Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » September 2005 » The Sheer Incompetence of It All...

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09/11/2005: The Sheer Incompetence of It All...


An America I Never Expected To See by Clive Crook (National Journal) is another well written piece:

I still find this epic of incompetence -- sustained, systemic, outrageous incompetence -- genuinely hard to believe. If you had told me that the flooding of the city would be followed by day after day of chaos, with officials at every level incapable of any effective action; if you had told me that an uncounted number of dead bodies would be floating in the street days after the levees were breached, while huge crowds of abandoned victims, filmed from helicopters, clamored for food and water, with not a police officer or a soldier or an emergency worker of any kind to be seen; if you had said that as the country watched all of this go on, and on, and on, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency should appear on television to tell open-mouthed news anchors how pleased he was that everything was going so well -- if you had described all of this to me ahead of time, I would have said you were crazy. In Italy (forgive my British prejudices), maybe such a thing could be imagined. In Bangladesh, well, sadly yes -- until foreigners, preferably led by Americans, arrived to help. But in the United States? For heaven's sake, it simply could not happen.
...
The answer seems to be: sheer incompetence, before and after the storm, at every level of government -- local, state, and federal. I cannot accept that the blame lies solely with the Bush administration. The loss of life was so great mainly because of the failure to evacuate the city before the storm. Blame for that -- for the indecision, and for the lack of policing and preparation (including public transport for those who needed it to get out) -- lies mainly with local and state authorities. As soon as the scale of the catastrophe was apparent, though, and it became clear that the local authorities were utterly incapable, blame shifts to the federal government. It should have taken charge sooner, deploying resources already positioned to go.
...
Let's not trouble over whether society exists. My concern, as a new resident of Washington, is whether a system for recovering from civil disasters exists. What purports to be such a system, newly built at vast expense, has just been tested -- and not as severely as it will be in future, since this calamity had at least been foreseen and thought about. We have the results, and one wonders whether no system at all could have been any worse. Welcome to America.


and Time has a good run through of events.

Karen on 09.11.05 @ 09:39 AM CST



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