Friday, September 30, 2005

Countercolumn News Ticker 
Confirmation secured, Chief Justice Roberts Tries to Look Adorable...

Disaster Watch: Is Seattle Next?
Active Volcano Mt. Ranier could devastate SEATAC area...
Hirsute women particularly at risk...
Bearded granola munchers flocking to sperm banks...
Music critics hoping for retribution for years of crap masquerading as "alternative."

Disaster area truck driver does, indeed, own the whole damn road...

Michael Brown's coworkers tire of listening to him conduct job search on the phone...


If you choose not to decide/ You still have made a choice 
Those are the words from some old Rush tune.

I never much cared for Rush. But they were dead on about Hurricane preparedness, as this excellent column from Reason Magazine demonstrates:

The question, then, is not whether the failure to improve New Orleans's flood protection was a mistake in hindsight—obviously, it was—but whether it was a reasonable choice in foresight, based on the probable odds and costs as they appeared at the time.

Weighing low-probability, high-cost events is, as it happens, something economists and engineers know a bit about. W. Kip Viscusi, an economist at Harvard Law School and the editor of the Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, points out that the Corps of Engineers was among the first to develop and apply what has become a common cost-benefit template.

Using the more cautious of Strock's figures, assume the odds are that a storm surge would overtop or breach the existing New Orleans levees once every 200 years. This seems, if anything, optimistic, given that Category 4 storms hit the city in 1915 and 1947; that a Category 5 storm (Camille) narrowly missed in 1969; and that the devastating Katrina itself was not a direct hit. Still, assume it. Assume also that officials could reasonably expect the city's inundation, abandonment, and partial destruction to cost, ballpark, $200 billion in direct and indirect economic losses.

In any given year, then, figure that the expected economic cost of the swamping of New Orleans is $1 billion (divide the $200 billion cost over 200 years). A $2 billion levee project could be expected to pay for itself, probabilistically speaking, in two years; a $14 billion Delta restoration project, in 14 years.

But wait. New Orleans's 200-year flood might take place a century from now instead of right away (remember, this analysis is from a pre-Katrina standpoint), and money lost in the future matters less to us than money lost today. At an interest rate of 3 percent, Viscusi says, the present value of averting $1 billion in expected annual damage forever is $33 billion; at 5 percent, $20 billion; at 10 percent, $10 billion. Any of those numbers is higher than the estimated cost of hurricane-proofing the levees, and all but the smallest are higher than restoring the Delta.

Exactly. Even ignoring the tremendous nontangibal human costs of inadequate preparation (which the article goes on to note), this is exactly the sort of cost-benefit and risk analysis that public policy officials should have been doing years ago - and should continue to do with every other city and state (it's a local responsibility - not a Federal one. Local officials are inevitably more familiar with their own locale's risk budget and risk tolerance than any bureaucrat could possibly be in Washington.

Indeed, this is exactly the kind of risk discounting that insurance companies and reinsurance companies do every day, all the time. And the math is compelling: This was a no-brainer public investment, which went unmade for years because of a deadly combination of corruption, myopia, and inertia.

Meanwhile, someday, Florida will catch another Cat 5 storm. As will Louisiana and Mississippi. California will experience another major earthquake. Hawaii will, sooner or later, experience another tsunami, like the one that devastated Hilo in the 1940s. (One look at Hawaii's coasts would confirm that the devastation now would dwarf anything possible in the 1940s.)

The U.S. should not go crazy looking in the rear view mirror rebuilding New Orleans with Federal dollars. That's what the capital markets are for. We have several layers of insurance and reinsurance protection which exists for precisely that eventuality. And thanks to reinsurance companies like Swiss Re and General Re, and other global risk distribution companies, these risks are distributed on a GLOBAL scale, not a national one.

If the U.S. bails the city of New Orleans out, we would simply be transferring the absorbtion of risk from the widest risk pool possible (the global capital markets) to a comparatively narrow one (the American taxpayer).

The U.S. would also be setting a dangerous precedent: The removal of moral hazard. Once that precedent is set, all local governments, and the entire U.S. business community now have an incentive NOT to seek adequate insurance coverage.

The result will be a major distortion in risk markets. Either way, the premium will be paid. It can be made in advance by those who profit from the risk, and have the freedom to assess their own risk tolerance, and spread across the global capital markets, or it can be made in arrears by the American taxpayer who does not.

The best investment of federal dollars is not in bailing out those New Orleans residents and business owners who screwed everyone around them by not obtaining adequate insurance coverage (hoping for a sweet FEMA bailout if the worst should happen). That would simply be a massive gift from the taxpayers of the United States to the insurance industry at large, which supposedly exists for the very purpose of covering cities for the risk of disasters like Katrina.

Rather, the available federal money should be invested in real capital improvements to federal assets, such as highways and buildings, pipelines, levees, and other major interstate public works programs, to prepare them for the next disaster or terror strike. In the end, such preparations will enable insurance premiums to lower for everyone. Globally.

And that's a gift worth giving.

Splash, out


Obnoxious slanted headline of the day: 
From CNN:
You can feel the anti-Americanism oozing from the very pores of the language in this AP piece:

U.S. Insists on Controlling Web.

GENEVA, Switzerland (AP) -- The United States refuses to relinquish its role as the Internet's principal traffic policeman, rejecting calls in a United Nations meeting for a U.N. body to take over, a top U.S. official said.

But while the United States stuck to its position, other negotiators said there was a growing sense that a compromise had to be reached and that no single country ought to be the ultimate authority over such a vital part of the global economy.

Link: http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/internet/09/30/internet.control.ap/index.html

In other news, the U.S. won't share her toys, always takes the biggest slice of chocolate cake, and won't stay on her side of the couch. "Make her stop teasing us!" says corps of 8-year-old delegates.

Splash, out


Governor Jeb Bush on Federalizing Disaster Response 
"As the governor of a state that has been hit by seven hurricanes and two tropical storms in the past 13 months, I can say with certainty that federalizing emergency response to catastrophic events would be a disaster as bad as Hurricane Katrina."

Yes. And the argument doesn't hinge upon "I know my brother!"

Read the whole thing here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/29/AR2005092901636.html

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Heh. Apparently, I'm a "centrist." 
You are a

Social Liberal
(63% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(61% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Gail Collins Must Go 
New York Times public editor Byron Calame is hammering the New York Times' useless editorial page once again.

As questions about compliance with the corrections policy for The Times’ Op-Ed columnists continue to arise, Gail Collins, editor of the editorial page, told me in an e-mail Tuesday that she will “address the issue in a forthcoming letter from the editor” in the paper.

Ms. Collins’ comment came in response to my Monday query about the handling of an error by columnist Frank Rich. That mistake has turned out to be the latest of five appearances that versions of the same “college roommates” error have made in The Times this month. While minor in normal times, the mistake has been made a total of four times by three Op-Ed columnists attacking cronyism—and once in a news article. In all five instances, Joe Allbaugh, President Bush’s 2000-campaign manager and a former head of FEMA, and Michael Brown, his successor at FEMA, were described variously as college roommates, college buddies or college friends.

In fact, the two men didn’t even attend the same college. While they have been friends for 25 years, a spokeswoman for Mr. Allbaugh said they didn’t know each other during their years at different Oklahoma colleges.

With partisan charges of cronyism hanging over the Bush administration’s handling of hurricanes, of course, it’s not surprising that the college roommates description seems to have become more sensitive. The Los Angeles Times is one major newspaper that has already corrected an Op-Ed writer’s use of the erroneous “college buddy” description.

It's pretty sad they chose to go hide behind a subscription wall so they can continue to preach unmolested to the choir rather than hold themselves accountable.

Both Calame and his predecessor hammered and hammered at the same New York Times editorial page for the exact same reason, which boils down to this: The Times editorial page is not committed to accuracy. Gail Collins is a weak leader.

If it were just one columnist that were the problem, it would be simple enough to replace that columnist. But the fact is that it's multiple columnists making multiple errors, or making the same error several times (an inflammatory allegation that goes un-fact-checked.) Maureen Dowd has already been caught multiple times using ellipses to deliberately misquote and misrepresent public figures - which should be a fireable offense in and of itself. At least, it would be if there were a shred of intellectual honesty left at that shell of an op-ed desk.

But when was the last time a Times editorialist was fired or suspended?

It's not enough to can Krugman. Krugman might actually be a good columnist if someone kept a boot planted firmly on his neck. Gail Collins should go. It's Gail Collins who has dug in her heels at - or ignored outright - every public attempt to hold the Times accountable for factual inaccuracies. It's Gail Collins who had to be browbeaten into forcing columnists to run prominent corrections when they're caught in outright falsehoods. It's Gail Collins who's forcing the Times' public editor to do her own job for her. It's Gail Collins who has presided over the descent of the Time long vaunted editorial page to an adolescent muckrake whose columnists can't craft an expository essay sufficient to pass muster with a sharp-eyed freshman composition teacher.

Gail Collins should go. And be replaced with someone dedicated to restoring the credibility of the biggest newspaper of the greatest city in the world.

Splash, out


More on the Brown = Fredo theme 
Courtesy of The Fifth Dentist:

THE PRESIDENT: You're nothing to me now, Brownie. Not a FEMA director, not a friend, I don't want to know you, or what happens to you. I don't want to see you in New Orleans, or near the White House. When you visit Joe Albaugh, I want to know a day in advance, so I won't be there. Do you understand?

