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August 31, 2005

Why everyone didn’t leave
Posted by Patrick at 02:07 PM *

This eye-opening rant by talented Southern writer Cherie Priest on what it’s like to have no money and no options, and no place to go, should be required reading for tsk-tsking newsreaders who’ve never missed a meal in their lives.

Also, an addendum here:

It was mentioned in the comments of that particular entry that the locals shown on the news tended to be the blustery type—“Evacuation be damned! I’m going to stick it out!” It’s easy to put these people on TV, because they make for good soundbytes—and they make it easier for the masses to care less when they get killed. Why, they practically asked for it! Darwin’s system is at work, and those too stupid to escape got what was coming to ‘em.

But the truth is this: people with no resources and no possibility of evacuation would rather look stubborn and angry than helpless and trapped. There is strength in the appearance of willfullness, and in obstinate defiance of authority. It saves face to say, “Screw you all! I don’t want to leave and you can’t make me!” rather than to admit the truth, which is that they couldn’t go even if they wanted to.

Also, in the comments to the first post, the astonishing news that they closed the Greyhound station on Saturday. Words fail.

Now, of course:

The governor of Louisiana says everyone needs to leave New Orleans due to flooding from Hurricane Katrina. “We’ve sent buses in. We will be either loading them by boat, helicopter, anything that is necessary,” Gov. Kathleen Blanco said.

With all due sympathy for the governor, it’s hard to avoid wondering why the heroic measures couldn’t have been taken before the storm, rather than after. Oh, wait, I know! If we’d had a plan to evacuate the tens of thousands of New Orleans residents who didn’t own cars, someone might have gotten something for free that they didn’t deserve. Which, in questions of American public policy, is always and forever the most important concern.

Comments on Why everyone didn't leave:
#1 ::: Leigh Butler ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 03:42 PM:

And you know, when I linked to her, I didn't even initially realize that Ms. Priest is under contract to Tor.

Heh. Synergy.

#2 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 03:52 PM:

Good post over on tapped on this, pointing to other articles on the same topic. It points to a simply breathtaking bit of programming on FoxNews:

Meanwhile, FOX News last night had a fellow named Jack Chambliss on arguing that the Constitution doesn't provide for disaster relief efforts, and that private individuals should bear the burden:
[T]he founding fathers never intended, Article One, section Eight of the Constitution, never intended to provide one dollar of taxpayer dollars to pay for any disaster or anything that we might call charity. What we now have is the law of unintended consequences taking place, where FEMA has come into New Orleans, a place where, ecologically, it makes no sense to have levees keeping the Mississippi River from flooding into New Orleans, like it naturally should.
It's hard to imagine how someone can be that bereft of fellow-feeling or sympathy for his countrymen. But leave it to FOX News to ask "Should Taxpayer Dollars Rebuild New Orleans?" while the rest of the nation is transfixed by the near-total loss of one of America's major cities.

Damm fool can't even get the flooding right -- the Mississippi hasn't flooded, at least not yet. And do community colleges have "professors"?

Whoops, now that I look on Valencia's site, they do, endowed chairs and everything, even though these professors don't seem to have doctorates. And Jack Chambless teaches stuff like this: The Moral Case for Capitalism

#3 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 03:56 PM:

Figures.

Chambless publishes inthe Wall Street Journal and US News and World Report. Seems to be a libertarian type that thinks that a proper economic view of things can solve it all. Jerk.

#4 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 04:26 PM:

Is there something about these guys that keeps them from understanding that prosperity is a general good?

#5 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 04:33 PM:

Teresa, I think it's that same old thrice-damned Calvinist nonsense.

#6 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 04:35 PM:

These guys don't understand the idea of "general good." To them, it's all a zero-sum game.

And I have to comment on this:

If we’d had a plan to evacuate the tens of thousands of New Orleans residents who didn’t own cars, someone might have gotten something for free that they didn’t deserve. Which, in questions of American public policy, is always and forever the most important concern.

