Saturday, September 03, 2005

Louisiana Governor Blanco, trying to sound 'tough'...

. . . praised some "battle-hardened" members of the Arkansas National Guard, who have just returned from Iraq and are being sent to New Orleans with orders authorizing them to shoot looters:

"They have M-16s, and they are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so if necessary, and I expect they will."

So, let me get this straight. We are bragging about sending soldiers to kill American citizens? Blanco's words come awfully close to that. I don't know the context to her remarks, but from here across the ocean, her statement makes a very bad impression.

I recognize the need to re-establish order in New Orleans, bring security to the people trapped there, and help the victims struggling to survive. I think that all of this should have been done immediately. And I'm not so naive as to think that it can be done without shooting some of the well-armed, violent looters whom we've been reading about.

Blanco's words, however, seem to emphasize killing over rescuing. She would better have said something like this:

"The Arkansas National Guard will soon arrive in New Orleans to protect the storm's victims and ensure orderly rescue efforts. They will therefore stop the looting, disarm the gangs, arrest criminals, and restore order."

Let's at least try to sound civilized.


At 12:50 AM, Blogger Michael S. Pearl said...


The context of Blanco's remarks are critical to understanding the appropriateness of her remarks.

Her remarks may also explain why she seems to be becoming a scapegoat for the rampant incompetence exhibited by the response of the Federal government in general and FEMA in particular.

After days of countless promises and no actual activity on the part of the Feds, after days without providing personnel who could ensure safety, after days of not even having begun to deliver water or food to trapped people, it was no longer appropriate to soft-peddle in the typical politician manner.

Furthermore, no one who saw Blanco speak the words you cited - either live or on tape - would ever mistake what she said for bragging. The woman was clearly fed up with the inactivity, and some sign - or symbol - of strength and resolve was all that should have been put forth under the circumstances. As an emblem of the disgust building up in the people of Louisiana, she spoke for the people perfectly capturing the tenor of their infuriated dismay. By eschewing the speaking protocol of the political class, her remarks should be interpreted as intending to ratchet up the attention being paid to the situation in Louisiana. The mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, ratcheted up matters in his own way as well; the profanities usually reserved for private speech became the only mode of exclamation left, since no one in or from Washington evidenced sufficient attention or concern.

The risk of "killing over rescuing" only comes from an inability, an unwillingness, to distinguish between the activities of those who are seeking food and water over those who are marauding for television sets, DVD players, jewelry, antiques, etc.

It is this very inability/unwillingess - in conjunction with the failure to deliver food and water to the trapped - that is driving the trapped to a state in which they are ever more desperate. When George Bush was asked whether he considers those who break into stores for food and water to be looters as much as those who hijack television sets and the like and he so facilely opined that we should have a "zero tolerance" policy, he enhanced the likelihood of "killing over rescuing". The next day he seemed to ameliorate those remarks by publicly focusing on the utter ineffectiveness of the Federal effort; so, context is indeed key to meaning and understanding.

It is beginning to appear that Blanco and Nagin are going to be blamed for the Federal disaster -- and that is preposterous. Seeing as how I am only able to get internet access via long distance dial-up and since I am having to ration our own power by limiting how long we run our generator, I need to keep my remarks brief, but the following story should be sufficient to indicate just who/what is the real problem.

Yesterday, the mayor of Slidell here in St. Tammany Parish, got on the news and reported that FEMA had arrived in his city with generators and fuel, but FEMA refused to unload the relief supplies because the mayor could not provide a site inspection certificate authorizing the off-load location.


That single anecdote captures perfectly exactly how the Federal "emergency management" agency and the Federal government have been "helping" in Louisiana. Incompetence, lack of discernment, lack of intelligence - call it what you will, but I'll just leave it there for now.

Oh, and by the way, I did not vote for Blanco; I voted for Bobby Jindal (who is now my Congressman).


At 10:41 AM, Blogger Ozark JazzFly said...

Exactly Jeff. While I don't doubt that Governor Blanco is stressed and frustrated, it seems evident that comments such as those that she made do not help the situation. If people are looting then deal with it by the means necessary (I exempt food, water and basic needs at this time)but for heavens sake don't start shooting the citizenry. Those who are policing have the right to defend themselves by extreme force if the situation warrants it. I would hope the governor is more concerned about those citizens who are suffering from illness, dehydration, wounds, etc. and who stand to lose their lives if help is not provided and soon.


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