Good riddance to bad rubbish

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George W. Bush gave his last press conference today and, as usual, could not restrain himself from his tendency toward long, rambling non-answers to questions and inappropriate smiles and shrugs.

Regarding Katrina, Bush said he’s thought about it a lot.  Then he proceeded to give a sarcastic “what if” scenario about landing Air Force One in New Orleans or Baton Rouge, and the fact that the media would then have gone after him for pulling police protection off “the mission.”  I don’t recall anyone ever actually wanting Bush to personally pull people out of the Superdome or the attics of flooded homes.

He was the most aggressive after being asked a question about the popularity of the US, raising his voice and declaring that he didn’t believe the US was unpopular in the world, and he wasn’t trying to be popular anyway.

What I found most disturbing was his flippant response to the WMD that were never found in Iraq:

“Things didn’t go according to plan, let’s put it that way,” Bush said with a smile, then a grimace. The WMDs touted by Bush and his advisers were never found. More than 4,000 American troops have died as a result of the invasion; the toll for Iraqi civilians is in the tens of thousands.

The shrug after he said that sent chills down my spine.  How could he have such a “who gives a shit” attitude after sending so many to their deaths — when it was entirely preventable?

This has been the longest eight years of my life, and thankfully I and my children have our lives — unlike so many thousands.

The trash goes out on January 20, 2009.  Good riddance.

UPDATE: Bush to give farewell address to the nation on Thursday night.  Thanks for the warning…

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Crescent City Stories

by Harry Shearer

This week Harry Shearer launches a series of videos from New Orleans – his part-time home town. In today’s episode, Harry introduces us to four determined people who will share their deeply personal stories of just how hard life has been in The Big Easy since Hurricane Katrina.

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This is a 6-part series (continued below the fold).

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Will McCain turn RNC into telethon for hurricane victims?

Raw Story

A top aide in the McCain campaign said officials may turn the Republican National Convention into a service event to aid possible victims of a hurricane headed towards the Gulf Coast, CNN reported Saturday.

Convention officials are discussing several ways of changing plans so that Republicans are not seen celebrating in the wake of category 4 Hurricane Gustav, which could cause serious damage to New Orleans.

“He wants to do something service-oriented if and when the storm hits and it’s as bad as its expected to be now,” the McCain source said.

What a party of hypocrites..

Its been three years since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. What have they done for the people who needed help desperately, and have continued to need help over the last three years? Not much. Who has benefited? Developers and corporations. Oh, and we can’t forget Blackwater. Blackwater is gearing up to go to New Orleans once again..

Business will be booming..

Amy Goodman from DemocracyNOW asks investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill how Blackwater profited off Hurricane Katrina. H/T: Crooks & Liars

And health care for these people.. If they were really concerned about the health and well-being of these people of New Orleans post-Katrina, then why haven’t they done something before now to get their hospitals going again that serve the needy? Watch Broken Levees, Broken Lives.

Refresh yourselves with the facts:

Katrina Pain Index: New Orleans Three Years Later.
Just a tiny excerpt from a VERY long list:

1.9 billion. FEMA dollars scheduled to be available to metro New Orleans for Katrina damages that have not yet been delivered.

2.6 billion. FEMA dollars scheduled to be available to State of Louisiana for Katrina damages that have not yet been delivered.

This is what the Republicans have brought you so far when it comes to hurricane tragedy and real peoples’ broken lives. A telethon? Too little too late. This RNC “telethon” is nothing but a total ‘show’ for political advantage. Theater. Nothing more. If they were genuinely concerned for the well being of these people, and truly wanted to help the victims of a major hurricane, then they had their chance three years ago and did nothing.

There is a very good post on this today from Bob Geiger:
McCain Has Long Used The Troops — Now It’s On To New Orleans

He references a post by Martin Bosworth:
From Katrina to Gustav, You’re Still “On Your Own”

To use this impending tragedy for political gain, and just to make themselves look good, is reprehensible, it’s hypocritical, it’s manipulative, it’s misleading, it’s dishonest, disingenuous, and it’s slimey politics.

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We must not forget…

Three years ago today Hurricane Katrina struck. The word devastating doesn’t begin to cover it. I will never forget watching the news, hour after hour, feeling helpless and screaming at my TV for our government and our so-called president to DO SOMETHING!!

It has now been three years later since that terrible day, and the changes that have taken place have benefited and proved to be very opportune for the very few.

It is important to remember what happened, and not EVER let it happen again. The people of New Orleans have been forgotten. I believe this was intentional.Our president knew it was coming, as he was warned a full day ahead of time by the head of the National Hurricane Center Max Mayfield. For a full timeline go here. President Bush stood by for days as the city drowned and people died, and the country watched in horror, and did nothing.

