Video: Hungry New Yorkers dumpster-diving for food as power to lower Manhattan remains off

You’ve seen it already on Drudge but I feel obliged to post, just to keep today’s running theme of Obama’s omnicompetence going. I won’t bother delving into how the media would handle this if a Republican were in office; you can tell that story as well as I can. Instead, let me give you Walter Russell Mead on the genius of the nanny state:

Admittedly, getting public support and finding the money for flood protection would be hard, but it is exactly that kind of hard job that governments are supposed to do. Leadership is getting the important things done, not looking busy on secondary tasks while the real needs of the city go quietly unmet.

The problem with nanny state governance isn’t just that it’s intrusive. It isn’t just that it stifles business with over-regulation, and it isn’t just that it empowers busybodies and costs money. It’s that it distracts government from the really big jobs that it ought to be doing.

Mayor Bloomberg has done an admirable job under great pressure as the city reels from Sandy’s attack. But an ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure. The city needed flood protection for its subways and electricity grid—and it didn’t get it. If the Mayor had spent less time and less of his political capital focusing on minutiae, this storm could have played out very differently.

Yeah, how is it that a guy who’s willing to let climate-change policy determine his vote for president chose to leave the country’s most populous city underprepared for weather disasters? Whether global warming contributed to Sandy or not, an AGW true believer in a position of power should have had special concerns about flooding and protecting infrastructure. To preach it and not act is as silly as a guy running for reelection on his terrorist ass-kicking credentials refusing to consult his counterterror team during a terrorist attack. But then, this is the myth of Bloomberg the visionary manager. The days-long power outage in Queens that I endured six years ago also happened on his watch; he could have used that as a catalyst to make upgrading the city’s old power grid his cause celebre, but he’s much more of a guns-and-Big-Gulps sort of “visionary” than a guy concerned with keeping the lights on and the trains running. Hence Mead’s point.

Go read Breitbart’s Twitter round-up of the state of play right now in New York and New Jersey when it comes to finding gas. There’s actually plenty of it nearby; there’s just no way to get it flowing again until the lights come back on.

Update: Via Gothamist, here’s how things looked downtown as of yesterday morning. If people are eating out of garbage bins today, I’m guessing that the situation hasn’t improved much:

6) I did not witness a single Red Cross Truck or FEMA Vehicle or in lower Manhattan. Recall the assistance these agencies provided after 9/11 – this is NOT HAPPENING. There are bound to be hundreds of elderly people, rich and poor, who live on the upper floors of buildings with elevators that are now disabled. IF POWER IS NOT RESTORED, THIS WILL MOVE FROM BEING AN ECONOMIC DISASTER TO A HUMANITARIAN DISASTER…

8) The substation responsible for the outage is a huge facility. It spans an entire avenue from Avenue C to D and a length of street from 13th to 14th. If crews have to inspect every coil and wire, it might be MORE THAN THREE DAYS UNTIL POWER IS RESTORED. Additionally, the site did not appear staffed with many Con Ed workers. As a note, the 2003 blackout lasted 15 hours.

9) The water from the storm surge was invariably contaminated – floating garbage, wood pieces from the dock, and possibly sewage. One Nuyorican woman who lived on Avenue C near 12th street noted the water level peaked above her waist. She was still visibly shaken this afternoon. She also recalled a huge noise at 8 pm when the substation failed. The sky, in her words, turned from black to green

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