Now Playing: Erik Satie--"Gymnopedie No. 3"
Even a week later, I'm still not entirely sure I can believe what's happened to New Orleans. I can't even begin to comprehend how people are actually staying down there and trying to survive. Amid all the competing ideas on how--and if--New Orleans should be rebuilt (with an interesting discussion over here), the best I can do is to hope that its people are able to reconstruct their lives or create new ones.
As just about everyone who reads this blog or knows me can suss out, I strongly disapprove of this presidential administration and its policies. That said, I think there's also enough blame to go around the New Orleans municipal and Louisiana state governments. Nobody's going to survive this catastrophe unscathed (and I find such musings counterproductive only if they actually impede the rescue and reconstruction effort). The colossal nature of the disaster, though, leads me to focus my ire on the federal government (which some will find unsurprising).
It's arguable that the levee system, Mississippi River, and the South in general have been neglected in the past under administrations of all political stripes. I think, though, that the problem's grown especially acute under Bush, and not just because of Iraq. The administration's officials, after all, have largely dedicated themselves to cutting "big government" down to its bare essentials. Whether these include disaster relief is questionable, and if anyone's read John Barry's Rising Tide (on the flood of 1927), it's remarkable to look at the similarities between the national governments' respective attitudes of the time. I wouldn't be surprised at such a situation, as the administration's ideological dedication to "states' rights" (and, it would seem, responsibilities) might lie at the root of communications difficulties and resentments between local, state, and federal government that flared earlier in the week.
I understand that there are probably a host of logistical difficulties involved in diverting troops, delivering relief, etc., but a lot of people will want to know why TV crews were reporting from the Convention Center on Tuesday, when genuine relief and evacuation arrived a few days later (and why water trucks were turned away, and a host of other questions). The good news: it looks as if most of the local population has been evacuated by now. The bad news: if what we're hearing is true, we might be in for some truly horrific images from the receding waters.
"Tomorrow": Last weekend.