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Posts Tagged ‘624’

“A Day That Will Live in….”

May 5th, 2009 2 comments

News broke today that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who presided over that great metropolis during the September 11 attacks, failed to attend the wedding of his two close friends, Howard Koeppel and Mark Hsiao, in whose home the mayor resided for six months during his very public divorce, well before the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

Giuliani, who mounted a campaign for the 2008 Presidency that was inexplicably unsuccessful despite his heroic efforts in the wake of the September 11 attacks, had this to say in defense of his decision not to attend: “9/11. Since the events of that tragic day, I feel I can no longer support gay unions. Such support could anger other nations, thereby triggering a repeat of the events of September 11. September 11, 2001, that is. Unlike some other people, I can’t forget what those attacks of September 11 — usually referred to as “9/11″ — did to the City of which I, at the time, was Mayor. National security is a priority, and I now support the public waterboarding of gay couples if it can avert a tragedy on the scale we, as a nation, and I — as Mayor — suffered on September 11, 2001.”

“I wish the couple, with whom I stayed for several months at a time well before September 11, every happiness,” concluded the former Mayor of New York City, which apparently will never be the same after the events of September 11, 2001.

Categories: 9/11, humor, Marriage Equality Tags: , , , , , ,

America Betrayed

March 20th, 2009 1 comment

Hurricane Katrina was a bit player in the disaster that befell New Orleans; a Category 1 hurricane (there, although stronger elsewhere), it was able to swamp the city only because of an egregious, decades-long failure on the part of the Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that the levee system protecting New Orleans was sound.

This failure, which received considerably less attention than the horrific failure of government at all levels to respond to the disaster, is the subject of Leslie Carde’s searing documentary, “America Betrayed.”  The film, about to come out in limited release (so far, only to Portland, Oregon and New Orleans), features prominent scientists, award-winning journalists, and some of the many residents whose lives were tragically and needlessly upended by a combination of neglect and corruption.

I’m in it. Leslie Carde contacted me  because of this article I had written on the generous compensation that had been awarded the families of 9/11 victims.  The compensation, running to millions of dollars of taxpayer money in some cases, represented a dramatic and unprecedented departure from our usual response to disasters, which is to provide just enough government funding for people to struggle back to their feet. Leaning into a strong headwind, I argued that the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund had to be justified by principles of distributional fairness on a society-wide level, and that it could not be so justified.

Based on this article, Carde thought that I might have something to say about the comparatively poor treatment that the victims of Katrina had received from the government. She was on the beam. I had just written another article expressly comparing these two cases. (You can find and download it here, under the title: “What Does Justice Owe the Victims of Katrina and September 11?”)  In polite academic terms that I can cast aside here, I strongly criticized what I saw as disparate treatment in the government’s financial response to the two disasters. While the horrors of 9/11 engendered the Victim Compensation Fund, New Orleans residents received meager FEMA relief, including those now-infamous, formaldehyde-riddled trailers. This appalling disparity was heightened by the fact that the government was in large part to blame in the case of Katrina, but not so much with regard to the events  of September 11.

So in my brief — yet career-making — appearance in “America Betrayed” I call into question this disparity, and invite us to wonder at the reason for it. This comes towards the end of the film, when Carde expands her lens beyond Katrina to talk about deeper problems of infrastructure, readiness, and — ta da! — justice. For most of the film, prepare to be awed (not in a good way) by the horrific failures of your federal government to protect its citizenry. Can we please devote some of the stimulus money to infrastructural improvements that might reduce the chances of another needless catastrophe?

Oh, wait: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal — more concerned about his own future star within the out-of-touch Republican Party than with (for example) the citizens of his state, has turned down some of the stimulus the money. In his career-destroying response to Obama’s speech to a Joint Session of Congress, he also criticized money in the stimulus package for monitoring volcanoes for possible eruptions — you know, eruptions that could spell disaster for those in the path of the lava.

Quick study, that Gov. Jindal.