Saturday, September 10, 2005

Defenseless On the Bayou

Reason reported In the nearly two weeks since Hurricane Katrina, the government of New Orleans has devolved from its traditional status as an elective kleptocracy into something far more dangerous: an anarcho-tyranny that refuses to protect the public from criminals while preventing people from protecting themselves. At the orders of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, the New Orleans Police, the National Guard, the Oklahoma National Guard, and U.S. Marshals have begun breaking into homes at gunpoint, confiscating their lawfully-owned firearms, and evicting the residents. "No one is allowed to be armed. We're going to take all the guns," says P. Edwin Compass III, the superintendent of police.... In the rest of the city, some police officers abandoned their posts, while others joined the looting spree. For several days, the ones who stayed on the job did not act to stop the looting that was going on right in front of them. To the extent that any homes or businesses were saved, the saviors were the many good citizens of New Orleans who defended their families, homes, and businesses with their own firearms. These people were operating within their legal rights. The law authorizes citizen's arrests for any felony, and in the past (in the 1964 case McKellar v. Mason), a Louisiana court held that shooting a property thief in the spine was a legitimate citizen's arrest.

The aftermath of the hurricane has featured prominent stories of citizens legitimately defending lives and property. New Orleans lies on the north side of the Mississippi River, and the city of Algiers is on the south. The Times-Picayune detailed how dozens of neighbors in one part of Algiers had formed a militia. After a car-jacking and an attack on a home by looters, the neighborhood recognized the need for a common defense; they shared firearms, took turns on patrol, and guarded the elderly. Although the initial looting had resulted in a gun battle, once the patrols began, the militia never had to fire a shot. Likewise, the Garden District of New Orleans, one of the city's top tourist attractions, was protected by armed residents.....

The Mayor and Governor do have the legal authority to mandate evacuation, but failure to comply is a misdemeanor; so the authority to use force to compel evacuation goes no further than the power to effect a misdemeanor arrest. The preemptive confiscation of every private firearm in the city far exceeds any reasonable attempt to carry out misdemeanor arrests for persons who disobey orders to leave.

So we have police engaged in looting, and police illegally confiscating weapons residents might use to protect themselves and their property.


Professor Bainbridge's Blogoversary

Professor Stephen Bainbridge is celebrating his second Blogoversary.

Congratulations Professor.


Both parties entwined in mediocrity

The Anchoress has a very good post, and I suggest you read it all. I will just quote a few things that caught my eye.

Want to castigate FEMA director Michael Brown and accuse the Bushies of Republican Cronyism? Well, you can, and you’d be perfectly right to. But then you have to recall that he was confirmed by a voice vote when the congress was controlled by Democrats, and then you have to wonder what favors were exchanged by both parties in order to bring this mediocrity into his job....

Want to kvetch that FEMA should never have been melded into the Department of Homeland Security? Okay…but again, that action was accomplished by a bi-partisan act of congress (one which - it must be pointed out - now-critical voices helped to vote in). How about we think back to President Bush not wanting to even create the DHS, but being forced to because of political concerns. Because congress wanted it. Because America said she wanted it - wanted another bloated, mismanaged and ultimately impotent sprawling bureaucracy in which to incubate more and more mediocrity....

If you want to somehow blame the federal government for not getting food and water to the poor, trapped folks in the Superdome, you have to first, finally, listen to the American Red Cross when they say they were not permitted to give aid and comfort to Katrina’s victims - ordered out by the STATE Homeland Sercurity folks - because feeding them “might encourage them to stay…”
You’d have to consider that Louisiana’s strategy for evacuating folks was basically - “starve ‘em out.”

Do you want to complain about the vulnerability of our oil refineries, how they are all grouped in one area (nowhere near where YOU live), and they don’t process enough, anyway…then consider that between environmental lawsuits and NIMBYism no new refineries have been built in 30 years - that instead of having new refineries scattered about so that a single storm does not leave us vulnerable, we have aging refineries, grouped together - an invitation to disaster via terrorism or nature. Want to complain about gas prices? Remember back to the 1970’s when our leadership told us we would “work to no longer be dependent on foreign oil,” just before we stopped tapping our own immense resources. Why did we do that? To please the greenies! Did you contact your representatives and demand differently? No? Neither did I. Perhaps a handful of folks did, but not enough....

While representatives from the City of New Orleans, to the State of Louisiana, to the Congress, to the Senate, to the White House and the Federal Government (and all future-candidates in between) have been either pausing to consider the politics of a thing (admittedly, given the tenor of the times they are sometimes forced to), or have been stridently marching across the television screens to denounce, decry and denigrate, the sole image they manage to project - sadly - is one of staggering MEDIOCRITY.

Only the ordinary Americans - the ones who make up our First Response Teams, our National Guards, our Military, our Civil Patrols, our Community Relief Centers, our Churches, our Synagogues, our small businesses and such, have projected strength and stability. They have shown themselves to possess some extraordinary mettle - of being made of strong, fine, fire-tested stuff. They are not botoxed and liposuctioned beauties, they are not fine athletes, they are not super-educated intelligentsia. They are not well-connected hangers-on, they are not politically useful idiots. They are not complainers or fault-finders.

They are simply folk who see a need and do what needs to be done, with openness of heart and plenty of common sense. There is nothing spectacular about the food they are cooking to feed the hungry. There is nothing note-worthy about the garb they are bringing to clothe the naked. None of these people would be worth particular notice by the likes of the chattering classes who making so much noise - so much noise - on every available television and radio station in the nation....

Katrina has exposed a previously unattended-to, pus-filled sore on America’s backside, a growth called complacentus expediencea gimmee. For America to recover, that sore is going to have to be lanced and drained. I expect to hear lots of howling.

Evon commented This is the most sensible post on Katrina problems I’ve read so far. Thank you.

I agree with Evon


Digging deep with Google Earth reported For all of us who were told that if we worked long enough, we could dig a hole all the way to China, it seems we were woefully misinformed. A neat app built around Google Earth allows users to click on their current location and then shows where you'd come out if you dug straight through the Earth's core to the other side of the planet. Looks like the Blogma writers in CNET's San Francisco offices will have to bring our life vests along for the trip because we'll end up in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Tulsan's would end up in the South Pacific.
The only disappointment is that since most of the planet is covered with water, i.e. doesn't have high-res capability on Google Earth, many of the places users' "holes" end up can't be seen up close. But if you're one of the lucky ones who lives opposite land, zoom way in and check out where you'll pop your head out after the long journey through the center of the Earth.
If you dig from DC, you are still in the South Pacific, but if you begin swimming you may make it to Chile


G.O.P. Sees Opportunities

NYT reported Republican leaders in Congress and some White House officials see opportunities in Hurricane Katrina to advance longstanding conservative goals like giving students vouchers to pay for private schools, paying churches to help with temporary housing and scaling back business regulation. "There are about a thousand churches right here in Houston, and a lot of them are helping people with housing, but FEMA says they can't reimburse faith-based organizations," Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the House majority leader, said, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Why should the churches not be reimbursed. They already exist, so it would not be establishing any religion.
Mr. DeLay, who joined three of President Bush's top economic advisers on a tour of relief efforts near the Houston Astrodome, added that Congress should also allow students displaced by the hurricane to use vouchers to pay for tuition at private schools. Conservatives have championed school vouchers for decades.
They are still good ideas, and would the Dems want to stand in the way of seeing minority children get a good education?
Those are only some of the ideas being considered by Congressional leaders and White House officials that could serve the dual purpose of helping hurricane victims and pursuing broader social and economic changes that Republicans have long sought.... But other changes are more ideological and more controversial. On Thursday, Mr. Bush issued an order that exempts federal contractors working on disaster relief projects from a longstanding federal requirement that they pay workers "prevailing wages," which are usually pegged to union pay rates. The exemption strikes at the heart of a requirement that labor unions and Democratic lawmakers have ferociously defended for years.
But do they really want to stand in the way of evacuees getting jobs?
.... But beyond the immediate needs, Republican lawmakers and administration officials are contemplating tax cuts intended to draw companies and workers back to New Orleans, regulatory changes to speed the expansion of oil refineries and scores of smaller changes to improve the recovery.
Maybe they will even be smart enough to use the extremely high gas prices to push for new refineries.
Mr. Snow and other administration officials were noncommittal on Friday toward some of the ideas now circulating in Congress, like offering major tax breaks to companies that set up operations in damaged areas.


A Shameful Proclamation

NYT reported On Thursday, President Bush issued a proclamation suspending the law that requires employers to pay the locally prevailing wage to construction workers on federally financed projects. The suspension applies to parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. By any standard of human decency, condemning many already poor and now bereft people to subpar wages - thus perpetuating their poverty - is unacceptable.

