Not So Young But Angry Conservatives Unite

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Myths About Hurricane Katrina

Where was this a few days ago? Better late than never.....


James Taranto: Myths of Hurricane Katrina06sep05HURRICANE Katrina was a horrific natural disaster. To America's Angry Left it was yet another occasion to score political points against President George W. Bush. In the same spirit of opportunism that animated looters who stole television sets, Bush's political foes frantically sought to blame the devastation on him.A measure of the anti-Bush Left's derangement is that it blames him for bad weather. "Complacency will no longer suffice, especially if experts are right in warning that global warming may increase the intensity of future hurricanes," The New York Times editorialised on Thursday. "But since this administration won't acknowledge that global warming exists, the chances of leadership seem minimal."
Whether global warming exists or not, it did not cause Katrina, at least according to a news story that had appeared in the Times two days earlier: "Because hurricanes form over warm ocean water, it is easy to assume that the recent rise in their number and ferocity is because of global warming. But that is not the case, scientists say. Instead, the severity of hurricane seasons changes with cycles of temperatures of several decades in the Atlantic Ocean."
Then we heard that the National Guard was unable to do its duty in the Gulf Coast because it had been "stretched thin" by deployment to Iraq; "deployed in a phony war", as former New York Times editor Howell Raines claimed in a particularly inflammatory article in The Sydney Morning Herald and several US papers at the weekend. But as James Robbins pointed out in National Review Online, only 10.2 per cent of the US Army, including the guard and reserves, is in Iraq; 74.2 per cent, or 751,000 soldiers, are stationed in the US. In any case, this argument died down as the troops arrived in great force late in the week.
The most pernicious myth the Angry Left propagated was that the storm victims were neglected because of their race. "I feel that, if it was in another area, with another economic strata and racial make-up, that President Bush would have run out of Crawford a lot quicker and FEMA [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] would have found its way in a lot sooner," said Al Sharpton, New York's premier racial arsonist.
In fact, Katrina was an equal-opportunity destroyer. The media's coverage of the disaster understandably centred on New Orleans, the biggest city in the region, which is two-thirds black. But the storm also devastated at least four suburban Louisiana parishes and three coastal Mississippi counties. All have white majorities, ranging from 69.8 per cent to 90.2 per cent. Appeals to race are especially dangerous when the US needs national solidarity. Special pleading on behalf of black victims may lead to special pleading on behalf of white victims. It may also reinforce ugly stereotypes. A USA Today editorial noted that most of the New Orleans victims were black, then added: "So are most of the looters." And there have been reports of criminality that goes far beyond looting, including rape and murder. Avarice and depravity are human failings, but race-obsessed liberals may be contributing to the notion that they are racial ones.
The Angry Left seems finally to have settled on the claim that the Bush administration was incompetent, its actions slow and inept.
There may turn out to be some truth to this, but it's far too early to apportion blame. Responding to a disaster of unprecedented proportions is a monumentally complicated task and it's likely that officials at all levels of government made mistakes. Further, even the best-run government cannot work miracles, and it's unclear how much better the response could have been.
In any case, deeming the Bush administration incompetent at this stage reflects nothing more than the prejudices of the administration's critics and in some cases a plain disregard for the facts.
Journalist and blogger Andrew Sullivan, for example, lashed FEMA director Michael Brown for saying he hadn't learned until Thursday that several thousand people needed help at the New Orleans Convention Centre. "Brown apparently doesn't get CNN," Sullivan sneered.
But CNN didn't report on the convention centre situation until Thursday and no other news organisation seems to have known before then that more than a handful of people were there.
The American people seem to be taking a fair-minded view of all this. An ABC News poll released yesterday found that 55 per cent of Americans didn't blame the President for Katrina's devastation. And while 67 per cent thought the federal Government wasn't adequately prepared, 75 per cent said the same of state and local government. As with all the previous efforts to discredit the Bush administration, this one seems likely to fail.
Besides, one claim no one has had the audacity to make is that John Kerry would have done better. President Kerry, after all, would have faced this disaster with a total of 7 1/2 months' administrative experience in his lifetime.


  • At 11:34 PM, Blogger Kevin said…

    I think a lot of what that article said is true. Not all, but most of it.

    One thing it fails to mention, however, which is [to me at least] a growing concern is how we claim to be prepared for an attack, but clearly, are not.

    I mean, look at the situation that this hurricane caused, and at least we had SOME pre-warning of it.

    The government has been saying for 4 years now that we will be prepared in the event of a terrorist attack. We've spent small fortunes commissioning and setting up organizations meant to deal with catastrophes and rescue ops. I, for one, am suprised with the immense program failure and general turmoil that a little storm could cause.

    I mean, what's to have stopped terrorists from blowing those levees months ago?

    What other sort of man-made creations could be destroyed by terrorists, and what sort of an impact would that have, especially if we can't truly organize relief efforts that very day?

    From an outside POV, this thing may seem to have gotten better. But, I am certain that anyone who was trapped for 5 days with no signs of anything but violence was wondering where help was and was otherwise terrified.

  • At 1:48 PM, Blogger Mooneyguy said…

    And consider Bay High School in Bay St. Louis, Miss. It was an unofficial shelter turned cesspool, the sight of which Gary Turner, Trudy Roberts and Felix Ruiz said should be considered a crime.

    The three strangers became a rescue team of sorts when they fled to the high school themselves and found people in their 70s, 80s and 90s wallowing in their own waste on the auditorium floors. They had been brought to the school and aban doned, most unable to move without help.

    "Rats wouldn't even go in there," said Turner, of Bay St. Louis.
    Myth, you say? Sounds like Haley's hell to me.

  • At 10:13 PM, Blogger Mooneyguy said…

    I see Americans are supporting Bush in the polls...NOT!

  • At 7:23 PM, Blogger chefwes said… Facts, for you dumbass leftists, once again, you are proven WRONG! It sucks to be you, mooneyguy!

  • At 1:21 PM, Blogger TS said…

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  • At 1:23 PM, Blogger jiri said…

    Cool Blog, I never really thought about it that way.

    I have a Hurricane Katrina blog. It pretty much covers hurricane related stuff.

    Thank you - and keep up the thoughts!


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