ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Enough Already with the "Why Did It Take So Long to Respond to Katrina?"

I just spent the last hour or so watching developments in New Orleans. There was the usual torrent of castigation of the Federal Government, read: George Bush, for delays in responding. Am I the only one who thinks the response was about as quick as it could be?

A review of the facts:
1. Katrina crossed Florida last Saturday as a category 1 hurricane;
2. It ambled out into the Gulf of Mexico where it amazingly rapidly gained strength to where it was a category 5 by last Sunday;
3. The same day the Feds declared an emergency for the Gulf Coast which began the mobilization process for Federal resources, never mind the inept Louisana response under the crying governor (where is Rudy when we need him?);
4. The storm struck Monday doing incredible damage to the Mississippi coast while apparently SPARING New Orleans;
5. The levys failed Tuesday flooding New Orleans over the next two days;
6. The Coast Guard began rescue operations the same day;
7. Federal resources, other than the CG, began ariving Friday and were fully functional on Saturday. That means it took less than 72 hours to become operational.

Can someone, anyone, tell me how they could have moved 20,000 troops, transported millions of meals and millions of gallons of water, assembled transport to evacuate 500,000 people and moved all this into a city isolated by flood over damaged roads in less than 72 hours?

Saying there was a delay does not make it so. It is preposterous. A huge vote of thanks should be given to the heroes responding as they have... and to the American public for their amazing, but not unexpected, generosity.

Now, please, you whining logistical geniuses, please shut up so the rest of us can get on with doing what we can to help these people out.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Friday, September 02, 2005

Mr. Big Wants to Know - Have You Contributed to the Relief Effort?

Mr. Big, and you all know who he is, is checking out ALL bank accounts through his sinister use of the Patriot Act to be sure those contributions are going out to where they are needed. He is not happy about what he is seeing. What's it going to take, visits from the black helicopters in the middle of the night?

Come on folks, let's get with the program here!

Seriously, thanks to all of you have been so generous. Let's keep digging deep. There are a million Americans out there who desperately need your, and my, help.

Our prayers go out to the refugees and emergency aid workers.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Unbelievable! Jesse Jackson in Baton Rouge!

I just got through listening to Jesse Jackson who showed up un-expectedly at the Governor of Louisiana's afternoon update.

What he did was bizarre.

He shilled for President Chavez of Venezuela. He extolled the tyrant for offering to provide petroleum products to "the poor" of the area affected by Katrina. He castigated the oil companies for "looting" in the wake of the hurricane.

This man need to shut up!

There is nothing the Left won't stoop to.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Had Enough? Supply and Demand Rears Its Ugly Head

One hurricane, devastating though it was, has brought the petroleum industry to its knees. Now is a good time to ask why. How could such a thing come to pass?

I should say by way of preface that I am no expert in these matters. I am merely a reasonably informed citizen. I understand something of economic reality and possess a modicum of ability to apply that knowledge. I also grew up in a family involved in the oil business.

Let's start with the fact that we have been living on the edge from the supply side for years. The supply in this case is refined product, gasoline and other distallites. We do not have the refining capacity to meet our needs. We import a significant portion of the finished product. What refining capacity we have has a major portion located on or near the Gulf of Mexico in such places as Houston and New Orleans. The storm on Monday took out the refining capacity of New Orleans and environs. All this refining capacity has been operating at or near capacity for years. There was no redundancy. We have seen price spikes for years when so much as one refinery goes down for one reason or another. No new refineries have been built since the 1970s.

So, with the loss of the capacity in New Orleans there is a shortage of supply. Either demand has to drop voluntarily or be reduced by increased prices. There is no sign of the former occurring, so the immutable laws of supply and demand are taking hold, ergo $6/gallon gas in Atlanta. (That would sure discourage me!)

What sort of answers are we getting from some in Washington?

