Katrina Update II
14 September, 2005
Since Brown has been fired from FEMA, the flurry of good news that keeps coming from Hurricane Katrina and its rescue operations never seems to cease. Lower death toll, business seem to want to return and massive 'aid bill'. Well, it all just seems to be coming up 'roses' now doesn't it? Let us remember that the Bush administration's first priority under Brown was to put a 'positive image' to the public. Now that Brown has gone that positive image is the constant and daily refrain in the America's national corporate media outlets. Sadly this administration while claiming to desire to keep Americans safer has shown itself to be a major danger to its own citizens. Here you have the head person for the entire nations disaster response lying about his experience on disaster relief. This is incredible! Don't they do background checks on key high level administration officials anymore? If there was any evidence that the Bush administration lackeys are incompetent and unqualified, this is it.
I have long maintained the the Department of Homeland Security was merely a sophisticated attempt to centralize government contracting in the hands of Bush's friends. The GOP wasted no time to spend the money and grant it via contracts to GOP cronies. Sadly, the majority of Federal aid is very unlikely to help the Americans who were left homeless.
“Companies winning work include US contracting giants Bechtel and Halliburton. Halliburton, formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, is facing questions for allegedly overcharging on work done in Iraq.
The Bush PR machine is working overtime to spin its lackadaisical response to the the worst Hurricane to hit the US positively. Everyday like clockwork a major 'good news' story is churned out of the major news wires, AP Reuters, etc. The impression now is that things are not as bad as they seem. One of the truly bright spots is the fact that now news crews are now allowed to report on the real number of casualties, or at least this is according to widely disseminated reports1. Yet the response to Katrina has been a military operation since day one and given Donald Rumsfeld's proclivity to disseminate false and misleading statements, it stands to reason that much of the hype we are now suddenly hearing has more to do with 'information management' that with any relationship to reality.
Many of the true horror stories are not being reported, such as the fact that National Guard and police armories were looted, not to mention those gun and ammos supples at major retailers that suffered damage. It also has not been generally reported in mainstream sources that a massive Gun confiscation has taken place. While many of the more conservative elements of the nation are decrying this, in such situation where lawlessness is the rule of the day such action is called for. The real horror stories have yet to be told and when they are, even many of the most ardent gun proponent will see that in this kind of unique situation such a move was not imprudent and probably saved scores of lives.
There are some things that I have heard from eyewitnesses that are almost beyond human imagination. If I told you, you would not believe them they are so utterly reprehensible. It truly makes one wonder if some of the inhabitants of the city were even human, so disgusting are the reports. Thus, while I am an ardent supporter of the 2nd amendment, the lawlessness and violence that ensued required some kind of response that allowed rescue workers in to assist those who needed it without getting killed by roaming reprobates with M-16's.
But the governments response is being blamed largely on the Presidents inability to handle bad news. He strange and disturbing mood swings is now being blamed for the unwillingness of his staff to tell him how bad things really were. This is a recurring theme when one hears how this administration works. The Presidents unstable emotional state keeps important news from getting to him. This time it probably cost many lives, the lives of Americans. However this President and his entire family seem to be so disdainful of poor Americans that it's cruelty has become the talk of foreign commentary. Consider the reaction of our President's mother about those less than fortunate Americans.
On the tape of the interview, Mrs. Bush chuckles audibly as she observes just how great things are going for families that are separated from loved ones, people who have been forced to abandon their homes and the only community where they have ever lived, and parents who are explaining to children that their pets, their toys and in some cases their friends may be lost forever. - Good enough for the poor
The Bush matriarch then hugged the recently fired brown and told him what a great job he was doing. I suppose he is, if ensuring that the human suffering is prolonged as long as possible, then I would agree, he was doing a great job. But this episode shows the character of the woman who raised this President. It may explain Bush's former alcoholism and current (reported) dependence on antidepressants and apparent emotional instability. Bush seems to have been raised by a person whose public statements are so divorced from an sense of decency and humanity that it defies any normal persons basic sense of right and wrong. Nevertheless, it does helps to explain the President's own inhumane behavior and his seeming indifference to human life.
So what can we expect in the days ahead? First and foremost after the human toll are the fiscal issues, then follows the energy issues. I put them in that order for a very good reason. While the 'peak oil' guys are all saying 'I told you so' the other issue that needs to be considered as well where will the money come from for all of this promised aid? This in truth remains to be seen. While Congress can, has and will certainly pass spending measured to aid those very contractors who are now under investigation for malfeasance in Iraq contracts to 'aid' in cleaning up Katrina, the real effect is going to felt in three major areas.
The costs to the insurance industry is estimated (at the time of this writing) to be around $60 Billion. That is an awful lot of money, even for this profitable industry. This kind of exposure can be devastating to the industry. Now pundits and commentators will attempt to downplay the real costs and impact in the insurance industry. If losses grow above $40 billion in claims, then many insurance groups face a downgrade by Standard and Poor. This may not seem like a big deal when one considers the human cost (people who still have mortgages on homes that no longer exist), the real problem is going to be finding out who will actually pay. It is the time of the lawyers. They will wrangle about weather a home was damaged by a storm surge or flood. They will wrangle to get out of paying claims to ordinary people who have been paying premiums for years, sometimes decades.
