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AT
Posted on Thursday, September 08, 2005 - 03:58 pm:   

I was hogging the Anything about NO, Katrina, etc thread, so I've moved here for discussing what to do now (also realising that I'm a foreigner now, so my own thoughts might be just crap)
Neal Stanifer was right. He said, I do not want Americans to calm down and forget to blame

The blame is now being turned into an issue of partisanship. Dan Froomkin's Wash Post column today says
White House officials must be breathing a sigh of relief about the news coverage this morning that increasingly depicts the controversy over the government's response to the Gulf Coast disaster as a largely -- or even purely -- partisan issue.If the initial sense of public outrage really becomes just another red vs. blue battle, then President Bush is likely to emerge no better or worse off than he was before.
see Partisan Squabble or Dereliction of Duty?

The Dems and the left are helping this perception, though, by sounding shrill, speaking of the past (even days ago is the past these days) instead of taking the lead in proposals of where to go from here, as an emergency unfolds of huge proportions. Jobs, education, housing, physical cleanup, the rebuilding of communities that contain different classes instead of those urban renewals that benefit only the few, and other places just dying. What to do about people who rented rather than owned, those who owned very little, and had no insurance? Little businesses, you name it. The list goes on. The way to seize the heart of the nation, I think, is to serve the nation's needs now for the future. Local authorities can't do it. They are overwhelmed. The states can't do it. They're broke. It needs federal effort, and a federal plan, working with the states and locals. The Democrats and the left must, I firmly believe, be proactive. Of course they can blame, and should, but the high ground is vacant now. There is just no plan for tackling what is the greatest crisis America has faced in a generation. Government must lead here, as the private sector can't. And moveon.org is, I think, tone deaf. Making Cindy Sheehan their poster child just drove them further from the American heartland that is revolted by her "Bush is the biggest terrorist" rhetoric. Dan Balz (Wash Post again) wrote: Lending further evidence that Katrina is rapidly becoming a war between the parties, the political action committee of MoveOn.org announced a public rally across from the White House this afternoon. It is to include evacuees demanding the president 'acknowledge that budget cuts and indifference by his administration led to the disaster in New Orleans and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.' "
What I think that the Dems need to do is to draft as wide a coalition as they can, and set up an emergency Shadow Cabinet to respond to this crisis as if they were the government themselves. They ARE, come to think of it--but where. These might be outrageous thoughts of mine, and the Democrats might be the weak-spirited windbags that they seem to have become, but then maybe I'm wrong.
Froomkin reports later in that article, A new Zogby poll shows Bush's job approval rating taking a hit in the wake of Katrina, dropping to an all-time low in that survey of 41 percent.
Only 36 percent said Bush's handling of the hurricane was excellent or good; 60 percent said it was fair or poor.

ONLY 36 percent? With 36 percent thinking Bush's handling of the hurrican was excellent or good, it'll take a lot of real work and positive, real proposals, to change the status quo, and to help America in this growing crisis.
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AT
Posted on Thursday, September 08, 2005 - 08:10 pm:   

Press crime:
"Flight attendant allegedly slapped on evacuee flight" is the headline from 5NBC5 (Dallas-Fort Worth)
http://www.nbc5i.com/travelgetaways/4947792/detail.html
But the slapping was done by an army vet, and the hero stuff, by a bunch of evacuees.
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AT
Posted on Friday, September 09, 2005 - 07:37 pm:   

THE DISASTER IS NOT PAST-TENSE. No one's looking at this thread, but hell, I'll just keep posting here anyway, because I can't sit this out silently.

Already, Katrina is being superceded by other news. Yet the disaster, the true disaster, is still in the making, and this must not be allowed to happen. Now is the time to not just watch and feel disgusted and sick at heart, but to speak up and act; and certainly not to blather about how this is the human state. World-weary nihilism is about as constructive now as holding out a glass of drinking water to one who needs it, and plonking a turd in it.

This is a time to be boosted in spirit and action by the example of millions of unsung heroics (as Dave G showed) of 'everyday people' throughout history and at this moment, and to remember that when people act together, we can and do accomplish great things.

Specifics need to be dealt with and specific things need to be spoken about, organised, and done. The focus must be on the people who've lived through this and are its living victims. Real victims, not the fake victims who got so much sympathy and pots of money from a gullible American public--the relatives of those who died in 9/11. That won't happen this time.