These people are still desperate for help, many still scattered around the country, and our government – our president – has let them down. This devastating disaster has provided an opportunity to some in a very big way. New Orleans is quietly being transformed into something that leaves most people who lived there behind. They are creating a new New Orleans; a wealthy wonderland. This is unconscionable. Naomi Klein describes very well what has taken place there since this hurricane struck in the form of “The Shock Doctrine”.

Now as another storm, Tropical Storm (will be Hurricane) Gustav, appears to have New Orleans in its sights, and the only thing Republicans can say is that it might mess up the news coverage of their convention.. OMG.  From Karl Rove:

Republicans can’t seem to get a break when it comes to August and when it comes to the weather,” said Rove who is also a Fox News analyst.

How incredibly insensitive and out of touch with humanity. This tragedy involved human life in our country, the United States of America, on an absolutely unimaginable scale.

Over 1,700 people died. Countless others have been displaced and scattered. The people of New Orleans, as well as along the entire Gulf Coast, have suffered terribly. They are suffering still, and now they are facing the possibility of an instant replay.  These people may not have had much to begin with, but they are still human beings – just like all of us. This isn’t about party or politics, this is about human life and suffering.

I happened onto this website today where they had some video of New Orleans today – three years after Katrina:

Katrina Anniversary–3 Years Later on Tennessee St in the Lower 9th Ward

After filming the video below, it struck us that John McCain owns more homes than have been rebuilt on Tennessee Street in the Lower 9th Ward. The street lies 2 blocks from where the Industrial Canal levee broke 3 years ago. News networks once frequently broadcasted from this street, Brad Pitt’s pink houses once lined it and First Draft has chronicled its progress in previous videos (6 months and 2 years after the flood).

This time, 3 years post Katrina and flood, we found 4 homes have been rebuilt and 6 are under construction. Of the nearly 100 homes which once stood here, one remains, gutted and empty. The rest were demolished. Much of the rebuilding  by the Brad Pitt Make it Right Foundation is being done on Tennessee Street. However the vast majority of the street is a desolate landscape of empty lots, some overgrown, others neatly mowed.

Here is Tennessee Street 3 years later……

This video which takes you back to when Katrina hit, from Toulousestreet, is called Katrina Requiem:

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Different hurricane, way different president

In James Lee Burke’s latest novel, which is set in and around New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina, I ran across an intriguing reference to how President Lyndon Johnson responded when Hurricane Betsy flooded New Orleans in 1965. A little searching online found a fascinating New Yorker article, here:

LBJ flew into New Orleans the next day. The entire article is well worth reading, but this particular section is very striking:

In the Ninth Ward, Johnson visited the George Washington Elementary School, on St. Claude Avenue, which was being used as a shelter. “Most of the people inside and outside of the building were Negro,” the diary reads. “At first, they did not believe that it was actually the President.” Johnson entered the crowded shelter in near-total darkness; there were only a couple of flashlights to lead the way.

“This is your President!” Johnson announced. “I’m here to help you!”

The diary describes the shelter as a “mass of human suffering,” with people calling out for help “in terribly emotional wails from voices of all ages. . . . It was a most pitiful sight of human and material destruction.” According to an article by the historian Edward F. Haas, published fifteen years ago in the Gulf Coast Historical Review, Johnson was deeply moved as people approached and asked him for food and water; one woman asked Johnson for a boat so that she could look for her two sons, who had been lost in the flood.

“Little Mayor, this is horrible,” Johnson said to Schiro. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.” Johnson assured Schiro that the resources of the federal government were at his disposal and that “all red tape [will] be cut.”

The President flew back to Washington and the next day sent Schiro a sixteen-page telegram outlining plans for aid and the revival of New Orleans. “Please know,” Johnson wrote, “that my thoughts and prayers are with you and the thousands of Louisiana citizens who have suffered so heavily.”

New Orleans Two Years After by Greg Palast

“They wanted them poor niggers out of there.”

“We needed an answer to a weird, puzzling and horrific discovery. Among the miles and miles of devastated houses, rubble still there today in New Orleans, we found dry, beautiful homes. But their residents were told by guys dressed like Ninjas wearing “Blackwater” badges: “Try to go into your home and we’ll arrest you.””

Katrina Blog Posts By Harry Shearer

Beings my father lives in New Orleans and has lived there most of his life I have avidly read every bit of news I could find since Katrina struck two years ago. I have appreciated all the posts by Harry Shearer who blogs on Huffington Post. Of all those in the media who claim to be “trying to keep’em honest”, I think Harry Shearer’s efforts have been top notch. He keeps it real and on a very human level. His blog posts have all been compiled on this one page and are well worth the reading.