholic game of pursuing left-wing “quality-of-life” measures that allegedly “reduce” the so-called “need” for abortion.

    Examine the things Kmiec, Cafardi, et al said during the 2008 election to justify their support of the pro-abortion Obama, and it basically comes down to the problem you identify: they appeared to have despaired of the ability of the pro-life agenda and the efforts of pro-lifers to bring about change (never mind just holding the line against the encroaching culture of death). Either that or they were flakes hoping to latch onto the hopey-changey bandwagon. Probably a little of both.

  • Any thoughts on if the restrictions will be found Constitutional? Not being negative, just don’t know.

  • “due to its high population of Catholics, (Louisiana) is the most pro-life state”

    By that measure, Rhode Island ought to be the most pro-life state in the Union since nearly 60 percent of its residents are Catholic (2006 figures).

    According to this chart, Louisiana, with 26.1 percent Catholic residents, is only #12 on the list of “most Catholic” states (based on pre-Katrina 2005 population figures):

    http://www.askacatholic.com/_whatsnew/myfavorites2/catholic_population.cfm#percentage

    A question that really begs to be asked is, why are at least 8 of the top 10 “most Catholic” states on the list controlled or dominated by liberal, pro-abort (not to mention corrupt) Democrats?

  • I can only imagine St. Peter’s verdict on our betters’ male-of-the-bovine-species-feces rationals for advancing untrammeled mass exterminations of millions of unborn babies; ESCR; gay marriage; and public schools’ immoral brainwashing of a hundred million American youth.

    We can pray for them. As long as they live there is the chance they may come to a better mind that the sanctity of human life is more vital than the secular human, progressive agenda, i.e., socialism (which is mass brigandage).

    These are the teachings of the Popes, including the current Pope who promulgated a list of four non-negotiables which were wilfully ignored by 54% of catholics, including bishops.

    Kmiec was named ambassador to Malta. He thought he’d get the Vatican . . . [heh] I think Malta is the most Catholic nation on the planet, and the Maltese should have turned him away.

  • “Any thoughts on if the restrictions will be found Constitutional? Not being negative, just don’t know.”

    The restrictions are not contrary to the statues written into law, so there is no reason it would be challenged in court.

    I wholeheartedly agree with Michael on this — more states need to follow this example. Though as a native Texan, Michael could not be more wrong on what state is the greatest in the Union.

    However it would be intellectually dishonest for it not to be mentioned that Louisiana’s new law is not a slap-in-the-face to the federal government.

    During the health care debate last year, the U.S. House adopted at the last minute a measure (the Stupak Amendment) that would prohibit any insurance plan sold in the exchanges from including policies that cover abortion, whether public (when the “public option” was on the table) or private.

    In the Senate, there were not a sufficient number of pro-life votes to adopt a federal-wide policy like the Stupak Amendment to ban abortion in the exchanges. The vote on such an amendment only garnered 38 Republican votes and 7 Democrats. The final compromise (because Senator Nelson did not hold out) was that each state would be allowed to enact an abortion ban in its exchanges as well as opt to ban abortion in any private insurance plan sold in the state period (which was already existing law; it was illegal to sell abortion as a primary benefit in any plan in Missouri prior to the health care debate).

    This law that is on the brink of passage in Louisiana has already passed in Tennessee and is the law. In other words, the state legislatures are merely acting within the frame of “ObamaCare” and what they are doing is acting on a provision that was explicitly written into the bill. It was known without any ambiguity before the bill passed that states were going to be able to do this. It was not some “obscure” provision (as Fox News recently put it) because I recall it (the “Senate compromise” as the NRTL termed it) being rejected by pro-life groups that insisted that the Stupak Amendment was the only acceptable option.

    Quite honestly, I opposed the final bill and I think there was great reason to do so. But I am somewhat dismayed that there was so much information, mostly “talking points”, both true and false, circulating that people were unaware of how actual policies would look when they materialized.

    I’m not trying to take a shot at anyone here particularly. If it seems that way, I truly apologize. But I have honestly lost some trust in groups that condemned this very compromise the day it was unveiled and are now today celebrating its existence.

