Cry For NOLA And Mississippi, Hillary

Jesse Jackson, Jr., in stumping for Barack Obama, was correct in pointing out after the New Hampshire primary that Hillary Clinton did not cry for Katrina.

Apparently, based on what’s above the fold on her issues page, Clinton doesn’t seem to think that Katrina’s impact on the Gulf Region or the loss of 80% of New Orleans due to the failure of federally-maintained levees is that big a deal today–as if the fact that the continued suffering of many in the disaster zone close to 2 1/2 years after the flood doesn’t matter. And this is morally wrong.

Per the New York Daily News

Obama’s national campaign co-chairman, Jesse Jackson Jr., slammed Clinton’s now-famous misty-eyed moment by wondering aloud why she didn’t shed public tears for victims of Hurricane Katrina, for example.

“They have to be looked at very, very carefully in light of Katrina, in light of other things that Mrs. Clinton did not cry for,” Jackson told MSNBC.

Now that Clinton has won in New Hampshire and could win the nomination, she needs to be reminded that New Orleans and the Mississippi and Louisiana Gulf Region communities still feeling Katrina’s impact are a part of America. Crying–showing some sensitivity for what the people of New Orleans and the rest of the region have been going through would be a good start–but she has to back this up with highlighting her Gulf Coast plan. It’s time for her to show that she’s the Democratic candidate for all Americans by promoting Katrina and New Orleans to her issues page. Right now, she obviously thinks Katrina and the flood are all over with. New Orleans and the Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coasts have been off her radar–and she needs to start paying attention to their needs now.

Here’s why: Her list of front page issues includes strengthening the middle class, providing affordable and accessible health care, ending the war in Iraq, promoting energy independence and fighting global warming, fulfilling our promises to veterans, supporting parents and caring for children, restoring America’s standing in the world, a champion for women, comprehensive government reform, strengthening our democracy, reforming our immigration system, and an innovation agenda.

But, just like Barack Obama’s issues page, which I deconstructed in a previous diary, Hillary’s list is incomplete without New Orleans and Katrina recovery. These issues not only are affecting real people in New Orleans and elsewhere in the Gulf Region of Louisiana and Mississippi, but are national issues. And, just like those on Obama’s issues page, her issues all have some sort of Katrina or New Orleans relevance.

1.) Strengthening the middle class. New Orleans’ flooding and Katrina’s ferocious winds did not only affect the poor. The middle class there is also in a world of hurt–struggling with the frustrating Road Home program. Wanting only to rebuild their homes which they’d lost to the flooding or to Katrina or Rita, homeowners are being fingerprinted and having mug shots taken as though they’re common criminals and otherwise put through an emotional wringer as they must deal not only with the Road Home but also corrupt contractors, etc. For hanging in there in New Orleans even with these problems, instead of giving up and leaving, they are true heroes.  And a major problem also experienced by homeowners is the fact that their insurance companies don’t cover flood damage–and dishonestly claim that wind damage is instead water damage. So someone whose roof had been blown off by Katrina could be told that their loss is water damage and won’t be covered. See this diary for more on how Big Insurance has been giving customers in Louisiana the shaft–which is why homeowners have to resort to dealing with the Road Home, which had been intended to bridge the gap between insurance and damage up to a total of $100,000, in the first place, either that or victims of water damage will be looking for companies that have employed the help of water damage restoration marketing strategies so they can find custom. Why isn’t Hillary interested in strengthening New Orleans’ and the rest of the Gulf Region’s middle class by making a major issue of their problems with insurance and the Road Home?

2.) Providing affordable and accessible health care. New Orleans’ health care system is ailing over two years after her flooding.(

CBS) In her six years as a nurse practitioner, Scharmaine Lawson has been on medical missions to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. But she had no idea she’d be doing Third World work in her own hometown….

Lawson’s practice consists solely of house calls, or, in most cases, calls to the FEMA trailer parked outside the house. She had 100 patients before Katrina; now she has 500.

One of them is Alice Pierre, 67, who suffers from heart disease, back problems and diabetes.

“My sugar this morning was … oh my goodness. I have CRS now – Can’t Remember Stuff,” Pierre says with a laugh.

Almost all of the patients are elderly and in some cases, bedridden. Those who can manage to get to a doctor often can’t find one.

How would Lawson describe the state of health care in New Orleans? “It’s still on the respirator,” she says. “It’s still in the ICU.”