Read the whole thing at http://fifthdentist.blogspot.com/2005/09/fredo-makes-mistake.html

Splash, out


Wow...this is pretty cool... 
Starting in 2006, the Energy Tax Incentives Act of 2005 provides for some pretty nifty incentives for fuel efficient vehicles:

You can get a fuel economy tax CREDIT (not a deduction - a credit) of up to $2,400 for a car that gets 2.5 times the milage the comparable model got in 2002, or up to $400 dollars for a car or light truck that gets 25 to 50 percent greater milage than the 2002 model.

You can also get a conservation credit of up to $1000 dollars, based on estimated fuel savings over the life of the vehicle.

FUEL CELL Vehicles: The credit can be as high as $12,000 for a fuel cell car or light truck, depending on the vehicle's weight class and fuel economy compared to 2002 models. The base credit ranges from $8,000 for cars to $40,000 for trucks over 26,000 pounds.

The new alternative fuel vehicle credit can be as high as $4,000 for cars and light trucks, based on a percentage of the incremental cost of the vehicle.

Don't jump too soon, though. The new credits don't take effect until 2006.

As a fan of sales tactics, though, I'm curious about how these vehicles, though. I'm going to visit a dealership soon and find out.

Splash, out


Why commercial financial writing drives me up the wall 
Because when I write a sentence that says "If interest rates continue to rise, bond prices will fall," the lawyers in "compliance" want me to change it to "If interest rates continue to rise, bond prices will probably fall eventually."

I mean, take a freakin' high school economics class, will ya, people?

Rising interest rates and falling bond prices are the EXACT SAME THING!!!!!


I'd never bother reading a financial article that hedged itself into incompetence. The publication would immediately cease to have credibility with me.

Have you checked your voicemail today? 
Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division were approached by an Iraqi citizen yesterday who told them that a suspicious car was parked in his neighborhood. The soldiers searched four men near the car identified by the citizen and found bomb-making materials.

While the U.S. troops questioned the car owners, they stopped and searched a fifth man who was acting suspiciously. The man's cell-phone history contained a message from another terrorist that roughly translated into "Thanks for the use of the rocket-propelled grenades."

Courtesy of US Army Central Command (CENTCOM)
Link: http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/News_Release.asp?NewsRelease=20050966.txt

Splash, out


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Murphy's a M*********r. 
From the New York Times:

The morning Hurricane Katrina thundered ashore, Louisiana National Guard commanders thought they were prepared to save their state. But when 15-foot floodwaters swept into their headquarters, cut their communications and disabled their high-water trucks, they had their hands full just saving themselves.

Ooh, yeah. Let's preposition even more supplies in the storm area right away!

For a crucial 24 hours after landfall on Aug. 29, Guard officers said, they were preoccupied with protecting their nerve center from the waves topping the windows at Jackson Barracks and rescuing soldiers who could not swim. The next morning, they had to evacuate their entire headquarters force of 375 guardsmen by boat and helicopter to the Superdome.

Not sure I trust the timeline here. The levees I understand didn't break until the next day. Love the dangling participle, though. How many soldiers did the window-topping waves rescue?

It was an inauspicious start to the National Guard response to the storm, which ultimately fell so short that it has set off a national debate about whether the Pentagon should take charge immediately after catastrophes. President Bush has asked Congress to study the question, and top Defense Department and Guard officials are scheduled to testify on the response before a House panel on Wednesday.

No, the federal government should not take charge immediately after catastrophes. Actually, that doesn't even seem to be a matter of serious debate among military people I know. I mean, why turn the concept of federalism on its head and micromanage every little storm from Washington when it's far simpler NOT TO PUT YOUR HEADQUARTERS IN A FLOOD ZONE IN A CITY VULNERABLE TO FLOODING!

In interviews, Guard commanders and state and local officials in Louisiana said the Guard performed well under the circumstances. But they say it was crippled in the early days by a severe shortage of troops that they blame in part on the deployment to Iraq of 3,200 Louisiana guardsmen. While the Pentagon disputes that Iraq was a factor, those on the ground say the war has clearly strained a force intended to be the nation's bulwark against natural disasters and terrorist attacks.

You know, the New York Times ought to do a bit more homework and exercize a bit more common sense before they start yapping about what the Guard is intended for.

The National Guard is intended to temporarily supplement the regular army as it fights and wins our nation's wars. It has always been that way. People who think that the Guard is not supposed to be a deployable, battle-ready force need to get that idiocy out of their minds.

I mean, what the hell am I doing with a mortar platoon? What's with those hundreds and hundreds of M1 tanks in the inventory? What am I going to do with those Mk 19 40mm automatic grenade launchers in my supply room?

The National Guard spends 11 months out of every year training to close with and destroy the enemy in the field, or support the effort of others to do the same. The Guard spends one month of every year on its state mission.

Yes, the nation does not need us all the time. Meanwhile, the governors can make effective use of the guard for local and home defense and missions in support of civil authorities. But when the ignoramuses at the Times try to play down the primacy of the federal mission, I'm here to crush that idea.

By spreading this meme, the Times is insulting the Guard and its soldiers.

Yet the very effectiveness of the eventual military response - which climbed to 35,000 guardsmen and active-duty troops - only underscored questions that will long haunt Louisiana guard officials: Should commanders have moved their headquarters to higher ground before the storm?

Does the Pope wear a funny hat?

Check out the whole thing, though.

My favorite part: The article chastises the LA Guard for not confronting the crowd at the Superdome:

At the convention center, 222 soldiers trained in levee repair, not police work, locked themselves into an exhibit hall at the convention center rather than challenge an angry and desperate crowd of more than 10,000 hurricane victims at the center.

So why is it we have to wait until the very end of the article, a dozen paragraphs later, before we learn that many of the troops didn't even have weapons?

Don't you think the Times owes the officers and men involved at least that much consideration? What the f*ck, over?!?!?

Did the Times have a better idea? Would it have been better to capitulate? What happens when the crowd moves to seize their weapons, too? You'd have a massacre on your hands.

As far as I can tell, the Colonel's decision was reasonable and prudent under the circumstances. And those men sure as shit don't need to get slimed by a couple of halfwit reporters who weren't at the scene and who clearly have no idea what is involved in a use-of-force decision.

Splash, out


Eight Pounds: A USMC loggie weighs in 
Got this in from a reader this evening:

spent a couple of decades doing logistics in the Marine Corps. I worked everything from Battalion level up to Division and FSSG level. Everything from MEU(SOC) to Corps level. Additionally, I have pretty extensive experience in seaborne and airborne logistics (go figure). It continues to amaze me that people in the military that should live and breathe the logistical requirements can be so confused over what it takes to get from point A to point B with all the people and all their crap.

I tried to explain what a massive undertaking it is to move the National Guard into the Katrina affected area to my wife. I had very little success until I broke it down to one number. 8 pounds. It is a magic number. The planning weight for a gallon of water. Times two gallons per person per day minimum. Times 40,000 personnel for the National Guard to support itself. The number gets pretty staggering really quick. 320 tons a day. And that is just for the water.

I don't know what the Guard uses for hauling general cargo these days so I'll use the good old 5 ton truck as my vehicle of choice. A five ton truck carries, well, not five tons. Not after you take out of its total people, fuel, equipment, spares and all the other "stuff" your average driver/A driver pair need to survive. But assuming you can get 5 tons of water on the truck that is 64 trucks (big trucks, not Ford F150 trucks) just to haul water for the relief forces. Still not a drop to drink for the survivors. Now double that number to add in one days worth of water for the 40,000 people in the Superdome. Now we are 128 water trucks.

Assuming that each truck is approximately 27 ft in length (w/wench) and that equals approx 3500 ft. of truck, bumper to bumper. At road march speed and distance, in a non-tactical environment, you are at approx 13,000 ft of trucks or about 2.5 miles of water for a single days supply of water for the relief force and the Superdome. There is nothing to eat, sleep on, or wipe your ass with in this convoy. Just one days worth of water. Pretty impressive number? It's worse even than that. This does not include any packaging, bracing, tiedowns, etc. to hold the water. Just 128 perfectly sealed water haulers.

Now multiply times 25 for the 1,000,000 people displaced by Katrina. And then do it all over tomorrow.

Yep. That's about 50 miles of water per day, if all you've got is 5-tons. Try to park that somewhere without getting a ticket!

And you haven't even moved troops! Nor have you moved your own fuel. To give you some idea of the scale involved, a single mechanized division requires tens of thousands gallons of fuel for every hour it is on the move. Sure, you won't be bringing your tanks and bradleys into New Orleans. So maybe you're down to 6,000 gallons per hour. But electric pumps are out throughout the disaster area, so you have to plan on bringing your own.

Well, you're going to want more than one 5,000 gallon tanker and one 1,000 gallon TPU per hour, because you have to distribute that fuel intelligently, and a few fuelers cannot be fueling up the entire force.

Fueling a large element can take hours. And planning that effort itself takes hours.

Here's a fascinating article written by a Quartermaster Lieutenant Colonel in 1944. The only thing that has changed is the tanks now gobble up even more fuel on their turbine engines.

From the article:

Let us consider a few of the problems that arise when one is dealing with such astronomical supply figures as hundreds of millions of gallons of product and millions of product containers. It is the Quartermasters' responsibility to keep in motion, on all fronts and under all conditions, the Army’s countless thousands of trucks, self-propelled artillery pieces, and mobile land and water equipment-from sixty-ton tanks to half-ton jeeps; from Army transports and landing barges to laundries and sewing machines. The continuous flow of oil and gas to these thirsty machines of modern warfare must be uninterrupted. Nothing must stop or delay the constant flow of oil from gushing well to sub-dodging tanker; from port of debarkation storage tank to the final transporting receptacle -- one of the twenty-million-odd five-gallon cans.

