Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Anybody got a fiddle?

As I attempt to find a place to put my various, sometimes conflicting feelings about the disaster on the gulf coast, I read today a piece by novelist Christopher Rice, the son of Vampire Chronicles author Ann Rice, whose family has lived in New Orleans for decades. It’s noteworthy that the city has served as the backdrop and atmosphere for the stories written by both mother and son ~ a testament to the way the city becomes such an integral part of anyone who lives, or even visits there.

Christopher writes in Salon

“I am trying to find a quick and efficient method for mourning 20 years' worth of memories, and it is proving to be an impossible and irresponsible task. … Those of us who are from there are being left with a storehouse of memories that have lost their physical referents.”

The requiem for our grief has been decidedly non-musical; the din of cynical spin, finger-pointing, and diversion of blame typical of this government has all but drowned out the lamentations of the suffering people of the gulf coast region.

Chertoff and Brownie of Homeland Security and FEMA, respectively, have already begun blaming state and local officials for not calling for help earlier, not authorizing federal intervention, et cetera. Let’s nail the lid on that right now, shall we?

The Federal 2004 National Response Plan explicitly states that, at times of

any natural or manmade incident, including terrorism, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the population, infrastructure, environment, economy, national morale, and/or government functions, the federal government pre-empts local and state government in its responsibility to act quickly.

After 9/11, the administration wisely dispensed with the formalities of deferring to local authorities (which, of course, in this case had already issued a state of emergency as early as August 26). The attempt by the spinners to blame this on the obviously overwhelmed and incompetent local authorities, doesn't fit with the Bush administration's own rules.

We also now know that the military was prepared to help before Katrina hit, according to NorthCom's Lt Commander. All they needed was a presidential go-ahead. They didn't get one.

Apparently, that permission could have been given right away, but it wasn't. Bush was on vacation, sharing some cake with John McCain, and pretending to play some guitar.

And not for nothing, I heard on Sunday about an Urban Rescue Unit from Ohio which arrived in Meridien, Mississippi in time to ride out the hurricane along with the residents, and so was on hand immediately to begin the work of helping people get out of danger.

Now how’d they do that? Magic?

The relative quiet from the opposition party seems to be thawing out also. Former President Bill Clinton is finally speaking clearly about the federal government's failure to do more for the victims of the hurricane.

"Our government failed those people in the beginning, and I take it now there is no dispute about it," Clinton said in an interview with CNN Monday. "One hundred percent of the people recognize that -- that it was a failure."

But the news isn’t all bad, my people. There’s a silver lining – apart from Trent Lott getting a new beach house.

According to at least one learned, wizened source, notably Barbara Bush, the practically toga-clad solon whose most notable pearls of wisdom are worn around her appalling turkey neck, many of these wretched, teeming, tempest-tossed refugees have been blown right into a pot of jam.

The former first lady toured the Astrodome Monday, and along the way she opined that many of the refugees from New Orleans were so poor to begin with that they ought to be pretty happy with their temporary digs in Houston. "What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas," Barbara Bush said in comments first aired on the public radio program "Marketplace" and reprinted by Editor & Publisher. "Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."

The former First Dragon could actually be heard on the video chuckling aloud as she uttered the words “you know…”

I don’t suppose the current president is entirely to blame for what he became in life if one cares to dwell for just a moment on the bizarre, contemptible, bloodless old bitch who bore him. If George W. Bush is the modern Nero, I wonder if that makes Barb the modern Agrippina? And if so, … well, I’ll leave the rest of that story alone…

So, as you join with me in trying to move through the Kubler-Ross stages of grief, take comfort that nothing was anybody’s fault, there was no way to know in advance that this might happen, our government was acting on all information available at the time, our bureaucratic response was absolutely the best it could be, and besides, many of those poor people blown out of their homes by a 28-foot wall of water are probably better off now anyway.

Somebody pass me a fiddle. I feel a song comin' on...

19 Comments:

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Blogger Buzz said...

from the title of your post, i thought for sure you had read Jimmy Breslin in Newsday...if you have not (and i think you would enjoy it...he lays bushie open) i have a copy of it posted on my site at

http://chicagoblt.blogspot.com/2005/09/while-bush-fiddles-new-orleans-dies.html

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