I am listening to former Governor Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana still blaming the federal government for the problems of organization with Hurricane Katrina. Incredible. As the state's chief executive, I would have thought she'd know the roles of federal and state governments. It was clearly federal law that the first and major part of the responsibility of disaster relief lays with the local and state government.
After Hurricane Katrina, questions were raised as to the President's legal authority, for example, to send in the military to protect life and property in a disaster area. "The Stafford Act authorizes the use of the military for disaster relief operations at the request of the state functions, which is ordinarily prohibited by the Posse Comitatus Act. However, the President may invoke other authorities to use federal troops to aid in the execution of the law, including the Insurrection Act, as amended and renamed by P.L. 109-364. (S.513/H.R.869).
"The Insurrection Act has been used to send the armed forces to quell civil disturbances a number of times during U.S. history, most recently during the 1992 Los Angeles riots and during Hurricane Hugo in 1989, during which widespread looting was reported in St. Croix, Virgin Islands. If the President decides to respond to such a situation, generally upon the recommendation of the Attorney General and, if necessary, the request of the governor, he must first issue a proclamation ordering the insurgents to disperse within a limited time, 10 U.S.C.& 334. If the situation does not resolve itself, the President may issue an executive order to send in troops."
"The 109th Congress included in the Defense Authorization bill for FY2007 (P.L. 109-364) a provision that retitled chapter 15 of title 10 from "Insurrection" to "Enforcement of the Laws to Restore Public Order," which now covers domestic violence due to natural disasters, epidemics, terrorist attacks, etc. The President can now restore order and enforce laws without a request from a governor or legislature of a state.
So, there's that. This time around, with the leadership of a very competent executive, the state of Louisiana is in as good of shape as possible going into this natural disaster event. Governor Bobby Jindal, another young, fresh conservative leader now in office, is doing a fine job coordinating preparations at all levels. Even Mayor Ray Naguin is cooperating this time.
John McCain, Cindy McCain and Governor Palin went to a briefing today with Governor Barbour in Jackson, Mississippi. They were not in the path of the storm and they were not in the way of preparations underway. That was the point of this meeting. They didn't go to New Orleans to follow around Governor Jindal. They went in the region without causing a ruckus.
President Bush will travel to Texas. He will be monitoring the storm from Austin with Governor Perry and then to San Antonio to monitor emergency supplies and aide departing for Louisiana. He will not be in the way, either. Last time, as he tried to not assert himself in the middle of Hurricane Katrina by flying over the storm, he was criticized and set off the whole 'it's all Bush's fault' and fools like Kenye West saying 'Bush hates black people.' Granted the flyover wasn't the best of publicity for him but the principle of getting out of the way for the professionals on the ground to do their jobs for those needing help was essential.
Today, Senator McCain said we must take off our Republican hats and put on our American hats. The time to act is now. He has suspended Republican Convention activities and only the barest of legalities will be conducted tomorrow for about two hours in the afternoon. The convention will proceed on a day to day basis. McCain calls for all who can to raise money for Gulf state charities to help with needs after the storm.
Obama and Biden, while carrying on with their arrogant message that "John McCain just doesn't get it" when it comes to the needs of ordinary people while issuing standard boilerplate statements like the campaign is monitoring the events and they will raise money for the victims, etc, his campaign stumps continue. He'll not visit the region until well after the event, he said. He's bashing McCain and Palin in Ohio and Michigan today. He has spoken to Governor Jindal and Mayor Naguin as well as Secretary Chertoff.
John McCain is a proven leader with a strong message of serving a purpose greater than your own self interests. This is the second opportunity to draw a contrast of leadership styles in the two candidates. First, with the invasion of Georgia by Russia, and McCain issued a firm statement with a clear message. He was proven completely correct in his judgement. Cindy McCain went to Georgia last week to be briefed on the conditions on the ground and visited towns and locals there to hear their stories. She is known for her commitment to this kind of compassionate travel. Now this. McCain put aside his own big moment and issued a call of action. I have no doubt that Cindy McCain is putting together teams of volunteers to go in after the storm. The campaign has arranged a charter plane to take delegates back home if they need to put affairs in order for their families.
The Republican governors of the Gulf states will serve their states well in this time of uncertainty.