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Katrina: An Email From The Tall Guy

Friday, September 2, 2005
Posted in: Uncategorized

If any of you hate political rants, I would seriously surf elsewhere today, because the post below is political, and blunt.

Paul’s been away for a couple of days, but we’ve both been watching the developments in New Orleans and surrounding areas very carefully, with a sense of incredulity and shock. We discussed the events last night over the phone, and although, mine and his political views rarely gel, as he tends to veer to the right, and I tend to be a little more liberal minded, he sent me an e-mail this morning that I thought made a lot of sense.

“It’s a deep shame about what’s happened in the USA…. and what makes it more shocking is that the contingency plans and disaster recovery programmes are simply not there.

Think back to the crisis in Cornwall last year… Not only did the police and army sort things, but the British people got behind each other.

The American government have been caught with their pants down and for all they claim to be the world’s police and the bastions of social responsibility, the poor backward way of living in the deep south has been exposed on a global scale.

What will the less fortunate people of the world think when they see the world’s richest country on its knees? Poverty and lack of human rights has been exposed big time…….

Fuel costs across the states is sky high.100s of thousands are homeless! The knock on effect will hurt the way the Americans live… Thus effecting the way we live.

This (I gaurantee you) will force the US administration to bring troops home from the Gulf.

Consider this:

180,000 troops in Iraq
35,000 humvee vehicles in Iraq
2,000 army helicopters in Iraq
1,500 navy helicopters in Iraq
1/4 of the US naval fleet in the Gulf
Cost = 2.5million$ per week
2,200 soldiers killed in action

It’s now clear to me that the former government supporters and insurgent fighters are prepared to fight and die for their cause.

We however should not be. The war in my opinion cannot be won (not from a military perspective)….

The initiative has been lost. I have not changed my opinion Karen, I’ve just simply accepted the position that we and the Americans are now in. If we don’t pull out of Iraq, we will lose more troops cause more home land bombs and risk our economic stability. The world is fucked, and the problems are all man made.

We are on the brink of total breakdown. God help us all.”

This e-mail marks an amazing turn around for somebody who supported the invasion of Iraq, but I think that seeing the people of New Orleans and Mississippi suffering because of lack of manpower and contingency plans, finally brought it home to him. Charity really does begin at home.

BTW, this is not an anti-American rant, (The Tall Guy is very much Pro-American) just an acknowledgement that things aren’t ok. For any of us.


  • Scott
    September 2
    10:25 am

    It is a shame that my country’s government is letting it’s own people down while trying to “liberate” Iraq.

    I am sorry to say this folks, but the US seriously needs to think about pulling out of Iraq. We have WAY TOO MANY problems at home. (And now we have almost ultimate devastation along the Gulf.) We need to take care of ourself. We are not the World’s Police Department. We need to be policing our OWN borders and taking care of those in trouble WITHIN our borders FIRST.

    Those Americans that are for the war, don’t get me wrong. At first I know that we needed to go there and flush those responsible out. We need to stop terrorism. (Though the war has gone way beyond that.) But we also need to feed the hungry and make shelters for the homeless in the US. And now there are over a million more that need exactly that kind of help since Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi.


  • Kristie
    September 2
    11:59 am

    Karen, this tragedy is beyond words. I was watching events unfold last night on the television and the suffering and loss is indescribable. One thing really struck me. Since 1998, they had plans in the works to alleviate the catastophe waiting to happen in New Orleans, but the solution would have been costly. The state applied to the Federal government to help cover the cost but it would have cost over $10 billion. The current administration refused and even cut funding. Where were their priorities? $10 billion is now a drop in the bucket.
    My heart ached last night and I cried along with some of the reporters as I watched. Much of what is happening in New Orleans at least could have been avoided.


  • Sharon
    September 2
    1:30 pm

    There’s a lot more that *should* be done, but it’s not too terribly “PC” and God forbid that we aren’t PC even in such a clusterfuck as we find ourselves currently in.

    As for Louisiana, the utter poverty is not just being exposed in the deep south, it’s just that no one has ever given a fuck before. It is no secret that Louisiana ranks last in poverty, education etc of ALL the states. But the simple truth is, no one cares or is moved to do anything until tragedy strikes and it’s too late.


  • Anne
    September 2
    1:44 pm

    I’m an American and in total agreement. America has it’s priorities all screwed up… lovely President and Government we have, isn’t it??


