Grapes of Wrath: The Fruit of Bad Leadership
George W. Bush has let the terrorist win. How? Well let's see:
Where are the thousands of high-ground clearance, four-wheel drive Army trucks that could rescue people trapped by high water throughout Lousiana and Mississippi?
Where are the ten of thousands of Humvees that could be patrolling the streets of devastated cities?
Where are the Navy's Swift Boats, that could be helping with rescue and supply operations?
Where are the MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) that could feed the now starving people of devastated towns and cities?
Where are the heavy-lift helicopters that could be rescuing people and dropping supplies to the stranded?
Where's the heavy airlift needed to quickly fly in the millions of tons of relief supplies need right now?
And finally, where are the fifty thousand National Guard troops that could have been rushed into help and secure the stricken region?
Early this week I wrote that I was far less afraid of some swarthy terrorist with a bomb in a knapsack than I was of America's dismal level of leadership. And so it has come to pass.
Now we see it the results, in stark relief. The long-suffering Iraqi people saw this incompetence months ago. Their national infrastructure remains in shambles nearly three years after "mission accomplished." Now they have tens of thousands of Americans as company -- Americans with no fresh water, no electricity, no help, just talk, and not even that is up to snuff.
"George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast. He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end." (NYT Editorial)
George Bush has tied up most of the resources needed to respond to this disaster half way around the world. Trucks, helicopters, even community first responders, who had the poor luck to be reservists, are gone. Instead of helping Americans they were sent to chase a ragtag bunch of half-educated, religiously-poisoned, Islamists around the Iraqi desert.
Bush has assured us that what they are doing in Iraq is protecting Americans. Well George, I would not suggest you use that line on any of the mothers in the hurricane zone who are just trying to find a cup of clean drinking water and bite to eat for their hungry kids.
Biloxi, Mississippi was one of the hardest hit. Giant Kesseler Air Force base is right there in Biloxi. Have you wondered why the poor folks of that destroyed city haven't seen tons of military aid flowing out Kessler's front gate and into their shattered lives? Because it's not there, that's why. It's all in Iraq, that's why.
That part of the south is the Red State capital of pro-military, flag-waving America. Those stricken areas should have been crawling with military personnel on day one. Where are they? Yesterday Bush announced he had scraped together 10,000 national guard troops to send. Here's what would have been on hand to deploy immediately had he not wasted our national time, treasure and troops on Iraq:
Major Installations in the Area Pre-Iraq
Army: Camp Shelby
Navy & Marine Corps: Gulfport Naval Center
Coast Guard: National Data Bouy Center
Air Force: Columbus AFB. Keesler AFB
Navy & Marine Corps 3,255
Air Force 8,314
Coast Guard 351
Active Duty Military 12,069
Reserve and National Guard 21,661
Total (Pre-Iraq War) Personnel: 33,730
But when the hurricane hit those bases were manned by skeleton crews. The bulk of their personnel are busy elsewhere, primarily, Iraq.
I'm certain that as George looked down from his leather seat on Air Force One yesterday on the mess below his first thought was that this was another 9/11, another opportunity to do his John Wayne imitation, sound tough and watch his poll numbers climb.
Wrong George. Wrong, wrong, oh so wrong. This is different. This time he can't silence critics with bogus patriotic slogans. Even coming out of George's mouth accusing critics of "letting the hurricane win," would sound pretty lame. No, this time he has to come up with quantifiable, measurable, solutions and results fast -- like NOW. This time counseling patience and "staying the course," are formulas for more misery, disease and death.
Let me suggest a name for the operation: Operation No Victim Left Behind. Of course, there will have to be periodic tests to measure how George is doing. He shouldn't object to that. After all, he's all for "accountability," isn't he.
So, I am officially launching, Operation No Victim Left Behind. And I am asking that the mainstream media to do their bit by giving George regular tests over the next few weeks and keeping us appraised of how the boy is doing. Is he really as stupid as he looks and sounds? Or are we wrong about that? Let us know, will ya?
Today I read that federal response to the hurricane has been hampered because money for natural disaster response has been siphoned off to the war on terrorism. I scratched my head. Wouldn't a massive terrorist attack of just the kind Bush has been warning us of, nuclear or biological, be a disaster too? If some nut had set off a nuke in New Orleans wouldn't the destruction, dislocation, misery and need be the same, or worse? Terrorist or natural, a disaster by any other name is a disaster.
"What you are seeing is revealing weakneesses in the state, local and federal levels. All three leveles have been weakened. They've been weakened by diversion (of money and resources) into terrorism."
(Eric Tolbert, former chief of FEMA's disaster response. Tolbert left the job last Feb.)
What this tells me is that all that billions of dollars spent on "Homeland Security" has either been misspent or pocketed by companies and individuals who have sold us stuff that's apparently of no use whatsoever. Where'd all that money go? What did it buy? Whatever it bought, it sure hasn't shown up in Biloxi. (Here's a hint. Guess who's stock shot up yesterday? Halliburton's. Seems there will be some more work down south for that going concern.)
So, here we are stretched to the breaking point because George, Dick and Don squandered our military strength on a wild goose ten thousand miles from where it's really needed. And, with tens of billions of dollars needed to rebuild, we also find ourselves broke because these same geniuses insisted on giving fat tax give-aways to the already rich.
All this is doubly insane when you stop and realize that every year – in fact every second – amajor US population center is at risk from exactly what has happened in Mississippi and Louisiana – a major, ball-busting, civilization stopping disaster. Los Angeles, for example, sits atop a crazy-quilt of active earthquake faults. Everyone knows sooner or later L.A. is going to get leveled. It could be tomorrow. San Francisco straddles the San Andreas fault, which leveled that city once already and is ready to do so again whenever it feels like it. Even in the best of years, Florida sits right in the path of a string of Osama bin Hurricanes.
Nevertheless George, Dick & Don, with their trademark "what me worry?" bravado, sent our troops, their gear and our tax money someplace else. Someplace far, far away, where the people don't like us, kill us when they can, and can't wait til we go back where we belong.
Nicely done George, Dick and Don. Nicely done. I am sure the people of New Orleans and Biloxi will find some measure of peace in the knowledge that you are keeping those terrorist tied up in Iraq. Otherwise they'd have to worry one of them might blow up their destroyed house, or poison their bacteria-infested drinking water, or shoot down the helicopters that would be rescuing them if it it weren't tied up Iraq -- protecting them.
(Also read, "Why the Levee Broke")