The events in New Orleans have brought to the fore many of the thoughts about poverty, urban governance and the inhumanity of modern Republicanism that have pre-occupied my political musings for some time.
1) Do something to help someone in this mess. You can surely find on the internet one or more solid charities that are pitching in to help.
2) George Bush and the modern Republican Party have been exposed for the evil monsters that we always suspected them to be in our darkest and most cynical moments. Was there any more of a “let them eat cake” moment than Air Force One tilting a little to the left so W. could look down on his struggling subjects? Republicans campaign on a platform of “Big Government Doesn’t Work”, get elected and then prove themselves correct.
3) Kanye West has my vote for Time’s Man of The Year award. George W. Bush doesn’t like black people, indeed. My question, is it intentional or clueless racism? Bill Maher said that George Bush doesn’t understand why people from New Orleans didn’t grab a case of Poland Spring from the garage, pack up the Range Rover and drive to the summer home.
4) Educate yourself on the damage to FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers and the S.E. Louisiana pumping/levee projects done by the Bush Administration. Here’s a start from David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker. The Bush Administration has been gutting support for essential government services in order to fund the Iraq War and to further its agenda of enriching corporate interests. This bullshit must stop here.
5) Democrats haven’t covered themselves in glory either. Get your own ass out of Dodge isn’t an effective emergency response strategy. I have developed a grudging respect for Rudy Guiliani and George Pataki after watching the mayor of New Orleans go around blaming everyone else for the city’s lack of emergency planning and the Louisiana governor crying and asking everyone to pray. On Sept. 11th, 2001 Rudy Guiliani sped to the World Trade Towers, after Katrina, the New Orleans government moved to Baton Rouge. At least they had a plan to get some people out of town–bureaucrats and politicians.
6) After the 2000 Presidential election was stolen in the state of Florida, the New York Times ran an article by John Tierney–The Big City: Bad Balloting. Poor Services. What’s New? (http://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/12/nyregion/12BIG.html) that pointed out the Democrats had shot themselves in the ass. The voting machines that didn’t work were largely in Democrat strongholds–poor and African-American communities. But Democrats never fought for upgrades to shitty machines because poor people don’t count. Poor people didn’t fight for better services because they have given up and come to expect crappy public services–voting machines, schools, streets, trash pick-up–you name it, it sucks. New Orleans is this situation writ large.
7) The Kerner Commision report studying the racial riots in the late 1960’s concluded that blacks and whites in America were becoming two nations, “one black, one white — separate and unequal.” We’re way beyond that stage. We’ve segregated ourselves in our housing, public education and most needed public services. Not generally by race, but by class. African-Americans like Condoleezza Rice and Bill Cosby and hundreds of thousands of ordinary African-American families move freely in the privileged amorphous middle class where most Americans claim membership. But poor folks of all colors are in deep shit (or flood waters, if you will.)
8) Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton and Bush 2 have all presided over this segregated America–rich folks leave for the suburbs, battering the tax base in the inner cities. The rich folks bitch and moan about the taxes they do have to pay, state and federal, so politicians campaign on tax cuts. America is a complex society with systems that demand cooperation–health care, transportation, education, communications–but we can’t get together and make sure that all the basic services we need are available to everyone. The rich hide from the poor in segregated communities where they pay for private services. The poor are left to fester in crumbling inner-city hellholes. The rich pat themselves on the back for their initiative (the Protestant ethic don’t you know) while the poor are demonized for falling prey to numerous social pathologies–hints being not so subtlely left that their predicament is all their fault.
9) Did I mention that George W. Bush doesn’t like black people? He does like greedy corporate executives and blood-thirsty, neo-conservative chicken-hawks. George Bush is an uneducated, shallow, selfish bastard with the stains of so many people’s blood on his hands that he will forever be caught fucking up our nation REDHANDED!
10) FIGHT THE POWER!
“What we need is awareness, we can’t get careless
You say what is this?
My beloved lets get down to business
Mental self defensive fitness
(Yo) bum rush the show
You gotta go for what you know
Make everybody see, in order to fight the powers that be
Lemme hear you say…
Fight the Power”