Thursday, September 01, 2005

Monday-Morning Quarterbacking

Merely pointing out in the Pie-Eyed Pickle of the Week that some people must be held responsible for the continually unfolding breakdown of law and order in New Orleans as a result of Hurrican Katrina, provoked some commentary questioning how blame could be tossed around. Esteemed PeP Supercorrespondent Anti-Everything did some serious sleuthing and came up with a couple of great articles to give our readers a better understanding of how this tragedy was considered not a matter of if but when.

One is a series that appeared in the New Orleans Times-Picayune in 2002 that details many of the problems faced by the geography and topography of that city, and how various government agencies - particularly the Army Corps of Engineers - have played roles in both protecting residents and setting them up for this disaster.

The other is from Editor & Publisher, which goes a bit more in-depth on the financial issue and how over the past few years - as hurricane seasons have produced larger and more frequent storms - funding for the projects that were meant to protect New Orleans was slashed; the biggest reduction came just this past year. There is also an argument to be made (my apologies to Xtra who may see a political spin to this) for a direct correlation between lack of funding for flood-prevention projects in New Orleans and increased funding for the Iraq war.

Of course, as the title of this post shows, this is all Monday-morning quarterbacking (and undoubtedly the kind that drives President Bush bonkers); however, it will be necessary in the weeks, months, and years ahead to figure out exactly why steps weren't taken to prevent a catastrophe that everyone agrees was inevitable. One of the core duties of government is ensuring public safety. There has been a dramatic and drastic breakdown in the public safety of an entire municipality. If responsibility is not assigned, there is no way to learn from these mistakes, and they are doomed to be repeated.


Ilya said...

At the risk of unnecessarily pre-empting criticisms directed at Piper's assignment of blame on both the Army Corps of Engineers and other local government agencies, as well as federal funding for flood-prevention projects, let me clarify what blame means. For the responses on other (read: conservative) blogs to just this type of argument are sayings such as "the levees weren't designed to withstand a level 5 storm" and "there were no funding shortfalls to speak of, I don't know what you liberals are going on about," and so on.

Piper's point I think is straightforward: insofar as we think that the predominantly poor and black people of New Orleans have come to grief partly through the fault of irresponsible political action and decisions, we will blame the politicians and judge them, rather than merely pitying the victims. There must not be merely an element of fault, but a significant element of fault for blame to be warranted. Pity is due to only those who establish their innocence. Those who are guilty deserve blame.

xtrachromosomeconservative said...

I guess the other caveat is: before we can credibly assign blame or guilt, we have to assess the various failures.

archduke f. f. said...

Did anyone see this:

Apparently, LA's governor asked for federal assistance on the 28th of August. I got this link from dailykos, so it's obviously partisan; yet, it must be said that the link itself directs you to the LA government website, which means that it's not just partisan, but true.

xtrachromosomeconservative said...

This document mostly focuses on reimbursement requests for after the hurricane. It does indicate that the administration through, FEMA, was alerted, and thus should have been on emergency footing, and failed miserably. But it fails to articulate a plan for evacuation except for stipulating the conditions under which roads, bridges, and easements are to stay open. But as to evacuations, two words: School Buses. People get out, and you retain some of your capital. This unfortunately is not a plan, this document could just as well read: when everything gets blown to bits, we will need the feds to reimburse us. That's fine and dandy, but you can't reimburse the poor that lost their lives because they were stuck without any means of leaving.

xtrachromosomeconservative said...

Mayor Ray Nagin in today's WSJ:
“Get people to higher ground and have the feds and the state air-lift supplies to them--that was the plan, man.”
No link to provide, subscription required and I only get the paper version.