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September 2, 2005

Did you think we were just making it up?
Posted by Patrick at 01:26 PM * 39 comments

Via the Washington Monthly, Joan Walsh on Salon:

Why didn’t we send a caravan of buses into the city’s poorest neighborhoods on Saturday or Sunday, when the dimensions of the disaster were already predictable?….Sure, Houston’s got electricity and running water, but tens of thousands of scared, angry people packed into an abandoned sports stadium—we couldn’t come up with a better symbol of how little we care about the poor, how little we’ve thought about what to do with them, for them, if we tried.”

Washington Monthly guest poster Amy Sullivan remarks in response:

We’ve heard the warning “this isn’t about politics” over and over in the last few days. The hell it isn’t. And I don’t mean kicking Bush while he’s down, just for the fun of it, although there are surely liberals eager to do that. For the rest of us, however, we’re seeing the awful real-world consequences of conservatism play out on our television screens. This is why we’re liberals. We don’t yell about poverty and racial disparities for kicks.

Right on. I’ve been impatient with Amy Sullivan on several occasions over the past year or two, but forget that. Right on.

Comments on Did you think we were just making it up?:
#1 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2005, 01:40 PM:

There's a poster needs spreading far and wide: a photo of Lake George, surmounted by the famous quote from Grover Norquist:

My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.

Hang this idea around their necks like the goddamn albatross it is. Hang it from their necks until it is dead dead dead.

#2 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2005, 01:43 PM:

I saw another graphic early in the flooding (before the situation deteriorated so far) showing rooftops above the waterline with the Reagan quote: "A rising tide lifts all boats."

BTW, anybody have a WSJ subscription? It sounds like the pigs are already lining up at the trough.
From Think Progress:

Senate Appropriations staffers are warning that "business lobbyists are maneuvering to tack on special-interest amendments" to the hurricane emergency supplemental, WSJ reports.

#3 ::: Ali ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2005, 02:07 PM:

At least they're accepting international aid now. Because I couldn't believe it when the papers said they were turning it down.

#4 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2005, 02:24 PM:

I was just arguing with a troll in another thread, a troll who wondered, "Why didn't they just WALK out?"

And I just now realized that the City of New Orleans SURVIVED Hurricane Katrina - Monday afternoon, things were in pretty good shape.

What New Orleans did NOT survive was four years of Bush administration cuts to the Corps of Engineers' New Orleans District.

Now, of course, the Homeland Security and White House suits are running around saying "it's important that we not politicize this disaster".

#5 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2005, 03:12 PM:

Now, of course, the Homeland Security and White House suits are running around saying "it's important that we not politicize this disaster"

You mean, just like Bush and Co. didn't politicize 9-11?

Fckng bstrds.

#6 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2005, 05:31 PM:

From the sidebars, finally some hard numbers

http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/o/nov04/nov04c.html

It's actually an estimate from 2004 of what the worst-case scenario would look like. They predict it all: cat 5 hist NO head on, levees break, city flooded, tens of thousands die. That's the prediction from back then, anyway.

#7 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2005, 05:35 PM:

From the above report, it predicts:

"If Ivan had struck New Orleans directly it is estimated that 40-60,000 residents of the area would have perished."

They also talk about how 700,000 residents evacuated in a day and a half. and that about 100,000 residents don't have cars.

#8 ::: Mina W ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2005, 05:48 PM:

Can hardly believe the total screwup of emergency preparedness, even of this administration. While they blame the victims for staying. As everybody here has said. Thanks

There's a Slate article, "Lost in the Flood - Why no mention of race or class in TV's Katrina coverage?" by Jack Shafer. http://slate.msn.com/id/2124688/

By being too cowardly to mention race, or class, in the TV coverage, television news ignores the real racism and lethal class warfare of deliberately leaving tens of thousands of mostly black poor people to die.

And it ignores the real racism and class warfare of leaving all those thousands of people in the Superdome without food or water or sanitation for 4 days! While the feds protect buildings. Some security! Total incompetence. And racism and willingness to see a lot of poor people die by those who say that the people in the Superdome chose to stay. Implying that they deserved to die. [Funny how all these anti-evolutionists believe in Social Darwinism: the survival only of the richest.]

