Friday, September 02, 2005

Frustration

September 2nd, 2005

I never thought that I would ever say this…but for the first time in my life I am embarrassed to be an American. Do not get me wrong, I love my country…I have served my country (honorably, Marine Corps)…And I can honestly say that there is no where else I would rather live then here in the U.S. of A. But, as evidenced by the situation in New Orleans, and the way it has been handles by our leaders, it is clear that we have major problems that need to be addressed.

Here are the facts:

1. In early 2001 the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) ranked the potential damage to New Orleans as among the three likeliest, most catastrophic disasters facing this country. The other two were a massive earthquake in San Francisco, and a terrorist attack on New York City.

2. In this year’s budget, the Bush administration proposed a significant reduction in funding for southeast Louisiana's chief hurricane protection project. Bush proposed $10.4 million, a sixth of what local officials said they needed…and at least nine articles in the Times-Picayune (the newspaper serving the greater New Orleans area) from 2004 and 2005 specifically cited the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane and flood-control dollars.

3. 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.

4. From a recent article in the Washington Post: “This year it was announced that FEMA is to "officially" lose the disaster preparedness function that it has had since its creation. The move is a death blow to an agency that was already on life support. In fact, FEMA employees have been directed not to become involved in disaster preparedness functions, since a new directorate (yet to be established) will have that mission.

FEMA will be survived by state and local emergency management offices, which are confused about how they fit into the national picture.”

5. On Monday, August 29th, the President went to California (for a Medicare event) rather than Louisiana, although he did touch on the greatest natural disaster in our Nations history briefly: “For those of you who are concerned about whether or not we're prepared to help, don't be. We are. We're in place. We've got equipment in place, supplies in place…we'll be able to move in and help those good folks in the affected areas. (Applause.)”



6. On Monday, August 29th, the President went to Arizona (again, not Louisiana) to celebrate John McCain’s 69th birthday…then went off to yet another Medicare event.





7. On Tuesday, August 30th, the President went to deliver a speech at the Naval Base in Coronado California (once again, not Louisiana), where he got guitar lessons from country music singer Mark Wells. Perhaps he felt this was more important than addressing the situation in New Orleans?



The pictures alone should speak volumes…but there are serious questions for the President that we should demand answers to. Just a few of these should be:

1. Why was funding for the hurricane protection project in New Orleans cut by the Bush Administration when FEMA had listed this scenario as one of the top three catastrophic events likely to occur in the U.S.?

2. Why, with knowledge that Hurricane Katrina was headed for New Orleans (as early as August 25th), were more National Guardsman not federally called up to prepare for the looming disaster?

3. Why was government transportation not issued to the citizens of New Orleans that were unable to evacuate the city because they had no form of transportation?

4. Why has it taken over a week to get food and water to those stranded in New Orleans, when food drops were occurring (from the U.S.) to those affected by the tsunamis by the next day?

5. Why has the government not seized control over every damn Grey-Hound bus in America, and sent them on their way to rescue those stranded in New Orleans?

6. Why the smiling, happy photo-ops, while a huge national crisis is occurring?

7. Did you do everything in your power, Mr. President, to ensure the quickest response to action regarding this national emergency?

8. A solid leader hopes for the best scenario, but prepares for the worst. Was this administration adequately prepared for the worst? Or was too much stock put in ‘hope’?

Again, as evidenced by the handling of the situation in New Orleans by our leaders, it is clear that we have major problems that need to be addressed. Not just within our government, but within ourselves as Americans.

No longer can we afford to favor one of the two parties in our government in the same manor we favor our favorite sports teams. The Republican and Democratic parties are not the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox…and we need to refrain from treating these elected officials with the same unabashed, biased support. Newsflash for the country: Politicians are human, and they do make mistakes…and as our elected officials, representing the people of this great country, it is our civic duty to hold them accountable for their mistakes and errors in judgment.

No longer can we accept that, come election time, we need to vote between the lesser of two evils…we’ve accepted this principle of our government for far too long. It is time, as citizens of the greatest country on Earth, that we demand to vote between the greater of two leaders.

(And no longer can we sit silently, and allow groups [such as the ‘Religious Wrong’] to make the claim that the people of New Orleans deserved what they got from God, for their ‘sinful’ nature. Anyone that makes this claim is an uncaring, selfish individual that worships a god of wrath rather than a god of love.)

The Iraq War is at least debatable. The situation in New Orleans and the response of our leaders is not. It is plain and simply unacceptable…yet we are accepting it…and this is the cause of my embarrassment…and should be for you as well.

If you agree with what was stated here, send it to someone, anyone. Email it. Post it on newsgroups. Spread the word. It is time for us to reclaim our title as the greatest country on Earth.

Eric Weeks
Kansas City, MO.
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