Bush Takes Time Off From Vacation to Respond to Hurricane

A quick review:

Saturday: Katrina is a Category 3 hurricane. President Bush declares a state of emergency for Louisiana.

Sunday: It's becoming clearer by the minute that this hurricane is going to be big, big trouble. It has strengthened to Category 5 and covers a big chunk of the Gulf of Mexico. Traffic is jammed for miles as residents flee the coastal areas. The word "catastrophic" is being used without any trace of hyperbole.

Monday: The hurricane hits. Homes turn to rubble. Curtains billow out of skyscrapers' shattered windows. Streets flood. Millions lose power. Approximately 10,000 people are holed up in the Superdome, which is losing chunks of roof as the storm swirls. Police report looting in Gulfport. A break is found in a New Orleans levee. At least 50 are confirmed dead in Mississippi alone and the toll is expected to rise.

Tuesday: Two levees have been breached. Floodwaters force residents to take refuge on rooftops. Helicopter rescue crews are scouring neighborhoods for survivors. Looting spreads. The Superdome now holds 20,000 storm refugees. The governor says the stadium must be evacuated, but how exactly that will be accomplished remains a mystery. Roads and bridges are impassable. Death toll climbs above 100. President Bush selflessly decides to end his vacation.

A Washington Post editorial observes that Bush, "who has maintained his weeks-long holiday schedule without regard to the bloodshed in Iraq, is breaking off his summer idyll two days early to tend to the fallout from Katrina." That's right, Bush will depart from his Crawford, Tex. ranch on Wednesday instead of Friday as originally scheduled. Pleased as I am that he'll be back in town, I can't help but wonder why he didn't return to Washington over the weekend, the moment it became obvious that even the hurricane's best-case scenario would be a large-scale tragedy. (In his White House Briefing, Dan Froomkin lists some of the key questions surrounding Bush's vacation decision and the hurricane response in general.)

What do you think of how the administraton is handling the disaster? How about Congress? And if you're from one of the hurricane-affected areas, what are you hearing from your elected representatives in Washington? Tell me how you think the federal government is doing.

By Emily Messner |  September 1, 2005; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Beltway Perspectives
Previous: Hurricane Katrina: Going Overboard | Next: Hurricane Katrina:Terrorism! The View From Washington


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Thinking long term:

1. Did Bush really cut funding for Flood Control along the coast?

2. What percentage of the National Guard was in Iraq that otherwise could have been used for evacuation?

3. Should parts of the coast be rebuilt at all? It seems development has destroyed marshes and wetlands that are needed to naturally control these disasters.

4. Why did Bush turn down help from the Dutch who offered to send engineering help?

5. To what extent is this a 'natural disaster' that could not have been prevented or is it related to what we've been told to expect from global warming? Scientists have stated that the oceans will rise, and storms will become more violent because of global warming.

Posted by: pagcal | September 1, 2005 05:19 AM

Congress and the President are full of concerned platitudes after the fact. Who slashed the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for levees in New Orleans? Who sent homeland security money to Wyoming instead of the Port cities and oil refineries along the Gulf Coast? Who sanctioned the destruction of barrier reefs in the area? Who keeps us all secure in the pockets of Arab and Wall Street moguls instead of having us drive cars that get 230 miles per gallon? Who fiddles while New Orleans mourns? Tell me who?

Posted by: Joseph | September 1, 2005 06:38 AM

Already the Bush hater's are looking to blame the president for the effects of this natural disaster. It's easy to say, with hindsight, all the efforts that could have been taken before hand to reduce the magnitude of the effect of Katrina. But what everybody forgets is that there are countless potential natuaral disasters that could happen all over this country at any time. There simply does not exist the level of revenue to be able to prepare for all disasters in all places. Earthquakes and mudslides in Southern california, tornadoes in the midwest, ice storms in the NE, flooding along the Mississippi, hurricanes nearly anywhere in the southeast, there is no escaping them. We as a country, have developed all sorts of hazardous areas, and to expect any President to have the long range vision to know specifically where to invest ALL the $$"s in disaster prevention is just silly.

The question shouldn't be, why didn't this president specifically pour money into New Orleans, but rather, why did so many corporations place their businesses in such a dangerous place (the Gulf coast and the Port of New Orleans)? If it was for convenience, then with that comes risk. Stop the blame game and lets all help to put these people back on their feet.

Also, blaming the president for the storm, due to global warming is pretty hard to prove, as large destructive storms have always existed, and it's too soon in the statistical database to show that this storm was a direct effect of that.

Posted by: Andy | September 1, 2005 06:55 AM

Bush has completly lost touch with reality, its time to impeach him.

Posted by: jeff | September 1, 2005 07:04 AM

As of immediate relief efforts it seems as though our government is taking action right away. However, what boggles my mind is the idea that our government does not prepare our coastline states as well as they need to. For example, New Orealans is home to two main aspects: a whole lot of oil refineries for our nation and is also below sea level. Precautions should have been made earlier and our government should have taken action to do their best to weigh down the amount of tragedy that occurred. Congress as approved over $13.6 billion last year to cover the cost of four hurricanes. It seems as though Congress will debate once more on how much to give to the relief fund, estimates range in the tens of billions of dollars. Overall, our government missed a step...preperation. If the southern states would have gotten help from our government for exacuation and damage control, everything would have been running a lot smoother.

Posted by: Student in High School | September 1, 2005 07:14 AM

President Bush should have pulled the troops from Iraq a long time ago. Then we would have had troops staioned along our own gulf coast to fight off the Katrinas!

Posted by: Tommy Jefferies | September 1, 2005 07:16 AM

What I was looking for in Bush's latest speech was this, "Due to the immense damage and tragedy to the Gulf Coast I have decided to rescind the tax cuts and to channel all that money into rebuilding New Orleans and the coastline of Mississippi. This will happen immediately." Of course, that takes competant leadership, a quality this president will never be accused of.

Posted by: Mark Esposito | September 1, 2005 07:20 AM

I agree with Mark. Impeachment is ridiculous, and what would be the point of putting troops along the coast. That would only increase the death toll in my opinoin. Bush and our government is doing the best they can.

Posted by: Student | September 1, 2005 08:15 AM

I think it is counterproductive to start playing the blame game in the immediate aftermath of this disaster. There will be plenty of time for examination of what could or should have been done once the situation has been stabilized. Right now, it is important for everyone to unite to aide and support those who are suffering. Divisiveness does nothing to help the current situation.

Posted by: sharon | September 1, 2005 08:18 AM

I completley agree!!

Posted by: Student | September 1, 2005 08:22 AM

New Orleans was forced to suffer this calamity. I use 'forced to suffer' quite easily. One of the most amazing intreviews I saw in the last few days was the one last night with an officer from the Arny Corps of Engineers and Cynthia McFadded on ABC. Quite correctly, she asked him why the levees were built to withstand only a cat. 3 storm and not a cat. 5 storm.

His response was that in weighing the economics of building a better levee system: cost of the levees versus possible losses, the Army decided that it wasn't 'economically feasible' to build a better levee system. In other words, the untold thousands of lives to be lost were not worth the cost of protecting them. Why? The only realistic answer must be that the people who would be affected are almost universally poor, and yes, mostly of color. And since the poor are not politically connected and therefore, not politically valuable; they are disposable.

It would be hard for me to imagine such a decision being made if the residents of Beverly Hills or Westchester County or Shaker Heights or Palo Alto were the residents living in New Orleans. One can invoke race, but it is the poor who are the most downtrodden in this country. Look at the latest gov't stats. indicating that more people are poor; the rich have a bigger share of the pie, etc/, etc...

The simple fact is that everyone knew a hurricane of this strength was coming and the people who had the power to prevent the harm it could inflict chose not to do so. This was no 'natural disaster'; it was the result of plans made and executed by our government.
Decisions were made to save money- not lives.

Posted by: Tom Bokuniewicz | September 1, 2005 08:36 AM

To look for government blame in this is ridiculous. It is political sniping for no purpose other than to drum up emotional support for those opposed to the current administration. Let's look rationally at the points raised by the first poster.
Thinking long term:
1. Did Bush really cut funding for Flood Control along the coast?
Hind sight is 20/20. New Orleans was a disaster waiting to happen.
2. What percentage of the National Guard was in Iraq that otherwise could have been used for evacuation
What percentage of the available manpower was in Europe or the Pacific in 1944? The war against Islamic Extremism is existential, a hurricane is not
3. Should parts of the coast be rebuilt at all? It seems development has destroyed marshes and wetlands that are needed to naturally control these disasters.
I total agree with the premise of this question. The rebuild should focus on a much small area.
4. Why did Bush turn down help from the Dutch who offered to send engineering help?
First I heard of this.
5. To what extent is this a 'natural disaster' that could not have been prevented or is it related to what we've been told to expect from global warming? Scientists have stated that the oceans will rise, and storms will become more violent because of global warming
Global warming is a reality that is cyclical over very long time frames. To believe that humans are in control of it is the height of arrogance. Solar activity is increasing, the magnetic field of the Earth is changing, these all have a much greater effect on the global environment than do we humans.

Posted by: Steven Heath | September 1, 2005 08:43 AM

All of Bush's policies have come home to the full display of all. He has been slashing the budget that has anything to do with investing in out people or our instrastructure. Instead we pour 5$ billion a month into Iraq. Instead he gives our surplus (what surplus) to the top 1% of Americans. He cut the budget for the Army Corp of Engineers in New Orleans down more than half and more was on this round of budget attacks. At the same time he was calling to make the tax cuts permanent. Well taxes are how we protect and better our people. Our responsibility is to make sure the taxes are used wisely. But really folks what else would you expect from a rich oil man whose family historically has it's roots in oil and war machines. So disappointing.

Posted by: Patricia Meredith | September 1, 2005 08:52 AM

Let me play real cynic. Here is how to set the priorities for receiving federal aid, in descending order:
1. Traditional Democratic voters, who obviously recognize the need for a strong federal government committed to helping ordinary Americans.
2. Those who voted for John Kerry and other Democratic candidates in last year's elections.
3. Those who opposed George Bush's single-minded commitment to providing tax cuts for the wealthy.
4. Those who supported Bush's tax cuts.
5. Those who voted for Bush and other Republicans.
6. Traditional Republican voters.
7. All those residents of Louisiana and Mississippi who preach and listen to the gospel that the federal government is the source of all evil and that keeping it small and ineffective makes you a true blue American.
8. Those who believe that accepting federal aid means you are a deadbeat leech lacking in personal responsibility.

I mean, is it totally lost on Republicans that George Bush, and the Republican governors and Senators and US Representatives from Mississippi and LA., are having to eat a lot of crow these days over their constant bad mouthing of the federal government?
The media today are full of stories of how what is happening in New Orleans was predicted down to the last detail. The National Geographic and the New Orleans Times-Picayune, among others, presented the scenario years ago.

What was the Republican response, from George Bush and Congressional Republicans down to the Republican governors in LA and MS? Their heads remained firmly up their backsides. They made conscious, deliberate decisions that led directly to the relief disaster that is unfolding in front of our eyes. They gutted FEMA. They substituted a bureaucratic monster with the Homeland Security Dpt. They emphasized the terrorist threat to the virtual exclusion of preparedness for natural disasters. They cut the funds that the Corps of Engineers requested to shore up the New Orleans levies. They did all of this and more, while starving the whole federal government of funds needed to help average Americans, in order to feed tax cuts for the wealthy.

Look at those Americans lost on roof tops and aimlessly wandering the streets without food, water, shelter, or medical care. Now think of George Bush's endless refrain of ever more tax cuts for the already wealthy. How does he sound now?

The terrible thing is, the American people got exactly what they voted for. Want to know the really bad news? Yet another disaster is about to wash upon the shores of an America woefully unprepared to meet it, thanks to the misrule of George Bush and the Republicans. That's a pandemic flu epidemic, maybe its most virulent form, the Avian flu. Once more, the experts are telling us it's coming, and outlining the nightmare scenario that will inevitably unfold. Once more, George Bush and the Republicans put their heads firmly up their backsides and do nothing.

Posted by: Tom Barksdale | September 1, 2005 08:55 AM

I do not understand why everyone is so surprised at Bush's seeming insouciance in the face of this tragedy. This is precisely the same modus operandi he used after the attack on 9-11. His responses were delayed. Why? Because George W. Bush does not have a spontaneous bone in his body.

Look. Bill Clinton was superb in reacting to the tragedies that occurred on his watch because he was more of a representation of the ordinary people who are always impacted most by such awful events. Bush has never had to rub elbows with such people.

Bill Clinton lived among us, expereienced the same dysfuctions in his family that many of us have, experienced poverty and struggle, and generally had to work his way up throught it all. George W. Bush has lived his entire life in the same protective bubble he is living in now.

I am not saying this out of hate but mainly out of a sense of disgust at Bush and his aides as they react to events like this by trying to fabricate an image of Bush as being sensitive to the people most impacted by such events, when in fact he has no idea whatever of just how tough life can be for ordinary folk.

As equally disgusting is how every such event is reported on by the media from the vantage point of how does this all reflect on Bush or what is this likely to mean to Bush in terms of negative or positive political impact. Well, this isn't about George W. Bush and it irritates me to no end that the vast majority of the punditry treats it that way.

I have to wonder if we ever do have another liberal President, will CSPAN and other talk programs format their discussions centering on the obnoxious question of whether we support the President or the republicans.

Posted by: Gary Jackson | September 1, 2005 08:59 AM

Thank God for football! It has given Americans a connotation we all understand. Truly, we have become the are the greatest country of Monday morning quarterbacks that ever was!

Administrations, for a hundred years, have known that New Orleans was a disaster waiting to happen but Bush is the problem! He declared the national disaster before it happened, but waited for too much accurate information before commenting on it. The National guard should be there but they are engaged in Bush's war.

Had he personally dove into Lake Ponchatrain, with 500 Navy Seals, to save those in need, he would have been criticized for wasting airplane fuel.

The media will not ever give him credit when it is due.

What the media wants, he will not do ... bite his lower lip and make timely speeches that will assure him good results in the polls sure to follow.

Before he does anything, he wants the facts. Kind of how every leader should do things!

Posted by: Lewis Berman | September 1, 2005 09:00 AM

I want to know why bush didn't declare a national emergency when the levees first broke, and sent in military helicopters, coast guard boats to save these people.

Posted by: Abraham158 | September 1, 2005 09:04 AM

Homeland security is much more than dogs and men with machine guns patroling our airports. We must begin to focus on the needs of our poorest citizens and those who will have to choose between gas and food in the coming days. President Bush and the Republican Congress should stop cutting taxes for the lucky affluent and start paying attention to the desperation of our most vulnerable citizens who always take the brunt of natural disasters. They deserve to be secure at home too!

Posted by: P. S. Finkelman | September 1, 2005 09:15 AM

Someone suggested that Bush should rescind the tax cuts and dedicate that revenue to the relief effort. That is a great idea but it is not one that Bush would even allow to be discussed.

The truth is that Bush wants to dump all of the sacrifice on those that are least able to pay for such relief. The vast bulk of the cost for this relief is going to be add on spending which goes into the deficit to be paid for by borrowing which ultimately--at some point in the future--be paid for by tax increases on the middle class.

If you doubt me, I direct you to the unpleasant realities of who is paying for the cost of Iraq. Again, Bush is true to his class. He is pure in his dogmatic belief that if you comfort the already comfortable--even at the expense of afflicting the already afflicted--the economy will eventually grow sufficiently to lift all boats.

The sorrowful history in the application of this flawed supply side concept never seems to occur to ideological conservatives like Bush.

Posted by: G Jackson | September 1, 2005 09:18 AM

Posted by: christien | September 1, 2005 10:11 AM

The Washington Post and DN Froomkin are nothing more than political vultures, using this tragedy for their base political attacks. Federal assistance can't be made to magically appear if the transport system is out of commission. There isn't a dimes worth of differennce between Froomkin and the jackals looting New Orleans.

Posted by: Jeff Hutton | September 1, 2005 10:14 AM

To christien: excellent link.

Posted by: | September 1, 2005 10:21 AM

I actually heard our president say "nobody expected the levees to break." I couldn't believe my ears. Mr. President, many people expected the levees to break, but they were all scientists, so I guess that makes them nobodies. What's next, a suggestion, like the one you made after 9/11, that we all cheer up by taking our families to Disney World?

Posted by: P. Nichols | September 1, 2005 10:47 AM

If I were a sitting wartime president who just got a 45-percent approval rating in the latest poll, I might consider rebuilding New Orleans, Biloxi and Gulfport as a major legacy-buffing project. Which means a very worthwhile debate - whether to rebuild New Orleans on its current location at all - could just get pushed to the wayside altogether.

Maybe its absurd location - below sea level and surrounded by festering swamps, raging rivers rivers and a mercurial Gulf - was the cradle for all of New Orleans' eccentricities. It was a peculiar, beautiful, untamed and uninhibited place. Maybe they should rebuild it just so all of its wonderful characters don't wander off and blend in with the rest of us and disappear. Or maybe we shouldn't because it's a fool's errand to drain all that marsh, pack the region with infill and further erode the coastline.

Maybe this is all a little too poetical for inside the Beltway, but this is the issue that fascinates me the most.

Posted by: Susan W. | September 1, 2005 10:57 AM

The levees were expected to break.

Natural Hazards Observer
Vol. XXIX No. 2 November 2004
What if Hurricane Ivan Had Not
Missed New Orleans?

"What if Ivan Had Hit New Orleans?
New Orleans was spared, this time, but had it not been, Hurricane Ivan would have:

-Pushed a 17-foot storm surge into Lake Pontchartrain;

-Caused the levees between the lake and the city to overtop and fill the city "bowl" with water from lake levee to river levee, in some places as deep as 20 feet;

-Flooded the north shore suburbs of Lake Pontchartrain with waters pushing as much as seven miles inland; and

-Inundated inhabited areas south of the Mississippi River.
Up to 80 percent of the structures in these flooded areas would have been severely damaged from wind and water. The potential for such extensive flooding and the resulting damage is the result of a levee system that is unable to keep up with the increasing flood threats from a rapidly eroding coastline and thus unable to protect the ever-subsiding landscape.

