Monday, September 19, 2005

Who has the beef?

So let's just recap briefly, shall we? We've got
a million or so human beings living in a low-
lying area created in the first place by
government engineers. The local government of New
Orleans, apprised of an approaching storm,
summarily orders everybody out of the city about
36 hours too late without lifting a finger to
provide the means to do so. At the last minute it
occurs to somebody to herd those left behind into
a large government-built structure, the
Superdome; no supplies are on hand for its
inhabitants, and the structure itself is rendered-
-according to the government's assessment--
permanently useless. Even though the storm misses
the city, government-built levees fail in
unforeseen and catastrophic ways. Many of the New
Orleans cops opportunistically quit their jobs,
many more simply fail to show up for work, others
take the lead in looting supplies from storm-
stricken neighbourhoods, and just a few have the
notable good grace to shoot themselves in the
head. The federal government announces that
assistance is on its way, sometime; local and
state authorities--who have the clear-cut burden
of "first response" under federal guidelines
nobody seems to have read--beg for the feds to
hurry up while (a) engaging in bureaucratic
pissing-matches behind the scenes and (b) making
life difficult for the private agencies who are
beating the feds to the scene. Eventually the
federal government shows up with the National
Guard, and to the uniform indignation and
surprise of those who have been screaming for it,
the Guard turns out to have a troubling tendency
to point weapons in the general direction of
civilians and reporters. I'm not real clear on
who starts doing what around mid-week, but the
various hydra-heads of government start
developing amusing hobbies; confiscating guns
from civilians, demanding that photographers stop
documenting the aftermath of America's worst
natural disaster in a century, enforcing this
demand by seizing cameras at gunpoint, shutting
down low-power broadcasting stations in shelters,
and stealing supplies from relief agencies and
private citizens. In the wake of all this, there
is probably no single provision of the U.S.
Constitution left untrampled, the Posse Comitatus
Act appears destined for a necktie party, and the
49% of Americans who have been complaining for
five years about George W. Bush being a dictator
are now vexed to the point of utter incoherence
because for the last fortnight he has failed to
do a sufficiently convincing impression of a

It's been said that Hurricane Katrina has
confirmed pretty much everybody in his pre-
existing political beliefs. I can't say the
record gives me any reason to change mine. But if
I can't have a libertarian paradise where state
power defers to social power, or use recent
events to urge others to the wisdom of such a
state of affairs, I'm willing to propose a second-
best for America: replace the three branches of
republican government with permanent joint rule
by Wal-Mart and the Salvation Army. Go on, tell
me you could honestly do worse.

Does this look like an exclusively Republican
problem, a Bush problem or a systemic problem?

Think about it.


Via Catallarchy.