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Posted by aaron at 08:00AM, Thursday, December 09th, 2004

Bush and Katrina

The one thing that the federal response to the hurricane devastation makes clear is that, under Bush, the nation is utterly unable to deal with a disaster -- be it natural, or terrorist-made.

It's disturbing, to say the least, that law and order broke down so quickly in New Orleans.

It's disturbing that, almost exactly four years after 9/11, we have seen that the Department of Homeland Security, created in the wake of the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, and the takeover of the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, for exactly these kinds of situations, was utterly ineffective.

Of course, it's not surprising, in this day and age, under the rule of a government with a new-found enthusiasm for discrimination, that aid should be slow to arrive to a largely-black city, where not a lot of congresspeople make their homes. (It should be surprising, but I'm cynical enough about Republican priorities to be realistic here.)

It is surprising that a lot of the problem in the short-term reaction appears to be not so much a matter of federal priorities (as the long-term funding for Army Corps of Engineers projects clearly was), as it was a result of incompetence. There appears to have been a staggering amount of exactly the kind of inter-governmental miscommunication that Homeland Security was supposed to have been created in order to eliminate. Officials at FEMA and the DoD appear to have had no plans for getting information -- and thus, they got no up-to-date information. They appear to have had no plans for an evacuation -- and thus, there was no ordered evacuation, only the un-managed assembly points at the Superdome and that convention center. They appear to have had no idea of the sorts of procedures that are effective for coordinating local, state, and federal relief efforts. And there appears to have been no one in the Bush Administration itself running the show, what with Rice, Bush, the Secretary of Defense, and the Vice President all on vacation.

It's terrifying that, while Bush was busy staging photo ops, people were still trying to get out of New Orleans by whatever means they could find, facing down armed looters and the scant representatives of government power, who were acting more like thugs, themselves. If there is another Al Qaeda terrorist attack on American Soil, who can guarantee that, within a couple days, you or I might not be defending our homes from looters and armed, poorly-trained, and low-morale national guard and military troops, doing exactly what they do in Iraq, terrified of us and with twitchy trigger fingers, only this time pointing their weapons at Americans?

Clearly, this is a bungle on many levels. We've seen the administration fail to take any responsibility for the deaths and property loss. They make excuses, like saying people were at the White House communcation's director's wedding. You're the team that runs the country. That's just not an excuse. They lie, saying "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees," when the funding cuts that Bush himself enacted were in spite of repeated, urgent warnings from the Army Corps of Engineers. We've seen Bush laughing about coming back to visit Trent Lott's condo, while people were still dying without access to drinking water and medicine. We've certainly seen the latent racism and classism evinced by his mom's statement that being offered the gracious hospitality of Texas was all "working very well" for the underprivileged evacuees, so they had nothing to complain about. But, even more worrying, we've seen the utter incompetence of this administration. Without Rove wielding tight reins on Bush, the administration is utterly unable to avoid putting its foot in its mouth, let alone manage a crisis.

We're told that Bush "won" the last election because people had trusted him on matters of national security. Those of us with brains have known all along what a joke that was. Now everyone else, even the sycophantic brown-nosers in the television media, has seen what a farce that belief was. Four years after 9/11, four years of supposedly doing everything in the government's power to prepare for catastrophes of this magnitude, whether caused by biological, airplane, explosive, or nuclear attack, or by natural phenomena, and the result is a response orders of magnitude worse than that on 9/11. This time, no one can blame the Democrats. We haven't had any power for years. And, frankly, the response was much better back when we were in charge, or had been recently.

Why does America put up with these evil cretins? Because they claim to support our troops, while lying their way into profitable wars where the troops get slaughtered, while cutting benefits and pay, and failing to provision armor?

Because they're good for the economy? Oops, that didn't happen.

Because their close relationship with the energy industry will mean Americans get better deals for gas and power? That didn't work for California in the Summer of 2001, and it's sure not working for us now, with gas three times more expensive than it was when Bush took office.

Because they'd make sure all Americans receive healthcare and educations? Don't make me laugh.

Because they'd defend the rights laid out in the Constitution? How, by being the first to try to use it to take rights away from an entire group of people? Particularly when the legislation required to do so would need to violate the supposedly-holy notion of states' rights, and overrule state law arrived at through Constitutionally-guaranteed due process?

Because they'd make sure government stayed true to conservative ideals, being small and accountable? Does that happen by gifting bloated no-bid military contracts to corporate cronies; by looking the other way when it came to monopolies and accounting scandals; by giving tax cuts to those who need them least, and then saying "Sorry, Louisiana, we just can't afford to fix your levees; sorry, GIs, we just can't afford to give you adequate armor for this war we volunteered you for," then incanting "Now is not the time" to ask questions whenever anyone complains? By promoting everyone who fails?

Because they'd bring honesty and integrity back to the White House? Karl Rove and Scott McClellan lying to the White House Press Corps make a mockery of that idea, as does the President himself lying about weapons of mass destruction in the State of the Union. Now, the administration is censoring images of the dead, just as it censors images of dead soldiers returning from Iraq. I suppose we should be happy Bush hasn't lied to Congress about sex -- though having the First Lady joke about jacking off a horse, shortly after it came to light that the administration had been paying a prostitute to pretend to be a member of the White House Press Corps, in violation of established security rules, makes me wonder what the wingnut right's idea of "decency" is.

Because they'd protect the homeland? How, by crippling our intelligence operations, illegally disclosing the identities of federal operatives under cover as political payback? By ignoring security warnings from within the government, and from previous administrations, that could have prevented the biggest-ever terrorist attack on American soil? By appointing cronies with no experience to run federal relief organizations? Or by failing to plan for, fund, and execute disaster prevention and recovery, and then cracking jokes while cities are looted, children and the elderly drop like flies in the heat, dysentery spreads, women are raped in shelters, and federal executives admit that they can't even be bothered to watch CNN to get up-to-date news about the disaster they're supposed to be fixing? By limiting funding for reconstruction efforts? By berating pilots who, sick of doing nothing, rescued people on their own?

If you accuse me of being an angry liberal, you're right. Any one who's not angry beyond words at the shocking number of those needlessly dead, for whom George Bush is responsible, is not merely heartless, but singularly unpatriotic. Anyone who really cares about this country should join me in screaming our heads off for government accountability -- not later, at some unspecified future date, but now, before the next disaster.

All Clinton lied about was a blow-job. How many Iraqis; how many in the twin towers and the Pentagon and that plane that went down in Pennsylvania; how many GIs and "contractors" in Iraq; and how many in Louisiana, have died as a result of this administration's actions? Can one person tell me why, exactly, these evil, lying, patronizing, greedy, fascist (and I use the word in all its dictionary-worthy, terrifying literalism, not for hyperbole), and, above all, uniquely incompetent fucks aren't in prison, or at least on the receiving end of a federal indictment, already?
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