We're all relieved that New Orleans was spared from the devestation that might have been caused by hurricane Gustav. It veered to the west and lost some of its power.

And Republicans were relieved that its convention was spared visits from President Bush and Vice President Chaney. Their Monday night prime time speeches were cancelled because of Bush's need to be in charge during national hurricane emergencies.

Convention leaders do have some concern, however, that President Bush may wish to address the convention via satellite from his position on the hurricane front lines in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana.

The planning and execution of responses to Gustav were assisted by the command post visit by John McCain and Sarah Palin, who have had much hurricane experience in Arizona and Alaska respectively.

Meanwhile, hurricane Hanna is forming in the Atlantic posing a substantial threat to the Bahamas and to Savannah. This gives new meaning to Ray Charles' Hard Hearted Hannah, the Vamp of Savannah GA


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I Gave to the Red Cross Tonight

While the Republicans continue their preparations to exploit Hurricane Gustav to the fullest (and are no doubt privately disappointed that the storm is not as severe as some predicted), their cynical ploy is rooted in a basic truth: many people will lose their possessions as a result of this storm, and some will lose their lives.  Whether relief efforts are sincere or are part of a grand political stunt, that relief is sorely needed.

I had not really focused on the need to donate until today, when I received a text message from the Obama campaign soliciting donations to the Red Cross (I guess that that VP text message database served a greater purpose after all).  Sure, I had intended to donate, but it was not at the forefront of my mind.  Because of that simple reminder, though, I logged on and made a donation earlier this evening.  

Anyway, while we criticize the Republicans for politicizing a national tragedy, it seemed to me that we would not be much better if we limited ourselves to criticism alone.  The fact is that there are real people out there who need help, and we Democrats pride ourselves on lending a helping hand.  Therefore, I encourage those who are so inclined to donate to the Red Cross or to the relief agency of your choice.  Let's show that we too are "putting on our American hats," as the Republicans would have it, to help fellow citizens in need.  The below link aggregates links to relief agencies in the affected states. ml

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Message From Barack: Gustav [Updated]

EDIT: Calling all sockpuppets! Okay, I don't really have any sock puppets (and would repudiate them if I did) but please rec this one up for today. Let's bump my lingering focus group diary make sure this one does some good. It's the first time I've asked for recs, hopefully it'll be the last.

Now back to the diary...

Barack's Speech on Gustave after the bump. Sorry for the lack of Palin in this diary but there are a few other things on the horizon.

Today Barack sent email and text messages to his massive list of supporters, soliciting contributions for the Red Cross in their efforts for hurricane relief.  I'm sure that most MyDD readers have already received this, but it's still a good example of just who we have as a nominee.

I know you share my pride in Barack, I hope you'll also share your $.


Barack asks that you give to the Red Cross today: give $5 by texting GIVE to 24357 or give more by calling 1-800-435-7669 or at



From: Barack Obama
Subject: Help Gulf Coast residents and first responders

Friend --

Today, the thoughts and prayers of all Americans are with those in the path of Hurricane Gustav -- and many of you are asking what you can do to help.

We do not yet know what the impact of Hurricane Gustav will be, and we hope with all our hearts that the damage will not be as great as it was three years ago.

But we know there will be damage, and there is something you can do right now.

Your financial support will strengthen organizations like the American Red Cross that are evacuating Gulf Coast residents and planning to help communities get back on their feet.

Make a donation to support the American Red Cross today.

At times like this, it is our compassion and resilience that define who we are as a nation.

Please give whatever you can afford, even $10, to make sure the American Red Cross has the resources to help those in the path of this storm:

Thank you for your generosity, and I hope you will join Michelle and me in praying for the safety of those in the path of the storm and the first responders who are doing all they can to ensure the safety of their communities.


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Convention Hurricane 2: It Begins

The GOP's politicizing of Gustav was as inevitable as it is tasteless.

