Democrats & Liberals Archives

Let Me Exploit the Disaster in Haiti...

…to discuss a very important issue for Americans: infrastructure.

The 7.0 earthquake in Haiti was about the same strength as the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, the one that struck San Francisco. We’re hearing estimates of perhaps over 100,000 deaths in the more recent quake, whereas the quake in our country only killed 63 people. You’ll guess that my position is that infrastructure is the difference. But there’s a warning even there.

From the wikipedia article concerning the quake:

The worst disaster of the earthquake was the collapse of the two-level Cypress Street Viaduct of Interstate 880 in West Oakland. The failure of a 1.25-mile (2.0 km) section[31] of the viaduct, also known as the "Cypress Structure" and the "Cypress Freeway",[4] killed 42 and injured many more.[32]

[...]

During the earthquake, the freeway buckled and twisted to its limits before the support columns failed and sent the upper deck crashing to the lower deck. In an instant, 41 people were crushed to death in their cars.

About two thirds of the deaths from the San Francisco earthquake were from that one failure.

What happened?

When it was in use, the upper tier was used by southbound traffic, and the lower tier was used by northbound traffic. Some sections of the Cypress Street Viaduct were largely supported by two columns on either side, but some sections were only supported beneath by a single supporting column. The design was unable to survive the earthquake because the upper portions of the exterior columns were not tied by reinforcing to the lower columns, and the columns were not sufficiently ringed to prevent bursting. At the time of its design, such structures were not analyzed as a whole, and it appears that large structure motion contributed to the collapse. It was built on filled land, which is highly susceptible to soil liquefaction during an earthquake and exhibits larger ground motion.

Even in America, there is room for improvement, room for vulnerability. It's here where we have to make a practical distinction, between being cheap, and saving money.

When folks lament the standards that our modern systems require of us, they should look at the worst disasters of all times. When an earthquake struck San Francisco in 1906, more than a century ago, some of the worst damage came of the literal firestorm that followed the quake. We can also remember the Great Chicago Fire.

Japan has faced such firestorms in the wake of it's terrible Earthquakes. Even in the recent Kobe Earthquake, the consequences of building standards were seen, in the thousands that died there.

Lastly, we can see the effects in the damage created by storms. Most infamously, and most recently, with Katrina.

On a tour Tuesday, researchers showed numerous indications that Katrina's surge was not as tall as the lakefront's protections. They showed a "debris line" that indicates the top height of Katrina's waves was at least four feet below the crest of Lake Pontchartrain's levees. They also pointed out how the breached floodwalls near the lake showed no signs of overtopping -- no splattering of mud, no drip lines and no erosion at their bases. They contended that the pattern of destruction behind the breaches was consistent with a localized "pressure burst," rather than widespread overtopping.

The center has also completed a computerized "hindcast" of Katrina, which has confirmed the evidence before their eyes. Their model indicates that most of the surge around the lake and its nearby canals was less than 11 feet above sea level, and that none of it should have been greater than 13 feet. The Army Corps's flood-protection system for New Orleans was designed to handle surges of more than 14 feet above sea level.

"This should not have been a big deal for these floodwalls," said oceanographer G. Paul Kemp, a hurricane expert who runs LSU's Natural Systems Modeling Laboratory. "It should have been a modest challenge. There's no way this should have exceeded the capacity."

I'll leave the partisan arguments about who was to blame for that to past entries. But the point should be made: In a disaster, not everything is just sheer bad luck and Acts of God.

People are only as safe, and and their property as enduring as the weakest aspects of their system allow them to be. In 2008, me and my family went for literally weeks without power in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. Meanwhile, places in Galveston and the Bolivar Peninsula were devastated by the storm, it's monstrous surge, and its long transit inland. Some may never be the same.

We can talk about how free we are, about how much money we're saving by not dealing with certain problems, but like I said earlier, there's a distinction between being cheap and saving costs. The distinction is how well one anticipates ones needs, and one's problems. When hundreds, even thousands of lives are at stake, when tens of billions of dollars in damage is possible, when people get faced with the prospect of rebuilding an entire city of buildings, the difference between doing things just plain cheaply, rather than cost-effectively becomes clear.

The price of not making our preparations properly, of being lax on building standards, lax on standards concerning public works like bridges, levees, and dams, may be high indeed, and often dwarfs the cost of the repairs and replacements.

We look at the strength of our concrete and the impressive scale of our construction, and we reason that we are above nature's power, that we don't have to worry about the ravages of time. The truth is, though, the systems we rely upon are both as vulnerable, and as mortal as we are in their own way, and the tendency of leaders in business and government towards expedience means we're not always on our strongest footing when facing disasters.

Some will claim that folks will naturally learn lessons in the face of disasters, but my experience and my reading of history is that people are quick to forget lessons that require extended sacrifice from them, which deal with unlikely events. The fierce urgency of the emergency doesn't last, the blame gets diffused, and the politicians, businessfolk and bureaucrats recover from being stunned by the disaster and go back to guarding the same turf and making the same mistakes.

It's not inevitable, though it's a chronic tendency among people. We do have the capacity to learn lessons on a more permanent, deeper basis. That's why we have building codes and other sorts of regulations. People just got tired of learning the same lessons over and over again, and paying the high cost, in blood and treasure, for those failures. People may not always learn their lessons, but when they do, it saves lives, and save money in the long term.

The trouble will be this: dealing with our infrastructure will cost. Taxes will have to be gathered, revenue brought in, in order to deal with this. I've read estimates of up to three hundred billion dollars for this. But let's ask the question: if we don't pay to get our infrastructure in order, what then will be the costs? It seems a desperate kind of head-in-the-sand expedience to just hope that things keep going on their own momentum, to hope that human built systems will long endure without conscientious human maintenance. How many civilizations, I wonder, thought that the foundations of their societies would remain sound on their own, while they neglected the base of their nation's strength?

Disasters give us an extreme vision of how infrastructure can fail, thousands of homes becoming their resident's tombs or crematorium, but they are merely a speeded up, amped-up version of the kind of disaster that can happen to a society that ignores it's physical underpinnings in the real world.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at January 14, 2010 10:29 AM
Comments
Comment #293779

Not to be in opposition to the idea that infra structure is important, but I would have to say that high population density in susceptible areas is more closely related to death counts than infrastructure.

Posted by: gergle at January 14, 2010 12:20 PM
Comment #293781

gergle-
To put it simply, in an Earthquake, the shaking doesn’t kill people, it’s the stuff the shaking drops on their heads. I include buildings and residences, rightly or wrongly, in my definition of infrastructure.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 14, 2010 12:25 PM
Comment #293783

Stephen,

This is certainly true, and you correctly assume that construction standards in Haiti do not compare to Loma Prieta. But one also must look at earthquake intensities. Near the epicenter, both quakes were similar, but Oakland is nearly 70 miles north of Loma Prieta. The intensity there was not the same as in the rural unpopulated area of the epicenter. In Haiti, the Epicenter is much closer 10 miles to a much higher density population centers than either San Fransico or Oakland.

Oakland while having higher building standards, in a direct hit from a 7.0 quake, would have much higher death toll. There are still many buildings that will not survive such a quake.

Posted by: gergle at January 14, 2010 1:41 PM
Comment #293784

I have to agree to a certain extent about infrastructure. Who is going to pay for all this, I for one haven’t been able to get a full time job in over a year and there are millions more in the same situation. While there is tragedy in Haiti, be thankful the epicenter was underland instead of ocean. For example, Florida is pretty flat and a tsunami would have traveled a long way inland, not to mention all of the islands and other coastal areas in that region. I don’t think infrastructure would have made much difference in that kind of situation.

Posted by: Kathryn at January 14, 2010 1:53 PM
Comment #293786

You cannot have a population living in an area that is prone to natural disasters, such as earthquakes, and have that population growing completely out of control, and have little or no building standards or enforcement of same, and NOT expect a total disaster.
I had a girlfriend in Cumana, Venezuela. She was killed when the 7-story building she worked in collapsed in the 1997 earthquake there. We discovered later that the contractor who had built the building had sold off the reinforcement steel under-the-table, and built the building 3 stories higher than it was designed to be, WITHOUT RE-BAR. So—-what caused the collapse, and 27 deaths, was corruption ans lax enforcement of building codes.

Posted by: capnmike at January 14, 2010 2:04 PM
Comment #293788

Kathryn-
If you get it there in time, it doesn’t take too much to help. Also, I would not assume that just because you don’t pay to mitigate the disaster, that you won’t end up paying a price.

For example, would bad conditions in Haiti not draw people to leave for our shores? Would it also not potentially create political instability?

Part of my point here is that in some cases we sometimes we pay a cost for things whether we want to or not. My argument is that we should deal with potential problems while they’re less expensive to anticipate and fix than after the disaster happens, when everything’s gone to hell.

I mean, if Bush had gotten those levees fixed, and they held in that storm, Katrina would not have become the political liability it was, nor would we be paying the economic price for having the City of New Orleans drowned, and its inhabitants displaced.

I think that was part of Bush’s problem. He was too interested in coasting on past problems, rather than dealing with them promptly, getting them fixed before they got worse.

capnmike-
Sorry to hear about your loss.

For me, the concern of corruption is a general one, and its one of the reasons I’ve got so little patience with the various corporations that are employing lobbyists and others to prop up the credibility of their industries, in the face of huge catastrophes.

We should not count on folks in Government or business being responsible as a matter of course. We should not fear government, nor hate capitalism for all its worth. But we should acknowledge that some people take shortcuts, and when our society’s underpinnings are concerned, those shortcuts can be costly, even lethal.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 14, 2010 2:51 PM
Comment #293789

The real issue are the people who use the infrastructure in order to push political agendas. For example, the notion that ‘our bridges are crumbling around us’ nonsense was debunked years ago, but we still hear it from those who want to advance increased taxes for public jobs to be filled by union contractors.

http://www.slate.com/id/2216532/pagenum/all/

A Boston Globe editorial (Oct. 28, 2008) bemoans the fact that “150,000 US bridges [are] rated as deficient.” And Time magazine’s coverage (Nov. 4, 2008) likewise warns of “more than 150,000 structurally deficient bridges” and declares that “America’s infrastructure is broken.”

The scary-sounding phrases structurally deficient and functionally obsolete combined with those big numbers are enough to make you bite your nails bloody every time you drive over a river or beneath an underpass. Yet if any of the cited pieces paused to define either inspection term, you’d come away from the alarmist stories with a yawn. As a 2006 report by U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration puts it (very large PDF):

Structural deficiencies are characterized by deteriorated conditions of significant bridge elements and reduced load carrying capacity. Functional obsolescence is a function of the geometrics of the bridge not meeting current design standards. Neither type of deficiency indicates that the bridge is unsafe. [Emphasis added.]

A “structurally deficient” bridge can safely stay in service if weight limitations are posted and observed and the bridge is monitored, inspected, and maintained. A bridge designed in the 1930s could be deemed “functionally obsolete” because it’s narrower than modern standards dictate or because its clearance over a highway isn’t up to modern snuff, not because it’s in danger of tumbling down. (The Department of Transportation’s 2004 inventory found 77,796 U.S. bridges structurally deficient and 80,632 functionally obsolete, for a totally of 158,428 deficient bridges.)….

