August 23, 2006

Katrina One Year On

As we approach the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we should remember the lessons. Fortunately, this season looks a lot more benign. (Some people said global warming was to blame for last year; they saying less now.) Katrina represented a failure at all levels of government or maybe we should reassess what we ask of government.

Spike Lee recently completed a documentary where he indulges racist conspiracy theories, but the truth is this disaster tested the limits (maybe showed us the limits) of what society can rightly expect from government.

Some people clearly have become too dependent on big brother. What did they expect? If the government had possessed perfect prescience about the storm a week before, what could they have done differently? Not much. The only thing that should have been different is that people should have left New Orleans, which is something all those people stuck at the Superdome could have done anyway.

Otherwise, we have essentially the same result. It is a terrible thing that homes were washed into the sea. It is horrible that whole communities are now gone. But even if this had been perfectly foreseen, it could not have been prevented. In the case of nature's savage fury, our only option is to get out of the way. Smart people know that.

Some things could have been done years before. We can now see in retrospect what we should have done and we should do them now to prepare for next time - because there will be a next time.

If you go to the Gulf Coast, you find an interesting variation about what survived and what didn't. It is the new construction, those houses built in the last 50 years were wiped out. Some of the older houses survived. Why? In the past, people knew they could not beat the storms, so they built stronger houses and they built on higher ground. Sometimes we are not talking big differences. A gentle rise of 20 feet might make all the difference.

It is clear that some places are not suitable for building. We have lots of space in America. We need not build on land that will wash away or be under water when the weather turns foul. Often this poor building land is cheap or has good views. It is still wrong. We should have no sympathy for those who are fooled again and maybe we should not approve the building permits or allow payments to rebuild on low areas best left to the trees and turtles. The smart move is not to solve problems; it is to avoid them in the first place.

We need not rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast as it was. We can do better. By the time the storm is on the horizon, it is too late.

Finally, let's ask what we want of the Gulf Coast. There are people who have been living there for generations who are leaving never to return. Their places will be taken by well off individuals, maybe retirees who have a shorter time frame. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but we need to think about it. I think it is probably inevitable that the change will come. The Gulf Coast is very beautiful and pleasant. It is no surprise that the first things rebuilt are hotels and casinos. These things represent very large investments, but if they are washed into the sea in 20 years, owners are faced with an expense, not a human tragedy. Maybe that is the way to go.

And next time the hurricane comes, people shoud get out of the way.

Posted by Jack at August 23, 2006 11:31 PM
Comment #177159

The criticisms of the government, especially the Federal government, are very well placed.

Before the storm, the Federal government repeatedly ignored warning from experts that the levees were not strong enough. Then, the levess they had built that were supposed to be Category 3 were unable to withstand the overflow equal to direct hit from a Category 1 storm, perhaps a weak 2. But thats not the governments fault.

After the storm hit, it was full five days before there was any meaningful federal response. Mayor Nagin issued a mandatory evacuation, the first in the city’s history, on Saturday. The storm hit on Monday. That was all he could do.

Governor Blanco informed King George days before the storm exactly what the situation could be and was told she would have federal support, This is videotaped. You can see the King’s mouth move, you can hear his words.

Then came the waiting. FEMA was useless. An agency that had been praised as the best emergency response organization in the world, that had performed so amazingly during earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes in the past, was so immasculated by being lumped into the Homeland Security behemoth they couldn’t even dial the phone without Chertoff’s approval. Let alone getting food, water or rescue teams to the city. On the fifth day, Soledad O’Brien at CNN knew more about the situation in New Orleans than Michael Brown did. You can see the videotape of that, too.

How can this country of endless wealth justify the response that was made? How ban anyone in America have any faith that when they are faced with a crisis, they will be saved? How can we cheer our response to the Tsunami and tolerate our failure during Katrina?

And then you say not to rebuild. Not only should you be totally ashamed of yourself, but I can only pray that you are struck by a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, blizzard or drought. No one is totally safe from natural disaster, and to feel as though you are is not only foolish, it is playing right into the false sense of security the King has been selling for the last 5 years.

Posted by: David S at August 24, 2006 12:08 AM
Comment #177161

At the very least, Katrina illustrated why we want experts running vital government agencies. Widely respected in the ’90s for being run by emergency management experts, the Bush crew installed political hacks. After being put under the Homeland Security umbrella, it saw its funding cut every year.

I’m extremely concerned that the ability of our nation to prepare for and respond to disasters has been sharply eroded,” former FEMA director James Lee Witt told Congress in March 2004. Witt, who led FEMA through the 1990s, is widely credited with turning around the agency, which previously had enjoyed a reputation as a haven for White House cronies and incompetents. “One state emergency manager told me, ‘It’s like a stake has been driven in the heart of the emergency management of this nation,’ ” Witt told the congressional panel.

Of the many lessons here, a primary one is that when we put incompetents in charge, we all suffer.

Posted by: Trent at August 24, 2006 12:19 AM
Comment #177162

Arrrgghh. I count on the reader to mentally fix the dangling participle in the second sentence.

Posted by: Trent at August 24, 2006 12:23 AM
Comment #177170

Has there been any steps taken to get FEMA back on track, or have we just traded political hacks?

Posted by: j2t2 at August 24, 2006 01:02 AM
Comment #177171

David S

That’s pretty amazing. It usually takes longer than 1 year before the revisionists start on history.

The President asked Blanco to evacuate the city on Saturday. she did nothing until sunday night. Nagin is the one that threw the evacuation plan into the toilet. He told people to go to the Superdome, despite the fact that that was never part of the plan. He let the trains leave empty. He left the 400 school busses in the lot instead of using them to get people out of town.

No federal response: What do you call the Coast Guard, they were there the first day, getting the people who did not evacuate.

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS NOT A FIRST RESPONDER. The blame goes this way. First, the individual, then the city, then the state and last the federal government.

And yes maybe we should rethink rebuilding a city that is on a gulf and in a major hurricane zone and is 70 feet below sea level.

Posted by: Keith at August 24, 2006 01:05 AM
Comment #177173

That is just an embarrassing comment, accusing others of revisionism, and then throwing out gross inaccuracies.

First, New Orleans is NOT up to 70 feet below sea level. Here is a color graphic.

Keith, I was in New Orleans for Katrina. My wife and I participated in the evacuation.

We drove by the Superdome that Saturday. It was the refuge of last resort for people like ourselves, who were visiting from out of town. Just looking at it made me think my wife and I would have been better off riding out the storm where we were staying.

President Bush declared a state of emergency for Alabama, MS, & LA. I believe that was done Saturday. People left voluntarily on Saturday, but it made no sense to order a mandatory evacuation at that point. There was enough uncertainty about the course and strength to prevent anyone from making that determination. However, preparations were made for the region on Saturday.

The mandatory evacuation was made Sunday morning. I know. We left about 30 minutes before it was mandatory. Policeman came around door to door, making sure everyone got the word. That was quite a sight.

Unfortunately for NO, Katrina hit while school was out. There were no bus drivers who could be reached in late August. This was poor planning, but by the time the local government realized this, it was too late.

It was one of the largest evacuations of people in American history. Most people did, in fact, leave. Some did not. For example, among the people I was with, there was a mother & daughter who were supposed to leave with another guy. Later I found out something went wrong, and the mother and daughter never hooked up with him for a ride. They ended up in the Superdome. I heard second-hand that it was very bad.

The Coast Guard was consistently awesome.

Due to incompetency, FEMA failed to respond for five days. Local & state resources were overwhelmed, so it was up to the feds, and they failed. Communication was very, very difficult, I know for a fact, so I am not at all surprised that the locals & state could not function. To communicate with another couple who loaned us their car- we were strangers, they laoned it to us & another family on trust- to communicate, we had to call a mutual acquaintence in Chicago & pass on messages.

The federal government failed us, Keith. FEMA failed. No one has the kind of resources available which the feds possess, no one. Bush spent Monday morning giving a speech in San Diego about an unrelated topic. It was an appalling lapse of leadership.

In the past year, we have spent over $250 million per day on Iraq.

I do not want to hear any crap about why America cannot repair New Orleans. If we spent $250 million per day on New Orleans instead of Iraq, we could have encased the city in Kryptonite by now.

Posted by: phx8 at August 24, 2006 01:51 AM
Comment #177174

Yes and 1000’s died and people were raped and murdered in the Superdome…

Posted by: Keith at August 24, 2006 02:02 AM
Comment #177175

A couple of facts:

The Coast Guard did what they did on their own. That’s how they operate. You can’t credit Fema or the government with what they did.

80% of the New Orleans population evacuated which is unprecedented.

Posted by: womanmarine at August 24, 2006 02:16 AM
Comment #177176


Maybe it’s time for the federal government to get back to it’s constitional mandate, interstate commerce. foreign affairs and the military. Everything else is the responsibilities of the states. Then the states would hove more of their own money to take care of things like emergency responses.

Posted by: Keith at August 24, 2006 02:18 AM
Comment #177177

Jack, it is not the limits of government that were exposed. It was the limits of a particular set of politicians in government that were exposed.

In 4 months, we are going exceed our involvement in fighting WWII, in Iraq. That is a limitation of the politicians, not the government. In 1945 we won an entire World War against 3 nations. Today, we can’t find a way out of a little civil war in Iraq in the same amount of time.

That, Jack, is not a limitation of government. That is a limitation of the people elected to it.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 24, 2006 02:57 AM
Comment #177178


I guess you forget that that war was being fought for a few years before we entered the fray.

Posted by: Keith at August 24, 2006 03:06 AM
Comment #177180


And also it was not fought as a politically correct war, where every civilian and military casualty were scrutinized in the press.

Posted by: Keith at August 24, 2006 03:07 AM
Comment #177181

DavidS, Trent, good posts.

Keith, phx8 is right, you really don’t know what you’re talking about. You need to read this:
Timeline of Events.

On the Train: Nagin claims he never heard a word about the trains that were supposedly offered by Amtrak. Only he knows whether he is telling the truth about that, although to me the man did sound pretty desperate to get help for the people of his city.

On the schoolbuses: “The [Orleans Parish school] district owns 324 buses but 70 are broken down.” [New Orleans Times-Picayune, 9/5/05]
Add to this a few important facts (aside from the ones that phx8 gave): There are only a few paths in and out of NO. Those who were experienced at driving those schoolbuses were worrying about themselves and their own families. Therefore, these mass evacuations of people would have had to have begun a very long time in advance of Katrina, or they, like everyone else, would have been stuck on those few traffic-jammed roads in the path of the approaching hurricane.
Also, speaking of buses, here’s a little know fact:
“On Sunday, the day before the storm, the Louisiana National Guard asked FEMA for 700 buses to evacuate people. It received only 100.” [Boston Globe, 9/11/05]

Personally, I found myself wondering why FEMA wasn’t commandeering everything they could put their hands on: buses, trains — even small commuter planes might have been utilized for evacuation purposes.

Could disaster have been avoided? No, not a chance, but: here is a link that tells us that it might not have needed to be as bad as it was.
Bush had been severely slashing funding to the Army Corp of Engineers. While a storm with the strength of Katrina would have spelled disaster for the city no matter what, it’s very likely it wouldn’t have been quite as devastating as it was had the levees not given way.

I think your article is almost completely bunk from begginning to end. Katrina was a MASSIVE FAILURE on the part of the Bush administration —and it proved that when it comes to disasters (whether natural or unnatural, ie. terrorism) the GOP knows how to pay lip service to the safety and security talk, but not truly walk the walk.
(Even though Condi was buying shoes at the time.)

On top of that, we now know that a whole bunch of schemes and scams and bureaucratic corruption is related to the official federal aid for Katrina, and that it’s now cost American taxpayers at least two billion dollars. There are reports of nearly half a billion dollars worth of mobile homes that are still sitting empty. We hear about renovations on a shelter at a former Alabama Army base that ended up costing 416,000 per evacuee. And then there the bogus assistance claims that have totalled 1.4 billion dollars — spent on all kinds of stuff, like vacations to Hawaii, season football tickets, a divorce lawyer — even a sex change operation!
Oh, your party is doing simply a “heck of job” for the city of New Orleans and all of America!

As for Spike Lee’s documentary, I’m not surprised you don’t approve of his viewpoint or message.
Anyway, here’s an alternate opinion if anyone wants to read it: The City That Care Forgot: Spike Lee and the ‘New’ New Orleans Blues

Posted by: Adrienne at August 24, 2006 04:11 AM
Comment #177184

Keith, I didn’t forget a thing. WWII was not our war until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. My statement remains absolutely accurate and correct. In 4 months we will have been involved in the Iraq War longer than our involvement in WWII. It is an incontrovertible fact. Live with it.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 24, 2006 05:55 AM
Comment #177185
Some people clearly have become too dependent on big brother. What did they expect?

This is why the conservative party should not be in charge. When you guys screw up, you say, “What did you expect, we’re the government and we’re inherently ineffective!” That’s like telling your boss, “It’s not just me who’s lazy and incompetent, it’s my entire occupation!” I think I would hire someone who doesn’t think they are predestined to failure.

The only thing that should have been different is that people should have left New Orleans, which is something all those people stuck at the Superdome could have done anyway.

How? Walk? Not everyone had a car.

To put Hurrican Katrina in perspective, look at the federal response to the San Francisco earthquake and fire. This was a hundred years ago, when the federal government was a lot smaller. The earthquake happened on April 18th, 1906, at 5 am. By noon on that day, there were federal boots on the ground. On April 20th, TWO DAYS LATER, the first federal appropriation was passed.

The lesson here isn’t that the federal government is ineffective, it’s that corrupt idiots shouldn’t be in charge.

Re earlier comments on Amtrak: Amtrak is not a large system. It would have been a drop in the bucket anyway.

Posted by: Woody Mena at August 24, 2006 06:09 AM
Comment #177186
In 4 months, we are going exceed our involvement in fighting WWII, in Iraq. That is a limitation of the politicians, not the government. In 1945 we won an entire World War against 3 nations. Today, we can find a way out of a little civil war in Iraq in the same amount of time.

The Greatest Generation and their leaders did a heckuva job in WWII. Just as our current military (and our leaders — c’mon, say it Libs — Bush & Rummy too) did a heckuva job defeating Iraq in a few weeks with ‘only’ 135(?) casualties.

We have since been staying in Germany and other European WWII countries for an additional 60 years (now 17 years after the Wall fell). Germans had many 100,000+ person anti-American protests through the ’80s and are still quite anti-American now — how about we GET OUT AND STOP HELPING THEIR ECONOMY??

We have been in Japan for 60 years since WWII, and in some areas (e.g. Okinawa) the Japanese are overwhelmingly against our presence. We were also in the Philippines about 40 years until, under public pressure, we were instructed to leave.

We have stayed in S.Korea for 50 years (S.Koreans have also been quite anti-American in their many protests, and they often have had polls showing most S.Koreans want us out).

We (now others) have stayed in former Yugoslavia for ~8 years.

And why is Americans fighting insurrections in Afghanistan OK, whereas we must set a timetable to leave Iraq where we have not been quite as long?

Yes, I also would like to see us get out of Iraq ASAP. It is a mess, and has been handled poorly in many ways (though honestly quite well in some ways, too).

HOWEVER, I see those who have not a word about all the other places we currently are (**FAR** longer, and in areas that are not nearly as tied to current national priorities) as maybe MORE THAN A LITTLE TWO-FACED.

Are you:
- intellectually dishonest political sharks who smell political blood?
- or do you want to see the US lose?
- or do you hate any US casualties anytime / ever (albeit the trend has been great the last ~5 months, yes?)
- or am I missing something seminal??

Posted by: Brian at August 24, 2006 06:25 AM
Comment #177187


What you are missing is that the soldiers in Iraq are in combat, getting killed. The biggest danger the soldiers serving in Germany during the Cold War was catching a social disease.

There are many other differences I can see, but that is the most obvious one. Also, keeping soldiers in Iraq is quite expensive because of the conditions they are working in. I doubt keeping soldiers in Europe is that much more expensive than keeping them here.

Posted by: Woody Mena at August 24, 2006 06:32 AM
Comment #177188

I am curious. Does anyone have pointers to inflation-adjusted total & current spending in other nations’ economies from our foreign military deployments since WWII?

Posted by: Brian at August 24, 2006 06:33 AM
Comment #177189

…and responding to Jack’s post (instead of another’s response):

People should be allowed to live wherever they want. HOWEVER, there should be explicitly ZERO governmental help to rebuild or help in ANY way to those living in designated high risk areas. E.g.:
- Below sea level
- Wildfire Areas
- Flood plains or Hurricane zones
- Earthquake zones
- Cliffhouses, etc.

You want to live there? Buy your own insurance (or let a community self insure).

I don’t want to pay for you (and don’t expect you to pay for me).


Posted by: Brian at August 24, 2006 06:43 AM
Comment #177191

Phx8 is not right on this one. As usual.

I guess the federal government should spend all its assets protecting your assets, and not protecting the country as it is supposed to do. There will be no country to protect if radical Islam is not wiped out. PERIOD. Get it? Sorry for your loss. Your fault. Not the federal governments. They did not force you to live there, or antwhere. It is not their job to care for your day to day needs. Get over it.

Posted by: LIberty1 at August 24, 2006 07:42 AM
Comment #177192

I forgot to add that it was all Bush’s fault. Isn’t everything the fault of the President? (Only if he is a republican)

Posted by: LIberty1 at August 24, 2006 07:45 AM
Comment #177193


You are right to a point about conservatives and government. My government philosophy is that if anyone else can and will do something, the Feds should stay out. That effects how I would allocate resources. I believe in a safety net, not a comfortable floor. In the Katrina situation, I saw many failures on all levels of government. Some were mistakes and incompetence, but a lot were just limits of government. And after the storm, we were (are) asking the Federal government to do more than I think they should re rebuilding and housing. Anybody who still needs direct Federal assistance a year later is asking too much.

Read a little more deeply into the SF thing. That was a different time. People expected less and got less from government and government responded with a lot more force to keep order than we tolerate today. They also covered up a lot of damage. It was the style of the times to be tougher. We can learn from our own history, but you and I would probably take different lessons.

Posted by: Jack at August 24, 2006 07:53 AM
Comment #177200

I said this before, that the fault is spread out among everyone from the individual,local,state, federal government. But it is the individual who decided to stay is probably most cupable. They knew the hurricane was coming, was given ample warning that they should leave and decided to stay. N.O. should have used the school buses to get those that did not have transportation out. Fed’s should have responded earlier.

The ones that had no choice are those that were bed ridden in hospital/nursing homes, or those that had no one to help them.

The Katrina Fiasco blame can be spread all over

Posted by: KT at August 24, 2006 10:06 AM
Comment #177203

Rehash it if you will, but it is over and fingers have already been pointed.
We on the Mississippi Gulf Coast are not living in the past, but looking to the future. We were hit harder than new orleans in all respects. The hurricane hit Mississippi not new orleans. They were played up by the media because the rain broke the levies. No major wind damage and no 35 foot water serge. Take a trip to new orleans and to Mississippi and make up your own mind. We had over 50 miles of coastal cites destroyed. Notice the american flags of those in trailers that are rebuilding. We have a plan and it is working right now. No bickering and fighting for taxpayers money.
So, forget what happened and look to the future.

Posted by: Ken at August 24, 2006 10:29 AM
Comment #177204

There is no safe place to build in America. The Midwest must deal with floods, winter storms, lake-effect snows, and the Damocles sword of the New Madrid Fault System. Given all the death and destruction that could create, doesn’t it make sense to abandon the midwest?

And what about The Pacific? El Nino often brings rains and mudslide. Earthquakes along the San Andreas, and along the Cascades Subduction zones. Several of the big volcanoes, including that spectacular media hog Mt. St. Helens exist there. Seattle could be drowned in a sea of mud, other places could buried in ash or burned in pyroclastic flows.

Then you got the mountains and the basin and range regions. Earthquakes, storms coming off the mountains, flash floods, water shortages, etc, etc.

Gulf Coast. Do I have to say it? Much as perfectionists would like to keep everything away from the water, there’s this little think called international shipping that doesn’t exactly work without large bodies of sea water nearby. Many places are sinking, because of the taking of oil and water from beneathe surface, and the wedges of sediment that make up the gulf coast are naturally compressing, faulting and sinking towards the gulf.

The East Coast isn’t much better off. Hurricanes strike there too, and even if you don’t get the brunt of the ones in the gulf, you get the water. Earthquakes are possible, because of faultblock mountain ranges, and you also get snowstorms, flooding, and all that nice stuff.

Okay, so now that we’ve eliminated the continental US, lets go to Hawaii. It would be awful crowded, but the good news is that the real estate is so cheap it practically creates itself. Oh, dear. I forgot. Hawaii is exposed to Pacific Typhoons, Tsunamis, and of course is a VOLCANIC island chain. That’s it, we’re packing up our bags.

Alaska’s the place. Largest state in the union. Not always warm, but global warming is insuring that things are thawing out there. Unfortunately, Alaska has quite a few volcanoes, and is tectonically active as hell. One of the most powerful Earthquakes of all tiem struck there. The Clay-rich soils in certain places liquifacted and amplified shaking.

We also have to add all the storm conditions this most arctic of our possessions represents.

So just what do we have to do to be safe? Not be born.

What we can do, realistically, is regulate out the more risky practices of builders and planners, pay attention to how things happen, and mitigate the disasters immediately, rather than wait for the bad to settle into worse. All excuses aside, Katrina did not have to be the fiasco it was. Republicans can make excuses about the limits of big government and about this being the best they could do, but in the end, the verdict is likely to be that they forget the lessons of many past disasters in their corruption and incompetence, and replaced being economic and efficient with being cheap and ineffective.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 24, 2006 10:31 AM
Comment #177205

I live in Ms. and we got hit a lot harder than NO. In fact, we took the direct hit. (landfall in Biloxi, taking a path up the center of the state from south to north, hurricane force winds 200 miles from the coast) NO just caught the edge of the storm; La. was barely touched. Alabama was hit harder than La. In NO we watched the horrors of anarchy and lawlessness as incompetent fools blamed everyone but themselves for their plight while waiting for someone else to take care of them. (and still do) In Ms. and Al. people of all races pulled together to help each other and we’re coming back strong.
What’s the difference? Acceptance of personal responsibility and self sufficiency.
The federal gov’t isn’t responsible for the disaster in NO. The people and their local gov’t are. There is a valuable lesson to be learned from the differences between the experiences of NO and Ms. & Al. in responding to the disaster.

Posted by: traveller at August 24, 2006 10:36 AM
Comment #177207

You have to keep in mind that our presence in many of those areas is minimal, and not very impactful on our overall readiness.

Fact is, Iraq was never intended to go on as long as it did. There was no plan to keep full forces in there later than August of 2003, much less to indefinitely maintain them as long as we have.

The fact that National Guard and Reserve forces are over there, that Marines are being recalled from civilian life to maintain numbers should be an eye-opener for you. These are not things done when folks have planned things out, especially not when you add in stop-loss policies and multiple tours of duty.

All this is grinding at our ability to effectively fight any new war.

This war was unfortunately founded on bad evidence. That we fought this as a pre-emptive war makes it that much worse, because our credibility was on the line. That damage, we can do nothing about. I do favor getting things settled, but I believe we should set a timetable and move towards a goal of withdrawal.

If you really think about it, we have no victory until we’re effectively out of there. If Iraq, as a democracy cannot stand up on its own, we have failed, and if further efforts cannot achieve that stability, if our expensive and ultimately inflammatory efforts cannot stop the chaos, then withdrawal is then as well our best option. There’s no use in letting the debacle in Iraq do more damage to this country than it already has.

The problem here is that folks took policy too personally, and could not see past personal blinders and political theory to understanding what they were doing. This was the Republican’s war to win, and to screw up, and screw it up is what they did. No dissenter or political resistance could have found a foothold except in the poor quality of the management of this war. Had it been a success, the critics would have been pathetic naysayers, and their opinions of little relevance. This was your failure, and the sooner you learn your lessons, the more opportunity you have to not have to learn further ones.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 24, 2006 10:53 AM
Comment #177208

I lived in Houston for 8 years and my house flooded twice. Not because I was stupid enough to buy a house that was subject to flooding, but because the county built a toll road and did not do the proper hydrology studies. They added concrete barriers to both sides of the road and effectively put my neighborhood on the water side of a dam.
It was the county emergency management that evacuated our neighborhood and communicated with us. FEMA came dragging in about 4 weeks after the flood to offer no interest loans that no one in my predomiantly white middle class neighborhood qualified for. This was, by the way, during the “golden” years of the Clinton Administration when nothing bad ever happened and all of the government workers loved me.

I also lived in South Louisiana. When the first hurricane of the season headed toward us, I was greatly surprised to get a phone call from one of my neighbors inviting me to a hurricane party. It seemed that the locals looked a severe weather as an opportunity to “suck heads” and drink beer. So I was not surprised that the people in New Orleans ignored the pleas to evacuate the city. Nor was I surprised at the pictures of flooded school and metro buses that could have evacuated those few that didn’t have cars. A few (true) stories about Huey Long, Edwin Edwards and the New Orleans mafia convinced me that whatever federal money Louisiana did get for flood mitigation went elsewhere.

Lesson one - the federal government takes your money and wastes it. Don’t expect, whether Democrats, Republicans or someting else that they are going to help you.
Lesson two - if you live below sea level with a lake on one side and the Gulf on the other, you get what you get.
Lesson three - it was a stupid idea to build the levees in the first place. It removed a recharge zone that would keep the above sea level New Orleans from flooding. Why be stupid twice?

Posted by: Mike at August 24, 2006 11:00 AM
Comment #177209


1. Fixing the levees was a part of the budget, but that money was diverted to pay for the war in Iraq.

On June 8, 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, told the Times-Picayune: “It appears that the money has been moved in the president’s budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that’s the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can’t be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.”

2. The Republican congress found there was a lack of initiative by the president specifically and federal government in general in evacuating New Orleans.

U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, a Republican of Connecticut and committee member, said Monday that the report is “very tough on the president, it’s very tough on the Department of Homeland Security. It’s a blistering report. But I think it’s fair.”

3. The expectation that the storm could be weathered was accurate. New Orleans had weathered hurricanes of this type before, but the levees were defective.

Katrina wasn’t what killed all those people and devastated a celebrated city; it was the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. As the Corps itself admits in its own draft final report on the disaster, “foundation failures occurred prior to water levels reaching the design levels of protection, causing breaching and subsequent massive flooding and extensive losses.”

4. Whites and blacks died in roughly equal numbers (actually, more whites were killed), so charges of racism are partly incorrect. However, agencies helped the Ninth Ward less than they should have. If you read The New Yorker’s account (this week’s issue) it’s hard to deny that racism and classism didn’t play a part in how the city was evacuated and who got help when.

In fact, white and black, rich and poor, New Orleanians shared equally in the suffering and death. The last published tally I saw showed that whites and blacks died in roughly the same proportion. If that is accurate, given that the population of the city in the last census was only 28-percent white, white New Orleanians died in proportionately higher numbers.

5. New Orleans is not below sea level. Only parts of it are.

After the flooding, New Orleanians were roundly criticized by Congressional leaders for choosing to live in an area below sea level. In fact, only parts of New Orleans are below sea level. My house, for example, is a foot above sea level, and it still received four feet of floodwater. We were hardly as foolish as Americans living in earthquake zones like San Francisco and Anchorage are. After all, we had assurances from the Corps of Engineers that we would be safe in a hurricane of Katrina’s strength. If we were foolish, it was in believing our government.

The facts don’t jibe with your account of Katrina, but let’s say you’re right. Even if you are right, the government response to the disaster was slow, poorly executed, and generally inept, directly because of the president’s inaction and his reorganization (destruction) of FEMA. One irony is that Clinton’s building up of FEMA was in response to a very similar Hurricane related devastation that happened in Florida during Bush Senior’s watch.

In any case, imagine if this had been a terrorist related attack? Just what has Bush been working on if not evacuation planning? Let’s face it, he put all his eggs in Iraq and we’re left less secure than we were when he started. I’m not very impressed by the graft and incredible corruption that’s been part and parcel of the rebuilding effort effort either.

Posted by: Max at August 24, 2006 11:03 AM
Comment #177210

1) the busses were not used because they could not find any bus drivers. Sorry, folks, but if that bus was my only way out, I WOULD DRIVE IT MYSELF…even though I’m not a licensed bus driver.

2) Amtrak may have only been able to evacuate “a drop in the bucket” of the people, but if I was one of the ones given the opportunity to leave by train, I would have been grateful. Just because you cannot evacuate EVERYONE by train, then there is no sense in evacuation ANYONE by train? Nonsense. You take everything you can get. Unfortunately for Nagin, he is NOT the only one who knows the truth about Amtrak’s offer….the Amtrak official knows, too.

3) Nagin was desperate because he had no idea what to do…even though the City of NO had an evacuation plan. I recall him asking for 500 greyhounds and cruise ships. Imagine that!! Evacuating people to a SHIP in the middle of a HURRICANE!! What a dumbass. When asking for cruise ships and greyhounds, he indicated that he was more concerned with “luxury” than “practicality”. Yes, he did use the word “luxurious” when asking for the ships. School buses would have done the job just as well, but with less luxury, as greyhounds.

4) Jack did not say that NO should not be rebuilt. He said “We need not rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast as it was. We can do better.” Taking half of a sentence and repeating it out of context is intellectually dishonest.

5) The timeline that Ad furnihsed a link to is interesting. The way I read it, Bush did everything that Blanco requested prior to the storm. Why did Nagin wait until 20 hours before landfall to MANDATE an evacuation. The local and state officials had just as much information on the approaching storm as the feds had. Why didn’t Nagin & Blanco do more before the storm hit? Oh, yeah, because they were more concerned with fighting each other than solving the problem. Remember when Blanco went on TV complaining that Nagin had no authority to mandate evacuations because that authority belonged to the governor? She never did order an evacuation, from what I could determine.

Could things have been done differently and better? Absolutely. Was the federal response weak? Absolutely. Should all of the blame fall on the federal government and FEMA? Absolutely NOT. Nagin and Blanco should lose their jobs because of their failures, just as Brown did.

BTW, criticising Rice for “buying shoes during Katrina” or Bush for reading a story to elementary students during 9/11 is scumbag politics. Grow up.

Posted by: Rich at August 24, 2006 11:03 AM
Comment #177212

Also, this is off-topic, but I’m not an editor here and would like to share this (to me) amazing video witht the community. It’s a Bush press conference where he outlines why he believes the NSA wiretapping is legal. What’s amazing to me is how inarticulate he is. If Clinton ever gave a press conference like this it would be international news and everyone would be speculating that he smokes crack cocaine. Watch this and tell me you want Bush in charge of anything. I wouldn’t want this guy in charge of flipping my burgers.

Article and video.

Just wanted to share. Apologize for the derail.

Posted by: Max at August 24, 2006 11:13 AM
Comment #177213

Ken & Traveller,
The population of Biloxi was 71,000. The population of Gulfport was 50,000. The population of the New Orleans metropolitan area was 1.3 million.

A natural disaster like Katrina is a perfect example of why federal intervention is so necessary. A region crossing several states suffered terrible damage and loss of life. the hurricane destroyed much of the infrastructure necessary for response. This is precisely the sort of situation where the federal government is suited to help, in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

I was wrong about one thing. We spend an average of $257 million per day in Iraq, not $250 million. Please pardon the inaccuracy.

It is not “scumbag politics” to criticize leadership for failure to respond in an emergency. In the case of Bush, this has been a consistent pattern: after 9/11, and the tsunami, and after Katrina, Bush failed to react in a timely fashion.

The recent press conference showed Bush doing the same thing. He sounds like a person with brain damage. Personally, I think he is wearing a wire and repeating what he is told to say. That explains the repetition of stock cliches in inappropriate contexts, the same ones year after year; it explains the hesitations, the meaningless phrases between stock answers.

Posted by: phx8 at August 24, 2006 11:33 AM
Comment #177214


The same things were going on in Germany following WWII.

From the History Channel

In the months and years following the end of the World War Two, Allied forces faced a series of bombings and attacks in occupied Germany.

Nazi loyalists attempted to derail the rebuilding process by killing any Germans collaborating with the enemy. And the mysterious SS-Werewolves underground organization boasted of the coming rebirth of the Party.

Today, little is known about the activities of the Werewolves and other groups who opposed the Allied forces during this postwar period. And while the Nazi resistance effort did eventually fail, many of its methods and the harsh Allied response to them have real world implications for the present situation in Iraq.

“The Last Nazis” will explore how the SS-Werewolves terrorized military and civilian targets behind enemy lines such as industrial plants, fuel depots, supply lines, and stray soldiers.

We’ll hear from a former Werewolf as he describes his motivation and role in the guerilla movement. In addition we’ll travel to Aachen, where Werewolves assassinated the pro-Allied mayor, and Penzberg, the site of the “Night of Murder” - a senseless rampage aimed at preventing any German collaboration in which more than a dozen German civilians were killed.

We’ll also explore the Allied attempt to purge Germany’s Nazi past through denazification tribunals - an increasingly unpopular set of trials that was hit by a wave of bombings.

Posted by: Keith at August 24, 2006 11:37 AM
Comment #177216


Sorry, I got into this thread late. Have not taken time to read all the posts here, and will not, (for lack of time). However, I am sure that what I am about to say has been echoed by others here, thus far.

As usual, you are way off base. That is because your politics are way off base. You say that we should learn by our mistakes. Well then, why is it that you do not expect our President to learn by his mistakes? Only “us”.

Katrina was predicted. The exercise of “Pam” was preformed one year before and came up lacking. Money to finish the levys was turned down in 2003, and the ACOE worked almost one year on their own after federal funds ran out, to try to finish the job on their own. The EPA, and OCEA both warned of the pending Gulf Coast Disaster at least one year before Katrina. Yet, Bush did nothing. (Sorry, he did come on T.V. 4 days after the fact, and asked the U.S. Citizens to give “to the Red Cross”. - All the while, as FEMA blocked aid and assistance to the area).

Even volenteers from Canada got to St. Benards Perish 3 days before FEMA, to help victims.

It is fitting that this is an election year. Our choice (America), is clear. Vote for a party that collects our taxes and then says, “Your on your own if tradgety strikes”, or vote for the opposition that thinks that running this government is: (truly)


Posted by: PlayNice at August 24, 2006 11:45 AM
Comment #177217

PS: And in case you and the Government of the United States has forgotten:


We, are the “Public”.

Posted by: PlayNice at August 24, 2006 11:59 AM
Comment #177218


I lived in New Orleans for five years. I have friends and family who still live there. Luckily, they had the means to evacuate well before the storm hit. The fact is that many of the population of that city do not. It has always been the case that people who cannot leave the city go to the Superdome and convention center. I spent three days in the Superdome in the Fall of 1998, waiting for a hurricane that never hit. Both of the major universities (Loyola and Tulane) evacuated their students there. This was a tried and true shelter. The problem was not that the dome or convention center were inadequate shelters, because they were perfectly adequate. The problem is that people were left there for fice days in 100 degree heat with little food, water or medical staff. Post-storm reponse such as emergency rescue, ideal evacuation and supplies are the responsibility of FEMA. There is no arguing this. That is the entire reason for their existence. They failed so incredibly miserably that I question whether they even cared. Charges should be brought.

Your complete failure to understand the magnitude of what happened in New Orleans is scary. Katrina was worse than 9/11 in many ways. Where 9/11 was an amazing example of what this country is capable of when tested, Katrina was the exact opposite. It was a failure on every level, but especially FEMA.

Posted by: David S at August 24, 2006 12:13 PM
Comment #177219

I know what that stands for even if others don’t. Appropriate. Where is your degree from Harvard and Yale? Do you fly fighter jets as well? Not so smart now are you?
Since you think the U.S. is wasting money on the global terror war answer this:

“Aside from defense, where should government cut back?”

Deafening silence from the libs. It’s all about defense. You will get it when the next attack comes. Of course you will blame Bush for his lack of public speaking skills. Is that all you’ve got? How in the world did he crush Anne Richards and everyone else he debated? They thought it would be a cake walk. Wrong. Oh wait he was wired with the answers! He is an automaton! That’s it! Someone feeds him the answers! He can’t even speak without being told what to say! ha ha Your responses are tiresome and a waste of the readers time. Run along and keep your head in the sand with the other delusional posters who think we are not involved in WW3. I guess you long for the days when an appropriate response would be to escort the intern from the office and then act upset by biting the lower lip. Those certainly were timely responses. Maybe you don’t understand the words state’s rights and seperation of powers.
It is no ones fault but those that ignored the warnings to leave before Katrina. That and the welfare state the Dems created there. What a system/ You should be proud.

Posted by: Liberty1 at August 24, 2006 12:22 PM
Comment #177221


“The population of Biloxi was 71,000. The population of Gulfport was 50,000. The population of the New Orleans metropolitan area was 1.3 million.”

What’s your point? The area of Ms. destroyed (1/3 of the state) by Katrina (NO wasn’t destroyed by the storm; south Ms. was-many towns were completely obliterated) has a population of over 1 1/2 million spread out over hundreds of square miles. I know people who were living in tents 6 months after the storm. (and they weren’t whining about having to take care of themselves)

Posted by: traveller at August 24, 2006 12:25 PM
Comment #177223

I basically agree with Keith. The government cannot prevent every tragedy. There was a National Geographic special broadcast on TV a year before this happened showing exactly what would happen in the event of a category 5 to NO. Comparing the event to the SF earthquake of 1906 is In 1906, the army was given clear orders to shoot all looters on sight. Imagine if that order had been given last year! People didn’t blame the government in SF for the tragedy. Also, do you realize not a single piece of US Mail was lost in the SF tragedy? With the attitude of many postal employees today, they would have used it as an excuse to burn bags of mail! NO is a city completely run by Democrats who preach big government so they can line their freezers with cash.

Posted by: Jon L at August 24, 2006 12:36 PM
Comment #177226

“What’s amazing to me is how inarticulate he is. If Clinton ever gave a press conference like this it would be international news and everyone would be speculating that he smokes crack cocaine. Watch this and tell me you want Bush in charge of anything.”

“The recent press conference showed Bush doing the same thing. He sounds like a person with brain damage. Personally, I think he is wearing a wire and repeating what he is told to say. That explains the repetition of stock cliches in inappropriate contexts, the same ones year after year; it explains the hesitations, the meaningless phrases between stock answers.”

phx8 and Max, I see Bush as a man who was always in over his head for the job of president — but who didn’t know it (happens to a lot of spoiled rich kids whose influential parents don’t know how raise them right). He was never smart enough — all he had was his studied and inarticulate folksiness, his arrogance and ambitions, and a great many connections within a very powerful political machine. When I watch him speaking now, all I can think of is that his many failures piled up one on top of the other have lead to what we are seeing today.
While he’s lost much of the inner confidence he once had, he’s still a very arrogant guy. Someone who just isn’t man enough to admit to his mistakes and try to learn anything from them. He and all his cronies are guys that have all these big ambititons and goals, but they always shoot from the hip (they like call it “trusting their instincts”) — because they just aren’t patient or wise enough to do their homework, or study cause and effect.
So, when things fail (which they are always bound to do when people don’t do their homework or try to understand and determine how, why, and what went wrong) they try to deflect blame and cover for themselves with glib catchphrases and empty excuses. The Bush administration has raised this to a truly absurd artform.
I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Bush did wear a wire sometimes — cheating also fits right in with the MO.

Btw, don’t know if you’ve seen this already, but you might want to check this out: Your President, the Visionary Genius
Bob Harris over at Huffington Post took an AP shot of Bush’s notes from his recent press conference and Photoshopped it to see what was written there — the results probably won’t come as much of a surprise to either of you — they certainly didn’t to me.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 24, 2006 12:58 PM
Comment #177227

That is a pretty funny comment. I did not go to Harvard or Yale. MY MBA is not from those either. However, I did go to one of the top ten universities in the country, and I was not a legacy, I paid half of my own education at what was also one of the ten most expensive schools in the country.

I was not a pilot. I was a B-52 bombardier. At the time, the Navy offered me an opportunity to fly F-14’s off carriers immediately. The Air Force wanted me to wait a year to become a pilot. I went with the Air Force, since I never particularly cared about flying one way or another.

Where should we cut back? A good start would be pay-as-you-go, which the liberals will re-institute. Earmarks should be eliminated. Gosh, Liberty1, spending restraints & pork really are a topic for another post.

Perhaps I do not understand what you mean by “States Rights.” Usually, when right wingers use that phrase, it is code for discrimination.

You write: “I know people who were living in tents 6 months after the storm. (and they weren’t whining about having to take care of themselves).”

That is not an example of admirable self-sufficiency. That is just sad. There is no way Americans should live like that, like destitute regugees. It is just wrong. Americans can & should band together through the power of the federal government to help others in time of need, not as a matter of political theory, but because it is the right thing to do.

Posted by: phx8 at August 24, 2006 12:58 PM
Comment #177228

I gotta ask. Why do school bus drivers have to be available to use them?

They are simple to drive. If you have rented a big truck before, you can drive them. They are ALL automatics, and are all user-friendly. I have driven one before. The only excuse would be if there were no fuel. I don’t buy the “School was out” excuse. When your are in dire need, you do something about it.

Posted by: Matt at August 24, 2006 01:00 PM
Comment #177229

Jon L-

Let me tear apart every one of your mistakes one at a time.

The government cannot prevent every tragedy.

No expects the government to prevent hurricanes, just to respond after they happen.

There was a National Geographic special broadcast on TV a year before this happened showing exactly what would happen in the event of a category 5 to NO.

New Orleans wasn’t hit by a Cat 5. It was missed by a Cat 5. The effect on New Orleans was equal to direct hit by Cat 1, maybe a weak 2.

Comparing the event to the SF earthquake of 1906

The federal government, without the benefit of computers, e-mail, cell phones, airplanes, cars or highways managed to get to SF the day after the earthquake. Why, with all those modern advances, would it take 5 days to get to New Orleans?

Also, do you realize not a single piece of US Mail was lost in the SF tragedy?

Who cares?

NO is a city completely run by Democrats who preach big government so they can line their freezers with cash.

You better have some cash in the freezer, otherwise when a hurricane comes you’re screwed!!!

In all reality, there is no justification for the way the Bush administartion handled Katrina. It is a far bigger failure than the Iraq war. Too mnay people died, needlessly, simply waiting for help. Thats all. Americans, with no resources available to them, sat for five days and died slow deaths, just waiting for the government to respond, the way the government had always responded in the past. Five days. How anyone with any remnant of a human conscience can stomach that baffles me.

Posted by: David S at August 24, 2006 01:06 PM
Comment #177230


“Americans can & should band together to help others in time of need, not as a matter of political theory, but because it is the right thing to do.”

If you would have written it like this I would be in full agreement with you.

Posted by: Keith at August 24, 2006 01:10 PM
Comment #177231

phx8, well said as usual. DavidS, you too.
New Orleans and the rest of America deserves more compassion and better leadership, it’s that simple.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 24, 2006 01:12 PM
Comment #177233


We’ve gone over this for a year now. Katrina did not require “perfect prescience” or too much responsibility taken by “Big brother” government. Jack you are imagining it is a issue of wanting to much care to be supplied by government than what government is capable of or even should be responsible for and yet it is the DEMOCRATS and not the republicans who have a track record of shrinking the size and expense of government…and they did so while actually accomplishing MORE not less. Now we have a republican administration and a republican congress and the government been expanded to a greater expense, larger and faster than in the previous 200 HUNDRED+ YEARS COMBINED!!!! THAT’S RIGHT JACK, COMBINED!!!! Your straw man argument is in reality, a mirror, Jack.

Worse yet, this exponentially more expensive and larger and more government we are fostering is actually LESS capable of accomplishing anything.

The response to katrina ignored poorer neighborhoods in favor of those who owned cars and lived in places that were more affluent. Aid aimed at the hardest hit areas was mis-re-directed to those who were in less need. Such aid was re-directed to aid centers where evacuees who owned cars had escaped to while busses bound for evacuation efforts to help those trapped in areas without water or food were taken over by FEMA and parked…FOR WEEKS!!! Trailers that were meant to go to places where homes had been wrecked ARE STILL PARKED IN ARKANSAS TO THIS DAY!!!

…and a class-5 direct hit on New Orleans was planned for as long ago as the early seventies when FEMA (run by real people and not fired horse show personnel) began to run drills on how to deal with a direct hit on New Orleans by a class 5 hurricaine…’perfect prescience,’ Jack? GET REAL!

Then there is the private sector BS facilitated and encouraged by the government response: Insurence denials for those seeking claims based on no coverage for flooding contained in their hurricaine policies, insurers and other oportunists moving in to begin adversely possessing properties in effected areas while the evacuees who owned them cannot return, contracting firms with deals to hire teams for the clean-up and “re-build” refusing to hire the locals who have lost everything and are in the greatest need for the work while they advertise to hire help from all over the rest of the country. There are even development firms taking advantage of the hurricaine and excercising the new re-defined power of emmanent domaine through through gov in order to take advantage of opportunities in neighborhoods WHERE THERE ARE STILL UNSETTLED CLAIMS BEING ARGUED AND NEGOTIATED! The result is more chaos and loss even a year after the storm.

You have sculpted this into a rather predictable attack on your mis-conception of liberals and ‘big-government.’ It is a twisting of the truth to an extreme and it is deceptive and I dare say even malignant. I call it malignant because it is an effort to distort and ‘malign’ based on a deception. I cannot comment on whether you are deceived or intentionally trying to deceive when you actually know better. That is a question for you to ask within your own soul.

From the attitudes of republicans in power to the attitudes of those vote and support them, the republican party is proving itself unfit to govern. Harm is being done by shallow callousness that is the result of a failure to analize or understand problems such as Katrina and the economic realities of American citizens
living in places like Jefferson Parish. The republican party does not represent them….hell, the republican party doesn’t even understand them.

I recall a tirade on this very blog a few months ago that cited to an article and accused the Katrina evacuees of causing a rise in the crime rate in Houston. I looked up the article and discovered the ‘malignant’ deception: THE EVACUEES WERE THE VICTIMS! …not the criminals. What blew me away about the exchange of blogs then was that the rabid republican who offered it must surely have KNOWN (assuming he/she actually read the article they were tirading about).

I got nothing more to say here. I’m exhausted to the point of disgust with all the republican efforts to decieve and manipulate. This crap has got to stop.

Posted by: RGF at August 24, 2006 01:19 PM
Comment #177234

I find it interesting that the ones that are bashing Bush for the way things were handled after Katrina are defending Mayor Idiot for not taking action before Katrina hit. But then that’s partisan politics for ya.
The folks that were to lazy to get their butts out of NO when evacuation became mandatory shows just how stupid and lazy they are. I have are hard time feeling sorry for someone that won’t do for themselves.
Nagin could have and should have ordered the buses used to evacuate the city. The fact that he didn’t shows his incompetence.
The fact that it was late August and school was out doesn’t hold water. It’s late August now and I can get a hold of just about every school bus driver the our district has. School bus drivers don’t migrate to the North Pole or something when school lets out for the Summer. I’m sure Nagin could have gotten a hold of at least 90% of them. That would have been 360 buses and 21,600 folks moved out of the storms way. Then there are the transit buses. How many of them does NO own. And their drivers weren’t up in the North Pole for the Summer.
Governor Blanco should have ordered the buses used when it became apparent that Nagin was to big an idiot to do it. The fact that she didn’t shows either her incompetence or lack of concern.
Both Blanco and Nagin share the blame in this area.
Then the storm hit. Nothing could be done while it was around.
After the storm both Blanco and Nagin should have been getting local aid into the area. But they waited for the Feds to come.
The Feds were slow in getting in. There could be good reasons for it but I doubt that it was anything that would take 5 days. This is the fault of any number of folks from the guy in charge on the scene all the up to George Bush himself. So much went wrong that ya could most likely find blame all the way up the line.
So no Bush aint off the hook either. As President he has to take the ultimate responsibility for the Government’s failure.
The only folks left in NO to ride the storm out I feel sorry for are the folks that were in the hospitals and/or were physically unable to get themselves out. Those that could’ve have gotten themselves out, and that’s most of them, and were to lazy to I don’t have the least bit of sympathy for.

Posted by: Ron Brown at August 24, 2006 01:20 PM
Comment #177235

Theoretically, it’s good advice not to expect help from the government, and to plan for things as self-sufficiently as possible, but the unpredictable nature of disasters, and the mind-boggling, complicated effects of a catastrophic disaster are often beyond local and state authorities to handle alone.

We cannot let theory become the enemy of practices. Katrina, no matter how bad, should not have caught us as off-guard as it is. We could have done far better than this, and it’s to the right-wing’s shame that they say this is the best their party could do in power.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 24, 2006 01:22 PM
Comment #177236

What I can’t understand is how anyone, Republicans included, can support this president. Katrina represents just one of many failures. The size of government has ballooned during the Bush years; procurement spending has mushroomed in incredibly wasteful ways, we’re heavily mortgaging our children’s future.

Economies expand and contract, of course; that’s just the way of it. But Bush’s tax cuts, if made permanent and which, of course, heavily favor the upperclass and demonstrably widen the rich/poor gap, will cost $3.3 trillion over the next decade. Servicing the national debt already accounts for nearly 20 percent of the national budget. Republicans love to claim these kind of favor the rich tax cuts improve the economy, but that’s more an ideological position than a factually demonstrable one.

Bush is a reactionary, not a conservative. After 9/11, he swung from isolationism to a hubristic attempt to reshape the middle east. As an apostate, he did what many apostates do; he reacted with incredible zeal — and in the process, violated the Constitution. After Katrina, he pledged massive amounts for reconstruction, but failed to understand that managing the money is crucial.

And what I love, just love, is advocates using the current administration’s incompetence as an argument against government, itself.

I long for old style conservatives. I might disagree with them, but they weren’t bonkers.

Posted by: Trent at August 24, 2006 01:27 PM
Comment #177237

Huh. Just got an “editor must approve before commenting” notice. Only thing I did different was to preview and correct before posting. Common problem?

Posted by: Trent at August 24, 2006 01:32 PM
Comment #177240

Ron Brown-

You’re ignoring the realities of the situation. Geographically, New Orleans is a tiny city. You can easily get around the city on bicycle, and many people rely on public transportation or taxis. Imagine if a great disaster were to wipe out New York. So many people there rely on subways and taxis that a true mass evacuation is simply not possible. New Orleans is the same, and the contingency plan, the Superdome, has worked in the past.

Now, for the buses. This is not a feasible plan for a city or state agency to enact. The one person in a leadership role that can hold his head high, General Honore, needed a trained military in order to organize the evacuation from three main points: Superdome, convention center and I-10 overpass. Imagine if Nagin, with the resources of an incredibly poor city, had tried to evacuate thousands of people by bus from points around the city. There was simply no time. By the time everyone was at the superdome or convention center, it was too late for buses. The city was flooded.

Then there’s Blanco. A governor’s first response in this situation should have been to send in the National Guard. Unfortunately, the National Guard was busy in Iraq. Most notably, all of the high-water vehicles from Jackson Barracks in New Orleans has been deployed overseas and were unavailable to Gov Blanco. Remember the video of Honore rolling in with those vehicles full of supplies? New Orleans had twelve of thos evehicles stationed there for the exact reason they were needed during Katrina. How much flooding have we had to deal with in Iraq?

And no matter how you slice it, in every natural disaster of the last 100 years, FEMA has been in charge of the recovery. Once the event is over, FEMA is supposed to move in. Why didn’t this happen? Why? Can anyone even hazard a guess? I am trying not to believe in the reasons of racism, classism, or worst of all, partisanship. I have pretty well settled on incompetence. Brown, Chertoff, Bush. Thats the federal chain of command, and they all failed miserably.

Posted by: David S at August 24, 2006 01:57 PM
Comment #177241


The people I know who lived in tents for several months weren’t destitute. They went to work or volunteered in the cleanup effort to EARN the food and other help they were given. That’s an example not only of self sufficiency, but also of self respect.
They took responsibility for themselves and didn’t expect someone else to do for them what they can do for themselves. Having such an outlook in the face of the adversity they went through is an example of good character.
They set up a tent city on the property of a man whose house was destroyed, at his invitation. They banded together to help each other with the day to day necessities as well as the unusual needs of living in a disaster area. That’s an example of being a good neighbor and an asset to your community.
All this and more was done without the direction of bureaucrats from Washington. It isn’t the responsibility of the federal gov’t to take care of us. It’s our responsibility.
People have banded together to help their neighbors in their time of need. We don’t need bureaucrats getting in the way, like they did in the weeks after Katrina hit. I was involved in the recovery effort after the storm and the most common complaint was that FEMA and the Red Cross were in the way.

Posted by: traveller at August 24, 2006 01:58 PM
Comment #177245

Ron Brown,

You are deceived and that’s unfortuneate. But, you are passing that deception off as knowledge and that is irresponsible. New Orleans is/was a walking city. Many residents lived without cars of any kind. The city is surrounded by water: The Mississippi, Lake Ponchartrain, The Gulf. Even before Katrina made landfall, roads were closed into and out of the city for safety reasons. They were the roads that are easily submerged in tropical storms let alone hurricaines. To suggest that any mayor would have sufficient control in this situation is silly. Of course he didn’t. Mayor Nagin only has authority of any kind with respect to New Orleans. He was hamstrung by not having submarines, not by not having busses. He was also hamstrung by not having authority to do anything about the busses that were being commandeered at FEMA checkpoints well out of range of his New Orleans specific authority. What busses were made available immediately after the storm and before the levies broke, were actually comandeered by FEMA and parked. They were not allowed to assisst in the way that the private entities who arranged for them had intended in order to help those most in need.

You offer the observation that you believe that most of them could have got out on their own. You don’t know New Orleans. You understand people who live without cars. You are wrong. Most especially, you are wrong about those in places like Jefferson Parish…any many of them owned their own homes!

Posted by: RGF at August 24, 2006 02:28 PM
Comment #177249


People in some areas have been able to do that, and thats great. I spent two weeks in New Orleans helping friends gut houses, and they took the initiative to improve their situation. Some people realized that there was nothing for them to go back to in NOLA and simply stayed wherever they had been evacuated to. That is a responsible, if regrettable, decision. Some others stayed away for months, waiting for money to move back, a job to move back to or for the ability to go back to their property. Some are still waiting.

But beyond the reality of their situations, which the overwhelming majority have chosen to make the best of, is the reality of our situation as a nation that will allow this to happen. We go to work, go home to our families and loved ones, with all of our posessions and a roof over our heads, and you have the nerve to expect your fellow Americans to live in tents and be happy about it? Not for a few weeks, but for A YEAR. Six months after the storm, the city was so bankrupt that trash collections were happening every three-four weeks. This is SIX MONTHS after the the storm. People were piling disgusting, mold ridden carpeting, dry wall and furniture on the side of the road and it was sitting there for weeks, not to mention the normal garbage a city produces. This is no way for humans in the richest nation in the world to live, but they did, because they had no other options.

Posted by: David S at August 24, 2006 03:08 PM
Comment #177250

Hey, Jack - If a tornado rips through your house and kills your family - and you knew the tornado was coming - your self-righteous, hyperbolic, selfish logic would dictate that the Compassionate Conservative government you cling to like a cancer should do nothing for you.

I coudn’t agree more.

Posted by: Keith at August 24, 2006 03:28 PM
Comment #177266

Logic dictates if you are in the path of a freight train you get out of the way. Katrina was that freight train to New Orleans. People who live in Florida board up and get out if the storm is going to be devastating. This isn’t the first time New Orleans got hit. I guess they didn’t learn from those other times. I feel bad for the people who lost their posessions and those who lost their lives, but as I said in the beginning “IF YOUR IN THE PATH OF A FREIGHT TRAIN GET OUT OF THE WAY”

Posted by: KAP at August 24, 2006 06:02 PM
Comment #177268


If a tornado rips through my house, I expect the Federal government to do NOTHING for me, whether or not I knew the tornado was coming. The same thing goes if my house burns down, is flooded or hit by a meteor.

Do you really think a problem like that should be a Federal case, or even a state or local case?

Posted by: Jack at August 24, 2006 06:22 PM
Comment #177269

It’s VOODOO Politics straight from NOLA. Nagin and Blanco are just two of the incompetent politicos hagin’ around the political soup kitchen, milkin’ the trough for what they can get. Sen Landrieu is also in that group. Suckin’ up what they can from the tax payers and callin’ it “Helpin’ the Po Folk”. Or as President Reagan said about government help and its dangers—-“Hi, I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.”

Posted by: tomh at August 24, 2006 06:28 PM
Comment #177270

As far as the feds and the free ride most of the victims expect. NO WAY. Low intrest loans or even no intrest loans. YES

Posted by: KAP at August 24, 2006 06:34 PM
Comment #177271

As far as some of the victims expecting the feds to give them a free ride. NO WAY!!! Low intrest or even no intrest loans would be the way.

Posted by: KAP at August 24, 2006 06:36 PM
Comment #177274

“This isn’t the first time New Orleans got hit. I guess they didn’t learn from those other times.”

It’s true. There were very many people in NO and Mississippi who had lived through Hurricane Camille in 1969 — which hit the Gulf coast in the exact same areas, but made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane with winds up to 190 miles an hour. Since Katrina, I’ve heard it written about more than once that because NO and Mississippi didn’t experience massive flooding with Camille, and because the storm surge in 1969 actually made Lake Pontchartrain’s water recede, rather than rise (even though it was the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded), people believed they knew what the very worst could be like.
This was a tragically wrong belief — because Katrina, while weaker than Camille, actually covered a larger amount of territory and had a bigger storm surge.
Just goes to show all of us that experience sometimes isn’t the best teacher. And, this is also why (IMO) people shouldn’t always be so damn judgmental and so quick to get up on their high horse when other people make such a grave and unwise decision.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 24, 2006 06:50 PM
Comment #177275


I was going to yell at you until I realized that there is a left Keith as opposed to me the right Keith. I guess I’ll change my handle.

Posted by: Keith at August 24, 2006 06:53 PM
Comment #177279

The gulf coast lucked out on camille. They didn’t fair to good with katrina. The next might be even more devistating. Florida gets blasted every year. People have to learn mother nature could be one mean b—-h when she wants to be.

Posted by: KAP at August 24, 2006 07:09 PM
Comment #177281


Would you have them ride their bikes, with their families on their backs, on up I-10 to Baton Rouge? Maybe they can build a street car line to Texas. These people have no means to get out of the way of anything, so they go to the Superdome like they always have, like they are told to do. The problem is when you have a few thousand people stranded in the Superdome, and the Federal help that was promised and that has always been there in the past doesn’t show up. Grow up and stop looking at these disasters from an idiotically ideological standpoint and realise that the people who could leave, did.

Posted by: David S at August 24, 2006 07:16 PM
Comment #177282

David S
I’d get my family out any way I could even if we had to WALK. I’ve been through huricannes in the Atlantic and the Pacfic Typhons they are no fun.

Posted by: KAP at August 24, 2006 07:33 PM
Comment #177283

David S
I’d get my family out any way I could even if we had to WALK. I’ve been through huricannes in the Atlantic and the Pacfic Typhons they are no fun.

Posted by: KAP at August 24, 2006 07:33 PM
Comment #177305


You are missing the point. You keep harping on the notion that those hurt by Katrina are unfairly asking for handouts. The point is that the government put them in the position they are in. It was government who cut corners on the levies when they were constructed in a manner that was sub-par and contrary to the recommendations of the Army Corps of Engineers, among others. It was the government who commandeered busses and medical aid that was headed for New Orleans in the wake of the storm (from private sources) and it is the government who is facilitating those who are taking advantage of tragedy by wrongfully denying coverage, capitalizing on long drawn out coverage and rebuilding disputes with insureres to use emmanent domain to forcibly re-develop neighborhoods into profitable developments.

You are somehow trying to sell the idea that Liberals are about big government and that Katrina is about a bunch of low-rent liberal minorities who just want their handouts. You are WRONG, Jack…way wrong.

The true horrors of Katrina are the result of big-government…republican big government that was the product of the kind cronyism that put inexperienced leaders in places where they actually could not implement or even understand the practiced responses of an organization that had been running ‘what if scenarios’ ever since Camille in ‘69. Those of us on the left are not saying that the victims of Katrina should be made whole by FEMA…but surely you can understand that FEMA was actually the biggest element of the problem. They had been rehearsing for how to respond to a class 5 hit on New Orleans for 30 years or more and yet all FEMA could do was be a PART OF THE PROBLEM?

The straw man arguments about liberls and big government are getting REAL tired Jack. It is the republicans who are making and have always made the government bigger, more expensive and less effective or efficient at doing ANYTHING positive. Try as you might to argue against that reality, it is undeniable FACT, Jack…Or in the words of Bill Murray: “That’s a fact, Jack!”

Posted by: RGF at August 24, 2006 09:59 PM
Comment #177307


I grew up on the Texas Gulf Coast. You don’t go walking your family through gulf coast swampland during a storm or following a storm. Are you suggesting that thousands of people who just lost everything should traipse their families through the Atchafalaya swamp on their way to ‘safety?’ Have you ever seen the Atchafalaya? Do you know what an alligator is? Ever seen one?
Get real. All you republicans seem to have a significant problem with understanding reality.

Posted by: RGF at August 24, 2006 10:11 PM
Comment #177311

I’ve been up to my eyeballs in Katrina relief (now recovery) for the past year. I drove countless truckloads of relief supplies to the coast, and I’ve been helping to provide manpower for reconstruction since the storm. I’ve made many trips to the coast and NO for meetings and to work on cleanup. For the first few months reports hit my desk daily, now it’s weekly. I have friends, family and coworkers on the coast and in NO. One family member was literally blown out of his house by the storm surge. (he survived) I’ve seen with my own eyes the obstacles gov’t at all levels is putting in the way of recovery. I’ve heard with my own ears the excuses and blame shifting of the incompetent boobs who turned a disaster into a tragedy. I know in intimate detail what the aftermath of Katrina is.
The amount of storm debris in south Ms. was estimated at 60 tons per acre. I don’t have an estimate for NO but I’m sure the number would be staggering. That much crap can’t be cleaned up in 6 months.
The estimate I’ve seen for the time frame for recovery is 10 years+-if we don’t get hit again.
We as a nation didn’t allow this to happen. It is a natural disaster of unprecedented scope in our country. Disaster turned to tragedy in NO because of the incompetence of local and state gov’t and the liberal mindset of “it’s not your fault, Uncle Sugar will take care of you” that’s been ingrained in a large segment of the population for a couple of generations.
I started working on disaster relief 5 days after the storm. The reason it took 5 days is because I live in a small rural community and that’s how long it took us, without outside help, to clear the roads so we could get out. Small communities like mine were low priority for restoration of power and services, a decision I agree with. Hospitals, emergency services and grocery stores needed to be put back in service first.
We were on our own and had to rely on ourselves and each other. There’s nothing sad about that. What’s sad is, as we saw in NO, many people are incapable of taking care of themselves and each other.

