Vote Blue? No help for you!
September 3, 2005 2:53 PM   Subscribe

The Red Cross has been ordered to stay out of New Orleans. Critical firefighting equipment is being left untouched. Chicago's offer of manpower and equipment is "snubbed" by FEMA, according to the Mayor. FEMA "forgets" to tell the military to airdrop food and water to the survivors. Northern Command has been ready for days, just waiting for the President to give the orders. Feds delayed paperwork giving permission for National Guard to act. Louisiana begged for federal help on Sunday in a formal request, but the Bush administration says they didn't know anything about problems until Wednesday. Meanwhile, reporters apparently grow weary of the spin doctors.
posted by dejah420 (186 comments total)

 
What it means to miss New Orleans, at the New York Times... a nice list of nice things about the town.
posted by nervousfritz at 2:57 PM on September 3, 2005


Excellent post, thank you.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 2:59 PM on September 3, 2005


Is there any indication when the DHS asked the Red Cross to stay out of NOLA? Because it seems somewhat negligent to ask a dedicated relief organisaiton to stay away whilst staying away yourself (until, of course, today).
posted by jmgorman at 3:05 PM on September 3, 2005


The solution to this bureacratic mess would be to consolidate all of these different agencies into one cohesive branch of government which would be called simply the Department of Homeland Security... oh wait...
posted by StarForce5 at 3:06 PM on September 3, 2005


Reading through all those again, it seems to me that the problem is, in part, due to the new role of FEMA as subordinate to the Department of Homeland Security. Organisations (see the Chicago and airdrop links) are contacting FEMA to offer help, but FEMA is no longer in the position to make those decisions as the DHS is running the show. Therefore nothing gets done and lots of people are pissed that they cannot help.
posted by jmgorman at 3:10 PM on September 3, 2005


we've needed a roundup--thanks, dejah.

just appalling incompetence on every level, and people are still trapped and dying--6 days later.
posted by amberglow at 3:11 PM on September 3, 2005


What it means to miss New Orleans, at the New York Times... a nice list of nice things about the town.
posted by nervousfritz


Thanks so much for that link. I have no idea how they limited the list to 22, but it's nice to see something a little positive. Looks like the french quarter and garden district are going to be fine.
posted by justgary at 3:16 PM on September 3, 2005


and even now, FEMA's spinning on CNN. Disgusting.
posted by amberglow at 3:17 PM on September 3, 2005


Wait for it...It's bound to come....

"Don't politicize this disaster."

"Bush basher."

"This administration isn't to blame for everything that goes wrong in this country."

"They have to take some responsibility for themselves. If they would have evacuated when they were told to, they wouldn't be in this position."

Did I leave anything out?
posted by leftcoastbob at 3:17 PM on September 3, 2005


DHS probably spent its billions on mission statements, corporate logos, powerpoint monkeys and consultants, and fancy executive bathroom fittings. They probably figured they would not have their bluff called. The whole organization should be cleared out from the top down.

leftcoastbob - "They turned into looters and made it too dangerous to go and help them."
posted by carter at 3:20 PM on September 3, 2005


yup--the "rampant lawlessness" (bullshit) preventing food and water getting in.

and, as the FEMA ass just said on tv (completely lying), they have to wait to be asked by state and local officials before they can do anything.
posted by amberglow at 3:21 PM on September 3, 2005


You could probably add:

A: We had to be asked by B.
B: We had to be asked by C.
C: We had to be asked by A.
posted by carter at 3:23 PM on September 3, 2005


... This is not mere incompetence, but dereliction of duty. The press should call it by its proper name.
posted by amberglow at 3:24 PM on September 3, 2005


Fuck the DHS
posted by angry modem at 3:27 PM on September 3, 2005


dereliction of duty indeed.
posted by zpousman at 3:29 PM on September 3, 2005


Good to see that the U.S. press has finally had enough. I only hope that they continue.
posted by leftcoastbob at 3:31 PM on September 3, 2005


"It's not MY fault!"
posted by caddis at 3:34 PM on September 3, 2005


I can't think of a disaster that has been this badly mismanaged. It is clear that FEMA cannot be counted on, and states should review their disaster plans accordingly.

Spread the word.
posted by ilsa at 3:45 PM on September 3, 2005


This was just on boingboing. According to the Army Times:
Troops begin combat operations in New Orleans
By Joseph R. Chenelly
Times staff writer
NEW ORLEANS — Combat operations are underway on the streets “to take this city back” in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

“This place is going to look like Little Somalia,” Brig. Gen. Gary Jones, commander of the Louisiana National Guard’s Joint Task Force told Army Times Friday as hundreds of armed troops under his charge prepared to launch a massive citywide security mission from a staging area outside the Louisiana Superdome. “We’re going to go out and take this city back. This will be a combat operation to get this city under control.”
Further down, they refer to the NO 'insurgency.'
posted by carter at 3:46 PM on September 3, 2005


leftcoastbob, you left out "It was a bumpy couple of days, but now things are getting better". I heard that brazen trivialization this morning on CNN.
posted by Invoke at 3:49 PM on September 3, 2005


FEMA even stopped regular people who banded together with their boats to come and rescue people themselves, as they still weren't doing their job.
posted by amberglow at 3:50 PM on September 3, 2005


It's just not sexy enough for the freepers to help until there's some brown ass to kick and subdue.
posted by jsavimbi at 3:51 PM on September 3, 2005


Did I leave anything out?
posted by leftcoastbob at 6:17 PM EST on September 3 [!]


You left out, "The people of Metafilter should be ashamed of themselves."
posted by Rothko at 3:53 PM on September 3, 2005


So, I have a question, the Deputy Director of FEMA was just on CNN. He said that they were not asked for FEMA assistance. Doesn't the memo dated August 28 directly contradict him?

I guess that there's a possible argument that the Gov. asked only (mostly?) for debris removal and not, say, particularly for rescue operations. But it's pretty clear that the Gov asked directly for help...
posted by zpousman at 3:55 PM on September 3, 2005


"But perhaps the greatest disappointment stands at the breached 17th Street levee. Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment. The good and decent people of southeast Louisiana and the Gulf Coast - black and white, rich and poor, young and old - deserve far better from their national government," Senator Mary Landreiu [D, LA]
posted by docgonzo at 4:02 PM on September 3, 2005


I used to think I knew how FEMA operated but after DHS came into the picture I lost all understanding. Does FEMA still require executive authorization from the President to begin doing anything? If so, when exactly did Bush authorize FEMA to begin action?
posted by TwelveTwo at 4:05 PM on September 3, 2005


Bush faked levee repair for photo op yesterday
posted by amberglow at 4:06 PM on September 3, 2005


zpous, they've been lying all along. They were pleaded with, let alone asked, and it's not necessary anyway: "In the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency, the Department of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility...for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation. This will entail providing a coordinated, comprehensive federal response to any large-scale crisis and mounting a swift and effective recovery effort."
posted by amberglow at 4:12 PM on September 3, 2005


I bet Mary Landrieu won't be issuing many more syrupy thanks to the president the next time Anderson Cooper asks her how the goddamn relief efforts are going.
posted by scody at 4:12 PM on September 3, 2005


Just for reference (and regretful reading) Here's the Presidential directive describing how the DHS is supposed to function in a national disaster.
posted by Miko at 4:12 PM on September 3, 2005


There was a striking dicrepancy between the CNN International report on the Bush visit to the New Orleans disaster zone, yesterday, and reports of the same event by German TV.

ZDF News reported that the president's visit was a completely staged event. Their crew witnessed how the open air food distribution point Bush visited in front of the cameras was torn down immediately after the president and the herd of 'news people' had left and that others which were allegedly being set up were abandoned at the same time.

The people in the area were once again left to fend for themselves, said ZDF.
--from here--is this true????
posted by amberglow at 4:16 PM on September 3, 2005


amberglow, you've been kicking serious ass the past coupla days!
posted by Toecutter at 4:18 PM on September 3, 2005


Holy shit, Carter. Combat Ops on our own soil.

