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Tuesday, September 06, 2005 ISSUE #378
 

Monday morning quarterbacking the Louisiana mess

# 378, Sept 6, 2005

COLUMBUS: Now I ain't one to jump into this New Orleans mess and pass judgement. Like all of you, my heart goes out to the people directly affected in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and to the families of the National Guard, Coast Guard and all others who rushed there to help. Nobody deserves a bigger thanks than Texas. Here they are taking in thousands and thousands of people, and they're all Democrats. At least they were when they left New Orleans. If they hang around Houston, George and Barbara may get 'em to vote Republican.

Here is a fact, as best I remember it: It was 13 days ago that a gigantic hurricane was forecast to take dead aim on New Orleans some 4 or 5 days hence. That extremely accurate prediction was made by an agency of the United States government, so don't go laying all the blame on the Feds.

All I know is what I read in the newspaper. The Times-Picayune reports that as a result of a big hurricane New Orleans is flooded, poor people are stranded and hungry and clinging to rooftops, and chaos rules. Of course that was in the paper three years ago, but nobody at City Hall bothered to read it, even if they could read. Blame the editor for not putting in more pictures.

Yesterday the Governor said it was ok with her if policemen "shoot to kill" the criminals instead of just writing 'em a ticket. Today the Mayor ordered the evacuation of everybody in New Orleans. He says the President was 4 days late leaving Crawford, but he's got to explain why he was 12 days late with the forced evacuation. Tonight the sniping, whining and looting moved from Louisiana to Congress.

If you want a hint as to where the responsibility lies, ask this question of the Mayor and Governor: "If you go back to August 24, and do it all over again, what would you do different?"

Well, I bet you their answer would be as follows: "First, immediately we would get school bus drivers to pick up the families of every New Orleans policeman and fireman, and take them to Shreveport out of harms way. At the same time we would order the policemen to round up every criminal, – either known, suspected or paroled – disarm them and deliver them, along with current jailbirds, to the nearest state prison for safe keeping. Any school buses left over would be used to gather the families of city officials, – at least the essential ones who weren't taken off in the previous group – and deposit them in a safe, upstate location. Firemen would be dispatched to every store that sells or handles guns and ammunition of any type, confiscate them and haul them to a secure, undisclosed location. We'll do all that the first day. The second day we empty the hospitals and nursing homes and take them to available medical facilities in Louisiana and Texas.

"That leaves us 2 days to get everybody else out of town. Oh, we forgot to tell you, to be absolutely certain it would happen just as we have described it, we would turn the whole operation over to General Honore."

Historic quotes by Will Rogers: (on the Mississippi River flood of 1927)

The following quotes are from Daily Telegrams numbered from 236 to 267...(April 25) "I don't believe our people that have never been around a flood area realize the tremendous need of these sufferers down on the Mississippi. It's by far the worst thing that has happened in this country in years. A fire don't start to do the damage that a flood does. We have helped every nationality in the world. Now we have a chance to help the poorest people we have in America, and that is the renter farmer.

Most of the people need help, even when there is no flood, but they have always been too proud to ask for it. Mr. Ziegfeld has generously given me his wonderful new theater in New York City, and I am going to put on my little one-man dogfight for this great cause next Sunday night. So even if you don't like cowboy gum chewers on the stage, come anyway and help out a real cause. They will get every cent that comes in."

(April 26) "What the whole country has got to do is wake up and give. These people are going to need assistance for months."

(April 28) "There's hundreds of thousands of people being driven from their homes homes that won't be there when they come back. These poor people have never harmed a soul."

(May 1) "(President) Coolidge is going to make another Red Cross appeal for more funds. Don't stop at your quota. This is the biggest need we ever had in this country."

(May 2) "Well, our benefit turned out fine. We got $17,950, and more checks still coming in. Want to try to thank everybody from all over the country that helped out. Now don't slack on this stuff because New Orleans is out of danger. That doesn't alter the need of those hundreds of thousands of others who will have to be supported."

(May 3) "Just speeding along the old Hudson River the last three hours. I was thinking how many millions and millions of dollars would be raised overnight if it was out of its banks and doing the same amount of damage that the old Mississippi is. Makes a lot of difference where a thing happens."

(May 13) "I am tired of reading about 'our town has reached its quota of flood relief funds.' There isn't any quota! A new break is reported every day and thousands more are in need. If you were hungry and some one gave you a sandwich would you have your quota? Can that quota gag and keep on working!"

(May 25) "Another levee broke today; another hundred thousand standing on the banks. Don't forget that when you eat your big dinner and sleep in a nice dry bed tonight."

(May 27) "I hate to keep digging on it, but we still have 600,000 of our own whose homes are now floating toward Nicaragua. We can't seem to get the Government interested in them financially. I wish you would send some checks to the Red Cross of New Orleans. I am going there next Wednesday night, June 1, to give a benefit, and it already has more money assured than any one given in any part of the country. Why? Because they are right there and they know the needs of the people. If 600,000 people had lost their all and were being fed by charity in the East they would raise fifty million in a day. Come on, let's help them, even if they are not Armenians. They can't help it because of their nationality."

(May 29) "Didn't I tell you Saturday that there were 600,000 people needing help? And that it would take more money than they had asked for? Now today (Secretary of Commerce) Herbert Hoover says there are 700,000, and he is asking for only 2,000,000 more dollars. This whole thing has been underestimated from the start. Why not ask for some real sum? It couldn't be too high. Remember Wednesday night to send a check to the New Orleans Red Cross. We want to break all records at that benefit."

(May 30) "On my way to New Orleans tonight for the benefit. Send some money."

[more next week]


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