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Thursday, September 01, 2005

Comments on Katrina

Excerpts from recent columns:
Why can't the US government focus on America's needs and leave other countries alone? Why are American troops in Iraq instead of protecting our own borders from a mass invasion by illegal immigrants? Why are American helicopters blowing up Iraqi homes instead of saving American homes in New Orleans?

How can the Bush administration be so incompetent as to expose Americans at home to dire risks by exhausting American resources in foolish foreign adventures? What kind of "homeland security" is this?

All Bush has achieved by invading Iraq is to kill and wound thousands of people while destroying America's reputation. The only beneficiaries are oil companies capitalizing on a good excuse to jack up the price of gasoline and Osama bin Laden's recruitment.

What we have is a Republican war for oil company profits while New Orleans sinks beneath the waters.
-- Paul Craig Roberts

The destruction of New Orleans represents a confluence of many of the most pernicious trends in American politics and culture: poverty, racism, militarism, elitist greed, environmental abuse, public corruption and the decay of democracy at every level.
...
Bush said there was no money for this kind of folderol anymore. The federal budget had been busted by his tax cuts and his war. And this was a deliberate policy: as Bush's mentor Grover Norquist famously put it, the whole Bushist ethos was to starve the federal government of funds, shrinking it down so "we can drown it in the bathtub." As it turned out, the bathtub wasn't quite big enough -- so they drowned it in the streets of New Orleans instead.

But as culpable, criminal and loathsome as the Bush Administration is, it is only the apotheosis of an overarching trend in American society that has been gathering force for decades: the destruction of the idea of a common good, a public sector whose benefits and responsibilities are shared by all, and directed by the consent of the governed. For more than 30 years, the corporate Right has waged a relentless and highly focused campaign against the common good, seeking to atomize individuals into isolated "consumer units" whose political energies kept deliberately underinformed by the ubiquitous corporate media can be diverted into emotionalized "hot button" issues (gay marriage, school prayer, intelligent design, flag burning, welfare queens, drugs, porn, abortion, teen sex, commie subversion, terrorist threats, etc., etc.) that never threaten Big Money's bottom line.
-- Chris Floyd

The destruction of New Orleans-a catastrophe far worse than anything Osama Bin Laden could hope to wreak, considering the number of deaths, the closing down of a major U.S. port city for months, the destruction of an urban environment that will take years to repair, and the devastating disruption of one-fourth of the nation's oil production, which is likely to initiate a national recession-gives final proof of the stupidity and criminality of the Bush Administration's invasion of Iraq and of the bankruptcy of the Democratic so-called oppositon.
...
How stupid is it that we are spending hundreds of billions of dollars on programs that are supposedly designed to deter or interdict terrorists-a nearly hopeless endeavor given the ease with which terrorists can just figure out new ways around each new program.

The most a terrorist attack can hope to do is bring down a few buildings and kill a few hundred people, while natural disasters can do tens of billions in damage, wreck a national economy, displace hundreds of thousands, and kill thousands. And unlike with terrorism, there are things that can actually be done to guard against or mitigate natural disasters.

Not, however, if all the government's resources are being diverted to war.

It is high time that the American public recognize that even if they don't have a relative at risk in Iraq, even if they don't personally feel the impact of that war in any obvious way, the whole nation is being put at risk by Bush's Iraq folly.
-- Dave Lindorff.

While our attention must now be on the Gulf Coast's most immediate needs, the nation will soon ask why New Orleans's levees remained so inadequate. Publications from the local newspaper to National Geographic have fulminated about the bad state of flood protection in this beloved city, which is below sea level. Why were developers permitted to destroy wetlands and barrier islands that could have held back the hurricane's surge? Why was Congress, before it wandered off to vacation, engaged in slashing the budget for correcting some of the gaping holes in the area's flood protection?

It would be some comfort to think that, as Mr. Bush cheerily announced, America "will be a stronger place" for enduring this crisis. Complacency will no longer suffice, especially if experts are right in warning that global warming may increase the intensity of future hurricanes. But since this administration won't acknowledge that global warming exists, the chances of leadership seem minimal.
-- NY Times editorial.