September 10, 2005

SHAME!

Welcome visitors! I hope you like what you see here enough to stick around. I've been railing against the possibly criminal failures of the Louisiana state government for quite some time. In addition to this post, see Pointing the finger, Bring on the commission!, and Crime against humanity.


Well, Michael Moore's fondness for writing open letters seems to have rubbed off on me, so here's an open letter to the following:

To CNN President Jonathan Klein, who claimed that Fox News Channel covers "meaningless nonsense."

To Andrew Heyward, President of CBS, under whose watch CBS shamefully relied on obviously forged documents to support a story and then for two weeks even more shamefully ridiculed the bloggers who uncovered the fraud.

To whoever's in charge at MSNBC, the news arm of the General Electric corporation, which refused to correct a clear anti-Bush error on its web site even when prompted to do so.

To the alleged archconservative Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corporation empire includes the Fox News Channel, as well as the Fox television network which this very day is broadcasting a benefit for Katrina victims starring Kanye West. Are people allowed to spew racist garbage at a frickin' benefit now and be rewarded for it?

To Robert "Bob" Iger, who will be taking the place of Michael Eisner at Walt Disney, owner of the ABC television network and specifically ABC News. Good luck, sir, and under your stewardship may ABC News pull back from the brink over which all its competitors are going.

To all of you men who, in one way or another, influence the nation's media, I say:

SHAME!

Shame on all of you, with the exception of the Fox News Channel, which is the only one of your networks that is giving any airtime at all to the biggest story of the year, a bigger story than Abu Ghraib, a bigger story than Enron, a bigger story than Valerie Plame, a bigger story than both Natalee Holloway and the Runaway Bride combined. Jonathan Klein, pay attention to this "meaningless nonsense."

Louisiana authorities prevented the Red Cross and the Salvation Army from delivering food, water, medicine, and care to the people trapped in the Superdome and at the Convention Center and all throughout New Orleans.

This is not an opinion, it is a fact. Easily verifiable. Talk to the Red Cross, they'll tell you. Tell me, is this not newsworthy? Two multibillion-dollar charities, flush with donations from an anxious America, physically barred from delivering aid to desperate people, and you guys are mute? What, you think taking part in the lynching of Michael Brown is more important than this?

But wait, it gets better. There's more.

The reason Louisiana authorities prevented the Red Cross and the Salvation Army from delivering food, water, medicine, and care to the people trapped in the Superdome and at the Convention Center and all throughout New Orleans was that to do so might have encouraged some people to stay longer than necessary, and might have encouraged others to come to one of the two mass congregation locations. To avoid this undesired outcome, they made a conscious decision to block attempts to make the city any less unlivable.

Do you get it? They wanted people to leave, not stay. Never mind that they were actually preventing people from leaving and that very very few would choose to stay in a sweltering stadium stinking of feces for a second longer than necessary. The fact is that if food and water and medicine and care were delivered to the suffering people in that stadium, in that convention center, that would have made life just a little bit less intolerable. And that could not be tolerated.

Why aren't you screaming this from the rooftops? I know why. Because the mayor who so failed his people, the governor who thwarted the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, the chief of police who rewarded his troops with Vegas vacations after they engaged in mass desertion and in some cases joined the looters... these people are all Democrats. That's the reason.

Don't try to deny it. Let's climb in the What If machine and ponder Hurricane LaTonya bearing down on the city of Jacksonville, Florida in a slightly different reality.

Jacksonville sits on Florida's Atlantic coast, just south of Georgia, and has thus far been spared major hurricanes, which means it's due. It's the most populous city in Florida and the 13th most populous city in the United States, about 60% larger than New Orleans. Its mayor is Republican John Peyton, its chief of police is probable Republican Donald R. Cook, and of course the governor of Florida is Republican Jeb Bush [1]. Duval County voted for Bush over Kerry by 16%.

So along comes LaTonya, and she's a big one. Several days before she makes landfall, she grows to alarming strength. President Kerry declares a state of emergency. But despite having ample warning and an ample supply of buses, Mayor Peyton fails to fully evacuate his city; an estimated 100,000 Jacksonvillians are left behind to ride out the storm. The mayor urges his trapped populace to go to Alltel Stadium... although for the purpose of this hypothetical, imagine Alltel with a dome. It's quite foreseeable that chaos will be the result, but the Mayor urges it anyway, while hundreds of transit buses and school buses sit parked in neat little rows.

When the storm hits, Chief Cook's police leap into action by deserting en masse. Some of the AWOL cops are videotaped looting a Wal-Mart. The police utterly fail to keep order, leading to near-riots at the stadium and at the Convention Center. Despite this, Chief Cook praises his force's performance unreservedly, and sends all the cops on taxpayer-paid Vegas vacations.

Meanwhile, Governor Bush has not been idle. While the federal government has the Coast Guard active and plucking people from the waters within hours, his troops move decisively to block the Red Cross and the Salvation Army from delivering food to the hungry, water to the thirsty, medicine to the sick, and hope to the desperate. While the United States Navy sends a highly sophisticated ship that had been swinging at anchor in the Gulf to ride out the storm close to shore and begins massive search-and-rescue operations, Governor Bush engages in a pissing contest with Mayor Peyton. While President Kerry shepherds through the approval of more than sixty billion dollars in emergency aid in record time, the stadium degenerates into a dank foul-smelling hellhole, with the people inside honestly having no idea if anybody's coming for them or if they will live or die. While FEMA and the National Guardsmen of neighboring states get buses to the crowds and helicopters to the individuals, Governor Bush makes sure to the end that absolutely no private aid reaches the people trapped in his city.

