Passing Out the Blame

First off, it’s late, I’m tired, and hormonally cranky, so be ye forewarned.

This New Orleans thing? Horrible. Absolutely horrible. Even if only half of the rumors/media reports are true, this is an absolute tragedy. I’m not attempting to minimize that.

HOWever…why is it that the only level of government that I see being blamed is the federal gov’t in general, and Bush in specific? Why not the state of Louisiana, and Gov. Blanco, for failure to make & implement evacuation and rescue strategies for a disaster that was known to be coming, we just didn’t know when? This situation (cat 4 or 5 hurricane with levee breach) has been predicted for decades. They can’t pretend that this is somehow news.

Why not the city of New Orleans, and Mayor Nagin? Even without a state-level evacuation/rescue plan, they could have formulated one at a city level, again, for a disaster that was long known to be coming. Even without a plan, why did they not use the hundreds of city schoolbuses available before the hurricane hit (or even before the flooding began, during the hours between the hurricane’s departure and the beginning of flooding) to evacuate individuals who had no other way out of town? (By the way, the image only shows 1/2, if that, of the buses in that parking lot – I just couldn’t find the full satellite image at this hour. Lo siento mucho. 9/4/05 ETA: Here’s a better bus picture.)

If you want to blame Bush & the feds (and that’s OK with me), you really need to be blaming Blanco, the state of Louisiana, Nagin and the city of New Orleans. Across the nation, the first level of responsibility for a city’s welfare in any potential disaster belongs to the city government (see also Floridian cities during the frequent hurricanes, Midwest cities during tornadoes, etc.) If the city can’t hack it, or has a problem bigger than they can manage, it goes to the state level, after which a governor may declare a state of emergency, provide addt’l funds, etc. If all that’s still too much for the state to handle, it only then goes to the feds. This disaster, of course, jumped through all those hoops in about 0.2 nanoseconds, as it’s truly a disaster of mythic proportions, but the point is the same. Why are the feds to blame, and with no blame placed on the state or the city for their collective failure to prepare?

Additionally, why is Bush 43 the only president to blame, when it has been known since at least Hurricane Camille in 1969 that a direct hit on New Orleans by a category 4 or 5 hurricane would certainly result in levee failure, resulting in major flooding of the below-sea-level city? So, by all means, let’s blame Bush 43, Clinton, Bush 41, Reagan, Carter, Ford and Nixon for this debacle. It’s all of their faults! Nevermind that the section of the levee that gave way had actually recently been improved, and was one of the stronger sections of the levee at the time. The levees were never designed to stand up to anything stronger than a cat 3, based on available risks & benefits calculated by the Army Corps of Engineers. See also the Chicago Tribune re: this.

Any ideas?

Anyone?

Anyone?

Bueller?

Wait for it.

One of these things is not like the others:

Mayor Nagin (D)
Governor Blanco (D)
President Bush (R)

Thank you, and good night. I’ll be here all week. Tip your waitresses. Enjoy the sirloin, and make a donation to the Salvation Army.

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6 Comments on “Passing Out the Blame”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Preach it Kate!

    Yeah, our media bites, regurgitating any and all blamecasting. Sometimes bad things happen and sometimes, God forbid, they happen to Americans, in spite of our exceptionalism. Poeple need to pass the blame and unlucky Bush is where it stopped. But he’s still a chode for playing golf the day after.
    /alan

  2. Anonymous Says:

    A ‘toon for Ted
    Up-starts, up-smarts and other cranks & dilettantes adorn a media scene once renown for excellence, so this journal will attempt to point out the more obvious foibles of the local press to our gentle readers …
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  3. Anonymous Says:

    There’s more than enough plame to go around, I agree with you there.

    It’s very frightening to me that The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency took four whole days to get to NO. Homeland Security is now primarily responsible for large-scale disasters, including natural disasters, that beset our nation. The agency was created for that purpose. Billions of dollars and years of preparation have gone into making it a rapid-response federal agency. This was the first test of the Department’s preparedness and it failed pretty miserably. That’s scary. When the terrorists strike again, is this the level of response we can expect to see from the feds?

    Will the reaction be to just let the disaster area sink or swim based on the competency of the local emergency-response? New York did ok for two days without the feds because they were comparatively well-prepared to deal with a large-scale emergency. NO did miserably for four days because they were caught with their pants down. Isn’t Homeland Security supposed to be right there no matter what? Respond rapidly first, pull back later if not needed? That’s what I’d hope for from the federal government (and the billions of tax dollars that’ve gone to fund Homeland Security).

    Not entirely disagreeing with you, though.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    i agree with the comment directly above. also, if we want to look at the partisan nature of things, let’s not forget that both the mayor and governor of NY at the time of 9/11 were republicans and both Ds and Rs were unanimous in their praise for how they handled the situation.

    as i see it, the feds’ failure last week is a separate and distinct issue from the failure of the LA govt and NO govt to deal adequately with the disaster.

    how the feds respond is a much bigger issue because it impacts the entire nation and suggests what the quality of their response will be in future crises, wherever they may occur.

  5. Care Says:

    I’m very tired of all the fingerpointing and blame placing. Really it is pointless right now, when energy is better expended on assisting the survivors and the efforts to recover from the devestation. There will be ample time further down the road to dissect this to death, and hopefully learn from all the mistakes. ~CarolynG

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Hey, Kate! Carrie here. Just surfing around and stumbled on your blog. Interesting stuff, even though I disagree with your argument and conclusion. And I voted for Bush. Twice! Anyway, take care.


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