And the final lethal hubris and stupidity of Bush in refusing aid from countries that offered it, and that have an ability to get water, food, medical aid there faster than the US on his watch..


Aargh!

#9 ::: sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2005, 05:58 PM:

Now the Republicrats are talking about not rebuilding New Orleans. Given that people are still dying of thirst, I think discussions about whether or not to have a New Orleans are a bit premature.

" Hastert wasn't the only one questioning the
rebuilding of New Orleans. The Waterbury, Conn.,
Republican-American newspaper wrote an editorial
Wednesday entitled, "Is New Orleans worth
reclaiming?"

"Americans' hearts go out to the people in Katrina's
path," it said. "But if the people of New Orleans and
other low-lying areas insist on living in harm's way,
they ought to accept responsibility for what happens
to them and their property."

#10 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2005, 06:02 PM:

"Americans' hearts go out to the people in Katrina's path," it said. "But if the people of New Orleans and other low-lying areas insist on living in harm's way, they ought to accept responsibility for what happens to them and their property."

Like the people with beachfront property on the barrier islands off the Carolinas? I heard that a lot of them got their multi-million-dollar houses (I won't call them homes) rebuilt with federal money, after those got scoured by a hurricane. Rich white Republicans get benefits; the rest of us get The Shaft?

#11 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2005, 06:05 PM:

MENSCH ALERT:

From a ad-hoc communication weblog maintained by nola.org:

"Car available Uptown

3:30 pm

Name: Anne Rolfes

Home: (337) 349 - ----

Email: ----------@hotmail.com

Subject: My Hurricane Story -- Car may be available uptown

Story: Hello to anyone and everyone -

I don't know if my car is underwater, but since it's uptown there's a good chance it isn't.

It is unlocked with a key under the mat - a red corolla at 507 Cherokee Street and St. Charles. It's in a drive way. If anyone needs it to get out, please go there!! My phone number is (337) 349 - 7661. There is a trunk in the back seat - throw it out and fit as many people as you can!

The car has a spare on it, so if you make it to the highway, don't go too fast.

Anne"

Anne, you rock.

#12 ::: Jonquil ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2005, 06:35 PM:

From the top of the WWL-TV blog:

3:34 P.M. - (AP) The evacuation of Superdome refugees was interrupted briefly when school buses rolled up so some 700 guests and employees from the Hyatt hotel. They were move to the head of the line to be evacuated -- much to the amazement of those who had been crammed in the stinking Superdome for days.

The 700 had been trapped in the Hyatt just like the others, but conditions were considerably cleaner, even without running water, than the unsanitary crush inside the dome.

#13 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2005, 11:36 PM:

A member of Spain's Parliament got stuck in New Orleans, and got VIP treatment out of there once the National Guard arrived. The Spaniard hadn't asked for the preferential treatment over all the other stranded people.

#14 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2005, 11:55 PM:

I agree with the righties: this looks very very bad.

I count 205 busses. When I was a kid, I remember that school busses could carry 66 people. If that is still the case, 13,530 people could have been carried to safety in ONE trip using only the busses shown in that picture.

Which is a reminder it's not all Bush's fault.

#15 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2005, 12:18 AM:

Isn't it buses, not busses? The latter is osculating...

#16 ::: T.W. ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2005, 12:24 AM:

I bet the answer is we don't have 205 qualified drivers for those buses. Who all left with the evacuation.

#18 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2005, 01:34 AM:

IEM, Inc., the Baton Rouge-based emergency management and homeland security consultant....

Does anyone know, or is able to find out, if IEM or its head honcho was a major Bush/Republican campaign contributor?

#19 ::: will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2005, 01:55 AM:

Jim, Lis Riba sent me a long email that I'm about to go post on my blog. This part might be of interest to you:

Remember Newt Gingrich's (brief) successor Rep. Bob Livingston?

The Livingston Group, the firm of former House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bob Livingston, R-La., also has clients that are marketing new technologies in Washington. Livingston represents Innovative Emergency Management, a Baton Rouge, La., company that specializes in chemical and biological emergency response.

#20 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2005, 05:18 AM:

IEM has a list of their top management still available.

