Hello out there! Last week I was on, uh, vacation in Washington DC, which looks more and more appealing each time I visit when compared to the brain-freeze that is New York. Too much too soon and boy what a headache! During that time, I received a request from my sivilicious friend to weigh in on the disaster in New Orleans. Well, where do I begin?
First of all, it was reported/warned a few years ago that the levees in New Orleans could break under the force of a hurricane even weaker than Katrina, so I heard, and that they urgently needed reinforcement. However, I heard that the money allotted to do this was somehow directly or indirectly spent on a certain skirmish in the middle east. Funds were also taken away from FEMA as it was swallowed up by the Department of Homeland Security. Conversely, I read in a column in the Washington Post by conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, who was trying his best to be egalitarian but to no avail, that the levees were "finished work". I doubted that, and then I heard at some point on MSNBC that although work on the levees had been done, they had sunken a foot or two over the past five years thanks to the rising of the seas due to the effects of global warming, and there was no maintenance done on them after that. So you see, I'm not exactly clear on this issue, nor are journalists apparently. But let's take the point to be that the reinforcement of the levees was insufficient for whatever reason and the money earmarked for the repair and maintenance of the levees disappeared under quite mysterious circumstances.
Bush's comment that "no one could have foreseen a breach of the levees" was a bunch of crap and basically a carbon copy of Miss Condi's comment to the 9/11 commission. Not only that, but he uses the words "natural disaster" with an emphasis on the "natural" every chance he gets in reference to the storm. In other words, "so there was a storm and the levees broke and thousands of people are dead. What do you want me to do about it?" The reality is the federal government is responsible for coordinating ANY kind of action by departments and offices falling under their juridiction, and this administration's unwillingness to accept blame is basically a "Yes, I'm CEO of this company but my own failures are directly attributed to the ineptitude of my assistants" kind of rhetoric. I have not forgotten the Bush administration's promise to encourage a climate of responsibility and accountability in America. Way to set an example, by splitting hairs. Bush proposes to lead an investigation, which will no doubt vindicate him completely as he wants to lead it himself, to see "what went right and what went wrong" in this whole disaster. What's even worse is that some think Bush should be absolved of some blame because, after all, he did come home early from his vacaton and hey, at least he showed up. And why, they ask, can't anyone do anything without Bush "holding their hand?" Well, numbnuts, he's the fucking commander-in-chief, and there is no team without a captain.
A lot of people will say that some blame rests on the heads of the local Louisiana government. Of this I have no doubt, although I hesitate to believe that the mayor of a city would stand by and let his citizens literally float away or drown. Stories fly back and forth that those authorities did not request aid quickly enough, which is a laughable excuse, and did not have the resources in place to evacuate the city sooner. The latter is absolutely true. After 9/11 and an always elevated terrorist threat-o-meter/election ploy, they should have taken their own inititative and devised clearer routes for evacuation rather than keeping the "every man for himself" plan. But here again the federal government needed to issue the order for every state to proceed on this. If that's not right, then what the hell are we doing paying for a department of homeland security?
As for Kanye West's comment that Bush hates black people, OK, I'll agree with that, to a certain extent. It is hidden under Bush's disgust for the poor, and it just so happens that the poor in this country are disproportionately black. I wonder: What if the residents of downtown New Orleans happened to be the beneficiaries of Bush's tax cuts? How about affluent black folks? Would it have been easier for Bush to roll out of bed? How about if the mayor of New Orleans was white or Asian? People in Louisiana actually voted for Bush, so this is a betrayal of the highest order. I would almost understand if he told New York to drop dead, since NY is overwhelmingly democratic/liberal and the city is chock full of Bush haters. However, more than anything else, Bush's delayed reaction was a result of sheer laziness. The man has never stepped up to the plate until well after the ball has been pitched and caught. Case in point, the publicity stunt he chose to go ahead with while planes flew into the World Trade Center and three thousand people died. This president is truly amazing. He kills thousands of people without being anywhere near them. How's that for a jinx? In New York City, Washington, Pennsylvania, Iraq and now New Orleans, probably about 7 or 8 thousand people have died and Bush is to blame.
I was reading today in the NY Times (OK looking over some lady's shoulder on the 7 train) about this woman who keeps tons of dried eggs, wheat and water stocked fin case of catastrophe. She fully realized that she was going to extremes, but said that having seen the delayed reaction to Katrina, no one could afford to wait for the government. "You'll die before they come."