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The Hurricane Mutiny?

Crank Call


Published September 14, 2005 at 4:00 p.m.

Gentle readers: Pity the poor writer who -- two weeks after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the destruction of New Orleans -- needs to say something fresh or original or maybe even meaningful about it.

Try it yourself and see how far you get. If ever there was a case that allowed events to speak for themselves, this was it. If ever there was a case more "covered" by the media (barring, of course, the trial of O.J. Simpson and the death of John F. Kennedy, Jr.), this was it. If ever there was a case that inspired more commentary, more acrimony, more recrimination than this, I would like to know what it was. As P.M. Carpenter wrote last week on "Everyone now knows what we knew from the beginning: George W. Bush is Marie Antoinette with a press agent."

This is a terrible insult to Marie Antoinette, but never mind. I happen to agree -- just for the moment, in extremis -- that this isn't a time to be "pointing fingers" or "laying blame." I can say this because my only concern and feeling are with the victims of Katrina, and because I know that the full incompetence and cynicism of the Bush regime has been finally, forever and nakedly exposed. Did it really take "Katrina" (or "Corina," as Bush's clueless wife, Laura, kept calling it until they stopped her) to demonstrate the utter bankruptcy of the Bush enterprise? And if it did, why? Why did it take something like this, when the evidence was already plain for everyone to see, in every area and every direction of our national life?

"Who is going to say 'stop'?" asks Stephen Pizzo on Alternet. "Who's going to stand up and say that these people must be prevented from doing any more damage? . . . It's long past time for those who know better, those in both parties, to declare the skipper incompetent and take charge. Leave him muttering and raging alone in his office, fidgeting with his ball bearings and accusing those around him of disloyalty. The time has come. The standard exceeded. The evidence is piled high around us."

Indeed, the evidence is piled on the bodies of the dead and displaced all along the Gulf Coast, not just in New Orleans. It doesn't matter if the deceased amount to 500 or 10,000 (as we were very cleverly told to expect, so they could later lower the number and make it look good). All of it is "unacceptable," as Bush himself has said several times, blinking for his political life.

Even more "unacceptable" are the remarks of the president's mother, Barbara Bush, the worst set of gilded bones and golf clubs ever to enter or leave the East Wing of the White House. To the credit of our press, her words have been widely quoted. She was speaking on National Public Radio about Katrina's refugees, finally airlifted out of New Orleans to the Houston Astrodome.

"They all want to stay in Texas," said the senior Mrs. Bush. "Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."

She actually chuckled when she said this. It's on a par with the words she used when her son attacked Iraq in 2003 and she was asked about the deaths involved. "Why should we hear about body bags and deaths?" asked Mrs. Bush. "Oh, I mean, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"

Speaking of Marie Antoinette -- well, let's not. The day a Bush offers "hospitality" to African-American refugees in Texas is the day I eat my shorts. Most of the printed accounts of Mrs. Bush's insult left out what she said at the beginning, namely, that she feared the Gulf Coast refugees would pack up on her lawn: "What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is that they all want to stay in Texas." That's how "overwhelming" the "hospitality" is.

"Poppy," meanwhile -- the unlamented first President Bush -- warned the world last week that if anyone wants to criticize his son they will have to deal with Barbara, and that, if they do, "I suggest you wear your flak jacket."

I suggest you bring a can of RAID -- and use it. Now that FEMA chairman Michael Brown has resigned his post, we can send him off to the tumbrels, too, recalling his well-chosen words on first being "called back" to Washington last week: "I'm going to go home and walk my dog and hug my wife and maybe get a good Mexican meal and a stiff margarita and a full night's sleep."

But, as I said, this is no time for blame. A nation that has not just permitted but conspired in the reign of these thugs has no business complaining now, not when there are so many people who need help. That is the best of America; the Bushes are the worst.

Speaking of Crank Call