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Monday September 5, 2005

The awards ceremonies were wonderful. I am now in the hotel getting ready to go home. The news is all of the disaster.

Trust Us

One thing is clear: federalizing everything into "FEMA" was a horrible idea. When there was an Office of Civil Defense and LOCAL Civil Defense organizations coordinated through the Federal OCD, there were training exercises, many of the officials were volunteers who lived in the area, they made use of retired military people. There was a Director of Civilian Marksmanship and a conscious effort to arm Civil Defense people to form a well regulated militia.

All that was destroyed, and pretty well turned over to a Federal civil service bureaucracy which was then subject to the vicissitudes of politics and appropriations. The notion that preparedness for disasters was a local responsibility, and the Federal responsibility was to assist and come in when needed but not to set up the primary disaster preparedness and relief organization -- that was all lost. Trust us, said the Federal government.

Well, in New Orleans and Mississippi they had no choice but to "trust FEMA". The centralizers won and pursued, and extirpated most of the old Civil Defense organization. THEN came Homeland Security, which swallowed FEMA and neglected it.

Should the President fire every executive in FEMA? Fire the political appointees and transfer all the Senior Executive Service people to a FEMA office in Nome or Point Barrow? Possibly. At least some knew of the problems and did not resign in protest. But some did know, and fought to make changes, to no avail. But. Their efforts were doomed. The centralizers had taken over. And of course many of the FEMA executives were centralizers, who said "trust us."

FEMA we trusted you. We had no choice but to trust you. You left us no choice but to trust you.

You failed us. You failed miserably, but you do not share the misery.

The President ought not have to fire you. You should resign. You can make the resignations effective a year from now and get on with picking up.

* * *

Tocqueville long ago pointed out that the American Way was "associations"; that most of what you found government doing in Europe was done in American by "the associations."

The Civil Defense organizations of the old days was a combination of "associations" --- local volunteers --- with government assistance and coordination, but still primarily local. Yes, it was an opportunity for people to "play soldier" and have military or military-like titles, and the Kentucky and Tennessee Colonels were often figures of fun; but they also did good work. They did train. They did feel responsible. And the organization gave many people the chance to feel and be useful.

Sure. Trained professionals are more efficient, and can get more done. Can't they?

Trust us. We're the professionals.

[Later; this is unduly harsh on individuals; it is not harsh enough on FEMA as an organization, which ought to be abolished.]

(And see mail) (Also see below, and other mail.)


And now I am packing and off from Seattle to home.

One Note: THE SCAMMERS are out in force with spam mail begging your help. I know you are too smart to fall for it, but is your Aunt Minnie?


I am home, and there is a lot of mail on the hurricane and our response to it.



"Maybe the next great liberal cause will switch from being Gay Rights to being Cannibal Rights, with the benighted and bigoted anti-Cannibal portion of the American population soon to be described as being afflicted with Homoautophagephobia."



Police looters:

I am told the President ought to be impeached for not sending in soldiers immediately after the hurricane, or even in anticipation of it. Shouldn't he have known all this would happen?

Why did not the President helicopter in thousands of armed soldiers and gunships after the Florida hurricanes? Why did not the Japanese government send soldiers to prevent looting after the '95 Earthquakes? Why is the President not to be impeached because he didn't order in the Army in anticipation of looting in Los Angles following the Rodney King Verdict? Why is Bush to be impeached for not sending in the army in anticipation of looting in New Orleans?

(Added later for clarity: in my above examples I gave two, the Florida hurricanes and the Kobe earthquake, in which there was no need for military response because there was no looting, and one in which the absurdity of Federal anticipation of the need for military forces was, I thought, self-evident.)

What are those people who say he ought to be impeached for not mobilizing the Army in anticipation of turning the Superdome into Terrordome? Should we have expected this breakdown of law and order? Should we have expected the people of New Orleans to act like the people of South Los Angeles? Why should we expect that?



FP: You make the shrewd observation of how political correctness engenders evil because of "the violence that it does to people's souls by forcing them to say or imply what they do not believe, but must not question." Can you talk about this a bit?

