Everyone involved in our discussion today knew of individuals impacted by Katrina and the on-going life transitions and often-dire circumstances faced by these displaced and shattered people. Countless families and individuals remain homeless and jobless today. Many hard-working citizens still face choices for jobs, homes, careers, schools, and other life-altering moments. Our hearts and prayers go out to all the people still looking to put the pieces of their life back together, and to move on with life in a productive and meaningful manner.
Before Katrina hit the news media smelled the story of the year. Every time that the city of New Orleans is threatened, television “journalists” are whipped into a fury, an almost jubilant ambience that comes across on TV. The wildly hysterical news media then went into overdrive immediately after Katrina hit. First, Shepherd Smith of the Fox News Channel told us that New Orleans had dodged the bullet again. Soon Geraldo Rivera, Chris Matthews, Anderson Cooper and others were claiming massive death, rape, starvation, and agony at the New Orleans convention and the Louisiana Superdome with. As we will soon examine evidence of rapes, murders, and other crimes failed to materialize in the truth-telling aftermath of the storm.
While almost everyone in the mainstream media attempted to blame President Bush, two important elected officials who were closest to the disaster area escaped criticism. Let’s set the record straight once and for all.
The mayor of New Orleans Ray Nagin should be held accountable. He knows the city. He knows the danger. He knows that during Hurricane Georges in 1998, the use of the Superdome was a disaster and fully two-thirds of residents never got out of the city. Nothing was done. He declared a mandatory evacuation only twenty-four hours before Hurricane Katrina hit. He did not even declare a voluntary evacuation until the day before that, at 5 p.m. At that time, he explained that he needed to study his legal authority to call a mandatory evacuation and was hesitating to do so lest hotels and other businesses sue the city.
Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco was an dismal failure. It's her job to call up the National Guard and get it to where it has to go. Where the Guard was in the first few days is a mystery. Indeed, she issued an authorization for the National Guard to commandeer school buses to evacuate people on Wednesday afternoon -- more than two days after the hurricane hit and after much of the fleet had already drowned in its parking lots. Time Magazine has succinctly stated the unparalleled failures of Governor Blanco when the named her one of the nation’s worst Governors.
Failures aren't born. They're made. Before Hurricane Katrina, it wasn't the job of Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco to plan for the evacuation of the elderly and poor from New Orleans. Afterward, she wasn't in charge of the federal response. But it was her job to give her constituents heart by looking decisive, steadfast and capable. Even if she wasn't.
When it mattered most, Blanco appeared "dazed and confused," says Bernie Pinsonat, a bipartisan political consultant in Baton Rouge, La. When NBC's Matt Lauer asked her whether it was hard to find words to reassure the public, she tried to muster optimism, then circled back to despair. "You know, our people out here are so fearful. They're so worried ... It's a nightmare.
A google search entitled “Kathleen Blanco Failures” yields more than two hundred thousand results.
This account at News Busters by NBC’S Lisa Myers demonstrates that even liberal NBC got with the program about Governor Blanco.
Bob Williams, former Louisiana legislator takes Blanco and Nagin to task for their failures in a Wall Street Opinion Journal column.
Mona Charen has an outstanding column in the Washington Times this week regarding Katrina being the misreported story of the year.
Katrina was a monster, and the misery it caused was heartbreaking. But the instant analysis was beyond tendentious. We were told poor people died or suffered because they had no way to escape the storm and were offered none by local, state or federal officials (most of the press reserved its severest scorn for the federal response). But according to a careful examination of actual storm victims by the New York Times, most of those who stayed behind either owned cars or were offered rides by others and chose, for a various reasons (some good, some stupid), to remain.
Bryan Preston of the fabulous Junkyard Blog summed up much of the failures in New Orleans in the hours immediately following Katrina.
“Most of the death and mayhem was entirely preventable. That's worth a whole lot of righteous fury. But be angry at the people who failed your city. Their names are Nagin and Blanco, not Bush and Chertoff. And be angry at yourselves for wasting the year after Ivan not holding your local politicians' feet to the fire to get the disaster plan updated to reflect the lessons learned after that near disaster.
New Orleans is dead because before the storm it overdosed on "Don't Worry, Be Happy," an attitude that it's now clear extended beyond city hall to include the great newspaper that is supposed to challenge officials and be a voice for the voiceless. The whole city's elite class is complicit in turning the Crescent City into Thunderdome. They failed their own people, and failed the most vulnerable the most horribly.”
The New Orleans Times-Picayune editorialized about the false rumors widely reported as truth by the mainstream media in the hours and days immediately following Katrina.
