Katrina

by Ted on January 5, 2006

I just followed a link in our comments to a fascinating post from theorajones at True Blue. She wrote this back in September:

Every middle-class mother hears “immediate evacuation” and “5 days in the Superdome” and thinks, “Jesus Christ, I have no idea how much water I would bring for 5 days. Is it 5 gallons? Ohmigod, where are our passports? Do I have to bring the kids’ birth certificates? What about the deed to the house? Would I have time to get my mother’s jewelery out of the safe deposit, or is that selfishness that’s going to kill my children?”

Tell her that she’s got to evacuate without a car, and she’ll start shaking her head. Tell her she’s gotta do it in 18 hours, Grayhound and Amtrak are shut down, it’s 250 miles to get out of the hurricane’s path, and she’s got $200 bucks in her pocket, and every soccer mom will know with certainty what every soccer dad doesn’t get—that it’s impossible. Flat out impossible.

Matt Welch was the first journalist that I saw questioning some of the Katrina-related rumors about “dysfunctional urbanites too depraved to be saved.” He recently received an email from a contractor who was sent in to help rebuild. Take it with a grain of salt, but do go read it:

The one thing that haunts me the most is that when they finally started door to door search and rescue they would spray paint the front of the building, and it would contain the date of the search, who performed the search, how many were found dead, and how many were found living. As you probably know the flood waters came in on August 29-30. I can’t even begin to count how many homes that we saw that were not checked for survivors for the first time until the 24-26 of September. I would just like to know why it took almost a month to check these homes for survivors? There were people who starved to death because they could not escape their attics, and the resources were there to help them. THEY LET PEOPLE DIE!

{ 58 comments }

1

Barry 01.05.06 at 2:34 pm

Look, the final death toll is pretty small, only barely into four digits. In George W Bush’s New America, that’s not even worth discussing, except by American-hating traitors.

2

john david stutt 01.05.06 at 2:59 pm

Barry is right. Especially since the victims were mostly black AND democrats. I’m surprised it even was on the news.

3

Steve 01.05.06 at 3:11 pm

Take it with a grain of salt, and end it with THEY LET PEOPLE DIE! ? This is, literally, pure and classic propaganda (not propaganda=words that I don’t like, but propaganda=intellectually dishonest emotional manipulation).

Steve

4

John Emerson 01.05.06 at 3:15 pm

They say that once the dust has settled, Lousiana will be a much more solidly Republican state.

What’s intellectually dishonest, Steve? (I ignore your meaningless “emotional manipulation” filler phrase).

5

Uncle Kvetch 01.05.06 at 3:18 pm

What’s dishonest about it, Steve? If the sentence that precedes it:

There were people who starved to death because they could not escape their attics, and the resources were there to help them.

is true, then it’s not dishonest. You can object on stylistic grounds; call it overwrought, if you have a strong objections to all-caps, but not dishonest. If you question the factual accuracy of that sentence, on the other hand, you should let us know why.

6

Uncle Kvetch 01.05.06 at 3:18 pm

JE and I are on the same page here, I see.

7

kharris 01.05.06 at 3:25 pm

To move from the big topic for just a moment, I have neither patience for nor trust in anyone who lards up their little essay with things like -

“…every soccer mom will know with certainty what every soccer dad doesn’t get…”

“Soccer” is just to sound current (though it no longer is), and to distract us from the chauvinism. This carp did a survey of soccer moms and dads, right? Oh, maybe not. This is just bile, packaged as thought.

8

Steve 01.05.06 at 3:30 pm

The urge to ‘take a post with a grain of salt’ while simultaneously ending that post with capitalized “THEY LET PEOPLE DIE” is intellectually dishonest. It is spreading an idea, meme, charge, simply via publishing it, which the author of the post himself suggests isn’t trustworthy. And spreading a self-identified untrustworthy post, in the manner in which it was done (ending with THEY LET PEOPLE DIE, capitalized, to emphasize not the rational aspect, but the emotional aspect) is ‘emotional manipulation.’-it is propaganda in the classic sense (propaganda: the spreading of ideas, information, or RUMOR for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, cause, or a person).

Steve

9

Steve LaBonne 01.05.06 at 4:42 pm

Steve, pehaps you’re too dim to have noticed that “THEY LET PEOPLE DIE” was not part of Ted’s post, but was written by the contractor, an eyewitness observer. The contractor made a factual claim. If you can refute it, go ahead. If not, you’re wasting bandwidth.

