Lessons and Blame

The Debate will be moving on to a new issue Monday -- the Roberts confirmation battle -- even though the debate over Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath is clearly going to continue for a long, long time. Before we turn to the Senate Judiciary Committee and the complex politics of the Supreme Court. it's worth trying to briefly sum up what lessons are starting to emerge from the Gulf Coast disaster, as well as who at this point seems most deserving of blame for making things worse.

Many columnists, editorial writers and bloggers are still grappling with one key Katrina question: Why did it take until the Friday after the storm had passed for substantial federal aid to arrive in hurricane devastated New Orleans, in spite of the fact that the president declared a state of emergency for Louisiana the Saturday before?

An editorial in the Post points out that the National Guard forces that arrived on Friday could have been en route much earlier -- as early as the Saturday before the hurricane. Columnist Charles Krauthammer says the fault for that falls entirely at the feet of the Louisiana governor: "It's her job to call up the National Guard and get it to where it has to go. Where the Guard was in the first few days is a mystery."

Ideally, Al Neuharth, a founder of USA Today, blames the lack of National Guard forces in part for the looting in New Orleans and Biloxi. "Louisiana and Mississippi have 18,860 members of the National Guard, usually used in such emergencies," he writes. "But 5,600 guardsmen and women from those two states are away on duty in Iraq."

I don't think there's enough proof out there to suggest that the delay was necessarily caused by deployments to Iraq, but I do wonder how re-enlistment numbers are for the Guard. If they're dropping, we could be in far bigger trouble when the next disaster hits. a stockpile of food and water would have been hauled into the Superdome before the hurricane, late Saturday or early Sunday, with a few armed guards to prevent theft. At the very least, the supplies could have been loaded up on Sunday to be trucked into the affected areas as soon as the hurricane passed, if it turned out to be necessary. The city didn't start flooding dangerously until Tuesday, so there was a window of opportunity late Monday to bring in relief supplies, had they been ready. That probably could have been handled by the local, state or federal government; perhaps if they were all talking to each other they could have made that happen.

Despite the administration's talk about how awful it is to "play the blame game," the Post reports that Bush and has begun trying to shift the blame down to the local and state levels. Undoubtedly the local government could have started earlier and done more to prepare for an evacuation, and the Louisiana reps in Congress shouldn't have wasted so much Army Corps of Engineers funding on porkbarrel projects. But expecting one city, or even one (already poor) state, to be able to deal with the immediate aftermath of such a massive disaster is unreasonable.

It also conflicts with the Homeland Security Department's National Response Plan, the development of which was directed by the president (first line, page i) and released in December of 2004.
See the top of page 44 for these "guiding principles" for a "Proactive Federal Response to Catastrophic Events":

*Standard procedures regarding requests for assistance may be expedited or, under extreme circumstances, suspended in the immediate aftermath of an event of
catastrophic magnitude.

*Identified Federal response resources will deploy and begin necessary operations as required to commence life-safety activities.

*Notification and full coordination with States will occur, but the coordination process must not delay or impede the rapid deployment and use of critical resources.

That's a very clear and very smart plan, and in fact it is for catastrophic events like the destruction of New Orleans that we have federal emergency management and presidential declarations of emergency and the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System. Journalists could get into the city -- as could students masquerading as journalists in a two-wheel drive Hyundai. If they could get in -- and help rescue victims -- what took the specially-trained forces so long?

Some readers have commented that we'll have "plenty of time" to figure out what went wrong, but we shouldn't be talking about those failures now. Of course, the folks in New Orleans also thought they had "plenty of time" -- the booklets on carpooling in an evacuation so people without cars could also get out of town safely were due out next month.

One of the biggest lessons of New Orleans is that full and comprehensive disaster planning cannot wait. Discussion and analysis doesn't have to be divisive. No one is helped -- not the victims of this tragedy, and certainly not victims of future tragedies -- if we avoid the tough issues now. We can analyze the situation and take action to help the victims, all at the same time.

Lessons learned so far: Cities and states across the country must have workable evacuation plans -- and thorough contingency plans for those who cannot or choose not to leave. (Memo to local governments: Get moving! I'm looking at you, Washington ...)

Cooperation between federal, state and local officials is paramount -- if we can't count on our public officials to rise above political differences and personal squabbles in a time of emergency, how can we count on them at all?

Spreading false rumors about what officials did and did not do is counterproductive. (Here, Media Matters for America debunks the rumor that Bush personally pleaded with Nagin to evacuate the city. We've already talked about the myth that Louisiana never declared a state of emergency.)

Disaster planning must focus on those who are least able to deal with disaster, the poor and infirm.

Sen. Barack Obama looked at it this way: "...whoever was in charge of planning and preparing for the worst case scenario appeared to assume that every American has the capacity to load up their family in an SUV, fill it up with $100 worth of gasoline, stick some bottled water in the trunk, and use a credit card to check in to a hotel on safe ground. I see no evidence of active malice, but I see a continuation of passive indifference on the part of our government towards the least of these."

By Emily Messner |  September 9, 2005; 7:00 PM ET  | Category:  Beltway Perspectives
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I watched several tv news personalities extolling the RedCross website, encouraging evacuees to post messages to let friends and family know where and how they were. When I watched people being loaded into buses leaving everything behind except a small bag, I don't recall seeing a single laptop. I wonder how many of those evacuees have computers, have friends and family with computers. Or even cable tv to watch the weather channel. Poverty is alien to most of us. It should be alien to all of us.

Posted by: MLM | September 9, 2005 08:27 PM

Ever since Bush took over the reigns of the country it has been driven straight into the toilet. The man is over reactionary to catastrophic events making hasty decisions about what he imagines the country wants. It appears there is an unbelieveable cadre of Bushites who would follow him into hades if he said go. I surmise that these folk are WW2 holdouts who believed in following their president into hell because the person was the president. It appears that generation didn't really think for themselves and put their faith in even an incompetent man. It seems obvious that Bush is Karl Roves puppet. You can tell by Bushes teeth which are Roves finger nails. His downhome delivery and almost zealot religious view (except for thou shalt not kill) don't make him a spokesman for me. His choices for key cabinet and support positions are inexperienced frat brothers. His whole handling of the matters of the past five years should open the eyes of anyone, even the faithful. His blatent disregard for those who are impoverished made situations worse. There is no plan for the poor and indigent for they are expendable.

Posted by: David Hutchinson | September 9, 2005 08:40 PM

Ever since Bush took over the reigns of the country it has been driven straight into the toilet. The man is over reactionary to catastrophic events making hasty decisions about what he imagines the country wants. It appears there is an unbelieveable cadre of Bushites who would follow him into hades if he said go. I surmise that these folk are WW2 holdouts who believed in following their president into hell because the person was the president. It appears that generation didn't really think for themselves and put their faith in even an incompetent man. It seems obvious that Bush is Karl Roves puppet. You can tell by Bushes teeth which are Roves finger nails. His downhome delivery and almost zealot religious view (except for thou shalt not kill) don't make him a spokesman for me. His choices for key cabinet and support positions are inexperienced frat brothers. His whole handling of the matters of the past five years should open the eyes of anyone, even the faithful. His blatent disregard for those who are impoverished made situations worse. There is no plan for the poor and indigent for they are expendable.

Posted by: David Hutchinson | September 9, 2005 08:40 PM

"No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy" (Field Marshall Helmuth Carl Bernard von Moltke) The principle problem with Katrina is that it overwhelmed those who were prepositioned to be the first responders. This left those who were still able to function to come-up with a Plan "B". Fortunately and unfortunately they were outside the disaster area. The NY Times reports that this led to a delayed response because the Governor of Louisiana and the President failed to effectively communicate on who would take the lead in responding.

I believe in preplanning for a disaster, but to assume that there won't be problems when the disaster occurs is a trip into fantasy land.

Posted by: Steve | September 9, 2005 08:49 PM

I have strongly criticized the WHite House's disaster relief in New Orleans.

But there's no getting around the fact that this disaster occurred because Congress failed to protect one of our most important economic nodes.

Because of that a lot of people have died and probably $300 BILLION is going to have to be spent to fix this mess. A lot of good could have been accomplished with that $300B.

A look at a series of 197 photographs of New Orleans taken over 5 days last week showed that direct damage from the Hurricane was not that bad. A deeply sad picture shows the people of New Orleans joyously walking the streets on a beautiful evening after the Hurricane passed -- one day before the real disaster struck ; i.e., when the 17th Street Canal levee broke and flooded New Orleans. See http://www.kodakgallery.com/Slideshow.jsp?mode=fromshare&Uc=14ewb3ap.b147fdut&Uy=nyvoby&Ux=1

FEMA Director Michael Brown had maybe one to three days to respond to the Katrina disaster. By contrast, the US Congress has had 10 years to prevent it but was too corrupt to do so.

Members of Congress know that. THat's why Nancy Pelosi reacted so strongly when CNN reporter Kyra Phillips tried to bring this issue up. Pelosi's charge that Phillips was trying to "work for the WHite House" was deeply deceitful --intended to divert viewers attention away from the fact that Democratic Senators John Breaux and Mary Landrieu --along with Republican Congressmen Bob Livingston and Billy Tauzin-- are largely responsible for New Orleans being under 20 feet of water today.

New Orleans receives a huge amount of funding for the Corp of Engineer projects --but the money was diverted to developments that helped corporations. (See the link to "porkbarrel projects" in Emily Messner's article above.)

Every incumbent Member of Congress is also personally responsible for New Orleans -- because they sacrificed New Orleans to logrolling and corrupt pork barrel spending. EVERY incumbent should be thrown out in the next election.

Congressional corruption, irresponsibility, and incompetence has a deadly price.
The latest federal budget shows a federal debt in 2008 that is $3.8 TRILLION more than what was projected just 4 years ago.

Millions of Elderly baby boomers are going to die like the people in New Orleans -- in the despair of deep poverty and without medical care -- because the US Congress has stolen $2 Trillion from our Trust Funds for Social Security/Medicare and is in the process of stealing $2 Trillion more.

Posted by: Don Williams | September 9, 2005 08:53 PM

The Bush Administration and Bush loyalist say Bush did a great job. FEMA was praised by George Bush. Everything is going great. Barbara Bush says those people are living better now then they did before. Laura said her husband isn't racis and he did a great job in the recovery. Karen Hughes is tell Americans and the world we didn't see what we saw. A few Americans agree with Bush. The majority of Americans don't. Five days of the world watching people die on TV and poor whites and blacks and sick people it looked like a Third World Country. Now the spin and blame game begins. No matter how we feel thousands died that could have been saved. What does human life mean to our govenment? We are one America not Bush's divided America and we showed him that. So to all the Bush loyalist get use to us because we are going to stay united we want let you divid us again.

Posted by: Jackie Rawlings | September 9, 2005 08:55 PM

Millions of Schiavos will die when these so-called sympathetic folks kill them off, as some folks decided to be judge and jury and consider it's fine to make them dehydrate and starve to death.

Karma?

It's a flat out disgrace to see the very party that defended the sick and old the "right" to blow their brains out, under Katrina conditions or in some nursing home, are now crying about the plight of "floaters" and of the 30+ elders who drowned in New Orleans.

That's utter and bloody hypocrisy.

No one needs to die in this day and age, willingly. And to die so quickly is a disgrace to humanity, for all the years our ancestors struggled to survive, only to have their offspring "off" themselves off because a bedpan is too indecent.

I bet those Katrina victims would've drank fresh water out of a bedpan if that's what it took to survive.

Some people are going to make the Darwin cut -- and apparently not the vain intellectual types.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 9, 2005 09:10 PM

Who is Emily Messner and why is her photo featured on the home page of The Washington Post? Is she a columnist? A reporter? An editor?

Posted by: H.Perlo | September 9, 2005 09:30 PM

Seems they're promoting "The Debate". Just saw Emily got a larger photo, and is now "above the fold" on the opinion page.

Apparently WP is seeing that this format is working, and trying to drive traffic here -- please, please, please!

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 9, 2005 09:47 PM

Just noticed that my link above to the photo of New Orleans the evening before the flooding did not go to specific photo but rather goes to the start of the portfolio.

To see the specific photo I'm referring to , click on the link I cited. When the first photo comes up, go to the bottom where 197 thumbnails are laid out in 6 rows.

Go down to the 4th row from the top. Starting at the left border, move right over to the 10th photo from the left border. Click on that photo. It shows that New Orleans was in surprising good shape after the hurricane passed. If the levees had been built up , this would not have been a disaster. If New Orleans had been broken up into compartments, this disaster would not have happened.

What happened in New Orleans is the equivalent to having a huge aircraft carrier sink after someone drills a 1/4inch hole in its side. Its inexcusible.

Posted by: Don Williams | September 9, 2005 09:56 PM

What lessons we learn from Katrina disaster? Too many to count. I've come up with a very tentative, incomplete list:

1) We need to find radical solutions to environmental degradation. According to a Post article, "The Lure of Coastal Life..." (Sept. 7), scientists and environmentalists have cautioned for years that the nation's coastline is dangerously overbuilt. Coastal development often degrades the barrier beaches and coastal wetlands than can serve as natural buffers against hurricanes. The federal government refused to spend the money to improve the levees in Lake Pontchartrain. Scientists have warned of the dangers to New Orleans for years.

Given the track record of the current administration on environmental issues it is extremely doubtful if this lesson will ever be learnt.

2) Cut down on red tape and bureaucratic delays when meeting emergency situations created by natural disasters. One of the sorry spectacles in the aftermath of Katrina was the bitter wrangling among the City, State and Federal authorities as to who is competent to do what. In the meantime people were dying. In situations of emergency, small but efficient government is better than multiple centers of power without a clear chain of command.

3) Acknowledge that there is a class and racial divide in the country and take effective steps to address urban poverty, unemployment as top national priority.

4) Try to spread freedom from poverty, dependence and poor self-image among the "underprivileged" instead of attempting to spread democracy at gun point or waste precious resources in searching for nonexistent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq or elsewhere.

5) Learn to work with other nations in finding solutions to pressing problems both at home and aborad.

Posted by: Lea | September 9, 2005 09:58 PM

Re Perlo's question: " why is her [Emily Messer's] photo featured on the home page of The Washington Post? "
------
Have you seen Charles Krauthammer's mug?
(shudder )

Posted by: Don Williams | September 9, 2005 09:59 PM

Excellent subject and introduction, Emily. Interesting comments made by people here as well to get us started.
Now... the blame game. Yes, it's a nice rhyme, but I wonder if it is also a huge distraction to proper debate and discussion over why this happenned (not Katrina, but the lame/lethal response to it) and how we can prevent it from happening again. Instead of blame, it is accountability we should be focused on. Nobody wants to simply lay blame (except those seeking political gain), while everybody (except those responsible for the tragedy) do want accountability.
It is a false dichotomy to say we cannot seek accountability and deal with the relief effort at the same time. I can walk and chew gum at the same time; We all can. The main reason it's been put out there that we can't do both simultaneously is because those who know they will be held accountable desire to delay accountability until a time when such accountability will be less fierce. I think it is becoming obvious now that that tactic isn't going to work; Emotions run high over this national tragedy, and they are not going to dissipate in time, especially when you factor in that the repercussions of all this are only just beginning... the economic impact WILL set in, and there will be hell to pay for all of us when it does. Sadly, this watershed moment in American history is only beginning, though we should be happy that the human toll is pretty much complete (albeit not yet assessed in it's actual scope).
As for how accountability will be doled out, it is apparent what is already developing:
Michael Brown is being moved to the sidelines, and will go down in history as a an incompetent crony who cost innocent people their lives.
Michael Chertoff will have his day as well, though who is to say how at this point; Most likely something along the lines of what 'Brownie' got.
The other person within the executive branch who is already feeling the sting of accountability is of course George W Bush; Try as he might, he cannot duck the buck, as it stops where he presides. People were arguing before Katrina that he was a lame duck; Now he might as well be a dead duck. His presidency has been a shaky one at best, and now that particular house of cards is slowly falling apart... the rest of his term in office is going to be a rough one, as, no matter what a bipartisan investigation discovers come February, the court of public opinion has already set in.
As for the rest of the federal government, I would imagine that, though they won't be considered accountable, the Republican members of Congress will pay a high price as part of the accountability held against their party's leader, President Bush. Through Bush, they have positioned themselves as the party of national security, and we are less secure as a nation due to this Katrina crisis. Their accountability will obviously come in 2006.
As for the state governments and the politicians that run them, I cannot offer a specific opinion, as I am not from that region, and it is obvious that those officials will be held accountable by those states' constituents; I imagine that it will be tough to be an incumbent in the Gulf states come election time.
Locally, I think Mayor Nagin may be able to weather the political storm, although it's kind of a moot point right now, as the very city he runs has a questionable and uncertain future at this point. He may be able to defend his performance prior to and during the hurricane, or he might be placed into the past and forgotten about when the 'new' New Orleans resurfaces.
On a final note, the American people are slowly taking a look at themselves and beginning to assess their own culpability in the matter. The government that failed so badly in the face of Katrina was put there by all of us who vote, and we will rightfully begin to wonder how we can prevent such a government from remaining so grossly incompetent. The politicians may not have the personal character to assume self-accountability, but the people most definitely do.

Posted by: ErrinF | September 9, 2005 10:21 PM

I wrote these words in 2001 and they still ring true.


"America in Crisis"

Weathered and withered, yet fighting to stay strong
She preaches to the word, what's right and what's wrong!

Far from the days of kings, queens and thrones
She searches for her future through old buried bones!

Having fought for freedom and recovered from her woes
She now makes allies of enemies and friendly foes!

Freedom is seldom rewarded without a fight
She stood strong and fought with all of her might!

Battled and beleaguered, but never thrown
She blink, but manages to hold her own!

Raising her arms and waving her flag
She never quite understand why spirits sag!

While both sides in a conflict can celebrate a victory
She remains unsure what will be recorded in history!

The war may be over, but the battle may never die
She has to worry about those born to defy!

A call for war is a call to bear arms
She seized property, uproots homes and burns family farms!

Battled and beleaguered, but never thrown
She blinks, but manages to hold her own!

Struggling to forget the symbols of the past
She makes light of the shadows she has cast!

Paying homage to old statues, relics and alike
She celebrates them with a vengeful might!

Talking loud and emitting a foul-smelling spew
She ignores the masses and cast her lot with a venomous few.

Once enslaving a race of people
She seeks forgiveness through the church and steeple.

Battled and beleaguered, but never thrown
She blinks, but manages to hold her own!

Vowing never to bestow her enslaved people with civil right
She finally agrees to stop the protests and end the fights!

Boasting of her greatest achievement, a democracy
She struts her stuff with Oh! Such hypocrisy!

Consumed with power ad the praises of the Almighty
She sometimes seems shallow and oh so flighty!

The worlds of Ali, Jehovah, and Buddha are powerful and plenty
She chooses the words of a few and ignored the teachings of many.

Battled and beleaguered, but never thrown
She blinks, but manages to hold her own!

Scholars and writers are dutiful in keeping her memory alive
She is hell-bent on making them bountiful in mine eyes!

Long ago, boasting of the land of milk and honey,
She remains subservient to only those with money!

Bursting at the seams are the infirmed and meek
She casts her lot with the rich and remains oblivious to the weak.

Able-bodied men no longer a part of the team
She purges those once held in high esteem!

Battled and beleaguered, but never thrown
She blinks, but manages to hold her own!

Once dependent upon the goodness of strangers
She flirts with evil and makes light of the dangers.

Once embracing the tired, hungry and poor,
She now forcibly shows them the door!

Unobtrusively seeking to close her borders,
She readies herself with painstaking orders!

Battled and beleaguered, but never thrown
She blinks, but manages to hold her own!

Proudly keeping out families and kin
She is demanding only to barter that which is made from within!

Albeit the masses fight to stay afloat
She turns away hundred in a very small boat!

She finds herself beseeched with self-righteous piety
Unaware that right belongs only to God Almighty!

Hoping all along that history will remember kindly
She makes promises to the rich and famous blindly.

Casting her most precious commodity on the street,
The homeless fights to stay warm, if not only to eat.

Amusing herself by flexing her muscles
She protest too much of those with the hustles!

Parading her fire powers in the Gulf and lands afar
She reek havoc while leaving an indelible scar!

Babies are killing babies
And babies are raising babies.

The young are relentless in the struggle to fight for an identity
The old, cast aside often void of any companionship and dignity.

She calls it pride!
I call it genocide, the killing of a people.

Nadine M. Chatman 2005

Posted by: Nadine Chatman | September 9, 2005 10:28 PM

The whole thing is a total disgrace and shows the American people what a pitiful bunch of convicts we have who are supposedly "running the country.
They're running it alright....straight down the path to total ruin.
They all, ought to be tarred and feathered and then sent to the moon ( on the back side )forever!

