Making Sense of Disaster

Storm Troopers?

I picked up the Sept. 14 issue to see whether Seattle Weekly was still ripping Prez Bush about Katrina or if maturity and circumspection (i.e., there's plenty of blame to go around) had set in.

Knute Berger was showing amazing maturity, having actually worked with some of the FEMA folk and spent a few moments in the hot seat [Mossback, "Making Sense of Disaster"]. Geov Parrish, on the other hand, was off the rails again, a recurring theme (too much medical marijuana?) ["When Incompetence Rules"]. Here's the thing, Geov: Would you want "Bushie and his storm troopers" marching into downtown Seattle—without even being asked!—the next time we have an earthquake? Would you want the feds to forcibly evacuate Ballard because "we all know" the 100-year-old locks (another U.S. Army Corps of Engineers product) may not hold? No way!

Parrish would cry out righteously, "We know what we're doing over here. Stay the hell out!" Greg, Ron, and Christy could then proceed to screw things up massively, and Parrish could then blame Bush (or the next Republican president) for "inaction."

Roger Clarke-Johnson


Better Than New Orleans

Good stuff in Knute Berger's column on FEMA [Mossback, "Making Sense of Disaster," Sept. 14]. I, too, think poor FEMA was, well, dismembered when it was sucked into the Department of Homeland Security. I feel for the great professionals we worked with. It also appears that state and local leaders in Louisiana froze. Gov. Kathleen Blanco is inexperienced, and New Orleans' long tradition of political chicanery did not serve the city well. Our own region is in better shape, though, and I think we could rise to the occasion if we had to.

Sue Robinson

Camano Island

Ideologues in Charge

Once again, it seems the "hire your friends" system has triumphed over competence in Washington, D.C. ["When Incompetence Rules," Sept. 14]. Typical of the Bush administration's corrupt and inefficient cronyism, reports surfaced in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that FEMA's head, Michael Brown, was a purely "buddy" appointment that had little to do with his qualifications. He deserved to be fired for his agency's failure to respond quickly and effectively for the victims of Katrina. Charges of racism and prejudice against the poor are wholly justified in my mind. Above all else, the level of deadly, nightmarish chaos we witnessed must be minimized in the future.

The Bush administration has clearly shown its preference for right-wing, ideologically based governance. If you listen to the radicals who rule every branch of government in D.C., when it comes to governing the nation, the federal government has little if any role to play in domestic affairs other than bullying librarians to divulge who has checked out books. It is incumbent upon all of us, as citizens (still sovereign, last I checked the Constitution), to re-examine that approach and see if we agree with the ideologues in charge. I, for one, am inclined to choose a much more pragmatic approach: the kind that saves lives.

John Jordan-Cascade

Eugene, OR

Outrageous Claim

Craig Wilcox's claim in Buzz [Sept. 14] about a study proving elephants are just as fine with 1 acre as they are with many is outrageous. No such study exists. To the contrary, it is well-known among elephant experts that the aggression and neurotic swaying and pacing behavior that Bamboo now exhibits is caused either by small habitats, prolonged abuse, or both.

It is very disappointing to read such misleading statements from those entrusted with the care of animals in our community.

Diana Kantor

President, Northwest Animal Rights Network


Zoo Misinformation

The Sept. 14 Buzz quote by Craig Wilcox, the elephant manager at Point Defiance Zoo, makes abundantly clear that not only are zoos not educational but the very employees responsible for the animals do not understand them or apparently know the first thing about elephants. That Wilcox will say elephants are "just as fine with 1 acre as they are with many" shows that despite the zoo epidemic of premature elephants deaths, reproduction problems, and high infant mortality, the zoo industry still does not understand what ordinary Americans can figure out—the world's largest land mammal needs vast space to stay psychologically and physically healthy. Contrary to the zoo industry's PR spiel, you don't have to be an "expert" to understand that elephants, who are naturally grazing animals who move constantly in the wild and can travel 30 miles per day, need a lot of space. U.S. zoos are not able to adequately provide for the spatial or complex social needs of elephants. The only thing the zoo industry understands is that elephants "bring entertainment," which in turn brings in money; so zoos continue to inhumanely house elephants in small (less than 10-acre) enclosures in order to draw in the crowds.

Deniz Bolbol

Redwood City, CA

Earshot Overlooked

I can't believe you could devote an entire issue to the so-called "Fall Arts" [Sept. 14] and neglect to mention (except in passing . . . in the film section!) the always creative and ever diverse Earshot Jazz Festival, starting in mid-October. Certainly one of the best arts-oriented "events" Seattle ever hosts. Remove the wax out of your ears and write all about it!

Bruce Greeley


No Free Pass

Usually I like to read (and, before I left Seattle, listen on KEXP to) Geov Parrish's ideas. But I think he is way off the mark on this one ["Borking John Roberts," Sept. 7]. We can't just allow Judge John Roberts to get a free pass because his "confirmation is a near certainty." As an African-American woman, there is much about this nominee that troubles me, and to allow him to assume the role of chief justice without so much as a warning to the rest of America is anathema to me.

I don't oppose him because of who nominated him. I oppose him because of his mentor, the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist. I oppose him because of his comments about affirmative action in particular and minorities in general. I oppose him because of his comments regarding women, from employment, education, and wages to the right to reproductive freedom.

Maybe Parrish can afford to allow this nominee (who at 50 years of age, may have 30 years of havoc to wreak) to quietly ascend the Supreme Court as its leader, but I can't. I'm glad there are progressives fighting for me. Maybe if we had fought harder in 2000 and 2004, we wouldn't be in the position of having George Bush select his choices for this and other courts.

Harolynne Bobis

Amaliada, Greece

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