Why This Blog
I reserve the right to post about the ongoing relief and recovery efforts. And of course about the great and ruined city of New Orleans -- as well as the many other parishes (counties) in south Louisiana whose names you hardly hear on the national news.
Because, awful as it's been in New Orleans, the Crescent City is just one sliver in the wretched overall story. The networks spent a lot of time aiming their cameras on the small handful of violent looters. Only today -- on Day 6 -- did they get down to Plaquemines Parish, where the mighty Mississippi makes its vital connection to the Gulf. (At least Bill Hemmer managed to pronounce it right.)
And I've yet to hear someone other than a Louisiana elected official even mention St. Bernard Parish on the airwaves. When Jefferson Parish president Aaron Broussard broke down and cried on Meet the Press this morning, the man's mother he was talking about drowned not in Jeff Parish but on the other side of New Orleans in St. Bernard, where nearly every building was covered in water up past the eaves.
This is my point. FEMA director Michael Brown admitted live on CNN that the feds didn't even know there were people at the Convention Center, let alone that they were stranded amid dead bodies, rapists and murderers, without a drop of food or water -- or a way out. It's disgusting that help couldn't get to these people without the media holding the government accountable.
But there were no cameras in St. Bernard. None of us were watching when 1,500 people who had swum from their houses -- or from endangered parish shelters -- gathered on the Chalmette Slip, cut off from any communication with the outside world, stranded for days waiting to be saved.
This was on Thursday -- the same day as the dust up over the Convention Center. But CNN wasn't in St. Bernard, and neither was FEMA. And a hundred people died on that slip. They survived three days after the storm. All they needed was a boat and some food and water. But help never came.
When President Bush came down to the delta on Friday, Day 4, he immediately held a press conference that I watched live on TV. At the press conference, he listened as FEMA director Michael Brown explained the path of the storm and how very bad it was over a very wide area. The whole time I was thinking, do they think we're idiots? The president surely did not wait till he got on the ground in Mississippi for his first briefing on Katrina.
No, they were just playing for the cameras, whispering sweet nothings into each other's ears.
When the president said Brown was doing "a heck of a job," I almost puked.
Now let's be clear: I'm no Bush-basher, let alone part of the Hate America First crowd. I have an extensive record of writings, as well as a number of newspaper columns, if you'd like to check.
The sad fact is, the president doesn't get it. It's like that moment when his father was running for re-election and he didn't know the price of a gallon of milk. Only the stakes are so much higher -- higher than maybe they've ever been for our country, and especially for the millions of people from Grand Isle to Gulfport.
For the good of all these people -- many who are still making their way to shelters across the country and, in some cases, still being pulled from the wreckage -- we have to make sure the president gets it.
The best way for the president to show he gets it is to fire Brown now.