September 3, 2005


Here's what New Orleans's future might look like if it had, or had ever had, decent political leadership.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 3, 2005 10:13 AM

Jeb is very capable and could probably be a great leader, but for the fact that his heart's not in it. Remember how he had the fuel trucks, power company trucks, truck removal trucks etc. all lined up a the Georgia border waiting for the word to move. It was very effective both in actually helping the situation and for public relations.

We saw many convoys driving south. People were beeping their horns eager to let them know how much we appreciated their efforts. Wherever the crews went, people would stop to thank them with cold drinks and snacks. In restaurants either the proprietor would give them the food on the house, or one of the other diners would pick up the tab.

We had clean up crews here working round the clock. As a section was cleared, the dump trucks were right behind them picking up the debris. Sure they were well paid, but they performed heroically and it was well worth whatever it cost.

I don't know where Jeb's real interests lie, but it's clear that sees his job as a chore. A chore he'll do very well and willing, but a chore nevertheless.

Posted by: erp [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 3, 2005 3:18 PM

1) Florida was a swing state in a close election when the hurricanes hit there. Their governor was the brother of the president up for reelection. Any comparative analysis of the disaster mobilizations in Florida and Louisiana that doesn't take this into account is idiotic.

2) In any event the whole point of how Bush set up the Department of Homeland Security was to explictly federalize responsibility for exactly these kind of disasters. See this screen shot of the DHS web site:
Note please the words "primary responsibility." Any nonsense peddled by the right about this being a state/local responsibility has been rendered inoperative by the administration's own propaganda.

Note also that they put this primary responsibility in the hands of the administrator for a horse-breeding association, Michael Brown, who was fired.

3) Thus the main question: when Al Qaeda next attacks the U.S., do you really trust the GOP to protect you.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at September 3, 2005 3:48 PM


The government can't protect you from al Qaeda or hurricanes, no matter how perfect you think the State could be. It's that attitude, that the feds will take care of every aspect of life and keep you from harm, that has infantilized you and your party.

Of course, it was your Daddy, George W. Bush, who hectored the Democratic Mayor and Governor into ordering an evacuation, so maybe the lesson is that Bluer States do need to hope the feds ride to the rescue?

Posted by: oj at September 3, 2005 4:22 PM

We should have the minimal expecation that the government won't make things worse. That is precisely what has happened here: FEMA has ordered the Red Cross to stay away out of an insane interpretation of "moral hazard" (that, somehow, getting bottle water and granola bars will make people want to stay in the city, even attract people to the city); and at the same time military personnel are not ALLOWING people to leave the city, out of bad coordination or whatever. If the federal government had conspired to keep as many people dead as possible they couldn't have done a better job.

Call me crazy, but as a citizen I demand better.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at September 3, 2005 4:32 PM

The smoking gun that proves you're either making something up or passing on some right-wing propaganda from someone who's making something up--a letter from the state DIRECTLY TO THE PRESIDENT dated August 28 begging him to help expedite evacuation.

You have nowhere to go on this one.

I hope people a reading this thread. Anyone want to pipe in to try to defend Orrin?

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at September 3, 2005 4:39 PM

The federal response has been about what you'd expect, this is how disasters look, especially in a place where there's no civil society to speak of and corrupt and incompetent local government. Of course, if you understand events only emotionally then every rumor or mistake you hear about gets blown into a mountain. As a citizen I demand that my fellow citizens take at least a lkittle responsibility for their own lives.

Posted by: oj at September 3, 2005 4:40 PM


Yes, that's the order the President urged her to issue. That';s how a federal system works. The point is he had to browbeat her intoi it.

Posted by: oj at September 3, 2005 4:43 PM

Are lefties absolutely incapable of understanding the logistics of dealing with an emergency like this?

Or do they understand quite well and yet cynically go about attacking the President anyway?

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at September 3, 2005 4:51 PM

I have no idea how you walk this tightrope in your head, intellectually, morally, psychologically.

