[FoRK] Partisan Hackery: No One Can Say They Didn't See It Coming
Ian Andrew Bell FoRK
Fri Sep 2 12:56:59 PDT 2005
...but reasonably accurate partisan hackery, I suppose. I think that
if you could scientifically tie global climate change to the
hurricane this would be a slam dunk against Bush, not that acceding
to the Kyoto demands would have affected Katrina in the near term.
Simply put, that this will keep happening unless we change something
might shift the whims of the proletariat further in favor of reducing
emissions and pollutants.
I think SDW said it best though ... this disaster was forged > 200
years ago when settlers decided to build a city on a sinking bog,
well below sea level.. oops.
"No One Can Say they Didn't See it Coming"
By Sidney Blumenthal
In 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of
the three most likely disasters in the U.S. But the Bush
administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to
pay for the Iraq war.
Biblical in its uncontrolled rage and scope, Hurricane Katrina has
left millions of Americans to scavenge for food and shelter and
hundreds to thousands reportedly dead. With its main levee broken,
the evacuated city of New Orleans has become part of the Gulf of
Mexico. But the damage wrought by the hurricane may not entirely be
the result of an act of nature.
A year ago the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed to study how New
Orleans could be protected from a catastrophic hurricane, but the
Bush administration ordered that the research not be undertaken.
After a flood killed six people in 1995, Congress created the
Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, in which the Corps
of Engineers strengthened and renovated levees and pumping stations.
In early 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a
report stating that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the
three most likely disasters in the U.S., including a terrorist attack
on New York City. But by 2003 the federal funding for the flood
control project essentially dried up as it was drained into the Iraq
war. In 2004, the Bush administration cut funding requested by the
New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for holding
back the waters of Lake Pontchartrain by more than 80 percent.
Additional cuts at the beginning of this year (for a total reduction
in funding of 44.2 percent since 2001) forced the New Orleans
district of the Corps to impose a hiring freeze. The Senate had
debated adding funds for fixing New Orleans' levees, but it was too
The New Orleans Times-Picayune, which before the hurricane published
a series on the federal funding problem, and whose presses are now
underwater, reported online: "No one can say they didn't see it
coming ... Now in the wake of one of the worst storms ever, serious
questions are being asked about the lack of preparation."
The Bush administration's policy of turning over wetlands to
developers almost certainly also contributed to the heightened level
of the storm surge. In 1990, a federal task force began restoring
lost wetlands surrounding New Orleans. Every two miles of wetland
between the Crescent City and the Gulf reduces a surge by half a
foot. Bush had promised "no net loss" of wetlands, a policy launched
by his father's administration and bolstered by President Clinton.
But he reversed his approach in 2003, unleashing the developers. The
Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency then
announced they could no longer protect wetlands unless they were
somehow related to interstate commerce.
In response to this potential crisis, four leading environmental
groups conducted a joint expert study, concluding in 2004 that
without wetlands protection New Orleans could be devastated by an
ordinary, much less a Category 4 or 5, hurricane. "There's no way to
describe how mindless a policy that is when it comes to wetlands
protection," said one of the report's authors. The chairman of the
White House's Council on Environmental Quality dismissed the study as
"highly questionable," and boasted, "Everybody loves what we're doing."
"My administration's climate change policy will be science based,"
President Bush declared in June 2001. But in 2002, when the
Environmental Protection Agency submitted a study on global warming
to the United Nations reflecting its expert research, Bush derided it
as "a report put out by a bureaucracy," and excised the climate
change assessment from the agency's annual report. The next year,
when the EPA issued its first comprehensive "Report on the
Environment," stating, "Climate change has global consequences for
human health and the environment," the White House simply demanded
removal of the line and all similar conclusions. At the G-8 meeting
in Scotland this year, Bush successfully stymied any common action on
global warming. Scientists, meanwhile, have continued to accumulate
impressive data on the rising temperature of the oceans, which has
produced more severe hurricanes.
In February 2004, 60 of the nation's leading scientists, including 20
Nobel laureates, warned in a statement, "Restoring Scientific
Integrity in Policymaking": "Successful application of science has
played a large part in the policies that have made the United States
of America the world's most powerful nation and its citizens
increasingly prosperous and healthy ... Indeed, this principle has
long been adhered to by presidents and administrations of both
parties in forming and implementing policies. The administration of
George W. Bush has, however, disregarded this principle ... The
distortion of scientific knowledge for partisan political ends must
cease." Bush completely ignored this statement.
In the two weeks preceding the storm in the Gulf, the trumping of
science by ideology and expertise by special interests accelerated.
The Federal Drug Administration announced that it was postponing sale
of the morning-after contraceptive pill, despite overwhelming
scientific evidence of its safety and its approval by the FDA's
scientific advisory board. The United Nations special envoy for HIV/
AIDS in Africa accused the Bush administration of responsibility for
a condom shortage in Uganda -- the result of the administration's
evangelical Christian agenda of "abstinence." When the chief of the
Bureau of Justice Statistics in the Justice Department was ordered by
the White House to delete its study that African-Americans and other
minorities are subject to racial profiling in police traffic stops
and he refused to buckle under, he was forced out of his job. When
the Army Corps of Engineers' chief contracting oversight analyst
objected to a $7 billion no-bid contract awarded for work in Iraq to
Halliburton (the firm at which Vice President Cheney was formerly
CEO), she was demoted despite her superior professional ratings. At
the National Park Service, a former Cheney aide, a political
appointee lacking professional background, drew up a plan to overturn
past environmental practices and prohibit any mention of evolution
while allowing sale of religious materials through the Park Service.
On the day the levees burst in New Orleans, Bush delivered a speech
in Colorado comparing the Iraq war to World War II and himself to
Franklin D. Roosevelt: "And he knew that the best way to bring peace
and stability to the region was by bringing freedom to Japan." Bush
had boarded his very own "Streetcar Named Desire."
Sidney Blumenthal, a former assistant and senior advisor to President
Clinton and the author of "The Clinton Wars," is writing a column for
Salon and the Guardian of London.
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