Monday, August 28, 2006

Hope Is STILL Not a Plan...

Just a little less than a year ago, I attended a lecture given by Sister Helen Prejean, author of the book Dead Man Walking.  She travels the country speaking out against the death penalty, and she spoke at a Catholic church in East Memphis.

This was just a few short weeks after water topped the levees in her adopted hometown and laid it waste.  

“The miracle of Hurricane Katrina” she said, choking up slightly, “is that it ripped the veil off of George W. Bush’s attitudes about the poor.”  It was hard to argue with that.  In fact, if any argument was to be made at all, it was that George W. Bush’s attitude was tucked under the flimsiest of veils, a tiny cloth that always seemed in danger of slipping off to reveal the true hideousness beneath.  It was only a few days after the First Mother said rather cheerily in a “let them eat cake” moment that many of the people affected by the tragedy were poor anyway, so it “worked out well” for them.  New Orleans was everything that George W. Bush was ill at ease with.  It was sexy, spicy, and dangerous, but in that good way--- She’s the girl that you know you can’t take home to mother, but you’ll have a great time with her until the bed breaks.

And most of all, it was black.  It was full of working class people, jazz musicians, practitioners of strange religions, women who bare their breasts for cheap trinkets tossed at them--- Definitely not the kind of people you find in Kennebunkport unless they’ve been hired to clean someone’s pool.

The official line was that the president had no idea it was coming.  You’ll recall this excuse worked rather well for him on 9/11, at least until the commission established years later that he had ignored numerous warnings.  It wasn’t until April of this year, after mud and feces stunk up the streets of a major city for eight months that the video establishing that he did in fact know was leaked.

The phrase “Heckuva job, Brownie” has become something of a catchphrase in the last year, even making it into an episode of “The Sopranos” when Paulie Walnuts colossally screwed up something as simple as setting up a merry-go-round for a street fair.  It’s fairly indicative of what Sister Helen talked about--- While 30,000 languished inside the Superdome (A building designed only to house people long enough to watch the Saints lose) with only 36 hours of food, the ultimate do-nothing federal government was patting itself on the back for a job well done.

Not that “Brownie” was the only one that screwed up.  He was the most glaring and obvious (Gee, who could have ever thought there could be negative fallout from hiring a horse show judge to manage national emergencies?), but there was a catastrophic failure throughout the federal government.



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