The Look Of Defeat

It’s really sad for all of us.

president-bush-wh-photo.jpgI was up with the TV on when President Bush made his short statement on the economy today. Unless you were watching live you didn’t see him walk alone down the path to the podium and walk away when he was finished (avoiding questions from reporters). I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone look more alone–more isolated.

It’s really sad for all of us.

Out And About

In my George Bush 41 with the grocery scanner moment, I went to my first JiffyLube.

I have a haircut appointment for tomorrow. I showed up today. Oops.

They took me anyway, though it makes me wonder why I keep a calendar if I don’t always check it.

PIC-0120As long as I was out and had a few minutes, I stopped to get my oil changed on the way back to work. In my George Bush 41 with the grocery scanner moment, I went to my first JiffyLube.

They were empty and knew who I was. That makes most experiences better. They could not have been nicer.

I found out synthetic oil is a lot more expensive than that stuff that comes directly from the ground. Also, from outward appearances, my engine doesn’t look like it’s been chugging along for nearly 10 years. And, if you ask nicely for your antifreeze to get topped off… it still doesn’t.

I’ll do that myself at home.

What To Make Of It

Both Drudge and The Huffington Post have linked to an op-ed piece in the Financial Times. It’s written by former Bush insider Karl Rove.

It is advice to Barack Obama. It claims to be a game plan for Obama to win the Democratic nomination.

What is this, a Twilight Zone episode?

Why would Rove would do anything to benefit Democrats?

It is widely suggested, Hillary Clinton runs the poorest of all the major Democrats versus a generic Republican candidate. Wouldn’t Senator Clinton be the Republican’s first choice for Democratic nominee?

My first thought was, maybe Rove is trying to torpedo Clinton’s closest rival? However, when you read the suggestions, they make perfect sense from a strategic standpoint. They would help Obama.

Maybe Rove just hates Hillary or the Clintons in general and will accept any choice instead of her?

The whole thing is a real puzzle. I can’t remember anything quite like this before. And the election is still a year away.

Computers Can’t Be Trusted

“Computer problem.” I’ve heard those two words a million times. Mostly, it’s a crock. Computer problems aren’t usually computer problems but problems which appear when humans operate computers. In other words, it’s mostly human error.

Computers only do what they’re told. Hardware failures that allow them to run amok are relatively rare. It’s that fingertip/keyboard interface where all the trouble arises.

With that perspective, it’s off to Chicago where, earlier this week, WGN radio found itself broadcast all over the radio and TV dial. I was tipped off to this story by Adam Chernow in Wisconsin, but I’ll quote the Chicago Tribune:

In the parlance of the Cold War era that spawned the federally mandated Emergency Alert System, launch codes were issued throughout Illinois on Tuesday morning, automatically pre-empting dozens of radio and television stations as if the region faced nuclear annihilation.

Rather than President Bush reassuring citizens after an atomic blast or some other calamity, the audience of many Chicago outlets was treated to the sound of dead air followed by the voice of WGN-AM 720 morning man Spike O’Dell struggling to figure out what had happened.

It turns out O’Dell’s pair of brief surprise appearances between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. on everything from local public broadcasting to music stations — an “unintentional disruption,” a Federal Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman called it — stemmed from a FEMA contractor’s installation of the state’s Emergency Alert System satellite receiver in Springfield as part of a nationwide upgrade.

If the contractor had asked me to call all those stations, I would have pointed out the error of his ways. Computers are more obedient and, unfortunately, don’t question authority!

Why do we do this? Why do we allow an automated system take control so an errant human can cause chaos?

I know why. I was there the morning the old system failed!

It was February 20, 1971. As I remember, it was a sunny and mild winter’s day. I was working as a disk jockey at WQXT, located right on the ocean in Palm Beach, Florida. Life was good.

At 9:33 AM a series of ten bells rang out from the Associated Press teletype. Ten bells was the signature for a national emergency, an EBS alert… but this was Saturday at 9:33 AM. They tested the system every Saturday at 9:33 AM.

Somewhere deep within Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado, a technician put the wrong put tape in his teletype. Instead of sending the test, he sent the real thing!

From Wikipedia: An EBS activation message authenticated with the codeword “HATEFULNESS” was sent through the entire system, ordering stations to shut down and broadcast the alert of a national emergency. A cancellation message with the wrong codeword was sent at 9:59 AM EST, and a cancellation message with the correct codeword was not sent until 10:13AM EST.

