There’s a bad series of events rising. The news of the past week has been depressing enough. But reading the paper today casts a pall over everything.
Article One: Supreme Court Chief Justice Reinquist died last night. This man held on with tooth and nail, to his dying breath, to outlive the current administration. He must have been crushed after last year’s elections. It would explain all his trips to the hospital this year. Once you know you can no longer make it, or that you’ve done all you can, you will die off rather quickly.
He’s been dead for less than 24 hours, and the story has already become his replacement. The Shrub is expected to quickly name a nominee. Nothing will surprise me this time. I was sure last time, that it would have to be a hispanic person, or specifically a woman. Anything, really, but an old white man. Enter Roberts: Aspiring Old White Man. No, he hasn’t been confirmed yet. But he will be. No legislator has the cahonés any more to take a stand on a single issue.
Article Two: The Marines have been ordered into New Orleans to maintain order. Is that even legal? The National Guard is one thing. Unless federalized, as President Kennedy did, the Guard is called out by Governors. How does sending in the Marines, a federal force, to a domestic location to act as a police force not violate the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878?
Regardless of the legalities, it’s ominous and enlightening in its own right. Most Americans I have talked with have a belief that their government will “take care of things” when the going gets rough. After all… the whole point of civilization is to protect the weak and the young. But time and again, these last few years, we’ve seen how woefully unprepared our federal and state governments are to handle anything more unplanned than a new tax law. And when taken off guard by some event, be it man-made or the assault of nature, we as a people have shown neither the intelligence nor imagination to find truly reasonable and feasible solutions to these concerns. Like an angry child, we attack the thing that just scared us, with no thought towards the unknown. And terror, from any source, is by definition, the incitement of fear through the use of the unknown or unexpected.
The government isn’t all stupid. They know people believe in them, like a child looking up to their all-knowing parent. But this most recent hurricane laid bare the inadequacy of the current federal government to even inspire its people, much less actually protect them. The governments responses have been woefully late and perpetually defensive, as has become common practice. We really heard nothing until people starting asking where they were.
They panic, after saying that they’re just now learning of the true scale of the horrors along the gulf coast. They’ve already started blaming local authorities for not sending federal government accurate information. (How exactly does the Mayor of Biloxi report in, when his town no longer exists?) So is it an organizational failure? Besides the obviousness of a response of “send everything you possibly can” to a disaster of this scale,I have never seen an organizational failure that didn’t originate from the top down. And I’ve never met a good leader who didn’t take the blow themselves when their subordinates fucked up. So the local authorities didn’t check in often enough? How about all the news reports coming out of the area? How about your national guardsmen? How about your FEMA workers? How about reports from the Red Cross? Nice to see our Director of Homeland Security was scooped by Al Jazeera. Did they think the order to evacuate New Orleans was not a bad sign?
I don’t lay blame for all the people suffering, on the federal government. I lay blame for an inadequate federal government, on the federal government. For the people sitting in the sun on the highway for 3 days; for the people having to dig their way out through their roofs; for the people desperate for aid an assistance; I lay the blame primarily on those people. I don’t wish suffering on any person. And there are, without a doubt, people who were physically unable to respond the the warnings and danger around them. But what is wrong with these people who are just sitting there saying “save me before I die”?! As I said… if your legs don’t work, or you’re trapped on an island, then it is an incredible tragedy. But otherwise… why are you sitting there? Your house is gone. You’ve run out of food and/or water? What on earth makes you sit there and wait for someone to pick you up, rather than to start walking north? People in Sudan are being bombed, and raped, and slaughtered. So what did they do? Entire towns stood up and started walking, and didn’t stop until they got to a new country.
It’s all a horrible parody, I sometimes think. The “strong” American people, so dependent on being told what to do, when to do it, how to do it. And we’re proud of this. Not like those third world countries. Other countries have people dying for the freedom to make their own decisions. We now have people dying in the streets for nothing more than their blind faith in the government.
For the last few days, I’ve been thinking about feral cities, in relation to New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast. I don’t know that the people in this country have the ability, on the large scale necessary, to take responsibility for their own lives, anymore.
Yeah… I know I lost my focus somewhere in here. But these are just a few little things that have been bugging the holy fuck out of me.
Thanks for your thoughts. I look forward to checking out your “feral cities.” Do cheer up, though. I know it seems dismal, but it’s still ours to own and act upon. Check out my