It seems to me that this is the root flaw of American culture. We are never going to fix our problems in healthcare, education, etc, until we learn, as a people, to stop looking at everyone else's plate to make sure no one got a bigger piece of cake.

#7 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 04:39 PM:

The fear of giving away something for free to those who can do without may have been the reason, but if so it's somewhat nonsensical given that anyone with a car would definitely be driving it, loaded up with as much of their stuff as they could carry.

#8 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 04:56 PM:

Teresa: They've already dismantled the core achievements of the Democratic Party, so now they've started on the Whigs.

Patrick: Thanks for posting this.

#9 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 05:04 PM:

someone might have gotten something for free that they didn’t deserve

In America, many people get lots of things for free on a regular basis. However, they deserve it, because they are successful, and because they made campaign contributions to the right people.

#10 ::: will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 05:33 PM:

I googled "new orleans emergency planning" and found out who was responsible for what we've been seeing: a private company called IEM. I haven't been able to find what they did for their "more than half a million dollar contract with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency." If I had to put money on it, I'd go with "brainstorming over brewskis at a strip bar."

#11 ::: Janice Gelb ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 05:37 PM:

There's another category of people besides the "I'm ridin' it out no matter what" blusterers and the indigent, and that's the tourists who couldn't get a flight out before the airport was closed, obviously didn't have local transportation, and probably only a lucky few could have scored a rental car. Surprised we haven't heard more about those unlucky people -- I'm sure some of them help make up the Superdome refugee total. There but for the...

#12 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 05:45 PM:

Janice, our local news stations in Honolulu are following the story of four Hawai'i paramedics who were attending the EMS Expo in New Orleans last week, and who are now stuck in their hotel. At least they're people whose skills might be useful...

#13 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 05:52 PM:

It seems to me that this is the root flaw of American culture. We are never going to fix our problems in healthcare, education, etc, until we learn, as a people, to stop looking at everyone else's plate to make sure no one got a bigger piece of cake.

You know what amazes me? I've known a lot of Americans, both intimately and casually, and all of them with extremely few exceptions were amazingly generous and warm-hearted souls that always seemed on the verge of tearing out their hearts to give them to you, and in my case, sometimes did.

So, either they have me fooled well and good, or theirs is something weirdly contradictory about the private behavior and public attitude of Americans in general.

(Of course, most of my friends are morally on a different planet from Chambless; but I've seen the same attitude in people who would probably vote for his chums.)

#14 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 06:14 PM:

Anna Feruglio Dal Dan on August 31, 2005, 05:52 PM wrote, in response to

It seems to me that this is the root flaw of American culture. We are never going to fix our problems in healthcare, education, etc, until we learn, as a people, to stop looking at everyone else's plate to make sure no one got a bigger piece of cake.

the commentary,

You know what amazes me? I've known a lot of Americans, both intimately and casually, and all of them with extremely few exceptions were amazingly generous and warm-hearted souls that always seemed on the verge of tearing out their hearts to give them to you, and in my case, sometimes did.

So, either they have me fooled well and good, or theirs is something weirdly contradictory about the private behavior and public attitude of Americans in general.

(Of course, most of my friends are morally on a different planet from Chambless; but I've seen the same attitude in people who would probably vote for his chums.)

The issue is that the US Government has been hijacked by intolerant theocrats/

#15 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 06:20 PM:

While I think the idea that FEMA should be dismantled is incredibly stupid (which means, of course, the Bush administration is doing it), I hate the idea of rebuilding New Orleans in the same place or anyone's beach property with public funds.
New Orleans has been a disaster waiting to happen for a very long time.

And now, it's happened.

#16 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 06:25 PM:

The issue is that the US Government has been hijacked by intolerant theocrats/

Oh I know that. But they did it by swindling a large part of genuinely kind-hearted Americans by making them espouse the notion that "love thy neighbour" is somehow a bad thing. That's what I can't understand. Well, I can understand it better after readin "What's the matter with Kansas", but it still baffles me at a visceral level.