Posted by: Joseph K. | September 1, 2005 10:58 AM

Well the Country Got what it voted for.
A Bankrupted Government, Tax Breaks for the Wealthy, Education, Social Programs and Projects funding cut, war in IRAQ (why has still not been answered), dissing of Environmental Issues and interntational politics that have doubled the price of gasoline, no response to major disasters such as 9/11, Sunami and Katrina. Most of the world angry at the USA.

Yet Terry Schaivo was important, Partial Birth Abortion was important, playing the ill defined pro life card that nobody seems to understand, attacking a country that did not attack us was important, fixing the software so election results cannot be verified was important, fixing the courts so that the (so called) conservatives have their way instead of a balanced logical Judiciary.

Just do not understand why people are still supporting this Regime that has told us we are a Republic and not a Democracy. Yet we are supposedly trying to create one in Iraq.

Whatever misteps Bill Clinton allegedly took the country was rocking and growing.

We have been fed out right lies and somehow half the country accepts them and voted for Bush,twice.. I do not get it.

But now the whole country is getting it, where we do not like it. YET the Bush Lovers are still promoting Bush.

Posted by: Dan Fahey | September 1, 2005 11:33 AM

I can't believe I just wasted time reading this blog.

Posted by: Janna | September 1, 2005 11:42 AM

The job of a leader is to for see possible troubles to come. The only thing this President can for see is more tax cuts for hie wealthy friends. Iraq, gas prices, lack of long term energy poicly [if he had declared a "manhatten Project" for energy independance at the start of his first term, we would be half way through our decade task]5 straight years of poverty increase and now total unpreparedness for a disaster in the gulf coast. Congratulations Mr. Bush, you can now go down officially as the worst president in the history of the United States. As the far right likes to say "God help us"
joe b

Posted by: joe b | September 1, 2005 11:50 AM

Janna: I can't believe I just wasted time reading your comment.

Posted by: Tim | September 1, 2005 11:57 AM

I think Ben Franklin said, "people get the government they deserve", if that is true it doesn't say much for us.

joe b

Posted by: joe b | September 1, 2005 12:03 PM

How are the Feds doing on Katrina?

1. Not getting a jump on mobilization during the weekend when it was obvious this was going to be a big one was a BIG mistake (but Dubyah needed his vacation).

2. Having some 1700 Louisiana National Guard in Afghanistan and Iraq depleted the first level response, heavily adding to the looting problem and reducing rescue efforts.

3. By stripping the Corps of Engineers of funds to upgrade the levees, the Feds directly contributed to the disaster; but Dubyah has to pay for his invasion somehow, doesn't he?

4. Bravado about rebuilding the devastated areas needs some rethinking; e.g., New Orleans is in an untenable geographical location -- even the levees sink!

Summary: in past natural storm disasters the first noticeable thing on TV was always the troops maintaining control, but not this one. Why? No troops. Whose fault? The Feds.

Posted by: Rick | September 1, 2005 12:04 PM

When I read the stuff posted by people like 'Janna', and 'Andy', I despair for this country. If our citizens would READ, not just listen to newcasts and talk shows, they would understand how the decision of this administration contributed to the disaster in the Gulf. The lies, the diversion of funds, our National Guard overseas...how can anyone possibly defend the decisions of this president? Or defend him personally? You cannot believe a word he says. WMD? Saddam and Al Quaeda? Oh please...

Posted by: Mary | September 1, 2005 12:06 PM

Why was there no effective evacuation plan for all of the poor people who had no transportation?

Why were they not loaded on to city buses and school buses and taken out of harms way?

Why were there traffic lanes open allowing people to enter N.O. as oppose to all lanes being used to let people out?

Where is the outpouring of help from Corporate America?

Why are the poor being shipped to the Astrodome? Are there no hotels anywhere (can our hotels and motels not give-up profits to help in this National Disaster)to place these refugees to help stablize their lives just a little bit?

When will we care about Working America as much as Corporate America or all the beautiful people in Hollywood?

Posted by: James | September 1, 2005 12:09 PM

I think this is terrible. I think its worse that because the military has its resources so taxed already, that the National Guard isn't here to be nationalized to assist with this tragedy. I think the biggest questions I have are as follows:
1) Why was air support with sandbags not readied in Texas and other staging areas to immediately fly in to seal any breached levees? Had they started to drop sandbags on the broken levees as they were discovered, the lake wouldn't have had 24 hours to erode down the 18ft. walls. (which made the patching impossible until the water level equalized anyhow). Having prevented this, of course, would help with the current situation--it's easier to evacuate a city that's only slightly flooded than a city totally flooded. So why were no preparations and no plan made for what the news cycle reported for 48 hours to be the very likely outcome of Katrina?

2) What should happen to New Orleans now? I've heard it suggested by the FEMA director that New Orleans should not be rebuilt. Yet the heart of New Orleans--the French Quarter--seems to be somewhat intact. I imagine the city would spring up around that, after all there are still government buildings, and the related jobs that will return to New Orleans. Therefore, I'd propose that once the city is drained and what can be salvaged (under heavy police and military patrol) is salvaged, they should bulldozer huge areas and fill it up to sea level or higher. Yes, this is a huge expense, but if people want to move back to New Orleans (and they will, imagine if this happened to the town your family had called home for generations), then we need to raise the level of the city so that this tragedy doesn't happen again.

Posted by: RustyI | September 1, 2005 12:18 PM

The Bush-lovers, like Bush himself, seem to think that if they admit any criticism of their Dear Leader and his minions, their whole reality will collapse...if someone with God so clearly on his side can make mistakes - well, that just throws everything into question, doesn't it?

What I know is that the horrifying words "typhoid" and "cholera" are now real possibilities in my USA - not just in Tamil Nadu. The Superdome is host to medieval chaos. Even the Bush-loving Fox News shows a woman with a 5-day-old baby stranded on a New Orleans overpass without food, water, or shelter. And we shouldn't play the "blame game?!" Excuse me, but where are the helicopters to airdrop water and food to such people, at a minimum? Who is coordinating, or rather, FAILING DISMALLY to coordinate relief efforts? Is it not that political shill called the "Homeland Security Agency," which castrated and threw into confusion all those boring taxpayer-funded "big guvmint" agencies like FEMA and the Corps of Engineers, who did their jobs well for decades?

The "reorg" represented by the HSA did not come out of nowhere. It was a Bush initiative. Anyone who has ever been through top-down corporate "reorgs" knows how they can throw companies into chaos, with lines of authority dissolved and important decisions in the hands of...nobody. Disaster relief is in the HSA's bailiwick. Anyone who looks at the outcomes in New Orleans and claims this administration has made us safer is really in denial. But then, those of us who did not vote for Bush in 2004 knew that already.

Posted by: Jill G. | September 1, 2005 12:32 PM

This is just more of the same ineptitude of management and lack of concern for the middle/lower classes. Bush has been a failure since the day he was born, and if only his daddy had let him fail and work it out on his own instead of bailing him out, time after time, we would not have this person who could not manage his way out of a wet paper bag.
Bush didn't cut his vacation short until someone told him to. Unfortunately as a U.S. President, when someone has to tell you how to think, because you can't do it on your own, you get people dying every minute in these situations. If we cannot handle a hurricane, how ready are we for terrorists. The national guard should have hit the New Orleans dome on day 1, except that they are so depleted from the Gulf War action and costs. The sad part is, most of these people probably never voted in the last election.

Unfortunately, this is only one in a series of more catastrophes and management failures by the Bushwacker Team.

Posted by: Stefan | September 1, 2005 12:43 PM

After several years of local officials begging for help and PREDICTING THIS bush refused and cut funds then said NOONE COULD HAVE PREDICTED THE LEVEES COULD BREAK sounds like NOONE COULD HAVE PREDICTED PEOPLE WOULD HAVE FLOWN PLANES INTO BUILDINGS although that was also predicted repeatedly in defense think tanks but was also intercepted in islamic chatter and al quada communiques

Posted by: dan patten | September 1, 2005 12:45 PM

Events like this are to some extent the result of the parochial two-party system that controls US politics which results in rational national priorities being subject to the relative power of local lobbying.
For example, this year Congress allocated $10 million for flood control in the New Orleans area, while it allocated $200 million to build a completely unnecessary bridge to an island with 50 inhabitants in Alaska. This is not unique to the Bush administration and certainly not an artifact of Republican machinations only, though it has risen to unprecedented levels under the current administration. Partisan blame-games are hence not realistic as a complete change of party-control would likely have had a similar result (with some Democratic local pet project replacing the Alaska infrastructure pork). Maybe the response would have been more competent and adequate than Bush's bungling, but that remains pure speculation.

As for the questions why substantial numbers of refugees are staying in sports-stadiums rather than being offered free hotel rooms etc., one can ask why the average American, with his flag hanging from his porch on a daily basis, doesn't take these people into his home instead. After all, a few tenthousand people are in theory easily absorbed in a 300 million person country. The answer is of course that the refugees aren't lower middle class families of three or four, but unseperable ghetto-style poor black families of 10 and up, with which most hotels would not want to confront their paying guests and most people wouldn't feel comfortable having in their home, certainly not for prolonged periods.

Posted by: Nico | September 1, 2005 01:16 PM

An elective war in Iraq, reconstruction funds looted by Halliburton et al, tax cuts for millionaires, tax breaks for corporations including obscenely profitable energy companies, massive pork barrel spending, huge "consulting" fees for administration apologists in the media -- these are the billions of dollars that could have been used to protect and rescue New Orleans. But hey, it's a city full of low-income African-Americans who don't vote Republican. No need to worry about them.

And they impeached Clinton for lying about his private life? When is America going to wake up? We're governed by criminals.

Posted by: dalloway | September 1, 2005 01:56 PM

This morning on Today show, Secretary of Homeland Security Chertoff had the gall to say:"The critical thing was to get people out of there before the disaster. Some people chose not to obey that order. That was a mistake on their part." Pass the buck. Pass it on to the poor and the people of color! Did Mr. Chertoff notice that most of the people left behind were the poor, the ill, and the homeless? Did he provide any means for these people to leave the city before the tragedy? I think not! Many of these people did not choose to stay behind. They did not have the means or money to leave. As one reporter in Tennessee noted yesterday, it was the end of the month and people were out of money. Some were trying to borrow money to buy gas get out. The Gov. ofLouisiana when posed with a similar question of why some people couldn't get out, stammered something about that they had provided the means, but lack of communication interfered. Lack of communication?? The entire country knew a storm of horrible consequences was approaching. What did Chertoff, et.al, think would happen to those people left behind, not by choice, but by the circumstances of their poverty and conditions? We are beginning to see the start of the cover-ups. We see how the "rescue" angle is being played up. But that isn't going well. It is too late for many who could have been saved before hand. Maybe if they had been white and affluent..........

Posted by: Phyllis | September 1, 2005 02:34 PM

A shocking, shameful dereliction of leadership at all levels from the top down. Why was Bush playing a guitar while lives were hanging in the balance? Where's Cheney? Where's the National Guard? Where's the massive Berlin Airlift operation necessary to save tens of thousands of lives in New Orleans? Shocking. Shameful.

Posted by: Lloyd Richards | September 1, 2005 02:41 PM

What a lot of people don't realize about New Orleans is that it didn't have it's horribly unsafe geography when it was built. It was around sea level then, but the weight of development on poor soil has caused it, over hundreds of years, to gradually and continually sink. There is no easy fix for that. Even if you jacked up all the buildings to sea level and filled in underneath them, they would gradually sink back under sea level.

New Orleans also cannot be abandoned. It's a huge port on the mouth of the Mississippi, a natural place for seagoing vessels to bring goods to be distributed deep into America, or to pick up outgoing goods. There has to be a city there for that, even if for no other reason, and businesses need to be there. It's a civic engineering problem on a large scale, and I don't know of any easy answers. Dykes on a scale used by the Dutch are extremely expensive, and still face the problem of the city continuing to sink after they would be built. Disaster relief is for today, but answering this problem is for next month, before we start building ourselves up for a repeat of this in a couple years.

Posted by: Brian | September 1, 2005 02:51 PM

It is good to see that Bush cut short his vacation - all those millionaires who lost their oil rigs, it's so heart-wrenching.

Posted by: Chris | September 1, 2005 03:06 PM

Without wanting to sound too simple, or partisan...when this was seen last week as a potential disaster of huge magnitude, why was the federal government so woefully unprepared? (I know FEMA has been gutted by DHS) This should have been the chance to really test our response systems to a large-scale attack, and perhaps it was: in which case, we're screwed, big time. I guess one can fault Bush for not being concerned, and again for being clueless with his the levee comment, but really the fault lies with the DHS for the lack of preparation and lack of quick response. The shameless political infighting and power consolidating that this administration is so good at has I'm afraid, finally come home to roost.

Posted by: tom | September 1, 2005 03:17 PM

The tragedy unfolding in New Orleans was wholly preventable. Scientists knew for years that a direct hit by a category 5 hurricane on the mouth of the Mississippi could destroy the Big Easy. Katrina seemed like it might do the trick. So what was the response of government officials? Evacuation orders were given, but no thought seems to hvae been expended on the thousands with no means to evacuate. Michael Chertoff's assessment on NBC's Today show that "some people chose not to obey that (evacuation) order...that was a mistake on their part" reveals the disconnect between this administration and reality. The buses used to remove refugees from the Superdome would have been better used to evacuate the poor before the hurricane hit. Sadly, it is always the poor and weak in our nation that are left to suffer needlessly. That is the real priority of this administration.

Posted by: Ed | September 1, 2005 03:22 PM

I am simply stunned by the blind faith in our President that many of my fellow conservatives seem to cling to. In my mind, one of the most attractive facets of conservative ideology is an insistence on ACCOUNTABILITY. Yet I am dismayed that so many other Republicans seem to feel that accountability only applies to those of the other political stripe.

Personally, I'm disgusted by this administration's response to this developing tragedy. I nearly hurled my breakfast when I heard the President say "nobody expected the levees to break." This catastrophe has been predicted for YEARS. The buck stops with you, Mr. President!

Posted by: Clark | September 1, 2005 03:23 PM

We can't be surprised at all this. Bush has not made one single correct (humanitarian, ecologically sound, scientific, etc., etc.) decision in his entire term in office. Every time there were two ways to go on an issue, he picked the one that infuriates, dehumanizes, and debilitates at least half this country. Wait, there was that turkey at Thanksgiving.

God save those poor souls in New Orleans and Biloxi. We know that Bush won't.

Posted by: Karen | September 1, 2005 03:27 PM

As a Washingtonian and contractor who has worked for FEMA I am FLOORED at the woefully inadequate response to this disaster. Local reports say no one knows what's going on, no help has arrived, and people are still sitting on rooftops days after the storm left. A look at the DHS website today shows only a smattering of relevant information about the disaster. I wonder what the impact was of Washington's "sleepy August" atmosphere? They knew the storm was coming, okay, they might have miscalculated the impact, (but should have known by Sat/Sun), but where the heck are all the resources? The president's arrogance makes me want to throw up on a NORMAL day, but to make a fuss of shortening his ostentatiously long vacation short two days and then to lambaste the people left in the city and tell them to behave without any aid, resources, law enforcement, or information?!?! What a horribly misguided way for our "leader" to think! I think it is the same mindset of detachment (of not really thinking of his "subjects" as humans equal to himself) that let him take 8% of the year off in one fell swoop while his failing military plans in Iraq were sending poor and middle-class boys and girls home in bodybags.

Posted by: Lakat18 | September 1, 2005 03:58 PM

The front page of dhs.gov features press releases entitled "Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative Formally Submitted for Public Comment" and "U.S. Department of Homeland Security Awards 130 Scholarships and Fellowships to Undergraduate and Graduate Researchers" not very relevant to this enormous disaster. DHS's emergency preparedness website ready.gov is completely static, no information about current events. FEMA's website has more information, but also broken links.

Posted by: Arlington | September 1, 2005 04:09 PM

It's *Thursday* and I'm wondering why I have yet to see the video of a helicopter lowering water to folks at the Super Dome. If we can't take care of our Gulf Coast, how can we even think that helping Iraq to become a nation is within our capability?

Posted by: Dennis | September 1, 2005 04:14 PM

Our hearts go out to the residents of New Orlans. We just hope the Federal Governmemt turns a leaf and gives the disaster the attention and resources so desperately needed. But from a distance its easier to take a longer term view. Mr Bush & co are said to be spending US$5 billion a month on their military adventure in Iraq (apart from numerous other military adventures in dozens of other countries around the World). I guess it would not have taken many months of that kind of spending to raise New Orleans flood defences from the Catagory 3 storm level it has to the Cat 5 level many had said it should have. US military spending and overseas military interventions have been steadily increasing over the past several decades. The big question for me, and I think many around the World, is when will the US electorate learn anything about choosing presidents who care more about them than about the military and the arms industry behind it?

Posted by: Richard (in Europe) | September 1, 2005 04:26 PM

President Clinton provided financial resources to strengthen those levees in his budget and Bush reduced them as soon as he got into office. He has done the same thing respecting FEMA, effectively dismantling it and absorbing it into other agencies. There are numerous other examples where he eviscerated excellent directives that Clinton made i.e. National Parks. Why casn't people see that his administration doesn't serve the national interest.

Posted by: howard beardslee | September 1, 2005 04:29 PM

Our Administration's response is catastrophic. They knew that at least 20% of the population could not escape. It is exactly as if those of us who are not rich are in the same straits as those from a third world country. Thee response to this disaster has been no response.

