It's all your fault

The President has certainly had a difficult time of it lately. Hurricane Katrina has brought forth a dizzying array of problems, each one of them, apparently, clearly the fault of President Bush.

The city of New Orleans has long been at high risk for a disaster of the magnitude of Katrina. Several previous studies have shown that there was a high probability of major flooding from a strong hurricane.  However, according to an article on factcheck.org , even if all the requested Federal funding for hurricane flood control had been allocated, there is still serious doubt that the funding would have prevented the Katrina disaster because the project was never designed to handle a storm of that intensity.

'...We asked the Corps about that  'design issue.'  David Hewitt, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers, said [White House Press Secretary Scott] McClellan was referring to the fact that 'the levees were designed for a category 3 hurricane.' He [Hewitt] told us that, consequently, 'when it became apparent that this was a category 5 hurricane, an evacuation of the city was ordered.' (A category 3 storm has sustained winds of no more than 130 miles per hour, while a category 5 storm has winds exceeding 155 miles per hour. Katrina had winds of 160 mph as it approached shore, but later weakened to winds of 140+ mph as it made landfall, making it a strong category 4 storm, according to the National Hurricane Center.)

The levee upgrade project around Lake Pontchartrain was only 60 to 90 percent complete across most areas of New Orleans as of the end of May, according to the Corps' May 23 fact sheet. Still, even if it had been completed, the project's goal was protecting New Orleans from storm surges up to "a fast—moving Category 3 hurricane,' according to the fact sheet.

We don't know whether the levees would have done better had the work been completed. But the Corps says that even a completed levee project wasn't designed for the storm that actually occurred...'

Katrina was an act of God (Are we allowed to say that? Maybe better to just stick with 'act of nature'), the quintessential perfect storm. Many Democratic partisans, such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr., have been quick to opine that the fact that Katrina even existed in the first place is a result of global warming, and therefore the fault of President Bush and his refusal to accede to the Kyoto Protocol. However, there is considerable skepticism within the scientific community as to whether or not global warming is even real. An article in the Wall Street Journal's Opinionjournal.com site cautioned against rushing to judgement on the entire 'global warming' issue. In the late 1990's, an American geoscientist named Michael Mann published a study that claimed to show a dramatic rise in Northern Hemisphere surface temperature in the past 100 years, with the previous 900 years before that essentially unchanged, resulting in his famous 'hockey stick' temperature chart. Mr. Mann's hockey stick has since played the starring role in many a global warming supporter's public presentations.

Yet many renowned scholars have grave questions concerning both Mann's procedures and conclusions. For example, in 2003 two Canadian scientists studying Mann's paper found it

'...was riddled with 'collation errors, unjustifiable truncations of extrapolation of source data, obsolete data, geographical location errors, incorrect calculations of principal components, and other quality control defects.' ' There certainly is cause for real uncertainty in the scientific community, and Messrs. Kennedy Jr., Gore, et. al. should be more careful before jumping to as—yet unsubstantiated conclusions.

In any event, it seems fantastic to give President Bush credit for changing the earth's weather so dramatically—normally a centuries—long process—in only a few short years. Even more interesting is that the Senate unanimously rejected the Kyoto Protocol during the Clinton administration, a fact that is always left out—conveniently—by the sky—is—falling enviro crowd.

In the aftermath of the New Orleans flood, there has been enough finger pointing to last several lifetimes. Cathleen Blanco, Louisiana's governor, and Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, were both very quick on the trigger to criticize the Feds' slow response, with the direct, intentional implication that the supposed 'slow response' was the President's fault. Yet it is now clear that hundreds of buses were available that could have been used to evacuate people from the worst areas, but Mayor Nagin never ordered those buses in. Then the buses were flooded over, and the matter became academic. Likewise, it's now apparent that Governor Blanco's immediate post—flood response was muddled and erratic, especially with her inexplicable hesitation to use the National Guard to assist in the early going when the situation was at its worst.

Actually, it's fascinating to contrast the bold, courageous, steadfast leadership shown by New York's Mayor Giuliani and Governor Pataki following the September 11th attacks to the seemingly dazed, inept, vacuous mismanagement of Blanco and Nagin. Giuliani and Pataki immediately became household names, known worldwide for their calm, measured, appropriate handling of the WTC attack. On the other hand, it's doubtful that the average American even knows who Blanco and Nagin are, so low have been their public profiles. But once again, their ineffective local response has somehow been transformed by the media into President Bush's fault.

