Saturday, September 03, 2005

Gulf Coast Blues

It happened, now we have to live with it. And no one goes home the big easy way.

Katrina has struck the Gulf Coast, and nothing will be the same again. Along with the tragedy and loss -- of life, livelihood, property, and prestige -- comes a sense of despair that any of us will ever be truly safe again. If a city the size of New Orleans or bigger were attacked by WMD, would the response of the government be any more effective? Would the loss of civility and social order be any less complete? Would our leaders be any less impotent, any less sluggish in their response? Or are the minority leaders correct in their claim that this disaster would have been treated more responsibly if the victims were not as poor or as black? Are the local leaders correct in their claim that one of the reasons the response was so slow was that too many of the Guardsmen sent to Iraq were from the poorer regions of the South? Was FEMA, a once lean and mean second response machine, hampered by the bureaucracy that was laid upon it when it was subsumed into the Department of Homeland Security?

Our favorite contractor, Haliburton (Houston Chronicle), has been chosen to help with the cleanup. Let's hope they don't charge the taxpayers their going rates. After hearing one National Guardsman, who had served in Iraq before being sent to New Orleans, say that conditions were worse (in New Orleans) than in Baghdad, I suppose we can count on Haliburton to raise the quality of life there to a minimum of third world level by the end of the year. Or not. At least they weren't hired to fix the levees. I wonder if the still-remaining 2000 people at the SuperDome as of this morning will be evacuated to safety before the first reconstruction teams arrive at Trent Lott's house.

The first estimate of cost for Katrina's damage is $100 billion. From experience with first estimates by this administration, that would mean it will eventually cost about five times as much. Will anyone in Washington suggest taking back some of the tax cuts (other than those given to the middle class) to help pay for it all? I doubt it.

If any good comes of this tragedy and the debacle that has followed so far, it will be the newly regained skepticism and hard-hitting reportage of the media minions ( Rebellion of the Talking Heads ) who could not and would not gloss over the details of this mega-disaster in the South.

Wouldn't it be ironic if the turning point from Right Wing conservatism and me-first greed in this country were the result of an act of God? Will this be the wakeup call that finally galvanizes the middle and the poor to stand up to the will of the ruling class in this American aristocracy?

Stay tuned....

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