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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

NEW ORLEANS NEGLIGENCE: I agree with those who say it's not to time to play "blame games" about the New Orleans nightmare. But we can — and should — be serious about assessing responsibility. It's a simple fact that local and state official represent the first line of defense in natural disasters. It's a fact that Mayor Ray Nagin said he didn't load the now-drowned school buses with passengers because he wanted to find buses with greater comfort. It's a fact that Nagin later revised his story to say he waited to find the right drivers. It's a fact that New Orleans had an advance plan for emergency evacuation that doesn't mention the federal government playing the chief role. It's a fact that Governor Kathleen Blanco had authority to call in the National Guard, but she waited. It's a fact that those who weren't evacuated by bus were herded into the Super Dome with no plans for food and water. It's a fact that Mayor Nagin prevented the Red Cross from bringing in food and water, as if the Super Dome's new occupants were being housed there only temporarily, as if the availability of food and water would spread the wrong message: "If you feed them, they will come." None of this is surprising. Those who died were among the poorest, which is really to say the least self-sufficient and the most dependent upon a culture of low expectations. Nagin and Blanco reflect that same culture: "Wait for someone to take care of us, and blame them when they don't give us what we want, when we want it." Ben Johnson has the story at Frontpage Magazine. And Brendan Miniter makes a strong case that the poor of New Olreans were failed long before Katrina.