 Then there's the race issue, by far the most troubling and distasteful aspect of the entire tragedy. President Bush has been accused of not acting quickly because most of the victims in New Orleans were poor blacks. As Larry Elder wrote in his column on 9/8:

The so—called "black leaders," of course, led the race card parade. The Congressional Black Caucus's Rep. Diane Watson, D—Calif., described those suffering as "sons and daughters of slaves." NAACP attorney Damon Hewitt said, "If the majority of the folks left behind were white individuals, and most of the folks who were able to escape on their own were African Americans, then I wouldn't be sitting here right now. This is a racial story." Rapper Kanye West, at an NBC relief concert, screamed, "George Bush doesn't care about black people."

It was President Bush's fault that Katrina hit New Orleans instead of the Hamptons and that made him happy? This is beyond preposterous, even by the race—baiters' outlandish standards.

Most people simply can't grasp the enormity of this event. Quite simply, nothing even remotely on this scale has hit the United States before. The September 10th—16th edition of the Euro—centric magazine The Economist, despite an incredibly anti—U.S. slanted cover story (The shaming of America, complete with a photograph of a despondent black storm victim) put the hurricane's size into its proper context: 'Katrina wreaked havoc over an area the size of Britain.' Neither the Federal or local Governments' performance was perfect, nor could they have been expected to be. President Bush has freely admitted as much, and has taken specific steps to improve things in the future.

Yet in spite of a natural disaster affecting millions in an area as large as our closest ally's country, barely two weeks after Katrina hit, people are being housed and well cared for, repairs are being made, and predictions abound that Mardi Gras will go on in the French Quarter as usual next year.

On a personal level, the Katrina disaster can't be minimized. So many lives have been permanently uprooted and thrown asunder that it's impossible to overstate the toll in human suffering. Yet the political opportunists and anti—Republican mainstream media has, once again, used the entire event as nothing more than another excuse to heap criticism on the President. For Mr. Bush's enemies, Katrina is just the latest opportunity to pummel the Administration like a heavy bag. Earlier this summer, the Karl Rove/Valerie Plame non—story was trotted out in a futile attempt to embarrass President Bush. Then Cindy Sheehan's bizarre, self—inflated histrionics were elevated to front—page status by every anti—Bush media outlet in the country. Now, sadly, liberal partisans are shamelessly politicizing a genuine national crisis in a transparent effort to advance the Democrats' future electoral chances. Their behavior wounds the country by making it nearly impossible for the nation to come together as one, at a time when national unity and clarity of purpose is needed most. Whose fault is that?

Steve Feinstein is a frequent contributor.

The President has certainly had a difficult time of it lately. Hurricane Katrina has brought forth a dizzying array of problems, each one of them, apparently, clearly the fault of President Bush.

The city of New Orleans has long been at high risk for a disaster of the magnitude of Katrina. Several previous studies have shown that there was a high probability of major flooding from a strong hurricane.  However, according to an article on factcheck.org , even if all the requested Federal funding for hurricane flood control had been allocated, there is still serious doubt that the funding would have prevented the Katrina disaster because the project was never designed to handle a storm of that intensity.

'...We asked the Corps about that  'design issue.'  David Hewitt, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers, said [White House Press Secretary Scott] McClellan was referring to the fact that 'the levees were designed for a category 3 hurricane.' He [Hewitt] told us that, consequently, 'when it became apparent that this was a category 5 hurricane, an evacuation of the city was ordered.' (A category 3 storm has sustained winds of no more than 130 miles per hour, while a category 5 storm has winds exceeding 155 miles per hour. Katrina had winds of 160 mph as it approached shore, but later weakened to winds of 140+ mph as it made landfall, making it a strong category 4 storm, according to the National Hurricane Center.)

The levee upgrade project around Lake Pontchartrain was only 60 to 90 percent complete across most areas of New Orleans as of the end of May, according to the Corps' May 23 fact sheet. Still, even if it had been completed, the project's goal was protecting New Orleans from storm surges up to "a fast—moving Category 3 hurricane,' according to the fact sheet.

We don't know whether the levees would have done better had the work been completed. But the Corps says that even a completed levee project wasn't designed for the storm that actually occurred...'

Katrina was an act of God (Are we allowed to say that? Maybe better to just stick with 'act of nature'), the quintessential perfect storm. Many Democratic partisans, such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr., have been quick to opine that the fact that Katrina even existed in the first place is a result of global warming, and therefore the fault of President Bush and his refusal to accede to the Kyoto Protocol. However, there is considerable skepticism within the scientific community as to whether or not global warming is even real. An article in the Wall Street Journal's Opinionjournal.com site cautioned against rushing to judgement on the entire 'global warming' issue. In the late 1990's, an American geoscientist named Michael Mann published a study that claimed to show a dramatic rise in Northern Hemisphere surface temperature in the past 100 years, with the previous 900 years before that essentially unchanged, resulting in his famous 'hockey stick' temperature chart. Mr. Mann's hockey stick has since played the starring role in many a global warming supporter's public presentations.