  • Eve Vaughn
    September 2
    1:44 pm

    I agree with Scott. And maybe since you got political Karen, I will go one step further. This is not America’s war. It’s Bush’s war. He lied to us about weapons of mass destruction, he capitalized on the tragedy of 9/11 to push his war agenda and now he doesn’t have the decency to face the mothers and the fathers who have to bury their children. What really bugs me about the whole thing is that if you say anything over here against the war people shout treason and how unpatriotic you are, but wasn’t this country based on freedom of speech? Isn’t what made this country so great the fact that I have the right to speak against my government without fear of persecution? I love my county and believe it or not, I do support our troops, but it doesn’t mean that I have to believe in this crummy war. Being the cynic that I am I don’t think Katrina will change anything.


  • Mike
    September 2
    1:48 pm

    What I dodn’t understand is why these people chose to stay when they were warned. This disaster could have been avoided if people had listened, insterad of trying to ride the storm out.


  • Desiree Erotique
    September 2
    2:17 pm

    Like anne, I’m American, and I’m fed up with it. While our nation may be considered the richest in the world, the wealth is segmented. Rich s.o.b.s start wars for their self-aims and leave the rest of us suffering to support those wars. The Bush family’s wealth is tied up with oil, and they have ties with the Bin Laden’s. It is my opinion that this war is nothing except an excuse to carry on personal investments for the greedy elite of America.

    But in response to mike, I’d like to say many people did evacuate before the hurricane came, a lot of my kin amongst them. Among those who didn’t leave were the elderly. They’ve lived in the bayous and other non-urban residences for generations, and simply could not foresee the wrath of nature strike so savagely. In defense of those who did not evacuate, I feel judgement should be held until we hear what the situation was like from their personal accounts.


  • Kristie
    September 2
    2:55 pm

    I agree Desiree. From what I was watching last night many of the people who didn’t evacuate were the poorest of the poor and couldn’t leave. One woman was interviewed who didn’t have a car. She stopped people driving along the way and asked for a ride, but many of them said they didn’t have room in their vehicles. The space was taken up by luggage. And you can be told over and over to leave, but it is in our very nature not to anticipate or expect the level of pure destruction this hurricane has caused.
    Also for many who did evacuate, things are a struggle. I saw lines of cars miles long pulled over to the side because they had run out of gas. One interviewee said he had been in a line for six hours waiting to get gas.


  • Rosie
    September 2
    3:15 pm

    I’ve felt physically ill watching and reading about this tragedy. Nothing should take priority over this situation and the needs of the people touched by Katrina.

    In any time we are tested it is always good to look at where we went wrong so we can do better in the future. It just seems sometimes that where natural disasters are concerned we never learn. We (world population) just gamble and wait to make the necessary plans, preparations or repairs…or make them after a disaster has struck somewhere else.

    It is always the average citizen who pays the highest price. It is also the average citizen that politicians call to pull up their bootstraps and dig deep.

    While I too struggle with despair over the loss of life and the sorry conditions, I cling to the hope that the resiliency, determination, faith, generosity and courage of all Americans will once again respond to those in need.


  • La Karibane
    September 2
    6:23 pm

    Ok, I spoke about this a little on my own blog but let me just say it again here: what about pollution and it’s effects on the world and our lives? The US is not doing enough to curb polluants so when they get hit, why aren’t they talking about this? or better, taking real measures?

    Another thing that shocked me was : why aren’t there any white people in the images from New Orleans? I know this is the South but all the pictures online seem to be mostly black people. Did the whites have enough money to leave? Are the ones left, as poor as the blacks? I don’t mean to offend anyone but I’m rather surprised by this.

    (as an aside, why did Walmart carry guns, anyway? It’s a household appliance or something?)

    And in response to this question : “What will the less fortunate people of the world think when they see the world’s richest country on its knees? Poverty and lack of human rights has been exposed big time…….”, as a citizen of a seriously poor third-world country, I wanted to drink cyanid. If the top dog nation is reduced to this by bad weather, I can just go kill myself ’cause poor, ignorant, disorganized, corrupted little me isn’t going to make it to 2006 at this rate.


  • Selah March
    September 2
    8:25 pm

    “What I dodn’t understand is why these people chose to stay when they were warned. This disaster could have been avoided if people had listened, insterad of trying to ride the storm out.”

    One hundred thousand New Orleans citizens did not own cars prior to this catastrophe. They closed the Greyhound bus station on Saturday night–not that there would have been anywhere near enough buses to move the numbers needed to be moved.

    You do the math.


