Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Friday, September 02, 2005

Where is the National Guard?

So the President told us yesterday not to buy gas unless we need to. I often buy gas I don't need, just for kicks. I can't hoard it when it's cheap, and can't NOT buy it when it's expensive. Idiot.

Why the HELL wasn't every national guard helicopter in the country in New Orleans by Wednesday morning? Are they ALL in Iraq? During the LA riots, they got to town within 48 hours. What is Governor Schwarzenegger doing right now? Every other chickenshit governor has sat back and done nothing, waiting for Bush to tell them what to do. He thinks it's time for a grandiose fundraising effort - thousand-dollar plate chicken dinners or some such. Anybody else realize that fundraising is all GWB ever knew how to do?

The military could have, and should have, descended within hours when the news got out Monday afternoon that the levees were broken. But that's Texan generosity for you. Sorry for any Texans reading this, but I just heard that they're turning away people from the Astrodome now, and sending them to San Antonio, 200 miles away and more, and I'm furious. There are no high schools between New Orleans and the Astrodome? No room in City Hall? No room in the governor's mansion in Baton Rouge or Little Rock?

Got money - there's a hotel room for you. The only refugees are people too poor to have car and drive to a motel in Baton Rouge or Lafayette. The one who use public transportation, and nobody thought to commandeer the whole bus system to get them out of town on Sunday. So they walked to the Superdome. Why not just pay for a few holiday inns or Motel 6s?
The problem is that the Republicans who run Washington are too damned cheap, and the attitude of local and national business seems to be to charge $6 for gas and say there's no room at the inn. Harrah's casino in Mississippi is apparently going to pay all employees for 90 days, although there's no work possible. That's corporate citizenship. So the gamblers reach out generously, while Wal-Mart says only that its employees can apply for up to $1000 in assistance. It then donates $1 million, which is .0000001% of Sam Walton's caviar bill. And I don't mean crappy paddlefish eggs. The Senate just voted $10.5 billion, which it will no doubt take out of Medicaid later (the $200 billion war in Iraq, on the other hand, just goes on the national credit card - our credit card).

The problem is that these people are poor and mostly black. Nobody wants them and nobody gives a damn.

17 comments:

Dr. Strangelove said...

As Mayor C. Ray Nagin of New Orleans issued what he called a "desperate S.O.S." for help, Col. Terry Ebbert, Director of Homeland Security sad angrily that the whole recovery operation had been "carried on the backs of the little guys for four goddamn days... We are like little birds with our mouths open and you don't have to be very smart to know where to drop the worm... It's criminal within the confines of the United States that within one hour of the hurricane they weren't force-feeding us. It's like FEMA has never been to a hurricane."

I just heard a reporter on NPR's "Day to Day" in rural Mississippi this morning. In a response to a question from the news anchor about whether he had ever visited the third world, the reporter said, "This is the third world." He exclaimed in disbelief, "Where is the government?"

And yet yesterday, that same mayor of New Orleans also ordered 1,500 police off search-and-rescue duty so they could stop looters. And today, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana said 300 National Guard members from Arkansas were flying into New Orleans to reclaim the city from looters. "They have M-16's and they are locked and loaded," she said. This bothes me. I mean, if we had enough people down there, this would make sense--but since we clearly don't, what are we saying about our priorities?

With communications so difficult down there, I suspect that the Office of Homeland Security, FEMA, State relief agencies, National Guard groups, the Red Cross, and other NGOs are trying to do whatever they can even if they cannot coordinate. It's probably chaos all up and down the line. My question for the blog is: who is supposed to be in charge of coordinating everything? Is it Michael Chertoff? Donald Rumsfeld? George Bush? The head of FEMA? Shouldn't we know the answer without even having to think?

Maybe that's the underlying problem.

Anonymous said...

First post on this blog.

I am a French Canadian, studying in communications, being a regular reader on this blog, I feel that your writings are more than necessary.

While reading this post I thought about my situation in Canada, right now there is some kind of ''vague'' with being canadian. It seems that right now is a real good time to be canadian. On the other hand, if a catastrophy as big as this one went to happen in the north east, we would be in the same situation as the southern people from New Orleans.

Canadian forces are weak and underfinanced, they are good in humanitarian interventions, but could not be prepared for an event like this. Being your neighbors we could only rely on you and as we see how things are going right now politically and specially how the world is climatically changing, I feel I have good reasons to be worried.

Thinking back about New Orleans, it is a shame indeed that the government is at war and is not much concerned about is own people suffering inside its borders. Furthermore, I would blame the media coverage, even in Canada, to prefer exposing the thieves in the streets who are dying instead of blaming the governement with his lack of actions taken towards this humanitarian crisis.

I am angry too, I am raging. This crisis isn't political it's humanitarian and it should stay that way. What kind of segregation are we facing now? 

// posted by Heicktopiertz

Dr. Strangelove said...

