The American Gazette

Commonsense political and social commentary from "Flyover Country"

Location: Rural Michigan, United States

Saturday, September 03, 2005

What is the real cause of the outcome from Katrina?

As Katrina was preparing to hit land I watched the news, and as many people in the country did I breathed a sigh of relief when it appeared that the storm would not end up being as bad as it first appeared it would.

The aftermath initially was bad, as bad as some of the other big hurricanes in this country had been, yet it appeared to me and apparently many who stayed in New Orleans that the worst of it had passed. They crept out of their houses and peeked about and thought ok, we escaped the worst of it. A great deal of damage to be sure, one only needed to look at coast of Mississippi to see that, but still it seemed the great catastrophe had not come.

When I don't work I watch the news quite a bit, I troll through various news sites and blogs and generally keep up with what is going on in the world. I suppose one could call me a real news and political junkie. But on the days I work I have little time for much more than eating, sleeping and working. As any nurse who works 12 hour shifts can tell you, that's just the way it works. Because I work nights I prefer to do all my shifts in a row as it makes it easier for my sleeping schedule. So on the nights I work I catch a bit of news here and there, but usually not much more than half an hour or so before I eat dinner and get around for work. So it was quite a shock when I got up Wednesday afternoon to find that 80% of New Orleans was under water. As I watched the news and found out the levees had not held, that the Mayor of New Orleans was saying it was likely that thousands of people would die, I just kept thinking what? On top of the images of devastation that were projected into my living room where also images of people happily looting whatever wasn't nailed down.

One image regarding the looting remains with me. Two black men walking away with clothes, one also carrying along with the clothes what appeared to me to be a DVD player. A burly black policeman pointed a shotgun at the two of them yelling "put it down" the two men did so, pitching what they had into the knee deep water all were wading through, but what really struck me was the attitude of the two looters. They seemed entirely unconcerned that theyhad a shotgun that I presume was loaded, pointed at them. They grinned and goofed as they threw down the items in their arms and wandered away from the police officer, still laughing and grinning as if they were out for a party.

As I watched my little bit of half hour news that day, I ,like most of the world it appears, could not help but notice that the vast majority of people left in New Orleans were black. Too poor one imagines to easily get out of New Orleans. Does it stand to reason than that the looters are simply a black poor underclass that by and large are taking advantage of a time to get what they don't have? Not to my mind.

It is quite true that the majority left in New Orleans are black and poor, it is also quite true that the majority are not looters, nor are the majority those that have shot at rescue helicopters or personnel, nor are a majority those who have attacked police officers or people who did have vehicles but still opted to stay who were now trying to get out and were carjacked.

So just who are these people who are not simply taking the necessities of life? I begrude no one for taking food and water, in the same circumstances I could imagine myself taking food and water from a store in order to ensure my children's survival. However, that is not what was taking place in New Orleans. What instead took place was a criminal class of people who were taking advantage of a situation to mass prey on the same people they have preyed on for years. The black poor underclass. This criminal element is not only stealing whatever is not nailed down, they are killing those who are trying to survive to get whatever they can from them, they are raping little girls, they are shooting at the very people who are trying to help. It is these people who have made a horrid situation into the unbearable and untenable thing it is now.

The political left of the American spectrum are busy blaming the Bush Administration for the hurricane to begin with. They screech that by not signing the Kyoto Agreement and acknowledging that global warming is a fact, the hurricane itself is the fault of the current adminstration in Washington. It is also the Bush Adminstrations fault that the levees did not hold, it is also their fault that National guard troops were not there even before the levees broke, because you know all the National guard are in Iraq. Facts don't seem to get in the way of the American left, since a quick look at hurricanes previous to Katrina would show catagory 4 and 5 hurricanes were more prevalent in the 1930's and 1960's than today. It would also show that the decision regarding the levees predate the Bush Adminstration quite a bit, not to mention that this country functions under Federalism which means the state has responsibility for certain things prior to the Federal Government. Thats a simplification I realize, but nonetheless Louisiana itself had responsiblity for much before the Federal government did. And lastly the fact that 75% of the National Guard remain in the United States certainly doesn't seem to get in the way of the left yelling about Iraq, thereby blaming the Iraq war for the response of the government.

Let's get down to some brass tacks shall we?

