Monday, September 05, 2005

While I Was Looking The Other Way

During the past few weeks I’ve spent so much time focusing on my band projects and my family's needs, (back-to-school for my daughters, job interviews for my husband) that I've largely ignored what's been going on in the news. My attention was grabbed by the recent, devastating hurricane and the horrifying aftermath. I was so upset by what I saw as the grossly inadequate response by the federal government to this major disaster that I felt compelled to act.

There's no question in my mind that the way President Bush reacted (or didn't react, until after the bad press started to take its toll on his public approval rating) is a direct reflection of his administration's complete disregard for the disenfranchised Americans: people of color, the poor...and add women to that list.

It took several days for the President to marshal the resources so desperately needed to save lives in Louisiana and Mississippi, but it took him only a few hours to nominate the conservative John Roberts to succeed William Rehnquist as the Chief Justice of the U.S. Again, Bush's actions are a direct reflection of his priorities: he is determined to overturn Roe v. Wade before the end of his term.

Why is it murder when a woman decides to terminate an unwanted pregnancy? And if the President knowingly refuses to spend the money on upgrading the New Orleans levees - which all reports indicated would be necessary to save lives in the event of a category 4 hurricane - and thousands of people die as a result, is that not murder?

The latest outrage: this morning, CNN reported that Kellogg, Brown and Root (a subsidiary of Halliburton) has been awarded the contract to rebuild the military facilities in the hurricane devastated areas. Again, no time is wasted where corporate greed and religious ideology are involved. But when it comes to saving the lives of what are largely poor, black Americans, I have to agree with Kanye West who had the guts to say on live t.v. what so many of us feel in our hearts: "President Bush doesn't care about black people."

It's so easy to get distracted by what's going on in our everyday lives, by our own worries and concerns, that we lose sight of the big picture, and that's what the powers that be count on. While we are all focused on the hurricane rescue efforts, the Senate Republicans and the Bush administration are seizing the opportunity to push through a massive break for the wealthiest, the repeal of the estate tax. While CNN runs tributes to the late Justice Rehnquist, no one is paying attention to the larger implications of a President who openly opposes a woman's right to choose stacking the Supreme Court with his appointees. While Fox News runs human interest stories about daring rescues in New Orleans, the Pentagon awards another multi-billion dollar contract to Dick Cheney's cronies. It's important to stay informed and the mass media often delivers kernels of truth within larger stories, but mass media more often serves to distract us rather than keep us informed. It's also natural to want to shut down when we're seeing unpleasant images or facing difficult choices. It's so much easier to focus on my daily life and let others worry about the big picture.

I've always believed that truth is compelling. The question is, how much more do we need to see before we decide to act? Let's get that greedy, murderous S.O.B. out of office now! Let's hope there's still someone down in New Orleans who can speed his retirement.


meesh said...

Excellent posting, Alice. I've been watching all along. My friend Jake lives in New Orleans, he got out with what he could fit in his car. He has no idea in what condition his house is nor when he can return. He fled to Houston, now he is coming out here to stay with his sister, since there is no telling how long it will be until he can return home.

I've been so outraged by all this as well. It is so surreal. I feel like this has to be the downfall of Bush...but after the last election I learned never to underestimate the gullibility of the American people. Still, this seems just too much to swallow. It's all so depressing.... I hope people stay angry on this one...


Anonymous said...

Here's an incredible account chronicled by journalist Jordan Flaherty:

Sara said...

Here's what I don't get. But wait, I sort of do get it because it fits with the Bush administration's absolute lack of commitment to its own fucking people. Okay so what I'm struggling with is the rush to rebuild the army outpost in New Orleans. This is so immediate it's fucking terrifying. It's a blatant disregard for the downtrodden, the easily forgotten. CNN and Fox News love to point out the rapes the murders the chaos the looting but frames it in such a way as to completely eclipse the fact that there are starving elders, babies, women, men, teens, probably clergy, gas station attendents, teachers, volunteers, etc. that are still there pretty much left for dead in a lot of cases, I'm sure. With all the technological advances we supposedly have WHY the fuck isn't everyone OUT at this point?

Another thing I'm finding interesting (your mention of kernals of truths within larger stories made me think of this) is the very large difference in numbers we're hearing about. Last night the local news reported that the official dead count was 58. WHA?HUH? The Mayor this morning estimated it at 10,000. People have died in accidents, en route to TX,, and in the Superdome (both of them). Bodies are floating in the water, a la Thailand, but no one is counting them? On the one hand I would very much like to think that "our guys and gals" are down there spending all of their time and energy rescuing people instead of bothering with the dead. But then again, what is this day six or seven? One would think they would be further along.

I like how there's all this criticism about people being ill-prepared for the hurricane. Um, people...our fucking government was ILL-PREPARED. Michael Moore was right to ask where the fuck our helicopters are!

Thanks for sending me this Alice. You always make me think.


Teresa said...

Hey Alice,
I was home from work on Thursday afternoon when I first saw the images coming out of New Orleans. They really hit me hard. I was absolutely shocked. It was three days after the storm then, and there was no relief, no plan, no one in charge. There it was in plain view, America's underclass left to fend for themselves, dying in the streets, absolutely forgotten. Did you know that the director of FEMA said Thursday that they were not aware that there were that many people in need of help. God, three days after the storm the director of our Emergency Management is clueless. Of course the resources of FEMA have been raided to fund Homeland Security. But I think it is pretty obvious that we are not secure, we are not prepared.
And what do you think of the three presidents coming out together and making an appeal to us to donate money. I mean isn't this what my taxes should be paying for already? But they have raided the treasury with corporate subsidies and tax breaks and this questionable war. These guys would make the robber barrons blush. I really hope more people start to see whats going on here. It is so obvious and frightening. America is a class society and we have seen quite vividly exactly what the leadership in America thinks of it's less fortunate sons and daughters. Truth is, they do not think of them at all.

