Katrina, Chavez, and the Cowboy King of Vacations

Even the most reliable voices of President Bush criticism - John Kerry, Cindy Sheehan, Kim Jong Il, Frank Rich, Hendrik Hertzberg, Delia True - are tiny whispers now that the real threat to the Bush-Cheney ideology machine has emerged in the form of a man named Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela. Paired with a raging bitch of a storm named Katrina, he's basically challenging the Administration to an all-out dis battle, something most left-wing Americans can't seem to pull off effectively on a large scale forum, like, say...the New York Times.

"That government had no evacuation plan, it is incredible, the first power in the world that is so involved in Iraq... and left its own population adrift."

Hmmm? What?

"That man, the king of vacations ... the king of vacations in his ranch said nothing but, you have to flee, and didn't say how ... that cowboy, the cowboy mentality.''

Ouch. Right upside the head. That's gotta hurt. I can't wait to hear Sissy McClellan's carefully worded quick-draw comeback, but until then, I've got something to add, sort of my follow-up bitch-slap to Chavez' knockout punch.

I don't know about you, but this quote sort of rings true for me and sends me back to another time when Bush failed to heed a warning. Remember what happened four years, one red-flag intelligence memo, two towers, four planes and four deadly landings ago? Bush sure does. He evokes this memory every time he justifies the Invasion of Iraq and privacy-infringing Patriot Act. 9-11 is his only card in these days of plummeting public approval stock. Katrina was more preliminarily communicative about her potential havoc than any terrorist or invading country, but people still died. I may not have been in the muck reporting when the storm hit, but I can't help but feel they didn't have to die like that.

President Chavez has surfaced as a powerful voice of opposition from outside of our borders, and we don't necessarily have to agree with him wholeheartly to take what he has to say seriously. Like many of us Americans, he doesn't come off like an enemy of this country and its people (ie. you're either with us or against us), but, rather, an adamant critic of the Administration's ignorant, self-serving policies (most recently displayed in the Energy Bill and CAFTA passage in Congress). I appreciate Chavez challenging Bush's corporate sense of social responsibility and offering aid to our victims when so many other world leaders are either kissing ass or searching for the right lipstick.

The Venezuelan president, applauded by supporters for his self-proclaimed socialist revolution to fight poverty, has offered to send cheap fuel, humanitarian aid and relief workers to the disaster area.

From a PR standpoint, this is a nice cornering gesture, given that the U.S. relies on Venezuelan oil exports, particularly at a time like this, when Katrina's attack has prompted tapping into our precious oil reserves. But still, there's no way of knowing if Chavez is a strong progressive leader mining for anti-American support among the multinational corporation-victimized Third World, or if he's just a corrupt puppet accepting bribes to read a script for some other world superpower ready to conquer the world. Who knows what team he's on, because after all, how can we trust another country's President if we can't trust our own?

All I know for sure about Chavez is that the guy is knocking the Bush Administration loudly and clearly, and our press is translating the message: we could have done more to prepare for this hurricane. Let's just pretend for a second that Katrina was Osama bin Laden, and we knew he was coming right over for another round, this time targeting Louisiana and Mississippi. What would Bush have done? Katrina was terror of a natural variety and, unlike Al Queda, she gave us plenty of warning in advance, as in (if storms could talk, but we give them such nice names like "Katrina," "Andrew" and "Hugo" that they may as well be personified) "you overpopulate a major city on a swamp below sea level off the coast of Hurriance Central, you are just asking for me to swoop down and annihilate it." Katrina is not like Osama but the ruthless, vengeful God of Genesis, and this was the closest our pious, moral America has come to experiencing its own Great Flood.

Given the forewarning, if Bush and his cronies had taken some leadership cues from Noah, and utilizing all of our best resources, we might have been more prepared, and more lives could have been spared. But coulda, shoulda, woulda are all behind us now. You need only watch CNN for two minutes to realize that whiny political rants are insignificant when people are walking around waist-deep in chaos. So I sigh my anger away and bypass continuing yet another pointless, wasted Biblical-tinged critique of our President in favor of telepathically sending well wishes to the survivors down below the cushy comfort of Bush's Air Force One jet observation deck. I hope that through the contributions of fellow U.S. citizens, humanitarian efforts of neighboring nations, and nearby rescue and reconstruction teams, that you will drain yourselves of Katrina and recover from her merciless natural wrath.


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1:25 PM  

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