Posted by: Julie Jasper | September 1, 2005 04:32 PM

30% of my salary gets cut off for taxes. I would like to see that money invested in the reconstruction of New Orleans, and not in the destruction/reconstruction of Irak.
Either we like it or not, we bankrolled the invasion of Irak, and as soon as it started President Bush proposed a $401.7 billion budget for the Defense Department (see http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/04/21/congress.iraq/)
Now, "only" $10 billion are subject to be approved to go to Louisiana.
I hope everything will work for the best, and perhaps everything will work out faster if our priorities were different.

Posted by: Holly from MD | September 1, 2005 04:53 PM

I was wondering when someone would make the analogy to Nero's fiddling while Rome burned. As an American living overseas, I watched the news with British friends, who remarked, 'What is Bush grinning about?' There he was, full of fill-in-the-blank platitudes, with a smile on his lips the entire time and an outright grin as he reached his 'we will prevail' moment. With oil prices skyrocketing, guess he and his daddy and all their Saudi friends do have a lot to grin about. I just wonder - how much is it going to take before we've all finally had enough of Bush and his courtiers?

Posted by: daftyank | September 1, 2005 05:06 PM

Perceptions. It could mean the difference between hope and despair. So far, government at all levels (federal, state, and local) has appeared overwhelmed by the disaster in the wake of the hurricane. The best quote of the day came from a man in New Orleans who plaintively asked, "You can do everything for other countries but you can't do nothing for your own people?..."; how true. Unfortunately, this awful tragedy is also a wake-up call to all ordinary Americans: four years after 9/11, the rosy pronouncements and fancy color-coded terror alert systems, government from top to bottom is not ready to deal with large emergencies, plain and simple. That should give all of us something to think about...

Posted by: robbie1kenobe | September 1, 2005 05:11 PM

please stop using our situation to advance your ideologies. it's really inappropriate.

Posted by: christien | September 1, 2005 05:24 PM

to christien:
it is absolutely appropriate to advance ideologies and opinions. Precisely because our situation is a byproduct of our idelogies.

Posted by: Ryan | September 1, 2005 05:41 PM

What would you have us all do, Christien? How many words should we scour out of the theosaurus to express our emotions? Every single person on this blog feels helpless and horrible about a tragedy on this scale. If we could, we'd all jump in our helicopters and lift those stranded to safety or airlift water and food. If we had helicopters. We don't. We have words, and anger and a need to make sense of why this happened. We all felt safe and just a little smug after the tsunami halfway around the world that so many died because they didn't have all the high tech warning systems and the infrastructure and the know-how we did. So it's a legitimate response: Why are so many Americans dead now? Why can't we get our act together and help the survivors? We elect our leaders to represent our best interests and our welfare. (Sorry, is 'welfare' one of those dirty words these days, like 'liberal'?) Inappropriate? When our leaders are failing us, we have a right and duty to demand why. Maybe a huge shout of outrage might be enough to get them off their golf carts and their bikes and do their real jobs, for a change.

Posted by: daftyank | September 1, 2005 05:42 PM

ryan, you're right. i have a problem with the daftyanks of the world. he's just bashing. my comment was too general. i'm going through this and i know what the people removed from their homes are thinking. they're not focused on past issues or bashing political leaders we don't like. we have to the best we can with what we have. if you want to get the country's resources focused on impeachment instead of this relief effort, then in my opinion, your priorities are out of whack. read my blog post above. this is what our city is thinking.

Posted by: christien | September 1, 2005 06:09 PM

What is just infuriating to me is the sheer lack of accountability of this government - on ALL levels and stations, in every capacity. We all know why New Orleans is descending into lawlessness at this very moment...there are simply not enough local, National Guard troops present to secure the area. Desperate people needing food and water have nowhere to go except into rapidly emptying stores and markets; the tiny minority of armed looters are having their way with the city right now.

And where are the troops whose job it is to protect their community? Through no fault of their own, half a world away. Why? Because even though they didn't attack us, even though there was and is no realistic contingency plan beyond a few months, even though humans are dying each and every day, American, Iraqi, British, Turkish, you name it -

We must "stay the course".

It all goes back to Bush and the policies he pursued from day one in office. Again, I ask - where is the accountability? Why is no one saying, "Enough!"

There is nowhere for the people in New Orleans to go right now. No solution on the horizon. No job to return to. No families to hold on to. No food, water, sanitary living conditions. No sane person lays causing natural events at politicians' feet, but I can and do state that the government, for YEARS and in particular since Bush took office, had more than ample warning of what could happen to New Orleans. Yet of course - since the scientists weren't toting intelligent design nobody could be bothered. However,the deaths in Iraq, our unnecessary presence in a country we weren't asked to interfere with, the draining of resources and manpower - that I can, I will, lay at the feet of the current administration, so eager to lay the blame, so reluctant to take it. And the country has every right to do so.

But you know, Bush decided to cut his vacation two days short. What a great guy he is, after all.

Posted by: Mary | September 1, 2005 06:39 PM

If this disaster had happened in the Dallas area do you think there would have been a different level of concern and preparation from the Bush Administration. Wanna bet!!!!

Posted by: Bill D | September 1, 2005 06:39 PM

If George Bush can raise $2 million at the drop of a hat while on "vacation" at Crawford. Why can't he lean on these same influence peddling fat cats to pony up for these disaster victims instead of trying to lean on the poor and middle class as usual.

Posted by: DEVLIN | September 1, 2005 06:44 PM

Regarding the leveees, I learned today that due to technology, levees in the United States can only be built to uphold only a category three storm...I hope that will change.

Posted by: vybezirie | September 1, 2005 06:49 PM

While 9-11 was a despicable event with almost 3 thousand lives lost, it is going to be like a neighborhood car accident in comparison to the loss of life and human suffering from Katrina. $10 billion is an insulting and despicable pittance compared to what we are spending in Iraq to suppos3edly make us safer. Does anyone outside the White House really believe we will be safer. We are in for riots and all sorts of mayhem as a result of this Bush incompetence in handling this disaster.

Posted by: Anacortes | September 1, 2005 06:52 PM

Frankly we'd all be a lot better off if Bush just stayed on vacation.

Posted by: Gus | September 1, 2005 07:56 PM

I completely agree that now is not the time to point fingers - it's time to focus on the victims and their needs. My God, never in a million years would I have wanted to have to hear scientists say "I told you so" about the New Orleans levees - not when something could have and should have been done long ago. Nor do I want to now. But even if I say nothing about the lies and backwards policies perpetrated and encouraged by this administration, the facts remain. The responsibility remains. And soon, it should be high time for Washington to assume it. But not now. Not until some measure of peace and hope can be extended to all of our fellow Americans in need, without lives, without purpose. Until we can show them what "moral values" really mean - something the Republican party unfortunately can no longer claim as their own territory. I feel so petty mouthing off about a stupid political party, but as a Democrat I guess it's the byproduct of five years of being told I have no values, no conscience, no patriotism and no common sense. There comes a point, and I truly believe America - red and blue - may have finally reached it.

Posted by: Mary | September 1, 2005 07:57 PM

I'm waiting to hear about Dubya and Cheney putting the bite on their great friends like the Saudis, and other coutries who are reaping billions. A few billion from each of them would not hurt them at all and would go a long way toward funding the aftermath of Katrina. This is Bush's and Cheney's chance to show us how important they are.
And maybe a few billion from the major oil companies would look good, too. {Chance to get those poll numbers up, huh?}
What an opportunity!!!!

Posted by: Liz | September 1, 2005 08:24 PM

How could the federal government drop the ball so badly on relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina? Where was George Bush? Why was his first response to ask for private and corporate donations, and to bring former Presidents Clinton and Bush together to go out and raise money? This is why we pay taxes, and why we have a federal government -- to help American citizens in times like this! At the same time the federal government has been clamping down on American's civil rights to "protect" us from a supposed threat from terrorism, the government is unable to get food and water to tens of thousands of Americans who are literally dying in New Orleans. Where are our national guard troops -- Iraq? Where have the billions of dollars gone which will be needed to reconstruct New Orleans and the Gulf coast? Iraq! Let's cut our losses, get out of Iraq, and help out own people here at home.

Posted by: Deano | September 1, 2005 09:18 PM

As much as I'd like to blame George Bush and his ilk for the lack of preparedness for a disaster of this magnitude, the elements have been in place for years. Louisiana has been begging for help for many years, through administrations and legislatures both Democrat and Republican. But playing the blame game won't help the victims of this hurricane. Only swift and immediate action by all segments of society can provide the assistance so desperately needed. I do not doubt that the American people will open their homes, hearts and wallets to the victims; what I do doubt is that the leadership to guide and coordinate this effort exists. We shall certainly see in the weeks and months to come.

Posted by: Groucho | September 1, 2005 10:44 PM

A national disaster that magically awarded this President any shred of leadership credibility in his first term will be dwarfed by this fresh disaster that will bring him and his cronies down. Can he now be properly be dubbed "Our Disaster President"?
Hey, Where is Halliburton this week... enroute to the Gulf Coast or still waiting at the White House to get their no-bid reconstruction contract inked?
on the contract?

Posted by: Steve Provence | September 1, 2005 10:53 PM

I'm not naturally a derisive person but I've just been watching your leader's response to this awful national disaster.

He sounds as much use as a one-legged man in an arse-kicking contest

Posted by: Tomas - Australia | September 1, 2005 11:26 PM

"What do you think of how the administraton is handling the disaster? How about Congress? "

not much

Posted by: | September 2, 2005 03:05 AM

I'm going to be brief. President Bush cares more about Iraq than he does the American people. He cut the portion of the budget allocated for disasters and emergencies in favor of more funds for the "war on terror" and "homeland security". He's slashed the FEMA budget and our much needed guard troops are fighting in a war that has become another "Vietnam". And in the days leading up to the Hurricane when meteroligists warned us all of the impending devastation, Bush was at his TX ranch taking naps and reading. Is it because those most affected are poor and black? I guess he only cares if those affected are his rich white constituents. Otherwise, it's fend for yourself. I don't think we'll ever understand what goes on in that empty space between his ears.

Posted by: Leslie Henry | September 2, 2005 03:16 AM

At the risk of annoying my honourable friend Christien again, I've got an idea - since it has become so incredibly, painfully, shamefully apparent that the American government is incapable of dealing with the Katrina catastrophe, and since there's a long, historical connection between France and New Orleans (half of Louisiana still speaks French), maybe France could send all the military personnel they weren't willing to sacrifice in Iraq on the alter of counter-terrorism to help N'Oreans. As a former resident of France, I know that whatever political squabbling they traditionally love to indulge in, this is the land of the TGV - the French do know how to get things done, efficiently and fast. Think of the benefits! The levees could be rebuilt now, the pumping stations reactivated. They could quickly provide shelter and food and water and sanitation for those stranded in the drowned city, rebuild roads, rail tracks, electrical power stations! The French would be heroes! And those Americans who've never stepped foot outside their own parish will see there is a whole world of other people willing and able to help, the same way we've sent Americans to help those in trouble around the world in the past. The whole country would see a military doing something other than killing and being cannon fodder! International tension between France and the US would ease considerably, and we could stop being so silly about 'Freedom Fries'.
Of course, it will never happen - to accept this kind of aid from the French, or anyone else, would be far too politically damaging to Bush and the neoCons, an admission they've squandered our military, our economy, and our prestige on a miserably failed political ideology. Like every other opportunity this administration has wasted since 9/11, and the people and the future of N'Orleans will continue to suffer. Perhaps blame isn't helpful at this moment in time, but if pointing fingers and screaming is what it takes to spur our government into getting off their dithering asses and get help to the people of New Orleans, I'm happy to yell until I'm hoarse.

Posted by: daftyank | September 2, 2005 03:22 AM

The same poor planning, penny pinching, and inability to learn from the past that caused the mess in Iraq after an unnecessary war has put millions of people in the Hurricane affected states at jeopardy. Unfortunately, it is what I have come to expect from an inept, big business oriented, non-scientific administration. Perhaps the fundamentalists are right, evolution is a false theory and intelligent design proves the design was not so intelligent after all.

Posted by: vacatlady | September 2, 2005 03:46 AM

I want to express my sympathy, support and shock to all Americans in peril now because of this terrible disaster! I also would like to apologize for the slow offer to help by the German government (only yesterday) and hope you will get at least as much support from Europe as the Tsunami victims in Asia.
(I really do not understand, why your president declined those offers for support already. It is not a shame to accept help from a friend.)
However, I believe you will handle this in the end. And I hope, next time you (and the rest of the world) will get somebody who is up to job at the top.

Posted by: Atan | September 2, 2005 05:29 AM

Oh, my goodness - did he really decline international aid? Please, please tell me it's just a rumour. I've staunchly opposed Bush from the minute he stole the election but I can't bear to think that he would actually turn down assistance we so obviously need!

Regarding the international take on thinks, I've had to refer to BBC and the Times websites, CNN is no help whatsoever.

For what it's worth, thank you for the kind words. We in unaffected regions feel so helpless and silly, blabbing away on blogs and in conversation while tens of thousands and more are have literally nothing. There's a casual friend of mine who moved to N.O. several years ago and we never did keep in touch. I hope she's ok.

Posted by: Mary | September 2, 2005 08:19 AM

We have failed the city of New Orleans!That's right. We have failed tremendously! And the current administration should carefully examine their "unadequate" response to this human tragedy. I really hate to give a political spin to this issue, however, I believe that our President is doing a dismall job in the recovery efforts of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. First of all, every single federal emergency agency in the country should've known that once this hurricane was upgraded to category five, the gulf coast would've suffered a terrible hit.Food, water, medical supplies and shelter should've been waiting already for the residents in neighboring states. The President should've been already in the White House directly overseeing the response efforts. There is no excuse for that.

I honestly hope that someone would inquiry about the levees that gave out to the force of the water. It would be interesting to know how much money was put aside for the maintenance of these levees over the years. I honestly believe that somehow, someone, somewhere didn't pay enough attention to the readiness of these levees.

Posted by: Katina | September 2, 2005 10:28 AM


Posted by: KELLY | September 2, 2005 11:01 AM

The more I watch this disaster continue, the distraugt I get for our entire country. I am now so embarrused and ashamed, that we as a noble courty, have twice elected G W Bush.

joe b

Posted by: joe b | September 2, 2005 11:28 AM

So, the world's only superpower can't take care of it's own. We spend billions as a so-called nation at war, create a Dept of Homeland (In)Security, and now it is revealed that all of that has been a complete waste of taxpayer dollars. This is not only a national disgrace, it is an international embarrassment. Not only can we not control Iraq, we can't even control the aftermath of a predicted natural disaster. I agree that Bush is the worst president in U.S. history and the Republican controlled congress is complicit. It is time to place blame - leaders need to be held accountable for their actions. It's time to toss the bum and the bums out.

Posted by: LW | September 2, 2005 12:16 PM

We are simply reaping what we sow as a society. Yes, of course natural disasters are inevitable and beyond our control. However, when people gamble on building and living in what essentially constitutes a below sea-level 'bowl,' and when our leaders (not just Bush, of course) fail to adequately invest in protecting such areas and the American people fail to insist upon that protection, this type of catastrophe is inevitable. This was not a question of 'if,' but 'when.' No one should be surprised, and now, sadly, we will all feel the consequences in a variety of ways.

Posted by: bethesda, MD | September 2, 2005 12:45 PM

Perhaps the Federal Government will accept Canada's offer of assistance. If we could get Canada to supply the medications for all the folks who now have no resources we would save a bundle in prescription drug costs!

Posted by: Robert Graham | September 2, 2005 01:40 PM

Every school in Louisiana that was not damaged represents an asset that has shelter, a commercial kitchen, toilet facilities, and showers (Jr and Sr. High Schools). How many school buses are there in Louisiana that have not yet been enlisted in the evacuation effort? How many public schools have been converted to shelters? How many Churches have been converted to shelters. I would hope that someone at the State level is working on this but I have not seen much evidence of an organized plan. Has the Governor of Louisiana yet told people where they should go if in need of shelter? People are being turned away from the Astrodome.

Posted by: Robert Graham | September 2, 2005 01:48 PM

Twice Bush selected political chums with no experience in disaster relief to head FEMA. Political patronage ahead of all else. He rewards incompetence with medals and promotions. I don't get it! He goes for the briefest of briefings and avoids newspapers and meetings with anyone that might challenge his thinking. No wonder he makes idiotic claims... no one had any idea that the levees could break. I'm an ordinary Californian but I knew it. He is too busy in his coccoon" leading a balanced life" to be a world leader. His career choice should have been to cut brush and get lots of rest. The nation will pay a huge price for a generation. We fell for a familiar name and "I'm just folks like you".

Posted by: Sharon | September 2, 2005 02:35 PM

One of the most critical figures in the New Orleans disaster has now made one of the most assinine comments of the week: ""This is a national disgrace," New Orleans' emergency operations chief Terry Ebbert said Thursday. "We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims, but we can't bail out the city of New Orleans."

The man seems to forget that the Tsuname waters were gone long before the first aid workers showed up to provide assistance. In New Orleans the Levees reportedly didn't break until Tuesday morning. Those flood waters are not only the source of a large part of the misery, they are the same thing that is preventing aid from getting to those who need it. The man just doesn't get it. In the midst of this crisis he should be the calm one providing clear oversight instead he is making irresponsible accusations that are simple bull.

Posted by: Gary | September 2, 2005 03:22 PM

Just as individuals have karma, so do the collective groups known as nations. This is clearly another manifestation of the bad national karma we've accumulated from the Iraq war and other international crimes of the present administration. What goes around always comes around. Sometimes twice as hard.

Some might say that Bush himself was the nation's karma. You know the saying: We get the leaders we deserve.

We need to turn this tide by practicing random acts of kindness everywhere we turn. To the hurricane victims, to everyone.

Love thy neighbor as thyself.

We need to cultivate a culture of giving and helping -- and not just rich people through tax breaks.

