September 7, 2005 by lonbud
Insult To Injury
As floodwaters begin to recede from New Orleans, the bloated, rotting corpses of thousands of Hurricane Katrina’s most obvious victims are not the only ghastly elements of the disaster surfacing. For any who care, nay, dare to look, the callousness, megalomania, and utter incompetence of the Bush Administration has also shown itself in all its criminal wretchedness. And while Karl Rove and a host of the nation’s genteel lawmakers have decreed that what happened in the City that Care Forgot during the past week was either the fault of local politicians, or nothing for which anyone should point fingers in blame, the truth of the matter is that the President should turn in his scorecard and head for the 19th Hole.
The State of Louisiana has a long, proud history of taking its statehood in our republic quite seriously. It stands alone, perhaps, in trandscending the onslaught of fast food chains, big lot supercenters, and branded consumerism that renders such homogeneity to so many of our blessed United States. Since before the founding of the nation, Louisiana has nourished and preserved –and neglected and poisoned– a culture at once connected to and distinct from anything one thinks of today as American.
No city outside New York or Los Angeles can match New Orleans in any matrix counting cuisine, music, eccentricity, debauchery, danger, and style.
But none of that, leaving aside the actual poor, black, drug-addled lowlifes, misfits, old people, and helpless children who suffered and perished with Katrina, none of the real interests at stake mattered to George W. Bush when time came to act.
One presumes he himself had little understanding of the matter, and was more than happy to play golf when Mr. Rove and Mr. Cheney said it would be fine, but Mr. Bush ought to be held accountable anyway, for holding New Orleans and Lousiana hostage to a policy of abdicating all responsibility outside absolute fealty to federal control.
Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco declared a state of emergency three days before the hurricane made landfall and was presented by White House lawyers (our future John Robertses) with a take-it-or-leave-it proposition that would have had her abdicate immediate and total control of state and local authority to the federal government. She demurred, and Dubya teed it up.
That was fine with him, since his administration had been long-gone from the disaster reponse business anyway.
Mr. Bush took a cabinet-level position with its own distinct mission and a stellar record of having shown the country its best intentions and brightest ideas after events like the Midwest Floods of ’93, the Northridge Earthquake of ’94, and the OK City bombing of ’95, and folded it into the massive bureaucracy of the Department of Homeland Security. He reduced the Directorship of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to a position fit for a man who failed to effectively manage a horse breeding association, and was known around the White House as “Brownie.”
Now comes Mississippi Republican Senator Trent Lott, saying things are “never perfect after a natural disaster,” graciously ceding his antebellum home in Pascagoula, MS for the team.
John Cornyn, the Republican from Texas says, “The last thing we need to do is to drag the secretary of Homeland Security and the director of FEMA in.” Mel Martinez, Republican of Florida allows “There will be plenty of time … to pick over the bones,” and the Republican from Montana, Conrad Burns, reminds us “We are burning a lot of money down there, we are going to ask for a little more accountability for how that money is being spent and where it is going.”
While this administration has spent hundreds of billions of dollars in the last several years fomenting terrorism and anti-american sentiment abroad, real live Americans have been ignored and short-changed at home. Now we’ve exposed our willingness to sacrifice our most vulnerable, discount our most unique, and extort our most damaged in pursuit of some caricature of a God-fearing, sober, soldier of Good in the War against Evil.
Mr. Bush has turned a federal government that once prepared to defend its citizens into one prepared now only to dominate or abandon us.