Posted by: Dan | September 9, 2005 10:31 PM

Why do Fox News have such characters with mugs that look weird? If it's not Greta with a Rocky Balboa's mouth, it's that guy on their financial program (Jonathan whoever) that literally looks like a chimp -- more so than Bush would ever look like)?

Krauthammer's article IS apologistic, and I'm not surprised since he's paid by Fox News (they just need George Will, Novak and Walter Williams and they would have every conservative pundit in their fold). He's also dead wrong about hurricanes, as there's not enough data to conclude "global warming" is or isn't causing larger and more hurricanes -- PERIOD. To claim it's settled (knowing climatic data is so fluid) makes his opinion naive to be nice, utterly stupid in his understanding of the difference between a theory and fact (which I'm sure he has no problem distinguishing over Evolution and Creationism). That type of cherry picking is what makes me so freaking upset about partisanship and CYA loyality. They'd fudge and distort anything.

Politics is the world's dirtiest and ugliest profession.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 9, 2005 10:36 PM

Here's some lessons that needs to be learned:

1. Don't claim about the "dignity" of the dead, when they've been laying out to rot for over a week.

2. Don't claim about the loss of "dignity" by keeping photographers from the bodies. Has zero to do about loss of their dignity, considering how many photos are released of crime victims alone.

What is clear is: the above is for damage control. Bush prevents any photos of the dead from being displayed. Like keeping the ugliness of policies hidden, it'll make things better. Nope. Death is ugly, but it's no national security secret.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 9, 2005 11:01 PM

Well said ErrinF. 9/11 didn't do it, Iraq didn't do it, maybe Katrina will cause the American people to see the true colors of the emperor's clothes.

While the intellectuals and Bush supporters seem to believe that this debate is Democrats vs. Republicans and liberals vs. conservatives, rest assured that middle-class front-porch America could care less what the labels are. They focus simply on what they believe to be right. They saw the pictures of the victims, they heard GWB's praise for Brownie, they listened to the continuous empty mantra of "we're here to help", and more than one TV network focused on a smiling Bush during his first visit to the Gulf Coast inviting attendees to join him for pictures. Bush was smiling for the cameras while New Orleans drowned.

Yes, we as American citizens and voters must do everything in our power to insure we do not propegate this inept form of Government. My voter registration card clearly states that I have specified no party preference. I will vote for whoever, Democrat or Republican -- liberal or conservative, presents plans for preservng the future of America. No more cowboy politics, no more worldwide expeditions to overthrow foreign governments (justified by lies to the world and the American people), no more having a President and Commander-in-Chief that can not prevent a foreign attack on American soil (I still can't beleive that we could not prevent a direct assault on the Pentagon!), and no more Presidents who are so arrogant that they refuse to accept responsibility for any failure and refuse to admit that they could ever make a mistake.

Maybe I ask for too much. I lived in the DC area for almost 40 years and am well aware that Washington thrives on politics, not Government accountability. But, I still have hope. That is more than the 1890-some dead American soldiers in Iraq and the 1000's of poor souls in New Orleans have.

Posted by: GerryP | September 9, 2005 11:03 PM

What needs to be learned, but sadly won't...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/08/AR2005090801673.html

You can bet your bottom dollar that the same land will be rebuilt -- as the rally cry will be "stronger, better", as the politicians endorse it (how better to be elected/re-elected)?

How many hundreds to thousands more deaths will it take before those folks will learn: Mother Nature takes care of her own, and she'll also will reclaim her own? Man will never control her. Mother Nature will always take what is hers.

It should be ordered that no development be made 1 mile from the shoreline. If folks can't walk a mile to view the beach, America is truly a Tele-Tubby and Lard butt society.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 9, 2005 11:18 PM

Lets face it, Bush and his administration and the local administrations will all be around for a while. Even Brownie at FEMA it seems. So the cleanup and rebuilding of the Gulf Coast will happen, slowly, and we'll all slowly forget about it as we buy Xmas gifts, celebrate New Years and slog through a winter with high heating bills (oh yea, nat. gas it supposed to be 75% higher this winter), celebrate spring, and next summer most will be forgotten. But the Congressional election advertising will be in high gear then. Who wants to bet the republicans will be taking credit for whatever good happens in the Gulf Coast over the next year? Rove and Hughes will make sure what we're all seeing now will be recast as a failure of those bad ol' democrats. And if you don't want your city under water, you better vote republican. Oh yea, and remember gay marriage might end up causing your child to become gay. Oh yea. And while we all shake in our boots and vote republican, Rove will spin in his chair and keep fiddling as America continues to rot.

If you want change, you must vote, and vote intelligently. You don't like Tom Delay, or Bush, but you like you local republican representative or senator? Well, supporting your local republican is supporting Bush, Hastert and Delay. It gives them leadership positions. You want to kick out the republicans, you need to vote them all out. And don't worry about gay marriage for crying-out-loud! Grow up! Think for yourselfs and question authority for goodness gratious.

Posted by: Sully | September 9, 2005 11:40 PM

WHOA!! Hey, folks read this.....the REAL game is afoot!!

http://www.slate.com/id/2125899/?nav=fo

===========================================
"As a focal point of public rage, Brown remains useful to Bush as a fall guy. But can we really believe that ultimate blame for the rescue debacle resides in a man who ended his memo to Chertoff asking for assistance with a simpering plaudit: "Thank you for your consideration in helping us to meet our responsibilities." Someone who had to write that memo wasn't powerful enough in the first place to have caused the system to fail at the federal, state, and local levels."
===========================================

I give Slate an A+ for snooping.

Has anyone picked up on the above. Who's the "Big Cheese" then that Brown had to almost beg for assistance? Does this sound like a pattern???????????????

How many were begging for action after Katrina? Nagin/Blanco -- and now even Brown?

Something isn't right in this whole picture. They all were begging, and then so much into gladhanding each other after Bush showed up.

Coincidence? Or something else is going on, like a staged event?

Any sleuths around to dig up some bones?

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 9, 2005 11:58 PM

The hubris has approached and it is the American people that have surely paid for the follies of our misguided foreign policy.

I sincerely hope that the American people have learned a valuable lesson in the wake of the latest natural disaster.

The balance of forces are their to remind us that when we perpetuate evil and destruction, it comes back to us in various forms...

Remove the emporer, the boy king, his follies have resulted in wanton destruction and death.

Impeachment is vital for our democracy!! Without it we wil surely fail..

Posted by: Sterling Hollow Horn | September 10, 2005 12:12 AM

SandyK:

A rule I have learned to follow in life and it has proven itself over and over again is the following:

Do not confuse conspiracy with incompetence .

Your last post (and Slates article) seem to imply that a conspiracy is happening to protect someone higher up who kept Brownie from doing his job. Maybe, but in all likelyhood there was no time for a conspiracy. These guys need time to formulate them, like the swift boat ads (not from the WH!). No, its very likely there was a complete and utter screwup:
-Bush was winding down his vacation.
-Brownie was doing his best, but he was in over his head.
-Chertoff was worried about terrorists, not hurricanes.
-Brownie looked to his people and they were mostly over their heads as well.

Now if you are looking for a conspiracy, look to Walmart, which prepared ... PREPARED ... for the hurricane and had trucks ready ... READY to roll ... with food, ice and water. Why? Are they christians? Do they love their fellow man? Did FEMA outsource its job to Walmart? Did Walmart executives think it would be a good PR campaign to save the customers of 40+ Walmart stores...BINGO!

Posted by: Sully | September 10, 2005 12:22 AM

From Europe we express our solidarity to all US people, especially those poorer who have much suffered the tragedy and are eager to send all the help needed and face the information and images with sadness and surprise. It is difficult to understand how a 'developed' country like the US that exports its model of expertise to many other countries has failed so tremendously in a case of emergency like that of Katrina.
The role of the State, the coordination links between different levels of administration are at issue.
But more important, there are thousands and thousands of people with real need; the need to survive. The Katrina has showed to all of us how much and what they are. And they are where they were before the Katrina, just a little worse, with no TV images to blame others for their situation and despair.

Posted by: Diego Z | September 10, 2005 01:31 AM

Sully,

Take your kook analysis and stuff it. I'm not talking about an conspiracy.

Something is AMISS in this whole situation.

It's appearing Brown didn't have the clout. If he didn't have the clout, he couldn't have done anything -- like order the trucks to roll. He had to WAIT until someone up the chain of command gave the okay.

The questions are:

1. If Brown didn't have the clout, who did?
2. If Brown didn't have the clout, why?
3. Who has that clout (i.e., who's the real power broker, and the guy REALLY responsible for the delay)?
4. Why is there a pattern of BEGGING for aid? If it was just one official it's nothing, but it's the mayor, governor, and by the looks of it, even Brown.
5. Has this begging pattern been repeated in the Bush Administration?

Is Bush keeping the powerbase to just a few? While the rest have to confer with the "chief" before anything is done? Reread that Slate quote again. How in the hell is the FEMA director kowtowing, when he has to have direct power to do his job? It's appearing Brown's a puppet, a director in name only, and someone else up the chain is pulling the strings. Someone perhaps vacationing that Labor Day weekend and unavailable to give direct supervision/approval (Cheney?).

Brown's not qualified for his position so he has to go, but perhaps that Slate author has picked up a trail, and one that may lead to Bush's Achilles' heel.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 01:48 AM

I thought the Post did the country a service with its front page story revealing the Rove-Bartlett political damage control campaign. From it, we know that, as it became clear to Bush and his disorganized White House that their failure to do their jobs would have significant political fall-out, Rove and Bartlett put together the three-fold scheme we are seeing in action now. First, Bush is 'above it all,' leading the cavalry to the rescue. Second, don't 'politicize' the disaster (now childishly referred to as not playing the 'blame game'). Third, blame the nearest Democrats to the scene.

As the facts come out, we are learning how mendacious the charges are against the state and local officials. The Washington Post itself had to retract a bogus story from a 'senior White House' source that asserted Governor Blanco had not yet declared an emergency, a flat out lie that has unfortunately now made its way around the usual circuits of Bush apologists in the media and the blogosphere.

But that is not really the point anyway. Even to defend the state and local officials is to engage the exact debate Rove and Bartlett want. Instead of a laser focus on Bush's failure to lead the federal government as the nation faced a crisis, we are drawn into a discussion of how to share the blame.

No amount of incompetence by others excuses the dereliction of duty Bush displayed. The timeline of the brewing disaster shows him continuing on vacation, attending a fund raiser and a birthday party, and slipping in a round of golf as the hurricane approached and even after the New Orleans levee broke. In the face of this lackadaisacal performance, the question the nation should be discussing is not how to share the blame. It should be whether Bush should keep his job.

It is doubtful that this Congress will impeach Bush. However, enough popular outcry could force Bush to resign and take his team with him.

In other countries, when leaders fail this badly, they resign. They do not try to blame others or scapegoat their own underlings. Bush should resign.

Posted by: Johnuw93 | September 10, 2005 01:58 AM

SandyK: The answer is obvious. The only one with the clout to mobilize the federal government on the scale needed to cope with this disaster is George Bush. Where was he? Instead of continuing with his light schedule of activities, including a last day at the faux ranch in Crawford, he should have been on the job, rallying the team, and doing all he could to ensure that every bottleneck was broken and every resource made available. Brown could not overcome the indifference of the man at the top of the pyramid. The scope of Bush's failure and negligence cannot be conveyed in a short message.

Of course, instead of take responsibility, Bush relies on Rove and Bartlett to spin the criticism away and scapegoat others who had nowhere near his institutional capacity to influence events. Such failure must have consequences.

Given that Congress will not impeach, the only remedy I can see is a popular demand for resignation that results in Bush stepping down.

Posted by: johnuw93 | September 10, 2005 02:06 AM

One lesson that I learned from this, Karl Rove isn't a brilliant political strategist.

Considering the forewarning this administration had concerning the potential devistation of a hurricane such as Katrina, why did the administration respond without any urgency? Please see the following timeline:

http://www.bushwatch.net/disaster.htm

I don't understand how late Monday evening, 10 hours after the breaching of the 17th Street Canal Levee, Rumsfeld takes in a San Diego Padres baseball game.

On Tuesday, Bush speaks on Iraq at Naval Base Coronado (discussing the similarities between Iraq and WWII, evidencing that this administration lives in a fantasy world), after which he plays guitar with country music singer Mark Willis. Finally he returns to Crawford for some more vacation time.

On Wednesday, Rice takes in a Broadway show.

On Thursday, Rice plays tennis with Monica Seles and then goes shopping for Ferragamo shoes on 5th Ave.

During the entire time, people are on their roofs dying. Didn't Rove get word out to the administration that they should feign concern for the victims of Hurricane Katrina? Certainly, its hard to put a positive spin on the administration's blasé reaction.

Posted by: Aaron | September 10, 2005 02:50 AM

First off, Nadine's poem was awesome; Thanks for sharing.
Second, thanks for the compliment, Gerry, and I appreciated your post's insight as well.
Third, I totally agree with johnuw93's praise of the article that ratted out Karl Rove's strategy developed last weekend (I first read it in the NYTimes, not the Post). It's eerie seeing how quickly Rove's strategy gets put into play by our top-down society, what with the entire Republican party at his disposal. The man basically wages war on the electorate on behalf of the political class; The 'blame game' is part of his 'Plame game', personally inserting himself to quell any opposition to the administration with no regard whatsoever for the legitimacy of such opposition. While Rove is supposedly skilled to mythic proportions (a myth he most likely created by manning the phones to his cadre of reporters), he is actually very easy to figure out and counter, that is, if you aren't some lameass Democrat strategist/politician.
Fourth, I couldn't disagree more with Sully's assessment that Bush and Rove's usual tricks are going to get them out of this one. They've been treading on thin ice for quite some time; Katrina washed away many of their lies, and they no longer have the good will of the American people to take advantage of. While I agree that Bush will stay in office for the rest of his term (unless he fails to prevent yet another terrorist attack on our soil, and one can only imagine how Al Qeada is scrambling to strike as soon as possible to make the most of our current tragedy), I don't think that term is going to be an easy one for him... the last president to be this low in approval ratings during their 2nd term was Nixon... apropos, being that Bush and Nixon will most likely be in competition for who gets the title of worst American president ever. As far as winning that title goes, you're doing a heckuva job, Bushie.

Posted by: ErrinF | September 10, 2005 03:49 AM

How about this for an ominous prediction:

In 2007, a major earthquake will hit Southern California. The epicenter will be in the Los Angeles area.

How I arrived at my prediction (not scientific in the least)...

I lived in Brooklyn on 9/11/2001, about 4 miles from the World Trade Center (30 minute commute)...

I live in St. James Parish, Louisiana, about 30 miles from New Orleans (45 minute commute)...

I am planning to move to Los Angeles in January, 2006....

The Federal Emergency Management Agency listed a hurricane strike on New Orleans as one of the most dire threats to the nation, up there with a large earthquake in California or a terrorist attack on New York City.

I figure an alarming disaster occurs every odd year in this administration... In 2003, Bush started a war of agression that will only have losers...

Finally, Bush and his administration will have one final opportunity to prove to the American people (and the world for that matter) just how inept a leader he really is...

I hope that I am wrong...

Peace,
Aaron

Posted by: New Orleans Blues | September 10, 2005 06:02 AM

In response to ErrinF's commentI would have thought that Nixon, for all his evil did manage to negotiate a realistic relationship with China, something that was essential for world stability. Bush? He's just a puppet. Your problem is with the puppeteers.
As for future fantasies, Aaron's sounds so grim that it may well come true. Even so, and speaking from the outside (10,000 miles away), isn't it about time that you "the people" started all acting as full citizens vote in all elections, and learn to take responsibility for your government (at all levels). The US was the first modern democracy and because of this created clumsy and confusing structures (eg the electoral college) to refine the power. Why not start a push for reform that includes constitutional reform to more properly reflect the needs of the country in the 21st century? I know that's a tall order, but this is a time for reflecting not only on the state of the nation, but contemplating on ways to heal deepening rifts.
In Australia, a collection of former convict colonies that managed to vote itself into a federal democracy without a war, we have compulsory voting (if you don't vote there's supposed to be a fine but no-one ever gets fined). The conservatives hate this because it empowers ordinary people. Elections are held on Saturday so more people can vote. We have pre-polling and postal voting for people who can't be around.
OK we make mistakes. Our current prime minister is doing his best to turn Australia into a vassal state of the US. But there is no doubt that the government is legitimate.
India likewise manages a real democracy with a large and diverse population (they could teach the US a thing or two about efficient and honest voting procedures).
The first step is to stop asking for leadership from those who are clearly incapable of it, and begin to do what you can to create a climate where potential leaders are nurtured. It's a long term project.

Posted by: Jo | September 10, 2005 07:41 AM

The tragedy of Katrina unfolds on the evening news day after day. Thousands may be dead. Billions to rebuild. Lives and homes destroyed. Not just a city, but a whole region needs to be re-built from the ground up. Amidst the tragedy, a travesty lurks and beckons all Americans everywhere to take notice and do something about.

The travesty is that four years after 9/11, Homeland Security a failure. America is not ready for any kind of major disaster whether caused by terrorists or nature. The travesty is that although Bush has defined his presidency as a "war time" presidency sparked by 9/11, he has done precious little to prepare the nation for the next attack.

Bush: "It's very important for us to understand the relationship between the federal government, the state government and the local government when it comes to a major catastrophe. And the reason it's important is, is that we still live in an unsettled world. We want to make sure that we can respond properly if there's a WMD attack or another major storm. And so I'm going to find out over time what went right and what went wrong."

This is a remarkable admission of failure. So after four years, NOW Bush needs to understand the relationship between the levels of government during a response to an emergency? Wasn't that part of Homeland Security's charter-- to coordinate all levels of government to achieve a seamless response? What has the department of Homeland Security been doing all these years?

Bush also said, "...to find out over time..." Just what is Bush waiting for to get this right? HE defended the attack on Iraq by the so-called urgent nature of the WMD dangers. HE defined our priorities by saying the nation is at war with terrorists, so when is our "war time" president going to get around to fighting the "war"? Apparently, Bush thinks this is a war that can be fought at his leisure while our men and women die on the battlefields of Iraq. What a travesty that our military would defend the homeland in a foreign land, then return home to an UNSAFE homeland. No, "what went wrong" is that we have a clueless president who appoints clueless people to handle the security of the nation. The stupifying irony is that the "red" states re-elected Bush because they wanted to "stay the course" during wartime, but George went on vacation taking his administration with him.

Note that terrorists will not be so forthcoming:
* Katrina provided five days of warning, a terrorist attack will provide no warning.
* Katrina provided the nature of the attack so that we had the opportunity to know how to respond in advance. Terrorists will not provide advanced information about their attack.

Get this. Katrina has done more damage than just about any conceivable WMD attack. So why are we in Iraq? While we squander billions and kill our young men and women, OTHER dangers have stepped up to bite us. We have placed the nation's resources in entirely the wrong place. While a WMD attack is a remote possibility, the danger of hurricanes has been predicted for decades. The $64,000 question is: If we know that there is a danger out there that can cause at least as much danger as a terrorist WMD attack and that danger IS MORE likely to occur, then why aren't we devoting more resources to responding to that danger? The nation is fixated on terrorist WMD when Katrina caused more damage than an attack of Bin Laden's wildest dreams.

The Bush administration continues to scare the public with CODE ORANGE, CODE RED, in a blatant attempt to cause the public to be fixated on dangers that THEY want us to focus on when those dangers are only the pet projects of neo conservative idiots in the administration. By focusing the fear of the nation on THEIR issues, the nation is duped into fighting THEIR battles when more pressing dangers abound: tens of thousands deaths each year on the roads, hundreds of thousands dead each year to heart disease and cancer. Now, thousands dead due to a very predictable threat-- hurricanes.

By every measure, Bush has failed to protect America:
* Bush failed to seal our borders.
* Bush failed to protect air travel.
* Bush failed to capture Bin Laden, Mullah Omar, Al Zarqawi, and cronies.
* Bush failed to appoint leaders that had the proper credentials for critical emergency-response positions.
* Bush failed to prepare the nation to respond to an attack once it occurred.
* Bush failed, period.

Bush apologists have been saying that another terrorist attack cannot be prevented. They're trying to cover themselves so that they could say afterward, "See, we TOLD you this would happen." Katrina showed that the Bush administration cannot respond to an attack and these apologists are confirming that the Bush administration cannot prevent an attack either. Can't prevent. Can't respond. The incompetence and negligence of the Bush administration is, or should be, the scandal of the century.