Posted by: | September 2, 2005 03:32 PM

Just as individuals have karma, so do the collective groups called nations. This is clearly another manifestation of the bad national karma we've accumulated from the Iraq war and other international crimes of the present administration. What goes around always comes around. Sometimes twice as hard.

Some might say that Bush himself was the nation's karma. You know the saying: We get the leaders we deserve.

We need to turn this tide by practicing random acts of kindness everywhere we turn...to the hurricane victims, to everyone.

Love thy neighbor as thyself.

We need to cultivate a culture of giving and helping -- and not just rich people through unfairly tilted tax breaks.

Posted by: brad | September 2, 2005 03:35 PM

This is the time to start showing some spine:
1. Impose a 50% windfall tax on the profits of the oil corporations. It would be enough to pay for all the reconstruction of the south.
2. Raze New Orleans and make it a National Park.
3. Start building an off-shore port on pilons in front of the former New Orleans.
4. Build a caseway to carry transportation (highway and rail) and pipelines to a new industrial center at least 100 miles inland and 300 feet above sea level.
5. Build a turistic resort in the place of the former french quarter, Venice-like.
6. Build a new Commercial City to relocate the business from the former New Orleans.

The country won't have the guts to do it.
So, people of New Orleans, leave now and don't look back.

Posted by: Rommeytx | September 2, 2005 03:55 PM

straight from oxford american dictionary.republic-a country in which the supreme power is held by the people or thier elected representatives,or by an elected or nominated president,ie-republic of china.republican-of or like or advocating arepublic. democracy-goverment by the whole people of a country,especially through represenatives whom they elect,a country governed in this way.-we the people,for the people,by people

Posted by: average,joe | September 2, 2005 04:47 PM

As sad as all of this is, perhaps this will bring down Bush- a person who has done more damage to the world since Hitler. He has destroyed what used to be a great nation in the world, and caused much hatred on many levels. Finally Americans are getting out of their SUVs and fast food selfish lives and starting to pay attention to all the horrible things this man has done. Congress is too scared for their own selves to impeach this guy, but we can only hope that impeachment comes soon before more destruction is done to the world.

Posted by: bob | September 2, 2005 09:14 PM

well, i just received my confirmation to what i have been saying on this blog. i couldn't believe my ears when i heard it, but it reflects what i said on my blog. our leadership is lacking but it's our governor not the president that is responsible for most of the blame. our mayor is one of the ones calling the shots and the only one to express passion about the situation and he's not blaming it on race but poor decision making. for federal troops, the state has to request them. our governor waited till Wednesday! this is the problem. now we have NOPD turning in their badges b/c it's seen as hopeless.

btw, all of those like the speaker of the house and rommeytx, you're not helping. we can talk about alternatives for new orleans after this is cleaned up. i guarantee you if the san andreas fault knocks out a chunk of CA, you won't be talking about flattening and making it a national park and displacing all those people around the world.

this is what i said about leadership if you missed it:

headed to baton rouge...trying to get closer

Posted by: christien | September 2, 2005 10:55 PM

Wisdom out of the mouth of babes.

It seems that the only worthy commenter here listening to is the high school student.

Maybe our country still has a future, yet.

Posted by: EchoMike66 | September 3, 2005 02:09 AM

Yo, America,
Are you tired of this shit yet? You can do something about it in one year (gas will be $5 a gallon). Vote Bush out. You voted him in now vote him out. Or get a bike, stupid.

Posted by: tom cook | September 3, 2005 02:53 AM

Tom Bokuniewicz,

One thing about US disaster prepareness: unlike in Japan, the US has a destroy/repair mentality with disasters. In Japan buildings are made to withstand direct earthquake hits, as to them the economics of repairing/rebuilding would be too expensive than just starting from scratch with the best built.

The US doesn't have this mentality, it'll just rebuild the oceanfront properties; build under sea level buildings; patch the levees; continue to erode the flood plains; and wait for the next disaster to come.

Now for everyone, poor and rich alike: how much more will the insurance industry will be willing to pay for rebuilding flood and wind damaged property build too close to the water or below sea level (and how much more will everyone be willing to handle higher premiums for the few)? How much more expensive will it be to live anywhere near the the ocean or gulf? This is something that isn't being talked about now (that in rebuilding New Orleans, can the poor who lost homes can ever afford living in the newly build ones?). Economic segregation is well known in the South, I just wonder if Gov. Perry's offer to take the poorest New Orleans residents were a way to clear out New Orleans of the poorest, so the richest can live in their million dollar condos. Same for Gulfport and Biloxi as well. It looks ugly, but any state willing to take a tax burden there has to be some payback somewhere -- for they'll overstay their welcome, and class strife could ensue as memories of the disaster fade.

We're watching more than just a disaster. We're watching a bit of Americana going extinct -- as the money won't be there to fully recover. Look at the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew for a clue.


Posted by: SandyK | September 3, 2005 05:49 AM

Elsewhere in the WP we can read a real good analysis of the immediate situation. Here I just bring some portions:First they have to pump the flooded city dry, and that will take a minimum of 30 days. Then they will have to flush the drinking water system, making sure they don't recycle the contaminants. Figure another month for that.
The electricians will have to watch out for snakes in the water, wild animals and feral dogs. It will be a good idea to wear hip boots and take care of cuts and scrapes before the toxic slush turns them into festering sores. The power grid might be up in a few weeks, but many months will elapse before everybody's lights come back on.
By that time, a lot of people won't care because they will have taken the insurance money and moved away -- forever. Home rebuilding, as opposed to repairs, won't start for a year and will last for years after that.
Even then, there may be nothing normal about New Orleans, because the floodwater, spiked with tons of contaminants ranging from heavy metals and hydrocarbons to industrial waste, human feces and the decayed remains of humans and animals, will linger nearby in the Gulf of Mexico for a decade.
Before anything meaningful could happen in New Orleans, engineers had to figure out how to shore up two breaches in the city's fabled levees, then pump the flooded city dry -- a process that Maj. General Don T. Riley of the Army Corps of Engineers said would take a minimum of 30 days.
Pumping, Riley said, is a question of having electric power. The Corps would provide two generators, he added, but he could not say when they would arrive. Entergy, the local power company, said its crews are working, but only in "accessible" areas, of which New Orleans had few -- because of the flooding.
Having electricity will also be critical to restoring drinking-water and wastewater treatment. L.D. McMullen, chief executive and general manager of the Des Moines Water Works, described a "three-step process" to restore his plant. It was submerged in 1993, when the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers overflowed their banks.
The key, he said, is to keep contaminated water out of the system. First clean the treatment plant, start it up and run it until it is making drinkable water -- at least seven days. Then flush the system, using extra chlorine and taking care to dump the water wherever you can.
Finally, McMullen said, individual families have to flush their lines. He suggested a vigorous media campaign and phone bank staffed with plumbers, "who did a superb job" helping instructions.
"In most hurricanes, you're talking about wind damage, lost roofs -- that kind of thing," said Michael Carliner, an economist with the National Association of Homebuilders. "Flooding is much more insidious. Structures are still standing, but there are devastating effects. With the dirty water, it may never be possible to repair it. You'll have to rebuild, or at least gut it."
Louisiana, a center of the oil, gas and chemical industries, "was known for its very weak enforcement regulations," Kaufman said, and there are a number of landfills and storage areas containing "thousands of tons" of hazardous material to be leaked and spread.
"On top of that, you have dead bodies that are going to start to decompose, along with the material that was in industrial and household discharge, sewage, gasoline and waste oil from gas stations," he added. "You've got a witches' brew of contaminated water."
Given New Orleans's desperate straits, recovery teams will not be able to do anything with the toxic mess except pump it into the Gulf of Mexico, ensuring that the contamination will spread to a larger area, he said. "There's just no other place for it."
Once the water is gone, environmental officials will likely undertake a "grid survey," sampling the formerly flooded areas to get soil profiles and determine how safe it is for residents to move back or rebuild.
The survey is likely to take six months. "If it were me, I wouldn't go back until there was a solid assessment of contamination of the land," Kaufman said. And even then, he added, authorities will be monitoring levels of water toxicity along the coastline for years: "There is no magic chemical that you can put in the Gulf to make heavy metals or benzene go away. You're stuck with it."
Pasted from:

You can see this is no joke nor it is a rush job with heroic solutiones: there aren't any. That's why we need to start looking to the long term approach from the start, waiting to clean the mess won't do the trick. By the time you finish the clean up (several years from now) Luisiana will be back to being a swamp as it was originally. Too late for the people. A plan like I proposed earlier will give the people something to work on, to earn a living, improve their life for them and the next generations. It would have a purpose, something that fixers like Christien don't understand.

Posted by: Rommeytx | September 3, 2005 08:04 AM

The article I refered in my previous post:
Extraordinary Problems, Difficult Solutions
Massive Floods, Pollution Make for 'Worst Case'
By Guy Gugliotta and Peter Whoriskey
Washington Post Staff Writers
The Washington Post, Thursday, September 1, 2005; A10

I repit my plan:

1. Impose a 50% windfall tax on the profits of the oil corporations. It would be enough to pay for all the reconstruction of the south.
2. Raze New Orleans and make it a National Park.
3. Start building an off-shore deep port on pilons in front of the former New Orleans.
4. Build a caseway to carry transportation (highway and rail) and pipelines from the port to a new industrial center at least 100 miles inland and 300 feet above sea level.
5. Build a turistic resort in the place of the former french quarter, Venice-like.
6. Build a new Commercial City to relocate the business from the former New Orleans, similar to the Industrial center (far enough and high to prevent future flooding).

Posted by: Rommeytx | September 3, 2005 08:18 AM

Government is there to serve the people who own it!. Big business and those with inherited wealth.
The "public good" is a fantasy just like "justice for all"!

Posted by: dvs_herb | September 3, 2005 08:52 AM

Public good is our ideal, something that the WHO (white house occupant) lacks.

Let's see ahead, not backwards. Unless you are a God and can change the past. I believe you believe just that.

Here it is some of my racionale for my plan:

1. Impose a 50% windfall tax on the profits of the oil corporations. It would be enough to pay for all the reconstruction of the south:
The high prices of the oil market today won't hit the distilleries until a month from now. However, because there is a drop in the offer of fuel for transportation, they are de facto in a monopoly-like situation and raised the prices now, reaping huge profits. We pay. This kind of tax is the appropriate response to their greed. And an appropriate use of the funds it would generate.

2. Raze New Orleans and make it a National Park:
NO is situated in an untenable geographic and geological position. Rebuilding in the same conditions is a waste, as soon as another natural disaster like Katrina appears on the scene.
All the sinking areas of NO must be out of limits for rebuilding. Period. Too bad for the real estate tycoons. But it is immoral to prey on the hopes of the people. Most didn't know better and believed the rosy promises of the developers that got them in the situation they are today. It won't change. I reiterate: Areas under the high tide mean level must be out of bounds for rebuilding. Make them parks.

3. Start building an off-shore deep port on pylons in front of the former New Orleans:
We, the USA, need a port where the NO port is. No question about it. Just move it out into the deep and away from the delta building area of the Mississippi.

4. Build a causeway to carry transportation (highway and rail) and pipelines from the port to a new industrial center at least 100 miles inland and 300 feet above sea level:
The people need jobs for living. Keep them in the area, but shift them to higher ground and away from the danger of future storm surges. It will help also when the river swells with the northern flooding coming down.

5. Build a touristic resort in the place of the former French quarter, Venice-like:
Tourism is a huge contributor to the live-hood of Louisiana's people. There are enough areas in NO that didn't get flooded. Save them for this purpose. Create a network of elevated roads to connect them with the accesses to the area and let the river flow without levees impeding its path. This is something that can be accomplished in a very short time. The economic activity and the taxes it will generate, will help to pay for the other development. Remember that the NO area won't be contributing taxes for the foreseeable future. This is an aspect which may do the opposite.

6. Build a new Commercial City to relocate the business from the former New Orleans, similar to the Industrial center (far enough and high to prevent future flooding):
NO area is a hub for a lot of trade in the South and the east-west distribution, besides the export-import business that the port generates. We need to keep it but to relocate it out of future harm's way.

In the long run it would cheaper than all the grandiose schemes Shrub voiced yesterday (which won't happen on his watch, and for which he doesn't have the money anyway, after he gave the store away to the tax cuts). If you wonder why he was giggling...

Posted by: Rommeytx | September 3, 2005 09:41 AM

With all of the blaming of Bush, where are the responsibilities of the local officials recognized. Bush issued a declaration of a national disaster before the hurrican hit the coast. I fail to see how anyone could say this was too late. Further, evidentally Bush had to urge the Governor of Louisiana and the Mayor of New Orleans to order the mandatory evacuation on Sunday. They hadn't done it themselves in a timely manner.
Why were the local city buses and school buses not used to remove people?
Was the local emergency plan fully implemented by the local officials?
The Louisiana National Guard is under the authority of the Governor. When did she order them into service?
Louisiana is known for corruption and incompetence.
We have a federal system, one of the underlying ideas being that local people have more local knowledge and reach than national figures, but not according to the press reports in this case. In my opinion this is a classic case of bad reporting and analysis.
Most of the blame for this mess rests with the locals and it is now the national leadership which has to clean up the mess.

Posted by: A. R. | September 3, 2005 11:14 AM

I am astounded at the lengths people in this country will go to to criticize the government. How can we blame all that has happened in the gulf coast on a person or our government. I was severely affected by Hurricane Charley. I have just now moved back into my home (which was destroyed). My husband and I did now wait for the government to come rescue us. We had NO warning before Charley entered Charlotte Harbor and then went right over our house. The gulf coast had days to prepare. Why didn't the City, the parrish, the state of Louisiana do more to help these citizens. Why is it the Federal government's responsibility to come in and do what their local governments should have done and should be doing? I am sickened by the vultures and hyenas lurking on the outskirts of this disaster to blame the President and the federal government. Ask Mayor Nagin (spelling ?) why he evacuated to Baton Rouge and left his constituents behind. Instead of pointing fingers, we need to be united in our efforts to help our fellow citizens. These people are not refugees, they are displaced evacuees and American citizens. Get the water and food, diapers and medicine to them. Quit playing politics and help. Quit backstabbing and criticizing and help. Quit sitting in your comfortable living rooms with your air conditioners and computers and help. Did any of you who are so critical of your government and president do anything to help the victims of Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Frances, Hurricane Jeanne, Hurricane Ivan? You're all a bunch of whining, ignorant, selfish do-nothings. The more I write, the madder I get. Stand up and be Americans.

Posted by: Layne P. | September 3, 2005 11:25 AM

I am astounded at the lengths people in this country will go to to criticize the government. How can we blame all that has happened in the gulf coast on a person or our government. I was severely affected by Hurricane Charley. I have just now moved back into my home (which was destroyed). My husband and I did now wait for the government to come rescue us. We had NO warning before Charley entered Charlotte Harbor and then went right over our house. The gulf coast had days to prepare. Why didn't the City, the parrish, the state of Louisiana do more to help these citizens. Why is it the Federal government's responsibility to come in and do what their local governments should have done and should be doing? I am sickened by the vultures and hyenas lurking on the outskirts of this disaster to blame the President and the federal government. Ask Mayor Nagin (spelling ?) why he evacuated to Baton Rouge and left his constituents behind. Instead of pointing fingers, we need to be united in our efforts to help our fellow citizens. These people are not refugees, they are displaced evacuees and American citizens. Get the water and food, diapers and medicine to them. Quit playing politics and help. Quit backstabbing and criticizing and help. Quit sitting in your comfortable living rooms with your air conditioners and computers and help. Did any of you who are so critical of your government and president do anything to help the victims of Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Frances, Hurricane Jeanne, Hurricane Ivan? You're all a bunch of whining, ignorant, selfish do-nothings. The more I write, the madder I get. Stand up and be Americans.

Posted by: Layne P. | September 3, 2005 11:34 AM

Katrina represents a colossal failure of situation awareness. Those with acute situation awareness become great leaders, whether in families, local communities, the armed forces, or world governmental officials. Those with limited situation awareness will NEVER be considered great leaders.

Situation awareness is generally defined as understanding unfolding events and being able to make smart, quick decisions to make a positive effect on the community they serve. It is a combination of nature and nurture, but certainly nurture, in the form of learning, can make up where nature leaves off.

As circumstances grow in importance, so does the need for situation awareness. Often, critical decisions made before the point of disaster require breaking hard and fast rules (or in some cases laws) to make the difference. There are many documented cases of this, including the crew of Apollo 13, a few passengers on Flight 93, and a pilot of a crippled DC-10 (back in the '80s).

With Katrina, situation awareness failed to some degree at all levels. All of the elected leaders, and many of their subordinates, shoulder some of the blame. That said, there were some that came closer than others. History will show that Mayor Nagin attempted, but did not go far enough, or perhaps was not able to be heard. Why should Nagin be singled out? Because his words on Saturday August 27th spoke volumes: "This is the moment we've all feared". Unfortunately, the actions of officials farther up the chain, who so happen to have greater authority to make the larger (i.e. economic) decisions, failed.

So, I offer the posters on this blog the following situation awareness test:

You are in a high level state or national governmental position that has authority to use whatever budget it takes to protect life and property, before, during, and after a natural or man-made disaster.

It is now Sunday, August 28th, around noon. You have been briefed by officials at the National Hurricane Center who tell you this is a large, Category 5 hurricane of which they have never seen before (i.e., combination of size and strength) since satellites were first launched. It has also broken the lowest pressure record for its latitude. Forecast confidence is high that this large storm will make landfall on the eastern Louisiana or lower Mississippi coast early Monday morning the 29th.

You know that these coastlines are home to many folks near or below the poverty line, particularly New Orleans and nearby eastern parishes. You are also aware of federal laws restraining, or prohibiting, active military involvement.

What actions do you take?

Please answer honestly, as if the event has not actually occurred.

