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The Perfect Republican Argument

By       Message William R Castlelich     Permalink
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On August 29, 2005 Katrina hit the Louisiana coast. 80% of the city was flooded, over 1,500 were confirmed dead, hundreds of thousands of people were homeless and an entire region, including this major city, of our nation lay in ruin. The House's Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina, report concluded with the following: "We are left scratching our heads at the range of inefficiency and ineffectiveness that characterized government behavior right before and after this storm. But passivity did the most damage. The failure of initiative cost lives, prolonged suffering, and left all Americans justifiably concerned our government is no better prepared to protect its people than it was before 9/11, even if we are." (from, (http://mediamatters.org/research/201004300034.)

On April 20, 2010 a private, off-shore oil rig leased by British Petroleum exploded in a massive fireball.

On April 21, 2010, Deputy Secretary of Interior announced the Coast Guard had been dispatched to the region. An April 22 White House statement notes that following a briefing with President Obama, Department of Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano, Admiral Thad Allen, United States Coast Guard Commandant, Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, "Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes was dispatched to the region yesterday to assist with coordination and response." The Coast Guard announced that four units were responding to the fire, with additional units en route.

In an April 21 press release, BP stated they were "working closely with Transocean and the U.S. Coast Guard, which is leading the emergency response, and had been offering its help--including logistical support." A separate April 21 press release from drilling contractor Transocean also stated: "Transocean's Emergency and Family Response Teams are working with the U.S. Coast Guard and lease operator BP Exploration & Production, Inc. to care for all rig personnel and search for missing rig personnel."

On April 23, the Coast Guard stated: "The Department of the Interior, MMS, and the Coast Guard continue to support the efforts of the responsible parties to secure all potential sources of pollution. Both federal agencies have technical teams in place overseeing the proposals by BP and Transocean to completely secure the well. Until that has occurred and all parties are confident the risk of additional spill is removed, a high readiness posture to respond will remain in place." Preceding is also from http://mediamatters.org/research/201004300034.

The Comparison

What is most interesting about "Obama's Katrina," the term coined by Al Franken's "Big Fat Idiot," Rush Limbaugh, is that there's a comparison being made at all. Like Iraq, most on the right have steadfastly defended King George's non-response to Katrina blithering on about all King George was able to accomplish even with his head lodged so firmly up his rectum.

Now, an ecological disaster looms that may end up much more significant than Katrina and the same defenders of the King have pounced on "Obama's Katrina" as though it were someone hired from rentboy.com to carry luggage.

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What an incredible, but inevitable, turn of events. When people lack substance or a platform to criticize they tend to jump on red herrings and screech until something they say is actually heard. And they pick up seemingly intelligent people frustrated by an unmistakably preventable disaster. James Carville, about as far to the kooky left as the Big Fat One is to goofy right, but someone who generally has some intellect behind his rather difficult to decipher diatribes, comes out and criticizes the "naïve Obama" and his response to this Katrina. These has beens and hangers on probably do more damage from the left than the tea baggers and their icons could ever hope to do from the right.

Beyond The Big Fat One's Assertion

Understandably Mr. Carville's dynasty lost their shot to President Obama, but let's think about the Big Fat One's assertion for a moment outside of the shock of thinking "wow, now the right is even saying King George was a screw up."

In June 2002, the New Orleans Times-Picayune produced a five-part series examining what would happen to the city if a major hurricane struck (http://www.ojr.org/ojr/wiki/Katrina_Timeline/).

July 23, 2004, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) conducts "Hurricane Pam" exercise to assess results of a theoretical Category 3 hurricane. It assumes that a storm with 120-mph winds would force Lake Pontchartrain's waters over the tops of New Orleans' 17.5-foot levees and through a gap in the levee system and would flood major portions of the city and would damage up to 87 percent of the city's homes. The Times-Picayune reports that officials expect up to half the city's residents won't evacuate and that many will be trapped in attics, on rooftops, and in makeshift shelters for days. (much of the immediately preceding and the following is from http://www.factcheck.org/article348.html)

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There are of course disaster exercises on oil drilling platforms. One need only look at this disastrous industry to see the need, but the exercises are perfunctory and although they are taken seriously by the drill rig workers whose lives are perpetually in danger, there is probably not a FEMA scenario which says "what if we pretend we lose an oil rig out in the Gulf and the well head is 5,000 feet undersea and we are reliant on a private employer for information and they essentially decide to underplay the catastrophe for several days and let's say some folks are killed, what do you think our response would be?"

Pre-Katrina the government had scenarios like this for a Katrina-type event. Three years before Katrina the local newspaper was sounding the alarm. 13 months before Katrina, FEMA was running scenarios of a Category 3 hurricane (Katrina was a Category 5) and seeing catastrophic results. 13 months before King George's government had its sights on "Bush's Katrina."

With 13 months preparation and even with Mayor Nagin calling for a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans 20 hours before landfall (experts said the city needed 40), and even with the Associated Press reporting New Orleans could become "a vast cesspool tainted with toxic chemicals, human waste and even coffins released" from the city's legendary cemeteries." "The storm threatened an environmental disaster of biblical proportions, one that could leave more than 1 million people homeless," Bush on the day of Katrina at 11:06 a.m. promoted his Medicare prescription drug benefit at a 44-minute event in El Mirage, Arizona. In this address he devoted 156 words to Katrina including the following: "I want the folks there on the Gulf Coast to know that the federal government is prepared to help you when the storm passes. I want to thank the governors of the affected regions for mobilizing assets prior to the arrival of the storm to help citizens avoid this devastating storm."

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A writer for over 30 years and political satirist. Of course without a single published piece of merit, which makes me your average American blogger.

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