Discussions throughout the blogosphere (and increasingly in the MSM) focus on these two things, and interspersed throughout are suggestions that we "shouldn't make this political - yet". While I understand the propriety and urgency of focusing our energies on rescuing survivors and stabilizing the affected areas, I strongly disagree with the plea to save our criticisms for a more palatable time.
Part of our basic coping mechanisms include creating a psychological distance from tragedy. For those of us not on the Gulf coast, this can be accomplished by a few hours away from the news (and closing our eyes at the gas pump). Trouble is, this distance is invariably accompanied by a selective amnesia. After all, who honestly wants to go to sleep tonight shuffling through images of distraught survivors, obliterated towns and floating corpses? However, in the reach for some degree of peace in the aftermath, we cannot forget that the damage to New Orleans could have been mitigated.
Funding for the Iraqi invasion did not fall from the sky. Money has been diverted from countless federal programs, including COE levee repair and flood control projects in and around New Orleans. The Louisiana press has been highly vocal throughout the last 18 months over their critically underfunded SELA efforts, but it was not until now that this shortfall has come to national attention.
[Update: DWCG has done the homework on researching these funding cuts, bless him. For background material, see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
Alternatively, for a good summary, and useful links out to more coverage, see Hunter's diary here.]
In the jingoistic zeal to greenlight the building of G.W.'s Islamic Republic, the Bush administration and its Congressional supporters have redirected billions from critical domestic programs across the board. I shudder to think what else is withering as we speak, and getting little to no attention outside of the tiny local papers that follow the funding blackouts.
I don't want people to forget in the coming weeks that some of the horrific damage from Katrina could have been prevented. I want the people that voted for Bush and his war to know that they are the unwitting accomplices in the destruction of one of the most magnificent cities on earth. I want them to take this to heart when it's the most uncomfortable, the most difficult and consequently, the most memorable.
We can blame and vilify Bush for the next hundred years, but he is not a squatter in the White House. 51% of the voting public sent him there. The twin disasters of Iraq and Katrina are their reckoning.