Friday, September 30, 2005

The pot calling the kettle...

Not to be outdone today in the whining column, the Anti Defamation League has shown they are a contender for today's top spot.

The ADL, which like all organizations has its good days and its bad, on occasion appears to object simply to anything that threatens the premise that Judaism is the one true and right religion.

And so it is today, when the ADL has now proclaimed Christian evangelism towards Jews to be offensive.

First, let's review:
Evangelism; NOUN: Zealous preaching and dissemination of the gospel, as through missionary work.
Obviously the purpose of Christian evangelistic groups is to focus on evangelism and the drawing-in of new converts. In fact, evangelism is, and always has been, a core Christian religious belief and mission. Who were the first converts of Christian evangelists some 2000 years ago? I don't even need to answer that, do I.

Why is this all of the sudden bad? C'mon, be realistic - every religion believes it's the right one and that every other religion is false, or misinformed at best. Where is the "news" in this?

I guess to not offend the ADL, they would recommend that Christians must renounce their Christianity or that every religion should wake up and smell the coffee - and realize that Judaism is the right choice.

It seems the ADL is suggesting that the root tenets of Christianity, as well as other religions who evangelize, are offensive.

Hmmm.... now that sounds a bit defamatory to me.


Thursday, September 29, 2005

Wah!! Bring me a blankey!

Ah, isn't life in our whiney United States grand?

It seems everyone, every group, is a poor, put-upon, misunderstood, undervalued yet heroic group - and one which Hollywood has maliciously misportrayed. Let's take to the streets. Let's boycott those bastards!

And don't forget - while we're at it let's make sure we somehow weave in a reference to 9/11.

The latest in a long line of whiners are the various flight attendant unions who are decrying as foul-play, and calling for a boycott of, the recent Jodie Foster movie FlightPlan. Can you believe that several flight attendants are portrayed in the film as rude and uncaring? Despicable.

Even worse - sit down and prepare yourself for the shock of all shocks (I wouldn't want you to pass out and hurt yourself) - one flight attendant is actually one of the bad guys in the movie! How offensive! In the words of Corey Caldwell, spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants:
"We could get over the rudeness, but the evilness, to be the villain, that is not acceptable"
She's right - I don't think I'll be able to carry on with life or ever fly again after having seen this movie. My reality is shattered, my brain's been battered... oh, sorry, drifted into a Stones' moment for a second... Back to reality.

First, I have one thing to remind Ms. Caldwell of: "It's a movie!" And, it's called fiction - that means it's made up, not real, pretend, make believe - get the picture? Secondly, if people actually watch the film, they will see that not all the flight attendants are portrayed in a negative light. And, the flight attendant villain does what in the end? Decides NOT to be a villain anymore.

So... what about the captain of the plane? The Air Marshall? And ALL the passengers on the plane - every single one? They are ALL painted negatively in this film. Guess we all should be pissed, right?

But that doesn't register with the brave flight attendants. According to Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) International President Patricia Friend:
"Flight attendants continue to be the first line of defense on an aircraft and put their lives on the line day after day for the safety of passengers."
Really? Wow, I never viewed the job responsibiliites of a flight attendant as being equal to police and firefighters. Nor did I know the hiring requirements were as stringent. I hope she doesn't mean that just the act of flying itself is putting your life on the line - otherwise that's not a reassuring endorsement of commercial aviation.

But wait, it gets better. Let's read some more choice statements by Tommie Hutto-Blake, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants:
"Should there be another 9-11, it would be critical for the cabin crew to have the support of their passengers, not the distrust that this movie may engender."
That seems a fair enough comment, until followed up by:
"Our fellow crew members who perished in the line of duty deserve more respect"
Oh, now you've done it. Crossed the line by pulling the 9-11 card. That's right, the profession of everyone who perished in 9-11 is now off-limits to ever having a character in a movie being portrayed in a negative light - because to do so would dishonor the individuals who perished in the attack. Okay, so what about the professions of those who perished in WWII? Korea? Vietnam? The Gulf War? Oklahoma City?

Maybe Hollywood, as a whole, should subscribe to the following dictum:
After careful consideration of our industry, and in light of revelations brought to our attention by the Association of Flight Attendants, we realize that many of our films have villainous characters and do in fact portray these characters in a negative light. We are shocked and embarrassed by this realization. From this point further, we vow to make all human characters in films positive role models for their culture, religion, and profession and if we must use a villain in our story line it will, from this day forward, be portrayed only by robotic figures with no human characteristics - until such time as the robots evolve and complain.
Well... maybe not.

Don't get me wrong. Flight attendants provide a valuable service. And while serving pretzels and drinks may seem to be the cornerstone of their responsibilities, their presence on an airplane also provides a necessary authority and calming effect.

But to claim that because of 9-11 they are elevated to the level of police and firefighters, or are somehow better than the rest, and should be exempt from ever being shown in a negative light in film is not only an ignorant belief, it is also an arrogant, uncaring, rude and offensive statement from the airline attendants unions.

Funny how they seem to be showcasing the very thing they are protesting against.

Shame on them.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Why Roberts is a bad choice

After hours of mind-numbing congressional hearings, there are two things we know for certain about about Supreme Court Chief Justice nominee John Roberts:

1. He is a brilliant legal scholar
2. He will be our next Chief Justice

But other than that, we know little about the man who may lead the Court for the next 20-40 years.

What? you may say - look at his record. If you're a Republican you'll point to his long record of conservative opinions. If you're a Democrat you'll point to... well, that same long record of conservative opinions.

But I'd ask: What record?

John Roberts' record comes from years as a paid legal consultant. I'm sorry - but that's about as far from being a judicial record as you can get. I've employed lawyers before. Heck, I even have one in the family. And lawyer's do what is in the best interest of their clients. Their opinions and positions and arguments are all prepared to support the case of their client. And in much of John Roberts' case, that client happend to be a Republican administration.

Yes, he also has a two-year record as Judge Roberts, but his cases and positions there have been less than revealing about issues pertaining to constitutional law.

And yes, the fact that he worked for a Replican administration rather than a Democratic one would seem to indicate that he leans conservative. But it has little reflection on how he will perform his duties on the United States Supreme Court. About the only revalation we have are the words of Judge Roberts himself, when he stated:
"I do not think beginning with an all-encompassing approach to constitutional interpretation is the best way to faithfully construe the document."

Interpreted by Cass Sunstein, law professor at the University of Chicago: "Judge Roberts's opinions thus far are careful, lawyerly, and narrow. They avoid broad pronouncements. They do not try to reorient the law." This means Roberts appears to be a judicial minimalist, emphasizing precedent, as opposed to being an original or rights-focused jurist. In other words, he works hard not to have an interpretation or influence on the law.

So in essence, Judge Roberts is a bad choice for Democrats because all of the existing documentation supports his conservative label. But Roberts is also a bad choice for Republicans because he is, quite frankly, an unknown with respect to his judicial leanings and his statements thus far have implied he has no intent of shaping the court in any direction.

All in all, everyone has something to dislike, or distrust, about confirming John Roberts to the Supreme Court - he appears only to want to decide law on... the law.

Hmmm... maybe that makes him a good choice after all.


Friday, September 23, 2005

Supporting the troops, not war

I listened to an interview this morning with Deborah Johns of Move America Forward - the anti-Cindy Sheehan movement, after which I had just one question: where do these people come from?

As time goes by, and I age rather ungracefully, it seems more and more obvious that we really have a lot of shallow-minded people in this country. Really. If their head wasn't physically attached they wouldn't even consider the possibility of taking it with them when they left the house in the morning. But then, it's not like they need it either.

I am so tired of the ridiculously insulting and idiotic statement that
"If you don't support the war, you don't support the troops" that I could just scream. In fact, I think I will. Cover your ears please....


Thanks, but I still don't feel much better.

Don't get me wrong here, I'm no Cindy Sheehan supporter. She has crossed into the dark side, especially when calling our troops "murderers" and Iraqi insurgents "freedom fighters." But trauma will do that to you. Not to mention the puppeteering of various far-left radical elements.