#17 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 06:39 PM:

Anna, there's a difference in the way we regard people we know and people we don't know. For instance, most Americans believe there is something terribly wrong with our educational system, but if you ask them about the schools their own kids go to, they'll say *those* teachers are different--dedicated and caring.

So, if you're talking about people in a particular way, like the residents of New Orleans we've seen on CNN, the usual response is generosity. If you're talking about faceless, unamed people receiveing benefits from a government beaurocracy, then it turns into griping about laziness and misuse of taxpayer money.

#18 ::: Mac ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 06:47 PM:

I unabashedly love New Orleans. If I had actual useful skills and could get in there to help, I'd already be on my way. Instead, I'm assembling flood buckets and donating to the Red Cross.

You know what, though? I would far rather see my tax dollars spent rebuilding the city right there over top of the rubble, as see one more cent spent killing Iraqis.

#19 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 06:50 PM:

But leave it to FOX News to ask "Should Taxpayer Dollars Rebuild New Orleans?"

Surely they know that we don't live in an economic vacuum. If not even love of history or a unique and interesting city, or general human compassion for aiding the afflicted, if nothing else moves them, then shouldn't that? The knowledge that if they don't give these people a hand up, some of their own economic fortunes may blight and wither.

Oh, well, Fox News has always been....meh. (Digression: When Fox first established itself as a network, their news was a joke, and ironically, there were a lot of conservatives against Fox News. My parents and most of Utah, for example. HATED Fox News. Thought it was too sensationalistic. Thought it was sloppy. Thought they played up tabloid angles too much. And NOW: They all love Bill O'Reilly. It's still crap news, but it's THEIR crap news.)

#20 ::: Luthe ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 07:00 PM:

Harry Connolly

"One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic." -Stalin

People don't conceptualize large groups well. At a certain point, our minds break down and succumb to stereotypical thinking, because we don't have the capacity to conceive of a million individual lives. It's this failing in the human imagination that politicians take advantage of. The quickest way to the top is channelling the fear and resentment of others to your benefit, and it's easy to generate fear and resentment by using stereotypes. And because the politicians and the media exploit our human fraility, we are left perceiving large chunks of other people as less worthy than we are, because we don't have the mindspace to think of each and everyone of them.

It puts you in awe of God, I think, to consider that He can conceptualize of such a thing.

#21 ::: Wrye ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 07:02 PM:

I wonder if they just believe their own propaganda and can't concieve of Americans who don't own a car? Certainly no one virtuous could not own a car, they would think...

#22 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 07:27 PM:

I posted this on the Well too, but was there any call for those with cars to make an effort to take those who had no means of evacuating with them?

I'm sure most of those cars leaving the city had 1-3 seats empty, but I have not heard any report that anyone was asked to take anyone else with them. I realize this would violate that American taboo about having strangers in your car, but you know, we're talking about life & death here. All it would have taken is to swing by designated pickup points and load up some poor family or elderly couple and take them with you. But as far as I can tell, nobody even suggested this.

I find that very strange. I sure know that if Oakland were going to be hit by a category 5 hurricane on Friday, I wouldn't object to picking & toting them in the up some poor mother & her kids from West Oakland or an old couple. Jesus, I'd probably take our spare cars over there and lend them to a couple of families who needed them, or at least I'd like to think I would, particularly if anyone *asked* me to.

#23 ::: Carolyn Adams-Price ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 07:33 PM:

I have an idea that I am going to try locally, and I hope others will try it to.

Take What You Need Rummage "Sales"

I am a prof at Mississippi State University, which is in northeast Mississippi. Although the hurricane hit us directly, it was very much weakened, and we sustained only minor damage and temporary outages.

Our college president has invited FEMA to create a longer term shelter in our basketball coliseum. We have some folks already staying in the dorms.

I want to organize a largescale "Take What You Need" rummage sale, where you don't need to pay for anything unless you feel you can afford to (and the money would be donated). So many of us have much more stuff than we need---maybe our new refugees will be able to use the stuff.

What do you think? I think spreading the idea of SHARING would be really important right now.

#24 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 07:43 PM:

I don't know why, but I continue to be astonished at the elan with which some people want to shove their heads up their asses. Prof. Jack Chambless (see above) meet the ever gracious Jonah Goldberg:

CLASS CARDS & DISASTER [Jonah Goldberg]

Several readers complain that it's in fact true that the hurricane will disproportionately affect poor people. I don't really dispute that in the sense most mean it. Yes, the poor will have special hardships. Obviously so. But what I objected to, and still object to, is the reflexive playing of the class card. Is it really true that some middle class retirees who heeded the advice of the government to leave town, only to watch their homes be looted after a lifetime of hardwork for a better life are suffering less than a poor person who lost his rented apartment? What's the metric for measuring this sort of suffering? What about the small businessman who worked his entire life to build something he's proud of? What about the families who lost loved ones, but had the poor taste to make more money than the poverty line?

Whatever happened to the idea that unity in the face of a calamity is an important value? We're all in it together, I guess, except for the poor who are extra-special.

Ethan at Salto Mortale has his own pungent response to this -- but don't forget to check the comments, which includes an email from Goldberg himself.

NPR replaced Dan Schoor with this?

#25 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 07:47 PM:

This is the second blog I've seen reference to NPR replacing Daniel Schorr. What's going on? Is this a permanent retiring (he's still writing for Christian Science Monitor afaik) or just a temporary vacation fill-in?

#26 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 07:53 PM:

Daniel Schorr was on NPR this morning, feisty as ever, reflecting on his 89th birthday. It seems like NPR is adding a few more conservative columnists, but Schorr still seems to be there.

#27 ::: Mac ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 08:00 PM:

Carolyn--I think it's a terrific idea.

#28 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 08:21 PM:

You know what amazes me? I've known a lot of Americans, both intimately and casually, and all of them with extremely few exceptions were amazingly generous and warm-hearted souls that always seemed on the verge of tearing out their hearts to give them to you, and in my case, sometimes did.

So, either they have me fooled well and good, or theirs is something weirdly contradictory about the private behavior and public attitude of Americans in general.

Some commentator or another said of Ronald Reagan that he was the sort of guy who, introduced to a homeless person, would take off his shirt and give it to them. And then sit down in his undershirt and sign a law slashing welfare benefits.

This sort of thing is very common-- lots of people have trouble making the jump from specific instances to general cases. It's not hard to find other examples-- several have been posted in this thread.

And Americans are far from the only people in the world to suffer from this problem.

#29 ::: risa ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 10:27 PM:

i've been trying very hard to remind people that given a city whose emergency services were either financially stripmined in order to fund Iraq or else were actually in Iraq, the mayor and the governor did the best they possibly could. limited resources and an extremely poor constituency ends up being a recipe for horror where natural disasters are concerned. The politicians provided shelters that allowed people to bring a larger chunk of belongings (imagine trying to get more than a single case of bottled water on a bus filled with other scared folks!), and some of these shelters were graded to withstand 200 mph winds.

given 48 hours to evacuate the shorelands of Brooklyn, i don't think we could do even half so well... even WITH an evac plan in place.

#30 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 11:09 PM:

Today has been a day of wanting to scream over and over again. It started of with someone at the board I moderate saying NO should be flooded out to drown all the looting rats, moved on to several point blank posts from people who claim that everyone who wanted to leave did, segued over to me insisting that people looting for food should not be shot and that it was hard for me to imagine carrying a plasma screen TV through eight feet of water and ended up with me offering to personally repay someone for the amount of tax money they paid that went to tsunami aid. This was to a person who says he paid more than two hundred percent in taxes than I made to support my family of four last year. (I hope that sentence parses, I have a terrible headache.)

I'm kind of wondering at what point my head will explode.

On the positive side we've had requests to reinstate the Red Cross banner/links that we put up for tsunami aid and I'm talking to one member about organizing a drive for another member who has lost contact with 30 members of his extended family and will need help supporting them all when finds them (fingers crossed here). I've also heard from lots of people who have already donated cash. I need to concentrate on the good people, but it's so hard sometimes!

#31 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 11:13 PM:

Yes, Cherie Priest has two books under contract to Tor; specifically, she was brought in by my outstanding assistant. Which is why she was already on my LJ reading list...

#32 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 12:17 AM:

Laurie Mann: While I think the idea that FEMA should be dismantled is incredibly stupid (which means, of course, the Bush administration is doing it), I hate the idea of rebuilding New Orleans in the same place or anyone's beach property with public funds.
New Orleans has been a disaster waiting to happen for a very long time.

And now, it's happened.

In fact, quite a few US cities are disasters waiting to happen. Los Angeles and Tacoma, Washington are two that spring to mind. Many Midwestern cities are inevitably going to be exposed to tornadoes sooner or later. There really is no totally safe place.

I for one am fine with spending to put New Orleans back in shape as much as possible. It's got a rich cultural heritage that is much more than any disaster can fully destroy. Although it's the insurance industry's refusal to cover a lot of stuff in NOLA that is going to make people rely on disaster funds.

I am all in favor of undeveloping coastal wetlands, barrier islands, and so forth. But NOLA, even now, is going to rise again, and I'm glad.

#33 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 12:46 AM:

In fact, quite a few US cities are disasters waiting to happen. Los Angeles and Tacoma, Washington are two that spring to mind. Many Midwestern cities are inevitably going to be exposed to tornadoes sooner or later. There really is no totally safe place.

Berkeley is toast within the next 30 years, most likely. Same goes for San Francisco and much of San Jose. But Berkeley is likely to be almost completely destroyed before I die, according to the relatively conservative ground shaking forecast maps that have been available on the web for a decade now. Which is why I kind of went off on someone today who just bought a house in Berkeley and was declaiming about how we ought not subsidize people who want to rebuild NOLA.

#34 ::: Lois Aleta Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 02:56 AM:

In fact, quite a few US cities are disasters waiting to happen. Los Angeles and Tacoma, Washington are two that spring to mind. Many Midwestern cities are inevitably going to be exposed to tornadoes sooner or later.

Not to mention what happens when the New Madrid fault lets loose again. It will; it's been 190 years since the last big one. The only questions are when, and how bad. Good bye St. Louis and Memphis, to name just two. It's liable to be felt much farther away than that. And what havoc it will wreak to the Mississippi Valley! (That's not a question. It's a certainty.)

Or the supervolcano under Yellowstone...

#35 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 05:46 AM:

People have been predicting the immenent collapse of the West Coast from earthquakes for over 35 years. Frankly, I think the water situation in California, Arizona, Utah (et.c.) will do in the area before the San Andreas fault does.

And the frustrating thing about the water situation is it COULD be improved if we had the will to do so. The earthquake scenario can only be mitigated against by building better buildings. The water situation is exacerbated by damming, diverting, golf courses in addition to natural forces like pervasive drouts.

I've been to New Orleans four times since 1988, and while I'm really glad I had the chance to go there, it never felt like a very safe area in which to be. I hope New Orleans is rebuilt, but upriver or in a "safer" place, and that it's cleaned up but not "Disnified" too much.

#36 ::: Dave Lartigue ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 09:00 AM:

Obviously the sentiments are related. Evacuating everyone before the storm costs taxpayer money. Waiting to get them out after the storm costs Red Cross (and thus private) money.

Just curious as to whether these noble capitalists felt the same way after 9/11? Though I suppose that was different situation. After all, that wasn't a natural disaster. Those people couldn't prepare for it and evacuate. And anyway, they weren't mostly poor black people.

#37 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 09:29 AM:

On NPR, I just heard our President say, "I don't think anybody anticipated this happening," referring, of course, to the levees breaking. This leaves only three possiblities:

1. Lying.

2. Criminally misinformed.

3. Actually that stupid.

At this point, I can't for the life of me decide which would be worse. I do know that none of them is in any way good.

