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The fires in southern California are still burning out of control in some places. People are still fleeing in advance of the inferno as the blaze has consumed nearly 2,000 homes and threatens thousands of others. A billion dollars in damage so far and there is no relief in sight for the residents and officials who are living this nightmare.

Meanwhile, it’s business as usual for the left, trying to score political points off of tragedy. This time, a couple of right wing pundits have chimed in, to the approving nods of some conservatives who have learned well the lessons of Katrina; it’s never too early to blame someone for nature’s handiwork.

Thousands of our fellow citizens are sitting in shelters not knowing if they have a home to go back to. Firefighters from all over the west and beyond are exhausting themselves to save lives and property. Federal, state, city, and local officials are working around the clock, doing everything they can to alleviate suffering, battle the numerous fires threatening the area, doling out assistance, and planning for the aftermath.

But none of this matters at the moment. Instead of doing everything we can to support these efforts, leaving the finger pointing and political gamesmanship until a decent interval has passed and life has returned to some semblance of normalcy for the afflicted, the professional bomb throwers on the right and the usual suspects on the left (almost everybody) are gleefully throwing around baseless and unproven charges of culpability.

They are enlisting the destruction of people’s lives in their battle to prove one thing or another about the President, or Republicans, or Democrats, or the War, or environmentalists. And for the left’s part, they are employing the age old political tactic of raising the spectre of race and class warfare; that the rich, white residents of San Diego County are being helped in a more timely and significant manner than the poor, black residents of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

First of all, anyone who tries to draw parallels between a Hurricane and a fire is an idiot. Hurricanes tend to be somewhat wetter than fires for one thing. Secondly, the fire is not blocking access to the shelters in the city or other designated areas so that help can get where it is needed when it is needed in a much more timely manner.

Beyond that, I found this analysis interesting:

In addition to the reverse-911 system, authorities shut down schools, halted mail delivery and urged people to stay home and off the roads if they were not in danger.

Another factor separating these fire from other disasters has been wealth. Unlike many of the poor neighborhoods flooded by Hurricane Katrina, the hardest-hit areas in California were filled with upscale homes, with easy access to wide streets. Less wealthy areas — including rural enclaves and horse farms that stretch through the mountains east of San Diego — benefited from easy road access and small crowds.

The authorities didn’t wait to evacuate citizens from endangered areas. And apparently, wonder of wonders, the city of San Diego had a disaster plan and is sticking to it! Amazing what happens when you actually follow a carefully laid out plan rather than wring your hands wailing “Whoa is us” and go on the radio, blaming your incompetence on the racism of others.

Police roadblocks are preventing wide scale looting – not even residents are allowed back into areas no longer threatened until they can be protected. As far as we know, there have been no mass rapes of babies at Qualcom Stadium where around 10,000 residents have sought shelter. No murders or suicides there either that we’ve heard about. Food, water, and the amenities all seem to be plentiful at the moment.

In short, the difference between the fire and the flood is night and day – partly as a result of the competence of local officials but much more so because the two types of disasters present different types of challenges that are taking place in a different part of the country in different settings (densely populated urban area vs. the more open suburban/rural setting of southern California). Anyone who tries to draw some kind of parallel between the two tragedies or posit some race or class reason for the differences can safely be dismissed as agenda driven screwballs. There’s no “there” there.

But this hasn’t stopped the left from trying for a Katrina repeat. And this time, the right got the drop on the left as far as the race to politicize people’s agony.

Both Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh have made comments trying to blame the left in some way for the tragedy. Beck’s point about the environmentalists opposing the clearing of brush and the deliberate setting of controlled fires may or may not be a valid point. But couldn’t it wait until after the disaster had been dealt with and all people and property were safe and secure?

Similarly, the lefty blogs have been full of comparisons to Katrina, intimations that the response to the tragedy is “proof” of racism and class differences, and the idea that if only we weren’t fighting the Iraq War, the National Guard could have prevented all this or, as Bill Richardson puts it, “Where is the National Guard?”

Today, as the fires rage, California has National Guard men, women, and critical equipment thousands of miles away in Iraq.

Richardson gives us a twofer in his article, reminding us that the entire reason so many died in New Orleans and why this fire is still burning is because of the War in Iraq.

I liked him better when he was lying about his Minor League baseball experiences.

There’s no evidence that the National Guard in California would be making a difference if the units serving in Iraq were here at home. But that won’t stop the left from making the argument anyway. Nor will they wait until the tragedy being experienced by the residents in southern California has passed before trying to score their political points with the public.

It didn’t used to be like this. No one would have dreamed of trying to politicize tragedy prior to the presidency of George Bush. But we’re in a different political ballgame now with no boundaries and few rules to live by. So we can expect this kind of idiocy from both sides from now on.

Both sides should be ashamed of themselves.

By: Rick Moran at 7:09 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (12)


One of my favorite movies is The Caine Mutiny which stars Humphrey Bogart as the Captain of a World War II destroyer whose maniacal obsession with Navy regulations as well as a strange, disquieting habit of rolling three ball bearings around and around in his hand whenever he was under pressure earned Bogey an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor (losing that year to Brando’s On the Waterfront).

The film is well worth seeing if only to enjoy Fred McMurray’s performance as the spineless heel who first advocates mutiny against the tyrannical Captain Queeg but in the end, fails to back up the mutineers at the trial. And the hugely underrated Jose Ferrer (see his Cyrano de Bergerac for proof) as the defense attorney, whose cross examination of the Captain is at once both devastating and sad, also makes viewing the film a must see.

A major point in the film that reveals Captain Queeg’s mental imbalance occurs when he begins a ship-wide search for some strawberries that have gone “missing.” Queeg is reliving what he considers one of his career highlights when, as a junior officer, he led a successful search for some missing cheese. The hunt for the strawberries takes on a surreal quality as the ship is turned upside down in an effort to find the fruit that, we are eventually told, was eaten by two mess mates who are terrified of Queeg’s wrath.

Queeg never finds the strawberries. But reading the reports in the MSM over the last two days about the “new” information contained in the Katrina tapes, I am happy to say that the media has taken up Captain Queeg’s quest and has indeed, solved the mystery of the missing strawberries; they were in the White House all along:

Three days after Hurricane Katrina wiped out most of New Orleans, President Bush appeared on television and said, “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.” His staff has spent the past six months trying to take back, modify or explain away those 10 words.

The release of a pre-storm video showing officials warning Bush during a conference call that the hurricane approaching the Gulf Coast posed a dire threat to the city and its levees has revived a dispute the White House had hoped to put behind it: Was the president misinformed, misspoken or misleading?

The video leaves little doubt that key people in government did anticipate that the levees might not hold. To critics, especially Democrats but even some Republicans, it reinforces the conclusion that the government at its highest levels failed to respond aggressively enough to the danger bearing down on New Orleans. To Bush aides, the seeming conflict between Bush’s public statements and the private deliberations captured on tape reflects little more than an inartful statement opponents are exploiting for political purposes.

The metaphor of the missing strawberries is apt for more than just the obvious reason that this is the biggest non-story of the year to date. As I mentioned yesterday, both the substance and thrust of these pre-Katrina meetings had been widely disseminated months ago. The real Queeg-like comparison is a raging triumphalism regarding what the left sees as another chance to accomplish what the first go around with the strawberries/federal Katrina response failed to do; outrage the American public.

Ginning up public disgust with the Bush Administration has been a hard slog for the media. They have evinced so much desperation in trying to manipulate public perceptions of the President they have gone so far as to try and make an impeachable offense out of giving a Republican shill, who masqueraded as a gay prostitute by night, press room credentials so that he could toss softball questions at Press Secretary McClellan. The Gannon-Guckert “scandal” showed how far the left was willing to go to find those elusive strawberries.

