Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Beer holsters and Schmucks

During the past week I read story after story about how so many of New Orleans' middle and upper income residents were able to flee the city as Katrina approached, but the poor were left to fend for themselves. The difference here wasn't money. The difference here was attitude. It was the self-sufficient vs. the dependent. The evil rich and middle-income residents fled New Orleans because they are used to accepting the responsibility for their own welfare and safety. The poor stayed behind because they're mired in the sludge of generation after generation of dependency on government. The accomplished class knows that they bear the responsibility for meeting their own needs and providing for their safety. The poor by-and-large bear no such responsibility. To them, it's the government's job. Instead of taking responsibility for their own safety --- they just sat there, waiting for government to come and save them. The achievement-oriented residents of New Orleans were spared the horrors of the violence and filth that followed the flooding because they kept doing what they had been doing all along -- accepting responsibility. The poor were subjected to the violence and filth because they also kept doing what they had been doing all along -- depending on government.

Hurricane Katrina illustrated the truth behind the contention that poverty is a behavioral disorder.


Now here's something you probably didn't know about Louisiana and Hurricane Katrina. At the very time Katrina was bearing down on New Orleans, there were several top-level officials in the very department of Louisiana government that prepares for emergencies such as Katrina sitting around and waiting for their trial. Trial, you say? Trial for what? Let's try corruption and throw in a bit of fraud.

It seems that these Louisiana officials either misspent or misplaced or ... worse ... about 60 million federal taxpayer bucks. Here are some details ...

In March of this year -- that's about five months before Katrina -- FEMA was asking for the return of $30.4 million that the federal government had sent to Louisiana for emergency planning and preparedness. Most of this money was sent to some state office called the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Wait .. it gets worse. According to the Los Angeles Times, much of that money was sent to Louisiana under some federal program called the Hazard Mitigation Grant program. That is a program that is, in part, supposed to help states improve flood control facilities. Flood? Did someone say flood?

Hazard mitigation would have been a great idea in New Orleans, don't you think? Especially that "improve flood control facilities" part, but nobody seems to know where the money went! OK ... let's follow the trail of $15.4 million dollars that was spent by the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. The $15.4 million was part of a $40.5 million grant of your money that was sent to Louisiana for the Hazard Mitigation Program. You know ... flood control and all that. Oops! Hold on a second here. My bad. It seems we can't follow that $15.4 million.. You see, the Louisiana officials say that they awarded that money to subcontractors for 19 major hazard mitigation programs, but they just can't seem to find any receipts to account of 97% of the funds. Ninety-seven percent of $15.4 million, my friends. No receipts. That's $14.94 million .. gone, and nobody can trace it.

Do any of you think that something good might have been done with some of this money? Lives saved? Flooding prevented? If you're thinking that, remember ... we're talking Hurricane Katrina here, and we all know that every bad thing that happened in Hurricane Katrina was --- all together now ---- Bush's Fault!

Perhaps if these Louisiana officials ever actually go to trial now they will be able to use the "Blame Bush" defense.


Let's see ... what else have we learned in the past week about the response to Katrina.

Doctors from across the United States poured into Louisiana to offer their services in shelters and hospitals treating Katrina's victims. They could do nothing. They just sat. You see, they weren't licensed to practice medicine in Louisiana. It took the amazing Governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco, five days to sign a waiver to allow these doctors to practice medicine in Louisiana. Five days, while people were suffering and dying. Don't blame Blanco, though. It was clearly Bush's fault.

New Orleans' Mayor Ray Nagin

On the Saturday before the hurricane New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin received a call from Amtrak. There was a passenger train sitting in the New Orleans station with 900 empty seats. Did the Mayor want to put some evacuees in those seats? No thanks. The train left nearly empty. You cannot blame Mayor Nagin for this decision, that clearly would be racist. It just has to be Bush's fault.

In 1997 the U.S. Congress appropriated $500,000 of your money -- not federal money, taxpayer's money -- to the State of Louisiana. The money was set aside to create a "comprehensive analysis and plan of all evacuation alternatives for New Orleans." Now correct me if I'm wrong, but that's the big deal here, isn't it? New Orleans didn't get evacuated, right? Well, for two years nothing happened. Then the Congress demanded of Louisiana a plan for evacuation in the event of a category 3 story, a levee break, a flood or some other natural disaster. The $500,000 of your money got to Louisiana .. but then what? It was spent by the Greater New Orleans Expressway Commission, not on an evacuation plan, but things that needed to be done to the Lake Pontchartrain causeway over the next fifteen years or so. What does the incredible Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness have to say about the funds and the causeway study? The spokesman says that they can't find any information. Actually, we shouldn't be holding the Louisiana emergency preparedness folks or the state responsible for this ... not when we all know it was Bush's fault.

Speaking of flood control. You did know, didn't you, that in 1996 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was going to raise and strengthen the very levees that failed in New Orleans. They were going to, but they didn't. And why not? Because of a lawsuit, that's why. The plaintiff in the lawsuit didn't want the work done until extensive and expensive environmental impact statements were prepared by the Corps of Engineers and approved by the EPA. And who filed that lawsuit? Why .. it was the Sierra Club. The very same Sierra Club, by the way, that listened with rapt attention in San Francisco on September 9th while Al Gore told them that the leaders of this country ought to be held accountable for the flooding in New Orleans. Now, some of us might be so twisted as to think that the very Sierra Club that was so enthralled by Gore's rantings should bear some of the blame here ... but that's only because we just don't realize that it was all Bush's fault. Oh .. and by the way. Why haven't we heard more about this Sierra Club lawsuit in the mainstream media? Remember the template.

Mayor Ray Nagin is inviting residents of some areas of New Orleans to come back to their homes and businesses and begin the cleanup process. There's another possible hurricane bearing down on the Florida Keys --- a tropical storm that could become a hurricane and could head toward New Orleans. Now it's possible that if over 100,000 residents return to New Orleans and are further victimized by another hurricane and another flood .. will it be Mayor Ray Nagin's fault? Of course not, you idiots! It will be George Bush's fault! Haven't you been paying attention?

HOLD IT---STOP THE PRESSES---Mayor Nagin has changed his mind and now agrees with Bush that folks should not come back to New Orleans just yet. So they will stay in Houston which is on target for a direct hit and will suffer another major strike and it will all be------------------------------------ you got the idea!