September 5, 2005

MISTER, WE COULD USE A MAN LIKE EUGENE SCHMITZ AGAIN...:

The ugly truth: Why we couldn’t save the people of New Orleans (Errol Louis, September 4, 2005, NY Daily News)

In far too many cities, including New Orleans, the marching orders on the front lines of American race relations are to control and contain the very poor in ghettos as cheaply as possible; ignore them completely if possible; and call in the troops if the brutes get out of line.

By almost every statistical measure, New Orleans is a bad place to be poor. Half the city's households make less than $28,000 a year, and 28% of the population lives in poverty.

In the late 1990s, the state's school systems ranked dead last in the nation in the number of computers per student (1 per 88), and Louisiana has the nation's second-highest percentage of adults who never finished high school. By the state's own measure, 47% of the public schools in New Orleans rank as "academically unacceptable."

And Louisiana is the only one of the 50 states where the state legislature doesn't allocate money to pay for the legal defense of indigent defendants. The Associated Press reported this year that it's not unusual for poor people charged with crimes to stay in jail for nine months before getting a lawyer appointed.

These government failures are not merely a matter of incompetence. Louisiana and New Orleans have a long, well-known reputation for corruption: as former congressman Billy Tauzin once put it, "half of Louisiana is under water and the other half is under indictment."

That's putting it mildly. Adjusted for population size, the state ranks third in the number of elected officials convicted of crimes (Mississippi is No. 1). Recent scandals include the conviction of 14 state judges and an FBI raid on the business and personal files of a Louisiana congressman.

In 1991, a notoriously corrupt Democrat named Edwin Edwards ran for governor against Republican David Duke, a former head of the Ku Klux Klan. Edwards, whose winning campaign included bumper stickers saying "Elect the Crook," is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for taking bribes from casino owners. Duke recently completed his own prison term for tax fraud.

The rot included the New Orleans Police Department, which in the 1990s had the dubious distinction of being the nation's most corrupt police force and the least effective: the city had the highest murder rate in America. More than 50 officers were eventually convicted of crimes including murder, rape and robbery; two are currently on Death Row.

The decision to subject an entire population to poverty, ignorance, injustice and government corruption as a way of life has its ugly moments, as the world is now seeing. New Orleans officials issued an almost cynical evacuation order in a city where they know full well that thousands have no car, no money for airfare or an interstate bus, no credit cards for hotels, and therefore no way to leave town before the deadly storm and flood arrived.

The authorities provided no transportation out of the danger zone, apparently figuring the neglected thousands would somehow weather the storm in their uninsured, low-lying shacks and public housing projects.


It's especially revealing that when the Left realized that making it a racial issue was blowing up in their faces they switched to outrage that the President hadn't basically declared martial law and had troops gun down looters. When San Francisco 1906 is your model government response, you need to stop calling the Republicans fascist.

MORE:
The Mayor Who Failed His City (Ben Johnson, September 6, 2005, FrontPageMagazine.com)

Despite these transparent attempts to claw political advantage from the suffering of the downtrodden – after the National Guard forgeries, Plamegate, and conspiratorial ravings about the Federalist Society won them no traction – a Washington Post poll revealed 55 percent of Americans do not blame President Bush for the debacle in the Big Easy.

Perhaps that is because the American people intuit it is not the federal response that should be monitored but that of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, a Democrat and, coincidentally, a black man.

In accordance with the “City of New Orleans Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan” – a blueprint drawn up to deal with emergencies like this one – all “Authority to issue evacuations of elements of the population is vested in the Mayor.” The document specifically states, “The person responsible for recognition of hurricane related preparation needs and for the issuance of an evacuation order is the Mayor of the City of New Orleans.” This outline does not mention any specific federal government’s role in disaster relief, instead carving out roles for state and municipal governments. In fact, as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld noted this holiday weekend, posse commitatus statutes bar federal officers from working as law enforcement officials.

Charged with so heavy a responsibility, Mayor Nagin punted, then passed the buck. The National Hurricane Center called Nagin Saturday night asking him to evacuate New Orleans, and President Bush also begged him to get his people to safety. As mayor, the final decision was Nagin's. He was expected to issue such an order 48 hours before the storm made landfall; however, the storm touched down and the levees gave way less than 48 hours after his proclamation.

