Thursday, September 8, 2005
First, Rahul Mahajan of Empire Notes has some choice words in his recent radio address:
As a major city lies underwater, thousands of dead rot, and tens of thousands of the living starve and dehydrate, a country's autocratic ruler at first continues his vacation, declines generous offers of foreign assistance, and then minimizes the tragedy.Dispatches from the Trenches is no less scathing:
After a growing outcry, said autocrat switches gears, visits the affected area on a special set constructed for a photo-op, diverting or grounding rescue efforts while he's there, and makes sure to go nowhere near the masses of refugees.
His vice president goes on with his vacation while the country goes through its biggest disaster in nearly a century and his secretary of state shows her concern by shopping for $7,000 shoes.
As soon as the disaster hits, the autocrat's cadre of lickspittle sycophants jumps into action, trying to shift the blame from an increasingly unresponsive, bureaucratic, arrogant, and authoritarian government to the unworthy victims of the disaster and their supposed propensity for violence, theft, and general immorality.
Had this happened in North Korea or Saddam Hussein's Iraq, everything would have fit perfectly into America's effortless demonology, and it would simply have reinforced our views of how everything really is in this best of all possible worlds.
Instead, it happened right here in America. So stark are the realities of the Great Flood of New Orleans and the subsequent response that, for a few days, even the hysterical self-congratulation of a culture that has lost any ability to understand itself was halted – although it seems to be reasserting itself.
This disaster almost defies analysis, certainly in anything short of book length, but a few things have become clear:
In the days to come, people across the country will be searching for answers. They won't get them from what laughably passes as the political opposition in this country. They'll get them from the left or from nobody.
- Until Thursday, three days after Katrina made landfall and two days after the levees were breached, the overwhelming primary concern of the administration was the effect of the disaster on gas prices nationwide. Even in the most cursory inspection of the president's words on Thursday itself, this fact jumps out, perhaps most strikingly in the following sentences: "In our judgment, we view this storm as a temporary disruption that is being addressed by the government and by the private sector. We've taken immediate steps to address the issue," which are immediately followed by a list of steps relating to oil and gasoline. At first, a truly nonsensical statement – the drowning of New Orleans is a "temporary disruption" – it gains clarity when one remembers the president's speech patterns and cognitive abilities. He and his cabinet had just been feverishly discussing the price of gasoline, and had decided to say that the storm had caused only a "temporary disruption" in the supply of gasoline. As is his wont, Bush simply robotically repeated that phrase without giving context.
- FEMA's primary concern in the first days of the disaster, and, frankly, even in the last few days, was to assert its authority over state and local forces rather than, say, helping the victims of the disaster. According to Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, on Meet the Press: at one point on Saturday, FEMA came and cut the emergency communication lines of the Jefferson Parish sheriff's office; the sheriff restored them and posted armed guards to protect them against FEMA.
- There is the first opening in ages (9/11 was another one, but a very difficult one) for a serious national dialogue about race, but it won't be easy. The divergence between the left's understanding of race and racism and that of the mainstream has never been wider.
- The particularly disgusting autocratic, incompetent, reflexively government-destroying Bush administration is particularly to blame for this response. But blame is shared much wider, as well. This is an indictment of late American neoliberal capitalism in no uncertain terms and of the reflexively individualistic bent of this entire society. The most striking example is the fact that there was no evacuation plan – the residents of New Orleans just left in their cars, clogging up the highways and, even though there was plenty of space in those cars, leaving behind the 100,000 least able to ride out the storm – but there are many others. This is also the first opening we've seen to talk about the systemic problems with capitalism, instead of just the symptoms.
Between Wednesday morning and Friday night, ships loaded with food, water, and medical supplies arrived. FEMA refused to allow them to be off-loaded. Michael Brown then ordered the communications lines cut that tied emergency workers together.
Shortly before midnight, the Bush Administration essentially delivered an ultimatum to Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco: before they released the emergency supplies, they wanted her to sign the city of New Orleans over to the Federal government.
Pay attention to the bolded section: use of the Insurrection Act means that Bush wanted to declare martial law in New Orleans.
The reason given above is one possibility but there are others.