Some are saying no one benefits from this line of argument; that the "blame game" is counterproductive. First, no one is saying Bush could prevent a hurricane. Second, there are real people issues that are difficult to solve at any level of government such as the refusal to evacuate. Third, there are really GOOD people at Homeland Security and FEMA who were heroic in their efforts to stem the damage caused by Katrina. Fourth, these comments do not deny that we should take whatever "productive" steps needed to address the immediate needs of the Gulf Coast and then, to rebuild it. Lastly however broken, we definitely cannot stop improving our security posture because to do so would be to invite more catastrophe.

But here's the thing. The failure of Katrina is a failure of leadership, not controlling the weather. We should take steps now to redirect the leadership of our country and we have a right and responsibility to do that. Bush's failures as president are spectacular; wasting billions and costing lives in a war started over lies, and now disaster mismanagement. His incompetence is literally killing us so stop whining about "blame game." Anyway, you may call it "blame", but I call it fixing what ails America the most by getting rid of officials who, in the end, do us more harm than our enemies. That's PRODUCTIVE!

For a self-proclaimed "war time" president, what has Bush achieved besides a record amount of presidential vacation time? Time for Bush to take a permanent vacation.

IMPEACH BUSH NOW.

Posted by: Jack | September 10, 2005 08:01 AM

This note is from a girl who I work with named Robin. She's in Louisiana
and amid all the turmoil there. When I read her story I got the chills,
this is horrible. I'm sending this to all of you to spread the word, PRAY.
Here's her note:

** We have had a battery operated TV so we've been getting local channels
focusing on the situation there and here. I'm just getting the "national
perspective" and its *(&*&(*ing me off!

First, this is not a racial thing. I'm sorry if all the reporters are seeing
are black faces but if they would take their cameras to places like Slidell,
Mandeville, Metairie and CHALMETTE! they would see a several thousand white
faces being affected by this. Most of the tip of the boot that is Louisiana
south and east of Baton Rouge is under water. Those people are stuck too
waiting for help, dying, but all the news people can focus on is the
Superdome.

Another misconception. The violence going on there is not the reaction of
desperate people. Its typical New Orleans on any given Tuesday!!! Its a
dangerous, dirty, drug infested place where the city police and city
government is corrupt and useless. Volunteers are getting shot at and their
cars vandalized. Helicopters are being shot at. Just another day in the
city.

Another misconception. These poor people couldn't get out because they don't
have cars. If the cameras show the city once the waters recede, you'll
notice all the flooded out cars littering the streets. They couldn't all
have been broken down before the storm hit . Yes, there are always people
who do not have transportation. Part of making the call for a MANDATORY
evacuation is that the city has to provide for transportation and/or shelter
in the city. People stayed for the same reasons they always stay. They think
the storm will turn and go in another direction. They think they can "ride
it out." Or, they're just too (*&( lazy to pack up and leave.

Another misconception. The federal government was slow to respond. The
president issued a state of emergency BEFORE the storm ever hit,
unprecedented. This means that the full access of the federal government, be
it military or civil, were at our governors' disposal. The levee broke early
Monday afternoon. She did not call evacuation until Tuesday morning. You
cannot call up National Guard units in 20 minutes. It takes time. The
governor and mayor are in high CYA mode at the moment.

The situation is bad here. Crime is becoming a problem in Gonzales and Baton
Rouge where the evacuees are being housed. We live between the two cities
and there is pistol on my desk shelf as I type (yes, I know how to use it).
Helicopters flying overhead all day, gas is running out, store shelves
becoming empty. Its like a war zone. Our kids are both here and are staying
here until the crime situation gets in control and I fear it will get worse
before it gets better. Pray for us. **

Posted by: The truth about New Orleans | September 10, 2005 08:09 AM

click on this link to access a radio program on the Australian Broadcasting Commission's Music Show, honouring the music tradition of New Orleans http://www.abc.net.au/rn/music/mshow/default.htm

Posted by: Jo | September 10, 2005 08:30 AM

The "truth about New Orleans" will remain forever hidden unless a mechanism is in place that will bring out the "whole truth, nothing but the truth."

What we need is an INDEPENDENT Commission with its own INDEPENDENT investigators and subpoena authority - It must be modeled after the 9/11 Commission.

Otherwise we'll end up with the finding that some "bad apples" (obviously at the lowest rung of the chain of command) failed in their duty but the system itself is "doing a heck of a job." Remember the whitewash that was Abu Ghribe?

Posted by: Lea | September 10, 2005 08:38 AM

"Lessons learned so far: Cities and states across the country must have workable evacuation plans -- and thorough contingency plans for those who cannot or choose not to leave. (Memo to local governments: Get moving! I'm looking at you, Washington ...)"

I think that there is a corollary to this observation, namely, the importance of competence and commitment of public officials whose job is oversight. Michael Brown points out the major contradiction of the present Republican party as a "governing party." Namely, raising the personal private interest over the public interest. Since, government (from this perspective) is never to be trusted, it is only something to be cashed in on(by policitical and business cronies).

Given the mission of FEMA as rescuers (a major responsibility of compassionate government) the irony of the head of FEMA acting out the role of an inattentive bystander-- along with the whole passle of inattentive bystanders from the vacationing President to the whole disengaged crowd of laissez-faire government types shows that the governing philosophy of conservatism just does not make any sense as a "governing philosophy."

A society in need of as much healing and rescuing as the poor folks stranded in the stadium in New Orleans cannot afford to support this cast of political spearholders in the political theater of Washington that has moved from tragedy to farce. Much as "The Aristocrats" is the inside joke for comedians, "Competence" has become the inside joke for those of us who believe that government has a positive role to play in serving the public interest.

The article by Robert D. Putnam and associate in today's editorial page that shows the spike up in youth interest after 9/11 in voting, community work, and citizen involvement provides the antidote to the cynical top-down "what's in it for me" view of government. Namely, a bottom-up commitment to rescue of one's fellow citizens who are drowning in poverty (as surely, if more slowly) as in floods.

While the government was training fire fighters for PR rather than rescue work (that these volunteers were anxious, but prevented from doing one of Bush's cronies was active drumming up business for Halliburton and other cronied jewels of the present Republican group of "Aristocrats" (in Thomas Jefferson's definition of a false aristocracy). Apparently, the only thing that engages these folks besides shoe shopping, ball games, dirt bike riding, is the opportunity to make a quick buck. Those who think folks can be competent without a commitment to the common good don't understand how values get translated into effective implementation of policy. It's time to clean off the sullied name of public service and connect back to a compassionate vision of the common good.

Posted by: Jeff | September 10, 2005 08:48 AM

Johnuw93,

Bush resigning won't happen, because the polls show a very divided partisanship with the Democrats. They're quite fractured, with too many issues and no one theme to rally around (effectively showing there's no leadership in that organization -- because leadership would focus on one theme and stick to it. There is no New Deal or New Frontier agenda. It's a bunch of special interests mucking up the message. A rudderless ship).

Also, Katrina won't have the political impact folks want it too. That's because it only affects the coast of 3 states. Folks in NYC aren't directly affected, nor those in Hollywood. Bush could weather the political storm, and in a month or so, he can resume business-as-usual. The population that's affect also are unlikely to vote (plus they're satisfied with the $2000 check -- how easy it is to calm the masses with a loaf of bread, let alone some pocket change).

My take is the powerbase revolves not around Rove, or even Bush, it's around Cheney (who's been working behind the scenes). Bush is a empty suit, a figurehead. Others run the government, others who's loyality is stronger than to Bush the man (something else is keeping them loyal -- like they're a member of some frat. In politics there's little loyality [it's a dog eat dog profession], so there's some other undercurrent, and another higher master than just Jesus Christ. It's why they can just weather the storm during SNAFUs, they know it'll right itself out again -- as they're playing the regional it's-not-in-my-backyard-so-who-care's-attitude and the waiting game).

Fractured Democrat base. Even holier and united Republican base = conservative agenda will remain for many years to come. It will, because until the Democrat base fights off the special interests that drags their unity down, and a vacant leadership on top (thank Kennedy and his 1978 Senate -- he trashed the Carter Administration so bad, that it's a scarlet letter to be a liberal even 20 years later) -- with kids with computers who love Scream Dean but don't vote running the show, we're going to be governed by one party.

That's okay to the masses, because the disaster doesn't affect them, as they got their hots, cots and so-called reality TV to keep them occupied.

That's a political lesson learned long before hurricane Katrina.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 08:56 AM

To The truth about New Orleans,

This post stinks of lies and untruths from start to finish... It shows that whoever wrote it knows little about the area... The "girl who I work with named Robin." This is nothing more than a made up letter to promote the Repulican spin...

"First, this is not a racial thing."

Wrong. Slidell, Mandeville, Metairie and Chalmette are not under water. The people who could afford to move to higher ground usually moved to higer ground. Thus, Jefferson Parish, which supported David Duke (former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan in his bid to become Governor of Louisiana), is predominantly white. It is just outside of New Orleans. Many jobs, entertainment (such as movie theaters and book stores) and other luxuries of a middle and upper class population moved out of New Orleans with them. The Garden District in Orleans Parish was also predominantly white and affluent, where Tulane and Loyola University are located. None of these areas are flooded.

Next, when you consider that the low lying and decrepit parts of New Olreans were intentionally left to the poor and minorities, is it any wonder why the levess were left underfunded during Bush's tenure. Bush allowed the levees to deteriorate while he was in office, despite repeated warnings of the high risk that the citizens of New Orleans faced if a hurricane should come their way. However, Bush had no trouble spending money on his cronies pet projects... Please review the highway and energy bills recently passed and signed into legislation... Bush is a spend and don't tax Republican... Just look at our national deficit... He didn't fund the levees because of its constituents... They don't vote for him.

"The violence going on there is not the reaction of
desperate people. Its typical New Orleans on any given Tuesday!!!" Where do you begin with this racist propaganda... As if people who need food and water, breaking into stores to obtain food and water for survival are not desperate. If they are always this way... Isn't it sad that we have a population that has no food or clean drinking water and has to break into stores to obtain such...

"The federal government was slow to respond." Yeah, after Bush got down playing guitar and spending vacation time, Condi got down with the U.S. Open and shoppping on 5th Ave. and Michael Brown finally figured out people were in the convention center five days later... Yeah, then the efforts began... But his is not a slow response, I like to see how you would feel if you were in their situation...

"She did not call evacuation until Tuesday morning." Lies... She declared a state of emergency on Saturday... Sunday, 9:30 a.m. 9:30 AM -- Mayor Nagin issues first ever mandatory evacuation of New Orleans.

"Crime is becoming a problem in Gonzales and Baton Rouge where the evacuees are being housed. " I go to Baton Rouge and Gonzales everyday... Crime is not out of control... Just a bunch of sketched out white people who are not used to having so many newcomers around... Especially, poor black ones... Is there any wonder that they rushed to the gun stores... Later, the rumors of crimes proved to be false.

If you gain anything from that e-mail, it should be how insidious racism truly is, especially considering that some political operative would send around such untruths to create ignorance to save this inept government's proverbial ass...

Peace,
Aaron

Posted by: New Orleans Blues | September 10, 2005 09:00 AM

There is a clear, consistent pattern in how this President reacts to failure and incompetence in his administration. The standing order is: Find some convenient scapegoat, send out talking points to all friendly talk radio, media outlets, blogs and television pundits, and drive home through constant repetition the point that this President is blameless while all of the blame lies on this convenient scapegoat.

George W. Bush lives and operates in this daily, delusionary bubble where the willing sycophants I listed above shamelessly play into his delusions. In this bubble, Bush is allowed to believe that he is among the most beloved Presidents in history, that God wants him to be President, that Iraq is a stunning, transformational success story, that he has singlehandedly made the world safer from terrorism, that the economy is producing unprecedented wealth which is creating a rising tide that lifts all boats, that his Social Security plan is wildly popular, and that it is once again morning in America.

The pity is that it took so long for the American people to wake up to the fact that their President--like the man he appointed to head up FEMA--came into office on the basis of a puffed up, fabricated resume'.

Posted by: G. Jackson | September 10, 2005 09:19 AM

One other comment to drive home the earlier point I made. Michael Brown will not be relieved of his post. Why? Because that would break the bubble I talked about earlier. Bush would have to face the unpleasant truth that there was incompetence and failure here. He will never do that. It would competely destroy this delusionary image of infallibility he has built up about himself.

Posted by: G. Jackson | September 10, 2005 09:25 AM

As we near the anniversary of 9/11 I am struck by what the media wants to debate on lessons learned which should be used in Louisana.

First, 9/11 was the distruction of commercial real-estate which makes the comparison somewhat ridiculous at best. Those who were fortunate to survive had homes to go back to, albeit by walking but nonetheless had a home to go to.

To critize the New Orleans mayor or to compare him in a negative way to the then mayor of New York City, is ridiculous as the situations were both disasters but quite different.

They can blow up my office and I will get over it (hoping though that I am not in it when it happens!). I can go to my home and wonder what is the next step and contemplate my future. However, I am assuming that my corporation will attempt to relocate me or place me on paid leave until they can reorganize a plan for my office. AGAIN, I am not dismissing 9/11 as less than the disaster than it was. God knows that it left us all in shock and horror. I am simply using it as an example.

The people of New Orleans are adrift with no home, no jobs, no safe harbor. So let's stop comparing the two mayor's, let's give a break to the New Orleans mayor who's hands were tied by the state & federal bureaurcy and let's applaud him for stepping out of the "politically correct" news conference and stating facts. New Orleans needed help and the State and Federal folks were failing him and his people, therefore he committed political suicide by telling it like it is.

I am sooooo sick of seeing Bush and Cheney's photo ops. I know a snow job when I see it. God bless the mayor of New Orleans.....run for President and you have my vote!!!

Posted by: Marcia | September 10, 2005 09:26 AM

Jeff wrote:

===========================================
"I think that there is a corollary to this observation, namely, the importance of competence and commitment of public officials whose job is oversight. Michael Brown points out the major contradiction of the present Republican party as a "governing party." Namely, raising the personal private interest over the public interest. Since, government (from this perspective) is never to be trusted, it is only something to be cashed in on(by policitical and business cronies)."
===========================================

Bush fills his positions with loyalists, who in turn suggest others to come into the fold that they know. This close shop is new to Washington (and the press -- since normally in politics folks try to jockey up the ladder on the backs of others, that that's not the case now, they're out of the loop on the inner workings of the Administration). Washington and the press are locked out. Locked out, yet so dependent on the White House, they take their doggie biscuits and sit in the corner.

What Katrina is exposing is, that this country is being governed on special interest money, red tape and procedure -- it's floating on it, as it cushions folks of reality, and keeps politicians without backbones in office. The solution to the Katrina disaster by these strange bedfellows is throwing money at the problem (instant show they "care", and curb a revolution from the angry masses); form another worthless commission (ever since the Kennedy Assassination hearings, these committees are just camera shots, the conclusions rarely answer anything -- they in fact can even ignite conspiracies); and no one really in charge has to face the consequences (and Bush isn't the main evildoer here, FEMA's failure comes from inactive leadership from some "chief" that's the real powerbase in the Administration). If more than money, grandstanding and finding the REAL culprit for the Katrina EMS afterthought, the next Katrina won't cause the mess we have today.

But don't count on Washington to care about the Katrina aftermath in a month (they'll start cutting back services and money then -- like they did with Hurricane Andrew -- since there's only so many dollars to shift around and give out), nor really recommend any changes. They're all on the "take" (like special interests in the building industry that dependents on $$$$$$$$$S development along the coasts), and they're more interested in politics in their own backyards (politics is local) to spend time on a disaster hundreds to thousands miles away.

BTW, here's a further example of the inept of the media that is a lesson for them to fix. On CNN they reported that FEMA has closed the debit card lines, because there's not enough staff (anyone surprised??). The reporters took it as a good sign (probably since the lines were sooooo long), going on that direct deposit is better solution. So dummies at CNN -- if New Orleans is flooded, folks escaped with their lives, and local banks and credit unions inoperable, how will direct deposit help them?


*thunk*
*thunk*
*thunk*

Frith......

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 09:31 AM

In response to THE TRUTH ABOUT NEW ORLEANS: Isn't it a bit late for prayer? I am quite certain that people were earnestly in prayer all over New Orleans before the storm hit but it made little difference.

George W. Bush has cynically called for a day of national prayer next Friday. He's good at that sort of puffy, safe, no-response to the real problems down there. I suspect that the prayers he is most interested in are the prayers of his evangelelical supoorters to save his incompetent behind.

Save your prayers. You would fare much better voting for reasonable, intelligent men who recognize that public monies judiciously expended to build stronger levees and to restore the natural barrier islands was what was needed here to prevent such a catastrophe.

Of course, such an enlightened approach always seems to escape Bush and the right wing ideologues who have been telling us for over two decades that government is the problem and not the solution. Nothing could more graphically point up the utter fallacy of that canard than the horror Katrina visited on the people of New Orleans.

Posted by: G. Jackson | September 10, 2005 10:03 AM

And the Left wing idealogues didn't help to stop this disaster as well. You partisans are all in the same USS New Orleans dingy together.

So how about pointing the fingers at each other, while the rest of the country moves your boat out to sea? You're not helping, and you just add more water to an already drowned countryside.

What's needed are solutions, not dead-brain partisan talking points and action alert copy and paste rhetoric. But that won't come from the bases that are mindless partisan sheep -- and it's not going to come from Washington, either. It'll be individual citizens fending for themselves, as their distrust for their government, their leaders and supposely advocates like the media grows.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 10:22 AM

Sandy K's intuition is right and Sully is wrong. There is a conspiracy to make FEMA director Brown the scapegoat in order to protect someone higher up.

Before I explain , I would like to suggest that people in this forum should do a little bit of investigation and contribute some real information instead of just shooting off their mouths. That will provide a lot more value. The truth is out there and if we all work together we can find it. That is not a criticism --it's a compliment.

The person who really screwed the pooch -- and who's being protected by tossing Brown off the sled to the wolves -- is Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The reason is that the death of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist this week freed up a slot on the Supreme Court and Gonzales is a candidate to fill it.

Not because Gonzales is a leading legal mind --he actually seems mediocre but he is very submissive -- willing to argue for the "divine right of kings " on Bush's behalf. Anyone recall Gonzales' prime bit of sophistry arguing that the WHite House can torture US citizens --provided vital organs aren't damaged?

But the real reason Gonzales is a leading candidate is that Hispanics are swing votes in California, Texas, and Florida -- the biggest prizes in the Presidental Electoral college. THAT is highly important because the superrich of this country know that (a) Federal debt is projected to reach $9.9 TRILLION by 2008 (it's somewhere around 7 Trillion now) (b) Social Security and Medicare are underfunded by $7 Trillion and $40 Trillion respectively (c) Social Security/Medicare coffers are empty because past Republican Congresses have stolen over $2 Trillion from the Trust Funds (to give the rich a tax cut) and are currently stealing $2 Trillion more (d) elderly baby boomers will be retiring starting in 2008 and the only way to keep them from starving is to either put heavy taxes on the superrich or to put very high taxes on middle class life savings trapped in IRAS/401Ks (assets which are in "before tax" dollars and can be taxed at 90 percent if need be)

Hence the superrich who run this country desperately NEED a Republican president in 2008-2016 who can veto any attempt to raise their taxes as all those promises the federal government has made to baby boomers for 40 years come home to roost.

Think I'm kidding? 911 caused over $1 Trillion in damages and killed several thousand American -- yet thousands can still stroll across our Mexican border every month because Bush and the Republicans want the Hispanic vote.
I've already noted how three terrorists could have blown up truck bombs on the 3 bridges leading out of New Orleans -- at no risk to themselves -- and stranded several hundred thousand people out in the open as Katrina rolled in.

In my next post, I will explain how Gonzales caused the massive problems in disaster relief for New Orleans.

Posted by: Don Williams | September 10, 2005 10:25 AM

Wow, the Bush haters really go off the deep end when confronted with the truth from people who are actually there. The Truth About New Orleans sounds pretty on the mark to me. But not to Aaron, who predictably and dismissed the entire report as "made up" and the observations as "racist." (do you believe Aaron or your lying eyes...TV reports showing looting of clothes, shoes and TVs -- not food and water. And I guess the press was lying too when it reported shots being fired at rescue helicopters -- they just made it up!) Aaron sees the world through some strange alternate reality where all whites are evil (especially Republican ones who voted for Bush) and the poor black folks as just doing what they have to do to get by. Then they drag out the tired old "it's OK to loot, rape and murder because they are oppressed" argument. Which, of course, is ridiculous on its face. Until the poor are forced to work for their welfare benefits instead of being told they are entitled to free money for life -- often because they chose to drop out school, do drugs and never get a job -- there's never going to be much hope for the kind of people Aaron claims to be so concerned about. They will always be poor and always waiting for the government to take care of them. Time to ween them off the crack of no-strings-attached government entitlements. Time to teach them a little determination and self reliance goes a long way.