Moreover, he is to see that “Special arrangements will be made to evacuate persons unable to transport themselves or who require specific life saving assistance.” Yet some 205 buses, and perhaps a greater number of large transit vehicles, were left stranded in a flooded parking lot. University of New Orleans professor Shirley Laksa had calculated some 125,000 residents do not have private transportation. As a result of Nagin’s inaction, Katrina’s victims are twice as likely to be poor than the average American. These are the people who had no recourse but to wait for the local government to rescue them; these are the people municipal malfeasance and nonfeasance abandoned to an ill-equipped Superdome.

Magic Marker Strategy (JOHN TIERNEY, 9/06/05, NY Times)
Mr. Bush made a lot of mistakes last week, but most of his critics are making an even bigger one now by obsessing about what he said and did. We can learn more by listening to men like Jim Judkins, particularly when he explains the Magic Marker method of disaster preparedness.

Mr. Judkins is one of the officials in charge of evacuating the Hampton Roads region around Newport News, Va. These coastal communities, unlike New Orleans, are not below sea level, but they're much better prepared for a hurricane. Officials have plans to run school buses and borrow other buses to evacuate those without cars, and they keep registries of the people who need special help.

Instead of relying on a "Good Samaritan" policy - the fantasy in New Orleans that everyone would take care of the neighbors - the Virginia rescue workers go door to door. If people resist the plea to leave, Mr. Judkins told The Daily Press in Newport News, rescue workers give them Magic Markers and ask them to write their Social Security numbers on their body parts so they can be identified.

"It's cold, but it's effective," Mr. Judkins explained.

That simple strategy could have persuaded hundreds of people to save their own lives in New Orleans. What the city needed most was coldly effective local leaders, not a president in Washington who could feel their pain.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 5, 2005 11:21 PM
Comments

The Mississippi runs a straighter course than the left in their attacks on Bush, though I suppose it is nice to know there are now conditions where they do want Chimpy McHitler to unilateraly turn parts of the nation into a police state, even if nobody else does.

Posted by: John at September 5, 2005 11:37 PM

They just keep flinging arguments against the wall, hoping one of them sticks. Ain't gonna happen boys.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at September 5, 2005 11:43 PM

Slash forced labor camp.

Posted by: oj at September 5, 2005 11:45 PM

I am getting to the point where I'm going to pop some popcorn, this is becoming a soap opera, via LGF:

An extraordinary interview with New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin, as he rolls over on Governor Kathleen Blanco: CNN.com - Transcripts. (Hat tip: dan.)

The pertinent part:

...NAGIN: They both shook I dont know the exact date. They both shook their head and said yes. I said, Great. I said, Everybody in this room is getting ready to leave. There was senators and his cabinet people, you name it, they were there. Generals. I said, Everybody right now, were leaving. These two people need to sit in a room together and make a doggone decision right now.

S. OBRIEN: And was that done?

NAGIN: The president looked at me. I think he was a little surprised. He said, No, you guys stay here. Were going to another section of the plane, and were going to make a decision.

He called me in that office after that. And he said, Mr. Mayor, I offered two options to the governor. I said and I dont remember exactly what. There were two options. I was ready to move today. The governor said she needed 24 hours to make a decision.

S. OBRIEN: Youre telling me the president told you the governor said she needed 24 hours to make a decision?

NAGIN: Yes.

S. OBRIEN: Regarding what? Bringing troops in?

NAGIN: Whatever they had discussed. As far as what the I was abdicating a clear chain of command, so that we could get resources flowing in the right places.

S. OBRIEN: And the governor said no.

NAGIN: She said that she needed 24 hours to make a decision. It would have been great if we could of left Air Force One, walked outside, and told the world that we had this all worked out. It didnt happen, and more people died.

Posted by: Sandy P at September 5, 2005 11:57 PM

Check out the July 24, 2005 Times-Picayune (TP) article on the New Orleans "evacuation plan". Instapundit has a link up via Brad DeLong's blog, and Drudge is also working on it. Short version: there was no local or state plan to evacuate the poor. None. Zip. Zero. Nada.

