By Sheila Samples
Clearing House" -- -- A year after triumphantly declaring
that work in the Gulf Coast region would be "one of the
largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen,"
after promising that "Americans will look back at the
response to Hurricane Katrina and say that our country
grew not only in prosperity, but also in character and
justice," George Bush had the audacity to return to New
Bush wore the same blue photo-op shirt of a year ago,
with sleeves rolled up to show he meant business. With
his trademark nod and wink, he said he accepted full
responsibility for the government's breakdown in
responding to the devastation -- a breakdown which cost
many additional lives. After adding that he'd learned
his lesson, Bush then launched into his incoherent,
all-too-familiar babble that help is on the way.
As I listened to Bush articulate (sic) his "vision" of a
"bright dawn" emerging over New Orleans -- watched him
peer off in the distance at the brigades of Saints that
only he could see "marching home," I wondered
if he gave any thought to the bodies of the lost still
lying trapped in the debris so close to where he was
standing. I wondered if the desperate families who
remain broken and scattered throughout the country could
see his lofty vision through their tears as they
received notices from FEMA that their housing benefits
are terminated, their utilities assistance cut off,
their insurance claims denied.
In the last five years, George Bush and the greedy
corporate mobsters who surround him have taught people
throughout the world a lot about prosperity, character,
justice -- and about racism. Those innocents who have a
right to expect justice in their lives and character in
their leaders hit free-market's blind-eyed and
cold-shouldered wall in New Orleans. Too late, too many
learned that, in George Bush's world, prosperity is for
those who can afford it. In George Bush's world there is
no safe haven for the poverty stricken or the
dispossessed if they are Black -- especially if they are
When Bush speaks, I never know if I'm laughing or
crying. I keep hearing strange hyena-like barks of
laughter, yet tears stream down my cheeks. Bush is big
on role-playing wherever he goes, and -- disregarding
the anguished cries of American citizens still pleading
for help -- he said his role in New Orleans is "to
encourage entrepreneurship." He's excited about his Go
Zone legislation, which will give corporations and small
businesses tax incentives to invest in the area. Bush
said, "the people of this region are looking to
corporate America to see if they're here for the long
haul...New Orleans is going to rise again," he told
business leaders, "and by planting your corporate flag
here now and contributing to this city's rebirth, you'll
gain some loyal customers when times get better..."
Yep. Plant them corporate flags, boys, 'cause the
south's gonna rise again. In all its racist glory.
Strange that the general consensus seems to be FEMA
stumbled and fell into the pit of its own incompetence.
I hate to be a party pooper, but there's no way any
government agency could be so woefully inept on every
front. When you consider that martial law was declared
immediately; that police, miltary, and armed contractor
troops were immediately on site -- not to retrieve
bodies floating in the water nor to bury those who lay
dead in the streets, but to keep the hungry and thirsty
victims from stealing food and water -- when you
consider that from 8,000 to 10,000 residents of the St.
Bernard Housing Project were immediately locked out of
their homes, and FEMA immediately built a formidable
iron fence around the project and padlocked it so they
could not return; that all national, even worldwide,
efforts to help were seamlessly blocked -- it's
difficult not to come to the conclusion that FEMA's
response was immediate, and thorough as well.
For example, in the Sept. 5, 2005
Daily Kos, diarist
DavidNYC posted just a few of what he said were FEMA's
"rank failures." Could be, but after
turning back WalMart
preventing the Coast
Guard from delivering diesel fuel,
blocking the Red Cross
from delivering food to starving refugees,
barring morticians from
assisting with the dead,
turning back a
five-mile-long, 500-boat citizen flotilla which arrived
to take the stranded, the injured, the ill and the frail
refusing to use a Navy
ship in the area with a 600-bed hospital and medical
staff on board, infuriating Chicago's mayor by
refusing massive aid
while accepting just one truck, and
responders "not to respond," I'd have to say it's
possible to conclude that FEMA was up and running and
Michael "Brownie" Brown did, indeed, do a heckuva job.
This is America. We don't withhold food and water from
starving citizens. We don't turn our backs on human
beings in this country who are pleading for help,
drowning -- crying out for mercy... Or so we thought.
However, if the onslaught and aftermath of Hurricane
Katrina taught us nothing else, it is that the middle
and lower segments of our society are little more than
collateral damage when the destruction of their lives
and property serves a political agenda...
