Saturday, September 03, 2005

Brewing discontent

As we struggle through the aftermath of Katrina, a growing chorus of yapping chihuahuas on the left has seized the opportunity and are now taking turns nipping at the ankles of President Bush. While admittedly there are aspects of the rescue effort that could have gone better, I have noticed that many of the accusations swirling around the President come more from an intense dislike of the man himself than anything concrete. The result is a hodgepodge of unfounded rumors, off-topic associations and blanket condemnations that are pushed into the arena as fast as the libs can come up with them.

The phenomena is interesting to watch. It is as if the left has hauled out a large iron cooking pot, painted the words "Blame Bush First" on it, filled it with broth and lit a fire underneath it. Every morsel of negative news that comes out of New Orleans is then thrown into this pot as the stew simmers... and boils... and churns.

Here are some of the ingredients that have been thrown in to date: Bush caused the hurricane because of global warming, Bush's tax-cuts prevented the levees from being reinforced, Bush responded to the disaster too late, Bush doesn't care because he is a racist, Bush doesn't have enough National Guard troops to restore order because they are all deployed in Iraq.

In short, the man has been accused of everything except pulling the wings off of butterflies (the Washington Post is looking into that one).

Well, let's look closer at one of the more popular claims -- that of a National Guard that is supposedly spread too thin. James S. Robbins of the National Review takes a look at some of the numbers, and effectively throws this particular argument on it's ear:

So is the war in Iraq causing troop shortfalls for hurricane relief in New Orleans?

In a word, no.

A look at the numbers should dispel that notion. Take the Army for example. There are 1,012,000 soldiers on active duty, in the Reserves, or in the National Guard. Of them, 261,000 are deployed overseas in 120 countries. Iraq accounts for 103,000 soldiers, or 10.2 percent of the Army.

That's all? Yes, 10.2 percent. That datum is significant in itself, a good one to keep handy the next time someone talks about how our forces are stretched too thin, our troops are at the breaking point, and so forth. If you add in Afghanistan (15,000) and the support troops in Kuwait (10,000) you still only have 12.6 percent.

So where are the rest? 751,000 (74.2 percent) are in the U.S. About half are active duty, and half Guard and Reserve. The Guard is the real issue of course -- the Left wants you to believe that the country has been denuded of its citizen soldiers, and that Louisiana has suffered inordinately because Guardsmen and women who would have been available to be mobilized by the state to stop looting and aid in reconstruction are instead risking their lives in Iraq.

Not hardly. According to Lieutenant General H. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, 75 percent of the Army and Air National Guard are available nationwide. In addition, the federal government has agreed since the conflict in Iraq started not to mobilize more than 50 percent of Guard assets in any given state, in order to leave sufficient resources for governors to respond to emergencies.

So there are the facts. This of course won't stop the chihuahuas from yapping... and nipping. It is all they know how to do. Liberals will continue to be liberals, will continue to be unhappy about the last two elections, will continue to be unhappy with anything coming out of this administration. The rest of us will observe the stories coming out of this disaster and do our best to find something positive in the midst of all the chaos. We will also continue to support an administration that is doing the best it can with the circumstances it was given.

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