Friday, September 02, 2005


It's scarcely worth posting any links to Katrina coverage, since articles on the disaster are both ubiquitous and staggering. Reading the Strib on the bus into work this morning, this amazed me:

Overnight, Baton Rouge has become the most heavily populated city in the state of Louisiana. Local officials predicted it would double in size, to about 800,000, permanently.
And then, in a new article this morning, I see this:
[Louisiana] Gov. Kathleen Blanco called the looters "hoodlums'' and issued a warning to lawbreakers: Hundreds of National Guardsmen hardened on the battlefield in Iraq have landed in New Orleans. "They have M-16s and they're locked and loaded,'' she said. "These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so, and I expect they will.''
Good god. American citizen-soldiers, being deployed first in a meaningless war in Iraq, now in a battle against their own fellow citizens. As a historian who's studied societies at war, I am struck by the rapidity of social collapse in this case and, perhaps more importantly for the present moment, by the utter vacuum of leadership, especially at the national level. Michael Moore has it right:

Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with?
And beyond this sniping - which is, contra Scotty McLellan, not only appropriate but mandatory right now - is it not depressing that the same administration which could not plan for the aftermath of the fall of Baghdad also could not develop an effective response to this natural disaster? And don't give me that B.S. about how Katrina was unforeseeable. We have a pretty good idea when and where hurricanes show up, and this was an intensely monitored storm, and besides - leaders are supposed to be able to adapt to the unpredictable. 9/11, anyone?

If only there was some Constitutional provision for recalling the Vacationer in Chief. Indictment count #1: Choppin' brush and raisin' dough while New Orleans drowned.