    I suppose this was God’s gift of a window, when it seemed to the pro-life mind that a door had closed when the bill passed.

    That’s my two cents.

  • Eric:

    I agree that this isn’t a slap in the face to Obamacare.

    As you point out though, states could already do this before Obamacare. I do have to give Obamacare credit if permission is explicitly written into the law (I didn’t know that before). That said, I’m still uncomfortable with the money that the federal government does pay when states don’t ban abortion in the exchange.

    Elaine:

    My feeling is that Louisiana has a much higher number of practicing and/or orthodox Catholics. Why Louisiana has retained this while many of the states in the list have more secular versions of Catholicism is an interesting question, though I imagine Louisiana’s culture (Acadiana for example) has done much to retain it.

  • “My feeling is that Louisiana has a much higher number of practicing and/or orthodox Catholics”

    I suspect the active Catholic culture of New Orleans and Cajun country has a lot to do with this. However, there was an equally active Catholic culture among the Irish in New York and Boston, among French Canadians in New England, and among Italians, Poles, and other ethnic groups in Chicago, Philly, Milwaukee, etc.

    One explanation I have read is that Louisiana lost a lot of its reliably Democratic voters after Katrina, which enabled more conservatives and Republicans like Gov. Bobby Jindal to be elected. It pains me to suggest this, but perhaps Louisiana has actually become LESS Catholic and more evangelical Protestant since Katrina and that is why pro-life measures are moving more quickly?

  • Eric,

    Even though it is written into statute, can’t the statute be declared unconstitutional?

  • One explanation I have read is that Louisiana lost a lot of its reliably Democratic voters after Katrina, which enabled more conservatives and Republicans like Gov. Bobby Jindal to be elected. It pains me to suggest this, but perhaps Louisiana has actually become LESS Catholic and more evangelical Protestant since Katrina and that is why pro-life measures are moving more quickly?

    Bobby Jindal is Catholic and almost beat Blanco the first time he ran for governor (when he came out of nowhere), then spent the 4 years in between courting the Protestant North Louisiana by convincing them he wasn’t crazy (and not a Muslim, which seemed to be a problem up there). So it’s not Jindal needed a dramatic change via Katrina to win.

    The bulk of the population loss in Louisiana was African-American (from what we can tell). Most of that was probably Protestant, as the majority of the African-american community is Protestant. We also had an influx of immigrants who came looking for the construction jobs (we’re not sure how many of them are still around or whether they moved on), but that would be a more Catholic influx. So if anything, Louisiana may have become more Catholic rather than Protestant.

    It’s also worth noting that at this point, the only prominent pro-abortion politicians are the Landrieus (Sen. Mary and Mayor of New Orleans Mitch) which has for a long time been the most prominent political family in the state. This means that across both Protestant North Louisiana and Catholic South Louisiana, most of the politicians are pro-life. That might change when the New Orleans votes out Cao and puts in an African-American democrat but both Protestants and Catholics seem to be strongly united on the pro-life side of the abortion issue.

  • “Even though it is written into statute, can’t the statute be declared unconstitutional?”

    I am not a constitutional law scholar, but I don’t see any reason it should be overturned in court — and if it were challenged, I think we (pro-lifers) would have a pretty good case.

    States do not make it illegal for private insurance to sell abortion coverage, but states can and do regulate how they offer it. For example, in Missouri before the health care debate it was illegal to sell abortion as a primary benefit in any private insurance policy — it always had to be a “rider” or supplemental policy that is bought in addition to any health plan, paid for in a strictly separate manner. The goal was to protect the conscience of other citizens in the state so that they would not be directly or indirectly subsidizing abortion by funding a risk pool that covers such an evil.

    In the exchanges, it would have the same effect — no insurance company could sell abortion as a primary benefit, but if someone opted to have abortion coverage, they would have to purchase a “rider” with their own funds on top of the comprehensive plan they bought into. This was precisely what the Stupak language would have done at the national level. Obviously we did not get that in the Senate, so the best bet (given that the bill passed) is to have each state pass Stupak-like legislation.

