The hurricane was an act of God.
Then the levee broke-a failure of a man-made construction. .
This was not unforseen. Numerous articles had been written about the risks. A New Orleans Hurricane was ranked as the third most high-risk American disaster, after a NY terrorist attack and a California earthquake. Yet Bush and his Republican rubber stampers in congress (and the DLC republican look-alike democrats) cut the funding for hurricane readiness, for buttressing the levees, for strengthening the ecological buffer zones between the gulf and the city.
Now, Bush is making much about releasing oil from our strategic petroleum reserves. The experts say this is a worthless act, since we have plenty of oil. The problem, the reason our prices at the gasoline pump will be skyrocketing past $3.00 is the damage to the refineries in the region struck by Hurricane Katrina. The Financial times reports that part of the problem is that "there has been no large investment (in oil refineries) for more than a quarter of a century..."
The cutting back on funds for protecting New Orleans from a well anticipated hurricane disaster is a clear example of what happens when people support one of the most popular Republican philosophies of getting rid of government. It wil be government that rescues people, government that supervises the cleanout of th gulf coast. But it was government downsizing that doomed New Orleans It was not the hurricane that killed New Orleans. It was the levee break. Perhaps if Bush and the Republicans had not cut the funds for maintaining the levee and building up the ecological protections, not directly attributable to a cut in funds.
This excerpt from an article in editor and Publisher tells the tale:
New Orleans had long known it was highly vulnerable to flooding and a direct hit from a hurricane. In fact, the federal government has been working with state and local officials in the region since the late 1960s on major hurricane and flood relief efforts. When flooding from a massive rainstorm in May 1995 killed six people, Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA.
Over the next 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and building pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid. But at least $250 million in crucial projects remained, even as hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin increased dramatically and the levees surrounding New Orleans continued to subside.
Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars
Grover Norquist 's famous line, that he wants to starve government so it is small enough to "drown it in a bathtub" takes on ironic meaning in New Orleans, where Lake Ponchitrain is still leaking through the two block long hole in the levee.
But do the mainstream media report on the culpability of the Bush administration and the Republican anti-governemment policies that led to this horrible disaster? And I haven't even brought up their failure to deal with global warming, which Ross Gelbspan covered in his Op-Ed
Suffice it to say that the policies, incompetence and moral bankruptcy of Bush and company can now add at least a hundred more dead Americans to the balance sheet, not to mention the tens of billions of dollars this will cost. Maybe Cindy Sheehan and her motorcade on the way to the Washington DC peace march in mid September can stop in Houston at the Astrodome, where the 23,000 New Orleans refugees now staying at the Superdome will be transferred.
Bottom line-this was a horrible storm that became a mega disaster because of failure to fund well thought out projects. Part of the excuse was the drain that the war on Iraq had on our resources. Look beyond the immediate images of the death and destruction and it is clear that what you see is the work of Bush and his Republican cronies. I'm sure his evangelical supporters are praying for the hundreds of thousands who are suffering. But they probably are not facing the reality that their hands are dirty too, that probably, because of their votes for these anti-government corporatist pawns (bush and co.) people died.