From the usual suspects we are hearing call for price controls. How on earth does that improve supply? If price stays the same, the product continues to be bought at the same level, i.e. 100% of demand. There is not enough product to meet that demand. What will happen at that point? The supply will be exhausted. That will bring on rationing, panic buying, a return to the gas lines of the 1970s and economic disruption which is difficult to assess at this point.

We have a supply crisis and have had for quite some time. We have been living on the edge of this crisis. One hurricane forced the issue.

Congress can bleat and legislate all it likes. They can try to repeal the law of supply and demand all they like. That makes no more sense than trying to repeal the third law of thermo-dynamics.

If we do not face the facts, and face them soon, the situation is going to get worse, a lot worse.

**** ARC: Brian adds ****

You're correct John, Congress cannot repeal the law of supply and demand. I was heartened to hear that the clean air act that mandated different "formula's" of gasoline for specific areas has been repealed for the duration of the crisis. That was done by the administration under their emergency powers.

The $6/gal gasoline you see in Atlanta is due to the dynamics of information flow. Rumor's of gas running out, etc. From my sources, Atlanta gasoline is about the same as here in St. Louis $3-3.50 a gallon.

I believe the answer you are looking for is that we need to build more refining capacity. The problem with that is that one of the best regions for that refining capacity happens to be in the gulf region. Thats why there was so much refining capacity there already. It's close to major bodies of waters, the land is cheap. We will rebuild our capacity, or repair what capacity can be repaired there, in hopefully relatively short order.

People around the country need to not panic. That would be worse than the problem we are actually facing.


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Coming Gasoline Crunch

As a result of Katrina we have lost 20% of our crude supplies for the country as a whole. But more importantly than that, the Louisiana refineries are all down because they have no electricity. No crude, no refineries... no gas.

The refineries in the St Louis area, one of which my Dad built, are either dinasaurs or mothballed. No new refineries have been built in this country in over a quarter of a century. We have been operating on the edge for many years and it finally caught up with us.

This is going to be a major problem for the Midwest, Southeast and Northeast, but most of all the Southeast and Midwest as they are nearly totally dependent on the Gulf. Atlanta, for example, has about 10 days supply of product on hand. Their pipeline, Colonial, is down due to there being no electricity let alone product. Two days of that 10 are gone.

This could be a major mess.

"Experts" are predicting $4/gallon in the immediate future.

The price is going to be what it is going to be until consumption falls and supply and demand meet, economics 101. The problem is too little supply and too much demand. Our supply is down by 20%. Demand is at 100%. Something has to give. We had no wiggle room (excess) on the supply side to start with.

In 1979 this happened, but we were only 10% (or less) short that time around. The prices soared and there were lines at the pump. Some may recall the odd/even rationing.

Equilibrium will be retored, it is only a question of when and at what price.

Eventually we will get the supply back from the Gulf, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Perhaps we have learned our lesson this time and that we will drill for new sources off Florida, California and the North Slope of Alaska in addition to building new refineries.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

New Orleans, Biloxi etc - Prayers are Good... and So Is Cash

OK all you Conspirators out there, we have instructions from Mr. Big: get out your checkbooks and give all that you can to disaster relief. My personal preferance is for The American Red Cross, but there are many other groups and agencies out there responding to this unimaginable disaster.

This is a time critical thing to do. There are people out there with nowhere to live, nothing to eat or drink and in great distress. It is time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.

'Nough said, make it so.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Its worse than you think Glenn....

Glenn Reynolds has a link to an article in the New York Times on the low percentage of American's who are scientifically literate:

While scientific literacy has doubled over the past two decades, only 20 to 25 percent of Americans are "scientifically savvy and alert," he said in an interview. Most of the rest "don't have a clue." At a time when science permeates debates on everything from global warming to stem cell research, he said, people's inability to understand basic scientific concepts undermines their ability to take part in the democratic process. . . .
To which Glenn replies: "What do they teach them in schools these days?".

