"There's plenty wrong with America, since you asked. (Everybody's asking.) I'm tempted to say, the only difference from Canada, is that they have a few things right. That would be unfair, of course -- I am often pleased to discover things we still get right.
But one of them would not be disaster preparation. If something happened up here, on the scale of Katrina, we wouldn't even have the resources to arrive late. We would be waiting for the Americans to come save us, the same way the government in Louisiana just waved and pointed at Washington, D.C. The theory being, that when you're in real trouble, that's where the adults live.
And that isn't an exaggeration. Almost everything that has worked in the recovery operation along the U.S. Gulf Coast has been military and National Guard. Within a few days, under several commands, finally consolidated under the remarkable Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, it was once again the U.S. military, efficiently cobbling together a recovery operation on a scale beyond the capacity of any other earthly institution.
We hardly have a military up here. We have elected one feckless government after another, who have cut corners until there is nothing substantial left. We don't have the ability even to transport and equip our few soldiers. Should disaster strike at home, on a big scale, we become a Third World country. At which point, our national smugness is of no avail.
From Democrats and the American Left -- the U.S. equivalent to the people who run Canada -- we are still hearing that the disaster in New Orleans showed a heartless, white Republican America had abandoned its underclass.
This is garbage. The great majority of those not evacuated lived in assisted housing, receive food stamps and prescription medicine and government support through many other programmes. Many have, all their lives, expected someone to lift them to safety, sans input from themselves. And the demagogic mayor they elected left, quite literally, hundreds of transit and school buses parked in rows to be lost in the flood, that could have driven them out of town.
Yes, that was insensitive. But it is also the truth; and sooner or later we must acknowledge that welfare dependency creates exactly the sort of haplessness and social degeneration we saw on display, as the floodwaters rose. Many suffered terribly, and many died, and one's heart goes out. But already the survivors are being put up in new accommodations, and their various entitlements have been directed to new locations.
The scale of private charity has also been unprecedented. There are yet no statistics, but I'll wager the most generous state in the union will prove to have been arch-Republican Texas, and that nationally, contributions in cash and kind are coming disproportionately from people who vote Republican. For the world divides into "the mouths" and "the wallets".
The Bush-bashing, both down there and up here, has so far lost touch with reality, as to raise questions about the bashers' state of mind.
Consult any authoritative source on how government works in the United States, and you will learn that the U.S. federal government's legal, constitutional, and institutional responsibility for first response to Katrina, as to any natural disaster, was zero.
Notwithstanding, President Bush took the prescient step of declaring a disaster, in order to begin deploying FEMA and other federal assets, two full days in advance of the stormfall. In the little time since, he has managed to coordinate an immense recovery operation -- the largest in human history -- without invoking martial powers. He has been sufficiently Presidential to respond, not even once, to the extraordinarily mendacious and childish blame-throwing.
One thinks of Kipling's "If --" poem, which I learned to recite as a lad, and mention now in the full knowledge that it drives postmodern leftoids and gliberals to apoplexy -- as anything that is good, beautiful, or true:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise...
Unlike his critics, Bush is a man, in the full sense presented by these verses. A fallible man, like all the rest, but a man."