Warning -- more finger pointing ahead!

Judging by Bush's late-blooming contrition about his bungled response to the Katrina disaster, it appears that the public hasn't swallowed the bait on his administration's attempts to pin the blame on local and state officials.

But that certainly won't stop Republican mouthpieces from trying to pin the blame on anyone but the White House.

Witness the latest attempts, building over the past week, to point the finger at the Sierra Club and other environmentalists.

It seems to have started last Thursday, with an op-ed by John Berlau in the conservative National Review Online. Berlau wrote:

The Army Corps was planning to upgrade 303 miles of levees along the river in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas. This was needed, a Corps spokesman told the Baton Rouge, La., newspaper The Advocate, because "a failure could wreak catastrophic consequences on Louisiana and Mississippi which the states would be decades in overcoming, if they overcame them at all."
But a suit filed by environmental groups at the U.S. District Court in New Orleans claimed the Corps had not looked at "the impact on bottomland hardwood wetlands." The lawsuit stated, "Bottomland hardwood forests must be protected and restored if the Louisiana black bear is to survive as a species, and if we are to ensure continued support for source population of all birds breeding in the lower Mississippi River valley."
Other groups soon piled, on, notably the wingnut webmag FrontPageMagazine and blogs for the Freepers and the libertarian magazine Reason.

Now that the talking points have been sufficiently disseminated, the AP reports that the Feds have picked up the ball and are trying to find evidence of any past efforts by environmental groups to block work on New Orleans' levees.
The [Jackson, Miss.] Clarion-Ledger said Friday it obtained an internal Justice Department e-mail sent out this week to U.S. attorneys that asks: "Has your district defended any cases on behalf of the (U.S.) Army Corps of Engineers against claims brought by environmental groups seeking to block or otherwise impede the Corps work on the levees protecting New Orleans? If so, please describe the case and the outcome of the litigation."
This is another example of how erratic the right-wingers' beliefs on government can be. Here we have the hardest of the hard-right defending, even encouraging, a massive government project to fortify levees, when all the "radical environmentalists" wanted was to let nature be. And although they succeeded in keeping this particular levee from expanding, if in the intervening 40 years successive administrations (most notably Bush the Younger) hadn't succeeded in demolishing the Gulf Coast's wetlands (aka "nature's speed bumps"), then the damage would have been dramatically reduced.

It just goes to show that in the blame game, as in all other arenas, Republicans will put politics above protecting the people.

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