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Of stiffs and shoes
(Sept. 7, 2005)

"And what they do in Washington,
They just take care of Number One
And Number One ain't you
You ain't even number two. . ."---Frank Zappa.

Did I understand this correctly?
          Hurricane Katrina wipes out New Orleans, leaving thousands drowned, thousands more dying of thirst and hunger, and Secretary of State Condoleezza “Imelda” Rice goes shopping at Ferragamo’s in New York City for several thousand dollars’ worth of leather shoes?
          Nothing like a little social conscience, I always say.
          Aside from the thundering callousness and narcissism of this act, gee whiz, there would seem to be some uh, racial implications here, don’t you think? On the one hand, you have American Leader Condi---one of the “good negroes” who has pulled herself up by her brastraps, getting an oil tanker named after her, and on the other, ordinary N'awlins African-American working stiffs---many of whom have just become actual stiffs.
          This, folks, is called “irony.”
          And it brings up the word, “genocide,” mentioned on KPFK the other morning in the context of New Orleans, as you would expect from inflammatory lefties. It suddenly made sense to me, too, in a way, so you are free to count me among their ranks. I will not go so far as to suggest that an Uncle Sam-directed ion ray stoked Katrina into wiping out New Orleans, as some frolicsome Internet sites have it, but. . .
          I know that in the private thoughts and mumblings of those spectacularly removed from suffering and deprivation---which is to say, ultra-right-wing extremists in power in Washington, D.C.---these sentences certainly appeared:
          “Why didn’t the dumb niggers get out?”
          “Serves the dumb niggers right.”

          (If you are among those so naďve as to believe that such thoughts are alien to our dear, highly educated and empowered representatives, please go back to your Bud and CNN.)

"Whaddya mean, they got nothin' to eat down here?"

          When a great block of a particular minority lives in neglect, or dies in neglect, especially in a nation where the rich are afforded staggering tax breaks, there is a kind of laissez faire genocidal mentality at work. A winking sort of “we give them opportunity, but they can't’t cut it” attitude. Katrina was windfall profit for the extreme right. Took care o' lots o' them shifless nigras. To wit: Representative Richard Baker of Baton Rouge was overheard telling lobbyists: "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did." I’m surprised Pat Robertson did not gleefully declare the storm to be Almighty retribution against sloth and hedonism.
          The Bush administration and family personify this mentality with a hard-hearted---make that no-hearted---overarching cynicism that just leaves one dazzled. These are the "are there no workhouses?" Scrooges of the 21st century; the oblivious Marie Antoinettes. Consider alone Barbara Bush’s remark about the comfort and hominess of the Houston Astrodome(!), where thousands of terrified, sad people are crammed:
          "Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this, this is working very well for them," Mrs. Bush told American Public Media's "Marketplace.”
          Wow. “Working well.” These people are so used to being, you know, “underprivileged” (an unwittingly apt term for the Queen Bush Mother to use) that hell, the Astrodome is pretty danged good! Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home plate! Maybe Barbara should try sleeping with a few thousand friends for a night in a domed stadium, and see if it "works well."  Her comment is a half-step away from Sen. Wilbur Mills’ famous appraisal of “colored” needs: “tight (censored), loose shoes, and a warm place to (censored).”
          And it is absolutely emblematic of the cynicism that inculcates the Bush/Cheney crowd. Remember, these are people who felt that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)---set up to help citizens in natural disasters---was an “entitlement” program, if you can imagine such a thing. Entitlement? Bush and Co. probably view free schoolbooks as communist.. Me, I think the country is entitled to a government that tries to take care of its constituents. (Ten-to-one, by the way, that Mrs. Bush soon says she “misspoke” or the quote was taken “out of context.”)

 There is no humanitarian concern from the Bush cynics; such is considered the touchy-feely stuff of bleeding hearts and the “feel your pain” Clintons, and the softening up of the nation by post-60’s liberalism.

