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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Modern Fable

After all, it is possible I may be mistaken; and it is but a little copper and glass, perhaps, that I take for gold and diamonds.
René Descartes (1596–1650). Discourse on Method.

Porcupine likes walking the New Fleet Street of the Blogosphere. Oh, it’s not the same as the narrow alleys I was familiar with – somewhat less manure, no decent coffeehouses – but still, the contagious symbiosis of thought and rumor is still there as in my pamphlet-making days.

Occasionally, while perambulating these cyber-streets, Porcupine is brought up short by a post on another site. Thus, while visiting the other day at the most excellent
Ogre’s Politics & Views, Porcupine was brought up short by this post:

A self-proclaimed "expert" from Duke University, with all the usual "holier than thou" attitudes and ivory tower proclamations has declared, with an expected immediate deference to his much-more-knowledgeable-than-you ruling, that mentioning that evolution might not actually be 100% correct is unconstitutional.

This is just another liberal who has decided that he knows better than you and should be obeyed at all times. He claims that mentioning anything other than his one, true religion, materialism, in government-run schools is a violation of his right to free speech because his religion (naturalism) is correct and all other religions should not be allowed in any government institution.

In a related, but underreported lawsuit, an unnamed individual has sued the state of North Carolina, demanding that the laws against murder be repealed because they are very clearly an unconstitutional infringement on religion and an establishment of religion. "The Bible clearly states that 'Thou shall not murder,'" says the lawsuit, filed today in Loon County, "so the state simply cannot have that law. It is an obvious attempt by Christians to enforce their own moral and religious rules on the rest of society."

The lawsuit continues, "In addition, this prohibition on to what
many deem to be a sacred religious right, murdering infidels, clearly prohibits law abiding citizens from exercising their own religion. If one person's religion deems that murder is required by their god, who is the state to tell them their religion is wrong?"

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on both lawsuits simultaneously, as the ruling in one lawsuit will most certainly be expected to be applied to both.

Porcupine was amazed. The logic was so clear. If God has no place on currency or in our Pledge of Allegiance, if the Ten Commandments cannot be displayed in courthouses as the foundation of our current law, then indeed, why do we have laws against murder? If Biblical injunctions against homosexuality are to be disregarded, then why are ones against theft to be enshrined in law?

Of course, such a suit is nothing more than an attempt to score an ideological point – but that’s what our court system has been reduced to in these times. Legislatures have entirely abandoned the making of important laws in favor of the passing of micromanaging statutes. ‘Button Up Your Overcoat’ used to be a popular song, but it is now more likely to be an amendment to a Medicaid budget.

The Porcupine hasn’t lost his reporting edge, however, and tried to obtain another source for this story. Google, Lexis/Nexus – all came up dry. Gritting my teeth, I wrote to my cyber-competitor in North Carolina, and told Mr. Ogre that I wished to write about this, but could not obtain any verification, and could he please send me a story so I could glean additional details.

He replied at once, “Sorry, it's total satire. Gotcha, huh?” Porcupine then asked if Ogre would allow a piece on this any way, and he replied, Feel free to! It seems to be using the exact same logic that the ACLU uses in their lawsuits.”

So, here is a cautionary tale for all of you. Hat tip, as they say, to Mr. Ogre. And wrinkled brows for the rest of us.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Who Ya Gonna Call?

It is a popular delusion that the government wastes vast amounts of money through inefficiency and sloth. Enormous effort and elaborate planning are required to waste this much money.

P.J. O’Rourke (1947 - ), U.S. journalist, Parliament of Whores (1991).

A silver lining of the Katrina Disaster is that the various writers in the Blogosphere began to work more closely with one another. After our signal achievement of raising $1,347,493 (and counting) our thoughts naturally turned to other cooperative projects.

President Bush's announcement that New Orleans would be rebuilt with Federal monies, but with no tax hikes and no delay of pending tax cuts sent a shiver through this frugal group. Conservative bloggers began to address one another. They agreed with all three of the President's premises - rebuild historic New Orleans, no new taxes and keep tax cuts. It became obvious that this was no time for business as usual, and was born.

Very simply, visit the Pork Busters page, hosted by the estimable N.Z. Bear, in cooperation with Glen Reynolds of Instapundit and commentator Hugh Hewitt. There is a state-by-state analyis of pork, with links to budget and planning documents, urging the populace to identify more, and add it to the Pork List. For instance, a favorite target is Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). His 'Bridge to Nowhere', connecting an island with 50 homes with a community of Ketchian - at a cost of $300 million. Alaska's grand total is $2,997,483,647. Massachusetts weighs in with a paltry $ 129,508,100.