Posted by: just an observation | September 10, 2005 10:26 AM

Just one caveat to SandyK's remarks. I actually think that the 9-11 Commission on the whole did a good job. (Although later facts that undercovered--the surveillance of 9/11 terrorists with known ties to Al Quaeda a year before which outraged Republican members as well, points to the need for Panel investigative powers with more teeth in it). I hope that as Dan Schorr said in this mornings Weekend Edition commentary with Scott Simon that after all the jockeying over an investigative panel that this model will eventually be followed).

Also, it points out the fact that the mere presence of Republicans on an investigative panel does not
necessarily destroy the panel. Apparently, the Republicans who served drew on something else than laissez-faire (perhaps patriotism and commitmentment to the higher good) to perform credibly in this situation.

My criticism in my earlier post was not aimed at all Republicans just those who adhere to this crazy glue laissez-faire philosophy holding a variety of mixed nuts and political and economic pirates together. Certainly responsible Republicans like Chuck Hagel and John McCain point to the fact that conservatism does not necessarily need to be conflated with nutty.

While many folks deride the Democrats for a lack of public philosophy (I would argue instead that Democrats need to modernize and update their progressive populist tradition, not start from scratch). A less voiced opinion (or maybe unvoiced to now opinion) is the need for Republicans to recreate their public philosophy from scratch. Between sand (Iraq), water (New Orleans) and incompetence there is no firm place for them stand on land or water. (Unless they learn to walk on water as some of its crazier adherents like Pat Robertson apparently think they can).

Any sensible Republican like McCain or Hagel will be left in a quagmire if they by chance are elected president unless they illustrate that Republicans truly have a governing philosophy worthy of the name. Absent that, I would argue that there can never be any thought as a truly "governing" Republican party only a group of Republican bystanders (at best) and piracy (at worst). There is no ability to be competent in the public interest, when you don't have any public philosophy worthy of the name to provide guidance as to what competence means.

Posted by: Jeff | September 10, 2005 10:27 AM

The truth about New Orleans wrote:
"These poor people couldn't get out because they don't have cars. If the cameras show the city once the waters recede, you'll
notice all the flooded out cars littering the streets. They couldn't all have been broken down before the storm hit . Yes, there are always people who do not have transportation. Part of making the call for a MANDATORY evacuation is that the city has to provide for transportation and/or shelter in the city. People stayed for the same reasons they always stay. They think
the storm will turn and go in another direction. They think they can "ride
it out." Or, they're just too (*&( lazy to pack up and leave."

OK, so there may have been some people who were "too (*&( lazy to pack up and leave" and it may have been that a lot of people who did have transportation chose not to evacuate, but consider this:
- What about the fact that gas prices are so high you need to mortgage your house to fill your tank? So some poor people may have had cars - OK, that's a start. But what if they couldn't afford to fill their tank, especially if evacuating would take them a hundred miles away? It's like giving someone a tennis racket, expecting them to play tennis, and bitching about it when they don't because you didn't give them a ball (or in this case, they couldn't afford the ball).
- What about the numerous instances where families stayed behind because although they had the means to evacuate themselves, they could not evacuate because they would have to leave behind sick or crippled relatives, whom they did not have the means to take with them.
- Ditto above for pets. Some (though granted not many) probably stayed behind because evacuating would have meant leaving their pets behind. And for those of you who have pets, you will no doubt agree that leaving behind a pet is for many of us as heart-wrenching and impossible as leaving behind a child.

Don't get me wrong - I agree that some may have misjudged the storm's ferocity and decided to wait it out, and others may have been too lazy to evacuate. But I think that theory is over-simplistic. Just because people had the means to evacuate, it doesn't mean they could, either practically or in good conscience.

And that doesn't even touch upon thos who did not have ANY means at all to evacuate...

Posted by: Derek | September 10, 2005 10:42 AM

In every instance of gross incompetence on the part of this President, his die hard supporters--now down to 38% according to a Newsweek poll released this morning--urgently cast themselves about in search of scapegoats.

Look. I have long been telling people on every opinion forum I could get into that George W. Bush was simply a man in over his head. Michael Brown was the perfect selection in Bush's mind to head up FEMA. Why? Bush saw in Brown a bird with the same feathers and coloring of his own. A hyped resume', the political sensibilities of an outhouse rat, an unserviceable anti-government belief system that infected his every action and a zealous, evangelical faith that he was infallible because the God he prayed to wanted him to be exactly where he was.

We are stuck with this flawed incompetent man (Bush) for two years. But, we ought to be able to rid ourselves of Brown.

Posted by: jaxas | September 10, 2005 11:00 AM

1. Gonzales isn't earmarked for the Chief Justice seat -- FACT. That is a partisan cry because they're scared of him becoming a replacement for O'Connor. They can't attack him on race (he's not White), and to attack him on his religious background wouldn't help, so all they have is to focus like a laser beam on his use of torture acceptance (which this country actually condones in emergencies). Because of that, if Bush wants Gonzales on the bench, Gonzales can get on it.

In truth, Bush can put a radical extremist on the bench now, and the public will go along. As long as the apple cart (their TV, their money/property, and their kids are safe, the country gives anyone powers to do as they please). That individual rights can so quickly be snatched away over 1 incident (9/11), shows the public is more the complacent, they're entrenched in their surburban enclaves with their marketed gadgets and careless.

There is no revolution if the masses can be comforted with a $2000 check. A $600 tax break showed how quickly the country shined to Bush's tax cuts anyway (even flaming liberals didn't send it back in protest, or idealogy).

2. If commissions do a good job, then why the commotion if they didn't conduct one as they claim they would? Commissions are full of seat warmers. They're there to ask questions, but don't want to enforce solutions (too many would lose money, influence, and be uncomfortable -- like trying to reclaim the wetlands along the hurricane punished coast). Don't expect any backbone to accept the RECOMMENDATIONS, they're as good as suggestions to politicos ("We'll get to them when we finish stuffing pork in our pockets this year").

BTW, partisanship points aren't going to solve squat. Blaming Republicans because they don't like gay sex, or balk at Janet Jackson's breast, doesn't do a thing about SOLVING problems that has plagued mankind since prehistoric times. Indecision, complacency, incompetence, ineptNESS has been our plight. It takes the reverse to undo them, and it takes brave and non selfish non-partisan humans to fix this foundering ship we call society.

Because there's a few of the latter (they have better sense to be in politics, and be corrupted by the process), the corrupted continue on and even the public/partisans go along (for example: if anyone believes DeLay didn't know what his political pals in Texas did to funnel money into partisan coffers illegally, must live in political La La Land, or took a course in "How to feel good while being fleeced, in 24hrs").

Frith......

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 11:09 AM

"They will always be poor and always waiting for the government to take care of them. Time to ween them off the crack of no-strings-attached government entitlements. Time to teach them a little determination and self reliance goes a long way." just an observation

I'm tired of fighting a battle that I can't win... I certainly no that I need help... Thus, I ask for help from my higher power... And at this time that I look in the mirror, and I see that I look a lot like my relatives who lost so much in New Orleans, some even lost their lives....

Well, I ask you God... Please take them in... For when the Saints go Marching In, I want to be in that number.... Please dear God, please see that I am more concerned with helping others than myself... Please dear God, please see that I am forgiving... That I am not selfish... That I love the least of my brethren as the most blue blooded... That I judge a man by the content of his character, not by the color of his skin... That you determine who deserves your love... Let me remember, that he who hath not sinned shall throw the first stone... That I should treat others as I wish to be treated... That I would say something never so heartless as just an observation...

WHEN THE SAINTS GO MARCHING IN, OH LORD I WANT TO BE IN THAT NUMBER WHEN THE SAINTS GO MARCHING IN...

Peace and love,
Aaron

Posted by: | September 10, 2005 11:27 AM

It just continues.....

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/09/AR2005090901822.html

AGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

Okay the good news: it's showing that the Dems are more Traditional conservatives than they care to admit. They have more in common with Pat Buchannan than they care to want to know. Take out the race/class/religion issues, and they can read Pat's "American Conservative" mag with glee. One concept of Traditionals: your own only cares about you. You can funnel zillions of dollars in another country; prop them up with every social good; and the population will still hate you -- as you're not one of them. So, your best use of your country's dollars is to use them IN YOUR COUNTRY (to make it the Mecca the world envies -- serves them good, as they hate us anyway). That also includes making sure your citizens have JOBS AT HOME.

The bad news: The focus on the money and jobs is on rebuilding what will be destroyed again. Does society want to keep repeating the wrongs of Rome, again, again, again??

This isn't the lesson the USA needs -- to build and then to watch hopelessly it being destroyed by Mother Nature again. The lesson that is about progress and plain common sense is, is to bug out of those areas and build a newer, shinier, better designed cities/towns.....at least 1 mile away from the coast!!

Wake up folks. We can't keep trying to take from Mother Nature and hope the IOUs don't have to be paid many years later. Lives and money wasted to just claim a region to be "stronger and better", is a fool's errand. More so when the same problems -- seeking another political appointee that isn't versed in disaster aftermaths (think being a mayor alone gives them what it takes to fix things??), is just repeating the same Brown fiasco.

The US Army Corps of Engineers, the civil and structrual engineers, and environmental monitors (like from USGS) are about the only folks who know anything about rebuilding what THEY built up. The only thing politicos can do is cut red tape, gladhand and bean count.

So don't go from the frying pan into the fire and appoint folks because they meet some criteria other than what's needed TO rebuild (and the above article shows race is a major factor, like it will resolve the deaths and socio-economic problems with another token appointment -- Rice or Powell is enough). Now isn't the time to make right by taking opportunities to stock positions with the same bozos that are being flung off the rafters now.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 11:53 AM

The biggest lesson to learn from New Orleans is how incompetent the local and state officials were. The mayor should have had water and supplies waiting at the Superdome. Mayor Nagin had several day's notice of the hurricane before it hit and he spent that time doing zilch. The mayor is a Democrat by the way. (I know - some people have found out that Wikipedia allows anyone to edit its encyclopedia entries. Nagin's entry is probably the most heavily edited entry on Wikipedia now as embarrased Dems do their best to change him into a Rebublican, but face the fact: Nagin is a Democrat. And for those who care about accuracy, remember to take wikipedia entries with some skepticism.) Failures at the local level need to be corrected at the state level and usually are, but Louisiana had Gov. Blanco in office. She was not up to the job and dithered the days away after the hurricane hit despite pressure from all sides to get the National Guard called out. The governor is a Democrat by the way.

Posted by: Vern | September 10, 2005 11:55 AM

The feds have no right to blame the local government for the disaster because the locals had to worry about saving their own families and homes. How can they go out and serve when they had to stay home and take care of their own.

Posted by: sina | September 10, 2005 11:55 AM

"2. If commissions do a good job, then why the commotion if they didn't conduct one as they claim they would? Commissions are full of seat warmers."

My remarks are related to a Commission's chief duty that of fact finder and maker of recommendations. I actually agree with you that there is a disconnect between findings and implementation (particularly when the party in power has no public philosophy worthy of the name. Also, I think your characterization of members of the 9-11 Commission as seatwarmers is inaccurate. A number of them did quite a credible job--ex-NJ governor Tom Keane (R)and ex-senator Bob Kerrey (D) spring most readily to mind. And even the panel's most partisan member ex-Navy Secretary Lewis Lehrmann (R) complained about the suppresse Al Quaeda information that emerged recently. Favoring a re-opening of this chapter for review.

This is why I think that arguments such as David Ignatius in a recent article that politics its all about competence (absent or despite a governing public philosophy) is wrong on two counts:

First, without a conception of the "public good" (just a dressed up one of private interest), there never can be any substantive criteria for competence. For example, whistleblowers can be highly competent (something that the Pentagon whistleblower who uncovered Halliburton irregularies in Iraq clearly illustrates). She apparently violated something higher than loyalty to the troops and country-- the higher loyalty to party line--a big mistake for a civilian employee.

2. Ignatius admits to a soft spot in his heart for Newt Gingrich (does he need a lesson in anatomy of where the head is), because he can think outside of the box. Even though Newt has the same problematic governing philosophy that never rises beyond a glorified self-interest. (BTW, So can a toddler outside of his sandbox, but I wouldn't confuse him with a wiseman).

This still goes back to even a good idea (granting that Newt on occassion may have one) implemented by folks who are hostile to the very idea of government leads to the same disconnect that stymied the 9-11 investigative panel in implementing theirs.

Posted by: Jeff | September 10, 2005 12:12 PM

1) As noted in Emily's article above, Homeland Security's National Response Plan calls for the federal governments to take charge and UNILATERALLY deliver massive amounts of in the event of a Castrophe --identified among other things as a natural or manmade disaster occurring near a high population area. There is NO question that the WHite House --NOT the Mayor of New Orleans or the state of Louisiana --was on the hook to deal with Katrina as soon as it became a Cat 4/5 hurricane bearing down on New Orleans (which was announced by the National Weather Service three days before it hit).

So what happened?

2) In a New York Times article yesterday "Political Issues Snarled Plans for Troop Aid", the Times performed its customary form of journalism -- faithfully writing down and uncritically publishing whatever line of misleading bullshit its White House "sources" hand it.

3) Basically, the story was that massive amounts of aid couldn't be delivered because the aid personnel --including active duty military -- would have been threatened by the lawlessness in New Orleans.

The alleged problem was that the National Response Plan never anticipated the collapse of local law enforcement (New Orleans police department) and state law enforcement (Louisiana governor Blanco's summoning of the National Guard both within Louisiana and from other states.)

4) This is utter bullshit. For one thing, both National Guard under White House Command and active duty military forces could have carried their weapons without being given law enforcement powers. Even civilians in this country have the right to carry firearms and to kill if need be to protect their lives and the lives of others.

5) Rules of engagement could have stated that military personnel providing relief could act in self defense without violating the Posse Comitatus act (which prohibits use of military troops for US law enforcement --US Code 18 USC 1385 )

6) For another thing , the National Response Plan DOES address the problem of delivering federal aid when local/state law enforcement collapses. The plan is available at http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/interapp/editorial/editorial_0566.xml . If you look at Annex ESF #13 (Emergency Support Function #13 --Public Safety and Security ), it states that:
"ESF #13 generally is activated in
situations requiring extensive assistance to provide public safety and security and where State and local government resources are overwhelmed or are inadequate, or in pre-incident or post-incident situations that require protective solutions or
capabilities unique to the Federal Government."

7) ESF#13 notes that local/state law enforcement normally have primary law enforcement responsibility. When they are
overwhelmed, it states that the NEXT step should be transfer of National Guard troops under mutual aid agreement with neighboring states. Obviously, Mississippi
was in no position to lend National Guard troops to Louisiana. WHat about Texas?

8) Question: Did Louisiana have mutual aid agreements with the other states? WHich ones? Did Louisiana governor have to get permission from the federal government to pull in National Guard troops from those other states? Was that permission rapidly given by the White House/Pentagon National GUard Bureau?

9) The reason I ask is that Washington Post reporter Sharon Theimer had an interesting article on Sept 3 "National Guard Delay Likely to Be Examined" in which she states that
"New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson offered Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco help from his state's National Guard on Sunday, the day before Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. Blanco accepted, but paperwork needed to get the troops en route didn't come from Washington until late Thursday"

10) Her article also states
"Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, R-Va., plans to make oversight of the Defense Department, the National Guard and their assistance his top priority when he returns to Washington next week from an overseas trips, spokesman John Ullyot said Friday "

11) ESF#13 goes on to note that:
"In the event that State and local police forces (including the National Guard operating under State control) are unable to adequately respond to a civil disturbance or other serious law
enforcement emergency, the State legislature (or the Governor if the legislature cannot be convened) may request, through the Attorney
General, Federal military assistance under 10 U.S.C. Chapter 15. The President may also use the military in a state to enforce Federal law or to protect constitutional rights. Pursuant to 10
U.S.C. 331-334, the President will ultimately determine whether to use the Armed Forces to respond to a law enforcement emergency. Under Title 10 authority, the President may federalize and deploy all or part of any State's
National Guard. Procedures for coordinating
Department of Defense (DOD) and Department
of Justice (DOJ) responses to law enforcement emergencies arising under 10 U.S.C. 331-334 are set forth in the DOD Civil Disturbance Plan,
February 15, 1991. "

12) In other words, the President override Posse Comitatus and send in federal troops (both National Guard called into federal service and active military) to enforce the law if (a) requested by the governor or (b) unilaterally if he thinks it necessary to enforce federal law. The New York Times article I cited above indicates that the Louisiana governor didn't want to do (a) and the WHite House did not have the political courage to do (b)

13) This Constitutional goatscrew obviously occurred because Attorney General Gonzales did not
do a good job of reviewing the National Response Plan and ESF#13 before it was approved last December.

At the very least, he should have laid out the details of the legal process, made it clear to the state governors ,and had them sign off on it by signing the National Response Plan (NONE of the State governors signed the Plan).

Posted by: Don Williams | September 10, 2005 12:32 PM

1) Something more sinister may actually be happening -- that the WHite House and Gonzales were trying to coerce governor Blanco into giving the White House control under 10 USC Chapter 15 -- to establish a precedent for the future -- by dragging its feet in giving support under terms where the Governor retained command.

2) I hope Senator Warner looks into this. Because 10 USC 333 is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS under any conditions other than a nuclear war -- because it lays the grounds for a dictatorship.

3) The US COnstitution says the President can take such power only after Congress consents but the US Congress gave that power away when it passed the National Guard act about 50 years ago --in the early days of the Cold War. Now that the threat of nuclear war has receded, Congress should take back its control and restore the constitutional checks and balances that the Founders set down .

4) Congress may assume that it can always rein in the President if necessary. But if the airliner had not crashed into Pennsylvania on Sept 11, Congress would have been destroyed and the President would have had unchecked power.

5) Its too bad that the news media does not perceive the high stakes and profound issues involved -- especially if the WHite House is trying to shape the public's perception in a false way in order to justify an unnecessary seizure of even more power.

Posted by: Don Williams | September 10, 2005 12:38 PM

Problem of two cooks:

Local government screws up and the fed picks up the tab...

Either the fed should be responsible for the whole show or the local government should be - otherwise the two sides are prone to play politics (particularly when they are from opposite parties) - with the people caught in the middle.

deTocqueville argued that the success of the American Federal government was in part due to the direct relationship between the people and the federal government without the local governments in the middle.

Feds should think about this problem if they don't want to be undermined by every two bit nut job mayor who happens to be elected to office.

As Winston Churchill said - "Don't take responsibility for something you don't have control over". If the feds aren't given control over the evacuation of the people then they should not accept responsibility for the outcome.

Or, take the problem to the extreme: what if the local government decided that NONE of the residents would evacuate - should the federal government take responsibility for safety of 500,000 people in their attics in 20 feet of water??

Posted by: Mike S. | September 10, 2005 12:40 PM

Jeff,

And the outcome, the brass tacks, of that commission is what? Can you see the results in New Orleans now?

What was the so-called solution just after 9/11?

Let Guillani rule (follow this WP editorialists who think appointing a mayor is the best thing since sliced bread to resolve problems)? What did Guillani bring to the victim families? What did he do to rebuild the WTC? He brought in junk, and his legacy is building a new WTC that's uglier than the original ones (and by slipping in an architect, who's a buddy -- another political appointee -- who should've worked in Hollywood on Sci-Fi sets instead).

Or let's see: our military gutted and our own regional security hampered from this new form of backdoor draft of federalizing the National Guard (oh, you Dems really fell into that bear trap. You're giving everything to the radical right, including making that milita movement stronger!! You don't think of consequences, you think of what camera shots it'll make to be right there with a victim, showing you "care")?

And even worse, have a commission with the guy who helped make it impossible for the intelligence agencies to communicate among each other?

How many more commissions are needed to whitewash what's really wrong? These politicians who aren't in it for the "public good", as much as what they can give back to voters (pork), to get elected again, so to get experience and clout to retire as a consultant/lobbist later.

Do you actually believe those partisan blockheads are doing the country some good with these commissions (who's findings are papered over to 1000+ pages of fluff -- then they wonder why they need to rush in politico red tape cutters to cut their own political/policy red straitjackets off now)?

No, it's a government by the government for the government. They're in it for themselves. Those idealogues who come in fresh thinking of doing the "public good", soon learn to get anything done they have to deal with the Tom DeLays and Ted Kennedys that corrupt our political process. And once these "do gooders" bite from that apple, lord help us of the consequences of yet another generation of the hopeless.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 12:41 PM

Jack: Thanks for an outstanding post. My only point of disagreement is that I do not think impeachment is the answer. This Congress will not impeach. And the process is too messy and long to allow for decisive action. What is needed instead is massive popular demand that Bush resign. We can and should bypass Congress.