Most radio and TV stations did nothing! They had no way of knowing the message was wrong. In fact, every indication was it was real.

In my case, I heard the bells and disregarded them. It was test time. I heard those bells every Saturday morning.

By the time I looked at the teletype, the alert had been corrected. The few people listening to my little radio station were well served because I totally screwed up!

After that debacle the government worked to change to a better, faster, more streamlined, heavily automated system. And yet, with this week’s problem, the cause was exactly the same – human error.

It’s this automated system that has sometimes allowed cable companies to cut my television station’s audio as they run emergency crawls… even though we’re giving emergency info when they kill our audio!

Society has become so complex, we can’t operate without computer assistance. Unfortunately, that has forced us to put much too much power in someone’s fingertip. The folks in Chicago understand.

Quelle Heure Est Il?

It’s one of the few remembrances of my ill fated bout with French 1: “Quelle heure est il?” What time is it?

The answer has always been simple, but will now become painstakingly difficult with the new and improved switch to Daylight Saving Time&#185, coming this weekend.

From the NIST website: The current Daylight Saving Time rules represent a change from the past. On August 8, 2005, President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which included the changes in Daylight Saving Time described above, effective March 1, 2007. Prior to 2007, DST began at 2:00 a.m. (local time) on the first Sunday in April, and ended at 2:00 a.m. (local time) on the last Sunday in October. The new rules for DST beginning in 2007 mean an extra four or five weeks of DST each year. There will now be a total of 238 days of DST, compared to a total of 210 days of DST in 2006 under the previous rules. Daylight Saving Time and time zones are regulated by the U. S. Department of Transportation, and not by NIST.

Notice how NIST (National Institute for Standards and Technology) is desperately trying to distance itself from this debacle to come!

What will happen this weekend is much of what was feared for Y2K. I don’t expect planes to crash into mountains, but I do expect all sorts of small to moderate problems with everything from banks to clocks and watches to VCRs to alarm systems.

Yes, it will be a pain-in-the-ass to reset all my watches and the clocks that are now on everything electronic. The bigger problem will be reseting the items that are already programmed to set themselves later in the year.

I have one watch that just might be incapable of finding the right time! A website, associated with the vendor, says it should be OK. Unfortunately, the watch sets itself automatically off a low frequency radio station… a station it hears every once in a while.

How some computers are reset will make a big difference, because underlying our individual time zones are UTC, or Universal Coordinated Time (the order is screwy because the acronym is based on the original French).

If you look at the inner workings of email, you’ll see times are referenced in UTC plus or minus a variable. Lots of the Internet and international commerce in general, works that way.

Delivery-date: Mon, 05 Mar 2007 06:39:42 -0600

Received: from geofffo by with local (Exim 4.63)

(envelope-from )

id 1HOCTe-0001BC-7d

for; Mon, 05 Mar 2007 06:39:42 -0600

My mailserver, in Chicago, is -0600. My home computer, here in Connecticut, is -0500. They understand a common time by using those offsets.

Unfortunately, lots of people will just reset their computer’s internal clock, throwing the mutually understood coordinated time off. The computer will still think it’s 5 or 6 or whatever hours off UTC, while it’s actually not!

I’m not sure how that will throw things into a tizzy – but it will.

At work, though my computers are on Eastern Time, everything we do is really done in UTC. All weather info around the world is UTC. Going to Daylight Saving Time means all my data will arrive an hour later. All the forecast guidance, all my computer generated help, will now be delayed.

I have a list of instructions that I have to follow to get each computer on the same page. I’m dreading that. Nothing digital ever works perfectly the first time.

Maybe I should just start with my watches now too?

This story will unfold this week. The bigger it is splashed, the smaller the problem will be. If this entry is the last you hear about it until the weekend, we’re in deep trouble.

&#185 – It is Daylight Saving, not Savings, Time.

Lewis Black At The Oakdale

As already established, Santa got us two tickets for Lewis Black. Last night was date night.

We went to a local ‘roadhouse’ for a quick dinner. What we didn’t realize is, it’s Alumni Weekend at Quinnipiac University, the rapidly expanding school in our little town.

