From Heather Stern
16:58 < klasikahl> they're under martial law to
16:58 < klasikahl> too
[Sluggo] Grr, irresponsible comment like "parking nazis" (=parking enforcement police). I haven't heard any reports of constitutions being suspended, generals declaring themselves dictator, legislators overstaying their term limit, or freedoms being curtailed.
[Ben] Just a counterpoint: FEMA has suspended rescue operations in NOLA today, because it's "dangerous".
[Sluggo] Yes, and the mayor of N'Orleans ordered everyone out of the city this morning, if I heard the radio report right. Funny he should do that the day after I said the evacuation wasn't "mandatory".
[Ben] Um... "ordered out of the city". These are the people who couldn't get out when a hurricane was coming to kill them; they will surely leave now that the mayor told them to.
[Ben] To give them full credit, the media has been building up to this, with pictures of "looters" breaking into stores (can someone explain "looting" to me? In a city with NO food, NO water, NO useable plumbing, and when your child is screaming hysterically in grief for the parent who got washed away, fear of what's happening, hunger, thirst, and perhaps from being filthy due to lack of diapers and being surrounded by a lake of toxic waste? Use short words, please; anything like "political expediency" is going to sail right by me.)
[Sluggo] Er, I don't watch TV so I haven't seen the pictures. I've been realizing that gives me an incomplete picture of major events and makes them seem "less real", so occasionally I turn on the TV to see what it looks like. I'd do it more but I absolutely cannot stand TV news with its hype and commercials, and its emphasis on trivial stories. If I knew what time the good content was on I'd watch it, but I'm not going to sit through entire newscasts just in case there's one good item during the half hour.
(I did turn on the TV for the London bombings. Since it was happening right then I knew there would probably be a TV story on it that moment. I was also able to identify with it in a way I couldn't with Spain, since I'd been in that location.)
I assumed "looting" meant stealing electronics and jewelery and other high-value items, not food and diapers. God forbid they prosecute anybody for taking food from an abandoned house or grocery store. But no, I haven't heard any elaboration on what is being "looted". And yes, one wonders how valuable a waterlogged computer is, especially if it's been covered by toxic waste.
[Jay] Looting is grabbing computers, television sets, and shopping carts with 40 pairs of sneakers, Ben.
[Ben] Ya figure, Jay? People are really going to be concerned with waterlogged sneakers and TVs when there's no water or food?
[Jay] There's footage, yes.
[Jimmy] Um... in the event of a flood, if I was stuck I'd put a brick through the window of the nearest electrical shop and grab the biggest CRT TV I could find.
[Rick] And then we could all set down to building railroad bridges across Lake Pontchartrain!
(A worthwhile comment about the film version of the story was posted to IMDB's forums by user "gcaplan" at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050212/usercomments .)
[Jimmy] CRTs are pretty buoyant, moreso than most items you'll find in most high street shops.
Of course, I don't doubt that people are stealing non-essential items without any thought to practicalities. It has nothing to do with even wanting these things: my guess is it's about venting rage.
[Ben] There's a lot of that, for sure. There are dead people lying out in the open, right next to the NO Convention Center; the authorities have been promising evacuation buses for four days with damn near no action. There are over 40,000 people in the SuperDome and the Convention Center right now, and probably another 60-100,000 elsewhere, and they're dying in the heat and the filth. There just might be a bit of bottled up rage over that, I suppose...
[Ben] Rich people in NOLA mostly got out. The people with no cars, no money, and living close to the financial brink in the first place - i.e., the poor folks - mostly didn't. Now, they're "looters", and - well, they're all damn criminals. Why not let them starve and die? That's all they deserve, anydamn way. Besides, down there in New Orleans, they engage in sins of the flesh, and they ain't Baptists. Let'em all go to hell.
[Jay] I don't think anyone begrudges hungry people food.
[Jimmy] Sorry Jay, but at the moment I can't recall a more laughable statement.
[Jay] Do I think we'd begrudge people 12-year-old scotch? Well, maybe that's another matter...
[Ben] I agree that people who are just wrecking and stealing for the hell of it should be jailed, etc. How do we separate them from all the others who are breaking into the stores?
[Jay] It is, indeed, difficult. And the inability of the cops on the street to handle that decision is part of why it snowballed.
[Sluggo] Um, that may be stretching the facts with a marxist spin.
[Ben] What have I stretched so far, Mike? And "marxist spin" is the last damn thing *I'd* ever put on anything; I just believe that people dying due to thieves in the government is a criminal violation of the social pact that we live under.
[Sluggo] Most poor people in the US do have cars, especially in the South where there's not much other transportation. (I've even heard of Mexican farmworkers pooling their resources to buy a $500 clunker to get to a job in another city, knowing the car won't last more than one trip.)
[Ben] Have you ever been down to Louisiana, Mike? Come on down out of your smug white-bread Seattle neighborhood, and let me introduce you to the realities of life. That's one of the poorest areas of this country, and - just so you know - it's also the area that takes the most damage, annually, from "natural causes". And - ready for this? - it got no money to build or fix anything last year; the head of the Corps of Engineers had been bitching about it since forever.
[Sluggo] People have refused to leave for various reasons, and it's not clear the poor are doing this moreso than the rich. Some of them have multistory houses, indicating they're at least semi rich. Surely there must be a lot of homeless people and single parents without transportation, but whether they're the ones doing the looting is another question. Often they won't loot coz they know it's wrong or they're afraid to; it's the drug addicts and criminals who loot. In other words, the ones who least deserve the stuff.
