A catástrofe de New Orleans

Até agora não havia comentado a catástrofe de New Orleans aqui neste blog. Havia algumas coisas que não conseguia entender ali. Aos poucos as fichas vão caindo. Daqui para a frente vou tecer alguns comentários e distribuir alguns textos que vão na direção oposta daquela que os anti-americanistas de plantão gostariam de crer.

O primeiro desses textos é de Contardo Calligaris, na Folha de hoje (20050908 – transcrevo-o a seguir com a autorização do autor). Lido com atenção, mostra uma linha diferente de análise para a catástrofe.

O segundo é o artigo de Rocco DiPippo, também transcrito abaixo, infelizmente em Inglês, sobre dois furacoes. Ele chama a atenção para o que considero importante na catástrofe de New Orleans.

O terceiro texto, também transcrito abaixo em Inglês, é de Robert Tracinski. Ele vai na mesma linha. 

O quarto texto, também transcrito abaixo em Inglês, é de Ben Johnson. Ele começa a colocar os pingos nos is sobre a questão de quem era a responsabilidade pela evacuação da população de New Orleans e pelas providências que, dias antes, já se mostravam necessárias face ao desastre que se aproximava. A responsabilidade, em primeiro lugar, era de cada um. No plano governamental, entretanto, a responsabilidade era do prefeito de New Orleans — democrata de esquerda e negro. A lei até mesmo proíbe o governo federal de interferir na jurisdição de estados e cidades — sem que seja oficialmente chamado a fazê-lo.

Resumo aqui o que penso.

Os EUA têm sido cena de inúmeros desastres naturais. Entre estes estão os furacões que, todos os anos, assolam a Florida e outros estados do Sul do país (além do Caribe em geral). Em decorrência da passagem desses furacões há, sempre, danos materiais e algumas perdas de vida.

O que impressiona no caso de New Orleans não é só a magnitude dos danos materiais causados pelo furacão Katrina e o número elevado de mortos. O que impressiona é a reação de parte das pessoas que ficaram lá. O que houve ou havia naquela cidade — que nunca houve nas cidades da Florida parcialmente destruídas por furacões no passado — que rapidamente levou parte da população a abraçar a selvageria, pergunta Rocco DiPippo. O que houve ou havia naquela cidade que levou parte de seus habitantes a assassinar e estuprar seus concidadãos já fragilizados pela catástrofe natural? A assaltar e roubar de quem havia ficado para trás? A invadir as casas dos que haviam fugido para saquear mesmo coisas que não eram necessárias para sobreviver ao desastre? Continua Rocco DiPippo: O que levou grupos organizados de habitantes de New Orleans a atirar em que vinha socorrê-los, criando uma cena que mais parecia Bagdad do que uma cidade americana? O que impediu o restante dos habitantes que havia ficado para trás de resistir contra aqueles que tomaram de assalto a cidade?

Rocco DiPippo dá a resposta. E eu acredito que ela esteja, no essencial, correta.

O povo que ficou para trás – e o próprio ato de ficar para trás é sintomático, quando se soube, com bastante antecedência, que o furacão iria passar por ali – nunca aprendeu, e, por isso, provavelmente nunca soube tomar responsabilidade pela própria vida e pela qualidade de vida em sua comunidade. Se um dia soube, desaprendeu ou se desacostumou de fazê-lo. O povo que ficou para trás é a grande vítima do estado paternalista a que damos o nome de "Welfare State" (Estado do Bem-Estar Social) implantado nos Estados Unidos desde a presidência de Franklin D. Roosevelt, mas que cresceu terrivelmente depois de o presidente Lyndon Johnson haver implantado a sua "War on Poverty" (Guerra à Pobreza) na década de 60.

[Como a maioria das iniciativas da esquerda, esses programas se mostram empulhações até mesmo no plano lingüístico: o chamado "Estado do Bem-Estar Social" não produziu bem-estar; a "Guerra à Pobreza" não reduziu a pobreza. Os programas deveriam ser renomeados para "Estado do Mal-Estar Social" e "Guerra à Riqueza"].