But Deborah Johns is no better. 180 degrees removed from Cindy Sheehan, but just as stupid in every comment.

I wonder if the fact that she sounded so chipper and cheery at 7AM had anything to do with the fact that I was so easily pissed off. I needed coffee in a bad way to listen to crap like this so early in the morning.

When she was asked in the interview whether people could support the troops while being opposed to the war, she said "I don't see how that's possible."

Well, let's look at ways that's possible.

First, let's remember that our troops are our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. Regardless of why, they are currently in harm's way. I can support them through gifts of care packages and letters of encouragement - they are afterall doing the best they can in a situation they have no control over.

I can also support them by urging our government to support them. Give them proper body and vehicle armor, and equipment. Support the families they had to leave behind with no income or benefits. And take care of them and their families when they get injured or killed. And I can support them by protesting our government when they do not meet these responsibilities.

But the biggest way I can support the troops is by working hard to ensure that our government never puts them in harm's way under false pretenses. Their lives are more important than that, and we have a responsibility to make sure that when their lives are risked, it is for the undeniably right reason.

Maybe you've noticed - but not one of these things has one damn thing to do with supporting the war.

To continue on the "I'm trying to prove myself a bigger idiot than Cyndy Sheehan", Ms. Johns continued with two utterly false statements. I don't think she was lying - I think she truly believes this misinformation, which is unfortunate because it makes it very hard to take someone seriously who is so obviously out of touch with reality.

Her first moment that would have made coffee spout out of my nose, had I had any, came when she claimed
"Our troops are doing what they want to do. They all volunteered and they all believe in what they're doing."
Yes, that's right - so many of our National Guard troops enlisted thinking they were going to go off to fight a war in a foreign land. But wait, that's not what the National Guard is for is it... nor is it what the recruiters told them they'd be doing when they were recruited. Somehow the fact that a person volunteered for the National Guard now implies that he (or she) did so specifically to go fight in a war - and for less pay and fewer benefits than had they joined the Army (whose job by the way is to be our nation's combatants). Hmmm, not too bright.

Her second moment which made me wish for a deer to run onto the highway so I could slam into something at 65 mph was to again propagate two of the most misused myths about our military - in the same statement. Her comment was something along the lines that
the "majority of our troops enlisted after 9/11 and truly believe in what they're doing."
Well, first of all that's simply not true. The real numbers show that there has been no real increase in enlistment since 9/11. The annual enlistment numbers and growth have stayed the same as they were prior to 9/11.

And second, how many times do we have to go down this stupid discussion path... Iraq had NOTHING to do with 9/11! Period. Over. End of story.

I have a vision that someday on a long stretch of highway in the middle of Nevada the Sheehan bus will be headed west while the MAF bus is headed east. In a sudden act of omniscient intervention, the two buses collide and are taken to their respective gates of peace. In the great aftermath, the public realize that we can support the troops while at the same time recognizing that this war is wrong and we should be doing the best thing possible for the troops - working on a plan to bring them home.

Maybe then I can drive without listening to this incessant babbling nonsense.

Or maybe I just need some coffee.


Friday, September 16, 2005

When judges should be judged

Surely this couldn't happen in my America.

Yet here it was, right in front of me, an Associated Press article about 73 year old Merlene Maten, a diabetic Grandmother, deaconess of her church, no criminal record, was being held on $50,000 bail for alleged looting in New Orleans.

Her alleged take? $63.50 of food.

Let me repeat that: $63.50. And she's being held on 50 THOUSAND dollars bail...

If you read the article, all you see is a discussion of the fact that eyewitnesses say she wasn't even at the store where the looting took place, although police say she was.

But I say - who cares? Let's assume for the moment that she IS guilty of taking $63.50 worth of food during the hurricane aftermath. Does anyone believe that $50,000 bail is appropriate?

