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Old 09-08-2005, 06:21 PM
titantoo titantoo is offline
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Default NYTimes Letters

September 8, 2005
Our Moral Culture Was Breached, Too (5 Letters)

To the Editor:
David Brooks, in "The Bursting Point" (column, Sept. 4), shed further light on the most awe-inspiring blind spot of the American right. Looking for bright spots in a dark time, he writes that the "moral culture" is strong.
Our current moral culture, as I understand the term, includes the elevation of wealth and commerce over all other considerations; the open neglect of the disadvantaged; the redefinition of American power away from moral authority and toward military might; the worship of American exceptionalism; and the threat of evangelical totalitarianism as social policy.
Our moral culture has never been weaker, nor have our leaders ever had less right to claim the moral high ground. The levees have broken in more ways than one.
Phil Wagar
Bellbrook, Ohio, Sept. 4, 2005
• To the Editor:
What can David Brooks be thinking when he writes that the country's "moral culture" is strong?
This is a country that re-elected a president who launched an unprovoked attack on Iraq that has taken the lives of more than 1,800 of our troops and thousands of Iraqis; that acquiesces in tax cuts for the wealthy that only worsen the great gap between rich and poor; that tolerates capital punishment despite evidence that the wrong person is sometimes executed; that accepts gun controls so weak that the United States surpasses all other advanced countries in death by firearms.
If this shameful state of affairs is what a strong moral culture produces, I would hate to see the fruits of a weak one.
John Henry
New York, Sept. 5, 2005
• To the Editor:
I hope that David Brooks is right: that the accumulation of administration failures has finally reached the point where the country will demand a shift in the way things are.
Mr. Brooks cites a "strong" moral culture. But isn't it this moral culture that supported the abandonment of thousands of poor Americans? Isn't it this moral culture that permitted official ignorance of suffering Americans in the New Orleans Superdome even when images of that suffering were plastered over TV screens worldwide?
Isn't it this moral culture that knows only what it wants to know, and isn't it this moral culture that has forgotten the first, best lesson about loving our neighbor?
Maybe the moral culture is strong, but it is utterly off track.
Joyce Adams
Portland, Ore., Sept. 4, 2005
• To the Editor:
It should come as no surprise that after years of listening to people rail against big government and advocating tax cuts to "starve the beast," we find resources from our federal and local governments unavailable when we need them.
It should be clear that calamities as big as Katrina are bound to happen from time to time. Just as our government finances a military for the protection of us all against foreign adversaries, it must also have the resources to protect all of us from domestic disasters. This requires advanced planning and money in the form of taxes.
Shame on us if we don't immediately de-pork our domestic spending, stop giving tax breaks to the wealthy, start working diligently on energy conservation, and bring back some of our resources from Iraq so that we can work on the home front.
Gerald O. Franklin
Redding, Conn., Sept. 5, 2005
• To the Editor:
A prominent conservative strategist, Grover Norquist, once said his goal was to shrink government to a size so that it could be drowned in a bathtub. Instead, New Orleans was flooded when its levees, starved of federal maintenance money, gave way.
The arguments for the president's tax cuts for the wealthy and billions in handouts to favored industries now lie in tatters. David Brooks (column, Sept. 4) says we've reached a political "bursting point." The political party that can seize the moment to offer a positive vision for effective, accountable government will prevail in the next round of elections.
Dan Seligman
Takoma Park, Md., Sept. 4, 2005

September 8, 2005
Maybe It Is Time to Fix Blame (8 Letters)

