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Eric: One of the more cathartic things I've written

One thing people have figured out -- and I've gotten some criticism for -- is that I don't tend to put cut-tags or the like in my essays here on Websnark. Wednesday does -- she's old school when it comes to the Internet, remembering the people on slow connections and dialup, the people who read this on an RSS feed and the like.

But I don't, typically. I don't because I read an essay from a Livejournal user called The Ferrett. The Ferrett said that the difference between an essay being read and an essay being skipped over by a majority of users was that single point that needed to be clicked. Without that click, you might well get the same hit count as you did before, but a huge number of people won't read your words.

I write what I write to be read. I'm confident in my readers. I'm confident that if what I say is important enough -- or good enough -- they won't unsubscribe or stop coming when they see a given snark is five thousand words long. I'm confident that they know what they're getting. And I'm confident that if it is more than they can take, they will leave and let me know. To date, I haven't been disappointed on any of these scores.

But today I'm using a cut tag. Because today's essay is highly political, and very critical of our elected government. And that's also not why people come to Websnark, and I'm aware of that. Folks know I'm a liberal because I never shut up about that fact. A good number want nothing to do with my politics.

So. I'm putting in that extra step. If you want to read what I have to say, realizing I'm far far far past the point of being 'fair to everyone involved,' then by all means click through and read it. If you're here for webcomics commentary or slice of life or whatever, and you just don't want to read yet another person talking about the Gulf Coast, then you don't have to. I won't be offended.

But I also can't be silent in this forum. Not any more. Not and still look at myself in the mirror. So even if no one actually reads this essay, I need to write it. I need to say it. I need to go on record as clearly as I humanly can.

Thanks, all. Click on the "more" link to see the essay. If you're on an RSS feed, click on the actual link to the entry to read it on Websnark.

Peace.

We as a nation are shocked and outraged. We are shocked and outraged at a government whose response to nigh-unprecedented disaster has been lackadaisical, whose response to the untold suffering of tens or hundreds of thousands, and the death of tens of thousands in estimate, has been slow and halting at best. A response whose lack of will and accountability has been criminal through all of this. I don't know a better word to use -- the levels of neglect and unconcern by leaders who have sworn an oath, who have specifically taken on the responsibilities to protect, comfort and aid us in our time of need go far beyond incompetence and into the willful abrogation of those responsibilities. There should be lawsuits of unprecedented scope against our national government in the months to come.

And it is increasingly obvious that no one in a position to care, does care.

Hilary Rodham Clinton -- a contentious figure in her own right -- went on the record some time ago about the current administration. "It's very hard to stop people who have no shame about what they're doing," she said. "It is very hard to stop people who have never been acquainted with the truth." And this is true, of course. And it is an increasingly apt description. And in the weeks and months to come, we will see a systemic distortion of events repeated over, and over, and over again, in all the familiar outlets, recasting these last few weeks. Administration officials and pundits will have their talking points and they will go on the familiar television programs and they will say a very clear message in very clear language over and over again: it wasn't our fault. We did everything right. It was an act of God, and the Democrats in State and Local Government didn't act when they had to. This is how they deal with catastrophic failures in response.

And it might well work for them. It has before. When you have absolutely no shame... when you absolutely feel no remorse... then you can continually play on peoples' natural tendency to think the best of you. And when they begin to think the best of you, they'll listen to whatever mean-ass things you say about those you want to blame.

Don't believe me? Remember, George W. Bush's Vietnam war record was shocking. Shocking. John Kerry's Vietnam war record involved volunteering multiple times for multiple missions and being shot multiple times. And on election day, Kerry's Vietnam record was a negative and George Bush's wasn't.

But the abject, catastrophic failures of our national government are simply not in doubt right now. They're simply not in doubt. We have seen Federal responses to natural disasters before. We have seen Nixon respond to Hurricane Camille. We have seen George Herbert Walker Bush respond to Andrew. Both Republicans, I would add -- but when there was a disaster, they mobilized immediately. When there was advance warning, the resources to save and secure life were prepared before it hit and moved in immediately afterward. When FEMA was a cabinet level department before the days of the Department of Homeland Security, they were empowered during times of disaster to order any resources they needed from any Federal department.

The difference now? We are at war against an enemy who specifically attacks us without warning.

That's right. We are in a war against terrorists who if they get a chance will attack us with horrible weapons without warning.

We had warning with Katrina. We had loud and clear warnings. The administration, following the obvious failure to respond to the crisis, said that there was no way to predict that the levees would fail. That right there was clear and unmitigated bullshit. I know this because I watched the News on Saturday and Sunday, and every last news program went through the scenarios of what would happen to New Orleans should the levees fail, and the fact that the levees weren't rated to this level of hurricane. When the levees did fail, there was no sense of surprise -- just the impeding sense of horror that the worst case scenario did come true.

I didn't much care that George Bush didn't cut his vacation short and return to Washington, by the by. I really didn't. The mechanisms of government follow the President. Sure, I thought that by keeping his schedule of leisure activities he came across as mind-numbingly callous to the suffering in his own nation, but I didn't figure that callousness would abate by his flying to Washington and sitting in the White House instead of his ranch, so whatever.

But when he flew down, to "take a first hand look," after being asked not to come by the Governor of Louisiana and the Mayor of New Orleans, who didn't want to take time away from efforts to save people's lives to provide Presidential Security in a city where law and order were washed away in a tide of poisonous and infected water, and he ignored them so he could get his photo opportunities and timed the arrival of Federal troops to coincide with his visit, I knew we had gone beyond callousness and into a disconnection from reality. When George Bush was there, no relief flights were allowed to put food and water into the hands of the suffering, out of concerns for security. When George Bush was there, rescues were put on hold out of concerns for security.

It is entirely possible that people died because George Bush had to begin salvaging his public image.

This has been a recurring theme, by the by. Laura Bush visited the Astrodome to get photographed handing out supplies to refugees. But while she was there, Red Cross operations were suspended. She got her photo op while people were told to wait before seeing a doctor. Nice pictures, Madam First Lady. Hope no one died while they were taken.

Do I sound bitter? I am. I'm astoundingly bitter. Because this is a government that has wholly defined itself by its response to national tragedy and international threat, and when we actually had a disaster, they weren't just ill-prepared, they clearly didn't care. Kayne West broke away from his script on NBC to declare that "George Bush doesn't care about black people," and that's clearly true. But it doesn't go far enough. I'm not wealthy by any stretch, but I live a comfortable life and I have a good number of toys. I'm solidly middle class. And I'm white and was raised Protestant. But if New Hampshire were the disaster area instead of Louisiana, George Bush -- and his government -- wouldn't have responded to save my life any more than he did their lives.

And the lie of Red State/Blue State has finally been abjectly exposed. Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama were all solidly red, but when disaster struck the response was anemic. It's not that Bush only cares about his supporters. It's that Bush doesn't care... well, about anyone.

The Port of New Orleans is devastated. The economic repercussions have already been tremendous, and they're only going to get worse. And our enemies have seen what has happened and how terrible our response has been. They have seen how unprepared we were when we had days of notice. They have seen how sluggish our response was forty-eight hours after the levees failed. They now know that if they manage to get a nuclear weapon into the middle container of a container ship, set to go off at dock, they could take out another one of our ports and we wouldn't be ready to contain the disaster as well as we were able to response to 9/11.

I need to repeat that.

The mechanisms of response to a disaster are worse now than they were on 9/11! The billions of dollars spent, the terror alerts, the injunctions to get duct tape, the Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security... all of these things have been done in the name of improving our security and when the time came we were unable to leverage a prepared response to a two hundred mile long hurricane we had days of warning about.

There's a reason that Geraldo Rivera -- Geraldo fucking Rivera -- was sobbing on national television, begging our government to allow the refugees in the convention center to cross a bridge and get to where there's power and water. There's a reason the cable news networks -- which have given George Bush and his administration five solid years of bye during some of the darkest moments in American industry -- have finally started to say what the fuck is going on here!

We're dying here. Americans are dying here. We have a refugee population now that potentially exceeds the population of my home state of Maine. And the response our government has had to that disaster has been halting and slow and unconcerned.

"George Bush doesn't care about black people." Yeah, no shit. He doesn't care about white people either. In fact, the one population we know he cares about in all this is Haliburton. Fucking Haliburton. They have a half-billion dollar government contract out of the disaster.

So, we know Dick Cheney responded quickly, at least.

Over the next several months, the spin machine will begin. The blame machine will begin. And for all I know it'll work, and the Republicans will overwhelmingly take the midyear elections, and they will pass another ten pieces of legislation that strip us of our rights and centralize authority in the hands of the Federal Government "to better protect us in the event of another Katrina." But for right now, for today, the American people who voted for George Bush and the American people who didn't vote for George Bush are united in shock and horror and a sickness that reaches into their very souls. And some are bitter, like I am. And others are just numb, staring at the government that ran on the platform of keeping us safe, and wanting to know why this happened.

And no one can tell them, because there's no real answer to that question. It just wasn't a priority at the time.

God help us all.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at September 7, 2005 9:43 AM

Comments

Comment from: Botswana posted at September 7, 2005 10:07 AM

My worst fear for Websnark hit today. It became political.

Comment from: John posted at September 7, 2005 10:14 AM

Yeah, pretty liberal. ;)

I have also been apalled at the government response at all levels. But I don't think Bush should get so much of the blame. I would be much more inclined to point my finger at the New Orleans and Louisiana governing bodies. Not because they're Democrats, but because they were right there. It was their "jurisdiction." The feds are starting from a disadvantaged position because NO and LA handled their part so poorly.

FEMA seems pretty clueless too -- you didn't know there were folks in the Superdome four days after they'd been there? Read the internet much? But Bush doesn't much deserve to be on anyone's hitlist in this situation.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at September 7, 2005 10:14 AM

Yours and a lot of peoples'. Thus the cut.

The thing is? I have to live with my face in the mirror. So I need to be able to look at it.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at September 7, 2005 10:16 AM

John -- the mandate of the DHS... its entire reason for existence... is to protect against attack and centralize response when disaster strikes. That's why FEMA was taken out of its cabinet level post and put subordinate to them.

If we don't hand Bush the blame, then what the Hell have we been doing for the past four years?

Comment from: aaronbourque posted at September 7, 2005 10:17 AM

I've signed in just for this:

Everyone . . . and I mean *EVERYONE* needs to shut the fuck up about who is wrong and who's to blame in the Gulf Coast RIGHT NOW.

Thank you.

Comment from: JackSlack posted at September 7, 2005 10:19 AM

It's been political before, I'll note.

And frankly, Eric's anger, and post, is utterly merited. And it's merited to be here on Websnark, not his Livejournal or anywhere else. We need to get this message out with the loudest amplifier we have. All of us.

We need to make it heard.

Comment from: Dave Van Domelen posted at September 7, 2005 10:32 AM

I'll start by noting that most of the people I've seen say "Shut up, stop the blame game!" are pro-Bush. In other words, the blame game is only allowed when Bush can win at it (he himself has said he won't play it this time, a clear sign that the Master of Blame doesn't think he can win this time).

That aside, a note on cuts. At a place like Websnark, cuts aren't really necessary. People come here to see the essays, yes? OTOH, people who post 300 line essays on their Livejournals and don't put them behind cuts tend not to stay on my Friends List (same with large images or unlinked ultra-long URLs). It's not a matter of load time, it's a matter of skewing the formatting so that a place I go to see a variety of stuff becomes all about that one huge post.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at September 7, 2005 10:38 AM

I wasn't going to read this. Then I did. I guess I can't skip something you've written.

Comment from: Wednesday posted at September 7, 2005 10:45 AM

Everyone . . . and I mean *EVERYONE* needs to shut the fuck up about who is wrong and who's to blame in the Gulf Coast RIGHT NOW.

Yeah, because that's going to ascertain that the next thing to go wrong is handled much more effectively. Shutting up, keeping mum, and making no observations at all will bring about radical change. Every other time that something's gone drastically wrong and people have asked questions? Flukes.

No, it won't magically go back and make everything right, but neither will pretending that this is an apolitical issue where no one could have made a better choice. Ignoring how this point was reached pretty much guarantees that the next major disaster will go the same way.

At the core, this isn't and shouldn't be about scapegoating, but it does need to be about accountability. Shutting up across the board will go nowhere. Really, things are so far past the point where we can pretend it's Just A Natural Disaster and No One Made It Be This Way it's not even funny. I can't believe this mindset continues to perpetuate itself; I didn't even understand it at the outset.

