Post-Katrina


On the morning of 02 September, Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings, representing the Congressional Black Caucus and appearing on TV, of course, found it necessary to directly (he made clear) address the president by stumbling through a reading of the last third of Matthew 25, thus trivializing the president’s faith, demeaning his own (if he has any), and violating the holy scripture by using it to politicize a natural disaster totally incomprehensible in its magnitude. In the process, of course, he made himself appear as silly and arrogant as it’s possible to be. It doesn’t get any lower than this. If he had just waited a day or so, he would have discovered that his finger-pointing, blatantly political attack upon the president could not in honesty have been proclaimed, simply because the facts would have made him look even more foolish, except, of course, he was not interested in the facts…only in attempting to get even for the Bush victory of last year. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have weighed in with the usual race-card stuff, but, even though the facts will make jackasses out of them, they will never eat enough crow to be credible among reasonable people of all races.

It’s too early to make definitive judgments about l’affaire Katrina, but it’s not too early to make some common-sense judgments. As is often the case anymore, a blogger (think the Dan Rather fraud regarding the Texas Air National Guard) has something of interest to say, and it no doubt will be borne out as true. In fact, the following or similar material is already the subject of talk radio and comes from one of the highest-profile bloggers in the nation, Ann Althouse, a law professor in Madison, Wisconsin: Behind the scenes, a power struggle emerged, as federal officials tried to wrest authority from Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D). Shortly before midnight Friday [Aug. 26], the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans, a source within the state’s emergency operations center said Saturday. The administration sought unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. Some officials in the state suspected a political motive behind the request. “Quite frankly, if they’d been able to pull off taking it away from the locals, they then could have blamed everything on the locals,” said the source, who does not have the authority to speak publicly. The hurricane was politicized long before the mainstream media got hold of it, but by the politicians, not the ignorant reporters, print, TV and otherwise, who caterwauled all over the place about how the federal government had mistreated poor black people in New Orleans. This is truly sickening. Their own people, both city and state, sold them out, and a day of reckoning will come.

There also is word out that President Bush was in contact with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, an African American, well in advance of the storm’s onslaught on the morning of Aug. 29, urging him to evacuate the city. It apparently had been reported that 68-foot waves were churning through the Gulf as Katrina approached. The mayor had at his disposal hundreds of school-buses, as well as city buses and other forms of transportation. He did little more than finally (if memory serves, sometime Sunday, the 28th) tell everyone to get out, but did not move one bus to get anyone out, even though thousands had no means of transportation. He did direct people to the Superdome, where he had provided no food, no water, no toilet facilities – nothing, in short. Citizens also went to the Convention Center, where there were no food, water, toilets – in short, no provisions for some 70,000 people altogether. Thousands more were simply trapped in their homes. Some one-third of the city’s policemen disappeared, and anarchy overtook the city. But for the intransigence of local and state officials, the looting, shooting, sniping, and other atrocities might have been avoided, because the Army and the National Guard could have been on the scene. Also, National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield in Miami called Nagin at home Saturday night and told him: Get people out of New Orleans. ''I could never sleep if I felt like I didn't do everything that I could to impress upon people the gravity of the situation,'' Mayfield said. “New Orleans is never going to be the same.'' After it was much too late, the local officials finally carried out the procedures required by law for the federal government to act…and that’s the rest – or some of the rest – of the story. It needs to be remembered – guaranteed by the Constitution, no less – that army troops cannot enter an area in this country to maintain law unless requested by a governor. National Guard troops also are deployed by the governor.

FEMA and the Bush administration in general have been so thoroughly and unfairly castigated, ridiculed, and otherwise blatantly attacked by the mainstream media for being too little and too late that one’s mind is boggled that the fourth estate has devolved into such disrepair and outright dishonesty, when it supposedly stands for the reporting of truth, that what little credibility it has enjoyed will be lost once the truth is known. Even Fox News, with its slogan of Fair and Balanced – We Report, You Decide so distorted the government’s role that it will find the public snickering at the caterwauling, hysterical rantings of its stars such as Shepard Smith and Geraldo, the news celebrity of such renown that he must be recognized by only one name (like the supermodels in almost nonexistent bathing suits) instead of the two names associated with plain folks. Fox pooh-bah John Gibson was almost ballistic when on Sept. 5 he called for the firing of somebody, preferably the FEMA director, but at least somebody connected with the administration. With the exception of Gibson who frantically did a 180 on the sixth, placing the blame squarely upon Nagin and Governor Blanco, though still screaming for a firing, these guys deserve to be fired, especially Geraldo, who has sullied the news establishment anyway (think the Al Capone caper of a few years ago) by making himself into some sort of world-traveling star reporter who makes sure to put on an act wherever he is. He has manipulated the gullible and honorable military to a sickening degree, whether in this country or any other.

One expects the usual culprits – ABC, NBC, CBS and the east and west coast “biggie” newspapers to shovel out their garbage-laden agenda, and they didn’t disappoint this time. Their angry/whining/simpering/accusing reporters, ignorant of the facts, attacked Bush viciously, making sure that the pictures of misery included lots and lots of African Americans, when all the while every soul in the disaster area, twice the size of Kentucky or of Great Britain, had Bush and his compassionate conservatism to thank for whatever good was accomplished, and almost completely by white folks, at that. Clearly, no one was at home officially on the local level. Perhaps the most glaring example occurred on Meet the Press on Sunday morning, the fourth. Moderator Tim Russert finally asked the president of New Orleans Jefferson Parish a question about the actions taken by New Orleans officials (actually non-actions), only to be cut off immediately by the man, Aaron Broussard, who went into a long caterwauling, semi-hysterical tale about his top emergency-action honcho not being able between Tuesday and Friday of going to a nursing home and retrieving his own mother. Russert just let him rage, never thinking, apparently, that the official had control over all the vehicles and boats and could have done whatever he wanted. Actually, the man was not to be believed at all, but sorely needed to think up something to change the subject.

If Mayor Nagin is right about there being 10,000 deaths to expect, they most likely will be the vulnerable such as nursing home occupants or other old, sick folks. The city has had no toilet facilities to handle human waste since the storm struck over a week ago. The battered region has between 140,000 and 160,000 flooded homes and more than 500 sewage treatment plants that are inoperable, along with 25 major sewage treatment plants that need examination. There are an additional 35 "intermediate" sized sewage treatment plants possibly submerged, as well as 470 minor plants. Not all of the treatment centers are damaged, but some are backed up or underwater. An expert revealed during ABC news on the sixth that fecal matter in the streets is 45,000 times the allowed figure for swimming facilities. One cringes at the thought of the diseases that might emerge from the germ-incubation period in people scattered all over the country.

There will be hearings, of course, and people such as House Minority Leader Pelosi, who is calling for the firing of FEMA Director Brown, will be embarrassed. The rush to judgment is already being neutralized somewhat, a good example being that of ABC Evening News on the 6th, in which it was finally revealed that the initial responses (or non-responses) by Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco were disastrous. For instance, FEMA had supplies only 30 miles away, but couldn’t turn a wheel until allowed by law…through cooperation by Blanco…too late.

Actually, no one could have foreseen this disaster because nothing like it has ever happened, i.e., a whole city of some 470,000 or so people submerged because of the failure of levees. The finger-pointing, especially by the hopelessly biased media, needs to be stopped, but, of course, not until after NBC’s Katie Couric and CBS maven Dianne Sawyer have finished their photo-ops, along with super-actor Sean Penn, slogging around New Orleans and either trying to get people to cry or rant against George Bush. Disgusting!