The president’s 35-minute Air Force One flyover of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama was the perfect metaphor for his entire presidency: detached, disconnected, and disengaged. Preferring to take in America’s suffering — whether caused by the war in Iraq or Hurricane Katrina — from a distance. In this case, 2,500 feet.
There will be several good things to come out of the Katrina nightmare – a better understanding (at least by some) of the horrors of poverty, a federal government which will be eyed more suspiciously by the public, and perhaps a new awareness by the media of how to do their jobs.
How Cindy Sheehan and Katrina Woke the Media from their Somnolence
I have a codeword for it. I call it “Sharks and Condit”. Others may call it different things. What “it” is is, for lack of better words, journalists resting on their laurels, otherwise known as arses. (Rhymes, perhaps too well, with farces.)
You saw it on 9/10 and the months before. And it has been the zeitgeist from whence these well-heeled articulates go to bat for their corporate sponsors. I mean, report the news. You’d almost think that they were paid to keep their mouths shut. But alas, this is America, and things like that don’t happen here. Not in an ideal America. But we haven’t had an ideal America since, let me check, never.
This may be changing, as journalists find themselves surrounded by their suffering brothers and sisters…and perhaps realizing that for many at the watercooler of the flyover presidency, having them drown in the bathtub of the inland Gitmo should cause no great loss of nap. For whatever reason, there has been some excellent reporting coming from New Orleans, and just the fact that they are there, not only eyewitnessing, but earwitnessing and nosewitnessing the “Hell on Earth” that the Bush Administration is all too good at creating or allowing, is a service to humanity, and should be commended. So I will. I hope Mr. Pulitzer is noting these braves souls as they signal from the flames of this fresh Hell.
But what can you expect from a “War President” or, in other words, a Prince of War? War is Hell. A war president presides over Hell. President of Hell. Hmm. Isn’t there another word for that?
THE PRESIDENT OF HELL
Do the math. War is indeed hell. And this war was elective. Bush and his collaborators elected to spread Hell (or has he called it once, “feareedom”) and sadly it has found its way back to its source. At least its source nation. Even though Hell’s refugees were, in the main, excluded from the selection process. One wonders how soundly the Supreme Court sleeps…
So the Supremes lose a few hours sleep. You still don’t see them anywhere near New Orleans. They are safe within their cocoons. They won’t even have to do a flyover. They are members of the insouciant class. The journalists in New Orleans no longer have the luxury of insouciance. The molecules of the dead are flowing through their bodies, as they breathe the stench of Truth, spreading like genocide before their eyes, nose and heart. And they realize who they are. And whom they best serve.
DAVID BROOKS: I think it is a huge reaction we are about to see. I mean, first of all, they violated the social fabric, which is in the moments of crisis you take care of the poor first. That didn’t happen; it’s like leaving wounded on the battlefield.
…in 9/11 you had a great surge of public confidence. Now I think we are going to see a great decline in public confidence in our institutions. And so I just think this is sort of the anti-9/11 as one of the bloggers wrote.
My hope is that Brian Williams, Bob Woodruff, Shepard Smith, Anderson Cooper, and the other brave new stewards of the poor and disenfranchised, will stay in New Orleans, and be the voice of those whose need is most great.
Even those far removed from harm’s way are being moved. David Brooks said he assumed that those for whom he has been fighting, would rush to the aid of the poor. I think the fact that they didn’t will cause him to reject them more generally. David cannot long defend Goliath. And I think Mister Brooks is realizing that John Edwards, and not George W. Bush, is the one who stands up to Goliaths, and will, himself, cease being a brave defender of the rich and powerful.
Hurricane and Tsunami Katrina will prove to be far more devastating than even 9/11. It is 9/11 in slo-mo. And it is hard to take. Every day is worse than the last. But we don’t want happy talk. We need truth. And peace. How can you uplift with one hand, when with the other hand you kill?
WHAT WOULD SOLDIERS DO?
If given the choice:
1- I want to stay in Iraq and kill.
2- I want to stay in Iraq and be killed.
3- I want to go to New Orleans and help save lives.
…I think you would find that the overwhelming desire would be to help out in our own backyard, their own backyard. Bush said he wanted to fight the war “over there”…and yet the most urgent battle, as regards American lives, is the battle for New Orleans. It matters not whether American lives are threatened by foreign terrorists or natural disasters. It is still American lives. And it is a reality, not just a vague notion of some future scenario, the Grand Protector from which, luckily benefitting the Bush family of corporations.
Terror has reached our shores. And the only thing that keeps it from being Bush-brand terror is the lack of malice, or I should say malice…beforehand. Katrina was probably even more nonchalant about the destruction is was going to inflict, than Bush pushing the Shock-and-Awe button, or the thousands of other similar acts of kindness. Any malice regarding Katrina came afterwards, in the form of “too little, too late”. Had the late-niks prescience, the malice might have come beforehand, but I am not that cynical. It is bad enough already.
But prescience can come in handy. For example, Bush says we don’t need to bring our soldiers home to help. “We have plenty of resources.” He boasts. “We can get both jobs done.” he says, lacking prescience. He is, in fact, getting neither job done. Both will get worse. No question.
His echolaliac “stay the course” is only making him sound mechanical. Maybe he is! Not everyone is conscious. It takes individual effort, and then some, to become conscious. Until then you are basically mechanical. Pre-conscious. Twice removed from cosmic consciousness.
Consciousness might allow Mister Bush to realize that allowing our dear soldiers to come home and help save lives might reverse any negative effects from having to basically do the opposite… and because of what? His own personal cruelty? Impatience? Revenge? Greed? Subservience?
What better prevention of post-stress disorder, which is a near inevitability for soldiers today?
It would not only be better for the soldiers, it would obviously be better for the refugees in New Orleans. And Lord knows…it might even be better for the people of Iraq.
It is not cutting and running, but rather defending the homeland. New Orleans is on our soil, right? Americans are dying and crying out for help, right?
It is not too late to become the Ideal America. It is not to late to become the Humanitarian Superpower of which so many dream. It is how true, lasting respect is won. I want to see the world, once again…wanting to be Americans.
Not kill Americans.
While the President fiddled, New Orleans burned. And drowned. Maybe 10s of thousands. And while Tasmanian devils like Grover Norquist might relish the fact that government too is being drowned, just when fellow citizens are crying out for their help, most people find their humanity awakened. Even journalists. And while the president fiddled, the mother of a dead soldier cried out in the streets of his own howntown. Bats have flaps on their ears. Is this why Bush loves baseball?
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