Never Again, My A$$

| 11 Nov 2014 | 02:11


      LAST WEEK, I watched MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough interview George Bush’s former Chief of Staff, Andrew Card, about the impact of the president’s unpopularity on the current election. For most of the conversation, Card defended his former boss until he was asked if it was Hurricane Katrina that marked the moment when the majority of Americans lost faith in Bush’s leadership.

    In a moment of honesty, Andy confirmed that notion and then personally accepted the blame for the government’s response to the worst natural disaster in our nation’s history. You wanna know Scarborough’s response? Some lame joke about how he’d rather blame Andy, a Massachusetts native, for the Red Sox not making it to the World Series.

    Good Lord! Here we have one of the most powerful men in government at the time Katrina hit willing to take responsibility for the administration’s failure to act, and the only thing Scarborough can do is compare the loss of 1,800 American lives to the dashed expectations of Ben Affleck and all his chowdah-eating cousins?  

    What’s worse is that Scarborough’s lack of regard for the situation down in the Gulf Coast region—which has been hit by about a thousand hurricanes in the past five years— is a sentiment reflected in the lack of progress in rebuilding the region. Three years post- Katrina and upgrades to the levee-system won’t be completed until 2011; only about half of the funds allocated to Louisiana for reconstruction work have been delivered; and recently 70 percent of area residents said they have seen little in the way of controlling crime or securing affordable housing.

    Now unlike Kanye, I’m not here to make white people feel any guiltier than they already do. I’m not even here to urge you to donate more money to charities assisting in the recovery effort. Nope, I’m here to deliver a message to President Obama that if he wants to make good on his campaign promise to rebuild the economy, then he better begin down in N’awlins.

    (Yep, I said it: President Obama. Sarah Palin might as well go ahead and apply for a job at the Neiman Marcus where she bought that new $150,000 wardrobe, cuz my boy Barack is about six days from opening a major

    can of electoral whoop-ass on John McCain.) So, now that we’ve dispensed with the political prognostication, let’s get down to business—literally.

    While I agree with the historical and cultural arguments for rebuilding New Orleans—hell, any city that inspired both A Streetcar Named Desire and the “Girls Gone Wild” series is a-OK by me—the economic reasons for doing so are all the more pressing. Seven of the top 10 busiest ports in the U.S. are found along the Gulf Coast, accounting for 20 percent of our overall global trade. Over 3,800 oil and natural gas platforms are in the region, with Louisiana accounting for nearly a quarter of the nation’s domestic supply of oil. Not only did Hurricane Katrina damage and/or destroy much of the infrastructure that supports these ports and platforms, many of the naturally occurring barrier islands and wetlands that would normally prevent future storm damage are no longer present. And let’s not forget that many companies have stopped insuring homeowners or raised premiums to prohibitive levels. If you can’t afford insurance on your home, then why stay and work those oil platforms? It’s probably a contributing factor to why a recent survey found that 22 percent of area residents are seriously considering leaving the region. And you thought energy prices were high in 2008. Now even though Bammers will have his hands ridiculously full from day one—two wars, record home foreclosures and ever-increasing unemployment—I firmly believe that an intensive, Cabinet-level focus on rebuilding the Gulf States will directly address

    many of these challenges.

    First, these individual states must have access to a greater number of their National Guard troops to assist in evacuations when future hurricanes threaten. Reducing the number of units stationed in Iraq will accomplish this. Second, the wetlands and barrier islands along the coast should be restored and levee upgrades must be completed ahead of schedule (six years to build some damn walls…the Chinese must be laughing their socks off). Efforts like these will reduce insurance premiums and make it more financially feasible for people to build and own homes. Third, damaged ports, bridges, highways and power and gas lines must be rebuilt using the latest technology; doing so will not only create jobs and increase local tax bases but also reduce energy and transportation costs across the board.

    When Katrina hit, we as a nation said: “Never again.” Then Hurricanes Rita, Dolly, Gustav and Ike came along. Do we really think that Hurricanes Raekwon, Ol’ Dirty Bastard and the rest of the Wu-Tang Clan aren’t far behind? If we don’t repair the current environmental and infrastructural destruction the damage caused by future storms to our energy supply and global trade will be even costlier.

    So congratulations, Mr. President: You have your work cut out for you. But if after four years Joe Scarborough is able to highlight the thriving economy in New Orleans as a reason for your popularity, perhaps I’ll be able to offer you a similar congrats four years from now. C