The full force of the Bush catastrophe is finally beginning to be felt. Currently, New Orleans is flooded with tons of chemical contaminants and hydrocarbons “that will continue to poison the Gulf of Mexico for more than a decade.” (Democracy Now) An official from the Environmental Protection Agency told the Washington Post, "This is the worst case… There's not enough money in the Gross National Product of the United States to dispose of the amount of hazardous material in this area."
Could the tragedy have been avoided?
What might have happened if the Bush Administration hadn't ordered the “steepest reduction in hurricane-and-flood control funding for New Orleans in history?” (Will Bunch, “When the Levee Breaks”)
Despite the constant warnings from SELA (Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project) Bush elected to under-fund the Lake Pontchartrain levee project by nearly 80%. Of the $20 million the project required, the Bush administration only provided a paltry $4 million. Now New Orleans is buried under a 10ft.-deep chemical stew and corpses are reported to be bobbing atop the storm waters in the poorer neighborhoods.
Welcome to Bush's America, where the uber-rich can expect lavish tax cuts and the huddled masses get a 3-day lock-up at the Superdome; where the government redirects desperately needed resources to the oil wars in Mesopotamia and entire regions disappear beneath the flood waters at home.
The New Orleans tragedy is America's tragedy, the inevitable victory of ideology over science, the triumph of greed over reason.
The Bush tax cuts and the skyrocketing costs of the war in Iraq have brought Falluja to Louisiana, the only difference being that snipers are not perched on the buildings to shoot the wounded on their way to the hospital.
As Will Bunch said, “Washington knew exactly what needed to be done to protect the citizens of New Orleans from disasters like Katrina. Yet federal funding for Louisiana flood control projects was diverted to pay for the war in Iraq.” The Army Corps of Engineers couldn't complete their vital work because Bush turned off the spigot while the levees continued to sink.
The hurricane was not avoidable, the Bush flood certainly was.
Bush also played a major role in savaging the wetlands that protect the surrounding area from the storm surges that result from hurricanes like Katrina. As Sidney Blumenthal points out, “Every two miles of wetland between the Crescent City and the Gulf reduces a surge by half a foot.” Even though he was aware of this, in 2003 Bush allowed developers to destroy the sensitive wetland areas that buffer the coast. It was the equivalent of taking the seat belts, air bags, and bumpers off a car and then driving the opposite way on the freeway. The disaster was just the predictable outcome of dreadfully flawed policies.
Now, the administration will have to deal with the devastation in New Orleans like they deal with every tragedy of their own making: by diverting attention from themselves and by mounting a public relations offensive spearheaded by the performer-in-chief.
Expect to see Bush in a National Guard jumpsuit, preening before the adoring media while he condemns the wretched minorities who are picking through the debris of downtown New Orleans.
The looting is just another Karl Rove red-herring intended to draw attention from the criminal negligence of the Bush cabal. The 10ft. wave that marched through New Orleans, devastating everything in its path and creating a small army of American refugees, originated in Washington.
Don't forget it.
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state, and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Transformation”: How Rumsfeld Smashed the National Guard by Mike
Other Articles by Mike Whitney
“Transformation”: How Rumsfeld Smashed the National Guard