Civil Responsibility
September 3, 2005

This will be my second third to last post on Hurricane Katrina. I'm not beating this horse any longer. On the rare occasion of a free Saturday, I've spent much of today pondering the events of this week, considering what I personally should be doing, and trying to make sense of all the emotion flying around. While I do not believe this is the time to be assigning blame for why this country is facing such a disaster (can we please get people to safety first?), certain ignorance provokes it.

If I read one more person say that President Bush needs to be impeached because of this, I am going to be sick. Carelessly suggesting presidential impeachment is almost as ignorant an accusation as those who proclaim in front of the cameras, "I'm going to take this all the way to the Supreme Court!" It's emotional, but not founded in reality. And trust me, I am sympathetic. Chances are, if Clinton's scandalous self were in office, I'd be blaming him too. I'd be in the wrong, but I'd be doing it nonetheless. It's very easy to make the adversary the eternal enemy by default.

There are two realms within which this tragedy can be understood: the natural and the spiritual. Owning up to the spiritual reasons why humanity faces certain suffering is too controversial to discuss at this time. Let's deal in the natural.

Much blame-shifting has taken place around the question of who has responsibility for the city of New Orleans. To answer that question, fellow CB member Darmon Thornton appropriate links to a succinct comment left on the "Blogs for Bush site (I know, the site name is ironic)." I think both the commenter and Darmon effectively snap us out of our emotional haze with some painful realities:

In case you aren't familiar with how our government is SUPPOSED to work. The chain of responsibility for the protection of the citizens in New Orleans is:

1. The Mayor
2. The New Orleans director of Homeland Security (a political appointee of the Governor who reports to the Governor)
3. The Governor
4. The Head of Homeland Security
5. The President

What did each do?

1. The mayor, with 5 days advance, waited until 2 days before he announced a mandatory evacuation (at the behest of the President). The he failed to provide transportation for those without transport even though he had hundreds of buses at his disposal.

2. The New Orleans director of Homeland Security failed to have any plan for a contingency that has been talked about for 50 years. Then he blames the Feds for not doing what he should have done. (So much for political appointees)

3. The Governor, despite a declaration of disaster by the President 2 DAYS BEFORE the storm hit, failed to take advantage of the offer of Federal troops and aid. Until 2 DAYS AFTER the storm hit.

4. The Director of Homeland Security positioned assets in the area to be ready when the Governor called for them

5. The President urged a mandatory evacuation, and even declared a disaster State of Emergency, freeing up millions of dollars of federal assistance, should the Governor decide to use it.

Oh and by the way, the levees that broke were the responsibility of the local landowners and the local levee board to maintain, NOT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

The disaster in New Orleans is what you get after decades of corrupt (democrat) government going all the way back to Huey Long. Funds for disaster protection and relief have been flowing into this city for decades, and where has it gone, but into the pockets of the politicos and their friends. Decades of socialist government in New Orleans has sapped all self reliance from the community, and made them dependent upon government for every little thing.

Political correctness and a lack of will to fight crime have created the single most corrupt police force in the country, and has permitted gang violence to flourish. The sad thing is that there are many poor folks who have suffered and died needlessly because those that they voted into office failed them.

Now that will Preach.

Read the rest of the discussion (minus the one bad word) on Mayor Nagin, lack of preparedness, and the bye you get as black politician. Forget political sides. We have got to be rational about assigning accountability.

Posted by Ambra at September 3, 2005 3:59 PM in Current Events
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I think it's a gaucheness of the highest stank to be playing a political blame game while this incredible crisis is still in effect. there'll be plenty of time for fingerpointing in a few weeks. That said, I suspect what a lot of people are charged up about is the fact that it seems like the president could have done more, sooner. Afterall, he's the one with ultimate power and authority so he's a no-brainer figure to look to when a catastrophe of this magnitude strikes.

Some situations necessitate looking past who's to "blame" and the whole "chain of command" thing and demand immediate, forceful and decisive action. Nevermind the who said what beforehand, it's about how are we dealing with the here and NOW?