The lives of Katrina survivors are now disrupted in incalculable ways. Mentally, what do you think it does to a man who's been sheltering with his dachsund up a tree for days, and when he's finally rescued, he's told he can't take his dachsund, so he kills it, as it's 16 years old and can't survive? I know what it would do to me. Or a little boy who's had his pet taken from him to die on the streets? Banal cruelty and thoughtlessness to those who need empathy the most. Those are the inconsequential casualties of the mind--pets being considered subhuman even though for many people, especially the old {and anyone I would consider worth being a friend) they are FAMILY.

People who've lost human family, too, are in 'shelters' with two meals a day and what to do?. Being stuck in an airport for a few hours is enough boredom to drive most of us wild.

Yet there are increasing numbers of posts from people who complain about evacuees not staying in their shelters all day, but 'getting out'. Like they should sit on a cot all day and be thankful for meals and nothing to do except think about their shattered past, grieve, and do what about the future? Oh, yeah. Be thankful they're alive.

Jobs, home, prospects. Getting people into society again should be considered an emergency priority.
But Katrina is already past-tense, as far as major US media is concerned, and even those critical of it. The NY Times today has for the lead story, the rebuilding of Ground Zero.

The survivors of Katrina have been dispersed to so many places that they are now pretty much invisible unless used for political props--who knows where all the survivors are who being 'sheltered'? Where is there a list of who's where? In the public domain? What is the plan for them as far as getting them back into the stream of American life, with its faults, granted, but still, with dignity and freedom.

Carpetbaggers are snapping up fat contracts in Washington. The NY Times reports today, in Cost of Recovery Surges, as Do Bids to Join Effort: With Congress primed to spend billions of dollars on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, lawmakers and industry groups are lining up to bring home their share of the cascade of money for rebuilding and relief. White House officials and Congressional budget experts now assume that federal costs for the hurricane will shoot past $100 billion, which itself is more than twice the entire annual federal budget for domestic security. Congress on Thursday approved $51.8 billion in spending, bringing the total so far to more than $62 billion.

Yet will Katrina survivors be offered the jobs first? They seem to be being treated as inanimate objects, or as the enemy within, put into concentration camps.

The WPA has been derided, to some extent, as a make-work set of projects, yet it provided America with infrastructure that it didn't have before (including sidewalks and the huge Tennessee Valley Authority projects) and with art for the people and of the people and accessible history for everyone. The most important aspect of the WPA is that it rebuilt lives and gave people dignity and something to live for, and it made people feel connected to a society that was finally, there for them. The rebuilding of lives should be the top priority now, as physical rebuilding commences.
The American people must take control of the disaster, including taking care of the people hurt by it. What and who rebuilds builds a future.

As they drift away in the public's consciousness, they become the invisible, as are the who-knows-how-many who have disappeared in America in this so-called War on Terror.
Americans need to get control of the list of who's been displaced, and to be proactive about helping to rebuild those lives.
Americans need to be proactive about what money is spent on.
The Guardian reports today, Key rebuilding projects in Iraq are grinding to a halt because American money is running out and security has diverted funds intended for electricity, water and sanitation, according to US officials.Plans to overhaul the country's infrastructure have been downsized, postponed or abandoned because the $24bn (£13bn) budget approved by Congress has been dwarfed by the scale of the task.

And finally, Americans need to speak up together and act together. This isn't red and blue stuff. This is Americans together--if you make it so. Demonstrations are typically, anti-. Now is the time for demos for. Americans Together, I would call for. Walking with the people who have been hurt by this, and if they're
locked away without contact with the public for the crime of being victims, making sure that they damn well aren't. Making sure that demos are not only empty symbols.

The whole world is watching America. America and the West have almost entirely lost credibility since the reponse to 9/ll. Now is the time to restore some of the great damage done in these past days. Otherwise, America will continue to be the model that it has become, in all the worst ways.

It takes an enormous commitment from millions of people, but that is what makes a society. It takes creativity and drive and a certain stupid belief in people. Then, that stupid belief and action on the basis of it, is what make a society worth living in. Nothing is easy in this, and to a society grown used to their political goodness being reduced to buying ice cream, this might sound like preachy windbag stuff that no one wants to know. It is, however, the truth, from a grass-rootser from way back who still stupidly, works for change. That change, real change, does not come from the top but from that cliche--people like you. In Australia, people like you have changed our asylum seekers' detention policy. Australian writers Ben Peek, Maxine McArthur, and Trent Jamieson have written about asylum and loss of home in their fiction recently, and many Australian writers have been quite active in many ways, to change the status quo here.

Don't think you can't be a force. If you think you can't and don't, other forces take over, as they have. You live in a country that gives you enormous scope to change the status quo--if only you want to.

