Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Rigless from Rita

I avoided talking about Rita during her biggest media play time. And the post-hurricane number crunching seems to indicate to the media and the public she wasn't such a bad girl, after all. Frankly, I think nothing looks bad next to Katrina, yet Rita hit the US hard--particularly in the oil rig.

While Rita's path avoided the most human-populated areas, Rita hit more of the infrastructure of the oil industry--that would be the rigs that help pump out the oil and refineries that, oddly enough, refine the oil--than any hurricane ever. Rigs are apparently difficult to find right now. And one ordered now wouldn't be finished for 3 or more years.

And apparently this oil disaster could happen again. Oil rigs are subject to less rigorous standards than some beach houses. Now
that's intelligent. The Oil Drum (the go-to place for oil info) says that the cost of building rigs to higher standards would be substantial and take years to implement. But perhaps it would be worth the cost and wait, given the effect losing this oil production will have on our economy.

It also might be worth it, given the effect Katrina and Rita are having, however inadvertent, on our environmental policy. Gristmill points out that the stoppage in production has given the Republicans fuel (pun intended) for their push to drill in the Arctic Refuge. Thankfully, Gristmill also points out that drilling in the Arctic Refuge will,
in 20 years, possibly bring the cost of oil down by $.01. That would be one penny. And that information is brought to you by the United States Governmentt.

So why bother? Again, our friends at Gristmill provide info showing that drilling in the Arctic Refuge is merely symbolic. If we can drill there, we can drill anywhere! The oil companies don't even want to drill there. It's all about who's in power and who can flex that power.

The Republicans push and push for ineffective solutions to our oil problem. Push to drill in an area that won't really help, just to show they can. Urge federal employees to travel less and turn off their AC, to conserve oil and natural gas, yet gut the EPA of decent employees and funding. Is that what they mean by "strong leadership"?

Or perhaps it's the kind of leadership that's shown by ignoring the disappearance of ice over the Arctic.
The National Snow and Ice Data Center reports that the Arctic has less ice coverage than has been seen in 100 years. Even taking into account normal climate fluxuations, scientists on both sides of the ocean believe strongly that this is due to greenhouse gas emissions.

Yet our Leader believes that the greenhouse effect is a load of hooey. Apparently "strong leadership" is another phrase meaning "ignoring scientific evidence".

Until tomorrow,

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Scientific religion? Religious science?

Are you following the court case in Dover, Pennsylvania? Parents are suing a local school district that is requiring high school biology teachers to read a statement casting doubt on evolution and promoting intelligent design as an alternative theory to evolution. The details on this case are amazing.

The attorneys representing the school board (that means this attorney is representing a governmental entity) are from the Thomas More Law Center, which is described in a WAPO article as being a "conservative, religiously grounded nonprofit firm". Attorneys for the school board claim this isn't about God, it's about science.

Bright people, these attorneys. Here's a quote from one of their attorneys.
"Dover's modest curriculum change embodies the essence of liberal education." Try to make it appear as though Dover is actually broadening students' educational horizons, rather than narrowing them by the introduction of religious belief into the field of science.

Attorneys for the parents fighting the promotion of intelligent design are arguing that ID is nothing more than repackaged creationism, which has been banned from being taught in public schools by the Supreme Court.

The coverage of this case overseas is darn embarrassing. Did you know that 50% (or 45% or 55%, depending on the newspaper story) of those surveyed in the US believe that God created humans as we know them today? Sweet Jesus, what's that about?

Of course, the case isn't any more embarrassing than the new museum being built in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Creation Museum is being created by those who hope to win the US back to creationism. "Evolutionary Darwinists need to understand we are taking the dinosaurs back," says Kenneth Ham, president of Answers in Genesis-USA, which is building the museum. "This is a battle cry to recognize the science in the revealed truth of God."

Here's more of Ham's hooey. "We admit we have an axiom: We have a book and it's the Bible and it's revealed history," says Ham. "Where the Bible teaches on science, we can trust it as the word of God." In other words, there's no need to research, carbon date, or any of that scientific nonsense. The Bible contains all we need to know.

Despite the fact that there are few, if any, legitimate scientist touting either creationism or intelligent design as a science, massive amounts of Americans believe it to be so. Why? My theory (for what it's worth) is that, like so much else of conservative religion, there is a great deal of comfort in believing the Bible's version of history. It is solid. It is sure. It does not require investigation, or a great deal of intelligence to understand.

There is not much in the world these days about which one can say that. And many in this post 9/11 era cling to what they can that will bring them some stability. Right or wrong. Or far right.

So that's my penny psychologizing on the topic. I think that Pastor Dan over at Street Prophets might agree with it, though, given his take on the area in which this is taking place. Great essay on this general topic (and those delving into it) over at the NY Times.

Top of my prayer list is that we can let science be science and faith be faith, whenever the twain shall meet in the public schools.

Until tomorrow,

Monday, September 26, 2005


Amidst all of the focus on the catastrophes Katrina and Rita, and the war in Iraq, I caught Wide Angle the other night. The show addressed the Avian Flu virus (or H5N1) that has been so problematic in Asian over the past few years. The show was alarming, to say the least.

Scientists fear that this flu strain could, when it becomes readily transmittable via human to human contact, become a pandemic to rival the Spanish Flu back in the early 1900s. Pandemic is a bad word. Current experts believe that the Spanish Flu may have killed as much as 5% of the world population.

Let me repeat that. 5% of the world population. 100 million people.

Doesn't it seem like we should be hearing more about this? The BBC had an article in late August that decried the lack of preparedness for this possibility. The World Health Organization says
"the world is now in the gravest possible danger of a pandemic".

Initially, the flu was only transmittable from bird to bird. Then, birds began transmitting it to humans. Now, there is at least one case that seems highly probably to be a human to human transmission. Obviously, once human to human transmission occurs regularly, the flu will spread much more quickly.

But it isn't merely the rapidity of spread that's the issue. This flu is deadly. 45 people died from it last year. But more frightening is the mortality rate of those infected: 36%. There's a more complicated issue around the mortality rate. It used to be higher but is lower now, which apparently may indicate that the virus is becoming "less deadly but easier to spread", according to meaty article in Foreign Affairs. Lovely.

And did I mention that the vaccine discussion is laughable, as few companies want to work on flu vaccines, it is difficult to cultivate this particular vaccine, most of the countries where the flu will rage initially will have no access to any vaccine due to cost, and by the time a vaccine could be made up that would attack a particular strain, millions would be infected already?

