Investigate and punish
Are we safer now, four years after Sept. 11? Not a bit. In fact, with the inept administration in charge, we are very much at risk. The handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina proves the point. With an inept leader appointing incompetent people like Mike Brown, what protection do we all have? We must investigate and punish this bumbling administration. Only an independent commission can do this job. We are sick of spin and lies. Let's get to the truth now.
-- Dorothy Chamberlin
On Sept. 8, President Bush suspended application of the federal law governing workers' pay on federal contracts in the Hurricane Katrina-damaged areas of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.
The Davis-Bacon Act, passed in 1931 during the Great Depression, sets a minimum pay scale for workers on federal contracts by requiring contractors to pay the prevailing or average pay in the region. Suspension of the act will allow contractors to pay lower wages. The prevailing wage for construction labor in those areas is about $9 per hour, according to the Department of Labor.
But that is fine with Bush, since recent headlines proclaim that firms with Bush ties are landing Katrina rebuilding deals. Bush cronies will be enriched, and the people of those states will become slave labor.
I wonder if he'll rescind child labor laws next. That would further drive down the South's outrageous "high labor costs." Compassionate conservatism in action.
-- Steve Plutt
Katrina washed up lots of accusations. Certainly, kindness and sacrifice have also begun to flood the area, but many victims blamed America not only for being slow to respond but being guilty of oppression, which has tended to keep poor folks in that dangerous bowl by the ocean.
Historically, sometimes selfish rulers have managed to hold down struggling people. America doesn't do that. Laws were passed. Everybody can make advantageous choices. But it hasn't helped much. That's because no amount of politicking, counseling, education, marches, grants or quotas can stop people from thinking, acting and behaving poor. It's an endless, self-defeating cycle which plagues the Earth.
Wise people know that if you don't learn, read, work, save, invest, practice fidelity and avoid vices, you're going to be poor, and so are your children and grandchildren, probably forever. So now, some are shaking their fists at the government, which is all the rest of us, and demanding, "Why didn't you give me my gift sooner?"
And a few too many Americans are swallowing it, as though we think anybody can launch an army in one day, for free. Many, many gifts and opportunities which could have helped families over the past three decades escape lower New Orleans have surely been squandered. If that area is to rebuild, let's hope it's on a higher plane.
-- Jim Inman
Incompetence is inexcusable
Since Hurricane Katrina hit, I have witnessed both the best and worst in people. Most people's hearts have been moved to help out those in need along the Gulf Coast. But I have also heard people grumbling about "the blame game," and the worst comment I have heard is: "Who cares? It's just a bunch of ni****s."
The federal response to this situation leaves me feeling as if government has taken the same position. It hurts me deeply to think that anyone could feel that way. And it hurts me more to think that our government has allowed so many to die. How could the head of FEMA not know that there were thousands of people holed up at the Superdome? Either he is completely out of it (and that is so scary) or he is a liar.
Incompetence at the top levels of government is inexcusable. Our president demonstrated callous stupidity when he failed to immediately recognize the seriousness of the situation and take charge. We cannot afford to have leaders who are so inept. I work for a corporation (LexisNexis), and if our CEO were as clueless, he would be fired on the spot.
We need to investigate this fiasco/tragedy with a bipartisan and independent commission. We need to demand of our leaders a level of commitment and professionalism that I have not seen in the last 11 days. I never thought I would say this, but THANK GOD FOR THE MEDIA! Without the media, thousands more might be dead. Maybe the media should run the government.
-- Margaret Allen
Gilligan for President
Wow. So it's all Bush's fault for the failures of not only the federal government's response to Katrina, but the lame response local and state government made to the disaster. Wow, he really does get around, I guess. Of course, it could be that the Indy will find fault with Bush for anything he does, so I'm not so sure the analysis was "fair and balanced." Seems to me that the Indy could have saved a lot of space last week by printing in big bold letters, "Bush Kills Thousands," and leaving it at that. All the rest was fluff to tug our heartstrings.
To my mind, this disaster reminds me of an episode of "Gilligan's Island." We all remember the basic plot of the majority of episodes. The Professor comes up with some brilliant way (often using coconuts) to get them off the island. They go about preparing for the plan with Gilligan in some key position. When the time comes to implement the plan, Gilligan screws up, and they are once again stuck on the island.
Sounds a bit like how we look to government to save us when we have some sort of crisis. The scientists tell us of one manner of problem or another, we set up our plans with government at the center and after it all falls apart, who dropped the ball? Government. And what happens for the next crisis? We put those same idiots in charge of the most important parts of the plan and we get screwed again. Sure, we have "investigations," but in the end they are all as effective as smacking Gilligan with the Skipper's hat.
