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Finally, the outrage!
Scripps Howard News Service


September 06, 2005

For years, we've been asking, "Where's the outrage?" Last week, it arrived with hurricane force. Outrage over the federal government's failed response to Katrina. Outrage over the President's initial indifference and belated concern for the plight of low income Americans stranded by Katrina's destruction and New Orleans' broken levees.

Outrage over renewed signs of race discrimination in federal policies.

Outrage over looting. Outrage over gas prices and price gouging.

Our question is: What took so long? It's hardly news the president's invasion of Iraq depleted the National Guard to skeletal status here at home. Ever since he pushed through his pet military project two years ago, we've watched armed forces recruitment levels dwindle to the point where guard troops are as scarce as clean water in the French Quarter.

It's been widely reported Louisiana's heavy industry is degrading Nature's way of protecting us from storm surge. Louisiana's wetlands and barrier islands are largely gone. Think I'm kidding? The following paragraph was posted on the Internet by the U.S. Geological Survey in 1999: "About 1,000 to 1,500 (miles of) Louisiana's coastal wetlands have been converted to open water during the past half century. The processes and activities that have contributed to this conversion include long-term erosion and land subsidence (sinking of the land) caused, in part, by compaction of Mississippi River Delta sediments and by large storms that strike the area about every 5 years, rising sea levels, changes in human population, energy development, flood control, and maintenance of navigation channels. As wetlands, estuaries, and barrier islands vanish, the State loses important natural buffers protecting New Orleans and other populated coastal areas from storms and flooding."

It's not new gas and crude oil prices that are skyrocketing. They've been on a steady climb skyward since shortly after the president took office. Need we be reminded that in late 2001, crude oil prices hovered around $16 per barrel? Last week they rose to $70 per barrel. We all relaxed a bit when, during the holiday weekend, they dipped back into the high $60s. Why did it take a hurricane to expose the outrage? Why didn't the outrage spill over four months ago, when the president paraded in front of reporters holding hands with the Saudi crown prince?

Bizarre photo-ops aside, if President Bush knew the chap well enough to hold hands with him, why didn't he pick up the phone and start screaming at him when oil hit, say, $40 per barrel? Oil experts say it costs the Saudis well under $10 per barrel - some say as low as $4 per barrel - to produce crude. Isn't 400 percent profit enough? Sounds outrageous to us.

Perhaps the problem is we political moderates are suffering from outrage-fatigue. We're outraged that under the Bush administration fact has become completely interchangeable with myth. The economy is strong. The war is just. We speak it and it is true. We're outraged at the cost of the war in Iraq in human lives and in dollars: almost 2,000 American war dead, more than 10,000 seriously injured and $200 billion tax dollars thus far. We're outraged there's no plan for an orderly withdrawal and we're outraged at the lack of explanation for why keeping our troops there will make any difference.

We're outraged at being lied to - yes, lied to - about nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. We're outraged at profiteering by Halliburton and the administration's non-response. More than two months ago, Democratic senators released internal Pentagon audits flagging some $1.4 billion in expenses submitted by Halliburton Co. for services the firm is providing in Iraq, including "$45 cases of soda, $100-per-bag laundry service, and several months preparing at least 10,000 daily meals for a U.S.military base that the troops did not need and ultimately went to waste," according to the Boston Globe.

When is our government going to reorder priorities so Americans are cared for first and wars that cannot be won are not launched? How long before "yes" really means "yes" and "no" means "no." Americans are finally starting to recognize the outrageous wrongs wrought by this administration.


Bonnie Erbe is a TV host and writes this column for Scripps Howard News Service.
E-mail bonnieerbe(at)

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