Anonymous said...

here's a clear and frightening take on part of why the response in n.o. has been so delayed.

i used to live in n.o. and had friends who rode out the storm and fled when the levee broke. they're staying with family in texas having to look for new jobs, etc. not knowing when they can go back but still knowing how lucky they are compared to so many others. i've been watching cnn wondering when i'm going to see ex-coworkers or people i know sitting on a freeway left to die. the only good of this is that i think it's made it all the more undeniable that the emperor wears no clothes. hopefully we can do something in the face of this blatant "let them eat cake" attitude.

darkside777 said...

your words were to the point, Bush sucks and his vp too.
What those 2 men have done by their actions, speaks volumes of what is more important to them, themselves and not the citizens of the united states..

Anonymous said...

All the news out of New Orleans left me in this emotional funk from the shock and
being generally pissed off at several groups. I've been watching this for a week now.
Until I ran into this site:

So a bit a satire to balance out the emotional funkiness.

TG said...

Hey now, let’s not be too hasty with our judgment of the president. I’m in Texas and I’m here to say you people just don’t understand his plainspoken tongue or appreciate his folksy, bumpersticker brain. Here’s what he really said:

“It’s been hard, it’s hard work all this disaster stuff and the images of the wet people. Why, we’ve been working 5, 6 days. Working on getting’ down there. Figurin’ out where the hurricane was gonna hit, I think they named it Katrina, a girl’s name. Sheesh. Anyway, we might even have to work on a Sunday. That’s hard. It’s hard to do. What people don’t understand is, there was a big hurricane in New Orleans. Everything got wet. That’s hard to dry. People are looting and not cooking gumbo. See, it’s like this, when there’s a lot of water, people get wet. Wet all over. Even their houses are wet. Superdome is there. That’s hard to dry. Hard to get to. See, the power lines are down, you cain’t just walk over ‘em. Sheesh. But now the people, those people who got wet and are black, they’re getting’ lots of free food, free water, free clothes. These are your underprivileged. They’re better off now. See, what people don’t understand is, there’s bodies floating in the water. They’re dead people. They’re wet and they’re dead. That’s just not American. Gotta clean ‘em up, get ‘em out. That’s hard to do. Lot of tarp needed to cover ‘em. Gotta roll up your sleeves, get that tarp in there. Get a big hair dryer and start drying. Those dead bodies are dead. Gotta get ‘em out. See, the hurricane blew real hard, cause hurricanes have a lot of wind in ‘em and it knocked everything down. Got everything wet. All the wood and the…bricks and stuff. Can’t get in there too easy. Too many dead bodies and deconstructed buildings. Now, over on the good news side of the lake, the refuges still livin’ got rescued by the milltary. Runnin’ all over Texas now, looking for things, things to loot. And jobs, I guess. Gotta situate these refugees, get ‘em all a good minimum wage job so they can go back to Africa where they came from. Huh? Oh yeah, New Orleans. Sheesh. It’s hard work. We gotta a lotta loot here in Texas. Gotta be careful. Dry looters are dangerous. Wet ones cain’t move real fast. Might have to hose ‘em down around here so they don’t move so fast. Later on, after it’s dry and everyone has forgotten and gone on with their lives and New Orleans is getting rebuilt, we’ll have plenty of time to assign blame. Later. When it’s dry. And everyone’s forgotten.

May God have mercy on America and the tragedies of our situations.”


Anonymous said...

Nice satire TG, now check this article out:

chriso said...

The latest outrage: this morning, CNN reported that Kellogg, Brown and Root (a subsidiary of Halliburton) has been awarded the contract to rebuild the military facilities in the hurricane devastated areas. Again, no time is wasted where corporate greed and religious ideology are involved.

darkside777 said...

this is why it is so important to VOTE!

Anonymous said...

the biggest difference here is that it was nature and not u.s. bombs that devestate an area so that u.s. corporations can be handed a multi-billion restructuring contract. this has been going on since that criminal took office. -tonyreflex

Nicole P. said...

well said alice. it's so fucking disgusting, the whole thing. The only possibly redemption that might have come out of this awful (and wholly preventable) tragedy is that perhaps those lazy-ass motherfuckers known as the news media may be shaken out of their complicity with this criminal Administration.
thanks for your thoughtful and articulate piece...
nicole p.

Anonymous said...

Hi Alice,
One would hope that the American people would see the President and his staff for what they truly are, but unfortunately, there are a lot of lost sheep in this country. It is much easier to not have to think, to believe someone who uses God's name to sway people to his way of thinking. Somehow, Bush will have someone to blame, then all he has to say is "God Bless America", and the lost sheep will forget everything else. After seeing the response time of this tragedy, I surely hope that this country doesn't have another disaster, none of the cities or states for that matter have any sort of plan. May those in power now rot in their greed in hell.

Tommy Himself said...

I'm 38 years old. In my lifetime, there's never been a U.S. President with more blood on his hands.


Anonymous said...

Bush is not my favorite guy in the world either, but all of youse sound like Left wing Fundamentalists. You gotta tone the hubris down a bit or you are not going to get anywhere with your arguements. Too Fringe