Friday, September 09, 2005

Colin Powell joins the Angry Left

It looks like former Secretary of State Colin Powell has joined the ranks of the “Angry Left” in pointing fingers and casting blame over Hurricane Katrina.

"There have been a lot of failures at a lot of levels -- local, state and federal," Powell said in an ABC interview for the "20/20" program to be broadcast on Friday evening.

"There was more than enough warning over time about the dangers to New Orleans. Not enough was done. I don't think advantage was taken of the time that was available to us, and I just don't know why," Powell said.

Meanwhile, it looks like FEMA Director Michael Brown has been handed his head and told to go back to Washington.
The administration’s spin is that Brown is needed back in D.C. to “carry out broader responsibilities,” but the odds are that we will never hear from him again.

That is unless President “The Buck Never Stops Here” Bush decides to award him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Onion strikes again

The satirical newspaper The Onion outdoes itself again this week with its biting commentary on the federal government’s slow response to Hurricane Katrina.

Government Relief Workers Mosey In To Help

NEW ORLEANS—Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael Brown, leading a detachment of 7,500 relief workers, moseyed on down to New Orleans Monday afternoon. "Well, I do declare, it's my job to see if any of these poor folks need any old thing," Brown said from his command rocker on the command post porch, adding, "Mighty hot day, ain't it?" Follow-up teams of emergency relief workers are expected to begin ambling into the Gulf Coast region as early as this weekend. "They should be getting the trucks good and warmed up anytime now, and they'll be cruising into town just as soon as all the reservists stroll in," said Brown, who is currently at his desk awaiting offers of food, water, and evacuation buses to roll in from "somewhere or other."

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

While Rome burns...

There is just no excuse for this.

The top U.S. disaster official waited hours after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast before he proposed to his boss sending at least 1,000 Homeland Security workers into the region to support rescuers, internal documents show.
Part of the mission, according to the documents obtained by The Associated Press, was to "convey a positive image" about the government's response for victims.

Acknowledging that such a move would take two days, Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, sought the approval from Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff roughly five hours after Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29.

Before then, FEMA had positioned smaller rescue and communications teams across the Gulf Coast. But officials acknowledged the first department-wide appeal for help came only as the storm raged.

Think Progress helpfully puts together the complete timeline of events.

Here is a sample:

Friday, August 26


GULF COAST STATES REQUEST TROOP ASSISTANCE FROM PENTAGON: At a 9/1 press conference, Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, commander, Joint Task Force Katrina, said that the Gulf States began the process of requesting additional forces on Friday, 8/26. [DOD]

Saturday, August 27


GOV. BLANCO ASKS BUSH TO DECLARE FEDERAL STATE OF EMERGENCY IN LOUISIANA: “I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments, and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster.” [Office of the Governor]

FEDERAL EMERGENCY DECLARED, DHS AND FEMA GIVEN FULL AUTHORITY TO RESPOND TO KATRINA: “Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.” [White House]

Sunday, August 28



MORNING — LOUISIANA NEWSPAPER SIGNALS LEVEES MAY GIVE: “Forecasters Fear Levees Won’t Hold Katrina”: “Forecasters feared Sunday afternoon that storm driven waters will lap over the New Orleans levees when monster Hurricane Katrina pushes past the Crescent City tomorrow.” [Lafayette Daily Advertiser]

9:30 AM — MAYOR NAGIN ISSUES FIRST EVER MANDATORY EVACUATION OF NEW ORLEANS: “We’re facing the storm most of us have feared,” said Nagin. “This is going to be an unprecedented event.” [Times-Picayune]

4PM – NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE ISSUES SPECIAL HURRICANE WARNING: In the event of a category 4 or 5 hit, “Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks, perhaps longer. … At least one-half of well-constructed homes will have roof and wall failure. All gabled roofs will fail, leaving those homes severely damaged or destroyed. … Power outages will last for weeks. … Water shortages will make human suffering incredible by modern standards.” [National Weather Service]

