Where's George?:
I think the question for the government response to Katrina is not so much "Where's Rudy?," as Todd asks below, but rather, "Where's George?" Rudy Giuliani was an effective leader post-9/11 in part because he assumed control and understood the gravity of the situation. Giuliani was direct, realistic, and 100% focused on the problem, and as the longtime Mayor of the devastated area he was uniquely situated to understand the scope of it.

  The devastation of Katrina looks like it is on a larger scale than the devastation of the 9/11 attacks. My sense from news reports is that we're talking about an entire region of the country that is devastated, including a major city lost, at least for now. Plus we're dealing with a problem that is gradually getting worse over a period of days, whereas in the case of 9/11 the incredible devastation occurred quickly and left a problem of response and cleanup. (This is not to minimize 9/11, of course, but rather to point out that the immediate challenge for government here is different, and in many senses more difficult.)

  I'm no expert in crisis response, and I don't have any special skills when it comes to putting my finger in the air and getting a sense of the national psyche. But my sense is that given the scale of the crisis, there is really only one person who can take command and be the new Rudy: the President of the United States. And at least so far, President Bush isn't measuring up. The American people want someone who is going to go down to New Orleans and take command and responsibility on the ground, not someone who is going to take an aerial tour of the disaster or have a press conference.
Troy H:
I agree George should be down there, but the difference too is that Rudy had direct responsibility for New York City, and then Pataki, and then Bush. Bush is 4 levels above -- municipal, county/parish, and state and then federal. I know the problem is more nuanced than mere federalism issues, but having worked in state gov't I know the feds are often actually loathe to get too involved without state pleading. I think we're way past that point however. Bush I took a hit on Andrew, but the FL gov. (Chiles I believe) didn't even ask for help until 24 hours into the crisis. When did Gov. Blanco ask for help and how much help did she ask for? These ships and troops don't just appear -- Acme instant rescue powder.

Bush goes in too soon the locals are complaining about jurisdiction -- especially before the scope is known. Now the scope is known -- the feds should go there full-bore.

Bottom line though -- the feds should be there 2 days ago.
9.2.2005 11:11am
The fact that four days after the hurricane there is no significant National Guard presence in New Orleans is absolutely mindboggling. This is a complete failure of the Dept. of Homeland Security and FEMA. I don't think criticism of the President for budget cuts in levee funding is particularly fair (there are a lot of fingerprints on that), but the failure to provide immediate security and food and water to the people of New Orleans is a direct failure of the federal government, and for that, the responsibility gets laid at George W.'s feet. People have died as a result of this inaction.
9.2.2005 11:19am
Anderson (mail) (www):
Right on, Prof. Kerr. I will give Bush this much of a break: he probably thought his subordinates had a plan in place that would alleviate the most severe suffering.

Now that he's acknowledged that "the results are not acceptable," I think he can recover some ground by holding those people accountable---not previously, however, a strength of this administration.
9.2.2005 11:19am
elliottg (mail):
This is just dancing around the problem. It's leadership. Can you imagine any leader in any situation not being f***ing mad at what's going on. Any competent leader would be tearing people new a**holes, spurring them to achieve more, and telling them he doesn't care about excuses. Do you think that Bush's results "are not acceptable" constitutes that kind of response. He just doesnt' care enough to get worked up about the unnecessary deaths of tens, maybe hundreds of people. I won't blame George for the storm or the levee failing although I think there are good cases to be made for his incompetence in these areas, but every death of the survivors after Thursday is a negligent homicide (and I use that term explicitly with the knowledge it will cause some people to write me off as a lunatic, but knowing it to be absolutely true) that can be laid at his feet because he just didn't care enough to lead.
9.2.2005 11:22am
Carl Sanders (mail):
My prediction is that Bush is going to get killed on this, because no matter what he does lots of people are going to die and lots of people are going to get hurt. The difference is that with 9/11 there is clear blame to be placed. Here no individual is to blame, and the idea that even the president could just step in and stop it seems kind of crazy to me. But it's human nature to try to lash out and find one person to blame, and the only clear canidate here is Bush. Even I feel like he should do, you know, SOMETHING, even though I have no idea what would work and what wouldn't, and for all I know he is working like crazy.
9.2.2005 11:24am
IMHO, George will have difficulty dealing with NO due to his overconfidence on other major issues (see my post under the Where's Rudy thread.) I say this as someone who thought he did a great job after 9/11, and who has supported him more often than not. But, since 9/11, we've frequently seen him congratulate employees who deserved firing (George Tenet); declare "Mission Accomplished" too soon; and fail to follow through on promises of funding (AIDS in Africa, disbursements in Iraq, etc.)

