Friday, September 09, 2005

Where No Man's Land stands

Clearly, I've picked my own nickname. No Man's Land is the winner, and I'll be giving to the charity of my choice. Probably ACORN, whose headquarters got destroyed. It's a shame, because a remarkable poor city (low median income) is just where a group dedicated to improving the lot of low income people is needed. They're getting themselves back together to help the people that they always help, and I'll endorse them.

Anyway, the feds are out seizing guns and sending people out of the city. I don't quite know what to think of that. At this point, how critical is it that every loose screw is shipped out of the city? Maybe critical, maybe it doesn't matter. I think people should be strongly encouraged, but make it clear that they're on their own if they choose to stay, and make regular passes to extract people who change their minds.

As for the guns, who knows. If people are going to stay, and they're on their own, they probably need some way to protect themselves. But the last thing anyone needs is nutjobs running around doing the Rambo thing. If they're leaving, it's important that they not leave an arsenal behind for someone else to raid. This is where my general support for gun rights runs into very practical concerns. Sometimes you just have to hope that the people on scene know what they're doing. I'm going to say that I lean strongly against seizing guns within clear cause.

It's also worth noting that early reports of gunfire directed at helicopters seems to have been either a fabrication or at least overblown. The FAA had no reports of gunfire at aircraft, and no pilots have come forward either, at least to my knowledge.

In other news, the government is very heavily armed, and has even brought in the mercenaries from Blackwater to do whatever it is they do. People, including reporters, aid workers and refugees, all report having government guns aimed at them. Reporters also report having their cameras and memory cards taken from them by the armed government personnel.

There are persistent rumors in the Superdome and the Convention Center that the monied interests blew up the levees. I put zero credibility on that claim, I merely report it so you'll know what people have to deal with on both sides. It's easier to blame a shadowy conspiracy than a freak natural occurrence (a problem in explaining evolution also). The people in the shelters are cooped up in horrid conditions, and their major source of news is rumor. That's a bad way to deal with anything, especially in a very tense situation. This story will be tough to uproot, especially if there isn't a serious and credible accounting of exactly what happened. A one-sided investigation in Congress simply will not assuage people's fears or extinguish dangerous rumors.

On the other side, the government presence in No Man's Land is hampered by this misinformation and fear. People will be less willing to flee their homes or to set aside their guns, let alone give them up, if these sorts of rumors persist.

The same is true of the claims about radio jamming in No Man's Land. Wayne Madsen sure sounds like a kook, but without data, it's impossible to dismiss these claims outright.

My initial inchoate rage has cooled down to a tempered and sharpened insistence that answers be provided.

A commission is one part of that process. A better picture of the structure of the reconstruction and relief project would help, too. Hold open bidding for as many parts of the reconstruction as possible given the time-critical nature of the situation. Don't give sweetheart deals to Halliburton. Seriously. That's very bad. Clear the rubble, pump out the water, and let the local elected officials work with the community to decide how to rebuild. The rumors in the community are that this is a big opportunity for the well-heeled to turn New Orleans into Las Vegas. Prove them wrong. I know they are wrong, but give me something to work with.

I'm sure the Bush/Cheney gang is capable of operating without engaging in crony capitalism. It'll just take some effort.

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