Friday, January 13, 2012

Coach Katrina

Don't you just hate it when people use comparisons with sporting events to illuminate political or real life phenomena?  I do.  So, if you do, too, you might want to stop reading this right now.  This is one of those times that something - silly or not - has gotten in my head, and just won't fade away quietly.  You know, like the quiet way Mitt Romney wants every other Republican presidential candidate to be when it comes to talking about what a greedy bastard he is, as are actually all mainstream and even farther right Republicans, in simple accordance with their well known political and economic ideology.

Here it is: LSU football coach, Les Miles, is incompetent.  This is something almost all fans here have known for almost all of the time Miles has been in residence at that position.  From the beginning of his tenure, Miles demonstrated a thorough cluelessness and downright zaniness during numerous game situations.  Even worse, Miles long ago disgraced himself in a disqualifying manner from holding any position of public leadership by blatantly lying about his personal call of one of the stupidest plays ever seen in football history; which lie was exposed for all to see by a video of him wildly gesturing on the sidelines for the infamous "spike-the-ball" call, with no time left.  We all knew he was a disaster in waiting, but that great team, those great kids kept winning, despite him.  So, Miles got a pass.  Things were going okay, and most fans slipped into a false confidence that the worst would not likely happen.  But it did.

It is a lot like the way in which Hurricane Katrina was allowed to bring such massive devastation to our city.  We all knew of the very real risk that such a storm could overwhelm our inadequate flood defenses.  But nothing really terrible had happened here during the long period between Hurricane Betsy in 1965 and Katrina.  So most people went along with the ascendant anti-government-spending zeitgeist of the political environment, which  was born courtesy of the bigoted reaction against the federal government for outlawing officially sanctioned racial discrimination during the 1960s.  This racially motivated, and literally suicidal for the common man, political outlook persists even today. It was the underpinning of a long era of penny-pinching neglect of duty by the Army Corps of Engineers that left us so vulnerable to the catastrophe which ultimately eventuated.   And lest anyone doubt that we all knew of the danger in advance, remember that over 90% of this tightly confined metropolitan geographical area successfully evacuated before the inundation, widespread belief to the contrary notwithstanding.  Most who did not, could not.  If not for the mass exodus, the mortality figures would have matched the original fears of perhaps ten to fifteen thousand, rather than the fewer than two thousand who did perish.

Another example of this eyes-wide-open disaster embrace mentality for ulterior motivations, can be seen in the election of Barack Obama.  During the campaign he filled the air with meaningless, empty rhetoric, which perfectly reflected the modern era's abandonment of genuine, hard-hitting liberal economic thinking and policy.  Instead, he promised to overcome real class conflicts through  striped-suit, civil, lawyerly, board room negotiations between abusers and the abused.  This lame approach was clear to anyone paying even the slightest attention, but he became a cult figure for other, which is to say demographic, reasons and we all paraded off to "make history" without having a real banner or standard to march under.  Well, we made history all right.  Problem is we are still making history, all the wrong kind.  We have suffered devastating unemployment levels for longer than any period since the Great Depression.  And it continues.  The lesson here is that while Obama did not bring on the disaster, his thin and insufficient attempts to turn this mess around have allowed it to persist, and in some sense worsen.  Worst of all, though, is we should have known what we were going to get from this President all along.  He was not really hiding it from us, but we allowed the excitement of a possible victory by Obama to blind us to his hollowness and insufficiency.  This really is a coachable moment.

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