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Friday, 9.2.05:  New Orleans Armageddon

I can't help being mesmerized by the ongoing disaster in New Orleans. It's unreal. It's like one of those post-apocalyptic movies where once-great cities have been abandoned to chaos.

Whereas 9/11/01 show an America that was noble and heroic in the face of catastrophe, Hurricane Katrina is revealing what a mess we are.

It shows that, when Armageddon comes, the people Left Behind are not the sinners but the poor. But then, here and there, we reveal our prejudices and our ignorance by trying to turn the poor into sinners. Why didn't they evacuate when they were told to?!

Somehow, in New York's financial district, there were thousands of helpers on hand. Somehow, the so-called Sun Belt is only a thin veneer over the worst of the Old South -- crumbling infrastructures and incompetent government. Or maybe it's not The Old South but The Old City. The exhausted, depleted core of the inner city has gotten flushed to the surface.

And the exhausted, depleted core of the federal government stands flat-footed, letting all the smoldering anger of the dispossessed breed more chaos. What happened to our American can-do spirit? Our fabled know-how? The only people apparently "pre-positioned" were FEMA bureaucrats with their clipboards. I thought we knew how to airlift food and supplies. I know that the Louisiana and Mississippi National Guards are mostly in Iraq -- are all the helicopters and planes there too?

The same New Orleans scenario could have played out if the London subway bombs had been detonated on the levies instead. The government certainly knows how to give press conferences and reel off their point-by-point action plans and list all the resources headed for New Orleans and Biloxi. Any day now...

Meanwhile the filling stations jack up their prices and the oil companies count their money.

America the beautiful.




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