Operation Enduring Idiocy 

Failures of leadership swamp New Orleans, Iraq

The growing disaster in New Orleans has finally exposed the overwhelming inadequacies of President George Bush and his administration of special interest appointees. No amount of spin from Karen Hughes, no amount of squeezing ghoulish political gain from 9/11, no amount of stupid jokes and looney smiles are likely to reverse the downward trending job approval ratings of this corrupt, inept president. Instead, sorry to say, we are in for another three years of the Bush presidency, which might well—and accurately—be dubbed Operation Enduring Idiocy.

The series of events leading up to the devastation of New Orleans reads like a damning chronology of Bush administration corruption. First, Congress and the American people are fed a load of bull by Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, and Powell about why we needed so desperately to invade Iraq against the wishes of most of the rest of the world. So off we go, dropping bombs, killing innocents and not-so-innocents, and almost totally destroying the basic infrastructure of another nation.

No water, no electricity, no transportation, no medical care, no societal structure—lawlessness and the rule of violence over law. We, not nature, created almost exactly the same conditions in Iraq that are now being viewed with alarm and disbelief in New Orleans. And we did it with blast after blast of America’s mighty and merciless military fist.

Congress, perhaps the most corrupt in history, fell in line to destroy the budget surplus handed to them by the Clinton administration and threw the country deep into debt again for the sole purpose of funding the military-industrial complex to wage war. The cost? More than a billion dollars a day.

Having drained the treasury to destroy Iraq, our brilliant leader then decided we had to rebuild it. After all, having found no weapons of mass destruction, some other handy excuse for invading a sovereign nation had to be cobbled together, and “democratizing the Middle East” became the latest in what has become a long line of bogus reasons for the senseless war. And, of course, Congress had to fund that, too, since it was deemed our “you broke it, you buy it” responsibility.

But with all the costly death and destruction of the Iraq War, where could they find the money to secure America?

The Bush administration, loathe to even think about rolling back their outrageous tax breaks for the rich and even bigger tax breaks and subsidies for the energy corporations, turned to ripping off money from other sources. One of those sources, it has now been revealed, was money originally budgeted to rebuild and strengthen the levees that failed in New Orleans, flooding the city with a sea of toxic pollutants and animal wastes from Lake Pontchartrain. Just this week, Bush again lied to the American people by telling them “no one expected the levees to break”—totally ignoring a 2004 report issued by the Army Corps of Engineers that revealed the levees were “sinking.”

Meanwhile, Operation Enduring Idiocy brushed off universal warnings from the international scientific community that global warming was both raising sea levels and creating larger, more violent storms. Oil men Bush and Cheney laughed as they dismissed the scientific evidence as “theory,” dumped the Kyoto Protocol to control global warming emissions, blew off higher mileage standards for vehicles and upped the allowable pollution from coal-burning power plants, the most significant single source of the chemicals that cause global warming.

Perhaps someone in the Bush administration may have caught wind of what happened in Seattle recently. City officials had to redesign a massive sea wall project because the original design didn’t sufficiently take into account data from the University of Washington’s Climate Impact Group—which predicts sea levels may rise nearly three feet in the next 75 years. Considering that New Orleans is already below sea level, it’s tough to see the wisdom of sending the money, the men and the machinery that could have rebuilt the levees off to Iraq.

But the chronology doesn’t end there. As you read this, the Army Corps of Engineers is busily pumping the floodwaters out of the toxic sump formerly known as New Orleans. Those waters, estimated to be in the billions of gallons, are polluted with a toxic stew of chemicals and contaminants so deadly that rescuers are telling people they will die if they don’t get treated for exposure to the flood water.

And where are they pumping those billions of gallons of toxic water? Right into the Mississippi River, of course, which will then dump it directly into the ocean. Harold Zeliger, a Florida chemical toxicologist and water quality consultant told Reuters reporters: “It’s going to kill off everything in those waters.” So much for what was once one of the most fertile and productive fishing and shrimping areas in the world. But the story of Operation Enduring Idiocy doesn’t end there.

When the Great Falls Tribune asked readers if New Orleans should be rebuilt, two out of three responded “No.” But what would Montanans know about the wisdom of spending untold billions to bulldoze and rebuild a city that’s already below sea level in an era of rising oceans? On Monday, Bush told reporters how sorry he was that one of Trent Lott’s southern mansions had been destroyed and promised that it would be rebuilt—and that he looked forward to sitting on the porch with Lott in the near future.

Is this Trent Lott, who has elicited such “compassionate conservatism” from the president, some poor black man who just lost his home and family in the flood? No, Lott is just another rich and powerful white man who happens to be the former Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate and who’s been investigated for ethics violations and termed “offensive and morally reprehensible” by the Congressional Black Caucus—a perfect porch buddy for the fearless leader of Operation Enduring Idiocy.

When not lobbying the Montana Legislature, George Ochenski is rattling the cage of the political establishment as a political analyst for the Independent. Contact Ochenski at opinion@missoulanews.com.

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