Posted by: wxman1 | September 3, 2005 12:06 PM

I wonder why when we are shown what a incompetent president bush is and what a mess he has made of FEMA and everything else, we suddenly hear that we should not point out that our dear leader has no cloth and it not time for playing politics.
What they are really saying that by the time we have reached a breathing place we will have forgotten about the criminal negligance of the white house and we are back to worship our dear leader.
I can just imagine what would be coming out the mouths of the GOP should this been done by a democratic president.
I thought the low has been reached, until I saw the phot-op in Mississpi where Bush had to pull 2 helicopters AWAY FROM RESQUING OF PEOPLE so that he would have a nice backdrop.
I am sure he will come up with something else, soon.

Posted by: francis | September 3, 2005 02:19 PM

Yo, tom cook:

"You can do something about it in one year ... Vote Bush out. You voted him in now vote him out."

And how do you propose we do that? Given that Bush is a lame-duck President and NEVER has to face re-election for President ever again? (And anyway, the next Presidential election is 2008).

As much as I don't like Bush, I don't see what your comments contribute to this discourse.

Jack G.
American living in Montreal

Posted by: Jack | September 3, 2005 02:32 PM

"What is not working right, we're going to make right" the President said. Future tense. Five days after the hurricane. Why is it up to disaster victims to provide on the job training for the President of the United States? This person was invested with the awesome responsibility of the most powerful position in the world. He should therefore be the one with the most competence and forethought, not the least. His spokesman said now is not the time for sniping and finger pointing. Can he please let us know what would be a convenient time. I want to be there, front and center.

Posted by: P. Nichols | September 3, 2005 03:00 PM

Everyone here needs to read the comment by A. Citizen in the "Comparing Misery" comments. Quit blaming everything on the President and ask the local governments why it is taking so long to get help to the affected regions.

Posted by: Layne P. | September 3, 2005 03:17 PM

Everyone here needs to read the comment by A. Citizen in the "Comparing Misery" comments. Quit blaming everything on the President and ask the local governments why it is taking so long to get help to the affected regions.

Posted by: Layne P. | September 3, 2005 03:17 PM

It is the job of the federal government, FEMA, to provide disaster relief. A plan for this exact scenario was in place, and was rehearsed just last year. It's execution was a dismal failure under the inexperienced director appointed by Bush. FEMA's budget and authority were gutted under the DHS, also thanks to Bush. FEMA worked well under its previous director. Sorry Layne, but the buck stops at the top.

Posted by: P. Nichols | September 3, 2005 03:34 PM

Tom Barksdale,

"I mean, is it totally lost on Republicans that George Bush, and the Republican governors and Senators and US Representatives from Mississippi and LA., are having to eat a lot of crow these days over their constant bad mouthing of the federal government?"

Sen Landrieu--(D)
Gov Blanco--(D)
Rep Melancon--(D)
Rep Jefferson--(D)
Mayor Nagin--(D)

how's that crow taste by the way?

Posted by: Willy | September 3, 2005 03:56 PM

As much as I would love to see Bush impeached for gross neglect and incompetence, what are we going to replace him with? Cheney? Rice? Even if we could wipe out his entire cabal, who would we elect? There aren't too many policians on either side shining at the moment. Mayor Nagin - by the way - did NOT evacuate to Baton Rouge; he's at last report still in New Orleans, in a hotel room with no power, reluctant to leave until the last citizen of New Orleans is evacuated. Captain of a dying ship. He's been about the only politician in L'siana in the past few days to come out looking half-way like a decent, honest human being. So, Willy, if that's crow, give me seconds.

Posted by: | September 3, 2005 07:09 PM

I can't believe that some of my fellow citizens can't get around the fact that Bush is an idiot!! Shoot, Nostradamus himself predicted it. "The nation shall be lead by a fool". Whether you belive in predictions or not, his record on the enviroment, the war,(oh yeah,I forgot the "war is over" according to our bushwacked pres.)his budget cutting and so on and so on. I can't believe that he was elected again! Hate to say I told you so but there it is. He has no compassion for the "tired, the poor, the huddeld masses". His reaction to those in NO is proof positive. My prayers go out to all in the Gulf states. Let's try and get it right America! Next time, let's elect someone who cares about the country as a whole first and foremost; not just someone who cares about his and/or his cronies own selfish interests! Let's do all we can to get the job done to help those in need. He damn sure can't do it!!

Posted by: Tayzha | September 3, 2005 07:13 PM

This isn't to you but to everyone who will can and will read. I just about threw up my supper listening to Christianne Ammanpour on Larry King Live tonight talking about the world's general impression that the Katrina response is a racial issue. I could not believe what I was seeing and hearing. If that is the best Ms Ammanpour can do then she needs to GET OFF THE AIR. If the world's impression is that somehow the American government has shortchanged African-Americans in the Katrina response, then that is because the television media, CNN in particular and Anderson Cooper specifically has made it so. They made it so by continuously reporting on one tiny speck of the disaster to the exclusion of all other areas, totally ignoring the tens of thousands of square miles of devastation that knew no color boundaries. They made it so by not giving any context, perspective or background WHATSOEVER as to why there are a large concentration of African-American survivors in and around the Super Dome. NONE. No intelligent or even objective analysis as to why this might be so. No perspective on municipal plans that might have pre-ordained that condition, little to no parallel reporting on the rest of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama communities that were just as hard hit so that there might be an accurate portrayal of the extent of this disaster. Just a constant diet of Superdome. And Ms Ammanpour is surprised that caring people around the globe gradually conclude there are human rights violations visited upon one segment of the American population by a seemingly uncaring government. To me, and I live in Pensacola so I've seen my share of hurricane damage lately, this has been at once the best--the cameras...when allowed...when allowed to display all the damage throughout the gulf coast...have left an unmistakable image of how extensive this devastation is--and at the same time the most shameful display of television reporter narcisscism and irresponsible demogoguery I have ever seen. If there are misperceptions across the globe, and they are msperceeptions if not outright slander, they are entirely the fault of the US media coverage. Where else does anybody get their news? I have read numerous calls for accountability throughout these threads. I hope everyone watches the media reporting from here on out with a more critical eye and takes the television media to task for it. To me Ms Ammanpour, once a favorite for her ability to get anywhere and report, has lost all credibility in my eyes by showing up in New Orleans for a few minutes with conclusions already drawn and then using her considerable world recognition to lend credence to an incomplete story that misrepresents the truth to a believing world audience just to keep her face refreshed on the world's TV screens. Shameful.

Posted by: Wiily | September 3, 2005 09:51 PM

America has failed her people. We've failed from top to bottom. I have co-workers who sneer at the "looters" breaking in to Walmart for diapers and food. "They're like animals." Well, we left them there like animals. No food, no water, no lights, no communications, no help and no hope. I'm so ashamed of all of us, as a nation, a once great nation. We're a great nation no more. We're a tired, bickering, selfish, bullying nation and we get exactly what we deserve. I've donated all the money I can afford to give to the relief effort. I've offered to share my home on hurricanehousing.org but I still can't sleep. Our fellow Americans literally left up Sh*t Creek without a paddle and our government, federal and local, bumbling about like a bunch of village idiots. Well, they represent us, folks. We put them there. And my neighbors - whining over gas prices, woe is me, I won't be able to go on vacation. What a joke we have turned into. What a sad, sad joke.

Posted by: Jean | September 4, 2005 02:29 AM

It's hard to judge the American media from here (the UK), so I'm having to depend on the view from BBC and the rest of the British - and to a smaller extent, French - media. What I see of the news coverage in the States I'm getting off audio and video clips on blog sites. And I can assure you, Willy, the race issue (and there is one to be addressed) is only one of many, many stories being shown around the world. BBC last night interviewed two black men, asking if they thought they would have been evaculated sooner had they been white. They started heatedly saying of course, only to be interrupted by an angry young white woman close to tears, pointing out that there were a whole lot of their white neighbours still stuck on the ground with them, those too poor, too old, or too ill to leave before they were stranded. To their credit, the two young black men immediately toned it down, admitted that everybody was being let down in New Orleans, white and black. Of course, emotional outbursts like Kanye's 'Bush doesn't care about black people' is going to get news coverage. But on balance, I would say Britain at least is seeing as close to an objective view as any news media is likely to get.
Jean - I so agree with you! Britains have been paying the highest price for petrol (sorry, gas - I've lived in this country too long!) in Europe for so many years, we have little sympathy for the sudden hike in prices in the States. Good. Junk your SUVs, plow some funding back into public transport and Amtrak, start getting serious about alternate energy sources and energy conservation, get some of that old-time can-do American ingenuity focused on battling the causes of global warming that is quite likely to have been a contributing factor to the strength of Katrina, if not her existence. Start acting like true leaders of the free world, not the only people on it. Go get your cahones back from the policians who've stolen them, stop being sheep. It isn't just the politician's fault - it's all our fault for relinquishing so much responsibility to them in the first place. Katrina has proven we've chosen the wrong people, they cannot do the job they were put in office to do. We can rant and rave and point fingers all we like, and justifiably so, but at the end of the day, it's us, everybody - YOU and ME - who have to get up off our complacent asses and start being a part of the political process again, instead of its victims. And for those who keep banging on about putting aside criticism while this crisis is so critical - we've got big brains, folks. We CAN walk and chew gum at the same time. DO what you can to help, SAY what's in your heart. It's possible to do both. Look at Jean - she's doing exactly that. Bravo.

Posted by: daftyank | September 4, 2005 04:10 AM

Not only should Bush be impeached, we also should impeach the next 4 in line for President.

God help our country, and the world.

Posted by: Paul Muller-Reed | September 4, 2005 05:38 AM

Willy, get your fat from that easy chair and go help to clean NO, and Mississippi, and Alabama, and... help to bury the corpses... then dare to open your mouth again...
With people like you... and there are many more showing up here and elsewhere... our country has gone to hell long time ago. Your arrogance and greed have damaged our society enough, get out and go to Iraq where you are building your dream democracy already. We don't need people like you. Get the message. And you, the Willy-like others hiding in this forums, it is for you too.
We need room to rebuild our USA, get off our way.

Posted by: Rommeytx | September 4, 2005 07:58 AM

An indifferent president or simply missing in action? What have we here? That Mr. Bush twiddled around a golf course on Tuesday with the extent of the disaster fully apparent (oh...I forgot....Mr. Bush doesn't read the papers and obviously has his channel selector glue to Faux News)..and then a brief flyover on his way back....Could someone have told him Terry Schaivo was resuccitated and needed another emergency bill?....

What is real and all to accurate is that this President, again, is a day late and a dollar short. He is clueless and those around him are about as feeling as a cat with a new found mouse. Where or where is Mr. Cheney? Did our Secretary of State dash out of Broadway at intermission? Where did they dig up this guy at FEMA....can we have found a bigger emptyhead?

I've been wanting to scream at the administration to just turn on the TV and see for yourself....they could turn down the sound so they didn't hear the voices but at least look at the pictures for Christ's sake.

Posted by: Harold House | September 4, 2005 08:18 AM

I agree that local and state officials do bear some responsibility for the N.O. disaster - especially since, for YEARS, this specific incident has been known to be one of the greatest potential catastrophies possible for the U.S. Numerous articles were written about the slowly sinking N.O. coast, the levees that for all practical purposes would make a major hurricane even more of a disaster with their failure. None of the facts were a surprise.

That being said - disaster relief has been FEMA's exclusive territory for many years. Federal territory. Why? Well, why does any other state ultimately look to the national government for help after fire, floods, tornados and the like? Because it's their JOB to help us. THEY work for US. We elected them to lead, we pay them to come up with solutions and laws that benefit society. To, dare I say it, "promote the general welfare". The Constitution is more than just words.

So yes, ultimately the federal government does bear the responsibility. When all is said and done, heads need to roll, starting at the TOP, not the bottom. Democrat, Republican, I could care less at this point; for once, the people in charge need to lie in the bed they purposefully made. Just like in a china shop - "if you break it, you pay for it". Even if it's an accident; even if you own the shop and a herd of elephants goes down the street it stands on. Because YOU ARE IN CHARGE. You are...accountable.

I am beyond sick and tired, as a staunch Democrat, as a Bush opposer, of being told in so many words that I lack decency, brains, morals, and good old common sense. I'm just a 27-year-old college student myself; I hopefully have a long life ahead of me. But what's decent about the fact that I cannot get health insurance, even though I need a kidney transplant? What is moral and right about the difference between life and death in N.O. hinging upon the money you have, or do not? What sense is there in erasing the national surplus to fight in the WRONG COUNTRY?

Why are people, even now, flabbergasted that I am utterly and completely furious at the state of this country? How many more stories of death and misery do we need?

As regards "getting off my backside" well as I said I'm just a college student. I went and bought some water, shampoo and washcloths yesterday, and took a bag of clothes to be dropped off. That's about all I can do monetarily. But the best thing I can do at this point is write. I've written to congressmen and women, newspapers, and even my father's blog. I've talked to so many people over the past week and the unity of our voices is frankly incredible. This is how change begins - for the better. This is how America works, and I'm so proud to be a part of it. I am, finally, off my backside, thank you very much.

Posted by: Mary Elizabeth | September 4, 2005 01:03 PM

This President is the most incompetent, indifferent shill in the history of this country. My late father once opined that "in America, "conservative" and "racist" are merely two horses of the same color. Someone else (Jesus) opined that we would know a tree by its fruits. Well, this past week is stark evidence of "a compassionate conservative" and "a reformer with results." It sure is hell living with the results of this man's "compassion."

Posted by: Chucky Love | September 4, 2005 02:22 PM

There are two things I am absolutely certain of:

1.) it is completely disgraceful and totally unforgiveable that FEMA and Homeland Security could not figure out how to airdrop food and water to the people stuck in New Orleans at the Convention Center and the Superdome for 4 days.

2.) the Coast Guard deserves to be commended for their perseverance and bravery. Applaud them, please!

Posted by: Sue in Michigan | September 4, 2005 02:44 PM

When the history of the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina is written from the perspective of time, one of the key elements must certainly be the glee of the Bush haters and largely left-leaning MSM over a disaster that the left wingers feel they can finally use to bring down President Bush.

I'm already fed up with all the blaming over the response to the Katrina disaster, particularly of President Bush. Poll results, criticizing the federal government response as weak, is I think, in part a result of critical media coverage which promotes a negative view of the disaster response.

There are several things President Bush could be commended for, but there's no credit given and no mention of them in the national media.

The Times-Picayune 8/28/05, reported that Governor Blanco, standing next to the NO mayor on national TV, admitted that the reason she called for the unprecedented mandatory evacuation was because President Bush called her and personally appealed that she order mandatory evacuation. Of course we will never see a headline saying "BUSH'S FORESIGHT SAVES THOUSANDS." President Bush also designated this a national disaster area BEFORE the hurricane hit so that FEMA, and other assistance could be in place and ready to go right away.

There's plenty of blame to go around, but most in the 90% Democrat media are spinning it away from a Democrat mayor and Governor in Louisiana up to the Federal Government and a Republican Bush.

According to New Orleans' own evacuation plan, written in 2000, in the event of a mandatory evacuation, the city was to mobilize busses, and other means of transportation to help the helpless get out. This was not done. After the storm the mayor was on national TV complaining about the feds not getting busses in immediately to take people out. A little late, mayor. It would have been a lot easier before the city was under water.

Evacuees were asked to take enough water and snacks to their evacuation site to last a few days. Apparently most didn't. There were complaints of dehydration and hunger in the shelters immediately after the storm. Individuals need to have some personal responsibility. Let this be a lesson to us all. Perhaps we should teach minimum survival skills in our public schools.

As for the Feds being slow to act, it really wasn't until Monday evening and then when levees broke on Tuesday, that the magnitude of the situation became apparent. After all, as the President mentioned, the devastated area is larger than the land mass of Great Britain. Communications failed and the information was slow in coming.

As for the sniping that cuts in federal funding were the cause of the levee failures, this was soundly rejected by the Army Corps of Engineers. The levee was only meant to stand a category 3 storm, not a 4 or 5, and no one expected the levee to be breeched. That said, Louisiana has known for decades that they have a disaster in the making. Local officials should have had detailed evacuation plans in place. The Big Easy was a little too casual about facing their potential disaster.

Because there was no civil order on the ground, a National Guard spokesman said they were afraid to air drop supplies for fear of starting riots. A judgment call to be sure, but no on in this forum is in a position to know better.

There was no effective local law enforcement effort inside the Superdome. It is criminally negligent for local officials to send thousands of people to a shelter with no means of law enforcement, especially in one of the highest crime rate cities in the country. What did they expect but anarchy? Why didn't the governor call out the National Guard immediately?

Many of the President's critics say he was late in visiting the area. Others said before hand that he shouldn't go at all because a Presidential visit takes away too many personnel who are needed for the emergency. The man can't win.

Finally, the NO Levee Board's investments are notoriously controversial, including spending $45,000 of Levee Board money to hire private investigators to dig up dirt on a local radio talk show host who was a frequent critic. By the way, according to the Times-Picayune, the investigators didn't find any thing on the talk show host.

The initial failures of the state and local governments made a bad situation worse and resulted in far more dire circumstances than the President would have had reason to expect. Hurricane related problems were exacerbated by local incompetence making the feds job much more difficult.

As for shameless political opportunists claiming Bush's environmental policies cause hurricanes-please. First the science doesn't support this. Second, Bush has only been in office a few years, not long enough to have created climate and meteorological changes. Catastrophic storms have occurred in regular cycles worldwide for centuries. Anyone who believes Bush or Haley Barbour are to blame for storms is either a shameless liar or knows nothing about history.

Could everyone, including Bush have done a better job? You bet. But we're talking about mobilization on a national level and given the inability to get in or out due to flooding, two or three days to get everything in place doesn't seem unreasonable. The job was made even more difficult by the lawlessness of a significant minority of the very people who needed help.

A couple hundred thousand people were removed from the Superdome and Convention center in less than a week, and thanks to the generosity of Texans and other donors, those people are safe and sound and being cared for. Searching house to house will be a dreadfully slow exercise.

