Thursday, September 01, 2005

Oooh, That's Scaary!

by Tom Bozzo

Nice try, Joe, but puh-leeze.
Kos is outraged that unscreened Canadian soldiers in unsecured Canadian military vehicles are being denied access to the disaster area... [emphasis added]
So... specially trained Canadian troops (Canadian, for frick's sake!)... might... infiltrate... materials that could lead to the overthrow of the U.S. health care system?

Needless to say, pointing Blogistan's variously bony or fleshy index finger at the straw man blaming Bush for the hurricane — as opposed to the inept and uncoordinated response to the hurricane legitimately bothering many on my side of the sphere (actions being more important than declarations, John Cole!) — will not stop me from noting the obvious: had this been an actual post-9/11 emergency, the administration would have had a hard time even managing to look resolute amidst the rubble, let alone passing muster in a strict counterfactualist evaluation. Which is reason #MCCXVIII why people who don't particularly care for Bush policies but go along on account of national security concerns should wake up and smell the frickin' coffee!

Addendum: In an update to his post, Joe Malchow clarifies that he doesn't think the Canadians have nefarious intent. That's a step in the right direction. He suggests (in the revised post and an e-mail) that he doesn't think we should let just anyone in unscreened. That is fair enough as a general principle, though I can't see how any evaluation of the risks and needs in this case wouldn't come out in favor of admitting the team.

His assertion that there are sufficient domestic resources in place is questionable, though. Moreover, the unit in question is not only a specialized urban search and rescue unit — not merely boots on the ground to try to keep basic order — but also (turning to the CTV story originally linked by Kos) its presence was reportedly specifically requested by Louisiana officials.

As for the question of mismanagement, I think (as I said in comments) that there will prove to be plenty of blame to go around in the end, at various levels of government. Nevertheless, it should be clear that the response to a disaster of this scale will require marshalling the resources of the federal government through an executive branch agency which, it could be argued, has been a lab for contemporary Republican ideas on how government should be organized. So there is no question as to where the buck should stop.
Tom, go read Atrios. The far lefty blogosphere is a place of hatred and intellectual laziness (the far right too - but we're not talking about that here). And disasters tend to bring out the best in them.

Of course there is serious room for people actually looking into what went wrong and how to improve things in the future (I've seen some reasonable stuff on TPM), but Kos and Atrios aren't doing this - they have but one goal, and I think you know what that is.
I thought I was talking about the intellectual laziness of the righty blogosphere.

In fairness, there will be lots of blame to go around (see, e.g., partisan yet fair and balanced Max), as well as ample opportunity for analysis. But pointing out the incivility of certain prominent left bloggers doesn't put clothes back on the emperor.
P.S., lest feathers become too ruffled, I was being sarcastic in that first sentence.
A hurricane has the energy of like 10,000 nuclear bombs. I'm not trying to make excuses here, but it seems to me that disaster recovery expectations for a storm of this magnitude are a bit unrealistic.

The Pres. himself has said that the response so far has been unacceptable. But is there any way to really respond to a storm of this proportion without f***ing it up? (at least from the viewpoint of people like me who are still going through our normal daily routines, while tens of thousands of people are going to have their lives significantly altered for months, if not forever).

I read today that the Superdome had plenty of food and water, contrary to reports yesterday. One couple that was interviewed complained that the MREs were horrible and they hadn't had a hot meal in three days. Well, yeah, but you're alive! Another couple complained that although they had water, they had no ice! I don't want to marginalize the actual suffering that's taking place, but we really don't know all the information yet (no doubt there are some terrible stories, but are these isolated incidents or a true picture of what's happened), and as long as shelter, food, and water are being provided, even though they may be beyond horrible, we'll at least be able to move forward.

That being said, I am as frustrated as everyone else as to why things appear to be taking significantly longer to develop than they should.
Read where? To whatever extent some people may just be shocked to be living in refugee conditions, there also seems to be no question from reporting on the scene that, with at least some of the elderly and infirm literally dying in the streets for want of evacuation, the situation goes beyond expected post-disaster privation to an appalling extent.
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