Monday, August 28, 2006

Something Conspicuously Missing

This Modern World has a Katrina Timeline up, including YouTube videos of various news coverage of Katrina from a year ago. I remember what I was doing a year ago, as Katrina swept down on the Gulf Coast -- I was sitting here at my desk, studiously ignoring my "real work" in favour of ultra-intensive media monitoring. I was collecting literally hundreds of newspaper articles, wire photos, and other miscellania, plus perusing the boards at Weather Underground and nola.com. I couldn't really get too close to the actual action, as I'm quite physically far away, although Katrina did spin off a really nasty band of thunderstorms that wound up marching across the continent in a diagonal and pummeling the hell out of us here in Southwestern Ontario, the Deep South of Canuckistan.

In any case, in the first video in Saunders' timeline (as opposed to, say, NPR's timeline), there is a segment of film taken at what is presumably a briefing room at Bush's Crawford "ranch." During part of that video, Bush promises assistance to state-level officials:
I want to assure the folks at the state level that, uh, we are fully prepared to not only help you during the storm, but we will move in whatever assets and resources we have at our disposal after the storm, to help you deal with, uh, with the loss of property and, uh, we pray for no loss of life.

The nuance of speech doesn't come across very well in this low-bandwidth format, and since YouTube seems to screw up people's blogs so they take forever to load, I'm going to suggest you go over to Tom Tomorrow's pad and watch the video for yourself. Nevertheless, notice something conspicuously missing?

People.

He doesn't mention moving people into the area to help, only "assets and resources," and he mentions that he will assist with "loss of property," catches himself, realises that he's put his foot in it (I think if he hadn't done that, he would have stopped talking after "loss of property"), and then makes a lame platitude about praying for "no loss of life." I think that may have been a faux pas at the time, but it's become strategy since.

Digby points out a column by Frank Rich (courteously reprinted by jurassicpork). I think the real money quote (literally or figuratively) in the Rich column (no pun intended) is:
"I don’t think anybody’s getting the Bush strategy," [Douglas Brinkley, the Tulane University historian who wrote the best-selling account of Katrina, "The Great Deluge,"] said when we talked last week. "The crucial point is that the inaction is deliberate — the inaction is the action." As he sees it, the administration, tacitly abetted by New Orleans’s opportunistic mayor, Ray Nagin, is encouraging selective inertia, whether in the rebuilding of the levees ("Only Band-Aids have been put on them"), the rebuilding of the Lower Ninth Ward or the restoration of the wetlands. The destination: a smaller city, with a large portion of its former black population permanently dispersed.

Callous disregard for life, especially any life that isn't rich, white, and Republican (what New Orleans may look like when all is said and done, thereby reducing itself to a Main Street, USA Disneyfied version of itself), seems to be a hallmark of the current Bush Administration. This is what happens when amoral corporatists who literally don't believe in government take the helm.

5 Comments:

Blogger Anne Johnson said...

I'm sure Canada has an equivalent of the Army Corps of Engineers. Well, sorry, but it should be called Army Corps of Morons. You cannot build a city below sea level on a delta at the edge of a large body of warm sea water. Any bored god with a geological memory will tell you that. Add global warming, and anything they rebuild there is going to get sucker punched again.

More distressing is the news that relocated Katrina survivors will lose their federal subsidies in September. These are traumatized people, thousands of miles from home, expected to fend for themselves as of 9/1. Maybe they should enlist.

If I know how to sing the Canadian national anthem, will they let me get citizenship? I learned the words from going to hockey games in Detroit.

7:31 PM  
Blogger spocko said...

Yeah and we shouldn't rebuild on a fault line in SF or LA.

The blame should go to the Corps for what they did wrong in building it. The folks from the netherlands look at what they did and said, "Holy Shit!"

I just wanted to make that note Anne because the "why rebuild under water' is a talking point that gets thrown out to detract from what the real problem was and is. Bad construction, bad prep, and bad follow thru.

Oh and ?1 If 'SF' has another earthquake, and it will, I fully expect you will be following the coverage closely looking for your favorite vulcan in the clean up crews!
That is one of the reasons I followed this tradgy. SF will be next and FEMA ain't ready.

11:13 PM  
Blogger Interrobang said...

Anne -- The thing is, the city's been there since long before it was below sea level. The terrain has changed a bit in the last 300 years or so. For one, they're a lot closer to the waterfront than they used to be.

I don't believe Canada has the equivalent of the ACE, no. We have a specially-trained crisis group attached to the military who go into disaster areas and help orchestrate clean-up and rebuilding, but that's different, and the task force in question maybe has 50 members, and I'm being optimistic.

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