If you don't want to talk about it, you can not ask questions.

Near as I can tell, there's something of a black-and-white approach in others of this mindset: "If we pursue accountability, then there is no energy left towards healing the present situation." Two things: a) it's possible to both have and attain multiple goals at once, and b) there is blatantly also a prior wound here; hoping the pain will go away does no good at all if you don't also attend to the underlying cause.

If it's just burnout from hearing anything at all, well, I can't help you. I hear maintaining minimal media exposure is effective.

Comment from: Grumblin posted at September 7, 2005 10:48 AM

No , Eric is right..

Rantage is needed, because there have been whole swathes of Officials who have lived up to their duties.

One of the examples is that at this moment one frigate of the Dutch Antilles fleet is mored at/near New Orleans.
It carries stuff like an industrial sized desalinisation plant, medical personnel + hospital theatre, and sundries. Another ship, an amphibious transport carrier, is on call if necessary.

Foreign military vessels do not show up out of the blue at the US coast.. at least in one piece..
The van Amstel also must have sailed from Aruba as soon as things turned ugly to get there in the time it did.

So far, all reports and data points to the simple fact that at least the military arm of government did do it's job. Be prepared for the worst, and be ready when needed.

The order to go is, however, a matter of politics, and last time I looked only the US president can order US troops to be deployed in US territory.

So, at least in the military, everything *was* ready and primed, and put into motion up to the point where a direct order from the US president was needed..
Who simply didn't, until it was too late.

Comment from: Botswana posted at September 7, 2005 10:59 AM

Just a note, the Federal Government did try to intervene and the Louisiana state government stopped them.

I don't want to pipe in because I'm tired of defending a man whom I'm not particularly fond of. That said though, I am really tired of people making assumptions about his character based on personal bias. I love how people suddenly turn into mind-readers and can tell you what he thinks and feels.

It's political opportunism. Here's a chance to make Bush look bad because someone doesn't like him or his policies. There were several leaps of logic made to make the assumption he just doesn't care about the American people. I can use similar logic to say Bill Clinton didn't care anything beyond getting his next blow job. The problem is I don't know that (nor believe it, but that's not the point)

Liberals don't like Bush. Got it, filed, stored. Everything under the sun is Bush's fault according to them. Oh yeah, and everyone who isn't anti-Bush is automatically a Bush-loving right wing Christian Republican. Maybe not according to Eric, but that certainly seems to be the meme someone above is trying to establish.

As for "shut the (expletive) up", I'd sooner read another political rant on Websnark then deal with anymore unconstructive comments. I agree that the blame game is silly and there is likely plenty to go around. I would love to know the justification behind the Governor's office to delay Federal aid that probably resulted in the deaths of at least hundreds of people.

But what's funny is that I read the rant above and see "Democrats aren't the ones at blame. It's that Republican Bush". Ah yes, objective commentary.

I respect that blogs are personal, but I always thought Websnark transcended being a blog. That this place was somewhat safe, and political commentary was usually left in the comments alone. Eric has even made a comment before that this is what he keeps his Livejournal for.

I respect the right of anyone to have an opinion. I even respect the right to post those opinion's here if you are somehow responsible for the site. I am more disappointed then anything. What did Eric say yesterday about finding a cockroach in his expensive cocoa? That's kind of how I feel today at Websnark. Someone just put a bug, intentionally, into my Cafe Mocha.

Cut or no cut, there it is.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at September 7, 2005 10:59 AM

Everyone . . . and I mean *EVERYONE* needs to shut the fuck up about who is wrong and who's to blame in the Gulf Coast RIGHT NOW.

I could not possibly disagree more.

Outrage and demands for accountability, right now and as loud as possible, produce two results: 1) the potential to find out where it all went so terribly wrong so we can work on fixing it as best we can (and correcting it over the next election cycle, he says, dreaming), and 2) embarrassing the people who fucked up so hard that they massively overcompensate with aid right now.

If we say "we need to shut up about this until it's all over," not only will we not discuss it later, it will effectively never end.

No. Not this time. Others might disagree with the role or motivations I ascribe to Bush. I'm fine with that disagreement. Some above have mentioned other things that need to be investigated, on all sides of the political spectrum.

But the one thing we all need to be united on is twofold: fixing the immediate situation and demanding to know how and why we got here.

This, I'm as certain of as I am of anything in this world.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at September 7, 2005 11:08 AM

I respect that blogs are personal, but I always thought Websnark transcended being a blog. That this place was somewhat safe, and political commentary was usually left in the comments alone. Eric has even made a comment before that this is what he keeps his Livejournal for.

I respect the right of anyone to have an opinion. I even respect the right to post those opinion's here if you are somehow responsible for the site. I am more disappointed then anything. What did Eric say yesterday about finding a cockroach in his expensive cocoa? That's kind of how I feel today at Websnark. Someone just put a bug, intentionally, into my Cafe Mocha.

*shrug*

I could not humanly have done more to warn you what you would find if you went on to read the essay. And I certainly didn't set it up by saying "here is my fair, objective and reasoned discussion of events." I called it cathartic in the title, acknowledged my political inclinations, and disavowed any intention to be, and I quote, "fair to everyone involved."

I stand by this. I'm glad I wrote it. I'm not even slightly sorry. And I accept that some people are disappointed as a result. So long as I haven't disappointed myself, I'm good with that.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at September 7, 2005 11:17 AM

First, a few minor notes. Since I'm one of the people usually calling for cuts, I'd like to point out that the cuts are mostly for ease of navigation. I hate having to hit Page Down a dozen times to see if a snark I'm interested in has gotten new comments. Of course, I'm used to having all my articles linked to instead of on a front page, so I'm just used to clicking through in general.

Also, if you really don't want someone's political views, you probably shouldn't read an opinion-based blog. Especially one where the author has repeatedly asserted his right to talk about whatever he wants - inevitably, politics is going to be one of the things he wants to talk about.

Now, for the actual subject matter...

First off, nobody here is forgiving the local or state governments for their failures in all of this. They will have to pay the piper when the time comes.

But I look at it this way. The city mayors, selectmen, et al. only have a small and limited resource pool in general that can't cope with a disaster of this level, and moreover they don't answer to me, John Q. Massachusetts Resident. The state officials of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississipi have larger pools or resources that can mitigate the impact of a disaster like this but can't fully repair from it. They also aren't accountable to me.

However, the federal government does have the resources, and they are accountable to me, Eric, and the entire country. And damn me if I'm not going to hold them to it. The Constitution says that the federal government exists, in part, for the "common defence" of the American people. That means against all threats, not just military ones. And in every conceivable way, the federal government has failed in that for the aftermath of Katrina.

Comment from: Wistful Dreamer posted at September 7, 2005 11:28 AM

"Everyone . . . and I mean *EVERYONE* needs to shut the fuck up about who is wrong and who's to blame in the Gulf Coast RIGHT NOW."

No way. This is what politics is for. It is its entire purpose: determining what individuals best serve our nation if we put our trust in them. Someone, maybe everyone, dropped the ball here, and people died. Real people I've actually met, lived among, and didn't have the chance to say goodbye. People died because those with whom they put their trust failed them and we can't ask why because that might be seen as playing politics? Sorry, but politics is not a game.

I don't know who I blame right now: The current state and local officials who were overwhelmed by the task, the past local, state and national government officials from both republican or democratic administrations who haven't upgraded the levee system in three decades despite the rampant erosion and situation change in the state of Louisiana since then, the president's previous actions, such as emasculating FEMA (and putting a horse rancher in charge of it), having our guardsmen in Iraq instead of within our boarders where they belong, and cutting funding to levee renovation (which I know would not have been ready in time or strong enough for this hurricane, but if the hurricane had struck slightly weaker a year later, would have made a big difference), or the president's response (such as waiting days to mobilize the national guard instead of before the hurrican struck, or halting operations for photo ops). I really blame everyone. I blame the emergency response people (who have been systematically REFUSING donations from various sources), the government that put them there, and the previous administrations that let it get so bad. All I know is that after 9/11, every attempt to determine who dropped the ball and or what could have been done was destroyed by obfuscation and the quick assertion that hindsight would serve no purpose. I really still have no idea which administration (Clinton or Bush, frankly both) is more to blame. Not this time. I want to know everything. I want to know who did what when and why aren't they already apologizing. How great would it be if too many people apologized for this?

If some of my verbage is lifted from David Simpson's essay on his comic page http://www.idrewthis.org/, it is because I agree completely and am too impassioned to systematically scrub my words of anything I mentally picked up from it. Sorry David.

Comment from: Phobokleon posted at September 7, 2005 11:35 AM

I don't know how many of you live in areas that are commonly hit by hurricanes, but as someone who has lived on the east coast of florida for 14 years, I have learned a few things about disaster relief and preparation. One major point overlooked, is how long it is expected for FEMA to respond. Here, they advise everyone have 3 to 5 days worth of fresh water and food, as after a large storm, it is expected to take that long for any large amount of support to move in. Due to lack of power, roads, and fuel, some delay is reasonable and understandable. While there may be ways to speed up the response even further, when we are talking of moving enough supplies to feed thousands of people, into area's where there may be no remaining infrastructure, it will take time.


Last year, where I live was hit by 3 hurricanes. While they were all minor in effect where I am, they still did significant damage. There were some neighborhoods that could not be driven to for a couple of days due to fallen tree's and powerlines. Now, that was the effect of a Cat 1 storm, with damage only from the wind. And in florida, the major roads (I-95 in this case) are not on the coast, and did not suffer any damage. When this type of damage is spread over 200 miles, it will render areas unreachable.


Hurricanes are big. The damage vast areas. Even in a best case, (such as no flooding) it takes time to determine what the effects even are. Even though the Federal Government has the resources, it does not have the understanding. It takes locals to tell it what is needed, and it takes time for the locals to understand and evaluate what is needed. FEMA is not a first response, it is a resource for state and local governments to use. If it were the first response, it would lack knowledge of the local area with which to operate. If you had never been to my town, how would you know how bad the damage was after?

Comment from: Archon Divinus posted at September 7, 2005 11:44 AM

Botswana, nobodies trying to make Bush look bad, he is doing that without help. When he does nothing fo a disaster in his own country, its a pretty safe assumption that he is completely uncarring.

Comment from: Arturogf posted at September 7, 2005 11:57 AM

Barbara Bush: open mouth insert foot! Quotes from
AP wire.

"Almost everyone I've talked to says: 'We're going to move to Houston,' " Mrs Bush said late on Monday after visiting evacuees at the Astrodome with her husband, former president George Bush.

"What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality," she said.

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this - this is working very well for them."

"Sort of scary",why, because they want to move to your precious Texas. Perish the thought. How could THOSE people be deemed worthy of living in the same state as you. "underpriveleged anyway". Who the fuck is this woman? Does she have even an iota of human compassion? Glad to know how she really feels about anyone not in her social circle. What an embarrassment.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at September 7, 2005 11:58 AM

Oh, and one thing I can't let go unchallenged -- the idea that the states refused Federal help ahead of time.

A few URLs worth reading:

The state of Louisiana's declaration of a preemtive State of Emergency on August 26: http://www.gov.state.la.us/Press_Release_detail.asp?id=973

The official acknowledgement of a request for Pentagon and military assistance in the gulf states by the gulf states on August 26 (Department of Defense transcript of a 9/1 briefing): http://www.dod.gov/transcripts/2005/tr20050901-3843.html

Official request for a preemptive State of Federal Emergency being declared in advance of Katrina's landfall, specifically so that FEMA and other Federal resources could act without specific State or local injunction on August 27: http://www.gov.state.la.us/Press_Release_detail.asp?id=976

Declaration of Federal State of Emergency granting FEMA all power to coordinate disaster relief and other operations: August 27: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/08/20050827-1.html (Yes. That's the White House's press release. From the Saturday before landfall.)

President of the United States warned of potential Levee failures and the catastrophic potential results: August 28: http://www.sptimes.com/2005/08/30/State/For_forecasting_chief.shtml

Katrina makes Landfall: August 29.

Frankly, there's a reason I'm putting this squarely on the Federal Government. That's because it was squarely put in their arena days before Katrina ever reached the Gulf Coast.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at September 7, 2005 12:03 PM

I spent my high school years in south Florida. So yes, I know hurricane country and preparation.

Now, local officials can help in the event of a hurricane. But you're telling me that they are somehow more vital than the people that have trained and worked on hurricane survival and aftermath? There are particulars that locals can help out with, but you don't need city or state officials to know how to properly rebuild. You need people who are experts in the issue - which in this case are the folks at FEMA.

