September 13, 2005

Katrina Log, Part 5 (the last retrospective post)

(The following was written on 9/5)

Part 4 can be found here.

I am hoping that this will be my final entry in this Katrina log. I am planning to return to work tomorrow.

I got word that a friend of mine who had to evacuate New Orleans is safely in Arkansas. He learned that the first floor of his home is completely underwater and has no idea when (or if) he will be able to return. Fortunately, he has family on the west coast he can stay with for a few months.

It sounds like W is returning to Mississippi today. I guess he thinks that making another appearance will somehow make amends for the unacceptably slow federal response. The finger-pointing is getting interesting, with the feds blaming state and local governments who are in turn blaming the feds. From the little information I was able to gather immediately before, during, and shortly after the storm, it seems fairly clear that the primary failure was that of the feds. State governors requested federal aid before the storm hit. If the state and local officials should receive a portion of the blame (which they should), it is for their failure to get information to the people about what was happening.

Returning to the issue of uninformative news coverage of the Katrina aftermath, why is it that reporters never repeat their original question when it goes unanswered? The critical question has been and continues to be why an adequate federal response took so long. In the many hours of CNN I have watched, I have not seen a federal official give a direct response to this question. I have also not seen a reporter repeat the question when it is not answered the first time. It doesn’t seem like we are any closer to understanding what went wrong, and this means that we shouldn’t expect an improved response to the next disaster.

I have also not forgotten my previous rants about how this incident should place the spotlight on poverty in America. Democrats should be all over this, as it is painfully obvious that the policies of the Republican leadership exacerbate poverty. While this is certainly not a new insight, the impact of Katrina could serve to highlight the growing numbers of Americans living in poverty. I want to see the Democrats propose a viable plan for ending poverty in America. This should be the party’s rallying platform, and Republican opposition should be shown for what it is – selfishness.

I’m not sure if it is coming through in what I have written these past few days, but the events of Katrina have affected me deeply. I am still trying to understand the meaning of my changing feelings, and I don’t have many answers yet. If I had to sum up the collective impact of what I have experienced so far, I would say that my perspective on the theism/atheism conflict has shifted to the periphery. I am realizing that many of the devastating consequences of Republicanism are far more important than their desire to “church up” America. Their ongoing imperialistic consumerism, destruction of the environment, and neglect of poverty and the plight of the working poor in America all seem like greater evils than their efforts to legislate morality. While I have no immediate plans to change the purpose or focus of this blog, I find these issues on my mind a great deal lately.

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