Mark Murford sums up the salient points about the Bush administration’s response to Katrina quickly, to the point, with the right amount of sarcasm and without the crush of every little detail that would obscure what happened.
The Associated Press reported that the Army Corps of Engineers asked for $105 million for hurricane and flood programs in New Orleans just last year. The White House hacked that down to about $40 million, even as it passed the most bloated and nauseatingly pork-filled $12.3 billion energy bill in recent history, one that guaranteed we’d be sucking at the tit of foreign oil and kneeling before Bush’s pals in Big Energy for decades to come, even as more and more teenagers die in Iraq for Bush’s inept and failed war. Yay politics.
Why didn’t National Guardsmen from Louisiana and Mississippi march into New Orleans immediately after Katrina exited to take charge and keep the peace? Why, because most of them are serving in that same violent and brutally costly war in Iraq, silly. Fully 30 percent of the guard is stuck over there, along with 50 percent of their equipment. Yay Vietnam 2.0.
Why did FEMA chief Michael Brown wait hours after Katrina struck to timidly plead with his parent company, Homeland Security, for some backup, not to actually get their hands dirty but rather to help “convey a positive image” about the government’s response to the victims? Why, because he’s an incompetent lackey Bush appointee who was fired from his former job as head of something called the International Arabian Horse Association. Yay pathetic nepotism.
Just look. Senate majority leader Sen. Bill Frist, icon of hollow self-righteousness and the energy magnate’s friend, has already leveraged the Katrina nightmare to argue for more drilling in Alaska, much in the way BushCo whored Sept. 11 to cram the Patriot Act down the nation’s throat and make fear and xenophobia a national pastime. And let’s not forget trusty profit-sucking sidekick Halliburton, which has already scored a sweet deal to help repair Katrina damage, thanks to the fact that the former director of FEMA is now a Halliburton lobbyist. Ah, war and death and tragedy. They are just so goddamn profitable, right, Dubya?
And then, the kicker. Then you read that Bush has actually ordered an official probe into the botched Katrina relief efforts, a formal federal investigation into what went wrong, which is a bit like a shark ordering an investigation into what happened to all the fish. Unless this probe starts and ends in the White House, unless it hangs Bush himself up by his monkey ears and dangles him over a river of toxic Louisiana sewage, it’s merely useless and insulting and more than a little sad.
Let’s say it outright. The truest measure of any president, of any leader, is how well he takes care of his own people. And Bush, well, Bush has done a simply spectacular job of taking care of exactly his own people — the wealthy, the corporate, the extreme religious right, his core base of supporters — while happily and fiercely ignoring, restricting, condemning, destroying the rest. Are you educated or progressive or liberal or alternative-minded or sexually open or homosexual or anti-war? This means you. Are you dirt poor and belong to a minority and don’t drive an SUV and contribute six figures per annum to the RNC and maybe live in a flooded swamp in the Louisiana bayou? This means you, squared. Sucker.