O estado paternalista que é o "Welfare State" trata as pessoas como se fossem crianças — e elas se aprendem a se comportar como crianças, como se não fosse responsabilidade sua, quando já adultas, cuidar de si próprio e do que é seu. Os que têm um pouco de iniciativa, nessa comunidade de infantilizados que vivem sob a proteção do governo, se voltam para o tráfico de drogas, a prostituição e o crime: é a única coisa que sabem fazer para adquirir um pouco de auto-estima. Os que não têm nenhuma iniciativa ficam sempre esperando que o governo faça alguma coisa. Reivindicar eles aprendem — como também aprendem rapidamente criticar o governo quando este não atende às suas reivindicações.

É essa a verdadeira tragédia de New Orleans. Os americanos estão acostumados a lidar com tragédias naturais e geralmente se saem bem: as pessoas em regra cumprem as ordens, colocam tábuas em suas janelas e portas, e vão para algum lugar mais seguro. O que surpreende em New Orleans, além da magnitude da tragédia natural, é o nível da tragédia social que o Welfare State vem produzindo, no longo prazo. A tragédia natural vem por iniciativa das forças da natureza — ou de Deus, para quem acredita nele. A tragédia social da inação face ao perigo é uma tragédia social que poderia ter sido evitada — se se soubesse, no passado, aonde iria dar. [É bom que se registre que alguns sabiam, e advertiram a população disso — mas ninguém prestou atenção.]

Agora uma palavra sobre a cobertura da mídia.

Há claras diferenças na cobertura que a mídia faz dessa tragédia americana e a cobertura que tem feito de outras tragédias naturais — como o Tsunami.

No caso do Tsunami, houve reconhecimento geral da mídia de que a mortandade foi causada por um evento natural pelo qual ninguém pode ser culpado — a não ser o todopoderoso ("s’il y en a"). Não houve, na mídia, tentativa de culpar o governo central dos países envolvidos por ter demorado em agir / reagir ou por, quando reagiu, não ter conseguido evitar as conseqüências continuadas da tragédia. A mídia deu cobertura ao esforço dos respectivos países, e da comunidade internacional, para controlar, o máximo possível, os efeitos do desastre.

Apesar de o Tsunami ter acontecido na Ásia, é bom que se registre que houve, na mídia, que tentasse culpar … quem??? o governo americano pela tragédia, por, segundo se alegou, não ter informado a tempo os governos dos países envolvidos da possibilidade de ocorrer um tsunami.

Desta vez, quando a tragédia ocorre em território americano, o caráter de tragédia natural parece ter sido totalmente esquecido. A culpa pelos danos materiais e humanos é do Bush.

Está mais do que provado, primeiro, que o governo federal americano informou o governo dos estados que estavam na rota do furacão que eles seriam atingidos, e recomendou que evacuassem toda a população. A responsabilidade, no plano governamental, é, nesse caso, dos governadores e dos prefeitos das localidades atingidas.

O governo federal americano, diferentemente do brasileiro, tem severas limitações para agir, sem solicitação formal destes, no âmbito dos estados e dos municípios. Os estados americanos possuem MUITO mais autonomia do que os estados brasileiros. Isso tudo é sabido.

No entanto, a culpa é do Bush…

O prefeitinho democrata de New Orleans, negro, por sinal, a hora que viu o tamanho do desastre, usou uma expressão de gosto duvidoso: disse "I am pissed off"… [mais ou menos traduzível como "Estou puto da vida…". Lindo, não? O prefeito está puto da vida com ele mesmo, por não ter percebido a dimensão do desastre que se aproximava (apesar de informado pelo governo federal) e não ter agido? Não, puto da vida com o Bush… E a mídia "repercutindo" tudo isso. Uns mais irados, à lá Michael Moore, dizendo que o governo federal não fez nada porque se tratava de gente em sua maioria negra e pobre. Chegou-se a falar em genocídio. Deu-se a impressão nítida de que o Bush estava afim de aniquilar os negros e pobres de New Orleans.

