"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door." The Statue of Liberty (P.S. Please be so kind as to enter through the proper channels and in an orderly fashion)

Location: Arlington, Virginia, United States

Friday, September 09, 2005

FYI: Profile of Emergency Response to Katrina

Ambuscade . . .

By Peter Ferrara

September 9, 2005

(bold type by Republicus)

No one anticipated Katrina's aftermath would include a false and ignorant tidal wave of calumny against President Bush. Conservatives beware, because the goal is to politically disable the president, and the conservative agenda with him.

A few basic facts will help to detox the political environment:

(1) FEMA is not an agency of first responders. It is not the agency responsible for bringing people bottles of water and trays of fresh food, or transporting them out of harm's way. It also has zero law enforcement authority, or personnel.

These first-responder jobs are the responsibility of local and state government -- city police and firemen, city transportation and emergency services personnel, state police, and ultimately the state National Guard.

FEMA has always been primarily a federal financing agency, providing funding to the locals after the crisis hits to help them respond and rebuild. That is why FEMA's Web site baldly states don't expect them to show up with their aid until three or four days after the disaster strikes.

(2) Moreover, the National Guard is under the command of each state's governor, not the president. The president can federalize control of a state's guard on his own order, but doing so without a governor's consent to deal with an intrastate natural disaster would be a supreme insult to the governor and the state. In addition, using federal troops for local police actions is against the law and has been since the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.

With this background, let's examine who did what in response to Katrina.

President Bush declared the entire Gulf Coast, including New Orleans and Louisiana, a federal disaster area days before the hurricane hit, to enable federal aid to get there sooner.

The disaster that struck New Orleans did not become apparent until the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 29, as the levees apparently broke after the storm had passed. But that very day, the Army Corps of Engineers was already working on levee repair. And the Coast Guard was already in the air with helicopters rescuing people from rooftops, ultimately employing 300 choppers. These are both federal agencies under Mr. Bush's command.

In addition, before the end of that week, Mr. Bush had already pushed through Congress and signed an emergency aid package of $10.5 billion for the Gulf Coast region.

Now what about Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin? President Bush had to get on the phone two days before the hurricane to plead with the governor to order a mandatory evacuation. In response, she dithered and delayed. Mayor Nagin also had full authority, and responsibility, to order an evacuation. He also dithered and delayed.

The city's own written evacuation plan requires the city to provide transportation for the evacuation of those without access to vehicles or with disabilities. But Mr. Nagin did nothing to carry out this responsibility. Instead, hundreds of city metro and school buses were ruined in the flood, as Mr. Nagin left them in low-lying areas. Jesse Jackson and Kanye West, do you think Mr. Nagin cares about poor blacks in New Orleans?

Mr. Nagin asked residents who couldn't get out to go to the Superdome. It was his responsibility to then provide water, food, portable bathrooms and security for them. But, again, Mr. Nagin did nothing to carry out this responsibility in service to the poor blacks who primarily exercised this option.

President Bush pleaded with Mrs. Blanco the day after the storm to get the National Guard into New Orleans. Not much happened. Seeing this, he asked her to give him federal authority over the state's Guard. She refused. As a result, the Guard wasn't in force in the city until near the end of the week.

President Bush finally had to order in 7,000 federal troops, including the 82nd Airborne, on Friday to get the stranded residents out of the Superdome and the Convention Center, where Mr. Nagin had also completely abdicated responsibility. This was of dubious legal authority, but with the total collapse of the state and local governments in dealing with the crisis, what choice did he have?

Let's shortcircuit the sickening and dopey political posturing now just beginning in Washington. Mrs. Blanco and Mr. Nagin just need to resign in disgrace, as thousands of their own constituents died because of their misconduct.

Peter Ferrara is a senior fellow at the Institute for Policy Innovation, and director of domestic policy at the Free Enterprise Fund.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

FYI: Profile of New Orleans (Pre & Post-Katrina)

In the last post, amid the devastation and social chaos of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, I quietly provided a profile of it-- written by Martha Mendoza-- as a tribute to the once-lively and buoyant but now inundated city that was the birthplace of jazz and world-renowned for its Mardi Gras festivities and delectable Creole and Cajun cuisine, as a reminder of its unique character and incomparable place in the historic tapestry of the republic.

Yet the ever-watchful eye of Republicus was beholding what has been-- and then was being-- wrought in the battered city and, on a countdowning cue, within 24 hours, was reading with disgust the chants of the cult of Bush-Haters, who had quickly turned their attention, once again, to Crawford, Texas, finding yet another instrument to add to their chorus of Impeachment as they tune up for The Big Day on September 24 (which has been in the works for years).

Of course, the embarassing display of the worst among us, exploiting a natural disaster and creating a man-made one by terrorizing New Orleans as if they were terrorists in Baghdad has nothing to do with the alleged ineptness and/or insouciance of President Bush and his administration.

