THE 300th POST: According to Blogger, this is my 300th post on this site. Along with that momentous occasion, I can also finally announce that my next book will be out in 2006. MetroMania Press will publish What Remains as a limited-edition, signed and numbered chapbook in April, with a launch it at the Austin International Poetry Festival. I met MMP publisher Tanya Keyser at this year's AIPF and fell in love with the elegant chapbooks she had designed for herself and her sister, Kitty. Tanya is now ready to branch out and add other authors, and I'm thrilled to be one of them. I'll have more details soon, and I plan to launch another tour in 2006 to promote the book. I'll also continue to look for a publisher for my next full collection and for the novel, Conquering Venus. I'll be turning 36 (gulp!) in a couple of weeks, but while I'm moving closer to middle age, I'm also in possibly the most fertile creative period of my life. Thanks to everyone who has supported me and helped make my dreams come true.

New Orleans native and fellow poet Robin Kemp continues to do truly selfless work to bring information to those looking for news and information about what's happening in the Hurricane Katrina-ravaged city. She has created a new blog to help poets from the Gulf Coast reconnect with friends and family at Hurricane Poets Check-In. Robin is also encouraging poets all over the country to organize readings to help victims. I'm already in touch with some folks here about doing something, so stay tuned.

All week long I've blogged about New Orleans, which I consider one of my creative, spiritual homes. I love this city so much, and today I came home from a wonderful, rejuvenating workshop with Cecilia Woloch and others to find this headline in the Times-Picayune: NEW ORLEANS LEFT TO THE DEAD, DYING. The response by Dubya and our pathetic government is an international disgrace. I wanted to crawl through the TV the other night when the clueless FEMA director Michael Brown said he knew nothing about the thousands starving and dying at the city's convention center (see the photo above...taken by Eric Gay with AP). He denied knowing there were people in trouble at the center, despite days of coverage from every network, including the Conservative right's mouthpiece, Fox News. Even little Katie Couric cut Brown a new asshole. He needs to be fired...immediately. If there's anyway to bring him up on charges, do that, too. Even worse, when my pal Rupert was checking out the FEMA website, he discovered that Pat "Assassinator for Jesus" Robertson and his so-called charity are one of FEMA's approved organizations. Please, PLEASE, if you are going to donate money, go directly to the Red Cross at www.redcross.org. They've had people on the ground since the hurricane and were helping long before the government arrived.

Dubya's smirking, glad-handing, back-slapping tour of the Gulf Coast made me hate him even more...which I didn't think was possible. He stood there in the middle of the devastation, supporting FEMA and all his cronies. We are approaching a week since Katrina and there are still evacuees dying in New Orleans, there are still looters on the street, fires are burning all over the city. Help might be arriving, but there needs to be more. What part of "more help" does Dubya not understand. Maureen Dowd's column in the New York Times hit it right on the head:

United States of Shame

By Maureen Dowd

Stuff happens.

And when you combine limited government with incompetent government, lethal stuff happens. America is once more plunged into a snake pit of anarchy, death, looting, raping, marauding thugs, suffering innocents, a shattered infrastructure, a gutted police force, insufficient troop levels and criminally negligent government planning. But this time it's happening in America.

W. drove his budget-cutting Chevy to the levee, and it wasn't dry. Bye, bye, American lives. "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees," he told Diane Sawyer.

Shirt-sleeves rolled up, W. finally landed in Hell yesterday and chuckled about his wild boozing days in "the great city" of N'Awlins. He was clearly moved. "You know, I'm going to fly out of here in a minute," he said on the runway at the New Orleans International Airport, "but I want you to know that I'm not going to forget what I've seen." Out of the cameras' range, and avoided by W., was a convoy of thousands of sick and dying people, some sprawled on the floor or dumped on baggage carousels at a makeshift M*A*S*H unit inside the terminal.

Why does this self-styled "can do" president always lapse into such lame "who could have known?" excuses.

Who on earth could have known that Osama bin Laden wanted to attack us by flying planes into buildings? Any official who bothered to read the trellis of pre-9/11 intelligence briefs. Who on earth could have known that an American invasion of Iraq would spawn a brutal insurgency, terrorist recruiting boom and possible civil war? Any official who bothered to read the C.I.A.'s prewar reports.

Who on earth could have known that New Orleans's sinking levees were at risk from a strong hurricane? Anybody who bothered to read the endless warnings over the years about the Big Easy's uneasy fishbowl.

In June 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, fretted to The Times-Picayune in New Orleans: "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us."

Not only was the money depleted by the Bush folly in Iraq; 30 percent of the National Guard and about half its equipment are in Iraq.

Ron Fournier of The Associated Press reported that the Army Corps of Engineers asked for $105 million for hurricane and flood programs in New Orleans last year. The White House carved it to about $40 million. But President Bush and Congress agreed to a $286.4 billion pork-filled highway bill with 6,000 pet projects, including a $231 million bridge for a small, uninhabited Alaskan island.

Just last year, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials practiced how they would respond to a fake hurricane that caused floods and stranded New Orleans residents. Imagine the feeble FEMA's response to Katrina if they had not prepared.

Michael Brown, the blithering idiot in charge of FEMA - a job he trained for by running something called the International Arabian Horse Association - admitted he didn't know until Thursday that there were 15,000 desperate, dehydrated, hungry, angry, dying victims of Katrina in the New Orleans Convention Center.

Was he sacked instantly? No, our tone-deaf president hailed him in Mobile, Ala., yesterday: "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." It would be one thing if President Bush and his inner circle - Dick Cheney was vacationing in Wyoming; Condi Rice was shoe shopping at Ferragamo's on Fifth Avenue and attended "Spamalot" before bloggers chased her back to Washington; and Andy Card was off in Maine - lacked empathy but could get the job done. But it is a chilling lack of empathy combined with a stunning lack of efficiency that could make this administration implode.

When the president and vice president rashly shook off our allies and our respect for international law to pursue a war built on lies, when they sanctioned torture, they shook the faith of the world in American ideals.

When they were deaf for so long to the horrific misery and cries for help of the victims in New Orleans - most of them poor and black, like those stuck at the back of the evacuation line yesterday while 700 guests and employees of the Hyatt Hotel were bused out first - they shook the faith of all Americans in American ideals. And made us ashamed.

Who are we if we can't take care of our own?

Comments

Anonymous said…
2001 = WTC

2005 = WTF
TS said…
Nice Blog!!!   I thought I'd tell you about a site that will let give you places where
you can make extra cash! I made over $800 last month. Not bad for not doing much. Just put in your
zip code and up will pop up a list of places that are available. I live in a small area and found quite
a few. MAKE MONEY NOW

Popular Posts