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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Politics At Its Worst

Democrats, liberals and other Bush haters just can’t wait for a fresh opportunity to bash their favorite villain.

The last great opportunity in the form of Cindy Sheehan had run its course, and things were just too quiet. So as the day after the worst natural disaster to strike the United States in decades (or ever, by some accounts) dawned, the snipers, whiners, bellyachers, moaners and groaners, buck-passers, cheap-shot artists, political haymakers, shysters, finger-pointers, grumblers, and other related malcontents took to the airwaves, print vehicles and blog sites to spew their venom.

It’s easy to understand that people are appalled at the human suffering they see 24 hours a day on cable news. The situation on the Gulf Coast is indeed horrible, and our sympathy and even our anger are appropriate responses in such cases.

What is not acceptable is the furor created by the Bash Bushing Bunch, which is not so much angry that a huge storm leveled homes, churches and businesses in a wide area of three states, or that a major U.S. city, illogically positioned and built below sea level, is mostly under water, as it is eager to take shots at the President of the United States. What is also unacceptable is the complicity of the media in this cheap exercise.

Most offensive is not that people want to know what happened to delay needed relief efforts, but that even before they know what happened they are ready, ropes in hand, to hang George Bush. This crude and tawdry behavior is unbefitting of Americans, and an ABC News/Washington Post poll shows most Americans hold state and local authorities more responsible than the federal government by a 75 percent to 67 percent margin, and President Bush is thought responsible by 44 percent. A CNN-Gallup-USA Today poll found that only 13% blamed Bush, and only 18% blamed federal agencies. (Previous poll information corrected)

These critics are beyond taking sound advice, or following reasonable suggestions to keep quiet for a month or so until the situation can be stabilized. They don’t understand how relief efforts are designed, and they don’t care. It is pure politics, and everybody knows political activity often takes place the gutter. Such is the nature of this inappropriate noise.

The President has been roundly and inappropriately blamed for failing to put federal relief efforts in action. The agency targeted for criticism is the Federal Emergency Management Agency: FEMA. However, it is not FEMA’s role to be first on the scene of a disaster. According to the agency’s Strategic Plan, “In accordance with FEMA’s primary authorizing legislation, the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, … primary responsibility for disaster response rests with State and local authorities. This means FEMA does not respond to all disasters that occur in the United States. Instead, when State and local capacity to respond is threatened or overwhelmed, a Governor may ask the President for Federal assistance.” [Emphasis added] Clearly, FEMA is not supposed to do what many Americans mistakenly blame it for not doing.

While the Bush Bashing Bunch is still in manic mode, some common sense has filtered through the intolerant din of blame from Bush critics. Bob Williams, President of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, writing in the Wall Street Journal a column, titled Blame Amid the Tragedy: Who should be held accountable for the response to Katrina, had the following analysis:

Many in the media are turning their eyes toward the federal government, rather than considering the culpability of city and state officials. I am fully aware of the challenges of having a quick and responsive emergency response to a major disaster. And there is definitely a time for accountability; but what isn't fair is to dump on the federal officials and avoid those most responsible -- local and state officials who failed to do their job as the first responders. The plain fact is, lives were needlessly lost in New Orleans due to the failure of Louisiana's governor, Kathleen Blanco, and the city's mayor, Ray Nagin.

The primary responsibility for dealing with emergencies does not belong to the federal government. It belongs to local and state officials who are charged by law with the management of the crucial first response to disasters. First response should be carried out by local and state emergency personnel under the supervision of the state governor and his/her emergency operations center.

The actions and inactions of Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin are a national disgrace due to their failure to implement the previously established evacuation plans of the state and city. Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin cannot claim that they were surprised by the extent of the damage and the need to evacuate so many people. Detailed written plans were already in place to evacuate more than a million people. The plans projected that 300,000 people would need transportation in the event of a hurricane like Katrina. If the plans had been implemented, thousands of lives would likely have been saved.

But such reasoned explanations will fall on deaf ears, because most of the critics really don’t care about accurately assigning responsibility for inaction or wrong action, they care only about their narrow self-important goal of blaming George Bush.