The restaurant was jammed. The music (Sirius Channel 21) was very loud. I’m really not that old – it was that loud! Dinner took much too long to arrive.

Luckily, Oakdale&#185 is only a few minutes away. Though the theater seats a few thousand, the vast majority come via the Wilbur Cross Parkway (CT Route 15). We come the back way, through neighborhoods in Hamden, Cheshire and Wallingford, and breeze in without traffic.

Helaine Santa ordered our tickets the moment they went on sale. We were in the 4th row, on the aisle. We sat behind some people who were seemingly show biz connected and in front of a couple who actually bought their seats on a whim, ten minutes before show time.

I was surprised to see an opening act, and not Lewis Black, pop on stage at 8:15. I’d never heard of John Bowman.

He is short, thin, middle aged and had one button too many buttoned on his sport coat. He took quick, small sips of his bottle of water, rapidly replacing and re-screwing the top.

He said he was a friend of Lewis’ and had spent the last three years traveling with him by bus&#178. And then he enumerated how stressfully difficult and emotionally trying, that was.

Within the first few seconds, a heckler from the back yelled something out. John took him on with a riff showing the the idiocy of trying to be funny when you’ve paid to see a professional comedian.

The audience was won over. From there on, Bowman could do no wrong.

It is tougher for an opening act to succeed. Everyone paid to see the headliner. The opening act is in the way.

As with Lewis Black who would follow, John Bowman is an observational comic. They weren’t jokes as much as they were observations – and they were very funny.

Bowman ended by bringing his dog on stage – a sure way to win over Helaine. Does Rita Rudner get a royalty?

After a fifteen minute intermission Lewis Black came on. His hair is lighter colored than it seems on TV. His paunch is more pronounced than would be implied as he sits at the desk on The Daily Show. He was more mellow, generally.

Maybe that’s a misstatement. TV is a close-up medium. When you’re bigger on screen than real life, everything else is exaggerated as well. That certainly includes emotional intensity.

The fact that Lewis seemed so laid back just added to the effect when he did ramp up his intensity. And he did!

He would bend his elbows and thrust his fingers as his eyes seemingly popped from his head. I’m not sure if he turned beet red, but that wouldn’t have been out of character.

Lewis Black goes through life looking at everything and wondering why. Why it’s done? Why we take it? Why individuals are looked upon as idiots from those who manage or rule?

He claims he used to do a full hour on weather, but now there are a lot of politics. It’s not just Bush bashing.

Again, as with John Bowman, these weren’t jokes but observations. And they were hysterical.

I can’t remember laughing so much at two comedians – individually and collectively.

Lewis Black is in his late fifties. He’s always made money, but now he’s achieved incredible success. I wonder if there was ever a time he pondered giving up what is often a young man’s game?

I hope his success is satisfying – even though he’d never let on that it is.

&#185 – Though officially known as the Chevrolet Theater, everyone I know still refers to it as The Oakdale. After all, it had that name for over 50 years.

Just as New Yorkers still call “Avenue of the Americas” by its old name, “6th Avenue,” this is not done to be disrespectful. These historical names just help establish our bona fides as locals.

&#178 – Sure enough, when we left, there was a tour bus outside the stage door. It seems odd that two guys on tour would travel this way, but they do.

The Rhetoric Is Down

Is it me, or do things seem calmer today than they did before the polls closed Tuesday? Sure the sun is shining and it’s unseasonably warm, but my inner peace is deeper. Maybe all that negative campaigning and hard nosed rhetoric took it’s toll on me (and others) outside the electoral process?

Can you listen to all shouting and name calling without getting ticked off? I don’t mean upset at the specific facts being spouted – just being put into a bad mood.

Is negativity catchy?

I noticed the change when I heard Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean speak about conciliation. I heard it when President Bush held a press conference and seemed contrite. Two days ago, they all had fangs!

Someone asked the President:

Thank you, Mr. President. With all due respect, Nancy Pelosi has called you incompetent, a liar, the emperor with no clothes, and as recently as yesterday, dangerous. How will you work with someone who has such little respect for your leadership and who is third in line to the presidency?

THE PRESIDENT: Suzanne, I’ve been around politics a long time; I understand when campaigns end, and I know when governing begins. And I am going to work with people of both parties.

Look, people say unfortunate things at times. But if you hold grudges in this line of work, you’re never going to get anything done. And my intention is to get some things done. And as I said, I’m going to start visiting with her on Friday, with the idea of coming together.

