Third Party & Independents Archives

Always Whitey's Fault

Recently re-elected mayor of New Orleans Ray “Chocolate City” Nagin is still talking about Hurricane Katrina. And while he’s been kind of slow at getting his city back on track, he’s certainly been quick to find more people to blame.

From the Associated Press:

INDIANAPOLIS - New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin on Friday blamed racism and government bureaucracy for hamstringing his city's ability to weather Hurricane Katrina and recover from the disaster that struck the Gulf Coast nearly a year ago.

In remarks to the annual meeting of the National Association of Black Journalists, Nagin said the hurricane "exposed the soft underbelly of America as it relates to dealing with race and class."

"And I, to this day, believe that if that would have happened in Orange County, California, if that would have happened in South Beach, Miami, it would have been a different response," Nagin said.

New Orleans was 60 percent black before Katrina struck Aug. 29. Early this year the mayor called on fellow blacks to again make New Orleans a "chocolate" city, but he later apologized.

On Friday, Nagin condemned federal regulations that discourage rebuilding in the largely black and low-lying Ninth Ward.

While tens of billions of dollars in federal aid have flowed to Louisiana and other states devastated by Katrina, much of it has gone to developers and contractors, Nagin said.

"Very little of those dollars have gotten to the local governments or to the people themselves," Nagin said.

Katrina dispersed three-quarters of New Orleans' pre-hurricane population of about 460,000 people, and today it's a city of about 250,000. Nagin suggested that Louisiana and federal officials would prefer the city remain smaller.

He said the city is struggling to deliver services and rebuild with a quarter of its former municipal budget. The federal and state aid the city has received is inadequate and comes with too many rules, he said.

"We are being strangled, and they're using the money to set local policies to try to take control of the city to do things that they had in mind all along, and that's to shrink the footprint, get a bunch of developers in the city, and try to do things in a different way," Nagin said.

"We're not going to let that happen. They're going to give us our money, and we're going to rebuild this city."

By saying Orange County or Miami would have fared better after the hurricane (though I guess Hurricane Andrew hit enough black neighborhoods to warrant the decade it took to get Miami back on track) Nagin explicitly charges the federal government with hating black people so much that it was worth watching them suffer…because they're black.

Or perhaps the real reason why Orange County would have seen a "different response," and this is just being rational here, is because it's not quite ten feet under sea level like the city that got hit by a category 5 hurricane. Nah, it's because they're black.

The racist mayor got at least one part of his rant right; the massive bureaucracy that is our federal government makes it nearly impossible to effectively and timely get aid out to local regions in times of crisis.

Many blamed the mayor, many blamed the governor of Louisiana, and many more blamed the president of the United States. And when we ran out of single politicians to blame, we blamed an entire organization whose only purpose is to prevent what FEMA allowed to happen.

But how could FEMA do its job when it's under the broken umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security, currently charged with the simple task of stopping terrorism and controlling illegal immigration?

Here's an idea: blame the person blaming everyone and everything else! Blame the citizens who thought they could depend on the government to save them when a hurricane they saw coming crashed through the levies we were all told could withstand the force.

Lost is the personal accountability we should all have to govern ourselves. Everyone should have an emergency plan and know what to do when the government freezes. It's happened many times in the past and there's no reason to think it won't happen again in the near future.

Posted by Scottie at August 18, 2006 9:29 PM
Comment #176387

Nagin has proven himself a total idiot and I’m surprised anyone listens to him anymore.
Again there’s plenty of blame to go around. Everyone involved dropped the ball. The thing to do now instead of continuing the blame game is to find ways to keep something like this from happening again.

Posted by: Ron Brown at August 19, 2006 12:02 AM
Comment #176388

It’s not just finding a way to keep it from happening again…
Our whole country wastes money.
We the tax payers pay for things that cost too much and are done below standards all the time.
Who is really accountable?
The voter?
I would agree with that if the corrupt system we have in place would really change when a new person is voted in.
If ‘we the people’ counted on each other first instead of our government(s) everything would be much better.
The change for the worse came when we were convinced by our ‘well meaning’ politicians that they would ‘take care of us’.
We have to take care of each other.

Posted by: dawn at August 19, 2006 12:12 AM
Comment #176391

“If at first you don’t succeed, point to that guy over there and tell the world how he hasn’t succeeded either.”

All folks on all levels of government need to worry about and act on their own house. Head down, eyes forward, and … readdddyyyy, sweat!

Posted by: Ken Strong at August 19, 2006 12:35 AM
Comment #176392

I hear Andrew Young blames Jews and Asians.

Posted by: Jack at August 19, 2006 12:35 AM
Comment #176443

LOl, Jack.

