Wednesday, September 07, 2005

New Orleans and Bush's Administration Shredded !!!

-->Hurricane Katrina has shredded what was left of the Bush Administration's credibility. Now we watch the slow train wreck of America. By Scott O'ReillyOnce upon a time, when George W. Bush was young and irresponsible, our future Commander-in-Chief left the residence he was renting in a shambles. Well, the former frat-rat still has three years left on his lease to the Oval Office, but there is little doubt about the mess the Menace from Midland is making of America.In his presidential debate with Al Gore, Bush asserted that natural disasters are events that “test the mettle” of leaders. Bush has now overseen three national catastrophes -- 9/11, the invasion of Iraq, and Hurricane Katrina -- and it is now abundantly clear that Bush is all mush and no mettle.Bush -- who spent a good portion of his first forty years drinking, drilling dry wells as a failed oilman, and escaping his National Guard duties -- has no business being president. Is there any doubt that Bush overreacted on Iraq and under reacted on Katrina? Does anyone who has seen the devastation in New Orleans -- let alone Iraq -- still believe America is safer for having our National Guard troops patrolling Saddam’s slums rather than on call to protect America’s shattered cities? Once again Bush’s claims in response to a national tragedy ring hollow. As Bush explained to Diane Sawyer, “I don’t think anyone anticipated the breech of the levees.” Nobody, that is, except the scientists and engineers who’d been warning about just this kind of catastrophe for decades. Even so the Bush administration allocated a mere $40 million for hurricane and flood programs centered around New Orleans, cutting $65 million from the paltry $105 million requested by the Army Corp of Engineers last year.“I don’t think anyone could have foreseen terrorists flying into buildings.” “Iraq will be a cakewalk.” “I don’t think anyone anticipated the breech of the levees.” It’s the same pattern of obliviousness and evasion repeated ad infinitum by Bush and his sycophants. But this time the public may be fed up with the administration’s lack of foresight as it appears money earmarked to improve New Orleans’ levees was “moved in the president’s budget," according to The New Orleans Times-Picayune, “to pay for homeland security and the war in Iraq.”Money is not the only thing that was misappropriated. One third of the National Guard troops (and one half of its heavy equipment) that would normally respond to a crisis like Katrina, had been moved to Iraq to quell the looting and lawlessness that has followed in the wake of the administration’s disastrous invasion. The two disasters are compounding one another as National Guard units, already stretched to the breaking point in Iraq, are stretched even further as they face their traditional domestic responsibilities (of defending and securing the American homeland). This is just the kind of imperial overstretch that Dr. Henry Kissinger warned against when he wrote, “[America’s] insistence on predominance would unite the world against the United States and force it into impositions that would leave it isolated and drained.” He concluded, “The road to empire leads to domestic decay because, in time, the claims of [executive] omnipotence erode domestic restraints.” Is there any better description of the abuses and follies of the Bush Administration than this?The carousel of discredited rationales for invading Iraq -- of which the latest include: “we will dishonor those who have died if we don’t complete the mission” and “we are fighting the terrorists abroad so we don’t have to fight theme here at home” -- is coming apart. After all, what is left of the original mission, except to prevent Iraq from descending into a full-scale civil war? And what sense does it make to have our troops dying in a quixotic cause abroad when they were needed here at home to save lives? Hurricane Katrina has shredded what is left of the administration’s tattered credibility. And if you have any doubt, just ponder Bush’s endorsement of FEMA director Mike Brown -- “Brownie, I think you’re doing a heck of a job” -- in the days after Katrina hit. It’s an ominous sign when Bush’s rosy rhetoric seems to stand the test of time about as well as Iraqi Information Minister “Baghdad Bob’s” pronouncements.As a result, Bush’s approval ratings are sinking faster than a Russian submarine. And for good reason: our Captain Queeg’s policies seem about as well designed as one of the Kremlin’s "Widowmakers." Captain Queeg, by the way, was the incompetent commander in Herman Wouk's novel,The Caine Mutiny, who dispatched his men on a futile quest to find two quarts of strawberries he knew didn’t exist. Queeg’s feeble rationalizations, and his failure to take responsibility for obvious mistakes, finally led his subordinates to conclude that their commander had lost his marbles. I’m not expecting a Mutiny on the U.S.S. Bush anytime soon, but it’s not hard to discern that a lot of Republicans are looking for their life preservers these days. And if rodents (and other vermin) are always the first to abandon a sinking ship, consider what Newt Gingrich had to say on Bush’s response to the aftermath of Katrina: "[It] puts into question all of the Homeland Security and Northern Command planning for the last four years.”In one fell swoop, Hurricane Katrina exposed the contradictions that lie at the heart of the Bush Administration: the illusion that society can afford disproportionate tax cuts for the wealthy while skimping on basic infrastructure and public safeguards; the conflation that fighting abroad in Iraq is tantamount to defending the homeland; and the delusion that Bush is a uniter not a divider.Katrina has revealed that the Emperor has no clothes and that the social fabric in America is badly frayed. The Bush Doctrine has collapsed, an acknowledgement that the anti-terrorism policy the administration has pursued for the last four years has been a catastrophic failure. Equally alarming -- in the wake of Katrina -- the administration’s negligence regarding global warming epitomizes their obtuseness; most climatologists have been warning for years that global warming will increase the frequency and intensity of tropical storms. The administration’s response to scientific evidence that challenges their ideological beliefs, of course, was to have the E.P.A delete any reference to global warming altogether.Fate often elevates fools and rogues, if only to see how far they will fall (remember what happened to Bush’s #1 contributor Ken Lay at Enron). When the political gods -- or the Supreme Court, if you prefer -- decided to trump the will of the American people (including the majority of Floridians who had cast their votes for Al Gore), I assumed it was because the gods prefer tragedy and farce. With Bush they get both: think Mission Accomplished, with Inspector Clousseau wearing a flight suit and celebrating his triumph over evil-doers, and you’ll find it’s hard not to laugh and cry at the same time.For the rest of us, watching what the Bush Administration is doing to America is the equivalent of witnessing a train wreck in slow motion. The time bomb that is the deficit is still ticking. Soaring gas prices will bleed American consumers while feeding Islamic extremists bent on America’s destruction. And the world is shocked and dismayed by how far America has fallen in five years. It may be along time before America is America again.Scott D. O’Reilly is an independent writer with degrees in Philosophy and Psychology who has been published in The Humanist, Philosophy Now, Think, and The Philosopher’s Magazine. You can e-mail Scott at neuroscott@aol.com.

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