I went out with some co-workers last night, and even though I managed to eke out something resembling a good time, I was distracted the entire time. Same with work yesterday. I didn't get anything done. All I could do was surf various news Web sites, reading about what's happening in New Orleans. And then I would have to stop for awhile, because I would become too angry. It made me physically ill to read about the thousands of people who are either wandering around in confusion or trapped inside "safe havens" like the Superdome. Today I read about the children who were raped and murdered this week right under the noses of thousands of refugees in the Superdome. How they still, six days later, have no food and no water. How the U.S. government is keeping them trapped inside, refusing to allow anyone to leave. Anyone who wants to escape the rape and the killing and the abuse and the indignity and health hazard of lying in their own excrement is unable to. They're forced to remain at gunpoint.
You want to know how bad it is down there? So bad that even Fox News appears to be covering the events in a fair and balanced manner for once. Crooks and Liars has this amazing footage of Shepard Smith and Geraldo Rivera trying to break through Sean Hannity's thick head and explain to him the gross situation in New Orleans. Hannity, who looks as though he could care less, keeps trying to move the conversation back to GOP talking points, but, to their credit, Smith and Rivera refuse to budge. Television journalism has never been worse than it is right now, but seeing Smith and Rivera stand up and tell it like it really is, not how Fox News wants it to be, makes me believe that perhaps the news business can be saved. I don't doubt that both correspondents will have some nasty memos waiting for them when this crisis is over--nobody criticizes the Bush administration, directly or indirectly, on Fox News and walks away unscathed (after another Fox News pundit criticized Bush's reluctance to cut short his vacation, GOP toadie Brit Hume changed the subject)--but these guys have earned my respect today. Heck, I'm still trying to figure out how these guys and their satellite trucks were able to get through to the "frontlines", while government rescue units have not.
If there's any silver lining in all this, it is that it should sound the death knell for the Republicans' dominance of Washington politics. For too long, the Republican-dominated Congress and the Bush White House have fucked over innocent, decent Americans who just want to live their private lives knowing that, if something of a catastrophic nature occurs, the federal government--whose only job is to protect its citizenry--has their backs. George Bush does not have anyone's back but his own and those of his cronies. If there's anybody who can list three things that Bush has done during his presidency to improve the quality of life for lower- and middle-class Americans, I'd like to hear them. He certainly has done a lot to worsen life--siding with credit card companies and made it more difficult for people to declare bankruptcy, refuse to better the health care system, plunge the national deficit to a new low, not to mention sending billions of dollars and thousands of Americans overseas to fight a war that was unnecessary and unwanted.
Believe this--much of the death and destruction we have seen in New Orleans could have been avoided if the Bush administration and his cronies had not spent the last five years with their heads up their asses. For one thing, the head of FEMA, under Clinton, was a Cabinet-level position. When Bush took office, he removed that position from his Cabinet. In fact, he removed several well-qualified high-level FEMA employees and replaced them with buddies of his who were not qualified. Then, when he established the Department of Homeland Security (yeah, New Orleans was real secure), he foolishly folded FEMA into it while cutting FEMA's budget drastically.
Something else you should know--we knew this would happen. Everything that has occured as a result of Katrina was known in advance by scientists who ran practice drills and full-scale simulations and laid out very specific measures that needed to be taken in case a storm hit New Orleans. They predicted exactly would happen in the case of a disaster like Katrina. But what did our government do to prepare? Nothing. Both FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers were stricken with massive budget cuts that left them without the ability to do their jobs. And now thousands in Louisiana are paying the price.
This is a disaster that we knew what was coming. Ask yourself what would have happened if a terrorist attack like 9/11 had occurred in New Orleans? Things down there would be a LOT worse than they are. Do you feel safer now than you did before 9/11/01? Bullshit, I sure don't. Do you believe that the terrorists overseas are too afraid of George Bush to launch another 9/11 attack? Those fuckers can get CNN. They are watching and taking careful study of how incompetently the U.S. government is handling the New Orleans situation. They know that Bush and his cronies of old, angry, white men in Washington were and are ill-prepared to handle a national emergency of this magnitude. Four years after a similar catastrophe struck New York City, and emergency procedures have not improved. Indeed, they appear to be worse. And it won't be lost on our dark-skinned enemies in the Middle East that a great majority of those who are suffering are dark-skinned themselves.