Thursday, September 01, 2005

The conversation.

No, not the FFC film starring Gene Hackman. The Katrina Conversation.

Yesterday I wondered what would happen to the Katrina Conversation. Here's where it's going today:

  • Sidney Blumenthal points a finger at the Bush Administration in the German press (Spiegel online) and at Salon.com for cutting funding to New Orleans flood control funding and encouraging development of wetlands. According to Blumenthal, in 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters facing the US (one of the other top three was a major terrorist attack on NYC, and this was early 2001). Wonder what the other was? Looks like FEMA's two for three.

  • David Brooks wonders about the "human storm" following the hurricane in an editorial at the NY Times. He points out some disturbing similarities between the great Mississippi flood of New Orleans in 1927 and the aftermath of Katrina-- namely, the racial and class disparity regarding who has been left behind:
    take a close look at the people you see wandering, devastated, around New Orleans: they are predominantly black and poor. The political disturbances are still to come.

  • The general editorial at the NY Times seems to call for sacrifice on the part of all Americans -- something that perhaps sounds odd to our pampered ears. After 9/11, we were encouraged to go forth and spend money to stimulate the economy, rather than tighten our belts and sacrifice for our fellow humans (as Americans were advised to do when America joined the fray in WWII). Victory garden? No. Victory trip to the mall! The same editorial then asks some very pointed and hard questions for keeping the Conversation going, questions that must be asked, that should have been asked prior to this disaster, and that demand answers in the coming weeks and months, namely:
    While our attention must now be on the Gulf Coast's most immediate needs, the nation will soon ask why New Orleans's levees remained so inadequate. Publications from the local newspaper to National Geographic have fulminated about the bad state of flood protection in this beloved city, which is below sea level. Why were developers permitted to destroy wetlands and barrier islands that could have held back the hurricane's surge? Why was Congress, before it wandered off to vacation, engaged in slashing the budget for correcting some of the gaping holes in the area's flood protection?

  • The Rev. Isaac Clark, speaking amidst the chaos from the New Orleans Convention Center, wonders where the aid is: "We are out here like pure animals. We don't have help." R Neal at Facing South wonders the same thing, and gives contact information for Congresspeople. Neal (SKB) references a MSNBC correspondent reporting from NOLA:
    The reporter said that she had been there four days. She said she has heard about all the provisions that the federal government had rushed to the scene, but says that she and her crew have not seen any of it. Nothing. People are dying there. They are begging for help.


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