Thursday, September 01, 2005

New Orleans Horror

What is there to say about New Orleans other than to express horror and shock at what is going on there now? The poor people who have been trapped, many of them in the Super Dome and the Civic Center where they were told to go; now there for three days with little or no food and water, did nothing to deserve this. The apparent lack of planning or coordination by the Department of Homeland Security is scarey. I heard the mayor of New Orleans angrily say yesterday that there are too many cooks in the kitchen. He had given orders for helicopters to drop sandbags in the breaches in the levies, but the helicopters were diverted to other things. This was a natural disaster that had been predicted generally for years and specifically for days before it happened. How will the Bush Administration cope with another terrorist attack, which will likely come with little warning? The reallocation of resources by the Bush Administration from FEMA, the federal agency dealing with emergencies to pay for its tax cuts and Iraq adventure is scandalous. I doubt that there is any politician with enough guts to say that New Orleans should not be rebuilt, but should revert to the swamp and low lands that nature intended for that area, but that is what should happen, in my opinion.


Amish nomad said...

I'm "across the pond" so I don't have much direct contact with American mass media or public opinion. However, I read a fascinating online article about this disaster's unmentionable "elephant in the living room": the race and class of those suffering. America's nordic television reporters studiously avoid any reference to the very obvious class or race of the victims.

This is NOT simply a natural disaster. There have been many warnings about what would happen. Louisiana politicians tried to get funds for planning and prevention. Bill Clinton professionalized FEMA (one of his few actions to receive bi-partisan praise). Unfortunately, George W. Bush immediately turned FEMA back into a pasture for Republican political hacks. Bush even cut the minimal funds for improving New Orleans' levees. This disaster is not an act of God but the results of evil choices by Republican politicians.

Now, I've read that little George has asked for his Dad and Bill Clinton to help him with this mess. Several weeks ago, as the first big hurricane of the season swept through the Caribbean and across Cuba, I watched the Cuban channel on our apartment's satellite television. There was a live broadcast of Fidel hunkered down in a bunker somewhere and, with Clintonian charm & intelligence, continually telephoning to local community officials affected by the hurricane. Many, many problems have resulted from Fidel trying to be Cuba's big papa. However, it is amazing to see a smart, charismatic politician who immediately takes direct responsibility for helping his country respond to natural forces. Cuba is regularly swept by hurricanes; but, because of the communist goverment's obsession---I know: oppressive obsession---with public organization and community actions; Cuba, in comparison with other Caribbean countries, has minimal lives lost from "acts of God".

Amishlaw said...

It was fun watching the press conference announcing that Clinton and Bush the Elder were going to make an appeal for private donations. Papa Bush was scrunched right up next to Sonny with a scowl on his face, reading over his son's shoulder as Sonny assured the American people that he cares and that help is on the way. It looked like the senior Bush wanted to push his son aside and take over.

amish nomad said...

As I understand it, five days after the hurricane hit, Bush will be visiting the Gulf coast. In this country's morning news, a reporter in the USA noted, "When a hurricane hit wealthy whites in Florida, Bush visited the scene within 24 hours. But, of course, that was before the 2004 elections."

Anonymous said...

I did not miss the fact that brother Jeb's state has received much pre-hurricane attention in the past as well as prompt mobilization of FEMA resources for events that didn't occur or barely grazed their landscape. In contrast I'm hearing and reading that pre-hurricane offers to FEMA were declined as the power of this hurricane was building offshore.

Commentary on BBC radio this AM addressed the fact that Americans take pride in the idea that we can manage on our own. How tragically we have been proven otherwise. It would seem that our leaders have been blinded by terrorism and involvement in Iraq/Afghanistan and lost sight of more manageable needs. Almost anyone would admit that terrorism cannot really be prevented but a prompt response in the Gulf Coast of the US could have saved many.