STATE FARM'S HEAD ON A PLATTER
What Gulf Coast Congressman Gene Taylor wanted the Easter Bunny to bring him.
South Mississippi Living 4/07

Monday, October 29, 2007

Perverted Priorities: Fires, Fema, Fake News

by Ana Maria

“Tell me where you spend your money,
and I’ll tell you where your priorities are.”
Throughout my growing up years here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, my mother would often mention one or another variation of that saying. Sometimes she would end it with “and I’ll tell you where your heart is.” For Bush’s FEMA, their priorities remain in making Bush look good with self-created PR pretending to be reporters posing those big softie questions. FEMA is not in actually doing the excellent job that the agency should be doing, just posing and pretending.

For example, Bush’s Chertoff pretended to scold his own agency with his spokeswoman stating "Stunts such as this will not be tolerated or repeated."

Ever since Bush and Cheney cheated their way into the White House and deceived the American people—including our congressional officials into a war of choice, the Bushies modus operandi has been betrayal, deceit, and abandonment. So the FEMA stunt is part and parcel of the Administration’s ongoing way of operating our government.

While the people at FEMA should have lost their job for deliberately deceiving the American people with a fake news conference, no one has. To be sure, Bush’s man Chertoff faked his admonition that such a “stunt” would not be “tolerated.” What a joke. And I’m not laughing.

The other joke at which I’m not laughing is comparing FEMA’s response to the California wildfires to its response to Hurricane Katrina’s devastation throughout the Mississippi-Alabama Gulf Coast region and the breaching of the US Corps of Engineers levees in New Orleans. The comparison needs a bit of evening up before we jump to happy conclusions.

Now, let’s forget about the fact that the fires raging were well publicized in California while no one saw coming the breaching of the New Orleans levees.

Oh, wait. The night before New Orleans flooded, the White House had seen photos of the levees being breached and deliberately failed to inform the Louisiana state authorities of this important factor.
“FEMA knew at eleven o’clock on Monday that the levees had breached, at 2 o’clock they flew over the 17th St. Canal and took video of the breaches, by midnight on Monday the White House knew, but none of us knew.”

Ivor Van Heerden, Deputy Director of Louisiana State University’s Hurricane Center
Ooops.

Still, the residents themselves—as well as the local officials—didn’t see the levees breaching, and the prep time for the emergency shelters were zilch.

Let’s forget about the fact that folks in California drove and parked to their shelters while New Orleans folks walked to the Superdome with their children, babies, and grandparents in tow.

Let’s forget about the fact that there were no massages, yoga classes, or ventriloquists inside the New Orleans Superdome.
Free newspapers were available, National Guard troops kept watch, ventriloquists and balloon artists entertained kids, and even massage therapists were trying to help the 12,000 to 15,000 evacuees relax as they fretted about the fate of their homes.
The relative comfort of the California evacuees is well recorded, and here is one such video capturing it.

This is where the generosity of the comparison ends. Let's incorporate some of the conditions from the Superdome days.

The floodwaters surrounded the Superdome making escape impossible. So, let’s put provide the same conditions for my fellow Americans in Southern California who have had the horrendous tragedy of being evacuated from their homes not knowing what condition they may find upon return and let’s put the fires immediately outside of the Qualcom Stadium. Escape from the stadium, just as with the Superdome, is impossible.

After all, it isn’t as if we have flood and hurricane fighters flying overhead pouring chemicals on the floodwaters and the hurricane force winds that will stop the devastation.

Next, the food and water inside Qualcom Stadium runs out just as it had in New Orleans both inside and out of the Superdome Stadium.

Let’s add another factor. No communication between and among public officials. No telephone lines, no Internet access. Remember, the Bush Administration has yet to create national emergency communication system. Too busy trying to war with the countries strategic for the untapped oil and gas reserves in the Baltics for such essential homeland security items here at home, imho.

Next, we have to have the fires surround the stadium just as the flood waters surrounded the Superdome.

With no food or water in the California stadium, hunger pains retch the stomachs of the evacuees and those of their kids. The evacuees are surrounded by thousands of others who are also hungry and thirsty. They know—not just wonder, but know—that everything that they owned, their entire communities, their livelihoods, their homes were going up in smoke.

Now, tell me, would the people inside Qualcom Stadium be reading newspapers, getting massages, doing yoga, and talking with reporters? Or would they be going crazy with fear and desperation like we witnessed inside the Superdome?

Ahhh, the view becomes more clear. You see, without the same critical circumstances of Katrina disaster, comparing the two reactions is erroneous. Though it does serve the White House in another rendition of government by pretension.

Now, what comes to my mind is the movie Trading Places with Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd. For the purpose of this little exercise, Akroyd’s character represents Southern Californians. The movie analogy is so appropriate.

Louis Winthorpe, III, Akryod’s character, is stripped of his social standing and financial success. In the movie, Winthorpe ends up living in horrendous conditions, acting in ways that he would never have thought possible for him from his previous socio-economic position.

Were the victims in the Qualcom stadium subjected to the same circumstances—and I wouldn’t wish those circumstances on anyone . . . other than, perhaps, the Bush Administration and their accomplices in FEMA and counterparts in Congress and the Senate—then to what extent would we witness them reacting just as the Americans in the New Orleans Superdome had?

What I expect to be similar is for the insurance industry to figure out a way to scam California home and business owners out of paying off in full on their policies. What I expect to be similar is for home and business owners to sue the hell out of their carriers to get—perhaps years down the road—the check that should be provided within days of the devastation.

In August, Bloomberg News already exposed the ravages of insurers in Southern California in its August expose: Home Insurers' Secret Tactics Cheat Fire Victims, Hike Profits.

On average, those of us inside of Katrina’s wake may not have the financial resources or the educational level as the average person in Southern California possesses. What we do have, however, is a sophisticated view of the insurance industry and its deceptive tactics to keep our premiums in its coffers at our expense, which is an industry-wide priority.

We understand that Big Insurance priorities are not those of the policyholders. We understand that Big Insurance is its own racket which the federal government does not regulate in the least.

From our painful experiences, we understand that Big Insurance will screw over the powerful like a U.S. Congressman (as in Gene Taylor) or Senator (as in Trent Lott) as quickly as it will screw over its average policyholders be they high or low income, white or black or Asian, Republican or Democrat. We're pretty sophisticated and gladly share our experience so that others will benefit from our own tragedies.

Since there continues to be no federal regulation of the insurance industry, we could eventually hear of companies again ripping off California home and business owners just as they have in the past and just as they did to Katrina survivors. [Read the Bloomberg article.]

You see, the only priority of the insurance companies is to increase their profits, pad the bonuses of its board of directors, and inflate the income of its CEOs. that they do so with great deceit to its policyholders, its customers, is of no consequence. They sell us on financial security their products allegedly provide. Hhowever, when we need our insurance policies to pay off, the companies often only concern themselves with their own financial security. In that regard, Big Insurance has its own priorities, however pathetic and perverse they may be.

Rest assured, though, the good people inside this Katrina-ravaged region will be empathetic to the plight of those families and business owners in Southern California whose lives the insurance companies may very well end up ruining. Our hearts are filled with empathy. Unlike Big Insurance, we have our priorities straight.


© 2007 Ana Maria Rosato. All rights reserved.
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2 comments:

KingMaker said...

AM

It's obvious that you are far more intelligent than me. Would you please point me to the section of the Constitution that says that the Federal Government is responsible for providing citizens with housing? I know I must have missed it somewhere.

Thanks

KM

Ana Maria said...

You have been doing way too many drugs. Get clean and sober and your perception of reality will dramatically improve.