More than 10,000 Louisiana residents poured into the Superdome overnight to take refuge from Hurricane Katrina. The city administration did an admirable job of providing basic security for some of the area’s neediest residents, even providing busing to take people to the Superdome.
The stories of the fleeing residents, however, paint the picture of an America where many people struggle. As Treasury Secretary John Snow noted recently, the fruits of economic growth are not being shared equally. In New Orleans, many such low wage earners have congregated at the Superdome. Their stories reveal the conditions faced by the poor in America:
Americans Living Paycheck to Paycheck
“If I hadn’t had to work last night, you wouldn’t be seeing me here,” said Arthur Simpson, 46, an Uptown resident who left his job as a printer in Harahan on Sunday at 6:30 a.m. and headed north.
Fending For Themselves
“The people arriving on this side of the building are expected to fend for themselves,” said Terry Ebbert, the city’s homeland security director.
Waiting In Line For Basic Services
They were the poor, homeless, frail or forgotten, those without the means or inclination to go anywhere else. They waited in blocks-long lines outside the massive indoor football stadium. Once inside, they were told, they couldn’t leave, possibly for days.
Families Dependent on Gov’t Assistance
“No funds,” a 41-year-old woman surrounded by four children, ages 2 to 14, said when asked what brought her to the shelter. The woman didn’t want to give her name as she waited with stacks of bedding and a few children’s toys resting on the sidewalk.
“I know they’re saying ‘Get out of town,’ but I don’t have any way to get out,” said Hattie Johns, 74. “If you don’t have no money, you can’t go.”
according to the Christian Science Monitor.
“[W]e’ve decided that syndicated columnist Ann Coulter has worn out her welcome. Many readers find her shrill, bombastic and mean-spirited. And those are the words used by readers who identified themselves as conservatives.”
Yesterday, President Bush said “I want to thank all the folks at the federal level and the state level and the local level who have taken this storm seriously.” He’s not one of them. Bush has sought to slash funds that would help New Orleans prepare for a major hurricane. From the 6/6/05 New Orleans CityBusiness:
In fiscal year 2006, the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is bracing for a record $71.2 million reduction in federal funding…The cuts mean major hurricane and flood protection projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved for now.
Landrieu said the Bush administration is not making Corps of Engineers funding a priority. “I think it’s extremely shortsighted,” Landrieu said. “When the Corps of Engineers’ budget is cut, Louisiana bleeds. These projects are literally life-and-death projects to the people of south Louisiana.”
“features radio pundits Sean Hannity, G. Gordon Liddy, and Oliver North as biomechanically tricked-out members of a conservative underground resistance,” fighting liberalism.
On August 7, Fox News host John Loftus went on live national television and read what he claimed was the home address of Iyad Hilal, a man with alleged ties to the July 7 bombings in London. It turned out the address was actually to the home of Randy and Ronnell Vorick, an innocent California couple. Following the Fox report, local residents harassed the family, and a vandal spray-painted their home.
When CBS reported on the harassment, the following image accompanied their story:
Except the word “terrorist” wasn’t spray-painted on the Voricks’ house.
No, the Fox News fan who vandalized their house spelled the word… “terrist”:
Jonah Goldberg of the National Review’s the Corner went after Cindy Sheehan, stating that, “She’s rallied the Nazis to her cause (obviously unintentionally, but it’s interesting how her message resonates in such quarters nonetheless).” And his so-called apology for the statement still likened her rhetoric to that of white supremacists.
In the same post, Jonah brings up (and defends) the Minuteman Project, a group that even President Bush labeled as vigilantes. The efforts of the Minuteman Project drew “major interest on White supremacist Web sites and in their chat rooms. An Aryan Nation site [linked] directly to the Minuteman Project home page with the words: “A call for action on part of ALL ARYAN SOLDIERS.” Jonah scolds Sheehan for using “rhetoric [that] is appealing to a wide range of groups who practice similar rhetoric” and yet claims the Minutemen “have been working hard to weed out the nuts and goons rhetorically and practically.”
He’s talking about the same Minutemen Project that absolutely used rhetoric laced with venom — claiming the nation is being “devoured and plundered by the menace of tens of millions of invading illegal aliens” and predicting “political, economic and social mayhem.”
Now that he’s received some critical email, Goldberg doesn’t want to talk about the issue anymore. This morning he announced that he’s “not going to spend the day discussing this whole thing any more.”
Yesterday’s NYT had a peculiar but fascinating story about the growth of reality television in Iraq. It turns out that while constitutional democracy is proving somewhat difficult to export, this signature facet of American Culture is thriving.
The Times piece focuses on a show called “Materials and Labor,” a home repair program run by the publisher of the respectable Azzaman newspaper, and inspired by the likes of “This Old House” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” In other words, it’s just like reality television in America! Well, except for that small Iraqi twist:
Since its start, the show has financed the repair of six homes. Two of those were destroyed by car bombs, two during the detonation of munitions by American soldiers, one by American armor and the sixth by an American airstrike.
["Materials and Labor" writer Majid] Samarraie said each episode, by showing the ravages of war and the callousness of politicians, serves as a critique of the Americans and the Iraqi government.
You know your occupation is going badly when it takes a reality television show to clean up the debris.