To me the reality is this. An act of nature took place. A storm the size of Katrina may be rare but it is not unpreceded, again look at the statistics regarding this. Levees failed, not completely unanticipated given a storm of the size of Katrina. It seems people who deal with this kind of thing, as well as those who lived in New Orleans were well aware it would happen if a storm the size of Katrina made it to New Orleans, however there seems to have been a thought process that the city could make it on a wing and a prayer, in other words, wishful thinking that it would never really happen. A bit like the young man who goes out drunk driving under the belief that bad things only happen to other people, but not to me. So that young man goes out driving drunk and wonders how he managed to kill someone. So what no one seems to have wanted to acknowledge could ever really happen did.

48 hours before the storm a mandatory evacuation order was sent out, but some people did not evacuate. The majority because they had very little means to do so, some because they opted to stay for a variety of reasons. The storm went through, and it appeared the levees held. As the world now knows they didn't. Which takes us to the violence and anarchy that followed.

So here are some things that the political left, as they attempt to use this disaster to their political ends, won't say. And which have more bearing on the outcome of this disaster then not signing the Kyoto agreement or where National Guards troops are ever did or will.

Much previous to Katrina showing up on the shores of Louisina, that state has struggled consistantly with political corruption that is not a new problem for that state. The FBI has a New Orleans Crime Commission. Here are a few remarks made in March 2004 by Lou Reigel, special agent in charge of that Commission.

While terrorism is our top priority and has redefined our mission, the FBI's criminal responsibilities remain an important part of the work we do, and public corruption remains the number one criminal program in the FBI. It is certainly the number one criminal program in the NO office. It is said that money is the root of all evil. While I don't know if that's true, it is at the root of most public corruption – whether legislative, regulatory, judicial or law enforcement.
There is good reason for it being at the top of our list of criminal priorities, and the reason is this: like you, we in the FBI believe that public corruption is among the most serious of criminal violations. It is a betrayal of the public's sacred trust. If allowed to grow, public corruption permeates all aspects of society and affects all other criminal priorities. And if allowed to spread unchecked, public corruption can threaten the very foundation of democracy.
Theodore Roosevelt said, "No man who is corrupt, no man who condones corruption in others, can possibly do his duty by the community." Here Roosevelt identified a truth at the heart of why public corruption is a serious threat to the fabric of our society. Corrupt public officials are inherently compromised, and that corrupt behavior can migrate into every facet of our society. Regardless of their talents and their accomplishments, corrupt officials break down the order, confidence and trust of society. They allow illicit drugs and weapons to flow freely; organized crime to operate with impunity; and open the door for terrorists who threaten our way of life.
To address the PC program in Louisiana, the New Orleans office has two PC squads and my intention is to place a PC squad in the Baton Rouge Resident Agency this summer. The New Orleans office has several ongoing investigations and historically has made significant inroads into the public corruption area. Last year, as the 19th in size of our 56 field offices, the FBI in Louisiana was 10th in public corruption indictments with 24, and number 6 in public corruption convictions. Public corruption in Louisiana has been described to me as epidemic, endemic, and entrenched. No branch of government is exempt. Public corruption investigations are among the most complicated, often requiring years of effort to make a case. That is why working with our partners in law enforcement and civic organizations, like the Metropolitan Crime Commission, is essential for the successful prosecution of significant cases. Joint investigations with federal, state, and local law enforcement counterparts are conducted whenever possible. Investigations involving public officials must be coordinated in order to ensure that we are able to address sophisticated conspiracies using the best investigative techniques.

To stress-Public Corruption allows and in fact, encourages criminal elements in society to thrive, and this is exactly what occurred in New Orleans, to the end of the spectacule that we have witnessed in Katrina's aftermath.

A great many people left in New Orleans then were criminal elements that have thrived in the climate of corruption that premeates the political system of the city as well as a great many poor who rely on the government to take care of them on a good day. Katrina did not turn innocent desperate citizens into criminals, nor did society at large simply neglect those poor who remained in the city.

Unlike the majority of big cities, New Orleans has a murder rate that is going up, despite some progress made in the mid 90's. New Orleans has been called the murder capital of America much previous to Katrina. Failure to put criminals behind bars has led to the wanton looting as well as murder following Katrina's landfall.

