From The Obvious To The Obvious

From “I don’t think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center” to “I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees” the Bush administration is showing remarkable ability to miss everything between easy clues and outright revelations.

Are they really this unimaginative? This stupid? Unlikely!

In both cases they were given sufficient warnings like:

The federal government should consider aviation security as a national security issue, and provide substantial funding for capital improvements. The Commission believes that terrorist attacks on civilian aviation are directed towards the United States, and that there should be an ongoing federal commitment to reducing the threats that they pose.”
Gore Commission final report, February 12, 1997
http://www.fas.org/irp/threat/212fin~1.html

The 2004 hurricane season was the worst in decades. In spite of that, the federal government came back this spring with the steepest reduction in hurricane and flood-control funding for New Orleans in history. Because of the proposed cuts, the Corps office there imposed a hiring freeze. Officials said that money targeted for the SELA project—$10.4 million, down from $36.5 million—was not enough to start any new jobs.

There was, at the same time, a growing recognition that more research was needed to see what New Orleans must do to protect itself from a Category 4 or 5 hurricane. But once again, the money was not there. As the Times-Picayune reported last Sept. 22:

“That second study would take about four years to complete and would cost about $4 million, said Army Corps of Engineers project manager Al Naomi. About $300,000 in federal money was proposed for the 2005 fiscal-year budget, and the state had agreed to match that amount. But the cost of the Iraq war forced the Bush administration to order the New Orleans district office not to begin any new studies, and the 2005 budget no longer includes the needed money, he said.”

The Senate was seeking to restore some of the SELA funding cuts for 2006. But now it’s too late.

One project that a contractor had been racing to finish this summer: a bridge and levee job right at the 17th Street Canal, site of the main breach on Monday.

The Newhouse News Service article published Tuesday night observed, “The Louisiana congressional delegation urged Congress earlier this year to dedicate a stream of federal money to Louisiana’s coast, only to be opposed by the White House. … In its budget, the Bush administration proposed a significant reduction in funding for southeast Louisiana’s chief hurricane protection project. Bush proposed $10.4 million, a sixth of what local officials say they need.”

Local officials are now saying, the article reported, that had Washington heeded their warnings about the dire need for hurricane protection, including building up levees and repairing barrier islands, “the damage might not have been nearly as bad as it turned out to be.”

http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001051313

Earlier I made a comment to the effect that looters were basically saying, “What can I steal for myself during this tragedy” and I wanted to clarify the presumption that they were acting like criminals. Stealing medicine, food and clothing in order to survive is understandable. Yet from the beginning I noticed videos of looters taking other things.

Law enforcement efforts to contain the emergency left by Katrina slipped into chaos in parts of New Orleans Tuesday with some police officers and firefighters joining looters in picking stores clean.

At the Wal-Mart on Tchoupitoulas Street, an initial effort to hand out provisions to stranded citizens quickly disintegrated into mass looting. Authorities at the scene said bedlam erupted after the giveaway was announced over the radio.
While many people carried out food and essential supplies, others cleared out jewelry racks and carted out computers, TVs and appliances on handtrucks.

Some officers joined in taking whatever they could, including one New Orleans cop who loaded a shopping cart with a compact computer and a 27-inch flat-screen television.

Officers claimed there was nothing they could do to contain the anarchy, saying their radio communications have broken down and they had no direction from commanders. . . .

Inside the store, one woman was stocking up on make-up. She said she took comfort in watching police load up their own carts.

“It must be legal,” she said. “The police are here taking stuff, too.”

http://www.nola.com/newslogs/breakingtp/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_Times-Picayune/archives/2005_08.html#075179

While these rubes were having the shopping experiences of their lives, others were drowning. How many could have been saved if the looters were concentrating on saving lives instead of portraying contestants in an un-filmed episode of “Supermarket Sweep“?

If these are examples of what society will resort to when laws cannot be enforced, it is shameful. I cannot imagine being in a situation where jewelry or a clothes dryer would be so easy to steal but I hope that I would pass the opportunities by. Someone’s insurance may cover it but the principle is what counts. You don’t act like that during a situation like this one. Not if you’re a decent human being.

 

54 thoughts on “From The Obvious To The Obvious

  1. It has been said we must all conserve on energy. How much fuel does Air Force One and its entourage use with their fly-bys of the devastation down south? Like Bush really cares. Big deal, they pooled in the same jet. Real concsientious and conservative.

  2. regarding the lack on action after Katrina, I didn’t notice any posts about responding to the potential rescue of people.  How come people didn’t act before the event passed?  Anyone who is criticizing the lack of action , needs to refer back to their previous posts alerting people to evacuate.  Looks like the government already put up all those warnings a long time ago.

