Jim Varagona

Month: September, 2005

>Mr. Brown Goes (Back) To Washington

>Farewell, Mike Brown, head of FEMA. Two days ago, Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff relieved you of your duties with the Hurricane Katrina debacle. Good riddance.

Did he pad his resume to get the job, or did the White House simply get it wrong in his bio that he had emergency services oversight through a job as assistant city manager in Edmond,OK? Apparently he was simply an assistant to the city manager, which TIME magazine quoted someone from Edmond’s government saying the position was “more like an intern.”

Apparently he had no emergency management experience before coming to FEMA. Before joining FEMA in 2001 as a general counsel, he was a lawyer, also serving as a commisioner of the International Arabian Horse Association. Did he get this job because he was the college roomie of the former head of FEMA?

And Bush says, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.” And that’s why he’s no longer doing that job, correct?

Even if some of this information is not accurate, as Brown has stated, isn’t it a tad disconcerting that the man in charge of emergency management for the country doesn’t have much of an extensive background with the field?!

I could understand if the citizens of this country were horses, then he would be great, but the media knew more about the suffering people down there than this man. Shame on him.

4 years since 9/11, and look at how this country has imroved its emergency management skills. Keep pumping money into the military and cutting funds and programs from these poor people. It seems to be doing wonders. Let those stars and stripes fly high.

>If Only We All Had Employers Like the Catholic Church

>

I discovered a disturbing article on the cover of yesterday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Metro section. “Church posts bond for convicted priest” read the headline, which is enough to piss me off, but I read on.

Using ten checks with values ranging from $10000 to $350000, church officials posted bond for the Rev. Thomas Graham on the same afternoon that jurors recommended that Graham spend 20 years in prison for performing oral sex on the boy in the late 1970s, court records show.

The Archdiocese defends the move with excuses of exhausting all appeal opportunities. I really wish I could have a job that supports me after I am convicted of a crime, not even taking in to account the horrible nature of this crime. And he did it on company time.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests criticized the move by the church. That makes perfect sense. The SNAP victim outreach coordinator, Barbara Dorris, pretty much said the money is going straight from the collection plate to defending these nut job priests (pun intended). I don’t know that for sure, but you wonder where all of the defense money comes from and the payoff money to victims. For a job that pays little, these guys have a lot of money to toss around.

Is this why my Catholic grade school didn’t have air conditioning? Was the money that they were even collecting from the grade school children’s small envelopes being put into legal defense funds, just in case the altar boys started coming out of the woodwork???! And the Catholic Church is always asking for money. They got their Bingo, Arts and Crafts Fairs, School Picnics, Homecomings, Flea Markets…you name it. Where does the money go? They should really share that with their congregation. Meanwhile I am going to go rob an old lady. It’s nowhere near molesting a little kid, and I am pretty sure my job will cover my legal fees.

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>Hell and High Water Have Come

>I have been watching the Hurrican Katrina coverage as much as possible. It’s a bad addiction, but I don’t have much of a job, so I watch. It is a surreal feeling to see a place that I just saw in perfect shape not too long ago. I haven’t been incredibly emotional about the whole situation, besides the occasional bouts of incredible anger that our government would allow such a thing to get to such a chaotic point.

This morning on the Today show on NBC, though, I saw Harry Connick Jr. go back to his father’s house, which was in a flooded area. Normally, I would think sending a celebrity in to cover a major news story would be silly, but this was different. His emotions were raw and very real. Imagine how it would feel to take a boat through your old neighborhood. Luckily, his father’s home was spared, compared to the devastation we have witnessed from afar on our television sets. As they left the neighborhood, one of the people in the crew spotted a resident who did not look too good. He looked like someone straight out of a third world country, except in our land of freedom and liberty. How messed up is that?!

(the above from the AP and Houston Chronicle is of Connick Jr. as he says a prayer at a body he came upon in New Orleans)

Harry and his crew carried the man back to the boat, where they took him to receive medical care. It was the first time the news of Katrina brought a tear to my eye. Everyone is doing their part I guess. It is a shame that Connick Jr. was at the Convention Center before the head of FEMA, Michael Brown, even realized there were people there.

Something is happening here, and you don’t know what it is…do you, Mr. Brown?

The New Orleans Times Picayune wrote an open letter to President Bush asking for Brown’s head to roll along with the rest of FEMA. I realize that the levees were only built to withstand a category 3 hurricane, and we are dealing with a strong category 4 here, but that gives no excuse for people to suffer for three to five days, living in piss, shit, gas, oil, and amongst the dead scattered around them.

On today’s Oprah, I witnessed the kind of coverage that the news was not even showing. Usually you think of going to the BBC or NPR for that meaty type of information. She went insidethe Superdome after the mayor and the military tried to talk her out of it. She described walking through human waste and the horrible smell that the building emitted. She heard stories of children being raped there in the bathrooms and people having to walk over bodies to use the facilities. I hadn’t heard this on the news.

The police chief told her of two of his officers that commited suicide. One went back to his home and assumed that his family was dead. Abandoning all hope, he took his life. They turned out to be alive. He had seen some horrible crap though, so how do we know how we would react in such a scenario?

Oprah’s resident doctor, Dr. Oz, went to Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans, where a makeshift hospital was treating the suffering. Many people who could not be saved were moved to the morgue to die in peace. This is very fucked up, and it is happening in our own country.

The doctor then walked through the streets, where he found a shooting victim in the middle of a street. He moved chairs around him and put a blanket over the man to keep people from disturbing the body. He found a woman on the side of the freeway dead. She was white and fairly young, it appeared, which is unusual compared to the face people are painting this with. (And why is it that the national news nevers shows people dead in our own country, but they have no problem with showing bodies in overseas countries. Oprah doesn’t mind showing it.) Every type of person in every class was affected. The poor were just more affected, because they didn’t have the resources to be as prepared.

NBC Nightly News did a piece tonight on the residents who refuse to leave. They are in denial over the awesomeness of this event. Even as rescue workers come to save them from this wretched hell that has become of their once beautiful city, they refuse to leave. Don Teague, who reported for NBC, ended the piece with a poignant statement, “Residents here pledge to stay come hell or high water. Tonight, they are living in both.”

It is a time for our country to come together or fail miserably. By the look of the government, it isn’t looking so good. We need to focus on the terror here that Katrina caused, and not that supposed terror overseas (not to say that it does not exist, but I believe this takes priority over an endless war).

To those living in that wasteland down there, I don’t know what it is like to be homeless, but I don’t know what it is like to live in hell either. I do know which I’d rather have though. We can at least make a home out of helpful people around us and being surrounded by some kind of caring environment.

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>Naked Guy

>Last night, my fiance and I decided to take the dog for a walk. It was just a normal jaunt around the neighborhood…not really. We were about a block and a half from our place, when I looked over at an apartment complex that we were walking adjacent to. The door to a unit was open and right there in plain view was a man, at least in his 60s, standing stark naked in front of his television. I said aloud, “He’s fucking naked!” My lady looked over at him and his almost invisible twig and berries, and we all made eye contact. As we stood amazed, he looked fairly calm. He simply walked away slowly like he intended this all to happen. We stared a bit longer, astonished. It is not everyday that something like this occurs, and while I do not get off looking at naked old men, I had to take in one of the most odd and random occurences to happen to me as of late.

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