Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I told you so!

There are two recent stories that would be no surprise to the regular readers of "blueollie"! (both of you). The "new" stories talked about the rumors of extreme violence in the Superdome and Tom Delay being indicted.

First, some time ago I reported that some of the rumors of violence in New Orleans (in particular, some of the Superdome Stories) were exaggerated, unfounded or false:

Well guess what?
Monday, September 26, 2005
Rumors of deaths greatly exaggerated
Widely reported attacks false or unsubstantiated
6 bodies found at Dome; 4 at Convention Center
By Brian Thevenot and Gordon RussellStaff writers

"After five days managing near-riots, medical horrors and unspeakable living conditions inside the Superdome, Louisiana National Guard Col. Thomas Beron prepared to hand over the dead to representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Following days of internationally reported killings, rapes and gang violence inside the Dome, the doctor from FEMA - Beron doesn't remember his name - came prepared for a grisly scene: He brought a refrigerated 18-wheeler and three doctors to process bodies.
"I've got a report of 200 bodies in the Dome," Beron recalls the doctor saying.
The real total was six, Beron said.
Of those, four died of natural causes, one overdosed and another jumped to his death in an apparent suicide, said Beron, who personally oversaw the turning over of bodies from a Dome freezer, where they lay atop melting bags of ice. State health department officials in charge of body recovery put the official death count at the Dome at 10, but Beron said the other four bodies were found in the street near the Dome, not inside it. Both sources said no one had been killed inside.
At the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, just four bodies were recovered, despites reports of corpses piled inside the building. Only one of the dead appeared to have been slain, said health and law enforcement officials.
That the nation's front-line emergency management believed the body count would resemble that of a bloody battle in a war is but one of scores of examples of myths about the Dome and the Convention Center treated as fact by evacuees, the media and even some of New Orleans' top officials, including the mayor and police superintendent. As the fog of warlike conditions in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath has cleared, the vast majority of reported atrocities committed by evacuees have turned out to be false, or at least unsupported by any evidence, according to key military, law enforcement, medical and civilian officials in positions to know.
"I think 99 percent of it is bulls---," said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Lachney, who played a key role in security and humanitarian work inside the Dome. "Don't get me wrong, bad things happened, but I didn't see any killing and raping and cutting of throats or anything. ... Ninety-nine percent of the people in the Dome were very well-behaved."
Dr. Louis Cataldie, the state Health and Human Services Department administrator overseeing the body recovery operation, said his teams were inundated with false reports about the Dome and Convention Center.
"We swept both buildings several times, because we kept getting reports of more bodies there," Cataldie said. "But it just wasn't the case."
Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan said authorities had confirmed only four murders in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina - making it a typical week in a city that anticipated more than 200 homicides this year. Jordan expressed outrage at reports from many national media outlets that suffering flood victims had turned into mobs of unchecked savages.
"I had the impression that at least 40 or 50 murders had occurred at the two sites," he said. "It's unfortunate we saw these kinds of stories saying crime had taken place on a massive scale when that wasn't the case. And they (national media outlets) have done nothing to follow up on any of these cases, they just accepted what people (on the street) told them. ... It's not consistent with the highest standards of journalism."
As floodwaters forced tens of thousands of evacuees into the Dome and Convention Center, news of unspeakable acts poured out of the nation's media: evacuees firing at helicopters trying to save them; women, children and even babies raped with abandon; people killed for food and water; a 7-year-old raped and killed at the Convention Center. Police, according to their chief, Eddie Compass, found themselves in multiple shootouts inside both shelters, and were forced to race toward muzzle flashes through the dark to disarm the criminals; snipers supposedly fired at doctors and soldiers from downtown high-rises.
In interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Compass reported rapes of "babies," and Mayor Ray Nagin spoke of "hundreds of armed gang members" killing and raping people inside the Dome. Unidentified evacuees told of children stepping over so many bodies, "we couldn't count."
The picture that emerged was one of the impoverished, masses of flood victims resorting to utter depravity, randomly attacking each other, as well as the police trying to protect them and the rescue workers trying to save them. Nagin told Winfrey the crowd has descended to an "almost animalistic state."
Four weeks after the storm, few of the widely reported atrocities have been backed with evidence. The piles of bodies never materialized, and soldiers, police officers and rescue personnel on the front lines say that although anarchy reigned at times and people suffered unimaginable indignities, most of the worst crimes reported at the time never happened.
Military, law enforcement and medical workers agree that the flood of evacuees - about 30,000 at the Dome and an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 at the Convention Center - overwhelmed their security personnel. The 400 to 500 soldiers in the Dome could have been easily overrun by increasingly agitated crowds, but that never happened, said Col. James Knotts, a midlevel commander there. Security was nonexistent at the Convention Center, which was never designated as a shelter. Authorities provided no food, water or medical care until troops secured the building the Friday after the storm.
While the Convention Center saw plenty of mischief, including massive looting and isolated gunfire, and many inside cowered in fear, the hordes of evacuees for the most part did not resort to violence, as legend has it.
"Everything was embellished, everything was exaggerated," said Deputy Police Superintendent Warren Riley. "If one guy said he saw six bodies, then another guy the same six, and another guy saw them - then that became 18."

Next: back in July, I reported that Texas justice officials were hot on Tom Delay's trail and had indicted some of his operatives and were working their way towards him:

Now, the new story:
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Tom DeLay, the second-ranking House Republican, was indicted on Wednesday for his part in a Texas campaign-finance conspiracy and resigned his post.
The powerful Texan, nicknamed "The Hammer" for his reputation as a tough party enforcer, could face up to two years in prison if convicted.
DeLay denied any wrongdoing and said he was being persecuted because of his political successes by "an unabashed partisan zealot," Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, a Democrat, in Austin.
"This is one of the weakest, most baseless indictments in American history. It's a sham and Mr. Earle knows it. It's a charge that cannot hold up even under the most glancing scrutiny," DeLay said in Washington.
"The attacks are what I would expect," Earle said of DeLay's comments. "I don't know what else they would say."
DeLay was indicted by a Travis County grand jury for criminal conspiracy in a scheme with two alleged co-conspirators, John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, to launder $190,000 in corporate donations through the Republican National Committee for distribution to Republican candidates for the Texas Legislature.
The money was funneled to the RNC from Texans for a Republican Majority political action committee, or TRMPAC, which was created by DeLay and associates for the 2002 state elections.
Texas law does not permit the use of corporate money in political campaigns.
"The Texas law that prohibits corporate contributions is a vital link in Texas democracy," Earle told reporters in Austin."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Quad Cities Marathon Walking Photos

I think that these photos show what is right with my walking, as well as what is wrong. First two photos, I am at around 7.5 miles. The head is tilted to one side and my shoulders are in front of my hips; walking "tall" has always been a problem for me. But it appears as if I am using a "heel to toe" motion and I am getting a hip drop. I am doing about 11:30 mpm here.

Next: I am at what appears to be mile 17 or 18; I am still leaning forward a bit and am just a tad flat-footed. I do have a straight knee though.

Four or five miles later (22.5?) I am clearly hurting and starting to lean to one side. The knee is still straight, but my shoulders are slumping forward even more. I am attempting to smile, and if you use your imagination, you can make out a bicep muscle. Notice how low my hands are. My knee appears to be straight though!

Last: I am about 100 meters from the finish; maybe less. My stride is now very short and I am bent forward from the waist and flat footed as all get-out. I have slowed to 15 mpm. Surprisingly, my knee is still straight.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Quad Cities Marathon Part II

Some interesting features from the Quad Cities Marathon
  • Some of the top runners were also affected by the heat:

  • The race director actually parked a vehicle on the train tracks to prevent a train from going across the racecourse!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Quad Cities Marathon 2005: Whew!

Well, it has been 5 weeks since my Leanhorse 100 mile walk and I decided to kick off training for my next ultra. (24 hour Centurion walk at the Ultracentric 24 race in Addison, Texas on November 26-27)

So my first training walk was the Quad Cities Marathon. Background: I walked this race in 5:13 last year, and walked the Andy Payne Marathon (Memorial Day Saturday in Oklahoma city) in 5:25; the latter was 6 weeks after a tough 100 mile trail walk at McNaughton.

I decided to drive up that morning from Peoria (95 miles away) and when I got outside to walk to my truck, I found it hard to breathe due to the stifling heat and humidity. And that was at 5 am!!!! I thought "oh-oh".

We were treated to a gentle rain shower at the start, but that was to be fool's gold. I got into a rhythm right away. I was supposed to be training, but the first mile came at 11:23, which is too fast for my conditioning level on this day. However, instead of backing off, I told myself I wasn't expending much effort (yeah, right) and kept at it. I was to pay for that later!

I came off the I-74 bridge, went through Bettendorff, and settled in along the scenic roadway to Davenport. We had the Mississippi River on one side and large houses on the other. At about mile 5 (still doing 11:4X miles) we entered a riverside bike path.

Then past a stadium and up a steep bridge into Rock Island. I was still doing ok; still working off of runners and making some attempt to use legal racewalk form (straight knee) by keeping the front part of my stride more of less under my body. I still felt reasonably good here, though my legs started to tire.

But then it gradually started to warm up, and the half-marathon folks turned off. Still, I had several groups of runners to go after and I went after them. I caught three who were to see me again; one elderly 50 state type, one younger woman who was mostly walking but mixing in some jogging here and there, and this older lady who had a nice, compact marathon running stride.

Miles 10 through 16.5 were on the Rock Island Arsenal; sights included a golf course and river, historic limestone buildings (form the Civil War era) and other quiet areas. I started to slow right around mile 13; the pace (which I hadn't trained for) was taking its toll.

