Its totally wiped out....Its devastating. Its got to be doubly devastating on the ground. George W. Bush, viewing New Orleans from Air Force One, 31 August 2005.
I dont think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. George W. Bush, 1 September 2005.
Brownie, youre doing a heck of a job. George W. Bush, to FEMA director Michael Brown, 2 September 2005.
Weve got a lot of rebuilding to do... The good news isand its hard for some to see it nowthat out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lotts househes lost his entire housetheres going to be a fantastic house. And Im looking forward to sitting on the porch. George W. Bush, touring devastation in Mobile, AL, 2 September 2005.
What didnt go right? George W. Bush, to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who requested Browns dismissal for incompetence, 7 September 2005.
I also want to encourage anybody who was affected by Hurricane Corina to make sure their children are in school. First Lady Laura Bush, twice referring to Katrina as Corina while speaking to evacuees, South Haven, MS, 8 September 2005.
What Im hearing which is sort of scary is that they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this (chuckle)this is working very well for them. Former First Lady Barbara Bush, on the flood evacuees in the Houston Astrodome, 5 September 2005.
Now, tell me the truth, boys, is this kind of fun? House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), to three young New Orleans evacuees at the Houston Astrodome, 9 September 2005.
We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldnt do it, but God did. Representative Richard Baker (R-LA), to lobbyists, as quoted in the Wall Street Journal, 9 September 2005.
Hurricane Katrina will go down as the most costly natural disaster in US history to date, with total loss of life likely to rival 9/11, a rebuilding cost certainly in excess of $200 billion, and virtually an entire American city submerged. The complete failure of government at all levels which this event revealed, and the enormous expenditures it will require, class it as a Black Hole event par excellence, swallowing resources, evoking strange, parallel reality images, and exposing the true realities behind surface appearances. Upwards of a million people have had their lives uprooted in virtually the twinkling of an eye, changed forever in ways that make them completely unrecognizable from what went before, with loss of home, job, community, all possessions and continuity; this is Black Hole energy with a vengeance.
The world was treated to the spectacle of its sole superpower, the most developed nation on earth, unable to feed, house and provide security, medical assistance or basic sanitary conditions for a large population of its citizens, even when granted several days advance notice to do so. The soft underbelly of the Bush administration has been not just exposed, but sliced open, dissected and read for augury: the signs are not favorable. Their unpreparedness, ineptitude, and unconcern have been highlighted in bold relief to an electorate which is quickly degenerating into two polarized camps, of realists and true believers.
The chart for Katrinas landfall in Louisiana, set for 6:10 AM CDT Monday, 29 August 2005, at New Orleans, is extremely revealing, both on the suprapersonal level of Deep Space points, and the intimate level of named asteroids which reflect the dynamics of the event.
First, the Sun at 6 Virgo is conjunct Black Hole Tiamat at 7 Virgo, a conjunction which became exact later that night as the foundered levees broke, deluging the city in as much as 20 feet of water. Tiamat is an ancient Mesopotamian divinity, a goddess of chaos and the abyss depicted as living in the sea and giving rise to hurricanes, whom Marduk slew, creating the heavens and the earth from her flayed body. In true Black Hole reversal-of-reality style, the images of New Orleans under water, entire Gulf Coast communities leveled, bloated bodies floating in flooded streets or eaten by rats, masses of citizens trapped in their own squalor, dying of thirst or lack of medicine or medical attention, and citizens left behind who were looting and firing on rescue workers, contrasted sharply with the perception of New Orleans as the fun-loving Big Easy, and of America as a land of wealth and order.
Opposed the Sun was transit Uranus, at 8 Pisces just fresh from his conjunction with Quasar Marduk at 6 Pisces, lending the air of sudden devastation on a massive scale (Quasars highlight and bring into the forefront of consciousness whatever they contact). Traveling with Uranus and just approaching conjunction with the Quasar was asteroid Hazard at 3 Pisces, an apt celestial reference for the toxic stew which became the New Orleans streets, a heady mix of sewage, toxic waste, garbage, debris and rotting animal and human carcases.
