"Better stay away from those
That carry around a fire hose
Keep a clean nose
Watch the plain clothes
You don't need a weather man
To know which way the wind blows."
So there he was this morning, George W. Bush, lecturing 170 other countries at the United Nations on how to run their countries and how the world itself needed to shape up. As the camera shifted to those listening to the halting, smirking scold, something was startlingly clear, no one was listening to him. The General Assembly looked like an auditorium full of high schoolers being forced to listen to the annual personal hygiene lecture.
What an embarrassment. The man who sent Colin Powell to them three years ago with a pack of lies disguised as facts. The man who spit in the face of those who hammered out a global warming treaty, the man who has driven his own nation to the very edge of penury, the man who could not figure out how to help his own suffering citizens in the wake of a natural disaster, lecturing them on their faults, telling them they had to get squared away, telling debtor nations they had to balance their national checkbooks from now on. What chutzpah.
But something has changed. Whether it's those stoney faces during his speech at the UN or local and state officials trying to rebuild their communities in the Gulf – Bush is still talking, repeating the same old sound-bites over and over, nostrums that once struck a (false) cord, but suddenly no one is listening.
Why? What has changed?
What's changed is that George W. Bush is increasingly being viewed as a natural disaster himself -- maybe the worse natural disaster to ever hit the US. This bag of hot air has, for five years, swirled through our economy, chilled our personal lives, eroded our freedoms, and dissipated our national treasure. He has ripped up and wiped out much of what it took generations to build, save and preserve.
Hurricane George blew US jobs offshore. He ripped the roof off the US Treasury and sucked out all the surplus cash saved there by his predecessor and rained it down upon the estates of the privileged.
(Thanks only to furious sandbagging by Democrats and retiree groups, Social Security survived Hurricane George, at least for now. But forecasters warn George continues pounding the levees protecting both Social Security and Medicare.)
Hurricane George has fouled the air and waterways. Forests have been flattened and natural habitates destroyed.
The scope of Hurricane George has been international. First he blew away much of the international goodwill and credibility America had earned since World War II. Then, when foreign friends tried to sail to our aid, he blew away. If they persisted, he threatened to sink them.
Hurricane George blew through several other countries as well, toppling governments, creating refugees, disorder and lawlessness. In his wake there has been looting, followed by chaos and death. New bodies turn up everyday.
At home Hurricane George played the role of advance man for Hurricane Katrina, blowing away local and state budgets rendering their most vulnerable communities and populations a pushover for Katrina. Even then Hurricane George wasn't finished with those poor folk. He was simply waiting -- waiting until Katrina finished her work before returning to administer the coup de grace. Days after Katrina passed Hurricane George roared back over the Gulf region, spreading death and creating human suffering on a scale never seen in our nation before.
Hurricane George is still with us and still as full of hot air as ever. But the winds of change are stirring. Political pressure systems have shifted, pushing Hurricane George offshore where he churns in growing isolation. Fewer fear him. Fewer yet hear his roar. The nation and the world are beginning to collect themselves, taking stock, shaking off the shock, the malaise, the mysterious stupefaction Hurricane George seemed able to spread.
History will record Hurricane George as the worst natural disaster since Hurricane Adolph 65-years ago. Both storms developed in the hot waters of nationalism, ethnocentrism and racism. Both fueled their fury with a false sense of entitlement and superiority. And both shared the belief that God Himself hurled their thunderbolts.
Hurricane George has been the Mother of All Natural Disasters of our time. Katrina was bad, but at least people could evacuate. There has been no shelter from George.
Storm Briefs You Won't Read Anywhere Else
Just In: Hurricane George Lashes Baghdad
At the very moment Hurricane Bush huff and puffed at the United Nations today, the citizens of Iraq were experiencing the backside of his destructive winds:
BAGHDAD, Sept. 14 -- Insurgents killed more than 141 people Wednesday in at least 10 separate bombings and rocket attacks that made for one of Baghdad's deadliest days....Targets included crowds of Iraqi civilians and at least three U.S. military convoys. The deadliest attack, in a northwest Baghdad neighborhood, exploded among crowds of Shiite Muslim day laborers gathered to look for work. Iraq's Interior Ministry spokesman, Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman, said 90 people were killed. ... Attacks mounted for hours throughout the day, bringing Baghdad to a standstill. (Full Story)
Hurricane George Advisory: Women Beware
Women should prepare as Hurricane George buffets the U.S. Supreme Court. Early indicators indicate a high likelihood of significant erosion. Women's health services will likely suffer irreparable damage. Any women wishing to terminate an unwanted pregnancy may find no facilities left in the wake of this storm. While women in high-ground, wealthy neighborhoods are likely to continue to have access to such services, women in low-lying, poor neighborhoods will almost certainly be without them for many years. FEMA suggests stocking up on coat hangers now as post-storm shortages are expected.
Rats Infest D.C. Shelters
Hurricanes George and Katrina have sent key Republican leaders to secure shelters. House Majority Leader, Tom DeLay, R-Texas, may actually benefit as national attention shifts to storm damage and away from pending criminal charges against him in Texas. Presidential advisor Karl Rove is also a likely storm beneficiary as reporters have lost interest in his role in outting of CIA agent, Valerie Plame, and busied themselves with hurricane news.
Middle-Class Taxpayers Left Without Shelter
First Hurricane George cleaned out the National Treasury as tax-cutting winds stripped nearly $2 trillion from its coffers. Then George's winds of war ripped another $300 billion hole in it's roof, followed by Katrina which is estimated to cost us yet another quarter trillion dollars. Nevertheless Republicans in Congress continue to refuse to roll back any tax cuts for the rich. What they are ready to do though is postpone repeal of the Alternative Minimum Tax, (ATM) which, due to inflation, now inflicts middle-class taxpayers with ever growing tax liabilities.
Social programs will also be hit hard by Hurricane George as the GOP-controlled Congress tries to deal with the nation's mounting bills without disrupting the lives of their corporate and wealthy contributors. While corporations benefit most from taxpayer funded national infrastructure, such as levees, bridges and highways, Hurricane George has blown away large chucks of their tax liability that once supported it. Storm trackers predict those ill-winds will continue to blow for at least three more years.
Got duct tape?