Seriously, that and the argument that the governor of Louisiana stonewalled the federal government (who have incredible power in the case of emergency and disaster, and which doesn't explain the foot dragging in Alabama and Mississippi) ring as hollow excuses to me. I'm not excusing the local and state governments. But the federal government has screwed up on the grandest scale, and they're the only ones accountable to me personally. So I say we put their feet to the fire.

Comment from: Dave Van Domelen posted at September 7, 2005 12:12 PM

Phob: I think the difference here is between "3-5 days to get to you" and "3-5 days to even start moving". Had the trucks, boats and amphibians of FEMA started moving on Monday afternoon, rather than several days later, I think a lot of us would be significantly less pissed.

Comment from: William_G posted at September 7, 2005 12:12 PM

I'm not going to defend Bush because I think the man is pure evil, buuuut~

The problem is the American people themselves. They have grown far too complacient in their position at the top of the world that they tend to live life as if nothing bad will ever happen to them.

As the old joke goes: "How do you know he's the king? He doesnt got shit all over him."

When something DOES happen to them, on the mainland, they run around like chickens with their heads cut off. The post 9/11 world would have been exactly the same if it was Gore reading that book to those kids that morning, but we've forgotten that in this era of the partisan hack.

The simple fact of the matter is that people knew for a very, very long time that the clock was running out on New Orleans, and yet no effort was made to move things to a higher ground. And now everyone is running around, screaming "The city was wiped out! That only happens to other people!"

The plan right now, as it should have been after 9/11, should be to fix up the mess, and then take steps to make sure it doesnt happen again. Like America did with the great depression, like they did with Japan and Germany.

America, I still believe in your ability to overcome your problems sensibly. Building higher dikes wont keep it from happening again. Move that city out of there.

Comment from: Daerv posted at September 7, 2005 12:13 PM

Eric: Have you read Transmetropolitan?

Anyway. My first post. Thank you for giving me something interesting to read pretty much every day.

Comment from: Abs_of_Flab posted at September 7, 2005 12:17 PM

"Everyone . . . and I mean *EVERYONE* needs to shut the fuck up about who is wrong and who's to blame in the Gulf Coast RIGHT NOW."

Aargh.

There's so much about this statement that I disagree with that I don't even know where to start. So, my apologies in advance if what follows reads somewhat disjointedly.

It's already been noted here, but this bears repeating: if we don't point fingers, assign blame, and generally figure WHAT WENT WRONG WHERE, there's very, very, VERY little chance that an appropriate, or at least, slightly better response will be had the next time a disaster rears its ugly head. And there will be one - nature's unforgiving that way. The relief response was beyond disastrous, it was epically flawed. Anyone who could've effected a massive wide-scale pre-emptive or preventative effort fumbled the ball badly. Regardless of whatever resources were available or even mobilized, the fact of the matter is, they weren't there when it was needed, and thousands paid a much higher price than they needed to as a result. The knowledge that the levees would not be sufficient against a Katrina-scale storm was not a closely-guarded secret, but it was disregarded until it was far past too late to do anything about it. Dear God, doesn't at least SOMEONE deserve at least a stern "talking-to" about this?

When we hold down a job, even a cheap-ass low-rent minimum wage job, and we screw up royally (or even minorly - depends on the situation, really), our employers are given the option of firing us. More often than not, they will. And they'd be legally and morally justified in doing so. Why in the hell should we be held to a higher standard than those whose mandate and duty is to lead and protect everyone who elected them? Aren't there graver implications to someone failing at a job where the primary function is to safeguard well-being than there is to someone who can't flip a burger properly?

And shouldn't the greatest responsibility lay in the hands of someone whose title is "Commander-in-chief"?

I see on the news violence and chaos, much of which couldn't be reined in because the response force (the National Guard, among others) was undermanned and therefore had to make saving lives a priority. Gee, where were the rest of the troops? Could they actually be halfway across the world looking for weapons that aren't there and killing people who aren't enemies and being killed by adversaries who are unseen? I also see private citizens mobilizing, on their own, with no guidance and no (financial) support, to help their fellow citizens. Of course, they're getting REFUSED. And yes, there are good reasons for refusing their actual physical presence, out of fears that they too would end up needing saving too. But their resources have been volunteered. Christ, they really got their votes' worth, didn't they? "We need leadership. Crap. We don't have any. We'll make do any way we can then. What? We CAN'T help? Who the hell will then?"

Geez. Why pay taxes?

And just as we need to cast blame, we need to acknowledge worthy efforts as well. As much as we need to learn from mistakes (God, were there EVER many mistakes), we need to be inspired to do the right things by seeing right things being done. And as much as I LOATHE most celebrities, I have to say that there are some who I think are doing the right thing. Celebrities are picking up the slack here. They're donating money, they're making impassioned pleas to the public (I think I finally like Celine Dion now - who'd'a thunk it?), and, in at least one case - Sean Penn - has gone down to aid the rescue effort. Now, I don't know which news reports to believe about Sean Penn: the ones that said he's there with a camera crew in a boat that sank or the news that the previous news were outright lies and that he's saved 40-plus people. But really, I don't care - he got way closer to the danger than most have or will. Certainly, he got closer than the President, or the Vice-President, or the higher-ups in Homeland Security, or most other Democrat lawmakers (yes - there's plenty of vitriol to go around) or Republican lawbreakers (okay, that was a cheap shot). And say what you will about celebrities being opportunistic - they certainly seem to be getting things DONE. And some actually seem genuine about it.

"Everyone . . . and I mean *EVERYONE* needs to shut the fuck up about who is wrong and who's to blame in the Gulf Coast RIGHT NOW."

Well, I'll agree with the RIGHT NOW part of that statement. Everyone needed to start talking about ineffectual responses and ill-conceived strategies and callous agendas LONG AGO. RIGHT NOW is the time to act - both to save and comfort as many people as possible and to bring low EVERYONE who had a hand in letting hundreds die and thousands go homeless.

Comment from: Ray Radlein posted at September 7, 2005 12:43 PM

Just a note, the Federal Government did try to intervene and the Louisiana state government stopped them.

That is, quite simply, a God-damned lie, of the type told only by overly-credulous fools or people who have no humanity whatsoever within them.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at September 7, 2005 12:45 PM

HEY. Whoa, Ray.

Rules are still in effect. You can call me a fool, but no one else, in this essay.

Well, okay. Certain politicians. But not if they actually post in the comments.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at September 7, 2005 12:45 PM

This essay's comments, rather.

Comment from: larksilver posted at September 7, 2005 12:48 PM

Hold on a second. I live in "precious fucking Texas." I live in Houston, in fact. Where thousands of people have just arrived, hungry, homeless, and a wee bit desperate. I'm proud of my city's populace, of its willingness to put aside its usual apathy and pull together, to donate time, money, and necessities to help those in need. Of its willingness to say "come, we'll help you out. We'll feed you and clothe you and put a roof over your head until you can get your feet under you again." No doubt, we'll be instrumental in more ways than one in offering jobs, transportation, and other methods to help them pull their lives together.

I'm torn, however. Even in the midst of all that pride, of course there's concern. This disaster has absolutely cracked the spine of Louisiana, and probably Mississippi as well. However.. all the aid is pouring, even if not as quickly as some would like, into those areas. All assistance is going to be focused there.

But how many survivors are really going to go home again? Every day, on the train ride home, I hear someone with a pink armband (giving them access to the help at the Reliant Center) say they're planning to stay. The realization that Houston just inherited a gigantic population of people in need of a huge leg up terrifies the pragmatist in me. I am a believer in helping your fellow man! I believe in being there for each other! I know what havok this is going to cause to our welfare system here in Texas, where the National aid is NOT going to be focused. I also know 4 people who've been robbed or carjacked in the Medical Center in the last week, some of them by people still wearing the blasted "refugee armband."

Does this scare me? that some of the very people who were shoving children out of the way to get on a bus are planning to live in my city now? That large numbers of the people who were .. well, state-supported ... in Louisiana are now planning on getting comfy here? Of course it does.

Only an idiot, with thousands of strangers moving in next door, is not going to worry about what this means to the neighborhood. Sure, there'll be lots of good folks moving in. You bet the possibilities of a stronger community exist, and I look forward to them. I look forward to helping make that happen!

But one living with the thousands of strangers has to know, deep down, that the "bad people" who were shooting each other down there weren't all caught, that most likely some of them came HERE, and are planning to stay. That tomorrow, that new neighbor could come knocking on my door, and instead of "hey can I get a cup of sugar?" they might be knocking my son down to get on the bus....

Of course that's scary. My heart goes out, and I'll do all I can to help these people, but I'll worry all the while about what this means to my family. If that makes me mean-hearted, so be it. I don't believe it does. I believe it makes me human.

As for the essay waaaaaaaay up there before all those comments? I'm with you on a lot of this, Eric. I won't go into the way that GWBush has always set off my bully radar (his Dad doesn't); suffice to say that I find his grandstanding inappropriate, and do feel that his administration truly will do their best to use this as an excuse to give more power to a central government for better response times. (yeah, like that's worked.)

I'm neither a liberal nor a conservative, but strive always to be open to both views, and stand firmly in neutral ground about the political aspects of the hurricane issue. I respect your feelings, and share some of your frustration and bitterness over all of this. I'm sure that some of the anger and disgust you feel, as with mine, is partly due to the feeling of powerlessness we all share in the face of a disaster of this magnitude.

I'm glad you got that off your chest, darlin'. What's a community for, if not a place to air your feelings and keep 'em from festering on you?

Comment from: larksilver posted at September 7, 2005 12:50 PM

Annndddd.. as usual, once I get going, the very fast typing speed and tendency to expound upon things to death turns a quick rebuttal into a freakin' book. Sorry about that.

Comment from: Botswana posted at September 7, 2005 1:03 PM

Anything that doesn't make Bush look bad appears to be a lie to a certain mindset.

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

"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."

The partisan hackery that is going on here is sickening. Barbara Bush is quoted and then someone just interjects what they think she means because it makes her look bad.

I'm all for solving problems, but there is a big difference between getting to the root of a problem and simple finger-pointing. Believe it or not, finger-pointing is less helpful then you might imagine. As someone who basically makes their living solving problems, the hardest thing to do is getting past the point of everyone trying to establish who is at fault and finding out the simple facts.

Anyone critical of the federal response has a right to be. However, what you seem to want is for Bush to exercise tyrannical powers that you have been afraid he would gain since 2000. The irony is quite thick here. The sudden shift because of a disaster is very interesting and telling. What you want is for Bush to sweep in there and solve all the problems and take blame for everything regardless of what the actual problem is or who should have been responsible for it.

I just want to note that the hurricane didn't care what political party you belonged to when it hit. Politicizing this catastrophe and using it as an anti-Bush soapbox is pretty low. On the other hand, I've gotten used to the mindset of fanatics and I realize that typing this is probably doing no good at this point.

The great irony is that here I am, someone wholly dissatisfied with Bush's domestic policies since he took office in 2000 who still sees the attacks on his character and thinks "That's just going too far". This isn't how you "get the message out", this is a great way to prove that Liberal talking points are irrelevant. It does more harm to your cause then good.

I won't deny that things could have been done better, that lives should have been saved, and there was ball dropping all over the damn place. Unfortunately, the vitriol is going to override much of those points. It's like posting a lengthy critique of someone's performance and then finishing it off with a vulgarity. No matter how important the critique was, people tend to remember the baser aspect of it.

And while I expect Eric to be liberal, because he is an artiste of sorts, I knew by posting anything political it would cause the rhetoric spewers to crawl forth from the woodwork. As if on cue....

Comment from: Karacan posted at September 7, 2005 1:07 PM

If the blame is to be shifted around, blame the voters. You voted. It's your government. You fucking voted it, unless you follow a few paranoid (or not so) theorems and decide that it's all just a scam. It doesn't matter who you cast your vote for, but the americans, as a people, voted them.

Yeah, I'm bitter and cynic, even in wake of disaster, but I still feel a sort of grim satisfaction. Wrong and inhumane? Probably, but of course I feel deeply sorry for the affected - it just gives a grim satisfaction to know that one has been right.

Thanks for providing some indepth coverage through the links. Here in Germany, all we get is CNN, and... well. It was an act of god, wasn't it, and you can't do anything against acts of god(s).