For him to deal with New Orleans effectively, he will have to start by acknowleding that there is a major problem that we are not handling well. When was that last time he did that?
9.2.2005 11:25am
Carl Sanders (mail):
Elliots comment is an immediate example of this, and I expect a lot more of it.
9.2.2005 11:26am
Reading other recent comments, I will say I don't blame Bush that this happened, and I don't think anything here is negligent homicide -- faster national guard would have helped but would not have prevented many of the deaths that are going to happen.

But I do think he is going to pay a price for his past misstatements and overconfidence. He often leads by declaring that everything is OK. Like the boy who cried wolf, when you say everything is OK the first few times people will believe you and will be reassured. But they will eventually stop believing you.
9.2.2005 11:28am
John Beukema (mail):
Prof. Kerr is right on a lot of things, but he's absolutely wrong about this. The President would merely have been in the way had he gone to NO within the past few days. The need for high security that accompanies a President wherever he goes would have distracted authorities from their first obligation of rescuing and attempting to move relief supplies into the area. The people in charge on the ground would have to have suspended their efforts to coordinate activities (which admittedly appear not to be going very well) to meet and greet and brief the president. What the hell do people think he could have done if he had gone in on, say, Wednesday -- drive a truck to the Superdome and start loading up evacuees?

A show of compassion is only that -- a show. Bush might have avoided some of the PR flak that he's taking had he gone in, but he couldn't really have done anything useful.
9.2.2005 11:39am
Nick (www):
Look... I think George could be doing more... being more vocal and forceful... BUT

Does Louisana have a Governor? Who the hell is he and where the hell is he? I don't think I've even heard the guy's name, let alone seen him do anything. That is the person that that state actually elected for things such as this. Why is nobody holding him responsible?
9.2.2005 11:39am
Scott Wood (mail):
I'm sure it will be a political hot potato, but why should the federal government be funding New Orleans' levees at all? It honestly never would have entered my mind to cast an accusatorial eye towards the citizens of Michigan and Montana for not satisfactorily maintaining levees in New Orleans (assuming there even was a realistic way of building and maintaining htem better than they had been). --sw
9.2.2005 11:43am
CatCube (mail):
Is the President allowed to just "do something"? I thought (and Rev. Sensing talks about here) that the state Governor had to request troops. What is the actual law on this?
9.2.2005 11:47am
David Timothy Beito (mail) (www):
A key source of trouble is that because of the Iraq quagmire we are badly overextended, hence the shortage of National Guard and helicopters (to evacuate and repair the breach) at the beginning.
9.2.2005 11:49am
lyle stamps (mail):
As usual, let's grind axes and try to tar &feather Bush rather than placing blame where its due; on the local leadership who failed to adequately plan for the storm and live in a city that invites disaster.
9.2.2005 11:53am
Houston Lawyer:
Louisiana has a governor. The last time I saw her, she lost control of her emotions on TV. There is no leadership there.

Three days ago, everyone was discussing good looters verses bad looters. When you let the looters have their way, innocent people are going to be killed.

All that being said, I am at a loss to understand why more of the refugees haven't made it to Houston yet. There are enough buses between here and NO to have evacuated the entire city by now.

I can't think of a worse idea than the President being on the ground right now in NO. Those people who are still there are almost out of their minds with fatigue, hunger and frustration. Bringing in the President would likely spark a riot.