Shouldn't we be doing something about this? Well, now. We are. Or, at least the Republicans are trying to. As part of Operation Offset, their sick plan to provide funding for Katrina efforts while saving rich peoples' tax cuts, the Center for Disease Control would receive a whopping $1.8 billion annual cut in funding. That's timely, isn't it?

It's good to know that we can always count on the Republican party to be looking ahead and looking out for us. Do we have to wait for a flu disaster of the proportions of Katrina for our current administration to learn on so that the next disaster will be handled more effectively, ala Rita?

Until tomorrow,

Friday, September 23, 2005

Avoiding Rita

I can only handle one catastrophe at a time. And I am very fortunate to be able to so decree, as I don't live on the Gulf Coast. So I'm just going to talk about Katrina right now.

Katrina is going to cost us $200 billion. Such a big number to bandy about. Can't quite grasp it, really. Thank goodness the Republicans are handy with figures, and have even come up with a way for us to pay for it all. We're going to take it from the poor, students, and the environment.

Hey, that seems fair, doesn't it? We've all got to sacrifice in this difficult time for our nation. Why not ask the sacrifice from those who are least able to shoulder it? Salon's War Room suggests something simple yet totally unfair: ask the richest 1% to carry the burden for all by rolling back their last two tax cuts. If we did that, we'd completely pay for Katrina. Bingo, bango. But how can we ask the rich to suffer like that?

Sarcasm off.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes that "(t)he annual cost of the Bush tax cuts exceeds the projected total cost of relief and rebuilding efforts related to Hurricane Katrina." Amazing, after a few weeks of seeing presented in stark relief the incredible divide in America between the rich and the poor that the Republicans have the gall to make their suggestions.

But the Republicans are going to keep on trying to screw the poor and protect Bush, with their ridiculous attempts at establishing a congressional "probe" (we should use that term loosely, give that Republicans would be running it). The latest call for an independent investigator comes from Southerner Reps of the destroyed areas. We'll see if anyone answers the call. Why is there no truly organized effort by the Dems to push this through?

And why has there been no organized response to Bush naming Rove as his Katrina Czar? And, why is no one besides Kos noting that Rove is busy fundraising in North Dakota while Rita already causes havoc in NOLA? Might as well be playing guitar in Texas while Katrina blows.

If the Democrats can't get their collective acts together to criticize right now, it is downright amazing that a Republican can. Yet Newt Gingrich did so as he discussed the latest ridiculous Bush administration plan to "help" the homeless evacuees. FEMA plans to build trailer parks to ghetto-ize, I mean house, the evacuees in.

Gingrich's response? "The idea that — in a community where we could place people in the private housing market to reintegrate them into society — we would put them in [trailer] ghettos with no jobs, no community, no future, strikes me as extraordinarily bad public policy, and violates every conservative principle that I'm aware of."

Well, imagine that. I agree with Newt. The Nation has a not scathing enough article "Purging the Poor" that likens some of the other administrative approaches to housing the evacuees to a kind of ethnic cleansing. Let's clear out these poor black people and remake the city in a more pleasing image. Without them, preferably.

The capitalist and Bushies aren't interested in the option of putting the homeless into the thousands of already empty apartments with Section 8 vouchers. Bush wants to pretend to make the poor into homeowners by parceling out plots of federal land (of which there are no where near enough) to people who can't even pretend to afford to hold a mortgage. And the capitalists are rubbing their hands with glee over the opportunity to make a land grab and build condos that no one poor will ever hope to live in.

The sense of impotent frustration I feel must be small compared to those who are actually living this nightmare. But I still feel it.

I feel it when I read a back and forth between the press and Scott McClellan, where we can't get a single straight answer out of the White House. Obfuscation is this guy's middle name. Does it always have to always be about spin, about making this administrationon look good?

And I felt it reading today of the levees letting water back into parts of New Orleans all over again. Two steps forward and five backward. Have you heard that LSU's Hurricane Center research claims that Katrina didn't flood NOLA through storm surges that road over the top of the levees, but rather that the levees didn't hold due to "catastrophical structural failure"? The Army Corp of Engineers has stated that the levees let water through because the system wasn't designed for Cat 4 hurricanes and the water simply surged over the top.


Tomorrow I'll have to face Rita, just like the rest of the world. For now, I'm going to sip a glass of Riesling, hide in a mystery, thank God I live in the Midwest, and pray for those who don't.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Getting Ready

There is so much going on in the world. Getting ready could be all about Rita. But all I can think of at this precise moment in the time-space continuum is that my daughter listens to a group named "Wheezer" and my reaction to that makes me a geezer.

Yes, I am officially old. I really thought that old would look different. You know. Older. My husband, he's 56. That seems to me to qualify as old. Old. Old. But 43? Is that so very old? Guess it must be, since the naming of a group "Wheezer" seems to me so lame that I can't help rolling my eyes in classic old fogey parent fashion.

I don't have a great and crying need to stay young, to consider myself young. I don't dye my graying hair--and I have more graying than many at my stage in life. I'm not looking into Botox. My lines and I have a friendly relationship, and I would never take a needle to them. I'm not sure if I have wrinkles yet. I think of those as folds of skin, and the only skin folds I have are related to fat, not age.

So I thought I was reaching middle age somewhat gracefully, rather than being pulled into it kicking and screaming. Until I started listening to and reading about my daughter's musical interests. Wheezer. Wheezer? What kind of tweenie weenie would name his or her group Wheezer?

Maybe I'm turned off or annoyed because Wheezer rhymes with Geezer. Maybe I feel that it's a subtle slam against those of us older than, say, 40. Or maybe I feel terminally uncool and can't deal with that. Kinda thought I was above that. I've never wanted to be a cool parent. Good thing, since I've never been a cool parent.

Cool parent. Isn't that an oxymoron?

Anyway, I know my kids love me. I have no desire to bribe them into a more admiring relationship by being cool in their eyes. I yam what I yam. Nevertheless, over the last few years, as Annie has gotten into listening to music, I've enjoyed her choices.

That would mostly be because she's liked listening to whatever I've had in the CD player. And because she's always enjoyed listening to the oldies station. Until the damn thing was taken off the air. Suddenly, young love was in the air. I knew we had moved into a new era when her favorite song switched from "Bohemian Rhapsody" to Jesse McCartney's "Beautiful Soul".

But I thought I can handle this era. Stomach it, at any rate. For instance, the soundtrack to Wicked is great. Rent, too. Besides, I was listening to David Cassidy at 13, so how judgmental can I be?