    This issue, in effect, is very similar to the Medicaid problem. Under the Hyde Amendment, federal dollars cannot be used to subsidize abortions through Medicaid. But Medicaid is a joint federal-state program. 32 states follow the federal government’s initiative and don’t fund abortion except for the three infamous exceptions. However, 17 states use state funds — and I’m not assure about the accounting methods and how it is kept, if it is at all, separate from federal funds — to cover all “medically necessary” abortions, which really means any and all abortions.

    So this legislation, though very imperfect, has brought the abortion fight back to the states and it is at the state level, by and large, that pro-life gains occur the most.

    We should count our blessings.

Political Correctness Trumps Expertise in Gulf Oil Spill Response

Tuesday, June 1, AD 2010

During his press statement last week, President Obama said that in dealing with the recent oil spill in the Gulf, he was “examining every recommendation, every idea that’s out there, and making our best judgment as to whether these are the right steps to take, based on the best experts that we know of.”

That, however, is not entirely true:

A St. Louis scientist who was among a select group picked by the Obama administration to pursue a solution to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been removed from the group because of writings on his website, the U.S. Energy Department confirmed Wednesday.

Washington University physics professor Jonathan Katz was one of five top scientists chosen by the Department of Energy and attended meetings in Houston last week.

Though considered a leading scientist, Katz’s website postings often touch on social issues. Some of those writings have stirred anger in the past and include postings defending homophobia and questioning the value of racial diversity efforts.

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0 Responses to Political Correctness Trumps Expertise in Gulf Oil Spill Response

  • Pingback: The Patriot's Flag » BP – Update Page
  • In addition to his “expertise”, he did find Jesus burial box: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lost_Tomb_of_Jesus

    And President Obama is supposed to be “smart”.

    I have a bridge to sell you if that’s true.

  • 1/20/2009: Beginning of an Error.

    Hold them regime responsible for the misery.

  • To be fair, I did just learn that James Cameron is also an engineer. Didn’t know that, and it puts his involvement in a different light.

    But to exclude someone because he has differing opinions on unrelated topics? Well, that’s only something conservatives do, right? /sarcasm

  • Engineer is a very broad category (like doctor). You wouldn’t call in a cardiologist to do brain surgery (heck, you wouldn’t even call him in to do heart surgery, since cardiologists are not surgeons).

  • This whole situation will be extremely unforunate for the environmental life and for the economy in a number of clashing ways. This problem could have been baffled however sometimes accidents happen. These companies should be held responsible for this global catastrophe.

  • It is nearly unbelievable that this oil spill is still not taken care of. It’s been what, like 46 days now?? All i see on the tv all day long is washed up fish, and poor pelicans covered in oil.

  • The Gulf is a nightmare and the oil has been seen as far as Alabama and Florida…Obama didn’t do himself any favors by criticizing Bush’s response time to Katrina

  • This whole catastrophe with BP is out of control. The amount of spilling into the Gulf of Mexico sprung up by thousands of barrelfuls Wednesday right after an underwater robot seemingly hit the containment cap that has been getting oil from BP’s Macondo well. I question how much desolation this entire oil spill is going to cost the sea when it’s all over

  • Well finally they have a plan to cap this thing, but given their track-record so far, I’m not holding out a ton of hope for this. I was in Tampa when that tanker caught fire (I was driving over the Skyway right when it happened, saw the smoke) and the beaches are still washing up tar balls. I think it has effectively ruined the economy of southern LA, MI and AL towns. I have a ton of family there and they are really desperate.

Anh Joseph Cao and the Vietnamese Government

Friday, May 7, AD 2010

One of my personal heroes is Congressman Anh “Joseph” Cao (R.LA).  I have no doubt that he is more liberal politically than I am, but he is a man of the highest principles.  Pro-life to his core, he voted for ObamaCare only after the Stupak amendment passed.  He voted for ObamaCare, even though he knew such a vote was anathema to almost all Republicans, including the one writing this post, because he thought it was the right thing to do.  When Stupak caved, Cao refused to vote for ObamaCare because of the abortion issue, even though he knew that the vote against ObamaCare was anathema to most of the voters of his liberal district, because he thought it was the right thing to do.