Other strawberry hunting excursions included the Downing Street memos (no missing fruit in England), Bush “lied” about WMD (strawberries don’t grow in the desert), we could have prevented the attacks on 9/11 (New York strawberries are too expensive), and we “outsourced” the capture of Osama (no good trying to compare strawberries with blueberries). There have been a half a dozen more efforts to pin the theft of the strawberries on Bush, each one more laughable than the next. In the end, the public has been troubled by Bush but have yet to abandon him entirely. Recent polls have been all over the lot (thanks to some incredibly strange methodology) which usually reveals a volatility in public perceptions which go up and down according to the news of the day.

This is why the Katrina response has been resurrected at this time. Apparently, most of the tapes now being shown were in the film vaults of the news nets all along. Howard Kurtz:

In fact, we’ve already had transcripts of the meeting, so all this did was provide television with some much-needed pictures. (In fact, all the networks had the FEMA video in their archives but didn’t realize the news value.)

NBC’s Lisa Myers yesterday obtained a videotape of another meeting in which Brownie—who’s been blaming just about everything on the White House and Chertoff—said Bush was “really engaged” and “asking a lot of good questions.” On that tape, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco reports that the New Orleans levees had not been breached.

If the nets had the FEMA video all along, why make a big issue of it now? Sometimes you have to trod over old ground when searching for missing strawberries lest they escape down the rabbit hole.

That triumphalism mentioned above finds no better voice than in the impeachment rants of leftist dreamers. This comment was left on my Katrina post yesterday:

On and on goes the great liar, not to be confused with the great communicator, daily deceiving the lemmings in the republican party who are in for a very rude awakening this November. He will thankfully be removed from office next year along with the other members of the cabal of evil. Oh what a glorious day that will be.

Sounds like Captain Queeg is alive and well.

By: Rick Moran at 11:08 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (6)

CATEGORY: KATRINA, Media, Politics

There have been some pretty puzzling efforts to skewer the President over the last few years by the media and the left but this most recent campaign using videotape of pre-Katrina discussions (the substance if which has been widely disseminated by both the media and the left previously) is a real head scratcher.

Have they forgotten that they already used the transcripts and reports of other, similar meetings to bash the President once already for exactly the same thing?

No fair getting another bite at the rotten apple. Except, in the surreal world of hate inhabited by both the media and the left, the “news” is whatever they say it is – even if Administration discussions about Katrina preparedness have already been analyzed by dozens of bloggers and newspapers.

If this is so, why try the same thing again? The answer is simple; in their initial haste to make a political issue of the Katrina response, the media and their allies on the left forgot the number one rule of attack journalism; make sure that you can dominate the coverage.

And since their first go-around in September occurred when dead bodies were still floating in the floodwaters and tens of thousands of people were still in need of assistance, the attention of the American people was insufficiently focused on who the left was instructing them to blame.

The pre-Katrina briefing of the President by Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center, was revealed within days of the disaster by Mayfield himself. I wonder why Mayfield’s calls to the homes of the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana on Saturday night – two days before the hurricane made landfall – begging them to evacuate the city of New Orleans has somehow not made it into all of these stories today?

I noticed that Mayor Nagin found the video “troubling.” He would. Running for re-election, it is probably best that people not be reminded of his briefings by Director Mayfield prior to the hurricane. Nor should they be reminded of his hesitancy in ordering a mandatory evacuation due to concerns that the city would be sued by hotels and restaurants if the hurricane wasn’t as serious as Director Mayfield had already told him it would be.

But let’s leave the disaster tag team of Blanco-Nagin out of this. What does the Washington Post have to say about this “news:”

Congressional investigators previously released transcripts of the daily meetings, and their substance and other warnings of the danger to New Orleans have been widely reported.

The fresh footage, however, was prominently aired on evening television news broadcasts and threatened to renew public scrutiny of the Bush administration, which issued a report last week containing 125 recommendations to improve U.S. disaster readiness but little focus on the action of senior presidential aides.

White House spokesman Trent Duffy said yesterday the footage showed that Bush was heavily engaged while leaving “battlefield” decisions to his commanders.

“The president had multiple conversations, phone calls and briefings both big and small throughout this process, and his whole priority was making sure that the federal assets were brought to bear to help the people of New Orleans,” Duffy said.

The New York Times adds:

The transcript offers new details but does not significantly alter the picture as it has been put together by investigators as to how officials prepared for the hurricane and responded in the first critical days.

The transcript also shows that on that day the same federal and state officials who would soon be trading recriminations were broad in praising one another’s performance.

“Threatened to renew public scrutiny” is, of course, exactly the point of this entire pointless exercise. Besides, everyone knows a picture is worth a thousand words which makes the video something the public can focus on – unlike in the immediate aftermath of the disaster when people’s attention was on the plight of their fellow citizens.

One other curious note about the video. It actually destroys one of the left’s favorite myths about the lead up to the hurricane; that the President was disengaged and more interested in lounging about his ranch on vacation than in helping the people of New Orleans. It shows Bush assuring the governments of New Orleans and Louisiana that the feds would do whatever they could to help:

“I want to assure the folks at the state level that we are fully prepared to not only help you during the storm, but we will move in whatever resources and assets we have at our disposal after the storm,” Bush said, gesturing with both hands for emphasis on the digital recording. Neither Bush nor Hagin asked questions, however.

The fact that there were millions of tons of FEMA supplies in a vast semi-circle surrounding the city by Tuesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after the hurricane had passed the city shows at the very least that the President was making those remarks in good faith. But the additional fact that horse show impresario Brown and Blanco-Nagin failed to work together – with the somnolent Brown inescapably derelict in urging the feds to take charge – negated anything the President was saying 24 hours prior to the hurricane making landfall.

This is the biggest non-story of the year so far. And given the penchant of the left for repeating news, what do you suppose the next repeat headline will be; “No WMD Found in Iraq?” Or how about “Bush Lied, People Died?”


Interesting information from the Times article:

In the videoconference held at noon on Monday, Aug. 29, Michael D. Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, reported that he had spoken with President Bush twice in the morning and that the president was asking about reports that the levees had been breached.

But asked about the levees by Joe Hagin, the White House deputy chief of staff, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana said, “We have not breached the levee at this point in time.” She said “that could change” and noted that the floodwaters in some areas in and around New Orleans were 8 to 10 feet deep. Later that night, FEMA notified the White House that the levees had been breached.

The NOTP reports that the first levee breach occurred at around 11:00 AM at 17th and Canal Streets:

A large section of the vital 17th Street Canal levee, where it connects to the brand new “hurricane proof” Old Hammond Highway bridge, gave way late Monday morning in Bucktown after Katrina’s fiercest winds were well north. The breach sent a churning sea of water from Lake Pontchartrain coursing across Lakeview and into Mid-City, Carrollton, Gentilly, City Park and neighborhoods farther south and east.

Horse Show Promoter Brown did not reach the city until around noon so the report direct from the horse’s ass (Blanco) that no levees had been breached is an interesting footnote to an otherwise redundant story.


John Aravosis has a breathless screed today entitled “New Video Shows Bush was warned levees could breach BEFORE Katrina…”

Only problem is John already reported this story once. Maybe he should read his own blog once and a while…

Saturday, September 03, 2005

And Bush had no idea it would get this bad

Four days before Bush canceled his galavanting vacation, this hit the Weather Service wires Sunday at 5pm Eastern (you can see another version of this release here, it’s just as bad if not worse, compares Katrina to Camille, and this is from Sunday MORNING!):

By: Rick Moran at 8:44 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (7)

Random Yak linked with Blog Olympics: The Link Party Challenge
Red State Rant linked with Bush the little Dutch boy

The New York Times reports this morning that after examining documents pertaining to the response by government officials to Hurricane Katrina, that there were “missteps at all levels” and that the Bush Administration knew of the damaged 17th Street levee which eventually put 80% of the city underwater on Monday night instead of Tuesday afternoon.

