Tuesday, September 30, 2008


As my favorite comedian Ron "Tater Salad" White of Fritch, Texas says, “You can’t fix stupid.” and Nancy Peolosi the less than illustrious Speaker of the United States House of Representatives tried to prove that yesterday when her partisan vitriole managed to anger and submarine the crucial so-called “bail out package” in that illustrious body. She took a deal brokered by her own party which really demonstrated most of the leadership in the negotiations and because she just couldn’t resist turning this into an election year spectacle, pounded the Republicans and President Bush. Republicans so angered, yea incensed, with her rantings and Democrats indignant over their perceived forced support for the package turned it down by twelve votes, votes that had already been tallied in the “Yes” column. Then, as we know, all Hell broke loose.

I certainly blame the Republicans and the Democrats as much as their less than illustrious leader for voting the bill down and causing the single greatest loss in the history of the New York Stock Exchange. We then heard that thousands of our great (and mostly ill informed) citizens e-mailed, telephoned and faxed in their condemnation of the package which in their estimation would only bail out those who had caused the problem in the first place. Yikes!

Ignorant perspectives like that and the reality that much of the deregulation which actually started around 1990 was coupled with apathy from the Fed who in a generous non-partisan spirit failed to perceive the risk along with our highly touted representatives in Congress, both Republican and Democrat. Yes, it was a consensus and everybody can accept part of the blame.

The real test was whether our representatives in Congress would accept the terrible burden of voting on an issue of greatest importance to the stability of our country or capitulating to the partisan ramblings from their mostly ignorant constituencies. Yes, it’s an election year and most are scared of getting voted out of office rather than voting in the best interests of their country and, frankly, the world. They are paid to make sometimes unpopular and difficult decisions – for the good of the many.

Today the market rebounded gaining almost 500 of those 777 lost points back. That rebound was due mostly to the optimism that Congress was going to do “something” soon and the money and action of the smartest among us who seeing an incredible bargin bought low and made a lot of money today.

This whole issue could ultimately put more money in our treasury and it’s sad that many don’t have the basic math skills in order to comprehend that the issue is really the difference between the market value of the properties in question and any potential loss/gain.

Now, what do we do about the members of Congress who failed to vote for the recovery package? You can fix stupid by voting them out of office. Thankfully, both Obama and McCain both ardently support the bill and demonstrated an admirable spirit of cooperation amidst the turmoil. It would appear, however, that despite Pelosi’s predictable bad judgment (as if she ever had any good qualities) the Republicans with their incredible showboating and bad judgment just lost the presidency.

Yep, you sure can fix stupid…. Too bad the elections aren't sooner for if a recovery package isn't passed soon, we'll all be slurping thin gruel whilst in pursuit of our own happiness - anticipatng the great Yellowstone Super Volcano...


Ned Buxton

Saturday, September 20, 2008


With Hurricane Gustav exited and just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, Hurricane Ike pounded the Texas coast on Saturday September 13th inflicting heavy and catastrophic damage to Galveston and many other portions of south east Texas. Residents of Galveston were even warned by the National Weather Service that they may "face certain death" should they stay in defiance of mandatory evacuation orders given by Galveston part-time and unpaid Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas. Many stayed, however, and remain so presenting a conundrum for city, state and federal officials. That too will resolve itself. A large number of residents who did not heed the order to evacuate in advance of the storm are still missing. Local officials have even speculated that many may have been washed out to sea. We sure hope that they are found alive and well.

Many shelters remain open throughout the State of Texas including many in the DFW area. The Dallas Convention Center remains the lynchpin of the sheltering effort, having entertained just under 1,500 evacuees following landfall. As of today some 630 evacuees remain as the daily population fluctuates back and forth as people alternately arrive from the Texas coast even as others try and return home (to what?).

Authorities caution returning residents that there is no power; non existent or, at best, limited sewer services and spotty water utilities (among other challenges) that await residents when they start to return next week. I guess I ask myself why were evacuees allowed en masse back in (even for a look) when it was obviously hampering the recovery efforts well underway by FEMA and the State of Texas? Yea, I guess that I would want to know what happened to my home and my possessions, but reason has to prevail here… Perhaps a neighborhood by neighborhood survey by residents would keep the roads open and allow bona fide residents to evaluate their property and retrieve belongings for what will surely be a long recovery period. That is apparently the tact that Galveston is now taking allowing residents of the least damaged and ultimately the areas most devastated to “look and leave” in distinct phases.

