What is left of Federalism?

I was just listening to a CSPAN radio presentation of the Senate hearing this last week on aid to Hurricane Katrina victims. What struck me was how on every issue from education to health care, it was automatically assumed that the job was the Federal government's in helping out the victims. One of the things that I am worried about is that with the current debate, local and state governments may view themselves as having no incentive to bearing the costs of preparing for any disasters. It is interesting how someplace that does such a bad job as New Orleans, rather than creating a call for them to fix things, has created a massive movement to have the Federal government take over all the operations (even while Democrats and Republicans are claiming that the Federal government botched it).


Ultimate resource for Supreme Court Confirmations

For those judicial confirmation junkies interested in one of the ultimate resources for Supreme Court confirmations, try this: Supreme Court Nominations - Documents Collection

More on the increase in demand for guns after the hurricane

Gun dealers in Houston and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where thousands of evacuees were sent after Hurricane Katrina, say sales are rising amid concern about a spread of lawlessness from the storm-ravaged areas.

``People are concerned about not having much law and order in place, depending on where they are going,'' said Michael Clark, owner of Collectors Firearms in Houston.

Reports of looting, robberies, rapes and murders in New Orleans, where at least 200 police officers quit and two committed suicide since the Aug. 29 storm hit the Gulf Coast, have fed the demand. Thousands of evacuees were stranded in the flooded city for days after the storm. Others watched images of crime and desperation on television.

``You have a population who wants to go back to their houses -- you hear about looting -- and they want to get some sort of firearm to go back for their personal safety,'' said Jim McClain, president of Jim's Firearms Inc. in Baton Rouge.

New Orleans police are among the new customers at Jim's Firearms, where employees are working 16-hour days to keep up with demand, McClain said. Police have been authorized to use personal guns and ammunition and are buying whatever's available, he said. Mclain declined to give a specific increase in sales.

`Whatever He Needs'

``A New Orleans police officer came in, and he's looking for a shotgun to bring down there, and we're sold out of everything except the really expensive guns,'' McClain said. ``A lady looks at him and says `Whatever he needs, I'll take care of it,' They're wonderful people.'' . . .

Thanks to John WIlliamson and Jordan Bishop for alerting me to this piece.

Private Relief Agencies Banned from New Orleans: One reason why there was so much suffering in New Orleans


"New Orleans Begins Confiscating Firearms"

Interview on NPR's Marketplace Radio to discuss Hurricane Relief

NPR's Marketplace interviewed me this morning for a segment that they ran on giving the victims of Hurricane Katrina a $2,000 debit card. The segment can be found here: "Refugees to get some plastic"


SHOW: Marketplace Morning Report 7:50 AM EST SYND

September 8, 2005 Thursday

LENGTH: 274 words

HEADLINE: How to get aid money to hurricane victims




SCOTT JAGOW, anchor:

Getting the money to Katrina victims.

How to get aid money to hurricane victims MARKETPLACE MORNING REPORT Announcer: The MARKETPLACE MORNING REPORT is produced in association with theUniversity of Southern California.

JAGOW: From American Public Media in Los Angeles, I'm Scott Jagow.

Right now the emergency management agency FEMA is spending $2 billion a day on hurricane relief. That's well over a million dollars a minute. President Bush authorized another $52 billion yesterday to get through the coming month. The pace will slow down, but the government's already committed about the same amount of money it's spending in Iraq each year.

OK, so there's all this money. How will Katrina victims get their hands on some of it? One answer: Debit cards. Here's MARKETPLACE's Stacey Vanek-Smith.


After getting a lot of flak for what many called an inadequate response to Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA announced a novel plan: They will distribute ATM cards worth $2,000 in places like the Houston Astrodome. John Lott is with the American Enterprise Institute. He says the plan could work well because people know best what they need. But, he says, there is major potential for abuse, such as people pretending to be evacuees. Whatever happens, he says, it could be a valuable lesson in disaster response.

Mr. JOHN LOTT (American Enterprise Institute): We'll have a better idea of what people feel they need when they're in this situation or how poorly off people really are by seeing what they sign on.

VANEK-SMITH: Lott says the cards could allow the government to track how the money is spent. I'm Stacey Vanek-Smith for MARKETPLACE

LOAD-DATE: September 8, 2005

A look at the human side of Justice William Rehnquist

Ted Cruz has a very nice op-ed on the personal side of Justice Rehnquist in today's Baltimore Sun. It is well worth a read.

After New Orleans, a liberal reconsiders guns for self protection

Time to get a gun?

Along with our powerlessness against nature and the fecklessness of the government's response to a crisis, a third frightening aspect to the tragedy of New Orleans has been the breakdown of civilization in the disaster zone that accompanied the snapping of the so-called thin blue line.

Among the questions it prompts in my mind is one that is old and unresolved: Should I own a firearm?

Thirteen years ago, when Los Angeles was up for grabs during the rioting that followed the acquittal of police officers charged in the Rodney King beating, the images of shopkeepers unprotected by police staving off looters with rifles knocked me off my comfortable anti-gun perch. Who wouldn't want a firearm under those circumstances? And who knows where such circumstances will occur next?

It's hard to bring this up again without sounding like one of those cackling vigilantes who would gladly shoot someone swiping a bicycle out of his carport, or one of those basement-bunker survivalists besotted by paranoia.

I resisted back in 1992 and still rely on 9-1-1 and a pitching wedge under the bed to protect my family. But the rapid descent from crisis to chaos to anarchy in New Orleans was another reminder that paranoia can come to look like prudence in hindsight.


Sonya has a new webpage of her own

Witty as always, even the title of the website gives you a good a idea of what you can expect (Sonya's Gotta Scream!). I am sure that it will definitely worth a visit.