  3. It’s bad enough that people are looting the now chaotic New Orleans.

    But when Law Enforcement joins in the looting process, it just proves that the law is slowly falling away at New Orleans and something has to be done without resorting to killing people.

  4. Well – I’ll tell you why those people did’nt evacuate Matt..More than likely most of the people left behind we’re the poor and homeless and had no damn means of removing themselves from an area as large as the UK.
    Petrol here costs $1.40 a litre in Australia,so i shudder to think what it costs you folks over there;by all reports we hear here,the average wage is just $7 per hour in the south.
    So Matt..Stop watching Fox and pull your head out of your arse.(gently though)

  5. most of the people left behind we’re the poor and homeless and had no damn means of removing themselves from an area as large as the UK.

    Most of the people left behind were able bodied. The last time I checked it didn’t cost anything to put one foot in front of the other.

  6. Are you seriously suggesting that people should have just WALKED out of New Orleans? I mean, I can’t imagine why so many of the people who stayed behind when they easily could have left chose to do so, but I also can’t imagine anyone just walking the miles and miles to safety.

  7. Considering the alternative, yes I am suggesting that. Also, a good 5 or 10 miles inland is all it would’ve taken. That’s not very far at all.

    I find it unbelievable that someone would find it so difficult to imagine actually walking 5 or 10 miles. For the able bodid it’s not far.

    I know for damn sure that’s exactly what I would’ve done.

  8. If it were only 5 or 10 miles, that does seem doable. I was under the impression that many people would have much further to go, especially given that even the areas that did not flood were not necessarily safe to be in, due to the other weather effects. I guess I can just understand why someone might think they would be better off staying in their home rather than setting out on foot, if those were really their only options, especially since previous hurricanes had not been nearly as bad and the people whose options were so limited probably didn’t have much indication of how bad it was going to get. And I can certainly understand that for some people, say, the 350 lb diabetic woman with several small children who I just heard about, the option of walking or staying was no real option at all. I mean, some people were just going to be effed by this situation no matter how you cut it, and I am hesistant to assume that everyone who died only did so because of their own poor decision-making. Now, what I CAN’T understand is why some people are STILL refusing to leave when they have the chance.

  9. I agree with much of what you say; I qualified what I said with “able bodied”.

    Up until Katrina actually touched land it was a cat 5. Even down-graded to a cat 4 I find it difficult for someone to not be aware of the danger. A few miles inland would certainly be better than in a house next to a levee in an area under sea level.

    The day after the flooding I remember a woman crawling from the water and yellilng into the camera, “When are you people gonna get us outta here?!” Compare that attitude with the young man who proactively boosted a bus, drove around and picked people up, pooled their money for gas, and then drove to Texas. One sat around waiting for help and paid the price. The other took some initiative and responsibility for their own safety and faired much better.

    I’m just saying.

  10. Even as I wrote this entry I was wondering to myself how I would have acted during and after Katrina if I had been in the middle of it.

    I’ve been in a couple of hurricane scares since I moved to Charleston and evacuated for another one. The one I evacuated for was pretty scary, according to the friends I had who stayed for it. Still, even though they knew it could be very dangerous to stay, they approached the ordeal with a sense of adventure and wonder at the immensity of the storm and a persistent certainty that it wouldn’t bring disaster.

    I, on the other hand, was stuck on the road for 36 hours of stop and go traffic and my car had a clutch. My foot became bruised and I was completely worn out with the ordeal. I kept wishing I had stayed.

    One lesson you learn when living in a hurricane prone area is that evacuations take allot of energy and patience. For that reason alone, I understand why so many stayed.

    Too, even though they may have heard all their lives about the dangers of a category 4 or 5 storm and that the levees would be useless then, they had always seen the hurricanes pass them by and the levees had always been adequate for the ancillary storms they received. Even if you have the means to leave, in the past it had always been safe enough to stay.

    As for the looting and gun play, those are alien actions to me. I can’t imagine being in a state of mind where those responses would be natural, acceptable expressions. Apparently many in the midst of the disaster found a way to reconcile disgust for unlawful behavior. They must have felt very alone and desperate.

    Others saw opportunities to benefit from the lack of order and material possessions left unguarded. These would be very selfish individuals no matter how bad or easy the going got.

    I also cannot imagine how scary it might feel to know you had nowhere to escape to; no money to make the escape possible and children to care for as you considered your lack of options. I feel many had no options to go but plenty of options to fashion their actions as they stayed. We could have seen better behavior from too many.

