Friday, September 02, 2005

More thoughts on New Orleans



Bush is not to blame for the levees breaking. This may shock some people. The levees have been the Achilles heel of New Orleans for possibly as long as it has been in existence, and people knew that. When I was down there in college - over ten years ago - people knew that the levees were only built to withstand about a category three hurricane and after that who knew what would happen. And even if Bush had fully - overfully - funded all requests for levee maintenance and strengthening, it wouldn't have been enough, but too little too late. This was a instance that was going to happen - the question was when.

HOWEVER, Bush and co. are lying in two instances. When McClellan (?) said "We didn't know the levees would break," he made it sound like no one had thought of this idea. Bullcrap. TV reports warned of it as Katrina was coming up, newspapers mentioned it, the "Atlantis scenario" now come to pass was brought up. This was foreseeable and feared, and for them to act like it was something no one could have thought of is obscene and simply untrue.

Equally obscene, but par for the course, is the claim from McClellan that "Flood control has been a priority of this administration from day one." Horse crap. From The Carpetbagger Report, we see the SELA budget - the organization in Louisiana tasked with levees - was cut, in some cases drastically. In 2004, they got 20% of what they asked for. This is MOST DEFINITELY NOT "a priority." It is a lie. Hindsight is 20-20, of course, and had they known this would happen they would have funded it (although too little too late, and many people are to blame here, from New Orleans and Louisiana governments to American Congresses and Presidents back to...Hell, pick someone, almost). BUT - to go back and make it sound like they were ALWAYS on the ball here and this happened in spite of their best efforts and support and funding...well, it's a flat out lie. I don't mind errors like these - I do mind when people try and rewrite history to erase their part in the errors.

Now, where Bush and co. DO hold responsibility has been the piss-poor relief and rescue effort. I do not think they could have snapped their fingers and made it all better. I don't think there was a miracle they failed to do. But I'm not even seeing any hint of competence here, much less a miracle! The situation in New Orleans is anarchy, and FEMA and Homeland Security have been simply awful - unless, of course, you listen to their spokesmen, who feel they done the best they could. Folks, if THIS is the best they can do, we don't need terrorists. We can just let them continue their debacles. It's been almost four years since 9/11. It looks like FEMA/Homeland Security haven't progressed past the day after it. Bush set up this organization, championed it. He better get in there and fix it, because I think a lot of people are wondering exactly what they've been doing.

The responses of Republican officials makes them seem like the worst caricatures some people have made them out to be. If a die-hard Democrat had made a list of "Worst things they could do to make them look bad", the Republicans would have been following it like a checklist. You have Bush waiting until the last day of his vacation to cut it short (compare this to how he reacted during Terri Schaivo) and then mugging with a guitar, and when he finally DID get around to addressing the disaster he sounds like a sixth-grader at a play. You have Hastert asking if we should even rebuild New Orleans; which is a justifiable question FOR AFTER THE RESCUE AND RELIEF, not in the...well, I would say middle, but how far have they gone, really? Ken Mehlman, during what will be the worst natural disaster to hit the United States in his lifetime, decides the major priority of the Republican Party should be...repeal of the estate tax. (from the Moderate Voice) That was an e-mail sent out on 9/1. AN E-MAIL! Something that could be canceled! There was no mention of the Katrina disaster at all. Talk about being out of touch. These are the kinds of missteps that would call for a loss of confidence vote in England.

However, again, Bush is not reason the levees failed. Frankly, New Orleans and Louisiana bear much of the blame for that. You can certainly blame him for the pathetic efforts from FEMA and Homeland Security, and how he and his administration has reacted.

But while you do that, give some money to help out. So far, the government is doing a lousy job. Step in and do better.

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