Comment from: Nate posted at September 7, 2005 1:07 PM

"Everyone . . . and I mean *EVERYONE* needs to shut the fuck up about who is wrong and who's to blame in the Gulf Coast RIGHT NOW."

"For people who're saying 'Stop pointing fingers at the president...' Shut up. No. This is inarguably, inarguably a failure of leadership from the top."

Seriously. Bush ran on a platform of "I'm the big non-French cowboy who'll protect America better!" And what have we gotten in the four years after 9/11, with the billions poured into "Homeland Security"? Bupkis. Bupkis that's let thousands of people die.

Also, Eric, about the Hurricane Andrew bit, it took three days for any help to arrive then too. However, when Clinton was in office, FEMA apparently had better response times. here, scroll down to "Katrina Creep".

Comment from: Nate posted at September 7, 2005 1:09 PM

Also, because I'm a spaz and forgot to link it...

The very selfsame The Ferrett on the Blame Game and Katrina.

Comment from: abb3w posted at September 7, 2005 1:37 PM

Everyone . . . and I mean *EVERYONE* needs to shut the fuck up about who is wrong and who's to blame in the Gulf Coast RIGHT NOW.
Yeah, because that's going to ascertain that the next thing to go wrong is handled much more effectively.
I'm a bit too much a fan of Machievelli's the Prince to qualify as a classical liberal. I could care less about the amount of vacation time President Bush takes in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes one of the most important things you need to do in politics is NOTHING; it's very difficult to manage, and "vacation" might be a better way than most.

Mister President: This is NOT one of those times. You need to be giving the right people the right orders... right now.

As many of the blogs are noting, in early 2001 FEMA predicted three potential disaster scenarios as nightmares. Yes, we got the first: the "Terrorist Attack on New York" 9/11, and a wonderful excuse for the military to stomp around a bit. (As a Machievelli and Peak Oil fan, I'm more bothered by how ineptly the President's team did the stomping than their choice of stomping grounds.) And they reorganized to deal with the crisis they had just seen. Now we have come mindbogglingly close to the second disaster: "Class 5 Hurricane Hits New Orleans"; by luck, it dropped to only Class 4 when it made landfall, and went a little too far East for the perfect disaster scenario. It was close enough, however, for a decabillion or two in damage, even not counting the raised national gasoline tab. And we learned that planning to refight the last war is still a bad idea when facing the next one.

The left at large is chanting "global warming", and token research will show the casual plausibility of the link; hurricanes form over warmer water, so if global warming causes warmer water, we get more hurricanes. The science ought to be seriously looked at. One of the major storm forecast centers claims a 43% chance of an intense hurricane hitting the US in September. Everyone is howling about the current disaster recovery, and hopefully going to flog the politicians on all sides into making sure the next hit is better handled. (Yes, all sides. The Army Corps of Engineers Head (current? former?) has been on the news repeatedly, pointing out this levee fuckup is bipartisan, has been decades in the making, and badly handled the whole time under all flavors of administration. I will add, electing a Libertarian would not have helped-- ruling out my usual "not my fault" excuse.) While the odds are against it, there's nothing saying the next big one this year couldn't hit New Orleans again. And if the global warming fans are right, our hurricane Russian Roulette is now being played with more bullets. Aiiigh, big threat, big threat, aiigh....

Now, have you been paying attention during my verbal slight of hand... or am I the only one who can count to THREE?

There better be somebody in charge who considers not only forecast disaster 1 and 2 in the planning revisions, but potential disaster number three: a major 9.0+ earthquake centered in San Francisco. Because the most important thing is not laying blame for the screwup in handling the disaster just past; nothing we say or do can change that it happened, and there's only so fast we can usefully respond to this one. The most important thing is making sure that there is no screwup for the next disaster.... whatever its form may be. And detestible as it may be, figuring out where the blame lies for this screwup is a prerequisite before deciding to what extent we should risk letting the same people (and procedures) screw up the next disaster response.

Because Bush has another thousand days or so to REALLY put the TRI in hitting the Trifecta.

Just a note, the Federal Government did try to intervene and the Louisiana state government stopped them.
Source, please? It's not called "The Net Of A Million Lies" without decades of reason. (Yes, decades. Remember, Children, the Internet predated the World Wide Web.)

Comment from: Tangent posted at September 7, 2005 1:57 PM

Look, you want to stop this from happening again? Remove FEMA from under the Dept. of Homeland Security's umbrella. Have them report to the DoHS in telling them what they are doing, sure. But let FEMA act as it is supposed to.

With DoHS in place, it wouldn't matter if it were Kerry in place or Bush. It still would have been a fiasco. Oh, and having lived in Mass. for 33 years (before moving to New Hampshire), I can state that Kerry is a bastard and that it's a good thing he wasn't elected... and that the Democratic Party failed this country by putting him up for election. And the rumors that they're thinking of letting him run AGAIN in 2008... well, that just shows me that they don't want someone in power that cares for people, just someone who cares for themselves.

Not that Hillary would be much better, mind you. But damn it, they have to have SOMEONE halfway decent in the Democratic party that would run for president...

Rob

Comment from: Tangent posted at September 7, 2005 2:11 PM

Oh, one other little bit to remember: The damage of Katrina was not isolated to New Orleans alone. The devastation was (and is) widespread and intensive. Entire communities were wiped out, wiped out worse than if a nuke had hit them. Transport infrastructure was shattered. And Katrina CONTINUED TO MARK ITS DESTRUCTIVE PATH across America as New Orleans started to sink.

This isn't limited to New Orleans. This isn't limited to Mississippi. Instead, quite a few regions west of the Appalachian range suffered from Katrina. Many were affected to a lesser extent, yes. But IT WAS STILL ONGOING.

Bureaucracy is to blame for what happened. Bureaucracy built by Democrats, fortified by Republicans, and stratified by both. You want to blame someone? Blame the entire Federal Government and those who were in office before the current rotten crop.

You want to fix the problem? Good luck. The only thing that's harder to pry from politicians hands than taxpayers money (except for special interests - aka, the rich and those who put people in power) is the stratified layers of bureaucracy. In fact, if we cut HALF of the bureaucracy from the government, the resulting layoffs in government jobs alone would probably cause an instant recession in a completely healthy economy. *rolls eyes*

Rob, who was libertarian at one point until a certain whiney Mass. libertarian whined and claimed that Ted Kennedy was a murderer responsible for the deaths of sailors on a military ship hit by a terrorist suicide bomb

Comment from: larksilver posted at September 7, 2005 2:19 PM

Rob, darlin', the really sad thing about cutting jobs is that often, it's the administrative staff who get cut, and then things move even more slowly. Since, y'know, the "big wigs" making twice as much money don't know where the copy machine is.....

Comment from: UrsulaV posted at September 7, 2005 2:41 PM

I have not posted about this, for the most part, for the simple reason that I'm an artist from the West Coast/Midwest, and you can fit what I know about levees and hurricanes and disaster relief into the brainpan of a chicken. I have not discussed it, because I don't know how to do it better, so I'm not going to armchair general and say "Oh, they should have done this or this." I am not equipped to say anything useful in such a discussion.

However.


The one thing I know about this is that there are people who DO know about such things, and furthermore, just as providing roads and public education and infrastructure, it is the job of the government to make sure those people do it. And it appears they have failed to do so. (I may not be a surgeon myself, but I know that when somebody's flinging bits across the room and the patient has flatlined that surgery has gone wrong.) I don't think it's all partisan to say that a whole bunch of people died and things were a shambles and there damn well should've been a better response.

And since it is the government's JOB to fix shit like that, it again does not look partisan to me to say that if it didn't get done, it was the government that failed.


And I want to know who it bloody well was, and I want them fired for failing to do their job. And I still don't see how this is partisan. I may just be an artist, but I do a job, and I am responsible for that job, and if I fail to do the job, I get my ass sacked and the art director that I failed blacklists me and thinks dark thoughts, and I deserve to have that happen.

Because. I. Failed. At. My. Job.


And shit, man, my job involves drawing happy mammals and crap. Nobody's life is ever on the line.I find it unfathomable that trying to figure out why the hell things went so horrible wrong that thousands of people died which weren't expected to is suddenly a partisan political issue. I mean, the government does a job, it failed at it, what kind of bizarro world do we live in where trying to figure out who the hell failed is suddenly "playing the blame game"?

Comment from: Dave Van Domelen posted at September 7, 2005 2:45 PM

The world of spin control, Ursula. The administration doesn't want any finger-pointing, because they know that a large percentage of those fingers will be jabbing at them. They only want fingers pointing at all when they can be sure that they aren't the main target.

Comment from: LyingBastard posted at September 7, 2005 3:09 PM

Political spectrum aside, this is a legitimate disaster and the proper agencies of the government have responded poorly at best. There deserves to be outrage over this. This inadequate, lacking response cannot be allowed to happen again, and I believe that we, the people of the United States of America, need to demand better from those who supposedly represent us. Liberal, Conservative, Democrat, Republican, we all must all together make our outrage and discontent known. This is not how the America I want to live in responds to it's own disasters.

A king may ignore the voice of a peasant, but when enough peasants voice their complaints together, the king may find his head upon a pike.

Comment from: Shaenon posted at September 7, 2005 3:12 PM

Damn straight, Eric. Every American citizen should be mad as hell about the way our government is responding to this horrifying disaster. For the past four years, we've put up with compromises to our civil rights, the shifting of billions of dollars away from social programs and toward "homeland security," and a foreign policy that basically consists of methodically pissing off the rest of the world, all because we were promised that it was making us safer. The federal government was protecting us. It was taking precautions. Building defenses against the next unexpected attack.

And it turns out to be bullshit. Not just partial bullshit, like most of us suspected it was. Total bullshit. The federal government is now far less prepared to deal with a national emergency than in it was on September 10. There is apparently no plan in place to deal with a disaster that comes with several days' warning, let alone a sudden terrorist attack. Key homeland-security departments are headed by inexperienced cronies. State and local governments are hobbled by years of inadequate support from the federal level (the New Orleans levees were in such bad shape because the Bush Administration slashed funding on the program that was supposed to fix them). The National Guard has inadequate troops here in America, where they're supposed to be (in case of, say, A TERRORIST ATTACK), because so many of them have been shipped off to Iraq.

So what did we spend all that money for? Why did we put up with all that crap? Do you feel safer now? Because I sure don't. I live in the location of the third potential FEMA disaster scenario, and I don't trust my state or federal government to be ready to respond to jack shit if we start sliding into the Pacific over here.

I don't want to say that Bush and his advisors don't care about people. I don't know them personally. But it certainly looks like they've been sitting around with their thumbs up their asses for the past four years. Nice to see that Halliburton has its Katrina reconstruction contract already drawn up, though. At least those guys know how to spring into action.

Comment from: miyaa posted at September 7, 2005 3:42 PM

Heirarchy of Blame (as I see it)

1. National Weather Service & Emergency Management Authorities. They did not convince the populace of New Orleans, or the other Gulf Coast regions to flee from Hurricane Katrina. Furthermore, due to slight forecasting errors, there was not enough time to be able to allow everyone to leave quickly enough, so instead of a week to a week and half of warning time, there was maybe five days maximum. For a hurricane, that is clearly unacceptable, and I'm sure there will be changes in this regard. These guys are the watchmen, they are to identify potential storms.

2. The City of New Orleans & the State Government of Louisiana. They did not force people to flee their homes using any, including military means, possible. They were not clearly prepared. They did not ensure that there were available bussing to allow people who can not leave through means other than by walking to leave post haste.

3. The Federal Goverment. FEMA has always been slow, and everyone knows it. I do wish when you are dealing with something like a hurricane that you could have a FEMA team ready at a position to be at a particular impact site within a day's time. Some weather events like tornadoes and certain kinds of flooding, it's too difficult to give more than perhaps a few minutes lead-time to hopefully avoid disaster. Hurricanes trackings are usually (not in this case) fairly easy to forecast. It's horrible.

Furthermore, the federal goverment, among other state and local agencies, were made aware through special reports and their own studies that there were inheirent dangers with a hurricane going through New Orleans, especially with the leeve. And yet they did not attempt to do anything about it because penultimately no one thought the likelihood of such a strong event was not worth spending the time and effort (not just the money or the priorities of this compared to other needs) to a cause. That is the thing with government. The only thing that a higher priority will ensure that more money will be spend to get a particular cause done sooner (it doesn't mean it will be done with certain level of quality). In this case, they had decades of time in which they could have spent enough funds to fix or bulk up the leeves. No one felt there would ever come the day that a catagory four or five hurricane would come and KO the leeves.

