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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

 

Duncewatch I

First in an occasional series, tracking those whose comments on the Katrina tragedy and its aftermath have been remarkably lacking in frontal lobe muscle, and, to continue the John Kennedy Toole theme, entitled Duncewatch.

This one goes out to all those people (like Azael in the comments to this post over on protein wisdom - BTW "Azael"? I wonder if he meant Azrael? Azazel?) who argued that the Wicked Dubya is solely to blame for the chaos in New Orleans because he didn't send in troops to maintain order immediately, without waiting for the consent of the governor of the state.

(To an intelligent layman from some faraway country this might seem like a very good thing for Dubya to have done; cut out the bureaucracy and take decisive action, instead of idling strumming a guitar out in California (Hah! He's so DUMB) but in fact there are some very, very serious laws (try a search for "Posse Comitatus Act") about when the US federal government can use troops to carry out governmental functions within the US without the consent of the governor of the state wherein said troops shall be deployed: basically, never; it amounts to declaring that a condition of insurrection exists, which is not an exactly tactful thing to do in a principal city of the former Confederacy...)

Therefore, to criticise the Wicked Dubya for not acting until he got the go-ahead from the governor of Louisiana (who took her time in requesting federal assistance, for reasons that may, or may not, become clear in the fullness of time), is to propose the following legal theory:

That a person duly constituted to exercise authority over the military [1] may disregard the written laws and constitution of the polity and deploy the military to prevent an emergency[2] perceived by [1] even absent the support, and indeed even overriding the vigorous opposition of the appropriate duly constituted supreme political authority[3].

I think that's a fair summary of the legal doctrine that would have allowed GWB [1], to deploy the military to prevent riots, rapes and murders in New Orleans [2], without the consent and despite the objections of the governor of Louisiana [3].

Now, my question to anyone who thinks the above is exactly what GWB should have done is this:

If you substitute General Pinochet for [1], prevent fall of Chile to totalitarian communist tyranny for [2], and Salvador Allende for [3], you have an accurate portrayal of the Chilean coup of 1974: General Pinochet, a duly constituted senior officer of the Chilean army, decided that he was going to prevent the emergency he perceived of an impending communist takeover of Chile, by overriding the duly constituted supreme political authority of Chile, Salvador Allende.

All you liberal, progressive folks who think GWB should have overriden the state governor and damn the consequences: be careful what you wish for.

(As for Azael: anyone who can read the phrase "also sprach Azael" and reply with "loved the Wagner bit" shouldn't be bloviating on public policy; if you use Wagner when you should have used Nietzsche, you might want to check exactly what you are using for Shinola.)


Disclaimers.

I love the music of Wagner. The ideas of Wagner not even a mother could love.

Allende was elected president of Chile under the then constitution despite the fact that he never won a majority of the popular vote; in fact something like sixty per cent of the voters in that election voted against his policies. Shit happens, and mature adults deal with it and do not, for example, start comparing the shit unfavorably to Adolf Hitler. (I believe the last British prime minister whose party received a majority of the popular vote was Sir Winston Churchill in the 1950s; certainly Blair (and Thatcher) never had popular majorities).

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