How Bush Blew It
September 12, 2005 2:04 PM   Subscribe

How Bush Blew ItNewsweek offers a fascinating peek behind the scenes of the Bush administration in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Behold a President who has to be given a custom DVD of news clips because he knows less about the situation than someone watching CNN! Watch as frightened aides debate which unlucky bastard has to tell the President to cut short his vacation! Witness intergovernmental squabbling aboard Air Force One!
posted by pardonyou? (158 comments total)
 
Wait, Bush blew somebody? We can impeach him for that, right?
posted by wakko at 2:06 PM on September 12, 2005


Look. I know it’s KatrinaFilter. I know it’s BushFilter. I know I’ve taken a position against both of those things. But … damn. I mean … damn. I just … damn. The DVD thing alone renders me speechless.

Just about four years ago, my third front page post was another of these behind-the-scenes looks at the Bush administration (in that case in the aftermath of 9-11). The tone is decidedly different this time around.
posted by pardonyou? at 2:06 PM on September 12, 2005


Truly astounding!
"The reality, say several aides who did not wish to be quoted because it might displease the president, did not really sink in until Thursday night....How this could be—how the president of the United States could have even less 'situational awareness,' as they say in the military, than the average American about the worst natural disaster in a century—is one of the more perplexing and troubling chapters in a story that, despite moments of heroism and acts of great generosity, ranks as a national disgrace."
posted by ericb at 2:09 PM on September 12, 2005


I am not taking a belligerent stance, but perhaps a post in an existing Katrina FPP would have been more appropriate? Especially as you admit that this post contains elements of a substandard FPP.
posted by edgeways at 2:10 PM on September 12, 2005


Outta touch for the past five years:
"President Bush recently gave an hour-long exclusive interview to Fox TV anchor Brit Hume, who tossed him a series of softball questions.

Among them, Bush was asked how he gets his news. Answer: He relies on briefings by chief of staff Andrew Card and national security affairs adviser Condoleezza Rice.

He walks into the Oval Office in the morning, Bush said, and asks Card: 'What's in the newspapers worth worrying about? I glance at the headlines just to kind of (get) a flavor of what's moving,' Bush said. 'I rarely read the stories,' he said." [Hearst Newspapers | October 15, 2003].
If he had only glanced at the cover of at least one newspaper on Tuesday morning -- the day following the hurricane's hitting the Gulf Coast!
posted by ericb at 2:15 PM on September 12, 2005


Late last week, Bush was, by some accounts, down and angry. But another Bush aide described the atmosphere inside the White House as "strangely surreal and almost detached." At one meeting described by this insider, officials were oddly self-congratulatory, perhaps in an effort to buck each other up. Life inside a bunker can be strange, especially in defeat.
Godwin!
posted by Armitage Shanks at 2:16 PM on September 12, 2005


Thanks for linking to that, Armitage. I hadn't heard of Godwin's law before.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:16 PM on September 12, 2005




Not to get in a debate, edgeways, but I really wasn't acknowledging that the post has substandard FPP elements. I wouldn't have posted it otherwise -- I believe the article has sufficient new and unique information, and was sufficiently well-written, that it justified the post. I probably could have waited a few hours after reading it to see whether my blood pressure dropped, but ... really? A DVD of news clips because he didn't know what was going on?
posted by pardonyou? at 2:18 PM on September 12, 2005


Paris, please be aware that you are EXITING consensus reality. Just so long as you know.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:20 PM on September 12, 2005


Bush can be petulant about dissent; he equates disagreement with disloyalty. After five years in office, he is surrounded largely by people who agree with him.

One of the biggest problems with this administration.

And yes, definitely the holiday part. Can you imagine your Dad being reluctant to cut short his holiday when your house is on fire?!
posted by slf at 2:21 PM on September 12, 2005


I think that the slow, but inevitable emergence of evidence - perhaps not obvious to the discourse of "non-partisan" observers - about President Bush's complete lack of awareness and "compassion" is definately worthy of a front page post. Especially given that a mainstream media outlet like Newsweek - not your usual librul media - finds it necessary to analyse it.

Something big is happening in American politics, and one side of American politics doesn't like it. As Jon Stewart said on the Daily show (paraphrased) "those who do not want us to play the "blame game" are usually... the ones to blame."
posted by zaelic at 2:22 PM on September 12, 2005


"The war in Iraq was a failure of intelligence. The government's response to Katrina—like the failure to anticipate that terrorists would fly into buildings on 9/11—was a failure of imagination."

Um, no. They're all failures of a petulent, egotistical, spoiled, sad little man -- who refuses to pay attention to not only briefings and memos, but also the daily news. He snips at advisors who tell him what he doesn't want to hear and included in all those things he refused to listen to over the years was enough information to keep thousands of people alive and the country reasonably wealthy.

In the end maybe it isn't his failure. Maybe we should blame the victims, us. Oh, I was going to go on, but the timeline of our failure is too long, too filled with contradictions and such astounding silliness that I couldn't possibly make a reasonable guess at what happened. I am sad for this place, where we had resources to create a decent world and we just fucked it up with greed, god, and guns instead.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 2:22 PM on September 12, 2005


Hey, Paris, thanks for your usual crap posting!

I skimmed it, instantly noted that this "reporter" believes that the levees fell on Tuesday, couldn't be bothered to read any more.

You'd have to be pretty pathetic to be happy about the fact that the best the US can do (supposedly) is half as good as the best that Indonesia can do (and under more difficult circumstances, to boot).
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:24 PM on September 12, 2005


Federal response to Katrina Fastest of all Hurricaines Ever

From GovExec.com:
In 2004, George W. Bush and FEMA left little room for error. Not long after Hurricane Charley first made landfall on Aug. 13, Bush declared the state a federal disaster area to release federal relief funds. Less than two days after Charley ripped through southwestern Florida, he was on the ground touring hard-hit neighborhoods.

Bush later made a handful of other Florida visits to review storm-related damage, but the story on the ground was not Bush’s hand-holding. Rather, it was FEMA’s performance.

Charley hit on a Friday. With emergency supply trucks pre-positioned at depots for rapid, post-storm deployment, the agency was able to deliver seven truckloads of ice, water, cots, blankets, baby food and building supplies by Sunday. On Monday, hundreds of federal housing inspectors were on the ground, and FEMA already had opened its first one-stop disaster relief center.
posted by jperkins at 2:28 PM on September 12, 2005


Hey, I just posted this in that Brown thread.

I thought about posting it to the front page, but couldn't decide if it was worthy.

The article is astounding. I really can't envision Bush having a single supporter left in the US if everyone read that article.

He's beyond incompetent.
posted by teece at 2:28 PM on September 12, 2005


Ummmm, PP? Could you show me where in that article the word "fastest" or any synonym appears? I guess my reading comprehension just isn't what it could be.
posted by alumshubby at 2:32 PM on September 12, 2005


That's a great article. Lots of food for thought. It is even more interesting paired with analysis about how hyperlocal online journalism helped the people of New Orleans. Back in 01 I remember reading about how the internet had failed in serious crisis; at the time, the analysis indicated that new media would fail when we really needed them. this time, the internet (and various other new forms of communication, particularly text-messaging) is the only thing that worked as a means of communication. In terms of information distribution, the average internet user was better informed than the president of the united states. That comparison alone makes this post worthy, in my mind.
posted by Hildegarde at 2:34 PM on September 12, 2005


Hopefully the press is circling like sharks and will do even more once this article comes out.
posted by cell divide at 2:37 PM on September 12, 2005


Can you imagine your Dad being reluctant to cut short his holiday when your house is on fire?!

What if it was just the poorer, blacker part of the house?
posted by hackly_fracture at 2:38 PM on September 12, 2005 [1 favorite]


Oh, PP's full of it as usual. The federal response to the hurricane should be measured from the time when the federal state of emergency was declared on August 27th - that's when Bush took responsibility for the federal response, after all, under the NRP. That means that it was hardly a quick performance.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 2:39 PM on September 12, 2005


The Newsweek issue also has a political cartoon which is classic.

