Sunday, September 04, 2005

From Bush to Signifyin' Monkeys: huricanes and incompetent politicians

When a medical student listening to a lecture in an
amphitheater, you get the overwhelmed feeling that
everything there is to know about human physiology and
pathology is known and that you will be tested on all
of it. Then, when a resident on night-call, facing
your first admission, you realize that, whatever were
your grades in medical school, all your knowledge
leads at best to: maybe this, no...maybe that, no, not
that either.... leaving you in a state of panic and
confusion. Still, you struggle on, accepting even the
deaths attributable directly to your mistakes and,
gradually, you become a master, not of the science of
medicine, but at least good enough at the art of it.
Nevertheless, even long after you realize that in all
your very expensive books there's nothing to make you
confident or certain of anything you do, you live your
professional life running the gauntlet of patients who
see you as a malpractice lottery ticket and lawyers
who seek contingency fees with which to pay their
wife's mink coat, children's college and the house's
new roof. That's the way it's got to be because,
afterall, those who have the lives of the helpless
amongst us in their hands must be held accountable.

But if tort theory applies to every professional
striking out to make a go of it at fees-for-service,
what can we say about politicians? I have known many
local, state and federal politicians-- even some
presidents. And, in all cases, I most raise my blood
pressure with sheer anxiety when I ask myself how else
could this or that politician make himself employable
elsewhere but in politics. It soon becomes clear that
really any politician, or at least most, are qualified
to do little if anything else that TV interviews,
pork-barrel deals and bending rules to suit friends
and influencial contributors.

Most people might say, if they read so far: so what's
the big issues-- doctors are suable for every little
thing as if they should be perfect and politicians are
immune to accountability other that on election day
when cash provides for Pied Pipers "election experts"
who bring in the sheep-- what else is new?

In fact, little is new, so long as everything is
something happening to some other someone. But, once
"you" are the victim instead of the recepient, things
look a lot different. Now, thanks to hungry for scoops
24/7 news channels that seem almost ponographic with
the way they milk tragedies, one is often invaded by
events and gets conditioned to take them personally in
the sense that: this is awful, someone should do
something about it...Where are the politicians?

Since 9/11 I have been harping on the decomposition of
reason in the Bush Administration as it is killing
America with criminal negligence and reckless
incompetence. Back when I started even Democrats
thought me a bit deranged for not joining the One
President for One Nation parade behind GW Bush. I
sited Iraq; ah, but Iraq is so far away and it ain't
my kid going there. I sited East Europe; ah but
everyone knows that these people went from slavery
under Communism to slavery under Oligarch mafias--
their choice. I sited mindless meddling in the Middle
East and blind following of reckless Likudniks; Oh, we
know what that means--I'm really an anti-Semite (and
just in case I might be Jewish there is always the
diagnosis of "self-hating Jew.")

No matter what the issue, it seems anti-American,
anti-democracy and anti-Jesus Christ himself to
criticize GW Bush, the new American messiah.

Well, here it is, finally, a message from above.
Another huricane churned up by made-in-America global
warming rips through the Gulf of Mexico, turning over
every rock and exposing the corruption, incompetence
and irresponsible self-centeredness of all our

Watching the Congressional Black Caucus holding a
press conference to express "shame with America" for
its racism and then demand that more be done because
everything is a deliberate act of racial neglect and
uncaring. Then, just before ending, they turn around
and sing-along about "one America," "our America,"
"black and white America," etc. Sort of like trying to
have the cake and eat it too, n'est pas?

How deep their rage was obvious from one Congresswoman
smiling and winking to someone off camera while
another speaks words of rage and two others socially
embracing to say hello to eachother while another
extrued rage. I recall a term I learned in Harlem in
the 1960s, refering to people exploiting the moment to
get themselves a little personal attention:
"Signifyin' Monkey"-- my, my how apropos!