But with this Wheezer business, I feel we've moved into a whole nuther realm. And I don't like it. Next thing you know, she'll be wanting to date. Boys, possibly. Even though I've made it abundantly clear that she will be allowed to date when she's 35. And married.

It's not that I'm overly protective or anything. Far from it. But if you think I'm going to let your 16 year old boy who has nothing on his mind but sex get anywhere within 2 miles of my little girl, well, I don't think so.

OK. So maybe it's not the Wheezer name, per se. Perhaps it's not what the name rhymes with. Last week she was afraid to let go of my hand in kindergarten. Yesterday, she was afraid of the dark. How can it be time for her to listen to Wheezer and songs about young love?
Maybe Wheezer is shorthand for my little girl is growing up and I'm just not quite ready for that.

Until tomorrow,

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Searching for Mrs. Good Dog

The kids and I have been plotting for years to get a second dog into our family, over the resistance of the Father Figure. In addition to the first dog, be it our old Golden, Boomer, or our relatively new Dobie/Shepherd, Schafer. We think the perfect household would have at least two dogs in it. Preferably more. But two as a minimal dog hair and slobber in the house quotient.

For a while, we tried the "But We'd Hardly Notice a Small Dog" approach. This required us to focus on the relative size of dogs to our house. For example, "This living room is so big that you'd hardly notice a small cute Dachshund sitting over there in the corner, wagging its tail devoted at you." We noted comparable dog food input and output, as in it wouldn't cost much more to feed one small dog and one big dog as it does to feed one big dog and it wouldn't require more poop bags to pick up after one small dog and one big dog.

This approach did not work. The Father Figure is of the Princess and the Pea mind when it comes to dogs. He'd notice a dog if he lived in a 30 room mansion--and he wouldn't be terribly enthusiastic about sharing those 30 rooms with that dog, either. It's not that he doesn't like dogs. He does. In their place. Which he'd prefer to be outside. In the barn. On the back forty.

Only we live in the city. Our back forty is maybe 200 feet of urban grasslike substance. With neighbors all living within 10 feet on either side. Neighbors who maybe wouldn't appreciate a dog living outside 24/7. So Schafer lives in the house. With us and the Father Figure. And he notices it.

So our newest approach was the Pity Tactic. We tried "Let's Adopt a Hurricane Katrina Pet Orphan". We discussed how sad it is that there are so many dogs with no homes now. Opined that it would be a wonderful way to support those who have no homes and are worried about their dogs having no homes, too. Talked about how it wouldn't really be for us that we would adopt this dog; we'd sacrifice our comfort for the Dog.

Hey. It was worth a try. The Father Figure is not inclined to take pity on a second dog. I don't think the kids have given up yet. But I have.

I've given up because serendipity brought a second dog into our house today. We are dogsitting a beautiful pup named Chloe. A neighbor friend (who interestingly enough is not a dog person but knew that I was) thought of me when Chloe's mom was talking about needing a dog sitter once a week. Our dogs seemed reasonably compatible upon meeting and, making a long story short, I am currently bookended by two devoted dogs while I sit here at the computer.

Ah, bliss. Even if it's only once a week, it'll do. :-)

Until tomorrow,

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

World Marching On

Busy weekend and week here. It's been a bit hard to get to the computer. But the world marches on. How surprising.

The joint House-Senate probe into the Katrina disaster has died. The Republicans have given up trying to force a Republican-dominated investigation onto the Democrats. For once, the Democrats have stood firm and refused to participate in an investigation that clearly will be in name only.

That investigation is almost as ridiculous as the one the President announced. Dubya has appointed someone within the very governmental entity being most criticized to run the investigation. Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend. Hey. Why didn't he just cut to the chase and appoint Michael Brown?

I believe that Fran Townsend is one of the people Governor Blanco talked to as she tried to reach Dubya asked for federal aid. Obviously, Townsend handled that job well.

Josh Marshal at Talking Points Memo is all over the Gulf Coast Wage Cut exec order, trying to dig up just who in the House is for it and who is against it. He's hoping to find "one single Republican member of the House" willing to co-sponsor a bill to overturn Dubya's executive order that cut wages during the Katrina rebuilding.

I'm pleased, but not surprised, to find out that my Rep, Danny Davis, is among those co-sponsoring this bill. Of course, he's a Dem. So my reps onboard? Is yours? If not, try this site
to let both your Representatives and Senators know that you want ordinary workers to make a decent wage during this disaster, rather than Halliburton sucking all the money out of the area.

And what's going on in Iraq--and England? Basra, a place that's been relatively quiet, has gone to hell in a handbasket, says the BBC, who reports insurgents have infiltrated Iraq's police force there. The British "rescued" two of their own who had been imprisoned by Iraqi police. "Rescued" by smashing the wall of a jail with six tanks. Stories vary about why these two were imprisoned depending on whose side tells the story.

Is it just me, or does the world seem more chaotic lately? I'm going to bed, and hoping to wake to find it was only a dream.

Until tomorrow,

Friday, September 16, 2005

Sarcasm on the run

Tonight was Mom and Daughter Movie night. We watched "Miss Congeniality 2". Tells you just how much I love my daughter. :-) Hence my shortened time here at the screen.

So we've had a heartfelt Presidential address, complete with well-lighted important NOLA sights, designed to invoke a deep sense of reverence of place. You'll not be surprised to hear that the lights went on just for the occasion, according to NBC's Brian Williams, and were immediately turned off after the address. And we've had a Day of Prayer for Katrina, NOLA et al. Now, don't we all feel better? Surely we don't need no stinking investigation into who done what to whom, other than one led by Dubya, right?

During his speech, George even mentioned racial discrimination. According to Salon's War Room, Bush has only uttered that phrase in public four times during his presidency. But not only did he discuss racism, he moved on to poverty. He's even going to "confront this poverty with bold action".

What has the response been? I particularly liked what the Reverend Enoch Fuzz had to say. "We need a prayer that's walking and not just talking. We need a prayer with legs right now." Wouldn't you like to think that Dubya is pretty darn serious about putting legs on his prayers? Making life better for our poorer citizens? Why shore.

Not. Instead, in the very place and time when he could be doing so, he has quietly issued an executive order
lowering wages for those working to reconstruct after Katrina. This will enable those companies working in those devastated areas to make more money on this project. Companies like Halliburton, for instance.

