A major point is more and more apparent: thousands more people have died in the Gulf States than might have, due to the incompetence and lack of response by Bush and his cabinet and advisers. And this began earlier in the3 Bush administration with the withholding of funds for the levees, and FEMA…
Simply stated, the president and his top advisers chose vacation over action.--Greg Mitchell, EditorandPublisher.com
Terrible emotions run wild in us these days. Anger. Shame. Disbelief. Hopelessness. Those are hard emotions to deal with. And we have been well-trained by the Bush spinners always to blame the victims --- to put responsibility on people too dazed or ignorant to take responsibility for themselves.
For five years, these guys have gotten away with it. They're good at it.
And it's hard for even the best of their opponents to pull the curtain back and show you how they make their cheap magic. And then it is very very hard for Americans to consider a scary thought --- our government lies to us, and lies consistently. –Jesse Kornbluth, Huffington Post…
Dick Cheney finally showing up at the White House after riding out the storm-of-the-century in Wyoming… His absence, and the president’s performance during it, can only add to the rumors that Bush is clueless without the Big Guy at his side…
… But at least Bush did start heading home late Wednesday. As he did, Secretary of State Rice was still enjoying her vacation in New York….
… Condi also played tennis with Monica Seles and on Thursday went on a shoe-shopping spree on Fifth Avenue until a fellow customer yelled at her for not doing her job and bloggers exposed all of this. Then she hurriedly headed back to Washington. Whoops, we discovered she was overdue in getting a grip on offers to help that were pouring in from overseas governments and organizations.
Paging Andrew Card: Turns out he was Bush's Maine man.
And what of FEMA chief Michael Brown? He was so out-of-it that he didn’t even know about 10,000 evacuees living and dying at the Convention Center, even after they had received wide TV coverage for a solid day.
The next day, the president greeted him with, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." A medal is surely on the way.
At a press conference on Thursday, the fourth day of the disaster, with newspapers and TV reporting tens of thousands stranded at hospitals, homes and a highway overpass, Homeland Security chief Michael Cherotff was asked by a reporter if he thought only hundreds or maybe many more needed rescued. He replied:“I'd be guessing. I mean, a thousand seems like a very large number, but we have already rescued several thousand. Hopefully, most people have gotten
themselves onto roofs and have been picked up. But, as I said, rather than give you a guesstimate, I can tell you that as long as there is someone on a roof waving a flag, we're going to be sending a helicopter out there to get them…”
…This is not mere incompetence, but dereliction of duty. The press
should call it by its proper name.-- Greg Mitchell, EditorandPublisher.com
By March of 2003, FEMA was no longer a Cabinet-level position, and was folded into the Department of Homeland Security. Its primary mission was recast towards fighting acts of terrorism. In June of 2004, the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for levee construction in New Orleans was cut by a record $71.2 million. Jefferson Parish emergency management chief Walter Maestri said at the time, "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the pricewe pay."
And then the storm came, and the sea rose, and the levees failed. Filthy sewage-laced water began to fill the bowl of New Orleans. Tens of thousands of poor people who did not have the resources to flee the storm became trapped in a slowly deteriorating city without food, water or electricity. The entire nation has since been glued to their televisions, watching footage of an apocalyptic human tragedy unfold before their eyes. Anyone who has put gasoline in their car since Tuesday has come to know what happens when the port that handles 40% of our national petroleum distribution becomes unusable.
And the response? "Bush mugs for the cameras," says Kevin Drum of The Washington Monthly, "cuts a cake for John McCain, plays the guitar for Mark Wills, delivers an address about V-J day, and continues with his vacation. When he finally gets around to acknowledging the scope of the unfolding disaster, he delivers only a photo op on Air Force One and a flat, defensive, laundry list speech in the Rose Garden."
Newsweek described it this way: "For all the president's statements
ahead of the hurricane, the region seemed woefully unprepared for the flooding of New Orleans - a catastrophe that has long been predicted by experts and politicians alike. There seems to have been no contingency planning for a total evacuation of the city, including the final refuges of the city's Superdome and its hospitals. There were no supplies of food and water ready offshore - on Navy ships for instance - in the event of such flooding, even though government officials knew there were thousands of people stranded inside the sweltering and powerless city."
Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert twisted the knife on Thursday by bluntly suggesting that we should not bother rebuilding the city of New Orleans. "It doesn't make sense to me," Hastert said to the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago. "And it's a question that certainly we should ask. We help replace, we help relieve disaster. But I think federal insurance and everything that goes along with it ... we ought to take a second look at that."
This sentiment was echoed by the Republican-American newspaper out of Waterbury, CT: "If the people of New Orleans and other low-lying areas insist on living in harm's way, they ought to accept responsibility for what happens to them and their property."
This is it, right here, right now. This is the Bush administration in a
nutshell. The decision to invade Iraq based on lies has left the federal government's budget woefully, and I daresay deliberately, unprepared for a disaster of this magnitude, despite the fact that decades worth of warnings have been put forth about what would happen to New Orleans should a storm like this hit. Louisiana National Guard soldiers and equipment, such as high-water Humvees for example, are sitting today in Iraq while hundreds or even thousands die because there are not enough hands to reach out and pull them from the water.
FEMA - downsized, redirected, budget-slashed and incompetently led - has thus far failed utterly to cope with the scope of the catastrophe.
Actions have consequences. What you see on your television today is not some wild accident, but is a disaster that could have been averted had the priorities of this government been more in line with the needs of the people it pretends to serve. The city of New Orleans, home to so much of the culture that makes America unique and beautiful, is today drowning underneath an avalanche of polluted, diseased water. This, simply, did not have to happen.
Remember that the next time you hear Bush talk about noble causes,
national priorities and responsibility. This has been an administration of death, disaster, fear and woe.—Wake of the Flood, William Rivers Pitt, Truthout.org
The question has been raised, in so many ways, by so many people, "What if there were no warning? What if there were a terrorist attack?" What leadership could we expect?