Throughout the entire chain of supply it is the Quartermasters' responsibility to coordinate plans and operations with all Army, Navy, and civilian agencies. Careful planning and gearing of available supply and distribution facilities to actual consumption must be constantly maintained if the entire machinery of civilian and military life is to function at the highest level of efficiency.

The Fuels and Lubricants Division has two broad spheres of operation: the zone of the interior, which consists of the continental United States, and all other areas, generally referred to as "off shore." Most Quartermaster requirements can be estimated to a reasonable degree of accuracy. For example, it is possible to forecast fairly accurately how many shoes, coats or gloves Johnny Doughboy is going to need in a specific theatre of operation over a given period of time. Petroleum products present a knottier problem since every change in tide of battle, terrain, and weather creates changes in demand which require prompt analysis and accurate decisions. The enemy's strength must be gauged, and plans formulated for the destruction of enemy oil production, storage, and distribution facilities. Accurate estimates of enemy consumption and civilian needs in enemy occupied territory are required if strategically sound attack plans are to be developed. As territory is captured and occupied there arise the problems of reclamation of products and reconstruction of production and distribution facilities. When necessary, arrangements must be completed for the supply and shipment of production and refinery equipment to replace that destroyed beyond repair or to develop new fields or plants. These are but a few of the many and varied problems which confront the staff of the Fuels and Lubricants Division.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: Even if you got the fuel, you still might have a problem, because different units may have their vehicles configured for different types of fuels. Some units may be configured to run on gasoline, some on diesel, and still others on JP-8. The helos are usually designed to run on JP-8. When you have multiple guard units from different states operating jointly with regular army formations and USMC and USN units, you've got issues. Meanwhile, you are competing with the entire Southeast for limited regional fuel stocks. And you may have a pipeline that's shut down.

That's just CL III. There are 8 more classes of supply for you to worry about.

You haven't fed anyone yet. You haven't brought in your coms gear. You haven't brought in your mermites and mobile kitchens. It takes an entire truck and then some to bring in enough mermites, pots, pans, juice and coffee containers, and other supplies just so a battalion can feed itself in the field.

They've got nowhere to crap. So you'll be trucking in porto-lets, hopefully, within the first day. Otherwise things get ugly fast. Trust me.

Hell, just backhauling trash can be a pain in the ass.

Hey, Glick! Tell me again that "it's not about logistics."

Splash, out


The evolving war of maneuver 
The always excellent Belmont Club has a worthwhile post on maneuver war as it continues to evolve in Iraq.


Why does it take 2 days to move a brigade? 
A reader reacts to my statement, "it takes more than two days to get a brigade ready to move," and writes:

Just out of curiosity, what would it take to get a brigade ready to
move in a day? If we gave it an unlimited budget, could it happen?

on the flip side, what would happen to an exising unit that tried to
move in a day. Would they be at all effective in disaster response,
or would they be worse than useless?

I don't think it's a matter of budgeting. It's a matter of planning. With an element that big, you can't just pull off the highway and pull into a parking lot. You have a quartering party leave a half day early to recon, verify, and mark the assembly area. If you don't, you have a nightmare going in, and you'll spend two days just trying to find everyone and get everyone unstuck.

The main body - mostly the Brigade Support Battalion types, but also all those HHC detatchments, engineers, and other odds and ends - needs to conduct rehearsals of both the staging and the occupation. Those can take up to an hour or more by themselves. And that's not counting travel time for the element commanders to and from.

It takes a day just to get the plan from brigade level down to battalion level down to company level down to platoon level down to squad level. Each echelon needs time to plan, write the order, and brief its subordinates. A brigade movement order will keep the brigade staff up all night. A battalion movement order can still take hours to put together from scratch. And once you move, you can't just move everybody in one big lump. Well, you can, but you're asking for trouble. (Suppose the lead vehicle takes a wrong turn? You'll have 500 vehicles trying to make a U-turn on a side street.

And you don't want to have every vehicle showing up to the refuel point at the same time. So you break it up, and you leave it up to subelement commanders, and you have them take different routes in so you don't overwhelm the fuel assets on any one route. That takes planning to work out, too.

And a refueling stop for a battalion's worth of vehicles can take an hour or more, depending on the number of pumps.

That takes planning and staffwork and, ideally, reconnaisance.

It will take half a day just to load up equipment, issue weapons and communications gear, conduct radio checks, brief the rules of engagement. And you haven't even gotten out into the affected area yet. You haven't even conducted a leaders' reconnaisance down to the company level (and preferably the platoon.)

You also have to get your scout platoon (assuming they're competent at route reconnaisance and bridge classification) or some engineer experts to take a look at each bridge along the route and verify that it can handle a fully loaded HETT or LMTV or 5-ton truck. Until that route reconnaisance is completed, trucks ain't gonna roll.

You also need to afford NCOs at all levels time to conduct precombat checks.

Hell, it will take most of a day to make it through a company phone roster before you can successfully contact everybody in the best of times, just to get people in the motor pool. And once you get into the motor pool, vehicles need to be PMCS'd and dispatched.

You also need to push out your LNO teams early, to set up shop in the EOCs, and confirm just what it is they need the military to do, and where, and set limits on those objectives.

No amount of money is going to significantly shorten that process. All money can buy is an entire brigade sitting there at the ready all the time. WHich really means rotating several brigades through the training cycle, which is incredibly expensive.

If you already have the troops on hand, with a movement order already worked out in advance thanks to some heads-up ball by the XOs all up and down the chain, you might be able to create the appearance of a one-day movement from a standing start. But that's all that is - the appearance of a one-day movement.

That appearance has already fooled a number of observers, who think that such and such a unit moved within 8 hours of recieving the order. No. A brigade sized unit probably got the warning order three days out, and the battalions got it at least 2 days out, and both elements started working up their movement orders.

Splash, out


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Why does it take a three-star 
to run the relief operation for Rita?

Just watched part of an interview on TV with LTG Robert Clark, who I'm sure is a fine officer. I've not yet met a general who didn't know a thing or three. And the few three-stars I've met were giants of candlepower, and could think circles around me. As it should be.

But to put things in perspective: All coalition forces in Iraq are commanded by a three-star.

I'm sorry - Rita just doesn't have the same scope or scale.

Maybe they need the three star just to knock the two State Adjutants-General together. But why separate three-stars for Rita and Katrina? Does the Louisiana Adjutant General now answer to two three stars?

Well, no. He answers to the governor of Louisiana.

Splash, out


Countercolumn News Ticker 
Lynndie England Receives Jail Time, NEA Grant
"Groundbreaking" human pyramid exhibit to go on tour...


Countercolumn News Ticker 
NEA Hails Murder of 5 Iraqi Charter School Teachers...


The most substantive response I've seen yet... 
but here it is, cut and pasted from the comments section of Neil Hayden's blog.

Worthwhile mostly for the juicy digs at the Air Force. My comments are in caps.




The Post-Gazette's idiot -- I notice that he says, "A former Air Force logistics officer had some words of advice for us in the Fourth Estate on his blog, Moltenthought...."

A former Air Force logistics officer with a handful of ad hominems. You forget that some of us have met Air Force officers. If this one likes ad hominems so much try this one on for size: Being in the Air Force means that his brain doesn't work below 5,000 feet. If a war started at 1500 on a Friday the Air Force wouldn't find out until 0800 the following Monday morning.

Back when he was spending mornings playing golf and evenings squatting on a barstool in an air conditioned officers' club, the grown-ups were learning that the world doesn't work the way he thinks it does. WHAT IS IT WITH THE AD HOMINEMS? I MEAN, I'LL SLAM SOMEONE IF HE'S AN IDIOT. BUT I WON'T HANG A WHOLE ARGUMENT ON AN AD HOMINEM. YOU MUST DEAL WITH FACTS.

Let's look at other parts of that article:

For instance, it took five days for National Guard troops to arrive in strength on the scene in Homestead, Fla. after Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992.

1992 -- remember that was Bush I, back when FEMA was a nice sinecure for political hacks. That was before Clinton cleaned it up and put in professional disaster managers -- grown-ups with experience, not the frat boys and failures that the Bushes -- father and son -- dumped there.

When were those other hurricanes that Jack Kelly quotes Jason van Steenwyk (who he mentions is a Florida National guardsman, with no other mention of his expertise in disaster planning): ACTUALLY, HE DOES. HE MENTIONS THAT I'VE BEEN MOBILIZED SIX TIMES (AT THE TIME IT WAS FIVE) FOR DIFFERENT HURRICANES.

The federal response here was faster than Hugo, faster than Andrew, faster than Iniki, faster than Francine and Jeanne.

Hurricane Hugo, 1989
Hurricane Andrew, 1992
Hurricane Iniki, Hawaii, 1992
Hurricane Francine, 2004
Hurricane Jeanne, 2004

How amazingly wonderful that no hurricanes struck the United States while Clinton was president and James Lee Witt was director of FEMA!

Or could it be that hurricanes did strike the United States, and fast and effective mobilization and federal disaster relief mitigated the effects?

Yeah, the latter.


