Sunday, September 04, 2005

Some Normalcy

I've decided I'm overdue for a "normal" post. But everytime I do anything "normal" these days I can't help but think about all those people who can't do even the simplest "normal" things.

However, in keeping with my plan to offer a post about life in general - here's the weekend...

Greg and I had dinner with Terry Friday night. It's always good to spend time with him. He's so funny.

Saturday morning is Farmer's Market day in Hutchinson. Greg and I were on the way to Roy's for some barbecue and decided to stop in.

I picked up some Sand Hill Plum jelly. Sand Hill Plums are a kind of fruit I'd never heard of until I moved to Kansas. I went picking them once with Teresa and she made jelly. I haven't opened what I got at the farmer's market, but I'm betting it's quite delicious. Probably half a dozen were selling it. I picked some arbitarily. We'll see if I become loyal to this farmer's product.

I snapped a pic of Mike working hard at Roy's. They have the best barbecue I've ever eaten, and I've eaten some barbecue.

Tonight, Greg's girlfriend, Mia and his brother, Steve, were in Hutchinson. We all went to Skaets - one of our favorite local spots.

In between I've worked on my house. My dining room is now officially red. Very red. I did the woodwork in there and tomorrow will touch up the ceiling where I slopped paint and it will be done. I also need to hang the curtains.

I got the curtains in the living room done with the valance today and they look nice. I also need to do the ones in my office.

Some days I feel like I'm gaining on the house, and some days I feel like it has its way with me. Today I feel like I'm gaining. It could just be an illusion.

Sig Line

"The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality." Dante Alighieri

Rowing the Boat

Bush demonstrated numerous times before the first election that he did not have compassion. He was elected the second time after having demonstrated that further.

When we elect someone who has shown they have no compassion, we cannot expect them to suddenly be compassionate. And, to his credit, he never claimed that was one of the qualities he brought to the table.

Letting people sit in the hot sun for days without food or water is just an example of what happens when someone is not compassionate, and surrounds themselves with others who share their views - people who are busy shoe shopping, for example, while this is going on. Not to be confused with people who are playing guitar.

It could have been dozens of other circumstances - this time it just manifested itself as a natural disaster. Knowing that the Bush administration would not demonstrate compassion during such an emergency was obvious from past responses.

So, if A is true, and B is true, then C must be true.
A = the man does not have compassion
B = people vote for the man when this is obvious
C = people do not think this is an important quality

I'm certain everyone who voted for Bush, or chose not to vote thereby casting their vote for him by concession, had multiple reasons for doing so, and this was probably not something they considered. But, therein lies the rub. You cannot elect someone who demonstrates they lack compassion and expect something different from them.

For most liberals, compassion for our fellow man is a HUGE issue. I'm not suggesting it's something conservative individuals never care about, but obviously, it's not considered in the voting booth, or is very far down on the list, and that leads to where we are today.

It's hard for me to believe that a majority of people in the US wanted someone in the white house who thinks this is an appropriate reaction to a disaster - to cut short a vacation and do a cursory fly over on the way back to DC - and leave people without basic necessities for days. And, yet, the fact remains, that he won the election. And, although this is extreme, it's just an example of what can be expected from an administration that is not guided by compassion.

I'm not blaming Bush for the hurricane, although I've seen some people do that. Please, no president is that powerful. Mother Nature will always win out. As I saw on someone's blog the other day, "I'm a liberal but not a loon." (I apologize to the person who coined that phrase as I don't recall where I saw it - but it's a good one.)

I'm blaming the "administration" for the handling of it - pre and post - and that means the man at the top. Now they're dropping in supplies, which they've been saying couldn't be done for various reasons.

When you talk about an administration, the buck stops somewhere, and that's with Bush. And, frankly, the people who have mismanaged this - from Chertoff to FEMA to whoever - do report to Bush. It *is* his responsibility. If the president says, "I don't care what you have to do - get food and water to those people at the Convention Center," it happens. It didn't happen.

Apparently Chertoff wants us to believe he was unaware people were *at* the convention center until Thursday. Please, how stupid do you think we are? Or are you really that stupid?

I do not believe that in order to be compassionate you must hate Bush. But, I don't see how a person could vote for him in good conscience - or choose not to vote at all - knowing he has no interest in compassion for fellow human beings. He has not presented himself in another fashion. He has been very upfront about who he is. He has never pretended otherwise. He is just being the same person he was 10 years ago, five years ago and two years ago. But I'm frightened by the fact that more than half of the US citizens agree that is acceptable and voted him into office, or chose not to vote giving their silent approval of whoever was elected.

