Obviously, I have no problems pointing blame where blame needs to be pointed. In the case of New Orleans, Bush's utter lack of leadership in the face of disaster and his systematic dismantlement of the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] and the South-East Louisiana [SELA] urban flood control project, pointing blame is compulsory.
In 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] ranks a hurricane strike on New Orleans as “among the three likeliest, most catastrophic disasters facing this country,” right after a terrorist attack on New York City. So why did Bush take it upon himself to cut the SELA Urban Flood Control Project's federal funding by 80 percent between the years of 2001 and 2005?
As SELA, in cooperation with the Army Corps of Engineers, had all but been cut off by the federal government in 2004, the Corps Project Manager, Al Naomi, went before the East Jefferson Levee Authority and entered a desperate plea for aide in the amount of $2 million dollars to continue work on the sinking levees.
“The levees are sinking. Everything is sinking, and if we don’t get the money fast enough to raise them, then we can’t stay ahead of the settlement”, Naomi warned.
But this isn't just about a lack of funding, it's about Bush appointing a bunch of his friends to offices they aren't qualified to clean. It’s bad enough that Bush degraded FEMA from a cabinet level position, but then he handed the agency over to Homeland Security, refocused it on terrorism and appointed his campaign manager as it’s head – a man with zero experience in disaster management.
On August 1, 2005, the Louisiana National Guard asked for emergency equipment, which had been sent to Iraq, be returned for the hurricane season. Request denied.
Bush ignored requests for funding and equipment, just as he ignored hurricane Katrina for 36 integral hours, only broaching the subject for 1 minute before presenting his 45-minute V-J Day celebration speech. The days passed; Bush Golfed, ate birthday cake with John McCain, and played guitar with Mark Wills. The rest of his administration was absent as well. Condoleezza Rice played tennis with Monica Seles, attended the U.S. Open, shopped for shoes, and took in a Broadway show.
Yesterday, the Head of FEMA, Michael Brown pointed blame at the citizens of New Orleans.
"Victims were mostly people who had ignored the hurricane warning and decided to stay in the city”, Brown said.
Today, George Bush, President of the United States, points blame at the Governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D).
“Not acceptable”, Bush says in regards to local relief efforts.