Thursday, September 01, 2005

gulf coast desperation grows

Incredible, appalling images from New Orleans, on the web and now on Olbermann's Countdown. Where the hell is the cavalry? Not just New Orleans suffering of course -- footage from places in Mississippi are incredible, the analogy is trite but it looks like a big, soggy battlefield.

A heartbreaking blog for people trying to locate family and friends.

Dissatisfaction and anger growing at the slow response to the situation in New Orleans.

The Post this morning ran a fascinating, Lord of the Flies-type story about the situation in the Superdome. Four levels of hell -- the relatively civilized lower levels, which are merely uncomfortable and full of hungry, thirsty, dirty people. The filthy second level with its overflowing bathrooms. The speak-easy on the third level, a small hint of the old New Orleans spirit. And finally the lawlessness, drugs, assaults and rapes on the highest, darkest fourth level, avoided by most of the poor people stranded there. A quote from one National Guard MP at the Superdome who recently returned from 14 months in Iraq: "To tell you the truth, I'd rather be in Iraq. You got your constant danger, but I had something to protect myself. [And] three meals a day. Communications. A plan. Here, they had no plan." Those poor bastards.

Speaking of no plan, the idea of a major hurricane hitting New Orleans wasn't exactly a science fiction scenario. The response of the de facto Bush Administration and GOP Congress? Cutting funding for flood control for New Orleans by 44% since 2001, to pay for the war in Iraq. And again, the degradation of wetlands reduces the ability of Louisiana to sustain a major hurricane. Bush said such a flood was unimaginable, but in July, US News and World Report ran a prescient article pointing out New Orleans' vulnerability. Guess US News had access to information that Bush and the GOP Congress didn't... Incredibly, the levees were NOT intended to protect New Orleans from a Category 4 or 5 hurricane! Oops.

Images now on MSNBC of dozens of buses entering New Orleans. Maybe some of those refugees at the Superdome and Convention Center will get to somewhere with food and water and electricity and civilization soon.

Bush did cut his vacation a bit short to go to Washington, but the lack of leadership has been pretty bad. As the Times noted, Bush's Wednesday speech was awful. Seemed to me he was more concerned about oil than anything else. Oh, wait, of course...

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