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10:06 pm EDT 72°F (22°C) in West Memphis, AR
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I survived (what was, by the time I ran into it) Tropical Depression Katrina quite easily. Most of Tuesday was a very rainy and windy day in Kentucky and middle Tennessee, but other than running into a few traffic jams caused by (probably weather-related) accidents, I got through it with no problems. Unfortunately, since my last update some 46 hours ago, it has been found that the same cannot be said for much of southeastern Louisiana, roughly the southern half of Mississippi, and the southwestern quadrant of Alabama, all of which Katrina devastated while still a hurricane.
Mere hours after I made that update, at least two flood walls and one levee in New Orleans gave way, and Lake Pontchartrain has been spilling over into the city ever since. The situation in the Crescent City has turned very dire because of the flooding; there is a very good chance that every structure that survives the floods will have to be demolished anyway, because of contamination issues from overflowing sewers, bodies disinterred by raging floodwaters from the city’s famous above-ground burial places, and vermin that usually inhabits the swamps to the southeast. Even the Louisiana Superdome, the city’s “refuge of last resort” for some 10,000 people who could not leave, had to be evacuated en masse yesterday; those people have now taken shelter at the Astrodome in Houston, TX, the former home of the NFL’s Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans) and baseball’s Astros (who now play at Minute Maid Park, née Enron Field).
Even worse yet for the hardy souls trying to reach New Orleans to render aid, the city is virtually inaccessible by land at this point. Interstate 10 over Lake Pontchartrain, to the east of New Orleans, is completely destroyed, and the floodwaters have severed I-10’s connections to the west at a railroad underpass in the suburb of Metairie. The only open connection into the city at this point is from the west (Baton Rouge) or northwest (Hammond via Interstate 55 southbound), involving Interstate 310 to U.S. Highway 90.
Although I quite clearly understand that athletic events are way the hell down the priority list at this point, I do have to wonder, as a football fan, what course of action the New Orleans Saints will have to take with the Superdome both flooded and damaged. I would have to imagine that the nearby Tulane Stadium is not an option either; they will probably have to play their “home” games outside of New Orleans. Unless the NFL can work out an arrangement under which the Saints would share Reliant Stadium with the Houston Texans, I would have to guess that the Saints would use Louisiana State University’s home field, Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.
Of course, this whole tragic disaster has been used by the oil companies (likely aided and abetted by the White House) to justify even more monetary rape of the American people at the gas pump. West Memphis, where I am parked this evening, has historically had some of the nation’s cheapest fuel, even in recent years when fuel began to creep over $2.00 per gallon. As of today, gasoline cannot be bought at the major truck stop chain locations in West Memphis for any less than a staggering $3.159 per gallon! The Flying J location here, in fact, raised its regular-unleaded price 16¢ per gallon in a matter of four hours this afternoon — it was $2.999 when I first pulled in here! Diesel fuel is still a wee bit more reasonable, running anywhere from $2.719 to $2.799, but even that is up about 30¢ per gallon from what I was noticing in similarly-cheap states in the last few days.
In areas that typically see higher fuel prices, the effects are even worse. I have heard some second-hand reports from my native Michigan that gasoline is running as high as $3.729 per gallon for regular unleaded in rural areas, and tonight’s CBS Evening News reported on an Atlanta, GA station charging $5.879! There is obviously some gouging going on, but do you think that King George the 43rd and Alberto “Torture is A-OK” Gonzales are going to do anything? Not while Georgie Boy and Halliburton, er, Dick “Go fuck yourself” Cheney, are raking in the dollars hand over fist, they ain't.
Before you righties even start to get the notion that I’ve gone off the deep end, let’s take a little look at reality, shall we? Georgie Boy was the one who started the war of choice in Iraq; in doing so, particularly by refusing to adequately deal with the insurgency, he has made Iraq so unstable that it is not possible to bring the oil infrastructure back on-line. They could be pumping 2½ million barrels of oil per day if everything were up and running, but at present, only a trickle is coming out of Iraq. This artificial supply “shortage” is what caused the run-up to $2.50 gasoline price levels in the first place, and Katrina has merely exacerbated the problem Bush started.
Think about it: if there were a true oil supply shortage, diesel fuel would surely cost roughly the same as regular unleaded gasoline. I mean, both of them come from the same crude oil, and the overall demand for both is strong and growing. Furthermore, you wouldn't see much, if any, difference in fuel prices among different vendors in the same location; in the event of a true oil shortage, every vendor would have equal difficulty obtaining fuel, and the prices would be very nearly even as a result. The fact that diesel fuel is running 30¢ to 50¢ cheaper per gallon than regular unleaded gasoline, and that there can be variance of as much as 20¢ among different vendors in the same location, is pretty clear and damning evidence that something nefarious is going on.
I’m well aware that Katrina took out several major refineries along the Gulf Coast, but we must consider another fact. The oil companies have been reporting record profits in the last several fiscal quarters; I know that I have mentioned here before that ExxonMobil reported a $7.6 billion profit for the second quarter of 2005 alone. If refinery capacity is such a major issue, doesn’t it seem logical that the oil companies would use some of these profits to build or expand refineries? Don’t give me that “the liberal weenie enviro-wackos won’t let any refineries be built” crap; it doesn’t work, because King George the 43rd is the one who has basically castrated the EPA and relaxed pollution laws. It would make perfect sense, in light of looser environmental regulations and record oil-company profits, that Bush could get his fellow Republicans to fast-track approvals for new refineries — but then again, you see, that wouldn’t serve his goal of making big bucks off his oil investments.
All of you red-staters need to take note: Bush, Cheney, Bush’s Saudi business partners, and oil company executives are getting fabulously wealthy off YOUR back. Is that what you were voting for last November? Can’t you see how Bush and Rove fooled you by using the great social red herring of same-sex marriage to cover up their misdeeds? “I sho’ can’t afford no three-fifty a gallon fo’ gas, but damn it, I hate them thar Yankee faggots! I gonna vote fo’ Bush, ’cuz he gonna put dem faggots in they place!” Suit yourself. You get to pay for your anti-Christian idiocy at the pump now.