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According to a CNN-Gallup poll released yesterday, the American people are in no mood as yet to blame President Bush for the relief fiascoes that occurred in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Nearly twice as many people – 25% to 13% – blame the disaster debacle tag team champions Blanc-o-Nagin for the unbelievable number of screw-ups, let downs, and incompetent decision making as blame the Bush-led undynamic duo of FEMA Director Brown and DHS Secretary Chertoff. And showing a perspicacity not evident when listening to people in Washington or Baton Rouge, 38% of the American people blame Mother Nature or, specifically, no one at all.

Never underestimate the intelligence of the American people.

Only 35% think the President did a “great” or “good” job. Another 21% believe he performed neither “good” or “bad.” On the other hand, 42% believe he did either a “bad” or “terrible” job which would seem to indicate the majority of independents believe the latter.

Not very cheery numbers for the White House…but also shows the stupidity of the Democrats who have been trying to portray the relief effort as a disaster almost before the last hurricane force gusts of wind from Katrina died down in the Gulf. There has been no discernible backlash yet against the Democrat’s blatant attempt to politicize the relief efforts while people were still stranded on rooftops and the law of the jungle reigned in the Convention Center. That tally may come when many more details are revealed regarding the inability of local DHS officials to work with FEMA employees.

What is slowly emerging from the rubble in New Orleans may in fact shock the American people out of the poisonous partisan warfare that has gripped the nation for more than a decade. The question will inevitably be asked: Was part of the reason for friction between state Homeland Security Department officials and national FEMA employees the result of partisan party politics?

The state government is Democratic. The national government is full of Republicans. Could there have been a level of distrust regarding the motives of each side which played a deleterious role in the disaster? A possible hint of this was revealed by Mayor Nagin in an interview with CNN American Morning on Friday, September 2. Nagin was talking about a meeting the President had with Governor Blanco in which he offered to have the federal government take over the relief effort:

NAGIN: They both shook—I don’t 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, we’re leaving. These two people need to sit in a room together and make a doggone decision right now.’

S. O’BRIEN: And was that done?

NAGIN: The president looked at me. I think he was a little surprised. He said, “No, you guys stay here. We’re going to another section of the plane, and we’re 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 don’t 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. O’BRIEN: You’re telling me the president told you the governor said she needed 24 hours to make a decision?


S. O’BRIEN: 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. O’BRIEN: 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 didn’t happen, and more people died.

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the Governor didn’t trust the President not to use the federalizing of the relief effort to highlight the national response to the tragedy at the expense of state efforts. Nor could the President take much more of the idiotic finger pointing on the part of Mayor Nagin who seemed to be spending more time giving interviews to the press saying nothing was being done than he did trying to recall the 500 or so New Orleans city policemen who had vanished into thin air once the storm struck.

Once the complete picture emerges regarding the scope of this tragedy, those numbers may jump substantially one way or another. For now, the American people, as usual, are showing themselves to be much more grown up than the idiots who are trying to make one side more culpable than the other.

By: Rick Moran at 11:48 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (12)

NIF linked with Schwing!

After spending the last 48 hours reading and tabulating information about who, where, when, and what went wrong with Katrina relief, I’d like to proclaim myself an expert. That’s right. You see, these days, anyone can be an expert on anything. It doesn’t take much at all, just the cohones to come out and brag about how knowledgeable you are on any given subject.

That said, I know exactly what went wrong with relief efforts in New Orleans. And surprisingly, it had very little to do with submerged busses, broken promises, missing National Guard troops, and most especially the race, economic status, or political preferencs of the victims.

It was a disaster.

There, I’ve said it. 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 pontifiate 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 why blame anyone?

The politics of the present demand that blame be assessed not so that things can “improve” the next time Mother Nature decides to sit on several million people and destroy lives and livelihoods but so that points can be scored for or against your foe. Like some macabre and ghoulish game of tag, the right and left in the new and old media – myself included – have been slapping each other back and forth in as unedifying a manner as can be imagined. We have not covered ourselves in glory over this tragic episode in our nation’s life. The world is watching wide eyed (and not without a little fear I’d wager) at the spectacle we’re making of ourselves. The scenes of devastation are bad enough. But the glimpse into the pit of hell given to us by the humans who turned into animals stalking their prey like the super-predators we once were has reminded us all that we are still a relatively new species, anthropologically speaking and the thin veneer of civilization we wear can be ripped to shreds by the exigencies of circumstance.

But even the descent of New Orleans into madness was not a deliberate act but rather the consequence of our choice as humans to gather ourselves into communities and, despite every natural impulse screaming at us to do otherwise, try and live together without attacking and felling every stranger that crosses our path. I know there are many who reject this Darwinian view of our species on either anthropologic or religious grounds. But when otherwise civilized human beings – people who just a short while ago you could have walked past on the streets of New Orleans and not been worried about being shot or raped – are turned into gun-toting maniacs, looting and pillaging in a frenzy of blood and lust for booty, that behavior cannot be laid at the feet of a Mayor who might have frozen up or a Governor who may be incompetent, or a FEMA director who could be clueless, or a President who perhaps doesn’t care.

The blame, dearest readers, lies in what Mother Nature did, not in what humans are capable of doing.

This is what a major disaster does. Katrina’s winds didn’t just turn once sturdy dwellings into a jumble of wood and masonry. They also blew away the rickety structures of government that modern humans have come to depend on so heavily to protect us from our own base natures. Would it have been possible to avoid this catastrophic loss of dependency?

I’m sure whatever commission or Congressional committee that investigates the response to the disaster will assign blame to someone or something. That will be the purpose of such a body. But as we’ve recently seen with the 9/11 Commission, politics will be unavoidable. Even in relatively peaceful times where comity reigns and the rush to play “gotchya” games with the nation’s disaster preparedness would be resisted with a little more vigor, the intrusion of partisanship could be minimized but never eliminated. It is the nature of democratic government. Deal with it.

What we should be worrying about is something that any sophmore in high school who has taken “Introduction to Geology” could tell you about; that the earth has seen much, much worse. Back in 1811, the biggest earthquake to ever hit the north American continent struck along the New Madrid fault causing the Mississippi River to actually change course and run backward. And, as physicist Louis Alvarez observed when looking for the meteor strike that may have wiped out the dinasours 60 million years ago, “Have you ever noticed how round the Gulf of Mexico is?”

The list of disaster unthinkables is a long one. A volcanic island in the Canary chain could have half its surface slide into the ocean causing a mile high tsunami that would wash over the eastern seaboard of the US as far inland as the Appalachins. A mountain sized meteor could smash into the Pacific Ocean causing waves to lap at the foothills of the Rocky mountains. A super volcano could erupt in Yellowstone covering half the US with a layer of ash and blocking the sun for months. A large chunck of the Antarctic glacier could slide into the ocean and cause hemispheric catastrophe.

How about something more bizarre? How about a nearby star exploding into a spectacular supernova that would light up our night sky as bright as day…at least until the force of the explosion arrived a short time later to rip the atmosphere away from the planet anhililating all life. Or suppose our stable, reliable sun were to suddenly experience a hiccup and burp a massive solar flare toward earth that would vaporize us in about an hour and a half?

Our puny little efforts to shield ourselves from nature’s fury by “planning” for such calamaties either shows us to be drunk with hubris or insanely optimistic. Therefore, don’t the questions we will be asking our leaders in the inevitable hearings to follow strike you as just a little unrealistic? Where were the busses Mr. Mayor? What about the Guard Madam Governor? What could you have been thinking, Mr. FEMA Director? Do you feel our pain, Mr. President?

These may be good questions but they’re beside the point. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, will we really learn anything that will help us avoid a calamity like this again? Every single disaster we hear “We’ll do better next time.” And every single time that “next time” comes, we fail miserably and utterly to protect people from the catastrophe. It still takes time for rescuers to reach trapped people. They are sometimes too late to do anything. People go hungry. People are thirsty. People still lose everything.

May I suggest a new way to approach these disasters? Instead of waiting to pounce on the next President for not reacting the way that you think she or he should react, perhaps we should bend every effort toward simply acknowledging there are some things beyond our control and going from there. Sure, preposition as many supplies and equipment as you think best, for all the good it does. Even with a minor hurricane, thousands of people will still go hungry, still go thirsty, still lose their homes, and people will still die.

The politics of disaster have changed. If you on the left want to play this game, I daresay you will be as livid as we on the right are when there’s a Democratic President faced with something even half as devastating as Katrina and you find every move questioned, every scrap of food delayed a cause for screaming, and every death an occasion for crocodile tears.

They’re suffering in New Orleans. And both the leaders and the led could benefit by using a little perspective. The enemy is Mother Nature. And as everyone knows, you can’t fight Mother, you simply get out of her way.

By: Rick Moran at 11:55 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (27)

Restless Mania linked with Friday Gatling Blog
Leanne Wildermuth : Artist by Nature linked with Katrina
basil's blog linked with Breakfast: 9/7/2005
SHINY HAPPY GULAG linked with Quotha


NOTE: My little hosting company has not been able to keep up with the monster traffic this site has recieved in the last 18 hours. If you have trouble leaving a comment or if the page is slow loading, I apologize.

FURTHER NOTE: OK…back to work now. Expect revised Timeline II by 7:00 PM Central Time.

The following is a timeline that details the response of local, state, and federal authorities to the disaster in New Orleans.

I have not included any information for other areas hit by the storm.

