Katrina and the Federal Government - the Problem and the Solution:
Watching George Bush speak yesterday in front of one of the only rebuilt homes in a Biloxi, Mississippi neighborhood was something akin to watching that flaunting, flouncing prison video of Richard Speck, who killed 8 women, prancing around in his prison cell wearing only panties, sporting hormonally-induced tits, fucking a fellow inmate, and snorting coke, saying, "If they only knew how much fun I was having in here, they would turn me loose." It was creepy, depraved, and sadly unsurprising, and it left the Rude Pundit wondering why he had to see it at all.

For, as with so, so many things, Bush made the slow recovery of the Gulf Coast about himself, demonstrating nothing so much as the ability to bend that svelte body over and fellate himself, methodically, mechanically, with nary a grunt or pause to indicate that he blew a load into his own mouth other than a surrepititious twitch and lip wipe. The constant invocation of himself was sickening: "I'm glad" and "I want" and "Laura and I really care for the people whose lives have been affected," one of those so-obvious-it's-depressing sentiments.

Then he said, "We understand the trauma." And someone in that audience, maybe the "Go fuck yourself, Mr. Cheney" guy if he was around, needed at that point to answer the President with, "Oh, fuckin' really? So you lost your house, your job, and your neighbors overnight last year and have sat around waiting for some government somewhere to stop paying everyone but you to get the fuckin' work really going on making something like a life again until the next Katrina or Camille comes around and blows us the fuck off the map again in a few years? Is that the kind of trauma you're talking about? Or maybe you're just talking about that time the servants didn't bring you seconds on ice cream fast enough that one Thanksgiving?"

The blissful ignorance and goddamned willful blinders of the President to the reality of the entire Gulf Coast post-Katrina gets to be so nauseating sometimes that you think that the entire region at some point ought to just descend into madness. The problem, of course, is the problem that affects every goddamned aspect of Bush administration policy: the refusal to believe that government can be an entity for public good in and of itself (other than, of course, in issues of morality). Here's Bush once again pushing private enterprise: "We want to help. We want to help that optimism succeed. And so I signed legislation that creates what's called the Gulf Opportunity Zones. That means if you invest in this part of the world, you get tax breaks. In other words, they're using the tax code to say, come and invest your capital here." All fine and dandy for some point in the future. Bush wants local solutions to local problems: "I said, you develop the plan. We're not going to do it for you because you know better the local needs, and Mississippi stepped up." However, this ain't a local issue, and treating it like one ghettoizes and isolates the region, cutting it off rhetorically from the rest of the nation, which is ponying up for the presumptive reconstruction of the region.

But the use of contractors and subcontractors and sub-subcontractors for so much of the work is gonna suck that money dry or divert it enough to make a sad situation even more catastrophic. Says a report from Corpwatch, "The clearest instances of waste in Gulf Coast reconstruction are the contracting pyramids schemes – layers of subcontracting that turn an easy profit for the many middlemen. This layering creates distance between corporations such as Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR) and the subcontractor that ultimately performs the work. It allows KBR, for example, to plead ignorance when labor abuses are uncovered, as happened when a subcontractor was caught employing undocumented immigrants late last year and accused of mistreating them."

You keep hearing about things like Marshall Plans or some such shit. You want a solution? Here's one straight from Franklin Roosevelt, who the right is constantly trying to co-op to prop up their causes. Use the Tennessee Valley Authority as a model. The federal government, under an ideology that believed that one region's problems were the problems of the entire nation, not to mention the need for jobs in one of the worst hit areas in the Great Depression, created the TVA to bring the Tennessee Valley into the 20th century, provide wholesale-priced electricity to the poorest people, and help with flood control. Man, what pissed off conservatives and private power companies most was that it worked. And it would take until Ronald Reagan came along for people to actually fully believe that the federal government works against its interests because, you know, Reagan made the federal government work against the interests of the people.

Is it idealistic or, heavens forfend, communistic to say that if you take out the profit motive by eliminating the contractors and subcontractors from the payroll and just using the departments that the government has, like after Hurricane Camille, that the $110 billion wouldn't stretch a whole fuck of a lot further? So be it then. How dare it be suggested that the Gulf Coast might be served better by an active (read: non-Bush) federal government than by Halliburton.

Tomorrow: On the President's return to New Orleans - you know it's gonna be embarassing and worthless.