Tudo isso é ridículo. Como é ridículo ver socialistas e esquerdizantes, em todas as partes do mundo, ficarem procurando qualquer coisa errada que acontece nos EUA (ou até mesmo fora, como no caso do Tsunami), para tentar provar que os EUA, longe de ser uma potência econômica, política, cultural e militar, fosse um paiseco do terceiro mundo.

Em Campinas, 8 de setembro de 2005 (revisto e modificado em 11 de setembro de 2005)

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http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/fsp/ilustrad/fq0809200532.htm
Folha de S. Paulo
8 de setembro de 2005

Nova Orleans e a confiança básica no mundo

Contardo Calligaris

Duas ou três vezes por ano, o prédio onde moro fica sem energia por um tempo. Apesar desses cortes, previstos ou imprevistos, não vivo num suspense energético: sigo esticando o dedo para chamar o elevador, convencido de que, lá em cima, alguém me ama. Sem isso, como aceitaria viver no décimo primeiro andar?

Karl Jaspers, o filósofo alemão, dizia que a ciência pede ao usuário uma espécie de fé. De fato, podemos não saber como funcionam o telefone, a televisão, o cabo, mas acreditamos no seu funcionamento.

Para os psicanalistas, essa fé na ciência e na técnica é parte de uma disposição mais geral: a "confiança básica no mundo". Ela acompanha cada sujeito que viu a luz num ambiente que o acolheu com carinho e simpatia. Suponhamos: ninguém nos chutou quando estávamos no desamparo da primeira infância; quando chorávamos, alguém comparecia (mesmo que fosse para nos enfiar uma chupeta na boca quando, na verdade, precisávamos que trocassem a fralda). Em regra, os que tivemos essa sorte (a grande maioria dos humanos) continuamos pensando durante a vida toda que os outros e o mundo nos querem bem.

Conseqüência: podemos viver na Califórnia, embora esteja certo que a região será devastada por um terremoto; podemos viver numa cidade como Nova Orleans, abaixo do nível do mar, protegida apenas por diques antiquados; podemos viver em andares altos, fora do alcance de qualquer escada de bombeiros.

A confiança básica no mundo é também um alicerce da ordem social, pois ela vale como um lembrete permanente que diz: há alguém que cuida, alguém que se importa. Nos termos de nossa infância: os adultos voltarão para nos dar comida e ainda para verificar se a gente se comporta direito.

Não há pesquisas que meçam o número de interrupções da energia elétrica que é necessário para que eu pare de confiar na Eletropaulo. Em compensação, existe a teoria das janelas quebradas, que, nos anos 90, revolucionou nossas idéias em matéria de manutenção da ordem social (George Kelling e Catherine Coles, "Fixing Broken Windows", arrumando janelas quebradas). Experiência básica em psicologia social: se abandono um carro num bairro de classe media, ele será depenado só depois de oito semanas. Se, antes de abandoná-lo, aplico algumas boas marteladas nos faróis e na lataria, ele será depenado em três dias. Outra: num metrô coberto de grafite a criminalidade é muito mais alta do que no mesmo metrô se ele for lavado e limpado a cada noite.

Por quê? Os faróis quebrados e os grafites assinalam que ninguém se importa. E, se ninguém se importa, tudo é permitido. Será que isso basta para entender as rondas armadas de malfeitores e vigilantes em Nova Orleans?

O prefeito da cidade tentou explicar a onda de saques por indivíduos e gangues lembrando que, além dos serviços básicos, também parou de funcionar o comércio de droga, o que teria deixado alguns sujeitos bem "nervosos". É verdade: faz parte da confiança básica acreditar que o traficante da esquina estará lá de novo amanhã. Mas, para explicar o acontecido, não é preciso recorrer à falta de droga (ou de nicotina).

Em Nova Orleans, a ruína da confiança básica foi brutal: o telefone emudeceu, a força acabou, o celular perdeu o sinal, e ninguém respondia aos gritos de ajuda.

Ora, para alguns, abriu-se assim um tempo de desespero. Para outros, a constatação de que "ninguém se importa" foi sedutora e esperada. Nada de estranho nisso: afinal, saquear lojas de armas e circular pelas ruas à procura de comida, de água, de gasolina e de outros humanos que possam ser aterrorizados é o roteiro de numerosas narrativas populares.

Pense nos filmes da tríade de Mad Max, em "O Mensageiro" e "O Segredo das Águas", em "Fuga de Los Angeles" ou "Fuga de Nova York", ou no romance "The Stand" ("A Dança da Morte"), de Stephen King. Pense em videogames como "Duke Nukem" ou "Doom".

Não conheço um adolescente que, em alguma vez, não tenha sonhado com a destruição do mundo (o mundo em que confiamos) e com a aventura de um recomeço radical.

A primeira tarefa é sempre a de armar-se, porque, num universo zerado, não vale o prestígio dos anos ou da experiência, do saber ou do dinheiro: a autoridade é justamente reduzida à sua expressão mais simples e mais facilmente contestável, que é a força.

Qual é o charme desse momento do lobo?

Acontece que o amor que nos acolhe no mundo, instituindo nossa confiança em "alguém que cuida", torna-nos devedores ou, no mínimo, reféns de um passado que é a história dos outros que já estavam lá e nos receberam. Por isso a catástrofe que acaba com nossa confiança no mundo é a última fronteira da autonomia: se não há mais alguém que cuida, ninguém nos antecede, ninguém está acima da gente: somos livres como só pode ser livre quem não tem história.

É a versão extrema do mito, moderno e banal, do "self-made man", o homem que não precisa de ninguém.

Aposto que, nas ruas de Nova Orleans, há alguns desapontados com a volta gradual a um mundo "confiável".

@ – ccalligari@uol.com.br

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http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=19383
FrontPage Magazine | FrontPageMagazine.com | September 6, 2005

A Tale of Two Hurricanes

By Rocco DiPippo

In 1857 the steamship S.S. Central America was plying a route between Panama and New York City. On board the ship were 578 men, women and children from every strata of American society who were returning from the California Gold Rush.

Some of them had made fortunes panning for gold. Most of them hadn’t. The ship’s passengers were truly a collection of "haves" and "have nots."

One hundred fifty miles off the coast of the Carolinas, the Central America, with three tons of gold in her hold, got caught in a hurricane and within three days was slowly pounded to pieces.

In light of what we saw recently happen in New Orleans, it would be easy to assume that the people on board the Central America lost all sense of civility once their situation became hopeless. It would be easy to assume that they lost all self-control and tore each other to pieces.

They didn’t.

The loss of life and property caused by Hurricane Katrina is unprecedented in American history. But it is what happened to the social fabric of New Orleans after Katrina passed that is the real story, the real tragedy of the thing.

After major disasters strike, wreckage can be cleared, homes and businesses rebuilt and infrastructure brought back on line – that is the easy part of recovering from such disasters. What is not so easy is to restore the sense of community and civility that existed before a place was ravaged by nature or man.

The ease of such social restoration is directly proportional to the sense of community and the level of civility that existed in a place before it was physically damaged or destroyed. New Orleans’ pre-disaster crime rate was ten times the national average. Given this and the fact that, during the recent crisis there, many of its citizens chose the law of the jungle over the rule of law, it is easy to conclude that the restoration of New Orleans’ social fabric will be an impossible task.

I have never lived in nor have I ever visited New Orleans. I don’t first-hand know its sights, sounds or people. I must ask: What was it in that city that, after the storm had passed, quickly made men embrace savagery? What caused people there to rape and to murder, to steal from the desperate, to loot things unconnected to survival? What caused organized groups of people to attempt murder on those coming to save them? Why didn’t their neighbors – the good people- band together to stop them from doing those things? The answer is simple: For the last forty years they had been taught by the creators of the Welfare State that they were permanently absolved from the responsibility of tending to their lives.

There have always been mishaps and disasters, natural and otherwise, that have tested humans to the breaking point and beyond. Many, many times, people facing extreme hardship or near-certain deaths have put the welfare of others ahead of their own. What happened on board the S.S. Central America in 1857 provides a shining example of what happens when disaster brings out the best in men.