And yes, just so some of you can start the name-calling again, I do blame the Bush Admin for this. This should never have gotten to this point.

Incredible.
posted by leftcoastbob at 4:19 PM on September 3, 2005


Why would a food distribution point be built-up and then torn down? I mean, built-up for the presidential visit--sure, I can understand that. But why spend valuable time tearing it down afterword? If this is true, it would appear that Bush's war on poverty has officially begun.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:22 PM on September 3, 2005


Trent Lott is really quite happy with the way things are going...

"I am pleased with the federal government's response...this is not a time for complaining...I am really shocked at the comments that are coming."

I klan hardly guess why that would be...
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:24 PM on September 3, 2005


you know, each day i think i reach my limit on disgust and anger and horror and sadness, and i see another link to yet another evil thing. this is too much--they have to be removed from power.
posted by amberglow at 4:25 PM on September 3, 2005


I've been trying to keep up with these threads. No doubt these questions would be more appropriate in some other one, but here goes.

Where's the right place to read about the power struggle evidently going on between Nagin and... FEMA? The state? I'm not sure who. Who asked Nagin to turn control of the city over to them? Why? Which of the delays have been brinksmanship ploys by that agency to pressure Nagin further? Did this request come before his famous interview on CNN? Is that (one reason) why he was so frustrated?

Actually, what I found really notable in that interview was his restraint in not specifically naming the people who were pissing him off.
posted by Aknaton at 4:27 PM on September 3, 2005


Damnation by the Numbers--... Homeland Security Michael Chertoff says Coast Guard has rescued 9,500 people in areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and humanitarian aid has gone to 100,000 people.

Now I know the Bush Administration people are really really dumb and Chertoff is trying desperately to spin how they are doing the best that they can, but this is really amazing. It's amazing that they're so dumb that they'll actually admit how little they've done. To put it in perspective, the population of New Orleans' greater metropolitan area alone in 2003 was 1.3 million. ...

posted by amberglow at 4:30 PM on September 3, 2005


Background articles on Iraq war & New Orleans crisis: A perfectly avoidable catastrophe
posted by amberglow at 4:32 PM on September 3, 2005


For what it's worth, I just saw a talk by Alphonso Jackson (US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development) on the topic of Katrina, here at Washington University. It was very short, and he didn't take questions at the end. He focused on the people who have been displaced by the hurricaine, and made no mention about the situation in New Orleans now.

I quote (and if I don't remember this precicely, I should have the gist of it right), "My task is simple. Once the flood waters go down, I must help the people who have been displaced find housing."
posted by obvious at 4:33 PM on September 3, 2005


docgonzo, what's your source for Senator Mary Landrieu's statement?
posted by zerokey at 4:38 PM on September 3, 2005


Actually, the Red Cross being asked to leave NO sounds sensible and gives me a tiny bit of hope that things are shaping up management-wise. According to the link in the FPP, FEMA asked them to leave because their "presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city." The Red Cross's comptency is pretty much limited to providing food and shelter; they're not able to do search and rescue, etc., so at this point they're probably of best use helping the already evacuated refugees in Houston and elsewhere.

Now what I don't understand is why they aren't getting started on building barracks or tent cities for the refugees...they can't stay in the Astrodome forever.
posted by footnote at 4:39 PM on September 3, 2005


amberglow: The people in the area were once again left to fend for themselves, said ZDF.--from here--is this true????

"[German] ARD correspondent Christine Adelhardt, who witnessed Bush's visit to Biloxi, was shocked about the extent to which the event was staged. The President brought with him vehicles to cut though the debris and people supposed to search for bodies, which Biloxi had been waiting for for days. But they didn't actually go to work where victims were waiting, but only served as telegenic background props in remote areas of the town, she explained. On Monday, Bush wants to make another visit to the affected states."
(taken from here, quick and dirty translation by me)
posted by mumble at 4:39 PM on September 3, 2005



posted by delmoi at 4:41 PM on September 3, 2005


thanks, mumble--just evil. it's evil.
posted by amberglow at 4:42 PM on September 3, 2005


footnote, they never were allowed IN, let alone being let out.
posted by amberglow at 4:43 PM on September 3, 2005


zerokey - Landrieu statement.
posted by carter at 4:45 PM on September 3, 2005


Damn, amberglow, you're on FIRE! Are you posting all these to your blog? And no, that's not a veiled GYOBFW exhoration!
posted by scody at 4:46 PM on September 3, 2005


FEMA even stopped regular people who banded together with their boats to come and rescue people themselves, as they still weren't doing their job.

I posted this elsewhere, but I thought it might apply again in this thread. Dozens of boats made it into the water, but were asked to go home after an apparent boat jacking. Here is video shot from one of those boats showing the destruction.
posted by Alison at 4:47 PM on September 3, 2005


Thank you, carter.
posted by zerokey at 4:48 PM on September 3, 2005


Billmon has a (typically) excellent post that fits well with the title of this thread, detailing how much aid Florida got and how quickly. Sucks to get hit with a disaster in an odd-numbered year. His quote from last year:
Gov. Jeb Bush sought federal help Friday while [Hurricane] Charley was still in the Gulf of Mexico. President Bush approved the aid about an hour after the hurricane made landfall.

By Monday afternoon, the cavalry seemed to be in place . . . Cargo planes were shuttling FEMA supplies from a Georgia Air Force base to a staging area in Lakeland, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had shipped 11 truckloads of water and 14 truckloads of ice. The first assistance checks to victims were to be shipped Monday night.
posted by Aknaton at 4:48 PM on September 3, 2005


To put it in perspective, the population of New Orleans' greater metropolitan area alone in 2003 was 1.3 million. ...

The numbers thing is worrying. Assuming that 30-40k people made it to the Superdome/Convention Center/CBD, and 20% of the 1m population stayed behind, that leaves 100k+ unaccounted for in NO. Or am I missing something? I'm assuming that all survivors have made it to NO downtown by now. Are there any numbers anywhere for those that have?
posted by carter at 4:50 PM on September 3, 2005


The numbers thing is very worrying.
posted by TwelveTwo at 4:51 PM on September 3, 2005


What it means to miss New Orleans, at the New York Times... a nice list of nice things about the town.
posted by nervousfritz


Thanks nervousfritz. Thankfully the FQ is still there to possibly supply a core to rebuild around.

I hope all the concerns for the needy people of New Orleans are still around six months or two years from now when their plight doesn't provide a convenient reason to attack the evil Republicans (and they may be evil). I'm a little raw right now but many comments seem more about taking shots at the administration that about a true concern for the underclass that has taken the brunt of the situation.
posted by Carbolic at 4:53 PM on September 3, 2005


Mumbia's translation is dead-on.

Hopefully the US media will pick this up. They've finally begun to peel back the face-skin to expose the robot beneath.

They've got to keep going and expose these frauds for what they are - not leaders but cardboard cut-outs that offer the illusion of leadership; a bunch of unworthy cronies who have used their power to enrich themselves and their friends while leaving the nation - and the world - to clean up after their mess.

We will all be working to repair the damage these fools have done to this country and its reputation long after they're gone. The sooner they're gone the better.

Former head of the International Arabian Horse Association indeed.
posted by nyterrant at 4:55 PM on September 3, 2005


Sorry, mumble's translation.
posted by nyterrant at 4:56 PM on September 3, 2005


I'd also like to thank amberglow for his tireless research in the last little while-- and I have to say, you have a stronger stomach than I, sir. I think I've hit the point of numbness, myself.
posted by jokeefe at 4:56 PM on September 3, 2005


President Bush approved the aid about an hour after the hurricane made landfall.