And even worse

The medical community says that survivors continue to die from multiple effects of the storm-including psychological and physical problems, financial stress, fears of crime and violence. Dr. Kevin Stephens, director of the New Orleans Health Department, commented to the Associated Press, “Years from now, when they talk about post-traumatic stress, New Orleans after Katrina will be the poster child.”….

The Associated Press reported one such tragedy: the case of Sylvester Major, who escaped from his flooded home, survived harrowing days at the convention center, and ended up in Oklahoma, where he died 10 months later of congestive heart failure at the age of 59. Major’s family contends he died as a result of the impact of the hurricane and the loss of his elderly mother, who also died after being evacuated.

Major’s brother, Ellis Coleman Jr., commented, “Being away from most things we love, the people we’re used to… it had to take a toll on him. He just didn’t have the will to go on. He lost the spark.”

Why doesn’t Hillary seem interested in this lack of affordable, accessible health care in New Orleans? Not to mention the horrendous mental and physical trauma and suffering, and elevated death rate, this, the flooding itself, and life in its wake, have been causing?

3.) Ending the war in Iraq. It is truly a shame how Clinton has turned her back on New Orleans and the communities hit by Katrina even though all communities have been sending their children off to fight in Bush’s wars including that in Iraq which she voted for. And recall how when New Orleans flooded, many of Louisiana’s National Guard troops were off in Iraq.

4.) Promoting energy independence and fighting global warming. Definite hurricane relevance here–global warming has been causing the water of the seas around the world to become warmer. Unusually-warm water in the Gulf of Mexico is what contributed to the strength of both Katrina and Rita.

5.) Fulfilling our promises to veterans. Not only are there a lot of homeless veterans living and sleeping under overpasses in New Orleans, her VA hospital was flooded and now veterans like Paul Hermann have to travel all over the South for medical care.

If the bone fusion in Paul Hermann’s spine had disintegrated the summer before Hurricane Katrina, he would have made the short drive from his home in Slidell to the veterans hospital in downtown New Orleans to have it resealed.

But Hermann needed surgery the summer after the storm, and the hospital had been closed for nearly a year. His case file was shipped to the veterans hospital in Jackson, Miss., where doctors tarried over it for two months before arranging for him to have the surgery — in Houston.

Hermann’s ordeal is all too common these days. While the Department of Veterans Affairs makes plans to build a new hospital to replace the one lost to Katrina, retired military men and women — many of them aging and frail, some of them with limited incomes — have had to travel all over the South for medical care that was once available at their doorstep. Worst of all, the delays frequently worsen the conditions that need treatment. Cancers can spread or heart attacks recur….

“Because it took longer to have the surgery on my back, other parts of my body were affected,” said Hermann, an Air Force veteran. “My legs began to atrophy. I have not been able to drive since September….

And not only veterans, but also active members of the military, are being ripped off by Big Insurance after Katrina and Rita:

And to think that these insurance goons are doing this also to our military men and women–be they active, on reserve, or veteran, many of whom live in the southern part of Louisiana and Mississippi. Disgusting!….

by Ana Maria

Why doesn’t Hillary seem to care about fulfilling promises to Louisiana’s and Mississippi’s veterans?

6.) Supporting parents and caring for children. Hillary should emphasize the fact that young children and their parents have been rendered vulnerable to mental health problems. In fact, according to a psychologist at the Rand Corporation

students with post-traumatic stress disorder or post-hurricane anxiety might appear to be fine and show up for school every day, but many struggle. Many of the students have nightmares, are hyper-vigilant, easily startled, irritable, depressed or want to avoid things that remind them of the trauma, which can include the loss of family, pets and their homes…Some of the barriers to continued mental health services for the some 200,000 children displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita are: problems communicating with parents — some have no phone service, pressure to “get back to normal,” inadequate resources, insufficient staff training and burnout among staff.

But Hillary hasn’t. Why isn’t she supporting the parents and caring for the traumatized children of Louisiana and Mississippi?

7.) Restoring America’s standing in the world. Image has something to do with that. What do people overseas think when they look at how BushCo is practically letting New Orleans, reknowned internationally for her history and beauty, to rot? And why has Hillary been silent on this?

8.) A champion for women. Does Hillary even know that

One of the biggest post-Katrina challenges is the complete absence of consideration or special provisions to meet the needs of women. So many studies related to disaster or times of war and conflict show that women are one of the most vulnerable populations. Violence against women increases as well as their responsibilities since they are generally the primary caregivers for the elderly and children. Thereís been an invisibility toward the needs of women of color in the Gulf Coast region.

