Are We Prepared for Next Time?

Across the country, a disturbing question is being raised: Is the United States adequately prepared to deal with future large-scale disasters, natural or otherwise?

The honest answer is, we don't really know. (Seems like Scott McClellan doesn't know either.) But it doesn't look good.

Perhaps the funding that has been diverted to terrorism preparedness at the expense of natural disaster-related programs would make a difference if the next disaster were a terrorist attack. Then again, the basic elements of an effective response -- evacuating, maintaining law and order, and providing relief supplies -- are pretty much the same for any large-scale disaster, regardless of its cause. If it was bungled this time, why wouldn't it be bungled again? I'd be more confident that members of the administration are learning the key lessons from this tragedy if they didn't keep dodging questions and offering to lead an investigation into their own conduct. (Even Robert Novak is taking sides against the administration's handling of that one, and he's not known for bucking Republican administrations.)

At the heart of the matter is FEMA, the agency whose job it is to respond to precisely this kind of disaster. It's also the agency that is sure to be there (unless it gets gutted) at the next disaster -- it won't be the New Orleans city government. It will be FEMA. Up until a dramatic reorganization following 1992's Hurricane Andrew, FEMA served dual (or perhaps more accurately, dueling) purposes: Responding to natural disasters and preparing for a major nuclear attack. Trouble was, by spending half its budget on gearing up for a nuking, FEMA was dangerously unprepared to deal with the disasters that actually were happening on a fairly regular basis -- hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, floods.

History is repeating itself.

Once again, FEMA has been forced to split its priorities. Over the last couple of years, the agency has been encouraged (and funding has been shifted) to concentrate more on disaster planning for a terrorist attack.The other major reason for the agency's string of failures in the late '80s-early '90s was that it was a haven for political appointees not particularly qualified for the jobs they were given.

Michael D. Brown, the man currently in charge of FEMA had at least worked in some capacity for the agency in the past, but as the Post's Spencer Hsu and Susan Glasser reported, many doubt his qualifications. What do you think? Is a near-decade-long run as commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association -- translation: ensuring there's no impropriety in the judging of horse shows -- and another four as a counsel for FEMA count as enough experience? (Conspicuously, the equestrian job does not appear in Brown's bio.) The number two official at the agency, Patrick James Rhode, worked for the U.S. Small Business Administration; prior to that, he worked on Bush's campaign and in the White House as deputy director of National Advance Operations. According to the Buffalo News, the number three official in FEMA also worked in the advance ops office, which "arranges the president's travel and scripts his appearances."

Perhaps that robust experience scripting appearances explains why throughout this disaster that photo ops and trying to make the administration look good have seemed to be a higher priority than the actual relief. The Salt Lake Tribune has a troubling news story about another piece of the publicity racket: the quiet enlistment of hundreds of firefighters to serve as "community relations" flacks for FEMA.

FEMA began to earn accolades only after its mission was narrowed and the who-you-know appointees were replaced by what-you-know appointees -- people with long records of successful disaster management experience. The guys currently in charge have little to no experience in disaster relief, and only Brown has even the slightest experience in preparing for and reacting to a terrorist attack. That is not reassuring. Isn't it time to make another clean sweep? What do you say, Mr. President? Readers?

By Emily Messner |  September 9, 2005; 11:55 AM ET  | Category:  Looking Ahead
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Throw 'em out, hire back Mr. Witt. Give them a mission statement that makes sense. Give them a budget to back it up.

...and then ask yourself this: Does the committee that approved his nomination have any responisibility for approving a man without credentials for what *they knew* (post 9/11) to be a critical job?

...what other appointees throughout the administration have similar qualifications?

Perhaps Professor Brownie is an aberation. I hope so. I fear not.

Posted by: Bob (In Denver) | September 9, 2005 12:48 PM

Dear Em:

Rep Christopher Shays of Conn. had it exactly right when he said that this Administration seems to value loyalty and deception more than performance and dedication to the truth. His comparison however of the Bushies to the Nixon administration I thought was a little harsh-To Nixon.

Nixon you may recall was almost always willing to stand-up to the Far Right and nut-bag wing of the Repubilican Party as evidenced by his willingness to finally listen to Kissenger and get out of Vietnam, implement wage and price controls during a terrible recession and begin mandatory petrolium conservation efforts during the early 70's Gas Crisis.

Unlike the current denizen of the White House, Nixon was also a visionary and great foreign policy expert as evidenced by his willingness to go to China to visit Mao and open up trade with the most populated country on earth.

We in this era can only wish that GWB was as astute pragmatic and genuinely feeling for the average citizen as old Tricky Dickey proved to be.

Birddog

Posted by: Birrddog08 | September 9, 2005 01:01 PM

Emily,

There is good reason why FEMA needs to spend half it's resources in defense against a nuclear disaster -- it's not only because of a China Syndrome meltdown scenerio (how fast the nation tends to forget the Three Mile Island incident, that caused national panic, so much so President Carter had to go into the reactor itself to calm them down -- are any of you old enough to remember it not as a history lesson, to only to repeat the scenerio in the Gulf of, "I've survived Camille, I can survive Katrina"?), it's because at any day and time someone with a suitcase size "dirty bomb" will detonate it. Few things in the world causes more panic and dire consequences than a nuclear disaster -- for the people know that even after the dead are cleared, the place decontaminated, people can die years later due to being irradiated (with weird forms of cancer, and untold birth defects). It's not to be taken lightly, nor is it to be shoved into a corner because the media spotlight today. EMS planning is for the long term, not what emotional image served today.

I live in the shadow of a DoE bomb plant, and the last nuclear reactor built in the USA. In this part of the woods a nuclear incident IS the terrorist threat and doomsday judgement. It's the same across the country for those communities living near these plants as well. We won't have the yearly images of a category 5 hurricane or a F5 tornado destroying our cities and towns, but an incident here would go into the history books like no other disaster -- and cause national panic like no natural disaster can bring.

It's not the time to pick and choose what disaster to fight (or consider a waste), as we're all in this fishbowl together. Be it nuclear/fire/flood/volcano/earthquake/tornado incidents, every community has a EMS concern, and we look to the logistical, financial, and speeed of agencies like FEMA can bring to save our lives in a national crisis.

There's no price tag or political label on life. Rich/poor/black/white we all want to live, and we have the RIGHT to live.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 9, 2005 01:04 PM

The United States is clearly not prepared to deal with future large-scale disasters, natural or otherwise. Want proof? Read Charles Krauthammer's article in today's Post. According to him, neither global warming, nor the war in Iraq nor tax cuts have anything remotely to do with the Katrina disaster or its aftermath. Mother Nature is to blame.