Partisan political criticism of Bush and the feds by the usual suspects of bitter, out of power left-wing Democrats like Sidney Blumenthal, Jesse Jackson, Michael Moore, and many in the left-leaning national media is about 85% BS. Talk is cheap. Most of the "experts" writing comments in this forum as well as media critics have probably never organized anything bigger than a bar-b-que or celebrity fundraiser. They should get out of the way and let the grown ups do their jobs. Or better yet, personally volunteer to help.

Posted by: S Boyd | September 4, 2005 09:20 PM

My father died last year and two days ago my mother finally grieved, a levee breached. We'd heard the sound of trees falling all around us, stood in the pitch black. The wind truly sounds like a freight train. We wondered how many miles per hour it was, learned later it was only 80 or so. Electricity, water, cel phones and land lines were all gone. We'd forgotten what it's like to live here in the dog days of a Mississippi August without air. Cobbled together enough batteries to watch a eight inch TV. Then we saw the horror, day after day. My mother broke. In heaving sobs she cried out, "I miss him, I need him now."

He was the sorta' man that people down here call a "character". For him, a problem was a loose nail on a tin roof, and he'd hammer away until the job was done, his family safe. He'd call in favors on his good-old-boy network, break any rule (law, too, I suspect) to take care of us. Heaven and earth would mobilize from the sheer stubborness of him. We could count on him and we knew it, the instant we were in trouble.

Governor Barbour has reminded of my dad over the past week. Bush hasn't.

Posted by: T Womack | September 5, 2005 04:57 AM

First, I'd like to thank S. Boyd for his comments above. You and I are from vastly differing political poles, but I'm quite happy that someone (finally!) has posted a coherent and articulate opposing opinion even if I very much disagree with most of what you've said. I'd pretty much given up on this blogsite, which for some reason seems to have attracted a rather large number of vociferous, enraged and borderline illiterate commentators. While I don't doubt the sincerity of the passions running high, on both sides, it doesn't really classify as a debate or an exchange of ideas.
I welcome your views, since there seems to be a considerable dearth of articulate or otherwise conservative opinion on just about every blogsite I've been on lately, and you've at least offered us a springboard on which to begin a more intelligent debate without useless, offensive and - frankly - just plain boring namecalling.

I'll start, shall I? Re: 'Evacuees were asked to take enough water and snacks to their evacuation site to last a few days. Apparently most didn't. There were complaints of dehydration and hunger in the shelters immediately after the storm. Individuals need to have some personal responsibility. Let this be a lesson to us all. Perhaps we should teach minimum survival skills in our public schools.'

Sir: Wall-Mart trundled up three lorries full (excuse me, truckloads; I've been living in the UK too long) of bottled water and were turned back by federal FEMA officials. Many, many people did bring bottled water and food, the sight of hundreds on hundreds of empty coolers abandoned after the evacuation of the Superdome is proof enough of that. But in that sort of crushing late August Louisiana heat that I remember all too well, you would have needed far more than any one person could carry for themselves, never mind enough for small children, the elderly, the infirm. No one expected the evacuation to have taken six days. Go into your own kitchen and put together what you think you and your three small kids and your grandmother who needs a cane to even walk with will need for six days - now try to pick it up and carry it for two or three miles. These people weren't soldiers, they weren't backpacking survivalists, they were just ordinary people who couldn't possibly have grasped the scope of what they would need. Milk for babies in particular would have spoiled pretty quickly in that heat without refrigeration, undrinkable in any quantity. To blame the victims for their lack of foresight is not only absurd, it's heartless. For anyone to have turned away donations of bottled water BEFORE the hurricane struck is not only heartless, it's criminal.

Who's next?

Posted by: | September 5, 2005 07:50 AM

Hello to anonymous from the UK. Yes, the comments on this site are discouragingly dull, unhelpful, and offensive. Name calling is useless at any time. If you think there is a dearth of intelligent comment among conservatives, I recommend the Wall Street Journal"s Opinion Journal online, National Review, Weekly Standard, Real Clear Politics among many. Dems are no better, have you checked out the nut cases at Democratic Underground and other left-wing sites? But I digress.

I think you misunderstood my comment about the victims. I was not blaming them. In fact, we live in hurricane prone S FLA, so I am quite conscious of what it takes to prepare minimum supplies for a disaster. It is a constant theme, almost ad nausem, from the governor down to the newspapers and television news. But nationally we absolutely need to do a better job of educating people, especially the poor and less educated about being prepared for disasters.

I had not heard that FEMA turned away Wall-Mart water deliveries. You may be correct there. They may have feared for their safety. We weren't there so I'm not sure we can second-guess. One would think they could have given them an armed escort if that was the case.

As the truth dribbles out however about initial responsibility and actions that MADE THE SITUATION FAR WORSE than it needed to be, I will call your attention to two different pieces of info which appeared (buried deep in the articles) in this very paper which support my contention that the US Federal Government is getting far more blame than is merited.

The federal government is not designed to be the first responder in state and local natural disasters. Legally, practically, and morally it is the state and local authorities who are responsible. When they fail to do their jobs, it creates an almost impossible situation for the feds to get their arms around. Hence, delay is inevitable, therefore...

1. WAPO article yesterday, Sept 9 includes this buried tidbit...

Other federal and state officials pointed to Louisiana's failure to measure up to national disaster response standards, noting that THE FEDERAL PLAN ADVISES STATE AND LOCAL MANAGERS NOT TO EXPECT FEDERAL AID FOR 72 to 96 hours, and base their own preparedness efforts on the need to be self-sufficient for at least that period...

2. A second WAPO article a couple of days ago reports that Gov Blanco REJECTED early assistance from the feds...

"...Behind the scenes, a power struggle emerged, as federal officials tried to wrest authority from Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D). Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans, a source within the state's emergency operations center said Saturday.

The administration sought unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. Some officials in the state suspected a political motive behind the request. "Quite frankly, if they'd been able to pull off taking it away from the locals, they then could have blamed everything on the locals," said the source, who does not have the authority to speak publicly...

Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday, three state and federal officials said. As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency...

Blanco made two moves Saturday that protected her independence from the federal government: She created a philanthropic fund for the state's victims and hired James Lee Witt, Federal Emergency Management Agency director in the Clinton administration, to advise her on the relief effort..."

Sorry UK, but this is just weird. What could she possible have been thinking other than her own CYA?

I repeat, as I posted previously that the initial failures of the state and local governments made a bad situation worse and resulted in far more dire circumstances than the President would have had reason to expect. Hurricane related problems were exacerbated by local incompetence making the feds initial start up far more difficult.

For the liberal media to now be crucifying the federal government for not responding IMMEDIATELY and largely giving the local officials a pass is absurd.

I might also add, that I listened to a state official interviewed today, sorry I don't remember her name from an utterly destroyed area in Mississippi, who had high praise her "federal partners." She said they had been magnificent. Is it possible Mississippi was more receptive to help than Louisana? We may never know.

All that said, in any human endeavour, particularly among several levels of bureacuracy, we can always improve. This arguement will go on for years and will unfortunately, remain highly politicized.

Posted by: S Boyd | September 5, 2005 10:11 AM

Welcome back, S. Boyd. I would have hoped to attracted more than just thee and me for such an exchange, but that's okay - en garde, mon cher. I'm an ex-pat American, who first left the States in my twenties because I loved Europe, and now don't want to return because I'm rather unhappy with the changes in my own country. That, and after 20 odd years, you end up attached to one extent or another to wherever your feet touch down. But my father was born and raised in North Carolina, I spent a major portion of my childhood in Florida and Georgia, we had close friends in Mississippi and Louisiana, and a lot of my relatives still live on the Gulf Coast in Florida. (I was married on the beach there, once - a long time ago.) I can remember a hurricane snapping the tree in our front yard in half, and that was just from the hem of her skirt as she breezed through. I know the South quite well, good memories and bad. I'm also VERY aware of the systemic corruption and good-ol'-boy network that is a venerable tradition in Southern politics, from Huey Long (God bless the crazed maniac) on down. The South has always been a place of schizophrenic contradictions, the genteel hospitality and generosity that is truly as genuine as the brutality and greed that has always lurked underneath. It's part of what made New Orleans unique. Irreplaceable. Those are my credentials, if I need any to justify an opinion.
As for the dearth of intelligent comment among conservatives, there are, indisputably, an embarrassing number of liberal lefty loons running about as well. It's not easy from this distance to get as much contact with the popular or political culture, and many household names there are complete ciphers here. But for every Ann Coulter there's a Geraldo Riviera (I can't really tell, is he a liberal?) to make you squirm. Every morning, I turn on the computer and read the New York Times, the L.A. Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe (and now the Times-Picayune) and the Havre Daily News, Montana (pop. 3,000) along with the Telegraph, the Guardian, Le Monde and al-Jazeera. I probably read more news than most people, but I still don't feel I get enough reliable information. But I do my best.
The story of FEMA turning away Wall-Mart water donations - BEFORE the hurricane struck, so there wasn't any fear for anyone's safety then - came from the interview on 'Meet the Press' with Aaron Broussard, the president of Jefferson Parish, a deeply heart-wrenching few minutes to watch. Video here. If this link doesn't work, there's a video link on Wonkette (a blog site recommended to me by my sister, a professor of political science, which I've enjoyed in the past for the wonky humour, although it's not been too funny as of late), if you'd like to watch it for yourself. The raw emotion there isn't scripted or calculated, the man is being dead honest, I don't doubt a single word he said. You can't watch that man break down and have the cynicism to think it's all just liberal spin. Jefferson Parish officials arrived with tankers to take a thousand gallons of emergency diesel fuel off a Coast Guard boat, only to be told FEMA had instructed the Coast Guard not to let them have it. BEFORE the hurricane. And after the hurricane, as Jefferson Parish was desperately trying to get people out, FEMA cut their communication lines. Broussard had the sheriff get the lines reconnected and post an armed guard over them to protect them - not from vandals or looters or black 'thugs', but from our own federal government. Someone had to have given these orders, and it wasn't anyone local.
We are all suddenly on a very steep learning curve here, which may not be such a bad thing - we've all been living in blissful ignorance for too long. I haven't enough information yet to form an educated opinion on just who was responsible for what in terms of first responders, so I'll demur - temporarily. However, regardless of your stand - for or against - the war in Iraq, it is a fact that 30% of Louisiana's National Guardsmen and their heavy equipment is (or was) in Iraq when Katrina hit. The governor of Montana got himself into hot water last year with the GOP when he refused to send any more National Guard and demanded those in Iraq who had served their time come home. They're in the midst of a very bad drought and worried about the strong possibility of catastrophic fires; they need their Guard at home, where they're supposed to be. Other states have done likewise - unfortunately, it seems Louisiana wasn't one of them. These were the people who know Louisiana and New Orleans, would know who is in charge of what, where to go for what, how to get people from point A to point B, because they live there. A 30% reduction in manpower, knowledgeable manpower and the heavy equipment that could have been used in the early hours before and after the hurricane was too big a loss. That is the direct responsibility of the US Federal Government who sent those troops overseas, not anyone local.
The fiasco of squabbling over who was supposed to do what is at least very large in part due to the fact that FEMA was absorbed into Homeland Security, its structure broken up, its responsibilities and officials rearranged. Several long-time employees of FEMA resigned in disgust last year because it was becoming nakedly apparent that FEMA was being gutted to redirect its resources into counter-terrorism and supporting the Iraq war rather than combating natural disaster domestically. It says volumes that Gov. Blanco has hired James Lee Witt, the FEMA director during the Clinton administration, to advise her on the relief effort, because the ones in charge now have proven themselves completely hopeless. It might be a good idea if we all went back to the Clinton era FEMA again.
The Times-Picayune and the Clinton era FEMA published several reports and articles, even a letter to the NO paper written by Aaron Broussard last year, on the problems and consequences New Orleans would face if threatened with a hurricane over force 3, which have turned out to be eerily prophetic - the President and his administration cannot use the same 'we couldn't have foreseen' excuse he used in 9/11 (which turned out to be equally erroneous), or that his intelligence was inadequate. It's in the public domain, for anyone to read, and has been for several years. The President has a terrible track record of listening only the people who tell him what he wants to hear. This is a man well-known for demanding briefings of fifteen minutes or less, papers no longer than 2 pages long, and never reads the papers, liberal controlled press or not. So perhaps Mr. Bush is not responsible - he may genuinely have an attention deficiency or been ignorant of the intell or the scientific reports. In which case, he is not suitable for the job he now holds. There is a rule of corporate responsibility - 'The Buck Stops Here'. Remember that one?
Recommendations were ignored, funds diverted, and it was done on a federal level. There may indeed have been local mismanagement as well, but there's a reason we all pay federal taxes, and FEMA is one of them. Homeland Security. Whatever they're calling themselves these days.
There will be a lot more coming out in the days ahead, and I hope we don't all succumb to disaster fatigue, we need to hold those responsible for making a dire situation cataclysmic answerable for their actions. We need an open, public Congressional hearing, so we can watch exactly how the people we pay our taxes to represent us political handle themselves - no more behind closed doors hearings. This isn't an embittered liberal witchhunt trying to take down the rightwing majority - it's our right, as American citizens, ALL of us, to hold our politicians accountable. And you should be the first in line to stand with me on this principle.

Posted by: Anonymous in the UK | September 5, 2005 12:08 PM

I wonder if Bush will try and styme the impending investigation just as he did the 9/11 investigation and whether it will be successful.

Posted by: Julien | September 5, 2005 12:27 PM

I appreciate the thoughtful commentary of both Anonymous and SBoyd in the last few posts (even though I'm firmly on Anonymous' side of things). But I would venture to say that there certainly is a rightful place for all the emotional, "borderline illiterate" posts and rants in this debate as well.

Maybe that's what's really needed to push America in the right direction again - pure, unadulterated emotion. Empathy for the hurt and homeless. Shame as we watch the tragedy unfold, safe on our couches, full after dinner. Anger at the obvious incompetence within all levels of government. Why in the world shouldn't we be foaming at the mouth right now? It's so easy in this day and age to sanitize what we see, events unfolding in one's town, country, world. After all, we can simply press the remote control and poof! the crying faces are gone. We cannot hear the weeping. We cannot smell the stench of too many rotting bodies. We cannot feel the emptiness in our bellies - the hollowness that but for fate, geography and class inheritance could be in our own.

So yes, I am angry when I see self-congratulatory press conferences at the Rose Garden, photo-ops and quick getaways, spins, denials and outright lies to the press for the sake of saving face. I can't help it. For five years America's resources have been funneled in large part to Iraq, with a steady diet of tax cuts for the rich on the side. Why is everyone, now, so shocked by FEMA's impotence? The signs have been crystal clear for years. The U.S. government is simply reaping what it so blithely sowed with its irresponsibility.

I'm doing the best I can to support the victims of this crisis. East Tennessee has taken in hundreds of citizens already and more are surely on their way. There is a meeting at my college this week about further action to take. Water and food drives show no signs of abating, nor do the continuous, silent, and matter-of-fact offers and acts of help I hear about and witness daily. I'm seeing America at its best right now, and I'm proud.

But who will speak for the victims a month from now, a year or more, when the cleanup is underway, beyond the reach of cameras, and the fickle media turns to another story? The ultimate, underlying issue of this disaster - poverty - is one that I doubt the members of this administration have the guts to tackle. I'd love to be proved wrong, but their track record just leaves nothing to the imagination.

So to make a difference, I'm afraid that right now, emotion is all I personally have to contribute (and an unfortunate tendency toward run-on sentences). But my emotions don't begin to hold a candle to the people who directly experienced this catastrophe. Wouldn't we all agree that in the end, it's their opinions, their experiences, that ultimately matter? And I can't imagine, after all they've been through, that they'd respond with a shrug and a salute to the White House. Somebody has to be held accountable.

Posted by: Mary Elizabeth | September 5, 2005 01:44 PM

This just on British tellie, for those Over There who are interested - John Snow from Channel 4 is in New Orleans, and was interviewing the Deputy Chief of Police Warren Riley. In this interview, DCP Riley stated that the federal government and the local government had a SIGNED AGREEMENT as well as a contingency emergency plan - one that had been in place for many years based on a knowledge that this was a worst case scenario that had already been considered - but that while the locals lived up to their end of the agreement as best they could, the feds were nowhere in sight. They were expected, and never came. DCP Riley doesn't come across as anything but a reasonable, intelligent man with his anger visible but very much under control. I don't know if you in the States can blog onto British sites to get a video clip of this (and I'm not experienced enough to try myself), but if you can, it's well worth watching.