And Kudos to President Clinton for actively defending the government's efforts. I'm no fan of his, but will give credit where credit's due.
9.2.2005 11:56am
Shavar Jeffries (mail):
The reason that there wasn't a more robust and immediate federal response to this disaster is both obvious and complicated: The victims of this tragedy are disproprtionately Black. I have no doubt that if seventy thousand White people -- hungry, dehydrated, and imperiled by a multiplicity of public-health hazards -- were in the same position the predominately Black people of New Orleans have faced, there would have been a quick and aggressive federal intervention. These folks -- primarily women, children, and the elderly -- are essentially being left to die. Can there be any serious question that such a scenario would be utterly intolerable if these were primarily White people facing this? Even a casual assessment of this nation's racial history would reveal the obvious answer to this question. I don't expect many bloggers on this site to understand or appreciate this unmistakable reality, but, then again, I tend not to expect most Americans to sincerely struggle with the role race continues to play in our striving, yet flawed, society.
9.2.2005 12:02pm
Al Maviva (mail):
Yesterday some friends who work as support staff at the WH were saying George was considering going there today, or at least the people who work for George were saying it was under consideration. .
9.2.2005 12:04pm
I usual find Prof. Kerr one of the more reasonable bloggers on TVC, but this post is just off the reservation. Bush's presence on the ground in NO would not not make one whit of difference. There is a lot of griping about NG units to the area, but let's all remember that Bush issued federal disaster emergency orders even before the hurricane, that NO and LA have local governments that have to be expected to hold the line in the first place before federal help can arrive (as Rudy did on 9/11), and that given the nearly unprecedented scope of the disaster, the response effort-while admittedly perfect but then again what is?- has been reasonable.

If Bush were to go, it might look symbolically nice, but would just divert time and resources away from what really needs to be done right now. And in any event (I don't have a link, so can't verify this) but I read on another site that of the 2/3rds with an opinion, something like 80% approve of Bush's handling of the situation.
9.2.2005 12:10pm
Carol Anne:
An event of this magnitude needs full-focused attention from all levels of government.

The Mayor of New Orleans is clearly wa-a-ay out of his depth (no pun intended) with this crisis. He hasn't tried to solve the levee problem before now, but he also does not have an adequate disaster preparedness plan.

The Parish governments are known to be hot-beds of corruption, for decades. I expect little results from them, and I've seen nothing of those leaders speaking up in the print or electronic media.

The Governor of LA seems bewildered, and one wonders why she's not been getting immediate help from neighboring states (National Guard troops, water, food, medical supplies).

But the major failure, to my mind, is the Homeland Security Department (which, I believe, not incorporates FEMA). Chertoff is either incompetent or woefully misinformed by deputies; in either case he is not effective.

And, finally, I place substantial blame on the Bush/Cheney/Rove lack of leadership. They've picked political hacks with no experience for important jobs, they fired the Secretary of the Army for his objections to cutting the budget for levee repairs.

Now, beyond blame, what needs to be done:
1. Clear the roads
2. Use all clear roads to move people into the area with skills, equipment and supplies.
3. Don't bother with "lines of authority." When you put 25,000 people into N.O. to help, they'll figure out what to do that's right. Informal networks will evolve within hours to tighten security, save lives, and evacuate the afflicted.

Instead, we have Mary Landrieu congratulating public officials on their achievements (1), Homeland Security prohibiting a huge Vancouver BC team of experienced search-and-rescue folks from entering the U.S., and platitudes instead of action from elected officials.

New Orleans will go down in history as politics at its' worst, serving itself instead of the people. (I wonder how much different it would be if the Governor of Louisiana was Republican?)

As for whether the Federal government being responsible for levees: That's national law, and it's the Corps of Engineers' responsibility. But, when you cut an $80 Million request to $10 Million, you suck money out of the FEMA budget for Iraq, and the FEMA "preparedness fund" goes to politically-connected states (and virtually none to New Orleans, listed as one of the three major domestic hazards), you can see how this disaster was--in large measure--created by political processes.

