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The Chief of Disaster Recovery for Louisiana is Where?

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From’s AP feed:

NEW YORK — Emergency officials who prepared Louisiana’s plan for responding to a major hurricane never guessed that one of their duties would be to protect aid workers from gunmen, one of the state’s senior disaster officials said Monday.

Speaking at a symposium in New York, Arthur Jones, chief of disaster recovery for Louisiana’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said he was caught off guard by the violence in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina….

“That’s never been in any plan,” Jones said in an interview following his speech to the emergency response officials at the symposium. “Unfortunately, in the future, it will have a place at the table.”

Jones took time off from his disaster recovery duties Monday to participate in the symposium on emergency preparedness sponsored by New York Downtown Hospital. The event was planned months before Katrina hit.

Good to know that things are under sufficient control in Louisiana that the state’s chief of disaster recovery has time to appear at a symposium in New York. If his judgment is so faulty as to think it made sense to leave the state to attend a panel discussion, is it any wonder that the preparedness effort was so, well, unprepared?

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Calling for Justice McConnell?

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Today’s federal court decision striking down the Pledge of Allegiance as a violation of the Establishment Clause opens a door for President Bush to approach a podium accompanied by 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Michael McConnell and say something like the following:

For the past few weeks we have seen Americans suffering mightily, and we have seen tens of millions of Americans responding to that suffering with tremendous generosity. Much of that generosity has flowed through the vast network of America’s churches and synagogues, and millions of helping hands will be there to rebuild not just this month or next, or even next year, but for as long as it takes. The compassion that animates the vast majority of these volunteers flows from their understanding of God’s love for them and the world. They want to express and share that love. From the time of our founding to the present, we are a religious people, deeply committed to the idea of “one nation under God.”

We are also an incredibly tolerant and welcoming people, and have always opened our country to people of all beliefs and none at all. We will continue to do so, and to count them our fellow citizens in full. A pluralistic society must work overtime to accomodate all faiths and those of no faith, but the answer to the questions of how to fashion that accomodation is not to expel God from our public life. That was clearly not the intent of the Framers, and for most of our history, the courts of America did not embrace such a severe rejection of our widespread belief in a creator God.

Lamentably, though, the courts of America, in struggling to match the words of the Establsihment Clause to the realities of a pluralistic society have stumbled down some very wrong roads, and the result was seen in the recent decision of a federal district court in the Ninth Circuit in striking down the Pledge of Allegiance as unconstitutional, a decision rejected by overwhelming majorities of Americans. The Constitution is not so complex a document that voters do not know its intent, and they know its intent was not to ban the sentiments expressed in the Pledge from recitation in our classrooms. Indeed, to ban the Pledge is to ban the Declaration of Independence, and presidential proclamations from 1789 forward to this day. It is an absurd result.

The Supreme Court must and does deal with a great number of crucial issues, but none can be seen as more important than resolving these longstanding issues within a coherent, practical and understandable framework of decisions.

Standing next to me is my nominee for the vacancy on the United States Sypreme Court, Judge Michael McConnell. Legal scholars know him already. The Senate knows him and confirmed him with an overwhelming vote. Like John Roberts, he has made many successful appearances before the United States Supreme Court to argue many cases. He is widely admired as a good, decent, thoughtful man of great integrity.

He is also widely regarded as one of the country’s leading experts on the religion clauses of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Though I do not know how Judge McConnell will rule on any particular case or controversy including the Pledge case, and would not ask him how he would rule, or expect him to answer how he would rule on a particular case, I do believe he would bring a unique and vitally needed perspective and learning to a Supreme Court struggling to make sense of its precedents and of the role of faith in our country’s past and its future.

Judge McConnell would bring wide learning and appropriate temperment to the Supreme Court, and I think he would also bring to the discussions with his colleagues the sort of insight and learning that they would find helpful as they worked collaboratively to chart a new path in this vitally important and symbolic era.

Judge McConnell is a judge’s judge, and a scholar’s scholar. As with my nomination of John Roberts, I weighed carefully the background and training as well as the reputation of many fine jurists and lawyers in reaching my decision on whom to nominate. I am confident I have made the right choice. I am confident that a fair hearing will lead to Judge McConnell’s rapid confirmation. I urge the Senate to move expeditiously to seat Judge McConnell before November is upon us.

Let the Senate Democrats filibuster the country’s leading expert on the religion clauses.

In The Democrats’ Huddle

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First, visit and register every organization in need of help in the recovery region.

When Senator Leahy pulls the Judiciary Committee Democrats together this morning, do you think he might say something like “Alright, folks, let’s try and not make complete asses of ourselves again. That goes double for you Joe. Stay away from sports analogies and Schumer, for goodness sakes, leave the twenty-year old references to amigos out of it. I’ll try and not slur my words if you’ll let him finish a sentence Ted. Alright, go out there and show the world that at least one of us knows what we are talking about!”

Probably not, but he should. Long ago Lileks remarked on Senatitus, a peculiar condition affecting members of the “greatest deliberative body in the world” that leaves them wholly unaware of their buffoon quotient, which is high even when in recess, and never higher than when preening on national television.

I confess, I am addicted to Slow Joe Biden. If he comes on the tube, I have to stop and stare, like every driver crawling past an overturned semi with ambulances and firetrucks and stretchers everywhere. Biden is quite simply the only cartoon with flesh I have ever seen, a wholly ridiculous fellow, but one who is completely unaware of his own absurdity. When I learned yesterday of his extraordinary record in law school, the picture grew even more complete. Smarmy. Obsequious. Thin-skinned.

Please, please, please run for president Joe.

Schumer is a close second –far, far smarter than Biden, and if anything his superior in ego as well. Schumer is nearly as compelling a small town political dinner theater show as Biden, but Biden is the champ. And we get more today, and another nominee in the wings.

Speaking of Lileks, he’s on jury duty. Now, counsel, how would you like that face to show up in your box? I am hoping some Twin Cities sharpie is reading this and asks during voir dire about Hummels and Chuck E. Cheese.

So Jarvis says good things about the new CBS blogger, and I wander over, willing to give anyone a try. What do I find? Why, praise of CBS journalists!

[F]or the most part, reporters have remained calm, balanced and unemotional even in the face of the most unspeakable circumstances. They’ve hidden their outrage beneath a veneer of objectivity. They’ve seemed, to many observers at times, not quite human.

Katrina was different.

“When you see people suffering the way they were ‘” especially when you’re in America ‘” it’s hard not to put your heart on your sleeve,” says CBS Chief White House Correspondent John Roberts, who anchored the CBS Evening News’ Katrina coverage from New Orleans. “The complete failure of the federal response effort provoked outrage in people who are normally impartial observers. I don’t think we should start pointing fingers, but I think we can reflect the sense of outrage on the ground and how that outrage affected us.”

Then he gets really edgy, quoting the boss at CBS news:

We’d like to highlight one example of CBS News taking a harder line than viewers have come to expect. During a special report on Katrina on Sept. 6, ’48 Hours’


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