As Kristof points out, Katrina served to underscore the devastating poverty that so many Americans live in, and the failure of the Bush administration to adequately deal with it.
The scenes in New Orleans reminded me of the suffering I saw after a similar storm killed 130,000 people in Bangladesh in 1991 – except that Bangladesh’s government showed more urgency in trying to save its most vulnerable citizens.
The U.S. Census Bureau reported a few days ago that the poverty rate rose again last year, with 1.1 million more Americans living in poverty in 2004 than a year earlier. After declining sharply under Bill Clinton, the number of poor people has now risen 17 percent under Mr. Bush.
Seventeen percent more poor since Bush took office. After things improved under Clinton, and Bush came in to a solid economy. Screwing that up takes a certain amount of skill, doesn’t it?
If it’s shameful that we have bloated corpses on New Orleans streets, it’s even more disgraceful that the infant mortality rate in America’s capital is twice as high as in China’s capital. That’s right – the number of babies who died before their first birthdays amounted to 11.5 per thousand live births in 2002 in Washington, compared with 4.6 in Beijing.
Indeed, according to the United Nations Development Program, an African-American baby in Washington has less chance of surviving its first year than a baby born in urban parts of the state of Kerala in India.
Gotta love that Culture of Life! Because it’s all about the babies:
The national infant mortality rate has risen under Mr. Bush for the first time since 1958. The U.S. ranks 43rd in the world in infant mortality, according to the C.I.A.’s World Factbook; if we could reach the level of Singapore, ranked No. 1, we would save 18,900 children’s lives each year.
In case you needed more evidence that the many on the far right are fetalists and have little interest in human beings after their born, this is it. As long as they can compel women to give birth, they’ve done their job. Who cares if the babies die after they’re born? Besides, poor people are to blame for their own condition.
And as Paul Krugman aptly points out, the Bush administration’s failure in dealing with this disaster is representative of a greater right-wing mentality. As he writes:
But the federal government’s lethal ineptitude wasn’t just a consequence of Mr. Bush’s personal inadequacy; it was a consequence of ideological hostility to the very idea of using government to serve the public good. For 25 years the right has been denigrating the public sector, telling us that government is always the problem, not the solution. Why should we be surprised that when we needed a government solution, it wasn’t forthcoming?
Right on. Yet another reason why I vote Democrat: Because I believe that the government can help people. And right now, they need help.
Dowd also socks it to ’em:
Why does this self-styled “can do” president always lapse into such lame “who could have known?” excuses.
Who on earth could have known that Osama bin Laden wanted to attack us by flying planes into buildings? Any official who bothered to read the trellis of pre-9/11 intelligence briefs.
Who on earth could have known that an American invasion of Iraq would spawn a brutal insurgency, terrorist recruiting boom and possible civil war? Any official who bothered to read the C.I.A.’s prewar reports.
Who on earth could have known that New Orleans’s sinking levees were at risk from a strong hurricane? Anybody who bothered to read the endless warnings over the years about the Big Easy’s uneasy fishbowl.
And as usual, Frank Rich is a must-read.
Finally, check out Anne Rice’s poignant tribute to what she calls a “strange and beautiful city.”
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