  • Dave
    September 2
    9:02 pm

    I must take issue with the above comments… I like everyone else am totally shocked that the events of the past week have caused so much grief. However to lay bl;ame at the door of Mr. Bush is a total disgrace.

    I mean come on it must be the easiest thing in the world to blame the president? Afterall he gets blamed for everything else on this planet.

    The fact is warnings were issued and I doubt if anyone perhaps including the government seriously thought the hurricane would do as much damage.

    The response has been described as “piss poor” this coming from the Mayor of New Orleans.

    Perhaps the Mayor should take some responsibility for not addressing the poverty situation in his city?

    Lets get behind the president and stop being armchair critics! Maybe some of you lot should get on a plane and go down South.


  • Scott
    September 2
    10:22 pm

    You know Dave, I have thought of exactly that. I even posted on my blog that I wish I had the spiritual and mental strength to drive down there and help. And if it wasn’t for being financially strapped and having a child on the way, I would have gone already.

    My personal comments above, was not a direct swipe at the President. I am not blaming him. Hell, how many other politicians are for the war? (And again, the ORIGINAL objective I supported!!) But what I said, and what you said, is that there is poverty all over the place. You seem to think that is important. So why is it only the Mayor of New Orleans’ problem? It is all of us as Americans that need to look out for the rest of us.

    No offense to Karen and any one else that reads this that is not a US citizen. But we need to take care of ourselves first.


  • Jennifer
    September 3
    1:09 pm

    I think Maureen Dowd hit it right on the head this morning in her op-ed in the NY Times. There’s also an ongoing section in the Guardian (UK) these past few days that tells it like it is.
    Fact is, New Orleans getting hit by a hurricane has been a disaster scenario the US has had on their ‘top danger’ list for years. But because it’s poor, and mostly black, and not high priority (like Bin Laden, I suppose) the federal government kept cutting the money being spent shoring up the levees.
    I bet what galls Bush the most is the fact he can’t blame this on any terrorists. His ‘war’ on terror has cost the US precious funds, soldiers, material, and good will.
    I wonder how fast he’ll squander the good will that has come out of this tragedy?


  • Erin
    September 3
    4:40 pm

    ” Mike said…

    What I dodn’t understand is why these people chose to stay when they were warned. This disaster could have been avoided if people had listened, insterad of trying to ride the storm out.”

    Mike? Most of these people did not ‘choose’ to stay. The level of poverty they live in made it impossible for them to leave. They had no way to get out and there was certainly no help offered beyond telling them to leave.


  • Erin
    September 3
    4:47 pm

    “The fact is warnings were issued and I doubt if anyone perhaps including the government seriously thought the hurricane would do as much damage.”

    Actually Dave, they did think it would do this much damage, more even. Initially they were saying that the hurricane did LESS damage than expected. It was when the levees (sp) were breached that they were in DEEP SH**…that was unexpected (to a degree) Even though engineers had been begging the GOVERNMENT (that’s right, this is something that was disregarded at a federal level) for funds to fix the levee system. They KNEW that it wouldn’t withstand many more huge storms.

    AND Mr. Bush himself has said that the response from the government was unacceptable. So yes I DO think that a large portion of the blame can be layed upon the government, and indeed President Bush.

    It’s my opinion that more of us need to get off our asses and do something about it. Donate money, supplies or blood if you can’t afford to do anything else for christ sake! Quit whining online about this horrific situation!


  • Sam
    September 4
    7:52 am


    Frank Rich pulls no punches here.


  • Meg
    September 4
    5:40 pm

    I know why some people stayed. They had absolutely no way to get out. Unfortunately, most people don’t understand that, because they’ve never been that poor, and have no idea what poor people have to go through. Up until a few years ago, if I’d lived there, I would have gone through the exact same thing–no money to buy tickets out, no car, no where to go, and no one to take you anywhere. Hell, I didn’t even have TV and radio, so it could’ve hit and I’d’ve been like WTF?

    I wondered why the hell they don’t utilize the railway system. There are trains that run east and west, and they could’ve loaded up damn near everyone and gotten them the hell out before the hurricane hit. It would’ve been cheap, and more people would’ve lived. But no one thinks about a solution as simple as that.

    The thing is, our government is run, mostly, by the priviledged, and they cannot imagine, or won’t, what the comman man and woman in this country is going through. It’s the underpriviledged going off to war and suffering the most. I’ve always felt like before someone could become a senator, representative, or president, they should be forced to live below the poverty line, just to see what hell it is. THEN maybe the world we live in would start improving.