It's worse than that Glenn. People are willing to boast as to their scientific illiteracy.
Readers of the Wall Street Journal might recall an article (subscription required) last week describing the jury deliberations in the Vioxx case (emphasis mine).

Jurors who voted against Merck said much of the science sailed right over their heads. "Whenever Merck was up there, it was like wah, wah, wah," said juror John Ostrom, imitating the sounds Charlie Brown's teacher makes in the television cartoon. "We didn't know what the heck they were talking about."

Yet, they felt they could render a decision on the evidence that "sailed over their heads".
And what was one thing that didn't sail over their heads?

Mr. Ostrom, 49, who has a business remodeling homes, was also disturbed that former Merck Chief Executive Raymond Gilmartin and another top Merck official gave videotaped testimony but weren't in the courtroom. "The big guys didn't show up," said Mr. Ostrom. "That didn't sit well with me. Most definitely an admission of guilt."

So, scientific evidence is too hard to understand, but not seeing a CEO at the defense table, Law and Order-like is an admission of guilt.

That the jury feels scientific evidence is to hard to understand, and would rather consider the question of whether physical presence is required by a CEO, does not surprise me. I am surprised that they would be quoted as saying these things in a newspaper distributed worldwide.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Reasons 1,428 and 1,429 to cancel a subscription to the Post-Dispatch

Check out this tidbit noticed by Jamie Allman of 97.1 FM Talk here in St Louis. One story from the NYTimes and reprinted in the St Louis Post-Dispatch completely leaves out the fact that the US is acting as the arbiter between the Sunnis and the Shiites, making sure that the Sunnis are at the table. One gets the impression that the NYTimes or the Post-Dispatch think it's better if they can promote the idea that the US isn't "engaged" in the negotiations.

(No, direct link to the post on the station's site, so reprinted here in full):

A Tale of Two Papers and One Story: NYTimes published story. Post took it and put it into their own paper with Times bylines but WITHOUT key contextual paragraphs that would have added some understanding as to the American role in brokering peace and the Sunni role in jeopardizing it. Why did the Post excise the two important paragraphs? Deleted from Post article: "The Americans said Saturday they had given up trying to broker an agreement after days of frustrating efforts to negotiate on behalf of the minority Sunnis. "We are not going to continue to be the messenger," said a senior American official in Baghdad who declined to be identified, invoking the customary diplomatic anonymity."

** Tim Poor, a Post editor, was nice enough to give Allman and Smash in the Morning a call back to help explain the tale of two stories. Tim says the New York Times prints its version and then sends down both a full version and an abridged version. Local papers can then decide which version to use depending on space. It still doesn't explain why the abridged version aborted all semblance of positive American influence in the constitution negotiations while continuing to include less important aspects of the story. It is amazing that the THIRD paragraph of a New York Times original would be that expendable.

Then, if you need reason 1,429, you can read this smarmy editorial that is off its rockers.
IRAQ: Milestone or millstone?

IN THE FANTASY WORLD that President George W. Bush inhabits, the failure of Iraqi leaders to agree on a constitution is another inspiring milestone along the road to Iraqi democracy.
[I thought they just drafted a constitution and are sending it to referendum... what did I miss here???]

It's amazing how often these milestones whiz past. Only last week, the Iraqis' previous failure to reach agreement was hailed by the president as a "landmark." When failure is described in such soaring language, one wonders how the president would describe actual success.

Unlike January's elections, which had the desired effect of pulling Iraqis together, the constitution-drafting process has pushed them apart. Religious and ethnic groups are quarreling over oil, federalism, women's rights, the role of religion in society and the country's Arab character.
[But, they're quarreling as part of the political process - not through the use of guns. This is a remarkable achievement for the country and the region. That the Post doesn't recognize this is troubling.]

Ironically, it was Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who brought the Sunnis into the constitution-writing process - a strategy that backfired as the Sunnis scuttled the talks.