"Let us be clear. The author of this calamity was, first and foremost, Nature (or if you prefer, Nature's God)."

To be fair to Mr. Krauthammer, he does mention that some of the blame goes to the mayor of New Orleans, the governor, the head of FEMA, the president, Congress, and the American people (in "descending order," of course).

However, with a mind-set that holds Nature/God accountable for the consequences of human folly no country in the world will ever be prepared to deal with large-scale disasters. We can always blame it on water, earth, wind, atmosphere and heat.

Posted by: Lea | September 9, 2005 02:45 PM

Sandy maybe its time to move away from living near a DoE bomb plant. Same with folks living in Florida...

Posted by: jimc | September 9, 2005 02:46 PM

Its becomming quite clear to me. The President who puts protecting Americans from terrorist threats at home and abroad is doing a lousy job of putting qualified people in place to do so. In fact its worse, he's putting factually unqualified people in place because friendships and loyalty are so much more important than competence. So yes, it does look bad. Its time for Congress to wake up and start some real oversight. Bush bungled putting the management of FEMA in place and its likely the hiring plan has been applied elsewhere, and to contracts, and to many other aspects of how the government takes care of its citizens. Remember, this is the president who gave George Tenet the medal of freedom. That was one insult to America, Mr. Brown is Bush's latest. Don't believe for a minute it stops there.

I did like one thing I saw somewhere in the Post ... it seems there is talk of how Rumsfeld said looting in Iraq after the invasion was ok, that it was just a way for a freed people to let off steam, but in New Orleans it is criminal when it happens in a crisis resulting in almost identical circumstances. OK for Iraqis, not ok for Americans. Will someone please tell me this administration has it together ... ah forget it...

Posted by: Sully | September 9, 2005 02:50 PM

If only the "Shrub" had put on a pair of hip waiters and wandered into New Orleans on Monday amongst the trodden, he would have saved his ass for the time being! With the Fools & Cronies he has surrounded himself with, no amount of PR will work to get him out of the Jam he is in! By listening to his mother, we all can see where his priorities are focused, and having spent almost 40 year in a stupor, being drunk & then being reborn, one only wonders how over 50% of Americans elected this good ole' boy redneck from Connecticut? This Frat mentality of running the US Government has to cease and we need to elect leaders that have vision and morality to the people of this country and not to a God who has never sent a dime for all the calamities this world has experienced! The day God sends me a check, for whatever reason, is the day I will invoke and believe in him, but, until then we all need to believe in ourselves and do not count on government to help.

Posted by: Janusz Janas | September 9, 2005 03:13 PM

Dear Emily,
I am a little surprised that no one is mentioning the underlying reason for the loss of wetlands in Louisiana. It is my understanding that the wetlands in Southern Louisiana are the result of silt carried by the Mississippi River. It is therefore the levys that are resulting in the loss of wetlands. If you don't believe me, take a close look at a map of Louisiana and see where the Mississippi empties into the Gulf. It keeps dumping silt and extends further into the Gulf than any other part of the State. The natual wetlands of Louisiana were built up over years and years by natural flooding prior to flood control.

Posted by: Robert Graham | September 9, 2005 03:13 PM

If only the "Shrub" had put on a pair of hip waiters and wandered into New Orleans on Monday amongst the trodden, he would have saved his ass for the time being! With the Fools & Cronies he has surrounded himself with, no amount of PR will work to get him out of the Jam he is in! By listening to his mother, we all can see where his priorities are focused, and having spent almost 40 year in a stupor, being drunk & then being reborn, one only wonders how over 50% of Americans elected this good ole' boy redneck from Connecticut? This Frat mentality of running the US Government has to cease and we need to elect leaders that have vision and morality to the people of this country and not to a God who has never sent a dime for all the calamities this world has experienced! The day God sends me a check, for whatever reason, is the day I will invoke and believe in him, but, until then we all need to believe in ourselves and do not count on government to help.

Posted by: Janusz Janas | September 9, 2005 03:19 PM

Poor Sandy, the present administration has you fooled too. The funding cuts for the levee work, for FEMA's budget, and other critical support mechanisms, including the preparedness for your nuclear meltdown, have greatly reduced the effectiveness those programs can have. Add to that the bozo political appointees with no more qualifications other than "party support" running these agencies, disaster relief becomes much more complicated. FEMA should have remained a cabinet level agency with the ability to make decisions and react in real time as they have done before. Now that it has been sucked into the Homeland Security group, many levels of bureaucracy (and even more bozos) have been added to the process, handcuffing the ability to respond quickly. I would guess that the people living on the Gulf and Atlantic coast would argue, as you have due to your proximity, which is the more immediate concern. We haven't had a "nuclear" incident of that scale since 3 Mile Island, but the hurricane season occurs every year, causing damage almost every time. And if this administration continues to ignore the global warming problem, weather patterns for our hemisphere will continue to produce more numerous and more powerful storms every year.

Posted by: NatchAJ | September 9, 2005 03:26 PM

jimc,

And leave one of the most fortified areas in the country (we also have the military's communication command)?

I'd take my chances with a meltdaown (I'd be dead instantly, and that's better than being caught by Al qaeta thugs and beheaded on video).

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 9, 2005 03:28 PM

Robert Graham is correct about the flood control system preventing the silt buildup to continue. It also prevents silt being replaced by erosion from the Gulf. So, those wetlands have been eroded back toward the city over the years allowing the storm surges to be higher at the city. I found this very good article (http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/wetlands/hurricane_print.html) that eriely predicts what has happened to New Orleans. Read down to "The Natural Buffer Disappears" to see why the wetlands have disappeared. Its sort of funny, the article reminds me of pre-9/11 articles talking about how we were open to terrorist attacks but we all ignored them too. All I can think about is San Francisco and how we will be "surprised" when the big one hits.

Posted by: Sully | September 9, 2005 03:30 PM

The scary thing looking forward from here is that in an environment rampant with premature, even outlandish, partisan recriminations from ALL sides, the chances of there being an adequate and honest set of lessons-learned from this disaster (the type of lessons-learned that will help prevent the failings of this effort from repeating in a future disaster) is practically nil. People are going to be too busy trying to cover their a**es and politically damage the other side to actually try to learn what went wrong and how to make it better.

ALL of the politicians, commentators, columnists, wannabe commentators/bloggers and reporters should stop the partisan fingerpointing and blamesmanship IMMEDIATELY and get at the task at hand: making the best out of this relief and recovery effort.

THEN commit to a nonrecriminatory investigation of the failings of the Katrina disaster effort.

