IMPEACH GEORGE BUSH!! Mr. Infomaniac's Repository: Hurricane Bush

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Hurricane Bush

Published on Tuesday, September 13, 2005 by
Hurricane Bush
by Sacha Boegem

A distraught black man holds his children close to him as he tearfully describes having to choose to save his kids over his wife when their home tore in half from the savage forces of Hurricane Katrina. The reporter’s voice cracks when she asks the man his wife’s name, in the hope she can be found. With all the shocking, heart-breaking images of a decimated gulf coast flashing across our television screens, it is the individual stories of suffering and misfortune that most strikingly capture and encapsulate the tragedy of it all.

But nothing prepared us for what would happen to the people of New Orleans after the furious hurricane winds subsided. Tens of thousands of mostly poor, black citizens trapped on rooftops, in attics, in hospitals, in the convention center, and in the Superdome. Trapped, day after awful day without food, water, medicine, working toilets, security, or help of any kind. Not in America we thought. Not in the land of the free, the richest nation on earth, the global superpower. Not here at home. But we were wrong.

The most catastrophic natural disaster in American history, coming just a few short years after the most catastrophic terrorist attack in American history, was a rude awakening to the harsh reality that we have more than just evil-doing terrorists to contend with. And if the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina is any guide to how prepared our government is for the mounting natural and man-made threats we face, we should be concerned.

No country’s citizens should have to wait nearly a week for food and water to reach them when tragedy strikes on their own soil. As the government fiddled, arguing over lines of authority and bureaucratic paperwork, Americans died. As the president vacationed and visited with wealthy political donors in San Diego, Americans drowned. As Michael Brown - the obviously unqualified leader of the Federal Emergency Management Agency - professed ignorance about the mass of people struggling for survival at the New Orleans Convention Center, people perished.

Ultimately, no matter how hard Karl Rove, Tom Delay, Dennis Hastert, and the president himself may twist and spin, Americans understand that when disaster strikes at home, the buck stops at the president’s desk. President Bush, tragically and deplorably, failed the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Anything he does now merely reminds us of all that could have been done earlier, when time was of the essence, when so many American lives could have been saved.

It didn’t need to be this way. If only FEMA had continued to be treated as a first-class emergency management agency, and not downgraded, defunded, and devalued after 9/11. If only President Bush had selected a professional emergency manager to lead the agency, and not an old friend’s college buddy. If only common sense prevailed and our leaders recognized that natural disasters can inflict as much or even more pain, suffering and economic destruction as a cataclysmic terrorist attack.

But the shock of 9/11 caused our leaders to lose sight of the overall picture in their zeal to pursue terrorists and occupy Iraq. The president’s reactionary and narrow-minded domestic and international policies since then have exposed America to countless more threats and dangers – from natural disasters, to environmental pollution, global warming, dependence on foreign oil, fiscal instability, war, growing poverty, diminished access to health care, and social upheaval. Perhaps most disturbing, the drip drip drip of American casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan continues, all while the government doggedly hides images of the heroes’ coffins returning to U.S. soil (and now the bodies of Katrina’s victims as well). Americans have sacrificed much blood and treasure to the war on terror, and yet something has gone terribly wrong in America - let’s call it Hurricane Bush.

Our unity and trust in those who led us in the days after 9/11 caused a presidential hurricane: a whirlwind of legislation, executive orders, covert operations, and even an unprovoked invasion of a nation that we all know had nothing to do with 9/11 nor had weapons of mass destruction. Although the president’s initial obsession with the threat of terrorism was justified after 9/11, the president’s policies have diminished America’s ability to address a wide range of threats, many of which are far more immediate and insidious than a terrorist attack. The victims of Hurricane Katrina don’t have the luxury of worrying about terrorists. They couldn’t even count on their government to come to their rescue in a time of crisis.

Some voices warned of sacrificing our rights and freedoms in the name of security. Some deplored the lack of attention to domestic security needs. Some saw countless social problems being ignored, from health care costs, to poverty, to infrastructure needs. But those voices have been ignored so far. Some of them have even been accused of being unpatriotic, or of giving comfort to America’s enemies. Nothing could be further from the truth. Maybe if these voices had been listened to, America would not have squandered billions of dollars on unaffordable tax cuts for the wealthiest among us and hundreds of billions more on an elective war.

Instead, it took a national disaster to stop our leaders (at least temporarily) from giving yet another huge tax cut - the fourth in as many years - to America’s economic elite – this time in the guise of eliminating the spin-doctor named “death tax.” Terminating the estate tax would benefit less than one percent of Americans (only the very wealthiest), and yet would further explode the budget deficit and cause extremely painful cuts in domestic programs. Meanwhile, poverty has risen every year for the last four years, with as many as 20% of America’s children living in abject poverty. Consumer protections and civil rights are being curtailed, the safety net continues to be undermined, and opportunity in the land of opportunity is in danger of shrinking.

Americans should not have to watch their fellow citizens drown in their own sewage because of our national leaders’ incompetence, insensitivity, or both.

Hurricane Katrina has destroyed a region. Hurricane Bush threatens to destroy a nation.

Sacha Boegem is a recent graduate of Tulane Law School in New Orleans, Louisiana. His article, “9/11, Bush’s Only Hope,” was published by in March of 2004. Before attending law school he spent several years in Washington, D.C. as a White House intern and as an associate editor of a premier internet publication covering American politics. Comments or questions can be emailed to him at


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