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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Katrina: One Year Later

And Also: I saw a nice tidbit in the paper that there will be an automat again in Manhattan, those "eateries" with food in little coin operated compartments. Until I guess sometime in the 1980s, there was one of those left in mid-town Manhattan. There was also one in the Cary Grant/Doris Day movie That Touch of Mink. Also, some funny comics today, including Pearls to Swine (root cause of poverty: "lack of moneys") and Elizabeth got some good news. Hopefully, it is a sign that another teacher I know will be able to get a better position. Liz is such a charming character. Doonesbury too was on the money -- though I thought of the joke before today.

TPM mentioned the coverage of the first anniversary of Katrina, noting (tellingly) in passing the section of the blog that deals with New Orleans, or rather "after the levees." TPM proper often references muckraking features or guest columns on various subjects. But, the TPM Cafe section also has separate entries concerning Katrina related posts and John Bolton, who is admittedly more Steve Clemons territory. We learn that Sen. Hagel -- patron saint of rational Republicans, especially now that McCain became Sen. Suck-up (very nauseating) -- will decide whether or not to vote for Bolton's confirmation* after meeting up with him. Sure, since it's such a close call.

Checking over the Katrina section, I noticed an outspoken piece that suggests New Orleans should be deemed more important than the Lebanon Conflict. First and foremost, it is our own citizens, and very well might come up again ... again, to our own people. I admit that I myself have not read up to much on the issue, nor have kept on date except for the general tidbits. [I also continue to find Michael Chertoff, who resigned a lifetime appellate judgeship for a rather thankless job he quite arguably is much less skilled at, rather creepy looking.] But, the numbers simply are glaring. Sixteen hundred -- maybe more -- dead. Hundreds of thousands of homes destroyed. A major diaspora of residents, 2:1 black but one comment notes about equal numbers will not return, with significant demographical and possibly political effects. And, a basic failure of the ability of the government to care for the public good.

This underlines the problem, the contrast that should be shown between the current political approach and the one we the people should promote and demand. It also is what makes John Edwards such an appealing character, one who is willing to underline the problems of poverty in this country and the need of government to do something about it and the public good overall. The fact he came from fairly lowly origins encourages this theme, while the fact he lost a teenage son (and his wife battled cancer) perhaps reinforces it. There is a sign there that he is not simply cozy about life, having things handed to him, gliding thru like some people that come to mind. I still find the guy a bit green, but as in '04, like his spirit. [Successful presidents inspire; think Kennedy, Reagan, and Clinton.]

I just started a book by Ivor van Heerden, a Louisiana hurricane expert, entitled The Storm to regain some ground on my knowledge of the situation. Perhaps with an assist from his co-author, Mike Bryan, the book has a fairly laid back, straightforward tone to go along with its scientific (reference made to being reality based) concern. I'm not quite into it yet, but when I saw it (second go around -- always useful to find those possible gems) in the library last week, it was a no-brainer. Anyway, his appearance on C-SPAN Book TV put forth a good impression. van Heerden suggests the possibility of private/public synergy (including the important of research and educational institutions); surely their importance to the public good. It simply is not the message being sent by the current bunch.

NOLA brings forth a lot of passion, including something clearly akin to hatred of the Bush Administration. Remember the line that Bush simply doesn't care about black people? Grandma Bush saying that refugees in a hellhole sports stadium were lucky, since hey, you know ... [Al Franken loves to tell a story about her being bitchy to him and people telling him that it was no act ... and that Dubya takes after his mama.] Digby has a post suggesting there is in effect a plan to toss aside NO, change the demographics, and make the state more Republican. And, others suggest the administration and their supporters (or Republicans generally) just see it as some way to benefit their cronies.

I have a bit of trouble accepting the intentional neglect theory -- a better approach seems to underline malign neglect, one that might not occur if they had a reason to care. And, yes, race in involved here. I don't know how much by intent. But, neglect and effect is pretty significant by themselves. There clearly is a troubling aspect, how big is unclear, of racism out there in public officials. It just makes it harder to fix the problem, one worsened by an overall mind-set.

One that does not trust in government, even in cases when it is clearly necessary. One that is willing to rely on private entities that require oversight and restraints that those now in power clearly refuse to supply, not just out of greed, but out of simple conviction. This is key -- much of the disgust on this side seems to come from a feeling that the other side are simply malign hypocrites.** But, perhaps it is more troubling that so many are not.

Toss in a distaste of cities, surely ones that might compete with Babylon on the sin level in some people's mind, and you get an idea why it is not just racism. A lot of white people in this city ... you know, the one with no national landmarks according to a recent Dept. of Homeland Security risk analysis. Still, too many urbanites, Democrats, and homosexuals, probably. Not that NY government also should not be given some of the blame for the fact there still is a big hole in the ground in Lower Manhattan (still, bad taste reference there Mayor Nagin). And, as usual, there is so much wrong, so the critics have some good points to make.

I just think sometimes that the focus is a bit off. A good timeline of the events before, during, and after is here. The overall nature of the disaster was underlined in the need to use Greek letters to name the final set of hurricanes, since they ran out of the pre-set names (not all letters used, a few names retired beforehand).

I recall the days when hurricane names had themes, like names from the Honeymooners or something. There was no Trixie, since it was boy/girl, and "T" was male. So, they named it after Tommy, a minor character. OTOH, something off about that.


* The recess appointment about to run out -- hey, don't we generally nominate/confirm appointees of this importance the first time around? Guess not, since so little emphasis has been put on the fact.

** It is one thing to have a mentality that some might find personally distasteful. Thus, I have voiced my feelings of people justly called Tories on the issue of presidential power and so forth, a sentiment some sneer at as based on petty partisan grounds. This helps the conversation a lot, as one might guess. And, I do find them to be hypocrites as well. But, bottom line, it is the yes principled (they can be bad too) mentality that gets me in the end. In fact, the "end justifies the means" mentality helps explain the hypocrisy.

I think we can fall in the good/evil trap that we argue is so distasteful.