Wednesday, December 14, 2005

"It's Gonna Take Awhile"

"It's Gonna Take Awhile"

In today's speech, as always, President Bush will not commit to any benchmark or timetable in Iraq.
Bad news.
Bush has either misled us or he has screwed up royally on Iraq - maybe both - and I don't trust him to carry on without a crystal clear and decisive plan. I know am not alone. (59% agree). I view him as having one eye on the calendar for the American political season - and the other on getting out of the mess he created with some kind of honor.
I want a leader with both eyes on one America. We want someone we know we can trust. Trust is a major problem for Bush.

A lack of a focus on an endgame - the absence of a clear identification of the remaining political, economic, and military benchmarks that must be met and a reasonable schedule to achieve them could mean a dangerous and unexpected end to a disastrous Utopian attempt to change the Middle East.

Bush saying he will mimic Truman's "persistence" to see Japan become a democracy gives me the shivers when I think about Japan's "path to freedom."

The Nagasaki-Hiroshima story reminds us that government deceit (even by good men) is hardly a recent invention. None of the officials involved in this tale had evil intentions. What can be said of them is that some became so taken by the power the atomic bomb seemed to give them to do good (as they defined it), that they seem to have become carried away...
The manipulation of the public by elites, the seductive belief that overwhelming force confers unlimited power to determine good and evil, and the fragile nature of the limits we seem willing to accept on our own prerogatives are all ongoing issues--as, finally, is the terrible question of what it means for a democracy to delegate to one person such extraordinary discretionary power in an era when the next Hiroshima could be the globe.

- Excerpted from: The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb
by Gar Alperovitz

Louisiana - Public Sentiment After Katrina

Louisiana - Public Sentiment After Katrina

A new study reveals Louisianians' post-hurricane attitudes.
LSU's Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs shows that Louisiana residents are most concerned about the displacement of the state's residents, closely followed by their concern for rebuilding New Orleans. [LSU]
Document here (pdf)

Public confidence in religious organizations and nonprofits is highest, while confidence in federal government is lowest.
Louisiana residents rated the response of religious organizations as highly effective, giving them an 8.1 on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being highly ineffective and 10 being very effective. Nonprofit organizations received a 7.5. However, respondents evaluated the effectiveness of government response – at all lev-els – much more negatively. Respondents rated New Orleans city government and state government at 4.6, local governments – other than New Orleans – at 6.5, and the federal government at 5.1. The Greater New Orleans region – areas identified by the 504 area code – consistently rated all levels of government more negatively than other area of the state.
We are a divided society - two Americas - and it shows in this recent poll. Results show a clearly partisan response to the ratings given to the state vs. the federal government response to the hurricane. Unless you were comatose last Labor Day, you know how bad the federal response was to Katrina. Yet, look at the non-realistic response from Louisiana Republicans on the federal response vs. the local/state response. It's as if they were coached by Fox News:
Breaking the results out by political perspective, Republicans gave the federal government significantly higher ratings, 6.0, than state or local governments, 4.3 and 3.8 respectively; while Democrats gave low marks to government across the board, 4.7 to the federal government and 5.0 to both the state and local governments.
I am tired of having to report that many of our citizens are refusing to look at reality and are neglecting to commit to working together, as Americans from one America, to guide our Representatives toward meaningful solutions to so many of our nation's troubles. The longer we stubbornly commit to being divided, the worse things will get. The worst leadership lessons about commitment to national division have been taught by our President, who has given blubbery lip service to bipartisanship, but has never backed it up with meaningful action. Our Representatives are equally guilty. From the president, we have seen perpetual Republican campaign speeches, set perfectly for the media in front of adoring invitation-only throngs, with a convenient legislative companion to help him to cash in on what Bush unduly considers to be his "political capital" - the compliant "rubber-stamp" House of Representatives.

Louisiana citizens are looking to the federal government for the help that was promised to them by the president in his speech with the beauty-shot of New Orleans' Jackson Square in the background. It's been almost four months since the president promised "one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen.” Yet, to date less than $20 million in emergency aid has reached the region, and there has been little indication of any plan for rebuilding New Orleans and the surrounding areas. According to a New York Times op-ed by Bruce Katz and Matt Fellowes of the Brookings Institution, 50 percent of the city still has no gas; only 10 percent of bus lines are running; and only one public school has re-opened. According to other sources, 40 percent of the city remains in the dark. [source: The Century Foundation]
A majority of Louisiana residents, 54 percent, said that the federal government should pick up the tab for the costs of rebuilding, while 20 percent said insurance companies should pay the costs and 13 percent said state government should pay.
Citizens are very concerned about the future of education and, to a lesser extent, health care. Some would actually agree to cutting health care to save education. What a sad choice - don't you agree?
Louisiana residents expressed a preference for raising taxes over cutting either education or health care, and a preference for borrowing money over raising taxes. Nearly 70 percent of respondents opted for raising taxes rather than cutting education and 65 percent opted for raising taxes over cutting health care. Even larger majorities preferred borrowing money to cutting education – 79 percent – or cutting health care – 74 percent.

In more New Orleans news, FEMA so far has quietly backed off of any parish government that has raised questions about their trailer parks, according to Jeff M. David, publisher of the Livingston Parish News. I can't imagine that any Lousiana parish would appreciate these trailer parks, and cultural integration by issuing housing vouchers would be a far better idea.

From the New York Times:
This beleaguered city has struggled for months to maintain a "we're all in this together" civility, to keep the high-ground haves from turning their backs on the lowland have-nots. But the issue of where to place trailer parks in New Orleans seems to have stirred tensions and rubbed people like little else.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency wants to set up more than 22,000 trailers in the city in an effort to house returning residents while they rebuild their homes. Many will go in private yards, but plans also call for 22 trailer parks, said Rachel C. Rodi, a FEMA spokeswoman.

The agency has also been encountering resistance to parks in the rest of the state, even as it fields complaints that there is not enough housing for evacuees. Only a handful of parishes are allowing them. Some, like Orleans Parish, are restricting them, while many are barring them altogether.
And then there's NIMBY problem:
Much about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath has been unprecedented, yet this outcry is all too typical in cities throughout the nation. Everyone wants to help the less fortunate, but can't the city find another place for them?
It looks like most citizens believe the trailer park idea is bad - all around. The poorest will be stuck living in tin cans all together - isolated literally and figuratively from those lovely housing divisions across the street where the rich folk like to meet.