From a Politico Story, the GOP is already counting the ways this helps McCain: 8/13025.html

Republican officials said the images from here will present a positive contrast with the celebratory Democratic convention last week in Denver. The storm could paralyze Democratic efforts to hit McCain on several fronts.

"The contrast between McCain's responsibility and the fanatical followers in the temple of the Lord Obama won't be lost on everyday husbands and wives trying to meet their own responsibilities," a Republican official said.

Yeah, why didn't Obama have a hurricane?

Drudge is also making hay out of a Michael Moore quote and a Dem official making jokes that the Hurricane is some sort of devine retrobution against Republicans. Now they can blame Democrats for politicizing it... thus absolving their own blatant attempts.

Seriously though, people who think this has any political benefit for the Democrats, I think, are deluding themselves. Instead McCain will get to avoid having to give a "big speech," something he can't do, and allow the GOP to criticize the Dems for doing one, even though "the big speech" would otherwise be a part of their own convention, Bush had his own Greek columns, and so on and so forth.

Given how the Bush administration let McCain lead on Georgia, I don't doubt that Bush would avoid the region entirely to give McCain credit for any success the admin has. And I can't imagine how the administration could fail on this one. The Bush admin's failing has always been a lack of imagination... they couldn't imagine Katrina happening -- but now that it's happened once, they know what to do... provided it hits the same city the same way -- even at the same time -- again.

The GOP apologists in the media are already setting the stage -- "redemption" for Katrina. (See AP and Politico.) Even before "redemption" happens. To avoid the Astrodome debacle, they're just not offering any public safe haven. Truly the Bush-era way to deal with a problem. The Levees may hold or not hold, it doesn't matter -- the main picture will be of McCain boldly helping somewhere, lifting some grain or something. Sarah will be hugging people. Cindy offering them a cup of joe.

All will be forgiven.

The GOP are expert at turning non-partisan tragedy into political gain. They rode 9/11 to two major victory cycles, and unless the Democrats get similarly craven and exploitive, I really fear for a third.

I don't want to be too reactionary or alarmist, but I think it was all said in the above-mentioned Politico quote:

"The contrast between McCain's responsibility and the fanatical followers in the temple of the Lord Obama won't be lost on everyday husbands and wives trying to meet their own responsibilities," a Republican official said."

That's what they're saying. What are we saying?

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Gustav Response: Why Obama is The Service Candidate

Called it! When it became clear that McCain was going to use the hurricane to try and squeeze political points, I said Obama should use his army of volunteers to try and get assistance to the victims. While this might score political points, it would certainly be the fundamentally decent thing to do. Fortunately for all of us, Obama is a fundamentally decent man.

Sen. Obama gathered the pool outside after services at St. Luke's Lutheran Church. He told us that his camapaign plans to mobilize its huge e-mail list of supporters to volunteer or send money once the impact of Gustav becomes apparent and authorities know better what kind of help is needed. He said his campaign is coordinating with local authorities.

"We can activate an e-mail list of a couple million people who want to give back," he said. "I think we can get tons of volunteers to travel down there if it becomes necessary."

Your pooler asked him if McCain's visit now is appropriate.

His response: "A big storm like this raises bipartisan concerns and I think for John to want to find out what's going on is fine."

"The thing that I always am concerned about in the middle of a storm is whether we're drawing resources away from folks on the ground because the Secret Service and various security requirements, sometimes it pulls police, fire and other departments away from concentrating on the job."

"I'm assuming that where he went that wasn't an issue. Were going to try to stay clear of the area until things have settled down and then we'll probably try to figure out how we can be as helpful as possible."

While John McCain seems to think that service is about individual effort, Obama understands that the path to service is through collective action. I can think of no better example.

As for Obama and my prediction, all I can say is that Obama constantly lives up to my better inclinations and steers clears of my worst ones. I wasn't originally an Obama guy, but I am now.

On a less political note, we should all have the residents of that area in our thoughts and/or prayers, and when we get that email, I hope we can all respond.

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