In the 2004 election season, Republicans kept flaming fears of terrorism and the "axis of evil" so that they could hammer, hammer, hammer away at their dubious claim: vote for us, only we can keep you safe. The aftermath of hurricane Katrina clearly, ultimately, and definitely expose that claim to be A BLATANT LIE. This disaster looks to put 9/11 in its shadow in terms of human lives and economic costs, and the policies of this administration have served to make the problem WORSE.
If you want to start screaming that the sky is falling, by all means, go ahead! You can go back up the chain of events as far as the genesis of Hurricane Katrina itself. Do you think that the Republican anti-environmentalists might finally start taking global climate change seriously? Now, this humble blogger isn't accusing the Republicans of causing a Category 4-and-a-half hurricane, but there's a pretty obvious connection between the fact that ocean surface temperatures are on the rise, and that this makes meaner storms. It ain't rocket science, but this not-so-humble aerospace engineer will tell you it's a very short line between enthalpy and vorticity.
Not ready to take on Republican anti-environmentalism in the Global Warming arena? Alright then, try reading this chilling article released from the Louisiana Governor's Office just a month before the storm, begging George Bush (tragically too late) to address the erosion of the coastal wetlands. These wetlands act as a direct buffer to the storm, reducing the tidal surge height as it travels toward critical populated areas. "Repair the marshland or rebuild New Orleans," the report says. Disturbing.
On Thursday, Bush tried to play the same "What, me worry" card as his administration did after 9/11, telling Diane Sawyer, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." LIES! Or is he just that ignorant of his own government's predictions? This exact scenario was highlighted by an early 2001 FEMA report as one of the top three disasters that could befall America. What else did they predict? A terrorist strike on NYC! What did the Bush administration say after that catastrophe? "I don't think anybody could have predicted that ... they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile," quoth Rice. And of course that was a LIE, too! But before we get distracted by history, let's just remember that he should have anticipated the flooding of New Orleans because it was his administration that gutted the funding of flood protection projects to pay for this Quixotic quest for non-existent WMD in Iraq. KEEPING US SAFE, INDEED! (London and Madrid bombings themselves breach the levees of Bush's claim that "taking the fight to the enemy" will keep them from hitting us at home.)
And speaking of Iraq, that's also where Bush is bogging down critical National Guard manpower and equipment that should be at home in Louisiana protecting her citizens. KEEPING US SAFE, INDEED!
Don't worry, we don't need our National Guard; FEMA will come to the rescue, right? Haha, more lies! According to the King County, WA Office of Emergency Management Director,
The advent of the Bush administration in January 2001 signaled the beginning of the end for FEMA. The newly appointed leadership of the agency showed little interest in its work or in the missions pursued by the departed Witt. Then came the Sept. 11 attacks and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. Soon FEMA was being absorbed into the "homeland security borg."
And an NPR interview further elucidated the shift under the Bush administration of FEMA's time-spending priorities from about 75% toward disaster drills and training before Bush, to about 25% drills and training this year. Training, who needs that? KEEPING US SAFE, INDEED!
So to recap: this isn't just a blame game. This is about accountability! All throughout the War on Terror and this farce in Iraq, the Bush administration and Republicans across the board have fed us this ridiculous line that they were the only ones who could keep us safe. In this most predictable (and predicted) hour of need, their lies have been laid bare, and they have failed at their self-proclaimed specialty. They have no monopoly on keeping Americans safe -- they don't even have the ability to do so. The Bush administration's policies have made people less safe, and Louisiana is paying the price for their charade.