And this is corroborated by the Women’s Media Center, which also brings up increased violence against and other dangers to women. It says,

Of the estimated 142,000 New Orleans apartments or houses destroyed by the storm, nearly four-fifths were affordable to low-income families. People rendered homeless and unable to rebuild took refuge with extended family and friends. That gave them a place to call home but also left women and children vulnerable to sexual assault and domestic violence, says a new report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

The “overcrowding has led to abuse specifically linked to the Katrina experience,” said Avis A. Jones-DeWeever of the IWPR…In addition to overcrowding and an increased threat of domestic violence, women face problems involving health needs, childcare and jobs, among other issues….

Why hasn’t Hillary been a champion for New Orleans and other Gulf Region women?

9.) Comprehensive government reform. According to this recent diary, funds that were supposed to rebuild communities on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast have instead been diverted by Haley Barbour and Co. to projects in Jackson. Why has Hillary been overlooking the obvious need for comprehensive government reform in Mississippi?

10.) Reforming our immigration system. After her flooding, Latino immigrants have been flocking to New Orleans to work in construction, etc. Many are undocumented, and there’s also controversy because these immigrants will work for lower wages than will native-born Americans.

11.) An innovation agenda. This means various scientific and other investments in America’s future. And I’ve news for Hillary: Louisiana and Mississippi are part of America. Why doesn’t she seem to care about their future?

I’m wondering exactly what Hillary’s game is–I mean, for all I know, she seems to share the view obviously displayed by BushCo–that the Gulf Region (especially Louisiana) is not a part of America. I somehow find it hard to imagine Hillary similarly turning her back after a major disaster hits California or New York, for example. Maybe she’s written Louisiana off as a “Red” state. The following  conversation bears this out:

I’m torn on the whole “LA is a redder state” meme.  It’s useful to the extent that it illustrates Rove-ian manipulation of the process, but it’s detrimental if it causes the DCCC and the netroots to pass us over as lost causes.

by YatPundit on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 07:00:23 AM PST

Do you think…..

that the reason none of the Democrats have either New Orleans or Katrina on their issues pages could be because they’ve decided Louisiana is a lost cause?

We need to stand up against this…..

by Louisiana 1976 on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 10:23:06 AM PST

most definitely

we never were really on Clinton’s radar, and Obama surrogate Jesse Jackson Jr. has reduced us to a “black” issue as far as that campaign is concerned.  Edwards has been marginalized by the MSM for months now, in their desire to make this a two-horse race…..

by YatPundit on Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 10:53:37 AM PST

I also don’t think the fact that Jesse Jackson Jr. spoke out asking why Hillary Clinton didn’t cry over Katrina should “reduce” New Orleans to being a “black” issue–I mean, it was time somebody said something about her silence on the matter. I mean, bear with me for being cynical, but I wouldn’t be surprised if, after Obama’s Iowa victory and on hearing how the New Hampshire polls showed Obama ahead, one of Hillary’s handlers advised her to break up. Pity she wasn’t advised to break up regarding New Orleans and Katrina.

It would be wonderful if the candidates (of both parties) and the media took a good long look at what really happened in New Orleans and elsewhere in the Gulf Region and recognize the fact that it’s people of all races and colors who were affected by the storm and the flooding and are now in a world of hurt afterwards. The candidates and the media need a reality check on what’s going on. Because this is truly a national issue.


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  1. I hope that people take New Orleans into account when thinking of their candidate.

    Yes, this is a national issue and should still be hitting the Front Pages of news, as far as I’m concerned, to expose all the fraud and lack of progress thus far, etc.

    Thanks to you for your continual efforts to bring us into the fold (on-going) of the realities in New Orleans!

    Your essays on this topic are so thorough and appreciated!

  2. over the lack of recovery in NOLA? Why aren’t more of them talking about it? Not only is it a national issue, it is a moral issue, is clearly illustrates how much American leadership value ordinary Americans, yeah we want your vote but when tragedy magnified by incompetence and greed swallow your lives you suddenly become less useful, a potential cost, and a possible barrier to free market capitalism. It makes me ill.  

  3. I wrote just after Katrina about how important NOLA was to me. Here’s the story.

    And as time goes on, and on and on, and the disaster continues with no end in sight, it continues to break my heart.  I want the candidates to understand that NOLA and the entire Gulf Coast of LA and MS needs and deserves their attention.  And I want the candidates to compare what happened in the aftermath of Wilma destroying Cancun and the Tabasco Flooding with what has befallen NOLA.  I want them to demand an explanation of how the world’s largest economic superpower has allowed NOLA to continue in misery.

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