Now, are you telling me that in a situation like this, the press wouldn't have Peyton's, Cook's, and Bush's entrails for lunch? Are you telling me that you'd give a pass to these three Republicans and instead vent your rage on the President and his FEMA director? No matter what FEMA did, no matter what screwups were made by the director, how could it possibly be remotely close to as bad as what was done to the city by local and state authorities? Would you be mercilessly hounding President Kerry, or would you be too busy screaming about the outrage in huge headlines?

And in the hypothetical I didn't even put any repulsive race-baiting by politicians, rap musicians, and actors.

Governor Blanco let the people of New Orleans suffer, while truckloads of aid were poised and ready. Those in the Superdome sweltered in the late August heat inside what's essentially a big oven without air conditioning. Their plumbing ceased working and their toilets overflowed to the floor with urine and fecal matter. Several died. Violent assaults and rapes took place, and the most visible action taken by local police was to fire weapons over the heads of refugees seeking shelter across a bridge. If we did this to Iraqi prisoners of war, the outrage that would erupt is literally inconceivable. The largest worldwide outbreak of outrage in human history would cover the globe within minutes of the photographs of the dead bodies and the overflowing toilets hitting the wire services. But here we have an American governor inflicting this on American citizens. Mostly innocent American citizens. Old innocent American citizens. Poor innocent American citizens. Sick innocent American citizens. Black innocent American citizens. Why in God's name are you letting her get away with it?

Again, I know: because she's a Democrat, and President Bush is a Republican. Hell, you're even complicit in painting President Bush as an enemy of the black man. You're the exact opposite of nonpartisan and you're not even bothering to hide it anymore. Shame on you, shame on you all.

UPDATE: For crying out loud, now the Washington Post is running (and MSNBC is headlining) some crap whining about people defending their homes. Uh, yeah. Wouldn't you? What do you expect New Orleans's wealthy to do, abandon their property to the looters? Are they somehow less deserving of security and safety because they have good jobs?

UPDATE 2: Welcome readers linked from Lorie Byrd of Polipundit and Betsy Newmark of Betsy's Page! They're two of my favorite bloggers, and if any of my readers don't read them regularly, they should.

[1] Who is hip enough to own jeb.org

September 10, 2005 in Hurricane Katrina | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

September 08, 2005

An open letter to some misguided people

Item: On Wednesday, September 7, Reuters publishes an article headlined FEMA Wants No Photos of Dead:

NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. agency leading Hurricane Katrina rescue efforts said Tuesday that it does not want the news media to photograph the dead as they are recovered.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, heavily criticized for its slow response to the devastation caused by the hurricane, rejected journalists' requests to accompany rescue boats searching for storm victims.
   
An agency spokeswoman said space was needed on the rescue boats.

"We have requested that no photographs of the deceased be made by the media," the spokeswoman said in an e-mail.

(via Los Angeles Times)

Later that day, Reuters follows up with Media groups say FEMA censors search for bodies, which begins:

WASHINGTON, Sept 7 (Reuters) - When U.S. officials asked the media not to take pictures of those killed by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, they were censoring a key part of the disaster story, free speech watchdogs said on Wednesday.

The move by the Federal Emergency Management Agency is in line with the Bush administration's ban on images of flag-draped U.S. military coffins returning from the Iraq war, media monitors said in separate telephone interviews.

"It's impossible for me to imagine how you report a story whose subject is death without allowing the public to see images of the subject of the story," said Larry Siems of the PEN American Center, an authors' group that defends free expression.

The left-wing "watchdog" Media Matters responds with an article titled "Where is media outrage over purported government attempts to restrict Katrina coverage?"

Where is the outrage, indeed.

Okay, this is addressed to all you good folks at Media Matters, especially the signatory to that article, S.S.M. (No person with those initials appears on Media Matters's masthead.) This is to the freedom-lovin' guys at PEN America Center and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. This is to Tom Rosenstiel, director of Columbia's prestigious graduate school for journalism's Project for Excellence in Journalism, who was quoted by Reuters as calling FEMA's request "an invitation to chaos". This is to all our friends on the left, to Kos, to Atrios, to the fine crew at Democratic Underground who I know without looking are outraged, outraged at Chimpy McBushitler's attempts to censor the media.

To all of you people, and might I say quite a crowd you make, fasten your seatbelts. We're going on a journey through the Land of Make Believe. We're going to play Let's Pretend. We're going to exercise that empathy thing you always accuse Republicans of lacking.

Ready?

Okay, here we go. Close your eyes and pretend... you're a poor black resident of New Orleans. You're a single mother with a five-year-old daughter. As Katrina approaches landfall, you have nowhere to go. You ride public transportation to work and don't own a car. The city isn't using its massive fleet of transit buses and school buses to ferry people out of town for the supposedly mandatory evacuation, so you obey your mayor and go to the "shelter of last resort", the Superdome.

And there you find Hell.

First comes the terrible storm, and the howling winds that tear off part of the Superdome's roof. But that's just the beginning of the nightmare. As the days tick by, you have little food, little water. You try very hard to sleep in a plastic stadium chair, but it's not easy, not with tens of thousands of other people making noise and the air gradually clogging with the stench of feces. You don't know it, but your governor has ordered Red Cross and Salvation Army trucks halted because she wants to encourage you to leave. And finally you do... but not before you lose your daughter.