    Then again, I wasn’t in the ordeal. When you’re experiencing something like that you tend to go with the crowd and do as they do. For all I know, if I had been there, I could now be the owner of 10 TVs and no place to house them.

  11. Even those looting material goods might have done so for survival. If I lost absolutely everything in an environment where it seemed only the strongest would survive, I can’t say I’d be “above” looting some jewelry to sell later—I have people depending on me for their own survival. (I would think people without houses aren’t looting televisions for a personal stash, but maybe so) I’m not saying none of those looters represent our worst kind, I just hate to assume I can tell them apart from this side of the news media.

  12. The thing that gets me is how easily this could have been averted. Bush could have given the requested money to the people working on the levee. I heard somewhere that the average cost per day in Iraq was multiple millions of dollars(I dont know if that is true but it sounds like it could be). I cant quite remeber now. Bush could have waited a few days and he would have the money for the levees. Or maybe not have built about 20 cruise missiles which I belive are priced somewhere around 2 million apiece. That would have given 40 million dollars more to the levees. So I guess war is more damaging than most americans seemed to have thought…

    Cheers BunBun

  13. RE: evacuating on foot…even able-bodied people would have been in great danger out in the middle of a storm.  And how could they have brought enough provisions?  I mean, similar to what Brock said, they could be stranded in a flooded house or out in the open with little food or water.  The best strategy—it’s a toss up.
    Plus, I can imagine a bit of fear about what could be perceived as stealing a bus or losing what little bit of home and resources you have to the storm.

  14. Well said. We can sit in the comfort zone called home and say “i’d do this: I’d do that. We do not know. we can only speculate.
    The blatant lies by the Bush administration is what I feel is appalling. How come FEMA head known as Brownie didn’t “know” about the people at the convention center in NO and I’m here at my computer in Peoria, IL and I knew about the people there before Thursday.
    It seems to me that it is the action or lack thereof by the Feds that mirror how they feel about the poor, whether they are red, white, black, or any other color.

  15. Whatever the ups and downs of evacuating on foot – there were multiple hospitals right in the flood zone which were neither evacuated beforehand nor within an acceptable timeframe afterwards…

  16. The blatant lies by the Bush administration is what I feel is appalling.

    What blatant lies would you be talking about? Do you have an example or a source that refers to “blatant lies”? Why do people keep trying to push the responsibilities of city and state government onto the federal level? Bottom line; all facts point to failures on the state and local level as to why this tragedy happened.

    The Washington Times says:

    Ray Nagin, the mayor, ordered a “mandatory” evacuation a day late, but kept the city’s 2,000 school buses parked and locked in neat rows when there was still time to take the refugees to higher ground. The bright-yellow buses sit ruined now in four feet of dirty water. Then the governor, Kathleen Blanco, resisted early pleas to declare martial law, and her dithering opened the way for looters, rapists and killers to make New Orleans an unholy hell.

    Also, the Army Corps of Engineers says:

    . . .a lack of funding for hurricane-protection projects around New Orleans did not contribute to the disastrous flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina.

    I know that you Bush haters are drooling at the prospect that you can use this tragedy as a means of getting him but that dog doesn’t hunt. There are plenty of legitimate reasons for pissing all over GW but this isn’t one of them. By attempting to use this tragedy for leverage you are simply marginailzing any legitimate gripes you may have.

    I’m just saying.

  17. I have no political agenda Daniel;But I tell you I reckon most people cling to the basics whether logical or not..this is home, these are my friends,surely this could’nt happen to us!…so we damn these people for thier ignorance and complacence? – well personally i’m symphphetic and I feel sorry for you with your little heart of stone.

  18. In Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, in 1999, I had a friend whose father was on the police force. They’d already put the officers on standby to enter a state of martial law in case Y2K brought about pandemonium. I’d imagine that with as many people staying behind as there were in NO, the order would have been in effect almost immediately. I think, at this point, finger-pointing is useless. To be fair, it took everyone of any importance lying, screwing up, and covering their own butts to let things slide wickedly out of control.

    Also, I can’t see funding into research leading to reinforced weather defenses anytime soon; so I don’t think the gripes regarding the funding for Army Corps is legitimate, and being that they have asserted the same suggests that the GW bashers are the reason why there are any gripes at all, on that front.

    And, Frumpa, I have to agree with Mr. Medley here; it sucks that there are so many people that didn’t get out of there, but I’m not gonna pity them. They made a choice – a hard choice, but a choice – and they ended up on the wrong side of it. Nature isn’t kind; it’s primitive and brutal. As individuals, we typically set ourselves in unhealthy paths long before they ever become problems. But it’s like most of us to complain that there are problems as soon as they arise. They may have been naive, but, as of yet, it isn’t practical for the responsibility for those decisions to lie on anyone but the individual.