As far as Air Force logistics officers, apparently they've fogotten how to count on their fingers. People went into the shelters on Sunday. The levees broke on Monday. The first official aid came on Wednesday, WRONG, GENIUS. THE COAST GUARD WAS ALREADY RUNNING RESCUE MISSIONS BY COB TUESDAY, AND THE NAVY ALREADY HAD THE AIR ASSETS FROM AN AMPHIBIOUS GROUP ON STATION BY THEN. in the form of palletloads pushed off the backs of trucks that didn't even slow down. HEH. TRY PUSHING A PALLET LOAD OF MRES. Too little, and by then three days in. YEP. THAT'S ABOUT THE STANDARD FOR THE BEGINNING OF A FEDERAL RESPONSE TIMELINE. HAS BEEN FOR YEARS. SAME UNDER CLINTON. It wasn't until Thursday that the feds even found out that there were people at the Convention Center LOCAL RESPONSIBILITY, NOT FEDERAL not until Friday before food and water arrived in quantity LOCAL RESPONSIBILITY. NOT FEDERAL. and not until Saturday that the last of the survivors were taken out of the shelters LOCAL RESPONSIBILITY, NOT FEDERAL. That's a solid week, WRONG. THE LEVEES BROKE ON TUESDAY. THAT'S FIVE DAYS, NOT "A SOLID WEEK." Air Force Logistics Officer -- seven days (I know, in the Air Force a week is only five days, and you started counting two days after the disaster started, but trust me on this one -- the real number is seven). Human beings without water live three days. WRONG AGAIN. EVEN IF HE WAS RIGHT, GETTING WATER TO THE SHELTER IS AN INDIVIDUAL AND LOCAL RESPONSIBILITY.

I've seen Maytag washers that didn't have as much spin as that piece.

"The United States military can wipe out the Taliban and the Iraqi Republican Guard far more swiftly than they can bring 3 million Swanson dinners to an underwater city through an area the size of Great Britain which has no power, no working ports or airports, and a devastated and impassable road network.

Three college kids from Duke got to the New Orleans Convention Center in a two-wheel drive Hyundai days before the National Guard did.



And let's not forget the New Mexico National Guard -- mounted up and ready to ride on Sunday, the day before the hurricane hit, while people were still going to the shelters. They didn't get permission to roll until the following Thursday. GOVERNOR'S GOTTA ASK FOR THEM SPECIFICALLY. THERE ARE STATE-TO-STATE AGREEMENTS THAT COVER THOSE MOVES. AND THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARD DOES NOT HAVE TO GET PERMISSION FROM WASHINGTON BEFORE SENDING THEM. That holdup wasn't at the local level, guy. Your "grown-ups" running FEMA were too busy doing Tequilla Shooters in college and pretending that being an intern in an assistant city manager's office was the same thing as being an assistant city manager to figure out that you have to be fast off the dime when real people will lose real lives if you're hanging out with one thumb in your mouth and one in your ass playing "switch."

"You cannot speed recovery and relief efforts up by prepositioning assets (in the affected areas) since the assets are endangered by the very storm which destroyed the region.

No, numbnuts -- you preposition them outside of the area. Say -- New Mexico. Wisconsin. Minnesota. Then you move them in. WELL, SPECIFICALLY, YOU STAGE MUCH OF IT AT THE NEAREST FEMA CENTER. IN THIS CASE IT WAS MOSTLY ATLANTA. AND THEN IT TAKES A FEW DAYS TO GET THE STUFF THERE. ATLANTA-NEW ORLEANS IS A DAY'S DRIVE UNDER PERFECT CONDITIONS. IT'S A LITTLE DIFFERENT WHEN THE BRIDGES ARE KNOCKED OUT. Do I have to explain all this to you? DO I HAVE TO EXPLAIN ALL THIS TO YOU? I already mentioned the New Mexico troops who were hanging out waiting for the order to go. Shall we mention the civilian contractors in Wisconsin with truckloads of water and ice who were held up, then misdirected by hundreds of miles to the wrong locations where no one was present to offload their supplies?


"No amount of yelling, crying and mustering of moral indignation will change any of the facts above."

No amount of spinning, whining, or lying by omission will make this anything other than a botch from top to bottom. And any time you're ready to present facts rather than puffed up excuses, I'm ready to listen.

Those "Hurricane Pam" plans that were supposedly made? They weren't made or promulgated-- they were cut from the budget. And during that exercise FEMA spent its time blowing smoke, promising supplies it didn't have on a timeline it couldn't meet, using assets it couldn't locate. Only later did the local guys who were relying on FEMA to hold up their side of the bargain discover that it was all big talk from small men.

"You cannot just snap your fingers and make the military appear somewhere," van Steenwyk said.

No, you don't do it by snapping your fingers. You do it with planning. You know the Seven Ps? Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance. Out in the world that's the way things really work.

Guardsmen need to receive mobilization orders; report to their armories; draw equipment; receive orders and convoy to the disaster area. Guardsmen driving down from Pennsylvania or Navy ships sailing from Norfolk can't be on the scene immediately.

Guardsmen all over the country were getting their mobilization orders on Friday and Saturday before the event. They were standing by (the ones that weren't in Iraq). FEMA was sucking its thumb. FEMA, SIR, DOES NOT COMMAND NATIONAL GUARD ASSETS. THAT IS PURELY A GOVERNOR SHOW, AND A HISTORICALLY JEALOUSLY GUARDED PEROGATIVE.

After the event is a hell of a time to start thinking of what you're going to need. Planning. What grown-ups do. Remember?


Norfolk to New Orleans by way of the Florida Straits is around 1,600 miles. At a 20 knot speed made good, that's 80 hours. If a hospital ship and a couple of amphibs set sail when Katrina turned north on Saturday morning, they have been at New Orleans by mid-day Tuesday.


Thinking ahead. Planning. Coordination. What FEMA was supposed to be doing. These were supposed to be grown-ups, remember? They'd been given important jobs and were receiving serious paychecks for doing them.

Brown and Chertoff weren't engineers. They were lawyers, and not terribly good ones. They had fancy friends who gave 'em nice cushy jobs. Not a lad among 'em had a lick of common sense or a day's experience with genuine disasters, planning for them, or recovering from them.


There's your scandal. An incompetent put other incompetents in charge of something important.


Relief efforts must be planned. Other than prepositioning supplies near the area likely to be afflicted (which was done quite efficiently), this cannot be done until the hurricane has struck and a damage assessment can be made. There must be a route reconnaissance to determine if roads are open, and bridges along the way can bear the weight of heavily laden trucks.

Only the first sentence of that paragraph is true.


And federal troops and Guardsmen from other states cannot be sent to a disaster area until their presence has been requested by the governors of the afflicted states.

Like New Mexico's troops?


So they libel as a "national disgrace" the most monumental and successful disaster relief operation in world history.

If that was a success, Lord save us all from a clusterfuck.

I'm looking forward to a full, honest investigation of this fiasco.


I'd like to see it soon. I'd like to see it followed up by indictments. And jail time.


An impeachment wouldn't be a bad idea either.



Daniel Glick still claims "it's not about logistics" 
And responds to my arguments - and those of several logistics pros here:


Not surprisingly, since Glick's out of his league, his response fails.

Well, I go off to Seattle for a couple of days, and look what happens. The only time this sleepy little blog gets any traffic is when I say something that provokes a conservative pile-on. This time, it was Jason van Steenwyk, whom I criticized in my last post.

Well, I hate to burst his "poor me" victim bubble, but one blogger responding to criticisms does not a "conservative pile on" make. Nor does calling me conservative in ANY way refute my substantive points, nor those of any of several loggie pros, some of whom have first hand knowledge of the Katrina-related operations.

In fact, at no time does Glick even attempt to address their points directly, nor does he make any attempt to challenge any specific substansive point I've made in any of several posts here dealing with hurricane logistics.

Here he is, though asserting, well, nothing in particular:

However, the military specializes in doing things that would seem impossibly complex to the untrained.

In other words, a bunch of professional military officers - loggies all - slap him around and tell him what he wants to do is logistically impossible, and his response is that the military specializes in doing the impossible. No, it doesn't. Military loggies especially specialize in doing the POSSIBLE, and not trying to do what's clearly impossible, nor promising the impossible.

When they do, the results are disastrous. Ask anyone in Army Group B under General von Paulus in Stalingrad. When the army was cut off by a Russian pincer movement, von Paulus quite rightly sought to attack to the west to cut his way back to his logistical base.

Field Marshall Goering, head of the German Luftwaffe, assured Hitler that he would be able to keep von Paulus supplied by air.

Goering was out of his league, too. He had no idea what it would take to keep a motorized army group supplied in combat operations. And as it turned out, the Luftwaffe did not have sufficient transport aircraft in the inventory to supply half of von Paulus's needs. And the airfields available - like the airfields and available, intact road networks around New Orleans, had only limited throughput capacity. So even unlimited transport capacity would have been insufficient.

As a result, Army Group B slowly began to eat itself. And the process deteriorated until Army Group B could not even send trucks to pick up supplies from its last remaining airfield, because they didn't have enough fuel to go pick up more fuel. Read "Enemy at the Gates" for a vivid oral history of the battle (the movie sucks, despite Rachel Weisz being hot.)

It was all about the logistics. And in the case of New Orleans in the early days of the disaster, it was specifically about throughput.

Logistics imposed a limit on what the armed forces could do. But because politics imposed an even greater limit, the actual delay was not about the logistics.

Glick evinces no evidence that he's absorbed what we are trying to tell him. He presents no evidence to support the idea that an earlier green light could have more than marginally improved ground-based federal response - and totally ignores the large scale Coast Guard and USN presence that was already on the scene rescuing people by the hundreds well within the first five days.

The rest of the military was actively engaged in contingency planning, even without an official warning order from the Pentagon. But guess what, kiddo - it takes more than two days to get a brigade ready to move.

Glick's final point goes back to his first point in his earlier post - and relies on a politely worded ad hominem:

As for Lieutenant van Steenwyk, I am sure that his service in the Guard has been more difficult and consequential than anything I have ever done or will do in my life. He has my respect and gratitude for that. But it does not make him a reliable expert on all things military, especially when his partisan bias is so evident.