Recently, the Communist government of Vietnam wrote to the Congressman hoping that as the sole Vietnamese-American Congressman he could help clear up some “misunderstandings” between the Vietnamese government and Vietnamese-Americans.  Congressman Cao’s response is memorable and may be read here.  So his meaning could not be mistaken, Congressman Cao also wrote his response in Vietnamese here.

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10 Responses to Anh Joseph Cao and the Vietnamese Government

  • If I could, I would contribute to his campaign as well.

    What an outstanding human being and American!

    I will certainly be praying for him and his re-election campaign.

  • What a great letter!

  • Don:

    He voted for Obamacare knowing the Stupak amendment was a sham that was going to get scrubbed out in committe, which it eventually was.

  • I am willing to give Cao a pass on the original vote in favor the healthcare bill.

    First, as profoundly disappointed as I am with Congressman Stupak’s cave-in and subsequent votes, I am unsure any of us can say that a vote for the original House version of the healthcare bill was a participation in a knowing sham … even Bart Stupak. I certainly believed Stupak all the way up until the end.

    Next, Cao’s lone ‘aye’ was not dispositive, in that Speaker Pelosi by all accounts had several more Democrats ready to vote yes. Cao is basically holding a “safe” Democratic seat, vacated by Congressman Cold Cash Jefferson. So I am willing to ‘pass’ Cao on that ground as well.

    Finally, I recall that the Roman Catholic Church and other pro-life religious and secular entities, during the amendment phase, expressly took the position to treat the Stupak langugage as legitimate and not to vote against it during the amendment phases (i.e., not to join with pro-abortion reps) in a political ploy to defeat Stupak’s amendment and force Stupak et al to vote against the final version. As we can surmise now, that might have been disastrous.

    If the Church was correct that pro-lifers can not play games like that, then I find it hard to fault Cao on these grounds either.

  • Greg,

    You might as well blame the entire House GOP Caucus, then. Obamacare would never have made it out of the House without the Stupak language, and the only reason the Stupak language was included was because every Republican in the House voted for it. If the Stupak amendment was a sham, then blame John Boehner and every other Republican.

    Blame the Bishops, who pushed for the Stupak language. Hell, blame me, and Don, and several other folks, since we pushed for it, too. If it was such an obvious “sham” that everyone “knew” it was going to get scrubbed out in committee, then all of us who pushed for the Stupak language are guilty.

    It’s a little unfair to single out Cao in that regard.

  • It isn’t, however, unfair to blame Cao for voting for a bill that–even with the Stupak Amendment–provided massive funding for Planned Parenthood and for contraception.

  • If the GOP had a chance to kill Obamacare in the House and didn’t, then shame on them too. As far as the Bishops are concerned, we all know they are a bunch of big government leftists who routinely distort Church teeaching to tickle their iedological fancy. How many bishops even raised the question of whether or not the massive government control of healthcare violates the principle of subsidiarity, which is a bedrock of Catholic social teaching?

  • Ultimately the passage of the Stupak Amendment made no difference to the final passage of ObamaCare as the Democrats were able to arm twist enough votes without the Stupak amendment (with the help of Stupak). Unlike Stupak, however, Cao is a real opponent of abortion, and when ObamaCare finally passed it passed without his vote, in spite of the very high political cost he will probably pay as a result.

    The Republicans were wise in their strategy: by voting for Stupak they indicated that they put the fight against abortion first, even above the fight against ObamaCare, while most “pro-life” Democrats revealed that they really are not foes of abortion in any meaningful sense. The Republican party fortified its pro-life strength, while the Democrats did their best to repel pro-life voters.

  • If the GOP had voted against Stupak en bloc, then Bart would have had a free-pass to (a) demagogue the GOP on a core issue; (b) rely on Democratic Party assurances that the Hyde amendment covered/covers the entire bill anyway; and (c) accept an Executive Order solution back then. He always wanted the healthcare bill. And the pro-life movement would have sustained severe political damage.

    In any event, Cao voted the right way in the end. It was Stupak who caved (or was bought).

  • I really like this guy. He’s focused on the clean up of the oil on the coast while Senator Landrieu is only focused on getting operations going again, not to mention, he’s co-sponsoring legislation to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. This may make him popular to conservatives and may cause them to label him a RINO because of so-called political orthodoxy, but I really like Rep. Joseph Cao.

