On his way to the Gulf Coast this morning, President Bush said the Federal response to the devastation is “not acceptable.” I tend to agree. But I also think all of us need to have some perspective.
I am as frustrated as anyone of the images of desperation in New Orleans on television this week. But roads are flooded, bridges are destroyed, and citizens are shooting at rescue workers and their fellow citizens. Even former New Orleans Mayor Sidney Bartholemy just said on FOX News that the levee system was not designed to deal with anything stronger than a Category 3 hurricane because, “the odds of a 4 or 5 hitting were so low.”
So in a burst of frustration I asked PatriotPartner last night…. “why didn’t Bush just send in the Marines immediately?” And he responded with more logic than my passion sometimes gives me.
Because the Governor of Louisiana has to ask.
Yep, that’s right folks… we do have a Federal system. The Armed Forces do not just march into communities without being asked by state or local officials. It is part of the Constitutional protections and one of the reasons that civilians run our military decision-making.
So I give all of the blame needed to Homeland Security and the President from this point on. But I have some other questions…..
When is a “mandatory evacuation” really mandatory? Shouldn’t Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin have asked for Federal troops to force people out of the city? Or was this a politically-correct “mandatory evacuation”?
I “get it” that a lot of the stranded are poor and without transportation. So why didn’t the city, when Nagin ordered a “mandatory evacuation,” line up buses in the poor neighborhoods and have police force people on? And obviously not only the poor ignored the “mandatory evacuation”… because I assume Fats Domino had some means to get out. If my mayor said “mandatory evacuation”…. I would get out! But if I couldn’t, shouldn’t the City and State (and *asking* for Federal help) force people out with buses and trucks? Remember, the Marines can’t just jump in to force people out of their homes… the Governor had to ask!
When is martial law really martial law? At this point, there are reports that New Orleans Police are “turning their badges in” and walking away from their distressed city. Are you kidding me? New York Police ran *into* the burning World Trade Center. What is wrong with NOPD? Corruption. We all know it. Someone needs to say it.
By now it is clear to any honest observer, that New Orleans simply didn’t plan for the disaster that everyone said was coming. I agree with Dan… the time for blame is later. But the Mayor screeching at the President in front of cameras, and Governor Blanco looking like a deer in the headlights, cannot give the residents of New Orleans any comfort. It doesn’t seem like we are having the same level of violence and chaos in Mississippi and Alabama. Why is that? For one, Gov. Barbour is a confident leader, unlike his counterpart in Baton Rouge.
The grown-ups need to take charge on the ground in New Orleans. If Mayor Nagin can’t figure out how to do anything but pop out and make press statements, then I think this suggestion from US Rep. John Sweeney is a good one. Get Rudy to New Orleans!
Finally, as proud as I was of my fellow Americans after 9/11, I am so angry and frustrated with the descent into hell that New Orleans became so quickly. You can bet that al-Qaeda is taking copious notes about this week’s events. I sure hope Homeland Security Chertoff is writing furiously as well.
-Bruce (GayPatriot) – email@example.com