He went on to say, “This isn’t — this isn’t my first rodeo.”

I’m sure it isn’t for him or many professional politicians on both sides of the partisan fence. Unfortunately, for us in Connecticut, bombarded by venom from both sides, it was a very new experience which went from zero to “oh my God” in an instant. We’ve never been close to this level of firepower.

I’m not sure ending the commercials is an instant fix. Are we all better, calmer, less hateful, now that the screaming on TV has stopped and Bob’s commercials are back (Bob – I really missed you)? Or, is there now a lower threshold for us? Will we now be more easily provoked?

Are we destined to live under the political equivalent of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder?

On Dan Rather

Today was Dan Rather’s last day at CBS. He went out as damaged goods.

I never met him. We have no mutual friends. I don’t even want to comment on the ‘Bush papers’ that ultimately were his downfall.

It is interesting to note, no matter how far removed in time, I can’t think of Dan Rather without thinking of what happened to Walter Cronkite.

Most times, someone loses a job when someone else gets one. Beverly Johnson, a beautiful, very nice woman, was fired just before I was hired in Connecticut. Those decisions were made without my involvement. I always sensed it was different with Rather.

News coverage through the years implied, or sometimes outright said, he did not want Walter Cronkite to steal his thunder. When CBS gave him the job, keeping him from bolting, Cronkite’s fate was sealed. For Dan to be in, Walter would be out.

Today’s departure is about as close as life comes to full circle.

Blogger’s note – It’s possible over time I have goofed up this story, or remembered things that happened differently or perhaps didn’t happen at all. Corrections are always welcomed.

Steve Colbert At The White House

I just hit pause on a video I’ve been watching. I recorded C-SPAN tonight! Has anyone ever done that before?

If my daughter is reading this, she’s laughing herself silly.

Tonight was the annual White House Correspondents Association dinner. I’m sad to say I’ve watched these in the past. It really makes for uncomfortable TV.

Back in 1994, I squirmed as I watched Don Imus be inapropriate and unfunny. Tonight, it’s Steven Colbert’s turn. See, I’m non-partisan.

The good thing about recording this dinner (as opposed to watching it live) is, there’s so much to fast forward through. I did stop, watch, and enjoy, CBS correspondent Bill Plante’s tour of the soon to be dismantled White House Press Room. I had heard for years it was a dingy, cramped, slum. It is.

Back to Colbert.

The problem here is, comedians come here to take the president apart… the most powerful man in the world… a guy with a very serious job…and he’s sitting a few feet from you.

I just don’t think it’s possible to do.

I’m only a TV weatherman, and I won’t go into a carnival’s dunk tank. This is the presidential equivalent.

As Steve began to go through his speech, hitting what he expected to be laugh lines, there was silence. He went through a long dissertation, making fun of the president’s poll numbers and I winced. He talked about the president on an aircraft carrier and in a recently flooded city square to zero response.

I feel bad for the president. Not because he isn’t responsible for what Colbert is talking about. It’s because in this venue, with the president unable to respond, it’s an unfair attack. It was true with Imus and Clinton and it is true with Colbert and Bush.

In fact that’s probably why I’ve paused the video to write this. Frozen on the right side of my computer screen is Colbert at the podium, his finger poking the air for effect. I don’t want to hear any more because I’m embarrassed to watch any more.

Maybe it’s time for this long standing tradition to stop.

The Meisels Go Home To New Orleans

Back when Hurricane Katrina was threatening the Gulf Coast, I did my best to get Ruth Meisel out. The day she drove to safety up north was the last time she saw her home, until yesterday.

With her two adult children in tow, Ruth Meisel returned to New Orleans to see what could be salvaged and tie up loose ends. She will be among the tens, maybe hundreds of thousands, who will leave their homes and move elsewhere.

New Orleans is being abandoned, wholesale.

I asked her son, my friend, Farrell to type some of his thoughts so I could put them here in the blog. I’ll sprinkle a few of his photos here, though the best way to see them is in this slideshow.

Clean up goes on. 80% of the city was affected. Some parts of the city have begun to function, albeit at half speed. This area is still without electricity and is deemed unsafe. It’s expected that electricity won’t be restored in New Orleans East for six to nine months. My mother returned for the first time since the hurricane and subsequent floods, to survey the damage and see if anything could be saved. She’s suited up and ready to go inside. In the background, my sister, Cheri, ready to suit up, as well.