Ray Nagin plays the politics of his constituency. It got him attention while the Department of Homeland Security (created by both parties) crushed the victims of Katrina with lethal amounts of bureaucratic red tape. The DHS will be as large a bad legacy for the Bush administration as the Iraq war.

All we needed to do was get the FBI and CIA to dialogue, instead we’ve created the largest bureaucracy since the war on poverty. It will devour money like the other departments and never go away. It’s now a sacred cow. Oh, and then Rummy sidelined the CIA with his own intelligence agency. I love politicians.

Posted by: gergle at August 19, 2006 10:41 AM
Comment #176450

Blame the people that stayed there and thought that the government should take care of them. These are the people that want a free handout and do not want to do anything for it. The people I feel sorry for are those that were left in nursing homes and hospitals that could not take care of themselves, and the older folks. Other were warned and chose not to leave.
Blame the mayor, the governor, the president(as he sat and did nothing), Fema, but people have to blame themselves as they did not take charge or responsiblity for themselves.

Posted by: KT at August 19, 2006 11:17 AM
Comment #176454

Well, gee, no, clearly there’s nothing to those comments… race and class couldn’t have anything to do with how the refugees are being treated to this day… after all, this is how people are treated by FEMA after every hurricane… isn’t it?

Posted by: Jarin at August 19, 2006 11:23 AM
Comment #176465


There is a class difference because there is a behavior difference. Poverty is not random. There are certain behaviors that make and keep people poor. Among these are difficuties understand consequences and anticipating future events. This is what got many of the New Orleans victims in trouble. It makes it hard for the authorties to deal with.

You are right that middle class people probably would not have been there. Exactly. They would know what to do and the authorities would have had less trouble.

Posted by: Jack at August 19, 2006 12:36 PM
Comment #176468

It’s gonna take more than just one new person to change the corrupt system we have. It’s gonna take 537 new persons. Then it’s going to take 270,000 folks to keep a very close eye on them 537 new folks to make sure they don’t get corrupted.

How right you are.
The thing I’m still wondering about is why that idiot Mayor Nagin didn’t order the school buses used to get folks out of town.

Posted by: Ron Brown at August 19, 2006 12:38 PM
Comment #176469

The plain fact of Katrina was, no one was prepared to deal with it. The responsibility is shared by everyone from the residents themselves all the way up through layers of government reaching all the way to the White House.

That’s the fact. Now, what is being done to prepare for the next one? The far more complicated story here is one of priorities and focus. Today its this, tomorrow, it will be something else. Before Katrina the focus was on terrorists, NOT storms. For about 6 months, the focus was on storms. Now the focus is back on terrorism again. This one topic focus absent multi-tasking adaptability, is the hallmark of the Bush administration, but it permeates all levels of government to varying degrees. The most adept multi-tasking multiple priority politicians are Governors and Police Chiefs.

But what happens when experienced multi-taskers are replaced by inexperienced individuals? We revert back to single focus single issue management on a crisis basis. In a society as immensely complex and interdependent as ours is, inexperience is our biggest enemy, and lack of education in the appropriate generalized fields overseen is the second biggest enemy.

This is why Iraq is such a mess. Bush has relied on Generals to make the decisions. Generals area of expertise is massive force, rapid strike, and secure the perimiter of base operations. After that is done, our military is out of its element when it comes to infrastructure building, social adjustments and adaptability, and nation building. But, Bush is still relying on the Generals to make the calls. The generals are inexperienced and uneducated in the area of nation building and securing peace amongst warring factions.

The Yugoslavia positive outcome was a direct result of a President with a generalized enough education and experience to see the problem, address it, and follow through with its stabilization. Seperate the factions, give autonomy to each, and support that autonomy with multi-national peacekeeping forces which averted indigenous retalliation against a single identifiable nation occupier.

Inexperience and limited specialized education are our nations two biggest enemies, which will continue to subvert our best of intentions in places like Iraq, Iran, N. Korea, China, Venezuela, and Cuba.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 19, 2006 12:50 PM
Comment #176472

There is a class difference because there is a behavior difference. Poverty is not random. There are certain behaviors that make and keep people poor. Among these are difficuties understand consequences and anticipating future events. This is what got many of the New Orleans victims in trouble. It makes it hard for the authorties to deal with.

You are right that middle class people probably would not have been there. Exactly. They would know what to do and the authorities would have had less trouble.

Jack, your response is such a nonsequitor I can only assume you did not read the link I provided.

It details refugees being disallowed the privledge of speaking with the press in the refugee camps without a FEMA representative present. It describes reporters being prevented from giving refugees business cards, and being told that the refugees are “not allowed to have that”. It describes people being told they are not allowed to talk to reporters, and order to return to their trailers. It describes reporters being told, when residents asked to be intereviewed, that the residents can’t. It’s “not their privledge”.

