Charles Krauthammer has an article out today in which he discusses who he finds at fault for the Katrina disaster: (h/t Eclipse Rambling)
…In less enlightened times there was no catastrophe independent of human agency. When the plague or some other natural disaster struck, witches were burned, Jews were massacred and all felt better (except the witches and Jews).
A few centuries later, our progressive thinkers have progressed not an inch. No fall of a sparrow on this planet is not attributed to sin and human perfidy. The three current favorites are: (1) global warming, (2) the war in Iraq and (3) tax cuts. Katrina hits and the unholy trinity is immediately invoked to damn sinner-in-chief George W. Bush.
This kind of stupidity merits no attention whatsoever, but I’ll give it a paragraph. There is no relationship between global warming and the frequency and intensity of Atlantic hurricanes. Period. The problem with the evacuation of New Orleans is not that National Guardsmen in Iraq could not get to New Orleans but that National
Guardsmen in Louisiana did not get to New Orleans. As for the Bush tax cuts, administration budget requests for New Orleans flood control during the five Bush years exceed those of the five preceding Clinton years. The notion that the allegedly missing revenue would have been spent wisely by Congress, targeted
precisely to the levees of New Orleans, and that the reconstruction would have been completed in time, is a threefold fallacy. The argument ends when you realize that, as The Post noted, “the levees that failed were already completed projects.”
Let’s be clear. The author of this calamity was, first and
foremost, Nature (or if you prefer, Nature’s God). The suffering was augmented, aided and abetted in descending order of culpability by the following:
1. The mayor of New Orleans. He knows the city. He knows the danger. He knows that during Hurricane Georges in 1998, the use of the Superdome was a disaster and fully two-thirds of residents never got out of the city. Nothing was done. He declared a mandatory evacuation only 24 hours before Hurricane Katrina hit. He did not even declare a voluntary evacuation until the day before
that, at 5 p.m. At that time, he explained that he needed to study his legal authority to call a mandatory evacuation and was hesitating to do so lest the city be sued by hotels and other businesses.
2. The governor. It’s her job to call up the National Guard and get it to where it has to go. Where the Guard was in the first few days is a mystery. Indeed, she issued an authorization for the National Guard to commandeer school buses to evacuate people on Wednesday afternoon — more than two days after the hurricane hit and after much of the fleet had already drowned in its parking lots.
3. The head of FEMA. Late, slow and in way over his head. On Thursday, Sept. 2, he said on national television that he didn’t even know there were people in the convention center, when anybody watching television could see them there, destitute and desperate. Maybe in his vast bureaucracy he can assign three 20-year-olds to watch cable news and give him updates every hour on what in hell
is going on.
4. The president. Late, slow, and simply out of tune with the urgency and magnitude of the disaster. The second he heard that the levees had been breached in New Orleans, he should have canceled his schedule and addressed the country on national television to mobilize it both emotionally and physically to assist in the disaster. His flyover on the way to Washington was the worst possible symbolism. And his Friday visit was so tone-deaf and
politically disastrous that he had to fly back three days later.
5. Congress. Now as always playing holier-than-thou. Perhaps it might ask itself who created the Department of Homeland Security in the first place. The congressional response to all crises is the same — rearrange the bureaucratic boxes, but be sure to add one extra layer. The past four years of DHS have been spent principally on bureaucratic reorganization (and real estate) instead of, say, a workable plan for as predictable a disaster as a Gulf Coast hurricane.
6. The American people. They have made it impossible for any politician to make any responsible energy policy over the past 30 years — but that is a column for another day. Now is not the time for constructive suggestions. Now is the time for blame, recrimination and sheer astonishment. Mayor Ray Nagin has
announced that, as bodies are still being found and as a public health catastrophe descends upon the city, he is sending 60 percent of his cops on city funds for a little R&R, mostly to Vegas hotels. Asked if it was appropriate to party in these circumstances, he responded: “New Orleans is a party town. Get over it.”
What a Mayor.
Although my list would be re-arranged a bit, I can’t find much fault with his list.
Hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados and the like cannot be controlled by ANYBODY, no matter what the left wants you to believe. It’s just too easy to blame one person for the disaster and say “we get rid of him and all is right in the world”.
The response by the different levels of Government needs to be looked at and fixed but there is just way too much blame to go around. How about those people who refused to leave? Do they share in this blame also?
