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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Things that make you go Hmmmm...

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina President Bush and his administration (rather than the Federal Government writ large) were accused of not responding in a timely manner to the pending catastrophe. Many calories were burned trying to determine if Bush was incompetent, evil, or both. Yet, when one thinks about things a little more objectively, it is probably understandable that the Federal response to a disaster would be relatively slow, given that the state and local governments would have jurisdictional upper hands.

Now comes word that if a nuclear bomb goes off in the United States that local and state officials might need to take matters in their own hands for up to 72 hours:
The White House has warned state and local governments not to expect a "significant federal response" at the scene of a terrorist nuclear attack for 24 to 72 hours after the blast, according to a planning guide.
Of course, this is likely to be the case - even more so in the aftermath of a nuclear attack during which the federal government will be looking outwards to stave off more attacks (something the states do not have the legal authority to do).

What I find most interesting is that the media reports that discuss the 72 hour waiting period (such as this one) don't even mention Katrina and how the previous government was excoriated for their lack of response when it was likely just as plainly made clear to local/state officials that the federal response would be a few days in the coming.

The hypocrisy and pure political machinations within the popular press have become so obvious over the past eighteen to twenty months that it has become rather disheartening.

I have no great love for one side of the political game or the other, although my natural/academic tendencies would pull me away from statist agendas, but I thought the media held themselves to some higher standard (if they aren't going to do so, I have no problem with that, just let everybody know in advance - as they do on Fox and MSNBC).

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Why would one, whether a journalist or a blogger, even make a comparison between a hurricane and a nuclear attack? With a hurricane, you have lead time to prepare for a reaction. The parties that be (fed, state, or local) can be on alert and be ready to respond. Obviously, the same cannot be said for a nuclear attack. It seems awfully silly to equate the two in terms of the expected reaction time.
My point is that I bet there was a similar warning to states about hurricane response times and when the govt lived up (or down) to their forecasted response time the outrage was, in my opinion, a bit misdirected (although not totally!!). I think three days after a hurricane is actually a bit more acceptable than three days after a nuclear attack. Hopefully we will never have to *actually* make a comparison.

My understanding of how local govts plan for contingencies is that the plans are fairly stark and realistic about what can and cannot be done, with lots of triage and prioritizing that does not necessarily square with what the public and critics desire.
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