It’s nice… no, it’s amazing to see Ruth smiling.

Here’s my read. She could be distressed with what she’s about to see, or she could be happy to see she raised her children right, and they are accompanying and supporting her. She chose the latter.

My mother knew from earlier reports and a prior visit by my sister, that things didn’t look so good. She’s been very optimistic and hopeful, looking forward and giving us much encouragement. My mother’s house survived the storm on the outside, but the inside looked and smelled awful and was a total disaster. Entering the front door we were greeted by a living room chair that wasn’t there when my mother left in August. That gives you an idea of how we were greeted.

From the marks on the wall it looks like 4-5 feet of water made it into the house. From the ‘bunny suits’ the Meisel’s wore, you can assume it wasn’t spring water.

Nearly everything was ruined.

One of the things that struck Farrell when we spoke on the phone was the proliferation of signs advertising Katrina related services. There are also markings, scrawled on homes with spray paint.

This house has been FEMA’d. FEMA is not an acronym here. It’s a four-letter word. BTW, so is Bush.
One of the city’s synagogues, Beth Israel, an Orthodox house of worship…Also one of the city’s oldest, which used to be in the historic uptown area until the late 1960s. Also on Canal Blvd, note the watermarks. Reportedly, the head Rabbi fled town, leaving the Torah scrolls to flood and be rescued from religious volunteers. The Rabbi has since been fired. My sister spotted prayer books and prayer shawls on the ground in front of the now-deserted synagogue….a sin in the Jewish religion.

Here’s how Farrell ended his note, and I’ll leave it pretty much intact:

As I visit here, for the first time in several years, 3 months after the devastation that has been chronicled worldwide, I have now discovered: A Missing City. Parts of the city and neighboring parish (Jefferson) we have seen are beginning to function, but it’s slow and without spirit.

In our many conversations with New Orleanians and Jeffersonians, one hears a great deal of anger leveled at Government. I could only find one person with a nice thing to say about President Bush. I asked why? The waitress at the seafood restaurant said it was the Louisiana Governor’s fault for not letting Bush send FEMA and the troops in. I then asked, out of curiosity, did she know that Bush was on a fundraising trip in California for three days before he did a “fly-over”, VP Cheney was buying a vacation house and the Secretary of State was shopping in Manhattan, while her home state, Alabama, was flooded. The waitress hadn’t heard that.

A newspaper stand owner or manager clearly vented his anger towards Bush, but didn’t spare either the local, regional and state governments, but felt, the US Government let Louisiana down.

Most of the Greater New Orleans area, (Orleans and neighboring parishes), as it’s known, with some 1 million people once living there, don’t have electricity, a home, assistance from FEMA, insurance companies, and they feel forgotten just three months after the hurricane and floods.. As is the case with crises the world over, once the cameras leave, the sense of urgency goes with the camera crews.

The stores and shops that are open are operating for limited hours due to two factors: limited shoppers and limited staff.

It’s quite unusual to be driving in one part of the area, say neighboring Metairie, where the shops and malls have reopened, only to continue on Interstate 10 to downtown New Orleans, and pass through darkness because whole areas have no power.

There were some signs of life downtown and in the French Quarter. The beautiful St. Charles Avenue historic areas seemed to be untouched and lit, yet, just a few blocks away, one would have thought we could have been in a war zone.

Rumors of price gouging exist. Household stores are reportedly charging double for goods consumers can buy in the middle of the state or in Mississippi for less. Gasoline is 30 cents a gallon more expensive than in the center of Mississippi or Louisiana reportedly.

Residents feel abandoned now. From the newspaper shop owner to restaurateur, residents don’t feel the city of N.O. census will approach even half of it’s close to 461,000 registered residents.

Employers are looking for employees. Potential employees are looking for housing, assistance from FEMA and the insurance companies, and those are the few, who have returned.

The Times-Picayune reported today that the New Orleans Mayor, Ray Nagin, rumored to be in Washington on business, actually wasn’t there on business, but took his family on vacation to Jamaica. While I’m sure he’s deserving of a break, there are several hundred thousand to one million people, who’d love to take that break, if only they could get some help from the various government agencies so they could get on with their lives and rebuild. And I haven’t even begun to discuss the levee system.