Posted by: Anonymous in the UK | September 5, 2005 02:20 PM

Welcome to the fray, Mary Elizabeth. My apologies to anyone who believed my rather tactless reference to 'borderline illiterates' was directed at themselves. To be fair, this forum is a cut above quite a few other blogsites I've been reading in the past few days, and I will (shamefully) admit to one or two (or maybe three) intemperate comments elsewhere myself. I do try my best to keep them to a minimum, as I know they're ultimately counter-productive. I genuinely respect S. Boyd's opinion, even when I don't agree with him, largely because he (or she? Don't mean to be sexist, either) has the grace to express his opinions as well as his anger in a courteous and civil manner. Because at the end of the day, it will take people like me, like you, like S.Boyd working together despite our volatile differences in opinions to help repair this horrible mess and restore any faith at all in the political process.
And you have a valid point - our expressions of anger, empathy, shame, helplessness has a place in a public forum such as this, for more reasons than just a cathartic blowing off steam, particularly for those of us at such a distance about the only thing we can do is donate money and write a lot of words. I direct you to the N Y Times letters section where two of the 9/11 widows, Kristen Breitweiser and Monica Gabrielle, make a very astute observation:
'In Katrina's aftermath, our leaders, much like in the days after 9/11, continue to say that the time will come to look back and examine failures and hold people accountable for the thousands who have been unnecessarily injured, made sick or killed.
'As 9/11 widows who are still waiting for accountability when it comes to our nation's failures to prepare, prevent and mitigate damage from the Sept. 11 attacks, we don't accept these hollow promises. We urge Americans to demand accountability now for the government's response to this natural disaster.
'If we don't, we will spend our future cleaning up messes that our government officials, through their incompetence, see fit to allow. Sadly, it seems that there is no leadership now, as there was no leadership then.'
The current insistence by the Bush administration that 'playing politics' is not 'appropriate' at this time could very well be a delaying tactic in the hopes that the American attention span - notoriously short - will have forgotten about it in a few months, or at least died down in exhaustion enough to let it slide. Again. So, yes, rant and rave. Demand accountability, now, not later. NOW. Just please all of us try to do it in a manner which will allow us all to be heard, rather than ignored and written off as emotional zealots.
Just as a footnote to the above information about John Snow's interview with DCP Riley, he also noted on the news tonight that there are over a thousand troops patrolling tonight in the deserted streets of New Orleans... but there is only one doctor. And he has no insulin and very little other medication left to treat the ill with. The snafu just keeps rolling along - the troops we needed in New Orleans and the Superdome three days ago aren't needed there now, while the one thing that is in desperately short supply - medical assistance - is nearly completely absent.
He also mentioned that, unlike the British media, the American media has gone suddenly very quiet about the anger at the Bus administration over the mishandling of FEMA and the relief effort, leaving it up to various Democrats to start calling for hearings and accountability. Looks like we're drifting back into the land of 'business as usual'. Alas.

Posted by: Anon in the UK | September 5, 2005 03:51 PM

Thanks Anon - I do have to remind myself to keep it civilized and the cussing to a minimum when writing online. Fortunately, I have no such restraints when talking to friends...I and two others had such a therapeutic time in the car last night, not talking so much as growling nonstop about the administration during the 30-minute car ride back from town, punctuated with a random heartfelt scream now and then.

Since you're from the UK, I suppose you may already read the Guardian, and know of an article written on Friday by Sidney Blumenthal. However (the state of our country's media being what it is - sorry), I have not seen an editorial or article anywhere in the U.S. to compare it to. It specifically lays out the actions - mostly the lack thereof - of the Bush administration with regards to New Orleans over the past few years. For anyone who's interested, the easiest way to find it is google sidney blumenthal katrina. It's the first link on the page.

How much more irresponsible can they be?

Posted by: Mary Eliz | September 5, 2005 05:29 PM

Big government has once again failed the country and President Bush. By last Tues night or Wed. morning, we should have been air lifting food and water to the Superdome, had a flotilla of small water craft to rescue citizens, and military police to keep law and order. FEMA has failed in its primary duty to RESPOND to emergencies on a TIMELY BASIS !

Similarly, the FAA failed the country when after repeated hi-jackings over the prior decade, the agency decided to order strengthened cockpit doors finally AFTER the 911 disaster. And the CIA and FBI were simply out in "left field". Too incompetent to connect the dots.

Bush's staff failed him miserably. He bears some of the burden, but, let's face it, the President or a CEO must have department heads who can take control and "push the panic button" when disaster strikes. With Katrina, it didn't happen.

Please GOD, protect us from our own Federal Government.

Posted by: GWESM | September 5, 2005 06:08 PM

I am deeply ashamed of my government. What must the rest of the world think about the most powerful country in the world who holds itself up so self-righteously as a role model to the rest of the world?

This aftermath lays at the feet of the those, since Ronald Reagan, who viewed government as evil and "not the solution". If you don't believe in government, then government cannot be the solution. I hope this disaster means the end of the Reagan Revolution of selfishness. George W. Bush is the very apex of that ideology.

Posted by: Joan Booms | September 5, 2005 09:34 PM

So, no money for natural disasters and the Feds are on holiday every August. Hmmm. if I were a terrorist, I'd bomb the levee in New Orleans in August.

Now what excuse can the Republicans use?

Posted by: Bonnie Greenberg | September 5, 2005 11:36 PM

Last night, on the BBC, we in Britain watched Bush's little walk-about, but it was Condoleeza Rice who caught my attention most. The lady who left for her holidays when Katrina struck, went to a Broadway show, played tennis with Monica Seles, and had to be reminded by a fellow citizen that she should be doing her job in a time of emergency instead shopping for $3,000 shoes, resulting in Ms. Rice demanding security toss her fellow citizen out of the shop. And there she was, taking cans out of one box and putting them into another for the camera, in a low-key 'let's blend with the crowd' casual outfit I'm sure someone spent some time carefully selecting, since it doesn't look like anything the lady ordinarily wears. But beyond a petty fashion-snipe, she stood grim faced in front of the camera and insisted that this is NOT a race issue, it is NOT about race, IT'S NOT. And you know what? She's absolutely right.
It's a class issue. The sort of people who go to Broadway shows, play tennis with Monica Seles and shop for $3,000 shoes v. those who can't even afford to go to the cinema, scrape by on food stamps and buy their shoes second-hand in a charity shop. A member of an administration who still can't seem to fathom why so many people remained behind because they were too old, too ill, too poor to get out when the warning came. And now, we have another little glimpse into that class-ridden psyche from the most extraordinary source, that sweet little apple-cheeked grandmother and cookie-baker, Barbara Bush.
The former First Lady and current First Mommy was quoted on the NPR's 'Marketplace' program (while she was in Houston on a fund-raising relief tour with her husband and the Clintons and Sen. Barack Obama) "Almost everyone I've talked to says we're going to move to Houston. What I'm hearing which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (slight chuckle) is working very well for them."
My God, a better example of class conflict if ever there was one. The 'let them eat cake' mentality that so personifies why, at its very heart, the ideology of 'compassionate conservatism' is fatally flawed. And if we had had this sort of transparency in the Bush administration (and its mommies) rather than spin-doctored vetted and scripted packaging of a Presidency sold to us like Twinkies and Gatorade, we might have made better choices at the polls. If nothing else, this should convince us all, on both sides, for extensive public accountability of this disaster, NOW, not later when the spin doctors and the scriptwriters have had a chance to gloss over such astonishing gaffes with something more palatable. First impressions are revealing, let's not be taken in by subsequent damage control.

Posted by: Anon in the UK | September 6, 2005 05:52 AM

I completely agree. I had to actually hunt the Barbara Bush quote down last night and listen to it, because I just couldn't believe she'd actually say that out loud on the radio. In all seriousness, apparently (even with the chuckle).

CNN has reported the quote but not the fallout which is sure to ensue. The problem with the mainstream media reporting on statements and issues like this is that they, along with everyone else in power, exist on the other side of the class barrier. Why else have the powers that be been so reluctant to conduct an honest and forthright national discussion of poverty?

Here's an eye-opener for you - or, probably not. Google poverty and bush administration and check out the results. I particularly like the Business Week headline, "Bush Balks at Pact to Fight Poverty"; read further, and you find that he's backing out of the Millenium Development Goals, targeted at reducing poverty and providing basic education and health care for the poor by 2015. I mean, come on, health care for the poor? Who needs that? Certainly not the United States of America!

My God, I am in love with Google. All kidding aside, I'm seeing the Bush spin zone in action already, blaming the local and state governments for their lethargy. To be sure, blame can be placed there too, but the bottom line is that precious resources, equpiment, and men and women whose JOB DESCRIPTION it was to protect their state and its people were...halfway around the world. Fighting The War In Revenge Of 9/11, Except In The Wrong Country.

The ridiculousness and tragedy of it all!

Posted by: Mary Elizabeth | September 6, 2005 08:50 AM

Thanks, ME. But S. Boyd, please come back. It’s getting too one-sided, we need your dissenting opinions to challenge us!

Re: Poverty in Bush’s America. I offer his speechwriters this small essay from another President that they might want to study:

‘Because it is right, because it is wise, and because, for the first time in our history, it is possible to conquer poverty, I submit, for the consideration of the Congress and the country, the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.
‘The Act does not merely expand old programs or improve what is already being done.
‘It charts a new course.
‘It strikes at the causes, not just the consequences of poverty.
‘It can be a milestone in our one-hundred eighty year search for a better life for our people.
‘This Act provides five basic opportunities.
‘It will give almost half a million underprivileged young Americans the opportunity to develop skills, continue education, and find useful work.
‘It will give every American community the opportunity to develop a comprehensive plan to fight its own poverty-and help them to carry out their plans.
‘It will give dedicated Americans the opportunity to enlist as volunteers in the war against poverty.
‘It will give many workers and farmers the opportunity to break through particular barriers which bar their escape from poverty.
‘It will give the entire nation the opportunity for a concerted attack on poverty through the establishment, tinder my direction, of the Office of Economic Opportunity, a national headquarters for the war against poverty.
‘This is how we propose to create these opportunities.
‘First we will give high priority to helping young Americans who lack skills, who have not completed their education or who cannot complete it because they arc too poor. . . .
‘I therefore recommend the creation of a job Corps, a Work-Training Program, and a Work Study Program.
‘A new national job Corps will build toward an enlistment of 100,000 young men. They will be drawn from those whose background, health and education make them least fit for useful work. . . .
‘Half of these young men will work, in the first year, on special conservation projects to give them education, useful work experience and to enrich the natural resources of the country.
‘Half of these young men will receive, in the first year, a blend of training, basic education and work experience in job Training Centers. . . .
‘A new national Work-Training Program operated by the Department of Labor will provide work and training for 200,000 American men and women between the ages of 16 and 21. This will be developed through state and local governments and non-profit agencies. . . .
‘A new national Work-Study Program operated by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare will provide federal funds for part-time jobs for 140,000 young Americans who do not go to college because they cannot afford it.
‘There is no more senseless waste than the waste of the brainpower and skill of those who are kept from college by economic circumstance. Under this program they will, in a great American tradition, be able to work their way through school. . . .
‘Second, through a new Community Action program we intend to strike at poverty at its source - in the streets of our cities and on the farms of our countryside among the very young and the impoverished old.
‘This program asks men and women throughout the country to prepare long-range plans for the attack on poverty in their own local communities. . . .
‘Third, I ask for the authority to recruit and train skilled volunteers for the war against poverty.
‘Thousands of Americans have volunteered to serve the needs of other lands.
‘Thousands more want the chance to serve the needs of their own land.
‘They should have that chance.
‘Among older people who have retired, as well as among the young, among women as \vell as men, there are many Americans who are ready to enlist in our war against poverty.
‘They have skills and dedication. They are badly needed. . . .
‘Fourth, we intend to create new opportunities for certain hard-hit groups to break out of the pattern of poverty.
‘Through a new program of loans and guarantees we can provide incentives to those who will employ the unemployed.
‘Through programs of work and retraining for unemployed fathers and mothers we can help them support their families in dignity while preparing themselves for new work.
‘Through funds to purchase needed land, organize cooperatives, and create new and adequate family farms we can help those whose life on the land has been a struggle without hope.
‘Fifth, I do not intend that the war against poverty become a series of uncoordinated and unrelated efforts - that it perish for lack of leadership and direction.
‘Therefore this bill creates, in the Executive Office of the President, a new Office of Economic Opportunity. Its Director will be my personal Chief of Staff for the War against poverty. I intend to appoint Sargent Shriver to this post. . . .
‘What you are being asked to consider is not a simple or an easy program. But poverty is not a simple or an easy enemy.
‘It cannot be driven from the land by a single attack on a single front. Were this so we would have conquered poverty long ago.
‘Nor can it be conquered by government alone. . . .
‘Today, for the first time in our history, we have the power to strike away the barriers to full participation in our society. Having the power, we have the duty .. . . .
‘We are fully aware that this program will not eliminate all the poverty in America in a few months or a few years. Poverty is deeply rooted and its causes are many.
‘But this program will show the way to new opportunities for millions of our fellow citizens.
‘It will provide a lever with which we can begin to open the door to our prosperity for those who have been kept outside.
‘It will also give us the chance to test our weapons, to try our energy and ideas and imagination for the many battles yet to come. As conditions change, and as experience illuminates our difficulties, we will be prepared to modify our strategy.
‘And this program is much more than a beginning.
‘Rather it is a commitment. It is a total commitment by this President, and this Congress, and this nation, to pursue victory over the most ancient of mankind's enemies.

It was written by Lyndon B. Johnson a few weeks after he took office after Kennedy’s assassination. Now for some boring statistics: In 1962, 23% of children lived in poverty. In 2001, the first year Bush was in office, because of the reforms LBJ spearheaded, it was down to 16.3%. In 1966, 28.5% of people over 65 lived in poverty, down in 2001 to 10.1%. Life has improved. However, in 1966, those between the ages of 18 and 64, which is a whopping big chunk of the population, lived in poverty. In 2001, that figure is down a mere .4%, to 10.1. According to the 2003 Census Bureau, since Bush took office, the nation's official poverty rate rose from 11.7 percent in 2001 to 12.1 percent in 2002 and median household money income declined 1.1 percent in real terms from 2001 to $42,409 in 2002. The US GDP is rising, as Mr Bush keeps tell us as if that’s a legitimate barometer of the nation’s economic health, but America still has the worst child-poverty rate in the industrialized world. 34 million Americans - 12.1 percent of the population - still live below the poverty line, 12.1 million of them children.

For those whose eyes have already glazed over, I know it’s a lot of facts and figures to get your head around, but translated it means - things were getting better, if not nearly as fast as they should have been before Bush took office. Since then, we’ve started a slide backward, things are worse – more people in poverty than before Bush.

A woman interviewed in Houston last week said she didn’t want so many Louisianians coming to Texas, because she didn’t want the ‘homeless’ bringing their problems of crime and drug addiction into her back yard. I am certain that she is a very, very small minority opinion, the generosity of Texans and those in other States is phenomenal. But she does echo the same sort of attitude of a member of another very, very small minority – Barbara Bush, the 21st Century Marie Antoinette. Time for some heads to roll.

Posted by: Anon in the UK | September 6, 2005 01:25 PM

Sorry about all the ? in place of 's. I don't know why that happened.

Posted by: Anon in the UK | September 6, 2005 01:26 PM

I've spent the last eight years sailing around the world, and have often been embarassed by Bush (the world at large doesn't protect the populace from as many of his blunders as the major US press).I have spent the last week crying off and on at the inconcievable blundering of the federal, and local governments and the tragic consequences. Friends from Houma report Mississippi was hit with a constant barrage of "get out, get out, go north". Louisianna, on the other hand was told to go to the superdome. That doesn't excuse the lack of food and water, lack of evacuation, turning away help offered by other countries, etc. "MY ADMINISTRATION will rebuild" is bogus, since it's your and my tax dollars, which should have been protected by reinforcing the levees long ago. Seems like a great time in US history for a viable third party.
A National Park? We need the port. The city will rise again to support it because that's the way Americans are. If NO is abandoned, then so also should anywhere with an earthquake fault, or prone to mudslides, forrest fires, etc. It's all one county. I know there has been a lot of heroic individual behavior unreported, because the country can't have gone downhill that much in eight years.
Americans as a whole are remarkable people, just lacking in judgement at the polls on occasion.

Posted by: carol | September 6, 2005 03:45 PM

Might be good that those cities do evacuate as well, considering the country can't continue to bail out everyone every couple of years.

It's Katrina now; it'll be an earthquake in Charleston; a winter storm in Maine; a volcano in Oregon...perhaps a trillion dollars from the government alone to rebuild. Then add the amount insurance will pay, and how everyone will pay a higher premium for the few who could afford multimillion dollar oceanfront homes, let alone the investors who keep trying to rebuild hotels and casinos on shaky ground.

If folks want to live/work/entertain in very high risk areas, they should be required to sign waivers of no federal or insurance help. That way they can truly pay for the view, while everyone else isn't raped at tax/bill time.

Charity is charity, a handout is a handout.


Posted by: SandyK | September 6, 2005 04:10 PM

SandyK - are you for real? I surely do hope you are living in a hermetically sealed box where no harm could possibly ever happen to you. Just where in the US - actually, where in the WORLD do you think is totally safe from Mother Nature, and if we ALL lived there, I suspect it would end up being as crowded as the New Orleans Superdome. Thanks, but you can keep your hermetically sealed box. I don't think I'd enjoy the company much.

Posted by: anon in the uk | September 6, 2005 04:59 PM


Tell me have you lost your home, then tried to get insurance afterwards? Until you lived through a disaster (we lost our home after one of the worst floods in our city, and escaped with our lives), then tried to recover and insure your property afterwards -- don't ask if "I'm for real". Been there, done that and survived to tell the woeful story.

Every disaster increases the premiums. Wholesale disasters ups them at rates that the poor; the working poor; the lower middle class would have difficulty paying the premiums -- sometimes at 3x the rates (if they're not dropped by their insurance carrier to begin with).

It's a serious matter for anyone on a fixed income or struggling to juggle those basic bills (i.e., electricity/gas/water). Do you care about the poor; or is this "I can do whatever I please, as I'm 'entitled' to do what I want as I pay XYZ?"

This country can't afford to pay for every cleanup over and over and over. Those who lose are the poor (as they can't afford the insurance if it keeps going up, up, up), not those who can afford rebuilding that multimillion dollar oceanfront home!!


Posted by: SandyK | September 6, 2005 10:12 PM

I think the solution when it comes to New Orleans is to rebuild with a difference - make restoring the wetlands a priority, not just lip service during election year or to special interest groups. Since the loss of these environmental habitats - due to overdevelopment and persistent, outright pollution over many years - are the main reason for the recent tragedy, it only makes sense to rebuild in a responsible manner. Even if real estate throws a tantrum over it.

SandyK, I'm confused about your waiver idea, to be signed foregoing federal help in the event of a catastrophe or natural disaster. Who, exactly, would really have the peace of mind to sign such an agreement unless they were super rich and physically/mentally/etc. able to repair and rebuild their home at a moment's notice?