Sure, I'm usually conservative. But where is Glick's evidence that my partisan bias is distorting my argument? Am I commenting on all things military? No. Do I claim expertise on submarine tactics from the 1950s? No. I'm commenting on what it takes to move a battalion task force's worth of vehicles and gear during and immediately after hurricane conditions. And Mr. Glick, if you have reason to believe I'm not credible on this particular subject, then spell it out. It's easy enough. Find someone who's got more experience in hurricane relief than I have, whose commanded or been an S4 or XO at a higher echelon than I have, who will argue differently, or who will tell you it's "Not about the logistics."

It's frustrating to see these people resort to ad hominems. Oh, Van Steenwyk's only a junior officer. Oh, Van Steenwyk's politically biased. Ad hominems do not advance an argument, nor do they invalidated someone else's. If I'm lying because I'm biased, or if I'm distorting things because I'm biased, then fine. Maybe I am. So point it out. What, specifically, am I distorting, or omitting, or lying about, that would have sped up the arrival of large federal troops by as much as a single day?

Splash, out


Mary Mapes has a book coming out 
It's called "Truth and Duty: the Press, the President, and the Priveledge of Power."
The first chapter is online. Here are some exerpts. With, of course, my own insufferable commentary interspersed throughout, as is my wont.

We had a senior document analyst named Marcel Matley fly to New York to look at all the documents we had, the official documents that had been previously released by the White House as well as the “new” ones. After examining them for hours, blowing up signatures and comparing curves, strokes, and dots, he gave his best opinion on their authenticity. Since the documents were copies, not originals, he could not offer the 100 percent assurance that came by testing the ink or the paper.

But he said he saw nothing in the typeface or format to indicate the memos had been doctored or not produced at the time they were alleged to have been.


It was another day of exhausted exultation. I got congratulatory e-mails, phone calls, and pats on the back. Other reporters called repeatedly as they worked to catch up to my story. I was thrilled.

All that changed about 11:00 a.m., when I first started hearing rumbles from some producers at CBS News that a handful of far right Web sites were saying that the documents had been forged.

I was incredulous. That couldn’t be possible. Even on the morning the story aired, when we showed the president’s people the memos, the White House hadn’t attempted to deny the truth of the documents. In fact, the president’s spokesman, Dan Bartlett, had claimed that the documents supported their version of events: that then-lieutenant Bush had asked for permission to leave the unit.

Within a few minutes, I was online visiting Web sites I had never heard of before: Free Republic, Little Green Footballs, Power Line. They were hard-core, politically angry, hyperconservative sites loaded with vitriol about Dan Rather and CBS.

The Freepers and LGF, ok. But Powerline? Politically angry? Please.

All these Web sites had extensive write-ups on the documents: on typeface, font style, and peripheral spacing, material that seemed to spring up overnight. It was phenomenal. It had taken our analysts hours of careful work to make comparisons. It seemed that these analysts or commentators---or whatever they were---were coming up with long treatises in minutes. They were all linking to one another, creating an echo chamber of outraged agreement.

Well, the fact is that the media "analysts" are overpaid and not very good. And when it comes to anything having ANYTHING remotely to do with the military, the Manhattan media has a significant demographic handicap to overcome: There are so few veterans in the Manhattan media circles that Manhattan media does not even have the perspective to realize how bad their analysis is. Anyone who has spent time reading official military correspondence could see instantly that the memos did not come from a military headquarters.

There was no analysis of what the documents actually said, no work done to look at the content, no comparison with the official record, no phone calls made to check the facts of the story, nothing beyond a cursory and politically motivated examination of the typeface. That was all they had to attack, but that was enough.

You come up with a pig and you tell me it's a dog. You even produce a dog's pedigree. But people who spend a lifetime farming pigs know a pig when they see it. And you swearing up and down that it's a pig don't make the pig look any more like a dog. But it does make you look like an idiot.

I remember staring, disheartened and angry, at one posting. “60 Minutes is going down,” the writer crowed exultantly.

My heart started to pound. There is nothing more frightening for a reporter than the possibility of being wrong, seriously wrong. That is the reason that we checked and rechecked, argued about wording, took care to be certain that the video that accompanied the words didn’t create a new and unintended nuance. Being right, being sure, was everything. And right now, on the Internet, it appeared everything was falling apart.

I had a real physical reaction as I read the angry online accounts. It was something between a panic attack, a heart attack, and a nervous breakdown. My palms were sweaty; I gulped and tried to breathe. My heart was pounding like I had become a cartoon character whose heart outline pushes out the front of her shirt with each beat. The little girl in me wanted to crouch and hide behind the door and cry my eyes out.

Remember that feeling. Maybe you'll be more careful about playing "gotcha journalism." Maybe you'll be more careful before you fuck up another story.

talked to our document analyst Marcel Matley, now back in San Francisco, who said he had seen some of the comments and dismissed them out of hand. “They aren’t even looking at the quality of copies I did,” Matley said. He disdained the anonymity of the postings, saying that any real analysts would use their name and credentials. And he pointed out something that would be a huge problem for us in the days ahead: that in the process of downloading, scanning, faxing, and photocopying, some computers, copiers, and faxes changed spacing and subtly altered fonts. He thought that this basic misunderstanding of how documents changed through electronic transmittal was behind the unfounded certainty and ferocity of the attack on the documents.

In retrospect, Matley was right and our story never recovered from this basic misunderstanding. Faxing changes a document in so many ways, large and small, that analyzing a memo that had been faxed---in some cases not once, but twice---was virtually impossible. The faxing destroyed the subtle arcs and lines in the letters. The characters bled into each other. The details of how the typed characters failed to line up perfectly inside each word were lost.

And these faxed, scanned, and downloaded documents were the only versions of the memos ever made public. A comparison of one of the documents before faxing and after faxing is in the appendix.

Heh. That didn't stop this idiot from certifying these memos as authentic. Sure, a fax distorts certain things. But it's not going to automatically put a courier typefont into the exact default settings of Microsoft Word, AND retain the integrity of someone's signature at the bottom of the page. If a fax was so distorting, then what on earth was this guy analyzing in the first place? This "analyst" is covering his tracks like a cat buries a turd.

Next time, why don't you ask the fox about the henhouse?

I was afraid that this time Matley, who was an experienced document analyst and longtime expert witness, was out of his element. He knew a great deal about documents and signatures. But I knew attack politics.

No, Mary. You THOUGHT you knew attack politics. Which is why you were so willing to believe that these memos were authentic.

Actually, 60 Minutes has a long history of slandering the innocent to make a compelling TV story. Mapes's victim complex is wearing a bit thin - especially when one stops to consider the many reputations that overzealous news producers like her have so wantonly destroyed. Richard Jewell, anybody?

I knew I could count on Dan. In tough situations, he became “fightin’ Dan,” someone who told us all to “never back up, never back down, never give up, never give in.” I was glad to hear from him and reassured by his reaction to all of it.

Not a word about a journalist's first allegiance being to the truth. I guess those days are over, if they ever existed. If these people are more interested in the fight than the truth, then they should all be fired so they can find PR jobs somewhere in the spin factories.

I was incredulous that the mainstream press---a group I’d been a part of for nearly twenty-five years and thought I knew---was falling for the blogs’ critiques. I was shocked at the ferocity of the attack. I was terrified at CBS’s lack of preparedness in defending us. I was furious at the unrelenting attacks on Dan. And I was helpless to do anything about any of it.

We vowed to work ourselves into a frenzy doing a great report on the Evening News the next night ... and we did. We put on a strong and reasoned defense. Maybe that was the problem. The people who had begun the attack on us were not interested in reason, other than the reason behind the whole assault---politics.

If Mapes were interested in reason, she and her team would have quickly produced a convincing explanation as to how it was possible for a 1973 typewriter to produce a memo using the exact same default settings as Microsoft Word 32 years later. They would have come up with a typewriter who could do it. They would have explained why their source burned the originals (Maybe to get rid of the printer ink?).

Mary Mapes has failed to stick up for her own story here. All she has is ad hominems against the bloggers, and unproven speculation about their motives. Well, if someone can demonstrate that the memos were fake happens to have a political motive, that does nothing to undercut the fact that the memos were fake. Indeed, Mapes' speculation about the motives of the bloggers is in and of itself bad journalism practice. What is the evidence that political motivations colored the obvious conclusions anyone with an experienced eye for military correspondence could have reached by looking at the document?

Yes, Mapes is still acting like a wounded wildebeest. She's demonstrated no insight so far, and demonstrated no allegiance whatsoever to the truth.

I'd have a lot more respect for her if she simply argued that the memos were fake (but I still believe the story because of A, B, and C.)

She's fighting her battle on the wrong turf here.

And her narcissism reminds me of Blair's.

Splash, out


Monday, September 26, 2005

New York Times: Intellectual Cripples 
It turns out that the New York Times DOES cover the killing of Abu Azzam. But apparently the killing of Al Qaeda's deputy commander in Iraq, doesn't warrant its own headline.

Instead, these bastards bury the story at the very end of this piece, headlined "Five Teachers Slain in an Iraq School."

Amazingly, the New York Times manages to get through the entire piece without once using the word "terrorist."

Nope. Not once. The Times describes them as "armed men," and "Sunni radicals." And their vile handiwork is referred to not as "murders" or even "killings," but as "attacks." And thus their treatment in the Times's pages is rhetorically indistinguishable from our own attacks against the terrorists.

