After much prodding by other bloggers, I set this up for my own writings. The name is in honour of the two women that mentored me throughout my life on politics and intelligence issues, as well as being wonderful family members, now alas deceased. I hope to live up to their standards at this site.

Friday, September 30, 2005

This is a Very Bad Idea

I meant to get to this earlier in the week, but one thing or another kept coming up. What is the Canadian government thinking selling dual use nuclear technologies to India?!? You would think we had learned our lesson thirty years ago when India used our Candu reactor technology to refine the plutonium for their weapons program. This is especially frustrating given that India is not a member of the NNPT. This completely undercuts any credibility we have in nuclear prolifieration issues, and that to my mind is a very bad thing. Then there is the fact that post Cold War the most likely place for a nuclear conflict to break out is between India and Pakistan, so why are we willing to become involved on one side of this with this sale? This is quite possibly one of the most stupid ideas/plans I have seen come out of Ottawa in many a year, and when you consider the many idiotic things Ottawa has generated that is no mean feat. Lloyd Axworthy is absolutely right on this one.

I was born and raised in the Cold War in a known first strike target. Perhaps because of that I tend to take nuclear issues a bit more seriously than some, I don't know. What I do know is that the NNPT has managed to reduce the spread of nuclear weapons capability significantly since it was implimented, and that Canada has been one of the stronger voices advocating such restrictions. So for us to turn around and start selling a non signatory nation dual use nuclear technology runs counter to a major foreign policy direction this country has had for decades now. What really bothers me though is the lack of interest this decision appears to have generated either in the news media or the online community, and that really saddens/worries me. Nuclear weapons are still the only true weapon of mass destruction. They are the nightmare weapons we lived in the shadow of throughout the Cold War. That we survived that period with no nuclear exchange was remarkable. So why tempt fate by starting to spread such capability, especially to one of the two most likely countries to end up in a nuclear conflict?

How can we Canadians deplore the development of tactical nuclear weapons by the Bush Administration for deployment and turn around and sell dual use technology to a country like India? How can we be so offended by the Bush nuclear developments and so oblivious to the incredibly dangerous action our own government is taking on this matter with India without being complete hypocrites? Answer: We can't. This is my attempt to raise the profile of this issue, hopefully others will pick up on it and try to get this the attention it so rightly deserves. This is an issue which cannot be ignored without consequence, and those consequences are almost certainly negative ones. Nuclear proliferation increases the chances of fanatics getting their hands on such weapons also, and while a State can be kept in check by the threat of retaliation, non State actors cannot be so easily handled. Indeed, we know that there are non State actors eager to get their hands on nuclear weapons capability, and I rather doubt that is going to change anytime soon. This is a Really Bad Idea.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The cone of silence falls on Don Adams

One of my all time favourite shows growing up was Get Smart. Sadly, the comic genius that made it work so well for so many has passed on at the age of 82. Don Adams was a comic genius, a fact I was reminded of a while back with the show he did where he was the manager of a supermarket. I wish I could remember the name of it, but it escapes me at least for now. It was a Canadian series though, that I do remember and I think it came out in the late 80s or early 90s. He was also the voice of Inspector Gadget (animated series) in no small part because of his role as Maxwell Smart. Unfortunately, that role also typecast him much as Spock did for Lenard Nimoy, and I would say the world was lessened for it. The man was wickedly funny and the world is lessened by his passing.

Goodbye Agent 86, a grateful world thanks you for the saving us from KAOS with your own unique brand of chaos.

Monday, September 26, 2005

A civil Question Period..who would have thought it possible?

