Thursday, September 08, 2005

When The Levee Breaks I'll have no place to stay

I intended this next post to be a wrap-up of my previous comments about the London bombings and a response to a couple of the comments that people were thoughtful enough to leave

But no…

I, like presumably millions of others, just can’t get what’s happening in New Orleans out of my head.

And it’s not just the human tragedy element. That is still there, obviously, but the story is also beginning to develop other facets.

As with so many other fuck-ups during the Bush-Blair era, there comes a point where it is possible to discern the hand of deliberate intent rather than sheer incompetence at play…

  • Allowed 9/11 to happen? Sorry, that was a fuck-up.
  • Took us to war on a lie about Iraqi WMDs? Sorry, that was another fuck-up
  • Shot an innocent civilian in London then claimed he was a terrorist? Yup, that was a fuck-up too

Right now there are something like 60,000 men armed to the teeth, supported by armour and gunships, patrolling New Orleans. Does anybody have any fucking idea why? What’s the plan? Are they going to shoot New Orleans better?

And then you read stories like this one about 1,000 skilled volunteer fire fighters being deployed by FEMA as community-relations officers...

The fire-fighters … were told to bring backpacks, sleeping bags, first-aid kits and Meals Ready to Eat. They were told to prepare for "austere conditions." Many of them came with awkward fire gear and expected to wade in floodwaters, sift through rubble and save lives.

"They've got people here who are search-and-rescue certified, paramedics, haz-mat certified," said a Texas firefighter. "We're sitting in here having a sexual-harassment class while there are still [victims] in Louisiana who haven't been contacted yet."

Over the last day or so we’ve been hearing that New Orleans has to be evacuated because of cholera, malaria, typhoid and other diseases; even though most of them aren’t even prevalent in the United States. Strangely, the risk of disease isn’t so great that the authorities have got round to collecting the unknown numbers of corpses rotting all over the place under the hot Southern sun.

And then there are all those stories of FEMA and the military turning back Red Cross supplies and disconnecting communications and other peculiar shit. All this peculiar shit suggests that aid was being deliberately held back until the Governor of Louisiana turned full control of her State over to the Federal Government. And that control will almost certainly extend long into the future and the reconstruction of New Orleans.

Not that many of the residents will benefit from that reconstruction. The underclass of New Orleans has been scattered to the four winds and we are already being told that many won’t ever be returning home.

The result of all of this?

George Bush now has command of 60,000 armed men patrolling an empty city that can be demolished pretty much at will and he is looking for $50bn to allocate to corporations and reconstruction projects selected by his administration.

Not a bad reward for completely fucking things up is it?

That $50bn is just for starters and, don't forget, George is launching a thorough investigation of what went wrong and putting himself in charge to ensure that no stone is left unturned.

Is all this relevant to us in the UK? Well, yes actually. What is taking place in New Orleans right now is typical of the way our world is now being run; by Bush and by Blair also. It’s about lies and fear. Guns and vested interests. The world has always been this way but it has not been quite so blatant for a very long time.


One New Orleans story has genuinely amused my this week though. Presumably somebody on the graveyard shift at Reuters had either just returned from the pub or was in some other way off their face when they wrote this piece here. My favourite quotes included…

But die-hard inhabitants of a city mainly known for jazz and Mardi Gras before becoming internationally famous as a disaster area of Third-World proportions say they fear evacuation to parts of the country where they have no family or means of support...

New Orleans' French Quarter, the renowned street-party venue, was a militarised zone. There were roadblocks and patrols by 82nd Airborne Division troops as well as by horse-mounted Texas sheriffs in cowboy hats...

Among aid workers in New Orleans on Tuesday was a group from the Church of Scientology. Wearing yellow T-shirts, a couple of dozen worked out of a yellow tent set up downtown beneath a banner reading "something can be done". The Scientologists offered massages to police and rescue workers but said they were not there to proselytise.


Anyone been listening to Led Zeppelin lately?

If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break,
If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break,
When The Levee Breaks I'll have no place to stay.

Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan,

Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan,
Got what it takes to make a mountain man leave his home,
Oh, well, oh, well, oh, well.

Don't it make you feel bad

When you're tryin' to find your way home,
You don't know which way to go?
If you're goin' down South
They got no work to do,
If you don't know about Chicago.

Cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good,

Now, cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good,
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move.

All last night sat on the levee and moaned,

All last night sat on the levee and moaned,
Thinkin' about me baby and my happy home.
Going, going to Chicago... Going to Chicago... Sorry but I can't take you...
Going down... going down now... going down....


Postman said...

Gvnr Blanco had it right. Call for a day of prayer and then get the "battle hardened" Nat. Gdsmn in "locked and loaded". Bibles and Bullets.

If praying doesn't work just shoot the bastards.... and if I see another fucking episode about the saving of pets from the floodwaters on Fox again I will a la Hunter S T shoot the fucking TV.

Sparkling said...

Coming in guns blazing has a much bigger impact than if Bush had been proactive in evacuating before the incidence.

I guess all publicity is good publicity.

jackenstein of all trades said...

Hey, so you got me all up on downing the Zep' tune (for edu purposes only)- not heard that in an age; not bad, even after all this time.
Check this newer tune...

greatwhitebear said...

This is already turning out to be a bonanza for Bush's cronies. Bechtel and Haliburton have already received huge, no bid contracts for the clean up of N'awlins. With schools there closed for the year, Most of the families with school aged children will simply settle elsewhere and never return. The working poor who find jobs elsewhere will have no incentive to return to search for a job that likely won't be there.

All these people will end up selling their property for pennies on the dollar to big real estate developers. New Orleans will eventually emerge new and rejuvinated, but without most of the sons and daughters who made it special!