The nation’s growing dependence upon the federal government to solve all our problems has invaded and destroyed to a significant degree the ability of Americans to think for themselves and act in their own best interest as individuals. So, when Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, those addicted to government incorrectly believed that Washington ought to have had federal relief efforts on the outskirts of New Orleans, Gulf Port and Biloxi with boats, helicopters, trucks, buses, bulldozers, food, water, medicine and thousands of first responders at the ready.

These expectations are not only unreasonable; they are irrational.

So many of the American people suffer from one or both of these obsessions – dependence on the federal government, and hatred for George Bush. It is nauseating and disgusting. It threatens our very existence.

A country so deeply divided along political lines that even a great tragedy is fair game for political opportunism, and whose citizens are so dependent upon government to solve its problems that they can no longer think clearly, surely can’t survive for very long.


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12 comments:

Anonymous said...
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i eat puppies said...

And the GOP talking point echo chambers rings on...

But before I start my rant, all this blame and finger pointing could be solved rather easily with an independent, bipartisan investigation, don't you think? So far, the GOP is too scared of what they might find, so they'll head one up themselves. Wonder who they'll find responsible (certainly not the Dear Leader)

1) POLLS
"an ABC News/Washington Post poll shows most Americans hold state and local authorities more responsible than the federal government by a 75 percent to 67 percent margin, and President Bush is thought responsible by just 13 percent. "

First, get your sources straight. The 13% is from CNN-Gallup-USA today, and in addition to the 13% blaming Bush, an additional 18% blamed federal agencies, to which Bush appponits the heads("Tou're doing a great job, Brownie"). That explanation is courtesy of T. Neal, Washington Post, as is the following:

"But in the same poll [CNN-G-USAT], people were asked a separate question -- judge how the president did in responding to the hurricane. And 42 percent said "bad" or "terrible" compared to 35 percent who said "great" or "good." "

I'm further confused by your poll claims- "ABC News/Washington Post poll shows most Americans hold state and local authorities more responsible than the federal government by a 75 percent to 67 percent margin", ...which equals 142%? That's fuzzy math.

Additionally, I read the write up of the WP/ABC poll taken last Friday, 9/2 (although not the poll itself) and the numbers 75% and 67% don't show up anywhere. Do you have your polls confused, or did WP/ABC do another one?

Here are some other interesting ones. Apparently, the American weren't too impressed with Bush's proclamation that he's looking forward to sitting on Trent Lott's rebuilt front porch, or that he thinks no one could forsee the levees breaking (except people w/ 1/2 a brain), or that supply deliveries were halted so he could walk around looking presidential, or that he assigned 50 trained emergency rescue workers to the important mission of walking with Bush while he looks at damage:

http://zogby.com/news/ReadNews.dbm?ID=1020

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/09/08/opinion/polls/main824591.shtml

2) DISASTER PLANS
You may be right on the FEMA plan.
But the National Response Plan (NRP), drawn up by DHS (of which FEMA is a part of, thanks to Bush) specifically states that the federal governement can take proactive measures (http://www.dhs.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/NRP_FullText.pdf):

"Standard procedures regarding requests for assistance
may be expedited or, under extreme circumstances,
SUSPENDED IN THE IMMEDIATE AFTERMATH OF AN EVENT OF CATASTROPHIC MAGNITUDE." (pg 43) (Emphasis mine)

Bob Williams and his Foundation are very conservative and partisan- I expect nothing but high praise from him for Bush, possibly a letter writing campaign to have Brownie awarded the Pres. Medal of Freedom.

3) FEDERAL GOV DEPENDENCE:
"The nation’s growing dependence upon the federal government to solve all our problems has invaded and destroyed to a significant degree the ability of Americans to think for themselves and act in their own best interest as individuals. So, when Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, those addicted to government incorrectly believed that Washington ought to have had federal relief efforts on the outskirts of New Orleans, Gulf Port and Biloxi with boats, helicopters, trucks, buses, bulldozers, food, water, medicine and thousands of first responders at the ready."