10

abb1 01.05.06 at 4:53 pm

Would I have time to get my mother’s jewelery out of the safe deposit” sounds kinda weird to me. I don’t have a safe deposit.

11

Ted 01.05.06 at 5:31 pm

Steve, man, did you really come to a political blog to complain about someone spreading ideas, information or rumors to help or injure an institution, cause, or a person? Do you go to strip clubs to complain about all the nudity?

12

Brett Bellmore 01.05.06 at 5:31 pm

In the poorest neighborhoods, I dare say their were probably enough vehicles for everybody to have evacuated, using car pooling. And they let their neighbors die.

Why blame somebody a thousand miles away, when somebody not a thousand feet away could have saved the life?

13

yabonn 01.05.06 at 5:39 pm

Why blame somebody a thousand miles away, when somebody not a thousand feet away could have saved the life?

Giblets is that you ?

… And, if it is, could you tell me what happened to the templar in the basement?

14

engels 01.05.06 at 5:39 pm

Why blame somebody a thousand miles away, when somebody not a thousand feet away could have saved the life?

That gets the prize for the best argument I have ever seen from a “libertarian” for never blaming the government for anything.

15

Bernard Yomtov 01.05.06 at 6:27 pm

In the poorest neighborhoods, I dare say their were probably enough vehicles for everybody to have evacuated, using car pooling. And they let their neighbors die.

Yeah. Lots of two-car families and the like in those neighborhoods. And the people with kids all have minivans, so there was plenty of extra room.

Why blame somebody a thousand miles away, when somebody not a thousand feet away could have saved the life?

Maybe because the person a thousand miles away could have saved it, and would have saved it if he’d done his job.

16

Steve 01.05.06 at 6:57 pm

“There were people who starved to death because they could not escape their attics, and the resources were there to help them. THEY LET PEOPLE DIE!”

Note: You are suggesting that 1) the burden of proof is on those of us who don’t believe that the ‘government’ (I guess Bush, Cheney, and the National Guard-maybe FEMA too?) didn’t intentionally allow Katrina victims to starve to death, and 2) making this accusation is normal political discourse.

You folks are nuts.

Steve

17

eudoxis 01.05.06 at 7:45 pm

I see considerable progress toward actual events. We’ve switched from the superdome to attics.

18

Tom T. 01.05.06 at 7:53 pm

Plenty of people died in their attics, but a quick search of Google News does not yield up any stories of starvation deaths in connection with Katrina.

Could it be that perhaps the later markings on the houses were part of some other sort of search, rather than a search for survivors?

19

Randy Paul 01.05.06 at 7:55 pm

Boy, I hate to try to engage someone like Steve who apparently believes that this administration is above criticism, but let’s remind him of some of the comments made by the FEMA Director while people were dying:

“If you’ll look at my lovely FEMA attire you’ll really vomit. I am a fashion god.”

On Tuesday, August 30, the day after the hurricane struck, Mr. Brown sent this e-mail to his assistant, Tillie James: “Do you know of anyone who dog-sits? Bethany has backed out and Tamara is looking. If you know of any responsible kids, let me know. They can have the house to themselves Th-Su.”

This was around the time the president said, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”

Just like the August 6, 2001 PDB, there’s no sense of personal responsibility in Bush-Cheney world. Shit just happens and the chips fall where they may.

20

Brett Bellmore 01.05.06 at 8:12 pm

Well, why WOULD there be any significant number of starvation deaths associated with Katrina? It takes time to starve to death, you know, and unless people had gotten a good start on it in advance of the hurricane, they’d have barely gotten a serious case of *hungry* by the time orderly society was reestablished. You might easily have seen some deaths from *contaminated* food and water, but starvation? Not terribly likely.

21

Tom T. 01.05.06 at 8:21 pm

Re #20: Well, the e-mail’s claim is that orderly society (as represented by an authoritative search-and-rescue) was NOT re-established in certain areas for several weeks, judging by the markings on the houses. I suppose it’s possible that there are starvation victims still among the dead who have not yet been identified and released, such that we won’t hear about those deaths until later.