[Ben] Mike... let me repeat this, so that perhaps you'll have another chance to hear it: NO POTABLE WATER. NO FOOD. NO SANITATION. NO STORES OPEN. NO SUPPLIES OF ANY KIND THAT CAN BE BOUGHT; NO BANKS WORKING TO GET MONEY FROM.
Are you getting the picture yet? "Looting drug addicts" is the picture sold to you by the media - I simply cannot believe that you can actually think about the issue and come out with the statement you've made.
[Jay] I don't believe anyone said that everyone taking things from abandoned retail stores was a looter.
But I've seen, first hand, news crews interviewing (and attempting to interview) people who were making off with things which pretty clearly were not survival nceessities.
[Ben] Jay, I've never said that NO is a city of lily-white, pure-simon innocents. These are people under incredible duress, in an emergency situation. Expecting them to act with absolute rectitude - defined by those who *aren't* there - is ridiculous.
[Ben] Imagine yourself trapped in there, perhaps with your relatives. Some of those who are close to you have died; the rest are bruised and battered, or at best just soaked in filthy water that's full of oil (remember, this is the "Energy Coast" here) and crap from under every sink in the city. There's no way to wash it off; there's no water in the tap, no electricity at the socket, no help at the telephone. You and yours _can't_ leave - some of you are hurt; some may be dying - and there's nobody to help.
What will you do? Obey that "mandatory evacuation order" and abandon your family? Tell me, Mike - what will you do?
Don't believe it's come to that?
Almost Official - The Trapped in NO Are Slowly Being Abandoned to Survive or Die http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/9/1/143439/6760
Yeah, dailyKos is a lefty blog - but this posting is not from him. I quote:
Fuck politics. I don't give a shit right now about the blame game if it detracts a nanosecond's energy from what this is supposed to be about: Saving people. Feeding, clothing and housing people. We can raise holy hell later - and MUST raise it later or we have failed.
[Ben] You know that bit in the Declaration of Independence, the "all men are created equal" and "unalienable Rights ... among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness"? These "unequal" folks aren't even getting a chance at life - much less anything else. Their money was stolen, and the services they were promised when they paid for them - remember the side of the social contract that the government is supposed to fulfill,
[Sluggo] You mean the side the US doesn't have, because it's incompatible with laissez-faire capitalism?
[Ben] Nothing to do with laissez-faire capitalism; it's just that without that contract, any government is no more than a group of thugs holding power by means of their guns. If that's your view of the government, I'd find it hard to disagree, right at the moment.
[Ben] in exchange for us feeding the worthless bastards? - have evaporated when they needed them.
Martial law was declared on Tuesday, which means that George W. Bush has declared himself to be the sole dictator over these poor half-dead souls, and their constitutional rights have been suspended. Their freedom to live has been curtailed.
[Jay] I have yet to find any authoritative source for that, there have been quite some number of official disclaimers on the topic. Do you have a citation?
[Ben] Science Daily http://www.sciencedaily.com/upi/?feed=TopNews&article=UPI-1-20050830-13071200-bc-us-katrina-la-2ndld.xml
National Post http://www.canada.com/national/nationalpost/news/story.html?id=9fef7da8-13e2-412c-b484-090b8082fa1c
NOLA.com has it as well.
[Jay] I know that lots of news sources have reported it as fact. Given the circumstances, though, I'm not sure it's reasonable to call those authoritative.
Oddly, since I usually consider WorldNetDaily a rightwing rag, I will call this authoritative:
They quote the Louisiana AG (at least by position), and certainly that official is in a position to make that particular statement authoritatively.
[Sluggo] Maybe this is correct and I haven't heard it yet, but I heard "state of emergency", not "martial law".
[Ben] See the links I provided in response to Jay's email.
[Sluggo] "State of emergency" seems to be an incantation to release money from various disaster budgets. Nor have I heard of Dubya taking personal control of the region, overstepping the governor.
This morning my friend sent me this, from an unknown news source. He commented, "Hospitals in Iraq are more secure than a hospital in New Orleans."
Looting spiraled so out of control that Nagin ordered virtually the entire police force to abandon search-and-rescue efforts and focus on the brazen packs of thieves who have turned increasingly hostile.
Late Wednesday, Tenet Healthcare Corp. asked Louisiana State Police and the U.S. Coast Guard to help evacuate one of its hospitals in Gretna after a supply truck carrying food, water, medical supplies and pharmaceuticals was held up by gunmen. (Related story: Looting rampant)
"We have to close it down because we can no longer ensure the safety of our patients or our staff in that hospital," Tenet spokesman Steven Campanini said of the 203-bed Meadowcrest Hospital.
He said there were about 350 employees and between 125 to 150 patients inside the hospital, which is not flooded and is functioning.
[Sluggo] Even mandatory evacuations aren't really "mandatory"; if you refuse to go they just ask your name and next of kin and that's it, like wassisname who died when Mt St Helens blew up.
In 1999 at the WTO demonstrations there was a curfew downtown at night with national guard troops around the permieter. I suppose that's "martial law" by some definitions. People made a big fuss that this was "unconstitutional". Maybe I'd have been mad too if I lived inside the zone and couldn't leave my apartment. But really, what else are the authorities supposed to do? There was already looting and destruction, and they didn't know how much worse it would be. And it's only a few days anyway, not the rest of your life. Sometimes they overreact (like banning tweezers on airplanes), but they don't have a God's-eye-view on what to do, they do the best they can. And we're all on the same side anyway, right?
Abusing emergency situations to force down legislation you've wanted for years is another matter entirely. Cough Patriot act, cough Saddam, cough cough. Or presenting new laws as a major breakthrough when they actually do nothing. Cough national energy non-policy, cough prescription drug non-benefit for seniors, etc. The latter is remarkably Orwellian.