You have a LOT of people out of work. Do you really want to force employeers to go through the large pool of potential employees to find the few with enough experience to justify a high wage, or would it not be better to get a lot of people back to work, and drawing a paycheck, immediately.
It is also bad for the economy. Without the law, called the Davis-Bacon Act, contractors will be able to pay less, but they'll also get less, as lower wages invariably mean lower productivity.
There is no justification for a stupid statement like that. It is the law of supply and demand, and in times when there is huge demand for jobs, wages will go down.
EconoPundit blogged Only a little checking on the internet turns up evidence the Davis Bacon Act protects a small minority of privileged workers by enshrining into law the (then and partially-still) lilly-white labor aristocracy of the 40's and 50's. The same checking also uncovers lots of evidence the Act raises construction costs and lengthens project times by seriously complicating hiring procedures. What's most "shameful" in all this (to use NYT-language) is the editors' assumption readers can't easily check on the internet to find the other side of the argument. Labor advocates will charge Bush is opportunistically tampering with labor law -- in effect, using the Katrina disaster to further weaken organized labor's position. They'll do so at risk of sounding like opportunists themselves, however. The Bush side of the argument appeals to intuition. Most Americans would agree any labor law to which the rebuilding process is subject should be as simple as possible. If the NYT is going to argue against this intuitively obvious proposition, it should do so without invoking junk economics (e.g. the laughable statement "lower wages invariably mean lower productivity").


Katrina questions

Oliver North wrote in Townhall .... Herewith a short list of questions for New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin:

When the National Weather Service warned that Hurricane Katrina would be potentially catastrophic, what emergency preparations and announcements were made to residents of New Orleans and when and how were they made? The Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan for New Orleans states that "the person responsible for recognition of hurricane related preparation needs and for the issuance of an evacuation order is the Mayor of the City of New Orleans." Yet in a radio interview, after the storm hit you said, "I need reinforcements, I need troops, man. I need 500 buses, man. We ain't talking about -- you know, one of the briefings we had, they were talking about getting public school bus drivers to come down here and bus people out here. I'm like, 'You got to be kidding me. This is a national disaster. Get every doggone Greyhound bus line in the country and get their asses moving to New Orleans.'" How and when was your evacuation order promulgated? If you needed busses to move the population, why were hundreds of government-owned municipal transportation and public school busses left to be inundated and destroyed in parking lots around the city?

And since the need for busses for evacuation is in the New Orleans plan, and since you were briefed about it, were you listening during those briefings?
In December 1995 the New Orleans Levee Board told the local Times-Picayune newspaper that it had an "arsenal" of federal money to improve and maintain New Orleans flood control measures. Yet, a year later, the same newspaper reported that the Levee Board was near bankruptcy. Where did that money go?
Pork barrel projects? Who introduced the legislation to earmark the funds for other projects?
On Wednesday after the hurricane passed, news networks broadcast footage of criminals shooting at rescuers, looters carrying off stolen property and what appears to be police officers stealing DVDs. The facial features of many of the individuals engaged in this lawless behavior are clearly visible. How many of the perpetrators of these crimes have been apprehended?

Who ordered that the Superdome be used as an evacuation center? How many law officers were assigned to "protect and serve" the tens of thousands of refugees who gathered there?
And since the Superdome was your evacuation center, did you move the 600 buses closer, so they could be used for the evacuation, or did you have the Superdome stocked with cots like Houston did its Astrodome?
When you told an Associated Press reporter that the "CIA might take me out," what did you mean? When you subsequently said, "If the CIA slips me something and next week you don't see me, you'll all know what happened," what were you talking about? Do you feel threatened by the CIA?

The American Red Cross says that they were ordered to stay out of New Orleans and not to bring in food and water to the victims. "The state Homeland Security Department had requested -- and continues to request -- that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city," reads a statement on the organization's web site. Did you confer with Louisiana Governor Blanco over this statement? Do you agree with it?
Did you want the people to evacuate (and if so why not provide them with busses), or did you want them to stay (and if so why not let the Red Cross deliver food and water?)
The Headquarters of the Marine Corps Reserve is in New Orleans. Before President Bush dispatched U.S. military ships, aircraft, equipment and units to Louisiana, did you, or to your knowledge, Governor Blanco ever request that U.S. Marines, under federal control, be used to restore law and order in New Orleans? If not, why not?

When the vice president visited on Thursday, did you thank him for the extraordinary response by 18,000 military personnel from the 82nd Airborne Division, the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461, the USS Harry S. Truman; USS Iwo Jima, the USS Bataan and the Navy doctors, nurses and medical corpsmen aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort? Are you aware that the U.S. Coast Guard -- the smallest of our Armed Forces -- rescued more than 23,000 people in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane? Have you called Rudy Giuliani for advice on how to handle a crisis? If not, why not?


Private FEMA

OpinionJournal reported In Katrina's wake, Wal-Mart and Home Depot came to the rescue.

Read this entire story to see what these companies, and many many others did to help
ranted, a FEMA is never going to operate with the agility of a FedEx. FedEx and the others perform at this level 24/7; that's the nature of competition. That said, surely there are lessons here worth learning and attempting to transfer to the public sector. And we don't mean three years from now after another round of reassessment and performance reviews. The challenge of reconstruction is now. It wouldn't hurt if the responsible public agencies asked the private participants in the rescue operation for some pointers on getting the next job done on budget and on time.


FEMA to Halt Debit Cards, Use Bank Deposit

Yahoo! News reported The federal government's relief agency said Friday it will discontinue its program to distribute $2,000 debit cards to hurricane victims and use bank deposits instead, two days after hastily announcing the novel plan to provide quick relief.

I am sure that some of the Angry Left will criticize FEMA for not continuing with this plan, but they would also be the first to complain that FEMA had no way of explaining what it did with all of the money when the program was later audited. FEMA has several tasks
  • Training state and local responders, which it did (the fact that they did not remember what they were taught is not FEMA's fault
  • Providing supplies, either to national guard called up by the Governor, or to federalized military sent by the President, and
  • providing funds for rebuilding to people that justify their entitlement to the funds
I don't criticize Red Cross for their distribution of debit cards; they know what sort of documentation people will expect from them when they ask for future donations, but they are not spending taxpayer money.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it will scrap the program once officials finish distributing cards this weekend at shelters in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, where many of the evacuees were moved. No cards will be issued to victims in other states. Hurricane victims at other locations will have to apply for expedited aid through the agency's traditional route — filling out information on FEMA's Web site to receive direct bank deposits, FEMA spokeswoman Natalie Rule said.


Katrina and American individualism

Marvin Olasky wrote in Townhall The American image around the world has taken a post-Katrina nosedive. "I am absolutely disgusted," said Sajeewa Chinthaka of Sri Lanka. "After the tsunami, our people, even the ones who lost everything, wanted to help the others who were suffering."

Don't believe everything you read or hear from our distorted MSM. And don't forget all of the aid the US provided following your tsunami.
The problem, some said, was "American individualism," with folks acting selfishly. Hmmm -- what about the tens of thousands of Americans individuals who eagerly responded to the crisis without waiting for governmental or collective directive?
Which is the way it should be. Government should not be expected to provide everything for everyone.
Before expressing disgust with America, please spend a couple of hours reading through Internet postings like this one: "We are a family of five. ... We have a very small room with a bed and two small dressers that we will offer to you so that you can get back on your feet. You will be welcome at our family table. ... We don't have much money after the bills are paid, but we'll happily share whatever we can. We don't expect you to pay us, and we won't expect you to leave quickly. It takes time to rebuild, and we'll give you that time."
My financial condition is not as limited as theirs was, but I have listed my home as being willing to take in a family from Louisiana or Mississippi. What have you done?
Look at all the people ready to donate their expertise: "I am a licensed bus driver willing to go south to haul those folks out. ... I am a house painter. ... I am fully licensed, have a truck with all equipment and chemicals, and am willing to go down and help out with any pest control problems. ... I'm a building and roofing contractor from upstate New York who will donate my expertise and labor. ... I am background-screened and fingerprinted for childcare, willing to take in a few kids or a small family. ... I speak fluent Spanish and will contact anyone for anybody."
God bless each of you.
Look at all the medical talent volunteering: "I'm a board certified orthopedic surgeon who is willing to help in a medical capacity. ... I am a nurse from Cleveland. ... I am a fully licensed general surgery chief resident willing to help immediately. ... I am a CPR-certified healthcare provider." (And some specialists were willing to be generalists: "Hi- I'm a registered nurse, my boyfriend is a union electrician. Even if you couldn't use us in our professions, we would be willing to provide any assistance necessary.")
Congratulations and thank you for each of you.
Look at the many people offering housing: "Can't get out there myself, but we have a dry, clean living room with space for a small family and their pets. ... We only have our hearts and our home to offer, but our home is comfortable and dry! ... I am a single mother with a small baby at home. I have an extra room and can house a single parent and/or children. It's not a lot of space, but I can help with meals, clothing, employment and schooling. ... We are licensed, loving foster parents who would be honored to take in a baby/toddler/young child -- short or long term." Look at the people without special training or available space just offering themselves: "I was down at ground zero after 9-11 and can help with any manual labor, rebuilding, medical help, search and rescue, and anything else under the sun. ... I cannot offer my apartment for shelter at this time because I have no power/water, and I cannot offer money because I have very little, but I am very able to help out physically. ... I have two husky chainsaws, transportation, and complete camping and cooking gear. No PAY required, just a destination and a person who truly needs help."
God bless you all.
Television viewers abroad may have seen images of helplessness, but many would-be volunteers showed a can-do spirit: "I can run heavy equipment or operate off-road vehicles and a variety of boats in highly variable and adverse conditions. I have extensive experience in the coastal marshes and swamps of south LA and MS, and have construction, oilfield and welding experience. I can also cook. I'll do anything to help, and I can bring some supplies." And many of those who couldn't provide much material aid helped in another crucial way: "God bless you all. I continue to pray."