Then there is Bush, like a trained circus seal going
through his well rehearsed post-9/11 hug and sympathy
photo-op. Instead of,"I hear you and I promise you all
that they shall hear you," he said that "I will not
forget what I saw today." Alas, Bush has been much too
oblivious to much too much human suffering without
flinching or even at least keeping a streight face
over the last five years to be believable now. The
FEMA oprations remind me of our New York hospitals
where residents are sprawled throughout various
floors. When a patient is found in cardio-pulonary
arrest, a "Code Blue" or varient there of is called by
the floor nurse. By the time the "Code Team" gets
there, the clock is way beyond the 5 minutes max for
the brain to survive without oxygenated blood pumped
to it by the heart. Thus, a gathering to save a life
suddenly becomes a gathering to practice for the next
time.And the crying family rarely realizes that mom is
dead because the "team" residents had to wait for the
elevator! Similarly, FEMA is not saving anyone, it is
only finally helping the survivors.

Well, by the time the city of New Orleans-- victim of
corrupt and utterly incompetent Southern "Good Ol'
Boys" over decades-- got flooded, all the mayor could
do is call an SOS. Though he's a black mayor and most
"Conscious of the needs of my people," it never
occured to him to provide means of evacuation to New
Orleans' poor; they were trapped. When action was
finally taken after four days, it became a macabre
case similar to when the horses managed to get
themselves out of the burning barn and the only
concern of the rancher is: "Hey, don't let my horses
get away!" People were herded to the Convention Center
and the Super Dome for no reason other than this way
they won't get away and the mayor can pretend he did
something and then can blame the Feds for the fact
that when they got there, the cupboard was bare.

The fact, though, is that there was no plan;
everything was ad hoc and people were helplessly
standing cramped, asking: what are you doing for me?

For me, New Orleans is a painful way of proving that I
was right about Baghdad. Both cities are such a mess
and will be so for so long, because the Bush people
are a bunch of politicians good for nothing else than
Bush-politics, pretending that they have a plan...They
have nothing planned but how to get more breaks for
the robber barons who payed for Bush's re-election!

But then what about the Democrats? Well, Louisiana was
all they had left in the South. And, if anything, this
huricane proves that if Bush Republicans replace them
all, for Louisianians it will just be more of the
same. The reason for that is that politicians are
people good at nothing else but politics. Yet, they
make the highly technical decisions by which life and
death for the rest of us is decided. Instead of
calling their decisions self-serving, short-sighted
decisions made by moron politicians, we call them
"POLICIES." From terror by Arab terrorists to terror
by huricanes resulting from our focil feul generated
global warming, policy decisions will be stupidly made
by moron politicians--at great cost and waste in life
and treasure-- and criticized most stupidly by other
politicans who want to replace them in power.

The lawyer of a doctor about to be sued for
malpractice is told first and foremost by his lawyer:
politicians it is different. They mark all their
records "CLASSIFIED" and that's that. Is there any
wonder why the Bush Administration has classified more
documents than any other previous administration?

The issue is ACCOUNTABILITY. But, not to worry.
Americans have no rear view mirror. The gnawing
question of today will fade away like a tooth ache
when they can say: Finally, we're RE-BUILDING New
Orleans...after that no one will care to look
backwards except for History Channel buffs watching
cable TV.

There is one wrinkle here. Once more, up and coming
"black politicians" will be tempted to play the race
card. Because usually they are totally self-centered
and for some reason believe that their color makes
them invisible when they do something wrong or stupid,
they may seize upon making this hurricane a race
issue. But if they do that they will find that the
guilt-trip over race of the 1960s is long gone and the
very people who now simply feel deep empathy for the
victims of the huricane because they are helpless will
suddely turn to excusing their not caring by saying
that the people in the Superdome and Convention Center
were rapists, looters, killers and socipaths. I can
only hope that the catastrophic polarization that
exploitation of this issue by racial opportunists--
black and white-- might produce is fully appreciated
by these black politicians as well as by white ones.
But after what I saw at the so-called "Black Caucus"
press conference I really shutter in fear that these
"signifyin' monkeys" can't see past themselves. In
that case, it is up to both black and white Americans
to see through them and deal with this crisis on their

Will they? Given how blind they have been to young
American patriots and heroes needlessly dying in Iraq
and elsewhere, I really worry. In the meantime, I can
only wonder how badly I can be sued when I go to New
Orleans and help out.

Daniel E. Teodoru


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