SandyK's message is one of cynicism and hopelessness. I sure know where that is coming from. But the case SandyK made as to why Bush cannot be dislodged could just as readily been made in regard to Nixon. Not only that, Nixon is head and shoulders above Bush as a president, despite his flaws, and deserved ejection from office. Why such a disengaged, bumbling, venal president as Bush should be more insulated from public outrage than Nixon, who was fully engaged in governing and policy his entire life, is unclear. Nixon was not impeached. Nixon resigned. Bush should do so as well.

As for Vern's effort to fob off responsibility to elected officials in Louisiana, it's just the Rove-Bartlett spin again. The failures of other responsible people do not in any way diminish the monumental failure of George W. Bush to do his job. To the contrary, the possibility that some officials would fall down on the job should have been anticipated and required all the more that Bush be doing his. He failed. He must be accountable for his own failures. Others can be held accountable for theirs by the appropriate constituency.

Moreover, let's remember that Bush's indolence and inattention occurred before we had any idea which communities would be hard hit. That is inexcusable and cannot be spun away with a 'shared blame' campaign. No one has the clout and authority to mobilize the resources of the nation in the face of catastrophe except the President. Yet, his team was scattered about, flyfishing, shopping, and attending ball games as disaster loomed. Why anyone would retain so much devotion to this one man that they can continue to overlook his manifest failures here is beyond me.

Bush must resign. We must demand it.

Posted by: johnuw93 | September 10, 2005 12:54 PM

Mike S.,

Intelligent comment about federalism. The federal government is the responder which has to assume and correct all the failures of the previous responders. That is what happened in New Orleans. The local failure became a state responsibility, and then the state failure became a federal responsibility. I'm sure there have been failures at the federal level as well but the feds response has been head and shoulders above the local and state responses. You hear the media trying to blame the federal government but journalists are actually a pretty ignorant lot and are usually the last people to figure out what's happening. If people's lives had depended on Big Media getting things right, there would be millions dead from Katrina.

Posted by: Vern | September 10, 2005 01:10 PM

Don Williams wrote:

===========================================
2) In a New York Times article yesterday "Political Issues Snarled Plans for Troop Aid", the Times performed its customary form of journalism -- faithfully writing down and uncritically publishing whatever line of misleading bullshit its White House "sources" hand it."
===========================================

Playing to the partisan base does little good, when it doesn't translate to any action (and the Dems winning national elections will be slim, because the base is fractured and leaderless. The blame/impeach/resign Bush tactic won't work, as the moral values the conservatives tried to push. It makes the moderate middle uncomfortable, and they're not going to oblige with the pleas).

Furthermore...

1. No media souce is always right or wrong.

2. No media source is unbiased.

3. To claim a media source prints "the truth", when it's used as a partisan wag/rag, makes it's content quite biased.

What's factual is, your source is "the truth" based on your own biases -- and as long as bias rears it's ugly head, we'll get incompetence, indecision, ineptness as the outcome.

Wash, rinse, repeat........

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 01:12 PM

Vern,

Unless you're claiming the Articles of Confederation were a success (which would be a flat out falsehood), and a model to live by, the federal government has a responsibility to oversee the states. As in Mike S's commentary about being responsible for 500,000 lives in flooded homes to their roofs -- if the State doesn't do their job in safekeeping the citizens, by admission to this Union, the government has a duty to safeguard them.

A confederate response would be, "each to their own". It was bad for interstate commerce, worse for safekeeping human lives -- as there's no safeguard of protecting it's citizens from harm from within.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 01:18 PM

Like the Claude Rains character in "Casablanca" who was "shocked (!)" to discover gambling occurring in the casino (while quietly pocketing his winnings), some Media talking heads now display outrage at the disastrous response by Bush, et al to Katrina's aftermath. These are no doubt the same "watchdogs" who dutifully chuckled when Bush praised the "Haves, and the Have Mores" as his loyal base; who were amused by the skit showing the president searching for missing WMDs in the Oval Office; who "went along, to get along" and preserve their jobs and precious access to the Administration's spin experts - then dutifully reported the spin as news. We are now to believe they have grown some "backbone" and will henceforth courageously discharge their responsibility to accurately inform the public. Really? But...there may be a ray of hope. After all, at the end of the movie, Claude Rains chucks a bottle of Vichy Water in the trash bin, having done his bit to save the heroine. Perhaps the Media may yet do its part to dispatch this sorry lot of political hacks, masquerading as the face of America, to their rightful place.

Posted by: VicL | September 10, 2005 01:21 PM

Newsweek has just sent out a press release on its latest poll of presidential approval. Bear in mind, we are in a crisis, and the typical public response to a crisis is to rally around the leader. This is not happening. Bush's manifest failures are too obvious, and as the full story is told, we can expect his public support to fall further. This is not politics as usual. This is about a government in serious crisis. It has lost confidence across the board. The inept response to Katrina is but the last straw. This is going beyond partisanship to a real crisis of legitimacy.

SandyK can scoff at my suggestion that popular pressure be mobilized to force Bush's resignation. It may be that Bush's resignation will become the only way to restore public support for this government. Moreover, the condition of the Democratic Party is barely relevant. I have not suggested turning to Ted Kennedy to begin a Senate debate. I have said we, the people, who adopted our Constitution in order to form a more perfect Union and who retain the right to change it when it no longer serves our ends, should force Bush out.


Newsweek flash: Bush approval 38%, 57% have lost confidence in U.S. to deal with disaster
RAW STORY

http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Newsweek_flash_Bush_approval_38_57_have_lost_confidence_in_U.S._to_deal_with__0910.html

From a press release just issued to RAW STORY.

#

FIFTY-SEVEN PERCENT OF AMERICANS HAVE LOST CONFIDENCE IN GOVERNMENT TO DEAL WITH ANOTHER NATURAL DISASTER; 52% DO NOT TRUST PRESIDENT TO MAKE RIGHT DECISIONS IN A CRISIS

Posted by: johnuw93 | September 10, 2005 01:21 PM

Dismal numbers even for Dems. As it shows the country is still as fractured of their opinions on "talking points", as to claim who's at fault.

Now if the numbers showed more than 60/40 rating, it's no longer a divided ideal, it's an united front.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 01:29 PM

SandyK,

The national government did its job in Katrina. It took over after the local and state governments failed. This is the way federalism is supposed to work. This is the way it did work. The reference to the Articles of Confederation is a non sequitur here. We need to deal with reality, and the reality is the system of government we actually have is federalism.

Posted by: Vern | September 10, 2005 01:43 PM

Vern & Sandy K.

Sentiment seems pretty clearly that the Federal Government should be responsible (at least ultimately) for citizens in a disaster situation.

I am simply trying to point out that in these natural disasters there seems to be a pretty clear moral hazard between the feds and local government - impact of failure of the local government (i.e. failure to evacuate citizens prior to storm/flooding) falls on the federal government (in the form of difficulty of evacuating each citizen by helicopter indivudually (after fishing them out of the water) after the storm has passed.

In addition, in the US, typically Federal roles are separated from local roles (activity between states is regulated by the feds, activity within state is regulated by the state) - and both the feds and state communicate directly with citizens (i.e. when you import stuff into the US you talk directly with the feds - and there is no communication or role for the state government) - a role that was lauded by deTocqueville and (indirectly) by Churchill...

Simply suggesting that a similar arrangement that has worked for many other institutions in the US would create a stronger organization for responding to disasters.

Posted by: Mike S. | September 10, 2005 02:04 PM

George Bush is a hollow-man, thanks to his mother's ethics. (George H.W. Bush seems to be ethical.). Gush lies, kills, denies quality of life (through denied money for stem cell research), does not care apparently about hungry, thirty, dying taxpaying, citizens in New Orleans.

This empty man espouses life, over death, but kills countless American soldiers and old men, women, and child Iraqis. He is cynical enough to send every American he can, to the Gulf to rebuild and to fight so that these hapless tools (fools) have replaced the USA as a terrorist target. It's no wonder we haven't been attacked after 9/11. Our cynical Bush Administration has relocated the target to Iraq.

I have to think that everything Barbara stands for, she has transferred to her hollow son. God save us all. I think this Administration will suspend the US Constitution, Bush will declare himself King, and stay in office until he dies. Cheney will be his prime minister. Tom Delay will be his enforcer ("hamme"r), Karl Rove will continue in his noxious position. God help us all.

Posted by: utahgramma@earthlink.net | September 10, 2005 02:06 PM

I'm not writing it again. it just disappeared, and also, I cannot copy your damned column because it will not print.

Posted by: joann roberts | September 10, 2005 02:10 PM

Vern:

This:

"The national government did its job in Katrina. It took over after the local and state governments failed."

is just plain nonsense. It is not true that the way it works is for the federal government to clean up after the states and locals fail. ALL levels and arms of government are supposed to do their jobs in a timely manner. Your model of chronological succession of resopnsiblity is not the way the law reads. Instead, when the relevant authorities determine that the impending (not past) crisis is of such magnitude that it will overwhelm state and local capabilities, then the federal government steps in to ADD to the resources available. Blanco made this determination before the hurricane made landfall, and the federal government agreed.

Bush, meanwhile, played golf.

Bush must resign.

Posted by: johnuw93 | September 10, 2005 02:24 PM

Vern,

It didn't do it's job. The federal government's role is to oversee the administration of all states in this union. It doesn't interferre with their daily business, but it has a duty to safeguard all 50 states and territories, from enemies both foreign AND DOMESTIC.

It's clearly shown that, in this case, the enemy was our own (bickering politicos). With thousands gathering at shelters with no way out and no vittles or water, the federal government had to intercede, as the loss of life would be horrid.

That is the role of the federal government, no less and no more. It's what we EXPECT from it for accepting it's rule.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 03:11 PM

johnu93,

Quote from the actual law that you're citing. Or are you really just relying on phrases from one of the bureaucratic texts that E. Messner posted to start the debate? Sorry, those phrases are no closer to actual law than shoe polish is to peanut butter.

SandyK,

I agree that the federal government has an unavoidable responsibility. The difference I suppose is that I think the feds pretty much met their responsibility. No, they weren't perfect but they were a lot better than anyone else on the playing field. It wasn't the mayor and the governor who cooked up those MRE's that fed the people at the SuperDome and Convention Center. That was the feds who did that. If you can believe the press (always a dodgy proposition), the local authorities in fact kept the Red Cross from bringing in supplies to the people huddled at those places because they thought it would just encourage the people to stay there! How incompetent can you get.

Posted by: Vern | September 10, 2005 03:43 PM

I notice a common theme in all of these postings in every category. They all seem to blast the President (doesn't matter who might be in office, Clinton had his fair share). The real organizations who need to be talked about are the Congress, state and Local Government bodies. Let's talk budget for a minute. For those of you who read your way through this it will be worth it. Most won't, they'll not bother to look around their blinders at any facts that might contradict their prejudices. Congress first. The President proposes a budget. Once it goes to Congress, they begin to earmark pork into the budget. Nearly one third of the defense budget the President recently asked for was earmarked pork added in by Congress for things like help for the cruise ship industry. There were over 300 earmarks in the budget. Many for the Corp of Engineers. Here is what is funny about earmarks. That money can only be used for the purpose it was earmarked for, go back 10 or 20 years and see how much Congress set aside for flood control in NO.
I agree with those who say Bush should have acted faster. Disregard the US Constitution and the state Charter of Louisiana. He should have invoked the Insurrection Act for the first time in US history and wrested control away from the State. That would have prevented the Louisiana DHS from denying access by the Red Cross to the Superdome for 3 days. Instead of the little old lady who was disarmed by the NO police when she waved a pistol in their face the Marines would have simply shot her and dragged her corpse out of the house. Let's face the real truth here people, The Gov. and Mayor were the responsible bodies and the only way the federal government could have come any quicker would have been to wrest power away from the state officials. Marshal Law was never declared, and thankfully, the Insurrection Act was never invoked. Thankfully today, it is the National Guard and not the US Marines providing law enforcement in NO. Make no mistake, I highly respect and support our US military, I just don't ever want them in control of my city. Early Congress saw the wisdom of this after the Revolutionary War and passed the Posse Commitatus Act to prevent armed federal forces acting in a law enforcement role on US soil. I am saddened that so much and so many have been lost in the two hardest hit states. Like many, no reaction could have been fast enough to suit me, however, I think that until the crisis is over and the rebuilding begins, no one is in a position to truly start looking at all the things that went wrong or all the things that went right. There will be enough blame to go around later.

Posted by: WhyoWhy | September 10, 2005 03:45 PM

To those of you requesting impeachment or resignation of Resident Bush (it's hard to think of him as president, since he is clearly not up to the task), you do realize that, if it were to happen, Cheney would become president? And if that happens, we might as well all go f*ck ourselves. Unless, of course, you work for or have an investment in Halliburton.
Speaking of Halliburton, can you guess who's being awarded contracts to clean up Katrina? Surprise, surprise.

Posted by: ErrinF | September 10, 2005 03:54 PM

I haven't had the energy to think today... I guess I have finally broken down, allowed myself to cry... Have a moment of silence... Maybe I am done debating this issue... I don't know...

Yet, have you noticed how many gaffes (public relations blunders) Bush's administration and the Republican Congress (i.e., Hastert) have made throughout this disaster? I mean, even Bush's mother is doing her best to appear thoughtless... I guess empathy is something that can't be feigned... It is innate...

Peace and love,
Aaron

Posted by: New Orleans Blues | September 10, 2005 04:00 PM

Excellent article! History galore, and some questions to be answered....

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/09/AR2005090902448.html

Yes, New Orleans [b]could[/b] be rebuilt. But the main questions is: why build on ground that's below sea level? Furthermore, why build when it's known that the levees/canals and development are eroding the very barrier that protects New Orleans from worse disasters?

I wish it could be rebuilt, but to think sometime in my lifetime it'll be submerged again -- and to see grandma confronted with a shotgun on a forced evacuation, it's too much.

Who knows from the death of New Orleans a new city elsewhere could be built. One with the old world charm, on higher ground, with no need of canals and levees to keep it alive.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 04:02 PM

Aaron,

Do you want sympathy or do you want to bleed dry publicly?

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 04:07 PM

I am only stating my feelings... I realize that my feelings are not important in this debate, and maybe I am begging for sympathy... I don't know...

Peace,
Aaron

Posted by: New Orleans Blues | September 10, 2005 04:15 PM

Vern:

I have seen the text of the Governor's request for assistance as well as other documents. Direct quotes. The Governor, before the hurricane made landfall, informed the President that the impending disaster would be so great as to overwhelm state and local resources. Do you think such language is pulled out of her rear end? Every word is drawn from law, so as to mobilize the needed resources. Peanut butter indeed.

But look at it this way. Imagine that way before Katrina, state, local, and federal authorities are gathered together deciding how they should respond to a yet-to-occur emergency. They decide, well, the state will sit on its hands until they are sure the locals are failing. Then, after the feds are sure the states and locals are failing, they will join in. Now, does that sound like a plan that any responsible person would adopt? Of course not. People would die and the disaster would become larger and more difficult to manage with such a horrible plan. It's the plan you have told us is the way it works, though.

It is not. The federal gov't was responsible to implement its part of the response plan. Probably, most of the federal agencies did what they were supposed to do, with due regard for the inevitable mistakes and misjudgments that attend any such overwhelming catastrophe.

The man who did not do his job was George Bush. He must resign.

As to the Red Cross delay, this has been cited as proof of the failures of the state gov't. In fact, the Red Cross did not try to get in there on Day One, as Hannity (and probably the rest of the echo chamber) has claimed. That's not the way the Red Cross works. They requested to come in days later, and the officer in charge of Louisiana Homeland Security requested a 24-hr delay. A day later, most people had been evacuated from the Superdome. Besides, even if the governor made a mistake, at least she was there.

Bush could barely bring himself to cut short his vacation. He should resign.

Posted by: johnuw93 | September 10, 2005 04:23 PM

Sticking to the topic, I have found where to lay blame: class.
For a supposedly free, capitalist country, class dominates our country in a way it shouldn't. Class means that if you are rich and white, there's a government position waiting for you in Washington DC. Class means that if you are poor and black, you may find yourself dead and drowned in New Orleans.
Case in point: John Roberts. Born to affluence, prepped in upper class schools, accepted to Harvard, then to DC to lucrative positions within Republican administrations. Now he's most likely going to be our next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, nominated by his fellow upper classman George Bush.
The problem is not that people such as John Roberts are rich and powerful and have many, many things handed to them in life. The problem is disconnect: The vast majority of Americans are not born into privilege, yet the people running the country are; This goes for Democrats as well as Republicans, as both Gore and Kerry were from upper class families as well. With disconnect comes ignorance; They simply don't understand the real day issues the rest of us have to face. Bush's slow response to Hurricane Katrina is indicative of such ignorance; He just did not understand the scope of the matter, as HE would never find himself stranded without food and water in any situation, and HE could afford gas and transportation in any situation. Obviously, had he had any inkling of such, he would not be in the dire political situation he now finds himself in (and to those who think he's getting blamed too much, his desk is where the buck stops. Period. End of sentence).
Until we stop thinking of political office as one of the many privileges that the upper class is entitled to in this country, we are doomed to continue on this path of decline. We need those born of the salt of the earth to deal with the problems that face us, not those born with a silver spoon in mouth.
For instance, the 'war' on terror. Osama Bin Laden started as a rich guy too, but he went to Afghanistan to fight the Russians, and he ultimately denounced the royal family he was born into. He lives in a cave now, not a mansion. The reason I bring this all up is because he is the enemy, and we're expecting a bunch of rich, out-of-touch faux-aristocrats to defeat him? There is no doubt in my mind that if you were to throw Bush and Bin Laden into a jungle and see which survives, Bin Laden would exit the jungle with Bush's head in hand. Tomorrow is the 4th anniversary of 9/11, and Bin Laden has yet to be found, which only proves my point all the more: class is the root of many of our problems, and until we have a truly egalitarian country where the best and brightest get to the top rather than the rich and whitest, we have many more years of blame and shame to come.

Posted by: ErrinF | September 10, 2005 04:31 PM

Another lesson: to not do the below...

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/12610178.htm

Don't know if all the reports of cops being no better than thugs, but considering how corrupt the NO police department was (or still is), I wouldn't doubt the disease spread elsewhere. 1/3 of their force just walked off -- that should be a crime in itself.

How on Earth could they stop 200+ people from getting away from hell, let alone food and water? Don't they have ANY form of compassion?

What is it? The water?

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 04:36 PM

"Those idealogues who come in fresh thinking of doing the "public good", soon learn to get anything done they have to deal with the Tom DeLays and Ted Kennedys that corrupt our political process."

First, let me say that DeLay is an ideologue. Second, that Kennedy although arguably an ideologue, does more good than harm. I definitely can't say this about DeLay.

Also, instead of ideologue, you might substitute the word "idealist." Here again, I think there are some admirable public servants that manage to serve the public interest, relatively unsullied. Case in point, Senator Russ Feingold, who takes no PAC money and takes principled positions on issues, despite the large number of conservatives in his state (remember the late Joe McCarthy also came from Wisconsin). Another admirable idealist who made it through the system was the late Senator Paul Wellstone (I just wanted to mention Russ first while he's still around and in power, even Republicans have eulogized Paul's virtues, albeit after he died.

Also, despite the cynicism of some like the idiot senator who said, "my momma didn't raise no idiots." (Shows he knows absolutely nothing). There are some fine public servants (in fact I would include Ted Kennedy) who do the public's business in many admirable ways, but have clay feet, like most of us humans.

One thing I do agree with you is that the present top-down system of government with a passive citizenry, needs to change, that more bottom-up direction is needed. Therefore, I am heartened by the article by Putnam in today's paper that I mentioned earlier, about the increasing civic engagement of youth approaching college age at the time of 9-11. I really am an adherent of a "strong democracy" of political engagement and rescuers not the "thin democacy" of pirates and clueless bystanders that we find in the present administration.

Posted by: Jeff | September 10, 2005 04:37 PM

Aaron, do yourself a favor and completely ignore Sandy like I do. Express all the feelings you like here: This is a free country, and this forum is obviously a free and open one for you to discuss whatever it is you wish to discuss. Being that you lost loved ones to Katrina, your feelings are relevant to the topic, no matter what some devil's idiot, I mean advocate, says. To engage in debate with Sandy is to ignore the fact that all he/she wants to do is shoot down other people's opinions/feelings, as 98% of his/her posts are wont to do. It's called an 'ostrich act', and you should not take part in it for your own well-being.

Posted by: ErrinF | September 10, 2005 04:46 PM

I disagree with ErrinF. SandyK's posts at least have a thinking presence behind them. I'm on the opposite side of most of the issues from SandyK but sometimes you have to leave your ego behind and review the evidence.

johnu93,

Since you have seen the 'direct quotes' from Gov. Blanco's speech, that proves that there's a law that absolves her of responsibility and puts it onto George Bush? Reminds me of the Steven Wright joke:

"A flying saucer landed in my back yard last night. Two aliens came out and climbed over the fence. If you don't believe me, I'll show you the fence."

