September 2nd, 2005

Musical dream, possibly inspired by Legomancer’s wonderful dream posting.

Continue reading

2 Sep 2005, by

Pants on Fire.

I know that things are going to get worse before they get better. Dread rides the corners of my mind, even though I have verified the whereabouts of everyone I know in the vicinity of the Gulf Coast. I know that it is not time to lay blame or point fingers or consider accusations. All that behavior is just a smug diversion that clouds the issue, and saps energy from what’s important: to lend a helping hand. I’m still struggling to digest the enormity of what has happened, the scale of those who have been affected. Any statistical ramification I follow stuns me : the leap in the number of people who are homeless, or will be seeking jobs, or have nothing left to lose. Even when I don’t concentrate on people it’s overwhelming : the loss of a major port city, the refineries along the Gulf Coast closed, pollutants despoiling the Gulf coast and likely increasing the Gulf dead zone, the loss of all the goods warehoused in New Orleans (like coffee) waiting to go to stores to be sold. What has happened at the zoo? At the art museum? At the aquarium? And outside of all that, which I cannot take in, there’s still a more critical matter. I cannot comprehend the stunning number of casualties, of which we have not heard even preliminary counts. There are people dying now, and there will be people dying tomorrow, and into next week they will still be dying. They may die from exposure or starvation or dehydration or the sicknesses that will soon spread. I cannot face this inevitability without feeling profoundly distressed. Why is something so predictable not also avoidable?

September 1, 2005 aerial view of flooded New Orleans

I know this is not the time or place to be angry. My anger is trivial in the face of this overwhelming and terrifying tragedy. And yet. I am furious. Probably my anger is misplaced, a backlash against the horror that’s constantly with me now. All I know is, I’m angry and I’m done being nice, or even circumspect, about it.

Yesterday Bush said in a speech, “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.”

WHAT? Excuse me? If I, a regular run-of-the-mill civilian living in the Midwest with no connections and no power knew that the levees would not hold, how can anyone claim ignorance? No one anticipated? Really? Because little old me sitting here with nothing more than my radio was told multiple times that the levees would break under anything over a CAT 3, and Katrina was clocking at CAT 5 (and a half, some people reported, though I don’t know how you get the extra half) before landfall. So she turned away and gave New Orleans a glancing blow instead of the full force, so she was only a CAT 4 when she came ashore, I could still do the math, and I did expect a breach of the levees. The first mandatory evacuation in the history of the city called for because no one believed the levees would be breached? I don’t think so. Not that I could picture the devastating reality, and the pictures of flooded New Orleans I finally saw yesterday made me cry, but you can’t expect me to believe that this caught everyone at every level of government: military, state, parish, city, and federal with their pants down. So what is it, then, Mr. President? You think I’m stupid? Or gullible? You think I don’t care if you aren’t honest? Are you really this insolent, that you will stand up before me as the leader of my country and lie to me about what you knew and what we all knew? Because, outside of not genius, not specially informed, regular me, here’s another set of people who thought the levees were in a bad way, and unlikely to hold:

I call bullshit. Was one thing when I suspected you a liar, and when your facts never meshed with what I read, heard and observed from other primary sources. Now you’re asking me to disbelieve firsthand knowledge that I have. Pretending that a week ago neither I nor you could possibly have suspected the city might flood and we’re just as gosh-golly-shocked-surprised as possibly could be. I’m sorry, Bush. I won’t play that. As far as I’m concerned, you’re just saying you didn’t anticipate a breach so you won’t have to explain why you didn’t do anything about it. Blood’s not even as high as it’s going to get and you’re already washing your hands of it. I cannot respect a leader who does not respect his people.

President Bush also talked about being severe with looters and sundry lawbreakers: “I think there ought to be zero tolerance of people breaking the law during an emergency such as this, whether it be looting, or price gouging at the gasoline pump, or taking advantage of charitable giving, or insurance fraud.”

I cannot explain how disinterested I am in looters, though I’ll try. Things are not as important as people. Property is not an inviolable right. There’s more to life than the buying, selling, stealing and ownership of material objects. Yes, I don’t understand why someone would shoot at a rescue helicopter. Yes, attacking hospital staff for their dwindling pharmaceuticals seems criminal and outrageous. Yes, I can’t imagine why, with everything gone, a flat panel TV would suddenly be attractive, even free for the taking from the plundered big box store. It’s puzzling and incongruous but I can only imagine that if I were in a place where the bodies of my neighbors are floating past me in the street I might become just a tad unhinged myself. Let’s just try for crowd control and avoiding riots and protecting the masses, ok? We need only enough security to be able to evacuate people, and not an ounce more. Leave the stuff (except possibly the guns, which definitely need to be controlled, but then I’ve always thought we had too many of those around) alone and let the looters take whatever they want, until they can take no more. When the sun goes down, they’re still stranded in a flooded city.


Two of the cities of my heart have been hit hard this year. I say prayers for New Orleans, Gulfport, Biloxi, and all the places in between. I pray for all the people who this instant are living horrors I couldn’t possibly understand. May they find peace where they can, in the small unsullied places, because the times are uncertain now and are likely to turn more so. I know that my tears cannot help you, who are hungry and tired and remembering that there was a time when you could take a shower whenever you felt like it and you didn’t have to smell the stink of corpses on each breath, but they are what I have to share with you. I weep for you, and I pray for you, and I send you the small pittance I can through the Red Cross. I pray too for the rescue workers, who work beyond the point of exhaustion in a task that is grim in its inevitable toll. Every person you bring back to our world counts. You are all heroes, and you represent us in ways I could only wish that our president might. I thank you.

Other links :

New Orleans Aug31 2005

Continue reading

Powered by WordPress