4. Those citizens of New Orleans who stayed dispite warnings, particulary those who took up arms and chose to fight instead of fleeing when told to by authorities. One point I'd like to make here is that I could care less that most of them were black and were poor. I empathize with many who are poor and must choose their purchases very carefully. But many of them will find a way to survive. I survived my childhood living off of Aldi's food and purchases (it's a chain of grocery stores that insists on cash and is probably a half-step lower than Prada's merchandise during the days of Soviet Russia). My parents were poor. We live on a family farm, and my family chose not to take out a more sizable income so that we could maintain the family farm as a business. So we did without a lot. I lived without air conditioning and television at times (my parents home still doesn't have air conditioning). I didn't know about the internet until I went to college, and my parents just bought a computer for the first time about six months ago. You learn to go without many things that society deems that you need, and somehow you find yourself becoming a better person because you know what is really important.

Did we live on welfare? No, we couldn't qualify for a whole host of reasons including that we also owned a small business. Could I see where I could have continued to remain in an impoverished state? Oh, sure. Even now. I'm probably still not out of the woods yet and I can certainly see myself struggling for several more years at least. But we all don't plan our lives very much. Most of us live on a day-to-day existance, unable to see the forest from the trees.

In this case, as with everything in life, it comes down to a choice. When it was mentioned how "Bush doesn't care about the blacks" my response is two-fold: a) A lot of people don't care about blacks, it's not just him; and b) Hey, a lot of poor blacks that lived in New Orleans left when they were told to, even though many of them didn't believe that the hurricane reports were going to get this bad. Sure race plays a role, but I know of people of all colors of skin and from all nationalities who were able to overcome racial attitudes and poverty. It isn't easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it happens.

5. The rest of us. The real problem with placing blame is that we want to pin the blame on a nice neat set of people (or one particular person) and leaving anyone else scot-free. We could have done more, and we could still do more in this situation. We could take our ballots to select local, state and federal leaders more seriously when we go to the polls. We could do more to encourage or make it so that we have a better choice of candidates instead of picking "the lesser of many evils." We could realize that governments weren't going to be able to handle everything anyway even if we wanted them to, so we could support non-profit agencies like the Red Cross and other relief efforts, not just during emergencies but during times of relative calm. Hell, we could even tip more to those who cleaned our rooms or carried our food to the table while we ate and slept in New Orleans. At least we could try to do something slight more constructive than merely ranting and raving about how did we get ourselves in such a predicament?

My problem with political commentary is that too often, it is too divisionary and people end up trying to defend their positions to the point where they talk in circles instead of trying to develop constructive criticisms and actively listening to what others say instead of continuingly preparing a response. I also wonder how many of these political blogs or political commentaries in blogs reflect people who complain about something, but don't do anything about it? Do these people listen to what they say and realize how subjective they are when they claim that their objective?

Finally, I'm not trying to imply that we're not doing that here. I'm sure most of us have donated to the relief effort in some way whether its through financial donations, prayer, or other things like blood drives. I don't want to shame anyone either, nor do I feel that trying to place blame not wouldn't be counterproductive. The most important thing that I hope will happen is that when the next hurricane, natural disaster, or man-made disaster happens that everyone will be more prepared and more able to help to handle the results of these disasters, or perhaps prevent them and seriously consider ways to limit the storm's potential for damage and death in the future (or at least be very aware of them).

Comment from: Kazriko Redclaw posted at September 7, 2005 3:53 PM

abb3w wrote:
    Just a note, the Federal Government did try to intervene and the Louisiana state government stopped them. 

Source, please? It's not called "The Net Of A Million Lies" without decades of reason. (Yes, decades. Remember, Children, the Internet predated the World Wide Web.)


Boston Globe Article

From the article:
Louisiana lawmakers have accused the federal government of unfairly shifting the responsibility for dealing with the storm to state and local authorities. But Governor Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, refused a White House request to take control of the Louisiana National Guard and criticized the federal government's relief efforts.

While this is not the same as Intervening, they were trying to put the whole effort under a single command structure and were not allowed to. There were military in the area in small numbers long before the main influx of troops, but they weren't able to do anything to help with coordination due to a lack of authority.

Comment from: Plaid Phantom posted at September 7, 2005 4:38 PM

I completely agree with Tangent. The entire federal government, in my opinion, is bordering on BROKEN. Partisan politics, greed, and self-serving politicians from all political parties have led to a government that is bureaucratic to the point that it CAN'T move any faster than it does. Fixing this mess is going to take more work than anyone really wants to do. This mess has been about 200 years in the making. At this rate, I doubt that the mess that it is now is going to make it another 200 without major overhaul.

Anyway, before I get any more incoherent, I'll stop. The only thing I want to say is that we should've listened to George Washington in the first place.

Comment from: Plaid Phantom posted at September 7, 2005 4:39 PM

I completely agree with Tangent. The entire federal government, in my opinion, is bordering on BROKEN. Partisan politics, greed, and self-serving politicians from all political parties have led to a government that is bureaucratic to the point that it CAN'T move any faster than it does. Fixing this mess is going to take more work than anyone really wants to do. This mess has been about 200 years in the making. At this rate, I doubt that the mess that it is now is going to make it another 200 without major overhaul.

Anyway, before I get any more incoherent, I'll stop. The only thing I want to say is that we should've listened to George Washington in the first place.

Comment from: Sundre posted at September 7, 2005 4:40 PM

William_G wrote: Move that city out of there.

Have you seen this map yet? Between the slow sinking and the negative altitude and the hurricane risk, yes it's a bad location. But there's no such thing as perfectly safe. And the same reasons that made it difficult for so many to evacuate would have made it difficult for many to move away. Having almost nothing where you are is a sight better than having absolutely nothing elsewhere.

Comment from: Tangent posted at September 7, 2005 4:45 PM

*laughter* Love the map

Especially the bit about "Mormons" as if they're their own natural disaster. :D (I'm not saying Mormons are bad. I'm saying that it added a touch of levity to the entire thing, allowing you to laugh at it all. You *could* say the map shows the Mormons were led to the one safe place by God. *smile*)

Rob

Comment from: siwangmu posted at September 7, 2005 5:11 PM

Here's a chance to make Bush look bad because someone doesn't like him or his policies. There were several leaps of logic made to make the assumption he just doesn't care about the American people. I can use similar logic to say Bill Clinton didn't care anything beyond getting his next blow job. The problem is I don't know that (nor believe it, but that's not the point)

Except for the glaringly obvious evidence that, by all accounts, Clinton dramatically improved and strengthened FEMA, whereas Bush gutted it and appointed incompetents with no experience to run it? It's not that we really give a crap whether the politicians care--hey, if Bush could not care about the nation while doing an exceptional job of pretending he did by acting in the nation's best interests at all times? I'd say more power to him.

But here's my thinking:
A disaster like this, I have been led to believe, is explicitly a Federal issue, which is why resources like FEMA exist. Nobody really expects the government of a given city to have the resources to cope with its total destruction. (New Orleans, Heal Thyself!)

The responsible organization should be able to execute its purpose efficiently, with the resources and organization necessary to do so.

The President is head of the Executive Branch of our Federal Government. Seeing that the government's role is *carried out* is EXACTLY what he's supposed to do (as opposed to, say, declaring wars). If the execution is hideously flawed? It is perfectly appropriate to look to the head of the administration responsible. This administration cut the funding to repair the levees. This administration is responsible for the changes to FEMA and holds responsible for the quality of the leadership in FEMA.

Accountability.

Also, Eric? You're my hero.

A final note: To people who are fed up with anti-Bush: I am sorry for your pain. Your pain is a valid response to the shrill unreasonableness of many people, probably including idiots who have preached at you in the past and made you bitter. However, your bitterness disqualifies you from me caring about your grievance. If all you can see in Eric's criticism is "more of the same" Bush hate, you need to work on your reading comprehension. Just because you're sick of hearing about Bush's flaws, it doesn't mean genuine criticism isn't earned.

Comment from: Tangent posted at September 7, 2005 5:46 PM

Okay. Gang? Calm down for a second.

Part of the problem here is inherent in the American political structure. And by that, I mean Constitutionally.

We have a Separation of Powers. We have Federal Powers, State Powers, and Local Powers. Now we've seen several sources stating Bush asked that the Governor of Louisiana waive her State Powers so that he could consolidate disaster control under one central branch.

She said no. It was her right to say no. And no doubt she felt that her state would be able to handle the hurricane.

She was wrong in that regard (by the fact that destruction caused by the storm was more intensive than expected).

Finally, when it was realized that State operations would be inadequate to deal with the situation, the Federal Government was asked to step in. So they mobilized to do so. And yes, that took a little time, but the Federal government had been told it wasn't needed (to the extent that it was, at least).

Also, from news reports I'd been reading, it seemed that people in power believed that the breeches in the levees could be fixed before the flooding got too bad. Instead, they got worse. We're just lucky another hurricane (even a Cat. 1) didn't push in soon after, or the resulting storm surge from THAT would probably have wiped everything out.

So, what's the solution? Do we move disaster control completely to FEMA's hands, and make them self-sufficient again? To do so is to strip more power from the States and to put it in Federal hands. It continues an imbalance in the Balance of Powers between State and Federal governments. To not do this is to risk a repeat of this situation. And what's worse, it leaves States without a large tax-base ill-prepared to handle disasters.

(Heck, if Katrina had gone up the Coast, avoided Virginia and North Carolina, and had plowed right through Cape Cod and into Boston, devastating THAT city, I suspect we'd have had nearly as big a disaster on our hands, and the same problems in dealing with the response time. And Massachusetts is one of the richer states around.) (Okay, I hate Boston and want to see it knocked down ten pegs or so. But hey, I lived 50 miles north of that vile den of wickedness and villany for over 30 years. I can dream of bad things happening to it, can't I? (Besides, the Aliens didn't get around to destroying Boston in the theatrical release of Bore of the Worlds... probably afraid of the Minutemen or somesuch. *rolls eyes*)) (As an aside, I know lots of good people live in Boston. It's just the jerks that drive there that give it a bad name. Well, as well as the jerks who are pedestrians and the jerks who get into political office there and pretty much the entire political system of Massachusetts... damn I'm glad I live in New Hampshire now...)

Sorry for the tangent. Hey, it happens with me. :D

Anyway, blame cannot be laid on one person or party's doorstep. Instead, you spread it out evenly to everyone, like buttering a piece of bread. This is a failure of the federal, state, and local governments. It could have been prevented. And sadly, no lesson will be learned by this because everyone is too busy pointing fingers and blaming everyone else.

Rob

Comment from: quiller posted at September 7, 2005 5:54 PM

I'm generally wary of trying to analyze things based on news reports only. The news does not see all and it certainly doesn't understand all. Unfortunately, it is also the best tool the citizenry has for making its decisions.

My own conclusions? New Orleans seemed to have not been as prepared as it should have been for evacuation. The fact that there are parking lots full of school buses submerged in water tells me they didn't do everything they could have in getting those out who didn't have the means to make it out themselves.

It certainly takes time to move troops, but the policy seems to have been to wait until it was certain that troops were needed before moving them out. It is not the hardest equation in the world that if you take a crime ridden city like New Orleans, remove the storekeepers, police officers and financial infrastructure and leave the poorest community behind, there might be some problems with law and order. And it isn't like the army wouldn't be useful even if things had been entirely peaceful, as they certainly know a few things about rigging temporary shelters and hauling supplies.

And finally, regardless of how much blame lies where, that Karl Rove has been put in charge of making sure that blame goes anywhere but the presidency, and specifically on state and local government (I heared it on NPR, it seems to be based on a NY Times story) makes me rather sick to my stomach. I suppose it could be a false rumor, but if it is, it is a rather believable one based on this administration's past performance.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at September 7, 2005 6:09 PM

I'm partly wondering if I'm included when Tangent says that he hates the jerks who live in Massachusetts. But as they say, if you have to wonder, then the answer is probably yes.

However, I'm going to repeat that the federal government does have the right to overrule the state government if it's deemed necessary. Whether or not you, or anyone, thinks this is fair or a good idea is moot. The fact is, they have that power. If anything, this was the time to use it and they didn't.

Also, reading that Globe article, I'm not so sure that Gov. Blanco refused the aid. It never quotes anything where she declined the aid, there are several pieces of evidence that the state was asking for help (thanks to Eric and those helpful .gov links above), and the quote from Gov. Blanco directly below the accusation seems to refute the accusation. Quite simply, I think that there is enough evidence to say that Louisiana didn't refuse any federal aid at all.