    I don’t require that everyone make the right decisions for their own lives, but I don’t require that everyone survive a hurricane, either. People of note live and die all the time without my knowledge – they don’t need my knowing so for it to be any more or less important, if you place any value on human life across-the-board.

  19. well personally i’m symphphetic and I feel sorry for you with your little heart of stone.

    Is that your only argument? Feeeelings will do nothing to help prevent this from happening again. Learning from the reality of what and why will.

  20. Feeeelings will do nothing to help prevent this from happening again. Learning from the reality of what and why will.

    Don’t you think that having some empathy for the people who stayed behind will better enable us to understand WHY they did so, and thus prevent other people from making that choice in the future? Tbe fact of the matter is that everyone who stayed behind was not necessarily either stupid or ignorant, and writing them off as such does little towards advancing our understanding of this situation. Of course, some of the people who stayed behind probably did do so for stupid and/or ignorant reasons, and addressing that problem is also a necessary step in preventing this from happening again. Maybe we ultimately can’t save people from their own ignorance, but we probably have a moral obligation to try our best to do so. That means trying even better the next time this happens.

  21. And from a purely pragmatic, entirely selfish standpoint, the next time this sort of this happens I’d rather my tax money be spent on really helping people to get the hell out than on medical treatment and body disposal, which is almost certainly more expensive. I don’t think it does me any good to just say “Fuck the ignorant people.”

  22. Don’t you think that having some empathy for the people who stayed behind will better enable us to understand WHY they did so, and thus prevent other people from making that choice in the future?

    No, I don’t. This sort of thinking baffles me and it’s completley pointless. People make choices and bear the consequences.

    The Mayor made the choice to not call for an evacuation in a timely manner.

    The Mayor chose to not follow N.O.‘s evacuation plan that called for using municipal buses for the evacuation and instead chose to let 2000 buses be destroyed.

    Many able-bodied people made the choice to ignore the evacuation and suffered the consequences.

    Hell, even now people are refusing to leave. Who’s fault is it when they suffer the consequences, Bush?

    Tbe fact of the matter is that everyone who stayed behind was not necessarily either stupid or ignorant, and writing them off as such does little towards advancing our understanding of this situation.

    Did I ever say anything about anybody being “stupid or ignorant”?

  23. Don’t you think that having some empathy for the people who stayed behind will better enable us to understand WHY they did so, and thus prevent other people from making that choice in the future?
    No, I don’t. This sort of thinking baffles me and it’s completley pointless. People make choices and bear the consequences.

    This would be fine, expect we’re ALL bearing the consequences, not just the people who made the choices. From the tax dollars being spent on medical care and emergency evacuation to the extra hours of government time that will be spent on this rather than other issues, we’re all paying for the people who chose to stay behind, whether we feel any personal concern for them or not.

    Hell, even now people are refusing to leave. Who’s fault is it when they suffer the consequences, Bush?

    I never said anything about my opinions on who’s fault this was. I’m not pointing fingers. And I really can’t drum up much sympathy for anyone who thinks they shouldn’t be even nominally responsible for their own welfare, in any situation. I’m just saying that simply because something is YOUR fault doesn’t mean it can’t also be MY problem. And I just don’t see why anyone would take umbrage with the notion that it really sucks that so many people stayed behind, for whatever reason, and it couldn’t hurt for us to try and figure out what to do about that in the future. Is that really such a radical viewpoint?

  24. I dunno Ulfrekr, when the refrain comes up about why they would ever stay, I think Frumpa really answered the question already. I agree that we should be trying to understand, but it’s almost impossible to say what should be done when we already know that the best way to survive a Cat.5 hurricane is to simply not be there. That’s, in part, why I mentioned martial law in a previous post – it’s the only legal way to move people who can’t move (take the example of a debilitated person). For everyone else, if the threat of imminent demise isn’t enough, then you always have the option. It’s shameful, though. So much more could have been done, and really, we know what needed to be done. We just didn’t do it.

  25. Daniel said:  I know that you Bush haters are drooling at the prospect that you can use this tragedy as a means of getting him but that dog doesn’t hunt. There are plenty of legitimate reasons for pissing all over GW but this isn’t one of them. By attempting to use this tragedy for leverage you are simply marginailzing any legitimate gripes you may have.

