September 02, 2005

Odds and Ends

Three random thoughts on Katrina, none of which is really the main thing to be concerned about now:

1) Jonah Goldberg argues that the police should have just shot up a few looters in the first days of the flood, and that would have deterred anyone else from looting. Would it really? New Orleans is a big city. How is everybody supposed to "know" that there's a shoot-to-kill policy floating around out there? Would word of mouth spread that quickly? (And if potential looters did know that, it's still possible that an arms race would ensue.) Likewise, the Cornerites are big on having the governor denounce the looters in the strongest terms possible. Are there people sitting around New Orleans glued to their TV sets, waiting to be told not to loot? I don't really know the ins and outs of riot control, but this doesn't seem like the sort of thing you stop with strongly-worded messages from the governor and a few bullets.

2) It's becoming pretty clear that 9/11 was, as far as the federal government's image was concerned, a fairly "lucky" catastrophe, as perverse as that sounds. New York City's responder services were largely unaffected and able to do their thing, and no one in Washington had to mobilize troops to keep order in the city, or organize large rescue and evacuation missions, or figure out how to get people food and water, because it just wasn't that sort of disaster. But if 9/11 had been that sort of disaster, there would have been a lot more anger at what would have been an obviously unprepared federal government, and much less in the way of "national unity." (Plus, post 9/11, there was an obvious culprit and an obvious country to go bomb, which made rallying behind the president, and the military, that much easier.) No real point here, I guess, except that I would imagine the popular fallout from the next major terrorist attack, if it ever happens, will resemble the Katrina aftermath far more than 9/11. No "rally 'round the flag" and all that.

3) I, for one, can't wait until Congress gets back in session and starts debating the estate tax, Medicaid cuts, and taking the knife to heating assistance for the poor.
-- Brad Plumer 3:12 PM || ||