It feels weird to suggest the president was afraid of stepping on toes, waiting til he got the proper paperwork to crack the whip. It smells funny when it's suggested the president couldn't have ordered as many troops/resources down there as necessary in double scramble time. Afterall, isn't it still true that where there's a will, there's a way?

We give the president more power than he deserves. I have always said that here.

Political correctness and a lack of will to fight crime have created the single most corrupt police force in the country,

PC has nothing to do with fighting crime in NOLA.

New Orleans and Louisianna have a strong culture of public corruption that goes back long before PC became the faux issue that it is.

"PC has nothing to do with fighting crime in NOLA.

New Orleans and Louisianna have a strong culture of public corruption that goes back long before PC became the faux issue that it is."

It's true that the strong culture of public corrpution dates back to the days before PC culture. But political correctness has everything to do with the failure to change such an entrenched culture today.

Point 1. They can blame federal funding and levees til the cows come home. The fact is, there is not a levee built anywhere that is PROEN to sustain a CAT 4 or 5 hurricane.

Point 2. There can and will be soemthing WORSE than a WORST case scenario (hence the lack of responsibility in even trying to clear that city is shocking)

"It feels weird to suggest the president was afraid of stepping on toes, waiting til he got the proper paperwork to crack the whip."

Like when the President called the Governor and asked her to go make the evacuation mandatory? Like when he declared the region a disaster area before Katrina struck... (Last time he did just that was when Charlie hit and was slammed for it by his political opponents.)

Federalism isn't just "proper paperwork."

I do have one prediction about the imminent future Congressional investigation. It will determine (among finding thousands of faults everywhere but with Congress) that rolling FEMA operations into Homeland Security was a poor decision. It will also determine that an even larger and more cumbersome centralized national bureaucracy is the solution.

Hey Eric. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not claiming I know what happened before the event. I'm not getting into that. Right now, it doesn't really matter a whit. The stories will all come out in the wash over the next few weeks.

I'm emphasizing what happened AFTER the 'cane hit. I think a lot of ppl are feelin like there wasn't a sense of urgency about a rescue, as if they really mattered. I do realize that when stuff like this hits, even a milisecond's delay seems like an eternity, but the vibe is out there anyway and there is cause for traction. Eventually, some semblance of the truth will out.

This question is for anyone, not ambra per say. I found myself in a discussion earlier. Can anyone shed light on why so many blacks in New Orleans are so poor? (I think its 21,000 that lives below the poverty line). I am an immigrant black and no, I dont think I am better than ANYONE else. But I am always perplexed as to why so many of the blacks that are born here seems so unmotivated to make a better life for themselves. Lets also forget finances for a minute, because I myself is poor. But I am still modest when I leave my home. I live pay check to pay check but I still carry myself with respect. My brothers dont wear 'do rag' on their heads and we speak proper english. I don't think I have the words to express what I am trying to say but I hope you dont think I am being shallow. I just dont understand why the overwhelming number of American blacks seem contend with being so poor, or at least they are not working to GET OUT of poverty. i.e. keep having babies they cannot afford. They don't try to go to school and/or learn to communicate/speak in a way that will enable them to be apart of the workforce. I was shock that SO MANY blacks in that small city of New Orleans live BELOW the poverty line. I guess the next question 'What is considered below the poverty line?'

Thank you, and no offense intended. Just trying to learn and to better understand.

I'm a native New Orleanian who currently lives in Atlanta. My parents and brother were lucky enough to make it out alive and, thankfully, are able to live with me until things get sorted out. I have several relatives who lost everything from the houses in which they lived to the items of clothing on their backs. I say all of that to say that this is more than just an issue of blog debate for me.

There are many folks (including myself) who are searching for some reason about how this lack of disaster preparedness could have happened. I could care less about this post-catastrophe chatter devolving into some political issue between those who love Bush and those who hate him. The reality is that this lack of preparedness cost thousands of people their very lives. People are dead now because the state, local AND federal government were unprepared and/or refused to help people in their most desparate time of need. This is not a political issue; it continues to be a matter of life and death and there are thousands of people (including those who are able to escape) whose lives will never be the same.

