Jewish World Review Sept. 2, 2005/ 28 Av 5765

Wesley Pruden

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The blame game can start now | No tragedy is so horrific, no calamity so sad, that somebody can't reduce it to politics. Hurricane Katrina was a tragedy for most of us, but a gift of the gods to the kingdom of the left, where everyone gets up every morning eager to count the ways to despise George W. Bush.

Some of our German friends, who know a little something about inflicting worldwide misery and mayhem, describe George W. as der fuehrer of global warming and the author of the hurricane that smashed New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Jurgen Trittin, the German environmental minister whose nostrums helped ruin Germany's economy, invokes the fantasy of a sci-fi movie to describe the damage wrought in Biloxi. "There is only one possible route of action," he writes in Frankfurter Rundschau, the party newspaper. "Greenhouse gases have to be radically reduced and it has to happen worldwide." If 12 percent unemployment is good enough for the fatherland, it's good enough for our homeland. The Berlin newspaper Die Tageszeitung expresses gratitude for the grim photographs of the soggy carnage on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain: "... more pictures from New Orleans should encourage us to follow science's advice on climate protection."

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., one of the last legatees still standing from America's most famous family of wastrels, finds in Katrina the welcome opportunity to take shots at both George W. and Haley Barbour, the Republican governor of Mississippi. "Now we are all learning what it's like to reap the whirlwind of fossil-fuel dependence which [Mr.] Barbour and his cronies have encouraged," he writes on Arianna Huffington's Internet blog for what's left of the radically chic. "Our destructive addiction has given us a catastrophic war in the Middle East and now Katrina is giving our nation a glimpse of the climate chaos we are bequeathing to our children."

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The high priests of the science that our German friends pay such devotion to say global warming has nothing to do with Katrina or any of her windy sisters. William L. Gray, the professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State who is regarded as the nation's foremost student of hurricanes, tells the New York Times that the severity of hurricanes changes with ocean-temperature cycles that are "very much natural."

Earlier in the century, before global warming became the environmental flavor of the week, hurricanes were more severe than now. It's mere coincidence that only 3 of the 32 major Atlantic hurricanes tracked between 1995 and 2003 struck American coasts at full intensity. We could have counted on nearly a dozen. "We were lucky in that eight-year period," he says, "and the luck just ran out."

We could blame Lake Pontchartrain, which has always been special to New Orleanians, but always feared. What happened this week is the nightmare come true. The lake is only 12 to 14 feet deep, but that's a lot of salt water. Like a lot of everything else in the delta it was probably formed when the Mississippi River decided one morning to change course.

History can happen in the shallows. It was on Lake Pontchartrain that Andrew Higgins, builder of shallow-draft boats for backcountry bayous, demonstrated to the Navy in 1941 that he could land Marines on the islands of the South Pacific in similar craft. The Navy was persuaded, and the Higgins plant on City Park Avenue built thousands of the wood-hulled boats that Dwight Eisenhower called, along with the Douglas C-47 and the two-ton truck, the weapons that won World War II.

The lakefront was the site of an amusement park where generations of Orleanians took their first roller-coaster rides. The park was closed in 1983, when rowdies like those now terrorizing the watery streets ruined it for everyone.

If you don't want to blame George W., Haley Barbour or Lake Pontchartrain for Katrina, you could blame New Orleans. House Speaker Denny Hastert says the city was built where it is only because Orleanians were "stubborn" and he doesn't think it should be rebuilt.

"It doesn't make sense to me," he told the Chicago Daily Herald. "And it's a question that certainly we should ask."

That's the best news New Orleans has had all week. A remark like that from a yankee politician is all the resurrection inspiration the Big Easy could ask for.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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