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September 01, 2005

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Comments

richard mcenroe

That port serves more than just New Orleans, or even Louisiana; it must be restored as soon as possible.


Restoring the cultural district makes fiscal sense because that will bring outside revenue back into the city as soon as possible.

You simply have to build housing if you want someplace to put your workers, so that's also a gotta-do.

Don't shortchange the willingness of Americans to help those who obviously need it, as opposed to objecting to funding improbable dreams of social engineering (remember Cabrini Green, anyone?)

Harry Arthur

Perhaps we could try an experiment: For low income workers, highly subsidized, low cost housing owned by the occupant through payment of a monthly mortgage payment. Hopefully outside of the predominant flood plane, though that may be too much to expect.

This rebuilding effort may just be an opportunity to get it right in many areas as richard suggests.

Barry Dauphin

Given the scope of the situation and the possibility that this relief/rebuilding question will percolate for a while, it is possible that this issue might become big for the 2006 elections, if not the big issue. Even though it affects the Gulf Coast, all Senators and Congressmen will have to declare whether they are for rebuild or not and the American taxpayer will be asked to foot most of the bill. Everyone will have a stake.

Etienne

This will change the political landscape as much as it did the physical one. It raises issues of:

- the role the American people want their federal government to play, i.e. do they really want to live with the consequences of a "starved beast".

- the attitudes of America towards its poor. How shocking to see just how third world so much of our own country really is. Is this the America we pride ourselves on? If anyone had ever doubted that poverty is a life an death issue, they can't do that any longer.

- the contrast between how easily funds are appropriated for nation building in Iraq, while politicians hem and haw about the "practicality" of undertaking a similar project for our own citizens.\\

-the instantaneous rise in oil prices by oil companies already drowning in profit, unimpeded by the federal government. Explanations of simple "supply and demand mechanics' will fall on deaf ears as prices fail to EVER return to pre-hurricane levels, a scenario all Americans are now all too hip to.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. The fact that this catastrophe is affecting Southern states so directly adds an additional factor of unpredictabiility.

Jim E.

"In the longer term, people like Dennis Hastert will need to think twice before saying the unsayable."

Don't you mean in the "short term"? I doubt that Hastert's comment would have gotten much play if he'd said it in a month or two. It's that he said it now, in the midst of the crisis as people are dying and the country's still in shock, that was so politically insensitive and stupid.

syn

This American really does not want to see the federal government move towards despotism forced by the reality that state and city government officals cannot deal.

I cannot believe that people actively want the Federal government to seize and control the duties of individual states. Do people understand exactly what this means? Do Americans really want to give power over to the federal government to rule over State governments? Do Americans really want federal troops involved in controlling American citizens? Do American citizens really want any President to have the power to dictate martial law over individual states?

I simply cannot believe that I am hearing from Americans the need to impose Federal control over State control. Do they not know this is exactly the thing which causes despotism?

Aiding state governments in a time of need is one thing, but advocating that the Federal governments assume complete control over State governments is insane. Do you not understand the danger you are demanding?

TexasToast

I agree that there will be plenty of blame to go around regarding the levee system. As I said in my previous post:

“But the levees are one thing. What floors me is the utterly flatfooted response. The government was simply not prepared. It has failed in its primary mission to its citizens. Etienne is right – we seem to have gone backwards as far as homeland security goes.”

This is what “homeland security” is all about.

"We're in our fifth day and adequate help to quell the situation has not arrived yet," said Edwin P. Compass III, the New Orleans police superintendent.

“You’ve got no organization here. It’s mass confusion,’’ said Paul Davis, 54, who rode out the storm at the Guste high rise and was brought to the Convention Center by police. “Psychologically, everybody’s emotions are high. There’s no water. There’s no food. They didn’t do nothing to prepare for Katrina.’’

"Is the problem that they are only just now beginning to understand how serious the damage was?" said John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity .org, a national security policy group in Washington. "Did they not have a contingency for a disaster of this magnitude?"

While his agency is facing harsh criticism, Patrick Rhode, FEMA's deputy director, defended its performance as "probably one of the most efficient and effective responses in the country's history."

Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security on NPR: "I have not heard a report of thousands of people in the Convention Center who don't have food and water."

Pathetic. Where’s the leadership?

richard mcenroe

Considering that his own cops are joining in the looting and pillaging, Compass has a hell of a nerve even opening his mouth about the quality of the response.

Etienne — Your lame efforts to score political points are getting tiresome. As was pointed out over at Vodkapundit, all these levees are administered by a variety of local "commissions" in a city noted for its corruption. There's no telling how much of the maintenance and repair work existed only on paper. This was a state and city failure first and foremost.

syn

Homeland security is not designed to protect individual states from NATURAL DISASTERS.

Homeland Security is designed to protect individual states for ACTS OF WAR.

A Natural Disaster is not the same thing as an Act of War. Mother Nature did not declare war upon the United States, Islamic-fascism declared war.

This became a National Disaster when LA State and City elected government officals fails to perform the duties they were elected to perform.

Why did not the State of LA have a plan to deal with this predicted natural disaster?

I cannot believe I am hearing Americans advocating that the Federal government take immediate control of any individual State government control. Do these voices have any idea what they are asking for?

What is pathetic is Americans advocating the Federal governments take complete control over State governments. Unbelievable.

Etienne

What's pathetic is the utter defensiveness of repub apologists in the face of this disaster.

Where did I try to score political points? I pointed out something many here would like to ignore - that this tragedy is exposing FUNDAMENTAL weaknesses in our government and the fragility of our social structure. The panicky Repub response that politics is off limit at a time like this - they who have made a fetish of politicizing 9/11 for every possible political gain imaginable - only exposes the pathological refusal of conservatives to accept responsibility for any of the consequences of their beloved policies.