One minute she's holding your hand as you stand amid the increasingly hysterical and violent crowd, the next minute she's swept away by the human horde and you can't grab her arm before she vanishes. You have no idea where she is. You pray she's all right, that she's somewhere in the flood of people around you.

Finally, after endless hours of worry, misery, hunger, nausea, and abject terror, an armed man wearing a uniform pushes you onto a bus. You don't know where it's taking you, but somehow you eventually find yourself somewhere where at least you can get food and water, and the toilets aren't overflowed to the floor.

You check the web for news of your daughter. You ask around. You manage to get in touch with some of your former neighbors and ask if they've seen her, but they haven't. You're more scared than you've ever been in your life, but you have hope. You know there are plenty of lost children who are perfectly safe, and you're praying as hard as you can that your daughter is one of them.

And then you're watching CNN footage of FEMA teams sweeping the city. A human form comes into view. The cameraman zooms in close... and there she is, your daughter. Her corpse is bloated from the gas excreted by her internal bacteria as they digest her from within. The rats have gnawed off a good portion of her face. Her body bears bruises as mute testimony to indignities suffered while alive.

Okay, that's enough imagination. Back to reality. You're not throwing yourself to the floor and crying hysterically while beating the television with your fists, you're in your comfortable home or office that never floods to the roofline. But did you maybe, just for a second, catch a hint of what she's feeling?

Just a hint, mind you. I know I could never fully understand that kind of pain and I doubt most of you could either, but you don't need to have somebody stomp on your heart to know that it'd hurt like a bitch. Do you understand? She's not a real person, but there are people out there like her. Web sites are filled with pictures of men, women, and children missing after Katrina, placed there by people who are desperately seeking news of their loved ones, people who are trying their hardest to cling to hope as it fades away. Do you want them to learn the tragic news by seeing a bloated corpse in the newspaper? Do you understand that getting a picture of a dead person that you can wave around triumphantly and shout Bush's fault! isn't worth it?

Think about it.

UPDATE: Welcome readers from Media Matters for America! Stick around, you may learn something.

September 8, 2005 in Hurricane Katrina | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Fisking Hobospider

My dear friend and colleague Hobospider has engaged me in debate in the comments to my thread exposing the crimes of Kathleen Blanco and Ray Nagin. I felt the quality of the debate was high enough to elevate it to a new thread, so here it is. Hobospider's comments are in indented italics, and have been left unchanged, spelling errors and all.

VoR, Your own Senate Leader Bill Frist (and don't pretend you are anything but a partisan Republican at this point)

No, don't you pretend that I am a partisan Republican. Bill Frist does not speak for me. He is not my spokesman. I freely reserve the right to disagree with him. I even freely reserve the right to think that he's an idiot... which as a matter of fact I do.

said "The initial response to Hurricane Katrina was unacceptable at the local, state and federal levels."

So, proving once again that Bill Frist is an idiot. Actually, no, that's unfair to idiots. Bill Frist is not an idiot, he's a politician, which is worse. Bill Frist is not a man of principle. Bill Frist, like Hillary Clinton, Pat Leahy, and Michael Moore, gambled that the FEMA response would prove woefully inadequate and chose to join the dogpile early. My guess is that Frist thinks he has to distance himself from Bush if he wants a chance in 2008. I suspect that he will find this strategy to be a fatal blunder.

I'm going to take your postscript and place it here, because this goes right with your schtick about Bill-Effing-Frist:

One more thing- even Robert Novak, the Bush Administration's talking points parrot, is blah blah blah blah who cares yadda yadda blah Brown and Chertoff are bad.

You know, I don't remember ordering an argumentum ad verecundiam, but thanks anyway.

Now, moving on:

At this point there is no denying that the FEMA response has been inadequate.

I deny it. Or, at the very least, you certainly haven't proved it.

Only the degree of incompetance is debatable.

If one could win a debate by declaring an issue undebatable, you'd be entitled to a prize. Unfortunately, one can't.

OK, so the Feds screwed up.

In the Pink world (read Tribes right now... well, after you're done reading this) where begging the question is legal, this is correct. But I'm afraid that doesn't work for those of us in the reality-based community. Let's try an argument next time, shall we?

But who was in charge of the Federal response?

Michael D. Brown, the Under Secretary of Emergency Preparedness and Response. He's held the position since 2003, but he's been with FEMA for almost five years, including two as deputy director of FEMA. (The director of FEMA, formerly a cabinet-level appointee, is now the Under Secretary of EP&R since the government reorganization, but he's still usually referred to by the media and the public as the "head of FEMA".)

And how did he get his job?

Well, he was the deputy director of FEMA for two years before ascending to the top spot. He succeeded to the position when his boss, Joe Allbaugh, resigned. During the two years when Allbaugh was director and he was deputy director, the two of them saw FEMA through several dozen disasters. As Under Secretary, Brown was head of FEMA when four hurricanes struck Florida in a single season. Did you have any complaints back then?

Allbaugh, by the way, was confirmed by the Senate 91-0.

These are important questions because lives were at stake.

Well, then, if they were important questions, all you had to do was ask. The answers are very factual and apolitical. Why didn't you look them up, instead of treating them rhetorically?

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.

What an unbelievably lame argument. So consider this hypothetical situation: Kathleen Blanco and Ray Nagin are deliberately torturing the inhabitants of New Orleans. The federal government is sending aid and relief, but Kathleen Blanco is preventing it from reaching its intended recipients, because she wants them to suffer. Would you assign responsibility for that nasty situation to President Bush, because he represents you, while Blanco and Nagin do not?

You know, I described that as a hypothetical, but really, the scenario I described isn't too far from the truth. Instead of torturing the inhabitants, Blanco and Nagin merely put them in torturous conditions, in some cases luring them there with lies (walk across the bridge, there are buses waiting!), refused to let them leave, refused to let the Red Cross deliver them food, denied them water, stood by while many were assaulted or raped, and all but encouraged looters to take their property. I guess there might be a distinction between that and torture, but I don't think the Geneva Convention would say so. Let me put it this way: would you rather have been a New Orleanean called by your government to the Superdome, or be posed for pictures with panties on your head?

Hey, Abu Ghraib fetishists! This is worse treatment of civilians by a government, do you hear me? And they weren't even suspected of plotting to blow up anything! Where are you?

Look, let's say I were willing to stipulate that FEMA "screwed up", as you so very specifically put it. How much did they screw up? How much could they possibly have done? On this very site you've seen military personnel under federal command rescuing people hours after the storm's passing. You've seen a mini-aircraft carrier stationed in the middle of the Gulf during the hurricane so that it could rapidly deploy after the storm passed. I bet that wasn't too comfortable for the crew. And I bet running constant flight operations, getting search-and-rescue helicopters to New Orleans, getting exhausted citizens out, is a pretty tiresome operation. I bet a whole lot of the helicopter pilots, emergency medical technicians, evacuation specialists, aircraft mechanics, and sailors of the Bataan have been working pretty hard, and have been away from their families for awhile, and have even been risking their lives. So tell me, and tell the kids serving aboard the Bataan... what exactly is your beef with their performance? Should they have gotten there quicker? Should the flight crews be flying more shifts than they are? Is a fleet of military helicopters not enough? Well, the Feds also brought along the (federal!) Coast Guard and their experienced search-and-rescue crews and their choppers. Is that still not enough federal aid? Okay, we'll send along $50,000,000,000, approved in breakneck time. Do you still think the federal performance was inadequate? Well... the feds tried to send the Red Cross and the Salvation Army (which are coordinated by FEMA), but the governor wouldn't let them.

No matter how bad FEMA "screwed up", could it even remotely compare to what Blanco and Nagin inflicted on New Orleans?

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.

Yeah, we have NO idea how competently Brown can handle a crisis, especially not a crisis like a major hurricane. Why, he's only been tested by the 2004 hurricane season. In case you don't remember it, there were four, count 'em, four hurricanes that struck Florida in 43 days. First came Charley on Friday the 13th of August, and he was a big one. Category 4, the strongest to hit Florida since Andrew 12 years earlier, and the strongest to hit the area in 44 years. Floridians (and FEMA) had three weeks to catch their breath before Frances came along. A former Category 4, she hit the coast with less powerful winds but moving verrrry sloooowly, dropping buckets of rain and spawning tornadoes as she went, making her the sixth-costliest hurricane in American history. It was but 11 days later when Ivan crashed ashore as a category 3. While we were still picking up the pieces from him, and Frances, and Charley, along came Jeanne and made landfall as a Category 3 in almost exactly the same place as Frances. Here, take a look. Can you imagine the people living there, having to dig out from under a hurricane, then do it all over again in 20 days?

Now I ask you:

Were there riotous crowds?

Were the Red Cross and the Salvation Army physically prevented from rushing aid to the victims?

Were there massive desertions of the police force?

Were there stadia filled with stinking feces?

I'll grant that Katrina was worse than any of these four hurricanes. But I think dealing with all four simultaneously proves that Michael D. Brown is a pretty capable administrator. I can't imagine FEMA being able to handle Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne with an incompetent boob at the helm. No, when incompetent boobs are in command, I expect to see something a lot more like Katrina.

Oh, and here's another thing. Take a look:

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That's the McDonald's in Biloxi, Mississippi. Looks like a normal shot at first, until you realize that the entire frickin' building's been blown out.

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That's Gulfport, Mississippi.

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This used to be an apartment and condominium complex in Biloxi.

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One of these pictures is New Orleans, one is Biloxi. If not for the tall buildings in the background, could you tell which is which?

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This also used to be Biloxi.

The Gulf Coast got hit hard, harder than New Orleans. Granted that the Biloxians didn't have any levees to fail (as levees tend to do in Category 4 winds, no matter how much we might wish it were otherwise), but then again the Biloxians didn't choose to live ten to twenty feet below sea level. As a percentage of total value, it's a sure bet that Biloxi sustained more damage than New Orleans, but... did the mayor of Biloxi force his citizens into cramped, unsafe "shelters"? Did he forbid them to leave and deny them food and water? Did his police force take up looting? Did he send his police to Las Vegas shortly after Katrina struck? Did the governor of Mississippi thwart the good will of the Red Cross and the Salvation Army? Do you want to bet that New Orleans is getting way, way more federal aid per capita than Biloxi?

Katrina was both a natural disaster and a man-and-woman-made disaster. The natural part is under God's control or nobody's. But the man and the woman who are responsible for the other part don't work for FEMA.

Bush's whole platform was making America more secure by rolling everything important under the umbrella of DHS.

Actually, I'm pretty sure Bush's "whole platform" included planks on taxes, the War on Terrorism, Social Security, and possibly one or two other issues.

I know this will make the Freeper troglodytes who are your target audience spit take from their Michael Savage sippy cups

Aw, now you're just being nasty.

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

Nor have you seen any evidence that the federal government is any less capable of handling an [sic] catastrophe. You've seen plenty of evidence that the current administration can adequately handle an emergency. I'm pretty sure that Florida in 2004 didn't resort to rumored cannibalism.

(Whose FEMA head actually was qualified for the job)

Ah yes, James Lee Witt, currently employed by Kathleen Blanco to oversee the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Doing a bang-up job, isn't he?

September 8, 2005 in Hurricane Katrina | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

WHY?

The headline on every major newspaper should be:

LOUISIANA COPS PREVENT RED CROSS FROM DELIVERING AID TO SUPERDOME, CONVENTION CENTER

I want to know why it is not.

Actually, I have a pretty good idea why it is not. And you bastards should be ashamed of yourselves.

September 8, 2005 in Hurricane Katrina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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:

Hurricane Katrina: Why is the Red Cross not in New Orleans?

  • 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.


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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".


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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:

2005_08_31t090345_450x300_us_weather_kat

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.

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It's Tuesday, August 30. The sun has risen once since Katrina blotted out the sky.


That same day, here are New Orleans cops.

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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.

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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.

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The Bataan is an amphibious assault ship of the LHD-1 Wasp class; she looks like this:

Lhd3bow

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:

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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.

September 7, 2005 in Hurricane Katrina | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

September 05, 2005

Bring on the commission!

Item: Hillary Clinton calls for the formation of a "Katrina Commission". Other prominent people on the left will undoubtedly follow suit.

For God's sake, give them what they want! Establish an independent, bipartisan commission that closely examines in detail the failures that led to loss of life when Katrina struck. Make sure it asks how this could happen:

Domebus

See that inset? Here's what it looks like up close:

Bus1

Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drive through. Those there are city buses and they sit there flooded to their grilles, unable to move, unable to do anything, unable to help the tens of thousands of New Orleanians who were desperate to evacuate the city.

Meanwhile, not far away, we had this:

Bus2

Plenty of school buses. Who's in charge of the city buses? Who's in charge of the schools? The city government, and especially its mayor, Ray Nagin. The lots of these decidedly unamphibious buses has been dubbed the Ray Nagin Memorial Motor Pool, although the term is inaccurate because Ray Nagin is very much alive and unfortunately still the titular mayor of the city of the dead. Were this a more just world, tar and feathers would be the least punishment he could expect, but there you are. Picture every person dead in the flood, crushed by the mob, murdered by thugs, or raped by leering brutes. Now picture every seat in every one of those buses. How many of them would have fit? How much misery would have been spared?

And now Ray Nagin accuses the federal government of lack of haste? Please, Senators, please, Representatives, bring forth the investigation, bring forth the independent commission. Let us drag the names of the truly guilty into the light.

One other official will certainly not withstand the bright light of scrutiny, and this is Police Chief Eddie Compass. Not only did his police utterly fail to keep order, they in many cases actively worked to destroy it. Unlike Daley's cops, whose job it was to preserve disorder, Nagin's and Compass's cops seemed to think their job was to create disorder. I mean that quite literally: watch this clip from MSNBC where a police officer, caught looting by the wonderful Martin Savidge of MSNBC, answers the question "What are you doing?" with "My job".

Make sure the commission sees that footage. Make sure those two officers are located and called to testify. While you're at it, call Ray Nagin and Eddie Compass, and Kathleen Blanco too. Let them all explain to the American people what they did and when, and it should be clear exactly who failed New Orleans that tragic week.

September 5, 2005 in Hurricane Katrina | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

An open letter to Michael Moore

Dear Michael,

You have a really narcissistic habit of writing open letters to famous personages who, quite frankly, wouldn't give you the time of day in private which is why you're reduced to ranting at them publically. You've bloviated at everyone from the President of the Aladdin Casino to Al Gore to the United States Senate to, repeatedly, George W. Bush. (In that first one, you addressed the President as "Governor Bush"... really clever, you truly show yourself to be the master of the biting insult.) Now, in your latest, you join the liberal echo chamber in attempting to deflect blame for the catastrophic death toll of Hurricane Katrina on the President, away from those who really deserve it.

Now, you know full well that the important people to whom you address these open letters will never respond, so you probably feel insulated from replies. As I did with an earlier letter that you probably wrote, I have taken the liberty of writing the reply that George W. Bush is far too busy running the executive branch to write.

Friday, September 2nd, 2005

Dear Mr. Bush:

What, you're not going to call him "George"? Or even "governor"? After all, you believe that Bush stole the 2004 election too, right?

Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted.

It's now Day 8 of Hurricane Katrina and just about everyone has been evacuated. Army helicopters airlifted tens of thousands to safety.

Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers?

Well, let's see. The Air Force has approximately 518 military aircraft are deployed in Iraq, most of which are not helicopters. The 15th MEU also has 29 helicopters in Iraq. What percentage of total helicopters owned by the United States Armed Forces and the National Guard do you suppose that comprises?

Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag.

BWAHAHAHA!! Excuse me for a moment while I wipe the tears of helpless laughters from my eyes. Now I see, Michael, why you are considered among the funniest men in America. "Sears parking lot"... man, that's classic! Truly, sir, you are a shining wit.

Oops, I made a Spoonerism.

Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are?

Why, yes. The vast majority of them, including the vast majorities of the National Guards of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, are right here in the United States. Absolutely nobody who is in a position to know has suggested that there's a shortage of National Guardsmen.

We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with?

Well, uh, see, there was this flood. If they'd been there "to begin with", they'd have been wiped out along with everybody else.

Last Thursday I was in south Florida and sat outside while the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over my head. It was only a Category 1 then but it was pretty nasty. Eleven people died and, as of today, there were still homes without power. That night the weatherman said this storm was on its way to New Orleans. That was Thursday! Did anybody tell you?

Yes, which is why the President declared a state of emergency on Friday. In the meantime, the Democratic governor of Louisiana sat on her thumbs, and the Democratic mayor of New Orleans let hundreds of buses sit idle while his citizens tried desperately to flee the doomed city.

I know you didn't want to interrupt your vacation and I know how you don't like to get bad news. Plus, you had fundraisers to go to and mothers of dead soldiers to ignore and smear. You sure showed her!

Once again Michael shows off his flair for the cheap rhetorical trick. Bush had to "ignore and smear" a "mother(s) of dead soldiers." Note that Moore nowhere mentions why these unfortunates were deserving of such treatment in the President's eyes. This is somewhat akin to the following: Adolf Hitler's parents both died when he was young, therefore anybody who criticizes him is guilty of "smearing an orphan."

By the way, Michael, which is it? Did he ignore the mother(s), or did he smear her(them)? The two are mutually exclusive.

I especially like how, the day after the hurricane, instead of flying to Louisiana, you flew to San Diego to party with your business peeps. Don't let people criticize you for this -- after all, the hurricane was over and what the heck could you do, put your finger in the dike?

Finally Michael says something accurate, albeit with misplaced sarcasm. Is there anyone who doubts that if the President had flown immediately to Louisiana, people like Moore would have found something to criticize in that?

And don't listen to those who, in the coming days, will reveal how you specifically reduced the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for New Orleans this summer for the third year in a row.

Especially don't listen to the New York Times editorial page, which has blasted just about every flood control measure that's been brought before Congress.

You just tell them that even if you hadn't cut the money to fix those levees, there weren't going to be any Army engineers to fix them anyway because you had a much more important construction job for them -- BUILDING DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ!

Moore continues to labor under the hilarious misconception that every single soldier (or even a particularly large percentage of them) is deployed to Iraq. And by the way... I'd argue that building democracy in Iraq is a more important cause than building levees that would be helpless against Nature's greatest fury anyway.

On Day 3, when you finally left your vacation home, I have to say I was moved by how you had your Air Force One pilot descend from the clouds as you flew over New Orleans so you could catch a quick look of the disaster. Hey, I know you couldn't stop and grab a bullhorn and stand on some rubble and act like a commander in chief. Been there done that.

Been there, done that, got no credit for it from Michael Moore.

There will be those who will try to politicize this tragedy and try to use it against you.

Gee, who could that be? Who on Earth would try to crassly exploit a tragedy to politically harm the President?

Just have your people keep pointing that out. Respond to nothing. Even those pesky scientists who predicted this would happen because the water in the Gulf of Mexico is getting hotter and hotter making a storm like this inevitable. Ignore them and all their global warming Chicken Littles.

Global warming is undoubtedly to blame for the sogginess of Michael Moore's french fries. However, a whole bunch of "pesky scientists" say it is not responsible for hurricanes.

There is nothing unusual about a hurricane that was so wide it would be like having one F-4 tornado that stretched from New York to Cleveland.

Hmmm... there's something unusual about my cornflakes this morning. It must be global warming!

No, Mr. Bush, you just stay the course. It's not your fault that 30 percent of New Orleans lives in poverty or that tens of thousands had no transportation to get out of town.

Once again, Michael, you unintentionally speak the truth in sarcasm form. No, it's not the President's fault that 30% of New Orleans lives in poverty. It's not the job of the federal government, and certainly not the job of the executive branch of the federal government, to ensure that every single American is prosperous. That's the job of American citizens. And blame for the tragic fact that tens of thousands lacked the transportation to get out of town is laid squarely at the feet of Ray Nagin, who had that transportation available to his command but dithered until it was too late.

C'mon, they're black! I mean, it's not like this happened to Kennebunkport. Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh! Race has nothing -- NOTHING -- to do with this!

I started writing about five snarky replies to this, but then I decided, "why bother?" It stands perfectly well on its own.

You hang in there, Mr. Bush. Just try to find a few of our Army helicopters and send them there. Pretend the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are near Tikrit.

And you hang in there as well, Michael. Never, never let the facts get in the way of a good smear. Pretend that George W. Bush is worse than Hitler. Oh, wait, you already do.

P.S. That annoying mother, Cindy Sheehan, is no longer at your ranch. She and dozens of other relatives of the Iraqi War dead are now driving across the country, stopping in many cities along the way. Maybe you can catch up with them before they get to DC on September 21st.

Yes, your pawn, that annoying motherf***er Cindy Sheehan, spewing her hatred of her nation and advocating disastrous policy, has faded away. I bet you are madder than a wet hen that Katrina and Rehnquist pushed her way off the news radar, ain't you?

September 5, 2005 in Hurricane Katrina | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Partisanship stripped naked

In the comments section of my last post, commentor Stabbey TC asks, "How about pointing the finger at the people who cut the funding for hurricane defense long before Katrina existed?" Well, as I explain in the post, because hurricane defense doesn't really matter... no matter how strong the hurricane defenses are, the strongest hurricane will beat the strongest levee.

But for what it's worth, the editorial page of the New York Times agrees with Stabbey, blasting President Bush for an alleged lack of leadership. The editorial, which mentions nothing of the failed leadership of Nagin, Compass, and Blanco, asks:

While our attention must now be on the Gulf Coast's most immediate needs, the nation will soon ask why New Orleans's levees remained so inadequate. Publications from the local newspaper to National Geographic have fulminated about the bad state of flood protection in this beloved city, which is below sea level. ... Why was Congress, before it wandered off to vacation, engaged in slashing the budget for correcting some of the gaping holes in the area's flood protection?

Well, as EU Rota points out (link via The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid), the answer to that last question is, "Perhaps they listened to the editorial page of the New York Times", which said in April of this year:

Anyone who cares about responsible budgeting and the health of America's rivers and wetlands should pay attention to a bill now before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The bill would shovel $17 billion at the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control and other water-related projects -- this at a time when President Bush is asking for major cuts in Medicaid and other important domestic programs. Among these projects is a $2.7 billion boondoggle on the Mississippi River that has twice flunked inspection by the National Academy of Sciences.

The Government Accountability Office and other watchdogs accuse the corps of routinely inflating the economic benefits of its projects. And environmentalists blame it for turning free-flowing rivers into lifeless canals and destroying millions of acres of wetlands -- usually in the name of flood control and navigation but mostly to satisfy Congress's appetite for pork.

This is a bad piece of legislation.

And a couple of years ago:

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has a rare opportunity tomorrow to strike a blow for both fiscal sanity and the environment. Before the committee is a bill that would bring a measure of discipline and independent oversight to the Army Corps of Engineers, an incorrigibly spendthrift agency whose projects over the years have caused enormous damage to the nation's streams, rivers and wetlands.

In 2001 regarding the mighty Mississip':

No one welcomes a flood. No one wants to do away with flood prevention. But it is no surrender to recognize, as many Midwesterners have done, that there is something profoundly elemental in the spring rising of the Mississippi and its tributaries, an adherence to a law that is still greater than almost anything the Army Corps of Engineers can throw in its way. The Mississippi is powerful enough on an ordinary summer's day. But to see it in spring, overflowing into Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois, is to witness one of the inarguable boundaries to human existence. The river lends out its flood plain wordlessly and takes it back without argument.

That same year:

The famous Wilkes-Barre flood of 1972 and the Mississippi River flood of 1993 led to fierce criticism of the Army Corps of Engineers, whose traditional methods of flood control were found to have made matters much worse than they might have been. But the Corps has never abandoned its blind faith in dams and levees that, when overused, constrict the river's natural flow, invite overbuilding and end up doing more harm than good.

Now, all of a sudden, the Times just loves the Army Corps of Engineers and its levees, and demands to know why more money wasn't shoveled into them. This is stark naked partisanship, and the time has come to ask the New York Times: have you, at long last, no sense of decency?

September 5, 2005 in Hurricane Katrina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 04, 2005

Pointing the finger

I've exercised restraint so far in criticizing any government officials in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. I felt it would be unseemly in the extreme to point the finger of blame while people were still desperately fighting for their lives, while people were still dying in misery thanks to this largely man-made disaster. I say "largely man-made" because while New Orleans was doomed, New Orleanians were not and the horrific body count can be mostly attributed to men and women who were entrusted with public service and who failed utterly to protect the public.

I note that many Democrats have not been so respectful of the dead and the dying; notables from New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin to Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu to Kanye West (at a benefit, for crying out loud!) have taken every opportunity to criticize the government, especially the President, not even waiting for the carnage to die down. Some have gone so far as to accuse the President, the President who has appointed more men and women of color to high government office than any President in history, of racism. It's truly repulsive, and the offensiveness of their remarks has nothing to do with the merits of their case. It's wrong, so very very wrong to engage in naked partisanship at a time like this. For shame.

But now, the dying is pretty much over, the former residents of the former New Orleans are scattered to the winds, and while they'll surely be uncomfortable for a long while and our national economy will surely suffer, the City of New Orleans is now largely vacant except for the multitude of corpses floating in the toxic soup that fills the streets, and the rats who are gorging themselves and multiplying like, well, rats. Now is the time to start asking who was the cause of this unprecedented calamity.

Bryan Preston may be lovely and talented but certainly neither as much as the woman on whose blog he posts, Michelle Malkin. His own Junk Yard Blog is currently suffering from bandwidth overconsumption. Preston does an excellent job of slamming the New Orleans government, which was apparently rotten to the core. Now circulating are images of what bloggers are calling Ray Nagin Memorial Motor Pool, where at least 255 buses, capable of carrying tens of thousands of New Orleanians to safety, now sit uselessly in a lot, flooded to their grilles. Way to go, Ray.

Preston also does an excellent job of slamming the New Orleans police department, which deserted en masse and even contributed to the deadly breakdown of civil order. But there's one person he does not give enough attention to.

Look at the whining (Toronto Star) from the rescued. Look at how eagerly they blame President Bush, without even thinking that their own black Democratic leaders might have failed them. Look especially at this (AP via Halifax Herald):

New Orleans police Supt. Eddie Compass got a hero's welcome as he rode down the street on the running board of a box truck and announced through a bullhorn to thunderous applause: "We got 30,000 people out of the Superdome and we're going to take care of you. We've got food and water on the way. We've got medical attention on the way. We're going to get you out of here safely. We're going to get all of you," he said.

Now, I have long believed that status as a victim does not shield one from criticism, and with that in mind I say to the New Orleanians who gave Eddie Compass a "hero's welcome": Hey, dumbasses! That man you're cheering just killed a whole bunch of you, do you realize that?

A whole lot of people unnecessarily died because of Ray Nagin's failure to competently evacuate the city, but many died unnecessarily after the storm had passed, and you can lay the blame for several of those deaths squarely at the feet of police Supt. Eddie Compass.

