an elegy too soon...,
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sometimes you get what you pray for...,
keeping up with the weather:
much via talk left and gary farber: National Guard gives special preference to 700 Hyatt Hotel guests - including dry, well-fed city mayor and city personel who didn't have the decency to be the last ones off the ship; Bush still making time for recess appointments on Wednesday; Red Cross prevented from delivering aid to New Orleans while five days later people are still waiting for evacuation; FEMA ignores assistance offered by my mayor; National Guard predicts 'a Little Somalia'; FEMA responds as though it was chemical warfare, demonstrating that it has been re-organized to respond to terrorist attacks we've never seen over responding to natural disasters we see pretty much every year.
We're from the government, and we're here to help:
There have been numerous scatterings of reports of situations in which citizens have been prevented from helping flood victims by the government, perhaps the most plain example would be Algiers - an unflooded neighborhood in New Orleans that still has water and phone service, but for which aid was suspended for Bush's press conferences - not being allowed to take people in. Early in the flood I saw images on CNN of whole lots filled with schoolbusses that were under water: both the busses and the victims could have been saved.
[update: there they are:
The Lord of Flies situation - so far as I can tell fostered entirely by a few bands of armed miscreants ("There are a lot of gangs out here in the water"), a lone mystery sniper, confused clashes between people and cops armed to protect themselves from the alleged bands of armed miscreants, and 'zero tolerance' for people foraging for basic supplies - that developed was as much the creation of government as it was the lack of it.
I think Thomas Knapp put it pretty well:
What began as a severe humanitarian emergency has now metamorphosed into nothing less than politicians threatening American citizens with murder by American soldiers to make up for the fact that government wasn't ready or prepared to do the things that it has always claimed only government can do.
I don't understand the scattering of liberals who conclude from these events to ideological effect that 'big government is back': we've got big government, big incompetent government that obstructed the competence of the governed.
'politicizing' is how stuff gets done:
Nothing motivates the political leadership in this country like looking bad in front of the only voters they actually care about: the ones who pay for their marketing campaigns, and rather less so in proportion to the payments the quarter or less that bother to vote for them.
For all the demonstrations of FEMA's incompetence and the incompetent Bush appointees at the head of it - and the nanny-state preventing people from taking any kind of independent action for their own good 'for their own good' even while the government, in return, does nothing to help them (thank god for big government!) - the original idiocy of this was not having an organized evacuation effort for the city's poor prior to the goddam storm.
Then there was the subsequent idiocy of sending out a parade of high government officials for the past week to congratulate eachother on a 'job well done', thanking eachother by name like they've just recieved the fucking Oscar, all the time explaining that people they themselves classified as "immobile" had 'chosen to stay'.
These jackasses did almost nothing but obstruct other people's efforts while starting to "rescue" people by leaving them stranded in large mobs without supplies for four days. If not for the immensely bad press generated even by FOX ("politicizing" the tradgedy, oh no! how the fuck else do you get the government to do anything useful?) you'd still have politicians lining up at press conferences to congratulate their allies in making the disaster worse and 20,000 people rotting in that dome without food or water, rather than the present 2,000.
2,000, who for some unknown reason may not be evacuated from the dome until tomorrow because somebody apparently issued an order to stop the busses.
update: I see, it's triage: because they didn't start evacuating the 25,000 at the convention center until today.
update (sunday): apparently one the first things the Bush administration did as an emergency response to the destruction was playing the blame game, utilizing the mouthpiece press, thankyou. There is, of course, plenty of blame to be passed around - whoever had the authority to requisition those busses and request more of them, nevermind putting amtrak to use, for a real evacuation and did not do so should to be strung up - but the buck stops with those who claimed the authority.