As I write this at 2am Central Standard Time, I was trying to think, after only two days here, how could I best describe what I have seen and heard? The word that comes to mind is “abyss.”

New Orleans, which had once been described as the “city that care forgot,” from an old Mardi Gras tale, has become the bottomless gulf or pit. There are only a handful of truly unique cities in the U.S. with some history and character. When tourists think of those cities, New Orleans had always been in the same company with San Francisco, Boston, New York, Savannah, and perhaps one or two other cities or towns.

It would not be an exaggeration to suggest, if there is no sense of urgency, New Orleans could drop off that list in my lifetime.

Please, look at the pictures. It is so sad… so tragic.

Website Self Examination

Over the past day or two, I have removed two comments from readers. The comments were well thought out and appropriate for the subjects they were attached to.

This is probably a good time to explain why I censored my own blog and how I censor myself on a daily basis.

What I write here is the truth, as I know it. Sometimes I learn, after hitting the ‘save’ button, I was wrong. I usually leave my own misstatements online (sometimes with an addendum). That way, this site becomes a real ‘permanent record’, warts and all.

If you’ve read long enough, you know I’m not above criticizing or question myself. What you may not realize is, there are lots of people I won’t criticize and subjects I won’t touch.

This blog is the truth. It is not the whole truth.

I will not publish things my family has asked me to keep private. I don’t criticize friends. There is no partisan political talk (and that’s what was deleted yesterday).

Here’s an example of what I’ve done.

Yesterday, I cited President Bush’s short address on the flooding from Hurricane Katrina. Then I criticized our response. I made sure to clearly state the decisions I was criticizing were made by others, not the president.

If I felt the president was at fault – I would have printed nothing.

That’s not because he’s president (presidents are fair game). It’s because he is a political partisan. On this blog, that’s off limits.

If you run for political office, I will do as much as I can to avoid saying anything which might help or hurt your political chances or the chances of your supporters. In fact, the easy way is to avoid mentioning you at all.

The same goes for work. I have a great job, but I will only mention it in a peripheral way. If I have a conflict or disagreement with my bosses, don’t expect to see it here.

On this blog I will never discuss local Connecticut television. I will talk about network or cable issues, but I’m an employee and I respect the privacy I believe most bosses want from their employees.

I try not to put anything in the blog which will have to be tempered to comply with my other policies. That means there are subjects I don’t touch because they might break through to work, partisan politics or family… even if they don’t intrude on the first post.

Walking this line has not always been easy. I do have a political bent. I don’t always agree with my boss. Sometimes family members do things which are curious at best and I’d like to discuss.

This isn’t the best policy for a newspaper or TV news operation, but it is for this particular blog. I thought you’d be a better reader by hearing it from me.

Blogger’s note: I do often go back (like right now) and re-edit or change my work. I’ll change words and clean up bad grammar. I never change the meaning of what I’ve already said. Often the original posting, which seemed good at the time, does not read clearly. If I had an editor, this would not be a problem.

Where Is The Federal Government?

“Good afternoon…there is a desperate, desperate race to try to save those who made it through the storm, but may not survive the aftermath. This may be one of the saddest spectacles I have ever seen.” – Shepard Smith, Fox News Channel

I’m not in New Orleans nor the Gulf Coast. I only know what I see on television and read in the newspaper. I am not happy with what I’m seeing.


Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Looting on Tchoupitoulas Avenue

By Michael Perlstein

Staff writer

Looting in New Orleans was so widespread Wednesday that police were forced to prioritize their overwhelmed enforcement effort.

The officers were rushing to a break-in next door at the Sports Authority, desperate to secure the store’s stockpile of guns and ammunition.

“I think we ran them off before they got any of it,” said the commanding officer at the scene. The cops secured the store with heavy plywood before moving on to other emergencies.

There’s more, but it’s too depressing.

Where is FEMA? Where is Homeland Security? Where is the National Guard? Where are tents and cots and kitchens?

Why on Wednesday is this first being announced by President Bush&#185?

That Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast was no surprise. It was well forecast, both intensity and track. The predictions from the Hurricane Center were dire with some of the strongest cautionary language I’ve ever read relating to weather.

Wasn’t anything brought in to be ready?