22

Bitch | Lab 01.05.06 at 8:29 pm

heh. Daniel Davies will ‘love’ me for this, but she’s probably got less than 18 hours given the nature of hurricane prediction, given the refusal of businesses to shut down, and given the fact that, where I live, it would take 56 hours to clear out Tampa Bay alone. Were a “big one” coming, it’s even longer. They can’t predict a hurricane that far in advance.

And while it turns out that many people had cars, it’s more likely that their biggest problem was money and worries about taking time of from work.

And let’s don’t even get started on the gas shortage. There’s not a hurricane in this region that isn’t accompanied by empty gas stations 24 hours before predicted landfall.

When Charlie was supposed to hit (2004), the working class and poor people I knew couldn’t even get off from work early enough to get to the grocery store when the shelves were still shocked. When it missed, people (since they often live paycheck to paycheck) didn’t have food in the house because when they got their paychecks, the store shelves were emptied.

You haven’t seen craven behavior unless you’ve seen people with cash and credit cards preparing for a hurricane. :)

23

Pooh 01.05.06 at 8:36 pm

Gee Brett, why didn’t the electrician who wrote the original letter distinguish between starvation, dehydration, exposure, drowning or contamination? I mean he is an electrician, he should know that stuff.

24

Peggy 01.05.06 at 8:40 pm

Dying of thirst generally occurs long before death from starvation, especially in burning heat. Whether people died in attics from one or the other, because FEMA could not organize search and rescue until weeks later is not the point. Steve and Brett, the letter describes people who died who could have been rescued. George Bush and his supposedly lean and certainly inept administration are responsible.

25

Oskar Shapley 01.05.06 at 9:02 pm

Steve,

it’s intellectually dishonest from you, or dumb, if you will, not to follow that link and Read. The. Freakin. Rest.

Here, let me make it easier for you. The next paragraph is … :

Up until the day that I left to return home, they were finding bodies on a daily basis. One day in particular they found a family of 10 dead in the attic of their home. On another occasion I ran into a camera crew from NBC. They were being escorted by two New Orleans police officers. As I talked to them I told them that they needed to come down to [the] 9th ward because no one was showing the things that we were seeing on TV. They told me that they had been trying to get into that neighborhood but were not allowed past the military checkpoints. As I talked to these people one of the police officers rudely interrupted me and as he chuckled he asked me “So, how many niggers you seen floating down there? Those people got exactly what they deserved! That place should have been leveled years ago!” I couldn’t believe what I had just heard, I just turned around and walked away. […]

Like I said, I just want to tell my stories — and I have plenty more — to as many people that will listen. […]

So what now, Steve? Will you deny it ever happened?

26

BigMacAttack 01.05.06 at 9:21 pm

http://crookedtimber.org/2004/02/03/punk-the-national-review/

Not quite the same thing but close enough.

Patrick Surtain’s father had a car.

http://www.nfl.com/teams/story/KC/8817376

In every story, I read, a car was not the issue. Pets and old age induced orneriness seemed to be the main factors.

One group sees animals another group sees helpless bobbing corks or infants.

Neither group is right.

Sure the dead were culpable in their own deaths. But I am not sure why or how, that should make me any less eager, to wish they could have been saved. And I am uncertain, as to why we shouldn’t hold the federal agency responsible, for responding to just such emergencies, culpable for it’s incompetence.

27

Uncle Kvetch 01.05.06 at 9:29 pm

I think I’m getting the hang of it now.

News: “One thousand people are dead.”

Propaganda: “ONE THOUSAND PEOPLE ARE DEAD!”

How’d I do?

28

sara 01.05.06 at 10:38 pm

A depressing footnote: Theora’s blog is infested with comment spam, mostly for dodgy products.

When everybody dies of some plague or other, or from the nationwide failure of American civilization, the spambots will go on talking to each other for a little while.

Political spambots, too. Serdar argic?

29

almostinfamous 01.06.06 at 12:36 am

man sara, that’s just plain screwed up. and here i thought I was the depressive

30

Sebastian Holsclaw 01.06.06 at 3:31 am

“As I talked to these people one of the police officers rudely interrupted me and as he chuckled he asked me “So, how many niggers you seen floating down there? Those people got exactly what they deserved! That place should have been leveled years ago!””

“THEY LET PEOPLE DIE!”

The problem is that ‘they’ isn’t the Bush administration. ‘They’ should have been mostly the city and state governments–both of which were so corrupt and incompent as to let Bush’s administration look practically pristine.

