Friday, September 02, 2005

Defending Anger

Any number of bloggers were letting our senior Senator have it following an interview with Anderson Cooper when she supposedly seemed, for lack of a better term, lethargic...I didn't see the interview (Crooks & Liars has the video, Think Progress has a transcript)--so I'm witholding any opinion, although a comment I read is probably spot on: come election time, don't be surprised to see the GOP blaming Blanco and Landrieu for the slow response.

And Landrieu shouldn't expect much defense from the Democratic wing of the Democratic party, judging from comments.

Anyway, I'm not here to praise or excoriate Senator Landrieu--like I said, I didn't see the interview, and haven't had time to watch it (and I'm trying to balance work, some important personal stuff...and yeah, writing some posts). However, whether or not Landrieu is playing the chump, the truth is the response to Hurricane Katrina HAS been achingly, painfully slow. Slow like trying to download the entire Bob Dylan album Bringing it all Back Home on a 14.4 modem slow--Atrios has some comparisons to crises distant and recent (the Berlin airlift and the tsunami), and the latest response is found wanting, especially considering that while the storm came upon the city relatively quick by hurricane standards, there was still a window of some 72 hours prior to it arriving when preparations could--and should--have been implemented. And LET'S ALL hope that the contingencies involved more than contraflow.

Furthermore, a couple of things are becoming glaringly apparent: first, BASIC matters like levee maintenence/upgrades were placed on the federal administration (one benefit of reading YRHT on a regular basis is that Oyster often points out very good books to read like Rising Tide, which, among other things, notes the Federal role in constructing and maintaining levees. And, as cited below, the Federal government basically gave NOLA the finger in recent years when it came to such projects.

Now, the city itself isn't blameless--last night I put in a post arguing that the city should have, at the very least, attempted to press buses into service BEFORE the storm--and, despite it not even being on the radar screen, should have DEMANDED additional Amtrak runs to evacuate people (which would've had the added benefit of not congesting traffic any further). Pre-positioning of troops might have also been beneficial in both rescues and looting prevention, although, again, it's one of those ugly unspoken (except by those of us on the progressive side of things) facts that the LNG is over in Iraq right now.

This morning Ray Nagin finally gave in to what must be a massive sized lump of anger welling up inside--whether this manages to accomplish anything remains to be seen. And, sorry to place the two in the same paragraph, but NOLA writer Schroeder likewise is furious...and it was in reading his post today that I began to think about what I'm writing now...

Schroeder has a right to be furious--for that matter, a LOT of people have the right to be VERY angry at the way this disaster has been handled once nature's fury passed. As citizens of this nation, we should EXPECT our government to respond--and respond quickly--to calamities like this--that's WHY we pay taxes, that's WHY we have institutions like FEMA, Homeland Security, the National Guard, the police, and so on. Taxes paid by New Orleanians--and by Louisianians, AND by citizens of the entire nation SHOULD have been used for levee maintenence, given the vital role New Orleans plays in our nation. NOLA ain't just the city of sin. It's a major port, and vital to the nation's security (um oil anyone?)...

Coming into work, I was considering all this--and further considering the way special interests like corporations have, for YEARS, been cajoling, bullying, and purchasing their way into government in order to fund or finance THEIR pet programs, while simultaneously demanding--and often enough, demanding in ways every bit as loud as Nagin did this morning--that THEY be catered to in the form of reduced taxes, sweetheart deals, etc. etc. Their demands are incessant--and, you know what? They tend to get their way.

Maybe it's all the money...or maybe it's the fact that they own the government...or maybe it's that they constantly shout at the top of their lungs, drowning out all other voices. Whatever it is--maybe a combination--it works for them.

And that's why I'm glad to see Schroeder get angry. I'm glad Nagin shouted out. Even as I'm appalled by the scene at the Convention Center--just unbelievable--AND throughout the city, likewise--I'm glad that some decided to shout as loud as they could, because right now--RIGHT NOW--they need help. And I'm appalled that the government's response was so weak...I'm also appalled that the government's preparation was also so weak.

Perhaps this disaster--and the way it affected so many normal, ordinary people--people who don't have the money to throw in armfuls to the politicians--will serve as a wake up call to those who pander for our votes while selling us down the river. And if the disaster in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama manages to wake folks up, then, while it won't compensate for those who've lost family and loved ones (or property) it might serve as a way to honor those we've lost, or those who've lost everything--particularly in these times.

(note: sorry for the late start--I've been very busy here).

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