Tonight, I finished watching Spike Lee's documentary on the aftermath and response to hurricane Katrina.
I'm sickened and appalled.
When you live in a country as rich and diverse as the United States -- where you can be anything and buy anything you desire -- there is no reason to ever go six months without proper housing after a disaster. There is no reason to ever go six months as an unfound corpse on your own kitchen floor. There is no reason to go even a single day without food or water when your government is able to spend billions of dollars a day on a war in a foreign country.
Forget the reasons for the war and whether or not we should even be there. The fact remains, this country is spending vast amounts of money to fight a war in a foreign country EVERY SINGLE DAY and the citizens of Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf Coast are taking it up the ass.
There were two things which really hit hard while I was watching the 2nd part of this documentary:
The first was the revelation that offshore drilling off the coast of Louisiana accounts for the lion's share of this nation's oil supply. It also accounts for 40% of this nation's natural gas supply. Fuck the prices at the pumps - have you seen a natural gas bill lately? I closed my business due in part to the fact that I had two natural gas heat pumps and I was paying nearly $700 a month to heat my studio.
The winter after I left, the new tenants got a bill for over $2500. FOR ONE FUCKING MONTH.
So - somebody, somewhere is making a WHOLE LOT OF FUCKING MONEY.
But not the people of Louisiana. The fellow on my TV tonight said that because these companies drill just past the three-mile line off the coast, they pay $0 to Louisiana. They pay no royalties, no drilling fees, no public use fees, no taxes. Fucking nothing. A royalty does go to the Federal Government - who then uses the money to bomb foreign countries.
In addition to this, there was a recent vote before congress to WAIVE THE ROYALTIES OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS that these companies would have to pay the government. The gist of the bill was that it would "encourage exploration and developing new places to drill."
I was infuriated after reading this bit of news, and I instantly fired off a letter to my Senators. I got a response back from one of them, and it's still hanging on my fridge.
How is it possible, that after all that's happened in Louisiana and the surrounding regions that these companies WHO ARE MAKING RECORD PROFITS THE LIKES OF WHICH THEY NEVER DREAMED POSSIBLE can't support the localities they are raping and... for Christ's sake -- how could anyone ever propose to waive any kind of fee on behalf of the RICHEST MOTHERFUCKERS ON THE PLANET -- especially one worth hundreds of millions of dollars?
The second thing which I will never forget from this film is the part where Spike Lee tracks down the guy who told Dick Cheney to go fuck himself.
The day this happened, my wife and I were on the couch watching CNN or some other news coverage and we saw it -- live and unedited right on the tube. Cheney is prattling on about thsi and that, standing in front of the ruin of someone's house, and all of a sudden, an off-screen voice pipes up with, "Go fuck yourself, Mr. Cheney." And just in case we didn't catch it the first time, cuz Cheney was still blabbering, the fellow is kind enough to speak up a second time -- with the same advice to our Vice President.
Now, I instantly appreciated the balls on this man - after all, here is the Vice President, surrounded by armed secret service agents, and yet this fellow is undeterred. Which is as it should be. But could you honestly tell me you'd do the same thing if you were in his shoes?
The glorious thing about this bit of the tale, at least to me is that the guy who told Cheney to go fuck himself wasn't some hillbilly or uneducated dipshit just out for a good time.
Sure, he spoke with a lazy southern drawl but he was just a guy trying to get to his house to see what was left of it when he was informed he would have to go fifteen minutes out of his way since the Secret Service had his road closed due to the Vice President's visit.
At the end of the film, all of the people introduced themselves -- most of them adding that they were born and raised in New Orleans. But the fellow who told the Dick to go fuck himself - he introduced himself a little differently. He gave his name and then mentioned that he was an emergency room physician at a New Orleans hospital. Not a truck driver or a construction worker. A doctor.
Even after all the heartache on display throughout the whole of this film, I was unable to suppress the deeply satisfied grin which spread across my face when I heard that.
If I could have just one wish, it would be that Bush would somehow evaporate into thin air. But, if I could squeeze out another one, it would be the hope that we could take some of the money we are spending to fight a war in Iraq - not a whole lot of it -- Just what they spend in, oh... I dunno... a week. Or two weeks... I wish we could put that money into a system like the Dutch have built to prevent flooding in their ENTIRE LOW-LYING COUNTRY.
The Dutch system is built to withstand the storm surge from a once-in-ten-thousand-years storm. How does that compare to the Tinkertoys(tm.), Legos, and Lincoln Logs surrounding New Orleans?
I'm proud of the people who want to move back into New Orleans. They have every right to go back to the homes they own and the homes they rent and the places they know and love. They have every right to rebuild it without interference from greedy land developers and oil companies. And they most certainly have the absolute right to feel safe in their homes, knowing that the proper precautions have been taken to ensure their safety, no matter what the cost may be.
No matter what the fucking cost may be.