To briefly address the issue about the levee, it appears that the Times, in their continuing effort to blame the Bush Administration for the disaster, have cherry picked one report out of hundreds that were flooding into FEMA headquarters on Monday evening (the day of the storm) and offered it as “proof” that the Administration failed to act in a timely manner with regards to the levee break:

But Congressional investigators have now learned that an eyewitness account of the flooding from a federal emergency official reached the Homeland Security Department’s headquarters starting at 9:27 p.m. the day before, and the White House itself at midnight.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency official, Marty Bahamonde, first heard of a major levee breach Monday morning. By late Monday afternoon, Mr. Bahamonde had hitched a ride on a Coast Guard helicopter over the breach at the 17th Street Canal to confirm the extensive flooding. He then telephoned his report to FEMA headquarters in Washington, which notified the Homeland Security Department.

“FYI from FEMA,” said an e-mail message from the agency’s public affairs staff describing the helicopter flight, sent Monday night at 9:27 to the chief of staff of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and recently unearthed by investigators. Conditions, the message said, “are far more serious than media reports are currently reflecting. Finding extensive flooding and more stranded people than they had thought — also a number of fires.”

Mr. Marty Bahamonde, is listed in the FEMA Staff Directory as a “Public Affairs Specialist.” Not to take anything away from Mr. Bahamonde who I’m sure is a dedicated public employee but if the City of New Orleans, the State of Louisiana, and others at FEMA who are more technically competent are telling me one thing and a PR “Specialist” is telling me something else, whose information do you think should be acted upon?

A brief look at the Katrina Timeline I amassed from the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports should make things a little clearer.

Late Monday morning, the National Weather Service announced that the 17th Street Levee “gave way,” flooding about 20% of the city. At this point, the system of massive pumps designed to keep Lake Pontchartrain at bay were working at maximum capacity – and fighting a losing battle. According to this report, by late Monday evening, the water was still rising slowly from the damaged levee.

It was at this point that Mr. Bahamonde took his helicopter survey and reported to DHS headquarters that things “are far more serious than media reports are currently reflecting.”

What were those media reports based on? Why information coming from city officials and state DHS employees of course. And as far as those officials knew, the Army Corps of Engineers was dealing with the problem of the levee:

Officials of the Army Corps of Engineers have contingencies for levee breaches such as the one that happened Monday, but it will take time and effort to get the heavy equipment into place to make the repair. Breach repair is part of the corps’ planning for recovery from catastrophic storms, but nobody Monday was able to say how long it would take to plug the hole, or how much water would get through it before that happened.

In fact, the Engineers hadn’t even started, mostly because the overtopping of the levee was much more extensive than the Corps itself realized. They couldn’t get their equipment to the point of the breach due to flooded roads and the the Corps’ massive cranes placed on boats couldn’t navigate the swollen canal.

On Tuesday morning, the water was still rising, something that mystified officials.

By Tuesday afternoon, it became apparent that the pumps were going to fail and the city would be inundated.

Recall that the Administration was saying on Tuesday morning that they had “dodged a bullet” because the damage from the hurricane would evidently be minimized. Even Mr. Bahamonde’s report didn’t mention that the pump system would be unable to handle the flooding as of Monday night.

What ended up “surprising” the Administration – and every one else – was that by early Tuesday evening, the water pouring in from Lake Pontchtrain overwhelmed the pumps causing them to shut down. This is what caused the massive flooding.

To say that this could have been forseen in the dark, on Monday evening, by a PR “Specialist” is absurd. Again, taking nothing away from Mr. Bahamonde, but if you were Michael Chertoff and received a report that, if acted upon would have meant transferring millions – perhaps tens of millons of dollars of resources, wouldn’t you want that information coming from someone who was in perhaps a little better position to know? Especially when local officials were telling you something totally different.

Let me make it clear that this does not in any way excuse the wildly incompetent response by FEMA to this tragedy. But for the Times to try and shift blame to the White House based on an email that contained a report predicting dire consequences unless something was done when the Administration was getting dozens of other reports telling them differently, only shows an inherent bias on the part of the Times that has become all too commonplace.

If all this sounds familiar, consider the way the Times handled leaks from intelligence analysts about Iraq WMD. They used the same method of cherry picking reports that questioned whether or not WMD was there while ignoring the fact that the National Intelligence Estimate of 2002 clearly said the opposite.

As for the rest of the article, there are no major surprises. The move of FEMA from independent agency to an arm of DHS was cited as a major cause of government paralysis, something I pointed out here months ago. And horse impresario Brown (who testifies before the House DHS Committee today), and the disaster tag team of Blanco-Nagin all come in for their share of blame. But as I said here, the politics of disasters have changed enormously:

When all is said and done. When all the fingers have pointed and tongues wagged. After the dead are buried, the hearings held, the pundits pontificate and bloggers blog, it all boils down to this; a force of nature that no one could stop raised a mighty fist a slammed it down on a city and people that didn’t deserve it. It’s a tragedy. It’s an act of God so blame him. “Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minues to hours?” is a line from Gordon Lightfoot’s The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. For both believers and non-believers alike, blaming God is not an option.

So in the end, politicians will get their pound of flesh. A fat lot of good it will do for the people of New Orleans or which ever city is next in line to feel the random wrath of Mother Nature.

By: Rick Moran at 8:06 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (18)

Joust The Facts linked with The Times Picks Nits On Katrina
The Staton Jones Report linked with Rick Moran: A Study in Incompetence

Cindy Sheehan is a living photoshop image. Set her down anywhere on the planet, put a microphone within 10 feet of her, and out of her mouth will spew the counterintuitive, the illogical, and the jaw dropping rants of a half-crazed, drooling dervish; a maddening combination of weepy radicalism and angry ideologue. Her appearances, now carefully scripted and choreographed, have degenerated into caricatures of her once tearful soliloquies. She has truly and totally been captured by the revolutionary left.

Does she realize what her benefactors have done to her?

These are not your garden variety leftist lickspittles who are holding Cindy Sheehan hostage. The hard-eyed men and women who now surround her are not interested in political change except as it can be used to achieve their revolutionary ends. People like Cindy Sheehan (unwittingly?) and Ward Churchill (willingly) are stage actors in their Grand Drama of the Republic. They are the cockroaches of our culture who thrive on chaos, grow strong in disaster, and whose message resonates the most with those on the fringes of society.

Thus are the armies of the revolution built.

They have learned their revolutionary craft at the feet of the masters. Lenin, Mao, and Hitler all came to power amidst chaos and unrest following some great upheaval. Revolutionary Russia seethed with discontent but it took the massive societal dislocations of the Great War to hasten the advent of Bolshievism. Mao’s ultimate victory was sealed in the immediate aftermath of World War II as the 4 year Chinese Civil War ravaged the countryside and cost up to 6 million lives. And Hitler came to prominence and power first when the hyperinflation of the mark impoverished the middle class in the early 1920’s and later as the Great Depression destroyed it.

So what better place for Cindy Sheehan to bring her Magical Mystery Tour Bus than the storm ravaged city of New Orleans. Not only will she be able to rail against her imagined nemesis President Bush, but her script supervisors and image consultants have some wonderful visuals they can use for the travelogue DVD they are making of this quixotic, cross country defeatist tour. Are they consciously trying to evoke memories of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters and their coast to coast “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Tests” where, besotted with drink and tripping the light fantastic on LSD, Kesey sought a changed reality that included being able to experience the psychedelic without the use of drugs?

I doubt whether the sourpuss lefties who are running Sheehan actually have the sense of humor to understand what Kesey was trying to accomplish so any parallel would be purely accidental. And Sheehan herself, suburban and sheltered for most of her life, acts the part of someone who has been so intellectually starved that the radical ideas she’s been exposed to hit her full force and bowl her over, so raw and powerful are the emotions engendered by the combination of the loss of her son and the imagined gain of a belief system that explains that horrible fact.

Sheehan on the tragedy in New Orleans:

I don’t care if a human being is black, brown, white, yellow or pink. I don’t care if a human being is Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, or pagan. I don’t care what flag a person salutes: if a human being is hungry, then it is up to another human being to feed him/her. George Bush needs to stop talking, admit the mistakes of his all around failed administration, pull our troops out of occupied New Orleans and Iraq, and excuse his self from power. The only way America will become more secure is if we have a new administration that cares about Americans even if they don’t fall into the top two percent of the wealthiest.