Posted by: Vern | September 10, 2005 05:06 PM

Errin,

Giving Carl Jung a run for his money with his "Shadow Theory"?

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 05:07 PM

"class is the root of many of our problems, and until we have a truly egalitarian country where the best and brightest get to the top rather than the rich and whitest, we have many more years of blame and shame to come"

I mostly agree with your argument, it's nice to hear class brought up again as a legitimate topic of concern. I do think there is a group of patrician politicians that do more good than harm. But, there is something disconcerting that we seemingly have two royalist lines of Bush's and Clinton's to choose from in electing our next constitutional monarch.

In any event, I think that ordinary citizens should do more of the directing of politicians rather than fatcat contributors. I think you are a bit harsh on Al Gore who promoted sustainable development (that encourages political engagement of ordinary citizens in planning their communities) and who is a heck of a nice guy (his wife is a real sweetie). Also, John Kerry besides his honorable service in Vietnam and heroic leadership in opposition, has a lot going for him, as well. Look none of us is perfect.

I do think that there should be public funding of elections (particularly to national level offices) to allow fresh blood from talented folks from ordinary backgrounds who can better maintain their independence from corrupting interests (face it they will always be corruption where power is, the problem is to minimize it).

Also, being from the lower and middle class does not always insure virtue. Recall the movie, the Philadelphia Story, where Katherine Hepburn who thinks she is marrying the salt of the earth, because he came from the lower class. Cary Grant, her ex-husband in the picture rejects her assertion of his class snobbery when he derides him and says he would cheer her if she married Mack the Watchman who is a prince of a fellow, rather than the faux "man of the people" (remember Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon were also a mem of the people). Character, capacity, and vision should the criteria for public service. As Frank Rich mentioned in a recent column in the NYTimes. Character is destiny.

Posted by: Jeff | September 10, 2005 05:17 PM

I have one question only
for Mayor Nagin and Governor
Blanco: Why did you not evacuate
people with no means to get out in the three days BEFORE Katrina using ALL official vehicles including school buses, and city buses?

All you had to do is pick up people for three days, along bus benches and school pick up points using normal bus routes which cover the whole city.

I guess it was better to just let all the buses flood after Katrina and then scream out loud for FEMA's ghost fleet of 500 buses.

Posted by: H R Del Valle | September 10, 2005 05:18 PM

Jeff,

Wisconsin is a liberal state. Has been since it's populist days. It's unique because it's residents ancestory brought over it's social values -- especially on social issues.

It's not very tolerant of race issues though. Some areas don't have any folks of color there, and their sentiments show (have relatives there to know firsthand).

Ted Kennedy to me is not a fine public servant. I will never forgive him for destroying the Carter Administration. Tip O'Neale and Kennedy did everything they could to stop reforms Carter sought. Which only caused inflation to reach over 20%, and the country sacrifice him because of their non party loyality (you can count on Ted for fracturing the party -- even today!). In return, they made it possible for Reagan to win, and literally cut out the social fabric of this country for 12 years.

Nope, Ted isn't a fine politician. He reminds me of that OTHER Ted that Florida executed. He is not the mold of his brothers.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 05:25 PM

I know Wisconsin's reputation (to outsiders), but it is a schizophrenic state, very liberal around Madison, very conservative in many rural areas. It is as likely to elect a conservative as a liberal to the senate. Some districts being very Republican and some very Democratic. In order for Russ (Feingold) to survive, he needs to get some crossover conservative votes. Joe McCarthy was not an anomoly. As for your remarks about Ted Kennedy, I disagree.

Posted by: Jeff | September 10, 2005 05:35 PM

Jeff,

Depends on which parts of Wisconsin. Each town is different, because of it's ethnic mix. Down south is the German/Polish side. Up north the Swede/Norse/Finn.

It's totally liberal around Madison because of the university. Some folks consider it just another state....lololol

Actually McCarthy was a larger reflection of Main Street America during that time. Through the lens of time folks have painted him as some ghoul, but at the time (upto the point he went crazy), folks supported his efforts.

As for Kennedy: Remember how Ted and the other Ted flourished at the same time.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 05:49 PM

"""I have one question only for Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco: Why did you not evacuate people with no means to get out in the three days BEFORE Katrina using ALL official vehicles including school buses, and city buses?"""

Both were warned by their legal staffs that the "hotel and tourist" industry in NOLA/State would sue them if the storm bypassed the city after calling a evacuation!

When push came to shove - neither could find enough drivers (most of whom are women) to drive the buses. This was due to the fact that NOLA's black criminal predator terrorist class was ruling most of the city, after 400 to 500 black police officers ran away from the city right before kitrina hit! Also NOLA had 7,000 registered sex offenders without the normal controls.

Speaking of the sex offenders - most of which have been shipped to cities all around the nation; again without controls.

Posted by: DirtyBlues | September 10, 2005 05:59 PM

Nope, not touching tainted meat.

But I will state: the way Vonage is advertizing (same as that camera campaign years ago, with it's horrid popups), it's going to crash like the dot.coms.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 06:11 PM

I know that a lot of people around here are pumped for the LSU Tigers game... Something we can all rally around...

Peace,
Aaron

Posted by: New Orleans Blues | September 10, 2005 06:15 PM

Couldn't find enough drivers! How hard can it be to drive a bus in one direction? Worried about being sued because they took private property (buses) and used them to evac the sick, lame, and feeble? what jury would convict them? Oh yeah, the same morons who award an idiot $10m for spilling hot coffee in their laps from McD's. Lets get real. 4 Days + warning NO had that Katrina was coming. Nobody at the state level lifted a finger to help evac anyone who couldn't do it themselves. The Mayor is a black man. If class or race was the big discriminator everyone claims, why didn't he send a bus for "his" people? Class, color, religion, had zip to do with it. STOP projecting your own emotional garbage on to this. NO had a huge population of people (white, black, mexican and more) who had no way to get out other than walking, no where to go, and no one to help! Why didn't that mayor or Gov help them? Cowerdice! Thats why. "I don't want to risk ending up in court for using private property to save people, I'll just wait and blame it on someone else!"

Posted by: WhyoWhy | September 10, 2005 06:45 PM

"Since you have seen the 'direct quotes' from Gov. Blanco's speech, that proves that there's a law that absolves her of responsibility and puts it onto George Bush?"

Vern: It was not a speech. It was the document sent to the President declaring the need for federal assistance, due to the likelihood that the impending disaster would overwhelm state and local resources. The President followed this up with a similar document that committed the federal gov't to respond to the disaster. The plan was most certainly not to have various levels of gov't wait around until lower levels were failing. The plan was to mobilize all available and necessary resources to meet the crisis. Every part of gov't had jobs to do. The Governor is not absolved and no one is suggesting it.

What has me steamed is Bush's own personal attitude and behavior as this crisis was brewing and then in the aftermath. Timelines show him at McCain's birthday party, slipping in a round of golf, taking another day at Crawford, and so on. It was not until well after the hurricane had hit and it was becoming clear how much political damage was about to hit him that he became engaged. And then to stage a series of useless and unhelpful Rove-managed media events intended to play out the themes related to us in a front page Post story.

I am quite sure that various public officials made mistakes and misjudgments. I am quite sure that most federal agencies did what was asked of them. I am very doubtful that the one man who could have ensured that things were happening was on the job. He did not rally his team, he did not keep close tabs on events, he did not do what he could do, uniquely as the most powerful politician in the world, to ensure that the country was ready. And much of this happened before we had any idea which state or local officials would have to respond. We were facing a national catastrophe, with far-reaching economic, security, and humanitarian implications. This does not reduce to how to manage the buses in New Orleans, which is chaff thrown up to distract attention. Bush has to be held accountable for his failures. Let the people of Louisiana deal with their elected leaders. We have to deal with ours.

Bush must resign.

Posted by: johnuw93 | September 10, 2005 07:01 PM

Read CNN's help page and the site below is just a literal embarassment that it's listed....

http://www.refugees.org/

These are AMERICAN CITIZENS, they're are NOT refugees. They are not third world people, they are our own. By God they deserve to treated as such too.

>:(

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 07:11 PM

Again something not to do...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/katrina_brown;_ylt

People are angry with Brown, but posting the contents of an email ***to his family publicly*** is the dirtiest smear politics.

Some people just are vultures. They feed off the dead, and then try to come off as clean people -- NOT!

This has gotten too far.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 07:20 PM

If the Son of Man returned to Earth and ran for President as a Democrat on a platform consistent with his teaching in the Bible, the Religious Right would remain staunchly Republican.

Posted by: Sam | September 10, 2005 07:28 PM

This is surreal. It seems Iraq comes first in about everything. This time a judge even abandoned the bench to seek $$$$$ driving a truck there......

http://biz.yahoo.com/law/050909/68c44dd3450710de48cd2dae6e8bc2df.html?.v=1

It's turning out that Iraq is a cash cow. We can throw BILLONS of dollars into that mess, but we have thousands of citizens are to get a six month handout for losing everything.

What is the Bush Administration's priority? Foreigners or our own???

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 07:31 PM

johnu93,

I think what you're saying is you don't like George Bush and that you don't like the way he can't instantly make up for incompetence at the local and state level. How about this for a preventive measure: every big city with a Democratic mayor in a Democratic state should be required by federal law to project a holograph into the sky declaring "THIS IS A CITY RUN BY EXTREMELY INCOMPETENT PEOPLE AT THE LOCAL AND STATE LEVELS. IN THE EVENT OF ANYTHING THAT LOOKS LIKE TROUBLE, COME IN AND RESCUE US IMMEMDIATELY BECAUSE OUR MAYOR AND GOVERNOR ARE CLUELESS SAPS.". Then whenever there's a hurricane, tornado, or other disaster, the feds will know where to concentrate their efforts.

Posted by: Vern | September 10, 2005 07:35 PM

Vern,

We had a Republican mayor. He's now a political appointee with HUD.

It seems whoever supports Bush in some capacity is promoted to jobs they have no qualification in. That mayor was a local news anchor -- it's his wife that was the realtor!

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 07:43 PM

Vern wrote: "I think what you're saying is you don't like George Bush and that you don't like the way he can't instantly make up for incompetence at the local and state level."

Absolutely not. I am unhappy that Bush cannot overcome his own incompetence. Comparing incompetence levels is not at all what I am discussing.

If I were to be so flip in regard to your comments, I would have to infer that for you, Bush can do no wrong. And the prime directive driving you is to protect Bush from criticism at all costs.

At first you were thoughtful. Faced with how untenable your position is, you have become increasingly silly.

Why not just come right out with the last resort: Accuse me of hating Bush and hating America.

In my view, people who have defended this president for so long need to consider whether their first loyalties lie with the country or with the man.

Posted by: johnuw93 | September 10, 2005 08:02 PM

SandyK touched on this, but when I read Charles Krauthammer's assertation that "There is no relationship between global warming and the frequency and intensity of Atlantic hurricanes. Period." it seemed odd to me that he could honestly make such a statement as not merely a probability but a certainty. I don't think that even scientists that are experts in climatology make such absolute statements.

There's an opinion piece today in the LA Times by Rosa Brooks that says:
"Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict that in the coming decades, the intensity of hurricanes will steadily increase as a result of global warming."

I don't pretend to know myself, but I would be interested to learn how Mr Krauthammer arrived at his knowledge. Will we simply have to take his word for it, or will he perhaps enlighten us in the future?

Posted by: Tim | September 10, 2005 08:15 PM

DON'T PLAY 'THE BLAME GAME'? WHO'S PLAYING GAMES?

The minute the President said that the country needed to talk about what went 'right' and wrong, people knew this was the same old 'manipulating game' by this president. Yeah, Mr. President? Well if anything went right during the first few days of this tragedy is was obviously executed by the State and Local governments because you, the Federal Government and FEMA were not involved in the first few days at all.

So why did you publicly praise the Director of FEMA for doing an excellent job 'before' the investigation after you said the results of the response was unacceptable Mr. President? To make the very State and Local government 'you inferred did something right' look bad so that you and the Federal Government would not look bad for not doing anything right? That's the irresponsible behavior of a teen-ager Mr. President, to say the other guy involved did the wrong thing because they do not have enough life experience to know better. What's your excuse Mr. Bush?

Now your considering contracting out your presidential leadership by hiring another idolized unqualified buddy of yours or your advisor's to handle such national responses to fix 'your public image'? Redo our whole United States system of response only to fit 'your individual' political needs to cover up your leadership mistakes? Why not instead simply hold yourself accountable for not taking charge so you can do it right the next time?

Try this phrase on the public Mr. President: I 'AM' not God and sometimes I make mistakes.

Posted by: ms.liz.biz | September 10, 2005 08:32 PM

johnuw93,

My position is comfortable. You are the one who needs to defend the incompetents Nagin and Blanco if you attack Bush for the Katrina response. It's apparent that you can't do it. What you think about Bush is of no more actual importance than what you think about Nagin or Blanco. Asking people to produce some evidence for their statements is of some logical importance though. And you have no evidence, that's evident.

And, hey, re-phrase your last sentence just to think about something from a logical basis: "In my view, people who have defended incompetents for so long need to consider whether their first loyalties lie with the incompetents or with the country."

Posted by: Vern | September 10, 2005 08:33 PM

I've been away from this blog for a few hours, but this discussion seems to have degenerated into the usual confrontation -- us vs. them, Dems vs. Reps, conservatives vs. liberals, A's vs. B's, etc, etc, etc. When are you folks inside or near the beltway going to accept that middle-class front-porch America, those nowhere near the Beltway, 99% of America, could care less about how you label their beliefs? Most of them, us, do not even know what these labels mean! (I guess this lack of understanding of artifical labels makes us Ignorant Americans!) It's not the local/state gov officials of the Gulf Coast vs. the Feds, it's the people dieing and suffering as a result of Katrina -- and 9/11 -- and Iraq -- and the brush fires in California -- and the lack of assistance from anyone except public charitable organizations. All the American people want is help when help is needed -- regardless of the source. Why don't ya'all pull your heads out of the political forums and talking heads on TV and take the time to venture out into the real America, the America outside the beltway?

I ain't no intellectual, but I know we have a President who could not stop an attack on NYC and the Pentagon (As Commander-in-Chief, that should be grounds enough for being fired!). I know we have a President who trumped up excuses -- nay, flat out lies -- to launch an expeditionary adventure to overthrow a foreign government -- while the instigator of 9/11 is still running loose. I know we have a President who arrogantly claims he has never made a mistake since being elected. Is that not close to claiming yourself to being a religious deity or what? (But his momma defiantly claims that the poor folks of New Orleans are better off in the Astrodome than they were in their own homes in Louisiana! And Laura, the loyal spouse, chastises America for picking on her poor, harried husband! Are we approaching a monarchial attitude or what?) And I know we have a President who created a hugemongous Government organization, DHS -- as if we needed another gigantic, disfunctional Government agency -- to defend us (And, what may I ask is the function of the Dept of Defense? Oh, silly me, their function is to overthrow foreign regimes at the whim of His Majesty the President!) against everything under the sun including invasion from Mars, but can't provide assistance when a hurricane occurs. Something that happens at least once or twice every year.

With the above facts in mind, why bring the debate down to a matter of labels, labels that only mean something to the person defending their position? This man and his cowboy cronies are inept and they have killed too many American citizens. He won a second term and proven to his daddy that he is a success -- Daddy couldn't win a second term. Hussein -- and I totally agree that Hussein is a despot, but he is Iraq's despot, not ours -- put out a contract on daddy, so sonny-boy is looking for daddy's praise by taking out Hussein. Never mind the fact that close to 1900 American serviceman have died.

So, why debate the philosophical? Why not look at reality? A blatant attack on America, including an attack on the Pentagon, the epicenter of American military power. A war to overthrow a foreign government, at continued cost of American lives. Pushing our economy into one of the highest debt levels ever. An admistration that blatantly tells America that if the President is being accused of incompetence, the White House PR flaks are not getting the "right message" out to the public. And now, hurricane Katrina and vivid photos of a catastrophe.

Now, does anyone want to debate the cost of gasoline and heating oil? Our political leaders claim the cause is natural disaster yet oil companies -- hmm, most of whom are headquartered where ... Texas! -- post record profits! Oh, yes, our federal Government suggests that states should temporarily remove state taxes from the cost of gasoline! That should solve the problem while oil companies -- headquartered in Texas -- continue to post record profits! (Did I miss something or do we still occupy the country that is one of the world's largest producers of oil? There I go again, not being sensitive to the plight of the Iraqi people -- while Americans continue to suffer!)

Yup, cowboy up -- you can run but you can not hide -- bring 'em on -- mission accomplished! Will 2008 never come?

Posted by: GerryP | September 10, 2005 09:56 PM

Hey Vern, love your style. If you can't defend your argument, attack your attacker. Aren't you the same intellectual who last night tried to blame the Katrina travesty on the victims? What a man! What's your position in the Bush Monarchy?

Posted by: GerryP | September 10, 2005 10:10 PM

"And the Money Kept Rolling (In and Out)"
- by: Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber
===========================================

[...]

"And the money kept rolling out in all directions

To the poor, to the weak, to the destitute
of all complexions

Now cynics claim a little of the cash has gone astray

But that's not the point my friends

When the money keeps rolling out you don't keep books

You can tell you've done well by the happy grateful looks

Accountants only slow things down, figures get in the way

Never been a lady loved as much as [FEDERAL CASH]"

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/09/national/nationalspecial/09costs.html

If this isn't reined in, it's going to be another pork barrel of untold highs. For example: increased spending limits for government employee credit cards from 15k to 250k is going to be exploited -- those credit cards are notorious in being spent on anything but what's needed. We can be finding that some politicos had been renting apartments for afternoon forays of carnal knowledge (happened before, isn't going going to stop now).

Throwing money at a problem isn't going to get the job done in itself. Will take a heck of a lot of work to recover from Katrina, and money is only a dollar in the bucket.

SandyK
P.S. -- For those Republican congressmen who voted "no" on extra Katrina cleanup funds, you sure didn't question the billions spent (and unaccounted for) in Iraq. When it's for war and business you'd spend money like it's going out of style (rivalling Ted Kennedy). But when it's a social need (spanning 3 states), you now concerned about the debt? YOU'RE HYPOCRITES!!

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 10:16 PM

GerryP,

If you think I've made an argument I can't defend, state what it is. Otherwise, cut down on the noise 'cause you're interfering with the radio traffic.

Posted by: Vern | September 10, 2005 10:40 PM

GerryP: Have you noticed the near-complete lack of defense of Bush's own performance during this catastrophe? No wonder, in that defending an absent Chief Excecutive who makes his first priority to limit the political damage to himself is nearly impossible. Instead, we are supposed to join them in comparing who was more incompetent - Bush or a frickin' mayor. My anger at Bush is not just about his post-flood performance. It is also about his indifference and lack of leadership before the hurricane hit, before the mayor could have had much role to play at all.

Think of it. The nation is about to lose one-tenth of its gasoline production. Agricultural damage will mount into the billions. A major port is about to be destroyed. Hundreds of thousands are to be homeless and in need of medical care. Hundreds of thousands of jobs and businesses will be wiped out. And they want us to focus on whether the Mayor of New Orleans missed the opportunity to use some school buses? Ridiculous.

BTW, on the infamous school buses, they looked ready to roll to me, from the picture that the rightwing websites circulated endlessly. Why didn't FEMA or Bush himself order then to roll if they were so important? Answer: they weren't. Just more chaff to distract attention away from Bush's own failures.

Posted by: johnuw93 | September 10, 2005 10:44 PM

GerryP,

What's this pride in being stupid?

I never graduated from high school, let alone went to college, but even I shun being proud of ignorance (I read everything I can get my hands on [tech journals on up], and my IQ is nearly 140 [Yes formal testing, not the internet variety for you wise crackers]).

Even us more rural folks outside the Beltway understand there's nothing proud in being a dunce.

Frith.....

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 10:46 PM

Vern wrote: "You are the one who needs to defend the incompetents Nagin and Blanco if you attack Bush for the Katrina response."

Why?

Does a typical job site work in such a bizarre way? If one worker is not doing his job, I don't think the boss has to compare his incompetence to the rest of the work force before making his decision. Each is judged on their own merits. I have no desire or need to engage in comparing incompetence.

My employee in the White House screwed up. I want him to go. He should tender his resignation immediately.

Let the people of Louisiana judge their employees.

Posted by: johnuw93 | September 10, 2005 10:53 PM

Gee Vern, "...interfering with the radio traffic." -- how original. Again, ignore the message, assualt the messenger. Is your argument the same as last night, blaming the Katrina travesty on the victims? I anxiously await the victims response! Oh, I guess the victims are all dead so your position remains unchallenged! "Radio traffic" indeed!