Like the terrorist thugs in Iraq who are the products of a mentality that sustains helpless dependents, patronizes and encourages stupidity, and unleashes violent, sub-human creatures upon society to "take what's theirs" (which means, in Iraq, lives), the social chaos in New Orleans was also the result--not of a natural catastrophe, or of President Bush's catastrophic (whatever) leadership, for that matter-- but of a catastrophic liberal system of local government that sustained their own helpless dependents, patronized and encouraged stupidity, and unleashed violent, sub-human creatures to "take what's owed them" (which means, in New Orleans, merchandise ranging from CD players to women).

The usual hue and cry went up from the Left: They were "victims." We should "feel their pain." "We understand."

And, of course, "It's Bush's fault!"

It's Bush's fault that New Orleans has had large sections that were cesspools of corruption and bred worthless, murderous scum, burglars, thieves, and rapists?

The attentive reader should have noted this non-accusatory section in the last post (italics mine):

"Crime, even before the hurricane, was high. The murder rate has come down in recent years..."

note by Republicus: Can Bush take credit for that, at least, since it happened under his watch?

"...but remains 10 times the national average."

Oh, THAT must be Bush's fault.

"Last year, researchers had police fire 700 blank rounds in a city neighborhood one afternoon. No one called to report the gunfire.

'Maybe New Orleans should be nicknamed The Big Un-Easy, due to a high violent crime rate and a high unemployment rate. There's also a significant number of suicides and divorces,' said Bert Sterling on his Best Places web site.

The city's school system is a shambles. The district almost went broke this past year — teachers nearly missed a paycheck — and 55 of the state's 78 worst schools are in New Orleans. Dozens of school employees are under indictment for corruption. But then, corruption in New Orleans is nothing new — politicians, judges, the police have all been caught."

That is the reason for the social chaos in the wake of Katrina.

They even released hardened prisoners upon the city, who now roam (or wade through) the streets of New Orleans (like the criminally-insane inmates flooding out of Arkham Asylum and onto the streets of Gotham City at the end of the last--and excellent--Batman movie, which I obviously saw recently).

Forget the single-minded obsessions of the Bush-haters and/or liberals. They've lost their minds in thinking (among other things) that Bush has been remiss in his responsibilties as the National Babysitter.

The blame lies with a culture of irresponsibility, a sense of self-entitlement, dependence on the government, and unconscionable crime (during a time when circumstances should have--you would think-- inspired the best in anyone to come out), all the proven offspring of liberalism-at-work.

Hasn't anyone else noticed the pathetic pleas for help for the Federal Government to save everyone, as if it was an All-Powerful and All-Sustaining God?

"Save us, save us! You're our only hope! Where's George?"

Failing to do so--i.e. provide Salvation-- in one or another aspect of emergency management, the Federal government must therefore be run by an incompetent imp, if not infected by the Son of Satan himself, no?

Yes, since otherwise the Federal government would be All-Powerful and All-Sustaining, as liberals think it's supposed to be (as if it ever could be, but it can't, ever).


Katrina was just another natural disaster (and get used to it; there'll be plenty more, with or without carbon emission standards).

There was fair warning, both on the hurricane and--for years--the integrity of the levee system.
Adequate funds had been procured from Congress and made available to the local government for infrastructure.

It was spent on a pork project of the levee system.

"Oh, well why didn't the president arrange for an evacuation and save lives? Some people did not have the means to transport themselves, due to poverty!"

Well why didn't the outraged mayor put that armada of schoolbuses-- that now sit idly in a flooded parking lot-- to good use?

And why are armed guards--TODAY-- having trouble removing natives who STILL insist on staying?

Whose fault is it that the Superdome was turned into a circle of Dante's hell?

Is good behavior something that can only be coerced and controlled by government?

What, when the principal is absent, we will naturally run down the halls, break into lockers, and rush into the girl's locker-room with ill-intent, and then blame the principal for being absent and so "allowing" that behavior?

Are we in junior high school?

The Left would have to say yes to all that in order to premise their gripes.

This is what the conservative values crowd--and the Founding Fathers-- have been talking about: PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.

The government said GET OUT. The government said that if anyone decided to stay, they were on their own.

Now it's as if the government said: "No biggie. Stay if you want. Big Brother will take care of you, in any event," and all the rage now is as if the government broke faith with what it never said.

Oh, and then there's Bush's rejection of the Kyoto Treaty which would have addressed Global Warming and reduced the might of Katrina.

What can Republicus say to that?


Republicus prays for the good people of New Orleans to recover well from this, and is sure his shame for his fellow countrymen will be turned to pride in the coming days as the good get to work and return to their lives and the bad are put away where they belong.

Anyway, I thank Adam Walker for sending me the following article.

