Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bush Returns to New Orleans

Two years after New Orleans, one of the great cities of the world, was
devastated by Hurricane Katrina, George Bush, whose administration
handled the disaster and most of what has followed from it
disastrously, returned and wished the people well. He did more than
that. He launched into a sermon of sorts, one that should offend both
non-believers and especially believers.

Bush called for the "Almighty's blessing on all those who suffered"(no
mention of the Almighty's regulation of insurance companies, planning
for reconstruction aid, and of course post Katrina flood protection).
If Bush was a liberal, even a cold war liberal, he might have talked
about a "Marshall Plan" for New Orleans(if he were a serious liberal
in the American sense he would have launched such a program two years
ago) but he isn't and he wouldn't dream of anything like that.

Ahead of the Bush administration came the propaganda of the vast
amounts of funds that have been sent to the city and region, the blame
on local officials for all of the failures, and the rest of the usual
stuff. Bush went to a Charter School named after Martin Luther
King(who I doubt would have supported the concept of elite charter
schools and in any case spent and gave his life fighting against the
political forces in the South who put and keep Bush in office) and
made some hollow statements about education as his staff people tried
to have him leech off the stories of really heroic people who did
survive and also to try to claim credit for the reconstruction that
has taken place.

But no one should let Bush off the hook for his administration's
handling of Katrina, a natural disaster made much worse by the way his
administration underfunded and marginalized FEMA before the storm, the
incompetence with which a FEMA administration led by an unqualified
director handled the crisis, and the administration's callous
treatment of the people of New Orleans who then had to suffer the
consequences of both the natural disaster and the administration's man
made additions to the disaster.

Along with the Iraq War, Katrina will probably go down in history as
the second tip of the iceberg that was the disaster of the Bush
administration. Effective government must have a purpose and a plan
beyond its own enrichment. The Bush administration had and has
neither and all the photo ops in the world can't obscure the fact that
New Orleans in 2005 showed that.
Norman Markowitz

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