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The Muse

September 07, 2005

Loss of life, property....and pride.

The whole word has watched with shock at the images from New Orleans. I was simply stunned to see what was unfolding in front of my eyes. As was the case with almost everyone, my first reaction was not one of sorrow or anger or frustration - it was just surprise...was this America?

Since last week, newspapers and TV have told a tale of incompetence and ineptitude that is unparalleled in the history of this country. [Even while making these comments, some Americans take a swipe at other countries, "this is not Indonesia", "this is not Bangaldesh"...but that is another issue]. While 9/11 was also a tragedy, New Orleans was a failure on all fronts.

There is plenty of blame to go around. The Mayor, for having no plans to evacuate people at all. All he did was go on TV and Radio and start shouting at everyone to do something. While it was good to hear him cuss politicians, he simply did not do his job. The Governor also was totally unprepared. Now she is angry at the President, cries during conferences and visits shelters, but she flunked her duties miserably.

Then, of course, we have the White House. Seriously, I have great respect for some of the people there, but the last few days have shown how much of arrogance there is among them for the public opinion. I mean,come on - here was Katrina - Category 5 hurricane arriving in Louisiana, cities were being evacuated, and offices and schools were being shut down, and Rice was shopping, Cheney was buying a house, Bush was vacationing...that sucks. How far removed from the people are these guys?

The comparisons between Mumbai and New Orleans is inevitable. With all its infrastructure issues and poverty, the Army was there in Mumbai within a day and no one could complain about the law and order scene. That's one thing about India, politicians are well, politicians...but no one can question the efficiency, organization or effectiveness of the Army.

Then, when Katrina hit, the FEMA directors and Homeland Security people were lost on what to do. FEMA, - Jay Leno called it Fix Emergency? - My Ass! - is led by a Director whose previous job was some post at something called the Arabian Horses Association. This shows how much importance was given to disaster management. He is referred to these days as a horse's ass. The Homeland Security director does and did nothing except stand behind the President and talk to the press about how good a job they were doing. Lot of people felt like punching him in the face.

Bush had tremendous support after 9/11, people supported him in his actions, he was give a blank check to cash in, he went to Afghanistan, Iraq, did whatever he wanted, and won an election despite the ongoing mess in Irag. As NY Times columnist David Brooks says, this is the anti 9/11. NO ONE will forget these few days. Other than the human and monetary loss, America lost something it values above all - its pride. And here's where Bush and his cohorts hopefully lose theirs, and start doing something worthwhile for the country.


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