    Daniel, imagine that this had been a terrorist attack, and that Bush had declared the targeted area in a state of emergency two days before the attack. Would you then question why he took several days after the attack to address the issue? Would you consider him irresponsible for turning his attention to speeches and visits concerning other issues before he turned his attention to the aftermath of the attack? Would you question why the Vice President took longer than a week to finish his vacation and return to Washington? Would you wonder why the Secretary of State was attending a Broadway show and shopping for expensive shoes after those at ground zero had been struggling for days to survive the aftermath of the attack?

    If you replace the terrorist attack with a devastating hurricane, do they suddenly cease to be culpable?

    Even after Bush began to observe the devastation his concerns still seemed insincere:

    Sat Sep 3rd, 2005 at 07:05:42 PM EST

    U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La., issued the following statement this afternoon regarding her call yesterday for President Bush to appoint a cabinet-level official to oversee Hurricane Katrina relief and recovery efforts within 24 hours.

    Sen. Landrieu said:

    “Yesterday, I was hoping President Bush would come away from his tour of the regional devastation triggered by Hurricane Katrina with a new understanding for the magnitude of the suffering and for the abject failures of the current Federal Emergency Management Agency. 24 hours later, the President has yet to answer my call for a cabinet-level official to lead our efforts. Meanwhile, FEMA, now a shell of what it once was, continues to be overwhelmed by the task at hand.

    “I understand that the U.S. Forest Service had water-tanker aircraft available to help douse the fires raging on our riverfront, but FEMA has yet to accept the aid. When Amtrak offered trains to evacuate significant numbers of victims – far more efficiently than buses – FEMA again dragged its feet. Offers of medicine, communications equipment and other desperately needed items continue to flow in, only to be ignored by the agency.

    “But perhaps the greatest disappointment stands at the breached 17th Street levee. Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment. The good and decent people of southeast Louisiana and the Gulf Coast – black and white, rich and poor, young and old – deserve far better from their national government.

    http://www.fromtheroots.org/story/2005/9/3/19542/97952

    One of Bush’s first opportunities to illustrate the power a Commander-in-Chief wields came when, in Biloxi MS,  he placed two now-homeless black women in the wonder of his embrace. His comforting words to one of them:

    “You can get help from the Salvation Army.

  26. I cannot decide what disgusts me most about this whole thing, but the apathy and high horses are really pushing hard to come in first. Perhaps I saw different pictures, but it looked like a lot of those in the New Orleans Superdome were elderly and/or disabled. Sure, the “able-bodied” should have and could have, and I am sure if you were there you would have and could have been judged to be just as big a failure by those comfortable enough in their dry homes and possessions to have the kind of audacity to think they know enough to know everything, including your circumstances and worthiness of aid.

    Commenting on the facilities that have been set up for the evacuees—cots crammed side-by-side in a huge stadium where the lights never go out and the sound of sobbing children never completely ceases—former First Lady Barbara Bush concluded that the poor people of New Orleans had lucked out.

    “Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this, this is working very well for them,” Mrs. Bush (emphasis mine) told American Public Media’s “Marketplace” program, before returning to her multi-million dollar Houston home.

    [. . .]

    On Friday, when even Republican lawmakers were giving the federal government an “F” for its response to the crisis, (emphasis mine) President Bush heaped praise on embattled Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown. As thousands of victims of the hurricane continued to plead for food, water, shelter, medical care and a way out of the nightmare to which federal neglect had consigned them, Brown cheerily announced that “people are getting the help they need.”

    Barbara Bush’s son put his arm around the addled FEMA functionary and declared, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”

    Like mother, like son.

    Even when a hurricane hits, the apple does not fall far from the tree.

    News Link

    Bubbles are fragile.

  27. If you replace the terrorist attack with a devastating hurricane, do they suddenly cease to be culpable?

    Are you serious with this analogy? Tell me you’re not serious. A terrorist attack out of the blue and a hurricane that’s been on track to hit your city for days . . .

    Bottom line, by law the responsibilty for prepareing for the oncoming strom is with the state and local authorities. All the nonsense that you spew and the feeeeelings that you put across do not change that fact.

  28. Daniel said: Are you serious with this analogy? Tell me you’re not serious. A terrorist attack out of the blue and a hurricane that’s been on track to hit your city for days . . .

    You tend to miss the obvious allot too don’t you, Daniel. The analogy had to do with the fact that Bush had declared the area in a state of emergency two days before the hurricane (Aug 27th) and then busied himself with a “birthday photo-op with Senator John McCain” and a visit to an “Arizona resort to promote Medicare drug benefit.” (Aug 29th) As the event progressed, he had mounting opportunities to suspect massive federal aid would be required: The “National Weather Service issued a bulletin (Aug 28th) predicting devastating damage and still Bush had other minor concerns to fill his days.

