Brooks on the Reaction to Katrina:
I'm not sure I agree with him, but David Brooks has an interesting piece in the Sunday NYT about the ripple effects of Hurricane Katrina on the American psyche.
Justin Kee (mail):
I agree with David Brooks. He is spot on. I live in an urban area. If a disaster of the scale of Katrina were to impact my area, I would be extremely concerned as to the fallout for rich and poor alike. Particularly for the poor.

The fact that the gentlemen in charge of the DHS and FEMA are incompetent political appointees in the worst sense is nothing more than gross, sheer, outrageous and reckless negligence upon the part of the administration. How are we supposed to trust the President's nominee for the Supreme Court when the person he chose to be the head of FEMA was fired for mismanaging the Arabian Horse Association (or something)? And the fact that Chertoff was debating an NPR reporter, who was at the NO convention center, about the existence of numerous persons at said convention center?

I do not understand how one could rationally support the currrent administation and their social and economic policies after the events of the past week. I am physically sickened by what I have seen and feel ashamed to be an American.

I feel bad to have supported the republican system of power in this nation, I feel ill supporting the prima facia democratic notions that this is a cohesive nation.

I no longer believe that we are one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all. The evidence no longer supports that assertion. Make no mistake, Thomas Jefferson, Geroge Washington, James Madison and the rest of the Convention would be decrying this injustice with their last living breath.
9.5.2005 2:23am
Don Hamrick (mail):
David Brooks wrote: "Katrina means that the political culture, already sour and bloody-minded in many quarters, will shift. There will be a reaction. There will be more impatience for something new. There is going to be some sort of big bang as people respond to the cumulative blows of bad events and try to fundamentally change the way things are."

How about this for something new or rather, something old:

Hurricane Katrina Destruction of New Orleans Proves the Need to Abolish the Department of Homeland Security and Restore Local Control!

Abolish Department of Homeland Security!

Abolish FEMA!!

Elevate Stature of State Defense Forces/State Guards

Elevate Stature of Unorganized Militia

The mayor of New Orleans could have taken precautions without an addictive dependency upon the United States Government or the Department of Homeland Security or FEMA to effectively evacuate the people. The mayor, the sheriff, or a district judge under Lousiana law could have called out the Lousiana State Guard, the Louisiana Unorganized Militia. If the mayor of New Orleans failed to take proper action then the sheriff or a district judge could have ordered out the militia forces under the command of the Senior Officer of a militia command, be it the Lousiana State Guard, the Lousiana Unorganized Militia (since the Lousiana Army National Guard is or was in Iraq). This disaster was exacerbated by the Louisiana State and local government depending and relying upon the Federal Government to come to their rescue when The citizen's of Lousiana themselves could more easily, and more quickly, rescue themselves under a political, social, and legal ideology of Local Control with the proper balance of powers found in the Tenth Amendmet to the Bill of Rights.

State laws were already on the books to make this act of local control happen. The governor has or was supposed to have personal military and naval advisors on his staff as mandated by State law. It is clear the mayor and the governor failed to do their duty under Louisian law in effecting a properly executed rescue of the people while maintaining law and order by failing to call out the Louisiana State Guard, or the unorganized militias!!

Will this be the national turning point in restoring the State Defense Force/State Guards and the unorganized militia to their rightful position in their proper role for law and order? I hope so!

29 Lousiana Revised Statutes § 8. Senior officer of command ordering out forces

A. Whenever, under the circumstances mentioned in R.S. 29:7, it is not possible to communicate with the governor or the adjutant general, the senior officer of a command, upon the request of a mayor, a sheriff, or a district judge, shall order out the forces under his command, or any part thereof, for the protection of the community. As soon as possible, the senior officer shall report his action and the facts to the governor, the adjutant general, and his immediate commanding officer.

B. When the troops have arrived at the appointed place, the commanding officer shall receive and execute the general instructions that are given him by the mayor, the sheriff, or the district judge. These instructions shall be in writing if practicable. (Acts 1974, No. 622, § 1.)

