Mea Culpa [whack] You know the drill…
I am heartily sorry for these my misdoings–especially those things left undone. I am truly sorry and I humbly repent. Yes, my new boss let us out early on Friday (yay!) and thus no random wacky Friday quiz. A big thanks to lutherpunk for picking up my slack…
Oh my, folks are just get started with the finger-pointing… That’s another sordid feature of disasters like these–people who know absolutely nothing about the situation spout off all sorts of verbal diarrhea about what wasn’t done, what was done, what was done half-heartedly and especially who’s to blame. Never one to sit by when an interesting conversation is going on–I thought I’d add my own uninformed drivel to the pile… [And just as a note, I haven’t been following the blame game so I’m spouting off on the top of my head here…It’ll be interesting to see which major faction my drivel sounds like. :-D]
Two words: States’ Rights. If you’ve ever spent time in the South, you know how important those words are to Southerners. After all, (just ask ’em) the War Between the States wasn’t about slaves, racism, etc.; it was about States’ Rights. The power of the Old Democrat party (i.e., pre-LBJ) in the South was about…States’ Rights. In a political system like ours there is an inevitable and I would argue necessary tension between Federalism and national responsibilities as opposed to States’ Rights and local responsibilities. Although Federalism essentially prevailed in the US, there’s still quite a bit of power at the other levels and the existence of Congress–both houses–is constructed to inject local politics into the Federal level.
All that having been said, I think Bush’s response sucked. It was really bad. But the scope of the disaster was not fundamentally his responsibility. That is, he acted as a poor leader in this time of crisis, but I do not blame him for the crisis. I think that there are two major failures here and lessons to be learned.
First, I see this as a failure at the state and local levels. They were the people who lived there–they knew what needed to be done. It’s not as if Louisiana has no Congress-dudes [that’s the correct gender-neutral form, fyi] to lobby for money for construction projects. This is a problem that can and should have been corrected a while ago. Furthermore, the local leadership–didn’t. The inevitable comparison does kinda make this apt. In New York, things held together; in New Orleans, they didn’t. There are a host of factors and differences between the two especially the breakdown in communications (such a shame that disaster crews don’t have *satellite* phones that can’t get knocked out if cell towers go down…) but Rudi was there, was visible, and held things together until more help could arrive. Who was there in New Orleans? Who took control? Who could people look to as a voice of authority who was willing to speak the truth to the people and inspire them in the face of tragedy? From my dry armchair it appears that superior leadership produced superior results.
Second, I really worry about what has happened to the homeland defense moneys allocated after Setpember 11. Let’s face it, with the amount of money parcelled out there ought to have been plans in place. New Orleans should have been thinking about what to do if terrorists went after the levees in addition to hurricanes. Supposedly they ran a drill not to long ago. What gives? Makes you wonder how that money was spent…To put a finer point on it, I sure hope that the officials in my area know what the hell they’re supposed to do in case of emergency. And I hope that they clue us in too…
I got a hold of this History of OE Lit over the weekend. Good stuff. Lots of good bibliography in there to shore up parts I feel weakest in. One of the epiphanies is the realization of just how much of the OE corpus was designed to be fundamentally oral. From to poems to the sermons, I’d say the vast majority of it was oral literature rather than written. I wonder what that means…
And (a) Justice for All [a great album too, btw!]
Rehnquist. Oh boy. Yes, this sure is a liberal’s worst nightmare–W gets to pick two justices… As I thought before, though, I think that the court is too aware of its own importance to really run amok in one direction or another. I believe (and truly hope) that no matter who gets put on it that the court will shuffle itself in order to remain centrist.