We don't just owe it to the people impacted by the Katrina disaster ... we owe it to the people who WILL be impacted by future disasters.

Posted by: GEK | September 9, 2005 03:32 PM

Natch,

Just miles from my door is a levee. Above and below it are locks, and above it a massive dam (which created one of the largest man made lakes). The levee was built long before FEMA existed, as the city got tired of using downtown as a boat dock. Folks who go down to the breeches can see the historical highs of flood waters. But I'm (and most of the city) is not worried so much about the levee collapsing under the weight of a zillion gallons of water from upstream, but of plain creeks overflowing.

So the poorness would probably be, Natch, that you're forgetting a political 101 lesson: all politics are local.

[Watch that fly over his/her head]

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 9, 2005 03:37 PM

GEK:

Hurricane season is not over, and there is always the next season. Many cities sit atop fault lines. The Mississippi floods now and then (ask St. Louis). Winter is coming and cold, snow & ice cause many emergencies, and lets not forget the forest fires. And these are just a few of the "natural" disasters America faces. We must fix the problem exposed in our government's ability to pre-plan, prepare for and offer relief during the next disasters. The only way to do that is to play the blame game. Accountability must be demanded. The problems must be identified and fixed. And it must be done fast. And we cannot allow the republicans in the administration and Congress, who are in total defense mode, the luxury of handling the investigations. We must demand an independent investigation or its results will not be taken seriously, and its beyond time to get serious.

This just in ... Chertoff just had the audacity to say the following:

"Mike Brown has done everything he possibly could to coordinate the federal response to this unprecedented challenge," Chertoff said. The FEMA director "has got a lot of other responsibilities," he said, adding, "We cannot afford to let our guard down. I want to make sure FEMA continues to be run the way it needs to be."

So much for accountability ... were in real trouble folks... this administration just doesn't get it.

Speaking of the blame game, don't blame me, I voted for Kerry! :^}

Posted by: Sully | September 9, 2005 03:55 PM

Mr. Krauthammer had it right, that being said, it does not mean you can't prepare for the next disaster. But in reality, given the force of Nature, in a worse case scenario, all you can hope to do is minimize the impact. If we found out today that a meteor the size of Texas were to hit earth, could we prevent it? We know natural disasters will occur, but we can not stop them.
What we need to do with this disaster is learn from it. Certainly Mr. Krauthammer had it right. The difference between 9/11 and Katrina is that the city and state of New York took the lead, where in Louisiana and New Orleans, they waited under the tree waiting for the fruit to drop. If nothing else is learned from this disaster, let it be that local authorities need to assume that Federal Assistance (with emphasis on Assistance) could takes days to come, and local assets need to make up the difference till the Cavalry arrives.

Posted by: RayT | September 9, 2005 04:04 PM

Mr. Krauthammer had it right, that being said, it does not mean you can't prepare for the next disaster. But in reality, given the force of Nature, in a worse case scenario, all you can hope to do is minimize the impact. If we found out today that a meteor the size of Texas were to hit earth, could we prevent it? We know natural disasters will occur, but we can not stop them.
What we need to do with this disaster is learn from it. Certainly Mr. Krauthammer had it right. The difference between 9/11 and Katrina is that the city and state of New York took the lead, where in Louisiana and New Orleans, they sat under the tree waiting for the fruit to drop. If nothing else is learned from this disaster, let it be that local authorities need to assume that Federal Assistance (with emphasis on Assistance) could takes days to come, and local assets need to make up the difference till the Cavalry arrives.

Posted by: RayT | September 9, 2005 04:08 PM

I don't see the problem. Brownie's resume is not much worse than George Bush's. The real question is, who's nephew is he? It's like Dan Quale; nothing matters except who your parents are. Edwards is right about the two Americas, and the only uncertainty about our Ruling Class, is whether they are Bourbons or Romanovs. They obviously don't have any capacity to rule. And if Walmart can move faster than FEMA, that only proves that Walmart doesn't hate its customers as much as the Government hates its citizens.

Posted by: stwish | September 9, 2005 04:14 PM

The main problem exposed here is the failure of Democratic local and state officials to perform their jobs. New Orleans is a city where the difference between the top Democrats and the bottom Democrats is just that they loot the city in different ways. Nagin should have used the schoolbuses like his evacuation plan said, Gov. Blanco was worse than a zero because she waited so long to call out the National Guard but refused to surrender control of the Guard so the feds could do it, and Sen. Landrieu's family got wealthy on fostering corruption in New Orleans. New Orleans is what the Democrats made it, and that would be a mess even if Katrina had never hit.

Posted by: Vern | September 9, 2005 04:20 PM

To all those that think democrats are scapegoating the President - and that partisan bickering is interfering with an examination of the facts - this is not the first time a state has had a disaster magnified because of weak leadership by this administration.

The disaster in California which took many lives and did billions of dollars of damage also could have been diminished. The Bush administration refused to grant California the funds to clear the brush on Federal lands. The day after California received the administration's answer the fires started. The administration took almost a year to answer California's request.

There is a pattern of penny wise - dollar foolish planning/execution on the part of this administration. No amount spin is going to change that.

Posted by: Jim | September 9, 2005 04:24 PM

Why Mr Bush refuses de aid from Cuba?
Because is the demostration that a third world`s country is better qualified for natural emergencies than USA; remember the flood over Santa Fe city in Argentina in 2003.
The USA governement spends all the money in military backup to get the oil in his hands instead development of "friendly enviromental" sources of energies

Posted by: Martin | September 9, 2005 04:27 PM

Vern:

First, Nagin is a Republican in Democrats clothing. Read Nagin's bio here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Nagin
He endorses republicans and Bush. I wonder how he feels now that Bush's FEMA let him down.

And if you think that the feds could have done a better job with the Guard than Blanco just ask those who are in N.O. who did the better job, the Guard under Blanco or FEMA under Brownie? And Chertoff has just announced that Brownie is NEEDED at FEMA for the next disaster. Oh yea, I feel safe now that Brownie is back in DC and still in charge of FEMA.

Posted by: Sully | September 9, 2005 04:32 PM

I don't know so much that the question is "Are we prepared for next time?" as much as it should be "Is it even possible to be prepared for next time?"

For two weeks now I've listened to people rant about, "Why did everyone leave New Orleans?" and ""Why didn't the city/state/feds get eveyone out?" etc.

It's two weeks since this nightmare began and we still can't find placement for everyone impacted by this disaster. If it had been humanly possible to get everyone out on 48 hours notice where would they have gone? Where do you put over a million people on short notice?