This is hardly a partisan project. In fact, the only member of Congress who has agreed to sacrifice identified Pork is House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Of the Pork attributed to her influence, the only project she insisted on retaining was structural improvements to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Visit the site and poke around. The only project suggested for cuts locally is $3 million for the Cape Cod Rail Trail. Harldy in the mega-bucks category like billionaire Alaska, but still worth reexamining. The state is already paying for some improvements, and further work can be postponed until a time when we are not reeling from the impact to two major storms.

If we do want to help those devastated by hurricanes in the Gulf Coast, we need to find offsets in the Federal budget to free up necessary money. It is the conservative, fiscally responsible thing to do.

Since Congress does not seem capable of finding such cuts, it's only right we should give them a hand - since it's our money.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Risky Business

Insurance: An ingenious modern game of chance in which the player is permitted to enjoy the comfortable conviction that he is beating the man who keeps the table.
Ambrose Bierce (1842–1914), The Devil’s Dictionary (1881-1906).

They should have known better than to have lived there. Geographically, they were uniquely vulnerable to hurricane damage, yet they depended upon frail bridges and antiquated roads to evacuate people in the event of an emergency – and most knew that they wouldn’t evacuate because it was too expensive and far too difficult. There had been killer storms in the past, but for the last few decades, it had been relatively calm. In the era preceding environmental regulations, seawalls, fill and drains had changed the landscape, permitting building closer and closer to the ocean. They preferred to whistle in the dark, knowing that the major storm that would wipe them out was just a matter of time. However, it was still a major tourist destination, even internationally, and the tourists who flocked there during hurricane season had no idea that they were balancing on a razor’s edge. Hundreds of old people, some in nursing homes, were trapped in the onrushing wind and tides, and the plans to protect them were tenuous at best. Homes, businesses, roads, electricity, septic lines – all flooded, corroded by seawater and made home to mold spores. What were they thinking?

New Orleans? No, Cape Cod.

Our brave spit of sand in the Atlantic is as doomed to the onrushing tides as the city below sea level. We do not talk about evacuation plans, because we know there are no real evacuation plans.

We need to recognize one thing. Painful though it may be, we may owe an apology to the

When Andover Mutual began the exodus from the
homeowners insurance market in 2004, citing new insurance industry ‘computer models’ predicting increased hurricane activity, the loss-free policyholders of decades responded with an angry and collective, ‘Yeah, right!’. That year, four seperate slammed Florida. This year, an unprecedented Category 5 hurricane made landfall in the Gulf Coast.

It appears the computers may have been on to something.

Now, the Massachusetts Fair Plan, the state's home insurer of last resort which was forced to step into the breach, is seeking state approval for a 25% increase in the price of its standard homeowner's policy next year on Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, which would bring the average home up to around $2,000 – with wind exclusions of many thousands of dollars as part of the deductible. They now insure about 28% of the homeowners on the Cape and Islands, far beyond the intended capacity of this ‘bad risk’ agency. They are also seeking other shoreline increases, 20% in Plymouth and New Bedford, and 9.5% in Fall River. Weakly, they assert that this is a 12.9% increase statewide, but in Roxbury, Mattapan, and Dorchester, where the Fair Plan has a significant presence, a rate increase of 5.9% is being sought. In fact until the Legislature changed the formula last year (and Porcupine would give a great deal to know whose doing that was), a 5.9% increase is all that would have been permitted across the board. Why the Boston area customers are still protected by the old rate limits, while we on Cape are thrown to actuarial wolves, is not known.

We are a greater risk – but why not charge that 12.9% statewide, instead of heaping it all on us? A basic principle of insurance is to spread risk as widely as possible, inevitably overcharging some, to create a manageable pool of exposure. It’s bad enough that standard insurance companies are permitted to excise our risky area from their portfolio, but why is the ‘insurer of last resort’ also allowed to charge us more as well?

We are a terrible risk. In addition to the increase in storm activity, the increase in value of the homes insured in Barnstable County in the last 30 years has been astounding. The cost to rebuild these more expensive homes also factors into the rate calculations. Also, insurance companies must procure reinsurance to ensure that they can meet claims when they happen, and since 9/11 the reinsurance market has been drained of capacity.

What is especially disturbing is that the Fair Plan says that these rates were requested before Katrina, and even then, a 68.5% increase was warranted on the Cape based on loss exposure. They see the 25% as moderate. Imagine what it will be when Katrina is figured into the mix?

