I'm pretty sure that this will be the last I have to say about the horrific response of the powers that be to the disaster in New Orleans. I've taken some time to digest all of the news from the area over the last few days, and my level of anger over the response has reached critical mass. It will do no good to continue to be bitter. It will take a while for the true reaction of the public to be heard about this, all the way to November of 2006.
I must say that I am absolutely amazed at the level that some of the blowhards are going to in order to deflect blame from the federal government. Fox News has all but declared a jihad on democratic Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco. I wouldn't be surprised to pick up the paper tomorrow and see that Bill O'Reilly took it upon himself to go down to Baton Rouge and arrest Blanco.
And you don't even need to sign off of AOL to sip some of the Bush Kool-Aid. Check out this line:
"those who are strategically skipping the obvious blameline for a perceived partisan gain are no better than the looters who are/were "saving themselves" with carts-full of high-end electronics, clothing, etc."
Nothing like a little perspective...there's more of that stuff here. Hey, making fun of Sean Penn! And throwing in some French every so often! Classic!
I'm going to have a little fun here and assign specific blame, in parts, for the responsorial clusterfudge to New Orleans:
15%-The city of New Orleans, led by Mayor Ray Nagin (D)...granted, I don't have a lengthy knowledge of the challenges that the city faced BK (before Katrina), but since everybody with a Doomsday gene seemed convinced that New Orleans was one day going to be swimming in itself, one would think the city would have a comprehensive plan on how to deal with it. The most damaging picture I have seen in all of this is the one of the 200+ buses sitting in a flooded parking lot, buses that could have been used to get more people out of the city ahead of the storm. Nagin also seems to have lost a few brain cells since the flood, but I suppose that might be understandable given that his city has been destroyed. His funding is limited, and the protection of the levees was up to the state and federal governments, so that is why they don't get a bigger share of the blame. Nagin's chance of re-election? I'd say 50-50. I don't think a Republican can be the mayor of N.O., but he might face a challenge from a fellow Democrat. See the Chicago mayoral primary of 1979.
35%-The state of Louisiana, led by Governor Katherine Blanco...she seemed woefully indecisive and unsure of what exactly she was supposed to do. Again, given the circumstances, the state should have been ready for the big one to hit New Orleans. She didn't seem ready to deploy the National Guard, though I do not know how much of Louisiana's guard is deployable. Her chance of re-election? Absolutely none. In fact, I would not be surprised if she didn't run again. If she does, she going to be absolutely torched. I don't believe Louisiana uses the primary system, so she won't even advance to a run-off. I don't even know when she is up for re-election, but if you love nasty, mud slinging campaigns, don't miss the next gubernatorial race in Louisiana.
And for the record, I don't think she deserves to be re-elected.
50%-The federal government, led by the high and mighty George W. Bush. For all who believe that the state is ultimately responsible for handling disasters, let me introduce you to The 2004 National Response Plan, organized by the Department of Homeland Security and eagerly supported by Bush. The plan explicitly states:
"(at times of) any natural or manmade incident, including terrorism, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the population, infrastructure, environment, economy, national morale, and/or government functions, the federal government pre-empts local and state government in its responsibility to act quickly."
That, in my humble opinion, is the so called "Smoking Gun" that proves to me that the federal government blew it. The plan, a by product of the entire pledge of how the Federal Government vowed to make us "safer" in the aftermath of 9/11, took away the rights of the state in times of great disaster, whether terror related or as a result of Mother Nature.
You can spin it anyway you want, but the point is that the government took over the role of savior for every state and city in the nation by enacting this plan in 2004. It doesn't matter what anyone's handbook says, this is the precedent that was supposed to be followed.
Notice I am not including anything about budgets for reinforcing levees for the city. If you want the blame the current administration for that, you must blame every presidential administration dating back to Lyndon Johnson.
That Bush continues to tell his FEMA director that he is doing a "great job", that he says that he will lead an inquiry in to how things went wrong, just fully shows how this man does not get it. He is incompetent, and has created and formed an administration of incompetence.
Yet, there will probably be medals awarded by the president to the people in charge of this response. He's done it before, awarding medals to the people in charge of intelligence who provided the incorrect information about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction.
Let me go off here: this Sunday will mark four years since September 11, 2001. When you read and hear the tributes and memories of that awful day this year, remember something else, how your government has spent every day since then telling us that they have done everything they can to make us safer.
And then look at the current state of New Orleans and tell me how that could possibly be true. How can we possibly be convinced that we are "safer" from any terrorist attack, any national disaster, when New Orleans is changed forever.
You blame the storm, of course. But the sheer inability to perform and account for the horrible response to the flooding of New Orleans was a watershed moment for us. It used to be impossible to think that such a thing could happen in modern America, but not anymore.
There is plenty of blame to go around for what New Orleans has now become. Blame belongs to both democratic and republican elected officials. But don't kid yourselves, if the response had been completely different, had been competent, the GOP would be preparing slide shows to show every night of the Republican National Convention in 2008. Which, remember, will be in New Orleans. You can book that now.
Unless the people ofNew Orleans stand up and say "no way!"
I may just join them.