September 07, 2005


I'm not getting a warm fuzzy feeling about this.

New Orleans Mayor Orders Forced Evacuation

"As flood waters receded inch by inch Tuesday, New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin authorized law enforcement officers and the U.S. military to force the evacuation of all residents who refuse to heed orders to leave the dark, dangerous city."

I have serious misgivings about the idea of the government forcing someone from their home. That's not taking into account the method they will likely use. Government has two methods to act - force or threat of force. Neither one is appealing in this situation.

"Nagin's emergency declaration released late Tuesday targets those still in the city unless they have been designated by government officials as helping with the relief effort."

What's worse is government deciding who gets their permission to stay on their own property. In a city as corrupt as New Orleans I cannot see how this will turn out good.

"The move comes after some citizens bluntly told authorities who had come to deliver them from the flooded metropolis that they would not leave their homes and property. An estimated 10,000 residents are believed to still be in New Orleans, and some have been holed up in their homes for more than a week."

Damn straight. I hope I would have had the fortitude to tell the .gov crew to go straight to hell if I were in that situation.

"While acknowledging the emergency declaration, police Capt. Marlon Defillo said late Tuesday that forced removal of citizens had not yet begun. He said that officers who were visiting homes were still reminding people that police may not be able to rescue them if they stay."

I think everyone still in New Orleans after the last week has pretty much figured it out. What he's doing is trying to indirectly encourage folks to leave.

"That would be a P.R. nightmare for us,' Defillo said of any forced evacuations. 'That's an absolute last resort."

Not just a P.R. nightmare. If they pick the wrong house it will be a literal & tactical nightmare. & not just a last resort, but perhaps a last stand for some very unfortunate folks.

"Repeated telephone calls to Nagin's spokeswoman, Tami Frazier, seeking comment were not returned."

If I were them I wouldn't want to discuss it either.

It goes on to tell of efforts to drain the city of water. Then:

"Work has also been impeded by sporadic gunfire coming from 'criminals with guns,' said Col. Richard Wagenaar, the Corps' chief district engineer.
The contractors are 'getting used to it and that's pretty scary,' Wagenaar said."

That's a strong argument for letting the contractors carry arms. It's not stated whether they do or not but I presume it's discouraged if not outright forbidden.

See most states have laws concerning emergency powers & disaster areas. NC has such a law & it allows for prohibitions on carry. I'm sure it does extend to confiscations. Louisiana law maybe different, but I doubt it.

"With the water dropping, military and police turned their attention to evacuating the streets. Among those refusing to leave was 69-year-old John Ebanks, who waved off would-be rescuers from a porch stocked with food, mosquito spray and other supplies.
'You've got to protect your property, that's the main thing,' Ebanks said. 'This is all I've got. I'm pretty damn old to start over."

Mr. Ebanks gets it. He probably got it a long time ago & doesn't quite understand why others don't get it. He is responsible for his well being & the protection of himself & his property. Not the mayor. Not the cops. Not the feds. He is responsible & from it sounds like he is also not going to be dependent on anyone for basic needs. I sincerely hope Mr Ebanks is armed & that he isn't forced to resort to arms to protect his property or his well being But if he is then I hope whatever bastards try to dislodge him or steal from him get their asses handed to them. If it's thugs, looters, cops, guardsmen or army it doesn't matter - I hope Mr. Ebanks wins any confrontation by any means he deems necessary.

"In St. Bernard Parish, 38-year-old Dennis Rizzuto took a break from a Monopoly game with his family to emerge from the second-floor window of his home.
He said he had plenty of water, food to last a month and a generator powering his home. 'They're going to have to drag me' out, Rizzuto said."

Ditto for Mr. Rizzuto.

"In a plea to holdouts who might be listening to portable radios in the powerless city, Nagin warned that the fetid water could carry disease and that natural gas was leaking all over town.
'This is not a safe environment,' Nagin said. 'I understand the spirit that's basically, `I don't want to abandon my city.' It's OK. Leave for a little while. Let us get you to a better place. Let us clean the city up."

Mayor Nagin doesn't get it. It has nothing to do with abandoning a city. It's about property. Not communal property. Not government property. Personal & private property is the issue. These folks just went through a hurricane. Then they went through a flood. Then came the looters & other miscreants. Do you really, truly, honestly think that they'll abandon their homes now because some friggin whiney-ass mayor is worried that if they die it'll add to the already tarnished reputation of said mayor as an incompetent irresponsible public official? Good Lord no.

Property is seen by many, by far too many, as merely a symbol of economic & social class. Usually these folks are in favor of redistributing said property to make things more "equal" between socio-economic groups. To understand that a house & its furniture may be more than that is beyond them.

