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Playing Politics with Disaster
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Makes me pretty sick, really.

Kevin Drum has been going on and on about FEMA:

I'm almost worn out with anger reading about the decimation of FEMA under Bush's watch; the pathetic lack of response to Katrina from the federal government; the relentless television images of human degradation; and the endless excuses from administration hacks pretending that nobody could have predicted Katrina's devastation. I realize that it's no different from what's been happening in Iraq for the past two years, but Iraq is 8,000 miles away and the truth is that no matter how angry we are at what's going on there, it's to some extent an intellectual anger. What's happening in New Orleans is like a punch in the gut.

Interesting analogy. A punch in the gut is intentional...there's somebody behind it. Don't think conservatives get off lightly here, either. I haven't seen nearly as much finger-pointing in the conservative blogosphere, but I while the liberal blogs are blaming Bush for gutting FEMA and hating black people, the conservative radio shows are happy to blame the state and local governments.

I'm extremely sympathetic with the view that this was one of the worst natural disasters in our nation's history and that no level of preparedness could have prevented it entirely. Could more have been done? Hell yes...more could always have been done. If you're talking about the response of all levels of government, there's plenty of blame to go round.

One point that hasn't been brought up, at least that I've seen, is the level of responsibility at the neighborhood or community level. What responsibility do you have to the people who live near you? Some people probably did have the means to leave New Orleans when it was strongly suggested that they leave. Others obviously did not have the means to do so. Estimates are somewhere around 10% of the population, right? I've heard liberals bashing the government for not getting buses in there, but people were streaming out of the city. 80-90% of the population did have cars.

If you knew a bomb was being dropped on your city and your neighbor didn't have a car, and you had room, would you give them a ride? If New Orleans is 67% black, that means not only did the white people not help evacuate their neighbors, but something like the 40% of the population of New Orleans that is black and could get out didn't help either. I think the lack of people to help each other at the community level is more damning than lapse of either the city, state, or federal government to bring hundreds of buses in.

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