The trajectory of Katrina on Saturday evening was not clear enough to pinpoint where in the swath between Louisiana and NW Florida it would strike. The storm changed from Cat-3 to Cat-5 overnight, and the NWS did not categorize the storm as Cat-5 until 7AM Sun 28 Aug ( and only had raised it to Cat-4 at 1AM ( The mayor of New Orleans gave the order to raise the evacuation order from volunatary to mandatory at 1025 AM Sunday, less than four hours after it was raised to Cat-5. Now, unless these officials were up all night (including the president) how can you construct a timeline in which it is the president is having to force either the Governor of Louisiana or the Mayor to raise the evacuation level from voluntary to mandatory?

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at September 3, 2005 4:58 PM

I hate to start finger pointing after a major catestrophe such as this (unlike the MSM, bloggers, politicians, etc). But as the story unfolds it becomes pretty clear that the LA state and local organization was poorly organized and unprepared. Rick can spin what he wants but even Blanco said at her press conference that Bush urged her to start the evacuation. Also yesterday on the web there was a picture of hundreds of school buses that were not used for evacuation and are now flooded and useless - that gives you a pretty good sense of how prepared the NO govt. was.

Posted by: AWW at September 3, 2005 5:00 PM


By reading the Mayor and Governor's own accounts and the newspaper:

Of course, the one excuse the Mayor offers which is absolutely true and entirely acceptable is that he didn't think he could order folks out without trampling their "civil liberties." An totalitarian government could evacuate people without such concerns, but who would want one? oops, never mind...

Posted by: oj at September 3, 2005 5:25 PM

Shh. no one tell Rcik that the feds hired Halliburton for the storm cleanup. Bet it was a no bid contract.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at September 3, 2005 5:27 PM


That's the great thing--who do you think would have been hired, now will be hired, for construction projects as big as N.O. required? The only companies that do such work are tied to the GOP.

Posted by: oj at September 3, 2005 5:33 PM


One even more amusing thing than usual about your comment, in your haste to be able to accuse Bush of something you suggest that it was proper not to prepare for the Hurricane at moments it weakened, but necessary to make haste whenever it strengthened, while at the same time dismissing the idea officials should have been monitoring it closely. You pretty much make the case for the type response we ended up with--good enough for government work.

Posted by: oj at September 3, 2005 5:45 PM

This is all fine, guys, until you realize that your one spin contradicts the other: Bush is the hero who insisted on evacuation; Bush himself saying no one could have anticipated the levee breaking.

Yes, LA is corrupt. But Harry Truman kept a sign on his desk: "The buck stops here." They called that "leadership." Bush makes only excuses. After--the original point, which no one has answered--setting up HSA specifically and explicitly to FEDERALIZE disaster relief.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at September 3, 2005 5:46 PM

The Navy asked Halliburton to help clean up their naval facilities the region. It was based on contract signed in with the Navy in 2004 for just such a contingency, and yes it was bidded on.

Posted by: Gideon at September 3, 2005 5:51 PM


Bush wasn't a hero--why do you guys always think of government figures as saviors?--just not the goat. Obviously the Mayor and Governor should have had at least as much sense as the President and ordered the evacuation on their own, but it didn't take heroism to figure that out. We got pretty much the response we should expect to a disaster from the bloated bureaucracy we've set up at the federal level and the corrupt administrations at the local level.

The buck stopped with Bush who termed his own agencies efforts unacceptable and stepped them up. All of the relief that's getting through and the restoration of order is coming from the Federal government. The locals were a disaster themselves. Reports today are that things are going reasonably well. Five days is as good as anyone would expect in an event of this magnitude. This is after all the same Federal government that thought Iraq had WMDs, is bogged down in a quagmire, ran out of flu vaccine, caused the Savings and Loan scandal, has Medicare and Social Security teetering, "built" the Big Dig, blows up space shuttles, runs the Agriculture, Commerce, etc. Departments.... This is what big government looks like.

Posted by: oj at September 3, 2005 5:54 PM

Gideon: I was joking.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at September 3, 2005 6:45 PM

Apparently all local and state governments should now fall under the complete and permanent care of the federal govenment. Saddam Hussein is not doing anything at the moment, perhaps we should put him in charge.

Posted by: andy at September 3, 2005 7:10 PM

Rick - yes the Buck stops with the President. But if my house burns down because the local fire dept is inept is it Bush's fault? If the roads in my state are unpassable for a week because the governor didn't prepare for a predicted snowstorm is that Bush's fault? Get real. As OJ said Bush isn't a hero but he's not the goat here.

Posted by: AWW at September 3, 2005 7:22 PM

erp: I live in the St. Petersburg area. How do you come to the conclusion that Jeb doesn't have his heart in it? That was a strange post you made. Personally, I don't get any such notion that Jeb just thinks his job is a chore. Maybe some links would bolster your claim?

Posted by: Buttercup at September 3, 2005 7:25 PM

Ah, here's the debate I was looking for.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at September 3, 2005 8:02 PM

buttercup. There aren't any links. This isn't an indictment. I like Jeb and give him full credit for leadership. Now that we know what lack of leadership looks like (Blanco in LA), we can appreciate his efforts even more.

I probably should have said, in my opinion, he doesn't 'seem' to have his heart in it. I don't think he looks at ease. He looks to me like a guy who can't wait to get home, put his feet up and watch the ballgame.

Again, I stress this is merely an opinion based on observations of Jeb's television appearances.

Posted by: erp [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 3, 2005 8:53 PM

Rick, strange you mention Truman positively.

Wasn't he the monster who signed off on dropping Little Boy on defenseless women and children in Hiroshima and them, oh the humanity, authorized Fat Man to be dropped on Nagasaki?

Posted by: erp [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 3, 2005 9:06 PM

erp: Sounds a bit as if you suffer from Reaganitis. My DH has this syndrome. Its where you remember the Great Communicator and all else fall short. Which they do of course. If Jeb was really good on tv he'd be in Hollywood, instead of politics, because he is good looking. And his son is even better looking. Not that that matters, of course. I mean, I hardly ever notice good looks beyond the dazzling masculine perfection of my DH.

Posted by: Buttercup at September 3, 2005 9:26 PM

Thus the main question: when Al Qaeda next attacks the U.S., do you really trust the GOP to protect you.

Rick: you do realize that the instant you begin to hold the government accountable for anything more than simply expanding its own reach, you've joined the GOP. Welcome aboard.

Posted by: joe shropshire at September 3, 2005 9:30 PM

Mr. Shropshire is correct. Welcome to the Dark Side!

Posted by: Buttercup at September 3, 2005 9:39 PM


Posted by: erp [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 3, 2005 10:02 PM

Dear Husband

Posted by: Buttercup at September 3, 2005 10:03 PM

NO didn't follow their 2000 plan. AND they reviewed it last year after Ivan.

If you tell people to to to X, maybe you should have some supplies on hand or tell them to grab what they can and bring it?

And when exactly did our ships out of Norfolk get under way and how long did it take for them to fuel, stock and people up?

Even tho homeland has "primary responsibility" it's the states which control their National Guard units, see case which PA just won against DOD.

She had to ask for troops. She took too long.


Of course, we actually might harken back to the 1992 election and Andrew as to a reason why Jeb handled it the way he did.

Some might actually learn from history.

The states are willing to protect their turf when it suits them, LA isn't ready for prime time.

The Reverend wanted 500 buses and gas and the mayor had them at his disposal all along.

And the jails were emptied.

Anyone remember the name of the man who stayed knowing full well St. Helen's was going to blow?

Geez, after 9/11 we prepared an emergency kit. After this, we're beefing it up.

We learned our lesson after 9/11, Mr. Perlstein. Why didn't you?

Posted by: Sandy P at September 4, 2005 1:03 AM

Oh, and to answer your main question, Mr. P, would you prefer the UN and/or our "historic friends and allies?"

We gave up the monarchy 230 years ago. Unless you're suggesting a NG in every home? Oh, wait, the Constitution doesn't allow that.

Ohh, did Gov Blanco really refuse W's offer to take over disaster relief before Kat hit? Or do you prefer the jackboot nazi thugs to just ride roughshod over states' rights?

Posted by: Sandy P at September 4, 2005 1:22 AM

The guy at St.Helens was...

Harry Truman.

He made his choices and lived with the consequences (so to speak).

As for Sandy P's questions above, I've come to the conclusion people like Mr.Perlman don't care about the answers to your questions, or care about consistency any more. All they care about is that they aren't in control, and see Bushitler as the reason, and he must be removed, "by any means necessary". A whole political party and philosophy has become little more than a crime syndicate (or to be charitable, a city machine.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 4, 2005 12:33 PM