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Baghdad on the Bayou; Reconstruction Redux.....Return of The Carpetbaggers

By       Message Ruth Lopez     Permalink
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Rebuilding New Orleans - Bush Style

One of the biggest mistakes Americans make is to accept the spin that Bush Republicans actually believe in, as one columnist put it, "a conservative ideology that is leery of Federal bailouts". Nothing could be further from the truth. The fiscally fickle Bush Republicans have absolutely no trouble using Federal bailouts when they or their friends are the recipients. In fact, the only time Bush Republicans don't like Federal bailouts is when they might help non-Bush Republicans. Then bailouts are bad, very bad. Then it's all about 'starve the beast'. And Bush Republicans only starve the beasts that don't serve them.

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What does this have to do with New Orleans? Quite simply, it is the underlying motivation for what passes as reconstruction in the Bush Administration, or, more accurately, the lack of reconstruction. When it comes to rebuilding New Orleans, as with everything else, only those things which serve the interests of Bush Republicans will actually receive funding and support. By that standard, it is completely acceptable that a good part of New Orleans, including citizens, can be left to rot, a large portion of the city's population can be permanently relocated, and great swaths of destroyed city can be claimed and redistributed to Bush cronies to achieve their political and financial goals. That's Reconstruction, Bush-style.

Some people think that when Mr. Bush finally flew over New Orleans and viewed the hurricane damage from Air Force One, he finally grasped the extent of the devastation. More than likely, he was seeing what Condi would term the "opportunity" side of a "crisis", and hearing the "ka-ching" of potential profits. How many days after that flight did Halliburton have its first no-bid Federal contract in New Orleans?

This new Southern Reconstruction will serve all of the Republicans' deliciously low partisan aims. The once blue state of Louisiana will be remade as a red state, simply by making it economically improbable, if not impossible, for a significant portion of the once predominantly Democratic population to ever return to their lives in New Orleans - redistricting that Tom DeLay could only fantasize about. How brilliant are Bush Republicans for not losing sight of political ideology when presented with disaster-induced opportunity?

After all, who's the hero, the one who reaches across partisan lines to help countrymen in a time of natural disaster or the one who cleverly uses that disaster to increase their own fortunes and those of like-minded individuals? We know which choice this White House made. All the same players who brought Bush-style Reconstruction to Iraq were brought into New Orleans faster than Katrina breeched the levees. They had years to hone their highly profitable, misery-inducing, corrupt, self-serving skills in Iraq and they were handsomely paid to bring that expertise to New Orleans. The Big Sleazy comes to the Big Easy. Now, as we pass the first anniversary of Katrina, instead of a rebuilt New Orleans, we have Baghdad on the Bayou; a ruined city, rife with corruption and misery.

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Some people think that the rampant corruption of Bush Republicans is a sign of incompetence. But it would be another really big mistake to confuse their corruption with incompetence. Bush Republicans are not incompetent about the things that matter to them. In fact, they are frighteningly competent when they want to be. One year after Katrina, they have failed as miserably here as they did in Iraq, but only in areas which do not matter to them. When it comes to avoiding responsibility while simultaneously profiting off of disaster and corruption, they remain unsurpassed.

It doesn't take a Bourbon Street psychic to see the future of New Orleans. She will rise again. She will exist as a testament to the Machiavellian use of leveraging disaster for political and financial gain, visible evidence of the real moral code of today's Bush Republicans. New Orleans will see the widespread use of politically and racially motivated eminent domain in place of genuine reconstruction. African Americans who have lived for generations in New Orleans will find insurmountable obstacles impeding their efforts to reclaim or inherit their own property. They will face a burden of proof beyond the capabilities of many of them. And many of those who can prove their right to their property will find eminent domain used to deny them their inheritance anyway.

Big-time Republican donors and corporate interests will then divvy up New Orleans amongst themselves like the Romans under the cross throwing lots for Christ's meager possessions. And the Bush Administration will use Federal bailouts to reward them for doing so.
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Ruth Lopez: mom, veteran, citizen.

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Baghdad on the Bayou; Reconstruction Redux.....Return of The Carpetbaggers