I used one source almost exclusively – the online editions of the New Orleans Times-Picayune (hereinafter referred to as TP). I daresay the paper will receive a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage. (9/6): More sources have been used as they have become available.

IT IS NOT MY INTENTION TO PLAY THE “BLAME GAMEBY PUBLISHING THIS TIMELINE.. In fact, if you have a link to a story that contradicts or adds to this timeline, I urge you to send it along. My sole purpose is to place this timeline on the record to dispel the rumors, the spin, and the outright falsehoods being flung about by both right and left bloggers and pundits.

The timeline runs from Friday, August 26 to Friday September 2.


Several excellent suggestions and comments from various readers include the following:

1. Why not include on-the-ground- observations from bloggers? Short answer, it’s hearsay and unconfirmed. I have riveting accounts from various parts of the city in the hours after the disaster but there’s just no way to confirm the information. Perhaps what ever commission or Congressional panel is empowered to look into this fiasco will call them as witnesses. I hope so.

2. What? Nothing on the submerged busses? Sorry, I wish I could include stuff that either the locals or the feds didn’t do or should have done but the nature of a timeline only lends itself to what was actually done. Which brings me to my final point:

3. All that stuff prepositioned by the feds never got to the people, why put it in there? The fact is, unless I see some hard evidence that all of that stuff wasn’t in place it remains as part of the response and hence part of the timeline. I daresay that similar questions will be asked by folks with the power of subpenoa – something I don’t have.


No more emails please. I’m sure there are others doing a timeline who would appreicate your input as much as I have. And for all who took the time to help – even those who wanted to “prove” one thing or another – I thank you.




Dozens of local, state, and federal disaster officials meet to discuss FEMA Disaster Declaration No. 1601 that was issued as a result of tropical storm Cindy damages that occurred in July.

They also briefly discussed Katrina – although not quite in the context you might think:

“We’ve got this one storm we’re clearing up, yet we have another in the Gulf,” he said of Katrina, a rapidly strengthening storm that crossed south Florida on Thursday night and is expected to make a second landfall as a strong Category 3 hurricane somewhere between Louisiana and Florida late Sunday or Monday.

The subject of Friday’s meeting was serious, but as is often the case, participants relied on a bit of humor to ease the tension.

“Shouldn’t we just apply for Katrina money now? It would save time and taxpayers’ money,” joked Jim Baker, operations superintendent for the East Jefferson Levee District, one of the public agencies in line for a FEMA check.

Wonder what the group thought about this?

Off and on throughout the morning, Smith and Col. Steve Dabadie, Louisiana National Guard chief of staff, used a hand-held device to keep a check on Katrina’s track.

When the storm began a slight shift to the west, the device was passed from hand-to-hand for others to get a look.

Bet that room sobered up quite a bit after that.

The Mississippi Valley Division of the Army Corps of Engineers activates teams along the Mississippi and Louisiana Gulf Coasts to prepare for a potential response to Hurricane Katrina. (HT: Random 10)

Governor Blanco declares a State of Emergency for all of Louisiana. The President also issues a State of Emergency declaration and directs DHS and FEMA to coordinate disaster relief efforts. Revised 9/8.



Overnight, Katrina strengthened and was drawing a bead on the gulf coast, moving west-northwest at 15 miles an hour and packing winds of 115 MPH.


A press conference with Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco sounded the alarm. The Mayor urged residents to take the storm seriously saying to residents of low lying areas, “We want you to take this a little more seriously and start moving — right now, as a matter of fact,” Nagin said he would open the Superdome as a shelter of “last resort” for people with “special needs.”

He advised anyone planning to stay there to bring there own food, drinks and other comforts such as folding chairs, as if planning to go camping.

“No weapons, no large items, and bring small quanties of food for three or four days, to be safe,” he said.

Nagin spokeswoman Tami Frazier stressed that the mayor does not want citizens to plan on staying in the Dome—instead, they should make arrangements to leave the city if possible.

Police Superintendent Edward Compass said that looters would be “dealt with severly and harshly and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

By mid-afternoon, officials in Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, Lafourche, Terrebonne and Jefferson parishes had called for voluntary or mandatory evacuations.

Mayor Nagin issued a voluntary evacuation order at 5:00 PM.

Nagin said late Saturday that he’s having his legal staff look into whether he can order a mandatory evacuation of the city, a step he’s been hesitant to do because of potential liability on the part of the city for closing hotels and other businesses. “Come the first break of light in the morning, you may have the first mandatory evacuation of New Orleans,” Nagin told WWL-TV.

The National Hurrican Center warns officials that Katrina is strengthening and will probably make landfall as a Category 4 or 5. This is really scary. This is not a test, as your governor said earlier today. This is the real thing,” said Director Max Mayfield. “The bottom line is this is a worst-case scenario and everybody needs to recognize it,” he said.

National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield calls Mayor Nagin at his home telling him that a mandatory evacuation was needed. He also calls Governor Blanco informing her of the strength of the Hurricane and its potential damage. Revised 9/7



By 8:00 AM, Katrina, a category 5 hurricane, is headed straight for New Orleans. According to this peice in Editor and Publisher FEMA Director Brown, DHS Secretary Chertoff as well as local and state officials are informed by National Hurricane Director Max Mayfield via electronic briefing that the storm will cause massive damage and flooding – including levee toppings (not breeches) – in New Orleans 32 hours before the eye of the storm makes landfall. Mayfield briefed the President later in the day via video conference.

“Mayfield said the strength of the storm and the potential disaster it could bring were made clear during both the briefings and in formal advisories, which warned of a storm surge capable of overtopping levees in New Orleans and winds strong enough to blow out windows of high-rise buildings.” Revised 9/10

The Superdome opens at 8:00 AM and begins to take people in.

In the face of a catastrophic Hurricane Katrina, a mandatory evacuation was ordered Sunday for New Orleans by Mayor Ray Nagin.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco, standing beside the mayor at a news conference, said President Bush called and personally appealed for a mandatory evacuation. The President’s call came just prior to the news conference and occurred after the decision had already been made. for the low-lying city, which is prone to flooding. Revised 9/6 (HT: Jay) Lexis-Nexis Subscription needed to access link.

“There doesn’t seem to be any relief in sight,” Blanco said.

The Mayor’s office announces at 9:30 AM that RTA (Regional Transit Authority) busses will pick people up at 12 locations throughout the city and take them to shelters – including the Superdome. This is in accordance with both the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan for the city of New Orleans and The State of Louisiana Emergency Operations Plan Supplement 1B which clearly states that people who cannot be evacuated will be taken to “last resort” shelters such as the Superdome.

At 11:30 AM the President delivers a statement vowing to help those affected by the hurricane.

Governor Blanco requests that the President declare an “expected major disaster” for the state of Louisiana under the auspices of the Stafford Act. The declaration is designed to start major relief supplies flowing immediately to the affected area. Revised 9/8
By noon, the city puts its contraflow traffic system in effect so that both sides of major highways will allow for traffic out of the city.


The Coast Guard Auxillary was preparing to deploy. “William Crouch, Vice Commodore of the Auxiliary Eighth District Central Region stated this afternoon that “units from outlying areas are preparing to depart for the disaster area as soon as the situation becomes clear.”

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson offered Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco help from his state’s National Guard on Sunday. Blanco accepted, but paperwork needed to get the troops en route didn’t come from Washington until late Thursday. Revised 9/7

National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield holds a video conference call with President Bush in which he outlines the strength of the hurricane and potential damage. Revised 9/8

By 3:00 PM, more than 10,000 people had either made their way into the Superdome or were standing outside. Those with medical problems were shuffled over to one side of the dome. Everyone else went to the other side:

The people arriving on this side of the building are expected to fend for themselves,” said Terry Ebbert, the city’s homeland security director. “We have some water.”

About 150 National Guard soldiers, New Orleans police and civil sheriff’s deputies were patrolling the facility. Some weapons were confiscated.

Officials were settling in for what they predicted would be an incredibly hot and uncomfortable night. They expected flooding on the field and loss of power early today.

But officials were confident they could care for those with special needs.

“I’m not worried about what is tolerable or intolerable,” he [Ebbert] said. “I’m worried about, whether you are alive on Tuesday.”

Mayor Nagin ordered a curfew for the city beginning at 6:00 PM.


Louisiana Senators send a joint letter to the President thanking him for his actions and requesting that he visit the storm ravaged area “as soon as practical.”

The Coast Guard closes the ports and waterways into New Orleans. “The Guard also moved 40 aircraft and 30 boats and cutters in positions surrounding the expected strike zone, such as Houston and Jacksonville, readying to conduct search and rescue and humantarian missions, the Guard release said. ”

A 10:00 PM Katrina advisory by the National Hurricane Center has the storm moving slightly to the east and weakening.

About 26,000 people are taking refuge in the Superdome. “To help keep them fed and hydrated, the Louisiana National Guard delivered three truckloads of water and seven truckloads of MREs — short for “meals ready to eat.” That’s enough to supply 15,000 people for three days, according to Col. Jay Mayeaux, deputy director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Emergency Preparedness.

Wes McDermott with the Office of Emergency Preparedness reports on conditions inside the Superdome. There are between 8,000 and 9,000 (later reports put the number at 26,000) people with more than 600 people with medical needs on hand.

Also, General Ralph Lupin, who commands the 550 National Guardsmen at the Superdome, reports that an additional 400 people have been sent to area hospitals before the 11:00 PM curfew. Revised 9/10

Louis Armstrong Airport closes late Sunday night.