There was much other galactic activity as well: the Maser at 27 Taurus was exactly conjunct the Midheaven, while Black Hole Hekate at 28 Aquarius hugged the Descendant at 29. Maser energy is extremely erratic and debilitating, often violent and uncontrolled; the activation of an additional Black Hole reinforces the world-turned-upside-down quality of the Suns conjunction with Tiamat. The Nadir was closely conjunct a manifestation-evoking Quasar at 28 Scorpio; security was the most pressing issue after relief and rescue in the aftermath of the tragedy, and New Orleans has been changed and transformed to its very foundations.
Mars at 16 Taurus, denoting the loss of life and the violence which broke out in the days immediately following the storm, was exactly conjunct Black Hole Eurydice at 16 Taurus, a particularly poignant mythic image of loss, and of being unable to do more than look back at what has been taken away forever. Neptune at 15 Aquarius is squared Mars and conjunct an information-evoking Pulsar, which often denotes a major news story; Neptunes connection with water and the sea is of course obvious, but he also rules the TV media and floods in general, as well as the oil whose smooth distribution was disrupted by the devastation.
Close by Mars/deaths side was asteroid Flood; at 13 Taurus she formed an exact galactic T-Square with the volatile Maser at 13 Leo and Black Hole Attis at 13 Aquarius. New Orleans had a thriving gay community, and Attis connection with gays is apparent (Attis castrated himself when his mother Kybele conceived an unnatural passion for him, and the priests of his cult in ancient Asia Minor were homosexual prostitutes), but his is not the only gay mythic name strongly linked to the landfall chart. Asteroid Antinous, named for the Roman Emperor Hadrians male lover, deified after his drowning in the Nile, and whose cult at one time threatened to eclipse that of Jesus the Christ, stands conjunct with transit Mercury, ruling the dikes and pumping infrastructure, as well as the overwhelmed sewage and water systems, and the downed communications, at 19 Leo.
The Moon, representing the population as well as their needs for sustenance, sanitation and medical assistance, and herself a metaphor for the sea, was exactly conjunct the Quasar at 8 Cancer, evoking the surfeit of water and the devastation it wreaked, and imperiling the populace.
Additional asteroids have quite a tale to tell as well. There are two which are name variants for Katrina. First, Katherina, which at 22 Sagittarius was closely conjunct holocaust-evoking, transformative Pluto at 21. Second is Ekaterina, which at 15 Leo was closely squared Mars and opposed sea god Neptune, conjunct Mercury/Antinous, and also conjunct the energetically-erratic Maser at 13 Leo. Oddly, asteroid Dike (named for a Greek goddess but a homonym for the English word for sea wall) at 25 Gemini was conjunct the Quasar at 26 Gemini and opposed both Pluto and the Galactic Center at 26 Sagittarius. Quasars evoke larger than life manifestation, circumstances which, for good or ill, are well nigh impossible to ignore, and GC contacts often indicate a high level of general interest or universality to an event. New Orleans importance as the nations fourth largest port and a nexus for oil transportation and refinement has meant ripples felt throughout the US economy, focusing on gas prices well in excess of $3 per gallon, a situation impacting a huge number of Americans who otherwise have no direct ties to Louisiana.
Squaring the Sun was asteroid Atlantis, named for the fabled sunken civilization, at 6 Sagittarius; and opposed the Moon was asteroid Poseidon at 11 Capricorn, named for the Greek god of the sea and floods. Also with Atlantis was asteroid Ulysses at 8 Sagittarius, that most famous of ancient mariners, who spent ten years on storm-tossed seas trying to return home; his Greek original, asteroid Odysseus, was paired with Pluto at 18 Sagittarius, and in trine to Mercury/Antinous. Icarus, the rash and daring youth who flew too close to the Sun on waxen wings, only to plunge to his death into the sea, was also conjunct Pluto at 16 Sagittarius.
