Saturday, August 6, 2011

Follow Up to Missouri River Flooding Post

I wanted to post a follow up to my earlier post so that readers can better understand the mind-boggling magnitude of this event. Here is a gallery of pictures of the flooding:

It is truly huge and I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that hundreds of thousands of people have been adversely affected. The victims are generally not wealthy people with expensive riverfront properties, whining because they don't have flood insurance. Many, if not most, are rural or lower middle class working people who live in small homes or even trailer parks. The businesses are not big box retailers but convenience stores and restaurants located near the river or interstate, who struggle in the best of times. In addition, many of the locations are not considered to be in the Missouri River flood plain, but as in the case of my family members, miles from the river itself.

I personally know two families that have been driven from their homes since June. My afore-mentioned relatives are living in a travel trailer for the foreseeable future. They, along with their neighbors, spent their own money to build a temporarly levee around their houses, and moved nearly all of their belongings into storage for the duration of the flood. So far their homes are dry but are still threatened and considered too dangerous to occupy. The other family, fortunately, has not seen their home inundated, but their access road is underwater, and they are renting a place to live in until they can return.

These are just two examples out of thousands. Some of those impacted have stayed in their houses, although their basements are full of water and mold. Council Bluffs in particular is home to many poor working-class people who are being severely stressed by the flooding.

It is difficult to understand why this story has not become prominent in the national media given its scope and the amount of money it is costing ordinary families.

Nowhere To Turn For Victims of Months-long, Government-caused Disaster

You may be forgiven for not knowing much about the catastrophic Missouri River flooding that has caused billions of dollars in damage, closed interstate highways for months, and driven thousands of people from their homes. The only time it garnered national attention was when it appeared that a local nuclear power plant might be damaged by floodwaters. A cynical person might wonder if the national media was hoping for a dangerous radiation leak, in order to highlight the risks of nuclear energy. Fortunately, no catastrophe resulted from that incident, since the plant was already shut down.

Flooded farms and businesses

It all started in early June, when the Army Corps of Engineers anounced that it would be increasing water releases from dams located upstream, in Montana and South Dakota, to up to three times the normal flows. The releases were needed to accommodate heavy rainfall upstream, as well as higher than normal snowmelt. Residents of affected areas were warned to evacuate their homes, including some of my family members who live six miles from the river (their location was threatened by nearby creeks backing up since normal flows into the Missouri would be prevented by the high water levels). Evacuees were instructed to prepare for months of living away from their homes, and indeed, the high water is just now beginning to recede. As you might expect, the prospect of abandoning one's home for several months is disruptive to say the least. Many homeowners removed all furnishings from their homes, as well as ripping out drywall and carpet on lower levels, to minimize mold and damage caused by standing water.

In addition to the thousands of individual victims of the flooding, cities and towns along the Missouri have been forced to spend millions of dollars shoring up levees that were never intended to hold up under months of elevated water levels. Parks and businesses have closed due to being cut off by floodwaters. The Omaha airport, Eppley Airfield, has fortified surrounding levees and drilled over 70 wells from which to pump out groundwater that threatens its runways. The City of Omaha has installed several gigantic pumps to empty water from storm sewers over its floodwall into the river, in order to prevent widespread street flooding.

Pumps moving water from storm sewers into the river in Omaha

Interstate 29 has been closed since June north and south of Council Bluffs, Iowa, necessating detours of up to 30 miles for area traffic. Missouri River crossings at several Nebraska, Missouri, and Iowa towns have also been closed, causing great inconvenience and financial harm to businesses located near the crossings.

Interstate 29 north of Council Bluffs, Iowa

Now comes the news that FEMA has denied individual assistance to flood victims in Iowa. According to the linked article, at least 582 homes must be destroyed in order for areas to qualify for disaster assistance. Most likely there will be a number greatly in excess of that, but since there are many homes still inundated which are currently inaccessable, final assessments can't be completed in a timely manner.

Granted, we never had national news stories of people standing on their roofs, crying out for help from the government. Instead, we had neighbors helping neighbors and a can-do, self-sufficient attitude. Almost anyone with a pickup truck was offering help to those forced from their homes. We had thousands of volunteers filling millions of sandbags to reinforce our levees, and responsible precautions that have saved lives and minimized flood damage. Nevertheless this disaster, directly caused by actions of federal agencies, has resulted in untold expense to individuals, businesses, states, and municipalities. Why now is our request for assistance denied by the very people who caused it?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

We are well and truly meeped

I was just going to let this blog die a peaceful death but I can't let a recent gem from Andrew Sullivan go by without notice.