Until six years ago I had lived my entire life in Louisiana. By the grace of God I lived through dozens of hurricanes. There were some instances when we evacuated other times we stayed put. As often as not when one decision was made we wished we had made the other. Unless you have lived in a hurricane zone you don't understand the rationale behind the decision. There have been so many times people boarded up their homes and left only to see the hurricane either fizzle out or turn and hit another area. Until the last minute it's a toss of the dice almost everytime.

Now with that background--think of the enormous expense of evacuating a city the size of New Orleans EVERY time a hurricane threatens. That would only have to happen once or twice before the rest of the nation would be outraged over the amount of money being "wasted" to temporarily re-locate a million plus citizens for a false alarm. oh sure, right now everyone is emotional as they see the tragedy played out before their eyes so you may disagree, but time has a way of changing that sense of empathy.

Personally, I say it would be worth every penny to evacuate hurricane prone areas every time a hurricane looms. The cost in human life saved the one time disaster strikes far out weighs what it would cost in dollars to evacate an entire city "just in case" a couple of times every times every year, but again I don't think the rest of the country would stand for it.

So again I pose the question, "Is it even possible to be prepared for next time?"

Posted by: A Louisiana Gal now in D.C. | September 9, 2005 04:33 PM

Response to a disaster affecting three states is by definition not local. NYC leaders were fortunate that their event was limited to a few city blocks. Giuliani and Pataki wouldn't have been nearly as effective (and visible)from up in Albany. It's pathetic how the Bush administration (and Krauthammer echoing them) are trying to turn their failure to lead and implement their own plan (called the National Response Plan) into blaming the victims. Of course not everybody can or will evacuate, that not all levees will hold - if that were so, we didn't need a plan, or FEMA, or any government. But we're dealing with complex problems, uncertainties and probabilities, and that's why we need an elaborate federal administration that can deal with it - if only it had the right leadership.

Posted by: cpwdc | September 9, 2005 04:42 PM

Why not let the Gulf of Mexico stay where it has moved to, 40 miles north from the Mississippi delta ? Will we be ready nextyear for even a category 3 hurricane in Louisiana and Mississipi ?

Posted by: E W Carlson | September 9, 2005 04:43 PM

The cheapest and most logical solution to the Katrina problem is for the Federal government to
exercise eminent domain and buy the land, making the delta into a commercial shipping port and saving anatural estuary.

Posted by: E W Carlson | September 9, 2005 04:50 PM

Sully:

I read your source. I recommend that you go back and read it too because you appear to have a miscomprehension of it. Nagin endorsed Kerry, not Bush, in 2004. Nagin is a Democrat.

And the feds would have called out the Guard a day before Blanco did, so yes, of course the feds would have done a better job.

To restate: it was the local and state officials who most failed at their jobs in the debacle of New Orleans. They make FEMA look good in comparison.

Posted by: Vern | September 9, 2005 04:52 PM

I recently read a quote. I've slept since then, but to paraphrase.

"There are two types of levees. One that is broken and one that will break."

Mark Twain proposed to tame the Mississippi is to propose to tame a comet.

Read Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 And How It Changed America, by John M. Barry.

I suggest Rising Tide for every FEMA employee and politician who thinks Mother Nature can be tamed by words...

Posted by: Hal Barker | September 9, 2005 05:03 PM

Vern,

Read the facts (this part isn't being disputed at Wikipedia)...

===========================================
[...]Nagin also made a controversial endorsement of current Republican U.S. Representative Bobby Jindal in the 2003 Louisiana Gubernatorial Runoff over current Democratic Governor Kathleen Blanco, and only reluctantly endorsed U.S. Senator John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential race."
===========================================

Now folks can see what pettiness has went on between Blanco and Nagin. Apparently Blanco hasn't forgotten and plays the dirty politics with Nagin (like contradicting his authority as mayor), to the extent it could've killed lives.

If there's blame in all of this on the local level (besides the evacuation plan itself), it's pettiness of who endorsed who in an election and it's aftermath.

Blanco should be ashamed of herself for clipping Nagin's wings, when she should've put partisanship aside and did everything to help -- not play payback politics when lives are at stake.

To me she's a literal Bloody Mary.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 9, 2005 05:07 PM

No. You are not prepared and will not be until the United States changes the way it sees the world. Remember the Kyoto Protocol? naa...its not important; Lets invade Irak and divert all the funds to try to chase Osama Bin Laden, that by the way, remains at large. The paranoia and the agressive actions that the US has taken since 9/11 "thinking" that is better to take the offensive, has put your people at the mercy of the elements. How many attacks has Al Qaeda been capable of execute in US soil since 9/11? none. How many hurricanes can hit US coasts in a year? 5? 7?. With Mr. Vacation Bush, the direction the US took will end up nowhere. Where are u Bill? We forgive you.

Posted by: Jorge Fernandez | September 9, 2005 05:08 PM

Ditto to Birddog!

It is scary to realize that this nation is not ready!

Posted by: Aida | September 9, 2005 05:11 PM

We are now seeing the wisdom of our forefathers who wrote that no President can serve more than two terms. GWB is the perfect application of this law. He seems to have the ability to win elections (according to GWB, a public mandate in 2000 -- a <1% margin, and the recipient of political capital in 2004 which is his to spend as he sees fit!) but seems unable to effectively do anything else --- except try to control the news and manage his staff with fear. Oh, yes, lest I forget, he also is comfortable in wasting American lives and resources to overthrow a foreign government while the instigator of 9/11 runs loose.

This is the same guy who wrangled his way into the Air Guard at a time when most of us faced either being drafted or volunteering for active duty in a cesspool called Vietnam and became a bona fide, honest-to-goodness fighter pilot -- the ultimate image of machismo in the late 60's and early 70's -- and then essentially went AWOL!

NYC survived the terrors of 9/11 thanks to the leadership provided by Rudy Guiliani. (BTW, as far as I am concerned, any President who can not stop an attack on the Pentagon, the citadel of American military power, should be immediately fired.) Last year Florida survived four major hurricanes thanks to the leadership provided by GWBs little brother Jeb. This year, when no one else was able to take command, the folks on the Gulf Coast relied on the Federal Government and you see the results. (If there is any humor in the situation in New Orleans, I found it absolutely hilarious that FEMA was advising the residents of N.O. to go online for assistance in order not to tie up the telephone lines!!! The same folks who had no food, water, or electricity could facilitate their request for assistance by accessing the internet!!!!)

Let's see -- 3,500 dead in 9/11, well over 2,000 dead in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now some number up in the 1000's dead in MS, AL and LA. And what do we get? GWB blaming everyone not in his administration, his mother claiming that the poor folks in New Orleans are now really better off, $3.50-$4.00 a gallon gas while we occupy a country that is one of the world's major oil producers, and his PR flaks claiming that the abuse of Bush is a manifestation of rabid and lying news reporters! Wow, hope we survive three more years of this guy to make it to 2008!