Here's a chance for Bush to take money from the rich and give back to the poor. The conservative Heritage Foundation has suggested that the mounds of pork attached to the recent highway bill be cut and the moneys saved be donated to hurricane relief. So far, Congress isn't biting. Knowing now just how much Bush cares about those in need, I'm sure he'll be leading the charge.

Finally, it's clear that Bush doesn't need no stinking review or investigation of what happened with FEMA and the hurricane. He's going to be far more careful about who is appointed to his administration. Really make sure it's not all about patronage and cronyism. Right? So how's about that new interim director of the Office of Women's Health over at the FDA? Impressive, that resume filled with experience in veterinary affairs and animal husbandry. Or check out Daily Kos and the note about further hack appointments in security agencies.

And Republicans are squawking that Reuters photo of Bush's bathroom break note was a malicious act?

Until tomorrow,

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I can't breathe in here

Hey, it's not only the states who are taking on environmental challenges. Our very own House has introduced a bill (with bipartisan support, no less) seeking to raise the fuel efficiency of cars from the current 25mpg to 33mpg. Those involved say the bill, if passed, would save up to "2.6 million barrels of oil per day by 2025".

The response from car makers will be interesting. It'll be a bit hard for them to make a credible argument that this is impossible or dangerous or whatever their current excuse will be, as they've recently signed an agreement with Canada regarding reducing greenhouse gas emissions that will cause cars sold their to substantially increase their fuel efficiency to meet the goals for reduction.

In other news about clearing the air, the Senate began held a hearing investigating the federal response to Katrina. Even
Senate Homeland Security Committee chairwoman Susan Collins, a Republican, found the federal response "sluggish". Alas, it didn't last. The clean air, I mean. Later today, Senate Republicans killed the notion of an independent bipartisan panel to investigate. 54 Republicans voted no.

How disgusting. How self-serving, yet short-sighted. Do they really think the American people, as short as our memories may seem, will let this escape without a fight? Do they really think we think so little of our poor underprivileged people currently enjoying Houston hospitality (still can't quite get over that comment, Babs) that we'll let this go?

Apparently the Republicans have deigned to suggest an independent investigation led by a Republican majority. But Harry Reid nixed it. Good. Clearly can't trust 'em on this topic.

Fortunately, the prevailing thought is that momentum will build and the Senate will have to revisit this. I hope so, even if we have to drag the Republicans kicking and screaming to it. Bush "taking responsibility" clearly isn't enough, with all that is still going wrong and all that is still not happening to help "those people".

You'd think he (Dubya) could at least bring himself to say something different. Like "our people" or "us" or something a bit more inclusive. He could make an effort to sound like he isn't a million miles away from those suffering. Even if he is.

Until tomorrow,

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Taking Responsibility

I was very impressed, initially, to hear that George Dubya has taken responsibility for the piss-poor performance of the federal government during the Katrina disaster. I'm always impressed when someone is a standup kind of person, taking on the mantle of accountability in difficult times. In my mind, there aren't too many more character-defining actions a person can take.

Too bad I don't see this action as defining a character worth admiring. Why?

What does Bush actually mean by taking responsibility? Actually, Josh Marshall asked that very same question. Is he truly admitting that he's responsible for the FEMA fall-apart due to his cronyism appointees? Or is he just saying what he's supposed to say before everyone else in the country says it for him?

I have my own questions about what Bush is actually taking responsibility for. The Bush administration attempted to pin responsibility for the poor federal response on LA Governor Blanco by saying she had not taken the proper steps to get federal assistance. It turns out she did take the appropriate steps. Does Bush take responsibility for trying to foist off the mistakes of his own administration on Blanco?

What about the continuing attempts to keep the media from reporting the story of the dying and the dead in NOLA? CNN had to take the federal government to court to stop it from banning media coverage. It received a TRO on the ban. So what about this story from San Francisco reporter about being banned from covering body recovery in NOLA? Does Bush take responsibility for his Army defying the TRO?

Speaking of the dead, Governor Blanco complained today that FEMA fell down on the job yet again, not signing a contract with a company assisting in recovery of the dead. Finally, she signed the contract, trying to move the process along. Does Bush take responsibility for this final indignity, leaving those dead citizens out in the fetid swamps of NOLA longer than they need to be because FEMA can't handle its paperwork?

And speaking of the dying, does Bush take responsibility for the systematic dismantling of the EPA thru cronyism, making it less than fully able to adequately address the environmental disaster happening on the Gulf Coast?

When President George W. Bush takes responsibility for all that has occurred because of his policies, when he acknowledges that people died because of the kind of administration he runs, rather than allowing his Rove Rangers full rein in trying to foist off accountability and responsibility onto others, then I'll be truly impressed. Then I'll think he's a standup guy.

Until tomorrow,

Monday, September 12, 2005

Nothing changes?

At least, in the Bush administration. We've got Halliburton on the receiving end of more lucrative no competitive bidding contracts. But this time it's in Louisiana, not Iraq. Salon's War Room takes this one on. We need Congress to insist that the areas most impacted by the hurricane benefit most from the hurricane clean up efforts.

Of all the corporations that could benefit, these slimey administrative lackey corps should be the last to do so. Halliburton has already earned $9 billion for its work in Iraq. Hasn't the area decimated by Katrina paid enough for cronyism?

Speaking of cronyism, what about the Environmental Protection Agency? The NY Times reported that the EPA has suffered similar problems to FEMA. Even a current member of the EPA says, "The budget has been cut and inept political hacks have been put in key positions." Good timing, what with Katrina causing not only a human disaster but an environmental disaster. Who is going to manage THAT disaster?

Not only has New Orleans been ravaged by the waters and winds of Katrina, but the aftermath has the potential for far worse long-term damage. Literally tons of oil may have leaked into the area. No one will know for sure how much oil until the floods completely recede. But all water in the area is described by a geographer quoted on as being covered with a sheen of oil.

But that's not all, folks. Of course, there's voluminous amounts of raw sewage. And then there's the pesticide plant in town that left massive amounts of land covered with DDT and other pesticides. Superfund did a shitty and cursory job of cleaning it. Now it's covered in the floodwaters.

The list goes on and on. Superfund has run dry, due to the massive Republican eradication of "Big Government". And the EPA, too, has undergone cuts. So good to know we have people running it who will know how to best manage the puny funds to the most effective use.

The more things change . . . yet they don't, in the Bush administration. Could this be the event that turns the tide, that causes us to stand up and force this administration to act responsibly? Will we finally hold him accountable? Or are we going to simply eat up "Brownie" and declare a truce?