Thank you for your post, Heicktopiertz. I, too, am angry that our government has not responded better. I hope Canadians and people from other nations will watch how the U.S. handles the disaster in New Olreans. It is a warning and a lesson. In the future, we all need to be better prepared--not just so we can help ourselves, but so we can help each other.

Anonymous said...

The black caucus makes a good point: why aren't hotel chains offering up rooms and banquet space for refugees? Where are the airlines (although, I've just read that there are about four flights an hour bringing in supplies and flying out refugees). But where is Corporate America?
 

// posted by serena

Anonymous said...

I think the coverage has been really poor. African American commentators have complained that the coverage of New Orleans focussed on looting (How to tell the difference between theft and smashing a store window to get at the bottled water on display?). At the same time, coverage of the mostly White victims in and around the resort towns of the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, has been postivily gushing with unrestrained sympathy.

Notice also that Bush took a "touching" walk through Biloxi and most of the faces I saw in that tour were white. But he flew over New Orleans in a military heliocopter. Why hasn't Bush gone to the Astro Dome or done a moving foto-op like he did at 9/11? My suspicion is that he only knows how to do revenge and only relates to White, Petit-Bourgois, Christian Conservatives. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

"My suspicion is that he only knows how to do revenge and only relates to White, Petit-Bourgois, Christian Conservatives. "

I wonder how the Secretary of State would respond to such a comment? 

// posted by Blaine Minton

Anonymous said...

I would guess she would defend him (after all, kissing up to the boss is how she made a career out of being a Soviet Union expert in a post-1989 world). But that's hardly the point. The fact that Bush and his advisors appointed a handfull of African Americans and minorities does not mean that he personally conects with those communities as a whole or identifies with them. There is a difference between hiring a university provost from Stanford who happens to be African American and having genuine sympathy with poor, black people suffering during a disaster.

Bush goes to Biloxi and has touching photo ops with white folks. Then flies over New Orleans and I have yet to see any touching photo moments with African Americans in or from New Orleans and I've spent most of the day watching the news. I have no doubt that if such an event took place it would be on TV every 30 minutes. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

Your thoughts can best be defined with one word: caustic.

It is you who is categorizing suffering. It is you who is doing sympathy calculus. It is you who resorts to calling Bush a de facto racist for the simple and most obvious of reasons: you disagree with his politics.

I have a hard time believing you were raised by Republicans. 

// posted by Blaine Minton

Anonymous said...

I was indeed raised by republicans. Just not your kind of them. My kind of Republicans were anti-big business (like oil etc) and pro small business. They were strongly in favor of a balanced budget. Finally they had no patience for a government that thought it had a role in private lives of its citizens. I still support policies based on those principles. But Bush is on the opposite side of all them as are the dominant wing of the GOP in the South. And I'm long past the point of blind loyalty to party ID.

That said, I don't think Bush is a racist in the sense of his sitting around thinking about ways to hurt people of color (and I never said he was). But it is an amazing coincidence that his behavior is so lop sided. I don't think it is concious on his part. I do think it is thoughtless. It just didn't occur to him that people might see a problem.

As for being "caustic" I shudder when I think that anyone could look at what is going on in New Orleans think that things are going as well as possible and that race has not played a major role somewhere along the line in contributing to this disaster.  

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Blaine Minton said...

"I was indeed raised by republicans. Just not your kind of them. "

My kind of them? Where do you see evidence of my political ideology? You make the assumption based on my defense that I'm an ideologue. You are developing a poor habit of doing so.

I don't see race as the issue. I don't think race defines anything other than pigment levels. I think it is a cultural issue, which would explain why both whites and blacks are caught in this predicament. My theory can be supported; yours fails the second a white family is brought into the equation.

// posted by Blaine Minton

Dr. Strangelove said...

RxR says it's a race issue; Minton says it's a cultural issue. Well, here's my two cents: I think it's a class issue. LTG said it in his original post--the problem is that the victims of this hurricane are poor. (OK, he also added that they were "mostly black" but that's not the part I'm agreeing with.)

The basic reason why we didn't spend money on flood control is that we wanted to spend it elsewhere. Louisiana and Mississippi are poor states that already take much more from the federal government than they give, and the politicians from the rich states didn't want to spend even more money on them than we already do. (Louisiana takes 3:2, Mississippi takes almost 2:1--for more information, see some statistics RxR brought to our attention in an earlier post.) And as RxR points out, most of us citizens in those states are guilty of desiring this as well--we can't just blame our politicians.

While I understand that poverty and race are deeply interrelated in our country--especially in the deep South--I suspect cold hard cash had more to do with it than anything else. But then, I guess that's the economist in me talking.

Anonymous said...

