Friday, January 26, 2007

“burned at the state”

(...a botched cliché that a former co-worker – and probably Dubya, at some point – used)

You know, I never watch the State of the Union speeches. Or any other speeches by politicians. I haven’t for years and I’m not ashamed in the least to admit it. Because I know full well that all political speeches are not designed to communicate anything truthful or realistic…they’re designed to sell. And that applies to any politician in either party…at least from the state level up. There are perhaps a few local or regional politicians who give speeches that are actually attempts to inform residents and/or constituents in a useful way. But the truth is that most political speeches are exercises in public relations. And I have no desire to waste my time with them.

Needless to say, I didn’t watch Dubya’s SOTU the other night. But I’ve heard grumblings from fellow grumblers about one particular subject the president went out of his way to avoid, and it is a subject that has become dear to my heart: New Orleans. And the wretched debacle that was – and is – the aftermath of Katrina.

Here’s a blurb from a blog I read this morning about the gaping hole in the president’s speech… (You can read the entire blog – it’s not a long one – by clicking on the title.)

The Missing Paragraph

I was hoping you'd have something like an attempt to remind the country that what binds us together as American(s) vastly outnumbers that which separates us. Instead you gave us the lady from Baby Einstein who sold out to Disney. You could have attempted to speak clearly, thoughtfully, poetically, but then you gave us phrases like: "the great tradition of the melting pot." Sir, I'm sorry, but that makes me think of the nacho cheese in movie theaters, not how the very foundation of our solidarity as a nation rests in our diversity as a people…

...But back to the Katrina-shaped hole in your speech, President Bush. America was left afraid, angry, and ashamed by what happened in New Orleans, to say little of what is still happening there. Has so much time passed from when you flew over people's broken lives that you've forgotten what happened to your fellow Americans? It seems to me that it is more than possible that tonight's speech was just another reminder of your unfailingly apathetic and blatantly racist disregard for the citizens who need not only your time and attention, but the rest of the country's as well.

I have a stack of Katrina-related articles just waiting to be compiled into a monster post of some kind. (I also have a fantasy of dragging Hal Samples down to New Orleans with me for a week or two to see how much shit we can stir up, and see what kind of physical and emotional carnage we can report on, since no one else seems to be doing it with much success.) But since I’m still trying to get caught up on that and other subjects, I’d just like to run a quick set of numbers past everyone…

$10 million per hour

$8.4 billion per month

The first number is what we are currently spending (pre-“surge”) to continue our occupation of Iraq. The second number is what is projected to become the new pricetag for the ongoing operation there…what I’ve taken - like, just now - to calling Operation Muslim Humiliation. (Which I believe we called “the crusades” once, back in the olden days…)

Can any of us even fathom what ten million dollars per hour could do for the U.S. gulf region and New Orleans in particular? What eight billion dollars per month could have already accomplished down there by now? The fact that those figures are so unfathomable is, in itself, unfathomable. There is no adjective I can think of that can describe the injustice – not to mention just obscenely misplaced priorities – of our spending that kind of money on the other side of the globe when so many lives were destroyed – and remain in ruin more than a year after Hurricane Katrina – here on American (toxic) soil. Disgraceful? Unthinkable? Is “inhuman” too strong a word?

In New Orleans, mental illness, suicide, decay, disease, violent crime and cruelty to animals have become the new standard of living. At least until all the poor (read: people of color) people are gone permanently…dead or alive.

Why are so few Americans as outraged by what is – and is not – happening in the NOLA area? How is it that it’s acceptable on any level to spend the amount of money we have already spent - and will continue to spend - in Iraq while this absolutely deliberate ethnic cleansing (and I challenge anyone to prove to me that this is not what the situation has become) is occurring right here in our own country?

Our esteemed leader has visited New Orleans once – once – in the last eight months. That visit amounted to a photo op to mark the one year anniversary of…I’m not sure, actually. Katrina making landfall? The first breach of the levees? His comment to Michael Brown that he was “doing a heckuva job…”? His initial, compassionately conservative fly-over in Air Force One? Anyway, he said the following at his brief, though no doubt productive, visit last August: “This anniversary is not an end. And so I come back to say that we will stand with the people of southern Louisiana and southern Mississippi until the job is done.”

The question I have is what “job” he and his people have in mind.

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Blogger doctorj2u said...

As a native New Orleanian I want to thank you for this post. You might be interested in this column that appeared in the Times Picayune (our local paper( this week.

"The federal government failed in its duty to protect New Orleans and for that, we must be punished."

10:34 AM  

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