Posted by: traveller at August 24, 2006 10:43 PM
Comment #177317

There is this Stephen King story, nothing special, about a doctor on a deserted island, who slowly cannibalizes himself to survive.

This is what the Republican Party’s general attitude towards disaster relief seems to be. Such emphasis is put on the abstracts of ideology, that when the time comes and help doesn’t, they excuse failures of policy as being big government’s inability to do anything right (with no plans to do anything about it), they excuse lives lost by blaming the victims for being in the way of the disaster, and they use Market-Oriented excuses to explain away anemic relief efforts, failure to take care of those caught in humanitarian crises, and slow to absent rebuilding.

The result is, things are allowed to settle into dysfunction, with the Gulf Coast no doubt suffering crippling economic effects because of the lackadaisical, laissez faire approach.

Stitches in time, people. This mirrors precisely the problems in Iraq, where there, before Katrina, the Bush administration failed to react to a problem before it became more aggravated. In fact, I think that’s part of how Bush lost so much popularity over his response to Katrina: he demonstrated that Iraq was not simply some fluke, that this indeed was the way this administration did business: fatally bubbled away, rife with corruption, not intellectually agile enough to rearrange their approaches to problems to improve their batting average on solutions.

The mark of an amateur is the inability to depart from theory or translate that theory into effective, beneficial practice.

The thing Republicans should consider is whether more people are having to look for assistance and be a burden on society, because the Bush administration didn’t clear up the problem soon enough to repair the engines of economy and because they didn’t prime the economy with the requisite aid and relief.

Maybe people should become more self-sufficient, but in places where cooperation and infrastructure are crucial parts of life, not just conveniences (most urban and suburban areas), the interdependence is not only to be tolerated, but its ressurection is to be made a priority.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 24, 2006 11:25 PM
Comment #177319


I deeply respect your efforts and your experiences with regard to the clean up and recovery….HOWEVER, this preposterous accusation against liberals about relying on “Uncle Sugar” holds no water at all. Not even as much water as the sub-standard levies along the Ponchartrain after Katrina hit them. Please refer to the posts I made above. It was never about “Uncle Sugar” coming to save…it was about Uncle Sugar NOT coming to rob! It is about homeowners who were disregarded for either classist or racist reasons. Ultimately, those two things are the same, anyway. The one begets the other.

Posted by: RGF at August 24, 2006 11:51 PM
Comment #177321

David S, RGF
So let me get this straight. It’s wasn’t feasible for folks that get around by bus all the time to get on one to get out of town before the hurricane hit. Very interesting.
But then I reckon it’s anything to put all the blame on someone y’all hate and keep it off that idiot mayor. Typical partisanship.
Like I said there’s plenty of blame to go around. I’m not letting anyone off the hook. The whole damn heap of them screwed the pooch on this one.

“Hi, I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.”

That lie goes right along with “The check is in the mail”.

Posted by: Ron Brown at August 25, 2006 12:01 AM
Comment #177326

Ron Brown,

Exactly when do you imagine that the busses should have been hauling people out prior to Katrine making landfall?

I think it safe to bet that you have no experience of hurricaines whatsoever.

Just the same, I must admit that it would have better if New Orleans could have completely evacuated prior to Katrina’s landfall. Do you have any idea how long that would have taken? Can you imagine where the hurricaine was at the time New Orleans SHOULD have begun evacuating if it was going to actually get EVERYONE out?

It’s an understanding of reality issue yet again and you republicans just aren’t very good at it.

Posted by: RGF at August 25, 2006 12:25 AM
Comment #177338


I agree that we should never have built levees to make dry land of what by nature is below sea level swamp. We should correct that mistake by NOT rebuilding houses and businesses in the same place. Nature really wants it back; give it to her.

RE the people with handouts. People have some responsibility to take care of themselves, no matter what the ultimate cause of their malady. If I rent a place from you and you promise to stock a week’s worth of supplies, but you don’t, should I just starve and blame you, or should I maybe take some other action?

The response from many in New Orleans was literally childish. I taught my kids a long time ago to do better.

ANd what are we talking about here. NOT most people. Most people in New Orleans and elsewhere are rebuilding, have rebuilt or moved on. If you are still in dire peril a year after the peril has passed, you might look in the mirror for the person to blame.

Posted by: Jack at August 25, 2006 08:05 AM
Comment #177340

I’m truly sick of being lectured by the Conservative Right about what I should not be expecting from my government. Very few of us actually lack enough pride to want a free ride from the government. Most of us just want somewhat easier lives.

We don’t want to be sick and have no good options for treatment. We don’t want to take a medicine, fearing that common side-effects may include detonating livers or something like that.

If we invest, we’re not asking for unearned success. We’re asking not to be taken for a ride We don’t want to have to lose retirement or other fortunes in the process so the market can teach people lessons. We want the government to teach them lessons before it ever comes to that. We want stockbrokers working for their investors, CEOs and other leaders working for the benefit of the investors, and accountants auditing and consulting separately and ethically in both cases.

We want the government to acknowledge scientific consensus, instead of trying to create a false picture of uncertainty because the mainstream theory threatens wealthy interests. The free market does not function well when deception takes the place of meaningful information.

And when we face a catastrophic disaster of epic proportions, the last thing we need to hear are excuses. Ideally, everybody would be self sufficient, local plans would go off without a hitch, and nobody would need relief.

But we don’t live in an ideal world, and there are things the federal government can do, or at least do easier than the states or localities can, especially when roads and infrastructure are compromised. When lives are on the line, ideology should take a back seat to pragmatism. People should not have to die to demonstrate a political point, which is sadly what the Republican’s excuses on Katrina amount to.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 25, 2006 08:27 AM
Comment #177349


There are some things you don’t seem to be grasping.

New Orleans is slowly sinking. It always has been. That is the nature of the ground it is built on. The levies are NOT there to unnaturally make wet land into dry…they are there to keep dry land dry. Lake Ponchartrain is a natural lake formed by an elbow of the Mississippi after the river skipped out and found new banks. The levies are there to keep it from doing it again and to keep the lake from pouring into the city. Regardless, this natral fact was true of the ground New Orleans was built on long before New Orleans was there. We talk about how silly a city it was until hell freezes over but that does not change the fact that it WAS built there and that the tragedy of Katrina was real. It’s a moot point.

Also, you keep trying to turn this into some kind of argument about people expecting handouts. That is not the reality. Heck, even the scenario you proposed works to illustrate a part of what I’m trying to get through to you, in a way: If you rent from me and as part of the contractual deal I am supposed to stock certain things in the house and I don’t…I have violated our contract and you have cause for legal action against me. You have paid for something you are being robbed of.

In the case of New Orleans, there are tax-paying policy holding insured citizens who are getting robbed. The robbery is being facilitated by various levels og government who are allowing emmanent domain to be excercised privately for profitable re-development in places where there are still ongoing disputes about claims for damages being brought by those who only want to rebuild what they legitimately own while they still own it.

In the aftermath of Katrina, a number a very curious things happened: Aid meant for the areas most in need was stopped, confiscated and diverted. Those that benefitted from that aid were less in need than those it was intended for. Efforts were made to evacuate people still stuck in areas with no food, water, lights…but those efforts were actually stopped by FEMA and the resources re-directed to help nobody or to help those who were considerably less in need. These were largely PRIVATE aid efforts that FEMA commandeered. These were not handouts from the federal government.

To this day, the government is busy helping private entities excercise emmanent domain over properties in areas where these entities are investing in new developments at the cost of those whose property value is tanked as a result of the damage but nonetheless want to rebuild if only the insurers would do right by them and honor the contracts they entered into with these victims.

The only reason I can see for you continuing to try to sculpt this into an issue of people looking for handouts is because that is the tired old paradigm argument the republicans have been levying for ages. Interestingly, the more legitimate the injustice caused by government malfeasance, the more I hear that tired old ax being ground. The reaon you jump to this is that it fits the human-software you stuck in your head when you became a republican. I encourage you to look more closely into this situation and see for yourself. Go to New Orleans. You can’t understand what is going on there from Virginia.

Posted by: RGF at August 25, 2006 10:51 AM
Comment #177351

If this right-wing Administration and its followers; feel that it is justice to prosecute Sadam for genocide committed on his own people (the curds) in the 1980s, (today in 2006)?

Then, what year will it be, when a left-wing Administration feels obligated to prosecute this Administration for the genocide on New Orleans, (in 2005)?

And, more importantly how do you, (right-wing supporters), make a distinction between the two?

(Retoricial Question above)
Because there is none.

Posted by: PlayNice at August 25, 2006 10:59 AM
Comment #177363


Everything you have said so far shows a frightening lack of compassion. I can only hope your children are ignoring your lessons and learning from someone with some humanity.

Posted by: David S at August 25, 2006 11:54 AM
Comment #177366


To compare an actual genocide to a very bad storm that killed about 1000 people (remember 10 times that many died during unusually hot weather in France)is insulting to genocide victims. Suggest you talk to some people actually affected by genocide and tell them how being trapped in the Superdome is the same as living in a concentration camp or having your relatives gassed.

If you really cannot see the difference, I have no more pearls to cast before you on this subject. You may learn more as your experience grows.

Stephen & RGF

I am not making myself clear. My problem with the levees is primarily environmental. This is not a new thing or a Bush thing. I have been reading about this all my life and seeing documentaries with titles like “Good bye Louisiana”. We have been destroying wetlands and asking for this to happen for nearly 100 years. Parts of New Orleans are above sea level and rebuildable. Most of the parts that we love and are historically important are among them. Yes. Rebuild. Anyplace that still featured large pools of water a month or two later probably should return to a natural state.

We foolishly and arrogantly built where it was not warranted. We now have an opportunity to correct at least part of our mistake. Do it.

Re handouts - the Federal government should build general infrastructure and set general rules. It has no particular business in the individual needs game. The only thing the Feds should be sure to do now (a year later) is NOT to help rebuild the soggy parts of New Orleans.

Posted by: Jack at August 25, 2006 12:05 PM
Comment #177367


It depends on who is going to do it. I believe in helping people. I do that. I hope you are as generous with your time and money. I do not believe in the Federal government doing those same things because I believe in treating people like adults. I do not see us all as wards of the state, as you imply we are.

If you empower the Feds to do all the things you want done in New Orleans, you empower the Feds to do lots of other things too. Remember that about half the time the Feds will be controlled by people you may not like. Do you want George Bush to have the power to dictate what gets built in local communities in Louisiana? If not, do not ask him to do it. Once you let the Feds in, they are reluctant to leave.

Posted by: Jack at August 25, 2006 12:09 PM
Comment #177371


Our understanding of wetlands and environmental issues is a very new thing. It was not part of the understanding of either the French or of Jefferson who bought Louisiana from the French 200 years ago.

It is a moot point because it does not address the fact that there were and are people in New Orleans now.

If you are suggesting that we should ignore imjustices and even government orchested theft from Katrina victims in order to revert to some kind of environmentally sustainable wetlands…then you are clearly sending a *message* crazier than any liberal tree hugger I ever met. What you are trying to say is right up there with those homicidal maniacs who spike trees so lumberjacks with big chainsaws will decapitate themselves when the chains break on the spikes!

New Orleans was full of people, Jack. Real people. They owned homes, worked jobs, had kids tought school…
If it is necessary, pay them fair market value for their homes and relocate them out of the environment that is right for them…but don’t rob them and move richer people in just to profit from their loss!

As it stands now, the neighborhoods are being rebuilt but the emmanent domain fair market value is being assessed on their post Katrina value on properties which are in the middle of coverage claims disputes being initiated by people who just want to add value to the property by rebuilding. They are getting robbed by insurers, government, developers etc.

And the people who are taking the homes from them are interested in moving people out of an area to preserve wetlands…they are using government and insurance company wrongdoing to profit themselves and move richer people into the same areas.

Your argument about preservation of wetlands is not even relevant to what is going on, Jack. Whether or not the area should be vacated of people and preserved as a wetland is a pointless argument with respect to Katrina and what is both happening and not happening in Louisiana right now.

Posted by: RGF at August 25, 2006 12:34 PM
Comment #177374

Add a “NOT”…

And the people who are taking the homes from them are NOT interested in moving people out of an area to preserve wetlands…they are using government and insurance company wrongdoing to profit themselves and move richer people into the same areas.

Posted by: RGF at August 25, 2006 12:38 PM
Comment #177375


The problem is that the Federal government not only promises those services, taxes us to pay for them, and is readily able to provide them, they also prevent the private sector from doing such things. The “You make your bed, thats where you lie” argument is heartless, but also a very slippery slope. You were smoking in bed and your house caught fire? Sorry, no fire department for you. You didn’t lock your doors and all your things got stolen? You deserve it, no police investigation. You built your house where it might flood? Tough luck, move to Kansas.

Posted by: David S at August 25, 2006 12:51 PM
Comment #177381

First I’m NOT REPUBLICAN. Republicans are just a liberal as Democrats. In fact some Democrats are more conservative that most Republicans.
They were pretty sure where Katrina was going to hit around Friday. They knew for sure on Saturday. If they had started evacuating then and worked around the clock I’ll be willing to bet that NO would have been a ghost town by Monday morning.
But then I reckon that Mayor Idiot Nagin was waiting for the Federal Government to evacuate the town for him. He’s sure wanting the it to do everything now.
There is no excuse for Nagin’s inaction. And there is no excuse for the slow response by FEMA.

Posted by: Ron Brown at August 25, 2006 01:23 PM
Comment #177384


Nagin issued a mandatory evacuation on Saturday, the first in the city’s history, and 80% of the population evacuated. That is considered a hugely successful evacuation.

This was a horribly devastating storm. Everyone knew it would be a horribly devastating storm, all the way up the president himself, as seen in that infamous video. I’m not sure what town you live in, but there is no city government capable of handling such a disaster. They simply do not have the resources. The people in this country pay taxes that fund the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA should have had boots on the ground in New Orleans on Monday, Tuesday at the latest. They should have been bringing in supplies for the people at the last resort evacuation centers and working on a plan to get them out. “Managing” the “Emergency”.

Posted by: David S at August 25, 2006 01:36 PM
Comment #177403

This says it all

Posted by: TruthSeeker at August 25, 2006 02:40 PM
Comment #177406

Shocking. Another conservative trying to paint Katrina as a Liberal failure. It was a failure of government, most notably Federal, which happened at the time to be Republican. I wish i could say with confidence it would have been different under a Democrat, but I don’t know it would have.

By the way, with a name like “TruthSeeker”, you should probably stay away from partisan propaganda.

Posted by: David S at August 25, 2006 02:50 PM
Comment #177421

David S
You dispute the FACT that Gorelick is a partisan Hack?

I didn’t think so.

Likewise, the Katrina fiasco ensued as a byproduct of previous and long
standing bureaucratic corruption and incompetence, perpetrated with complete
disregard for the very widely accepted knowledge that a large storm would
eventually strike New Orleans.

“In truth, the storm brought no surprises, except that during the time which
should have been devoted to preparation, the New Orleans government
misdirected funds and indulged itself in every luxury except that of shoring
up its levees and infrastructure.

As a consistent liberal, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin steadfastly refuses to
take responsibility for the fiasco that ensued.”

Hardly partisanship. Truth hurts doesn’t it?

Posted by: TruthSeeker at August 25, 2006 03:32 PM
Comment #177442

David S. I beg to differ with you. The febs did drop the ball but due to the stupidity of the mayor and the gov of La., which happen to be DEMOCRATS, really drop the ball. They could have started evacuation procedures at least a couple of days prior to Katrina hitting. And if the people didn’t want to leave they’re on their own.

Posted by: KAP at August 25, 2006 04:28 PM
Comment #177457
In truth, the storm brought no surprises, except that during the time which should have been devoted to preparation, the New Orleans government misdirected funds and indulged itself in every luxury except that of shoring up its levees and infrastructure.

As a consistent liberal, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin steadfastly refuses to
take responsibility for the fiasco that ensued.

I would like you, with the advantages of 20/20 hindsight, to tell me what the mayor should have done differently. Also, please point out the “luxuries” that New Orleans indulged itself in. And finally, the levees are a Federal project, that the municipality and state governments had no control over. Further, in 2003, the state of Louisiana and hurricane experts from LSU beseeched the federal government to improve their levees. Funds were promised, but later re-directed to (shocker) Iraq.

No mayor has the power, authority or resources to adequately prevent what happened in New Orleans. That would be like asking why Giuliani didn’t have those planes shot down.

Posted by: David S at August 25, 2006 05:34 PM
Comment #177462

Bravo, Stephen, RGF, DavidS. Truly excellent posts in this thread.

“As a consistent liberal, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin”

You meant inconsistent, right?

Nagin had actually been a registered Republican for most of his adult life, switching to the Democrats shortly before seeking office, for which his candidacy was branded as opportunistic in the solidly Democrat city. Nagin was, at that time, a known Bush supporter, having contributed to the president’s campaign. Nagin entered the New Orleans mayoral race a political unknown but emerged through the middle of a crowded field of known Democrats, securing vital cross-party and in-party endorsements for his populist pledges to tackle city hall corruption and run the administration in a more business-like manner.
Posted by: Adrienne at August 25, 2006 06:05 PM
Comment #177464

First, we must remember that New Orleans is there for a reason, and the levees, as environmentally problematic as they are, are necessary for the City’s existence.

What got New Orleans put where it was had something to do with the funky geography of the mouth of the Mississippi. Namely, the delta is pretty unstable, so the real mouth of the river is not the best place to put a port. New Orleans is situated near a less vulnerable point further inland which was more navigable.

New Orleans still has that advantage, and likely will keep it until global warming and other forces overwhelm it once and for all.

As I’ve said before, the placement and growth of cities has a certain nonlinear logic to it.

If you sought to change the face of New Orleans, a laissez faire effort like Bush’s has no hope of changing things for the better. To uproot and relocate people takes a much more substantial, far-reaching effort than what Republicans are willing to engage in.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 25, 2006 06:30 PM
Comment #177465

State and local government should be the first responders at least that is the way it is in Ohio. Then the federal government. New Orleans did need federal help but the state and locals should have done more.

Posted by: KAP at August 25, 2006 06:35 PM
Comment #177469


I would argue that the state and locals did all they could.

Remember, the State’s high-water vehicles, which were necessary for a disaster like this, were in Iraq. Lots of flooding in the desert, don’t ya know.

On 9/11, the NYC Fire, Police and Rescue did an amazing job managing the disaster even though their communications had been knocked out. But they were managing a disaster that covered one city block. They had hospitals to send the injured to, supplies of food and water for rescue workers and a relatively contained area that was affected.

The ability of the state to respond was hampered by a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” problem. If you know the hurricane is coming, do you send the rescue workers to the city before the storm so they are there after it hits and pray they aren’t too badly damaged, or do you keep them out of harm’s way and pray that after the storm they can get to the people they need to save? Blanco chose to stage most of the state’s effort from the northshore of Lake Pontchartrain, but it ended up being a moot point because they didn’t have the necessary tools to conduct the rescues.

Then there’s the federal government. They were responsible for the two main failures that made Katrina what it was: the levees that failed and the post-storm emergency response. The Army Corps of Engineers built sub-standard levees (and may have even known it), and FEMA was, at best, slow to act. Trying to place the blame for either of these federal responsibilities on state or local officials is ridiculous.

And, not downplay the heroic efforts of first-responders on Ohio, but when was the last time they dealt with something like this?

Posted by: David S at August 25, 2006 07:09 PM
Comment #177482

RGF & Stephen

The population of New Orleans grew beyond the needs of the port and beyond the capacity of the area to support. As long as we had people there, with houses and businesses, I did not think we should force them to move. But when those houses and businesses are destroyed, I see no reason to recreate the mistake.

You have probably heard someone say, “If I knew then what I know I know now, I would have done it differently.” NOW we have the chance to do it right (or at least better).

Parts of New Orleans will remain and/or are being rebuilt. Other parts should not be. Individuals who own homes of businesses should collect their insurance and whatever disaster relief the government gives them and move to higher ground.

I believe they should get fair market value or the full legal value of their insurance. That is a different issue. I think they should be ALLOWED to rebuilt if they want, but I do not expect insurance firms of the government to support it.

