Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Joys of the College Newspaper

Today was another joyous day of classes here in Tampa, Florida. I had my Modern Short Novel class (the teacher I'm sure suffers ADHD which should make for interesting times in a three hour class). Overall, after one week of class I'm very excited about this semester. There is going to be a lot of reading as I've mentioned, as well as a fair bit of writing. I feel more than equal to the task.

The most annoying thing about being back on a college campus is the liberal bent to nearly everything that is occurring. I was reading the Oracle - USF's newspaper linked to in this blog title - when I ran across an article titled Above it All this article featured a picture of Bush in Air Force One looking out a window. As you can follow the link to read the full article I'll briefly summarize. "Hurricane Katrina and all the damage to New Orleans caused by it, and the loss of life caused by the Hurricane were all Bush's fault. And he isn't doing a damn thing about it even after the fact." Now this is of course a gross overstatement of the article however, as this is my blog I can do that if I want, go read the article yourself. What upset me was the misrepresentation of the truth. First off Bush did cut short his vacation to return to Washington to meet with Advisors. The photo opportunity idea is just absurd and the article's writer should be kicking himself in the ass concerning the stupidity of including those comments. In any case I wrote a letter to the editor, I'm sure it won't get published there, so I have decided to publish it here in order to gather the opinions of those whom (is that the proper use John?) I respect and believe more qualified to argue with me than those at the Oracle. Here is a copy of the letter I sent them.

In response to your recent criticism of the President's actions concerning the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina; I would like to ask what you would have done had you been President? Yes, going on the air prior to the impact may have encouraged a few more citizens of the city to evacuate - only for them to be stuck in traffic on I-10 with several thousand other individuals. However, due to the liberal leanings of the city it seems more likely they would have just ignored his warnings and done as they planned. They believed themselves more intelligent than the experts so they ignored all advice and decided to stay having no idea of the consequences of that decision. Now that Katrina has passed you say the President should do something. Perhaps the President should have followed your advice and been seen to consoling the victims of the hurricane in New Orleans where several shootings, rapes, and lootings have occurred. One man even began to fire at evacuees from Charity Hospital. In times as stressful as these we should most certainly endanger our Commander-in-Chief for mere photo opportunities. I believe his choice was the best decision he could make. He flew over, assessed the damage as he could, then proceeded to Washington to meet with Emergency Help Coordinators who are better trained to handle such situations and could advise him on the best course of actions to take. Such recent decisions as, sending in more National Guard and Reserve troops and releasing part of the National Petroleum Reserve in order to combat rising gas prices caused by oil shortage. You are correct that cutting funding to the levee system was a mistake, however past powerful hurricanes had hit the area and done minor damage; the unpredictability of weather is what caused this disaster not a decision by the president. A president can not just stand up and issue a command that a hurricane turn aside simply because it turning aside would be more beneficial to his people. A president needs to believe that his citizens are capable of thinking and taking care of themselves to a certain degree. As Katrina turned West then North after entering the Gulf citizens of the likely impact area should have been thinking about past storm intensity and seen the rate of growth that Katrina underwent, these should have been clear signs of imminent danger. Unfortunately they did not heed the warnings of Mother Nature or of the meteorologists whose job it is to predict and forewarn concerning these things. A government that is always telling citizens what to do is not a democracy but rather a dictatorship or socialism, neither of which are systems I wish to live under. Bush acted in a manner consistent with allowing a people to make their own decisions then helping them as much as possible once they realized the horrible bounty those decisions had reaped.

*Note* Please edit as necessary for grammar, spelling though I believe these are both fine. As this is simply an informal letter of opinion I did not give reference to the AP articles I used, if necessary please contact me and I will be happy to provide websites. I do however find it interesting that not all the facts of the story were correct, namely concerning Bush's vacation which he did cut short on Tuesday after hearing reports of the devastation, even if this response does not get printed please begin to check all your facts for validity before going to press. Go here. Thank you for this opportunity.

I'm hoping that you will find it a bit cutting, succinct, and yet tactful enough to be considered for publication. Everyone, let me know what you think I could have done differently with it.


Crystal said...

And now for the Bush hater to reply.

First off, I HATE the president with the fiery passion, but I think he is doing all he can. Yes maybe in hind sight there are a few more things he/we could have done, but no one knew that before the storm. Its something you can only find out if you were right on once its over.

If you bring in supplies for recovery to early they may get hit by the storm and be lost or be in the wrong place. There is only so much you can do other than tell people to get the hell out while they can or sit tight if they waited to long. We did the same thing for this storm that we have done for every other whopper of a hurricane that we had that much advance notice of expected land fall.