What insane people are in power here? The owners of the nursing home in New Orleans who were just charged with 34 counts of negligent homicide were held on (bet you can guess) $50,000 bail. So $63.50 worth of food is an equivalent crime to 34 homicides? As far as the presiding judge was concerned, the answer is apparently Yes. The stress of the job has obviously gotten to him.

But wait, it gets better.

Not only was she arrested and charged with a crime that is questionable considering her physical condition and eyewitness reports claiming she was not there, but the official police report doesn't even list what she supposedly stole - it just gives a value of $63.50. It does however correctly state her age and health - 73, with diabetes.

"This is a mix up," you say, "and will be sorted out quickly by reasonable minds..."

Hah, wrong you are! Not only has she been held for two weeks, but she has even been moved from the local parish jail to a state prison more than an hour away - even though everyone from the store owner herself to the AARP and the FEMA legal assistance office have protested her arrest.

And what about our champion of justice, the judge who set her bail? What has he had to say during her two weeks of trauma? According to the AP,
...the judge who set $50,000 bail by phone — 100 times the maximum $500 fine under state law for minor thefts — has not returned a week's worth of calls...
People should be responsible for their actions. And if Mrs. Maten is in fact found guilty of a crime, then she will obviously pay. But in my America, I thought people were still innocent until proven guilty. And that punishments, as well as bail, were supposed to fit the crime or the flight risk. Not so in this case.

The only criminal act to have truly taken place here is the behavior of the judge. Apparently when you add "black woman" + "looter" + "$63.50", even if you subtract "73 years old" and "church deaconess" you arrive at a sum of $50,000 for bail.

By any calculation, that is very funny math and should demand that one more calculation be made:

Judge + blatant incompetence and misuse of power = removal.

Anything less is an insult to all of us.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Where is God?

I've heard that question asked quite a few times ever since the Indonesian tsunami of 2004, and even more since hurricane Katrina destroyed the Gulf Coast. Where is God, indeed.

I am neither an atheist nor an evangelical. I lie trapped somewhere in between, with a large percentage of believers and doubters, who simply are trying to understand our beliefs and find some evidence to reinforce them.

There are those who believe God has a hand in day to day life and can intervene when necessary, those who believe that God has a plan that is already known, those who believe everything happens for a reason, and those who believe that this life is left up to us and God does not interfere with things of this world.

The problem lies in the fact that the only comforting belief right now is the latter, and yet the Bible itself teaches only the former.

The Bible, both old and new testaments, is filled with the teachings of answered prayer and miracles - as well as the wrath of God. What it does not teach is that God is ambivalent and has a "hands-off" policy towards the lives of mankind. So to see an elderly person, who is a true believer, praying for her life, while friends and family also pray for her deliverance from the storm, die the horrific death of drowning as she watched, terrified, as the waters rose in her own home and slowly eclipsed her head, and then had her lifeless bloated body float undignified in the stagnant water for days... simply begs the question: Where is God?

Was this part of a plan? Did she pray any less than those who were spared? If God could intervene, why did he not for her?

For the strong in faith, there will be the usual replies: "We don't know God's plan," and "God had a reason," and "It was a test of faith." Why test the faith of a lifelong Christian woman, at age 80, by confronting her with an inhumane test almost no person could endure? Meanwhile, others are "Thanking God" for saving them while their neighbors all perished. Did God really have a hand in this? And if so, why? Many of those who lived are by no means "more Christian" than some who perished. Is this God's doing - or God's doing nothing?

The answer to that question, or even an answer that might seem slightly acceptable, is so utterly beyond my comprehension that I can't help but believe God surely must not intervene in worldly affairs. It's the only way I can even think about carrying on with any level of faith. And yet my intellectual side acknowledges that this then is in conflict with the actual teachings in the Bible. In the end, my knowledge and belief of God hasn't been improved by current events or explanations of them.

As one of my dear friends often tells me, my relationship with God needs to be a personal one and my burdens will become so much lighter if I put my trust in Him and accept that He loves me. I don't disagree that this would be the case - but as any relationship counselor will tell you, communication has to go both ways.

It would be really nice if that were the case.