Syn is talking about how horrifying it would be to have federal government superceding local government controls. REALLY? More horrifying than bodies being eaten by rats on interstate highways in the United States of America???? The huge disconnect between conservative social morality and that of the rest of the civilized world has never been more apparent.

What the US is learning now and what the whole world is seeing is that human beings NEED responsible, accountable, competent GOVERNMENT. Yes, on the local & state level, but this is a disaster of Biblical proportions. How can anyone realistically say this can be handled without massive federal management?

This has exposed most terrifyingly the uselessness of Homeland Security, if indeed there is any such thing. If that agency had been doing its job these past four years, there would have been evacuation plans and rescue plans in place that could have been converted to deal with this emergency. Clearly there has been no such planning. The only difference between this and a biohazard terrorist attack is that Repubs would be using it to gleefully beat war drums.

You can howl at my anger and flame me all you want. But the consequences of this tragedy will be felt by this country for a very long time. Conservatives who pretend otherwise are as foolish as those who sat in their homes and tried to ride out Katrina.

Jim E.

syn apparently has no idea how federalism works, particularly in a time of emergency. Who is advocating the "complete" dissolution of state governments?

Also, FEMA is within the Department of Homeland Security, so syn is wrong again.

syn

Etienne

In times of natural disaster, individual States are responsible for their own evacuation plans not the Federal government. Even in a time of war, after NYC was attacked, both city and state government officals were able to keep control while the Federal government came to assist. This is the standard which the LA State governor failed to acheive.

My point is that individual States are required to maintain individual control and that the Federal government is there to assists each individual state. NOT the other way around.

What you are demanding is for the Federal government to assume complete control over State governments which by the way, leads to creating a despotic, totalitarian government.

It is horrifying to witness the utter failing of both a State and city government to perform the duties they were elected to perform. I hope other individual States are paying close attention to what happens when State leadership fails to perform their duties.

Hurricanes have been predicted, even hit, in the state of Lousiana long before Homeland Security (due to war) was enacted yet the governor of LA and the mayor of NO had no plans for evacuations, did not properly enact it's own National Guard, had no law enforcment procedures in place.

Please direct your anger at those who are determined to turn America into a totalitarian ruled country.

syn

Federalism works to assist individual States, not take complete control.

When was the last time the federal government ever used the federal military to control American citizens? Why it is that individual states have their own National Guards?

When was the last time the Federal government superceded State government by imposing martial law upon an individual state? Why it this power given to the governors of each state?

Etienne

Good job, Syn, completely sidestepping the point. What would be the difference if this were a biological terrorist attack? Answer, for Christ's sake. Why is THAT a federal responsibility but in this case preventing an apocalypse would have amounted to totalitarianism? Do you have any idea how ridiculous that is?

If our "leadership" has been doing its job and has created the necessary plans for responding to a terrorist attack, would you object to those plans being converted and used for this situation? Have you even thought about this, beyond noticing that the governor is Democrat (and not a presidential family member) and therefore makes a convenient scapegoat for a TOTAL abscence of federal leadership? Why don't we break up into fifty separate entities if this is how we intend to go forward?

What is beginning to sink in is the actual moral depravity of conservative philosophy. We had thought they only thought of Iraqi civilians and American soldiers as disposable chess pieces to play out their theorems and fantasies. Now we see it is American civilians, particularly poor and black ones, who are disposable. What is important is the sanctity of their THEORIES, not the LIVES of the CITIZENS of the democracy.

This is an education indeed, for me and for everyone else who is finding this story impossible to ignore.

creech

The grasshoppers far outnumber the ants. That's why "we" get the kind of government we deserve. As long as we keep electing boobs and venal power-seekers (from both major parties) failures such as New Orleans,
9/11, etc. will keep happening.

Jim E.

syn wrote: "What is pathetic is Americans advocating the Federal governments take complete control over State governments."

Complete control? Please provide evidence of such advocates.

syn also wrote: "Federalism works to assist individual States, not take complete control."

Duh. It would awesome if you could list those who think otherwise. The complaint is that the federal government exhibited zero to little assistance for several days regarding a storm that was flagged days ahead of time. That's what some folks, such as Bush of all people, consider "unacceptable." It's crystal clear that our country is completely unprepared for a dirty bomb attack.

I notice that you continue to ignore that FEMA is part of the Department of Homeland Security and that Chertoff has been holding press conferences. (Kind of undercuts your this statement by you: "Homeland Security is designed to protect individual states for ACTS OF WAR. A Natural Disaster is not the same thing as an Act of War.") Can't admit that you're wrong?

syn

Etiene

What you are asking, for example, is for the Federal government to immediately move into the state of California and dictate to those elected Californian officals how that individual state of California must operate when the predicted earthquake hits California.

It this what you want? The Federal governmemnt dictating individual State government policies and procedures?

Etienne

What I expect, Syn, is for the federal government to have the plan in place to deal with catastrophes of this proportion - be they natural or manmade. I expect them to be in constant communication with state and local governments, giving advisement and detailed procedures, from the first hint of such a catastrophe occuring. I expect them to step in and take charge the minute it becomes obvious that state and local governments are overwhelmed and unable to deal with the magnitude of the disaster.

I expect COMPETENCE from the federal government, not a bunch of ass covering cronies and campaign contributors whining, bitching and scapegoating while human beings, American citizens, are dying on the roadside like dogs.

Is that too much?

syn

By the way, FEMA was prepared to move into place when the levee broke whereby flooding NO's which prevented FEMA from actually reaching those citizens who either chose to remain behind or those for whom the city officals abandonned due to inefficient city prepareness.

That said, if NO city officals knew the city of NO's was vunerable to flooding why did the mayor not have a proper plan to evacuate the city?

