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September 01, 2005
Waiting for a Leader

An interesting 'take' on the Hurricane Katrina story.

There's no one 'best' story, so just read CounterPunch on why people 'chose' not to evacuate before the hurricane struck. Maybe, in a case of a small silver lining to a large, grim cloud, this will finally bring some attention to the desperate, heart-wrenching, endless cycle of poverty in that part of our country.

(And maybe someone will start listening to the ecologists who have been trying to warn us that destruction of the fragile, bayou wetlands could have devastating consequences.)

You should also consider this story about the inadequacy of the relief effort so far. The people have my sympathy, but I have a vague idea of what it takes to mount a relief effort of this magnitude and any Hollywood-inspired fantasy that it can be produced in 48 hours is just wrong.

Yes, it's obvious that the presence of Louisiana's and Mississippi's deployed National Guard units would have been invaluable, but even aside from that, it takes time and money to buy, transport, and distribute supplies. You can't buy four thousand vials of insulin, on the off-chance, it doesn't keep. You can't lay in a store of ten tons of ice just in case a huge hurricane actually makes landfall, and even if you could, you can't store it on-site because you might lose it, so you have to transport it later.

Through industry-related gossip, I know of one hospital that lost not only power, but their back-up generators. A percentage of the available National Guard's time and efforts were distracted to transport emergency generators to them. In the meantime, hospital personnel were standing over their critical patients, ventilating them by hand, hour after hour, after hour, in a desperate attempt to keep them alive.

I know it's of no help to the people suffering today, but I'm much more concerned that our national ADD will result in us not following though with the years of work and financing it's going to take to rebuild that area than I am about our immediate response. We're always generous in a crisis. It's the sustained, long-term effort that we're not good at.

Anyhow. It should surprise no one, that I was surprised by, but applauding, this NYTimes editorial.

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.

We are, indeed, waiting for a leader, and anyone who still expects failed business owner and self-proclaimed "CEO" George Bush to suddenly emerge as a leader is delusional.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:59 AM