Bush with other characters sit in a small boat surrounded by the destruction of New Orleans. Above each persons head is a caption:

Barbara Bush: "Don't you fret about it son - those evacuees are underprivileged anyway"
Bush Senior: "It's True, they dont feel pain the way we do, Barbara"
Cheney: "Haliburton got the building contract! hee hee"
Rove: "No worries Mr. President-I can spin us out of this"
Bush: "Someone has to go over the side, Michael, not that I'm playing the blame game.."
Michael (FEMA): "Me?"
Rice (who looks like a side-kick parrot next to Bush): "Toss him over chief"
Little critter swimming by in the water: "We will now see if teflon can float"


This in the countries most popular news magazine which even 3 months ago was more like a Fox News channel in its reporting of Bish. A massive change in perspective.

Also one of the lead articles spends the first opening paragraphs discussing the famous "F___ you Cheney" CNN clip.
posted by stbalbach at 2:41 PM on September 12, 2005


ParisParamus: "Federal response to Katrina Fastest of all Hurricaines Ever"

Thanks. That one op-ed sure outweighs all that insane rambling from just about everywhere else. I was also unaware we've only had 5 "hurricaines" in recorded history.
posted by 31d1 at 2:44 PM on September 12, 2005


Oh, PP's full of it as usual.

I doubt it. Or rather, PP is wrong, but to me "PP's full of it" implies PP knows that what was said is wrong. It's been my experience with folks like PP that eat a steady diet of right wing propaganda that they have no idea they are spouting bullshit. They quite often believes it's true.

When confronted with reality, they often grumble something about liberal media and disappear, or come up with some new bullshit they don't know is wrong.
posted by teece at 2:46 PM on September 12, 2005


Another prominent figure found floating dead under New Orleans bridge. So sad.
posted by augustweed at 2:46 PM on September 12, 2005


What if it was just the poorer, blacker part of the house?

Damn. Now that you've put it this way. *sigh*

About what stbalbach points out. I too am surprised that it's Newsweek writing this. I haven't been reading much from this magazine ever since it grew so lackey.
posted by slf at 2:48 PM on September 12, 2005


FEDERAL RESPONSE TO HURRICAINE KATRINA SO FAST THAT SUPPLIES ARRIVED BEFORE THE HURRICAINIE DID AND SO THEY WERE DESTROYED SO THEN BUSH HAD TO GO GET MORE BUT THE STORES WERE CLOSED BECAUSE OF THE HURIRICIAIINE SO HE FLEW BACK TO WASHINGTON AND STOPPED AT A CONOCO FOR BEEF JERKY AND WATER AND IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE LEVEES BROKE HE PARACHUTED OUT OF AIR FORCE ONE AND PUNCHED KATRINA RIGHT IN ITS FUCKING HIURRIICAINE FACE AND DROPPED ALL THE BEEF JERKY TO THE POOR PEOPLE AND HUGGED A BLACK GIRL AND WENT TO CRAWFORD AND TOOK A NAP
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:52 PM on September 12, 2005 [1 favorite]


Wow, OC. Very well done. People are looking at me I was laughing so hard.
posted by crawl at 2:54 PM on September 12, 2005


BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
posted by BobFrapples at 2:55 PM on September 12, 2005


Bravo, Optimus.
posted by Divine_Wino at 2:58 PM on September 12, 2005


I'm saving my indignation for when Ophelia hits the Northeast. Let's see if Bush can redeem himself should the good folk of the Hamptons come against an ill wind.

Has anybody yet seen an article that frames this catastrophe as our newest national "loss of innocence"? They've pulled that old chestnut out from grassy knoll to 9/11. Maybe now we're all just jaded shell-shocked whores.
posted by hal9k at 2:59 PM on September 12, 2005


Damn, Optimus, that made this entire thread worth it.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:00 PM on September 12, 2005


Optimus Chyme WINS.
posted by 40 Watt at 3:00 PM on September 12, 2005


ParisParamus: Wrong Again.

You should just adopt that as your slogan, Paris.
posted by wakko at 3:00 PM on September 12, 2005


The turd's apologist gruel has aged to a thin brine.
posted by squirrel at 3:00 PM on September 12, 2005


On preview: Holy shit, Optimus.
posted by wakko at 3:01 PM on September 12, 2005


PP: time for another time out.
posted by zaelic at 3:01 PM on September 12, 2005


OC wins by KO
posted by ernie at 3:02 PM on September 12, 2005


The article is astounding. I really can't envision Bush having a single supporter left in the US if everyone read that article.

The problem is that there are people that will undyinglycontinueto suport this 'deemocracy' even as it continues to fail all of us.

(O.C. - Thank you so much for the laugh!)
posted by johnj at 3:07 PM on September 12, 2005


Meh...everyone's so quick to say "he blew it" or "this is it"...alls I can say is it ain't over till the choir of fat ladies sing. If he can rig it so he can run for the next election, he will. And he'll win.
posted by RockCorpse at 3:09 PM on September 12, 2005


Good gravy, OC, but that's just begging for a Flash animation with line drawings. Well bloody done.
posted by RakDaddy at 3:09 PM on September 12, 2005


Now They Tell Us
"Amid a slew of stories this weekend about the embattled presidency and the blundering government response to the drowning of New Orleans, some journalists who are long-time observers of the White House are suddenly sharing scathing observations about President Bush that may be new to many of their readers.

Is Bush the commanding, decisive, jovial president you've been hearing about for years in so much of the mainstream press?

Maybe not so much.

Judging from the blistering analyses in Time, Newsweek, and elsewhere these past few days, it turns out that Bush is in fact fidgety, cold and snappish in private. He yells at those who dare give him bad news and is therefore not surprisingly surrounded by an echo chamber of terrified sycophants. He is slow to comprehend concepts that don't emerge from his gut. He is uncomprehending of the speeches that he is given to read. And oh yes, one of his most significant legacies -- the immense post-Sept. 11 reorganization of the federal government which created the Homeland Security Department -- has failed a big test
.

Maybe it's Bush's sinking poll numbers -- he is, after all, undeniably an unpopular president now. Maybe it's the way that the federal response to the flood has cut so deeply against Bush's most compelling claim to greatness: His resoluteness when it comes to protecting Americans.

But for whatever reason, critical observations and insights that for so long have been zealously guarded by mainstream journalists, and only doled out in teaspoons if at all, now seem to be flooding into the public sphere.

An emperor-has-no-clothes moment seems upon us." [The Washington Post | September 12, 2005]
posted by ericb at 3:10 PM on September 12, 2005



posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:11 PM on September 12, 2005


He is slow to comprehend concepts that don't emerge from his gut.

I guess that explains the pretzel incident.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 3:13 PM on September 12, 2005


I have known all about Bush's character since about 1999. Have American opinion columns really been so reverent to him in the past?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:20 PM on September 12, 2005


Wow. Optimus Chyme still WINS, but Armitage Shanks gets mentioned in dispatches.
posted by eriko at 3:22 PM on September 12, 2005


A survey reported on cnn.com shows 43 percent approved of Bush's handling of the disaster as of Sep 8-11. A total of 431 out of 1005 is a minority, but still, WTF? I haven't heard too many rosy portraits coming from the media besides the staged photo-ops.
posted by rolypolyman at 3:22 PM on September 12, 2005



Federal response to Katrina Fastest of all Hurricaines Ever


patently false. everything about it: false.

not only, but it wouldn't be a claim to fame anyhow. here in north carolina where i am, fema has not even finished processing all the hurricane floyd claims from six years ago. there are still entire neighborhoods of people living in government trailers where their houses once stood.
posted by 3.2.3 at 3:23 PM on September 12, 2005


Bush Has Been "Blowing It" For Years:

January 2001: Bush appoints Joe Allbaugh, a crony from Texas, as head of FEMA. Allbaugh has no previous experience in disaster management.

