Thursday, September 15, 2005

Hurricane Katrina and Ill Wind Bush

Gene Lyons weighs in on Hurricane Katrina and the related Bush disaster: Feckless ideology has a terrible cost Daily Dunlin Democrat 09/14/05.

At a time like this, many feel an instinctive wish to rise above politics. With bodies still emerging from the wreckage left by Hurricane Katrina, partisan bickering ought to be the last thing on anybody's mind. But acknowledging our common humanity shouldn't blind us to the reality that much of the devastation wrought by the storm is as much a consequence of human folly as nature's wrath. It does no honor to the dead to pretend otherwise.

For more than a generation, pretty much all we've heard from Republican (and some Democratic) politicians in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and elsewhere is how the federal government was the source of all domestic ills. Grover Norquist, the Washington political operative widely credited with devising the GOP's winning strategy, famously stated that he didn't want to abolish the national government, but shrink it "down to the size where you could drown it in a bathtub." ...

Nobody knows if Hurricane Katrina would have breached New Orleans' levees had experts been heeded and the projects completed. But if there's a lesson here, it's this: Facts and ideas do matter. Choosing feckless leaders who advertise their mistrust of government and disdain for science, and who habitually reward loyalty over competence can have appalling consequences when things go wrong.

He also includes some items that weren't secret but don't pop up very much in the coverage.  For instance, did you know:

That Bush recently approved $100 million to be spent restoring wetlands at the mouth of Iraq's Tigris and Eurphrates Rivers?  Or that i's called the "Garden of Eden Wetlands" project?

That Homeland Security honcho Michael Chertoff, one of the key architects of the Bush Disaster in New Orleans, was previously the "chief GOP inquisitor in the Senate's farcical 'Whitewater' investigation"?

That after Florida's brush with far less destructive hurricanes in 2004 that Bush's FEMA managed to spread mucho dinero around, including a $30 million grant to Miami-Dade County which was so fishy that it's "stillunder investigation," partially, one assumes, because Miami-Dade was "100 miles from the nearest gale force winds"?

That when Bush did his first visit to the disaster sites (not counting the now-infamous fly-over) that "rescue helicopters were grounded for hours to protect his safety"?

Sid Blumenthal thinks Katrina constitutes the end of an entire "era": Breach of a myth Salon 09/15/05.

Bush's America is gone with the wind. It lasted just short of four years, from Sept. 11, 2001, to Aug. 29, 2005. The devastation of New Orleans was the watery equivalent of a dirty bomb, but Hurricane Katrina approached the homeland with advance warnings, scientific anticipation and a personal briefing of the president by the director of the National Hurricane Center, alerting him about a possible breaching of the levees. It was as predictable as though Osama bin Laden had phoned in every detail to the television networks. No future terrorist attack would or could be as completely foreseen as Katrina. ...

The rest of the Bush presidency will consist of his strained efforts to cobble his myth together again while others cope with the consequences of his damage. The hurricane has tossed and turned the country but will not deposit it on firm ground for at least the three and half years remaining of the ruined Bush presidency.

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