Action must be taken now to stop county-based rate increases in the Fair Plan, and force it to live up to its name. In the meantime, we need to be realistic about housing here, and recognize that we cannot continue to increase capacity without a real exit strategy. Denial is more than a river in Egypt – it’s also a breached reef in

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Business As Usual

All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions; ...I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority.
Henry David (1817–1862), On the Duty of Civil Disobedience (1849).

In 1803, I had the happy idea of transcribing the debates in the Houses of Parliament, with the thought that people might enjoy hearing the deliberations that would affect their lives, and began a regular supplement to my pamphlets called The Political Register. I continued with this until 1810, when I was jailed for objecting to a flogging of an enlisted man, and rapidly sold my franchise to Thomas Curzon Hansard in 1811, and Hansard’s is the parliamentary record to this day. My only criticism of Mr. Hansard is that he allowed members to ‘correct’ their statements – I thought the point of transcribing the debates was to catch them in intemperate remarks.

So, it was with the sensation of settling into a comfortable chair that I listened and jotted down the debate in your Massachusetts House yesterday on the subject of . As before, I do not pretend to a verbatim record, now available elsewhere thanks to me, but a record of the sense of the remarks.

Sen. Brian Lees began the Convention with a brief description of the history of the legislation, and then stated that today, he would no longer vote for his own amendment as the situation had changed so radically over the past 18 months.

Rep. Lida Harkins quoted John F. Kennedy on the absolute separation of church and state (not in the Constitution, but rather a notion of that Deist, Jefferson), Gandhi on violence, and distinguished atheist Robert Ingersoll – and we will return to that quote later.

Rep. Travis spoke as the person who first set these wheels in motion before Sen. Traviglini and Speaker Finneran amended his straightforward definition of marriage petition. He stated that he would not be voting for this amendment, but was instead pinning his faith 0n a new petition drive, recently certified by the Attorney General, which would preserve his original language, and would allow the voters to have their say in 2008. He was the only speaker to mention the electorate of the Commonwealth for most of the debate.

Sen. Augustus rose to say that Massachusetts is out of step with the rest of the nation today even as it was during the Revolution and when it was the center of Abolitionists, and that we must demonstrate our tolerance.

Rep. Byron Rushing rose to point out that marriage was a civil institution, insofar as it pertains to the state, and that “you can break all of the Ten Commandments and still get married”. Porcupine thinks that the Seventh would be difficult in that circumstance. He also pointed out that in the 1780’s, a judge ruled that the Massachusetts Constitution prohibited slavery, so when the first census was taken in 1790, Massachusetts was the only state with no slaves, based on a ONE judge vote! He did not say if there was any organized effort to oppose this decision, as there is with gay marriage. Rep. Rushing said that, “Those of us standing ready to vote against this amendment because we believe in the constitution and democracy and civil institutions - we do not need your vote to win.” Rep. Rushing did not explain how preventing the electorate from voting was a Victory for Democracy.

Rep. Loscocco rose to echo Porcupine’s sentiments of last July, and suggested that it is time to change word ‘marriage’ to ‘civil union’ across the board

Rep. Teehan rose to read a letter from Rep. Tom Kennedy, confined to a hospital bed and unable to attend (one of only two vacancies – Rep. Michael Coppola has recently died) urging his colleagues to vote against the amendment.

Sen. Barrios finally tackled the tough question and asked – why no vote? “The polls say two-thirds do not support gay and lesbian marriage. If that’s the case, it is said, let’s just have the people vote. Let’s have a campaign and have it out. Those who say let the people vote would like to spend a lot of money to make their point, commercials on TV, ads in newspapers, and political debates so they can say those 6,500 couples are different enough that we should stop the right going forward and allow no more marriages of this sort.” He stated that he is concerned that his young son would be teased and bullied during a vigorous political battle, and would have his feelings hurt. He also said, “The Constitution says electorate should not decide, but rather the legislature which should not be a rubber stamp”. It would seem there is scant danger of the Legislature acting according to the will of the electorate in Massachusetts.

A nervous Rep. Carl Scortino arose and informed the Chamber that he was honored to be one of the few ‘’ members to serve. It took Porcupine a moment to puzzle out that he meant ‘gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered’. Rep. Scortino did not inform us which quadrant he fell into. He said it was a great opportunity to have the chance to vote against the amendment.

Then, at 2:45 p.m. on May 6th, 2005, BY ROLL CALL VOTE 39 – 157 MARRIAGE AMENDMENT REJECTED. The voters of would be denied the opportunity to vote on this matter as has been done in 30 other states.

You may recall that Porcupine mentioned that we would return to Rep. Harkins’ quote from Robert Ingersoll. Looking solemnly out into the Chamber, she intoned, “I am inferior to every person whose rights I have trampled on.

Thus did Rep. Harkins confess the superiority of the Electorate of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The High Cost of 'Help'

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.
Aesop (approx. 6th Century BC)

Dieu et Mon Droit (God and My RIGHT)

That was the motto of the British monarchy in the Tudor era when a misplaced word could cost a life. It resonates with those who served under the ‘guidance’ of that first-among-equals, Senate President William Bulger, who stalked the halls of the State House as its absolute monarch for 17 years.

Après moi, Le Deluge. (After me, the Flood)

That self-important slogan sums up the cavalier attitude of the President towards his erstwhile employer, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Billy Bulger and his brother, James, have filed two court cases which could bankrupt the pension systems of cities and towns throughout the state if successful.

The $960,000 severance settlement paid to Pres. Bulger, along with other lovely parting gifts, was not enough to satisfy the voracious appetite of this Servant of the People. Mr. Bulger, who resigned under fire after seven and a half years on the job as President of the University of Massachusetts, had asked the state to include his annuity (why an annuity AND a pension?) and housing allowance (it is not known why a well-to-do homeowner like Pres. Bulger would need a housing allowance) as part of his income when calculating his pension. If those items were included, his pension would rise by about $32,000, to $230,000 annually. The pension would come on top of the $960,000 severance package for Pres. Bulger that the system's Board of Trustees approved in August of 2003. At the time, Mitt Romney called the severance package "excessive in light of the financial circumstances of the university and the state." Apparently, in Pres. Bulger’s eyes, it wasn’t nearly enough. Since the State Pension Board unanimously rejected the inclusion of those ‘perks’ as compensation in 2003, now Pres. Bulger is suing for the restoration of that denied benefit – and of course, payment of ‘back pay’. If successful, it could trigger retroactive pension hikes for every state, county and municipal official who ever received housing and clothing stipends. Remember how County Commissioner Roland DuPont objected to how Sheriff Cummings was handing out clothing allowances? Imagine his fury if the County system has to pay increased pensions to those of the Sheriff’s employees who received the stipend!

Meanwhile, James Bulger, a former juvenile court clerk magistrate (whose primary job qualification appears to have been genetic), is seeking to preserve his $45,000 pension after temporarily losing it for admitting he lied during a criminal probe of yet another brother, fugitive mobster James "Whitey'' Bulger (who also has his stipend from the Commonwealth in the form of a wining Lottery ticket). A win could have serious repercussions for any number of pension systems. Remember those police officers convicted of crimes stripped of their pensions, and so on? All of them could be reinstated by this legal precedent.

As the Brothers Bulger blithely kick over rocks to see what they can get to scuttle out, unconcerned with the finances of lesser beings like cities and towns, let us remember it is our tax dollars – at various levels – that is financing this petulant display of hurt feelings.

Consider this. The severance package alone for Pres. Bulger is more then the State Legislature chooses to send a unique and indispensable Cape Cod resource like Independence House – for ten years time. Keep that in mind the next time some milquetoast politician tells you how imperative it is to keep taxes in Boston high for social service purposes.

Give directly to social service agencies instead – and comply with the expressed will of the people and cut the 1989 temporary tax hike back to 5%.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

A Splash of Cold Water

The demand for those who live by wages, it is evident, cannot increase but in proportion to the increase of the funds which are destined for the payment of wages.
Adam Smith. (1723–1790). Wealth of Nations.

In the summer of 1794, I wrote the following words to criticize the American supporters of the disastrous French Revolution and the subsequent Reign of Terror: “They do not consider what can be done, but they think what ought to be done. They have no calculating principle to direct them to discover whether a reform will cost them more than it is not. They do not set down to count the cost; but, the object being as they think desirable, the means are totally disregarded.”

Alas, while the events behind the thought have changed, the words are still equally true, and a testimony to the inability of politician to puzzle out the impact of the laws they devise.

As a Labour Day Hymn, Rep. Matthew Patrick wrote for Cape Cod Today an editorial piece on the necessity for raising the Massachusetts . While the entire piece can be read here (the Porcupine does not quote out of context!), these excerpts from Rep. Patrick truly caught his eye.

