Headingley 1981, Oval 2005

by Harry on September 6, 2005

Via Norm, a piece by Mike Brearley, who understands why cricket is thrilling and why this test series in particular has been so gripping. But he perpetuates a myth about Headingley 1981, that I want to kill. He says:

The comparison is no doubt indecent, but nevertheless valid: people remember where they were on the last day at Headingley, 1981, just as those of us who are old enough remember where we were when we heard of John F Kennedy’s assassination, or the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Well, I do remember where I was on the last day of Headingley 1981. But that is incidental. What I really remember is where I was in the final session of the Saturday when first Dilley, and then Botham, truned a hopeless situation into one in which you started to fantasize about what eventually happened. I suspect Brearley remembers the last day better because, though he never says it, it was a day when a captain won a match.

Anyway, if you’ve got a TV, watch it tomorrow [or the day after, if you are reading this on Tuesday — thanks Chris] for Benaud. If you have a ticket, or can steal one, go for Warne. And pity the rest of us.

Witt Associates and IEM

by Henry Farrell on September 6, 2005

I received the following rather short and non-specific press release yesterday, a result, I presume, of my previous “post”:https://crookedtimber.org/2005/09/02/3741/ on Innovative Emergency Management. Clearly, James Lee Witt and company are looking to disassociate themselves from IEM. I have no specific knowledge of what their relationship was; I suspect that there’s an interesting story here, but your guess is as good as mine as to what it involves.


bq. In May of 2004, IEM included James Lee Witt Associates, LLC in their proposal to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for developing a FEMA Catastrophic Plan for Southeast Louisiana and the New Madrid Seismic Zone.

bq. After the proposal was submitted to FEMA, James Lee Witt Associates was not approached again by IEM, nor did JLWA have any involvement whatsoever in the project.


by Harry on September 6, 2005

I was lucky enough to attend part of the Kidbrooke School celebrations in July, though mainly in order to have my children see my dad speak while he is in his prime. Now BBC Radio 4 has come up with what promises to be a brilliant history of the Comprehensive School. Highlights from the first, rivetting, show include the story of how London County Council officials were impressed by comprehensive schooling in the States (see, European leftists do learn things from the US), the story of Stewart Mason’s experiment in Tory Leicestershire (he had the sneaky idea of calling all the comprehensive schools Grammar Schools, though his reform had the undesirable side-effect of inventing the middle school) and an exemplary media performance by my esteemed former colleague David Crook. They get the history just about right, but more impressively the show really gives the texture of the debates and the experience of people whose lives were affected by the reforms. Radio at its best. Future episodes promise interviews with Kenneth Baker, Roy Hattersley, John O Farrell and one Tim Brighouse (wonder what he’ll say).

Documenting the atrocities

by Henry Farrell on September 6, 2005

Risa Wechsler at “Cosmic Variance”:http://cosmicvariance.com/2005/09/06/white-house-excludes-epa-from-hurricane-response-task-force/:

bq. The White House has convened a Cabinet-level task force in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that does not include EPA … One source with the government watchdog group OMB Watch says the administration was “short sighted by not including [EPA] right away,” saying it is likely that toxic material, human waste and other contaminants released as as a result of the hurricane are polluting the area and threatening public health. The source speculates that the White House excluded EPA from the task force because of a fear that agency staff may find politically damaging information, similar to what happened in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, when EPA was critical of the administration’s response to the environmental contamination caused by the terrorist attacks.

Laura Rozen at “War and Piece”:http://www.warandpiece.com/blogdirs/002529.html:

bq. This is incredible. The Bush administration and FEMA have been encouraging Katrina donations to a supposed charity called “Operation Blessing,” headed by Rev. Pat Robertson. Many people pointed this out, in recent days. But what’s truly shocking is that it has been well documented that Robertson’s Operation Blessing diverted charity funds during the Rwandan genocide to bring in diamond mining equipment for a Robertson-headed mining corporation to Zaire.