The glee with which pundits, media propagandists and
politicians pounced on the opportunity offered by the
Katrina disaster to rid the city of its poverty
population, especially those who owned homes on valuable
real estate, is sickening. Baton Rouge Republican Rep.
Richard Baker chortled to lobbyists about the more than
1,700 people killed and hundreds of thousands of others
displaced, "We finally cleaned up public housing in New
Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."
House Speaker Dennis Hastert agreed. With breathtaking
indifference to the plight of property owners and
displaced families, Hastert said, "It makes no sense to
spend billions of dollars to rebuild a city that's seven
feet under sea level....It looks like a lot of that
place could be bulldozed."
It is obvious that the "bright dawn" Bush sees rising
over the Big Easy is, in reality, a "white dawn" -- a
smaller, whiter city with fewer poor folks. In their
brilliant synopsis of
the sheer opportunistic evil permeating New Orleans
reconstruction, Adolph Reed and Stephen Steinberg write
in the Black Commentator, "...the Housing
Authority of New Orleans has shut down its
public-housing operations, and informed landlords of
people assisted by federal rent vouchers that government
rent subsidies for impacted units have been suspended
The authors point out the obvious -- "If public housing
and affordable housing in New Orleans are not rebuilt,
if rent subsidies are withheld, then what 'choice' do
people have but to relocate elsewhere? The certain
result will be 'a smaller and stronger New Orleans,'
depleted of its poverty population."
Thus, if the government has anything to do with it,
those airlifted and taken by bus from the area, families
split, parents separated from their children, will
relocate elsewhere -- permanently. They are no longer
welcome in a city where not Saints, but private
corporations, developers and Bush's beloved
"entrepreneurs" are marching in...
At least one person was a bit uneasy about the prospect
of so many evacuees relocating in her state, even if
they were better off. Former first lady Barbara Bush,
the current president's mother, looked at the black sea
of humanity packed into the relentless heat of the
Houston Astrodome, and
commented, "What I'm
hearing, which is sort of scary is that they all want to
stay in Texas. Everybody is so overwhelmed by the
hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena
here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this
(chuckle) – this is working very well for them."
Yes. Being crammed into an arena in unfamiliar
surroundings with no food, water or possessions is just
another ho-hum day in the life of the poor, and always
good for a chuckle, isn't it? Is there anything about
the demons and trolls who run this country that is not
totally incomprehensible, raging mad -- desperately
absurd? Not a single one appears to possess the
character -- the ethical "gravity" it would take to
bring them down to reality from their fantastical
Which brings us back to FEMA. Bush said FEMA had learned
its lesson and would be "ready" for the next disaster.
No doubt. The next time Bush declares martial law,
Halliburton's KBR should have the
for which it received a $385 million contract in
January, ready and waiting. According to a KBR release,
the camps call for preparing for "an emergency influx of
immigrants or to support the rapid development of
new programs" in the event of other emergencies, such as
"a national disaster." Under emergency plans
already in existence,
the power exists to suspend the Constitution and turn
over the reins of government to FEMA. State and local
governments will be under military control.
Is there hope for American citizens like those in New
Orleans whose lives have been, continue to be, destroyed
by cruel indifference? Yes, of course, but it will take
citizens like you and me to stand up for what we know is
right, to repair our shredded Constitution, and breathe
new life into our comatose Bill of Rights.
We were warned every step of the way. We have been
insulted and deceived, our courts dismantled, our
Congress neutered, our children murdered in an illegal,
genocidal war, our elections stolen, our tax
dollars wasted. Today, we are stranded on our own
rooftops, pleading for a November 2006 rescue.
Well, help is not on the way. It is up to us. We must
check the voting records of every single Congressperson
and of every single Senator -- Republican and Democrat.
Those who violated their oath to protect the U.S.
Constitution from enemies within must be shown no mercy.
They are devoid of character and of virtue. In concert
with the man in the blue photo-op shirt with the sleeves
rolled up, they maliciously turn the other way while
sending American citizens to their deaths. They are
disloyal -- treasonous. Together, they have disgraced
this great nation. They must go.
Only then will the wounds inflicted from New York to New
Orleans to Iraq begin to heal.