September 07, 2005
Crime against humanity
Let us consider the actions of Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco... the "Babineaux" makes it sound French, see.
At approximately 3:30PM Eastern time, Fox News's Major Garrett broke a blockbuster: the Red Cross had truckloads of supplies ready to go to the Superdome and the Convention Center... but Governor Blanco's Homeland Security troops ordered them not to. Why? Because if the Superdome or the Convention Center became comfortable places in the aftermath, more people would come to them, and fewer would leave. (Political Teen has the video.)
Have we got that? Governor Blanco deliberately wanted to make the Superdome and the Convention Center uninhabitable, specifically through denial of food and clean water. I'm pretty sure that's considered a war crime in some jurisdictions. I'm dead solid certain that if we tried this tactic on armed insurgents in Iraq, the whole world would be outraged, and would demand that tribunals be convened. But Blanco not only did it to American citizens, she did it to some of the poorest, oldest, sickest, and/or blackest American citizens we have.
And while she did all that, she had the unbelievable gall to claim that the federal government was not acting in the best interests of New Orleanians.
In my tinfoily moments, I wonder: what if she did it on purpose? What if she calculated -- correctly, as it turns out -- that the Left and the media... excuse me, I am redundant. What if she calculated that the Left would vent all its fury against President Bush if the poorest, oldest, sickest, and blackest suffered starvation, dehydration, and civic violence? What if the sharp disapproval of President Bush we're seeing now, right on top of a Supreme Court nomination, is the result of a coldly calculated decision that it would be worth mass misery and a handful of deaths?
Nah, I doubt it. Blanco's not smart enough to pull off a plan like that. The Democrats could never come up with something like this... after all, they don't have the sinister mastermind Karl Rove playing for their team. (Cue lightning, thunder, and scary music.)
But there's only one alternative: Blanco isn't a ruthless schemer, she's a blithering incompetent who should never be trusted with the responsibility of raising a puppy, let along running a state government. For crying out loud, she let people starve and dehydrate out of sheer inertia. In this country, we only do that to people with severe brain injuries.
Unless she's a drooling moron, she had to know that the Superdome and the Convention Center were disproportionately occupied by members of the poor, urban underclass, who in turn are disproportionately prone to violent crime. (And no, that's not shorthand for "black". Read Bill Whittle's unbelievably good Tribes to see my exact views on that subject.) She had to know that there were certainly a large number of violent criminals in both crowds. Furthermore, she had to know that the Superdome and the Convention Center were also disproportionately occupied by the elderly, the sick, the disabled -- in a nutshell, the helpless. Also not coincidentally the favored prey of the violent criminal. Also the most likely to succumb to extreme environmental conditions.
And what did Blanco do? She denied them food, water, and medicine. Dear God, she should spend the rest of her life behind bars for this atrocity.
Oh, and for those of you who are scoffing, "Sheesh, Fox News, what do they know?", the Red Cross has confirmed it:
- Acess [sic] to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders.
- The state Homeland Security Department had requested--and continues to request--that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.
There it is right there in black and white: Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city. Read as: Our presence would [have] made conditions tolerable. I mean, c'mon, kept people from evacuating? Did they seriously think that anybody would have been eager to stick around in the sweltering Superdome any longer than necessary? Encourage others to come into the city? Are we supposed to believe that people who were not currently in the Superdome would opt to come there? And if somebody's living condition was so horrendous that the Superdome looked good, should we have discouraged him from coming? And does anybody's recalcictrance to evacuate even matter in the face of the New Orleans Police Department... wait, scratch that. Does anybody's recalcitrance to evacuate even matter in the face of the National Guard and what is supposed to be a mandatory evacuation? I mean, Jesus Christ, people are debating when the mandatory evacuation should have been issued, if it should have been issued earlier, and if so how exactly it was President Bush's fault... and the governor is telling us that there still isn't a mandatory evacuation on? Did she really say that it's her decision to make and her troops who would enforce it? Then make the decision, lady! S--t or get off the pot!
I'm really curious to know exactly what form the state government's "request" to the Red Cross took.
The Democrats were so eager to politicize this bloody tragedy that they couldn't wait to start pointing fingers until the bodies were all dead, much less cold. So fine, let's point the finger. Let's point it squarely where it belongs. Let's point it to the leader of the police force that suffered from mass desertion, some of whose members turned to looting, and which is now enjoying taxpayer-paid Vegas vacations while their city lies in rubble and their citizens huddle miserably in makeshift shelters in other states. Let's point it to the mayor who failed to follow his own evacuation plan, who let hundreds of potentially life-saving buses become pretty islands in satellite pictures, to whom "mandatory evacuation" apparently means "pretty please" and not "leave now or be arrested."
And most especially, let's point it at Governor Blanco, who is continuing to harm New Orleans even as we speak. By the way, what a delightfully appropriate name she has! It means "white", which she is, but it also shares the Middle French blanc as an ancestor with the English word blank. Blank is her mind when it should be on the suffering of those she is sworn to protect. Blank is her face at her press conferences where she boldly exerts her authority to do... nothing. Blank are the pages of the disaster plan she and Mayor Nagin follow, although not of the disaster plan they were supposed to follow. But I digress.
Governor Blanco does have the authority to issue a mandatory evacuation, and to call up the National Guard to enforce it, but she did not. Therefore, more people remained in the city than would have in the face of a mandatory evacuation. Therefore, more people died. And therefore, New Orleans is that much more rat- and disease- infested. (This, by the way, is why there exist mandatory evacuations. It's not for your own good; the government should never compel you to do anything for your own good. It's that if you insist on staying and dying in the flood-ridden city without clean water, food, electricity, or health care you'll stink up the place for everybody else.) If the Louisiana National Guard wouldn't be enough, considering that a small percentage of them is in Iraq, the federal government does have the authority to use military force to enforce domestic order, but only if called to do so by the state Legislature or the state Executive... that last being you, Governor Blanco. You'd know this if you paid attention in Civics class when the Constitution was taught. You literally cried while you complained the Federal government (especially, of course, its high executives) weren't doing enough for you, and you still haven't given the federal government law-enforcement authority.
Yes, by all means, let's point the finger. Chief Compass, j'accuse! Mayor Nagin, j'accuse! Governor Blanco, j'accuse très beaucoup! But while we're at it, let's not point the finger at the heroes of the federal government. Yes, I said, heroes! The below pictures are courtesy of Wolfstar at Free Republic, who put together a beautiful photo essay from Yahoo! News.
According to Reuters, this is Petty Officer 1st Class Steven Huerta of the United States Coast Guard. The Coast Guard is, of course, a federal agency. Petty Officer Huerta is pulling two children to safety in his helicopter. This was August 29... Monday. Katrina struck early Monday morning, and here it is that same day and brave men in the federal armed forces are saving kids. Probably around the time that organizations like the New York Times and, of course, the reliably wrong Daily Kos, were publishing articles with headlines like, "New Orleans Spared".
This is President Bush, pledging federal assistance. It's still August 29.
That was Monday. It came to an end without city or state officials making any attempt to evacuate people from city shelters. This is what they woke up to on Tuesday:
That is what was coming for the residents of New Orleans, who were trapped in the Superdome and the Convention Center (although nobody would even find out that the city was using the Convention Center as a shelter until much later) and by this time, getting a bit hungry and thirsty and hot. And Red Cross trucks loaded with lifesaving supplies were stopped by state law enforcement officials.
This is Petty Officer (2nd) Scott D. Rady, again of the Coast Guard. This particular hero is saving a pregnant woman from her flooded home.
It's Tuesday, August 30. The sun has risen once since Katrina blotted out the sky.
That same day, here are New Orleans cops.
While the feds are plucking desperate survivors from the water, while the Red Cross stands ready to feed, clothe, water, and heal the multitudes if only they could get permission, New Orleans's finest are strutting around with assault weapons, looking quite badass and more than a little Aryan, and completely failing to preserve civic order.
And here we have some more federals rescuing people. Still K+1 day.
Wednesday, two days after the hurricane. Here we have a landing craft deploying from the USS Bataan, loaded with sandbags, life jackets, a Hummer, a small boat, and supplies.
The Bataan is an amphibious assault ship of the LHD-1 Wasp class; she looks like this:
Looks like an aircraft carrier, doesn't she? Well, she does, but she's a bit smaller. She generally carries 18 helicopters and 6 Harrier fighters, two or three landing craft, a few missile launchers and machine guns, and about 1,800 United States Marines. Small she may be, but she's about as lethal as any aircraft carrier in the world not owned by the U.S. Navy. That there is $731,000,000 of United States Navy hardware. She was ordered into the Gulf of Mexico before the storm struck, so she'd be positioned to give aid afterward. And that's just what she's done. I mean, check this out:
That's a MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter, one of four flying off the Bataan, to say nothing of the five Sea Hawks.
And remember, these are the people that the Democrats are criticizing. These are the ones they are blaming. These are the ones they are saying did not get there fast enough, did not do enough. These are the people they are saying screwed up... not the Mayor and the Governor who fiddled while New Orleans drowned, but the federal agencies that were desperately (and largely successfully) trying to save lives.
Chief, Mayor, Governor, may you all be damned for your negligent manslaughter, and may you be thrice-damned for your craven attempt to pin the blame for your own deadly failures on the heroes who are risking their lives to save your people.
UPDATE: I turned on CNN just long enough to see Larry King fellating Chief Compass, telling him what a great job he's doing. It turns my stomach.