Actually, that's a tad unkind of me. They were working on a DVD telling the citizenry that they would be on their own in the event of a major hurricane. Scheduled production date for said DVD: September 1, 2005.

One of the interesting questions raised thereby: what happened to all the disaster preparedness money FEMA has given them?


Posted by: ghostcat at September 5, 2005 11:58 PM

...The decision to subject an entire population to poverty, ignorance, injustice and government corruption as a way of life has its ugly moments, as the world is now seeing.(This could be a separate topic, Mr. P)

New Orleans officials issued an almost cynical evacuation order in a city where they know full well that thousands have no car, no money for airfare or an interstate bus, no credit cards for hotels, and therefore no way to leave town before the deadly storm and flood arrived.

---

Ahem - found this at CQ:

Marc from Cranial Cavity notes that the issues of evacuation had come to light before in New Orleans, almost exactly a year ago, in the advance of Hurrican Ivan through the Gulf. This report demonstrates that the problem experienced this week in The Big Easy did not arise from ignorance or a failure of imagination, but directly from incompetence in the city administration and specifically by Mayor Ray Nagin:

SNIP

(I think this sums it up)

...Advocates for the poor were indignant.

"If the government asks people to evacuate, the government has some responsibility to provide an option for those people who can't evacuate and are at the whim of Mother Nature," said Joe Cook of the New Orleans ACLU.


Please note the date of this report: Septem(b)er 19, 2004....

----

Buses - 01/00 plan, what was it - pg 13 pp 5?

---

The only point Nagin made which has some merit is what if people don't want to leave?

Is the law going to force them out at gunpoint? Especially (in the large scope) after Kelo?

Posted by: Sandy P at September 6, 2005 12:08 AM

Besides, they did weather the storm, as they have done many times before, levees didn't break until Tuesday, right?

Posted by: Sandy P at September 6, 2005 12:09 AM

Sandy P: The timeline at Right Wing Nut House indicates the 17ty St. levee broke shortly before 11:00 A.M. on Monday.

Posted by: jd watson [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 6, 2005 1:27 AM

Ghostcat: I believe that N.O. *did* have an evacuation plan. It's even online. It called for the use of city buses to move people who didn't have transportation. But the mayor didn't follow the plan.

Posted by: PapayaSF at September 6, 2005 1:35 AM

PapayaSF:

Mark Steyn writes about the bus issue in his latest column, which is excellent as usual:


[New Orleans] has a lovely "Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan" for hurricanes. The only flaw in the plan is that the person charged with putting it into effect is the mayor. And he didn't. [...]

Consider the signature image of the flood: an aerial shot of 255 school buses neatly parked at one city lot, their fuel tanks leaking gasoline into the urban lake. An enterprising blogger, Bryan Preston, worked out that each bus had 66 seats, which meant that the vehicles at just that one lot could have ferried out 16,830 people. Instead of entrusting its most vulnerable citizens to the gang-infested faecal hell of the Superdome, New Orleans had more than enough municipal transport on hand to have got almost everyone out in a couple of runs last Sunday.

Why didn't they? Well, the mayor didn't give the order. OK, but how about school board officials, or the fellows with the public schools transportation department, or the guy who runs that motor pool, or the individual bus drivers? If it ever occurred to any of them that these were potentially useful evacuation assets, they kept it to themselves.

So the first school bus to escape New Orleans and make it to safety in Texas was one that had been abandoned on a city street. A party of sodden citizens, ranging from the elderly to an eight-day-old baby, were desperate to get out, hopped aboard and got teenager Jabbor Gibson to drive them 13 hours non-stop to Houston. He'd never driven a bus before, and the authorities back in New Orleans may yet prosecute him. For rescuing people without a permit?

Posted by: Matt Murphy at September 6, 2005 3:46 AM

Is there anything - any quibble too small or disaster too large - that doesn't turn into an ugly and bitter dispute between anti- and pro-Bush camps in America at the moment?

It really is extraordinary to behold.

Posted by: Brit at September 6, 2005 4:56 AM

Brit: Please do not pretend that this sort of thing did not happen after the London bombings. Actually, it sounds as if Bush is the only who has not gone a round of blame making in this whole disaster.