60-40: The Party of Jackson Creates A Jacksonian Moment

Monday, December 21, AD 2009

By a vote of 60-40 early this morning in the Senate, the Democrats, with not a Republican vote, voted to cede power to the Republicans in 2010.  The Democrats thought they were voting to invoke cloture on the ObamaCare bill, but the consequences of the passage of this bill, assuming that it passes the House, will likely be to transform a bad year for the Democrats next year into an epoch shaping defeat.  As Jay Cost brilliantly notes here at RealClearPolitics:

“Make no mistake. This bill is so unpopular because it has all the characteristics that most Americans find so noxious about Washington.

It stinks of politics. Why is there such a rush to pass this bill now? It’s because the President of the United States recognizes that it is hurting his numbers, and he wants it off the agenda. It might not be ready to be passed. In fact, it’s obviously not ready! Yet that doesn’t matter. The President wants this out of the way by his State of the Union Address. This is nakedly self-interested political calculation by the President – nothing more and nothing less.

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26 Responses to 60-40: The Party of Jackson Creates A Jacksonian Moment

  • Possibly.

    The president did campaign heavily on insurance reform. I can see his impatience to get something done. Continuing the delay would do little more than look like defeat. And since the GOP never had any alternatives, keeping the status quo would, in fact, also be painted as defeat.

    So we move ahead, as it were, and as you say, corporate America is well-positioned to benefit in some way from all this. Surely they weren’t going to stand to be put out of business with government insurance.

    As for the 2010 elections, they are still a long way off. If we had a solid third or fourth party option, I’d join you to say the Dems should be tweaked. But voting for do-nothing, sit-on-their-hands Republicans? Please. They’ve shelved themselves even in the pro-life side of this debate. It’s been Stupak and Nelson leading the charge. The GOP is standing pat with their hand as dealt. Let’s see how that plays out before handing the election to them eleven months ahead of the fact.

  • “They’ve shelved themselves even in the pro-life side of this debate. It’s been Stupak and Nelson leading the charge.”

    Todd, the Stupak Amendment only passed because every Republican in the House but one voted for it. The Democrats in the House as well as in the Senate are overwhelmingly pro-abortion as the forthcoming battle over the Stupak Amendment in the House will reveal.

    As for Republican alternatives, they have had several including this one.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124277551107536875.html

    What the Democrats are about to do is massively unpopular with the American people, as has been so much of what they have enacted this year. Rarely has a political party so quickly stepped off into a political abyss as the Democrats have been in the process of doing throughout this year.

  • And since the GOP never had any alternatives,

    I guess if you repeat a false assertion it eventually becomes truth.

  • “They’ve shelved themselves even in the pro-life side of this debate. It’s been Stupak and Nelson leading the charge. ”

    Uh What about Cao?

    That being said no one is going to pay attention to what GOP Prolifers say. We (as a party) are pretty much poiwerless right now. That is why the action is the Democrat party and it segments

  • Todd,

    Apparently you didn’t follow the House. There was a GOP Alternative that the CBO scored as cheaper and more efficient at reducing the deficit. The GOP Alternative included an actual exchange allowing for the purchase of health care policies across state lines (thus creating greater competition), enacted tough Medical Liability Reform (TORT) that would reduce inefficiencies in the practice of medicine caused by defensive medicine, and it would increase some of the privatization of Medicare seen in the popular Medicare Advantage Program (a program that now only will exist in 3 counties in Florida).

    The fact you declare there was no GOP alternative indicates in fact that you are just taking your talking points from the DNC.

  • The president did campaign heavily on insurance reform. I can see his impatience to get something done.

    Start that truck and drive it into the ditch. You’ll be getting something done!

  • Will Todd and all – Obama-worshipping imbeciles – also blame Bush for tens of thousands of small businesses that go bust because of this requirement and the excess taxes they will impose?