31

John Emerson 01.06.06 at 7:48 am

Here’s Sebastian, being high-minded and cogent again. The best the Right has to offer!

I’d be perfectly willing to throw the local Democrats into the pot, because they’re right-wing and famous for corruption. No skin off my ass. But their guilt doesn’t in any way make the Bush administration less culpable; this really isn’t a game of Old Maid where only one side can lose.

According to my theory of government, national disasters are declared when the problem is big enough to overwhelm local authorities, as in this case. And government has an obligation to help people out during emergencies and disasters — even black people and people who show bad judgement. This theory of government is not new and untried. It’s been standard practice in most of the developed world for over a century.

But there are people among us who want to introduce a new, entirely different theory of government, accoridng to which central government plays little role in emergencies except to maintain order (with the help of the Gretna police) and assign blame to the victims.

32

Tom T. 01.06.06 at 8:04 am

Re #25: The claim of ten people found dead in one attic ought to be checkable. Can some reader with Nexis access try to confirm?

33

Tim Worstall 01.06.06 at 8:47 am

#23 and #24. Well, actually, the starvation issue does make a difference. Dehydration can kill in a day or two (in a crowded attic), as can exposure, contamination and drowning (well, faster as well).

People who died of these things might (note might) have died on the 30th, 1st, or 2nd.

People would not have died of starvation on those dates (unless they were already so malnourished as to be near death already).

So the claim of starvation as to the cause of death is important, because it would directly show that these live people had died as a result of the near month delay. Other causes might mean the delay killed them, might just mean it delayed the finding of their bodies.

No, this isn’t an attempt to defend Bush, Brownie, Nagin or anyone else. It’s just that the very specific claim of starvation, given the length of time lack of food takes to kill someone, points to even more astounding incompetence than even I would believe of governmental action while the not finding of bodies that had been dead several weeks would not.

The condition of the corpses would answer the question of course. Anyone know if they’re doing autopsies?

If indeed some deaths were as a result of starvation then even I would join the Delong call for impeachment, if not for a few salutary executions.

34

NeoDude 01.06.06 at 10:21 am

“Survival of the Richest.”

35

theorajones 01.06.06 at 10:52 am

Yep, the spambots are new. Figuring out how to delete them. Of course, that takes second priority to figuring out how to update CT’s linked post so I can offer visitors links to my favorite posts, in case they have more time to burn.

And, um, updating the site which I haven’t done since 9/05. Due to, um, the coma I was in. Yep, a coma. That’s why I didn’t publish!

36

jet 01.06.06 at 12:47 pm

Some blame can be shifted from FEMA as FEMA had told the city that their evacuation plan wasn’t feasible and that it needed to be revamped. True to the nature of .gov in LA, the company paid to come up with a new plan basically ran off with the money. Even the pathetic plan that FEMA had nixed wasn’t even put into action by the worthless mayor. All those school buses under water were supposed to have been staged north of the city and used for evacuation.

Unless you want to abolish local governments and have the feds run everything, there has to be a limit as to what FEMA is responsible for. And handholding the locals through creating an evacation process seems like a good limit to draw. Forcing the locals to implement the plan seems like it probably crosses the line.

37

John Emerson 01.06.06 at 1:11 pm

Sounds like our libertarian friend Jet is advocating “Not My Department” bureaucratic thinking.

Without necessarily accepting all his premises, when a jurisdiction’s emergency plan has clearly broken, down, the federal government should do what it can to take up the slack. Jet apparently would have them stand there doing nothing (after having issued press releases explaining who was to blame).

38

jet 01.06.06 at 2:16 pm

And our devoutly left-wing friend John Emerson is advocating a Federal government agency arbitrarily deciding it’s own Constitutional boundries. For someone who attacks Bush at every corner for circumenventing the rule of law, you certainly have little respect for it when convenient.

Being a quasi-libertarian, the federal government did exactly what I expected of them (and just like they’ve done after every other hurricane), they failed miserably. At lesat with local authorities, there are some good and some bad. If the feds were in charge everywhere, they’d be uniformly poor.