Overnight and Morning

More than 4,000 National Guardsmen are mobilizing in Memphis” to help police New Orleans streets.

The city’s director of homeland security said tonight that officials hope Katrina gets through the region Monday with several hours of daylight left so they can get up in the air and assess the damage.

“We are going to have very limited communication,” Terry Ebbert said. “The first order of business will be life-saving operations.” That may mean relocating thousands of people in the Superdome once power goes out and temperatures start to rise above 100 degrees, he said

At 3:00 AM the National Hurricane Center reported Katrian three hours from landfall with winds of 150 MPH.

Aircraft in position to help assess the damage and carry out rescues:

Aircraft are positioned from Hammond to the Texas border ready to fly behind the storm to check damage after it passes over New Orleans, said Maj. Gen. Bennett C. Landreneau, head of the Louisiana National Guard.

Search and rescue operations are being coordinated by the Guard with the state Wildlife and Fisheries Department and Coast Guard poised to help search for survivors stranded by the storm. Guardsmen are also deployed at the Jackson Barracks ready to head into the city using high-water vehicles, Landreneau said.

Director Ebbert said rescue priorities would be given to those stranded in their homes and those hospitalized. “If the storm passes by 2 p.m., Ebbert said, “we have a few hours to get these people out before dark. It may involve some airlifts.’’

Hurricane Katrina strikes New Orleans at 8:00 AM with winds at 120 MPH and a storm surge of 18 feet. Revised 9/8

As the Category 4 surged ashore just east of New Orleans on Monday, FEMA had medical teams, rescue squads and groups prepared to supply food and water poised in a semicircle around the city, said agency Director Michael Brown.

Brown, in a telephone interview with The Associated Press, said the evacuation of the city and the general emergency response were working as planned in an exercise a year ago. “I was impressed with the evacuation, once it was ordered it was very smooth.”

Levee break at 17th street floods about 20% of the city.

At 11:00 AM, FEMA Director Brown arrives in Baton Rouge at the State Office of Emergency Preparedness.


FEMA Director Brown sends a memo to DHS Secretary Chertoff requesting the additonal 1,000 FEMA employees engaged in victims assistance (aiding residents in filling out disaster relief forms) and community outreach be dispatched to Louisiana. Brown indicates that the employees have two days to report to LA Homeland Security headquarters. Revised 9/7

FEMA issues a statement urging first responders from other states not to come to disaster area unless there’s coordination between state and local disaster management officials. Revised 9/6

At 1:30 PM, boil order goes into effect for water.

At 1:45 PM, President Bush declares the states of Louisiana and Mississippi “Major Disaster Areas.”

Midafternoon: First reports of looting. TP terms it “widespread.”

At midafternoon Monday, a parade of looters streamed from Coleman’s Retail Store at 4001 Earhart Blvd. The looters, men and women who appeared to be in their early teens to mid-40s, braved a steady rain and infrequent tropical-stormforce winds to tote away boxes of clothing and shoes from the store.

By 2:00 PM, “Wes McDermott, from the office of emergency preparedness in New Orleans, said officials have fielded at least 100 calls from people in distress in the Lower 9th Ward and eastern New Orleans.”

At 3:00 PM President Bush said in a speech in Arizona “the federal government has got assets and resources that we’ll be deploying to help you.”

At 3:00 PM, Director Ebbett said “Everybody who had a way or wanted to get out of the way of this storm was able to. For some that didn’t, it was their last night on this earth.’’ He also said that the city had 100 boats to carry out search and rescue operations.

At 3:45 PM Louisiana Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown said this afternoon that it’s too early to give an estimate on damage in New Orleans, because he is unable to get a team into downtown. The water level in St. Bernard Parish had reached the second story of the courthouse. Revised 9/8

By 5:00 PM, hundreds of reports are coming in of people trapped by the flood.

At 6:50 PM, more reports of looting.


Search and Rescue teams work through the night to bring people to safety.

[Wildlife Secretary] Landreneau said by dawn he will have more than 200 boats in the water, 120 more than he had Monday. He said he has a commitment from Texas for another 50 boats.

Red Cross issues a statement. Expects largest recovery operation ever:

American Red Cross spokesman Victor Howell said 750 to 1,000 Red Cross personnel are now at work on hurricane recovery in Louisiana, and 2,000 more volunteers will be here in the next few days.

The Red Cross will bring in three large mobile kitchens to prepare 500,000 meals per day. There are 40 shelters statewide, housing about 32,000 people, “and you’re going to have more,” Howell said.

Mayor Nagin, in an interview with TP relates a conversation with federal disaster officials. “FEMA said give us a list of your needs,” said Nagin, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “And let me tell you, we’re giving them a hell of a list.”



Overnight, New Orleans city officials consider whether or not to use the Ernest E. Morial Convention Center as an additional refuge for survivors:

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.

This is the first mention by city officials of using the Convention Center, a shelter not listed in the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan nor listed in any other public statements as a place of refuge for residents. As of 9/7, there is no evidence city officials ever told FEMA or LA Homeland Security officials that they planned to use the Center to house evacuees. Revised 9/7

My Way News reports 4725 LA National Guardsmen deployed on Tuesday. Revised 9/6

DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff activates the National Response Plan and declares Katrina an “incident of national significance”:

The National Response Plan (NRP) fully mobilizes the resources of the entire federal government to support response and recovery efforts for state and local authorities – particularly in the event of a catastrophic incident. Secretary Chertoff has declared the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina an incident of national significance – the first-ever use of this designation. Revised 9/7

Water continues to rise with officials at a loss how to explain it.

It is announced that 500 “special needs patients” at the Superdome will be moved by the end of the day “by whatever means necessary.” Also, Director Landenreau says that 350 boats are in the water looking for trapped residents with 60 more on the way from Texas.

By midmorning it is confirmed that 4 people have died at the Superdome; 3 sick patients and one probable suicide.

Prisoner evacuation from two jails begins.

President’s statement on Katrina devastation.

In an interview with Hugh Hewitt on 9/7, Fox News Correspondent Major Garrett reports that the American Red Cross was ready to go to the Superdome “on Monday or Tuesday” to assist in the relief of the 25,000 people who had taken refuge there but were prevented by the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security from doing so. According to Garrett and this FAQ at the Red Cross website, the reason given was because their presence “would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.” Revised 9/8

At the request of FEMA, the military begins to move additional ships and helicopters to the region. (HT: Jay) Revised 9/6

TP evacuates - moves to Houma.

In an interview with Tim Russert on 9/4, DHS Secretary Chertoff reveals that the first he heard of the 17th street levee break was “midday on Tuesday.” Revised 9/8

Pentagon spokesman Di Rita issues statement saying “the states have adequate National Guard units to handle the hurricane needs, with at least 60 percent of the guard available in each state. He said about 6,500 National Guard troops were available in Louisiana, about 7,000 troops in Mississippi, nearly 10,000 in Alabama and about 8,200 in Florida.

At 4:30 PM, officials send out a call for anyone with boats to help in the rescue effort.

TP reports that police and firefighters are joining in the looting:

At the Wal-Mart on Tchoupitoulas Street, an initial effort to hand out provisions to stranded citizens quickly disintegrated into mass looting. Authorities at the scene said bedlam erupted after the giveaway was announced over the radio.

While many people carried out food and essential supplies, others cleared out jewelry racks and carted out computers, TVs and appliances on handtrucks.

Some officers joined in taking whatever they could, including one New Orleans cop who loaded a shopping cart with a compact computer and a 27-inch flat screen television. (Um…read the whole thing. You won’t believe it. Ed.)

Director Ebbert announces that work has begun to plug the 17th street levee. (Note: Work on plugging the levee did not begin at this time. It is unclear whether he was told that it was beginning or whether he assumed it was from a conversation with the Army Corps of Engineers who said work would begin that afternoon. Ed.)

Levee repair timeline uncertain. This from National Guard Commander Jeff Smith:

Col. Jeff Smith with the Louisiana National Guard said the Corps has informed the state that they are beginning to plan how exactly to fill the holes in the levee, which observers described as several hundred feet long.

Ebbert says work has started. Smith says work has started on planning. This would be a possible explanation for both Ebbert and the Mayor’s frustration. Could they have misunderstood?

Also, hospitals are being evacuated and rescue operations continue. The Governor made it clear that search and rescue was the highest priority:

Blanco said that while search and rescue operations continued that officials were also getting supplies to hospitals and people who sought refuge at the Superdome, which is receiving more residents as people are rescued. After officials have completed all of their rescue operations, they will begin to assess how to evacuate other people in the city who are in high, dry locations.

People being rescued and others looking for food and water are told to go to the Convention Center by local officials. When they get there they find no food, no water, and just a few police. (First mention of Convention Center shelter by TP at 11:09 PM on Wednesday)

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. Added 9/5.


At 5:50 PM Bush announces he is cutting short his vacation and returning to Washington.

As of Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the storm had passed over the area, this represented the federal response to date as publicized to the disaster. Here are some highlights: Revised 9/8

FEMA deployed 23 Disaster Medical Assistance Teams from all across the U.S. to staging areas in Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, and Louisiana and is now moving them into impacted areas.

Seven Urban Search and Rescue task forces and two Incident Support Teams have been deployed and propositioned in Shreveport, La., and Jackson, Miss., including teams from Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Maryland, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Three more Urban Search and Rescue teams are in the process of deployment.

