Saturday, September 03, 2005

No place like home

Like Dorothy, whose journey began through a tryst with Mother Nature, I've concluded after Hurricane Katrina there really is no place like home.

Not only did the devastation take away the literal homes of perhaps a million citizens, it took away for many unspoken beliefs about our larger home, America.

That's the place where we were told by teachers growing up that as long as we paid our taxes, were good citizens and did as we were supposed to, the Federal Government would do likewise.

We tell the truth; they tell the truth.

We cheerfully accept our responsibilities, they accept theirs.

But we're not in Kansas anymore. Not after the longest week in history.

We're in Oz, where the little man - or in this case, men - behind the curtain cannot help us in the event of a terror attack or natural disaster.

Where we watch babies and old people literally dying in droves on the street, but people who support anything done by that little, little man are now finding it easy to blame people who had next to nothing a week ago, but haven't had anything for a week - including food.

Where public relations supercede the rescue, evacuation and feeding of perhaps tens of thousands of American citizens and it's more important for our elected representatives to have photo ops than food drives.

Where Michael Brown, a man with no experience in disaster management, heads up FEMA and hails their efforts as being excellent -- and a third day goes by of people relieving themselves in clothing covered in toxins, with nothing to eat, unsure if the babies in their arms will live or die.

Where, too late for many and perhaps more still, someone finally steps-up and immediately springs into action. On Saturday. Six days later than they should have.

And where, finally, nobody can explain whose fault it is. Or take accountability. Or even, for God's sake, forget all that and DO SOMETHING. Turns out it's right on the Homeland Security website that they own primary responsibility.
But nobody's talking. About their only real skills? CYA.

At you can see a copy of Homeland Security's website, that states:

"In the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency, the Deparment of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility on March 1st for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation."

Luckily it's been cached - since 2003:

I'm tired. Really, really tired. Demoralized by what I've seen this week, certain that yet another corner we've turned down is as dark as any in history and my tiny little flashlight won't help.

There's no place like home. Not anymore.
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Well, we think of you, we're with you in spirit and we propose aid. That's all we can do. You might like this letter from an ordinary citizen - I think it's really, really great :

Dear Mr. Bush,

Let me begin this letter by saying that I don’t like you. I have never liked you. I voted against you in three elections now and I have always encouraged all of my friends and family to vote against you. I speak from experience after living under your govenorship in Texas for six long and difficult years.

That being said, when the planes hit the towers on September 11th I made a conscious decision to stand behind you and support you in whatever actions that you and your advisors saw as a necessity for the protection of our country and our citizenry. What followed was five years of civil rights eroding initiatives and a war in a small third world oil nation that was based on lies and misinformation.

Like many people I was afraid after the attacks on the Trade Center. Like many people I looked to my government for protection. For the sacrifices that were asked of the people of this country we all expected protection from our government in times of danger.

We wanted nothing but for our government to safeguard us and you were the one many people looked to as a man who would see that our nation was a safe harbor.

You have often spoken of contingency plans for city destroying disasters of immense human tragedy since that horrible day in the fall of 2001. You liberally issued terrorist alerts and warnings during this past election year. You even advised people to seal up their windows with duct tape and garbage bags because you wanted them to be prepared for a chemical attack you were aware of that might occur at some point in some major American city.

Now an American city has been hit with a disaster of immense human tragedy. Despite your claim of protection and your ineffective Homeland Security Department we now know that our nation is not secure and all of our sacrifices have been for nothing. People are dying all along the Gulf Coast Mr. President and the fingers of their ghost’s point to you as the one who is responsible.

An entire section of the country has been devastated and you and your government does nothing.

I have been listening to the horrors that befell the South as a result of Hurricane Katrina for four days now Mr. Bush. I have heard many stories of ill-fated rescues and rescuers that were assaulted and overwhelmed by people desperately in need of medical attention and care. I have read articles of lawlessness in the streets and murder among the population of this area as they fight and scavenge for supplies they need to survive. I have seen images of people… people who are poor… people who are minorities… lying dead and forgotten.

Still you sit and do nothing and I can’t help but think that this is because of who these people are. Even though you claim to be a Compassionate Conservative you’ve rarely shown much interest in caring for the people of these demographics who live under your stewardship. Now they and many others are openly dying and nothing is being done about it.

You’ve preached the mantra of national preparedness for five years now. You’ve stressed the point that cuts in social programs, including an infrastructure initiative that would have shored up the levees in New Orleans were made in the name of Homeland Security. You told us that these sacrifices were made so that we could prepare ourselves for what you termed the inevitable disaster that we all feared would come.

Why were you not more prepared for this disaster Mr. President? It’s not as if you didn’t have warnings from every weatherman in the entire country. It’s not as if there weren’t over four different studies written during your Presidency that spoke of this exact scenario. Why weren’t troops and supplies at the ready to deal with the deaths and mayhem that have followed this storm? Why has it been allowed to get to this point?

Why does this have to be such an immense human tragedy?

Bodies are lying openly in the streets of cities all over the South Coast Mr. President. Have you seen the images? Do you even know about the horrendous conditions that your fellow countrymen have to suffer through because of your lack of preparedness?

Your FEMA manager didn’t until hearing about it from people on the scene just this afternoon. They admitted it today on CNN. They acknowledged that the system had collapsed.

Your Homeland Security director didn’t know that people were dying in plain sight from lack of supplies or protection either. He acknowledged his mistake on NPR this morning after being confronted with the facts by people talking via satellite phone from the City of New Orleans.

I have a feeling that you Mr. President don’t know about the children or the elderly passing away everyday in the South and I have a feeling that you do not care.

I think it was real nice of you to come back to Washington so that your could play a hand in manipulating the price of oil just as you have done for your entire six years in the Whitehouse. I think it’s admirable that you are currently putting together a task force to find the best way to deal with this whole mess down there on the Gulf Coast. What makes me mad is the fact that you lied to us again Mr. Bush.

You used fear and the promise of national security to dupe us into making sacrifices. Sacrifices where kids have lost their lives. Sacrifices that now are so sickenly apparent have done nothing for this country but benefit your largest campaign contributors and fill the pockets of your friends with money.

Now that we lie in devastation once again Mr. Bush I ask you where was the protection.

Where is the aid?

Where is the security?

Where is the Conservative Compassion?

This Nation has no confidence in you anymore Mr. President. Many of us like myself thought that we knew the full extent of your ineptitude and your indifference to the plight of the poor. In light of what’s going on I have to admit that you’ve exceeded the assumptions even I was holding about your negative characteristics.

Send all the help you can to the South now Mr. Bush. Put the oil reserves, the task force, and your vacation memories on the back burner for now and immediately get as many troops and paramedics into these cities as we have. You will never regain the confidence of those affected by your lack of preparation in the worst way by this disaster… but you may be able to show a little compassion for the situation.


September 1, 2005

Lots of love.
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