Worldview my dear worldview. It can all be summed up in this manner. This is the invisible lense through which all of us see our realities. If you have any group of people where the prevailing view is that of an impoverished fatalist, then you get the result of what you observe. Yes we know that there are many other legislative and institutionalized factors that continue to strenghthen and reinforce this quality of life but the battle begins in the minds of people.

Now I can bet good money that the nation that you are a native to the prevailing image is not the same as what we see in the US. That image of thug,pimp,ho,bootylicious,players with nothing on our minds but partiying and blaming others about our victimhood (via MTV BET UPN etc)

This is by no means exhaustive or prescriptive but I hope it helps you see why people are seemingly trapped in a certain impoverished quality of life generation after generation.

Just something to consider and begin to dialogue about.

AD

Comment left by Renee: "They can blame federal funding and levees til the cows come home. The fact is, there is not a levee built anywhere that is PROEN to sustain a CAT 4 or 5 hurricane"

Probably not, but there are proper precautions that the city should take to lessen the degree of devastation that can occur in situations such as this one.

I think that it might be a good idea to invite a couple of Dutch engineers to the State of Louisiana to help out with the levees, seeing that they have much experience with the building of dikes. If you have ever seen them, you know that they are quite impressive. It is amazing to see the dedication (and money) that this tiny country invests in protecting itself against the sea.....and just think, this country is not plagued by hurricanes. The last flood only killed 100+ people (in the 50's)...yet they know the potential damage that could occur.

As a place that can be hit by hurricanes, New Orleans (and the State of Louisiana) should take proper precautions in the future to prevent disasters such as this one.

memer: "The stories will all come out in the wash over the next few weeks.

And now the Washington Post has a story that at essence is an education in Federalism for Americans whose education in such matters are lacking:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/03/AR2005090301680.html

I understand your sentiment memer.

I'm a member of the Minnesota National Guard. Except other Guard members or past Guard members, I have yet to meet a person who fully understands how the National Guard function when we answer to both a Governor and the President. The above story explains pretty well some of the story that is already coming out.

Thanks for the link, Eric. As the overwhelming bulk of quotes in the piece are from the administration, we can count this as a report of the administration's take on how things went. We'll smartly reserve judgement until the counterspin is loosed. In the meantime we can cross our fingers that all the corner and tide turning is for real and that substantial progress is rippling across the region.

oh, and before I respond to "Shelley," who has all the trappings of a troll, may I have the answers to the following questions first:

1. From where did you emigrate?
2. How long have you lived in the United States?
3. Where do you live presently?

Thank you. If you are a troll, please give me a second to put on my jacket before the hurricane of indignance blows.

whoop, sorry Shel, two more if'n you please:

How old are you and what do your parents/guardians say about it?

But political correctness has everything to do with the failure to change such an entrenched culture today.

Let's see, there have been state and federal charges against the NOLA police, local, and state officials to try to change the culture of corruption that exists in the state.

Let's say I disagree.

If you look on captain quarters blog you will see proof that the mayor is responsible. why doenst jesse jackson ask the BLACK mayor why he didnt use all of the school busses to evacuate the poor. I didntvote for bush but he is not to blame for everything. time will show who was at fault

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/04/national/nationalspecial/04police.html?ei=5090&en=8bf8550c348bbc33&ex=1283486400&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=print

Law Officers, Overwhelmed, Are Quitting the Force
By JOSEPH B. TREASTER

NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 3 - Reeling from the chaos of this overwhelmed city, at least 200 New Orleans police officers have walked away from their jobs and two have committed suicide, police officials said on Saturday.

Some officers told their superiors they were leaving, police officials said. Others worked for a while and then stopped showing up. Still others, for reasons not always clear, never made it in after the storm.

The absences come during a period of extraordinary stress for the New Orleans Police Department. For nearly a week, many of its 1,500 members have had to work around the clock, trying to cope with flooding, an overwhelming crush of refugees, looters and occasional snipers.

