The International Writers Magazine: Comment
I always thought that our government, especially in the post-9/11
world, would be ready to deal with epic disasters in an expedient
and appropriate manner; I always thought, at the very least, the
Bush administration would be capable of handling another crisis
like 9/11... but the tragic event in New Orleans has proved me
The Homeless of New Orleans 09.05 © ABCNews
Our federal government
is responsible for stepping in to situations of this magnitude immediately.
Bush declared disaster areas before the storm hit and then went back
to vacationing, while the Gulf Coast was leveled. While Slidell was
blown off the map, while New Orleans was drowned, and when the looting
began what was that man doing? Reading 'My Pet Goat' probably. Hell,
at the very least he could of acted and looked concern, instead, as
a "New York Times" editorial put it, having a quality
more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration .
Whither the Homeland Security funding? Wasn't much of the money we poured
into Homeland Security supposed to go to shoring up our ability to respond
and provide relief in the wake of such disasters? It seems to me that
most of the aid currently pouring in is coming from state governments,
municipal governments, and the goodwill of private companies and corporations.
Whither the National Guard? Aren't they our primary force of disaster
response? Why can we more easily respond to Iraq's needs than New Orleans'?
Perhaps someone should have slipped Bush and company a paper clearly
indicating WMDs lay about all over The Big Easy.
Whither the levees? Weren't there strong resolutions proposed for the
current fiscal year to shore up and restructure the levee system in
the New Orleans area to prevent a crisis like this? Who made the decision
to re-route that funding into Iraq?
Whither the President? Does he have a plan? Or, as it appears, are Mayor
Nagin, Senator Landrieu, and Governor Blanco the only people with power
and influence that have an actual grasp on the ground situation in New
Orleans? One thing is perfectly clear. The crisis in New Orleans exposes
plainly the sociological problems within the United States. The hurricane
effected everyone in the area regardless of race and class, however,
the people stuck in the anarchy of New Orleans are largely black and
below middle class status. They are the true victims. They did not have
access to the infrastructure needed to evacuate or prepare them for
this storm, and they have to bear the brunt of the majority of the suffering.
The complete lack of leadership and control in this situation is at
the root of the problems in the New Orleans area. The White House had
20-50 hours to mobilize appropriate support, response, and relief personnel
to the Gulf coast area. Why didn't they? The White House is supposed
to fill that void in leadership.
Another thing this disaster shows is the money we have poured into Homeland
Security is for naught. What if someone set off a nuclear device in
downtown L.A., or perpetrated a chemical attack in, Anaheim, or a biological
attack in Riverside? Would our government be able to respond in any
capacity? This scares the living shit out of me.
I am angered at the Bush administration for dragging its heels. I am
angered at relief agencies for their inequitable proportions of efforts.
I am angered at the party currently in power for scrapping efforts that
could have prevented much of the suffering and death continuing today.
It appears that the federal government currently is incompetent to provide
the leadership needed to coordinate the relief efforts.
I pray, in my own way, for the people of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama,
and all the others who are currently living in suffering because of
this crisis. (A million homes destroyed) Now we all understand just
how naked and vulnerable we are, and how the blank war on terror is
not a solution to that essential problem.
Now that I have seen and heard Scott McClellan's answers to some of
these questions (press conference on September 1), I am even angrier.
It is clear that he wasn't giving a news conference to reassure us that
the situation in New Orleans is being dealt with competently and with
the proper amount of immediacy and accountability. He was doing damage
control for the image of his President. McClellan tried to quell any
and all questions and critiques of how our government has prepared and
responded to this problem by pleading for us not to turn this into a
political issue. He is too late.
Any time a government, through its incompetence, sentences that many
innocent people to die in squalid, violent, and preventable conditions
within their own borders, who are we supposed to turn to? Where are
our fingers supposed to point?
These are questions that we must demand answers too NOW, before something
like this happens again, because as the White House tries to cover their
own asses, more people die, and more people are put at risk. Otherwise
our questions and concerns will never be addressed by those currently
in power. "Now isn't the time" is an inappropriate response.
I want answers, and the President and his party don't seem to have any
to offer. This isn't a conservative/liberal, red state/blue
state argument. This is about our government, and its leaders being
able to adequately and competently do its job.
© Jason Hayworth CA 9 Sept 2005
And here's a pic of the President and his Dad helping out in New Orleans
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