Until tomorrow,

Friday, September 09, 2005


Just finished watching the movie "Crash" with a friend of mine. I know I'm a day late and a dollar short on this one (I don't see too many movies), but this was an incredibly powerful experience.

If you haven't seen it, I'd strongly urge you to rent it. And watch it with your teenagers, if you have any in residence. The conversations it will start will be worth the price of rental alone.

Won't pull any spoilers. The first 45 minutes or so were achingly hard for me (middle class white woman) to sit through. I couldn't believe that people were actually SAYING these things to each other. It was as though someone had torn away the veneer of civility under which I live, hearing the thoughts those around me (my own, as well) were thinking but would never say. Of course, no one I know would actually use the words used. We simply wouldn't say the N word. We'd think disparaging thoughts about African Americans, while still acknowledging the sociological and psychological reasons behind their behavior.

At the same time, the way the characters in the film treated one another felt almost physically assaultive to me. My whole body was taut with, I dunno, fear, I guess. I couldn't believe people could be so casually cruel to one another. Didn't understand why each person was continually seeing the next as something less the individual. Even those who actually had relationships with one another, however shallow or deep, seemed incapable of looking beyond the surface of color or race or ethnicity.

I'm afraid those around me are seeing me in that same way. Not seeing me, but seeing someone white. Someone middle class. Someone defined by my skin color or
occupation (or lack thereof) or financial status Knowing me without knowing me at all.

No one was a hero in this movie. And no one a villain. But as the movie progressed, characters in the film began to, at times, truly see each other. Which made them small heroes for a moment, even as they became villainous in the next moment--or vice versa. What made me cry most was that: our capacity for both villainy and heroism. What makes us choose? How can we choose right?

Seeing this movie fresh from Katrina definitely colored my viewing. Do I believe that the lack of governmental speed of response was racist? No. Yes. I believe the government would have been just as slow to respond to poor white people. I believe the salient factor is poverty, not race. But given that a disproportionate number of poor people in New Orleans are black, it becomes a racial issue because one race is going to be far more affected by this hurricane than another.

This is what I took away from this movie. The world is a very confusing place. Tower of Babel and all that. This melting pot stuff makes living together really hard. Isn't any easier if we stick to one type per country, though, as we still have to live boundary to boundary.

So I need to push myself every single time I see a person to see them as an individual. Each person I can truly see as herself, not as an overweight smoking black female, or greasy middle aged white male with a gold chain around his neck or a teenage white girl with too much spending money and a cell phone, will free both them and me from stereotypes that help neither of us.

Some people will live down to my stereotypes. Some people will live up to them. And some people will trash my stereotypes all to hell. And it'll continue to be my challenge to see all of you as I want you to see me: as me. The whole of me. Not the parts of me that might seem to others to be defining. See me as a feminist (even though I'm a stay at home mom). See me as a handywoman (even if I have to ask you dumb questions at the hardware store). See me as a spiritual being (even if you don't agree with how I live my spirituality out).

If you do that, I promise you I'll do my best to see you, too.

Until tomorrow,

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


I'm reading the news and blogs this afternoon. Reading about how Pat Robertson's group, Operation Blessing, is getting primo real estate in FEMA press releases about charitable groups for hurricane relief. Reading about how the Rove Rangers are in full armored gear, letting the world know that Bush refuses to play the Blame Game regarding the federal Katrina response. Unless, of course, it's the Bush administration blaming the state and local administrations' responses to Katrina. Reading the new UN report on poverty, which says that in many of the world's poorest nations, the poor are doing worse than they were five years ago. And I'm scared.

That probably sounds childish. Naive. So sue me. That's how I'm feeling these days. Unprotected. I didn't realize that I was still depending on my government in some emotional or physical way for my safety. But apparently, I was. And I've come to see that, even for this middle-class white woman, the government is supremely undependable. I cannot count on my government to keep me safe.

I guess that's what the Republicans have wanted me to learn all along. They've been busy for 20 to 30 years, trying to dismantle the New Deal, trying to persuade us all that the federal government shouldn't be a societal safety net. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, your Air Jordan shoelaces, your Walmart canvas tennie velcros.

Well, I'm not persuaded that our government
shouldn't be society's safety net. But I am becoming persuaded that it isn't. And that truly scares me.

I know. Welcome to the real world, Liz. Welcome to the world that ethnic and racial minorities have lived in forever. Welcome to the world that the poor have lived in forever. Welcome to uncertainty and aloneness.

I've never trusted Bush. But I really didn't think he and his administration would leave people to die. I really didn't think they were that uncaring or plain stupid. OK. I've always thought he was stupid. But at least intelligent enough to see that poor disaster management would look bad on his post-Presidential resume. Guess not.

Far worse than the stupid charge is the clear uncaring. God. The rest of the United States was glued to the tube, to the radio, to the Internet during the lead up and first 48 hours of Katrina. The Bush administration, as a whole, was on vacation. Apparently info doesn't permeate the thick skull of Republicans while on vacation, as Bush et al managed to
attend many briefings about the disaster yet don't seem to have actually remembered any of the information given in those briefings.

How could he sit through those briefings, how could he receive all the information he has in the past week and still give a rat's ass about covering his own? I know we all want to look good, on some level or another. Care about what people think of us. Our "legacy" as Presidential historians call it. But I hope there comes a time and place for each of us when we abandon how we look and what others think of us. A time when we truly get that it's not all about
me. It's all about us.

It frightens me deeply to realize that our President does not get that. How can I depend on someone who is so narcissistic ? How can we depend on a system that is so entrenchedly narcissistic? We have allowed our political system to turn into this chamberpot. And then, those in charge remove the chamberpot and directly piss on the poor--and the rest of us, as best they can.

In the great world viewpoint of the Republicans, we would all take care of one another during crisis' like these. And we have been. My faith in humanity continues. People from around the world, as well as our next door neighbors, are caring for those people in New Orleans and Mississippi. It's my faith in the humanity of those in charge of us that is deeply shaken.

Because we are not enough. We are not big enough to tackle a 4 hurricane. Probably not big enough to tackle a WMD strike of any size, either. We need our government. We need our government to be smart and thoughtful and efficient and effective.

Saving grace here? Our government needs us to stay in power. Please, please, please vote this administration and its legacy out of office. Vote in an administration whose biggest sin is caring about people too much. Spending too much money on taking care of those in need. Vote in government who will go into debt saving people, not killing not. Vote in a President who will spend more time governing during a hurricane than playing guitar and sharing cake.

