Sunday, September 04, 2005

photo ops while cities suffer

Have you seen this commentary from LA Sen. Mary Landreiu:

“I understand that the U.S. Forest Service had water-tanker aircraft available to help douse the fires raging on our riverfront, but FEMA has yet to accept the aid. When Amtrak offered trains to evacuate significant numbers of victims – far more efficiently than buses – FEMA again dragged its feet. Offers of medicine, communications equipment and other desperately needed items continue to flow in, only to be ignored by the agency.

“But perhaps the greatest disappointment stands at the breached 17th Street levee. Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment. The good and decent people of southeast Louisiana and the Gulf Coast – black and white, rich and poor, young and old – deserve far better from their national government.

Or this, in Biloxi, as reported by German TV ZDF (copied from The Carpetbagger Report; a slightly different translation is at DailyKos):

On the ZDF web site, see

video is here

text is here

The relevent paragraphs are labeled
"Räumarbeiten nur für Bush?" My (non-expert)
translation follows.

Wo der US-Präsident das Katastrophengebiet besuchte, räumten Hilfstrupps vorher ordentlich auf - aber nur dort. Aus Biloxi zitierte ZDF-Korrespondentin Claudia Rüggeberg verzweifelte Einwohner, Bush solle in seinen Limousinen statt lauter Bodyguards und Assistenten lieber Hilfsgüter herbeischaffen.
Entlang seiner Route hätte Räumtrupps vor Bushs Besuch Schutt weggeräumt und Leichen geborgen. Dann sei Bush wieder abgereist "und mit ihm", so Rüggeberg, "die ganzen Hilfstrupps". An der Lage in Biloxi habe sich sonst nichts verändert, es fehle an allem.

Whevever the US President Bush in the catastrophie
area visited, helpers cleaned up beforhand, but
only there. In Biloxi, ZDF correspondent
Claudia Rüggeberg quoted demoralized residents
who said that Bush should bring food and water
in his limosine instead of bodyguards and

All along his route, before his visit,
debri was cleared and bodies removed. Then
Bush travelled on and with him, according to
Rüggeberg, the entire troup of helpers.
As for the situation in Biloxi, otherwise
nothing changed, everthing is lacking.

I don't know German, but my stepmother IS German, so I'm going to send this text to her for translation. If it's very different, I'll post it here.

Fucking incredible. Bush and his stage managers piss me off so much I don't even have words for it. Both of these events are crass frat-boy selfishness on Bush's part, but SO typical of his entire admin. Make it look like things are getting done, but when the cameras shut down, go back to playing games and leave the suffering to the everyday people he abuses. How come there are prison terms for spousal abuse and child abuse and animal abuse but not nation abuse?

When the people in danger are once again in a position resembling stability and safety, We the People need to do some homeowrk and find criminal charges to throw at Bush and company. One that seems plausible is negligent homicide, defined generally as "Unintentional killing(s) in which the actor(s) should have known they were creating substantial and unjustified risks of death by conduct that grossly deviated from ordinary care." Ordinary care in this case would've meant funding the levee reinforcements, ensuring the poor city folks had a practical form of transportation out of the city, ensuring the Guard and supplies got into the city without delay immediately afterward and other things. This horror, as I noted in a previous post, had been predicted in detail years ago, and those warnings were ignored.

What excuse does FEMA have for dilly-dallying? Other than its leader's ineptitude, I mean.

According to the N.O. Times-Picayune, LA is turning to a real FEMA administrator to clean up the mess, rather than some shmuck who got fired from tending horses:

Blanco Appoints Witt

Gov. Kathleen Blanco has appointed former FEMA Director James Lee Witt as a special adviser to help her manage the recovery and restoration efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Witt was FEMA director under former President Clinton, serving in that position from 1993-2001.


From Der Speigel's English version (the quote's from the cover story):

This isn't just any old city sinking into the water like some reincarnated Atlantis before the eyes of a horrified and still seemingly paralyzed America. It's one of America's legendary cities. It's New Orleans, "The Big Easy," the place Americans have always flocked to whenever they wanted to get a dose of sinful pleasure in the Deep South, a place whose seemingly well-functioning multiculturalism, whose largely harmonious blend of black, white and Latino has always been a beacon for the rest of the world.

I've always wanted to see that, but now doubt I will. We all hear talk of rebuilding N.O., but I'm not sure that makes much sense where it is. Maybe we should rebuild on the other side of Lake Pontchartrain, where the land's a lot more stable, and build a big canal from there to the Mississippi River for the boat traffic. Since the French Quarter was largely unflooded, maybe that area can be cleaned up and reinhabited as a town in its own right.

Given people's tendency to be rather superstitious about visiting places of terrible calamity, it will take a long time for N.O. to get back on its feet even if it is rebuilt, and that points to something that hasn't gotten much discussion yet. That city, and LA in general, benefited hugely from tourism. Was that included in the official pronouncements that Katrina wouldn't have a long-term economic effect on America? As usual, they're talking just about money (even if it is $100 BILLION and rising), not about the impossible to measure things that make up the culture of such a city as N.O and the other devastated areas. It's almost impossible to rebuild that, because it wasn't manufactured; it evolved over 200+ years.

Also, did they include the ripple effects on such things as food prices? Probably not.

NOTE: Biloxi & negiligent homicide material added Monday early AM. I had to convert Carpetbagger's original written-out links to hyperlinks to make them fit.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home