#38 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 09:54 AM:

Alex, what you have there is a speciality of this administration. Donald Rumsfeld &c. planned Iraq that way, too. The secret is: If you really, really believe it hard enough, that's what will happen.
I like to call it the Jiminy Cricket School of Planning, from Mr. Cricket's signature tune, If You Wish upon a Star.

Oddly enough, it doesn't work in Real Life the way it does in the movie; I guess that's why they're so resentful of the reality-based among us.

#39 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 10:37 AM:
"I don't think anybody anticipated this happening,"

If he'd read Making Light he'd have known.

1. Lying.
2. Criminally misinformed.
3. Actually that stupid.

Are you sure it isn't all three?

#40 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 10:52 AM:

Yes, but Making Light doesn't come with cute pictures.

#41 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 11:41 AM:

Well, the thing is that anybody with Google can find out that he's one of those three in about twenty seconds. It's not like you have to track down Hans Blix or anything. Had he been aware of the many people who have been shrieking about the levees for years, he wouldn't indulge in such a clumsy lie. (I hope, anyway. I like to think my elected leaders have some standards, even if only in dissembling.)

For addition discouragement, read this from Newsday, about gas prices:

http://www.newsday.com/business/nationworld/wire/sns-ap-katrina-gas-prices-hk3,0,7912976.story?coll=sns-ap-business-headlines

Expect the adminstration to handle that at least as well as Katrina recovery...

#42 ::: enjay ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 12:04 PM:

Risa:
i've been trying very hard to remind people that given a city whose emergency services were either financially stripmined in order to fund Iraq or else were actually in Iraq, the mayor and the governor did the best they possibly could.

Why is it all up to the mayor and governor? Why are the feds not automatically involved? I'm asking as a Canadian—in Canada the federal government is always part of dealing with emergencies. This is not like the Asian tsunami or an earthquake; they had days warning and knew what could happen. Why didn't the National Guard set up a mega-bussing program? Why did the army not prepare a tent city for evacuees? If they hadn't all been in Iraq would it have made any difference in the response?

Here's a prediction: over the next weeks there will be a strong media focus on looters and armed, lawless criminals roaming the streets of NO. Thereby reducing culpability for the failure to protect citizens by proving that the only people who stayed in NO are such lowlifes that they didn't deserve to be evacuated in the first place.

#43 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 12:10 PM:

When New Madrid lets loose it's going to be nasty -- not just to Memphis and St. Louis, but Chicago as well.

The magic words are 'unsecured masonry,' or so a friend from California tells me.

Having seen a brick facade strip away from a decaying building here, I have a faint idea of what she means. That incident resulted in one death and several injured.

I live in Columbus, Ohio. When we bought our house we got flood and earthquake insurance, in addition to a regular policy. I don't think we'll get much more than a little shaking here, but just in case....

Lori Coulson

#44 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 12:17 PM:

I go back and forth on getting mine subsidence insurance. Abandoned mines are a real problem in Pennsylvania, but it looks like our immediate area hasn't had any problems. On the other hand, if our house does start to subside, I'd never claim I wasn't warned.

Jim: Yes, all three. Geesh!!!! I heard old people in the store today complaining that Saddam Hussein would be a better president than W!!!!!

#45 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 12:35 PM:

After hearing W's statement this morning, my wife commented, "It would be easier if they would just switch Bush with John Cleese -- I so enjoy listening to Cleese being absurd."

#46 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 12:47 PM:

"Unreinforced masonry". As in brick buildings. I live in California. We have a lot of brick (and tilt-up concrete slab) buildings with "Frankenstein bolts" - they're holding the walls and interior floors/rooves together, either simply bolting things together or with cables across to the other side of the buildig. This is called "seismic retrofitting". Moderately expensive, but not as much as cleaning up after the building collapses (possibly with people inside at the time). It's usually required if the building is going to "change purposes" (eg: garage to office) but probably should be required, period.

One person I know said, after going through St Louis several times one summer (commuting between LA and Dayton), that "the world market for used brick is not that large."

Retrofit those buildings before the next Big One hits the central Mississippi valley.