What in the world do you have to do anymore in order to qualify for the term "terrorist?"

The only instance the word comes up in the article is when the Times quotes a Shia cleric who says "protecting society from terrorists is a religious duty."

That's right. The Iraqis know who the terrorists are. It's a shame the New York Times is so intellectually crippled that they don't, anymore.

Splash, out


Abu Azzam killed 
U.S. Special Forces troops have killed Abu Azzam, Al Qaeda's number 2 man in Iraq, during a raid in Baghdad. Apparently, he was the finance guy.

Finance guys are always a bit easier to track down than the ops guys, because of the nature of their business. Ops guys can operate in isolated cells, and not talk to anyone but a couple of vendors and one finance guy who gives them cash. Information on ops guys can be very compartmentalized.

The finance guys, on the other hand, actually have to go fundraising. And everytime they go fundraising, the expose themselves. And all it takes is for Al Qaeda to accidentally murder the wrong guy's cousin, and someone calls a tip line, and the finance guy gets a 3am knock on his door.

The nice thing about these captures is that many times, you can make dozens of arrests, based on intelligence gained at the scene. This is another reason why the offensive is better than the defensive. The only intelligence you ever get on the defense is intel on what the enemy just did.

There are other things you can do, aside from the obvious things like raid the hard drive on the guy's computer. And Al Qaeda in Iraq must now make a lot of adjustments, and cut off a lot of contacts.

It's too bad that so little time has elapsed between Azzam's early monday demise and the time it hits the wires. It's always better to see news of a terror honcho's death about a week after it happens. When that happens, you know they've been able to do some major intelligence exploitation.

It's also a lot of fun if everyone thinks the honcho is still alive and yapping. That means everybody has to run for cover, and that in itself has a suppressive effect on terror operations.

And this is just pure speculation on my part, but what if Azzam is still alive and everyone thinks he's dead?


Well, I guess that's just a possibility Al Qaeda will have to worry about.

And Syria, too.

Splash, out


P.S., the New York Times puts Lynndie England on the home page. The major U.S. victory in killing Azzam is nowhere to be found.

Calling all guitar players 
The International Guitar Festival is trying to round up 1,323 guitar players to play in the largest guitar ensemble ever, and get a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

The tune: "House of the Rising Sun."

Where's Al Qaeda when you need them?

Michael Moore's "Minutemen" 
dressed up as Iraqi police and then calmly drove two vehicles to an elementary school in the southern town of Muwalha. They then rounded up the elementary school teachers and brought them to a classroom.

They then murdered six of them.

School teachers.

And the cocksuckers at CNN dignify these subhuman orcs with the term "insurgent."


No word yet on any Democrat congressman comparing these tactics to those of Pol Pot.

NY Times Abdicates Basic Principals of Journalism 
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions; rational people are not entitled to their own facts.

Unless, of course, you work for the New York Times.

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/25/opinion/25public.html?pagewanted=1

Here's the story: NY Times TV critic Alessandra Stanley wrote a column in which she says that Geraldo Rivera "nudged" an Air Force rescuer out of the way during the rescue of an elderly woman.

She writes this based entirely on her own viewing of a videotape first aired on September 4th. The videotape, as NY Times Public Editor Bryan Calame confirms, shows no such thing. Fox and Geraldo are calling on the New York Times to publish a correction.

Stanley and her first-line supervisors inexpicably refused, and so the matter went all the way up to the NY Times chief editor, Bill Keller.

The problem: According to Calame, Keller likewise confirms that the tape shows no "nudge." Stanley invented the nudge out of whole cloth. Keller, though, refuses to publish a correction, because he says that the nudge happened off camera.

But if it did happen off camera, Stanley could not have seen it, and could not have reported it. If someone else who WAS there told her Geraldo had nudged a rescuer out of the way, Stanley could have attributed the allegation to a witness. She did not. She asserted it on her own byline. She also refused to make her case to the public editor, declining an invitation to sit and watch the tape with him side by side, and even frame-by-frame.

Well, if she won't talk to the public editor, then by extention she won't talk to me, you, or any of the other readers.

If Keller is not going to stand up for factual accuracy at the Times, then who is?

Splash, out


Saturday, September 24, 2005

Meatgrinder Metrics 
Maj D notices that coalition casualties this month are way down. In fact, the casualty rate for September is less than half of what it was in August and the lowest since March - "despite" a series of offensive operations in the north and west.

I put "despite" in quotation marks because I would argue that the low casualty figures are BECAUSE of the offensive operations, not despite them.

What explains the difference? I would venture that the increasing prominence of Iraqi forces is largely behind the lower casualty figures. As the Iraqi forces develop, they take on more of the burden of combat operations themselves, and so represent a lower portion of casualties. The fighting could intensify, and terrorists could even gain a good deal of punching power, but as long as U.S. troops make up a lower percentage of the total troops engaged in any given operation, you wouldn't see it in coalition casualty figures.

We need to start tracking Iraqi Defense Forces casualties right alongside U.S. and allied casualties, and use that to track the trendlines.

The Logistician 
The Logistician

Logisticians are a sad and embittered race of men who are very much in demand in war, and who sink resentfully into obscurity in peace. They deal only in facts, but must work for men who merchant in theories. They emerge during war because war is very much a fact. They disappear in peace because peace is mostly theory. The people who merchant in theories, and who employ logisticians in war and ignore them in peace, are generals.

Generals are a happily blessed race who radiate confidence and power. They feed only on ambrosia and drink only nectar. In peace, they stride confidently and can invade a world simply by sweeping their hands grandly over a map, pointing their fingers decisively up terrain corridors, and blocking defiles and obstacles with the sides of their hands. In war, they must stride more slowly because each general has a logistician riding on his back and he knows that, at any moment, the logistician may lean forward and whisper: "No, you can't do that." Generals fear logisticians in war and in peace, generals try to forget logisticians.

Romping along beside generals are strategists and tacticians. Logisticians despise strategists and tacticians. Strategists and tacticians do not know about logisticians until they grow to become generals--which they usually do.

Sometimes a logistician becomes a general. If he does, he must associate with generals whom he hates; he has a retinue of strategists and tacticians whom he despises; and, on his back, is a logistician whom he fears. This is why logisticians who become generals always have ulcers and cannot eat their ambrosia.

Author Unknown

Hat tip: The Professor's Lecture Notes

Get a lawyer 
If you're an overzealous 20-something political operative caught up in a rapidly expanding scandal, Hugh Hewitt has some kindly advice.

20-somethings make mistakes. But the last four years, the Democratic leadership has created a climate of command which leads directly to an "anything goes" mentality.

It started at the top, of course, with Al Gore personally using government phones to conduct fundraising calls, and then rapidly spins downhill from there, to tireslashing to bomb threats to battery and thuggery to murder.

These kids are just part of an increasingly desperate machine that will do or say anything to win. This is the ethical climate that the leadership of the Democratic Party has created.

Splash, out


The New York Times covers Medal of Honor winner Rubin 

They ran a generic, cookie-cutter wire-service report from the AP. I guess it didn't even warrant attention from their White House correspondent.

Perversely, the allegations of anti-semitism in the Army receive more space in the article than Rubin's own heroism. These guys just HATE anything that has to do with the virtue of the America Fighting Man.

Anyone know if it made the dead-tree edition? If so, on what page?

Splash, out


Another BS flag 
Here's the Independent printing another outrageous allegation, without any corroborating detail or attempt to fact check.

The rare insight into the chaos of the combat ­ including an order to open fire on all taxis in the city of Samawa because it was believed Iraqi forces were using them for transport ­ comes as US support for the war in Iraq slumps to an all-time low.

It would not be hard for an enterprising reporter to get to the bottom of that. The subject of the story knows who he served with. He knows who his CO was. Why not pick up the phone and call to see if that's true? There's no evidence anyone ever tried to verify a damn thing this guy's saying.

This is the state of journalism today. They didn't learn a thing from Rathergate. They run with the first outrageous report they can get their hands on. They do no background work. They seek no corroborating witnesses. It's a 'he-said, she-said' exercise, except they often don't even bother with a 'she-said.' Hell, this so-called "reporter" didn't even bother with a pro-forma call to Army Public Affairs to get them to decline comment. (Nor did his editors apparently expect him to.)

Oh, and the reason he doesn't know how many innocents were killed by his mortar rounds is because chances are he has no idea what he was shooting at. The mortar is primarily an indirect fire weapon, and in Iraq, because the terrain is relatively flat, and most of the fighting is urban, a mortar crew shoots at a grid coordinate someone else gives him, and not at anything he can see directly. "Direct lay" missions are pretty uncommon in Iraq -- at least in the valleys. Mileage may vary in the northern hills (You can do some direct lay in Fallujah, from outside the town, though. But a mortar crew would do it from hundreds or even thousands of meters away, and so would not even know what they were shooting at, even then.

Splash, out


More prisoner abuse? 
If this is true, then heads should roll.

If it's true.

I have a lot of doubts, though. First of all, the medical service corps wouldn't put up with that shit. Second, it would be easy enough to identify which prisoners had the "broken arms and legs and shit." Just look for the broken arms and legs and shit. Then ask them, separately, who did it. If several people with broken arms and legs and shit pulled the same people out of a lineup, and all described the same Louisville Slugger, you've got a case, and the coverup will quickly unravel.

Now, there's apparently an officer who made an appointment with a Senate staffers. Ok, what Senator? When? Did the reporter bother calling the senator to confirm the appointment?