It is a class issue, but the class one finds themselves in, at least in America, is a function of values/culture (at least within a generation or two), not race. In my previous post I failed to elucidate values as the prime mover, but that is indeed what I feel (I think culture springs from values). I know there’s a disparity in the number of blacks versus whites suffering from this disaster. For fear of being accused of saying blacks don’t have values, I remind you to visit my previous post; the disproportionate suffering is not indicative of racism or inferiority, but indicative of a popular culture within black America that attacks people who pursue excellence through education as Uncle Tom’s, sellouts, etcetera. Contrary to the distinctly Marxist approach many appear to be taking, it is not economics which determine behavior, it is not race, it is values. The popular black culture I’m referring to exposes this with utter clarity; synonymous with much of black culture is the culture of the rap world, and in this world there are those who achieve wealth, but are still laden with the utter moral ineptitude we read so much about in the papers. Those who follow are often poor, and those who lead are rich – end result, the same: moral confusion.

As I tried to convey in my previous post, Condoleezza Rice as an example of the utter parity with which the people of America embrace equality, but alas, this is thrown aside as the simple result of brown-nosing and situation. To those who look upon this as such, and I’m talking to you Raised by Republicans, how are we ever to shed from our dialogue this antiquated approach to race relations that results from categorizing people by the color of their flesh. I’m conservative, yes – I support President Bush, yes – but guess what Raised by Republicans, in direct reference to your response to mine, the Secretary of State never kissed my ass, and yet, I pray to God she becomes President one day. Go figure.
 

// posted by Blaine Minton

Anonymous said...

Blaine, please clarify: "but the class one finds themselves in, at least in America, is a function of values/culture"  Are you suggesting that if someone adopts the correct values and culture they will prosper? If so, which values should one adopt to be prosperous? Also, what if everyone adopted the values you suggest? Would everyone be prosperous?

A secondary question: If values and culture drive class, how does one explain the high correlation between poverty and race? Is the culture of the majority of African Americans inferior - for lack of a better word - to that of the middle classes? If that is the case, how does one disentangle that cultural explanation from the racial explanation?

I think this is an important issue to debate and it's far more worthy of our time than our mutually falling into name calling and sniping. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Dr. Strangelove said...

Let's return focus to the hurricane for a moment. The questions are: (1) why were more funds not allocated to flood prevention before the storm; and (2) why was the Federal government so slow to respond after the storm?

I think the answer to (1) is that the threatened areas were poor, and the answer to (2) is that the agencies in charge were incompetent. Some have argued on this blog that the race of the victims had something to do with it--implying that the federal government would have reacted faster if the victims had been poor white folk--but I think the plight of the poor white folk in Mississippi belies that answer.

As for Minton's point about cultural values, I believe (?) he agrees with me that poverty (and not race) is the core issue, but Minton delves deeper and asserts that the poverty has its roots in cultural values. Although Minton ascribes these cultural values to "black America," I think the argument is stronger if one points out that these cultural values--wherever they may have originated--now cross racial lines to poor white Southerners too.

But poverty, racism, and culture are interrelated--there is more than just a simple cause and effect. Poverty can have its roots in certain cultural values but it can also give rise to them. Racism can cause poverty but it can also arise from it. And cultural values can encourage racism just as racism can cause a backlash in cultural values.

In other words, to say that victims of Hurricane Katrina were poor because they "attack people who pursue excellence through education" is at best a half-truth. There are other reasons. For example, most people are poor for the simple reason that their parents were poor. Yes, yes, I know we have greater social mobility in the U.S. than anywhere else--and there are are lots of heartwarming rags-to-riches stories out there--but let's face it: it's a lot harder to make it if you start from nothing and that's all there is to it.

Another reason why blacks are disproportionately poor is racism. It's not the only reason--Bill Cosby and others agree with Minton that values have a lot to do with it. But to ignore racism is dishonest. After all, the reason why we can all name Condoleeza Rice is that she's the only black person in the Bush Administration in any position of note.

The trouble seems to be that those who point to cultural values often feel a need to say racism has nothing to do with it--and vice-versa--for fear that their point will be lost if they admit its not the sole cause. But the truth is that it's a mixture. And furthermore, poverty breeds poverty, values, and racism--it's a big vicious circle. The only way out is to attack all three: provide economic assistance and opportunity, try to change ingrained cultural values against education etc., and work against racism.

Anonymous said...

RBR, consider the armistice signed.

In response to you, I must defer to Dr. Strangelove. I think his comments are poignant and well said. The only qualification I make is that in this trifecta of causes which Strangelove points out, I believe racism is in the exceeding minority of causes. At to the extent that it exists, I imagine it will always exist, and to try and solve it directly is more likely than not a fruitless effort. Once again, racism is not an animal unto itself -- it is a product of poor values.

Once again, in a hat tip to Strrangelove, I agree that poor values aren't the sole cause of the plight of people, but I will stand by my assertion that good values are the primary mechanism for the resolution of that plight.  

// posted by Blaine Minton

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