For those of us who track infrastructure madness in the press, the current round is mighty familiar. As deplorable as our bridges may be, they’re better than they were a generation ago. Today, the government classifies about 25 percent of U.S. bridges as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. A July 18, 1982, New York Times article headlined “Alarm Rise Over Decay in U.S. Public Works” cites government statistics that classify 45 percent of U.S. bridges deficient or obsolete.

Seems like we have been doing a pretty good job, pre-Obama, to deal with our infrastructure issues in a reasonable manner. Contrary to the alarmists.

Oh, and don’t forget, not all infrastructure spending is equal.

reason.org/news/show/1003178.html


Posted by: Rhinehold at January 14, 2010 3:53 PM
Comment #293792

Btw, ‘let me exploit…’ is about as honest an attempt to do just that that I have seen, thank you for that at least, Stephen.

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 14, 2010 4:02 PM
Comment #293794

Rhinehold-
So wonderful that structurally deficient still means safe. I guess we should take comfort in the fact that our infrastructure won’t kill us just yet, just progressively get less and less useful to us, unable to handle the freight and traffic they were originally designed and placed to carry.

Glad you’re here to save us from the exploitation of those who might provide jobs, improve local economic situations, and prevent unlikely disasters altogether.

Honestly, The headline’s supposed to be an exercise in irony. I’m exploiting it, alright, with the intention of bringing up a point I think it would be good for people to consider. If you want to make it purely about my politics, then fine, but consider this: my politics are founded on a kind of pragmatism. My aim isn’t the cynical benefit of the unions, though I wouldn’t mind folks being put to work, nor labor benefitting.

My aim couldn’t be more obvious. I’m stating it outright. I want our buildings, our bridges, and other things robust. You question my intentions, try to allege that I’m somehow only interested in scaring people about things. I think sometimes you’re overly interested in scaring people off of liberalism, though sincere in your concerns. Truth is, I feel there are some things people do well to be concerned about, and that it’s not really a political thing for me.

To put it plainly, this is an area where I have a regular, non-partisan concern about the matter, one inspired by the sad situation in Haiti. The situation, seeing all those pancaked buildings, reminds me of other disasters, of other places, where the strength of our infrastructure, and that of other nations had failed. It reminded me of all those places where natural disasters or the decay of time meant the decline of a civilization.

These are serious concerns. Consider broadband infrastructure in this country. Other countries have people enjoying 40 megabit connnections, while folks here can get stuck with something as low as 768 kilobits, and still have that termed broadband.

How does this benefit us? The telecoms were supposed to, on account of a bargain which lowered their regulatory burden on the price of their services, extend broadband throughout the country. Instead, the sat on their butts.

What does it matter how far this puts us behind competing countries? After all, the whole point is to advance without government help, right? It doesn’t matter how crappy everything gets for us, just as long as we’re all self-sufficient!

I think some folks are fighting the realities of the modern world here. We’re not guaranteed by the market or God (in whichever order you deem it appropriate to put them.) to keep our dominance in the world. We can be made obsolete.

We shouldn’t wait for bridges to decay to half-usefulness, or worse until they drop in the rivers, to start dealing with the problem.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 14, 2010 4:42 PM
Comment #293798

Stephen,

I have several quick thoughts that relate to your post. First, everything decays. Without periodic investment and upkeep everything will eventually breakdown and disintegrate. In that sense, we have to think of everything as temporary.

Secondly, this applies to our society and its workings as well. When we lose the foundations of where it all starts we can more easily lose our way and adopt counterproductive strategies that work against our survival.

The irony is that the infrastucture that makes life easier can also help us to forget these essential survival skills. We get used to the conveniences of modern society and forget that they are extentions of basic skills and provisions. This is what can cost lives in a disaster after the primary danger has passed.

As an example, one of my daughters friends (age 12) was astounded to learn that hamburger meat comes from cows. And that chicken sandwiches are actually chickens before they are killed and made into sandwiches. I was astounded that somehow this information had not been revealed or apparent until that moment. But then I’ve never actually killed an animal myself for food.

The point is that at the root of our system of society the elements of survival are the same. There is no real change except the scale of operations and the separation of labor. Someone still has to grow the food that we eat and produce the products we consume, even though we seldom see the details of how it is done.

The problem with the ideology that government is the best way to collectively provide for these basic things is that it is inherently authoritarian and removes us even further from the mindset of self-sufficiency. Plus it is far more ineffecient, primarily because it usually operates a monopoly and is politically controlled.

Take Haiti for instance. The shortest definition I can give to summarize all of Haiti’s problems is: strong government, weak people. Meaning that the power in that country, just like in many third world nations, is all in the hands of the government. Civil society is non-existent. Private enterprise is severely limited and controlled. Power is not allowed to concentrate anywhere else except the government.

This monopoly situation ensures grinding poverty. The collective efforts of empowered people is not possible.


Posted by: eric at January 14, 2010 5:48 PM
Comment #293799
So wonderful that structurally deficient still means safe.

Yes, I think it is. It means we can attack the problems that are real problems at a point when we have to borrow money to resolve them rather than borrowing money to pay for things we don’t need to address at the present time.

If my car is a few years old, looking tattered and is not as good as it was when designed and built, but still servicable, should I be BORROWING money to buy a new one? Or would it be BETTER to fix the hole in my roof instead and when I have paid back what I have borrowed to do that, then save up the money to buy the new car?

I think it is unfortunate how a lot of people in this country would answer that question, especially when it is their children’s money they would be using…

I guess we should take comfort in the fact that our infrastructure won’t kill us just yet, just progressively get less and less useful to us, unable to handle the freight and traffic they were originally designed and placed to carry.

We should. It could be a lot worse, thankfully we have had responsible and reasonable state run agencies making sure that most of those infrastructure items have been identified and taken care of either by lowering the weight on the bridges or building new ones when necessary. UNfortunately, a lot of politics still get played and we waste a good deal of money we are borrowing in order to line the pockets of a few contractors… I don’t see why would should be doing more of that when we are borrowing money the way we are now.

Glad you’re here to save us from the exploitation of those who might provide jobs, improve local economic situations, and prevent unlikely disasters altogether.

Thanks, or at least the people who would have an even larger debt to pay back would appreciate it since you don’t seem to care about throwing good money after bad.

Honestly, The headline’s supposed to be an exercise in irony. I’m exploiting it, alright, with the intention of bringing up a point I think it would be good for people to consider. If you want to make it purely about my politics, then fine, but consider this: my politics are founded on a kind of pragmatism. My aim isn’t the cynical benefit of the unions, though I wouldn’t mind folks being put to work, nor labor benefitting.

I’ll just let that stand as written. BTW, I find it very good that the left is finally embracing this out in the open stuff, saying things like ‘don’t let a good crisis go to waste’ and the like. It has been so long that many in your party have been trying to tell those who questioned their motives that they weren’t trying to ‘slip things in for further advances later on’ and ‘using fear to get your agenda passed is not acceptable’ just to see that all go away in one year of being in complete power.

I wonder, though, how long it will take to turn around that view that was worked so hard to fight off now that it is being reinforced to this extent?

My aim couldn’t be more obvious. I’m stating it outright. I want our buildings, our bridges, and other things robust.
Yup, and you don’t mind using the deaths of thousands of human beings to fear people into agreeing with your agenda to do it.

It is quite obvious indeed.

You question my intentions, try to allege that I’m somehow only interested in scaring people about things.

I’m not questioning it, you made it quite clear in your own words.

I think sometimes you’re overly interested in scaring people off of liberalism, though sincere in your concerns. Truth is, I feel there are some things people do well to be concerned about, and that it’s not really a political thing for me.

Except it is, isn’t it? Because you are going to use politics to SOLVE the problem, aren’t you? You are going to suggest we use government’s power to force people to pay for these things to fix them instead of working outside of the government to get them resolved, which makes it political by definition. And you are willing to borrow, or raise taxes at a time when people are struggling already, thanks to government and politics of both the right and left, in order to solve those issues that I have pointed out can be safely dealt with at a later date.

But isn’t not POLITICAL, is it?

Hey, I have worked a large part of my life trying to make sure that everyone was fed, had clean water and learned through mentoring to ensure that they were self-sufficient. But if I used the GOVERNMENT to pass laws to ENSURE they weren’t wouldn’t I have just crossed the line into making it political? Or is somehow the fact that it is something that you care about absolve you of that?

To put it plainly, this is an area where I have a regular, non-partisan concern about the matter, one inspired by the sad situation in Haiti. The situation, seeing all those pancaked buildings, reminds me of other disasters, of other places, where the strength of our infrastructure, and that of other nations had failed. It reminded me of all those places where natural disasters or the decay of time meant the decline of a civilization.

And there will be more. One day we will all be dead. And no new laws or deficit spending will avoid it. Ever. Sorry for the harsh reality check. How much should we increase the poverty to try to stave off ALL possible disasters, Stephen?

These are serious concerns. Consider broadband infrastructure in this country. Other countries have people enjoying 40 megabit connnections, while folks here can get stuck with something as low as 768 kilobits, and still have that termed broadband.

Guess what, I am one of those people who have 512k when I moved to the country as my single option.

And you think the GOVERNMENT should be the ones to solve that problem, Stephen? At what cost, exactly? At what limitation of freedom are you suggesting we deal with it? Because I guarantee, that is what the result of your concern over my ‘plight’, which I have the choice in making all on my own, thank you very much, will have.

What does it matter how far this puts us behind competing countries? After all, the whole point is to advance without government help, right? It doesn’t matter how crappy everything gets for us, just as long as we’re all self-sufficient!

And have free choice, and liberty, and are able choose to live without high speed access for a lower cost of living if we want. Your solution, to tax everyone to pay for high speed internet to everyone, whether they use it or not, is a perfect example of what happens when good intentioned people gain power over the lives of others. Thanks but no thanks.

I think some folks are fighting the realities of the modern world here. We’re not guaranteed by the market or God (in whichever order you deem it appropriate to put them.) to keep our dominance in the world. We can be made obsolete.

And if we end up so, then we will. But it wasn’t the lack of spending or ‘welfare’ that killed Rome, it was the abundance of it. Remember that.

The national budget must be balanced. The public debt must be reduced; the arrogance of the authorities must be moderated and controlled. Payments to foreign governments must be reduced, if the nation doesn’t want to go bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance. Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC), 55 BC

It’s a shame we don’t learn from history…

We shouldn’t wait for bridges to decay to half-usefulness, or worse until they drop in the rivers, to start dealing with the problem.We shouldn’t wait for bridges to decay to half-usefulness, or worse until they drop in the rivers, to start dealing with the problem.And we aren’t, as I have shown. We also shouldn’t be pushing for more spending projects when we don’t have the money to pay for them without borrowing and having any real chance of paying it back because it puts us in a WORSE position to deal with it effectively when a real disaster DOES strike.
Posted by: Rhinehold at January 14, 2010 5:52 PM
Comment #293803

Stephen

Large infrastructure is one of government’s legitimate priorities. As government has grown larger and more intrusive, it has neglected its core functions in favor of other priorities. A leaner, more efficient government could more easily deal with infrastructure.