When will we learn that politicians will make decisions based upon political reasoning? They kiss the butts that get them the most votes and pander to the people with the money. The well-being of people is not their main concern, no matter the letter after their name.
Trusting such bozos with the lives of a handful of stranded castaways makes for lame television. Trusting them with the lives of millions is a recipe for tragedy.
-- Scott Graves
Republicans are shouting that "liberals" should not be making a political issue over the disaster in New Orleans. They want the world to ignore the fact that it was Republican politics that caused this tragedy.
President Bill Clinton authorized a massive bill to build up the very levees that broke. But even though FEMA warned in 2001 that this very scenario was one of the most likely disasters that could strike the country, Bush blocked that project by cutting 80 percent of its budget. His rationale was that someone had to pay for his massive tax cuts to the richest people in the country.
Those were his priorities, and we are not about to let him -- or his cult-like followers -- off the hook now.
-- Thomas McCullock
Editor's note: We were inundated with letters to the editor regarding the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but unfortunately cannot print them all. Additional letters can be read online at csindy.com.
Smoke and fire
My son will be 18 in October. He is a senior in high school who desperately wants to go to college. His goal, since he has been able to hold a pencil, is to be an animator. Unfortunately, like many Americans, we cannot afford to send him to college. He would have to work and struggle, obtain grants and loans.
He has been talking to an Army recruiter. Everyone knows that recruiters always lie ... in peacetime. Now that we are at war, they are desperate to get recruits. Recruiters are blowing any kind of smoke at these kids that they want to hear. It is very painful to me that my son will listen to and trust an Army recruiter more that he will his own mother.
It is unfathomable to me that this war, based upon lies, is still going on and that there is no end in sight. George Bush lied to the American people. He lied to the leaders of other countries. How is it that so many people are still supporting him?
There is nothing glorious or glamorous about this war. There is nothing noble about what is happening in Iraq. George Bush has two young daughters. Why is it that they are not enlisting to go fight in Iraq?
So many American people have been brainwashed to believe that "we have to fight them over there so that we don't have to fight them over here." That is complete B.S.!
As for my son, I must support him in his decision, though I don't like it. Until the day that his signature goes on that wretched piece of paper, I will try to talk him out of it. If he is sent to Iraq, I will pray for him constantly and if he dies for a lie, I will be angry. There is nothing that any government official can say that would make me believe otherwise.
-- Cecile Ann Avery-Pigman
Servant of the people
Wow! I am impressed by the speed with which George W. Bush can nominate John Roberts for the Chief Justice position of the Supreme Court. Chief Justice Rehnquist is barely in his coffin, not even in the ground, and Bush has the ability to come to a reasoned and farsighted selection for his replacement.
Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to be able to move quite this quickly when it comes to the health and welfare of hundreds of thousands of the citizens that he is supposed to be serving.
I'm not holding my breath, waiting for him to lead our nation out of one of the worst natural disasters we have ever faced. Many will die because of lack of forethought (prevention) and the tardy response of our elected leaders to provide timely and appropriate aid.
Remember, this is the man who sold the Iraq war on lies and fear. I pray that our representatives and senators step back a few months to consider what this appointment could cost their constituents. Bush has proven he is not trustworthy to place the needs of his country above his personal interests and beliefs.
Bush is our elected president. He is supposed to be a servant of the people. He has acted in a cavalier and offensive manner to Cindy Sheehan and all the families of the brave military men and women who are serving our nation, no matter where their assignment has placed them. It is our duty as citizens to demand and censure our elected leaders when they do not act in the best interests of the entire country.
-- Pamela Koscumb
Stop the clock
I agree with Sept. 8 Letter to the Editor writer Tom Pedigo that Pastor Ted Haggard should run for office. (Maybe "pedigo" means "stopped clock" in some primordial language.) I would love for Ted to bring his fine Christian values to local government; he might even start a (shhhhh!) revolution.
We would care for our neighbors, be they white or black, gay or straight, legal or illegal. We can help the poor with a tithe on the rich. We'll feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and care for the health of our community's children. And give them all the best schools money can buy. I can think of so many other fine goals of government that are right in line with the generosity of Christians everywhere.
But somehow, I think it's all just talk. Ted's flock would be aghast. He would be called a communist and worse by his conservative colleagues. And I doubt he could handle the scrutiny of matching his actions with his words. That's the hypocrisy that Tom Pedigo should be worried about.
-- Bud Gordon