Credit Where Due

Nice to see that someone in that family is useful in a natural disaster.

[Later: Joe Duermer, bless him, has an unbeatable overview of the situation. “This is no time for politics,” people say, and to the extent that some of us might be about more immediately useful work, they may be right — but one useful end that some of us can serve is to point out that the past five years the U.S. government has operated in explicit repudiation of reality-based politics, and the chickens are coming home (or “homeless”) to roost. The Bush regime had no adequate plan about what to do after invading Afghanistan, none for concluding its adventure in Iraq, it specifically ignored direct, vivid, easy-to-understand warnings about short-changing New Orleans’s emergency preparedness and now feigns surprise that NO was unprepared. I fear that what Jeneane proposes as bitter satire may turn out, in some warped manifestation, to become official policy. So much for government by wish-fulfillment, fantasy, and slander — though, of course, it’s other people who have to live and die with the consequences of W’s fantasies.)

(Go to Shelley’s and download Kansas Joe and Memphis Minnie’s “When the Levee Breaks”:

If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break
If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break
And all these people have no place to stay. . . .)

6 comments / Add your comment below

  1. “Joe Duermer, bless him…” ??? Oh, please!!! A pox on all the ding-dongs he quotes. What good are they doing? The blame-shifting and finger-pointing over the New Orleans affair has gotten to where it stinks worse than the rotting corpses there.

    Yes, the Bush administration’s handling of this whole thing has been pretty incompetent, but so has everyone elses. Since at least the FDR administration, both major political parties (and all the minor parties I’m aware of) have been lined up to suck at the public tit. The only time any of them complain is when they’re stuck with the hind one. They make crocodile tears over the suffering of the underprivileged in an effort to move themselves farther up the food chain, but they don’t do much more than pay lip service to justice and mercy. And when they get to the head of the line, they’re just as morally bankrupt as those they criticize.

    Across the river from me in West Virginia, Sen. Robert Byrd has turned eating from the public trough into a high art form. I don’t admire him at all, and I’m a democrat. For at least the past century, and especially since World War II, our elected officials of both parties have sown the whirlwind by stealing resources from things like emergency preparedness and care of those in need in order to line the pockets of their campaign contributors. Now we are reaping the whirlwind, and those who try to make take political advantage from this tragedy are the lowest of the low.

    How many lives have all these bloggers saved while they’re sittin’ in the kitchen, a-grousin’ and a-bitchin’? Not (to borrow their favorite word) a fucking one! They would have some credibility if they would actually get off their asses and DO something. (FWIW, I’m on my way there now.) Then they would actually have something to put on their CVs when they start criticizing other folks. As it is now, all they can use to point to their moral superiority over officials in the Bush administration is the excess of their foul language.

    You know, come to think of it, we would probably be better off if we just blamed everyone else too. After all, aren’t the gospels are full of stories about how Jesus saw suffering and just criticized others because it was there? Wasn’t it too much trouble for him to actually heal some one? Wasn’t complaining all he did? When did he actually make some kind of a sacrifice to make life better for others?

  2. Last time I checked, though, the president does not have responsibilty for the federal budget beyond veto power and the tradition of creating an initial budget proposal. The budgetary responsibility falls on the congress. You are still free to blame the republicans on that count if you like.

  3. Bill, I appreciate your willingness and ability to go — bless you as well. My point is that people who undertake positions of responsibility — indeed (in this case) who seek out positions of responsibility — have to answer for the policy decisions they make. It’s a plain fact that the Bush administration has directed expenditures away from domestic infrastructure, toward financing poorly-planned wars, and that the funds while implementing tax cuts.

    Would Robert Byrd (or anyone else) have done better? I really don’t know, though the follow-through in Iraq and the scale and persistence of tax-cutting strike me as atypical of American politicians. But whgo knows, maybe Bush and his supporters were the best possible leaders we could have.

