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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-08-14 - 11:08 a.m.

Passing Strange, I Say

I'm reminded today of Hurricane Betsy when we lived in New Orleans years ago. I had been painting something out in our detached garage and had not known of the impending hurricane until I heard about it on the car radio as I headed to pick up the children from school. Traffic was unrelenting, but I finally made it to the elementary school where I picked up Keith, Mark and Laurie. Eventually, I found Valerie and Marci at their respective schools, and as it got darker and darker, the traffic became even more bumper to bumper, with lots of stops and starts. We drove in our old station wagon with the air conditioning straining to keep us somewhat cool.

We were stopped by a stoplight and stalled traffic at a corner and our car, too, stalled. I could not get it started. The battery was dead. Horns began to blow! I didn't know what to do other than get out of the car and head for a service station on the corner. Happily, I thought, at least it is for one for whom we have a credit card. Little good that did me. They were pumping gas fast and furiously as people were readying themselves for the hurricane and who knew what was to follow. I approached one of the attendants and asked if he could give my car a boost -- that I was stalling traffic. He said he was too busy pumping gas. I'm afraid I threw something of a temper tantrum scene...and he relented.

By the time I got home, Glen was taping windows with masking tape. He had stopped at the grocery store and stocked up for us, but now had to head back to the hospital where he would have to stay throughout the storm. "It looked as though it is going to be a bad one,"he told me. Glen, an administrator at the hospital, would be needed there. The dog began to whine...and she was not alone. We were all a little worried about how we would fare.

The power went out, the wind howled, the dog whimpered, and that night we all gathered to sleep together in the room where we thought we'd be safest. Our next door neighbor, knowing Glen had gone back to the hospital, came over once in the middle of the night to check on us. The next morning we went out to survey the damage -- branches and leaves everywhere. Our neighbor and the kids began to rake and clean the yards -- and especially their swimming pool, which would be a Godsend to all of us as we would be without power for several days and it was swelteringly hot. With the power out, the contents of our freezers began to thaw leading to a big neighborhood barbecue.

My sympathy to those whose lives have been turned upside down, to those who have lost their homes and to the families who have lost loved ones...all we lost was a few days of school and the food in our freezers. We were among the lucky ones...those in the flooded areas of New Orleans were not so lucky.

Having said that,however, does anyone else see anything strange about President Bush taking a trip to Florida tomorrow (on his rest day) to assess the damage done by Hurricane Charley? For the past three years he has avoided going to visit disaster areas because of the strain it puts on a community at a time of crisis to have a Presidential visit. Golly gee...that made sense to me. Send FEMA...let them do their job. Who wants to be worrying about the President's safety if he's just going to be adding to the gawkers? Nothing he can actually DO that isn't already being done -- send money for heaven's sake, but do stay home!

But no...this time, ostensibly because it is his brother's state (and because he's a few points behind in Florida right now...and remembering those 547 votes by which he narrowly won (?) last time) he's rushing down to look at what you and I both saw on TV all morning...and perhaps to shake a few hands and personally help out at a few shelters. Give support to his brother in his time of crisis. I can see Laura pouring coffee at a shelter now, can't you? What a photo op!Convenient that he has a free day tomorrow.

Compassionate conservatives, ya know.

Passing strange, I say!

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