You know, when I go on vacation, and a server crashes, I'm still expected to have a quick response time in repairing the damage, even if it's just making the calls to other admins and coordinating the effort to repair the server. On vacation, I've never had downtime of more than an hour. I would have lost my job if it were more.

The President had whole cities crash. Cities with humans. It's time to begin firing procedures.
posted by zerokey at 4:57 PM on September 3, 2005


Yes. Amberglow. You fucking rock. If I ever come to an NYC meetup I'm buying you a beer.
posted by nyterrant at 4:58 PM on September 3, 2005


I hope all the concerns for the needy people of New Orleans are still around six months or two years from now when their plight doesn't provide a convenient reason to attack the evil Republicans

Nice try at trying to paint everyone with the "Bush Bashing Opportunist!" brush -- but while it may seem unfathomable to you, plenty of us are able to be compassionate ALL THE TIME. Plenty of us do volunteer work year-round. Plenty of us routinely contribute to charity. Plenty of us are commited activists in our communities, unions, and schools. If that seems like a foreign concept to you, then it reveals much more about yourself than any snide implication you can make about those of us who dare criticize the president.
posted by scody at 5:02 PM on September 3, 2005


I can testify that scody is a very compassionate, charity-loving person in real life, too.
me, I'm just a eurocommie asshole. but she is indeed very compassionate, year round.
posted by matteo at 5:04 PM on September 3, 2005


Sorry..I'm emotional. I left out the part where I am the head of my team and am fully and directly responsible for the incompetency of that team.
posted by zerokey at 5:04 PM on September 3, 2005


Am I the only one who thinks it's not a matter of politics, it's a matter of LEADERSHIP. I don't care who is a democrat or who is a republican; I don't care what any of these people thinks of stem cells, abortions, interpretation of the constitution, states right, whatever, whatever, whatever. I just want someone to stand up and say, "This needs to be fixed, and I will fix it."

/embarrased to be an American.
posted by sdrawkcab at 5:06 PM on September 3, 2005



footnote, they never were allowed IN, let alone being let out.
posted by amberglow at 4:43 PM PST on September 3 [!]


The Red Cross itself seems to be OK with the roll it's playing, according to its web page. I am not at all trying to say that the recovery is going well; let's just not mix up the failures with the things that actually might make sense. There is plenty of other stuff here to criticize justifiably...
posted by footnote at 5:09 PM on September 3, 2005


ARD correspondent Christine Adelhardt, who witnessed Bush's visit to Biloxi, was shocked about the extent to which the event was staged

Hopefully the US media will pick this up

Hmm, I have a feeling that would be rather difficult and not at all productive, if these reactions are any indication:

We in America are reading how German media is lying about the "cause" of Katrina. We are disgusted! How do you think Americans feel about the morality of the German media (including DW) and national political parties that gloat and pat themselves on the back over the misfortune of others? What kind of nation are you? I, for one, will never support any attempt to prevent global warming just because you have made the selfish attempt to gain political points off of what is a genuine tragedy. Germany is to be pitied, because once again it has lost its moral focus. Germany is no ally of the USA! -- Steven L. Chapman, US

You have hijacked one of the worst human crises in American history as just another vehicle for anti-Bush ranting and America bashing. Regardless of its dubious accuracy, the notion that US environmental policy is somehow to blame for the catastrophe in New Orleans is irrelevant at this stage and offensive to the core. -- Russel, US

Shame on you Germans. I am American born of German parents and your lack of concern and compassion in these trying times and lack of support and financial aid without being asked is despicable. I am appalled at your lack of response. Not proud of my ancestry! -- Susan Kempf, US

The German non-stop vitriolic criticism of US policies isn't about the Iraq war or environmental issues. It's a pitiful attempt to reclaim the moral credibility Germany forfeited 60 years ago. By the way, it's not working. -- Carla Cook, US

- from letters to DW
posted by funambulist at 5:10 PM on September 3, 2005


Totally agree, sdrawkcab: though it's hard to ignore the clearly political dimensions (faked levy repair??? iraq boondoggle wasting our money??) I don't have that much confidence that a Democratic administration would have done much better.
posted by footnote at 5:10 PM on September 3, 2005


matteo, I protest: you are indeed a eurocommie, but you are no asshole!
posted by scody at 5:11 PM on September 3, 2005


If I ever come to an NYC meetup I'm buying you a beer.
Maybe we should have a meetup timed with benefit thing? ( New Yorkers citywide will raise a shaker and a toast on September 12, 2005, to provide much-needed funds for its sister city in distress, New Orleans, during the “Save New Orleans Cocktail Hour.” …)
posted by amberglow at 5:13 PM on September 3, 2005


[German] ARD correspondent Christine Adelhardt, who witnessed Bush's visit to Biloxi, was shocked about the extent to which the event was staged.

Bush visit halts food delivery
By Michelle Krupa | Staff writer | Times-Picayune
"Three tons of food ready for delivery by air to refugees in St. Bernard Parish and on Algiers Point sat on the Crescent City Connection bridge Friday afternoon as air traffic was halted because of President Bush’s visit to New Orleans, officials said.

The provisions, secured by U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-Napoleonville, and state Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom, baked in the afternoon sun as Bush surveyed damage across southeast Louisiana five days after Katrina made landfall as a Category 4 storm, said Melancon’s chief of staff, Casey O’Shea.

'We had arrangements to airlift food by helicopter to these folks, and now the food is sitting in trucks because they won’t let helicopters fly,' O’Shea said Friday afternoon."
posted by ericb at 5:15 PM on September 3, 2005


(of course like Condoleeza Rice herself said Germany like many other countries have offered to give aid but the angry letter people must have not heard of it)
posted by funambulist at 5:16 PM on September 3, 2005


footnote, we wouldn't be in Iraq, spending billions a week, and tying up National Guard and Military, for one thing that would be different. I don't think FEMA would have privatized either.
posted by amberglow at 5:17 PM on September 3, 2005


scody: My impression of you from my time at MeFi is good. Still, you don't know the first thing about my level of compassion or how I spend my free time or money. Like I said I'm a little raw.
posted by Carbolic at 5:23 PM on September 3, 2005


I've watched some video clips on the ZDF website, but none of them mention any fabricated or staged help. Perhaps it was just ARD's coverage...or maybe they didn't put that clip online?
posted by jann at 5:27 PM on September 3, 2005


funambulist quotes: We in America are reading how German media is lying about the "cause" of Katrina. We are disgusted!

"On the topic of press releases and releasing to the press. A brief chronology of a journalistic attack" - Who cares about the Flut-Opfers?

"In the light of recent events, one may conceivably find the harsh criticsm of American climate policy uttered by Green party chairman Reinhard Bütikofer to be misplaced, perhaps even - if questionably so - accuse him of exploiting this disaster to his own advantage. However, even more interesting is the sequence of events leading up to it."
posted by mumble at 5:30 PM on September 3, 2005


Fair enough, carbolic, but I'm equally raw -- and I get a little rawer at what was (admit it) a veiled attempt to imply that those of us criticizing Bush might conveniently "forget" the real plight down the road when there's not political hay to make of it. I find that frankly insulting.
posted by scody at 5:31 PM on September 3, 2005


amberglow wrote: they have to be removed from power.

What I'd like to see is a very professional, very objective collection of all of this complete bafflegab and incompetence put together for the Democrats to use en masse in the 2006 elections. That gives enough time to focus on helping the victims now, and the avoidance of politicizing this tragedy while it is still ongoing.

I'm sure the Daily Show is going to eviscerate the administration with this stuff, but that won't help get the Republicans out of power in Congress.
posted by birdsquared at 5:40 PM on September 3, 2005


A picture is worth a thousand words --


posted by ericb at 5:41 PM on September 3, 2005


I'm amazed at how my attitude has changed from "no worries, the feds will take care of it" to "holy crap, the feds failed and people are DYING" just today. I haven't been watching TV or reading online in the last week or so. I remain shocked that a general awareness and outrage has not risen among my peers such that I didn't hear about the outrageous conditions until I went online.
posted by lorrer at 5:41 PM on September 3, 2005


I just want to break radio silence to profess my undying love for amberglow.