    “The Democrats’ government takeover of health care will increase premiums for families and small businesses, raise taxes during a recession, cut seniors’ Medicare benefits, add to our skyrocketing debt, and put bureaucrats in charge of decisions that should be made by patients and doctors. The bill also authorizes government-funded abortions, violating long-standing policies prohibiting federal funding of abortion. That’s not reform. My message to the American people is now is not the time to give up. Now is the time to fight harder. When the American people are engaged, Washington listens. Now is the time to speak out, more loudly and clearly than ever, against this monstrosity.”
    John Boehner (R-OH) 21 Dec 2009

  • In true Jacksonian fashion, the country fired the Republicans in 2006 and 2008 because they bungled the war in Iraq and allowed the economy to sink into recession. They might soon have another Jacksonian moment, and fire these equally useless Democrats for hampering the recovery, exploding the deficit, and playing politics with health care.

    The big difference is that Americans saw the death toll mounting in Iraq and the economy going down the toilet. Americans won’t see the effects of ObamaCare in 2010. In fact, a not-yet-implemented ObamaCare should be an electoral asset. “You get health care! You get health care! Everybody gets health care!” The GOP may see gains in 2010, but it won’t be because of ObamaCare.

  • With only 34% of the people saying that passing ObamaCare is better than doing nothing restrainedradical, I think this bill is an anchor which will take Democrat electoral prospects straight to the bottom next year.

    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/healthcare/december_2009/just_34_say_passing_health_care_bill_is_better_than_passing_nothing

  • “Will Todd and all – Obama-worshipping imbeciles …”

    With insightful analysis like this, I feel confirmed that conservative Catholics have as much of a sense of a pulse on the nation as they do when they feel a coconut. When you can’t distinguish between voting while holding nose or political worship (we sure had a lot of that with Bush II) we might as well turn to tea leaves than attend carefully to your analysis. Not everybody thinks like you guys do, comprende?

    The president invested a lot–and some might rightly say too much–in health insurance reform. One might even say he backed himself into a corner on this. By your account, Mr Obama was a loser any way he tried to put a face on this. Alternate proposals aside, he had no incentive whatsoever to caucus with the GOP on this. None.

    As for congressional elections next year, get serious. The House is ensconced in the land of incumbentia. And the Senate is reliving the 2004 election. I can’t see the GOP taking back the Senate, especially if the economy recovers in any way, and the Afghan surge remains a non-disaster.

    2012 is another story, but the GOP has yet top surface a viable national candidate.

    Interesting that you picked Jackson as your theme. Wasn’t that when the Whigs ascended to major party status? They had to wait till 2016–I mean 1840, right?

  • “The House is ensconced in the land of incumbentia. And the Senate is reliving the 2004 election.”

    Wrong on both counts Todd.

    The Democrats are defending quite a few vulnerable seats in the House which McCain carried last year, and many more which Bush carried in 2000 and 2004. Traditionally Republican districts will be swinging back to the GOP next year. Incumbency after the fiasco this year I doubt can be regarded as a positive in competitive districts. The Democrats are also beginning to be plagued by retirements from Congress, a sure sign of a party in trouble in the next election cycle.

    In the Senate I see the Republicans taking Senate seats in Arkansas, Connecticut, Colorado, Nevada, New York (Gillabrand’s seat), North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Delaware and either Washington or Wisconsin. I see them holding all their seats and Lieberman caucusing with the GOP in 2011. If Linda Lingle, popular Republican governor of Hawaii, gets into the Senate race she might topple 85 year old Inouye who has served in the Senate since I was 5 years old in 1962. It is hard to imagine Evan Bayh losing in Indiana, but if the political winds are gale force against the Democrats I think there is a small chance he might.

    The Whigs Todd first gained control of Congress in the election of 1834, the year after it was formed. The Whigs were formed as a reaction to the policies of Old Hickory.

  • I don’t know about the Senate, but it would be surprising to see the GOP pick up less than 20 seats in the House. That doesn’t net them a majority, but that’s a worst case scenario. It’s folly to make a firm prediction, but at the current course I think many of the Blue Dogs better start looking for alternative employment. As for the “incumbentia,” that’s funny in light of the recent spate of Democrat retirements. Perhaps they lack Mr. Flowerday’s acute political acumen, but I suspect that might have a better sense of where the country is heading.