    However you parse counterfactual possibilities, though, Bush’s government stands every bit as responsible for funding the NO levee system and FEMA adequately as they stand for eliminating distant tyrants — arguably, more so. Maybe it’s unadulterated bad luck for GWB that Katrina came on his watch, but he may not say that it was unforeseen. This cataclysm was foreseen and ignored.

    I’ve heard of a number of volunteers planning to head south and pitch in. That’s intensely admirable, but it doeesn’t mean that other people shouldn’t address the pre-history of the fall of New Orleans.

    Paul, the budget clearly represents a give-and-take among all the relevant political forces (not exclusively the congressional Republicans, either, since as Bill points out, the Democrats didn’t slash any of their local pork to fund NOLA). Still, the President has commanded the U.S. armed forces into a very dangerous and costly excursion, has devoted no comparable political capital to funding domestic infrastructure, and his budgets have cut funds that the Army Corps of Engineers badly needed. I won’t give him a pass, though Bill rightly insists that everyone who fed at the trough to which federal funds were diverted from levee repair shares some of that taint.

  4. I don’t apologize for anything I said, although the way I said it could have been a little calmer. I kind of made it sound like I was mad at you, AKMA, and I’m not. But I was a little hot under the collar when I responded. Like Gomer Pyle used to say, “Surprise, surprise.”

    Paul, I know the President doesn’t have direct responsibility for the federal budget, but he sets the agenda for his administration and it has been a good deal more concerned with the war against terror than with domestic problems. The buck stops at his desk. But there are effective ways to deal with him and uneffective ones. The ones I’ve seen and read lately have mostly been uneffective.

    I suspect from the tone of your comment (restrained, I might add considering the provocation I gave you) that you’re a Republican. My comment wasn’t aimed at you or any specific Republicans. Had Kerry been elected, my guess is that I would have been just as irate because the “system” is what has led us where we are and I don’t think either Bush or Kerry have the power or the integrity (harsh words but true IMO) to take it on. It’s truly a monster.

    We’re in a situation right now (rather the poor folks along the Gulf Coast are in a situation) and I doubt that they give a hoot who is responsible for it. They just want help. My beef was with the bloggers and political commentators and politicians who are trying to make political hay from this situation. It’s despicable. Beneath despicable even.

    I’m heading out for a 3-week or so deployment with the Medical Reserve Corps because I am able to do it. It doesn’t make me morally superior to anyone. But those pundits who only shoot off their mouths make themselves morally inferior to folks who send money or goods to help, work directly to alleviate the suffering and/or take the political situation by the horns and try to correct it. All they’re doing is making a bad situation worse.

    All they seem to be able to do is liberally throw the “F” word around and make the people they throw it at mad. It’s real hard to work effectively with someone who’s mad at you. My grandfather used to say, “The size of the hole in your ear is inversely proportional to how loud the other guy is shouting at you.”

    I think the “righteousness” of any Democrat who says it’s all the fault of the Republicans, or any Republican who blames it all on the Democrats, is bankrupt from the start. Does any person of good will think George Bush or the Republican party created this situation on purpose? Does any person of average intelligence think the Democrats would have saved us from this? If they do, they need help.

    “It” is the collective fault of those who won’t sit down together and put their own agendas on the shelf and work unselfishly for justice.

  5. AKMA,

    that’s fair enough. I was just making the point that there is an officially responsible party (in the non-political sense of that word) when it comes to budgetary decisions, and its not the president.

    I don’t know if you caught the interesting letter in Spiegel castigating the German environmental minister for his statements. The (German) author points out that while the US could have done nothing to prevent hurricanes, the Germans could have done something to prevent WWII. One of those understatement of the year sorts of things.

  6. Actually, this possibility has been predicted AND planned for. A lot of work has gone on at the state and federal levels planning for a major hurricane hitting New Orleans. It’s probably why the money for levee repairs was in the budget in the first place.

    Apparently, however, this plan was poorly executed. What bugs me is that the Federal government is getting the blame for some of this when evacuation of citizens is the responsibility of the local agencies. The Federal Govt can’t do anything until the state requests a disaster declaration.

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