Gergle and Stephen

Gergle makes a good point about population. The dumbest thing we have done recently and continue to do is encourage the complete rebuilding of New Orleans. Much of that coast should return to cypress swamps and bayou. It is a colossal waste of money to build infrastructure to protect residential neighborhoods where no residential neighborhoods should have been built in the first place.

So to sum up – yes to good infrastructure and yes to APPROPRIATE infrastructure.

Posted by: Christine at January 14, 2010 8:33 PM
Comment #293807

Eric-
You underestimate the degree to which urbanization has changed the nature of society. The truth of the matter is, we are reliant on others to feed us, and not merely in the old sense of family farms delivering produce and livestock to market. Our livestock mostly come from factory farms, our crops from mass commodity farms. There’s a reason corn growers are as influential as they are.

In most ways, we’re separated from most skillsets necessary to survival on our own. In the eventuality that civilization ends, that’s a bad thing. But most of the time, that’s how things are done. We mutually support each other’s survival, and by doing things that way, we can support much larger populations.

The poverty in Haiti comes to a certain degree because it is a former colony, and only recently freed from the control of a family of dictators. Dictators have a tendency of organizing society not around the people’s interests, but rather their own power, their own whims and desires, and Haiti hasn’t prospered under that. Somebody talked about the reinstallation of Jean Paul Aristide in some comment as a snide commentary on the matter. They neglected the fact that Aristide had been deposed by a military coup, which had been fairly common in Haiti’s history.

To simplify it just according to weak people/strong government paradigms oversimplifies matters. The real problem is that their governments were often exploitative enterprises, the interests colonial. It left people poor, and poor people cannot support a rich economy. America’s willingness to make its economy more egalitarian, less hung up on class distinctions is part of what made it the prosperous country it is today.

Haiti is poor because few of its leaders in its history have felt it necessary to address their interests.

I don’t see the government as an elite entitled to rule. I see them, quite sincerely, as servants of the people, and the extent that they differ from that is the extent I seek to kick their asses back into shape.

I know the ideal isn’t the reality. But I know the fear folks have, that the government is too huge to be accountable, too big to be managed, is also not the reality. The truth of the matter is, the role of the government is not to stand aloof and only do a few things. It is to do what the people want it to do, within the bounds of the constitution, the generally agreed upon limits of political power in the country.

The Republicans, unfortunately have succeeded in convincing folks that the government isn’t theirs, that folks should resist their own ability and impulse to intervene in the governing of their lives. No, no, don’t mess around in things. We’re here to protect you from that.

It’s not for nothing that many tyrants have appeal to folk’s hatred of scapegoats, particularly ones who are portrayed as part of big conspiracies. Let us control your life, so these people don’t do it instead.

The trick is, while you can operate with absolute certainty this way, you operate with very little control. Uncertainty is the way of self-governance. You cannot know the right and wrong of all choices ahead of time, and simply being reactive will lead you down a road of sorrows.

The point of Democracy is to allow people the opportunity to adapt to their government, rather than sit in fear of it. Control it, rather than be controlled by it. It isn’t a matter of whether government’s big or small, it’s a matter of whether people tolerate BS, or don’t.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 14, 2010 10:36 PM
Comment #293812

Rhinehold,

The studies you quote were made available through the mainstream media in the wake of this:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-08-02-minneapolis-bridge_N.htm

It turned out the bridge failure had little to do with maintenance issues, but that is why these studies are written for engineers and not the general public.

Confusing media confusion over technical issues with political agenda to make a profit is a bit cynical for me.

BTW, it turned out the bridge failed because of a design flaw, not a maintenance issue.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/15/washington/15bridge.html

Posted by: gergle at January 15, 2010 12:10 AM
Comment #293813

BTW, my post contained a design flaw as well, it repeated itself.

Posted by: gergle at January 15, 2010 12:12 AM
Comment #293818

Stephen:

“I’ll leave the partisan arguments about who was to blame for that to past entries. But the point should be made: In a disaster, not everything is just sheer bad luck and Acts of God.”

“I mean, if Bush had gotten those levees fixed, and they held in that storm, Katrina would not have become the political liability it was, nor would we be paying the economic price for having the City of New Orleans drowned, and its inhabitants displaced.”

“I think that was part of Bush’s problem. He was too interested in coasting on past problems, rather than dealing with them promptly, getting them fixed before they got worse.”


Gee, I was unaware that the national consensus was that fixing the levees was the nation’s highest priority, and that GWB maliciously ignored that. It seems that there were prior administrations that may have had a hand in ignoring this problem.

Not everything in this world needs to be a partisan issue.

Posted by: Mike in Tampa at January 15, 2010 8:01 AM
Comment #293820

Mike in Tampa-
Some folks a few months ago recalled what a low priority healthcare was, and asked why Obama didn’t wait then. The answer, of course, is that by the time people really think it’s a big priority, it’s a big priority because it’s a hopeless mess.

Bush’s problem is, he had that short term sort of myopia about problems. He didn’t look forward to see whether a problem would get bigger. He just nervously put up a front of political spin and hoped things would die down. Which they didn’t.

I didn’t turn against Bush for partisan reasons. I turned against him because he did not take care of the Nation’s business, and I felt that the country badly needed better leadership. The problem has been that the GOP’s doubled down on his policy directions, seeking to turn Bush’s sow’s ear into a silk purse. Given how things have turned out, there’s even more reason than ever to oppose those ideas.

Rhinehold-
The deficit seems to be the only problem that the Right sees nowadays. Except you can’t deficit cut your way out of a deflationary downturn. Your problem is not that you have too much money chasing after too few goods, but too little money chasing after too many goods.

But let’s say we get out of that period. Well, we still have the job situation, healthcare’s still going to need reform whether things pass or not, our infrastructure needs to be upgraded, if not for safety, then for the sake of economic development. We still have the problem of global warming, still have the problem of two wars we need to get out of.

I think analyzing things purely along budget lines is simplistic, not to mention counterproductive, because the budget affects its own revenues. America needs strong growth, stable markets, an a situation in the world where mother nature isn’t tearing down all the things we need to maintain a growing economy.

If you want to see the welfare of our children increased, we can’t simply obsess over budget deficits, though lowering them is important. We must see that what the government can do to improve things for Americans is done, and otherwise the government keeps out of the way.

We got to stop thinking in only the terms that are meant to play on people’s fears. We got to think about the future in a farsighted manner, or else we’re going to go downhill.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 15, 2010 11:59 AM
Comment #293821

Stephen: I probably didn’t make my point clear, which was it seems unneccessary to “bash Bush” on the issue of infrastructure deficiencies. The deficiencies in the levees in N.O. existing long before Bush, and could have been corrected prior to his becoming president. By ignoring that, and stating “he did not take care of the Nation’s business”, your commentary appears unduly partisan. Criticism of the response to Katrina is legitimate, IMO. To expect him to have focused on what was a background problem (prior to a Cat 4 hurricane) that was similarly ignored by previous presidents appears unfair.

Posted by: Mike in Tampa at January 15, 2010 12:39 PM
Comment #293822

Mike in Tampa-
So I can’t bring up his mistakes, to illustrate the problems in just letting things slide?

You can’t criticize somebody without appearing partisan, but somethings must be criticized, or we have no real accountability.

By the way, I’m not saying Clinton or Bush Sr. are off the hook for not dealing with the problem. What I am saying is that Bush could have avoided much political grief by having the levees capable of doing their job, and by having a better response ready, not his four or five day wait to really address the issue.

I don’t think that’s partisan to say, I’d say that was logical, and would hold true for just about any President. This is what I mean by addressing objective matters, ahead of the more political ones.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 15, 2010 12:51 PM
Comment #293825

Bush got the warnings about terrorists training to fly airplanes into buildings and ignored those warnings.

Bush got the warnings that levees in Louisiana were inadiquate to handle surging water and ignored those warnings.

Terrorists flew airplanes into buildings…surging water overcame levees.

Pretty partisan that…

Posted by: Marysdude at January 15, 2010 3:31 PM
Comment #293829

Stephen: Far be it from me to say someone should not criticize. Just saying that more even-handed treatment would have been to say a series of past presidents ignored the deficient infrastucture.

Marysdude: A true question on my part - did Bush get specific warnings in his presidency about the deficiency of the levees, prior to Katrina, that were not previously known? I don’t recall reading or hearing about that, but could just be uninformed.

Posted by: Mike in Tampa at January 15, 2010 4:37 PM
Comment #293832

Mike
It Bush 43, Clinton, Bush 41 probably all got the warning but none acted. Same with the terrorist thing. But the Democrats will blame it all on Bush 43.

Posted by: KAP at January 15, 2010 5:17 PM
Comment #293838

KAP,
My wife and I went to spend our 25th anniversary in New Orleans. At the time, I thought it was a good idea, and said aloud that I believed it was only a matter of time before the city was destroyed by flooding, so we should see it now.

We were there when Katrina hit.

Previous administrations deserve some of the blame for the failed infrastructure. The real shame of the Bush administration was its failure to respond.

The second shame was the refusal of the administration and Republicans to accept responsibility, and instead duck the blame, and try to shift it onto local and state authorities.

I was there. I can tell you for a fact, the local and state officials did fine. They got out the word about evactuation. A policeman came to our house to warn us as we were about to drive away. The evacuation plan and routes worked for one of the largest evacuations ever attempted in the US.

The problem was that the local and state abilities to respond were destroyed by the storm. Only the federal government still possessed the wherewithal to coordinate rescue.

We now know some of the blame belongs to Rumsfeld, who refused to share resources with the General at the National Guard. The response of the federal government was shameful, and those who refused to recognize that failure share in the shame.

Posted by: phx8 at January 15, 2010 6:51 PM
Comment #293841

Mike and Marysdude,

The issue of infrastructure maintenance is an ongoing problem for all bodies. There is always some trade off made for safety vs. cost.

I think it is unfair to blame Bush for the levee problem during Katrina. He was however warned of an impending disaster (or more specifically, Brownie), and failed to react, as did local and state government, in a sufficient way. It is fair to blame Bush for gutting FEMA.

Also, the levees weren’t topped. The flooding was largely due to levee failures, which was a maintenance and design issue.

Posted by: gergle at January 15, 2010 7:10 PM
Comment #293842

Stephen, when was the last time you read the preamble, Bill of Rights and the Constitution?

“I don’t see the government as an elite entitled to rule. I see them, quite sincerely, as servants of the people, and the extent that they differ from that is the extent I seek to kick their asses back into shape.”

They are the peoples’ choices to act in the our interests. Not servants, not hired lackeys but elected by us for our benefit(supposedly).

“I know the ideal isn’t the reality. But I know the fear folks have, that the government is too huge to be accountable, too big to be managed, is also not the reality. The truth of the matter is, the role of the government is not to stand aloof and only do a few things. It is to do what the people want it to do, within the bounds of the constitution, the generally agreed upon limits of political power in the country.”