That quote could have come from “A Communist Revolutionary Handbook” stressing as it does the brotherhood of man, the evils of capitalism, the wildly exaggerated rhetorical flourish of “occupied” New Orleans, and a call for a “new Administration” despite the fact that even if Sheehan and her cohorts got their wish and George Bush rode off into the sunset (or climbed the steps of a guillotine) his Vice President, whose connections to Haliburton have been fodder for leftist bombast since Mr. Cheney took the oath of office, would carry on pretty much as before.

These are truly the bottom feeders of American politics. And Sheehan, once hailed as the Madonna of the American anti-war movement among the more mainstream Democrats finds almost all of her erstwhile supporters tip-toeing away hoping no one will notice or remember that they and their allies in the media made her such into such a heroic figure. No peacenik Joan of Arc she. There will be no Sheehan led assault on the still 2/3 majority idea that we must stay in Iraq until the job is done. Now she looks behind her and instead of seeing throngs of admirers she sees the crouching tigers and hidden dragons who only see the war as a way to divide America so they can conquer her.

Should we pity her loss? Yes, but for how much longer? When does her radicalism negate whatever sacrifice she has given in the effort to defeat Islamism, that other radical ideology whose rhetoric about the west and America is so similar that it could have been born of the same mother’s tongue? In Sheehan’s case, her message of hate will continue to fade until only the echoes of abomination and self-loathing are heard in the mostly empty halls and rooms of a radical on the declining slope of noteriety.

Sophocles rightly said “Only the dead are free from pain.” For Cindy Sheehan, there will come a time when she prays for the playwright’s wisdom to overtake her folly.


For a true and proper fisking of Mrs. Sheehan’s idiocy, AJ at Strata-Sphere is a must read.

Goldstein adds some thoughts from Billy Jack.

LGF (whose server crashed when Drudge linked the original post) has some truly great and funny thoughts in the comment section.

John Cole has an interesting picture of Mother Sheehan fraternizing with the enemy.

John Hawkins thinks Sheehan still is “an influential and beloved figure on the left, and she obviously speaks for much of the anti-war crowd in this country.” I disagree, although she’ll have one last major hurrah at the anti-war rally in Washington next week. After that, only C-Span will have any interest in her.

Sister Toldjah has a revelation regarding one of Cindy Sheehan’s new friends in Louisinana.

By: Rick Moran at 6:41 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (28)

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This article originally appears in The American Thinker

Much has been made of the fact that the President’s appointment of Michael Brown to head up the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was a matter of pure politics, a plumb assignment given to a loyal partisan who was a college roommate of Bush confidante and former FEMA head Joseph Allbaugh.

This may be true. And it also may be true that although Brown proved himself competent in other disasters, his performance in the aftermath of Katrina has been almost universally condemned both by partisan Democrats and even many Republicans. The criticism is usually attributed to the fact that Brown’s appointment was based not on his competence to do the job but rather his political connections.

The one does not necessarily preclude the other. There are numerous examples in history of Presidents appointing cabinet officials for political reasons who turned out to be outstanding, even brilliant public servants.

Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet was made up almost entirely of men who had opposed him for the Republican Presidential nomination. Salmon P. Chase was a former senator and governor who Lincoln named Secretary of the Treasury and later Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. A lawyer with no experience in finance whatsoever, Chase proved himself to be an able and innovative Treasury Secretary. He is generally credited with keeping the government on sound fiscal footing while raising the cash necessary to pay for the Civil War.

Another political appointee of Lincoln’s was Secretary of State William H. Seward whose policies helped to keep England and France on the sidelines during the war. Intervention by either of those two European superpowers could have spelled doom for the union. Edwin Stanton, who took over at the War Department for Simon Cameron, a corrupt political appointee, was an outstanding administrator and oversaw the rapid expansion of the armed forces.

Lincoln’s most unusual and most successful political appointee may have been newspaper publisher Gideon Welles who served as Secretary of the Navy. It was Wells who commissioned the ironclad Monitor whose famous battle with the CSS Virginia changed naval warfare forever. Wells also came up with the plans for a naval blockade of the South that eventually contributed mightily to ending the war.

None of these men were especially suited for the tasks assigned them. And yet, each performed magnificently in very trying times. Lincoln, like all Presidents, chose his subordinates based on a wide variety of factors, not the least of which was loyalty. And in Lincoln’s case, the political factor of geographic balance was vital to maintaining the support of a majority of northern citizens.

But by far the most spectacularly successful political appointee of all time came about as a result of one the first acts of the Second Continental Congress of 1775; the naming of a Commander in Chief of the citizen army encamped outside Boston.

Up to 12,000 militia had gathered to lay siege to the city following the April battles of Lexington and Concord. The Congress wanted to claim the army as its own but to do that involved some very delicate political maneuvering. The army was made up almost entirely of Massachusetts militia with a smattering of units from other New England states. Clearly, a way must be found to nationalize the army so that it at least appeared to represent all 13 colonies.

Enter a young lawyer from Massachusetts named John Adams who had a burning desire to see America independent of Great Britain. Adams originally had plans of his own to lead the army but realized what was needed most was the naming of a commander who would nationalize the effort.

There were candidates galore for the job. President of the Congress John Hancock had the advantage of being one of the wealthiest men in America but shared the same disadvantage as Adams; he hailed from Massachusetts. Israel Putnam, the pugnacious Major General currently in charge of the motley collection of militia and volunteers occupying the heights outside of Boston, was from Connecticut and had fought at Bunker Hill. But he was considered too provincial and perhaps too old by some to lead the army. Other General officers serving in the “New England Army” as it was called either weren’t well known or didn’t have the experience to lead such a large body of men.

Besides, “the business needs a Virginian” as John Adams was said to have remarked. Adams recognized that if the Congress were to name a Commander from the south, it would unite the colonies behind the army and make it easier for the states to support its functions. Since Congress itself had no money, the army would be entirely dependent on contributions from the states for its sustenance – a fact of life that the Continental army dealt with until the end of the war.

If the “business” did indeed require someone from the largest and oldest colony, Virginia obliged by supplying three qualified candidates for the job as Commander in Chief. Two of the candidates had extensive if not distinguished service in the regular British army. Charles Lee had joined the army at age 12 and steadily moved up the ranks. He served as an officer under General Braddock during the Fort Duquense expedition, a military adventure that saw his other rivals for command – George Washington and Horatio Gates – also present at that famous but ill-fated battle. After marrying the daughter of a Mohawk chief, Lee went back to England where he served in Portugal and Poland. Considered a brilliant tactician, he was nevertheless thought to be arrogant and eccentric – two qualities that came to the fore later in his career.

Horatio Gates was another officer in the regular British army whose experience outshone even that of Lee. In addition to service in the colonies during the 7 Years War, he also participated in the capture of Martinique, one of the more spectacular British victories of the war. He rose to the rank of Major but due to his lowly social status was prevented from further advancement. He retired in 1769 and moved to Virginia.

Almost to the end of the Revolutionary War, Gates had admirers both in and out of Congress who believed that he was the best man to lead the American armies to victory. The reason for this is largely hidden from us as Gates’ military abilities were more than once found wanting. However, in 1775 he looked like a pretty good bet except for one thing; many in Congress simply didn’t trust the fact that he had recently immigrated from England.

John Adams had his own candidate from the beginning; a Virginia planter and former Commander of the Virginia militia named George Washington. Washington had the advantage of being well known throughout the colonies for his service during the 7 Years War, having in effect started the conflict with France by attacking a small party of French regulars near today’s Pittsburgh. He also distinguished himself in retreat during the Fort Duquense fiasco for which he became something of a hero . Otherwise, Washington’s military experience was extremely limited. In fact, he resigned his commission in the militia in 1759 because the British refused to make him an officer in the regular army.

