The following is my introduction to the Shockwave Radio broadcast of 9/3/05, edited for the web. You can hear the entire program on the KFAI archives (scroll down to Shockwave, most current show until next week).
Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast last week. As listeners remember, I was in Gulfport, MS in July. My brother Dan and his family live near there, and we went up and down the now devastated part of Mississippi and into New Orleans. My brother played host to me, who was playing tourist. Now, I wish we'd done more. Dan bought his house because it was higher than the previous high water mark in the area. Alas, that mark has been obliterated. The house is a mess. It's still standing, but everything on the first floor is smashed against the walls. Sheesh, and that's where I was staying.
My brother did one smart thing; really two smart things: He digitized all his pictures. After he loaded the CDs into his computer, he gave half of them (17) to me and was going to give half to our other brother. For safe keeping. whew
I urge all Shockwave Radio listeners to back up their files, especially memories, and send backups to friends and relatives. The files can be encrypted or not, depending on how much you trust the recipient and what the files are. If you've scanned family photos, I don't think you need to encrypt the DVD archive you send to your relatives. If you back up all your tax information and private journal and Netflix Queue, you should probably put them behind some sort of password. But leave the password with someone you trust, just in case something bad happens, so your grandkids can see your records.
In the meantime, let's talk about Katrina and the response to the disaster. The Katrina disaster was predicted as far back as 2001. In early 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency ranked the potential damage to New Orleans as among the three likeliest, most catastrophic disasters facing this country. The other two? An earthquake in San Francisco and, are you ready, a terrorist attack on New York City.
So far, FEMA is two out of three and the Bush administration is batting less than zero. The oily conservative response to repeated warnings: Cut the budget for emergencies and give tax breaks to their rich friends. The budget for Army Corps of Engineers projects in Southern Louisiana was slashed. National Guard troops, no longer under the control of state governors, are being taken away from homeland duties to shore up dismal army recruiting over the war in Iraq.
Katrina would have been a disaster no matter how much preparation had taken place, but the destruction could have been ameliorated and many lives could have been saved if only the Republicans had heeded the warning. It should be noted that Katrina was not the worst case scenario for New Orleans. A blast of cooler, dryer air had reduced Katrina from a Category 5 hurricane to a Category 4 hurricane. The eye of the storm missed the city. Bad as it was, it could have been worse.
In an astonishing double standard, conservatives whine that any criticism of Bush is somehow "Bush Bashing". Just a few short years ago, when we had elected presidents, our leaders were held to a quote "higher standard". Well, the whining and moaning from the right is getting old. It's time for even Republicans to get off their duff and demand accountability.
My brother, sister-in-law and nephew escaped and are fine. My brother, a doctor who works at the VA hospital in Biloxi, is very busy. My sister in law and nephew have found a temporary home with Jewish families in Atlanta, and aid is pouring in from friends across the country.
My family knew what was coming and made preparations to reduce the disaster's impact on them. Why couldn't the Bush administration act with foresight? Why did it take so long to mobilize relief efforts? Why couldn't Republicans in Congress heed the warnings and prepare... as they were advised to do four years ago?
I suspect we won't get an answer. We'll just get more whining and finger pointing and charges of "Bush Bashing". Idiots.
Meanwhile, Shockwave Radio Theater has some suggestions, namely:
The Top 11 things that will get a faster government response than dire warnings of catastrophe.
Credit for the idea and several of these from cobaltgreen's Live Journal entry:
11. Announce they are giving late term abortions in the Superdome.
10. Spread the rumor that they're thinking about disconnecting the feeding tube of a white woman in a coma in one of the remaining New Orleans hospitals.
9. Win the Tour de France seven times in a row
8. Proudly announce that without proper government paperwork to hinder them, ministers are performing gay marriages.
7. Out a CIA agent and then whine about the media.
6. Have lots of money and demand to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom
5. Have someone related to Osama bin Laden demand to visit Bush's Crawford compound.
4. Publish a textbook that doesn't mention Intelligent Design.
3. Be a member of the cabinet... no wait, that won't work. Be a former member of the cabinet and publish your memoirs.
2. Hire a gay prostitute to get White House press credentials. Bush can claim a mandate. (With or without the space in "mandate".)
1. Find Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, or merely claim to.
In New Orleans, the people cleaning up the mess are really pissed about it, and are naming the flood waters Lake George. I suspect much of the New Orleans area will be Lake George for a while, if not forever. Metafilter (care of Daily Kos) comes a reminder of a book that says the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 provoked a response that paved the way for the New Deal.
Coming soon: Podcasts!
This just in: Chief Justice Wm. Renquist died Saturday evening. Now two of the five justices who voted in the majority in Bush vs. Gore are off the bench. Is g_d trying to tell us something?
Nah. But it's nice to be able to throw questions like these back at the fundies.