Dalrymple: Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. *To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.*





Monday   TOP    Current Mail

This week:


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Tuesday,  September 6, 2005  


Structural Failure

Subject: FEMA History

Dear Jerry,

The following link to the FEMA website gives a brief history of the agency:


President Carter formed the agency in 1979, lumping together bureaucratic disaster relief funding organizations with the Defense Department's successor to the old Civil Defense Corps. It is clear that the bureaucrats won, ignoring the spirit and the practices of the Civil Defense organization.

Local responsibility and self reliance are antithetical to centralized Federal control, as we see more and more cases in the Gulf area where the Feds as well as State agencies stop locals from clearing debris and recovering bodies. I hope that Hurricane Katrina will serve as a fulcrum for debate about local versus federal responsibility for emergency response. We are in our neighborhoods all the time; we cannot wait for someone from that small fraction of the population with a uniform and a badge to take care of all of us when minutes count.

Jim Ransom


I reckon I owe a small apology to the individual FEMA officials, most of whom can't really be held at fault, and some of whom I suppose responded heroically. It wasn't what they did in response to this mess that I complain of; it is that they ever thought a central bureaucratic structure would be the right way to respond to emergencies.

The problem is structural. The existence of FEMA encourages state and local governments to neglect what is, after all, not only a task that is primarily in their jurisdiction, but which is THE primary responsibility of any government. It is precisely to deal with such situations that governments exist. Local committees might deal with much of the routine matters of life with government confined to enforcement of contracts and some judicial functions: for much of its life that was about all that the government of the Roman Republic did.

It is when there are invasions, acts of banditry by organized bandits, floods, fires, and earthquakes and volcanoes, that we need collective strength and a chain of command. The existence of FEMA implies the Federal Government will "manage" various emergencies. It cannot and should not.

FEMA should be restructured and preferably renamed to become a coordination office with federal resources to be applied in assistance to local Civil Defense organizations. In days to come I'll try to spell out what a Civil Defense organization ought to look like: volunteers, with training, with identification, with communications, with military or semi-military ranks and titles; people who know what they are supposed to do, where they are supposed to go in the event of a crisis whether that be invasion, fire, flood, earthquake, hurricane; semi-autonomous even from the local government with its own chain of command so that much of it is self-actuating.

All this is possible because all this once existed.

And see mail.


Roberta is recovering but burdened by crutches and a cast which make life difficult.

And it is time for me to take the dog on a lonesome walk.


On the education front:

"A second myth - that America's white elite children compare favorably with those abroad - is also false. In the most recent international data, comparing students in the top 5 percent in terms of achievement, the United States ranks 23rd out of 29. The third and most common myth - that the nations who do better than us are "homogenous" societies - is also not true. Immigration has transformed much of Europe, as it has the United States."

        --NYT editorial http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/06/opinion/06tue3.html


Bob Denver, RIP.


- Roland Dobbins

For me he was always Maynard G. Krebs from the Many Loves of Dobey Gillis. That was before Gilligan's Island or The Good Guys. I met him a couple of times. He used to come to COMDEX in its heyday; one or another company would hire him to appear in their booth. I forget whose products he advertised. They had some kind of tropical island theme; Dan thinks Paradise Products, but I can't remember. It might even have been Orchid. I never much cared, but I did like talking to him, and he was always delighted that I remembered him as Maynard and The Monster That Devoured Cleveland rather than Gilligan. Work?!


Apparently it was all Bush's fault. He appointed the wrong people, and he didn't sign Kyoto, and that caused the hurricane.

I confess I am weary of mail that says in effect that the head of FEMA is an idiot so therefore it's all his fault. Political responsibility requires political appointments; this is not a government run by a Civil Service bureaucracy and thank God. The head of an agency rarely has much control over what happens in it although he will have to bear the responsibility if things don't work. That's the way we try to do things in a republic. It doesn't always work, but it's about the best we know of. The alternative is government by career bureaucrats and that seldom works well either.