How was Louisiana, one of the poorest states in the Union, supposed to pay for the rebuilding of the levees? Magic beans? Credit cards? Didn't Blanco, Nagin, AND the Nat'l Corps of Army Engineers go to the federal gov't and ASK for money time and time again, only to be turned away?

No matter how you try to deflect blame from the president, the fact STILL remains that this was a failure at the city, state, and FEDERAL levels.

actually anyone who lives in the reality based community will undestand things:

1)new orleans has been trying to fix the levees since the 1960's so you can also blame the "first black president" bill clinton

2)the mayor had a plan that they didnt use. he knew during ivan that there were peopkle who had no way to get out and he did not use HIS school busses to get them out

3)the governnor has national guard at her command that she didnt command

4)there are many people who CHOSE not to leave I sw one black woman on larry king who said she left NOLA with her mother and left her children in new orleans with their grandmother

5)even aaron brown who interviewd an official with the engieeres admitted that even if the project was finshed the cat five would have destroyed the levee

So move beyond a "blame bush" mentality and look at facts after watching: cnn, fox, msnbc,
c span, and reading blogs I have come to see that the mayor could have got his people out and he did not. Now again answer why he could not have used his schol buses to get people out and why the governor didnt command her natinal guard. Oh but again you cant blame a black man and a white woman.

Your post is so right on - in fact, I'd vented very similar thoughts just to release some of my frustration and later decided to publish it as a post. How come no one, except blogger-folks, are speaking about this? Believe me, there is enough blame to go around on this issue. Unfortunately, the MSM and Hollywood Elite are once again only jumping the GWB's backside. *shakes head*

I just saw the mayor of NO on CNN. He is telling everyone he TOLD the president and the governor after they got off AF One if they can't decide on sending the feds in, to let him take charge. What a weasel. What a slimy, shameless, weasel.

Shari, even if we were to allow that every word of your comment is true, with no mitigating factors (like, did other presidents cut the levee-fixit budget as severely as George?), what does that have to do with the Federal response after the fact?

Are you implying that the Federal response (assuming they had the best resources to help) was good enough because it wasn't their fault anyway?

Ambra,
I was in New Orleans last month for a reception
honoring Ruth Simmons, Brown's 18th President,
in the French Quarter. Mary Landrieu the senior
senator from LA is the daughter of "Moon" Landrieu the former powerful mayor of New Orleans. A lady who grew up there said the LA has always had the most corrupt state officials. When David Duke took off klan robes for suit and had a facelift, there were bumper stickers "Vote
for the crook" and Edwards won. Of course he
was tried and found guilty. Go back to Huey Long
who claimed to help the poor but made himself
rich in the process. There was money sitting
during the Clinton administration to aid city
that went unspent. Northern LA is very different
from southern LA. New Orleans has rich and poor
with very few middle class. Baton Roudge has
far more middle class and educated of voting age.
LA is relatively rich from oil and gas revenues.
Most of the people with money got out if they
wanted to leave. The black mayor of Baton Roudge
was mad at the mayor of New Orleans.
James M. Barber

Uh, Steven, The death toll, while all of them tragic, is only between 600-700 for the whole area (NOLA is up to about 426); Not "thousands". I understand they have not recovered bodies yet undiscovered, but exaggeration of the facts makes it hard to take your arguements seriously. It is also the blatant type of dishonesty that people like Kanye West peddle to stir up animosity. Let's all just try to help the victims and hold our hatred for later. Or let it go altogether.


You are such a Republican that it is a shame that you don't even know whom to blame. Typical Reps.

Just a small correction on Stacy from the Netherlands.

The last flood in the Netherlands happened in the night of januari 31st and februari 1st 1953. About 1800 people drowned that night, so it is a bit more than just a 100+

About 150,000 hectares (370658 acres) of land was flooded.

Don't forget that democrat Governor Kathleen Blanco forbade the Red Cross to go into the Superdome with food and water for the huddled masses in there.

Aw man, you missed your chance!
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Reflections on the Ill-Read Society
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The Double-Minded Haters
Hindsight
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