AFTERNOON — BUSH, BROWN, CHERTOFF WARNED OF LEVEE FAILURE BY NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER DIRECTOR: Dr. Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center: “‘We were briefing them way before landfall. … It’s not like this was a surprise. We had in the advisories that the levee could be topped.’” [Times-Picayune; St. Petersburg Times]

LATE PM – REPORTS OF WATER TOPPLING OVER LEVEE: “Waves crashed atop the exercise path on the Lake Pontchartrain levee in Kenner early Monday as Katrina churned closer.” [Times-Picayune]


Monday, August 29


8AM – MAYOR NAGIN REPORTS THAT WATER IS FLOWING OVER LEVEE: “I’ve gotten reports this morning that there is already water coming over some of the levee systems. In the lower ninth ward, we’ve had one of our pumping stations to stop operating, so we will have significant flooding, it is just a matter of how much.” [NBC’s “Today Show”]

MORNING — BUSH CALLS SECRETARY CHERTOFF TO DISCUSS IMMIGRATION: “I spoke to Mike Chertoff today — he’s the head of the Department of Homeland Security. I knew people would want me to discuss this issue [immigration], so we got us an airplane on — a telephone on Air Force One, so I called him. I said, are you working with the governor? He said, you bet we are.” [White House]


11AM — BUSH VISITS ARIZONA RESORT TO PROMOTE MEDICARE DRUG BENEFIT: “This new bill I signed says, if you’re a senior and you like the way things are today, you’re in good shape, don’t change. But, by the way, there’s a lot of different options for you. And we’re here to talk about what that means to our seniors.” [White House]

LATE MORNING – LEVEE BREACHED: “A large section of the vital 17th Street Canal levee, where it connects to the brand new ‘hurricane proof’ Old Hammond Highway bridge, gave way late Monday morning in Bucktown after Katrina’s fiercest winds were well north.” [Times-Picayune]

11:30AM — MICHAEL BROWN FINALLY REQUESTS THAT DHS DISPATCH 1,000 EMPLOYEES TO REGION, GIVES THEM TWO DAYS TO ARRIVE: “Brown’s memo to Chertoff described Katrina as ‘this near catastrophic event’ but otherwise lacked any urgent language. The memo politely ended, ‘Thank you for your consideration in helping us to meet our responsibilities.’” [AP]

2PM — BUSH TRAVELS TO CALIFORNIA SENIOR CENTER TO DISCUSS MEDICARE DRUG BENEFIT: “We’ve got some folks up here who are concerned about their Social Security or Medicare. Joan Geist is with us. … I could tell — she was looking at me when I first walked in the room to meet her, she was wondering whether or not old George W. is going to take away her Social Security check.” [White House]

9PM — RUMSFELD ATTENDS SAN DIEGO PADRES BASEBALL GAME: Rumsfeld “joined Padres President John Moores in the owner’s box…at Petco Park.” [Editor & Publisher]

Tuesday, August 30


MIDDAY – CHERTOFF FINALLY BECOMES AWARE THAT LEVEE HAS FAILED: “It was on Tuesday that the levee–may have been overnight Monday to Tuesday–that the levee started to break. And it was midday Tuesday that I became aware of the fact that there was no possibility of plugging the gap and that essentially the lake was going to start to drain into the city.” [Meet the Press, 9/4/05]

PENTAGON CLAIMS THERE ARE ENOUGH NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS IN REGION: “Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said the states have adequate National Guard units to handle the hurricane needs.” [WWL-TV]

MASS LOOTING REPORTED, SECURITY SHORTAGE CITED: “The looting is out of control. The French Quarter has been attacked,” Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson said. “We’re using exhausted, scarce police to control looting when they should be used for search and rescue while we still have people on rooftops.” [AP]

U.S.S. BATAAN SITS OFF SHORE, VIRTUALLY UNUSED: “The USS Bataan, a 844-foot ship designed to dispatch Marines in amphibious assaults, has helicopters, doctors, hospital beds, food and water. It also can make its own water, up to 100,000 gallons a day. And it just happened to be in the Gulf of Mexico when Katrina came roaring ashore. The Bataan rode out the storm and then followed it toward shore, awaiting relief orders. Helicopter pilots flying from its deck were some of the first to begin plucking stranded New Orleans residents. But now the Bataan’s hospital facilities, including six operating rooms and beds for 600 patients, are empty.” [Chicago Tribune]



Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Blame, blame, blame

Is it really fair to blame President Bush for the flooding of New Orleans?
By making that charge I have attracted the wrath of a number of my conservative blogger friends who have said I was showing a lack of decency as well as being overly partisan, soulless and Loony.

