I admit it: I’ve become obsessed with pointing my finger at the Bush administration’s failure to respond to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.
Several times today friends asked me, “How are you?” I’d respond, “If you’re just talking about me and my life, I’m fine. If you include how I feel about the lives that have been lost by Department of Homeland Security and FEMA bungling, I’m not fine at all.” And then I’d take off on my finger-pointing rant.
It’s been a beautiful sunny warm day here in Oregon. I started off wanting to simply enjoy it, to be in the here and now. Then, driving into Salem this morning I heard right-wing talk show host Lars Larson plug his upcoming broadcast from Washington where the anniversary of 9/11 will be “celebrated.”
“We’ve got to make sure 9/11 will never happen again,” Larson said. “We must never forget the lessons of 9/11.”
For the rest of the day I couldn’t stop thinking, “Hey, 9/11 did happen again in the guise of Hurricane Katrina. The final death toll hasn’t been calculated yet, but estimates range into the thousands. And we did forget the lessons of 9/11, because the Bush administration failed to heed the clear warning that a category 4 hurricane was likely to hit New Orleans, sitting on its hands when many lives could have been saved.”
My already-dark mood wasn’t improved when, listening to the radio while driving home late in the afternoon, I heard Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff intone, “After this is over there likely will be some serious changes in how the federal government reacts to natural disasters.”
Are you kidding me? Bush and company have had four years to make serious changes to how the federal government reacts to disasters both natural and unnatural. Now you want more time, Chertoff? That’s bullshit, which is all that we’ve been getting from the Bush administration.
I’m sick of it. This is the time for finger-pointing and getting mad as hell. This is the time to never forget the victims of Hurricane Katrina. This is the time to vow to honor the dead and homeless by casting votes against the Bush administration in November 2006.
In today’s New York Times columnist Paul Krugman says that people on the Gulf coast have been “Killed by Contempt.” Meaning, the present federal government has contempt for the role of government in helping people who can’t help themselves.
A political crony, Michael Brown, was appointed FEMA director. FEMA funding was slashed after 9/11. Those were conscious decisions to enfeeble government’s ability to respond to a disaster. So Krugman is absolutely right: the Bush administration has killed people by contempt.
On the radio today several times I heard a heartbreaking interview where a New Orleans official, Aaron Broussard broke down in tears on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” You have to hear Broussard’s voice to get the full impact of the story he told about a woman in a nursing home dying after waiting four days to be saved.
[Monday morning update: The New Orleans newspaper, the Times-Picayune, published a devastating "Open letter to the President" on Sunday. The editorial calls for every FEMA official to be fired, starting with political flack Michael Brown, the FEMA director. Great idea.]
Tearful Official Slams Fema
NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- A New Orleans official is calling for congressional hearings into the federal government`s handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
'It`s not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here,' said Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard on NBC`s 'Meet the Press.'
'Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area, and bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now.'
He broke down in tears as he told of an elderly woman who drowned after being promised that help was on the way.
'The guy who runs this building I`m in, emergency management, who`s responsible for everything,' said Broussard, 'his mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, `Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?` And he said, `Yeah, Mama, somebody`s coming to get you. Somebody`s coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody`s coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody`s coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody`s coming to get you on Friday.`'
'And she drowned Friday night,' said Broussard. 'She drowned Friday night.'