Louisiana is facing an epic legal battle to determine who should pay to repair damaged properties, with insurance experts predicting that tens of thousands of homeowners will discover their insurance claims will not cover the cost of rebuilding their homes. This will be a financial disaster for thousands. If I were any of these poor folks, I would get down to the bankruptcy attorney's office post haste and file before the new laws go into effect.
One can see what is going to happen, it doesn't take a psychic. The poor will be removed from a strategically important part of the nation and they will be poorly compensated. Big developers will get the land that once belonged to the poor and the federal billions that could have gone rebuild homes will go to GOP contractors. Remember the eminent domain ruling. The Supreme Court, the eternal protector of the rich, will codify the theft into federal law. I suspect that we will soon be watching mammon's wickedness in action. The rich will steal the land from the poor and call it justice.
The personal tragedies will go on for years. People are going to be homeless for a long time. Those without family will have the hardest time of all for it is not known how long they will be interned by the government. Some of the stories are tragic. FEMA apparently did not inform evacuees of their destination until after they boarded the planes, thus ensuring families were separated and will remain so. The incompetence of FEMA borders on cruelty, one has to wonder which of these two terms is the more accurate description of FEMA's actions. The fact that Black Americans have long been at the brunt end of human cruelty in America for centuries is not lost upon many here in the US and abroad. Some of the 'inaction' and 'bungling' seem to be too calculating and numerous to ignore the possibility of malicious intent on the part of Federal officials. Then there are the other stories some have not been confirmed but are not to be dismissed just because hate rags like the 'Conservative Voice' don't give them credence. Stories like explosive residue found on a key levee that flooded a largely black area of New Orleans. Critics of this story invariably display all the symbols of the GOP on its site. It is full of pro-Bush propaganda. What really happened regarding this particular levee and how it actually burst is not known and none of us should jump to any conclusions. Many have said that the Bush administration is not capable of seeing that far ahead and making such a decision before a disaster. I respectfully disagree, the Administration actions before the storm were frankly, unprecedented as they declared a disaster area BEFORE the storm hit, something almost never done. So that argument won't fly.
Someone in the administration was expecting a major disaster... and the contracts to rebuild. Is it a bit of a stretch to say that people in the administration would deliberately blow up a levee to flood poor and black districts that did not and will not vote for Bush? I cannot tell you what to think, but in my opinion, it is not a question of if people inside this administration are evil enough to do such a thing, they are; but the real question is, did they actually do it.
The fate of ordinary Americans seems to be rather low on the agenda of the Bush Administration and this horrible tragedy seems to demonstrate that with crystal clarity. Now the PR machine of the administration and their bought and paid for supporters and will defend to the death anything Bush does. Now they have lined up to defend the indefensible. Such lackey's are not to be taken seriously. They are barking dogs, they yelp whenever their master snaps his bloodstained fingers. The human tragedy of this may be the most long lasting of all, as many lives have been shattered by this one natural disaster.
The potential impact in the Federal budget cannot be underestimated. The initial outlay of $62 billion in Katrina aid money is likely to be only the first installment of a large ongoing package to rebuild critical infrastructure in the storm torn region. This is going to be a significant drag on the federal budget. There is no way around it. As long as war rages in Iraq, energy prices are at record levels and a major American city must be rebuilt the federal budget is going to be strained as it never has been before. America's current account deficit is going to hit 7% of GDP later this year. This means the the US must fund that enormous amount of money via additional borrowings. Today, the US savings rate is, according to Stephen Roach at Morgan Stanley, at Great Depression levels. Mr Roach's excellent analysis goes on to point out that nations like japan and Germany may not be in a position to assist to the degree needed to divert its global savings into US debt.
The macro conclusions are inescapable: A saving-short US economy that runs a massive current account deficit is effectively living beyond its means. It not only relies on foreign saving to fund domestic growth, but it also lacks the capacity to invest in public goods that may be needed to safeguard its future. - Stephen Roach
Sadly, the GOP led congress has led the charge to set up a corporate welfare system that awards large amounts of federal aid to GOP donors. This will lead to the need for even more aid as these corporations, some of whom are still under investigation for their role in contracting malfeasance will in all likelihood, not spend the money efficiently nor in the public interest. This will lead to yet more corporate welfare, cleverly disguised as Katrina aid.
America's deficits and this natural disaster as well as the man made disaster in Iraq are fiscal strains that the nation cannot afford. Something will have to give. But the most disturbing thing about this tragedy is the utterly depraved actions of a great many Americans during this tragedy. It is as though the nation is obsessed with sex and death, rape and murder, theft and mayhem. The stories are so horrible I will not report them in detail. Is this the real character of the nation? Sadly, yes... it is. The American nation is bankrupt financially and spiritually. It reminds me of a passage in the book of Genesis.
And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
God was sorry he made man. Frankly brothers and sisters, I still think that regret is still in his heart. But God is always true to his word and was honor-bound by his word to save mankind. That is, as many as want to be saved. People have asked if God can make a mistake. The answer to that is no, but the subject is much more complicated than that. Suffice it to say that this is one of closest things to a divine admission of an error; God was sorry that he made mankind, and looking around this planet of ours and the wickedness of people and evil we do to one another, I can surely understand why.
Christ said that the last days would be as the days of Noah. Well, if what folks did in New Orleans is any indication of where we are spiritually, the end of all things is much closer than most of us think.
In Christ Jesus,
Mark S. Watson
1Which are not to be believed in a time of national emergency