I will say it again, this became a National disaster because State and city officals failed to perform their duties.

syn

Etiene

The President was on the phone with the Governor of Louisiana on Sunday.

TexasToast

"I've got to--I've got to pay the administration a compliment. James Lee Witt of FEMA has done a really good job of working with governors during times of crisis. But that's the time when you're tested, not only--it's the time you test your mettle. It's the time to test your heart, when you see people whose lives have been turned upside down. --Gov. George W. Bush, 10/3/2000

Where is the leadership?

Etienne

Pathetic, syn. You haven't answered my question on how this would have been different if it were a biological/chemical/nuclear terrorist attack. I know you won't answer because you can't. If your answers comfort you, that's fine. But be forewarned the rest of the country is not going to swallow that line of thinking. A lot is going to change because of this. It is inevitable. How evil that this is what it took to wake us up.

As I said in my first post, this isn't just about federal response, though it is mainly that. It is also about our criminal class divide and the obliviousness of our elitist government. It is sickening to think this is happening in America in the year 2005.

syn

Etiene

So now you are saying that the Federal government is responsible for controlling how State and City governments handle their own criminals?

As far as if there were a biological/chemical/nuclear terrorist attack, I would hope that individual State governments would by now have their shit together. For exammple, when NYC was attacked by terrorist both city and state government were able to command control of the situation. Their quick response to the attack is what prevented the 9/11 situation from becoming out of control chaos like the chaos we are witnessing in the city of NO.

Actually, I live in NYC and am constantly seeing NY police department, fire department, first responders practicing and preparing for such attacks. It should be noted that the NYPD nor the fire department nor the first responders are under the control of the Federal government.

Etienne

You cannot compare 9/11 and Katrina. The devastation from this hurricane far exceeds that of 9/11. I live in NYC also and was there that day, and every day. As horrible as the World Trade Center collapse was, it was contained to a relatively small physical area and did not impact the surrounding infrastructure. In this case, we have a total loss of infrastructure, services and basic survival needs. It is far, far more devastating. An entire city has been destroyed, along with a large area of rural countryside and smaller cities.

You "would like to think" state and local gov'ts have their shit together? Would you like to think the moon is made of green cheese also? We are WITNESSING the fact that they DON'T have their shit together at all. Unless Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama don't count in your book of state governments.

It's hopeless. You will defend your amoral theories in the face of American babies dying of thirst in their mothers' arms, while police cars drive past dead bodies on the roadside, while citizens armed to the teeth with automatic weapons roam the streets of an apocalypse. Whatever helps you sleep at night, Syn, but it is truly disgusting to see the actual implications of conservative policies in action. This is your Darwinian paradise. Glad you like it.

syn

Etienne

New Orlean's is in the control of a Democrat adminstration. If you are looking for policy failures, this would be the best place to start. For example, waiting to take any action at all until the Federal government could step in. Allowing for rampant chaotic crimes to occur by failing to immediately secure the area.

I agree with your statement about State governments "We are witnessing the fact that they DON'T have their shit together at all".

My compassion for the people devestated by this natural disaster extends far beyond any any idea you may have of me.

The difference between your idea of compassion and mine is that I abhor the idea that State governments will fail to take action in a moment of crisis and would rather wait until the Federal government steps in.

TexasToast

People are dead from lack of food and water and from a total breakdown of civil authority as the result of a predictable and predicted homeland security disaster. Yet Syn is worried about federalism and our President is worried about insurance fraud.

"Unacceptable" does not begin to describe the response of our government to this homeland security disaster – particularly after the emphasis on homeland security after 9/11. “Incomprehensible” comes closer, “inexcusable” closer still, but I doubt that even. “unforgivable” is close enough.

Where’s the leadership?

Etienne

Compassion is an easy word to say.

The difference between your idea of compassion and mine is that you would rather defend your textbook theories than admit that they failed in this case. There isn't a State government in America, including the exceptionally competent one here in New York State, that could have handled this on its own.

There is no further point to discussing this. I am flabbergasted that you find the energy to defend the revealed incompetence of our federal government in this instance. I find it cowardly that you refuse to admit the relevance of this abject failure to their responsibility to protect us in other contingencies, such as an outside attack. I am not, however, surprised.

Dave Schuler
It this what you want? The Federal governmemnt dictating individual State government policies and procedures?
In Louisiana it would be a marked improvement. The state government has been a mess since Reconstruction. And the problems of the government of the city of New Orleans is nearly proverbial.

Tom, you're barely scratching the surface on the problems in re-building New Orleans. What the wind and water have left the looters and mold will consume. And whatever you build will still be on sinking alluvial soil below sea-level perched between a river and a lake. Reality dictates that a significantly smaller New Orleans (the French Quarter and the port) will emerge from the ashes.

But Hastert was a dope to make his point at this time. It sounds very bad coming from a rich, old, fat, dry, white man.

syn

Etiene

I never said that individual States handle this type of thing on their own, what I said is that State governments are required to take every action necessary to secure and protect their own populace while having the Federal government assist in each individual State's needs.

Are you now saying that you really want your nemesis President Bush to be in control of all our individual States's National Guards? The way our government is structured, the President cannot and is not allowed to call upon Louisiana's National Guard...this power belongs in the hands of the Governor! There is a specific reason as to why any President cannot be allowed to supercede power given to individual State governments. Maybe the reason will occur to you since it is the very thing you have been falsely accusing the President of doing, but now in a time of crisis, you expect the President to do the very thing for which you detested. The President was falsely accused by the Left and some Democrat politicians of behaving like a dictator, but now that a crisis has occurred you are complaining that he is not behaving like a dictator.

In the case of Louisiana, the State and city governments failed in their responsibility to provide adequate security and safety for it's own populace. Period.

