Friday, September 02, 2005

The Blame Game

I really liked this article so I am posting part of it here:

A 2001 report issued by FEMA predicted New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters waiting to happen. This revelation should not have been taken lightly: New Orleans has the only deepwater port in the United States served by six Class 1 railroads, and it's one of America's leading general cargo ports, with top market share for import steel, natural rubber, plywood and coffee. But the administration slashed flood control funding for the city by 44 percent. Last year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suggested a plan should be in place to protect New Orleans from a major hurricane, but the Bush administration nixed the notion. Congress did approve a flood control project in the mid-'90s to shore up levees and renovate pumping stations, but by 2003, funding had been diverted into the wars on Iraq and terror. The Bush team also cut, by 80 percent, funding requested by the Corps in 2004 for keeping the waters of Lake Pontchartrain at bay.

Turning over more wetlands to developers further exacerbated the situation. Bush reneged on a promise that there would be no loss of wetlands, which act as a natural buffer against storm surge. A study concluded that without wetlands protection, New Orleans could be ravaged by a moderate hurricane. But the White House lumped this information into the "bad science" category along with global warming, which scientists all over the world agree is creating increasingly erratic weather patterns, including more hurricanes.

When empirical data doesn't fit the Bush regime's philosophy, it is simply dismissed out of hand, regardless of how much proof exists or how many Nobel laureates stand behind it. Instead, the administration perpetually foists policies upon the public that turn out to be expensive blunders: the education-unfriendly No Child Left Behind; the statistically ineffective "abstinence only" crusade; billions of dollars in no-bid contracts for Halliburton; lack of funds and equipment for soldiers and meager health care for veterans; broken promises of foreign aid to fight AIDS and poverty; tax cuts for the rich; soaring gasoline prices; and a bellicose foreign policy that has alienated most of our allies.

Though Bush's policies left New Orleans more vulnerable to this disaster, he could have redeemed himself by responding quickly. But even after the fifth day of this unspeakable ordeal, the behemoth Homeland Security bureaucracy he created was still unable to get food and water to multitudes of desperate survivors, much less evacuate them. On TV Wednesday, Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff began offering assurances that, any second now, help would be on the way. He was still singing that tune Thursday and even Friday morning, while millions of Americans watched on TV with growing horror as the 2,000 desperate people trapped in the New Orleans convention center held up signs pleading for relief. Local officials were angry and begging, too, describing rapes and other abuses as people began dying of dehydration and human violence. Yet the breathtakingly inept Chertoff tried to dismiss the reality at the center as a "media rumor" before "confirming" the story and promising to "get help." FEMA Director Michael Brown's lame insistence that "we're doing what we can" are also wearing thin.

Days after the core event, Bush is doing little more than mouthing platitudes, grinning inappropriately, and reminding us how important it is to "keep fighting in Iraq."

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