Nearly a month after the storm, officials have come up with no hard evidence to back up stories of murder, rape and other violence that supposedly happened among those who took shelter in those places. No matter how convincing the eye witness accounts, the bodies that back up their stories aren't there
The toll, after careful inspection, is as follows: four dead in the Convention Center, one by violence: six dead in the Superdome, none by violence. While there were reports of 30 to 40 dead in the Convention Center and 10 to numerous in the Dome, the actual tally has to be given more credibility than unconfirmed reports by traumatized people. During the chaotic week that followed Hurricane Katrina, four confirmed murders took place in New Orleans, a number that's not at all surprising or even unusual for a city that expected to see as many as 200 homicides this year.
Peggy Noonan, columnist extraordinaire and Reagan speechwriter, summarized the thoughts of many common sense conservatives.
Last week I quoted Gerald Ford: “The government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.” I was talking about money. But it applies also to personal freedom, to the rights of the individual, including his right to do something stupid as long as it’s legal, like swimming.
Government has real duties in disaster. Maintaining the peace is a primary one. But if we demand that our government protect us from all the weather all the time, if we demand that it protect us from rain and hail, if we make government and politicians pay a terrible price for not getting us out of every flood zone and rescuing us from every wave, we’re going to lose a lot more than we gain. If we give government all authority then we are giving them all power.
Among the more preposterous of the comments from politicians competing for media attention came from Sheila Jackson Lee, democrat of Texas. Jackson-Lee is often critical of President Bush, and tends to see issues only in terms of race.
“The Bush administration's slow response to Hurricane Katrina may be the result of minority votes being suppressed and Democratic candidates losing the last two presidential elections, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus has alleged. "Watching family members and others cling to rooftops in Hurricane Katrina, I wonder whether or not the absence of attention [to the recovery effort] is attributable to the loss of a vote in 2000 and 2004," U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat from Texas, said. She added that the government's hurricane response gave her the feeling of "deja vu," following the Republican Party's alleged attempts to undermine the black vote in those two presidential elections.”
There are far too many perplexing quotes from hyperventilating politicians to print in this article, however, Rush Limbaugh gives a better summary to this mess than I could ever write.
"It is becoming clear, and has been for two or three days here, of the utter failure of local government and state government to handle the circumstance. Everybody is out there saying, "We need a Giuliani! We need a Giuliani!" What was Rudy Giuliani? He was a mayor. Has anybody seen Ray Nagin? Was Ray Nagin at the Superdome? Was Kathleen Blanco at the Superdome? Were these people there? We saw Rudy everywhere. Yeah, we need a Rudy, fine, but Rudy was not part of federal government, folks; Rudy was not part of any FEMA organization; Rudy was not part of any federal bureaucracy. He was mayor of New York, and when you saw pictures of Rudy on TV the New York police chief flanked him and he was flanked by New York fire chief, and New York City officials, and the governor flanked him, of course, Pataki was there as well. But you haven't seen that in this circumstance. We also know that President Bush on Sunday begged the governor to get everybody out there, declare an emergency. She said, "No, I need 24 hours to decide." We now have the mayor, Ray Nagin -- and we have the audio of this. It happened on CNN today. The mayor is now trying to pass the buck to the governor, claiming that the governor was the one that was holding up the decision-making process. We also know that the governors are in charge of the National Guard. Everybody wants to know, "Why didn't Bush send the Guard?" The governors have to do this, and that's why Bush wanted her to declare an emergency so that he could get a foot in the door. You notice there are no law enforcement problems in Mississippi? There aren't any law enforcement problems over in Alabama. You haven't seen the looting; you haven't seen the utter chaos, but you have seen the destruction. There are reasons for this, and we will get into them this afternoon. The New Orleans police disintegrated, and now the mayor wants hotel vacations for them in Las Vegas."
All of these many circumstances make the Katrina disaster and its multi=faceted aftermath my nominee for the biggest news story of 2005.
You have to see and read this list of the twenty most obnoxious quotes related to Hurricane Katrina. I am not sure how they narrowed the list to only twenty quotes!
Ian Schwartz and Thespis Journal team up to provide great coverage on Lying Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu and her ridiculous statements on Fox News Sunday.
The Mudville Gazette provided wonderful coverage throughout the event. In this article, the history of the bad blood between Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin is fully detailed.
Michelle Malkin debunks many myths about Katrina.
Check out the best and worst at the Junk Yard Blog.
Check out the open post at the Mudville Gazette.
Check Outside the Beltway for more news.
Lots of other news at Right Wing Nation.
Check out Betsy's page too!
Check out: Stop The ACLU!