FEMA is moving supplies and equipment into the hardest hit areas as quickly as possible, especially water, ice, meals, medical supplies, generators, tents, and tarps.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) dispatched more than 390 trucks that are beginning to deliver millions of meals ready to eat, millions of liters of water, tarps, millions of pounds of ice, mobile homes, generators, containers of disaster supplies, and forklifts to flood damaged areas. DOT has helicopters and a plane assisting delivery of essential supplies.

The National Guard of the four most heavily impacted states are providing support to civil authorities as well as generator, medical and shelter with approximately 7,500 troops on State Active Duty. The National Guard is augmenting civilian law enforcement capacity; not acting in lieu of it.

At 6:30 PM Mayor Nagin issued an urgent bulletin:

Nagin said efforts to stop the flow of water at the breach on the 17th Street Canal are failing, which means the floodwaters will rise again.

Nagin said the waters will soon overwhelm the pump, shutting it down. He said the water will rise to 3 feet above sea level – or 12-15 feet in some places of east Jefferson and Orleans parishes.

The additional flooding causes 80% of the city to be underwater.

At 8:10 PM, TP reports that more than 24 hours after it started, looting is now city wide.

“People are leaving the Superdome to go to Canal Street to loot,” Thomas said. “Some people broke into drug stores and stole the drugs off the shelves. It is looting times five. I’m telling you, it’s like Sodom and Gomorrah.”

At 8:55 TP reports that the Army Corps of Engineers is working frantically to try and fix the breach in the 17th street levee.

Mark Lambert, chief spokesman for the agency, said that a convoy of trucks carrying 108 15,000-pound concrete barriers – like those used as highway construction dividers—was en route to the site Tuesday night

The USS Bataan deploys two helicopter squadrons for search and rescue operations in New Orleans. Revised 9/6

At 9:02 PM TP reports that the State Attorney General’s office is denying that martial law has been declared.

At 10:40 PM TP reports that 40 additional state troopers have been deployed more than 28 hours after initial reports of looting.

At 10:15 PM, Governor Blanco releases a statement calling for the evacuation of the Superdome.

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.”



My Way News reports an additional 700 National Guardsmen from TX, OH, and OK are deployed in LA. Revised 9/6

Early Aug. 31, an MC-130P Combat Shadow from Hurlburt’s 16th Special Operations Squadron flew a team of combat controllers to the New Orleans airport to set up lights which would allow reopening the runway for nighttime operations. The airport has no electrical power.” Revised 9/6

Governor Blanco called for a total evacuation of the city of New Orleans.

In an interview on Good Morning America, the Governor said “We’ve sent buses in. We will be either loading them by boat, helicopter, anything that is necessary.”

When asked about looting the Governor said “We don’t like looters one bit, but first and foremost is search and rescue.”

Blanco said she wanted the Superdome — which had become a shelter of last resort for about 20,000 people — evacuated within two days, along with other gathering points for storm refugees. The situation inside the dank and sweltering Superdome was becoming desperate: The water was rising, the air conditioning was out, toilets were broken, and tempers were rising.

Governor Blanco asks the President to send federal troops to conduct law enforcement activities.

At 10:00 AM TP reports that a spokesperson for the Texas Governors office says refugees from the Superdome will be put up in the Astrodome:

FEMA is providing 475 buses for the convoy and the Astrodome’s schedule has been cleared through December for housing evacuees, a spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry said.

A spokseman for Homeland Security:

Mark Smith, a Louisiana Department of Homeland Security spokesman, said 3,000 Louisiana National Guard members are helping with the rescue effort and that more guard troops are on their way from other states. The main focus Wednesday morning is to evacuate patients from hospitals and to evacuate the Superdome, where conditions are deteriorating for the estimated 15,000 people sheltered there. (HT: Blueguitar guy) Revised 9/6

Yahoo News:

Gov. Kathleen Blanco said she has asked the White House to send more people to help with evacuations and rescues, thereby freeing up National Guardsmen to stop looters.

“We will restore law and order,” Blanco said. “What angers me the most is that disasters like this often bring out the worst in people. I will not tolerate this kind of behavior.”


Governor Blanco announces that Superdome evacuation will begin Wednesday evening.

Department of Social Services Secretary Ann Williamson said the buses should start rolling later Wednesday. About 475 vehicles have been arranged to ferry the evacuees to Houston.

State officials said they hope that bringing in the Army to help with search, rescue and relief efforts will allow National Guard troops to redirect their efforts to restoring order and curtail the widespread looting taking place in New Orleans and elsewhere. “We’re trying to shift our resources,” said Denise Bottcher, a Blanco spokeswoman.

“This is one of the largest, if not the largest evacuations in this country,” said Col. Jeff Smith, deputy director of the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

“This (plan) buys us some time so we can figure things out,” said FEMA spokesman Bill Lokey.

At 1:40 PM State Secrertary of Transportation and Development Johnny Bradberry said Lake Pontchatrain has receded by two feet since yesterday as water levels equalized between the lake and the flooded city interior.

“The good news here is that we’ve stabilized. Water is not rising in the city,” Bradberry said.

The feds declare a Public Health Emergency:

HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt Wednesday declared a federal public health emergency and accelerated efforts to create up to 40 emergency medical shelters to provide care for evacuees and victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Working with its federal partners, HHS is helping provide and staff 250 beds in each shelter for a total of 10,000 beds for the region. Ten of these facilities will be staged within the next 72 hours and another 10 will be deployed within the next 100 hours after that. In addition, HHS is deploying up to 4,000 medically-qualified personnel to staff these facilities and to meet other health care needs in this region.

Mayor Ray Nagin ordered 1,500 police – or however many officers were still on the force – to leave their search-and-rescue mission Wednesday night and return to the streets of New Orleans to stop looting. Revised 9/8

Governor Blanco issues an Executive Order allowing the National Guard to seize school busses in order to help in the evacuation:

National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Pete Schneider, said the order, signed by Gov. Kathleen Blanco late Wednesday, means “we are going to take the buses. We need to get people out of New Orleans.. . . .Either they will give them up or we will take them.’’ It is unclear whether the Governor is referring to the hundreds of school busses in a New Orleans city parking lot 1.2 miles from the Superdome that contained 255 busses, all underwater. She was also procuring busses from around the state. In an press conference the next day, General Honore says that busses from FEMA have also arrived. (HT: Tony & Junkyard Blog) Revised 9/6



My Way News reports 6500 National Guardsmen from AR, CO, KS, MO, NV, OH, OK, and TX are deployed in Louisiana. Revised 9/6

At 12:30 AM evacuees from the Superdome begin arriving in Houston.

Col. Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard said this morning that the evacuation of the rest of New Orleans was in full swing. At least 70 buses had picked up refugees from the Superdome, and officials were considering using trains and boats to ship people to safety.

At 4:15 AM TP reports that the Coast Guard says it has rescued 3,000 stranded victims from the city.

President Bush calls for “zero tolerance” for looters or price gougers in an interview with Diane Sawyer.

More snafus in attempts to fix the levee at 17th street:

Spokeswoman Cleo Allen of the state Department of Transportation and Development said the agency is coordinating with railroads and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to raise the Seabrook bridge, the Almonaster Ave. bridge and the Danziger Road bridge. Farther southwest, authorities are also trying to raise a bridge at Larose so that a barge loaded with relief supplies can get through Bayou Lafourche.

More National Guard troops on the way:

Lt. Col Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard also said 7,500 guard soldiers from around the country are en route to Louisiana to complement the 3,000 from Louisiana who have been helping with search and rescue operations and security since Katrina struck on Monday.

President Bush agrees to have the federal government pick up the entire tab for relief efforts.

In an interview with NPR’s Michael Seigel, DHS Secretary Chertoff admits he knows nothing of the people stranded at the convention center. Revised 9/6


Governor Blanco announces at a press conference that there are less than 2400 people left at the Superdome.

The Defense Department announces the deployment of an additional 30,000 troops to the Gulf region.

State and Federal authorities begin the evacuations of Charity and University Hospitals. They are halted briefly when shots are fired at helicopters evacuating patients.

In an article on Thursday afternoon, Brian Thevenot of TP reports that officials are starting to get control of the city.

As military and humantarian efforts finally began to take hold, the anarchy that has consumed New Orleans over the past two days, making the city resemble a Third World war zone, had not fully subsided but authorities appeared to have amassed sufficient numbers to seize the upper hand.

Neighborhoods that had been populated by bands of wanderers and armed thieves looked nearly empty, save for police patrols that were non-existent a day earlier. In Uptown, the Central Business District and the French Quarter, substantially smaller crowds of refugees and potential looters found themselves surrounded by ever increasing numbers of National Guard troops and police officers.

Mayor Nagin explodes on live radio, railing against federal relief efforts. If you’ve come this far with me, all I ask is that you read his comments and compare them to what has been reported in this timeline previously.

“You know the reason why the looters got out of control?” Nagin said. “We have most of our resources saving people. They were stuck in attics, man, old ladies. You pull off the doggone ventilator and look down and they’re standing there in water up to their fricking neck.”

“I need reinforcements,” he said. “I need troops, man. I need 500 buses.”

The relief efforts made so far had been pathetically insufficient, Nagin said.

“They’re thinking small, man, and this is a major, MAJOR deal,” Nagin said. “God is looking down on this and if they are not doing everything in their power to save people, they are going to pay the price. Every day that we delay, people are dying, and they’re dying by the hundreds, I’m willing to bet you.”

Rolling now, Nagin described distress calls he’d heard. Nagin mocked the efforts to block the 17th Street
Canal breach.