    VernR provided the time line page so you should look it over carefully.)

    Four days after his state of emergency declaration, Bush finally ends his vacation in Crawford, TX. (Aug 31st)and returns to Washington even though 80% of New Orleans was flooded the day before. Finally, four days later, President Bush declares the Gulf Coast a public health emergency. It also takes FEMA four days from Bush’s State of Emergency designation and three days after Katrina’s 2nd landfall to begin to move rescue ships and helicopters to the region.

    There is plenty of reason to suspect the administration knew 9/11, in some form, would happen too. I’ll happily provide links relating to that for you if you like.

    The point is that you likely wouldn’t accept behavior like this after a terrorist attack, but an even deadlier natural calamity finds you satisfied with the administration’s response, even though we pay taxes for The Department of Homeland Security to deal effectively with disasters like this as well.

    Feeeelings are cool; you should have some.

  29. Brock;you’re my absolute hero – Daniel;the rock you crawled out from under just washed away.

  30. Frumpa;

    The analogy is still bogus. The buck started with state and local, period. The feds can only act when called upon. That’s the law.

    To be clear I’ve never said that Bush was blameless.  It’s just that it’s absurd to think that he bears the majority of the blame. He doesn’t. All the bashing and ranting and raving by you Bush bashers will not change that FACT. The fact being that as far as fault goes, the majority by far falls onto the shoulders of the governer and the mayor. To keep claiming otherwise shows a huge disconnect with reality and civics 101. Since that IS the reality, why are you not calling for their heads? Wouldn’t have anything to do with partisian politics would it?

    I’ve yet to see one claim of “it’s Bush’s fault” be supported by simple logic and fact from you people. Personal attacks don’t count. That just means you have nothing with which to support your misguided notions.

  31. Perhaps the reason people aren’t calling for the heads of the LA governor and NO mayor is that, unlike the president, these people rarely make decisions that effect the entire nation, and as such most of us are less concerned with determining their degree of competence and culpability. I’m not from NO, and I have no idea how they feel about their mayor, but I’m sure people who questioned his judgment before have even more reason to do so now. But regardless of anything Bush should or could have done, just the fact that he makes bizarre statements like
    “I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees” is enough for many of us to question exactly what goes on in the president’s head.

  32. So…
    How does the mayor or gov. obtain enough choppers to evacuate a flooded city?

    Surely none of your are suggesting the LA National Guard had enough for this operation.  Thus, the gov. spoke directly to Bush on following the levee breched…  and waited…  and waited… and waited…

    This isn’t so much a local issue as a national issue.

    rob@egoz.org

  33. EMSNEtwork.org: We questioned why we couldn’t cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the 6-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their City. These were code words for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans.

    Link

    By the way, these people were on foot.

    At least in the aftermath, local, state, and federal government officials ALL got blood on their hands.

  34. Jeez, Les the “I have the truth and you are all wrong, facts be damned” idiots your site attracts are getting worse and worse as time goes by. The older ones (like grey) look like geniuses compared to Daniel.

  35. There’s a lot of talk about why people didn’t leave when they had the chance—the ‘able-bodied’ that is. Well, I wanted to know too, and here’s a part answer:

    I have a friend whose family lives near the LA Mississippi border, and I’ll paraphrase she told me about that:

    “I’ve lived here all my life and so has my dad’s family. We’ve seen hurricanes come and go nearly every year. Our family has seen big ones (some of the biggest)as well as small ones.

    Over the years, with all these hurricanes coming through every year, we’ve learned that our house is pretty sturdy and safe. It has held up for a long, long, time. Our past has told us that we’ll lose power for a while, and that we’ll have a massive clean-up to do after, but if we board everything up, we’ll most likely be okay.

    If we leave, we’ll likely go 3 or more hours away, and when the hurricane is over, the roads will be closed or blocked, curfews in place, and it will be several days before we can get back in.

    And so you’re stranded, three hours away, safe (as you would have expected to have been at home) except that now your house if flooded and damaged very badly because you weren’t there to fix the roof for several days.”

    My friend’s family is working-class poor. They hold jobs but there isn’t much left at the end of the month for extras. They stayed to try to protect what they had. It was clearly a mistake—but hindsight is 20/20.

    My friend adds that since you (we) don’t live down there, we don’t realize that shelters are typically poorly-built, over-crowded, and undersupplied, so people don’t like to go to them unless there is nowhere else to go.

    One last thing:

    She asks me to ask the critics a question(especially any of you folks who live on the west coast) “The big earthquake is coming sooner or later. Why don’t you get the heck out now while you can?