As we have a moment to step back from this tragedy, maybe it’s time to question how the resources allocated for emergency services are deployed. If I were in New Orleans or the Mississippi and Alabama coastal towns, I’d be more than steaming right now. I’d want answers.

&#185 – Though President Bush is ‘in charge’, operational decisions should have been made at lower governmental levels.

Be Careful Ad Libbing

I work on TV and when I’m on the air, everything I say is an ad lib. Yes, the anchors and sports reporters read most of their copy, but for some reason the weather person has always been afforded this privilege.

Ad libbing can sometimes cause problems. I often speak with ‘salty’ language off the air and have to be careful I remember when I’m on.

My biggest ad lib problems have come when I’ve said something innocent and it turned out to have a second meaning. It is interesting, from my vantage point, to see the anchors biting their tongues, trying to keep from busting out laughing.

As it turns out, my ad lib problems put me in the same boat as Bill Clinton. Here’s an email I got this afternoon from a friend.

Yesterday on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, which I am sure you never watch, he had an “exclusive” interview with former President Clinton, who talked about the Pope, his relationship with his new best friend, former President Bush and his health. When asked about this kind gesture offering former President Bush the only bed on the government jet when they were on the recent tour of Tsunami-affected countries, Clinton shrugged it off and said, “I can sleep anywhere.” OUCH!

Mr. Clinton, I feel your pain.

The Election is Finally Over

In a half hour, John Kerry will concede. Later this afternoon President Bush was make his victory speech. There are wounds to be healed. Bad blood on both sides. Are we big enough to rise to that occasion?

One last thing on the polls, and then I’m done with this election thing. Last night, Zogby published a projection based on exit polls and who knows what else. In his scenario published Tuesday evening at 5:00, Kerry won 311 electoral votes!

Today, there’s this

Why Drudge Isn’t Like Real News

I check back with a number of times ever day. There are good links – interesting stuff. But there is a difference between Matt Drudge and a mainstream news site. Here’s an example.

It started with this headline in bold type: KERRY CAMPAIGN FINDS COMFORT IN FIRST BATCH OF EXIT POLLS, accompanied by this text:

Election 2004 has been rocked with first wave of exit polls which show Kerry competitive in key states, campaign and media sources tell DRUDGE…. National Election Pool — representing six major news organization — shows Kerry in striking distance — with small lead — in Florida and Ohio.. MORE…

Later, a little meat was added to the first statements.

Election 2004 has been rocked with first wave of morning exit polls which show Kerry competitive in key states, campaign and media sources tell DRUDGE…. National Election Pool — representing six major news organization — shows Kerry in striking distance — with small lead — in Florida and Ohio.. MORE…


Kerry 45 48 42 51 52 60 52 51 51 50 58 52 49 57

-Bush 55 51 57 48 48 40 48 48 47 48 40 43 49 41

Those numbers were pretty unbelievable for the Kerry camp and very different from the closing polls. Still, as I had speculated earlier, there were variables that might have made the polls untrustworthy. So, maybe this turnaround was true.

Instead, it seems Drudge was untrustworthy

Exit poll mania spread through media and campaign circles Tuesday afternoon after first wave of morning data showed Kerry competitive in key states…. National Election Pool — representing six major news organization — shows Kerry in striking distance — with small 1% lead — in Florida and Ohio, sources tell DRUDGE… [But early 2000 exit polls showed Gore +3 in Florida]… Senate races: Thune +4 Castor +3 Burr +6 Bunning +6 Coburn +6 Demint +4 Salazar +4…

So, what’s right, what’s wrong? I still don’t know. But I do know that Drudge’s rush to ‘print’ muddied the waters for a while.

And, while I’ve been typing, he’s changed it again!

Exit poll mania spread through media and campaign circles Tuesday afternoon after first wave of morning data showed Kerry competitive in key states…. National Election Pool — representing six major news organization — shows Kerry in striking distance — with small 1% lead — in Florida and Ohio, sources tell DRUDGE… [But early 2000 exit polls showed Gore +3 in Florida; showed Gore-Bush even in CO [Bush won by 9], exits showed Gore +4 in AZ [Bush won by 6]… Exits Senate races: Thune +4 Castor +3 Burr +6 Bunning +6 Coburn +6 Demint +4 Salazar +4…

Maybe instant news isn’t a good idea?