Finally I would like to add that its not really the people who stayed behinds fault that they are stuck. I blame metierologists. Why? Because 9 times out of 10 they are wrong and people know this. When they predict the worst each year (like this years St Pete will be under water scare) and are wrong, the people loose faith in the message and the gravity of the situations.

This is however not the metierologists fault, as weather science is difficult at best. When you come down to it that bird flap from south america just might have caused the whole thing. The weather people are doing their best with what they have to work with. You have to give them credit for even trying to predict what is nearly impossible.

and thats my 2 cents

Just Another Traveler said...

Ok, here are my thoughts
::play "Who Want to be a Millionare" music::

First, I wouldn't be too quick to attribute party politics to the citizens of New Orleans's reluctance to evacuate. For as you pointed out, the levies and municipal protections have warded off countless storms in the past. And after evacuating (seemingly) needlessly three of four times, one becomes simply annoyed.

I see their reluctance as a result of two factors: (1) desensitization and (2) lack of communication. The first you've already mentioned and pretty much goes without saying. But the second reason is much more speculation. Low-income families (not homeless) do not necessarily have access to weather reports or local news outside of what they hear word-of-mouth. And assuming that they were aware via neighbors and friends, how would their reports be be any different from the reports of the last storm? E.G. "I here there's a huge hurricane heading this way, they say it might hit us." This goes back to reason #1: way react when last time it was all for nothing?

Second, in regard to Bush, I agree with you Matt that there is simply not much that he can do other than offer support. And if anyone has the power to encourage, the president is the man (despite Bush's vernacular shortcomings) simply as a result of the efficacy of his position. After all, the destruction of New Orleans, despite a tragedy, is only one, however magnanimous, of the many many many current preoccupations of President Bush. Besides, there are men and women who are more capable of helping the victims than Pres. Bush. Best to give responsibility to those who can make a difference.

And finally, my most pressing concern; if you disagree with everything I've alluded to so far, at least give this some thought. As we can see by the article you read, your comments, Crystal's comments, and every media company on the air and in print, EVERYONE is trying to PLACE BLAME. Let's put this into perspective people, Hurricane Katrina was an act of God and nothing anyone could have done could have prevented it. Despite all the scientific research, you simply cannot predict weather, the factors are too many and too variable. We cannot blame the weatherman (who are actually faily accurate most of time but most fail to realize this...never forgetting the errors and always forgetting the successes) offense to Crystal. We cannot blame the city who built the levies for this very reason, had shelters ready, mapped out evacuation routes, and DID have other measures in place, however inadqueate. No one can truly know an army's true power until they are in the midst of battle. And we cannot blame the poeple, because I for one can say I've never run from a hurricane and always waited it out. Some of us just gut lucky; for everyone else, we do the best we can to rebuild.

Matthew Robinson said...

John you're right that I placed some blame on folks who don't really deserve it. My knee jerk reaction was a bit hasty, due to being pissed about the factual incorrectness of the article (I learned earlier today that the President did in fact urge residents to evacuate, something the article said he never did), thus my words did not properly convey the meaning I wished them to. I don't think it was because of politics that folks didn't leave but rather an ignorance of what would occur, as you said due to insensitivity and poor communication. Cooler heads should have prevailed upon me before writing that letter, ah well, hindsight 20/20 as they say. In any case thanks for both responses. Perhaps one day we'll get a candidate who is intelligent and charismatic enough to bring together both sides of party politics and eventually do away with the party system, something George Washington thought was a very bad idea. I personally always try to choose the candidate who best aligns with my opinions (often a Republican), however if a Democrate offered a better alternative I would not hesitate to vote for that candidate instead. My worst fear is having to choose between two candidates that I severly dislike, can you imagine if in 2008 it is Hillary Clinton vs. Jeb Bush? I'd be moving to a foreign country for the four - eight years that followed that election. Anyways, thanks for writing.

Just Another Traveler said...

McCain of Arizona. If anyone has the ability to unite sides, he's the man to do it. His manner, his speech, and his party politics are those of a peacemaker, not in the hippie-lover fashion, but in the "come on folks, let's act like adults and get down to business" way. I usually go Democrat but should he run for president I would most likely vote for him.

Crystal said...

I too generally vote Democate but I think its mostly because I am a liberal, not a democrat. Its unfortunate the way that politics are done these days and people vote party and not policy. Its also unfortunate that we associate Dem with Liberal and Rep with conservative, and if they don't do that then their own party shuns them. I don't think we should have parties just because then people would actually have to listen to what is said before they vote.

(And no I take no offence John about the weather men comment, having met and talked with many... they just leave an icky taste in my mouth so I am a bit biased in my oppinions of how good they are. We do both agree though, they try hard.)