Well this was interesting, something I thought had been forgotten by our Parliamentarians after last spring occurred today. I saw a Question Period in the House of Commons where civility ruled and not just the questions but the answers were allowed to be heard without a raucus roar from the backbenches. I wonder how long it is going to last though. Still, seeing as it is something I value, I thought I should make note that it happened today. It really gets on my nerves to watch QP on CPAC and not be able to hear responses to the questions being asked, and the screaming fest of the spring was really annoying. I wonder though how long it will last. My guess is within a few weeks we will start seeing the same degeneration into a bunch of unruly children instead of adult MPs, though this is one prediction I would gladly be wrong about. Time will tell.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Bush: The twice unelected President

This is going to be a short entry, I'd rather let the Harper's article speak for itself on this matter. I will add though that it is not the entirety of evidence that there was a massive electoral fraud in the 2004 Presidential election in the USA. I have seen and read much on this subject, and what I have found truly appalls me. Just so it is understood, I have actually counted votes and monitored elections a few times in my life, so I have some idea of the importance of electoral integrity from the position of someone charged with the responsibility of maintaining it. What happened in Ohio and indeed throughout America wherever there was a Diebold machine, indeed any electronic voting system without a fully auditable via paper trail system is a betrayal of all the fundamentals of democracy.

I have believed since the evening of Nov 2 2004 that Bush did not win legitimate reelection. This is not because I dislike him so, it is because of all the massive electoral questionmarks, incuding the reality that about 25% of the total votes cast were completely unverifiable and on electronic systems known to be easily hacked. The lack of transparancy and the unwillingness to allow international observers also was a problem. Then there was the exit polls being so wrong only in America and only regarding President GWB's two elections. When the exit polls are correct down the ballot except from the Presidential vote that alone should raise alarm bells. Though the really hard thing to stomach was after hearing about how the exit polls can be spoofed according to the Bush/Cheney/GOP supporters that a few weeks later these same voices were calling the Ukrainian Presidential elections fraudulent because the Exit Polls had not matched the results.

America and Americans no longer have a democracy. Their votes no longer are counted. The system set up to protect the right of each citizen to have his/her vote counted has been suborned and corrupted beyond recognition. America also no longer has a free press willing to ask tough questions nor to do investigative journalism into these matters preferring instead to ignore all the incredible amount of evidence that something majorly fraudulent occurred in the 2004 Presidential elections. Instead of doing any actual on the ground investigation the American media in an indecent rush completely poo poohed any possiblity that there was tampering. Now why would any honest journalist and journalist organization do so without first verifying the information and the facts on the ground, especially on such an important issue to the health of the American way of life? This is especially true when one considers what happened in the 2000 Presidential elections.

Read the Harpers article and then download the Conyer's report on Ohio, and then see if you can believe just how blatantly the GOP and Bush/Cheney stole a second election secure in the knowledge that they would not be held accountable for it. How else to explain the degree of carelessness in the evidence left behind of tampering and even foreshadowing this result? The GOP is not a political party interested in playing by the rules of American democracy, it wants guaranteed victories, and it is not fussy about how it gets them. This is a real problem even for us Canadians, given that too many in our own conservative movement emulate the tactics and strategies that the GOP has made work for them from the politics of victimization to the myth about the liberal media conspiracy out to destroy all conservatives and the CPC.

Be warned, and be concerned for us all...

Friday, September 16, 2005

Rove running reconstruction? Prepare for disaster number 3 from Katrina

I found this out yesterday, but I did not blog it then because I was quite frankly too stunned by this news. Karl Rove has been tapped by the Bush White House to run the reconstruction efforts post Katrina. Think about what this implies for a minute, just think about it.

First off, leaving aside anything to do with the other controversies surrounding Karl Rove and his previous actions as political chief for George W Bush, what job experiences does he have that even remotely qualify him for this job? I mean really, didn't this Administration learn ANYTHING from putting Brown in charge of FEMA? One of the main reasons FEMA failed so spectacularly was because the person in charge of running it had absolutely no experience in disaster management issues whatsoever, and it showed in the staffing choices made followed upon what the man that brought him in Joe Albaugh had done at FEMA prior. Karl Rove's history is that of a political operative, a ruthless and successful one to be sure, but that has absolutely NOTHING to do with the skills/experiences/background for directly a large scale reconstruction of the infrastructure of a large city and the main part of two States and some of a third. We are talking about infrastructure of every type needing rebuilding. We are talking about residences needing the same. In the case of NO we are talking about making a city significantly more resistant to hurricanes and flooding damages. Not to mention the long term cleanup of the toxic materials so that the grounds to be rebuilt upon are not toxic to those that will work/live there.