Posted by: GerryP | September 9, 2005 05:23 PM

I blame the Mayor for not getting out the buses for the evacuation the way he did for the election; I blame the Governors of Mississippi and Louisiana for not screaming louder sooner; I blame the federal government for sleeping behind the wheel.

But mostly I am terrified at the consequences of Reaganism with its "lower taxes" mantra. Most Americans truly believe that they should pay less in taxes. Having seen the aftermath in New Orleans, I would gladly pay more. But the feds need to sit down like adults and figure out priorities. Are there any more levees in desperate need of repair which if they collapses could devastate a region? (like the levees near Sacramento which could flood the city and eliminate the water source for 23 million people for a couple of years) Instead we build a bridge in Alaska which goes nowhere. Our government is built on reelection. Term limits only seem to help the lobbyists. We need creative thinking and a new president.

Posted by: MLM | September 9, 2005 05:28 PM

Sully:

The only people who think it's a good thing to play the blame game are the irrationally partisan and hopelessly ignorant.

Anyone who's ever participated a military AAR or business post-mortem *knows* that recriminations produce few substantive results ... and, indeed, only serve to ensure that the real lessons of a failure are lost, rather than identified, corrected and assimilated.

From the substance of your response, it appears (is almost obvious, in fact) that your only concern here is in using this failure as an instrument of blunt force political trauma with which to bash those you happen to politically disagree with. Those who are suffering and those who may suffer and die (will suffer and die, thanks to the mindlessly partisan) in future disasters deserve better ...

Posted by: GEK | September 9, 2005 05:29 PM

We are now seeing the wisdom of our forefathers who wrote that no President can serve more than two terms. GWB is the perfect application of this law. He seems to have the ability to win elections (according to GWB, a public mandate in 2000 -- a <1% margin, and the recipient of political capital in 2004 which is his to spend as he sees fit!) but seems inept at everything else -- except trying to control the news and managing his staff with fear. Oh, yes, lest I forget, he also is comfortable in wasting American lives and resources to overthrow a foreign government while the instigator of 9/11 runs loose.

This is the same guy who wrangled his way into the Air Guard, at a time when most of us faced either being drafted or volunteering for active duty in a cesspool called Vietnam, and became a bona fide, honest-to-goodness fighter pilot -- the ultimate image of machismo in the late 60's and early 70's -- and then essentially went AWOL!

NYC survived the terrors of 9/11 thanks to the leadership provided by Rudy Guiliani. (BTW, as far as I am concerned, any President who can not stop an attack on the Pentagon, the citadel of American military power, should be immediately fired.) Last year Florida survived four major hurricanes thanks to the leadership provided by GWBs little brother Jeb. This year, when no one else was able to take command, the folks on the Gulf Coast relied on the Federal Government and you see the results. (If there is any humor in the situation in New Orleans, I found it absolutely hilarious that FEMA was advising the residents of N.O. to go online for assistance in order not to tie up the telephone lines!!! The same folks who had no food, water, or electricity could facilitate their request for assistance by accessing the internet!!!!)

Let's see -- 3,500 dead in 9/11, well over 2,000 dead in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now some number up in the 1000's dead in MS, AL and LA. And what do we get? GWB blaming everyone not in his administration, his mother claiming that the poor folks in New Orleans are now really better off, $3.50-$4.00 a gallon gas while we occupy a country that is one of the world's major oil producers, and his PR flaks claiming that the abuse of Bush is a manifestation of rabid and lying news reporters! Wow, hope we survive three more years of this guy to make it to 2008!

Posted by: GerryP | September 9, 2005 05:30 PM

I know that it is deemed in poor taste these days, but I think that any honest evaluation of why the human losses of Katrina are so high has to start with the victims themselves. Understanding that there are certainly cases of some people being physically or economically unable to leave the path of the storm, it is as yet unclear how many simply ignored first the the voluntary and then the *mandatory* order to evacuate. Heck, even most people that are considered to be living in "poverty" in this country have automobiles. While it may have done a poor job explaining it to residents, the city did make available some transportation out of the city for its low income residents. How many of the storm's victims, tragically, voluntarily declined to evacuate? Once we have that answer, we can start to assess responsibility among the governments and agencies at the local, state, and federal level.

Posted by: GabeS | September 9, 2005 05:37 PM

Gee GEK, yours and GWBs approach to all failures reminds me of the three monkeys -- hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. Of course, the way to prove yourself right is to lead an investigation of your own actions. Sometimes I think that Bush and his cowboy cronies really believe that all Americans are ignorant idiots.

Posted by: GerryP | September 9, 2005 05:42 PM

Right GabeS, when in doubt, blame the victims!! Kind of reminds me of the guy shooting a gun in a crowd. His defense in court was that if the victims had not gotten in the way of his bullets, the victims would not have been shot!

Posted by: | September 9, 2005 05:46 PM

To me, it is a sad commentary that with all the damage, destruction and mass stupidity at all levels, households, city, state AND Federal, so many seem want to push blame around in order to forget thinking about the future. (You think Al Queda people are not watching this and planning too? You wish, so do I, but that wont cut it, pilgrim!). You think any city or state could deal with a planned event of such scale? I dont, and in some cases, who will there be to blame? Chain of command in a city, a state is tenuous, isnt it? That will be one problem with any dirty bomb scenario, wont it? How about communications? Four years after 9/11 and we still dont have a good handle on coordinating communications inter and intra city and state? No redunant systems at any level? That is inexcusable and will be unforgiveable in an era with radio, satellite radio (how many channels can XM or Sirius broadcast on?), satellite phone, wireless web, cell, FM, shortwave, low power, etc? Yet people still had no good handle on things? That simple shortfall makes me very afraid for the future (not the partisan chuckleheads of any stripe), very afraid.