          Cynicism? Bush was responsible for the absent federal response to the New Orleans debacle, yet he went on the tube and called the response “unacceptable.” Huh? So he was unacceptable to himself? He spoke disparagingly of "playing the blame game"---while implicitly blaming everyone but the federal government. Then he announced an investigation into the mess to find out “what went right and what went wrong.” Gadzooks, does anyone not see the ruse here? It’s like Schwarzenegger announcing that he would investigate all charges of sexual harassment and assault being made against him. I haff found myzelf innocent off awl chahhhges. The snake eats itself!
          Cynicism? Bush’s visits to stricken Louisiana were---as are all events in this administration---carefully plotted photo-ops. In Biloxi, German television crews report witnessing the “President” giving food away, only to see the food distribution point dismantled when the photo-op ended. Now that's compassionate conservatism! Yet the Bud/CNN crowd sees the “President” doing hands-on assistance, and thinks, “he’s a good man!”
          Cynicism? Did you know that FEMA is trying to stop the press from photographing bodies floating in New Orleans? Just as the federal government tries to stop photographs of dead soldiers coming home in flag-draped coffins from Iraq. This is true censorship---violation of the free expression, free press, and well, freedom---aimed entirely at controlling public opinion. Yes, it is done in the name of "respecting the dead," but what is more disrespectful than covering up the horror of their deaths for political damage control?
          Cynicism? Did you know that the U.S. is accepting financial aid for New Orleans and environs from the likes of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka? When is the last time you accepted small change from a homeless guy with no teeth? This is a national disgrace, or should be, but not in the Bush/Cheney era.
          Cynicism? Can you say five-bucks-a-gallon? Oil company profits are through the roof under Bush/Cheney, while nothing is done to mandate fuel-efficient vehicles from Detroit; while environmental laws and pollution restrictions are eliminated; while smog, asthma, lung cancer, emphysema rise faster than gas prices. Of course, this is an administration of oil company executives who plotted the nation's "energy policy" in secret meetings with. . .oil company executives.
          Cynicism? President Dick “Vice-President” Cheney, Uncle Donald Rumsfeld and the rest are willing to spend the lives of U.S. citizens, many if not most of them young and naďve, on a vainglorious, avaricious, and fraudulent military undertaking in the guise of “liberating a people” in Iraq. They are also willing to kill and maim tens of thousands of innocents in the process (now that’s liberating a people!). They are willing to spend $300 billion---three hundred billion!---to accomplish this.
          Why, then, should they be moved to take care of the dead and dying at home? How can one expect any compassion, let alone substantial and creative aid, from this administration when it comes to aiding the poor and hapless of the United States? There is no humanitarian concern from the Bush cynics; such is considered the touchy-feely stuff of bleeding hearts and the “feel your pain” Clintons, and the softening up of the nation by post-60’s liberalism.
          Under Clinton, that nasty entitlement program, FEMA, was in fact attempting to become anticipatory (“proactive” is the asinine term), but it was all but junked under Bush/Cheney---who wanted as much money as possible for the “war on terror” (read: Iraq folly) as possible. Levees to protect New Orleans from widely predicted devastation were never improved, despite repeated requests for federal dollars.
          So what, ultimately, is this? Shirking of duty toward one’s own country in favor of corporate interests and foreign adventuring. Put simply: selling your people out. Sean Penn, who is riding around in a boat in New Orleans, performing rescues, calls it “criminal neglect,” and I’ll agree with him. It raises the question: why do we care about Iraq? Why do we care more about Iraq citizens than U.S. citizens? Why are we not taking care of our own country and people?
          Answer: the United States has been hijacked by extremists in what was, in fact, an illegal organized bloodless coup. The extremists represent several primary interests: the moneyed elite, corporate profiteering, Israel, insane Armageddonist evangelical “Christians.” Remember: their leader, “President” Bush, once remarked that “more lives will be lost at home than abroad in the war on terror.” I think that well demonstrates the amount of concern he has for his “fellow Americans.”
          That the majority of citizens has not denounced this administration and demanded its immediate removal from office is a tribute to stupidity, naivete, ignorance, and brainwashing by corporate media.
          And when rapper Kanye West blurted on that New Orleans fundraising telethon the other day, “Bush doesn’t care about black people,” you had to ask yourself, where is the evidence to the contrary?
          Keeping Condi Rice in thousand-dollar Ferragamos?

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