King Cranky and Shakes are right: if George Bush doesn’t want us to dwell on New Orleans, then it’s probably a good idea for us to do so. Regarding New Orleans, Publius asks a very simple question:
So why does no one care?
That’s the essential question in a nutshell. Here’s my short answer: people stopped caring about New Orleans when they realized that the institutions most capable of handling this crisis would not do a fucking thing about it. Looking back on my posts about the New Orleans disaster, I should have realized New Orleans would become a full-blown pandimensional clusterfuck when I posted about the National Weather Service’s reports of levee breaches hours before the Bush Administration even realized there was a problem. But that was just the beginning. Within 24 hours, I realized that I hadn’t been cynical enough:
…in the days ahead, those of us not fighting for our survival have the duty and obligation to ask if anything else could have been done, if adequate preparations were made, and if adequate resources were available.
This is not partisanship, this is called citizenship. I bring this up because I am certain of only one thing regarding the Bush Administration: they will attempt to exploit this tragedy for partisan political gain, regardless of the human cost. Given all the lies and deceit this Administration has engaged in, there is nothing in its previous behavior that leads me to think otherwise.
All but the most drink-the-Kool-Aid, Grover Nordquist conserva-zombie would agree the one of the basic functions of government is to aid those in need due to natural catastrophe. If the government, local, state, and federal government responses are well done, then certain politicians deserve credit. If not, then blame.
Sadly, and tragically, it already looks like there will be some blame to go around.
Then the racism kicked in. To me, one of the worst cases was the eighteen year-old who commandeered an unused school bus, loaded it with elderly and children and drove them to safety in Houston. His reward? He was arrested for theft. Let no good deed go unpunished if it is performed by a black man.
What I didn’t realize then, but I do now, is the racist slanders promulgated by the conservative sound machine were intentional. When you possess a radical anti-government ideology, the only recourse when faced with the utter collapse of government function and authority is to blame the victim. (Hell, we all know those people can’t swim anyway).
After the loss of life and the physical destruction, the next greatest casualty was the idea that government could respond to problems like this. The irony is that this loss of confidence could help conservatives: too many people will blame ‘government’ and not the fucking moron Republicans who gutted and underfunded the agencies designed to deal with these crises, and installed incompetent cronies to run these agencies.
Hopefully, if enough people remember what happened, we can hold those responsible accountable come November. Justice demands no less.
It’s the same old story. Pick your federal agency. I wrote about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s woes in Pa. not too long ago. In brief, here’s what happened:
Interior chieftain (Norton) cuts budget for ecological services work (stuff like monitoring wetlands developers want to fill; endangered species programs, such as delineating habitat for critters like Bog Turtle) then move the money into “grants” for private conservation projects (under the heading of “working for wildlife,” or “partners for wildlife; just pick your choice of titles). Then point out all the good things you’re doing for conservation while cutting out all the stuff that developers don’t like, like ecological services. Then tell the media how ecological services is a waste of money anyway, while at the same moment harping about all the good that’s happened due to “Partners for Wildlife.”
Taking this theme to the extreme: Starve an agency for funding, then declare that it was a bad government program to start with, and only privatization will work. See National Park Service privatization. See U.S. Forest Service privatization. See privatization of Army chow halls. Same story. New wrapping.
It’s all a big shell game. And the public and our natural heritage are the loosers.
President Bush Is Doing a Heck of a Job
Hurricane Katrina gave President Bush the opportunity to show what compassionate conservatism really meant.