It is now 2 days after hurricane Ike came ashore directly south of where I live in Houston, Texas. I live somewhat on the west side of town, so I was on the “clean” side of the storm. Over on the east side, all the way to New Orleans, was the dirty side, and they caught pure tee holy hell. Three years ago I wrote about hurricane preparedness and how things work in disaster situations. Boudreauxs-Muldoons-Hurricane-Emergency-Plans. Not that much has changed since Hurricane Katrina caused 100 years of accumulated puke and shit to float up into the streets of New Orleans and make the place uninhabitable for anyone that has olfactory sensitivities. Of course, if you lived in New Orleans, the smell of vomit and shit didn’t really affect you that much.
The social customs of New Orleans, at least amongst the more celebratory of its denizens plus tourists that don’t go there to enjoy moderation, have always been that a very long period of drinking liquor precedes dinner. You don’t taste much of dinner because you’re drunk. If you were drinking cream drinks and sugary drinks, you were ready to throw up before the first bite touched your lips. The French sauces on top of the cream and sugary drinks, followed of course by after dinner drinks that include things like Irish coffee made with real whipped cream, crème brulee, crepes with sweet sauces and fruit, Bananas Foster and the like accelerated the roiling, turning of stomachs. A walk to a bar for a nightcap, and later, way after midnight, to the Café du Monde for café au lait and crullers, made the short stroll back to the car or hotel one giant projectile vomiting process followed by fulminating diarrhea and cramps customarily associated with labor pains, frequently before you can get close to a toilet.
If you are visiting New Orleans and get up early and go out into the streets of the French Quarter for a stroll before the street washing trucks have done their early morning clean up, you will experience the aroma to which I refer. If you can imagine that smell exponentialised by a flood, then you could competently decide whether a hurricane induced flood is preferable to an all out atomic attack.
But this is Houston, and we are less prone to the vicissitudes of New Orleans revelry. Here it’s BBQ/Steaks, real booze (on ice or with soda, except for Crown and Coke)(children may drink vodka and anything) and beer/wine. Weed is pervasive, but that’s the same everywhere – kinda like cop fondling Republican senators and airport men’s rooms. People don’t throw up as much around here, and the floods don’t bring to the street surfaces the detritus of New Orleans style dissipation. After a big night out in Houston, almost everyone can make it to a toilet. So even at its worst, Houstonians fare better in a disaster than folks in New Orleans. Also, corruption here is somewhat different than it is in Louisiana, so most of our infrastructure comes within a hoot and a holler of specifications. Our stuff doesn’t fall down in a high wind, and our levees don’t collapse in flood conditions. By comparison, anything built in Louisiana should be expected to be more like something constructed in Bagdad.
There is disaster theatre. Disaster theatre consists of politicians of all stations, federal, state and local, getting face time on television either reassuring the white audience that aid is present, ready and available, or complaining on behalf of the black audience that aid is unavailable on proportional terms. It is political theory that what one receives in emergency assistance from the government is without regard to the taxes paid. The poor who pay little or nothing are to receive the same as the rich who paid for almost everything. In reality that is not so. In reality, the rich seem not to be as needy, for they by and large have already provided for themselves and are in better shape for that anyway. The poor, on the other hand, not having made such provisions for themselves, are more dependent, and the perception of inadequate assistance is always pervasive. Even if they received the same amount of assistance as the rich, it would be insufficient. Accordingly, if one wishes to be reelected to be the Congress person from a poor black district, one must frequently appear on television loudly and insistently demanding more; that it be delivered immediately; and that rectitude compels special consideration for the downtrodden – more about them later.
