mardi, septembre 06, 2005

The President is Guilty of Blatant Disregard of Americans

Here are some (scattered and visceral) observations from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Bush was on vacation when the hurricane hit.

He was scheduled to be on vacation for 30 days.

He only made it 28 days.

In the aftermath of the hurricane, Condolezza Rice was in New York taking in the broadway show "Spamalot."

When the house lights went up, she was booed.

Later, she was shouted down while buying thousands of dollars worth of shoes - something to the effect of "how dare you buy shoes while people are dying and losing their homes?"

I happen to like New York.

Professional basketball player Stephon Marbury broke down while saying: "it's not about the money;" he was so moved he could not finish his comments.

Marbury is a native New Yorker.

Celine Dion broke down while saying: "it's not about the money;" she was so moved she had to quit speaking.

Dion is a native Canadian.

Chris Rock cried.

Jamie Foxx cried.

George Bush got big laughs telling a joke about hanging out on Trent Lott's porch after his mansion, which was destroyed by the hurricane, is rebuilt.

While it appears that storm watchers were prepared for a big event, agencies designed to assist with emergencies were not.

Days passed before an adequate response was given (some argue it hasn’t happened yet).

Bush was slow to leave his vacation.

Bush was slow to speak about the hurricane.

Initially, he did a flyover on his way from Crawford to D.C.

A flyover.

Bush praised FEMA head, Mike Brown in the immediate aftermath of Katrina.

Mike Brown was fired from his previous job supervising the International Arabian Horse Association.

The Times Picayune, in an open letter to the President published on Sunday, called for him to be fired as head of FEMA.

I think he should resign.

I think Bush should resign.

Dead bodies are floating in the streets.

Dead bodies, resting in the streets, are being eaten by rats.

Bush, early on, joked about rebuilding Trent Lott’s lost mansion.

Cholera cases are showing up.

There is e. coli in the water.

The media, in some instances, are calling the survivors "refugees."

New Orleans has been declared a public health emergency.

In the past, Bush has been proactive in response to hurricanes.

The proactive response was in Florida.

The proactive response was during an election.

Bush’s brother Jeb is Governor of Florida.

Jeb Bush is widely thought to be a candidate for the Presidency in 2008.

Bush cut funding to New Orleans flood control 50% as part of his budget.

The energy bill recently signed by President Bush contained $15 billion in aid to big oil.

Blacks carrying food and water are described as having looted.

Whites carrying food and water are described having found.

31% of New Orleans residents live at or below the federal poverty line.

In numerous warnings, federal officials indicated that the New Orleans Levee system could never withstand a category 3 hurricane.

When it was bearing down on the gulf, Katrina was rated category 5.

There was no proactive response.

Earlier this year, New Orleans flood and levee officials asked Congress for $78 million for projects.

Bush offered them $30 million.

Congress approved $36.5 million.

The energy bill recently signed by President Bush contained $15 billion in aid to big oil.

Since 2001, flood and levee officials have asked Bush for $500 million.

He has budgeted $166 million.

Congress has given $250 million

In 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane hitting New Orleans was one of the three most likely natural disasters to hit the United States.

Funding was still cut.

In August of 2001, the President was warned in a daily briefing that a terrorist attack using airplanes was planned.

No proactive response was given.

Total funding cuts to the Corps of Engineers budget since 2001 is 44.2%.

The Corps of Engineers has imposed a hiring freeze in response to the cuts.

The Louisiana National Guard patrolled the Superdome with machine guns.

Flood victims, inside the Superdome, behind metal barricades shouted “we need more water.”

Cigarettes in the Superdome sold for $10 a pack.

The Superdome was long ago identified as a gathering point for storm victims.

The plumbing failed and there were no portable toilets.

The electricity failed and there were not generators.

There was no air conditioning.

Victims lived in the hot dark, without toilets and without adequate potable water.

The mayor said that armed gangs and feral dogs ran wild in the Superdome.

Prisoners in solitary confinement are treated better.

Yesterday a Superdome official said the building should be destroyed for structural and psychological reasons.

During a concert to raise money for flood victims, Rapper Kanye West said “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

People sincerely and truly believe that if the hurricane had hit coastal Florida or North or South Carolina or Texas that the response would have been dramtically different.

57,000 troops, many trained for combat duty, patrol the streets of New Orleans.

Michael Jackson hopes to record a “We Are the World” type pop song in relief of the hurricane victims.

When the Superdome was evacuated, evacuees were not allowed to take pets along.

A little boy, separated from his dog, “Snowball,” was so upset that he vomited.

The mayor of New Orleans today announced that as many as 10,000 people may be dead.

It is estimated that 150,000 houses are lost to flood damage.

Pepsi America offered $400,000 in aid comprising cash and water.

Celine Dion and George Clooney each offered $1,000,000, comprising just cash.

Christian extremists have argued that the flood was brought by God to relieve New Orleans of Southern Decadence – the sodomites, the witchcraft workers, and those who practice false religion.

The French Quarter is largely undamaged.

In other words, it was not a lack of warning, it was not for lack of requests, it was not for lack of money, it was not for lack of time to prepare, it was for a lack of leadership – the kind of proactive leadership we know the President can show when he cares.

Once the storm hit, it was not for lack of coverage, it was not for lack of understanding of the extent of the damage, it was not for lack of local effort, it was for a lack of leadership, the kind of reactive leadership we know the President can show when he cares.

As Celine Dion cries on national television, full of rage and compassion, someone tell my why our President was joking about Trent Lott’s mansion? Why is a Canadian pop singer able to show compassion more effectively than our President?

Someone please tell me why Harry Connick, Jr., and WalMart immediately responded and reached the city, but FEMA could not? How can FEMA credibly claim that the city was inaccessible? How is it that Oprah and Hollywood could react right after the hurricane, but the President could not? What do they have that’s missing from the President? C’mon, you know the answer…they care.

And in a world where actions speak louder than words, for the umpteenth time in his Presidency, it is very clear that the President only cares when his aides tell him too. It is very clear that the thing he cares about more than anything else, the one thing that he doesn’t ever want to see suffer any harm or damage is his image.

In the face of a crisis, his tendency is inertia.

Early on in my blogging career, I talked about how Bush would be remembered as the worst President ever. Outside of getting re-elected, I literally cannot point to one success the man has had (but that is because I’m not among the richest 2%). I believe objective historians will look back on his presidency as a total failure: a failing economy, a failed environment, a failure to find bin Laden, a failed and mismanaged effort in Afghanistan, a failed and mismanaged effort in Iraq, treasonous behavior, failure to articulate coherent foreign or domestic policies, failure to understand the complexities of the office, failure to lead his staff (and instead, allowing himself to be led by them - failure), failure to address poverty, failure to address education, failure to address health care, failure to prevent himself from lining the pockets of big oil, failure to prevent his party from giving away tax breaks to the wealthy. He even failed at saving Terri Schiavo after drawing a failed conclusion about whether she could/should be saved. While I thought I might add failure to rise to the challenges of the Presidency, I never imagined that I would add the failure to give a damn.

But I do it today.

Blatant disregard for our own citizens. Blatant disregard. Failure to give a damn, and George Bush is the worst President ever.