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September 06, 2005

Hollywood turns Katrina into a political statement

I am sure this is not a surprise to any of you. Sean Penn, who must think he speaks for every perceived victim out there, says the US government is guilty of "criminal negligence" Irish-born celebrity Pierce Brosnan believes that President Bush has "a lot to answer for". Kanye West makes the boldest statements of all on NBC, saying "George Bush doesn't care about black people" in front of a stunned Mike Myers. Are they right? Should President Bush answer for the problems in New Orleans?

Let's consult the United States Constitution first.
Amendment X - Powers of the States and People.
Ratified 12/15/1791.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
There are no mentions of natural disasters being restricted to the federal government. Now, this is not a direct placement of responsibility on Louisiana or the lower governments for the effects of Katrina, but it does make a strong statement.

The federal government does not have absolute power, and it certainly does not have the resources or manpower to take on every problem that arises. This is one of the main reasons that this amendment was added (the other being that the states were afraid that they would lose all power in the establishment of a stronger national government). The United States government could not possibly be expected to pull out the thousands of people left in New Orleans. But Louisiana has the power to call up the National Guard, something that the national government could not do. Why didn't they call on them earlier?

With so many people left in New Orleans, shouldn't there have been an option for escape? There was, and, for whatever reason, this option was left alone. The Junkyard Blog has been wondering why New Orleans did not use their extensive collection of school buses (which must have been in pristine condition before Katrina for them to have never even consider their use). President Bush was not needed for this. Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco, or even New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin (though it appears that the two cannot be grouped together), very much had the position to call up such an option, and with a few days to evacuate the city, they could have directed the people unable to evacuate to the buses rather than the Superdome.

Well, perhaps it wasn't political. Maybe these celebrities and others were just angry and wanted someone to lash out at, right? Michelle Malkin thinks that a lot of the stories coming out of New Orleans are complete trash. And then, there are the calls for political correctness when they are even less justified than ever.

Make no mistake, Hurricane Katrina was a huge tragedy, for people of all races and backgrounds, but questioning the federal government because the local governments failed is irresponsible and motivated by partisanship. While I'll fault Penn for his comments, he has done one thing I admire; he has volunteered, spending his time helping others. It would be in his best interest to stop blaming Bush (as he always does) and concentrate on helping those in need. It might also be beneficial if he questioned Governor Blanco and the rest of Louisiana's state and local governments as well; why did they drop the ball?

Wesley Pruden of the Washington Times wonders much of the same.