The law, in its majesty, forbids rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges and in the parks, and from publicly begging. The law, in its majesty, sets the same standards for conviction of any crime, regardless of one’s station in life. There is supposedly no defense to any charge that one is guilty but rich. In reality, there is a defense called guilty but rich. Wealth enables much better representation. Wealth enables the hiring of expert witnesses to conduct elaborate tests that confirm, in appearances at least, that notwithstanding the fact that you bashed someone’s brains out with a three iron, you should be given merciful treatment because it was your grandfather’s three iron and the police have now taken it from you. Guilty but poor has its compensating prerogatives. Spending one’s youth in poverty and in deprivation of a father socializes one to be frustrated beyond coping, a volcanic mental disability that so disables one’s ability to distinguish between right and wrong that guilty but poor is also a real defensive opportunity. Committing a crime while black is also a factor in American jurisprudence. If you commit a crime while being black, you are either given leniency (the perceptions of the white community) or given the more severe range of punishment (the perception of the black community). In traffic court, it is frequently the case that defendants claim they were pulled over by the local constabulary because of their race, and that in reality they are being charged with driving while black. And so the law, in its majesty, has its variances and loose fitting opportunities that make for an exciting life for attorneys.
In disaster circumstances, for example, one is a looter if seen carrying off merchandise without payment if one is black, and is taking the necessities to assure the survival of one’s family if he is white. Fortunately, being seen carrying off merchandise does not in itself establish that they were not paid for, regardless of the ambient circumstances, and, if the defendant is fortunate enough to get an Irish Catholic judge in an emergency situation or close to Christmas time, one may expect mercy. To be sure, the amount of mercy dispensed may vary according to whether the defendant is also an Irish Catholic or is otherwise situated. Jewish judges are of two stripes. One such believes that everyone is provided with equal or better circumstances as Jews and that there is no excuse for criminal behavior. The other stripe read Jacob Riis and other new deal writers’ books and is still trying to right the imbalances between capital and labor depicted in socialist philosophy, passing out second chances by the carload. If you see an Anglo Saxon protestant judge up there on the bench, it is because the judge couldn’t make a lot of money practicing law, and is up there to at least get a steady salary. Sometimes that isn’t so, but one should nonetheless expect less in the way of clemency. If that judge is a Republican, one should expect much less in the way of clemency.
Now that you understand how the institutions of society work in real life, I can go on telling this story.
In the situation of Hurricane Ike, the target of the storm was Galveston Island and the neighboring Bolivar peninsula. Island people are friendly, weird, the victims of constant intoxication and inbreeding, promiscuous, indifferent to almost everything except the weather, the waves and the price of beer and completely out of touch. One survivor told a reporter that she spent the hurricane period in the apartment of a boyfriend. The flood came three quarters of the way up the stairs to his second floor apartment. The wind was at around 110 miles per hour, and she had the most orgasms in the shortest period of time in her entire life. She can’t wait until the next hurricane.
Island people consider hurricane preparation to be competent when they have enough beer and ice to last for four days. Ice doesn’t last for four days, but that isn’t factored into the equation. Their imperatives are limited to drinking and screwing, which explains why they are so happy all the time. They believe that it is a sin to flee in times of disaster, so they “ride it out”, which is a wonderful double entendre.
There is also an admixture of poor minorities on the island. They are less care free and devil may care. They are also more dangerous in a disaster, and must therefore be accounted for by removing them from the scene on busses before the storm hits. Not all of them show up, and there will remain a sizable number of poor minority people after the hurricane for the police to deal with. They are included in the definition of post disaster downtrodden. Nowadays there are also so called illegal aliens there in the way of the storm, and they fear being arrested should they show up for public evacuation service. As each person who shows up is tagged and identified, the fear of arrest is justified. Fortunately, they are also smart enough in most instances to arrange for their own evacuation.
You Can’t Fix Stupid (Ron White 2006)
A yuppie couple had cruise tickets for a Gulf of Mexico cruise, leaving from Galveston Island two days before the hurricane hit. The cruise company offered them a refund if they wanted to change their minds. They declined, leaving their new car at pier side when they boarded. The car is now at the bottom of Galveston Bay.
At a news conference today, the Galveston City manager announced that only documented property owners, the press and insurance claims people would be allowed to come on the island. One reporter asked “What if you don’t have proper identification?” DUH!!!