Every large centralized bureaucracy in history has been inefficient, sometimes notoriously so. We decided to centralize the education system, with disastrous results. The S0viet system of agriculture produced about the result you would expect. NASA is another case.

Federalizing Civil Defense and disaster response in a nation this side faced with the variety of possible emergencies we face produces about the results you expect. It won't work. It was a structural failure.

Now I suppose we can say, well, you should have known that there would be disorder, and have sent in troops before the storm hit. How you were supposed to know that is a problem: why did you expect a breakdown in law and order in New Orleans but not in other cities? And of course it's illegal to send in Federal troops absent a request from the governor.

But why we expect Washington to take care of all our problems is beyond my kenning. It won't work. It never has worked. Self government implies some self responsibilities and self capabilities.

Or was it George Bush's fault that all those school busses sat unused until flooded out? Of course it was -- if you have already decided that it's all the Federal Government's fault. But in fact it isn't any particular person's fault. The system was doomed from the day it was decided that we would have central bureaucracies to deal with such emergencies.

Trust us, we're the professionals, is almost always snake oil, and if you drink the snake oil you should not be astonished to discover that it wasn't even pure snake oil. There's probably kerosene and strychnine in there too.

As to all the horrors:

Gary Younge in Baton Rouge Tuesday September 6, 2005 The Guardian

There were two babies who had their throats slit. The seven-year-old girl who was raped and murdered in the Superdome. And the corpses laid out amid the excrement in the convention centre.

In a week filled with dreadful scenes of desperation and anger from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina some stories stood out.

But as time goes on many remain unsubstantiated and may yet prove to be apocryphal.

New Orleans police have been unable to confirm the tale of the raped child, or indeed any of the reports of rapes, in the Superdome and convention centre.

New Orleans police chief Eddie Compass said last night: "We don't have any substantiated rapes. We will investigate if the individuals come forward." And while many claim they happened, no witnesses, survivors or survivors' relatives have come forward.

Nor has the source for the story of the murdered babies, or indeed their bodies, been found. And while the floor of the convention centre toilets were indeed covered in excrement, the Guardian found no corpses.

During a week when communications were difficult, rumours have acquired a particular currency. They acquired through repetition the status of established facts.

One French journalist from the daily newspaper Libération was given precise information that 1,200 people had drowned at Marion Abramson school on 5552 Read Boulevard. Nobody at the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the New Orleans police force has been able to verify that.

But then Fema could not confirm there were thousands of people at the convention centre until they were told by the press for the simple reason that they did not know.

"Katrina's winds have left behind an information vacuum. And that vacuum has been filled by rumour.

"There is nothing to correct wild reports that armed gangs have taken over the convention centre," wrote Associated Press writer, Allen Breed.

"You can report them but you at least have to say they are unsubstantiated and not pass them off as fact," said one Baltimore-based journalist.

"But nobody is doing that."

Either way these rumours have had an effect.

Reports of the complete degradation and violent criminals running rampant in the Superdome suggested a crisis that both hastened the relief effort and demonised those who were stranded.

By the end of last week the media in Baton Rouge reported that evacuees from New Orleans were carjacking and that guns and knives were being seized in local shelters where riots were erupting.

The local mayor responded accordingly.

"We do not want to inherit the looting and all the other foolishness that went on in New Orleans," Kip Holden was told the Baton Rouge Advocate.

"We do not want to inherit that breed that seeks to prey on other people."

The trouble, wrote Howard Witt of the Chicago Tribune is that "scarcely any of it was true - the police confiscated a single knife from a refugee in one Baton Rouge shelter".

"There were no riots in Baton Rouge. There were no armed hordes."

Similarly when the first convoy of national guardsmen went into New Orleans approached the convention centre they were ordered to "lock and load".

But when they arrived they were confronted not by armed mobs but a nurse wearing a T-shirt that read "I love New Orleans".

"She ran down a broken escalator, then held her hands in the air when she saw the guns," wrote the LA Times.

"We have sick kids up here!" she shouted.