I don't hate the man - but I hate his policies. I want less war. I want more concern for humans around the globe - including here. I want us to focus on critical issues instead of smokescreen issues, although that's not a Bush thing - that's a politics thing.

As for the hurricane, of course I had no idea how it was going to happen - and, unfortunately, neither did weather forecasters. One of the first posts I wrote about the hurricane was that weather forecasters need to either get it right, or stop pretending they know.

Many people didn't evacuate in Mississippi because they didn't think it was severe enough - and they weren't told to until much later. They've been told over and over to evacuate and nothing happens. You can only expect people to move when you say it's going to be the worst storm ever so many times.

That doesn't make it "their fault," despite was FEMA Dir. Brown says. If he had the all-knowing power to see that it was going to be horrible, he should have helped evacuate people in advance.

The money designated for the leeves was federal money for the Corp of Engineers. Almost all bridges and levees are repaired with Federal money - it's on an almost "rotating" basis to keep them all in good repair. That line item was zeroed out three years ago for the war effort.

There was a mock disaster that included this very situation of New Orleans being hit with a hurricane and flooded planned two years ago and practiced last year. The leeves could stand a Category 3, but in the practice they knew that a Category 4 could flood the city. So, FEMA should have had some inkling of the potential difficulties.

I grew up near where the Ohio and Mississippi rivers run together, inbetween the TVA and the Land between the Lakes area, so the idea of massive amounts of water is something that I'm familiar with. Thank goodness, I've never been flooded out and I've never had to deal with anything like this, but the concept of it is a familiar one to people who live there. It's as if the officials who are supposed to know what to do, had no clue how to even start. That is unacceptable. And for the director of FEMA to then blame the victims is inexcuseable.

I hold the man at the top accountable for what his people do. Chertoff is his guy. Brown is his guy. I think their attitudes are a reflection of an administration that continually demonstrates a lack of compassion toward human beings. Obviously, the whole thing should have been turned over to General Honore on day 1 and everyone else should have gotten out of his way. He and the mayor have emerged as my favorite characters. I guess this is what it takes to get a politician to really speak his mind.

Beyond this disaster, I'm very concerned that as a society, we have tacitly given approval for this situation by the election of a man who does not demonstrate compassion. To me, that is a larger issue than this immediate situation, for it tells of a continual decline.

I don't need everyone to agree with my politics, which, frankly are an odd mismash of liberal and conservative views, so it would be hard for anyone to agree completely. For many years I was a registered independent. I've also been a registered Republican but left when it became a "religion" instead of a political party. I finally went democrat because I couldn't participate in the primary system as an independent. And, democrats more closely align with my views of what is important in this political party climate that is morally driven.

For me, it's moral to not bomb countries without provocation, to care for the sick and elderly, to give a hand up to those who need it, to help people in disasters, etc. etc. etc. Those are things I find either at the very bottom, or off, of the Republican Party List of priorities from their actions. And actions are what always tell the real story - not words. The last few days we've seen lots of words and very little positive action. How it is "moral" to be killing people in other countries, and letting our own die in the streets, I don't know. I don't agree.

I used to not see there was a divide along party lines with regard to compassion, but that has changed in the last few years.

Party lines used to be about a difference of philosophy in how goals should be achieved. Fine. I may not agree, but I can see how you and me and the guy down the street might come up with different approaches to a problem. They'll all work, but they get to the end differently. I may still think my way is the best, but I'll get in your boat and help row if that's the decision we make.

But party lines now are drawn on very subjective moral and emotional issues. And compassion seems to be something that is extended to those "like me" and not the world at large in the Republican party. Obviously - not every Republican is that way - there are republicans I vote for in every election. But, as a whole, that party has proclaimed itself as a moral compass for the world at large. And, if you want to be "like me" that's fine - if you don't, then I have no reason to extend any compassion to you. Compassion is no longer a given, as it once was.

It scares me that I live in a society where I see more than half of the voters not care about compassion for their fellow humans enough that it's a guiding force at the voting booth. The handling of this situation by the administration is just another example of what was obvious before the election - there is no compassion. For me, this is a huge issue that goes beyond the immediate crisis, because it is indicative of the kind of society we want to be.

I refuse to help row that boat. And I'm going to overturn it if I can. The difference is that I'd try to save the people in the water, not just leave them to drown.