To the Editor:
Re "It's Not a 'Blame Game' " (editorial, Sept. 7):
As we approach the fourth anniversary of 9/11, I find it frightening that the handling of critical events like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina by the Bush administration is so botched that we need investigative commissions.
In a time of danger from terrorists, we should add porous borders, underprotected ports and transportation networks, and the appointment of incompetent cronies as heads of agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the list of botched items.
The Bush administration's performance record has imperiled my country, not made it safer.
Michael A. Keane
South Orange, N.J., Sept. 7, 2005
• To the Editor:
It's not surprising that President Bush (or any politician) would seek to fill slots in federal agencies with friends or cronies. But I am surprised that Michael D. Brown was chosen as the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Surely the president has some cronies with actual experience in emergency management.
I was also surprised to learn that "small government" extends to homeland security. This is counter to President Bush's campaign rhetoric emphasizing that he would keep us safe and our country strong.
"Brownie" should be removed from his position, and the president must make all necessary changes to ensure that his stated commitment to our country's safety and security is borne out through his (and his subordinates') actions.
Lori Burrington
Columbus, Ohio, Sept. 7, 2005
• To the Editor:
Your editorial raises issues that must be aggressively pursued as time goes on and that must not wait for any commission report.
We had better not let this "spin-centered" administration try to shift blame to New Orleans or Louisiana for the pathetic first response to Katrina. No city or state has the resources to anticipate, plan for and remedy a disaster of this magnitude. This is why we have FEMA.
If the administration tries to excuse itself by saying that somehow someone did not ask the right agency, in the right way, at the right time for federal action, it is again showing a significant failure of planning and operational competence in responding to a crisis situation.
True leaders never blame the foot soldiers for failed operations.
Jeffrey Hallett
Delray Beach, Fla., Sept. 7, 2005
• To the Editor:
When discussing Hurricane Katrina, President Bush suggested that he doesn't want to play the blame game. It isn't a blame game; it's a responsibility game, and those who were responsible for the failures should face the consequences.
The idea of responsibility seems to be lost on the administration. No one was held responsible for the intelligence failures of 9/11; no one was held responsible for the lack of planning in postwar Iraq; and no one high up was held responsible for Abu Ghraib.
Let us hope that this trend does not continue in the aftermath of Katrina.
Brian Kiviat
Annandale, Va., Sept. 7, 2005
• To the Editor:
I would hope that this administration understands that this is not a game. Another hurricane could hit this country next week or next month. A terrorist attack could take place tomorrow.
If any of these possible scenarios were to occur in your city, ask yourself, "Do you really want Michael Brown as FEMA director?"
Robyn White
Richmond, Va., Sept. 7, 2005
• To the Editor:
For an independent investigative commission to be successful, it needs not only subpoena power but also power to administer oaths and affirmations, the authority to examine witnesses in public or private hearings, and adequate financing.
There must also be a commitment of full cooperation from every official and employee at every level of government.
L. E. Feinberg
New York, Sept. 7, 2005
• To the Editor:
Re "After Failures, Officials Play Blame Game" (front page, Sept. 5):
The human costs of Bush administration policies are clear after Cindy Sheehan's courageous protest and a week of horrifying images from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.
This president has accelerated the 20-year trend of gutting vital functions of the federal government by underfinancing programs, like the levees that failed to protect New Orleans, and mismanaging agencies like FEMA.
His war in Iraq has damaged, perhaps irreparably, state National Guard units. This and other Republican administrations have stranded a growing number of poor without adequate support.
The media must begin a public debate about the role of the federal government in preparing for future catastrophes and improving the daily lives of the neediest Americans. Perhaps Congress can respond to the public outcry by summoning the will to hold hearings that examine the costs of restoring necessary resources to federal agencies.
Robert A. Miles
Hamden, Conn., Sept. 5, 2005
• To the Editor:
While touring the Astrodome in Texas, which is being used as a relocation site, Barbara Bush, the president's mother, made a comment that rivals "Let them eat cake" in its arrogant and clueless insensitivity.
"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway," she said, "so this is working very well for them" (news article, Sept. 7).
The remark is a revealing insight into the sort of aristocratic and detached "family values" held by the Bush family. It helps explain the gut-level sympathy that seemed missing in the president's response to a catastrophe that fell hardest on our most vulnerable citizens.
Janice Gewirtz
Mountain Lakes, N.J., Sept. 7, 2005
"Human nature will only find itself when it finally realizes that to be human it has to cease to be beastly or brutal." (Mohandas Gandhi, In Search of the Supreme)
"I learned that familiar paths traced in the dusk of summer evenings may lead as well to prisons as to innocent, untroubled sleep." (Albert Camus, The Stranger)
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Old 09-09-2005, 10:04 PM
chinikfb chinikfb is offline
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Peace...titanoo...you continue to post articles that keep it real.....Blessings...
Old 09-12-2005, 11:24 AM
titantoo titantoo is offline
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Default More Lessons From the Storm (4 Letters)

September 12, 2005
More Lessons From the Storm (4 Letters)

