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The Hurricane proves several things: Nature is the biggest terrorist, the Bush Administration is incompetent, and the Louisiana government is corrupt. These are all coming to the forefront at the expense of the good people of New Orleans and Gulf region.

Some excellent discussions have taken place about the role of government, poverty, race, preparedness and so on. Newt Gingrich evoked the spirit of Alexander Hamilton who desired a "strong but spartanesque government." It sounds better than it would be in practice and, in this day and age, an impossible feat until you get money out of politics. That is not likely in the foreseeable decades ahead of us. You certainly don't want a big, bureaucratic government headed by someone who has immense, dictatorial power either. The best answer is in teaching the people how to do it themselves. At the cutting edge where the people can't do it and where problems still exist, then government should show up.

There is no such thing as perfection in the real world. The victims of 9/11 are served up as lessons to prevent the deed from happening again. The people of New Orleans and the Gulf will be the sacrificial lambs who offer up the lessons all cities and governments will have to learn in dealing with very large emergencies.

The key word that keeps coming back is Leadership. It is the quality that either forestalls disaster or knows how to handle one when it descends on the innocent. In the case of Iraq, leadership has made a bad situation worse. And in the Gulf it did not respond to a threat that was out there, to be seen, for days.

People predicted that one day New Orleans would drown. And they have predicted that my region, San Francisco, will be destroyed by an earthquake. Nature is an unrelenting terrorist. We see now why the earliest men and women were inhuman. Their model was nature herself; "red in tooth and claw," ready to devour the most sensitive soul at moment's notice.

Note:There is nothing more egregious to the civilized than floating, untended bodies. Nothing can be done for the floating dead but a kind of silent prayer that it was not us floating along the muddy waters of the Big Easy.

Corruption in government, local, state, or federal is nefarious because it leads to a complete inefficiency in the working of government. New Orleans and Louisiana have had reputations over the years as very corrupt but in a kind of quaint, southern way that is expected of gentlemen who visit good brothels and make deals at the horse track. Such a city is loved by novelists like Faulkner who go back home with a thousand stories on the fallen state of humanity. The people, then, must decide: Is this quaint corruption, this genteel corruption, worth the price? And if not, what can we do about it when the city is rebuilt? And it will be rebuilt just as San Francisco was after 1906 or Hiroshima after 1945. Human beings build equally well as they destroy. And when the heart is in it, the citizens behind it, money supporting it the building can be extremely impressive and pass in a blink of an eye.

But watch the money very closely.

September 29, 2005

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Post-election 2004

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On Political Culture

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War on Terrorism

The California Recall

The Progressive Era

What is a perfect President?

On Political Culture

On JFK Assassination

The Clinton Bubble

The state of things


Affirmative Action

Liberals and Nuders

The Trent Lott Affair

Why the Democrats are in Trouble

The Uncertain Decade

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