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                                       politics + culture

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

pressure on

I agree with the basic premise that the best thing that us non-specialist citizens in other parts of the country can do is give money and support to organizations that have the training and resources to help. That being said, part of our advocacy for the victims of Katrina has got to be putting pressure on our leaders and the media, has got to be pushing for accountability.

We need to hold the President's feet to the fire right now. Doing political photo ops while a major U.S. city floods is despicable. Doing photo ops while the destruction and loss of life in Mississippi and Louisiana was still unkown is simply unforgiveable. (And now he's got a fake relief photo on the White House web site banner.)

If, as initial reports have it, FEMA has been weakened and rolled into Homeland Security...we need to demand accountability. FEMA is a good program. It works. The citizens of Louisiana and Mississippi need FEMA right now, and will need the kind of support FEMA provides in the weeks and months to come. If it's been rolled into Homeland Security....then exactly WHO is the point person here? Where is the aid coming from? The response at this point seems to be ad hoc...ie. they're making it up as they go.

We've suffered a major natural disaster. Who is the point person for our federal government? What were the contingency plans for this "top three" disaster, a disaster whose risks FEMA had highlighted and identified since before 9/11? As far as I know, aside from the President's statement, given at a press meetup on Iraq, Donald Rumsfeld is the only figure to have spoken out. Why is that? Who is the leader here? Is it Michael Chertoff? To be frank, that article doesn't make it clear.

If you ask me, the charge that holding governement accountable is playing politics with this disaster is baseless. Holding government accountable is our best means of advocating for the victims of this disaster right now. It's what democracy is about. There are many reasons we have a Federal Government. Dealing with a massive, natural disaster spread over multiple states, and whose impact will most certainly be felt by the whole country is one of them.

It's time to put pressure on.

The politics charge is galling. This President and the GOP have played politics with the national tragedy of 9/11 from the get go. There's no escaping that. And they've played politics with this nation in less visible ways that we will pay a price for, and which will play out in this story.

Let me give one significant example. The President refuses to even speak to the NAACP. He routinely pushes aside chances to meet with black leaders, and when he does it's on demeaning terms. If you don't speak in the easy times, if you don't meet when the pressure is low, if you play politics...then you don't build trust and good faith. The President, who is after all, the President of ALL OF US, will need that trust and good faith in dealing with this tragedy and its aftermath...in particular with members of the African American community displaced from New Orleans. The President doesn't have that good faith because he has never invested in it. He's played politics all along..

Why does the Mayor of New Orleans sound like no one is getting in touch with him? This is clearly a disaster far beyond municipal abilities alone to handle. I would think we'd hear Mayor Nagin saying he's getting cooperation and coordination from outside the city, from the President himself. We're not.

We need to put pressure on the government and the media (whose coverage of this disaster has been atrocious). Accountability is the best means we have of advocacy for Katrina's victims.

There's no "grace period" where watching our President strum guitars while a city drowns is OK for a few days. That kind of leadership is simply unacceptable.

We need to put pressure on, and keep it there.

1 Comments:

  • Check out this Op/Ed from the Arizona Republic regarding Bush's photo-op yesterday. "The day Arizona was in the eye of Hurricane George"

    By Blogger Man Eegee, at 11:10 AM  

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