Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Of Levees And Hummers And Ships That Have Sailed

Update (9-14-05): A Congressional report requested by judiciary Democrats--but compiled by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service--has been released that clears Louisiana Governer Kathleen Blanco of the charge that she did not call a state of emergency in time to save the stranded citizens of the city of New Orleans and surrounding Parishes. It states, in part:

*All necessary conditions for federal relief were met on August 28. Pursuant to Section 502 of the Stafford Act, "[t]he declaration of an emergency by the President makes Federal emergency assistance available," and the President made such a declaration on August 28. The public record indicates that several additional days passed before such assistance was actually made available to the State;

*The Governor must make a timely request for such assistance, which meets the requirements of federal law. The report states that "[e]xcept to the extent that an emergency involves primarily Federal interests, both declarations of major disaster and declarations of emergency must be triggered by a request to the President from the Governor of the affected state";

*The Governor did indeed make such a request, which was both timely and in compliance with federal law. The report finds that "Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco requested by letter dated August 27, 2005...that the President declare an emergency for the State of Louisiana due to Hurricane Katrina for the time period from August 26, 2005 and continuing pursuant to [applicable Federal statute]" and "Governor Blanco's August 27, 2005 request for an emergency declaration also included her determination...that `the incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of disaster."

Here's a link to the report. Warning: it's a PDF file.

And here's a decidedly PARTISAN statement released by Representative John Conyers of the Michigan 14th regarding the report:

"This report closes the book on the Bush Administration's attempts to evade accountability by shifting the blame to the Governor of Louisiana for the Administration's tragically sluggish response to Katrina. It confirms that the Governor did everything she could to secure relief for the people of Louisiana and the Bush Administration was caught napping at a critical time."

Thanks to the Daily Kos for the linkage.


I attended a conference this past weekend put on by a local chapter of the RWA, and there I met a lovely young woman who works as an agent in the industry. This woman had many smart and savvy things to say about author promotion--how to present oneself to one's best advantage, and how to avoid the pitfalls of that same presentation.

One thing she strongly suggested was that an author not put anything in her blog that she wouldn't put in a cover letter to an editor, or a brochure advertising her work. No controversy. No overtly political opinions. Nothing that might turn folks off, whether those folks be potential editors, agents or readers.


I guess, short of going back and deleting pretty much every one of my previous posts--except maybe the one about the lovely summer morning for which I was so grateful--that ship's pretty much sailed, huh?

I've been quiet over the last couple of weeks partly because I'm a little overwhelmed with work--both of the domestic and professional variety--but also because I'm so filled to the brim with anger and
grief that I every time I sit down to post to my blog, I keep coming back to the same topic: the incompetent, inept, criminally bungled handling of Katrina and her aftermath. I don't want to keep hitting the same note over and over and, for example, OVER...but neither do I feel comfortable chatting amiably about what I'm writing or the imminent change of seasons or the latest cute thing my kid said. Plus, so many other people are doing such a good job of keeping the debate lively that I don't see much point in adding to the conversation.

I WOULD like to talk about the writing conference I just attended, and I'll probably do that tomorrow. In the meantime, I will simply drop in a link sent to me by
Barb Ferrer, who got it from a friend of a friend. I found it fascinating reading.


I'd like to point out in the above timeline the entry under Sunday, August 28, titled:

"Forecasters Fear Levees Won’t Hold Katrina”: “Forecasters feared Sunday afternoon that storm driven waters will lap over the New Orleans levees when monster Hurricane Katrina pushes past the Crescent City tomorrow."

And also:

AFTERNOON — BUSH, BROWN, CHERTOFF WARNED OF LEVEE FAILURE BY NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER DIRECTOR: Dr. Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center: "'We were briefing them way before landfall. ...It's not like this was a surprise. We had in the advisories that the levee could be topped.'"

And another link to

And finally, what President Bush had to say to Diane Sawyer on Good Morning, America on September 1:

"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."

I'm not going to comment, except to say that I recall a lot of folks insisting the reason they came to hate Clinton was because he went on national television and lied to the American people when he said, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."

The only difference I can see in this situation would be the loss of life involved. Far as I can tell, nobody drowned or died of exposure or had to be put down like a dog because Bill got a hummer in the Oval.

Yep. That ship is SO gone.


Blogger Donald Francis said...

IMO, there's something to be said for being strong enough to claim her true opinion.

Of course, someone independently minded and strongwilled enough to trumpet her own opinions on political and socio-cultural issues would probably also be the sort of person to chafe at editorial and publishing constraints, nonsensical rules of genre formula, and...

Hmmm...I hear crickets...that's never good. :p

9/13/2005 2:50 PM  
Blogger Selah March said...

You just never miss an opportunity, do you?

And I chafe. You should see the stockpile of babypowder I keep right here, next to the desk. I chafe BIG TIME.

But, again, it's a matter of perspective. Nobody's had to give anyone an overdose of morphine to put them out of their misery because I have to include X number of sex scenes in my stories in order to sell them to X number of readers.

Plus, as we've established, I'm crass, money-hungry, fame-famished. I WANT TO SELL.

9/13/2005 3:09 PM  
Anonymous azteclady said...

