As if you were really interested, here's how I write this Sunday column. Throughout the preceding week, I gather bits and pieces of news articles that catch my eye. They might be funny or sad. They might be uplifting or depressing. Truth is, you never know what is going to attract your attention.
This week was no exception. Except this week the tone was outrage. Maybe that's too harsh. The news I gathered this past week, let's just call it frustrating.
For starters, Virginia Sen. Jim Webb was selected to give the Democratic response to the President's State of the Union address on Tuesday. Webb did the usual partisan hatchet-job declaring that everything President Bush offered was useless and without merit. But then Webb hit on the familiar liberal theme that the President had done little to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The Democrats hope to keep this myth alive through the 2008 elections.
So here's my frustration. We taxpayers in just under 18 months since the hurricane struck have provided $100 billion in federal assistance. That does not include the billions in private funds donated to the area. That also does not include the millions of manhours donated by private citizens who wanted to help. All combined you have about $10 billion a month going to the Gulf Coast region to rebuild following the hurricane.
Now I don't know about Sen. Webb, but to me, that's a pretty amazing response to a natural disaster. But I suspect that $500 billion or a trillion dollars would not satisfy those who want to point the finger of blame for political gain. If the Senator and his party want to blame the Bush administration, I'm sure there are ample opportunities. But hurricane relief funding just won't fly as an argument and the Democrats should eat their words.
OK, on to other frustrations.
Violence between Hispanic and black gangs in Los Angeles has reached record levels. An increase of Hispanics into former black neighborhoods is the apparent reason for the gang-related murders and violence. The numbers are staggering.
But when we look for a solution, we always arrive at the same tired and useless target - jobs. Social scientists in Los Angeles say if more jobs were available, then the violence would end. They are wrong. They ignore the true root of the problem. The path to diversity is littered with failed solutions.
If every gang member in Los Angeles were offered a good paying job tomorrow, the violence would continue. Until we recognize cultural differences we'll never get serious about hate-related violence. We can talk jobs and education all day long. But we're looking in the wrong direction. You'd think by now we would recognize the truth.
And finally, one more frustration.
Tennessee Democrat Stephen Cohen is as white and liberal as you can be. But his Congressional district is a majority African-American. Cohen pledged during the campaign, that if elected he would seek to become the first white member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Well, Cohen won his election. But he's changed his mind. Actually, others have changed it for him.
One by one, members of the Black Caucus told Cohen that they didn't think it best for him to become a member of their group. Their by-laws permit inclusion for everyone but Cohen quickly got the message. A majority of Cohen's staff, including his chief of staff, are African-Americans. That matters little. Members of the Black Caucus said that they will likely campaign against Cohen in the next election. It seems they admire his politics but are less friendly toward his color.
You see, if you read enough you too will get frustrated. Maybe even outraged.