But Adams had bigger fish to fry than simply naming a commanding general. Washington had served in the Virginia House of Burgess and was as well known a political figure in the south as he was a military commander. It was part of Adams intent to cement the planter class in Virginia and the rest of the south to the cause. For that reason as well as the necessity to name a commander based on geographic balance, Adams successfully nominated and shepherded Washington’s election to the position of Commanding General of the Continental Army.

There’s no doubt on paper that Washington was the least qualified of the three Virginians to lead the Continental army. While obviously a capable man, there was really nothing in his background to suggest greatness as a military commander or leader of men. As it turns out, Washington began his career as Commanding General with the disastrous New York campaign during which the Continental Army was almost destroyed. But Washington eventually developed a strategic sense that far outstripped both his rivals for command and his enemies. It was George Washington who saw early on that if he could keep his little army from being destroyed, the Revolution would go on. Following his brilliant victories at Trenton and Princeton, Washington stuck to that strategy until the end of the war. It is doubtful that the European trained Gates or Lee would have been any where near as successful.

Appointing people to positions based mostly on politics – even to positions of enormous importance – has been done by every President in history. Harry Truman named Jame Byrnes, a long time politician with zero experience in foreign affairs, as Secretary of State in 1945. In his less than two years in that position, Byrnes proved himself to be pretty much of a non-entity, eventually being eased out by Truman in 1947.

George Bush miscalculated when he named Michael Brown to the position of FEMA Director. But that doesn’t mean he appointed Brown thinking he wouldn’t be capable of doing an outstanding job. There are usually good reasons for appointing some one to fill an important position in the federal government. Sometimes, those reasons are political. Call it “cronyism,” the fact is that President’s want people they can trust implicitly in key positions. It’s just at times, the individual named just doesn’t seem up to the challenges posed by the office. In that case, good Presidents cut their losses and get rid of the appointee as soon as that becomes evident as Bush has now done.

And while it may not satisfy his critics, Bush has a tremendous ability to expertly judge talent. Don’t be surprised if his recently named FEMA Director R. David Paulison proves himself more than capable of handling the job.


Despite initial reports that Michael Brown was a college roomate of former FEMA Director Joe Allbaugh, they are apparently untrue. Allbaugh and Brown were friends in college but not not roomates.

I apologize for the error.

By: Rick Moran at 8:12 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (3)

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Leaders in a crisis have only two options; either they can try to control events or have events control them. Judging by the remarks made by former FEMA head Michael Brown in this interview with the New York Times, it appears that leaders at all levels – local, state, and federal – not only became captive to events surrounding the aftermath of the hurricane, but also failed to work together to get on top of the situation, wasting precious hours dithering about a “unified command structure” while the situation in the city spiraled out of control.

If it was Mr. Brown’s purpose to defend his actions during the disaster, he did a horrible job. Brown is revealed to be clueless, an absolutely disasterous choice to lead an agency where a hard nosed “can do” attitude is absolutely essential. Instead, he appeared in New Orleans believing himself to be a glorified waiter – someone whose job it was to write down the state’s order for hurricane relief rather than act as an executive who should have anticipated what was needed and behaved accordingly. This quote from Governor Blanco’s communication director is revealing:

Governor Blanco’s communications director, Mr. Mann, said that she was frustrated that Mr. Brown and others at FEMA wanted itemized requests before acting. “It was like walking into an emergency room bleeding profusely and being expected to instruct the doctors how to treat you,” he said.

It’s clear that Brown believed his job was to stay in the background and act as a facilitator of federal help:

When he arrived in Baton Rouge on Sunday evening, Mr. Brown said, he was concerned about the lack of coordinated response from Governor Blanco and Maj. Gen. Bennett C. Landreneau, the adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard.

“What do you need? Help me help you,” Mr. Brown said he asked them. “The response was like, ‘Let us find out,’ and then I never received specific requests for specific things that needed doing.”

Of course, the scope of the disaster made “specific requests” moot. New Orleans needed everything and they needed it yesterday. Once this became clear – certainly by Tuesday morning- Brown should have been screaming for every available federal resource to be put into the pipeline and sent towards the beleagured city. Instead, like a good little waiter, he sent a list of what the city needed to Baton Rouge!

The next morning [Tuesday], Mr. Brown said, he and Governor Blanco decided to take a helicopter into New Orleans to see the mayor and assess the situation. But before the helicopter took off, his field coordinating officer, or F.C.O., called from the city on a satellite phone. “It is getting out of control down here; the levee has broken,” the staff member told him, he said.

The crowd in the Superdome, the city’s shelter of last resort, was already larger than expected. But Mr. Brown said he was relieved to see that the mayor had a detailed list of priorities, starting with help to evacuate the Superdome.

Mr. Brown passed the list on to the state emergency operations center in Baton Rouge, but when he returned that evening he was surprised to find that nothing had been done.

“I am just screaming at my F.C.O., ‘Where are the helicopters?’ ” he recalled. ” ‘Where is the National Guard? Where is all the stuff that the mayor wanted?’ “

This is simply unfathomable. Officials in Baton Rouge were already overwhelmed and Brown wonders why his little “to do” list wasn’t acted on?

This was a man in clearly over his head. This should have been apparent to the White House when Mr. Brown called to complain that he couldn’t get a “unified command structure” going with the state of Louisiana:

On Monday night, Mr. Brown said, he reported his growing worries to Mr. Chertoff and the White House. He said he did not ask for federal active-duty troops to be deployed because he assumed his superiors in Washington were doing all they could. Instead, he said, he repeated a dozen times, “I cannot get a unified command established.”

Here’s where Governor Blanco proved herself to be an empty suit. It’s apparent that this lack of “unified command” applied not just to coordination between state and federal authorities, but also between the governor’s office and the Louisiana National Guard. This becomes clear when General Honoré shows up and someone finally takes charge of the situation:

By Wednesday morning, Mr. Brown said, he learned that General Honoré was on his way. While the general did not have responsibility for the entire relief effort and the Guard, his commanding manner helped mobilize the state’s efforts.

“Honoré shows up and he and I have a phone conversation,” Mr. Brown said. “He gets the message, and, boom, it starts happening.”

There is no more damning piece of evidence that proves that officials at all levels of government simply froze up in the face of the daunting challenges posed by the aftermath of the hurricane.

Of course, it wouldn’t be the New York Times unless they tried to place the blame squarely on the White House. This piece of editorializing shows that the Times has a knack for not letting relevant facts get in the way of some good old fashioned Bush bashing:

But Mr. Brown’s account, in which he described making “a blur of calls” all week to Mr. Chertoff, Mr. Card and Mr. Hagin, suggested that Mr. Bush, or at least his top aides, were informed early and repeatedly by the top federal official at the scene that state and local authorities were overwhelmed and that the overall response was going badly.

Mr. Brown’s version of events raises questions about whether the White House and Mr. Chertoff acted aggressively enough in the response. New Orleans convulsed in looting and violence after the hurricane, and troops did not arrive in force to restore order until five days later.

New Orleans “convulsed in looting and violence” less than 24 hours after the hurricane hit because of the absence of local police (a third of whom simply deserted their posts) and the necessity of using the National Guard in the effort to rescue the thousands of citizens trapped on rooftops and in crawl spaces by the flooding.

And the reason that the troops didn’t arrive until “five days later” (there were 7,000 National Guardsmen on the ground in less than 3 days) was because Governor Empty Suit didn’t ask for the troops until Wednesday – two days after the hurricane struck.

It would have been an interesting New York Times article to read if the President had sent in troops on his own. I daresay the Times would be calling for the President’s impeachment following Mr. Bush’s declaration that the state of Louisiana was in rebellion – the only way the President would have been able to send regular army troops into Louisiana to help in law enforcement activities.

The interview with Michael Brown shows that President Bush made an error in judgement when he named this political hack to head up FEMA. But it also shows what happens when events outstrip the ability of leaders to manage them. The monumental nature of this disaster was clearly beyond the competence of governmental institutions to handle. It was made worse by the failure of those in leadership positions to act decisively.