Sunday, September 11, 2005

A Birthday Revelation

In less than a month, my mother will celebrate her 80th birthday.

It's also been more than 30 years since my father died.

I was nine at the time, and since then my "memories" of my parents' relationship have been built on the few true memories I had - added to a mix of stories from my brothers, a few urban myths, and my own projections. None of these were overly positive reflections.

For example, I can't ever recall my parents showing any display of affection - public or private. No holding hands, no kissing, no romantic looks, no giggles. In many cases only frustration and arguments. In the years since my father's death, I have built the belief that these things were chalked up to my mother's growing up in the Depression and her old-world German heritage - her nature had always been (I was certain) stoic, stubborn and stiff.

My father was the fun-loving, energetic, full-of-life personality. He danced, he sang, he wrote, he taught. Everyone loved him. How he had wound up with a woman who so obviously couldn't return his affections was a question I could never answer. Didn't he understand that marrying someone who couldn't show emotion would be daunting and draining? Maybe after being on the front lines in France and Germany in WWII he thought he was up for the challenge.

My brothers' memories seemed to corroborate this belief and it was always disappointing to me that it appeared the German in her wouldn't allow the expression of any emotion other than anger. It's no wonder that dad became a workaholic and their marriage didn't seem affectionate. The lack of romance and emotion would break even the strongest of men.

Then, as if by fate, while sneaking through a box of old photos at my mother's house, so I could create an album for her birthday celebration, I came across a hidden stash of old notecards - dated 1949. It was evident these were the saved communiques from a soon-to-be bride to her betrothed.

Hesitant to intrude on private memories, I was nonetheless convinced there wouldn't be much enlightening in them either. These would simply be formal communications, in a formal tongue - no doubt distant and proper.

But something caught my eye in the handwriting, so I opened it carefully and read on...
Monday Evening

Hi Honey,

I'm so lonesome for you right now I could die. I'm sitting up on my bed propped up with pillows, in a pair of shorts, a shirt, and specs. Spent my first afternoon of the season barefooted. Anyway my heart's been aching ever since you left last night. I felt so darned miserable I almost cried when eleven o'clock, then eleven thirty rolled around and you hadn't called, even though I honestly didn't expect the telephone to ring. And even now big tears are rolling out of the corners of my eyes as I write to you. On the Firestone program they just played "My Love Loves Me" and "The Wedding March." Now I think there are more raindrops inside this house than outside. I have never felt more in love with you than I do at this moment. Wish I had you here right now so I could sit on your lap and squeeze you tight and look in your eyes. Oh, am I in a dreamy mood.

Let's get married. I can't stand this much longer. My heart is pounding harder than usual, my eyes are now red and swollen, and there's a lump in my throat. If only I could reach out and grab you, I'd never let you go. Gee, you're a wonderful boy. Will you forgive me for all the times I've been selfish and hurt your feelings? Guess I've really been difficult at times and could kick myself for hurting someone as nice as you. There's no one else in the world like you. What did I ever do to deserve to be the girl you picked to marry? You are a darling if there ever was one. I feel about the same way you do I guess.

Without you life would have no meaning for me. Please be careful so nothing happens to you. I worry about you so much. Good night, Sweetheart, I'll be dreaming about you.

I love you very much
As a child, it is difficult to accept that what you believe in may be wrong.

As an adult, it's even harder. And to realize that something in one of your strongest held beliefs of the past 35 years is most definitely askew is nothing less than earth-shattering.

The words I had read were my mother's. It's hard to express how far removed this letter is from the stoic, stubborn and stiff image in my head. It's not the mother I thought I knew, nor the mother I thought I had always had. In fact it opens up an entirely new traumatic question for me - what really did happen in my parents' relationship that 20 years after this note was written, my parents acted in the way my mind remembers them?

I may never know. But one thing is clear. My mother may have been (and still is) stubborn, but she was far from emotionless, and she was most definitely in love with my father.

So if anyone deserves a Happy Birthday, it's mom.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Goodnight little buddy

The passing today of Bob Denver symbolizes a special and not easily forgotten time for many of us who grew up 40 years ago when there were but three television channels and everyone on TV seemed to either be our friends or our heroes.

But comedy was always my favorite. And watching the shows was like spending time with friends and neighbors (albeit some wacky ones). Rob and Laura (The Dick Van Dyke show), Sgt. O'Rourke and Cpl. Agarn (F-Troop), Lucy and Ricky (I Love Lucy) and of course... Gilligan.

Gilligan's Island was always special. I've never known why, but even in reruns forty years later, I can't help but laugh when I catch a glimpse of the castaways doing some idiotic thing after another. Thanks TV Land.

I don't know if it was the first, but Gilligan's Island incorporated aspects of a variety of other comedy characters into Gilligan's character. Think Dick Van Dyke, Jerry Lewis and a little Gracie Allen all rolled into one congruous whole. A character played to physical perfection by Bob Denver.

It's important to remember that only 98 episodes of Gilligan's Island were ever taped, and the show only lasted for three years. And yet here we are forty years later and it has been playing in rerun constantly ever since. It is a true cultural icon for many of us.

Who among us hasn't been asked the question: Ginger or Mary Ann?

Who among us hasn't thought about what we'd do if stranded on an island with six other people - one being a scientist who could make a radio out of coconuts but couldn't build a damn raft! Could we survive? Would we kill the Professor? Would we continue to sleep in a hammock underneath the Skipper - even if he was played excellently by Alan Hale? Would we...

Gilligan's Island was a critical failure and was only rated in the top 20 programs once during its tenure - even though there was little else of consequence on television. Gilligan's Island also destroyed the career of every actor and actress involved. Not because they were viewed as poor thespians - but because the characters of Gilligan's Island struck such a chord with the public, and became so memorable, that they were hopelessly typecast for the rest of their careers.

Some saw this as a personal tragedy. But not Gilligan...

Bob Denver never once remarked negatively about the role that made him a common household name for almost half a century. In fact, he reveled in it. He was Gilligan to the end, in every rerun and every sappy tv-movie sequel. And why not, he loved to make people laugh and he had found the role that did it and stood the test of time.

He's made me laugh for forty years. And as long as Gilligan's Island reruns and DVDs are around, I'll continue laughing.

The world could use a few more Little Buddies.


A time for accountability

Those responsible will be held accountable...
- President George W. Bush

Ebbers, Lay, Chertoff, Brown.

What do those four names have in common?

All were the leaders of their organizations or corporations and all failed to perform their duties and their negligent actions affected the lives of tens of thousands of people.

What do those names not have in common?
Two of them, Bernie Ebbers and Ken Lay, cost people their life savings. Two of them, Mike Chertoff and Michael Brown, cost people their lives.

Ebbers is in jail serving the equivalent of a life sentence. Lay is awaiting trial and faces a prison sentence of up to 175 years if convicted. Chertoff and Brown are maintaining their jobs, and were praised by the President.

You explain it... I certainly cannot.

Regarding Michael Brown:
But officials acknowledged Tuesday the first department-wide appeal for help came only as the storm raged.

Brown also urged local fire and rescue departments outside Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi not to send trucks or emergency workers into disaster areas without an explicit request for help from state or local governments.

Regarding Michael Chertoff:
Meanwhile, the airline industry said the government's request for help evacuating storm victims didn't come until late Thursday afternoon. The president of the Air Transport Association, James May, said the Homeland Security Department called then to ask if the group could participate in an airlift for refugees.

Those responsible will be held accountable...

... or will they?


Let there be no mistake...

... Today is a great day to be an American citizen.

Today, September 6th, fully one week after the breech of the levees and the flooding of New Orleans, critical relief is finally coming to those affected by hurricane Katrina. And it is coming from the outpouring of aid and assistance from the American people.

As of Monday, seven days after the hurricane, Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard stated that he had only just then seen his first FEMA truck arrive on the scene. But, he said he has seen incredible aid and support from volunteers sent from local communities across the country. The American people have responded in force to the disaster and have said with resounding voice "we will not abandon you." After my personal application to volunteer with disaster relief, my local Red Cross office replied that they have received so many applications that they cannot process them all. Good for us!

