Sunday, September 11, 2005

Katrina and the blame game

The finger-pointing has gotten pretty intense. Obviously when something disastrous of this magnitude occurs, no one wants to be the the guy at the helm who oversaw the incompetence. In that sense, Vice Admiral Thad Allen, who has replaced the now defunct Mike Brown, will benefit greatly from being able to slice through red tape secured by the fact that any audacious moves he makes are going to be an improvement over what preceded him.

There are three big names coming out of Katrina's aftermath who share in responsibility to some extent: President Bush, Louisiana Governor Blanco, and NO Mayor Nagin. Before divvying up blame, keep in mind that demographically New Orleans is a disaster. Ravaged by decades of decadence, the city's "Let the good times roll" mantra applied to a population of mostly black and largely impoverished citizens is a tragedy waiting to happen. The city's police force was gutted by a race-spoiling "residency requirement" that mandated officers live within the city's boundaries, not in the surrounding suburbs (this requirement also applied to firefighters and certain city officials). To fill the ranks, the police force had to resort to lower standards, taking in recruits who had previous DUIs, criminal records, and other misconduct. Not surprisingly, some 500 of the city's 1,600 police officers didn't show up for duty as the storm approached. During the looting, many NOPD members joined in (unbelievable photo)! Can you imagine the NYPD doing the same following 9/11? Thankfully, the Big Apple's standards do not suffer from such politically correct madness. On top of all of this, the most affluent, intelligent of the city's inhabitants left before the storm arrived leaving drug-addicted troglodytes and gangbangers to roam the flooded streets after the hurricane had passed.

Mayor Nagin was the first line of defense. It is his city, after all. The Louisiana Evacuation Plan specified that the mayor was to remove those who did not have personal access to transit from the city. Instead, the buses that were to do the moving became inundated during the deluge as they sat idle. Afterwords, he excoriated the federal government for a lack of buses that he desperately needed. Nagin, finally feeling pressure after a week of sympathetic, blame-Bush interviews, pushed the responsibility onto someone else, although he did not specify who. On Meet the Press this morning (transcript should be up shortly), Tim Russet tracked down Nagin's comments from months ago about the shortcomings in the city's evacuations plans and subsequently questioned the mayor on why no progress had been made. Nagin spun off platitudes about how it was an unprecedented disaster and that everyone made mistakes on account of their humanity (a fair enough answer, except that the day before he had no sympathy for others as he joined in the chorus of extortionists accusing the federal government of hating black people).

Governor Blanco appears to be the weakest link. FEMA and Northcom are not to takeover relief operations in an area until after state and local resources have been exhausted--in other words, until the governor of the state gives the okay. However, Blanco waited over twenty-four hours after Bush was ready to give FEMA control to issue that needed "okay", as Nagin attested to. Keep in mind, the governors of Mississippi and Alabama both called in the federal government for disaster relief long before Blanco did. In addition, Blanco withheld amenities provided by the Red Cross from those in the Superdome for fear of attracting too many people to the facility. As those shrill cries of "where's the food?" and "where's the water?" rang out, the Red Cross was literally standing by in New Orleans with the items but was unable to deliver them. Over a week after the hurricane hit, Blanco criticized Nagin's ordering of a complete evacuation of the city, stating that "The mayor certainly has ordered that, but the governor, and that would be me, will have to enforce it or implement it." The power-hungry termagent has now retired to wringing her hands over the tragedy, ducking questions about why she waited so long to activate the state's National Guard units.

Bush has taken a hit in the realm of public opinion as the lethargic federal relief efforts have pushed his approval rating below 40 percent. The photo of Bush flying over New Orleans in Air Force One rather than being in the thick of the fray, barking out commands with his sleeves rolled up, does not bestow confidence or show urgency. The incompetence of the state and local officials in Louisiana shows that Bush should have verbally and ostensibly pressed hard to take over, although such a move would have invariably lead to criticism of the macho cowboy pushing aside a southern dame and a minority mayor. When FEMA finally did become mobilized, the stories of equipment laying around while bureaucrats gave speeches surely cost lives.