Final question: Since we had three days to prepare for a Gulf Coast disaster, and two days for the Gulf Coast near New Orleans, where was the staging of supplies and troops? When the Berlin blockade began, we started the Berlin airlift the very next day! Now, we see Chertoff saying on national TV (last night) that he knows nothing of tens of thousands without food and water at the Convention Center?

Two disasters: Katrina, and failure to adequately respond.
9.2.2005 12:12pm
Hugh59 (mail):
Most of the complaints I have read here against the President are utter nonsense. I am a hurricane survivor (Marilyn which struck St. Thomas on September 15, 1995). It takes several days before anything can be done, relief-wise.

NO is not the easiest city to enter or leave, if I understand the facts correctly. You can only send in limited amounts of personnel and materials by air...the major relief will come by sea.

It takes time to mobilize the federal resources...the state and local resources should have been more active long ago. The argument that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are responsible for the supposed lack of National Guard presence does is not supported by the facts. Over 75% of Louisiana's National Guard forces have not been deployed and are available if the Governor chooses to use them.

Finally, nothing will ever be done to the satisfaction of the survivors. Especially THESE survivors, many of whom seem to feel obligated to help themselves to anything they can lay their hands on (including the vehicles of rescuers).
9.2.2005 12:13pm
jbob (mail):
They have a governor. SHE (Blanco) is apparently incompetent. I enjoyed watching CNN grill her this morning as she refused to answer when she specifically first asked the President to send troops while criticizing him for not having the troops there already. Constitutionally she needs to ask first and it doesn't sound like she did her job. You get the government you deserve and New Orleans and the entire state are paying their own special price for it now.
9.2.2005 12:14pm
A. Nonymous (mail):
Ok, this is going to get me in trouble but eh. The question isn't where's Rudy or where's George, it is where's their TEAM.

I was in Manhattan on 9/11 and the days after. Rudy did what he was able to do because he had a team of people he assembled that were second to none and that team had deputies who knew what the deuce they were doing (remember, a lot of top fire people died, but it was their deputies who stepped up to the plate amazingly).

So air dropping Rudy isn't the answer, nor would it be a matter of Rudy + the people he had. They quite literally wouldn't know the terrain (I mean that in a lot of senses).

So Where's George follows, but here too it is not quite right. It isn't a question of George going down and taking command, but who does he have their to take command of? If the people in charge and their deputies are roaringly incompetent that's a bigger problem. We could argue (on the Fed level) if Bush didn't create a team in FEMA and other agencies that could handle this.

Either way I agree with those who said earlier this will absolutely thrash the last years of his Presidency. The sense of helplessness I and some many others feel will be unleashed on someone. That someone is the top person. If the 9/11 recovery had tanked, Rudy would have been mauled. It didn't, he rose. This recovery has for all intents and purposes tanked. Dead by dehydration? Starvation? In the US? Forget it, even if by Sunday the place is a perfect refugee camp the meme is set and no amount of later perfection will make up for initial screw ups.

Bush will eventually go down there and be embraced with an albatross that is going to hang around his neck for the rest of his term and possibly his life. Whether this is right or just will be debated just as long, but the cloud will be over Bush's head nonetheless.
9.2.2005 12:30pm
Glenn W Bowen (mail):
regardless, LA has a state/county/municipal system of government- where is it?
9.2.2005 12:31pm
A. Nonymous (mail):
The state government (Governor) is crying on camera.

The county/municipal system is underwater.

This is another difference between Rudy &N.O. On 9/11 the emergency command bunker was in WTC (7 WTC I think) and was lost, but City Hall was literally a few blocks up the street and the 99.5% of the city not smoldering was still standing. Infrastructure, communications, etc. was limited or cut to only to one area.

