There’s been some great, powerful, important writing done on the Katrina tragedy in the last week. This piece is an excellent summary of Bush’s gross incompetence and his absurd request that we not “politicize” the disaster. (Governments are meant to keep us and our infrastructure safe; that’s just about the only thing they’re for. How in the hell is a gross failure to do that not a political issue?)
This is an article from the Miami Herald about the prior experience of FEMA head Michael Brown…which is to say, none. He was previously an administrator for horse shows, a job he was fired from. He was previously an administrator for horse shows, a job he was fired from. No, it didn’t make any more sense the second time I typed it.
(You have to sign in to read the Herald article, but here’s the best part: “‘He’s done a hell of a job, because I’m not aware of any Arabian horses being killed in this storm,” said Kate Hale, former Miami-Dade emergency management chief who oversaw emergency response during Hurricane Andrew in 1992. ‘The world that this man operated in and the focus of this work does not in any way translate to this. He does not have the experience.'”)
There’s plenty more, about the attempt to blame the victims, and then the attempt (still in effect) to blame local government; about the way that evacuees who were trapped at the Hilton got to cut in line in front of those trapped at the Superdome. But for sheer poignancy, for sheer, devastating illustration of what life is like for the poor–not only during a disaster, but every day–you can’t do any better than this CNN report from reporter Drew Griffin.
“I am stunned by an interview I conducted with New Orleans Detective Lawrence Dupree. He told me they were trying to rescue people with a helicopter and the people were so poor they were afraid it would cost too much to get a ride and they had no money for a ‘ticket.’ Dupree was shaken telling us the story. He just couldn’t believe these people were afraid they’d be charged for a rescue.”
Our country is always like this. Our poor are always being starved and diseased and murdered and bled to death. This is just the only time we get to see it on the news.