Consider it:

TIA Daily -- September 2, 2005

By 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 vehicles, 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.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

FYI: Profile of New Orleans (Pre-Katrina)

By MARTHA MENDOZA, AP National Writer
Sat Sep 3, 2:31 PM ET

Beneath the frantic and putrid abyss of looters and bodies and desperation that New Orleans became last week, there's a decadent city of crawfish bisque and sparkling jazz, a ferocious city that beat back the British army, a tenacious city that has survived plague and fires, a seductive and sultry and sweet place beloved by many.

It is, quite simply, one of a kind.

"In terms of the big cities of this country, New Orleans is clearly one of the cities with the most unique character," said Paul Farmer, executive of the American Planning Association. "What's happened goes well beyond the devastation of one city — it's a national tragedy."

Its singular ways date back to its French and Spanish history, its Caribbean character, its geographic diversity of lake and marshlands.

The city was born in 1718, a swampy French-Canadian outpost next to the mouth of the Mississippi River. In the ensuing years it would be held by both France and Spain before becoming the largest and richest city in the Confederacy, thanks in large part to its bustling international port.

But its location also made it vulnerable to attackers on sea.

In the brutal 1815 Battle of New Orleans, French and Spanish settlers joined soldiers, slaves, militia, Indians and even some pirates as they sheltered behind stacks of logs and cotton bales to defeat British invaders.

Soldiers weren't the only threats.

A plague of yellow fever, spread by mosquitoes, struck summer after summer in the mid-1800s, killing thousands of residents. Fires have all but leveled the city as well, and there have been deadly hurricanes and floods, although none on the scale of this week's disaster.

Despite it all, New Orleans has always been a city that entices, and those who come often stay. It has more native-born residents than any other major American city, and it's not uncommon to meet families who have been there for five generations — along with their neighbors.

Those who come for short durations — and there are more than 10 million visitors a year, and 3,000 business meetings and conventions — come to experience an exotic place that has been called America's only European city.

There's the pre-Lent revel of Mardi Gras, which generates a billion dollars in revenue every year. There's the naughty fun of Bourbon Street. And fine restaurants. And magnificent jazz — at the annual Jazz Fest, at jumping joints, even after funerals.

In fact, much that New Orleans flavor has been exported. Mardi Gras parties are ubiquitous now; dishes like gumbos and po'boys and jambalaya are featured in restaurants everywhere. And the music — from Louis Armstrong to B.B. King, from Fats Domino to the Neville Brothers — is the soundtrack for our lives.

But beyond the historic architecture, the spice-laden cuisine and the beguiling voodoo underground, live close to 500,000 people, mostly poor (more than a quarter live in poverty), mostly black (more than 66 percent), clustered into 73 distinct neighborhoods.

Crime, even before the hurricane, was high. The murder rate has come down in recent years, but remains 10 times the national average. Last year, researchers had police fire 700 blank rounds in a city neighborhood one afternoon. No one called to report the gunfire.

"Maybe New Orleans should be nicknamed The Big Un-Easy, due to a high violent crime rate and a high unemployment rate. There's also a significant number of suicides and divorces," said Bert Sterling on his Best Places web site.

The city's school system is a shambles. The district almost went broke this past year — teachers nearly missed a paycheck — and 55 of the state's 78 worst schools are in New Orleans.

Dozens of school employees are under indictment for corruption. But then, corruption in New Orleans is nothing new — politicians, judges, the police have all been caught.

Still, New Orleans did not lose its luster. It had higher education (Tulane, University of New Orleans, Xavier). It had the port that made it a city in the first place (fourth largest in the world, by gross tonnage).

And it still had that quality that inspired its unofficial motto — "Laissez les bons temps rouler" (Let the good times roll). Though it's to tough to remember now.

Pableaux Johnson, a food and travel writer from New Orleans, could only reminisce about his beloved city in the past tense as he watched the destruction on television with family and friends in a nearby city where they had evacuated.

"It was a human-scale metropolis," he said. "It had its own really vibrant set of cultures, of food and music and literature and people. It had an amazingly rich tradition and it had a good solid funkiness. You could get absolutely spiritual food for three bucks, listen to absolutely amazing music in the equivalent of house parties."

Joe Lastie, a drummer with the legendary New Orleans Preservation Hall Jazz Band, holed up in an Atlanta hotel with his family, somberly waiting to hear from clarinetist Ralph Johnson, pianist Rickie Monie and trumpeter John Brunious.

Lastie's band, named after the venerable music venue in the heart of the French Quarter, is known for its spirited shows around the world where Lastie and his bandmates, blowing their horns and clashing their cymbals, dance right off the stage and into the audience to lead a rollicking, joyful march around the theater.

"I go around the world sharing the joy that is New Orleans," he said. "And because of that joy, I know my city is going to survive. The New Orleans people are the type of people, well, you can't keep them down. Through the joy of the music and the spirit of the people, we're always going to bounce back."