Do you really understand what us peasants fear? Loss of the right to free speech, protect our homes and families, to travel freely about this country, a fair trial, to be able to provide shelter and the basic necessities to live. Why may I have to tell some bureaucrat what I am growing in my gardens, raising as farm critters to feed the family and use as barter with other like minded folks. It is none of their business!! What right does any corporation have to tell me what type of seed I can save or grow. What gives them the right to tamper with this fragile eco-system to the point of preventing ‘fruit’ from having viable seed or putting poison into the DNA sequencing and not having to let the public know if that is what they are eating? What right does this government have to allow its people to be poisoned by the very food they eat?

“The Republicans, unfortunately have succeeded in convincing folks that the government isn’t theirs, that folks should resist their own ability and impulse to intervene in the governing of their lives. No, no, don’t mess around in things. We’re here to protect you from that.”

The government is NO-LONGER ours in the true sense of the Constitution.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/president-obama-signs-executive-order-establishing-council-governors

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Presidential-Memoranda-9/30/09

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Presidential-Memorandum-Concerning-National-Security

These are just a couple of the items that anyone can read on the www.whitehouse.gov site. Now I am just a country girl but why only extend certain ones for only 6mo. or a year?

Posted by: Kathryn at January 15, 2010 7:13 PM
Comment #293843

gergle,

I think the word was out that the levee’s were too weak, not too short, to hold back a surge of water.

I’ll go along with those who say the problem has been obvious for several years, and past presidents failed to act in reinforcing those levees. That being said…if it was known for several years, and if Cheney/Bush was warned that Katrina might be the one…why the deer-in-the-headlights reaction when it took place? Why the delayed and inadequate responses?

My feelings about Cheney/Bush’s idiotic, insane, stupid, and unwarranted war in Iraq may cloud my judgment on his responsibilities regarding Katrina…but, damn it, he was a sorry president there too.

I

Posted by: Marysdude at January 15, 2010 7:23 PM
Comment #293844

Marysdude,
Bush had the same delayed response to the tsunami that killed so many people. It took him three days to say anything. He had been on vacation. When he did act, it was to promise a woefully inadequate amount of money to the response. To the credit of the military in particular, the US did eventually respond in a big way, but Bush proved himself sorry there too.

Kathy,
Your first link describes an advisory council, a forum. It has no legally binding power. Why does that undermine anything belonging to ‘We the people’? As for immigration, I favor opening the doors and letting everyone in… And I think the War on Terror has been a colossal waste of time and money for the past six or seven years, so yeah, we would be better off without it… The militaristic response has actually been counter-productive, and made the situation since 2003 worse, not better…

Posted by: phx8 at January 15, 2010 7:50 PM
Comment #293852

I know this is a little off thread, but has anyone here heard Rush’s diatribe against Obama on the earthquake?

I especially liked his referrences to the ‘black’, ‘near black’ er ‘light black’…

I used to cringe every time David Duke opened his mouth, and felt actual shame at being a white man, because I had to share that term with Duke. But, all those feelings pale in comparison to my revulsion for Rush Limbaugh, and my regret of having to share the earth with him.

Posted by: Marysdude at January 15, 2010 10:52 PM
Comment #293853

Marysdude,

One can hope with his faked heart attack he has renewed his oxycontin prescriptions and will soon go the way of Michael Jackson. Hell, maybe he’s using propanol, too. Maybe someone can give his illegal alien staff, that he cops his street dope from, an extra dose.

Like Christopher Hitchens made clear about Fallwell, I won’t mourn his or Pat
Robertson’s passing.

Posted by: gergle at January 15, 2010 11:03 PM
Comment #293857

gergle,

Thanks, I needed that…shudder! I was afraid I was the only one who felt this way about those pieces of whale blubber. George Wallace, David Duke, Strom Thurman, Jesse Helms…ahh, for the good old days…

In any case, we’ve worried ourselves sick over taxation, and allowed our infrastructure to fall into third world condition, and now we won’t be able to afford to do much rebuild because the finance houses suck money up too fast for even taxes to help refurbish anything major. When we do get some folks back to work, it’ll be for minimum wages or less…damn, I’m depressed…

If education can be assessed as part of our infrastructure, Georgia reduced education budgets by about thirteen percent last year, and the governor just announced a further reduction of four percent for the new budget. If other states are doing that, can you imagine us being able to compete with the rest of the advanced nations of the world? Damn,I’m sick…I think we should give ourselves another tax cut…make it for the wealthiest among us…Reaganomics, that’s the answer. Cut taxes…our corporations will lead us out of the quagmire…

Posted by: Marysdude at January 15, 2010 11:51 PM
Comment #293859

Kathryn-
I haven’t read it in a while, but I’ve got a good memory.

I’m not one of these people in a panic about the government. They are paid and employed by us, and they ultimately cannot defy our will. Even if it comes to violence, Americans will not be so easily bowed.

I do not see any reason to acknowledge the credibility of your charges. I don’t see much there that is of substance.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 16, 2010 1:11 AM
Comment #293861

Stephen,

It has been the barkshooter’s claim from day one. There was considerable turmoil after the Revolution, and that claim was the cause of the great Civil War. It is insescent claim, and perhaps serves a purpose. You will admit that given rein any horse will take over the chase…our government is no different. So, if they want to gang up to run around in the woods shooting bark off of trees, more power to them. But, as the Civil War prooved, sometimes they become strong enough to impact the rest of us. This may be one of those times, ie., Tea Partiers, Ditto Heads, 700 Clubs, etc., are joining forces with the Posse Comitatus, the Covenant Sword & Arm of the Lord, KKK, and that bunch. Once they cohese, Kathryn, Rhinehold et al can say, “We told you so”. And I can say, “Thanks for nothing”.

Posted by: Marysdude at January 16, 2010 6:43 AM
Comment #293863

Stephen, if it all comes to violence wouldn’t that be the extreme side of people saying that the government is not listening to the people? I know that several of our Senators and Reps have blantently(sp) said they know what is better for us than the majority of their constituents. They are not Dems either. The Posse Comitatus was overturned years ago in an executive order.

PHX8 - since when does a President need a Governor’s Council and did you actually read the article it pertains to? It goes against the Constitution to use the Regular Armed Forces within our boundries, that is the job of the Reserve, Guard and yes, the militias - those everyday people you work alongside. I don’t mean the nutjobs either.

Posted by: Kathryn at January 16, 2010 8:25 AM
Comment #293868

Kathryn-
The council is an advisory one. It has no authority on its own. Point to me where in the constitution it says that the President cannot ask governors to provide him with advice.

The President cites a law concerning the refugee numbers; as President, he can carry out any constitutional law written out by the congress.

As for that memorandum concerning national security, Posse Comitatus deals with the use of soldiers in a law enforcement capacity, which it forbids in most cases. It exempts the Coast Guard, law enforcement on bases, and other things.

So answer this question: what’s the violation you’re speaking of here?

Everybody else-
I think of things in terms of a chain of custody for the chief executives; each one hands off their responsibilities to the next. Within reasonable limits, I think it’s the executive’s duty to apprise themselves of the challenges and issues facing the people of this country.

The buck passes to the current chief executive. In Bush’s case, some of the first reports he must have seen had to be reports concerning the potential vulnerabilities. He had a full term to address potential vulnerabilities, and high on many folk’s list was New Orleans.

A strong executive, in the sense of management skills would say: tell me what’s up with New Orleans. Then they would act accordingly.

I feel Bush had the opportunity. He also had the opportunity to make sure FEMA and other such agencies could take part in the necessary operations to mitigate disasters.

If we want objectively good results from this government, then our standards can’t simply be partisan sensibilities about the right philosophy of government. The primary measurements we must make must be made based on results. Conservative or Liberal, the object of our political manuevers, of our questions, of our oversight, must be guaranteeing that what the government does, it does well, and what needs to be attended to, is attended to.

That’s my attitude. The purpose of the folks we have in Washington cannot simply be to hold power, whatever philosophy they subscribe to. Their purpose, ultimately, must be to use that power for good result for the rest of the country.

My biggest problem with the filibuster, if y’all want to know, is in how much it makes the political bargaining with a few important, rather than the consensus of the many. Now occasionally, it helps to have people stand up for their ideals and principles, but this government was constructed so that general interests would dominate over special interests, while allowing states and municipalities to construct there priorities their way.

We must think of the way the government operates both when we’re in power, and out of power, and moderate our sensibilities about what power our people should lay hold of accordingly.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 16, 2010 12:38 PM
Comment #293870

Kathryn,

You are speaking in German and I am listening in French…this is the Posse Comitatus of which I speak:

>The Posse Comitatus is an intermittently active, loosely organized group of “Christian Identity” activists dedicated to survivalism, vigilantism, and anti-government agitation.

…you know…bark shooters who hate the guvment…and Jews…and blacks…and anyone who don’t see things their way.

Posted by: Marysdude at January 16, 2010 1:55 PM
Comment #293871

Dude
Sounds like a lot of liberals except with the hate guvment, just put luv guvmment.

Posted by: KAP at January 16, 2010 3:07 PM
Comment #293872

KAP,

Nope, us libruls don’ like skeeters…er guns…er mud…er…er…but, luv is too strong a word. Libruls like to USE guvment, mostly fer what it’s intended fer.

Posted by: Marysdude at January 16, 2010 3:54 PM
Comment #293873

Dude
Yea handouts from the guvment.

Posted by: KAP at January 16, 2010 4:06 PM
Comment #293881

Stephen,

You said,

I think of things in terms of a chain of custody for the chief executives; each one hands off their responsibilities to the next. Within reasonable limits, I think it’s the executive’s duty to apprise themselves of the challenges and issues facing the people of this country. The buck passes to the current chief executive. In Bush’s case, some of the first reports he must have seen had to be reports concerning the potential vulnerabilities. He had a full term to address potential vulnerabilities, and high on many folk’s list was New Orleans. A strong executive, in the sense of management skills would say: tell me what’s up with New Orleans. Then they would act accordingly.

Stehpn, while I understand while you feel this way, this standard is impossibly high. The U.S. federal government is the single largest organization in the world. To acheive that expectation, the President would have to be both omniscient and omnipotent.

Instead, I measure a President and their management of an administration against these criteria:


  • The way that they react to new problems

  • The leadership decisions that they make on existing initiatives, especially major ones

  • The quality of their leadership on new initiatives

For the first point, I agree with you that Bush fails on the handling of the Katrina disaster just as Carter was failed on the handling of the Iran hostages.

For the second point, history failed Johnson and Nixon on Vietnam despite it being initiated under previous administrations (Eisenhower and Kennedy)

For the third point, history failed Kennedy on the Bay of Pigs and exalted him for the moon landing. Similarly, Bush will likely be failed spectacularly on Iraq.

To expect a President to be able to both command and control the entirety of the Federal initiatives is an impossible standard. There is good reason that the civil service protections exist to allow those that the do the majority of the work of the government to continue regardless of who is in charge.

Those servents screw up royally from time to time. How their leader handles those screw-ups, it is fair to question them on, but to expect them to have prevented them I think it is not.

Posted by: Rob at January 16, 2010 5:33 PM
Comment #293897

SD et al
California has and is spending a ton on retro-fitting bridges and public building. This is agood thing. Their are also problems with private building that are going unaddressed. In the LA area,an area that WILL endure a great quake, a building style emerged for apartment houses that have parking areas on the first floor. Esentially there is very little shear value, no interior walls,one wall not even there for the entrance. They will collaspe. There are thousands of these buildings and not enough political support to fixing them to overcome the power of the landlords. They should really be evacuated until retroed. Point is we should not be smug. A great quake in LA will also kill thousands.
I did some reading not long ago about the 1906 quake in SF. Within 24 hours there were federal troops there. This is in an era that relied on telegraph and had not helecopters and planes. How long did it take to get troops to New Orleans,4-5 days?Bush just blew it.
Another amuzing tale of the SF quake was when,ala Pat Robertson, some
“Christians” tried to blame the sinners of a very wild SF for bringing down the wrath of God, it was pointed out to them that all the churces in the city were destroyed but the huge whiskey wharehouse was spared.

Posted by: bills at January 16, 2010 9:21 PM
Comment #293908

Speaking of preparing infrastructure for an earthquake, does anyone know how well prepared the Memphis area is for the next earthquake from the New Madrid Fault?
It’s probably more constructive to talk about preventing the next catastrophe rather than rehashing arguments about one that already happened.

Posted by: Warped Reality at January 16, 2010 10:46 PM
Comment #293911
How long did it take to get troops to New Orleans,4-5 days?Bush just blew it.

Do we HAVE to keep debunking this nonsense?

Dozens of National Guard and Coast Guard helicopters flew rescue operations that first day—some just 2 hours after Katrina hit the coast. Hoistless Army helicopters improvised rescues, carefully hovering on rooftops to pick up survivors. On the ground, “guardsmen had to chop their way through, moving trees and recreating roadways,” says Jack Harrison of the National Guard. By the end of the week, 50,000 National Guard troops in the Gulf Coast region had saved 17,000 people; 4000 Coast Guard personnel saved more than 33,000. These units had help from local, state and national responders, including five helicopters from the Navy ship Bataan and choppers from the Air Force and police. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries dispatched 250 agents in boats. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), state police and sheriffs’ departments launched rescue flotillas. By Wednesday morning, volunteers and national teams joined the effort, including eight units from California’s Swift Water Rescue. By Sept. 8, the waterborne operation had rescued 20,000.

While the press focused on FEMA’s shortcomings, this broad array of local, state and national responders pulled off an extraordinary success—especially given the huge area devastated by the storm. Computer simulations of a Katrina-strength hurricane had estimated a worst-case-scenario death toll of more than 60,000 people in Louisiana. The actual number was 1077 in that state.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/specials/features/2315076.html?page=1&c=y

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 17, 2010 12:32 AM
Comment #293917

Rhinehold, the national guard is the State’s militia, with a federal proviso for activation by federal authorities. The State’s governor had the power to engage the State’s national guard, and required no response from the White House, which is precisely what came from the White House, for many days.

Nice try at Bush apologist propaganda, but, no cigar. The White House had the authority to initiate food and water drops on Day 1 using federal resources. It didn’t, for a week, as Bush and Brownie conferred about the Great job Brownie was doing, and Bush et. al. contemplated how to turn the disaster into a photo op for the president flying over the region without getting his feet wet, figuratively and literally.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 17, 2010 4:11 AM
Comment #293918

Warped Reality, preparing for the next New Madrid quake is an economic impossibility. As you may know, earthquakes are far more devastating to structures built upon silts and soil, as opposed to being anchored in bedrock. The Midwest and points east of the Fault, are built largely sedimentary deposits. Retrofitting these structures is an economic impossibility. The good news is, that lower structures (1 to 3 stories) sitting atop sedimentary soils sink and lean in an earthquake due to liquifaction, as opposed to collapsing and shearing. Which means the survival rate will be relatively high for dwellers, provided rescue efforts for such vast populations of affected people can be efficiently and effectively distributed to those in need.

Many, but not all, taller structures are anchored to bedrock, skyscrapers for example, and from what I understand, should survive the quake at 7.+ without catastrophic structural failure according to many engineers studying the issue. There is far less consensus however, as the magnitude exceeds 7.4, however, and quake duration and seismic harmonics will play a significant role in determining the durability of such higher rising structures, from what I understand. I am not well educated in this field, and am recalling what I have read and watched on the Science and National Geographic channels.

I selected where I live very deliberately to be both beyond the reach of Tsuanamis, (all bets off with asteroid or comet collision, of course), and earth quakes. I live in probably one of the geologically safest areas of the U.S. in Central Texas, which could detect and feel a New Madrid quake, but, not experience any damage.

Of course, I have to say, we didn’t buy our house. Only the land. We built our house with our own hands, and our foundation rests on bare limestone, and all structural joints are tied with hurricane joinery hardware and diagonal wind thrust supports embedded in the 2x8 stud walls, just for good measure. That was because we live at the bottom most edge of Tornado Alley.

Our net extra cost for boosting the structural integrity was about $4000 in materials. An investment in peace of mind that has already paid for itself. I had a college prof. who was fond of pointing out in philosophy class that what you don’t know can destroy your life and efforts. I took him quite literally during the decision process as to where and how to build our home. If only a few hundred million other Americans could have taken his lecture course, we wouldn’t have to be worrying so much about natural disasters, and their economic impact.

That’s the rub about America carrying such high national debt. The time will come when massive borrowing will be required to meet emergency events, and such high levels of national debt threaten our ability to borrow when we will need to the most to recover.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 17, 2010 4:34 AM
Comment #293919

Never worry, never fret…in case of a serious national emergency, GE, Wal-Mart and AT&T will come to our rescue. Isn’t that why our idolatry of corporations? AIG and Goldman will be so grateful for our bail-outs that they will gladly pay the costs of rescue. They are such patriotic citizens that we give them citizenship status, right? ADM and Tyson will feed and water the survivors, right?

Oh, well…there’s always China and the UN…

Posted by: Marysdude at January 17, 2010 5:31 AM
Comment #293921

There was money in the Clinton budget to improve the NO levees. It was cut out so Bush could give his rich buddies a big tax break. Whether or not that funding would have stopped the flooding or not is anybodies guess,suely,but to say the Clinton White House was not aware and responding is incorrect.

Christine

NO is and will be a major port city. Much of what you say about letting the coastal region go back to cypress makes sense for future storm protection but there is going to be a city there. Its at the mouth of the country’s biggest navigable river with a tremendous amount of frieght from the mid-west dependant on it.

Posted by: bills at January 17, 2010 7:21 AM
Comment #293922

David,

Don’t worry, you’ll die of thirst when the aquifer dries up in the next drought, and the F5 tornado rips through town :)

Posted by: gergle at January 17, 2010 7:22 AM
Comment #293924

Oh BTW Monsanto just won another victory in court, now Dupont hast to go after them on anti-trust laws. Seems they may be controlling the seed industry a wee bit too much. Of course the had Duponts help developing the ‘Round Up gene’ that is in the corn and soybean the days. Lord help the Haitians if their farmers get nothing but GMO seed - in this I will pray that they don’t. They need good, healthy seed.

For all those who think I don’t know what I am talking about….I usually give just enough and hope you will look further into the subject instead on me having to spell it all out. Don’t get a lot of computer time. Personally I would rather read from books than scroll through screens.

This link is a very well written research paper from a Colonel while at War College in 2005

http://handle.dtic.mil/100.2/ADA433672

This link shows how PCA was originally intended to be used.

http://archives.econ.utah.edu/archives/aut-op-sy/1999m12/msg00019.htm

This link shows what happened last year and when one of the latest changes to the PCA was made in 2007. They just can’t leave this Act alone that was meant to protect the people from our own government if it got out of control and from forces coming from outside our borders.

http://www.infowars.com/us-army-puts-soldiers-on-the-street-in-alabama-in-response-to-shootings/

Posted by: Kathryn at January 17, 2010 8:39 AM
Comment #293927
Rhinehold, the national guard is the State’s militia, with a federal proviso for activation by federal authorities. The State’s governor had the power to engage the State’s national guard, and required no response from the White House, which is precisely what came from the White House, for many days.

I would suggest re-reading the facts, I wasn’t aware that the governor of a state could order the use of Navy ships and Army/Air Force planes/helicopters, as was done in the first hours after Katrina.

It has nothing to do with being a ‘Bush Apologist’ and everything to do with being factual. Something I’m afraid others are simply not willing to do, for their own agendas.

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 17, 2010 10:19 AM
Comment #293928
There was money in the Clinton budget to improve the NO levees. It was cut out so Bush could give his rich buddies a big tax break. Whether or not that funding would have stopped the flooding or not is anybodies guess,suely,but to say the Clinton White House was not aware and responding is incorrect.

So much BS it’s astounding. Not only is it factually incorrect, but it defies all logic to boot. That anyone believes this ‘position’ is just a display of the unwillingness to debate FACTS over desire to increase political power.

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 17, 2010 10:21 AM
Comment #293930

I thought I would delve deeper on the last comment, when I made it I just didn’t have the time, but I thought it would help those who might be reading it and wonder what the basis of my statement was…

First, Bills makes the comment “There was money in the Clinton budget to improve the NO levees.” Now, which budget was this? If the money was ‘in the budget’ then why wasn’t it spent? Budgets are year to year, so the notion that Bush cut something from a Clinton budget seems dubious to begin with. BUT, let’s say that Clinton did, in his last year, decide that the NO levees needed fixing, something he took no action on working on for 7 years before. And let’s say, for expediency, that Bush cut that program after taking office (would love to see any evidence of this, but what the heck). We’ll continue on with the statement.

It was cut out so Bush could give his rich buddies a big tax break.

SO, Bush, who set records for deficit spending until this year, felt he had to ‘cut’ a program in order to give out a tax break to every taxpayer? I suppose all of the taxpayers in the US are ‘Bush’s Rich Buddies’, I mean, if you can afford to pay taxes you much be rich, right? Because that tax cut in 2001 WAS for everyone, not just the rich, despite the inane meme that the left wants to keep preaching over and over and over again…

Ok, so we are supposed to believe that Bush felt the need to cut this funding that Clinton put into his last budget (which was in no way ‘balanced’ but was in the red) to ‘pay for’ giving out tax cuts to the American taxpayer in order to stave off the recession that he was inheriting… Defies all logic. It also assigns ‘motive’, which clearly Bills does not know or have proof of.

Finally,

to say the Clinton White House was not aware and responding is incorrect.

You’ll have to provide evidence of this because the fact that Clinton DIDN’T do anything about the problem until (your contention) 2000 seems to point to exactly this fact that you are saying is incorrect.

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 17, 2010 12:26 PM
Comment #293931

Interested parties may want to check this Fact Check piece, and make up their own minds about Cheney/Bush complicity in the levee failures. There is plenty of blame to go around, but to deny the Cheney/Bush budget cuts that took monies from levee revamping is, to say the least, disingenuous.

http://www.factcheck.org/article344.html

Posted by: Marysdude at January 17, 2010 12:50 PM
Comment #293934

Stephen,

Your views on infrastructure needs is vindicated by every study, by every expert and by mere general observation. It would take an idiot or dolt to think our transportation, communication, energy and utility systems are not woefully lacking and deteriorating.