Gov Blanco refused to accept Bush’s proposal because she knew it was tantamount to approving martial law, and on Saturday moved to separate the efforts of the state of Louisiana from those of the Federal government. Among other things, she hired James Lee Witt, the experienced and competent ex-Director of FEMA who had an unblemished record of success—and whom Bush had fired in favor of Joe Allbaugh, Bush’s ex Chief-of-Staff, who had little or no experience in managing disaster relief but was a proven loyal Bushie—to lead the state’s disaster relief efforts.
- Bush’s concern wasn’t centered on helping the starving and homeless refugees in New Orleans but on protecting private property in the suburbs from potential ‘looters’. The refugees were poor and black and the conservative view of them is that they’re all dangerous ‘rabble’—lazy, shiftless thieves; a mob.
- Because his view is that the poor and black are little more than a mob, he was expecting an insurrection and wanted the authority to put it down by force.
- Declaring martial law would give the Federal government total control of the city: the Army would be brought in to police it and—perhaps most important to this corporate president—the Federal government would have charge of all the rebuilding contracts, giving it $$$billions$$$ to hand out to its corporate sponsors.
- There’s also the little matter of taking decisions about how and what to rebuild out of the hands of the people of New Orleans and putting them into the hands of people who see New Orleans as ‘Sin City’, effectively ensuring that New Orleans would never again be the Big Easy.
With Blanco protecting her independence and the shitstorm of criticism reaching fever pitch on Saturday, the White House was finally forced to release the supplies that had been held up for as much as three days and order in more than a token force of NG troops. At that point, the Blame Game started.
Ace White House PR hack Dan Bartlett went on television to claim that the delay was Blanco’s fault.“The federal government stands ready to work with state and local officials to secure New Orleans and the state of Louisiana,” White House spokesman Dan Bartlett said. “The president will not let any form of bureaucracy get in the way of protecting the citizens of Louisiana.”Bartlett—and another ‘senior official’ who was unnamed in the report—insisted that Blanco had still not declared a State of Emergency as late as Saturday. That was a lie. Bush and Blanco had both declared a State of Emergency in Louisiana the day before the storm hit. This was reported by NPR, among others.
So at least part of the delay wasn’t due to Brown’s incompetence at all, real as that may have been. It was a direct result of Bush’s strategem: he held back critical supplies in a deliberate attempt to blackmail Louisiana authorities into letting him declare martial law. There is only one—one—reason he thought he could get away with this unconscionable act of cruelty: the victims were poor and black, not middle class and white.
Bush saw a chance to turn his class war into a military action. He wanted to declare war on the poor for real by cementing an image in the mind of the rest of America that New Orleans was full of criminals they needed protection from. In other words, he was going to use the same technique he had used to promote fear of terrorists to promote fear of the poor in order to justify military action against them and gain an enormous amount of power domestically.
He failed this time, thanks to the courage of Gov Blanco—who will no doubt pay a price for her bravery. But now we know how he’s thinking: he wants us dead or locked up. The next time he tries a trick like this, we may not have a Kathleen Blanco to protect us.
In the mean time Kos has the goods on how firefighters were used as props for the recent Bu$hCo photo op - never mind that they actually have a fucking job to do, such as saving lives. It's all about making Junior Caligula look bigger than he really is and providing him with the "all-important" "bull-horn moment". Gotta keep up those appearances. Perhaps Billmon summed it up most aptly:
It would be genuinely refreshing if some of these folks would simply come out and admit the obvious: they fucked up! Perhaps that notion is too non-PC in our day and age, but I for one would appreciate the candor. It'll never happen, of course. Place the character of Hyacinthe Bucket in an epic tragedy (rather than her British sitcom), and that's what you get from DC: it's all about keeping up appearances. We in America need to do some serious soul searching. Something is fundamentally wrong economically. The neocons and the neolibs seem to worship the invisible hand of corporate capitalism as that invisible hand gives those of us of lesser means the finger. Tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% are clearly a higher priority than actually investing in the nation's infrastructure. Until we kill off Horatio Alger once and for all, those running the various levels of our government will continue to buy into that myth. Race as an issue has never gone away in this country - and as Rahul of Empire Notes says, we have an opening to honestly look at the role of race in American society.