  36. She asks me to ask the critics a question(especially any of you folks who live on the west coast) “The big earthquake is coming sooner or later. Why don’t you get the heck out now while you can?

    Good question!  grin  I don’t have a good answer other than I prefer the climate of So Cal to most other parts of the States.  I suppose no matter where you live, there’s always some natural threat around.

    In light of Katrina, however, I’m adding more provisions and other survival supplies to my earthquake kit.  NOT a gun!!

    (an aside—I also spent several years living in Arkansas, where tornado watches and warnings where just a part of regular life)

  37. The older ones (like grey) look like geniuses compared to Daniel.

    Nice. Can you point to one factual error of mine in this debate, or are personal attacks all you’ve got?

    How does the mayor or gov. obtain enough choppers to evacuate a flooded city?

    The mayor had 2000 buses and an evacuation plan that called for using them. The buses are now under water because the mayor failed to follow his own city’s evacuation plan.

    Why do I have to keep repeating this to you people?

  38. Shelley, unless the “experts” are incorrect in their hypothesis, they believe they might have found a way to predict when the next big quakes are coming and where (thanks to applications of chaos theory). Supposedly, it’s less than 20 years away, and yes, given that information, I plan to be right the hell out of BC when it happens. Might even have to move down east. We’ll see.

    Last, to the hounds on Daniel’s tail here, let’s be fair to Mr. Medley here. He’s bringing up good points and he’s directing where the brunt of our blame ought to be placed. He’s not absolving Bush – even if Bush issued a “state of emergency” declaration the day it happened wouldn’t change the fact that the city itself could have done a hell of a lot more to prevent people from dying prior to the hurricane.

    Post-hurricane, of course, the ball is in Bush’s court, and for being able to sustain an army half-way across the world, he can certainly see troops and resources deployed to help get the city in order and remove the remaining residents (which, I’ll mind, should have been moved out in the first place by means of martial law). It did take him a whole and I’m sure people died on his account, too.

  39. Posse Comitatus, anybody?

    I agree.  You’re pissing in the wind by bringing it up though.  Everybody on this site is more interested in bashing whoever they have an axe to grind. Since everybody was involved in the fuck up there is plenty of material for all sides to sling it around. 

    Engaging in an open discussion about what needs to be done, which is quite substantial given the possible ecological implications, is simply less “fun” than a discussion about what needs to be done, how it should be done, and even whether it should be done.  Furthermore, I doubt many of the posters here have any fruitful ideas about how to fix the problems they have identified.  They prefer to parrot talking points from their respective sides.

  40. The Posse Comitatus Act is a federal law of the United States (18 U.S.C. § 1385) passed in 1878, after the end of Reconstruction, and was intended to prohibit Federal troops from supervising elections in former Confederate states. It generally prohibits Federal military personnel and units of the United States National Guard under Federal authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the United States, except where expressly authorized by the Constitution or Congress.

    I would agree with you except for several issues.  First of all, posse comitatus refers to using the military in a law enforcement role.  Rescue missions are not of necessity a “law enforcement” role.  Secondly, the Administration has shown no compuctions on infringing, changing or altering the Constitution and the Bill of Rights when it suits them.  Everything from the Patriot Act (and related Executive Orders), to the Terry Schiavo case, to DEA federal agents raiding medical marijuana clinics that are authorized by state law.  In addition, according to Wikipedia the following are all exceptions to the PCA:

    National Guard units while under the authority of the governor of a state;
    Troops when used pursuant to the Federal authority to quell domestic violence as was the case during the 1992 Los Angeles riots;
    The President of the United States can waive this law in an emergency;
    In December 1981 additional laws were enacted (codified 10 USC 371-78) clarifying permissible military assistance to civilian law enforcement agencies—including the Coast Guard—especially in combating drug smuggling into the United States. Posse Comitatus clarifications emphasize supportive and technical assistance (e.g., use of facilities, vessels, aircraft, intelligence, tech aid, surveillance) while generally prohibiting direct participation of Department of Defense personnel in law enforcement (e.g., search, seizure, and arrests). For example, Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments (LEDETS) serve aboard Navy vessels and perform the actual boardings of interdicted suspect drug smuggling vessels and, if needed, arrest their crews.
    Under 18 USC 831, the Attorney General may request that the Secretary of Defense provide emergency assistance if civilian law enforcement is inadequate to address certain types of threat involving the release of nuclear materials, such as potential use of a Nuclear or Radiological weapon. Such assistance may be by any personnel under the authority of the Department of Defense, provided such assistance does not adversely affect US military preparedness.

