Monday, September 05, 2005


Fisking the local paper

posted by Rob at 8:08 PM

I just noticed a classic unprofessional editorial in my local paper, the Watauga Democrat. It was published Friday, but I just saw it today. It runs from New Orleans to Iraq and begs to be fisked:
Memo to the Feds: Get the troops to the Gulf Coast, pronto
“I need troops.”
Those are words no American mayor should ever have to say but that was exactly the plea made by New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin in the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation and the subsequent lawlessness in the streets.
Actually, those are the words a governor should say when a Category 5 hurricane is off the coast of one of your largest cities, especially when that city is below sea level and almost surrounded by water.
While on the ground, federal, state and local workers have toiled unceasingly to rescue the homeless, feed the hungry and treat the wounded, the upper-echelon officials in Washington have been snail-slow in their response to such a desperate and far-reaching crisis.
If federal workers are toiling, then someone up the federal chain set them to a-toiling. And exactly how would one define "snail-slow"? The National Guard needs roughly 72 hours to mobilize. By Wednesday, no troops had been called because the governor of Louisiana was drenched in a pissing conest with the feds over who gets to wear the commander's hat.

Plus there's the small, almost forgotten problems of clear roads to the people in need, and dealing with the armies of armed looters wading through the streets.
Only now are military troops being deployed to stem anarchy and street violence.
Only now is President Bush visiting the strife torn Gulf Coast — four days after the fact.
Only now does the federal government seem to be instituting a plan to help survivors communicate with family and friends.
Only now have military transports been mobilized.
Most hurricane recovery plans address supplying shelter, food and water to residents and, I assume, do not include a section on "How To Combat Armed Resistence." I have yet to hear of armed gangs of geriatrics wheeling through the streets of West Palm Beach after Hurricane Frances.

There's also the slight inconvenience of all those other hundreds of square miles hit by Katrina. You know, the white victims who live outside of New Orleans and in Mississippi. Their comfort is obviously the government's top priority. (Don't you read Nancy Giles?)

In a Friday press conference before leaving, the president said, “The results are not acceptable...we’ll get on top of this.”
President Bush, that should have been the top priority Monday morning.
Actually, Bush was calling the governor Saturday begging her to order a mandatory evacuation. She finally did so Sunday. He thought he got the ball rolling. How was he to know Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco went back to bed?

One New Orleans police officer was overheard saying, “No one is coming to help.”
Indeed, national news media workers seem to have a better track record for getting to refugees than do federal workers.
The MSM gets points and deserved applause for the job it did. No doubt. But there's unfortunately this whole "federalism" thing where there are definite lines where state authority ends and federal authority begins. The President isn't supposed to order troops into another state. That kinda has to start with a governor. And - shhhhh - she's sleeping right now.

It’s time for our federal government to redirect our national energies into this effort. Let’s get our troops and money out of Iraq and bring them to bear on this wound in our national side before it’s too late. Let’s deploy soldiers to New Orleans ASAP to quell this needless violence.
Here we go. The money shot. The happy ending. Viva la Sheehan.
Seriously, that second line could have easily started as "Let’s get our troops and money out of Germany," or "Let's get our troops and money out of Korea." Yet neither really carry that timely sting like "Iraq." I can just see a neocon reading that line while whincing and rubbing their backside saying,"Oooooo. They have us there."

It’s understandable that there are limits to what the government can do. We’ve literally never experienced a natural disaster of this magnitude before. But that doesn’t excuse the snail’s pace of the government’s response. It’s not the rescuers’ fault — it’s their leadership’s.
The Hurricane-apoolza in Florida last year. The massive blackout in the Northeast several months ago. All those annual mudslides in California. They don't compare to Hurricane Katrina, of course, but none of them had inept local leadership either. Jeb knows the drill when the wind blows. The Yankees dealt calmly with the lights out. When disaster hits the West Coast, they respond by taking a break from looting and shooting.

Yet now we finally see the limits of "what the government can do," yet we're gonna complain about it anyway.
We’ve spent billions on Homeland Security, let’s see it in action. We need to bring a new kind of planning to disaster relief.
Ain't it cute when a blind squirrel finally finds a nut.

To paraphrase Nagin, the time has long passed for federal authorities to act on their promises.
“You mean to tell me that a place where you probably have thousands of people that have died and thousands more that are dying every day, that we can’t figure out a way to authorize the resources that we need? Come on, man,” he said.
Yeah, c’mon, man.
I love reading how little sense Nagin makes. If time has long passed for federal authorities to act on their promises, does that mean it doesn't matter if they act? Do they still have to act? But if there's some acting going on now, doesn't that mean the act is in progress?

If Nagin is alone in his office and asks a poverty stricken resident with no car to evacuate a few hours before hell hits, does he make a strong local leader?

And if a local paper with no clue but plenty of free time publishes a silly editorial, can it be mistaken for the New York Times?

Yeah, c'mon man.

1 Comments:

Blogger Marie said...

Rob,
All I can say is that a fisking by you feels Oh so good! Really, you can hardly classify the tri-weekly community newspaper as doing a classic unprofessional job when it only publishes an editorial once every six months. Having witnessed the conception of the editorial; the CNN interview with a mother begging for water after 4 days of no help inside the Superdome, I think you can understand the emotions that stirred the editorial. OK--so you win on all of your points. The paper should do better. The editorials should be written more than 4 minutes before the paper goes to press. The paper really really sucks. There is no content nor brains behind a single biased word printed. Now, go tell Donna and Shook that they need to find another job because the paper sucks. Just a little friendly advise, there are real people behind the words 'the paper'.
Love from your thick-skinned goddess...

9:43 PM, September 07, 2005  

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