Madhu Bariwal, president & CEO:
2004 cycle:
$2500 National Republican Congressional Committee
$2000 Mike Rogers (that could be Congressman Mike Rogers, R-AL (Armed Services, Agriculture and Homeland Security committees), Congressman Mike Rogers R-MI (Energy & Commerce and Intelligence committees), some other Mike Rogers, or some combination of those. My bet's on the AL one)
either $500 or $3500 David Vitter ($1500 of that is listed in parenthesis; I'm not sure if that's a $1500 refund for some reason or a $1500 contribution) (Congress, R-LA; defeated; I'm not finding anything that says what committees he was on)
$1000 Help America's Leaders (Republican PAC: contributions & donations here. I don't know who runs it. Clay Parker Davis of Somerset Kentucky is its treasurer, which may be a clue)
$500 Bobby Jindal (Congress, R-LA; Homeland Security, Resources & Education and Workforce committees)
2002 cycle:
$2000 Richard Baker (Congress, R-LA; Transportation & Infrastructure and Veterans Affairs)
$1000 Jerry Lewis (Maybe Congress R-CA; chairman of Appropriations
$1000 Future Leaders PAC (Another Republican PAC; the treasurer is probably Barbara Bonfiglio of Williams & Jensen, not Misstress Barbara Bonfiglio the drummy funky techno DJ.
2000 cycle:
$500 Tim Hutchinson (Senate R-AK, defeated)

The others have more common names so it's hard to be sure, but I think the only others are from Wayne Thomas, VP of Homeland Security:
2000 cycle:
$250 David Vitter
$250 John McCain

#21 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2005, 05:23 AM:

Come to think of it, weren't Australian firefighters flown in to help with the last lot of bad wildfires in California? We know about bushfires, you see.

So why not Canadian water-purifying equipment and medics and such?

#22 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2005, 05:33 AM:

(I had another version with links for all this, but that got quarantined and I'm not sure if/when it would be noticed amongst the real spam, so Im' taking out most of the links; the real data came from OpenSecrets.org)

IEM has a list of their top management still available.

Madhu Bariwal, president & CEO:
2004 cycle:
$2500 National Republican Congressional Committee
$2000 Mike Rogers (that could be Congressman Mike Rogers, R-AL (Armed Services, Agriculture and Homeland Security committees), Congressman Mike Rogers R-MI (Energy & Commerce and Intelligence committees), some other Mike Rogers, or some combination of those. My bet's on the AL one)
either $500 or $3500 David Vitter ($1500 of that is listed in parenthesis; I'm not sure if that's a $1500 refund for some reason or a $1500 contribution) (Congress, R-LA; defeated; I'm not finding anything that says what committees he was on)
$1000 Help America's Leaders (Republican PAC: I don't know who runs it. Clay Parker Davis of Somerset Kentucky is its treasurer, which may be a clue)
$500 Bobby Jindal (Congress, R-LA; Homeland Security, Resources & Education and Workforce committees)
2002 cycle:
$2000 Richard Baker (Congress, R-LA; Transportation & Infrastructure and Veterans Affairs)
$1000 Jerry Lewis (Maybe Congress R-CA; chairman of Appropriations
$1000 Future Leaders PAC (Another Republican PAC; the treasurer is probably Barbara Bonfiglio of Williams & Jensen, not Misstress Barbara Bonfiglio the drummy funky techno DJ.
2000 cycle:
$500 Tim Hutchinson (Senate R-AK, defeated)

The others have more common names so it's hard to be sure, but I think the only others are from Wayne Thomas, VP of Homeland Security:
2000 cycle:
$250 David Vitter
$250 John McCain

#23 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2005, 07:33 AM:

T.W. -- The question is why the buses were not used on Sunday as part of the mandatory evacuation plan. Assuming "plan" is not too kind a word for it.

#24 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2005, 08:36 AM:

Sigh--they never get it right. The idiot who dumped his wife of thirty years for some bim from his staff, Tim "Trophy Wife" Hutchinson, is from ARkansas, not AlasKa. Unfortunately.

#25 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2005, 09:41 AM:

Colin --

Every single bad decision during the destruction of New Orleans was not personally taken by George W. Bush.

However, he's the President -- he's taken the oath, no matter how irregular the elections.

That means he's responsible for those decisions, because, you know, he is the president.

