Month: October 2007

Diagnosis of a Stressed-Out Planet

Climate change is a central concern here at Levees Not War—it keeps us up late at night. The reasons are obvious: As we’ve said before, even Category 5–strength flood protection is useless if global warming raises sea levels by 10 or 20 feet or more, as scientists have warned may happen in this century. (See ‘Swiftly Melting Planet 2007,’ several posts down.) The trend can be slowed, and eventually reversed, by massive coordinated—and sustained—effort.

Lessons Learned: FEMA Staff Ask the Questions at FEMA “Press Briefing”

Deputy administrator Vice Admiral Harvey E. Johnson praised his “very smoothly, very efficiently performing team.” (For the sake of the Californians, we hope he’s right.) “And so I think what you’re seeing here is the benefit of experience, the benefit of good leadership and the benefit of good partnership, none of which were present in Katrina.” (Thanks for reminding us.)

“Let the Eagle Soar . . .”

Congressional Budget Office figures released Wednesday, Oct. 24, estimate that total spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan “and other activities related to the war on terrorism” may amount to between $1.2 trillion and $1.7 trillion through fiscal year 2017. Counting interest (we’re fighting on borrowed money), the costs over the next decade could reach $2.4 trillion. The costs may go higher. Iraq alone accounts for $1.9 trillion, including about $564 million in interest. This latest estimate is more than 40 times higher than the Bush administration’s initial (2003) estimates of about $50 billion. The CBO’s projection assumes that 75,000 troops will still be in Iraq ten years from now.

The Picayune Has Friends, Indeed

The Friends of the Times-Picayune fund-raiser last night at the Time-Life Building on Avenue of the Americas was quite a success—and a taste of home, with dee-licious hors d’oeuvres and music by Henry Butler (classic in his purple suit) and Davell Crawford. Mr. John Huey of Time Inc. welcomed everyone and pledged that Time will keep the spotlight on New Orleans and vicinity.

Blind Justice and Verschärfte Vernehmung: Sullivan Sees “War Criminals in the White House”

Sullivan and Marty Lederman at Balkinization have fittingly harsh judgments on what today’s New York Times article “Secret U.S. Endorsement of Severe Interrogations” tells us about the Bush Justice Department’s blind eye toward torture. (“A place of inspiration” is how former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales described DOJ.) Lederman, who worked many years at Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, writes:

In Memoriam – Harry Lee, Sheriff of Jefferson Parish 1980-2007

With respects and condolences to the family and many admirers of Sheriff Harry Lee of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana-the second-longest-serving sheriff in the parish’s history and an extraordinary politician even by Louisiana standards. Mr. Lee lost a five-month battle with leukemia on Monday, Oct. 1. He was 75. The son of Chinese immigrants, Lee was born in the back room of his family’s laundry on Carondelet Street in 1932. He was a protégé of the late U.S. congressman Hale Boggs. Regularly outspoken, often controversial, sometimes impolitic, but always reelected (in 1994 his approval rating was 84 percent), Harry Lee served seven terms.