we're totally fucked

A blanket covers the body of a woman who died in a wheelchair, and another body is wrapped in a sheet Thursday at the convention center in New Orleans. [CNN caption]

If we actually were to be the victim of a major deliberate attack any time in the near future it's now certified that we have no plan, no defense, no means of recovery. This was just a big storm, a very big storm, but just a storm, and there's no radiation or poison weaponry involved, yet it's been five days and virtually no help of any kind has arrived for our good neighbors, the people of New Orleans. They're dying in the attics, on the roofs and in the hell of the "shelters."

This time even the major commercial media can't keep quiet about the incompetence of what passes for government today in our benighted land:

New Orleans hospitals desperate as food runs low

The Associated Press

Doctors at two desperately crippled hospitals in New Orleans called The Associated Press Thursday morning pleading for rescue, saying they were nearly out of food and power and had been forced to move patients to higher floors to escape looters.

"We have been trying to call the mayor's office, we have been trying to call the governor's office ... we have tried to use any inside pressure we can. We are turning to you. Please help us," said Dr. Norman McSwain, chief of trauma surgery at Charity Hospital, the larger of two public hospitals.

. . . .

Earlier, McSwain described horrific conditions in his hospital.

"There is no food in Charity Hospital. They're eating fruit bowl punch and that's all they've got to eat. There's minimal water," McSwain said.

"Most of their power is out. Much of the hospital is dark. The ICU (intensive care unit) is on the 12th floor, so the physicians and nurses are having to walk up floors to see the patients."

Dr. Lee Hamm, chairman of medicine at Tulane University, said he took a canoe from there to the two public hospitals, where he also works, to check conditions.

"The physicians and nurses are doing an incredible job, but there are patients laying on stretchers on the floor, the halls were dark, the stairwells are dark. Of course, there's no elevators. There's no communication with the outside world," he said.

"We're afraid that somehow these two hospitals have been left off ... that somehow somebody has either forgotten it or ignored it or something, because there is no evidence anything is being done."

Hamm said there was relief Wednesday as word traveled throughout University Hospital that the National Guard was coming to evacuate them, but the rescue never materialized.

"You can imagine how demoralizing that was," he said.

And here is the Reuters lead headline at this moment (try to get past the racist analogy and digest the substance of the story):

Bodies, gunfire and chaos in New Orleans' streets

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Rotting bodies littered the flooded streets of New Orleans on Thursday and mounting violence threatened to turn into all-out anarchy as thousands of survivors of Hurricane Katrina pleaded to be evacuated, or even just fed.

The historic jazz city has fallen prey to armed looters since Katrina tore through and it now more closely resembles Haiti or another Third World trouble spot in a refugee crisis than one of America's most popular vacation centers.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco warned rioters and looters late on Thursday that National Guard troops were under her orders to "shoot and kill" if needed to restore order.

"These troops are battle-tested. They have M-16s and are locked and loaded," she said. "These troops know how to shoot and kill and I expect they will."

Police units, rescue teams and even hospital workers came under gunfire on Thursday and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin pleaded for urgent help in getting thousands of evacuees to safety. "This is a desperate SOS," he said.

People became increasingly frustrated at the slow pace of rescue and evacuation efforts a full three days after Katrina tore up the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Elderly people in wheelchairs braved flooded streets in search of help, and entire families were trapped on elevated highways without food or water in sweltering heat.

"We want help," people chanted at the city convention center, where thousands of evacuees were told to seek shelter only to find woefully inadequate supplies of food or water.

Several corpses lay in nearby streets. The body of one elderly woman was simply abandoned in her wheelchair, covered with just a blanket. Officials feared thousands of people were killed but they could still only guess at the death toll.

And all the suits and uniforms seem to be thinking about is how to put down "looting" by desperate people reduced to nothing. Fifty thousand troops have been promised, no, threatened, and they have orders to shoot, but still there is no sign of food, nor water, nor rescue, nor means of evacuation from the city, nor decent shelter once they get out.

We are truly fucked, and next time it won't be mostly just the poor, the old, the sick and the powerless.

[image, photographer uncredited, from CNN]