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Civilization, Not Just Government, Failed During Katrina

Government's duty is preventing situations mandating arbitrary life/death decisions

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, July 19, 2006.

Any day that sees Ralph Reed, founder of the Christian Coalition, having to confront the results of his corruptions and hypocrisies is a good day, and today is a very good day for Georgia and the political future. Reed couldn’t survive the Jack Abramoff scandal, especially with his own emails and correspondence clearly showing he knowingly engaged in fraud. And Ralph Reed has lost the GOP primary for Georgia Lt. Governor, and that’s good.

On the Democratic side in the same state, Cynthia McKinney, the melodramatic caricature with the large chip on her shoulder, has been unexpectedly forced into a runoff with a highly qualified and equally African-American opponent in her district. The winner of the Democratic primary will be the Congressman there. It will be a good day when McKinney leaves Congress and social slights aren’t elevated into Selma level Civil Rights’ violations. It’s a bit much that cops in the Capital be expected to memorize the faces of over 630-odd Senators and Representatives plus staff. So! All to the good, so far.

Here in Colorado – this may just be the liquor talking – but it seems Governor Owens and the courageous Colorado legislature - always willing to tackle the tough issues before them, however unpopular - have moved to ban common law marriages where the female half need only have reached the age of twelve to be lawfully united in wedded bliss to a no doubt worthy and noble creature of my particular gender, as apparently this has been legal in Colorado till this point. Let’s think about that. Legal, despite all the attorneys seething about. Huh. Odd, I thought it was still legal in Reed and McKinney’s Georgia, - it’s been years since I’ve been there – but I find it hard to believe that it was legal in Colorado given the statutory rape issues and the Mann Act, and those sorts of things. Does law often contradict itself? Very well, then. Walt Whitman, you’re not alone.

And of course I remember when I hosted a local law school graduation party at a place I worked here in Boulder, and the class President, or loudest mouth who’d signed the contract, appeared with a female clearly underage and, drunk himself, threatened all sorts of hell and high water if she wasn’t allowed to celebrate with him. Lawyers. Don’t get me started.

Anyway, another horror is emerging undesired from the fetid streets of New Orleans. Charges have been filed against nurses and others who worked in a hospital swamped during Katrina. Apparently, some of the bodies found showed signs of murder most foul, or euthanasia most kind, all depending upon your point of view. I have no problem considering that mistakes were made, but it bugs me that it comes down to slamming those on the ground who had to make life and death decisions in a manner only Hell could have devised.

Consider one case. A 61- year old man, who weighed 380 pounds and was paralyzed, but conscious and awake. Three days after the hurricane, the hospital was flooded, the temperature was over 100 degrees inside. No electricity. No refrigeration for medicine or food. Imagine the smells and sounds and what floated in the hallways. Got that in mind? Okay. Now imagine, with no electricity, what precisely the hospital staff could do to help their charges.

Now - especially now given we have a very good idea of the incompetence and feral stupidity of the rescue efforts, so called – imagine you’re in charge and have to visualize the chances of your patients being saved at all, much less in a timely manner, after witnessing the chaos and horror in the entire city, the inertia of the Federal government, and all the centuries of institutional corruption coming home to roost. Tell me with a straight face that the nurses could remotely imagine that man surviving.

Thirty odd people died, possibly euthanized. Is this a case of medical staff just wanting to get out themselves and making it easy to do so? Or was it a case of concern for the future and welfare of the patients based on the devastation and no help about them? In some cases, I have no doubt it was a form of murder most kind in intent. After all. How long did it take for the hospital to get help? How long before all the bodies were removed?

Those were awful, terrible decisions that had to be made. It’s the duty of civilization and responsible government - both absent during Katrina - to prevent individuals from being confronted with those decisions at all. Like the Terry Schiavo case, the Ralph Reed Christian hypocrites and Cynthia McKinney look-at-me’s will be all over this horror for political advantage. If any of those medical people get nailed, justly or not, their term in prison should be shorter than those that mandated the decisions be made. Government's duties may vary in our minds, but surely we can agree that its primary duty is the common sense preparation for disaster and implementation of procedures to save the most helpless. None of that appears in the story of Katrina.

And now it's in the hands of lawyers to sort the ethical issues all out......