Category Archives: News

Kristol is on Crack

William Kristol has as usual missed the mark again with his recent op-ed in the Times (Both Sides Now – Op-Ed –  He starts off well with

I’m now a disestablishmentarian. I’ve come to believe that, to (loosely) paraphrase Jefferson, the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the wreckage of torpedoed establishments and the shards of overturned conventional wisdom. The good news is that 2008 has been a thoroughly refreshing year.

He then wanders aimlessly into the Republican talking points including

Meanwhile, the Republican Party … chose as its nominee a troublemaker who was George W. Bush’s main challenger in 2000 and his sharp critic for much of his administration. John McCain wasn’t on particularly good terms with either the G.O.P. establishment or the leaders of the conservative movement — yet he won.

and on the selection of Palin

The media establishment was horrified. Its members expressed their disapproval. Palin became more popular. They got even more frustrated.

This is the line of reasoning that the Republicans are using to push the McCain/Palin ticket.  McCain has had to turn in his “maverick” credentials when  he has done a 180 on all major policy issues on which he disagreed with Bush and the neoconservatives (tax policy, immigration, torture).

And what to say about Sarah Palin.  The more we learn about her the more she looks like W with lipstick!  Her ability to cover for her complete lack of independent knowledge about the complexity of the modern international world with cute one liners (“I won’t blink”) is eerily reminiscent of Bush.  Why do you need to understand the underlying geopolitical strata, when you can intuit what is “right” (or be told by God) and threaten anyone who disagrees with the label of “un-patriotic” for domestic foes, and unilateral military action for international ones.

I agree with Mr. Kristol that we are potentially seeing “one of America’s periodic political and cultural awakenings.”  But trying to cast McCain/Palin in that role is like, how can I say it …. , putting lipstick on a pig.

Houston decides to stare down Ike instead of leave

An AP article points out that Houston has made the decision to NOT evacuate in the face of hurricane Ike.  The spector the the botched Rita evacuaton in 2005, where 100 people lost their lives:

But three days before landfall, Rita bloomed into a Category 5 and tracked toward the city. City and Harris County officials told Houstonians to hit the road, even while the population of Galveston Island was still clogging the freeways. It was a decision that proved tragic: 110 people died during the effort, making the evacuation more deadly than the eventual Category 4 storm, which killed nine.

I hope that this decision won’t come back to haunt Houston officials.  They are really in a no win situation, as any deaths in an evacuation, or any deaths now, among people who were told not to evacuate will be blamed on them.

To compound matters, Ike will likely have a storm surge to rival or even surpass Katrina.  Top wind speed is not the best predictor of total storm damage.  Most hurrican damage is tidal surge damage not direct wind damage.  Storm surge is not product of max wind speeds, but of wind speed integrated over the total area of the storm.  Ike has tropical storm force winds, and hurricane force winds that extend out further from the storm center than Katrina did.  See this blog entry by Jeff Masters at for an excellent discussion.

The amount of water Ike has put in motion is about 50% greater than what Katrina did, and thus we can expect Ike’s storm surge damage will be similar to or greater than Katrina’s. The way we can estimate this damage potential is to compute the total energy of Ike’s surface winds (kinetic energy). To do this, we must look at how strong the winds are, and factor in the areal coverage of these winds.