Posted by: FrankM | September 9, 2005 05:58 PM

GEK:

I agree that the task at hand is to help those in need. No one disputes that. But like a train wreck, you cannot wait too long to begin the analysis. Real failures happened here that were not due to lack of quick thinking but due to long term organizational changes, mainly at FEMA. There were likely problems at the local level, but the city and state governments are way too busy now handling their own problems, but at the federal level, congressmen and senators are not handing out debit cards and food. They have the time and the duty to investigate what happened and how it should be fixed. The longer they wait the more the Bush administration can stonewall and the less prepared we'll be for the next disaster. The longer they wait the more Karen Hughes can develope the propaganda campaign. You bet I disagree with this administration. There should be investigations into why looting became freely acceptable in Iraq after the invasion and praised by Rumsfeld as a sign of freedom. There should be investigations into why tourture was allowed and in some circumstances encouraged to happen. We should also wonder why a hunger strike is happening at Gitmo and its not being reported in this paper. These have been papered over and waved away by the Bush administration, but this fiasco is going to stick. Too many Americans have seen the ineptitude and failure of the administration that promised to save us from terrorists and everything else. And now Chertoff is praising Brownie. It seems he will not be fired. Its evident the administration is in total denial and self protection mode. Unless someone starts looking into what happened, I guarantee you, nothing will happen except a Medal of Freedom coming to Brownie and Chertoff for their 'hellava good job".

Posted by: Sully | September 9, 2005 06:04 PM

Like I said, it's not popular at the moment to look at the people who stayed and ask why they did. Perhaps there are ways we can better encourage residents to leave when evacuation orders are issued. Perhaps we need to look at the timing of evacuation orders and ask if people had been given more time, would more have gotten out of the path of the storm. All I am saying is that *some* of the people who failed to leave *chose* to stay (call it the "Fats Dominio" syndrome). And, we do not know (yet) how many people chose to stay compared to the number that simply could not leave for physical or economic reasons. Government agencies are almost certainly at fault for aggravating the catsatrophe, but people should bear personal responsibility for their choices. That does not seem to be a radical idea.

Posted by: GabeS | September 9, 2005 06:06 PM

I find myself really saddened that this country and our expectations of how this disaster "could have been handled" amounts to phrases like: "We just can't do that", that it's impossible to prepare for a disaster like this, etc, etc. etc.

We used to be a can-do country. When did our country and our current administration become a "Can't-doer"?

Of course you can do it. You can do it if you put the right people into the right positions, people who are actually are qualified to do the job you give them. You can make sure all of these people who work for you are given tools with which to do their jobs. Resources.

The only person who appears qualified to do anything in this administration is Karl Rove, and even that is too disgusting a thought to contemplate.

Posted by: Traveller | September 9, 2005 06:11 PM

GabeS

And again I ask, IF there had been enough buses to get into New Orleans, and IF there had been enough time to get everyone out of N.O. after it was known Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on the LA coast--WHERE do you propose all of those people be taken?

Posted by: A Louisiana Gal now in D.C. | September 9, 2005 06:18 PM

Maybe, finally, the American sheeple are starting to wake up and recognize the inadequacies of the Bush administration. Maybe, soon, the Government will accept responsibility for their actions or lack thereof. The whole GWB situation reminds me of the ancient fable -- The Emperor's New Clothes.

Posted by: GerryP | September 9, 2005 06:19 PM

After watching how Bush Administration did nothing to help African Americans, poor whites and blacks and the sick I would look to Americans and others that came forward for help. I'm sure there would be a spin or blame but we learn who we can depend on in our hour of need and its not George Bush or the elected officials who said it was the victims fault. At least we know from the President that the first thing to be done is rebuild Mr. Lott's house even better then it was before the flood. Thats great news. Barbara Bush's comment was so 1920's and Laura is in denial. Karen Hughes is doing her best to say we didn't see what we saw and that the President did a great job I just don't know about watching people die on TV is a great job I guess she'll have to explain that one.

Posted by: Jackie | September 9, 2005 06:26 PM

People can hate GWB as much as they like. I'm not going to be the judge of whether their hatred is rational or irrational. But given the multiple failures at the local and state levels in New Orleans, it is indeed irrational to put the primary blame for Katrina's aftermath on FEMA, Bush, or other federal entities. Weather patterns that have been around for centuries, the topography of New Orleans, the mayoral failure to follow an evacuation plan, and the governor's indecision and inaction explain the disaster of New Orleans. I know that doesn't satisfy the Magical Thinkers out there who think GWB is the force behind their milk going bad when they leave it out of the fridge overnight, but that's the real world.

Posted by: Vern | September 9, 2005 06:35 PM

That's a good question LA Gal in DC, and I'll be honest and say that I don't have a good answer. But, after the hurricane, we do seem to have found accomodations for everyone that got out (even if they aren't that great and are definitely of a temporary nature). The Houston Astrodome was one place that was always available, it seems. We have others staying here in the DC Armory. Other towns and cities across America (especially on the East Coast) seem to have been able to support evacuees. There seems to be no lack of cots and warm food for people who got out.

Again, my point is not that everyone who stayed in the coastal areas could get out of the path of the storm, but only that there were certainly some people who chose to stay and weather the storm even though they had the means to get out. How many of those people paid with their lives -- horribly, tragically -- is something that is useful to know when we start looking at how to avoid another hurricane-related disaster. Indeed, I'd say that it's crucial that we know it, but that no one seems willing to ask the question.

Posted by: GabeS | September 9, 2005 06:37 PM

On the President's role, I see a lot of people angry in here about the Iraq war, taxes, etc. etc. -- things that would appear to have nothing to do with the response to the hurricane. The event seems to be just another "tool" to be used by those on the political left in an attempt to hammer Bush. I might even agree with them on this one, but it really turns me off when I hear the high-pitched screed, almost like a religious litany now, from those claiming that this is just an extension of Bush's foreign or tax or *fill in liberal cause celeb here* policy. Lets stay on topic, shall we?

Posted by: MikeQ | September 9, 2005 06:42 PM

GabeS -
And why does it matter how many of the folks that stayed chose to stay? Any time you have a population of around a million, a certain percentage of people will not conform. Is it not more important that no one appeared prepared to assist those that chose to leave? Does it not matter that, apparently, large quantities of relief supplies were at hand but FEMA would not deliver them until proper processes were completed. Does it not matter that FEMA, and others, refused to recognize the plight of the 10,000 people stranded at the convention center even though it had been reported by several news sources for over 24 hours? Does it not matter that someone (FEMA?) allocated 25,000 survivors to the Astrodome yet the local fire marshals only allowed 15,000? Does it not matter that the first organizations to really deliver relief were groups like the Red Cross and the Salvation Army -- as early as Tuesday -- while the Bush and FEMA were still evaluating the situation? Does it not matter that Bush was making a big deal about the $10B that he "instigated and pushed through" is just a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed? (Gee, wouldn't that $250B we have spent in Iraq come in handy about now? Wonder how long after Chaney "dropped in" on the Gulf Coast before Halliburton shows up?)

Forget questioning how many chose to stay. As someone pointed about above, deaths are a tragedy, but not being able to take care of the folks who "did what they were told to do" is the real tragedy. In a multi-state travesty, that responsibility rests with the Federal Government. And, for almost a week after the disaster, all the the Government could provide was that "the cavalry was on the way!"