Comment from: Phil Kahn posted at September 7, 2005 7:28 PM

I just sit and stare at our administration and wonder, what could possibly allow for it to be THIS BAD. How is that POSSIBLE.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at September 7, 2005 7:50 PM

What could possibly make it this bad? To quote someone from above, have you ever read Transmetropolitan? I'm personally vacilitating whether or not Bush part 2 is closer to The Smiler or The Beast. I used to think he was more of the latter, but this entire scenario has me thinking otherwise.

Comment from: Ray Radlein posted at September 7, 2005 8:14 PM

HEY. Whoa, Ray.

Rules are still in effect. You can call me a fool, but no one else, in this essay.

I am sorry. I should have gone with my first instinct, and stopped with simply identifying the God-damned lie as such.

Comment from: Wednesday posted at September 7, 2005 8:20 PM

Why read Transmet? There's perfectly good Hunter S. Thompson back catalogue.

Comment from: quiller posted at September 7, 2005 8:21 PM

Transmet has prettier pictures?

Comment from: Ray Radlein posted at September 7, 2005 8:57 PM

Heirarchy of Blame (as I see it)

1. National Weather Service & Emergency Management Authorities. They did not convince the populace of New Orleans, or the other Gulf Coast regions to flee from Hurricane Katrina. Furthermore, due to slight forecasting errors, there was not enough time to be able to allow everyone to leave quickly enough, so instead of a week to a week and half of warning time, there was maybe five days maximum. For a hurricane, that is clearly unacceptable, and I'm sure there will be changes in this regard. These guys are the watchmen, they are to identify potential storms.



What on earth are you talking about here? The NWS and NHC were as spot-on in their predictions for Katarina as it is possible to be; and they did everything that they could short of taking hostages to draw attention to the fact that Katrina was The Big One. Have you read those bulletins they issued? I have never seen such hair-on-fire language used in any government bulletin of any kind, ever.


And it worked, too: The Mayor of New Orleans called the city's first ever mandatory evacuation, and the Governor declared a state of emergency and requested all possible federal help, far enough in advance of landfall to ensure that help would be there. Practically everyone who was able to leave New Orleans did so; the people who remained behind were almost exclusively those who were unable to evacuate on their own, and would have been just as unable to evacuate if they had been given even more time.


And that, of course, is the part of the blame that can be laid primarily at the feet of the local governments: It has been known for some time that New Orleans had somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 citizens who would have no way of getting out of the city on their own; local officials should have been able to better organize a system of busses and emergency transportation to help evacuate individuals too poor to have access to transportation (or too poor to leave the disaster area with it — if you can't afford enough gas to get you out of the city, having a car does you little good).


And not just the poor, of course; the frail, the infirm, and the elderly all presented their own difficulties, as did the tourists (imagine: You have flown into New Orleans for a vacation, only to have the airport close behind you; once all of the rental cars are taken, your options for evacuation suddenly shrink dramatically). The local government should have been able to do a better job at evacuating the lot of them.


Perhaps if their National Guard units (along with all of their high-water equipment) weren't in Iraq, they could have managed something before the storm hit. It would be nice to know for sure.


However, the horrors that awaited New Orleans after the storm hit can, for the most part, be laid squarely at the feet of the federal government, whose responses in the aftermath should boil the blood of any human being with even the merest spark of a conscience. And it is those actions which transformed a natural disaster into a full-blown catastrophe.


If you had polled the ranks of the most virulent critics of the Bush Administration in advance of Katarina's landfall, and asked each one of them how they thought the federal government would respond to the crisis, not a one of them would have come within an order of magnitude of correctly guessing the criminal depths of incompetence in their actions. Governments have fallen over smaller provocations than this.

Comment from: Ray Radlein posted at September 7, 2005 8:57 PM

Have I mentioned lately that I hate the Comment Preview function?

Comment from: kirabug posted at September 7, 2005 9:18 PM

Wow. Y'now, I don't know what to believe.
I've heard that the city's emergency management contract stated that they were responsible for using school buses to bus the poorest folks out, and they told them to hoof it.
I've heard that the state government waffled around for a while before finally deciding to declare an emergency.
I've heard the city police were out looting with the looters - and not just for emergency supplies.
I've heard that the federal government took away the money that could've prevented the levees from failing.
I've heard that Bush has made some political appearances that have done more harm than good.
I've heard the Republicans blame the Democrats, and the Democrats blame the Republicans, and the Democrats blame the rich for leaving the poor there to die and the rich blame the governments for not getting the job done.
The only channel I know of that's not busy pointing fingers is ESPN. They're busy talking about how Peyton and Eli Manning have lost their family homes. They're showing grown men in tears - men who have the money and power to recover relatively quickly - men and women and folks pitching in to help.
As for the rest, I'm disgusted by the government. I'm disgusted by it from the bottom to the top. (And I *liked* Bush.)
I'm disgusted by the fact that some of the media and some of Hollywood think that this is the time to point fingers, and have taken the focus away from "what do we do now" to "why did this happen?" before we've even found somewhere for all these people to stay.
Eric, I have no problem with your essay - it needed to be said. I just wish that I could be even reasonably sure that George Bush was really the problem. I wish I could know that if Kerry (or for that matter, anyone else) was in there he could've done a better job. I wish I could be so sure. I wish I could blame the Constitution for giving states rights, or blame the Democrats for not understanding states rights.
Meantime, if nobody minds, I'll be giving blood, volunteering, donating some cash, and working out with my folks exactly which state we're going to meet in if something this horrendous ever strikes Southeastern Pennsylvania. (And it has - look up hurricane Agnes.)
Because the only thing I'm 100% sure of is that if something like this strikes MY house, my husband and I are on our own -- we can't rely on the government to bail us out.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at September 7, 2005 9:22 PM

The only thing I want to say is that we should've listened to George Washington in the first place.

Uh. What did George Washington say? I wasn't listening.

Have I mentioned lately that I hate the Comment Preview function?

Your paragraph breaks can deceive you - don't trust them.

Comment from: kirabug posted at September 7, 2005 9:35 PM

Y'now, now that I think about it, it all feels a lot like Into the Woods only much much more horrible.

Comment from: siwangmu posted at September 7, 2005 9:52 PM

kirabug:

My hat is off to you. It is clean embarrassing how classy that post was. I mean, that, too--I actually feel chastened. Thanks for reminding me where my heart needs to be.
It's not that I still don't agree with everything I said, or that I'm going to forget my outrage--but I've never given blood, and it's damn well time to find out if they'll take me.

Comment from: kirabug posted at September 7, 2005 10:49 PM

Siwangmu, my apologies it certainly wasn't my intention to chasten. I'm just totally overwhelmed by it all. I can't possibly wrap my brain around who's to blame when there's just too much to do yet. That's just the way I'm wired.

If you're serious about giving blood, check here on the Red Cross page. Summer's really hard on blood supplies.

Comment from: Tangent posted at September 7, 2005 11:47 PM

32_Footsteps asked: I'm partly wondering if I'm included when Tangent says that he hates the jerks who live in Massachusetts. But as they say, if you have to wonder, then the answer is probably yes.

My response: If you like Websnark, that transcends you above the level of jerk and to the level of "person who tends to think about things"

Jerks usually don't think. They react blindly. From this, roadrage is born (and yes, I've suffered road rage, or more specificly, parking lot rage, but that was once and I never tried to hurt anyone, just screamed at the punks who stole a parking space from me while I was waiting for a car (that was suffering some sort of transmission trouble - the car literally hopped out of the parking space like its parking brake was on or somesuch, and they swooped in from behind me and took the space, nevermind the fact they almost hit my car and the car that left the space - it wasn't stealing the space so much but driving to endanger and then all four young... gentlemen laughing about it as they got out of their car that just broke me into a rage I've rarely felt, and left me actually using the "f" and "n" words for these four individuals... rather surprised me actually. I *really* had had a bad day before that point, but I'd never actually gotten that angry before. It was painful actually. *shakes head at self* Pathetic. Fortunately I didn't act on it.)

Anyway, if you think things through, you tend not to be a jerk. And as I said, there are plenty of people in Boston who aren't idiots. It's just the idiots who ruin it for everyone else.

Unless you're saying you're part of the Massachusetts government. In which case you're damned irrevocably and there's a special place in Hell waiting for you, the same hell where they keep the child molesters and those people who talk in theaters. Yes, that hell. ;)

And a nromlicious homemade oatmeal cookie to you if you catch that reference. :D

Rob

Comment from: larksilver posted at September 7, 2005 11:48 PM

So, for grins and giggles, I recheck the Red Cross list.. and... nope, no blood-giving for me. Not until I finish this series of antibiotics at any rate. Darn abcessed tooth.

During the last crisis for which I felt driven to donate blood, I couldn't give cause I was pregnant. It's probably just as well, given my eeeee! tendency about needles, but darnit, I was going to see if I could overcome it! Goodness knows giving birth to a baby meant being accustomed to all those poking and prodding things. The medical community seems to think of pregnancy as an illness or something, particularly if you're (as they so delicately put it) above your target weight, thus the blood tests for glucose tolerance, and iron deficiencies, etc. About the only good set o'needle pricks I can recall, the ones I felt WERE really useful, were the epidural (after 12 hours, I caved. I'm weak, what can I say?), and the Rh-factor blocker to keep me from developing antibioties against my next child, if they should have a different blood type than me, like the first did. Anyway. Needles. Bleh. Still, wanted to try!

Comment from: hermance posted at September 8, 2005 12:00 AM

"I'm disgusted by the fact that some of the media and some of Hollywood think that this is the time to point fingers, and have taken the focus away from "what do we do now" to "why did this happen?" before we've even found somewhere for all these people to stay."

Have these criticisms really taken away from people╠s focus on what do we do now? I think it's quite plausible that, if no one would have brought these points up and become so outraged in the first place, it might have taken much longer to find places for the evacuees to stay. I'm proud that people have demanded something better, and I think it's made a difference.

"I just wish that I could be even reasonably sure that George Bush was really the problem. I wish I could know that if Kerry (or for that matter, anyone else) was in there he could've done a better job. I wish I could be so sure. I wish I could blame the Constitution for giving states rights, or blame the Democrats for not understanding states rights."

Well, you can be sure that in the 2000 presidential debates, Bush commended James Lee Witt, Clinton╠s appointee to head FEMA, as well as the job the Clinton/Gore administration had done reforming the Agency. I think it╠s more than reasonable to ask why Bush then chose to load FEMA with so many of his campaign officials who had no experience with emergency management. It also seems reasonable and appropriate to ask what the federal response might mean about our government's ability to respond to future terrorist attacks--a main plank of this administration's 2004 campaign.

Can you be more specific about what you mean that Democrats don't understand by states' rights? If you are implying that Blanco did not declare a state of emergency on time, she actually did declare one on August 26 and sent a memo to Bush on August 28 asking for specific federal aid. (Washington Post recently had to correct an article in which an anonymous source from the Bush adminitration insisted that Blanco had not declared the state of emergency, if you were wondering how that misinformation spread.) Blanco rejected a federal overtaking of the response on Friday, September 2, because she interpreted it as a political orchestration designed to make everything that occurred before Friday seem to be entirely the local government's fault. Considering that this request wasn't made until almost six days after the hurricane struck, I can understand her wariness.

"Meantime, if nobody minds, I'll be giving blood, volunteering, donating some cash, and working out with my folks exactly which state we're going to meet in if something this horrendous ever strikes Southeastern Pennsylvania. (And it has - look up hurricane Agnes.)"

I've seen/heard comments like this lots of places, and I can╠t figure out why people think asking questions and helping out the victims of the hurricane are mutually exclusive. As I╠m sure you know, it doesn╠t take all of one╠s time to do the (very noble and commendable) actions you mention above. One can do them *and* read newspaper accounts and web sites in order to try to understand better the colossal governmental failure here█-local, state, and federal.

"Because the only thing I'm 100% sure of is that if something like this strikes MY house, my husband and I are on our own -- we can't rely on the government to bail us out."

You may find, like people in New Orleans, that you need a boat and a chain saw█-two items that even some ¤wealthyË evacuees needed to make it out. There are some times when larger infrastructure is necessary.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at September 8, 2005 12:43 AM

Actually, Tangent, I don't like talking about it much, but I am a part of the Massachusetts state government. I'm not going to say precisely which state agency I work at during the day (as much fun as I derive from video game reviewing, it doesn't pay all the bills yet). However, I cash a bi-weekly check issued by the Commonwealth for services rendered.

