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Showing posts from August 28, 2005

the current myth

There has been some discussion about various comments made by Bill O’Reilly and the like – including the head of FEMA – about the culpability of those who did not evacuate. Usually, LI could care less about any comments made by Bill O’Reilly – we don’t have to look around for talking heads to be outraged at, screw em - but this is an issue that is so clear cut that we are worried about the myth that is building before our eyes. The response of the liberal community has been has been that those who are poor and elderly, having no transportation, couldn’t get out. No. Please, do not censor what happened. This is a half truth. The truth is that those who had no transportation but public transportation had no choice but to stay. They were left behind as an INTENTIONAL act of the government, which located shelters in the city and took the people it could to those shelters. Now, supposedly the traffic jam going out of the city was such that the complete bus system of New Orleans would have

Love in the ruins

Now in these dread latter days of the old violent beloved U.S.A. and of the Christ-forgetting Christ-haunted death-dealing Western world I came to myself in a grove of young pines and the question came to me: has it happened at last? – Walker Percy, Love in the Ruins. Have I lived through the Golden age? This question has been rushing at me, like a savage with an upraised asagai posed to strike my very heart, as one of the major American cities dies and three levels of government murders (oh, but in the second degree, and with the best intentions) as many African-Americans as it can get away with. America has definitely changed. That the country would screw its bottom 30 percent is dog bites man news. That it would screw the middle and the top should make us sit up, indeed. The artist in me appreciates the fine aesthetic sensibility of the muse of history, anointing a man as trivial as George Bush as the symbol of the zeitgeist. George Bush is an empty man – he makes Warren G. Harding

from 2000

I wrote this article in 2000. On my computer, it looks like an edited draft from a mag or newspaper, but I don't remember publishing it anywhere. Here it is. MISSISSIPPI CHURNING? Deeper issues lurk behind the populist rhetoric. Roger Gathman is a freelance writer based in Austin. MISSISSIPPI CHURNING? There are issues in this issue-less campaign, but who wants to talk about them? Roger Gathman is a freelance writer based in Austin. When Al Gore launched his official campaign on a Mississippi Steamboat, the media dutifully cited Mark Twain. But the locus classicus for the events that have shaped the Mississippi River valley, and by implication the place of the Federal Government in the national economy, might better be sought in William Faulkner’s Wild Palms, a novel set in ‘the great flood year, 1927.’ As John M. Barry showed in Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood and How it Changed America, the consequences of the flood were manifold and national. For instance, by directin

Rule by the worst just got worse

Can these things be? Is this madness? Is there no way to rise up and break the neck of the monsters, the true monsters, of this administration that is crushing us into the ground? We are ruled by something fantastically biblical, some combination of brainless Behemoths. And they are murdering us. And we do nothing. This is Bush's Chernobyl moment. And we watch it, and people die and die and die. “100 said dead in Chalmette Thursday, 9:46 p.m. About 100 people have died at the Chalmette Slip after being pulled off their rooftops, waiting to be ferried up the river to the West Bank and bused out of the flood ravaged area, U.S. Rep. Charles Melancon, D-Napoleonville, said Thursday. About 1,500 people were at the slip on Thursday afternoon, where critical supplies like food and water are scarce, he said. Melancon expressed serious frustration with the slow pace of getting these items to the people waiting to finish their journey to safety. Many of those at the slip were evacuated fr
I’ve heard and read disturbing things today. Here’s three: - Touro hospital is without a/c, electricity, food, water. There are patients on the roof. Touro being attacked is a sign – the riot is moving Uptown. This doesn’t happen. This is happening. - Kenner Hospital also suffered an attack. - Finally, I heard perhaps the single worst interview I’ve ever heard a government official give. Michael Chertoff’s interview with NPR consisted of anchoring himself to a happy talking point – that the Superdome was being relieved – even as he was asked about the Civic Center. Unbelievably, when conditions were described there, he said that the reports were rumors, and that he had heard nothing of this. Nobody, unfortunately, is going to fire Chertoff. That’s a fact of life. But if you want to know why people are firing on the helicopters, a good place to start is Chertoff’s remarks. People in New Orleans, or many people, think they are being abandoned to die. Doubtless with the state of the elec


And it shall be, whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him. -- Joshua, chapter 2 -- The shotgun I lived in on Willow near the Carrollton Cemetery, which always seemed to have kids flying kites from it when I lived there, is probably flooded. The house on Prytania might actually be flooded up to the roof, hard as that is for me to even conceptualize. The house on Audubon is on higher ground. The Tulane Library, where I worked on a project in which a group processed the purchase of a couple million dollars worth of books, is no doubt flooded down in the basement. The Tulane site is down. Apparently, the students and faculty have been evacuated, many of the students to Jackson Mississippi. I’ve seen one dead city on the Gulf: Galveston, Texas. Galveston gave up the ghost after a terrific storm in about 19

the respectable left

The new myth floating about is that the liberal hawks are in a self-questioning mood: how could they have been so wrong? The answer is that they trusted the Bush administration to do the right thing but the Bush administration let them down. This is, of course, horseshit covered in catsup. Hitchens, Friedman, Berman, Packer, Ignatieff, Marc Cooper (post occ.) and the rest of them are well practiced in the art of emitting herbivorous platitudes about human rights to defend the infamies of American foreign policy. Their share of the war consisted of committing a double act of bad faith: demoralizing the liberal/secular side in Iraq by branding it with the name of various scoundrels (Chalabi, Allawi), while putting up a noxious smokescreen of righteousness on the home front to disguise the quite normal imperialist mechanisms by which Iraq was to be reduced to its proper place in the world system. The movement was from a tyranny run by a mass murderer to a colony run by corporate American