And the officer was denied permission to leave the base? What base? Mercury? The alleged abuses happened between March 2003 and April 2004. Yep, the same time I was there, roughly. The 1-504th has been back in the U.S., on and off, since the alleged abuses occured. And a captain was denied permission to leave Fort Bragg? A CAPTAIN???

My bullshit detector is ringing off the hook on this one.

And he got an appointment with the Criminal Investigations Division and the Army Inspector General? Ok. Were charges filed? Where's the evidence that these abuses actually occurred as alleged? Because all we've got to go on is HRW repeating the allegations of three other people, who are not named. Only three people have come forward in a year and a half?

And a captain won't put his name to the allegations, even though he's REQUIRED to pursue the matter by law?

And what's this bull-hockey?

The soldiers attributed the abuse to lack of guidance on the Geneva Conventions rules on the treatment of prisoners and assumptions that they did not apply.

Horsehockey. The Geneva Conventions is a mandatory annual briefing in most commands. Every interrogator and MP in the Army gets taught about the Geneva conventions in AIT. Every one of them. There is nothing ambiguous about it, and nothing that requires "guidance" to understand. You can't go breaking arms and legs and shit with a Louisville Slugger or anything else.

The AFP apparently did nothing to corroborate, nothing to fact check, nothing to verify the HRWs allegations.

I don't doubt some abuse occured, and that it occurred throughout the country - particularly prior to the Abu Ghraib abuses becoming public and shedding light on the issue. But I'm throwing the bullshit flag on this story, as alleged here.

CID is not going to ignore broken bones. Nor is the Army IG.

Splash, out


UPDATE: The NY Times actually gets the captain's name and he's gone on the record, though he's not speaking much to media. So there may be more here. But there seems to be only one instance of broken bones.

UPDATE: Full Human Rights Watch report here. His account is actually really interesting, and makes for a good officer professional development conversation.

His Battalion commander didn't ignore him, though, but just referred him to JAG. You don't get that from the AFP account. It's not an unreasonable course of action, if the Battalion commander is not responsible for the detention facility.

Splash, out


A mouthful of ashes 
Well, that didn't take long.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Israel ordered ground forces to the Gaza border Saturday and threatened a "crushing" response after Israeli towns were hit by the first major Hamas rocket barrage from the coastal territory since Israel's pullout two weeks earlier.

What exactly was Israel supposed to gain from the concession? Has Israel ever gained anything from conceding a single inch to these goons? That's not to say that some of the hardcore settlers in the territories don't make for truly obnoxious neigbors. But if an unoccupied Gaza is going to turn into a base of operations for indescriminate rocket attacks against residential areas in Israel, then Gaza must not be unoccupied. Counterguerrilla operations should grant no safe haven. The enemy must be struck where he is. And the people of Gaza must have a vested interest in eliminating the goons from their midst.

Splash, out


Friday, September 23, 2005

Pandagon Making Excuses for Saddam's Rape Rooms 
Link here. Scroll down to the comments section. Snippets follow; I edited heavily for brevity. TallDave appears in the comments section on this blog from time to time.


Pandagonite mds: I try to reserve a lot of my swearing for the realization that we've spent American and Iraqi lives to establish an Iran-friendly nation built on Islamic law, where women will be less free than when we started this war...under deliberately false pretenses.

Commenter TallDave: uh, rape rooms? Udai? remember that? criticizing the regime meaning rape/torture/death?...

Pandagonite Annejumps: ALL the women in Iraq did not go to the rape rooms.

Pandagonite Annejumps: ALL the women in Iraq ARE going to have fewer rights under the fundamentalist government.

Pandagonite Stavro: People who Saddam perceived as working against his regime received this kind of treatment and fate. But that is a very small percentage of the population. The sweeping laws defined in the likely new "constitution" will relegate the rights of Iraqi women to a far more Iranian, third class status, while Saddam's regime (peculiarly) rigorously enforced gender equality in universities and employment, evil as he was. If the comparison is between these two situations, the latter is definitely a worse one for women, if only because it affects the entire female population.

The usual right-wing tactic of throwing up "rape rooms!!!" etc. in the face of criticism about just what the FUCK we're "creating" there (as in the Islamic Republic of Iraq) lost its value months ago.

Commenter TallDave: I wonder if the 2 million people Saddam killed are able to "walk the streets." Oh wait -- they're dead. I guess not. Meanwhile, Iraqis now have the freedom to elect their leaders, they have free speech, a free press, a constitution to be freely voted on.

Abu Ghraib was an aberration, an the authors of that relatively minor abuse were punished. To equate those incidents with Saddam's state-santioned rape/murder/torture centers betrays a profoundly ignorant lack of perspective...

Pandagonite Linnett: Free speech, unless you say something "unIslamic" or "antiAmerican," in which case either the insurgents or the US troops will kill you. The "freedom" to elect their leaders--leaders who will either be powerless or, if they carry through their agenda, more tyrannical than Saddam.

TallDave: The protestations over Islamic law are ridiculous. We're talking about civil family law -- how much people get in divorce court. Not honor killings, not whether women can vote, not whether women have to wear buhrkas -- just finance and family law. And here we have people saying "well, it was better with no right to vote, no right to free speech, and rape rooms." Unbelievable.

Iraqi women can vote now. Ultimately, if they don't like the law -- hey, they're 50% of the electorate. They can get the law changed.

Pandagonites: Ask Riverbend.

TallDave: Riverbend? You may as well ask Eva Braun what she thought of the Nazis.

Stavro [on the number of people Saddam killed]: *Sigh* That "2 million" figure is a bit exaggerated. Several hundred thousand to be sure, though. [It's not exaggerated at all. It simply includes the dead from the war Saddam started with Iran.]

Pandagonite Tom: let's see some facts on the Iraqi Constitution. You're the one making claims that the women can change it.

TallDave: Simple. They can vote. Next.

Tom: They could vote under Saddam, as well.

Stavro: You voted for a mass murderer.

Stavro: The government will likely be rolled over when we leave. The best estimates of the size of the insurgency amount to 50,000-100,000 people.


You get the idea. If I were the DNC chief, I'd think about paying these morons just to shut up and stop embarrassing the Party.

Splash, out


Countercolumn News Ticker 
Americans breathe a sigh of relief as
Texans stop bragging for 5 minutes...

Rita closes in on Texas as LA residents point and laugh...

Texas expels hundreds of New Orleans Evacuees...
"You people are bad luck," say officials...

Florida Keys rebuild after Rita...
Florida National Guard troops cruise on back home...
Search continues for lost shaker of salt...

Engineers working to make Florida retractable...

"All my ex's fleeing Texas," says Tennessee hat hanger...

Miami revisiting feasibility of 48 hour evacuation, flying pigs...

Texas Guardsmen bewildered by nozzle-fuel tank mismatch...
"Had to send away to another state to get fuel tanker nozzles compatible with civilian vehicles..."
Area plastic funnel distributors shake heads in disbelief...

Louisiana residents still cursing lack of electricity...
"This is the storm we've been hoping will hit Texas for years, and I can't enjoy it," says diehard LSU fan...

"F**k it:" Columbia University to ban Catholics, too...

Floridians count blessings...
Dems demand recount...

Thousands of Keys residents bemoan loss of "stash..."


"Active Duty Alerts" can fight back against identity theft 
Cut and pasted from the Federal Trade Commission's website:

If you are a member of the military and away from your usual duty station, you may place an "active duty alert" on your credit report to help minimize the risk of identity theft while you are deployed.

When a business sees the alert on your credit report, it must verify your identity before issuing you credit. The business may try to contact you directly, but if you're on deployment, that may be impossible. As a result, the law allows you to use a personal representative to place or remove an alert. Active duty alerts on your report are effective for one year, unless you request that the alert be removed sooner. If your deployment lasts longer, you may place another alert on your report.

To place an "active duty" alert, or to have it removed, call the toll-free fraud number of one of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, or Trans Union. The company will require you to provide appropriate proof of your identity, which may include your Social Security number, your name, address, and other personal information.

* Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com
* Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com
* TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com

Contact only one of the three companies to place an alert - the company you call is required to contact the other two, which will place an alert on their versions of your report, as well. If your contact information changes before your alert expires, remember to update it.

When you place an active duty alert, your name will be removed from the nationwide consumer reporting companies' marketing lists for prescreened offers of credit and insurance for two years - unless you ask that your name be placed on the lists before then. Prescreened offers - sometimes called "preapproved" offers - are based on information in your credit report that indicates you meet certain criteria set by the offeror.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

The loggies pile on 
...in the comments section to this post on Daniel Glick's blog, commented on below.



Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Someone claims "it's not about logistics." 
Here's someone who thinks that the 82nd Airborne moved 3,600 troops and helicopters to New Orleans within 8 hours with a standing start.

What a knucklehead.

Ever hear of a Warning Order?

Think no one was busting his ass for five days to get ready for that before the order came through?

Think the two days the state and federal DoTs spent clearing the roads made a difference? You don't think moving through a storm area the day of the storm is different than moving through it two or five days later?


A Great American 
Tibor Rubin knows what it's like to slowly starve to death, how lice itch when crawling over skin and how giving up on life can seem easier than fighting for it.

Nazi guards made sure Rubin understood despair at the age of 13. A Hungarian Jew, he was forced into the Mauthausen Concentration Camp toward the end of World War II.
He was just a boy when he lost his parents and two little sisters to the Nazi's brutality. "In Mauthausen, they told us right away, 'You Jews, none of you will ever make it out of here alive'," Rubin remembers. "Every day so many people were killed. Bodies piled up God knows how high. We had nothing to look forward to but dying. It was a most terrible thing, like a horror movie." American Soldiers swept into the camp on May 5, 1945, to liberate the prisoners. It is still a miraculous day for Rubin, indelibly imprinted in his heart. "The American Soldiers had great compassion for us. Even though we were filthy, we stunk and had diseases, they picked us up and brought us back to life." Rubin made a vow that day that he's fulfilled ten times over.