Right after 9/11 and the blackout, NYC could have very easily fallen into utter lawless chaos, but because of excellent leadership who did not wait around for the Federal government to step in, you and I were spared from such chaos.

Dave
Imagine the nightmare if the US Federal government were governed by those who governed the State of Louisiana.

Jim D.

Everyone knows what Hastert is saying. If they decide to charge back in to replace what was there without considering it, shame on them.

Mother Nature will always claim what is hers and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

see also: chaos theory; entropy

Etienne

Syn, this is a CRISIS. An effective leader doesn't have to be told what to do in a crisis. He knows what to do. He springs into action. He coordinates a response. In addition, an effective leader appoints competent people to other important leadership positions, who in turn spring effectively into action.

I never felt for one second that NYC would deteriorate into lawlessness during 9/11. You simply cannot compare these two situations. There were no survivors who were without water, food or shelter. The city was completely intact except for a small cordoned off area. We didn't need leadership on this scale.

Please explain to me, since maybe you understand this, how Bush is allowed to send LA National Guard to Iraq but not into the streets of New Orleans. What emergency powers does he have and how has it been altered during the four years of his War Presidency? What have these friggin people been doing in Washington all this time, while they've been abusing power in the name of 9/11, supposedly improving our ability to respond to mass emergencies caused by terrorism?

Is it that hard to differentiate between the President having the random power to order in troops at his whim and the focussed power to do so in the case of a CATASTROPHE? I am not the only American who is asking this question. It is going to be asked repeatedly, pointedly, incessantly in the weeks to come. The answers are not going to be what you want to hear.

syn

What I am troubled by most of all is that for a famed below-sea level sinking city located in an already decades predicted massively destructive flood zone, you have to wonder:

-why hundreds of empty NO's school buses were left flooded in place in a parking lot and not moved to higher ground BEFORE the hurricane hit? How many city buses sit empty and flooded.

-why the NO's police force was overwhelmed to the point of irrelevancy?

-why was there no backup plan for communications knowing a massive flood would destroy the electrical system?

-why the governor of Louisiana did not have, at the very least, a contingency plan to relocate hundreds of thousand of people to areas outside a city (destined to be flooded) well before the day after the hurricane hit.

The governor and mayors in the State of California better be paying close attention to the vital need for having a well-planned natural disaster evacuation plan in place BEFORE the predicted earthquake hits because it is a fact "Mother Nature will always claim what's hers" and she is very destructive. All we can do is to organize better ways of softening her impact.


Etienne

"I think it puts into question all of the Homeland Security and Northern Command planning for the last four years, because 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?" said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

syn

Etienne

Well, it is not a wise idea to allow the President of the United States to make the call of sending the state of Louisiana's National Guards into the streets of New Orleans. In America, we don't allow federal military jurisdiction over American streets, that leads to despotism.

It is the Louisiana state governor who is given the power to call upon sending the LA National Guard into the streets of New Orleans not the President of the United States.

There is no comparison between the war in Iraq and a natural disaster.

TexasToast

There is no comparison between the war in Iraq and a natural disaster.

The first was a war of choice - the second a failure of leadership.

Jim E.

According to syn, Newt Gingrich is a raving left-wing Bush hater for daring to criticize the FEDERAL response to Katrina. (Newt might also desire despotism and an end to state control of all matters -- right syn?) Why does Newt hate America?

Etienne

When did the LA governor request the National Guard? She must have done so, as they are now there. When did she request them?

Syn, I'm sure you know the answer to this question, since you have been implying all day that the reason the Guard wasn't there was because the Gov. did not request them. Please supply the link to that infor. Thanks.

Ari Tai

re: federal government and pasteurized cities.

Sometimes you only learn by doing. I think from levee breaking to guard on the ground is pretty good (wrt 3 days to respond after levee failure).

A call up order for the national guard (must be done by governor, not feds unless they declare that some national interest supersedes state's) takes 72 hours from start to assembled and ready to go (where they have to bring in their own life-support). And this assumes they don't pull some stunt like the guard did last time they were called up and decided to not count the weekend as two of the days.

Sadly there is a bit of Baghdad going on. Appears they let the jails empty because they had no plans to evacuate (even though they had 1000s of buses sitting idle). The trouble with voluntary evacuations is that all the people capable of saving those who don't leave, have already left. I wager few school bus drivers knew they should stay and risk life and limb for those less able or motivated. They likely never practiced. And neither the guard, the jails, nor calling a mandatory evacuation -before- disaster and support for same are federal issues.

re: rebuilding. I imagine some hard-working and patriotic engineering firm (oh no, not Halliburton) can cleverly divert enough silt from the Mississippi to raise New Orleans by 50-60 feet, uniformly (over the next 5-10 years). But it means that someone will have to tell the radical environmentalists to go sit on their hands and not continue to sue to stop these new (as well as the old) people-protection efforts. And the EPA to let people build on what the rest of the world would think is pristine clean, but since every year our test and measurement equipment gets better, the EPA claims is contaminated. You want contaminated. Immerse wood in what's in New Orleans for a month at today's temps, and you'll get mold and fungus that there's no getting rid of. Level all those structures and start over. Concrete high-rises will find themselves with 3-4 basement stories. And in twenty years it will be a memory, and a motivational bedtime story to "evacuate when we tell you." Plus it will be a lesson to big cities and politicians who would otherwise enable and permit a large part of their population to be "warehouse," ignored, and turned into tinder, victims, and predators.

Etienne

A call up order for the national guard (must be done by governor, not feds unless they declare that some national interest supersedes state's) takes 72 hours from start to assembled and ready to go (where they have to bring in their own life-support). And this assumes they don't pull some stunt like the guard did last time they were called up and decided to not count the weekend as two of the days.