His decisions, and his responsibility, come down to "Undertook to underfund vital infrastructure to support pursuing an aggressive war of conquest."

The lack of infrastructure spending directly resulted in a major American city being destroyed with catastrophic consequences for the American economy. (It's your single largest port and the source point for about 30% of domestic oil demand.)

The much-touted Homeland Security organization this President has ordered created out of many other federal agencies has failed to function as a disaster recovery organization. It didn't even try.

The war of conquest is lost; the result is major damage to American power and prestige in ways that will probably never be repaired, plus a stack of corpses and a waste of treasure that is likely to hit half a trillion dollars by the time it's done. (For every twenty dollars made in the US this year, from any source, break the twenty, take three bucks out of the change, and burn it. If you'd done that, you'd have been as bad off financially, with many many fewer dead people.)

And yeah, he's responsible. It's his mess, and he gets to wear it. He's lost his war, he's drowned New Orleans, he's doubled gas prices, he's got thousands of Americans needlessly killed, he's made the name of the United States into bloody stinking mud the world over, and you're all going to be worse off for not less than the next forty years because of it.

And yeah, that is all George W. Bush's personal fault.

He's the President.

#26 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2005, 09:47 AM:

NO is not the country's largest port, although it is one of the largest. (LA is larger - and it isn't getting much from DHS. Blue state, we suspect. We're waiting for some terrorist to send something nasty in a container.)

And there is a Congresscritter who is moving to take FEMA out of Homesland Security. Don't know if that will help, since they could still be underfunded and mismanaged, but it would remove a layer of management at the top.

#27 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2005, 11:06 AM:

When that submarine slammed into a sea mountain the captain was relieved.

Why? He personally didn't decide "Let's hit a sea mountain today!" There were lots of bad decisions that day, and he personally didn't make them.

But ... he was responsible for the safe navigation of his vessel. He was responsible for the training of his crew.

Authority can be delegated. Responsibility cannot be.

#28 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2005, 02:36 PM:

Does anyone know, or is able to find out, if IEM or its head honcho was a major Bush/Republican campaign contributor?

I did some digging last night. Post-9/11, IEM hired Bob Livingston (former Louisiana GOP Rep and nearly Speaker of the House after Newt before resigning over adultery) as their chief lobbyist.
That close enough for ya?

#29 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2005, 04:19 PM:

D'oh. The AR/AK mistake was entirely mine. Oops, thanks for the correction, adamsj.

I also typod Ms. Beriwal's last name, and forgot to mention that she's apparently a/the owner as well as President & CEO.

Noted without comment is http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/news/1125747031269580.xml&coll=2 :

The eruption of violence, disorder and confusion caught many by surprise. A simulation that emergency management officials ran last year of a catastrophic flood and hurricane hitting New Orleans did not address the possibility of widespread violence and disorder, said Madhu Beriwal, president of IEM Inc., the Baton Rouge, La.-based company that ran the exercise.

...

DHS had no master plan that aimed specifically at addressing the New Orleans catastrophe. Officials attending last year's simulation -- which included tabletop exercises on the response to a fictional Hurricane Pam that flooded the city -- produced a document with many contingency plans, Beriwal said.

But the simulation was just an early stage of a multiyear effort to develop a comprehensive plan -- one that had been delayed by Sept. 11 and competing priorities.

#30 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2005, 04:38 PM:

it is sort of strange considering that Bush administration is generally pretty good at responding to hurricanes http://www.bestofneworleans.com/dispatch/2004-09-28/cover_story.html

'"They're doing a good job," one former FEMA executive says of the Bush administration's response efforts. "And the reason why they're doing that job is because it's so close to the election, and they can't f--k it up, otherwise they lose Florida -- and if they lose Florida, they might lose the election."'

#31 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2005, 05:37 PM:

According to http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2004/10/25/loc_elex1weiser.html, "Help America's Leaders" is Hal Rogers' (R-KY) leadership PAC, while "Future Leaders" is Jerry Lewis' (R-CA). Both were individual recipients as well.

Purely by coincidence I'm sure, those were two of the three men campaigning to be the chair of the Appropriations committee.

Possibly interesting question: why was the third candidate, Ralph Regula, snubbed?