But apparently I am not alone as the waves of incrimination have come beating down on the Bush administration:

Here is conservative columnist Georgie Anne Geyer giving the Bush administration a swift kick in the pants:

The first President Bush (father George H.W.) had a favorite word which we all heard him use so repeatedly it was a kind of joke. The word was "prudent," which means "marked by wisdom or judiciousness" and "shrewd in the management of practical affairs." He was a worthy son of the American Revolution.
The second President Bush (son George W.) is marked, instead, by an overriding and unapologetic recklessness, which means "lacking in caution and deliberately courting danger."

Of course, she is kind compared to what the more moderate and liberal commentators have to say about the situation. Here is just a small sampling:

Paul Krugman - A Can't-Do Government and Killed by Contempt ;
Maureen Dowd - United States of Shame;
Frank Rich - Falluja Floods the Superdome;
Eugene Robinson - It's Your Failure, Too, Mr. Bush;
Eleanor Clift - A Colossal Failure of Leadership

And there are many, many, many more.

But one of the most concise and well reasoned critiquest comes from Kevin Drum at Political Animal who makes clear that he is not just bashing Bush for political gain, but has very specific concerns all stemming from Bush’s conservative philosophy of government.

In addition to Bush's listless lack of leadership and life-as-usual politicking early in the week, what happened was the result of a series of decisions, all flowing out of his natural conservative governing instincts, that taken together made Katrina more damaging than it had to be and seriously eroded our ability to react to its aftermath. These decisions were deliberate and disastrous, and that's why I think Bush deserves a large part of the blame for what happened. also does a fairly decent job of trying to summarize the argument over who is to blame for the breached levee system here.

I don’t think there should be any question that Bush should share a good portion of the blame for this catastrophe. The fact that he chose to slash funding for the levee projects during his administration was a huge gamble on his part that turned out to be “lacking in caution and deliberately courting danger” (as Georgie Anne Geyer would say).
Just because the storm may have swamped a fully-funded levee system is no excuse for underfunding the program all these years. Nor is it a legitimate excuse to say that other presidents didn’t fund it adequately so why should I? Bush was the person at the helm when this ship went aground and he can’t turn around and blame it all on mistakes made by previous captains.

To address one of the arguments made in the comments of the previous post, let me say that funding for the levee system should not have come at the expense of our troops in Iraq. But it certainly should have taken precedence over Bush’s tax cuts for his wealthy friends.

If Bush thought that the levee program was a waste of money due to corruption or poor planning or what have you, then why didn’t he demand a better solution rather than just cutting its funding to a trickle?
The problem here is that building up and maintaining the levee system around one of our most important port cities was a job that demanded federal oversight. It was and is too big for just the local government officials to handle. But the Republican philosophy is to leave everything to the local governments and claim that government is the problem and not the solution. Unfortunately for all of us, these are the people who are in charge of our government today and they are doing their best to prove that government doesn’t work.

Adieu, Prickly City

The Express-News has decided to ax the conservative comic strip Prickly City. to make room for a six-month run of classic Calvin and Hobbes strips. It won’t be missed.

I have complained before that Prickly City was not much better than the awful Mallard Fillmore strip. Both are crudely drawn, have little to no character development or plotlines and essentially serve as a backdrop for the authors to spout their right-wing views through the mouths of a cartoon character.
In the case of Prickly City, you have a white conservative male cartoonist who uses a young African-American female character as the mouthpiece for his daily rants attacking liberals. Very odd.