Also, with the level of corruption and entrenched poverty in New Orleans, maybe, just maybe, this flood will be the Herculean cleansing of the stables that has been way overdue.

There is a long line of people who failed, and it does no one, particularily the city of New Orleans, for them to wiggle out of it by blaming Bush. Landrieu, for example, says no one should question the police department or she'll punch them. Great. So a corrupt force which utterly failed in its job and which saw 120+ quit and turn their back on their city, should be exempt from criticism! What a way to make things better.

jd watson: The water, after the levee broke, did not immediately swamp the city. It took many hours for that water to submerge the city. It is not the rushing storm surge you hear about when a hurricane makes landfall, but a slower pouring into the bowl that is much of the city.

Posted by: Buttercup at September 6, 2005 6:36 AM

Brit, You're buying into the media's skewed coverage of the unnatural disaster. This isn't "an ugly and bitter dispute between anti- and pro-Bush camps" although you can't be faulted for thinking that it is.

People round the world who're getting their information from CNN have a particularly distorted picture. ">http://www.rogerlsimon.com/"> Roger L. Simon has been blogging from Japan where he's been on vacation with his family. From one of his posts, "I am returning with considerable contempt for CNN and continued (and growing) respect for my brothers and sisters in the blogosphere who have again covered a catastrophic situation with far more perspicacity and far more compassion than the self-regarding nabobs of cable television." Lots more on his blog about the difficulty of trying to stay informed while out of the country.

The media mantra -- everything is Bush's fault -- simplifies and clarifies moonbat thinking.

Posted by: erp [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 6, 2005 6:42 AM

Brit, You're buying into the media's skewed coverage of the unnatural disaster. This isn't "an ugly and bitter dispute between anti- and pro-Bush camps" although you can't be faulted for thinking that it is.

People round the world who're getting their information from CNN have a particularly distorted picture. ">http://www.rogerlsimon.com/"> Roger L. Simon has been blogging from Japan where he's been on vacation with his family. From one of his posts, "I am returning with considerable contempt for CNN and continued (and growing) respect for my brothers and sisters in the blogosphere who have again covered a catastrophic situation with far more perspicacity and far more compassion than the self-regarding nabobs of cable television." Lots more on his blog about the difficulty of trying to stay informed while out of the country.

The media mantra -- everything is Bush's fault -- simplifies and clarifies moonbat thinking.

Posted by: erp [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 6, 2005 6:42 AM

Buttercup:

Of course it didn't. At least, what I'm referring to didn't.

I'm talking about the sharp bipartite divisiveness in the US, which has been talked up for a while but now seems so extreme I find it quite difficult to understand.

In Britain the tradition is to generally dislike and distrust all politicians, but not viciously, and you begrudgingly vote for the least worst option.

We don't really have this culture of supporting politicians like sports teams: whereby if you're pro they can do no wrong, and if you're con, not only can they do no right, but they're actually to blame for all ills.

Posted by: Brit at September 6, 2005 6:49 AM

Brit:

The problem is that the Democrats correctly feel the ground they'd held for seventy years being shifted out from under them. Republicans too went pretty batty about FDR in the 30s.

Posted by: oj at September 6, 2005 7:16 AM

The other problem, of course, is Louisiana's political culture was shaped by Huey Long even before FDR took office, and it has only barely begun to change.

More and more stories are coming out, not just from Democrats, that indicate too many people at FEMA are more concerned about getting their paperwork in order first, before any aid is committed (Trent Lott was saying trucks being kept in Atlanta couldn't come to Mississippi until some sort of lease order was filled out). But what FEMA, the National Guard and the U.S. military can and can't do is only as good as the groundwork laid by state and local officials, and that's where 75 years of corrupt, incompetent government in Louisiana came home to roost, due to both a lack of pre-planning and a mindset at the state level that maintaining personal power was a determining factor on how quickly any federal aid would be requested.

Posted by: John at September 6, 2005 8:15 AM

I know what Brit means, although I don't share his bi-partisan take. To an outsider, the allegations of bad faith, dishonesty, conspiracy and corruption (as opposed to stupidity, laziness and incompetence) in American public debate fly so fast and so early that debate on issues tends to be joined at a level that closes off any subtlety or potential for serious analysis. One effect, seen this week, seems to be that it becomes very hard to criticize your own side with all the allegations of mendacity swirling around and so many ready to pounce and mis-quote. In that climate, such always has a whiff of disloyaltykind of like criticizing World War 11 in the middle of the Blitz.

(Of course, I say this coming from a country where everybody shrugs and grins and buys everyone a round of drinks in the face of real corruption and dishonesty, so no wonder Im taken aback).

After two years tracking things pretty closely here and elsewhere, Ive concluded the American left is far more corrosive and dangerous than its more (ideologically hidebound) European and (loony) British counterparts. All pretense of reason and civility is gone and they seem to be operating on pure visceral emotionand nasty ones at that. They will say anything and endanger anyone to discredit Bush. The NYT is just a cesspool
(here
is the last of the three stooges) and academia and leftist blogs are positively seditious. I realize, of course, that such is seen as all part of the culture of radical free speech and the revolutionary dream and that everyone assumes all will rally together if necessary. I hope thats true, but you sure do tear one another apart for a people once accurately described by an admiring Canadian as absurdly generous and ridiculously friendly.

Posted by: Peter B at September 6, 2005 8:34 AM

Peter:

Imagine what it will be like fifty years from now when Conervatives take over in Canada--you'll have the same derangement syndrome on the Left.

Posted by: oj at September 6, 2005 8:46 AM

Peter hits it on the head - that is, the perception we tend to have as outsiders.

The vitriol hurled at Bush by the left is absurd, of course. But only slightly less absurd is the blanket approval of his every decision by the right.

Over here, Labour voters grumble constantly about Blair's Government, and Tory voters grumble incessantly about their party, and there are a thousand shades of grumbling grey between. It's all just part of the game.

Lefty political satire and protest is popular here, but however cutting, it ultimately lacks the sheer hatred you see coming from the US Left.

And I'm sure there must be one or two examples, but I can't seem to remember reading anything much in the way of criticism of a single Bush action on the Judd pages.

It all seems a bit unnatural, somehow, on both sides. Where did the humour and mutual respect go?

Posted by: Brit at September 6, 2005 9:09 AM

Brit:

That's foolish. Everyone on the Right agrees signing CFR was anti-constitutional. People went nuts about No Child Left Behind, steel tariffs and the like. We've said repeatedly that the war in Iraq was trerribly mishandled and troops should have been out by Labor Day (if not Memorial Day) 2003--they never grasped that you can't occupy allies. The President has failed to deal with North Korea as forcefully as he should have, failed to support the VZ coup as effectively as he needed too, and should have removed Assad by now. Accepting the Department of Homeland Security was a mistake. Etc., etc., etc. It's just that folks on the Right are more likely to understand the Fallen nature of Man and the imperfections of politics and government better than the Left, which is utopian and believes in the State as a deity.


Posted by: oj at September 6, 2005 9:20 AM

But only slightly less absurd is the blanket approval of his every decision by the right

Sorry. I don't believe that Bush does get blanket approval by the right. Far from. What he does get, in spite of his imperfections (that's right! we know he's not perfect), is support from people who recognize that the US is at war and that Bush appears to be the only adult in the room. Moreover, it can only be expected that such a group would support him even more strongly in the face of the vile, venal, relentless, and often unscrupulous attacks upon him by a less than truthful media.

And the maelstrom following Katrina is more of the same, amplified to fever pitch by a media whose agenda it has been to consistently misrepresent his policies.

Might one suggest that in Britain, Blair's opponents on the left, and elsewhere perhaps, don't express viceral hate for Tony Blair (but merely grumble in his general direction, as dictated by "the rules of the game") because they're all too busy viscerally hating George Bush, whose blithering poodle Blair is purported to be?

(Though one might note that many of Blair's critics have even so been able to hold Blair responsible for bombing his own public transport system. Though this too, I suppose, might be construed as "grumbling.")

Posted by: Barry Meislin at September 6, 2005 9:42 AM

Where's Perlstein now?