39

satire 01.06.06 at 3:15 pm

I met a Katrinian about a week ago. She was, of course, very distraught about the whole thing. Being curious, I did ask her about something that has bothered me about some of those who could have left but decided to stay behind, which is that they were afraid to leave their pets. Telling her story on the verge of tears, she told me she had considered bunkering down for that very same reason. That is until her eldest son called and used profanity and his justified anger to shock her back to reality. Only after she had been reoriented to what was really at stake did she pack her bags and leave town.

40

abb1 01.06.06 at 3:42 pm

http://www.thinkprogress.org/katrina-timeline

Saturday, August 27

GOV. BLANCO ASKS BUSH TO DECLARE FEDERAL STATE OF EMERGENCY IN LOUISIANA: “I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments, and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster.” [Office of the Governor]

FEDERAL EMERGENCY DECLARED, DHS AND FEMA GIVEN FULL AUTHORITY TO RESPOND TO KATRINA: “Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.”

41

yabonn 01.06.06 at 3:42 pm

By the way, it’s nifty that i can see what i type as i type it. Would be nifty too if i had a filter gizmo, to avoid the usual bozos’ comments.

Not that hard, maybe? Calling all Geekier than I?

(Theme of the week : ” the resistible usenetification of blogs”.)

42

james 01.06.06 at 4:00 pm

It is really quite simple. If you are conservative or Republican, the disaster in New Orleans was caused by a complete failure of local and regional governments. If you are a liberal or Democrat, the disaster in New Orleans was caused by a complete failure at the federal level.

This conversation would have been much more interesting if it had including any sort of discussion involving the division of responsibilities among the various level of government. Perhaps discuss the procedural and legal steps necessary for the various governmental bodies to become actively involved. Maybe even look at the areas where a break down of the system caused serious issues.

43

Sebastian Holsclaw 01.06.06 at 4:33 pm

“Sounds like our libertarian friend Jet is advocating “Not My Department” bureaucratic thinking.”

No, the issue is that you should try to give responsibility to those who A) have easiest access to the specialized knowledge necessary, and B) have lots invested in having a positive outcome.

Because FEMA theoretically deals with lots of disasters, it is well positioned to give good general guidelines. The details which take into account local specifics ought to be placed in the hands of locals whenever possible because they know most about the specific local problems. In other words it makes sense for FEMA to say things like “You need to provide lodging for on average X% of the people when engaging in a full evacuation because the hotels will be filled and not everyone will have totally left the area”. It makes more sense for the locals to decide that those people will go to locations A, B, C and D via roads R, S and T. After the disaster, it makes sense for the logistics of getting things to a city like New Orleans (which they did to varying degrees of success, and which could form a proper criticism of FEMA) while it makes more sense for locals, who know where people are likely to be and how to get there, to deal with things on a neighborhood to neighborhood level.

44

BigMacAttack 01.06.06 at 5:14 pm

Satire,

Meet real life.

http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/09/09/katrina.survivors

Let me produce the relavent section -

‘Before Katrina hit the Gulf Coast on Sunday, August 28, Debbie said she hadn’t paid much attention to the warnings and didn’t want to evacuate without the family’s pets. “I never once dreamed … I just thought it would be a little wind and rain and then it would just blow over.”

The family had lived in the three-bedroom house on Arts Street for 13 years. Melissa Harold, the grandmother, moved in several years ago after Debbie’s husband died. They lived with three dogs, a cat, a guinea pig, a gerbil, six hamsters and a parakeet.

“My mom told us we weren’t leaving because wherever we went, we couldn’t bring our animals with us,” said Tiffany, who wants to be a veterinarian and mourned leaving behind the pets, including those buried in the back yard.’

45

John Emerson 01.06.06 at 10:07 pm

Yeah, for the Feds to intrusively help save lives in NOLA would have been a violation of the constitution on a par with illegal surveillance of American citizens. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Certainly during a state of emergency no one should ever do more than they have been assigned to do.

Try again, jet.

The loathesome thing about this is that all along Bush has been using a 9/11 “state of emergency” to bully Congress and override all constitutional protections.

But we still have bots here willing to argue that an actual state of emergency, in New Orleans, should NOT be treated as a state of emergency, but should be handled according to assigned routine.

Jesus fuck, aren’t libertarians fun?