By: Rick Moran at 6:58 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (28)

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I took a little test this morning to measure my “outrage quotient.” I’m sure you’re familiar with this test. Although it doesn’t require medical supervision, I recommend that at the very least, you have a friend or family member present just in case something goes wrong. After all, trying to gauge how angry you can get at the mainstream press or the left can be a dangerous proposition. There’s always the chance that you’ll come across something so spiteful, so biased, so…so…outrageous that a myocardial infarction becomes a distinct possibility.

Sue was dead set against me taking the test. “What happens if you read something from Daily Kos and your head explodes?” she asked plaintively.”Or watch Anderson Cooper emote like a cheesy actor in a bad production of Hamlet and throw up? I just did the floor, ya know.”

You can see it took a little convincing.

After promising to accompany her to Pier 1 Imports to pick up a wicker chair to replace the one that our loving cats eagerly shredded by peeling, ripping, biting, and chewing the offending furnishing to smithereens, she agreed to closely monitor my vital signs in the interest of safety.

We started with something easy; the indictment for homicide of the husband and wife owners of a nursing home where 34 elderly patients drowned during the hurricane. Evidently, the owners failed to accept an offer to evacuate the residents prior to the hurricane’s arrival.

My reaction surprised me. Didn’t the Mayor of New Orleans do exactly the same thing when Amtrak offered to evacuate several hundred people the day before the hurricane by train? According to the Washington Post, Amtrak ran a “dead head” train to move equipment out of the city. The company says they offered to move several hundred people but city officials turned them down.

I waited anxiously for the bile to rise in my throat in disgust and my blood pressure to careen out of control, but nothing happened. I glanced at Sue who looked relieved. I could have explained to her that the Mayor of New Orleans has become an untouchable. Any responsibility for the catastrophe rolls off his back like the water that inundated the hundreds of buses left in a municipal parking lot to become submerged instead of being used to evacuate citizens.

Since that didn’t elicit much of response, Sue tried to get a rise out of me by showing me a story involving the other half of the disaster duo, the Governor of Louisiana. It seems that Governor Blanco continues to exhibit a bit of peevishness at the federal government, this time because the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is taking too long to recover the dead bodies left in the wake of the hurricane. She says that the dead “deserve more respect than they have received.”

For a moment, I thought I detected a slight rumbling in my gut, a sure indication that my outrage was about to burst forth into a white hot series of invective and angry retorts. I wanted to say something like “maybe you should worry about giving more respect to the living, you cretinous lickpsittle! Start thinking about all the citizens of your state you let down so ignominiously in the hurricane’s aftermath! ” Alas, the rumbling was only indicative of a little indigestion from the Dominoes Pizza we had eaten the night before, not of any real outrage at Governor Blanco’s extraordinary mismanagement of the crisis.

I was beginning to get worried. The test was not going at all like I planned. Even Sue had begun to look at me as if something might be wrong. Then she remembered the story about the Louisiana Congressman who used to National Guard to retrieve his personal belongings while they were still carrying out search and rescue operations.

It seems that Representative William Jefferson (D-LA) commandeered some National Guard troops on Friday, September 2 to take him back to his house in New Orleans so he could pick up a few odds and ends – three suitcases, a laptop, and a box “the size of a small refrigerator.” This is the same Rep. Jefferson who last month had his home searched by the FBI in connection with a corruption probe.

Kind of makes you wonder what was in the box, no?

Sue looked downright crestfallen. No response worth mentioning. My heart never skipped a beat nor was my respiration affected at all. Again, I could have clued her in that having lived and worked in Washington D.C., you develop an outrage proof attitude when it comes to members of Congress. The venality and amorality is so widespread and endemic to the institution that it becomes depressingly the norm to read about such things.

So far, nothing had been able to raise my hackles. It really looked like, with a nod to Jo Dee Messina, “My Give a Damn” was really busted. Then I saw the fearful look on Sue’s face.

“I don’t think you should see this,” she said carefully. “It’s from a diarist at Daily Kos and it’s in response to the President’s statement that he takes responsibility for the federal foul-ups during disaster relief.”

I laughed and Sue nearly swooned. “You don’t get it,” she said angrily. Do you have any idea what this moonbat said?”

“Let me guess,” I chuckled. “Now that Bush has taken responsibility for mistakes made by the Federal government, he should be impeached. Am I right?”

“How did you guess?”

“Honey,” I said patiently, “Nothing those idiots at Kos say either surprises me or causes me much anger any more.”

Sue looked desperate. She thrust a printed copy of the offending passage in front of my nose:

Now that Bush has taken responsibility, he must resign. He has pleaded guilty. He has admitted that he was complicit in the deaths of thousands of people.

Haul his ass in front of the House of Representatives for an impeachment trial, and then ask him to confirm that he admits responsibility. If he denies this, he will look like a flip-flopping liar; if he confirms that it was his fault, Congress will be forced to impeach him.

I actually giggled after reading that. Somehow, the avalanche of lies, distortions, bias, and prejudice had numbed me. I felt like a wet noodle. I got the feeling that nothing the left did from here on out could possibly affect me one way or another. In short, I was suffering from “Outrage Fatigue.”

Then again, maybe it was that Dominoes Pizza we ate last night and by tomorrow I’ll be back to my old apoplectic self.

By: Rick Moran at 7:15 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (20)

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The images will be burned into the American consciousness for the rest of our lifetimes. Nearly 50,000 people in two different venues – the Superdome and the city’s massive convention center – living in squalor as desperate and violent as any third world refugee camp. One had to be reminded constantly that these were scenes taking place in a major, modern, industrialized city that just a few short hours ago had been a fully functioning metropolis with all the sanitary, communication, food distribution, and law enforcement facilities of any other American city.

A natural disaster had wiped all that off the face of the earth. And the tenuous bonds that linked the people to government, to each other, and to the faith that sustained them both disappeared in a matter of hours. In its place, nothing; no government and certainly no faith so that the lawlessness and suffering at both the Superdome and convention center became the norm.

What happened next was not the storm’s fault but the fault of government at all levels. It does no good to defend any of the major players, their staffs, or the bureaucracies who at first were confused, then panicked, and finally fell into a stuperous languour that was broken only after massive amounts of aid started to flow on Thursday in the late afternoon, more than 72 hours after the last hurricane force gust of wind moved inland from the stricken city.

Even then the suffering at the Superdome and Convention Center wasn’t over – but with the arrival of the National Guard in force as well as the long awaited and unconscionably delayed busses, there was light at the end of the tunnel. The story of what went wrong is a story of incompetence, stupidity, and just plain misunderstanding.


All bureaucracies need a plan. When you have thousands of people working on a project like “Hurricane Disaster Relief,” everyone in every agency involved has to know where to go and what to do. If not, you get what occurred in New Orleans; a combination of chaos and bureaucratic inertia.

The problem wasn’t that there was no plan. The problem wasn’t that the plans in place weren’t followed. The problem was that there were three different plans being followed by three different bureaucracies with the result being that no one knew who was ultimately responsible for many different and very important things.

By ultimately responsible I mean that in the end, someone has to make a decision. Ideally, this would be the elected officials or their staff heads. The Mayor, the Governor, and the President all rely on their experts to recommend decisions that in a disaster, means the difference between life and death for thousands. What happened to this decision making process occurred because by the time the DHS National Response Plan was activated on Tuesday afternoon – a plan that was supposed to supercede the state and local emergency plans – it was too late to materially affect the conditions in the Superdome and Convention Center.

And because the state and local plans were incomplete and contradictory, people suffered needlessly. One assumes that this is why we have a National Response Plan in the first place; to make sure that local, state, and federal authorities are all on the same page.

There was no reason to delay in initiating the National Response Plan. In fact, as the Chicago Tribune points out in this article, the plan should have been initiated at the latest on Sunday August 28th. Late the previous evening, Blanco had requested that the federal government declare a state of emergency for Louisiana. Such a declaration, using the the correct language, should have automatically triggered a response predicated on a brand new DHS disaster designation, one that had never been used before; Katrina should become an “incident of national significance.”

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco submitted letters to President Bush on Aug. 27 and Aug. 28, well before Katrina’s landfall, asking for federal help. But the head of the Homeland Security Department didn’t designate the storm an “incident of national significance,” a post-Sept. 11 reform that would trigger the full weight of the federal government, until at least 32 hours after the storm roared ashore on Aug. 29.
(Note: The time period of 32 hours is certainly incorrect. In fact, it was barely 24 hours – about 9:00 AM on Tuesday when the designation was formally announced)

Why the designation was not triggered is currently a mystery. There is no doubt that the massive federal response we saw on Thursday should have arrived on Wednesday at the latest but for the delay in initiating the National Response Plan.

In the meantime, what was going on at the Superdome?


In 1998 when hurricane George threatened the Gulf Coast, 14, 000 people used the Superdome as a “Shelter of Last Resort.” At that time, the New Orleans authorities were reluctant to open the facility but eventually realized it was the only place to put the bulk of people who were not going to take advantage of the voluntary evacuation called for at that time. The people at the dome road out the hurricane in reasonably good shape with sporadic reports of theft and violence. They went home the next day.

There is every reason to believe that the New Orleans authorities did not anticipate the massive numbers of people who would take shelter in the Dome as a result of the mandatory evacuation order issued by the Mayor at 8:00 AM Sunday morning. And because of that, what would have been a desperate situation anyway became hellish.

First, the busses. The city’s Comprehensive Emergency Disaster Plan did not call for the evacuation of the poor, the elderly, and the sick from New Orleans in case of potential disaster. The Tribune points out exactly what the plan called for:

New Orleans’ plan for dealing with its poorest residents during a major hurricane essentially was to cross its fingers. After struggling to come up with an evacuation strategy, New Orleans officials announced in July that they couldn’t provide transportation out of town before a hurricane so residents effectively were on their own.

In fact, RTA busses were to run all day Sunday not ferrying people out of town but rather to the Superdome. The state plan also called for evacuation not out of town, but to “Shelters of Last Resort.”

What these two make very clear is that the press, the left, and racialists like Jesse Jackson have been barking up the wrong tree when it comes to saying that the President “didn’t care” about poor black people.

In fact, they should be pointing the finger of blame at the governments of the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana who deliberately planned for the poor, the old, and the sick to be left behind in case of a catastrophic hurricane.

Of course, the reason they planned that way is because there was no earthly way possible to get that many people out of the way of the storm. Could they have evacuated some of them? Of that, there is no doubt. But the question needs to be asked; where? All other designated shelters were full and the state was already opening its less desirable secondary shelters. These secondary refuges were largely without supplies of food and water and would have been unsuitable for long term use.

When Governor Blanco was running around frantically on Wednesday night looking for buses to evacuate the Superdome (it is not clear if she knew about the Convention Center refugees at this point) and telling the National Guard to commandeer school busses for the trip to the Astrodome in Houston, Mayor Nagin was declining the buses on the grounds that they didn’t have bathrooms – a logical position since many of the evacuees were old or sick. And FEMA, who had been promising 500 buses for going on 24 hours had nary a bus to show for those promises. One must assume that Director Brown either had no idea how long it took to get 500 buses to New Orleans or someone was giving him erroneous information.

Even if the federal government declared Katrina “an incident of national significance on Sunday, there is no possible way anything could have been done to evacuate all the old, poor, and sick people who lived in New Orleans. And it will be worse in other, larger major cities. New Orleans has a population of only 475,000. Can you imagine having to evacuate a city the size of New York because of a threatened terrorist nuclear attack?

So the people would be stuck in the Superdome. What happened at the Dome was a direct result of the incompetence and stupidity of local authorities.

People began filing into the Dome at 8:00 AM Sunday morning. There were between 300-500 National Guardsmen along with approximately 150 police from various jurisdictions. There was food and water for approximately 15,000 people for two days. Given the number of people who had taken refuge during hurricane George, this sounds reasonable.

Except it wasn’t reasonable and this wasn’t hurricane George. The Mayor had been told the night before by National Hurricane Center Director Mayfield that this was the worst case scenario hurricane that they had long feared and that water would at the very least “overtop” the levees (not breach. No one at any level of government anticipated a breach or total break in the levees. Certainly not one 200 feet in length). At that point, Mayor Nagin knew that the people in the Superdome were going to be there a while.

How long is a legitimate question that must be asked at any hearings that are held on the disaster response. Since the federal government planned on having the Red Cross handle shelter relief as they usually do and since the Red Cross was barred by state DHS authorities from coming to the aid of people in the Superdome because these same authorities feared that people wouldn’t leave the city (or that people would even come back to New Orleans if they knew there was food and water) a large measure of blame for conditions at the Superdome rests squarely on the shoulders of the locals. Local plans even called for “port-a-potties” to be delivered to the Dome in anticipation of a loss of water. This was never done.

Part of the discomfort in the Dome and Convention Center was due to the lack of toilet facilities after the city’s water system went down late Wednesday. The city’s hurricane plan calls for portable toilets at shelters, but none ever arrived. Nagin said his understanding was that the National Guard was in charge of providing them.

Also, he added, “Our plan never assumed people being in the Dome more than two or three days.”

But perhaps more than anything, this quote from the Mayor reveals what the real problem was; unreasonable expectations:

This is ridiculous,” he said. “I mean, this is America. How can we have a state with an $18 billion budget and a federal government with an I-don’t-know-how-many trillion dollar budget, and they can’t get a few thousand people onto buses? I don’t get that.

First, it was quite a few more than “a few thousand” people. The number is over 75,000 evacuated with another 15-20,000 still to go. To believe that enough busses can be magically transported to a flooded, waterlogged city in a matter of hours to evacuate even just the 50,000 people in the Superdome and Convention Center – many of them sick, dying, and elderly – shows a man who was completely out of touch with reality and who was overwhelmed by events.


There are no words to describe the stupidity that resulted in the disaster that occured at the Convention Center. Every major media outlet including the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the AP, and the Times Picyune of New Orleans agree; the convention center was not on a list of approved shelters, no plans were made to house people there, and no one ever told FEMA that there were 20,000 (or more) people in and around the convention center to begin with.

Thus did little details slip through the cracks.

What’s even more bizarre is that evidently, no one at FEMA or DHS watched television or read newspapers for 2 days because on Thursday morning, when DHS Director Chertoff was interviewed on NPR he claimed not to have heard that there were refugees at the Convention Center.

But there were and they had been arriving since Tuesday morning.

During the early evening on Monday as more and more people who were flooded out of their homes and could walk made their way to the Superdome, it became apparent that the rapidly deteriorating conditions in the huge building would necessitate opening another shelter. The massive Convention Center would seem to fit the bill. According to this Times-Picyune story, “city officials” were considering it as early as Tuesday morning:

City officials said they might open the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center as a temporary refuge to shelter an estimated 50,000 people made homeless by the storm.

Next, we find that Fish and Wildlife employees are directing people to the Center on Tuesday morning:

A man in a passing pickup truck from the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries finally directed Wallace and the 50 other evacuees under the overpass to the convention center.

But they would find little relief there.

New evacuees were being dropped off after being pulled from inundated eastern New Orleans and Carrollton, pooling with those who arrived on foot. Some had been at the convention center since Tuesday morning but had received no food, water or instructions. They waited both inside and outside the cavernous building.

The influx overwhelmed the few staffers and Louisiana National Guardsmen on hand.

In fact, there was literally no one there. Those few staffers left early. And it’s unclear whether or not there were any National Guardsmen at the Convention Center in the first place.

Did Nagin himself know about the evacuees at the Convention Center? Why yes he did! He even paid them a visit on Wednesday:

“I went there,” he said. “I went through the crowds and talked to people, and they were not happy. They were panicked. After the shootings and the looting got out of control, I did not go back in there. My security people advised me not to go back” after Wednesday, he said.

