Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Let Them Eat Cake

Hurricane? What hurricane? Bush spent last evening at a fat-cat political fundraiser during his breezy five-week vacation while residents of the Gulf coast and New Orleans clung to rooftops, waiting for rescue.

He might have good reason to hide from this disaster. On August 1st - almost a month ago - the following appeared on the site of a New Orleans television station:

LA National Guard Wants Equipment to Come Back From Iraq

Yunji de Nies

August 1, 2005, 9:07 PM CDT

JACKSON BARRACKS -- When members of the Louisiana National Guard left for Iraq in October, they took a lot equipment with them. Dozens of high water vehicles, humvees, refuelers and generators are now abroad, and in the event of a major natural disaster that, could be a problem.

"The National Guard needs that equipment back home to support the homeland security mission," said Lt. Colonel Pete Schneider with the LA National Guard.

Why in the world would the Army need dozens of high water vehicles in Iraq? Wouldn't those have come in rather handy, as well as the generators, in New Orleans this week? In fact, wouldn't having the Louisiana National Guard in Louisiana be sort of helpful - given that a large portion of their mission is to deal with natural disasters in their home states - rather than in a hopeless quagmire in Iraq? Meanwhile, the flooding in New Orleans is reaching a crisis stage, while Guardsmen from Louisiana watch helplessly from their barracks in Iraq.

How bad is the situation in New Orleans, while Bush kicks back on vacation and Louisiana Guardsmen and their heavy equipment are in Iraq? Here are a few excerpts from the mayor's latest statement:

"We have 80 percent of our city underwater. In some parts of the city, the water is as deep as twenty feet.

"We have people still trapped on their roofs.

"We have an incredible amount of water in the city. Both airports are underwater."

"The twin spans in New Orleans East are destroyed. They're gone.

"We have three huge boats that have run aground. We have an oil tanker that is also run aground. And leaking oil.

"We have a serious levee break at 17th Canal. It's causing waters to continue to rise in certain sections of the city.

"I must tell people who are driving around that if you drive on the highrise, we're not sure about the structural soundness of the high-rise, because it appears that a barge has hit one of the main structures of the high-rise.

"All of Slidell is under water.

"We have gas leaks that have sprout out, and even when they are under water, you will see a flame shooting out of the water. It's not a pretty picture."

Having a local Guard unit mobilized near the event can be a handy thing. Last night, Jeanne Meserve from CNN was reporting live from New Orleans and broke down in tears from the horrors all around her. She reported that people were screaming from rooftops and rubble, begging for rescue, dogs howling because they were trapped in electrical wires, still alive - and no rescue available until morning. Perhaps having the Louisiana Guard staged in Baton Rouge yesterday morning might have alleviated some of last night's agony.

CNN is reporting this morning that Mississippi is scrambling to borrow Guardsmen from other states, as so many of their own Guard are deployed in Iraq. I'm sure those awaiting rescue will be glad to wait for other state's Guard units to be cobbled up and transported.

No wonder that Bush's only advice to Americans in the face of this natural disaster is to "pray". He's left the people of the Gulf coast no other option.


Blogger Mudpuppy said...

Personally, I'm really annoyed by all the requests on TV for donations to the Red Cross and the Salvation Army for relief efforts, because THIS COUNTRY HAS PLENTY OF MONEY. There's no reason anyone should be begging for spare change to buy clothes and food for the hurricane survivors when we're sending billions upon billions of dollars to Iraq.

I don't mind when tax dollars are spent to help other countries build schools, roads, etc. What I do mind is that we're spending tax dollars to rebuild schools that we destroyed, roads that we blew up, etc. Frankly, Bush and Cheney can fund the hurricane relief efforts out of their own pockets. I've apparently got no say over where my tax money is spent, but I'm not a bottomless money pit, and at some point I'm not going to have anything left to give.

(Btw... I did donate to Best Friends and Noah's Wish to help fund animal rescue efforts in the hurricane regions, so I'm not completely heartless. Yet.)

12:38 AM  

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