As a self-described "objective centrist," I have a hard time respecting anyone who can casually dismiss and deny there exists culpability at the
Is this to say the situation wasn't bungled at every level -- municipal, state, and federal? Not at all.
, the scope of the catastrophe was such that it far exceeded the ability of any local or state governemnt to act alone. To the
contrary, FEMA had prepositioned 18 medical response teams, and as this scenario eclipsed
the worst-case scenarios as planned for by
during the Hurricane Pam exercise conducted just last year
(Link to FEMA's
own conclusions on FEMA's own web site
), there is no excuse for the delay in initially reponding, nor for the lack of coordinate relief
which finally began DAYS after the scope of the tragedy was well known.
For an overview of the depth of ineptitude (which, unfortunately, represents a best case scenario
), one must look no further than the
parralel timeline of events as they unfolded last week:
: The levees rupture, flooding 80% of New Orleans as the greatest natural disaster in our nation's history unfolds before our very
eyes. Meanwhile, President Bush finally leaves his ranch in Crawford, Texas, and flys directly
: Reporters are often first on the scene as the nation's collective jaw drops at the sight of refugees stranded on freeway
overpasses begging for food and water. Between 10,000-15,000 evacuees remain stranded at the convention center, and supplies are running dangerously
low. No one has come with additional supplies. Meanwhile, tens of thousands more remain stranded in squalor in the flooded Superdome, without
running water or electricity. No one has come. However, our beloved President has packed up and left Arizona, and flys immediately to... San Diego.
Now, given, he flys in to take part in a ceremony marking an end to WWII.
Now, both my late grandfathers were veterans of the Navy, and my late great-uncle served under Patton. I think all three would have been cool if
Dubya had acted
like a freaking when it mattered for once and grabbed the freaking reigns
. In fact, I know
they would have been
cool with it. Why, because they didn't fight and serve so our leadership could turn its back on our own people. When there are Americans who have
for 48 hours without food or water, take charge, man! You know? Lasso? Horse? "YEEEE-HAAAWWWW!" STEP TO IT. Well,
in reality, he did get just a little
closer to his country roots, accepting that "fancy GEEtar" from country singer Mark Wills and all.
: Two world-renown hospitals in downtown New Orleans have become island tombs. The patients and staff have become the Forgotten,
and sadly, again it is reporters who are the first outside visitors
to reach these hospitals since the storm. As the morgues lie under 20' of
water they are piling their dead in the stairwells. The reporters take on what patients they can for their return to safety. Meanwhile, the mayor of
New Orleans (himself equally
culpable in this mess, BTW), issues a desperate "S.O.S," as thousands of evacuees remain without food or water.
All across the Gulf Coast, the question resonates? "Where is FEMA?" However, there is
light at the end of the tunnel! Dubya officially
announces, three days
after the worst natural disaster in our nation's history, that he's cutting his vacation short to return to Washington
: Bush appears on the Today Show, where he states, and I quote, "I don't think anybody could have predicted that the levees
Uggggh. As an American
, I am truly ashamed.
Now, I am not a fan of partisan politics, period
. Maybe Nancy Pelosi is
a "raving yadda yadda yadda"... But regardless
politics, when she speaks freely to the press of her conversation with the President, and directly quotes him as saying, with regard to her criticism
of the relief efforts to date, "What went wrong?"... and when I
hear the President speaking of how he's going to "sit on" Trent Lott's
"porch when it's rebuilt," and how it will be a "fine porch," I, too, hear the words of a man who simply does... not... relate. Really, he
hasn't a clue. If I wasn't so dman angry at our government right now for its handling of The Mother of All Fumbles, I might actually feel sorry for
the lack of immediate response does not
fall squarely onto the backs of the states. Not only is this reflected by the $160
preliminary recovery costs estimates, but let us also remember that 35%
of Louisiana's national guard troops and reservists could
not be called into action... because they are already
in action, in Iraq. Similarly, 40%
of Mississippi's reservists and national
guard troops are overseas. Is anyone
seriously going to tell me these "details" somehow escaped the attention of this administration?
Now to the question at hand: Is there a conspiracy afoot?
Hell if I know.
Are there occurrences and examples of incompetence so extreme and absurd as to make one wonder if there are other sinister forces at work here beyond
Well, when one takes into account that a)
FEMA planned for a very similar (though not as bad) scenario just a year ago, and b) how
billions have been spent since 9/11 on disaster preparedness?
My God... it makes me wish for the "Good 'Ol Days" of hearing some jacka$$ tell me to get some painter's plastic and duct tape as my best defense
against any forthcoming attack. I never thought I would miss
Tom Ridge... and that, ladies and gentlemen, is a sobering thought.