OK, this right here is astonishing. It takes 72 hours to muster the National Guard? This is not something that any government genius thought to address in the four years since 9/11?

My understanding is the Governor called a state of emergency and asked for federal resourcs on Sunday. She had to send the request to Crawford. Monday morning our president went to Arizona to some festivites, followed by golfing. Tuesday he went to San Diego to speak at an oddly timed VJ Day commemoration, followed by a country music concert, followed by a sleep back at Crawford. It was not until Wednesday that he returned to the White House with his little puffy dog under his arm.

Someone explain to me why the president didn't know that one of his nation's most vulnerable cities was about to be destroyed when every news broadcast I listened to driving my daughter to college on Monday was BLARING it.

Why did it take so long for the government to respond to a clear and present danger to its citizens?

Mark from Houston

Ari

well done ! It doesn't need ten years what you purpose. Galveston Texas did the same thing after 1900 storm. It will be cheaper to raise the Historic Buildings of N.O. than to build a state of the art levee system that will fall into instant disrepair. The river will provide the silt, rubble will be big supply also. All they need to add is major league storm sewers, new water , sewage, gas and other utilites and holding ponds as they raise the city well above Sea Level. The city will be a whole lot smaller, but In many ways awhole lot better.

Syl

Well, this wasn't a voluntary evacuation of NO, it was a mandatory one! But I didn't see NO using buses to get people out of the city.

If there were no danger of flooding, putting thousands into the superdome wasn't a bad idea for a day or two.

If there were no danger of flooding I can see firetrucks and buses being left where they were, to be inundated and useless after the city drowned.

In other words, I see no evidence of any planning for levee breaks. Only the normal measures against a Cat 3 hurricane were taken....except for the mandatory evacuation order.

And, according to the AP, that was on the recommendation of Bush when he talked to the mayor and the governor before Katrina struck.

Syl

Etienne

You're being tiresome.

"My understanding is the Governor called a state of emergency and asked for federal resourcs on Sunday."

Bush declared an emergency before the hurricane struck. This was to facilitate getting emergency supplies in place BEFORE disaster struck. And that was done.

Monday morning people in NO were breathing a sigh of relief because they thought they had escaped the worst. The levee didn't break until Monday afternoon.

The floods washed out the arteries and destroyed bridges. Trucks could not get into the city. People could not get out. Communications were out so people didn't know where to go or what to do...those that could move around, that is. Thousands were stuck on rooftops and needed to be evacuated ASAP. That was the number one priority.

Buses and firetrucks and police vehicles IN the city were under water and couldn't move.

I'm sorry you're so shocked at the 72-hour mobilization but the rioting and looting didn't start until about Wednesday. At that point the mayor called off rescue and said the cops had to mobilize against looters instead.Aaarrrghh.

It's nice that you truly believe Bush can be a miracle worker and that he just failed to do so. He really is a father figure to you BDS sufferers.

Jim E.

Apparently the Republican Senator from LA is a BDS sufferer, too. He gives the feds an 'F' for their response thus far.

richard mcenroe

Etienne — Either you do not understand the National Guard system in this country or you are being deliberately obtuse.

First, you have to call in the troops from their civilian lives, which involves contacting them at work or home, or even going to physically collect the reluctant. This takes the better part of a day, minimum.

Once at their individual armories, the troops have to draw their personal gear and weapons. Missing personnel (for training, out of town business, simple AWOL's) have to be accounted for and adjusted for in the unit organization. Depending on the urgency of the mobilization, deficient individual paperwork has to be corrected. This can take more than one day all by itself.

The troops then have to be transported from their armories to central bases where they draw their rations and ammunition (not kept in the local armories since the 60's) and the majority of their heavy vehicles and equipment, which, again, are not kept at the local armories except for a limited number used for training and familiarization. Then the vehicles have to be tested for operability and further changes to the unit TO&E (table of organization and equipment) for any shortages.

Then, depending on the distance to be traveled, units board bus, air or unit transport to proceed to the scene. Heavy units like tanks and armored personnel carriers do not normally travel long road distances under their own power. This requires loading the transport onto more transport (rail or road) to move it.

Then there is the actual movement time to the assembly area at the situation.

72 hours is EXCELLENT time for this action.

Harry Arthur

rm, excellent details on what it takes to mobilize the Guard. You're correct - it's never instantaneous. The 101st and the 82d are ready to go units manned by active duty soldiers total focused on the mission and they would have taken a minimum of 24 hours to respond. I guess my primary question is why wasn't the Guard mobilized prior to the weekend, knowing that this was a level 5 storm and the consequences were likely to be severe? Obviously we would not have moved them to NO until after the passage of the storm, but they could have been ready to move in massively on Monday with water, MREs, MPs, etc. That was clearly a lack of foresight at the LA state level.

E, I share your frustration with the lack of response. It is simply unacceptable that in the most powerful, richest nation on earth that we have experienced this utter failure to respond to this crisis. There is adequate blame for all. I'm still wondering why we haven't set up massive tent cities with field hospitals, and field mess and sanitation facilities. I just don't know at this point who's responsible for the failure to act. We clearly have the capability and the resources.

The begin with, the immediate responders, city and state, were obviously caught flat footed without adequate plans in place. Yes, of course there was a collective sigh of relief on Monday that a major bullet had been dodged, and then the levee broke. In hindsight, I'd say that agencies at several levels were caught napping on Monday.

When the federal government steps in is certainly a judgement call with which many reasonable people can reasonably disagree. I don't believe it's as simple as you seem to suggest. The president simply does not have the authority to just unilaterally decide to intervene in a state's/city's business, particularly to declare martial law and to decide to take over. This always has to be a team effort with the federal government agencies in support roles for no other reason than the local people (should) know best how to respond to local problems. It just isn't reasonable to expect the federal government to develop plans for local responders in every city and state in the country.

Bush declared the area a disaster area prior to Katrina's landfall in apparent anticipation that we should be ready for action. Several of you have addressed the failure to use the literally hundreds of available busses and other public transportation assets readily available to the mayor to evacuate people. Again, I believe they simply fell asleep at the switch on Monday thinking "gee this wasn't so bad",... until the levees broke. Then it was too late - the busses were lost with the preponderance of the infrastructure and the social situation deteriorated rapidly.

E, your point regarding the parallels between this disaster and a bio or nuclear attack is well taken and is I believe a valid parallel. It is readily apparent that at least the city of NO and the state of LA, and who knows how many other cities and states accross the country, were/are either unprepared or ill prepared for a major terrorist attack. There is much work to be done. The dirtly little secret that we're not as ready as we may have thought is now in the open and it begs a response, once we've taken care of the immense human suffering in LA, MS & AL.

E, where I have a major problem with your postings is that you want to turn this immense human tragedy into a political statement. I'm a conservative and I don't believe your generally insulting and acusatory tone does much to either help the suffering citizens of the gulf coast or to solve the problem of unpreparedness.

For example, the following: It's hopeless. You will defend your amoral theories in the face of American babies dying of thirst in their mothers' arms, while police cars drive past dead bodies on the roadside, while citizens armed to the teeth with automatic weapons roam the streets of an apocalypse. Whatever helps you sleep at night, Syn, but it is truly disgusting to see the actual implications of conservative policies in action. This is your Darwinian paradise. Glad you like it.

"The actual implications of conservative policies in action"? What's that all about. What happened here was not that "conservative policies" somehow failed or that the death and destruction somehow leave conservatives unmoved as you imply. What happened here was that government at all levels arguably failed to plan and act appropriately to a natural disaster. And as you and Newt both correctly assert, the implications for action in response to a terrorist act are not good. I'm not an apologist for the Bush administration, either. I'm willing to follow the salient facts wherever they lead when we get about the analysis of what went wrong here. But now is not the time. Sorry, but I can't resist a snarky little side note: "Darwinian paradise"? As a religious conservative that's not a term I've often been accused of, but I digress.

E, bottom line for me is that for now we need to put aside our partisan differences and remember that we are first and foremost Americans who have a major unsolved problem to deal with, both immediately and over the long term. There will be plenty of time for congressional hearings, analysis, funding, rebuilding as appropriate, etc. Right now we need to work together to ameliorate the suffering of our fellow Americans along the gulf coast. The government will do its part. Our part this instant is to assist the suffering citizens of this region by supporting the many excellent charitable organizations, both religious and secular, with money, clothing, and supplies.

Etienne

Guys, I understand that 72 hours would have been acceptable pre-9/11. Clearly there are logistical reasons why you can't call civilians to arms in a short period of time. But my point is, as it has been all along, that nothing has changed in our emergency preparedness since 9/11. Changing procedures for mustering the Guard should have been at the top of the list. Again, had this been a bio or nuclear attack, in 72 hours the whole question of calling in anyone but Hazmat refrigerator trucks would have been moot. Bush declared a state of emergency at the behest of the Governor, as Syn as said must be done, but was the Governor's request for federal forces rescinded when it first appeared the storm had passed NO? If not, what explains the delay? On 9/11 we had National Guard on Fifth Avenue that very night.

There is a great deal of politics to discuss about this issue. I believe this event will be as transformative to domestic politics in the US as 9/11 has been to foreign politics. The incompetence, negligence and apathy have been revealed under a floodlight, as has America's shameful class divide. We all know now that NOTHING has been done to protect in all these long years since 9/11 and that we have been watching a fake front of an administration pretending to govern us. We should all be very afraid by what we saw this week, on both the national security and the class war fronts.

But there will be time for all that. For now, Harry is correct and everyone should try and find a way to help get help to these ravaged and traumatized victims.

syn

This 'class war' of which you speak Etienne is something created as a diversion to the failures of State and Local governments.

People CHOSE NOT TO HEED THE EVACUATION WARNING and New Orleans Mayor provides NO MEANS OF TRANSPORTION FOR THOSE WITHOUT TRANSPORTAION. Your idea of a class war has nothing to do with events on the ground.

Please refrain from instigating a lie of deceiful 'class war' hate. American people of ALL stripes were affected by the horrific storm and in my eyes your urge to paint a divided picture of color, race and wealth has no meaning to me whatsoever. NONE!!!

Etienne

I used the term "class war" as a quick phrase. I'm sorry it upsets you, but reality can hurt. I will use the more accurate term, "class division" , in the future.

You may have somehow watched the news this world and not noticed that 95% of the suffering people were desperately poor and mostly black. I can assure you the rest of the world was not able to not notice this. One of the most shameful things this disaster revealed was that the richest country in the world finds it acceptable to have a huge portion of its population living in squalor. It's not a revelation. We all knew it. But we didn't have to look at it, or consider the ramifications. Now we will not be able to pretend we didn't see what we did.

It's only one of the many scales that are falling off American eyes. This was a transformative event on both the national security issue and the class division issue here in America. A true defining moment. There will be no more whoring of 9/11. The issues raised by this calamity are not the ones those in power want raised, not ones that can be exploited for political gain, but they will not be able to deny them.

richard mcenroe

Harry Arthur — Actually, not even the 101st, 82nd and the Corps are ready to respond instantly. I can't speak for the Marines, but 82nd used to maintain a rotation of ready-alert battalions for immediate deployment, with the rest of the unit ramping up and following.

ET — on 9/11 the Guard units were coming from armories in Queens and Manhattan. They didn't require transportation or logistics support. They were already IN the city.

