Thursday, September 01, 2005

Noblesse Oblige 

Last night we posted a brief excerpt from an article by a gormless libertarian ninny who wondered why anyone would choose to be so poor (or, in the case of infants and small children, choose to be born into a family so poor) that they might find themselves dependent on the government's largesse during a natural catastrophe. Our eminent colleague John Aravosis of AmericaBlog caught a whiff of the same sociopathic tone in remarks made to CNN earlier today by FEMA chief Michael Brown, who explained that the agency was trying "to help those who are stranded, who chose not to evacuate, who chose not to leave the city."

In other words, the Bush administration, renowned for its munificence toward those less fortunate, has gallantly stepped forward to lend a hand to the peons and peasants who put themselves and their families at risk through willful stupidity and intransigence. Even though they don't deserve it.

Which is a hell of a beau geste, we agree. It would of course be bad form to point out that much of the devastation could have been averted, or at least ameliorated, had the obvious preventive measures been taken. Instead the President chose to send thousands of National Guardsmen, along with helicopters and amphibious vehicles, to eliminate a nonexistent threat in Iraq; chose to slash $71.2 million from the federal budget for hurricane and flood protection projects in order to pay for tax cuts and elective wars; chose to reconstitute FEMA as an ineffective arm of that worthless pork magnet the Department of Homeland Security; and chose to sit out the first three days of the disaster, strumming his new guitar while the people of New Orleans wandered streets lined with sewage and corpses, searching mostly in vain for food, water, medical attention, police assistance, a way out.

Meanwhile, we're turning down offers of assistance and materiel support from Canada and Jamaica as if we had the ability to handle this crisis on our own.

Which, thanks to our leaders and their smart choices, we don't.

UPDATE: Tens of thousands of families are without shelter. If you live within 300 miles of New Orleans and have a spare room or an extra bed that you are willing to offer to storm refugees, sign up at HurricaneHousing.org.

UPDATE II: Scotty McClellan said today that the US was "open to all offers of assistance" but was not requesting foreign aid. Meanwhile, George Bush had this to say in an ABC interview:
I'm not expecting much from foreign nations because we haven't asked for it. But this country is going to rise up and take care of it. We love help, but we are going to take care of our own business, as well.
UPDATE III: For any pundits and/or government spokespersons who still don't get the point, U.S. News & World Report explained back in July that "the city's high poverty rate is another hurdle [to evacuation]; almost 1 in 6 households has no car."

UPDATE IV: Our distinguished colleague Eli of Left I on the lessons no one bothered to learn from Hurricane Ivan.

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