Pardon the Extra-Literary Digressions

The Significant Brother caught yesterday’s mention of Noah’s Wish and told me about another great organization, the Search Dog Foundation, which trains dogs to be part of FEMA-qualifed disaster search teams. These are the dogs that went looking for survivors in the World Trade Center rubble, and they are already in Mississippi and finding people in the wreckage of their homes. One more pet-related note: the ASPCA Disaster Relief Fund will help rebuild animal shelters in Louisiana and Mississippi, while the Humane Society of the United States will perform rescue missions as soon as they can.

wguitar.jpgI never set out to do a political blog–people like Josh Marshall handle that market segment fine without me–but in times like these every blog becomes a political blog for a little bit. Actually, I should stress that this isn’t “politics” in the sense that the administration, desperately attempting to escape the criticism it so richly deserves, refers to any critique of the government’s (lack of adequate) response to Katrina as an attempt to score political points. This isn’t about Democrats or Republicans; this is about George W. Bush and his “malignantly incompetent” performance from January 21, 2001 onward–which of course could have been predicted by the equal incompetence he’s displayed in just about every aspect of his adult life. This disaster wasn’t completely avoidable, of course, but enough of it was that we really do need to ask ourselves, as Gen. Wesley Clark has, tough questions about America’s lack of real leadership. As John Scalzi puts it:

“New Orleans is a physical embodiment of something I’ve thought for a very long time: That it’s going to take years to repair the all the totally unnecessary damage to our country that this adminstration has seen fit to wreak upon it.”

Because it’s not just Bush, it’s the political hacks around him as well. I caught FEMA director Michael Brown on Paula Zahn’s CNN show last night, and his response to her lead question–“How can it be that hundreds and hundreds of thousands of victims have not received any food and water more than 100 hours after Katrina hit?”–shows the inability of Team Bush to think beyond its prearranged talking points:

“Paula, I think it’s so important for the American public to understand exactly how catastrophic this disaster is.”

Right. Because, you know, all the news we’ve seen since Monday just really hasn’t made that absolutely clear. He then adds:

“I mean, we have a major American city, a major urban area that has been totally demolished. And what we’re finding is, is that, as we continue to do the evacuation and get people out, people who have completely lost everything, they have no place to go, they have nothing, that we’re finding other people who are literally coming out of second stories of homes, that are suddenly appearing on bridges that are not under water, that people who were unable or chose not to evacuate are suddenly appearing.”

Yeah, there’s a surprise: You send rescue teams into a disaster area, and look! People are there who need rescuing! Who would’ve thought? None of which answers Paula Zahn’s question: It’s four days after the storm hit. Where were you with the food and water (and sandbags) between then and now? The reality-based community wants to know.

Other writers have been offering their own commentary on the situation. Cherie Priest and Dianne Sylvan make important points about the financial immobility of those who “chose not to evacuate,” while Charlie Stross has been asking some hard questions about the long-term impact of Katrina on the world’s energy economy…and worse:

“The economic damage from closing the Port of Southern Louisiana for up to three months is huge–plausibly equal to 5% of the US balance of trade with the rest of the world…What are the likely consequences (locally and globally) of blowing a 5% of GDP sized hole under the waterline of the US economy?”

Well, as our guitar-pickin’ leader sez, “Don’t buy gas if you don’t need it.”

2 September 2005 | uncategorized |