Critics of Mr. Bush's war [as opposed to the US' war on terror...] should gain no satisfaction from the mess in Baghdad. Sunni opponents of the constitution paraded in Tikrit with pictures of Saddam Hussein and denounced the constitution in anti-Semitic terms. Saddam plus anti-Semitism is a toxic mix.

We wish Mr. Bush's fantasy were reality, that failure equaled success and wrong turns were landmarks. Both Iraq and the United States would be better off if the Iraqis could reach a consensus that could tamp down the insurgency and allow for a U.S. withdrawal. But wishing does not make it so, nor can hype turn failure into success. It suggests only the depth of the president's desperation.
[Does anyone really think that the P-D wishes things turned out well in Iraq? I mean, after 2 and a half years of ankle biting, we're supposed to think that they're on-board?]

With every absurd boast, it becomes more apparent that Mr. Bush has no idea how to lead the country out of the quagmire he led it into.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Where in the World is St Wendeler?


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, August 29, 2005

More from the Crawford Front

I've got to get some work done, but the hits keep on coming...

H/T to Little Green Footballs

sunday, august 28, 2005

How Phony Can They Get?

Here’s a touching scene, featuring Cindy Sheehan and the Reverend Al Sharpton, in front of crosses, looking solemn and sad.

Now let’s zoom out and see the media swarm around this manufactured event:

(Hat tip: Bill P.)

UPDATE at 8/28/05 5:36:04 pm:

More pictures of this moving tableau at Getty Images.

Co-starring “Army Mom.”

UPDATE at 8/28/05 5:42:51 pm:

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Tawana Brawley sends her regards...

Well, look who showed up?

For those who need a reminder about the Tawana Brawley case and The Rev.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Monterey John

Is EVERYTHING Politics to the Democrats?

Stupid question, huh?

So we have had a disastrous storm on the Gulf Coast that shut down oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico. The same storm has or will shut down the REFINERY capacity in Louisiana. So now Senator Schumer wants to tap our strategic petroleum reserves. Does the good senator realize that those reserves are reserves of CRUDE oil? Does the senator realize that without the refinery capacity to process that crude oil, there is nothing that can be done with oil from the strategic reserves?

I believe that he does know that. Yet he is saying to tap the reserve to make the President's being thoughtful about the subject look bad. Just plain politics in the face of a natural disaster.

What a guy.

washingtonpost.comDemocrat urges use of oil stockpile in hurricane

Monday, August 29, 2005; 10:17 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrat Sen. Charles Schumer of New York on Monday asked the Bush administration to release oil from the U.S. emergency stockpile to help ease higher prices due to Hurricane Katrina.

"Skyrocketing gas prices have tipped consumers upside down this summer and to protect our economy, the President should act immediately to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve," Schumer said in a statement. "If there was ever a time for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to be tapped, it would be now."

The U.S. government loaned or "exchanged" some 5 million barrels of crude oil from the stockpile last year following supply disruptions caused by Hurricane Ivan. The stockpile consists of more than 700 million barrels of crude oil stored in underground salt caverns in Louisiana and Texas.

An estimated 633,000 barrels of daily crude oil production, 42 percent of the daily average output from the Gulf Coast, was halted as of Sunday because of Katrina.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Update: Looks like the President is considering doing it. I guess no harm done. I just hate to see him knuckle under to this sort of stupidity. He knows better. But I guess you need to pick your fights, and this one may not be worth it,

California Fratricide

Dateline: Other Side (Wrong Side) of the Asylum Wall

Here in California the Republicans are up to their old games, which compelled me to post a comment at California Conservative.

The Republicans are re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

Here we go again, liberal and conservative Republicans fighting among themselves within the California Republican Party.

My own politics range from Libertarian to Paleo-con depending upon the issue being dealt with. For instance, I agree with Pat Buchanan that we should never have gone into Iraq and for the same reasons, I do not think Pax Americana is a doable objective. I also agree with Buchanan that now that we are there, we have no choice but to fight it out to a successful conclusion.