That all on its own should be enough to disqualify him from holding this position, but in Rove's case there is far more to disqualify him in anything resembling an honest (or for that matter more traditional somewhat sleazy but somewhat responsible government which most democracies including America have known over the decades) government. This man has been confirmed as having discussed/confirmed classified information as revealed a few months back via Time's Matt Cooper, and then there is the overhanging sword of Damocles known as the Fitzgerald grand jury into the outing of Valerie Plame and Brewster & associates. Given that this is barring an extension wrap up in October, this is incredibly irresponsible. Say he actually does start getting things set up for him to manage the reconstruction, what happens if he is one of those indicted by the grand jury if it does bring down indictments? It is not as if it is considered an unlikely possibility given all that is known about the focus of this grand jury. The disruption would set reconstruction efforts badly needed to be up and running ASAP by an unknown amount of time.

However, in many ways what makes this particularly galling/offensive is that it shows that for this Administration is seeing the reconstruction of the post Katrina ravaged Gulf Coast sees this is at heart a political operation, and not policy. That the contracts and the methods used to rebuild will first and foremost conform to political requirements instead of what works best, has a proven track record whether it fits ideology or not, and will be directed to political loyalists first before any other criteria. We have seen how well that worked in Iraq during the first couple of years there, both the test bedding of conservative theories using people unqualified for such work from conservative think tanks and the amount of corruption and unaccounted for billions/tens of billions of American tax dollars during that process is mind-boggling. This has the potential to be worse in terms of costs, and this is something that America and Americans will HAVE to live with since it is happening there and not overseas. It will be the same people managing both, and with the same overall goals, the advancement of a permanent GOP majority government.

Now, while it would be foolishness to say there is no political component/element in something like this, it has no business being the primary component. This shows in so many ways a fundamental lack of understanding of the reality on the ground in the Gulf Coast, and it also shows a fundamental lack of empathy/sympathy for the Americans most affected by this disaster. By seeing it first and foremost in terms of political gains and potentials a disaster that needs to be apolitical/bipartisan to be properly managed and recovered from is doomed to be anything but. How can that be seen as doing right by those Americans now displaced and whose lives were devastated by Katrina, as well as their homes and long term investments in them? No, this only indicates further just how detached from every day reality this Administration is, and where its priorities truly lie.

Karl Rove may be a political reconstructionalist of some ability, but to confuse that with the kind of reconstruction skills needed here demonstrates incompetence, arrogance, and worst of all, indifference to the welfare of America and Americans. The only bright side to this is that Karl Rove and his methods of operation work best through cutouts. With this he becomes a significant public figure responsible for the direction of tens of billions of tax dollars as a part of his direct responsibilities. It will be far harder for him to run away from any of his actions in this position, and may well be what brings him down if the Fitzgerald grand jury does not.

Update (Sept 17 05):

This comment at TMPCAFE describes exactly what I am referring to regarding this being a political operation over true reconstruction with the choice of Karl Rove to head it at the WH. This is also something Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly's Political Animal has also speculated about.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

President Bush: What, I erred? Never!

Since my initial two Katrina posts I have not posted anything, and that was because until I felt I had had a chance to assimilate all the information surrounding Katrina's aftermath, both on the ground and politically, I did not want to blog anything more about it here. There was more than sufficient excellent blogging being done by many others in both America and Canada, though I was paying more attention to American sources this time because of the nature of the event being studied. I will admit to doing some commenting here and there, mainly at Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog, but that was mainly responding to what was posted and the reactions it was getting from the various conservative commentators there, as well as venting some of my own anger at the utter incompetence in the federal reaction for the first 72-96 hours of the disaster Katrina left in her wake. However, it has been far from my only source for reading, that would literally be a couple of hundred different sources and several dozen blogs on the left and right to see the various reactions and resources being provided by the bloggers and commentators to this disaster.

Out of all this an overall perception/realization of what I feel may be the most significant underlying aspect of the Bush Administration reactions to this from the outset to this day and likely well beyond occurs to me. Where is the acceptance of even the inevitable human error(s) that had to of occurred simply by virtue of the fact that we are all human beings, flawed and imperfect, and no matter how hard any of us try we all make mistakes even in serious matters like this one is? According to the tenets of Christianity true for every significant sect is that we are flawed, that we make mistakes, and that we fall down. That we need to face/confess these inevitable errors/failings, learn from them, ask forgiveness from those wronged/harmed and God, and work to preventing any such failing from happening again. In the secular world this is I believe known as the concept of perfectibility, or quality control management for the business types. That it is important to have in place systems and structures to compensate for inevitable failings and mistakes, identify those mistakes as soon as possible from their occurrence, and work to create means of reducing/preventing those mistakes from repeating themselves down the line. So no matter what perspective on looks it at from, it is fundamentally inherent to how we interact with our world that human beings make mistakes regardless of political and/or religious persuasion. Human beings make mistakes no matter who they are no matter how powerful they are no matter what their religious/political affiliations are. Yet we have not even seen this much acceptance from the Bush Administration for any of what went wrong in during that first 72-96 hours.

What that says about the mindset of the people that run the Bush Administration from the President on down is truly frightening. However, this disaster has also laid bare this frightening reality in a way for the average American that hasn't happened before, both at the conscious and subconscious/gut levels. There is also the fact that the notion of the perfect leader that is never wrong, never makes mistakes, and is the only choice to lead a nation smacks of imperialism/dictatorship/tyranny for most Americans, and now they are seeing it from their own President towards fellow American citizens caught in a major disaster. Now, while the vast majority on the left have felt this way for some time now about Bush and his Administration, the middle/independents have only more recently started to see him this way, and that I would trace back to the Schiavo affair as the beginnings of that loss, though an argument could be made for once the Iraqi WMD's were never found and Abu Ghraib. For Republicans though his support has stayed in the 90+% range post 9/11/01, though with Katrina that appears to be finally starting to slide.

I suspect what may be fueling that drop is the lack of acceptance of any accountability for mistakes made by the feds and Bush, be they out of sincere attempts to do their job or from rank incompetence/corruption, despite there clearly having been so many mistakes made in the initial 72-96 hours shown live and continuously on the cable news nets and on the network news outlets as well. This strikes me then as a means by which to help more Americans to see that which has infuriated so many of the left/liberals in America as well as the rest of the world is not just the ideology and beliefs of this Administration and GOP, but the understanding of reality and the ability to competently execute said political aims. Not to mention managing a crisis scenario like Katrina presented with anything remotely resembling competence. It is bad enough to be governed by someone you disagree with politically, it is truly horrific/nightmarish when that person is as grossly incompetent in his execution of policy and crisis management as GWB has been. It is the incompetence that has truly infuriated so many, both within and without America, and finally this is being understood on the right in America a bit more thanks to one Bush comment above all the others on Friday Sept 2 2005. "Brownie. you're doing a heck of a job." Praising the head of FEMA for a heck of a job while the TV is still showing scenes of utter horror in NO to every American watching and had been from the beginning. Remember, Sept 2 2005 was the day the desperation in NO was at its peak as seen on CNN and the other news nets.

The inability of the Bush Administration and especially George W Bush himself to acknowledge errors/mistakes made no matter what they are and how visible they are is one of if not the most dangerous aspects of this man and Presidency to me. It lays the foundations for so many of his other mistakes as well as allowing them to become greater in magnitude than they needed to be as well as making them easier to develop in the first place. If you cannot acknowledge that you have even made any mistake(s) let alone the specifics of that mistake(s) you cannot correct the mistake(s). At the most you can paper over the existence of the mistake(s), at least for a time, until something happens to expose that mistake beyond ability to hide. However, until that happens things only slowly and steadily get worse and worse. It undercuts/eats away from the inside any structure/procedure/protocol/policy from being competently executed because as professionals in any field can tell you, the need to understand, accept, and allow for the need to identify inevitable human error/mistakes is critical to the correction and reduction/elimination of that mistake ever being repeated again.

This used to be true even in American politics prior to this Administration taking office, even if such was rarely as public as it properly should have been. At least such acknowledgement could be seen in actions taken ostensibly for other reasons demonstrating the awareness of the mistake(s) and doing something to correct them, hopefully while it can still be some help to whatever issue/problem the mistake(s) were made in relation with. I have never seen an American Presidency though like this one in it's complete inability to even acknowledge let alone accept being responsible for any mistakes made anywhere, let alone mistakes serious enough to require the relieving/firing of someone from a post/position anywhere close to the mistake(s) that were made necessitating such action. Indeed, this resignation of Brown from FEMA is the first example I can think of where a resignation was reasonably contemporaneous to the mistake(s) made, and soon enough that it may have an impact on the ongoing management of this disaster. This is in sharp contrast to say George Tent's resignation from the CIA after both the 9/11/01 and Iraq WMD scandals, although to be fair to him he was trying to get Bush's attention on terrorism, especially during the summer of 2001.

So in this we may finally be seeing the shattering of the popular myth/perception of GWB as a leader, strong in a crisis, and for that matter even as "just folks". This man and this Presidency scares me in ways no other President has ever since I was aware of Presidents and what they did at the tail end of Nixon's days. This fear is and never has been based primarily on political beliefs and such, but my sense of self preservation and the stability of the global society we all live in. I see this man as truly being one of if not the most dangerous person on Earth because of the power his office affords him and his utter incompetence for that office. I have never thought that about other Presidents of either parties, though I will say I did a bit during Reagan's last couple of years, he seemed rather out of touch and I wondered about his health. Prior to that though while I disagreed with him on many things I also knew he was competent to hold the job based on his lengthy history in politics of one form or another, both as governor and as SAG head. I also knew that his political beliefs were shaped by hard examination and consideration, thanks to all the columns and essays he had written prior to becoming President.

Bush though came to power in a judicial coup d'etat in 2000, and was reelected in a at best questionable 2004 election. I say that because one in four votes was unverifiable, there was a serious lack of transparency and resistance to outside observers monitoring the election integrity, and particularly the significant exit poll variation from the reported vote as well as the amazing statistical anomaly of that nearly all the errors discovered had favoured Bush. That last point indicates to me that this was not random/accidental but had intelligence behind it. I think the odds of such discrepancies almost always favouring the same candidate were something like 250 million to one from one of the detailed studies I had read about this. As for 2000, when the conservative justices, especially those that had been strong State rights supporters throughout their judicial history, reverse their beliefs to reverse a State Supreme Court to favour their politically preferable complainant, and then say this ruling is a one time only deal and that it cannot be used for precedent down the road, it is hard to see such as anything other than a judicial coup d'etat. Perhaps finally his incompetence and unsuitability to hold the Presidency have been made clear to enough of his prior supporters to limit any further harm he does to America and to the rest of the planet, and done so in a way that claiming it is all because the big bad "liberal media elites" are "lying" about Bush and the GOP will not work with any but the already blind faith followers that will stay with him because he is of the right political affiliation, and that is all that matter to them.

Whatever else these past two weeks have shown, they have shown that Bush and company cannot even accept accountability for mistakes made even when they were made for all of America to see as they were happening and the suffering and dying of American citizens because of it. Whatever the failings/mistakes of the local and State officials were, at least I have heard acknowledgement that they probably did make mistakes, even if they are not willing to be specific about what they were. From Bush and company I have heard no such thing at all, instead all I see are stories confirming the bubble GWB lives in and how it prevented him from knowing anything about the disaster Katrina left and what was happening in New Orleans during those critical first 72-96 hours. What is worse for Bush, the mayor and Governor of Louisiana were on the job throughout this disaster, while he stayed on vacation for another couple of days from when Katrina made landfall. Yet it was the federal government that were the ones that were most needed to help/respond in the first 72-96 hours to a disaster of this magnitude, and from all accounts contemporaneously there was no clear chain of command in operation and that orders were not given from the top of the chain of command to activate and deploy resources ready, waiting, and eager to be used to aid their fellow Americans, from the military to police, firefighters to medical workers and drugs, food, and especially clean water (see here and here). Yet it appears that the operation (see last several paragraphs in story) to salvage Bush's image and poll numbers and redefine what happened to make Bush look better is well underway and of more concern to the Administration than preparing to cope with a cat 5 hurricane hitting NO was, whoch also speaks volumes as to the real priorities in this WH. If Bush and company cannot show that they realize serious mistakes were made for which they hold accountability by virtue of their offices and demonstrate real accountability, I think they will suffer greatly from it.

This time, unlike previous times, this happened to Americans, on American soil, was predicted well before it happened, and unfolded uncensored and unfiltered for many days before the Bush Administration even began paying attention to the media damage being done to them, let alone the damage done to those in the affected region itself. No, this time I think the inability to act like a human being/man in this case will haunt him, and will not just hurt the remainder of his Presidency but very possibly the GOP itself for years beyond this second term. This could well be for the GOP GWB's legacy what the Mulroney legacy was for the Progressive Conservative party in the 1993 elections, albeit with a few more elected representatives being left in power than was the case there. However Mulroney poisoned conservativism in Canada at the federal level for over a decade, and even now the effects of his tenure are felt in the political dynamics of Canadian politics. He really brought down the PCPC, and Bush is positioned to bring down the GOP with the way he has handled the Katrina aftermath. Iraq was bad enough, but Americans do not really see the reality there, whereas in NO and the Gulf Coast they have seen realities they never believed could be seen in America, and it did not sit well with Americans at all.

This event will have political repercussions like few things any of us have seen in our lifetimes. I suspect it may well end up defining political realities and philosophies for at least a generation from the tired stale debates between the left and right in America that have been ongoing for so long. Not to mention also confirming the dangers of having those that claim government is the enemy running the government which many from the left in America have been saying for years. It also makes the idea of "starving the beast" look a bit less like a good idea, and that also will hurt the GOP, especially if it is picked up and driven home by the left/Dems in America along with the other openings Bush and the GOP have left the Dems as noted here at PA. We shall see.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Only free lumber duty free? Fine. Donate the 5 Billion to relief

I saw this post at Canadian Cynic regarding the American lumber lobby saying the duty should be lifted for free lumber for reconstruction in Louisiana and Mississippi. Obviously I was not impressed. Now that is a classic example of the arrogance and self-centeredness of that lobby, especially using this disaster to advance their own agenda. So how about we (Canada) respond by saying we will relinquish all claims to the 5 billion in collected lumber tariffs if that money is donated to the relief efforts for Katrina. This way if it is accepted that money does not go to the lumber companies competing with Canadian producers, and if it is rejected it can be used to show the arrogance and callousness indifference to the suffering of their fellow Americans in time of great need. After all, who really needs this money more now, profitable lumber companies or the destitute and ravaged Americans in Louisiana, particularly New Orleans? It would also have the additional benefit of making Canada look better in American eyes, and might also help get this long standing lumber dispute into the American consciousness and perhaps finally after a quarter century get it dealt with fairly and finally. If nothing else it might be a way to turn the tables on the American lumber lobby and put them behind an eight ball for a change. I think this has nothing but upsides for Canada if we take this tack with this idiotic suggestion by the American lumber lobby.

Just a thought.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Katrina and the aftermath: Where's the expertise?

I haven't been doing much posting this past week, first due to several days away from the net, and the last few days following the incredible disaster that is Katrina. However, I cannot continue to watch this horror and not make some comment. I did not want to immediately criticize the response efforts to this disaster, in part because I wanted to verify how much of this is due to honestly being overwhelmed by the magnitude of this disaster and how much of it was due to poor preparations and indeed reduction of resources and lack of proper funding for a very predictable (and predicted by many at that) major disaster. Unlike some, I have lived through hurricanes, including Juan in 2003, and I well remember the damage that storm did, and it was nowhere near the intensity of Katrina. I remember the eyewall coming through where I live. I remember the massive damage done to the forests and the amount of damage done to the infrastructure of my home city and surrounding area. However, I also remember the calm cool and collected response from emergency providers and the tremendous efforts made immediately after it passed to bring information and assistance to those that needed it. Now I am not trying to say that the same degree of response should have happened in New Orleans, if nothing else the difference in the power and devastation of the two hurricanes would make that an unfair comparison. I simply am trying to show that I have some idea of what dealing with the aftermath of a destructive huricane can be like, and that what I am seeing regarding Katrina doesn't feel like it is being well managed nor was well prepared for.

However, the responses I have seen regarding Katrina have horrified me in their lack of coordination, focus, and communication to those most affected by this devastation. This was a foreseeable event, and there should have been better prepositioning of resources initiated within the prior 36 hrs of Katrina making landfall. I find it incredible that I and many others could know from CNN and indeed the bloody Canadian weather channel that this was going to be a truly devastating storm wherever it hit, and that New Orleans was particularly vulnerable given its circumstances and probability of being directly hit by the center of the storm. Why not deploy ships from Atlantic bases starting Saturday night to Sunday morning so that if the worst occurred there would be a minimum lag time to their availability on site? At worst they would not be needed and the costs to deploy be absorbed and justified as proper preparation for the potentials of a major disaster which everyone was predicting during that previous 24-36 hrs to Katrina making landfall. I was wondering that on Sunday as I watched this storm head towards New Orleans. Then on Monday evening to Tuesday when the storm itself had passed over it was clear that the storm surge was starting to overwhelm the levees there was a plan to try and reinforce them with helicopter lifted 3000lbs sandbags and concrete dividers. Seems like the smart thing to do, and could have if successful made a major difference in the scale of the disaster in New Orleans where the flooding was concerned. Yet what happens? These helicopters are diverted to rescue operations instead. I have to wonder though how many more people were placed in harms way by this diversion, though I doubt we will ever know now. Oh yes, I do realize that we cannot know if the sandbags and such would have made a difference, but it *was* a sensible response and about the only option other than simply letting the levees breaches grow worse and worse increasing the severity and reach of the flooding in New Orleans.

What really troubles me though is the apparent lack of expertise within the organizations like FEMA for knowing what to do in the wake of such a disaster. From what I have read both in the past several days as well as watching the Bush Administration since it came to power was that there was replacement of experts in disaster management with political hacks as a reward for political support of the current Administration. That there had been major cuts in the financing for the levees and other preparations for the event of a major hurricane hitting New Orleans. Indeed, in 2001 there was a report that said the three most dangerous scenarios facing America was a terrorist attack on NYC, a major hurricane hitting New Orleans, and an earthquake hitting California. Well, in 56 months America under GWB has now had two of three.

I am also seeing a great deal of anger not just from the affected region but from throughout America, including from some normally hard core supporters of Bush. The initial reaction at National Review Online this week has been quite sharply critical as noted here by Tbogg of the initial Bush speech, and the editorials from the papers in America has been harshly critical, even conservative papers like this one. This anger is not just being felt by the left in America but many on the right as well, and I suspect there is going to be some very long term political repercussions to how poorly this situation has been handled from the outset. As for the anger of those trapped within the disaster zone, I suspect that also is going to be something with major long term negative repercussions. It is amazing though to see the near unanimity regarding the poor performance of President Bush and the GOP run federal government to this disaster, and I find it difficult to believe it is going to dissipate anytime soon. Indeed, my expectation is that it will increase not decrease.

I don't think I want to write too much more at this time on this, it is simply too upsetting. Though I will add one last depressing thought. That being the potential for major disease and plague from the waste contaminated water and the decomposition of the dead. If things are left as they are for too much longer I will not be surprised to see people becoming sick and dying from age old diseases like dysentery created whenever there is massive death/devastation causing major biohazards. This has been a very depressing situation, and I doubt it will not be getting much better anytime soon given the chaotic response to date on rescue and relief operations. This has *NOT* had the appearance of being handled by competent government officials and organizations, and in the days and weeks ahead I suspect there is going to be much critical examination of how the various governments have responded to this, particularly the federal government given it has the most resources for these kinds of operations. Not to mention that the levees were built and maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers.

I do ask that those able to contribute aid and help do so in whatever manner they can. I also ask those that are inclined towards such to pray for those caught in this horrific disaster, I know I have.