Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Lapham calls out Bush administration for post-Katrina crimes

In his monthly "Notebook" column, Harper's editor Lewis H. Lapham bestows the magazine's November issue with a critique of the Bush administration's response to Katrina that all but brought me to tears. "Slum Clearance" is a scathing, no-holds-barred description of what the Republican Party's real mission is all about: doing whatever it takes to increase the wealth of the rich, and whatever is necessary to bring about the demise of the poor.

Lapham calls the scale of the laissez-faire response of the federal government even greater than the scale of the disaster itself.

The residents of New Orleans had been told to evacuate the city before the hurricane came ashore, and if they didn't do so, well, whose fault was that? Government cannot be held responsible for the behavior of people who don't follow instructions, aren't mature enough to carry an American Express card or drive an SUV.

Lapham wonders, as we all do, how millions of people around the world could have seen the reports of people dying in the Superdome, but Director of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said he knew nothing about them. He reviews the chillingly callous statements made by Barbara Bush, Jack Burkman, Laura Bush, and Tom DeLay right after the disaster occurred. And he points out the irritation Bush felt when people complained about both him and FEMA Director Michael Brown:

What was everybody complaining about, for God's sake? Who didn't know that America was divided into a nation of the rich and a nation of the poor? What else had every self-respecting Republican politician been doing for the last thirty years if not bending his or her best efforts to achieve that very purpose?

He reminds us that the majority of the legislation passed by Congress in the last five years--the transportation bill, the Medicare bill, tax bills, the bankruptcy bill--"strengthens the power of money to limit and control the freedom of individuals."

Lapham, by the way, announced Monday that he is retiring as the editor of Harper's some time next spring. Fortunately, he will continue to write for the magazine.


There is a really good article today at Bloomberg.com which states the reasions why we can't afford post-Katrina and other costs.

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