Back to previous post: Today’s lesson (2)

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Welcome, Jon Carroll readers

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

September 7, 2005

What we did on our vacation
Posted by Teresa at 08:20 PM *

Warning: I’m about to link to a page that has a little “sfsocialists” logo in the upper left corner. If that makes you twitch, skip this post. You’ll be doing yourself a disservice, though. The piece is descriptive. What the authors are writing about is what happened to them during the time they were stuck in the city after the storm passed.

The authors, Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky, were attending a paramedics’ conference in New Orleans, staying in the French Quarter, when the hurricane hit. Afterward, they were in the same situation as other survivors in the city: no food, no water, no transportation, and no help from the outside world:

On Day 2, there were approximately 500 of us left in the hotels in the French Quarter. We were a mix of foreign tourists, conference attendees like ourselves, and locals who had checked into hotels for safety and shelter from Katrina. Some of us had cell phone contact with family and friends outside of New Orleans. We were repeatedly told that all sorts of resources including the National Guard and scores of buses were pouring into the city. The buses and the other resources must have been invisible because none of us had seen them.

We decided we had to save ourselves. So we pooled our money and came up with $25,000 to have ten buses come and take us out of the city. Those who did not have the requisite $45.00 for a ticket were subsidized by those who did have extra money. We waited for 48 hours for the buses, spending the last 12 hours standing outside, sharing the limited water, food, and clothes we had. We created a priority boarding area for the sick, elderly, and newborn babies. We waited late into the night for the “imminent” arrival of the buses. The buses never arrived. We later learned that the minute they arrived at the city limits, they were commandeered by the military.

By day 4 our hotels had run out of fuel and water. Sanitation was dangerously abysmal. As the desperation and despair increased, street crime as well as water levels began to rise. The hotels turned us out and locked their doors, telling us that the “officials” told us to report to the convention center to wait for more buses. As we entered the center of the city, we finally encountered the National Guard.

The Guards told us we would not be allowed into the Superdome as the city’s primary shelter had been descended into a humanitarian and health hellhole. The guards further told us that the city’s only other shelter, the Convention Center, was also descending into chaos and squalor and that the police were not allowing anyone else in. Quite naturally, we asked, “If we can’t go to the only two shelters in the city, what was our alternative?” The guards told us that that was our problem, and no they did not have extra water to give to us. This would be the start of our numerous encounters with callous and hostile “law enforcement”.

We walked to the police command center at Harrah’s on Canal Street and were told the same thing, that we were on our own, and no they did not have water to give us. We now numbered several hundred. We held a mass meeting to decide a course of action. We agreed to camp outside the police command post. We would be plainly visible to the media and would constitute a highly visible embarrassment to the city officials. The police told us that we could not stay. Regardless, we began to settle in and set up camp. In short order, the police commander came across the street to address our group. He told us he had a solution: we should walk to the Pontchartrain Expressway and cross the greater New Orleans Bridge where the police had buses lined up to take us out of the city. The crowed cheered and began to move. We called everyone back and explained to the commander that there had been lots of misinformation and wrong information and was he sure that there were buses waiting for us. The commander turned to the crowd and stated emphatically, “I swear to you that the buses are there.”

We organized ourselves and the 200 of us set off for the bridge with great excitement and hope. As we marched pasted the convention center, many locals saw our determined and optimistic group and asked where we were headed. We told them about the great news. Families immediately grabbed their few belongings and quickly our numbers doubled and then doubled again. Babies in strollers now joined us, people using crutches, elderly clasping walkers and others people in wheelchairs. We marched the 2-3 miles to the freeway and up the steep incline to the Bridge. It now began to pour down rain, but it did not dampen our enthusiasm.

If Bradshaw and Slonsky are socialists, of course they were excited, hopeful, determined, and optimistic, with undampened enthusiasm: they were taking part in an honest-to-god self-organizing people’s march in search of peace, freedom, and better treatment for all. Once in a while, situations do arise where the trad socialists are the ones who understand what’s going on.

As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and of the commander’s assurances. The sheriffs informed us there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.

We questioned why we couldn’t cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the six-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their city. These were code words for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans.

Don’t give me any knee-jerk reactions. I’m a centrist, not a socialist, and I know perfectly well that that translation is correct. I could drag in a half-dozen translators, of diverse political leanings, and they’d tell you the same thing. Gretna law enforcement panicked at the prospect of letting some half-starved shell-shocked hurricane survivors, grannies and little kids and all, come limping on foot through their area. May they be ashamed of themselves forever.

Our small group retreated back down Highway 90 to seek shelter from the rain under an overpass. We debated our options and in the end decided to build an encampment in the middle of the Ponchartrain Expressway on the center divide, between the O’Keefe and Tchoupitoulas exits. We reasoned we would be visible to everyone; we would have some security, being on an elevated freeway; and we could wait and watch for the arrival of the yet-to-be-seen buses.

All day long, we saw other families, individuals and groups make the same trip up the incline in an attempt to cross the bridge, only to be turned away. Some chased away with gunfire, others simply told no, others to be verbally berated and humiliated. Thousands of New Orleaners were prevented and prohibited from self-evacuating the city on foot. Meanwhile, the only two city shelters sank further into squalor and disrepair. The only way across the bridge was by vehicle. We saw workers stealing trucks, buses, moving vans, semi-trucks and any car that could be hotwired. All were packed with people trying to escape the misery New Orleans had become.

Until I read this story, it had never once occurred to me that law enforcement might be keeping people from leaving the city on foot. That’s mainly how New York City evacuates when we have a disaster. If you’re prudent, you keep a pair of comfortable walking shoes at the office where you work.* It may take you hours to reach home, or a place with working transit, or just an area that’s less affected by the disaster, but you’ll eventually get there.

Walking out lightens the load on services in the city core. It frees up resources that can be better spent evacuating people who are injured, elderly, frail, or disabled, or who commute long distances by rail. It means everything doesn’t have to go into and out of one small central area. In the case of New Orleans, it would move people who need relief out of the worst-flooded areas, which could only make things easier for everyone.

Why should people be prohibited from leaving New Orleans on foot, but the same people be allowed to leave if they’re in cars and trucks? We already knew the people stuck in the city didn’t have cars. That’s why they’re stuck there.

Corroboration: the story of three intrepid Duke University students who cobbled together enough fake ID to pass for journalists, then made two trips ferrying survivors to LSU and Baton Rouge. They got a look at the situation in the Superdome, and the arbitrariness of the situation:

“We found it absolutely incredible that the authorities had no way to get there for four or five days, that they didn’t go in and help these people, and we made it in a two-wheel-drive Hyundai,” said Hans Buder, who made the trip with his roommate Byrd and another student, David Hankla. …

“Anyone who knows that area, if you had a bus, it would take you no more than 20 minutes to drive in with a bus and get these people out,” Buder said. “They sat there for four or five days with no food, no water, babies getting raped in the bathrooms, there were murders, nobody was doing anything for these people. And we just drove right in, really disgraceful. I don’t want to get too fired up with the rhetoric, but some blame needs to be placed somewhere.”

More corroboration: this segment, from (of all places) Sean Hannity & Alan Colmes’ show on Fox News, with Geraldo Rivera and Shepard Smith reporting from the NOLA convention center and the encampment on I-10. Shepard Smith reported that there were thousands of people still stuck on freeways and bridges, with no food or water, ignored there for days. Back in the studio, O’Reilly said that what they needed was a strong leader like Rudy Giuliani. Smith shot back that what they needed “on the first day was food and water and what they needed on the second day was food and water and what they needed on the third day was food and water.”

Geraldo tried to describe the inhuman conditions at the shelter, then broke down and cried as he begged the authorities to let people still stuck in the convention center walk out of town. Shepard Smith confirmed that the authorities had set up checkpoints, and were turning back people who tried to leave. When Sean Hannity said Smith and Rivera needed to get some perspective, Smith yelled “This is the perspective!”

See also the comments on this at Digby and TalkLeft.

FEMA’s contemptible excuse for not letting the Red Cross into New Orleans was that if they alleviated the suffering there, people might be disinclined to leave. As every report from the city attests, the people in New Orleans are desperate to get out. And how does FEMA’s excuse fit in with law enforcement’s refusal to let the citizenry leave the city? Furthermore, what reason can there be for keeping obviously harmless people from walking along public roads in order to get out of a dangerously unlivable situation and into safer areas where the civil authorities could give them assistance and get them into shelters?

We return now to Bradford and Slonsky and the rest of their group, huddled in the middle of the Ponchartrain Expressway between the O’Keefe and Tchoupitoulas exits, where they’re organizing a cooperative:

Our little encampment began to blossom. Someone stole a water delivery truck and brought it up to us. Let’s hear it for looting! A mile or so down the freeway, an army truck lost a couple of pallets of C-rations on a tight turn. We ferried the food back to our camp in shopping carts. Now secure with the two necessities, food and water, cooperation, community, and creativity flowered. We organized a cleanup and hung garbage bags from the rebar poles. We made beds from wood pallets and cardboard. We designated a storm drain as the bathroom and the kids built an elaborate enclosure for privacy out of plastic, broken umbrellas, and other scraps. We even organized a food recycling system where individuals could swap out parts of C-rations (applesauce for babies and candies for kids!).

This was a process we saw repeatedly in the aftermath of Katrina. When individuals had to fight to find food or water, it meant looking out for yourself only. You had to do whatever it took to find water for your kids or food for your parents. When these basic needs were met, people began to look out for each other, working together and constructing a community.

If the relief organizations had saturated the City with food and water in the first 2 or 3 days, the desperation, the frustration and the ugliness would not have set in.

Emphasis mine. They’re right. People in stressful emergency situations tend to cooperate rather than panic. It takes a terminal weenie like Jonah Goldberg to come up with masturbatory post-holocaust fantasies about the imminent breakdown of civilization. (I’ve met his type in the consuite. They tend to own lots of knives, talk big about how dangerous society has become, not know their neighbors, and never have gotten into so much as a streetcorner shoving-match, much less a fight.) What Goldberg is actually demonstrating is that he’s never dealt with real human beings during real civil emergencies.

It takes very little to turn people into part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. You practically have to work at it to get them to do anything else. But if you make them feel like they’ve been abandoned and are on their own, they’ll do whatever they can to ensure that they and their loved ones survive. You’d do the same.

We return once again to Bradshaw and Slonsky in the freeway-median cooperative:

Flush with the necessities, we offered food and water to passing families and individuals. Many decided to stay and join us. Our encampment grew to 80 or 90 people.

From a woman with a battery powered radio we learned that the media was talking about us. Up in full view on the freeway, every relief and news organizations saw us on their way into the city. Officials were being asked what they were going to do about all those families living up on the freeway? The officials responded they were going to take care of us. Some of us got a sinking feeling. “Taking care of us” had an ominous tone to it.

Unfortunately, our sinking feeling (along with the sinking city) was correct. Just as dusk set in, a Gretna Sheriff showed up, jumped out of his patrol vehicle, aimed his gun at our faces, screaming, “Get off the fucking freeway”. A helicopter arrived and used the wind from its blades to blow away our flimsy structures. As we retreated, the sheriff loaded up his truck with our food and water.

Let’s rehearse the situation: There are no available shelters in New Orleans. Poor pedestrians aren’t being allowed to leave the city. Since they’re stuck in the city, the freeway cooperative people are taking care of each other and organizing the provision of food, water, sanitation, and other basic needs. Nobody is using their chunk of freeway. What possible reason can there be for destroying their encampment and scattering its inhabitants?

As a bonus question, what legitimate use could the sheriff have for water and C-rations, other than to put them into the hands of refugees?

Once again, at gunpoint, we were forced off the freeway. All the law enforcement agencies appeared threatened when we congregated or congealed into groups of 20 or more. In every congregation of “victims” they saw “mob” or “riot”. We felt safety in numbers. Our “we must stay together” was impossible because the agencies would force us into small atomized groups.

In the pandemonium of having our camp raided and destroyed, we scattered once again. Reduced to a small group of eight people, in the dark, we sought refuge in an abandoned school bus, under the freeway on Cilo Street. We were hiding from possible criminal elements, but equally and definitely we were hiding from the police and sheriffs with their martial law, curfew, and shoot-to-kill policies.

It would appear that sick, starved, homeless, and weary though they were the refugees were nevertheless so frightening to law enforcement that they had to hide from the very people who should have been helping and protecting them.

Tell me again who’s been firing off all those shots that’ve been reported in New Orleans?

Bradshaw and Slonsky’s adventures weren’t over, but they were eventually airlifted out by an urban search-and-rescue team. Given how much search-and-rescue work remains to be done, one wonders why Bradshaw and Slonsky couldn’t be allowed to walk out of the city under their own power, and let the pros concentrate on rescuing less resourceful survivors.

Official priorities didn’t improve once they were out of the city:

Those who managed to make it out with any possessions (often a few belongings in tattered plastic bags) were subjected to two different dog-sniffing searches.

Most of us had not eaten all day because our C-rations had been confiscated at the airport because the rations set off the metal detectors. Yet no food had been provided for the men, women, children, elderly, and disabled as they sat for hours, waiting to be “medically screened” to make sure we were not carrying any communicable diseases.

This official treatment was in sharp contrast to the warm, heartfelt reception given to us by the ordinary Texans. We saw one airline worker give her shoes to someone who was barefoot. Strangers on the street offered us money and toiletries with words of welcome.

Any lingering suspicions that Bradshaw and Slonsky’s account was an exercise in ideology should dispelled by the brevity and austerity of their conclusion:

Throughout, the official relief effort was callous, inept, and racist. There was more suffering than need be. Lives were lost that did not need to be lost.

Comments on What we did on our vacation:
#1 ::: Josh ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 08:20 PM:

I'm not sure that Bradshaw and Slonsky are socialists; I think their account was just posted at the sfsocialists site by someone who'd assembled it from a series of craigslist forum posts. Their account is also available at without the socialist logo.

#2 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 08:26 PM:

I'd hate for this story to be found to be falsified. I also hate the idea that it's true, because of what it says about my fellow humans.

Sadly, I know enough history to bet on my fellow humans as being capable of far worse than what was described in the post.

Anyhow, This would seem to be the original posting.

#3 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 08:29 PM:

Aaah! Confluence of Josh!

#4 ::: Tom Scudder ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 08:31 PM:

I think the ur-source is to which the two of them also contributed this Nov. 4 2004 article.

#5 ::: Josh Larios ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 08:34 PM:

Heh. I knew I should have used my full name.

But, yeah. The possibility that it's true makes me ill, and I hate that conditions are such that I'm inclined to believe it. What the hell is going on?

#6 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 08:55 PM:

It's easy for me to believe that it's true, and you don't even have to believe that all of the authorities in New Orleans are engaged in a coordinated effort to increase the misery of people who are already miserable.

Believing that this is true "only" requires you to believe that the people who are supposed to be providing help and order are completely uncoordinated, that those nominally in charge don't care one way or the other what happens to the people in the city, and that each local cluster of officials is thinking of nothing more than its own local convenience.

I doubt if anyone set out to create the nightmare where each place the refugees went, they were told that they had to be somewhere else. It's the sort of pattern that emerges from selfishness and the absence of leadership.

#7 ::: Kim (basement variety!) ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 09:16 PM:

I actually saw the Hannity & Colmes bit with Shep and Geraldo. They were in fact very vocal about the people under the underpass.

#8 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 09:22 PM:

Thank you, Tom. I was a little worried when I read Josh Larios' first post. It hadn't occurred to me that they might not be socialists, because that's what they sounded like.

I regret to tell you that so far all the stories I've seen from the same time and place -- I've added a major one since I put the post up -- corroborate Bradshaw and Slonsky's account.

I had wondered if they were attending the paramedics' convention. Tom's additional link answered that question. What that tells us is that when Bradshaw and Slonsky say conditions were intolerable, they're not just being squeamish. Paramedics get the squeam knocked out of them during their first week or two on the job.

I think I'm going to keep the link to the socialist-flagged version of the story.

#9 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 09:30 PM:

I can confirm part of it. Four EMS personnel from Hawai'i were also attending that conference, and they managed to report to their management people out here. We got TV news every night for four nights about the bus being commandeered and the cops being less than helpful (understatement? Don't know. When they get back here they may have more to say). Last I heard they were in Dallas.

Television news articles here.

#10 ::: Josh Larios ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 09:38 PM:

I'd misread part of the thread on the craiglist forums, leading me to believe that the version at sfsocialists was assembled from the craigslist posts--I see now that it wasn't. My mistake, sorry.

Either way, it's an astounding account. I'd seen the Geraldo Rivera/Shep Smith clip before, but the full import of what they said didn't really sink in until I read this piece. Every time I think I can't be any more disheartened by the massive ineptitude/malice on the part of the authorities down there, I'm proven wrong.

#11 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 09:40 PM:

Another dab of corroboration from the Health Care Blog.

#12 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 09:42 PM:

This goes beyond appalling to "complete abrogation of the social contract between governors and governed".

What I find particularly disturbing is the implication that has been coming through these sorts of story that the crisis in New Orleans did not cause that abrogation, but merely stripped back layers which were hiding the constituent elements of that breakdown -- the contempt and selfish hostility which the police and other authority figures showed towards those whom they ought to have been protecting and serving.

The gross incompetence at the very top is in some ways less disturbing, because its very quality of deer-in-the-headlights paralysis suggests an incapacity which is a breakdown in the ability of part of the system to operate, rather than a complete abnegation and renunciation of the values of the system itself. Whether the administration has good or bad intentions now seems to be irrelevant, because it seems to be incapable of doing anything effective. The forces on the ground had power and were, simply and deliberately, misusing it.

#13 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 09:52 PM:

Now, now, we must always be on guard against moral hazard. Feed, clothe, and house a man and he will want the same or better tomorrow; teach him that he's not going to get food, clothing, or shelter, and before long he won't complain at all.

#14 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 10:11 PM:

I used to love to read apocalyptic science fiction and daydream about what I would do if civilization ended. I have to say that most fictional accounts seem not to be as vicious as reality.

but going back to survivor stories from New Orleans, has everyone seen Charmaine Neville's account of her experience? She is sister to the Neville brothers in New Orleans and quite a performer in her own right. She is, in my mind, a bona fide hero after all she did to keep a group of folks alive. Here is her account. Make sure you bring kleenex.

#15 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 10:16 PM:

Looks like the entire Gretna PD will be in line for one of Bush's Medals of Freedom. Probably on the stage alongside Brownie and Chertoff.

I don't know wheter to be pleased or horrified that this story seems to be credible.

#16 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 10:24 PM:

Another first-person account has appeared here, this one from a French-Canadian tourist. (It's already been translated into English.)

#17 ::: Jordin Kare ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 10:34 PM:

What truly boggles me is not that these things happened, but that a large fraction of the American public seems to think they're perfectly fine. According to Gallup 35% of the public thinks the Federal government response has been "good" or "very good", and another 20% think it's been OK ("neither good nor bad," not "no opinion"). (State and local governments get 37% "good" or "very good.") What would it take to make these people believe the Federal government screwed up? Mass public executions on prime time TV?

#18 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 10:40 PM:



I knew something was wrong the moment I saw the first sat photos. Why didn't they just walk across the bridge to dry land? It was *right there*. The highway runs right by the Superdome, and the Convention Center, and across the Mississippi.

Answer: The police departments decided that they were better dead. And their mayors must have agreed with them. They could have easily stopped this. They didn't even try. Hell, they probably gave the orders.

Fuck you, Ray Naglin. You could have gotten your people out, and you didn't even try. Just one little lean, and that bridge would have been open. But you wouldn't do it. Why, I neither know, no care. The only consolation you should have is that you'll only rate the third or fourth circle, while those bastards on the bridge are heading to the ninth. Unless you knew of those orders, in which case, they'll be digging a hole next to Old Scratch Himself, to shove your ass in next to Bush and Brown.

You saw this image. It's not hard to find. It's been on the net for a fucking week -- and you had helicopters and such flying about. There's no rational world in where you didn't know that they could walk out, other than those fucking cops at the far end.

#19 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 10:49 PM:

TNH: Why should people be prohibited from leaving New Orleans...

For a week now, I've been wondering out loud if this business of herding poor people into a stadium to die was deliberately modeled on Justinian and the Nika riots.

From today's NY Times:

[Pelosi] related that she urged Bush at the White House on Tuesday to fire Brown.
''He said, 'Why would I do that?''' Pelosi said.
''I said because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right last week.'
And he said 'What didn't go right?' ''

#20 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 10:59 PM:

Erik, I'm stunned. I've been assuming all along that anyone who hadn't walked out had a good reason for not doing so.

You know, New Yorkers, we've got it down to a routine. Last evacuation -- that was the blackout -- we had the Brooklyn Beep standing at the end of the Manhattan Bridge with a megaphone, yelling about how everything's okay now, you're in Brooklyn, greatest place in the world. He knew half the borough (okay, not half, but lots) would be walking past that point. It's fast, it's easy, it's remarkably effective.

What bloody right did the Gretna police force have to keep people from walking across that bridge? And why didn't other agencies tell them to knock it off?

#21 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 11:09 PM:

I keep hearing people blaming these things - and the internment camp in Oklahoma - on "bureocracy", "centralized governament" and such.

I have a better explanation.

It's racism.

Not neccessarily skin-color racism, but it seems to me that the prime mover in a lot of these things is "we don't want Those People" around here. They loot, they rape, We Know What Their Kind Do.

That's why the good people in Baton Rouge at one point didn't want to accomodate their next-door neighbour.

That's why the grocery store owner in the city selected to host the New Orleans morgue said "Oh well better that than a refugee camp."

What struck me in the story about the Oklahoma camp was how much these people - people that were, until last week, free adult citizens with jobs and houses and lives of their own - have become to be considered too stupid or too emotional to be trusted with a kitchen fire.

It is "kinda scary", isn't it?

#22 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 11:13 PM:

I found that story earlier today. Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky are also union leaders for the SEIUC (probably sic, but) in SF. You can find older hits for them on the Web. This story has been propagated all over the place.

I believed the story because it filled in a bunch of dots for me, particularly the bit about people showing up at the convention center and on the highways. I also wondered why people just didn't walk over the bridges, the way that they did after 9/11 in NYC, and this story made it clear why.

#23 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 11:40 PM:

Complete optimist that I am, I'm going to suggest once again writing to your Congressmen and Senators, requesting articles of impeachment against Bush.

Or, at least getting him declared an enemy combatant.

#24 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 11:49 PM:

JDM - Writing my congressman to demand articles of impeachment won't be terribly effective - he's on the short list of most liberal and therefore somewhat marginalized. BUT, I will write him about demanding an effective investigation into not only FEMA's immediate (lack of) reaction, but also into what seems to be happening right now.

