Friday, September 09, 2005

Let me make myself perfectly clear...

Just in case the posts below don't spell it out, regardless of the scope of the Katrina disaster as it appeared in the early hours afterward, President Bush should have reported there personally ASAP-- like Tuesday afternoon, maybe. Some people would find a reason to criticize him no matter when he showed up, so he wasn't going to "win" politically in any case. But he should have gone, pronto.

For one thing, his mere presence would have put some pressure on the unfortunately-named Governor Blanco to make a decision about something, so that maybe the Guard, or FEMA, or the Red Cross, could have been permitted to enter. But it also would have been the right thing for Bush to do as a human being, and that is what most ordinary American people feel they can count on from him-- not eloquence, not even wisdom at every turn, but common decency.

By the way, the evidence is all over now that FEMA is actually doing a better job on this crisis than they normally do (never mind Senator Clinton's preposterous claim that things were better under her hubby). They have been tardier in Florida, but truly outdid themselves in Charleston, South Carolina. When Hurricane Hugo hit in 1989 FEMA arrived a month late, and then (as I learned from my friend whose family has lived there since the 18th century, and whose antebellum home was reduced to a pile of kindling) high-tailed it out of town to attend to the San Francisco World Series earthquake later that year-- and even two years later there were people out on the islands or deep in the woods who were still living in tents and never received any assistance at all. (Maybe some FEMA guys went to Charleston, West Virginia instead!!)

I am also reminded of my visit to my parents near Dallas just after the Shuttle Columbia crashed in 2003. When I landed at DFW airport there were busloads of firemen who had been brought in from out of state to help comb the area for debris. They numbered in "busloads" but they had no buses, and had been marooned at the airport for more than 24 hours-- no showers, no beds, and, until airport personnel took pity on them, no access to food because they had proceeded out to the baggage claim area (expecting transportation to be waiting), which is outside the security gates. Another FEMA triumph.

Maybe our expectations of FEMA are ridiculously high (especially when so few people who ought to know better seem to be aware of the restrictions placed on them by state law), but their performance has been quite consistent-- fumble, stumble, oh yeah, head 'em up/move 'em out! All things considered, maybe FEMA in Lousianna hasn't been half bad!

I stand corrected! -- and salute one "Old World" partner

He may be "over there" but this Old World (see Price of Independence below) denizen has the political hurricane all figured out -- no anti-Americanism here, just healthy anti-B.S. in high gear.
With thanks to Slugger O'Toole at

we have an excellent (and suitably sarcastic) Northern Irish take on the fallout from Katrina's ill winds, as written by Newton Emerson at the Irish Times.
Hat tip: the keen eye of Glenn Reynolds at