I’ve not really been able to think or read too much about what’s happening in New Orleans. What I do read, see, and hear is just too horrible for me right now. We’re making financial contributions to the Red Cross but it seems so insignificant. Whenever I think about it, my chest gets tight.
Bush’s assertion that people couldn’t have foreseen this kind of disaster, is of course, nothing but lame spin, already discredited before the words passed his lips. People have foreseen this sort of disaster since the founding of New Orleans and have been taking escalating measures against it ever since. The levees, the canals, the pumps, all are extreme measures to help the city eek out its precarious existence while at the same time making the costs of the inevitable disaster that much higher.
It was foreseeable, not just on the scale of a hundred years, but on the scale of a few days. Weather forecasters knew it was hurricane season, they new a big one was on the way. The good news is that they evacuated the city, mostly. As bad as things are there, it could have been much much worse.
The bad news is that the evacuation plans failed to take into account the reality for large numbers of the population. Much was made at the beginning of the idea that the people who stayed behind were just stubborn or stupid. Many may have been, but so many had no choice. There are hospitals that still aren’t evacuated. Other’s didn’t have a vehicle, or money for gas. They couldn’t have made it out if they wanted to, and they were essentially abandoned.
It’s like they lived in another country, a horribly corrupt 3rd world country. The thing is, they are citizens of the United Sates of America, just like me. We share the same president, a president who was on vacation while the disaster was unfolding, a president who offers lame spin.
It’s pretty obvious now just how much Bush basked in the glow of Rudy Giuliani after 9-11. I though Bush’s biggest accomplishment at the time was not falling to pieces when faced by a situation that was so far beyond his abilities as both a man and a leader, but others thought he rose to the occasion. No one was discounting Giuliani’s accomplishments at the time, but clearly, they were far too generous towards Bush.
I don’t want to say too much more about his incompetence, but I want to finish a though I started earlier. It was well known that New Orleans could end up horribly flooded, and it was known that a dangerous storm was coming. Now think what would have happened if there hadn’t been any warning. What if terrorists had breached the levees? How many would be dead?
Post-9/11, it was foreseeable that New Orleans could end up flooded with almost no warning, and yet, even with enough warning to evacuate much of the city, things are as bad as they are and seem likely to get worse before they get better.
Given such a colossal failure, I hate to think of the result if there were a biological attack on an American city. Even if the casualties from the attack were relatively minor, I hate to think of the panic it would trigger among a population who has proof that their government is incompetent to deal with the situation at a time where they’ve had 4 years to get their act together.
Now, getting back to New Oreleans. I deplore looting, but I’ve got a real hard time judging people taking food or clothing. Even if their own homes are relatively intact, there is no power, there are no stores operating and emergency provisions are few and far between. If their clothing got wet its probably sour and nasty from the heat by now.
As to the rest of them, the ones taking TVs and other shit they can’t even use right now, sure they are nothing but mean and petty brutes, but who is going to judge them? We live in the richest, fattest country in the world, and yet we were too mean and hard to take care of our poor and sick when things get tough. We ran for safety and left them to die.