To the Editor:
As Bob Herbert points out in "No Strangers to the Blues" (column, Sept. 8), poverty in New Orleans was rampant before the city was struck by Hurricane Katrina. And as this tragedy unfolded, the incompetence, ineptitude and corruption of the Bush administration have been clearly and visibly illustrated as the nation witnessed incredible suffering by those already neglected.
What is most appalling to me, however, is the apparent indifference and ignorance of much of the public of the extent to which poverty does exist in America.
Those of us with more than moderate means must begin to be aware of the depth of despair that those with little means live by. By doing so, we may begin to appreciate the wealth in our own lives.
The fact that it apparently takes the suffering, seen on live television, of those left behind in Katrina's aftermath to make us begin to realize this is the saddest fact of all.
Cindy L. Harden
Brooklyn, Sept. 8, 2005
• To the Editor:
Re "Magic Marker Strategy" (column, Sept. 6):
John Tierney lays the blame on the local officials and the victims themselves for not successfully evacuating New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina destroyed the area. Worse, he reduces the tragedy to simplistic notion that a lot could have been avoided had the officials presented New Orleans with Magic Markers (so that people who didn't evacuate could write their Social Security numbers on their own bodies for later identification) and mind games. It's not a fair suggestion, and it is completely heartless.
The problem is not the local officials, not the rescuers, not anybody in the front lines of this disaster, as everybody tried to do their best.
What is clear is that with their best efforts and spirits put forward, there were clearly no resources or means to do so.
The question is: would there have been financing to buy even Magic Markers?

Richard Agnes
Bronx, Sept. 6, 2005
• To the Editor:
John Tierney makes some solid points about the failure of local government in New Orleans and the competent planners of the Hampton Roads region in Virginia.
There are limits to what local government can do (as he recognizes in his criticism of Washington), and we need look no further than the Preamble to the Constitution to discover two fundamental roles of the federal government: "insure domestic tranquillity" and "provide for the common defense" (for example, against natural disasters).
For five days, the federal government did neither. I doubt that even the well-prepared people of Hampton Roads would find that fact acceptable or reassuring.
The people of New Orleans and Louisiana will vote on the performance of their officials. We will all vote on performance of the federal government.

Stephen Feiner
Sea Cliff, N.Y., Sept. 6, 2005
• To the Editor:
John Tierney no doubt has nice partisan reasons for minimizing federal responsibility for the botched response to the calamity in New Orleans. But does he believe that Washington has no obligation to identify the gap between the capacities of local emergency response agencies and what will be required in case of a catastrophe affecting the entire nation? And would he apply his doctrine of strong local autonomy to the threat of terrorism as well?
Stephen Holmes
New York, Sept. 6, 2005
The writer is a professor at N.Y.U. School of Law.
"Human nature will only find itself when it finally realizes that to be human it has to cease to be beastly or brutal." (Mohandas Gandhi, In Search of the Supreme)
"I learned that familiar paths traced in the dusk of summer evenings may lead as well to prisons as to innocent, untroubled sleep." (Albert Camus, The Stranger)
Old 09-17-2005, 07:22 AM
titantoo titantoo is offline
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Default Bush in New Orleans: The Speech, and the Future (11 Letters)

September 17, 2005
Bush in New Orleans: The Speech, and the Future (11 Letters)