When it comes to “life-style issues,” I am distinctly libertarian, so long as they are truly life-style issues. Where the impact on third parties (sorry, that’s the lawyer in me speaking)is minimal or non-existant, I do not believe a political question exists in such cases. These are questions of persuasion and not law.

So, am I a liberal or a conservative?

I think homosexuals should live anyway they like and suffer no discrimination. I also think they should not be afforded legal marriage. So what does that make me with regard to “gay rights” other than the fact that I irritated both liberals and conservatives?

I realize the issues here at this BLog are Conservative as opposed to Republican. However, to me the two are intertwined. The success of one depends upon the other.

When we mix the personal with the legal we get into these cat fight between liberals and conservatives in the Republican Party.

And that is where the Titanic metaphor is apt. The Republicans continue to make themselves irrelevant because of their tendency to form circular fiing squads. This has got to stop. We, speaking as a Republican, must stop wasting energy in this manner. When the primaries, where it is proper to fight out legitimate issues between ourselves, are over, they game is over. It is time to get on with with electing the best we can.

I think a good example of how to get things done exists here in Monterey County. The county chairman has quietly brought peace among the factions. As a result, Abel Moldonado was elected to the State Senate. An Republican African American county supervisor was elected and many other Republicans are being elected at the local and county level. A little peace goes a long way.

We have got to find the things we have in common and build upon those if we are to have any hope of becoming a factor in California politics.

It’s time to remember Reagan’s 11th commandment… to speak no evil of another Republican (at least once the primaries are over and even before the primaries, to chose words carefully so they don’t come back to haunt us during the general election).

Leave it to the Democrats to find fault with Republicans.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Monterey John

My Day is Made!!!!

Round up all the usual suspects!!! Bwa-ha-ha-ha!

If you want to see some good stories and photos, go on over to The Buzz at NRO.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

The Iraqi Constitution

It's good to see that the Iraqi constitution is heading for referendum. I think that all of the posturing by the Sunni leadership, the Sunni people will carry the day and at least one of the 4 Sunni majority areas will ratify the constitution.

Here are some key items of the Iraqi constitution which I think are important:

Article (2):

1st -- Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation:
(a) No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam. (b) No law can be passed that contradicts the principles of democracy. (c) No law can be passed that contradicts the rights and basic freedoms outlined in this constitution.

2nd -- This constitution guarantees the Islamic identity of the majority of the Iraqi people and the full religious rights for all individuals and the freedom of creed and religious practices like (Christians, Yazidis, Sabaean Mandeans.)

Article (3): Iraq is a multiethnic, multi-religious and multi-sect country. It is part of the Islamic world and its Arab people are part of the Arab nation.

My reading - Islam is official religion of the state, but freedom of religion is guaranteed. Also, Islam can be a source of law and laws cannot be passed that contradict undisputed Islamic rules and democratic principles
1st -- Arabic and Kurdish are the two official languages for Iraq. Iraqis are guaranteed the right to educate their children in their mother tongues, such as Turkomen or Assyrian (and Armenian), in government educational institutions, or any other language in private educational institutions, according to educational regulations.

People will be allowed to teach their heritage to their children. This is good news...
Article (7):

1st -- Entities or trends that advocate, instigate, justify or propagate racism, terrorism, "takfir" (Editors Note: takfir means to declare someone an infidel), sectarian cleansing, are banned, especially the Saddamist Baath in Iraq and its symbols, under any name. It will be not be allowed to be part of the multilateral political system in Iraq, which should be defined according to the law.
Article (9):

1st -- (a) The Iraqi armed forces and security apparatuses consist of the components of the Iraqi people, keeping in consideration their balance and representation without discrimination or exclusion. They fall under the command of the civil authority, defend Iraq, don't act as a tool of oppression of the Iraqi people, don't intervene in political affairs and they play no role in the rotation of power.
(b) Forming military militias outside the framework of the armed forces is banned. (c) The Iraqi armed forces and its personnel -- including military personnel working in the Defense Ministry and in any offices or organizations subordinate to it -- are not allowed to run as candidates in elections for political office. They should not engage in election campaigning for candidates and should not take part in activities forbidden by the regulations of the Defense Ministry. This ban includes the activities of the previously mentioned individuals acting in their personal or professional capacities, but does not include their right to vote in the elections.