Miles 14,15 and 16 were in the mid 12 mpm range. But strangely enough, I was still passing people. That was to change at mile 17, which was just off of the bridge off of Arsenal Island.

The cruel part of the course (aside from the heat) is that you are oh-so-close to the finish line at mile 16.5, but you still have some work to do! Going away from the finish line at that point is tough.

The stretch out was along the river, and the faster runners were on their way back. It was fun to cheer for them as it took the mind off of the pain. But it cost me; I slowed to the mid 13's (mpm) during this stretch. I was still competing though. At about mile 17, the older lady with the efficient running form passed me and I wasn't to see her again, until after the race. In the last 9 miles she put 18 minutes on me! That is good pacing.

Also, I saw something a bit strange. There was a woman with, well, no easy way to say this, with the biggest rear end I've ever seen on a marathoner. She passed me at about mile 18 (she was running). But, she also had a very nice, quick, efficient marathon stride; she looked as if she were not working at all. One normally doesn't see marathon runners at that pace looking so good (unless they are elderly, which she isn't). My guess is that this lady has some talent; at a normal size she would probably be winning awards at these events. If I were a coach, I'd tell her that she has the potential to be pretty good at this.

Anyway, the course then joins a bikepath and goes around an industrial plant. The Mississippi river is on one side. It then wanders past some newer houses and around a nature type area; these are miles 20-22. By then I had slowed to the high 13's and was dying fast.

People around me were dying too; we gave each other words of encouragement.

By mile 23, I was into the "just get the believing thing over with". The 50 state guy passed me at mile 22, and the lady who was mostly walking (though had jogged earlier) caught me and walked a few strides with me. My thighs were trashed and I had slowed to the 14:40's; I had stopped competing and was in "survival".

The last mile has you looking at that finish banner which never gets closer! I more or less easily strolled that in 15:09, as I was not going to be breaking 5:30, and really just wanted to get through it. My thighs were twitching and my stride was a bit unsteady in spots.

Legality? Forget it; had judges been there I would have had a ticker-tape parade of red cards.
(bent knees). I was going too slow to be comfortably legal at this point.

Afterwards, I got to talk to Pat Helm and Jerry Crump; both runners who had placed in their age groups. Pat was happy with her time. Jerry wasn't; 3:48 is an excellent time for an older sexagenerian on such a tough day, but he still remembers his sub 3 hour days (as a younger grand master; 50+). Pat and Jerry were mentioned on my 4'th of July race post.

For those who like numbers, here is my demise (I used the decimal form instead of the colon form for times as &^%$# Microsoft Excel loves to give you formats that you don't want).

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Centurion USA, 2005

The Applications for Centurion, USA, 2005 are finally ready! To find information and the necessary applications, click here or cut and paste
into your browser.

What is the Centurion USA? It is a race in which one attempts to walk 100 miles in less than 24 hours. Walking judges will be there to ensure that walkers actually walk 100% of the time. There must be one point of contact with the ground at all times, though the "straight knee" rule of formal racewalking will be greatly relaxed.

This year, the Ultracentric 2005 24 hour race has graciously agreed to let us hold our event as part of their running event. The Ultracentric starts at 10 am on Saturday, November 26, in Addison, Texas, which is near Dallas. The surface is a relatively new 400 meter track, which has new locker and shower facilities.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Sober or not, our President just "wings it" and "has faith"

Or does he think that he is? This issue has been raised many times; once prior to the 2004 election in a New York Times Magazine Article:


"Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a treasury official for the first President Bush, told me recently that ''if Bush wins, there will be a civil war in the Republican Party starting on Nov. 3.'' The nature of that conflict, as Bartlett sees it? Essentially, the same as the one raging across much of the world: a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion.
''Just in the past few months,'' Bartlett said, ''I think a light has gone off for people who've spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.'' Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush's governance, went on to say: ''This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can't be persuaded, that they're extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he's just like them. . . .
''This is why he dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts,'' Bartlett went on to say. ''He truly believes he's on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence.'' Bartlett paused, then said, ''But you can't run the world on faith.''"

Then there has been more criticism along these lines from conservative circles (Kathleen Parker):

President George W. Bush's bold plan to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast erased by Hurricane Katrina has confirmed what many conservatives feared. Bush isn't a conservative.
Well, he is and he isn't. He isn't a fiscal conservative, if you focus only on his proposed $200 billion reconstruction plan. Stupefied observers and GOP critics have said he's acting like a drunken Democrat, inventing New Deals out of bad credit, and cribbing speeches from that other Texas president, LBJ.
Looking more closely at what Bush has proposed, however - and ignoring for a moment the enormous front-end cost - another scene emerges. Seeing the world as Bush does is like looking at one of those computer-generated pictures that you stare at for a long time, trying to let your eyes unfocus on what's close and obvious in order to see the other, often marvelous, image buried within.
You think you're looking at a billion zigzag dots, but then realize you're really seeing a fairy princess fluttering among butterfly gardens and hobbit houses.
It's like that with Bush.
You think you're looking at billions of dollars being tossed out like Mardi Gras beads to a sea of looters and scammers (and those are just the politicians), but then you unfocus your eyes and see what Bush sees: a beautiful landscape of antebellum Habitat for Humanity-built porches filled with happy voucher-educated African-American children giggling on joggling boards in two-parent homes headed by an entrepreneurial father and a stay-at-home mother.
All made possible thanks to Bush's generous reconstruction program wherein - and this is the part that emerges if you stare long enough - he taught the people how to fish.
No, I'm not talking about the hilarious computer-generated photo of Bush and his father fishing in the waist-high waters of New Orleans that made the rounds by e-mail last week. I'm referring to the truest conservative governing principle - that you don't only give a man a fish, which feeds him just today and fosters dependency. You give him a fishing pole and teach him to fish so that he can feed himself for a lifetime
Bush's Big Deal, from his Urban Homesteading Act to his Gulf Opportunity Zone, is essentially a conservative fishing junket for the disenfranchised -

Moreover, if you're the sort who believes that God works in mysterious ways, that life is a mosaic of divinely inspired pieces, that cataclysmic events are ordained for a higher purpose, then you might just believe that your moment on Earth's timeline isn't accidental and that Big Ideas are waiting to be revealed by those willing to see past the details. George W. Bush, it seems, is one of these.
Notwithstanding the price tag, Bush's plan is a brilliant point of light - if it works. And that's an Iraq-sized IF. I note without sarcasm that creating democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq were also brilliant big ideas. Spreading light and freedom in a dark world of tyranny is a big and beautiful (classically liberal) notion - if only so many people didn't have to die in the process; and if only the eventual beneficiaries of those ideas were equally passionate and dedicated to the mission.
In an uncynical world where money is no obstacle - the world in which Bush grew up - the president is, indeed, a visionary with big ideas. In the real world, where a relaxed focus is more likely to reveal a devastated landscape than a fairy prince's fantasy, he's going to need more than the luck of the well-born. He's going to need a miracle. We can trust he is praying for one."

The common thread here: Bush just goes ahead and "just does it", just like those "hell bent for leather" heros in the movies (think "Die Hard", "Dirty Harry", etc.). That, I think, explains his popularity. No, I am not crazy to say "popularity". Yes, his approval ratings have dipped below 40%, but he is still not as unpopular as his dad or as unpopular as President Jimmy Carter were at stages of their presidencies. Given all that has happened within this year, his numbers aren't as bad as some are making them out to be.

Is Bush a Drunk? Wet or Dry? Inquiring Minds Want to Know!

Or is that Enquiring Minds?

Most people know that at one time, President Bush had substance abuse problems. He has admitted as such. Also, there has been speculation among his detractors that he has been a "dry drunk"; even some have suggested that perhaps he hasn't been so dry; witness a oft-censored "Boondocks" cartoon which mentions the January 2002 incident when the President passed out and hit his head, supposedly because he was eating pretzels at too fast of a rate.

And now a well established publication, with all of the credibility of Fox News, comes out with a blockbuster article, which I've provided a link to:

The article reads, in part:


Faced with the biggest crisis of his political life, President Bush has hit the bottle again, The National Enquirer can reveal.
Bush, who said he quit drinking the morning after his 40th birthday, has started boozing amid the Katrina catastrophe.
Family sources have told how the 59-year-old president was caught by First Lady Laura downing a shot of booze at their family ranch in Crawford, Texas, when he learned of the hurricane disaster.
His worried wife yelled at him: "Stop, George."
Following the shocking incident, disclosed here for the first time, Laura privately warned her husband against "falling off the wagon" and vowed to travel with him more often so that she can keep an eye on Dubya, the sources add.
"When the levees broke in New Orleans, it apparently made him reach for a shot," said one insider. "He poured himself a Texas-sized shot of straight whiskey and tossed it back. The First Lady was shocked and shouted: "Stop George!"
"Laura gave him an ultimatum before, 'It's Jim Beam or me.' She doesn't want to replay that nightmare — especially now when it's such tough going for her husband."
Bush is under the worst pressure of his two terms in office and his popularity is near an all-time low. The handling of the Katrina crisis and troop losses in Iraq have fueled public discontent and pushed Bush back to drink.
A Washington source said: "The sad fact is that he has been sneaking drinks for weeks now. Laura may have only just caught him — but the word is his drinking has been going on for a while in the capital. He's been in a pressure cooker for months.
"The war in Iraq, the loss of American lives, has deeply affected him. He takes every soldier's life personally. It has left him emotionally drained.
The result is he's taking drinks here and there, likely in private, to cope. "And now with the worst domestic crisis in his administration over Katrina, you pray his drinking doesn't go out of control."
Yeah, that is the National Enquirer. The ironic thing is that this sort of publication isn't normally popular in liberal circles; the folks who voted for Bush are more likely to read this stuff and take it seriously.

This article has been discussed on the couple oprogressiveve oriented boards that I post on. One poster at the Daily Kos said that this article "had to be bullshit" because of the quote that the loss of American life in Iraq affected him!

There have been many spin-off diaries at the Daily Kos, one of the best is here:

Which reads, in part:
"This has everything to do with Mr. Bush, and whether he's fallen off the wagon or not.
For he is a cripple. He has no heart, no human feelings for other human beings. It never grew in. It's twelve sizes too small. Alone on the stage in his mind, everyone else and everything else are props in a lifelong play about him, only him. He's the only real person in the world. And so he plays with real people like boys play with little green soldiers, crashing waves of men upon one another, and making explosions with their mouths and minds.
The extent of the damage done in his childhood and young adult life is right there in his frightened eyes, in his twitchy and tumbling gait and manner, in his total inability to genuinely work, to accept criticism, to abide stress, to hear bad news, or to show mercy. It's right there in his need for constant praise and agreement, in his view of himself as God's Agent, in the way he confuses himself with America.
Bush is stuck in his 'adjustment' phase, still running from his wounds, still lashing out in pain of them. He hates himself, and the absentee father and cruel mother who built his hellish inner life. But he very likely will be stuck there all of his life, since he shows no inclination to take his inner life for himself and do something about it.
Well. I'm sorry about that, but that is his concern, and his family's.
Our concern is that he is not in control of himself while he is largely in control of our country. What harm he does to our nation while he plays with soldiers and follows the scripts put in front of him by his handlers is amusement to Bush; it is of no real interest or concern to him. It is to us.
That country he's set fire to? That's the one we were going to give to our kids.
Bush has long been described as a dry drunk. Now the Enquirer pegs him as a wet drunk. What a dumbed down question. Wet or dry -- it doesn't matter in the least. What matters is the drunk part of the phrase.
A drunk is a person who flees immediate reality because they find it too painful to abide. Whether they flee by chemical means -- or by a contrived structure of mental, emotional, social, religious and physical supports that let them live in fantasy -- is entirely incidental and secondary. Make a wet drunk dry or make a dry drunk wet -- you've still done nothing about the drunk. You haven't touched the crippled part, and you haven't put them in charge of their own inner life.
You've labeled them wet or dry, clucked over them a bit, and left them acting out and avoiding their windowless room. In Bush's case, acting out on a world stage. Literally, he'll start a nuclear war rather than examine himself."

Harsh, perhaps, but it gets to the point that concerns us all. The point isn't whether he is drinking or not, but how well he is doing his job. Obviously, I think that he is a horrible president, but clearly others disagree. But that is the issue: his job performance.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Conservative Response to Katrina News

Of course it is great news that the thousands upon thousands feared dead in New Orleans as a result of the Katrina disaster was unfounded, though the loss of even one life is tragic.

However The New Republic's Jason Zengerle seems to detect some political happiness coming from conservatives from the "not as bad as was possibly feared" bodycount; he cites reaction in publications such as The National Review.

His article makes an interesting conclusion as to why the reaction is what it is (emphasis mine):

"This overweening desire to defend President Bush, of course, is what likely explains conservatives' attempts to transform understandable confusion over Katrina's death toll into a talking point in their brief against the media's coverage of the storm. After all, it's practically impossible to defend the Bush administration's response to the hurricane on the merits--not after the canning of Michael Brown and the president's own mea culpa (or, as close as he'll ever get to one). So blaming the media for exaggerating the extent of the crisis the storm precipitated is the only option the president's defenders are left with.

But there might be a more troubling explanation for the conservative attempts to define the disaster down. What if conservatives really do believe the crisis precipitated by Katrina was overblown? Ever since the Bush administration bungled its response to the hurricane, some liberals have been all but accusing the president of racism. That strikes me as an unfair charge.
But there's no denying that Bush, in his slowness to grasp the severity of the crisis, appeared to be unmoved by the horrible images coming out of New Orleans. Even after the president finally seemed to wake up from his torpor and traveled to the Gulf Coast four days after the hurricane, he still struck all the wrong notes--holding up Trent Lott as a poster boy for all those hurt by the storm (even though those affected were disproportionately black) and cracking jokes about how he used to go carousing in the Crescent City (while much of the city remained underwater). It wasn't until his address from Jackson Square last week that Bush finally delivered a speech appropriate to the calamity that occasioned it.

But if Bush finally seems to get it, some of his defenders apparently still don't. After all, the horror of Katrina was not just about the number of people who died in the storm. Rather, the horror was about the squalor and anarchy of the Superdome and the chaos at the convention center; the horror was about our poorest, most vulnerable citizens being all but abandoned in their hour of greatest need. Most of all, the horror was about the realization that this was actually happening in the United States. No one who is serious argues that the terribleness of September 11 was exaggerated because the early death toll estimates of the attack proved to be inflated. That conservatives are now trying to make that case about Katrina means one of two things: Either they are so dedicated to defending the president that they are intellectually bankrupt; or they are so unmoved by the plight of those who suffered that they are morally bankrupt. It's hard to know which is worse."

This article, plus something I overheard from a student's cell phone conversation (where the student said "had it been Clinton in office, he would have been right there from day one") draws me to a conclusion:

  1. Clinton genuinely cares about the plight of people, including those who are poor and those who have little power, influence and means. Bush lacks this caring instinct. I am not saying that Bush is overtly hostile, but rather he is not an empathetic person (nor, evidently, is his mother)
  2. One big difference between Clinton supporters and Bush supporters is that Clinton supporters see empathy for others ("I feel your pain") as an asset. Bush supporters see that as a weakness (witness the hostility toward the poor survivors who were stuck in the Superdome, the indifference toward Iraqi civilian casualties, etc.)

I am not tarring all conservatives with this brush; for example I think that Jack Kemp is someone who has genuine compassion for others. I am mostly talking about the Limbaugh listeners and the Free Republic bloggers, as well as some in the "country club" set who are mostly clueless rather than openly hostile (e. g. Barbara Bush).

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Blogging will be slow (like my running) for the next couple of days as I strain to catch up with grading. I am teaching a new course (numerical methods) and it is very time consuming.

Then, I get a call from my best friend in the math department; he wanted for us to go to some math talks at the University of Iowa (a couple of hours away). I almost said "I don't have time" but darn it, if I don't make time for things like this, I'll "die on the vine". So off I am going in about an hour.

Humor part I:
One of the diary writers on the Daily Kos complained that local politicians were avoiding being seen at a local peace rally, including those politicians who are against the Iraq war.

I commented as follows:
"You are right... (none / 0)
So much of politics is about appearances.
Most mainstream politicans won't be caught dead at your typical progressive peace rally, even if they think we ought to be out of Iraq.

Why? Well, look at who typically shows up:

  • old hippies with tye-dye
  • yoga instructors/students
  • college professors (and students) from liberal arts departments, including the token campus radical
  • gnarly old vietnam vets complete with tattered old caps and/or jackets
  • local Unitarian congregations
  • people from local women's groups
  • people who show up at ALL of the protests, whether they know what is being protested about or not.
  • people with bad hair.

Who in their right mind, if they have any desire to win an election, would want to be seen in public with such people?????

(btw, I did make it to our local Peace Network "Mission Accomplished" anniversary demonstration, and belong to at least 4 of the above catagories)
When liberals saw 9-11, we wondered how we could make the country safe. When conservatives saw 9-11, they saw an investment opportunity. "(this is my DailyKos Sig line, which lampoons a comment made by Rove)

Humor, Part II

Speaking of Rove ( as well as Dick Chenney and Rush Limbaugh, Jerry Farwell, among others), it appears that when it comes to the afterlife, they are out of luck!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Fund to rebuild Senator Lott's house!
Hey, you can help a millionare, or you can click to the next url....
Thanks to JasonaTexan from

Killing with Kindness?

Right now, I am watching the MSU-ND football game. I picked ND to win, but picked MSU with the points; right now MSU is taking it to ND. I think that ND has a good coach, but his players are basically the same ones who went 6-6 last year, and a big step down (in talent) from those who went 10-3 in 2002.

So, it appears that his teams won't be taking others by surprise as they did in the first two games; so I am seeing a good, but not earth shattering, 7-4 or maybe 8-3, with perhaps one more upset to go. That is no knock on coach Weis, but rather a reflection of reality.

I also have just finished grading some Math 118 exam papers. Technically, this class is called "calculus with review". In reality, we are trying to teach "precalculus" in a "just in time" style, and the idea is that we take two semesters to cover the material normally covered in our Math 121 course (first semester engineering/math/science calculus class).

The good news is that those students who have natural ability but also have a weak background have a chance adjust to college mathematics. The bad news, for some, is that we still cover the same material, and those who simply lack the basic ability to succeed at this level, or those who are unwilling to pay the price that they have to pay for success (i. e., do large amounts of studying, well beyond what a typical calculus student has to do) won't make it.

So the question is: which students can make it (with the extra effort) and which ones can't?

On this last exam, we had a question which involved inequalities. On this question, roughly 20-25% of the class presented the following answer: "9 < x < 3".

Now we have all written down dumb things under the pressure of an exam. But, there are students who simply don't understand why this statement is nonsense, and frankly won't be able to even after thinking about it. Such students simply aren't going to succeed in any major which requires mathematical thinking.

So, do I have a responsibility to "gently" let these students know that they are in effect wasting their time? Or do I let them spend time, money and effort finding out for themselves.

I've found that today's students don't recieve bad news very well; it appears to me that they are inexperienced in recieving negative feedback. That is too bad, because much of success in life means overcoming failure or coming back from it. But if they are shielded from failure all of their growing up lives, well...

Now I am not against our offering this course; we students who will benefit from it. But the failure rate (in terms of withdraws, F's or D's) is bound to be very, very high, and folks ought not be surprised by that.

By the way, MSU fumbled the ball, and ND has now taken the lead. I haven't a clue as to who will win this game; I'll call it ND 34-31 at the end (right now, ND is up 17-14; whoops make that 17-17; this game is a track meet!).

Middle Income Richard's Almanack

One of the good spin-offs I've had from joining the Ultra Running list is I was able to meet up with some like-minded people (like minded in the "social" meaning; for the most part all members are idiots who do things like run for 100 miles (or more) at a time).

One of them is the producer of the "Middle Income Richard's Almanack"; which basically is a mass e-mail which is sent out at irregular intervals. I always enjoy getting mine (though I have a stack of magazines that I need to read, which include: Marathon and Beyond, Scientific American, The College Mathematics Journal (has one of my articles in the latest issue), The Nation, The New Repubic, National Geographic and yes, The American Conservative.

So, here is a sample of what is in the latest issue of "Middle Income Richard":
  • A Funny Lawer Story (can't verify if this is true or false, but even if false, it makes a good joke)
  • A note about a new credit card scam (this is serious; short version: never give that 3-digit verification number to someone who calls you on the phone and claims to be from the creidit card company; they already have it!)
  • A letter from Michael Moore

MIDDLE INCOME RICHARD'SThird Millennium Almanack

Lawyer Story:

THE BRIEF: This is the best lawyer story of the year, decade, and probably the century.

THE FINDINGS OF FACT: A Charlotte, North Carolina, lawyer purchased a box of very rare and expensive cigars, then insured them against fire, among other things. Within a month, having smoked his entire stockpile of these great cigars and without yet having made even his first premium payment on the policy, the lawyer filed claim against the insurance company. In his claim, the lawyer stated the cigars were lost "in a series of small fires." The insurance company refused to pay, citing the obvious reason: that the man had consumed the cigars in the normal fashion. So the lawyer sued... and won! In delivering the ruling, the judge agreed with the insurance company that the claim was frivolous. But the judge nevertheless stated that the lawyer held a policy from the company in which it had warranted that the cigars were insurable and also guaranteed that it would insure them against fire--without defining what is considered to be "unacceptable fire"--and so was obligated to pay the claim. Rather than endure a lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the ruling and paid $15,000.00 to the lawyer for his loss of all those insured rare cigars due to all the "fires."

NOW COMES THE DEFENDANT WITH THE BEST PART... After the lawyer cashed the check, the insurance company had him arrested on 24 counts of ARSON!!! With his own insurance claim and testimony from the previous case being used against him, the lawyer was convicted of intentionally burning his insured property and was therefore sentenced to 24 months in jail and ordered to pay a $24,000.00 fine. ATTEST: This is a true story and was the 1st place winner in a recent Criminal Lawyers Award Contest.

--submitted by Dr. Mark E. McKeigue, of Flossmoor, IL ...following his cheerful ripping off of this from the Internet ;-)

Credit Card Scam

WARNING: Credit Card Scam
Note, the callers do not ask for your card number; they already have it.
This information is worth reading. By understanding how the VISA & MasterCard Telephone Credit Card Scam works, you'll be better prepared to protect yourself.
My husband was called on Wednesday from "VISA," and I was called on Thursday from "MasterCard."
The scam works like this: Person calling says, "This is (name), and I'm calling from the Security and Fraud Department at VISA. My Badge number is 12460. Your card has been flagged for an unusual purchase pattern, and I'm calling to verify. This would be on your VISA card which was issued by (name of bank). Did you purchase an Anti-Telemarketing Device for $497.99 from a marketing company based in Arizona?" When you say "no", the caller continues with, "Then we will be issuing a credit to your account. This is a company we have been watching and the charges range from $297 to $497, just under the $500 purchase pattern that flags most cards. Before your next statement, the credit will be sent to (gives you your address), is that correct?"
You say "yes" and the caller continues: "I will be starting a fraud investigation. If you have any questions, you should call the 1-800 number listed on the back of your card (1-800-VISA) and ask for Security. You will need to refer to this Control Number." The caller then gives you a 6 digit number. "Do you need me to read it again?"
Here's the IMPORTANT part on how the scam works. The caller then says, "I need to verify you are in possession of your card." He'll ask you to "turn your card over and look for some numbers." There are 7 numerals; the first 4 are part of your card number, and the next 3 are additional security numbers that verify you are the possessor of the card. These are the numbers you are sometimes required to use, for example during Internet purchase transactions, thereby proving you actually have the card. The caller will ask you to read those 3 numbers to him. After you recite them, the caller will say, "That is correct. I just needed to verify that the card has not been lost or stolen, and that you still have your card. Do you have any other questions?" After you say "no," the caller then thanks you and states, "Don't hesitate to call back if you do," and hangs up.
You actually say very little, and the caller never asks for or tells you the card number. But after we were called on Wednesday, we called back within 20 minutes to ask a question. Are we ever glad we did! The real VISA Security Department told us it was a scam and in the last 15 minutes a new purchase of $497.99 was charged to our card.
Long story made short: We made a real fraud report and closed the VISA account. VISA is reissuing us a new number. What the scammers want is that 3-digit PIN number on the back of the card. Don't give it to them!
Instead, tell such a caller that you'll call VISA or MasterCard directly for verification of this conversation. The real VISA people told us that they will never ask for anything on the card, as they already know that information since they issued the card! If you give the scammers your 3-digit PIN number, you think you're receiving a credit. But by the time you get your next statement, you'll see charges for purchases you didn't make; and by then it's almost too late and/or more difficult to file an actual fraud report.
What makes this more remarkable is that on Thursday, I got a call from a "Jason Richardson of MasterCard" with a word-for-word repeat of the VISA scam. This time I didn't let him finish. I hung up! We filed a police report, as instructed by VISA. The police said they are taking several of these reports daily! They also urged us to tell everybody we know that this scam is happening.
Please pass this on to all your family and friends. By informing each other, we protect each other. [Passed along by Jack Thomas, a MIRTMA reader and friend to us all]

Michael Moore Letter (and yes, I know that he sometimes is misleading in his movies)

Sent: Sunday, September 11, 2005 12:36 AMSubject: A Letter to All Who Voted for George W. Bush from Michael Moore

To All My Fellow Americans Who Voted for George W. Bush: On this, the fourth anniversary of 9/11, I'm just curious, how does it feel?

How does it feel to know that the man you elected to lead us after we were attacked went ahead and put a guy in charge of FEMA whose main qualification was that he ran horse shows? That's right. Horse shows. I really want to know--and I ask you this in all sincerity and with all due respect--how do you feel about the utter contempt Mr. Bush has shown for your safety?

C'mon, give me just a moment of honesty. Don't start ranting on about how this disaster in New Orleans was the fault of one of the poorest cities in America. Put aside your hatred of Democrats and liberals and anyone with the last name of Clinton. Just look me in the eye and tell me our President did the right thing after 9/11 by naming a horse show runner as the top man to protect us in case of an emergency or catastrophe. I want you to put aside your self-affixed label of Republican/conservative/born-again/capitalist/ditto-head/right-winger and just talk to me as an American, on the common ground we both call America.

Are we safer now than before 9/11? When you learn that behind the horse show runner, the #2 and #3 men in charge of emergency preparedness have zero experience in emergency preparedness, do you think we are safer?

When you look at Michael Chertoff, the head of Homeland Security, a man with little experience in national security, do you feel secure? When men who never served in the military and have never seen young men die in battle send our young people off to war, do you think they know how to conduct a war?

Do they know what it means to have your legs blown off for a threat that was never there? Do you really believe that turning over important government services to private corporations has resulted in better services for the people? Why do you hate our federal government so much? You have voted for politicians for the past 25 years whose main goal has been to de-fund the federal government.

Do you think that cutting federal programs like FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers has been good or bad for America? GOOD OR BAD? With the nation's debt at an all-time high, do you think tax cuts for the rich are still a good idea? Will you give yours back so hundreds of thousands of homeless in New Orleans can have a home?

Do you believe in Jesus? Really? Didn't he say that we would be judged by how we treat the least among us? Hurricane Katrina came in and blew off the facade that we were a nation with liberty and justice for all. The wind howled and the water rose and what was revealed was that the poor in America shall be left to suffer and die while the President of the United States fiddles and tells them to eat cake. That's not a joke. The day the hurricane hit and the levees broke, Mr. Bush, John McCain, and their rich pals were stuffing themselves with cake.

A full day after the levees broke (the same levees whose repair funding he had cut), Mr. Bush was playing a guitar some country singer gave him. All this while New Orleans sank under water. It would take ANOTHER day before the President would do a flyover in his jumbo jet, peeking out the widow at the misery 2,500 feet below him as he flew back to his second home in DC. It would then be TWO MORE DAYS before a trickle of federal aid and troops would arrive. This was no seven minutes in a sitting trance while children read "My Pet Goat" to him. This was FOUR DAYS of doing nothing other than saying "Brownie (FEMA director Michael Brown), you're doing a heck of a job!"

My Republican friends, does it bother you that we are the laughing stock of the world?

And on this sacred day of remembrance, do you think we honor or shame those who died on 9/11/01? If we learned nothing and find ourselves today every bit as vulnerable and unprepared as we were on that bright sunny morning, then did the 3,000 die in vain? Our vulnerability is not just about dealing with terrorists or natural disasters. We are vulnerable and unsafe because we allow one in eight Americans to live in horrible poverty. We accept an educational system where one in six children never graduate and most of those who do can't string a coherent sentence together.

The middle class can't pay the mortgage or the hospital bills and 45 million have no health coverage whatsoever.

Are we safe? Do you really feel safe? You can only move so far out and build so many gated communities before the fruit of what you've sown will be crashing through your walls and demanding retribution. Do you really want to wait until that happens? Or is it your hope that if they are left alone long enough to soil themselves and shoot themselves and drown in the filth that fills the street that maybe the problem will somehow go away? I know you know better.

You gave the country and the world a man who wasn't up for the job and all he does is hire people who aren't up for the job. You did this to us, to the world, to the people of New Orleans. Please fix it. Bush is yours. And you know, for our peace and safety and security, this has to be fixed. What do you propose? I have an idea, and it isn't a horse show.

Yours,Michael Moore

---To subscribe to Mike's Message, click on the above link to his website.

Morton Pumpkinfest 10K run: I am a worthless blubber butt!

Ok, I am ashamed to say this, but I actually met my goal today.

I decided to try my hand at running a 10K; I had a cool day and a fast course to aid me. We (Tracy, Barbara, and I) drove there together; Barbara walked the 2 miler and Tracy ran the 10K as well (1:06:10).

At the start I noticed that I was a bit too close to Bob Fuller (Religion professor at Bradley) and Lupe Marteniz, so I figured that I had to back off a bit. Still, the first mile, which consisted of a couple of long straight aways though the edges of a sleepy town and cornfields, came at 7:35. That, for my current running conditioning, is too fast. Still, the cool, foggy day was lovely for running, and I was in the "thick" of the pack.

I settled and tried to be somewhat efficient; unfortunately I have an awkward, stiff, lumbering stride. Backing off a bit, mile 2 came 7:45 later (15:22). I started to look for people to pace off of, and right then this cutie who was wearing tight, shiny spandex shorts came scooting past me. So I made a tactical decision to try to stay with her a bit.

She later told me, in a polite way, that I was, uh, rather noisy. When I try to run I pound the pavement and wheeze all over the place. I've never figured out how to be smooth while running.

I knew that mile 3 was short so I didn't really pay attention to my split; by then we had gone out well into the country and were going past the foggy corn fields. Lupe and Bob were out of sight by that time, and I was gaining on another lass who was wearing an "almost bun-hugger". I also passed by Eric, one of Barbara's former hall directors at Bradley, who said "good job" to me as I passed. I wondered aloud at how long I would last as my legs were getting heavy.

But my breathing was more labored and as I passed to mile 4 I had to walk a few steps, and the cutie got away. I got back rather quickly and hit mile 4 in 31:35; the last 2 miles took 16:15. I got back on it but couldn't regain my lost places.

The next part had us turning past some nice houses and angling toward the final straight away. I was very heavy legged and could see my goal of 50:00 slipping away. Still, I was 39:54 at mile 5 and still had a shot.

I knew that I would have a long decline to finish along, so I decided to float for the next 5 minutes and then pick it up. That seemed to work and I started to catch folks at about 45 minutes (and thought, "5 years ago, I would have been finished").

I caught Eric (who patted me on the back as I went by; I wondered aloud if I had kicked in a bit early) and managed to catch some folks who had caught me a few minutes earlier. That last straight away took forever!!! (so it seemed). I wanted to stop and walk, but I couldn't as I heard people call out my name. So I floated a few steps and then picked it up again; good thing too as I saw the clock at 49:30. I rushed in and finished in 49:47 (my watch, 49:55 clock; it took me 8 seconds to reach the start line). And felt on the verge of feeling bad. ok, I felt terrible. :-)

Nevertheless, I had made my goal (sub 50) but hadn't expected it to be this hard. Next week's marathon should go a bit smoother as I am planning on walking it.

Afterward, I met Doug from yoga class (level II on Wednesdays) and I got to talk with the cute-butted lady who I paced off of (she beat me though I could see her finish); she commented that "my running made *her* hurt!" Oh well, we can't all be graceful.
(120 out of 277)

Friday, September 16, 2005

Google Bombing

The latest "Google" joke that I posted here (enter "failure" in Google, get George Bush's biography) has a reason behind it: it is called "Google Bombing":

'Miserable failure' links to Bush George W Bush has been Google bombed. Web users entering the words "miserable failure" into the popular search engine are directed to the biography of the president on the White House website.

The trick is possible because Google searches more than just the contents of web pages - it also counts how often a site is linked to, and with what words.

Thus, members of an online community can affect the results of Google searches - called "Google bombing" - by linking their sites to a chosen one.
Weblogger Adam Mathes is credited with inventing the practice in 2001, when he used it to link the phrase "talentless hack" to a friend's website.
The search engine can be manipulated by a fairly small group of users, one report suggested. "

Funny what one can learn by spreading a joke.
So, feel free to "Google Bomb" this blog with phrases such as "awesome intellect", "Stephen Hawking's intellectual superior", "babe magnet", "handsome devil", "awesome athlete", "great body" and the like!!!!

This is a SERIOUS BLOG folks, and....

To see how seriously I take my blogging, check out this New Yorker cartoon!

If nothing else, this gives my long suffering wife a break from my dreary pontification.

Next, this is kind of fun: the guy in the next office told me to do a google search under the word "failure". This is what I got, HONESTLY!!!

(nope, not a photoshop invention)

Now, about that Bush Katrina speech: the New York Times got it right:

"President Bush said three things last night that desperately needed to be said. He forthrightly acknowledged his responsibility for the egregious mishandling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He spoke clearly and candidly about race and poverty. And finally, he was clear about what would be needed to bring back the Gulf Coast and said the federal government would have to lead and pay for that effort.
Once again, as he did after 9/11, Mr. Bush has responded to disaster with disconcerting uncertainty, then risen to the occasion later. Once again, he has delivered a speech that will reassure many Americans that he understands the enormity of the event and the demands of leadership to come.
But there are plenty of reasons for concern. After 9/11, Mr. Bush responded not only with a stirring speech at the ruins of the World Trade Center and a principled response to the Taliban in Afghanistan. He also decided to invade Iraq, and he tried to do it on the cheap - with disastrous results, for which the country continues to pay every day.
This time, Mr. Bush must come up with a more coherent and well-organized follow-through.

The speech, as good as it was, marks only a moment of clarity. Mr. Bush's problem in dealing with Katrina has been, at bottom, the same one that has bedeviled the administration since 9/11. The president came to office with a deep antipathy toward big government that has turned out to be utterly inappropriate for the world he inherited. The result has not been less government, but it has definitely been inept government.

Given this history, it's impossible not to worry about what will happen to the billions of dollars being committed to New Orleans, especially since the Army Corps of Engineers' top man in the reclamation effort was once the corps' top man overseeing contracts in Iraq.
The administration is staffed several levels deep with officials who share their leader's distrust of large, expensive federal undertakings. But it is now faced with an unprecedented task: housing hundreds of thousands of homeless people, making sure their children are educated over the short term and eventually getting them a start on a new life. There is no way to do that without a focused federal effort.

The entire nation, he said, saw the poverty that "has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America." Polls show that black Americans are far angrier and more skeptical than whites about the administration's actions since the storm. Mr. Bush's words could begin a much-needed healing process. But that will happen only if they are followed by deeds that are as principled, disciplined and ambitious as Mr. Bush's speech."

In other words, the words were pretty good. But will the action be as good? Only time will tell, but past history is not encouraging.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Good Speech, Mr. President...

Too bad your credibility is zero. Seriously, had President Clinton given a similar speech, I would have liked it. But, one has to go by one's track record, and this President has a dismal track record on execution.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Extra from the Daily Kos!!! Practical Joke Played on Bush!


"New Orleans, LA (APE) - President Bush yesterday became enraged over a practical joke played upon him by a staffer aboard Air Force One. White House spokespersons are remaining closed mouthed about the incident. Bush reportedly has stated that he will be conducting an investigation himself and will get to the bottom of it. The incident occurred as he was in route from Washington, DC to the flood ravaged city of New Orleans.
APE obtained a digital photograph of the incident smuggled out by an un-named inside source at great professional and personal risk.
Dood Abides's diary :: ::
President Bush asleep aboard Air Force One with a rescue/damage assessment on his forehead
In the picture, apparently one of the President's aides has used a neon orange highlighter pen to scribble a rescue/damage assessment upon his forehead. The terminology would indicate that Bush had been assessed on 09-12-05 by a K.R., who found that no one was home, and the structure was condemned.
Bush apparently became very enraged after staffers failed to inform him of the joke, and he was seen in public on a damage assessment tour with Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, with the scribbling on his forehead. It was quickly washed off with bottled water after the governor and mayor pointed it out. "

What is truly sad is that there are probably right-wing bloggers out there, spending hours "debunking" this "story"!!!!!!!!!!

So, why all of this harsh Bush bashing? Well, I know that it isn't that productive, politically speaking, as the GOP'ers who are up for reelection in 2006 are starting to maintain some distance. So from my political perspective, having Bush around helps my party.

But I am an American first, and a Democrat second. And I think that this President is causing great harm to our country. A couple of opinions:

by Bill in Portland Maine Wed Sep 14th, 2005 at 07:13:24 PDTFrom the GREAT STATE OF MAINE...
New Rule:

"America must recall the president. That's what this country needs. A good, old-fashioned, California-style recall election! Complete with Gary Coleman, porno actresses and action film stars."

"Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you anymore. There's no more money to spend. You used up all of that. You can't start another war because you also used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people.
Yeah, listen to your mom. The cupboard's bare, the credit card's maxed out, and no one is speaking to you: mission accomplished! Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service. And the oil company. And the baseball team. It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or spaceman?!
Now, I know what you're saying. You're saying that there's so many other things that you, as president, could involve yourself in...Please don't. I know, I know, there's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela, and eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church and Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote. But, sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poorly I'm surprised you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man. "
--Bill Maher

Living Too Much in the Bubble?A bungled initial response to Katrina exposed the perils of a rigid, insular White House. Inside Bush's plan to show he isn't isolatedBy MIKE ALLEN / WASHINGTON

"President Bush was seated in the White House Situation Room, watching military and disaster officials beaming in from the Gulf Coast on the giant screen of his secure video- teleconferencing system. It had been nearly a week since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, ripping gashes in the Superdome and swamping homes up to their eaves. Bush, more fidgety than usual, was hearing a jumble of conflicting reports about the number of refugees in the Convention Center and the whereabouts of two trucks and trailers loaded with water and food. Furious, he interrupted and glared at the camera transmitting his image back to Mississippi. "I know y'all are trying as hard as you can, but it ain't cuttin' it," the Commander in Chief barked. "I wanna know why. We gotta do better."
This was not so much a moment of executive command as one that betrayed Bush's growing sense that his presidency was taking a beating too. A TIME poll conducted last week shows how badly it has been wounded: his overall approval rating has dropped to 42%, his lowest mark since taking office. And while 36% of respondents said they were satisfied with his explanation of why the government was not able to provide relief to hurricane victims sooner, 57% said they were dissatisfied--an ominous result for a politician who banks on his image as a straight shooter.
Longtime Bush watchers say they are not shocked that he missed his moment--one of his most trusted confidants calls him "a better third- and fourth-quarter player," who focuses and delivers when he sees the stakes. What surprised them was that he still appeared to be stutter-stepping in the second week of the crisis, struggling to make up for past lapses instead of taking control with a grand gesture. Just as Katrina exposed the lurking problems of race and poverty, it also revealed the limitations of Bush's rigid, top-down approach to the presidency. "The extremely highly centralized control of the government--the engine of Bush's success--failed him this time," a key adviser said.
The missteps on Katrina came at a crucial moment in Bush's second term, when his top legislative priority at home, Social Security reform, was already on life support and the war in Iraq was becoming a mounting economic and political burden. The Administration that had been determined to defy history and ward off the second-term curse--and early lame-duck status--by controlling the agenda and seizing opportunities appears increasingly at the mercy of events, at home and abroad.
And as if the West Wing were suddenly snakebit, his franchise player, senior adviser and deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove, was on the disabled list for part of last week, working from home after being briefly hospitalized with painful kidney stones.
Bush has always said the Presidency is about doing big things, and a friend who chatted with him one evening in July said he seemed to be craving a fresh mission even though the one he has pursued in Iraq is far from being on a steady footing. "He was looking for the next really important thing to do," the friend said. "You could hear him almost sorting it out to himself. He just sort of figured it would come."
But when it did, he did not immediately show that he sensed its magnitude. On the Monday that Hurricane Katrina landed and the Crescent City began drowning, Bush was joshing with Senator John McCain on the tarmac of an Air Force base in Arizona, posing with a melting birthday cake. Like a scene out of a Michael Moore mockumentary, he was heading into a long-planned Medicare round table at a local country club, joking that he had "spiced up" his entourage by bringing the First Lady, then noting to the audience that he had phoned Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff from Air Force One. "I said, 'Are you working with the Governor?'" Bush recounted. "He said, 'You bet we are.'" But the President was not talking about the killer storm. He was talking about immigration, and the Governor was Arizona's.
The day after Katrina's landfall, Bush awoke in San Diego and just after 5 a.m. local time talked to an aide about the seriousness of the storm, then convened an emergency conference call of his top staff. He was scheduled to spend a few more nights at the ranch, but an aide said he blurted out, "We're going back." Bush also said he wanted Cabinet members recalled from vacations. At a Cabinet meeting last week, according to a participant, Bush said he knew he had "a big problem to solve."
From tarmac to Cabinet room, the President's performance was uneven at the very least, and associates say that can be explained by several factors. Some are specific to his CEO style, others endemic to second terms, but all of them came together in early September much like Katrina itself. The first was his elongated summer vacation: Bush upped to nearly five weeks his traditional month of working vacation at the Crawford ranch, a vacuum that always alarmed his aides because it gave others an opening for capturing the news agenda. While the staff agonized about whether he should try to head off mounting criticism of the Iraq war by meeting a second time with Cindy Sheehan to discuss the death of her soldier son, Bush rejected the idea, saying part of the job is to expect protesters wherever he goes and he needs to "go on with my life, to keep a balanced life."
In addition, former aides say there has always been enormous pressure on White House officials to take only the most vital decisions to Bush and let the bureaucracy deal with everything else. Bush does not appear to tap sources deep inside his government for information, the way his father or Bill Clinton did, preferring to get reports through channels. A highly screened information chain is fine when everything is going well, but in a crisis it can hinder. Louisiana officials say it took hours for Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco to reach Bush (although when she did, he talked to her soothingly, according to White House officials). "His inner circle takes pride in being able to tell him 'everything is under control,' when in this case it was not," said a former aide. "The whole idea that you have to only burden him with things 'that rise to his level' bit them this time."
A related factor, aides and outside allies concede, is what many of them see as the President's increasing isolation. Bush's bubble has grown more hermetic in the second term, they say, with fewer people willing or able to bring him bad news--or tell him when he's wrong. Bush has never been adroit about this. A youngish aide who is a Bush favorite described the perils of correcting the boss. "The first time I told him he was wrong, he started yelling at me," the aide recalled about a session during the first term. "Then I showed him where he was wrong, and he said, 'All right. I understand. Good job.' He patted me on the shoulder. I went and had dry heaves in the bathroom."
But as the Bush era begins to wane, some remaining aides lack the chops to set him right when he is off course. Several of his closest advisers--including Condoleezza Rice, Alberto Gonzales and Karen Hughes--have left the West Wing for Cabinet posts or jobs in other agencies. His chief of staff, Andrew Card, has never been mistaken for James Baker, the man who made a minor career out of setting Bush's father right. And Bush has filled a number of lesser spots around the government with political hacks and patronage candidates--most embarrassingly Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), who was yanked from on-site supervision of Katrina on Friday.
"Katrina has shown the incredible weakness of the notion that you can have weak players in key spots because the only people who matter are in the White House," said a lobbyist who is tight with the Administration. "You can't have a Mike Brown at FEMA unless you can guarantee that there isn't going to be a catastrophe."
The result is a kind of echo chamber in which good news can prevail over bad--even when there is a surfeit of evidence to the contrary. For example, a source tells TIME that four days after Katrina struck, Bush himself briefed his father and former President Clinton in a way that left too rosy an impression of the progress made. "It bore no resemblance to what was actually happening," said someone familiar with the presentation.
Finally, if the Bush team initially missed the significance of a city with a majority of black citizens in peril, it may be because he has organized his presidency around a different segment of the population. Bush has governed largely from the right after winning the election decisively with his people on his issues, with few concessions to the center. Bush said at his re-election victory celebration that the new term would be "a new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation"--a pledge that now carries fresh urgency."

The article then goes on to describe his comeback strategy.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Tribute to our President

Well, our President finally accepted responsibility for something that went wrong. Well, good move, Mr. President; I am glad that you finally did the right thing. So, in tribute to what I am sure in a sincere acceptance of responsibility, and part in tribute to your contribution to the science education of our country (by endorsing the teaching of "intelligent design" in science classes), I offer the following photo (an oldie but goodie in cyberspace)
Yes, I know that is a cheap shot. And yes, when I first got it it offended me; after all there was a time when I merely disagreed with his policies but thought of him as basically a good human being. Those days are long over.
And please, no Clinton comparisons. President Clinton did wrong when he lied during what turned out to be irrelevant testimony in a civil trail; he lied about consentual sex in an effort to avoid personal embarrasement. But, as my bumper sticker says, "No one died when Clinton Lied". Clinton at least cared about others, and he did a reasonably good job of running the country. He did well enough that he still hacks off right wing nutjobs even today; they can lie all they want to (e. g., Limbaugh, aka "Big Fat Idiot", who claimed that Clinton never ran a surplus; see The truth is still clear.

A Conservative Democrat Who Get's it: Senator Bayh

First, I'll be blunt: I disagree with Senator Bayh on some issues, including the Iraq war. We should have never went in, and I have always thought that. Nevertheless, we appear to aggree on the role the federal government should have in helping out its citizens, especially the most vunerable:

He says, in part (see the above link for the entire essay):

"Two weeks ago, we witnessed a tragedy of equal proportions -- not a terrorist attack but an act of nature, made more tragic by the violation of the bedrock American value of community and the fundamental promise implicit between our government and our people.
Our government failed at one of the most basic functions it has -- providing for the physical safety of our citizens -- and in so doing raised basic questions about who we are as a people, what makes us special, and whether our leaders understand.
Among the horrors, we also witnessed the best of America. There were countless episodes of tremendous heroism and heartwarming generosity. Americans from across the country rose up to play the role the government should have played by giving money, food, water, clothes, even opening their homes to complete strangers. That's the best of America.
There will be a time for the hearings and fact-findings and commissions. Those investigations must be independent so that we can get to the bottom of what happened and why. And those responsible must be held accountable for their mistakes, not promoted or awarded medals.
However, the failures speak to something deeper -- the breaking of a promise between our basic institutions of government and the American people who have created those institutions.
The fact is scores, maybe hundreds of lives were lost not simply because people didn't leave, or because the levees were not strengthened, but because after the storm our institutions of government failed them. And that's just not right.
Many of us never thought we would live to see the day when tens of thousands of our fellow citizens would be left for nearly a week to fend for themselves without food, without water, and stranded on rooftops.
This is a moment where we have to step back and revisit the idea of what America is really all about.
People came here because of that idea -- they came here because of the promise that everyone has an opportunity to aspire to something greater and if you work hard and play by the rules, our government will stand up for you if you happen to fall down on your luck.
What happened last week in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast broke faith with that idea in a profound way.
The truth about America today is that our institutions -- and particularly this Administration -- have broken their fundamental promise to the people they were elected to serve.
It's unfortunate, but perhaps not surprising from leaders ideologically hostile to the institutions that they lead. The answer to the challenges we confront today can't be big government, but it also cannot be no government. And above all, it cannot be incompetent government.
What we are seeing in New Orleans is the result of a series of misjudgments and misdirected priorities that have all produced an increasingly tragic result -- a people unprotected by their own government -- a government that no longer embodies our most basic and most precious values. From soldiers without armor to protect them in battle to children with no health care to protect them against disease to corporate employees with no pensions to guide them in their elder years. This administration has sown the seeds of indifference and division for too long and now we are all reaping the whirlwind.
Americans have always prized individuality -- it is part of our national DNA, but America is a community that draws strength from the sum of our people and has always known that the total of that sum is worth far more than its individual parts.
We can only do so much alone to maximize our freedom, to make the most of our liberties. Sometimes we must act together. It is what separates us from the Law of the Jungle. It's what makes us special and different from other countries too."