As the ship slowly sank, the men on board worked to exhaustion pumping her out. They did this knowing full-well that they were only postponing the inevitable since the ship was taking on water faster than they could empty her. They were buying time. They were protecting the women and children on board. They were refusing to die without a fight to live.

The women on board, like the men, were worn out by sea-sickness, lack of sleep, the ship’s careening and its wet sweltering interior. Nevertheless, they tended to the men, feeding their spirits with kind words of encouragement. There was not a single instance of uncivil behavior among the ship’s passengers as each and every one of them looked death in the eye. Not a single instance of predation. Not a single act of cowardice among anyone on that ship as death loomed large over it.

Another ship, itself crippled by the storm, was still somehow able to send its lifeboats to the Central America. In a final act of heroism William Herndon, the Central America’s captain, and his crew loaded the women and children onto those boats and transferred them to the other ship. The lifeboats couldn’t get back to pick up the men – Herndon knew in advance that this would likely be the case. Four hundred twenty six men, including Captain Herndon, drowned.

As the Central America slowly foundered, all the passengers aboard her thought they would die. They were sick, hot, thirsty, hungry and at the limits of endurance. Yet the social order on board remained intact. Civility triumphed and the good in man shined through his dark core up to the moment that the wrecked ship slipped beneath the waves.

There are, no doubt, many brave and righteous individuals in the City of New Orleans. But there is also a widespread sickening savagery afoot there, as there is in every major urban center in America. A dysfunctional helpless class of people has been created by having been taught to despise the things that bring true satisfaction in life, the things that made the doomed passengers on the S.S. Central America care for each other; the things that propelled this country to prominence and its people to greatness.

Katrina’s winds laid it bare for all to see.

[Rocco DiPippo, a free lance political writer, publishes The Autonomist blog and contributes to David Horowitz’s Moonbat Central group blog.]

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http://realclearpolitics.com/Commentary/com-9_4_05_RT.html

The welfare state

Robert Tracinski

It has taken four long days for state and federal officials to figure out how to deal with the disaster in New Orleans. I can’t blame them, because it has also taken me four long days to figure out what is going on there. The reason is that the events there make no sense if you think that we are confronting a natural disaster.

If this is just a natural disaster, the response for public officials is obvious: you bring in food, water, and doctors; you send transportation to evacuate refugees to temporary shelters; you send engineers to stop the flooding and rebuild the city’s infrastructure. For journalists, natural disasters also have a familiar pattern: the heroism of ordinary people pulling together to survive; the hard work and dedication of doctors, nurses, and rescue workers; the steps being taken to clean up and rebuild.

Public officials did not expect that the first thing they would have to do is to send thousands of armed troops in armored vehicle, as if they are suppressing an enemy insurgency. And journalists–myself included–did not expect that the story would not be about rain, wind, and flooding, but about rape, murder, and looting.

But this is not a natural disaster. It is a man-made disaster.

The man-made disaster is not an inadequate or incompetent response by federal relief agencies, and it was not directly caused by Hurricane Katrina. This is where just about every newspaper and television channel has gotten the story wrong.

The man-made disaster we are now witnessing in New Orleans did not happen over the past four days. It happened over the past four decades. Hurricane Katrina merely exposed it to public view.

The man-made disaster is the welfare state.

For the past few days, I have found the news from New Orleans to be confusing. People were not behaving as you would expect them to behave in an emergency–indeed, they were not behaving as they have behaved in other emergencies. That is what has shocked so many people: they have been saying that this is not what we expect from America. In fact, it is not even what we expect from a Third World country.

When confronted with a disaster, people usually rise to the occasion. They work together to rescue people in danger, and they spontaneously organize to keep order and solve problems. This is especially true in America. We are an enterprising people, used to relying on our own initiative rather than waiting around for the government to take care of us. I have seen this a hundred times, in small examples (a small town whose main traffic light had gone out, causing ordinary citizens to get out of their cars and serve as impromptu traffic cops, directing cars through the intersection) and large ones (the spontaneous response of New Yorkers to September 11).

So what explains the chaos in New Orleans?

To give you an idea of the magnitude of what is going on, here is a description from a Washington Times story:

"Storm victims are raped and beaten; fights erupt with flying fists, knives and guns; fires are breaking out; corpses litter the streets; and police and rescue helicopters are repeatedly fired on.

"The plea from Mayor C. Ray Nagin came even as National Guardsmen poured in to restore order and stop the looting, carjackings and gunfire….

"Last night, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said 300 Iraq-hardened Arkansas National Guard members were inside New Orleans with shoot-to-kill orders.

" ‘These troops are…under my orders to restore order in the streets,’ she said. ‘They have M-16s, and they are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill and they are more than willing to do so if necessary and I expect they will.’ "

The reference to Iraq is eerie. The photo that accompanies this article shows National Guard troops, with rifles and armored vests, riding on an armored vehicle through trash-strewn streets lined by a rabble of squalid, listless people, one of whom appears to be yelling at them. It looks exactly like a scene from Sadr City in Baghdad.

What explains bands of thugs using a natural disaster as an excuse for an orgy of looting, armed robbery, and rape? What causes unruly mobs to storm the very buses that have arrived to evacuate them, causing the drivers to drive away, frightened for their lives? What causes people to attack the doctors trying to treat patients at the Super Dome?

Why are people responding to natural destruction by causing further destruction? Why are they attacking the people who are trying to help them?

My wife, Sherri, figured it out first, and she figured it out on a sense-of-life level. While watching the coverage last night on Fox News Channel, she told me that she was getting a familiar feeling. She studied architecture at the Illinois Institute of Chicago, which is located in the South Side of Chicago just blocks away from the Robert Taylor Homes, one of the largest high-rise public housing projects in America. "The projects," as they were known, were infamous for uncontrollable crime and irremediable squalor. (They have since, mercifully, been demolished.)

What Sherri was getting from last night’s television coverage was a whiff of the sense of life of "the projects." Then the "crawl"–the informational phrases flashed at the bottom of the screen on most news channels–gave some vital statistics to confirm this sense: 75% of the residents of New Orleans had already evacuated before the hurricane, and of the 300,000 or so who remained, a large number were from the city’s public housing projects. Jack Wakeland then gave me an additional, crucial fact: early reports from CNN and Fox indicated that the city had no plan for evacuating all of the prisoners in the city’s jails–so they just let many of them loose. There is no doubt a significant overlap between these two populations–that is, a large number of people in the jails used to live in the housing projects, and vice versa.

There were many decent, innocent people trapped in New Orleans when the deluge hit–but they were trapped alongside large numbers of people from two groups: criminals–and wards of the welfare state, people selected, over decades, for their lack of initiative and self-induced helplessness. The welfare wards were a mass of sheep–on whom the incompetent administration of New Orleans unleashed a pack of wolves.

All of this is related, incidentally, to the apparent incompetence of the city government, which failed to plan for a total evacuation of the city, despite the knowledge that this might be necessary. But in a city corrupted by the welfare state, the job of city officials is to ensure the flow of handouts to welfare recipients and patronage to political supporters–not to ensure a lawful, orderly evacuation in case of emergency.

No one has really reported this story, as far as I can tell. In fact, some are already actively distorting it, blaming President Bush, for example, for failing to personally ensure that the Mayor of New Orleans had drafted an adequate evacuation plan. The worst example is an execrable piece from the Toronto Globe and Mail, by a supercilious Canadian who blames the chaos on American "individualism." But the truth is precisely the opposite: the chaos was caused by a system that was the exact opposite of individualism.

What Hurricane Katrina exposed was the psychological consequences of the welfare state. What we consider "normal" behavior in an emergency is behavior that is normal for people who have values and take the responsibility to pursue and protect them. People with values respond to a disaster by fighting against it and doing whatever it takes to overcome the difficulties they face. They don’t sit around and complain that the government hasn’t taken care of them. They don’t use the chaos of a disaster as an opportunity to prey on their fellow men.

But what about criminals and welfare parasites? Do they worry about saving their houses and property? They don’t, because they don’t own anything. Do they worry about what is going to happen to their businesses or how they are going to make a living? They never worried about those things before. Do they worry about crime and looting? But living off of stolen wealth is a way of life for them.

The welfare state–and the brutish, uncivilized mentality it sustains and encourages–is the man-made disaster that explains the moral ugliness that has swamped New Orleans. And that is the story that no one is reporting.

[Robert Tracinski is Editor and Publisher of The Intellectual Activist.]

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http://www.discoverthenetwork.org/guideDesc.asp?catid=155&type=issue
Discover the Network

The Mayor Who Failed His City

By Ben Johnson

It’s official: the American Left now believes George W. Bush is God.

Bellowing leftists such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cindy Sheehan have blamed Hurricane Katrina – something insurance companies classify as an act of God – on President Bush’s "killing policies" (and, in RFK Jr.’s case, those of Mississippi’s Republican governor, Haley Barbour). Former Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal also penned an article in The Guardian chalking up the flood to the Bush administration’s having cut one item in the Army Corps of Engineers’ annual budget. (Desperate to build a presidential legacy, even ex post facto, ex-President Bill Clinton has intimated his administration did more to keep New Orleans safe than Bush’s.) Meanwhile, DNC Chair Howard Dean weighed in by demeaning Bush’s trip to the disaster area, calling it "just another callous political move crafted by Karl Rove."

In addition to claiming Bush somehow fed the phantom of "global warming" to rain death upon his own citizens, the Left has alleged "racism" in his handling of this disaster. Jesse Jackson quipped post-Hurricane New Orleans looks like "the hull of a slave ship." Director Michael Moore played the race card in an open letter to Bush on his website. They found an echo in the "Reverend" Al Sharpton, who told MSNBC’s abysmal Keith Olbermann, "I feel that, if it was in another area, with another economic strata and racial makeup, that President Bush would have run out of Crawford a lot quicker and FEMA would have found its way in a lot sooner." Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-MD, a member in good standing of the Congressional Black Caucus, played both the race and the God card, thundering:

"We cannot allow it to be said that the difference between those who lived and those who died in this great storm and flood of 2005 was nothing more than poverty, age or skin color.To the president of the United States, I simply say that God cannot be pleased with our response."

And they say all the religious nutjobs are on the Right.

The Democrats’ avenging angel has come in the form of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, who has proposed a 9/11-style commission to probe the feds’ response to Hurricane Katrina. (After all, the original 9/11 Commission proved so exemplary.) Despite these transparent attempts to claw political advantage from the suffering of the downtrodden – after the National Guard forgeries, Plamegate, and conspiratorial ravings about the Federalist Society won them no traction – a Washington Post poll revealed 55 percent of Americans do not blame President Bush for the debacle in the Big Easy.

Perhaps that is because the American people intuit it is not the federal response that should be monitored but that of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, a Democrat and, coincidentally, a black man.

In accordance with the "City of New Orleans Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan" – a blueprint drawn up to deal with emergencies like this one – all "Authority to issue evacuations of elements of the population is vested in the Mayor." The document specifically states, "The person responsible for recognition of hurricane related preparation needs and for the issuance of an evacuation order is the Mayor of the City of New Orleans." This outline does not mention any specific federal government’s role in disaster relief, instead carving out roles for state and municipal governments. In fact, as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld noted this holiday weekend, posse commitatus statutes bar federal officers from working as law enforcement officials.

Charged with so heavy a responsibility, Mayor Nagin punted, then passed the buck. The National Hurricane Center called Nagin Saturday night asking him to evacuate New Orleans, and President Bush also begged him to get his people to safety. As mayor, the final decision was Nagin’s. He was expected to issue such an order 48 hours before the storm made landfall; however, the storm touched down and the levees gave way less than 48 hours after his proclamation.

Moreover, he is to see that "Special arrangements will be made to evacuate persons unable to transport themselves or who require specific life saving assistance." Yet some 205 buses, and perhaps a greater number of large transit vehicles, were left stranded in a flooded parking lot. University of New Orleans professor Shirley Laksa had calculated some 125,000 residents do not have private transportation. As a result of Nagin’s inaction, Katrina’s victims are twice as likely to be poor than the average American. These are the people who had no recourse but to wait for the local government to rescue them; these are the people municipal malfeasance and nonfeasance abandoned to an ill-equipped Superdome.

Despite these critical lapses in judgment, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-LA, pressured her commander-in-chief to withhold all criticism of the local response (President Bush had not made any, justified though it might be), threatening that, if he didn’t, "I might likely have to punch him.

Literally." Although Washington was abuzz when Rep. Dan Burton called Bill Clinton a "scumbag," no censure has been forthcoming for Landrieu.

The Left has not idled down its criticisms of Bush, blaming him for global warming and poor planning. The facts tell another tale. The infrastructure the Left criticizes Bush of withholding, planned by the Army Corps of Engineers, would have only defended the city from a level three storm; Katrina’s level five winds would have overwhelmed the project, even if it had been completed. Former Louisiana Democratic Senator John Breaux said the funds leftists blame Bush for cutting have been diverted by presidents since the 1970s. With the Left sniping at him over high deficits incurred by fighting a war in two nations, President Bush has had to trim non-essential spending, and no one considered it a vital priority to fund a system designed to guard against what Sen. Breaux called a "once every hundred years" storm. The experts several steps removed from the president – and on both sides of the aisle – simply bet a storm of this magnitude would not occur. The Army Corps of Engineers commander Lt. Gen. Carl Strock spelled out these sentiments: "We had an assurance that 99.5 percent this would be OK. We, unfortunately, have had that .5 percent activity here." Strock also denied needed monies were diverted to Iraq.

However, this storm didn’t catch everyone by surprise. Scientists have known since the 1980s that the city’s levees would fail in a storm of Katrina’s magnitude.

The federal government’s response has been laudable. FEMA Director Mike Brown began moving federal resources into New Orleans two days before the storm hit. Currently, some 8,500 active duty troops are serving in New Orleans. The chaotic situation created by Mayor Nagin’s herding people into the Superdome, without adequate provisions for the long haul, with the resultant murder, rape, and looting a byproduct of poor, or non-existent, planning. Governor Blanco also deserves blame for not calling in the National Guard to get the situation in hand earlier. Now, 38,000 National Guardsmen are aiding the wider disaster area, including undertaking the police functions within New Orleans that Mayor Nagin could not or would not furnish.

With all these efforts going on, Jesse Jackson threw himself before the cameras yet again last week, claiming, "The president has not put together a federal program or a coordinated effort to address this massive crisis."

Just prior to Jackson’s statement, Mayor Ray Nagin coped with the high pressure of the situation he created by launching into a profanity-laden radio interview with WWL-AM. He ranted that federal relief workers needed to "get off your asses." (This at a time when helicopters bearing federal relief were being shot at by New Orleanians Nagin could not control.)

These are the same murderous looters the Democratic Party’s blog referred to as "the victims." The only New Orleans residents not intimidated by the rampaging gangs of hoodlums have relied upon the only freedom that keeps law-abiding men safe: the right to privately own firearms.

The New Orleans debacle has demonstrated a few discomforting truths: there is apparently no national suffering so moving that the Left will not exploit it for crass political advantage. The nation should have learned this when Bill Clinton blamed the Oklahoma City Bombing on Rush Limbaugh and Republican "anti-government rhetoric." More importantly, significant holes remain in our national infrastructure, which an enterprising terrorist cell could exploit. We can no longer turn a blind eye to the national security implications of mayoral elections in this nation’s vital cities. Their governance, so long dominated by corrupt and ineffectual leftists, has led to disaster on a massive scale. In the case of New Orleans, a plan had even been drawn up to fend off the worst.the mayor simply demurred from filling in its blanks. The tragedy filling our television screens for the last week is its result. Next time, the mourning could be caused by an act of war. At least one Bush critic, Rep. Bobby Jindahl, R-LA, is right: "After 9/11, this never should have happened."

  1. Pingback: Os Views dos Meus Artigos Aqui, « Liberal Space: Blog de Eduardo Chaves

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