“I flew over that thing yesterday and it was in the same shape it was in after the storm hit,” he said.
“There is nothing happening there. They’re feeding the public a line of bull and they’re spinning and people are dying down here.”
(HT: Ghosty) Revised 9/6 – moved from Friday to Thursday.

In an interview with Paula Zahn, FEMA Director Brown says he just heard about people stranded at the convention center “a few hours ago.” Revised 9/6


My Way News reports that an additional 3000 National Guardsmen from 15 states are deployed in LA. Revised 9/6

In the early morning, 20 deputies and six emergency medical technicians from Loudon County, Virginia were turned away because “neither FEMA nor the Louisiana authorities was willing to act on the request from Jefferson Parish.” (HT: Jay) Revised 9/6

At 9:35 AM in a speech given in Mississippi, the President praises FEMA Director Brown saying “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”

State Rep. Karen Carter, D-New Orleans, made an urgent plea Friday morning for gasoline and buses to ferry victims to safety who have been stuck in New Orleans under deteriorating conditions since Hurricane Katrina struck the city four days ago.

“If you want to save a life get a bus down here,” said Carter, whose district includes the French Quarter. “I’m asking the American people to help save a wonderful American city.” Her voice cracking with emotion and her eyes bloodshot from fatigue and distress, Carter said pledges of money and other assistance are of secondary importance right now to the urgent need for transportation.

“Don’t give me your money. Don’t send me $10 million today. Give me buses and gas. Buses and gas. Buses and gas,” she said. “If you have to commandeer Greyhound, commandeer Greyhound. … If you donn’t get a bus, if we don’t get them out of there, they will die.”

Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, who is coordinating federal relief efforts on behalf of the National Guard, could not say when people can expect to be rescued. “If you’re human you’ve got to be affected by it, Blum said. “These people, their heartstrings are torn as are yours. (But) the magnitude of this problem is you cannot help everybody at the same time.”

The Coast Guard announced it has rescued more than 4,000 victims of the hurricane and flood.

President Bush visits New Orleans, taking a helicopter tour with Mayor Nagin. According to the Mayor Bush tells him that “he [the President] was fully committed to getting us the resources we need,” Nagin said in the tattered Hyatt hotel next to the Superdome. “I told him I knew we could work together, and he said he understood.”

In an interview with CNN on 9/5, Mayor Nagin says that Governor Blanco resisted a request from the Federal government to nationalize the relief effort when meeting with President Bush aboard Air Force I. Blanco is reported to have asked for 24 hours to “think about it.” (HT: Sue Hanley) Revised 9/6

In a special briefing on efforts to repair the damaged levees carried out by Lieutenant General Carl Strock, Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Chief of Engineers, the General summarized the difficulties he was experiencing in closing the breaches, including the difficulty in reaching the site of the breach by land (land ops couldn’t start until a causeway was built), by water (bridges couldn’t be raised to allow for the huge cranes to pass), and air (helicopters were being used to rescue people). Revised 9/7

NOTE ON MILITARY OPS: It has not been my intention to slight the contributions of our nation’s military in saving lives and relieving suffering during this disaster. The fact is, our armed force’s contributions have been so numerous and so widespread that listing them would double the length of this timeline. Their selfless dedication to our nation’s well being has been on display this past week as dozens of ships, aircraft, medical and rescue teams, and other supporting personnel have taken part in disaster relief. I am in awe of their professionalism and courage.

Rather than detail each operation, I will link to each service’s website where you can find plenty of information detailing their efforts. Revised 9/8

US Navy
US Coast Guard
US Army
US Air Force
US Marines

First, thank you all for your emails and comments.

I will be carefully going through and adding to and in some cases, editing the existing timeline thanks to some excellent information. Since I have something close to 50 emails and comments to work through, please be patient. If you’re interested, I will probably post a revised timeline by 2:00 PM Central time on 9/6.

Also, if you want me to respond to any of your comments, don’t you think it would be a good idea to like, you know, PUT YOUR REAL EMAIL ADDY IN THE COMMENT? I’ve just spent a half an hour responding personally to 4 different people none of which left a real email address. From now on, if you want a response to something, you’ll have to email me directly by clicking the link at the top left of the site.


The first set of corrections/ additions is done. Now let’s get serious and concentrate on specifics.

1. The levee break at 17th street. I need further info (please don’t duplicate what we already have) on the efforts to plug the hole especially on Tuesday and Wedensday. I haven’t had time to read some recent MSM articles on this so any help would be appreciated.

2. The busses. When did bus service stop in New Orleans on Sunday? I need links not speculation please. And when the Governor issued her executive order commandeering school busses, was she aware of the 200 or so school busses underwater in the New Orleans municipal parking lot? Or was she asking for busses from outlying parishes? Links please.

3. Any reason when evacuating the sick no one was brought to The Bataan, an amphib op ship sitting off the coast since the hurricane hit? Links please.

4. National Guard deployment. As it stands now, we have about 3500 LA National Guard troops on the ground helping with rescue ops on Tuesday. Another 7000 showed up on Thursday afternoon escorting some trucks and were immediately deployed to try and keep the peace. Why the delay? Links please.

5. Convention center. I understand Geraldo Rivera was talking about those people on Wed. afternoon. No other mention in media until late Wednesday night. This is crucial because of FEMA’s response that they didn’t know about those folks until late morning on Thursday. BTW, I need a link to Brown’s statement that day.

Also, if I haven’t made it clear, if you have any links, please send them to me via email. Or, don’t include more than 2 links in your comment. Otherwise it will be rejected as spam by my excellent anti-spam program Spam Karma.


I’ve just about reached the limit of what I would like to accomplish with this project. I’m sure much more information on the actual response of local, state, and federal government to the disaster will come to light in the next weeks and months. But with the exception of a few more links to highlight the military’s response, most of what we’re seeing is what officials didn’t do rather than what they did or how they coped with the tragedy.

If I may be allowed a personal opinion?

This has been a clusterf**k from the get go on all levels and with a few unbelievably heroic exceptions – mostly the LA Fish and Wildlife employees who were out in boats rescuing people almost before the storm passed and our selfless military who performed with their usual spectacular competence and courage. I am convinced that any Commission or Congressional investigation – if even slightly impartial – will find enough stupidity, incompetence, panic, blame shifting, lying, and bureaucratic ass covering to sate the appetite for name calling and blame assigning of even the most partisan among us.

This was a failure of leadership and competence. But it was also a failure of will. And for that, you need look no farther than the mirror in your bathroom, dearest readers. We elected this crew. We elected the Congresses over the past 25 years – Democratic and Republican – that failed to do the things necessary to make New Orleans safer.

Elections have consequences. Consider that fact the next time you pull the curtain in the booth to cast your vote. If nothing else, the aftermath of this tragedy reminds us of that, then perhaps something worthwhile will have been learned.

By: Rick Moran at 12:19 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (231)

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It’s been an article of faith for conservatives since before Lyndon Johnson’s celebrated War on Poverty was announced in 1964 that the goals of government social programs that benefit the poor should be geared toward helping the recipients of such aid achieve eventual independence so that they could live productive lives and contribute to society. What emerged from the flurry of legislation proposed by LBJ and his anti-poverty gurus was a nightmare of generational dependency that lowered self esteem, destroyed families, led to an epidemic of teenage pregnancy, and contributed to a breakdown in values that made recipients easy prey for the siren song of drug addiction and the criminal lifestyle. This has been the de rigueur of conservative critiques of the welfare state.

Condemning several generations of poor, mostly black people to lives of invisible desperation was forseen by one of the most thoughtful men of 20th century public life, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Moynihan made himself the bane of liberals and conservatives alike during his quarter century of service in the Senate. Prior to that, Moynihan had served in the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon Administrations, putting his brilliant mind to work on the problems associated with poverty and dependence. George Will called him “the most penetrating political intellect to come from New York since Alexander Hamilton.”

Moynihan was the architect of many of the social safety net programs conservatives love to hate; relaxation of AFDC rules, WIC, housing subsidies, and changes in a vast array of existing social programs were all either proposed or strenuously backed by Moynihan during his service in government. But perhaps his greatest contribution came from a book he wrote in 1965 entitled The Negro Family: The Case for National Action. In the starkest terms possible, Moynihan laid out the case not for the elimination of social programs helping the poor, but a redirecting of priorities that would end dependence and help the rapidly developing “underclass” (a term he coined) achieve independence from government. For daring to point out the bleak statistics for black families at the time, he was skewered by the more radical anti-poverty warriors who were moving government programs toward an entirely different goal; a Guaranteed Annual Income (GAI).

Some of the statistics Moynihan used in his book were frightening; 26% of children born out of wedlock (a staggering 70% today), a divorce rate of 23% (nearly 70% today), and single parent households at nearly 40% for black familes (almost 80% today).

But Moynihan’s critique went beyond the numbers. His analysis went to the heart of the importance of family in any society:

More than most social scientists, Moynihan, steeped in history and anthropology, understood what families do. They “shape their children’s character and ability,” he wrote. “By and large, adult conduct in society is learned as a child.” What children learned in the “disorganized home[s]” of the ghetto, as he described through his forest of graphs, was that adults do not finish school, get jobs, or, in the case of men, take care of their children or obey the law. Marriage, on the other hand, provides a “stable home” for children to learn common virtues. Implicit in Moynihan’s analysis was that marriage orients men and women toward the future, asking them not just to commit to each other but to plan, to earn, to save, and to devote themselves to advancing their children’s prospects. Single mothers in the ghetto, on the other hand, tended to drift into pregnancy, often more than once and by more than one man, and to float through the chaos around them. Such mothers are unlikely to “shape their children’s character and ability” in ways that lead to upward mobility. Separate and unequal families, in other words, meant that blacks would have their liberty, but that they would be strangers to equality. Hence Moynihan’s conclusion: “a national effort towards the problems of Negro Americans must be directed towards the question of family structure.”

