What Gulf Coast Congressman Gene Taylor wanted the Easter Bunny to bring him.
South Mississippi Living 4/07

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Are Progressives and Tancredo Singing from Similar Song Sheet?

by Ana Maria

Over the course of the 18 months or so after Katrina, I just couldn’t really understand what was taking so damned long for my family and friends to get it together. Good God already. Deal with the insurance companies. Play rough. Keep calling FEMA. Geeze, Louise!

It’s a hurricane like we’ve been through many times before. Heck, if we can survive Camille, I mean, goodness gracious alive.

Of course, I thought this from the comfort of my very lovely apartment in the heart of Silicon Valley. I thought this as I spoke to my family from my cell phone as I lay in the sun by one of the three sparkling pools in my complex. I reflected on this as I drank a Starbucks frappuccino in the middle of a relaxing 3-mile walk around my neat, orderly, well-maintained community in North San Jose.

Then in March of this year, I arrived in the heart of Katrina Land, ground zero for Katrina itself. My utter ignorance became apparent immediately. I’m days away from the six-month mark being here helping to put back together my elderly mother’s home. I’ve chronicled that journey on my blog A.M. in the Morning! which began as an outlet for my frustrations with the conditions with which my family members and friends here in Mississippi and throughout the New Orleans area must deal. It’s also a way to channel much needed political energy into helping get the resources we need to complete the job we desire AND to prevent our horrors from befalling other American families and businesses.

Friends outside of Katrina Land encouraged me to write what I was experiencing, witnessing, concluding. They told me that the MSM just doesn’t convey these critical pieces of information, and Americans care when we are shown a need. However, the drumming of “Katrina fatigue” beats on. Enter Tancredo.

Last week, Republican Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo grabbed the headlines with his “Enough is enough” declaration regarding federal aid in the Katrina-ravaged region. He is oblivious to or couldn’t care less about the reasons that this American region still suffers tremendously and in many directions and that the federal recovery efforts to date have been insufficient to put us back to our knees.

At the 2nd anniversary commemoration last week, Waveland Mayor Tommy Longo stated succinctly that we don’t want a hand out, just a hand up to get to our knees and that we can get to our feet from there. From New Orleans clear through the Mississippi Gulf Coast and over to Bayou LeBatre Alabama, we’re still not yet to our knees. I guess that’s a great place to be for people like Tancredo who choose to kick us in the teeth. I expect as much from people like Tancredo to turn their backs on their fellow Americans. Tancredo is a compassionless conservative.

In a rather disconcerting way, though, a comment on one of my posts on Daily Kos the other day forced me to look at what has been nagging at me for a while.

And it steams me that, once again, a post about Katrina and the misery the people of the Gulf Coast are enduring right now, sinks to the bottom so quickly.

Ho hum. It's just another post about Katrina. No need to reply. It's so -- Yesterday-- isn't it?
Is this poster accurate? Are progressives singing from a similar song sheet as Tancredo?

An excerpt of the mainstream media’s article on Tancredo received 254 comments. No analysis. No rebuttal. No discussion of real life in today’s Katrina region. No means through which to channel the political outrage that his comment created.

Primarily the entry excerpted Tancredo’s latest stupidity. Bam! Plenty of interaction.

OK it’s a posting from Kos himself, but still, I do believe that there is something missing. An article about yet another Republican bafoon garners hundreds of responses in what appears as a knee-jerk reaction from my side of the fence, at least to me as a progressive who is now deeply inside of Katrina reality. Other posts about real post-Katrina life and positive political action to take to remedy the situation . . . “sinks to the bottom so quickly”.

I just wonder. Katrina embodies every aspect of what is wrong with the Bush Administration and everything that is wonderful about the American people. When disaster hits, we’re generous with our time and money. We are doers and want to solve problems.

Bush leaves it up to the charity of our people to take care of completely heretofore government responsibilities such as emergency response and infrastructure. Bush creates disaster (i.e. Iraq) and is generous with our tax money to fund it and the time and lives of our soldiers who would rather be home with their families and friends. o on and so forth.

Again, I wonder about that one comment on my posting.

As progressives, are we only into the façade of political engagement particularly if its anti-something and we can demonstrate quickly our latest verbal prowess channeling our immense frustration into an arena that will bear no real political fruit from which we can eat nor any real political consequence to the object of our distain?

Maybe I’m just a bit weary. I’ve only been here in the heart of Katrina Land just a hair under six months, and I’m feeling the weight of it. My three brothers have put in gobs more months and time and effort than I have. They jokingly welcome me to the real 'Katrina-fatigued' club.

Everything is simply labor and time intensive. Nerves are frayed. Convenience is a distant memory, and we’re among the lucky throughout the region. This is hard, and I didn't even go through the storm itself or the immediate aftermath of dealing with Dirt, Dead Bodies, and White House Dirt Bags.

I supposed that I’m definitely suffering from a momentary lapse into Katrina-fatigue— that overwhelming sense that this is just never going to end, that our recovery is merely a political punch line to be used by left and right alike without any regard to doing what needs doing.

When it comes to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, though, I do wonder whether we are as guilty as the next of looking only for the attention grabbing headlines through which to channel our great frustration with a thoroughly corrupt administration as well as our lack of political savvy to achieve the goals we desire or the persistence to achieve them over time. An immediate sense of gratification for having shown someone something—even if it is anyone but those that hold the levers of political power.

Today, many of the soldiers in Iraq come from the Katrina-ravaged region: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama. We care greatly about ending the war, so perhaps we can take care of these soldiers and their families inside the Katrina region while also seeking ways to create the big political momentum needed to end the catastrophe that is Bush’s Iraq.

Personally, I cannot imagine how it must feel for these soldiers who are being sent to work day and night to rebuild a country that Bush destroyed all the while Bush’s insurance buddies are allowed to destroy the financial security of the families of these very same soldiers?!

When we talk of insurance companies deliberately not paying on the WIND policies, we’re also talking about men and women in Iraq whose homes were destroyed here in the Gulf Coast Katrina Region and whose insurance companies are not paying up on the wind-related damages. Perhaps we can contact our elected officials to support the proposal that will help Americans—including soldiers in Iraq—purchase wind and flood coverage in ONE policy and avoid the great rip off that the insurance industry has engaged in.

Clearly the Tancredos of the world are using Katrina as a punch line to grab media attention. Progressives can throw out that song sheet and sing a different tune to help everyone—including our beloved soldiers in Iraq—by helping to spur economic recovery down here through helping every family and business purchase a single and affordable policy for both wind and flood coverage. This will help revive the American Dream for the Katrina region. When it comes to helping our soldiers who live here, this becomes a rather delightfully patriotic act, too. Progressively patriotic.

Now that's a tune worth singing.

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1 comment:

Rev Cindi said...

Well said. My partner and I lost our home in BSL and have had to relocate to Alabama. No choice. The insurance we were so willing to pay wasn't willing to help us. No way FEMA was enough and we had to appeal five times to get any help from them. It's just been horrible. My heart goes out to the folks in BSL/WV, Pearlington, etc. So much lost. So many lives totally destroyed. All the while Bush pats his cronies on the back. Bush gives contracts by nepotism. And the people perish. It just isn't right.

Keep speaking out. Goddess help us!