So the Mayor knew. Did he bother to tell the Governor? Judging by the fact that Blanco called for an evacuation of the Superdome on Tuesday night without mentioning the Convention Center as well as the fact that she visited the Dome twice on Tuesday, one can draw a reasonable conclusion that the Governor was completely in the dark about any evacuees at the Convention Center:

Gov. Kathleen Blanco called for an evacuation of the 20,000 storm refugees from the Superdome after she visited the hurricane-damaged stadium Tuesday evening for the second time of the day.

She set no timetable for the withdrawal but insisted that the facility was damaged, degrading and no longer able to support the local citizens who had sought refuge in the Dome from Hurricane Katrina.

“It’s a very, very desperate situation,” Blanco said late Tuesday after returning to the capital from her visit, when she comforted the exhausted throngs of people, many of whom checked in over the weekend.

It’s imperative that we get them out. The situation is degenerating rapidly.”

Who else knew about evacuees at the Convention Center? The National Guard knew:

The people tell us that National Guard units have come by as a show of force. They have tossed some military rations out. People are eating potato chips to survive and are looting some of the stores nearby for food and drink. It is not the kind of food these people need.

Evidently, there were a whole slew of people in officialdom that knew about the crisis at the Center but failed to do anything about it. Events were quite simply outpacing the bureaucracy’s ability to deal with them.

At around 11:00 AM on Thursday morning, FEMA Director Brown finally acknowledged the human catastrophe at the Convention Center.

We learned about that (Thursday), so I have directed that we have all available resources to get that convention center to make sure that they have the food and water and medical care that they need.

Since there were reporters on the scene at the Convention Center since Tuesday afternoon and all day Wednesday CNN had been showing the horrific scenes of chaos and desperation, one wonders again if anyone at FEMA had a TV (preferably 3) turned to the cable news outlets.

Ultimately, the decision to open the Center in the first place without telling either Blanco’s office or FEMA ranks as the most catastrophically negligent action during the entire botched relief effort. And for that the Mayor is mainly responsible.

Did incompetence play a role in FEMA’s belated response? Jeff Goldstein has made an eloquent and spirited defense of the federal response to the disaster and argues that it represents the most successful response to a natural disaster in history. I can’t argue with that…too bad it started about 24 hours too late. Whether incompetence or sheer bureaucratic inertia had something to do with that, let’s hope the hearings into the disaster response will reveal the truth.


Michelle Malkin has some interesting “Post Mortem” links on Katrina including Jeff Goldstein’s Newsweek takedown.

By: Rick Moran at 8:01 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (16)

NIF linked with Somebody has a case of the Mondays

This article originally appears in The American Thinker


Hope you set a spell, relax, and read a few items. May I suggest you browse my History post archive?

For the left, the aftermath of Katrina has proven to be a godsend. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen them this happy since Hugo Chavez hornswaggled Jimmy Carter into certifying his victory in a recall vote last year. There’s just something about communist thugs that brings a smile to the face of an American lefty and makes their hearts go pitter patter.

But even a victory by “The Laughing Goat” ( La Cabra que Ríe) couldn’t possibly gladden the hearts and warm the cockles of liberals like the prospect of celebrating…what? Well, there’s that drop in the President’s poll numbers. And then there’s…let’s see. Oh! Did I mention the drop in the President’s poll numbers?

Yes, these are heady days for our left wing friends. The fact that their celebrations are taking place as a direct result of the distress, suffering, anguish and death of tens of thousands of their fellow citizens seems to not be of much concern to our morally superior betters. In fact, it has emboldened them to advance every crack pot theory on race and class that has poisoned American politics for going on forty years. One could say the left is dancing on the graves of black people, celebrating the exploitation of a political opening brought about by the incompetence of relief efforts in the largely black neighborhoods of New Orleans except for one thing; most of those graves are empty at the moment because the future les habitants haven’t even been plucked from the floodwaters yet.

But why let a small detail like common decency spoil a good party? It’s Mardi Gras in September in the Big Easy and liberals are dancing the Cajun Reel with the thousands of grinning skeletons who very soon now will start filling up the temporary mortuaries set up to receive them. The fact that we will be denied the edifying spectactle of watching the gruesome task of retrieving these corpses has now led to charges of a “cover-up” – as if focusing a camera on the bloated, blackened remains of our fellow citizens should be made into some kind of reality TV show. Kind of a Survivor meets The Great Race high concept production. Why, the syndication possibilities are staggering.

Consider the hue and cry that went up in the hours and days following September 11, 2001 about how we shouldn’t be showing images of the tortured souls as they jumped to their deaths from those doomed towers.Or the unbearable, constant replaying of the horrific scenes of destruction as the towers fell. The rational at the time was that such appalling images would breed anger and hate. But the anger and hate that would be bred by showing the maggoty corpses left behind by a man-made disaster are perfectly alright – as long as that anger and hate is directed at George Bush. After all, from the left’s perspective, if you can’t use images of a rotting cadaver for the ultimate good of making George Bush look bad, why bother?

That’s all they have to live for, of course. That and the possibility that the American people will become so outraged at the President’s choice of Michael Brown to head up the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that they will rise up in their righteous anger and smite the Republicans a mortal blow at the polls next year. The elevation of horse show impressario Brown to the lofty perch of FEMA Director may have been an unconscionable and unfathomable act of stupidity on the part of the President. But so was having Ron Brown’s Commerce Department give technology transfer waivers to American companies so that the Chinese army could improve the accuracy of thier ICBMs (Clinton). Or selling arms for hostages (Reagan). Or putting price controls on crude oil (Carter). Or putting wage and price controls into place when inflation was at the “astronomical” rate of 4.7% (Nixon). Or supporting Cuban ex-pats in a doomed-from-the-start effort to take back their country from Castro (Kennedy).

All President’s make huge mistakes. Some lead to economic distress. Others actually cost lives. At this moment, despite the left’s charges that Bush is insensitive, I doubt whether the President is getting much restful sleep these past few nights. If there is anything at all that the American people have sensed about this man on a personal level, it is a sense of a simple, faith-based compassion for his fellow citizens. Does he recognize personal responsibility in his disasterous choice of Michael Brown as FEMA Director? Firing the incompetent fool would be a good indication one way or another.

But giving Master Brown the heave-ho won’t satisfy the baying hounds at the President’s doorstep. The ghosts of New Orleans may indeed haunt Mr. Bush’s Presidency from here on out if he doesn’t act soon to counter the impression that the Federal government isn’t on top of this relief effort. It isn’t enough to promise money and support for the half million displaced people whose lives have been shattered by the storm. This is a given in America. It’s doing what’s expected.

What the President needs to do is the unexpected. Americans will back a President after he makes a mistake only when he admits the error in public and asks for forgiveness. Reagan and Clinton both made monumental errors in their second terms and yet finished their times in office with the strong support and even affection of the American people because they recognized their mistakes, apologized for them, and moved on to bigger and better things.

Following Iran-Contra, Reagan negotiated the first real reductions in a class of nuclear weapons when he signed a treaty with the Soviets eliminating medium range missiles from Europe. And following Clinton’s apology for lying to the American people about “that woman,” and his subsequent impeachment, he seemed to gather new energies which allowed him to finish his term with approval ratings over 60%.

Clearly, this is a mea culpa moment for Bush. But whether his political enemies, who now have the upper hand, allow him the luxury of such a course of action is problematic. The left’s continued glee at having the President on the run will last only as long as the President stubbornly refuses to make things right with the American people.

Things went horribly wrong in New Orleans. And while the inexplicable gaffes of the disaster tag team of Blanc-o-Nagin will ultimately come to be seen as at least equally responsible for the tragedy, the American people want an acknowledgement of what they’ve seen with their own eyes and heard with their own ears; the people that the President dispatched to deal with the relief efforts failed miserably. They want the President to take ultimate responsibility for this and they want it done soon. Any delay will be seen as playing politics and that’s something the American people have no patience for right now.

Do the right thing, Mr. Bush. And do it now.

By: Rick Moran at 8:16 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (57)

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