What does any of this have to do with behaviors that make and keep people poor, or not understanding consequences?

Posted by: Jarin at August 19, 2006 1:27 PM
Comment #176473

Generals have in the past helped in nation building. MacArthur was in charge of rebuilding Japan after WWII. But most Generals lack the ability to do this.
I think what is needed in Iraq is folks that have built infrastructure, know how to bring waring factions together, and know how to deal forcefully with those that want to keep fighting.

The biggest problem With FEMA is that it’s a bureaucracy. As such it’s laden down with layer after layer of mid level management. Most of which is unnecessary and in order to justify their cu$hy positions create enough red tape to choke a horse.
All this red tape slows response and cost more money than what actually goes to relief work.

Posted by: Ron Brown at August 19, 2006 1:48 PM
Comment #176489

Probably the most powerful thing to point to how ineffective and inefficient our government’s response to Katrina was, and when I say our government I mean Nagin and the New Orleans government, both parties in Congress, the state of Louisiana, and of course Bush and his cronies, is the fact that Mexico sent aid to help Katrina. This marked the first time ever in history that Mexico sent aid to us to help us. If were a true superpower, the only true superpower than we should be able to help our people, but we didn’t so Mexico pitched in to help us out.

“Mexico Sends First-Ever Aid North”

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at August 19, 2006 3:17 PM
Comment #176491


I just would not get myself into such a situation and if I wanted to speak to someone, I would find a time and place to do it. You probably would too. That is because we are competent decision makers and because we are competent decision makers, we are not poor and we would not be living off the government dole a year after we were displaced.

Katrina hit lots of places. It hit areas of Mississippi harder than it hit New Orleans. It has been a big problem there too, but the people are rebuilding and adapting. Why is it that the poor people of New Orleans represent only about 10% of the victims, but they make 90% of the trouble?

Posted by: Jack at August 19, 2006 3:26 PM
Comment #176500

Ron, you are absolutely right about MacArthur. He was schooled in history, the classics, economics, and that made him a generalist, as well as a military specialist. Absolutely correct, that we need to recreate this capacity - because Iraq is only the beginning of the new paradigm of holding nation’s responsible and accountable for the terrorism they harbor and export. We have at least another 20 years of this kind of regime toppling if we, the civilized world, are to end the scourge of international terrorism exports.

To some degree, in 20 years or so, this international terrorism will abate all by itself, due to the aging of its membership. Not many terrorists in the world over 45, and there are sound and predictable sociological reasons for that. One of the tricks is to insure that this does not become a multi-generational holy war. The way to do that is for the civilized world to embrace Islam for what it is, one of the 4 major world religions for spiritual guidance and living a good life. Keyword here “living”.

As for FEMA, its problems exist on both the bureauacracy level as well as the absense of accountability level. Many 100’s of millions of dollars were wasted on fraud, inefficiency, and lack of accountability, all of which can only be corrected with bureaucracy, albeit, far more efficient and experienced. FEMA has a ways to go yet before it can function efficiently and effectively in the wake of large disasters.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 19, 2006 4:28 PM
Comment #176518


McArthur would never succeed today. He would be too unPC. He said things like the Japanese understood and respected power. He made himself a little god. It worked. His study of history and experience had shown him the right way. Imagine the outrage his insensitivity would have drawn today.

Faced with riots as they had in Iraq, McArthur would have shot to kill. The mere mention of that in Iraq brought down the wrath of the chattering classes.

Maybe that McArthur idea re recognizing power is true in the Middle East too. Unfortunately, we are not allowed to try that approach by our own fretting PC fools.

Posted by: Jack at August 19, 2006 6:47 PM
Comment #176529

Jack, I guess welfare reform didn’t work after all. These people have no job skills and no jobs. That’s why they haven’t recovered a year later. A lot of them are here in Houston.

Actually, the Quarter is up and running, I am told by those that have been there. Many are not moving back, they’ve had enough. Galveston was surpassed by Houston after the 1900 storm wiped it out.

Why is your assumption that New Orlean’s is slower to recover than anywhere else?

Posted by: gergle at August 19, 2006 7:31 PM
Comment #176530

Nagin’s race baiting while deplorable, is not any worse than the Republican undertone of racism in the South, and suburban America, in my opinion.

Posted by: gergle at August 19, 2006 7:34 PM
Comment #176551

Jack, McArthur today would be a product of his time as he was in the 30’s and 40’s. Context changes people, not necessarily their brilliance, their values, as much as their contextual understanding. A MacArthur today I think would have more appropriate answers in context with our time.

Brilliance is derided at first, then debated, probed, and ultimately can lead to acceptance as if it was always true. Most people still think gravity is a force. They will argue it is so, despite the fact that brilliance tells us it is not a force, but a warpage in time/space.

