Today's Blogs

Ugly Rita

Bloggers discuss Hurricane Rita as it threatens the Gulf Coast. They also attack the Vatican for banning celibate homosexuals from the priesthood and bat around a new Forbes 400.

Ugly Rita:Hurricane Rita closed in on the coastlines of Texas and Louisiana today. Yesterday, millions of evacuating Houston residents caused near-standstill traffic for stretches of up to 100 miles.

The Houston Chronicle has assembled Stormwatchers, a group blog updated by those who have elected to stay behind. “Houston, get ready to rumble,” writes one contributor. (Radio host Hugh Hewitt says the paper is acting irresponsibly by encouraging civilians to hole up at their own risk.)

Texas bloggers have begun to assess the evacuation procedures that largely cleared the cities of Houston and Galveston in advance of Rita. At group effort blogHouston, Anne Linehan praises the efficient leadership of the local authorities, who, she says, faced the daunting task of mobilizing a massive metropolis of terrified citizens. At BeldarBlog Lawyer Bill Dwyer blames Katrina and an overzealous local media for the evacuation gridlock, which he says is largely the result of panicked residents fleeing safe areas all at once. (Fellow lawyer Tom Kirkendall of Houston’s Clear Thinkers notes that current models forecast a Rita landfall safely east of Houston and Galveston.) Eminent libertarian Glenn Reynolds of InstaPundit suggests that, after Katrina, overhype was probably inevitable.

At A Certain Slant of Light, B. Austin Higgins writes that what is good news for Houston and Galveston—it appears they’ll be spared the worst—is bad news for those in other areas, particularly nearby petrochemical centers. At PoliPundit, DJ Drummond notes that, because oil refineries in Rita’s path are closing in self-defense, 27 percent of domestic oil production will be unavailable for the next week—at a time when most of metropolitan Houston is having difficulty staying fueled through the extended evacuation gridlock.

There are, of course, other areas even less lucky. “New Orleans is flooding again,” notes Jonah Goldberg at the National Review Online’s conservative clubhouse The Corner. “The levee broke, again.” Watching television coverage, colleague Rich Lowry adds that the outlook for the Crescent City, and particularly St. Bernard Parish, is bad. Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin rounds up coverage of the “new levee problems.”

At liberal salon TPMCafe, former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt takes the long view on Rita, calling for the establishment for a federal agency, independent of FEMA, to manage the reconstruction of devastated areas. Washington MonthlyPolitical Animal Kevin Drum also shares doubts about current reconstruction plans for New Orleans.

Read more about Hurricane Rita; more about Hurricane Katrina; and more about FEMA.

The new Catholic Church:“Homosexuals, even those who are celibate, will be barred from becoming Roman Catholic priests, a church official said Wednesday, under stricter rules soon to be released on one of the most sensitive issues facing the church,” the New York Times reported yesterday.

“So Much for Loving the Sinner,” quips New York snark factory Gawker. Many agree the announcement stinks of hypocrisy. “Nothing like a little scapegoating,” writesAmerican Queery’s Victor Chudnovsky, who wonders how many men have entered the priesthood to suppress their own homosexuality.

Others are equally skeptical. The new ordinance won’t solve any of the church’s problems related to abuse, warns Kennedy liberal Mustang Bobby at Bark Bark Woof Woof. “Not that it would do any good to explain it to the Vatican since they’re probably well aware of it, but just because you’re gay doesn’t make you a pedophile.”

“In reality, of course, this will simply drive gay clergy deeper into the closet,” suggests Eliot Gelwan at Follow Me Here …. “While the Church insists this does not represent a change in doctrinal position, it is clearly a move from policing behaviors to thoughts and feelings. In explaining why those entering the priesthood will be targeted, a spokesman explains it is because of the unique temptation posed by the seminaries, even for those who are celibate, because one is surrounded exclusively by men.” His novel solution? Admit women to the priesthood.

“How does Benedict manage to enforce discrimination that contradicts central tenets of Catholicism itself?” asks gay Catholic Andrew Sullivan, who has been following the story closely. “Because the existence and nature of gay priests who are not pedophiles are suppressed by enforced silence. … There is a solution to this. It’s called courage. I am actually tired of hearing from all these gay priests who refuse to use their names and give blind quotes to the press. Memo to them: your silence is empowering Benedict and the forces of bigotry. You have a choice now: come out to your congregations, explain your lives, stand up for yourselves and the pope, or continue to be scapegoated, exiled, punished.”

Read more about the Vatican document here.

Forbes 400, version 2005: Forbes magazine released its annual list of the 400 wealthiest Americans yesterday.

“Noblesse Oblige, Please!” writesblogsey’s Charles B. Nestor. “The Forbes 400 list should be in the forefront of proportional giving to rebuild the ruined parts of our country. … Our nation will be happy to drive on the Bill Gates Interstate Highway, or to cross the Warren Buffet Bridges, or to camp in the Walton National Parks.” Others look at the list and see their own shortcomings. “If you wanted to be on the list this year, you would have had to have cracked $900 million,” writes Flexo at Consumerism Commentary. “Maybe next year.”

Read more about the Forbes 400.