29 Lousiana Revised Statutes § 17. Governor's personal staff

The governor may have a personal military and naval staff, the members of which are not in the national guard. Acts 1974, No. 622, § 1.

29 Lousiana Revised Statutes § 25. Manner of calling for duty

A. Officers and enlisted men may be called for duty in any of the following ways:

(1) By stating the substance of the order or by reading it to him in person or over the telephone.

(2) By radio or television communication.

(3) By leaving a copy of the order with a person of suitable age and discretion at his last known place of residence or business.

(4) By sending a copy of the order or a notice containing the substance thereof by mail, telegraph, or facsimile transmission directed to him at his last known place of residence or business or to the post office nearest thereto.

B. The call may be given by an officer or noncommissioned officer.

Acts 1974, No. 622, § 1; Acts 1992, No. 530 § , eff. July 1, 1992.
9.5.2005 7:42am
Don Hamrick (mail):
That further reminds me! Who are the real "First Responders?"

In the strict interpretation of "the Common Defence" clause of the Preamble to the Constution, the Second Amendment, and the Tenth Amendment, along with the guarantee of a Republican form of government, and the militia clause, and all things being the American apple pie, wouldn't the "First Responders" be the American People themselves?

When the definition of "First Responders" is implied to mean the emergency services of local government doesn't that instill the dependency upon government for one's own safety and security? I find this to be very disturbing form of government control through "Psy-Ops." A twisting of what is meant to be into something that ought not to be.

The true "First Responders" are the victims of crime and disasters. The "Respond" to their own emergency situation first through acts of self-defense if attacked by criminals, or acts of survival in a disaster.

"Second Responders" would therefore be the emergency services of local government.

The use of "First Responders" to man the People themselves responding to their own emergencies would give the People a sense of independence, of rights, and of duties to protect those rights. This social-political condition would be an unacceptable situation under the current distribution of power under the Department of Homeland Security.

This something to consider.
9.5.2005 8:31am
I think he is out to lunch.

The local and state government response to Katrina was a total failure, despite good intentions and earlier planning. This fact created a climate where the national government response was slower than it could have been. This seems to me to be what really happend.

Despite analysis to the contrary, all levels of government were unprepared for the levee breaks. Let's face it - if NO and the LA state govt. had really thought that could happen, they would have ordered and enforced a mandatory evacuation of the city. I refuse to believe that the mayor of NO and the governor of LA would have allowed anyone to stay if they had thought the city would be flooded and effectively cut off from relief efforts.

Since the levees didn't break until Tuesday sometime, there was no sense on any level until then of the second and more massive catastrophe (at least on the human level) that was about to occur. The media were reporting heavy damage, but less damage than feared. Mobilization began to respond to the heaviest damage, which at that time was thought to be in Missisippi.

What we had here was a forseen natual disaster compounded by an unforseen failure of human devices. When I say unforseen, I mean not in the theoretical but in real time.

Ultimately, this is not story about the failure of government, but of two concurrent disasters affecting a huge geographical area. The parallels with 9/11 as a disaster are so divergent as to be non-existant. The left-wing buzz machine immediately jumped on the administration and the media amplified their talking points, showing graphic pictures of human suffering and demanding something be done by somebody. The Democrat mayor and Governor added their voices to the chorus, all the while complicating the process and shifting the blame to the feds. What we have now is a disaster movie with the federal government as the bad guys that is almost completely fictional.

Brooks is saying that this fiction, along with the fictional claim that the government was somehow complicit in Enron, along with the fictional claim that WMD's were the reason for the Iraq war (they were a reason, but only one of several), along with steroids in baseball (steroids in baseball? Huh?), along with "the horror of Abu Ghraib" (Horror? Huh? No doubt scandalous, but "horror?") are going to cause America to undergo a political revolution. I'm sorry, I just don't agree.

