Peace Like A River

It was a wide river, mistakable for a lake or even an ocean unless you'd been wading and knew its current. Somehow I'd crossed it... Now I saw the stream regrouped below, flowing on through what might've been vineyards, pastures, orhards... It flowed between and alongside the rivers of people; from here it was no more than a silver wire winding toward the city. - Leif Enger, Peace Like A River

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Tending our own patch of ground

While on our trip over the Labor Day weekend, we stopped at a rest area for a break. The person who was apparently the attendant for the rest area was an older man, dressed in typical farmer clothes. Suspenders, cotton button-up shirt, and the ubiquitous ball cap, which is almost always branded with some feed, seed, or farm implement company.

He moved slowly, as the aging do. He walked with the backs of his palms outward, like a man trying to swim standing up, and he walked gingerly, as if walking across warm coals.

He was trimming some apple trees planted near the main building.

I'm sure most people whizzing by on the road had no idea this man was trimming trees, nor would they probably care very much. It was a small patch of ground, surely people in the next county over, or the next state over, had no idea this man existed, let alone that he was tending to his apple trees.

And yet, the man went about his work. He didn't stop working because people far away probably weren't interested in his labor. It wasn't a task that would bring him the adulation of kings. He was simply tending to the patch of ground for which he was responsible.

This really is a picture of our system of government. We push as many decisions as we can down to the level closest to where we live. Whether the municipal or county level, if necessary the state level. We reserve for the federal government the larger questions of defense, interstate commerce, relations with other nations, etc...

This is why the mendacity of some on the Left who say President Bush is responsible for all suffering in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is so frustrating.

There was, and is, a large role for local and state authorities to play in the relief efforts after the hurricane. These authorities had their own patch of ground to tend to, and it has become clear that some failed in those efforts.

The Radioblogger has the transcript of a Hugh Hewitt conversation with FOX reporter Major Garrett, who broke the story that the Red Cross was prevented from getting supplies to the people in need at the Superdome.

HH: You just broke a pretty big story. I was watching up on the corner television in my studio, and it's headlined that the Red Cross was blocked from delivering supplies to the Superdome, Major Garrett. Tell us what you found out.

MG: Well, the Red Cross, Hugh, had pre-positioned a literal vanguard of trucks with water, food, blankets and hygiene items. They're not really big into medical response items, but those are the three biggies that we saw people at the New Orleans Superdome, and the convention center, needing most accutely. And all of us in America, I think, reasonably asked ourselves, geez. You know, I watch hurricanes all the time. And I see correspondents standing among rubble and refugees and evacuaees. But I always either see that Red Cross or Salvation Army truck nearby. Why don't I see that?

HH: And the answer is?

MG: The answer is the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security, that is the state agency responsible for that state's homeland security, told the Red Cross explicitly, you cannot come.

HH: Now Major Garrett, on what day did they block the delivery? Do you know specifically?

MG: I am told by the Red Cross, immediately after the storm passed.

HH: Okay, so that would be on Monday afternoon.

MG: That would have been Monday or Tuesday. The exact time, the hour, I don't have. But clearly, they had an evacuee situation at the Superdome, and of course, people gravitated to the convention center on an ad hoc basis. They sort of invented that as another place to go, because they couldn't stand the conditions at the Superdome.

How is this a failure of the federal government? As Captain Ed has asked, how can the federal government be blamed for the City of New Orleans not following its own evacuation plan?

We have to be responsible for our own ground. We take care of our own. We don't push off our duties onto far-away people, and we don't blame them when we fall down in our duties.

Captain Ed also has some thoughts on this Red Cross story.
Betsy Newmark has some comments as well.


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