The X Files
By Xavier Hermosillo
September 25, 2005
Please allow me to meander with you for just a bit on a few
We all tempt fate every now and then, but I seem to be on
a streak right now, unlike anything else in my life.
My new business involvement took me to North Carolina for
a four-day trip that turned into 11 days, including dealing
with the landing of Hurricane Ophelia, which was more bark
than bite. I found it interesting how the people there took
it in stride, much like we do with earthquakes in California.
In fact, many of them asked me what it was like to go through
an earthquake and when I described it as a gentle rocking
motion, and nudged the dinner tale a bit to give an example,
they freaked. I got a hearty laugh out of it because they
often deal with hurricanes and tornadoes and we rarely have
a quake. Yet, they couldn't think of dealing with a little
rocking and rolling, but had no problem having to constantly
board up their homes and businesses and hit the road to escape
the wind and rain.
I had another interesting experience there when I ventured
out of Raleigh towards the airport and found the community
of Cary, North Carolina. It looks much like the suburbs of
Los Angeles, Orange County, Chicago, Seattle, you name it.
When some of the locals jokingly asked me on the ninth or
10th day if I had bought a house yet, they asked which communities
had impressed me. I mentioned Cary and they all began to laugh.
Unaware of what I had said that could be so funny, the look
of puzzlement on my face was obvious. Not wanting to let one
of their senior corporate officers hang out to dry too long,
one lady quickly volunteered an answer. She said, "We're
not surprised you liked Cary. That stands for Containment
Area for Relocated Yankees." Yes, my friends, the South
is still waiting for its chance to reign again in some form
It was clear to me that their way of living, as modern and
suburban as it may seem, is still wrapped up in some history
and a way of life that is as different to me, as MY California/Hollywood
way of life must seem to them. I plan to visit them again
soon and continue my study of Southerners. They're an interesting
My next tempt with fate was Houston. It's an okay town, I
guess. It has its high points and its low points like everywhere
else. But my planned visit there got cut short by - guess
who - Hurricane Rita. It also messed up a shipment from a
vendor there to a big trade show to New York because unlike
New Orleans, the evacuations in Houston began a full two days
before Rita reached the coast. FedEx and UPS ceased all operations
on Thursday morning before Rita landed. The mayor ordered
all businesses to shut down and everyone obeyed. You can thank
nasty Katrina for that lesson.
The third tempt with fate involves JetBlue. No, I wasn't
on that flight that landed so spectacularly, but safely, at
LAX. But the next day I was booked on their flight to New
York City. It was a little tough thinking about getting on
a JetBlue lane, because of the landing gear problem. But I
did it anyway because the landing at LAX was proof positive
the company has an incredibly highly trained staff.
Now that I've dealt with two hurricanes and JetBlue, let
me touch on politics just for a moment.
It is unbelievable to me that as we deal with the final two
months or so of the hurricane season, that Democratic lawmakers
in Washington, especially the House-leader-Nancy Pelosi-crowd,
want to start their finger pointing about the response to
hurricane Katrina while our emergency and military planners
looked at Rita with great worry and anticipation. The Democrats
just don't get it. American is sick and tired of such blatant
partisan politics, on all sides.
The Bush-bashers just can't help themselves. They will defy
all logic and reason in any way possible just so they can
spew their political rhetoric and blame the President for
as much as they can get away with, and still try to salvage
some credibility. I think they're failing miserably.
Those of us who have either covered or endured wildfires,
mudslides and the aftermaths of earthquakes all know that
the primary and principal responsibility for response to tragedy
is the province of local and state government. That's why
the cities ask the state to declare areas a disaster zone
and the states then ask the same of the federal government.
The undeniable truth, and we saw it with our own eyes, is
that the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana
blew the call. I know, I know, they WERE overwhelmed by it
all. But it doesn't change either the applicable laws or the
politicians' ability to finally wake up and make the right
For those who fear the role of the military in our country,
we should find it instructive that once the troops landed,
and the Coast Guard began its miraculous rescue missions,
the civilian politicians were more impotent than they looked
at first blush. The no-nonsense men and women of our military
knew just what to do, and they didn't have to rely on indecisive
powder puff morons to make the right calls.
It was sad to see the majority of the New Orleans Police
Department cut and run when they were needed most, and I understand
many of them lost their homes along with everyone else. But
that's why we give our safety officials so much authority
and trust, and usually, such great pay and benefits. We expect
them to be a cut above and to be there for us when we need
them the most. The Crescent City Cops failed the test. For
them in the Big Easy, being a quitter was way too easy.
Finally, I have avoided this topic like the plague but cannot
do so any longer. The notion by African-American leaders that
the response was somehow racist by our government, or as some
claimed, it was an attempted genocide, sickens me.
New Orleans, the poverty capital of the South has only its
own Black leadership to blame. The number of poor people who
had no transportation to escape Katrina, and who were thrown
into a pile at the Super Dome, should blame their own corrupt
local officials, both Black and White.
The military rescuers did not discern nor discriminate in
their live-saving heroics based on the color of a victim's
skin color. In fact, we now know that African-Americans in
the Big Easy got priority rescue and attention over the poor
White and Black folks in Mississippi and Alabama.
It's a real shame that so many of our colleagues in the media
chose to cover the accusations of racism, instead of the abandonment
of equally suffering people of a different skin color in other
areas. This disaster was NOT about race, ethnicity or gender.
Too bad some in the media couldn't resist the temptation to
get sucked in by the usual suspects, the Poverty Pimps.