#47 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 02:30 PM:

Schmuck is a willful ignoramus. He's arranged his life so that he will receive only that material which he's arranged to receive, or which if it's material he doesn't want to hear but there is a necessity of apprising him of some infotaintment of, has been suitably redacted and "massaged" and manufactured for him by his handpicked content masseurs and masseuses. It's no accident that the gatekeepers for access to him as the particular people they are.

Schmuck doesn't read newspapers, doesn't watch TV news, and read in English translation Judaeo-Christrian religious tracts written thousands of years ago in Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek--and apparently is wilfully ignorant of the existence of such things as translation issues, both intention and uninstentional distortion in translation, and cultural differences, that change the meaning of the material what what the content was written down in the particular ways for by the redactors in Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek, and what the meaning comes off as today in whatever English translation Schmuck is reading.

Schmuck has a massive case of hubris--perhaps worse than Lyndon Baines Johnson and the infamous incident in front of reporters where Johnson unzipped his pants and said he wasn't going to let the Vietcong "-cut it off.-"

#48 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 02:32 PM:

If anyone is interested, there's a blog by people still trapped in NO who run an isp.

http://www.livejournal.com/users/interdictor/

#49 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 02:50 PM:

I'm genuinely curious:

Would people with actual experience with crisis management tell me whether or not my assessment of the guy writing that blog as someone likely to get people killed unnecessarily is sensible?

#50 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 03:11 PM:

The "Interdictor" is a piece of work.

Look at his "About" page. Look at his motto.

"Survivalist weenie dickhead" springs to mind.

#51 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 03:55 PM:

I just saw a CNN video of people sitting outside the convention center in NO, lying around, doing badly. More & more people who were holed up in office buildings and hotels have been coming out of the woodwork to the various shelter points (Superdome, convention center). If CNN could drive in to make the video, why can't the convention center people walk out?

#52 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 04:15 PM:

Jon,

In Orbital Resonance by John Barnes, the narrator asks the same question.

Do you know the book? It's early on--first twenty pages or so--and worth looking at the passage.

#53 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 04:34 PM:

My mom and I have been emailing back and forth about this. She just wrote me to say

Of course, we all know that New Orleans was way above sea level all the time, and just sank within the last couple of months. That's why there was no planning for this.
I come by it honestly.

#54 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 04:43 PM:

Xopher--
Did the giant dragons living under the city crawl out and fly away with no warning? Maybe that's why it sank so suddenly.

#55 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 05:19 PM:

Fidelio--

Of course! Because when the dragons left, they stopped inflating the hot-air balloons that the city was floating on.

(Um, Xopher, are you sure that pill from the other thread didn't land in my water?)

#56 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 05:54 PM:

Jon, most of the TV/news crews are going in on boats.

#57 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 05:55 PM:

shit

http://xnerg.blogspot.com/2005/09/thank-you-fats-domino-there-are.html

Fats Domino maybe dead, and Toussaint in the SuperDome?!?!

Will we be left with the musical stylings of George Bush?

#58 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 06:09 PM:

okay, supposedly Toussaint is on a bus to Houston.

#59 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 06:10 PM:

Nero, I bet, could play his fiddle.

Has anyone heard confirmation that Sec. of State Rice has spent the last few days in NYC shopping and seeing shows?

#60 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 06:47 PM:

I've a feeling that, apart from those lacking their own transport, there's a group of people who have been overtaken by events. Maybe based in modern buildings which were supposed to be wind resistant -- there's a building in London, providing facilities space for several ISPs, which is reputedly built to resist the USAF. So there they were, breathing a huge sigh of relief as the winds dropped, and then the floods came.

And suddenly the choices vanished.

Now, if they expected the winds of a Cat 5 hurricane they should have expected flooding, but I wonder how many high-rise offices in New Orleans had lifeboats installed?

#61 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 07:01 PM:

Yes--the Page Six gossip column spotted Condi at (of all things) Spamalot on Tuesday.

#62 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 07:14 PM:

Nero, I bet, could play his fiddle.