Most of the port facilities, BTW, are now offshore and/or mechanized. We do not need such large population living below sea level.

David S

I couple of years ago I hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Before I went, the ranger warned me that it was really hot and that it might be hard. IF I had trouble, they would rescue me AND they would charge me for the cost. I was allowed to make my own decision, but told that I would be responsible for it. Was that fair?

We do this kind of thing with insurance. I can build where I want to, BUT I might not be able to get insurance at a rate I want to pay. Why should someone else pay for my convenience?

Within a city, we provide fire and police protection. That is irrelevant to your argument. If my house burns down today, the Federal government will give me nothing, nor should they. Do you believe the government would pay? I am not sure what kind of argument you are trying to make. Emergency services and insurance are not the same.

Posted by: Jack at August 25, 2006 07:42 PM
Comment #177489

The Federal government has always responded to natural disasters with aid, be it financial, emergency or supply. There were no complaints when the Feds cut checks in Florida, North and South Carolina after their major hurricanes, California after the earthquake in ‘89 or after tornadoes that happen every single year, just with less damage per incident. The only reason this argument is even happening is to distract from the fcat that BushCo faile dmiserably in a task that every president since LBJ, Democrat or Republican, has excelled at. Natural disasters are generally considered a political Godsend, because the resources and ability are there for any president to look like hero. bush blew it, and now his supporters need some kind of distraction.

The argument that people shouldn’t live in New Orleans because of the threat of natural disaster is weak, mostly because New Orleans has had a major hurricane three times in the last century. How many times has the SF bay area been struck by an earthquake? Better not rebuild after the next one. And how many hurricanes have past over Florida in those 100 years? Best abandon the peninsula. Drought in the plains? Sorry, farmers, you should know better than to plant your crops there. There is no area in the country that isn’t threatened by some form of natural disaster. Except maybe Ohio, but why would anyone want to live there?

Posted by: David S at August 25, 2006 08:45 PM
Comment #177496


The difference is that it will take billions of dollars in government investment to make the place safe for substandard housing. The government has cut checks and has helped the people of New Orleans to as great an extend as it does in any other disaster.

This clause, BTW, is included in many of the insurance policies that do not specifically include flood insurance. “We do not cover loss to any property resulting directly or indirectly from … flood, surface water, waves, tidal waves, overflow of a body of water, spray from these, whether or not driven by wind.”

Maybe there is a reason companies do not want to insure these properties. When a company does not want to sell the product it produces you have to ask yourself why.

Let people rebuild if they want. But since they cannot claim NOT to know the dangers, let them buy their own insurance, just like you and I do. We do not need to give people in New Orleans a special treatment.

Posted by: Jack at August 25, 2006 09:09 PM
Comment #177497

Here is some real information, good and bad from the liberal Brookings Institute.

To date, the Feds have invested $109 billion.

Posted by: Jack at August 25, 2006 09:18 PM
Comment #177519

David S
I’m not arguing that FEMA didn’t screw the pooch in their response. I’m saying that Nagin screwed the pooch in evacuating New Orleans.
If 80% of the folks got out without the buses being used, how many more could have gotten out with them?
Or do you think that FEMA should have gone in and evacuated everyone? That aint FEMA’s job.
Their job is to come in after the disaster with aid. And on that it sure as hell dropped the ball.

Posted by: Ron Brown at August 25, 2006 11:39 PM
Comment #177527


This may come as a shock to you, but there was not one person who lost their lives due to Katrine. THAT IS RIGHT! Not one person died due to Hurricane Katrine, in LA in 2005. Not One.

Oh, there was property damage, sure. I am not saying that it was not one heck of a storm. But not one person died due to the hurricane. So you need to quit saying that. The hurricane was a storm, yes. It was a natural disaster, sure. A freak of nature, you bet. But, it killed….NO ONE.

That was on a Monday. And everyone thought that New Orleans was fine. AND IT WAS! Then the water started to rise. And, people were asked to leave for the second time since the previous day, (Sunday). By Tuesday two Parishes were flooded. These were the two poorest Parishes in LA, Jack. The poorest of the poor. Many were elderly. Many had mobility problems. Many were sick, old, and most all were black. Almost none of them had cars Jack. Most of them could only afford public transportation. Many had to use special public transportation because of walkers, canes, and wheelchairs etc. Others didnt travel at all, because they were home-bound because they were quadrapledgic or parapledgic.

Are you starting to get just a little bit of a picture now, Jack? It is not the very rich, or even the middle class that was hurt by the levys breaking Jack, it was the very poorest of the poor Jack. Because it was not the levys in the middle class neighborhoods that broke, no. It was the two levys in the poorest Parishes of New Orleans that broke, Jack. And Jack, those two neighborhoods, the poorest of the poor in America Jack, those people had an annual income of $8,000.00 per year Jack. Do you have a neighborhood like that where you live Jack? Do you? If so, just go down there someday Jack. Look around. Now picture that there are 119,000 homes there Jack. Homes with families that make $8,000 per year or less.

Kristina happened just before the end of Aug. 2005 Jack. That is a few days before pay day, or welfare checks or disability checks or Social Security checks, Jack. Now, picture this neighborhood (that has 119,000 homes), picture flood waters that come up to the first floor of all those homes Jack. Where are those, more than 200,000, people going to go Jack? Where do you want them to go? And, how ever they get there, Jack, How long do you expect them to stay there, with no money, no income, no food and no water, Jack? How long are they supposed to stay (where ever) without food, medicine or water? And, are they just supposed to sit there, sit there and die Jack? Are you like Scruge, do you think that they (the poor) should just sit quietly and die and the world will be better off without them? Are you like that Jack? ……….

Posted by: PlayNice at August 26, 2006 12:19 AM
Comment #177532

But Jack:

You say that this is not your fault, it is not your problem. And, it sure is not the problem for the Federal Government to solve, is it Jack? No? Why not, Jack?

The Federal Government of the United States in the 1030s had a project called the Tenn. Valley Authority. Thru these government projects people were put to work, and the Tenn. valley was made safer against flood waters. In the 1930s and 1940s there were the Great Dam Projects. These government programs made great recreational lakes for the public good, constructed dams and put thousands to work (through a time of great poverty), and provided power to cities, and saved many cities from yearly flooding, and conserved water usage throughout many States in this Union. The great Dam projects, the Tenn. Valley Authority, the conservation of our National Parks System, and Public Lands, as over-seen by our Federal Government, provide jobs, National Entertainment, Conservation and enjoyment for millions of Americans each year. And, these projects make people and numerous animal species safe and provide us with National Wealth and Pride, as a great Nation.

As an individual or even as a community or even as a State, can you provide these things, these National Projects for the Public Good, Jack? No, you can not! No, it does not take a person, a community, a State to provide these things for the people of a community, it takes: THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. It is only the government “of the people” that has the wealth, the power and the foresight, to provide these things for the “public good”, Jack.

And, if the United States Government were to decide that it would no longer wanted to fund Hoover Dam? What then Jack? Are you going to go up and “fix it”? Are the people of Las Vegas going to go up and fix it, or maintain it? Or, is the State of NV. now supposed to be responsible for it? No. This may come as a big shock to you Jack, but the Hoover Dam project is within the U.S. Department of the Interior Jack. It is not the responsibility of one individual, or one community or one State, no! IT IS A U.S. FEDERALLY FUNDED AND MAINTAINED PROJECT.


Posted by: PlayNice at August 26, 2006 12:56 AM
Comment #177538


In 2003, the President of the United States of America saw fit to stop funding the LA. Levys Project. This was a conscience decision by the President of the United States of America. This decision was made after many prominent people and agencies and departments and scientific facts were known to the President.

The fact that the levys would not hold in a class 3 hurricane and above. The fact that the levys that were still yet unsafe, and were in the poorest of the “poor” neighborhoods along the Gulf Coast. The fact that Global Warming has caused the oceans tempurature to rise over 3 degrees in the past decade, (a real factor in creating a class 5). The fact that thousands if not hundreds of thousands of homes and familys would be decimated if a class 5 hurricane were to hit LA. The fact that the Levy Project had been an ongoing project, that had been in effect for some 37 years, (through many of President Bushes predacesors). The fact that a study of New Orleans, showed that it could not withstand a levy breach. The fact that the Federal agency, i.e., the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers advised the President that the Levys in LA. could not withstand a class 5 or a Levy Breach. The fact that in the exercise of Hurricane Pam, a government exercise in 2004 showed that a complete breach of the New Orleans levy was likely in the event of a class 5 Hurricane and that the effects would be total devistation, a devistation that both the Federal Government and the State of LA. was ill equiped to handle.

Yet, dispite these facts above, President G.W. Bush decided to stop funding and stop work on the levys of New Orleans, in 2003. After this fact, (it may suprise you to know Jack that) the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continued to work, anyway. They worked for another year. With no money, with no support, with no help from the Federal Government in any form. The U.S. Corps of Engineers, Jack. Worked another year, on their own time, they worked, until all of their supplies ran out. And, still, it was not enough. Where was President Bush Jack?

You will notice Jack, that in all those 37 years of working on the levys, that the middle class neighborhoods were safe. The Gulf Coast wealthy neighborhoods were safe, Jack. It is just very, very strange Jack, that the poorest of the poor neighborhoods did not warrent any more time, or any more money from our Government, isnt that strange Jack? Why?

Posted by: PlayNice at August 26, 2006 01:25 AM
Comment #177542


I think that the answer to that one is what actually took place, after Hurricane Katrina, Jack.

You know it would have taken an estimated 2 billion dollars to finish the work on those levys Jack. Just a lousey 2 billion! That is less than 1 lousey week in Iraq Jack. What we are willing to spend on, “bring Democracy” to another Country, (in one week), we are not willing to spend to keep some of our poorest people safe, and keep their homes safe, from a “Natural Desaster”. (Wrong! It was not “Natural”, there was nothing “Natural” about it).

Was this really a Natural Desaster? Or, was it, as I suppose, a MAN MADE one??? A man-made disaster brought on by ignorance, built by incompetancy and based in corportism and greed.Oh, not the “welfare greed” of the impoverished Jack. No, not that. Built upon the special considerations for big business in this country, greed. This corporate favoritism greed. The greed that always seams to be divied up amoung Bush Co. and his buddys, … greed.

Now the poorest of the poor neighborhoods are gone Jack. They have been bull-dozed down. Large swaths of land make way for multi-million dollar condos for the wealthy and the upper crust. Big business will return, gambleing, night clubs, and the old spirit of New Orleans will be re-stored. (And, now…at long last, when those expensive new properties go up? I bet there is lots of government moneys to finish those levys, now Jack).

And, the poor? What happened to them Jack?

Well, they, the ones that made it (through that genocide purpetrated upon an American City by its President), the ones that actually survived that living hell, that nightmare, they have tried to get back home, but they find land raiders have taken their land, refused them money to rebuild, and have stolen their rights and their dreams. They (the walking poor), have finally Jack, relocated to other cities.

They are now financial burdons on other U.S. towns and cities. Taking up residence, with no homes of their own, so no taxes to pay for the strain on that neighborhoods school systems. No jobs, which causes a strain on that citys welfare system and that citys already long lines of unemployed. No health care, which causes a burdon on that states welfare system, doctors that have to practice and hospitals that have to treat, with no money from the patients, to defray their expenses.

Yea Jack, this is a pretty good plan, allrighty.

The Federal Government gets a great land deal for its right wing corporate friends. Spends 200 billion on restoration that will restore a neighborhood (not to the poor, but now to the rich and upper class). New Orleans gets rid of her poor. And, other States can pick up the tab….

Hey, unlike the public works projects of the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s…This is not a win win senerio, this is a loose, loose, loose proposition, for everyone.

Unless, of course, you have a big company with “ins” to big government contracts, and you are in bed with Bush Co. Then of course, your sitting pretty!

And, YOU say that this is not Genocide?

Then, what in the name of, all that is holy???

What in the name of hell, do you call it?

Posted by: PlayNice at August 26, 2006 02:05 AM
Comment #177543

Oh, and P S Jack;

I wonder if Trent Lot has his deck replaced yet? Now, that is a retorical question…
You dont have to answer.

Posted by: PlayNice at August 26, 2006 02:26 AM
Comment #177640

Play nice

You are angry, but that does not make you right. I also feel angry when I read your response. But genocide is very specific and much bigger AND intentional. When you misuse the word, you cheapen the real thing.

You have read a lot, but experienced little. That is clear. You will change your mind when you have gotten around a bit more. You can still be angry, but you will stop the mistaken comparisons.

BTW - I suppose Trent Lot paid for his deck to be rebuilt. Just like many of the people in the region who have and are rebuilding.

BTW2 - You want to blame Bush so you talk about the cutting of funds in 2003 and you say the Army Corp continued to work w/o Federal money. First, the Army Corp cannot continue w/o Federal support. Second, do you really think you can blame all the levy problem on events in the two years before a storm event. It doesn’t require experience to answer those questions, just logic, so I figure you can handle it.

Posted by: Jack at August 26, 2006 05:01 PM
Comment #177698


Yes Jack I am angry. When people see injustice, needless suffering, and the gutting of an American city (and needless deaths) for corporate profiteering, yes, that really does tend to make a person of conscience, … um, angry.

I have not misused the word “genocide” Jack. Genocide means the deliberate or complisite actions of a person or peoples to cause or facilitate, mass murder or the collective elimination of a group of people, or a society; for personal, economic, ideological or religious reasons.

Genocide is an act that requires intent. Or, in legaleese, “Malice of forethought”. Genocide is a deliberate act. New Orleans was a deliberate act, Jack. Senerios were layed out in the “war room” at least a day (posibily 3 days) before Katrina struck. Information was known about the levys, the history of the levys, the type of storm front, when it was to occure, and where it was most likely to occure, and the damage that such a storm would bring, all this was known at least one day before Katrina ever hit land.

Now, if you still insist that Katrina was just an innocent act of “nature”, that was not foreseen, and that the Govenor did not ask for help the Friday before Katrina even struck land? Then you are in denial Jack. Because the facts show differently.

The facts show that when the President said, “No one could foresee that the levys would break”. Just some 2-3 days after Katrina. That was a lie Jack. Tapes from the war room even before Katrina struck show that that statement was a lie, Jack.

And, when Bush said that the govenor of LA never asked for help. That was a lie too Jack. Sence that day, emails that the Govener sent to the President have surfaced. And, they show that the Govenor did indeed ask Bush for “help”. Not after the storm, but a full 3 DAYS BEFORE THE STORM, JACK! (And, the president of the United States said that he would send “help” Jack, but you dont care about that, do you?)

No Jack. You dont care about the truth. You dont want to know the facts. Because even if you did, according to your theology, it wouldnt matter, would it, Jack? No. You have to, you need to, you must follow the good republician party line.

The republician line that says that all business is good and moral. All corporate interests are in the peoples best interest. No companies, corporations, conglomerates, multi-national interests could ever do wrong, Jack. They are the new Constitution to you, the new Bill of Rights to you. No insurance company would ever cheat hundreds of victims out of their homes. No government would ever indiscriminately steal land for their own uses or for big business to get no bid contracts to demolish and build expensive housing for rich customers. No Jack. Things like that never happen in your world.

You see business is a friend. Corporations are there to help us. Government doesnt “serve the people” Jack, there is no such thing as “Public Trust”. No. We are creatures that are in charge of our own fate. We only exhist to serve the government, to serve the business, the corporation. We dont have rights to fair wages, to collective barganing, to expect that we actually do get what we pay for. No. And, when the insurance doesnt pay up, or the price of gas is fixed so that some people can not make a living or people have to be layed off because of the greed of the oil companies? Well, that has to be our fault, right Jack?

Of course it is our fault Jack. Failure to survive in a corrupt world that doesnt play fair is OUR FAULT. Failure is always the individuals fault isnt it Jack? Because everyone in life plays fair, right? God you must hate whinners Jack!

Hey, like Mrs. Bush said, “these people are going to be better off now, than there were before. Katrina is probably the best thing that could have happened to them. Its going to improve their life style”.

Yea, with staying in a good clean hotel rooms instead of their old broken down shack, or in a trailer park in the middle of nowhere, where you have to walk 3 miles to the nearest store, or be moved to Dallas or any other city to start over from scratch.

….Hey Jack, these poor, dirty, worthless, stupid, souls, never had it so good….
Did they Jack?

Posted by: PlayNice at August 27, 2006 03:03 AM
Comment #177708

Experience will someday teach you that anger is not a substitute for truth and that no matter how much you hate one man, you cannot blame him for a major hurricane and all the things that happened after. You are implying that Bush has the power of god.

Maybe you should travel a little and find those places where everyone is so much better off than we are in the U.S.

Maybe you should talk to someone who witnessed a genocide.

Remember this simple statistic is you want to use the word genocide. Over 1000 Americans died after major storm devastated an area the size of the UK. Over 10,0000 French citizens died in their homes during an unusually hot summer a couple years ago. There was no devastation, just a weather event.

By your definition, genocide is everywhere and the word has no meaning to you except to assuage your anger. You may indulge your hyperbole, but you are insulting people who have suffered a genocide.

Posted by: Jack at August 27, 2006 09:41 AM
Comment #177721

There will always be disagreement about basic government philosophy, but I think we all can agree that we want genuine experts running our agencies. Both parties have used executive power to fill vital leadership positions with political hacks as rewards for loyalty and support. Screw that.

Posted by: Trent at August 27, 2006 11:52 AM
Comment #177732


There is only one truth. My version, or yours.

If your version is correct, then our Pres. is only a bumbling idiot, and everyone that serves under him is just as incompetent as he is. But, in your “never never land” day dreams, everything is still alright with the world, because “they” are just human, and “they” are doing the best that they can.

And, if that senerio isnt scary enough, think about the alternative.

If I am correct? That would make the President of the United States a calculating monster. You could never face that fact could you? No …, of course not, that could never ever be true!

That would mean that Bush never intended to bring “help” to New Orleans. Why?

That would mean that when he said he was going to catch Osama Ben Lauden he was lying and that he really never intended to ever catch him, and bring him to justice, as he promised. Why?

That would mean that there was really no reason why we invaded Iraq. Why? Then why did we really go there Jack? To fight terrorists? To find WMD? To bring Democracy to the Iraqui people? There were no terrorists there Jack except Sadam. No He is gone yet we stay? No WMD Jack, Valerie Plame knew that Jack. The Iraquis dont have but a hollow shell of Democracy which has brought about a civil war. Mission accomplished Bush. So why are we really really there?

Why would President Bush do such terriable things to America….Deliberately? For what reason? For what purpose? What good would any of that serve?

There is only one truth Jack.

Yours, or mine.

We all hope, ney pray, that it is your version of the truth that is reality, Jack. We all hope that very very much.

But, if you are really interested in the truth? You must judge for yourself. You must look at New Orleans one year later. I mean really look at the truth of what IS THERE. Not the governments version of what is there. NO! Go to the people Jack. See the stories for yourself.

LOOK FOR YOURSELF JACK. You are a big boy, you can do it.

(Sometimes, the truth will set you free).

Posted by: PlayNice at August 27, 2006 01:03 PM
Comment #177774


Take your own advice. AFTER you have gained a little more experience in the real world.

Until that time, feel free to wallow in your ineffective self righteousness.

I am comfortable that I do my part. I bet it is more than yours. I have found an inverse relationship among those who like to talk about how others are failing to help others and actually doing anything themselves. I think that their anger comes from guilt. Maybe the truth will set you free, after you get a little more experience.

Posted by: Jack at August 27, 2006 06:48 PM
Comment #177792


You seam to put a great deal of stock in this “experience” of which you speak. I know that it is ment as little jabs to indicate that I do not know what I am talking about. However, I assure you that I have read, viewed and listened to more about Katrina in the past year, than you will do in your entire lifetime.

If you can not look at the truth, at the real world, as it really is, if you have to put your special closed minded spin on everything, if all you want to spout is the Republician party line?

Do not dare to tell me which one of us needs to GROW UP!

Posted by: PlayNice at August 28, 2006 12:04 AM
Comment #177794


On environmental grounds I agree with you. New Orleans was built in a bad place. There is no denying that. THAT IS NOT, HOWEVER, THE POINT.

New Orleans WAS built. There were people there whose families owned the homes they lived in for generations. Oportunists came along after the storm and are still preying upon their misfortune to this day. THAT’S CRAP.

Perhaps it would be better if New Orleans were to be reduced in size due to the nature of the location…but not at the cost of screwing the previous residents - not at the cost of victimizing those already made vulnerable by Katrina and the failures of the levees.

ESPECIALLY not in a way that ulitmately redevelops the city just as dangerously full of the same risk as before but only with newer homes in the place of the old. That is what is happening, Jack. The slow rebuild is a re-develop that a handfull of people are capitalizing on in a way that maintains the same risk as before but screws all those who lost everything.