Any armories in New Orleans would have been trashed as throughly as the rest of the city and so, useless.

A better example would have been the deployment of the Guard during the LA riots. Units had to be brought in and supplied from outside the city (you don't use units from the affected neighborhoods in a civil disturbance). The deployment and equipping took days.

richard mcenroe

Here's an excellent source on the Guard and FEMA in Louisiana, from a Guard officer with more recent experience than mine and far more hurricane experience...

Harry Arthur

Tom, perhaps you might wish to open a thread where we can share links to excellent charities operating in the gulf coast to which we could send contributions. These would be charities that use resources well and that or trustworthy. The Red Cross, Samaritans' Purse, Salvation Army all come to mind but there are more. Also, representatives of those charities could post updates on their activities and where resources are most critical and needed so we can focus.

rm, agree totally with your observations on the military. As a veteran myself I'm personally familiar with the challenges - spent 25 years as an Army aviator (CW4) and did my fair share of readiness exercises and deployments. Deployment requires far more than just jumping in some vehicles or aircraft and heading into the area. Fuel supplies, medical supplies, ammunition, food, water, etc, all have to be brought in as well or you place your troops in the same jeopardy as those already there. It takes some amount of time to acquire and load these supplies and the effort must be effectively coordinated or you just contribute to the chaos.

At least now things are happening rapidly. The military has taken over the rescue and relocation effort and as is always the case they make me so proud of their efforts. It's truly inspirational to see the Chinooks, Black Hawks (both of which I've flown), Coast Guard and Navy aircraft airlifting people from the convention center to the airport for relocation. We've now got water and food to most of the people and are actively engaged in restoring order.

This truly rivals even the tsunami devastation and we need a tsunami-like response. When everyone is safe, we need to get to work creating jobs, economic opportunities, housing, etc, etc, etc. Just saw Richard Simons, a native of NO, and I believe we'll have tremendous celebrity involvement as well, but the demand for resources will be extensive.

Also just saw the democratic response to the president's saturday radio message. Good start - very calm, rational and uplifting. I'm hopeful that we might just be able to work together to solve real problems affecting real people.

richard mcenroe

Etienne — So why didn't the African-American mayor of this city use the HUNDREDS of buses at hand to move the "desperately poor and mostly black" people out of the city he was responsible for? Is Bush now responsible for the municipal and school bus drivers as well?

TexasToast

Richard

Stop blaming the victims. Its likely that the municipal and school bus drivers had mostly left the city as a result of the evacuation order. Many of the people left behind were elderly or infirm and couldn't leave. I really doubt that any city in this country has evacuation plans ready to go for those who rely on public transportation. If my home town does, I sure haven't heard about it. Perhaps FEMA could develop a model evacuation plan for these types of people in the future. There is plenty of blame to go around about preplanning for a predicted and predictable disaster.

However, the slow pace of the federal effort after the levee breach is not the Mayor's fault - and it was almost immeadiately obvious that this disaster clearly overwhelmed state and local capabilites. I understand that a third of the Louisiana guard and half their equipment are overseas, and guard units from other states could not be activated without a federal order, which was inexplicably delayed.

We have been told that we would be more secure as a result of what we learned on 9/11. Its painfully obvious that we are not.

Etienne

True point rm about NYC Guard as opposed to the LA Guard. In no way am I wishing to criticize the Guard itself. I have commented previously on what a vastly more serious emergency this was than the one on 9/11.

The point remains, we are four years down the road. How HAS our tax money been spent at HHS and FEMA? Why have not local emergency plans been radically updated? It's not just a hurricane issue. The Gulf of Mexico represents vital national security interests both as an energy nexus and major American port.

There are so many issues here it's almost an act of God by another measure. Everything America has been ignoring was thrown in our faces with the storm surge: our energy crisis, our lack of preparedness for emergencies, our shameful poverty, our reckless allocations of tax money. This was a perfect storm by almost any dimension you can think of.

richard mcenroe

TexasToast — It was the mayor's responsibility to follow his own city's disaster plan. He did not. He is not a victim in this, he is a malefactor. Had he called for the buses to be pressed into service, the drivers are civil servants; it would have been their duty to show up and drive.

Jim E.

"In the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency, the Department of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility."
-- Dept of Homeland Security website

According to the federal government's own promises (they -- not the local or state officials -- assume "primary responsibility" for "natural disasters"), they've failed.

But leave it to the so-called conservatives to praise the efficiency of the federal goverment's response. Bizarre.

kim

Etienne, it is extremely poor tste for you and all the rest of the agitated ones to try to make political hay of this NATURAL disaster. We may draw lessons, no more.
==============================================

millco88

Jim E.

So you're excusing the fact that they didn't use the buses to evacuate people after a mandatory evacuation order or not having supplies at the shelters they told people to go to? If you want to criticize the feds AFTER the levees broke, fine. But the reason a lot of people died is because they were in New Orleans rather than evacuated to a safer location. That's on the locals, not the feds.

Jim E.

"So you're excusing the fact that they didn't use the buses to evacuate people after a mandatory evacuation order or not having supplies at the shelters they told people to go to?"

Um, no.

TexasToast

it is extremely poor tste for you and all the rest of the agitated ones to try to make political hay of this NATURAL disaster. We may draw lessons, no more.

Poor taste? This is an utter federal failure! I can see the defense building - blame the locals. After gutting FEMA, that is beyond pathetic.

Syl

Oh, quit bitching.

It's obvious the locals didn't call for a huge National Guard mobilization until the situation was dire on Tuesday (after NO flooded the night before). 72 hours from Tuesday is....Friday. And Friday is when they arrived.

I don't see a federal failure, I see a local one. I see a mayor in denial of the possibility of a levee failure.