To the Editor:
Re "Bush Pledges Federal Role in Rebuilding Gulf Coast" (front page, Sept. 16):
As one who has frequently not appreciated the policies of George W. Bush's administration, I was impressed by his address to the country on Thursday night from New Orleans.
He set a very appropriate tone of compassion and responsibility and showed a determination to find solutions to the problems created by Hurricane Katrina or uncovered by it.
I don't think that I've ever heard him deliver a speech of such significant substance.
I applaud the stance he took and feel hopeful that we might embark on a new era marked by greater cooperation for the common good among all our citizens.
I am hopeful that President Bush has had an epiphany concerning how to bring us together and that he will continue to demonstrate the kind of leadership he seemed to demonstrate on Thursday night.
May all of us realize how interconnected we are to one another and to our environment and strive to discover the wisdom that is available to us when we listen to one another.
Jim Wells
Hillsborough, N.C., Sept. 16, 2005
• To the Editor:
The president's speech on Thursday night was a transparent effort to redeem himself in the eyes of all caring Americans, who were shocked at his tardy and disorganized response to Katrina.
Yet what disturbs me most is the absence of fiscal responsibility.
Apparently, he plans to do what he does best: bequeath the cost to posterity. Enough is enough!
Congress has the power of the purse and should use it to repeal the Bush tax cuts and progressively raise taxes. Cutting taxes, as a tool to stimulate economic growth, is a deceitful notion unless such reductions in revenue are accompanied by cuts in spending.
The national outcry for government to help alleviate suffering and foster recovery makes a mockery of the premise that government itself is a problem and that we should "starve the beast."
This government is ours, and this disaster occurred in our time. It is our responsibility to shoulder the burdens that must now be borne.
Neal Monroe Adams
Brookfield, Conn., Sept. 16, 2005
• To the Editor:
I can't help but feel uneasy after watching President Bush's address to the country.
I pray that I'm wrong, but if past performance is any guide, I fear that we will see this president standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier in the Gulf sometime soon proclaiming "Mission Accomplished."
Let's hope that his standard for mission accomplished differs this time.
Josh Swanson
Fargo, N.D., Sept. 16, 2005
• To the Editor:
Re "Mr. Bush in New Orleans" (editorial, Sept. 16):
In the aftermath of Katrina, Americans, from individuals to restaurants to businesses, have spontaneously pledged large amounts of money for the victims. Does this outpouring not suggest that Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes for reconstruction?
Do our leaders - on both sides of the aisle - have the courage to be responsible? Instead, they have preferred the politics of cowardly childishness: deny the unpleasant reality when it offends your easy, ideological convictions.
Philip Tedesco
Chicago, Sept. 16, 2005
• To the Editor:
You say (editorial, Sept. 16) that President Bush's speech on rebuilding New Orleans showed that he understands "the demands of leadership to come."
Leadership is not making a good speech two weeks after an event when the spinmeisters and speechwriters have written the words and picked a nice backdrop. Leadership is acting in advance to prevent problems and reacting quickly and decisively if they occur.
Just as after 9/11, Mr. Bush fumbled before the event and then immediately afterward. It was not until his communications people stepped in that he demonstrated leadership.
Kenneth T. Monteiro
New York, Sept. 16, 2005
• To the Editor:
Perhaps the rebuilding of the hurricane-ravaged areas of our country must begin not with a "promise to give up on any more of the Republican Party's cherished tax cuts" (editorial, Sept. 16) - cuts that both stimulate the economy and produce the very jobs that will be needed in that region if it is to recover - but with a promise by both parties to give up the pork that weighs down so much Congressional legislation and sticks in the throat of all Americans.
A stroke of the pen taken to any number of bills in Congress would suddenly free up billions of dollars that could immediately be used to rebuild Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
It is far simpler to turn up the class-warfare rhetoric by repeating the mantra of "no more tax cuts for the wealthy" than to suggest the far more "obvious" step of trimming unnecessary fat.
Donna Steinfeld
Chappaqua, N.Y., Sept. 16, 2005
• To the Editor:
The speed with which President Bush responded to his own political disaster stands in stark contrast to the snail-like response of his administration to the suffering of many thousands of victims of Katrina.
Hugging trips to New Orleans and the Gulf, promises of big spending (editorial, Sept. 16) and a speech at a national prayer service at the National Cathedral on Friday follow hard upon a precipitous drop in his poll numbers.
The priority couldn't be clearer.
Laura Conte
Vestal, N.Y., Sept. 16, 2005
• To the Editor:
Re "G.O.P. Split Over Big Plans for Storm Spending" (front page, Sept. 16):
It is interesting to read statements from the "fiscal conservatives":
"We must not let Katrina break the bank for our children and grandchildren" and "Throwing more and more money without accountability at this is not going to solve the problem."
Are they really speaking about Hurricane Katrina, or the war in Iraq?
Laurence Singer
Flushing, Queens, Sept. 16, 2005
• To the Editor:
A Sept. 15 news article said Karl Rove had reportedly been put in charge of the reconstruction effort in the Gulf Coast.
President Bush, by putting a political operative in charge, makes it clear that his priority is his political viability rather than real assistance to the people of the Gulf Coast.
This highlights his insensitivity to the important issues of destruction, loss, race and poverty.
Victoria Wong
Oakland, Calif., Sept. 15, 2005
• To the Editor:
You report that some Republicans are concerned that the cost of rebuilding New Orleans could approach $200 billion. Here's an idea to rebuild it at a much lower cost to the taxpayers.
The federal government would acquire the land that is below sea level, using the Supreme Court ruling on eminent domain. The Army Corps of Engineers would dredge canals to replace major streets, using the dredged soil to raise the remaining land 10 feet above sea level.
A portion of this raised land would be auctioned off to individuals or corporations to build luxury buildings. A part of the purchase price would be a large conveyance tax, $250,000 per lot. This tax would be used to subsidize new housing for the displaced poor.
This solution would prevent future floods without depending on levees at a much lower cost to the national debt.
Gerald Falbel
Stamford, Conn., Sept. 16, 2005
• To the Editor:
On Thursday night, President Bush gave an amazing campaign speech, promising housing, health care and jobs. The problem is, he is already president.
Todd Eddy
Normal, Ill., Sept. 16, 2005
"Human nature will only find itself when it finally realizes that to be human it has to cease to be beastly or brutal." (Mohandas Gandhi, In Search of the Supreme)
"I learned that familiar paths traced in the dusk of summer evenings may lead as well to prisons as to innocent, untroubled sleep." (Albert Camus, The Stranger)


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