I've been spending way too much time following the various news stories about Katrina and its aftermath. What shocks me more than anything is the Bush administration's callous disregard for human life and its inept handling of the entire situation. If I performed my job as poorly as Bush and his cronies have this week, I wouldn't expect to be allowed to return on Tuesday morning. But when you listen to these people talk and the insensitivity that comes out of their mouths...
First Lady Laura Bush says, when asked about the large majority of poor and black people left behind in New Orleans, ""This is what happens when there's a natural disaster of this scope. The poorer people are usually in the neighborhoods that are the lowest or the most exposed or the most vulnerable. Their housing is the most vulnerable to natural disaster. And that is just always what happens."
Hey, fuck 'em, right, Laura? Stuff happens. That's what Donald Rumsfeld's response was to criticisms that he failed to provide U.S. soldiers in Iraq with adequate equipment and armor. Yeah, right, stuff happens.
President Bush says, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job. The FEMA Director is working 24 -- they're working 24 hours a day."
Fuck you, George. "Brownie" is in fact doing a shitty job. Anyone who thinks that "Brownie", aka Michael Brown, the Bush-appointed head of FEMA, is doing a good job this week is lying his ass off or is a goddamn idiot. When Bill Clinton was in the White House, FEMA was considered to be something of an important organization, as it should be, and its head, James Witt, was a member of his Cabinet. When Bush stole the election from Al Gore in 2000, he downgraded FEMA, folding it into the Department of Homeland Security, and gave Witt's job to Joe Allbaugh, Bush's former Chief of Staff and campaign manager and a man with zero experience in handling major disasters. Allbaugh is also the guy who helped Bush get his Texas National Guard records erased, so he's clearly someone Bush owes big time. Allbaugh resigned amid scandal, and Bush replaced him with Brown, a lawyer and another personal friend of the President's with zero experience in doing what FEMA was created for. Bush clearly used the FEMA position as an opportunity to extend favors to his drinking buddies. He certainly didn't take it seriously, as his many budget cuts will attest.
Bush says, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." This is a gigantic lie. According to this Reuters story, "Virtually everything that has happened in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina struck was predicted by experts and in computer models, so emergency management specialists wonder why authorities were so unprepared."
Bush, who believes that scientific facts like global warming and evolution are merely rumors, continues to prove how out-of-touch he is by saying, "There ought to be zero tolerance of people breaking the law during an emergency such as this." This is, of course, idiotic. Many of those people were, in fact, stealing food, water and medicine, and the reason they were is because Bush wasn't giving it to them. Zero tolerance is just another phrase for "zero thinking". Zero tolerance is always an idiotic way to do anything. There are many different kinds of looters. Some are families besieged by hunger and dehydration and are looting to survive. What are they supposed to do? Stand in front of a rack of Little Debbie snack cakes and not eat them? Many of the looters are, indeed, bad guys. They're robbing other refugees of their clothing and shoes. They're committing violence against their fellow victims. They're raping and beating and killing. Setting aside the likelihood that looting would not have occurred at this level if Bush had been doing his job to begin with, lumping all looters together into one bundle is stupid and dangerous. There are Bad Looters and Not-So-Bad Looters (these are the dumbasses stealing TV sets, I don't why) and Looters Who Are Just Trying Not To Die.
And then you read this transcript of Michael Brown's press conference where he claims that security in New Orleans is "pretty darn good", that he knows nothing about any corpses lying in the street, that if there were bodies lying in the street, they would "not necessarily" cause disease (these must be very clean cadavers), that he has heard "no reports of unrest". What the hell has this guy been doing? All he has to do is turn on a TV set to see shitty security, rotting corpses, and a hell of a lot of social unrest. Unbelievable.
So much could have been prevented. Those of us who voted for Al Gore in 2000 and for John Kerry in 2004 knew this could happen. We knew that Bush was incompetent. We knew about his disregard for the lives of Americans. We knew that he was stupid and greedy and foolish. Yet so many chose not to listen. Even after he squandered the largest U.S. surplus in history. Even after he lied his ass off and sent nearly 2000 Americans (and counting) to fight an unnecessary war in Iraq, a war against an admittedly brutal dictator who posed no threat to American soil. Even after he schemed to prevent less expensive medicines from being available to poor Americans desperately in need of adequate health care. Even after he sided with credit card companies to screw more money out of the citizens he took an oath to protect. People still voted for him. They said, "He's the best man for the job. He will keep me safe."
Look around the ruins of New Orleans. Ask yourself, "Did George Bush do everything he possibly could to keep those people safe?"