The Case for a Cover-Up

John Tierney wrote in NYT At last there is a light in the darkness. Washington was slow to respond to Katrina's victims, but now Congress has finally sprung into action. It has bravely promised to investigate the situation. Unfortunately, the members haven't figured out exactly how, because Democrats want it to be done by outsiders.

They were successful on the 9/11 commission of getting Jamie S.Gorelick on the 9/11 Commision so she would not have to be called as a witness, sworn to tell the truth, and so that they could thereby cover up her responsibility in creating the wall preventing intelligency agencies from telling the FBI about the terrorists in our country. They now probably think they can get Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco on the commission so that they won't be blamed.
They say the Republicans will turn it into a cover-up. But why does that bother the Democrats so much? Shouldn't members of both parties want to cover this up?

Suppose, for instance, investigators try to find out who had the brilliant idea of putting the Federal Emergency Management Agency inside a new department with an organizational chart modeled on the Soviet Ministry of Agriculture and Food Economy. One Democrat, Hillary Clinton, did question whether FEMA would suffer, but the idea was originally championed by her colleagues, particularly Joe Lieberman. Mr. Lieberman joined Mrs. Clinton this week in calling for a "re-examination" of FEMA's status, but he was against independence before he was for it. After the Sept. 11 attacks, he helped lead the charge to create the Department of Homeland Security.

Republicans first resisted, as the Democratic National Committee pointed out during the presidential campaign last year. Its radio advertisement declared: "John Kerry fought to establish the Department of Homeland Security. George Bush opposed it for almost a year after 9/11."

Or suppose the investigators try to find out why the Army Corps of Engineers didn't protect New Orleans from the flood. Democrats have blamed the Iraq war for diverting money and attention from domestic needs. But that hasn't meant less money for the Corps during the past five years. Overall spending hasn't declined since the Clinton years, and there has been a fairly sharp increase in money for flood-control construction projects in New Orleans. The problem is that the bulk of the Corps's budget goes for projects far less important than preventing floods in New Orleans. And if the investigators want to find who's responsible, they don't have to leave Capitol Hill.

Most of the Corps's budget consists of what are lovingly known on appropriations committees as earmarks: money allocated specifically for members' pet projects. Many of these projects flunk the Corps's own cost-benefit analysis or haven't been analyzed at all. Many are jobs that Corps officials don't even consider part of their mission, like building sewage plants, purifying drinking water or maintaining lakeside picnic tables. The Corps is giving grants to improve New York City's drinking water. In Massachusetts, the Corps offers BMX-style bike jumps at a lake near Worcester and runs a theater next to the Cape Cod Canal showing a video of "Canal Critters." In rural Nevada, an area not known for hurricanes or shipping channels, the Corps has been given $20 million for construction projects. When I asked an official why so much was being spent in Nevada, he said that the money was paying for wastewater treatment and mentioned the name of Senator Harry Reid, the Democrat's leader in the Senate. "Senator Reid is a great and good man," the Corps official explained, "and he is on our committee."
The only way to solve "earmarks" and "pork barrel projects" is a constitutional amendment giving the President a line item veto.
This week Mary Landrieu, the Louisiana Democrat, lambasted Mr. Bush on the Senate floor. "Everybody anticipated the breach of the levees, Mr. President," she said.
Then why didn't she and everyone else do something about them.
But she and others from the Louisiana delegation have been shortchanging the levees themselves. As Michael Grunwald reported in The Washington Post, they've diverted large sums to dubious Corps projects aimed at increasing barge traffic, not preventing floods. Ms. Landrieu forced the Corps to redo its calculations when a project to deepen a port flunked its cost-benefit analysis.

Would Congressional investigators focus on these pork-barrel projects? I would guess not. My daring prediction is they would make two discoveries. First, that mistakes were made by many people outside Congress. Second, that more money must be spent on flood protection throughout America. A few outside skeptics may suggest letting this money be spent by mayors and governors in flood-prone areas who can lose their jobs if they earmark it for too many boondoggles and allow disasters to occur. But members of Congress would conclude that only they can be trusted to dispense the money. Of course, should there be another flood somewhere, they would be glad to investigate.


Saturday, September 10

This Day In History

  • 1608   John Smith was elected president of the Jamestown colony council in Virginia.
  • 1813   Oliver H. Perry sent the message, ''We have met the enemy, and they are ours,'' after an American naval force defeated the British in the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812.
  • 1846   Elias Howe of Spencer, Mass., received a patent for his sewing machine.
  • 1939   Canada declared war on Germany during World War II.
  • 1945   Vidkun Quisling was sentenced to death in Norway for collaborating with the Nazis.
  • 1948   American-born Mildred Gillars, the Nazi wartime radio broadcaster known as ''Axis Sally,'' was indicted in Washington, D.C. for treason.
  • 1955   ''Gunsmoke'' premiered on CBS.
  • 1963   Twenty black students entered public schools in Birmingham, Tuskegee and Mobile, Ala., following a standoff between federal authorities and Gov. George C. Wallace, who resisted integration.
  • 1977   Convicted murderer Hamida Djandoubi, a Tunisian immigrant, became the last person to be executed by the guillotine in France.
  • 1988   Steffi Graf of West Germany achieved tennis' first Grand Slam since Margaret Court in 1970 by winning the U.S. Open women's final.
  • 1989   Hungary stopped enforcing East German visa restrictions and opened its borders, beginning a flood of emigration that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall two months later.
  • 1998   President Bill Clinton met with members of his Cabinet to apologize and ask forgiveness in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
  • 2000   NBC's ''The West Wing'' won a record nine Emmy awards, including best drama series.
  • 2002   Florida's first big test of its new elections system turned into a nightmare as polling stations opened late and problems cropped up with new touchscreen voting machines.
  • 2002   Switzerland became the 190th member of the United Nations.
  • 2003   Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh, 46, was stabbed in a Stockholm department store; she died the next day.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1839   Isaac Kauffman Funk (publisher: the Funk of Funk and Wagnalls dictionary; died Apr 4, 1912)
  • 1929   Arnold Palmer (golf champion: 1st million $ winner; Masters Champion: [1958, 1960, 1962, 1964], U.S. Open [1960], British Open [1961, 1962])
  • 1948   Margaret Trudeau (Sinclair) (author: Beyond Reason; Canada’s 1st Lady   wife of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau [1968-1979])


Friday, September 09, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Predictions

Lorie Byrd blogged The following is a post written by a regular reader of this site known to those who visit the comments section as “Oak Leaf". He is an active reservist with over twenty years of service that includes both the National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve:

Having just completed twelve days of active duty in support of “Joint Task Force Katrina”, six days on the ground in NOLA and six days in assisting with pre-positioning of Federal assets, I would like to offer the following predictions:
  • Mayor Ray Nagin (D) estimated that fatalities would be as high as 10,000. While it is conceivable that area wide fatalities could in theory approach 3,000, I strongly believe that fatalities in NOLA, directly attributed to Katrina will be less than one thousand, (1,000).
    That is very good news
  • Pat O’Brien’s will be serving “Hurricanes” again before Thanksgiving of this year.
  • The Mardi Gras Carnival Parade will go on “as scheduled” for February 28, 2006.
  • Within thirty days, electricity will be restored to a majority of NOLA.
  • Within thirty days, 90% of the city will by dry enough to access by civilian SUV.
  • Dependent on the restoration of water/sewer service, of which I have no first hand knowledge to comment, large numbers of NOLA residents will be going home by Thanksgiving.
  • Ninety percent, or more, of the residents that were displaced in NOLA will eventually return to the city in search of the now greatly expanded employment prospects in construction. However, the small percentage that does not return will change Louisiana politics permanently. Louisiana will join the rest of the “South” as a solid Republican State.
  • The funds allocated by Congress will not be completely used.
While not of a predictive nature, I would like to offer a few more thoughts. The unofficial motto of the Infantry is “Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way.” The elected local politicians in Louisiana are not “leaders” and should have stepped aside. You do not elect a “leader”, a “leader” is developed over time and experience. In spite of herself, Gov. Blanco had significant military assets available to her, of which she had little knowledge to effectively utilize. The people of Louisiana would have been better served had the Governor ceded control to one of the many Platoon Sergeants in the Louisiana Army National Guard that she commands. In six days in NOLA I have seen ignorance, paralysis and blatant/shameless corruption, ALL at the “local” level of government. Should the Congress pursue an “investigation” or appoint a Commission, I would pray that the members are not current/former Louisiana politicians or family members.
I agree completely. To do otherwise would be as stupid as having Jamie S.Gorelick on the 9/11 Commision
The military term FUBAR is an apt description of the “emergency management plan execution” by the NOLA Mayor, the NOLA Police Department, the LA Governor and all of their emergency management appointees. I look forward to getting home this weekend.
Much thanks to Oak Leaf for this and his earlier post from Louisiana. If you missed the earlier post, “Civil Defense or Lawfare?", please read it here.