The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 prohibits the federal government from dispatching military units to a state without the express consent of that state and the Congress. Because of the bright, shining lie that populations do not fundamentally differ from one another on a genetic as well as cultural level, many people did not foresee the anarchy that insued after the storm on the streets of New Orleans. Consequently, military combat units were not on hand to restore order. The depleted New Orleans police force (those that had the balls to stick around) bravely engaged the looters and suffered casualties in the process, but it wasn't enough to restore order. Relatively affluent, mainly white cities like Chalmette weathered the storm without looting, murder, rape, and other crimes even though they were hit harder than New Orleans itself. In the Big Easy, however, National Guard soldiers attempting to restore civility compared the environment to Baghdad. Said one,

"It's just so much like Iraq, it's not funny," said Atkinson, of Woodlawn, Ark., "except for all the water, and they speak English."

Said another:

"It's like Baghdad on a bad day," said Spec. Brian McKay, 19, of Mount Ida, Ark.

Said yet another:

"We're having some pretty intense gun battles breaking out around the city," said Capt. Jeff Winn of the New Orleans police SWAT team. "Armed gangs of from eight to 15 young men are riding around in pickup trucks, looting and raping," he said.

With this chaos has come virulent racism directed against whites, as I pointed out in a previous post.

Recapitulating, the government at all levels failed to protect the people. Commit it to memory: The government, Republican or Democrat, Federal or Local, cannot solve your problems. It cannot protect you, and it will not take care of you. Self-reliance is the key to survival. A lesson to take from Katrina includes moving settlements out of the way of natural disasters, not having more people retire to the Florida coastline. There is no reason to rebuild New Orleans, which is sinking, so it can be hammered again a decade from now. Another is to realize that people, and by extension groups of people, are not all alike. The reaction to a disaster like 9/11 where those involved were competent relief workers and well-educated, intelligent business people in the towers sits in stark contrast to the way less intelligent (and by extension chronically poor and drug-addicted, etc) urbanites react in a similar situation. We need policy that addresses these things directly, rather than pretending they don't exist, or tenaciously proclaiming that people have the right to build in stupid locations and then having the federal government (that's you and me) reimburse them for their idiocy.

(Previous post)

**Addition** Speaking on FoxNews Sunday, Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu (D) had this exchange with host Chris Wallace:

WALLACE: Senator Landrieu, I want to ask you — and I'll ask you both, but let me start with you — about the local response.

Was it incompetent and insulting for Mayor Ray Nagin to order a mandatory evacuation, but then to leave buses — and we have a picture of them — hundreds of buses idle, so that they could be flooded, instead of using them to get people out.

LANDRIEU: Well, Chris, I was there, as you know, through the whole ordeal with state and local officials, and was right there with Louisiana Democrats and Republicans, city council members, police chiefs, mayors, the governors, and could watch what Haley Barbour was doing and Governor Riley in Alabama. I am not going to level criticism at the local level. These people

WALLACE: But I'd like you to answer, if you could, this one specific question.

LANDRIEU: Well, I will. I will answer it. I am not going to level criticism at local and state officials. Mayor Nagin and most mayors in this country have a hard time getting their people to work on a sunny day, let alone getting them out of the city in front of a hurricane. And it's because this administration and administrations before them do not understand the
difficulties that mayors — whether they are in Orlando, Miami, or New Orleans —

LANDRIEU: In other words, this administration did not believe in mass transit. They won't even get people to work on a sunny day, let alone getting them out...

Don't expect a firestorm over what is obviously being insinuated here because Landrieu is a Democrat. The so-called MSM will not crucify her for violating the bright shining lie that all differences in outcomes are indictments of societal unfairness rather than being biologically based--she has been too vociferous a critic of Bush's handling of Katrina to be thrown overboard. But the politicians are not as oblivious as their politically correct rhetoric would lead us to believe--she's aware of the dearth of human capital in mostly black urban areas.

There were plenty of decent, honest blacks who were victimized during the post-hurricane melee. Pretending that this is solely an issue of government incompetence rather than looking at the real reason for the problems--the populations of people themselves--is endemic in the US. If we just give them more stuff and treat them nicer, everyone will be a model citizen with the ability to be an astronaut or engineer. This isn't Lake Woebegon. People are dying and the country's coffers are being run dry on account of this nonsense.

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