April 2001: Budget Director Mitch Daniels announces the Bush administration's goal of privatizing much of FEMA's work. In May, Allbaugh confirms that FEMA will be downsized: "Many are concerned that federal disaster assistance may have evolved into both an oversized entitlement program...." he said. "Expectations of when the federal government should be involved and the degree of involvement may have ballooned beyond what is an appropriate level."

2001: FEMA designates a major hurricane hitting New Orleans as one of the three "likeliest, most catastrophic disasters facing this country."

December 2002: After less than two years at FEMA, Allbaugh announces he is leaving to start up a consulting firm that advises companies seeking to do business in Iraq. He is succeeded by his deputy and former college friend, Michael Brown, who has no previous experience in disaster management and was fired from his previous job for mismanagement.

March 2003: FEMA is downgraded from a cabinet level position and folded into the Department of Homeland Security. Its mission is refocused on fighting acts of terrorism.

2003: Under its new organization chart within DHS, FEMA's preparation and planning functions are reassigned to a new Office of Preparedness and Response. FEMA will henceforth focus only on response and recovery.

Summer 2004: FEMA denies Louisiana's pre-disaster mitigation funding requests. Says Jefferson Parish flood zone manager Tom Rodrigue: "You would think we would get maximum consideration....This is what the grant program called for. We were more than qualified for it."

June 2004: The Army Corps of Engineers budget for levee construction in New Orleans is slashed. Jefferson Parish emergency management chiefs Walter Maestri comments: "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay."

June 2005: Funding for the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is cut by a record $71.2 million. One of the hardest-hit areas is the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, which was created after the May 1995 flood to improve drainage in Jefferson, Orleans and St. Tammany parishes.

August 2005: While New Orleans is undergoing a slow motion catastrophe, Bush mugs for the cameras, cuts a cake for John McCain, plays the guitar for Mark Wills, delivers an address about V-J day, and continues with his vacation. When he finally gets around to acknowledging the scope of the unfolding disaster, he delivers only a photo op on Air Force One and a flat, defensive, laundry list speech in the Rose Garden.

By the way. I appreciate pardonyou? posting this, as well as his/her justified outrage.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 3:27 PM on September 12, 2005


Time's analysis is Living Too Much in the Bubble?. (The excerpt from one of the related stories is "The White House launches a political counterattack as Bush's approval rating slides, casualties mount in Iraq and questions linger about the case for war.")
posted by kirkaracha at 3:29 PM on September 12, 2005


Thank you O.C.!! I heard a similar story about his Vietnam years... But it was a SECRET covert ops mission, so he couldn't reveal it.
posted by Balisong at 3:29 PM on September 12, 2005


Optimus_Chyme made me laugh! All your bit needed was a rousing soundtrack to go with the superhero vibe!

I wish I could be surprised that Bush is so out of touch with reality but come on, he's been a silver spoon fucknob his entire life, he's never had any contact with poor people unless its for a photo op and he really didn't start to give a damn about Katrina until he found it had destroyed one of Trent Lott's homes (thank goodness he's got, like 15 others still), once it hit a friend of his, then he gave a damn. The man is an embarrassment as a president and a human being.

I wouldn't be surprised if he started everyday with "What's the news and leave out the bad stuff?" or "Can't I just get the news condensed into one three panel comic so I can read it over the course of the day?"

Did someone have to show him how to operate a DVD player? Or does he have some on staff to do that for him as well?
posted by fenriq at 3:33 PM on September 12, 2005


It's time the people of the US threw this "president" out of the White House. High time.
posted by tomcosgrave at 3:34 PM on September 12, 2005


/marks OC's post as best answer
posted by Miss Bitchy Pants at 3:36 PM on September 12, 2005


An emperor-has-no-clothes moment seems upon us

If there were any justice in this world, this would be an "emperor-has-no-clothes" for the entire hardcore conservative right that has been telling the rest of us that our morals suck- that social and religious tolerance is bad, that civil liberties are an indulgence that we can't afford, that dissention is "unAmerican", that corporations know best, that the poor and disenfranchised are that way only because of their own shortcomings, that government has no purpose other than doling out the pork, that judges are not allowed to examine the spirit of the law lest they be accused of "legislating from the bench", that might (rather than right) makes right, ad infinitum.

We have really fallen down the rabbit hole. One stain on a dry-cleaned dress, and there's no shortage of conservative pinheads willing to break the bank making a moral object lesson of the President. But Bush could load citizens on cattle cars (in the fight against terra, of course), and there would still be a large group claiming what a paragon of Christian virtue he is.

How anybody with any compassion can support this administration is simply beyond me.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:40 PM on September 12, 2005




A survey reported on cnn.com shows 43 percent approved of Bush's handling of the disaster as of Sep 8-11. A total of 431 out of 1005 is a minority, but still, WTF? I haven't heard too many rosy portraits coming from the media besides the staged photo-ops.

I can report from the hinterlands (as opposed to the internets) that awareness of the scale and breadth of the fuck-up is minimal.

This article is significant, showing that the media turn has legs. It wasn't just a one-week thing.

Most Presidents get a honeymoon -- usually 100 days or so. Bush's has lasted five years. Now he gets a taste of what Clinton received for eight years straight.

Now, who wants buttered popcorn?
posted by dhartung at 3:50 PM on September 12, 2005


Behold a President who has to be given a custom DVD of news clips because he knows less about the situation than someone watching CNN!

Well, in his defence, all presidents rely on staff members to filter news and events and give him briefings on the important events that he needs to know about. He shouldn't have time to sit in front or CNN all day absorbing what is often repeated and redundant information, he should be busy acting on the information given to him.

That being said, it's ultimately his responsibility to know what is going on, one way or another. If his staff isn't telling him what he needs to know in a timely fashon, or is giving him a view through rose colored glasses, he should replace them with someone who has the balls to tell it like it is.

Of course, it's sad that our president apparently can't read very well and needs someone to make him a movie as opposed to the usual method of written briefings.
posted by darkness at 3:51 PM on September 12, 2005


Someone should probably let pardonyou? know that troutfishing got ahold of his password.
posted by yhbc at 3:53 PM on September 12, 2005


The president says that he is not sure that global warming is a real threat. He says that he is not ready to do anything meaningful to prepare us for a threat that he's not certain is real. He tells us that he believes the science of global warming is in dispute. This is the same president who said last week, "Nobody could have predicted that the levees would break."
Al Gore on Katrina and Global Warming
posted by muckster at 4:06 PM on September 12, 2005


PP would be the first to point out that he, like Shrub, doesn't watch television. So there *is* actually a reason why he's so hopelessly out of touch with reality outside of right-wing news sites.

I mean, do you think he actually reads anything written on MeFi? He pops up every once in a while, tosses a BS grenade in a thread, then promptly runs away.
posted by clevershark at 4:07 PM on September 12, 2005


Allbaugh: "Many are concerned that federal disaster assistance may have evolved into both an oversized entitlement program...."

Heh.
posted by 31d1 at 4:14 PM on September 12, 2005


In spite of repeating warnings to resist responding to the ParisParamus, I must admit that I thought his posting was - at first - delivered on behalf of irony everywhere. But then, I remembered the repeated warnings to resist responding to the ParisParamus.

Then I read the article, and thought WOW, it really IS IRONY, cuz, you know, W's father ALSO fucked up deploying federal troops (this time to Homestead - wow, another economically depressed area).

But it was all a reality. Thanks Paris!
posted by Jazznoisehere at 4:15 PM on September 12, 2005




Just to put some things into perspective:

The article posted above, Federal response to Katrina Fastest of all hurricanes Ever, is by Jack Kelley. I am going to presume he is the same Jack Kelley that was exposed for making up his stories on the war in Iraq and terrorism. Yes? As an aside, not that it matters if he is a journalist, but the same Jack Kelley proclaims himself to be an avowed Evangelical Christian.