MacArthur understood Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and followed it in the rebuilding of the Japanese nation, culture, and even the people themselves with a new education for the new generations. That is what is woefully absent from our DoD, which the President relies on for guidance in Iraq. But it cannot come from the military. Nation building’s knowledge comes from the Humanities, not War College. This is why the Bush administration has failed so miserably in Iraq after the fall of Saddam. Their background and orientation was all geared and experienced in taking Saddam down, which they did extremely well and efficiently. Then our military found itself trying to use the same methodologies of war to erect order and peace. It was doomed to failure.

MacArthur recognized that the first need of Japan was pride, and in leaving the Emperor in place, he left the Japanese people their pride, upon which they could rebuild with confidence, energy, and willingness to adapt and accomodate to become an even greater nation than before.

What pride did the Bush administration leave for the Sunnis? What hope did it give the Sunnis that a Shia dominated government would not retalliate? Military force and martial law were the Bush response. Wholly, completely, and utterly inadequate for the task of maintaining unity in Iraq.

What was needed was a superordinate goal which the Kurds, Sunnis and Shia all desired intensely, but, could not achieve without each others full cooperation. Such a goal was never put before the Iraqi people. In Bush’s mind, democracy was that goal. But, ignorantly, he failed to realize the Iraqi people hadn’t a clue what democracy was, so it could not be the superordinate goal they sought. Elections was the extent of their understanding of democracy. That is an act which takes place every once in awhile. What was to bind them together interdependently in between elections.

The Bush adminstration had not even the capacity to think in these terms. I suspect they rejected such thoughts from others too, as being too left winged, too touchy feely, too sensitive in the context of a military occupation with grandiose superiority in firepower. Force was the only answer our DoD and WhiteHouse had to offer with confidence. Overconfidence, I should say, because it failed horribly as Iraq continued to devolve into civil war.

Now we are adding more FORCE to the situation. As if that will make matters better. This administration hasn’t a clue about what they are dealing with.

And we saw the same cluelessness in the wake of Katrina. The White House, after realizing they should do something, did what they did in Iraq. They through resources at the problem, money, trailers, orders, debit cards, phone banks, etc. But, they never took the time to examine what it was the people really needed first. Hope, assurance, trust and confidence that they would be able to restore and rebuild their lives, their mental and emotional lives, as well as their physical lives.

What did the Bush adminstration offer to help the people heal from that most egregious assault on their lives and well being? Physical necessities and little else. Woefully inadequate.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 19, 2006 10:21 PM
Comment #176561


The parts of New Orleans that should recover ARE recovering. The quarter should rebuild.


GIve the Sunnis what? If their pride depended on oppressing and ruling the other 80% of the population, there was not much we could promise them.

You are right about MacArthur being a product of his times. America changed, but maybe the challenges didn’t. The Arab street clearly understands power. You mention Maslow. Establishing order should have been the first priority even if it meant some harsh measures at first. We made the mistake of going in too soft and some of our enemies took it to be weakness. It looks like they were right. It doesn’t matter how much power you possess if everybody knows you won’t really use it.

Posted by: Jack at August 20, 2006 12:05 AM
Comment #176626

Jack, asked, “Give the Sunnis what?

Well, Jack, that is the point, isn’t it. If there was nothing to be offered to the Sunnis, then their retalliation against the new government, the U.S. forces, and the Shia should have been plainly obvious before ever invading, shouldn’t it? The White House said they would welcome us with open arms. Stupid White House.

And yes, you are right. We didn’t invade with sufficient strength to secure the borders to prevent importation of enemy fighting forces, or to secure the major urban centers. Despite the fact that some modern day MacArthurs told the President it would take 300,000 troops minimum to successfully secure the nation.

It is not that we went in too soft in our actions, we went in undermanned to accomplish the task of giving the Sunnis no choice but to cooperate. In 4 months, we will have been fighting in Iraq as long as our entire involvement in fighting WWII against the Italian, German and Japanese nations.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 20, 2006 1:46 PM
Comment #176639

Nagin’s race baiting while deplorable, is not any worse than the Republican undertone of racism in the South, and suburban America, in my opinion.

And what part of the South do you live in that makes you an expert on that? In the part I live in neither party has a corner on that market.
Unfortunately racism does still exist down here. And unfortunately it still exist in other parts of the country too. And it crosses ALL party lines.

Posted by: Ron Brown at August 20, 2006 3:00 PM
Comment #176698

Ron Brown,

I live in Houston.

Granted there are slimy politicians on both sides. But I do believe the reason the South has become a bastion of the Republicans in national politics is the subtext of rolling back advances by minorities. They speak to the angry white males to gain votes.

My only authority is my ears and eyes. I don’t close them to the obvious.

Posted by: gergle at August 21, 2006 6:01 AM
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