Friday, September 02, 2005


I sent the following e-mail to Rich Lowry of National Review and he published it in the magazine's blog, The Corner: (grammatical errors are mine)

The Corner: I just read your spot-on piece about the Coming Battle Over New Orleans. Sadly, I think the New Orleans Flood has destroyed Republicans in the eyes of many poor and black people around the country. Ken Mehlman's extension of the olive branch to the NAACP is long-forgotten, the "September 10th" of racial reconciliation speeches. Whenever the GOP will try to outreach to Blacks, white and black Democratic leaders will say, "remember New Orleans!" The new battle cry of racial demagoguery will be even more effective than the Florida recount fiasco of 2000. Even though I think that the city and state (Democratic leaders of a predominately black city) stranded those innocent people at the SuperDome and Convention Center, the Republican party will be blamed for leaving poor blacks high and dry.

The only way I can see any hope is if Bush throws the whole weight of his administration toward rebuilding New Orleans into an even better city for these people who were obviously overlooked as everyone high-tailed it out of New Orleans. I don't think it'll happen and I'll be sad to see GOP efforts fail while Democrats continue string black voters along.

This is some of what wrote Rich Lowry wrote in his article, The Coming Battle Over New Orleans

In many senses, however, poverty is indeed dangerous. The root of it, more than anything else, is the breakdown of the family. Roughly 60 percent of births in New Orleans are out of wedlock. If people are stripped of the most basic social support — the two-parent family — they will be more vulnerable in countless ways, especially, one assumes, in moments of crisis like that that has befallen New Orleans. If the tableaux of suffering in the city prompts meaningful soul-searching, perhaps there can be a grand right-left bargain that includes greater attention to out-of-wedlock births from the Left in exchange for the Right’s support for more urban spending (anything is worth addressing the problem of fatherlessness).

Unfortunately, the post-catastrophe debate will probably be toxic and unhealthy, just like the oily, fetid waters of New Orleans.

Rich Lowry: The Coming Battle Over New Orleans



This article, via Kathryn Jean Lopez, was published over the weekend, before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans

Gov. Kathleen Blanco, standing beside the mayor at a news conference, said President Bush called and personally appealed for a mandatory evacuation for the low-lying city, which is prone to flooding.

Mayor Nagin conceded before the storm hit the city would not even be providing nourishment for those staying at the SuperDome

"This is a once in a lifetime event," the mayor said. "The city of New Orleans has never seen a hurricane of this magnitude hit it directly," the mayor said.

He told those who had to move to the Superdome to come with enough food for several days and with blankets. He said it will be a very uncomfortable place and encouraged everybody who could to get out.

Nola.com: NewsFlash - Mandatory evacuation ordered for New Orleans



The overwhelmed Mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin was not up to the job. He sent out an "S.O.S." and had a profanity laced meltdown in a radio interview instead of rolling up his sleeves and saving his city.

As soon as the World Trade Center was on fire, Rudy Giuliani told his police commissioner Bernard Kerik, "Thank God we have George Bush in the White House."

Rudy Giuliani was the central figure of 9/11 for New Yorkers, and for the rest of the nation. As mayor he knew New York better than anyone. He had a handle on all of the agencies and was able to defly maneuver through all of the intricacies of managing America's biggest and most complicated city in response to an unanticipated terror attack.

New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin was overwhelmed by the task at hand despite having advance warning of a hurricane. Can you even name the police commissioner of New Orleans? The commissioner's name is Eddie Compass. In the immediate aftermath of the levees being broken in New Orleans, Nagin was ineffectual and Compass was out of sight. New Orleans police officers turned in their badges. Can you imagine if New York police and firefighters refused to run into the burning twin towers but instead turned in their badges? By the way, where are the New Orleans firefighters? No one has seen one story involving the first responders of New Orleans.

The leadership in New Orleans and Louisiana has been abysmal. The ineffectual governor, Kathleen Blanco, resorted to "tough talk" by saying of National Guard troops, "They have M-16s and they're locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so, and I expect they will." Mayor Giuliani did not find it useful to speak in such tones because it was his actions that prevented New York City from collapsing into paranoid chaos.

There was a power vacuum in New Orleans as soon as Hurricane Katrina passed the city. The city of New Orleans herded people into the SuperDome because it felt people could ride out the storm in safety for a few days and then return to their homes. The federal government now has to respond to the city's decision to place people in the SuperDome, Convention Center and other areas.

The City of New Orleans did not do a good enough job of securing itself via planning and forethought. There are only 1,500 police officers in the entire city of New Orleans. Even though 80% of the city was evacuated there are still not enough officers to control New Orleans.

The federal government provides a support role in the first few days because city and state leaders take the lead and use the resources that they have to take care of constituents. The chaos we are witnessing in New Orleans is because local authorities dithered before federal help could arrive. The federal authorities cannot move overnight at every instance of every natural disaster. It is in the days, weeks and months that follow that organizations like FEMA do the heavy lifting. The quesion is why did the city and state government prove to be so incompetent in dealing with the immediate needs of New Orleans?

Rudy Giuliani never slept, never gave up when it came to taking care of New York. He was able to deal with the media, more than 10 million scared people and a huge intricate system of police and firefighter personnel. When pressed for a death toll, (at a time when we thought maybe 10,000 people were dead) Giuliani refused to give a specific number but said the final tally would be "more than we can bear."

In contrast, Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin revealed their not too sophisticated experience in press conferences and openly surmised that the death toll would be in hundreds of thousands. Public officials guessing death tolls do not accomplish anything. Public officials need to be making phone calls, assembling their fire and police chiefs, finding out where the problems are and addressing those problems. MSNBC'S Martin Savidge showed video of 2 female police officers looting a Wal-Mart that had electricity and was located in dry land. Why weren't those police officers helping to save lives and working in flooded areas?