And to inform Carbolic that he's the most willfully obtuse individual I've encountered on MeFi since Space Cadet.

I hope all the concerns for the needy people of New Orleans are still around six months or two years from now when their plight doesn't provide a convenient reason to attack the evil Republicans (and they may be evil).

Funny, I'm hoping there's no need for the concerns, though that's unlikely given the extent of the devastation. Claiming a reason is "convenient" doesn't mitigate the reason at all. And thank you for reducing a horror to a convenience. Well done.

I'm a little raw right now but many comments seem more about taking shots at the administration that about a true concern for the underclass that has taken the brunt of the situation.

The truly obtuse part. Having concern for the pain of others tends to lead a thinking and feeling person to a certain level of anger. One can be concerned, horrified and outraged, all at the same time. I'm glad you're feeling a little raw, Carbolic. Perhaps it will lead you to follow these links presented, and actually acknowledge what a colossal cluster fuck this administration made of the situation. And maybe, just maybe, your wits will become acute enough to realize the difference between pointing fingers in a stupid game and actually holding responsible parties accountable for their actions. There's nothing convenient about this, for anyone. This event was so poorly handled that heads should fucking roll. So which side are you on: the side of the people, or the side of the people who fucked this up? Choose.
posted by Wulfgar! at 5:44 PM on September 3, 2005


jann: I guess the person quoted by amberglow did get confused between the two stations - here is the video on ARD with the report from Biloxi by Christine Adelhardt, it's the latter part of that clip. My deutsch is crap but I could tell she is indeed talking about being shocked by the staging of the visit, like in the quote mumble translated.
posted by funambulist at 5:45 PM on September 3, 2005


Don't know if this has been posted yet, but it appears that Sen. Landrieu may finally be growing some balls.

(Eww. Weird image.)
posted by brundlefly at 5:46 PM on September 3, 2005


*kisses wulfgar!*

And ericb, thanks for linking to that amazing, heartwrenching photo.
posted by scody at 5:47 PM on September 3, 2005


Alison's video link is definitely worth viewing.
posted by shoepal at 5:48 PM on September 3, 2005


mumble - that is very interesting indeed. So the spinning about Germany gloating and not offering aid started from within Germany by Spiegel? What bastards. I'm not suprised though...
posted by funambulist at 5:54 PM on September 3, 2005


DHS probably spent its billions on mission statements, corporate logos, powerpoint monkeys and consultants, and fancy executive bathroom fittings.

Maybe they were leveraging catastrophe paradigms and forging synergistic disaster-relief solutions.
posted by normy at 5:57 PM on September 3, 2005


footnote, we wouldn't be in Iraq, spending billions a week, and tying up National Guard and Military, for one thing that would be different. I don't think FEMA would have privatized either.
posted by amberglow at 5:17 PM PST on September 3 [!]


Fine, that's certainly true, but it's a HUGE mistake to think that democrats would have or will magically institute coherent disaster preparedness. The 9/11 Commission Report detailing the extreme dysfunction of our national intelligence system shows that the problem of ineffective bureaucracy transcends electoral politics. And in any event, the solution has to be bipartisan (or neutral) in the end, otherwise it will never be sustainable.
posted by footnote at 5:58 PM on September 3, 2005


footnote, I appreciate and agree with your comment. However, persons like myself have been screaming about the colossal incompetence of GW Bush for 6 years, and few have listened. This isn't about party, it's about who is actually in control. Very few are saying that "the Democrats" would have handled it better. Many are saying that Bush couldn't handle it at all. And I know who's right.
posted by Wulfgar! at 6:03 PM on September 3, 2005


I'm taking it for granted that the Republicans are outta here, in the White House at the very least. We need to start looking ahead.
posted by footnote at 6:06 PM on September 3, 2005


I think it's pretty clear that the entire government, both parties, have screwed everything up rather royally. I have as little confidence in the Dems as I do in the Repubs.

At this point, it's pretty clear that in a real crisis, the people of America are on their own, and all those taxes we've paid in haven't made a bit of difference in disaster preparedness.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:07 PM on September 3, 2005


zoogleplex, I would like to point out that, though I've no intention of voting for my Democratic Senator in '08, the people of America shouldn't be "on their own". This is the entire fucking problem. But the White House, for 4 years, has extolled the virtues of fear and compliance. Our money, in that time, has been fucking wasted. Blame party all you wish, though it's stupid to do so. The government exists to deal with episodes precisely as we're seeing now. Who's in charge? A Party? Fuck that. A man is in charge who was incapable of rising to the task.

Making this about party affiliation is ridiculous, at this point.
posted by Wulfgar! at 6:21 PM on September 3, 2005


I think a distinction has to be made here between the flood itself and the completely, utterly blown handling of the predictable aftermath.

The fact that the city flooded was a result of a a massive force of nature coupled with a decades-long policy failure across several generations of state, local and federal government.

The fact that federal authorities, under the "leadership" of President Bush, have so completely and utterly fucked up the evacuation of those left behind in the aftermath is another tragedy. This one was completely man-made, however, and the bulk of the blame rests with the Bush administration. Not only has the bureaucracy failed; Bush himself failed to show anything even remotely resembling leadership in the hours and days following disaster. He should have been on the ground in Louisiana on Tuesday.

The lack of regard shown by the Bush administration (Bush on vacation, Cheney in Wyoming, Condi shopping in New York) just as the scope of the disaster became clear is a failure of leadership of the highest order. The founding fathers must be spinning in their graves. If this country doesn't start producing real leaders soon, if we the people continue to be satisfied by cardboard cutouts that offer the illusion of leadership, then I fear for the future of the Republic.
posted by nyterrant at 6:23 PM on September 3, 2005


nyterrant, thank you for expressing what I have so poorly been trying to sate.
posted by Wulfgar! at 6:26 PM on September 3, 2005


You misinterpret, Wulfgar, I'm not blaming any one party. I agree with you completely, we should not be on our own. Looks like we are though, in the practical sense; they have all failed us.

I also agree with nyterrant.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:28 PM on September 3, 2005


funambulist: To be honest, I haven't quite followed that particular issue; only read the article I linked to and found it quite interesting.

Not having seen the DW's take on things, I'd just like to state on general terms that not agreeing with the USA's environment policy and "gloating" over people's misery are two very different things. FWIW, I don't think Katrina was "man-made" in any way, and I doubt that's what Trittin or others wanted to say. However, the fact that Bush really doesn't give a damn about a lot of things remains.
posted by mumble at 6:28 PM on September 3, 2005


The fact that federal authorities, under the "leadership" of President Bush, have so completely and utterly fucked up the evacuation of those left behind in the aftermath is another tragedy.

Bears repeating...
"If we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?" asked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Republican.
posted by ericb at 6:32 PM on September 3, 2005


Newt should have added, "..that will come without any warning at all?"
posted by zoogleplex at 6:33 PM on September 3, 2005


thanks, funambulist for finding that video. ARD's coverage seems much better than ZDF's by comparison. The reporter in question is about as close to "losing it" as I could ever imagine a German foreign correspondent getting. I know mumble translated the transcript above, but let me just repeat her point once again: the emptiness and political photo-op staging of the president's visit and entourage was just as shocking to her as the level of devastation caused by the natural catastrophe. damn, that is some pissed.
posted by jann at 6:37 PM on September 3, 2005


The Emperor Has No Clothes!
posted by ericb at 6:38 PM on September 3, 2005


Wow, go Amber! And shoepal, that video was a fantastic find.
posted by dejah420 at 6:46 PM on September 3, 2005


nyterrant, what you fail to appreciate in your analysis is that the federal government is constitutionally constrained to let local governance take the first stab at a local disaster.