"I made a promise that I would go to the United States and join the Army to express my thanks,"

Corporal Tibor Rubin will be presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor on September 23rd.

Here is his story.

Splash, out


UPDATE: The New York Times is all over the story.

Off to Key West. Slim to no blogging til further notice.


Monday, September 19, 2005

Well Countercolumn got a good deal of publicity when it got mentioned via Jack Kelly on Drudge and Rush. So I got an inquiry passed to me through my chain of command: "Please tell us what authority you have to speak to the media for the Army.

Well, the answer is none. I do not speak for the Army. This is a personal blog, done on off duty time, and the Army has nothing whatsoever to do with it.

That's why I sign my posts "Jason" rather than with my rank and duty position.

Now, Jack Kelly quoted my rank in his column - as was his right to do, since it was 1.) a statement of fact, which was 2.) germaine to my own credibility as someone with some experience. At no time did I speak to Kelly, nor claim any authorization to speak for the Guard or the Army or anyone else besides my own unit. (Notice I NEVER blog about personnel matters here.)

Actually, I've been resistant to requests for links to the Army, and I do not visit Army PR websites. CENTCOM asked last week if I would post a link to their site, and I resisted it (but when CENTCOM agreed via email that it would not be taken as an erosion of editorial independence I agreed to post a link. (still working on it.)

Countercolumn is simply a pet project from a cantankerous citizen who is a fan of politics and media who happens to be a Guardsman. But any opinions expressed here are entirely my own, and no I don't get a stipend by Karl Rove, and the only politician who EVER sends me political talking points to cover is John Kerry.

And no, the Army didn't ask me to post a disclaimer. But here it is anyway.


Light blogging 
Sorry for the light blogging this weekend. I had drill and didn't get round to leaving a note.


Friday, September 16, 2005

David Brock comes after me. 
In this case, he's shooting blanks.

By way of rebuttal to my assertion that the federal response to Katrina was faster and more voluminous than the federal response to Andrew and any other storm I knew of, Brock musters the anecdotal evidence of a single column by Leonard Pitts, a Miami Herald columnist who's home was damaged by Andrew.

Pitts recalls that there was a FEMA truck with water on it the day after Andrew came through.

All well and good. But Pitts is a Miami Herald columnist. What are the chances he lives in Homestead, where the devastation was really great, and which was all but cut off from ground transportation for days after the storm? Not good.

See, you could get trucks down to Miami the day after the storm. It was logistically possible to do so. It was not logistically possible to get trucks to the hardest hit areas of Homestead, unless they happened to be within throwing distance of one of the exits on the Turnpike. But I-95 does not extend further than Miami. And even with all the challenges, the approaches to Homestead did not rely on a system of bridges and causeways that had been removed from the surface of the earth.

So I'll see Pitt's recollection, and I'll raise him the recollection of actual Homestead residents who live and still live on 300th street (Just south of Avocado, in Homestead) who tell me they saw no evidence of a Federal presence for more than a week. They were completely cut off. "The only thing we saw for two weeks was a church bus." I think eventually a Guardsman came by and asked if they had any dead.

I'll also raise you 30 aircraft and 40 boats boats which the Coast Guard had prepositioned outside the strike zone on the 28th of August, well before the storm even hit.

I'll also raise you the teams of rescue squads and medical personnel that FEMA already had positioned just outside the area before the storm even hit. More specifically, I'll raise you 23 Medical Assistance teams that FEMA had staged outside the storm area before the storm. They moved in when the roads were clear.

I'll also raise you the fact that at 3:45 pm the day of the storm FEMA could not come up with a damage assessment, because "We could not get a team downtown."

If you can't get a few SUVs in, what are the chances you are going to get a serious convoy into town, that day? How reasonable is it to expect that? The water level in St. Bernard Parish had reached the 2nd story of the courthouse. Ok, Brock, even in the South, with its monster truck jams, I've not seen the rig that I'm willing to send into that. I don't care what seal is painted on the side. Have you?

I'll also raise you seven urban search and rescue teams from all over the country that were prepositioned in Shreveport. By the 30th, three more were in the process of deploying.

I'll also raise you more than 390 trucks, which were dispatched by the Department of Transportation, and which began deliveries in affected areas reachable by roads by the 30th. That's two days. 48 hours. Maybe a little more, since the hurricane hit in the morning of the 28th (But didn't clear the coastline until that afternoon, so any movement was impossible, even to clear roads along the coast, until that afternoon or evening).

48 hours is on the front end of the 48-72 hour window local officials are told to expect before federal logistics can be brought to bear. That was an excellent performance at the federal level by any reasonable standard. (Ever seen 390 trucks loaded at the same time, Brock? Do you know what it takes? How many warehouses have enough forklifts to do that in a day?)

I'll further raise you 2 helicopter squadrons from the USS Bataan, which were deployed by the evening of the 30th. Again, roughly 48-56 hours after the storm passed. Since these helos had to be boated in, that's not bad.

I'll further raise you a forward air control unit which was also on the ground within the 72 hour window, to set up lights at New Orleans Airport so it could operate round the clock. Yes, this is normally a state and local responsibility. But the Federal level stepped in with the assistance needed, and did so within its standard timeline.

I'll further raise you the fact that Governor Blanco did not request federal troops to help with law and order until the 31st.

Now, Brock, are you going to argue that the federal response to Andrew compared favorably? You're gonna have to do better than the anecdotal evidence of someone who was probably well north of the most critical area. Hell, he probably lived near one of the STAGING areas for supporting Homestead.

Brock should probably just admit he's out of his league here, and go back to spinning stains on dresses.

See also Jack Kelly's response.

Splash, out


Thursday, September 15, 2005

"Raises questions" 
Anytime I see some idiot newspaper reporter using the term "raises questions" I am almost invariably seized with an overwhelming urge to shove a pencil in his neck.

Case in point:

Now that Mr. Brown has resigned from FEMA, he's free to stick up for himself in the press a little bit better. Here's the New York Times account of an interview he gave yesterday.

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/15/national/nationalspecial/15brown.html?ei=5090&en=5a22b2aef8b6b7f0&ex=1284436800&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=print

Mr. Brown, then director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said he told the officials in Washington that the Louisiana governor, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, and her staff were proving incapable of organizing a coherent state effort and that his field officers in the city were reporting an "out of control" situation.

"I am having a horrible time," Mr. Brown said he told Mr. Chertoff and a White House official - either Mr. Card or his deputy, Joe Hagin - in a status report that evening. "I can't get a unified command established."

By the time of that call, he added, "I was beginning to realize things were going to hell in a handbasket" in Louisiana. A day later, Mr. Brown said, he asked the White House to take over the response effort.

He said he felt the subsequent appointment of Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré of the Army as the Pentagon's commander of active-duty forces began to turn the situation around.

In his first extensive interview since resigning as FEMA director on Monday under intense criticism, Mr. Brown declined to blame President Bush or the White House for his removal or for the flawed response.

"I truly believed the White House was not at fault here," he said.

He focused much of his criticism on Governor Blanco, contrasting what he described as her confused response with far more agile mobilizations in Mississippi and Alabama, as well as in Florida during last year's hurricanes.

That is how the New York Times characterizes Mr. Brown's "version of events." But then, a couple of paragraphs down, we get this:

Mr. Brown's version of events raises questions about whether the White House and Mr. Chertoff acted aggressively enough in the response.

No, it does nothing of the sort. Maybe some other things do. But Mr. Brown was absolutely unequivocable in his defense of the Bush Administration.

New Orleans convulsed in looting and violence after the hurricane, and troops did not arrive in force to restore order until five days later.

If the New York Times would pull its head out of its ass long enough to examine it with a corn dog, it would know by now that the restoration of law and order is a state and local responsibility, and that federal troops are prohibited by law from acting in this capacity within the United States.

But this article contains no mention whatsoever of the availability of National Guard troops for this purpose, nor does it mention that the National Guard troops who are trained to assist law enforcement in restoring order are under the command of the governor, and explicitly NOT the federal government.


The crowd in the Superdome, the city's shelter of last resort, was already larger than expected. But Mr. Brown said he was relieved to see that the mayor had a detailed list of priorities, starting with help to evacuate the Superdome.

Mr. Brown passed the list on to the state emergency operations center in Baton Rouge, but when he returned that evening he was surprised to find that nothing had been done.

Got that? Mr. Brown passed the the governor's priorites on to the STATE emergency operations center. That is, the governor's own EOC. NOT the federal EOC. It is state and local officials that are responsible for running EOCs in their own areas. Apparently the governor was out of contact with her own EOC, and the EOC, apparently, did not know what the governor's priority of work was as late as the day after the storm.

If this account raises questions, it raises them about the failure of command that occured in Louisiana. Not about the Federal response, which could only have been marginally improved. given the significant logistical challenges associated with moving large scale relief from the outside into a disaster area hundreds of miles in diameter.

And if, two weeks into the disaster, the New York Times editors can't grasp the difference between FEMA and a State EOC, if they still don't know the difference between National Guard and federal troops, if they can't grasp posse comitatus, then this article raises grave questions about the ability of the New York Times editorial staff to provide competent coverage of the relief effort.

Splash, out


The account also suggests that responsibility for the failure may go well beyond Mr. Brown, who has been widely pilloried as an inexperienced manager who previously oversaw horse show judges.

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