The police chief announced that so far there were five confirmed fatalities on the island. One reporter asked “What time today was the last one identified?”
The mayor announced that the press conference could only last for twenty minutes and that the county health department director had important public health announcements to make. She then recognized the local congressman who wasted ten minutes repeating what the city manager had just said. You cold see the mayor in the background seething over the congressman’s stupidity.
The county health department director finally got to the microphone and announced that since there was no running water or electricity on the island, all persons coming on the island are urged to go to the bathroom before crossing the bridge. One reporter asked what that had to do with anything. The director answered that without water you can’t flush the toilet, DUH!!! Anyone with any snap would know that you either shit on the mainland or in the gulf.
There are 10,000 islanders who did not heed the mandatory evacuation order. They are now whining that they have no food, water or other essential facilities. They also complain that their sick and injured have no access to medical treatment or medical supplies. Of course they also have no money, and the ATMs don’t work. DUH!!!
FEMA, as if you couldn’t have predicted this, has failed to bring essential relief supplies on the grounds that their trucks are large and they want small trucks to be brought to their staging areas to take small loads directly to the people in need. There are so many people in need that the large trucks could easily go to any area and distribute their entire loads in five minutes. But no one authorized them to do that. DUH!!! This is happening everywhere, not just on Galveston Island. FEMA must be run by the same kind of folks as General Motors.
Dozens of deaths and total mental incapacitations have resulted from morons operating their gasoline driven electric generators indoors and experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning. The machines have conspicuous warnings against doing that, and any normal adult (and most children) know that already anyway. But yuppies don’t want their new generators running outside where they might get rained on or stolen.
When potential poor evacuees show up at the places where they may board busses to take tem to safety, they are given identification writs bands. Our crazy INS lacks sufficient humanity to announce that, for this emergency, it will not be stationing immigration police at these assembly areas to arrest people with immigration status issues. The result of this idiocy is that the most useful people are put at the greatest risk. Just who do these morons think are going to clean up the damage caused by the hurricane? The Latino immigrants are the only solid corps of hard working people who will do it. They deserve some consideration here for a few days so we can save them. We are only prolonging recovery with this stupid, fascist immigration policy anyway. In the final analysis we really do need a great influx of people willing to do hard work, and the cultural diversity would add great beauty to our society. Why do we allow right wing nut cases to influence immigration policy?
While all this is going on locally, in the town where shenanigans amongst executives of publicly traded companies reached their highest levels of achievement in the Enron debacle, it was announced that Lehman Bros. has failed and filed for bankruptcy; that Merrill-Lynch had sold to Bank America for pennies on the dollar; and that the government has decided to bail out AIG Insurance with $ 85,000,000,000 (yeah, that’s billions) while refusing to bail out failing Ford and General Motors – all on the same day that Senator John McCain was pronouncing to anyone who would listen that the fundamentals of the US economy are sound.
Ron White is right. You really cannot fix stupid. Are we Americans so stupid that we are willing to return the Republicans to power in this coming election despite their being the worst administration since Richard Nixon, or is it just that Barack Obama is black?
This is Texas. While there is a minority of loudmouth assholes who get face time just for being loud and obnoxious, most of us are kind and generous and are busy looking out for and helping our neighbors. We are going door to door in our neighborhoods asking after everyone’s condition and needs. We are helping those who need help. We are protecting each other. There is much less looting here than you would expect because we are almost all armed to the teeth and will willingly shoot any looter sumbitch who shows up. Looters know this. We have very little looting. Every week in the Houston press there is a story of some home invasion criminal who was shot and killed by the homeowner. The message is getting out quite effectively. If you want to commit crimes against people and property, you are much better off doing it where the legal mindset is more criminal friendly. Here in Texas, if you shoot an attacker/burglar, you do not get charged with a crime. In my opinion, everyone who shoots a criminal should get a tickertape parade and a medal. We Texans are much safer in our homes and persons because of our attitude on this issue.
By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
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