Who's Really to Blame for NOLA?

ProfessorBainbridge blogged Maybe the answer is environmentalists and their trial lawyers. The LA Times quasi-buried this story on page 10, but at least they reported it:

In the wake of Hurricane Betsy 40 years ago, Congress approved a massive hurricane barrier to protect New Orleans from storm surges that could inundate the city. But the project, signed into law by President Johnson, was derailed in 1977 by an environmental lawsuit. Now the question is: Could that barrier have protected New Orleans from the damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina?

"If we had built the barriers, New Orleans would not be flooded," said Joseph Towers, the retired chief counsel for the Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans district. Tower's view is endorsed by a former key senator, along with academic experts, who say a hurricane barrier is the only way to control the powerful storm surges that enter Lake Pontchartrain and threaten the city. Other experts are less sure, saying the barrier would have been no match for Katrina.
The group in question is called Save Our Wetlands. Their website brags:
While politicians talk, SOWL sues! SOWL has been involved in countless lawsuits involving Lake Ponchartrain on every subject....from the New Orleans Levee Board Airport Expansion Plan, Bucktown Marina Expansion Plan, New Orleans Mosquito Control Drainage schemes in wetlands of New Orleans East, Eden Isle Subdivision on the north shores of Lake Ponchartrain, Orlanda Subdivision, Corps of Engineers Hurricane Barrier Project, shell dredging in Lake Ponchartrain, Waterford Nuclear the Marathon Oil Company canals in the wetlands of St. Charles and St. John the Baptist parishes. ... SOWL has always fought bitterly against the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

I wonder if they'll acknowledge any responsibility for what happened to New Orleans. (Not that I'll be holding my breath.) I also sort of wonder how the "blame Bush first, last, and always" crowd will defend these guys.
They will probably find one scientist that will say it would not have done the job, and then they will hype what he says, and the MSM will accept it.
There's plenty of blame to be shared out on a bipartisan basis, but after reading this story and checking out Save Our Wetlands website, in my opinion they deserve a good-sized chunk of it.

BTW, since they're such a litigious bunch, I better preemptively remind them that opinion is protected by the First Amendment! Ollman v. Evans, 750 F.2d 970 (D.C. Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 471 U.S. 1127 (1985).


News from Zachary

I have a good friend in the Baton Rouge area, who provided this report. Since it is difficult to contact her to ask permission, I will just obscure the names to protect the privacy of the people involved. This is a report about the Xxxxxx Church Shelter in Zachary, LA (north of Baton Rouge). As you can imagine, everyone is very busy - not only with the shelter needs, but also many of us (myself included) have a houseful of evacuees at home as well. I've been cooking and washing clothes around the clock!

Some of the highlights from our 50 bed shelter include:

Continually processing new evacuees as we send others on to more permanent accomodations.

Sent 40 from various shelters to OPC camp in Longview TX (thank you TX).

Referred a CA 18 wheeler of generators to Hattiesburg.

Kids enrolled in Zachary Community Schools. Outfitted with uniforms, shoes & back packs.

Working with city to assist many others to move to north TX.

Held beds for some members of LA Nat guard unit. Danny Beier's New Orleans base helicopter unit. They came back from Iraq about 2 months ago. Helicopters doing roof top work. Lost their own homes.

PPC has housed and assisted dozens of persons to move to more permanent locations.

Computer lab running. Computer lab looking missing RELATIVES. FEMA, insurance claims, banking, contacting employers, etc. Yesterday, the computers were networked to allow about 8-10 volunteers at a time to help evacuees. We will work with evacuees from other shelters as well as our own.

Clothing store well stocked. Community has been very supportive.

Needs. Cash… first months rent, etc, gasoline to new home (TEXAS has been super).

Churches in Longview filled 20 cottages, Tyler taking another 80 persons, Illinois sending cash, GA medical folks volunteering.

200 doctors and nurses from Utah arrived Zachary to man temp hospital. PPC member coordinated housing for all.

And this first-person story from our Associate Pastor, Yyyyy.

From Yyyyy: [ a little long, but read it all]

Today I stood on the side of the road eating chicken with Sam. We were waiting to flag down a bus that would take him on a nine hour trip to Nashville. There he would meet some family and start over. Sam is thirty seven years old. He is a carpenter by trade (all of the homes in N.O. are wooden) was born and raised in New Orleans and has never been out of the city. The first deep gully he ever saw was as we drove to St. Francisville to catch the bus. He had never seen hills, had never seen a creek. Nashville will be a new visual experience for him.

Sam was one of those who stayed in N.O. He had no car and had never been out of the city so, why leave now. He and a friend stayed together in a second story apartment during the passing of the hurricane. After the storm was over they drove in the friends car to see the damage. As they neared downtown the damage got worse and worse. They heard that it was flooding, so Sam decided to go to his home and get some belongings and get out. As he looked up the street, Sam said that you could see the water coming, Not in a wave, but steadily rising. By the time Sam got to his house and retrieved one small bag of possessions, the water was up to his waist.

Sam waded blocks and blocks to the Superdome, it was full. Then he saw busses on the causeway above the Dome going over the river to the West Bank (Gretna). No bus would pick him up so Sam walked across the Mississippi River bridge to the other side. He and many others spent the night under the bridge. The next day, Tuesday, he walked to the causeway intersection and waited two days to get on a bus. The bus was supposed to go to Baton Rouge, but the driver continued past Baton Rouge on towards Houston. Sam and another man asked the driver to let them off and he did. They paid someone twenty dollars to take them back to Baton Rouge. Sam went to a Catholic church that got him in touch with a shelter at the local carpenters union. It is now Friday and Sam has not been to sleep except for a nap here and there. On Saturday he went to another shelter and then on Sunday came to ours.

We helped Sam get registered with all of the services and agencies, no small task. Sam then made the decision to leave everything he had ever known and go to Nashville where he had some family. There to get a job and begin a new life. He said that he is not sure whether he will come back or not. I think he will. After he makes some money and after they begin to rebuild New Orleans, I bet he will be right there swinging his hammer and putting life back into a dead city. [ aside: That's kinda theological. Read Ephesians two]

An hour late, the bus came into view. We flagged it down. I carried one of Sam's bags onto the bus for him. All of the passengers looked tired and weary. They were leaving a life behind (consider that for a moment). The bus pulled out and Sam with it. This man who had never been out of New Orleans is doing the bravest thing he has ever done. Starting over in a world of uncertainty. Yet he has hope, Sam has the Lord.

This same story is being repeated hundreds of times daily throughout the Felicianas. It is one thing to hear a sermon on trust and hope. It is another to look into the eyes of someone whose family home of four generations will be bulldozed because of contamination. It hits home when you hold someone who can only sob because there is nothing else they can do.

We have given them and bed and meals and helped them begin to rebuild their lives. Like Sam, they leave here with only what they can carry in their arms but, Lord willing, they leave with a renewed hope. Hope in the Living God, Yahweh, the God of the wandering Israelites who provided their every need one day at a time. Hope that a Father who spared not His only Son will also give them "all things." Hope born of the gospel message that has been bestowed upon them by the hands and feet of strangers who are strangers no more.

Pray for Sam. Pray for others like him. Pray that this opportunity for the Church to be the Gospel incarnate will not be lost or frittered away. The hungry and sick and poor are at our doors. The " least of these" are among us.

That's all for now. We cherish your continued prayers. It has been such a humbling privilege to be the hands and feet of Christ in this relief effort!


Will Somebody Say Thank You?

Michael Reagan wrote Turn on TV, read the local newspaper or listen to your local radio station and all you are going to hear, see and read are accounts of people knee-deep in playing the blame game. What you don’t hear is anybody saying “thank you.” .... As these bozos were collectively venting their liberal spleen at the president, huge caravans of trucks carry thousands of tons of food and water and clothing and other vital supplies were pouring into New Orleans from as far away as California and New York. Army and National Guard troops were arriving by the thousands, all sent under orders from the president. Did it occur to any of his critics to take a moment out to say “thank you” to George Bush?