Posted by: GerryP | September 9, 2005 06:52 PM


The people running things are pinheads.

Another hurricane this year, or next year, that has equal or greater devistation assoicated with it is far more likely than some terrorist getting away with anything as grand as 9/11.

And if it's not, who's fault is that?

Posted by: tims | September 9, 2005 06:59 PM

MikeQ, we are staying on the topic. The topic is the GWB Administration and it's inability to provide services to the American people. We have put up with his cowboy politics for 5 years and the horse is finally "out of the barn." It is a shame that the catastrophy of Hurricane Katrina has finally shocked the American population into seeing the inept Bush Administration the way it is, not the way Bush and his cronies would like us to see it. For further details, look up recent quotes from Karen Hughes.

Posted by: GerryP | September 9, 2005 07:02 PM

Vern,

The buck stops at Bush's door.

It's a basic responsibility of leadership -- to be accountable for everything on your watch. That's why they got the power, the pay grade and perks.

If a private in the military is responsible for his area on sentry duty, and sleeps on the job and folks die, you can bet he's not going to be able to shift blame to the NCOIC for his lapse. Same goes with the Commander-in-Chief of the country.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 9, 2005 07:03 PM

Vern,

The buck stops at Bush's door.

It's a basic responsibility of leadership -- to be accountable for everything on your watch. That's why they got the power, the pay grade and perks.

If a private in the military is responsible for his area on sentry duty, and sleeps on the job and folks die, you can bet he's not going to be able to shift blame to the NCOIC for his lapse. Same goes with the Commander-in-Chief of the country.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 9, 2005 07:04 PM

Yo, WP: You have a conflict in your page design -- this time it's giving errors (it's why folks are double posting).

I hope while Bert is away, there's someone to fill in on the programming side, or your server's HDD capacity is going need to be doubled!

Also: outside ads can cause browsers to "burp", and give it indigestion. This can also happen with the Google like AJAX programming and link tracking (it royally slows down page loads too -- even on broadband). Add it on top of the Typepad module, and it's going to cause conflict -- already shown with the atypical xhtml used (you might have to use tables to keep things aligned, as 3 column divs with absolute positioning won't stay align. This is a well known "flaw"). Doesn't matter in using tables here, since this design doesn't confirm to W3C recommendations anyway.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 9, 2005 07:18 PM

SandyK,

The President is not responsible for the weather. He's not responsible for the mayor's failure to follow the mayor's own evacuation plan. That's the mayor's responsiblility. He's not responsible for the governor's failure to call out the National Guard. That's the governor's responsibility. He's not responsible for decades of political corruption in New Orleans. That's the Landrieu family's responsibility. Maybe it satisfies some deep need for some people when they can blame everything that happens on a President they don't like, I don't know. But it IS irrational.

Posted by: Vern | September 9, 2005 07:23 PM

You are absolutely right Vern, the President is not responsible. For anything. Therein lies the crux of the problem. And it is irrational. It is irrational that the President -- Commander-in-Chief of the US armed forces -- could not stop an attack on the Pentagon. It is irrational that he launched a war to overthrow a foreign government based on lies -- lies to foreign countries and lies to the US population. It is irrational that in less than a week he goes from "Brownie, you're doing a heck'uva job", to "Brownie, you're fired." And, trust me, Brownie has been fired. And, it is irrational that Karen Hughes makes a statement to the effect that if criticism is being heaped on the President, the White House PR machine is not getting the right message out to the public. And, finally, it is irrational that he can never admit he just might be wrong.

What most seemingly astute individuals do not understand is that a vast majority of Americans do not need a label placed on their beliefs. It is not a matter of Democrate vs. Republican. It is not a case of liberal vs. conservative. Many Americans could not give you a definition of any of these labels. What does matter to most people is what they perceive as what is right and what is wrong. In the case of Hurricane Katrina and the devastation of the Gulf Coast, many Americans perceive that the Bush Administration has not performed well.

Posted by: GerryP | September 9, 2005 08:08 PM

Vern-

Check your facts, Gov Blanco DID call out the National Guard! They were in the Superdome when the Hurricane hit.

Posted by: A Louisiana Gal now in D.C. | September 9, 2005 08:15 PM

Yeah, I know what you are thinking....she didn't call out enough of the guard. You are absolutely right! She would have called in more but they were in Iraq!

Thanks Pres Bush for protecting the Iraqis and leaving U.S. citizens unprotected and vulnerable. Way to spend those tax dollars!

Posted by: A Louisiana Gal now in D.C. | September 9, 2005 08:18 PM

Vern,

Bush is CinC. Bush complies by military standards. Those standards are: if something bad happens on your watch, you're responsible for it. It doesn't matter if Mother Nature's farts; or the devil himself squated on the White House lawn -- your watch, you're responsible.

Responsibility and accountability goes from top, down. Not down, up. This is the military model and it's brutal in it's efficiency.

For the CiC: Wear the brass, get the pay, have the staff -- you sleep on duty, it's your butt and the public is the lawnmower.

SandyK
Semper Fi!

Posted by: SandyK | September 9, 2005 08:31 PM

So now people are wondering how an inept administration could allow 9/11 to occur on its watch, launch a war based on lies and thin intelligence, re-engineer the justification for that war (its democracy now!), reduce taxes and ratchet up a deficit that is the largest in history. Well, believe it or not, it mainly came down to gay marriage. Yup, Karl Rove, after squashing Kerry with his swift boat allies made gay marriage the boogyman, and many Americans bought it. So be happy ... no gay married people around you, but lots of refugees, errr... evacuees. Anyway, if your wondering how a bumbling idiot remained in office, it had nothing to do with him being a bumbling idiot since he didn't threaten anyone then. Now people know their lives depend on their votes and maybe, just maybe, gay marriage and stem cell research are not so crutial they would give a bumbler the most powerful office in the world. Maybe they'll remember next time around ... probably not...

Posted by: Sully | September 9, 2005 11:06 PM

It's amazing how our obsession with terrorism, even among critics of George Bush's handling of the Katrina disaster, has blinded us to the next "clear and present danger" that threatens Americans with mass death and suffering and for which the Bush administration is woefully unprepared. It's not terrorism. It's the real threat of a flu pandemic, and that threat will be magnified many times if it's the avian flu variety. We are talking about the deaths of millions of Americans, not just a few tens of thousands.

