Saturday, September 16, 2006

What the Hell are we eating?

I work as a special education teacher. This does not pay as much as I would like. Does anyone get paid what he or she should be? I have as good a case as anyone else in this regard, but I do not know of anyone that does not claim to be underpaid. This leads many of us working folk to bring lunch. Just recently, I've made it a point to get lunch items when I do the weekly grocery run. Has anyone else noticed the proliferation of foods that are being prepared so that they do not need to be refrigerated?

O.K. I've always known that canned products were safe. Chef Boyardee was always good until it was opened. The fact that I ate a Hormel meal called Roast Beef and Mash Potatoes scares me to death, but probably makes my GI Doctor happy as can be. Why are there now so many options for non-perishable lunches? My folks ate, Meals Ready to Eat, MREs for a couple weeks last year, is the same technology being utilized in this case? I tried to google the topic for research purposes and did not come up with anything useful on the topic. If anyone has any ideas about this, I'm curious or I wouldn't have put this up. By the way, an MRE has a shelf life of a month if kept in 120-degree weather.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Forethought and Fearmongering

As we approach another election season, there are questions that inevitably come to mind. Why is there always a new Al Quaeda tape found during the run up to a vote. Is Osama on the ballot? There was a new Al Quaeda tape that turned up just prior to the 2004 election also. This seems convenient timing for an administration that wants to scare its base into voting. There are wonderful ways to motivate the electorate, fear is an amazing motivator. I lived in Washington, D.C. on September 11th 2001, and can appreciate some of the anxiety of what this anniversary brings. That does not mean that I understand or appreciate the idea that we as a group should dwell on fear.

The United States did not cower in fear when hijackings were all the rage in the 1970s. O.K. many of us did not go on TWA or Pan Am for obvious reasons. Maybe some people stopped flying, but I don't remember, Presidents Carter, Reagan or Bush saying vote me into office or the hijackers are going to take over. I don't remember hearing that Truman or Eisenhower said vote me in because we need to get ready for the Soviets to attack. Currently, we have elected leaders who are relying on scaring people into voting for them.

The Republicans have had 6 years of unchecked power. They have increased the amount of government spending to levels never attained before. The armed forces of America are more involved than at any time in recent memory. All of these things have been done, and they are still running an electoral campaign of fear. Do you feel any better about the state of the country than you did 5 years ago? Are our ports safer, air or sea, than they were before this war on terror began? Do you think we are headed in the right direction economically, socially, or diplomatically? Are you happier about the place this country holds in the world, than it did when the Republicans gained control? One final question Do you think the country is more united than it was 6 years ago?

These are all important questions because we are in peak election season. The Democrats need to put forth a plan to follow the security reccomendations of the 9/11 commission. This is something that crosses party lines, but the Republicans refuse to do. The Democrats need to refocus our resources on something other than tax cuts and corporate welfare. Rather than committing to rebuild Falujah, commit to rebuild New Orleans. Rather than guaranteeing universal health care in Iraq, offer universal heath care in Terrebone Parish or Liberty City. Rather than fully funding the first responders in Baghdad, let's try out the idea in Brooklyn. I'm not suggesting isolationism, far from it. I'm suggesting a bit of forethought.

As I teach, I ask my students to think before they speak or act. I wish I could ask the same of my President.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The City that Bush Forgot

Tropical Storm Ernesto threw me a bit off track. I feel bad for the friends and people of the Carolinas, but I'm thankful that the weather we got was relatively mild. What if this event had been worse for South Florida, or for that matter the Atlantic Coast? Did FEMA learn anything from the disastrous response to Katrina? How long will it take before the Gulf Coast is back to being the tourist destination it had grown to be?

These questions have been brought up again in the national media, because the anniversary of Katrina was just this week. My brother in law asked me why I would not even consider supporting the Republicans in this years midterms. There were so many issues to give him, but the fact that I feel the federal government failed the citizens of my hometown probably trumps them all. We got relief to the Tsunami victims in Bander Aceh, in 2004, faster than relief got to New Orleans in 2005. I appreciate the importance of a good foreign relations stance, but that seems a bit much.

There are concerns about the initial response. Did Mayor Nagin properly assess and react to the situation, before landfall? From the outside, I would say probably not. Did Governor Blanco, react ideally to the situation? Probably not. These two officials have made mistakes since, as well. That in no way means that the federal government, and the President himself do not bear a significant amount of blame for what happened here.

A political lackey, Michael Brown, who was ignored when he requested support, staffed FEMA. President Bush was to busy relaxing in Crawford to pay attention. Vice President Cheney was on a hunting trip when this was going on. In regard to the last two, didn't Cheney shoot someone in the face the last time he went on a hunting trip? When that man picks up a gun, we should know that nothing good is going to come of it. And Bush going to Crawford spells national disaster. Heck, I'm beginning to think that Bush leaving Crawford spells national disaster.

It is the responsibility of the executive branch to support the citizens of this country. For the Republicans to say this reconstruction costs significantly more than the World Trade Center disaster is comparing apples and oranges. Was 80% of Manhattan destroyed? Not even close. Geographically the September 11th disaster covered 16 square blocks. The Katrina disaster covered 90,000 square miles. Some members of the Administration have stated that the recovery effort was bogged down because bureaucracy at the local level is getting in the way. Well, as I see it the catastrophe involved 3 different states directly and numerous other states because of the resettling of residents. Now, tell me again how it is that the federal government thinks this is an issue of a single state and its bureaucracy.

I will try and give you some numbers to figure out where most of the allocated Katrina recovery funds are; but for now I wanted to put this down on paper. By the way, before I get to actually post this, the bill for what we are doing in Iraq might be upwards of 315 billion dollars, and they don't even like us.

I have a feeling that if we sent federal troops with that budget into New Orleans, people might very well greet us with flowers and candy. Personally, I'd rather some red beans and Gumbo. Take some of that money from Iraq, and rebuild the Lower Ninth, or at least give those people the trailers they've been waiting for.

This was all brought about by a conversation I had with my brother in law. He wanted to know anything that caused me to dislike Bush so much. There are so many reasons, but the absolute failure of the Bush administration to protect the Gulf Coast or even to properly support those trying to rebuild it. I continue to wonder if New Orleans has truly become the City that Bush Forgot.