I get e-mail, from the President on the Gulf oil eruption

June 5, 2010

First time in years I’ve gotten solid information from a politician that didn’t come wrapped in a plea for money. I got a message from President Obama today (I’m sure a few million of his closest friends got the same one):

Ed —

Yesterday, I visited Caminada Bay in Grand Isle, Louisiana — one of the first places to feel the devastation wrought by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. While I was here, at Camerdelle’s Live Bait shop, I met with a group of local residents and small business owners.

Folks like Floyd Lasseigne, a fourth-generation oyster fisherman. This is the time of year when he ordinarily earns a lot of his income. But his oyster bed has likely been destroyed by the spill.

Terry Vegas had a similar story. He quit the 8th grade to become a shrimper with his grandfather. Ever since, he’s earned his living during shrimping season — working long, grueling days so that he could earn enough money to support himself year-round. But today, the waters where he has worked are closed. And every day, as the spill worsens, he loses hope that he will be able to return to the life he built.

Here, this spill has not just damaged livelihoods. It has upended whole communities. And the fury people feel is not just about the money they have lost. It is about the wrenching recognition that this time their lives may never be the same.

These people work hard. They meet their responsibilities. But now because of a manmade catastrophe — one that is not their fault and beyond their control — their lives have been thrown into turmoil. It is brutally unfair. And what I told these men and women is that I will stand with the people of the Gulf Coast until they are again made whole.

That is why, from the beginning, we have worked to deploy every tool at our disposal to respond to this crisis. Today, there are more than 20,000 people working around the clock to contain and clean up this spill. I have authorized 17,500 National Guard troops to participate in the response. More than 1,900 vessels are aiding in the containment and cleanup effort. We have convened hundreds of top scientists and engineers from around the world. This is the largest response to an environmental disaster of this kind in the history of our country.

We have also ordered BP to pay economic injury claims, and this week, the federal government sent BP a preliminary bill for $69 million to pay back American taxpayers for some of the costs of the response so far. In addition, after an emergency safety review, we are putting in place aggressive new operating standards for offshore drilling. And I have appointed a bipartisan commission to look into the causes of this spill. If laws are inadequate, they will be changed. If oversight was lacking, it will be strengthened. And if laws were broken, those responsible will be brought to justice.

These are hard times in Louisiana and across the Gulf Coast, an area that has already seen more than its fair share of troubles. The people of this region have met this terrible catastrophe with seemingly boundless strength and character in defense of their way of life. What we owe them is a commitment by our nation to match the resilience they have shown. That is our mission. And it is one we will fulfill.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

Good news is that BP now reports some success in stopping the flow of oil.  Information flows increase, oil flows decrease — good trends.

Obama and Jindal, May 2, 2010 - Pete Souza, WH photo

Caption from the White House: President Barack Obama talks with U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen, who is serving as the National Incident Commander, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, aboard Marine One as they fly along the coastline from Venice to New Orleans, La., May 2, 2010. John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, is in the background. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza). (This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.)

More information:

Who is that woman with Sen. Watkins, Sec. Benson and President Eisenhower?

June 5, 2010

Minor mystery, but still, it nags.

Who is the woman in this photo?  This is a chance to play history detective.

Sen. Arthur V. Watkins, Sec. of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson, President Eisenhower, and unidentified woman, 9-9-1958, Shipler Photography image via Utah Hist Soc

Utah Sen. Arthur V. Watkins, Sec. of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower, with unidentified woman, on September 9, 1958. Photo by Shipler Commercial Photography, scanned at Marriott Library from the collection of the Utah Historical Society (which holds the rights).

I stumbled across the photo at the on-line archives of the Utah Historical Society.  At the time of this picture, Watkins was running for re-election in a race he would lose in November, in a three-way vote split, to Democrat Frank E. Moss.  Watkins had run afoul of very conservative Utah politics when he chaired the Senate select committee that investigated Sen. Joseph McCarthy, and recommended censure of McCarthy.

Ezra Taft Benson served as Eisenhower’s Secretary of Agriculture for the full eight years of Eisenhower’s administration.  Benson was an arch conservative, closely affiliated with the extreme right-leaning John Birch Society, which officially regarded Eisenhower as a bit of a traitor. Benson later served as President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS, or Mormon).

Oddly, the picture doesn’t identify the woman.  She’s in a wheel chair.  The large stone columns suggest this is a government building, or monument.  The microphone is set at the level of the woman, so obviously she was speaking at this event, whatever it was.  In an election year, such a scene might be played out in the state of the election, Utah — but I suspect it was a Washington, D.C., venue (was Eisenhower in Utah in 1958?).  Shipler Photography was a Utah company, though — what would they be doing in Washington?

Who is that woman?  What was the event?  Where was it?


Update: Best guess so far:  Louise Lake, a polio victim from Salt Lake City, and “handicapped American of the year” for 1958. See comments.

Dan Valentine – Romans in ballcaps

June 5, 2010

By Dan Valentine

Ensenada Backpacker. “The hostel of the city.”

Two Italian women – mid-twenties, thereabouts; both beautiful; full of life; educated – walk out of the women’s dorm room, after a night’s sleep.

They’ve been here a couple of days.

One blond, one dark-haired. They both speak several languages. Italian, German, English, Spanish. Fluently. Of course! (It’s a European thing.)

In the United States, we’re lucky to learn English.

“Where are you going today?” I asked. No need for an answer, really. It was early morning. I was making coffee.

“We don’t know yet,” said one. “It’s our last night.”

“Where are you going from here?” I asked. Just making conversation.

“South,” she said.

“Less Americans,” I quipped.

“That’s good!” she said, and meant it.

“I agree,” I said.

And they both laughed. No explanation needed. Humor is identification. And Italians, faster than others, should/can/do connect the dots.

In the eyes of the world, both north and south of the border, across the seven seas, in and around and in between, and to a growing number of citizens born and bred in the United States, we are looked upon as:

Romans in ballcaps!

Chain-store togas (“You’re gonna like what you wear”), Nike clogs.

A nation fast-galloping into its Ben-Hur phase …

Christians and others fed to the lions on “Dancing With the Stars”. Credit card money-lenders …

If Christ were to return any day soon, where do you think He’d end up?

Gitmo is a good guess. No nails but lots of water. If I remember right, Charlton Heston gave Him a much needed sip on His way to, well, you-know-where.

I, myself, think He’d be picked up as a babbling vagrant on the streets of a southern town, locked up in a prison cell at night, tending some rich cattleman’s herd during the day, a short ways from the facility, and after some twenty years – after a lawyer has proven Him innocent of all charges and collected a large fee – let go. Then, looking up to the heavens, I think He would say, “They do not know what they do. Get me the hell outta here.”

In short, deja vu all over again.

Romans in ballcaps.

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