Even stranger are some of the more mundane connections. This incident has arguably formed the nadir of the Bush presidency, and we find asteroid Busch conjunct the manifestation-evoking Quasar on the landfalls Nadir at 28 Scorpio. Quasars show us in our truest essence, and asteroid Busch at the Nadir has shown President Bush not as the decisive leader and problem-solver the GOP spin machine paints him, but in his true colors, as a vacillating, indecisive, ineffectual front man who is in way over his head in his current occupation.
Adding to this revelation is asteroid George, which, also conjunct a Quasar at 4 Taurus, is, incredibly, exactly opposed asteroid Storm, conjunct another Quasar at 4 Scorpio. The Storm has surely shown us George for what he is. Standing beside Storm is asteroid Fireman at 6 Scorpio, exactly sextile the Sun and conjunct Black Hole Dionysos at 7 Scorpio. Theres a funny story about George and firemen which well be discussing later...
But first, one more named asteroidBlancoseems appropriate. Representative of Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco, she lies at 6 degrees of leadership-oriented Aries, square the Moon/Quasar at 8 Cancer, in trine to chief executive Saturn at 5 Leo and inconjunct Katrinas Sun at 6 Virgo.
We should speak briefly about the chart of New Orleans herself, and Katrinas interaction with her.
Incorporated 17 February 1805, New Orleans sports an exact Sun/Neptune square, indicating the constant struggle between the citys very existence (Sun) and the hazards of water (Neptune) as well as the importance of oil in her economy. Falling at 28 Aquarius and Scorpio respectively, the citys natal Sun/Neptune square lies exactly on the Descendant and Nadir of Katrinas landfall. New Orleans Pluto, the power both of destruction and regeneration, at 8 Pisces forms an exact match for the landfalls disruptive Uranus. Her stellium of Saturn, Moon and Uranus at 15 through 20 of Libra forms a close conjunction with both Katrinas stellium of Venus, South Node, and Jupiter at 14, 15 & 18 Libra, and George W. Bushs stellium of Chiron, Moon, and Jupiter at 15, 16 & 18 Libra, as well as the USA Saturn, representing the presidency itself, at 14 Libra. (Incredibly, this means Dubya was having a Jupiter Return when Katrina struck! Not the kind of luck Id brag about, but, karmically, probably quite apt.)
The nations Moon at 26 Aquarius conjoins New Orleans Sun and Katrinas Descendant; the nation feels this loss emotionally, and struggles to understand the dramatic change in its relationship with the Crescent City. A national outpouring of relief assistance and charity highlights the intimate involvement of the American people with this tragedy. Further, Dubyas Mars at 9 Virgo, exactly conjunct Black Hole Apsu, is also conjunct Katrinas Sun at 6 Virgo; his actions, or lack of them, were pivotal in determining the federal response and the severity or ease of relief efforts in the aftermath.
All in all, the Bushies didnt do so well in this crisis, a circumstance which has contributed further to Dubyas poll slide, with approval ratings now in the mid to upper thirty percent in most polls. Two images recorded at the time of Katrinas impact on New Orleans may well depict the Bush attitude to the suffering she wreaked. In a bizarre combination of Roman Emperor Nero and French Queen Marie Antoinette, two of the most notoriously isolated and self-centered individuals of all time, Dubya spent parts of the 29th and 30th of August making music and eating cake.
On August 29, the day Katrina slammed into the Louisiana coast and overwhelmed New Orleans defenses, Bush appeared at a 69th birthday celebration for Arizona Senator John McCain, where they let him eatcake. Marie Antoinette would have been proud.
On the 30th, the morning after the levees had broken and deluged the city, trapping thousands of Americans, Bush flew out of his Texas ranch; not to see to New Orleans rescue, but to give a speech at Coronado Naval Base in California, commemorating the 60th anniversary of VJ Day. Afterward, he spent some time strumming a guitar given him by country singer Mark Wills. Nero fiddled while Rome burned, Dubya picked and grinned while New Orleans drowned.
