Monday, September 05, 2005

Government? Sorry, Bush drowned it in a bathtub

Bush strategist Grover Norquist's famous statement that conservatives intend to starve government until they can finally drown it in a bathtub seems a little ghoulish, now, doesn't it?

Conservative neglect of legitimate governmental functions and antipathy towards public works--in this case, the funding and building of adequate levees--now comes home to roost, cruelly and horribly. The expense of building category-5 hurricane proof levees and maintaining the marshlands that at one time protected New Orleans could have been but a tiny fraction of the cost of this obscene debacle.

The Bush administration dereliction of duty is pervasive and deliberate. The federal government is being systematically and deliberately sabotaged, and where possible either privatized for more efficient looting by chosen beneficiaries of public welfare like Halliburton, or its responsibilities off-loaded to increasingly overburdened and overwhelmed state and local governments and private charities.

I think as the death toll rises and the extent of the catastrophe, the total destruction of a great American city, sinks in, people will begin to ask why this happened.

Why the federal government could not afford to build adequate levees, something the Dutch willingly do as a matter of course. Why the Bush government could afford an enormous war based on lies instead.

Why after endless expressions of cheerleader rah-rah pom-pom patriotism the Bush government has failed miserably to perform the primary purpose of the Homeland Security agency they created. FEMA, which has been folded into that agency, by law is supposed to take charge of disaster relief.

Why FEMA did not have a plan to deal with a catastrophe that everyone but George Bush, Michael Chertoff, and Michael Brown apparently knew was a constant threat to New Orleans. Why FEMA had no plan whatsoever for evacuation, no plan for the rescue of trapped people, no plan for medical treatment, no plan for keeping civil order, and as a consequence there are still people still dying as of Monday, a week into the disaster in New Orleans.

Why FEMA did not pre-position supplies, boats, helicopters, field hospitals, Army units, and National Guard units for quick relief of affected areas. Why FEMA didn't approve the requests for deploying out of state National Guard troops to New Orleans for four days. Why FEMA didn't allow the military to make food and water drops for five days. Why Navy hospital ships were still sitting in port three days into the disaster.

Why FEMA didn't allow the Red Cross to set up emergency food, water and medical relief inside New Orleans.

Why FEMA is headed by a man who has no prior disaster relief or remediation experience, who was fired for incompetence from his previous job, and who stated that he believes the whole problem is that, for reasons incomprehensible to him, the poor, the infirm, and the transportation-deprived victims of this disaster brought it on themselves by their failure to heed the evacuation order.

And we might also ask what National Guard manpower and equipment needed for immediate relief after the hurricane, were simply unavailable because deployed in Bush's war.

These are questions that need to be asked, and the American people deserve some answers.

And people should begin to ask questions about the incredible callousness and indifference to human suffering displayed by a president who strums a guitar and makes tired cliche-ridden self-congratulatory speeches on the west coast while people drown, and tens of thousands of people were being abandoned to drown or die of thirst or exhaustion or disease by his ineffective government.

We don't know yet, but there is a chance that the death toll brought to by Bush's criminal indifference and malignant neglect of actual governance, will exceed that brought to us by Osama bin Laden.

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