“Suzanne Nossel”:http://www.democracyarsenal.org/2005/09/rebuilding_new_.html …

bq. Call me paranoid, but if Iraq is any indication, there’s good reason to be concerned to ensure that the devastation of New Orleans does not wind up simply lining the pockets of contractors with deep connections to the Bush Administration. For the reconstruction of Iraq, exigencies like the need for speed and the lack of security on the ground were used to justify granting massive, long-term no bid contracts to firms with tight ties to senior members of the Administration. The principal beneficiary was, of course, Halliburton, where Dick Cheney was CEO prior to becoming Vice President.

meet “Josh Marshall”:http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2005_09_04.php#006422:

bq. The White House is already laying the groundwork for centralizing all authority over contracting within the executive branch, which for all intents and purposes means the White House. No oversight. No transparency. Halliburton ready at the trough. Like a friend of mine said earlier this evening, it really is going to be the biggest slush fund of all time.

Failing miserably

by Henry Farrell on September 6, 2005

Genuine conservative Greg Djerejian “on the response to Katrina”:http://www.belgraviadispatch.com/archives/004741.html:

bq. [a lack of accountability] has become standard operating procedure with this Administration. Colossal missteps are made (no serious attention paid to what might happen if the levees were breached, no thought of moving to expeditiously evacuate the Superdome, no apprecation that basic law and order might be grossly imperiled if the city became submerged in floodwaters, no contingency planning for an insurgency in Iraq, no appreciation of the full ramifications of tossing aside the Geneva Conventions) and time and again there is a staggering lack of accountability. Well, here at B.D. we’re sick of the empty bear hugs and cutesy nicknames, the circle the wagons damage control mentality, cheap ass-covering and rampant buck-passing, the guitar-strumming and talk of Trent Lott’s porch looking all antebellum swell post reconstruction and Kennebunkport ‘let them move to Texas’ insouciance. Above all else, B.D is sick of the sheer spectacle of grim incompetence that humiliated this nation as New Orleans descended into mayhem reminiscent of wartime Haiti or Liberia–with hundreds if not thousands perhaps needlessly dying because of government ineptitude (though the human toll would be immense even if the planning and governmental reaction had been far superior). There was massive culpability, to be sure, at the local and state level as well. But, make no mistake, the federal response during the first week was grotesquely amateur. Particularly with FEMA, of course, but also at the now so risibly named Department of Homeland Security. The government failed in its most fundamental duty–ensuring the basic physical safety of its citizens. And it failed miserably. Does anyone have confidence that, tomorrow say, if Tulsa or Peoria or Dallas or Chicago where attacked by a chemical or biological weapon–that our government would be able to mount an effective response? I certainly don’t. After all, the government knew a Category 4 or 5 was about to slam into New Orleans. There won’t be any such warning issued by al-Qaeda, of course.

Steyn on Katrina

by Chris Bertram on September 6, 2005

OK, I know that there are people who think that we shouldn’t lower ourselves to engage with the likes of Mark Steyn, but I did post a few days ago about “his previously-expressed”:https://crookedtimber.org/2005/09/02/what-they-said-or-social-disasters-iii/ view that “natural” disasters reveal the shortcomings of the societies and political institutions they happen to. So I’ve been looking out for his reponse to Katrina and “in today’s Telegraph”:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2005/09/06/do0602.xml&sSheet=/opinion/2005/09/06/ixopinion.html he lets us have it. Sure there’s a lot of Bushite spin about how the local politicians are really the ones to blame. But Steyn finally distills the essence of his view:

bq. Welfare culture is bad not just because, as in Europe, it’s bankrupting the state, but because it enfeebles the citizenry, it erodes self-reliance and resourcefulness.

So there we have it. The lavish benefits showered on the poor of Louisiana (how the Dutch, French and Germans must envy them!) have eroded their resourcefulness.