Posted by: Marysdude at January 17, 2010 1:21 PM
Comment #293935

You have a state that has a Democrat Governor, Democrat Senators and Congressman, Democrat Parrish Administrators with Democrat Mayors that wait and wait to act and you believe the problems are with a Republican Administration. It amazes me how blind you Americans are politically.

The Constitution is still in effect and President Bush followed state rights amendments and if your elected officials are so impotent that they cannot get needed repairs to levees or any other infrastructure projects that are needed for your survival, vote them out of office, don’t blame the other side for your lack of forthought or ignorance.

Posted by: MikeE at January 17, 2010 1:25 PM
Comment #293936

Only ignorance would conclude that any entity but the federal government should be responsible for a federal project like containment levees, put in place and maintained by the federal government. If the state had even attempted to do anything to or about those levees the feds would have dropped an Abomb on ‘em. Get real…

Posted by: Marysdude at January 17, 2010 1:32 PM
Comment #293939

Dude
The feds are responsible but we can take that responsibility back to whoever was President at the time the levees were put in place to the present. To blame one administration on their failure is ignorance or as MikeE said blind politics. We can probably blame the last 3 or4 past administrations for the failure.

Posted by: KAP at January 17, 2010 3:20 PM
Comment #293942

Kap,

Reread or first read 293931. Then get back to me…okay?

Posted by: Marysdude at January 17, 2010 4:09 PM
Comment #293943

The question, Was Bush the only one who did this?
Like I said We can go back 3 or 4 administrations for blame. Like the article said those levees were built to withstand Cat 3 hurricanes. Like I said to blame one administration on the failure is IGNORANCE or BLIND POLITICS.

Posted by: KAP at January 17, 2010 4:40 PM
Comment #293944

Kathryn-
The Paper from the military source doesn’t constitute policy by itself. The employment of National Guard troops to handle riots and possible riots is a well known exception to Posse Comitatus. Finally, let us note that Congress has made alterations that restrict domestic use of military troops for law enforcement. This we can tell because Bush signed a signing statement indicating that he wasn’t going to let that stop him, indicating that this provision is most likely going to be enforced, given the dim attitude the Obama administration takes on the Unitary Executive theory of the President’s power.

KAP-
It would be Much easier for Republicans to move beyond Bush’s legacy, if they admitted he had one.

Rob-
I appreciate your response, and agree for the most part with your points. However, I think what makes Bush’s troubles with Katrina of particular significance is his restructuring of the federal disaster mitigation authority, FEMA in particular, and the fact that essentially political hacks got put in there, in the place of professionals like James Lee Witt. I could give him a pass on the levees if there had been something in the pipeline, but if I’m not mistaken, funds were actually cut for that.

So, we’re left with the response. And that was so deficient, I recall even FOXNews folks losing patience with the Bush Administration.

That, I think, is what made Katrina an albatross around Bush’s neck. It was the all around failure of a system that tried to do things the low maintenance way.

Rhinehold-
On the subject of the Coast Guard and others, I did neglect to mention that, and nobody should underestimate the good they did. In fact, it would be a key part of my argument that what they were able to do, having suffered grievous damage to their equipment and base shows that much of the trouble with bush getting aid in Was likely due more to the bureaucratic mishandling of the situation rather thanthe impediments of the situation alone.

Out as long as one of us is trying to play “gotcha”, I might as well say that I think Marysdude has you on the funding issue.

The stubborn insistence that everybody shares equally in the blame smacks of “social promotion” type logic. Folks will rightly comment on the quality of Obama’s response to the earthquake in Haiti. The ball is in Obama’s court. To expect that Obama would not shoulder responsibility for disaster responses on his watch would be unrealistic on my part.

To be honest with you, one reason I’m such a hardass on these matters, is that I believe he lowered standards for the presidency while he was in office, and feel compelled to make sure that those standards don’t remain permanently lowered. No president, not a Democrat nor a Republican should be given cover to fail so miserably.

Mike E-
If you’re talking about Americans at second hand you must not be familiar enough with states’ rights doctrines to know that disaster mitigation has long been done by the Feds.

You must also be unfamiliar with what even a midlevel Hurricane is Capable of, much less a catastrophic monster like Katrina. I went through Ike just about a year or so ago and that was no picnic. We had Rita, the year Katrina hit. finally, there was tropical storm Allison The only tropical Storm to ever have its name retired. Go back and look that one up.

At the very least, yon should understand that the damage to a city or States ability to function is profound.

Out there’s another issue to consider. Put plainly: these storms often affect multiple states, which by default makes them federal Matters. I hope I’ve cleared up what that mean. constitutionally.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 17, 2010 5:02 PM
Comment #293951

S.D.
I agree that Bush made many mistakes on his watch, but I do not think he should shoulder all the responsibility of the levee failure. The screw ups after “Yes”. But even then I put some of the blame on the Louisana government.

Posted by: KAP at January 17, 2010 5:59 PM
Comment #293954

Dear Stephen,
For your information I live in Florida and lived through 5 Hurricanes in 2004. Boiled water for a week and had no electricity for 10 days, I am fully aware of the capabilities of any hurricane that comes ashore. Our home was also destroyed in 1992 by an F4 tornado.Our family was fully prepared and survived both ordeals with minimal disomfort thanks to a fantasic local government and wonderful family.

My point is that any American that waits around for the feds for a plan or assistance is a fool. That’s why voters can’t count on the fed to repair healthcare or fix the economy, they only care about themselves and their political power and you all fall for it, no matter what party they belong to. You can only count on your local officials and you should know their plans well ahead of time. You all waste each others time with right or left, its right or wrong.

Posted by: Mike E at January 17, 2010 7:35 PM
Comment #293955

Mike E
That is the way liberals think, they need the feds to get them through life. They want big government, they want the government to provide for them from cradle to grave. To do something on their own would be a travisty.

Posted by: KAP at January 17, 2010 7:43 PM
Comment #293963

That’s got to be the stupidest, most illogical thing I’ve read on this site (with the exception of a few trolls). You’ve can’t be serious…well, maybe you are, but you have no excuse for it. If we are going to have a government ‘OF the people’, it has to be responsive TO the people. That has nothing to do with babysitting cradle to grave, it has to do with action in response to need. Do you honestly believe we’d have made it this far as a society if our government was unresponsive? What kind of hillbilly has an attitude like that?

Posted by: Marysdude at January 17, 2010 10:59 PM
Comment #293964

Mike E-
I’m not talking about federal mitigation with local help cut out of the picture. I’m saying here, more or less that in many cases, people will no longer have a local government around capable of helping them.

I’m a working balance kind of guy, so don’t confuse me with a liberal stereotype. I find it a bit tiresome when somebody just approaches it as if the philosophy is one of handouts. No, my philosophy is that it costs more to let cities, states and local governments try and crawl out of such messes on their own, and that it’s better if we get the disaster mitigated fast, and the damage healed up as quickly as possible.

That way, everybody can get back to doing business. I don’t think everybody should just count on the government, but I sure as hell don’t want them out of reach when I need their help, when the ****’s gone down, and everything’s been knocked for a loop.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 17, 2010 11:22 PM
Comment #293968

Dude
Then why is it your party is not doing the will of the people? A majority of the people are against what your party is doing and your party is NOT RESPONSIVE to that majority. So by your own admission your party is NOT doing what they got elected to do.

Posted by: KAP at January 18, 2010 12:02 AM
Comment #293972

Until the war was sold to the American people the majority was unwilling to go against Germany. Sometimes the ‘people’ is just a mob. If the ‘people’ could cohere and run things we would not need a government, but the same mentality and hot temper that caused mobs to form and lynchings to happen (mostly by people who were afraid because they were uninformed or ignorant) cause folks to do the things they do. The majority wanted the health care package that is now being worked on, and they voted in the party they thought could get it for them. They wanted it because it is needed and necessary if we wish to have a civilized country. But, those same people who wanted it to begin with have seen that it is difficult and heard (loudly and often) that it is harmful or will cost too much. The need is still there, and government has to respond to the need, not the whimsical waffling of people.

Posted by: Marysdude at January 18, 2010 12:43 AM
Comment #293987

KAP-
Unresponsive to the majority, you say.

Question: are we the party who just got kicked out of the majority four years ago, then even more kicked out of the majority two years ago, yet still is insisting that Americans want their politics to triumph?

Acting like the American people were suffering a bout of temporary insanity when they unelected your people not once but twice in historic wave elections does not constitute being in touch with the majority.

More to the point, the people elected that large majority, yet the Republicans will not let that majority legislate. Isn’t that being out of touch? If we truly weren’t in touch with the American people, then our efforts at legislating things would lead this year to a failure at the polls. But you know, your people didn’t wait for that. You didn’t wait for an organic check on Democratic power to form from popular opposition. No, instead, you folks have pre-emptively cut us out, in order to foster the view that we’re truly ineffectual.

See, the problem is, you’re claiming that the cause could only be going too far left. But if you see the polling, people still want those so-called “far-left” policies. You just have to ask about the actual policies, not the made up ones Republicans claim.

I showed you guys that poll the other day, which had a plurality of people saying that they wanted more done than what the Democrats have done so far. Another 20 or so percent on those questions indicated they felt Democrats had it just right.

That doesn’t sound like a majority opposing our policies for their excessive strength. It sounds like we’re getting opposition on account of its weakness. People want more.

If Republicans stumble into this thinking that they can play the role of white knight, they’ll find out the reason that even now, their approval ratings are lower than the Democrats in Congress, much less Obama’s.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 18, 2010 9:39 AM
Comment #293991
I might as well say that I think Marysdude has you on the funding issue.

Really? So, perhaps YOU can provide the evidence that the funding for fixing the levees, specifically the 17th street levee, in New Orleans was IN the Clinton budget and how Bush removed that funding in order to give tax breaks to the rich? Because I was pretty detailed on how that was BS. That is different than saying that our government didn’t identify the issue as needing fixed or that Bush screwed up. Specifically that Clinton was all on getting them fixed but Bush stopped it from happening.

I am willing to admit I am wrong when I am, but you have to prove it, not just give me emotive rhetoric.

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 18, 2010 10:44 AM
Comment #293992

Stephen
The Republicans lost power because they became Democrats and left behind the ideology of the conservative right. The Democrats are going to loose because they are moving to far to the left, leaving behind the ideology of the conservative left. Those two ideologies are what made America the greatest country on earth.

Like it or not we live in a center/right society, I am a libertarian and find the things that both parties pull today disturbing. In a poll last October 40% of the respondents called themselves conservatives while the Republican Party is becoming less desirable. 20% said they were liberals, the remaining people on the poll called themselves Independents leaning to conservative.

We are becoming a Libertarian/ Conservative country the way it was in the beginning. Our founders wanted the smallest possible government they could have with little or no intervention. We don’t need to turn into Europeans to survive we left their policies behind 200 years ago.

I appreciate the fact that you are not a “Liberal Stereotype” the two parties are what forged the United States; we all need good intelligent debate. The problem we have today is that a party that holds a majority in both houses, can’t even agree with its own members on how to vote on a bill no one in congress wrote or read; yet they have the audacity to blame the other side for not climbing on board, that is appalling.

