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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/3/10

No, Its Not Obama's Katrina

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The new talking points from the Republican, anti-Obama, amen chorus is a hilarious, vapid and senseless brew - even by Republican conservative standards. Nowadays everything that happens negatively in America from the recession, the army wacko who killed his colleagues, to the underpants bomber and the Goldman Sachs issue has become "Obama's Katrinas." I mean, when the New York Times, Daily News, Post and Washington Post in sync with the wing-nuts on Fox 5, CNN et al keep applying what is obviously a counter-productive case of political penis-gazing this "blame Obama for everything" is just way too other-worldly.

The arrogance of these folks who monopolize the airways and TV space and gabble daily from the same playbook and exchange talking points, all begin with some carefully worded and suggestive headline grabbing statement. So we get something like "Goldman Maybe Obama's Katrina" ad infinitum. Then ordinary people start believing this constant drivel having been conditioned to let the TV, radio and newspapers do the thinking for them.

These radio and TV talk show hosts, editorial page journalists, and on-line bloggers are manipulators that strive to divorce us from the facts. Rather than encouraging us to examine the evidence and reasoning of people who appear to disagree with us, they block communications and openly or indirectly try to persuade us that people who disagree with their views are dishonest, not trustworthy, incompetent, biased, racist, only concerned with money, insulting our intelligence, corrupt, betrayers of the American dream, and so on.

The subtext is: "Do not consider alternative points of view. Do what we tell you, without realizing that we are controlling you." Like cult leaders, manipulators encourage us to close ranks and form an in-group suspicious of those who question the party line. The final technique is to find some pseudo-intellectual to feature on TV making the most self-righteous assertions that nobody gets to question or debunk. These days the line is to tag President Obama as somehow responsible for the Gulf Oil spill by linking him and it to Hurricane Katrina charging that he did not respond in time.

By giving President Obama ownership of the oil spill and painting his response as pathetic and detached as George Bush was in his handing of Hurricane Katrina, the neoconservatives and the talking heads are relying on the ignorance of the American people and their intellectual laziness. But an examination of both incidents reveal some serious flaws in the new Republican Party line arguments and further exposes the sheer incompetence and insensitivity of the Bush Administration's handling of the Hurricane Katina disaster.

First and foremost Hurricane Katrina was an act of nature while the gulf oil spill was an accident that has never happened before and so the novelty of it all was that no one, not even the President of the United States, could have predicted what has transpired. By contrast , the New Orleans disaster was entirely man-made. It was the Bush Administration that cut the maintenance budget for the levees 14 months before Katrina hit by $71.2 million. Moreover, while the responsibility for making New Orleans hurricane-proof rested solely with President Bush who ignored the report by the Army Corps of Engineers who accurately predicted that given the state of the levees even a Category 1 hurricane could cause them to break.

President Barack Obama does not own or control British Petroleum. This British company owns the oil-rig and therefore they have the responsibility to deal with the accident. Blaming Obama for this accident is plain stupid and far-fetched.

And too, the United States has the technological capabilities to predict hurricanes and do so each and every year. In the case of Hurricane Katrina it was well known long before the storm made landfall that that year the United States would be hit by a very powerful storm. So that the sensible thing would have been to take precautions and develop evacuation plans well ahead of time. The Bush Administration should have used this important data to plan emergency supplies relief and delivery regimes and temporary housing for those projected to be displaced.

None of this forward planning was done and juxtaposing the Gulf Oil spill with Katrina is just plain spin. The Obama Administration would have needed divine intervention or a revelation from God himself to predict and plan for without any evidence or precedent a tragic accident that happened when the mechanical spigot that was supposed to turn off the oil simply malfunctioned.

What the neoconservatives and their cohorts in the media conveniently forget to inform Americans about is the fact that President George W. Bush could have and had ample time to prepare for Katrina and the inevitable flooding that caused so much loss of life and make thousands of New Orleans people refugees in their own country.

The simple fact is that he did not do it and chose not to. On the contrary, the evidence is there that going back to 2001 the Bush Administration systematically undermined the capacity of FEMA to respond to internal natural disasters. He packed the top spots with his Republican cronies who new diddley -squat about disaster preparedness.

And while President Barack Obama was on top of the Gulf Oil spill from day one President Bush was making a speech three hours after Katrina hit; his defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld was at a baseball game and the Administration was woefully disengaged from the unfolding catastrophe. The day after Hurricane Katrina wreaked its destruction Bush went on holiday and the official response came three days later. By that time thousands of people were fleeing for their lives, thousands had died and the vast majority of the affected population, including New Orleans, was dazed and in a state of utter shock.

So, no, the Gulf Oil spill is not Obama's Katrina. That is a figment of the warped and illusionary minds of the Rush Limbaughs, Glen Becks, et al. who would blame this president if the clouds obscured the moon. Let us remember that the US Coast Guard was at the rig about two hours after the explosion and the Interior Department and the Department of Homeland Security were engaged from the get go. The Obama Administration is working with local governments, has pledged the full weight of the resources of the Federal Government, and is holding BP accountable for the spill and its clean up.

That's leadership. Petting a goat and remaining disengaged from the grim reality of Hurricane Katrina is not leadership. Obama may yet get his Katrina, but not today no matter how hard these talking heads try with blown up issues and crack-pot theories that would make Don Quixote, the Man of LaMancha, green with lunatic envy.

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MICHAEL DERK ROBERTS Small Business Consultant, Editor, and Social Media & Communications Expert, New York Over the past 20 years I've been a top SMALL BUSINESS CONSULTANT and POLITICAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST in Brooklyn, New York, running (more...)

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