Since I watched network news, that is. I tuned in ABC tonight, hoping to see a replay of the comments on Bush's speech by evacuees in the Houston Astrodome
. It was a shocking reminder of why I quit watching these jerks. You'd think Bush's speech was a big dud. The photo they had of the President, had a big sad frown.
They featured John Kerry
, of all people, criticizing it as "too little, too late." I wonder what he'd have done, put on his lucky hat and headed down to do a little windsurfing?
This is late at night and they have a couple of young happy-talkers who make the Fox News and CNN anchors look like Walter Cronkite. When I first turned the TV on there was Ted Koppel in a clip from Nightline
with Richard Clarke and Jerry Howar discussing how the military should have moved in right away. This was a "calamity," which is apparently worse than a "disaster," so they should have been moving in within the first hour. Clarke recounted how when he was in the White House they had programs to provide proper emergency equipment to the cities hit by disasters. The military should have rolled in the first hour. They shouldn't have waited to be asked. "It was the planning assumption for years, when I was in the White House under three presidents, that if there were a major disaster that it would be turned over to the military."
Yeah, sure, Dick. Ever heard of the Posse Commitatus Act? When you were in the White House, the World Trade Center was bombed and the Oklahome City bombing took place and in which one did the military move in and take over? I guess none of these rose to the level of a 'calamity.' They were only 'disasters.' No color code or threat levels for them. I kept wondering why he didn't say where a "catastrophe" was in this hierarchy.
Of course, in Katrina the mayor and the governor weren't knocked out of action, they just weren't ever in
action. They didn't know what they were supposed to do besides order an evacuation. Ted Koppel and guests marveled that FEMA didn't even know about the flooding when the levees broke. Why, two reporters from the Times-Picayune went out on bicycles
and "got very good intelligence."
Well, Ted, did they call FEMA and tell them? Are you saying that FEMA should have had people riding bicycles in the Crescent City to give them minute by minute updates? I seem to remember seeing a lot of Coast Guard copters over the area. Wouldn't they have contacted FEMA? My understanding is that there aren't any limitations on its ability to move right in, and they did. But the law still requires the local and state authorities to take charge and ask for federal help. This is dismissed as "red tape" and "bureaucratic buck-passing," but if it hadn't been observed I'll bet we'd have been hearing a different tune from Ted and Dick.
This clip was followed by a snotty little announcement that "our colleagues at Nightline did invite the secretary of Homeland Security Secretary to be a part of that show to respond, but he declined."
Is it any wonder that Bush's rating are down in the polls after two weeks of this sneering, smug and hostile treatment? Is it any wonder that these networks are losing audience?
Later, they showed a piece about how New York would respond to a nuke attack by terrorists, and the importance of communications. The two anchors commented that a lot of the things they did on 9/11 could have really helped in Katrina.
Why it sure would have! The equipment and the training were available through home security grants to the cities. Why didn't New Orleans have any of it?
But New York had a lot more that New Orleans didn't have, it had leadership and competent police and fire protection. I'm sure there are New Orleans cops who are dedicated and heroic, but there were about a third of them who just disappeared into the trees. Maybe they weren't being paid enough to attract real professionals, or maybe they didn't have the tradition and culture of service that their New York brethren do.
On 9/11, who made sure that the feds and state were notified and told what was needed? Why Mayor Giuliani and Governor Pataki! They were prepared, with a plan and people who knew their jobs! They had been paying attention and thinking! And they were communicating. They had people who knew what to do and how to communicate and coordinate with each other and with FEMA.
The whole system was designed to be triggered by local officials who are presumed to know what's happening and what is needed where. What is the federal government supposed to do, just ignore the authority of local officials and run roughshod over them? They could go around and run test drills and decide whom to defer to and whom to ignore? Or should they just assume that if the local government is run by Democrats, don't expect them to do their jobs?
I'm sure that the mayor and governors would welcome having the military roll in before the storm even past and start ordering people around.
I do not want the federal government taking more rights and responsibility from the states. The USA is a federation of states which have their own sovereignty. Every usurpation seems to be preceded by some emergency that justifies a little more reliance on government. If free people don't maintain their independence, their freedom goes with it. I don't think the feds should be the primary agency to dealt with local disasters. That's the job of governors and mayors for them. If they don't perform they should get fired by the people and new ones found. The federales
should be able to rely on the locals to know what's going on and keep them informed and give them heads ups in sufficient time for them to arrange for additional help.
Another irony I noticed was in the segment about a hypothetical 10 kiloton 'device' were detonated in New York. The network's security said we should have duck tape and plastic sheeting
to keep radioactive fallout from getting into our houses. I remember Tom Ridge telling us this, and his advice being being roundly mocked in the liberal press.
That's why it will be an even longer time before I go back to get ABC to tell me anything.