Thursday, September 08, 2005

Kevin Drum has the best political blog on the internet (I only strive to be half as good). I was away over the long weekend and have just caught up with his take on the Katrina disaster. As usual, he's crisply on-point.

The following are either items from his blog or items paraphrased from his blog:
  • Kevin lists several reasons why he doesn't blame GW for the woeful response to Katrina but then writes, "Obviously Bush deserves criticism for his listless lack of leadership and life-as-usual politicking in the first three days after Katrina hit. Beyond that, though, what happened was the result of a long series of decisions, all flowing out of Bush's natural conservative governing instincts, that added up to make Katrina more damaging than it had to be and at the same time eroded our ability to react to its aftermath. These decisions were deliberate and disastrous, and that's why I think Bush deserves a large part of the blame for what happened."

  • Kevin lists a chain of events leading up to Katrina, which include: 1) 2001, "Bush appoints Joe Allbaugh, a crony from Texas, as head of FEMA. Allbaugh has no previous experience in disaster management," 2) 2001, "Budget Director Mitch Daniels announces the Bush administration's goal of privatizing much of FEMA's work. In May, Allbaugh confirms that FEMA will be downsized," 3) 2001, "FEMA designates a major hurricane hitting New Orleans as one of the three 'likeliest, most catastrophic disasters facing this country,'" [compare to GW's now-infamous "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."] 4) 2002, "Allbaugh announces he is leaving... He is succeeded by his deputy and former college roommate, Michael Brown, who has no previous experience in disaster management and was fired from his previous job for mismanagement," 5) 2004, "FEMA denies Louisiana's pre-disaster mitigation funding requests," 6) 2004, "The Army Corps of Engineers budget for levee construction in New Orleans is slashed" to help pay for war in Iraq, 7) 2005, "Funding for the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is cut by a record $71.2 million," and 8) "While New Orleans is undergoing a slow motion catastrophe, Bush mugs for the cameras, cuts a cake for John McCain, plays the guitar for Mark Wills, delivers an address about V-J day, and continues with his vacation. When he finally gets around to acknowledging the scope of the unfolding disaster, he delivers only a photo op on Air Force One and a flat, defensive, laundry list speech in the Rose Garden."

    And Kevin summarizes, "Actions have consequences. No one could predict that a hurricane the size of Katrina would hit this year, but the slow federal response when it did happen was no accident. It was the result of four years of deliberate Republican policy and budget choices that favor ideology and partisan loyalty at the expense of operational competence. It's the Bush administration in a nutshell."

  • Kevin asks a key question, "The requirements to respond to a major terrorist attack on a U.S. city are largely identical to the requirements for responding to a hurricane like Katrina: food, medicine, maintenance of order, evacuation, and temporary shelter. So what are FEMA's plans for responding to, say, a large scale chemical weapon attack on Chicago? They'd have less warning than they did with Katrina and the requirements for aid would be largely similar. What would they do?"

  • Another great quote, "The hallmarks of the Bush/Rove governing philosophy — partisan discipline, industry giveaways, and relentless lying — work pretty well as long as you can disguise the results of your policies. When you can't, it suddenly becomes obvious even to your supporters that the emperor has no clothes. It's taken two years for a lot of people to realize that about Iraq. It's taken less than a week to realize it about New Orleans."
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