Posted by: Mike E at January 18, 2010 11:37 AM
Comment #293994

Stephen
Majority of people want HC reform, I am not denying that. The point is a majority of people don’t want the HC reform that is in congress now and your party is NOT responding to them. We need to get this thing right the first time not fix it later on down the line. This is what is hurting your party and what hurt the republicans. People are getting fed up with the BS.

Posted by: KAP at January 18, 2010 11:39 AM
Comment #293996

Rhinehold-
The link Marysdude puts up should be sufficient. The Corp of Engineers indeed asked for money to strengthen that and other levees and maintain or replace the pumping stations keeping the water out. Have you even looked at that link, or do you need a video of Bush cutting funding for that particular link and going “muhahaha, that will show them”? Even the Corp’s assertion in that article is contradicted by other sources, in particular a recent court decision on the matter.

Clinton probably contributed to part of the problem, but Bush contributed plenty, and was there to suffer the consequences of some seriously bad decisions.

I mean, it shouldn’t be this complicated on matters like this: take care of business. Don’t put things off like this when being wrong can cost lives and inflict heavy economic damage. Find somewhere else to cut the budget. Prioritize something that won’t come back to haunt you for cuts.

Mike E-
If you read through my posts and blog entries, you’ll find plenty of evidence to the contrary. I’d say that there’s a strong liberal streak developing in the country.

But if I were to be honest with myself and you, I’d have to say that things aren’t necessarily so simple. What I would say is that people are beginning to fear the consequences of laissez faire economic policies more than they fear the consequences of big government. They are itching to see something done about that. The Tea Partisans exploit that to a certain degree with their anti-corporate rhetoric, but their problem is that they’ve largely been captured by corporate interests as a ready-made field of right-wing dissatisfaction, and their own politics means that they pre-emptively eliminate most of the effective options for reining in the banks and other malefactors.

I disagree with your characterization of the government that the constitution created. Tobe accurate, the comparison must be made apples to apples, rather than apples to oranges. What dot mean?

To understand the impulse of the framers we must look at their situation, and what it was that they traded in when they went to the dealership and got the Constitution. the Articles of Confederation created a much weaker, much less centralized government.

In seeing that, it becomes a much more dubious thing to argue that the general impulse or movement of the framers way a libertarian one.

The comparison between then and now relies on a comparison between a pre-industrial, agrarian society and one like ours, technologically complex and scientifically advanced. They may hove governed less, but there was less to govern.

I happen to think that the experiences of the framers are not the only generation of experiences that we should take heed of. People tried things your way before in many cases, and learned the hard way that things didn’t work us idealized. Much of the growth in government reflects that experience, and it may be unwise in the end to throw that away on account of a generalized sentiment about big government.

Again, on the matter of the bill, I think the pundits and politicians have done your folks a disservice. It’s been months since the basic bill was introduced, and the amendments could likely have been read in the weeks following. While some make hay about the size of the bill, counting thousands of pages, the weird formatting of such printed bills means that if you formatted it, like say the column I’m writing you now, the text would fit within a couple hundred pages or so. Personally, I read that in two or three hours.

So we’re not talking a bill that anybody has had any excuse not to read, and read through thoroughly. I’ve been following this matter, and I can assure you that this has been written on for months. This is simply one more in a never-ending line of excuses that have come from the GOP in the Senate. The truth is, they are unconcerned about the quality of the bill. What concerns them is Obama getting a major political victory and getting credit for it. Like Senator DeMint said, he wants this to be Obama’s Waterloo.

All other claims of principle are cover for this one fact.

But Americans elected us, with us making these promises. And if you go back and look through this entry of mine, there’s proof that the last thing most Americans want is healthcare stalled in the Senate. In fact, a plurality want a bill that goes farther on every front.

The audacity here is how many way and in how many places the Republicans have lied to them in order to win a political game.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 18, 2010 12:51 PM
Comment #293997

KAP-
We could have gotten them something more like what they want, with a Medicare Buy-In or Public Option, but those were the things that our hold-outs explicitly rejected.

The Hold-outs could get these things taken out because they held the final votes necessary to break the filibuster.

The Republicans are responsible for making the margins so tight that the Democrats could not afford to bypass these hold-outs if they wanted to get anything passed.

Therefore, you have the Republicans and the hold-outs they empowered to thank for this, not mainline Democrats who would have chosen a less industry friendly, more populist bill if they had not had to worry about a filibuster.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 18, 2010 12:57 PM
Comment #293999
The link Marysdude puts up should be sufficient.

No, it isn’t because it doesn’t address the original assertion, that Clinton was all over the levee issues, had ordered them fixed and put money for that into the budget and then Bush cut it to pay for a tax cut.

You even help make my point when you say:

Clinton probably contributed to part of the problem, but Bush contributed plenty, and was there to suffer the consequences of some seriously bad decisions.

I never once defended Bush or said that he didn’t do what he could have to fix the issue. If some weren’t trying to make this a partisal political issue, they would address that as you did. Marysdude’s comments were unwilling to do that.

Furthermore, there was no need to cut anything from the budget to pay for a tax cut to all taxpayers because no one stopped deficit spending as we have pointed out. So that part of the suggestion is blatantly wrong as well.

The Corp asked for money in 2003 to be spent on the levees and Bush said no. In no way does that absolve CLINTON for anything to do with the levees that were degraded before Bush took office, nor does it support the assertion that ‘Clinton had money in the budget to take care of the levees and Bush cut it’. Bush cut nothing that Clinton had in the budget concerning the levees.

So, you are ok with the attribution of false information as long as it makes your side look better? Or are you willing to point out the incorrect statements of those you agree with politically when they make them?

Which is it Stephen, is Marysdude’s assertion that Clinton had money in the budget for the levees and Bush cut it to pay for tax cuts for the rich (three parts of that statement I’ve already debunked) or are you ok with giving Clinton a free ride so that you can improve Democrat’s political power?

Why is it bad when Republicans don’t chastize other Republicans when they say things that are wrong to mislead people who don’t check the facts themselves but it is ok for Democrats?

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 18, 2010 1:13 PM
Comment #294001
To understand the impulse of the framers we must look at their situation, and what it was that they traded in when they went to the dealership and got the Constitution. the Articles of Confederation created a much weaker, much less centralized government.

In seeing that, it becomes a much more dubious thing to argue that the general impulse or movement of the framers way a libertarian one.

Wow, how wrong this can be as well… :/

Going from the very weak central government model of the Articles to a less weak central government model that the Constitution provided means that the framers of the constitution were all about a strong central government?

I sometimes wonder if you have even READ what the framers said because I’ve REPEATEDLY shown you to be wrong on this issue time and time again and you still continue to assert your illogical conclusions.

And as I’ve pointed out over and over again, the move to a less ‘farm-centric’ society, which is a bit of a dubious assertion to begin with, means we need MORE protection of individual rights as government looks to violate them, not LESS. When you live on a block of land that is 100 acres, there’s little chance your neighbor can violate your individual rights. When they live 100 FEET from you, there is a much greater chance, and therefore much more need to keep government in check by protecting the individual’s right to self-determination.

It’s ok though, we are either going to rediscover this simple truth or our ideals of such will fail to the whims of the proletariat looking to rule us, one way or the other, time will tell which and what kind of mettle the decendants of the founders have. The future will be the judge, continue as a free country based in the ideals of liberty or go down to the destruction at the hands of the Huns and Visigoths.

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 18, 2010 1:21 PM
Comment #294002

I’m going to do this one more time, and then forget it ever happened. Someone asked for something, and I give it to them, then they ask why it did not come on a silver platter…bah!

My entry said:

Interested parties may want to check this Fact Check piece, and make up their own minds about Cheney/Bush complicity in the levee failures. There is plenty of blame to go around, but to deny the Cheney/Bush budget cuts that took monies from levee revamping is, to say the least, disingenuous.


http://www.factcheck.org/article344.html

NOTE: “There is plenty of blame to go around”

NOTE: The proof is in the pudding, ie., Cheney/Bush cut funding for levee work from the budget Clinton sent forward.

Just how many hairs can be picked here?

If you want more than is provided…YOU look it up!

Jeeeze!

Posted by: Marysdude at January 18, 2010 2:04 PM
Comment #294004

Marysdude,

First, thanks for admitting that your original assertion was wrong, by saying ‘there was plenty of blame to go around’, which you didn’t say before.

Second, unfortunately you STILL continue to assert that levee work was in a budget that Clinton offered and Bush cut. Bush cut a request for funds made in 2003, nothing at all to do with anything Clinton offered and there is no evidence to suggest that Clinton had any intention or desire to fix those levees. He didn’t put funds for that in his budget nor did he get any work started in the 8 years he was in office to do so.

It isn’t about ‘picking hairs’, it is about being factual. If you want to say that Bush cut funds requested by the Corp of Engineers to fix the levees, that’s factual. When you say that he cut money that Clinton had in the budget to fix those levees (if this were the case the Corp wouldn’t have had to REQUEST them) then you are WRONG. Especially considering that the work was continuing in the leadup of Katrina.

Further, you say it was cut to pay for the tax cuts, the ones made in 2001, but further ignore the fact that Bush paid for lots of things he didn’t have the money for, so that assertion is illogical to say the least. If he were under a balanced budget enforcement, then your assertion MIGHT hold weight, but without that you are making an illogical accusation in order to make political gains.

Why isn’t it enough to say that Bush dropped the ball? Why do you have to try to defend the Clinton administration for failing to do anything as well? Other than partisanship?

Oh, and btw, you NEGLECT to mention that the requested levee work would not have been completed until 2015, which would have been about 10 years TOO LATE, so Bush signing off on the funding would have been of NO CONSEQUENCE to Katrina. Further, the program that was mentioned by the Corp was to withstand a Cat 3 hurricane, not a Cat 5… AND you further fail to mention that while the money was ‘cut’, meaning less was in the budget than was requested or spent the previous year, most of it was added back in by the Republican controlled house and senate and signed by the President in the end…

But none of that matters, does it? Because you are just after taking a shot at a President you dislike in a party you don’t support. Facts become irrelevant in that case for some, doesn’t it?

Jeeze indeed. Instead of just acknowledging that you were being flippant and partisan with your original assertion, you are trying to stand behind it now when called out on it.

Again, I have no problem with pointing out that Bush did something wrong, what galls me is the constant comments defending all things Clinton and then trying to suggest it was done to ‘pay back his rich friends’, because that is the type of rhetoric that I’m frankly getting tired of hearing…

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 18, 2010 2:54 PM
Comment #294005

Stephen
Like I told you in the red column, you don’t have ro worry about republicans, it’s WE THE PEOPLE, you Democrats are the ones who are digging their own graves by NOT responding to WE THE PEOPLE and you can get mad all you want but in the end your party is the one blame because they’re NOT listening to WE THE PEOPLE, Ma is a prime example of WE THE PEOPLE speaking up. A blue state possibly going RED.

Posted by: KAP at January 18, 2010 2:57 PM
Comment #294008

Rhinehold,

So how do you feel about death panels and stealing from the Red Cross?