But then, I don't claim to read tea leaves.
9.5.2005 9:31am
Don Hamrick (mail):
You did not specificy exactly who is out to lunch. I hope you do not me I am out to lunch with my posted opinion because your opinion reads very similar to mine.

When you make an opinionated accusation please be specific as to you you are directed your remarks. It is poor literary form to use non-specific pronoun, "He" when there are more the one subjects to identify in the conversation.

If it is I you refer to as being out to lunch may I ask what you would like on the menu? I'm going to Burger King. (humor intended).
9.5.2005 10:29am
Don Hamrick (mail):
No proofreading my writing is an example of poor literary form. The following is what I meant to write:

"When you make an opinionated accusation please be specific as to who you are directing your remarks."
9.5.2005 10:32am

I meant to say Brooks was out to lunch, not you. Sorry for the lack of clarity.
9.5.2005 11:30am
AppSocREs (mail):
Brooks's op-ed was just another left-wing rant, about how the people are finally going to see the froward mistakeness of their current ways and allow themselves once again to be ruled by their betters, the left-wing of the dimocrat party. The piece differs only in the reasons given for this forthcoming political realignment. Brooks's screed had little basis in reality, and probably has no value as a prediction of the ultimate public relations problems of George Bush or the Republican Party.

It bears pointing out that until just a day before the hurricane's landfall nobody was even guessing that Katrina might strike near New Orleans in such a way as to cause damage as extensive as that we've seen. If the various state, federal, and local governments had mobilized responses to the storm in the manner that Brooks seems to have suggested they should have, i.e., days in advance of landfall, we would have had a massive evacuation of the Florida pan handle and an evacuation of the same area. This would have been followed by massive daily evacuations and infusions of resources to various places along the Gulf from Florida to southeast Texas for each of the three or four days up to Katrina's landfall! I wonder if Mr. Brooks and his readers might have enough intelligence to grasp the difficulties imposed by this scenario.

The failure that ultimately innundated New Orleans was to sections of the levee that had recently been modernized. No massive infusion of money anytime in the past decade would have prevented this particular breach. It's also worth noting that in an editorial appearing within the last four years or so, the NYT fulminated against spending on upgrades to New Orleans levee system as egregious pork-barreling.

Much of the blame for the current crisis falls on local and state officials. They performed in a disgraceful fashion: This should not be particularly surprising in a state and city renowned for their political corruption. It's worth noting that dimocratically-dominated states like Louisiana, New Jersey, and my Commonwealth of Massachusetts seem particularly rife with corruption and incompetence. The citizens of New Orleans and Louisiana elected the state and loical officials who screwed things up. Many of these citizens have clearly shown abominable behavior, ranging at best from a lack of self-initiative to at worst capital thuggery. Their current problems and behavior might have been predicted from their past indifferent citizenship.

Ultimately, the people of Louisiana and New Orleans will judge the adequacy of their state and local leadership in this crisis and the people of the United States will do the same for the current administration. I suspect the final result, pace Mr. Brooks, may be a stronger Republican Party in Louisiana and New Orleans and no condemnation of the emergency response on the federal level.
9.5.2005 11:35am
Tom952 (mail):
Brooks' piece is highly emotional and overly negative, perhaps driven by the New York news agencies that have focused on New Orleans and omitted more organized recovery efforts in Mobile and Mississippi. He rambles on, connecting bodies falling on 9/11, Abu Ghraib, WMD, Enron, "the world's inability to do anything about rising oil prices" - all so he can close with a timely "tipping point" analogy, the cool phrase of the day in NYC.

Seems like he was having a bad moment when he wrote it.

The situation in New Orleans is very bad and the suffering is real, but it isn't the end of the civilization as we know it. It is a warning that if we are complacent, we can wake up someday and find ourselves in a very bad situation from which there is no good way out.
9.5.2005 12:26pm
erp (mail):
Brooks, like a lot of others, has gone over to the other side at the very first opportunity of their welcoming him as one of them. I guess being invited to those celebrity parties and inner sanctum secret handshakes is just too irresistible to turn down.

