So, I've been trying to gather up enough steam to write something about this whole Katrina mess. But, all I really have is just my rambling incoherent voice to add to the chorus of those who are pissed off and angry about the failure of our government, at all levels, to provide for one of its most basic services: providing for the common defense.
I'd go through the list but, it's easier just to link to Andrew Sullivan,
who has already put in the work of finding out why we should be upset with our elected officials. (Even more than usual.) Be sure to read the whole thing, and you'll know where I'm coming from.
My good friend Jonathan has lived in New Orleans after moving down there quite a few years ago. If you know Jonathan, you know New Orleans fits him like a ruffled shirt or velvet smoking jacket or leather pants. So, as news of Katrina started breaking two weeks ago, naturally, my wife and I worried for his safety. Fortunately, heeding the warnings, Jonathan emailed us from the safety of his father's house in Dallas on the Monday the storm hit. He was safe, sound, weary from an 8 hour drive that took an extra 12 hours to complete, and had little more with him than the clothes he was wearing and two small bags.
But he was safe and out of potential danger, and we figured, at the time, that while he might have to stay in Dallas for maybe a week at most, he'd be able to get on his life back in New Orleans. But, that was on Monday, by Wednesday we all knew that Jonathan, like most New Orleaneans, probably won't be able to go back for months, if at all. Katrina was both a natural and man-made disaster of the highest order. A number of factors over quite a number of years contributed to this state of affairs, but the end result is an US city had to be completely evacuated because they were essentially unprepared. And this is post-9/11. Post W's quote to Ashcroft "I want you to make sure this never happens again."
Some have or will say, that I really shouldn't be so surprised, and I'll tell you why I still am. This is the first time that I can recall when a lot of shit has hit the fan and the country didn't get the job done. Regardless of their politics and whether or not you like them, politicians, when faced with a disaster or crisis of this magnitude, natural or man-made are supposed to suspend politics as usual to save the lives of their fellow American citizens, even if all they do is suspend the bureaucratic process so the right people can get things done. That people should be fired is a given, and in any other industry, or business, and under any other President the only question we'd be asking is when.
From what I remember prior to being Governor of Texas George W. Bush owned, or partially owned the Texas Rangers and ran an oil company. In 2000, the spin was that then Gov. Bush would parlay his business experience to the Presidency and bring the corporate mentality and M.O. to the good of the country. Unfortunately, the Texas Rangers and the oil company were not very sucessful under W's stewardship, so that was one more reason to not vote for him.
But, in hindsight, I guess his success and calm leadership in the wake of 9/11 was more of a reflection of Guiliani, and NYC than of George's federal leadership. And as many having been saying, Hurricane Katrina has exposed the soft, rotten underbelly of incompetence and croneyism of this Administration.
And it's little comfort now to the people of New Orleans and Mississippi, but I'm quite sure that W's legacy will talk about squandered opportunities and breaking government. Worst. President. Evar? Don't know about that, but he might rank up there. Say what you will about all the Presidents since JFK, but again I'm pretty sure that even Carter would have done a better job than W has done, especially, since since it was the cornerstone of his re-election campaign. A safer America, or something like that.
Hopefully, this is a watershed event for positive change, because I don't want to think about the other direction. I don't harbor anymore illusions about changing the system, but hopefully this will be a wakeup call for some people that we need at the very least competent and responsible people in government at all levels to balance out the ones who aren't so that in times of crisis, government can perform its most basic functions as laid out in the Constitution.
I mean really, is that so much to ask?
Oh, I'm sure most of you have already done this, because in times like this Americans are the most selfless and giving people in the world, but be sure to donate something to the relief effort, clothes, money, food, whatever.
I got this link
to good charitable organizations from Erica,
so if you haven't donated, check that out first to make sure you're giving your money, food, clothes, whatever to the right people who'll actually help Katrina survivors.