Bush pleaded with both the governor and the mayor of New Orleans to give him powers to send in resources and to initiate the evacuation. It was the local Democrat politicians who failed their people.

New Orleans is now literally being billed as white man's burden. It's Bush's burden to save New Orleans from itself.

I say die New Orleans die. I hope all your criminals are safely deported to cities with law enforcement competent to your imminent incarceration.
posted by paleocon at 6:49 PM on September 3, 2005


Troops begin combat operations in New Orleans

"This place is going to look like Little Somalia," Brig. Gen. Gary Jones, commander of the Louisiana National Guard’s Joint Task Force told Army Times Friday as hundreds of armed troops under his charge prepared to launch a massive citywide security mission from a staging area outside the Louisiana Superdome.


Let's hope this prediction doesn't come true, exactly.
posted by cenoxo at 6:50 PM on September 3, 2005


dejah420, the credit goes to Alison. I hope more Citizen Journalist style video starts flowing out of there.
posted by shoepal at 6:51 PM on September 3, 2005


Did I leave anything out?
posted by leftcoastbob at 6:17 PM EST on September 3 [!]


You left out "That was all in the past, and, while mistakes were made, we must press forward towards the future, stay the course, and remain ever vigilant"
posted by Balisong at 6:52 PM on September 3, 2005


Please don't feed the troll.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:56 PM on September 3, 2005


paleocon writes "I say die New Orleans die."
You trolling c*nt.
posted by peacay at 6:58 PM on September 3, 2005


Bush pleaded with both the governor and the mayor of New Orleans to give him powers to send in resources and to initiate the evacuation.

I need links to this information, do you have any handy?

I say die New Orleans die.

Nevermind. Could you just drop dead on the spot instead? Thanks.
posted by zarah at 6:59 PM on September 3, 2005


Bush pleaded with both the governor and the mayor of New Orleans to give him powers to send in resources and to initiate the evacuation. It was the local Democrat politicians who failed their people.

Please support that contention.

The federal Department of Homeland Security assumes full and primary responsibility for natural disasters, trumping any local and state governance:
"In the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency, the Department of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility...for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation. This will entail providing a coordinated, comprehensive federal response to any large-scale crisis and mounting a swift and effective recovery effort." [DHS website]
Can you explain the delay and lack of action from the Feds here:
""New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson offered Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco help from his state's National Guard last 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....In addition to Guard help, the federal government could have activated, but did not, a major air support plan under a pre-existing contract with airlines. The program, called Civilian Reserve Air Fleet, lets the government quickly put private cargo and passenger planes into service." [Associated Press | September 3, 2005]
posted by ericb at 6:59 PM on September 3, 2005


Bush pleaded with both the governor and the mayor of New Orleans to give him powers to send in resources and to initiate the evacuation. It was the local Democrat politicians who failed their people.

The links presented in this thread already refute this incredable bullshit. Troll as you wish, but do so with more style in the future. Please?
posted by Wulfgar! at 7:00 PM on September 3, 2005


Again, please don't feed the troll. There are no links, because it didn't happen.
posted by zoogleplex at 7:00 PM on September 3, 2005


What the fuck, paleocon? Why does this guy still have an account here- has he ever not trolled?

I wish I knew where he lived, though.
posted by hincandenza at 7:05 PM on September 3, 2005


What zoogleplex said. This is a fantastic thread about a fantastic post -- one that should be linked by every top blog out there. But that won't happen if you indulge every saddo who wants to derail it for personal gratification.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:06 PM on September 3, 2005


Sorry, won't happen again.
posted by zarah at 7:08 PM on September 3, 2005


paleocon writes "Bush pleaded with both the governor and the mayor of New Orleans to give him powers to send in resources and to initiate the evacuation."

Could you please cite a source for this?
posted by zerokey at 7:08 PM on September 3, 2005


There is no source. It is a pleasant but entirely unfounded fantasy. Please ignore and resume discussion.
posted by zoogleplex at 7:11 PM on September 3, 2005


dejah420, the credit goes to Alison. I hope more Citizen Journalist style video starts flowing out of there.

I have to admit that I got the link off of Wonkette, but I hadn't seen it on Metafilter, yet.

There is a huge number of ordinary Americans who are willing to put themselves at risk for other needy people. However, they are frustrated and turned away by a (incompetent at best, neglegent at worst) government authority. I wonder if this would have gone better if FEMA had not been involved at all. Citizens have been willing to do search and rescue and the Red Cross is certainly capable of providing food, water and medication. All of this effort is rendered impotent and I have a hard time understanding why.
posted by Alison at 7:12 PM on September 3, 2005


I missed your comment about feeding the troll.

I do not see it as troll feeding. Rather, nullifying inaccurate information provided.
Regardless, it is critically important to prove points like this correct or incorrect. I would and have asked the same of non-trolls.
posted by zerokey at 7:14 PM on September 3, 2005


hincandenza is a fine example.

What the fuck, paleocon? Why does this guy still have an account here- has he ever not trolled?

I wish I knew where he lived, though.


Let's dissect this. He's appalled that anyone is allowed to post on this site who happens to disagree with his viewpoint. Secondary to this he implies violence.
posted by paleocon at 7:16 PM on September 3, 2005


paleocon:

You cannot possibly be real. FEMA has certainly been exercising authority (badly) and you're saying that the Feds' hands have been tied constitutionally? You are living on the moon somewhere, no doubt about it.

There is a part of me that hopes you one day are on the receiving end of a horrific cock-up by your chosen deities--there are so many chances for you to be--but you know what? I wouldn't even wish half of what a lot of decent people are suffering right now in NOLA on you. No human being should ever have to experience that. But then, you and I seem to have different definitions of who qualifies as a "human being."
posted by trigonometry at 7:19 PM on September 3, 2005


The inaccurate information is nullified by the non-existence of any cited source. That's all we really need. We all know it's trolling. Direct response to attempt refutation is futile, as you can plainly see.

So, have any Red Cross personnel been allowed in yet? Have refugees been brought to any Red Cross stations set up outside the perimeter?
posted by zoogleplex at 7:20 PM on September 3, 2005


, it is critically important to prove points like this correct or incorrect.

Excellent point. part of the problem is that vandals like paleocon are frequently allowed to let urban legends grow and fester, infecting the minds of people who might otherwise know better. That crap has to be smacked down and smacked down hard.

Honestly, the right-wing trolls, or anyone deigning to use this opportunity to in any way defend or praise the government, need to shut their mouths for the next few weeks while the grown-ups deal with the problem and expose and condemn the culprits of this failure of humanitarian relief.
posted by deanc at 7:21 PM on September 3, 2005


Michael Moore's letter to George Bush. Link courtesy of LGF
posted by Stuart_R at 7:26 PM on September 3, 2005


Moving on, DHS superfriend Chertoff said government planners did not predict such a disaster ever could occur. But in fact, government officials, scientists and journalists have warned that a hurricane could swamp New Orleans for years.

Not surprising for an administration that view science as a tool for advancing its political agenda rather than as a tool for understanding and coping with the physical world.
posted by nyterrant at 7:29 PM on September 3, 2005


Stuart_R, I think you meant: Michael Moore's letter to George Bush
posted by crawl at 7:30 PM on September 3, 2005


Gah. Thanks for catching that. ;-)
posted by Stuart_R at 7:31 PM on September 3, 2005


deanc, you are the sort of idealist who sounds like someone who doesn't actually have an income and consequently pays few if any taxes. Let me be the first to suggest that you have a nice steaming cup of.. shut the fuck up.
posted by paleocon at 7:33 PM on September 3, 2005


Bush pleaded with both the governor and the mayor of New Orleans to give him powers to send in resources and to initiate the evacuation.

So, you're saying that the President of the United States, who went to war without the "permission" required by international law, was unable to save the citizens of his own country because he needed permission from the mayor of New Orleans. Is that a correct interpretation of what you said?

