The TV crews are gone. The politicians have gone home. The news cycle has turned. Yet, the unreality continues, made worse by the fact that the unreality is so real.
Any American touched by New Orleans prior to the failure of the Army Corps of Engineers and the subsequent flood, and who has re-visited or even keeps in touch with things there, knows how bad things are.
There's an old Meters' song, "Talkin' 'Bout New Orleans," that says, "If you've ever been there, then you know what I mean." It meant the good things. It even meant the bad things. It meant the things about New Orleans that made it unique on the planet.
Now, if you have visited New Orleans since the flood, you have another sense of that song.
And by the way, let's stop calling the disaster "Katrina." It's short and convenient, but let's get it right. Call it the flood. A man-made flood caused by incompetence and greed. It wasn't a hurricane that drowned a city, it was a flood caused by massive, criminal incompetence.
But that's not what this is about.
This is about the emotions those of us who have a New Orleans connection are feeling. The emotions that come through the psychic air 3500 miles away here in Portland, Oregon...the despair, the anger, the sense of living in a daily nightmare that just won't seem to go away. The sense of loss. Loss and abandonment. Is anyone surprised that the suicide rate in New Orleans has tripled in the past year?
Can you feel it?
How dare Bush show his face? The shame of the conditions in New Orleans is on him. It should eat him alive at night...that and the tens of thousands of dead and maimed Americans and Iraqis from his own personal boutique war.
I was at Jazzfest in May, and as I wrote here at the time, the anger and despair of the people of New Orleans ran as deep as the Mississippi. Lately these feelings have been given more exposure, but if Bush had a single testicle, he would have faced some real people and took the heat. Taking heat is not in his job description. Taking heat is part of taking responsibility, he doesn't do that.
Thankfully, his allies are deserting him. If we are able to swing the House of Representatives in the fall, he will stand with his administration and have to answer for what he's done. I would prefer that he move into the cell formerly occupied by Milosovic and be tried before the world, but that's not going to happen.
The anger and despair of the people of New Orleans (at home and also those who are part of the tragic diaspora) and their sense of unreality is the legacy of American greed and bumbling.
I can feel it. Maybe you can too.
The power must be taken away from the Republicans. Congress must be taken back, and these jackals and their servants must be swept out of the Executive Branch, from top to bottom.
Feel like you want to do something for the people of New Orleans other than sending money their way? Do something to change the balance of power.
The next sixty days are crucial. Don't let it slip through your fingers again.