The irony is enough to make you vomit.
Today, September 1, the Department of Homeland Security launched National Preparedness Month.
Preparedness for what? The display of unpreparedness going on in Louisiana is greatest human tragedy on American soil in my lifetime so far. How dare these people talk to us about preparedness. People are dying amidst disease, squalor and misery because of their unpreparedness.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm sorry. I'm really angry.
What we keep hearing, from the administration but also from people who should know better, is that this is not the time to "play politics" with the disaster.
Well, first of all, who's playing? I could not possibly be more serious.
And second, why do so many people have this idea that politics are a game? Some sort of popularity contest, unrelated to people's actual lives? I have news for you. Politics are the means by which we select the leaders who will, in turn, make policy. Policy affects your life. At times like these, policy can be the difference between life and death.
Poll after poll shows that people agree with the Democrats on almost every major issue. We would be a liberal country if we voted for the leaders who would actually enact policies we agree with. But we don't vote that way for some reason. You saw it in the last election. It was all "I'm going to vote for Bush because you know where you stand with him." And "I'm voting for Bush because he makes me feel safe."
It is not the quality of a leader's Clint Eastwood impression that keeps you safe, people. It is the quality of his (or her) policies. And this administration's policies are terrible. Al Gore's would not have been. John Kerry's would not have been. You would have agreed more with their policies and priorities. They would not have been asleep at the switch. America, your nearsightedness in returning this man to power made this crisis worse. It made people die.
George W. Bush said on "Good Morning America" that no one anticipated that the levees might break. That is flat out false. In fact, many people anticipated it. FEMA, in 2001, identified a category 5 hurricane destroying the levees and flooding New Orleans as one of the three major disasters most likely to befall the United States. One of the others was a terrorist attack on New York.
Well, guess what? We've had both. Guess what Bush did to prepare? Nothing. Then the administration looked us straight in the eye, both times, and said no one could have anticipated that this would happen. Well, bullshit, George. It's bullshit and I don't think you care.
This one is even worse, because in 2003 and 2004, the Bush administration specifically cut the funds for strengthening those specific levees, because it needed the money for Iraq. It's ironic that we were told, ad nauseam, that we had to invade Iraq because it posed a real threat to our safety and we had to be proactive. So, in the name of that, the administration took away the funds that might have prevented a far more likely tragedy from claiming so many lives, as it is now in the process of doing.
And who normally deals with these tragedies? Well, the National Guard. That's why we have a National Guard. It isn't designed to fight wars. It's designed to deal with domestic disaster scenarios. But nearly half the Louisiana National Guard is in Iraq.
George's vanity war and his neo-imperialist fantasy of remaking the middle east and his obsessive desire to slash his friends' taxes all came before these people's lives. And now they're dying. Old people. Children. Sick people. Mostly poor people, who couldn't escape, and, when the hurricane was bearing down on them, got no governmental help in doing so. And now they're dying, George. Dying.
Playing politics? George, you've spent your whole presidency invoking 9/11. You've spent your whole presidency trying to claim anyone who doesn't support your policies doesn't care if 9/11 happens again. This despite the fact that the other side tried to stand with you right after that tragedy happened. They ignored your policy failures; the fact that Clinton's National Security Adviser, Sandy Berger, gave you specific warnings about bin Laden and plans for dealing with them; FEMA's warnings that such an attack would be a huge disaster; and the fact that Hart-Rudman warned explicitly in Spring 2001 that one was coming. And you did nothing, but the Democrats let it slide because no one thought it was the time to dwell on past failures.
Well, now we're in it again, and in a lot of ways this one is even worse, and you not only did nothing to prepare, you impeded others' ability to do so. And again we're being told this isn't the time. Well, when is the time? How many times do you have to get people killed before we're allowed to talk about it? How many dead babies do we have to see on TV before criticizing the people who let it happen stops being "shrill"? I've had enough.
America, to you I say, this is proof that your policymakers should be people who are competent and whose policies you actually support. If you install a government because, gosh, they look likable and macho on television, you're going to get lousy policy, and people will suffer and die. It is not a game, it is not an abstraction, and you need to stop treating it so casually.
George, to you I say, we are not playing politics. You're the one who's playing. Playing golf, playing guitar in photo ops, acting like nothing was wrong the day after Katrina hit, the day the levees broke and New Orleans started to disappear. Giving speeches comparing yourself to FDR while lives were being washed into the Gulf of Mexico. You're the unserious party here. You don't get to base your whole career on playing politics, then urge others not to do so the moment politics becomes inconvenient.
People are dead because of your policies. If you really do talk to God, I hope he gives you an earful for this one.
Monday, September 05, 2005
I Drew This: the Incompetence of King George
Normally, I would just post a link to I Drew This and have you read it yourself, but I think that D.C. Simpson is right on, and it's important that you read the whole thing. So, and please forgive me, D.C., here is the full text from I Think This from September 1, 2005:
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Here are a couple of poems about Pentapedes, based on the form of Cethegrande, a 13th century English poem. The first few lines follow: Ce...