Was the username idiot man-child already taken when you signed up for your membership?

I say die New Orleans die.

Uh huh. And I say I hope your flesh falls from your bones in meaty strips.
posted by dobbs at 7:36 PM on September 3, 2005


Moving on, DHS superfriend Chertoff said government planners did not predict such a disaster ever could occur. But in fact, government officials, scientists and journalists have warned that a hurricane could swamp New Orleans for years.

And FEMA did hold an exercise on this just last year. And FEMA is part of DHS, isn't it? Chertoff is a self-serving, lying sack of shit.
posted by carter at 7:40 PM on September 3, 2005


I say die New Orleans die. I hope all your criminals are safely deported to cities with law enforcement competent to your imminent incarceration.

So, to be sure I'm understanding:
1. You'd like New Orleans to die.
2. However, you'd like to see the criminals there safely deported elsewhere to be incarcerated?

I thought 'conservatives' were tough on crime. You're basically calling for all the innocent people to die, and the criminals to be treated to the safety of our first-world criminal justice system.

Let it never be said that Metafilter doesnt' have a broad spectrum of perspectives, from the breathtakingly sharp to the delightfully obtuse.
posted by mullingitover at 7:40 PM on September 3, 2005


Well, this thread is moving along swimmingly!
posted by Balisong at 7:41 PM on September 3, 2005


Un-fucking-believable. These clowns have got to go. Alas, it's only 2005.
posted by nyterrant at 7:41 PM on September 3, 2005


C'mon, would you people please stop feeding the troll. When a troll posts, flag the damn thing and move on.
posted by jperkins at 7:42 PM on September 3, 2005


And I say I hope your flesh falls from your bones in meaty strips.

I was always told that this defined a good pork but roast. mmm I love a good roast. Your curse leads me to thoughts about tonight's meal.
posted by paleocon at 7:42 PM on September 3, 2005


You know the scariest part? The people who are going to fix this problem in our government are the same one's we're talking about. Congress and the President aren't going to impeach themselves.
posted by fungible at 7:47 PM on September 3, 2005


Jabbor Gibson for President
posted by Skwirl at 7:48 PM on September 3, 2005


Yes, *sigh* again, please stop feeding the sociopath.

Since I know I'm among nerdy friends here, many of you should remember the old Star Trek episode "Day of the Dove," where Klingons and the Enterprise crew are trapped aboard ship, locked in battle using primitive swords and axes, wounding each other mortally but not dying - because an energy being which feeds on hate has taken control, and is gorging itself on the violence?

Such are these trolls, inciting you (and me) to violent anger, feeding off our responses to them.

Laugh at them and forgive them, and they will starve to death.

As Kang said, "Only a fool fights in a burning house."

No meal for you, trolls. Have a nice evening.

On preview: No kidding, fungible. We will actually have to wait until this debacle is sorted out by the yahoos who caused it before we can spank them. Terrible thought, as people have very short memories.
posted by zoogleplex at 7:51 PM on September 3, 2005


zoogleplex, didn't Kang also say "A thousand throats may be cut in one night by a running man"? Trolls are a bit like that: it takes a lot of people to make a good thread but only one attention-seeking loser to make it a trainwreck. But only if everyone cooperates with him by reacting to him.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:59 PM on September 3, 2005


while there is no doubt the Feds have some explaining to do for their response - me thinks Mayor Nagin will not fair well either (over 255 NO city school buses were left in their lot)
posted by cbjg at 7:59 PM on September 3, 2005


My question for the administration at this point is:

Are you all still planning on having that big War Parade on September 11? Cause there is nothing I love better than a big old war parade.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:00 PM on September 3, 2005


Such are these trolls, inciting you (and me) to violent anger, feeding off our responses to them.

Oh, I flagged it too, and I heartily encourage everyone here to do the same. The post should be listed on the guidelines page as a textbook example of trolling. I mean, wow.
posted by mullingitover at 8:01 PM on September 3, 2005


"didn't Kang also say "A thousand throats may be cut in one night by a running man"?"

Actually, George_Spiggott, that was one of his unnamed warriors. But you're quite right, and the analogy is apt.

Thus, please don't hand the knife to the sociopath. Thanks for cooperating!
posted by zoogleplex at 8:01 PM on September 3, 2005


As Kang said, "Only a fool fights in a burning house."

Dammit, I can't stop myself: Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos.

I think I'm getting hysterical, actually. Carry on.
posted by jokeefe at 8:02 PM on September 3, 2005


"Are you all still planning on having that big War Parade on September 11? Cause there is nothing I love better than a big old war parade."

Inadvisable, considering the racial overtones of this disaster, and given the population demographic of Washington DC. I think the potential for an explosive situation should be obvious.

jokeefe: belly-laugh! :)
posted by zoogleplex at 8:04 PM on September 3, 2005


Plenty of us do volunteer work year-round. Plenty of us routinely contribute to charity. Plenty of us are commited activists in our communities, unions, and schools. If that seems like a foreign concept to you, then it reveals much more about yourself than any snide implication you can make about those of us who dare criticize the president.

Thanks for that, scody. It's what I've been trying unsuccessfully to articulate these past couple of days every time I see a "why are you politicizing the disaster" comment.
posted by the_bone at 8:04 PM on September 3, 2005


Weird. My right-wing boss came in tonight and freaking trashed W. frothingly for about a half hour. I actually had to 'shush' him at one point. I found it oddly exhilarating. And somewhat hopeful. Although the frantic, hypnotic spinning has yet to pacify the faithful. And efforts will be made. Palms will be greased, and facades carefully -more carefully than at the botched photo op- constructed. Don't take anything for granted, footnote...
posted by umberto at 8:06 PM on September 3, 2005


My question for the administration at this point is: Are you all still planning on having that big War Parade on September 11? Cause there is nothing I love better than a big old war parade. - Secret Life of Gravy


Why, do you mean Iraqapallooza? I mean, "America Supports You Freedom Walk"?

I can't find confirmation on the web, but I remember one of the newsheads saying that Rumsfeld had confirmed that it was going forward as planned.
posted by dejah420 at 8:17 PM on September 3, 2005


It is heartening to see even a few lapdogs (fucking Geraldo, damn!) who still have a tiny grain of conscience left, apparently, turning on their masters. Whether it will last is hard to say. My husband works with a lot of Bush voters, mainly black and Hispanic. And they are all full of rage at what they've been seeing in New Orleans, repeating in shock "It's like he doesn't know what the hell he's doing...those people are dying!" Welcome to the reality-based community, folks. We're glad to have you.
posted by emjaybee at 8:38 PM on September 3, 2005


This would be infuriating if it were not so heartbreaking.

The most powerful country on earth cannot provide even the most basic necessities for one city in dire need.

Stunning.

(Note: I understand the extreme suffering in other places outside of NO, but NO is the obvious barometer for how efforts are coming along.)
posted by Ynoxas at 8:43 PM on September 3, 2005


"Are you all still planning on having that big War Parade on September 11? Cause there is nothing I love better than a big old war parade."

Yep. And on Wednesday the US Department of Health and Human Services sent an e-mail to its employees, only 3 minutes before Bush spoke to the nation about the hurricane, urging them to attend. No arm-twisting there. After all, you have to register for the event!
"From: Announcements to all U.S. DHHS Employees
[mailto:HHS-STAFF@LIST.NIH.GOV] On Behalf Of News, HHS (HHS/OS)
Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2005 4:57 PM
To: HHS-STAFF@LIST.NIH.GOV
Subject: Commemoration of Patriot Day

In twelve days, we will commemorate Patriot Day, a day to remember the tragic events of September 11, 2001, a day to honor members of the Armed Forces currently serving at home and abroad, and a day to reiterate our commitment to the freedoms we enjoy. I will honor Patriot Day by participating in the Freedom Walk, a memorial event sponsored by the Department of Defense. I invite you as employees of the Department of Health and Human Services to join me.