Well, in case you want the bio for the journalist that wrote the article for this FPP.

I'm just sayin...
posted by fluffycreature at 4:20 PM on September 12, 2005


"He shouldn't have time to sit in front or CNN all day absorbing what is often repeated and redundant information, he should be busy acting on the information given to him."

That's true, but if he'd had a TV on, on mute, with CNN running at all times, he might have actually seen what was going on.

Then again, maybe not.

I'm glad the press have finally found their fangs again. It looked like they'd left them in a jar somewhere. About time.
posted by zoogleplex at 4:23 PM on September 12, 2005


OC should work for the White House. He's no less believable and much more entertaining.

>golf clap<
posted by Mcable at 4:28 PM on September 12, 2005


What I got out of the article was that everyone screwed up, not just the President. Nagin calling an evacuation a day later than usual, Blanco not wanting to give up her authority over the evacuation, and Bush...well, I'm sure most of you can think of a few.
posted by Ron at 4:28 PM on September 12, 2005


fluffycreature writes "I am going to presume he is the same Jack Kelley that was exposed for making up his stories on the war in Iraq and terrorism. Yes?"

Nope.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:36 PM on September 12, 2005



Thanks mr_roboto...

fair enough.
posted by fluffycreature at 4:38 PM on September 12, 2005


You know, it seems to me that if Katrina had happened before 9/11 the response would have been completely different: "Oh no, horrible natural disaster. LET'S INVADE IRAQ".
posted by Eekacat at 4:48 PM on September 12, 2005


fluffycreature: "Thanks mr_roboto..."

I believe the proper phrasing is "Domo Arigato, mr_roboto."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:49 PM on September 12, 2005


darkness writes "Well, in his defence, all presidents rely on staff members to filter news and events and give him briefings on the important events that he needs to know about. He shouldn't have time to sit in front or CNN all day absorbing what is often repeated and redundant information, he should be busy acting on the information given to him.

My understanding was that he played video games and watched ESPN. Besides, Clinton was also president, also doing things more important than sitting in front of CNN all day, yet lo and behold he always managed to not only seem (which is actually pretty easy) but to be informed about the latest in local and world events.

Bush has made a habit of being uninformed, and it's cost him.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:51 PM on September 12, 2005


*picks self off floor, wipes eyes, belatedly kisses Optimus Chyme, resumes helpless gigglinig*
posted by scody at 5:02 PM on September 12, 2005


consensus reality? Isn't that an oxymoron or something. What, are we voting on what reality is now?
posted by Carbolic at 5:12 PM on September 12, 2005


No.
posted by 31d1 at 5:17 PM on September 12, 2005


He says that he is not ready to do anything meaningful to prepare us for a threat that he's not certain is real.

A wild departure from his usual record of basing most of his decisions on complete fantasies.
posted by juiceCake at 5:32 PM on September 12, 2005


fluffycreature writes "I am going to presume he is the same Jack Kelley that was exposed for making up his stories on the war in Iraq and terrorism. Yes?"

Nope.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:36 PM PST on September 12


But just because they're not the same person doesn't mean they're not both totally full of shit.

(Also thanks everyone for the kind words; I am blushing.)
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:50 PM on September 12, 2005


Here is something that bothers me: How this could be—how the president of the United States could have even less "situational awareness," as they say in the military, than the average American about the worst natural disaster in a century..
But I guess the tsunami happened to the brown people, so it does not count...
posted by c13 at 5:58 PM on September 12, 2005


Brown people who weren't Americans, that is.
posted by Hildegarde at 6:25 PM on September 12, 2005


The right wing meme is "Why didn't the mayor command the school buses (the ones in the picture we all know) pick up everyone who was poor and sick and weak and addicted and in jail and dying and drive them out of town before Katrina hit. See, it is all the mayor's fault. That, my friends, is the best they can do.

But they have the picture of the school buses in the water and they see a inch of traction - just enough to spin, spin, spin...
posted by trii at 6:46 PM on September 12, 2005


Carbolic,

Objective reality, for all practical proposes, is the synthesis of all possible points of view. PP's is a part of that whole, however the idea that the Federal response was 'snappy' is not credible when considered against the majority POV.
posted by kuatto at 7:02 PM on September 12, 2005


What I got out of the article was that everyone screwed up, not just the President. Nagin calling an evacuation a day later than usual, Blanco not wanting to give up her authority over the evacuation, and Bush...well, I'm sure most of you can think of a few.

This struck me as well. As far as Nagin goes, the article says he ordered the evacuation of N.O. a day later than the rest of the region, which could be seen as a bad decision, but it's a much bigger decision for a city that size rather than the small towns of the other region. I don't give him a free pass, but I haven't read anything particularly damning.

What keeps coming up is the governor Blanco's refusal to hand over control to the feds. Why? Why would she care if the feds took temporary control if it meant getting the job done? There's talk that Bush was strongarming her into doing this, but this whole power struggle doesn't really make sense to me. Also Blanco seems to have been vague with her request for aid--she even admitted she just pulled a number out of her ass for troop deployment. She's not looking too competent herself...

This is the beginning of the end of the Thugs in D.C. '06 and '08, fresh blood, just watch.
posted by zardoz at 7:10 PM on September 12, 2005


The pretzeldent doesn't have time to read the news? Anyone who has time to take about seven (multi-week) vacations a year has time to read the goddamn WaPo and NY Times. But excuse us for mistaking the Leader of the Free World as someone who should give a shit.

Oh, and for all you brave journalists finally outing Dumbya for the stupid rat he is - Five years too late.
WTF ever.

Every time I think about this guy being pretzeldent for eight long years, with 3.5 more on the clock, I want to curl into the fetal position and have someone stroke my head.

But at least optimus made me laugh, with fenriq getting honorable mention for
I wouldn't be surprised if he started everyday with "What's the news and leave out the bad stuff?"
posted by NorthernLite at 7:13 PM on September 12, 2005


"The right wing meme is "Why didn't the mayor command the school buses (the ones in the picture we all know) pick up everyone..."

It's my understanding that they couldn't find people to drive the school buses. I read (I can't remember where) that most of the school bus drivers were afraid to drive- either because of the weather or because they were afraid of the passengers. I guess I buy the weather reason more than the afraid-of-passengers reason, because isn't a busload of rambunctious elementary school kids pretty scary anyways?

The other thing is, think about typical bus drivers- in my experience, they're moms with school-age kids. It's an ideal job for a mom because she doesn't have to worry about her work hours conflicting with being at home for her kids.

In all the chaos of evacuating the city, I'd be willing to bet that the last thing on any school bus driver's mind was "okay, gotta go to work."

Perhaps, had bus drivers been told in advance that in the event of a hurricane they would be asked to shuttle people out of town, the buses would have gone out. But as far as I know, in the NOLA plan there wasn't any such provision.

If anyone can find evidence to confirm or debunk anything I said here, please post it!
posted by elisabeth r at 7:14 PM on September 12, 2005


I'm not going to involve myself in any debate here - but the fact that the phrase "How Bush Blew It" in a major news magazine - followed, indeed, by incontrovertible evidence of him having done so - is progress no matter how you look at it. Hopefully his response to Katrina will shock his supporters into a more realistic position... assuming they can read.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 7:15 PM on September 12, 2005


Also, look what just popped up on my RSS reader!

"Jack Kelly column littered with Katrina falsehoods"
posted by elisabeth r at 7:32 PM on September 12, 2005


Federal response to Katrina Fastest of all Hurricaines Ever
posted by ParisParamus at 2:17 PM PST on September 12 [!]


Yup. Amazing how one can put words on the internet and think that somehow that is action.