Yet many renowned scholars have grave questions concerning both Mann's procedures and conclusions. For example, in 2003 two Canadian scientists studying Mann's paper found it

'...was riddled with 'collation errors, unjustifiable truncations of extrapolation of source data, obsolete data, geographical location errors, incorrect calculations of principal components, and other quality control defects.' ' There certainly is cause for real uncertainty in the scientific community, and Messrs. Kennedy Jr., Gore, et. al. should be more careful before jumping to as—yet unsubstantiated conclusions.

In any event, it seems fantastic to give President Bush credit for changing the earth's weather so dramatically—normally a centuries—long process—in only a few short years. Even more interesting is that the Senate unanimously rejected the Kyoto Protocol during the Clinton administration, a fact that is always left out—conveniently—by the sky—is—falling enviro crowd.

In the aftermath of the New Orleans flood, there has been enough finger pointing to last several lifetimes. Cathleen Blanco, Louisiana's governor, and Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, were both very quick on the trigger to criticize the Feds' slow response, with the direct, intentional implication that the supposed 'slow response' was the President's fault. Yet it is now clear that hundreds of buses were available that could have been used to evacuate people from the worst areas, but Mayor Nagin never ordered those buses in. Then the buses were flooded over, and the matter became academic. Likewise, it's now apparent that Governor Blanco's immediate post—flood response was muddled and erratic, especially with her inexplicable hesitation to use the National Guard to assist in the early going when the situation was at its worst.

Actually, it's fascinating to contrast the bold, courageous, steadfast leadership shown by New York's Mayor Giuliani and Governor Pataki following the September 11th attacks to the seemingly dazed, inept, vacuous mismanagement of Blanco and Nagin. Giuliani and Pataki immediately became household names, known worldwide for their calm, measured, appropriate handling of the WTC attack. On the other hand, it's doubtful that the average American even knows who Blanco and Nagin are, so low have been their public profiles. But once again, their ineffective local response has somehow been transformed by the media into President Bush's fault.

 Then there's the race issue, by far the most troubling and distasteful aspect of the entire tragedy. President Bush has been accused of not acting quickly because most of the victims in New Orleans were poor blacks. As Larry Elder wrote in his column on 9/8:

The so—called "black leaders," of course, led the race card parade. The Congressional Black Caucus's Rep. Diane Watson, D—Calif., described those suffering as "sons and daughters of slaves." NAACP attorney Damon Hewitt said, "If the majority of the folks left behind were white individuals, and most of the folks who were able to escape on their own were African Americans, then I wouldn't be sitting here right now. This is a racial story." Rapper Kanye West, at an NBC relief concert, screamed, "George Bush doesn't care about black people."

It was President Bush's fault that Katrina hit New Orleans instead of the Hamptons and that made him happy? This is beyond preposterous, even by the race—baiters' outlandish standards.

Most people simply can't grasp the enormity of this event. Quite simply, nothing even remotely on this scale has hit the United States before. The September 10th—16th edition of the Euro—centric magazine The Economist, despite an incredibly anti—U.S. slanted cover story (The shaming of America, complete with a photograph of a despondent black storm victim) put the hurricane's size into its proper context: 'Katrina wreaked havoc over an area the size of Britain.' Neither the Federal or local Governments' performance was perfect, nor could they have been expected to be. President Bush has freely admitted as much, and has taken specific steps to improve things in the future.

Yet in spite of a natural disaster affecting millions in an area as large as our closest ally's country, barely two weeks after Katrina hit, people are being housed and well cared for, repairs are being made, and predictions abound that Mardi Gras will go on in the French Quarter as usual next year.

On a personal level, the Katrina disaster can't be minimized. So many lives have been permanently uprooted and thrown asunder that it's impossible to overstate the toll in human suffering. Yet the political opportunists and anti—Republican mainstream media has, once again, used the entire event as nothing more than another excuse to heap criticism on the President. For Mr. Bush's enemies, Katrina is just the latest opportunity to pummel the Administration like a heavy bag. Earlier this summer, the Karl Rove/Valerie Plame non—story was trotted out in a futile attempt to embarrass President Bush. Then Cindy Sheehan's bizarre, self—inflated histrionics were elevated to front—page status by every anti—Bush media outlet in the country. Now, sadly, liberal partisans are shamelessly politicizing a genuine national crisis in a transparent effort to advance the Democrats' future electoral chances. Their behavior wounds the country by making it nearly impossible for the nation to come together as one, at a time when national unity and clarity of purpose is needed most. Whose fault is that?

Steve Feinstein is a frequent contributor.