[FoRK] Partisan Hackery: No One Can Say They Didn't See It Coming

Ian Andrew Bell FoRK 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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