As the Asia Times proclaimed: “New Orleans is the first city lost to global warming.”

Lost: that now looks to be the likely scenario for tens of thousands of New Orleans residents, especially its working-class, largely African American, peoples and communities.

Lost to failed recovery, through government incompetence and perhaps blatant cruelty, left to the savagery of the most desperate conditions.

Lost to the war in Iraq, which now caps out the ability of the U.S. government to respond to the catastrophe.

Lost to Homeland Security: It turns out only the rich will escape when our cities are attacked by nature or enemies.

Lost to FEMA, an organization of emergency responders apparently handed over to hapless Bush conservative fundraisers as a campaign reward.

Lost to an underfunded, starved “restoration”: Who will rebuild the homes of New Orleans workers? Not them, but replacements (by executive order of Bush) to be paid “post-9/11 war-on-terror” pay. Who will pay the bill, now that the Bush tax cuts of 2001 have blown the surpluses to smithereens?

The fools we elected (or did we?) president and vice-president should quickly get their just deserts — hard prison time.

But we have another problem to consider: the war over oil, of which Iraq may be only the overture. Note the spectacular shift in public opinion as frustration in Iraq merged with $1 per gallon increases in fuel and the stunning Bush failure in emergency preparedness. A recent column in this paper estimated that U.S. consumers and businesses paid an extra $200 million for gasoline and petroleum products in the week after Katrina. This figure is conservative.

There is no doubt that the public views the availability of affordable energy as a vital interest.

The failure of Bush’s Iraq policy, essentially an oil policy, places the global question of sustainable development and security on family kitchen tables for discussion as the gas and oil expenditures are totaled up.

Congress voted over $60 billion in hurricane disaster aid, but most of it is “off-budget,” i.e., borrowed against the Social Security trust fund, in a vain effort to hide the ballooning deficit.

The problems are mounting, as is the pressure. All hope is not lost. It’s not impossible that a popular upheaval arising from economic fear and political disgust, such as that which eventually brought down Nixon, can do likewise to Bush and the ultra-Reaganite, imperialistic trend so dominant for 25 years. Let us make it true.

But it is also not impossible, in the cauldron of pressures unloosed by the Bush wars, that an even more aggressive, more imperialistic, even more dangerous and arrogant approach may prevail as instability intensifies. Let us make this not true.

John Case (jcase@steuber.com) is a software integrator in West Virginia who follows economic developments.

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