Saturday, September 10, 2005

Complete & Unmitigated Disaster

Partisan doctrine under the present failed administration has now authored a *SECOND complete and unmitigated disaster in America counting 9/11. Americans are now hanging their heads in shame before the rest of the world over over the almost complete collapse and lack of preparedness before, during & after Hurricane Katrina.

You can bet on the victims of this catastrophe not only suffering the shockingly appalling consequences, but being blamed for it as well. Such is the sleaze factor typifying this administration . . . which has never allowed "The buck to Stop Here" unless it went into one of their pockets. (Don't you just love the way administration supporters are saying, "Now is not the time to lay blame; Now is the time to come together to repair the damages."?)

But the American public - at least those not blinded by political dogma - are learning the truth. And yes, it is right and proper that the perpetrators be called to account, and the sooner the better lest we are witness to yet another catastrophe.

The following is a chronological timeline of the development of this disaster written by a Stanford University Professor. As he says, "Read it and weep":

Here's a timeline that outlines the fate of both FEMA and flood control projects in New Orleans under the Bush administration. Read it and weep:

January 2001:
Bush appoints Joe Allbaugh, a crony from Texas, as head of FEMA. Allbaugh has no previous experience in disaster management.

April 2001:
Budget Director Mitch Daniels announces the Bush administration's goal of privatizing much of FEMA's work. In May, Allbaugh confirms that FEMA will be downsized: "Many are oncerned that federal disaster assistance may have evolved into both an oversized entitlement program...." he said. "Expectations of when the federal government should be involved and the degree of involvement may have ballooned beyond what is an appropriate level."

FEMA designates a major hurricane hitting New Orleans as one of the three "likeliest, most catastrophic disasters facing this country."

*(Blogger's Note: FEMA also identified a major terrorist attack as one of the three likeliest catastrophies - well in advance of 9/11)

December 2002:
After less than two years at FEMA, Allbaugh announces he is leaving to start up a consulting firm that advises companies seeking to do business in Iraq. He is succeeded by his deputy, Michael Brown, who, like Allbaugh, has no previous experience in disaster management.

March 2003:
FEMA is downgraded from a cabinet level position and folded into the Department of Homeland Security. Its mission is refocused on fighting acts of terrorism.

Under its new organization chart within DHS, FEMA's preparation and planning functions are reassigned to a new Office of Preparedness and Response. FEMA will henceforth focus only on response and recovery.

Summer 2004:
FEMA denies Louisiana's pre-disaster mitigation funding requests. Says Jefferson Parish flood zone manager Tom Rodrigue: "You would think we would get maximum consideration....This is what the grant program called for. We were more than qualified for it."

June 2004:
The Army Corps of Engineers budget for levee construction in New Orleans is slashed. Jefferson Parish emergency management chiefs Walter Maestri comments: "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay."

June 2005:
Funding for the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is cut by a record $71.2 million. One of the hardest-hit areas is the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, which was created after the May 1995 flood to improve drainage in Jefferson, Orleans and St. Tammany parishes.

August 2005:
While New Orleans is undergoing a slow motion catastrophe, Bush mugs for the cameras, cuts a cake for John McCain, plays the guitar for Mark Wills, delivers an address about V-J day, and continues with his vacation. When he finally gets around to acknowledging the scope of the unfolding disaster, he delivers only a photo op on Air Force One and a flat, defensive, laundry list speech in the Rose Garden.

A crony with no relevant experience was installed as head of FEMA. Mitigation budgets for New Orleans were slashed even though it was known to be one of the top three risks in the country. FEMA was deliberately downsized as part of the Bush administration's conservative agenda to reduce the role of government. After DHS was created, FEMA's preparation and planning functions were taken away.

Actions have consequences. No one could predict that a hurricane the size of Katrina would hit this year, but the slow federal response when it did happen was no accident. It was the result of four years of deliberate Republican policy and budget choices that favor ideology and partisan loyalty at the expense of operational competence. It's the Bush administration in a nutshell.

Henry Breitrose
Professor of Communication
Department of Communication
Stanford University
Stanford, California USA 94305-2050

1 comment:

  1. The funny thing is, the three major disasters predicted by STRATFOR analysts at the dawn of the first Bush Administration --a terrorist attack on a major U.S. city, a devastating hurricane along the Florida or Gulf Coast, and a catastrophic earthquake striking California-- have come to pass (well, two of the three anyway). The response to each has been royally fscked up big time by the Bu'ushists (and all other levels of government, for that matter), despite all the advanced warning and all the chest thumping about response capability, limitless resources, and eternal vigilence.

    One can only wonder what a catastrophe the government will bring about when the "Big One" hits California and FEMA and all the other bureaucratic fiefdoms will be just as unprepared for it as they were for Katrina and 9/11.


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