"Sorry" Voted Most Popular, Beats Out "Safe"
NEW ORLEANS -- At 11 AM CDT, President Bush, accompanied by a contingent of the 101st Airborne Division, waded ashore to Jackson Square in the heart of the Latin Quarter.
Then, after being perched sidesaddle atop the famous statue of Andrew Jackson, the President addressed the nation and the stricken city.
"My fellow Americans: major combat operations in New Orleans have ended. In the battle of Louisiana, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.
"Let the Reconstruction begin."
Following the speech, commentators noted that the President's decision to attire himself in a frogsuit and brandish a speargun was a clever poke at the French origins of New Orleans, and a gesture which would endear him to his audience. Most agreed that the President's speech was a success.
On the subject of FEMA's (and the administration's) slow response to the crisis, pundits insist that it is all to the administration's credit.
"This is a litmus test of the President's ability to relate to the average voter," wrote Malcolm Gallstone of The Wall Street Journal, "a test he has passed with flying colors. Is the average NASCAR watcher supposed to know what to do in a catastrophe of this magnitude? I don't think so. And neither should the President. Only a pampered, overeducated elite knows -- or claims to know -- what measures to take. And, predictably, the Liberal Media is calling for FEMA and Homeland Security to be staffed with these high-minded do-gooders.
"But, Mr. Liberal Media, before you do anything so rash, you would do well to ask yourself -- does the American public really need or want your so-called charity? No, Mr. Liberal Media. The American public, and the American President, know what's really important: sinecures and no-bid contracts for the President's friends. Only then will the spirit of enterprise, now tragically dammed behind a levee of wasteful social programs, flow freely through the streets of New Orleans. Truly, a rising tide to lift all boats."
Demonstrating his aptitude for independent thought, President Bush has ordered FEMA to turn away relief efforts by the Red Cross. Normally, the Red Cross is a bulwark in times of crisis. However, the President, along with many loyal citizens, understands that the "Cross" in Red Cross is a tragic misnomer. In reality, the organization does not endorse any particular brand of Christianity.
Realizing that New Orleans requires spiritual as well as material aid, the President has called upon faith-based organizations to meet the challenge.
Among the organizations receiving federal funds for their assistance on the Gulf Coast are Pat Robertson's Operation Blessing, which has called for the assassination of any foreign heads of state found in New Orleans. Also slated to receive federal funding is Operation Rescue, which has vowed to save all unborn fetuses along the coast by 1) praying for them, and 2) by forming cordons to cut off supplies from area hospitals that offer family-planning services.
Finally, many religious leaders have vowed to disobey activist judges who block their efforts to cleanse New Orleans of its moral wickedness. Legal obstructions would be counterproductive, the leaders claim, because it is the lack of moral values which precipitated this disaster in the first place.
Many might ask: what will be the fate of New Orleans?: After this week, when the cameras leave and the news programming returns full-time to celebrity pedophilia, the hearts of many of us will continue weigh heavily with this question.
Although firm predictions are premature, a multitude of options is percolating at the federal, state, and even local levels.
One option that appears unlikely, but which has not been entirely ruled out, stems from the great number of faith-based aid workers currently in the city.
"I can't speak for all of us, but I personally know a lot of aid workers, who, in their nightly prayers, pray for all that water to turn into wine," says aid worker Peter Piper of the organization Mission Accomplished.
One result of such a miracle would be that the city's remaining holdouts would have no chance of passing a breathalyzer test. They would then swiftly be booked with DUIs, and safely incarcerated on higher ground. Their uncertain futures would no longer be so uncertain.
Finally, and most happily, the shady element would be removed from the city. The more industrious and prosperous residents of New Orleans could then return, and rebuild the city in a style more suited to their aspirations.
A longer-term solution might take into account New Orleans' current status as a federal disaster area. Since the city and all its land is under federal jurisidiction, it may be sold under the terms of an 1872 federal mining law that states "All valuable mineral deposits on lands belonging to the United States...shall be free and open to exploration and purchase."
The city would become the nation's first mineral-water mine. Its land would go to contractors for the industry-standard price of about five dollars an acre.
"New Orleans is really a diamond in the rough," says mining-industry expert Walton Hardtack. "Water is our most precious and scarce resource. And here's New Orleans, chock-full of it. Surely by now that water is nice and hard from exposure to all those rusting vehicles that all those Southerners liked to keep in their front yards. It's practically ready for bottling."
Standard strip-mining procedures would be observed, though without some of the unsightly side effects that normally tarnish the industry's public image. For example, there would be no need to shear off mountaintops and dump them into streams and rivers.
Still, warns Hardtack, it won't be easy. "People have no idea how much raw material it takes to refine a bottle of mineral water. To produce a twelve-ounce bottle of Brownsluice Springs could easily require a hectare of Latin Quarter."
Nevertheless, in these uncertain times, it pays to know where our vulnerabilities lie. If the terrorists know that we have a domestic source of mineral water that could supply Americans for months, it makes their job harder -- and our children safer.
But how do we address the long-term environmental degradation that contributed to the flood? Well-known is the problem of the disappearance of Louisiana's coastal wetlands, which normally protect inland areas from storm surges. Less well-known is a solution to the problem.
Though some hardliners dispute whether the disappearance of Louisiana's wetlands is caused by man and not by some as-yet-unknown natural process, most in the administration understand that the problem is real and must be dealt with.
The key may lie with a recent EPA study. Under Bush, the EPA concluded that many of the natural functions that wetlands provide, such as water filtration, can be served equally well by golf courses.
While expensive, the positives to such a project would be manifold. Not only would golf courses provide a bulwark against future floods along the Louisiana coast. The gentrification that golf courses provide would also serve as a bulwark against the racking poverty which the state is usually known for.
For critics who worry about an exodus of Cajuns flooding north and taking jobs from hardworking Americans, this plan's proponents have an answer. Instead of remaining rootless and unproductive, the area's poor could be hired as caddies.
Then, instead of wondering about their place in a consumer-driven society, the poor be proud of their newly gainful employment. Employment as water carriers and human levees, protecting the rest of us from danger and sacrifice.
What could possibly go wrong?