Posted by: gergle at January 18, 2010 4:25 PM
Comment #294009

Gergle,

I’m generally against both. You?

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 18, 2010 5:12 PM
Comment #294010

I’m sorry you have a problem with the facts, Marysdude. Your assertion was that Bush cut the programs that Clinton funded. Let’s see a timeline BEFORE 2001 since that goes directly to your assertion and was not addressed at all in the factcheck article…

2/17/95 - The Clinton budget proposes cutting 98 flood projects to 35 states. In a statement, the Clinton Administration says, and I quote, “Flood control projects are local projects, not national, and should be paid for by local taxes.”

7/26/96 - By a vote of 391-23, the Republican Congress votes to increase spending on flood control projects by $10M more than proposed in the Clinton budget.

7/26/99 - The Republican Congress again votes to increase spending on flood control projects by $16M more than proposed in the Clinton budget.

2/8/2000 - Clinton approves a $1.5B (yes, billion) contract to Avondale to build LPD-17 landing craft. On the same day, he proposes spending cuts on the Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane Protection Project and the West Bank Flood Contol Project.

9/29/2000 - Congress approves a $23.6B Water and Energy Appropriations Bill. The bill proposes $890M more than the Clinton budget for flood control projects. Clinton vetoes the bill.

Let’s remember, your comment was:

“There was money in the Clinton budget to improve the NO levees. It was cut out so Bush could give his rich buddies a big tax break. Whether or not that funding would have stopped the flooding or not is anybodies guess,suely,but to say the Clinton White House was not aware and responding is incorrect.”

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 18, 2010 5:22 PM
Comment #294012

So, let’s parse based on what we know.

There was money in the Clinton budget to improve the NO levees.

Incorrect. It was cut several times from the Clinton budgets but added back in by the Republican controlled congress just as Bush’s propposed cuts were added back in.

It was cut out so Bush could give his rich buddies a big tax break.

Everyone got a tax break in 2001 and the Bush administration had NO PROBLEM with deficit spending, so this assertion is simply absurd.

Whether or not that funding would have stopped the flooding or not is anybodies guess,suely,

No, it is quite clear that it would not have changed the flooding issue in 2005 due to the fact that the proposed fixes were to only withstand a Category 3 hurricane and was not due to be completed until 2015. To assert different would require a breakdown of what projects would have been completed with the additional funds that were cut AND how they would have withstood a Category 5 instead of 3 hurricane.

but to say the Clinton White House was not aware and responding is incorrect.

I think that it is pretty clear that it was aware AND was cutting the program much like Bush was. I’m not sure how you go about praising one and blaming the other, but I am pretty sure partisanship enters into it…

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 18, 2010 5:29 PM
Comment #294017

The US Army Corps of Engineers is generally responsible for the safety of the waterways, this includes the levee systems. They can only repair what they get funded for. This is an article from their site dated 1 Feb 2007 it might give all an insight to the scope of the problems they contend with.

Levee Safety Program

USACE has provided a list of 114 levee projects within its levee safety program that received an unacceptable rating from routine maintenance inspections conducted since Feb. 1, 2007. An unacceptable rating means a project has one or more deficient conditions that can be reasonably foreseen to prevent the project from functioning as designed, intended, or required. This information reflects a snapshot in time. It is dynamic and subject to change as projects are re-inspected, owners correct deficiencies and new data becomes available.

Public safety is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) levee safety program’s number one priority.

USACE shares responsibility among federal, state and local agencies, and private landowners for raising awareness and understanding of the risks associated with living and working behind levees. A levee does not eliminate risk, but can work to buy critical time for local emergency management officials to safely evacuate residents.

USACE has specific authorities to routinely inspect approximately 2,000 levees, or 14,000 miles nationwide as part of its ongoing levee safety program to ensure local sponsors are performing their operations and maintenance (O&M) responsibilities and to determine eligibility for the Rehabilitation and Inspection Program. This includes projects operated and maintained by USACE, projects designed and built by USACE, and non federally built projects eligible for federal rehabilitation assistance if damaged by a flood event. Projects must have an acceptable or minimally acceptable maintenance inspection rating to remain eligible for federal rehabilitation assistance.

Sponsors of projects rated unacceptable may request temporary extensions of eligibility for the Rehabilitation and Inspection Program if taking system-wide steps to reduce flood risks.

Operations and Maintenance is important to levee safety, but it is not the only factor that affects risk and reliability of a levee, and should not be represented as such. It is important to note, there is still a large universe of private and other non Corps levees that have not been inventoried or inspected/assessed. We don’t know the size of this universe, where the levees are located, their condition, or the consequences of failure, loss of life being of paramount concern.

Risk comprises the likelihood that natural events will take place; the performance of a particular levee during an event; and the consequences of failure, loss of life being of paramount concern.

It is important to understand that projects built to the 1 percent flood do not entirely eliminate risk. The 1 percent event, as it relates to the National Flood Insurance Program, is not a safety standard. There remains the risk that the levee could overtop, breach or fail or it could be overwhelmed by an event greater than its design.

Levees alone do not eliminate risk. Flood risk reduction includes a combination of local decisions about land use, zoning, and building codes; outreach and education; local emergency management planning and evacuation plans; and flood insurance.


This list does not include the122 projects identified Feb. 1, 2007. Sixty-three of those 122 projects either did not make the necessary repairs or did not make the repairs within the one year correction period provided. These 63 projects are no longer active in the Corps’ safety program and, therefore, are not eligible for federal rehabilitation funds to repair damages to the levee following a flood event. They may become active if repairs are made and reapply to the program. The remaining 45 projects made the necessary repairs and are active in the Corp’s safety program. 14 projects were erroneously on the list erroneously.


It should be noted that all levees identified on the original “122” list will no longer be tracked as a separate list. The 122 levees were provided a one-time one year correction period as USACE transitioned into a more consistent and comprehensive inspection process. The improved routine inspection processes are now being fully implemented and all levees within the USACE safety program will go through the same inspection procedures.

List of Unacceptably Maintained Levees, 7 February 2009


he US Army Corps of Engineers is generally responsible for the safety of the waterways, this includes levee systems:

Posted by: Kathryn at January 18, 2010 7:09 PM
Comment #294042

Rhinehold

When you live on a block of land that is 100 acres, there’s little chance your neighbor can violate your individual rights.

Was that true in the range wars of the late 1800’s?

I am, however, glad to see you are against death panels and stealing from the Red Cross. So where was your criticisms of these falsehoods by the Republicans, or are you tacitly saying these lies and distortions are OK?

As to your theory about needing more protections against government in higher population density, does that mean you advocate fewer police, firemen and civil oversight, the higher the density goes?

Just trying to untwist the logic here.

Posted by: gergle at January 19, 2010 10:34 AM
Comment #294048

Rhinehold-
I am not trying to absolve anyone. The question is, why do you keep on trying to make the point that everybody was wrong? It’s a tu quoque argument, a fallacious response to may assertion that America needs an overall stronger response to these infrastructure needs. Do you think that just because I was for Clinton, I was for everything he did?

You try and catch me being a blindly unreasoning partisan here, instead of taking the easy, and better way out of not doubting my sincerity.

The problem with your line of Rhetoric is that it essentially has the effect of driving down standards. Republicans use your exact arguments to avoid accountability.

As for my Reponse to MikeE…

You know, you have to measure things from their point of view, not ours, because their motivations did not come about from the thinking and the sentiments of a version of their country that would only exist two hundred years in the future.

They had a weaker government, a less centralized one. They went for a stronger central government, so much so that some people were unwilling to vote for ratification unless a bill of rights limiting the Federal Government’s powers was passed to amend it.

This was the crucial dividing line that created John Adam’s Federalist Party, and Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party. Jefferson’s folks were uncomfortable with the government that he constitution created.

To cite the framers is always to play a game of perspectives, for they were no more of one mind than any of us are today. We must look at the sum and the intersection of their collective agreement.

And what came of it? A Constitution that more explicitly, more broadly empowered the government. Now, will I argue that because the framers moved in that direction, we should always move in that direction? No.

What I would argue is that it’s a mischaracterization that the framers moved for a smaller, less powerful government ipso facto, on the face of the facts themselves. They moved to a considerably more centralized and more powerful government.

An agrarian, low tech society doesn’t require as much looking after. People see to their own needs more, and you don’t have to negotiate so many conflicts. You don’t have to deal with technologies that extend the reach of people’s actions, and the consequences thereof.

The thing of it is, such an existence is closer to what we’re naturally adapted to, and therefore something can more easily feel their way through.

Civilization gets complex, because when you stuff people together in cities, a lack of coordination means folks step on each other’s toes way too much. Freedom, if not limited in some cases, must at least be channelled in such a way that it doesn’t all become a zero sum game where folks feel compelled to see to their interests the old-fashioned way: taking what they think is theirs by violence.

KAP-
Don’t patronize me, and don’t claim that much credit. In case you didn’t read one of my previous columns, there are more people who have a problem with the bill in Congress not doing enough than have a problem with it doing too much.

I think it’s presumptive, especially given the Right Wing’s track record, to claim the support of We The People.

As for Massachussetts perhaps going red, a little history lesson: Mass. was once a Republican Stronghold, back when the GOP was a northern industrial party. Teddy Kennedy got his seat from a Republican. Very recently, Mitt Romney was governor of that state. So I wouldn’t say that it’s a sudden shocking event to have moderate Republicans voted for.

That said, I wouldn’t count the chickens before they’re hatched.

The question here is whether your folks are listening, and I think the question that may decide this election and others, is whether Republicans are listening to the American people.

I don’t think they are, so any confusion they sow, with their vitriolic rhetoric is merely going to resolve to a realization that however bad or hindered the Democrats are, the Republicans represent the rather contemptible status quo itself.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 19, 2010 12:46 PM
Comment #294055

Stephen
Answer one question, Why is it that liberals can’t take that a majority of people don’t want the BS that they are pushing and have to resort to dubious tactics to shove it down their throats and that goes for the radical right to?

Posted by: KAP at January 19, 2010 2:22 PM
Comment #294121
I am not trying to absolve anyone.

I hate to break this to you Stephen, but what I wrote had nothing to do with anything you said. I was responding to another person’s comment who WAS trying to absolve Clinton.

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 19, 2010 10:46 PM
Comment #294124
What I would argue is that it’s a mischaracterization that the framers moved for a smaller, less powerful government ipso facto, on the face of the facts themselves. They moved to a considerably more centralized and more powerful government.

No, they didn’t.

Let’s use a number line system. Let’s say that the Articles was about a 5 on the ‘centralized/decentralized’ scale that goes from 1 to 100. The constitution authors moves us to a 10 on that scale. All the while putting in hard limits to prevent it from going farther down the line.

Now, we are around 60-65 on that line…. You are pushing us to go to 75. At 100 is the elimination of state lines because there is no reason for them anymore.

You think that 75 is good, perhaps even farther, I say we should be at 25. If I could get back on the other side of 50 in my lifetime I would feel that was a success.

Your constant assertions that somehow the framers had what we have now in mind when they wrote the constitution is so diametrically opposed to WHAT THEY WROTE when writing it that it boggles the mind…

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 19, 2010 10:53 PM
Post a comment