This kind of thinking eventually led Moynihan to another inescapable conclusion. By breeding dependence on government for subsistence, we will make it impossible for the poor to take care of themselves:

Millions of people, Moynihan notes, have for generations become accustomed to living outside the circle of social responsibility and economic productivity. Under the AFDC program alone, started sixty years ago to provide temporary help to a relative handful of widows and jobless women with children, well over half the families receiving benefits now begin as AFDC families. In almost all cases, these are women with children born out of wedlock, and Moynihan notes that “there are millions of families in just this circumstance.”

A major political problem, and it is also a compassion problem, is that most of the country is untouched by this catastrophe. Those who are on AFDC for a short time are more or less evenly distributed across the land, while those who are more or less permanently on the dole are concentrated in the cities. In 1993, Moynihan notes, 59 percent of the children in Atlanta, 66 percent in Cleveland, 55 percent in Miami, 57 percent in Philadelphia, and 66 percent in Newark were receiving AFDC. Most of these children and their mothers have never known and possibly will never know any other way of life than living on welfare. In many cases, the mothers and grandmothers of these mothers never knew anything but welfare.

In 1996 as Congress prepared for welfare reform, many conservatives believed that Moynihan would join an effort the Senator himself had been pushing for since he arrived in Washington 20 years earlier. Instead, Moynihan ended up issuing dire warnings that millions would become homeless as well as this prescient take on the effect of welfare reform on young, black males:

Young males of the welfare-dependent mainly black urban underclass “can be horrid to themselves, horrid to one another, horrid to the rest of us.” Dismantle the defense system of the welfare status quo and you loose them upon society.

Most revealingly and depressingly, Moynihan concludes his declaration by drawing an analogy with the “deinstitutionalization” of mental patients in the 1960s and 1970s. That fatal step resulted in the hundreds of thousands of “homeless” wandering our streets in alcoholic and drug-induced stupor. But most of them are not dangerous. The thugs who do “horrid things” carry knives and guns. “The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” according to Kennan, were ideological and nationalistic. The sources of welfare conduct, according to Moynihan, are in congenital criminality and general social incompetence. In both cases, there is nothing to be done for it except containment.

In short, Moynihan had gone from advocating independence for welfare recipients to pushing for “containing” the problem. In other words, maintaining the status quo.

For containment is precisely what the government had been doing since at least 1968 when the blue ribbon panel charged with investigating the urban riots that nearly destroyed the inner cities in the late 1960’s cited “two Americas” as the major cause of black frustration and anger. Headed up by former Illinois Governor Otto Kerner, the Commission determined that virulent white racism was the cause of black rioting and that the solution was radical income redistribution.

What happened next was again predicted by conservatives. In order to oversee this income redistribution, a huge bureaucracy was created along with an alphabet soup of agencies that worked hand in hand with a growing number of anti-poverty NGO’s (Non-Governmental Organizations) – including groups like the Black Panthers and the notorious Black P-Stone Nation in Chicago who were little more than street gangs. In effect, the federal government was involved in a protection racket believing that they were solving the income inequity problem of black versus white by creating dependence.

Nothing could have been further from the truth. All these income distribution schemes did was hasten the destruction of the black family which led to a vicious cycle of more dependency, more frustration, and more anger. Even the welfare reform of the 1990’s did little to change what had become a national shame; a permanent underclass unable to escape the ravages of poverty. Millions of young men have grown up, lived, fought, and died in the streets who didn’t have to all because the compassion merchants and anti-poverty bullies have failed to grasp the debilitating effects of dependence on government and the causal relationship between that dependence and the “otherness” felt by African Americans in general but especially by young black men.

This feeling of being separate takes many forms. In education, it has created a culture where black achievement is frowned on by some lest a student appear too “white.” It has also created seperate ideals with regards to employment, relationships, and neighborhood.

Has dependence also created a separate attitude on the part of the underclass toward the law?

The explosion of anarchy and mayhem in New Orleans will be studied for years and answers may never be found. But whatever the reason, it goes far beyond a “few malcontents” taking advantage of a lack of law enforcement. If it were a small number, it wouldn’t take 15,000 National Guardsmen to restore some semblance of order. Nor would people out for a lark be shooting at helicopters evacuating desperately sick people from hospitals. Something much deeper was at work in New Orleans, something beyond the disaster, beyond even the harsh and reportedly brutal treatment of young black men by the New Orleans Police Department in the past.

An economic determinist would point out that the looters were lashing out at whites by stealing their possessions and engaging in other criminal acts. This was what the Kerner Commission found back in 1968. The problem with that assumption is that cities have changed dramatically in the last 40 years. Where New Orleans used to have a majority of white people as citizens it is now 2/3 black. The people have elected a black Mayor. A black Police Superintendent has been named. Black elected officials permeate the government. The question then arises; if nearly 70% of the population is black in a city run by a black government, why were so many involved in lawless activity?

Clearly, race is not the answer. There must be something else at work besides color. Part of the explanation must be this “otherness” felt by young black men who have different perception of the law and how it doesn’t apply to them. Growing up as they have in a totally dependent environment where food, shelter, clothing – life itself – is dispensed by a formless, shapeless government, they have carved out a separate existence to achieve a twisted kind of independence and freedom. It’s all they’ve got.

Do we have the courage to discuss this otherness issue without the usual namecalling into which every single conversation regarding race degenerates? Jeff Goldstein has a challenge:

Rich Lowry [of NRO] sees the writing on the wall and is wary of what he presumes will be the “toxic and unhealthy” “post-catastrophe debate.” But I welcome it, suspecting as I do that any attempt to racialize this catastrophe will result—after the inevitable and necessary public debate—in a huge setback to the identity politics movement.

And the US needs that just now—an ideological victory for classical liberalism that reaffirms the primacy of the individual, the very foundation upon which human liberty is built.

Turning a hurricane into a “racist” event is just what this country needs to have the conversation it’s been too afraid to have for 30 years.

Bring it on.

Since the beginning of the republic we’ve failed to talk about the issue of race. If indeed the hurricane strips away the politics that prevent such a discussion, I’m all for it. As Goldstein says… Bring it on.

By: Rick Moran at 8:42 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (21)

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First, don’t forget to give to hurricane relief efforts. And if you don’t want to give through this site, here’s a link to the liberal blog relief fund.

Next, this article in that bastion of Bush boosterism the New York Times has a rational and reasonable review of federal planning efforts prior to the disaster. The money graph:

Large numbers of National Guard troops should have been deployed on flooded streets early in the disaster to keep order, the critics said. And some questioned whether the federal government’s intense focus on terrorism had distracted from planning practical steps to cope with a major natural disaster.

Disaster experts acknowledged that the impact of Hurricane Katrina posed unprecedented difficulties. “There are amazing challenges and obstacles,” said Joe Becker, the top disaster response official at the American Red Cross.

Under the circumstances, Mr. Becker said, the government response “has been nothing short of heroic.”

But he added that the first, life-saving phase of hurricane response, which usually lasts a matter of hours, in this case was stretching over days.

While some in New Orleans fault FEMA - Terry Ebbert, homeland security director for New Orleans, called it a “hamstrung” bureaucracy – others say any blame should be more widely spread. Local, state and federal officials, for example, have cooperated on disaster planning. In 2000, they studied the impact of a fictional “Hurricane Zebra”; last year they drilled with “Hurricane Pam.”

(HT: Balloon Juice)

Clearly, there was a great deal of planning prior to the event. The question we’ll be asking – after the relief effort is well underway and people are out of danger – is what, if anything, could have been done to avoid the calamity we’ve been witnessing in New Orleans.

You may recall that the deploying the National Guard is the responsibility of the Governor. The Guard was on standby and arrived on early Wednesday morning, less than 48 hours after the hurricane passed. In 1992 during the hurricane Andrew crisis, it also took less than 48 hours for the first Guard units to show up on the disaster site. You may even recall that Andrew’s destruction occurred over a much smaller area with only local flooding as opposed to the massive city-wide deluge faced by New Orleans.

The point is that the deployment of the Guard was probably done as quickly as in other disasters. The fact that there weren’t enough of them was due more to the fact that they had to pitch in and help in rescue operations than anything else.

We’ll fight this out at the end of the month when things have settled down a little. In the meantime, unless someone says something so outrageous that it requires some kind of comment, this will be my last post on “The Blame Game.”


I will no longer tolerate any attacks on my brother. They will be considered “off topic” and will be immediately deleted.

If you have a problem with the way he is doing his job, go tell ABC. Do not come here and tell me.

By: Rick Moran at 3:35 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8)

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New Years 1979 in Chicago was one for the books. While revelers were still out partying, a heavy snow began to fall that eventually blanketed the city and suburbs with 10 inches of the white stuff. “The City that Works” shrugged off the blizzard and went about its routine, bragging as only Chicagoans can brag that no force of nature will keep Chicagoans from going about their business.

The city was to eat those words less than two weeks later.

On Friday night January 12, the snow began to fall. It fell all day Saturday. It fell all of Saturday night and into Sunday afternoon until 22 inches had piled up on the streets of Chicago. Mayor Michael Bilandic, confident that the city snow removal department could handle the crisis, ducked out of the city for 24 hours to attend a function in Florida. By the time he got back, all hell had broken loose.

Plows had broken down. His suggestion that residents move their cars to school parking lots so that side streets could be cleared had gone unheeded because the school parking lots themselves were buried under nearly 30 inches of accumulated snow. De-icing the electric rails with tons of salt resulted in interrupting the current so that the “L” train system was almost totally shut down.

But that wasn’t all. Bilandic ordered CTA buses and whatever trains that were running to bypass inner city neighborhoods so that white sections of the city could keep working. Another storm dumped 18 inches of snow on the city at the end of January adding to the misery. The city ran out of salt. The side streets still weren’t plowed. Uncollected garbage piled up to impossible heights. Those side streets that were plowed had buried people’s cars under 10 feet of snow in some case (many were not able to get the cars out until spring).

The press had an absolute field day. It was discovered that one of Bilandic’s cronies had gotten a $90,000 contract to come up with a study on snow removal needs for the city – a study that nobody could seem to find. Bilandic himself seemed to become unhinged. His sessions with city hall reporters became a series of rambling, incoherent defenses of his actions during the weather crisis.

Meanwhile Bilandic’s primary opponent, a little know politician named Jane Byrne, was making huge amounts of political hay at the hapless Mayor’s expense. Her media-savvy staff never had a photo-op without a pile of snow 10 feet high in the background. She was seen commiserating with snow victims. She had one famous confrontation with a city official who claimed that things were going well. For the rest, she let the Chicago media take over.

Columnist Mike Royko wrote a series of articles on the Mayor’s leadership that that were absolutely devastating in their impact. This was in a time when simply everyone read Royko. He was the Chicago version of Art Buchwald, a cynical, hysterically funny, grumpy watchdog whose book Boss, which told the story of the original Mayor Daley’s shenanigans was a runaway national bestseller. People were now not only mad at Bilandic, they were laughing at him at the same time.

The story’s end was predictable. Bilandic lost to Byrne in the Democratic primary in February (following another 15 inch snow storm) and Byrne went on to become the first female mayor of Chicago.

A study carried out by the city following the crisis – a study done at the behest of the new mayor – showed several major flaws in the city’s snow cleaning efforts, the biggest of which was a decision not to tow cars parked on side streets that failed to clear the curbsides to make room for plows. In addition, Bryne spent millions of dollars on new snow removal equipment, doubling the city’s snow removal capacity.

Every mayor since has silently thanked her.

Lost in all of this drama was the fact that the city actually responded to the best of its ability during the snow crisis. The snow removal plan worked quite well for the 8-10 inch storm that fell on New Years. The breakdown occurred during the once-in-a-century snow fall that followed. There was very little the city could have done differently that would have made the situation any better.

Now, before I hear howls of rage from most of you about trying to compare a snowstorm with the unmitigated disaster being experienced by the people along the Gulf Coast, let me assure you that it’s not my intention to belittle or minimize in any way the suffering of the people in New Orleans and elsewhere. Nor is it really my intent to excuse the government of any failures in planning for the disaster. Rather, I believe there are certain parallels between what the press and the left is trying to do to the President and what the press and Jane Byrne did to Michael Bilandic.

For what ever reason – and I believe that reason has less to do with ideology and more with a genuine feeling of helplessness felt by people who are watching what is going on in New Orleans – the press has pretty much decided that there has been a monumental failure of leadership by the Administration in responding to the disaster.

The President’s political enemies are moved by more partisan emotions of course. But perhaps the scope of the tragedy has blinded them as well to the fact that quite simply, no government on earth could have been prepared in any way, shape or form for the mammoth problems faced by city, state, and federal officials in the aftermath of Katrina. You can plan until you’re blue in the face but what faced government officials starting on Tuesday afternoon was something never before confronted by any government anywhere.

In effect, government officials have had to create an entirely new city on the fly; a city of 100,000 people. A city that not only had to feed and shelter those people, but supply medical services both for the injured and those already sick – even those near death! It had to supply maternity wards for hundreds of women. It had to create out of whole cloth a distribution system to supply those 100,000 people with food and water. And it had to carry out rescue operations that have already saved the lives of nearly 5,000 people. It had to do all this and much, much, more with access to few vehicles and travel on roads that for the most part were underwater.

And to make matters even worse, in the middle of creating this new city, it was decided that those 100,000 people would all have to leave New Orleans and go…somewhere. So the relief effort went from being an attempt to create an entirely new city to the even more difficult task of rounding up and transporting 100,000 people as well as necessitating the finding of shelter for them – many thousands of whom are old and infirm and have special medical needs.

These facts are not being recognized by the press and are being ignored by the President’s enemies. And because of that, Bush is quite simply being “Bilandicized” – he is being set up to take the fall for something that is essentially beyond his or anyone else’s control.

In the end, it may not matter. The Democrats seemed poised to blame the natural disaster on Bush and the Republicans regardless of what the facts are. If that’s the case and if the left’s allies in the press succeed in spinning the story that way, the Republicans are in trouble in 2006.

By: Rick Moran at 2:50 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (10)

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This article originally appears in The American Thinker

It certainly didn’t take long for the race baiters, class warriors, and economic determinists to heave themselves up from the flood waters that have inundated New Orleans to inform us all of the real tragedy being played out in that tortured city. Most of us think it bad enough that tens of thousands of human beings are suffering untold hardships and indignities as a result of being stranded in the nightmare of barbarism and perditious mayhem to which a once beautiful city has descended.

But for the professional victimhood groups, opportunity has come knocking. Why let an unimaginable tragedy like Katrina spoil a chance to link the tried and true canards of race and class with both the evocation of white guilt and a little Bush bashing for good measure?

This quote from the Reverend Jesse Jackson manages the trifecta – race, class, and Bush bashing – quite nicely:

“Many black people feel that their race, their property conditions and their voting patterns have been a factor in the response,” Mr. Jackson said, after meeting with Louisiana officials yesterday. “I’m not saying that myself, but what’s self-evident is that you have many poor people without a way out.”

If he’s not saying that himself, why say it in the first place except to plant the seeds of distrust and racism in the minds of his constituency?

Representative Charles Rangel tried to add a little humor to his critique. He also gets an “A+” for combining race, class, and anti-war digs at the President in the space of one sentence:

That disparity has been criticized as a “disgrace” by Charles B. Rangel, the senior Democratic congressman from New York City, who said it was made all the worse by the failure of government officials to have planned.

“I assume the president’s going to say he got bad intelligence, Mr. Rangel said, adding that the danger to the levees was clear.

“I think that wherever you see poverty, whether it’s in the white rural community or the black urban community, you see that the resources have been sucked up into the war and tax cuts for the rich,” he said.

Rangel and Jackson are by no means alone in piggybacking criticism of rich white people on their overheated critique of the Bush Administration. The tragedy in New Orleans is unlike any other disaster in American history in that not only have we witnessed the almost complete and utter destruction of a major industrialized city but also political attacks on the party in power carried out with a ferocity perhaps unprecedented in its speed and bitterness following a major cataclysm.

This tactic is largely being given a free pass by the press and the American people because by invoking the race and class cards in a situation where the race and class of the people suffering the worst of the disaster is obvious, it becomes easier to posit the notion of an “essential truth” being divined from the tragedy. In short, since poor black people are suffering, ergo they must be “targeted” by white people because of their color and, given the economic determinists worldview, by the very fact that they are poor as well.

It does no good to point out that the Mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, is black himself. Not does it help to dispel this impression by saying that the city has a black Police Superintendent Edwin Compass III. And I imagine numerous questions will be put to both the Mayor and Police Superintendent at an appropriate time about their initial responses to the hurricane and its aftermath.

But the real questions are does it make any difference that those who are experiencing the worst of the devastation are poor and black and is their ordeal the result of the indifference and outright racisim of white people and, by extension, conservative white people in the Bush Administration?

To even ask the questions presupposes a monstrous evil at large in America. Do white people not care if black people live or die? Anyone who suggests that the overwhelming majority of white people – conservative or not – would have such a pernicious attitude toward human life is being disengenuous. They are not being serious. Similarly, to say that the overwhelming majority of Americans could give a fig that poor people are fighting for their lives as I write this is demonstrably false based on the fact that more than $100,000 million has been raised in a little more than 72 hours for the relief of these same poor black people in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast.

Then why this over the top rhetoric? Why the wild claims by African American leaders and the anti-poverty industry that the race and class of the victims of Katrina has a direct bearing on the level of suffering being experienced by those who through no fault of their own, were forced to stay behind in the doomed city?

Race, and to a lesser extent class, has been called the elephant in the living room in American politics and for good reason; the only people who can speak about it and not get skewered in a political sense are the self-appointed black leaders who, for better or for worse, have become the inheritors of Martin Luther King’s legacy. Over the years, the Jesse Jackson’s and Charlie Rangels have developed an entirely new vocabulary replete with apocalyptic rhetoric and dark, conspiratorial imagery that feeds the frustration and anger that many blacks experience by living and working in America. What makes their critiques resonate with the black community is that there is usually just enough truth about the real and palpable racism that blacks see and experience in their everyday lives to make the more outrageous claims regarding white mischeif seem plausible.

The attacks by the anit-poverty crusaders take a similar tack when it comes to blaming “society” for the meager circumstances of the poor. These economic determinsts have learned to temper their language since the 1960’s so that they don’t quite sound like the Marxists they really are:

“We tend to think of natural disasters as somehow even-handed, as somehow random,” said Martín Espada, an English professor at the University of Massachusetts and poet of a decidedly leftist political bent who is Puerto Rican. “Yet it has always been thus: poor people are in danger. That is what it means to be poor. It’s dangerous to be poor. It’s dangerous to be black. It’s dangerous to be Latino.”

It’s also dangerous to make assumptions based on broad generalities. Of course the storm didn’t deliberately target the poor. Therefore, the gentelman Marxist must be saying that relief efforts are inadequate not because of the overwhelming nature of the catastrophe but because of indifference by “the ruling class.” Again, what a horrible wickedness that must be abroad in America if government actually bases relief decisions on what someone’s socio-economic status is.

The bottom line of all of this nonsense is Bush bashing. For the past 72 hours, liberal websites have been filled with with the most vile, partisan attacks on the President to date, many of them making the same claims as Mssrs. Jackson and Rangel. The left has sensed an opening and is firing broadsides at the Administration before the bodies floating in the flood waters have been buried. At a time when it is vitally important that Americans pull together to face up to this unprecedented disaster, the left has chosen open partisan warfare.

Bringing race and class into the national conversation about the aftermath of the hurricane is a sham. It’s real purpose is to open another avenue of attack on the President using the tried and true grounds of racism to advance a political agenda. All done at the expense of the very people the professional racialists claim to be speaking for.

By: Rick Moran at 8:25 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (28)

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Today has been set aside by bloggers (HT and Kudos to Glenn Reynolds) to raise funds for the relief of areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina.

And the more you read about the devastation, the more you realize how badly they need it.

If you didn’t know, Wizbang’s Paul is from New Orleans and has lost absolutely everything; no job, no home, and very little hope. So when looking at the macro relief effort, do you think you could see your way clear to going here and dropping a few bucks in the tipjar for Paul?

That said, the charity I’ve chosen is one located here in Chicago and has been around for 100 years. It’s called Catholic Extension and has been working with the poorest of the poor in this country through individual parishes.

Since I believe that the poorest have been hit hardest by this tragedy, there is no better organization to contribute to than Catholic Extension. They’ve started a fund to be used exclusively for relief efforts. And since they have offices in all the affected areas, your donation will be certain to get to the people who most need it.

If you’d rather send a check, here’s the address:

Catholic Extension
Hurricane Emergency Relief
150 South Wacker Drive
20th Floor
Chicago, IL 60606

This post will remain at the top all day to day. And I hope to have updates about how to give to local charities in the affected areas so check back after noon.


I tried contacting several local relief organizations in LA, MS, and AL hoping that they could give me a link for direct donations. Alas, my emails were returned because the internet is obviously down. I was hoping that they had alternate sites but it was not to be.

Anyway, here’s my blog bud Romeocat who will make a $5 donation for each comment (be nice please) left on this post. So go over there and let ‘Cat know that you appreciate it.

By: Rick Moran at 5:45 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (5)

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Sadly, as I predicted here, New Orleans is being ripped to shreds. Looters, armed gangs, snipers, all on the loose while authorities are still trying to rescue trapped people!

Hospitals containing thousands of patients are being evacuated. I hate to break the news to that lickspittle Jack Cafferty at CNN as well as other idiots in the MSM, but THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH HELICOPTERS IN THE ENTIRE UNITED STATES ARMY THAT COULD AIRLIFT 10,000 SICK PEOPLE TO THE AIRPORT AND DO IT ALL AT ONCE! Such an evacuation would take days under the best of circumstances. And this is far from that.

Get real people!

There are 90,000 square miles of disaster area. That’s a larger area than some countries. To believe that government can do anything meaningful in such circumstances demonstrates a towering ignorance and childish immaturity.

Part of the problem is that most in the MSM are basing their opinions on past disasters. There is no precedent in the history of industrialized civilization for this type of disaster. None. The only comparable event would be the detonation of a nuclear bomb in the middle of a major American city. And anyone who knows anything about that scenario knows full well that government actions wouldn’t be nearly adequate to deal with the disaster. Government has had more than 50 years to plan for such an eventuality and every mock disaster exercise they’ve ever carried out has ended up very much like what we’re seeing in New Orleans.

The food and water problem is incredible. I just heard Cafferty wondering in his towering ignorance why couldn’t they drop food from airplanes and helicopters.

Drop it where? In the water? It’s idiotic to think that some massive airlift a la Berlin in 1949 would be helpful when the people who need the supplies most are almost underwater themselves!

Think, people!

I believe that in fact the MSM is panicking while government remains calm. It’s not anti-Bush as much as it’s pro-people. They see the videos and want to do something but all they’re capable of doing is yelling at politicians who are doing the best they can under unprecedented circumstances. The media is going off the deep end.

The National Guard and the Army are doing the best they can. They’re coming as fast as they can. Does anyone have any idea what it takes to move 50,000 troops? Their equipment? Their infrastructure?

That would be like moving twice the number of people who live in my town. Every man. Every woman. Every child. All the food they would need. All the shelter they require. Every car and truck they own.


The hysteria being shown by the MSM may prove that their hearts are in the right place. But it’s not helping.

By: Rick Moran at 5:12 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8)

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First, before we get all fired up and take up hammer, saw, and paintbrush in order to rebuild the Crescent City, let’s try and get a handle on exactly what we’re up against. And the picture drawn in this Washington Post article is daunting indeed:

First they have to pump the flooded city dry, and that will take a minimum of 30 days. Then they will have to flush the drinking water system, making sure they don’t recycle the contaminants. Figure another month for that.

The electricians will have to watch out for snakes in the water, wild animals and feral dogs. It will be a good idea to wear hip boots and take care of cuts and scrapes before the toxic slush turns them into festering sores. The power grid might be up in a few weeks, but many months will elapse before everybody’s lights come back on.

By that time, a lot of people won’t care because they will have taken the insurance money and moved away — forever. Home rebuilding, as opposed to repairs, won’t start for a year and will last for years after that.

Even then, there may be nothing normal about New Orleans, because the floodwater, spiked with tons of contaminants ranging from heavy metals and hydrocarbons to industrial waste, human feces and the decayed remains of humans and animals, will linger nearby in the Gulf of Mexico for a decade.

Read the whole thing because there’s many more obstacles to rebuilding New Orleans than one can imagine.

There’s been a lot of “Buzz” on the blogs about not even bothering to rebuild New Orleans. To my mind, this is silly. Say what you want to about levees and dikes and such, but there’s a very good reason why New Orleans is one of the oldest cities in North America.

Location. Location. Location.

Located as it is at the mouth of the Mississippi, the importance of the city as a port cannot be overstated. Currently, the Port of New Orleans is the 9th largest in the country handling more than 130,000 freight containers and almost 700,000 passengers in the cruise industry every year. And despite the advent of trucks and railroads, more than 280 million metric tons of freight are carried down the Mississippi every year. Much of that freight – grain and other agricultural products mostly – ends up in those 130,000 containers to be shipped abroad.

Still want to abandon New Orleans?

Then there’s human sentiment to consider. While it’s probably true that most of historic New Orleans has been submerged (the French Quarter apparently is relatively undamaged) there’s a reason we have historic preservation societies; to protect and maintain historic sites and buildings.

Rebuilding all the historic buildings that were destroyed is not possible. But I’ll bet if given half a chance (and generous donations), the New Orleans societies would jump at the chance to rebuild many of those beautiful old buildings exactly as they were – down to the studs used in the flooring.

Finally, the Captain asks exactly the right question; what will it say about us as a nation if we fail to rebuild one of our major cities?

Americans don’t do pessimism, not as policy and not as part of our national character. We grew into the nation we know through an unbridled optimism about the kind of people we are and the kind of people we could become. Jimmy Carter found that out when he decided to tell Americans that we had come as far as we could go in his infamous “malaise” speech, and that we needed to know our limits. Rarely has an elected leader so misunderstood the people he led. We put men on the moon less than a decade after the notion occurred to us as a real possibility. We don’t do limits.

How we take care of New Orleans will say something about our national character and whether it remains as tough and optimistic as our history, for all its flaws, amply demonstrates. Will we walk away from a tough fight? Will America shrug its shoulders and tell the city that we don’t want to take on difficult tasks? Make no mistake; our response to New Orleans will say just as much about our staying power as a cut-and-run from Iraq would, and to much the same audience. Believe me, some of those who plan our destruction have cheered the scenes shown on television around the world of Katrina’s devastation in New Orleans, and they’re watching to see what we do.

And so New Orleans must be rebuilt, in some manner, right where it is now. No leader will get up and say, We give up. Katrina beat us. Let’s move on. That message will not resonate with the vast majority of Americans on either side of the political divide, which will bring a political consensus to ensure that we produce some kind of recovery for New Orleans. We can and will debate the how and the what, but not the whether. We’re Americans, and we don’t run from a fight.

Spot on. And if a partnership between government and private businesses can be formed for the rebuilding efforts, I predict that people will return in droves to take advantage of relatively cheap housing as well as business opportunities galore.

“It’s good to be shifty in a new country” could be the motto of the new New Orleans. All it takes, as the Captain points out, is the national will to rebuild it.

See ya in the French Quarter at Mardi Gras in five years…

By: Rick Moran at 5:05 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (9)

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