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Rantings of a Sandmonkey

Be forewarned: The writer of this blog is an extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian, disgruntled sandmonkey. If this is your cup of tea, please enjoy your stay here. If not, please sod off

Friday, September 02, 2005

The "Blame Bush for the Katrina Aftermath" bandwagon

Andrew Sullivan is jumping on it! Update: So is Tim Naftali from Slate. Moneyshot: Building the capability? How is it possible that with the fourth anniversary of 9/11 almost upon us, the federal government doesn't have in hand the capability to prepare for and then manage a large urban disaster, natural or man-made? In terms of the challenge to government, there is little difference between a terrorist attack that wounds many people and renders a significant portion of a city uninhabitable, and the fallout this week from the failure of one of New Orleans' major levees. Indeed, a terrorist could have chosen a levee for his target. Or a dirty-bomb attack in New Orleans could have caused the same sort of forced evacuation we are seeing and the widespread sickness that is likely to follow. Chertoff's Department of Homeland Security demonstrated today that it could organize an impressive press conference in Washington, lining up every participating civilian or military service from the Coast Guard to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to promise its cooperation. But on the ground in Louisiana, where it counts, DHS is turning out to be the sum of its inefficient parts. The department looks like what its biggest critics predicted: a new level of bureaucracy grafted onto a collection of largely ineffectual under-agencies. Ouch! What has DHS been doing if not readying itself and its subcomponents for a likely disaster? The collapse of a New Orleans levee has long led a list of worst-case urban crisis scenarios. The dots had already been connected. Over the last century, New Orleans has sunk 3 feet deeper below sea level. With each inch, pressure grows along the levees. Meanwhile the loss of wetlands and the shrinking of the Gulf Coast's barrier islands have reduced the natural protection from hurricane winds. The weakness of the levees was underscored in a 2002 wide-ranging exploration of New Orleans' hurricane vulnerability by the New Orleans Times-Picayune, one of many grimly vindicated Cassandras. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, which built the levees and continues to manage them, told the paper then that there was little threat of a levee's collapse. But the corps admitted that its estimates were 40 years old and that no one had bothered to update them. While a little harsh, this article does raise a valid point: What if this wasn't a hurricane but a WMD attack? The repsonse from the people, in the lack of any help for 4 days, would be extreemly similar to what's going on in NOLA right now. If they didn't have a plan for that, well, then what have they been doing for 3 years now? If there is one upside to this tragedy, i am guessing this is it: It will force them to have better plans for next time. This is a horrible but necessary wake-up call to a department that has gotten lazy in the absence of terrorist attacks on US soil. If they can't handle the evacuation and the relief of a major US city (which is the primary target area for terrorists) then they shouldn't be working where they are right now. Update: President Clinton comes to the defense of George W. Bush and slams CNN for nitpicking and criticizing the relief efforts. Interesting!


At 9/02/2005 07:36:00 AM, Blogger Highlander said...

Yes this is a wake up call indeed.

At 9/02/2005 08:08:00 AM, Blogger Papa Ray said...


Well, sure ol' " Slick Willie" would say something along those lines, as he has had a lot of experience with the "Press. He knows how things get sucked..er..I mean slanted in the news media.

All kidding aside, the NO disaster has been in the making for almost three HUNDRED years. The American Indians that lived in that area, refered to it as the "sinking land" before the French ever showed up.

Leave it up to the French and other newcomers to build a city on land that was sinking and was in the middle of the exit of one of the world's largest rivers into an ocean.

But, you know those early settlers were all positive thinkers. They knew if they built a port city that they could make money hand over fist.

People started building levees and dams and cutting and burning and generally screwing up what nature had spent thousands of years building and maintaining.

Yep, thats been going on since, and the people that know, say we are not only making it worse, we are just putting good money after bad in trying to change Mother Nature to our benifit and advantage.

Never Happen.

When you build a levee (or for that matter a building) and it is continually sinking (inches every year), you should start to thinking..." Is this a good idea"?

It's kinda like building a multi-million building on a fault line. You have to ask, "Can I get rich off this before it falls down during a earthquake?'

LA (Louye-a-anna) (as I called it when I was in Basic Training back in 67. has always been considered by us Texans as a "backwater, underpriviliged, underdeveloped state. Not so much said in a demeaning manner, just as a fact of nature and just "what is".

Hell, forgot my point, my love of my life, my sweet GrandDaughter came in and wants to get on "the comm-puter" and play on "NickJR.