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Leanhorse, revisited (photos)

First photo: Barbara with her Rotary Club's trip to the Lincoln Library in Springfield with visiting Russians. She is the blonde right above the "N" and I am right behind here (with white beard). The lady runner with the white top and black shorts is Janet Shaw, who ran 10:02 for her first 50 miler ever. The burly guy with the water bottle is Illinois Valley Strider Michael Siltman who finished his first 100 miler at Leanhorse; the pathetic looking walker (with a questionable but not necessarily illegal left knee) is me; by this time (20 miles) the rocks had gotten into my shoes and caused blisters on both heels. Things were to get worse.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

New Orleans: Why didn't they leave, on foot if necessary?

Why? Well, it turns out that law enforcement in the surrounding cities and districts wouldn't let them!

(see the above link to refernce the links referred to in the story below)

"Dry Crescent City Bridge : Keep Escaping Walkers off - shoot them. by ctsteve [Subscribe] Sat Sep 10th, 2005 at 08:57:09 PDTWhile Bush was on vacation and having fun at birthday parties ect, people trying to walk out of the city were shot at, to keep them from crossing the bridge to safety into their suburban towns. This is what happens when there is no national leadership in a national emergency.
Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly has an excellent article posted today asking why people from New Orleans were stopped from crossing some bridges out.One bridge is the Crescent City Bridge next to the New Orleans Superdome. Mr Drum asks
For the past couple of days I've vaguely noticed some stories circulating about police preventing people from leaving New Orleans after Katrina hit, but there have been so many urban legendish anecdotes like this making the rounds that I didn't pay much attention to it.
Big mistake. Not only is the story true, it's worse than you can imagine. It wasn't New Orleans cops keeping people in, it was cops from other cities keeping people out:

ctsteve's diary :: ::
First, many of the stranded, dead, and dying were women, children, old, or infirm. Many of the able bodied DID try to walk out. All the roads out of town were washed out except the Crescent Cities Bridge, which led into Gretna, in Jefferson Parish. - link
On Fox News of all places Geraldo Rovera said:
"Let them walk out of here, let them walk the hell out of here!" he exclaimed in one of his calmer moments. "Look in the face of the baby. ... Let them walk over this damn interstate and let them out of here!"

Distance from Superdome to Crescent City Bridge - 2.7 miles.
From The Times-Picayune Meanwhile there were journalists, including some who work for The Times-Picayune, going in and out of the city via the Crescnt City Connection.
Two paramedics stranded in New Orleans in the wake of hurricane Katrina give their account of self-organisation and abandonment in the disaster zone
As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and of the commander's assurances. The sheriffs informed us there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.
We questioned why we couldn't cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the 6-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their City. These were code words for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans.

ABC Nightline

NAGIN: I can't explain the response. And here's what else I can't explain: We are basically, almost surrounded by water. To the east, the bridge is out, you can't escape. Going west, you can't escape because the bridge is under water. We found one evacuation route, to walk across the Crescent City Connection, on the overpass, down Highway 90 to 310 to I10, to go get relief.
People got restless and there was overcrowding at the convention center. They asked us, "Is there any other option?" We said, "Well, if you want to walk, across the Crescent City Connection, there's buses coming, you may be able to find some relief." They started marching. At the parish line, the county line of Gretna, they were met with attack dogs and police officers with machine guns saying "You have to turn back..."

NBC4 - Long Beach Woman Trapped In New Orleans

"They told us to go to the Crescent City connection for buses, ready to pick us up," she said. "We walked over dangerous ground, past the convention center. We got up the ramp and (someone) started shooting."
Thursday Sept 1. from CNN

Nagin advised those gathered at the center to march over the Crescent City Connection bridge to the west bank of the Mississippi River to find relief in neighboring Jefferson Parish.
"The convention center is unsanitary and unsafe, and we are running out of supplies," said Nagin, adding that officials did not expect to have enough buses for evacuations.
UPDATE: From the Nytimes: Police in Suburbs Blocked Evacuees, Witnesses Report Police agencies to the south of New Orleans were so fearful of the crowds trying to leave the city after Hurricane Katrina that they sealed a crucial bridge over the Mississippi River and turned back hundreds of desperate evacuees, two paramedics who were in the crowd said. The paramedics and two other witnesses said officers sometimes shot guns over the heads of fleeing people, who, instead of complying immediately with orders to leave the bridge, pleaded to be let through, the paramedics and two other witnesses said. The witnesses said they had been told by the New Orleans police to cross that same bridge because buses were waiting for them there. Instead, a suburban police officer angrily ordered about 200 people to abandon an encampment between the highways near the bridge. The officer then confiscated their food and water, the four witnesses said. The incidents took place in the first days after the storm last week, they said. From Kos diary by darrelPlant: Exit to the Convention Center UPDATE: Dean: U.S. must face 'ugly truth' about Katrina
Tourists Realize They're Afterthought
First the federal government took the buses they had hired to evacuate them. Then their hotels turned them out onto the desolate streets
They trudged for blocks to walk over a bridge, but officers wouldn't let them cross _ and fired a few warning shots over their heads to convince them.
Fleeing Katrina, Finding Ukiah
"Once we arrived there, the mayor of Gretna, his police force, police chief ... they jumped out with M-16s and shotguns and told us to get out. We had kids terrified. They said we did not have permission to be in their city. They surrounded us, cocked their guns, told us not to move -- told us to gather together. ... Our superintendent tried to explain to them that we were waiting for buses and didn't need rations," Kevin said. "And the bad thing about that is, (due to the flooding) that was the only way in and out of the city," Tony said. UPDATE: DKos diaries - :
Another NO Story from the inside
What REALLY happened in New Orleans: Denise Moore's story
Gretna Sheriff's Dept
Shocking Story in UPI
UPDATED from comments: "This American Life" they featured an interview of out-of-towners (from San Francisco) who recount their horrifying attempts to leave New Orleans via this bridge. It pretty much is similar to what is being reported. "

Doctors Response to Horrific events and counseling

Dr. Andy has an interesting article tells the story of those medical doctors who gave emergency care to vicitims of the London bombings:

Those stories are interesting in their own right. But, he also brings up the issue: does "after the fact" counseling help in such cases? An article in the New England Jounral of Medicine suggests "not":
Part of the article reads:

"There have now been more than a dozen controlled trials in which people who have been involved in accidents and other traumatic events have been randomly assigned to receive or not to receive such counseling. The results have shown conclusively that such immediate psychological debriefing does not work. Those who received it were no better off emotionally than those who did not. Worse, the better studies with the longer follow-up periods showed that receiving such counseling actually increased the likelihood of later psychological problems. In fact, the people who seemed to be harmed by this intervention were those who had been especially upset at the time — precisely those who one might think ought to be treated.1 So whereas immediate post-trauma counseling may reassure the rest of us that something is being done, it does not actually help those who receive it.
Why doesn't it work? For some, such counseling is just too painful and comes too soon. It is also possible that warning people about potential symptoms makes them more likely to experience them. For some people, not talking is the most appropriate immediate response. Talking to a professional whom one has never met before and might not meet again may even get in the way of doing what comes naturally — talking with family members, friends, colleagues, religious advisors, or the family doctor. The people who know us best are likely to know what support we need and when we need it.
Asking people to talk about their feelings when they are still raw with pain is not always a good idea. The day after the bombing, all the television news bulletins showed footage of the father and the grandfather of 20-year-old Shahara Islam, who had gone to work on July 7 and hadn't been seen since. There we saw intense distress — the grandfather unable to articulate a coherent word, the father so distraught that it was uncomfortable to watch him. We didn't need to ask them how they were feeling. Five days later, it was announced that Shahara Islam had been killed in the bus explosion at Tavistock Square. Immediate counseling is not going to heal her family's grief.
Instead, what people need during the first few days is the support of their family and friends and assistance with information, finances, travel, and the planning of funerals. The most appropriate immediate mental health interventions are practical, not emotional.2
Many people who are now in distress and despair will heal with time. Others will not, and serious psychological illnesses such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder will develop in some. Prevention of these disorders would have required avoidance of the doomed trains. But the illnesses can be treated, and there are already plans to provide treatment."

10 September: Did I ever get my underpants in a wad!

Yeah, I kind of went ballistic yesterday. I was comfortable with ignorant folks being taken in by Faux News, but to see otherwise intelligent folks buying into their BS, well, lots of complex emotions there.

