Saturday, September 10, 2005


An American Failure

The fall of New Orleans is something that will have an impact on the political future of out nation. This was the worst disaster in American history, and it did not have to happen the way that it did. It was not a preventable attack in the way that 9/11 was. We were not caught off gaurd sleeping at the switch this time. We knew days in advance that the hurricane was going to hit and that it was going to be bad. People who were able to get out did so, and the rest were just left to face the hurricane on their own. The urban predominantly minority population of New Orleans was not given much assistance to get out of way of the storm. Another thing that could have led to this being far less of a tragedy in scope. The leve and pumps that were there to proected the city were not in good shape, and President Bush diverted the funds to update the system to the war in Iraq. A large portion of the LA national gaurd is also on the ground in Iraq and were unable to offer aid to their neighbors. The gaurd units that remained were ill suited for the large scale task of saving New Orleans. For the most part this were small town units that didn't possess the infastructure for a large scale rescue.

After the Hurricane hit it became clear right away that this was a major disaster. Even with that, President Bush did not end his vacation until the third day after it hit land. Vice President Dick Chenney remained on vacation for roughly a week after it hit. Lastly, secretary of state Condoliza Rice began a New York vacation the day the Hurricane hit. She went shoe shopping and attended a Broadway show while people died unnecessary deaths. This complete avoidance of the most dire natural disaster in our history ammounts to little more than Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burns. This whole scale lack of compassion is both completly unfathomable to average americans, and should not be forgotten by them.

The group primarily responsible for directing efforts in New Orleans was FEMA (Federal Emergency Managment Association) completly botched the job. Neither Mike Brown, the FEMA director, or his cheif of staff or deputy cheif of staff have had any career experience with disaster relief of any kind. These people were, however, all political friends of the Bush administration. Like the rest of our government's executive branch, FEMA that a hurricane was going to hit New Orleans, but they did nothing to be prepared to move in and help out people in it's wake. After the Hurriacne did strike, FEMA was slow to identify needs and react to them. They turned down many offers of assistance for New Orleans(far too many examples to list here but if you go through the KOS archives you'll find them spread around in there). It seems incredably unlikely that these offers were turned down from maliciousness. In all likelyhood the people organizing the relief efforts were unable to deal with such a large scale opperation that they were just swamped and couldn't effectivly do their job. FEMA director Brown has already been recused from the relief efforts and should be fired immediatly for incompotence.

The future doesn't look good for New Orleans right now. Eighty percent of the city is underwater, and this will be a long and difficult effort to bring things back to normal (or as close to it as possible). It's going to take a lot of time and a lot of money in order to fix this one. 400,000 people have lost their jobs because of this. I'm no economist, but i know that right now it'll be hard for people to find work even with the promise which some people will see, of their origional job back. This could be really bad news for our already wobbly economy.

lastly I can't write about something this big without talking about the Political implications of it. Katerina was 2 disasters, one of nature and one of the federal government. The government failed in their primary duty of protecting the citizens. There should have been an organized evacuation of New Orleans before the storm hit, but there wasn't. There should have been effective methods of flood control in New orleans, but there wern't. There should have been a well executed, organized relief effort, but again there wasn't. For these reasons, this is a failure of the Bush administration. This isn't like 9/11 where the president recieves a free pass because we were attacked by an enemy. This time it is his administration that is at fault and the gloves are off. The only rational thing for the democrats to do in a situation like this is to attack the government's failures. This is the best way to hammer home the message that they (and Bush by proxy screwed up). Bush's approval is already at 39% right now. I think as we investigate the failures of this more, that astronomically low number will get even lower.

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