I guess this is what Bush was talking about yesterday when he called himself a "problem solver." But one of these days he and the Rovians really ought to take a stab at trying to solve other people's problems.
I'm just surprised they didn't shove some boots and a helmet on Shrub and stick him behind the wheel of a fire engine. Maybe with a big banner on the side: "Lets Roll!"
So what's next? Will they round up some doctors and have them tag along with Shrub while he visits patients at an emergency field hospital? (Ideally, a tidy tent full of young, attractive African American patients -- nothing bloody or threatening.) Surely that can be arranged.
Or how about a town meeting with the engineers plugging the levee breaks? They could explain what they're doing and show Shrub their plans, and he could nod his head and pretend like he understands what they're talking about. That shouldn't take more than a half a day out of their schedule. And what's another half day when most of those people have been trapped in their attics for a week already?
Then they could get all the cops, troops, doctors and firefighters -- and maybe a high school marching band or two -- together in the Superdome parking lot for a fireworks show! With Dick Cheney as MC! And Condi in her high-heeled boots and her Matrix coat!
That oughta take the media's collective mind off this pesky flood business and get it back where it belongs -- in a vegetative coma. I mean, ask anyone in the White House press corps and they'll agree: There's no business like show business.
Finally let's not forget that in a period of excruciating tragedy, stories of courage and good will throughout the region that was devastated by Katrina deserve to be told and deserve to be remembered. Humans are social animals, and as social animals we abhor a vacuum in leadership. What most impressed me from the oral history (if you will) from the affected areas was just how well folks could rise to the occasion to not only preserve themselves, but to organize and help to preserve those around them. The privileged elites of this country will no doubt think of bands of armed black men and think of the worst. I'd admonish them not to do so - as mentioned in a previous post, many of these so-called "looters" and "armed bandits" were on the contrary trying to keep those around them safe, protect them from real and perceived harm's way, and find whatever nourishment that could be found to distribute. Never forget.
Wednesday, September 7, 2005
Those with eyes who can see, and those with ears who can hear will understand what Dr. Johnson is communicating. As for the wingnut crowd: "summun, bukmun, umyun" captures their affliction.
The Bush White House is furiously spinning to lay the blame on the Governor and Mayor of Louisiana. My position is that I think both the Governor and the Mayor can be faulted on a variety of fronts. I do not absolve them of their responsibility to properly and fully implement their own emergency response plans.
However, the Governor followed the appropriate protocol and, in accordance with the National Response Plan (NRP), asked the President in accordance with the Stafford Act, to declare a State of Emergency.
Friday, 26 August 2005, Governor of Louisiana declares state of emergency
Saturday morning, 27 August 2005, Governor of Louisiana asks President Bush to declare a state of emergency and requests Federal Assistance "to save lives and property". Note, the letter was published on 27 August 2005 on Lexis Nexis but was dated 28 August 2005. Bush received the letter on Saturday and responded on the same day by declaring a State of Emergency. Note, per the NRP, William Lokey was designated as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in Louisiana.
Sunday, 28 August 2005, Mayor of New Orleans orders Mandatory Evacuation.
Note: In Governor Blanco's request on the 27th, there is a specific request for help with evacuation and a specific request for help to "save lives and protect property".
Monday, 29 August 2005, FEMA Director Brown requests DHS Secretary Chertoff's help in getting 1000 DHS employees ready to deploy to the disaster within 48 hours.
Under the National Response Plane (see p. 93, Figure 11), once the President declares a State of Emergency the Department of Homeland Security is supposed to implement the Plan. Initially, DHS is supposed to deploy an Emergency Response Team to the State to provide expertise in assessing needs and determining appropriate courses of action. Moreover, on p. 52 of the NRP the President may act proactively under the Stafford Act.Folks, these are not OPINIONS. These are cold, objective facts.
Sent: Saturday, September 03, 2005 10:13 AM
Subject: a survivor's story: Katrina in New Orleans
I heard from my aunt last night that my cousin Denise made it out of New Orleans; she's at her brother's in Baton Rouge. from what she told me:
Her mother, a licensed practical nurse, was called in to work on Sunday night at Memorial Hospital (historically known as Baptist Hospital to those of us from N.O.). Denise decided to stay with her mother, her niece and grandniece (who is 2 years old); she figured they'd be safe at the hospital. they went to Baptist, and had to wait hours to be assigned a room to sleep in; after they were finally assigned a room, two white nurses suddenly arrived after the cut-off time (time to be assigned a room), and Denise and her family were booted out; their room was given up to the new nurses. Denise was furious, and rather than stay at Baptist, decided to walk home (several blocks away) to ride out the storm at her mother's apartment. her mother stayed at the hospital.
she described it as the scariest time in her life. 3 of the rooms in the apartment (there are only 4) caved in. ceilings caved in, walls caved in. she huddled under a mattress in the hall. she thought she would die from either the storm or a heart attack. after the storm passed, she went back to Baptist to seek shelter (this was Monday). it was also scary at Baptist; the electricity was out, they were running on generators, there was no air conditioning. Tuesday the levees broke, and water began rising. they moved patients upstairs, saw boats pass by on what used to be streets. they were told that they would be evacuated, that buses were coming. then they were told they would have to walk to the nearest intersection, Napoleon and S. Claiborne, to await the buses. they waded out in hip-deep water, only to stand at the intersection, on the neutral ground (what y'all call the median) for 3 1/2 hours. the buses came and took them to the Ernest Memorial Convention Center. (yes, the convention center you've all seen on TV.)
Denise said she thought she was in hell. they were there for 2 days, with no water, no food. no shelter. Denise, her mother (63 years old), her niece (21 years old), and 2-year-old grandniece. when they arrived, there were already thousands of people there. they were told that buses were coming. police drove by, windows rolled up, thumbs up signs. national guard trucks rolled by, completely empty, soldiers with guns cocked and aimed at them. nobody stopped to drop off water. a helicopter dropped a load of water, but all the bottles exploded on impact due to the height of the helicopter.
the first day (Wednesday) 4 people died next to her. the second day (Thursday) 6 people died next to her. Denise told me the people around her all thought they had been sent there to die. again, nobody stopped. the only buses that came were full; they dropped off more and more people, but nobody was being picked up and taken away. they found out that those being dropped off had been rescued from rooftops and attics; they got off the buses delirious from lack of water and food. completely dehydrated. the crowd tried to keep them all in one area; Denise said the new arrivals had mostly lost their minds. they had gone crazy.
inside the convention center, the place was one huge bathroom. in order to shit, you had to stand in other people's shit. the floors were black and slick with shit. most people stayed outside because the smell was so bad. but outside wasn't much better: between the heat, the humidity, the lack of water, the old and very young dying from dehydration... and there was no place to lay down, not even room on the sidewalk. they slept outside Wednesday night, under an overpass.
Denise said yes, there were young men with guns there. but they organized the crowd. they went to Canal Street and "looted," and brought back food and water for the old people and the babies, because nobody had eaten in days. when the police rolled down windows and yelled out "the buses are coming," the young men with guns organized the crowd in order: old people in front, women and children next, men in the back. just so that when the buses came, there would be priorities of who got out first.
Denise said the fights she saw between the young men with guns were fist fights. she saw them put their guns down and fight rather than shoot up the crowd. but she said that there were a handful of people shot in the convention center; their bodies were left inside, along with other dead babies and old people.
Denise said the people thought there were being sent there to die. lots of people being dropped off, nobody being picked up. cops passing by, speeding off. national guard rolling by with guns aimed at them. and yes, a few men shot at the police, because at a certain point all the people thought the cops were coming to hurt them, to kill them all. she saw a young man who had stolen a car speed past, cops in pursuit; he crashed the car, got out and ran, and the cops shot him in the back. in front of the whole crowd. she saw many groups of people decide that they were going to walk across the bridge to the west bank, and those same groups would return, saying that they were met at the top of the bridge by armed police ordering them to turn around, that they weren't allowed to leave.
so they all believed they were sent there to die. Denise's niece found a pay phone, and kept trying to call her mother's boyfriend in Baton Rouge, and finally got through and told him where they were. the boyfriend, and Denise's brother, drove down from Baton Rouge and came and got them. they had to bribe a few cops, and talk a few into letting them into the city ("come on, man, my 2-year-old niece is at the Convention Center!"), then they took back roads to get to them.
after arriving at my other cousin's apartment in Baton Rouge, they saw the images on TV, and couldn't believe how the media was portraying the people of New Orleans. she kept repeating to me on the phone last night: make sure you tell everybody that they left us there to die. nobody came. those young men with guns were protecting us. if it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have had the little water and food they had found.
that's Denise Moore's story.Lisa C. Moore
Tuesday, September 6, 2005
WHAT THE WORLD has witnessed this past week is an image of poverty and social disarray that tears away the affluent mask of the United States.
Instead of the much-celebrated American can-do machine that promises to bring freedom and prosperity to less fortunate people abroad, we have seen a callous official incompetence that puts even Third World rulers to shame.
For half a century, free-market purists have to great effect denigrated the essential role that modern government performs as some terrible liberal plot. Thus, the symbolism of New Orleans' flooding is tragically apt: Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and Louisiana Gov. Huey Long's ambitious populist reforms in the 1930s eased Louisiana out of feudalism and toward modernity; the Reagan Revolution and the callousness of both Bush administrations have sent them back toward the abyss.
It is the result of a campaign by most Republicans and too many Democrats to systematically vilify the role of government in American life. Manipulative politicians have convinced lower- and middle-class whites that their own economic pains were caused by "quasi-socialist" government policies that aid only poor brown and black people -- even as corporate profits and CEO salaries soared.
For decades we have seen social services that benefit everyone -- education, community policing, public health, environmental protections and infrastructure repair, emergency services -- in steady, steep decline in the face of tax cuts and rising military spending. But it is a false savings.
Watching on television the stark vulnerability of a permanent underclass of African Americans living in New Orleans ghettos is terrifying. It should be remembered, however, that even when hurricanes are not threatening their lives and sanity, they live in rotting housing complexes, attend embarrassingly ill-equipped public schools and, lacking adequate police protection, are frequently terrorized by unemployed, uneducated young men.
In fact, rather than an anomaly, the public suffering of these desperate Americans [a permanent underclass of African Americans living in New Orleans ghettos] is a symbol for a nation that is becoming progressively poorer under the leadership of the party of Big Business.
For those who have trouble with statistics, here's the shorthand: The rich have been getting richer and the poor have been getting, in the ripe populist language of Louisiana's legendary Long, the shaft.
No, these folks are supposed to be cruising on the rising tide of a booming, unregulated economy that "floats all boats."They were left floating all right.
I'm old enough to remember an America that was much better than the one that my children are inheriting. It wasn't paradise, but the efforts to dismantle a society that valued serving others and replace that value system with one that emphasized crass greed and depravity had barely begun in my childhood. Bu$hco's approach to America is shows the values of crass greed and depravity in full flower (skunk cabbage, if you will). That's what my kids get to grow up around. As a parent I am sickened by the massive images of people of all ages dying, disoriented. The sight of abandoned corpses, starving kids - that's not something that was supposed to happen here. It's a shame that my kids get to learn that because of their social class (we're lower middle class drifting closer to the poverty line every year) that could be their fate if ever a major disaster were to befall them.
Over a week later, I am still in shock at the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.
Monday, September 5, 2005
The rebel tradition has a long history of borrowing from gospel and popular songs, from the Wobblies' Amazing Boss to Get on Board of the Civil Rights movement. Don't you weep after me is an old gospel song that has been well used, the most poignant version of which I found to be one sung during the Logan County miners' strike of 1921.
Every little river must go down to the sea
All the slaving miners in our union will be free
Goin' down to Blair Mountain, gonna whoop the company
My darling don't you weep after me
Inspired by that verse, I composed this song and put it to a chorus I had kicking around for awhile. I kind of like how the two sound together. There is a strong tradition in radical folk in almost every culture of drawing comparisons between the 'power of the people' and nature: unstoppable, stronger than their opponents, and so on… "If the boss is in the way we're gonna roll right over him." This was especially important in the struggle for oppressed groups to feel proud of their progress in the face of overwhelming opposition, and also in control of their destiny. I think we actually need to believe that el pueblo unido jamas sera vencido, but these are times which test my populist roots. Anyway, enjoy:
There came a mighty hurricane that flooded New Orleans
They said help couldn't get there—that they didn't have the means
We watched whole families swallowed up in television scenes
My darling don't you weep after me
We are a people angry
A people proud, a people free
A mighty river flowing
From the mountains to the sea
Bush went to the levee but the Devil met him there
Took 200 billion and he vanished in thin air
Now there are thousands drowning but ol' Georgie doesn't care
My darling don't you weep after me
We are a people angry...
Boats came to the rescue but FEMA sent them back
The troops that could have helped them were all over in Iraq
Do people even matter—-or was it just 'cuz they were black?
My darling don't you weep after me
We are a people angry..
GW sent the army in to calm the people's fears
They needed food and water, but they brought more blood and tears
In the name of "law and order," they shot the engineers!
My darling don't you weep after me
We are a people angry...
The people wanted answers but the government gives us lies
The anger's deep and rising—-got no time to dry our eyes
Mother Jones was right: she said 'Don't mourn-—but organize!'
My darling don't you weep after me
We are a people angry...
Impeach this sorry government and put in one that cares
That takes care of its people and won't pollute the air
Enough of loot and plunder-—revolution's in the air
My darling don't you weep after me
We are a people angry...
So don't believe the lies—-you know the truth will set you free
The winds of change are blowing and it starts with you and me
We'll build a people's hurricane from sea to shining sea
My darling don't you weep after me
We are a people angry...
Rep. John Lewis calls the response to the Katrina disaster a "national disgrace." The money quote:
We've got to do more than the $10 billion that Congress appropriated. We need a massive Marshall-type plan to rebuild New Orleans.Mary Landrieu, who'd earlier been sanguine about the Bu$hCo response to the emergency, has had a change of heart after actually spending some time at the scene of the disaster:
But in rebuilding we should see this as an opportunity to rebuild urban America. New Orleans could be a model. There must be a commitment of billions and billions of dollars--maybe $50 billion to $100 billion.
I think even in other urban centers, there are people who are just barely existing.... I've cried a lot of tears the past few days as I watched television--to see somebody lying dead outside the convention center.
I went to Somalia in 1992 and I saw little babies dying before my eyes. This reminded me of Somalia. But this is America. We're not a Third World country. This is an embarrassment. It's a shame. It's a national disgrace.
Via Crooks & Liars) (with VIDEO) Mary Landrieu to Bush: "I'll Punch Him"
Sen. Landrieu was on This Week and brought George Stephanopoulos on a helicopter tour of her the damage...
Landrieu: "If one person criticises them or says one more thing --including the President of the US -- he will be hearing from me. One more word about it after this show airs and I might likely punch him, literally."
She burst into tears as she looked at a single crane working to help repair the levees...
Landrieu..."The President could have funded it, he cut it out of the budget. Is that the most pitiful sight you have ever seen in your life?-One little crane."
One of the most heartbreaking bits of footage I saw was from CNN was an interview with the President of Jefferson Parish, who'd early suggested that Jefferson Parish would be better off seceding from the nation given the lack of timely federal assistance:
Broussard: "We have been abandoned by our own country."I'd also heard an interview at one point with the mayor of Hattiesburg Mississippi, who'd basically said that the FEMA "response" to his community was little more than a joke. Just reading a bit about the actions that Al Gore took to bring some some of the survivors of the New Orleans catastrophe to Tennessee. I'll say this much: I may not have been all that impressed with Gore in 2000, but I have little doubt that there would have been some actual leadership from the White House had Bush not been selected in Dec. of 2000.
The tear-filled eyes of Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard as he was interviewed by Tim Russert on today's Meet the Press:
"... The guy who runs this building I’m in, Emergency Management, he’s responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, “Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?” and he said, “Yeah, Mama, somebody’s coming to get you.” Somebody’s coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Friday… and she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night! [Sobbing] Nobody’s coming to get us. Nobody’s coming to get us..."
MR. RUSSERT: Mr. President...
MR. BROUSSARD: Nobody's coming to get us. Nobody's coming to get us. The secretary has promised. Everybody's promised. They've had press conferences. I'm sick of the press conferences. For God sakes, shut up and send us somebody.
MR. RUSSERT: Just take a pause, Mr. President. While you gather yourself in your very emotional times, I understand, let me go to Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi.
I'm right now watching William Cohen (a Republican, btw) who is on Wolfie's show on CNN being very critical of the response to the disaster. He notes that this kind of catastrophe was unforeseeable, and that the DHS was apparently very ill-prepared for this kind of natural disaster. Katrina is referred to as "nature's weapon of mass destruction" by Cohen.
Sunday, September 4, 2005
The title from a quote by Maureen Dowd. Some other quotes and factoids below:
The gang of idiots inhabiting the White House can't seem to foresee much of anything in the way of consequences of their approach to governing (if you can call it that). About all the bunch of goons in the White House can do is to pass the buck. I was watching HSD's Chertoff on Saturday afternoon continuing to make excuses at his latest press conference. Where's the leadership? Aside from the crass attempts at photo-ops, Bush is truly all hat and no cattle. Condi Rice is too busy buying expensive shoes. Cheney? MIA. Speaker of the House Hastert? He couldn't be bothered to show up to vote on the emergency aid package. His excuse? More fundraising for the GOP. People are dying, but, by golly the GOP has more money for its campaigns next year! Glad these folks have their priorities straight. That's your "leadership."
"I don't think anyone could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center."
Condoleezza Rice - May 17, 2002
"And the PDB was no indication of a terrorist threat. There was not a time and place of an attack... Had I known there was going to be an attack on America, I would have moved mountains to stop the attack. I would have done everything I can. My job is to protect the American people... And had there been actionable intelligence, we would have moved on it."
Bush - April 11, 2004
"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."
Bush - Sept 1, 2005
"Thank God, George Bush is President"
Jerkoff Giuliani - Aug 30, 2004
"George Bush LOST NEW ORLEANS!"
Pat Buchanan (on The McLaughlin Group) - Sept 2, 2005
"It's fair game for the Democrats to attack the president at this time”
Ed Koch – Sept 1, 2005
No one is blaming Bush for causing Hurricane Katrina to happen. I have serious doubts that the man can control his bowel movements let alone control the vast forces of Mother Nature. Bush and his henchmen can be taken to task for the choices they've made, especially given that those choices have had dire and life-threatening consequences for so many people. The same pattern that we've seen unfold in the aftermath of 9/11 and Iraq is unfolding in the aftermath of this hurricane. Folks had tried to warn this White House about impending disaster, Bush went about doing whatever the hell it is he does and his cronies went about their business looting the nation's treasury, and sure enough disaster struck. All we get are empty words like "we couldn't see it coming" or "stay the course" or "trust us, we know what we're doing." We've seen it over and over again during the last several years. We're seeing it now. Just as there was ample reason to be concerned of a potential major terrorist attack in the summer of 2001, just as there was reason to be concerned about the potential for all manner of chaos to ensue after the invasion of Iraq, there was reason to be concerned that the gulf coast infrastructure was vulnerable to a major hurricane and would sustain catastrophic damage if the feds didn't prepare. And aside from the Louisiana state government and the municipal leaders in the New Orleans metro area, no one seemed to give a damn. With a hurricane heading right at New Orleans, Louisiana Gov. Blanco had done the right things to get the appropriate support - including accepting offers of National Guard troops from other states. She did these things in advance, and what happens? The Federal Government sat on the paperwork that was apparently needed to make that help happen! And what happens when some trickle of belated relief finally does arrive? It gets halted during the Preznit's photo-op on Friday. Apparently, as I read somewhere Saturday (I'll try to find a link), the basic FEMA plan for evacuation assumed that the evacuees would have cars, sufficient cash on hand or credit cards available, and places to stay - which was not the case for a substantial portion of the people affected by the storm. That ain't a plan: that's a death sentence. If these folks had got off their asses (as Mayor Ray Nagin had admonished in a heartbreaking interview) a long time ago, I'd wager there's a good probability that the aftermath of Katrina would have been bad but far less dire.
In the meantime, if you happen to live in an area that might be affected by any sort of natural disaster, such as a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, volcano, flood, brush or forest fire, dust storm, etc., God help you, because the federal government that is supposed to serve you in all likelihood won't.