How about the welfare state of our nation. I would argue that the welfare state is to blame for many of the needless deaths. The fact that it creates people who cannot fend for themselves, cannot think for themselves, and obviously will not survive on their own. Government is not the answer for morality, self reliance, common sense, personal accountability and so on.
100 years ago would people have been screaming for the heads of government or would they have been screaming about the people who could not even help themselves and get the hell out of the way?
Robert Tracinski has a great article about this very fact:
The man-made disaster we are now witnessing in New Orleans did not happen over four days last week. It happened over the past four decades. Hurricane Katrina merely exposed it to public view.
The man-made disaster is the welfare state.
For the past few days, I have found the news from New Orleans to be confusing. People were not behaving as you would expect them to behave in an emergency?indeed, they were not behaving as they have behaved in other emergencies. That is what has shocked so many people: they have been saying that this is not what we expect from America. In fact, it is not even what we expect from a Third World country.
…So what explains the chaos in New Orleans?
To give you an idea of the magnitude of what is going on, here is a description from a Washington Times story:
“Storm victims are raped and beaten; fights erupt with flying fists, knives and guns; fires are breaking out; corpses litter the streets; and police and rescue
helicopters are repeatedly fired on.
“The plea from Mayor C. Ray Nagin came even as National Guardsmen poured in to restore order and stop the looting, carjackings and gunfire….
“Last night, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said 300 Iraq-hardened Arkansas National Guard members were inside New Orleans with shoot-to-kill orders.
” ‘These troops are…under my orders to
restore order in the streets,’ she said. ‘They have M-16s, and they are locked and loaded. These troops know
how to shoot and kill and they are more than willing to do so if necessary and I expect they will.’ “
…What explains bands of thugs using a natural disaster as an excuse for an orgy of looting, armed robbery, and rape? What causes unruly mobs to storm the very buses that have arrived to evacuate them, causing the drivers to speed away, frightened for their lives? What causes people to attack the doctors trying to treat patients at the Superdome?
Why are people responding to natural destruction by causing further destruction? Why are they attacking the people who are trying to help them?
My wife, Sherri, figured it out first, and she figured it out on a sense-of-life level. While watching the coverage one night on Fox News Channel, she told me that she was getting a familiar feeling. She studied architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology, which is located in the South Side of Chicago just blocks away from
the Robert Taylor Homes, one of the largest high-rise public housing projects in America. “The projects,” as they were known, were infamous for uncontrollable crime and irremediable squalor. (They have since, mercifully, been demolished.)
What Sherri was getting from last night’s television coverage was a
whiff of the sense of life of “the projects.” Then the “crawl”?the informational phrases flashed at the bottom of the screen on most news channels?gave some vital statistics to confirm this sense: 75% of the residents of New Orleans had already evacuated before the hurricane, and of those who remained, a large number were from the city’s public housing projects. Jack Wakeland then told me that early reports from CNN and Fox indicated that the city had no plan for evacuating all of the prisoners in the city’s jails?so they just let many of them loose.
…There were many decent, innocent people trapped in New Orleans when the deluge hit?but they were trapped alongside large numbers of people from two groups: criminals?and wards of the welfare state, people selected, over decades, for their lack of initiative and self-induced helplessness. The welfare wards were a mass of sheep?on whom the incompetent administration of New Orleans unleashed a pack of wolves.
All of this is related, incidentally, to the incompetence of the city government, which failed to plan for a total evacuation of the city, despite the knowledge that this might be necessary. In a city
corrupted by the welfare state, the job of city officials is to ensure the flow of handouts to welfare recipients and patronage to political supporters?not to ensure a lawful, orderly evacuation in case of emergency.
…What Hurricane Katrina exposed was the psychological consequences of the welfare state. What we consider “normal” behavior in an emergency is behavior that is normal for people who have values and take the responsibility to pursue and protect them. People with values respond to a disaster by fighting against it
and doing whatever it takes to overcome the difficulties they face. They don’t sit around and complain that the government hasn’t taken care of them. And they don’t use the chaos of a disaster as an opportunity to prey on their fellow men.
But what about criminals and welfare parasites? Do they worry about saving their houses and property? They don’t, because they don’t own anything. Do they worry about what is going to happen to their businesses or how they are going to make a living? They never worried about those things before. Do they worry about crime and looting? But living off of stolen wealth is a way of life
People living in piles of their own trash, while petulantly
complaining that other people aren’t doing enough to take care of them and then shooting at those who come to rescue them?this is not just a description of the chaos at the Superdome. It is a perfect summary of the 40-year history of the welfare state and its public housing projects.
