Hundreds, Maybe Thousands
This is the thing that won't leave my mind. They're going to be finding corpses for weeks. Months. A lot of very unpleasant surprises in store.
The all-too-human reaction to such a hideous calamity is to search for someone to blame. But unlike when those frother gasbags blamed everything from 9-11 to rectal pruritis on Bill and Hillary Clinton, some real, tangible, irrefutable facts -- facts that have been known for years -- cast an ineluctible pall of culpability on Vacation Boy and his pals, who glance furtively at the devastation from 2,500 feet on a flyover.
It's long been open war between the Bush acolytes and the scientific community -- a long-running guerrilla conflict between maddened ideologues on one side and coolheaded empiricists on the other. No inconvenient appeal to the irrefutable evidence of the senses has ever prevented the agenda-driven True Believers from dealing out harrassment and opprobrium to their enemies, as Al Swearengen just got through telling you -- or just ignoring their advice altogether.
The fact of the matter is, they just won't listen to the fuckin' scientists. The guys with the inconvenient facts. The Cassanda Crowd with the Evidence of Global Warming and all that miserable, predictable Preserve the Wetlands to Save the Spackle-Headed Mudhopper crap.
Sidney Blumenthal points out in today's Salon, "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."
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.I used to characterize Republican philosophy thus: My right to make money trumps your right to enjoy your life.
I no longer am so naively polite. After the destruction of New Orleans, all civility is over.
My right to make money trumps your right to live.