I am mistaken. Thankfully, there is a person in charge of this country who set my thinking straight tonight. While everyone seemed to be grousing about who or what was to blame for the damage that Katrina wrought, our president focused his efforts on what can be done to help the people that were affected. I'm humbled by the amount of work that he has done, both asking Congress for relief and also coming up with plans to help the people that have had their lives turned upside down. Not just a plan to give them a hand out; or to say "here's some money go help yourself." Rather, he came up with a plan to help people start businesses back up, and to rebuild their houses and their city.
He has a lot of great ideas and great ways that the Gulf Coast can repair and rebuild itself. He also stated in his message what I believe to be the most profound idea: This idea was that the federal government would recommend what needed to be done, and that he would leave it up to the state and local governments to do it... to figure out the details. It was a very nice way of saying, we've all screwed up; big government knows what needs to be done and small government needs to figure out and handle the details. (And make everyone accountable for every dollar, too.)
The great thing about America is that in these times of crisis, when there are so many who need, that we do come together and we help each other. Tonight I saw a Republican president and act as a Democrat. The government is going to take direct action to help the people, rather than indirect actions which would help the people help themselves. This generally seems be more characteristic of the Democratic Party, however, we can't have a government that helps everybody all to time. It's just not able to do that. If it was, our taxes would be much more like those in Europe... almost 50% of everyone's wages would go back to the government.
$60 billion of our tax dollars is going to be allocated by the federal government to rebuild the Gulf Coast to include the city of New Orleans. I hope the part about $60 billion is to build higher and better levies around the city and surrounding suburbs. The levy that I saw 'burst' was made of earth, hopefully the new ones will be built as high walls of concrete or whatever engineers figure is the best way to keep water from coming in.
The talking heads in the news on the channel I was watching (NBC) mentioned before the President's speech how he was standing in one of the prettier parts of New Orleans—one of the parts that seemed to be unaffected by the flooding. They didn't make a big deal of it, but they did note that he wasn't in the more devastated parts of the city. I think this is because his speech was a message of hope, not one of how horrible this has been. He was telling people who are watching from Red Cross shelters and other places of refuge that things were going to be OK, that they were going to rebuild, and that they were going to be better off than they were before. He was telling them that they were going to get help; that their government was going to help them. He mentioned poverty that has existed in some families since the Civil War, and by recognizing this shows that he understands the nature of the problems of why some people could not evacuate, why they could not leave. They truly have nowhere else to go.
Personally, if some great danger were coming here to my house or toward my house, and I had even an hour's notice, if I did not have the luxury of a car or a truck, if all I had was advance notice, and a direction which I could escape the danger, I would pack only what I was able to carry on my back; items necessary for family survival. I would then commence to start walking with the Mrs. and kids. I would take them away from the danger as best as possible. (Of course, Carren would also have to carry a backpack full of my meds.) I know I sound like some whacked out survivalist, but very recently (June 21st to be exact) when faced with what seemed like a hopeless situation, the only thought that came through my mind as I lay upside down in a drainage canal, wasn't one of pity, or of hopelessness. The only thought I had was "I Am Not Going to Die Today." I started kicking my feet and pulling with my hands to get out of the water, to get up to air (this was after being blown apart; having my arms and legs laid bare). And I started helping myself, without knowing it I had made just enough noise that my XO was able to hear me trapped in the rushes. He jumped in and helped me help myself out of the water. There's never been a more poignant description as far as I'm concerned of someone being helped that helped themselves.
This isn’t the president's first time dealing with a major crisis that affected so many people. Right after he took the job, he had to make the same kind of speech in New York. Not one of pointing fingers or laying blame, but of giving those affected hope. At best, I think that's what good presidents do... they give people hope. Whether it's through initiating legislation to make the country stronger and to make our lives better and safer or through the direct action of going after our enemies, hunting them down, and killing them, that's what good presidents to. Unfortunately you can't kill a hurricane or legislate against it.
As for how this was FDR’s fault, his works projects are the ones that built dams and levees and drained the swamps that are the Mississippi's natural flooding grounds. By generally straightening the river to trying to make it bend to our will, we dumped more and more silt in the Mississippi River that was carried all the way up the Gulf. As the silt built, New Orleans began to sink faster than it had before (it's always been sinking since there's no bedrock there). Moreover, the newly reclaimed land (the former flood grounds/swamps) turned out to be extremely fertile farmland and later, housing developments. Well, when Old Man River decides to burst his banks, he usually does it in his many-millennia-old floodplains. Controlling the Mississippi is as futile as trying to control the Nile, or even the ocean.
So, how about everybody stop bitching about whose fault was and everybody accept equal blame for not helping sooner or not leaving sooner. Shoot the looters, and round up all the people who've been price gouging, take them to the Superdome, and fill it with water and Crockagators. Use the (previously shot), looters as chum to attract the Crockagators. While we are at it, find the employment records of the nursing home that had 37 patients left to die and put them all in a sealed tank, and slowly fill it with water. Fill the tank until only one of them drowns. Lather, rinse, and repeat 36 more times. Assign each of the employees a number, and let people bet on whether or not they will make it each time. Put the whole spectacle on pay-per-view TV, and let the reconstruction pay for itself. If there were more than 37 employees on shift at the time that the order to evacuate was given, put them all in the tank, and after the first 37 die, make them all contestants on the next “survivor,” only this time, when you are voted off the island, you're killed... fed to Crockagators. Finally, the last person to survive, will be left alone on that island with only the thoughts of the 37 who died in the nursing home. (That's either going to get me a lot of fan mail are a lot of hate mail.)
The Mrs. told me about a half an hour ago that it was time for bed, but it takes awhile to unwrap the tinfoil, and I had to take my meds anyway. I've spent far too many nights away from home to miss an opportunity to go to bed with her (even if all we do is sleep.).