The welfare state?and the brutish, uncivilized mentality it sustains and encourages?is the man-made disaster that explains the moral ugliness that has swamped New Orleans. And that is the story that no one is reporting.
Bush is gonna take some blame by putting Brown into that position when he should never have been there (although Bush has fixed this problem today), But did he not do a good job in the recent Florida hurricane? Did he not get unanimously approved by the Senate? Liebermann especially heaping praise on him.
Then you have the mistakes of the local Government. Why did Mayor Nagin fail to use hundreds of buses in motor pools to evacuate the city’s indigent? Why did he fail to evacuate the hospitals and nursing homes in compliance with policies the he signed? Why did he fail to order the evacuation of the city in the 50 hr’s required by the state’s own disaster plan?
Why did the Governor refuse to allow FEMA field hospitals to be set up in NO? Refuse to allow the Red Cross into the city? Why did she not send in the the Guard until Monday?
While we’re busy assigning blame, why not look at recent history. Say maybe 1995 and the death’s of 1,000 people in Chicago: (via The Galvan Opinion)
Hillary Clinton has called for a “Katrina Commission.” How come she never called for a commission to investigate why at least a 1,000
Americans died in a 1995 heat wave when her husband was president?
The “Chicago heat wave” killed more people than Hurricane Andrew, TWA Flight 800, the Oklahoma City bombing and the Northridge, CA earthquake, combined.
…Curiously, Hillary Clinton did not point out what her husband and administration did to prevent widespread suffering as a result of the massive heat wave that struck the Midwest in 1995 and was particularly devastating to the city of Chicago.
For one terrible week in July 1995, daytime temperatures in Chicago soared above 100 degrees; even at night the mercury barely dipped below that. Public-health officials knew the prolonged heat would be deadly, especially for frail seniors, but they were stunned by the final death toll. Altogether, the heat wave killed more than 700 Chicagoans, more than double the number who died in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. As New York University sociologist Eric Klinenberg writes in Heat Wave, his remarkable book about the tragedy, “The proportional death toll … in Chicago has no equal in the record of U.S. heat disasters.”-The American Prospect Online
Maybe Hillary feels that her husband is above blame because local and state officials are responsible for taking care of people during a widespread natural disaster.
…However, a five day period of an unfolding natural disaster was not enough to merit any federal attention or direct help from President Clinton. Perhaps it is necessary for the federal government to step in the aftermath of a hurricane but not a widespread heat wave?
The [NOAA] report also recommends that emergency response organizations at the federal, state and local levels recognize severe heat waves as potential natural
disasters, and that areas at risk should be prompted to develop emergency response plans for severe heat waves.- NOAA press release
Okay, so there was a call for better federal help in the future when it comes to helping local authorities deal with heat waves. After all, it should very easy for the federal government, “the cavalry”, to come in because there are no physical limitations in entering a stricken city. The city of Chicago was not flooded, buildings were not destroyed, bridges were not taken out, and trees were not blocking roads. How hard was it for Bill Clinton to make sure that FEMA was rushed to Chicago to prevent thousands of poor and urban residents from dying of heat stroke? That’s a question that could have been answered by a “Heat Wave Commission.”It was no secret that Chicago was suffering. Eric Klinenberg wrote the definitive book on the disaster, “Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago.” This is what he had to say in an interview with the University of Chicago Press:
On the first day of the heat wave, Thursday, July 13, the
temperature hit 106 degrees, and the heat index – a combination of heat and humidity that measures the temperature a typical person would feel – rose above 120. For a week, the heat persisted, running between the 90s and low 100s…[...]The heat made the city’s roads buckle. Train rails warped, causing long commuter and freight
delays. City workers watered bridges to prevent them from locking when the plates expanded. Children riding in
school buses became so dehydrated and nauseous that they had to be hosed down by the Fire Department. Hundreds of young people were hospitalized with
heat-related illnesses. But the elderly, and especially the elderly who lived alone, were most vulnerable to the heat wave.
Where was the federal government, Hillary?
But no Heat Wave Commission was called for….why not?
Bottom line is that everybody knew a Cat 5 storm was inbound and no one ordered a mandatory evacuation until Sunday at 2pm.
Hurricane Katrina was processing energy at a rate at least equal to a Hiroshima bomb every one and a half seconds. A one hundred mile an hour wind produces a dynamic pressure of about 825 pounds per square foot.
I look at that and wonder how anyone survived the damn thing. Nature is humbling.
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