Response to Hurricane Katrina

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Opinionated Summary

George W. Bush's administration has been shameful in its lackadaisical response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and has compounded this shame by focusing their belated responses primarily on their own political power-reinforcement, self-congratulations, and (when they reach the point of admitting that the response has been inadequate) claiming that nobody had foreseen the possibility of such a disaster.

The government's response has been widely described as a national disgrace, by critics inside the US and abroad. Such accusations tend to fly thick and fast in any major disaster such as this — but in this case they do seem warranted in that there seems to have been no contingency plan, despite the countless discussions of the inevitability of exactly this disaster (and worse) over the past few years, with plenty of warning that action was needed if it was to be prevented.

Worse, the administration seems to be actively denying that anyone had any idea that this could happen (Bush: "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." [1]; Chertoff: "That 'perfect storm' of a combination of catastrophes exceeded the foresight of the planners, and maybe anybody's foresight." [2]). This can only be monumental stupidity, willful ignorance, or perhaps a deliberate application of the Big Lie technique.

It should be noted, also, that this administration has "repeatedly denied full funding for hurricane prevention and flood control" (siphoning much of the money off to pay for the war in Iraq), thus allowing a known problem to remain unaddressed until it was too late.

As icing on the cake, the Department of Homeland Security has apparently gone ahead with declaring September to be National Preparedness Month.

Transportation Effects

A further effect of the hurricane has been a sudden leap in gasoline prices, because of damage to the supply lines (many of which went through southern Louisiana) and drilling rigs (many located just offshore in the Gulf of Mexico). This has added to already high gasoline prices which are ultimately due to gradually decreasing crude oil output as the Earth's supply dwindles, which highlights the current administration's continual inattention to strengthening public transportation (using less fuel per passenger-mile) and development of alternative fuels.

Media Manipulation

  • 2005-09-10 about 2 days ago, the Bush administration apparently began trying to shift blame to local officials – including a blatantly false statement about the Louisiana governor's actions, which was widely repeated as fact – and to paint criticisms of the administration's handling of the crisis as "Democrats ... seeking political gain at a moment of national crisis". [3] [4]

Reference

News

Opinion

Analysis

Humor

  • Mr. Bill's Hurricane "In this public service announcement created before Katrina, Mr. Bill of SNL fame demonstrates the dangers of a hurricane hitting New Orleans." Apparently even Mr. Bill has better predictive skills than the Bush administration did.

Counterpoints

  • 'The governor of Mississippi, for instance, was pressed hard by a television news interviewer until he finally said, "I know what you want me to say -- that the federal government dropped the ball on this. But they didn't. They were as prepared as anyone could have been, and they've done everything that could be done.' (Or words to that effect)." -- Orson Scott Card (the remainder of the article argues, among other things, that GWB was not in a position to prevent the damage.)

Notes

  • There have been rumors that Canada offered help, but that the help was not allowed to enter the country — details, anyone?