Aug 28th, ACTION was taken!
posted by rough ashlar at 7:38 PM on September 12, 2005


posted by pardonyou? at 5:04 PM EST

Wow, this event truly is a turning point in American politics.
posted by mkultra at 7:38 PM on September 12, 2005


zardoz: When talking about the governer and her power, there are really two seperate things to consider, control of the military (the national guard) and control of civilian relief (brining in supplys to feed people, bussing people out). She gave the fed total authority to do the second, while keeping control of the guard. I think.
posted by delmoi at 7:39 PM on September 12, 2005


Agreed, BLF. This is written like a blog - no fear of retribution. It's very refreshing indeed.

But it wouldn't be unfair to describe the Post-Gazette's philosophy as generally liberal on social issues and more conservative on economic issues. Traditionally the newspaper has supported racial equality, civil liberties, separation of church and state, women's rights, an internationalist foreign policy (including free trade), protection of the environment, good schools and a more consolidated approach to local government. - From the Editorial FAQ
Hm. Looks like Paris is a closet liberal.
posted by hoborg at 7:45 PM on September 12, 2005


There were, IIRC, around 100,000 people who weren't able/willing to make it out of New Orleans. Given that each school bus, IIRC, holds around 50 adults tops, you'd need 2,000 buses and commercially licensed drivers willing to do the job that haven't, as elisabeth r pointed out, gotten the hell out themselves.

Finally, school buses are lighter than touring buses (e.g., Greyhound), and more prone to tip under high winds. Any evacuation would have to be done well before the hurricane made landfall, as 150mph winds means 150mph projectiles. Anyone not quick enough to outrun it (about 10mph as the crow flies) dies in a hail of debris. This is a hurricane which hurled shipping containers like cardboard boxes.

The evacuation plan was immoral in its lack of alternatives for people without money or cars, but pictures of sunken school buses hardly counts as a rhetorical counter to Bush's slaughter of FEMA.

(Katrina made me realize that I actually had some faith in Bush - how can you be disappointed unless you were expecting something?)
posted by Coda at 7:49 PM on September 12, 2005


Someone should probably let pardonyou? know that troutfishing got ahold of his password.

Wait a minute ... I supposedly posted what?

No, it's all me. I'm a lifelong Dem, and haven't voted for Bush either time (or any of the four times, if you prefer). But I was somewhat impressed by Bush's resolve and strength post-9/11, when resolution and strength were needed. That was about the extent of my contentment, but that was enough ... for a while. And frankly, when most of the criticism is of the "he says nuk-u-lar" and "the man can't eat a pretzel" variety, it's pretty easy to disregard. Gradually, however, over the last six months/year, even the slim respect I had for the man started to erode, as he and his administration have demonstrated that they are completely tone deaf and increasingly arrogant. On a personal level, the Katrina debacle is the straw that broke the camel's back, and this article is like taking that broken back and giving it one final twist. What begrudging admiration I had was based on his ability to lead in a crisis and make tough decisions when no one else wants to.

So much for that.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:58 PM on September 12, 2005


The funny thing - OK, another funny thing - about Optimus Chyme's super-blitzkrieg of fantasy is that, relative to Bush's true actions, it's much closer to describing what Al Gore was actually doing.

I'm tellin' ya, "Al 2008," folks.
posted by soyjoy at 8:11 PM on September 12, 2005


She gave the fed total authority to do the second, while keeping control of the guard. I think.

delmoi: Yeah, but why? Why was it so important for her to maintain "control" over the state? If more can be done by turning it over to the feds, then why not? And it's just temporary at that...did she have a better plan? This just doesn't make sense to me.
posted by zardoz at 8:52 PM on September 12, 2005


" Yet it was obvious to anyone watching TV that New Orleans had turned into a Third World hellhole."
That's way unfair. Most of the 'Third World" wouldn't have abandoned its citizens like that.
posted by signal at 8:58 PM on September 12, 2005


turning it over to the feds, then why not?

two angles:

1) When one has power, you don't give it up.

2) To sign over power to the feds does not mean they will return the power at any other time in the future.

Either fear should be reason enough.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:07 PM on September 12, 2005


I'm tellin' ya, "Al 2008," folks.

I'll settle for him being the neo-Carter. Duke it out with Clinton.

We need fresh blood like you wouldn't believe.
posted by hackly_fracture at 9:16 PM on September 12, 2005


i think that once you hand something over to the feds, it's hard to get it back. i think the governor is smart to think long-term.
posted by centrs at 9:18 PM on September 12, 2005


As I said the last time this was posted:

From the Newsweek article:

But it is not clear what President Bush does read or watch, aside from the occasional biography and an hour or two of ESPN here and there. Bush can be petulant about dissent; he equates disagreement with disloyalty. After five years in office, he is surrounded largely by people who agree with him.


And this is exactly why in olden days Kings had Court Jesters, because they were surrounded by fawning sycophants who were afraid to tell the king anything negative for fear of the Royal Wrath.

So maybe there needs to be a new cabinet post: The Truth Tsar.

Perhaps a Democrat should shadow him all day and whisper into his ear. Because clearly Bush is clueless and nobody on his staff has the balls to clue him in.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:25 PM on September 12, 2005


turning it over to the feds, then why not?

A few more:

3) Greed: Being able to say that she led the troops personally is a great political win. Conversely, handing over power would be exploited by an opponent (A female Democrat weak on military issues in the South?).

4) Ignorance: She could have thought that she was doing just a dandy job. Any replacement would have to take some time to get up to speed.

5) Mistrust: The Fed has botched their end up so far, why take the risk of handing them the whole thing?
posted by catachresoid at 9:31 PM on September 12, 2005


These days, I have to begin everything I say the same way:

I hate president Bush. I've hated him since I saw him in the republican primaries. BUT....

I think the pile-on is a little premature. It's still a bit early, the evacuation is still going on. Let's wait for some data; if the malfeasance that some feel happened, happened, then I'm sure it will stand up to the light of sober analysis. I don't think we know very much yet, and the blood-in-the-water eagerness to bring Bush down could end up backfiring. Remeber what happened when they tried to impeach Clinton? The next midterm elections, to the shock of all (but me), the Republicans got an unpleasant surprise. If we push too hard with arguments that aren't fully formed, we run the risk of turning a scoundrel into a martyr. I'm confident enough in the truth to give it time to play out.

In that vein, I thought this article was laughably biased. Once again: "I hate president Bush, BUT...". Consider this passage:

Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, didn't want to evacuate. New Orleanians have a fatalistic streak; their joyful, jazz-blowing street funeral processions are legendary. After many near misses over the years since Hurricane Betsy flooded 20 percent of the city in 1965, longtime residents prefer to stay put.

Isn't that quaint? Sounds like Ray Nagin thinks from his gut, too. How folksy. I wonder how many people died due to these legendary traditions.

How about:

Liberals will say they were indifferent to the plight of poor African-Americans. It is true that Katrina laid bare society's massive neglect of its least fortunate. The inner thoughts and motivations of Bush and his top advisers are impossible to know for certain.

"Is Clinton a cannabilistic satan worshipper? We really can't say for sure. After all, we're not mind-readers." That's like Fox News' favorite source: "Some say...". I'd sure like to meet this nattering idiot named Some. Anyone who thinks that the press has suddenly gotten better isn't really paying attention. They've just redirected their stupidity to the other side of the fence.

My problem with enjoying Pile-On '05 is that it relies on the same kind of sloppy thinking that I've been loudly complaining about for the last five years. I'd be a hypocrite if I was outraged at the last five years of bullshit but I didn't pay it mind when it just happened to be in my favor. Part of the whole reason I hate Bush is for his bullshit and mendacity. Don't play their game, people.

Note that I'm not going into detail about any particular arguments; I'm just talking about a general trend. But my turning point was Kanye West's choice words, and Jesse Jackson's tirade against the word "refugee". Not to mention some of the FPPs here the last week (weather machines anyone?). It's time to just settle down and work things out in a levelheaded fashion. If we act frenzied, it becomes all the easier to dismiss us.
posted by Edgewise at 9:32 PM on September 12, 2005


User ParisParamus added to blacklist.
Refresh page to see changes.




