Thursday, September 01, 2005

Bush Caught Inflagrante Delicto with Katrina

The disaster in Louisiana and Mississippi is so tragic that I could cry for the poor people down there. At the same time, the disaster that has been the disaster response makes me so angry I could cry for the poor people down there. If Bill Clinton were our president, you can be damn sure the 'Pubs would be loaded for bear for his "incompetence."

But here's the thing: I'd rather have a president who is caught with his pants down doing something that does not hurt the public, than a president who is caught with his pants down by something that telegraphs to our citizens and to the world that we do not have a freakin' clue about how to protect ourselves during a massive upheaval.

This is a hurricane about which GWB said that "no one foresaw" the levees in New Orleans breaking. First of all, he's wrong factually. Disaster drills did see the levees breaking. What they didn't see was the rank amateur (mis)coordination of relief and law enforcement.

How, in America in 2005, do you put tens of thousands of people in a sports arena with no food, water or lavatories and not expect Lord of the Flies to break out? How, in America in 2005, do you have human corpses on the side of the road with no plans for how to remove them? How, in America in 2005, do you have Bangladeshi-style human tragedy on the shores of the Ponchartrain?

At least the Bangladeshi government doesn't pretend that "preparedness" and "homeland security" are its middle names...


Miko said...

Your questions are serious ones, and I certainly hope we continue to press them.

The disaster highlights not only our own total unpreparedness for this level of catastrophe (despite 4 years and billions of dollars that were supposed to prepare us) but also the reality of the millions of Americans who are utterly without a safety net of any kind, and are now wandering, hungry and homeless, with nowhere to go, no job, and no resources. And we tolerate this.

E said...

Amen, Miko. I heard someone asking why they people didn't just leave. Um, hello?!! 121,000 people in the last census in N.O. had no means of transportation. NONE. ie, not everyone on the planet has a car, money with which to operate it, and money to just up and head somewhere else because the governor says you have to. And don't tell me that you would put your wife and kids on a freakin' bus to the Superdome rather than keep them right by your side, car or not. It must be nice to live in a fantasy world where everyone can just drive off to greener pastures and if they don't then they are somehow at fault.

People being people, looting and crime will happen in any disaster. Why THAT was not part of the preparation is beyond me. Even the police did not know what was going on, due to lack of resources.

Raine said...

It didn't help that the police command structure washed away in the hurricane flood. With no radio and no phones, it's impossible to co-ordinate anything.

On top of that, any form of rescue or relief is being stopped dead in it's tracks by the thugs that are roaming New Orleans. I'm sure you've read the article describing the aborted helecopter rescue, the pilot reported being shot at by people on the ground, and so aborted a rescue operation.

Honestly, how can things be so desperate that the people you are trying to save are shooting at you? I'd love to read an article about people banding together to survive, but I've given up that wish. A journalist can only write what's really happening, and even those who could gloss over Iraq can't make New Orleans shine ever again.

Miko said...

You know, I'm highly skeptical of the report about the helicopter being shot and the roaming thugs. If anyone has a link to a report containing a citation of a helicopter being shot at, please forward it. I've been immersed in media for the past 24 hours, and I have not yet seen it substantiated -- I think it may actually be rumor, and even if not, it may have been a single incident that pales in comparison to the need. Police do get shot at from time to time, folks. IT's sad, but it's part of the job to run that risk.

There are always going to be people who act desperately and take advantage. But In my reading and viewing today and yesterday, I have seen countless examples of altruism, people crossing race, age, and gender lines to be of help; cooperation; independent organization among victims; and responsible efforts to be of help. If you haven't seen these things, look a bit deeper --read some more, watch some more coverage (MSNBC's has been particularly good). Don't risk having your support for victims undermined by sensationalistic and fearful reporting of the worst incidents, when there are thousands more instances of help and care.