Friday, September 02, 2005

"The City That Care Forgot"?

The news coming from New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina seems to get sadder and more disheartening by the minute. Stories of dead bodies being left to rot, with sheets thrown over them or pushed against walls. Children sleeping in pools of urine. It looks like martial law is about ten seconds from being declared.

But what's truly more revolting? The near-third-world conditions in the Gulf Coast region? That virtually everyone left to drown appears to be black and poor? Or the turtle-like response to the disaster by higher government?

♦ The title of today's post comes from a Los Angeles Times editorial by former New York Times executive editor Howell Raines.

♦ Here's the lead from Paul Krugman's column in today's New York Times: "Before 9/11 the Federal Emergency Management Agency listed the three most likely catastrophic disasters facing America: a terrorist attack on New York, a major earthquake in San Francisco and a hurricane strike on New Orleans."

♦ When did Katrina hit the Gulf Coast? Monday. When did President Bush cut his vacation short? Wednesday. When did he visit the disaster sites? Friday. "Not acceptable," indeed, Mr. President.

♦ What does New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin think of the federal government's response? "Don't tell me 40,000 people are coming here. They're not here. It's too doggone late. Now get off your asses and do something, and let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country." Read the transcript.

♦ Check out this remark from a chat by columnist Marc Fisher: "Bush has once again decided to treat Americans like schoolchildren, making this crisis sound like someone else's problem, one that we can help by writing a check instead of one that we all need to address through common sacrifice and effort." Yowch.

♦ An example of President Bush talking to us like schoolchildren? How about telling the American people "Don't buy gas unless you need it"?

♦ Wouldn't you like to punch Dennis Hastert in the face for saying rebuilding New Orleans "doesn't make sense"? Where does the line for that start?

♦ Oh wait, Hastert realized what an asshole he was to say that. What a stand-up guy. "I am not advocating that the city be abandoned or relocated," he said.

But hey, you did say, "It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed"? Where does that line start again?

♦ Those in power who say such a disaster couldn't have been anticipated apparently didn't read a five-part series in the Times-Picayune of New Orleans titled "Washing Away." The articles explicitly detailed the damage that could be suffered if a hurricane was to directly hit the region.

In other words, the series almost exactly predicted what's happened. When was that series published? 2002.

♦ Actually, it appears that such dire predictions were taken seriously. But the money needed to research possible plans, along with boosting the levee and pumping systems in areas such as New Orleans, was severely undercut, in favor of funding the war in Iraq.

Salon's King Kaufman asks an interesting question. Why aren't sporting events being suspended this weekend, as they were in the wake of 9-11? That seemed like a no-brainer at the time, but Kaufman is the first person I've seen to even approach the subject now.

(Image via the Associated Press)