"We have dehydrated kids! One kid with sickle cell!"



I make no doubt there was looting in New Orleans. We saw it on TV. I make no doubt there were some horrors. But perhaps not so many as some would have liked to see.


For more on Phillip's ship and the US Navy in the Katrina rescue/response:


tell your friends.

Tell all your friends.

   I now have a long report from Lt. Cdr. Phillip Pournelle, Executive Officer of the HSV2 SWIFT. At the end of that is a link to a second report. If you want to know what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico, go read both those reports.    It is in mail.




Tuesday   TOP  Current Mail


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Wednesday,  September 7, 2005

For those who wrote me about the wonderful professionalism of FEMA and who took me to task for criticism of the "great people in the ranks of FEMA" who were supposedly betrayed by their politically appointed bosses, I urge you to go read:

Subject:  from the "stranger than fiction" department

"Frustrated: Fire crews to hand out fliers for FEMA" http://www.sltrib.com/utah/ci_3004197 

See especially the last paragraph.

The last paragraph is interesting but I also liked the insistence by a public relations officer that they have nothing to apologize for in using professional firefighter volunteers in this manner. If their professionalism in disaster management is no higher than the competence of their spokespeople in comprehending elementary principles, we need more political appointees and fewer "trained professionals" in that organization.

But in fact the problem is structural. This is the way bureaucracies operate, and one should not be surprised when bureaucracies act as if they were full of bureaucrats.

The old Civil Defense organizations, mostly volunteers who trained and worked for years and got in return a little equipment, few expenses, and some titular honors seems to have worked a great deal better; and ought to since those who are merely serving time tend not to spend much in unpaid positions...

I got an e-mail over the weekend from a US Army surgeon just back in Afghanistan after his wedding. Changing planes in Kuwait for the final leg to Bagram and confronted by yet another charity box for Katrina relief, he decided that this time he'd pass. "I'd had it up to here," he wrote, "with the passivity, the whining, and the when-are-they-going-to-do-something blame game."




Please do not use the word "Urgent" in the subject of any mail you send me in future; it is unlikely that I will see it.


Having said that, it is URGENT that we think about this:

What does Al Qaeda have planned for September 11?


Another report from Lt. Cdr. Pournelle.


A puzzlement:

I have no idea why I got this:

              what are you supoose to say so that the voodoo doll will work.cause i put someone hair on it and stick
               them with the pin and it didnt work so what iam supoose to say. let me know ASAP

It is signed, with a yahoo.com return address. Not only do I not know why I got it, but I can't think what to do with it. Do I dare delete it? I certainly shall not answer it...

[For those who did not see my point: I grew up in the Old South and I know something of the subject; although I doubt that the requester knows that. Pero, quien sabe? So perhaps I do know the correct incantation...



 Wednesday  TOP  Current Mail



This week:


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Thursday, September 8, 2005

It is column time and I have no time. What I have to spare will go into logistics planning: how to get Roberta to her seat at the Opera next Saturday night...

But I do need to write an essay on the structural problem of disaster relief. I can start with some thoughts on maintaining the Internet in a crisis. And do see the mail about lawyers heading DHS and FEMA. But now this, on the end of the Republic.

I do not usually read Human Events, but I was sent this:


New Orleans Didn’t Just Go Nuts -- It’s Been Nuts by Mac Johnson Posted Sep 6, 2005

Where to even begin in being one more idiot talking about Hurricane Katrina? I hate the subject. It should be a news item and a humanitarian cause --a huge recovery and reconstruction effort joined in by all. It should not be a political issue fit for “commentary.”

But the Hurricane tore at more than just the weaknesses in New Orleans’ inadequate levees. The shortcomings of the levee system were known to all who ever lived on the Gulf Coast, and in the end, all the levees really did was encourage expanded development in a huge geologic bowl sitting between a large lake, North America’s mightiest river, and the immense green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The whole booby-trap was simply yet another triumph of government subsidized and directed development. And its failure was long anticipated.

What was not anticipated was the way the Hurricane tore at our human divisions.

And I find at least this opening quite sensible. Why did anyone expect the city that has notoriously the most corrupt and inefficient government in the nation, and the highest crime rate, to suddenly become orderly and well managed when faced with a hurricane? What is it about hurricanes that is supposed to bring out the best in people?

One does not have to agree with this  sent by a long time reader (or with Fred):

To change the subject, see Fred's most recent column.


He says things that most people are afraid to think.

to know that New Orleans, by its past history, was going to react badly, while Biloxi and Gulfport, from their past history, would react well. (And do recall the purpose of political correctness.)

Disaster response is primarily the responsibility of the local government.

Now FEMA moves in and the first thing they demand is MANDATORY EVACUATION, because "the blood of those we don't force to move out is on our heads."

That, I put it to you, is Imperialism in action. What we OUGHT to be doing is helping property owners get back in to take care of their property; we OUGHT to be bringing in logistic support. We OUGHT to be acting like a Republic of responsible self-governing citizens rather than a unified welfare state that dictates to its population.

We will not be doing that. We'll bring in FEMA and the experts. Trust us, we are the professionals, get out of here you residents and property owners and citizens, you are refugees, go away boy, you bother me. I'm a trained professional. Trust me.

Good Lord, does no one else see the monstrosity of this? Either you trust the people or you do not. Either they are citizens or subjects. And we are getting the answers to that, to what is believe by the chattering classes and the glitterati. Get the people out of there whether they want to go or not.

Shoot them if need be.

Weep for the Republic.


Yes, the Mayor issued a "mandatory evacuation" order; but he and the police chief also said they were getting the people out who wanted out, and they'd worry about those who didn't want to leave later on. In other words, he gave himself an out. They can reconsider.

Now the FEMA man goes on Fox and when asked what is the first order of business it is MANDATORY EVACUATION, GET THOSE PEOPLE OUT NOW. Of course that means abandon Bourbon Street and St. Charles Avenue -- abandon them to those who didn't leave, including, one presumes, the police photographed looting the local Walmart. Let the good times roll, and the Feds can get in on it?

Here we have some New Orleans residents already talking about rebuilding. And we have the Federal Government coming in to move them out. We're the experts, trust us.




A thought for the day:


I wanted to send this link to you. It seems the wind is blowing in a different direction and some second thoughts are setting in:


I find it interesting that conservatives have gone from being called: conservative to paleoconservatives, to being read out of the movement by David Frum, and now being christened “neo-realists” in the Weekly Standard. All of these changes without ever once changing your own mind or position on the issues. It seems to me to show the perils of having no fixed philosophy.

Fred C. Dilger PhD.

To which I can only say, Holy Moley! Is sanity penetrating that place? National Review is finally realizing that the immigration crisis is real and political dynamite, now the Weekly Standard is questioning the Jacobin assumptions that got us into this mess and calling for strength at home and energy independence!

I always thought I was just, well, conservative; as were Possony, and Russell Kirk and the Wm. F. Buckley I once knew.

Well, well, well.  Reagan taught us that it's amazing how much you can get done if you don't care who gets the credit.

Holy Moley.




Thursday   TOP  Current Mail



This week:


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Friday, September 9, 2005

Another report from Lt. Cdr. Phil Pournelle.


The contractors putting in new storm drains managed to nick the water mains, and we have no water. We have had no water for over an hour. I blame President Bush for not responding to this disaster, and I am writing a letter to the Times.


On Getting To Space

I just got this:

Hey Jerry

What do you think of this?

            The Cold Equations Of Spaceflight



What I think is unprintable. This man Jeffrey Bell is either ignorant or mendacious or, quite possibly both. His biography says he is a retired space scientist, so he must know what he is talking about -- in which case he has an agenda, and selected his facts, and is not acting as a scientist but as a lobbyist. But in any event what he says is very silly. As an example, DC/X was a boiler-plate test vehicle for flight dynamics and control tests; there was no attempt to make a high mass fraction and there was no possibility since the lowest possible Gross Lift Off Weight for a single stage to orbit ship is about 600,000 pounds.