Combine this then, with the mindset of socialism that has breed a poor underclass that seems intractable. That mindset, which a large portion of black Americans have taken as gosbel, assisted in the horror we are now witnessing in New Orleans. Blacks are not the only group in America that has fallen for what America's socialists pass out as placebos. They are the group however that perhaps has been affected by it the worst. There is a cultural mileu within the black underclass that escrews education as a way to get ahead in society, that winks and nods at criminal activity as a right of the have nots against those of the haves. The problem with that however, is the criminal element does not most often prey on the middle class, they prey instead of the culture that enables them. To speak outloud the social ills of the black underclass in this country means I run the risk of being labeled a racist, however I believe that speaking out about this is so important I am willing to run that risk.

One cannot get out of poverty by having children with no expectation that the father of that child will be in the childs life. By 1990 64% of black children were born to unmarried mothers. One can argue the causes, however it should be clear that irregardless of what particular cause one may argue, out of wedlock births have become a cultural norm in this particular section of America. The statistics on the jail rate for black America should be just as shocking. By mid year 2004 there were 4,919 black male prison and jail inmates per 100,000 black males in the United States, compared to 1,717 hispanic male inmates per 100,000 hispanic male Americans, and 717 white male inmates per 100,000 white male Americans.

The tempation to simply lay these statistics down to subtle and "institutional" racism on the part of the white America is simply too great for both many in the black community as well as white socialists also known as the American Left. Unwilling and therefore unable, to tackle the cultural mileu that has led to the social problems of the black underclass those ills are blamed on racism, on lack of money because of racism, on subtle race based hiring practices etc... I do not deny that racism exists, because of course it does. I do deny however, that racism is the dominant issue here. The dominant issue here is a cultural mileu that has come to encourage out of wedlock births as well as criminal activity that in the end preys on those that have the most to lose from it. What is lacking here is not a social net, as hole filled as it is. What is lacking is a sense of personal responsibility for ones life. And that is where the failings of socialism comes into play.

It matters not what tools are provided whether it comes from the state or private charity, if those tools are not used to build a life that is tenable. To utilize those tools one must be willing to take some sort of personal responsiblity, but America's left is not too big on personal responsiblity, instead they take it as a given from the very ideology that socialism is built on that the state is itself responsible for it's citizens, with little to no responsiblity being placed with the individual or even within a culture/society as a whole.

So in New Orleans we have witnessed the converging of political corruption that has enabled and encouraged a criminal class to flourish, a black underclass that has been most often preyed on by the criminal class as well as a cultural mileu that allows and encourages behavior that nearly guarantees perpetual poverty.

From a Detroit Free Press article August 22, just days before Hurricane Katrina.
Corruption has also hampered severely New Orleans ability to turn out jobs. Taken from commentary in a Louisiana publication written 8/16/05, again just shortly before Hurricane Katrina.

Only one in four people arrested in the city for murder is eventually convicted, according to a recent study by the New Orleans Police Foundation, a private nonprofit group. According to the study, 42% of serious crime cases reviewed by prosecutors -- about 22,000 -- were turned away between 2002 and 2004 because the cases weren't deemed suitable for court.
District Attorney Eddie Jordan said the lack of eyewitness testimony was one reason for the dropped cases. New Orleans has had such a problem with retaliation against witnesses -- including murder -- that the district attorney's office took the unusual step of starting a local witness protection program.
Witnesses may also be reluctant to talk to police because of allegations of police brutality and corruption.

