Several states ready and willing to send National Guard troops to the rescue in New Orleans didn't get the go-ahead until days after the storm struck -- a delay nearly certain to be investigated by Congress.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson offered Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco help from his state's National Guard last Sunday, the day before Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. Blanco accepted, but paperwork needed to get the troops en route didn't come from Washington until late Thursday.
We are hearing similar stories from all quarters, over and over. It seems the response to the hurricane on the national scale was beyond incompetent, beyond indifferent, and somewhere approaching the line of ... what, exactly? CrapMcFungled? Jackasstrophic? Neroesque?
The top political appointees and candidates, in interview after interview, have decided on their defense. In each specific instance, aid wasn't given because that particular fragment of aid wasn't asked for (or because four or five days after landfall they still didn't know about, oh say, 15,000 evacuees in a major evacuation center.) There are still, today, reports of small communities that haven't yet gotten more than a token amount of aid.
The entire argument is beyond insulting. The reason these communities haven't "requested" more aid? Because they have no working communications. They have no phones. Police and fire capabilities were all but destroyed, in some areas. Medical capabilities, even worse off. And yet it dawned on nobody, within FEMA or "Homeland Security" or anywhere else in this vaunted post-9/11 world, that maybe the flattened counties that nobody could contact and nobody could get information from NEEDED HELP?
Oh, the state and local authorities, make no mistake, they don't deserve anything resembling praise here either -- though when a New Orleans mayor is reduced to screaming obscenities on the radio [MP3] as the only remaining response to federal lethargy, I'm not exactly sure what more he can do. But it was clear that this was going to be a multistate disaster beyond state and local capabilities before the first squalls even hit the coastline, which is why Bush deigned to designate it as such in advance. We're watching people die, and the supposedly streamlined, remodeled infrastructure designed to protect us from catastrophic terrorist attack crumbled into chaos even when given days of warning, and years of prior planning.
There needs to be an investigation, oh you bet. And we need especially to hear why it's such a goddamn brilliant idea to have political appointees with zero disaster experience heading the efforts to respond to actual disasters. Because so far, all I've seen them do is conduct television interviews, and they can't even do those worth a damn.
This is a disaster in which thousands are now presumed dead, and unforgivably, deaths are still occurring. It's a big enough disaster that professional Bush humpers are going to look like the boorish crap factories they've always been, and hopefully tied to the levees as extra protection before the next disaster. God help you folks, you haven't even begun to see hatred yet.