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Katrina - The Ultimate Blowback

Written by Subject: WAR: About that War
Charles Darwin gained fame by pointing out that Mother Nature has a way of bringing reality into sharp focus. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has provided us with a dramatic reminder of Darwin's theory; albeit on a societal scale. With damage certain to amount to tens of billions of dollars, and a death toll estimated to exceed 10,000, one might say that reality bites hard.

While no sane person will deny that nature frequently takes a heavy toll, one still has to wonder just how can it be that the World's Lone Superpower™ could sustain such a devastating blow. After all, this isn't Sumatra, Bangladesh, or some other blighted, third world dictatorship, right?

Naturally, the blame game has burst forth in a figurative torrent rivaling the real one borne by the Gulf Coast. Certain Christians have cited a vengeful God who has smitten New Orleans for its homosexual debauchery; though I don't understand why it is, for instance, that San Francisco was spared. Should I assume that we'll also find pillars of salt in place of those evacuees who made the mistake of looking back upon the city as they fled?

Meanwhile, in the opposing corner, we have a Kuwaiti official who has chalked Katrina up to a similarly vengeful Allah exacting revenge for American foreign policy. Though again, I have trouble understanding why New Orleans should be made to suffer for policy emanating from Washington, DC. Can it be that even a mighty deity has trouble correcting for 140 mile per hour windage? Or maybe the competing idols simply split the difference and New Orleans just happened to be the agreed upon midpoint. We'll see if Duh-bya gets the real scoop during his next briefing from the Almighty. Pardon me while I savor the image of a burning Bush.

My own take on events tends to derive from a more pragmatic or reality-based perspective. This is probably because, sad to say, no supernatural entity has ever seen fit to reveal to me its reasons for causing any event to occur. Furthermore, I am congenitally disinclined to take someone else's word concerning the intent of a god who is all-powerful enough to bypass any middleman. Therefore I see no reason to attribute such a catastrophe to the wrath of said god. So, until one or more deities deign to enlighten me, I am left with the unenviable, yet unavoidable, task of seeking some semblance of forensic evidence to explain how and why things have occurred.

Now it must be acknowledged that hurricanes always manage to wreak havoc; as Florida residents learned again and again last year. In the case of Katrina the devastation was multiplied by a simple, immutable natural law. With apologies to the late, great Robert A. Heinlein, this law is that of TANSTAAFW, or There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free War. In a nutshell, this law posits that you can't prosecute wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan ($200 billion and counting) without cutting a few corners elsewhere. I call it robbing Peter to pay Halliburton. Thanks to the speed and anarchic wonder that is the internet, it has become obvious and well-known that one of the places where corners have been cut is in New Orleans; specifically in maintaining, repairing and improving the system of levees that prevent the city from becoming part of the Gulf of Mexico. A fact that is undoubtedly causing a great deal of discomfort along the Potomac today.

Starting in early 2001, when Bush took over the White House, a study identified the three most likely major catastrophes faced by the U.S. One was a terrorist attack on New York (not bad for starters), another was a hurricane such as Katrina striking New Orleans (that's two out of three so far), and the third was a major earthquake striking San Francisco (you heathen gays aren't out of the woods yet since a trifecta isn't out of the question here). My point is that magnitude of the danger to New Orleans was officially recognized over four years ago. Since then we've seen cutbacks in the budget of the Army Corps of Engineers which has been tasked with identifying and rectifying weaknesses in the New Orleans levee system.

The Corps did identify the very levees where some of the worst breeches occurred, but they were denied adequate funding again and again to perform the needed repairs and improvements that would potentially have prevented much of the flooding that occurred. In addition, 3,000 Louisiana National Guardsmen, along with their heavy equipment, are currently in Iraq and unavailable to help with disaster prevention and recovery. Instead, it is accurate enough to say that the funds and troops are being used instead to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have proven themselves to be worse than useless; both for the people in those countries, as well as for those of us here in the U.S. They have, however, proven to be very profitable for the likes of Halliburton, The Carlysle Group and other cronies of the Bush administration.

This, in itself, would be damning enough; but the Keystone Kop character of the emergency response system has proven yet again that those from the government are here only to help themselves. In fact, the emergency planning for the region was farmed out to Bush's cronies as thanks for past campaign contributions. The money probably flowed into the their pockets and into the campaign coffers of Republicans; but it seems that it bought little in the way of emergency response planning.

So we can add the emergency response failure to the emergency prevention failure to arrive at the sum of all fears for New Orleans. Or is that the perfect storm? Well, whichever it is it's no wonder that looting was the inevitable response of the surviving victims of the disaster. It has become the defining character of today's Bush league culture. It is also the nature and purpose of every government. To tolerate this fatal flaw rather than acting to correct it will only lead to further unpleasant Darwinian societal consequences.

So unless you are among the unweaned ward heelers who still have a warm spot for the witless wonder and his wanton warmongering, you will know that the last of the emperor’s wispy wardrobe was washed away in the wake Katrina's woeful deluge. Yeah, that too is more W than anyone should have to endure.