FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Katrina’s Political Aftermath

Hurricane Katrina has left much in her wake, including who is to blame for the aftermath. Most are heaving their anger at the Bush administration. Much of it is deserved. But we can blame more than just Bush.

The most grotesque facets of American society have been on display for everyone to dissect. Indeed, our makeup has been smeared and our manicured blemishes exposed. Flood or no flood, we live in an unjust country that leaves its poor and minorities left to rot.

Some are holding the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) accountable for the government’s failed response to Katrina. In fact, Bush blames FEMA and has pulled director Michael Brown from heading up the Katrina relief effort only to have Brown resign hours later. The scapegoating has begun.

Who is really to blame? Bush or FEMA?

Well, FEMA has forever been a train wreck. Doomsday scenarios have propelled the agency’s crooked course for decades. The apocalypse has always been more panic provoking than a tornado in Kansas or hurricanes in the Florida Panhandle, and the majority of planning has been spent on the easing Cold War fears. Many Bush critics claim FEMA gained muscle in the 1990s under Bill Clinton but has been dismantled under Bush. But the truth is, FEMA has never been capable of dealing with enormous natural catastrophes.

In 1999 Hurricane Floyd ravaged the eastern seaboard leaving tens of thousands stranded. It took over twenty long days for ex-FEMA director James Lee Witt to get the trucks rolling in to provide assistance. “We’re starting to move the camper trailers in,” Witt told Rev. Jesse Jackson on CNN a full three weeks after Floyd hit. “It’s been so wet it’s been difficult to get things in there, but now it’s going to be moving very quickly. And I think you’re going to see a – I think the people there will see a big difference over within this next weekend.”

“It seemed there was preparation for Hurricane Floyd, but then came Flood Floyd,” said Rev. Jackson. “Bridges are overwhelmed, levees are overwhelmed, whole town’s under water . . . [it is] an awesome scene of tragedy,” Jackson espoused.

Even with a Democrat in office, FEMA was as inadequate then as it is now.

Of course, Floyd wasn’t nearly as horrific as Hurricane Katrina. At least in the 1990s we had more reserved troops ready to help out with such disasters. So we can still blame it all on Bush, right? Not exactly. That blame needs to be shared. Iraq has been a bipartisan nightmare – even presidential hopeful John Kerry wanted to send more troops over into harms way. Although Kerry acknowledged Bush’s “back-door draft”, which has stretched our troops to their max, he wasn’t about to reverse it. So you can blame both the Democrats and the Republicans for that one. In fact, it is quite likely that the Democrats would have responded (or rather, not responded) in the same fashion as the Bush administration did to Katrina.

Neither a Republican nor a Democrat in office would have done what Fidel Castro did in September 2004 when Cuba was struck by Hurricane Ivan. Castro managed to evacuate 1.6 million people as the hurricane approached. Over 20,000 homes were destroyed, yet the hurricane related deaths were few. Thousands of lives had been saved.

Cuba, despite the embargo, is still a much more equitable society than the US and Katrina’s proved it. We can go ahead and blame FEMA or Bush for all that has ensued, but the failures of Katrina go much deeper than that. Until we overcome the greater class inequalities in this country, there will always be Katrinas in the making.

JOSHUA FRANK is the author of the brand new book, Left Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, which has just been published by Common Courage Press. You can order a copy at a discounted rate at www.brickburner.org. Joshua can be reached at Joshua@brickburner.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book, co-authored with Jeffrey St. Clair, is Big Heat: Earth on the Brink. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
April 01, 2020
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
No Pandemic-Related Pause? VA Privatization Leaves Veterans Waist Deep in Another Big Muddy 
Kenneth Surin
The UK and Covid-19 Crisis
Jack Wareham - Dylan Burgoon
“Whose University? Our University!” The Struggle for a COLA at UC Berkeley
Erik Molvar
Oil industry Exploits Pandemic as Excuse to Dodge Federal Regulations, Fees
Robert Jensen
Apocalypse, Now and Forever
Jake Johnston – Kira Paulemon
COVID-19 in Haiti: the Current Response and Challenges
Jen Moore
Guatemalan Water Protectors Persist, Despite Mining Company Threats
Danny Shaw
“The Coronavirus is Man-Made:” the Conspiracy Theory Trap 
Nafeez Ahmed
Former WHO Director: 8-Week Suppression Strategy Could Stop US COVID Crisis in Its Tracks
Frances Madeson
Death Camps in the Making: New York’s Prisons During a Time of Pandemic
Clark T. Scott
The White House and the CDC are United in Stupidity
George Ochenski
What Does COVID-19 Have to Do With Industrial Pollution?
Norman Solomon
Trump’s Mass Negligent Homicide Doesn’t Let Democratic Leaders Off the Hook
Scott Owen
Another New Peace
Elizabeth Schmidt
Lessons From Africa: Military Intervention Fails to Counter Terrorism
Greta Anderson
What’s the Hang Up on Releasing Adult Lobos?
Ted Rall
The Speech Trump Must But Cannot Give
Marshall Sahlins
Trumpty’s Country
March 31, 2020
Jonathan Cook
Netanyahu Uses Coronavirus to Lure Rival Gantz into ‘Emergency’ Government
Vijay Prashad, Du Xiaojun – Weiyan Zhu
Growing Xenophobia Against China in the Midst of CoronaShock
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Chernobyl Moment: the US May Lose Its Status as World Superpower and Not Recover
Roger Harris
Beyond Chutzpah: US Charges Venezuela With Nacro-Terrorism
M. K. Bhadrakumar
Has America Reached Its Endgame in Afghanistan?
Thomas Klikauer
COVID-19 in Germany: Explaining a Low Death Rate
Dave Lindorff
We’ve Met the Enemy and It’s a Tiny Virus
Binoy Kampmark
Barbaric Decisions: Coronavirus, Refusing Bail and Julian Assange
Nicolas J S Davies
Why is the U.S. so Exceptionally Vulnerable to Covid-19?
James Bovard
The Deep State’s Demolition of Democracy
Michael Doliner
Face Off: the Problem With Social Distancing
John Feffer
The Politics of COVID-19
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s Cure and Our Disease
Howard Lisnoff
The Fault Lines of a Failed Society Begin to Open Up Into Chasms
Nino Pagliccia
Cuba: An Example of Solidarity In a Time of Crisis
Ralph Nader
Out of the Coronavirus Crisis Can Come Efficient Historic Changes for Justice
Thomas Stephens
Apocalyptic and Revolutionary Education in Times of Pandemic
Edward Martin
Erik Olin Wright and the Anti-Capitalist Economy
March 30, 2020
Marshall Auerback
Washington Uses the Pandemic to Create a $2 Trillion Slush Fund for Its Cronies
Ron Jacobs
Going After Maduro
Justin Podur
When Economists Try to Solve Health Crises, the Results Can Often be Disastrous
Thomas Knapp
Decarceration: COVID-19 is Opportunity Knocking
Arshad Khan - Meena Miriam Yust
Dying Planet and a Virus Unleashed
William Astore
How My Dad Predicted the Decline of America
Seth Sandronsky
Reclaiming Vacant Homes in the COVID-19 Pandemic
John G. Russell
Racial Profiling Disorder: the All-American Pandemic
Vijay Prashad, Paola Estrada, Ana Maldonado, and Zoe PC
As the World Tackles the COVID-19 Pandemic, the U.S. Raises the Pressure on Venezuela
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail