Katrina: A roundup

Reading all of all of them is recommended.

The Machine Stops
By Thomas Lipscomb at Tech Central Station

Those who dream of the perfectibility of human institutions through increasingly, compulsorily collective government will always attack the highest levels of government when it does fail. Republicans and Democrats alike have created huge institutions like the Departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development, and now Homeland Security, built on dreams that can never meet the excessive demands placed upon them.

If we are to learn anything from the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina, we will have to review the more practical expectations of the Framers of our Federal system. Local and state government are the primary responders. To keep their powers and responsibility intact the Federal Government is a resource they must administer wisely and decisively. Focusing on the habitual incoherence of Bush Administration communications is beside the point. There is no excuse for ignoring the key failures of local and state government in facing the challenge of Hurricane Katrina. Doing so will only ensure the next disaster.

Storms of Stupidity on the Op-Ed Pages
By Will Wilkinson at Tech Central Station

When principled limitations to the scope of government are absent, the necessities of government become mere side projects of vote hunting glad-handers and pork sniffing crony-bureaucrats. When government is unbounded, it is always left impotent to prioritize and coordinate on its most necessary functions. New Orleans is paying for the failure to limit government, for the profligate abuse of the notion of the public good.

Making the worst of a bad situation
Bob Weir at The American Thinker

The city and the state were always aware of the perilous position of New Orleans below sea level. But the lack of preparation for such a cataclysmic event, was not blamed on them, but directed at Bush. This is tantamount to an admission that individual states have no responsibility for their own destiny in the worldview of the Bush-bashers. It also proves that every negative occurrence in America will inevitably be laid at the steps of the White House, at least until the next Democrat moves in. While liberal politicians and commentators were filling their quills with poisonous arrows and putting a bulls-eye on Bush, the victims of Katrina were just as dead, just as hungry, just as homeless and just as destitute as they would have been no matter who the Chief Executive was.

To suggest that a President Clinton, or Gore, or Kerry, could have done more is to use a national tragedy as a political football, and should be met with the same contempt shown to those who would loot jewelry stores during such a disaster. One New York Times editor, speaking on ABC News, insinuated sarcastically that presidential advisor, Karl Rove was probably making the decisions for the rescue effort. Sadly, these Bush haters are so filled with bile they can’t conjure up a thought that isn’t predicated on building a platform for the next liberal to occupy the Oval Office.

Human tempests befell us after Katrina
By Victor Davis Hanson in the Honolulu Advertiser

“In peace and prosperity, states and individuals have better sentiments because they do not find themselves suddenly confronted with imperious necessities; but war takes away the easy supply of daily wants, and so proves a rough master that brings most men’s characters to a level with their fortunes.”

So the historian Thucydides explained, some 2,400 years ago, the grotesque rampages during a revolution on the island of Corfu.

…[In present day New Orleans] the stranded somehow assumed that government services could provide instant succor at ground zero of a biblical catastrophe. When such agencies could not, looters stole appliances (despite having no electricity). With little food, some filched liquor. In the midst of water everywhere, arsonists managed to ignite a mall. With roads impassable, others still roamed the city widely to rape women and shoot at police.

In response, Jesse Jackson jetted in not to organize self-help brigades but only to inflame by calling the mayhem “the hull of a slave ship.” Civil rights activist Randall Robinson, without a shred of evidence, immediately alleged — and later retracted — charges of cannibalism: “(B)lack hurricane victims in New Orleans have begun eating corpses to survive.”

Stand Up to Them, Mr. President
By Pat Buchanan at Real Clear Politics

Now, about these race charges. Yes, the vast majority of those who refused to leave or were left behind and wound up in the squalor and terror of the Superdome and convention center were black. But, so, too, is that klutz of a mayor, many of the cops who fled, and nearly all the looters and rapists.

But most of the Army and Guard troops and U.S. agents pouring in to restore order and almost all of the rescue workers are white, a fact the race-baiters ignore, not wanting truth to dilute the purity of their hate crimes.

Katrina and the Political Waves
By Lee Harris at Tech Central Station

Because Americans [via the Patriot Act and the new bureaucracy of Home;land Security] had bestowed so much new power on the federal government, in order to protect them from terrorism, they naturally assumed that this discretionary power would be tapped at the first appearance of any genuine state of emergency. After all, Americans authorized the federal government immense new powers, precisely so that red-tape and bureaucratic obstacles could be swept away in face of a serious life-and-death crisis. Yet when that crisis came, Americans discovered that while they had given the state extraordinary powers to protect them, the state had no clue how to use these powers for that purpose. Americans thought they were empowering central government in order to make it efficient, agile, and swift in response; in fact, they were merely bloating it with additional bureaucracies and men of such startling mediocrity that they could only have been appointed by one another.

Deadly Bureaucracy
In Katrina’s wake, red tape too often trumped common sense.
BY BOBBY JINDAL at Opinion Journal

This is not the only story of red tape triumphing over common sense. After so many years of drills and exercises, we were still unprepared for Hurricane Katrina.

• A mayor in my district tried to get supplies for his constituents, who were hit directly by the hurricane. He called for help and was put on hold for 45 minutes. Eventually, a bureaucrat promised to write a memo to his supervisor.

• Evacuees on a boat from St. Bernard Parish could not find anyone to give them permission to dock along the Mississippi River. Security forces, they say, were prepared to turn them away at one port.

• A sheriff in my district office reported being told that he would not get the resources his office needed to do its job unless he emailed a request. The parish was flooded and without electricity!

• Unbelievably, first responders were hindered by a lack of interoperable communications. Do you recall how New York police and fire departments on 9/11 could not talk with each other? Four years later, despite billions spent on homeland security, state, federal, and local officials in Louisiana had the same problem.

…[Nonetheless, t]he first responders, in combination with our military forces, saved 9,500-plus lives, assisted 102,800 people, and evacuated 22,000 refugees. More then 9.9 million Meals Ready to Eat and 6.6 million gallons of water were distributed. As I write this column, 1,200 buses are in transit taking refugees to shelters across the country.

In coming days, there will be many more such stories, both tragic and heroic. There will be stunning examples of depravity, in which lives were needlessly lost and permanently damaged. But there will be inspiring examples of individuals who sacrificed all so that others might live.

The Hull of a Slave Ship
Shelby H. Williams at The American Thinker

20 year old Jabbar Gibson took (looted, found) a bus from a school bus depot, and en route out of the city proceeded to fill it to capacity with folks of all sorts, driving it to Houston, pooling the passengers’ money to refuel it along the way. Jabbar took responsibility for sixty to eighty New Orleans victims of hurricane Katrina. Yet the world watched New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin as he couldn’t even take responsibility for himself.

As has been noted ceaselessly in the media, the majority of those left behind as New Orleans sank into an ever-worsening calamity, both environmental and human, were black. “So poor… and so black” as Wolf Blitzer now famously stated. The Reverend Jesse Jackson, in classic form, baited, saying,

“This looks like the hull of a slave ship.”

The allusion is more real than he imagined.

It has also been said that those who remained did not have the means to leave. But as New Orleans filled up like a cauldron and the need turned from weathering the fierce power of a hurricane to fleeing a doomed city, Jabbar Gibson demonstrated that they most certainly did have the means.

The poor of New Orleans corralled at the Superdome and the Convention Center were assured and confident, at first, that the government (many prefacing that word with “Federal”) would deliver them and take care of them. After all, that’s what they had been led to believe. This turned to bewilderment as their hallowed governmental savior failed to appear, then to frustration and despair, and finally into utter and miserable helplessness.

As the helpless crowd milled and waited and sank into anarchy, yes, appallingly, it did resemble the hull of a slave ship. And it was you, Reverend Jackson, and your ilk who enslaved them.

Where to Point the Fingers
By Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post

This kind of stupidity merits no attention whatsoever, but I’ll give it a paragraph. There is no relationship between global warming and the frequency and intensity of Atlantic hurricanes. Period. The problem with the evacuation of New Orleans is not that National Guardsmen in Iraq could not get to New Orleans but that National Guardsmen in Louisiana did not get to New Orleans. As for the Bush tax cuts, administration budget requests for New Orleans flood control during the five Bush years exceed those of the five preceding Clinton years. The notion that the allegedly missing revenue would have been spent wisely by Congress, targeted precisely to the levees of New Orleans, and that the reconstruction would have been completed in time, is a threefold fallacy. The argument ends when you realize that, as The Post noted, “the levees that failed were already completed projects.”