James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The great hurricane mess; just Bush being Bush

There probably never will be another situation that so clearly demonstrates the toxic, stunning stupidity and arrogance of the Bush administration, or another that shows so entirely the heartless, self-centered greed of this president’s cadre of supporters in and out of Congress.

It simply can’t be made any clearer than what we are seeing in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and if America continues to allow those people to rule unchecked, the "great experiment" can be declared officially finished. Democracy will be no more than a transparent veneer over a feudal system of governance.

Led by the president’s favorite sociopath, Karl Rove – who else? -- the administration embarked at the end of last week on a campaign to cover it’s almost incredible incompetence by blaming state and local officials and, especially, the mostly poor victims of the hurricane for the extent of disaster.

Typically, Bush and his toadies are lying blatantly, even in the face of absolute proof that they are lying. On Sept. 3, Bush claimed, for example, that Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco did not declare an emergency or seek federal aid until days after the situation was out of control; in fact, she declared a state of emergency in the state on Aug. 26, and sought and got a similar declaration from the federal government on Aug. 27, two days before the Lake Pontchetrain levee breached.

The Bushites continue to claim that no one could have foreseen the breakdown of the levee despite clear evidence that the administration was, in fact, warned by several officials and agencies of the likelihood of such an event. (What, me worry?)

Bush also had the gall to praise the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Michael Brown, who bungled everything and continues to bungle everything having to do with the hurricane and it’s aftermath. The degree of his incompetence is jaw-dropping, though perhaps not quite so astonishing when you know that he was canned from his previous job of organizing horse shows – fired for incompetence. Yet Bush put him in charge of the agency that is supposed to organize and deliver aid in times of natural disaster. On that basis alone, it’s hard to say which of them is more incompetent.

Yet there are many on the right ready to accept whatever they are told by the Bushites, lapping up the lies repeated and expanded upon by the Fox network despite what they’ve seen of actual events, played out over and over on television. The president’s backers will believe anything they are told that supports what they want to believe, which is to say, anything that supports their prejudices and their self-centered, greed-driven way of life. If all the suffering is the victims’ fault, there is no need to stretch oneself or to give up anything more than maybe a $20 contribution, to help.

One can’t help but think of Groucho Marx: "Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?"

A letter to the editor in my local newspaper, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, is typical of the sort of Fox-inspired self-justification now starting to appear: The writer complains of the "modus operandi for liberals," which is, he says, to blame Bush for "everything" and to demand that government "take care of everything and everyone all the time." There’s a bit more of such drivel and then the writer concludes: "Get a clue and understand that the only one who will take care of you in a disaster is you."

That’s a fair demonstration of the difference between the modern right wing, the Bush crowd, and the rest of us. And don’t flap your jaws about how we should have a dialogue. There is no possible meeting of minds between such people and those of us who believe in community.

We can only beat the extreme right or lose to them in choosing the country’s leaders, and how that comes out depends on who best conveys their version of the truth to the befuddled people who bend this way and that with each new breeze. We can win only by being straight and blunt and by piling on the facts and by selling, selling, selling what we believe, just as the right wingers do, selling individual by individual if necessary.

A few commentators have suggested that the reason FEMA is so feeble, and the federal government has screwed up so incredibly on dealing with the effects of Katrina is that the Republicans have to a large degree succeeded in tearing down the federal government.

There is some truth to that. The Republican core wants government to protect and further the interests of the super rich and to do little else, and they have made great strides in that direction. But my long years of rubbing elbows with the kind of rich folks who adore and wholeheartedly support the Bush crowd tells me there’s yet another factor operative in this massive debacle.

That factor is demonstrated by the comments of the president’s mother, Barbara Bush.
Barbara – so often and so mistakenly portrayed by the establishment press as "motherly" – opined that many of the people who lost everything in the hurricane and its aftermath were "underprivileged anyway," and so being uprooted from their homes and being shipped off to new places with nothing but the clothes they are wearing "is working out very well for them."

She chuckled, showing that she finds that situation amusing.

She also noted that "What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is that they all want to stay in Texas."

Apparently, large numbers of people were shocked by her callousness, which only goes to show how little most people understand about the super-privileged.

Ladies and gentlemen, the mass of the population – you and I – don’t really exist for the Bushes, the Cheneys and the rest of that tight little crowd. Not as real human beings, on a par with themselves.

We are to them as the poor bastards of Haiti and Rwanda and the Amazon jungle are to most Americans. We know they’re there, but we don’t really quite believe that they’re real; they’re more like the odd characters in a sci-fi novel than real people, who have real hopes and real love for their children and who suffer real pain.

Want to get the Bush administration off its collective ass and moving the next time we have a major disaster in this country? Suggest that unless the government brings it’s full resources to bear, the country will lose one of its most exclusive polo or golf clubs, or, worse, that Halliburton’s profits will be reduced by 35 percent.