The Times gives itself credit for having a conservative on their editorial page and readers get a chance to read yet another article from a liberal point of view. Everyone's happy.
9.5.2005 12:29pm
Voiceguy in L.A.:
I agree with Tom952 -- my own reaction in reading Brooks's piece was that he was having a bad moment.

The implications of Brooks's thesis are troubling, to say the least. Even though New Orleans (and Louisiana generally) behaved irresponsibly, assuming that someone else would take responsibility and ride to their rescue when disaster struck, I don't see an answer in enabling this kind of behavior by moving the federal government into more generalized police powers. As it is, the federal government lacks the kind of accountability that state and local governments have, and this would simply make things worse.

Louisiana and New Orleans remind me of the profligate brother-in-law who can't hold a job, never attempts to take any responsibility, and depends on others to keep him afloat and bail him out of trouble. The immense vacuum in local government that has come to light following this disaster is appalling. (When I read, for example, that one challenge to pressing school buses into service was that the school system is in such chaos they cannot even locate all of their employees, I am left speechless.) I feel bad for the residents of New Orleans and neighboring areas, just as I felt bad for the residents near Chernobyl -- they are both the victims of bad government. (Or, perhaps more aptly in the case of New Orleans, no government at all.) Let's not make it even easier for bad government to stay in business.

Meanwhile, how come no one is talking about all the offers of aid pouring in from other countries? (Not.)
9.5.2005 2:00pm
Rhadamanthus (mail):
To Voiceguy in LA- Interesting post, until the last paragraph when I forgot everything you'd written and started choking.

Would place extra emphasis on

"It is the biggest aid operation launched from the UK since the response to the Indian Ocean tsunami on 26 December last year. "
9.5.2005 2:45pm
Brooks lost me when he wrote: "Over the past few years, we have seen intelligence failures in the inability to prevent Sept. 11 and find W.M.D.'s in Iraq. We have seen incompetent postwar planning. We have seen the collapse of Enron and corruption scandals on Wall Street. We have seen scandals at our leading magazines and newspapers, steroids in baseball, the horror of Abu Ghraib."

Is there a single decade that doesn't have it's share of scandals? In 1925, brooks could've written "we've seen the Teapot Dome Scandal, the collapse of the Hindenberg, the use of emetics by Jockeys in horse-racing, lawlessness in the streets as gangsters tommy gun each other over the right to serve bathtub gin to women in flapper skirts, and our republic can never recover from these crushing blows."
9.5.2005 9:50pm
Okay, Brooks would've had to add the hindenberg bit into his column during a 1937 edit, but the rest of my point stands. Brooks' histrionics shows amnesia to the other scandals from which our instutions have recovered.
9.5.2005 9:53pm
jaed (mail) (www):
It bears pointing out that until just a day before the hurricane's landfall nobody was even guessing that Katrina might strike near New Orleans in such a way as to cause damage as extensive as that we've seen

That is actually not true; New Orleans was within Katrina's 5-day prediction cone from August 26th on. And the public advisories indicate growing alarm.
9.6.2005 2:08am
AppSocRes (mail):
jaed: You are absolutely correct that I egregiously -- and incorrectly -- overstated my case when I said "until just a day before the hurricane's landfall nobody was even guessing that Katrina might strike near New Orleans". I apologize for that and you are right to call me on it. My only excuse is, that as an amateur, I should be allowed more leeway for my hyperbole than Mr Brooks.

But the point I tried to make with my overblown rhetoric still stands. Up until a day before landfall, the damage path of Katrina was so uncertain -- at the beginning of the period you mention projected landfall covered a seacoast span of at least 500 miles -- that it would have been ill-advised to compel evacuations in or start mobilizing disaster relief to particular locations.
9.6.2005 9:30am