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Happy What?
Katrina's Cakewalk Conquerors
New Orleans? Baghdad? Beirut? Take your pick of Bush's New World Order.

To call it an “anniversary” is a bit of a misnomer. It rings of celebration. But there’s nothing to celebrate about the Katrina Massacre a year later. New Orleans as we knew it was demolished, more by intentional neglect at the time and subsequent indifference since, than by the hurricane itself. The city is being bleached of its history and demographics. Blacks need not apply except in the French Quarter, where their traditional role as servants to whitish leisure will stand out as sharply as those fake floodlights did, in the middle of a blacked out city, the night President Bush delivered his Jackson Square “mission accomplished” speech. New Orleans is being turned over to the now banal rapacity of real estate speculators and home builders who can smell the biggest gentrification program in the nation. That’s on the “redevelopment” end, the end that will justify the transformation of New Orleans into another re-modeled Cleveland—you know the kind of city that means: its heart replaced by something plastic, sporty and Disneyesque for the entertainment of the suburban and touristy crowds that’ll drive in, indulge, then leave. They’ll call it reborn, remade, returned. But it’ll be a robotic recreation that has as much to do with its authentic past as Epcot Center has to do with the culture it allegedly puts on display. Then there’s the governmental end. The Bush administration’s catastrophic incompetence has been documented adequately enough, if still with gloves on when it matters most: Bush has not, in the end, be held to account. As in Iraq. And as in Iraq, what money was allocated for reconstruction has been wasted on splurges of corruption. But Bush will travel to the Gulf and deliver his speeches, make himself look like a conquering hero once again, make it all seem like another one of his bubbly successes—and get away with it. A president who should have been shamed out of office even by a semi-literate public in 2004 manages still to use the very events that brim up his mendacity and his self-righteous idiocy—his wars, Katrina, his economic non-management—to ride his way to modestly higher ratings. The Katrina commemorations will have the taste of campaign rallies and booster-club meetings. And a week from now they’ll be as good as forgotten, as New Orleans was the very week of its doom a year ago: From dust to dust.

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