    The fact is, this country is built to keep the poor downtrodden. If you’re poor here, you may as well just die.


  • Jenn
    September 5
    12:51 am

    “Lets get behind the president and stop being armchair critics! Maybe some of you lot should get on a plane and go down South.”

    Well Dave I do live in the south and people here what they want to hear.
    People stayed with sick relatives, the poor did not have the financial means to leave. Can you read or do you hear what you want to hear?

    The point is it should not have taken five friggin days to get help to these people.We can be overseas within a day to help other countries but not a city in our own country. But I forget Bush could bring the world to the brink of destruction and some people would still support him and his incompetance. OH and he made the head of Fema a guy whos main experience was working with horse competitions.


  • byrdloves2read
    September 5
    1:24 am

    In an interview on Thursday, the head of FEMA stated that we (FEMA) saw people for the first time that we didn’t know existed. I suspect that most of us who are middle class were shocked at the idea that there were so many people who couldn’t evacuate. We don’t see the poor and have no concept of what their lives are like. Well, we have a better idea now. And hopefully, we won’t forget.

    I would like to see us stop playing the blame game and concentrate on how we can help. My church and I know hundreds of others are opening their doors, and the doors of their parishioners, to the homeless and are planning mission trips to help rebuild. This is a constructive response and more helpful than complaining.


  • Dawn
    September 5
    9:58 am

    The whole situation is a tragedy. I’ve been watching the news in the UK, shocked that the scenes are from the USA – “THE Superpower”.

    My own opinion, however unpopular it may be to other people, is that one of the reasons that it’s taken so long for help to reach New Orleans is that the vast majority of people affected are black. There, I’ve said it.

    I agree with whoever said that the US can provide aid within a day to a foreign country, but cannot do so for it’s own citizens. Why?

    So Bush is not to blame for Katrina, but he IS to blame for the situation that New Orleans finds itself in.

    Frankly, if I were Bush I’d stay away from the area. If I were a resident I’d think it’s patronising of him to fly down, take a look, offer a few platitudes and then fly back to the safety of the White House.


  • Tara Marie
    September 5
    10:46 am

    There will be enough blame to spread around, first the people in Louisiana and Mississippi need help.

    Blame will start not only on a federal level, but also on local and state levels. Marshall law still hasn’t been enacted in Louisiana, only the Governor can do that. She and the Mayor through their collective hands in the air and basically said we can’t handle this and the Federal Gov’t was too slow to respond.

    We expect better of all our levels of government.


  • Karen Scott
    September 5
    2:14 pm

    Thanks for all your comments, some of them I agree with, and some of them I don’t, but I will respond to Dawn’s comments because I know where she’s coming from.

    Dawn, all I can say is, if I was where those people are now, and I looked around me, and saw that the majority of faces looking back at me were black, like mine, I think I could be forgiven for thinking that the slow progress was due to the fact that I was black.
    What other conclusion could I draw from this situation? It maybe unfair, but that’s how I would feel.

    As for the various comments on hushing up until everything’s been taken care of, well that’s just not the way the world works I’m afraid


  • Maven
    September 7
    4:29 pm

    1. I do blame Bush for diverting money directly from the levee project and into the war effort. I also blame him for regrouping FEMA under the Office of Homeland Security and having their training shift in focus from natural disasters to counter-terrorism. I also blame “We The People” for allowing this to occur without a whimper. By Our silence we all bear the blame. 2. America’s greatest fault is our apathy to our own condition. We believe we cannot change anything, therefore we make no effort.
    3. I think that people are also forgetting the very large, or should I say “formerly large” population of homeless people in N.O., just as there is in Houston or Dallas. I can remember how they came out in droves as the sun went down in Jackson Sq. You just didn’t notice them during the day. How were people on foot, unwashed, often with mental illnesses, with their entire lives in a garbage bag, supposed to evacuate? By Hitchhiking? Bus when you have NO money? Cab? Walk out?

    Many middle and upper income people have no concept of what it means to be poor and literally exhist from meal to meal, from dollar to dollar, not even paycheck to paycheck.
    Now people are reacting to world scrutiny of the US’s guilty secret with defensive anger.
    Now is NOT THE TIME for this, people! We have to regroup and salvage what we can of these people’s lives.
    For all its problems and seedy decay, New Orleans was one of my favorite places. I weep for the loss of life and culture, and pray for those left behind. In the meantime, I will do whatever I can to see that those displaced and in refugee camps in Dallas/FtWorth are fed, clothed, and comforted.


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