“Massachusetts’ minimum wage currently stands at $6.75 per hour, providing a full-time worker with an annual salary of just $14,040, well below the inflation-adjusted salary earned by minimum wage workers in the 1960s and 1970s and thousands of dollars less the amount needed to make ends meet in Massachusetts today. A bill before the Legislature (House No. 3782) would bring the minimum wage, in stages, to $8.25 per hour by 2007 and guarantee annual cost of living adjustments in the future.”
So – the end result of the legislation is to perpetuate the status of the Massachusetts minimum wage as highest in the nation. We will return to this thought.

"Robert J. Haynes, President of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, praised legislators for their support of a higher minimum wage and urged the Legislature as a whole to act as soon as possible to boost the wage standard and protect it against inflation…According to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, a public policy think tank, raising the minimum wage to $8.25 per hour would directly increase the wages of approximately 261,000 Massachusetts workers, with many others experiencing indirect increases in their pay."
That ‘indirect’ increase is the reason for joy in the councils of the AFL-CIO, who more commonly think of minimum wage workers as unorganized 'scabs'. You see, many Union contracts – some signed and binding for years - have provisions in them that call for the Union wage to be a certain percentage above minimum, with COLA’s to follow. Voila! A boost for the boys without even sitting down at the table!
Rep. Patrick again:

"The first minimum wage of any kind in the United States was enacted by the Commonwealth in 1912. The Massachusetts minimum wage was last increased in 2001, but, because it is not automatically protected against inflation, it has lost more than fifty cents of its purchasing power since then. Raising the minimum wage to $8.25 per hour would give the Commonwealth the highest rate in the nation; in indexing its minimum wage to inflation, Massachusetts would join four other states – Washington, Oregon, Florida, and Vermont – that either currently follow that practice or will begin to do so over the next several years."
I am speechless at the lack of foresight demonstrated by a person sent to Boston to represent the best interests of his constituents, some of whom must be small business owners. Is even the pretense of higher wages being recognition of greater skill or greater commitment to work to be abandoned in favor of an automatic reward regardless of merit? We will set aside the fact that on Cape Cod, virtually every job pays more than minimum wage, and most of those jobs are held by students and summer workers. Let us return to our earlier thought and concentrate on this indexing provision.

After we implement the highest minimum wage in the nation, is it wise to ensure it will remain so? For the last few years, under the control of Chairman Allen Greenspan, interest rates and inflation have been kept at very low levels. But can you remember the last big energy crisis that hit the nation when OPEC was formed? Interest rates of
21% were commonplace. A home mortgage at 18% was considered a bargain. At a time when the nation’s energy supply has suffered a cataclysmic disruption, is this the time to shackle ourselves to an unforgiving formula which virtually guarantees that small businesses will have to dismiss some workers in order to pay exorbitant raises to others in the event of an almost certain spike in the Consumer Price Index? Once it is in place, what politician would dare even mention that this automatic increase might be unaffordable and an inhibitor of small business? No matter how true that might be, it would become a sacrosanct ‘right’ to a higher wage so fast your head would spin.

During the brief period that Rep. Patrick was a businessman, he did not offer health insurance to his employees as it was too expensive for the business. Is that experience so long ago for him, that he cannot remember meeting a payroll? Now that his current job has automatic raises indexed into it, has he forgotten that not all businesses can merely pick the pockets of the citizens with mandatory taxation?

“They do not set down to count the cost; but, the object being as they think desirable, the means are totally disregarded.” Sadly, 211 years later, the words are equally true.

Friday, September 02, 2005

"No talk shall be of dogs," said he, "when Wolf and Gray Wolf meet.…"

Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!

Ballad of East and West - Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

Many have asked, bitterly, if any other countries are helping America during its troubles with Hurricane Katrina. Formal government initiatives will come, but as for citizens all around the world, here are the countries where individuals are participating in the Blogs for Relief fundraising effort:

Australia, Great Britain/United Kingdom, Canada, Nicaragua, Malayia, Ireland, Japan, Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Spain, Slovakia, Isreal, Germany, France, and China.

Truly, in the Blogosphere, there is no border, breed or birth. 1,293 volunteer citizen journalists are devoting countless hours to encourage generosity internationally. At this posting, the total shown is $210,838 and that may be low. Unless a donor read about a charity and registered it on TTLB here, their donation would not be included in the Blog Relief grand total. Please do register your donation, but more importantly, please make your donaton. The single day has been so succesful that the effort has now been extended through Sept. 5th.