In this post, he is commenting on some gibberish from Kevin Drum, who doesn't like the Libyan invasion (but still trusts Obama because he, Kevin, realizes that Obama is obviously smarter than him), Andrew says,
This sums up my position exactly as well. I have criticized what I regard as a foolish decision because I support this president and passionately want him to succeed.... But whenever he meep meeps me, I don't feel humiliation. Just relief. I remain of the view that we are damn lucky to have him at this fraught moment in history, and that his decisions often look better in the rear-view mirror. 
I don't understand how after Andrew's bitter disappointment in Obama over the last few days, he would still say that we're not just lucky, but damn lucky to have him.

I was never sure exactly what "meep meep" meant but now Andrew has cleared that up for me. Thanks, Andrew!

Meep meep!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Gadsden Flag Redesign

Yay! Professor Althouse posted my versions here!

"It's For the Children" is, in my opinion, one of the most nefarious phrases ever invented, the rallying cry of power-mad statists everywhere.

"Shovel-Ready" kind of speaks for itself.

No Reason To "Withdraw the Claim"

Andrew Sullivan throws down the gauntlet this week, challenging Megan McArdle to provide evidence that Jared Loughner could have been influenced just as easily by Andrew's own writings as by those of the "right," including of course that nefarious person, Sarah Palin.

This post may be a little hard to follow at times due to the he-said/she-said nature of the narrative. For the record, I don't think Loughner was influenced by anyone except the voices in his head. His worldview was so bizarre that there is really no consistency in it whatsoever, and to label it as "left" or "right" is an exercise in futility. I went through some of his material posted on Above Top Secret and it makes no sense at all.

Andrew: "Megan takes issue with this post on Loughner:"

Megan: "Andrew's defense seems to be that there are a lot of right wing jerks out there, and that by combing Loughner's writing, he can find a few sentences here and there that sort of sound like things that might have been said by one of those right wing jerks. But I'm pretty sure that if I combed Loughner's writing, I could find some sentences here and there that imply that Loughner read Andrew's writing, or gay rights literature, or Edmund Burke."

Andrew: "Really? Go ahead. Make my day. Or withdraw the claim."

(The "this post" that Andrew is referring to is this one:

Andrew: "So far, the paranoia and conspiracy theories dominate - but they also dominate the atmosphere of the far right. And when a mentally ill young man complains of the "Broken United States Constitution", or regards legal tender as illegitimate “I did not pay with gold and silver!”, some of this nuttiness has penetrated. It didn't come from nowhere. And the critical point from the very beginning was not that Loughner was some kind of trained militia member killing a foe, but a mentally unstable person who, because he is mentally unstable, might be susceptible to extreme rhetoric from authority figures.")

One of Loughner's favorite books: "Gulliver's Travels"

The crazed internet rantings of Jared Loughner

Andrew: Gulliver in Afghanistan

Gulliver in Afghanistan

Loughner: too many incoherent rantings about "currency" and/or "gold & silver" to need citation

Andrew's endorsement of Ron Paul, an advocate of a return to the "gold standard"

Go Ron Paul!

Loughner: "Therefore, Iraq and Afghanistan war of 2010 is a war crime from the Geneva Convention articles of 1949."

Jared Loughner's Anti-War Views

Andrew: "It [the Iraq war] was, in many ways, a crime."

Shrugging at Torture

I see no reason for McArdle to withdraw her claim.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Andrew Refudiates Himself

This week, among the many wondrous, logic-free emanations from the towering intellect that is Andrew Sullivan, we find this post:

How Many Likudniks Can You Quote In One Article?

Amusingly, the post contains the following two phrases:
There is not a single quote from a single Palestinian in the entire piece
There is one - count it, one - quote from the Palestinians
I guess the Atlantic's blog software does not include a "preview" function, or else Andrew just doesn't read what he writes before posting it.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Why Willow Palin Might Be "Homophobic" - Exhibit A

This week Andrew Sullivan goes after 16-year-old Willow Palin, who had the audacity to call someone a "faggot" on Facebook.

Take a moment to digest the earth-shattering news that teenagers call each other "faggots." OH THE HUMANITY!

Have you collected yourself now? Ready to read on? While I don't condone the use of "gay" or "faggot" as casual insults, it is unfortunately very common. Andrew, however, suggests that young Willow, by the use of these terms, might cause young homosexuals to commit suicide.

Seriously? When Christopher Hitchens called Andrew a "lesbian" on national TV, I don't recall him suggesting that this would motivate young lesbians to kill themselves; rather he suggested that some people need to get a sense of humor.

Also, I seem to recall Obama denigrating his bowling performance as worthy of the "Special Olympics," and Rahm Emanuel's use of "retarded" as a pejorative, but Andrew's concern apparently does not extend to the possibility of suicidal ideation in the cognitively impaired.

May I suggest that Andrew needs to get a grip? For an adult Harvard graduate to attack a sixteen-year-old girl in this way is truly demented, no matter who the girl's mother is.

If Willow Palin is "homophobic" it is surely the result of encounters with people like Andrew Sullivan. Who wouldn't be afraid of someone that behaves this way?