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 6, 2005 9:53 AM

OJ:

Fair enough.

Though I still think that the US bipartisan element is far more marked than it is in most western places, as your last sentence illustrates. Our left/right divide is much fuzzier than yours: Blair being the Prime example.

(I might add that while the US Left might think the state is a Deity, I've read plenty on the Right thanking God for Bush, presumably because they think God put him there.)

Barry:

Ah you see, we don't do that whole 'support' thing.

You underestimate the British inability to take anything seriously until it's almost but not quite too late, which is both a strength and a weakness.

Apart from the obvious loony element, there's not that much visceral hatred of Bush here, as there is in mainland Europe. There is however, almost universal lampooning and derision.

Same goes for Blair. He's the most popular Prime Minister for ages, and we all think he's rubbish.

Posted by: Brit at September 6, 2005 9:59 AM

jim:

Working on the Left's next comparison--W should have ordered that an Ark be built....

Posted by: oj at September 6, 2005 10:00 AM

I don't think God put Bush there, but I thank God he is there. See the difference.

Posted by: erp [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 6, 2005 10:07 AM

erp:

Not really. Unless the latter statement is empty, like saying "Phew!"

Posted by: Brit at September 6, 2005 10:18 AM

What does the Department of Homeland Security do?

Posted by: Hugh at September 6, 2005 10:24 AM

Brit, there are thousands of Dems who didn't vote for W but thanked God he was in office, too.

Now do you see the difference?

What does DHS do?

Guess we're going to find out.

Posted by: Sandy P at September 6, 2005 10:29 AM

Hugh:

Take an issue away from Democrats.

Posted by: oj at September 6, 2005 10:31 AM

Well, I can see the difference when you mean thank God as in "Oh, thank God for that!", but not when you mean thank God as in "Dear Lord, thank you for our President. Amen".

Posted by: Brit at September 6, 2005 10:36 AM

Brit:

God Created George Bush even if we elected him. You would presumably thank Nature for him?

Posted by: oj at September 6, 2005 10:41 AM

Criticism of the federal government's response is also coming from some unlikely sources including the Pentagon. Lt. Commander Sean Kelly, a Pentagon spokesman for Northern Command, revealed on the BBC that NorthCom was prepared to send in search and rescue helicopters from the USS Bataan almost immediately after the hurricane hit. He said, "We had things ready. The only caveat is: we have to wait until the president authorizes us to do so." That authorization didn't happen for days even though the ship was docked just outside New Orleans. On board the ship had doctors, hospital beds, food and the ability to make up to 100,000 gallons of water a day.

Posted by: at September 6, 2005 10:45 AM

The Cuban government has also announced that the U.S. State Department rebuffed its offer of aid. Last Tuesday Cuba offered to send 1100 doctors to assist in the crisis. Cuba said the doctors could have been on the ground by last Wednesday

Posted by: at September 6, 2005 10:46 AM

"I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."

President Bush on ABC's Good Morning America, Sept. 1, 2005

Posted by: at September 6, 2005 10:52 AM

Anon:

He's right, as witness the failure to do anything about it beforehand.

Posted by: oj at September 6, 2005 11:00 AM

The federal government cut flood prevention funds to pay for war. Did it make our country safer? The government condensed the responsibilities of several agencies into the Department of Homeland Security. Were LA and AL able to respond to the flood adequately with their own resources? When did the request federal help? Has Bush made American safer?
I welcome anyone who feels willing to answer these in a straightforward manner.

Posted by: at September 6, 2005 11:03 AM

1100 Cuban doctors? I haven't heard about that. Could they possibly be Marielitos? Or agents? Please.

Another really thin reed for the left to lean on as they whine and scream.

Posted by: ratbert at September 6, 2005 11:15 AM

Anon #1 - this post bolsters Bush's case. Materials were ready to go right after the storm. Why didn't they go in? Because Bush was waiting for the LA governor to a) request it, and b) tell them where and how much. The LA governor didn't do this.

Anon #2 - OJ answered it. Yes computers models and other scenarios indicated that the levees could break but looking at Nagin, Blanco, and other LA officials actions they certainly didn't act like they thought the levees would fail.

Anon #3 - The Bush cut the funding for the levees is another popular meme that fails reality. The 17th street canal section that failed had been recently replaced. The Army Core of Engineer head indicated that no budgets were responsible for what happened. There is a long lead time between funding and actual work - the cuts that were in the Bush budget were for projects slated for 2008 and later.

Posted by: AWW at September 6, 2005 11:19 AM

How do we know that local officials didn't ask for Federal help? Is this a case of the Fed's words vs. the state's? It sounded to me, from several news sources over the past week, that help was requested.
And I also heard that the projects were slated for 2006, not that it matters. Everyone has known the disaster potential of NO for decades and decades, but the state didn't have the money to vamp up the levees; the army corp had been requesting money for years. So why didn't the levy project attract attention since 9/11, when the Dept. of Homeland Security was set up to 'secure the homeland.' So let me repeat a question that was asked earlier; What does the department of homeland security do, besides being a front for the administration's promises to make America safer?

Posted by: at September 6, 2005 1:17 PM

Anon:

Because the Mayor and Governor say they didn't.

The state and city chose to do other things than fix the levees.

Posted by: oj at September 6, 2005 1:33 PM

Blanco requested fed help in her letter of 8/28.

Money. $230mil, IIRC.

Isn't LA's NG still under her control?

Posted by: Sandy P at September 6, 2005 1:49 PM

Sandy P,

What was left of the NG. If the governor requested help on Wednesday, and Bush had already declared a state of emergency, why did it take until friday and saturday for federal help to arrive? It was a screw up all around, but once again: what does the department of homeland security actually do, if it doesn't coordinate federal response to national disasters?

Posted by: at September 6, 2005 2:07 PM

Amateurs talk strategy, professionals talk logistics.

Posted by: at September 6, 2005 2:16 PM

OJ,
yeah, the local goverments down there for the past 40 years should carry most of the blame for the failure to upgrade; but why hasnt the federal government helped out one of the poorest states in the nation that sits nationally in probably the most strategically important position in the US? It seems like the levee issue was one that should have been one of national concern for years, especially now that I'm paying $3.30 a gallon for gas.
With that said, why didnt the Bush administration, and the local governments, make this a national issue?

Posted by: at September 6, 2005 2:18 PM

Amateurs talk strategy, professionals talk logistics, REAL amateurs talk 'troop levels'.

Posted by: JonofAtlanta at September 6, 2005 2:36 PM

Here are the logistical considerations:

Governor requests help on Wednesday.

Military immediately starts loading transports with water, MREs, etc. But immediately isn't instantly, so count on at least 12, and probably closer to 24, hours to marshal and load transports.

Then the road march begins. If you noticed from the videos, the military transports are not 18 wheelers, but special purpose vehicles for battlefield conditions. Meaning rugged, but not fast.

The US is a big country, and even the closest bases with the MREs and transport were likely an average of 12 hours road march away.

That is how you get from Wed to Friday -- logistics.

RE: Levees. Risk assessmnent is a tricky thing, most easily done post hoc. Given that the risk of a Cat 4/5 hurricane hitting NO is roughly one every couple hundred years, does it make sense to build levees costing upwards of $14B for an extremely unlikely eventuality? A cost, BTW, several months of $3.30 per gallon of gas nationwide would not far exceed, if at all.

Posted by: at September 6, 2005 3:20 PM

It makes a lot of sense for the Federal govt to spend $14 billion when the damage to trade along from the levee breach would exceed that. Not to mention the cost of clean-up and rebuilding. The disaster has had nationwide consequences, for that, and other reasons, it should have been a priority for decades.
In your logisitical calculations, you only really add up 24 hours. Ok, what about the other 24.
There was a battleship in the Gulf, just hours away from NO. It didnt go to NO because it didnt recieve clearance. There were national guards units all over the southeast waiting to be deployed. They didnt go because they didnt receive clearance.
The probability of a category 4/5 hurricane hitting the area happens a lot more often than every couple hundred years, I don't know where you are getting your info.
Ignoring the fact that the storm caused the breach, what would have happened if terrorists had bombed it? It sounds kind of silly, but it is exactly the kind of weakpoint in the nation's infrastructure that we should have secured after 9/11?

Posted by: at September 6, 2005 4:46 PM

Governments don't do things that make sense. They do things the voters will pay for. That's why we're insecure and have a crappy infrastructure.

Posted by: oj at September 6, 2005 4:56 PM

Anon:

Get some sleep. There's an exciting real world out there.

Posted by: Peter B at September 6, 2005 5:27 PM

at,

Blanco requested money, not troops or other supplies. Even had she gotten the money, in what way is that asking for any emergency help other than cash? She needs to say we have this and that in place and we need you to furnish these supplies and this kind of aid. She did not say that. She said give me the money. What is she going to do with the money? She needs troops, medicine, etc. The feds don't know what she has done and what the mayor has done. The job of the feds is to fill in and do what the state and city can't do or haven't done. That requires knowing what the state and the city have done and what they then need. The whole purpose of the emergency planning by the city and state is to get things started and then know what you need to ask the feds for. Again that is what the state and city did not do.

Regardless of whether you have supplies right outside the state, they need to know what you have done so they know where they need to be and what they need to do. Again the city and the state did nothing about this.

You keep saying that Blanco asked for emergency aid. That is not what she asked for. She asked for money. Money does not equal aid. She should have said I can do x, the city can do y, we need help at z and a and b and c that we know of now. The feds can then work with z and a and b and c and then get together with the state and city and formulate the plan for what else needs to be done.

Posted by: dick at September 6, 2005 8:13 PM

powerline.com has eviscerated the 'battleship didn't get clearance' meme..

(I love the 'clearance' cliche !!)

Posted by: JonofAtlanta at September 6, 2005 8:33 PM

"Everyone on the Right agrees signing CFR was anti-constitutional."

Amen. And its still and always be unconstitutional regardless of what the 9 cranky old women say.

"People went nuts about No Child Left Behind, steel tariffs and the like."

Revisionism OJ? You thought that NCB was a Trojan horse for vouchers, and was therefor a good thing.

I thought it was typical Washington B$, but I am now hopeful that it will force the Democrats and the teachers unions to admit that there is no Federal role in education, and that the Department of Education should be abolished.

The Steel Tariff was truly obnoxious, but it caused little harm because the market price of steel went up to $500/ton in short order and the tariff expired.

"We've said repeatedly that the war in Iraq was terribly mishandled and troops should have been out by Labor Day (if not Memorial Day) 2003--they never grasped that you can't occupy allies."

Speak solely for yourself on this one. The war is going very well, and we will be able to withdraw our troops in 60 years.

"The President has failed to deal with North Korea as forcefully as he should have,"

I differ on this one also. NK is a Chinese dependency. We cannot take them on without the nihil obstat of the Chinese. What the administration should do is withdraw our troops from South Korea and tell the Chinese that this their problem, but if Kim causes any damage, we will hold them morally and financially responsible.

"failed to support the VZ coup as effectively as he needed too,"

I am not sue about this one. Sometimes you need to let the disease run its course.

"and should have removed Assad by now."

One Iraq is enough. Assad will be back in London doing 2 eyes for $199 soon enough.

"Accepting the Department of Homeland Security was a mistake."

I don't know about that. It depends on how it plays out.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 6, 2005 8:43 PM

AND she had ample NG left. But they had no bullets around the Superdome.

Peanut Iran Embassy 79 redux.

why am I not surprised?

Posted by: Sandy P at September 7, 2005 12:18 AM

Louisiana politics has always been a blend of Third-world boodle and surrealism.

In the 1830s, both sides in a local election raided National Guard armories and shot it out up and down the length of Canal Street. (Fortunately, they were lousy shots. Bourbon might also have helped.)

During Reconstruction, the local Ku Klux Klan shot it out with Federal occupation troops and won. There used to be a memorial at the foot of Canal Street (since replaced by a statue of Winston Churchill) commemorating the event. Its inscription read "Dedicated to White Supremacy".

In the 1930s, just two words say it all:
Huey. Long.

"Kingfish gonna save this land..."

Posted by: Ken at September 7, 2005 4:46 PM
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