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Friday, September 02, 2005

 

Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans
And miss it each night and day
I know I'm not wrong... this feeling's gettin' stronger
The longer, I stay away
Miss them moss covered vines...the tall sugar pines
Where mockin' birds used to sing
And I'd like to see that lazy Mississippi...hurryin' into spring
--Louis Armstrong

One of our best friends moved to New Orleans last year to start a new chapter in her life. On Sunday she left with her two cats, three changes of clothes and her laptop. Everything else is out of her reach, quite possibly gone forever. And she was lucky.

Right now on the Gulf Coast, food rots in dead refrigerators while dead people rot in attics or float down the streets. Babies and old people die for lack of water in makeshift shelters, untended by supposed authorities. The families I saw marching joyfully in a second line parade last winter may be dead or dying I as write this.

Five years of naked corrpution and craven incompetence at the highest levels of government have shown us over and over again: a government that makes all of its decisions based on that day's crassest politics ignores its responsibility--and negates its ability--to plan for the days ahead. 9/11. Iraq. New Orleans. Same shit, different day. Politicians are now circling the wagons, congratulating each other for doing too little too late, claiming that no one could have forseen what has in fact been forseen by responsible scientists and bureaucrats for decades. Of course those irresponsible should be held to account and punished. Bush's plunging poll numbers on his disaster response, and the news media's increasing disgust with governmental blame-shifting, dissembling and outright lying indicate that perhaps, just maybe, there really will be an accounting this time.

We'll see. For now, donate to the Red Cross here. It certainly can't hurt.

Meanwhile, our friend is hanging in there. She has her job, which thankfully wasn't based in New Orleans. She's found a place to live for now. She has her pets, and her life. But every day she's torn by thoughts of the people who couldn't get out, and haunted by what she may have lost--photo albums, books, new friends, a community. As a nation, we haven't even begun to understand what's gone missing.

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