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September 03, 2005

(Slightly) Off-Topic

Although this blog is nominally focused on drug policy and related issues, the amazing events now taking place on national television deserve some notice-- especially when one factors in that an emphasis on "law and order" now seems the most important aspect of the (incredibly tardy) White House response. This was written before noon on Thursday and was also posted to a drug policy discussion forum:

We are now witnessing an historic melt-down of state and local government credibility in real time: Government failure, at all levels-- to plan adequately for, or deal effectively with, a type of disaster which has been warned against in the abstract for years-- and had been predicted in this instance for days-- can no longer be hidden from view. Every pathetic ad-hoc measure that's proposed-- only to fail-- (like transferring unwilling inmates from the Super Dome to the Astrodome while refugees already in Houston are being turned away) is merely the most visible. It's also just another example of the same mind-set which has given us wasteful and destructive "wars" on drugs and terror as substitutes for rational, evidence based policies.

Even as this is being written, Scott McClellan is (predictably) emphasizing that "lawlessness" by those who have been starving, suffering life threatening thirst, and marooned in a pestilential hell-hole for over three full days "will not be tolerated."

What's next; a "shoot on sight" policy towards looting? How will we ever know who died from Katrina and who were victims of official ineptitude?

Almost completely neglected: what will be the long term psychological effects of these horrific experiences on the survivors-- especially children?

Significantly, the personal anger and frustration of CNN reporters on the spot is being aired-- along with the anger and desperate plight of those still trapped in the city. Current 'policy' seems to be to allow chaos to prevail until "order" is somehow spontaneously restored. These issues are now being parsed in real time by an on-the-spot reporter and his anchor...

What will be most interesting over the next few months are the answers to four (closely related) additional questions:

1) to what extent will the credibility of the Bush Administration survive this fiasco?

2) To what extent will the US Economy be adversely affected?

3) To what extent will civil rights/liberties be restored after the 'emergency' is over?

4) Who will decide when the emergency actually !S over?

Tom O'Connell

Posted by tjeffo at September 3, 2005 05:25 AM