Disaster-dependent no more

For President Bush, the disaster that is Hurricane Katrina puts “paid” to the idea that his administration is disaster-dependent.

Four years ago, his failing presidency was saved by the 9/11 WTC disaster. With his neo-conservative ideologues, a carefully orchestrated Hollywood-like production of false leadership and patriotism was fashioned, using the fear and anger of the people.

Then followed a campaign of lies and distortions to advance a foreign policy of revitalized U.S. imperialism under the guise of fighting terrorism to protect the homeland. The War on Terrorism began.

At the same time he and his ideologues set about dismantling our government “of the people, by the people and for the people” and replacing it with one “of the wealthy, by the wealthy and for the wealthy.”

Corporations were freed of restrictions on their natural greed. Globalization and the “free (not fair) market” became the 11th and 12th Commandments.

On Aug. 29 another disaster struck our country and President Bush learned that not all disasters are the same. The nation and the world discovered that the government the president has built since 9/11/2001 was unable and/or unwilling to respond with the necessary leadership and care. The government that was capable and willing to respond to the desires of the wealthy and corporate classes was ideologically and functionally unable to respond to the desperate needs of its broad citizenry.

Further trouble for the Bush government was that there were no outside figures (Osama, Saddam, liberals, France, a “few bad apples”) to blame. All fingers pointed inward.

Instead of the “mission accomplished” flight suit costume, today national and world opinion has cloaked Bush in a well-deserved mantle of shame and criminal negligence against humanity.

A positive aftermath of Hurricane Katrina may well be: Impeach Bush — an idea whose time has come.

Bill Appelhans

Chicago IL

Caring, not killing

For eight years during the 1970s my daughter Karen lived in the French Quarter of New Orleans. I have visited those beautiful streets many times and know the area well.

My daughter and I are greatly disturbed to hear of the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina — which was just waiting to happen because the area has been 10 feet below sea level. In 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency ranked a hurricane strike in New Orleans among the three most likely catastrophes facing the U.S. In spite of this, the Bush White House cut funding for the Army Corps of Engineers, which would have improved the levees.

We both agree that if all the money, human resources and equipment sent to Iraq were used in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, homeland security would be greatly improved — caring not killing.

June Krebs

Via fax

Police and protest

It was on the corner of Broadway and 7th Street in Los Angeles where I experienced the magic of protest for the first time in my life. I could hear drums banging and protestors chanting and screaming at the top of their lungs. As police officers looked on the marchers, I could not help to observe the difference in thought. Officers of the law stood by with seemingly disgusted looks on their face, as I stood there wondering about their thoughts. They laughed and joked, completely ignoring what was going on in their presence. Where’s the unity among our people? Among ourselves?

Jose Juarez

Los Angeles CA

Exit strategy

I would like to say something in favor of a prompt exit strategy from Iraq. I would like to paraphrase a mentor of mine, Archie Green of the University of Illinois, a historian of the labor movement who said of the war at the time that he thought that the only problem with getting the troops out of Vietnam was a problem of transportation — there was no way to get them out fast enough.

This is the problem we face today. There is no practical way to get the troops out of Iraq quickly enough, but I have faith in Yankee ingenuity and I believe that if we put the best minds in the country to work on the problem we could find a way to get them out today. I don’t wish to be unreasonable so I’m willing to compromise; if any want to stay behind and fight for a while I would settle for having them home by the weekend.

Saturday afternoon at the latest.

James Stewart

Via e-mail

Einstein vs. racism

In an opinion article in the September issue of Physics Today, journalist Fred Jerome reports a little-known fact about the world-famous scientist, Albert Einstein. In a 1946 speech at Lincoln University, the oldest Black college in the Western world, he called racism America’s “worst disease.” Einstein had earlier that same year termed racism a disease not of Black people, but of whites, and went on to pledge that he “would not remain silent about it.” Einstein was a friend of, and fellow battler against racism, of African American thinkers (and Communists) Paul Robeson and W.E.B. Du Bois. And it has been known for a long time that he was a charter member of an American Federation of Teachers union local in New Jersey.

Jerome goes on to detail why it is that America’s long river of racism has not so much been dammed up as it has been diverted. He cites one telling statistic: In a recent survey of the 50 top-ranked university physics departments in the U.S., just 0.6 percent of faculty members had identifiable African heritage. References for these and other quotations cited by Jerome can be found in the recent book “Einstein on Race and Racism,” by F. Jerome and R. Taylor, Rutgers University Press, Piscataway, N.J.

Einstein, 50 years after his death, remains a source of inspiration for all of us. In addition to his revolutionary theories in physics, he was a socialist, a friend to all working people, and a courageous battler against racism. Let us honor his memory.

John Pappademos

Ferguson MO

Helpful updates

Thanks very much for the information regarding the legislation about the NLRB in your weekly Labor Update. Please keep it coming.

Andrew Skaggs

Via e-mail