And as for that human condition stuff, I just don't buy it. Nor should you. My grandmother was saved by people who could only suffer for their actions. I was pulled out of a riot in South Africa by an old black man who could easily have been beaten to death for his actions. People put themselves in harm's way, and spend their lives going crazy trying to do what's right, and that, only that, is the thing to remember, be inspired by, and emulate.
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AT
Posted on Saturday, September 10, 2005 - 12:26 am:   

People like this:
The grandmother of 20 came to the Seattle Red Cross office alone...(syrup)."I think I'm what they need," said Margo Marshall, 56. "I'm poor. I'm black. I feel the connection." The grandmother of 20 is among 603 people who have volunteered at the Seattle Red Cross the past two days. "You see this happening in other countries -- you just didn't think it would ever happen here," said Marshall, who spent 20-plus years running adult foster care homes. (Red Cross volunteers flood Seattle office

should be at the center of decision-making--including as the highest priority, the people whose lives have been shattered, which means the people who live(d) in the region-- instead of being used as lowest-level volunteers, or viewed as passive recipients of charity. Or not viewed at all, as Neal pointed out in his annoyance at the way the press describes places so sloppily.

If she'd been Chertoff's deputy, which means in charge of FEMA, the response and priorities would have been different. Instead, class snobbery keeps people like her out of even the NGO committees, and people like the head of FEMA have headlines today saying "told to pack his bags" which means he goes back to Washington on full pay, as the punishment, not for people dying because of him ("Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job") but because of that $2000 debit card idea for displaced victims, "abruptly scrapped by the Bush administration.

FEMA has been spending $2 billion a day it was written somewhere today. You should know. You should get the right people in charge, and that goes for the NGOs, too.

The decisions being made now and the way the money has and I think will be spent remind me of the ads for those Iridium phones from Motorola, the ones that cost $5000 each and were like carrying a house brick. No one used them except oil companies and heavily funded Antarctic expedition type institutions, and even then they were nigh to useless as their coverage was so inadequate. The company ads that ran forever in places like New Scientist and the Economist, always showed Indian village women using them.
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Vera Nazarian
Posted on Sunday, September 11, 2005 - 06:38 pm:   

Thanks for the valuable resources, Anna!
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AT
Posted on Sunday, September 11, 2005 - 09:28 pm:   

Thanks, V. A new site up here:
http://www.annatambour.net/Katrina.htm
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Dunmore
Posted on Monday, September 12, 2005 - 09:40 am:   

Anna, you are a marvel. I would like to know your diet, because it seems to be a resource of boundless energy.

This is great info for those, like me, who are bereft of the skills required for researching things and finding things out.

It's much appreciated.
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Carole C
Posted on Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - 03:03 am:   

Ditto - always enjoy reading your stuff.
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Vera Nazarian
Posted on Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - 09:55 pm:   

Will link to the Katrina site on my next journal update.
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AT
Posted on Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - 10:14 pm:   

Thanks, Carole, Dunmore, Vera! You have removed the sting of my own embarrassment for spouting off. Carole, what are your thoughts? You have so much experience that I have wanted to know them since this mess began.
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Carole C
Posted on Wednesday, September 14, 2005 - 05:48 am:   

Hi Anna, itís nice to be asked! Iím surprised I come across as being experienced (youíre kidding, right?) I always thought I came across as childish and immature (for my age).

I did have some experience of the situation with the IRA bombings in London, though, as I used to work near the Houses of Parliament.

I spent about three years working in government offices Ė here is a brief extract of some time (say a period of about 2 months) there: every day I literally used to pick my way over the homeless and young dispossessed, who seemed to congregate around the area I worked, and go to work as a secretary for the Minister for the Homeless. Here I read about their marvellous plans to help the homeless (basically zilch), then I used to pick my way back home over the strewn bodies of the homeless now settling in for the night in their sleeping bags. Nothing *ever* changed, other than more homeless people arriving - I always used to think the whole thing seemed like a kind of surreal experience.

So, to extrapolate on from this, if the government *really* had wanted to help those people, who were literally on its doorstep, they could have done something effective in the space of a day Ė even if it was just providing *one place* locally to spend the night. How difficult is that? (I know it's more complex than that - but in the end that's the bottom line)

Like everyone else, I was extremely shocked and angered by the New Orleans debacle, but also I was somewhat surprised that people expected more from Bush, when after all, everybody knows what he is like. Itís a pity a lot of the organisations that offered help didnít just press on anyway, and ignore all the red tape (which they probably would, in hindsight).

Also the sheer scale of the disaster means that a lot of people are jumping on the political bandwagon (not to say they are wrong Ė they are not) when some things could be put down to the logistics of such an enormous swathe of destruction.