46

John Emerson 01.06.06 at 10:17 pm

After the fact it certainly makes sense to evaluate the local response and assign responsibility. At the time, in the midst of the disaster, doesn’t it make sense for the feds to be proactive and do what has to be done, and let the details be sorted out later. (This isn’t adversarial, you know; it’s not like the hurricane’s rights will be violated by unnecessary intervention, or that a big lawsuit from the hurricane will come out of it).

Jet is in sych with the Bush administration about one thing. Jet believes as dogma that federal intervention would be no good in any case, and the Bush administration is doing it’s damnedest to give jet evidence for his dogma.

Luckily for the Bush people, our conservatarian friends have by and large avoided speciifics of what the Bush people did and didn’t do. Philosophical gassing is great if you want to divert attention from actuality.

Bicmacattack succeeded in finding someone in his own stupidity class! Let’s all give him a round of applause!

47

Luc 01.07.06 at 4:07 am

(Theme of the week : ” the resistible usenetification of blogs”.)

Hey, don’t diss USENET. No blog can beat rmmgj yet for knowledge and being interesting to follow. (And no public p2p service is as fast, if you’ve got half a decent ISP)

And yes, blogs could use a killfile standard. And a resurrection of Emily Postnews -

(From the early 1990’s)

Q: They just announced on the radio that the United States has invaded Iraq. Should I post?

A: Of course. […]

No better predictor of the blogosphere as Emily.

48

jet 01.07.06 at 9:58 am

John Emerson,

I don’t think you are seeing the difference between preparation before the hurricane and then response after the hurricane. At least I hope you were misunderstanding and not just creating straw men for your own amusement.

So yes I fault the feds for the pitiful response during the flooding, but not nearly as much as you do. The set of responsibilities they had changed 180 degrees when the levies broke (from support and supply to rescue and security), and it is an article of faith deep in my heart that government is the least flexible institution ever created.

And because all of the blame has been shifted to Bush (at least by those who matter), the government of LA will not change. The most corrupt state, city, and police force in the Union will remain as it was before. Because they’ll be able to blame Bush and FEMA, just as everyone else is.

49

John Emerson 01.07.06 at 11:13 am

Jet, all of the blame has not been shifted to Bush, except in your paranoid mind. The hurricane has almost been forgotten. A few people who weren’t already Bush-haters blamed Bush for it, and this was one of the very large number of nonfeasances and malfeasances in various areas which have caused his popularity to drop, but basically nothing happened and nothing will happen. Even the hapless Brownie has not suffered significantly for his incompetence; he’s just changed jobs.

Because it is an article of faith deep in your heart that government is just plain no damn good, you will never, ever, be able to distinguish between better government and worse government, nor will you ever try to, and you will actually cheerlead “anti-government” governmental leaders like Bush or Schwarzenegger who deliberately sabotage government in order to increase the mindless anti-government cynicism of the blind, ignorant masses of little jets out there.

Everything that was not done, or that was done badly in NOLA, has been done well elsewhere in the world. Most of Holland is below sea level, for example. Grand Forks was destroyed by a wintertime flood a few years back, but that was under Clinton, not Bush, and it was white people, so the government reponse was adequate. Downstream in Winnipeg damage was slight, because the jackbooted, parasitical thugs of Canadian Communism had used the tax dollars of the poor, helpless Manitobans to force them to prepare for a big flood which no one could prove was even going to come at all.

50

jet 01.07.06 at 3:46 pm

John Emerson,

So what you are saying is that the federal government, before the hurricane hit, should have forced LA to better prepare for the possibility of disaster? Because I just want to be clear about this.

51

John Emerson 01.07.06 at 5:34 pm

The Army Corp of Engineers had responsibilities in NOLA which it did not meet.

I’m not going to argue whichever point you’ve decided is the main one here. There were multiple ways in which the Bush administration’s pre-Katrina efforts were defective by any standard. You’ve chosen to highlight one case where you think the locals were worse and the Feds had no constitutional responsibility.

But along the way you made a number of excessively general, dogmatic, ideological statements in 38, 43, and 49 which led me to believe that we weren’t talking about anything specific, and that I was just dealing with version 1001 of the same old libertarian rant. I responded accordingly.

52

John Emerson 01.07.06 at 5:53 pm

But let me discuss your chosen topic.

Katrina was win-win for you, of course. You were able to zing the local Democrats, and at the same time use the Bush administrations self-serving nonfeasance justify your view that the federal government is no damn good.

