Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Katrina damage - Was it all the local officials fault? Um, no. Plus Kaus

Mickey Kaus, who seldom meets a Bush talking point he doesn't like, blogs about the incompetence of local and state officials in addressing Katrina. This, of course, parrots the talking points promulgated by Rove et. al. in an attempt to shift the blame away from Bush and his horse lawyer at FEMA.

Aside from the failures of the federal government in addressing what is obviously a national emergency, let me just point out that most Americans sorting out what went wrong in New Orleans are not constiutents of New Orleans Mayor Nagins or of Louisiana Governor Blanco. So it is not liberal bias that makes people focus on the failures of the federal government. Rather, we're focusing on the elected officials who actually lead us, rather than the local and state officals whom we can't vote out of office even if we wanted to. It seems to me that neither the mayor, the governor, the uber-Republican president, or the uber-Republican congress should remain in power. But most Americans can only vote against the Republicans in their home state and oppose the incompetent president of the nation. If I could also vote out or meaningfully oppose Nagin and Blanco, I probably would. But I can't.

It is insane to pretend that the Katrina destruction was somehow not a primary concern of the federal government. It is insane to pretend that the federal government's response was adequate or even minimally acceptable. Some disasters are necessarily going to overwhelm state and local resources (which President "Unfunded Mandate" Bush has not exactly helped to conserve) and the American people rightly assume that the federal government will competently step in to save lives. As it has done countless times before.

Anyway there's tons of blame to rightly assign to Bush, FEMA, the entire Republican federal government. Let me try to reiterate this in the Republican style with which Mickey Kaus is hopelessly enamored:

1. Bush cut millions in funding from the levee projects, and his actions will end up costing taxpayers billions in reconstruction, not to mention the cost of thousands of lives. (Sensible liberal caveat: Or at least they contributed to this cost).

2. Bush appointed a failed horse lawyer to head FEMA and built a useless bureaucracy which handicapped FEMA and again contributed to the New Orleans disaster.

3. Not to mention that 4 years after 9/11 we appear to be less prepared for major disasters than we were in the mid-1990's.

4. Bush's photo ops in New Orleans prevented helicopters from delivering food to starving US citizens.

Etc. Etc.

Mickey Kaus is like a more sensible and sober Christopher Hitchens: an recovering liberal who is more Republican than most Republicans. Kaus, who claims to have voted for Kerry (and I believe him), votes left but blogs way right. Kaus once linked (without praise, thank God) to a Bush Republicanite blog post that argued that not catching Osama Bin Laden was better than catching him, because he was harmless and he can't be a martyr if we never kill him. Well, good thing the living Osama hasn't inspired other terrorists or anything. As an American whose country was attacked on 9/11, this obscene pro-Bush talking point made me want to punch both the original poster and Kaus in the face.

That said, Kaus is 10 times saner and more readable than Hitchens, and he voted for Kerry. Furthermore, he's got a very unique take on a great many news stories, and his comically cynical, old-fashioned journalist style of writing delights me. I read him all the time, I think he's a great blogger. Frequently he's an idiot (see his update on how eliminating states altogether is the key to preventing another Katrina) and almost always he's a reliable Bush apologist and Dem hater maybe one notch below a Bush zombie like Sean Hannity. But, dammit, he's a great read.

Finally, I believe in The Mickey Kaus Barometer: when Kaus finally turns on Bush, the entire country will finally turn on Bush. Since Kaus is willing to forgive Bush on the Katrina mess, I believe this indicates that Bush's faithful 40% will not abandon him no matter how bad his leadership is revealed to be.

I can hardly wait for the fateful day when Kaus and 90% of registered Republicans finally wake up and realize what a horror show our president is. I just hope it will not take something unimaginably horrible to snap them out of their trance, something like a second Great Depression caused by a massive dumping of US bonds by the Chinese during an oil crisis, or President Bush getting oral sex from a White House intern.

Let us all pray to God that it doesn't come to that.

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