There's a little house on the northwest side of Charlotte, NC. It's a one story brick affair with 2 bedrooms, one bathroom & no central air. Gas heated the home & window mounted AC units cooled it. It was built in the 1940's on what was then the outskirts of town by a man who never graduated 8th grade but built many other houses in the area. In the backyard were two old cars that could have run again with a little work but were stored for the time being. Underneath a tree by those cars was grass much like the rest of the yard. You couldn't really tell the spot except when the man who built that house pointed it out & told of his favorite bird dog that was buried there. You'd catch a glimpse but turn away embarrassed as you saw a tear in his eye when he spoke of his old dog despite it being 15 years since he was laid to rest. Further down the backyard you'll see an open area where that man taught his eldest grandson to play baseball. In the front on the other side of the driveway you'll see an old outbuilding that was the man's shop. Staircases, cabinets, boats & other wood made objects were crafted in there. The front yard was the spot for the man to sit out in a lawn chair & feed the squirrels, or a little closer to the house was where the man sat & watched the summer's thunderstorms playing across the sky. Inside the house was where the man's daughters talked with him & his wife about the men they would marry. It's where they brought the old couple's grandchildren fresh from the hospital. The kitchen is where the wife made her oyster dressing for the few who ate it during thanksgiving dinner. The hallway held the heater where the man would sit in a rocking chair & warm himself when he came in from the cold. There was a shelf built into the wall that house the phone that the wife would spend hours on talking to friends old & new about matters great & trivial. The rooms therein held objects collected over 40 years of marriage & child raising. Some were trivial, but many if not most held a memory or two all its own. The cabineted radio that they listened to history unfold on (not the least of which was how the Atlanta Braves were doing that year). The picture window that let them see the world change around them. The chairs & sofas that let many friends & relations sit down & talk a while on a hot day or a balmy evening.

That is what property is to those who hold it. No; not even to those who hold it - to those that earn it. I'm sure the old man I spoke of wouldn't be able to compare any object to those things & people he loved - a baseball game that ended with the Braves in the lead; a dove hunt with his old dog; he & his wife hugging each other as their youngest daughter leaves the home to go live with her new husband; seeing his children & later grandchildren take their first steps in his living room, etc. Those things are more important than any property, but the property in question is where those events unfolded. Said property enabled those events to unfold. So not only is the property a contributor to the events cherished, but it is a constant reminder of them. A memory enhancer if you will. Palpable comfort. Material memories. The manifestation of hard work & a full life.

Because of those ties I am certain than any attempt to take the man away from that house would have not been taken lightly. Be it government agents or common street thugs the man would have fought with all he had to stay there, on his property, in his home, surrounded by the memories that proved he lived his life.

Staying because of a political structure? No. Staying because home is worth risk & hardship to protect.

Mayor Nagin doesn't get it. Mr. Ebanks & Mr. Rizzuto get it. They couldn't explain it to Mayor Nagin or anyone who thinks as he does. I can't explain it to you if you think like Mayor Nagin does.

Life, Liberty & Property. Those were Locke's words. Jefferson used poetic license to alter the last into Pursuit of Happiness. In that I feel he erred. Perhaps it flowed better & at the time most learned men knew what he meant; where he had gotten the phrase from. Since then it has lost much of its original meaning. Now it's an ethereal ability to attempt to achieve a pleasant feeling. Locke meant it as the cornerstone of the law.

Property is what enables Life & Liberty. Not just immaterial objects, but the ownership of said objects & most importantly the ownership of yourself. We started a shooting war with our very own government over the threat of property confiscation (in that case martial arms). Do not think we will not start another one over the very same issue. In this case the property in jeopardy might not be arms (though it very well could be) but it very well could be homes.

In Gods & Generals one of the most moving exchanges is at the very beginning. General Lee is being offered command of lincoln's grand Army of the Potomac. In his explanation General Lee delivers an eloquent summation of where patriotism should lie. In the context he was speaking in he meant to show the difference between duty to a state & duty to a country, with the former being more pressing on his honor. But he didn't speak of Virginia's coast, or traveling from it to the mountain. He spoke of simple places; creeks, woods, homes where children played games, learned to pray, perhaps even fell in love (& do forgive me as I'm paraphrasing rather badly his very touching description of what home meant). If you've never seen it go rent it or buy it. If you can understand & perhaps even agree with General Lee's (played exquisitely by Robert Duvall) reasons for loving his state, then you'll be on the road to understanding what Mr. Ebanks & Mr. Rizzuto know & that which Mayor Nagin likely never will.

Defense of property cannot be underestimated as a motivator of men. Anyone who does so does so at their own peril. A person's home is a point where many people draw an absolute line. For those people there is no practical difference between trying to destroy said home & trying to separate them from it. Whether the pretext be their safety or some other reason you should never be surprised at a man fighting to the point of death for his home. His property is not just the building or the possessions in it, but the history he or she has with those objects. To endanger one is, in those folks' minds, tantamount to endangering the memories they contain or inspire.

JJ Johnson wrote a piece some time ago asking When Is the Use of Force Against Government Officials Justified?. The catalyst he wrote of was a couple whose children were under the threat of being wrongfully taken from them. No surely that would be a stronger incentive than property - protecting your children from being kidnapped by the state. But read it & I think you'll find that some of his points would be applicable if their home was being immorally threatened.

What I am saying is that should the government under any pretext try to use force or the threat of force to evict people from their homes then they should not be surprised when those folks use force to resist. Nor should they be surprised when folks like me have no sympathy for the government & whatever happens to whatever agents it chooses to use in this wicked endeavor.

