Thursday, September 22, 2005

Invoking the Other "I" Word

A previous post mentioned Impeachment, a word I'm still very fond of. This one is about Incompetence. There's been so much of that particular "I" word that even I am astounded. I expect politics to house a few incompetents -- where else would they get jobs? Even revelations about Mr. Brown's resume and lack of disaster planning experience didn't come as a shock. I could be head of FEMA with his qualifications. At least I've participated in disaster training and, at one time, was an EMT.

He wasn't just a Republican problem, either. Democrats gave this guy a rubber stamp when he came up for the job. Apparently, no one asked, "Hey, are we missing a page of your resume? I don't see anything resembling emergency management experience here" or better yet let the guy tell you how he intends to supply an entire city with food/water/security for a week or longer.

Disaster planning requires an inventive mind willing to break the rules -- take the worst case scenario and then find a way to make it more horrific. Then do it again and then yet again. Never assume someone is riding to your rescue. Never assume everything is going to work like you think it is. Assume the very worst and if you're lucky, it won't get that bad.

Sadly, in the case of New Orleans, it did.

Did we learn anything? Hurricane Rita will be the test of that. Let's hope it all works right this time. We've lost too many Americans to that other "I" word as it is.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

American Crossroads

In 2000 Bush took the presidency from Al Gore. Most of those who have studied the election believe that Gore won. If he'd pressed his case, America would have gone in another direction and I can't help but wonder how that would have played out.

9/11 most likely would have happened. Gore might have taken us into Afghanistan. But he wouldn't have taken us into Iraq and a war that has cost us so much. Wonder how much? Go to and see how much the war is costing America and where that money could have been spent on a state by state basis. It's like watching a train wreck.

Gore understood the problems in New Orleans and I believe he would have kept the money in the Corps' budget. Would that have mitigated the disaster? Somewhat. Would the response have been better? I willing to bet it would have. Gore would not have put incompetant buddies in such positions of authority nor would FEMA been solely geared toward terrorist attacks.

Instead America has Mr. Bush who will go down in history as having fundamentally altered the country in ways too sad to contemplate.

But for a moment, let's look to the future.

The recovery of the dead in the south continues. And from our 'leaders' were advised not to play the 'blame game'. And they intend to have hearings (some closed door) to determine what went wrong.

I suggest that the best people to judge what went wrong are American's citizens. WE should hear the facts and make the judgment calls. We should not trust the whitewash and politics that will flow out of Washington. It's obvious there was failure on ALL levels. However, no matter how bad a state or local emergency response plays out, the Feds damn well better know what they're doing.

And so, folks, 2006 & 2008 are looming. I tend to vote Democratic, but have jumped the fence more than once if I felt the candidate on the Republican (or Libertarian) side had more savvy. It's time to set partisan lines aside and vote for candidates who is compentant, intelligent, honest and willing to weigh dissenting views. No more cowboys, no more cronyism.

Use the Bush administration as your benchmark of how bad it can get. Remember the war dead in Iraq and the bodies floating in New Orleans. Demand answers from your legislators and vote for the best person.

America can't handle many more years of stupid government. It's time to show the bums the door.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Please Don't Die in Front of the Cameras - It Ruins the Photo Op

There's been plenty of ink spilled on the Katrina disaster and I would be remiss in not adding mine. It beggered belief to watch it all go wrong from the start. In the wake of the horrors, America is diminished because we let our fellow citizens down. Despite the heroic efforts of the police, fire and EMS, they never had a chance.

I have an 86-year-old mom-in-law. I absolutely adore her. While the disaster was playing out, all I could think of was what it would have been like for her if she couldn't have left New Orleans, too poor to get out when there was time. Though a survivor by nature, I know she would have died. The thought haunts me because others have lost their beloved relatives for reasons that make little sense.

If Homeland Security can't handle a disaster that took days to unfold, one they knew was coming, how in the hell can they handle another 9/11?

The lesson out of this mess? Platitudes and photo ops, news conferences and sound bites don't cut it. If you're incompetent, people die, whether that be in the sands of Iraq or the fetid flood waters in New Orleans.

Or as The New Orleans Times-Picayune wrote:

"We're angry, Mr President, and we'll be angry long after our beloved city and surrounding parishes have been pumped dry.

"Our people deserved rescuing. Many who could have been, were not. That's to the government's shame."

Can I get an "Amen"?