Until tomorrow,

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Bush and his henchman call it the "blame game". They want to avoid it, at all costs, right now. They're too busy saving lives to assess blame right now. Later. And later, President Bush intends to lead the investigation into how his administration failed New Orleans. Not now, "Over time,"
our leader tells us today.

That makes sense to me. After all, we had Clinton lead the investigation into Lewinskyland? And Nixon lead the investigation into Watergate? And we had them look into it later. After the hubbub died down about the issues. Didn't we? Oh.

The Blame Game is anything but a game. It's deadly serious. Possibly 10,000 lives lost deadly serious. It's a have-to inquiry into what happen and didn't happen. Who did, and who didn't. And who's to blame is very important. Not just because this nation wants to vilify them. Which we do. But more importantly, we need to know where our failures happened now so we know how to fix them.

Until we know exactly who to blame and what to blame, we do not know how to prepare for another disaster. Bush won his second term based on appealing to the frightened in us. He promised to take care of us, to keep the bogeyman away at night. Now, we appear to be learning his administration is incapable of dealing with disasters, both natural and man-made. This better not be acceptable to the American people. It's sure as hell not acceptable to me.

Surely the United States Government has the resources not only to continue to answer this disaster but to assess what went wrong with the answer at the same time. Even during this time of massive Republican government cut-backs (boy, that's working out well, isn't it?), there should be ample competent bodies in DC to run this investigation. I don't think most of them are busy with Katrina, unless you count those who have run down to indulge in photo-op governing.

Want a reason why it has to happen now? The Katrina efforts continue to be less than acceptable. The EU is complaining they still can't get aid into the affected US region. Sweden has a plane full of aid that doesn't yet have US approval to enter. High speed pumps sent by Germany are not being used to due "coordination" problems. And FEMA is still refusing help in New Orleans that's been offered by numerous US aid agencies. Look at this list published over at Daily Kos of all the groups who've offered and been refused.

The Blame Game needs to happen now. Not to crucify Bush, though obviously I wouldn't mind that happening. But to fix what's wrong. For now. And for the never too distant later.


Sunday, September 04, 2005

Finding meaning

Most people, at one time or another, seek meaning in their lives. And I think most of us do so at crisis times, turning points, places in our lives that really matter. So it's not surprising that there are many different viewpoints being expressed about the "meaning" of Hurricane Katrina. Not surprising at all. But it's still a sucker punch to the gut for me, processing them all.

Refugees took meaning from the experience in a myriad of ways. One said she took the flood as a sign from God to leave New Orleans. "I lost everything I had in New Orleans," she said. "He brought me here because he knows." Another said God was testing his lifelong distrust of whites and dispelling that distrust by whites rescuing him.

I know that line of thought brings comfort to some, as it makes sense of a situation that otherwise makes no sense. But I feel so sick and sad hearing it. I cannot believe in a God who would purposefully place people in such a situation to "learn" something. I'd rather not believe than believe in That. And isn't that man's trust a bit misplaced, given all the whites that failed him during this catastrophe?

A Salvation Army commander conducting a service in New Orleans said, "Natural disaster is caused by the sin in the world. The acts of God are what happens afterwards ... all the good that happens." I don't get this theory, either. Sin rolls around until enough builds up and causes a hurricane? I'm getting a bit of deviant pleasure, imagining a hurricane of words swirling around like "sodomy", "swearing", and "sloth" ripping apart buildings. So the sinful hurricane flattens everything. And THEN God acts? Odd user of power, that God.

al Queda used a opposite rational. "God attacked America and the prayers of the oppressed were answered." Sickening, but very similar to what America believes about itself. All too many Americans believe that we are God's chosen, that God always backs US up. It's not too many steps beyond that to get to al Queda's comment.

The vomitorious group Repent America believes the hurricane was sent to stop a gay-pride festival set to occur at the same time "We must not forget that the citizens of New Orleans tolerated and welcomed the wickedness in their city for so long, said Repent America director Michael Marcavage. "May this act of God cause us all to think about what we tolerate in our city limits."

Nice. Implies you believe in a vindictive and indiscriminate God who kills everyone for the sins of the few. And, of course, that you believe God made people gay but rejects them.

Then there's the lunatic fringe that believes God is punishing US for supporting the Jewish settlers' move out of the Gaza strip. Clearly, that's always been God's intent, having the Jews in the Gaza strip. Yep. And where was God during the Holocaust, if She's so protective of the Jews?

Speaking of lunatic, there was that suggestion floating around the internet early on that the hurricane's satellite photo looked like a fetus. Mmmm. Nice.
Finally, we've got Illinois Representative Jesse Jackson saying "God is responsible for this and in his own time he will reveal why." I guess that's probably the standard conservative Christian response to hardship. Don't agree with it, which is probably why I'm not a standard conservative Christian.

What do I think? I think the world is a hard place. I think Bad things happen. I don't think God, in any way, shape or form, has anything to do with them. Closest I see God getting to this round ball of earth is having created it (made a special little place in the universe for the Big Bang, waved Her magic wand, took a claymation class and formed us in Her image). The rest is up to us and the wind.

Sometimes, there is no meaning in an event. We can make meaning of it for ourselves after the fact. We can take lessons from our actions, or the actions of others. But I don't think God puts anything into a catastrophic tragedy like Katrina. Only we can decide what to take out of it.

What I take out of Katrina? People can be shits. People can be angels. Life can suck. Life sucks way more if you're poor. The people in power right now are inept at best, incompetent for sure, evil at worst.

Until tomorrow,

at least thinking about appearances

My, my. The Bush team is finally fanning out, inspecting the devastation that Katrina has wrought. Homeland Secretary Chertoff, who has escaped most criticism even though FEMA is directly under his care, will be in NOLA, as will Rumsfeld. And Condoleeza Rice will be in her native Alabama.

Wonder if she'll be wearing those $1000 shoes?


Saturday, September 03, 2005


Chief Justice William Rehnquist died today. What a time to inject this news into our unstable nation. Not that he could choose when to die, of course . . . .

T'will be interesting to see what we all make of it. My initial thoughts are that Bush goes with someone even more conservative to replace such a conservative. And that he goes outside of the current Court. But those were my thoughts pre-Katrina. Will he bend to some kind of popular will and choose a "softer" nominee, one easier to bring to the Court?

Hard to imagine Bush and his evil axis choosing anyone softer at any time.

Quickies for tonight?