For starters, he's the Chief of Police. When it comes to the cops, the buck stops with him. And Eddie's cops demonstrated their fierce loyalty and trustworthiness by cravenly abandoning their posts when they were most needed, in some cases becoming armed looters themselves. These are men paid to serve as police officers under Eddie Compass.

But Compass's failure is greater than that of his subordinates. As the city's top police officer, the maintenance of public order is his responsibility. When there's civil unrest, it's his job to quell it. He didn't do it.

For example, consider the grave situation at the New Orleans Convention Center (AP via Yahoo! News). Civic order was breaking down, the crowd was growing ugly. Crimes were being committed; people were being... well, let's let Chief Compass explain it:

About 15,000 to 20,000 people who had taken shelter at New Orleans convention center grew increasingly hostile after waiting for buses for days amid the filth and the dead. Police Chief Eddie Compass said he sent in 88 officers to quell the situation at the building, but they were quickly driven back by an angry mob.

"We have individuals who are getting raped, we have individuals who are getting beaten," Compass said. "Tourists are walking in that direction and they are getting preyed upon."

News flash, Chief: when you're in charge of a situation like that, every rape, every beating is on your shoulders. Don't tell me that your 88-man company of officers got "driven back by an angry mob". They're well-trained and well-disciplined police officers (well, in theory, anyway). They can control a crowd of 15,000 to 20,000 unruly civilians. Or if they can't, shame on you. This was a desperate situation, and failure to maintain order was sure to lead to more assaults, rapes, and deaths. Keeping order must of necessity have been the highest priority. Here's a suggestion: why didn't you find somebody, anybody, who was guilty of rape, assault, or looting, and put a bullet in his head? I bet that would make the more violent among the crowd choose to sit quietly and wait for rescue.

Why didn't you do it? To throw this schmuck's words back in his or her face:

"This is race. Do you think if this was happening in Idaho that they would let people starve?"

Uh, if this was happening in Idaho, do you think the police would let violent individuals in a desperate situation commit rape and assault without taking serious action? I don't. After the San Francisco earthquake, the rule was "looters will be shot", as it has been in time of disaster since the invention of the firearm. Why wasn't that the rule here? Could it be because the looters, thugs, and rapists were largely black?

This victim, on the other hand, had exactly the right idea, although he may have been wrong on the specifics:

"I don't know, I guess we voted the wrong people into office."

Getting back to Compass's "hero's welcome":

As he came down the road, elderly people gave thanks and some nearly fainted with joy. Compass also warned that if anyone did anything disruptive, the troops would have to stop distributing the food and water and get out.

If anyone did anything disruptive, the troops distributing desperately needed food and water would stop and get out?? I can't believe I'm reading this. That's like the natural disaster version of "if you kids don't stop fighting right now, I'll turn this car around and go home." So if one of the many thugs and criminals that Chief Compass knew were in that crowd had done something untoward, thousands of innocents would get to suffer. Nice. Real nice.

In case you were wondering, the correct answer is, "If anyone does anything disruptive, the troops will have to stop distributing food and water for as long as it takes to summarily execute the disruptor without warning."

The way I see it, there were four things that went wrong in the destruction of New Orleans:

  1. Many people were unable to evacuate the city due to lack of resources.
  2. The levees failed to withstand the hurricane.
  3. Relief took several days and rescue took most of a week.
  4. Civic order broke down among those who were trapped in the city, resulting in violence and even death.

Who gets the blame? Number 2 is arguably the federal government, although some bloggers have persuasively made the case that levee construction was largely in the hands of corrupt New Orleans politicians. In any case, the failure of the levee hardly seems to matter... given New Orleans's geographical position, it was only a matter of time before a hurricane came along strong enough to batter down any levee that was raised against it.

Is there anybody to blame for Number 3? I don't think so, I think that despite the complaints of the same New Orleans politicians who had to know they were responsible for a clusterf**k of Biblical proportions, relief and rescue workers got there as fast as was humanly possible. It's not easy to get supplies to people who are trapped in a flooded city... especially not when many of the denizens of that fine city take it upon themselves to shoot at their unarmed benefactors. Nice going, guys.

But the two biggest causes of mayhem and death were numbers 1 and 4, and you can lay those squarely at the feet of Mayor Ray Nagin and Chief Eddie Compass respectively. They are yelling and screaming and (in Nagin's case) crying in an effort to divert their own richly-deserved blame onto others. And so far, they're largely succeeding.

UPDATE: And now, at a time when every dollar will be needed for reconstruction, Mayor Nagin is offering free trips to Las Vegas to the failed police force, I guess so they can fence their loot and try to double up in the casinos.

September 4, 2005 in Hurricane Katrina | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 01, 2005

I said GIVE, damn you!

If you're a conservative who moans about welfare, if you're a libertarian who believes the government shouldn't be in the business of doling out charity, if you're a liberal who talks about having compassion for the needy, now is the time to put your money where your mouth is. Get out the checkbook and start writing. If looking at the check doesn't make you wince, add another zero.

I recommend the American Red Cross Hurricane 2005 Relief fund, but they're certainly not the only ones doing good work, and you have a plethora of choices.

Today is Blog for Relief Day, sponsored by The Truth Laid Bear. Instapundit has a roundup of participating bloggers. Give. And, uh, if it's not too much trouble, log your contribution as having been encouraged by this blog :)

September 1, 2005 in Hurricane Katrina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack