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September 5, 2005

Posted by Patrick at 10:05 AM * 26 comments

Before piling any more praise on New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin for his now-famous outburst against the Feds, read this.

While you’re at it, before buying the right-wing spin that condemns Nagin as a “big-city Democrat”, read the same piece.

It’s enough to make you suspect the “politics” we’re allowed to see is not much more than a stage show designed to distract us. Imagine thinking such a thing.

Comments on Curious:
#1 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 10:52 AM:

What are the poorest of the poor supposed to do with DVDs?

#2 ::: coturnix ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 10:52 AM:

Sorry to blogwhore, but you may be interested in this collection of links to blog posts covering Katrina (particuluarly the political, scienctific and medical dimensions of the story): Best of Katrina blogging.

#3 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 11:32 AM:

Use them as coasters.

In this case, DVDs are the perfect choice when you don't anyone to be able to access the content.

#4 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 11:34 AM:

We're already on it. Americablog and dKos are the best up to the minute sources, but I've asked my German readers to get hold of their media and push the thing with the Potemkin Aid Station buildup takedown thing - and the fact that 99.9% of Americans aren't hearing that, that the only way to know about it is through the liberal blogs. They ought to know pretty well what that means for a country.

#5 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 11:52 AM:

Interesting point made by Jeff Masters:

"the problem is not likely to go away until the amount of money a candidate raises is no longer the primary factor determining who gets elected. Our elected officials won't care for the poor, as long as it is the rich who determine who get elected."

#6 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 11:54 AM:

--I mean the whole thing is being Minitrued, not that I already knew about what's up at Lenin's Tomb. That is - a revelation, but not a surprise, to me. Not after everything I did about the Hegemony last year all the way back to the attempted Coup by Morgan et al against FDR via Gen. Butler.

Remember my Conservative Moral Values agitprop pdf? One of them is The Poor Deserve To Die, with illustrations from Respectable Conservative Intellectuals.

God, I just realized I haven't eaten in over 24 hours - no appetite, just adrenaline, but now I'm getting hazy and can't focus my eyes. I've got to stop for a bit.

--But we *can* fight Minitrue and force their hands, it's like steering a wild ox with nothing but a cattle prod but remember that if some theatre folks hadn't been sharp eyed and posted on a theatre message board, there wouldn't have been any awareness of the fact that Condi was partying on Broadway while NOLA drowned, until too far after the fact to have an impact. *We* pushed the Secretary of State to act, bloggers, *not* the "Liberal Media" arse-kissers.

#7 ::: Frank D Shannon ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 11:56 AM:

Offtopic: I was wondering where I could get information on the failure of the levees in N.O. My google fu is weak. I have seen in a couple of places that the 17th street levee failed at the most recently constructed concrete sections, and that the rest of the levees are made of packed earth. Also I wondered if they could have skipped the rebar in the concrete to save money.

It seems to me that the question of why the levees failed hasn't really been settled, and that you guys would be good people to ask. Thanks.

#8 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 12:21 PM:

[Mediocre rhyme & meter, making it up as I go along....]

See the Potemkin President
Rich smug slime is he.
See the Potemkin President
Incompetent as can
See the Potemkin President
Mismanaging the land,
See the Potemkin President
Apocalypse at hand!

Bush out NOW,
Bush out NOW,
You'd driven us to unjust war
You'd squandered human lives,
You've drowned the town of New Orleans,
You mouth speaks only lies
Bush out NOW,
Bush out NOW!

See the Potemkin President
Vacationing at his home,
The hurricane is coming in,
On photo-op he roams,
He's showing off his new guitar,
With chords that can't be played,
See the Potemkin President
Offduty all the way.

Bush out NOW,
Bush out NOW,
Bush out NOw

#9 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 12:28 PM:

re: the SoCal photo-ops
The WH kept them very quiet; we didn't get much news of them except on the day, as the papers were much more interested in Katrina. In fact, it was described as 'sneaking in' at least once.

I don't know how much attention the folks at the Rancho Cucamonga event were paying to NOLA, but you can bet your bottom dollar that the people at those events were all true-red Republicans who would never ever vote blue. Because they're selected in advance; there are very few real-people crowds on the Shrub's calendar.

#10 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 12:35 PM:

Back again after a bowl of cearal and attempted nap - tossed and turned until realized why free-associative oracular voice wouldn't shut up again, this time about Gondor and Rohan and the Roman Empire and the loss of Minas Ithil and Ithilien.

And that is:

--If this is true about Nagin, then we have just seen what would have happened if the Rohirrim had fallen and Meduseld sacked and after, "when all in the house were dead" what Grima Wormtongue would have said to any survivors who questioned him after.

If this is true, this is how a traitor insinuates himself into a place at court and opens the postern gate to the enemy, in our modern era. Nothing changes, only the surfaces.

#11 ::: JohnD ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 01:18 PM:

Nothing to apologize for, coturnix. Thanks for the collection of links, and thanks to everyone here at Making Light too. Sources like these are needed.

Last night, I was at a bbq with a group of generally intelligent folks, most of them of no particular political persuasion and with little connection to the blogosphere. When the conversation turned to New Orleans, I was astounded to find out how little most of them knew about the situation and its history. It wasn't that they hadn't seen the news or read the papers, it was that the coverage they'd seen didn't have nearly the level of detail that's available in the blogs. It's good to have websites to send people to.

#12 ::: quixote ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 01:27 PM:

I love this blog. I've been lurking for months, but now I just have to get in there. I lived in New Orleans for 13 years, my dearest friends are still there, and all I can think is, "It's the best city in the whole country. They'll get through this. I know they will. I don't know about the rest of us though."

Couple of things: the Times Picayune's Breaking News site has been going strong throughout, and has consistently been a good and up to date source of info. (It looked from one of the comments as if they were down, but that's not the case, as far as I know.) Another link I haven't seen mentioned anywhere near often enough is NOAA's digital imagery of New Orleans. It seems both more complete and easier to get at than Digital Globe's. (Click on the little "index map" to get to the area you want. Clicking on the aerial view itself will enlarge it to the point where you can see road signs. Makes it easy to see if your particular street is flooded, unless there are clouds in the way.)

Another thing I haven't seen mentioned enough is this amazing thing, from the TP Breaking News site a couple of days ago:

Bush visit halts food delivery
By Michelle Krupa
Staff writer

Three tons of food ready for delivery by air to refugees in St. Bernard Parish and on Algiers Point sat on the Crescent City Connection bridge Friday afternoon as air traffic was halted because of President Bush’s visit to New Orleans, officials said.

The provisions, secured by U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-Napoleonville, and state Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom, baked in the afternoon sun as Bush surveyed damage across southeast Louisiana five days after Katrina made landfall as a Category 4 storm, said Melancon’s chief of staff, Casey O’Shea.

“We had arrangements to airlift food by helicopter to these folks, and now the food is sitting in trucks because they won’t let helicopters fly,” O’Shea said Friday afternoon.

The food was expected to be in the hands of storm survivors after the president left the devastated region Friday night, he said.

I have some more on my blog ( The only thing I haven't seen mentioned much is the curious relationship between oil and gas royalties and coastal erosion.

#13 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 01:51 PM:

I transferred my political admiration to Aaron Broussard after his appearance on Meet the Press yesterday. (Links to transcript and video are at the above.)

#14 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 01:59 PM:

I saw Mayor Nagin on 60 Minutes yesterday and was so impressed I would have gone out and voted for him for president. I hate it when people I respect turn out to have feet of clay (and in this political climate it seems to happen all the time). Dang.

#15 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 03:35 PM:

from a webpage which is 404'd but still available in Googlecache (have saved down to my hard drive) for the moment, a 2002 bio of Nagin from Tulane U which does not mention his prior political affiliation but does show case him as a "law and order Democrat" cracking down hard on crime, and describes him as a man who gave up a $400k per year corporate career because he loved New Orleans and wanted to take care of it.

The 2nd Battle of New Orleans

I believe that an income of $400k per annum puts one into the top 1% of human beings earning wages on this earth?

Not exactly a man to identify with the suffering masses, no matter what the color of his skin and theirs. Native satraps under the Raj and janissaries come to mind.

#16 ::: John Lansford ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 04:35 PM:

The levee on Canal Street didn't fail because of some design or construction failing. It was breached because it was overtopped, and the water then undermined the concrete wall built on top of the soil levee. The work that the Corps had done on the wall previously was in conjunction with replacing the bridge just upstream of the breach location. They had to tie the levee to the bridge and did so but they did not deliberately stop due to lack of funds. They stopped because that is where they were supposed to stop in order to replace the bridge.

#17 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 05:08 PM:

bellatrys - I believe that an income of $400k per annum puts one into the top 1% of human beings earning wages on this earth?

If not 0.1%

Not exactly a man to identify with the suffering masses, no matter what the color of his skin and theirs. Native satraps under the Raj and janissaries come to mind.

That's simply unfair. He walked away from a highly paid job to take the risk of running for mayor of a city with major challenges. Whether or not he identifies with the poor people of NO, he stepped forward to try to fix the place. (For some value of fix.)

#18 ::: Kate Yule ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 05:46 PM:

Mayor Nagin himself appeared on the DVD, telling people that they wouldn't be evacuated, or any support provided.


Apropos of skim milk masquerading as cream: there's this wiki project, the Katrina PeopleFinder project. The idea is, use distributed labor to collect/collate info from many different "people lost & found" lists & sites into one, more easily searchable, database.

My first reaction: Woohoo, something I can do!

Second reaction was to do a little poking around. In blog comments over here someone raises concerns about "taking people's private information--which they've made public in a limited forum--and making it available in a much more public, organized way". Oh, yeah...Uber-databases with lots of personal information are generally considered a bad thing in my circles.

So do they have a point? Or is this one of those places where due process is trumped by circumstance (as in, for instance, driving a commandeered school bus full of people out of the drowning city)? I'm interested to hear what the denizens of Making Light have to say on this.

#19 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 07:11 PM:

John Lansford: I would actually be happy to believe that. Do you have a reference?

#20 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 07:15 PM:

Kate, as I understand it, the idea is to collate all the different info on who is looking for whom in one place, so that people can be put in contact with each other.

Personally, you kinda threw me into a crisis, because I have been doing work for this project and now I don't really know what to think about it. Yes, I have had doubts about copying emails and telephone numbers into a database that will be accessible to anybody. On the other hand, if somebody's email is up on craiglist, it's probably up for grabs to spam spiders anyway and it might well be put to some use. It seemed a good idea at the time, but I might well have fallen into the do-something-anything-to-ease-my-anxiety trap.

I'd be interested to hear other opinons and info on it.

#21 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 09:48 PM:

Maybe I'm just naive, but I can't believe that Mayor Nagin's distress has all been nothing but orchestrated political showboating. That statement he's going to be famous for comes relatively late in the game; in the days before, reporters from local media (WWL, WDSU) had been pinging him daily, and I got the impression of someone in the thick of the disaster response from the beginning with first-hand knowledge of the situation. I believe his frustration with the slowness of the Feds ("They say it's coming, but it's not here!") has been genuine.

(His comments via WWL feuled a telephone argument I had with my mother Tuesday on the phone, where I reported him saying that FEMA still aren't there, promised supplies still aren't there, and she said That's not true, FEMA said on CNN that they sent aid.)

I can't comment on his political history, not having lived in the city since the mayorship of Marc Morial, but whatever it may be, the things Nagin's saying now ring true, and the distress he's broadcasting strikes me as real.

I'll turn a more cynical eye on him after his current complaints are addressed and FEMA aren't starving those remaining in the city.

#22 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 10:22 PM:

Colin: It came from an interview with a Corps of Engineers representative. I suspect it was a television interview, because I can't find it now.

It's normal to protect the soil supporting a new bridge against erosion for a limited distance on each side of the bridge. The engineer usually calls for the erosion control measures to overlap with undisturbed soil so that the joint between the presumably stable undisturbed soil and the new fill is protected. It's also normal to do only a cursory evaluation of nearby undisturbed areas if you're not increasing the water flow across it. If the soil is resisting erosion with its current flow, the engineer shouldn't have to do anything to it.

However, the way things happened suggests to me either inadequate protection against erosion in case of an overtop or inadequate maintenance of the protection that was in place. The former could be the result of changing design standards; erosion models are still in constant refinement. Both possibilities point toward inadequate funding to either upgrade the structure to modern standards or to properly maintain it.

#23 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2005, 10:27 PM:

Both possibilities point toward inadequate funding to either upgrade the structure to modern standards or to properly maintain it.

Complicated by repairs and maintenance not being attractive photo-ops for most politicians: ribbon-cuttings for repaved streets or replaced storm-drains or rebuilt/repair levees? Much nicer to have a new courthouse or prison or office building that you can stand in front of while you make a speech for the nice cameramen. Especially if said facility is named for a prominent dead (or recently retired) politician.

#24 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 12:19 AM:

Kate, Anna,

The data is out there in public because people are pretty well desperate to get it seen, noted, and acted upon. These are legitimate privacy concerns, but I think they're trumped this time.

#26 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 05:49 PM:

colin, there was an illo of the overtopping in the WashPost, but of course they don't have it online so I scanned it here.

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