Aaaaaaaaaaaaah.
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 9:38 PM on September 12, 2005



I hate president Bush. I've hated him since I saw him in the republican primaries. BUT....
I sure as hell won't vote for anyone he endorses an any election.
I guess I really didn't need the 'but'.
posted by Balisong at 9:40 PM on September 12, 2005


I think the pile-on is a little premature. It's still a bit early, the evacuation is still going on.

Doesn't that tell you anything? That 2 WEEKS LATER, they still haven't gotten to everyone (or their body)? How long should we wait? Til Ophelia comes ashore? Til we get attacked again? Til another 4 hurricanes in a row but not in FL? Please let us know when the appropriate time to ensure this never ever happens again is.
posted by amberglow at 9:57 PM on September 12, 2005


Edgewise, it's a pile-on because to most people, the sober analysis of the situation is pretty damn obvious: Bush fucked up royally. Where do you see sloppy thinking? Maybe if you could actually go into detail about particular arguments, we could sift through them, as levelheaded as possible.
posted by muckster at 9:59 PM on September 12, 2005


Bravo, Edgewise.
posted by dreamsign at 10:09 PM on September 12, 2005


Soyjoy - AL 2008 indeed. At risk of a derail, why isn't Gore a legitamate 2008 candidate? Askme potential?

I don't know.
posted by AllesKlar at 10:18 PM on September 12, 2005


why isn't Gore a legitamate 2008 candidate? Askme potential?

With McCain on one side and Feindgold on the other, there is no room for Al.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:34 PM on September 12, 2005


At risk of a derail, why isn't Gore a legitimate 2008 candidate?

Well he ran away from Clinton which was an idiotic move. If you're vice president when your country's economy is booming and you can't win an election, then there's no reason to believe that you can ever win an election.
posted by rdr at 10:34 PM on September 12, 2005


amberglow:

How long should we wait? Til Osama comes ashore? Til we get attacked again? Til another 4 terrorist attacks in a row but not in FL? Please let us know when the appropriate time to ensure this never ever happens again is.

Sorry, we'll never be safe again. We have to learn that we can never stamp out terrorism.

Or something like that.

muckster:

The sloppiness is just that we still know very little about all this, and yet we are making such strong conclusions. What is a reasonable reaction time in this situation? I'm not sure I can say, yet. I would like to see more comparisons to reaction times in other disasters. Not just in terms of how long it took the first people to get there, but how long it took a significant number to arrive.

For instance, I can imagine it could take a while to mobilize national guard in unaffected states. What kind of authority does the president have over that? These are state run forces, that is my understanding. There are chains of command involved, and you don't just throw those out the window in a crisis. In fact, you need that to keep from dissolving into worse chaos.

How many guardsmen did the situation actually require? How long does it take to mobilize them? What are the chains of command? What are various party's jurisdictions? For instance, it seems that New Orleans evacuation plans were a responsibility of New Orleans. I can imagine that there may be fault in the mayor for not putting together a serious plan, and not letting Washington know it might need more resources. From what I've seen, this actually seems to be probable.

Look, I'm raising some of this as devil's advocate. I do happen to think that there were federal mistakes. Some of them seem obvious even now, like Brown's appointment. And it does seem to me that FEMA and DHS in general should have been coordinating interstate resources in the region. For a day before Katrina made landfall, nobody knew for sure what state it would hit! The various states should have been prepared to work together, and the federal government should have helped coordinate that. In addition, federal resources should have been deployed ahead of time.

What's also indisputable is that a lot of people knew this was possible since 2002. That puts blame on a lot of shoulders, and the number of parties in no way diminishes individual responsibility. Most people aren't even talking about the obvious: the levees. By raising the levees, the entire disaster, with all the loss of lives and livelihoods, could have been avoided. It would have been expensive, but a quick look at the numbers should have justified it. From what I can tell, this project is beyond the scope of city of state, and the levees are in fact the responsibility of the Army Corps of Engineers.

But even this is just my current line of thought. It's early! We don't know what the bodycount is, or any of the stats I mentioned. I strongly suspect that the federal response was slow and lackluster. But how slow? How bad was it really? In this frenzy, not only are people's arguments half-formed, but they are missing the more interesting angle of the levees, and the reports in 2002 about "filling the bowl".

I think if the opposition to Bush really wants to be most effective, the best strategy is to calm down, and base its arguments on things we can say for sure. In a month, we might learn enough about emergency management that it turns out the Bush bungle wasn't as bad as we thought. Then you know what happens? He bounces back up. This guy has profited greatly by exceeding low expectations.

But even that is beside the point. I just want to know what happened. If I decide I know what happened this early in the game, it will be harder to change my mind later as I learn more.
posted by Edgewise at 10:56 PM on September 12, 2005


balisong:

I never said I voted for him in any election. I voted Clinton, then Gore, then Kerry, and I'm independent. As though that matters; my arguments don't depend on my political credentials.
posted by Edgewise at 11:06 PM on September 12, 2005


The funny thing - OK, another funny thing - about Optimus Chyme's super-blitzkrieg of fantasy is that, relative to Bush's true actions, it's much closer to describing what Al Gore was actually doing.

Damn. Go Al.
posted by kosher_jenny at 11:57 PM on September 12, 2005




I believe the proper phrasing is "Domo Arigato, mr_roboto."

We also would have accepted "Thank you very much, mr_roboto."
posted by sudama at 6:04 AM on September 13, 2005


As for any links to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, everyone DOES know the paper is wholly owned by Richard Mellon Scaife and what that means in terms of political credibility?

Gore 2008? Haven't you heard? Gore lacks gravitas. George Will (and a thousand other GOP press stenographers) said so therefore it must be true.
posted by nofundy at 7:02 AM on September 13, 2005


Edwards 08, definitely (maybe with Obama?)
posted by amberglow at 7:06 AM on September 13, 2005


I'd like to take Gore seriously...can somebody tell me I hallucinated those huffy, impatient loud sighs of his during the debates?
posted by alumshubby at 7:33 AM on September 13, 2005


I mean this in the best way, alumshubby, but why do you care? Does getting annoyed with debating an idiot make someone incompetent?
posted by dame at 7:51 AM on September 13, 2005


If you're vice president when your country's economy is booming and you can't win an election, then there's no reason to believe that you can ever win an election.

This is sound logic. Except for the fact that he did win the election.

Granted that Al 2008 is probably an impossibility for a number of reasons. But just about everything he's done since Bush was appointed president has shown the marked distinction, pretty much absolutely opposite in fact, between the two men and their styles of operating. This was just one more.
posted by soyjoy at 7:58 AM on September 13, 2005



posted by matteo at 8:07 AM on September 13, 2005


Wall Street Journal: Documents Reveal Extent of Fumbles On Storm Relief
"As the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency stepped down yesterday, government documents surfaced showing that vital resources, such as buses and environmental health specialists, weren't deployed to the Gulf region for several days, even after federal officials seized control of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

...internal documents and emails from FEMA and other government agencies dating back to Aug. 31 and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show the extent to which the federal government bungled its response to the hurricane. The documents highlight serious deficiencies in the Department of Homeland Security's National Response Plan, a post-Sept. 11 playbook on how to deal with catastrophic events. Mr. Chertoff activated the National Response Plan last Tuesday by declaring the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina an 'Incident of National Significance.'

The plan, which was rolled out to much fanfare in January, essentially enables Washington to move federal assets to the disaster without waiting for requests from state officials. It then funnels help from all federal agencies through a single point of contact -- usually the secretary of homeland security -- a reform demanded after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

In one instance, federal environmental health specialists, who were charged with protecting both rescue workers and evacuees, weren't called in by the Department of Homeland Security until Sunday -- 12 days after the Occupational Safety & Health Administration announced it had teams from various agencies standing by ready to assist. Even now, with mounting evidence of environmental problems, the deployment is being held up by continuing interagency wrangling, according to officials at the National Institutes of Health, which also is involved in the effort.