1. From Senator Mary Landrieu

"I understand that the U.S. Forest Service had water-tanker aircraft available to help douse the fires raging on our riverfront, but FEMA has yet to accept the aid. When Amtrak offered trains to evacuate significant numbers of victims — far more efficiently than buses — FEMA again dragged its feet. Offers of medicine, communications equipment and other desperately needed items continue to flow in, only to be ignored by the agency.

But perhaps the greatest disappointment stands at the breached 17th Street levee. Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this
morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment. The good and decent people of southeast Louisiana and the Gulf Coast — black and white, rich and poor, young and old — deserve far better from their national government."

2. Did you know that Red Cross isn't actually allowed into New Orleans? According to a faq on their website, the state Homeland Security Department requests that the Red Cross not reenter New Orleans as "(O)ur presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city".

Yep. I can see that many, many REFUGEES will be flooding (pardon the sick and weak pun) back into NOLA to reach the Red Cross.

Yep. I can see that people are PINING to stay in NOLA, and the Red Cross would be one big lure, one smacking enticement, keeping those people who just can't stay away from a bleeping catastrophic third world country disaster region there.

Betcha that state Homeland Security Department was told to do this by the Federal Homeland Security Department.

Until tomorrow,

The Fine Art of Distraction

Went roller skiing this morning, as is my usual wont. The Cubs had an early game, so I tuned in. I need distraction while I work out. It makes the work out smooth, easier. Distraction is like that. I started to feel guilty, though. Guilty for enjoying the beautiful weather we've had here in Chicago. Guilty for the Cubs, playing games while people starve and thirst to death. Guilty for the ability to care about my health when others have no home and no health care.

Basic survivors guilt. And I didn't "survive" Katrina. I'm here. And they're there. But I was still feeling guilty.

Annie and I were talking about guilt last night. I tidily opined then that gratitude is the antidote for guilt, assuming no action needs to be taken. I've taken what action I seem able to: given to the Red Cross (if you haven't yet, do it now); stayed informed; and paid attention to what other local organizations I might be able to give to as time passes.

So, out there on the road, passing families off to soccer games, moms running errands, older folks doing their daily doggy saunters, I practiced gratitude. Soaked it all in, the pleasants, the joys, the what my life is. And said Thank You.

One of the things I'm grateful for is distraction. I can't read about the hurricane and its aftermath 24/7. It hurts too much. It makes me too angry. And it adds to my feeling of helplessness--which helps no one.

Yes, I know. I am, again, fortunate to be able to avoid 24/7 exposure. Because I'm not there. But even the folks there are probably practicing some form of distraction, however meager. Making gallows humor jokes. Singing in the dark. Praying. Playing the license plate game on the bus to Houston. No one can be in the dark 24/7. That's why people commit suicide when they're deeply depressed.

Distraction is good, then. Usually. But why was I so furious to read of Condi Rice's shoe purchases? Isn't that distraction, too? How is that any different (other than on an economic scale) from the Cubs playing the Pirates today? Or playing the license plate game? Or roller skiing in lovely prefall weather?

It's different because. The Cubs are players. They are doing their job: playing ball. The license plate game players are doing their job, too. They are distracting themselves during a horrible situation. No shame in that. And even me, the roller skier in lovely prefall weather. I'm doing my job, too. I'm a parent and a person. I need to take care of myself so that I can take care of my family.

But Condi? She's a government official. True, she's Secretary of State, not Secretary of Homeland Defense. But it just doesn't set well with me (or anyone else, apparently) to have a Cabinet official off spending buttloads (again, a technical financial term) of money on shoes when people all over the Gulf Coast have lost all of theirs. It just doesn't set well with me to have a Cabinet official off guffawing at Spamalot while people all over the Gulf Coast are dying of dehydration and starvation. It goes just a bit beyond distraction. Just a bit.

It just adds fuel to my fury, given George Bush's initial reaction to the Hurricane. Government plays while people die. It's horrendous. Just horrendous. Methinks the Bush administration has no clue about how its behaviors play out for the average Josephine. No clue that buying thousands of dollars of shoes and not showing up immediately at the biggest natural disaster in US history go well beyond distraction and right into "I don't give a goddamn about you and yours".

Until tomorrow,

Friday, September 02, 2005

Two quickies

Did you see . . .

the hurricane benefit concert on NBC tonight? My daughter and I were watching this evening.
Kanye West and Mike Meyers were hosting. Kanye said, among other things, "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Told it like it looks.

Did you hear . . .

about the oil spill on the Mississippi? Two tanks with the capacity to hold two million barrels are leaking? The Oil Drum says that the Exxon Valdez spill was only 257,000 barrels.

How much more can they take down there?

At least the Feds have finally begun to show up. In NOLA.

Until tomorrow,

helplessness and anger

I'm a hunter and gatherer these days, scanning the varied medias I read for what I need. But I can't find what I need. What I need is to hear that the needs of the hundreds of thousands suffering from this disaster of a Katrina are finally beginning to be met. And on this, there is still mostly silence. So I careen back and forth between helplessness and anger. Got an email today from one of the churches we're involved with. Here's what it said:

<>"Your URGENT prayers are requested for 60 some people trapped since Sunday in the basement of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in New Orleans. This includes the Pastor, his wife, and people from the community. This is in the area where there have been reports of gangs with guns. Please pray for their safe rescue, for peace to surround them and for God's angels to protect them. "

At least they're inside, with like-minded individuals. But.

This quote from the Washington Post:

"Those left behind in the Crescent City, including many with diabetes and other worsening health conditions, clung to rooftops, gathered on overpasses and bridges, and huddled on islands of dry ground, waiting for help that never came. Parents carried small children, and grown children carried their elderly parents through the flotsam. Corpses floated in fetid waters and lay amid the crowds of refugees. Helicopters airlifted hundreds of seriously ill patients to a makeshift field hospital at the city's airport."

The news reports refer again and again to "refugee". The imagine in my mind is always of someone else. A Palestinian or an Iraqi or someone from Dafur. Then I refocus, and I see an American. And I am speechless with dismay that this could happen Here. Land of the free, home of the brave, living space of the refugees?

Most of our refugees are, however, no different from the refugees in other countries. They are poor. They are a minority; two thirds of the city are black. Folks who didn't have the funds or the wherewithal to get the hell out of Dodge before it was too late. So now they're stuck in the hellhole of NOLA. On the fetid streets in front of the Convention Center. On rooftops, still waiting.

Waiting for George Bush? He did finally arrive today. Received a public briefing, complete with maps. What was THAT about? What a photo op moment. And to dignify Trent Lott's situation (he lost a home) with comment during such a horrible disaster for so many was incredibly insensitive on Bush's part.