The Wolf and Gray Wolf of liberal and conservative causes are working together on this, despite a few petulant and vicious partisans. For now, let us put all our differences aside and show how our fledgling universe can create good.

Click here to see why the Porcupine is advocating for the Salvation Army.


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?

There’s a mist on the glass congealing, T'is the hurricane’s sultry breath;
And thus does the warmth of feeling, Turn ice in the grasp of Death.

Bartholomew Dowling, (1823–1863)

Human nature is an interesting thing. As we all monitored the situation before Hurricane Katrina hit, I heard two ladies talking about their situation.

On the radio, one lady was complaining it was too expensive to get gas, a hotel room in Arkansas, etc. She was just staying home. (It is not known if she could afford to die.) But, to be fair to her, the entire Gulf Coast region was suffering from a degree of ‘hurricane fatigue’, told over and over that a big storm was coming. Rather like the boy who cried ‘Wolf’, the warnings became less potent due to their frequency.

On the other hand, after it was apparent that a storm of historic proportions would indeed hit and it was too late to have second thoughts and leave, I saw a lovely black lady interviewed by Fox News, responding with calm and dignity, saying that in that line outside the Superdome, everybody was equal in God's eyes, and they should just ask for forgiveness and put themselves in His hands. When the reporter asked her why she hadn't left, she replied that not all of her family was able to leave, that those who could had done so, but that she had chosen to stay with those who could not. 'If I'm going to die, I want to be with my family'.

The Porcupine sincerely hopes that she and all her family survive unscathed. For the heart wrenching story of someone who did not, see the story of
Evelyn Turner. Forget the looters – this woman and other like her need help.

Now, we’ve all seen the same images of daring rooftop rescues, leveled Mississippi houses, and bursting levees flooding one of the most beautiful cities in America. To a person, our first impulse is to help – even here in the Blogosphere.

A ‘Blogs For Relief’ Day was first suggested by
Hugh Hewitt on his blog, and he was rapidly seconded by Glenn Reynolds of InstaPundit, one of the top traffic blogs on-line. An on-line aggregation was created by N. Z. Bear, father of the TTLB Ecosystem of Blogs (where I am proud to rank as a Marauding Marsupial – how appropriate, as that so defines the Porcupine!) His donation page can be found here. The Bear said this about his efforts, “For the record: I'm not in charge of this project. Nobody is. I'm stepping in to provide a way for bloggers to indicate their support for the effort because, well, I can. This is what I can do, and I encourage everyone to think about what they can do to support the goal we all share: to raise as much money and support for relief efforts to aid those effected by Katrina as we possibly can.”

Each of the participating Bloggers has been asked to choose a charity of choice, and the Porcupine has chosen the Salvation Army, founded by William Booth in England less than 20 years after I died, as it has perhaps the best ratio of aid provided money to low administration costs of any organized charity. Their 153 year old record is impeccable, and I hope you will donate to their relief effort. Financial donations will be needed to assist with the relief efforts. Anyone wanting to make a donation can call 1-800 SAL-ARMY, on line at www.1800salarmy.org or mail a check to The Disaster Relief, P.O. Box 270848, Tampa, FL 33688. If you wish to credit my appeal and add to the final total, you may do so by clicking here, but frankly, I am more anxious that you send the Salvation Army the money.

Also, for the month of September, any donation received on my web site via Pay Pal will also be given to the Salvation Army, and I will report the total on October 1st.

When the red tide struck here on Cape Cod, I wrote on July 15 – Charity Begins at Home – that while government will do what it can to help, it was organizations like the Interfaith Council who were providing rapid, on-the-ground relief. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve will be tapped, the Navy has sent hospital ships, the Coast Guard and the Corps of Engineers are doing stunning rescue and recovery work, and the National Guard are helping people to evacuate – but to where? It will be the role of the charities which we Bloggers ask you to support to help people in need as the emergency winds down. Everything I have read states that CASH is the best donation. The relief agencies do not have warehouse facilities, and need to be very mobile in their operations to help people where they are. The Almighty Dollar is truly one-size-fits-all, in a way that clothes or house wares might not be (after all, as George Carlin once said, what you do when you don’t HAVE a place for your stuff?).

As I post this, 725 Bloggers in 11 countries are all asking for donations – a truly worldwide phenomenon. For those who believe in karma here on our little spit of land thrust out into the ocean, please give generously. Cape Cod could be next.

Thanks to the NOAA for the spectacular satellite photograph of Katrina as she bore down upon the Gulf Coast on Aug. 28.

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