A Pale Horse
I’ve been putting off expressing my outrage over our government’s failure in responding to Hurricane Katrina because, frankly, what can you say about these things?
What can you say when your president rushes to tackle a tragedy like September 11 (well, after he’s come out of hiding) but can’t be bothered to return from his vacation until two days after what is perhaps the biggest disaster on U.S. soil in modern history? Or when he makes jokes about rebuilding Senator Trent Lott's house?
What can you say when the Vice President can’t be bothered to return from his vacation at all? Or when Congress intervenes on behalf of a comatose woman in a single day, yet it takes them five to intervene on behalf of the dying in Louisiana? Or when federal dollars that should have gone to prepare New Orleans for a disaster just such as this are instead diverted for the quagmire Iraq? Or when the White House resorts to talking points like "we're not going to engage in the blame game" to deflect the growing public anger?
What can you say when FEMA, the federal organisation designed to combat such disasters: won't accept Amtrak's help in evacuations, turns away experienced firefighters, turns back Wal-Mart supply trucks, prevents the Coast Guard from delivering fuel, won't let the Red Cross deliver food, blocks a 500-boat citizen flotilla from delivering aid, fails to utilise a Navy ship with 600-bed hospital on board, tells Chicago to only send one relief truck, turns away generators, and tells first responders not to, well, respond? And what do you say when FEMA officials cut off emergency phone lines in New Orleans?
What can you say when a subsidiary of Halliburton is given a $500 million contract to clean up the damage?
What can you say when Barbara Bush says of the hurricane's victims, “So many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them”? What can you say when Bush promises to lead an inquiry into how the Hurricane Katrina disaster was handled, when he did everything possible to stonewall an investigation into the failures of September 11? What can you say when middle class white people cry because the price of gas is going up while the body count climbs to the tens of thousands? What can you say when the head of FEMA blames the people who stayed for their situation, despite many of them being disabled, hospitalised, or having no cars with which to evacuate?
All I know is that if this is the kind of response they give to a disaster they know is coming, after four years of preparing for more terrorist attacks, we're pretty much fucked when the real thing happens again.