      BTW, Consi, excellent post on the other thread.  I agree with you 100%.  Culpability starts at the local and extends all the way to the feds.  This includes Congress itself- both Dems and Reps especially because they could have authorized the troops to be active right away since the Admin was too busy with its vacation to be bothered.
      As for what can be done.  This type of storm is going to become more common and sea levels are continuing to rise.  All of the officials involved need to be held accountable, regardless of party.  The FEMA head needs to be made back into a cabinet level office with the tools to act quickly to a situation that is obviously much too big for local officials to handle.  In addition, the head of FEMA should be appointed from competent people with the proper experience, especially in organizing large amounts of resources.  It appears that global warming is now making the soil release more CO2 than previously.  People need to start considering moving population centers further away from the coast.

  41. This includes Congress itself- both Dems and Reps especially because they could have authorized the troops to be active right away since the Admin was too busy with its vacation to be bothered.

    Wrong. It was legally up to the governer to request the fed troops. As far as the National Gaurd is concerned; those are under control of the governer. She had the legal power to activate and place them as she pleased from the get-go but didn’t do it.

  42. Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.  18 U.S.C. § 1385.

      They could have had it passed within one day just as they did for the “Schiavo Law” and immediately taken control.  In addition, under the exceptions, the president as well could have waived the law- not even requiring an Act of Congress.  Once again- search and rescue does not necessitate law enforcement activities.  Delivering food and water is not a law enforcement activity.

  43. I was half joking with my “Bush should have just sent the military…” comment in the Bush To Oversee Probe thread, but I’d much rather see the military used for saving lives rather than taking them.

    warbi made some great points. Thanks, warbi

    Consi said: Furthermore, I doubt many of the posters here have any fruitful ideas about how to fix the problems they have identified.  They prefer to parrot talking points from their respective sides.

    I have some suggestions:

    1) Don’t live in danger prone area unless you enjoy being challenged.
    2) Utilize sensible plans for structures. Ideally structures on the coast should be made of concrete and REBAR and shaped more like an igloo than a big square box. Water-proof cellars would make a lot of sense too.
    3) Let the Mississippi River run free; it’s going to anyway.
    4) Have true federal solutions for rescue and recovery and use them immediately. If you create a department that is solely in charge of these things, they had damn well better know what they’re doing and they’d better do it or they should be answerable to public lawsuits and/or criminal charges.
    5) Never put Arabian horse lawyers in charge of Homeland Security. If any federal department requires the best we’ve got, this one does.
    6) The president should never take more than 24 hours to get back to Washington unless he is stranded in the hurricane blasted area too.
    7) Suck up to science. It’s going to save your ass someday – guaranteed!

    That’s what I’ve got off the top of my head. Imagine the solutions I could come up with if I were paid to.

  44. oops, meant to say “Never put Arabian horse commissioners in charge of federal emergency management…”

  45. Brock,

    I pretty much agree with your post but I’d also add;

    8)If you’re a local official like a mayor follow your city’s evacuation plan and utilize however many buses you have to aid in the evacuation.

    9)If you’re the state governer of an effected area make sure your officials DO NOT turn back a caravan of Red Cross trucks carrying food and water:

    Louisiana officials told the American Red Cross not to plan to go into New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit to provide relief to residents at the Superdome — and also refused help from the organization before the storm hit.

    As its workers evacuated the city before the storm, the Red Cross offered to drop off food, water, cots and other emergency supplies to the Superdome, but officials declined the supplies, Red Cross spokeswoman Carol Miller said Thursday. The Red Cross was aware that the Superdome was a refuge of last resort for people who couldn’t evacuate New Orleans.

  46. warbi,

    I’m glad to see someone actually knows about the act. grin  I’m going to tell you that I get scared about blurring the lines for the military.  There are reasons for not blurring the lines, and when you do so for one case, it becomes easier to do so.  I know slippery slope argument, but some slopes are just damn slippery.  As a conservative, the last precedent I want the admin to set is that we want the president to use the military to keep the peace.  Yikes!!

    I know the 82nd Airborne is in NO and that the leadership that the military has provided on the scene has been invaluable.  I just don’t like the idea of one of our soldiers facing the possibility of having to return fire upon U.S. citizens, even those engaged in criminal activity.  Nothing good can come from that.

    Brock:

    I wasn’t referring to you.  You and I may be worlds apart politically, but your heart is always in the right place. This is reflected in your posts, even in your rants. I would second your suggestions, and although I doubt the President being in Washinton instead of a ranch has any great impact on the substatantive issues involved, it has a huge symbolic impact.  Sage political advice to every President.

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