Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Symbolism of Katrina

All the ironies and all the contradictions brought to the United States by the Bush Administration have come together in the perfect storm of Katrina:

  1. Katrina is a storm caused by global warming (though the wingnuts have a spin for that too), an issue which Bush refuses to face. Of course, any actions taken by Bush would not have prevented Katrina, but might help ameliorate some storms in the future, and the symbolism is perfectly clear. Flooding along the coast is going to get worse, and the Bush Administration's response is to pretend that everything is just ducky. The failure to pay any attention to science is the consistent approach of the current American government, and includes such things as support for intelligent design, failure to take account of ecological warnings, and opposition to stem cell research.

  2. The war in Iraq meant that the state National Guards, who would normally bear much of the burden of disaster relief, were in Iraq.

  3. At about the same time as the disaster on the Gulf Coast, a panic caused by a rumor of a bomb killed 600 to 1000 people in Iraq at the Aaimmah bridge, all of whom would not have died if the Americans hadn't attacked and occupied that country. When all the deaths are added up, you have to wonder whether Iraq or the United States had the worse day.

  4. FEMA has now officially been revealed to have been completely transformed into a Homeland Security monitor. FEMA's new job as Big Brother means it is incompetent at its old job of handling disaster management, and seems incapable of even arranging for the sand-bagging of a crucial dyke (see also here and here and here). The new Orwellian security state has left Americans unprotected by any branch of government. More symbolism: Canada offered to send help, but was turned away, not for any principled reason, but because the Homeland Security anti-terrorism provisions made it impossible for the over-burdened American bureaucracy to process the Canadians into the country. People are now going to start dying as a direct result of the shift in priorities caused by the war on terror.

  5. Bush's tax cuts coupled with the cost of the war in Iraq and the cost of Homeland Security directly led (or here or here) to an inability to fund repair and heightening of levees required by the rapid sinking of New Orleans ("New Orleans is sinking man and I don't wanna swim"). Like the people on the Aaimmah bridge, New Orleans is a casualty of the war in Iraq.

  6. Bush cut off his five week vacation by two days, so he could be seen to be leading the recovery effort. Of course, if he'd seen his way fit to spare five days, he might have been able to do something helpful. While people were drowning, he was strumming (Nero fiddling while Rome burned). Did Bush play Led Zeppelin?: "If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break, When The Levee Breaks I'll have no place to stay." Or maybe Bob Dylan: "Crash on the levee, mama, Water's gonna overflow, Swamp's gonna rise, No boat's gonna row"?

  7. It is difficult not to notice that this was damage done to states which most strongly supported Bush. It's good to know that he doesn't play favorites: the people who support him are just as screwed as everybody else. They'll never blame him for their plight, as he's a 'God-fearin' man'.

  8. While parts of the city are under 20 feet of water, and other cites in even worse shape, the press covers for Bush by looking at the issue as a problem of looting! They never stop spinning . . .


The Battle of New Orleans in 1815 was a brilliant victory for the fairly recently-born country of the United States of America, its coming out party as a major world player (the subject of yet another song). The Sinking of New Orleans one hundred and ninety years later represents the beginning of the end of American dominance, caused by an amazingly symbolic collection of Bush Administration stupidities and mistakes.

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