Let's take me as an example - basically middle-class family background, retired Air Force colonel father and librarian mother. For the sake of argument let's also pretend that my parents live on the Gulf Coast, and that they're actually still married. Now, I didn't grow up poor by any stretch of the imagination but we certainly didn't buy a new car every other year or anything like that. So here we have my parents living in a house close to the ocean, a house that just happens to have been in our family for generations. We have extended family in the area; Dad has gone down to the corner bar to have a drink or three with buddies every Wednesday night for years, and Mom sits out on the porch with the other wives gossiping about their husbands' strange habits (no, this isn't biographical - why do you ask?) In short, they're a retired couple, minding their own business. But one day a law is proposed - about signing a waiver refuting all aid in the event of a hurricane. It, as well as the legislators who created it, are laughed out of town pretty much immediately (again, it's my fiction and I can imagine anything I want!).

My parents, in this fictitious situation, could never afford to totally rebuild after losing all their possessions and memories. If your law was passed they would unfortunately have to move awayand start completely over in the event of a disaster, regardless of the history, roots and friendships already established.

Doesn't that give blatant preference to people who don't have to think about mortgages, leases, and living paycheck to paycheck? Why do they deserve the land more than others who happen to have less money? And if the state one happens to live in is poorer than some others, why shouldn't the federal government help them out? After all, one of the Preamble's key verbs is...provide.

Posted by: Mary Elizabeth | September 6, 2005 11:50 PM

I don't think I could have answered SandyK's posting better than Mary E has, both elegantly and logical. Well done.

As for me ever having lost a home? No. Both because of the way I've chosen to live - bouncing all over the world - and because I've never been able to afford to buy my own home. Doubt I ever will. So, insurance or not, Sandy, you're already a couple rungs higher up the wealth and property ladder than I'll ever be. I have, however, had my house burgled, lost everything of any value. Insurance replaced some of it. But what insurance can't replace is the stuff of no monentary value whatsoever - photophraphs, holiday souvenirs, finger painting your kids did in kindergarten. Unless you lead a very empty, sterile life, those are things you miss the most. Insurance isn't supposed to replace your life - just give you a start on a new one.

I'm very sad for you that your experience with insurance has left you so embittered that you would wish the same hardship on someone else, just to make things 'even'. There is indeed a huge problem in the American insurance business, no argument there, and your own experience is indeed a good example of it. But denying insurance on the basis solely of where anyone happened to live - in an earthquake zone, or a state like Montana suffering droughts and worried about brush fire, the Gulf states with hurricanes, the midWest with tornadoes, anything close to a river, Alaska and polar bears, fer chissake - is pretty heartless.

Posted by: anon in the uk | September 7, 2005 09:50 AM

I find it ironic that so many people have such a negative attitude towards our Federal Government during a time like this. I think all of you should get a book on what is the respnsibility of local, county, state and federal governments role's when a disaster is approaching in any state in the U.S. Our constitution and laws are set up differnt from other countries to provide us with freedom's that other countries don't have. it is set up to where our government cannot go into any state without being invited to do so to keep us from having dictatorship like so many countries have. If you will notice in a lot of countries the leader's of those countries dictate to their people exactly what they will do or be shot or hanged. Our country is not that way.
The Feds can only come into a state if invited to do so. IF President Bush had sent in the Feds. without the governor asking them to, then he would be in deep doo-doo legally. If the governor of La. would have asked for Federal assistance, like she was asked to do, then the feds would have done their job the way it was suppose to be done. They were ready to go in but no one ask them to. So, don't put all the blame on the Feds. It is true that the Feds have not done what it could and should have done at the beginnig, but I ask all of you who are bitching, could any one of you done a better job? No one in this country has ever seen anything of this magnitude hit the U.S. and I hope we never will see it again. Let this be a lesson learned--that no matter how prepared we may THINK we are, something will always go wrong and all of us who are sitting here Monday night quarterbacking about this, need to stop and think about what did happen and how to fix it. Those levees have been a debate since the 1960's and no president whether he be Democrat or Republican has ever bothered to fix them so why is it that suddenly when they broke the full blame is on President Bush? Our beloved President clinton knew in the mid '90's that the levees were not safe, what did he do to correct them? What did Carter, Reagan, old man Bush do to correct them? the blame can go all the way back to the beginning of New Orleans. We were just lucky it didn't happen year's ago. In time we will see just what did go wrong and why it wasn't fixed, until then we must concentrate on getting these States back to functioning and their people back into their homes.

Posted by: carmen | September 7, 2005 11:17 AM

Impeach Bush: an idea whose time has come.

Posted by: Bill | September 7, 2005 12:20 PM

You can't impeach someone for having a low IQ. He actually would have to do something that constitutes a criminal act. Being stupid is not criminal in itself.

Posted by: Richard Cotton | September 7, 2005 01:26 PM

Carmen - I do so enjoy a worthy opponent, particularly one as courteous as yourself. And you should be commended on the loyalty you show in towing the party line. Just wish there might have been a tad more original thinking in it - I've read all this in the past few days, some of it verbatim, in a couple of White House Press Briefing Releases. These are the excuses being adhered to with the fervour of the desperate. A British journalist in New Orleans interviewed Deputy Chief of Police W. Riley who made an unequivocal statement that the local and state government had a SIGNED AGREEMENT in place two days before Katrina hit. There had been a contingency plan in place for over ten years based on a worst-case scenario projection. The local and state officials did all they were expected to do, while waiting for their federal partners, who didn't come... and didn't come... and didn't come. But beyond playing 'the blame game' Mr. Bush is adamant we shouldn't play while blaming the local and state government of Louisiana, sheer common sense and decency should have been a factor in this. Fear of lawsuits? Get real. Had Bush taken one look at the weeping mothers holding up their children and begging for someone to save them, strapped on his metaphorical sixgun and growled, 'I don' need no steenkin' invitation, let's go rescue us sum folks', he'd have been the hero of the hour instead of the same vilified incompetent who sat paralysed reading 'My Pet Goat' until someone could come tell him what to do.

The truth is right there, in front of your eyes. Locals were up to their ass in alligators, begging with tears in their eyes for help, while the lawyers in Washington were apparently dithering about the legal ramifications of who should be in charge of draining the swamp. So please, spare us the repeats of Bush justifications that I'm sure we're going to be heartily sick of over the next few months.

Posted by: anon in the uk | September 7, 2005 03:06 PM

Quick clarification: It should have read: 'A British journalist in New Orleans interviewed Deputy Chief of Police W. Riley who made an unequivocal statement that the local and state government had a SIGNED AGREEMENT in place WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT two days before Katrina hit.' Sorry if that was confusing.

Posted by: anon in the uk | September 7, 2005 03:11 PM

Mary Elizabeth wrote:

"SandyK, I'm confused about your waiver idea, to be signed foregoing federal help in the event of a catastrophe or natural disaster. Who, exactly, would really have the peace of mind to sign such an agreement unless they were super rich and physically/mentally/etc. able to repair and rebuild their home at a moment's notice?"

A few people, which is exactly what it's intended to do.

If you're really interested in evading coastal erosion, the easiest way to do it is to keep people out of the area. If you don't offer welfare to folks to keep rebuilding on ground not meant to be inhabited, then the erosion problem can be answered. Fewer or no people = no levees/no wetland removal.



I'm not trying to "get even" (that's a waste to just get EVEN, anyhow). It's called reality. If you wish to live in a flood zone; hurricane zone; tornado alley; earthquake area, there are consequences. One is that your choice shouldn't cost grandma her fixed income to pay for insurance on her home -- 2,000 miles away. Want the view? Want to live among the celebs? Pay for the fun out of your own pocket. Grandma has other bills to pay for.


Posted by: SandyK | September 7, 2005 05:15 PM

Thank you, Anon! :) Now if only you could give a little nudge to my senior thesis advisor...

SandyK, I respect that you believe you shouldn't have to contribute tax money to help people in the event of a disaster. Of course, I disagree 100% but that's the great thing about America isn't it?

However, I ran across an interesting report about the new highway bill just passed a few weeks ago in Congress (overwhelmingly). Shining examples of our tax dollars at work ($24 BILLION of them!) include: $941 million dollars slated for projects in Alaska - whose representative, Don Young, just happens to be the head of the committee - such as the 223 million-dollar bridge connecting an island with 50 residents with the mainland. Another 230-million bridge is specifically mandated in the bill to be named "Don Young's Way". Just to show you I have nothing against Alaskans and their fine state, other "highway" projects within the bill include parking lots in NYC, Virginian horse-riding facilities, a trolley museum in Washington...etc. This is all taken from The Boston Globe, dated 5 August.

THAT is where the fight needs to be centered where taxes are concerned, in my opinion, against politicians with full pockets and empty heads. I am, as well as you I'm sure, vehemently against tax dollars being spent in moronic and wasteful ways...but in some instances, many in fact, taxes can be used to serve a noble, useful and beneficial future for us and the next generation. What is more beneficial to society than lending a helping hand to the ones who need it? How else can the cycle of poverty be broken? Unfortunately, taxes do not a sexy headline make, and meaningful news of that sort is usually limited to the Nightly Business Report.

How to pick and choose what to fund federally and what to privatize? Well, we've heard a lot about privatization from a certain faux-Texan in power recently. But again, with privatization - who gets to make the decisions? Distribute the funding? Retain the power? Not you or me - certainly no one on Medicare or food stamps. It's simply enabling the system to continue in the same corrupt and power-obsessed manner.

Again, why shouldn't people in need be a priority of the American government? Why we should we balk at putting roofs over peoples' heads? Citizens in disaster areas shouldn't be penalized for where they live. In most cases, the poor simply have nowhere else to go.

Posted by: Mary Eliz | September 7, 2005 10:17 PM

To Anon in the UK - was Rice REALLY that insensitive?

Crap. The US has no hope.

Farewell guys - hope the slide to the bottom is fun and has nice views.


Posted by: Kim | September 8, 2005 01:04 AM

There is so much blame to go around it is incredible. And all of it from the top down (the Feds failed miserably)
The fact is a Cat #5 storm was heading straight for a huge portion of the gulf coast and warnings were alarming of the devastation to come. Our president just continued to vacation while people died. He did not get his people in readiness to move swiftly nor did he convene his cabinet. He is acting now but proaction was desparately needed Too little too late for someone in his capacity.
However as a Houstonion I definately believe that all the help we can give now is more than needed. From the rich to middle income to the very poor. Businesses are wiped away. Lucrative jobs gone.
Those are American citizens who deserved the support from our government in an immediate manner in their time of need. That did not happen and now the despair from losing everything is worsened with having lost so many loved ones.
Heartbreaking. It looks like pictures taken from a third world country.
How possible is it for the people to take the control back and make our governement by the people for the people. To insist that our tax dollars are spend wisely. And that the tax dollrs will stop going for highly inflated incomes.
Maybe it is just me but I pay taxes for this country. And fully expect that our government will be good stuards of it and spend wisely as well as save wisely. HA HA HA Now that sure isn't happening is it?
I have grandchildren and one beautiful great grandaughter and I am so very concerned just exactly what their future will hold.
My husband is retired and I am fast getting there and that too is of a concern. We will have a pretty good retirement but as everything keeps going up I wander just how many years down the road will we find ourselves living in a state of poverty.

Posted by: Judy | September 8, 2005 02:08 AM

Blimey Judy - you have a great grandchild and haven't retired yet? I order you to sit down and do nothing immediately! :)

And I hate to sound biased (which I AM), but I can't understand how it can be government for the people by the people if voting isn't compulsory. Bring in compulsory voting and save billions of dollars by not having to spend money trying to get people off their backsides.
Save lives with compulsory voting - then the government has to appeal to and take care of EVERYONE because ANYONE'S vote could make the difference.

You guys can _have_ the "Greatest Country in the world." I prefer to live in the Best one...

Posted by: Kim | September 8, 2005 02:49 AM

America has been returned to the 19th century courtesy of Bush and his GOP gang. Iam truly ashamed that I have previously been a conservative supporter. The totality of his warped and failed leadership should be swept away in our future elections!

Posted by: Myron | September 8, 2005 12:10 PM

Mary Eliz,

I never claimed to NOT help anyone in a disaster (that is a spin attempt to paint me as "uncaring", which is false). What I stated is the reality that this country can't afford to pay folks to rebuild on land that will continuely be destroyed by Mother Nature (it's also foolhardy).

You can't claim to be for those "poor folks", if on the other hand, you're all for overdevelopment of land that should be left to Mother Nature. Those "poor folks" aren't going to benefit (other than getting a menial job, which just keeps them as poor as if no development was there) -- they'll more likely DIE in the disaster that will occur for those shiny man-made tombs.

The pork that you wrote about is well known (ask Byrd about his fisheries project as well). Politicians have to bring home the bacon, and we have 50 states alone trying to gobble the trillions of tax dollars to show "I care" to their voters back home. To them it's not pork unless it's money spend by someone else in some other district.

One thing is for sure, if anyone thinks reforms to New Orleans will occur, they need to put down the bong, as politics trumps common sense over and over and over. The disasters will repeat again, since politicos would be out of office before the next one hits, so there's no consequences for their incompetence -- like the porkers they are, they'll smile and say, "I got mine" and be so smug.


Posted by: SandyK | September 8, 2005 12:11 PM

This whole terrible mess is indicative of the leadership at the top/ All poop/things start at the top and runs down hill starting with President Bush passing the buck. The good old boy attitude of appointing friends in high places is coming back to bite President Bush. Why are our Senators afraid to stop this man's control over our country's rights... freedom of expression?
Since 9/11 when President Bush was in the classroom with those children and the news came in regarding the terrorist attack , I won't forget the expressioin on his face"someone tell me what to do" while he did nothing and sat. He sat there without any reaction - almost like a performer, the show must go on. And now it took him 2 days after the hurricane hit, to end his vacation, to do his job as president.
Then watching the President visit a hurricane victim,a woman in the hospital with her husband (who were black), the president had that same goofy look on his face.One could see how uncomfortable he looked and"tell me what to say" was all over his face.The couple tolerated him and his publicity gimmick.
Now I heard that FEMA is going to keep our newsmedia out of the hurricane stricken areas at the point of a rifle. #1 we are not at war with ourselves in the US. #2the news media is not the enemy. #3 The people have a right to see the truth. Why doesn't President Bush want the public to see the bodies which will turn up? This is not Iraq! Talk about loosing touch with reality, I think the presidnet needs to see those who have died to truly get a sense of what he is putting people through both here and abroad . It is truly time to give voice to our fallen. The "Let them eat cake" President Bush has got to get in touch with the people and not his joy riding happy to be with his kind of people at the top.

Posted by: Vina Lopez-Troppy | September 8, 2005 02:09 PM


If ever there was a picture characterizing Bush admistration policies, both in New Orleans and elsewhere, this is it.

Everyone else on the planet sees it. We don't, but then you won't find this picture in our media either. That likely explains why.

Posted by: Big Al | September 8, 2005 02:13 PM

Hello Mr Bush
Denial is not a river in Egypt! Given the mans history of drug and alcohol abuse it is to be expected that he is accustomed to a state of denial about himself, the world around him and continues to make a happy face as the gulf states fell apart before our very eyes. Human misery. What's that. "Brownine youre doing a cgreat job" when he admitted that he was not even aware of the folks in the converntion center in LO BEGGING for help.His similarly out of touch mother has concluded that the folks who have lost their homes, perhaps loved ones, jobs and any kind of normal life and are traumatized and living on a cot in a jam packed shelter are actually better off now.
These folks are a rare bunch!

Posted by: Medea | September 8, 2005 04:40 PM


I agree with you that the wording of my first paragraph could have been MUCH more diplomatic...I apologize. You're also right that, in the end, Mother Nature always has the final say in human matters.

But as for forcing EVERYONE living in an area known for certain weather patterns to forego aid, I still don't believe it's feasible or practical. Where are the peremeters to be set determining eligibility or lack thereof?

I live in Tennessee, a place not known for tornados in particular, but on in particular killed 7 people and demolished part of a small town on the Cumberland Plateau in 2002, which contains several of the poorest counties in the state. Bush declared the area a disaster zone three days after touchdown, providing funds no one would have been able to provide otherwise. The state? Nope. Ask me about Tenncare sometime and you'll understand why. But we do have a fine lottery system that funds UT - oops, I meant public school education.

Snowstorms occur every winter in the Northeast. Flooding may happen not only along the banks of the Mississippi, but in a town or city with poorly executed plans and training by officials. God forbid, another city may be targeted, by nature or via terrorism. And where there are large cities, there are also large concentrations of the poor and uneducated. They may even live in LA, along the fault zone, because that's where they've lived for generations. Where are these people supposed to go? Who will take them in and shelter them while they search for jobs, find schools for their kids, find a new home they can afford? Will you? Will I? Businesses can often afford to relocate, rehire, rebuild somewhere else. How many destitute people have any of the same opportunities? How many have the time to take advantage of them?

If you're proposing a significant repopulation in certain areas with inclement weather patterns, we would have to be prepared to answer dozens of complicated questions like these, dealing with millions of uniquely differing needy situations. My main point is that these questions may not have answers we're able to hear, or solve.

Posted by: Mary Eliz | September 8, 2005 07:27 PM

There's a gigantic supervolcano under Yellostone park which scientists say has been on a regular eruption cycle of 600,000 years. The last eruption was 640,000 years ago... so the next is overdue. The next eruption could be 2,500 times the size of the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption. Volcanologists have been tracking the movement of magma under the park and have calculated that in parts of Yellowstone the ground has risen over seventy centimeters this century. 'It's not a question of if, it's when'.

When it does go, it would devastate the planet. Climatologists now know that the last supervolcano, Toba, blasted so much ash and sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere that it blocked out the sun, causing the Earth's temperature to plummet. Some geneticists now believe that this had a catastrophic effect on human life, possibly reducing the population on Earth to just a few thousand people.

I guess those would be the ones with insurance.

Posted by: | September 9, 2005 10:52 AM

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