Other blogs covering the severely underreported story: PunditGuy, Lorie at Polipundit, John Hawkins at Right Wing News, Gateway Pundit, The Right Place, Flopping Aces, and the indispensable Captain's Quarters. NOT ENOUGH. Folks, this is a horrific crime, and it needs to get out there.
UPDATE 2: A few more pings to my blogthren who are following the story. Solidarity, brothers: OpiniPundit, Blue State Conservative, Ramblings' Journal, UNCoRRELATED, North American Patriot, Moonbat Central, and Weapons of Mass Discussion.
UPDATE 3: Welcome visitors from The Right Place! Enjoy your stay. More on the victims of Katrina and the criminal depraved indifference to them shown by their elected officals in more recent posts.
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Did it similarly turn your stomach when Bush praised 'Brownie' of doing a fine job in the midst of the worst wave of death and destruction? With all your outrage it's interesting that the notion of our federal emergency response agency being filled with unqualified patronage appointments doesn't seem to bother you in the least.
Could the local government have done a better job? Yes. However at some point the scale of the disaster mandates federal involvement. When those feds are appointed because of cronyism instead of competance the response is compromised.
Oh, and the 'Fox News Scoop at approximately 3PM Eastern Time' is news from last week.
Posted by: Hobospider | Sep 8, 2005 8:48:05 AM
And just what, pray tell, did "Brownie" do wrong? Specifics, please. It'd be nice if you could come up with something as bad as DENYING FOOD AND WATER TO SUFFERING PEOPLE TO DELIBERATELY MAKE THEIR SITUATION WORSE, but I'd settle for something one-tenth as heinous.
Unless, of course, you're just interested in finding a scapegoat and don't really care about the merits.
Asking if the local government could have done a better job is like asking if the Ku Klux Klan could be more tolerant. A better question might be: could the local government have done a worse job? I'm having a hard time seeing how they could, short of hosing the crowds with automatic weapons.
In case you didn't know, there are limits to the powers of the federal government. We do that on purpose. The Federal government does have sweeping powers to act in the event of natural disaster... upon application of the state legislature or Governor. Governor Blancmind didn't do so, and she continues to dither. The Louisiana National Guard, at least as of yesterday, was not under federal command.
Posted by: Voice of Reason | Sep 8, 2005 9:40:39 AM
Maybe you should contact Sen. Leahy's office. He still hasn't figured it out.
Posted by: jreid | Sep 8, 2005 5:18:06 PM
VoR, Your own Senate Leader Bill Frist (and don't pretend you are anything but a partisan Republican at this point) said, "The initial response to Hurricane Katrina was unacceptable at the local, state and federal levels." At this point there is no denying that the FEMA response has been inadequate. Only the degree of incompetance is debatable.
OK, so the Feds screwed up. But who was in charge of the Federal response? And how did he get his job? These are important questions because lives were at stake. I don't control who is in charge at a state level down there since I don't live in the area but as the Fed in charge 'Brownie' represents me and my tax dollars. I am disgusted that FEMA was treated as a reward program for Bush Campaign staffers and cronies rather than an organization with the awesome responsibility to respond to American crises.
Bush's whole platform was making America more secure by rolling everything important under the umbrella of DHS. I know this will make the Freeper troglodytes who are your target audience spit take from their Michael Savage sippy cups, but I have seen no evidence this past week that the federal government is any more capable of handling an catastrophe than it was under under Clinton (Whose FEMA head actually was qualified for the job)
Posted by: Hobospider | Sep 8, 2005 6:53:52 PM
One more thing- even Robert Novak, the Bush Administration's talking points parrot, is unhappy with Brown and DHS chief Chertoff. Why are you still defending them?
Posted by: Hobospider | Sep 8, 2005 6:55:52 PM
When the whole truth finally comes out, there will be plenty of "blame" for anyone and everyone. Including those who spent the first few days spewing hate instead of helping out as most of us did. Come on down and get your hands dirty. Until then, look at LA politics as usual for the real culprit. All first response belongs at the state & local levels. Thats the law. Fed cannot step in unless the state government has collasped and cannot function. Oh wait, you may be right, the Governor and Mayor could not function even a day before the storm hit.
Posted by: Rubicon | Sep 9, 2005 11:51:41 AM
It was Blanco who denied them food and water? I thought it was FEMA. In the Red Cross quote you cited, they were referring to FEMA.
Posted by: Ging | Sep 12, 2005 7:37:54 AM
Thanks for linking that article; it's a beautiful example of how the mainstream media is dropping the ball either deliberately or via incompetence.
No, it was not FEMA. The Red Cross quote I cited specifically referred to "local" authorities and "state Homeland Security." This was confirmed in an interview of a Red Cross official by the one television news department to actually consider this a story. Louisiana has its own department of Homeland Security distinct from the federal department; see here.
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