The experts have already spelled out the scenario in minute detail--just like they did with predictions of an Al Qaeda-directed terrorist attack and an inundation of New Orleans as the result of a massive hurricane. The experts have told us that a flu pandemic is no longer just a nightmare scenario but one with a high probability of becoming reality--just like they did about the other events. They have also told us that the United States is unprepared to cope with this nightmare scenario--just like they told us we were unprepared to deal with a major terrorist attack or the flooding of New Orleans. In particular, they have told us that our first responders, hospitals, and public health system will be overwhelmed when the pandemic hits. Were you horrified to watch those human beings at the Superdome and Convention Center and on the Interstate left without food or water for days?

Prepare yourself to see footage of flu-sickened children dying in the arms of their parents as they wait in line with hundreds or thousands of others in front of hospitals in affluent suburbs trying to get medical care. Prepare to see the parents themselves dying with their children in their arms. Prepare to see triage practiced by ambulance dispatchers as they decide whether to answer the call from another flu victim or the one from a heart attack victim or the victim of a violent crime. Prepare to see bodies stacked helter-skelter in random empty spaces because the morgues are filled to capacity and the gravediggers can't keep up with demand.

If you think this is overwrought, read a history of the last world-wide flu pandemic during the closing months of World War I. Then go to the Internet and read what the experts are telling us about the odds that we will be hit with such a flu pandemic, including the avian variety. Then read what they are saying about our unpreparedness to deal with such a pandemic. Then remember the blind incompetence shown just last week by the Bush administration in dealing with the PREDICTED Katrina. Then ponder the fact that finally transporting hundreds of thousands of people out of harms way is kindergarten stuff compared to dealing with a rapidly spreading virus that has no known cure.

Remind yourself of the price we paid for ignoring the experts' warnings about terrorist attacks and a hurricane roaring down on New Orleans.

Then remind yourself that a President who is himself an idiot, who appoints unqualified political cronies to critical agencies like FEMA and Homeland Security, and who never holds any of those cronies accountable for their proven incompetence, but demands only that they remain loyal to him--remind yourself that that President and those incompetents will be in power for another three years.

Put all this together, my friends, and conclude that a terrorist attack as the next mass killer of Americans may be the least of our worries.

Posted by: Marc Thomas | September 10, 2005 07:00 AM

If SARS or a influenza pandemic occurs, neither political party will be prepared. They don't care. Politicians have very short attention spans. If a danger is 2/5 years away, they'll sit on their hands -- as partisanship crapping is more fun (and gets theme re-elected).

If they cared they'd put zillions of dollars into the CDC (to fund their own disaster teams) and get a heck of alot more epidemlogists and place them everywhere in the US (like in the hospitals that are going to find and feel the first outbreaks).

That is the easy part. The hard part (remember New Orleans??) is when such an outbreak occurs, to get folks out of vector zones. In a real serious outbreak (like the major fear of airborne Ebola -- which the outbreak at Reston, VA showed is possible) if that occurs, the public will have to get used to civilians being shot dead for refusing to leave. Because it'll be a "Night of the Living Dead" reality if they stayed behind only to increase the vector zones, and they'll be dead anyway (easiest way to stop a pandemic is to let it die out. You can prolong the ineviable and let those die in the quarantine areas, or put them out of the misery with a bullet to the head. Ghoulish stuff, and why this generation of CSI and "reality TV" types can't face reality -- public health is to save the most, and if it takes letting the few that's infected die, that's the price to pay to live).

The public doesn't want to know of that type of pending doom, either. This is the same public that is saying to rebuild New Orleans and coastal regions to, wash, rinse, repeat disasters again.

[If you want to live until you're 90: don't become dependent on the government; don't run with the herd; and keep your eyes peeled for problems, and be prepared to personally solve them. Because you're on your own in this new disposible, expendable and selfish "I got to watch Sex in the City, and smoke my joint afterwards" society.]

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 10:13 AM

GEK complains about "the blame game". The reason for analysing the causes of a disaster is to remedy those causes -- so they don't happen again. Holland did this after the great North Sea floods of 1953 (caused in part by seawalls neglected during world War II). Now they are the world leaders in building and maintaining land below sea level. Take their advice when you rebuild - and maintain the levees to their exacting levels.
The first step in solving a problem is to define it. This in part is what is happening now after Katrina, but partisan politics is not enough. From the outside (a strategically useful place to be) the entire structure of the US government makes it too easy to give power to cronies and incompetents.
Something else to think about, and to give some small comfort. The reason the world is responding to your plight with so much compassion is not just because your highest levels of government are clearing incapable. It is also because people acknowledge that the real energy and vitality of the US has always been a fusion of black and white cultures. And in music art, and performance it has been black that has provided the impetus, especially New Orleans.
I doubt there would be a similar outpouring of grief at the plight of Akron Ohio if it was hit with a disaster on a smilar scale.

Posted by: Jo | September 10, 2005 05:41 PM

Now we are finally starting to get some answers. A long and fairly detailed article on what happened and when, and who knew what. My read is that the Governor of LA was a stubborn pinhead, the mayor didn't know what he was doing and never intended to follow the evacuation plan, FEMA and especially Homeland Security did not really have a grasp on how big a disaster this would be, and Bush was at fault for making a few poorly-considered statements. But, all-in-all, it looks like most of the blame lies at the local level. Link here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9286534/

Posted by: MikeK | September 11, 2005 05:31 AM


I found these on a blog (http://www.springerontheradio.com/story/2005/9/13/83445/9951)
Hope they all work.

FEMA won't accept Amtrak's help in evacuations
http://news.ft.com/cms/s/84aa35cc-1da8-11da-b40b-00000e..

FEMA turns away experienced firefighters
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/9/5/105538/7048

FEMA turns back Wal-Mart supply trucks
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/05/national/nationalspec..

FEMA prevents Coast Guard from delivering diesel fuel
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/05/national/nationalspec..

FEMA won't let Red Cross deliver food
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05246/565143.stm

FEMA bars morticians from entering New Orleans
http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=15147862&BRD=...

FEMA blocks 500-boat citizen flotilla from delivering aid
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/9/3/171718/0826

FEMA fails to utilize Navy ship with 600-bed hospital on board
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0509..

FEMA to Chicago: Send just one truck
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-050902dale..

FEMA turns away generators
http://www.wwltv.com/local/stories/WWLBLOG.ac3fcea.html

FEMA: "First Responders Urged Not To Respond"
http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=18470

Posted by: Kim | September 15, 2005 12:02 AM

Apparently, all that dreadful behaviour of so many people in New Orleans after the hurricane was simply "business as usual", except that other people could no longer turn a blind eye.

http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2005/s1459621.htm

Posted by: Kim | September 15, 2005 02:50 AM

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