Reports are filtering out now that returning residents and first responders have gotten ill from the Galveston situation exacerbated by the lack of sanitary facilities and the insidious fungus and mold that always follows floods. I remember the floods in Gainesville and Sherman, Texas last year and becoming ill when we were doing damage assessments. The black mold has this terrible acrid smell that almost seems to block out the ability to breathe. The reality of this soon transcends the heart breaking emotion of “getting back home” and all you want to do is get away…

As with most post disasters we now are seeing the finger pointers and spin doctors coming out of the woodwork and from under their rocks. Many now allege that Mayor Thomas didn’t order a mandatory evacuation when it appears from the new stories we saw here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, that she did. At least I couldn’t find any documentation where she was alleged to have advised her residents to “hunker down”.

This is all reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina when the City of New Orleans and State of Louisiana miserably failed their constituencies immediately prior to and following Katrina while FEMA and other organizations waited for permissions to enter the area. We have since cut through all that BS with local and state authorities almost eagerly waiting on their hot lines to declare a disaster and request Federal assistance.

The post Ike reaction has all the hype and spin of a post Katrina event with little substance, rather vulgar, pointless posts and Internet gibberish. At any rate both New Orleans and the State of Louisiana have done a great job since. The point here is a thoughtful analysis of the situation in Galveston is surely in order but not the maniacal ramblings of an ill informed or agenda driven public.

Let’s concentrate on getting resources to those affected by this disaster and then engage some planning that will allow for a greener and smarter community and minimize the affects of the next “big one.”

I want to thank evacuee Tessie for presenting me with a pink heart at the Dallas Convention Center earlier this week and a happy face on my ID and photograph. It was an improvement. Hope your life returns to normal real soon…


Ned Buxton

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Well, we finally entertained well over one thousand evacuees from southeast Texas and from all over the state of Louisiana at the Dallas Convention Center. While there was some credible damage, we were relieved that Gustav did not become the great threat that was anticipated and that damage to individual and commercial interests was not catastrophic. This proved to be a great test for the new response mechanism on the local, state and national levels. All agree that we passed with flying colors. I give Mayor Nagin, Governors Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal and FEMA and all their partners excellent marks.

The City of Dallas, Texas and the Dallas Area Chapter of the American Red Cross (DARC) and the Salvation Army and their Volunteers need to be thanked for their conscientious and humanitarian response. A lot of folks gave up their Labor Day holiday to address a much higher calling. Kudos go out to many of the EDS/HP Employees and folks from other companies, churches, schools and other community organizations that volunteered with the Dallas Area Red Cross chapter under their Ready When the Time Comes Program (RWTC).

RWTC is a community volunteer program that literally taps the Human Resources of Corporate America and other community organizations. Participating organizations commit to making a certain number of Employees available for voluntary service of at least one day per year. In many cases (not unlike Jury Duty or other public service) companies continue to pay wages to their Employee Volunteers.

The American Red Cross then trains Employees from partnering entities and mobilizes them as a community-based volunteer force when disaster strikes. RWTC Volunteers are trained by DARC on Shelter Operations and then undergo background checks, a requisite for DARC and RWTC service.

This has allowed DARC to have an even greater number of ready and well-trained Volunteers who can be immediately mobilized and like other DARC Volunteers, can step in and provide a credible, high level service to the community when disasters strike (and they do).

A great story went unreported in the wake of Hurricane Gustav and you will learn of it here and now. Following Gustav’s landfall on the Louisiana coast, WFAA-TV and other local Dallas, Texas TV and radio stations put out erroneous on-air messages that the Red Cross desperately needed Volunteers for our shelters prompting a generous outpouring of Dallas Citizenry. I personally related to around thirty-five of these incredibly motivated folks who unfortunately had to be turned away from Convention Center since they did not have basic ARC training and the requisite background check. Do not despair, though, for they were directed to the DARC headquarters where we hope many took advantage of special Boot Camps that put qualified Volunteers in positions where they could assist their communities.

The bottom line is that well trained and vetted Volunteers ready to be deployed in times of disaster are/will be desperately needed. If you are a Corporation (large or small), Church, Mosque, Synagogue, any community organization, or just any group that wants to give back to their community and be part of the solution, then the Ready When The Time Comes Program is your answer.

Richard L. Keyser, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Grainger, a major supporter of the American Red Cross, nails the motivation for organizational involvement in ARC and RWTC.

“In our experience, the benefits of philanthropy definitely outweigh the costs. I’m proud to be part of a company so dedicated to being an active contributor to our community. I’m also proud of Grainger’s affiliation with the American Red Cross and look forward to continuing our partnership in the years to come.

As the Red Cross continues to strengthen disaster preparedness and response in our communities, there will be more opportunities for partnerships. For those efforts to be successful, businesses need to accept the responsibility that comes with having significant resources at their disposal. The Red Cross needs creative ideas and dedicated support. They need businesses both large and small to play critical roles. What part will you play?”

So, if you are part of a group of like-minded folks, please call your local chapter of the American Red Cross and inquire about participating in the Ready When the Time Comes Program. Yes, Hurricane Ike is on the way…


Ned Buxton