The lovely and talented Watertiger has been all over this phenomenon of the last 72 hours or so, but this post was especially excellent:
Hurricanes are rather unique for natural disaters in that they are predictable. At what point did the entire planet know with virtually absolute certainty that Katrina was going to hit the Gulf Coast with a Category 5 vengeance? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
That's right -- we all knew by Saturday afternoon. Now, you may say to yourself, "But wait, Heywood. What could Dear Leader possibly have done even if he had left his tumbleweed farm right away? After all, even God's Favorite Preznit cannot talk Him out of unleashing a mighty force of nature upon America's Den Of Iniquity. He can only do so much, thanks to the congressional liberals who keep holding him back."
Oh, too true. But there are a few things that could have been done in preparation over the weekend, that would have helped out a lot of American citizens. Tonight's newscast showed how private boat owners have been volunteering to rescue people who were trapped in their houses by the flash flooding. This is wonderful, but in a litigious society such as ours, seems rather risky -- especially when we have a "Coast Guard". A prepared preznit could have had such a "Coast Guard" on standby, ready to rush in as soon as the 160+ mph winds had blown through. Not only are the people in the "Coast Guard" trained rescue professionals, it keeps a lot of private citizens from having a lot of undue responsibility (and possible liability) dumped on their shoulders by an unprepared government.
(I realize that the Coast Guard is, in fact, on the scene and saving lives by the hundreds; my point is that they have so underfunded and sidetracked that the government literally has to dragoon private citizens to risk their lives -- and those of the people they rescue, if they don't really know what they're doing. This is unconscionable. But this should not be perceived as a slam at the Coast Guard, which does fine work.)
Another thing a prepared preznit could (and should) have done -- arranged to open up the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, to help cushion the very real oil shock that is already underway, and will likely last for months now. Today gas prices jumped 15¢ in California. It was at $2.79 on my way home from work this afternoon; it will probably be around $3.00 by the end of the week. A lot of hard-working blue-collar people -- which, again, Bush ceaselessly claims some sort of affinity with -- take a real hit to the pocketbook from something like that.
This administration burbles an awful lot about the intangibles, like morale. Which would have meant more morale-wise for the immediate victims of the hurricane -- seeing their president on top of the situation, getting back to headquarters early so he can get a jump on the problem; or watching him flit from another tiresome Medicare "conversation", which could have been put off for a while, to a VJ-Day anniversary where he yet again lamely compared this war to World War 2?
I resent that comparison, by the way, and I resent Bush comparing our campaign against aggressive Japanese imperialism to this clusterfuck. The other day I called my dad to wish him a happy 81st birthday. My dad actually fought in WW2, in the Navy. He was on an anti-aircraft ship in the Atlantic, and had some adventures in Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia. Then his older sister took ill and died, so he went home for a brief bereavement leave. Upon his return, he was put on a minesweeper in the Pacific, which was en route to Japan when we nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (And yes, the bomb is horrible, and no one else has ever used such a weapon, but no one else had ever committed such large-scale atrocities like the Rape of Nanking or the Bataan Death March, which the Japanese have only just gotten around to even apologizing for.)
Anyway, my point is that my father is a wonderful first-hand resource for thoughts on war, and the need to fight them. Suffice to say that he detests George W. Bush, despises the Iraq War, and is probably livid that such a pissant would even dare to speak of the Pacific campaign in WW2 as if he actually knew a goddamned thing about history or actually fighting in a war.
But once again I digress. The main point is that Bush could and should have been on top of the hurricane situation, and dropped what he was doing to take care of what is literally a national emergency. Instead he headed further west to take care of his photo-ops, and then had the fucking gall to act like he was doing the world some sort of fucking favor by shortening his 35-day vacation to a mere 33 days.
Watertiger puts it quite concisely:
Fuckin' A. Incidentally, speaking of poll numbers, that's the truly ironic part about this -- Bush would have undoubtedly gotten a respite from his six-month slump just by showing up. He really shot himself in the foot all the way around on this one. He had a real opportunity to show some leadership and take-charge initiative, and he chose the scheduled photo-ops.
No doubt he'll be in Nawlins in a couple weeks, when the waters finally recede and the cholera threat is contained, standing on a pile of rubble in a carefully-selected work shirt, issuing bromides and platitudes through his Li'l Leader bullhorn.
Truly we are blessed.
Also, AmericaBlog is doing truly spectacular coverage on the whole thing, and has quite a bit on the rescue efforts. As of nightfall, efforts to shore up one of the main levees and pump out some water have come to a halt, essentially meaning another dozen feet of water. Tens of thousands of people are literally trapped in the Superdome right now, which is crumbling from the storm damage. Looting and violence are rampant throughout the city, as well as people stealing essentials from the store just so they can eat.
God forbid, but if the death toll from Hurricane Katrina turns out to top 9/11 (plus the estimated $25+ billion in damage so far), we will certainly remember that just as Bush froze reading My Pet Goat when he heard about the Twin Towers, so did he run off to San Diego to play his git-tar when the whole world knew what was about to befall New Orleans. Let 'em eat cake, indeed.
That's what he thinks of you, red-staters. Do you get it now?