Therefore, ultimately, your environmental point is moot. There is nothing changing from an environmental perspective. So we should at least stop this nonesense of the injustices regarding the rebuilding, the claims and the excercise of emmanent domain to screw those who were there even worse than before.

I am NOT arguing that FEMA or any other government agency should come along and FIX things…But as it is now, they are only adding insult to injury. Tax-paying American citizens are getting screwed out of their last nickel and the government is actually facilitating that. NOT acceptable, Jack. Not one bit.

In fact, Jack, the only cries I have encountered regarding the supposed hand-outs from government are from the right wing who are opposed from a distence without any understanding of what is going on or what those in New Orleans really need. Primarily, they need to be treated fairly and honestly and they need government off their backs so they can either rebuild or get what is fair for their homes and get somewhere else.

I can’t tell you how silly it sounds these days to hear republicans talk as you do on this blog, Jack. It really is laughable to me hear republicans who supported Bush argue AGAINST big government, handouts from “Uncle Sugar” and who still seriously use the term: tax-and-spend-liberals. Those arguments don’t hold water anymore, Jack.

It is the Democrats who have cut the size and expense of government and the republicans who have engaged in the creation of the largest and most expense government growth EVER…even surpassing all the rest of this country’s history COMBINED!!!

…And we are actually LESS effective and efficient to boot. Our response to Katrina demonstrates just how beaurocratic and in-effective we have become.

Enough is Enough.

Posted by: RGF at August 28, 2006 12:57 AM
Comment #177812


It is just that our experience IS different. The way you talk about the Feds indicates that you have read a great deal about it. What you expect of the Feds indicates you have little experience with them. I am not telling you to grow up. I am just thinking that we are essentially speaking different languages. Yours is based on what you think should be true. Mine is based on what I think is possible to expect.

BTW - you argue very well about the suffering of the people, but that is a false argument. Yes, some people are suffering. That does not mean we rebuild in the same place so that they can be content today at the expense of their and their children’s future suffering. Rebuild below sea water New Orleans and you WILL have this happen again. Those concerned about global warming or environmental protection should really understand this point.

If you read so much on the subject, you must also begin to see that the response is very different in different areas of the crisis. Many people have adapted very well and much has been rebuilt. Others are still waiting. The Feds (as I recall from “This Week” have spent $72,000 per person in some parishes. They are not doing nothing. But sometimes things do not work.


Many of my ideas I am applying to New Orleans predate my conservative awakening. When I was a kid, there was a city in my state called Soldier Grove (or home). It was flooded a lot and rebuilt a lot. Finally the whole city just moved up the hill a little.

I believe the homeowners in New Orleans should receive compensation for their losses. If their house was worth $200,000, give them that money. Then let them decide whether or not to rebuild in New Orleans with that money, on condition that they get their own insurance against flooding. By no means should compensation be tied to rebuilding IN New Orleans. Our concern is for the people, not the place. I suspect a lot of people will build a new house someplace else and New Orleans will revert to a more sustainable size and location. We should discourage new people from moving into the below sea level places. It just makes sense. I do not see how this is mean and heartless. It just makes sense in every possible aspect of logic. It makes fiscal sense. It makes practical sense. It makes economic sense and it makes ecological sense. We made a serious mistake building that low down. We now have a chance to fix it. It would be the height of stupidity to recreate our mistake because we made it before.

Posted by: Jack at August 28, 2006 10:43 AM
Comment #177815


Again, I understand and appreciate the environmental realities of the location of the city of New Orleans. That is not relevant. We are discussing the current issues with regard to those who are getting screwed.

It was the French led by a Scot who built New Orleans in the first place and it was not so low down in the beginning. It sank. Nobody understood that the site was likely to do that at the time New Orleans was built. Regardless of the subsidence of the land or the right or wrong decision about building there 200 hundred years ago, there were people living there at the time of Katrina who are getting screwed on top of their losses. That’s what’s relevant.

I made an accusation some months ago about how many on the right refuse to respond in any real or relevant way and then later claim they have. This is a prime example of that, Jack. The nature of the site where New Orleans was built so long ago is not relevant to the issues with regard to how those already victimized by the storm are now being victimized by both government and private sector alike after the storm.

New Orleans is in a bad location. Granted. It just doesn’t mean anything in light of what we are dealing with NOW.

The reason it sounds calous of you to make such comments is that it seems to remove any obligation to do those in New Orleans right by simply saying: “Well nobody should have built there to begin with” …200 hundred years ago Jack? It just isn’t relevant. New Orleans WAS built. There is no denying that. The people there are getting screwed in order to make way for profit to be made at their expense and the ultimate result will be a different city than before but a city none-the-less. So, when you say things like that, it sounds like an effort to justify the B.S. that is taking place there now.

Since the city is being rebuilt in a way to profit the new developers, that comment only sounds like a justification for the injustices being carried out without regard for the reality that the comment isn’t even relevant. The old people of New Orleans are getting screwed so that a way can be made to profit from the new people of New Orleans (eventually), who will be living in harm’s way in just the same way as before.

I wonder how you feel about Venice, Italy? Rising sea levels as well as subsidence are causing Venice to submerge. Should Europe and Italy simply decide those properties are worthless because Venice should never have built there in the first place and then let the Venetians end up as destitute homeless in Rome, Milan or any other European city they can get to?

Posted by: RGF at August 28, 2006 11:45 AM
Comment #177844


Okay. There is a special election. You are now president. What do you do? Let’s take it down to the practical level.

John Dubrau lived in New Orleans. He owned a home worth $150,000 (The land valued at $50,000; building $100,000), plus other assets valued at $50,000. He had a mortgage of $100,000 and personal debt of $40,000 for a net worth of $60,000. The storm destroyed his home. He never bothered to get flood insurance. He has nothing left of his house but the land it was sitting on. So his current net worth is minus $10,000.

What do you do for this guy?

What about his brother Jim who lived next door? Jim was a more frugal guy. He bought a smaller house, which he owned w/o a mortgage. It is worth $100,000. He also had possessions worth $50,000 and lost it all. He was careful and bought flood insurance, which covered his loss. His current net worth is $100,000. Jim “needs” the money less than John and John lost more. What is the fair thing to do?

If you do what I think you are thinking of doing, maybe all of us chumps who spend thousands on insurance and are careful with our purchases should change our silly ways.

Posted by: Jack at August 28, 2006 02:58 PM
Comment #177846


You’re changing the subject by means of a NON-RESPONSE again. Those two cases are not what I’m talking about, Jack. Not even close.

But, by illustrating the flood-insurance thing you bring up a point I feel is worth making. I cannot give specific names of those I am aware of for obvious reasons, but I can tell you this:
There are a FLOOD of cases involving disputes over what was and what was not covered under the policies for hurricaine-damage insurance. The insurers are supposed to be covering what was foreseeable as a result of the hurricaine. The insurers are also now arguing that separate flood insurance was required since the failure of the levees was a separate event. Does that sound reasonable to you, Jack? Should a policy for hurricaine damage covering a house in New Orleans, a town that is below sea level and on the coast, not cover damage caused by the levees failing? Do YOU think that was flooding was forseeable as a result of a hurricaine hitting New Orleans?

While these disputes drag out, the thefts continue.

Posted by: RGF at August 28, 2006 03:08 PM
Comment #177852

You knee-jerk defenders of this administration are disgusting, whether you do it in calm cadence of Jack explaining that it doesn’t matter who is in charge, the Feds just aren’t set up to help, or like Keith, who rants and spews misinformation under the belief that if I can show you have a fact wrong, then your whole argument is wrong (a junior-high debating technique that Karl Rove has made an art of). It is so obvious that Bush, Chertoff, et al. let Brownie handle it because it was not a terrorist attack, and then proceeded to turn a deaf ear to any evidence that it was a large-scale disaster until it was way too late. Brownie was an incompetent fronting for the unconcerned, and no, this isn’t the way all administrations have acted. To excuse the behavior is to prevent the situation from being fixed, and I hold those who defend the administrations performance accountable for any future preventable disasters these bozos allow to develop.

Posted by: Mental Wimp at August 28, 2006 03:19 PM
Comment #177853

Yes, including the disaster in Iraq.

Posted by: Mental Wimp at August 28, 2006 03:21 PM
Comment #177856


You really ought to go to New Orleans and see for yourself.

The conclusion you are jumping to is that the people there lacked foresight and didn’t buy the right insurance or do the right thing. The REALITY is that they were duped into thinking the insurance they bought was the right insurance. Many have a good argument to support that as well. What would YOU do for them, Jack? Lawsuits take time…time that is currently being used to rob them clean to the bone before they can do anything about it.

You jump to the conclusion that it is the victims who screwed up. I know directly that it is the insurers and FEMA and government beaurocracy that is the problem.

You have found an example to support what you want to support but you have not ascertained what the real problems are in New Orleans. Presumably, you cannot even comment on whether John Dubrau has a legitimate claim based on misrepresentation as per the policy he DID hold. Again, you jump to a conclusion, it seems, to support what you want to support. …Not reality.

Posted by: RGF at August 28, 2006 03:28 PM
Comment #177881


Okay - assume they both have flood insurance that covered everything they owned. They both get paid the amount of the policy. John has a net worth of $60,000 (just like before) and Jim has a net worth of $150,000 (just like before). Are we done here?

We (taxpayers) are going to end up paying off these policies anyway. Just do it. But that is just the tip of the problem.

If they live in the below sea level parts of town, neither can rebuild in the same place w/o a defacto Federal subsidy of hundreds of thousands of dollars (each). Would not a smarter policy be for the government (Fed, state, local) to buy those $50,000 lots and grow bald cypress? Some parts could be playing fields, but something that is relatively immune to inundation.

I would support a policy that buys the low lands at their fair market value pre Katrina. I would even support a policy that buys the property at the pre Katrina fair market value of the whole house.

But I bet that is not enough for you. I bet you are seeking an expansion of Federal power beyond this.

Posted by: Jack at August 28, 2006 05:00 PM
Comment #177886


No. Again you are jumping to conclusions based on the software you stuck in your head when you became a republican. What you are describing would be fine with me. That is not, however, what is happening. In fact, the same areas that are below sea level and prone to get flooded the next time New Orleans gets hit ( and that is only a matter of when, not if), are now being taken over by emmanent domain with plans to re-develop for money making re-gentrification if and when New Orleans comes back sufficiently.

Yes, of course groves of Bald Cyprus and playing fields make better sense than homes in areas that are below sea level. That is not even close to what is happening.

The problem is, when you throw such things out there in the face of what is going on in New Orleans right now, it sounds like justification for the government sponsored theft that is going on right now.

First let’s address the issue of those being screwed right now. Then, since most of them are in a position to be rebuilding from scratch anyway, we can determine WHERE the rebuilding should occur. But, to make the comment that New Orleans shouldn’t be in the place that it is in to begin with, while people are getting screwed out of the last vestiges of everything three or four generations of their families ever had, is to support the injustices that are taking place. You just gotta see the bigger picture, Jack.

Posted by: RGF at August 28, 2006 05:27 PM
Comment #177889

…you just can’t get there unless you go there, Jack.

Go to New Orleans.

I’m willing to bet, by your comments, that you have never been to New Orleans. A lot would come clearer for you if you had.

Posted by: RGF at August 28, 2006 05:37 PM
Comment #177915


Question (real not rhetorical) Is the Federal government exercising the right of eminent domain?

You are right that I have not recently been to New Orleans, but when I was there years ago, it made me nervous to see boats above where I was standing. I am against people being cheated, but I am also against putting them back under the water level. Much of New Orleans IS in the wrong place.

It would be very hard to arrive at a fair arrangment given that people must move away. Can we agree that people should not again move to the lowlands and that New Orleans will never again attain the population it had in 1960?

Another problem is that New Orleans and Louisiana are among the most corrupt and maybe THE most corrupt places in the U.S. It is legendary. No matter what happens, it is going to be a lot of dishonesty.

One reason why I am not enthusiastic about rebuilding the place as it was is because it was not a good model. We have a chance to do better, but it has to be smaller.

Posted by: Jack at August 28, 2006 06:37 PM
Comment #177925


No. Emmanent domain is excercised by State and local government, not the Feds. FEMA and others are merely becoming an obstacle to any justice or progress being made, not as egregiously as they were in the first couple of months after the storm when they were commandeering medical aid, food and evacuation efforts, but obstacles none-the-less.

I agree with you about the corruption in Louisiana. They produced HUEY LONG!
I have heard talk about corruption in other states, such as my own home state of Texas, but nothing in Texas even comes close to the culture of lanyap in Louisiana.

As it applies to the current situation, the Feds could stop it or even prevent it…instead they are allowing it to continue, even facilitating it in areas where it makes their job easier.

For instance, if all the FEMA trailers had made it down to New Orleans instead of getting parked in Hope Arkansas, there would be people living in areas that are being taken.
Instead, those people were forced to make their way to other cities to find their way, abandoning their family properties in Louisiana. There’s no way to show whether there was any wrong doing in preventing the FEMA trailers from reaching destination. I also know the very existence of FEMA trailers probably strikes you as too much hand-out. So be it. However, manipulating aid or non-aid in a way that creates injustice and out-right land theft is not acceptable.

Posted by: RGF at August 28, 2006 06:59 PM
Comment #178063


Your Points:

A) “Question (real not rhetorical) Is the Federal government exercising the right of eminent domain?”

B) “Much of New Orleans IS in the wrong place.
Can we agree that people should not again move to the lowlands and that New Orleans will never again attain the population it had in 1960?”

C) “Another problem is that New Orleans and Louisiana are among the most corrupt and maybe THE most corrupt places in the U.S. It is legendary. No matter what happens, it is going to be a lot of dishonesty.”

D) “One reason why I am not enthusiastic about rebuilding the place as it was is because it was not a good model.”

(Blame the victim, for being a victim)
E) “… maybe all of us chumps who spend thousands on insurance and are careful with our purchases should change our silly ways.”

Jack, you do not actually understand what is going on in New Orleans. Yes, eminent domain is being exercised to rob people of their homes and their property. And, at the same time no money is actually available to rebuild (anywhere). Those that choose to stay and rebuild are doing it on their own time, with their own money. And have fought off brokers that have pressured them to “just take the money and move away”. Also, any homes that show that they are still abandoned, will be claimed and be removed and the land turned over to the land robbers to rebuild, right there, more expensive homes for new owners. Same place. Same tentitive situation. Same government complicity, just bigger and better (for the wealthy, not the poor). Ever meet a time share salesman Jack? Well, the people of New Orleans have had to battle that, (the land grabbers), along with no insurance, no local or government aid, and only volenteer efforts from the “public” to rebuild their homes.
Any plans to rebuild that levy Jack? Dont think so! Life RGF says, there is just no relivent points in saying that the location is at fault. New Orleans is an American city. We are able as a country to give money to Iraq, Afganistan, Isreal, Mexico, and any other place in the world that need aid in the event of a “natural disaster”. Did we tell recent sunami victims that they shouldnt get aid because they were too close to the beach at the time? Earthquake victims around the world, we spend billions. But republicians are more than callous to New Orleans which is an AMERICAN CITY,,,,JACK! So, people in your book, only deserve government help, if they live in a “sensible” location the meets national safety standard of some type?
Oh God Jack, you dont really believe that bull pucky your spreading around do you? Thats like the pot calling the kettle “black”. Lets just look at a micro-cosum of the federal governments responce here. And, lets make this very very simple for you. Take only the two poorest parishes in New Orleans. Dont even look at the survivors that made it to the superdome and how the government of George Bush screwed them. Dont even look at that. Dont look at homeland scurity Jack and the absolute criminal behavior of that government agency that is still active today. No. Just look at the body count. That is all you have to do Jack. Just look at the body count and the actual “body bags”. The whole area of government corruption is so very large scale, that time prohibits us to look any farther than the body bags and the carcus removal.

Simple questiuon Jack. How many bodys were removed in body bags from parish 9 and parish 11 Jack? Tell me the answer to that one…and you have earned the right to talk about local corruption, Jack. Just tell me the body count. Because the contractor that was federally funded was under the government control, not the local control Jack. So….tell me the “body bag count”. When you understand that question, you will only start to get a grasp on the corruption of this administration. Just scratch the surface Jack, and see what is underneath. (Its not pretty).
Oh so this is the barometer of who “deserves” help in America, and who does not? If we believe that the people that are in need, are of “good moral character”, then its ok to help them? We as a people have no governmental responsibility to help people in Florida, because they are stupid enough to live in Hurricane Alley and there are only illegals there and old people there that should know better than to live in a beach town that has less than moral character, as exhibited during spring bread and the thong underware worn on the beach? And, screw San Francisco, for the next earth quake. Im sure that they wont fair well in your “Moral Authority Ideology” either.

I find it really odd and rather sick, that rep. can wax poetic in its response to “help” the poor people of Iraq to the tune of 2 billion or more per week, but pull out the bible thumping religious dictators when an American City needs something. Now, all of a sudden, its, ” well if there were decent people there, if they would just drag theirselves up by their boot straps like we do, if they were not such perverts, they wouldnt need our help”. That is why republicians are so exasperating, so heartless, so hopeless.

Jack, the main problem with your “insurance” narative is that it is faulty at the core. The problem isnt the people did not have the right insurance or no insurance, the main problem that Democrats object to this the way the insurance is being handled. Sure, if you live in a flood plain and do not have “flood” insurance you are not intitled to any claim from that damage, duh. However, that is way too simplistic and that is not the problem.
Just one story I know of, out of hundreds of thousands of stories:
Man, lives (did live) on the Miss. Gulf Coast. Had a 385K home close to the beach. Katrina came through. Almost utter damage. Say, 300K +. Then the water came. Did the rest of the damage, say 85K. Insurance came out. Money for settlement? Zero. Why? Because if your house is completely distroyed, by a hurricane, and after drop of water comes through that house? Then the insurance co considers that that house was damaged by “Flood”. (Not the hurricane). Insurance Co. responsibility…0, Mans responsibility 325K (to the morgage company).

So, here is a man, maybe a man like you? Who did everything right. Or so he thought. He bought a nice house, paid morgage, had hurricane ins (but not “flood insurance” and homeowners ins. never requiored “flood insurance”, so he has lost all he owns and is 325K in debt, to boot.

Now this man is pretty well off, extremely well off compaired to vistims in New Orleans. Because he can declair bankrupsy on the morgage, the morgage co suffers so that raises rates for you and me. The home owner suffers cause he is out his home and his dream with the clothes on his back to start over but he is ok because at least if he had the were-with-all to afford a 300K home in the first place, he can do it again.

The point is Jack that you seam to think some how that the problems created by Hurricane Katrina and the people that directly suffered from it are the only ones that suffered. That is not true. From the levys breaking in New Orleans, (and this was our only subject when we started this Jack)the direct fault of the Federal Government, the ramifications of that, will effect all Americans weather we accept that fact or not. The poor had to go somewhere. Since many have been bared from going back, that is a burdon on all American citys welfare and health care rolls.

And, when the only response by the Federal Government is to hire private no bid contractors to “clean up the mess” that would have cost the tax payer only 2 billion to prevent in the first dam place? And now the estimated fix will be well over 200 billion in the hands of private contractors who…in the past year…have proven their incompentance over and over and over again? Who is really being screwed here, Jack? Do you think that its only the poor people of New Orleans?


Posted by: PlayNice at August 29, 2006 10:44 AM
Comment #178080


Oooooo….that wasn’t very nice! Bravo!

Posted by: RGF at August 29, 2006 11:34 AM
Comment #178085

The abuse of eminent domain sounds like it might be a rip off. I opposed Kelo for this reason. However, you have to get off the Bush bashing on this one, since it is all being done locally and by Democratic officials.

It also depends on how much money they are being offered. Any deal is good or bad depending on the terms. If the guy’s land was worth $50,000 before the storm and he is being offered something like that, it is not an injustice. The cost of the building is a separate matter.

You are not understanding my point. I do not oppose disaster aid. But why spend the money to recreate an unsustainable situation? Ask yourself this question. If nobody was living there now and if a developer wanted to go in and develop this land, knowing what you do now, would you oppose or support the activity? We have the opportunity to make up for the mistake.

Do you believe in global warming? Do you think it is a good idea to protect wetlands?

You want to focus on the suffering. Yes there is and was. The question is what do you do NOW. It is fun for you to be so angry and to repeatedly use my name as though you are lecturing. I have been lectured to by people I respect and even there have learned to ignore the rhetorical flouishes. Go for it if you like. But once you get over it, you may look to the future and if you really think we should rebuild the below sea level parts of the town, maybe you want to live there. I would not.

We made a serious mistake when we build the levys to protect things we should not have built in the first place. It has cost us a great deal in both terms of human suffering, environment and economics. Let’s just be smarter about it. We do not need to repeat our mistakes of the past. We will make plenty of new ones.

Posted by: Jack at August 29, 2006 11:46 AM
Comment #178102


New Orleans IS. Granted, such as it is, it is not as much as it was, but New Orleans IS. That’s a fact.

