Thursday, September 8, 2005

Where Was the Red Cross?

Representatives of the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security, a state agency, turned away truckloads of food and other supplies that the Red Cross was trying to deliver to the Superdome and convention center after the storm passed but before the levees broke. Fox News' Major Garrett was interviewed about the story by Hugh Hewitt. Here's part of the transcript:

MG: Well, the Red Cross, Hugh, had pre-positioned a literal vanguard of trucks with water, food, blankets and hygiene items. They're not really big into medical response items, but those are the three biggies that we saw people at the New Orleans Superdome, and the convention center, needing most accutely. And all of us in America, I think, reasonably asked ourselves, geez. You know, I watch hurricanes all the time. And I see correspondents standing among rubble and refugees and evacuaees. But I always either see that Red Cross or Salvation Army truck nearby. Why don't I see that?

HH: And the answer is?

MG: The answer is the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security, that is the state agency responsible for that state's homeland security, told the Red Cross explicitly, you cannot come.

HH: Now Major Garrett, on what day did they block the delivery? Do you know specifically?

MG: I am told by the Red Cross, immediately after the storm passed.

HH: Okay, so that would be on Monday afternoon.

MG: That would have been Monday or Tuesday. The exact time, the hour, I don't have. But clearly, they had an evacuee situation at the Superdome, and of course, people gravitated to the convention center on an ad hoc basis. They sort of invented that as another place to go, because they couldn't stand the conditions at the Superdome.

HH: Any doubt in the Red Cross' mind that they were ready to go, but they were blocked?

MG: No. Absolutely none. They are absolutely unequivocal on that point....I want your listeners to follow me here. At the very moment that Ray Nagin, the Mayor of New Orleans was screaming where's the food, where's the water, it was over the overpass, and state officials were saying you can't come in.

Garrett states that the reason the Red Cross was given for being turned away was that the authorities didn't want people staying at the Superdome or convention center, and if there was food and water there it would be harder to get them to move on.

Contrary to what the paranoid fantasists at the NYT doubtless suspect, the relief wasn't turned away because a phone call from Bush forbade the state authorities from allowing it in.

There's much more at the link.

By the way, there has been nothing about this report on MSNBC. They're still too busy blaming Bush and focussing on the body count.

Trying to Pin it All on Bush

Despite the best efforts of the Democrats and their associates in the MSM only 13% of the people surveyed in a recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll blame President Bush for the New Orleans debacle. The 13% probably encompasses the splenetic Bush-haters who, like the poor, we will always have with us, and maybe a few others.

That all the energy, newsprint and air-time invested in pinning the post-hurricane disaster on Bush didn't yield greater rewards to those who see it as their mission in life to do everything possible to tear down this president must be extremely discouraging to the Left.

Shed a momentary tear, for example, for the disappointment that poor Bob Herbert of the New York Times must feel at this poll result. Mr. Herbert is so consumed with loathing for the president that in a column on Monday he wrote the following:

The Big Easy had turned into the Big Hurt, and the colossal failure of George W. Bush to intervene powerfully and immediately to rescue tens of thousands of American citizens who were suffering horribly and dying in agony was there for all the world to see.

Colossal failure? Exactly what was Mr. Bush's failure? What could he have done that he didn't do that would have made a difference? Mr. Herbert chooses not to tell us, quite likely because Mr. Herbert has no idea.

Mr. Herbert seeks to drives the point home. Reciting a litany of suffering and degradation suffered by the victims of Katrina, Herbert concludes by claiming that "the president didn't seem to notice." He offers no support for his libel, but then it's a bit awkward to insist upon factual support from someone whose intent is only to assassinate someone's character and not to uncover truth.

When he senses that the stage has been set and the moment is right, Mr. Herbert dramatically trots out the venerable old warhorse named Racism:

He would have noticed if the majority of these stricken folks had been white and prosperous. But they weren't. Most were black and poor, and thus, to the George W. Bush administration, still invisible.

Yes. While the black folk were suffering, Bush was no doubt traipsing gleefully around his Crawford ranch in white sheets and hood. It would not surprise us to see such an absurd claim from the pen of Mr. Herbert since in his world no evidence is necessary to justify any calumny against the president. Just saying that Bush is a racist is enough to make it so for the cerebrally-challenged, among whom Mr. Herbert must feel at home.

He ends his indictment of the president with this summation:

Mr. Bush's performance last week will rank as one of the worst ever by a president during a dire national emergency. What we witnessed, as clearly as the overwhelming agony of the city of New Orleans, was the dangerous incompetence and the staggering indifference to human suffering of the president and his administration.

And it is this incompetence and indifference to suffering (yes, the carnage continues to mount in Iraq) that makes it so hard to be optimistic about the prospects for the United States over the next few years. At a time when effective, innovative leadership is desperately needed to cope with matters of war and peace, terrorism and domestic security, the economic imperatives of globalization and the rising competition for oil, the United States is being led by a man who seems oblivious to the reality of his awesome responsibilities.

Well. Has it occured to Mr. Herbert to examine Mr. Bush's total tenure in order to form a judgment of the prospects for our future? Evidently not. He prefers to pick a single event, one in which the facts are as yet unclear about Mr. Bush's responsibility, and extrapolate from that to the most dire warnings about the next three years under such an incompetent bumbler.

No thought enters the hate-soaked labyrinths of Mr. Herbert's mind about Bush's response after 9/11, or his liberation of 50 million people and the toppling of one of the most evil men in modern history. Nor does Mr. Herbert deign to remind us of Mr. Bush's widely acclaimed response to the devastating hurricanes which hammered Florida last year. Nor does Mr. Herbert mention how Bush took an economy that was heading into recession when he came to office and which subsequently suffered the heavy blows of 9/11, war in the Middle-east, and sky-rocketing gas prices, and nevertheless nursed it back to a state of health that is absolutely astonishing given the obstacles that had to be overcome.

