Saturday, September 03, 2005

lott's house, strong-willed shortsightedness, and more post-hurricane stuff...

A few items that caught my eye today on the mess on the Gulf Coast...

Third World Countries Do It Better?

A letter-writer from the Philippines points out that in his country, relief and rescue teams are mobilized BEFORE storms hit. He asks, "Can it actually be true that the richest nation in the world can do no better than a third-world country in providing relief to its citizens in need?"

Apparently, yes.

Limits of Political Appointees
I probably shouldn't be surprised that before joining FEMA in 2001, Michael Brown worked for the International Arabian Horse Association. Intensive research by me (i.e., I visited their home page) uncovered a link asking people to help the horse victims of Hurricane Katrina, but otherwise I see no obvious clues that the IAHA is anywhere near the cutting edge of disaster relief and emergency management. I imagine Brown's best qualification was being active in Republican politics. I know the American political system relies on partisan hacks, I mean political appointees, and sometimes they can be very very good. But really, for the head of FEMA I'd kinda want somebody with some relevant experience and background, maybe ex-military or ex-law enforcement, somebody who's worked for organizations that deal with emergencies and crisis management. Not somebody who gave legal advice to an association representing a bunch of horse owners.

Rebuilding Trent Lott's House
De facto President Bush visits Alabama, and what's the money quote? "Out of the rubble of Trent Lott's house - he's lost his entire house - there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." Now as racist, Strom-Thurmond admiring, government-services slashing, war-mongering, big-business subsidizing, lacquered-hair Republican Senators go, Trent Lott isn't the worst. But really, even Karl Rove must realize that talking about building Lott's house (his beach-house, he owns another one in Mississippi and probably in the Washington area too, minimum) while people in New Orleans are STILL STRANDED AND DYING is just a tad crass, no?

Another thing that caught my eye was the shifting nature of how Bush characterized the relief effort during the course of the day on Friday. Before leaving Washington, he said the results of the relief effort were "not acceptable" -- an accidental lapse into honesty. Obviously, his handlers got to him, because later in the day he was praising Brownie (FEMA) and promising that everything would be made nifty real, real soon.

Oh sure. Just as soon as Trent Lott's house is rebuilt, and Bush can sit on the porch and gaze on the Gulf of Mexico and reflect on his heroic accomplishments.

"Strong-willed shortsightedness"
Writing in Newsweek, Ellis Cose on the Bush Administration:
I predict, however, that the more persistent and damning question about the president and his leadership will have less to do with class or race bias than with what looks a lot like strong-willed shortsightedness. There have been calls for years to make Louisiana more resistant to the threat of hurricanes; just as there were calls well before 9/11 to take the threat of Al Qaeda more seriously than we did. In both cases, as some commentators have noted, the record is rather damning.
"Strong-willed shortsightedness." A good, pithy summary of the Bush Administration's entire reign of error and terror. Whether failing to prepare for this hurricane, ignoring terrorism in the first eight months of 2001 out of a stubborn refusal to credit the Clintonistas for being right about anything, or refusing to admit that the situation in Iraq is seriously fucked up and in no way resembles the rosy scenario that Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld sold us before we invaded, "strong-willed shortsightedness" covers it all pretty well.

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