10 September: Did I ever get my underpants in a wad!
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:
- John Conyers (bankruptcy law suspension and FEMA)
- David Brooks idea for resettlement of lower income survivors
- Lt. Shand and Udkow lend a hand (and a helicopter) and end up in the doghouse
- Some conservatives have a good heart but still don't get it; others don't have good hearts
- 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.
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
- 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.
- This generosity is far from universal. Note that Mississippi (Neshoba County) has 600 unoccupied cabins which will not be used: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/9/8/123948/3771
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."