Wednesday, August 31

Blame It on Gays, Republicans

Repent America, a viciously bigoted bunch of fundies just this side of the right Reverend Phelps, appears to be the first hate group to blame the New Orleans levee breaches on homos. (According to an item Ben found at Good As You.) Michael Marcavage, the group's leader, is careful not to give us a Falwell soundbite, though. His press release instead cites an "act of God" that "destroyed a wicked city."

But surely it's no coincidence, Marcavage implies, that the devastation comes just days before Southern Decadence, the gay party described as an "annual celebration of sin." And lest straights think they are off the hook, the good preacher also blames "Mardi Gras parties where thousands of drunken men revel in the streets to exchange plastic jewelry for drunken women to expose their breasts."

"Let us pray for those ravaged by this disaster. However, we must not forget that the citizens of New Orleans tolerated and welcomed the wickedness in their city for so long," Marcavage said. "May this act of God cause us all to think about what we tolerate in our city limits, and bring us trembling before the throne of Almighty God," Marcavage concluded.

I have an altogether different observation, however. The fact that New Orleans was vulnerable to this kind of disaster has been well known for years. Scientists have raised warnings and the local paper has published extensive, award-winning explainers. In fact, Congress did take some action to shore up the levees. However, in recent years, the Bush Administration hasn't produced the money to fund protection projects. Any guesses why?

"At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars."

That's according to today's Editor & Publisher, who says reports also blamed homeland security priorities and tax cuts. I guess George Bush has found his weapon of mass destruction somewhat closer to home.

(Photo credits: Reuters/Mannie Garcia, AP/Susan Walsh)

Update: Knight-Ridder has an article out Thursday on the lack of preparations for natural -- as opposed to terrorist -- disasters, including this factoid: Last year, the Army Corps of Engineers, facing budget cuts, stopped major work on the levee system for the first time in 37 years. Even the WSJ noted that Bush fired his own Corps chief in 2002 after he sided with congressional supporters of greater flood control funding. With other angles yet to be explored -- like the weakened state of the National Guard and estimated rebuilding costs comparable to those in Iraq -- this story is going to have legs, trust me.