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Archive for September, 2005

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New Orleans’ leaders finally wake up…

Thursday, September 8th, 2005

C. Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, has finally decided to make the evacuation of New Orleans mandatory:

Mayor C. Ray Nagin ordered law officers and the military late Tuesday to evacuate all holdouts – by force if necessary. He warned that the combination of fetid water, fires and natural gas leaks after Hurricane Katrina made it too dangerous to stay.

I, for one, view this as a positive step. Alas, there are still issues. The military personnel have said they have no plans to use force. The National Guard has said that they don’t take orders from the mayor, which seems like an almost unbelievably blatant challenge to the governor (should we or shouldn’t we?). Local police are also hesitant to use force, hoping that the threat of force would be enough in most cases.

The article says that Eddie Compass, the police chief, is “mindful of the bad publicity that could result from images of weary residents dragged out of their homes at gunpoint.” Seriously? He’s worried about bad publicity at this point? Maybe he’s afraid the focus will come off the White House & FEMA and people will start asking him what the cops were doing in the days before the storm?

More on Eddie Compass: it seems teams of workers trying to repair cell phone towers in the area have been fired upon “on almost a daily basis.” It took “100 officers and seven armored personnel carriers [to capture] a suspect in a housing project who had been firing on workers trying to restore cell phone towers.” The police chief’s reaction?

The police chief boasted that 7,000 more military, police and other law officers on the streets had made New Orleans “probably the safest city in America right now.”

Again, I say, seriously? There are thousands of dead bodies floating in the streets. The amount of sewage-related bacteria in the floodwaters is at least 10 times higher than acceptable safety levels. Workers trying to restore basic communications are being fired upon daily. This is the safest city in America?

On the political front, more encouraging news:

Given the extent of the misery, Louisiana’s two U.S. senators — Democrat Mary Landrieu and Republican David Vitter — wrote a letter to Senate leaders Wednesday urging them to put aside partisan bickering in assigning blame over the federal response and focus on providing for victims.

“Please do not make the citizens of Louisiana a victim once again by allowing our immediate needs to be delayed by partisanship,” they wrote.

It seems some folks are realizing that when placing blame gets in the way of solving the problem, it might be worth putting off the placing of blame for a while.

Maybe when all this is over, one or both of them will place a call to Messrs. Nagin and Compass.

Categories: Political Rantings | No Comments »

Predicting the Disaster

Wednesday, September 7th, 2005

Here’s an absoultely astounding article (Hat tip to Steve Walsh) about what “might” happen to New Orleans if a large hurricane hit it. The article was written in October of 2001:

The boxes are stacked eight feet high and line the walls of the large, windowless room. Inside them are new body bags, 10,000 in all. If a big, slow-moving hurricane crossed the Gulf of Mexico on the right track, it would drive a sea surge that would drown New Orleans under 20 feet of water. “As the water recedes,” says Walter Maestri, a local emergency management director, “we expect to find a lot of dead bodies.”


Categories: Political Rantings | No Comments »

Blame Bush First

Saturday, September 3rd, 2005

This is not about George W. Bush or his policies. This is about how people respond to a major hurricane and devastating flood. Before I continue, a quick note to those who think the first two sentences are bullshit: This is not about George W. Bush or his policies. This is about how people respond to a major hurricane and devastating flood. If you still don’t believe me, do us both a favor and stop reading now.

What’s going on in New Orleans right now is terrible on dozens of different levels. Just to name a few:

With all this going on, I have noticed a predominant theme in the news coverage, blogging, political speeches and victims’ statements thus far: President Bush is to blame. For everything. He is an incompetent, uncaring, racist, Jesus freak and he is personally responsible for all that has happened. New Orleans will be “his Waterloo.”

This concerns me greatly.

First of all, much of what we’re talking about here are long-term problems that have been ignored by local, state, and federal government officials for decades. Global warming, for instance, which some say has increased the temperature of the ocean and increased the strength of hurricanes, has been a political football for more than twenty years. The disrepair of the New Orleans levee system was first identified in 1965. New Orleans has had decades to formulate an evacuation plan, and had several days of warning before Katrina made landfall to put it into action. Nonetheless, global warming is Bush’s fault because he didn’t sign the Kyoto accords, the levee system is Bush’s fault because he cut funding for the latest round of levee rebuilding, and the people trapped in New Orleans right now are Bush’s fault because he layered FEMA under the Department of Homeland Security and nominated an old college buddy to run it.

