People Get Ready

[ make levees, not war ]

Just three percent of Bush’s attention is focused on Gulf Coast recovery

Posted by schroeder915 on January 31, 2006

What’s behind that nervous little thing he does with his jaw — that back and forth lower jaw twitch?

What explains that smug look — not the look of a disciplined intellect, but the look of a guy who knows he’s getting through another day without doing his own homework by reading prose written by someone else.

Yawn … blah blah blah. It’s what — 30 minutes into the State of the Union speech, and still no talk about the Gulf Coast?

I was appalled and offended by Bush’s word-for-word recitation of a sergeant killed in Iraq. How dare he — a man who was AWOL from the Texas Air National Guard while “defending” the United States from Mexico at a time when other men his age were dying in Vietnam.

How dare he — a man who broke his obligation to defend the Constitution by cherry-picking unreliable WMD intelligence and embellishing the facts to order Americans to their deaths in Iraq. Bush is responsible for the maiming of 16,549 American soldiers, and the deaths of 2,241 of them.

How dare he:

Marine Staff Sergeant Dan Clay was killed last month fighting in Fallujah. He left behind a letter to his family, but his words could just as well be addressed to every American. Here is what Dan wrote: “I know what honor is. … It has been an honor to protect and serve all of you. I faced death with the secure knowledge that you would not have to. Never falter! Don’t hesitate to honor and support those of us who have the honor of protecting that which is worth protecting.”

Bush never faced death himself — but he couldn’t have been more impatient to sacrifice the lives of others.

About 5,369 words were spoken in Bush’s speech, of which 161 words were spent on Hurricane Katrina recovery — less than three percent of what he had to say involved the concerns of hundreds of thousands of victims who continue to suffer from the worst disaster in American history.

Who’s advising this guy?

Bush’s remarks about Hurricane Katrina recovery were a stale refrain of philosophical platitudes devoid of any specific plan or commitment of resources.

A hopeful society comes to the aid of fellow citizens in times of suffering and emergency — and stays at it until they’re back on their feet. So far the federal government has committed $85 billion to the people of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. We’re removing debris and repairing highways and rebuilding stronger levees. We’re providing business loans and housing assistance. Yet as we meet these immediate needs, we must also address deeper challenges that existed before the storm arrived.

In New Orleans and in other places, many of our fellow citizens have felt excluded from the promise of our country. The answer is not only temporary relief, but schools that teach every child, and job skills that bring upward mobility, and more opportunities to own a home and start a business. As we recover from a disaster, let us also work for the day when all Americans are protected by justice, equal in hope, and rich in opportunity.

Were I Mary Landrieu or Governor Blanco — both seated in the audience — I think I might have blown my lid right there.

The mantra of $85 billion? Most of that went to no-bid cleanup contractors who are taking the profits, while pennies on the dollar get to the sub-sub-sub-contractors hiring illegal immigrants instead of getting locals to do the work for living wages. The actual new allocation for rebuilding endeavors was $29 billion, most of which is just to keep the federal flood insurance program solvent, and only $6.2 billion of which has been proposed by the Bush administration to help 20,000 homeowners whose homes weren’t in designated flood zones, and who didn’t have flood insurance, while the actual number is more like 77,340 homes in that category. Bush has proposed nothing to help rehabilitate over 200,000 homes damaged by flood waters.

Where’s the plan George? Bush can’t get away with shooting down the Baker plan last week — Louisiana’s best plan on the table — and then criticizing Louisiana for not having a plan, without himself offering an alternative.

What about Category 5 storm protection?

What about coastal restoration?

What about a confession that the federal government should assume the responsibility of helping hundreds of thousands of people rebuild the hundreds of thousands of homes that were destroyed by levees that were improperly designed by the federal government?

What a pathetic abdication of responsibility!

What would a fly on the wall have heard if it were near Mary Landrieu when she deliberately worked her way over to Bush after his speech, shaking his hand and patting him on the back? When she finished speaking, Bush gave her the conciliatory face of death — the look that says, “that’s interesting, but pardon me while I talk to this other person.”

Finally, how did the terms “wood chips,” “stalks,” and “switch grass” get into a State of the Union address? It sounds like the product of a speechwriter’s bet made in a bar room dare.

What should Louisianians do now? In a week in which Women of the Storm is lobbying Congress and the White House to visit New Orleans, their message doesn’t seem to have reached the White House.

I was talking to a colleague — the_velvet_rut — recently who noticed snipers posted on top of the Army Corps of Engineers building at the levee rally a couple of weeks ago. To me, the image of snipers engaging a peaceful demonstration of people waving signs, socializing, and barbecuing out on the levee is symbolic of everything the Bush administration represents — imperiling the safety and civic rights of Americans while pursuing a deadly agenda that benefits a few of his cronies.

Instead of vindicating the murdered victims of 9-11 with a strategy for success by strengthening relationships with true allies, George W. Bush continues to terrorize people around the world, unnecessarily violating the privacy of Americans instead of using the entirely adequate tools presently at our disposal (recall that a number of the 9-11 attackers were discovered without the Patriot Act or violating citizens’ rights to privacy — we were failed by an ineffectual, crony-ridden Bush administration).

Instead of helping hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast residents to rebuild their homes, especially here in New Orleans, George W. Bush continues to allow hundreds of thousands of them to languish as refugees.

The same colleague and I were talking about how the city of New Orleans is possibly a tinderbox ready to explode. With Mardi Gras right around the corner, that could be the flash point to spark the explosion.

We should commandeer Mardi Gras floats and drive them to Washington in protest, blocking traffic while throwing beads and rotten photographic memories, and heaving soggy furniture and moldy sheetrock on the White House grounds and on the steps of Congress.

Without a doubt, George W. Bush retains the Katrina boneless chicken award, and remains the worst president ever!


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