Friday, September 02, 2005

The Styrofoam Peanut Presidency

Small Precautions reader PS sends me this link from TPM cafe, asking me if I was responsible for it:

The thing that comes to my mind, watching this horrible clusterfuck play out, is that we have seen this all before. The lack of planning, the replacement of professionals with political cronies, and the subversion of all process so that profiteering replaces disaster preparation and emergency preparedness as the primary goal. We're getting a taste of Iraqi reconstruction, and the anger you see on live TV is hauntingly familiar, even if this time it is in English.

Crooked auto body shops will sometimes replace expensive airbags with styrofoam peanuts packed into the steering wheel. It seems that someone has been busy packing our whole government with styrofoam peanuts for the past couple years, and we are just finding out. FEMA has been sent through the privatization funhouse, its budget slashed, effective staff lost, its mission diverted toward terrorism. The agency's head is an estate planning lawyer who was the college buddy of the previous head of FEMA, who in turn got the job as a political favor for running Junior's 2000 campaign. And now surprise, surprise, our levees predictably crumble in the face of a predictable storm, people have no food, no water, dead bodies litter the streets, and the federal government is nowhere to be found. Our children will be in debt to Chinese bankers for a long time paying interest on the costs of a styrofoam peanut-filled government that failed us in our greatest time of need.

Alas, I was not the author of these honeyed words. But I definitely appreciate the sentiment.

Word is now coming in that troops are being sent into New Orleans with shoot-to-kill orders. Whether or not that's true, it's probably a good idea to get the word onto the street that this is the case.

On the homologies between Iraq and New Orleans: the Iraqification of American domestic policy should always have been an expected result of the war. (A major reason, not incidentally, to oppose the war.) As anyone who has spent time studying the effect of warfare on society knows, the home front is never insulated from brutalization on the front lines, and this impact runs far deeper and wider than simply the impact of PTSD'd veterans on their home communities. Warfare, particularly insurgency and counter-insurgency, normalizes and legitimizes violence as a means for resolving political differences.

1 comment:

zachawry said...

In ancient China (and actually not so ancient, come to think of it), the ability of whatever dynasty was in charge to control the Yang Tze river from flooding was key to retaining their symbolic "mandate of heaven to rule." It was thought that whenever the river flooded, that meant the rulers were no longer fit to run the country. Or, if they were no longer fit, then Heaven would cause the river to flood.

Seems like we have seen the same thing in action here.