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the old man would have fallen out of his chair

The Honorable Henry B. Gonzales (D. TX) Courtesy The Center For American History

The Honorable Henry B. Gonzalez (D. TX) Courtesy The Center For American History

Curses!  Yet again my efforts to expand my compassionate and even syrupy post on frenemies that was sure to be the last word on the subject and indeed a cracking good read are thwarted by the events now known as Black Sunday and the continuing inherent idiocy of Wall Street.

There was a time and not so long ago that the government would have stepped in and demanded accountability.  60,000 workers worldwide now find that they are out of a job or in danger of losing their job with their retirement assets also in jeopardy.  And today, the DOW was down 500 points in response the fallout of the Lehman Brothers debacle and the Merrill Lynch sell off.  A day of reckoning to be sure and a day for the history books.

When I was wee I had the great good luck of serving as a congressional intern for the Honorable Henry B. Gonzalez (D. TX.)

Gonzalez was selected to chair the Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee in 1989.  Under his leadership, the committee was able to enact several pieces of legislation favoring consumer groups, such as improved credit measures for small businesses, federal flood insurance reform, and increased accountability of the Federal Reserve.  In addition, Gonzalez pushed for strengthening anti-money laundering laws and harsher punishment for bank fraud and other financial crimes.

Throughout the 1980s, Gonzalez warned against the potential dangers of federal deregulation of the savings and loan industry and we see that in evidence today. After his prediction became a reality, he was given the task of structuring the bailout legislation. He accepted the assignment on the condition that those responsible, both in the private sector and their legislative supporters, be publicly recognized for their wrongdoing. His efforts resulted in pressure from a number of his fellow Democrats to resign, but Gonzalez remained true to his cause. In 1991 he was successful in reforming the federal deposit insurance system. During his tenure as chairman, Gonzalez earned a reputation for being a fair leader who allowed equitable participation in the creation of bills while reinforcing his legacy of championing the cause of ordinary people affected by legislation he oversaw.  Gonzalez gained national attention once again in 1992, when he investigated loans made from President George Bush and his colleague James Baker to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.  His investigation showed the $3 billion loans supposedly designed to support Iraqi agricultural projects were actually spent for weapons development.  Gonzalez went on to oppose military action in the Persian Gulf during the 1991 Gulf War.  He even called for Bush’s impeachment on the grounds that through his previous financial support of Hussein the president had eliminated any chance of finding a peaceful resolution.

During his long congressional career, Gonzalez received numerous honors, including the National Alliance to End Homelessness Award, the Texas Civic Leadership Award, the B’Nai B’Rith National Humanitarian Award, the 1992 National Rural Housing Legislator of the Year and the 1994 Profile in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Foundation.

We won’t see his like for a long time to come I’m afraid.  We are stuck with a system that continues to spiral and heads in the sand at this point would be a disaster.  I can’t even bring myself to comment further.  But wait, I’ll try…  The Bush administration has been reckless in its handling of the finance industry.  The recent bail out of Bear Stearns and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should never have happened.  We need more regulation full stop.  It is the lack of regulation that caused this in the first place.   The capital rules are far too lax, and they still are. They may have made sense if you assumed perfectly liquid and smoothly functioning markets, but that is like saying a roof does not leak when it is sunny and mild.  That’s just bad business.  The Dick Fulds of the industry should now be hung up by their Buster Browns or Prada (s) as the case may be.

This being an election year I don’t trust a candidate like McCain who continues to tout the strength of the economy in the face of what is happening today.  Indeed,  shouldn’t the ability to send an email be at the very least the lowest common denominator for world leader?  I ask you.  Nevertheless, this development will test both candidates mettle to produce some real solutions.  After the lessons of the Great Depression have we learned nothing?

I know that if the old man were alive today he would have fallen out of his chair.


no water and no whine for the body of christ

HURRICANE IKE – Watch LIVE Local Coverage FEEDS here

00pm Courtesy Accuweather

Tropical Storm Ike 2:00pm Courtesy Accuweather

Corpus Christi dodged a bullet but no complaints on that from the folks in the lower coastal bend.  Apart from the expected storm surge, some areas of Corpus Christi will remain hot and dry (in the 90’s), today after the landfall of Hurricane Ike.  Ike, now a tropical storm is moving North and away from the coast though the eastern gulf and into Louisiana will see a  heavy rainfall and tornado threat for the next 24 hours.

The storm at its peak was larger than Hurricane Katrina when it churned through the Gulf of Mexico in 2005.