I heard a physical therapist speak on the radio who was trapped in Charity Hospital in NOLA. They are rationing food and water, and finally received more of such supplies only today. Folks are dying there, and more will die until they get the patients out of these, said the therapist. Plans and more plans have been made to do so, but none of them pan out. According to the Post, boats can't get to that hospital because shots continue to be fired at the boats who get close.

Again with the Post. Story about one particular refugee family--five children, mom and dad. Their youngest is a premature 3 month old sweetie. They didn't leave town because they didn't have a car big enough to hold them all, and they were afraid of being arrested. After two days, they were rescued from a rooftop. And taken to shelter?

Not exactly. A spot under a freeway." "I thought we were going to die out there," Bernadette Washington said. "We had to sleep on the ground. Use the bathroom in front of each other. Laying on that ground, I just couldn't take it. I felt like Job." After a bus trip, they've ended up in Baton Rouge, where they await help from a relative.

And they're the lucky ones who got out and got help.

The African-American community is getting riled up. With good reason. Seems like the poor and the black were pretty much ignored when it comes to planning ahead for hurricane disaster scenarios. This from the NYTimes:

"Brian Wolshon, an engineering professor at Louisiana State University who served as a consultant on the state's evacuation plan, said little attention was paid to moving out New Orleans's "low-mobility" population - the elderly, the infirm and the poor without cars or other means of fleeing the city, about 100,000 people.

At disaster planning meetings, he said, "the answer was often silence."

No need to wonder why the Washingtons, from the story above, view this whole disaster in racial overtones. The haves escaped. And the have nots, for the most part, remain. God help them, since we aren't doing a good enough job.

Until tomorrow,

Thursday, September 01, 2005

And ashamed again

I've been wallowing in Katrina and what wasn't done to prepare and manage this mess all afternoon. Been feeling oh so helpless, despite my monetary gift to the Red Cross. How can people who knew this Cat 4 or 5 storm could come, would come, yet ignored the inevitability and how to properly manage it sleep at night? How can President George W. Bush say, with a straight face, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees"?

Apparently, his face wasn't actually straight--he spent most of that interview smirking. Fortunately, I didn't actually SEE the interview. Might've smashed my TV.

The US has spent millions of hours and dollars on terrorism and homeland security, a nebulous investment at best. At the same time, we've taken away millions of dollars from organizations like FEMA, downsized, made unimportant. As though fighting terrorism was more important than fighting natural disasters. By knocking the legs out under organizations like FEMA, the Bush administration has made natural disasters far more dangerous than terrorism ever could be.

FEMA predicted years ago that a huge hurricane hitting NOLA was one of the three most likely natural catastrophes to hit in coming years. Even with that knowledge, the Bush administration cuts funds to the area Army Corp of Engineers by $72 MILLION.

All accounts from NOLA indicate there is no one in charge. No one seems to be directing rescue operations. No one seems to be directing security operations. No one seems to be directing food and water distribution. This is like a Third World country. Why in the hell should a Mayor of a major city in the United States be issuing an SOS asking for help?

There are over 20,000 people still waiting at the Superdome. Waiting to be warehoused in another dome. But somewhere, anywhere would be better than the Superdome. There are reports that a child was raped inside last night. No food. No water. Dead bodies on the ground. Why in the hell should a Mayor of a major city in the United States be issuing an SOS asking for help? Where is our government?

Busy denying. When questioned about the FEMA cuts, Scott McClellan scolded, "This is not a time for politics." Sorry, but this definitely IS a time for politics. This is a time when politics, when government, should be responsible. Should take responsibility. Should make things work, no matter what it takes. Stop spending time deflecting and denying and save these people in NOLA before more people die.

There are people dying on top of hospitals. There are people still trapped in attics with no food or water. There are people dying in front of the Superdome. How many more have to die before Bush and his administration get their acts together? How can we possible think that, as a nation, we can save other countries, tell them what to do, when we can't even manage our own disaster?

Until tomorrow,


So often, during disasters of minor or major importance, I am proud of the behavior of my country. We stand up, stick up, care for those in trouble. We collect millions of dollars. In little and big ways, we've so often come to the rescue of ourselves and of other nations. Well. Not this time. In this time of Hurricane Katrina, I'm embarrassed to be an American.

This time, we've got whining Americans. "Why aren't we receiving condolences from other countries?" "Why isn't anyone giving us financial aid?" Childish and nonsensical. We want it both ways. We want to be the paternalistic nation that cares for all and runs it all. But when things get rough, we want someone to rush in and take care of us.

Hello? Have any of these whiners and complainers noticed the financial state of the world compared to the United States? There's a reason we rush in where others are monetarily unable to tread: we have money up the wazoo, and most other nations don't. The Rockefellers don't usually turn to the Trumps when they suffer a market corrections. They use their other billions to rescue themselves.

And this time, we've got looting Americans. Admittedly, some of these folks are looting simply to exist. When there is no place to buy food and water, and no food and water to legally be had, looting may be the choice of last resort. But the cars full of beer and television sets? Me thinks this is not about survival. This is about greed. This is about disrespecting your neighbors. This is about short-sighted people who do not see how their actions will destroy New Orleans.

I cannot imagine what it would be like to be the owner of the local corner store, watching my neighbors emerge from my place of livelihood with the goods I've poured my life blood into. Watching first your business be trashed by Katrina, then by Fred, the guy who lives down the block.

And last, we've got the gouging Americans. Jacking up the price of gas well before any need to do so. The losses incurred by the oil companies have not hit the pumps yet. Have not hit the refineries yet. Have not hit the oil companies yet. The increase in prices is all about greed. Getting what you can while you can. The American Way.

What happened to the American Way of fairness? Of honesty? Of respect? I see this as a top down issue. Morals are modeled from the top down in every area of life: families, governments, businesses. And, right now, ain't nobody modeling much but greed, disrespect, and selfishness. CEOs making more money than anyone could spend in a lifetime while workers are bumped to part-time jobs with no benes. Governments passing budgets that benefit oil companies making record profits while yanking funding from social services and relevant organizations like the New Orleans' Corp of Engineers. And parents that are more concerned with me, me, me and materialism than spending time with their kids.

I know there are Americans right now doing the right thing. Probably more than who are doing the wrong thing. But what I see in the news, and what the rest of the world sees, are the ones doing the wrong thing. And because of that, I'm appalled. Disgusted. And ashamed.

Until tomorrow,