Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Have They No Shame?

Mr. Brown Tells His Story - from today's New York Times:
The Bush administration's embarrassment in bungling the Hurricane Katrina disaster was compounded yesterday as Congressional Republicans used a sham hearing to help Michael Brown, who resigned under fire as the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, pass the buck to Democratic officials in Louisiana despite the now-transparent record of federal ineptness. "A pretty darn good job," is the way Mr. Brown scored his work at FEMA as he was fed a steady stream of softball questions by Republicans. The postmortem hearing was clearly designed to shield the Bush White House from any whiff of culpability. According to Mr. Brown's self-serving tale, the heart of the mismanagement of Katrina was that officials in Baton Rouge and New Orleans were too "dysfunctional" for their part of the challenge.

The hearing, boycotted by most Democrats, who understandably feared a partisan whitewash, was the firmest evidence yet that a broad and independent inquiry on the order of the 9/11 commission is needed if the public is ever to understand what really went wrong when Katrina hit. The nation is already well aware that all three levels of government failed the victims of the storm. But the hearing was largely a careful mix of perfunctory scolding of Mr. Brown and a tight focus on state and local failures.

Questioners didn't touch on the role played by President Bush, who shocked much of the nation by exuding disconnect in the crucial first days of the disaster. Ever protective of his former patrons, Mr. Brown bordered on the comical as he recalled gravely telling the president's chief of staff as the hurricane loomed that "this is going to be a bad one."

Mr. Brown, in exculpating himself, did lay one hand on the Bush administration, when he blamed unspecified superiors at the Homeland Security Department for the gradual "emaciation" of FEMA as it was subsumed by an agency preoccupied with the threat of terrorism. Scores of millions of dollars have been quietly shuffled from the FEMA budget to other needs, leaving personnel and programs stretched, he told lawmakers. But the committee was clearly unwilling to seize on this as a symptom of the need for an independent inquiry into the government's lack of preparedness.

I am physically exhausted and psychically drained. I no longer have the energy to wonder how these people are able to hold their food down or sleep at night. I'm learning there are some people who have no limits in their capacity for venality, greed, or personal self-justification in the face of lethal indifference.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

What We Found

A home inhabited by a tribe of Katrina Diehards on Dauphine Street in the Vieux Carre. The sign on the door says simply, "Think twice." Posted by Picasa

The Church of Saint Theresa of Avila near Coliseum Square. Posted by Picasa

The Jefferson Parish Workforce Connection building on Lafayette Street in Gretna, LA. Posted by Picasa

The employees' entrance to the Harvey State Office Building on the Westbank of Jefferson Parish. To get into the building you pass your badge across an electronic eye to open the door. It is still working. Just inside the door is an ATM machine. It, too, is still operative. Posted by Picasa

The front entrance of the Harvey, Louisiana, State Office Building. My office space on an upper floor was unscathed and exactly as we had left it four weeks before. Posted by Picasa

The rear of the Richelieu Hotel parking lot, Barracks Street. Posted by Picasa

My Courtyard on Decatur Street in the lower French Quarter. Posted by Picasa

Looking into the Treme neighborhood from North Rampart Street. Posted by Picasa

Requiescat in Pace

Returned to New Orleans last Saturday. Had no trouble getting to my home in the Quarter. Not much mishap beyond mold downstairs and mildew. Upstairs had wind damage and objects flung about.

The television images do not prepare you for what you see when you arrive. Streets stripped of trees, buildings with sides shorn, abandoned doll houses empty of doll furniture. Here and there the figure of a person glimpsed in passing, then past and gone.

The weather, hot and sticky. The days belong to flies that draw blood, the nights to mosquitoes.

Visited Molly's at the Market one morning. It had recently reopened and had cold beer and ice. An NOPD SWAT officer stopped by to drop off seven bottles of vodka to keep the place hopping till curfew.

Later that same day, happened to be just beyond the parish line when the mayor closed the city down again for the advancement of Rita. Living out of my car since then.

New Orleans is dead.

As a Catholic city, it will be risen again from the dead. I believe that. But the deus ex machina which will perform this miracle will include carpetbagger cronies of the federal elite and local people of wealth and color (pink). So the city that will rise will bear as much likeness to the New Orleans of history as your dashboard Jesus does to the risen Christ.

Her jazz funeral will be pre-recorded and choreographed for the news cameras' best angles.

Monday, September 5, 2005

Some Supportive Comments

I haven't much time to write, but I came across this from the BBC which I found hopeful.

Although I evacuated New Orleans last Sunday, my employer tracked me down and put me to work Saturday, helping other displaced Orleanians.

It's proving difficult.

Hope to resurface again soon.

Thanks again to all my buds for your kind support.
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