|The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by Josh Nossiter
|The Morning Mendacity
Thursday, September 8th, 2005
|The Nossiter Net is cast to snare some of the riper rascalities of the day. Comments? email@example.com|
|The President’s anger was such that even Karl Rove’s imperturbability was shaken. The Oval Office hadn’t seen this kind of raw rage since Richard Nixon learned that Henry Kissinger had been faking it when they prayed together.
“Goddam it Karl! My legacy is at stake here, you git me? My whole presidency is under threat. This is important! Now I want straight answers, and I want ‘em quick. None of your goddam spin, git me? Go out and git the experts, real ones, not the stooges we usually hire. I want ‘em lined up here prepared to tell me the facts, and I want ‘em five minutes ago. Now git.”
Rove waddled out hastily, reappearing minutes later with a bespectacled, serious-faced, middle-aged woman, her hair untidy, clad in an ill-fitting pants suit. The President, who favors a crisp, corporate look for those around him, regarded her with disfavor.
“This is Dr. Wiggins, of the U.S. Geological Survey, sir. Her special area of study is coastal regions. She’s a recognized international expert.” Rove wiped his brow.
“International!” the President snorted. “Ok, Wiggie, lay it on me. What the tarnation happened down there in New Orleans?”
“Very briefly sir, the facts are these. The levee system, in place for decades along the Gulf coast, prevents silt from flowing down the Mississippi to the delta wetlands. This, combined with canal building and draining for agriculture and property development, has completely eroded the coastal wetlands. Those wetlands have hitherto acted as a giant sponge, absorbing flood water during big storms. In their absence, the flood water simply washes over the land. In the case of a big enough storm, like Katrina, the levees become overwhelmed by the floodwaters and breach, filling the city with water.”
The President raised his eyebrows. “You saying this was some kind of environmental catastrophe? Trying to tell me honest development is responsible for a disaster? Wrong answer, Wiggie. Get me another expert, Karl, pronto.”
Rove ushered in a uniformed officer. “Colonel Robinson, of the Army Corps of Engineers, sir.”
“Robby, how ya doin’. So ‘splain to me what the heck happened down there in New Orleans, will ya?”
“Sir, yes sir. The Corps is responsible for maintaining the levee system, sir. Our budget has been insufficient to adequately maintain the system for some years now, sir. Deferred maintenance, combined with a catastrophic flood tide caused by Katrina, led to the flooding of New Orleans.”
“Budget cuts? That caused the flood? Wrong answer, soldier. I want another expert Karl, right now.”
A quiet man in a gray suit, Baxter Filby of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, was ushered in. He nodded to Dr. Wiggins and Colonel Robinson as if he knew them, and shook hands with the President.
“Baxy boy, I want answers and I want ‘em toot sweet. What in blazes have y’all been doing down in New Orleans these past few days? Place is an out of control nightmare. Y’all are supposed to be preventin’ stuff like this, isn’t that right? The truth now.”
“Very well, Mr. President” Filby said slowly. “The FEMA budget has been slashed, our authority has been transferred to the Department of Homeland Security, and our chief is a political appointee with no conception of his duties. He was the college roommate of a former campaign director of yours, and that was his only apparent qualification for the job. Sir.”
The President narrowed his slit-like eyes. “What are you sayin’, boys and girl? That cronyism, environmental neglect, and terrible, wrong-headed, short-sighted, fundamentally evil administration policies have created this nightmare on the Gulf coast?”
The three experts nodded their assent. “Wrong answer!” said Mr. Bush.
He pounded his fist on the desk and held the phone out to Rove. “Get me the Reverend Pat Robertson, right away. Rev, that you? So tell me Rev, the city of New Orleans. Pretty sinful place, wadn’t it? Gamblin’, drinkin’, fornicatin’? You don’t say. Noah, huh? Forty days and forty nights? Another Flood, capital F? Thanks Rev, be talkin’ to ya.”
The President surveyed his experts truculently. “Y’all know yer bible? ‘And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.’ Genesis, 7:19. Now, boys and girl, that there’s the right answer.”
©Joshua C. Nossiter, 2005
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