Now, lest you start doubting the first two sentences of this post again, allow me to be clear: Bush bears some responsibility for each of these things. But he doesn’t deserve sole responsibility. Many who have come before him, and many who are in leadership positions right now, should be held accountable as well. But commenters of every stripe have been focusing on the president.

When Hurricane Andrew ripped through Florida in 1992, FEMA was harshly criticized for its response, some people were scorned for scamming helpless victims, and the insurance companies were absolutely crucified (we haven’t even reached that point with Katrina yet). Through it all, though, I have no memory of people lambasting Bill Clinton. Yes, the buck stops with the president, but the problems people were having were directly related to the actions of others, and it was those people who bore the brunt of the criticism (justified or otherwise).

So what has changed? Why the need to pin everything and anything on George W. Bush? To be honest, I think there’s an unbelievable hatred for the man. I think it began with the 2000 election, strengthened through 9/11 and the War on Terrorism, and crested mightily with the invasion of Iraq. Those who hate him do so with such a white-hot passion that they cannot possibly believe themselves to be in the minority. They cannot accept that any sane person would not hate him, nor are they willing to believe that he is responsible for anything positive in the world (or, as is the case here, not responsible for anything negative).

These are the people that some have referred to as the “Blame America First” crowd. Now that the bad news is a domestic, natural disaster rather than a foreign policy question, it occurs to me that they are actually the “Blame Bush First” crowd.

This is a bad sign for our country. Much as Watergate lifted the “nod and wink” attitude of the press and the public that John F. Kennedy enjoyed, this willingness to “Blame <whoever the president happens to be> First” threatens to poison our national dialogue for years to come. We’re stripping away yet another layer of logical debate and respect for our leaders, and we’re doing it in a world where our internal squabbles are increasing played out on the world stage.

This is a great country. It’s one of a very few in the world where one can criticize the leadership freely, publicly and without fear of retribution. There was a time where this gave us a great sense of pride and freedom in our nation. Over the past decade or so (one could argue that this attitude began with Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky), this right we hold so dear has been hijacked and used to make us feel less free, less secure, and less invested in seeing our government and our nation succeed.

The President, whoever he/she may be, will always have enemies. If those enemies feel free to indiscrimately paint him/her as the cause for all evil and strife in the world, we will all suffer the consequences. We absolutely must find a way to hold the president accountable for his/her mistakes, without clouding the argument with hyperbole that serves only to heap more shit on the pile in hopes that it will increase the stink.

God Bless America. God Bless the people of New Orleans. And yes, dammit, God Bless the President of the United States.

Categories: Political Rantings | 2 Comments »

Experimenting with the Link Exchange

Thursday, September 1st, 2005

I got an email from the folks who run The FraudWatcher network. They’ve linked one of my blog entries (What Prevents Crime?) to one of their pages, and have asked me to link back to them. OK, here goes:

Fraud – Crime In Aruba
Description: Fraud Prevention, Information and News about Fraud Online

The page I’m linking to has some formatting issues at best, and at worst reads like it’s written for search engines to find rather than humans (lots of half sentences, no line breaks, etc.). My links is one of 81 links listed at the bottom of the page as “Other Websites.” Also, they want me to “register” my reciprocal link, or they’ll de-link me from their site. On the upside, the e-mail claims they get 1,000 hits a day, and at this point, I’m basically a traffic whore, so I’ll take whatever I can find. If you’re reading this and you came from that site, do me a favor? Drop me a comment on this post & tell me what you think of their site (and mine, if you like). I’m curious if this is a scam or a legitimate operation.

And for the record: I’ve been to Aruba four times in the last five years. The horrible events concerning Natalee Holloway aside, I’ve never seen anything on the island that even comes close to crime, let alone the crime waves and drug problems referenced on the FraudWatcher site. Then again, I spend 100% of my time going from resort complex to resort complex (beach, casinos, restaurants, etc.), so maybe I’d have worse (better?) luck with crime if I strayed off the beaten path a little.

Also, my parents, my wife and I took our kids to Carlos and Charlie’s last year to celebrate Brandon’s second birthday (pictures here – check out the last two for the birthday festivities). We had a great time. And although the restaurant is where Ms. Holloway was before she encountered trouble, and nothing unusual or illegal happened at the restaurant, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to hear that some percentage of people now consider it unsafe. Such is life on the perception/reality continuum.

Categories: Blogging about Blogs, News and/or Media | No Comments »

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