Worse, Mayor Nagin is now openly blaming federal authorities. By lashing out and losing his cool, the mayor has shown that he was not up to the task of sheparding 100,000 people through a crisis. People will begin to ask how come the City of New Orleans, better aware of its geographical limitations better than any federal agency, was not able to have a long-established plan that could be put into action?

The images of New Orleans are heart-breaking and horrifying. It is distressing to see fellow Americans in such a dire predicament. New Orleans has been battling police corruption and low levels of staffing for years. Hurricane Katrina was so devastating that the levees broke. Unfortunately, the combination of a history of poor city management and an environmental disaster resulted in innocent people's lives being lost and ruined.

Rudy Giuliani did such a good job on 9/11 that he made it look easy. People took it for granted that any mayor can show strength, leadership and comfort millions of people through a major crisis. However, Mayor Nagin's leadership failure, much of it due to circumstances beyond his control, has reminded us that Rudy Giuliani was a special kind of mayor.

Yahoo: New Orleans Descends Into Anarchy , police turn in badges

Other blogs on the story: Winds of Change, Slant Point, LaShawn Barber, Michelle Malkin, Mudville Gazette, Alarming News, Evangelical Outpost, Res Publica, Right Wing News, Captains Quarters, Outside the Beltway, Backcountry Conservatives, Jen Martinez, Back of the Envelope, GOP Bloggers, Vodka Pundit on personal memories of New Orleans, Hold the Mayo, Broken Masterpieces, Ramblings Journal, Deans World, Ace of Spades, Annika, and The Smarter Cop

Check out Up for Anything, a poignant first-hand account of the flood.

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It doesn't help matters when an elected official is openly weeping and complaining during the course of a radio intervew. New Orleans Mayor Nagin did exactly that at a time when his city needs him most.

What is more alarming is his defeatist rhetoric about the demise of New Orleans. Yes, a disaster occured but now is not the time to lose hope. Many people did die but the vast majority of New Orleans residents survived. A great deal of people did safely evacuate the city.

Instead of being pessimistic, the mayor should sound a note of optimism to a day that New Orleans will rise up again. Most of the people lived through this disaster. The city is still standing.

Yes, it will be a herculean task to clear out the flood but New Orelans is not gone, it is still there.

NAGIN: "You know the reason why the looters got out of control? Because we had most of our resources saving people. Thousands of people. That was stuck in attics, man. Old ladies. When you pull off the doggone ventilator vent and you look down there and they're standing in there, in water up to their freakin' neck.
I need reinforcements. I need troops, man. I need 500 buses, man. We're talking about, you know, one of the briefings we had they were talking about getting, you know, public school bus drivers to come down here and bus people out of here. I'm I'm like, you gotta be kidding me, this is a national disaster. Get every doggone Greyhound bus line in the country and get their asses moving to New Orleans. They're thinking small, man. And this is a major, major, major deal. And I can't emphasize it enough, man. This is crazy!
So, what you seen is drug-starving, crazy addicts. Drug addicts that are wreaking havoc. And we don't have the manpower to adequately deal with it.
This is ridiculous. I don't want to see anybody do anymore goddamn press conferences. Put a moratorium on press conferences. Don't do another press conference until the resources are in this city. And then come down to this city and stand with us when there are military trucks and troops that we can't even count. Don't tell me 40,000 people are coming here! They're not here!

I'm at the point now where it don't matter. People are dying. They don't have homes, they don't have jobs. The city of New Orleans will never be the same. And it's time... (crying) ... (2 radio hosts are also crying)... I gotta go ...(crying as he hangs up).

Click here to listen to audio tape of WWL Radio interview with Mayor Ray Nagin, courtesty of MSNBC

Other blogs on the New Orleans Flood story: Michelle Malkin, Outside the Beltway, and Wizbang.



The cable news media on Thursday night focused on actions of the federal government while ignoring the abdication and capitulation of city and state governments in New Orleans

Cable news types like MSNBC'S Keith Olbermann and CNN'S Aaron Brown and Larry King bored in on what the federal government was doing in response to the New Orleans Flood that started on Tuesday. Never were questions asked about the first line of defense, planning on the city government's part, nor asked about the best use of local resources, the state government.

The way the tv anchors were asking questions you would think that President Bush is serving roles of mayor, governor and commander-in-chief all rolled into one.


McINTRYE: And as to your question about political, I talked to a lot of people at the Pentagon today who were very frustrated about the fact that the perception was being created that the military didn't move fast enough. And they did it somewhat as political. They thought that part of the motivation was the critics of the administration to make the president look bad.

And they seemed to question the motives of some of our reporters who were out there and hearing these stories from the victims about why they had so much sympathy for the victims, and not as much sympathy for the challenges that the government met in meeting this challenge.

And I have to say thinking about that, it doesn't really seem all that unusual that you would tend to understand the plight of the victims a little more than the bureaucrats in Washington.

BROWN: Yes, I mean, I'm glad you told us that. And they have every right to believe they believe and think the way they think. I mean, and I mean that. But you've got people who have been living as refugees. It is not hard to understand why our first heart beat goes in their direction. We'll worry about the bureaucrats later.


KING: We'll be calling on you a lot, Senator Frist. We appreciate it. One other thing, any comment on what Jesse Jackson said about equipment and men that are in Iraq that could have helped here?


OLBERMANN: And for the future, once they get the people out, once they get the water out, could it be years before New Orleans can again be fully habitable? Will the city need to be decontaminated?

And where is the federal government?


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