Katrina recriminations: Blame federalism!

A mostly political Weblog.
Sept. 5 2005 5:21 AM

Faster Katrina Recriminations

Blame federalism!

(Continued from Page 1)

Here's a J-School question: Has the network TV coverage of the N.O. Superdome fiasco a) made the situation seem to be worse than it really was (because TV always focuses on the negative things--the crime, the snafus, the corpses and complaints, etc.) or b) made the situation seem better than it really was (because network TV didn't want to make it look as if a heavily African-American crowd of refugees couldn't behave itself)? ... I was going to guess a) until I read this [via Althousevia Slate ] and this.. 11:38 P.M. link

Faster Recriminations! Frequent kf e-mailer T. makes another good-but-impolite point about the rapidly developing storm of Katrina recriminations:

the authors of the [2002]  times-picayune series, the designers of the government desktop exercise, and all the other authors of studies on the danger facing N.O. are now as a group getting a big thumbs up for prescience from the CW.  But hey, which one of them saw what was developing for 72 hours over Miami and the Gulf and sent up a timely flare last week, warning, "Hey, the levee is going to fail and N.O. will be over 50% inundated!"  If somebody said it, I did not hear it.  That would have been prescient. [ital added]

Maybe they did and weren't heeded. Maybe not. ... The more general, but equally impolite, point is that reporters (like the authors of government studies) are citizens and have an ongoing moral responsibility even after their pieces are published. The treatement of journalism as a "profession"--you do your job, write your article, then it becomes someone else's job--tends to obscure this. ...Backfill: On Sunday, August 28, the AP's Allen Breed was quoting N.O. Mayor Ray Nagin saying, "The storm surge will most likely topple our levee system." [Note: Brendan Loy has him saying "top," not "topple."] Once the town's mayor acknowledges the threat I suppose everyone assumes that all appropriate action is being taken. The previous week, as T. says, would have been the period when truly prescient journos and bureaucrats should have been screaming. ..

Update: Blogger Brendan Loy was screaming  before Sunday, notes  Instapundit, who was linking to him. Loy ragged on Mayor Nagin in real time--this, for example, from last Saturday:

I can't emphasize enough what a bad decision I think it is for New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin to delay the mandatory evacuation order until tomorrow morning.

and a bit later that day:

Okay, so let me get this straight: the governor calls the mayor during dinner, and basically says "HEY, IDIOT, CALL THE F***IN' HURRICANE CENTER!" It took a phone call from the governor to convince him to make this call?!? Well anyway, the mayor calls the NHC, and they basically tell him, "GET EVERYONE OUT OF YOUR CITY NOW!!!" So now, finally, the mayor is apparently planning to order first mandatory evacuation in city history tomorrow morning. About damn time.

And this from a day earlier, on Friday, August 26:

Much of the media seems convinced that this is still exclusively a Florida issue, which is just not true. Drudge's headline is "Katrina could be Cat. 4 at second Fla. strike," which is ridiculous, considering the current expected landfall is along the Alabama/Mississippi border, and that's on the eastern edge of the computer-model guidance. That's not to say a Florida landfall isn't still possible -- it certainly is -- but people need to be making preparations RIGHT NOW all along the northern Gulf coast, especially New Orleans.

UPDATE: Welcome, InstaPundit readers! Also,  click here to read about what the hurricane could do to New Orleans if she's strong enough and makes a direct hit on the city. Bottom line: tens of thousands could die.

Loy's blog for the past week is a pretty extraordinary document. It should maybe be in the Smithsonian, if you can put a blog in the Smithsonian. ... See also this linky  semi-anti-second-guessing post. ... And Loy's most recent anti-Nagin item. ...

P.S.: I'm not saying Bush and the Feds don't clearly deserve major grief  for not getting today's National Guard aid convoy into downtown New Orleans a couple of days earlier. Some people are probably dead as a result. But the commentators on Washington Week in Review seemed a little too happy when proclaiming this a "debacle" that will damage Bush politically for a long, long time. And I don't think they were happy just because Bush has suffered a blow. I think it's because the hurricane and its New Orleans aftermath at least seemed to solve a big problem for anti-Bush commentators and politicians.  Previously, they couldn't grouse about the Iraq War without seeming defeatist (and anti-liberationist and maybe even selfishly isolationist). Even the Clintons never figured a way out of that trap. But nature has succeded where they failed; it has opened up a way out, at least temporarily. Now Bush opponents can argue, in some cases quite accurately, that without the Iraq deployment aid would have gotten to New Orleans faster. And 'if we can [tk] in Iraq, why can't we [tk] in our own South?' They aren't being selfish. They are just asserting priorities! In short, Katrina gives them a way to talk about Iraq without talking about Iraq. No wonder Gwen Ifill smiles the "inner smile."

P.P.S.: We Need a Katrina Witt! Bruce Reed  misses a cheap bad headline. ... 3:25 P.M. link

Thursday, September 1, 2005

The truth is that even on a normal day, New Orleans is a sad city. Sure, tourists think New Orleans is fun: you can drink and hop from strip club to strip club all night on Bourbon Street, and gamble all your money away at Harrah's. But the city's decline over the past three decades has left it impoverished and lacking the resources to build its economy from within. New Orleans can't take care of itself even when it is not 80 percent underwater ...

New Orleans teems with crime, and the NOPD can't keep order on a good day. Former commissioner Richard Pennington brought New Orleans' crime rate down from its peak during the mid-1990s. But since Pennington's departure, crime rates have soared, to ten times the national average. The NOPD might have hundreds of decent officers, but it has a well-deserved institutional image as corrupt, brutal, and incompetent. [Emph. added]

8:27 P.M.

Biden Inside Baseball Bonus: A knowledgeable reader emails, regarding yesterday's Biden item--

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