Blame. It's America's favorite pastime

Our history's globe has forever spun on a high-velocity axis called "blame." Whenever there is fault, there is blame.

Whether it's a mistake at work, or a mistake at home, blame is looking right at you.

Why? Because blame comes easy. All you do is raise your arm, point your finger, and yell. The greater the fault, the more rigid the finger point and the louder the yell.

Make a mistake, and everybody else becomes a Monday morning quarterback. Make what appears to be a nationally infected mistake, and out come the prophets. And why not? Everybody's smarter than the person or persons who made the mistake, right? Like hell!

If all the post-mortem diagnostics that have followed Hurricane Katrina were medically related, we'd all be forensic scientists. Talk about toxic waste! Wait, make that a lot of wind. Lots of wind. Lots of damaging words. But no one has produced a rain drop of logic.

The former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael Brown, is one of a handful of bulls-eyes for billions of pointed fingers. So is Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. President George W. Bush too. You all know that. You also know all the crap that's been thrown into the blender by politicians, and splattered all over each opposing political party. Each political party took turns pressing the puree button on the blender for some frenzied, top-popping fun. After all, gotta keep the race for elections in 2008 top-of-mind and in their party's best interests!

I'm not defending President Bush. But I am going to say that it takes one tragedy for us to wake up to a similar tragedy that follows. Hurricane Katrina woke up our government. It also woke up people in general. But let's not forget the many people in New Orleans who outright refused to evacuate when they could have, although many had no choice and couldn't evacuate even if they wanted to.

Should the ones who refused have been forced to leave by the military? How? By gunfire? So you either leave or we shoot you? These people remained where they were because they chose to. Period. If they died because of that, no great disaster plan would have helped.

And that's another thing: disaster plans. To do what? Hold back the storm? Reduce the categorical power of its winds and ferocity of its ocean surge? Yeah ... Sure.

Katrina woke people up! So did 9/11. So did Columbine. But you know what each of those tragedies have in common? Fair warning. Yup. Fair warning. The South had more than a century's worth of uncountable recorded and witnessed warnings of what hurricane damage. Before 9/11? Umm ... Wasn't the World Trade Center bombed relatively unsuccessfully sometime before 9/11? But our nation's leaders just carried on as if nothing happened. So did we. Columbine? Students have been taking guns to school for years. But not one of those revelatory foreshadows awoke us as rudely it should have.

So why are people now suspicious of Washington's comparatively quick response to Hurricane Rita with evacuations and rescues? Why would anyone question that now? Again, Katrina slapped us with stinging irreverence. Slapped us til our eyes widened in fear. We woke up from it. We learned from it.

Do I think our nation's leaders should have reacted more quickly to the threats of Katrina's unwelcome visit? You bet your life. Do I think it would have made a notably significant difference? Who knows? Let's remember, gang, that the difference between Katrina's high-octane damage to a city below sea level can't even be compared to Rita's weaker attack on an area above sea level (Texas Gulf Coast), or areas still reeling from the pounding of Katrina (western Louisiana border). Maybe a more urgent preparation would have thwarted the end-of-the-world type of chaos, but I've seen what evacuations are like for much smaller oncoming hurricanes (when my family and I lived in the Florida Panhandle). By comparison, I'll face the winds, thanks.

Katrina was different, I know. Much different. All I'm saying is that our government can act quicker. No doubt. But even their quickness and force are no match for the natural disasters the size of Katrina. The only things that can rival Katrina's Neptune-powered winds, are the big mouths of those politicians who have turned a national tragedy into a sad circus on the dark side of P.T. Barnum. An embarrassing sideshow.

FEMA. Does it stand for Federal Emergency Management Agency? Or is it now For Every Man's Assessment?

n John DiMambro is publisher of the Nevada Appeal. Write to him at


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