And you have invented a hodge-podge of constitutional and practical reasons why certain reponsibilities are ideally local rather than federal. You have puffed this up into a silly claim that for the feds to have done more than they did before Katrina would have been terrible thing, even though it might have made outcomes better.

You’re not talking about one of the important Constitutional fed-state boundaries. There are various things the feds could have done in the face of incompetent local government, and none of these would have sent the federal system crashing to the ground. The role of the federal government has a lot of flex no matter which party is in power, and deciding what that role is to be is one of the main things we elect Presidents to do. As I understand, your opinion is that the Bush administration decided wisely in this case, but looking on the results, I’d say that your opinion is crap.

53

jet 01.07.06 at 7:33 pm

Katrina was win-win for you, of course.

You are a disgusting ass and I’m done with you.

54

John Emerson 01.07.06 at 10:21 pm

Thank God! But if you keep posting at CT I’ll keep answering you.

55

Don 01.08.06 at 1:31 am

jet,

Pay no attention to John. He is a retired courtesy clerk (i.e. cashier) who never achieved anything what-so-ever in his life. He failed out of college, is divorced, and his only kid is a nutcase failure who thinks strumming a guitar while he drools is the height of artistic style. He lives in poverty and whiles away his days getting into intense internet arguments with people who are actually productive and sane.

56

abb1 01.08.06 at 5:10 am

The US government ignores the plight of the poor. I’m shocked, shocked, this has never happened before.

Hey, it rhymes, I wrote a poem. Cool.

57

theorajones 01.08.06 at 6:27 pm

lol. Ad hominem, the first refuge of scoundrels.

I don’t care if you think the federal government is no good. Whether you like it or not, this is the only level of government that can respond to a crisis of these proportions. Think for a second about what happened in New Orleans–massive physical damage to buildings and roads, loss of the entire energy infrastucture, followed by massive flooding. A catastrophic hurricane releases the same energy as 10-15 atom bombs. There’s a reason people compared Katrina’s path to a war zone.

I’m sorry, but it’s downright nuts to pretend that the appropriate policy approach is for a city mayor to MacGyver his way out of this situation. At the end of the day, he’s got 1500 cops and, what, 1,000 firemen? Sure, in this crisis the mayor made mistakes, but a parking lot full of school buses weren’t ever going to get the job done.

A plan that relies on locals to protect our nation’s largest port city during a crisis of this magnitude is as obviously inadequate as a plan that relies on a little boy sticking his finger in the levees to keep the water back.

This was a crisis we’ve known for years was coming. Putting unqualified cronies in charge of the agency responsible for dealing with this crisis suggests that one is not serious about fulfilling one’s responsibilities during the coming crisis. Staying on vacation for three days while these cronies fail to realize this is a catstrophe and respond accordingly suggests that one is not serious. And allowing your administration to focus its energy on siezing powers you do not need and failing to execute a response using powers you have been given to respond to precisely this situation demonstrates that your administration is mindbogglingly incompetent.

The fact of the matter is that under other presidents, the federal government has responded well to crises like this one. Saying “federal government bad” really does not excuse this incompetence, especially under a President who has campaigned by saying that because of him, you’re safer now than you were 4 years ago.

Katrina is EXACTLY the kind of crisis where Presidential leadership matters–before, during, and after the crisis. And we saw in this President that his idea of leadership isn’t about getting results, it’s political–it’s about passing the buck and spinning the press. Neither was possible in Katrina.

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jet 01.08.06 at 8:37 pm

Theorajones,

The fact of the matter is that under other presidents, the federal government has responded well to crises like this one.

How do I say this politely…I don’t think you’ve actually read about other hurricanes and the timeliness of FEMA’s respones. Katrina’s response was on par with all the others, which were similarly pitiful. Bush deserves to have his nose rubbed in Katrina, and he certainly put an unprepared person in charge of FEMA, but local responders have always been the ones who end up saving lifes and probably always will be. Federal institutions end up running like well oiled watches that have been hit by a hammer.

Sure, in this crisis the mayor made mistakes, but a parking lot full of school buses weren’t ever going to get the job done.

Yeah, having 500-1000 buses fueled, with drivers ready, staged in Baton Rouge would have been completely worthless. Why I bet you could only get 20 or so people on each bus. And large population centers with large police forces, to keep the bigots from complaining about new neighbors, were all of 3 hours away.

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