Oh well, maybe I will remember later.

Papa Ray
West Texas

At 9/02/2005 10:39:00 AM, Blogger ArmyArtilleryWife said...

Come visit my site. I have a post on what the administration did and when.


What this should be about is the victims...what it IS about is blaming Bush for anything and everything.

If you need a laugh, which is important even in the wake of the worst tragedy: http://www.scrappleface.com/MT/archives/002306.html

We have a thing called federalism in this country--there are specific rules about when the federal government can act and what it can do.

With regards to preparation, some of that has to fall to individuals. They knew the hurricane was coming and those who are trapped chose to stay and chose not to prepare. Sure, there may be some with valid reasons and I'm sure there were some supplies that washed away...but I think those are the exceptions.

We have poor families arriving in our towns right now who fled the hurricane and we are taking care of them.

As to levee-reinforcing, it is 20-20 hindsight. Yeah, it is predictable that the levee would break (Led Zeppelin ROCKS, BTW ;-) ) when a monster storm hit directly. What wasn't clear was when that would happen. If they had rebuilt the levees in favor of some other project and then THAT project had been necessary to prevent a disaster, everyone would be pointing fingers about that one.

At 9/02/2005 11:38:00 AM, Blogger Papa Ray said...

Varifrank Nails it !! This is someone I read almost everyday. No, he is not a famous blogger but he writes much better than most. And..what matters to me is he writes it where even I can understand what he is saying.

If I had his talent, I wouldn't be a broke down ex-vet collecting disability and waiting to die....Oh, forgot, I can't die until my Love of My Life, Sweet Sarah, my one and only Favorite GrandDaughter has grown up and I have bought her, her favorite most wanted car.

Right now it is a bright red VW convertible with PURPLE flowers.

Of course, she is only 4 1/2 now, but I sure hope she gets what she wants.

If I'm around, you can be very sure of it.

Papa Ray
West Texas

At 9/02/2005 01:15:00 PM, Blogger programmer craig said...

A nuclear weapon would have destroyed the city AND the residents, SM. Although they (the feds) would certainly need a huge relief effort to aid the millions of people who would have radiation poisoning. But, really, no matter how big the relief effort, a nuclear attack would be unmanageable, right from the start.

At 9/02/2005 02:23:00 PM, Blogger Jen said...

The blame game is a waste of effort at this point, there will be plenty of time to assess blame after we can actually figure out what happened, after it's really all over.

Still, the blaming is understandable. It comes from people watching this debacle unfold in helpless horror. What else can you do but rage against whoever you normally rage against?

Still, there is a big difference between blaming the mayor of a below-sea-level city for lack of flood preparedness, and blaming the president for causing a hurricane because he didn't stop global warming.

Can we at least blame the violent anarchists for causing violent anarchy, or wouldn't that be politically correct?

At 9/02/2005 04:37:00 PM, Blogger Josie said...

I agree the blame game is pointless right now -- but when this is over Louisiana will need to do serious work. I'm a Floridian & before anybody says anything about Pres. Bush they need to talk about what the local and state governments did, and consequently, the people of Lousiana that have been electing these people. I definitely feel that they have not been handling N.O. right for a long time, and they did not handle this storm right either.

Jen, you made me think - the protest warriors for when they attend marches where the anarchists show up, & it should say something like: "Anarchy Now! Look how great it worked in New Orleans!"

At 9/02/2005 04:38:00 PM, Blogger Josie said...

errr, that was supposed to say, "the protest warriors need a sign for when..."

At 9/02/2005 05:03:00 PM, Blogger Josie said...

Well, I made my own post about who bears most of the blame:

At 9/02/2005 05:08:00 PM, Anonymous Pat in Houston said...

Home Land Security scope of view was disaster limited in area. The big post-disaster problem is logistics. There was a letter copied on instapudit: http://www.instapundit.com/ that provides several of the details:

I run a trade association of tank truck carriers trying to assist in the relief efforts by transporting food and potable water. I'm in regular contact with many of the companies, and here are some "on the ground" facts: 
1) Large trucks (80,000 lbs. gross weight) almost always have to use the Interstates. For trucks attempting to come in from outside the area, most of those roads (approaching the disaster area) are either closed or have bridges out. The so-called secondary roads may be somewhat passable, but their bridges (over rivers and streams) are not built to sustain such loads. Simply stated, you can't get there from here.
2) Trucks domicled in those areas (because that's where the companies traditionally serve customers) are still underwater, thus the equipment is not accessible;
3) Nobody in their right mind is going to take loads of gasoline and fuel oil into a city controlled by unfriendly folks carrying automatic weapons. A tank truck loaded with 8,000 gallons of gasoline can produce a very impressive fire;
4) Those local trucking companies can't contact their drivers. There's no power, thus (even) cellular is unavailable, and many of the drivers homes (in places like Kenner, Slidel, Metarie, etc) have been destroyed and families dispersed. I have one member with about 120 drivers and mechanics in that immediate area. To date, management has been able to contact 12. Those in the National Guard have been mobilized and are not available to drive.
5) Pumps -- needed to load the vehicles -- don't work because there's no power.

