I could spend the next several hours posting my thoughts about Katrina, and there'd still be more to post. Why am I posting this? All I'm reading in most places is how the Feds have screwed up, and how Bush has failed to take care of things. And a lot of this is from people I expect to know better.
A fair and balanced view of the situation would point out that yes, the Feds screwed up in a lot of cases. However, the Feds are not first-responders, and their job is to assist local governments. The governments of Louisiana and of New Orleans have utterly failed to do their jobs, and as a result, when emergency plans and emergency-related infrastructure were needed, they weren't there.
Assistance works a lot better when there's something there to assist.
Phillip Pournelle, son of Jerry Pournelle, has been on the scene from the start. His long report is here, and additional letters can be found here and here, among other places.
Alex Pournelle offers his thoughts here on "Was the response well handled?" (Answer: yes and no.)
Here is an article showing the local government simply fell down on the job.
...research into more than ten years of reporting on hurricane and flood damage mitigation efforts in and around New Orleans indicates that local and state officials did not use federal money that was available for levee improvements or coastal reinforcement and often did not secure local matching funds that would have generated even more federal funding.
And, I'll include this. It's a piece written by the president "of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, a free market public policy research organization in Olympia, Wash." One person I pointed to it "responded" by pointing out that, as an op-ed piece, nothing in it need be factually true. That's not a response. That's argument by assertion, and completely unsupported by evidence. I could argue that this person's sources are making stuff up and printing it as fact. Evidence in support, on the other hand, is welcome.
There'll be lots more in the days and weeks ahead, and I may feel like commenting more when I get back. Then again, I may not.
However, in fairness, you can't put all the blame for what's gone wrong on the party that's supposed to assist and give the first responders a free pass. When I see people condemning the Feds, and Bush in particular, and ignoring gross mismanagement at the local level, I begin to suspect an agenda, and one not related to saving lives.
I hope I'm wrong. If I'm right, maybe this can serve as a "clue-by-four" upside the head to re-orient perspective. If I'm wrong....