Wednesday, November 10, 2010

American Splendor


So let me see if I've got this right: The entire city of New Orleans drowns and the government of the United States of America is completely stymied in its efforts to get help to it (and the people who are dying within it).

A cruise ship with a bunch of tourists on it gets stuck off the West Coast and -- and you have to say this slowly for the full effect -- THE U.S.S. RONALD REAGAN comes to the rescue and airlifts in supplies within 24 hours.

New Orleans: Fucked.

The Carnival Splendor: AN AIRCRAFT CARRIER.

USA Today: USS Ronald Reagan Sails To Aid of Stranded Carnival Splendor/11.9.10

10 comments:

afalker said...

It's because Barack Obama likes white people.

Dur.

Dan said...

In Carnival's defense, there probably weren't nearly as many fancy fruit carvings in New Orleans.

And from what I understand, USS-RR brought SPAM and Pop-Tarts. No flooding, drowning, damaged roads, prople on rooftops, etc. so transportation was probably way easier.

BenoƮt from Ottawa said...

Pipe down, kanyafalker!

kanye said...

Maybe, as kind of a good will gesture, you could dedicate a "Listening Post" to the good people stuck out on that cruise ship. Perhaps something like this.

Jester said...

I get your outrage, but it's unfounded. Reagan was already in the area, already on training maneuvers, only about four hours sailing away. Why not respond? There are frequent fast-moving storms through that area this time of year, and if there's further problems, Reagan can evacuate the ship.

In the meantime, their helo and other air crews get additional training, much of the fuel for which is paid for by Carnival instead of the U.S. taxpayer. Ditto the supplies: also paid for by Carnival, and not exactly luxury provisions. Crackers, bottled water, and spam, mostly, served on paper plates (since the ship can't run its dishwashers).

God forbid the ship gets a list or gets knocked around by a storm because it can't maneuver, and Reagan ISN'T there to assist. It's kind of a damned if you do, damned if you don't kind of situation then...

Chez said...

Actually, Jester, it's kind of mock outrage. I see nothing wrong with dispatching a ship to help a bunch of people stranded at sea. It just sort of really stands out when juxtaposed with the response to Katrina -- which admittedly wasn't as simple as just steering a ship toward a single target, but, come on...

Eric said...

Well, see, now I just have to get self-righteously political, now. See, a conservative government believes in a minimalist government that, at it's very sleekest, only exists to settle civil disputes between parties; ergo, FEMA would be bloated, wasteful, and an improper use of governmental authority even if it consisted of one guy in a dank basement sending out homemade care packages (one pack of moist towelettes, a pack of peanut butter crackers, a juice box, one of those little "First Aid" kits consisting of little more than a band-aid and envelope of off-brand Neosporin knockoff, and a small piece of construction paper with a Sharpie-handwritten note: "SORRY!!! :( "). Besides which, FEMA was not mentioned by the Founding Fathers (salute!) while the Constitution lays out a scheme in which individual states are responsible for their own citizens.

On the other hand, a liberal (such as myself) believes in a nice, comfy, big-enough government in which well-funded civil authorities are prepared to respond to crises ranging from the picayune to the epic, and are in a position to rapidly deploy whatever resources are needed--civilian or military--to wherever they're needed. Of course, citizens might have to pay some taxes and even suffer tax hikes to have a functional government, but that's one of the several prices of citizenship in a great country.

All of which is to say that I have no idea how Obama would respond to Katrina redux should it ever happen, but I know how a liberal would respond, and also that George Bush may be a perfectly nice guy who would have been an okay Commissioner Of Baseball or something, but combining the ideology Bush and his closest advisors claim to hold with Bush's lack of aptitude for the Presidency pretty much guaranteed that any natural disaster on his watch would have been a disaster, whether we're talking something like Katrina or if it had been anything, anywhere else. (And while Bush's policies across the board may not have been good for the poor or minorities at all, let's be honest: is there any reason to think that if some vast catastrophe left thousands of rich white people homeless and/or dying, Bush's incompetent disaster-management team would have been any better-poised to do a damn thing except send ridiculous e-mails and twitch? Ironically, I think Kanye West's post-Katrina comments, while possessing some truth, also gave the Bush administration too much credit. Do ya think they were sending soldiers into battle with inadequate materiel because they hate the military? No, it's because they're jackasses. Ditto, Katrina: one of the sorriest parts of the debacle is that the Administration probably was doing its very, very best. Heckuva job, Brownie.)

Sorry. End rant. Please forgive.

Eric said...

After posting, I realize that maybe what Obama would do in a Katrinaesque crisis might be hinted at by the handling of the Gulf oil spill....

...

...

'Kay, well... maybe we're all fucked after all.

Jester said...

Who was it that said that GWB wanted to be President so he could use it as a stepping stone to the job he really wanted: Commissioner of Baseball? I remember that bit of wit being knocked around (forgive the pun) during the 2000 campaign.

And even mock outrage about this is kind of funny because any expat will tell you that the U.S. normally absolutely sucks sucks sucks at looking after and/or rescuing American citizens trapped in disasters not of their own making overseas. And this is regardless of who is in power. If you can rouse the Navy/Marines into activity, they absolutely excel at pulling U.S. citizens out of harm's way in disasters both natural and man-made. The trick is actually rousing them to activity, which the State Department never feels particularly inclined to do.

Bet you $5 that when this one is traced back to who ordered it, it will be some ambitious GenX/GenJones Rear/Vice Admiral in the Pentagon that looked at a map, saw the proximity between Reagan and Splendor, saw the opportunity to get some free training and maybe even score some points, and made the call without particularly feeling the need to ask anyone else about it.

This sort of thing is normally the Coast Guard's job, after all, and indeed there are also two USCG cutters in close formation with Splendor as well.

Anonymous said...

Late to the game but the Navy is completely limited to responding to crisis in main land US in regards to nuclear powered craft. I was attached to the USS Theodore Roosevelt. When 9/11 went down, we had just gotten back from a deployment and half the crew was away. Within 48 hours (which is insanely fast...and technically violating a lot of our normal operating procedures) we were launching planes to fly over NY city. That said, we weren't allowed to move the ship into the territorial waters of New York. Nuclear powered boats only have licenses to operate in a very few select states (hence we never got invited to fleet week). At best, the carrier fleet could airdrop supplies, which at first sounds like a good idea, would only lead to chaos and rioting. This is in no way supporting the complete cluster fuck that the federal government made the response into.

The US navy does a LOT of crisis response around the world. I know a couple of fellow nuke mechanics that dealing with the long term consequences of pulling bodies out of their equipment after the south Asian tidal wave when their carrier was coordinating search and rescue and relief efforts. In a lot of Eastern European countries in which the US military has a presence, they are the ONLY responders to many of the local disasters that don't make the US media market.