"To that end, the Pentagon began sending 5,000 paratroopers from the Army's storied 82nd Airborne Division to use small boats, including inflatable Zodiac craft, to launch a new search-and-rescue effort in flooded sections of the city."

"We're from the government & we're here to help you". That's in effect what they're saying. I hope, I sincerely hope that the military is not used to forcibly evict people from their homes, but it is sounding like that may in fact be what they're used for.

The military has practiced what they deem "urban operations" for years in & around out cities. I agree that urban combat training is necessary for any modern army. I disagree that it should be conducted with American cities as a training ground. I really don't want an army unit to have practiced "taking control of" Charlotte, NC. So despite a legitimate explanation (the need to train for urban combat in foreign lands) I have always been wary of military practicing for combat around our cities. Sending in paratroopers for a search & rescue mission does nothing to lessen my concerns.

I do not mean to speak ill of the military. The soldiers who serve do this country a service by offering up their labor & sometimes their lives to protect our security. But I do not trust any soldier answering to a government when they operate in their own country. My fears do not reflect upon the character of the individual soldier, but on the government who may order a soldier to do horrible things. Things like disarming civilians or forcing them out of their homes. A soldier should refuse to obey such unlawful orders but reality tells me that most will follow their orders to the best of their ability.

I hope I'm fretting over nothing & the military will continue to do their fine work in rescuing folks who want to be rescued.

"We need to rebuild the confidence of the American people ... in our government's ability to protect them from attack, whether it comes from nature or from terrorists,' said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn. 'The government simply did not act quickly and effectively enough."

Lieberman doesn't get it either. Government did not cause the hurricane. Neither can government prevent hurricanes. What government can do is stop peddling the bullshit that it is responsible for a person's safety. The individual in New Orleans has the only responsibility when it comes to protecting themselves be the threat nature or man. What Lieberman & his ilk want is to expand the government so it may better protect us. The lie is that government never will be able to protect us. It can prevent foreign armies form invading by judicious use of the military & it can issue advice, but that's as far as it's realistically capable of going. Every time the government is seen to not have done the impossible - protecting people who do not try to protect themselves - then there will be more calls for it to expand.

"Jefferson Parish president Aaron Broussard was even more blunt.
'Bureaucracy has murdered people in the greater New Orleans area,' he said on CBS' 'Early Show.' 'Take whatever idiot they have at the top of whatever agency and give me a better idiot. Give me a caring idiot. Give me a sensitive idiot. Just don't give me the same idiot."

Bureaucracy has not murdered anyone in New Orleans. It may have contributed in a few very small instances to someone's death, but I doubt it could be the cause for more than a few. What killed people was irresponsibility. They chose to let the government handle everything & they got let down, sometimes hard & sometimes permanently.

However bureaucracy may yet be actually contributory to some deaths. If so it'll surely be the result of the "forced evacuations", not the weather.

To answer a question that may be brewing; I realize the city is a dangerous place now. I'd argue it was just as dangerous last week. I don't see anything wrong with telling the residents of the specific dangers nor even encouraging them to leave. But the decision to leave or stay is the homeowner's, not the governments. The homeowner should make his or her own choice & be prepared to live or die by that choice. In short despite the danger if someone wants to risk his neck by staying in a city filled with hazards then that's his decision to make, not the governments. To suggest that government is right or even obligated to make people leave for their own good makes a mockery of the reason government was instituted in the first place - to protect the equal rights of others.

Life, Liberty & Property. Once you disregard material property it is not a far stretch to disregard the ownership of one's self. From there Liberty & Life are endangered. I am reminded of the words of the founders who wished to make sure that if government ever became abusive of our Rights we had the means to resist:

"As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms." — Tench Coxe in `Remarks on the First Part of the Amendments to the Federal Constitution' under the Pseudonym "A Pennsylvanian" in the Philadelphia Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789 at 2 col. 1

I hope it does not come to that last resort of a freedom loving person, but I fear that it will be necessary. Watch New Orleans closely as the next days will tell us much of our government & the resolve of the people to protect what's rightfully theirs.

Posted by Publicola at September 7, 2005 02:15 PM | TrackBack

It's all a matter of liability. Let's say that someone stays in New Orleans and gets sick due to the contamination. Who will foot the bill for the resulting illness...or the wrongful death?

Posted by: Ontario Emperor at September 7, 2005 05:41 PM

Well, the bill should be footed by the injured or the relatives of the dead. If you're implying that it's justifiable cause society (in this case New Orleans or Louisiana) should foot the bill Then I'd have to tell youthat socialized medicine, like the dstuff ya'll are burdened with in Canada & we're quasi-burdened with here, is way too freakin' marxist to even be considered a valid argument for the trampling upon of other rights. Course that is the ultimate result of marxism, which is one reason why I hate it so.

If a person stays they should be solely responsible for their own well being. Hell if a person stays anywhere they should be personally responsible for their own well being. Government should nto provide health care nor funeral services to anyone.

But the other side of that question - let's say someone stays in New Orleans & won't do anything to get sick or killed; is it still justifiable to force him out of his freakin' home at gunpoint?

Posted by: Publicola at September 8, 2005 12:28 AM
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