Thursday, September 22, 2005



In the 1978 classic film Animal House, as Flounder's brother's car is being pimped out by his fellow Delta delinquents, Flounder fears his brother's reaction to the wholesale carnage being visited upon the vehicle. Otter, as only a frat brother can, reassures Flounder thusly:

"You fucked up. You trusted us."

I was reminded of this great moment in how friends can be uncaring as I read the story from the Baton Rouge Advocate about the Louisiana school buses never used to ferry people out of the destruction following Katrina. I have heard complaints -- including from my cousin, who lives in nearby Metairie -- that the locals proved their incompetence by not having those buses out and ready.

Now, it turns out, FEMA directed them not to use those buses.

This changes the tone of the debate for me. Up until this moment, I was happy to assume that the local governments were incompetent. I have been to Louisiana, and not everybody I've met seems like he'd be likely to get a middle management job at a New York advertising agency.

And perhaps they were. Governor Kathleen Blanco, assured by FEMA that 500 buses were on the way -- air-conditioned buses, unlike the ones already on the ground in the New Orleans area -- believed that they were, and chose to trust the federal government. She has forgotten, of course, that the foxes control the hen house -- the little government people are running the federal government, and they don't believe much in what it is they're heading. (Perhaps this explains why Joe Horse Boy was in charge of disaster response.)

So, Blanco, a Democrat, and theoretically a believer that one good thing government can do is pool resources and solve problems, trusted the government. The result was disaster and death.

It's kind of like when you were a kid and your parents asked you to do something that you didn't want to do. If they asked you to clean the bathroom, but you instead dropped bleach all over the good towels, suddenly you were no longer asked to clean the bathroom. So perhaps the plan was to avoid having to respond to all those annoying emergencies and help all those people who probably hadn't donated to the proper election committees.

Somehow, I don't think that Gov. Blanco -- or any Democrat (or, for that matter, any Republican) -- will make this same mistake twice.

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