Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Katrina Report Ignores the Facts


Glenn points to an analysis of the House report on preparedness for Hurricane Katrina and finds that it ignores pretty much every single fact in order to reach what were evidently the conclusions they had already decided upon.

I remember the run-up to the hurricane, and there were no warnings from anyone that it would wreak the sort of devastation on New Orleans that it did. It's a good thing too, because they all would have been wrong: the hurricane did only superficial damage to the city. It was the breaking of the long-neglected levees that did all the damage.

You can argue till you're blue in the face that the federal government didn't do enough, but if your argument doesn't start with the words: "The city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana were primarily to blame for everything that happened there as a result of Katrina" then you don't know what you're talking about.

I've pointed out elsewhere on multiple occasions that the levees which failed were under the direct control of the city and state: there was no federal jurisdiction over them. The source of the problem is there: not the response. That's like trying to blame the cowboy for not rounding up the herd fast enough after you refused to fix the fence they escaped through - even though everybody who passed by told you there was a huge hole in it and that it was just a matter of time before the herd got loose.

For decades, they had been warned that a direct hurricane hit would overwhelm the levees - even when they were in their original condition. But instead of taking the billions of tax dollars they earned from oil and natural gas revenues as well as the tourism taxes and investing it for the safety of their citizens, they blew it on wasteful spending. Louisiana has long been known for its corrupt political culture, and when Katrina hit the chickens came home to roost. A problem they had intentionally ignored for years was suddenly real and they needed a scapegoat...so they all blamed the federal government in general - and President Bush specifically - for not rescuing them from their own stupidity fast enough.

I try to have sympathy for the people of New Orleans, but I find it difficult. The day before Katrina hit, no one was trying to get the levees fixed. They continually voted in politicians they knew were doing nothing about the threat, and then when their own decisions left them under water they decided to blame everyone but themselves. Great evil is done by the negligence of good men. And even if they were good men before the hurricane hit, their actions afterward have left me mostly devoid of sympathy for their plight: they have behaved as cowards and fools trying to avoid any admission that they did anything wrong while smearing the good name of everyone who tried to help them.

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