Homeland Security officials said that when Mr. Chertoff declared Katrina a nationally significant event, all provisions of the National Response Plan -- including ones for health and safety -- were activated. 'This is the first test of the NRP and we will have lessons learned,' said Valerie Smith, a department spokeswoman.

In addition, FEMA's official requests, known as tasking assignments and used by the agency to demand help from other government agencies, show that it first asked the Department of Transportation to look for buses to help evacuate the more than 20,000 people who had taken refuge at the Superdome in New Orleans at 1:45 a.m. on Aug. 31. At the time, it only asked for 455 buses and 300 ambulances for the enormous task. Almost 18 hours later, it canceled the request for the ambulances because it turned out, as one FEMA employee put it, 'the DOT doesn't do ambulances.'

FEMA ended up modifying the number of buses it thought it needed to get the job done, until it settled on a final request of 1,355 buses at 8:05 p.m. on Sept. 3. The buses, though, trickled into New Orleans, with only a dozen or so arriving on the first day.

Hours before FEMA realized that it needed buses, Jonathan L. Snare, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, said he was prepared to offer the full resources of the agency to help protect the safety and health of workers responding to Katrina.

Health and safety experts play an important role by testing the environment at a disaster for toxins, disease and pathogens. They then advise rescue workers about needs for protective clothing for themselves as well as for the people they are trying to move from harm's way.

The National Response Plan gives OSHA responsibility to coordinate efforts to protect and monitor disaster workers and victims from environmental hazards.

But the part of the plan that authorizes OSHA's role as coordinator and allows it to mobilize experts from other agencies such as NIH wasn't activated by FEMA until shortly before 5 p.m. Sunday. The delay came despite repeated efforts by the agencies to mobilize.

Attempts by officials at NIH to reach FEMA officials and send them briefing materials by email failed as the agency's server failed.

'I noticed that every email to a FEMA person bounced back this week. They need a better internet provider during disasters!!' one frustrated Department of Health official wrote to colleagues last Thursday.

By Friday, experts and officials from NIH, the Department of Labor and the Environmental Protection Agency began to make frantic calls to the Department of Homeland Security and members of Congress, demanding that the worker-safety portion of the national response plan be activated.

No reason has been offered by either FEMA or the Department of Homeland Security for the delay in activating OSHA's role.

Some Homeland Security officials are already starting to acknowledge significant weaknesses in the national response plan, which was completely disregarded at times during the crisis." [Wall Street Journal - requires subscription | September 13, 2005]
posted by ericb at 8:09 AM on September 13, 2005


dame: because it made him seem like a total dick. Of course, now I've had over four years to consider the alternative to merely seeming like one...
posted by alumshubby at 8:21 AM on September 13, 2005


Actually, the most damning quote from Bush, I thought, was his response to finally getting the message of what was actually going on: "Fix it." He doesn't seem to have any ideas HOW to fix it, nor does the knowledge inspire him to find out more and to roll up his sleeves and get to work. No, he just wants it to go away. He wants someone else to deal with it.
posted by papercake at 8:21 AM on September 13, 2005


Wow. Thanks for answering, alumshubby. Now, I'm not going to miss my opportunity to shut up.
posted by dame at 8:43 AM on September 13, 2005


Okay, let's just analyse one quote from the Newsweek article:
"But it is not clear what President Bush does read or watch, aside from the occasional biography and an hour or two of ESPN here and there."

An ambivalent statement "it is not clear..." followed by a disingenously selective "fact" wrapped around the snigger implicit in "here and there".

And the chorus of ditto-heads on this thread call this reporting?

Don't trust me. Go through the wretched article yourselves and see how often this trick is used.

I do not for one minute suggest there weren't disgraceful screw-ups at the local AND federal level with disgusting, tragic results.

But how most here can't spot the faked "intimate details of a president's thought processes" inserted into the article, I honestly don't know.

It's the same old hack routine used in a million Princess Di/celebrity journalism pieces which flatters the readers into thinking they're getting some higher truth.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:01 AM on September 13, 2005


He doesn't seem to have any ideas HOW to fix it, nor does the knowledge inspire him to find out more and to roll up his sleeves and get to work. No, he just wants it to go away. He wants someone else to deal with it.

He wants his HARD workers to get to work and work Hard! So that then they can all go back on vacation.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:09 AM on September 13, 2005


Jody, I totally understand what you're saying, and I agree that that aspect of the article is thin on verified facts; however, in every biographical snippet of Bush I've read, left and right, much is made of his aversion to getting the news from the regular press that you and I have access to, and that it's usually filtered through aides and such. Most on the right see this as him being a big-picture guy who's too busy to sit down with the NY Times or WSJ or The Advocate or whatever and most on the left see this as him being out of touch or stupid or careless.

But the point is that the idea that he's not a big consumer of news isn't exactly an extraordinary claim. If there's evidence that President Bush is more like Clinton - voracious reader par excellence - I'd like to see it.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:23 AM on September 13, 2005


Bush now, um, takes responsibility for the federal government's failure w/r/t Katrina.
posted by swift at 10:31 AM on September 13, 2005


I believe that's called "fluffing" in the stenographer trade Jody. :-)
posted by nofundy at 10:46 AM on September 13, 2005


So does that mean that he's going to do the honorable thing and resign?
posted by bshort at 10:51 AM on September 13, 2005


Optimus,
That - in a nutshell - is the problem with this underhand reportage. These cute little details are somehow always playing to the most useful caricature - instead of, say, tweaking it - so you end up with what appears to be a devastating portrait of one helluva stupid immoral racist shit for the purposes of this particular "objective" Newsweek article.
Perhaps Bush IS all of the above - and I certainly won't hold my breath waiting for revelations that he devours Hegel under the bedclothes. But I do resent being lead by the nose to form these conclusions on the back of a hideous national tragedy.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:57 AM on September 13, 2005


I believe that's called "fluffing" in the stenographer trade Jody. :-)
posted by nofundy at 10:46 AM PST on September 13 [!]

Nah, in my celebrity junket days we used to call it "shoving in a load of old crap from clips" - though it probably meant the same thing.:)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:07 AM on September 13, 2005


I'm amazed they criticized him. I really thought they could have photos of him taking food from babies mouths and never criticize him. I had really given up on this country.
posted by xammerboy at 1:25 PM on September 13, 2005


One more thing. I could not believe the nerve of this guy coming back late from vacation to tell the private sector that they would have to do their part and it was going to be hard work. Is there any job in the world where you could take as much vacation as this guy, with his hours, and still consider being hard work? And bringing Clinton back to solve the problem - nice. Surreal.
posted by xammerboy at 1:30 PM on September 13, 2005


Jody Tresidder: Okay, let's just analyse one quote from the Newsweek article: "But it is not clear what President Bush does read or watch, aside from the occasional biography and an hour or two of ESPN here and there."

Well, the following from Brian Williams, NBC News, appears to validate at least one of the "intimate details" of the President's personal life mentioned in Newsweek's article:
"The President told me the last time I spent time with him that he does not watch the evening newscasts...and prefers instead to watch ESPN or 'any baseball game' on television..."
posted by ericb at 2:35 PM on September 13, 2005


We also learned that President Bush's summer reading list included 'Salt: A World History' by Mark Kurlansky, 'Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar by Edvard Radzinsky' and 'The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague' in History by John M. Barry.

So, I think such "intimate details" as portrayed in the Newsweek story can be considered accurate.
posted by ericb at 2:49 PM on September 13, 2005


much is made of his aversion to getting the news from the regular press that you and I have access to

OC, you're right ... and from upthread:
"Bush was asked how he gets his news. Answer: He relies on briefings by chief of staff Andrew Card and national security affairs adviser Condoleezza Rice.

