hiding the devastation to score political points ...
We keep hearing from the Republican excuse makers that the problems in New Orleans are the fault of its Mayor, and of Louisiana's Governor. So how are things in their state, the one with a former GOP party chairman as Governor and two greasy insiders as Senators? Hint: not so great. But the Republican strategy of suppressing information has been more successful there in restricting information from getting to the public.
The information we do have paints the picture of a state out of touch with the situation on the ground, vulnerable elderly left alone in their own feces to be robbed and terrified, and a toxic waste situation so badly neglected that entire areas have become "haz-mat" zones. People there are suffering, too, but their misfortune is being downplayed for political reasons. A media fascinated with the photogenic misery of New Orleans has unwittingly played into their hands.
Take, for example, this report filed yesterday from Jackson, Miss:
Stymied by washed out roads and tons of debris, the effort to accurately catalogue Mississippi's dead after Hurricane Katrina is struggling to keep up with the decaying effect of 90-degree heat.
Even when cadaver dogs pick up a scent, workers say they frequently can't get at the bodies without heavy equipment. That's leading to death estimates ranging from fewer than 200 to more than 1,000.
"The state doesn't know the answer," said Lea Stokes, a spokeswoman for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. "I know people don't want to hear that, but we just don't know."
Or the horror in Bay St. Louis:
Consider Bay High School in Bay St. Louis, Miss. It was an unofficial shelter turned cesspool, the sight of which Gary Turner, Trudy Roberts and Felix Ruiz said should be considered a crime.
The three strangers became a rescue team of sorts when they fled to the high school themselves and found people in their 70s, 80s and 90s wallowing in their own waste on the auditorium floors. They had been brought to the school and aban doned, most unable to move without help.
"Rats wouldn't even go in there," said Turner, of Bay St. Louis.
A 90-year-old woman named Mildred told Turner that she wanted to die, but he wouldn't let her. He helped her to a potty chair that someone carried in, then slowly moved her outside.
"Someone just dumped them there," he said angrily. "Most of them needed to be in the hospital."
At night, as the older people tried to sleep, they became prey. The younger, the stronger and the ruthless came two nights in a row, stealing their money and medications.
"People have no respect for the elderly," Turner said. "They need to get a better plan. You can't put people in here who are on oxygen, who can't walk, who can't take care of themselves."
Ruiz says he went to a nearby hospital for help but found none. Then he went to the National Guard. Finally, on Friday night, someone took the older people to what he hopes was a cleaner, safer place.
The portable toilets arrived then, too -- far too late.
A survivor from Clarion sought charity for his town:
“These people have nothing, it’s gone,” said Taylor of the people he grew up with. “They need cash for supplies, water, and food, anything you can imagine.”
Horse rescuers struggled with nonexistent infrastructure and standing toxins:
“It’s devastation like I’ve never seen,” (a rescuer) said. “It’s beyond words. We are winding up with thousands and thousands of dead animals. Dogs, cats, everything ...
“I could stay down here for the next three months. The infrastructure is that far gone ... “Part of other thing we’ve got to be concerned about is that this is a haz-mat (hazardous materials) area” ... The toxic water, decaying animals, and other wastes make it hazardous for rescuers to work in the storm area.
The Republicans don't hide the fact that they're playing a patronage game with emergency resources. In fact, they make a show of it:
After touring the flattened Gulf Coast with lawmakers from the region, President Bush made it clear that Mississippi’s senior pols have his ear.
“Trent was telling me that we’ve got to get that port of Pascagoula open so we can get ships of foreign crude oil to the refinery,” Bush told reporters.
But with this crowd, crass doesn't necessary mean competent. It's a mess in Mississippi, and they're trying to hide it from the world. Don't let them. And the next time a GOP Ghoul spins the line that the problems in Lousiana are the fault of the local officials there, ask him: What about Mississippi?