Thursday, December 15, 2005

Thanks for the oil!

So what? Are we now required to genuflect before the wise and noble King George?

Bush's commitment of an additional $1.5 billion for levee reconstruction raises to $3.1 billion the total federal commitment to bring New Orleans levees into compliance with their original design for a Category 3 hurricane.

My answer to that: Too little, too late.

$1.5 billon? Why, that ought to cover the cost of the war in Iraq for just about a week and a half. $3.1 billion will pay for just about three weeks of the war in Iraq.

The Treasury collects at least $5 billion every year in revenues collected from oil leases off the shores of Louisiana. In effect, Bush is saying:

"Hey you guys in Louisiana. Listen, if you stop calling me names, I'll give you back some change on that money you send us poor folks who have to live inside the Washington beltway. Oh yeah ... heh heh heh heh ... and thanks for the oil Louisiana!"

So New Orleans gets the same crappy levees that already failed once, disastrously, with a promise to redesign and fix them in about two years. Meanwhile, what about the more critical issue that is still weighing heavily on business owners and residents? What about what they want? What about a solid commitment for Category 5 storm protection? The price tag on that is about $30 billion.

Our hurricane czar, Donald Powell (tell me again -- who is this guy?), continues to say that Category 5 protection needs to be "studied":
I don't think we can design a system that can compete with Mother Nature," Powell said at a White House briefing.

"What we're saying is that we are going to do whatever is necessary to make sure we have stronger and better levee systems than we've ever had," he said. "The federal government is committed to building the best levee system known in the world."

Wow! I feel so assured that the Bush administration is looking out for us! Yea-ah, right!

Need I mention again that the Corps of Engineers has a plan for Category 5 levees that's been collecting dust on a shelf waiting for funding for over thirty years?

This is not the bold action that New Orleans residents waited three months to hear!

What we're looking for is a big plan -- a Hoover Dam project. We need a strong president who stands before the Congress in an address to the nation to answer the fear of the entire nation that New Orleans is slowly dying, day after day. We need a leader who proposes bold new initiatives to save New Orleans, and to ensure that the city will never befall the same devastation again. We need to see the money set aside right now so we know that future presidents or congresses won't back off of the promise. We need a commitment that a Category 5 project -- or some major portion of it -- will be completed in time for Louisiana's 2012 bicentennial anniversary.

Instead, we get a feeble-minded, boneless chickenhawk decision as an afterthought.
"Oh Donald, what was that you were saying a couple of months ago about levees? ... Oh Karl? What's that you said my little turdblossom? You said we should throw those dirty New Orleanians a bone to placate them, and then redirect the attention of the nation to how cool my war in Iraq is?"

Let's not forget how pitiful this commitment is when compared to the Bush administration this week rejecting a new round of international talks on what is becoming a dire issue for south Louisiana: global warming.

Let's not forget how Louisiana's Senator Mary Landrieu has been fighting tooth and nail to compel President Bush and the Republican Congress to appreciate how desperately Louisiana needs to get its marshes and coast restored to provide that essential barrier from hurricane storm surges like those that toppled New Orleans' floodwalls. Let's not forget that when Louisiana's leaders asked the Bush administration to support the 30-year $15 billion Coast 2050 plan which was to be funded by oil lease revenues, Bush's answer was $540 million.

Let's not forget how the Bush administration has denied the concerns of the Corps of Engineers that more work needed to be done to improve New Orleans' levees:
From 2001 through 2005, the Bush administration battled with Congress to cut a total of approximately 67% from the budgetary requests from the Army Corps of Engineers for levee augmentation projects in the New Orleans area, but ultimately settled with Congress on a mere 50% cut in these budgetary requests.

Let's not forget that, in February 2004, the senior U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project manager, Al Naomi, said:
"I've got at least six levee construction contracts (in the New Orleans area where funding has been cut) that need to be done to raise the levee protection back to where it should be (because of settling). Right now I owe my contractors about $5 million."

Let's not forget that blundering stupidity combined with the self-assured cockiness of George W. Bush is a deadly mix. Let's not forget how shortsighted he has been:
In early 2004, President Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to a Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans CityBusiness. On June 8, 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; told the Times-Picayune: "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us." Later in June, 2004, Naomi requested $2 million for urgent work repairing levees from a local agency, the East Jefferson Levee Authority. Naomi needed to request the funds locally because the federal government had cut back on funding for needed projects. According to the Times-Picayune on June 18, 2004, Naomi said, "The system is in great shape, but 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...The problem that we have isn't that the levee is low, but that the federal funds have dried up so that we can't raise them." Construction work was underway on the Hammond Highway bridge near the 17th Street Canal breach.

Why do I bring up all these pre-Katrina issues? Why don't we just look ahead? Well, those issues aren't that old, and they're extremely relevant to the discussion of how to move forward with the expectation that we have to deal with a lying failure of a president.

To those of you in the rest of the country -- are you paying attention to this? What is the disaster waiting to happen in your town that you should be preparing for now? God forbid that something like this should happen again, but should it happen, with death and destruction laying at your feet, stretching for miles in every direction, how will your president respond in your hour of darkness?

And I haven't even started on the topic of housing for the 400,000-plus New Orleans residents still exiled across the country.


At 12/19/2005 07:50:00 AM, Blogger Maverick said...

Good response. And, thanks for all the reminders. I do absolutely HATE George Bush - I think he has absolutely no redeeming qualities as it relates to my life - and I LOVE that you call Karl his turd-blossom.

Donald Powell (tell me again -- who is this guy?

I read in TIME magazine (the one with the cover: New Orleans Blue, it's worse than you think) that he is put into place to report to the Pres. what the N.O. community wants - I assume talking to the mayor and the governor, thru The LRA, which allegedly does do some solicitation of opinions from the community. (How? I cannot say. All I know is that I've written the governor and I hope my ideas were incorporated in some way. That may be naive, but it's all I know how to do at this point).

I also remember how where I read that the science for Cat 5 levee protection doesn't exist yet. It was in the same TIME article and Ray Nagin was quoted as saying that.

I think there are other overlying factors at work here, which are unfortunate for N.O. and LA.

1) The U.S. and its people DON'T really care about N.O., a lot still say that ppl shouldn't inhabit such a place and that it'll get flooded again. And that was only when the news was covering the crisis a lot. Think about it. Why would they care? They come to N.O. en masse to party and get plastered, and they completely trash the city when they're here. This is the place to kick back and not care about any of the things we normally would in regular life - it's not a place to live, to them, and they would just as soon let the Gulf claim it.

2)Ppl, as a whole, are EXTREMELY short-sighted, esp. in our super-fast immediate-gratification society as it has become today. N.O. is somewhat different, and slower, which is why I love it so much, but practically the rest of the world is moving at a break-neck pace and they don't CARE about the FUTURE. Look at the mountain of consumer debt most Americans have! Savings? Piffle. Savings would have made the crisis in N.O. more tolerable for most people, but people don't save shit these days. Anyway, my point is that asking people to prepare for the future, esp. dealing with setting money aside, I can't see it happening. It's a larger-scale example of our attitudes today in this country as it pertains to personal savings. We'd rather buy flashy cars and cell phones with stupid GPS and video capability than do without one single convenience or luxury.

And, you know, I've always maintained that George Bush (tho you understand, I do hate his guts) does actually do what the people who elected him want him to do. He mirrors them.

Fuck, now I'm really pissed.

Spitting in a Wishing Well

At 12/19/2005 07:51:00 AM, Blogger Maverick said...

The "/* ???

Donald Powell quote. Who is he?


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