The Freedom Walk begins at 10 a.m. in the Pentagon's south parking lot, winds two miles through Arlington National Cemetery and over the Potomac River, and ends at the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall where country music star Clint Black will perform. The walk is free, but people must register by visiting www.AmercaSupportsYou.mil

September 11 marked a change in the way we view our world, our nation and ourselves. The betterment of ourselves and our country is our response. In whatever way you choose to commemorate the horrendous acts of early September four years ago, let us once again renew our gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy and reaffirm our commitment to tolerance, peace and liberty throughout the world."
posted by ericb at 8:48 PM on September 3, 2005


Patriot Day.

Ah, I can't even say anything. None of it would be positive in any way.

Patriot Day.

*shakes head*
posted by zoogleplex at 8:52 PM on September 3, 2005


cbjg raises a good point, that picture is pretty damning to the mayor.
posted by Potsy at 8:55 PM on September 3, 2005


We already have Patriot's Day here in New England. Don't soil its heritage.
posted by ericb at 8:58 PM on September 3, 2005


scody: Admitted. I didn't think it was veiled. I saw more concern with blaming than with the well being of the people.

Wulfgar!: I've got some direct connections to the tragedy. I'm from NOLA and have a lot of family in the area. Making it political upsets me. I see concentrating on the politics as being obtuse.

And, oh yeah, fuck paleocon.
posted by Carbolic at 9:07 PM on September 3, 2005


"cbjg raises a good point, that picture is pretty damning to the mayor."

Sit on it, Potsy.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:09 PM on September 3, 2005


If I were Clint Black's agent, I'd ask him to start exhibiting symptoms of a painfully sore throat that will only get worse in the week to come.

Anyway. Does anyone else see the irony in a "Freedom" walk for which you have to pre-register?
posted by Miko at 9:31 PM on September 3, 2005


cbjg raises a good point, that picture is pretty damning to the mayor

it is ... this has been a clusterfuck from the bottom to the top
posted by pyramid termite at 9:35 PM on September 3, 2005


By the way, I left that pre-register for the Freedom Walk window open while I was posting. When I went back to check, I noticed the status bar at the bottom of my browser was still a-flickering: Transferring data from www.penfed.org/freedomwalk. So be warned.

*off to run anti-spyware arsenal, knowing whatever it is won't be caught by it*
posted by Miko at 9:45 PM on September 3, 2005


You know, I'm trying to figure out the right place to post about this crisis, but I can't really. I hope paleocon get magically transported to the Superdome, where I'm sure his comments will be met with reasonable and measured responses from the poor folks who have not had decent care for, what, six days now?

Anyway, I had my first direct experience dealing with the government agencies that are supposedly handling this crisis today. While I'm sure that there are many good people trying to help, this is just a goddamn massive fuckup at the federal level. I mean, when there is no way to contact the national guard, and when there's nobody around to help a poor diabled person who is on dry land and has a damn working phone line, where are we?

I mean, what the hell? It takes a whole day of phone calls and nobody can get this person a damn bottle of water?
posted by lackutrol at 9:58 PM on September 3, 2005


Getting back to the subject at hand which was, I believe, the total goatscrew by the Feds in response to Katrina, I want to say one thing. I am incredibly proud to be working for the finest, most capable, least heralded agency (and military service) in the federal government: the United States Coast Guard. To date, they've rescued over 17,000 people, and for the Coasties it's all in a day's work. Nobody has to tell the Coast Guard to do its job. They don't wait for orders before swinging into action. The Coast Guard has a culture which values and rewards initiative from the lowest rating on up. They have a saying in the Coast Guard: "You have to go out, but you don't have to come back." I think that saying, as well as the official motto "Semper Paratus" (Always Ready) says it all about these self-effacing heroes who don't consider themselves heroes, but just folks doing the jobs they love.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 10:06 PM on September 3, 2005


Ereshkigal45, by the way, I shouldn't be mad at everybody. The Coast Guard's job is do to air- and seaborne rescues, and I have no problem with them redirecting me to Emergency Services. What I do have a probem with is leaders who can't organize the response properly so folks know who to call.
posted by lackutrol at 10:11 PM on September 3, 2005


it's a HUGE mistake to think that democrats would have or will magically institute coherent disaster preparedness.

So Clinton appoints a FEMA head with a background in disaster relief, followed by two Republican partisan appointments with zero experience or training. It's rather unlikely that the Democracts would have eviscerated FEMA's budget. You'd have the National Guard there in force... what else are you looking for, exactly?
posted by dreamsign at 10:18 PM on September 3, 2005


eresh, i'm proud of you guys--we all are.
posted by amberglow at 10:18 PM on September 3, 2005


Hear hear Ereshkigal. The Coast Guard didn't wait for any orders, you just went in and started saving people. First video I saw of all this was a CG helo rescuing people while the rain was still falling on Monday.

Good job, and thanks from a grateful taxpayer on behalf of us all. The apparatchiks in Washington could learn a few things from the USCG.
posted by zoogleplex at 10:20 PM on September 3, 2005


Hey, don't give me any praise. I'm one of the apparatchiks in Washington. OK. I'm not really important enough to be an apparatchik. I just hope that the job I do helps the real Coasties, in some indirect way, to do the incredible work that they do.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 10:38 PM on September 3, 2005


Eresh, I'm sure you do help in some way. You seem to be able to formulate coherent thoughts, which is an ability sorely lacking in many of the highest-ups during this thing. Many thanks to your guys who are fighting the good fight.
posted by lackutrol at 10:41 PM on September 3, 2005


Great post, dejah, and great additional info, everyone.
posted by taz at 10:56 PM on September 3, 2005


It's a bit obvious perhaps but sometimes we forget: we rail against "the government" when in fact we mean the politicians whom we ourselves put, or allowed to be put, in charge of it. The government proper is staffed by professionals who can be very, very good indeed. When they're allowed to be. Certain utterly worthless appointees excepted.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:59 PM on September 3, 2005


yes! ... i will say that the coast guard has done one hell of a job ... they were there ... they did everything they could ... they're the one federal agency that actually seems to have done something fast this week
posted by pyramid termite at 11:05 PM on September 3, 2005


they're still working, i hope--people are still trapped.
posted by amberglow at 11:47 PM on September 3, 2005


IRC (EFNet) #katrina

Not so exciting at this hour, but occassionally informative.
posted by swift at 12:57 AM on September 4, 2005


It's not political; it's moral!

Americans have a habit of talking about politics as something apart from the normal doings of their lives. Kind of strange of us, considering that the normal doings of our lives are only possible because of politics. Turning on the tap to get a drink of water is a political act if only because the water flows and is relatively clean because of decisions made by politicians who owe their jobs to political decisions made by us.

Want to see what life without politics looks like? Turn on the TV and look at the video from New Orleans before the Guard got there.

posted by maryh at 4:02 AM on September 4, 2005


More info from the buses post...

"Here's the southeast Louisiana evac plan (pdf) supplement, most recently revised in 2000. Go to page 13, read paragraph 5. It states:

5. The primary means of hurricane evacuation will be personal vehicles. School and municipal buses, government-owned vehicles and vehicles provided by volunteer agencies may be used to provide transportation for individuals who lack transportation and require assistance in evacuating.

Previous hurricanes evacuations in New Orleans were always voluntary, because so many people don't have the means of getting out. Some are too poor and there is always a French Quarter full of tourists who get caught.

First response is always at the municipal (I mean parish) level. Using theses buses to help get people out before the storm struck would have helped reduce the number of fatalities. Even W declared it a disaster area before the storm hit and personally asked officials to evacuate!

My guess is corrupt politicians could be blamed at all levels. (VodkaPundit has a good take on this)
posted by cbjg at 4:40 AM on September 4, 2005


paleocon: ... the federal government is constitutionally constrained to let local governance take the first stab at a local disaster.