For whatever good that might do.

#25 ::: Luthe ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 12:00 AM:

Further proof that assuming everyone is True Evil alignment backfires mightly. All you do is piss off the majority that is Lawful Neutral and annoy the shit out of the True Goods.

Why, yes, I have developed an entire theory of human behavior based on the D&D alignment system.

#26 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 12:18 AM:

Now, now, we must always be on guard against moral hazard. Feed, clothe, and house a man and he will want the same or better tomorrow; teach him that he's not going to get food, clothing, or shelter, and before long he won't complain at all.

That was what the Chennault's Flying Tigers ran into in China when they ran out of fuel or something like that, the attitude of the local culture was that someone who rescued someone else, was forever after responsible for that person. Not coming to the rescue of strangers and letting them die, in that particular culture, was the culturally approved action to take.

#27 ::: Lizzy Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 12:33 AM:

I read this story yesterday. Shocking but not surprising, like much of what's happened/happening. I haven't been sleeping too soundly the last few nights. I don't think we've had a serious discussion of original sin yet, though I have seen at least one elsewhere.

The Senate & House have announced that they will hold a "joint, bipartisan" investigation into the Federal response to Katrina.

#28 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 12:36 AM:

This thread made me get out my ancient Methodist Hymnal and flip to the prayers of confession in the back (translated into more recent form):
"... We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against Your holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ourght not to have done. But You, o Lord, have mercy upon us. Spare those, o God, who confess their faults. ..."

Right now, it looks to me like the only parts of government that are actually reasonbly unblameable are the Coast Guard and possibly the Army Corps of Engineers. Which is truly appalling. The worst part of it may be that the ones who caused the harm, by their actions or inactions, think they haven't done anything to be ashamed of; hence no confession of fault. (I suspect the NOLA police who suicided did know, and couldn't live with it.)

#29 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 12:47 AM:

In case of irony, break glass

September is emergency preparedness month

You may now remove your fist from the monitor.

#30 ::: Rich McAllister ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 01:01 AM:

Anna: I have a better explanation.

It's racism.

Not necessarily skin-color racism, but it seems to me that the prime mover in a lot of these things is "we don't want Those People" around here. They loot, they rape, We Know What Their Kind Do.

Back in the old days when SF fans thought we were better than everybody else, fans called it "xenophobia," and we thought it was a sin.

#31 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 02:19 AM:

This makes me sick.

#32 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 02:29 AM:

You read this, and you begin to wonder about some of the claims made by the supposed leadership. You hear about these vile actions, and you wonder if a Mayor and a Sheriff would want FEMA to cut their phonelines so they could say they didn't know.

Yes, I know, not the same place, but what has happened in Jefferson Parish that we haven't heard of?

Is there anyone in a position of authority in New Orleans that we can trust?

#33 ::: Isabel ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 02:48 AM:

When I read this yesterday at Andrew Sullivan's, I've wondered why the SF Chronicle, that ran a story about these two coming home almost a week ago, with brief quotes, never really explored. After all, newspapers usually love anecdotical accounts of catastrophes. Obviously, this one was too much, even for the SF Chronicle.

Also, I remember reading a story by a New Orleans'writer that corroborates the part of the buses, down to the sums: 25.000$ for the buses, 45$ per ticket. Unfortunately, I don't remember his name, I just remember he hunkered down at home in the French Quarter with some friends until they thought it was too much (one of his neighbors had to have a dialysis and needed medical attention) and they joined the crowd for the buses in the hotel. These local people eventually got away very quickly in a bus driven by a resourceful guy (bus looter?). It was all very well written, in a light tone (the underlying message was, don't write off NO yet), probably in the NY Times.

Of course, this does not corroborate the rest of the story, but it is a good indication that it is true, I think.

#34 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 03:05 AM:

Anna, do you have a pointer to information on the Oklahoma camp? I hadn't heard about one and am not finding anything that looks relevant.

#35 ::: Rich McAllister ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 03:28 AM:

Todd, I dunno if this is what Anna meant, but is an interesting take on camps in Oklahoma....

#36 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 03:53 AM:

Isabel, if you've remembered the timing right there's something that needs some checking. Count the days and see if they add up.

But I've noticed that I'm losing track of the days on this; is it really Thursday already? Again?

I think we'd all appreciate a link to any SF Chronicle report.

#37 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 03:57 AM:

Police and militia attacking citizens? Defended by the leaders of our national government and the leaders one of our major parties? This is fascism--the thing itself, not a tendency or a pale copy. May its reign be short.

Anyone care to argue that I'm being alarmist?

#38 ::: Isabel ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 04:13 AM:

Good thing you made me check, Dave Bell. Memory does play tricks on you. The Chronicle article refers some paramedics in a convention in New Orleans, but not the same ones:

And after my post I thought that, of course, the fact that some details were published a couple of days ago (like the prices of the buses) were not a proof (maybe au contraire). Anyway, I'll try to find that article, that was interesting, although it might be difficult.

I apologize for relying on my memory and relaying false information.

#39 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 05:22 AM:

And he [Bush] said 'What didn't go right?' ''

Sorry to nitpick, but that's a slight misquote. What he actually said was "We are quite safe here from your pitiful little band. Everything which has happened has done so according to my design."

Seriously: leave, now. I was being generous and saying things like "Well, it's just a disorganised response to what is after all a really big disaster. It's chaos, but would any other country do better?"
Then you start hearing about people cutting phone lines. And now this. If it's true - and I almost hope it isn't - this is very bad indeed.

(Incidentally: It hadn't occurred to me that they might not be socialists, because that's what they sounded like - they don't sound like socialists to me; just decent human beings. Two sets which overlap, but not completely.)

If I were living in the US, I would leave.
I I were a US citizen, I would still leave. I know there's the whole "No! Don't desert your country! Stay and make it better!" argument, but I think it's gone beyond that point. Life's better outside and you can get more done.

Think Huguenot.

#40 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 06:11 AM:

Todd: I think the link floated in the comments somewhere, but yes, that's the story I meant. Link:

#41 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 06:30 AM:

"If I were living in the US, I would leave."

And go where, Ajay?

#42 ::: Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 06:34 AM:

I can see why the red clenched fist logo might put people off. The funny thing is that it's some evidence that the story is true. The International Socialists come from a tradition that is very strong on not making shit up in matters of fact and reportage. The authors have responsible jobs and union positions. I doubt they would risk all that by making shit up.

#43 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 07:17 AM:

On the Today Show this morning, Haley Barbour, former chair of the Republican party, when asked about the early federa response to Katrina, said, "I don't know about New Orleans, but here in Mississippi..." and then went on to praise how well everything went in Mississippi. Given that Barbour is a Republican and that Mississippi doesn't have a large, denely populated area like New Orleans, that indicates a huge, unacknowledged problem.

Hurricane relief in Louisiana is still quite screwed up - this story was front page news on the Post Gazette today:

Frustration, Boredom for Pensylvania Troops on the Gulf

With all the work that needs to happen in the Gulf it's amazing that these folks don't seem to have a job yet...

#44 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 07:29 AM:

Randolph Fritz said: And go where, Ajay?

Come to the Isle of Man! Our government is so small that corruption is of the pettiest kind. Plus we have no army so we won't feel let down if there's a disaster and the army doesn't turn up to help. And, even better, almost all the important stuff (power stations, hospitals, supermarkets, government offices, people) is on the coast so the whole country would effectively be destroyed if there was a flood. And, even better than that, being an island we don't even have the choice of evacuating on foot.

I've been thinking, ever since Katrina, how I'm kind of glad to have such limited options of survival over here. I'd rather face a storm, flood, tornado, hurricane, etc on my own than see my government and emergency services failing to do the human thing.

#45 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 07:35 AM:

And go where, Ajay?

I'd say Scotland (we need the people), but I'm biased. Ireland. Australia. England. Wales. New Zealand. Hong Kong. Canada. France. Germany. Spain. Czech Republic. Sweden. Denmark. South Africa.
And yes, I know, most people don't have the option of leaving - jobs that require you to be in one place or another, families, schools, or just lack of money - and that's bad for them. But if you can leave, do. This sort of thing is really getting worrying.

#46 ::: marrije ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 07:41 AM:

Or come to Holland. Most of my country may be below sea level, but after the flood disaster of 1953, we've implemented the Delta Works and now everything is (reportedly) up to speed for conditions that occur once every 10.000 years. As opposed to once every 50 years, as I heard knowledgeable guy from Rijkswaterstaat (our Army Corps of Engineers) say about New Orleans, where he'd been for talks with his USA colleagues. 'Well, they do things differently over there,' he said.

Now if we can only keep the neo-con agenda out of the country, all will be fine. I hope. I expect.

#47 ::: Kevin M. ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 07:45 AM:

"Once in a while, situations do arise where the trad socialists are the ones who understand whats going on."

Socialists! My God, why don't you just link to the NAMBLA site and get it over with!

Seriously, have we come so far in this country that you have warn readers that they might be encountering a political belief system to the left of Bill Clinton? But then, I'm a union member, so what do I know?... :)

#48 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 08:07 AM:

I'm not sure I believe that Oklahoma story. I'm not saying that it can't be true, but it's coming out of some flaky places. Also, whenever the administration screws up really, really badly, Rove's favorite technique is to float a false story that's similar to the true one, and let them be discredited together.

I keep thinking about the bridge thing. It's as though, during a crisis, the local police in Fort Lee, Weehawken, Jersey City, Bayonne, Elizabeth, and Perth Amboy, or in Brooklyn and Queens, had decided all on their own that they didn't want pedestrians from Manhattan crossing over into their area.

It's just wrong. They don't own the bridges. And even if they did try it, they couldn't make it stick for more than a few hours, because local police don't make those kinds of policy decisions.

So here's my question: All kinds of government and law enforcement agencies were operating in the New Orleans area. How come not a single one of them told the Gretna police to stop blocking the bridge?

Ken, I didn't know that socialists had that tradition -- and good on them if they do -- but I'd noticed as of a couple of elections ago that their news reporting can be very solid.

Luthe, you need to meet Greg London. He self-identifies as Lawful Good.

#49 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 08:08 AM:

That the bridges were closed to people on foot was in the Montreal Gazette, not known as a socialist organ, nor a hysterical one, on Saturday.

#50 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 08:37 AM:

I'm afraid we're seeing corroboration all over the place. Looks like this story's true.

#51 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 08:41 AM:

I've been assuming all along that anyone who hadn't walked out had a good reason for not doing so.

They did. It was called "Not being shot by police." This doubled when the order to concentrate on "looters" and the force authorizations went out. Now, all they needed to do was state that you were looting, and hell, you'd be just one more body on the ground, and the "looters" probably shot you anyway.

And the big blame game is "City, State or Feds?" Bullshit. They all fucked up badly, but I'm starting to feel while the fucked up federal response was merely mid-level "We don't want to spend money, besides, we've got cronies to seat", the city evil was "Do not let those people out."

#52 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 08:58 AM:

If you're talking information warfare, or black propaganda, faking incompetent enemy propaganda is part of the history.

But when it looks as if one part of the local government system is out of control, look carefully at what the people supposed to be in control are saying. It's a different suburb of New Orleans which had FEMA cutting phone lines, but there are also stories of deliberate radio jamming.

Just who is trying to hide what?

#53 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 08:59 AM:

It's sing along time, kids. Sing with me now!

"When in the course of human events..."

Sung to the tune of Greensleves.

#54 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 09:06 AM:

Given that the story is true, and hypothesizing that situation underlying it--armed cops keeping displaced citizens from crossing the bridge--was known to him, consider Ray Nagin's dilemma.

A gun battle between my cops and the Gretna cops would be an absolutely perfect reason to federalize the situation, bring in the armed forces, and turn the place into a wasteland.

Oh, wait.

Okay, the place is already a wasteland, but there were still survivors of it, and witnesses to it.

#55 ::: Charles ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 09:11 AM:

I remember seeing that the bridge had been closed to peds, although I seem to remember it being described as unsafe for peds. Unsafe is such a nice, neutral, all for the best sort of word. Its use suggested that the bridge had sustained structural damage or something, not that there was a police force that would be hard to distinguish from a KKK chapter occupying the far end of the bridge and shooting at refugees.

I'm not shocked that the 'burbs of NOLA contain raving racist scum willing to murder people to keep their fantasies of black people from entering their town (nor that those people are the police), but I'm a little surprised that no one in the major news outlets thought this was worth mentioning, particularly given how much time they were spending talking about the horrific conditions of the convention center. Perhaps it would have been worth mentioning, "And these people could just walk out of NO, if there weren't an army of racist cops blocking the only route out of this drowned city."

But I guess not.

#56 ::: Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 09:14 AM:

I wouldn't put a stamp of reliability on socialist reporting in general, for reasons too notorious to mention, but the ISO is a US splinter (don't ask) of a group whose British newspaper, Socialist Worker, has been the training ground of such journalists of repute as Paul Foot, John Palmer, and Eamon McCann. (McCann started off his journalistic career by sending Socialist Worker reports scribbled in pencil from the front lines in Derry, 1969.)

Speaking of socialists, I would be interested to know what folks better placed than me to judge make of this analysis on the World Socialist Web Site.

Anyway ... we now have an answer to 'Why didn't people just walk out?'

#57 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 09:19 AM:

What would it take to make these people believe the Federal government screwed up? Mass public executions on prime time TV?

Depending on how the media spun this scene, you might end up with a 60-70% aproval rating.

I'd love to write my congresscritter demanding articles of Impeachment against Bush but alas, I live in Georgia. Every time I write my reps, I get a form letter back that is the verbal equivilent of the orgy scene from Caligula. Guess who plays Caligula.

#58 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 09:21 AM:

"You forgot Holland!"

Sorry, Marrije. I have nothing against Holland as a destination (it's every bit as good as the others I suggested and better than some of them). I'm just thinking that it might make the Amis rather nervous to be behind dykes again; but, then, the Czech Republic and Germany have had massive floods as well; in '97 a third of the Czech Republic was under water.

Erik: no, the mayor will be in Caina, the first zone of the ninth circle of hell, which is reserved for traitors to city or state. Fittingly, while his victims were immersed in water, he will be immured in ice.

#59 ::: Charles Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 09:41 AM:

FYI, FEMA is still keeping volunteer first responders out of New Orleans --- and lest anyone think that's not policy, it's being justified right from the top, by our friend Michael Brown. The Huffington Post has the key quote from this LA Times article right at the top as I write:

"They can't just yet," Brown said during a briefing in Baton Rouge. "There is going to come this natural time when we will release this floodgate of cops and firefighters who want to help. It's the same for anyone who wants to volunteer we have over 50,000 offers of donations from the private sector. It has to be coordinated in such a way that it helps."

As to the "Oklahoma story", if it's the same one I've seen here, it's worth noting some, shall we say, points of resonance between it and the coverage in local media here of where the Massachusetts state government was planning to put the 2500 evacuees that it was expecting (though the Globe headline yesterday said tht was on hold, as the evacuees are objecting to being warehoused in states where they don't know anybody).

Briefly, the plan was to put the people in the barracks of a National Guard base out on Cape Cod. They would have been four to a room, in two bunk beds; not a whole lot of privacy, nor many amenities. On the one hand, the local government here was arranging for shuttle buses to shopping in Falmouth and off-base schooling for the kids --- which is rather different from the Oklahoma story. But on the other hand, for all the talk about the base's swimming pool and nine-hole golf course, the sheer crowding would have made basic living conditions for the people stuck there, perforce, pretty bleak.

Put an operation like that in the hands of local cops whose attitude is what we saw in New Orleans itself, and what you get is, well... the Oklahoma story.

(Cites: here and here on the Cape Cod story, for those with an interest).

#60 ::: Charles Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 09:44 AM:

BTW, another story we're hearing a lot about is of families that got split up because the helicopter pilots promised to come back for the rest, and didn't. Well, here's one reason that didn't happen: two of those helicopter pilots were acting on their own initiative, and got reprimanded for it. (via King of Zembla).

#61 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 10:22 AM:

as far as an armed battle between New Orleans and Gretna police drawing in the feds, it appears that part of the reason for the delay was that the Bush Administration was trying to force the state of Louisiana to give up total sovereignty as a condition for assistance. A friend sent me the following on it:

"It now seems to be coming out that at least part of the delay in getting out-of-state national guard and regular army in to New Orleans was caused by some as yet unreported on legal wrangling between the White House and Louisiana Democratic governor. One poster on DailyKos says

>And maybe someone will ask what the "two options" were that Bush offered Blanco the day he flew in and before he gave the go ahead to let rescuers in. "Two options" that were evidently so "loaded" that she responded she had to have time to think them over.

What were the options? Let the Fed's use the "Insurrection Act" to bring in the military, instead of FEMA operating under the local authorities in conjunction with the NG?

There was a stall while political arm twisting went on.. I betcha, I betcha . . . It [the Insurrection Act] also allows the president to use federal troops to enforce federal laws when rebellion against the authority of the U.S. makes it impracticable to enforce the laws of the U.S. There is reason to believe that President Bush, running out of patience with Blanco by Saturday morning, used the only option that remained to him. It is being reported that Bush went around Blanco and utilized the Insurrection Act to federalize the National Guard and send in active military troops to take over the rescue and put down the lawlessness that had taken over New Orleans. The forces that Bush had poised to move into the city, swung into action.

#62 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 10:25 AM:

the rest of my friend's information:

"...Is it really possible that the President of the United States has become the first modern president declare a "rebellion against federal authority" and no one knows about it? Or could it be that the Governor of Louisiana has been the first governor ever forced to declare an "insurrection" and we don't know about that? Both seem very unlikely to me and so I assume that the out-of-state national guard and federal active duty troops that are finally helping in New Orleans are doing so on the basis of the very same authority that they have in Mississippi: a disaster has been declared and FEMA has asked them to help.

In other words Bush used some sort of bogus legal opinion to try to bluff Blanco into declaring "insurrection" and she called his bluff believing that he would not have the balls to declare a "rebellion". Bush blinked and discovered in the end that neither of these were necessary. We need a full investigation to get to the bottom of this. If even a few hours, let alone days were wasted over such arguments clearly national security requires that the congress find out about the problem and solve it with clear new laws."

I hope we get a full, fair and impartial investigation of this by someone other than Bush and his cronies.

#63 ::: Dru ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 10:59 AM:

Ok, while we're on the subject of methods of contacting our senators and reps, who has any insight into what will actually be read/listened to/acted on?

Each time I send something in postal mail, I get a bulk reply (if I'm lucky). If I call, they tell me they'll just tally my name, if they answer the phones after putting you on hold. If I email, it generally never gets a reply.

Considering the resources of this group, someone must have a better insight into the best method to get your message across to your congress members?

I don't create the most publishable letters to the editor, but the Chron will definitely be getting mine.

The march in SF on the 24th is a definite for me now. I hate crowds, but my comfort isn't what the day should be about.

#64 ::: elizabeth bear ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 11:00 AM:

Tying together the folk song and Katrina threads, a bit of salient pardody:

#65 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 11:00 AM:

Patrick points out to me that the Oklahoma story comes from a very iffy site of UFO conspiracists.

I don't know. I have a hard time disbelieving the Oklahoma story for a couple of reasons:

First, even a UFO nut can be in good faith.

Second, the whole setup is a whole lot like the typical refugee housing setup. And I use the word refugee advisedly. My friend in Dublin tells me for example that asylum seekers in Dublin are housed in apartments where they are forbidden to cook; they are issued some money, they can't of course work, and they have to eat out in Dublin.

When I went to Ellis Island what struck me was how immensely better the conditions were compared to what illegal immigrants who have the ill luck to be rounded up in Italy are subjected to.

All in all, although the Oklahoma story is not as well substatiated as the other, I had a much harder time believing that the police would shoot on evacuees than in beliving they would house them as described by the Oklahoma story. It still might turn out not to be true, of course. So far, everything I've heard from evacuees is good words for how they've been treated, especially in Texas.

#66 ::: Tom Scudder ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 11:06 AM:

Charles not-Dodgson: that bridge being blocked off was reported by none other than FOX News, in the now-famous "Shepard Smith and Geraldo shout down Sean Hannity" segment.

Also, the Oklahoma camp seems to have been closed down, for now.

#67 ::: Charlie Whitaker ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 11:06 AM:

A journalist for the St Louis Post-Dispatch has interviewed another guest of the Monteleone hotel whose story corroborates Bradshaw and Slonsky. The report can be found here.

#68 ::: Jack V. ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 11:08 AM:

Good post. Except for this:

FEMAs contemptible excuse for not letting the Red Cross into New Orleans was that if they alleviated the suffering there, people might be disinclined to leave.

It wasn't FEMA. That's the federal agency. It was the STATE homeland security department that requested that the Red Cross stay out. That's what the Red Cross's website says, anyway.

#69 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 11:13 AM:

Then you start hearing about people cutting phone lines. And now this. If it's true - and I almost hope it isn't - this is very bad indeed.

This thread collided during the night with a couple of thoughts that have been in the back of my mind for a while:

(1) that there are people in government who really, truly believe that liberals and ACLU members are unAmerican and traitors; and

(2) that there are people (not necessarily the same ones) in government who are willing (and probably capable) of making people disappear (I have this picture in my mind of guys who show up, probably in the evening, and tell you that you've just 'won' a trip to Iraq/Afghanistan; you're leaving now and the movers will pack your stuff the next day).

The result of the collision was the really awful thought that the incompetence involved may lie in the stories getting out. There may actually be malice involved, but it isn't what we were thinking it was: these people really don't care about poor and minorities (they don't exist on any significant level of thought for "those who"); it's really a practice run for clearing out the liberals.

A wonderful thought to start my day with. Back up the links and stories, before they disappear.

#70 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 11:20 AM:

Charles--thanks for posting that quote. I watched the briefing yesterday, but failed to take notes. His answer of "there has to be TEH PLAN" falls pretty damn short. People *died* waiting for TEH PLAN.

I do recall that Brown was also asked, "Are you worried about getting fired?" and "Will you be tendering your resignation?" His answer was "I serve at the pleasure of the President".

He was also asked, "Can you comment on why the Red Cross are being kept out of the city?" He sort of "um er well"d for a second, and then another official stepped between him and the microphones saying that "Mr. Brown won't be taking that question; we'll be getting you a better answer" from someone else, presumably from Homeland Security.

The briefing ended without that "better answer" ever materializing.

#71 ::: Trevin Matlock ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 11:21 AM:

Jordin Kare September 07, 2005, 10:34 PM:


"According to Gallup 35% of the public thinks the Federal government response has been "good" or "very good", and another 20% think it's been OK"


"What would it take to make these people believe the Federal government screwed up? Mass public executions on prime time TV?"

I would like to note that most of what this story condemns is the local response, not the federal response. It does little good to conflate the two where blame is concerned. They have different responsibilities and different capabilities.

#72 ::: Gluon ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 11:22 AM:

It's too bad there's no warranty on governments - this one's in need of an RMA.

#73 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 12:16 PM:

The airlift to the Cape Cod National Guard base is also on hold; that may well be the case more generally.

#74 ::: Diana Rowland ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 12:18 PM:

Sigh. I'm always amazed at how people are so eager to gobble up all of the awful stories. Somehow the amazing stories of courage and endurance and sacrifice get lost. Not all police officers are fascist pigs out to kill and destroy all of the lower-class citizens. Some of us down here are busting our asses to help our fellow man--even after suffering losses of our own.

I know, that's not as fun to rant about.

#75 ::: Redshift ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 12:18 PM:

The Senate & House have announced that they will hold a "joint, bipartisan" investigation into the Federal response to Katrina.

Yeah, the Republicans put out an announcement of a "bipartisan" investigation without even letting the Democrats read it first.

#76 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 12:25 PM:

This story definitely makes me wish I believed in Hell. (Alas, I still don't in any theological sense. We just make our own hells for our fellow earthlings, right here.) Despite being something of a pacifist, I've also been harboring some "Bring on the guillotines!" emotions for years now. But I very much doubt we'll even get impeachment, or criminal condemnations on any level.

I also have some friends in Australia. But it's not just financial or family considerations that will lead me to stay here in the wretched US of A. Just as nature goes through cycles of disaster and recovery, society does too. And if the "good folks" all leave for the sake of their own souls, what's left? Much as I hate what's going on here, the country as a whole isn't a drowned city (or sinking Titanic) fit only to be abandoned now. As a cowardly, introverted wimp, I may not be able to do much for it (even protest marching scares me), but some day my anger and my votes may still do some good.

Foolish optimism? Well, I do have a back-up belief: If we human parasites become too much for Earth to take, it will "shrug us off" and life in some form will go on. Gaia or no Gaia, that's a likely result.

Getting off my high horse, one more evacuation note. Some refugees recently arrived in Phoenix (as shown on TV). It makes me wonder about the effects of a long-term diaspora on the people of New Orleans, scattered all over the place.

#77 ::: Anna Mazzoldi ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 12:37 PM:

Anna said: My friend in Dublin tells me for example that asylum seekers in Dublin are housed in apartments where they are forbidden to cook; they are issued some money, they can't of course work, and they have to eat out in Dublin.

Just a slight correction: I am indeed in Dublin, but I was talking about asylum seekers in other parts of Ireland (I don't think there are any major accommodation centres in Dublin); and I think they get some kind of food delivered to them, so they don't have to eat out -- but they also can't choose what they eat (and I could make comments about standard Irish cuisine here, but I won't, and I'll mention standard Irish institutional cuisine instead).

(This of course changes nothing in the point that Anna was making -- if anything, the parallels are even closer: I just wanted to be precise.)

#78 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 12:39 PM:

May they be ashamed of themselves forever.

World without end, amen.

But I think Ajay's wrong, and I choose to stay and fight. I just got here, and if a big chunk of America seems to have abandoned the America I came here to join, well, that's no reason for me to do so as well. Not just yet.

(And Ajay, don't include Australia in your list of destinations. That's where I came from. You think the US is a racist society, go live in Aus for a while. It's also homophobic, wilfully ignorant and generally bass-ackward as far as culture goes, and moving rapidly to the right politically. There are some wonderful people living there, and I'd have stayed there and fought if I hadn't had extra reasons to come here (married a 'merican), but Aus is no improvement on the US in any way. And the US has the advantage that what happens here matters, no one really gives a rat's what Australia does or says.)

#79 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 01:03 PM:

When I first saw this story on Anna's blog before you guys ran it, I was very doubtful about its authenticity. Alas, it looks confirmed beyond doubt at this point. I still find it hard to believe that it was that easy to get a large group of unrelated individuals to behave in a unified fashion though. But I'm used to large crowds of sf fans ratther than 'normal' people. I'm going to go check on the OK internment story now and see if I think I still know anyone in OK who might confirm or disavow.


#80 ::: Alexis ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 01:13 PM:


It's all very well to talk about leaving, but aside from the ideological objections to it (and the fact that anywhere you go will have its own problems, e.g. NPD (neo-Nazi) election gains in some German states), you have to be able to get a visa, which is often a difficult thing to do. I recently did a student stint in Scotland (graduated too early for the Fresh Talent thing to apply) and would have had to find a job specialized enough that I wouldn't have been outcompeted by local jobseekers (since they will and I believe have to prefer locals where possible), or chosen to go on for a PhD, which would have involved getting a scholarship that's quite hard to obtain, and wasn't what I wanted anyway. Or married someone, but that wasn't really in the cards.

All things considered, I prefer to stay here and keep trying.

#81 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 01:16 PM:

It seems clear that this is going to be the federal (and in some places, state) response to climate disaster...and we are going to have more climate disasters.

Bad weather as an excuse for totalitarianism?

#82 ::: Bob ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 01:20 PM:

Louisiana wants 40,000 troops
FEMA defends response; Congress considers $10.5 billion bill

Thursday, September 1, 2005; Posted: 11:26 p.m. EDT (03:26 GMT)

Terri Jones, right, and others try to cool down fellow flood victim Dorothy Divic, 89, in New Orleans Thursday.
WATCH Browse/Search

How a 94-year-old survivor is not 'ill enough'

An update on the military response to the disaster (9:54)
Gallery: Storm damage

American Red Cross
E-mail us: Send us storm stories
Your e-mails
How would you describe the response to Katrina's destruction?
As good as could be expected
Too little, too slow
or View Results

Interactive: Safety Tips
Gallery: Top 10 worst hurricanes
Flash: How hurricanes form
Gallery: Saffir-Simpson scale

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Disaster Relief
or Create Your Own
Manage Alerts | What Is This? BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (CNN) -- Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said Thursday she has requested the mobilization of 40,000 National Guard troops to restore order and assist in relief efforts in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans

#83 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 01:20 PM:

I'm not sure I believe that Oklahoma story. I'm not saying that it can't be true, but it's coming out of some flaky places. Also, whenever the administration screws up really, really badly, Rove's favorite technique is to float a false story that's similar to the true one, and let them be discredited together.

If you look at the original site, it's pretty believable; the pictures are a coherent set, the author isn't a driveby but a member of the site who sticks around for discussion afterwards, she's not assuming that they are there to be gassed or anything -- there's a later part in the thread where they debate if the movement restrictions are meant to be just temporary for quarantine purposes, whether maybe these are actually displaced prisoners and thus the extra security and paranoia, etc.

There is at least one poster in the thread that's kind of paranoid UFOish, but the majority are carrying out a perfectly logical discussion based on direct evidence, so I see no reason to disbelieve.

#84 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 01:27 PM:

Okay. That Oklahoma report may have been on an iffy site, but I can confirm that the Baptists do have a camp called Falls Creek. I've never been there, but I knew people who did go. (We belonged to a Baptist church until I was about 15.) The pictures included with the article look genuine -- that's certainly how that part of the state looks. I did my undergraduate and graduate degrees both as OU which is south of OKC and I'm pretty familiar with the area. So there certainly was a very strong Highway Patrol presence at the camp.

As for the weird regulations. What it sounds like to me is bureaucracy in action. They've made one set of regulations about what will and won't be allowed based on the worst possible places, i.e., the Astrodome, and are applying them to ALL situations. And they're gawdawful fearful about liability.

The newspaper report which talked about the operation being put on hold is from the Pryor paper -- Pryor is a small town in northeastern Oklahoma probably about 4 hours drive from the camp area. Which seems odd. What seemed doubly odd is that the announcement of the hold was made by a major in the OK Highway Patrol. Why would they be using the HP for coordination rather than H&HS or somesuch? I'll do some more checking of other papers later, but I haven't eaten anything yet today and I should go do that soon.


#85 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 01:33 PM:

A friend who used to live in Jefferson Parish heard the "armed cops blocking the bridge" story days ago and told me that she wasn't surprised and had a good idea who might have ordered it. She's looking forward to hearing what Broussard, who she otherwise describes as very admirable, will have to say about it.

#86 ::: Pete ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 01:41 PM:

So, why doesn't this weaken anybody's faith in the whole concept of having this big, powerful state which does all these things for us?

Seriously, the story of the survivors in New Orleans could easily be a chapter from a novel by L. Neil Smith. One might conclude that we need better government, or one might conclude that we need a lot less. If nothing else, he'd love the bit about how government officials interfered with a market transaction by commandeering buses which had been hired by private parties for evacuation. Under other circumstances, socialists like that sort of state intervention.

I'm not trying to make a cheap shot here. Rather, it does seem that government officials at all levels -- local, state, and federal -- seem hostile to the whole notion of private relief efforts, spontanous self-organization, and even using the resources at one's disposal to make one's life better. In effect, they infantalize people, encouring them to stand in line, do what they're told, wait to be ground through the machinery. It's not a conspiracy; it's a mindset, a philosophy of governance. Mike Brown's comments about how everything has to be organized and coordinated is a part of this mindset.

One of my concerns about the long-term effect of this is that exactly the wrong conclusions will be drawn. Many will say we need more of the same, only better this time. So we'll end up with more rules, more regulations, more controls.

When, in fact, one lesson ought to be "first, do no harm." If anything, we need to harness the power of spontaneous mutual aid and citizen volunteers. How many more people could have been evacuated quickly if they'd asked for volunteers to drive to certain locations to pick up people, a sort of vehicular Dunkirk?

Two other smaller comments while I'm at it.

First, I think it's a mistake to go overboard with the whole Bushiltler thing. Bush screwed up, and he deserves to be criticized, condemned, even excoriated for it. It's inexcusable that the top three guys at FEMA are all political operatives or cronies. But if Bush fell on his sword tomorrow, the mindset I talked about above would still be presesnt. Recall that a lot of the screwups happened at the local and state level. And no, I don't think that the local cops were getting secret orders from FEMA to keep the blacks bottled up at the Superdome. FEMA's not that competent or organized.

Second, it sometimes is the case that decisions which seem stupid or unreasonable at some remove actually do make some sense. Not to give people an unreasonable benefit of the doubt, but the bit about not letting people walk out might be one of them. I think that I detect a certain amount of Eastocentric perspective in Teresa's comments. Of course it makes sense for people to walk across the bridge out of Manhattan -- Brooklyn is on the other side. It makes much less sense to have people wandering around on the roads in Louisiana, which is far more rural and less hospitable.

This is not to say that it was right for the cops to lie in order to get people to move from an inconvient location, or that everything they did made sense. But "just walk out" makes a lot more sense in Manhattan than New Orleans.

#87 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 02:01 PM:

Diana Rowland said:

I'm always amazed at how people are so eager to gobble up all of the awful stories. Somehow the amazing stories of courage and endurance and sacrifice get lost. Not all police officers are fascist pigs out to kill and destroy all of the lower-class citizens. Some of us down here are busting our asses to help our fellow man--even after suffering losses of our own. I know, that's not as fun to rant about.

I can't speak for other people on this blog, and maybe I shouldn't even try.

Having said that, I suspect that focussing on the things that went wrong is part of the grieving process. We wish that everybody involved - from Bush on down - had been courageous, self-sacrificing and eager to do the right thing. We wish that all of you who had to live through this had gotten more help, sooner. We wish very much that this would never happen again. Hurricanes are unavoidable - the real disaster here was caused by humans.

#88 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 02:14 PM:

I have just two words to say about the various government agencies harrassing survivors on foot, shooting over their heads, taking their food and water, and focusing more on what something "looks" like on TV than whether or not they actually served and protected the people they should be serving and protecting, just two words:

abso-fucking-lutely mother-fucking-criminal

These assholes should be publicly flogged, and if anyone has started a petition for said flogging, please direct me to it.

We now return to our regularly scheduled program.

#89 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 02:22 PM:

Diana: This is a mixed bag. It's about people who were making things better being prevented from doing so.

Would I like to be writing about the good things (such as they are, let us rather say the commendable actions) to come out of this.

Yes, and "Better to praise the good than rail against the ill" as Tennyson said, but when Cain asked God, "Am I my brother's keeper?" the answer was, "Yes."

Things like this need to be said, they need to be shouted from the rooftops, because to be quiet about them is to be complicit, and that is an evil thing; when good men do nothing.

So this, is something I can do (since I have not been called up to wait; or better yet help; though it might not go well for me if I saw something like this bridge scene). I don't know what I could do if I flew in, by myself, nor yet can I afford to drive. The imcompetence (and what seems to be worse, venal fear) of this thing is more important than those people who are doing good.

Those people, doing good, are saving people. Noble, laudable, to be praised. The others, they may be killing people, people they ought (one might say people they are paid, and perhaps swore an oath)to be protecting and to serving.

That seems more worth writing about than the warm fuzzies of a good human interest story.

#90 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 02:22 PM:

Pete asks:

So, why doesn't this weaken anybody's faith in the whole concept of having this big, powerful state which does all these things for us?

Because what we're seeing now is the direct consequence of an administration that decided not to do those things. As I've said before, libertarianism is 21st-century Luddism.

I refer you, as always, to John Barnes' wonderful essay Two Cheers for Ned Ludd, in the event that you think that's nothing but a put-down, because it's not.

#91 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 02:24 PM:

This is not to say that it was right for the cops to lie in order to get people to move from an inconvient location, or that everything they did made sense. But "just walk out" makes a lot more sense in Manhattan than New Orleans.

the impression I got was that it was a Mississippi river bridge and they wanted to walk over to get to a non-flooded area, from which they could get out more easily, not that they were proposing a long-distance march.

And if anyone in the parish does know who ordered it, pass the word so said @#$%^ can be punished appropriately.

#92 ::: Pete ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 02:35 PM:

Adamsj, I don't see any evidence that the administration ever "decided" not to do these things. Bush isn't a libertarian, and never pretended to be. It would be one thing if the administration had succeeded in devolving this function to the private sector -- then at least Wal-Mart could deliver trucks with water in them unimpeeded. Rather, the administration said it was going to do this job and proceeded to do it poorly.

As for the bit about libertarianism being the Luddism of the 20th century, it's not worth my time trying to convince you otherwise. Nor would I bother arguing with somebody who wants to give even one cheer for old Ned Ludd.

#93 ::: Nate ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 02:44 PM:

It would be difficult to point a finger at Aaron Broussard after seeing this.

#94 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 02:44 PM:


The guy who wrote the essay to which I refer is enough of a libertarian to be represented in the Free Space anthology--make of that what you will.

#95 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 02:54 PM:

sennoma: I sincerely hope that you find the USA better suited to be your permanent home than Australia. I can't disagree with your description of my country, perhaps because I lack the insight required to assess an entire nation in so few words.

I heartily agree that nobody cares what Australia thinks or does. Except for Australians, that is, but I feel certain, from your remarks, that you would feel aggrieved if you were to be called one. I hasten to assure you that I would never so insult you.

#96 ::: genibee ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 02:56 PM:

I'd say Scotland (we need the people), but I'm biased. Ireland.

If there could be a real possibility of moving to Scotland or Ireland, I'd like to know about it. But my career is in the arts (I work for a museum), and my husband, while handy with computers, isn't a programmer or a tech worker, and as far as I know, there's little chance of getting a job. If this isn't the case, please let me know.

I tend to be a milder personality, but the stories I'm hearing out of New Orleans are actually pushing me to the point of considering leaving. I never thought I'd be at that point.

#98 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 03:34 PM:


I was, perhaps, a bit short with you. Let me explain:

Like Luddism, libertarianism in its historical context was a reasonable, understandable response to encroachments of power and authority on the lives of ordinary citizens, for which responses we should be grateful. However, both Luddism and libertarianism are at heart reactionary (in a non-political, if perjorative, sense), and are not suitable guides for a well-functioning society.

That's my take--better writers than I are not be held accountable for my mangling of their views.

#99 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 03:56 PM:

By the way, is anyone taking notes on this? I don't mean "notes", like blogging about it on the web so that people can just read about it and get pissed. I mean take NOTES about it to see to it that certain mother fuckers actually do get flogged at some point? Goddamnit. I just wish that some news reporter had sense enough to embed himself with the group and follow them around and record all this shit. Police firing over their heads? A flogging, I tell you, an honest-to-god flogging. There are so many people that need to get fired right now, there isn't a list big enough to hold all the names.

#100 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 04:05 PM:

More info on the Oklahoma story. There is an article in the Norman Transcript which says Falls Creek has indeed been put on standby. It also says that 1400 people have been taken to Camp Gruber which is an Army National Guard base in northeastern OK. I'll see what I can find out about that.

A bit of expansion on what I said earlier about the whole liability thing. Even competent responsible adults have accidents and things like grease fires happen to the best of us. Imagine, if you will, a grease fire in the kitchen of one of the cabins getting out of control. The potential liability regards both property and human life is enormous. And you know how people in this country are about liability. That's what I think is driving a lot of the rather draconian regulations. The comments about riots and "the kind of people we'll be getting here" I put down to pure old-fashioned racism on the part of the guy speaking. I still have relatives living in OK who used the N word without shame or fear. It really is a different world than the one most of us live in.


#101 ::: Jed Hartman ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 04:07 PM:

I pretty much go along with Matt A's comments up at the top.

As for shinypenny's quote about the unruly locals: It seems to me that there's some room for middle ground here.

Maybe those particular police guarding that bridge had a racist belief that letting black people into their neighborhood would be bad and/or unsafe. Maybe some of the people in the crowd were also behaving in an unruly manner. Maybe the bridge was also potentially unsafe for pedestrians to cross. Maybe those particular police were scared and exhausted and had inadequate communications and had heard about rioting looters and felt they needed to be hard-line to protect themselves and their city. I don't think those various stories are mutually incompatible.

I wasn't there; I don't have good enough data to know what happened. But I suspect that "what happened" was not one solid monolithic story in which all members of each group behaved identically for identical reasons, and everyone agreed about what everyone did and why. I suspect that if you asked everyone who was there for their version of events, you'd get three to five major versions of What Happened, each with a dozen minor variations, depending on who you talked with, and I suspect that most of those versions would be more or less factually accurate. Think _Rashomon_.

Relatedly: maybe the cop at the station lied to the crowd (about the buses) to get them to leave; or maybe he had received false information; or maybe he had received rumors of buses and he exaggerated their reliability to get the crowd to leave; or maybe there was something else going on. My understanding is that there were very few conduits of information into or out of the city; in those circumstances, it all turns into one big game of Telephone. Rumors get distorted and exaggerated and turned into Facts. And of course the behavior of one police officer, or even all the officers at a particular station, doesn't imply that The Police all felt or behaved the same way.

Just to be clear: I am not doubting any of this very sad and distressing account. (And thank you, Teresa, for posting it.) I'm quite willing to believe that everything happened pretty much as Bradshaw and Slonsky said it did. But I'm also willing to believe that others who were there might have seen slightly different things, perceived the same things through different filters, put different interpretations on events, remembered things differently afterward.

I've been in plenty of situations where I compared notes afterward with others who were there and found that their perceptions of what had happened and why were very different from mine.

Of course, it's also possible that Scheer is just lying. I'm just saying that his version of events and Bradshaw & Slonsky's version are not entirely mutually exclusive.

Side note: Mary Kay wrote: "I still find it hard to believe that it was that easy to get a large group of unrelated individuals to behave in a unified fashion." Note that the group size changed a lot during the course of events. They started with 500 people; when they left the police station for the bridge they were down to about 200; that crowd grew as they went to the bridge, but then the crowd dispersed at the bridge, leaving a "small group" to settle on the freeway; that small group eventually grew to 80 or 90 people. So it sounds like the most cooperative behavior (on the freeway) happened in a group of a few dozen people, not the 500 they originally started out with. (But I don't mean to downplay that cooperative behavior; I'm very pleased and impressed that it happened regardless of group size.)

#102 ::: Charlie ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 04:35 PM:

My understanding (based on reporter interviews with their management) is that the Red Cross is at this point asserting that it was the Louisiana DHS who were stopping relief convoys from entering New Orleans, not FEMA.

That being said, the rest of this rings true, and is utterly unsuprising.

#103 ::: J. Alexander Harman ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 04:35 PM:

Jordin Kare wrote:
>What would it take to make these people believe the Federal government screwed up? Mass public executions on prime time TV?

It would depend on who was being executed; if it was the Gretna Sheriff's Department, it might restore a bit of my faith in the Feds....

BTW, I think my parents met you on a plane a couple of years ago; your name rings a bell, and when I googled it I was reminded of their account of talking with an astrophysicist and filker who happened to be acquainted with my favorite filk duo, Echo's Children. I also see that you were on the concom for ConJos, which I attended, so your name could be familiar from that context as well.

#104 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 04:37 PM:

Thanks, Rich & Anna. I've passed it along to some people who might be able to improve things a bit, if they choose to and if the feds are giving the state any real control at all.

#105 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 04:43 PM:

Okay, there are a couple of articles in the Muskogee (nearest large town to Gruber) paper about the Camp Gruber evacuees. The kids are being enrolled in schools around the area and some people even have their pets with them there.

The Tulsa World (larger city further away) doesn't tell me anything about Gruber, but did inform me that on this day in 1974 Ford pardoned Nixon for any crimes he may have committed while in office.


#106 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 04:44 PM:

Dave: you seem to have misread me somewhat (and on re-reading, mea culpa). You won't like me any better for it, but I'll try to explain myself anyway. I wasn't saying "Australia is horrible, rah rah the US". My point was that Australia is, in fact, a very similar environment to the US in many ways. Racism is a deep seated problem, homophobia is common (though there are notable exceptions -- parts of Sydney for instance), the education system is bad and getting worse, there's a strong current of anti-intellectualism/wilful ignorance in popular culture and the govt is steadily moving rightwards. A US citizen moving to Aus to escape the Bush junta, as Ajay suggested, would find him/herself in a dismayingly familiar environment.

I moved to the US for reasons that have nothing to do with my feelings toward either country; it was simply easier to move me to the US than my wife to Aus. If I'd stayed, I'd have been howling about Jackboot Johnny because I believed in an Australia that's better than him (and still do, kneejerk jingoism like yours notwithstanding). I'm here, so I howl about President Katrina because I believe in an America that's better than him.

I believe in people, and I believe that at bottom all people are made of basically the same stuff. So I don't care whether you call me an Australian or an American, and I don't much care if you get your nose out of joint because I wouldn't sing the praises of "your country" to a tune of your liking.

(I would like to retract "generally bass-ackwards" though. That was over the top. But I'll stand by the rest of it.)

#107 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 04:46 PM:

Moving is not easy in this wonderful globalized society where barriers and stuff like that have to be taken out for the sake of the Market. The system depends on not letting people move around freely across borders.

I tried moving to the States. It proved impossible. I have made enquiries about an American friend coming to live with me. It would have been almost as impossible for him to get a resident visa.

We may not think about it, but we are all basically in same category as Mexicans trying to cross the Sonoran desert when it comes down to it.

Besides, there aren't all that many savoury governaments around. My governament is still reluctantly providing health care, but as far as treating people well we are not doing terribly well, when those people are refugees, or protesters.

#108 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 04:55 PM:

Jed and Diana: I don't see these stories in terms of evil, in terms of personal evil. I think quite a lot of police and FEMA did save a lot of people. A lot of the horrors are results of confusion, lack of direction, desperation, lack of resources, and yes, underlying prejudice. And while underlying prejudice is bad, a lot of us are guilty of it - I know I am.

But the general picture that's emerging is one of terrifying breakdown of the compact of society. I don't think any individual is absolutely guilty of it - and I am perfectly willing to believe that the same guy who raped at night might also have been the one who directed and organized distribution of looted food and water.

I am not going to be able to forgive those who were charged, entrusted, and paid, and given vast, vast power to ensure that civilization worked, and wilfully and deliberatly made sure it wouldn't.

The problem here is not "the State". The problem is with those who swore an oath to protect the State and instead took it down.

Just as when poor Nicola Calipari was killed on the way to Baghdad airport, I was perfectly willing to forgive the poor confused boys on the ground who had been told to shoot first and ask questions later. I am not going to forgive their commanders and leaders, though.

Of course I can make these fine distinction because the worst physical or emotional discomfort I'm enduring at the moment is outrage-induced migraine.

#109 ::: orangemike ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 04:58 PM:

The cops threatening to shoot the "undesirables" were from the City of Gretna in Jefferson Parish. Jefferson is notoriously racially polarized (22% black), and has been forced into court to defend an election scheme apparently calculated to prevent the election of any black judges.

It voted heavily for Bush, of course: 117,692 Bush to 71,936 for Kerry.

#110 ::: J Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 05:02 PM:

"All kinds of government and law enforcement agencies were operating in the New Orleans area. How come not a single one of them told the Gretna police to stop blocking the bridge?"

Probably for humanitarian reasons.

Say you tell them they have to let the niggers walk over the bridge, and they back down.

Three miles on the other side of the bridge you aren't there, nobody's there but the police and the refugees.

It's a kindness to give them a warning not to go there.

#111 ::: pdf23ds ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 05:24 PM:

I looked into what it would take to move to Europe a while back. It appears that work visas are variously hard to obtain depending on your country of destination. For the Netherlands, you simply move there, with a valid passport, and apply for a residence permit on arrival. Upon finding an employer willing to hire you, you begin the process of getting a work permit. As noted, to be hired, you must be worth the extra trouble to the employer. They actually apply for your work permit on your behalf. And, by law, you must be more qualified than any other native applicant, (or that no native applicants would even do, depending on how you read it). I haven't gotten as far as what you do when permits start to expire, though. You don't actually have to move to the country before getting the job process going, but I imagine it'd be difficult otherwise.

Students have it quite a bit easier, though. While you can't work on a student permit, there's not nearly as much red tape to be gone through. And European universities, while they require much higher qualifications at the "freshman" undergraduate level than do American universities, (two years of school worth,) but are also much cheaper, being heavily subsidized by the country's government. Vrije University even has a program to catch up American students in those missing two years, and in the Dutch language. I'm not sure if a part-time work-study permit is easier to get or not than a full work permit, though I would imagine so.

The biggest obstacle for non-English countries might be language, though. While, in the Netherlands, over 90% of the residents speak good English, Dutch proficiency is still technically (and probably actually) required for undergraduate degree programs, though not for many graduate students, and is probably required for most good jobs. I have no idea what the demand is like for English-only jobs.

This is if I've understood everything correctly, which in all likelihood I haven't. You get conflicting information from many different sources, some of it out of date, some of it misinformed, some of it poorly worded or translated.

But, all in all, if you have ten thousand dollars and no dependants, or some *really* good job skills, you could probably pull it off. It's a lot of work, and you deal with a lot of bureaucracy and uncertainty.

#112 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 05:31 PM:

Dave Luckett: Thank you for that elegantly deployed sarcasm.I was settling for sadly and silently shaking my head over what I understood sennoma to be saying: "Don't give up on your country. I've just adopted it, and I'm renouncing mine!"

#113 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 05:47 PM:

Mary Kay: A bit of expansion on what I said earlier about the whole liability thing. (snippage) The potential liability regards both property and human life is enormous. And you know how people in this country are about liability. That's what I think is driving a lot of the rather draconian regulations.

Red Cross president Marti Evans threw out an old regulation that stipulated pregnant women past their seventh month were not to be admitted to RC shelters for liability reasons. The Good Samaritan proviso protects people who give emergency aid to others from being sued as a result of doing so. The mayor of Houston commandeered at least two public venues for evacuees, and said anyone who wanted to sue him for it could stand up in court and justify denying these people shelter. Plenty of people aren't so worried about liability that they treat human beings like animals, so I'm not giving anyone a free pass on that account.

#114 ::: Sumana ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 05:52 PM:

Josh Jasper: I always sang "When in the course of human events" to the tune of "Pop! Goes The Weasel" because that's how Pinky of Pinky And The Brain sang it. (The Brain installed Pinky as President and taught him basic American politics and history with musical mnemonics and hand-puppets.)

#115 ::: MJ ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 06:51 PM:

I have a suspicion of what happened in New Orleans now...
The Governor did her best to get a disaster declared. There was a decent evacuation for people with cars that followed.

The Mayor is facing, both sitting in the hurricane, and trying to get police and other to help. When the Levee breaks, there is precious time to coordinate the buses. Furthermore, I think in the wake of a lack of military or federal government assistance, perhaps locals in power found the opportunity to hurt people they've always hated. Could the klan, or just general bigots be in control of the New Orleans police? What about the two suicides and about 500 police leaving their post? What was going on here?

But why were both the police and FEMA turning back help and buses?

I know Bush was clueless, and so too were the people he appointed. But in the absence of leadership, I wonder if there wasn't some opportunistic ethnic cleansing going on.

#116 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 07:28 PM:

pdf23ds: Yes, if you have really good job skills, it's easy to move. Even with your dependants. If, like me, you are a freelancer, able to support yourself but with no possibility to find fixed employ, you cannot get a work visa. Period. Getting a student visa can be easier, but once it's expired, you are supposed to go back.

Language - yes, when you move to a foreign country, you have to learn the language. Immigrants in Italy pick it up real quickly.

A lot of people in this country went abroad, and either made a better life for themselves there or sent money back and eventually came back to a better life, a little house, a little business, and so on. Not any longer, not unless you are a researcher, or a broker.

Of course... there's a way to do it. It's risky, sometimes the risk is your life, and you are at the mercy of any employer that wants to exploit you, as well as the police. It's illegal immigration. Large chunks of our economies rely cheerfully on lots of people who work for real cheap, with no guarantees, no safety measures, and no question asked.

#117 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 07:32 PM:

"Don't give up on your country. I've just adopted it, and I'm renouncing mine!"/i>

My first comment was not very carefully crafted, but I don't think it was so bad that you can read it that way without calling your own comprehension skills into question. I doubt you even read my second comment, being in such a rush to express your admiration of Dave's limp jab.

One more time (three's a charm, right?): my position was and is that there's nothing wrong with either Australia or the US that can't be fixed by what's right with them, and that there are not so many differences between them that, if you didn't like it in one, you'd be appreciably happier with the other.

#118 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 08:06 PM:

While I appreciate y'all's invitations to move to your countries, I doubt many of them would take a middle-aged expensively-disabled woman.

#119 ::: dbr ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 08:50 PM:

I live in Baton Rouge. My wife has been working with and near the first responders who are going to New Orleans. They told her a very similar story. When they were rescuing people from New Orleans off of the interstates, the groups of people were very well self-organized, they were often turning down rescue themselves and pointing out groups worse off than themselves. They had usually triaged themselves, picking out the folks who most needed evacuation. The helped load the injured etc.

Also, from the perspective of a long time resident of Baton Rouge and Louisiana, I don't see a strong racial element in this. George Bush carried East Baton Rouge Parish and we also elected a Black Democratic Mayor (Who by the way seems to be one of the very few elected officials here who seemed to quickly grasp the big picture).
While New Orleans has gotten all the media attention, the largely white parishes South of New Orleans, particularly St Bernard Parish, had more destruction than New Orleans and are very angry that they have gotten almost no help still. Also, those of you who watched Meet the Press Sunday probably noticed that the president of white, conservative, Jefferson Parish didn't have many nice things to say about FEMA either.


#120 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 09:12 PM:

"So, why doesn't this weaken anybody's faith in the whole concept of having this big, powerful state which does all these things for us?"

Why doesn't the NYC response to the WTC bombings strengthen it? For that matter, why don't the genuine successes of Social Security and Medicare change your mind?

I generally hew to the idea that a sizeable government is a necessary structural element of a large-scale urban society, sort of like bones in a body. Continuing the metaphor, bones can become cancerous, but the solution to bone cancer is not to break every bone in a body.

#121 ::: clif williams ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 09:45 PM:

All this talk about rebuilding new orleans in the same place again tells me for sure why things didn't go right in the first place if that's the thinking of the officals responsible for evacuation procedures .Please! explain to me what are these people thinking? That would be like rebuilding under the same mud slide or falling rock zone or sink hole that is sure to happen again. What is in their blood lemming or what? You'd think once bitten twice shy. Considering the amount of time it would take to rebuild the city ,at least within a few years which all have hurricane seasons not to mention this one current now. I would imagine it would take quite sometime to build this supposedly 35ft wall to protect the city . And just about the time it is nearly finished category five again. Maybe all I heard was wishful thinking . Stubborn closed minded emotional ignorance is no excuse for risking the lives of people by making the same mistake all over again because of an egotism and so called pride of where one is from . There's more to life than Overindulgence of pleasure ,over eating and drinking and all out partying . There is something called common sense and not risking one's life for what seems a right . I hope after enough crying and emotional stress and posttraumatic syndrome we are all going through by seeing all the human agony and tradgedy that if they do rebuild new orleans at least do it out of that under sea level sink hole.It is sooo sad that the place has become a cesspool death trap . What else will it take for some people there to realize it's time to leave?

#122 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 10:04 PM:


I read similar remarks by Garrison Keillor over on Salon yesterday, and I thought less of him afterwards--but leaving cultural biases aside, there's going to have to be a port there. There isn't any real choice about that. That port is going to need people to run it--no choice about that, either. Those people will have to live nearby, and their dependents, and...

...pretty soon there'll be a city there. We can accept it, plan for it, and make it as storm-resistant as possible. Or we can deny it, not plan for it, and watch this happen again.

Speaking for myself, I don't care to see this sort of disaster, ever again.

Oh, wait--I'm not just speaking for myself.

#123 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 10:08 PM:

There's more to life than Overindulgence of pleasure ,over eating and drinking and all out partying .

Cats. There's cats.

#124 ::: lubkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 10:11 PM:

There's no shortage of blame to go around, and any assessment needs to include the mayor's culpability in not deploying his hundreds of school and municipal buses.

#125 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 10:55 PM:

Aconite: I never intended they should get a pass-- if those were indeed the rules they suck. However, there MIGHT be an explanation other than blatant racism. Maybe.


#126 ::: Steve ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 11:28 PM:


Nice try at regurgitating the Fox/Drudge/Rush talking points. It's not quite that simple. From Snopes:

"Whether this photograph truly represents a lost opportunity to have evacuated a substantial number of New Orleans residents ahead of Hurricane Katrina is difficult to assess. Such a claim presumes an availability of resources (e.g., experienced drivers, fuel) and workable logistics (e.g., sufficient means of notifying and getting residents to departure points, sufficiently clear roads for multiple trips out of town and back, adequate facilities within a reasonable driving distance capable of providing shelter, food, and water to a large number of people for an indeterminate period of time on short notice) that may or may not have been present. (There's no guarantee that all the buses shown in this picture were even in working condition.) And, given the particular geography of New Orleans, any such evacuation would have had to have begun well in advance of Hurricane Katrina to avoid exposing residents to the potential danger of being stuck in buses on traffic-clogged roads in the path of an approaching hurricane. Moreover, any type of evacuation effort would have incurred a substantial outlay of funds from local and/or state governments while everyone agrees with the advantage of hindsight that would have been money well spent, many taxpayers might not have been left feeling so enthusiastic about footing the bill for an unnecessary evacuation had Hurricane Katrina not proved so damaging."

#127 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 12:45 AM:

"You think the US is a racist society, go live in Aus for a while. It's also homophobic, wilfully ignorant ..., and moving rapidly to the right politically."

"my position was and is that there's nothing wrong with either Australia or the US that can't be fixed by what's right with them, and that there are not so many differences between them that, if you didn't like it in one, you'd be appreciably happier with the other."

Well, I'm glad that we cleared up that point. Kneejerk jingoism would hold that there was no difference between the two positions at all. I wonder why it seems to me that there is?

#128 ::: Mike Linksvayer ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 01:09 AM:

Anna Feruglio Dal Dan wrote:

Moving is not easy in this wonderful globalized society where barriers and stuff like that have to be taken out for the sake of the Market. The system depends on not letting people move around freely across borders.

How do you figure the market system depends on not letting people move? If people were free to move across borders would you expect the market system to crumble? Why?

#129 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 01:18 AM:

Because it would mean that a whole bunch of people who are paid a pittance in Rumania to make cheap bras would move to the UK to make them there for a helluva lot of more money. End of cheap labor. Collapse of affluent societies under the strain of immigration. Nobody left to buy the bras.

#130 ::: Jonahan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 02:14 AM:

Sennoma: You're right. I hadn't read your second comment, which glossed your first and withdrew the single most derogatory term. (Not that I was rushing to Applaud Dave L, though: I already spend far too much time reading these pages, I was running late for work, and I was ashamed of my initial impulse to pass by your first comment in silence, so I skipped to the end and wrote a brief comment.) I do think, however, that words like bass-ackward imply something akin to renunciation. And, really, you know, it's not jingosim to take offence when someone says that "no one gives a rat's about" one, another sweet turn of phrase of which I defend my interpretation.

But all this is trivial in the current context. If you want to sling insults around, make free.

#131 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 02:37 AM:

Mike, there is free movement of capital, but not of labor. Somehow I doubt that this is good for wages.

#132 ::: J. Alexander Harman ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 02:41 AM:

So, why doesn't this weaken anybody's faith in the whole concept of having this big, powerful state which does all these things for us? (...) Rather, it does seem that government officials at all levels -- local, state, and federal -- seem hostile to the whole notion of private relief efforts, spontanous self-organization, and even using the resources at one's disposal to make one's life better. In effect, they infantalize people, encouring them to stand in line, do what they're told, wait to be ground through the machinery. It's not a conspiracy; it's a mindset, a philosophy of governance. Mike Brown's comments about how everything has to be organized and coordinated is a part of this mindset.

But that wasn't the case when FEMA was run by James Lee Witt; back then they did a fine job of coordinating with state and local governments, as well as private organizations and individual volunteers. It's only now that the government is in the hands of people who don't believe that government can or should help people that it's not only failing miserably to do so, but also preventing anyone else from doing so. In view of all the stories about FEMA actively obstructing relief efforts by both private citizens and other organs of government, I'm beginning to wonder whether Mike Brown's true agenda in this crisis isn't to turn Reagan's Big Lie, "Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem," into reality.

#133 ::: MLN FLDS ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 09:38 AM:

Spcl Rprt

Gt ff Hs Bck
By Bn Stn Pblshd 9/2/2005 11:59:59 PM
fw trths, fr ths wh hv rs nd ys nd cr t knw th trth:

1.) Th hrrcn tht ht Nw rlns nd Msssspp nd lbm ws n stnshng trgdy. Th sffrng nd lss f lf nd pc f mnd f th rsdnts f ths rs s ctly hrrfyng.

2.) Grg Bsh dd nt cs th hrrcn. Hrrcns hv bn hppnng fr ns. Grg Bsh dd nt crt thm r nlsh ths n.

3.) Grg Bsh dd nt mk ths n wrs thn thrs. Thr hv bn fr wrs hrrcns thn ths bfr Grg Bsh ws brn.

4.) Thr s n vrwhlmng vdnc tht glbl wrmng xsts s mn-md phnmnn. Thr s n clr-ct vdnc tht glbl wrmng vn xsts. Thr s n clr vdnc tht f t ds xst t mks hrrcns mr pwrfl r mks thm m t cts wth lrg nmbrs f pr ppl. f glbl wrmng s rl phnmnn, whch t my wll b, t strtd lng bfr Grg Bsh ws ngrtd, nd wld nt hv bn ffctd t ll by th Kyt trty, cnsdrng tht Kyt ds nt cvr th wrld's wrst plltrs -- Chn, nd, nd Brzl. n wrd, Grg Bsh hd zr t d wth csng ths hrrcn. T spclt thrws s blf n srcry.

5.) Grg Bsh hd nthng t d wth th hrrcn cntngncy plns fr Nw rlns. Ths r drwn p by Nw rlns nd Lsn. n ny vnt, th plns wr prfctly gd: mndtry vctn. t s n n wy t ll Grg Bsh's flt tht bt 20 prcnt f Nw rlns nglctd t fllw th pln. t s nt hs flt tht mny prsns n Nw rlns wr t cnfsd t rlz hw dngrs th hrrcn wld b. Thy wr crtnly wrnd. t's nt Grg Bsh's flt tht thr wr sck ppl nd ld ppl nd ppl wtht crs n Nw rlns. Hs jb dscrptn ds nt ncld mkng sr vry dlt n mrc hs cr, s n gd hlth, hs gd sns, nd s mbl.

6.) Grg Bsh dd nt cs gngstrs t sht t rsc hlcptrs tkng ppl frm rftps, dd nt mk gng bngrs rp yng grls n th Sprdm, dd nt mk ltrs stl hndrds f wpns, n shrt mk Nw rlns nt lvng hll.

7.) Grg Bsh s th lst rcst Prsdnt n mnd nd sl thr hs vr bn nd ths s shwn n hs ppntmnts vr nd vr. T sy thrws s scndlsly ntr.

8.) Grg Bsh s rshng vry bt f hlp h cn t Nw rlns nd Msssspp nd lbm s sn s h cn. H s nt mgcn. t tks tm t rgnz hg cnvys f fd nd nw thy r strtng t rrv. Tht thy gt n t ll cnsdrng th lwlssnss f th cty s mrcl f brvry nd rgnztn.

9.) Thr s nt th slghtst vdnc t ll tht th wr n rq hs dmnshd th rspns f th gvrnmnt t th mrgncy. T sy thrws s pr slndr.

10.) f th nrgy th nws md pts nt blmng Bsh fr n ct f Gd wrsnd by stpnds ncmptnc by th Nw rlns cty thrts nd th mlvlnc f th crmnls f th cty wr drctd t hlpng th mrl f th ntn, w wld ll b lt bttr ff.

11.) Nw rlns s grt cty wth mny grt ppl. t wll rcvr nd b grtr thn vr. Stckng pns nt n ffgy f Grg Bsh tht ds nt rsmbl hm n th slghtst wll nt spd th prcss by n dy.

12.) Th ntr psd s drmtc lssn n th brthtkng cllsnss f gvrnmnt ffcls t th grnd lvl. mgn f Hllry Clntn hd gttn hr wy nd thy wr n chrg f yr hlth cr.

Gd blss ll f ths dr ppl wh r sffrng s mch, nd Gd blss ths hlpng thm, strtng wth Grg Bsh.

Bn Stn s wrtr, ctr, cnmst, nd lwyr lvng n Bvrly Hlls nd Mlb. H ls wrts "Bn Stn's Dry" n vry ss f Th mrcn Spcttr.


#134 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 10:01 AM:

I was wondering how long before someone did a drive-by Ben Stein here.

#135 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 10:13 AM:

That worthless POC up there is undoubtedly copyrighted. I say you should take it the hell off the site to show your respect for the rule of law.

Oh, wait--you can't copyright a human being. But still.

#136 ::: brndn ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 12:00 PM:

Fck rlly ht fckng cps, nd nw rlns, t ws nd s vl plc gd pssd jdgmnt n y nd y hd t py th bll, b thnkfl yr lv, nd th wht mn s vl mst f th tm,

#137 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 12:04 PM:

Shorter Ben Stein: "All is well! All is well!"

#138 ::: Lee P ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 12:40 PM:

It was the Louisiana Dept. of Homeland Security and local N.O. officials who kept the Red Cross out of New Orleans - not FEMA. FEMA has done enough idiotic things throughout this disaster without pinning things on them that they weren't responsible for.

#139 ::: Ken McCarthy ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 01:09 PM:

Actually, not all New Yorkers walked home on 9-11.

And just as the mass rescue story of civilians by civilians was censored in New Orleans, it was also censored on 9-11.

Over 500,000 people were evacuated from Manhattan in less than 12 hours without a lick of help from FEMA, the National Guard, etc. by boat.


#140 ::: Ben ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 03:19 PM:

I think it's horribly ironic that in the face of overwhelming evidence that the government (that is the individuals the government must send) cannot and will not help you in your time of need, that many are advocating replacing the governors as the solution, while at the same time ridiculing those who strive for self-sufficiency. Someday you will learn the true moral of this story doesn't make a difference who is in charge, bureaucracy can't help you more than you can help yourself. No government is in place or equipped to help you. Either stand up for individual rights, or meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

#141 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 03:30 PM:

bureaucracy can't help you more than you can help yourself

Damn right. No government could, you know, build an interstate highway system better than you, personally, could. No government could fund the research for things like, I dunno, the internet better than inventors in their garage. No government could inspect food, or set efficiency standards, or define the basis of contract law, or investigate crimes, or run air traffic control better than an individual.

Are you completely blind? Government works except when it is actively prevented from doing so by malice or utter incompetance.. This has been proven over and over again in case after case for centuries.

Don't like it? Move to Somalia, that utopia of self-reliance.

#142 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 03:34 PM:

There is some thought that flood control was what lead to governments. Look where all the very early civilizations were: Mesopotamia (read 'Iraq'), the Indus Valley, China, Egypt. They had to clean up after floods and re-build everything, so they invented government to co-ordinate the projects and make sure no one got cheated in the rebuilding effort.

#143 ::: Trey ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 03:43 PM:

People are dissing Ray Nagin but he sounds just as frustrated as anyone else...

#144 ::: Ben ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 03:57 PM:

Well, Alex, we're talking about natural disasters, not providing public goods during the staus quo, right? Anyone can look like a hero when it's all sunshine and roses, yet toll roads still get built faster than interstates. Maybe there's a lesson there.

And BTW, I'm sure the citizens of NO were no better off on Thursday, than the residents of Somalia would have been had the hurricane been there. I take that back. They were probably worse off because they were so ill prepared and trained to depend on the kindness of their (usually) benevolent government caregivers.

The "government" wasn't hindered by the incompetence of anyone other than the humans who make up said government. Since government will always be made up of incompetents (be them dem or repub) the result will always be the same.

#145 ::: Aconite spots a trollish post ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 04:04 PM:

"brandon," about eight messages above.

#146 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 04:17 PM:

So, Ben, do Troll Bridges get built faster than free ones?

#147 ::: sherri ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 04:41 PM:

Who cares what their political beliefs are they are human beings who tried to help other human beings. This tragedy was made worse by bungling, inefectual government, maybe the U.S. was not prepared for this tragedy but it should have been.

#148 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 04:50 PM:

Well, Alex, we're talking about natural disasters

Right. A natural disaster predicted and analyzed by government studies. A hurricane observed by satellites designed, launched, and operated by government research. A hurricane analyzed by government meteorologists using government equipment. In a libertarian utopia, none of those things would have happened. (Unless Somalia has launched some weather satellites of which I'm unaware. I suppose it's possible.)

There's no question that this government failed the people of New Orleans now. But that's no argument that all governments always fail the people, as much as you'd like it to be. Because your point seems to be that governments can not help but fail, and that's demonstrably false.

Since government will always be made up of incompetents...

a) This is demonstrably false and logically untenable.
b) To the extent to which there are more incompetents in government than in private organizations, this problem is exacerbated by your anti-government hate speech.
c) Speaking as a former government employee and current elected official, fuck you.

#149 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 05:09 PM:

As someone who has worked at the peon level of local government, I second Alex's paragraph (c). Government can, if/when it has the time, go out of its way to help people even with minor problems, even those who are capable of handling said minor problems on their own. (I remember the guy who called the landfill late in the afternoon and wanted a truck to come pick up the meat which had been his freezer when it stopped freezing. It wasn't our responsibility, but we did it anyway. We had stupid politicians to deal with, too.)

#150 ::: Ben ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 06:33 PM:

Right. A natural disaster predicted and analyzed by government studies....

There's no question that this government failed the people of New Orleans now.

Holy contradictions Batman! So, the gov't did it's job (in your opinion) by predicting this disaster, and didn't do it's job by not dragging those who didn't want to leave out by their hair? Oh, but you'll say that those who stayed were the poor neglected underbelly of society, but that just ins't true. Those who stayed were either folks like the ones in this story who thought they could get out even if they stayed just a little bit longer, or those who were too stubborn to leave at all. If they really wanted to get out that badly, why weren't they at the Superdome demanding evacuation before the flooding?

But that's no argument that all governments always fail the people, as much as you'd like it to be. Because your point seems to be that governments can not help but fail, and that's demonstrably false.

But they do always fail individuals. No matter how many people Naglin could have saved in theory, he could never have saved all of them, and in reality, he saved none of them.

I'm sorry your perception that there is more talent being spent on profit in the private sector, than on communilism in the public sector bother you so deeply, but if it's true, then it certainly says something about what motivates human effort.

FWIW, In a "libertarian utopia" there would be a government that would provide for genuine public goods like levees (although I doubt you'd find many people who really believe in self-sufficiency living on the coast 30' below sea level). Precisely which services would qualify is open to debate, and depends on which libertarian you ask. I'm not sure how I feel about weather satellites, since I haven't given it much thought up to this point. However, it does bear pointing out that there are indeed commercial weather satellites, and much of the weather data processing is done commercially. Who do you think more people heard Katrina predictions from; ABC, CBS, and NBC or the NOAA? I don't think if the NOAA went away as a source of raw data we'd stop seeing weather reports on the ten o'clock news.

If you want to put all of your eggs in government's basket, then by all means that's your right. Judging by all of human history, I don't think that's a good bet in the long run, but it's your life. I'll hang on to my eggs, thank you, and when bureaucractic incompetance scrambles yours again I'll happily remind you that if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten.


#151 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 06:41 PM:

Ben: It's really nice that you have a reliable car with a gas tank that's always full and a wallet full of high-limit credit cards. Has it even crossed your mind, for one instant, that it takes money to have those things? That many people can't afford more than bus fare to travel anywhere? That if you're old, you may not have people who can take you out with them? That people in wheelchairs can't use cars really easily?

Welcome to the Real World, Ben.

#152 ::: cab ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 06:49 PM:

I'm not really questioning the validity of this story, I am very curious about the terms, "convention", "paramedics"...Why wasn't these people put to some use in places that could have used them the most? Why were true medical personel so intent on leaving and not helping. The story didn't say that they actually told anyone who they were or, that they could have been of assistance. Or did I miss that?

#153 ::: Alan ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 07:00 PM:

I'm going to have to go with Stein a little bit on this one. It sounds to me that the locals are a real problem down there. Not just the looters and all but the cops as well. I lived in the south for a little while and I'm not at all surprised that a local mayor would put cops there on the bridge and I'm also not surprised the cops would follow those orders. And although I think the federal government could have done a lot better I don't think people realize how this works in our country.. The federal really does defer to the local government for the most part.. if that town over there doesn't want refugees, guess what? That goes a fair way to explaining the slow federal response. Until given the ok the federal can't move in and then there's a ramp up time.

A lot of the reason for this has to do with their response after the federal steps in. So they bus out a few thousand people to a local town.. then that local town collapses under the weight of all those people who need so much. There's a reason for coordination here... there's a reason not everyone can just go where they want en masse. It's a little different than New York becasue the local areas aren't as capable as the areas near New York to take a large in flux of people.

Never mind the fact that the cops are terrified, there's been people shooting at cops.. there were resignations of cops too afraid to continue.. even a suicide of a cop. So they see a large group of people coming at them with the normal rules of society not backing them up.. they don't want to shoot a bunch of people.. so they try to break them up and scare them off before someone in their ranks panics.

Also I don't think a crying mayor makes him any less culpable. Nor do changes in funding PLANS. The funding for the levees was still double that of 1995.. This is not a stripping of a cities defenses. This is the result of a very corrupt, highly class based area of the US, with a large uneducated and poor population. So when people say the same thing wouldn't happen in Nantucket or Seattle, that's true, but not because the federal government would behave that much differently, but the locals and the local governments would...

All in all I'm not saying there isn't blame to be thrown around.. there is.. lots.. but I just want to remind people that everyone in this is human and you have to see it from their point of view before you start calling them names.

#154 ::: cab ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 07:30 PM:

Alan said: "So they bus out a few thousand people to a local town.. then that local town collapses under the weight of all those people who need so much."

That's what the few people who were lucky enough to "half" fill the life boats thought when the Titantic went down.
Give me a break......I am from the south, and I can tell you law enforcement doesn't come anymore corrupt. I'm cynical,distrustful and pretty much a bitch, but I can tell you this...if people(don't care what color or how their bank statement reads)are panicking for their lives, I would do everything in my power to help them. Be damned the law enforcement.
I intensely like this statement:

It takes very little to turn people into part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. You practically have to work at it to get them to do anything else. But if you make them feel like theyve been abandoned and are on their own, theyll do whatever they can to ensure that they and their loved ones survive. Youd do the same.

#155 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 07:46 PM:

There was, in fact, an EMS convention in New Orleans that weekend. EMTs and Paramedics from all over. Many of them couldn't get out. So they were in town.

Now -- an EMT without so much as a bandaid in his pocket can't do much. Probably didn't get to bring a pair of shears and an amp of epinephrine on the airplane (and who carries their full kit to a convention anyway?). This leaves aside the question of their legal status, outside the state in which they're licensed. At most they're bystanders who know a heck of a lot of first aid.

Then -- who do they report to? Who was in command where they could walk up and say, "I'm a medically-trained individual. Put me to work."

Say they patch someone up, using materials at hand -- who do they deliver that person to for further care?

All a medic does is this: Given the resources of a fully-stocked ambulance, keep one person alive for one hour or until he can get to a hospital, whichever comes first.

#156 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 07:50 PM:

While we're at it, Ben Stein's paragraph on global warming is full of outright lies. Global warming -- the fact that average global mean temperature is increasing -- is a recorded fact. The link between CO2 and increased temperature is basic chemistry and has been known for more than a century. Increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations are undisputed by anyone. That CO2 is definitely known to come from human combustion of fossil fuels.

Warmer oceanic surface temperatures increase the strength of tropical storms.

The United States is the largest emitter of carbon dioxide, and produces more than twice number two China. India is number 5, and Brazil is number 18. Why does Ben Stein hate Brazil?

#157 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 08:03 PM:

Holy contradictions Batman! So, the gov't did it's job (in your opinion) by predicting this disaster, and didn't do it's job by not dragging those who didn't want to leave out by their hair?

Its = possessive.
It's = contraction of "it is."

The government (more specifically, the National Weather Service) did its job in predicting and monitoring the storm. FEMA failed in its job in RUSHING EMERGENCY SUPPLIES, and in fact ACTIVELY PREVENTED EMERGECNY SUPPLIES FROM REACHING VICTIMS.

I'm not sure how I feel about weather satellites, since I haven't given it much thought up to this point.

Must... stop... ad hominem... attack...

However, it does bear pointing out that there are indeed commercial weather satellites

There are?

and much of the weather data processing is done commercially.

It is? Actually, NWS does a vast amount of weather prediction and analysis, especially the stuff offcoast which doesn't have an obvious local commercial agency (like TV stations) interested.

Who do you think more people heard Katrina predictions from; ABC, CBS, and NBC or the NOAA?

Irrelevant. Those networks are repeating data produced by NWS.

I don't think if the NOAA went away as a source of raw data we'd stop seeing weather reports on the ten o'clock news.

Weather reports, no, although they'd be of much lower quality and produced at higher aggregate cost to industry. But hurricane reports would be reduced to hours notice.

But this is all incidental to your central fallacy. You keep claiming that government is unable to successfully function at anything, and that's demonstrably false.

And seriously, you haven't explained why you haven't moved to Somalia, since it embodies your ideal government. Oh, wait, I know why.

#158 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 08:04 PM: has a good rundown on the connection between global warming and hurricaines.

While we *are* in the upswing on a periodic cycle of storm activity, we are *also* increasing ocean temperatures. The two are not mutually exclusive. The latter, man-made warming can make the cyclic increase much worse.

Ben Stein isn't in the business of facts, he's in the business of beliefs.

#159 ::: cab ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 08:33 PM:

I think the part of the story when the EMT's asked about the superdome, I think thats the part where I would have said," Hey, were a bunch of EMT's here and I'm sure we could help some people in there if you will allow us to enter".I'm sure the workers were taken better care of inside than the people were, ultimately. They just had to work real hard, oh fucking well. I know all of this is getting way off the point, but having trained for an EMT in the state of Georgia, I know that they are more than just ambulance stockers. In remote parts (like some parts of the south) EMT's are pretty much "doctors on wheels". That's not even mentioning the "I'm a humane person and I want to help because I have a little knowledge" factor. Thats not even mentioning that the medical staff that WERE in place at these places would have kissed their asses for any help they could give. And does legalities even come to anyone's mind in a situation like this?
But oh well, with the "redneck" squad manning the entrance, it still would have been debatable.

#160 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 08:40 PM:

A question of usage:

When someone says "government is made up of incompetents", is it reasonable to construe that as meaning teachers, police officers, garbage collectors, and such folk?

#161 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 08:47 PM:

When someone says "government is made up of incompetents", is it reasonable to construe that as meaning teachers, police officers, garbage collectors, and such folk?

Yes, and especially firefighters, because as Ben helpfully points out, governments are of no help in emergencies.

This is a true story. In 1996, I was campaigning for Harvey Gantt, the Democrat running against Jesse Helms. On election day, I was at a polling place handing out literature. Standing next to me was Ray Ubinger, the Libertarian party candidate for Senate running against Helms. We talked fairly amicably.

Someone walked by with an unleashed dog, and Ray said, "I got bit by a dog once, and since then I've been in favor of leash laws." And that, my friends, encapsulates my entire opinion of liberterianism.

#162 ::: cab ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 08:48 PM:

Nah Adams...add a few more zero's to the end of your income and turn your blue collar white, about that time you start becoming an asshole.

#163 ::: Ben ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 10:12 PM:

And seriously, you haven't explained why you haven't moved to Somalia, since it embodies your ideal government. Oh, wait, I know why.

I did, but I guess I didn't spell it out clearly enough for you: libertarian != anarchist.

Nobody likes to get bitten by dogs, but I guess we wouldn't need leash laws, as long as we had an efficient system to hold dog owners fully responsible for the damage their pets cause. Of course, that requires a functional civil court system (something they probably don't have in Somalia) and ignores the problems of high transaction costs and the tragedy of the commons. Perhaps your Libertarian friend had given the issue more thought than he could condense into a convinient soundbite. Maybe he would have even explained his position to you if you had asked for clarification. I guess you'll never know, but does it matter? I mean, your mind was made up about Libertarians before that, right?

It's amazing what you can learn on this Internet thingy if you don't spend all your time in one place, hanging out with people who already agree with you.

And, your bonus link for the day:

#164 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 10:49 PM:

And, your bonus link for the day:

Oh, wonderful, recycling Steve Milloy, about whose book The Skeptical Inquirer said:

'The real problem is that Milloy, as judged from his writing, simply doesn't understand statistical techniques well enough to be able to write cogent criticisms of the poor statistical techniques used to support various health scares." and "The numerous serious flaws in the logic and coverage of this book render it essentially useless as a guide to the detection of junk science."

See: Correcting myths from Steven Milloy.

Milloy is quite literally a former PR flack for Philip Morris. He is funded by tobacco companies and oil and gas companies. (See SourceWatch). Can you seriously say with a straight face that you'd believe his obviously phony astroturf PR bullshit over the near unanimous opinion of actual practicing climate scientists? If so, you and I have no common reality in which to have a discussion.

#165 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 11:11 PM:


You seem to be confusing closing the barn door with keeping the horses inside.

An "efficient system to hold dog owners fully responsible for the damage their pets cause" would mean less than nothing to me once a dog had mauled my daughter.

Come to think of it, we do have such an efficient system. It's called government.

Oh, wait.

(By the way, Ben, I'm curious whether you meant to include "teachers, police officers, garbage collectors, and such folk" in your claim that "government is made up of incompetents".)

#166 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 11:13 PM:

Sorry--I meant to say:

"It's called a leash law."


"It's called government."

#167 ::: Phl Brm ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 03:46 AM:

Jhn M. Frd,
Y cld, cld mn. Hw dr y pply cmmn nrms t sttn s xtrm? Yr sttmnt spks twrds ths wh slfshly rly n th gvngs f scty, bt y fl t s th vrrdng rlty. Whr ls cld ths rfgs trn? Thy wr, nd sm r stll, n th pts f hll. Yt y wsh tht thy trn th prvrbl lmns nt lmnd. Crs y! Thy wr n sttn tht rdcd thm frm tnms bngs t lf-skrs n th mst ltrl f sns. wld tk th hvst f bts tht ll f th hrdshps tht y hv ndrd wgh lttl n cmprsn t vn th bst ff f ths rfgs. m nt rlgs mn, bt knw rght frm wrng. Yr sttmnt pns m. cnnt flly ndrstnd th pn f ths strm vctms, bt yr wrds hv brght m clsr t tht pn thn ny tlvsn clp 'v sn ths fr. Bt fr fr y lss thn d fr ths wh hv lst vrthng s rslt frm ths strm. cnnt wsh grtr pn n y, thgh d hp tht y rch grtr ndrstndng r ths sttn.

#168 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 04:18 AM:

Phil Byrum: I think you have not fully comprehended the gravity of John M. Ford's statement -- that bit at the end about "before long he won't complain at all", well, that's because 'he' is dead.

So you would seem to have two choices: ramp up your outrage still further; or else learn to recognize bitter irony when you see it. (Hard and cold? Yeah, that's the point.)

#169 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 05:45 AM:

I know the original story has been confirmed multiple times by now, but here's an Irish radio show from September 5th which has a tourist couple who were there talking about it: Today with Pat Kenny - RTE 1

The interview is from 1:09:39 to 1:30:20. Because of the way they do the archiving, it's only available until next Monday.

It's not a show I usually listen to (can't stand the presenter), but they replayed parts of the interview on a "highlights of the week" show just there, and thought it might be good to share.

#170 ::: Ben ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 12:05 PM:


If you reread my post and the one I was replying to, it may become clear that my intention was to counter Mr. Cohen's clear implication that a Libertarian who favors leash laws is a hypocrite. Libertarians are not against governments or all laws, they just have a different perspective on them. Cohen seems to have confused libertarians with anarchists. The types of laws that libertarians support are those addressing public goods and protections of individual liberties. I agree that a monetary settlement may be insufficient compensation after your daughter was mauled, hence the problems (certainly not the only ones) I cite with NOT having leash laws.

To answer your question, I am absolutely certain that there are incompetent "teachers, police officers, garbage collectors, and such folk." Just as their are incompetent CEOs, doctors, and lawyers. The difference is, that I get to chose which companies I do business with, which doctors I see, and who's legal advice I take. You have no choice which public school teacher teaches your children, nor do you control who is sent to collect your garbage or extinguish your house. The incompetents in the private sector are only dangerous to those who choose to patronize them. The incompetents in the public sector are a danger to us all.

I never said that government is made up exclusively of incompetents. But of course, the more people you have in the government, the more incompetent people you will have in government. This is of little harm to those individuals who are, on average, less competent themselves, and of great harm to those who are very more competent.

The authors of the original story are clearly in the latter category, they are competent to care for themselves, and were only hindered by the incompetence of those sent to "help". Others that we've heard about clearly would have been worse off left to their own devices. But believing that the overall result would have been different had the governors been from a different political philosophy or party is nothing short of lunacy.

#171 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 12:22 PM:

Libertarians are anarchists until the anarchy bites them: for example, zoning laws are bad until the guy next door decides to keep pigs, or run a business out of his house. Then they turn into Republicans. The people who follow LaRouche are no better. Most of these people seem to have turned off some of their higher brain functions. (The train station I use gets an infestation of LaRouchadas every so often. One time they were pushing the collapse of industrial society. I'm not sure what part of it horrified me most: the thought that (a) they have no clue what that means, (b) that they do but don't care, or (c) that they do and that's the result they want.)

Most laws are designed to protect people from those who don't care about anyone but themselves. That's one of the reasons why we have government. Right now, we have a government run, unfortunately, be people who seem to be in the second category, and we are paying for it.

Ben, which group would you rather be in: the one which is protected by laws or the one that thinks laws don't apply to it because it's wealthy/white/conservative/poor/black/libertarian/fiil-in-here?

#172 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 12:48 PM:

Ben: that functioning civil court system you want: It's a gov't function.

Those toll roads being built so fast, they are being built with gov't connivance (and in one case in Calif. using the law to prevent the Gov't from reducing congestion because it would damage their business model, in other words they are using the gov't to stifle a freer market).

The Gov't (in the form of Hurricane Pam exercises) predicted a disaster. Good on 'em.

The Gov't, in the form of the city of New Orleans, and the State of Louisiana, failed them in not taking any steps to ameliorate what they could and petition the Feds for help with what they couldn't.

They were prepping to send DVD's (because we know everyone has a DVD player now, and the TV to play it on) telling people that there was NO plan to help people leave the city, if they couldn't get out on their own, they were well and truly fucked.

Then the Feds are a days late and dollars short to the party. What do they do, as New Orleans drowns? They say those who didn't leave (see above about how they were told they were not going to be helped if they needed it) were responsible for not getting out.

So, to make the moral clear, according to the guys running the Federal Emergency Management Agency, if one is poor, it's one's own fault when a storm 400 miles wide floods your city and you couldn't get out in time.

And if you try to walk out, after the Governor, and the Feds, tell you staying isn't an option, the cops in the next town will force you, with gunfire, to stay in that hellhole, and you will them be blamed some more for refusing to leave when you were told.

Yeah, I'd say there was a lot of blame to go around. I'd also say a working Gov't (as opposed to the Norqvistians in power now) would have gone a long way to stopping the shit we are seeing now.

#173 ::: Ben ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 02:59 PM:

Ben: that functioning civil court system you want: It's a gov't function.

Duh. Did you actually read what I wrote? I guess not.

I apologize for interupting your mutual intellectual masturbation. I'll now return you to your regularly scheduled Bush bash-a-thon.

#174 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 03:41 PM:


When you say

I never said that government is made up exclusively of incompetents. But of course, the more people you have in the government, the more incompetent people you will have in government.

did it occur to you that this is an equivalently true statement?

I never said that government is made up exclusively of competents. But of course, the more people you have in the government, the more competent people you will have in government.

Pure reason can only take you so far. You're making a quantitative argument (or trying to). If you don't have numbers, data, hard facts beyond ancedote--well, like Richard Feynman said:

If you don't know where the 4 pis goes, you don't know anything

(That's the version our teacher gave us in elementary particles--the version I find easily on the 'net is "If you cannot compute anything, then you know nothing."

(And here's a bonus link: Feynman was a stranger to pomposity, and there's some splendid stuff here. Perhaps the most striking thing is his rare appreciation of the deep connections linking science and democracy, connections that he saw as arising from a common rootedness in doubt. "Scientists . . . are used to dealing with doubt and uncertainty," he says, an experience the value of which "extends beyond the sciences. I believe that to solve any problem that has never been solved before, you have to leave the door to the unknown ajar. You have to permit the possibility that you do not have it exactly right." Words for us all, Ben, not just you. But for you in particular.)

#175 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 05:55 PM:
Aerial Photography Flights Yield Thousands of Images

The eyewall pictures are - impressive. Especially when you consider these people are flying in a P-3 Orion (the civilian version was the Lockheed Electra). Very sturdy planes, but not big, and they're turboprop.

#176 ::: Rufus Polson ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 06:38 PM:

This is an odd argument. Surely the question of whether a lousy response to a huge disaster like a hurricane is something specific to this government or an innate feature of government in general, can only be answered by looking at other cases of governments dealing with hurricanes, typhoons etc.

Luckily, just in the last month or two we have a couple of other examples of major hurricanes hitting areas and requiring large scale evacuations: Cuba and China. Both successfully used government action to move hundreds of thousands of people without a single death. Clearly, it is not inevitable for government action on such issues to be a failure. It only fails when the government screws up, and specifically it fails big time when the screwup is by design, in that those running the government don't believe in government action for doing anything except warfare, corporate welfare, helping cronies etc.

#178 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 07:11 PM:

Ben: And BTW, I'm sure the citizens of NO were no better off on Thursday, than the residents of Somalia would have been had the hurricane been there. I take that back. They were probably worse off because they were so ill prepared and trained to depend on the kindness of their (usually) benevolent government caregivers.

The "government" wasn't hindered by the incompetence of anyone other than the humans who make up said government. Since government will always be made up of incompetents (be them dem or repub) the result will always be the same.


I think it's horribly ironic that in the face of overwhelming evidence that the government (that is the individuals the government must send) cannot and will not help you in your time of need


Someday you will learn the true moral of this story doesn't make a difference who is in charge, bureaucracy can't help you more than you can help yourself.

and Alex Cohen said,

"But that's no argument that all governments always fail the people, as much as you'd like it to be. Because your point seems to be that governments can not help but fail, and that's demonstrably false."

to which you responded,

But they do always fail individuals.

When I see your misconceptions about things like weather satellites, well that leads me to believe the totatlity of your arguments is what you believe.

And, since you were discussing an appeal to civil courts, as an individual and you declared (with specific emphasis) that gov't agencies always fail individuals, well excuse me for taking your words at face value.

It isn't as if we've not been accused of wanking in concert for doing that before. It isn't as if it won't happen again.

All things considered, I see a fair bit more coherence in our view of how the world works, what Gov't can, and ought to do, and in what we expect of it.

If that sort of consistency is mutual masturbation, I'll take it to the screwing you seem to think we deserve.

#179 ::: Ben ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 09:32 PM:

Luckily, just in the last month or two we have a couple of other examples of major hurricanes hitting areas and requiring large scale evacuations: Cuba and China. Both successfully used government action to move hundreds of thousands of people without a single death.

What do those two governments have in common? A complete lack of civil rights?

There are a great many things which are easier to accomplish when there is no barrier to moving your citizens around at the point of a gun.

So in the interest of clarity, is your problem with:

As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and of the commander’s assurances. The sheriffs informed us there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.

We questioned why we couldn’t cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the six-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their city. These were code words for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans.

Not the method, but the direction?

And while I can't quantitatively prove that there are more incompetent than competent fokls running the government any more than anyone can prove the big bang theory, each theory does explain a lot of actual observations.

#180 ::: Anna ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 09:49 PM:

What?!? Anyone surprised that Louisiana has a corrupt and greedy government? I was posted in Ft. Polk, La. in the late 80s. Shall I tell you how these nice officials show thier support of the troops? Speed traps! They even tried to clamp down on a Lt. General. He called for an investigation. I am sorry to see that these so called leaders still think of thier own sorry butts first.

#181 ::: Grandpa ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 09:54 PM:

From the horse himself:

Q: I gather from this last discussion that it would be absurd to attribute the Katrina disaster to global warming?

A: Yes, it would be absurd.

#182 ::: Wonderlane ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 10:33 PM:

Open Letter to Tom Matzzie,
To: "Tom Matzzie, Political Action"
Subject: Re: We need a Katrina Commission. Tell the media.

Hi Tom,
Thank you.

All I can say is thank you to your and your staff and all the contributors!

I was so angry and frustrated - it was shameful.

My mom headed Damage Control after the Good Friday quake in Alaska in April 1964 - it was not discussed much but 4 days after the earthquake a team was sent up O'Malley Road to the rich house of the head of the civil organization designed to respond in case of an emergency. He and his entire immediate family were discovered huddled in their living room wrapped in blankets with no heat, no food or drink, and not even the fireplace burning, with the head of the household repeating over and over again - "the world has come to an end". He had lost it.

Some people are not actually capable of responding in a emergency whether they are listening to a reading of "My pet goat" and being told their country is under attack, or while on vacation being told that one of the largest cities in the country is now devastated and underwater and needs their help.

People like my mom can arise and step up to the challenge as long as no one is holding a gun pointed at their head and telling them to stop.

We need to issue a Press Pass to everyone in the country so they can be free to move about.

Also a plan and deploy approach to managing civil order makes sense.

In my Mom's case she set up the Civil Disaster Headquarters "Damage Control" with all available volunteer civil engineers, architects, building inspectors, planners, and people capable of estimating damage and handling emergency rescue operations (meeting first in the Z. J. Loussac Public Library.)

A man drove up a front loader and some kind of truck and strode into the headquarters offering to sell his services and rent his gassed up heavy equipment for $50 an hour -- the men in the room took one look at the guy and without breaking their discussion on evacuating Seward, and other communities, as one picked the man up by all four limbs and heaved him out of the office on his ass, just as if it was part of their mission.

Same should go for those who failed to act in this emergency - even worse - they didn't just fail to act, they prevented the actions of others until the country rose up as one and said HELP THEM NOW.

You guys make me feel less angry and feel a lot less frustrated.

-Linda Lane
PS -
Thank you for Charmaine Neilville's testimonial link -

#183 ::: J. Alexander Harman ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 10:51 PM:

And BTW, I'm sure the citizens of NO were no better off on Thursday, than the residents of Somalia would have been had the hurricane been there.

The eighty percent of NOLA residents who were able to evacuate, after being advised to do so by their local government on the basis of data generated by the federal government (which also provided that data to the TV networks which disseminated it widely, but had no capability to generate it themselves), were certainly better off than Somalis would have been.

Since government will always be made up of incompetents (be them dem or repub) the result will always be the same.

Since the results of FEMA's natural disaster relief activities under the very competent James Lee Witt during the Clinton administration were in fact radically different, this point is demonstably false.

#184 ::: Barry Ragin ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 10:54 PM:

The incompetents in the private sector are only dangerous to those who choose to patronize them.

Is it too late to nominate the above for most dangerously ignorant sentence ever uttered in the English language?

#185 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 11:10 PM:

Copied over from another forum which I posted this originally on (all comments are mine)

City of New Orleans Hurricane Plans...


"C. OEP Shelter Coordinator

"1. Provides shelter management training program to designated shelter managers and disaster services personnel.

"2. Maintain trained volunteer cadre for disaster response in areas of mass feeding, damage assessment, etc.

"3. Participate in disaster exercises when requested.

"4. Develop recruitment programs that will provide the additional manpower required to respond to a major emergency such as a hurricane.

"D. Chief Administrative Officer

"1. Ensure training programs are conducted for municipal personnel with disaster responsibilities.

"2. Ensure participation of key emergency response personnel in City disaster exercises.

"3. Conduct local emergency exercises.

"E. Orleans Parish School Board.

"1. Ensure identification and training of shelter personnel for public shelters utilizing public school locations.

"2. Conduct disaster education programs and staff training.

Hmm, the -school board- has responsibility for identifying shelter personnel? Oh, that's for public school locations--but not for the Superdome or the Convention Center. Hmm. >/i>

"F. Emergency Medical Service

"1. Conduct annual mass casualty exercise in order to test response capabilities of emergency response agencies and medical facilities.

"2. Conduct oral critique and written after?action reports for the mass casualty exercises."

Hmm, no designation of medical personnel to staff shelters. [It's apparently in a different document, though]


"The coordination of public information activities is a shared responsibility of the Office of Emergency Preparedness and the Office of Communications. Public information procedures are divided into three phases: continuing education, pre?disaster preparation, and post?disaster recovery."

Wait a minute, what about procedures -during- the disaster?!!!!!

"Continuing education is intended to increase awareness of disaster potential, improve education on ways to protect life and property, and expand information on the availability of assistance and services. Pre?disaster preparation briefs the public on imminent danger, and provides details about evacuation and sheltering
procedures. During the post?disaster phase, the public is informed on such matters as disaster assistance, health precautions, long term sheltering, and other important issues involving the community's recovery operations.

"Specific tasks include the development and delivery of pre?disaster information and education programs, the coordination of all City Public Information Officers, the initiation of the proper news releases, announcements, etc., and the making of arrangements for printing adequate literature to facilitate the goal of educating and informing the public."

The city alerted the public that there was an imminent disaster, told those with cars to vacuate, and told others to come to the Supercome on Convention Center--that was pre-disaster activity.

"The Office of Emergency Preparedness and Office of Communications shall also devise a mechanism whereby the largest possible segment of the population can be sufficiently educated in disaster events to minimize panic and misunderstanding, including elderly and special needs population."

What in the world does "sufficiently educated" mean? What's the definition of it, is there a test, and what is a passing grade? [only semi-sarcastic there, mostly those are serious questions. How -does- one measure "sufficiently educated"?

I spent a lot of time when I was working on proposal, figuring out appropriate metrics to be able to measure progress and quality and identifying benchmarks and pass/fail criteria in the programs and projects being proposed. Working as a software tester my job included test development, test implementation, text executing, determination of criteria for pass/fail, determination of remediation required, recommending fixes, retesting, revising tests, etc. [There might be some stuff on another webpage...]

I don't see any metrics of how fast to evacuate people (how many people per hour need to be moved out, for example), how many people there are estimated will need city assistance to evacuate to where, what trainking is appropriate and for what for the people in the city... consider a summer camp, that has a swimming program. There are requirements for certified lifeguards to be available I suspect, and a ratio of for every X children, one qualified lifeguard. There are rules about operations hours, that when there are children down by the water, there should be qualified people there overseeing the situation.


"A. Office of Emergency Preparedness

"1. The preparation and dissemination of a general public education program in order to attain high public morale, minimize fear and panic and obtain full individual participation in Emergency Preparedness activities and maximum public support of the emergency management plan.

"Public education is the focus of the activities of the OEP Administration and Training Officer (ATO). Although all members of the OEP staff participate in public education, it is primarily the ATO who is responsible for the development of education programs. The ATO shall either utilize materials prepared by other agencies such as the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), or shall develop materials directed at the specific needs or concerns of our local pulation.

The ATO participates with other organizations in the presentation of disaster preparedness materials and programs. Such programs include corporate emergency preparedness/disaster presentations [ATO also gets to tell city employees that their families come second to the public welfare in emergencies]...

"4. In times of disaster, advise the public of developments and procedures for locating emergency services....OEP directs calls to the Office of Public Advocacy [which] provides current and accurate information to the public.

"5. Develop procedures and mechanisms for the notification of persons who can not rely on traditional media sources....

"The OEP works with the home health care industry to provide emergency preparedness information and educational materials. The EOC also, through ESF?8, Health and Medical, provides status reports of approaching tropical storms to home health providers to assist them in preparing their clients for severe weather."

There is no mention of providing healthcare personnel, equipment, and supplies.

"6. The OEP shall maintain a working relation with the electronic media for the prompt dissemination of emergency related information... [when crisis is developing or present] local media organizations [give out] public emergency information. Major local television stations [to be in the EOC with permission and give out information from it].

"During an emergency, the OEP will utilize Cox Cable to facilitate information dissemination.

"8. Following a major disaster such as a hurricane, coordinate with State and Federal agencies on news releases and other information being made available to the public. Areas within ESF?14 are designated for State and Federal agencies, where they will be provided work space in close proximity to media briefing and work areas. They will be joined by City public information officers (PIOs) who are trained in EOC public information procedures (See ESF?14, Public Information)."

The paragraph above says that state and federal agencies will have representatives in "ESF?14" [formatting issue with the original there..] colocated with the city emergency personnel for information release at the least.

"9. Develop procedures and mechanisms to provide proper identification for key response and recovery personnel, for governmental, private relief, and corporate entities."

Where is the list of "key response and recovery" people and organizations, and the points of contact? [some of them turn out to be in a different document--but crossreferences are few and far between in this]

"10. Develop procedures for public identification of shelters, critical recovery services and centers prior to and immediately following a major disaster when all normal public information systems may be inoperable."

This specifies identifying shelters and alerting the public to where to go, but doesn't providing direction for provisioning the shelters with anything.

"The OEP will, via ESF?6, Mass Care, and ESF?14, Public Information, issue constantly updated information on available shelters prior to and during disaster operations, and will utilize extraordinary means when called upon following a disaster to provide updated information."

Again, this doesn't include any information about provisioning the shelters.

"11. The OEP shall develop procedures for providing information to transient
and homeless populations through the procedures as outlined in the Severe Weather
Shelter Program."

There isn't a statement of how to accomplish this. Compare it with having news media representatives in the EOC to alert the public which has TV sets.

"B. Office of Communications

"1. Develop adequate educational materials for dissemination to the public prior to the disaster."

And what does this material consist of? If nothing else there should be a reference back to the paragraph that mentioned sources such as FEMA, which also didn't give any real detail--but it provided more than this one does!

" 2. Coordinate and develop all news releases to be delivered by elected officials, and consult with other city departments and agencies in development of appropriate bulletins affecting their activities in which the public must be informed.

"3. Literature in the form of pamphlets, flyers, circulars, etc., will be made available for public distribution. The literature will cover all aspects of emergency and disaster response.

"4. Develop educational and informational literature that will be disseminated to the public concerning disasters. Information from private relief agencies will be included.

"5. Prepare and disseminate information to tourists and transient populations as to conditions and best actions to take, time permitting.

"6. City officials will be made aware of procedures to be followed in disseminating
material and information to the public to avoid confusion."

There is nothing specific about "what" to prepare--the contents, the format, etc., or "how" -- as in who gives it out, where, how often, when to update... this looks like Potemkin disaster planning, there is a piece of cloth and a paintbrush and words painted on the canvas, "here's some general information that we have people whose job duties including telling the public to get to shelter when there is a disaster." The structure of actually setting up provisioned shelters, so far in what I've been reading, is nonexistent. [It turns out that Value Something or Other -- see later, it sounds like the Food Service Contractor -- has the responsibility for providing food at at the Special Needs Shelter supposed to be set up at the Superdome. I found the Special Needs Shelter page, but not the ordinary Emergency Shelter document webpage]

Were this a Request for Proposal I were reading I would be cursing the ancestors of those responsible for writing and reviewing the document prior to release, as the progenitors of incompetents....

"7. In the event of a major emergency, activate and man the ESF?14, Public Information, and its media?center within the Emergency Operations Center, and operate it under protocols to be established in conjunction with the Mayor's Office and the Office of Emergency Preparedness."

Wonderful, so there is a bureaucracy to have a command center--what about -shelters- and provisioning them. For that matter, what is the EOC provisioning? Where is the food, water, power, sanitary facilities, who staffs it and how do they get there....

"8. Prior to hurricane season, assist in the establishment of ESF?14 procedures and operational guidelines, and conduct media orientations to EOC facilities and procedures."

This is a list of who is supposed to write a proposal, it's -not- a "disaster plan," it's a "let's right down responsibilities of people to draw up responsibilities for writing down who talks to the media!"

"9. Assist the Office of Public Advocacy in operating EOC Citizen Information Center, and for the coordination of information to be given out and in following up reports received by this hotline."

Once again, where are the operations for rescuing people, for delivering services to the citizenry, the criteria and setting up and provisioning and operating shelters and keeping order in them? This plan, so far, has -nothing- about such things!

"10. Provide technical assistance in developing public service announcements that can be prepared before hurricane season for later broadcast, when circumstances may not allow adequate preparation time."

Is there any end to the PR flack focus?!

"Public service announcements are developed jointly between the OEP and Office of Communications. Prior to each hurricane season, the representatives of the OEP shall meet with the Office of Communications to evaluate the need for the development of public service announcements that can be made and stored until needed..."

Blah, blah, blah, "canned announcements" is even the term the document uses!

to continue on Next Rock

#186 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 11:19 PM:

Ben: Knowing a few people who have (recently) lived in China, yes, the civil rights they have are not what we have here (though with someone who merely shouted a vulgarism [with a decidely political bent to it] being handcuffed and intimidated with M-16s, and other people losing their jobs because they did them [she wondered if Karl Rove was legally eligible to vote in the elections he was voting in, I'm not sure ours are as great as we like to think).

But they felt freer to discuss things when they were in China. Not only did they sense less interference from the gov't in what they discussed, there was less intimidation from other people.

As Gov't is a social contract, it may be there are flaws in ours, which we accept in the name of liberty, and benefits they accept in exchange for those things we see as restrictions in liberty.

Security, as Mr. Schneier likes to say, is about trade offs. I suspect there are a number of people in New Orleans who might not think so poorly of China and Cuba now, as they did two weeks ago.

#187 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 11:31 PM:

Continuing from previous rock



"City of New Orleans Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan.

Oh, look, now we're in an Annex! There isn't any mention of what a shelter should consist of and what the provisioning should be for it, etc. in the main body....



"Evacuation planning and actual implementation has to be based upon certain assumptions. It must be understood that"

It is never a good sign to see this sort of passive voice in this sort of document....

"the need to evacuate elements of the population can occur at any time, events resulting in evacuations occur with various amounts of lead time and every evacuation will be unique and offer unexpected challenges to those conducting the evacuation."

The crassest translation of his is "we don't have a clue in a bucket but we're going to be long and windy like Big Windy the Giant Vatch--but rather more ineffectual, and take lots of paper to saying nothing of much value."

" Evacuations in response to hazardous material spills or sudden severe weather are provided with little or no warning, and often have to be accomplished after the fact, and in a disaster response environment. Throughout the Parish persons with special needs, require special consideration regarding notification, transportation, and sheltering. Resources of equipment, facilities and personnel are more difficult to locate and coordinate when an evacuation is required during late night or
early morning hours. If possible, advance warning should be given so an evacuation can be coordinated. Adequate provisions should be maintained at all times in order to conduct a warning or alert of an area."

[Crass translation, "We don't have a clue about how to do this, notice we're not even providing a hint of classes of equipment that might be applicable or where to find it or who to ask/task..."] >/i>

"Certain hazards, such as a hurricane, provide some lead time for coordinating an evacuation. However, this can not be considered a certainty. Plus, the sheer size of an evacuation in response to an approaching hurricane creates the need
for the use of community-wide warning resources, which cannot be limited to our City's geographical boundaries. Evacuation of major portions of our population, either in response to localized or citywide disasters, can only be accomplished if the citizens and visitors are kept informed of approaching threats on a timely
schedule, and if they are notified of the need to evacuate in a timely and organized manner. If an evacuation order is issued without the mechanisms needed to disseminate the information to the affected persons, then we face the possibility of having large numbers of people either stranded and left to the mercy of a storm, or left in an area impacted by toxic materials."

[Nary a clue about -how- to effect an evacuation...]

"In this day of high-speed communication and wide-spread availability of information, mechanisms do exist to transmit emergency related information to the vast majority of the community. For our most serious threat, hurricanes, information from
the National Hurricane Center in Miami and our local office of the National Weather Service, can reach the general population through local governments and mass media outlets. It is the responsibility of the Office of Emergency
Preparedness to guarantee that not only is the public alerted, but that other emergency response organizations and personnel are alert and in position to meet the real or potential threat."

[But what are the Authorities supposed to do besides yell "Danger Will Robinson, Danger Will Robinson!" ??!! What actual operations regarding effecting the relocation of people and to where, and what preparations for food, clothing, shelter, water, sanitation are to be rovided/supported/executed?!]

"[blah, blah, blah--much blather about evacuation without any real content about who, how, where, etc.]"

"Major population relocations resulting from an approaching hurricane or similar anticipated disaster, caused the City of New Orleans Office of Emergency Preparedness to develop a specific Hurricane Emergency Evacuation Standard Operating Procedures, which are appended to the comprehensive Emergency Management Plan.

"The SOP is developed to provide for an orderly and coordinated evacuation intended to minimize the hazardous effects of flooding, wind, and rain on the residents and visitors in New Orleans. The SOP provides for the evacuation of the public
from danger areas and the designations of shelters for evacuees.


"The Hurricane Emergency Evacuation Standard Operating Procedure is designed to deal with all case scenarios of an evacuation in response to the approach of a major hurricane towards New Orleans. It is designed to deal with the anticipation of a direct hit from a major hurricane. This includes identifying the city's
present population, its projected population, identification of at-risk populations (those living outside levee protection or in storm-surge areas, floodplains, mobile homes, etc.), in order to understand the evacuation requirements. It
includes identifying the transportation network, especially the carrying-capacity of proposed evacuation routes and existing or potential traffic bottlenecks or blockages, caused either by traffic congestion or natural occurrences such
as rising waters. Identification of sheltering resources and the establishment of shelters and the training of shelter staff is important, as is the provision for food and other necessities to the sheltered. This preparation function is
the responsibility of the Office of Emergency Preparedness."

So "identification of shelter resources... is important" but where is the specification for how it is to be done? Meanwhile, the responsibility seems to be with the Office of Emergency Preparedness.

"Conduct of an actual evacuation will be the responsibility of the Mayor of New Orleans in coordination with the Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness, and the OEP Shelter Coordinator."

Ah, there is an OEP Shelter Coordinator. DING, DING, DING! I see a party whose Responsibility seems to have been unmet.... but wait, what are the actual OEP Shelter Coordinator's responsiblities, do they actually including provisioning shelters? They inclue conducting an evacuation as above, but what else, if anything, do they include?

"The SOP, in unison with other elements of the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, is designed for use in all hazard situations, including citywide evacuations in response to hurricane situations and addresses three elements of emergency response: warning, evacuation, and sheltering.

"1. Warning: Formulates a comprehensive system for public information, early recognition of impending storms, and dissemination of emergency warning.

"2. Evacuation: Formulates an effective procedure for orderly evacuation of residents and visitors within available warning time.

"3. Sheltering: Formulates a comprehensive system of accessible shelters of adequate size."

Wait a minute "formulates a ... system..." is NOT the same thing as "provideds" or "equips." I have a certain degree of experience and expertise in Governmentalese, and "produces a plan" is a far different animal than "identified and provisions facilities." Oh, is it EVER a different animal. I put a sarcastic footnote in a study I was working on, which is in the Defense Technical Information Center holdings, commenting on the overuse of terms like "could," noting that what can be done, and what gets done, are very much not the same thing....


"Information received from the National Hurricane Center concerning the storm's tract will allow the focusing on either a landfall, paralleling or exiting storm scenario. Information involving local conditions such as pre-hurricane rainfall, tide schedules, and the amount of pre-storm publicity, must be taken into account, as are the various known circumstances that are explained in the information summary portion of the Hurricane Evacuation Plan, in determining when an evacuation order should be issued. Any assumption regarding where and how the storm will likely make landfall involves clear and constant communication with the National Hurricane Center, the local office of the National Weather Service, State OEP and various local agencies that are monitoring either the storm's progress or other elements of the city's preparedness to weather the storm's passage."

[Translation, "Not Our Responsibility! It's the National Weather Service's job to predict storms, we aren't forecasters and We Don't Have a Clue!"]