Harry Connick Jr., a native resident of New Orleans, was there, but unlike his fellow celebrities he wasn’t spending his time making political speeches. Instead, he was in his boat - which didn’t leak - surrounded by toxic water and rescuing those mostly black folks trapped by the flood. Has anybody said “thank you” to Harry Connick Jr.?

From almost the moment the 17th Street dike broke, members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been laboring day and night to repair the breech and stop any more of the lake waters from gushing into the streets of New Orleans – a job they have now completed. Has anybody said “thank you” to these dedicated and weary men? Not that I’ve heard.

All across the nation the left-wing wackos are squinting to find something they can complain about and blame on the president for alleged failures in the massive federal effort to cope with the worst natural disaster in American history. They can’t bring themselves to admit that a lot of good things are being done by the federal government and the horde of good people who are pitching in to help their fellow Americans. If they did they might have to say “thank you,” a phrase they don’t seem to have in their vocabularies.

When my wife asks me to vacuum the house, I inevitably miss a spot. She doesn’t jump all over me because I messed up, but, understanding what klutzes husbands are when it comes to domestic chores, she simply thanks me.

These liberal scoundrels don’t have it in them to thank those police, firemen, National Guardsmen, regular army soldiers, relief workers from FEMA and the Red Cross and all the others and the people in the Bush administration whose efforts are above and far beyond the call of duty.

They are too busy looking for the motes in the administration’s eyes to see the huge planks in their own.

All together now, let’s hear it: “Thank you President Bush, thank you Harry Connick Jr., thank you police and firemen and National Guardsmen and members of the Red Cross and Salvation Army and all you other heroes.”

I agree. Thank you very much.


Abandon Flooded Areas

AP reported More than half the people in this country say the flooded areas of New Orleans lying below sea level should be abandoned and rebuilt on higher ground.

I completely agree. Move, don't rebuild in place
An AP-Ipsos poll found that 54 percent of Americans want the vast sections of New Orleans that were flooded by Hurricane Katrina moved to a safer location. About 80 percent of the city was flooded at the height of the disaster. The city, home to about 484,000 people, sits six feet below sea level on average. The fate of the flood-prone areas of the city is an open question. The aid pricetag already runs tens of billions of dollars. In the days since the hurricane, House Speaker Dennis Hastert has questioned whether the worst-flooded areas should be rebuilt. The skepticism about restoring New Orleans below sea level comes as the public mood has darkened after one of the nation's worst natural disasters. Those most likely to say that low-lying areas of New Orleans should not be rebuilt are whites over 45 years of age and Republican women. There's a lot of history, but the fact remains that it remains below sea level," said Kate Rehfus, a Republican from Fort Thomas, Ky., who loves New Orleans for its blues, beignets and Cafe Du Monde coffee. "It wouldn't be the same by any means, but if it could be done, that would be best. This would never happen again." Members of New Orleans City Council are vowing to rebuild the city - a task that would cost billions of dollars. The city has a long history and a rich tradition of distinctive jazz, matchless cuisine and Mardi Gras. The Big Easy is a magnet for tourists, with more than 10 million visiting in 2004, spending almost $5 billion, according to the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. More than four in 10 of the Americans polled said they want the city rebuilt where it is and the levees strengthened.
What if a hurricane hits New Orleans directly and it fills up with rain water? If you are going to rebuild where it is, change the name to "New Venice" ... or maybe "New Atlantis"

Greg Ransom blogged The American people likely have more smarts and human compassion that will the politicians, because the case for not rebuilding the city of New Orleans is overwhelming. But I’m guessing the corrupt politicians in Louisiana and Washington will see dollar signs and votes, which will lead to more deaths down the road. That’s just the way things work, and it’s a very hard thing to stop.


Cops trapped survivors in New Orleans

Washington Times reported Police from surrounding jurisdictions shut down several access points to one of the only ways out of New Orleans last week, effectively trapping victims of Hurricane Katrina in the flooded and devastated city. An eyewitness account from two San Francisco paramedics posted on an internet site for Emergency Medical Services specialists says, "Thousands of New Orleaners were prevented and prohibited from self-evacuating the city on foot." "We shut down the bridge," Arthur Lawson, chief of the City of Gretna Police Department, confirmed to United Press International, adding that his jurisdiction had been "a closed and secure location" since before the storm hit. "All our people had evacuated and we locked the city down," he said. The bridge in question -- the Crescent City Connection -- is the major artery heading west out of New Orleans across the Mississippi River. Lawson said that once the storm itself had passed Monday, police from Gretna City, Jefferson Parrish and the Louisiana State Crescent City Connection Police Department closed to foot traffic the three access points to the bridge closest to the West Bank of the river. He added that the small town, which he called "a bedroom community" for the city of New Orleans, would have been overwhelmed by the influx. "There was no food, water or shelter" in Gretna City, Lawson said. "We did not have the wherewithal to deal with these people.

There was no food or water in New Orleans either. The officials there prevented the Red Cross from delivering any. They had plenty. Why did Gretna City officials allow the Red Cross to provide food and water to people there?
"If we had opened the bridge, our city would have looked like New Orleans does now: looted, burned and pillaged." But -- in an example of the chaos that continued to beset survivors of the storm long after it had passed -- even as Lawson's men were closing the bridge, authorities in New Orleans were telling people that it was only way out of the city. "The only way people can leave the city of New Orleans is to get on (the) Crescent City Connection ... authorities said," reads a Tuesday morning posting on the Web site of the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper, which kept reporting through the storm and the ruinous flooding that followed....

The two paramedics, who were trapped in the city while attending a convention, joined a group of people who had been turned out by the hotels that they were staying in on Wednesday. When the group attempted to get to the Superdome -- designated by city authorities as a shelter for those unable to evacuate -- they were turned away by the National Guard. "Quite naturally, we asked ... 'What was our alternative?' The guards told us that that was our problem, and no, they did not have extra water to give to us.


Fault Lines

Investor's Business Daily reports Hillary Clinton says FEMA was more effective when her husband was president. The victims of Hurricane Floyd might venture a different opinion, and it wasn't FEMA that kept supplies from the Superdome. During a post-Katrina conference call with reporters, Sen. Clinton said, "Helping localities do what they needed to do to mitigate damage — that philosophy governed FEMA during the Clinton administration. It obviously was rejected by this administration."

FEMA's job should be seeing that cities and states have disaster plans, and from the New Orleans plan here, and the State of Louisiana plan here and here that is what they list FEMA's job as; they just failed to follow their own plans.
Does that mean Clinton's FEMA was the model of government efficiency and effectiveness? Or was it closer to the DMV and post office? Just ask the tens of thousands of people left stranded up and down the Eastern Seaboard by Hurricane Floyd in 1999. "We're starting to move the trailers in," said then-FEMA director and current Hillary favorite James Lee Witt, nearly a month after Floyd first hit. "It's been so wet, it's been difficult to get things in there" — an explanation that sounds familiar.
Who could have predicted that a hurricane might leave things wet?
Witt was also a guest on Jesse Jackson's CNN show, "Both Sides Now," in Floyd's aftermath. Jackson complained then that "bridges are overwhelmed, levees are overwhelmed, whole towns underwater. . . . (It's) an awesome scene of tragedy." Gee, where have we heard that recently?

Many have called for the head of FEMA Director Mike Brown. But Bill Clinton's choice to be Southwest Regional FEMA director in 1993 was even less qualified, earning his job handling disaster recovery of a different sort. Raymond "Buddy" Young, a former Arkansas state trooper, got his choice assignment after leading efforts to discredit other state troopers in the infamous Troopergate scandal. If a storm like Katrina struck the Big Easy back then, Young would've been in charge.

Former House Speaker Tip O'Neill used to say all politics is local. Forgotten in the Katrina disaster and its aftermath is that so is most law enforcement and disaster preparedness. Why does Hillary think Houston's Astrodome was all set up to receive thousands of refugees? It was because Houston and Texas authorities planned for it to take thousands of refugees from Galveston, where a hurricane in 1900 killed 8,000 people.

Totally clueless about their duties were officials at Louisiana's — not Washington's — Homeland Security Department. They blocked a convoy of Red Cross trucks filled with water, food, blankets and hygiene items to the New Orleans Superdome after Katrina struck because it would have encouraged refugees to stay there. The Red Cross Web site says: "The state Homeland Security Department had requested — and continues to request — that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane." The ARC was told its "presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city."

On Aug. 27, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco was asked at a press conference what could be done to avert disaster. Her pathetic answer was, "We can pray hard that the intensity will weaken." That was Louisiana's disaster-recovery plan.

Paul @PowerLine blogged Diana also points out that federal responders were on the ground in force within 48 hours after the flooding began, which is a rapid response by historical   standards.