From commentary in a Louisiana Publication, written 8/16/05 again just before Hurricane Katrina.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco will lead a trade mission next month to the Pacific Rim countries of Japan, China and South Korea. Meanwhile, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Congressman William Jefferson returned over the weekend from a one-week trade trip to Brazil with local business leaders, as well as federal, state and city officials. Louisiana ranks seventh among U.S. states exporting goods to Brazil, says Jefferson, who led a similar mission there in 2002. New trade opportunities cannot come soon enough for jobs-starved Louisiana. "We are continuing to capitalize on New Orleans' natural strengths by expanding into international markets," Nagin said just before leaving for Brazil on Aug. 6.
Unfortunately, Louisiana's notorious "weakness" in the economic development arena -- a decades-old reputation for widespread public corruption -- continues to undercut our efforts in competitive markets. Recent federal corruption investigations only reinforce that image.
Congressman Jefferson, for example, now finds himself at the center of the most sensational federal probe of a Louisiana official since former Gov. Edwin Edwards was convicted of corruption charges in 2000. Days before Jefferson left for Brazil, FBI agents in New Orleans and Washington executed search warrants on his vehicle, residences and offices. The focus of the investigation is not yet clear. Jefferson is entitled to the presumption of innocence and his day in court, if it comes to that.
The Jefferson raids coincide with, but are apparently unrelated to, the recent federal corruption conviction of the congressman's brother-in-law, Judge Alan Green of Jefferson Parish. Green's conviction capped a six-year federal investigation of the parish courthouse that sent others to prison, including former Judge Ronald Bodenheimer.
In New Orleans, ongoing federal investigations of city government have shone a spotlight on family members and associates of former Mayor Marc Morial. Morial's uncle Glenn Haydel, a former manager of the Regional Transit Authority, is accused of diverting $550,000 in RTA funds into his personal accounts. Haydel denies any wrongdoing.
In another federal case, 10 people have been charged in an alleged scheme to skim hundreds of thousands of dollars from an $81 million energy management contract that Morial signed with Johnson Controls of Milwaukee while in office. Among the indicted are Morial associates Stan "Pampy" Barre, a restaurateur, and Kerry DeCay, who served as Morial's property management director.
As of this writing, the feds have taken no action against Morial's brother, Jacques Morial, since crashing through his front door with a battering ram more than a year ago. Jacques Morial, who assumed the chair of the LIFE political organization from his brother late last year, has not been accused of any wrongdoing. The former mayor, now national president of the National Urban League, has declined comment on the ongoing investigations, which also include the Orleans Parish School Board and Traffic Court.
Local U.S. Attorney Jim Letten says the investigations are far from over. And New Orleans is not alone. U.S. Attorney David Dugas of Baton Rouge says a probe of corruption in Livingston Parish has led to the federal prosecution of the parish president and a guilty plea by a parish councilman.
In an apparently unrelated case, both Dugas and Letten are prosecuting media consultant Ray Reggie on bank fraud charges. Reggie reportedly is cooperating with federal investigators in a political corruption probe of top Democratic Party officials.
The FBI says Louisiana last year ranked third in the nation in public corruption cases. Since the FBI sent in extra agents last October, Louisiana is one of only five FBI jurisdictions with two public corruption squads. The feds also hope to establish a presence in North Louisiana in the future. Visit the "inmate locater" link of the federal Bureau of Prisons Web site (, and you can find former Louisiana officials dating to 1982 -- blacks and whites, Republicans and Democrats, from across the state.
All of these developments -- old as well as recent -- give our state the image of a Third World country where bribes and kickbacks grease the wheels of government for a select few. It's not just an image problem; it is rooted in reality. Louisiana traditionally ranks among the most corrupt states in the nation, according to a 2004 report by the Corporate Crime Reporter for the National Press Club.
Our dubious reputation extends overseas, too. For example, the Japanese relocated much of their business from New Orleans to Houston long ago, citing Louisiana corruption as a factor, according to Benjamin Wren, a professor of Japanese history at Loyola University.
Cleaning up our image starts with cleaning up our act. It's encouraging that the feds are leading the charge on that front. But the truth is Louisiana must pull itself up by its own bootstraps -- and be squeaky clean for at least 10 years -- to change its image. We can start by recognizing that our image of corruption costs us jobs. If we don't change things, we will continue to get what we deserve -- corruption, cronyism and a lousy economy.

So while the socialists of America are busy blaming the human tragedy and crisis in New Orleans on globla warming, federal cuts of funding for the levees, the war in Iraq and whatever other sundry issues dear to their hearts, I think it would behoove classic liberalists to take the offensive and point out what created the criminal class that not only looted stores and robbed fellow citizens, but actively interferred with rescue efforts as well as what has in large part supported the black underclass that got the brunt of it all.

This was a tragedy years in the making. One cannot completely dismiss the thinking that allowed the levees to be overwhelmed, but I do think it is a terrible mistake to believe that the rescue efforts were slow in coming. I say that because a dear friend of mine made a trip to Tampa Florida over the weekend in order to get her son who needed her assistance, totally unrelated to the Hurricane, and reported that both on the way to Florida and on the way back she saw rescue vehicles and crews on the highway at nearly every step of the trip. Rescue efforts were hampered by the failure of the levees as well as the behavior many who were stranded. And it is a mistake to lay it all on the door of the Bush Administration.

Though perhaps I should not expect less from people who seem to be much more focused on their own politics than they are on what is needed in the here and now to assist people who are in a situation that can hardly be properly described by words. If we are to properly analyze what went wrong to hopefully ensure it doesn't again as much as humanly possible, than we must not allow only the American Socialists to set the agenda.



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