Saturday, September 03, 2005

High Water Everywhere

I get that no one can predict a Category 5 Hurricane.

I get that no one can predict that the levee will break (or whatever euphemism is being used) the day after the Category 5 Hurricane.

I get (but I am a little disturbed by) the argument that there is never enough time, money or resources to do all the things that need to be done. Therefore, the argument goes, the levee that is controlling the walls that is controlling the port that is controlling the mouth that is controlling the river that is controlling the commerce of the 8-10 states that it borders (many of which voted for the President and Republican Senators), not to mention the farm industry, the livestock industry, and the oil refining industry of the states directly west of the aforesaid 8-10 states (virtually all of which voted for the President and Republican Senators) ... that levee is somehow not, how should I put it -- the highest priority item that anyone in the Red States should be concerned with.

But here are some questions that no one has yet answered to my satisfaction:

After they bombed our building in New York and our building in Washington ... hell, after they bombed Pearl Harbour, how could the Pentagon, how could the Department of Homeland Security not have a contingency plan for a military strike or a terrorist attack on the levee? It is not as if the Battle of New Orleans is a new concept in American History.

Donald Rumsfeld, to the best of our knowledge, has not been asked anything, has not done anything, and has not been asked to do anything. The Head of Homeland Security, to the best of my knowledge, has not been asked tis question directly. The question -- why aren't we using the contingency plan that has to be in place for a terrorist attack on the levees?

Or maybe we are. But we know that if this was the contingency plan the Foxies would be defending the plan, they would be saying that the President is doing everything perfectly. But even the Foxies aren't saying that. They are simply defending the President's efforts. If this was the plan, the President would not have spent all day today trying to fix the mess that the President made of his trip to the region yesterday which itself was scheduled to try to fix the mess he made when he opened his mouth earlier in the week.

Well, at least Dick Cheney was on the scene today.

Why wasn't there a plan?

Here's another stab. Why aren't we using the contingency plan that has to be in place for a terrorist attack on the levees?

Because there is no plan. Because the Administration does not really take a terrorist threat on the levees seriously. If the Administration does not really take a terrorist threat on the levees seriously, where would they take a terrorist attack seriously? I mean, besides Kennebunkport or Crawford?

If there is no serious contingency plans for a terrorist attack in our Gulf, then ---and I ask this as a supporter of this war in a context where my support has cost me life-long friendships, and most likely business opportunities --- if we have no contingency plan to fight terrorism in our Gulf, why would we be fighting terrorism in that other Gulf?

Oh, but I (since the government and I are very tight) ... I never said that we had to be in Iraq for terrorism. I never said that we had to be in Iraq for the spread of democracy. I said that we had to be in Iraq to protect the oil supply.

But even my cynicism turns out not to be nearly cynical enough.

No one in the Administration was worried about protecting the oil supply. Because if someone would have been concerned about oil supply, they would have been concerned about oil refineries, and if they were concerned about oil refineries, they would have made sure that the refineries would have been protected from breaches in the levee. But the plan to shore up the levee was not a high priority to the President of an Oil Company who is the President of the United States or to the President of an Oil Company who is the Vice President of the United States.

Would shoring up the levee would have made a difference this week --- It was never even tried, because they did not care.

We had to go into Iraq to protect the oil supply so the cheap energy source could continue to flow into the United States, where it belongs. I paid $3.19 for a gallon of gas on Thursday. Good thing I didn't wait for the weekend, because gas costs $3.59 a gallon now. The day before the flood it cost $2.59 a gallon.

Happily for the Administration, I, like most Americans, can not remember what the price of gas was 6 months ago.

Anyway, at what point is it cheaper to turn coal into oil? At what point is it cheaper to turn corn into ethanol and process that a second time? I cannot believe that no one has made that calculation yet. I'm sure Dick Cheney knows. Why doesn't somebody just ask him.

Because if we don't care about protecting the oil refineries here, why should we care about protecting the oil supply there.

Because once the energy supply in the United States is that much cheaper than a gallon of oil, we can just convert to the alternate source, get out of the Middle East and leave those people to their own devices.

Where are the answers?

A couple of final footnotes.

Why isn't this empty suit who is the head of FEMA out of a job yet? He said days afterwards that he wasn't aware that there was a refugee problem (I'm paraphrasing), and then he exacerbated the situation when he said that he was heart-broken -- heart-broken -- FEMA asked those poor people with no money, no connections, health problems, to leave New Orleans -- what was FEMA supposed to do. Give them a bus ticket, too? I mean it's not like this guy would really be out of a job. An original thinker like that is a perfect match for Mary Matalon's new conservative publishing imprint.

Some moron in the New York Times wrote an entire column today stating that the Federal Government should not be in charge of repairing the levee. That it was a matter of flood insurance. If the Port of New Orleans is not a federal issue, not to be controlled by the Federal government, then just tear the Constitution up and start over. Because then the conservatives are right. There is no need for a United States. For anything. And I can keep my Federal tax money and use it to buy guns, rockets and missiles for my own protection. The Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana cannot have sole responsibility for the Mississippi River. That's not my decision. That was decided during the Battle of Vicksburg.

On a more cheerful note, I would like to welcome all the new converts to my way of thinking. All winter long, all through Holy Week, these people said that 3 Federal benches, the Supreme Court and countless State judges could not determine whether or not to pull the plug on someone who was brain-dead for 15 years.

Others said that, even in the case of a serial killer, the instrumentalies of death were too severe to be put in the hand of elected officials, and the middle-aged and elderly (mostly) gentlemen who are our judges. The government, they said, cannot take a life.

I am happy to say that these same people now say that although they do not trust scores of federal judges and elected officials, any 19-year old who has been deputized into the National Guard this week is free to shoot and kill anyone caught stealing a Kit Kat bar from a Walgreens.

Welcome to the cause.

To those of you who accuse those like me of politicizing the issue. I know that the Bush Administration is completely focussed on the fate of the victims, and anything that they do in the coming days will be part and parcel of their efforts. So I know that help is on the way. I know that this week, the Bush Administration and its fellow travelers will spend their time alleviating the pain and suffering of the most truly aggrieved in our society. The ones who have been hurt the most. It will take the one government action that must be taken to insure that the calamity these victims have suffered will never happen again. Yes, at long last, we will have the solution that will lead to all solutions. We will stop what we are doing, and we will repeal the Estate Tax.