"The City of New Orleans will utilize all available resources to quickly and safely evacuate threatened areas. Those evacuated will be directed to temporary sheltering and feeding facilities as needed. When specific routes of progress are required, evacuees will be directed to those routes. Special arrangements will be made to evacuate persons unable to transport themselves or who require specific life saving assistance. Additional personnel will be recruited to assist in evacuation procedures as needed."

-what- are those "available resources... ??? And who are those "personnel"??


"The use of travel-trailers, campers, motorcycles, bicycles, etc., during the
evacuation will be allowed so long as the situation permits it. Public information
broadcasts will include any prohibitions on their use. Transportation will be provided to those persons requiring public transportation from the area. (See Special Needs Transportation, ESF-1). An orderly return to the evacuated areas will be provided after the Mayor determines the threat to be terminated. Transportation back to the evacuated area after threat termination will be provided as available."

This makes it look like the expectation is that the evacuation will occur primarily by personal vehicles owned by the general populace. I don't see specific callout of the transportation modes to be used, other than the specific ones immediately above. This is what I call "really bad writing" because it doesn't specify the transportation modes, who's responsible for what, what percentage of the populace is going by what mode/what modes are needed/what the populace has and would be expected to prefer to use, what other options are available, AND how to manage an evacuation.

Metrics, again, are, "-there are X number of people in New Orleans. Y households have private registered vehicles and could be expected to evacuate in 1.3 vehicles per household with vehicles. Z households have no cars and are dependent upon mass transit, to evacuate these household units will require (option mix of bus, rail, air, boat). V households and W nursing homes have disabled persons, likely requiring assistance.... -"


"A. Authority

"As established by the City of New Orleans Charter, the government has jurisdiction and responsibility in disaster response. City government shall coordinate its efforts through the Office of Emergency Preparedness

"The authority to order the evacuation of residents threatened by an approaching
hurricane is conferred to the Governor by Louisiana Statute. The Governor is granted the power to direct and compel the evacuation of all or part of the population from a stricken or threatened area within the State, if he deems this action necessary for the preservation of life or other disaster mitigation, response or recovery. The same power to order an evacuation conferred upon the Governor is also delegated to each political subdivision of the State by Executive Order. This authority empowers the chief elected official of New Orleans, the Mayor of New Orleans, to order the evacuation of the parish residents threatened by an approaching hurricane."

Ah, the evacuation authority belong to the -Governor-, and can be delegated to the Mayor. But, again, where is the discussion of responsibilities for -how- to effect an evacuation?!



"It must be understood that this Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan is an all-hazard response plan, and is applicable to events of all sizes, affecting even the smallest segments of the community. Evacuation procedures for small scale and localized evacuations are conducted per the SOPs of the New Orleans Fire Department and the New Orleans Police Department. However, due to the sheer size and number of persons to be evacuated, should a major tropical weather system or other catastrophic event threaten or impact the area, specifically directed long range planning and coordination of resources and responsibilities efforts must be undertaken."

WEASEL!!! "Evacuation... for small scale and localized evacuations are conducted per [Standard Operating Procedure] of the New Orleans Fire Department and the New Orleans Police Department [for largescale, PUNT!]"

" [stuff about traffic management on the roads, and number of hours to evacuate everyone, nothing about transportation modes for getting people out of New Orleans, or providing shelter and provisioning] "


"A. Mayor

"* Initiate the evacuation.

"* Retain overall control of all evacuation procedures via EOC operations.

"* Authorize return to evacuated areas.

"B. Office of Emergency Preparedness

"* Activate EOC and notify all support agencies to this plan.

"* Coordinate with State OEP on elements of evacuation.

"* Assist in directing the transportation of evacuees to staging areas.

"* Assist ESF-8, Health and Medical, in the evacuation of persons with special needs, nursing home, and hospital patients in accordance with established procedures.

"* Coordinate the release of all public information through ESF-14, Public Information.

"* Use EAS, television, cable and other public broadcast means as needed and in accordance with established procedure.

"* Request additional law enforcement/traffic control (State Police, La. National Guard) from State OEP."

Note there IS responsibility called out above for shelter provisioning and management....

"C. New Orleans Police Department

"* Ensure orderly traffic flow.

"* Assist in removing disabled vehicles from roadways as needed.

"* Direct the management of transportation of seriously injured persons to hospitals as needed.

"* Direct evacuees to proper shelters and/or staging areas once they have departed the threatened area.

"* Release all public information through the ESF-14, Public Information.

[No responsibilities for keeping order in shelters....]

"D. Regional Transit Authority

"* Supply transportation as needed in accordance with the current Standard Operating Procedures.

"* Place special vehicles on alert to be utilized if needed.

"* Position supervisors and dispatch evacuation buses.

"* If warranted by scope of evacuation, implement additional service.

[No mention of "identify drivers for buses," no mention of boats, aircraft, trains....]

"E. Louisiana National Guard

"* Provide assistance as needed in accordance with current State guidelines.

[What state guidelines? There should be a reference to a state documents, and a URL....]

"F. Animal Care and Control

"* Coordinate animal rescue operations with the New Orleans SPCA."

What about shelters for people??!!

"G. Public Works

" * Make emergency road repairs as needed."

What about water, power, light?!

" H. Office of Communications

"* Release all public information relating to the evacuation.


"(See ESF-6, Mass Care)"


" Emergency shelter operations are the responsibility of the Office of Emergency
Preparedness Shelter Coordinator. Shelters are provided by the Orleans Parish School Board, while manager training and support activities and supplies are provided by the Office of Emergency Preparedness."

Aha, another Point of Responsibility identifies, the Office of Emergency Preparedness. The School Board (!!) provides shelters??!!!

"Reassessment of facilities is an on-going process conducted jointly by the School Board, and Emergency Preparedness Division. The shelter activation list is updated yearly, and takes into consideration new school construction, school closings and renovations."

But it doesn't apparently take into account flooding that floods out schools....

" A. Shelter Demand

"Shelter demand is currently under review by the Shelter Coordinator. Approximately 100,000 Citizens of New Orleans do not have means of personal transportation. Shelter assessment is an ongoing project of the Office of Emergency Preparedness through the Shelter Coordinator."

Ouch, ouch, ouch ouch ouch! Getting people to the shelters who are carless in New Orleans, is a SCHOOL BOARD responsibility?!!

"The following schools have been inspected and approved as Hurricane Evacuation Shelters for the City of New Orleans:

Laurel Elementary School

" Walter S. Cohen High School

" Medard Nelson Elementary School

" Sarah T. Reed High School

" Southern University Multi Purpose Center

" Southern University New Science Building

" O. Perry Walker High School

" Albert Wicker Elementary School"

And those places can hold a few hundred thousand people?!

" It should not be assumed that all of the approved shelters listed above will be opened in the event of a hurricane or other major tropical storm. The names and locations of open shelters will be announced when an evacuation order is issued. This list is not for public information and should not be duplicated and distributed. In the event that shelters are opened, people who go to their nearest listed location may find, for one reason or another, that the facility is not open as a shelter, forcing them to seek an alternate location. It is also possible that people anticipating the opening of shelters may arrive before shelters are set-up and ready to receive them. For these and other reasons, shelters which are to be used will not be identified until they are ready to open and not until an evacuation order, related public announcement is made."

What -were- the authors of this document smoking? I really really really do NOT want any of it!

"Last Resort Refuges and Super Shelters are described in specific SOPs covering their applications."



"City of New Orleans Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan


"Following a disaster, once the principal threat has passed and the primary concern of protection of citizens from harm has been addressed, it becomes critical to public safety to ensure the speedy yet orderly recovery of the community...."

Wait a minute, the whole issue of operations of shelters and operations during an emergency, got skipped over!!!

#188 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 11:59 PM:

Continuing from previous rock



"B. Human Services

"Location of Disaster Relief Centers and other recovery operation sites shall be the joint responsibility of ESF?7, Resource Support, and the Damage Assessment Teams, which will scout undamaged or lightly damaged facilities while conducting field surveys. Prior to hurricane season, a list of potential buildings should be compiled that meet the criteria for a Disaster Relief Center or other recovery function. These facilities shall then be checked by damage assessment teams for potential use following a disaster. An inventory of city owned properties will also be available in the EOC and certain facilities, such as large community centers, shall be reviewed for use at the time.

"Multiple sites shall be identified and geographically positioned to serve the impacted populations without placing burdens upon those who may have lost their private transportation resources as a result of the disaster. Regional Transit Authority may be called upon to provide free transit to recovery centers located along existing bus routes. Recovery center staffing patterns shall be developed along accepted state and federal guidelines and provided from city, state and private agencies.

"Feeding and food and supply distribution sites shall be established following a disaster in geographically distributed sites across the Parish. Feeding sites shall be established by ESF?6, Mass Care, in conjunction with ESF?11, Food and Water. The Southeast Louisiana Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army shall provide the lead in establishing and operating these sites. The Second Harvest Food Bank shall provide leadership in the acquiring and distribution of food and water. ESF?15, Volunteers and Donations, shall direct outside resources to the appropriate sites where these volunteer services can best be used. Temporary living areas shall be established when possible on city owned property. ESF?7, Resource Support, shall assist in the location and acquisition of non city owned property. The New Orleans Housing Authority shall be called upon to assist with public housing for the temporarily displaced."

This is -after- the hurricane has passed. But there are big giant gaps -- where are people supposed to be between when then leave their homes, and when "temporary living area shall be established..." ??? "Feeding sites shall be established...." but what about feeding for people in shelters during the emergency?

"C. Infrastructure

"Following a disaster of such magnitude that far exceeds the City's and State's ability to meet the needs of the community and results in the requesting and granting of a Presidential Disaster Declaration, the Office of Emergency Preparedness shall, as previously described, at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency or Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness, establish Disaster Relief Centers for individuals seeking recovery assistance. These sites shall be established at geographically strategic sites, providing all affected citizens with access to available programs, and shall provide representatives from numerous federal, state, local, and private relief agencies. Locations of the centers, as well as information on FEMA's teleregistration program, shall be made known via ESF?14, Public Information, and all other available information outlets (see ESF?14, Public Information)."

Responsibility goes to the Fed for "disaster of such magnitue that far exceeds the City's and State's ability...." Hmm.

"For affected governments and qualified not?for?profit organizations, a Public Officials Briefing shall be held. At the briefing, public officials shall be oriented on available assistance and procedures, and shall receive "Notice Of Interest" forms to be filed with state and federal officials. Subsequent "Project Applications" shall be filed with FEMA for further processing. State and federal authorities will evaluate the project pplications and determine justification for assistance.

"City of New Orleans Department personnel shall serve as the City's principal representatives in preparation of disaster application forms, monitoring of projects to completion and certification, and disbursement of relief funds. The City shall also coordinate the development of Disaster Survey Reports and review and represent the City in negotiations for restitution of losses with federal and state officials."

"Special Needs Shelter Plan

"City of New Orleans Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan


"The shelter is intended for individuals who have no other resources and who need assistance that cannot be guaranteed in a regular shelter, i.e. medication that requires refrigeration, oxygen equipment, etc.The Special Needs Shelter (SNS) will only be activated by the Mayor of New Orleans or his designee. Entrance into the SNS does not relieve any individual of the responsibility for their own care. Admission into the Shelter is NOT TO BE INTERPRETED AS A GUARANTEE OF SAFETY, and the City of New Orleans is not assuring anyone protection from harm within the facilities that are being offered or opened for this purpose.

"It is critical that everyone understands that this shelter will not be able to substitute for the comforts of the individuals' homes, and that all equipment and special furniture, which are normally used, may not be able to accompany them.It is recommended that all persons with special medical needs and/or their responsible family members develop a viable plan for transportation out of the community to a community that will be able to give long term assistance. The potential exists that New Orleans could be without sufficient supplies to meet the needs of persons with special considerations, and there is significant risk being taken by those individuals who decide to remain in these refuges of last resort.The plan is intended to identify the mechanics of establishing a SNS and when it shall be activated


"The coordination of city and state resources and operations is present throughout all planning, implementation, and resolution of declared disasters. This includes the City of New Orleans Office of Emergency Preparedness (NO OEP), New Orleans Health Department (NOHD), the State of Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness (La OEP), The LSU Health Science Center (LSU HSC){Medical Center of LA}), the State of Louisiana Department of Social Services (La DSS), and the Louisiana National Guard (LANG). The State of Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (La DHH) remains available as a resource when requested as the need presents and as requested by the No OEP and the La OEP.

"Designated representatives of NOHD and DSS will oversee the SNS operations (medical and non-medical areas respectively) and report to the Command and Control Cell (CCC) as outlined.

"LSU HSC will provide support in the form of medical personnel or supplies and equipment as available and requested by the Director of NOHD (see Appendix E-1 for the Memorandum of Understanding {MOU}).

"The LANG will provide one medical company to the SNS as well as Guardsmen for security and policing of the shelter."

AHA, medical responsibiity AND security responsibilty belongs to the Louisiana
National Guard!



"The organization of the shelter, its staff and direction of all activities in the unit will be the joint responsibility of the Office of Emergency Preparedness (NO OEP), the New Orleans Health Department (NOHD) and the State of Louisiana Department of Social Services (LA DSS). The Incident Command system (IC) will be enacted in this work area for smooth flow of direction and operation. A color coding system utilizing the IC vest system will be implemented to identify the command structure and color coded caps will be worn by personnel to identify the area to which each of the shelter staff is assigned.

"The Director of the NO OEP and the La OEP will institute a Shelter Command and Control Cell (CCC) on site for the entire operations of the Refuge of Last Resort to which the command of the SNS will report.

"The Directors of the NO OEP, NOHD, and La DSS shall appoint the SNS Shelter Director and the Assistant Shelter Director, the Medical Director, Supply Officer and the Auxiliary Officer.The chain of command reports to the CCC and is as
follows... [snippage]"

"A.Shelter Director (SD)

The Shelter Director or his designee, shall be responsible for opening the SNS and overseeing the operations of the Medical Director, Supply Officer, and the Auxiliary Officer.The SD will report directly to, and will maintain regular communication with, the CCC

"B.Medical Director

"The Medical Director will report to the SD or designee, and will be responsible for organizing the medical area. This includes but is not limited to coordinating the staff, delivery of medical care, and the recruitment of physicians.The Medical Director will delegate responsibility..In the event that the Medical Director is a non-physician, there must be a Medical Officer designated to make direct patient care decisions. The Medical Director will be responsible for making the final decisions, in conjunction with the Medial Officer, about the admission in or transfer out of individuals from the SNS. The Medical Officer will be responsible for DNR decisions and completion of all necessary documents for deceased persons with in the SNS.

"C.Supply Officer

"The Supply Officer will report to the Shelter Director or his designee, and will be responsible for organizing the supply area. The Supply Officer will complete the checklist for supplies and equipment (see Appendix D) and will immediately identify deficits to the SD or his designee.The Supply Officer will be responsible for maintaining records of supply use, for keeping an accurate account of which agency has donated materials, and for the facilitation of returning equipment and/or supplies."

[So, responsibility presumably for supplies includes the Supply Officer for Special Needs Shelter-- were there Supply Officers specicied for the Superdome and the Convention Center?)

"D.Auxiliary Officer

"The Auxiliary Officer will be responsible for all needs of a non-medical or non-direct patient care nature. This individual will report to the SD, or designee.The responsibilities shall include, but will not be limited to:oversight of security personnel, sanitation needs, food and water acquisition and preparation, compilation of all records and maintaining a records system, and direction of volunteers to areas of appropriate use. A records officer will oversee and ensure the maintenance of records on all workers within the shelter unit in every work area.

"E.Shelter Environment

"The SNS is required to meet the following criteria:

"1.Providing an enclosed area with controllable ingress and egress.

"2.Providing generator power capability and access around the clock.

"3.Providing handicap restroom facilities.

"4.Providing multiple restroom facilities, both male and female.

"5.Providing access to arefrigerator that is under the control of generator power.

"6.The ability to cordon off parts of the room for patient privacy and treatment.

"7.Providing kitchen facility with the ability to heat food for residents.

"8.Providing housekeeping equipment with mops, pails, soap, and water access.

"9.Preference should be given to tiled floor area.

"10.Providing sufficient space to provide quarantine area if it becomes necessary;.

"11.Providing tables that can be used for beds, or a minimum of 200 cots for staff and residents of the area. If the duration of the event becomes prolonged, additional cots may be needed.

Hmm, refrigeration and sanitation, but what about food and clean water for drnking?!

"The designated areas in the selected site shall be determined by the Shelter Director in conjunction with the major staff positions designated in the unit chain of command.The final decision shall rest with the SD. Police Personnel will be assigned immediately to control ingress and egress of authorized persons There must be two points in ingress and egress, with only one access open and staffed by police agents. The opening of the second doors will be at the direction of the SD or his designee in the event of a site emergency. Generators will be tested to assure they are functional. Primary section designation shall be:

1. Triage, Registration/Records

"2. Treatment - must be able to cordon off for privacy of multiple treatment areas being used at one time.

"3.Major Medical Treatment - must have generator power and be able to be closed off from all other activities.

"4. Supply - an area which can be locked for Pharmacy

"5. Shelter Staff Rest Areas

"6. Resident Rest Areas

"7. Port-o-lets must be on site in the event of rest room failures or disruption...."

[ haven't found the non-special needs Shelter page so far]

Command Communications will be done on the dry erase board that will be posted at each area of ingress and egress.Dry erase boards will be located in each work area identifying the area and providing a status update every 4 hours.


" D.Shelter Staff

"Shelter Staff will sign in and be assigned to an area (see Appendix B-1).Additionally, DSS personnel will complete sign in (see Appendix B-2).All non-city/state employees will complete a City of New Orleans VIGOR Volunteer application (see Appendix B-3).

"Shelter Staff will work no more than 12 hours in any 24 hour period, except in the event of a major disaster in the Shelter Area (Appendix B-1).Every effort will be made to give Shelter Staff a 15 to 30 minute break in each 4 hour work period (Appendix B-1).

"Every effort will be made to provide food and water supplies for shelter staff.However,
everyone in this area will need to bring supplies for a minimum of a 5 day period. Each shelter staff person is expected to bring his own toiletries, bedding and changes of clothing.Safe storage of excessive personal effects cannot be guaranteed.

"Work assignments will be documented and overseen by the assigned director. Any disputes regarding workload or assignment shall be documented and forwarded to the SD for mediation.


"Food will be provided to shelter staff and residents as available by Volume Services of America in the Superdome."

AHA, the agency which failed to provide the food! "Volume Services of America" -- Private Enterprise not at its best...

"F.Shelter Morgue

"An on-site morgue area must be designated.

"In the event the on-site morgue must be used, additional police personnel (La DSS Enforcement) will be assigned to guard the area.Every effort will be made to remove deceased persons in a safe and timely manner.

"All effects of the deceased will be logged and accounted for by a minimum of two Shelter Staff.One of the staff must be a designated director of a Staffing area, and all materials will be bagged and left in the area with the deceased."

That obviously didn't happen.


"Any request from the media will only go through the Shelter Director to the Command and Control Cell, to the Director of NO OEP. At no time will any media or unauthorized photographs be allowed from any other source."

No Shelter Director materialized, however....


" A.Upon Declaration of the Opening of the SNS

"The designated Shelter Director, and Assistant Shelter Director will report to the shelter site with the assigned staff and:"

No SD, no ASD, and no assigned staff appeared....

"1.Report in to the Control and Command Cell personnel.

"2. Meet with designated Medical, Supply, and Auxiliary Officers to assure and oversee the set-up of each of those areas."

None of those appeared, either.

" 3.Identify the designated rooms, and the arrangement of each area (ex: patient rooms, pharmacy, records, personnel caps, etc)."

None of the above occurred.

" 4. Arrange for the setting up of the informational dry erase boards with the appropriate instructions."

There may have been dry erase boards, but without any personnel to run anything...

"5. Arrange for the receiving of, and rganization of, supplies and equipment (Appendix D)."


" 6.Arrange for the setting up a registration table for incoming shelter staff to report in, receive assignments and appropriate color cap, and meet with the site staff to coordinate with shelter personnel."

That didn't happen...

" 7. As registration continues, the Shelter Director and Assistant Shelter Director will stay apprised of room placements and assure that the necessary rooms are made available to accommodate the incoming residents, organized by triage tag colors."

What Shelter Director??!!

" Designated medical staff (wearing the appropriate colored caps), will man the triage area and will set up at the door to the Special Needs Shelter ingress site.Shelter residents arriving with pre-triage paperwork(Appendix A-1 and METTAG) will be directed to the registration area. Others seeking admittance will be triaged as dictated by the plan.Those deemed appropriate for admittance will be directed to the registration area."

What medical staff? Off in Iraq, were some of them, what about the rest? Not all of the Louisana National Guard was in Iraq!

"Personnel of the Department of Social Services (wearing the appropriate colored caps) are to set up Registration tables past the triage area within the ingress area.DSS personnel are to complete registration paperwork as dictated by the plan and orient the individuals to the basic layout of the shelter and directions on the dry erase boards."

In absentia, totally.

"Personnel of the DSS Support Enforcement will set up security measures at the Shelter Worker rest area and provide security in case of any activation of the shelter morgue."

In abstentia, along with Guard teams.

" B.During the Event

"The SD is to insure smooth operation of the shelter as delineated in the plan, and identify any problems to the Command Staff Member. Any incident occurring in the shelter will be documented on the Incident Report Form (see Appendix C) and reported to the CCC personnel."

No SD to be found.

"NOHD personnel will provide needed and ongoing medical assessment and care and oversee assisting medical personnel."

In abstentia.

"LSU HSC will provide needed and ongoing medical assessment and care."

LSU was evacuated totally, wasn't it?

"DSS personnel will assist with meals, dissemination of information, counseling,
and the arrangment for clergy visits.DSS Enforcement personnel will continue
to provide security within the staff rest area and the morgue (if and when opened)."

In absentia.

"LANG Guardsment will provide SNSsecurity, and the medical company will provide on-going medical assessment and care."


" C.Resolution of Declared Emergency

" DSS registration personnel will:

" 1.Complete an exit interview with each shelter resident, completing an exit form (see Appendix A-5)."

DSS never showed.

" 2. Identify methods of transportation and coordinate with SD for transportation

Cognizant personnel never showed.

" 3.Collect triage tags and file with all paperwork pertaining to the resident."

Ditto. >/i>

" All other SNS personnel will coordinate the area Officers in closing the shelter. Each
shelter worker will identify any problems encountered during the disaster, or any suggestions, to the Officer of that section (see Appendix C-2). The area Officers will communicate this information to the SD."

No personnel arrived.

"The SD will prepare an After Action Report (see Appendix C-2) with this information
to be given to the Command Staff Member."

No SD to be found.

#189 ::: dpthdmstrss ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 12:03 AM:

Y ll d rlz tht t ws nt FM wh rfsd th Rd Crss nd th Slvtn rmy prmssn t ntr th cty nd rlv th Cnvntn Cntr vcs, dn't y? ccrdng t th Rd Crss's wn pg t ws stt nd lcl ffcls wh md tht dcsn, nt FM.
vn Md Mttrs, whch s hrdly rghtst grp, dmts tht stt ffcls md th dcsn, lthgh thy ccpt th stt's mst rcnt vrsn n tht stry- tht t ws bcs L ws cncrnd fr th sfty f rlf wrkrs.

#190 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 07:06 AM:

You all do realize that it was not FEMA who refused the Red Cross

I have seen minor variations on this post often enough now that I'm now thinking more viral marketing?

#191 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 08:05 AM:
The incompetents in the private sector are only dangerous to those who choose to patronize them.

Is it too late to nominate the above for most dangerously ignorant sentence ever uttered in the English language?

It does kind of beg for a scream of, "Bhopal, you dunce!" doesn't it?

#192 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 08:14 AM:

There's something wonderful about the typo "in abstentia".

#193 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 09:30 AM:

On the merits of owning a car: I heard a radio interview yesterday evening with State Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, a fairly well-respected local pol who had been down to Houston to try to represent the Cape Cod refugee camp (I'm sorry if this offends anyone, but I can't think of another word for it) down there.

She reported a scene of total disorganization and chaos --- but one of the biggest problems was that the people who evacuated themselves in their own vehicles, as provided for in the city plan, are finding it impossible to obtain FEMA services of just about any kind.

(Other salient points from the interview: the people who have already arrived at Cape Cod were not told where they were going; that squares with other mainstream accounts; e.g. this one, about people who got on a plane and were surprised to find themselves in Utah when it landed. Also, she reports a widespread worry among the evacuees that they won't be allowed back. They apparently know their local grandees well, viz. one James Reiss, who is plotting with the other members of the superhuman krewe to have their agents arrange exactly that...)

#194 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 02:38 PM:


I'm not sure what you mean about there not being a shelter director, medical setup -- the Superdome had all those things, I recall interviews from it at the time of the storm and after, discussing medical setup et al.

#195 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 05:49 PM:

The evacuees who were flown to DC were told where they were going after the plane took off. Some arranged ways to go right back to NO.

#196 ::: Lrr ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 10:21 PM:

ll f ths s tht stpd vl Bsh's flt. H stl th lctn nd my rctn t. Bsh csd th ttcks 4 yrs g jst s h cld g kll Sddmn fr hs dddy. Bsh csd glbl wrmng nd tht csd ths bd ss hrrcn. f t s bd blm t n Bsh r Chny!

#197 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 12:21 AM:

Yeah. FEMA's had this weird thing going where they demand that people not tell the evacuees where the plane or bus is going until it's too late. There's a continuing thread, in FEMA's directly controlled camps and other functions, of treating the displaced as enemies.

#198 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 12:31 AM:

Has there been a figure released telling the public how many people died while in the 'safety' of the convention center and the superdome? I can't seem to find one - and would have to imagine the government is going to bury that number so no one ever sees it.

#199 ::: pl Brnstn ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 01:00 PM:

W nd t rlz tht ths hrrcn s bd nws fr th Bshkn crwd. f ths hrrcn wld f hppnd 3 yrs frm nw w wld b grrntd tht Hllry wld b n th Wht Hs fr 8 wndrfl yrs. Nbdy wnts nthr hrrcn r nthr Bshkn n th Wht Hs s lts ll kp ths s r tlkng pnt ntl smthng ls bd hppns tht s csd by r cn t lst b blmd n th Rpblcns nd thr by ldr Grg Bsh.

#200 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 02:43 PM:

Uhm, "Opel Bernstein" - One hates to make assumptions, and I'm happy to be wrong. But it looks very much like you're attempting a Mission Impossible caper wearing Groucho glasses and a plastic bowler.

#201 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 04:49 PM:

To those who were asking what a group of paramedics were doing not rushing to the Superdome and offering their help:

It seems to me that by being part of a group that ranged in size from 80 to 500 was helping. No, it wasn't helping at the Superdome, but I don't doubt it made a difference in the lives of the people they got organized with. I suspect there are several ways having people with first responder skills helped the people who were sheltering under a freeway, or in a hotel whose conditions were fast growing unliveable, and all the places between.

#202 ::: Mjr Dck ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 09:08 AM:

wld lk fw wrds wth pl Brnstn pls. pl r y crck smkng Bsh vtr r rcrtnl drg sng Lbrl bgt? Pndr my qstn fr 5 mnts r ntl y sht r snrt gn. Mjr Dck dtcts thr ws ss nfltrtr frm th rght wng scks r y my jst b nthr brkn slln wstd Lbrl mnd. Whch s t btch? Y r drvng m nts snc yr pst. Lt m st y strght pl Brnstn. W hv bn t f pwr fr 25 yrs nd brkn ld Lbrl rtrds lk y d nt mk th rtkng f mrc frm th Chrstn rght wng pnty wst ny lss dffclt. Wth vry pssng 4 yrs thy gn mr strngth. Bsh dd nt cs th hrrcn. Bt Bsh cld f dn bttr jb mkng sr tht tht dt myr nd gvrnr thr ld thr ppls t sfty r styd th hll t f th wy. Fr tht yr Bsh s prnncd glty s chrgd nd w cn blm hm nd h ccpts th blm. f Clntn r Gr r Krry ws th Prsdnt s w ll knw shld f bn th cs w mght f stll hd th hrrcn bt t wld f nvr bn ths wfl. Th cln r plcs f Lbrl dmnstrtn wld f lrdy trnd th crnr n th wrmng f r cns wtrs. Ths hrrcn wld f jst bn nthr ctgry 1 strm. Th prf s n th pddng s sy. Thr r mr Lbrl ppl lng th st cst thn n th 3rd wrld r 3rd cst cnsrvtv rs. Prpr clmtc plcs lng r st cst hv rstrd crbs, fsh, nd lwrd th tmprtr f th tlntc cn by 25 dgrs whch wll kp r hrrcns t ctgry 1 strms. s spk th Crln cst s xprncng ctgry 1 strm wth nly 12 - 15 nchs f rn. N lvy hs fld hr! Wtch hw qckly Bsh cms wth fr mny ths tm. t dsn't mttr. f w cldn't rlct Clntn 3rd tm thn y cn't rlct Bsh thr, BTCH!

#203 ::: Brltt ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 09:20 AM:

Cn nybdy vrfy f ths s tr bt Hllry?

THS WLL PN YR YS. By Pl Hrvy - Cnvnntly Frgttn Fcts Bck n 1969 grp f Blck Pnthrs dcdd tht fllw blck pnthr nmd... lx Rckly ndd t d. Rckly ws sspctd f dslylty.

Rckly ws frst td t chr. nc sfly mmblzd, hs frnds trtrd hm fr hrs by, mng thr thngs, prng blng wtr n hm.

Whn thy gt trd f trtrng Rckly, Blck Pnthr mmbr, Wrrn Kmb tk Rckly tsd nd pt bllt n hs hd.

Rckly's bdy ws ltr fnd fltng n rvr bt 25 mls nrth f Nw Hvn, Cnn.

Prhps t ths pnt y'r crs s t wht hppnd t ths Blck Pnthrs.

n 1977, tht's nly ght yrs ltr, nly n f th kllrs ws stll n jl. Th shtr, Wrrn Kmbr, mngd t gt schlrshp t Hrvrd nd bcm gd frnds wth nn thr thn l Gr. H ltr bcm n ssstnt dn t strn Cnnctct Stt Cllg.

sn't tht smthng?

s '60s rdcl y cn pmp bllt nt smn's hd, nd fw yrs ltr, n th sm stt, y cn bcm n ssstnt cllg dn!

nly n mrc!

rc Hggns ws th ldy wh srvd th Pnthrs by blng th wtr fr Mr. Rckly's trtr. Sm yrs ltr Ms. Hggns ws lctd t Clfrn Schl Brd.

Hw n th wrld d y thnk ths kllrs gt ff s sy?

Myb t ws n sm prt d t th ffrts f tw ppl wh cm t th dfns f th Pnthrs. Ths tw ppl ctlly wnt s fr s t sht dwn Yl nvrsty wth dmnstrtns n dfns f th ccsd Blck Pnthrs drng thr trl.

n f ths ppl ws nn thr thn Bll Ln L. Mr. L, r Mr. Ln L, s th cs my b, sn't cllg dn. H sn't mmbr f Clfrn Schl Brd. H s nw hd f th S Jstc Dprtmnt's Cvl Rghts Dvsn, ppntd by nn thr thn Bll Clntn.

.K., s wh ws th thr Pnthr dfndr?

s ths thr ntbl Pnthr dfndr nw schl brd mmbr?

s ths thr Pnthr plgst nw n ssstnt cllg dn? N, nthr!

Th thr Pnthr dfndr ws, lk L, rdcl lw stdnt t Yl nvrsty t th tm. Sh s nw knwn s Th "smrtst wmn n th wrld"

Sh s nn thr thn th Dmcrtc sntr frm th Stt f Nw Yrk----r frmr Frst Ldy, th ncrdbl Hllry Rdhm Clntn.

nd nw, s Pl Hrvy sd; Y knw "th rst f th stry."

Pss ths n! Ths dsrvs th wdst pssbl prss.

ls rmmbr t, f nd whn sh rns fr Prsdnt.

#204 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 10:31 AM:

First, it's completely off topic.

Second, what became of various defendants in criminal trials after their release from prison doesn't have anything to do with Clinton. Are you saying that defendants aren't entitled to a defense? I have a document right here called the US Constitution -- you may have heard of it? -- that says otherwise.

Third, it's completely false, right down to the attribution to Paul Harvey.

Let me fill you in on a couple of facts: First, when the trials you're referring to took place Hillary Rodham wasn't a lawyer. She was a law student. She didn't participate in the defense of any of the folks mentioned in your screed. She was involved in the defense of Bobby Seales, who wasn't present at the crime described. She organized groups of Yale students to observe the trial.

Lan Lee wasn't even a law student, nor did he participate in the trials or defense in any way. He was an undergraduate at Yale who had the nerve to say that he didn't think that people who weren't involved should be tried.

Oh -- the demonstrations that "shut down Yale University"? They never happened.

Why didn't you check this out yourself, Berletta of the False Email Address?

This is the sort of garbage the right-wing always tries, trotting out false stories to try to bury the entirely true information about Bush and his friends' malfeasances.

Isn't it true that the real thing that offends you about Hillary is that she called for a bi-partisan commission to investigate the federal response to Katrina and to make recommendations to improve?

#205 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 10:42 AM:

More: I decided to go see who or what "Berletta" is.

It's a right-wing troll, is what.

This isn't the first time it's posted.

"Berletta" is also Larry, Opel Bernstein, and Major Dick, all in this thread. With the "Opel Bernstein" and "Major Dick" personae it used the ever-popular "sockpuppet flaming itself" trick.

"Major Dick" et al. is posting from

And now, as Paul Harvey would say, you know the rest of the story.

#206 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 10:47 AM:

"Major Dick" did sound a bit, um, unbalanced. "Opel" certainly didn't merit the degree of vehemence he used. And both posts sounded extremely stilted. (The Hillary-haters can be very strange indeed: I saw a letter once from someone who was cancelling their subscription to Threads because they'd done a story about Hillary's inaugural gown.)

#207 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 11:49 AM:

Why the wingnuts have started attacking Hillary (again):

From CNN:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Republicans on Wednesday scuttled an attempt by Sen. Hillary Clinton to establish an independent, bipartisan panel patterned after the 9/11 Commission to investigate what went wrong with federal, state and local governments' response to Hurricane Katrina.

The New York Democrat's bid to establish the panel -- which would have also made recommendations on how to improve the government's disaster response apparatus -- failed to win the two-thirds majority needed to overcome procedural hurdles.

"Just as with 9/11, we did not get to the point where we believed we understood what happened until an independent investigation was conducted," Clinton said.


The 9/11 Commission was established in 2002 after resistance from Republicans and the White House, and opinion polls show the public strongly supports the idea.

In a CNN/USA Today Gallup poll taken September 8-11, 70 percent of those surveyed supported an independent panel to investigate the government's response to Katrina. Only 29 percent were opposed.


See also The Greatest Generation here at Making Light.

#208 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 12:12 PM:

It's like turning on the light and watching the cockroaches skitter.

#209 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 01:29 PM:

Thanks, James.

I wonder if the "Major Dick" post was a kind of plant that would allow him to point to Making Light and say "look what kind of jerks hang out there and look what they're saying about us!"

#210 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 06:03 PM:

This thread is getting hit by sockpuppets and disinformationists. I'll take that as a compliment, but they're still getting disemvowelled as soon as I get home.

Paula, some of those comments were far too long. I see the impulse, and honor you for it, but that's a heavy burden to lay on a conversation.

What's been remarkable, in my opinion, has been the persistence of basic civility in this long and emotionally charged thread. Good on yez, and hurrah for the social contract.

#211 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 06:17 PM:

Leadership vacuum stymied aid offers

(CNN) -- As violence, death and misery gripped New Orleans and the surrounding parishes in the days after Hurricane Katrina, a leadership vacuum, bureaucratic red tape and a defensive culture paralyzed volunteers' attempts to help.

Doctors eager to help sick and injured evacuees were handed mops by federal officials who expressed concern about legal liability. Even as violence and looting slowed rescues, police from other states were turned back while officials squabbled over who should take charge of restoring the peace.

Warehouses in New Orleans burned while firefighters were diverted to Atlanta for Federal Emergency Management Agency training sessions on community relations and sexual harassment. Water trucks languished for days at FEMA's staging area because the drivers lacked the proper paperwork.

#212 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 06:20 PM:


I've been thinking about taking one of those social contracts out on someone. Can you help?

#213 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 09:54 PM:

There now. Much better.

Wonderlane, this is a discussion thread, not a public bulletin board where one posts announcements. I'm not sure I still won't go back and apply traumatic compression to that post of yours.

Alex, and everyone else who argued with Ben, you were kinder than he deserved.

As those of you know who've been reading ML for a while, I don't normally feel any obligation to explain disciplinary actions I undertake as moderator. This time around, I still don't feel any obligation to explain. However, I just did several disemvowellings for different reasons, and I'd like the moral lessons to be clear.

In all cases, the offending comments were that person's first appearance here. I'm much less tolerant in those cases. I'll take a fair amount of guff from someone who's trying to be part of the conversation, but I have no tolerance for drive-bys.

Mln Flds (formerly Melanie Fields), for having no perceptible prior existence; for using a nonfunctional e-mail address; for dumping a stupid, irrelevant, and mendacious screed here; and for re-posting someone else's article in its entirely.

Brndn (formerly Brandon), for being a seriously inept sockpuppet devised by a racist.

Phl Byrm (formerly Phil Byrum) may or may not be real, but he's grievously rude, and a sloppy, inept reader.

Dptyhdmstrss (formerly Deputyheadmistress) is almost certainly real, but she driveby-posted a piece of deliberate disinformation that's currently being seeded all over the net: the thoroughly false claim that local officials, not FEMA, were responsible for keeping relief workers out of New Orleans. Since there were literally scores of reports from multiple sources that all said it was FEMA, I don't consider it a matter of opinion.

Lrry, Mjr Dck, Brltt, and pl Brnstn (formerly Larry, Major Dick, Berletta, and Opel Bernstein) were sockpuppets. That is, one person was behind all their posts. I don't know who that person is, but heesh is a lousy writer in very much the same style as Brndn.

As OG said, Dptyhdmstrss's post (and the rest of this crap) is in the nature of "viral marketing." Jim Macdonald tells me the campaign started kicking in around 09 September. I'm seeing contrived falsehoods being planted all over the place. I suspect that's why we've gotten hit by such inept disinformationists: the job's too big for the regular pros, so their employers are having to pull in temps who don't know what they're doing.

#214 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2005, 10:52 PM:

Thank you for the disemvowelling; I do believe they needed that. Now if it could just be made contagious to their employers -- !

#215 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2005, 11:14 AM:

tavella ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 02:38 PM:


I'm not sure what you mean about there not being a shelter director, medical setup -- the Superdome had all those things, I recall interviews from it at the time of the storm and after, discussing medical setup et al.

I hadn't noticed that; if the stuff I heard/saw had it it passed me by (I'm not saying that it wasn't there, but rather than it escaped me, which isn't all that unlikely to have happened. Or, I was conflating the Superdome with the Convention Center). The convention center, though, the people who had been there who were interviewed, said that there was nobody there official at all involved.

I saw part of ABC's coverage last night with Ted Koppel, an official said that with 200 police and tens of thousands of displaced people at the Superdome and Convention Center and elsewhere, that the city of New Orleans was unable to send people/enough people out to where there was a need, that there were far too few city trained workers for the enormous number of people seeking shelter and refuge. A New Orleans official said that the city got people to gathering points, but that the feds failed their responsibility for evacuating gathered populace to safety/dry land/food/water/medical care.

Things I was trying to find included who was responsible for what, what the procedures were supposed to be, what the process was supposed to be, etc.--where was the delineation of responsibilities for what, and devolution of responsibilities? And how were things to be accomplished?

Years of doing things like requirements analysis, writing specs, reading specs and digging out information about what was in there explicitly and what should have been in there to enable "features and functionality" "required," writing up material that included proposals and test plans, etc., can get me test about documents which are mostly surface gloss but which when looked at with an eye towards "and what does this mean/do/how does one implement it?" have the consistency of aged acidic wood pulp paper--comes apart as you read it.

#216 ::: Robert Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2005, 08:20 PM:

It seems to me, that there are lot of opinions out here that do not have any real proof as to what actually happened at the time of this incident. We seem to have become a community that lives for rumors. I for one, am going to let the smoke settle and see what was exactly said. I sat with one of the Gretna representatives yesterday and saw a video of mr. Nagin telling his refuges that there were buses, food, and safe housing centers on the west bank of the river. Unfortunately, while he was making up this fairy tale, he forgot to let the west bank know. I have talked to Gretna policemen, Jefferson Parish policemen, and National guardsment that were at the site and their account differs quite a bit from what I see on the media. Why were there no interviews from the actual law enforcement participants? After watching some of the "reporting" that the media has put forth, I will regard any future information with a grain of salt, or treat it as I would any other piece of fiction.

#217 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2005, 08:54 PM:

Fair enough, Robert. Would you lend your voice to support a bipartisan commission with subpoena powers to investigate what did and did not happen, much like the Roberts Commission (December 1941-January 1942) that investigated the Pearl Harbor attack while memories were still fresh and people and documents were available?

#218 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 03:29 PM:

Remember upstream a bit where I quoted:

Doctors eager to help sick and injured evacuees were handed mops by federal officials who expressed concern about legal liability. Even as violence and looting slowed rescues, police from other states were turned back while officials squabbled over who should take charge of restoring the peace.

Well, there's more, from a different source:

Doctor says FEMA ordered him to stop treating hurricane victims By LAURIE SMITH ANDERSON Advocate staff writer

In the midst of administering chest compressions to a dying woman several days after Hurricane Katrina struck, Dr. Mark N. Perlmutter was ordered to stop by a federal official because he wasn't registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"I begged him to let me continue," said Perlmutter, who left his home and practice as an orthopedic surgeon in Pennsylvania to come to Louisiana and volunteer to care for hurricane victims. "People were dying, and I was the only doctor on the tarmac (at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport) where scores of nonresponsive patients lay on stretchers. Two patients died in front of me.

"I showed him (the U.S. Coast Guard official in charge) my medical credentials. I had tried to get through to FEMA for 12 hours the day before and finally gave up. I asked him to let me stay until I was replaced by another doctor, but he refused. He said he was afraid of being sued. I informed him about the Good Samaritan laws and asked him if he was willing to let people die so the government wouldn't be sued, but he would not back down. I had to leave."

There's more if you follow the link. This just keeps getting better....

#219 ::: Ford Johnson ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 05:10 PM:

This story was from an interview on the NPR program, This American Life, the 9/9/05 Episode 296 program Act 2. I encourage you to listen to all the acts. I volunteered 3 weeks for the American red Cross in Baton Rouge and was very moved by these pieces.

#220 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 05:36 PM:

JDM - That MD story - I think it'll be used not to point out FEMA (and GOP) incompetence. Instead, it'll be used to drive for still more tort reform. After all, we're all afraid of the big bad lawyer.

In a just society, the FEMA official would face some sort of criminal charge because his actions were the proximate cause of at least one death.

#221 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2005, 05:37 PM:

Ford, did you stay for three weeks by your choice or theirs? I mean, did you have a choice to stay longer or leave earlier? -- Could you have stayed longer if you had wanted to/been in a position to do so?

I'm asking because I've got somebody down in Gulfport and I'm wondering if there's any open-endedness at all in his assignment.

#222 ::: David Goldfarb finds more comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2005, 08:17 PM:

In a language I don't know. What's this "0ON Ben ladena" stuff?

#225 ::: fidelio contemplates more gnomic spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2006, 07:27 PM:

Jeezle pete!

#226 ::: Sugar sees comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2006, 06:59 AM:

#227-232. This is the second lot I've seen today. What is it about Thanksgiving?

#227 ::: fidelio find the thread up to the ears in spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 12:24 PM:

See spam. See spam collect on lots of threads. Why do spammers not die now? Die, spammers, die.

#229 ::: Fragano Ledgister asks plaintively ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 01:39 PM:

... for a recipe for roast rack of spammer.

#230 ::: David Goldfarb notes still more spam on yet another thread ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2006, 04:24 AM:


#231 ::: Renatus sees yet more spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2009, 04:17 PM:

It doesn't matter if you hit old threads, spammers; we still see you.

#232 ::: Cadbury Moose sights comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2009, 04:18 PM:

disguised as a compliment, no less

#233 ::: eric sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 05:50 PM:

yet another one.

#234 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 06:02 PM:

Same email address too, judging from the VAB. Seven spam comments and counting.

#235 ::: [спам удален] ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2010, 08:23 PM:

[Опубликовано из]

#236 ::: Xopher translates SPAM after Mary Aileen points it out ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2010, 09:38 PM:

"Will place your ad on 5000 boards in just 5 to communicate wmz"

So it's not only spam, it's advertising a vile service.

#237 ::: [ spam deleted ] ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2010, 09:40 PM:

[ posted from ]

#238 ::: Fade Manley sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2010, 09:51 PM:

At #241. It is spamalicious.

Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.