We didn’t build it, the French did. We bought it. It is the parts of town that are most French that are the most below sea level and river level. There’s a part of the problem: Is the culture and history of New orleans worth saving? Maybe not. Ultimately, it will subside anyway. So will Venice, Italy. Such is Nature. It was NOT a mistake to build New Orleans where it was built when the priority was to build a port town that had sea access and access to a vast portion of the interior of the continent via the Mississippi. At that time, it would have been foolish to NOT build it. Venice, Italy was founded for safety from the waves of invaders pouring in to fill the vacuum left by the Roman Empire’s collapse. It would have been foolish to NOT build there at the time. The success of Venice and all its people DEPENDED on it.

In both cases the result is a modern population that faces very different kinds of problems arising out of those locations.

Should we BLAME them for the shifting of priorities that has taken place? Should they be screwed by the same government that found value in those locations when the location was first built/bought?

You bring up the wetlands thing and I respect that that is an issue close to your heart. The area around New Orleans is coastal and swampy and unstable. It WASN’T as low as it got because it has subsided since the time of its founding. At that time, it was not understood that the land there was so prone to subsidence. Now we know. It is now that we have the problem to face, not then. There is no going back in time. That is why the point about the site is moot, Jack. It just isn’t relevant or effective to bring that up when we are dealing with the problem in the here and now.

Truth is, any city within 50 miles of the coast is going to be subject to devastation from a direct hit by a class five hurricaine. That’s a fact. The fact that New Orleans was more vulnerable than most isn’t even relevant. It is what it is. You could argue that the entire state of Florida should be abandoned since it is environmentally sensitive wetland and is so prone to hurricaines. You’ll never sell that to anybody, but you could argue it.

As for the emmanenet domain blame ball being tossed around, yeah Ok, Nagin is a democrat. So? Do think Nagin has anything to do with this issue? Perhaps he could work to bring more attention to it and try to stop it, but his city is in Chaos and that has to be a Mayor’s first priority whether you like his party or not. Ultimately, it is irrelevent who is to blame for the thefts that are happening. They are happening. Those who are supposed to be helping New Orleans are hurting New Orleans. That’s where we are now and that’s what needs to be dealt with.

Posted by: RGF at August 29, 2006 12:26 PM
Comment #178130


Help me understand this. I understood that the original parts of the city were (are) above sea level and that the city’s expansion in the last 100 years have expanded into cypress swamps, which have since subsided to be even farther below sea level.

Beyond that, the city of New Orleans was in trouble before. Its school system was among the worst in the nation, crime was high & people were leaving the city.

Parts of the city are historical and worth saving. Much is not. We need to be concerned with people, not places. You cannot always live where you want. A New Orleans built on the higher ground and maybe with half its former population makes sense. I listened to the Dianne Rehm show today and they were talking to former residents. Many do not want to come back. Good.

I grew up in the rust belt. Our industries were contracting and/or moving to the sun belt. Somebody had a good idea to make the unemployment benefits portable, so that people could look for jobs elsewhere and move away. It worked. My hometown shrank by about 1/3 and now it is the right size for the industries it has.

Nobody should feel any obligation to rebuild New Orleans as it was. In fact, the obligation is NOT to do that.

We can talk about the details of policy, but niether of us makes it. What I think SHOULD happen is that owners are compensated fairly, but not encouraged to come back in most cases. People can still live in some of the low areas, but the density will be much lower. New Orleans will never again be a large city. Most of it will be like Ghent or Brugge, cities that WERE big and important, but now are mostly pleasant places to live and visit.

Posted by: Jack at August 29, 2006 03:16 PM
Comment #178151


You are finally starting to sound more reasonable about this issue. That’s good.

New Orleans will never be the same. That is already true regardless of anything else that happens.

You have misunderstood how New Orleans got the way it is/was when Katrina hit. It was built by the French on Mississippi delta land that has slowly subsided over the many years of the city’s existence. The older areas are the lower areas. If you stand on the banks of the river on the wall by Jackson Square, you can look at the level of the river and then behind you to the level of the French Quarter. The Jax brewery in Jackson Square is one story lower than the level of the river. Most of the French quarter is that way. It wasn’t built like that, but is that way now. Delta mud gives and buildings and streets are heavy. That’s how it got that way. Nobody anticipated it 200 years ago.

New Orleans is not only the cradle of Jazz music, but also the greatest restaurant town in North America and possibly the world. It gave rise to Chef Prud’homme and Commander’s Palace as well as an entire cuisine that is part French flair and part local zing. The street corner buscaring of budding jazz musicians in Jackson Square that once included stars like Louis Armstrong, places like Preservation Hall and The French Quarter all sit in areas that ‘shouldn’t be there.’

It’s true, that New Orleans is in a bad place. There’s no denying that. What are you gonna do? There is no place like New Orleans, Jack. You can’t depopulate the areas that are below water level without losing the very essence of the city. So when you say things like: “some places are historical and should be saved…” Just know what you talking about.

AS for the school situation, well, that’s another whole ball of wax isn’t it? This country cannot survive as the representative democracy that it was intended to be without a median level of education and functional literacy among its populace. We have never done a very good job of funding education in ANY part of this country, but the poorer areas are the worst by far. In Texas, public education is funded by property taxes. That means the richer areas have more money to fund and improve their schools than the poorer areas. That doesn’t work. If you want the lower income families to improve themselves and do better and be less of a burden on health care costs and the like, you have to actually VALUE their education too.

Your boy, Bush, faked his education standing in Texas before he ran for Pres in 2000. In Texas, we have a minimum level competancy test that was called: TAAS (Texas Assessment of Academic Skills) and now is called TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills). The purpose of this test is to make sure all public school students reach median competancy and literacy before they graduate from high school. The test serves the purpose of diagnosing students and schools who have problems so those problems can be addressed. However, before Bush ran, entire districts were closed down in some poorer areas of the state and the test scores were then tabulated and the statistics made. Then the districts were re-opened. The result was that the worst areas did not get tabulated at all and those schools and students got no attention or help whatsoever…but Bush’s education ‘acheivements’ looked good on paper. You may recall that education was one of his points of selling himself to the rest of the country.

Bottom line, we cannot ignore places like the poorer neighborhoods of either Texas cities or of New Orleans and then get all flabbergasted at poorly performing schools and low literacy rates. It is the height of hypocrisy and it is self-defeating. When these new modern republicans figure out that spending a little more money to improve educational standards in poorere areas will help save a lot of money on health care, welfare and the in the long run, then we’ll be one step closer to being on the right road in this country.

Posted by: RGF at August 29, 2006 04:40 PM
Comment #178197


We did much of what you wanted in the welfare reform ten years ago. Clinton was with us, but MOST democrats and virtually ALL liberals were against. Welfare reform did not always mean less money spent. As the reforms worked in many places, money was spent up front.

New Orleans has a chance to become an enterprise zone with charter schools. The Dem establishment is fighting this. They are accustomed to corruption and that is the way they like it. If you don’t solve problems, you can keep on claiming you need the money.

I don’t know if these things will work, but it is hard to see how whatever happens will be worse than what was.

So we can do lots of things with a smaller and better run New Orleans. The city was built for purposes that are now OBE’d. We protected this investment with environment destroying and very expensive public works. We do not have a blank slate, but this is about a close as we will come.

Posted by: Jack at August 29, 2006 08:56 PM
Comment #178275


See, there is no way you are ever going to side track Jack with the truth. No amount of reality, facts, or chipping away at his position with little rocks of logic is going to sway Jack from his appointed position.

Jack is a republician. Which means that being a committed member of that club it is essential for him to maintain his position by swallowing all the republician line party talking points. It is very similar to being brain washed by a cult. What Jack needs is to be….de-programed.

I have heard of a new book that is out. It is called, “Confessions of a former, right-wing ditto head”. I heard the author talk the other day. He said that two major reasons that you will never sway a republician is their belief in:

1) Fair trade is its own morality

2) Personal responsibility

Once I understood these two mind sets, it took me a long way into understanding brain disease like Jack is suffering from. If you really accept in these too principles, then it is going to truly effect everything you see, everything you know (to be true).

He can not see your points, and he can not see mine. Why? Because all that he does see, is encompassed within these two truths, for him.

Free Trade, (i.e. companies, business, corporations, government, the “powers that be”, i.e. “big brother”), is its own morality authority. Or, if its a power greater than you, then it is right.

Enron wasnt wrong, it is the stupid people that worked there, they should have known better, they should have deversified their stock portfolio, etc. You got cheated over a few electric bills that were a little too high? Well, who cares, you shouldnt be so dependent on power anyway, you need to make a life style change.

High price of gas? Not the oil companies fault. No. Has to be some other reason. You need to change your life style. You need to conserve more. Oil companies screwing consumers to make unbelievable profits? Unheard of! It is free trade, it can not be wrong, I am sure that it regulates itself, keeps itself “honest”, or that if they were doing something wrong, that the government would step in to fix it, (if there were a republician in charge, but screw you of course, if a democrate is in office-you voted for the jerk).

Every disaster around the world, aid comes from the U.S., even any other disaster within the boarders of this country, aid - by the United States - but not New Orleans. No. That is not
“ok”. Why? Because big busness, or government, or such, is always right. Always has the moral high ground. And, because it is always the “individuals” fault. “They dont morally deserve - help”. “They should not have built there, in the first place”, They shouldnt expect the governemnt to baby-sit them, they should be responsible for their own needs”.

Well, enough about Jack, and others like him. They are a lost cause. But, you seam like a person capable of independant thought. And, you seam to be a person that actually sees what is happening in New Orleans. For that reason, maybe youd be interested in my question about the body bags.

Its not really suprising if you actually understand this administration. See, similar logic is being used in Iraq, to keep the body count down. See most of our military body count is low. Why? Because those that are really injured over there are air lifted to Germany. And, If a death occurs in Germany, then it is not counted as a death of the Iraq war. (They did not die, in Iraq, so the government does not count them). Just a little tricky way, that our government keeps the “war” mortality rates down.

New Orleans is no exception. It is like everything else done by this administration. Private Contractors. Its like the mob using hit men to do their dirty work, they dont get their own hands dirty. So you have to follow the body count, if you want to see the real horrors of this administration. Who was the private contractor used by the government to go in to New Orleans and remove the body bags? Of course they didnt do a very good job, hey, they are like everything else in this government, they were not supposed to, thats not the point. (Not doing a very good job in that there are still bodys in structures to this day, and it is a year later).

The real point here is that bodys found or reported before they came are counted, bodys found today one year later are added to the toll, and RGF the toll is pretty low isnt it? only what 600, 1200 maybe 1500 people? But, we heard that there was 6,000 missing, didnt we, at first? Oh, sorry, I guess that this is because so many people dispersed to other parts of the country, huh? Well, then….whats the body count? How many body bags were “removed” from New Orleans? Where did they go? Who was in charge?

Several months ago I knew the name of the private contractor, but I have long lost it. These things do not mean much to me, because I do not follow big business, private contractors, or any of the Bush “in” group. But, if you dig, I am sure that YOU can find it if you want. And, when you find them, you will also find out something very interesting if the rumors are true. This is the same company that Bush Co. has used before, when body counts needed to be … shall we say … to remain a security risk?

But, I can not remember now, how this company was used before by Bush Co., something about prision riots, or other disasters, say in Florida? But, you do the research, because I do not remember now just who it is. But, who is not as important as what. See, someone else was wise to this “cover up” company, knew its history and how it operates. Someone who is a republician, a republician “higher-up” not only knew about this company and its dubious history, but actually objected to its use in the New Orleans, Katrina, cover-up. That guy (according to rumers), hasnt said much lately, and not likely to say much of anything about anything, ever again.

See that person, that objected to using that company to remove bodys from New Oleans? That person was shot in the face…by Chaney.

If you want to know about this Administration?
Follow the money.
Follow the bodys.

Posted by: PlayNice at August 30, 2006 10:39 AM
Comment #178278


Pres. Bush is right, and you are wrong. New Orleans will be built up again, and right where it sits. The failure of the levys was not a “natural desaster”, and it was not just the lack of forsight by a bumbling administration. It was known before hand. Help or prevention was never in the game plan. Katrina was a business oppurtunity.

Do not feel sorry for the poor, mostly black people in New Orleans Jack. They did have genocide inacted against them. But, it was nothing against them personally. It was just an oppurtunity to put some of Bushs friends to work, just like the war in Iraq. New Orleans will be rebuilt, just like the infrastructure of Iraq will be rebuilt. The poor will remain poor, and the contractors will make a bundle.

Its a whole new world Jack….
Better learn to speak Chineese!

Or, at least be honest with your grandchildren, Jack. When they want to know how we really sold our national wealth to China, (while we gutted our own treasury). Please, at least be honest with them about how they are paying off our debt.

Yes, you and your party, are leaving quite a legacy…for the future.

Posted by: PlayNice at August 30, 2006 11:02 AM
Comment #178279


You are changing the subject again and being non-responsive as well. What is it with you guys?

PlayNice is much angrier and much more spirited as a result, but I am seeing how and why PlayNice got that way and I certainly cannot blame PlayNice for it at all.

How did we get to welfare reform? We haven’t discussed that in many blogs! Waht are you trying to do?

Enterprise zone, Jack? What the heck are you talking about? You believe New Orleans is in the wrong place due to it being a hurricaine prone low lying area, so you want to displace people living there but replace them with commercial enterprise instead? That’s preposterous, Jack. Why should it be any less a risky area for an “enterprise zone?” Sounds like the basic bottom line is you are opposed to the people fron New Orleans and are willing to replace them with ANYTHING! The environmental argument is just a sham from you and not a real concern in itself.

AS for the Dems fighting you ( “us” ) on welfare reform…you have got to be kidding! That is simply not true. You are spewing more pablum from the software you chose to put in your head when you became a republican. There is always a concern that the republicans are going to make cuts that save money in the short run but are immensely more expensive in the long term. Reagan did that when he turned out all the mental institutions in the early 80’s. The number of homeless people on American streets rose exponentially overnight, but some modicum of money was saved in the short term by not spending on the formerly federally funded mental institutions!

…the crime rate shot up overnight, too.

It was the dems and Clinton who turned the welfare back to work program into what it became. The republican version was just a blind cut without retraining or re-education or job finding help.

The difference is that Dems give a shit about the country and the republicans only give a shit about the money.

Posted by: RGF at August 30, 2006 11:12 AM
Comment #178306


Who works in “Enterprize zones?”

How many people work in just one casino and how much do they get paid?

Thus, how far do you think the typical casino employee is going to be willing to commute from in order to get to work and where do you suppose such people should live?

What are the draws thet get people to go to places where there are casinos? Just the casinos, or does it follow that even casinos rely on the draw the the surrounding area, such as New Orleans, has?

I already know the answers to these questions, Jack. You do not. Find these answers and ask some new questions about New Orleans.

Posted by: RGF at August 30, 2006 01:54 PM
Comment #178342


I mentioned enterprise zones, welfare etc in response to your comment that we cannot just ignore the poor. I was advocating something new. Clearly, what we were doing for the last 30 years did not work for the poor of New Orleans. Welfare reform has worked for many of the nations poor and I thought it might be a good idea to try things like charter schools and enterprise zones in New Orleans. After all, we had nothing to lose considering the current state of affairs and how bad it had been even before the storm.

I wrote a post re welfare reform. MOST Democrats opposed it. Liberals called it the worst thing Clinton had done and predicted dire consequences. I linked to some sources and need not repeat it here. Welfare reform was not a Democratic goal. Clinton went against his party and we can thank him for it.

I also pointed out the New Orleans would be smaller and less densely settled. I never advocated rebuilding NOTHING in New Orleans. I just think we need to be smart about it. Much of the area should revert to wetland, not all of it. A functioning sustainable environment need not exclude humans.

Yesterday I watched some History Channel programs re New Orleans. They interviewed people who talked about when the levies were built and how they could resist category 3 storms and how (and why) they broke. One guy said that there are two kinds of levies: those that have been breached and those that will be breached. The 9th ward floods anytime there is a problem. Maybe the lesson is not to have things there that should not be inudated.

They also pointed out (on the news too) that the French Quarter IS above sea level and was not damaged to that great of an extent. It is mostly restored. That part is built in an acceptable place.

As I believe I stated, building most of New Orleans was a mistake. People of the time did not understand the complexities of soil and water. If New Orleans were undamaged, I would not advocate taking it down. However, since so much of it is destroyed, why repeat the mistakes of the past. We have a second chance, a chance to do it better.

I also read in today’s paper that Orleans Parish is way behind most other areas hit because local authorities refuse to come up with a plan to rebuild. Money cannot be spent w/o it.

Finally, I saw the Governor of Miss on TV. He pointed to the success in his state and mentioned that Texas, Miss, Florida, Louisiana and Alabama all suffered from Hurricanes last year. They all have the same Federal government, yet everyplace except New Orleans is rebuilding fairly well. Maybe that tells us something.

What I take away from all of this is that the situation is very complex. There was a failure of government on all levels, but it was a really big storm so that is understandable. We have learned some things from this disaster, but when a hurricane hits New Orleans again, we will be in the same boat IF we have rebuilt the city as it was.

When Galveston was destroyed by a hurricane, they rebuilt the city, but much smaller and moved the port facilities inland.

Posted by: Jack at August 30, 2006 05:07 PM
Comment #178371


I don’t know what the percentages are, but much of the French quarter is quite apparently under sea level…or at least river level. Some of it is higher than those parts but I don’t what percentage of the total it is.

I recently read a news story that just over 200,000 residents have yet to move back to New Orleans. Perhaps they have decided not to. I just hope they all get what is right as far as insurence claims and/or value for their property.

New Orleans is built on swampy delta land. There will always be an issue with water and what to do with it there. They can’t even bury their dead below ground. New Orleans is a major metropolitan area that was gutted by the storm. It more likey the storm’s severity and the loss of infrastructure that accounts for any lack of planning or action, but not necessarily. I hope that’s all it is. I just hope they get it together one way or another and get things back on track.

When Galveston was nearly wiped clean, they had built big fancy houses, schools and even churches right on beach level and coser to the water than they do now. They also had no sea wall. It took a massive effort by trucks hauling sand and dirt to literally rebuild the Island. Then they constructed a sea wall to protect them from severe storm surge. Galveston is bigger now than it was then, so size isn’t the issue, really, just planning. Houston always made better sense as a port anyway since it is closer to the industries it serves: first lumber and agricultural produce and cattle…now oil goin gin to the refineries and gasoline refineries and petrolium based plastics and chemicals. Galeveston was once the largest vity in Texas. Houston outgrew it but that was destined to happen by economic forces already at work even before Galveston got hit.

New Orleans, rightly or wrongly, is being rebuilt. It is being stumbling toward that goal slowly and it fits and starts, but it rebulding jsut the same. It will continue to recover and grow until the next one comes along and knocks it back again. That is the way of things. Perhaps the next storm will finish the job Katrina started. Perhaps not. Katrina came pretty close to completely erasing New Orleans. Maybe the next storm will accomplish that. I hope not. But in the meantime, we have a human element to consider here. All our industry and enterprise consists of people who work to make those thngs happen. If any part of New Orleans is to exist at all, then it will ultimately grow and strive until nature knocks it back down again. When that happens, we absolutely MUST not let the calousness and chaos of how we dealt with Katrina repeat itself in the future. We must learn from our mistakes or we are doomed to repeat them.

Posted by: RGF at August 30, 2006 06:40 PM
Comment #178494

Katrina - A Rememberance - Part I

“George Bush Hates Black People”

It has been almost a year since that infamous statement on National T.V. and heard around the world. I think very few people actually understood that statement, I know I didnt. During the week long marithon after Katrina to raise money by the Red Cross to help the victims of Katrina in New orleans, the above statement seamed out of place, and strangely antagonistic in the midst of a public arena to raise money for those still trapped in the horrors of that doomed arena in New Orleans parish.

Not being black myself, I sure though that it was in bad taste, under the circumstances, (to say the least). But, just typical for a black man to make a racial issue out of this national tradgedy. And, knowing the horror of what he was going through, and seeing on the streets of New Orleans, I did cut him some slack and I tried not to judge too harshley.

After day 5 I was litterly screaming at the T.V. at George Bush. Why wouldnt he send help down there. The first National Tradgedy in American history and no government response. Why? Why did FEMA turn around air boats from Florida? Why did one old man have to be rescued by a woman that took her boat all the way to New Orleans from Texas to save people because the government was sitting on their hands, doing nothing.

One man in the Police Department who was in charge of riot control and the head of the police in case of emergency response, he sat quietly in his car, put the barrol of his gun in his mouth (after day 3), and slowly pulled the trigger. One person jumped from the top of the doom to his death after being trapped with no food, water, or relief from the stench from backed up toilets. An old woman sat in the corner in her wheelchair dead, while another woman held her dyig husband in her arms in front of the doom. (you could hear her crying and screaming for blocks).

And, still no help came.

Government helicopters rescued people after 5 days and deposited their cargo under a freeway local freeway. Hundreds sat there for 3-5 days with no food and no water. Buses that were supposed to take them somewhere, anywhere, were stalled 1 mile away, sitting, waiting. What were they waiting for? Orders to go, do something. Just like the army base that was called and requested to “help”. The army seamed to be on the same page as the buses, they were waiting too for orders, for someone to tell them what to do, for someone to give them the means to do it with. Where were the orders? FEMA, actually held aid back. 3 Trucks from Tenn. never did get clearance to get aid to New Orleans. Their cargo sat in a warehouse parking lot until the parishable contents were junked months later.

The buses sat, the army sat, outside aid,,,sat. But, “Your doing a heck of a Job Brownie”!

And, after all that, when the buses finally did run, (some 7-10 days later) babys and children were ripped out of their mothers and fathers arms. Families were seperated and many people were not even told of their final destination so that they could find their family members later, if ever.

Down at the docks where emergency gas could be rashioned out for emergencys, this area was blocked by the army. No one was allowed to get gas to run busses, or police cars, or anything for emergency aid or support. Over on the bridge leading out of town, one woman with her 6 year old child, had made it this far across the bridge and over to the other side. She was met by an armed guard with a machine gun who would not let her pass into safety, but made her turn around and go back into the city. The city were people were rescued only to dye under a freeway bridge or to linger in an over-crowded Doom with open sewers, no food, water, or relief from the relenting heat.

Babys died from lack of food. The old, after days of suffering, finally lost hope and died from heart attacks or lack of their medications, from hunger or lack of water, or just from a broken heart. Many discribed the event as:

“The end of the world”, and “HELL, on earth”.


New Orleans - The Reality - Part II

And still, any thinking person would find it hard to believe, that all that, would seam even more horrific one year later, than when it first happened at the time. Surely a year would bring about healing. We could see the mistakes made and come up with a humane way to avoid such tradgety in the future. Surely a year to reflect, could do that much? And, plans for restoration would be in full swing. Surely the people of New Orleans, that were actually murdered in their homes and on the streets of New Orleans, the survivors, could expect, should expect…. that much.

One year later only 1/3 of the garbage has been removed. Bodys still remain in their houses with grotesque markings on the front of their houses to indicate their location. Large sections are bull dozed under, and scar the landscape for what seams like miles. The infrastructure of some areas may take years, decades at this rate to ever put back. Some have no sewer, most have no water and almost 3/4ths of the population in some areas, still have no electricity.

Reconstruction? Very little has been done. The bull dozers came 11 months ago, and still nothing has been done. A man lives in a tent blocks away, works his job during the day and is rebuilding his home, board by board when time permits, with volunteers as his only support, with scraps of wood donated or scavanged his only supplies.

A family who has taken care of an elderly mother in their home without fresh water piped in and no electric for some 7 months, finally got a trailer from FEMA delivered last March. When a reporter asked why they just didnt live in the nice trailer behind their property. The couple explain to the reporter that they can not stay in the trailer. As bad as thir house is damaged, they are one of the few houses on the block with lights and water back on in their home. “And, the trailer?”, askes the reporter. “FEMA has not released the paperwork to have it hooked up”, they say.

A man 400 miles from his New Orleans home, walks 1 mile to the store to buy groceries. He leaves his government trailer that sits in an abandoned air field to make the trip on foot, because like thousands of other Americans he has lost everything, even some precious loved ones, to Katrina. He is one of 20 families sheltered by the trailers that sit like skelatons in the wind, amoung thousands of vacant trailers, provided by the Federal Government. He is told that they had to be stored there because it was still to dangerous in a “flood area”. He wonders as he walks, how he is ever going to return to his home, to rebuild, to put back the pieces of his life. Little does he know as he walks down the long row of empty trailers, almost all of them empty, that his government is spending a half million dollars a month in rent, just on the land to house all those vacant trailer.

And, as you look around New Orleans, you see that there are complete neighborhoods that look the same as they did one year ago, after the bull dozers left. Still other homes stand like dry bones in the wind, or rotting corpses, act as a reminder of how an American City was distroyed. It makes you wonder why.

Why is it that when tradgety strikes in other parts of the world, America is always the first to respond? Just a few months after Katrina an earthquake hit in the Mid-East and we were there in less than 48 hours with supplies, food, medicine and rescue crews from the military and from the private sector. Yet New Orleans? It lays waste. In New Orleans, help was actually either turned away, or blocked all together. Is this the America of my childhood? Is this the same America who in the 1980s when an earthquake hit in Mexico, or in the case of the recent Sunami that hit around the world, sent hundreds of billions of dollars in aid, men, women, medicine, and supplies and stayed months to assist those effected? Is this the same American that I grew up with, along with “Leave it to Beaver”, “Father knows best”, and “My 3 sons”?

As an American I would love to believe that the failure to respond to Katrina by the U.S. Government was just because it was an unforseen act of nature that this Administration was ill equipt to handle. Just another bungled attempt, but with good intentions. After all, Bush said, “Who could have know that the levys would break? No one could have known that”. Of course, one can not expect the President of the United States to be a mind reader”. And, when he said, “New Orleans will return, bigger and better than ever”. He was surely telling the truth and giving hope to the people there, wasnt he? And, recently when he said, “200 billion has been allocated to rebuild New Oleans”, that was a guarentee that money was on its way to the area to help people get back on their feet, wasnt it?

See, I am an American. I want to believe in my country. I want to believe in my President. He is the “Commander in Chief”, with the power, the will, and the heart to protect and to serve his people. Isnt he?


To be continued….

Posted by: PlayNice at August 31, 2006 11:14 AM
Comment #178622


You believe strongly in a living God. That is the Federal government. Your problem is that you believe Bush is a false prophet, but you still believe in the omnipotence of the Feds and the complete control of one man. So every bit of suffering can be laid at his feet.

Do you believe Bush SHOULD have to power to dictate details to local and state authorities. SHOULD Bush have the final word about when the trash is picked up at your house? Should Federal troops rush in and take the place of state and local authorities? Katrina was a major disaster. It was preceeded by FUBAR on the part of local and state officials. Bush COULD have seized power, but I doubt it would have got him far. After the storm, the Feds participated in FUBAR, but you can see by the vastly different outcomes in different local jurisdictions that it was not only a Federal response that mattered.

I know you hate Bush. But ask yourself, do you WANT to increase his power to the extent that he could make the micromanagement decisions you are complaining about?

Posted by: Jack at August 31, 2006 07:23 PM
Comment #178682

I havent finished yet, just be patient

Posted by: PlayNice at August 31, 2006 11:22 PM
Comment #178687


You can list all the attrocities you like. It is like a lawyer laying out the suffering and the horrible nature of some event. It enflames the jury, but it should not make a difference to their judgement of blame.

Lots of really bad things happened. But to blame Bush for all of it makes no sense. We have not granted our president the kinds of power it would take for him to do the things you say he should have done or failed to do.

This disaster was a long time in the making. As I wrote more than once, I have been reading about this for more than 40 years. Lots of decisions went into creating this. The levies were built as an expedient. They created trouble. They were built to withstand Cat 3 Hurricanes. People build houses in low lands. Crime and corruption was rampant. All these things happened years before.

At the time of the storm, the local authorities failed in their duty. You advocate a Federal coup. That is what it would have taken. The Feds cannot come into a state w/o the specific request of the governor. Evacuations should have been carried out by the local authorities.

The Feds certainly did their part in screwing up, but their actions were not the proximate cause of most of the trouble.

Posted by: Jack at September 1, 2006 12:49 AM
Comment #178739

New Orleans - Ground Zero & And Beyond - Part III

2003: Federal funding to continue work on the levy including the 9th and the 11th ward stopped. The Army Corp. of Engeneers continued to work with supplies that were on hand for another 10-12 months. When work finally did stop in 2004, it was the first time in 37 years that work stopped in New Orleans on the levy project, that protected the poorest neighborhoods on the Gulf Coast.

2004: With work stopped on the levys and with FEMA defunded and joined to “Homeland Security”, a national program was instigated to train citizens on personal emergency response techniques. This basic program was called CERTS.
I took this emergency response training. I did not know at the time that this was the only resource for emergency response, I believed that it would naturally be in conjunction to FEMA, and not a substitute for FEMA. Some 200 thousand people across the United States volunteered to take this course sponcered by FEMA.

2004: Reports of Global warming were being known world wide. President Bush fired the leaders in agencies that could not goose step to his position that “Global Warming is a myth”. National agencies involved in global warming, like OCEA + the EPA, retooled their PR to comply to Bushs public policy that global warming was not responsible for the earths weather patterns. And, the indiscriminate burning of foscil fuels, and our dependance upon oil was protected.

2004: National Emergency Response Agencies under the directives of the White House preformed an exercise to similate a class 5 Hurricane in the area of the Gulf Cost, with specific attention to LA. The exercise was called “Hurricane Pam”. The results of this test was to determine what damage New Orleans and specifically a levy breach would be, in the event of a class 3, or above Hurricane. The results of the exercise was abismal. The prognosis: complete and utter distruction. Team response, preparidness, failed misserably. Not only did people fail to survive such an exercise, but structure anylisis showed that intra-structures of some neighborhoods would not survive either. Corrections were never make. Programs were never instrumented to curb the losses.

2005: The week before Hurricane Katrina The White House was advised by the National Weather Agency that a class 4 Hurricane was at sea and headed for the Gulf Coast and was due to hit Mississippe and LA. within the next 5 days. 3 days before Katrina the Govenor of LA. sent a message to the White House asking for help. The day before Katrina, the Mayor of New Orleans went on National Television, for the second time, to order an emergency evacuation of the city. It was later determined that also on this day, the “War Room” of the White house prepared the President on the weather situation, and the pending damages that was expected to follow.

Day One & Day Two:
Those that could leave LA did. Those that could not leave, if the individual situation permited, went to the Dome, or were evac d to the Dome for safety, as the Mayor suggested. Some of the people had already been there for up to 2 days when Katrina hit. The empact of Katrina was monsterous. A large amount of structural damage was the result, as was predicted. However, there was almost zero loss of life.

The U.S. Air Force did a fly-by over the Gulf to assess the damage with special attention to the off shore oil rigs in International Waters. The oil rigs placed in “International Waters”, outside the state of LA, which has caused the errosion of the wetlands that protected the levys of New Orleans, which produces 20% of the oil used in the United States, was determined to be damaged but repairable. The Air Force reported their findings to the White House War Room. (Tape of their findings, and the conversation with the President of the United States, was later released to the public). The President was especially interested in the symantics of their findings (rather than the actual findings). Great care was used in establishing that the leveys were NOT in fact, BREECHED; but, that the leveys were “topped” or (over-topped). This placed the responsibility for this disaster, squarely upon the sholders of New Orleans & the State of LA., with the focus away from the Army Core of Engineers and the White House. This also set up a positive course of action for the White House. It is called,
“Plausible Deniability”. FEMA was put on hold. And, neither the Govenor nor the Mayor of New Orleans were advised of the levy breech.

Day Three & Day Four:
The situation in the Dome deterrated, with no food, water or needed medicine. The heat rose, and the toilets started to back up. The over-whealmed police force started to fragment. Police officers who started to see that promised help would not be provided, started to loot local stores. Many citizens started to loot property, but others broke into stores to get food and water for themselves and others. Many local stores posted volunteers to hand out cases of food and water to anyone who wanted it. Volunteers painted “Aid Car” - “Do not shoot”, on their windshield so that they could get supplies to bring to the Dome or people trapped in buildings, afraid to go out into the streets. National Reporters started to flood to the area to report the situation. Some when seeing the events first hand, broke down and cryed. Public ourcry forced the Mayor to again contact the Federal Government for help. But, by then, the reports of “looting” were so over-exagerated, that the Governemnt response was not to send “aid”, but to send the “Military” to “bring order to the area”. Now, New Orleans was not only drowning and starving, but Military finally got its orders to “help” in the situation, and they were posted at bridges and roads to make sure that no one could leave the area. New Orleans was now officially “cap-ed”, and was left to die. FEMA refused to go into the area which was now under Government seige.

Day Five & Day Six:
The White House response was to go on Television and ask people to give to the Red Cross. A PR campaign was inacted by Clinton and ex-President Bush to ask the public to “help New Orleans, and give to the Red Cross”. (Where was FEMA, where was the Government?).
The near by Army base who had been asked many times in the past few days, by local agencys and groups including the police department and emergency services, for “help”, were now guarding the bridges and hyways out of New Orleans. They secured the streets and prohibited movement of people and supplies. People trapped in the Dome were contained by the Military with guns to prevent “rioting”. Some National Reporters who were their to record events, were threatened. Military guards were posted at the port of New Orleans to prohibit supply lines for gas that was desperately needed for evacuation busses and for the police department to maintain their emergency efforts. School busses sat in an empty field with no gas, until the field was filled, and the busses were filled with water. The police department was turned away at gun point.
FEMA - One of the most important things in emergency response is communications. This is part of FEMA training, CERTS training and any coordinating efforts used in emergency response. One of the first acts inacted by FEMA when it hit the ground in New Orleans was to cut the Emergency Communications System. The history of 9/11 taught us just how important emergency communications and coordination is, in such an event. The lack of a national emergency communications system has been well known since 9/11, however no efforts to inact a system has ever been funded. And in the case at hand, New Orleans, the system that was in place was now dissengaged. From now, and up until the next few months all emergency aid would go thru FEMA. FEMA was now “corporatized” through its merge with “Home-Land Security”. It had been underfunded, and few were trained to actually respond in the event of a catastrophic event. The 200 thousand trained in the CERTS program by FEMA, now started to call in to give assistance. They were all turned away, summarily. Assistance offered by others throughout the United States, civilians, businesses, even charitable organizations, including aid offered by foreign countries, were now systematically turned away, by FEMA. Trucks with supplys sat in parking lots waiting for the “paperwork” to be “approved” so that they could deliver their aid, sat in parking lots for weeks, some for months. Some countries sent monies to help in the disaster relief. These moneys and supplies and volunteer help all went through FEMA. A lot has gone in, but very little of substance has come out.

While FEMA is draging its feet in New Orleans and while FEMA and the U.S. Military has now gotten New Orleans successfully cut off from the outside world, 20 volunteers from Canada have successfully boarded a private chartered plane, bound for St Banards Parish LA. They hit the ground running. St Banards Parish was litterally distroyed. A single volunteer was acting as police chief and emergency response coordinator. (I think he is a janitor, but not sure). Tears filled his eyes as outside help arrived. This was a full 4 days before FEMA got there, (after FEMA and the Military had sucessfully “secured” New Orleans).


Posted by: PlayNice at September 1, 2006 10:48 AM
Comment #178902


Katrina - The Death of a City
- Or, The Death of a Nation?

As we look back to 2005 just one short year ago, we try to search for changes, some sign of hope. The promised changes made to New Orleans that things would “get better”, that “New Orleans will come back”, that “New Orleans would be bigger and better than it ever was”? We do see small changes in the heart of the city, where men and women are trying to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives. They fight silently to “rebuild” on their own. Their struggle is looked upon with sadness, as we all know what they have lost. And, we know that their only support is, and has been, from the charity of other Americans, like themselves. So, what of the empty promises, the great swagger of a “bigger and better, New Orleans”?

A man stands on the bed of a flat bed truck. He speaks to a crowd with tears in his eyes and with anger in his voice.

” Listen up! They are lying to you! The President is lying to you! The rich fat jackals that are drowning you, will do it again, and again, and again. They lead you into imperialist wars for profit, they take away your schools and your hope and when you complain, they blame Blacks or Jews or the “Immigrants”. Then they drown your kids. They crush your hopes. When will you learn about their lies? The rich live on high ground with schools for their children. We live by the sweet of our brow, and life takes our blood and tears, and “they” drown our babies!”

I think some of the crowd understood what he was saying. Others just though that his out-cry was from the grief of loosing his family from the flood. But, all that heard felt sympathy for the man, and a little anger at the events that they had faced, and hope, yet dread at the restoration at hand.

The year was 1927. Calvin Coolidge was President and his Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover had just come to town for a photo op with the local and National press. It was one year after the great destruction of New Orleans by the Mississippi River. Hoover gave a speech that promised a “great wall of protection” for the people of New Orleans. A great promise, a big promise and a dream, that this would never ever happen to New Orleans, again. The year was 1927, and the man on the back of the flat bed truck seamed to know and understand, what the future had in store for the people of New Orleans.

In 1928 Huey “Kingfish” Long was elected Governor of LA. Where the rich could afford school books for their children, the poor children had no money for books. The “Kingfish” ordered a special tax on Big Oil. But, the oil companies in the Delta refused to honor the tax for school books for the poor, so the Governor ordered the National Guard to seize the oil rigs, in the Louisiana Delta. It was Huey Long who established the principle that a government of the people, must protect the people, school them, build the infrastructure, regulate industry and share the nation’s wealth. That meant facing down “the concentrations of monopoly power” of the corporate aristocracy, “the thieves of Wall Street,” as he called them. In other words, Huey Long founded the principles of the modern Democratic Party.

It is one year after Katrina and New Orleans is again picking up the pieces of the aftermath of a great flood. Dependent upon the charity of others and abandoned by its government. And, I wonder how any great American City could rebuild from such a devastation. If we look at any American city, a town, a place, in which most of us live, we see how our cities budget is already stretched to its limits, financially. And then, we see New Orleans already in poverty, before Katrina hit. And, we know that this is a task so enormous, that only a caring government “of the people”, could possibly achieve, for any city in America, let alone for one of the poorest cities in one of the poorest States in our Country.

And so we look to the Government for progress, for hope, for promised “help”. What we see is not promising. We know that not one person died from Katrina. The damage from the storm was structural but not one human life was lost. And, even if all loss of life was from Katrina, New Orleans would still be looking to the City, State, and all the Government help that it could get, because of its poverty and the great enormity of the damage. However, Katrina did not do this. It was not an act of nature. that has destroyed a city. This is a “man made” disaster, and not a “Natural Disaster” as it was reported to be. The “Great Wall of Protection” that was promised after the great flood of the 1920s was eventually built, and it was built by the Federal Government. It is this wall, this “public trust” that has failed the people of New Orleans.

As one local attorney in New Orleans has said, upon the one year anniversary of Katrina:

“We are not looking for a hand-out. We are not looking for the Government to be involved in our lives. On the contrary, we would prefer for the Federal Government to be as uninvolved in our lives as posiable. We are not looking for charity. All we want is what rightfully belongs to us and to our state, and we will rebuild for ourselves. Give us back the oil rights, to our off-shore oil. Give us (the State of La.) back our oil, and we will rebuild ourselves.”

But, when you look closer, at the involvement of the U.S. Government in New Orleans, you see that the actions of the Government has not altered much, from those first few days after Katrina. You will see low-income housing commandeered by FEMA and the U.S. Military, some housing 250 families or more, with new steel doors and metal bars on the windows, locking out the former inhabitants. One former resident with the aid of reporters, broke into her former home, to find that there was no “water damage” at all, yet she is still not allowed to return home. And, another woman disobeys “military orders” and talks secretly to a reporter of her life in a Government trailer park. Her trailer community has some 80,000 residents. The whole community is set up next to an Exon refinery and secured with chain link fencing. “It is miles from anywhere” she says. “And, our only transportation is a free bus to Wal-Mart, where we can buy food and supplies. Our trailers were poorly made”, she continues almost in tears, “they have formaldehyde gas because they are almost a year old now, and they are starting to break down. Some of us are starting to get sick.” She hangs her head. “Its cancer”, she says.


Katrina - Epitaph

“George Bush Hates Black People”!

It is one year later, and I understand more clearly the meaning of those infamous words. But, there is still something within me that makes me disagree, in some small part, with those words spoken so long ago. I really don’t think that George Bush hates Black people, per sec.

I think that George Bush Hates Democracy.

I think that George Bush —- Hates America!

Posted by: PlayNice at September 2, 2006 08:14 AM
Comment #179099

This whole thing is crazy. When a Storm of this size is heading for you you leave and all you are doing is making excuses for those who dont listen and wont listen when it happens again.If I were the poorest person in the world I would find a way out! Yes Im white and that is another thing you will find wrong with my response. FF

Posted by: Fred Federle at September 3, 2006 07:26 PM
Comment #179404


It is pretty easy to find your way out of a city when you have a car, and you are in good enough health to drive it, and if you have gas in it.

It is pretty easy to “get out” if you have no one actually blocking your way out.

It is pretty easy to “just leave” if you are not old, dependant upon “public transportation” or are not bed-ridden or in a hospital or nursing, home at the time.

It is pretty easy to blame the victim of a tragety and not look at the societal system that created that event in the first place, or to those responsible to render aid after the fact, in the second place.

So glad, that life has been so easy for you, Fred.

Posted by: PlayNice at September 6, 2006 02:14 PM
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