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Foaming at the mouth

Reading John Hazlehurst's column last week reminded me of the old saying "Don't confuse me with facts; my mind is made up." Many of us who have lived in and dearly love New Orleans see this terrible event as a profound tragedy; apparently Mr. Hazlehurst sees it as a serendipitous opportunity to bash the current regime, the Republicans, the Christians, and whoever else he has decided is an enemy of his State of Liberal Righteousness.

I was there in the 60's for Hurricane Betsy and the pumps didn't work. The Barrier Islands were disappearing. I was there in the 70's and it was a tradition to get trapped downtown or uptown for many hours because the pumps couldn't handle even three to four inches of rain. The levees have been the object of concern since they were built, for a lot longer than 25 years. Colorful and lovable as the state and local governments have always been, they have never gotten high marks for using money wisely and handling catastrophes efficiently.

Everyone is entitled to his opinion, but to portray the Republican Party as the architect of New Orleans' downfall and then to give Mr. Clinton a pass (funny, "timid" is not a word I would apply to him, and he probably wouldn't like it either) is foam-at-the-mouth biased.

One of the problems with criticizing bigotry is that the critic exposes his own. And I don't know how to explain to my New Orleans friends, who lost their homes, their jobs, and even their pets, that this shouldn't have happened to THEM since they don't fit into any of the categories Mr. Hazlehurst listed that would cause the federal government to overlook them.

On the upside, my Gulf Coast friends just had moderate damage -- maybe because they are charter members of Moveon.org?

By the way, I didn't vote for Bush. But I vote for my beloved New Orleans' rising again, because it won't be defeated by self-serving demagogues who want to label it and use it for their political fodder.

-- Geraldine Russell

Colorado Springs

Fox guarding the hen house

The FEMA response (or non-response as the case may be) to the disaster in New Orleans was pitiful. Poor people in that city were without help for days. President Bush's political appointee to head FEMA apparently had no skills to respond to the disaster and didn't even know people were starving, without medication or medical help in the superdome, even as it was splattered all over the news.

The Republican rally to investigate amounts to the fox guarding the henhouse. What is needed is an independent investigation of why this happened, much like the 9/11 commission. Please don't let the administration get away with whitewashing it's failure to respond adequately to this disaster.

-- Sheri Slike

Colorado Springs

Let's not bargain shop

Some one please tell me how a non-partial investigation into the hurricane relief fiasco is going to be anything but tainted when run by the Bush Administration? Or for that matter any politically based entity!

The people of America demand better -- let's not bargain-shop for the answers to the questions we need. This investigation will only serve the purpose of exposing ineptitudes if it is performed by an unbiased, unaffiliated company -- not our government.

-- Lori Marin

Colorado Springs

The blame game

The mayor New Orleans let 200 buses in his city limits flood while he ran around like he had his head cut off.

The first response to a situation as this is the local government. The mayor of New Orleans probably let hundreds and even thousands die because he did not immediately employ these bused to the areas of greatest risk. His government should have had the best knowledge of the weaknesses of the dike system and the areas of highest risk. I am only putting on him the same standard he desires to put on the state and feds.

It was his responsibility to request help from the state. It was the state's responsibility to tell the federal government of what and who was needed where so the logistics could be worked out.

It looks like the greatest breakdown was between the state and the feds. There will be a lot of finger pointing. It will be important to follow the paper trail as well as any recordings related to the disaster to help determine who is at fault. Quite frankly I think there will be plenty of faults to go around regardless of party or agency affiliation.

-- Earl Barnett

Speedwell, Tenn.

A far cry from democracy

How appalling must our administration's conduct become for the American public to say enough is enough? So many of us are standing by as our national image and its reputation is being tarnished around the globe.

A few examples of Bush's dismal politics include: lies justifying imperial war, tax cuts for the rich, promoting corporate windfalls, failed energy policies, a growing disdain for American citizens around the world, and at this time, his lack of immediate response to the devastation inflicted by Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast.

Our Teflon president has a diabolical talent of spinning disasters into media events veiled behind patriotism. George Bush is a man whose view of an American society seems a far cry from a democracy. In Bush's view, corporations deserve to be in control of the nation's money, the race card can be played when it suits his needs, and those without money don't count.

In Iraq the killing of a hundred thousand Iraqi civilians doesn't count.

Environmental protections don't count if they lie in the way of energy companies' record profits. And it is evident by the events in the states ravaged by Katrina that if you are poor or black your pain and suffering isn't the same as the wealthy and white.

As we watch this tragedy unfold we learn how Bush slashed funding of dike construction, how FEMA knew about the horrific effects which could result from such a storm. We watched American citizens waited in vain for a rescue that wasn't coming. Yet, we pump billions of dollars into Bush's war and a Homeland Security Department claiming to keep us safer.

I still hold out hope that those of us with flags wrapped tightly around our bodies and minds will see the damage the president is doing to us. The cry of an emperor without clothes will permeate our psyche.

We will loudly voice our disdain for the poisonous policies of Bush's administration, and demand this Boy Scout president confess his sins so America can begin the arduous task of earning its honor and citizenry badges.

-- Jonathan Wuerth

Colorado Springs

A couple answers

I am sure all of your readers are asking the question why our federal government was so slow to send aid to New Orleans and surrounding areas after the recent hurricane.

Let me offer a two-part answer for your consideration. This administration is determined to shrink our federal government in order to justify the previous tax-cuts. FEMA is a prime example of an essential government agency that has been rendered toothless, folded into the Department of Homeland Security, and saddled with an inexperienced director in Michael Brown.

When the hurricane hit, President Bush was in Crawford hoping that the local and state response would be adequate, and he wouldn't have to appropriate much federal funding to the area.

The second part is that the broken levee was slated to be repaired and strengthened several years ago. But the federal funds were redirected to the conflict in Iraq. Try telling that to the victims' families now.

-- Jeremy Van Hoy

Colorado Springs

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