He walks into the Oval Office in the morning, Bush said, and asks Card: 'What's in the newspapers worth worrying about? I glance at the headlines just to kind of (get) a flavor of what's moving,' Bush said. 'I rarely read the stories,' he said."
posted by ericb at 2:54 PM on September 13, 2005


Think he still wears those footie pajamas with the slippers built in?
posted by Smedleyman at 3:55 PM on September 13, 2005


"The Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a report Tuesday afternoon asserting that Louisiana governor Katherine Blanco took the necessary and timely steps needed to secure disaster relief from the federal government....'This report closes the book on the Bush Administration's attempts to evade accountability,' [Rep. John] Conyers said in a statement. 'The Bush Administration was caught napping at a critical time.' ...The full report will be available soon on the House Democrats' Judiciary website." [source]
posted by ericb at 4:14 PM on September 13, 2005


Here's the report [PDF]
posted by kirkaracha at 7:13 PM on September 13, 2005




perfect!
posted by amberglow at 7:23 PM on September 13, 2005


Oh, that's fine then.

So Newsweek extrapolates general comments by Bush about his day-to-day news gathering habits. Then inserts them into an "inside scoop" piece specifically about the timeline of a specific disaster and the reaction of various agencies as crucial events unfolded.

And - what - this dazzling display of "reporting" is supposed to somehow direct us to the proper conclusion about the moron who blew it?

I mean, based on ericb's point - gee, maybe Bush was watching a baseball match during Katrina?

I was also struck by the cunning meld of the conditional, wild supposition and sorrowful reproach in the following piece of Newsweek "reporting": "Bush might not have appeared so carefree if he had been able to see the fearful faces on some young police officers—the ones who actually showed up for roll call at the New Orleans Second District police headquarters that morning."

Anyone else care to have a go at Newsweek style?
You certainly don't need anything as piffling as facts.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:09 PM on September 13, 2005


Bush was watching a baseball match

We call them "baseball games." Elsewhere -- there are "cricket matches," etc. ;-)
posted by ericb at 8:26 PM on September 13, 2005


Very stupid error (groan). Thanks, ericb.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:33 PM on September 13, 2005


gee, maybe Bush was watching a baseball match during Katrina?

Well -- he may have been watching a baseball "game," but he surely wasn't paying attention to the "real world" around him.

We now know that he had no fucking clue as to what was going on in the Gulf Coast. It wasn't until Thursday (four days after the hurricane and the first breach of a levee) -- that, after having watched a DVD compilation of previous days news reports, he fucking "got it."
"The reality, say several aides who did not wish to be quoted because it might displease the president, did not really sink in until Thursday night. Some White House staffers were watching the evening news and thought the president needed to see the horrific reports coming out of New Orleans. Counselor Bartlett made up a DVD of the newscasts so Bush could see them in their entirety as he flew down to the Gulf Coast the next morning on Air Force One." [Newsweek]
posted by ericb at 8:36 PM on September 13, 2005


You certainly don't need anything as piffling as facts.

By all means, please address the factual errors -- one by one -- in the Newsweek article. We await your summary.
posted by ericb at 8:43 PM on September 13, 2005


I'll still vote for the Harrison Ford/John McCain ticket, any day!
posted by Balisong at 12:06 AM on September 14, 2005


you know, Denzel Washington is a Republican, too
posted by matteo at 2:11 AM on September 14, 2005


If you can lay off the adololescent cursing ericb "ooh, look how mad I am - feel my inarticulate political outrage!!!" or your gracelessness in pointing out my stupid "baseball match" mistake for a second time after I've acknowledged it:
There isn't much fact in the Newsweek paragraph I cited. So I'll cite it for you again."Bush might not have appeared so carefree if he had been able to see the fearful faces on some young police officers—the ones who actually showed up for roll call at the New Orleans Second District police headquarters that morning

The "appearance" of Bush being "carefree" is an empty but loaded description expanded from the authors' own equally loaded previous reference to Bush apparently conducting himself "blithely" (more little vague sly details which add up to a portrait of a clueless, heartless moron and are nothing to do with facts). This alleged carefree appearance could not have been punctured by gazing into the anxious eyes of junior NO cop (note how the authors casually wander into state - not federal - responsibility by mentioning the NO awol cops scandal) because Bush wasn't THERE to gaze into their anxious eyes.

My whole beef is with the ditto-heads who have cheered the Newsweek article as some sort of inner circle expose of Bush-as-moron. When the technique used to add those touches of up close and personal authenticity are the oldest hack tricks in the book. ("Princess Di might not have appeared so carefree if she'd been able to gaze into the heart of Camilla Parker Bowles as she welcomed her to Kensington Palace...").

It matters a great deal because Katrina has killed so many people and stolen so much from the lives of others. This sort of shabby, tricksy innuendo belongs in unimportant gossip page blind items.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 4:29 AM on September 14, 2005


inner circle expose of Bush-as-moron

Well all along many Americans have considered him a moron!
posted by ericb at 4:48 AM on September 14, 2005


FEMA outsources mobile morgues ...While the mind-numbing debate over Bush's culpability for the deaths in the Gulf rages on, he's already awarding contracts to his family friends: "Waltrip, chairman of [Service Corporation International] SCI, is a longtime friend of Bush's father, former President George Herbert Walker Bush. The firm's political action committee donated $45,000 to George W. Bush's 1994 gubernatorial campaign.

But the fun doesn't end there. These folks aren't exactly the model of integrity:

"The Menorah Gardens cemetery chain, owned by SCI, desecrated vaults, removed hundreds of bodies from two cemeteries in Florida and dumped the gruesome remains in woods frequented by wild hogs, investigators discovered in 2001. In one case, a backhoe was used to crack open a vault, remove corpses and make room for more dead bodies."

"SCI paid $100 million to settle a lawsuit filed by outraged family members of the deceased."
...

posted by amberglow at 5:30 AM on September 14, 2005


Ericb; It is, of course, your privilege to be impressed by a big pile of Newsweek words that dishonestly confirm a caricature conclusion.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 5:40 AM on September 14, 2005


Something that must be also mentioned is that reporters have known for years and years that Bush is snappish and cold and distant and insulated, etc---and not at all the jovial, popular, regular guy you'd want to have a beer with, etc, that they portrayed him as--but never once thought it important to tell us.

You really have to wonder why only now--not during the elections, or when he was first running, etc--is this truth about his personality being revealed?
posted by amberglow at 5:53 AM on September 14, 2005


FFF just added this to the Brown Resigns thread. I think anyone still reading this one should see it. It's almost FPP-level, but I ain't gonna take the rap for that.

Chertoff delayed federal response, memo shows
The federal official with the power to mobilize a massive federal response to Hurricane Katrina was Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, not the former FEMA chief who was relieved of his duties and resigned earlier this week, federal documents reviewed by Knight Ridder show.
posted by soyjoy at 9:49 AM on September 14, 2005


I thought I posted this before but I guess I forgot to hit Post....

Jody, I couldn't agree more. The article can't really be called reporting, it is really just an opinion piece disguised as some kind of expose. I don't mind opinion pieces when they are honest about it, although ultimately, I prefer facts.

On that note, thanks to amberglow for the link to the article about the lack of "incident of national significance" declaration. See, THOSE are facts. I have to look into this some more. Honestly, I hope it turns out that Bush is horribly responsible for what happened. I just don't want to let my own bias get ahead of the available information or logic.
posted by Edgewise at 5:45 PM on September 14, 2005


here's another fact for you: Key military help for victims of Hurricane Katrina was delayed -- Two days after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, President Bush went on national television to announce a massive federal rescue and relief effort.

But orders to move didn't reach key active military units for another three days.

Once they received them, it took just eight hours for 3,600 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., to be on the ground in Louisiana and Mississippi with vital search-and-rescue helicopters. Another 2,500 soon followed from the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas. ...

posted by amberglow at 8:11 AM on September 18, 2005


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