He didn't evacuate hospitals, he left police and fire vehicles in areas where they would be flooded. He didn't bus poor people out of the city and he didn't stock the superdome with food and water. All that should have been done according to some pretermined disaster plan. A mandatory evacuation requires that.

This was a mandatory evacuation in name only.

If the levees hadn't failed Monday afternoon, disaster relief would have carried on like it had several times in the past.

The difference THIS time was that the city got a one-two punch and the levees failed...a day later. The situation on the ground, literally on the ground, changed tragically.

Syl

Harry

Enjoyed and agreed with most of your post...except this:

" I guess my primary question is why wasn't the Guard mobilized prior to the weekend, knowing that this was a level 5 storm and the consequences were likely to be severe?"

Because before the weekend Katrina was NOT a category 5 storm. It was cat 3. It hadn't even made the turn to NO yet.

I don't think you can mobilize ahead of time to any great degree for a hurricane. First it's not known where the worst will be before it happens, and second, hurricans are usually quite huge and cause problems whereever they touch. It's best to know ahead of time which roads you can travel, where you can refuel, and where you can spend the night without being in danger yourself.

Jim E.

It was on SATURDAY Aug. 27 that the Bush administration announced that FEMA was to be responsible for coordinating "all" disaster relief operations in order to "to save lives, protect property and public health and safety" in the New Orleans area. (I'm relying on the White House webpage for this info.)

To acknowledge that the locals in one of the most poverty stricken major cities in the country may have dropped the ball, doesn't absolve the obvious failures of the federal government. Or does Bush suffer from Bush Derangement Syndrome, too, when he termed the federal relief efforts "unacceptable"?

Anyone think Mike Brown -- an unqualified crony, if there ever was one -- is the right person to run FEMA? Doesn't Bush deserve ANY credit/blame for appointing such a hack to such an important position?

boris

www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/03/AR2005090301680.html

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

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

So ... by projecting a political motive of partisan blame they politically self defended themselves into catastrophe to blame the administration for their own failure.

Three days to get fed boots on the ground is reasonable. It was the dire need for immediate rescue that created the perception of slowness. The cause of the dire need was local incompetence and/or political malpractice. Take your pick.

Jim E.

"by projecting a political motive of partisan blame"

How do you know they're "projecting"? Is it impossible to even consider that the Bush administration is trying to pass the buck?

"Three days to get fed boots on the ground is reasonable."

Bush said it's "unacceptable."

boris

How do you know they're "projecting"?

Some officials in the state suspected a political motive behind the request.
The administration makes a reaonable proposal under the circumstances and the response is politically motivated on the suspicion that the administration proposal might be politically motivated.

Looks like classic projection to me.

Jim E.

So your short answer is that you have zero evidence.

To suspect someone of something is not evidence of projection. Besides, the suspicions of the LA politicians may in fact be true.

You'll note in the same article you excerpted that an unnamed White House official complains that the LA governor still hadn't called for a state of emergency. That, of course, is factually incorrect. I wonder why in the world the White House would try to smear the LA governor like that? It's clear that the White House is so eager to pass-the-buck that they're deliberately spreading derogatory misinformation about the local officials.

I just presented evidence to show buck-passing by the White House. (If not that, I've at least demonstrated more utter incompetence at the White House.) You've presented nothing. Well, nothing other than unsubstantiated smears ("classic projection") of the LA officials.

boris

the suspicions of the LA politicians may in fact be true

This is what's called zero evidence.

Doing unto others because you suspect they were going to do unto you is projection whether you're wrong or not.

You clearly don't understand the concept or you are just too blind with hate. The proof of projection is in their own words. Pointing this out is what you call a smear so of course any rational analysis of the situation dissonant with your hateful paranoia is "deliberately spreading derogatory misinformation about the local officials" and "buck-passing".

You couldn't hold reasoned discorse if your life depended on it.

larry

N O has a plan for evacuation. The mayor and his bowling buddy didn't follow it.... commandeering vehicles as necessary, etc. FEMA had emergency provisions ready, but once the city flooded, personnel and material "couldn't get there from here."

Try as you might, changing National Guard call up procedures cannot be significantly improved without changing the character of the N G.

I am as flabbergasted as Boris that Jim and Etienne have demanded Bush impose federal control, but when he attempted to do exactly that, they object in sympathy with the governor on the basis of "political motives."

kim

Well they're irrational to begin with for blaming a monumental natural disaster on politicians.
====================================================

kim

Hey, where's Bush's exit plan from New Orleans?
=================================================

Jim E.

"Doing unto others because you suspect they were going to do unto you is projection whether you're wrong or not."

Nope.

Too bad you don't believe in self-defense. For you, that would be "projection."

"The proof of projection is in their own words."

You also don't know what the word "proof" means either.

Jim E.

Larry,

Please cite where I have ever demanded that Bush "impose" federal control, or I where I sympathized with the governor of LA.

P.S. Even that nut Michelle Malkin thinks the federal government totally dropped the ball on this. Does Malking "flabbergast" you, too?

Larry

I apologize, Jim E. I took your repeated references to FEMA/DHS responsibility as demand for federal control. Parsing the definition of projection ad infinitum as opposed to recognizing Blanco's blatantly political decision for what it is I interpret as sympathy.

Warning: Listening to politicians may be harmful to your mental health. Listening to MSM telling you what the politicians said, ditto.

Dat Gingrich, dat Malkin, dat Vitter, dey gwine git a public whuppin fo trine leab de plantation next meetin o de VRWC.

boris

Too bad you don't believe in self-defense. For you, that would be "projection."

If someone draws a weapon and prepares to fire it's no longer projection or suspicion.

If you shoot someone in the back because you suspect they might kill you later, claiming self defense is not going to work very well in court. Not should it.

That was way too easy. Please think before you type.

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