Gun Purchases Rising in Louisiana After Hurricane

The Financial Times (London) is not exactly comfortable with this, but they do report that people are depending on themselves for at least some of their protection:

The E-Z Pawn store on Airline Drive in northern Baton Rouge is doing a brisk trade in guns post-Hurricane Katrina.

“I’ve got people like you wouldn’t believe, lots of people, coming in and buying handguns,” said Briley Reed, 34, assistant manager. “I’ve even had soldiers coming in here buying guns.”

Before the hurricane, the store sold one or two guns on a typical day, according to Mr Reed. During the last week, they have sold 10 to 15 a day. The model of choice is a 9mm Highpoint that sells for $200 (£108.50).

The activity at E-Z Pawn is a testament to Louisiana’s liberal gun laws. More than that, it is a barometer of the anxiety coursing through Baton Rouge as the city copes with thousands of refugees – the vast majority poor and black – streaming in from New Orleans. . . .

I would like to thank John Williamson for sending this link to me.

Gun advice for New Orleans-type situations

A friend of mine, Don Kates, offers some advice on what is the best gun to own if you ever found yourself in a situation such as New Orleans:

GENERAL ANSWER: The answer to the questions you have posited may vary depending on specific circumstances (some discussed below), but there is a single general answer: the gun of choice is always a handgun because that is the one weapon you can keep w/ you at all times – and in doing so you are securing it from children and anyone else you do not deem trustworthy. The preference would be not to rely on only one variety; have a handgun w/ you and a shotgun and/or rifle as closely available as possible,

A shotgun or rifle in your bedroom (or anywhere else) is of limited utility if an attack comes when you are in some other part of your home. Likewise a shotgun or rifle may be difficult to bring into play in a car – especially if there is only you and you are driving your car. If you have multiple people in the vehicle a shotgun or rifle for each may be viable but even so may be much more difficult to bring into play. If you have a pick-up truck my off-hand recommendation would be for the driver and passenger to have handguns (w/ long guns stowed behind the seat or in a rack in the event you have time to deploy out of the vehicle) and long guns for anyone who is in the bed of the truck, though they all should also have a holstered handgun.

As to the species of handgun, I would recommend a high-capacity semi-auto in a caliber not less than .40 S&W or, at least 9mm. There are zillions of different brands on the market that are excellent and choosing between them is either a matter of personal taste or of expertise exceeding mine. My personal experience is most extensively with the Glock and Sig-Sauer 225 in 9mm. and Sigma in .40 S&W; all of which are fine.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: If you are attacked from 100 yards or more away (a highly unlikely scenario) you will need a rifle. I have much less experience w/ these but would recommend something like the Ruger Ranch Rifle or an H&K high cap semi-auto or other quality weapon in a caliber exceeding 223.

For stopping power at short range nothing beats a shotgun loaded w/ slugs or, at worst, large buckshot. But you would only select a shotgun in the very unusual situation in which you: (a) can predict the time you will be attacked so you can be sure to have the shotgun w/ you; and (b) can predict that the attack will come from a short enough range that a shotgun is effective.


Guns used to stop crime in New Orleans 3

From the Foxnews.com:

When night falls, Charlie Hackett climbs the steps to his boarded-up window, takes down the plywood, grabs his 12-gauge shotgun and waits. He is waiting for looters and troublemakers, for anyone thinking his neighborhood has been abandoned like so many others across the city.

Two doors down, John Carolan is doing the same on his screened-in porch, pistol by his side. They are not about to give up their homes to the lawlessness that has engulfed New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

"We kind of together decided we would defend what we have here and we would stay up and defend the neighborhood," says Hackett, an Army veteran with a snow-white beard and a business installing custom kitchens.

"I don't want to kill anybody," he says, "but I'd sure like to scare 'em." . . .


Hurricane Katrina: The Disintegrating New Orleans Police Department

"The real issue, particularly in New Orleans, is that no one anticipated the disintegration or the erosion of the civilian police force in New Orleans. Once that assessment was made ... then the requirement became obvious. And that's when we started flowing military police into the theater. We were pulsing forces in in very degraded infrastructure -- airports had reduced capabilities ... in some cases we only had one road in because of lack of bridges, flooding, loss of infrastructure. So we couldn't rush to failure on this thing and we had to take a more measured approach on this thing than any of us wanted. Had we gone in with a lesser force we may have been challenged, innocents may have been caught in a fight between the guard and military police and those who did not want to be processed or apprehended."

Hurricane Katrina, a man made disaster?

The Intellectual Activist has a very interesting posting:

But this is not a natural disaster. It is a man-made disaster.

The man-made disaster is not an inadequate or incompetent response by federal relief agencies, and it was not directly caused by Hurricane Katrina. This is where just about every newspaper and television channel has gotten the story wrong.

The man-made disaster we are now witnessing in New Orleans did not happen over four days last week. It happened over the past four decades. Hurricane Katrina merely exposed it to public view.

The man-made disaster is the welfare state.

For the past few days, I have found the news from New Orleans to be confusing. People were not behaving as you would expect them to behave in an emergency—indeed, they were not behaving as they have behaved in other emergencies. That is what has shocked so many people: they have been saying that this is not what we expect from America. In fact, it is not even what we expect from a Third World country.

When confronted with a disaster, people usually rise to the occasion. They work together to rescue people in danger, and they spontaneously organize to keep order and solve problems. This is especially true in America. We are an enterprising people, used to relying on our own initiative rather than waiting around for the government to take care of us. I have seen this a hundred times, in small examples (a small town whose main traffic light had gone out, causing ordinary citizens to get out of their cars and serve as impromptu traffic cops, directing cars through the intersection) and large ones (the spontaneous response of New Yorkers to September 11).

So what explains the chaos in New Orleans? . . . [READ ON]

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