At 9/02/2005 05:20:00 PM, Blogger Papa Ray said...

I found an interesting link. I found an interesting link. You can't push a rope. I've commented on this subject in several places on the Net. Not in such concise sentences nor with such common sense.

Read it and think about it, and he didn't even cover a lot of other problems that have to be overcome.

Sure mistakes in planning and in such took place at all levels. Don't worry there will be enough blood and blame for everyone.

Papa Ray
West Texas

At 9/02/2005 06:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

People who blame the federal govement for this obiviously don't understand what a federalized Republic is!

At 9/02/2005 09:00:00 PM, Anonymous Mactek said...

The outrage, or some say "blaming", is perfectly valid. I feel ALL levels of government, local, state and federal, are to blame.

Some officials say that they couldn't foresee the levees breaking are either lying through their teeth or just plain stupid.

People have known about the problem for years. This is not a surprise. The government (local and state) didn't get caught with their pants down... those corrupt idiots just decided to ignore it pure and simple.

Lots of people are to blame. The local officals are to blame for not helping to create an economic boom in New Orleans that every other southern city experienced throughout the years. The poor and uneducated simply stayed poor and uneducated. They didn't have the means to escape beforehand.

The Governor is to blame for not sending in the remaining Louisana National Guard before the hurricane.

State representatives are to blame for not strengthening the levee system... and for allowing the destruction of the coastal swamps/marshes that created a natural buffer.

Bush is to blame for not getting his Federal shit togther fast, fast, fast!

At 9/03/2005 02:34:00 AM, Anonymous Tina said...

Bush is to blame for not getting his Federal shit togther fast, fast, fast!

Mactek: You've GOT to be kidding! Do you have any idea how much has been mobilized and how quickly it got on it's way?

There's a little problem when bridges are washed out completely, when roads have to be checked before heavy transport can go ahead after something that vast.

Besides, everyone forgets that the governor of a state is the commander in chief for the National Guard and she has to call them out, and she has to request specific numbers from the feds. It's a protection written right into our constitution.

You can only have so many helicopters flying around, and that number was completely taken pulling people off their roofs before they died of dehydration. You can go without food for several days, but not water in that kind of heat and humidity.

I'm sick of the finger pointing. This country has to pull together because I think most people are not aware of what a giant disaster this is. It's more than New Orleans, although according to the press there is only one city involved. It's the whole Gulf Coast. We've got work to do, anyone who wants to sit around and complain about nonesense will eventually look around and notice that they are sitting all alone.

At 9/03/2005 10:55:00 AM, Anonymous Mactek said...

Are you from the Gulf Coast, Tina? I'd really like to know. Have you ever been through a hurricane before?

Are you upset because I say that Bush bears some responsibility? Sweetheart, get a grip!

It's real simple, if TV trucks and buses can get in, so can anything that can provide immediate relief.

Do those people have to wait around for the 2 months for a road to get rebuilt? Bullshit! Someone isn't trying hard enough.

It's a lack of planning, coordination, and communication. That's the government's responsibility...at ALL levels.

Texans are pulling together, Tina. Texas is absorbing most of the people across the affected gulf coast. But we need to be critical of the government's response at the disaster areas. Their immediate response was pathetic.

At 9/03/2005 03:56:00 PM, Blogger Moron99 said...

I blame the environmentalists. Katrina would have died in Florida if the everglades and Florida bay hadn't been so warm. And they would not have been so warm, even with the lack of local rainfall, if restoration projects weren't being blocked. Who is blocking them? Bush and his evil corporate cronies? No such luck. The environmentalists are blocking it in order to protect manatee habitat. You see, the everglades can't be restored without water and if that water gets sent to the everglades then the manatees will lose their winter homes. Yeah, let's all blame global warming. Hmmph. If it wasn't for the manatee huggers Katrina would have never made it out of the everglades.


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