Hurricane Katrina photos: a reminder

Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans rather recently (three years ago this week), so I’m sure readers remember it well.

Nonetheless — as Hurricane Gustav closes in on Louisiana — I thought I would repost some Katrina photographs I culled from Yahoo.com at the time. My goal, when I first posted the photographs, was to put a human face on the tragedy.

Hurricane_Katrina_3The Todd family takes shelter in their laundry room
Meridian, Louisiana (AFP/Getty Images/Marianne Todd)
 
Hurricane_Katrina_1Bay St. Louis Emergency Management Agency volunteer crews rescue the Taylor family from the roof of their SUV, which became trapped on US 90 due to flooding.
Bay St. Louis, Mississippi (AP Photo/Ben Sklar)
 
Hurricane_Katrina_4Alex Curtis, 12
Biloxi, Mississippi (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
 
Hurricane_Katrina_5Evelyn Turner cries alongside the body of her husband, Xavier Bowie, after he died in New Orleans, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005. Bowie and Turner had decided to ride out Hurricane Katrina when they could not find a way to leave the city. Bowie, who had lung cancer, died when he ran out of oxygen.
(AP Photo/Eric Gay)
 
Hurricane_Katrina_6Sheila Dixon of New Orleans weeps as she clutches her 18-month-old daughter Emily as they sit on the side of Interstate-10 after being airlifted out of flood-besieged New Orleans on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2005. Dixon wept uncontrollably, saying that everything she had was lost and she had no idea where she was being taken.
(AP Photo/Dave Martin)
 
Hurricane_Katrina_7Milvertha Hendricks, 84, waits in the rain with other flood victims outside the convention center in New Orleans, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2005.
(AP Photo/Eric Gay)
 
I hope I’m not exploiting human suffering to make a political point here. But George W. Bush and John McCain are rushing down to Louisiana this week to show that they’re on the job. Americans shouldn’t let them off so lightly.

Newsweek recalls that McCain and Bush held a joint photo op on the day Katrina landed in 2005. They were marking McCain’s birthday:
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Convention zingers!

I thoroughly enjoyed watching successive Democrats take a whack at John McCain at the Democratic convention.

There’s a double standard at work in the campaign that’s hard to take. It seems that it’s OK to criticize Obama, but it’s not OK to criticize McCain.

The media are soft on McCain because of his (genuinely heroic) history as a tortured prisoner of war in Vietnam. Meanwhile, McCain is engaging in ad hominem slurs on Obama that have nothing to do with competing policies.

But McCain’s POW past is not a reason to exempt him from criticism:  not when he is running to be the President of the United States of America. For the past eight years, America’s President and Vice President have been unaccountable to the American people. In this change election, that’s one of the things that must change.

So I richly enjoyed watching the Democrats hold McCain’s feet to the fire. Here are some of the highlights.

Brian Schweitzer (Tue. evening):

John McCain has taken more than a million dollars in campaign donations from the oil and gas industry. Now he wants to give the oil companies another 4 billion dollars in tax breaks.

Four billion in tax breaks for big oil? That’s a lot of change, but it’s not the change we need. …

We simply can’t drill our way to energy independence, even if you drilled in all of John McCain’s backyards, including the ones he can’t even remember. That single-answer proposition is a dry well.

Hillary Clinton (Tue. evening):

We don’t need four more years — of the last eight years. …

It makes sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities. Because these days they’re awfully hard to tell apart.

Bill Clinton (Wed. evening):

The choice is clear. … [John McCain] still embraces the extreme philosophy which has defined his party for more than 25 years, a philosophy we never had a real chance to see in action until 2001, when the Republicans finally gained control of both the White House and Congress. Then we saw what would happen to America if the policies they had talked about for decades were implemented.
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Who needs an attack dog?

Some bloggers were disappointed last night because, in their view, Joe Biden didn’t go after John McCain aggressively enough. After all, wasn’t Biden chosen because he is the attack dog Obama so desperately needs?

Tonight, Obama took matters into his own hands:

But the record’s clear:  John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than ninety percent of the time? I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to take a ten percent chance on change.