To be fair, I work for the state for the same reason Davan works for Medi-Tech in S*P - because there isn't a better place that's hiring for someone like me right now. But just in case Eric was wondering why Websnark got so many hits from a static IP owned by Massachusetts, now he knows.

Though I think you'll understand, when given a choice between saying "I'm a wage slave for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts" and "I review video games," I generally say the latter when asked about my profession.

Comment from: Tice with a J posted at September 8, 2005 1:39 AM

William_G wrote: Move that city out of there.

That's what's going to happen now. Rebuilding New Orleans will cost money with a capital M-O-N-E-Y, and with gas prices set to rise and rise again, the money is going to run out. The levees are going to take too long to fix, and flood waters will slow down reconstruction efforts further. I regret not going to see New Orleans before, because now, it's been washed away.

Comment from: Tangent posted at September 8, 2005 1:44 AM

Tsk. I use a quote meant to be humorous, and end up looking like an ass again.

Well, I suppose it helps that I'm an asshole. *shrug*

BTW, Eric, that stricture against badmouthing other people (besides you) that posts on Websnark... does that also hold against self-deprecation?

Rob

Comment from: Tangent posted at September 8, 2005 3:45 AM

Oh, btw, 32_Footsteps... I'm pursuing a career in teaching. So technically if I got a job as a teacher, I'd be working for the State. (And for that matter, I substituted in Massachusetts... which I think means I'm damned on Earth and in Hell. *grin* Though to be honest, I was fortunate enough to have decent kids to sub for...)

My little quote (from the Firefly series, Our Mrs. Reynalds) was meant for humor. Which I suppose shows you how pathetic my sense of humor it. *chuckle*

Rob

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at September 8, 2005 8:00 AM

Well, I never watched Firefly. I stopped being interested in most live action shows a while ago (The Daily Show is my one exception). People keep rving about it, so I'll probably borrow the DVDs off of someone at some point, unless the ranting hits the "I'm getting annoyed by the fans and thus won't like the show" level. (Also known as the Oversaturation Point or the Harry Potter Point for reasons that should be obvious).

As for calling oneself names - keep in mind that I effectively called myself a jerk and got away with it. I think as long as it stays above the belt with others and is clearly a joke, it should be fine.

Comment from: kirabug posted at September 8, 2005 8:01 AM

Have these criticisms really taken away from people╠s focus on what do we do now? I think it's quite plausible that, if no one would have brought these points up and become so outraged in the first place, it might have taken much longer to find places for the evacuees to stay. I'm proud that people have demanded something better, and I think it's made a difference.

I don't need to be outraged to look at thousands of displaced people who've lost everything and say, "Tell me how to help". If people require outrage to help their neighbors, we're in a sad place. And I don't for a minute believe we do.

Can you be more specific about what you mean that Democrats don't understand by states' rights? If you are implying that Blanco did not declare a state of emergency on time...[snipped for brevity]

No, I'm not implying at all. Because frankly, I'll be damned if I can find anywhere that I can trust the news not to be slanted one way or the other so that I can judge what really happened. I'll tell you what I'm hearing around here though. I'm hearing ignorant people saying that Bush shouldn't have waited for the state to declare an emergency, he should have had the National Guard sitting on their doorstop before the hurricane even hit. While that wouldn't have been impossible (despite what everyone's saying about "No Guard available" Pennsylvania was able to send troops down almost immediately) it would have gone against the process. State does A, so fed can do B so state can do C and on down the line.

I've seen/heard comments like this lots of places, and I can╠t figure out why people think asking questions and helping out the victims of the hurricane are mutually exclusive....One can do them *and* read newspaper accounts and web sites in order to try to understand better the colossal governmental failure here█-local, state, and federal.

I'm not saying the questions shouldn't be asked. I'm saying I'm not going to be the one asking them. I can read the paper and watch the news and read the web all day (I don't like to be one of those "gets her news in 30-second chunks" types) and I still won't know who's telling the truth in the news and who's telling the truth in which government seat. Please let me know when someone gets the facts straight.

And I'm not saying that to chastise, I'm not saying that to bully, I'm saying that because I don't know what else I can possibly do in a situation like this. I live in an overwhelmingly Blue state (though that's not how I voted) in a government being run by a president who can't be reelected. What the hell difference does it make to the situation right now whether it was his fault? For me - just me personally - not a hill of beans.

You may find, like people in New Orleans, that you need a boat and a chain saw█-two items that even some ¤wealthyË evacuees needed to make it out. There are some times when larger infrastructure is necessary.

That's very true. If I don't have the time or the ability to evacuate from an emergency in the future, I may have to depend on the government. But it's obvious I can't, so I'd better plan ahead.

Comment from: Karacan posted at September 8, 2005 9:29 AM

" I live in an overwhelmingly Blue state (though that's not how I voted) in a government being run by a president who can't be reelected. What the hell difference does it make to the situation right now whether it was his fault? For me - just me personally - not a hill of beans."

It's not (only) about the president, it's about the people behind, above, below and in front of him.

Presidents change, but the people they put in charge usually remain there, with a few changes. Or the people who put *them* in charge (like, "Hey, wouldn't it be a jolly good idea to get Mr. Bush up running for presidency?").

And while donating blood, which I do anyway on a half-year basis, I can very well read newspapers. And... well... if the federal government claims something, and the stately government claims something other, I am inclined to believe the later.

Comment from: Abs_of_Flab posted at September 8, 2005 9:42 AM

"I live in an overwhelmingly Blue state (though that's not how I voted) in a government being run by a president who can't be reelected. What the hell difference does it make to the situation right now whether it was his fault?"

It would make a large difference. Yes, he can't be reelected. But...it's early into his second term; if more people kept vigilant watch over what the man says and does, if public perception largely (or, a man dares to dream, uniformly) is focussed on his areas of weakness, there's not much chance he won't at least attempt to do better. He'd have to, both for his own political image (something he seems to be pretty damn concerned about) and for his party's hold on the majority. A chance to break his party's hold over the government is upcoming - would you not agree that even if Bush isn't eligible for reelection, his party members are? There's a midterm election in 2006, is there not?

He and the Republicans were given the vote (he called it his "political capital", did he not?) not to do nothing, not so that citizens can't depend on him. On the basis of polling data, it seems highly likely that Bush was voted in because voters felt he could keep them safe (and I'm not presuming to know the exact reasons why you voted the way you did; I'm only citing polls here). Bush et al. most certainly have not done that (and this is something that's in plain view with New Orleans, reported by news outlets of all stripes and slants - there's no disputing this debacle), and so long as people continue to not hold him accountable for his actions, he does not have any cause to change his policies. But if people make rumblings, if people demand better rather than just resign themselves to the notion that governments will be ineffectual, if his party's survival becomes an issue, then Bush and the Republicans will have to take action.

People worry that the blame game will lead to obfuscation, that nothing will get done. Bullshit, I say - you can help people AND still engage in critical thinking. Multi-tasking isn't beyond most of us. People also say that everyone pointing the finger or trying to pass the buck along will get in the way of doing the right thing. I say this: if everyone has the same information about actual documented events, finger-pointing by the main players is only going to last so long. There's a documented trail of requests, demands, and orders. Is everyone screaming "It's not my fault, it's his" really going to change that?

Apportioning blame is important, but it's not for vindictiveness' sake that it has to be done. It's because such spectacularly bad responses to such enormous tragedy has to be avoided in the future. It takes enormous effort from people with authority to do that. That effort won't be exerted if the people without authority don't demand it, or if voters don't threaten to vote the people with authority out of office for gross incompetence.

That's what kind of difference it would make to actively ponder the role of Bush in all this.

Comment from: vortexae posted at September 8, 2005 10:40 AM

You know what? Blame should absolutely be placed right now.

You know why?

Because those with whom the blame squarely rests are still in charge of the situation.

I'm not content with accountability being applied in time to prevent the next disaster going so badly. I want to see this disaster stop going badly now.

And that's not going to happen if we refuse to ask the very important question of "Who fucked this up and why are they still being allowed to fuck it up right now this very moment?"

Comment from: hermance posted at September 8, 2005 11:22 AM

"I'm not saying the questions shouldn't be asked. I'm saying I'm not going to be the one asking them. I can read the paper and watch the news and read the web all day (I don't like to be one of those "gets her news in 30-second chunks" types) and I still won't know who's telling the truth in the news and who's telling the truth in which government seat. Please let me know when someone gets the facts straight."

I'm really not trying to be mean or condescending here, but I find this statement incredibly depressing and deeply disturbing. It seems to represent the attitude and feeling of powerlessness that many Americans have: "There's no way I'll ever know what really happened, so I'll stop asking broader, critical questions because I can't trust the answers. Instead, I'll just perform local actions and hope for the best."

The point here is that--for something on this scale, like a huge natural disaster or a terrorist attack--one's local action is not adequate. Neighbors helping neighbors isn't enough. Much more than blood donations, the Gulf Coast needs rebuilding efforts, restored sanitation and utilities, and working pumps. I can't provide them that at my local food bank.

We have to be able rely on our government to provide adequate, timely help in situations like this. Even if every government official had the best intentions, it is clear this thing was not handled efficiently enough, and it's similarly clear that various levels of government can and must do better. I believe it's essential that a critical, informed citizenry be a part of that discussion.

It's also important to note that in a situation like this--a natural disaster, rather than the war in Iraq--we have a pretty reliable and public paper trail. We should be outraged that we have documented evidence in major media outlets that anonymous White House officials blatantly lied and claimed that Blanco didn't declare a state of emergency, when she did so days in advance of the hurricane. These lies should worry people, no matter who they voted for in 2004.

"...I'm saying that because I don't know what else I can possibly do in a situation like this. I live in an overwhelmingly Blue state (though that's not how I voted) in a government being run by a president who can't be reelected. What the hell difference does it make to the situation right now whether it was his fault? For me - just me personally - not a hill of beans."

I thought you lived in Pennsylvania. That is not an "overwhelmingly" Blue state. It was long thought it could go either way in 2004, and it's elected one of the most conservative Senators today. Still, I don't understand what that has to do with anything. This is supposed to be our federal government, and this administration, more than any other, has claimed to be prepared to handle dire, emergency situations. They've been trumpeting their progress and spending lots of money. I don't know why it's not wholly appropriate to ask what it's been spent on, can it get spent better, and what else we should be doing.

Why is that finger pointing? Why can't we read up on these agencies, the structure of the government, and the details of this tragedy, particulary as more information becomes released? In a representative democracy, isn't that our responsibility?

If we believe that we could never divine any sense of "truth" about a situation as public and well documented as this, then I fear that we are in a sad state.

Comment from: Prodigal posted at September 8, 2005 12:07 PM

The government screwed up on every level. But the screwing-up that I find most offensive is on the federal level - why? They screwed up most and worst.

When Governor Blanco called on Bush to declare the parts of her state that were going to be hit a federal disaster area on August 27th, and he did so, we should have seen at least as good a response to Katrina as we saw to Floyd when Clinton made a similar declaration. We didn't. Instead, we got FEMA and Homeand Security personnel turning away volunteers and supplies, and FEMA chief Brown expressing surprise on September 1st that there were still people in the Superdome without food and water.

That goes beyond incompetence, if you ask me. Exactly what it goes to, I can't say, although I'm hoping it's no worse than criminal neglect. Either way, Brown needs to go back to breeding horses.

Comment from: John posted at September 8, 2005 12:13 PM

Alright, for everyone who believes Bush is the devil incarnate:

You know that whole mandatory evacuation of New Orleans?

The completely unprecedented, mandatory evacuation?

The one that saved countless lives?

Guess who personally called up the governor and pleaded for that to be put into effect?

President Effing Bush.

And for those of you blaming underfunded levee repair:

Guess which breached levee led to the flooding of New Orleans?

One of the most recently upgraded and most improved levees they had.

There's a lot of blame to go around. It's shocking that, four years after 9/11, we're apparently less prepared to handle a widespread urban disaster than we were then. And Bush does have to take some flack for that ("first rule of leadership: everything is your fault"). But the first line of defense has always got to be the authorities that are already there. New Orleans was a city of inefficient bureaucracy and corrupt, self-serving public servants. It dug its own grave by failing to address its own deterioration from within. Katrina just washed away what was left.

