Other: Off We Go!
New Oleans has never been what one might call a "refined" city - sophisticated, yes; civilized, yes, but in a very mean way. Throughout it's history, the Big Easy has been a legendary haven for smugglers, thieves and whores. Decadence and passion have always been simmering low on the streets, just below roof height, languidly stirred by the movements of passerby. It's a primordial swamp of human interaction, a cauldron that stirs itself. Life is thick and rough there, and always has been.
Without walls, a zoo becomes a jungle. The walls fell five days ago.
With much of the National Guard ("One Weekend A Month, My Ass!") training to be in Afghanastan and Iraq meaning it will take 3 days for 30,000 guardsmen to arrive, money cut from regional services to help fund the war in Iraq (and tax cuts), the president of the United States playing golf and guitar during this astounding disaster then giving a dead-eyed, emotionless reading to a prepared speech (and yes, he ends it with "God Bless You"), the head of FEMA (Federal Emergncy Management Agency) blaming those who can't afford cars for not leaving their homes, and RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman vitally concerned with estate taxes, will there be any questions about the state of emergency preparedness in the United States?
Michelle Malkin has one: What is taking so long for the professionals to get it together and help these people? The down side, of course, is that she was talking about celebrities doing this, not actual government agents. She sometimes gets it right, but of late she has been an unmitigated cunt. Don't like that word? Tough. It fits.
Here's a better one: why did president Bush refuse help from Russia? Canada is also ready with military teams and DART to provide aid the instant it's asked for, and we've conducted an invetory of medical supplies to send, but why the delay? The police have been overwhelmed: riots have broken out in at least two prisons; looting is rampant; violence and rapes have happened inside the Superdome where people originally went for shelter; hospitals are getting looted and coming under sniper fire; gangs are literally roaming the streets... Martial law was declared days ago, but without the ability to enforce that law, it's meaningless.
One from Tim Naftali over at Slate: after the 9/11 attacks, shouldn't there be far better response time to sudden disasters by now? The levees that broke were considered prime potential targets for terrorist strikes, so why was no one ready for this possibility? And terrorists wouldn't have warned people on the Weather Channel first. For a chilling read, check out their just-started (August 20th is the first entry) Weblog and read it in chronological order, if you can stomach it. Or this article written in June about New Orleans' vulnerability to flooding ("New Orleans could no longer exist.").
Parting shot goes to Anderson Cooper, talking to Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu after he's spent four days in the region. This man is pissed, and isn't taking platitudes well.
Almost three thousand miles away, I'm going to see if I can sleep.