It's also true that federal responders were involved even earlier than that. At a press conference yesterday, the Louisiana National Guard noted that FEMA was supporting its efforts at the Superdome before the storm arrived.


The Over-Responders

Tony Snow wrote in Townhall Hurricane Katrina not only covered New Orleans in toxic goo, it also flushed out a large, vocal and potentially pestilential cadre of First Over-Responders.

Whose verbal goo was even more toxic
Rep. Bob Wexler set the stage just minutes after the first levee burst by accusing President Bush of gross incompetence. Rep. Harold Ford followed shortly after with an artless race-card play, wondering aloud why so many people of color had been stranded.
New Orleans is over 2/3 black. Could that have had anything to do with it?
In time, virtually every Democratic panjandrum found some novel way to politicize the Atlantic typhoon. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton inveigled against the evils of Big Oil. Sen. Edward Kennedy suggested holding a forum on New Orleans' racial and economic tensions -- during John Roberts' Supreme Court confirmation hearings. There was talk of shutting off future tax cuts, spending hundreds of billions of dollars, firing Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown, recalling all National Guard units from Iraq and revamping the federal government's plans for dealing with terrorist attacks.
Was there anything they had wanted in the past that they did not suggest that if they had just had it the problem would not have happened, or would have been much better?
Opinions wildly outnumbered facts among the Over-Responders. At one point, Randall Robinson alleged that locals were cannibalizing the bloated and blistered bodies of the city's dead, while rap star Kanye West repeated the urban legend that black looters were described as "looters," while whites were designated as "survivors."


Don't Ignore Western Europe

WaPo reported Western Europe is a core recruiting ground for Muslim terrorists that is being overlooked given the U.S. focus on Iraq and the Middle East, according to Francis Fukuyama, academic dean of Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. The failure of European countries to assimilate their large and growing Muslim populations

Have they failed to assimilate them because they reject them (if so why are they in the country), or is it because their idea of "multiculturalism" encourages them not to assimilate.
in the era of globalization has caused an alienation among the young that has created a "hard core for terrorism," Fukuyama said in Washington at a bipartisan policy forum on terrorism and security, sponsored by the New America Foundation.... The Europeans "need to understand American assimilation" because their approach of "multiculturalism has been a failure," Fukuyama said.
The American "melting pot" is clearly better than multiculturalism


Politics Over Duty

This is a post from Bill Weiler, freelance journalist, over in Merritt Is, FL, who has been researching what went on before the storm hit. These were provided to me by Ira Wilsker.

I think all of Mayor Nagin's pomp and posturing is going to bite him hard in the near future as the lies and distortions of his interviews are coming to light.

On Friday night before the storm hit Max Mayfield of the National Hurricane Center took the unprecedented action of calling Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco personally to plead with them to begin MANDATORY evacuation of NO and they said they'd take it under consideration. This was after the NOAA buoy 240 miles south had recorded 68' waves before it was destroyed.

President Bush

issued a disaster declaration before the storm hit, so that material could begin to being moved to the area
spent Friday afternoon and evening in meetings with his advisors and administrators drafting all of the paperwork required for a state to request federal assistance (and not be in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act or having to enact the Insurgency Act). Just before midnight Friday evening the President called Governor Blanco and pleaded with her to sign the request papers so the federal government and the military could legally begin mobilization and callup.He was told that they didn't think it necessary for the federal government to be involved yet. After the President's final call to the governor she held meetings with her staff to discuss the political ramifications of bringing federal forces. It was decided that if they allowed federal assistance it would make it look as if they had failed so it was agreed upon that the feds would not be invited in.

Saturday before the storm hit the President again called Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin requesting they please sign the papers requesting federal assistance, that they declare the state an emergency area, and begin mandatory evacuation.After a personal plea from the President, Nagin agreed to order an evacuation, but it would not be a full mandatory evacuation, and the governor still refused to sign the papers requesting and authorizing federal action. In frustration the President declared the area a national disaster area before the state of Louisiana did so he could legally begin some advanced preparations.Rumor has it that the President's legal advisers were looking into the ramifications of using the Insurgency Act to bypass the Constitutional requirement that a state request federal aid before the federal government can move into state with troops - but that had not been done since 1906 and the Constitutionality of it was called into question to use before the disaster.

Throw in that over half the federal aid of the past decade to New Orleans for levee construction, maintenance, and repair was diverted to fund a marina and support the gambling ships. Toss in the investigation that will look into why the emergency preparedness plan submitted to the federal government for funding and published on the city's website was never implemented and in fact may have been bogus for the purpose of gaining additional federal funding as we now learn that the organizations identified in the plan were never contacted or coordinating into any planning - though the document implies that they were.

The suffering people of New Orleans need to be asking some hard questions as do we all, but they better start with why Blanco refused to even sign the multi-state mutual aid pack activation documents until Wednesday which further delayed the legal deployment of National Guard from adjoining states. Or maybe ask why Nagin keeps harping that the President should have commandeered 500 Greyhound busses to help him when according to his own emergency plan and documents he claimed to have over 500 busses at his disposal to use between the local school busses and the city transportation busses - but he never raised a finger to prepare them or activate them.

This is a sad time for all of us to see that a major city has all but been destroyed and thousands of people have died with hundreds of thousands more suffering, but it's certainly not a time for people to be pointing fingers and trying to find a bigger dog to blame for local corruption and incompetence.

Pray to God for the survivors that they can start their lives anew as fast as possible and we learn from all the mistakes to avoid them in the future.

Who is responsible

In case you aren't familiar with how our government is SUPPOSED to work: The chain of responsibility for the protection of the citizens in New Orleans is:
  1. The Mayor
  2. The New Orleans director of Homeland Security (a political appointee of the Governor who reports to the Governor)
  3. The Governor
  4. The Head of Homeland Security
  5. The President

What did each do?
  1. The mayor, with 5 days advance, waited until 2 days before he announced a mandatory evacuation (at the behest of the President). Then he failed to provide transportation for those without transport even though he had hundreds of buses at his disposal.
  2. The New Orleans director of Homeland Security failed to have any plan for a contingency that has been talked about for 50 years. Then he blames the Feds for not doing what he should have done.
  3. The Governor, despite a declaration of disaster by the President 2 DAYS BEFORE the storm hit, failed to take advantage of the offer of Federal troops and aid. Until 2 DAYS AFTER the storm hit.
  4. The Director of Homeland Security positioned assets in the area to be ready when the Governor called for them
  5. The President urged a mandatory evacuation, and even declared a disaster State of Emergency, freeing up millions of dollars of federal assistance, should the Governor decide to use it.

Oh and by the way, the levees that broke were the responsibility of the local landowners and the local levee board to maintain, NOT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

The disaster in New Orleans is what you get after decades of corrupt government going all the way back to Huey Long.


Blood in the water

Mona Charen wrote in Townhall The only ray of sunshine in the days following 9/11 was the magnificent unity displayed by Americans. Though the attack was brutal and numbing, our mutual support offered comfort. This time, the opposite is true of the political class (though ordinary people have been magnificent -- more on that in a minute). The long knives were unsheathed in record time. At the daily White House press briefings, Scott McClellan is barraged by reporters almost tipsy with that "blood in the water" intoxication they get when a Republican president is perceived to be in political difficulty.

If you dont know what to do, attack.
Never an edifying sight, it is particularly galling to witness now, when there is literal blood in the water of New Orleans.... There is another way to approach such a catastrophe -- and that is the way the rest of America has chosen. Every business, religious group, neighborhood association and Internet connection with which I am in touch is raising money for the victims of Katrina. The funds collected have already topped $500,000,000. Thousands of Americans are opening their homes as well as their wallets to those dispossessed by the floods. Schools in neighboring Texas, but also in states as far away as Massachusetts, D.C., and many others, are setting extra places for the children whose schools and homes have been destroyed.... That is how most of America is handling this catastrophe. The opportunists and professional partisans should observe and be humbled.
I have listed my house on websites as willing to host displaced people. What have you done?


Confiscating Firearms

NYT reports Waters were receding across this flood-beaten city today as police officers began confiscating weapons, including legally registered firearms, from civilians in preparation for a mass forced evacuation of the residents still living here.

Remember this the next time Dems push for registration of all firearms.
No civilians in New Orleans will be allowed to carry pistols, shotguns or other firearms, said P. Edwin Compass III, the superintendent of police. "Only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons," he said.
Some police officiers have been reported as being involved with looting. It looks like they want to be sure they are the only ones armed.
But that order apparently does not apply to hundreds of security guards hired by businesses and some wealthy individuals to protect property. The guards, employees of private security companies like Blackwater, openly carry M-16's and other assault rifles. Mr. Compass said that he was aware of the private guards, but that the police had no plans to make them give up their weapons.
So if you are a business, or are rich, you can have guards carrying assault rifels, but if you are an individual, wanting to stay and protect your home, you must give up your guns, and go whereever they want to take you.


Where to Point the Fingers

Charles Krauthammer wrote in WaPo reported .... Let's be clear. The author of this calamity was, first and foremost, Nature (or if you prefer, Nature's God). The suffering was augmented, aided and abetted in descending order of culpability by the following:

1. The mayor of New Orleans. He knows the city. He knows the danger. He knows that during Hurricane Georges in 1998, the use of the Superdome was a disaster and fully two-thirds of residents never got out of the city. Nothing was done. He declared a mandatory evacuation only 24 hours before Hurricane Katrina hit. He did not even declare a voluntary evacuation until the day before that, at 5 p.m. At that time, he explained that he needed to study his legal authority to call a mandatory evacuation and was hesitating to do so lest the city be sued by hotels and other businesses.

He also did not make use of the 600 buses at his disposal.
2. The governor. It's her job to call up the National Guard and get it to where it has to go. Where the Guard was in the first few days is a mystery. Indeed, she issued an authorization for the National Guard to commandeer school buses to evacuate people on Wednesday afternoon -- more than two days after the hurricane hit and after much of the fleet had already drowned in its parking lots.
Her state agency, in conjunction with the mayor, did block the Red Cross from sending in food and water, because they thought that if people had food and water they would not be willing to evacuate. She also did not activate reciprocal relations with National Guards in other states, or sign the necessary paperwork to allow the President to Federalize the National Guard and send them in, together with some active duty military.
3. The head of FEMA. Late, slow and in way over his head. On Thursday, Sept. 2, he said on national television that he didn't even know there were people in the convention center, when anybody watching television could see them there, destitute and desperate. Maybe in his vast bureaucracy he can assign three 20-year-olds to watch cable news and give him updates every hour on what in hell is going on.
Had the Governor signed the necessary papers to authorize him to send in help?
4. The president. Late, slow, and simply out of tune with the urgency and magnitude of the disaster.
I disagree. He declared a disaster area even before the hurricane hit
The second he heard that the levees had been breached in New Orleans, he should have canceled his schedule and addressed the country on national television to mobilize it both emotionally and physically to assist in the disaster. His flyover on the way to Washington was the worst possible symbolism. And his Friday visit was so tone-deaf and politically disastrous that he had to fly back three days later.

5. Congress. Now as always playing holier-than-thou. Perhaps it might ask itself who created the Department of Homeland Security in the first place. The congressional response to all crises is the same -- rearrange the bureaucratic boxes, but be sure to add one extra layer. The past four years of DHS have been spent principally on bureaucratic reorganization (and real estate) instead of, say, a workable plan for as predictable a disaster as a Gulf Coast hurricane.
And spending money on special pork projects rather than were it was needed
6. The American people. They have made it impossible for any politician to make any responsible energy policy over the past 30 years -- but that is a column for another day. Now is not the time for constructive suggestions. Now is the time for blame, recrimination and sheer astonishment. Mayor Ray Nagin has announced that, as bodies are still being found and as a public health catastrophe descends upon the city, he is sending 60 percent of his cops on city funds for a little R&R, mostly to Vegas hotels. Asked if it was appropriate to party in these circumstances, he responded: "New Orleans is a party town. Get over it."

Greg Ransom blogged It turns out some of the clearer thinking folks at the Pentagon and in the Justice Dept. were urging the President to do just what I’ve been saying he should have done– seize control of the police power and Katrina rescue mission in New Orleans. And there is more evidence that the Governor of Louisiana should be impeached. She now admits herself that she doesn’t know the high school basics of the American Federal system:
“I need everything you have got,” Ms. Blanco said she told Mr. Bush last Monday, after the storm hit. In an interview, she acknowledged that she did not specify what sorts of soldiers. “Nobody told me that I had to request that,” Ms. Blanco said.
And reports everywhere establish that Blanco refused to grant the President the powers over the National Guard that he had requested, and that Blanco waited days before deciding many of these questions.

Betsy Newmark blogged Read the rest. He doesn't spare anyone.

MarkInMexico blogged I guess that pretty much says it all.


Friday, September 9

This Day In History

  • 1776   The second Continental Congress made the term ''United States'' official, replacing ''United Colonies.''
  • 1836   Abraham Lincoln received his license to practice law.
  • 1850   California became the 31st state of the union.
  • 1893   Frances Cleveland, wife of President Grover Cleveland, gave birth to a daughter, Esther, in the White House.
  • 1926   The National Broadcasting Co. was created by the Radio Corporation of America.
  • 1943   Allied forces landed at Salerno and Taranto during World War II.
  • 1948   The People's Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea) was created.
  • 1956   Elvis Presley made the first of three appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show."
  • 1957   President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law the first civil rights bill to pass Congress since Reconstruction.
  • 1971   Prisoners seized control of the maximum-security Attica Correctional Facility near Buffalo, N.Y., beginning a siege that claimed 43 lives.
  • 1993   PLO leaders and Israel agreed to recognize each other.
  • 1993   Former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos was buried in his homeland, four years after his death in exile.
  • 1997   Sinn Fein, the Irish Republican Army's political ally, formally renounced violence as it took its place in talks on Northern Ireland's future.
  • 2001   Afghanistan's military opposition leader Ahmed Shah Massood was fatally wounded in a suicide attack by assassins posing as journalists.
  • 2003   The Boston Roman Catholic Archdiocese agreed to pay $85 million to 552 people to settle clergy sex abuse cases.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1893   Esther Cleveland (daughter of U.S. President and Mrs. Grover Cleveland; first child of a U.S. President to be born at the White House; died June 25, 1980)
  • 1925   Cliff Robertson (Academy Award-winning actor:)
  • 1951   Michael Keaton (Douglas) (actor: Batman, Beetlejuice, Mr. Mom)
  • 1952   Angela Cartwright (actress: Make Room for Daddy, Lost in Space)


Thursday, September 08, 2005

American Red Cross

American Red Cross said Why is the Red Cross not in New Orleans?

  • Access to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders.
  • The state Homeland Security Department had requested--and continues to request--that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.
    So despite whining that they needed food and water, they did not want food and water from the Red Cross. I guess it was more important to be able to throw stones at Bush, than to help the people of New Orleans.
  • The Red Cross has been meeting the needs of thousands of New Orleans residents in some 90 shelters throughout the state of Louisiana and elsewhere since before landfall. All told, the Red Cross is today operating 149 shelters for almost 93,000 residents.
  • The Red Cross shares the nation’s anguish over the worsening situation inside the city. We will continue to work under the direction of the military, state and local authorities and to focus all our efforts on our lifesaving mission of feeding and sheltering.
  • The Red Cross does not conduct search and rescue operations. We are an organization of civilian volunteers and cannot get relief aid into any location until the local authorities say it is safe and provide us with security and access.
  • The original plan was to evacuate all the residents of New Orleans to safe places outside the city. With the hurricane bearing down, the city government decided to open a shelter of last resort in the Superdome downtown. We applaud this decision and believe it saved a significant number of lives.
  • As the remaining people are evacuated from New Orleans, the most appropriate role for the Red Cross is to provide a safe place for people to stay and to see that their emergency needs are met. We are fully staffed and equipped to handle these individuals once they are evacuated.

InstaPundit blogged So as I understand it, the Louisiana authorities don't want the Red Cross to provide services in New Orleans because that will discourage people from leaving?

HughHewitt blogged The Red Cross is confirming to Garrett that it had prepositioned water, food, blankets and hygiene products for delivery to the Superdome and the Convention Center in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, but were blocked from delivering those supplies by orders of the Louisiana state government, which did not want to attract people to the Superdome and/or Convention Center. Garrett has no paper trail yet, but will follow up on his verbal confirmation from sources at the highest levels of the Red Cross.

The Anchoress has a number of links to other bloggers reports on this


Survivors, Others Take Offense at Word 'Refugees'

Los Angeles Times reported Dictionary definitions aside, many consider the term inappropriate -- even racist -- when applied to Hurricane Katrina evacuees. In Houston, where tens of thousands of Hurricane Katrina victims have sought temporary shelter, officials distributed a terse memo Wednesday dealing not with food, lodging or human connections, but with something that in its own way has become just as emotionally loaded: the word "refugee." "The term is perceived negatively by many of those housed at the Astrodome, who prefer to be called evacuees," said the memo to reporters, which addressed a heated conversation that has echoed in recent days from emergency shelters through the media to the White House.

Refugee, Evacuee, Displaced Person, or any other name. Don't they have a bit more to worry about than what they are called?


Money Flowed to Questionable Projects

WaPo reported Before Hurricane Katrina breached a levee on the New Orleans Industrial Canal, the Army Corps of Engineers had already launched a $748 million construction project at that very location. But the project had nothing to do with flood control. The Corps was building a huge new lock for the canal, an effort to accommodate steadily increasing barge traffic. Except that barge traffic on the canal has been steadily decreasing. In Katrina's wake, Louisiana politicians and other critics have complained about paltry funding for the Army Corps in general and Louisiana projects in particular. But over the five years of President Bush's administration, Louisiana has received far more money for Corps civil works projects than any other state, about $1.9 billion; California was a distant second with less than $1.4 billion, even though its population is more than seven times as large. Much of that Louisiana money was spent to try to keep low-lying New Orleans dry. But hundreds of millions of dollars have gone to unrelated water projects demanded by the state's congressional delegation and approved by the Corps, often after economic analyses that turned out to be inaccurate. Despite a series of independent investigations criticizing Army Corps construction projects as wasteful pork-barrel spending, Louisiana's representatives have kept bringing home the bacon. For example, after a $194 million deepening project for the Port of Iberia flunked a Corps cost-benefit analysis, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) tucked language into an emergency Iraq spending bill ordering the agency to redo its calculations. The Corps also spends tens of millions of dollars a year dredging little-used waterways such as the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, the Atchafalaya River and the Red River -- now known as the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway, in honor of the project's congressional godfather -- for barge traffic that is less than forecast.

Congress survives on pork, and it just gets worse and worse. This sort of thing will continue to happen until there is a constitutional ammendment giving the President a line item veto.

James Joyner blogged It turns out Louisiana has gotten more than its fair share of federal dollars for infrastructure but its own lawmakers thought the New Orleans levees were not a priority. Louisiana's politicians are no different from those of other states: they want to get as many federal dollars as they can and spend them on projects that will have the biggest economic impact. They judged the risk of a Category 4 or 5 hurricane taking a direct path over New Orleans sufficiently low as to permit the money to go to projects that were seemingly more urgent. Obviously, they guessed wrong--with tragic consequences. Louisiana got tons of federal money that could have easily been earmarked for flood control and chose, reasonably enough, to generate jobs to boost its poor economy. I don't blame Mary Landrieu for that. It would be nice, though, if she would refrain from going on television with tears in her eyes and threatening to punch the president.

MarkInMexico blogged Who has elected and reelected these politicians for decades? Who was unaware that the city, the parishes, the state, the city police, the Levee Board and just about every facet of Louisiana and New Orleans politics were not, are not and have not been for over a century just about the most corrupt in the nation? Hell, I knew that and I live 3000 miles from Graceland.

Michelle Malkin blogged Tim Graham at The Corner notes some facts reported in the WaPo that will not be on any of the "excellent visuals" at the BashBushfest

Damian Penny blogged A story in The Washington Post provides some perspective on the controversy over funding cuts to the Army Corps of Engineers, and how it may or may not have contributed to the levee breach in New Orleans


Not another damned commission

Michelle Malkin wrote in Townhall Dead bodies are still floating all over New Orleans. Hundreds, if not thousands, of children are still searching for their parents. Wiped-out communities are still awaiting water and power. So, what is armchair first responder Sen. Hillary Clinton's first response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster? A commission.

In the unlikely event that she is successful in 2008 we should create a new commission every month to investigate her administration. For the first month, we can focus on all of the stuff she stole from the WhiteHouse when they left, and whether it has bee returned.
"It has become increasingly evident that our nation was not prepared," Sen. Clinton, D-N.Y., lectured in a Labor Day letter to President Bush. Yes, thank you, Sen. Sherlock. Those gleaming degrees from Wellesley and Yale Law are really paying off. Sen. Clinton's "Katrina Commission" would be modeled after the "independent" 9/11 Commission. I can see it now: Democrat Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, whose main imperative is covering up her own culpability, will be the next Jamie Gorelick;
The only way the Governor and the Mayor have a chance of covering up their ineptitude is to put them on the commission. Jamie Gorelick should have been a witness, not a member of the 9/11 Commission, since she was principly at fault.
Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard, the local corrupt-o-crat who got his 15 minutes of fame on "Meet the Press" last week, will be the next Richard Ben-Veniste. And this time for "diversity," maybe they'll call on Randall "Black people are eating corpses . . . oh, never mind" Robinson and rapper Kanye "It's all about me" West to share their deep expertise.
All worthless people. And they will probably put some loud mouth RINOs on from the Republican side.
Despite the abject failures of local and state officials to prepare for the worst, abide by their own evacuation plans, maintain an effective police force, and crack down on looters, Sen. Clinton's commission would only examine the "adequacy of federal response efforts." Translation: Bash Bush.
What else have the Dems done, since he was elected?
Look, there's no question the feds fell down on the job. The president himself said he was "not satisfied" with the response.
But he is smart enough not to publically say he is going to fire the person in charge. Removing him in the middle of the crisis, or even saying you are going to remove him, would be very disruptive to the effort that is currently under place.
.... As military leaders now spearhead bureaucratically delayed recovery efforts and private citizens and corporations lead the way on massive charitable relief campaigns, the last thing this country needs is another grand-standing panel of blowhards to soak up public resources to restate the obvious. There isn't a single Katrina victim who will benefit from hindsight hound dogs publishing thousand-page tomes with cherry-picked evidence that distorts the true narrative of what happened and why.


Green hotheads exploit hurricane tragedy

Michael Fumento wrote in Townhall Time for an ice-water bath, hotheads. If you’d bothered to consult the scientists (remember them?) you’d find they’ve extensively studied the issue and found no evidence that global warming – assuming it’s actually occurring – is causing either an increase in frequency or intensity of hurricanes.

Truth does not prevent Green Hotheads from distorting anything to get some press, just as the Bush Haters will distort anything and everything to take a shot at him. And unfortunately our Left-Leaning MSM does not care whether it is true, they will print it anyway.
Thus the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which believes global warming is both real and man-made, stated in its last assessment (2001) that “Changes in tropical and extra-tropical storm intensity and frequency are dominated by [variations within and between decades], with no significant trends over the twentieth century evident.”

So, too, states the Tropical Meteorological Project at Colorado State University. In a paper issued AFTER Katrina hit it noted hurricane activity since 1995 has “been similar” to that “of the mid-1920s to the mid-1960s when many more major hurricanes struck the U.S. East Coast and Florida.” These are the people, chiefly professor of atmospheric science William Gray, who issue the annual hurricane forecasts each May.

In fact, according to the National Hurricane Center, the peak for major hurricanes (levels 3, 4, and 5) came between 1930 and 1950. In the wake of Katrina, Gray explained to the New York Times that what might appear to be a recent onslaught “is very much natural.” Until recently we were lucky, said Gray. Then, “The luck just ran out.”

Roger Pielke Jr., director of the University of Colorado's Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, agrees. In a forthcoming paper in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society he analyzes the damage caused by hurricanes that have hit the U.S. since 1900. Taking into account tremendous population growth along coastlines he finds no trend of increasing damage from hurricanes.

"I don't think you could find any hurricane scientist that would be willing to make the statement that the hurricanes of last year or Katrina are caused by global warming," he told Denver’s Rocky Mountain News.


Mayor, Governor at Odds Over Evacuation

FOXNews reports Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco seemed at odds with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin Wednesday, hours after the mayor ordered the mandatory evacuation of the crippled Crescent City by force if necessary. As floodwaters caused by Hurricane Katrina began to slowly recede with the ruined city's first pumps returning to operation, Nagin late Tuesday authorized law enforcement officers to force the evacuation of the estimated 10,000 residents who refuse to heed orders to leave. But in a Wednesday interview with FOX News, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said she had not signed off on the decision.

"The mayor certainly has ordered that but the governor, and that would be me, would have to enforce it or implement it.

If the Governor decides not to have forced evacuations, will she order the National Guard, that report to her, to arrest the police, that report to the Mayor?

This assumes the Governor can decide anything. She certainly prevented federal aid from coming in for several days because she insisted on being the sole one in charge, even though both the state and local disaster plans had not been followed.
We are trying to determine whether there is an absolute justification for that," she told FOX News. "I think the most important thing driving that decision would be the possibility of disease. If indeed the disease problem is evident, is inevitable, we'll have to move to the next stage," she said. And developments suggest that "next stage" may come soon. Floodwaters in New Orleans contain bacteria associated with sewage that are at least 10 times higher than acceptable safety levels, making direct contact by rescue workers and remaining residents dangerous, the first government tests confirmed Wednesday.

Marc @USSNeverdock blogged While rescue operations are still underway and while the left continues to try and put blame, any blame, on President Bush, The governor and the mayor are still feuding over how to handle the situation. Unbelievable.

John Hawkins blogged Mayor, Governor at Odds Over Evacuation

TheAnchoress blogged I’m sorry but this lady’s indecisiveness is very alarming. After reading this, I don’t want to hear another freaking word about how tardy the feds were. They could have done better? Sure, fine - they could have done better - everything could have been better! But this woman is in the thick of it - she is in charge, as she has been from the start - as she clearly WANTS to be. Yet she’s still trying to figure out the basic, common sense stuff. And she still won’t let the feds take this enormous - clearly too large for her - duty off her back!