#32 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2005, 05:56 PM:

It's his mess, and he gets to wear it.

Hey, don't look at me. I loathe the man. And I look forward to his attempts to answer to how DHS's response would have been any better if it had been a terrorist fertilizer bomb in the levee instead of a hurricane.

But there's still no excuse for those buses being left in that lot, rather than driven out of the city Sunday carrying 60 people each.

#33 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2005, 06:19 PM:

Authority can be delegated. Responsibility cannot be.

The United States is a federal system, which I believe means some bucks do in fact stop at the state and municipal levels. I had been told that it was a principle that predictable disasters, such as hurricane in New Orleans or earthquake in San Francisco, should be planned for at the level closest to the event. But I'm not an expert, so possibly this one is in fact within Bush's sphere of responsibility, too. I don't mind standing corrected.

That picture of that school bus lot draws a picture of one way this disaster could easily have turned out differently. People here are interested in that, right? This blog isn't a purely political arena?

#34 ::: lightning ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2005, 10:32 PM:

It's the difference between leadership and management. A leader grabs a flag and gets out in front. A manager holds meetings.

We have a President with a Harvard MBA, who promised to make government "more like a business". This is the result. Arse-covering is a far more important managerial skill than leadership, or even competence.

#35 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2005, 10:39 PM:

When that submarine slammed into a sea mountain the captain was relieved.

I read that as sea monster not sea mountain. How disappointing.

#36 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2005, 10:55 PM:

Colin --

You're fixated on those buses.

Were there drivers for them? Was there fuel for them? Were there people to serve as conveying officers on the buses? Did they have sufficient mechanical reliability to not pose an unacceptable risk of blocking the outbound route? Were those buses available to the local government before the winds got high enough to make them impractical? (Ever driven a school bus in high winds? I've been on one that went into the ditch sideways from a dead stop. That was an icy road, but wet and muddy would likely do.) Was the municipal government empowered to commandeer them? (It seems far from clear that the NOLA municipal government was ever able to requisition transport; they couldn't even keep the train station open!)

More importantly, was there someplace to send the people who would have been loaded on those buses?

It's not reasonable to expect the local authorities in NOLA to be able to arrange for an out-of-state secure place to send thousands of people on their own hook; that's precisely the kind of thing FEMA is for.

There's been a complete and total leadership failure at the Federal level. There's been a serious leadership failure at the State level. The locals haven't done an ideal job, but they seem to have done about everything they could reasonably be expected to do, before the pros showed up with backup.

It's the absence of the backup that seems to me to be much the worse thing than a mayor who isn't an ideal crisis manager.

#37 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2005, 11:18 PM:

Okay, never mind. I posted about buses in a thread that started with "why didn't we send in a caravan of buses", and now I'm fixated.

You have a point: there needed to be somewhere to take them. I have been told it is common in Florida for buses to be ready during evacuation orders. Where do they take people there?

This was the third evacuation of New Orleans in twelve months. Surely, there should have been some standing arrangements.

I don't actually care what agency is responsible. What *should* have happened?

#38 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2005, 12:02 AM:

My personal suspicion about MBAs is that far too many of the people who have them have no work experience before getting said degree. And in particular have gone straight from undergraduate to MBA. There was a period, and it uncludes the time when the Shrub was in grad school, when an MBA was all you needed to get a management job: the theory was that with an MBA you could manage anything, and didn't need any knowledge of the business you were managing. We're seeing the result. (And it applies to the Shrub's father: he left his oil-drilling company, the MBAs and bean-counters took over, the remaining management had to justify even routine maintenance, and the company all but folded. In five years.)

(And they're teaching public-administration students, I understand, that things like libraries are frills: adults don't need them, only students, therefore schools are the only places that need libraries.)

#39 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2005, 12:24 AM:

Colin: there was a FEMA program called Project Impact, designed to coordinate planning between federal, state, and local agencies for likely disasters, and to apply high-impact proactive mitigation measures (like, say, identifying particularly seismically risky structures for reinforcement).

It showed its merit in the Nisqually Earthquake in 2001, because the Seattle area was one of the first participants in the program. How many lives and dollars were saved? Plenty of both, I bet.

That very day, President Bush cut the program to save $25 million a year.

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