Thursday, September 08, 2005

As Long as I'm Still Talking about Katrina

(1) The Daily Show came back swinging from vacation on September 6. Click here to watch Jon Stewart's opinions on the Katrina response and here to watch "Beleaguered Bush," as TDS correspondent Ed Helms provides a report on how the Bush Administration swung into action to save the most important think of all, their reputation. (Thanks to Mark Evanier and his consistently excellent site, News from Me, for TDS links.)

(2) One of the things Jon Stewart mentions is something that I think we've all been seeing this last week: Reporters have found a use for their backbones again. When reporters on the scene on FOX News are shouting down O'Reilly and Hannity, preventing them from spinning the situation into a less-than-complete representation, you have to believe that the truth can't be hidden as easily as it was with regard to weapons of mass destruction, Iraq, and Osama Ben Laden. There's no chance to "guide" public opinion by putting out messages of fear, wrapping the U.S. flag around themselves while holding crosses, isn't going to placate any but the simple, the core of Bush followers who see the world in black and white. There is no enemy, real or imagined, that can be used to create divisions within the populace thereby distracting us from the real problems created by the Administration. Well, technically, that pesky old Mother Nature is the enemy, but apart from relaxing and/or not renewing EPA regulations, the Administration can't do much more to beat her down than they are.

However, you have to give Bush credit, because he's trying his best to use the ritual that served him well in 2001 and declaring a national day of prayer and rememberance on September 16. In this story, you'll read that Dick Cheney was released from his hermetically sealed chamber and went to visit the region (not New Orleans itself, because a person with a heart condition has to avoid infection); God bless him, he stayed on message and promised that taxes wouldn't be raised. Makes sense, considering this is the only time in all of history that taxes have ever been cut when a nation is at war.

(3) Of all the reporters and commentators finding it within themselves to present the story that is happening as opposed to the story the government wants to be presented, the comments of MSNBC's Keith Olbermann have been found to be the most pointed. He is sarcastic and angry and makes no pretense of hiding his emotions with regard to the loss of life. Here's commentary Olbermann made on September 5 after Michael Chertoff, the Secretary of Homeland Security referred to the "city of Louisiana." Where others would use such a mistake as fodder for mockery, Olbermann uses it as a starting point for exposing the attitude of the Administration. If you don't want to watch the video, a transcript can be here found at Olbermann's "Bloggermann" blog. You may have to scroll down to the September 5 entry, but read the September 8 entry before you do as Olbermann presents further examples of fracturing within the party line over the response from Washington.

(4) Continuing with Olbermann for a little more, Boing Boing, of which my friend, the Fishmonger recently said, "More and more, all good things, if not from [G]oogle, are from boingboing," offered this comment from Olbermann:
[M]ost chillingly of all, this is the Law and Order and Terror government. It promised protection — or at least amelioration — against all threats: conventional, radiological, or biological. It has just proved that it cannot save its citizens from a biological weapon called standing water.
All that was just to lead in to this piece from September 1 edition of The Washington Post, "Extraordinary Problems, Difficult Solutions." Congress authorized 51.8 billion dollars (at this point, it would have killed them just round it to fifty-nine billion), but keep in mind this statement, buried five paragraphs into the article, from a senior policy analyst at the Environmental Protection Agency:
"There is not enough money in the gross national product of the United States to dispose of the amount of hazardous material in the area."
This article, from the British newspaper, The Independent describes the kind of hazards the standing water is going to create. Keep all of that in mind when you hear statements about rapid rebuilding of New Orleans.

(5) Something that isn't being discussed yet, is the long-term affect Katrina will have on the national economy. Forget about the increase in gas prices, the people displaced by the storm will have to work eventually. I've heard rumbles, but nothing from someone in government, of the federal government funding a modern version of the Works Progress Administration that would allow the people displaced to help rebuild the destroyed areas themselves; think of Katrina as an inverse of the dust bowl during the Depression. Roosevelt helped people regain their self-worth by creating jobs through the WPA were none existed; there is an obvious need for a workforce to eventually rebuild the area, so why not recruit from within so to speak? It worked before, so why not again. As long as Haliburton isn't involved; they've already have the contract to repair military bases hit by the storm, so they have their share. Let the people have some, too.

(6) And these people will need as much help as possible. As this story explains, the new bankruptcy laws that will take effect under Bush will not allow them to declare bankruptcy as easily, something hurricane victims almost always need to do if they are going to reclaim their lives. There is some hope for these people, though. In the House of Representatives, John Conyers (D-WI) and Jerry Nadler (D-NY) are introducing a bill to exempt the people affected by Katrina from the new law. If you believe that these people need some kind of a break, call your Congressperson at 1-800-959-2780 and him/her that you support the Conyers-Nadler bill.