Saturday, September 03, 2005

Depraved Indifference

CNN reports on "the big disconnect" between conditions in New Orleans and the official party line. They present a damning series of quotes from FEMA Chief Michael Brown, who said Thursday that he didn't know anything about uncollected corpses, people trapped in the Convention Center, or problems with hospital evacuations. You know, the same things everyone else has been reading about in the paper and seeing on 24-hour cable news for days. I guess he was too busy making big decisions to turn on the TV.

He's not the only one who's had better things to do than hurricane relief:
Yet where is the National Guard, why hasn't every able-bodied member of the armed forces in South Mississippi been pressed into service?

On Wednesday reporters listening to horrific stories of death and survival at the Biloxi Junior High School shelter looked north across Irish Hill Road and saw Air Force personnel playing basketball and performing calisthenics.

Playing basketball and performing calisthenics!

When asked why these young men were not being used to help in the recovery effort, our reporters were told that it would be pointless to send military personnel down to the beach to pick up debris.

Litter is the least of our problems. We need the president to back up his declaration of a disaster with a declaration of every man and woman under his command will do whatever is necessary to deal with that disaster.
Although at least one person was able to borrow a sense of shame from the public to make up for her own congenital deficit:
All day Thursday, from the New York Post to several popular blogs, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice came under attack and ridicule for having fun in Manhattan while New Orleans sank and exploded in violence. By nightfall, she had cut short her vacation and returned to her post in Washington. [...]

Wonkette and Gawker got in on the action, with the latter revealing that she had just been spotted shopping for expensive shoes at a chic New York City boutique -- where she had to endure another female customer shouting at her about enjoying herself in such a way while thousands were perishing down South. All of this sparked criticism at many other sites.

By Thursday night she was back in Washington, convening a perhaps-overdue staff meeting to discuss ways of coordinating offers of foreign assistance from dozens of countries and organizations.
Perhaps the best display of depraved indifference comes, unsurprisingly, from Bush himself, who went on Good Morning America to say that "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." Fortunately - and at last! - the mainstream media's not letting him get away with that one. There's been widespread reporting of the extensive history of scientific and media reports anticipating that very disaster. Bush has finally lost USA Today and Tim Russert - evidence that there are substantial cracks forming in his "America's hero" facade.

Finally, as several people have pointed out, small-government conservatives have now seen their vision of how America should operate fulfilled.
One of the most core principles of Republican philosophy is to get rid of big government, and worse, to disparage all sorts of government. But emergency planning is a government job and function. FEMA is a government organization. Stockpiling of emergency resources is the responsibility of government.

The way Republicans not very subtly attempt to dismantle government and the agencies of government is to cut taxes and starve it. Republican philosopher Grover Norquist said he wanted to starve government so it was small enough to drown in a bathtub. Drown was a sadly ironic word.
(Incidentally, I hope everyone out there is following Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden and Jim MacDonald's hurricane coverage in Making Light. They've got the best information warehouse, link collection, and discussion I've seen anywhere on the web.)