Selah, I've just started reading your blog a few weeks ago, but as I was reading this latest entry (and following the links you so thoughtfully provide), I was thinking that one of the things I like about it is that the strength of your convictions comes through loud and clear.

If you write your fiction as your write your blog, your writing voice (that elusive but oh so desirable quality), I imagine that it will resonate with a goodly number of people. IMHO, stiffling it would do both you and your readers a disservice.

9/13/2005 3:27 PM  
Blogger Donald Francis said...

Miss an opportunity? MOI??

And of course there's a relativity issue here. You speak truth.

9/13/2005 3:35 PM  
Blogger Selah March said...

Wow. Thank you for the support and encouragement, azteclady.

I worry about alienating people, but I honestly don't know what I'd talk about if it wasn't stuff about which I feel strongly. In the end, I just can't see myself posting book recommendations and brownie recipes; although I do enjoy both when I read them elsewhere, it's just not me.

9/13/2005 3:38 PM  
Blogger Eva Gale said...

I've been reading about Monica toning back her blog and or changing it. Now you. This saddens me. I love reading the thoughts and opinions of writers I like wether I agree with them or not.

My ship sailed too...

9/13/2005 4:45 PM  
Blogger Selah March said...

Don't be sad, Briana. If the ship has sailed--and sailed she has--there's not much point in toning it down. The posts are all cached somewhere or other, and there are quotes galore floating around out there, especially to the RWA-related stuff.

I won't be changing my wicked ways anytime soon.

9/13/2005 4:52 PM  
Anonymous Barb said...

You're not running around trashing other authors except where their actions or general ninnyhammerness in a public arena demands it. God only knows, you and I have both read blogs where authors gleefully trash people for no other reason that they're not, well... them.

We don't read those blogs no more, do we?

There's a difference between stating your case in a clear, cogent manner, (i.e. puttin' your money where your mouth is) and just willfully going to town with little to no provocation.

And God knows, we've read plenty of those blogs too.

You're fine, you left-leaning lunatic.

And Watcher?

Shut up. :-P

9/13/2005 5:16 PM  
Blogger Donald Francis said...


But I'm being all anarchic and stuff.

I may get myself an eyepatch, too.

9/14/2005 9:46 AM  
Anonymous Barb said...

Yes, because an eyepatch with the tinfoil hat is the epitome of style amongst the Young Paranoids these days..


9/14/2005 1:24 PM  
Anonymous PBW said...

One thing she strongly suggested was that an author not put anything in her blog that she wouldn't put in a cover letter to an editor, or a brochure advertising her work. No controversy. No overtly political opinions. Nothing that might turn folks off, whether those folks be potential editors, agents or readers.

That's not a weblog, that's an ad in RT.

So much for my career.....

9/14/2005 10:44 PM  
Blogger Breezy said...

Just popping in to say hi, Selah. Can't wait to hear about that conference!

9/15/2005 10:07 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Hi, Selah. I found you through PBW's linkage today. I think your assessment is spot on, but then, I'm an old lefty and little things like the truth tend to warm my heart.

I'm not published yet (except in zines) but I blog about whatever the hell I want. If someone rejects me for my political beliefs, so be it. I wouldn't want to be in bed with them anyway.

Best of luck to you.

9/15/2005 11:18 AM  
Blogger Natalie Damschroder said...

Selah, I followed a path of links back to this, and I have to say...

Hear hear.

Can you believe it? {VBG}

I will admit to being a wussie and careful not to post my religious or political opinions on my blog, because part of the reason I have a blog is to connect with readers, and I think (possibly naively) that I can make that connection even with people who don't believe the same things I do. And there's an agent who said agents and editors do read blogs and don't look positively at someone who announced dozens of rejections, etc., so I don't post about those, either. :)

But I could still be in trouble if there's someone out there who's offended by my sudden lust for the General Lee.

9/15/2005 12:04 PM  
Blogger Donald Francis said...

I am not offended, Natalie, but I AM deeply disturbed...

9/15/2005 1:46 PM  
Blogger Selah March said...

PBW - You remain my inspiration in all things. You may or may not be disturbed by that, but I think it's NIFTY.

Breezy - Conference recap posted; still waiting on your exciting news.

Doug - Welcome! I've been lurking at your blog for a while now. Thanks for the kind comments.

Natalie - Sure I can believe it. I've yet to meet the person I can't agree with about SOMETHING. I suspect we have tons in common, anyway. But...uh...NOT the General Lee. You can have it ALL to yourself, girl. :p

Barb - *smoochies* Put something new in your blog so I can comment, dammit.

Watcher - Normally, I'd just echo the "shut up," but the idea of the eyepatch DOES intrigue me...

9/16/2005 4:31 PM  
Blogger Donald Francis said...

I know you as a woman of taste and style...of COURSE the eyepatch intrigues you!

9/16/2005 4:35 PM  
Blogger Kate R said...

I saw that thing at PBW and worried for a second or two. DAMMIT. the world needs more noisy opinionated people**, not fewer.

**with whom I usually agree.

9/16/2005 9:54 PM  
Anonymous raine said...

Selah, just found your blog.
Good stuff.

And if voicing your opinion on your own freaking blog damns you, we'll have a grand ol' time in hell together.

9/16/2005 10:28 PM  
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