    I don’t see a ten-seat pickup for the Senate. There are a couple of very shaky GOP-held seats at the moment, and even considering the possible voter backlash against the Dems, I wouldn’t bet the house on the Republicans holding on to them.

  • I see three Republican seats as offering the Dems possibilities for a switch: the open seats in Missouri and Ohio and Burr in North Carolina. I think 2010 is going to be a strong GOP year in Ohio. Ohio went strongly for the Dems in the last two election cycles and buyer’s remorse has set in. I’ll be shocked if the GOP doesn’t hold the seat. Burr is a weak incumbent, but I think the GOP will have a great election night next year throughout the South. Missouri will be a battle, as open seat elections in that state tend to be. I think the GOP will hold on, but I think that is their shakiest current seat.

  • Don’t know about the comment on politiucal acumen–aside from local politics, I try to stay as apolitical as possible. I wouldn’t say that eleven months with a volatile economy, and who-knows-what on the international front makes for an easy prediction of what is to come.

    The Dems still have eleven months to make a case to stay in power. If some third party in Iowa wants to make a case for my congressional seats, I’m willing to listen. I’m not inclined, like some other progressives, to stay home to make my point next Election Day. I’ll continue to hold my nose and pull the blue lever, but not because I think they’re generating the best ideas.

  • Must correct Mr. McClarey.

    The Republican Party in New York has suffered a secular decline in the calibre of the people they run for about thirty years now. It has left Upstate, conventionally a Republican preserve, represented in Congress almost entirely by Democrats. One exception is a fellow from Buffalo who is a man of genuine accomplishment in private life. (By what accounts have appeared in print, the Republican State Chairman, Stephen Minarik, was partial to him as a candidate because he could ‘self-finance’. The late Mr. Minarik always had his priorities).

    I will offer better than even odds the Republican sachems will arrange for the nomination of some seedy lush who has been making cruddy little deals in Albany for 25 years, because that is who they know and that is their idea of a normal person. Kristin Gillibrand will then eat him for breakfast.

  • I always hesitate to disagree with you Art, but I think that next year it will be anything but politics as usual. As the uprising in New York 23 indicates, there are plenty of Republican voters fed up with precisely the type of machinations you describe.

  • Evidently former Governor Pataki seems poised to make a run at Gillebrand. Yeah, good luck with that. Had Rudy run, he probably would have won that seat, but evidently the Senate was too low a prize for the guy who still seems to have some delusion that he will be president one day. Pataki might be viable, but that would be a race where I would weep few tears if the Republican lost.

    I can see the GOP holding onto the aforementioned seats if it’s a real good year, but it will be tough. They have to hold serve, then win pretty much every toss-up state currently held by the Dems. That’s a tall order, though that’s basically what the Democrats did in 2008.

  • If Pataki’s on the ballot, I’m writing-in the name of my insurance agent’s dog.

    Giuliani ought to retire from political life and attend to mending fences with his children. Putatively, he has told intimates that positions in legislative bodies look unattractive after you have sat in the mayor’s chair producing actual ‘output’. The thing is, as Mayor of New York, he has been among the most accomplished political figures of the post-war period. Most of the presidents we have had over the last sixty years are men of lesser significance. He is 65 years old now and should quit while he is ahead.

  • “If Pataki’s on the ballot, I’m writing-in the name of my insurance agent’s dog.”

    I am certain the dog would do less harm than either Pataki or the incumbent, and would probably have more charisma.

  • That is one cute canine!

  • Parker Griffith, Democrat Congressman from Alabama, is switching to the GOP. He is the first Blue Dog to do so this Congress; he will not be the last.

    http://hotair.com/archives/2009/12/22/breaking-blue-dog-flips-to-gop/

    Some Democrats can clearly see the electoral ice berg their party is careening towards.

    Merry Christmas Speaker Pelosi!

  • That’s fairly major news. These retirements/party switches are usually a good indicator of significant electoral upheaval – they certainly were in 1994, 2006, and 2008.

  • I don’t think Arlen Specter’s switch indicates an upheaval.

  • It indicated that Specter knew that Toomey would clobber him in the primary. Now Toomey will clobber him in the general.

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