This is all good news... no tolerance for terrorism, establishes a requirement that the military not become a tool for ethnic oppression, and forbids military personnel from entering the government. One of the major points of contention here was a ban on former Baath Party members being allowed to run for office or serve in the government. They removed the word "Party" and I suppose the argument (from the Sunni perspective which won on this one) is that someone could've been a member of the Baath Party, but not a Baathist.
Article (14): Iraqis are equal before the law without discrimination because of sex, ethnicity, nationality, origin, color, religion, sect, belief, opinion or social or economic status.

Article (15): Every individual has the right to life and security and freedom, and cannot be deprived of these rights or have them restricted except in accordance to the law and based on a ruling by the appropriate judicial body.

Article (16): Equal opportunity is a right guaranteed to all Iraqis, and the state shall take the necessary steps to achieve this.

Article (17):

1st -- Each person has the right to personal privacy as long as it does not violate the rights of others or general morality.

2nd -- The sanctity of the home is protected. They cannot be entered or searched or violated except by judicial decision and in accordance with the law.
Article (20): Citizens, male and female, have the right to participate in public matters and enjoy political rights, including the right to vote and run as candidates.
Article (36): The state guarantees, as long as it does not violate public order and morality:

1st -- the freedom of expressing opinion by all means.

2nd -- the freedom of press, publishing, media and distribution.

3rd -- freedom of assembly and peaceful protest will be organized by law.

Article (37):

1st -- Freedom to establish and belong to political organizations and parties is guaranteed, and it will be organized by law.

2nd -- No person can be forced to join or remain a member of a political party or organization.

Article (38): The freedom of communications and exchanges by post, telegraph, telephone and by electronic and other means is guaranteed. They will not be monitored or spied upon or revealed except for legal and security necessity in accordance with the law.

Article (39): Iraqis are free in their adherence to their personal status according to their own religion, sect, belief and choice, and that will be organized by law.

Article (40): Every individual has freedom of thought, conscience and ideology.

All good items...

By Natan Sharansky's test, the Iraqi constitution passes the freedom test. Of course, regardless of what is printed on the page, the key test will be in implementation. However, read the whole document - this is an amazing document from a region which has zero history of democractic insitutions.

This is truly a great day in Iraqi history... but it is just a first step in the transformation of the country and the region.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

India or China? Not a Contest!

This story is a small indication why I don't think China has better future prospects than India. While India certainly has a socialist past, they clearly have gotten the picture that free-market capitalism is the best system to raise the standard of living for their population. Their experience as the largest democracy in the world and their willingness to allow dissent means that they will innovate and grow in leaps and bounds above their neighbors to the northwest.

All that goodwill, however, isn't paying off. Murdoch was testing the legal boundaries in China, where foreign TV broadcasters cannot distribute their programming without government permission. Uniformed officers raided News Corp.'s Beijing offices in June and confiscated financial records and equipment. Calling the investigation a "big and serious case," the government is focusing on a company registered to News Corp. employees with regard to its role in leasing satellite-TV channels in China. And China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television terminated a deal that put News Corp. programming on a nationwide satellite channel based in the remote Qinghai province. Executives at Hong Kong's Star TV, a subsidiary of News Corp., declined to comment.

At some point, foreign investors like Murdoch will recognize the risk of political unrest in China (which is likely in my opinion) and either pull out or add such a risk premium to their investments that India and surrounding countries will become more attractive. And if the government is raiding your office and confiscating documents and/or forcing you to engage in a partnership with some state-owned entity, would you continue to invest in such an environment?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler