Katrina and the Democratic Blame-A-Tron Machine

Doesn't sound like the title of a short story by Hemingway at all, does it?

Everybody wants a "full investigation". The Democratic "Blame-a-Tron" Wind Ensemble is cranked up, repeating its mantra of Let's Blame Bush, Let's Bash Bush.
The problem is, they're dealing on emotions, not facts, and their little orchestra, while playing from the same old sad sheet music, doesn't have a conductor. Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, Barbara Boxer, and the rest of the Democrat "wind" section all need to go home with their instruments and practice their scales.

Look, this stuff has nothing to do with political parties. We don't really need to waste any time and money on investigations because it's already obvious to anybody possessing an above room temperature IQ what happened. It's about people who were incompetent, regardless of political affiliation:

The Governor: After the crisis struck, Governor Blanco remained indecisive.

A transcript from CNN of Mayor Nagin's comments indicates Blanco waited 24 hours to decide on which federal plan to initiate.

That wasn't the only time she froze up. She took control of the emergency apparatus, but continued to refuse to act. President Bush had to personally call and beg Blanco and Mayor Nagin during dinner to order a mandatory evacuation (1). They still waited until the morning. A state of emergency was ordered August 26th at 9:44pm, they waited until the 28th at 10am to order the evacuation. A full 36 hours could have been added to the evacuation time, which could have included the National Guard going door-to-door to save people and get them out of New Orleans.

Blanco just sat around and failed her people. She refused to give authority to the federal government to act.

The Mayor:
Mayor Nagin had lots of buses he left in their parking lots that could have gotten people out. The initial responsibility of evacuating people in New Orleans belongs to the Mayor, and he did little to nothing beforehand. Lest we forget, Mayor Nagin is an Afro-American, and he had both the authority and the ability to help out the poorest of his city who don't have transportation and many of whom are black, so please don't hand me this "racial bias" B.S.

The evacuation plan called for using buses (see below) to get those without cars out, but instead Nagin left the buses sitting in the parking lots to get destroyed. They could have at least taken the buses to higher ground so they could have been used after the hurricane passed, not to mention for getting people out before the hurricane hit. Nagin did a great job, in the aftermath, of pointing fingers at others and throwing temper tantrums on live TV, but the guy had a written plan and he failed to implement it.

The New Orleans Police Department - Two-thirds of the police force left. FEMA has no plan for such a catastrophic power vacuum, which only strengthened the anarchy. Armed bands shut down rescue operation, necessitating the militarization of the environment.

There were FEMA and other rescue teams that got in pretty quickly, but snipers were shooting at rescue helicopters, pirates boat-jacked rescuers, and mayhem broke lose, with even the police looting and standing by while the people did so. The government could have stepped in and taken the food first and rationed it. Instead it permitted an environment of lawlessness.

Rescuers had to halt operations in general, and at locations like the Superdome, because they had no security with which to be able to proceed. This necessitated a buildup of military force that could provide security, which wasn't planned for, and which took more time. More time, and more lost lives.

FEMA could have handled some things better,but the real responsibility in the first few days of a natural disaster is local, not federal. The states have to authorize help, and Louisiana didn't do it. Mississippi was hit by the same hurricane and there was little crisis there because Gov. Barbour acted quickly, showed leardership and decisiveness, and his people did what they were supposed to do. FEMA can have better plans and preparedness, of course. But the point is they shouldn't have had to deal with a complete collapse of local authority in the first place. They shouldn't have had to deal with 100,000 people trapped in New Orleans because the Mayor, the Governor and the police department all blew it.

So, since we already know who's to blame, how about lets spend less time playing the overture to the "Let's Bash Bush" ballet, and a little more time figuring out how to improve the system? And this says nothing about the National Disaster in the fact that we've had too much of our refining capacity in the afflicted area, and which I've already UnBlogged about.

N.B. I've been asked by 2 readers at this point about sources. My initial comment response may have had it's URL chopped off, so I'll post a few here and below -->article, which appears in the New York Times<--.

You can read the City of New Orleans' official plan for hurricanes here

To save you some more research time, Here are some direct quotes from "City of New Orleans Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan.", which makes it evident that New Orleans knew that evacuation of the civilian population was the primary responsibility of the city not the federal government. The city plan acknowledges its responsibility in the document:

"As established by the City of New Orleans Charter, the government has jurisdiction and responsibility in disaster response. City government shall coordinate its efforts through the Office of Emergency Preparedness."

The city document also makes clear that decisions involving a proper and orderly evacuation lie with the governor, mayor and local authorities. Nowhere is the president or federal government even mentioned:

"The authority to order the evacuation of residents threatened by an approaching hurricane is conferred to the Governor by Louisiana Statute. The Governor is granted the power to direct and compel the evacuation of all or part of the population from a stricken or threatened area within the State, if he deems this action necessary for the preservation of life or other disaster mitigation, response or recovery. The same power to order an evacuation conferred upon the Governor is also delegated to each political subdivision of the State by Executive Order. This authority empowers the chief elected official of New Orleans, the Mayor of New Orleans, to order the evacuation of the parish residents threatened by an approaching hurricane."

It is clear the city also recognized that it would need to move large portions of its population, and it would need to prepare for such an eventuality:

"The City of New Orleans will utilize all available resources to quickly and safely evacuate threatened areas. Those evacuated will be directed to temporary sheltering and feeding facilities as needed. When specific routes of progress are required, evacuees will be directed to those routes. Special arrangements will be made to evacuate persons unable to transport themselves or who require specific life saving assistance. Additional personnel will be recruited to assist in evacuation procedures as needed. ... "

Further, Bob Williams, writing in the Wall Street Journal on Sept. 7, stated:

"The New Orleans contingency plan is still, as of this writing, on the city's Web site, and states: "The safe evacuation of threatened populations is one of the principle [sic] reasons for developing a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan." But the plan was apparently ignored.

Mayor Nagin was responsible for giving the order for mandatory evacuation and supervising the actual evacuation: His Office of Emergency Preparedness (not the federal government) must coordinate with the state on elements of evacuation and assist in directing the transportation of evacuees to staging areas. Mayor Nagin had to be encouraged by the governor to contact the National Hurricane Center before he finally, belatedly, issued the order for mandatory evacuation. And sadly, it apparently took a personal call from the president to urge the governor to order the mandatory evacuation.

The city's evacuation plan states: "The city of New Orleans will utilize all available resources to quickly and safely evacuate threatened areas." But even though the city has enough school and transit buses to evacuate 12,000 citizens per fleet run, the mayor did not use them. To compound the problem, the buses were not moved to high ground and were flooded. The plan also states that "special arrangements will be made to evacuate persons unable to transport themselves or who require specific lifesaving assistance. Additional personnel will be recruited to assist in evacuation procedures as needed." This was not done.

The evacuation plan warned that "if an evacuation order is issued without the mechanisms needed to disseminate the information to the affected persons, then we face the possibility of having large numbers of people either stranded and left to the mercy of a storm, or left in an area impacted by toxic materials." That is precisely what happened because of the mayor's failure."

I won't bore you with more quotes, if you are really interested in the facts, do your own research. Thanks for reading.

1. Associated Press, Mandatory Evacuation Ordered for New Orleans, August 28, 2005, 10:48 a.m. CT.