No one knows if we can make 90-93% mass fraction (the variability has to do with drag), which is the practical limit: we don't have the data to more than 2 decimal places. Start with a 600,000 pound GLOW vehicle. At 90% mass fraction that means we have 60,000 pounds for structure and payload. Of that we know that at least 90% will be tanks, fairing, electronics, fuel reserves, and everything else required to build a ship. That leaves a payload of about 6,000 pounds; but in fact we don't know that we can make the two 90% numbers. Best estimates of a 600,000 ship lifting from sea level are that the payload will be from negative (doesn't make orbit) to about 10,000 pounds (if everything went right, which it won't).

The original SSX proposed was 600,000 pounds; because it was coming out of the SDIO funds someone decided it had to have a mission; the mission needed 1400 pounds payload; the best way to insure a fixed weight of  payload is to make the initial system larger; before the mission requirements people were finished this poor little test vehicle was about 1.4 million pounds GLOW. That was too big to be built with available funds, so DC/X was a scale model. That had steel structures and tankage -- it was in other words a boiler plate flying test scale model to demonstrate flight dynamics and command authority, and it did that splendidly.

The point here is that payload numbers are in the third decimal place. The data we have are all two decimal place numbers. We need to fly some hardware to find out more. X-33 was originally proposed to do that.

X-33 was a boondoggle from the beginning, and there was never a chance they could build it, nor did they much care. I don't want to get into the X-33 scandal, but it proved nothing at all. Nothing was built and nothing was flown and the profits flowed in to Big Aerospace, and NASA was happy because there was no threat to Shuttle.

The right way to find out if we need one stage or two to orbit is to build a 600,000 pound ship and fly it. It will not make orbit but it doesn't have to. We then see what is overbuilt and bore holes in it. Max Hunter, who was a real rocket engineer, thought we could "nickel and dime" it to orbit.

Possibly we can't. It may take a "zero" stage (perhaps a ring of jet engines that takes it to altitude) or an air lifter (a huge White Knight). That latter, incidentally, is the current opinion of Jeff Greason, President of XCOR: take it to altitude and drop it. It will make orbit. This uses a large aircraft as the "zero" stage. The old Boeing Heavy Lifter (a design from the 1960's) used a two-stage system with a flyable recoverable first stage. It is very clear that one of these concepts will work; but until we fly something we won't know what is needed, and the flight tests will tell us a lot about how to get to orbit.

An actual X program -- as opposed to the X-33 boondoggle which was corporate welfare with an X designation -- would tell us.

Or we could have this legislation:

The Congress of the United States has determined that an American capability to build reusable space ships to achieve Low Earth Orbit is in the national interest;

The Treasurer of the United States is direct to pay to the first American owned company to send the same space ship to orbit 16 times in one year the sum of $5 billion dollars. This prize money is not subject to income taxation.

That would do it. Or, possibly, it would not, but it wouldn't cost the taxpayers anything unless the capability were achieved. (And yes, we can quibble over the actual wording and such; the point is that a prize for building one or two stage to orbit systems would work.)

Enough about this clownish article.

For what I have had to say about all this in the past see my space stuff. Start with the Space Reports Cover Page. There is also a long paper on the SSX concept which explains the rocket equation and mass fraction; a paper on prizes and X projects; and others. My paper on WHY HAVE NASA is also relevant.

I have deadlines to meet.




Dear PayPal member,

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I went to my Paypal account. No such charges have been authorized. I did not of course follow their link, which would I am sure have given them access to my Paypal account. BEWARE!!!


There is still no water here on this block. It has been HOURS, and FEMA is not here. President Bush is clearly at fault. I am now writing two letters to the TIMES, and I am arranging for TV news to come hear me whine.

Whew. The water is back. Now I have to go out to DMV and get the handicapped sticker for Roberta, go to Fry's for some stuff, and do some grocery shopping after which I can do the column.

It's a great life if you don't weaken. But it's all George Bush's fault. Where was FEMA in our hour of need?


