People Get Ready

[ make levees, not war ]

What’s your plan George?

Posted by schroeder915 on January 27, 2006

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita created one of the biggest crises in American history, and how does President Bush lead? By engaging in sincere and meaningful dialog out of sight of the cameras? No. Instead, he fires salvos at devastated Louisianians in press conferences.

Louisiana’s response to Bush’s press conference deserves just as much publicity (my emphasis):

“Louisiana has a well-designed bipartisan plan for reconstruction that the White House doesn’t want to accept and very publicly rejected just Tuesday,” Blanco said in a statement. “It would enable Louisiana homeowners to avoid foreclosure and will prevent widespread suffering and financial ruin by Louisiana homeowners who simply put their faith in the integrity of levees built by the U.S. government.

“Administration officials do not understand the suffering of the people of Louisiana,” Blanco said.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who is pushing the Baker bill in the Senate, added: “The people of Louisiana have a plan. What we need is a willing, creative and enthusiastic partner in the federal government. What we need is for the president to be our No. 1 champion, not our No. 1 obstacle.”

Blanco said the administration’s opposition to Baker’s bill was like being “kicked in the teeth,” but she said she was even more disappointed by Bush’s comment that Louisiana does not have a plan to address its housing needs. …

“If they don’t like this plan, then they need to tell us which plan they do like,” she said. …

“I’ve worked hard not to have a chill in the air between me and the president,” Blanco said. “But I think now we have to call it like we see it.”

It isn’t just Democrats criticizing President Bush’s childish behavior. Here’s Louisiana Republican Congressman Bobby Jindal:

Jindal said, the federal government should take on the housing crisis in New Orleans, because it was the failure of federally built levees that caused many houses to flood. He regretted that the White House — which has proposed bailing out homeowners who had no insurance because they live outside the flood plain — this week torpedoed the broader program of government buyouts proposed by U.S. Rep. Richard Baker, R-Baton Rouge.

“I was disappointed in the decision about the Baker bill, but where I especially disagree with the administration is in the plan to focus on those houses outside of flood zones. That might work in Mississippi, but the problem in Louisiana is that you have tens of thousands who say, ‘My house was not flooded because of rain, but because the levees did not work the way they were designed to work. My house flooded because MR-GO was a hurricane highway,'” he said.

Let’s remember that when President Bush criticizes Louisiana for not having a plan, without himself participating in the planning discussion to enable a solution, he’s in very familiar territory. Just recently, retired Lt. Col. Andrew Krepinevich, a Vietnam veteran and respected advisor to three defense secretaries concluded that President Bush has pushed the U.S. military to its limit in Iraq, and is now in an unwinnable situation, due principally to the lack of a strategic plan for success in that country:

“Without a clear strategy in Iraq it is difficult to draft clear metrics for gauging progress. This may be why some senior political and military leaders have made overly optimistic or even contradictory declarations regarding the war’s progress.”

What Hurricane Katrina did was to shine a spotlight on the complete negligence and incompetence of the Bush administration. What we witnessed — and are still suffering from — was the dismantling of the bureaucracy of governance, or career professionals who know what they’re doing. Those professionals were replaced by Bush cronies and Pioneer fundraisers, yes men who would do the bidding of the administration, whether ignoring concerns by officials in the Clinton administration about Al Qaeda striking the United States, or cherry-picking intelligence to engage our country in an unjustifiable war, or gutting the emergency preparedness infrastructure and handing it off to private corporations in no-bid contracts.

What we American citizens got in return was a bastardization of our democracy, more dead Americans, and a short-sighted decision-making apparatus that could only see its way to the next opportunity to rip off the American taxpayer.

That’s why President Bush doesn’t have a plan to rebuild New Orleans. It’s the same reason he doesn’t have a plan for success in Iraq.

Compare the similarities between Iraq and New Orleans in this Tom Dispatch post:

It’s now notorious that the State Department did copious planning for a post-invasion, occupied Iraq, all of which was ignored by the Pentagon and Bush administration neocons when the country was taken. In New Orleans, it’s already practically notorious that endless planning, disaster war-gaming, and the like were done for how to deal with a future “Atlantis scenario,” none of which was attended to as Katrina bore down on the southeastern coast.

Louisiana doesn’t have a plan? Ask any New Orleanian on the street what the plan is. We have a plan.

Does President Bush have the courage?

Pot calling the kettle black I’d say.

1/28/2006 update: The Washington Post has an article in today’s paper on Bush’s abandonment of New Orleans.

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