24 March 2006

Mike Davis: Who Is Killing New Orleans?

Mike Davis, author of the excellent CITY OF QUARTZ: EXCAVATING THE FUTURE OF LOS ANGELES, has this piece in the latest edition of THE NATION entitled "Who is Killing New Orleans?" Like most things Davis writes it doesn't exactly paint the current situation in the most optimistic light, but I'd say he pretty much speaks the truth and tells it how it is . . . . Check out the full article.

Some worthwhile excerpts:

  • Republicans also rebelled against aid for a state that was depicted as a venal Third World society, a failed state like Haiti, out of step with national values. "Louisiana and New Orleans," according to Idaho Senator Larry Craig, "are the most corrupt governments in our country and they always have been.... Fraud is in the culture of Iraqis. I believe that is true in the state of Louisiana as well."

  • The paramount beneficiaries of Katrina relief aid have been the giant engineering firms KBR (a Halliburton subsidiary) and the Shaw Group, which enjoy the services of lobbyist Joe Allbaugh (a former FEMA director and Bush's 2000 campaign manager). FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers, while unable to explain to Governor Blanco last fall exactly how they were spending money in Louisiana, have tolerated levels of profiteering that would raise eyebrows even on the war-torn Euphrates.

  • Congress ultimately voted to provide $29 billion for Gulf Coast relief. Yet as the Washington Post reported, "All but $6 billion of the measure merely reshuffled some of the $62 billion in previously approved Hurricane Katrina aid. The rest was funded by a 1 percent across-the-board cut of non-emergency, discretionary programs." The Pentagon won approval for a whopping $4.4 billion in base repairs and other professed Katrina-related needs, but Congress cut out the $250 million allocated to combat coastal erosion. Meanwhile, Mississippi's powerful Republican troika--Governor Haley Barbour and Senators Trent Lott and Thad Cochran--persuaded fellow Republicans to support $6.2 billion in discretionary housing aid for Louisiana and $5.3 billion for Mississippi, with red-state Mississippi getting five times as much aid per distressed household as pink-state Louisiana.

  • Even before the last bloated body had been fished out of the fetid waters, conservative political analysts were writing gleeful obituaries for black Democratic power in Louisiana. "The Democrats' margin of victory," said Ronald Utt of the Heritage Foundation, is "living in the Astrodome in Houston." Thanks to the Army Corps's defective levees, the Republicans stand to gain another Senate seat, two Congressional seats and probably the governorship.

  • New Orleans has always vied with Detroit when it comes to the violent antipathy of white-flight suburbs toward its black central city, so it is not surprising that representatives from Jefferson Parish (which elected Klan leader David Duke to the state legislature in 1989) and St. Tammany Parish have particularly relished the post-Katrina shift in metropolitan population and electoral power. Both parishes are in the midst of housing booms that may consolidate the hollowing out and decline of New Orleans.


At March 24, 2006 3:59 PM, Blogger Mr. Clio said...

Gee, thanks for such an upbeat start to my weekend, Mr. Fair.

Seriously, though, this must all be said and repeated. Thanks for posting.

At March 24, 2006 4:33 PM, Blogger Seymour D. Fair said...

Just like you just trying to spread the word, start a revolution, etc . . . .

At March 24, 2006 9:58 PM, Blogger lsual said...

Hey now...don't forget SHAW's President was HEAD of the LA. Democratic Party prior to Katrina. He resigned the position after the contracts were awarded 'cause things smelled a little fishy.

..and hey you can rejoice... KBR (kellog,brown,and root) is being sold by Halliburton because it's a money loser...

At March 25, 2006 10:00 AM, Blogger Hollis P. Wood said...

I read most of it. The one thing that stuck out to me the most was the word "levee". Was it even mentioned in the piece? How can you write about what happened here and leave out one of the most important parts?

It seemed to me alot of the information in the piece was either taken out of context or leftout important facts that would change the whole thing.

At March 25, 2006 1:59 PM, Blogger Marco said...

The Fats Domino factor is a key.
NO BULLDOZING. I didn't know that ACORN was based in NO. I linked to the same article. Keep on' NO!

At March 28, 2006 2:12 PM, Blogger Roux said...

Al is right. I have a love/hate relationship with New Orleans. I spent so much time as a kid there and still love to visit but I can't stand the corruption.


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