Friday, August 28, 2009

Hurricane Katrina: A Shameful Anniversary.

Tomorrow will be the 4th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the devastation of New Orleans and surrounding areas.

Bush, Cheney, Rice, all the Republicans went about their summer holiday without a second glance while the people of New Orleans drowned in boarded-up attics, in nursing homes, in jails, in hospitals, in streets and homes, while the federal government provided no help whatsoever. Old disabled ladies sat in wheelchairs, parked by walls, and died from the heat. There was no water. Babies cried, as did grown-ups. And still there was no help from the federal government.

The Republicans wanted to try out their theory of "privatization." That means that whatever happens, expect nothing from the government. If you're hungry or homeless or sick, go beg in the streets for help because you'll get nothing from the government. Call the Red Cross -- maybe they can bring some coffee and donuts for the survivors. Call the churches -- maybe they can get their members to bring in a can of food on Sunday.

But expect nothing from the federal government because all its money has gone to the insiders, to the politicians, to the defense industry, and to war. Nothing for the people. Crumbling infrastructure? Too bad. Schools closed down? Bummer. No water, no housing, no medical care, no food, no transportation, no way out? Tough luck.

It was only after the entire world gasped in unison at the sight of Americans being so callously left to die by their own government, it was only after extremely poor nations like Cuba offered to send help, that our useless corrupt federal government made the tiniest gesture to help the citizens. To save face.

While progressives around the country take a moment to remember those who died and suffered, and who still suffer from the effects of Hurricane Katrina, remember this: the Democrats did absolutely nothing to help either. As I recall, Sean Penn got down there into the chemically-filled waters in a rowboat and tried to help save people. Anderson Cooper managed to get there. But not the federal government, Republicans or Democrats. They were on vacation.

Except, and this is a big one: except the National Guard Air-Sea Rescue teams who worked round the clock, risking their lives again and again to try to help save the citizens of New Orleans. So hats off to those brave people of the U.S. Coast Guard. To everyone else, may you all rot in hell.

Of course the poor never get help. They get lousy infrastructure and housing, high poverty and crime, no real protection, few social safety nets, no healthcare. Did anyone notice the number of amputees being wheeled around in wheelchairs in New Orleans? You know what that's from? Diabetes: the diet of the poor, the sugar, starch and fat diet that U.S. corporations sell to poor people, destroys their health, leads to an early death, amputation of the feet, then to the knee, then to the hip, chipping away pieces until the person dies.

Anyway, in 1927 there was a big flood of the Mississippi, a real scandal at the time, and Randy Newman wrote this wonderful song about it. "Louisiana 1927."

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