Thursday, September 01, 2005

Thursday. Matters in New Orleans, by all accounts, just keep going from bad to really, really awful. It's all over the media, so I don't really see a lot of point in rehashing it here, but once again, if you can do anything to help out, you gotta do it, kids. We're all in this together. Once again, here's the Red Cross donation page:

http://arc.convio.net/site/PageServer?pagename=ntld_main&s_src=splashpagebutton

And here's one of the first stones to be thrown in the direction of the White House and the
Republican leadership as questions arise in the wake of Katrina and (perhaps more importantly) regarding the failure of state and federal leaders to recognize the obvious dangers that led up to this disaster in the months and years before it occurred. If National Geographic and a bunch of other basic cable T.V. networks were prescient enough to predict this disaster (going so far as to produce television documentaries about the subject), why was the government caught so unaware? I know that the Republican response is going to be that this kind of disaster could not have been predicted, but that response is clearly and simply wrong. FEMA itself has stated that a hurricane strike on New Orleans has been listed among their top 3 most feared domestic disaster scenarios for several years, comparable to other nightmare scenarios such as a possible nuclear attack within the U.S. or a large scale earthquake in Los Angeles.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/01/opinion/01thu1.html

In the face of these kinds of predictions, what action did our Republican leadership take? Here ya go:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-050831corps-story,1,2364215.story?coll=chi-news-hed

Apparently Congress and The White House have been slashing the budgets for the Army Corps of Engineers and the City of New Orleans for several years, including a cut of at least $30 million (and that was for only one of the funding requests) to a fund designated to help with improvements to the New Orleans levee system and flood control. At least 7 levee improvement projects were put on hold in the past year due to inadequate funding, funding which was diverted, at least in some part, to support the war in Iraq. As touched on by the author of my linked New York Times article, I guess that it's gonna be awhile before this administration takes on the problems like global warming since they couldn't even seem to envision a scenario in which one of our Gulf Coast cities was struck by a major hurricane (despite the fact that Florida has been relentlessly pummelled by storms over the last two years).

In the back of my mind, I can't get over a fact that I've been kind of trying to overlook. The people left behind in New Orleans after the general evacuation order were poor and mostly black. Poor, black people don't make up much of the Republican base. Would the government's response have been this slow if a storm wiped out some area that had been filled with middle or upper class white folks? I don't know (there's probably a lot of flat-out incompetence, regardless of race issues), but it's bugging me. One thing's for sure- the poor got screwed on this one, once again.

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