The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives — on health care and education and the economy — Senator McCain has been anything but independent. He said that our economy has made “great progress” under this President. He said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. And when one of his chief advisors — the man who wrote his economic plan — was talking about the anxiety Americans are feeling, he said that we were just suffering from a “mental recession,” and that we’ve become, and I quote, “a nation of whiners.”

A nation of whiners? Tell that to the proud auto workers at a Michigan plant who, after they found out it was closing, kept showing up every day and working as hard as ever, because they knew there were people who counted on the brakes that they made. Tell that to the military families who shoulder their burdens silently as they watch their loved ones leave for their third or fourth or fifth tour of duty. These are not whiners. They work hard and give back and keep going without complaint. These are the Americans that I know.

Now, I don’t believe that Senator McCain doesn’t care what’s going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn’t know. Why else would he define middle-class as someone making under five million dollars a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to more than one hundred million Americans? How else could he offer a health care plan that would actually tax people’s benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement?

It’s not because John McCain doesn’t care. It’s because John McCain doesn’t get it.

For over two decades, he’s subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy — give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is — you’re on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps — even if you don’t have boots. You’re on your own.

Well it’s time for them to own their failure. It’s time for us to change America.

You see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country.

We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was President — when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under George Bush.

We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job — an economy that honors the dignity of work.

So who needs an attack dog?

That was a magnificent speech. Obama communicated a patriotism that some partisan critics have unjustly called into question:

I’ve got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.

Obama provided policy details, for those who think his promise of change is an empty package. He responded directly to the accusation that he is a mere celebrity. He insisted that Democrats can, indeed, keep America safe — referring to past Democratic presidents Roosevelt and JFK — while declaring that McCain lacks the judgment, and has the wrong temperament, to be a capable Commander-In-Chief.

All that:  while refusing to sink to McCain’s level by delivering unfounded, ad hominem smears.

The McCain camp will go to bed deeply demoralized tonight.

Speechifying

Ezra Klein:

No one can humanize policy like [Bill] Clinton. The speech he offered could have been a joint release from the Economic Policy Institute and the Center for American Policy foreign affairs department. But somehow, when Clinton reads it, policy slips free of the weighty terms and looping sentences that press it down, and drifts upward to read easily as part of the human condition, engaged with our everyday experience. It’s a remarkable skill, and one that no other current politician possesses.

Precisely. I was deeply impressed by Bill Clinton’s speech last night, even as I was mystified:  How can this speech work so well?

I was a preacher for four years, which meant writing and delivering a message every week, 50 weeks out of 52. So I know something about constructing an effective speech.

For a comparison to Clinton, consider the Governor of Montana, Brian Schweitzer. Schweitzer delivered the only effective speech (other than Hillary Clinton’s) on Tuesday evening. But it reminded me a little of a high school pep rally. Something that the head of the Boys’ Athletic Association might deliver, stirring up his fellow teenagers to celebrate a winning football season.

It was a good speech in all the conventional ways. Then Bill comes out the next night, and mostly talks policy:

Look at the example the Republicans have set:  American workers have given us consistently rising productivity. They’ve worked harder and produced more. What did they get in return? Declining wages, less than a quarter as many new jobs as in the previous eight years, smaller healthcare and pension benefits, rising poverty and the biggest increase in income inequality since the 1920s.

American families by the millions are struggling with soaring healthcare costs and declining coverage. I will never forget the parents of children with autism and other severe conditions who told me on the campaign trail that they couldn’t afford healthcare and couldn’t qualify their kids for Medicaid unless they quit work or got a divorce. Are these the family values the Republicans are so proud of?

What about the military families pushed to the breaking point by unprecedented multiple deployments? What about the assault on science and the defense of torture? What about the war on unions and the unlimited favors for the well connected? What about Katrina and cronyism?

America can do better than that. And Barack Obama will.

OK, there was more to the speech than that. But there was a lot of policy embedded in the text; and (unlike Schweitzer’s speech) it was delivered in a very conversational cadence; yet still, somehow, it was electrifying.

btw, John Kerry’s speech was also exceptionally good. I realize most people consider it torture to sit through a series of speeches, but the Democratic convention has risen to some lofty heights, at times.

