* Above, the eye-wall of Hurricane Katrina. Source: NOAA.
That tropical cool-cat Barack Obama is inaugurated today as the 44th President of the United States. Un-journalistically, let me give you some thoughts about this. While Mexico by my reading remains generally indifferent or outright suspicious, personally I can't say I feel anything more than relief. As a planet we have suffered for the last eight years tremendous amounts of willful destruction and psychic injury. So, relief for today, but we can't begin forgetting yesterday.
This is why I'd like to mark this occasion by recalling the victims of Hurricane Katrina. To say nothing of the war in Iraq, the thousands of dead at the U.S.-Mexico border, the ruined economy, the stripping of Constitutional rights, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, etc. and etc., let's think back to September 2005, when all of the incompetence and ideological hostility of the Bush administration and its political machine emerged as directly or indirectly responsible for a still unknown number of deaths and the leveling of New Orleans. I remember so clearly the sapping agony, the anger, the sense of helplessness that enveloped the mood of every-day life as knowledge of the awesome devastation and human toll trickled out of the Gulf Coast. It was an event that shamed not only the federal government but every living American and any world citizen with a sense of dignity and duty to one's fellow man.
Obama's election marks a repudiation of that form of government -- irresponsible, impetuous, hijacked -- and its fatal consequences. Now this Hawaiian head of state will stand in the eye of the storm he's inherited. The man can't and won't "save" the world, but he will at least try to mend some of the damage and official dementia that haunts us. Can't do much else, really.
Today, celebrate, but also remember. In doing so, I invite you to listen to "Dry Drunk Emperor," the free track the band TV on the Radio released in remembrance of the victims of Katrina, still back in those dark days. The song is an artifact, a witness, an indicment, a prayer. You can download it here.