This piece by the San Francisco Chronicle's Washington Bureau Chief, Marc Sandalow, does a good job of condensing the criticisms that have been -- I won't use the L-word out of respect for the people of New Orleans -- directed at the the Federal government and, more specifically, the Bush Administration over their handling of disaster relief. While I can understand why former President Clinton found it necessary to defend his successor against attacks -- he has an innate sense of good-old-boy fairness and a wife running for office -- it rankles me regardless. If you're going to invest billions of dollars in "homeland security," then your first responsibility is to plan for possible calamities and manage them rationally if they actually happen. Clearly, many people had foreseen New Orleans's special vulnerability. Whether the money being wasted on the Iraq War might have done something to lessen the damage from Katrina is a question I don't mind asking but would feel less comfortable answering. What I do know is that I lived through a major earthquake that was initially imagined to have killed hundreds of people at a minimum -- I have the San Francisco Chronicle headline in my archives to prove it -- but ended up killing a little over fifty principally because the state of California's building codes and the people who enforced them actually produced the result they were deployed to produce. Had similar care been taken in the state of Louisiana or nationally with regard to the possibility of a major hurricane hitting New Orleans, fewer people would have died, less property would have been destroyed, and the unrest in a city that always seemed to be on the brink of a war of race and class anyway would have been easier to contain.
"Everything is art. Because art just means making things. Creation. That's why I love the world. It's all art. Legos are art. Also, there are two kinds of art: how you make the Legos and how you put them together."
I've been reading interesting commentary on the way in which Hurricane Katrina is being treated like a terrorist attack, even though it is a natural disaster. But that's not the only sort of conflation going on. Remember that quote from a few days back that compared New Orleans to Baghdad? Apparently, the higher-ups were listening:
Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco said the 300 troopers from the Arkansas National Guard had been authorised to open fire on "hoodlums" who terrorised the flooded city in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.I wonder what this sort of story will do to enhance our reputation as the World's Policeman. Why do I feel like Martin Sheen in a Saigon hotel room?
The deployment came amid intense criticism of the Bush Administration for a tardy response to the disaster, which is feared to have killed thousands and left hundreds of thousands stranded and homeless.
"These troops are fresh back from Iraq, well trained, experienced, battle tested, and under my orders to restore order in the streets," Ms Blanco said.
"They have M-16s and they are locked and loaded.
"These troops know how to shoot and kill, and are more than willing to do so if necessary. And I expect they will."
I toyed with the idea of going to this weekend's big celebration. Kim even encouraged me to do so. Since I'm in exile from the bedroom anyway, I wouldn't really be missed. But I'm simply exhausted. Had someone in my ever-shrinking circle of friends contacted me about meeting up, I might have been persuaded. Somehow, though, I don't think that's going to happen much in the near future. There simply aren't enough spur-of-the-moment, nocturnal people I can go around with to go around. I am going to see the documentary about the Tucson music scene at The Loft at 3pm on Sunday, however, if anyone wants to join me.