Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Rage Against The Dying Of The Light

Another Conservative thinker, Jeff Crouere, takes advantage of the sunshine to speak his mind (via New Orleans' own Oyster at YRHT):

As the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina enters its second week, the grim reality now becomes apparent. Due to poor planning by FEMA prior to the storm, a weak, belated and inadequate response from the federal government after the storm and decades of neglect of the State of Louisiana by the federal government, possibly 10,000 people have died as a result of this storm, making this disaster the worst in our country’s history.[...]

Some are saying that this was a surprise that the Department of Homeland Security could not have possibly imagined. Yet, such a statement is clearly a lie. LSU researchers, Louisiana emergency management officials, meteorologists in the New Orleans area and many others have been sounding the alarm for many years.[...]

This year, the Army Corps of Engineers asked for $105 million for New Orleans levee improvements, flood control and the city’s hurricane protection. The Bush administration cut the request by $65 million, while agreeing to fund pork barrel projects such as a “bridge to nowhere” for $231 million that serves 50 people in Alaska. So, hundreds of thousands of people in one of world’s showpieces were forsaken while 50 people in the frozen tundra of Alaska were served. Unbelievable![...]

In recent days, defenders of the Bush administration have been trying to shift blame to Democrats like Governor Kathleen Blanco, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard. But, in the view of this conservative Republican, all three of these individuals have acted admirably and have been working literally 24 hours a day since well before the hurricane hit. Since I live in the metropolitan New Orleans area, I watched television coverage during the crucial days before Hurricane Katrina arrived on the coast. I saw the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana plead with local residents to evacuate. They held news conferences, went on numerous TV shows, visited churches and community groups to implore people to evacuate. They ordered State Police to implement a traffic contra-flow that allowed evacuees to travel in all lanes of the Interstate to leave the area. When the storm hit, these local leaders stayed in the area to manage the response, working around the clock to help facilitate recovery. According to Louisiana State Representative Steve Scalise, Jefferson Parish officials have been “doing a great job of getting things back in order…everyone is working hard and they are making remarkable progress.” In contrast, President Bush remained on vacation for two days after the storm hit the coast and FEMA waited precious days to deliver crucial aid, undoubtedly contributing to needless deaths among the poor and feeble of New Orleans. It took way too long, it was a disgrace.

FEMA also displayed incredible bureaucratic mismanagement. According to Broussard, FEMA prevented water shipments from reaching the parish before the storm, stopped aid shipments after the storm and cut phone lines of emergency personnel. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee had to post deputies to protect the parish’s communication network from being destroyed by FEMA, our own federal government! While FEMA has been causing havoc in Jefferson Parish, they have been doing next to nothing throughout the state to provide aid to hurricane victims. According to Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter, the agency deserves a “F.”[...]

On his desk at the White House, President Harry Truman had a sign that read “The buck stops here.” In a similar vein, President Bush should accept responsibility for these deadly foul-ups and fire the officials who failed. Due to this catastrophe, heads should roll because of the utter ineptitude.
On Bush's desk: "The buck stops anywhere but here." Because, you know, "Brownie's doing a heck of a job." Just ask Karl Rove and his attack dogs. Thank you Mr. Crouere. May the sun continue to shine in on this debacle of an Administration.

Elsewhere as the AP is reporting (via Josh Marshall), as well as Rupert Murdoch's conservative tabloid the New York Post (cover story no less). The AP:

"The government's disaster chief waited until hours after Hurricane Katrina had already struck the Gulf Coast before asking his boss to dispatch 1,000 Homeland Security employees to the region — and gave them two days to arrive, according to internal documents. Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, sought the approval from Homeland Security Secretary Mike Chertoff roughly five hours after Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29. Brown said that among duties of these employees was to "convey a positive image" about the government's response for victims. Before then, FEMA had positioned smaller rescue and communications teams across the Gulf Coast. But officials acknowledged Tuesday the first department-wide appeal for help came only as the storm raged." [emphasis added]
The Post, in an article entitled, "FEMA Fool Sat On His Hands"

In Brown's memo to Chertoff, he proposed sending 1,000 Homeland Security workers within 48 hours and then another 2,000 within seven days.

The same day Brown wrote his memo to Chertoff, he also urged local fire and rescue departments outside Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi not to send trucks or emergency workers into disaster areas without an explicit request for help from state or local governments.[emphasis added]
Stunning. But we must all remember as the knives are drawn for Michael Brown that President Bush chose to appoint him. Despite the lack of ability. Despite the fact that the Bush Administration repeatedly claims that another major terrorist attack is only a matter of time. Oh yeah, and check out the qualifications of the number two and number three at FEMA. The short version: Bush turned FEMA (that's FEMA mind you) into a political honeypot for loyalists and cronies who had no qualifications, skills or competence. Bush did this. No one else. America, meet your President.

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