Sunday, September 04, 2005

I Must Defend the President and New Orleans from Katrina Smears

Most of the television news channels and the political left have been hysterical in their comments about Hurricane Katrina. CNN actually committed fraud by editing out of a previous newscast the report that the President had urged local officials to evacuate New Orleans before Katrina hit. Insane claims by left-wing nuts that President Bush botched the recovery effort on purpose so as to kill black people are repeated by the Main Stream Media without analysis or perspective. Meanwhile, no one points out that it was President Bush who implored Governor Blanco to issue a first-ever mandatory evacuation order for the city, an action by the President that probably saved tens of thousands of lives.

First, as to the comments by Speaker Haskert on not rebuilding New Orleans:

Obviously the city cannot be sited the same way it was, with much of it below the surrounding water levels, but the Stratfor Intelligence Organization says, “The ports of South Louisiana and New Orleans, which run north and south of the city, are as important today as at any point during the history of the republic. On its own merit, the Port of South Louisiana is the largest port in the United States by tonnage and the fifth-largest in the world. It exports more than 52 million tons a year, of which more than half are agricultural products -- corn, soybeans and so on. A larger proportion of U.S. agriculture flows out of the port. Almost as much cargo, nearly 57 million tons, comes in through the port -- including not only crude oil, but chemicals and fertilizers, coal, concrete and so on.

A simple way to think about the New Orleans port complex is that it is where the bulk commodities of agriculture go out to the world and the bulk commodities of industrialism come in. The commodity chain of the global food industry starts here, as does that of American industrialism. If these facilities are gone, more than the price of goods shifts: The very physical structure of the global economy would have to be reshaped. Consider the impact to the U.S. auto industry if steel doesn't come up the river, or the effect on global food supplies if U.S. corn and soybeans don't get to the markets.” "", George Friedman, 9/2/05

Second, as to the hurricane being caused by global warming:

“There’s no evidence, in fact, of any increase in either the frequency or the intensity of hurricanes since Man has been polluting the atmosphere. The US National Hurricane Center says that an average of 19 hurricanes hit the US landmass each decade in the second half of the 19th century. In the second half of the 20th century, the average was 14. In the first half of this decade, the US is precisely on course to meet the stable average frequency of the most serious hurricanes (Category 3, 4, and 5) of the past 100 years.” "Times Online", Gerald Baker, 9/2/05

Third, as to the response by President Bush:

Certainly his first address to the country could have been better, but the primary responsibility for preparing for the hurricane and for evacuation and rescue was clearly in the hands of the mayor and the governor, who, incidentally, had the legal responsibility to activate the LA National Guard and to request Guard units from other states. The picture of the buses not being used and not even moved to high ground (nor were police cars) tells it all. New Orleans, a 287-year-old city built below sea level in the middle of a superhighway for hurricanes, needed at least a bare-bones plan for a catastrophic emergency — a Category 4 hurricane or the breaching of one of its levees.

As far as we can tell, it didn't have one. Certainly not one that worked. Maybe years of political and police corruption in Louisiana and New Orleans matter today more than people think.

“All of these developments -- old as well as recent -- give our state the image of a Third World country where bribes and kickbacks grease the wheels of government for a select few. It's not just an image problem; it is rooted in reality. Louisiana traditionally ranks among the most corrupt states in the nation, according to a 2004 report by the Corporate Crime Reporter for the National Press Club.” “Best of New”, 8/16/05

Fourth, as to the levees giving way due to federal budget cuts:

The levees that collapsed were ones that had recently been improved with federal money.
Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, chief of engineers for the Corps, dismissed suggestions that recent federal funding decreases or delayed contracts had any impact on levee performance in the face of Katrina's overwhelming force. “National Geographic News”, 9/2/05

It’s still unclear whether even with higher levels of funding the levees would have been strong enough to withstand Katrina in time. The Army Corps of Engineers has backed the president and said that the levees were built for only a category three hurricane and were in satisfactory shape. “Times Online”, 9/4/05

Fifth, as to rescue attempts being hampered by a shortage of military personnel due to the Iraq War:

Ten-thousand more National Guard troops are going to Louisiana and Mississippi. -- That brings the total to about 40-thousand. “Associated Press”, 9/3/05

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At 5:35 AM, Anonymous steve said...

I agree with the main intent of your post that Bush is taking some unfair and exagerated criticism.
However, regardless of what had or hadn't been done in the past, once the hurricance happened, it was up to Bush...and more specifically FEMA to respond aprropriately and timely. They did neither.
On a more generic level, I think our expectations of how we can respond may be excessive...EXPECTATION that we would have food and water for the thousands stranded by Tuesday were unrealistic. However, no water by thursday and friday???

To play the race card is foolish. Victims of poverty, yes...not race. It just so happened that the vast majority of the POOR are black.


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