Posted by: GerryP | September 10, 2005 11:00 PM

Vern, Johnuw93 has a point. Louisiana will take care of Blanco and Nagin -- their own will tar and feather them if they want.

Bush has to be accounted for by the nation, as the buck does stop at his desk. He appoints the department heads, and if they fail, he's responsible as he assigned them.

Think of it this way: the investors are revolting. The last thing "the company" needs is the institutional investors (his main backers) pulling out, because the incompetence is with more than FEMA.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 11:07 PM

GerryP,

You've said 'blaming the Katrina travesty on the victims' twice without citing evidence about what you mean. Don't be so intellectually lazy. Bring your evidence into the light of day so the rest of us can make our judgment. Or maybe you're just talking to hear your head roar.

SandyK,

Nope, Bush is never facing the voters again. Not voting for him the next time won't work because nobody is voting for him the next time. Whatever happens to Bush should happen to Nagin and Blanco with bells on. Seems like a just solution to me.

Posted by: Vern | September 10, 2005 11:19 PM

Louisianans did what they could during a natural disaster, and millions of Americans stepped forward to help. Governor Blanco HAD declared a State of Emergency and HAD asked the Federal Government to bring whatever they could--she asked for help before the Hurricane even got there. Even if she had not, it was bloody obvious that the Federal government's intervention was essential. And the national hurricane center was warning us. What was Bush's response?
http://news.yahoo.com/photo/050830/480/capm10208301856

By Saturday, September 3rd, it was reported that ten people died at the Superdome and 24 died at the Convention Center.

Does anyone remember what real presidents do? In 1999, President Clinton was in New Zealand--working, not on vacation-- when a Category 3 Hurricane was off the Carolina Coast. He declared the Carolinas a Federal Disaster Area and mobilized the National Guard and flew back to the U.S.--not from vacation, but from a diplomatic mission-- before Hurricane Floyd hit.

We've all heard that Bush doesn't normally read the newspapers, but we can be sure he at least watches television, and all of us saw how Katrina swallowed up Louisiana after the Levee did break and how much the Federal Government was needed to step in to help. The reality of the catastrophe was seen by all of us this time, and now he's going to try to hide the bodies, just as he hides our soldiers from view.

And Bush is playing at the implication that Louisiana's to blame--this fool, who didn't even think of putting the flag at half-mast until his buddy Rehnquist died, expects us to accept yet another shameful lie.

And to add insult to injury, he's now trying to put off a real investigation. Doing that while suggesting the victims of this disaster are to blame is not what we call patriotic. To blame those who were actually in the midst of such adversity with so little at hand while Bush did this: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/08/images/20050829-5_p082905pm-0267-515h.html

is an insult to the country because our country is comprised of the people that Bush blithely kicks to the curb.

And by the way, our National Guard should be working in OUR NATION.

He couldn't see the urgency of need during the disaster, but we, the people, could. He doesn't recognize the need for an INDEPENDENT inquiry, but we, the people, DO.

Posted by: JK | September 10, 2005 11:26 PM

Johnuw93,

BTW, Bush couldn't order those buses to pick up anyone. There's a strict seperation of state and federal powers. The governor does that ordering, and apparently she didn't push Nagin to do it (leadership in that situation would be -- "Damn the torpedoes!" to any threats about a lawsuit -- as the hurricane was going to hit and they knew in 24hrs it would at least hit the area [and they know the damage won't be nice even 100 miles away], nixing the lawsuit threat). All that wouldn't even help, since apparently no one factored in resistence, and so many who didn't have the means to evacuate on their own.

There's plenty of blame to go around. I'm personally most disappointed in Blanco, as she lacked leadership and played politics.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 11:26 PM

I find it interesting that most of us posters to this blog, minus Vern who continues to joust at windmills, are in such violent agreemment, again, violent AGREEMENT, yet we continue to attack each others, our own, position. GWB continues to validate the Peter Principle -- he has risen to his level of incompetence. Brownie goes from doing "a heck'uva a job" to being fired. And the Bush-guy expects us sheeple to say "ya and verily, Bush is our sheppard and I shall not want." As all of us front-porch Americans continue to pay exorbitant prices for gasoline and heating oil, we watch the poor souls in New Orleans try to reconstruct fractured lives, and American military lives continue to be sacrificed in Iraq for the sake of showing the world that Bush has assumed the mantle of responsibility for bringing freedom to all corners of the world, we continue to attack each other. Really SandyK, johnuw3, and a host of you other posters -- except for Vern -- who are sick and tired of being treated by the Bush machine as idiots, we are on the same page so why not join forces to attack the same citadel -- the Bush Monarchy? But, on the other hand, we can continue to attack each other and hope for the best in 2008! That's exactly how we ended up with another four years of Bush.

Posted by: GerryP | September 10, 2005 11:28 PM

GerryP,

You've made a couple of charges against me with no evidence. You haven't brought up any evidence yet even though you've been asked and it should be available because according to you it happened only last night on this forum. You think this is the kind of faked-up approach that brings Bush or any other politician down? You're delusional, kid.

Posted by: Vern | September 10, 2005 11:38 PM

Sorry Vern, forgive my intellectual laziness. (Ahhh, ignore the message and attack the messenger?) I was simply referring to your position from yesterday evening. I can't defend or explain your position and the victims are not in any position to counter your argument. Therefor, I guess you are right -- the victims are the cause of the Katrina travesty. Wow, what a victory you have won! Game, set, match to Vern!

Posted by: GerryP | September 10, 2005 11:42 PM

Vern,

Just that he's a LAME DUCK president now doesn't mean he's not accountable. And that if he tried to skirt being accountable, he flunked Leadership 101.

This is what an ordinary Marine learns about leadership (they used to issue these on plastic cards to carry in your wallet so you WILL remember them)...

http://www.uspharmd.com/usmc/mcleader.htm

Leadership Principles
==========================================

1. Know yourself and seek self-improvement.

2. Be technically and tactically proficient.

3. Develop a sense of responsibility among your subordinates.

4. Make sound and timely decisions.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

5. Set the example.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

6. Know your marines and look out for their welfare.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

7. Keep your marines informed.

|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||
8. Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions.

9. Ensure assigned tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished.
|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

10. Train your marines as a team.

11. Employ your command in accordance with its capabilities.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Now tell me how many of the above basic leadership principles did Bush fail on last week, and today?

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 11:44 PM

Well, I think that we see how bankrupt the "blame the locals" argument is. This aspect of the Rove-Bartlett political damage control campaign is clearly failing, because it is an entirely incoherent way of seeing the situation. JK's post is on target here.

SandyK: FEMA was authorized to identify and mobilize all assets that would ameliorate the damage to life and property. One would have to suggest that the mayor or governor actually stood in the way of their calling for the use of the buses or any other available resources to say that those resources were not available to FEMA, and of course to Bush himself had he chosen to act.

Anyway, the bus 'issue' is just part of the political damage control campaign, all detailed for us on the front pages of the NYT and Post. We know that this 'issue' is not part of a genuine dialogue on what occurred.

Posted by: johnuw93 | September 10, 2005 11:46 PM

To the Washington Post:
Charles Babington's article today, Saturday, Sept. 10 snidely suggests that Democrats take unfair advantage of Republican vulnerability during their most recent lethal idiocy. He concludes by lamenting Democratic mass mailings criticizing president Bush, among other Republicans.

Hey Babington, Rep. Senator Santorum wants to turn the National Weather Service into Accuweather.com. He wants to FINE flood victims who have already lost everything they own. I think a million or so letters are appropriate.

Such a pity, the poor Republicans can't say anything these days without those Democrats, and blogs piling on with their snotty mass mailings.

Babington sounds a tad uncomfortable now that Bush's opposition is finally countering the agitprop that Rove and his comrades in your business have dished out for years. And they're doing it WITHOUT YOU. They don't need you and your colleagues' hackneyed asses anymore.

Your paper and the rest of mainstream journalism gave this incompetent bastard Bush a pass for years. You let his idiotic malapropisms, and mean-spirited cracks (Remember the one about Letterman's heart surgery?) go unexamined in 2000.

By the way, if Clinton had thrown the finger, to the press on camera, how many weeks would it have been above the fold?

All the while in 2000, you hammered Gore relentlessly in an echo chamber of negative propaganda. Gore and the Internet, Gore and the Texas wildfire visits, the Lockbox, Gore wears a sweater, for Christ's sake! All BS. But now, you don't like the nasty liberal letters. Tough shit, Babs.

With Clinton, you turned any dropping from the GOP into a front page crusade right from the start. The Travel Scandal? WTF was that? Nothing. A nothing story that your paper pimped for weeks. Hillary's "cookies" comment. His student trip to Russia. You guys printed every steaming pile the GOP handed you. "Clinton's haircut holds up air travelers". Have you heard that Bush recently held up a group of cancer patients in San Diego. Their Chemo was canceled to accommodate his visit to their hospital. Yeah, lets throw that one into the echo chamber too and see if it reverberates.

Your yellow stain of a paper just printed a PLANTED false story about LA Governor Landro. You know the one. You gonna name the source? He freakin' lied to you. All you had to do was make a simple call to confirm it, but you ran it anyway. Since when do you need an unnamed source to give you information you can get from a Google search?

You won't name him, because you need him. You can't wait til they call you with more lies. You can't kiss their dimpled pink ass cheeks enough.

To hell with you hacks. People can get the truth now without your tragic fishwrap. You were great once, but now... you suck. The paper Katheryn Graham owned and Ben Bradlee ran is dead.

You play games covering politics. You like the theater of it all.
It's no damn game. Do you GET that now? Better men could have occupied the Oval Office. But you played games. Sat back and mused as good men were slandered and ridiculed. Enough readers and viewers bought the lies. Lies that were printed in your paper among many others.

Now we have Bush. President Death. And you jag-offs are partially to blame.

Love,

Jim Petrilli

Posted by: petrilli | September 10, 2005 11:47 PM

"Really SandyK, johnuw3, and a host of you other posters -- except for Vern -- who are sick and tired of being treated by the Bush machine as idiots, we are on the same page so why not join forces to attack the same citadel -- the Bush Monarchy?"

I agree 100%. I have been suggesting a national movement to demand Bush's resignation.

I wonder if the hardcore Second Amendment types are happy today, after watching American citizens having their guns confiscated?

SandyK: Nice post on the Marines principles of leadership.

Posted by: johnuw93 | September 10, 2005 11:53 PM

FEMA is a federal agency, it would have to be "invited" in by the governor. That is very clear. And governors usually don't invite the federal agencies in until needed -- not before to anticipate a disaster.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 10, 2005 11:57 PM

SandyK,

I like those Marine principles. How many of those Marine principles cards do you think were in the wallet of the local and state forces in the Katrina area?

Question: Do you think more of those cards were in the wallets of people under Nagin's command, or those under Blanco's command, or those under Bush's command?

And if Bush's failures were to blame for Katrina's aftermath, why not place the federal troops under Nagin's and Blanco's command?

Just trying to work through the logical disconnects here.

Posted by: Vern | September 11, 2005 12:01 AM

Sandy K,

I noticed from a few of yesterday's posts that you seemed to have 'smelled a rat' concerning 'Brownies' memo to Chertoff on the 29th.

Perhaps you might consider what Senator Trent Lott (Miss) had to say after 'Brownie' was recalled to Washington.

"He ('Brownie') was acting like a Private, not a General"

I am not a Lott fan...but those words could not have made it more clear how little actual authority he ('Brownie') seemed to have, in spite of the authority the director of FEMA is supposed to have.

Posted by: Dennis F. | September 11, 2005 12:03 AM

FROM THE DESK OF GOVERNOR HALEY BARBOUR (MS):

For Immediate Release:

The following knowlege will be crucial to any Louisiana officials seeking federal flood assistance. The key to President Bush's humanity is a good nickname. If you've got a good nickname, he'll like you.

Nicknames help him "see" or "Imprint", if you will, upon an object of empathy as human or worthy of emotion. We were always aware of this and regularly nickname all of the president's priorities for him. Terri Schiavo was "Veggie", for example. The fetus: Doughboy. He loves to call zygotes "ziggy".

Sounds silly, but after he was given those names to ponder, he went from favoring a first trimester legal threshold to banning the morning after pill. When he heard "Veggie", he actually abandoned his morning glass of Benadryl in his rush back to Washington.

Take my advice. If you want this president to see African American flood victims as lovable human folks. Start giving them catchy nicknames. For instance: a corpse in Lake Pontchartrain could be called "Floatie"

Haley "Puss Butt" Barbour--

Posted by: Haley "Puss Butt" Barbour | September 11, 2005 12:17 AM

Vern,

Anyone with military experience would know them -- they're hammered home. So Bush would have no excuse not to know them (as well as any other aid who served) -- he is also the Commander-in-Chief.

Blanco and Nagin will be handled by their own state residents, Vern. Bush HAS to accept responsibility and be accountable for his actions, as he failed his duties not only as the President, the CinC. John Q. Public elects a president who's a leader, not a stool pigeon, and demands their president to be proficient and timely in the execution of his duties.

No federal troops can be placed (under current law, and not under federal marshal law) without the invitation from the governor. S/he controls the administration of their state, not the federal government. That point isn't to be debated (and the Supremes won't agree to change the law to give such power to the State).

SandyK
P.S. -- If I don't answer I'm going to bed. Been a l-o-n-g day.

Posted by: SandyK | September 11, 2005 12:18 AM

----------------------------

"This is a complex case with serious issues," Bush said. "But in extraordinary circumstances like this, it is wise to always err on the side of life."

----------------------------

Does anyone remember when the President made that statement???

It was made on March 21st, 2005, and he was referring to the 'Terri Schiavo' Bill.


It seems kind of strange that the President would be willing to 'err on the side of life' to impose Federal jurisdiction over the due course of law in a sovereign state in order to save a single person....but for some reason wasn't willing to 'err on the side of life' when tens of thousands were in peril.

Just something for all to ponder.

Posted by: Dennis F. | September 11, 2005 12:56 AM

SandyK wrote: "And governors usually don't invite the federal agencies in until needed -- not before to anticipate a disaster."

Perhaps, but in fact this governor invited the federal gov't in before the disaster. The presidential order authorized FEMA to identify and mobilize all resources needed to minimize losses. Again, unless one wishes to say that the mayor or governor actually impeded FEMA, all those resources (including buses) were available before the storm hit land.

But, as I said, we have to bear in mind that such 'issues' are flack in the Rove-Bartlett campaign to shift blame. We know this. We don't have to pretend this stuff coming from the echo chamber represents legitimate dialogue.

Nice post to Vern.

Posted by: johnuw93 | September 11, 2005 02:44 AM

As the relieved mother of a DC native son who lost everything in New Orleans - the home he had been renovating painstakingly for a year, all tools of his trade (he is a carpenter) and his car - I think there are several lessons we must learn, if we are to turn this horrifying experience into an improved and chastened United States.

First lesson to be learned: that this experience has been both sobering and humbling to the proud United States, and that is a good thing. Maybe we can relate to other nations from a less haughty vantage point now that we have been shown to be as bumbling as the rest of the world. The Emperor has been shown to be naked. I believe that it is a fine thing that Cuba, Venezuela, France and Russia have all offered aid; I truly believe we should accept it. We may be richer, but we are neither smarter nor more prudent than the rest of the world - like everyone else, we pull on our pants one leg at a time. And we have been luckier -- at least until last week.

Second lesson to be learned: that we must not turn our back on the poor and the needy. For many years, there has been a strain in our culture that says that the poor are alien, deserving humiliation and punishment for the sin of being poor. I certainly saw that in action time and time again when I was the District's Patient Advocate for all persons in drug treatment. Now we learn that in the twinkling of an eye, we may become just as poor and needy as the beggar or addict in the street. We must make a decision to help strengthen and lift up our poor, rather than turn our backs on them. The Golden Rule still has something important to tell us; we are all in this, together, and it behooves us to act in light of that understanding. Our political leaders must finally realize that we must support the poor and give them guided access to tools that can raise them out of poverty, if we are not to have a fatally divided and morally bankrupt country.

Third lesson to be learned: that we must rethink how we provide aid in emergencies. As a District Community Emergency Response Tem (CERT) member, I have been trained to assist in emergencies here as a citizen first responder, under the assumption that federal and municipal authorities may not be able to help our residents for several days in a severe emergency. The training is excellent, and free. If more people were trained as CERT volunteers, we would be much better prepared to work through the next major emergency with less loss of life. CERT is a national program, part of the Citizens Corps program and may be reached here by calling 202-727-7925.

( Incidentally, one thing I learned from disaster drills here in the city that doesn't seem to have been learned nationally is that a significant portion of persons who need to be evacuated will not do so under almost any scenario if they can't take their pets with them. Why wasn't this taken into account by people engaged in disaster planning? )

Fourth lesson to be learned: Helping disaster victims shouldn't be a disaster itself - the various programs helping refugees need better coordination and better communications.

To make this point clear, let me share with you what my son has been going through right here trying to get help for his total Katrina wipeout. The first time he went to the DC Armory, where the refugees who had been bused to DC are housed and serviced, DC officials barred him from entry. They told him - a New Orleans resident temporarily staying at his parent's house - that he might be a New Orleans refugee who had lost everything, but he wasn't one of "their" refugees. When he protested that he was every bit as much a Katrina refugee as the folks being housed in the Armory, he was told to leave and go way across town (40 blocks) to the National Red Cross Building for help. He got a Red Cross clothing credit card there, but the Red Cross told him for anything else, he'd have to go back to the Armory, where FEMA is currently located.

So back to the Armory he went the next day. He didn't get in. This time, they told him he had to go to the DC EMA office 15 blocks away. Wrong. DC EMA was efficient and informative, but said he had to go back to the Armory.

He went back to the Armory and still didn't get in to talk to the FEMA people. He then got interviewed on TV about how screwed up the process is. He was eloquent, but gentle. (The Armory folk are lucky.)

Back to the Armory yet again. This time, they let him in, but couldn't help him because the FEMA computers crashed. And crashed again. So nothing got done. Ditto the next day. Nothing got done then, either. In all FEMA computers crashed four times.

Yesterday, he finally got registered with FEMA. Helping disaster victims shouldn't be like going through the outer stages of Hell. The disaster relief people need to work on coordination, effective communications and thinking outside the box big time. Otherwise, victims will not seek the help they need and are entitled to, or they will get angry and possibly violent after they reach their boiling point. Neither case is desirable.

Fourth lesson to be learned; Americans can be wonderful people. So many are reaching their hand out to help strangers. I cannot imagine another country where people would offer, in such great numbers, to take in strangers for a long period of time. MoveOn.com is just one example of a website where thousands of people are offering to open up their homes to strangers. Many more such websites springing up right and left (no pun intended!). It is absolutely awe-inspiring to read the generous offers of help, help coming from those not much better off than the refugees as well as from persons higher up on the economic ladder. There is a wellspring of goodness in our people that should not be forgotten or marginalized, but encouraged.

Finally, it's already late now, but I still think this country needs a National Day of Prayer in commemoration of New Orleans and its people. Given Bush's claims to be a religious man, I don't know why he has not done this. Just as Thanksgiving gives us a national means of expressing our gratitude for our blessings, a National Day of Prayer would do much to heal rifts and bind us closer together. That may sound funny as I am a Quaker who worships out of silence, but now is the time for those of faith to come together in mingled sorrow, joy and resolve.

Posted by: smeehan | September 11, 2005 07:36 AM

I caught a few minutes of Fox News this morning...FOX NEWS.. and these guys were saying that the press should have been reporting on the fact that Bush was filling agencies like FEMA with hacks and cronies... but they didn't because they've been too busy "reporting on missing blondes in Aruba". One of them actually said something to the effect of maybe if a reporter had done this type of investigation that person would have been labelled unpatriotic. DUH! Do these fools watch their own channel? Anyone who so much as tries to say anything remotely negative about Bush or his minions is worse than a traitor...they are LIBERALS! And now FOX NEWS has people saying that reporters should report the TRUTH and INVESTIGATE what the government is doing for real. Rats off a sinking ship anyone? One can only hope this catastrophe will actually spur the type of reporting that the Post used to be known for without fear of reporters being thrown in jail (she's still there).

Posted by: hansab1 | September 11, 2005 08:14 AM

First lesson to be learned: that this experience has been both sobering and humbling to the proud United States, and that is a good thing. Maybe we can relate to other nations from a less haughty vantage point now that we have been shown to be as bumbling as the rest of the world. The Emperor has been shown to be naked... For many years, there has been a strain in our culture that says that the poor are alien, deserving humiliation and punishment for the sin of being poor.

Smeehan, great post and good luck to you!

Posted by: | September 11, 2005 08:16 AM

We no longer have a government, by the people, for the people, but a government of the rich and powerful for the rich and the powerful!


Hurricane Katrina exposed our countries lack of preparedness to respond to a major terrorist attack! But perhaps equally important it exposed the deep structure flaws in our society. When we have Americans citizens looting, torching, raping and killing innocent people in times of a national tragic, then we have deep problems in our society!

You would think it would be obvious that an long range plan needs to be developed and probably billions of dollars necessary to begin addressing these problems. Maybe it is time that the politicians of both parties at all levels are ask hard questions why they chose to spend our limited resources in the amount of 10,s of billions of dollars on people in this country illegally! It should be obvious to both politic parties and all our citizens that those billions could best serve the needs of American citizens and help address the very real problems exposed in our society by the hurricane!

The politicians of both parties and the administration are once again proving their polices are designed to help the rich and powerful and the politicians at the expense of the middle class and poor American citizens of this country. In August it was reported another 1.1 millions of Americans slipped into poverty. Company after company is cutting or eliminating health benefits. State after State is cutting back on Medicaid and the federal government is cutting Medicare, this combination is condemning more millions of Americans citizens to premature death and untold suffering!

It is both Ethically and Morally wrong to spend billions of tax payers dollars on people here illegally at the expense of poor American citizens! The Democrat party is as guilty as the Republican party in the looting of tax dollars to serve the special interest with nearly slave labor at the expense of American citizens!

The policy on Illegal Aliens in this country is diverting billions of dollars from tax paying, law bidding, Americans who fought our wars and built this country. Just taking the very low end & vastly understated both in cost per and number here. Ten million here illegally at an cost of 7800.00 for each one equals 78,000,000,000. While this number is vastly understated it would still by rights and just plain human compassion should be spent on our own poor citizens.

Illegal aliens have no allegiance to this country and the only gratitude they have is political corruption in this country benefits them, unlike corruption in Latin American. Most are more knowledgeable and more dedicated to getting benefits from the American Government at all levels than American citizens.

Most of our public officials at all levels seem to have forgotten they were elected by American people to serve the American people and enforce our laws. They were not elected in Latin American to serve illegal aliens in this country. We have 45 million American without any health insurance and increasing daily. We cannot afford decent, timely medical care for our veterans and million of our old people cannot afford their required medicine and food and are forced live on animal food and/or go hungry. We have millions of American children living in poverty without a chance at the American dream. We have hundreds of billions of dollars in deficit spending. In short, we have millions of American citizens in dire need of the necessities of life. When those needs are taken care then & only then will our devious, self serving, corrupt, politicians pretending to be acting out of compassion, have extremely weak justification for spending billions of tax dollars on citizens from other counties here illegally! They have no possible justification when so many millions of Americans citizens have so little and need so much!

The real problem is politicians spending our tax money on poor American citizens does not result in big donations from the special interest that are profiteering from subsidized illegal labor.

The president is doing great harm to our country and risking thousand of American lives in an attempt to gain Latino votes and more importantly the money donated from grateful business that his policies provide with a unending supply of nearly slave labor subsidized by taxpayers! To this end he is putting his quest for money and votes above the law, the constitution and his oath to preserve and protect the American people. There was no excuse for our policy on illegal aliens prior to 9/11 but after 9/11 his policies that allow 100's of thousands of illegal aliens to pour across our open borders makes a lie out of his often professed concern with terrorism and protecting the American public. To me and I hope many other concerned Americans he should be impeached for dereliction of duty! If we have innocent men, women, and children killed by terrorist that crossed our open borders their blood will be on his hands and other like minded politicians. The next time they can't plead they didn't know and wasn't warned! They can't deny and put their spin Doctors on TV to lie their way out of their responsibility for the mutation and the tragic lost of life. So I hope he and they will be held accountable for their crimes then and forever in history.

The argument used by business and the politicians serving them that we need millions of illegal aliens and a vast guest worker program to work at jobs that American won't take is greatly overstated! If Americans were paid a livable wage there would be law bidding, taxpaying, Americans citizens to fill most of those jobs. Most businesses could pay a livable wage, but as we have seem numerous times, many if not most, business and company officials have unlimited greed and using nearly slave labor, wherever possible, subsidized by the taxpayers means more profits and bigger salaries to serve their greed. It also means more money available to donate to political parties and candidates. A good example of this is the construction business. Tens of thousands of American that were lower middle class have lost their jobs and/or slipped into poverty because they cannot compete with illegal aliens or must accept illegal aliens wages.
Has anyone noticed the price of homes declining? For the businesses that must rely on illegal aliens, subsidized by taxpayers, to make a profit, should they really be in business? If so, then the South may really raise again on the backs of Latino slave labor subsidized by taxpayers!

While Americans are a compassion, generous people rewarding illegal behavior with billons of taxpayers dollars only results in providing incentive for more illegal aliens to take advantage of our political corruption and misplaced compassion. Thereby creating a vicious circle with more illegal aliens here, more money required for them, more crime, more lowing of our living standards, and less money and less concern by politicians to service the very real needs of our own American citizens.

Recently the Democrat Governor of New Mexico was on national news explaining why he released funds to help parole New Mexico borders because they were being over run with illegal aliens and crime. But on the same show he explained how compassioned he was to illegal aliens, providing driver license, tuition and medical benefits etc. Can anyone, be so oblivious to the obvious, that they do not realize rewarding illegal behavior begets more illegal behavior? If so, they must have been enrolled in the same school as our President to teach them remedial breathing! I am sure New Mexico has many Americans citizens sick and living in poverty that need help! The Governor could have used tax money to help citizens of his State to show what a fine compassion man he is instead of foreigners here illegally! But he, like most politicians, have in fact, chosen to ignore the law, and the despair and needs of the people that elected him. Rewarding, illegal aliens, for breaking our laws, assure them of an unlimited supply for now and the future. Thereby serving the needs of the special interest with illegal labor and letting politicians pick up fat checks donated from grateful businesses, while letting the taxpayers pick up the billions of dollars in cost for their benefits.

In just one place around Nogales, Ariz. more than 490,000 people were caught last year trying to entering the United States illegally. Only a small percentage crossing our borders are caught but of the 490,000 caught 7 out of every 50 or 14% had criminal records and that is only the ones caught in crimes before and with incomplete records! No doubt with complete records and the larger percentage of ones that have committed crimes but never caught the percentage would be much, much higher. The sheer number of illegal aliens here and using the understated 14% crime rate makes the cost to our country and the pain and suffering of their victims mind boggling!

Many law enforcements officials state enforcing our laws and reporting illegal aliens will lessen cooperation from the illegal aliens community and making catching criminals harder. But the most vicious gangs that we have ever experience and that are spreading like wildfire across our States and our cities are comprised primarily of illegal aliens. Millions of American citizens living in our inner cities including Latino Americans live in fear and imprison their selves in their homes because they are afraid to go out! Without millions of illegal aliens in this country there would be much less crime to worry about and enforcement thereby saving billions of dollars in law enforcement cost alone!

Mexico has always been and remains a poor, weak, corrupt, hostile government on our borders! Both the Government and most of the Mexican citizens have an intense dislike for the USA and our people. If anyone would like to verify this then they should visit the interior of Mexico, not Cancun and similar places where they are paid to pretend to like us. I think most would find they would be treated very badly by both officials of the Mexican government and the Mexican people. In fact, if you escape with your life you will be lucky, if you escape with both your life and your money you are blessed!

Mexico's main exports are drugs, illegal aliens & corruption! The number two source of income for Mexico is money send back by illegal workers in the USA. They have a unstated government policy to export their poverty to the USA thereby lessen the pressure to clean up the government corruption so they could provide a decent standard of living for their people.

Our governments failure to control our borders or take action to export illegal aliens already here has resulted in millions of illegal aliens in this county and is risking thousands if not millions of American lives to terrorism, corrupting our politicians even more, increasing poverty, convinced many citizens that we are not an nation of laws, costing tax payers billions of dollars, and robbing our own citizens of needed benefits, and will in time turn this country into a third world county like Latin American.

We have millions of Latino-American citizens and our government policy on illegal aliens and billions of dollars spend on benefits for illegal aliens are hurting them the same as all Americans. Additionally, we have thousands of Latino-Americans citizens serving this country in Iraq and around the world putting their lives on the line each and every day for this country and our people and our way of life. Each and every one of those Latino-Americans citizens are better Americans than most and worth much more then the self serving elected officials in this country that are subservience to the special interest of the rich and powerful!

The one politician, John McCain, that many thought and hoped was different and put duty, honor, country, and the rule of law above, politics, party, and the special interests, has now apparently given up and sold out to the special interest as well! It is especially difficult to acknowledge what happened to John McCain after his prior service to this country in Vietnam. But he has finally realized the First Rule of every successful politician in the USA. They must never put either their Country or American citizens interest above or before their own interest and their political future. Of course, as expressed by the politicians, there is not enough money for everything and they that must make the tough choices, that is what they were elected to do. Very true, and what Mr. McCain and other politicians have chosen to do is put their political interest, and the interest of millions of illegal aliens here above our laws and above the interest and welfare of the greater number of poor American citizens that desperately need the billions of dollars in benefits that is currently provided to citizens of other countries here illegally!

I would urge all American citizens to immediately take one of the two following actions:

1. For all those citizens who think our illegal aliens policy is a fine, fair, just, compassion policy, then contact your State and other elected officials and demand the same laws be passed for American citizens. For American citizens that attempt to cross a State border and caught, then they should be treated humanly, served refreshments and transported back to their home State at government expense. For the ones that successfully make it 20 miles across a State border than they should be meet by local officials, congratulated, and gave a yearly bonus by the government of at least 7800.00 dollars. Furthermore, no State shall be allowed to provide more than 25% of the resources required to monitor and control their borders.

2. For the American citizens who think our illegal alien policy is totally insane and supported by corrupt, self serving politicians subservient to the special interest, then contact your State officials and demand that we immediately close our borders to illegal aliens and terrorist. In addition, demand there be no rewards of tax money or benefits be spend on illegal aliens breaking our laws. Give the millions of Illegal Aliens in this country 180 days to leave with their processions. Ones remaining here after the allotted time will be rounded up and forfeit there processions to offset the expense of apprehending them and cost of sending them back to their home counties.

Posted by: bill Lowe | September 11, 2005 09:52 AM

I think, as a Canadian, that Americans have allowed themselves to become so intoxicated with the dual notions of individualism and "the pursuit of happiness" at virtually all costs, that they have, in general, lost sight of what makes a great and successful society.
There must be a balance between free enterprise and guardianship. Government, police and investigative journalists are not the enemy, they are and should be the check against madness.
For a country to thrive and succeed on all levels, corporations must be allowed to operate with "relative" freedom to pursue profits. But corporations in their pursuit of profits cannot be expected to operate for the greater good. Their pursuit of profit conflicts them.
The great fallacy of the Bush neo-con revolution is that government should operate like a business. The fact is, and the rising deficit is proof of this, is that when government operates like a business, government is destroyed. Their is little sense of guardianship and, as New Orleans, has shown, civilized society is destroyed, and people can die.

Posted by: Paul Palango | September 11, 2005 10:55 AM

Goodmorning all.

Just got off of MSN and they have WP's expose on what went wrong in the whole Katrina mess.

But one thing is missing in it all, that could've caused 100,000 folks themselves to feel complacent, and less likely to leave.

What was occurring (especially during landfall) especially from CNN, Fox News and The Weather Channel?

We had reporters being rather STUPID, reporting IN the weather as the winds and rain pelted the region.

Fox News really should be ashamed of themselves with one reporter. As the winds were beating down beach sand, he could barely see. The public emailed Fox News about the guy to wear goggles, and he seemed to refuse for the most part -- stubbornly trying to show folks he could stand up in the gusts, blowing sand, and heavy rain. And mouthing off something that he was no meterologist (like he was a tougher sort -- probably saw enough Vonage ads online).

Anderson Cooper was no better. Same goes for The Weather Channel reporters who defy logic to report from a Category 5 to 4 storm -- LIVE.

Their boldness transcends to ordinary folks as "it's not so bad, see?" Unlike in the Hurricane Hugo disaster, or even Andrew, there wasn't any LIVE reporter out there trying to literally FLY with the hurricane before the cameras. There wasn't any credible source for anyone to show that "Yeah, I can handle the storm too". That has changed in the last few years, with news networks sending out fleets of reporters to cover the doom and gloom live in our living rooms.

It makes good "copy", the ratings soar, there's a lot of misery and feel good stories for weeks to fill up cable's 24/7 time slots. It's pays royally for them -- so much so the networks didn't pull the ads while we watched in horror of thousands dehydrating and going hungry, in this country of milk and honey. ***Why would I care about some food or car ad, while those folks had neither. You can actually hurt your advertizers by airing such ads as it's insensitive??!!***

The news networks failed the American public too. They apparently didn't WANT to foresee the future (people have been complaining about those live reporters, as they're going to get killed -- OR ENCOURAGE OTHERS WITH THEIR STUNTS).

Now we have even more dead than when Hurricane Andrew literally tore through Florida (which was a true Category 5 that made landfall). Not in one state, all three. And it could well be because of reporters standing in the midst of the hurricane, giving BLOW by BLOW live coverage.

Did they bother to think that the population that is most at risk, is the population that takes the most risks? The population that "manhood" is to face challenges, like the kids who would try to be like those reporters, trying to flying in the same gusts (and the reporters seem to snicker and call them crazy, when they themselves are out there reporting in it).

Do those same reporters goto Iraq, put on a flak jacket, then try to ride out a firestorm of bullets, giving a blow by blow HITTING coverage? No. So why do those news organizations think it's okay to report during the hurricane right smack in the middle of it live? Less risky to them?

Now do they understand the misconceptions they could've portrayed to the residents out there, and even on up to the White House that it wasn't all bad?

In this rush to fingerpoint and blame someone, those reporters out there during the hurricane have to shoulder some themselves (and moreso their producers who thought it'll be better "copy"). The public and the police didn't need them to hold their mikes in 90mph wind, encouraging the population to watch from the very same homes that needed to be evacuated.

So in this aftermath CNN, Fox News, and The Weather Channel and other stations (some were smart before and flat out told the national stations they were crazy to report the hurricanes live -- GOOD FOR THEM) -- no more blow by blow live hurricane coverage. Give the population the stats, the radar, the news of what areas are flooded, where the electricity is down, instead. We all don't want to know of Anderson Cooper getting his head sliced off from a flying piece of aluminum sheeting, nor knowing that Fox News reporter goes blind for his zest to be Superman.

In this type of dire case -- report the news, not become it. It gives a false impression to the very community that needs to not be watching, but bugging out with their lives.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 11, 2005 11:10 AM

Seeems like America's historical tradition of rugged individualism is just plain dysfunctional in the 21st century. I come out of this disgraceful disaster response thinking: What would the Japanese do? They would have a block captain on every block or apartment building floor. These people would have the names and phone numbers of all of their assigned residents. They would be assigned a contact person in emergency services. There would be a bus assigned to come to each block. There would be shelters already stocked and designated to take in busloads by neighborhood. Shelters would have police and medical people in them. And lastly, the Japanese would practice this whole evacuation process - maybe even once or twice a year.

Posted by: C. Richardson | September 11, 2005 11:16 AM

Japan had it's own problems as well. The aftermath of the Kobe earthquake was their Hurricane Andrew wakeup call. The same problems of no leadership (their own Mafia [yes the crime organiztion] came in with blankets and supplies to help the people [which traditionally, and ironically, their job]), roads were out, and the population angry that there was no services to help them.

They had camera shots of tangerines laid out in little pyramids on those blocks (indicating where someone died).

No country is free of failed leadership, poor communications, and flat out poor timing. While other countries snicker now at us, we've seen the bungling in their countries over the decades as well. From the royal screwups of nuclear meltdowns; to not thinking that dumping tons of mercury in the water as sludge wouldn't affect their own citizens.

Block captains, more money, and armies won't stop a disaster, it can only help afterwards.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 11, 2005 11:36 AM

I think that the comments here show clearly why this country keeps failing in major ways.

Instead of a clear examination of the facts, vigorous research, and reasoned discourse we have a bunch of people who think political discussion is a form of psychological therapy -- in which they get to support "their team" and hurl invective at the opposition untrammeled by any need to connect with reality. It doesn't really matter if the team is "for Bush" or "against Bush"

This is why politicians of both parties can feel secure as they steal $Trillions from us. They know that, in spite of $Billions spent on public education, their "constituents" are still the most ignorant and stupid people on the planet.

Posted by: Don Williams | September 11, 2005 11:54 AM

As soon as the "facts" are collected folks will debate them -- that's how we know if they're facts or not. That's how science/medicine finds out IF XYZ is XYZ and not ABC, as well.

Partisanship serves a purpose. They're there to knock folks out of their smugness, to see another view. Neither are always right or wrong, but to only have one view (enforced by who?) makes collecting and accepting facts impossible.

That said, blind partisanship serves no one any good. The "BUSH MUST RESIGN!!" and the "IT'S THE VICTIM'S FAULT!!" rhetoric adds nothing to collecting and verifying facts. It's what causes the bitterness, the blowouts, the put downs and other crap that prevents logical, and honest, discourse to get those facts or even want too.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 11, 2005 12:06 PM

Here in Sweden we ask ourselves: Is the obvious US paralyzation a result of some bureaucratic quagmire arising from the fact that "there's a strict seperation of state and federal powers"? Example: Directly after the catastrope the Swedish Rescue Authorities understood that what would first be needed was drinking water. So they ordered a Hercules plane from the Swedish Air Force. The plane was immediately delivered to Landvetter Airport (by Gothenburg) where it was loaded with two enormous water purification plants. Then they found out (all by themelves) where it was possible to land as near as possible to New Orleans, how and where to transport those water plants to the nearest large source of water (contaminated), how and where to place the necessary pipelines and so forth, all without any support from the USA. STILL TODAY the Hercules is at Landvetter Airport, ready for immediate take-off, but it is impossible to get a permission to enter US air territory!

Posted by: The Swede | September 11, 2005 12:49 PM

Lessons:
1. All our political blather, expenditures, and promises have not made us safer from any sort of disaster.

2. Katrina tells us what to expect from natural and man-made disasters.

3. The poor we have always with us -- especially if we really never try to do anything about the problem.

Posted by: norman | September 11, 2005 01:13 PM

Here's something else to think about who's to blame (and to kill off the blame solely on Blanco and Nagin, based on FACTS).

When did Mississippi affected areas finally get their aid? Some areas that were hit, are now only getting supplies. Some went a week without.

Ask yourself, did Mississippi's town mayors and Governor did enough? Their residents rode out the storm, and the officials didn't enforce the evacuations themselves.

Then also ask, where's FEMA for them? Why didn't they have supplies to ship out to them?

We created another layer of government with the DHS, in hopes it'll respond better to disasters (both non natural and natural). It showed no matter what fancy commission, what new departments created, what BILLIONS spent on new offices and salaries, the same problems of getting federal/state/local officials to read off one disaster recovery plan had failed.

[See throwing money and bodies at a problem just doesn't fix it??]

That's why the population even far away as Alaska are upset with the federal government over Katrina. We allowed more agencies/positions to be created, spent billions that had to be compensated with billions slashed out of state Medicaid funds, and Katrina came to show nothing has changed since 9/11.

You don't even need to be a partisan to hate the Bush Administration today. All you have to do is look at the increase in government size and payroll; your state's budget to help the needy cut because of it; and to watch on TV your country's own (which one day maybe yourself) dehydrate and starve on national TV.

[It hands the Timothy McVeighs in this country a blank check. It gives the Waco and Ruby Ridge folks a rally cry of -- "We told you that the federal government is bad!!" Is anyone going to claim they're warning is wrong now -- truthfully?]

With Mississippi's lack of aid, it's showing even more clearer that it can't just be a local problem. FEMA and the other helpers who get the supplies rolling, delayed because they weren't on 24/7 standy readiness (remember this occurred over the Labor Day weekend, and when the president -- who has taken more vacations than ANY on record -- was hiding from Cindy Sheehan on his dude ranch). They also had to wait for someone even higher up than Brown at FEMA to okay the calvary charge.

So folks, Blanco and Nagin aren't stellar leaders, but they had nothing to do with Mississippi not getting their aid. That shows that DHS/FEMA royally dropped the ball, and the blame gets kicked up to Washington because "it ain't just a local problem".

Interstate failure is a federal problem. And one that only the federal government can correct -- they wouldn't want the citizens to correct it with pitchfolks now will they?

[Dems over time you're going to learn why so many people in this country don't like more government, be it the bozos on your country commission; the bozos who employ their entire families in your state at your expense. They can do some bad things, and Katrina can show by how much].

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 11, 2005 01:22 PM

"As soon as the "facts" are collected folks will debate them -- that's how we know if they're facts or not"
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Posted by: | September 11, 2005 01:39 PM

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