Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Fiddlin' While New Orleans Drowns

Photo

I can't begin to sort through all of the events on the Gulf Coast of the past week that have mangaged to sweep everything, including the unfolding Iraq quagmire, out of the headlines. A big question now is, who is to blame for the disaster? Presumably that list is large and includes several people in Louisiana. It is possible that the Mayor Nagin of New Orleans and Governer Blanco of Louisiana will pay with their political careers.

It looks as if President Bush, who allowed himself to be photographed while playin' a guitar the day the levies gave way, may pay a political price as well-- although his allies are in full damage control mode. Christopher Ruddy, taking a break from solving the Ron Brown murder, finds time to make excuses for the president. Ruddy delivers a brief lesson on federalism and then notes that after all that the "Federal Emergency Management Agency, was created only in 1979." Well gee, I guess they are still trying to figure out how the copier works and find a place to plug in the coffee pot.

Hugh Hewitt, who has as much critical distance from the president as Karl Rove, also plays up the federalism angle:

It is possible that Neal doesn't know basic American government. It is obvious quite a few folks don't. Brendon Loy, who has done an amazing job posting this week, brought a 2L's passion to his denunciation of various federal officials, but if he was a student in my ConLaw class, I'd ask him, and allother commentators the following questions:

What is the "police power?"

Where does it reside?
Is there a federal "police power?"
Can the federal government order the evacuation of a city when state and local officials have not done so?

Who has first call on a state's national guard?

Who controls a city's police department?


Are Hewitt and Ruddy so deluded that they believe that the president and his advisors carefully read through the Constitution and the opinions of Learned Hand before deciding if they have the power to act? Bush had no concerns about federalism when he signed the No Child Left Behind Act, or when they went to the Supreme Court to override state governing the use of medical marijuana.

The real issue concerns the President's leadership. It is hard to imagine any other plausible president -- Clinton, Gore, Kerry, McCain, Buchanan -- dithering the way that President Bush did in the aftermath of the hurricane. If Louisiana state officials were dragging their feet; I'm sure that President McCain, for example, would have got on the horn and found out what the hell the problem was, instead of waiting for paperwork to be filled out in triplicate. I doubt that President Kerry would stand around, patting his FEMA director on the back, or look forward to sittin' on Trent Lott's porch while people were still dying.

There is going to be much discussion of the proper role of the Federal Government in the coming weeks. I would like to see it get out of many areas, starting with education and trying to run the rest of the world (What clause of the Constitution authorized the Coalition Provisional Authority, Hugh?). But as long as it has the resources, rescuing people from major natural disasters seems like a good thing. When the feds are done with that, they might take a look at that southern border.

8 comments:

Andr? Kenji said...

Wonderful analysis

Glaivester said...

I could see Kerry fiddling around. Not Clinton, though. Or McCain. Or (Jeb) Bush.

Anonymous said...

Federalism is the basis for our system. Unfortunately under some lamentable Supreme Court decisions, that concept has been perverted under the guise of the Commerce Clause, it does exist. Bush does not have the authority to take over a state, never did and won't in the future.

Under Clinton, aid would have come no faster. Under Kerry, it never would have come. He is the one who, after Hurricane Andrew, said that the country shouldn't be paying for people who chose to live on the coast...I could see him saying "you chose to live below sea level on the Gulf Coast, live with your choice".

DWPittelli said...

Who's the fiddler?

FEMA is a coordinating agency. Most of the heavy lifting is done by the National Guard, other armed forces, and NGOs like the Red Cross.

Now it comes out that the Red Cross, which has statutory authority as primary supplier of relief goods, wanted to send food, water and other supplies to the Superdome, but the State of Louisiana said "No." They wanted it unpleasant there so more people wouldn't come.

This while Nagin fiddled as City busses went unused (the city's pre-existing hurricane plan called for their use to move out the poor without autos), and later were flooded out.

Anonymous said...

Given the fact that the levees broke on the night of August 30th and that picture was taken during the day of August 30th, even with the time difference, it occirred before the levees broke. Nothwithstanding that obvious fact, when thi picture was taken Bush had already declared Louisiana in a State of Emergency (Aug. 26th) and had begged the idiot Governor to order a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans (August 27th). This was also the day after the hurricane had passed the city and during the period that the Governor was preventing the Red Cross (one of the FEMA service providers) from taking provisions to the Super Dome. We already know that facts don't matter to liberals, but you need to make your BS less transparently and obviously false.

JJ said...

Given the fact that the levees broke on the night of August 30th and that picture was taken during the day of August 30th, even with the time difference, it occirred before the levees broke. Nothwithstanding that obvious fact, when thi picture was taken Bush had already declared Louisiana in a State of Emergency (Aug. 26th) and had begged the idiot Governor to order a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans (August 27th). This was also the day after the hurricane had passed the city and during the period that the Governor was preventing the Red Cross (one of the FEMA service providers) from taking provisions to the Super Dome. We already know that facts don't matter to liberals, but you need to make your BS less transparently and obviously false.

alena said...

Cool Blog, I never really thought about it that way.

I have a Hurricane Katrina blog. It pretty much covers hurricane related stuff.

Thank you - and keep up the thoughts!

Anonymous said...

For the next hurricane carla ; the easy way to keep going.