From donations of cash and supplies, to volunteers in California, to police and firefighters from New York, it is the American people and their communities who are responding in droves and providing aid and assistance to a weary Gulf Coast area. As an example, the 100 New York City police officers who arrived Monday to assist the exhausted and traumatized New Orleans police force were nothing short of a godsend.

... Today is a poor day to be an American bureaucrat.

Meanwhile, the federal agencies we thought were in place to organize a national relief effort continued a path of ineptitude that can only be classified at this point as near comical - if it weren't for the fact that thousands of people lay dead. Our ineffective politicians and emergency management leaders are quick to spout off the consistent line that "this is not the time for finger pointing and laying blame - that time will come."

Yes it will.

And when it does it will show that the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of the federal government and FEMA - the political body and the organization whose job it is to anticipate and plan for national disasters, both natural and otherwise. And whose explanation for the relief debacle is simply "we never anticipated anything like this." And whose response when the disaster did happen was slow and ineffective. As the outpouring of volunteers waiting in the wings clearly shows: the problem was not in the lack of supplies, services or manpower - it was simply a problem of organization and coordination. The exact function of FEMA.

Yet, while the federal government's relief effort was inept and disorganized, and back-slapping bureaucrats continued with press conferences, photo ops and excuses, and while people continued to die, it was the typical American citizen who finally said "Enough - it's time to get things done."

Finally - it was that typical American who got organized and took action. Look at the many stories of individual citizens and local communities and you'll see who was making the difference, or at least trying. While those we put in charge to manage this type of effort failed miserably to do so, it was the typical citizen who proved what it is to be an American citizen. And it was the typical American citizen who proved how to get things done.

Maybe, just maybe, that's who should be in charge...


Friday, September 02, 2005

Our national disgrace

Today, it is difficult to be in a moderate mood...

Katrina -60hr
The National Hurricane Center warns that Katrina is expected to reach dangerous Category 4 intensity before making landfall in Mississippi or Louisiana. Hours later, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco declare states of emergency.

Katrina -48hr
Expected hurricane upgraded to Category 3 as it approaches coast. Residents of Louisiana's low-lying areas are told they must evacuate.

Katrina -24hr
Katrina upgraded to Category 5. New Orleans and southern Mississippi call for mandatory evacuations. More than 1 million people flee. 10,000 moved to Superdome.

Katrina +0hr
Katrina strikes New Orleans, Biloxi and Gulfport with epic force. Massive devestation and damage.

Day 1: Katrina +24hr
Rising flood waters cause breech of New Orleans levees. City quickly submerges as waters continue to rise. Officials call for evacuation of remaining citizens (100,000+) and move many temporarily to Convention Center and more to Superdome.

Day 2: Katrina +48hr
Waters continue to rise. Mass looting begins, mostly for water and food. Evacuees wait without water, electricity, food, medical care or sanitation for promised aid.

Day 3: Katrina +72hr
Waters stabilize. Hospitals plea for help and get none. Evacuees continue to wait without water, electricity, food, medical care or sanitation for promised aid. Deaths climb higher due to dehydration and heat. Cameramen and reporters can get to evacuees, why can't rescue and aid workers with water and food? National FEMA Director brags about great mobilization in progress while CNBC broadcasts images of citizens dying in front of the camera and bodies being stacked whereever they can - while no aid has yet been delivered.

Day 4: Katrina +96hr
More deaths, little aid. National Guard arrives. Did they bring water and food? No organization. No leadership. Regional FEMA Director calls the relief effort "A Disgrace." Past-Regional FEMA Director agrees.

Everyone agrees.

Evacuees continue to wait for promised aid.

News reports show the dead, dying, starving and dehydrated.

More people die.

Politicians congratulate each other on their great efforts.

More people die.

Still no aid - no timeline or end in sight.

More people die.

Does anyone care?

What a disgrace... Our National Disaster.