These facts are all irrelevant to Mr. Herbert. For a day too long after Katrina, Mr. Bush allegedly hesitated when he should have been doing some unspecified thing, and therefore he's the worst person imaginable to be leading us into the days ahead.

Mr. Herbert's entire case reduces to this. People suffered. Help was slow. Bush was president. Therefore Bush is an incompetent racist. Mr. Herbert displays no awareness that there may be reasons why help was slow for which Mr. Bush cannot rationally be held responsible. He displays no inclination to place any blame for the failure to get people out of the city on the mayor and governor, who, with every passing day it becomes more clear, it squarely belongs. He evinces no sign that he is aware of the governor's inexplicable 24 hour hesitation to invite the feds into the state. Indeed, he shows an abject unwillingness to actually engage in any kind of sophisticated thought or analysis at all.

In fairness, perhaps Mr. Herbert, from his exalted perch atop the Mt. Olympus that is the New York Times, is privy to information that is being withheld from us mere mortals, and which he is not at liberty to share - information that would explain exactly what Mr. Bush's fault was and why it is so damning.

Or, more likely, perhaps Mr. Herbert is simply a buffoon who believes that an argument is won by whomever can cram the largest number of unsubstantiated and outrageous allegations into the smallest number of column inches.

Dowd's Dishonesty

Maureen Dowd tries to kick George Bush in the shins with her most recent column but just winds up looking foolish, petty, and dishonest instead. Her column can be read here. Like much of her work, it's short on facts and long on baseless invective. Let's consider her more serious allegations in the order she makes them.

She alleges that money that could have gone to shoring up the levees around New Orleans has been squandered in Iraq:

Not only was the money depleted by the Bush folly in Iraq; 30 percent of the National Guard and about half its equipment are in Iraq.

The implication, of course, is that there were not enough National Guard troops at home to do the job of securing the city. This is, however, completely false. James Robbins sets forth the truth of the matter at National Review Online.

She goes on to imply that the Bush administration is culpable for the deaths of New Orleanians because they cut the Corps of Engineers budget request last year:

Ron Fournier of The Associated Press reported that the Army Corps of Engineers asked for $105 million for hurricane and flood programs in New Orleans last year. The White House carved it to about $40 million.

Aside from the delightful irony of seeing lefties like Ms Dowd harrumphing that the Corps of Engineers, a governmental entity absolutely loathed by the Left, did not get the funding it requested, there is another problem here. Let's suppose the Corps had received everything it asked for. Would the money have been spent on levees or on marshland reclamation? If it would have been spent on the levees would they have been upgraded by the time Katrina hit? Would the money have made any real difference by this date? If not, why mention it? Until we know the answers to these questions Dowd's complaint is meaningless.

She goes on to express amazement that Bush doesn't start metaphorically executing people willy-nilly in the wake of the calamity:

Michael Brown, the blithering idiot in charge of FEMA - a job he trained for by running something called the International Arabian Horse Association - admitted he didn't know until Thursday that there were 15,000 desperate, dehydrated, hungry, angry, dying victims of Katrina in the New Orleans Convention Center.

Was he sacked instantly? No, our tone-deaf president hailed him in Mobile, Ala., yesterday: "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

So far from being a flaw in Bush's character his reluctance to cashier his people reveals a strength. It certainly shows a vast difference between Bush and Dowd. Bush believes in sticking by his subordinates and supporting them until all the facts are in. It's one reason he inspires such fierce loyalty among his staff and cabinet. Dowd, like some Middle-East despot, believes in cutting off peoples' heads as soon as they give the appearance of having screwed up, regardless of what the ultimate facts might turn out to be. It's one reason that so many people find her repellant.

A lot of conservatives think Brown should be fired, too, but the difference between them and Dowd is that they see Bush's willingness to take heat for his people as a virtue and Dowd sees it as a vice. Actually, she sees everything Bush does as a vice.

She then shamelessly insinuates that Bush's people don't care about Katrina's victims because they're just blacks, don't you know.

[I]t is a chilling lack of empathy combined with a stunning lack of efficiency that could make this administration implode.

A lack of empathy? How does she know what Bush and his staff were feeling and doing behind the scenes. As time goes on it's becoming clearer that much of the fault for the predicament of the people trapped in New Orleans, to the extent it wasn't their own, was the fault of their mayor and their governor. Why does she not condemn their lack of empathy? Might it be that they're Democrats (and minorities) while Bush is a white Republican male, a legitimate object of obloquy in the eyes of northeastern liberals like Dowd?

When they were deaf for so long to the horrific misery and cries for help of the victims in New Orleans - most of them poor and black, like those stuck at the back of the evacuation line yesterday while 700 guests and employees of the Hyatt Hotel were bused out first - they shook the faith of all Americans in American ideals. And made us ashamed.

This is the most egregiously dishonest thing she says in the piece. It demonstrates her utter disregard for the truth when a lie will better serve the purpose of slipping the stiletto into Bush's ribs. First, she implies that the administration is racist, but worse, she strongly suggests that the 700 guests of the Hyatt were sent to the front of the line by the feds because the people they were butting ahead of were only poor blacks. What actually happened was this: The people from the Hyatt were tourists who were sent to the head of the line under orders by the black mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin.

It might be worthwhile to ask Ms Dowd why she chooses not to tell her readers who was responsible for greasing the tourists' exit from town. Evidently, when you need to tarnish a man like the president it's okay at the NY Times to deceive your readers any way you can.