Actually, one could argue those people were acting in their own self interest, although not appreciating the magnitude of the devastation. These people don't own cars, have no insurance or savings. Leaving literally would have meant leaving everything they had, with no means to replace it (I wonder how many homes Chertoff owns).

Ironically, the current GOP agenda (and the agenda of the past 5 years) have made these "dependents" even more dependant on the government, and swelled their ranks.
Well, at least they'll be able to watch the game tonight on their looted TVs, right?

i eat puppies said...

On another note, Mr. Shott, if I was the only one who complained about that number thing (to block spam) then by all means, put it back up. I was just frustrated at first b/c I couldn't publish a comment at first (the number entry box was below my window, and since I never had to scroll down before, I didn't think to then)

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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i eat puppies said...

This is good:

From http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/thedebate/2005/09/facts_and_rumor.html#more

"In 1995, the Washington Monthly wrote about FEMA's miraculous turnaround after its abysmal performance dealing with Hurricane Andrew. In that story was this tidbit from Jeffrey Itell, who conducted a massive study of FEMA's operations, which uncovered that FEMA had extensive powers according to the Stafford Act that, to everyone's detriment, it was not exercising:


'We found that without state requests, FEMA could assess the catastrophic area, assess what assistance the state needed, start mobilizing that relief, present its recommendations to the governor, and, if necessary … get in the governor's face to force the issue of accepting federal help.'


Again, that's without state requests"

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James Howard Shott said...

i e p, I appreciate the time you've taken to write a detailed comment. However, I can't devote the time it deserves at this particular time (I'm pretty far behind responding to comments already, and I'm covered up with responsibilities outside the blog), but I must make a couple of comments.

First, RE: polls. I mistakenly quoted a figure from the CNN/Gallop/USA Today poll in the ABC/Washington Poll figures. I had looked at two polls, and honestly just mistakenly mixed the two. I have corrected that, and included your 13% figure from C/G/USAT.


Your confusion from my poll figures stems from the fact that you added up the results of two separate questions as if they were part of the same question ["an ABC News/Washington Post poll shows most Americans hold state and local authorities more responsible than the federal government by a 75 percent to 67 percent margin"]. Those figures were taken from the ABC News site (http://abcnews.go.com/US/HurricaneKatrina/story?id=1094262&page=1&CMP=OTC-RSSFeeds0312)

Regarding the possible investigations, I fully support both an administrative and a Congressional investigation. However, I continue to maintain that now is not the time for that. A major point of my recent columns is that too many people are shooting off their mouths with abysmally little evidence to back up their criticism. I'm not defending Bush or the federal government, but I had little trouble shooting holes in the arguments of the critics, so if people would just take the time to look around a little, they could do that, as well.

Of course, finding facts would only get in the way of some, because their purpose is not to find the truth, but to find fault with George Bush.

I believe an objective person would have to conclude (at least at this point in time) that the first screw up came at the hands of the Louisana Governor and the New Orleans Mayor, both of whom failed to implement their own plans. FEMA may -- and I emphasize mayby have failed to act as promptly as it could have, but I will have to see a thorough analysis of the relevant information before I will accept that FEMA deserves much criticism.

i eat puppies said...

No worries onthe delayed response. And I see my error in reading the stats you provided.
I understand if you don't have time to respond to this, or if you would prefer to move on to another thread, but I concl;uded from this that you do not support (not necessarily oppose) and independent investigation into what happened?

James Howard Shott said...

RE: investigations. You might think that the Democrats would be as anxious to investigate this disaster response as they were anxious to criticize Bush/FEMA. But they aren't. Could be that they know that if they do investigate, a Democrat Mayor, a Democrat Governor, and a Democrat Senator all will be cast in a far less than positive light.

i eat puppies said...

Yes, I think an independent investigation would show both parties screwed the proverbial pooch. My worry is that, with the investigations being proposed thus far, state and local will shoulder all of the blame, while people like Brownie will give given shiny medals.