Comment from: Prodigal posted at September 8, 2005 12:26 PM

The levee that breached was designed to withstand a Category 3 storm, and KAtrina was still at least a Category 4 when it reached it, and caused flooding that eroded the side of it that was not designed to hold back water.

Not that I believe that Bush is anything incarnate, just that as soon as he declared the area a federal disaster area, it becam his and his administration's responsibility to deal with the aftermath of Katrina - and that he did a damn poor job of it.

Comment from: Prodigal posted at September 8, 2005 12:31 PM

I just noticed the "completely unprecedented" part of your reply, John. I fear you are mistaken, because Clinton ordered a mandatory evacuation prior to Hurrican Floyd making landfall during his term.

Comment from: hermance posted at September 8, 2005 12:31 PM

John, I don't disagree that all levels of government need to be closely examined here, but I do believe it's important to make facts as clear as possible. And your claims don't match the article you link to.

The first article at nola.com states, as is true, that *Mayor Nagin* called for the mandatory evacuation. It was the first mandatory evacuation ever declared in New Orleans.

The NY Times article begins with a discussion of how a substantial amount of the levee's refurbishing budget had been cut by the federal government in recent years:

"The 17th Street levee that gave way and led to the flooding of New Orleans was part of an intricate, aging system of barriers and pumps that was so chronically underfinanced that senior regional officials of the Army Corps of Engineers complained about it publicly for years.

Often leading the chorus was Alfred C. Naomi, a senior project manager for the corps ¸.
Mr. Naomi grew particularly frustrated this year as the Gulf Coast braced for what forecasters said would be an intense hurricane season and a nearly simultaneous $71 million cut was announced in the New Orleans district budget to guard against such storms¸..

In an interview last night, Mr. Naomi said the cuts had made it impossible to complete contracts for vital upgrades that were part of the long-term plan to renovate the system....

Since 2001, the Louisiana Congressional delegation had pushed for far more money for storm protection than the Bush administration has accepted. Now, Mr. Naomi said, all the quibbling over the storm budget, or even over full Category 5 protection, which would cost several billion dollars, seemed tragically absurd."

I think there is a serious point to be made about local officials' responsibility, but these articles don't make them.

Comment from: kirabug posted at September 8, 2005 1:00 PM

I'm really not trying to be mean or condescending here, but I find this statement incredibly depressing and deeply disturbing. It seems to represent the attitude and feeling of powerlessness that many Americans have: "There's no way I'll ever know what really happened, so I'll stop asking broader, critical questions because I can't trust the answers. Instead, I'll just perform local actions and hope for the best."

Nonononono... I must not be explaining myself well. Me. Just me. Not speaking for broader Americans. Not feeling powerless. Feeling quite confident in three things:

A) My personal talents are better used to serve this country by doing things than yelling about them.

B) I personally don't need to get emotionally invested in who's to blame because I know there are plenty of people already doing it. Hell, there's plenty of people just in this blog already doing it. It's obvious that most people posting here know tons more about the situation than I do. Good. Keep up the good work.

C) If I try to research this and learn more about it and get emotionally invested in how angry we should all be, then I won't be able to perform A to the best of my abilities.

And maybe it's the engineer or the dictator in me, but I don't ask who, I ask why. We all know that every area has an emergency management plan. Why did that process fail? Was it a flaw in the process? Was it a weak link (physical or person?) Was it multiple weak links? What needs to be done to fix the process?

I still say I'll let the rest of you go find the who.

Comment from: Tangent posted at September 8, 2005 2:39 PM

I find it interesting that people have provided links which suggest that Bush actually was less at fault than some people are claiming he was... and that after those links, more people are once again demanding his head on a pike and insisting that Bush should have done more.

Bush did what he was constitutionally mandated to do. He is not King (even if he wishes he were). He doesn't have the ability to toss aside State and Local jurisdiction because he perceives a threat (though I won't be surprised at all if the Fed. Legislature passes additional Executive Powers to let him and future presidents do just that). Yes, he's an idiot. Yes, it took longer than we think it should have for aid to get to New Orleans. But he is but one person for whom blame should be appointed.

Mind you, I hate George "The Shrub" Bush intensely. I met him in person once and I didn't get a good feel from him. And the only reason I'm glad he got in this term is that I feel Kerry would have been a far worse choice for this country. So if I'm defending him... maybe that's because it's not all his fault.

Rob, who should just let this discussion lie...

Comment from: BNPLAYN posted at September 8, 2005 2:43 PM

I agree that our government should have stepped in before it happened.
It's like when I see my son doing something that he might get hurt. Damn straight I am going to step in to stop him or be there to help him if he got hurt. The government is like our parents they are suppose to look out for us. Not to look out for their pockets.

They had days to act Bush sat there and did nothing.

Just like our Gas prices that is another national disaster but what do you exspect Bush to do. Not make a living. Both times gas price have been at an all time high was when a Bush has been in office. Bush doesn't care about the country. He cares about his pocket that's why we can't find Osama. Family business oil. Bush is sitting there killing us in every way. He has screwed the American people as much as 1 person can possibly do.

Bill got impeached for getting a bit of tail and lied under oath. In my mind Bush has done treason against the US.

He's got us where we need to make a decision whether to spend 3.09 on a gallon a gas to get to work or feed our kids. BUT THAT╠S THE CATCH 22. You need to go to work to feed your kids.

Reagan had the plan and he said not to change it. It worked why did every president after him have to fix it.
IF IT AINT BROKE DON"T FIX IT!!! Go back to the plan to the letter.

It's a sad thing that our own government look╠s out for the rich and screws the poor any chance they get.

You put the rich in the office you get screwed. They became rich for some reason.

The fact is our government, we can no longer trust to look out for the best interests of our country it is a truly sad day!!!

Comment from: kirabug posted at September 8, 2005 4:50 PM

BNPlayn wrote:

The government is like our parents they are suppose to look out for us....[Bush] got us where we need to make a decision whether to spend 3.09 on a gallon a gas to get to work or feed our kids... You put the rich in the office you get screwed. They became rich for some reason.

I think I'm going to take a break from this thread. It's gotten on my nerves.

Comment from: Prodigal posted at September 8, 2005 9:28 PM

For me, it's as simple as this: Once the President declares a place to be a federal disaster area, he's assumed responsibility for fixing things. And Bush made the declaration on the 27th.

Anything beyond that is just repetition of what I or somebody else already said too many times, so I'll leave it at that.

Comment from: Tangent posted at September 8, 2005 11:21 PM

Um... declaring a region a Federal Disaster Area is usually to mandate the region so it can get Federal low-interest loans and such for repairs. It doesn't mean that the Federal Government steps in and fixes everything up.

The Federal Government is not a parent. It is not a teacher. It is an organization that creates laws to allow our civilization to exist. This includes such things as a military force to protect us, taxes to pay for infrastructure, and so forth.

The idea of "Big Brother" taking care of everything is a liberal viewpoint, and is also flawed in that we've seen, over and over again, when "Big Brother" gets involved with social engineering, it tends to screw things up. Bureaucracy does that sort of thing.

Now, when it comes to building dams, fixing the levees now that they're broke, and repairing the highways... seeing that the government has been in the business of doing this for quite some time... we'll probably see it do just that. However, no dam is built overnight. No highway is paved in one day. It will take time.

The government is not God. Don't expect perfection. Just pray for it. ;)

Rob

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at September 8, 2005 11:46 PM

The idea of "Big Brother" taking care of everything is a liberal viewpoint, and is also flawed in that we've seen, over and over again, when "Big Brother" gets involved with social engineering, it tends to screw things up. Bureaucracy does that sort of thing.

Big Brother, to note, is a conservative dictator in 1984, not a liberal. The name "Big Brother" is ironic, not intended as written, and fascism is extreme right. Communism's the extreme-left totalitarianism. But I digress.

Government is also a place where people come together when things are larger than individuals can handle. When the visigoths attack, we can't defend ourselves against them. We need a military to do that. When businesses were more than willing to enforce eighty hour work weeks on the poor, it took government to say "no, you don't get to work people to death for pennies. You don't get to employ five year olds as chimney sweeps. You don't get to pay blacks less than whites for the same work. You don't get to throw blacks off your bus and beat them for talking to a white woman without repercussions. And yes, those children over there whose parents have no money still have to be given an education, so they can actually do something else with their lives."

No, the government isn't going to rebuild New Orleans. But it is going to have to deal with the hundreds of thousands of refugees left in the wake of it, because a Hurricane is bigger than any one of us. It's bigger than any one hundred thousand of us.

It's said that the Liberal Intent of Government is to Do Good, and the Conservative Intent of Government is to Not Do Evil, and I think that's fair. I think we need both those impulses. We need conservatives sitting to one side arguing the true core ideals of conservatism -- self reliance, individual rights, individual responsibility. But we also need liberals sitting to the other side arguing the core ideals of liberalism -- equal rights for everyone, a basic standard of living and education, and a sense of community responsibility.

And very very few politicians (not none, sadly, but few) are arguing that nothing should be done for the refugees and the people of New Orleans. George Bush's ennui may be palpable, but I don't think that's typical of the Republican party. Don't forget, even as George Bush traveled around the country and got guitars and things, Senator Bill Frist went down to the region, took off his coat and started practicing medicine. Without charge.

Anyway.

Comment from: Prodigal posted at September 9, 2005 1:14 AM

Here's the relevant part of Bush's declaration:

The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives, protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the parishes of Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Caldwell, Claiborne, Catahoula, Concordia, De Soto, East Baton Rouge, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Franklin, Grant, Jackson, LaSalle, Lincoln, Livingston, Madison, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Pointe Coupee, Ouachita, Rapides, Red River, Richland, Sabine, St. Helena, St. Landry, Tensas, Union, Vernon, Webster, West Carroll, West Feliciana, and Winn.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Debris removal and emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding. As far as I'm concerned, once the President says that FEMA is in charge, they're in charge.

Comment from: lucastds posted at September 9, 2005 1:23 AM

The Feds can mobilize to save sailors in a Russian submarine in 5 hours.

They take 3 days to get to New Orleans.

How that makes sense is beyond me.

Comment from: IntentionallyWrong posted at September 9, 2005 9:29 AM

I'm not touching the political issue. I've said my bit in the places where it matters; for now, I just wanted to say that it's freaking awesome that the reason you never use cuts is because of The Ferrett. He's the reason I never plan to use a cut, either.

Comment from: Zernik posted at September 11, 2005 5:41 AM

Finally signed in here, just for this.
Anyway.

The big problem here is no longer that the current administration failed (which they did) or that the local officials were protective - overly so or not - of their priveleges. The problem is that America no longer has the organization and infrastructure where a clusterf*** like this is impossible.

That kind of decline can't be explained by blaming it on one president or administration. I will interject here that I am definitely anti-Bush; however, even though he probably made things worse, it is not his fault. This is bigger than Bush's, or the Republicans', or the Federal Government's failure. It is OUR failure. America's failure.

Asa

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at September 12, 2005 12:55 PM

My personal views on the amount of blame to be levied on others is well-trodden. But I just want to add this.

On Friday, I finally got to read Time Magazine's story on Katrina and its aftermath. After reading the Boston Globe's dry recitation of numbers throughout the week, I got to read Time's in depth look at the disaster, all while watching the Daily Show interview a journalist who described precisely what he saw in New Orleans.

At this, I finally cried, and sat just asking myself, "What have we become?" Not shock at what happened. Just sadness at what America had become, as evidenced by the government (as opposed to the private) reaction to this all.

Comment from: Connor Moran posted at September 14, 2005 7:12 AM

There's a pretty good chance that everyone who cares about the issue of blame has seen this already, but to me this effectively ends the argument so I thought it was worth posting:


"Bush on response: Blame me"

I must say that I respect Bush a little bit more because of this. That's not to say that he gets a pass on this responsibility, not by a long shot. But we could have seen more of the runaround we've been getting for years. We didn't. We could have spent years trying to put definitive blame. But Bush did what a leader does: took responsibility. Because the fact is, the United States government failed. As the leader of that government, George Walker Bush failed, no matter what his personal role.

The buck stops here, said Mr. Truman, and for the first time in a presidency that is being acknowledged.

P.S. I find it hilarious that the pollster quoted in the article above said, "the buck kind of stops at the White House." Kind of? I hope he means that because the president wasn't actually at the White House, the buck had to jump around for a while to find him. Otherwise, that statement is just pathetic.

P.P.S. Bush still really oughta sell the ranch.

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