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Contempt for the masses starts at the conservative top

Brian Wolshon, an engineering professor at Louisiana State University who served as a consultant on the state’s evacuation plan, said little attention was paid to moving out New Orleans’s “low-mobility” population – the elderly, the infirm and the poor without cars or other means of fleeing the city, about 100,000 people.

At disaster planning meetings, he said, “the answer was often silence.”
New York Times 9/2 article, “Government Saw Flood Risk but Not Levee Failure”

The conservative philosophy of can-do, small government, personal responsibility rings hollow when faced with a disaster like this. With no clean water, food, medical attention or BASIC SECURITY in New Orleans or most of the coastal areas affected by Katrina, all of Bush’s Kool-Aid drinkers have nothing to spout from their handbook of political philosophy that makes any damn sense. There is no one more eloquent than my Bloggrrrl Shakes Sis, and she’s summed up the situation so well.

Take a look at the international analysis of what’s happening in America right now—the entire world is appalled, watching the richest country in the world let its people die of thirst, and yet that is the inevitable result of a ruling party who feels little obligation to its citizens. I once wrote: “The Conservative view ultimately benefits a very small minority; the Liberal view benefits us all.” Never has that been more glaringly apparent than in the aftermath of Katrina, as those for whom Bush and his ilk have the greatest contempt turn to their government for help in a time of crisis as the whole world watches, and their government offers not compassion but blame. I think the administration will quickly find that abstract endorsements of personal responsibility which elicited such fervent applause from hand-picked campaign crowds won’t be met with quite the same reception when offered in lieu of the practical solutions now required. If the chance to so easily identify with those quite literally left stranded by the callousness of conservative philosophy doesn’t finally reveal its utter folly to a majority, I don’t believe anything ever will. As Matthew Yglesias said today, “They say there are no atheists in foxholes. Similarly, there are no libertarians in the aftermath of a giant, city-wide flood.”

The news today stirred in me equal feelings of desperate concern for the people hit hardest by this near-inconceivable disaster and blinding anger toward the people responsible for their continued suffering. The two feelings crashed headlong into each other as I listened to a woman on NPR, sobbing, pleading with Bush to help them. She said children and women are being raped, many are in dire need of medical care, and people are starving and dying of thirst. “Please, President Bush, please send someone to save us.” I just completely broke down. It was the final straw, listening to someone beg for help from someone who was out playing golf while she was fighting for her life.

There are those now calling for Bush’s impeachment. Fuck impeachment. The whole lot of them—every last conservative ideologue who has advocated “starving the beast,” every last one of those selfish, soulless, anti-American bastards—ought to be rounded up and sent to the Superdome to live in the river of shit and piss until every single refugee has been provided safe sanctuary and a warm meal. Then Bush and his gang of cretins can clean up the trail of scattered corpses. Let the blood that belongs on their hands be a literal lesson for these pitiless pieces of human refuse. It’s long overdue.

Actions speak louder than words. The complete lack of planning, and even more pathetic, defenses about how they “couldn’t have anticipated” the events unfolding is complete bullsh*ttery.

What we are seeing here is blatant cost-benefit analysis at work. Bush cut funding to FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers in order to be able to pay for his Iraq folly. There was a multi-billion-dollar plan to shore up the current Cat 3-withstanding levee system and barrier islands, but it was shelved. The Netherlands invested billions to do this, but our government had other priorities.

After all, what are the chances a Cat 4 hurricane would strike a location that the government identified as a site vulnerable to catastrophe? It couldn’t possibly happen on my watch, is what the Bushies thought. They gambled wrong. They gambled with the lives of all the people of New Orleans, the poor that couldn’t get out, the poor that would be victimized by the criminals around them, the poor that are starving and dying of dehydration while the talking heads on the air, fronting for Bush, say help is on the way. Help should have been there the next day. Our country is better at dropping bombs and shooting off rockets than putting boots on the ground in a disaster — unless someone “tried to kill my daddy” — then no expense is spared.

And that’s really worked out well, hasn’t it?

As many people have said elsewhere, part of this natural and man-made national disaster is about race — helping people that look like you is easier when you can identify with them — people don’t like to admit that about human nature, and our political and cultural divides only exacerbate the problem. Never forget, however, this is also about class. Sadly, elected officials of all political stripes (who aren’t at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder) generally don’t want to think about it at all. When the New Orleans mayor, a man of color, has contempt for the underclass in his own city, there’s no hope, really.

It’s clear that there was never a serious plan to evacuate the poor or sick — cost/benefit analysis, the bean counters probably said. It would have been too costly to marshall all city buses, school buses and any other state transportation to take these people out of harm’s way as the storm approached. Especially if the storm skirted by – calls by wingnuts for the heads of elected officials would have been swift. You all know it’s true.

In the end, we all have a price on our heads and that government entities are willing to declare your death a “loss.” That number is sadly quite low in this administration if you’re part of the underclass. The victims of our government’s “response” to Katrina know that all too well.

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No security, no way out, explosions, and a mayor at the end of his rope

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding