Democrats & Liberals Archives

Mitigating Future Katrinas

We can’t prevent hurricanes like Katrina from hitting America. But we can mitigate the disastrous aftermath of such storms. To accomplish this we need to have a firm and complete understanding of everything that led to the horrible results we witnessed in New Orleans and other cities on the Gulf. Republicans in Congress favor a so-called “bi-partisan” joint-House-Senate investigation committee. Democratic leaders insist they will not appoint any members to such a white-washing committee. They insist that only an independent commission, such as the 9/11 commission, can be trusted to do a good and useful job.

We have been going through the blame game. Each party blames the other. But there are enough horror stories around to blame almost every one who was involved in the recovery. There are inspirational stories as well. But what we sorely need now is a comprehensive and objective evaluation of what happened and how our response was initiated and developed. Also, we need clear recommendations on how to prepare for future Katrinas and other disasters.

Republicans want a "bi-partisan" committee to investigate. Democrats believe that such a committee, run by Republicans, would produce nothing but Republican spin. It is ridiculous to suppose that a Republican government can objectively investigate a Republican government. It makes absolutely no sense.

Still, Republicans are going ahead with their white-wash plans. But I am happy to say, that both Democratic leaders, Reid and Pelosi, are standing firm and refusing to appoint anyone to the cynically-motivated "bi-partisan" committee (or committees).

A committee ruled by Republicans is not a "bi-partisan" committee. This whole Republican scheme is a farce. Nothing but an independent commission will do.

We need an independent commission for the Katrina fiasco just as we needed an independent commission for the 9/11 catastrophe. And for the same reasons. The 9/11 catastrophe demonstrated a national security vulnerability. The Katrina fiasco demonstrated another national security vulnerability. Only a thorough investigation by a non-partisan group of people - environmental, engineering and disaster experts, as well as out-of-office political people - will do.

In order to mitigate the results of future Katrinas we must have an independent commission. Please call on President Bush, your congressman and your senators and tell them.

Posted by Paul Siegel at September 20, 2005 5:47 PM
Comments
Comment #81653

Independent investigation is the way to go if you want to assign responsibility, restructure those responsibilities, and deliver a plan that attaches responsibility to positions and individuals in Government whose charge is gov’t. response.

If you want to waste time and money, not assign blame or responsibility and avoid planning that attaches responsibility, then a bi-partisan committee made up of ass-coverering current officeholders is the only way to go.

An independent investigative commission is not a guranatee that gov’t. will be forthcoming in providing needed information, but, is the best guarantee that can be had. Anything less is a waste of tax payer dollars.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 20, 2005 6:07 PM
Comment #81655

Paul,

You say there’s plenty of blame to go around, then you say:

“It is ridiculous to suppose that a Republican government can objectively investigate a Republican government.”

Republicans weren’t the only ones who messed up. So, if that’s your reasoning, then it just seems like Democrats obstructing government processes once again.

Besides, I’ve heard complaints from all sides about the conclusions and the honesty of the 9/11 commission, so what makes you think this one would be any more satisfactory? The Dems would still say it was all the Republicans’ fault and the Reps would still insist it was all the states fault, and the really important findings of the commission would still be ignored. Or do you believe the 9/11 commission has actually made us safer?

Posted by: Stephanie at September 20, 2005 6:08 PM
Comment #81663

So, I guess Paul is saying that all the bi-partisan committees that were put together when the Dems were in power were worthless and obstructive in nature as well…

I sincerely doubt it…

You cannot get pure objectivity in any person, it simply does not exist.

Posted by: Discerner at September 20, 2005 6:27 PM
Comment #81668

The reponse was bad in New Orleans and the surrounding area. You don’t hear much about it being bad other places.

BTW - it looks like more people died as a result of the heat wave in Europe last year than this hurricane, so don’t jump too fast on the bigger government wagon or you might get something like that. About 12000 people died over there because nobody bothered to check on them. It was vaction time after all. No excuses could be made for flooded infrastructure.

Heat wave

Posted by: Jack at September 20, 2005 6:54 PM
Comment #81672

Paul,
Besides the Democrats and Republican Parties wanting beat each other up on who and how Katrina’s screw up will be investigated, they need to force the States to change their Building Codes. This lack of concern and oversight is the very reason that we are paying such a high bill.

IMO not even a dime should go to rebuild a dog house with these funds until the States require that EVERY BUILDING replaced or repaired meet or exceed CAT 5 Hurricanes. Ever since Andrew, we have held the states recieving FEMA Funds to this standard on the East Coast, yet it seems like the Gulf States have bypassed this requirement. Instead they have elected to make it voluntary.

Well, we don’t need a commission to tell us that we could of saved Billions if the funds given over the last 10 years to the Gulf States would of been used to build CAT 5 homes and offices. Maybe, we really do need to rethink if we need to pay anything for Katrina.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at September 20, 2005 7:32 PM
Comment #81693

Jack:

Maybe the reason they never checked-up on them is because that high a heat wave never happened before. It would also be significant if such deaths due to heatwaves were a constant occurance. How many Europeans have died due to heatwaves since the great tragedy you are shilling?

BTW, nice try diverting the topic to an irrelevant one. Your Karl Rove training is worth every cent.

Posted by: Aldous at September 20, 2005 9:20 PM
Comment #81719

The same federal organizations and infrastructure that screwed up with Katrina are responsible for handling catastrophic terrorist attacks. It just amazes me that Republican partisanship leads them to bury their heads in the sand over national security. That’s just completely irresponsible.

Good article, Paul. An independednt inquiry like the 9/11 Commission is the way to go, and I’m proud to see my Democratic representatives standing tall to make sure a disaster like the Katrina response never happens again. I wish I could say the same for Republicans.

Posted by: American Pundit at September 21, 2005 2:55 AM
Comment #81721

Will we wake up in time? Or is it already becoming too late? Heat wave in Europe? Catastrophes across the globe? What will it take?
We are destroying our planet and another hurricane is already here. Typical, I think not.

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Hurricane Katrina may encourage greater awareness of global warming in the United States, but the prospect of any policy shift by Washington can be ruled out in the near term, environmentalists say.
For the time being, Americans are understandably focussed on the human tragedy of the August 29 storm as well as its estimated 200-billion-dollar bill.
But Katrina may also sow the seeds of a debate on global warming’s possible role in the disaster, on the deeper causes of climate change and on America’s own responsibility for the problem, they suggest.
“There’s certainly been a heightened level of writing and editorialising, but it’s too early to tell” about its political impact, said Katie Mandes of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, a Washington advocacy group.
“People are asking the right questions, but the focus right now is on short-term problems, on getting people settled.”
Steve Cochran of the organisation Environmental Defense said “there is a greater awareness” about global warming as a result of Katrina.
But it’s “not clear yet” whether this awareness would eventually translate into political action, he said.
Global warming is deemed by environmentalists to be the biggest threat to the planet.
But tackling it has been a headache, for action entails weaning economies away from the fossil fuels that cause the problem, and this carries a cost.
By itself, the United States, a profligate energy user and where mobility is almost considered a right, accounts for a quarter of global greenhouse-gas emissions.
After taking office in 2001, President George W. Bush walked away from the UN’s Kyoto Protocol pact to curb the so-called greenhouse-gas emissions, caused by burning oil, gas and coal, which trap solar heat and thus warm Earth’s surface.
Bush not only questioned the scientific evidence for global warming — he also said that pledges made by his predecessor, Bill Clinton, would be far too costly for the oil-dependent US economy to implement.
His actions made him a bogeyman to greens, especially in Europe.
No scientist would pick out Katrina, an individual event, as being caused by global warming, and many note that gaps remain in our knowledge of climate change.
But the mounting evidence is that global warming is already causing Earth’s fragile climate to change — and hurricanes, pumped up by warmer water in the tropical western Atlantic, may be becoming more vicious and possibly more frequent too.
That possibility has been given a wide airing in the US media and by US politicians in the past three weeks.
But at present there is almost no talk in the United States about addressing the roots of the problem.
Right now, the emphasis is on beefing up coastal zoning regulations and building codes and restoring natural wetland buffers in order to reduce the human toll to hurricane-prone areas.
In the mainstream media, no voices are heard that call for tougher gasoline efficiency standards or curbing carbon pollution spewed by coal and oil plants.
Americans are “geographically illiterate and historically illiterate,” said Troyt York, president of the American Institute of Urban and Regional Affairs, which promotes sustainable development.
“If you talk to them about global warming, they have no idea.”
Bush will remain steadfastly opposed to Kyoto’s binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions, and promote his strategy of a voluntary approach.
He has been pushing this approach hard in international fora ahead of a critical meeting in Montreal in November that will start to shape the next pact on greenhouse gases after Kyoto runs out in 2012.
At the state level, some US states are pushing ahead with their own agenda on global warming in the absence of a more vigorous federal response, said Cochran.
But a long road lies ahead.
To curb America’s addiction to cheap carbon-based energy requires political leaders who will inform the public about the dangers of climate change and encourage them to make sacrifices, for the global as well as the national good, said Cochran.
“What has been lacking is a strong sense of urgency that would push the political leadership into action. It’s going to be a test of our country,” Cochran said.

Posted by: Donna at September 21, 2005 3:19 AM
Comment #81737

AP,

Were you satisfied with the results of the 9/11 commission?

If yes, why aren’t we safer?

If no, why do you think a Katrina commission would be more successful?

Posted by: Stephanie at September 21, 2005 10:17 AM
Comment #81740

Katrina it seems will now be the barometer for measuring disaster of any kind in this country.

Natural disasters are a way of life in many areas of the country. Coastal areas have Hurricanes, Tsunami’s, beach erosion and, while not necessarilly a natural disaster, oil spills.

Inland areas, mostly the mid-west but now occurring virtually anywhere have Tornadoes.

Agricultural areas have drought, insect plagues.

There are floods due to excessive rain and inadeqaute drainage.

Others include ; mudslides, forest fires, an occassional volcanic eruption, avalanche and the dreaded earthquake.

Urban areas have smog and air pollution.

People who choose to populate areas that are prone to natural disasters are taking a risk that the disaster will not happen. They are virtually wrong every single time and deserve to bear the cost of rebuilding and property loss.

There needs to be regulations preventing a rebuild necessary because of the impact of a natural disaster unless proper building codes can be met and enforced. Insurance companies encourage building in high risk areas by promising reimbursement which, in many instances does not happen.

IMO it makes no sense to expect that a government agency such as FEMA can prepare to act against this nationwide disaster risk.

Secondly, we have some 13 million illegal immigrants in this country and, some naturalized citizens with ties to countries with which we are at odds. Each day the media in some way advises these people how to hurt us by polluting our water, contaminating our food supply, altering our medications, where is the best place to put a bomb to do the most damage and so on. The Internet allows these people additional access to damaging information.

It makes no difference who investigates where and to whom to assign blame for Katrina. There is little meaning to whether there is an independent committee of bi-partisan people. (The committee members will have their own political leanings anyway.)

Posted by: steve smith at September 21, 2005 10:40 AM
Comment #81743

A commission? Commissions do nothing. The Dems will blame the pubs, the pubs will blame the dems in the end nothing will happen. Something we can make happen for free.

Posted by: chantico at September 21, 2005 11:26 AM
Comment #81748

Stephanie-
The effects of the 9/11 commission are neither instant, nor complete. Not all the recommendations of the committee have been followed, nor does the Bush administration want to follow them. There’s a reason they had Ashcroft try and pin blame for the infamous wall on one of the commissioners (that despite the glaring fact that he took until way after 9/11 to lower it himself, and that it predated her by two or three administrations)

This business about the heatwave is a distraction, which intentionally posits loss of life as the major problem to distract from a death toll that is still rising after having crested a thousand. Even the worst heatwave doesn’t destroy a single building. People might, in its midst, but that’s different from nature taking a hand.

Besides, if you prepare to respond quickly to a hurricane, there are synergistic improvements possible in responses to other disasters, like extended heat waves. The same troubles that bedevil one, will bedevil the other.

The right seems to be using the old canards about subjectivity, the chaotic nature of such events to pose the notion that none of this could have been prevented, and that looking closer at what happen would do no good.

They fail to realize that these two notions are challenges to be surmounted, not obstacles to quit at first sight of.

Of course nobody’s objective, nobody’s perfect. But there are degrees between complete objectivity and complete subjectivity, and likewise between perfection of competence, and imperfection.

What we must realize here is that we can refine subjective impressions towards a more accurate consensus, and by dint of wisdom and experience improve our handling of other unpredictable but largely similar incidents. The Republicans are unhealthily focused on the blame portion of the investigation, and completely neglect the behavioral aspects of it. Instead of learning from this catastrophe, the GOP is largely just trying to normalize it’s political image.

Which is why we need an independent commission. We need somebody who is looking into the behavior of the system, rather than simply trying to exaggerate or diminish political impact.

I’m with any Republican who has the guts to say that what was done before, during and after Hurricane Katrina is as important as who it was done by, and that treating this disaster as only a political opportunity or crisis to the neglect of the storm’s hard lessons will only cause greater death and destruction later.

If the climatologists are correct, these kinds of storms are going to become a regular occurence during summers for the next few decades. It’s the highest and most useless cowardice not to confront the real issues of what went wrong, and prepare for it. Unless we want to reduce the Gulf Coast states to penury on a permanent basis, and suffer the economic consequences of the loss of all those ports and cities, we had better get on the ball.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 21, 2005 11:59 AM
Comment #81750

Ah Yes… GLOBAL WARMING. Another Gift the Republicans gave us.

Posted by: Alfdous at September 21, 2005 12:15 PM
Comment #81763

Katrina was so like…last month.

Rita’s now a Category 4. Yeah baby!

Posted by: Nikita at September 21, 2005 1:08 PM
Comment #81772

Aldous

Come on! When the heat gets so high that some people are dying, reasonable authorities might guess that others might too. 12000 people dying from heat is a slow motion disaster. If you criticize the U.S. for suffering 1/12 that many deaths in the face of one of the biggest natural disasters we have ever faced, you might at least wonder how organized French could let 12,000 die in something so easily avoided.

It is not a diversion to point this out. Paul intentifies a problem and calls bigger government the solution. I just show why it is not.

Posted by: jack at September 21, 2005 1:58 PM
Comment #81783

Jack-
You haven’t shown anything because it is not the size of government that plays a role, but combination of circumstance and that government’s capabilities, given its resources.

Europe is a fairly temperate country. Temperatures they would consider warm there would seem unseasonably cool to folks like me, living where humidity approaches 100% and the temperature often reaches the 90s. We have the benefit of having built our city and its suburbs around air conditioning. The french, on the other hand, are use to an average summer temperature of 76 F., which makes Air Conditioning unnecessary. Chicago, too, experiences summer temperatures about ten degrees colder than Houston’s

The real question here is this: Were these cities used to being this hot? No. That’s what made it a disaster. For Houston, it’s typical. Heatwaves are relative disasters.

Hurricanes, though, are disasters wherever they go. A storm surge will overwhelm most economically feasible buildings. Category 5 and tornadic winds, similarly so. The thing that bears understanding about the difference between these disasters is that these heatwave blanket entire regions for days to do their damage, while Hurricanes like Katrina are short and sharp in their shock. Additionally, if people can get folks to emergency care, the death rate goes down considerably with Heatwaves. Hurricanes kill a lot of people fast, and pile on total destruction of necessary infrastructure, including electricity, sewage, and water. A Heatwave might overload the power grid, but it won’t destroy the power lines.

A heatwave ceases to be deadly when it stops. Katrina, weaks afterwards, still poses a threat to life and limb.

The real question here is how long this latter part of the disaster lasts, or even if it is permanent. The question here is where the commitments of the president and his people are. Are they committed to dealing with this disaster, or are they trying weasel their way out of having to make the potentially politically unpopular call for sacrifice from their base.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 21, 2005 2:56 PM
Comment #81784

Europe is a fairly temperate continent. France would be the fairly temperate country. My apologies.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 21, 2005 2:57 PM
Comment #81787

“The Republicans are unhealthily focused on the blame portion of the investigation”

Probably because since day one, the left has been saying how BUSH, not Katrina, killed thousands of people.
Instead of looking for what Bush did wrong, how about looking at what everybody did wrong and try to fix it so it doesn’t happen again.
If people REALLY care one cent for the victims, they will quit trying to make it about politics and start making it about human life.

Posted by: kctim at September 21, 2005 3:08 PM
Comment #81792

kctim-
The thing is, one obvious example of that behavior pops right out: the federal response. Even Republicans thought it was terrible. Bush was ultimately the lead on that response, and where was he? On vacation until a couple days afterwards. Anybody with a bit of policy sense would had the president in Washington two or three days before. Folks knew this was going to be pretty bad from the outset.

Additionally, other bad choices can’t help but fall at his door: burying FEMA in the Homeland Security department, underfunding it, and picking political advisors, associates, and allies rather than experienced experts as the folks to lead the agency.

All of these mistakes are practical, not political, in nature. Anybody who committed them was doing something wrong, and should have known better. We should not deny obvious behavior, nor fail to hold those who committed those mistakes liable for their actions. The fact the president has felt compelled to take responsibility for this mess should indicate how real his failure was. It’s not something he would have done if his people didn’t feel he had few alternatives.

But yes, we need to get farther than that. The
White House culture was just one of many that failed the tests of Katrina. If you can quit being resentful of the fact that Bush is taking so much flak over this, you might be able to admit to some of the problems there, rather than gloss over them because you’re trying not to get sucked into an unwinnable argument. Blame is inherent in accountability. Somebody has to be able to accept it, or otherwise folks in the system will just shamefully pass the buck.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 21, 2005 3:22 PM
Comment #81795

The task is nearly impossible. I learned this from research I did on Radiation Accident Preparedness while in Grad School.

Essentially, there are more potential accident scenarios than can easily be identified. Hurricanes are not the all and end of it. At the moment we’re focusing on hurricanes. And that’s brought to attention deficiencies of existing levees near populated areas.

And we’ve all heard about the various terrorist options - bioweapons, chemical weapons, and ‘dirty bombs’. But who had predicted that Anthrax spores might be sent through the mail? Or that terrorists might hijack jet planes and use them as bombs?

Part one of the problem is that there are too many potential accidents to identify. Until something extraordinary happens, few people if any will have predicted such events might occur.

Part two of the problem is the real back-breaker. If a particular scenario has a one in ten thousand chance of occurring, how much money are various governmental, public, and private agencies willing to spend on preparedness?

The clearest picture surrounds nuclear power generation. Because of ‘China Syndrome’ meltdown fears, nuclear power plants are incredibly expensive to build and maintain. The only two significant accidents in the history of nuclear power plants were at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. That is based on roughly 40 years of experience at several hundred power plants worldwide. At Three Mile Island the so called ‘fence post dose’, or the amount of radiation received by dosimeters at the plant boundary were wholly insignificant. Interestingly enough, the cause of the Three Mile Island accident hadn’t been anticipated earlier. A gauge that measured water flow to the reactor core said there was water flowing into the system in error - the reactor core didn’t have enough water to cool it or moderate the rate of fission. And the Chernobyl accident couldn’t happen in North America because we know better than to design a reactor that’s moderated by solid carbon and then to not build a ‘containment vessel’ around it. But accidents like these two isolated events have caused the public and government to demand so many redundant safeguards and emergency plans that the cost of nuclear generated electricity is far more expensive than might be with lesser safeguards. (Read the ‘Rasmussen Report’ for details.)

The bottom line is that nobody is willing to spend billions of dollars on accident scenarios which have a very low probability of occurring. Leastwise, not until after they occur. But once they’ve occurred, its too late. With such a low probability of occurrence, spending money on preparedness after the event doesn’t make sense - at least not to a statistician.

Our’s is a reactive society. It would make far more sense to work towards preparedness in advance of a disaster, but complacency cannot be overcome. Why do so many people live near major faults in California, or near active volcanoes in Oregon and Washington? People are not willing to make changes when the risk is very low. I believe a national lottery could generate funds for disaster preparedness - people are willing to believe that they might win the lottery when the odds of winning are one in thirteen million (as per the Powerball). But they are not willing to believe that something with a much lower chance of occurrence, such as a collapse of the Hoover Dam (which would create a catastrophe for Las Vegas) might take place. Politicians question why we should spend a billion or more dollars a year in preventing accidents at dams near densely populated areas, although the odds of a disaster are far more likely than the odds of winning a lottery jackpot. And there are likely THOUSANDS OF POTENTIAL DISASTERS waiting to occur in the US that have the potential of killing hundreds if not thousands of people. So it would take many hundreds of billions of dollars to prepare for all the accidents and acts which we can predict. The money being spent on the Gulf Coast recovery effort could have more wisely been spent on prepredness before the accident, so that New Orleans, Gulfport, and other coastal cities wouldn’t have been devastated by hurricane Katrina.

As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. But aside from accident preparedness specialists, most people aren’t willing to believe that.

Posted by: Jeff G at September 21, 2005 3:53 PM
Comment #81801

“If you can quit being resentful of the fact that Bush is taking so much flak over this”

Thats not what bothers me. The fact that the fed’s could have done better is a given. But so is the fact that the left is trying to use it as political ammo.
It never should have been about political gain, it should only be about lives.

“rather than gloss over them because you’re trying not to get sucked into an unwinnable argument”

I’m not glossing over anything and it’s not an unwinable argument, its a senseless one.
The left blames Bush because he’s a Republican and the right blames the local Dems. Same ole song and dance.
As with most disasters, mistakes were made and actions are being taken to correct them, I hope.

Posted by: kctim at September 21, 2005 5:02 PM
Comment #81803

Stephen,

You admit that the 9/11 commission didn’t solve the problem, but say that the Katrina commission will. What has changed? What has made a difference?

As our government is now, I don’t think either a commission or a bi-partisan committee will actually affect much change, which is truly very unfortunate. However, if it is a bi-partisan committee that does the investigation, those in Congress that are a part of the committee will see first-hand what kind of problems occurred, which may be enough to motivate them all to do something to fix it. The 9/11 commission did nothing of the sort, and I don’t see why we should repeat that mistake with a Katrina commission, when we’re much more certain of having repeat disasters like Katrina than we are of 9/11.

“I’m with any Republican who has the guts to say that what was done before, during and after Hurricane Katrina is as important as who it was done by, and that treating this disaster as only a political opportunity or crisis to the neglect of the storm’s hard lessons will only cause greater death and destruction later.”

I agree, no matter which party it is. However, I do not see how a commission would effectively affect change. Why do you believe this?

“Heatwaves are relative disasters.”

What makes it a disaster is the death toll, not the nature of the disaster. If we were to have a storm of soap bubbles that poisoned a large number of people to death, it would be a disaster…not because it was an unexpected attack of soap bubbles, but because it killed a large number of people. If we had a storm of soap bubbles that didn’t kill anyone and only did minor property damage, it wouldn’t be considered a disaster, even though it was a freak event.

The example shows that France (who some Dems really look up to) messed up worse then we did, even though they had more time to react to the dangerous conditions. So, if Dems look up to France, and France “killed” more people, even though they had more time to react and prevent these deaths, then obviously our reaction and the consequences thereof weren’t “so bad” and the Dems should recognize and admit this.

Now, the really question with these statistics isn’t whether they’re applicable to this discussion, but whether holding ourselves to the standards of France is something we really want to be doing. Do we want their unemployment rate? Do we want their tax rate? Do we want their natural disaster death rate? My answer would be no. They did worse then we did…so? We should have done better then we did, irregardless of how well or poorly the French did.

“We should not deny obvious behavior, nor fail to hold those who committed those mistakes liable for their actions.”

If Dems were more willing to recognize the BLAME that should be placed on THEIR own, then the Reps wouldn’t be so resistent to the placing of blame that appropriately belongs to Bush. It goes both ways.

Dems are insistent that it was BUSH’S job to make sure those people were safe, and their governor and mayor had nothing to do with it. Granted, this is NOT all Dems, but there are some very loud ones saying this exact thing, even here on Watchblog. So…if you want to scream about accountability, you got to scream it to all involved, not just Bush, FEMA and Brown.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 21, 2005 5:15 PM
Comment #81805

Right now, instead playing the game, we might try to concentrate on what happens next. Rita is now a Cat. 5 and heading towards Texas.
Any positive thoughts about what you think should be done BEFORE it hits? Now’s the time to step up and say what you believe CAN be done, instead of using hindsight to criticise what has happened.

Posted by: Linda H. at September 21, 2005 5:18 PM
Comment #81806

Right now, instead playing the game, we might try to concentrate on what happens next. Rita is now a Cat. 5 and heading towards Texas.
Any positive thoughts about what you think should be done BEFORE it hits? Now’s the time to step up and say what you believe CAN be done, instead of using hindsight to criticise what has happened.

Posted by: Linda H. at September 21, 2005 5:18 PM
Comment #81811

kctim,
With the President and Congress proposing to rebuild the Gulf States after Katrina and Rita, Americans need to take the time to demand that the funds be used to build the area back “Totally Green.” With building codes and designs like Florida Green Building and NSBSH in Orlando, Florida have already proved that the technology exists. Therefore, the President and Congress should hold the states responsible for requiring that the funds and loans be used to promote such activities.

Even Daily Kos wrote a very good article on this very subject on Sept. 6, 2005. Yet, not once have I heard the President or any other elected officials even mention the idea in public. Do they even know about this information? With global warming, economic worries over fuel for the future, and the political will in favor of environmental changes in our society. This issue offers the “Prefect Political Storm” for a third party candidate to make a stand. Even the main stream media would jump on the band wagon given the events of the last few weeks.

So where is all this third party candidates that wanted to run America now? The Libertarian Party is silent, The Reform Party is silent, and even The Green Party is silent over the largest political debate so far this century. For many Americans are looking for a hero to step forward and take this bull by the horns. Our Children deserve us to bring forward the debate in a political manner and they can not wait until the next Presidential Election. Maybe it is time to create a real political party that is not scared to confront the issues and offer sound economic solutions that will put America back in front of building a “Better World” for all the Children of Humanity. I just wish that I had the experience & funds necessary to bring on that political debate today.

The Reconstruction of The New South is and will be a large part of the Mid-terms elections in these states and if a political party wants a chance to win the Whitehouse in 2008 than they need to begin taking on the Democrats and Republicans on this very issue. Great business opportunities coupled with great employment opportunities for All American Consumers are abound while we can still help support those industries that helped build this great Nation. By using cutting edge thinking a real political party can and will stump out the strangle hold the Democrats and Republicans have on our lives.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at September 21, 2005 5:31 PM
Comment #81814

Right now, instead playing the game, we might try to concentrate on what happens next. Rita is now a Cat. 5 and heading towards Texas.
Any positive thoughts about what you think should be done BEFORE it hits? Now’s the time to step up and say what you believe CAN be done, instead of using hindsight to criticise what has happened.

Posted by: Linda H. at September 21, 2005 5:40 PM
Comment #81815

oopppss! I meant blame game.Sorry.

Posted by: Linda H. at September 21, 2005 5:41 PM
Comment #81819

Linda H.
You asked what could be done before Rita hit the mainland. Well, President Bush could request that NOAA begings Cloud Seeding like was done in the early 60’s. However, that idea was given up on because the unkown effects such things would have on the environment.

However, Texas knew in 1998 that A Class 5 hurricane striking Galveston, Texas and moving inland is estimated to inflict $42.5 billion in damages Source I just hope that than Governor Bush enacted the same building codes that Florida did after Andrew. Yet, even looking at State of Texas Standard Mitigation Plan approved by FEMA in 2004 does not make it clear that even new buildings must meet this hugh stanards. In fact, on page 39 it qoutes that” regulate zoning and to adopt Cat 5 Building Codes has never been successful.” end quote. So who is to blame for the estimated damage if the worse case scenerio plays out? Maybe after this summer, the Democrats and Republicans will learn that an once of prevention is really worth more than a pound of cure.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at September 21, 2005 6:37 PM
Comment #81821

Stephen

The heat wave point is just to show the relative response. A heat wave is uncommon, but not unknown in Europe. It is not much of a natural disaster in the great scheme of things. It doesn’t knock down any buildings. It doesn’t wreck roads and it doesn’t destroy the ability of the authorities to do anything. The hot weather killed 12000 French.

We had a hurricane that devastated an area as big as Britain and completely wiped infrastructure off the landscape. The death tolls are still not known completely but it looks like less than 1000. I am not saying this is a good result. The government failed. But it doesn’t follow that we should have even more of what failed. I agree it should be more efficient. That doesn’t mean bigger. I don’t know if a bigger government like in France could handle a hurricane. They don’t get them. I know they can’t handle high temperatures.

We recognize the same problem and have the same goal, but the solutions are different.

Posted by: jack at September 21, 2005 6:37 PM
Comment #81829

Stephanie,

The example shows that France (who some Dems really look up to) messed up worse then we did, even though they had more time to react to the dangerous conditions. So, if Dems look up to France, and France ‘killed’ more people, even though they had more time to react and prevent these deaths, then obviously our reaction and the consequences thereof weren’t ‘so bad’ and the Dems should recognize and admit this.

This is off the subject, but I find your argument ridiculous…but also dismally sad. To my knowledge Dems and liberals have no special reverence for France over any other country. Where does this idea come from? There seems to be an ongoing rightwing myth that Dems and liberals are all French lovers, but I for one have never witnessed any kind of French-worshipping trend going on anywhere on the left. True, there are not many on the left that have a blind hatred for the French like we witness coming so often from the right (a very unscientific but still revealing experiment: compare the web results for “convervatives hate French” vs. “liberals love French”). Perhaps this entire “French-loving” myth stems entirely from conservatives being unable to understand why liberals don’t hate the French as much as conservatives think they should.

Considering how much conservatives hate France, it’s funny that you would actually use the argument of “Yeah, well France can’t do any better!” to make your point at all. It’s even more ridiculous than a statement such as “Bush can’t beat any modern US President in the polls…but he can still beat Kerry!”

Personally, France is far from one of my favorite European countries…but I certainly don’t hate the French either. The fact is, I give little thought to France at all one way or the other…

However, what I can say is that I do hold our country (the richest and most powerful country in the world, right?) to much higher standards than I hold France. Especially considering that the whole thrust of this administration since 9/11 is supposedly to make our country safer and more prepared for such disasters.

Posted by: Charles Wager at September 21, 2005 7:15 PM
Comment #81831

Henry Schlatman,
I appreciate your reply, but it did not directly answer my question. What should we do NOW? Rita is now a Cat. 5 and I would love to see what positive suggestions could be implemanted NOW to try to avoid another Katrina - or worse.

Posted by: Linda H. at September 21, 2005 7:30 PM
Comment #81837

Linda H,
Short of going house to house and requiring each person that would be in “Harms Way to sign a piece of paper and placing a tag on their arm, all is being done. As far as preparing for the storm, PREPARING! PREPARING! AND MORE PREPARING! Not until the storm passes can we do much.

Sandbagging certain critical areas should be going on; however, thats a judgment call and an expense that needs to be considered especially around Huston’s oil refineries. Other than that there is not much you can do to stop the damage that a Cat 5 hurricanre can bring. For the speed that those winds are blowing can put a pieace of straw through a telepnone pole.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at September 21, 2005 8:38 PM
Comment #81864

Charles Wagner,

For someone who doesn’t think much about the French you certainly jumped all over that one (without really reading it, so it seems).

“To my knowledge Dems and liberals have no special reverence for France over any other country. Where does this idea come from?”

First, I said “who some Dems really look up to,” which is different then Dems or all Dems or even liberals. As to where this idea comes from…take your pick. A) Democrats who suggest we copy France’s medical system. B) Democrats who suggest we copy France’s education system. C) Democrats who suggest that we should have stayed out of Iraq, because France said ‘no,’ who do not mention that others said ‘no’ too.

“True, there are not many on the left that have a blind hatred for the French like we witness coming so often from the right…”

I don’t hate France. I just care very little for their opinion on, well, just about anything. Except Phillippe, because he’s on here and there’s actual debate I do listen to him. Though, I find it telling that he admitted not being overly patriotic.

“Perhaps this entire “French-loving” myth stems entirely…”

Perhaps there are so many more site about conservatives hating French people, because liberals love to talk about it as if it were real. Personally, I think “feeling betrayed” is more accurate than hating.

“It’s even more ridiculous than a statement such as ‘Bush can’t beat any modern US President in the polls…but he can still beat Kerry!’”

Honestly, I don’t think I ever heard that argument. Neither part of it, actually. Obviously he beat Kerry, but he never ran against “any modern US President,” so whether or not he could win the election is impossible to determine. You’re assessment that I said “Yeah, well France can’t do any better!” is indicative of the fact that you didn’t actually read my post.

See, I said:

“They did worse then we did…so? We should have done better then we did, irregardless of how well or poorly the French did.”

Which is actually very similiar to your statement:

“However, what I can say is that I do hold our country (the richest and most powerful country in the world, right?) to much higher standards than I hold France.”

So, next time you want to go off on a tirade, please read the entire post you’re responding to before you write about it. Okay?

“Especially considering that the whole thrust of this administration since 9/11 is supposedly to make our country safer and more prepared for such disasters.”

Do you believe we should have a Katrina commission (which is what this thread is about)? If so, do you believe the 9/11 commission made us safer? If not, why do you think the Katrina commission would give us better results?

Posted by: Stephanie at September 21, 2005 11:20 PM
Comment #81865

Linda H.,

I’m not up on the minute-to-minute current events in Texas, but if the people aren’t following the order to evacuate, then somebody better go in and force them out, or more people will get blamed for not doing it.

As for the poor and the sick, get buses and helicopter in there in mass to get the people out.

Then again, maybe this is being done. I truly hope that Stephen has gotten or is in the process of getting out.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 21, 2005 11:25 PM
Comment #81884

Stephanie,

For someone who doesn’t think much about the French you certainly jumped all over that one
I was jumping over a ridiculous generalization that you are now trying to deny you were making.

First, I said “who some Dems really look up to,” which is different then Dems or all Dems or even liberals.
I see…now you’re trying to pretend you only had a couple of “Dems” in mind. Which Dems then? If you’re not referring to Dems in general then why do you use the term “Dems” at all rather than just listing names? I could name some “Cons” that look up to the French (yes, there are some), but I wouldn’t extrapolate that to say “some Cons” unless I meant a large number of Cons. You also said “So, if Dems look up to France…” which is a more general statement, is it not? In fact, the whole argument you were trying to make becomes meaningless unless you were referring to Democrats in general.
As to where this idea comes from…take your pick. A) Democrats who suggest we copy France’s medical system. B) Democrats who suggest we copy France’s education system. C) Democrats who suggest that we should have stayed out of Iraq, because France said ‘no,’ who do not mention that others said ‘no’ too.
Now you seem to be referring to a majority of Dems again (you certainly are no longer saying “one” or even “some” Democrats). Either way, please list some sources for your points A, B, and C…
Perhaps there are so many more site about conservatives hating French people, because liberals love to talk about it as if it were real.
Actually, the majority of the sites I came across were conservative sites. The only liberal sites I came across were commenting directly on what was said on the conservative sites.
Honestly, I don’t think I ever heard that argument. Neither part of it, actually.
Sorry about that. I was referring to another post on WatchBlog which you apparently didn’t read so I can understand the confustion bringing it up could cause.
So, next time you want to go off on a tirade, please read the entire post you’re responding to before you write about it. Okay?
I did read your whole post, it simply made little sense…and makes even less sense now that you’re trying to claim that you weren’t generalizing about “Dems” (or about the French for that matter). You took the simple fact that someone else was posting about a French disaster, and somehow from that made the assumption that they were doing so because the “Dems” look up to the French (and it would therefore somehow make a stronger argument???)
Do you believe we should have a Katrina commission (which is what this thread is about)? If so, do you believe the 9/11 commission made us safer?
Yes. And Maybe. The 9/11 commission would certainly have been more effective if Bush had not restricted it to such a limited scope. With the scope it was given it was intended to be ineffective.
Posted by: Charles Wager at September 22, 2005 1:49 AM
Comment #81887

Charles,

If Stephen objects to my commentary about the French, I’ll go over it with him, but I know jack was on some of the same threads with me. Right now, it seems to me that you’re reading what you think I wrote, because you’re not responding to what I actually said.

“The 9/11 commission would certainly have been more effective if Bush had not restricted it to such a limited scope.”

And how exactly is the Katrina commission going to be different? Has the government suddenly gotten less corrupt without anyone telling me? Darn! I always miss the best parties!

Posted by: Stephanie at September 22, 2005 2:40 AM
Comment #81941
Were you satisfied with the results of the 9/11 commission?

Yes.

If yes, why aren?t we safer?

You can lead a horse to water…

Stephanie, here’s a quick example: President Bush appointed Tom Ridge as Homeland Security Director — a man who vehemently opposed creating the department in the first place. That should give you a pretty good idea of how seriously President Bush took the 9/11 Commission recommendations.

But don’t dispair. As soon as a Democrat gets back in office, the DHS will get whipped into shape. :)

Posted by: American Pundit at September 22, 2005 10:57 AM
Comment #81983

Stephanie,

If Stephen objects to my commentary about the French, I’ll go over it with him, but I know jack was on some of the same threads with me. Right now, it seems to me that you’re reading what you think I wrote, because you’re not responding to what I actually said.

I am responding to what you said (I quoted you, in fact) you’re just not getting why I find what you said offensive. Granted, what I’ve been harping on is not what you were trying to say per se but the way you chose to say it (I did admit it was off-topic). If Stephen is not too busy evacuating right now, perhaps he’ll comment on it. However, I expect even if he does comment he may stick to the greater topic. In any case, even though it was not meant that way I’ll take your decision not to discuss it further as a retraction. Merci beaucoup.
And how exactly is the Katrina commission going to be different?
It won’t be any different. It will be watered down, stonewalled, and rendered much less effective by those who want to save their political ass. So be it. We did learn some things from the 9/11 commission, and we no doubt would learn some things from a Katrina commission. What is the alternative anyway? Should we all just give up and roll over and say “well, there’s nothing we can do about it anyway so we should just accept it and forget about this whole accountability thing…”?

Posted by: Charles Wager at September 22, 2005 2:49 PM
Comment #81996

AP,

“But don’t dispair. As soon as a Democrat gets back in office, the DHS will get whipped into shape. :)”

Yeah! Because Clinton did such a great job! Oh, wait…no, he didn’t.

In order for effective change to occur we need one of two things: 1) Take the money out of politics (which won’t occur while the current two-party system still holds the reins of our proverbial horse) and/or 2) The third party candidate (or independent) needs to win significant power, since he or she would have to create effective change to prove that it was worth the risk of electing a third party (or independent) candidate for him or her to retain their position and/or to facillitate another such candidate to follow in their footsteps.

The Dems and Reps have been going back and forth for long enough, and things just keep getting worse. They will not enact effective change, because they are so powerful that they don’t need to do so.

Afterall, Doyle (a Dem) got elected into office to “clean up” after Tommy Thompson (budget deficits). So, he cut programs to the poor, to protect the environment, and to the schools (though, the administration saw little to no cuts, just the teachers and students), while maintaining election fraud, pet projects and high tax rates, without making any significant progress on Wisconsin’s deficit. Why should I trust another Democrat to act any differently on the national level? Breaking campaign promises is the norm for both parties.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 22, 2005 3:35 PM
Comment #82017

A lot of people want to save their political ass over this one, Charles.

“We did learn some things from the 9/11 commission, and we no doubt would learn some things from a Katrina commission. What is the alternative anyway?”

My point is that the DNC stonewalling on the Congressional committee seems to me to be a simple political ploy, and not a means to affect change. They’re throwing their weight around to prove they still have power (and to gain more since they are posing as the “good guys”), not to ensure that another Katrina doesn’t happen. Since a Katrina commission wouldn’t have any more power to affect change then the 9/11 commission did, then it is reasonable to assume that the results of the Katrina commission wouldn’t be better than the results of the 9/11 commission. Whereas, with a Congressional committee, we may know less (not that we learned everything the 9/11 commission did anyway), but more change is likely to occur, because those who discover what went wrong are those with a greater ability to act on that knowledge, and might care more because they had to find out for themselves.

I’ll put it to you this way. If you read the Illiad in greek, struggling through, making sure you understand what all the words mean, really studying the text, then you’re going to get a lot more out of the story then if you were to read the English CliffNotes version. You’re going to have a greater understanding of what happened, you’re going to retain more of what you learned (comparing net knowledge), and you’re going to care a lot more because you invested a lot more of yourself into the project.

Reading a commission report is the CliffNotes version, whereas actually doing the digging in a committee is the greek version. More people are going to be committed to affecting change if they invest themselves into a Congressional committee, then if they merely had to read a commission report. It will also be easier to determine who is and who is not doing their “homework.”

Posted by: Stephanie at September 22, 2005 4:24 PM
Comment #82053
My point is that the DNC stonewalling on the Congressional committee seems to me to be a simple political ploy, and not a means to affect change. They’re throwing their weight around to prove they still have power (and to gain more since they are posing as the “good guys”), not to ensure that another Katrina doesn’t happen.
Stonewalling? A political ploy? What basis do you have for this belief? I could just as easily call this faux-bipartisan effort of the Republicans stonewalling and a political ploy. The DNC is not stonewalling, they are simply asking for equal representation on the committee (including equal subpoena power). It’s not a ridiculous grandstanding request, but a very reasonable one, especially for a committee that claims to be bipartisan. I’m not against a Congressional committee instead of an independent investigation—but it sure as hell has to have equal representation or else it’s guaranteed to be far more useless than an independent investigation could ever be. At a minimum a true bipartisan committee would be a good compromise for the 70% of the American public who support an independent panel.
Posted by: Charles Wager at September 26, 2005 11:13 PM
Comment #82155
Since a Katrina commission wouldn’t have any more power to affect change then the 9/11 commission did…

Stephanie, I disagree. The 9/11 Commission recommendations led directly to many changes, including intelligence reform and a better propaganda machine.

The independent commission was especially helpful in making politically sensitive recommendations, like confronting the Saudis more vigorously and establishing better guidelines for the treatment of detainees.

This is where I think you’re wrong. The independent 9/11 Commission was far more valuable than a Congressional investigation/whitewash would have been.

Posted by: American Pundit at September 27, 2005 10:38 AM
Comment #82787

Charles,

“Stonewalling? A political ploy? What basis do you have for this belief?”

That would be the part where they refuse to participate in the committee.

“The DNC is not stonewalling, they are simply asking for equal representation on the committee…”

Equal representation? Meaning what? The same number of Democrats as Republicans? That doesn’t equally represent the American people. How about the independents and third party candidates that are in Congress? Are the Democrats demanding they be represented too?

“At a minimum a true bipartisan committee would be a good compromise for the 70% of the American public who support an independent panel.”

Out of mild curiosity, where does this figure come from?

Posted by: Stephanie at September 29, 2005 9:07 PM
Comment #82789

AP,

Okay…not so long ago you were handing out failing grades because we are still not safe. And yet, you say the 9/11 commission was effective. How does that work?

If we’re not safe, then how could you consider the 9/11 commission effective? If the errors that made 9/11 possible were not fixed, how could you consider the 9/11 commission effective?

Posted by: Stephanie at September 29, 2005 9:10 PM
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