Saturday, September 03, 2005

cruel summer

call it the natural disaster blues. hurricane katrina nearbly obliterates new orleans. the levees break, as has been predicted and fretted over and argued about for some time now in the funds-wrangling arena, where "what have you done for me lately?" is a far more compelling question than "what will you do if the worst comes to pass?" yet-uncounted thousands die, hundreds of thousands more suffer horribly, needlessly, before the usual government disaster forces are mobilized. does the sluggishness have anything to do with the population of new orleans being 70% black? kanye west shouted it to the world -- righteous! -- george bush doesn't care about black people. but part of me just goes ... yeah, well, of course he doesn't. he doesn't care about anybody except his base and his little power group. and even the ones on the inside are only good as long as they follow along. get out of line and you will be run over or pushed out.

which is not to say that racism wasn't a factor. not at all. but what about class? and other, more sinister motivations that supersede the usual persecutions of other? bush ... he cares so little for the black people, or any of the people, suffering in the aftermath of katrina (not just the ones in NOLA, either), that he thought the occasion really called for a folksy little joke about (a) trent lott losing his house and (b) trent lott getting an even more fabulous new house, where dubya could come visit. way to make the big things small, mr. president.

stuff like this makes me truly believe that, to GW, people are abstractions. he really seems to have no empathy. as though he can't quite grasp that other people are human. i think this inability (or unwillingness) to connect to the populace is also evident in the sense that he continues to believe that saying blatantly false things like "i don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees" and doublespeak-tastic stuff like "i am satisfied with the response, i am not satisfied with all of the results" is really gonna get him and his cronies off the hook. the american people may have fallen for that WMD crap once, but they finally have been more demanding about and critical of iraq. think we're gonna back down when it's our own country going to ruin and disgrace? think all those affected are just gonna go, "oh, well, then -- nobody knew what would happen. well, you did the best you could. thanks for the response." those days are over, at least for now. the weasel is turning, at last.

OTOH, dubya is far from alone in his lack of empathy. survivors in new orleans have been excoriated by everyone from media commentators to average people for not leaving when they were ordered to. ok, sure -- there were bound to be some people who stayed behind by choice. but a lot of them didn't choose to stay. and some who did choose to stay were thinking they could ride it out, like they'd often done before. so, they made the wrong call. i just don't think that making the wrong choice -- even if it's b/c they are stupid or uneducated and don't understand all the variables involved in their choice -- makes somebody a bad person. (is this why bush can't admit to making a mistake? b/c only bad people make mistakes? confusing...) but it would seem that a lot of my fellow americans do.

anyway, there's also been the predictable lack of sympathy from various alleged men of god -- you know, new orleans was a harbor of sin just waiting to be cleansed by the lord's hand, and all that. darker minds speculate that, not only being unsympathetic, the administration in fact happily delayed heroic measures or even showing much concern -- i mean, condi kept on shopping in the free world! it's almost outrageous, except after all this time i expect no less than utter indifference from bush's people -- b/c NOLA is a democratic ripple in the republicans' endeavors to control the south outright. someone even said halliburton will get the contract to rebuild the city. i am not sure it was a joke.

and then there are the media. a black man is "looting," white people are "finding" -- but there's no bias. (story courtesy doc40.) see, the white people really did just pick up the soda and the bread that floated by. the story, so quick to justify the use of the milder verb in the white people's case, doesn't offer any explanation of what the black guy was doing. leaving us with the impression, of course, that the caption-writer/photographer was justified in saying he was "looting." whether or not that is the case, however, is purely speculation.

ah, but by far my favorite so far from the fourth estate (print edition -- i have no stomach to watch this on TV, and i'm not talking about the carnage) is this graf from a reuters report today:

After a nightmare confluence of natural disaster and political ineptitude that al Qaeda-linked Web sites called the "wrath of God" striking America, National Guard troops and U.S. marshals patrolled streets stricken in the days after the hurricane by anarchic violence and looting.

oh, yes, al qaeda is mocking us! don't forget it! they are reveling in our suffering!! (never mind about our own preachers saying the same shit.) see how much they hate our freedom?

good job, media lapdogs. keep your eyes on that prize and remind us at every turn about that war on terror. it's costing us a bundle, you know ... and people like the war on terror way better than the war in iraq. so we can't have it slipping in the ratings just yet.

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