Caught at the tail end of his five-week vacation in Crawford, Texas, Dubya sat on his hands and did nothing in advance of the storm, waiting until two days afterward for a fly-over of the Gulf on Air Force One, from 2500 feet up. Black Hole Mars natives can be that way. Quick to anger, long on resentment, they may find action, particularly in crisis situations, to be beyond them. It is as if the Black Hole has absorbed their capacity to react without prompting, carefully guarding the vast reserves of energy it has hoarded. Aides finally had to create a DVD of Katrinas greatest hits and force the commander in chief to sit down in front of the TV and watch it on the Friday after, four days later, before the notoriously isolated and incurious George could wrap his mind around the scope of the disaster.
Vice President Dick Cheney was AWOL as well, and didnt resurface in Washington or so much as make a statement until the Saturday after; he had been shopping for a $2.9 million mansion, a weekend retreat on the Chesapeake Bay, and couldnt be bothered. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, some of whose troops would be committed to the rescue and relief efforts, continued his vacation in California with a San Diego Padres ball game the night the levees broke. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, whose department would be instrumental in coordinating offers of aid from foreign governments, remained in New York, taking in a show of the Monty Python musical Spamalot, and buying pairs of thousand-dollar shoes at Ferragamos, where she was verbally accosted by a fellow shopper, appalled at Ms. Rices indifference to the circumstances unfolding in the Gulf. Condi had security physically remove the woman from her presence.
Of course, the administrations complicity in the tragedy extends well beyond their inaction in the early days of the crisis. The tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico has much to do with the tragedy in that other gulf, the Persian Gulf. Resources which might have made all the difference have been redirected to Bushs Oil War in Iraq. Money which had been allocated for a repair and reinforcement of the levee walls that protect New Orleans was cut from the budget, diverted specifically for the war effort, and changes in wetlands protection policies under Bush left the city more exposed to the effects of storm surge than it would otherwise have been.
Additionally, a third of Louisianas National Guard, and half their equipment, were serving overseas at the time Katrina struck, and thus unavailable for the missions for which they were primarily trained, helping out in just such crises.
Finally, Bushs patented brand of compassionate capitalist cronyism had placed as FEMA director one Michael Brown, a man with absolutely no experience in disaster relief, formerly a lawyer for the International Arabian Horse Association, whose primary qualifications were that he was a Bush insider and the college roommate of the former FEMA director, Joe Allbaugh.
The humanitarian disaster apparently did not faze the administration, but once the enormity of the PR disaster became apparent, however, the White House spin machine went into overdrive. GOP supporters touted the failures in this crisis of the New Orleans mayor and the Louisiana governor, both conveniently Democratic, and did not forget to focus our attention on the culpability of bedridden nursing home residents who failed to evacuate themselves before the waters rose above their noses.
Dubyas initial unconcern has been replaced by an almost hectoring ubiquity on the Gulf Coast, with five walking disaster tours and a live address to the nation from New Orleans in little more than a week. But the live and spontaneous quality of these visits has left something to be desired.
Enter the firemen. On the Gulf Coast, local first responders were getting burnt out after days of rescue and relief efforts, but thousands of New Orleans residents remained stranded and isolated. On the weekend after the disaster, Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans pleaded for replacements on national television, so his own people could get some much-needed rest. Over a thousand firefighters from across the nation were assembled by FEMA in Atlanta, and given... eight hours of community relations training, including a class on sexual harassment. The FEMA plan? Using these highly trained rescue workers as PR officers, distributing FEMA flyers to evacuees and victims. But a small portion of them, 50 in fact, had a higher calling. Told to grab their gear and go, these brave souls were yanked from the conference and flown at top speed to Louisiana, where they were instructed to stand beside Dubya at his photo op.
Helicopters were flown in and placed strategically in the background. Evacuated children were cleaned upnot TOO much, a certain sense of pathos was desiredand placed within head-tousling distance; emergency aid stations were set up, food and water piled high for imminent distribution (these would be quietly dismantled once Dubya moved on, the region left to its debris and its corpses).
Enter the President of the United States, surrounded by axe-toting rescue workers. Cue refugee children; pump the blades of those whirly-birds; big smiles, now, as we feed the victims.
Click-click those cameras, brave media. Your Emperor, Master of the Free World, has arrived.