Katrina: The Unnatural Disaster

I'm not going to waste space on people who want to blame the Gulf Coast tragedy on the liberation of Iraq or on Bush's magical ability to cause hurricanes. There are too many important questions that need to be asked about the Government's response - or lack of it - to hurricane Katrina.

Aziz Poonawalla at Dean Esmay hits it when he says
Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flooding of NOLA were the first, "natural" disaster to strike our nation this week. I have argued that the Administration and the President in particular cannot be blamed for this in my last post ...

The second disaster this week however has been "un-natural" - or rather, self-inflicted. It's the humanitarian disaster unfolding now, a situation which a full five days after the hurricane still shows no sign of amelioration. ...

The unnatural disaster is the proper subject of political scrutiny. Here are some posts from around the blogosphere:

LaShawn Barber tears the President a new one:
...We voted Bush in office because we thought he’d clean up the joint and restore the honor it once had. But every time we turn around we see Clinton with a tin cup asking “the American people” for money.
Second, why, someone please tell me, is our federal government so unprepared and inept? It’s been four days since the storm ended, and people are still without food and water. Dead bodies are sitting on the side of the road. Can you imagine, God forbid it, if Islamofascists decided to unleash whatever bombs they have? I’m not talking about terrorist thugs coming into the country; I’m talking about the ones already here, the Allah-loving America haters we foolishly let in.

It’s been almost 4 years since 9/11. We’ve spent BILLIONS of dollars on so-called homeland security. We watched in disgusted amazement when Bush created yet another federal agency, but we thought he knew what he was doing.
I’m seething with rage, and if I could have five minutes alone with George Bush, I’d start by telling him what I think of his boy Clinton, a man who disgraced the office of the presidency and embarrassed this country, and what I think of him for thrusting him upon the American people. Then I’d tell him how inept I think the “war on terrorism” is and ask him why he’s so afraid of the media....

Liberals hate George Bush, and no matter what he does, they’ll use anything and anyone to get at him. I don’t hate the man. I voted for him. I want him to succeed, but more than that, I want to be safe, feel safe, and I don’t. The federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina has been an epic and humiliating embarrassment. ...

I know, I know…George Bush is only one man, but the Democrats are circling in the water. They’re going to have his head for this, for all the wrong reasons, of course, but I won’t be lifting a finger to defend him. ...

Grace Davis wants to know:

This blatant dismissal of human beings, American citizens, stashed like animals in the Superdome, this situation which has been covered 24 hours non stop on the major news sources since the beginning of the week, the federal government did not even know about this until yesterday?

Are you fucking kidding me?

So come on, tell me how not to blame and politicize. How I can't tell these asshats SHAME ON ALL OF YOU.

Ron Fournier thru Rich Lowry at The Corner:
Just last year, the Army Corps of Engineers sought $105 million for hurricane and flood programs in New Orleans. The White House slashed the request to about $40 million. Congress finally approved $42.2 million, less than half of the agency's request.

Yet the lawmakers and Bush agreed to a $286.4 billion pork-laden highway bill that included more than 6,000 pet projects for lawmakers. Congress spent money on dust control for Arkansas roads, a warehouse on the Erie Canal and a $231 million bridge to a small, uninhabited Alaskan island.

How could Washington spend $231 million on a bridge to nowhere - and not find $42 million for hurricane and flood projects in New Orleans? It's a matter of power and politics.

Alaska is represented by Republican Rep. Don Young, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, and Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, a senior member of the all-important Senate Appropriations Committee. Louisiana's delegation holds far less sway.

Source: Ron Fournier at My Way.

Pseudo-Adrienne at Alas asks:
"why the fuck is it taking so long to get these people some serious help and aid?" And I sympathize with the mayor of New Orleans and his anger directed towards the Federal government and their apparent 'slowness' to respond.
Another unavoidable issue brought to light by the coverage of the devastation and those hardest-hit by Katrina, is the race plus socioeconomic status issue. Once again the media has whether intentionally or unintentionally cited how much race tied in with socioeconomic status plays a roll in our society and *still matters*, especially when it comes to such disasters as hurricanes that devastates certain segments of our society more so than others.

Read the whole post at the link, including the excerpts from David Corn's article at The Nation. And if you haven't done so, follow Pseudo-Adrienne's link to the Red Cross.

Cicero at Winds of Change has this to say about expectations:
I was a single-issue voter in the last election. I voted for President Bush because I felt he was right about Iraq, and more fundamentally, about our security. I overlooked just about everything else that I disliked about his presidency on that single issue.

Since 9/11, President Bush has made a compelling case that we need to rebuild our security mechanisms, at home and abroad. The Department of Homeland Security was formed here at home, and we were put on a war footing abroad. I believe that this is sensible given the levels of terror threats that we face. Unfortunately, I had to turn away from my own party to vote for someone who I believed took my nation's security more seriously.

I think there were a lot of Ciceros at the 2004 polls -- security-minded Democrats who voted for President Bush. As that kind of voter, I am having trouble with what I see going on in New Orleans.

After all the emphasis the Bush Administration has placed on this nation's security, exporting freedom abroad to Iraq, and the dire warnings about WMDs on our soil, my expectation in the era of terror -- the era of holding back chaos -- is that the Bush Administration can thwart chaos effectively. On the Federal level. That's what the game plan has been for the last five years: The Federal Government has stepped in with huge spending increases to prepare the United States for the chaos of terrorism. It has been a nationalized priority, costing billions.

New Orleans is devolving into anarchy, death, pillage and disease, nearly five days after Hurricane Katrina came ashore. Things appear to be improving only incrementally. Clearly, this is a crisis of unprecedented magnitude, with immense logistical challenges. It is reasonable to ask, however, if for the last five years the 'anti-chaos' mechanisms that have been put into place are as effective as advertised.

The Bush administration's credibility is on the line. ...

That's all I have for now on Katrina and the unnatural disaster. I'll post more next week.