Holy Moley. Now John and Ken (radio talk show hosts here in LA) are saying that Bush should have proclaimed a state of insurrection in Louisiana and ordered in Federal ground troops without the request of the governor.

Good God. And of course most of the reasons given are the reports of riots and gunfire and rapine and murder in the Superdome. Most of those seem now to have been rumors.

So why didn't Bush come here with troops to restore my water? I was hours, hours I tell you, without water. Where was FEMA?

Perhaps a few people still have some good sense, but I do wonder. Perhaps we can't have self government in this country. Perhaps we have lost the knack. Perhaps we need to have a grand father figure taking care of us, someone who will know that our Mayors and Governors are incompetent and send in the Army to save us.

Asked why the Army didn't go in to New Orleans earlier, one retired sergeant said "Well, the purpose of the army is to break things and kill people, and Katrina had already done that. Professional Courtesy."

Apparently, we are being told by politicians and news media, that the right thing to do would have been to declare a dictatorship to deal with Katrina.

Weep for the republic.



Brown has been sent home to resign, and apparently his resume was a bit padded; but that is not why he is being castigated. I was involved with other matters as the Katrina disaster developed so I don't know all the details.


What was it the head of FEMA did that he should not have done, and what did he leave undone that he should have done so that there is no health in him? I ask seriously because I keep hearing "he's dumber than a post" and "Wow was he incompetent" but in fact I have not heard what he did that was so egregious. The heads of most agencies mostly are charged with seeing that the bureaucracy is in compliance with the regulations (six or eight linear feet of regulations, usually) and are not commanding figures. Brown certainly was not inspiring as a leader.

I am sure he is culpable, but are there specifications to the charges? This is not a defense of the man; I just would like to know what he is to be dismissed for other than being unlucky.


Friday   TOP  Current Mail


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Saturday, September 10, 2005

Eve of the bursting?

Tomorrow is an anniversary of some note. Be careful out there.

I did not get the column out last week, and I am officially on minus time, so the world is going to have to operate without my observations today. Go read up on Phillip's reports from the New Orleans and Gulf area if you haven't done so. Phillip, for those who came in late, is Lt. Cdr. Phillip Pournelle, Executive Officer of HSV2 Swift, a ship of some interest which was originally scheduled to sail up to Norfolk and thence across the Atlantic, but is now ordered to assist in disaster relief operations. Phil's reports include pictures of the ship, crew, and some operations as well as scenery.



Saturday   TOP  Current Mail

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Sunday, September 11, 2005


This is column deadline time. I can only hope and pray that the day remains calm and uneventful. It is also the 3rd birthday of Sable, our Red Siberian Husky. Happy Birthday, Sable.

There is another report from Phillip. Remember that September 19 is International Talk Like A Pirate Day.

For how the Environmentalists stopped the construction of flood gates that might have prevented the New Orleans flooding, see this site http://frontpagemag.com/Articles/Printable.asp?ID=19418 which has a point of view but presents facts on the 1977 lawsuit that I know to be correct.






 Sunday   TOP        Current View  

 Current Mail

This is a day book. It's not all that well edited. I try to keep this up daily, but sometimes I can't. I'll keep trying. See also the monthly COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 8,000 - 12,000 words, depending.  (Older columns here.) For more on what this page is about, please go to the VIEW PAGE. If you have never read the explanatory material on that page, please do so. If  you got here through a link that didn't take you to the front page of this site, click here for a better explanation of what we're trying to do here. This site is run on the "public radio" model; see below.

If you have no idea what you are doing here, see  the What is this place?, which tries to make order of chaos. 

Boiler Plate:

If you want to PAY FOR THIS, the site is run like public radio: you don't have to pay, but if no one does, it will go away. On how to pay, I keep the latest HERE.  MY THANKS to all of you who have sent money.  Some of you went to a lot of trouble to send money from overseas. Thank you! There are also some new payment methods.

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Entire Site Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 by Jerry E. Pournelle. All rights reserved.


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