This moring I was going to go for a longish racewalk but then I found out that my wife (who is about the most unathletic person that I've ever met) wanted to go to a local Park (Forest Park Nature Center) and use her trekking poles on the trails. So, I actually tagged along with her and ended up running 6 miles on the trails. I barely missed a PR on the "outer loop" (lower Deer Run to Wakerobin to Possum Path to Wilderness) 38:30, pr is 38:22. I then followed by a 2.5 miles on the Pimituoui to finish 6. The day was lovely.

Currently I am watching the ND-Michigan football game; ND is up 7-0 but it appears that momentum has shifted Michigan's way. I have no idea who will win, but it won't be 38-0 as it was two years ago.

Now, back to events. Here is how this blog entry goes:
  1. John Conyers (bankruptcy law suspension and FEMA)
  2. David Brooks idea for resettlement of lower income survivors
  3. Lt. Shand and Udkow lend a hand (and a helicopter) and end up in the doghouse
  4. Some conservatives have a good heart but still don't get it; others don't have good hearts
  5. Kathlee Parker gives her opinion of our President's handling of the Katrina crisis. Or is it the Corina crisis?

    Representative John Conyers: thank you for seeking to get some bankruptcy law relief to Katrina survivors. Part of what he sent to his backers:

    "Third, I am introducing a law to amend the Bankruptcy Code so that the most onerous provisions of the new law, scheduled to take effect October 17, do not inflict damage on the millions of victims of Hurricane Katrina and their families."
    Link: Raw Story Article And he is right.
One thing we have to be paying attention to is to what is going to happen to the displaced low income Katrina survivors. They will have to live somewhere, but where? This is already a problem with the Katrina survivors, as reported by the Seattle P. I.

What happens if low income housing isn't rebuilt? Remember Representative Haster's "bulldozed" remark? According to an NPR feature, this is still a problem with Hurricane Charlie victims.
Still, some people are thinking about it, including David Brooks, who presents some ideas:

"The first rule of the rebuilding effort should be: Nothing Like Before. Most of the ambitious and organized people abandoned the inner-city areas of New Orleans long ago, leaving neighborhoods where roughly three-quarters of the people were poor.
In those cultural zones, many people dropped out of high school, so it seemed normal to drop out of high school. Many teenage girls had babies, so it seemed normal to become a teenage mother. It was hard for men to get stable jobs, so it was not abnormal for them to commit crimes and hop from one relationship to another. Many people lacked marketable social skills, so it was hard for young people to learn these skills from parents, neighbors and peers.
If we just put up new buildings and allow the same people to move back into their old neighborhoods, then urban New Orleans will become just as rundown and dysfunctional as before.
That's why the second rule of rebuilding should be: Culturally Integrate. Culturally Integrate. Culturally Integrate. The only chance we have to break the cycle of poverty is to integrate people who lack middle-class skills into neighborhoods with people who possess these skills and who insist on certain standards of behavior.
The most famous example of cultural integration is the Gautreaux program, in which poor families from Chicago were given the chance to move into suburban middle-class areas. The adults in these families did only slightly better than the adults left behind, but the children in the relocated families did much better.
These kids suddenly found themselves surrounded by peers who expected to graduate from high school and go to college. After the shock of adapting to the more demanding suburban schools, they were more likely to go to college, too.
The Clinton administration built on Gautreaux by creating the Moving to Opportunity program, dispersing poor families to middle-class neighborhoods in five other metropolitan areas. This time the results weren't as striking, but were still generally positive. The relocated parents weren't more likely to have jobs or increase their earnings (being close to job opportunities is not enough - you need the skills and habits to get the jobs and do the work), but their children did better, especially the girls.
The lesson is that you can't expect miracles, but if you break up zones of concentrated poverty, you can see progress over time.
In the post-Katrina world, that means we ought to give people who don't want to move back to New Orleans the means to disperse into middle-class areas nationwide. (That's the kind of thing Houston is beginning to do right now.)
There may be local resistance to the new arrivals - in Baton Rouge there were three-hour lines at gun shops as locals armed themselves against the hurricane victims moving to their area - but if there has ever been a moment when people may open their hearts, this is it.
For New Orleans, the key will be luring middle-class families into the rebuilt city, making it so attractive to them that they will move in, even knowing that their blocks will include a certain number of poor people."
As people move in, the rebuilding effort could provide jobs for those able to work. Churches, the police, charter schools and social welfare agencies could be mobilized to weave the social networks vital to resurgent communities. The feds could increase earned-income tax credits so people who are working can rise out of poverty. Tax laws could encourage business development."

Next some kudos to Navy helicopter pilots, Lt. David Shand and Lt. Mat Udkow, who came to the aid of Katrina victims as described in this Daily Kos diary by Church Street:
"The tale of the two Navy pilots demonstrates that the military support Myers touted didn't always extend to those many thousands trapped in Katrina's floodwaters in NOLA.
The two helicopter pilots based in Pensacola were flying a "logistical mission" on Aug. 30, delivering food and water to a federal installation near the Mississippi coast. As they returned, they picked up a Coast Guard radio request for rescue helicopters in NOLA. Out of communication range with their base, the pilots acted on their own initiative and headed for NOLA.
There, they rescued more than 100 stranded citizens. One pilot, Lt. David Shand, landed on the roof of an apartment building to rescue more than a dozen people, and two members of his crew even entered the building to save two blind men trapped inside.
The other pilot, Lt. Matt Udkow, who said he was shocked by the lack of search and rescue efforts he saw on the ground and in the air in and around NOLA, landed on a highway overpass to rescue marooned victims.
How were these brave and noble pilots and crews rewarded? A promotion or a medal, you say? You would be wrong.
Instead, their superiors chided the pilots ... for rescuing civilians when their assignment that day had been to deliver food and water to military installations along the Gulf Coast.
"I felt it was a great day because we resupplied the people we needed to and we rescued people, too," Lt. Udkow said. But the air operations commander at Pensacola Naval Air Station "reminded us that the logistical mission needed to be our area of focus."
Udkow and others in his unit reportedly were angered that their superiors ordered logistical over rescue missions.
The order to halt civilian relief efforts angered some helicopter crews. Lieutenant Udkow, who associates say was especially vocal about voicing his disagreement to superiors, was taken out of the squadron's flying rotation temporarily and assigned to oversee a temporary kennel established at Pensacola to hold pets of service members evacuated from the hurricane-damage areas, two members of the unit said.
Some in the unit were so furious that they "stopped wearing a search and rescue patch on their sleeves that reads, `So Others May Live.'"
For playing the administration's lapdog, Gen. Myers no doubt will be rewarded with medals and a cushy job with a DoD contractor after he retires. (The sooner the better.) But a military pilot who showed courage, initiative, and compassion - all qualities that we expect from our military - is rewarded with duty guarding a temporary kennel.
That's how it works in Bizzaro Bush World"

Of course, much of the conservative reaction has been vulgar. For example, there is Barbara Bush's comments about this being a good thing since "they are underprivileged". There is Congressman Baker saying that "God cleaned up New Orleans".

Some of it, of course, wasn't. Nevertheless some well intended conservative columns were well off the mark. For example, check out Marvin Olasky's column were he touts the genuine generosity of individual Americans. He seems to miss two important points
  1. Where individual generosity is good, it can't take the place of a government which is both well funded (by tax dollars) and well organized ahead of time. Individuals helping out in an uncoordinated manner can only help so much. People have to be unselfish enough to be willing to pay taxes for things like wetland restoration, levee reinforcement, environmental protection, and the like.
  2. This generosity is far from universal. Note that Mississippi (Neshoba County) has 600 unoccupied cabins which will not be used:

Wow, I've been typing for a while (and took time off to eat lunch and fix a leaky pipe in our house). It turns out that ND beat Michigan in football 17-10. Yes, ND is off to a great start, and I'd have to give their new coach an "A+" for the job he has done so far. But, wasn't there a new ND coach who, 3 years ago, started off with 8 straight wins which included routs of ranked Maryland and Florida state teams, along with wins over bowl teams Purdue, Michigan, Air Force and Pittsburg?

Anyway, I'll close with a comment from a conservative columnist, Kathleen Parker:

"Everyone seems to have failed to varying degrees, including President George W. Bush for this simple reason: He is the commander in chief and this was a national disaster. No, he didn't cause the hurricane, nor, by the way, did God in retribution against sin, or gays, or corruption - or whatever story the end-time gang is advancing this week.
But Bush did fail to act swiftly and unequivocally. When he did act, at least initially, it was without authority, without competence and - never more important - without apparent empathy. You do not have to let a tear drip all the way down your cheek while the cameras are rolling to convincingly communicate empathy. But you do have to choose your words carefully in order to convey emotions appropriate to the moment.
To wit: You do not talk about Trent Lott's lost house and his beloved front porch when thousands are rotting in a stinking incubator without food, water, medicine, air or bathroom facilities. You do not talk folksy about "cuttin' those ribbons" when businesses are back up somewhere in the future when in the present people are fishing the grim remains of loved ones from gutters and attics.
Here's what you do, and what Bush should have done. You kick a--.
The man at the top of the food chain does not have to play by bureaucracy's rule. As commander in chief, Bush should have helicoptered into New Orleans (he could have worn his flight suit from his Operation Mission Accomplished jet carrier landing), parked himself next to the Superdome and started ordering his generals to get the job done.
Whatever needed doing. However possible.
Instead, he came too late to the disaster and caused even supporters to cringe with every ill-chosen word. He lost not only the politician's fantasy photo op, but he let slip the rarest of opportunities - that of saving human life and the nation's pride. By his performance in this time of extreme stress, Bush may have revealed a truer self than we were meant to see."