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Guy's Blog

Just one Guy's personal blog of thoughts & sense--common, non, and otherwise--of the world in which we live.

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Location: Nipomo, Central Coast, California, United States

I also blog over at Nipomo News, Messenger and Advocate and Bloggernacle Times

Saturday, September 03, 2005

More New Orleans Thoughts

A few more thoughts on New Orleans. First, and most important, it appears relief efforts are finally reaching the thousands and thousands of stranded residents. While much of the city is flooded by varying depths of water from Lake Ponchartrain, there are a few bright spots. According to the Washington Post, some of the historic French Quarter has survived, but of course remains closed (Though, one article reports there are still some residents living life in typical French Quarter Style). I remain hopeful that one day my lovely wife and I will again snack on beignets at Cafe Du Monde, and feel the spirit of old New Orleans.

But, for now, the harsh and brutal realities of New Orleans, including the unimaginable death and destruction that hang over that city, require that "we the people" begin asking our elected representatives some hard questions--that require real answers.

Damage estimates from Katrina range anywhere from $25 to $100 billion. The average price of gasoline in the United States has risen to over $3.00 a gallon. In my area gasoline is over $3.09 a gallon. Production is in jeopardy. Demand is sky high. It is virtually impossible to build new oil refineries in the United States, and the ones we have are stretched to the breaking point--see here and here. America's electical grid is in need of major upgrades, requiring tens of billions of dollars.

Yet, in Iraq, we continue to spend up to $5 billion each month based on estimates from the Congressional Budget Office. By 2010 the United States is likely to have spent (simultaneously killing and rebuilding) up to $600 billion. We could have rebuilt, New Orleans, Mississippi, and Alabama's Katrina damage six times based on that estimate. We could have updated the country's entire electrical grid. We could have invested in true mass transit in our country (thereby reducing our need for foreign oil), including high speed bullet trains throughout the United States. Of course, these dollar figures don't even begin to address the incalculable human losses. When is it enough? What will it take for our leaders in Washington to realize we are squandering America's financial and human wealth in the sands of the Middle East?

It has been nearly four years since 9/11. In that time, Mr. Bush has created an entire federal agency to help keep the homeland safe. The Department of Homeland Security's own website sets forth its mission statement relating to natural disasters:
Emergencies and Disasters

Preparing America

In the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency, the Department of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility on March 1st for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation. This will entail providing a coordinated, comprehensive federal response to any large-scale crisis and mounting a swift and effective recovery effort. The new Department will also prioritize the important issue of citizen preparedness. Educating America's families on how best to prepare their homes for a disaster and tips for citizens on how to respond in a crisis will be given special attention at DHS.

This cabinet level department is supposed to assume the primary responsibility for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation. Well? What happened? Homeland security chief Michael Chertoff, who was supposed to have assumed this primary responsiblity lamely claimed that the Katrina scenario just did not exist--it was not anticipated. CNN's piece on their website throughly discredits this nonsensical claim. There has also been much discussion about two disasters, i.e., the hurricane and then the levee break. In reality it was one disaster. Two disasters would have been a hurricane, then followed by say an earthquake. One more instance of Mr. Bush's inability to accept responsibility for anything. The president who has never made a mistake, continues with his perfect score.

The blogs are replete with excellent and much greater in depth coverage than I could ever hope to produce. Therefore, I suggest that you take a look at some of the best posts I have found on these issues here, here, here, here, and here.

I am so tired of Mr. Bush's all too predictable responses to the facts of any given situation which stand in stark contrast to his own interpretation of reality. Now more than ever we need all of our resources marshaled at home to take care of our own. It is embarrasingly clear that America's Department of Homeland Security is woefully unprepared to assume primary responsibilty and perform the function for which they were created: To keep the homeland safe.

Mr. Bush is and has been seriously out of touch with reality in this country. His policies are are misguided, and are wasting desperately needed resources here at home: both monetary and human.

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