There is one point which I donít think that many people have covered though, and thatís - why the f*ck doesnít America get rid of itís guns? If people didnít have access to guns, they wouldnít be able to form armed gangs.

I did wonder what would happen if the same thing happened in the UK (if you think that the area covered is the size of the UK). I imagine there would be absolute chaos. But Iím not sure that there would be as much violence. (But I could be wrong).

Lastly, I feel really hesitant about expressing any kind of puny opinion about this anyway, (unless I send my opinions as actual aid), when this is such a mega disaster that really you can only look on with mouth open, and hope that as many people as possible survive it.

PS: I confess that I do shrink sometimes from putting my political views online, (as I know they tend towards the extreme). However that does not mean that I donít read gleefully and silently agree with other peopleís postings!

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Minz
Posted on Wednesday, September 14, 2005 - 08:31 am:   

I'll point out the violence didn't really get out of hand until supplies ran out and there seemed to be no relief in sight.

When Hurricane Andrew hit FL last year, there were caravans of FEMA trucks with ice, water, food, as well as federal troops literally sitting on the border, waiting for the storm to pass, moving in place to bring law, order and aid. Of course, it was an election year in a key swing state run by the president's brother, but they had the pieces in place and ready to roll then...
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Carole C
Posted on Wednesday, September 14, 2005 - 01:50 pm:   

Actually, that makes things sound worse, because if they could do that then, then what happened this time?
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Carole C
Posted on Wednesday, September 14, 2005 - 01:56 pm:   

- 'And as for that human condition stuff, I just don't buy it. Nor should you. My grandmother was saved by people who could only suffer for their actions. I was pulled out of a riot in South Africa by an old black man who could easily have been beaten to death for his actions. People put themselves in harm's way, and spend their lives going crazy trying to do what's right, and that, only that, is the thing to remember, be inspired by, and emulate. '

Agree with you there, Anna. I don't think people are indifferent, it just seems that way (maybe because they think things will never change?)
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AT
Posted on Thursday, September 15, 2005 - 05:37 pm:   

Carole, it's what you've said here and there, often with I'm sure, a lot of worry that it was stupid, that made me look for your postings wherever you do. "Immature"? Hah.
First, guns. You asked, There is one point which I donít think that many people have covered though, and thatís - why the f*ck doesnít America get rid of itís guns? If people didnít have access to guns, they wouldnít be able to form armed gangs.
Who's game to answer that one?

And I think you pointed to a great truth that isn't recognised as it should be: if the government *really* had wanted to help those people, who were literally on its doorstep, they could have done something effective in the space of a day Ė even if it was just providing *one place* locally to spend the night. How difficult is that? (I know it's more complex than that - but in the end that's the bottom line)

Increasingly, as the link between people and 'community'has unravelled (real community as opposed to government/media-annointed 'leaders'), the gap between government and electorate (voting or not) has widened, as a political class has sprung up that is quite divorced from the reality of life, especially at the bottom.

Can this trend be reversed? The confirmation of the next US Chief Justice (confirming that his brilliantly oiled stealth campaign worked a treat) puts yet another frighteningly disconnected elitist in a seat of power that will affect all of us beyond many of our lives. Thomas Oliphant just wrote about him: The Stealth Appointee
The hurricane and the different treatment accorded different victims of it exposed more than weak levees and degraded wetlands. It also exposed the institutional factors that make one-fourth of New Orleans officially poor as well as nearly 40 million other Americans -- some of them based in economic injustice, but some of them clearly racial, as anyone with a TV set could see this month.Roberts's record is that of a defender of these arrangements, which will put him in the mainstream of Supreme Court actions going back a generation.

Minz pointed out the difference between FEMA's response in Jeb Bush's state, and now, which leads me to the questions:
Minz, do you think that the Bush dynasty is now a dog's dinner?
and
How do you think Katrina has affected Americans in terms of their attitudes to involvement and interest in government affairs? I ask this 2nd question because Olipant wrote, the Pew Center found that only 18 percent of the public is paying very close attention to the Roberts ascendancy, as opposed to more than 70 percent who were very closely following Hurricane Katrina and its embarrassing aftermath.


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AT
Posted on Thursday, September 15, 2005 - 05:46 pm:   

Interesting list. Technorati's top blog searches for last hour
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AT
Posted on Sunday, September 18, 2005 - 03:32 pm:   

See USA Freedom Corps
What do you think? Watch the pictures roll, in particular. I was directed to it by an international (non-government-funded) think-tank that I belong to. Their message sent to all us fellows went ...For those seeking organizations involved in the relief and rebuilding effort, you can find a listing of organizations and their websites through this US government resource: http://www.usafreedomcorps.gov/

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