Other speeches have been iredeemably boring. The question is, Why is one speech effective while another is a soporific?

Hillary rises to the occasion

Hillary Clinton appeals to her sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits:

I am honored to be here tonight. A proud mother. A proud Democrat. A proud American. And a proud supporter of Barack Obama. …

I haven’t spent the past 35 years in the trenches advocating for children, campaigning for universal health care, helping parents balance work and family, and fighting for women’s rights at home and around the world, to see another Republican in the White House squander the promise of our country and the hopes of our people.

And you haven’t worked so hard over the last 18 months, or endured the last eight years, to suffer through more failed leadership.

No way. No how. No McCain.

I trust that the sisterhood (PUMAs* and all) were listening.

Hillary and Chelsea

_____________

*PUMA:  Party Unity My Ass — a particularly militant Hillary faction who are willing to elect John McCain, notwithstanding his regressive views on women’s issues, just to spite Obama.

Gee, I hope Eddie Haskell doesn’t muss up my hair

Joe Biden as a schoolboy, via the New Republic:

Joe Biden as schoolboy

Doesn’t he just remind you of someone?

Beaver Cleaver

Biden

A sudden flurry of political posts from me, as the campaign heats up. Summer’s coming to an end, the Democratic convention (starting on Monday) will be followed immediately by the Republican convention, and the two candidates are about to announce their running mates.

In fact:  on the Democratic side, the word is already out. Obama has picked Joe Biden as his “veep” (VP, Vice President).

Obama’s announcement came in the wee hours this morning. Bill gets credit for the scoop here at [A]mazed and [Be]mused (see this comment).

Elsewhere, Marc Ambinder seems to have gotten the jump on everybody by noticing, yesterday afternoon, a charter flight headed from Chicago to Delaware.

Quick summary:  Biden is older than Obama; a Senator since 1972; chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, with recognized foreign policy gravitas; clearly qualified to step into the Presidency, if necessary; a capable attack dog (which is a traditional role for the running mate); and a Roman Catholic, which could help Obama with a subset of voters that has been cautious about embracing him.

In October, one of Biden’s sons will be deploying to Iraq.

Key observation:  Biden is very popular with older women and working class folks. Those are two of Hillary’s demographics, which is a key consideration here. A poll conducted Aug. 15-18 found that only 52% of Hillary Clinton’s supporters have decided to vote for Obama as of yet.

Re Biden’s potential appeal to working class voters:

Biden isn’t just one of the only non-millionaires in the Senate. He’s the poorest senator, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics. He has a very modest lifestyle; doesn’t own a home in DC (much less one in La Jolla, like McCain does); his wife is a schoolteacher; etc. He’s lived like a public servant, emphasis on the “servant.”

That’ll make for a nice contrast with John “I-don’t-recall-how-many-homes-I-own” McCain!

Re older women:  pollster Nate Silver reports that Biden’s numbers are quite strong among seniors, and (FWIW) one of Andrew Sullivan’s readers thinks this is especially true of older women. Silver says Biden

would probably lock up Pennsylvania for Obama — both because he is well-known in the Philly burbs and because Pennsylvania has an older electorate — and might play well somewhere like Florida.

Pennsylvania and Florida are, of course, two key “swing” states.

Here’s Biden in action when he was running for the Democratic nomination:


 
Biographical notes:  Biden’s first marriage ended in Dec., 1972, when his wife and his daughter were killed in a car accident. His two sons were badly injured, but survived. Biden remarried in 1977 and has a daughter with his second wife.

And that isn’t the only crisis Biden has lived through. He had surgery to remove two brain aneurysms in 1988. David Brooks comments, “New administrations are dominated by the young and the arrogant, and benefit from the presence of those who have been through the worst and who have a tinge of perspective.”

Biden doesn’t own a home in Washington:  every night, he travels 100 miles by train to be with his family in Wilmington, Delaware.

Human interest note:  as a child, Biden had a terrible stutter that caused him much embarrassment. He compensated by demonstrating some athletic prowess. Now that he’s overcome his childhood stutter, the biggest knock against him is that he talks too much (creating a potential for gaffes).

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