WRONG.

You need to learn a few basic things about American government, methinks.

The federal government has no such "constitutional" constraint. (You assert that it exists, btw -- care to provide chapter & verse?) It has a rule-based constraint to defer to local authorities -- i.e., to take their orders -- but that is in no sense intended to stop them from acting if they need to act.
posted by lodurr at 8:07 AM on September 4, 2005


I remember back during the throes of debate over organizing DHS and re-organizing security, there were a few people (myself among them) who argued that the only existing agency that had the right experience and mindset to manage homeland security was the Coast Guard.

I also argued that it would be the worst thing in the world for the Coast Guard to get that mission -- that it would destroy them. It would be like promoting the most competent coder to management: Overall direction will improve, but line execution would suffer. Fortunately for them (and for the people they've helped in all of the significant coastal disasters since then), they're still otu there doing what they're good at, on their own initiative, and with their own impeccable sense of ethics.

Aside: I've had the good fortune to know a number of "Coasties" over the years, and i've always been impressed. Their pride in service is powerful; their ethos is clearly one of initiative in the service of their mission. I'm glad they were there, and i wish people in parallel silos and above them in the hierarchy could have followed their example.

F.t.r., lots of local responders were all over the issue. Disaptchers in Biloxi stayed in a flooded police building to direct rescues; police moved their operations up floor by floor as the building flooded, and went out on rescues by boat and chopper.

So the "Primary" responders did their jobs. But they got no backup. That's the crime. It's incompetence. It's dereliction of duty.
posted by lodurr at 8:29 AM on September 4, 2005


It has a rule-based constraint to defer to local authorities -- i.e., to take their orders -- but that is in no sense intended to stop them from acting if they need to act.

Exactly, "...Bush has clear legal authority to federalize National Guard units to quell civil disturbances under the Insurrection Act and will continue to try to unify the chains of command that are split among the president, the Louisiana governor and the New Orleans mayor."

Two other fuck-ups from the Feds:
"New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson offered Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco help from his state's National Guard last 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....In addition to Guard help, the federal government could have activated, but did not, a major air support plan under a pre-existing contract with airlines. The program, called Civilian Reserve Air Fleet, lets the government quickly put private cargo and passenger planes into service." [Associated Press | September 3, 2005]
posted by ericb at 8:36 AM on September 4, 2005


This today from WaPo:

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

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

A senior administration official said that Bush has clear legal authority to federalize National Guard units to quell civil disturbances under the Insurrection Act and will continue to try to unify the chains of command that are split among the president, the Louisiana governor and the New Orleans mayor.

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

"The federal government stands ready to work with state and local officials to secure New Orleans and the state of Louisiana," White House spokesman Dan Bartlett said. "The president will not let any form of bureaucracy get in the way of protecting the citizens of Louisiana."


Can anyone explain this? Doesn't DHS already have the authority to take over rescue efforts and consolidate chains of command? Why do they need to formally "request" to do so a week after the storm?
posted by nyterrant at 8:50 AM on September 4, 2005


WaPo Link.
posted by nyterrant at 8:51 AM on September 4, 2005


The senior Bush official is flat-out lying; observe the letter linked in the original post, paragraph 5:

"In response to the situation, I have taken appropriate action under State law and directed the execution of the State Emergency Plan on August 26, 2005, in accordance with Section 401 of the Stafford Act. A State of Emergency has been issued for the State in order to support the evacuations of the coastal areas and remainder of the state to support the State Evacuation and Sheltering Plan."

Pass that buck, nameless official!
posted by Remy at 9:57 AM on September 4, 2005


"I was on my home and was on the ramp getting off the highway. I saw a mini-van on the side of the road. There was a lady standing next to the van and in her arms she held her child. I can only assume her mini-van had broken down. I don’t know, perhaps with so many gad stations being out of gas, she had also run out. I slowed down and started to pull over to offer her a ride. At the very last second I noticed a “W” sticker on the back of her vehicle and I sped up and drove off. I never did go back."

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=104x4582698
posted by humannature at 10:44 AM on September 4, 2005


Sorry, that's appalling. The woman needed a ride - who cares what the sticker on the van she had been riding in said?
posted by tizzie at 11:29 AM on September 4, 2005


Also, on the comment upthread from Newt Gingrich, I think Newt and Grover Norquist and all the other "Government is evil, taxes are bad" people have a lot to answer for. Their systematic gutting of the federal government has left a gaping vacuum, and its only been all-too apparent this week that government DOES and SHOULD have a function.
posted by tizzie at 11:32 AM on September 4, 2005


paleocon writes "Bush pleaded with both the governor and the mayor of New Orleans to give him powers to send in resources and to initiate the evacuation."
Could you please cite a source for this?
posted by zerokey

There is no source. It is a pleasant but entirely unfounded fantasy. Please ignore and resume discussion.
posted by zoogleplex

From Louisiana's Governor, and from a New Orleans' newspaper's website:

"Gov. Kathleen Blanco, standing beside the mayor at a news conference, said President Bush called and personally appealed for a mandatory evacuation for the low-lying city, which is prone to flooding."
posted by humannature at 2:03 PM on September 4, 2005


Sorry, meant to note that the story linked was from August 28th. That's how early Bush was appealing for an evacuation.
posted by humannature at 2:06 PM on September 4, 2005


Sorry, humannature, that is not the same as "pleading" with the Mayor to "give him powers to send in resources and to initiate the evacuation."

Appealing for an evacuation, that's normal and expected. And guess what? There WAS a mandatory evacuation, ordered by the Mayor! The system worked, they in fact responded to the President's appeal.

Except that it was known in advance that not everyone would leave, and that there might in fact be as many as 250,000 or more people still in NO when the storm hit, as cited ad infinitum here and elsewhere. So the system as it was was broken before it was even initiated.

No one is denying that the government failed at every level from the Mayor on up to account for the huge number of people that wouldn't leave. However, in the aftermath, as soon as it was clear that there were thousand of people stranded, the Federal government's failure (except the Coast Guard, bless 'em) in all respects of emergency planning and "Homeland Security" became primary.

There was no pleading to let the Feds send in resources and initiate the evacuation, so it remains a pleasant but entirely unfounded fantasy.

Nice try, thanks for playing.
posted by zoogleplex at 5:36 PM on September 4, 2005


Warnings went ignored as Bush slashed flood defense budget to pay for wars
”Vital measures to protect New Orleans from 'catastrophic' hurricane damage were scrapped by the Bush administration to pay for its wars on terror and in Iraq, despite official warnings of impending disaster.

Funding for flood prevention was slashed by 80 per cent, work on strengthening levees to protect the city was stopped for the first time in 37 years, and planning for housing stranded citizens and evacuating refugees from the Superdome were crippled. Yet the administration had been warned repeatedly of the dangers by its own officials.

….But the skimping has worsened since President Bush's election, particularly after 11 September. Federal spending on flood control in south-east Louisiana has been cut by almost half since 2001, from $69 million per year to $36.5 million. Funds for work at Lake Pontchartrain, the source of the flooding, have fallen by nearly two-thirds over three years, from $14.25 million to $5.7 million. As a result, work on New Orleans' east bank hurricane levees stopped last summer for the first time in 37 years.

….Plans to provide shelter for victims and evacuate the Superdome, started after last year's Hurricane Pam exercise, were abandoned. Eric Tolbert, chief of disaster response at FEMA until last February, said this was because funding dried up.
[Independent Online | September 4, 2005]
posted by ericb at 5:45 PM on September 4, 2005


Bush pleaded with both the governor and the mayor of New Orleans to give him powers to send in resources and to initiate the evacuation.

Well, apparently, he tried doing with with song, but was it his voice they didn't like, or was it his melodies?


Aug 20, 2005
posted by psmealey at 9:11 PM on September 4, 2005


Aug 20 30, 2005
posted by psmealey at 9:15 PM on September 4, 2005


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