More to the point, Nero -- who was not in Rome when the fire of AD 64 started -- returned at once to supervise the relief operations. Now, there's no question he wanted the population to see him doing this, but . . . well, there's a conclusion in that, too.

#63 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 07:37 PM:

I have this sudden image of a Presidential ranch on the Gulf of Mexico, where the Mississippi meets the sea, with a dining room that rotates and a colossal statue...

#64 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 07:54 PM:

And Gawker says Condi is going all Imelda on New York's ass:

A fellow shopper, unable to fathom the absurdity of Rice’s timing, went up to the Secretary and reportedly shouted, “How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!” Never one to have her fashion choices questioned, Rice had security PHYSICALLY REMOVE the woman.

But look at it this way--the thousands she spent on shoes would've been only a drop in the bucket to aid New Orleans. So no big deal, right?

#65 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 09:55 PM:

Lord, lord, to have a copy of the most recent (not last, he said optimistically) issue of Gambit, the New Orleans alt.weekly, which had this letter to the editor:

Pass the Hurricanes

Andrei Codrescu thinks all the million-dollar apartments in New Orleans will surely be destroyed by hurricanes in five years (Penny Post, July 5)? Well, I guess my place won't last the next rainstorm.

Run! The sky is falling!

and this editorial:

The Scream

At the current pace, New Orleans will exceed 300 murders by the end of the year.

New Orleans, the city we were born to love, lay in a pool of blood--again--last week. Raped by hate. Beaten, stabbed, strangled and bludgeoned to death by violence. She screamed for help, over and over, just as she has always done, year after year. We all saw it happen, if not on the evening news then in the daily paper. Yet, we--her own children--failed to save her.

...

Finally, we need an overarching public education project that reaches into the neighborhoods most affected by the increased violence. This goes beyond reforms in public schools. For example, the city's Web site should include "best practice" links on how our children can protect themselves from bullies, and how the public can avoid armed robbery, rape, murder and crime-related addictions. Most importantly, each of us needs to learn that we have a crucial part to play in helping our beloved New Orleans when we hear the cries for help. Those cries are our own. Any one of us could be next.

#66 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 10:19 PM:

Fats Domino is rumored to have been airlifted out of New Orleans late today.

#67 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 10:49 PM:

I just saw Fats on CNN.

#68 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 11:03 PM:

Good news about Fats--Irma Thomas is still missing.

#69 ::: sara ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 11:05 PM:

The question (perhaps suited to another thread) is why the Bushist leadership is being so insensitive, to a degree that if it appeared in a Hollywood disaster movie, that footage would be cut as pure schlock.

Shopping for shoes, yet.

Hastert on not rebuilding the city.

Chertoff, as said above.

Bush himself, slow and mechanical response.

General lack of apology for culpability.

Three possible answers:

(a) they actually believe their libertarian, anti-government, white-supremacist Kool-Aid, and have no other way to respond

(b) they realize that they have fucked up, big time, and will be kicked out in 2006 and 2008, so have nothing to lose and can say what they believe / speak without thinking or focus-grouping. Self-medicating behavior included here.

(c) they intend never to be kicked out of office, thanks to Diebold and the media, as has been suggested often at ML.

#70 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2005, 12:37 AM:

And Irma Thomas is safe in Baton Rouge. I feel about one iota better, which is not insignificant today.

#71 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2005, 06:11 AM:

I wonder what the voter-registration status of all those refugees is, and will be when the next elections come up.

Some of them, for instance, will be in Georgia, where they'll need official photo ID if they want to vote there.

New Orleans, I hear, votes Democratic Party. If they're allowed to vote where the refugee camps are, how will they shift the local balance?

And who will be left in New Orleans, entitled to vote there?

Or will the refugees have to trust to postal votes?

#72 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2005, 07:53 AM:

Actually, I've never agreed with Dennis Hastert before, but I tend to agree with him here - New Orleans should not be rebuilt where it is. It should be built somewhere more above sea level. Or certainly the levees need to be completely rebuilt (and not merely patched) before any serious building goes on in the city.

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