Ike is moving toward the north. A turn towards the northeast is expected over the balance of the weekend with an increase in forward speed. The center of Ike is expected to move through eastern and northeastern Texas this afternoon and into the Midwest Sunday.

Additional wind gusts include:

  • Sabine Pass, La.: 86 mph
  • Freeport, Texas: 87 mph
  • Port Arthur, Texas: 95 mph
  • Lake Charles, La.: 77 mph
  • Huntsville, Texas: 58 mph

The strength of the storm and the damage it has caused prevented firefighters from reaching multiple fires burning in Galveston and Houston.

Power is out along the Gulf Coast. CNN reported that 1.8 million customers of CenterPoint Energy in metropolitan Houston are without power, while the Louisiana Public Service Commission reports that more than 100,000 customers are without electricity, including some customers who lost power during Gustav.
A total of 2.9 million people had lost power from Ike at some point Friday into Saturday. It could be weeks before power is restored in all areas.

Over a million people evacuated the Gulf Coast before Ike made landfall and the authorities estimated that more than 100,000 people throughout the region, including 24,000 in Galveston, had disregarded mandatory evacuation orders.

Damage estimates according to the Houston Chronicle will top 18 billion dollars.

Courtesy Houston Chronicle

Waves from Ike crash against the memorial of the 1900 hurricane Courtesy Houston Chronicle


Hurricane Ike stengthens as he comes ashore

30 PM EDT  Courtesy Accuweather

Hurricane Ike - 7:30 PM EDT Courtesy Accuweather

This storm is going to change very quickly over the next few hours and things have changed quite a bit in the last 24 hours.  Ike is pickng up speed as it comes ashore and is now predicted to make landfall MUCH earlier than previously predicted.  Not early Saturday morning but perhaps within the next few hours well before midnight as it is only 110 miles now off the coast of Galveston and the Bolivar Peninsula.   The peninsula looks to take the full brunt of the storm as it is in the way of the very powerful Northeast Quadrant of the storm which historically is the most dangerous part of any hurricane.

I got an email from a subscriber this afternoon about storm surge.

“Why are they (the media) saying that the storm surge in Galveston will be over 20 feet but further down the coast only up to 7 feet.  Why is it so different even though it’s within a 20 mile area?”

First, thanks for your very adroit question and second, the reason is simply geography.  As in tsunami conditions, as the waves come in the water is coming up the continental shelf. Therefore you’ll see greater damage where there is less resistance e.g. where the shelf has a longer sloping, gentle grade.

Storm Surge - Sloping Grade  Courtesy NOAA

That storm surge will be much greater and catastrophic in destruction than where the shelf has a sharper drop off.

That’s one reason.  Another reason is in this case parts of the Houston area could see CAT 4 style storm surge because the land is low lying (bayou wetland areas) and indeed at a lower elevation than at seaside.  In addition, coastal communities south of the Houston area down the coast will not receive as much of a punch from the wind as from the eye landfall area and the Northeast Quadrant.  The eye is roughly 75 miles wide at present.

Storm Surge Diagram - Courtesy NOAA

Storm Surge Diagram - Courtesy NOAA

According to the latest reports from KHOU in Houston, there are more than 24,000 folks that stayed to ride out the storm on Galveston Island.  Hurricane force winds should begin to hit the island by 6:00 pm CDT this evening and going through the night until daybreak.  When will it end?  The current prediction is sometime Saturday afternoon.


hurricane ike: countdown to landfall

45 PM EDT Courtesy NOAA GOES

Hurricane Ike 10:45 PM EDT Courtesy NOAA GOES

Oh the catchy title is just that but the warning is not.  Galveston and the Houston metro area look to take a direct hit.  This is the 100 year storm and the ghostly reincarnation of the great storm of 1900.  Current weather data predicts that Ike will increase in strength to a CAT 3 (Winds 111-130 mph) and possibly a CAT 4 (Winds 131-155 mph) by landfall.

Why is this different than Gustav?  Gustav was also a big storm but it was also moving at a pretty good clip as a result of an Atlantic high nudging it to landfall.  Again, keep in mind that the real devastation comes from storm surge (not unlike a tsunami in many respects) and deluge and with a slow moving storm like Ike, the effect could be catastrophic.  Ike is 700 miles wide with sustained winds at 100 mph with higher gusts.

The storm wall in Galveston is 17 feet high.  The expected storm surge from this monster is 22 feet.  The National Weather Service in Galveston issued the warning that anyone left on the island at landfall will be in danger of losing their life.  Galveston will be inundated.  Indeed the geography of the Galveston- Houston Metro area include the shipping channel that should a storm of a CAT4 or 5 hit, the loss of life could exceed 1.5 million souls.  Governor Perry, in his press conference today was matter of fact in his tone that there will be substantial damage with Ike and that infrastructure will be compromised.  That’s a nice was of saying, no water, no power and no emergency services.

Cruise Cam – Live Web Cam with view of Galveston Bay

Strand Cam – Live Web Cam with view of the Strand on Galveston Island

SurfSide Cam – Web Cam from Texas Department of Public Safety

According to Accuweather, the circulation of Ike is causing water levels to rise 1-3 feet across the entire Gulf Coast from South Florida to Texas. Parts of southern Louisiana will have a 3- to 5-foot water rise with tropical storm conditions through tonight and tomorrow. From 2-4 inches of rain is expected along the immediate coastline of Louisiana overnight. Seas in the central Gulf of Mexico are around 20 to 30 feet, while seas in the western Gulf of Mexico are 10-15 feet.

Ike is still being steered by a strong upper-level high that extends across the northern Gulf of Mexico and the Deep South. This ridge should remain in place into Friday and keep Ike on a west-northwesterly course through tonight. Conditions will be somewhat favorable for intensification over the next 24 hours as water temperatures along Ike’s projected track are at least 82 degrees and wind shear remains relatively weak. Ike is a large hurricane with a small central core, and strong winds extend far away from the eye. Ike’s pressure remains very low for a Category 2 hurricane. This is due to the fact Ike is a very large storm with energy spread out over a huge distance. If these winds can contract, Ike may increase to Category 3 strength tomorrow. The latest results from the intensity forecast models on Ike do not have Ike reaching category 3 strength before landfall. Since intensity forecasting is very difficult, Accuweather says it will continue to monitor the pressure and wind within this big hurricane. Because Ike is such a large storm, tropical storm and hurricane conditions will occur well away from the actual center upon landfall. This will be especially true north and east of where the center comes ashore.

The best estimate right now is for landfall somewhere between Matagorda Bay and Galveston, Texas. Nonetheless, a devastating storm surge is expected for more than 100 miles east of landfall. East of the landfall a storm surge up to 12 to 20 feet can occur with some of the back bays perhaps having a higher storm surge. One should not focus on an exact landfall location at this time, and all interests along the western Gulf Coast should monitor the progress of Ike closely.

After landfall, Ike will begin to move more north and then northeast as it gets caught up in the westerlies. A rather rapid increase in forward speed likely. By Sunday morning the remnant tropical rainstorm center should be over northwest Arkansas and move quickly northeast through the middle Mississippi Valley during the day Sunday.

Damage Potential - Courtesy IMAP

Damage Potential - Courtesy IMAP


friends, enemies and frenemies

Yoda and Vader hang at StarWarscon

Frenemies: Yoda and Vader hang at StarWarscon

I’ve been noticing a lot of vague noise about friendships and relationships lately.  It’s been completely serendipitous on my part.  I just seem to be running into the subject again and again.  No doubt the universe is sending me a message to pay attention so I decided to do some reading and research over the past few months.  I’ll be expanding this post over this week with what I’ve discovered.


ike arrives ahead of time

15PM EDT - Courtesy NOAA GOES Rainbow

Ike Makes Landfall - Cuba - 9:15PM EDT - Courtesy NOAA GOES Rainbow


the worst case scenario

Current Projected Track Hurricane Ike - Courtesy The Weather Channel

Current Projected Track Hurricane Ike - Courtesy The Weather Channel

Last time on Storm Surge…

Okay before I was interrupted by the RNC, I was expounding on some basic information on storm surge.  Now that Ike is moving closer to the Florida Straits, it has more of a chance to cross over the loop current in roughly the same manner that Katrina did two years ago.  To briefly recapitulate, the loop current circles the Gulf of Mexico and the point of convergance where the Carribean and Yucatan currents meet in the Gulf of Mexico is of special significance to weather forecasters because they meet over some of the deepest water in the Gulf and over the summer that water gets to be like bathwater e.g. 80-85 degrees F.

The worst case scenario at this point is if Ike moves into the Gulf and if it is affected by the loop current and if it heads for the Louisiana coast that people will not evacuate as diligently as they did for Gustav.  If the wolf shows up and people are not vigilant and disregard the warnings many lives would be in danger.

Storm Surge Simulation  Courtesy NOAA

Storm Surge Simulation Courtesy NOAA

NOAA has a quicktime simulation that shows what storm surge can do if a slow moving CAT 4 hit New Orleans.  Here’s the creepy link:

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