The City of New Orleans is 80% flooded. That means, practically, it no longer exists. The rest of the state was also hit, too. Again, unlike 9/11.
9.2.2005 12:36pm
The National Guard of each state is the state militia. They are under the authority of each state's governor. The president can't just go in and take over the LANG or the MING or the ALNG.

It looks to me like Mississippi took the direct hit on this storm, and they are doing orders of magnitude better than LA is. Maybe the LA governor could manage to find a few minutes during her hours-long non-stop CNN interviews to call the feds and try to coordinate some efforts. (Was that snarky enough? How about, "Get off the #$%! tv, you stupid &!@$, and start doing your job!")

And maybe some of those people who are fundamentalist extremists on the questions of civil rights might want to step up and acknowledge that these positions might have real-world consequences. New Orleans has a crime rate which is 10 times the national average. Corruption is the bedrock of city and state politics and law enforcement and has been for decades. (Remember "Vote for the crook; it's important!"?) A disproportionate fraction of the people who refused the evacuation order are drug addicts and the mentally ill. (You really didn't think that the "looters" attacking hospitals were after those stylish gowns that open in the back, do you?) Civil order in general in New Orleans has been on the verge of total breakdown for years. So now you're surprised that people are shoting at rescuers?

cathy :-)
9.2.2005 12:37pm
Anon1ms (mail):
Look,all this talk about the details of federalism is fine, but that's not the point. It's about leadership.

Was the White House staff standing around saying, "Gee, I wonder why we're not getting a call from the governors asking for troops?"

GWB and the critical people should have immediately flown in to a military facility in the area and gotten the governors of LA, MS and AL to fly over to confer on what should be done, and who would do it. A centralized command post should have been established to coordinate the response with a "strike team" available to handle surprises (such as the people abandoned at the NO Convention Center).

We don't need so-called leaders in dark suits and red ties extolling the efforts of the people on the ground from air-conditioned offices -- we need LEADERSHIP.
9.2.2005 12:38pm
Carol Anne:
Here's something informative: Recording of New Orleans Mayor interview (last night?) on WWL-AM Click to play.

His frustration at inaction ont he part of larger governmental units (state &federal) is palpable.
9.2.2005 12:38pm
Chris Murphy (mail):
The bottom line is:

1. Funds were diverted from fixing the New Orleans' levees (a federal responsibility, as others have noted) to the war in Iraq and Homeland Security boondoggles.

2. The Louisiana National Guard was diverted to Iraq.

3. FEMA leadership became a patronage position under Bush (unlike Clinton). Whereas Clinton appointed a emergency management specialist, the current FEMA head's qualification is that he was a buddy of the prior head of FEMA. The prior head of FEMA's qualification was that he was a Texas-based political contributor to Bush. None of these people had any qualifications to manage emergencies.

4. So instead of getting some real emergency management, Bush has given us (1) an admittedly shaky Islamic republic in Iraq which is in the process of stripping women of the rights which they had under the secular Sadaam Hussein administration, and (2) patronage positions for Republican contributors.

Should Bush take the blame? You can draw your own conclusions.
9.2.2005 12:40pm
CharleyCarp (mail):
Nothing prevented the President from saying on Wednesday night that the full resources of the federal government would be made available to Louisiana. He doesn't have to wait for the Gov to ask before he starts making big offers.

I'm not going to say he failed to meet some kind of constitutional minimum, or should be impeached. However, I think everyone here, including especially Admin apologists, can think of 3 things he could have done that would have made a very big difference.

Restoring hope and order -- and they go together -- is something the feds are way better placed to do (especially with the governor apparently not up to the task). And at which the feds have been an utter failure. And it's a failure that starts at the top.
9.2.2005 12:43pm
elliottg (mail):
What a bunch of apologists. Leadership is not about doing things; noone is suggesting that GWB should have helicoptored into NO. Leadership is about setting a tone, inspiring, insuring accountability, setting priorities. GWB has done none of that. As exhibit A, the first thing you do in a crisis is clear the decks of everything else and call everyone in (back from their vacations if you have to). Did GWB do that?
9.2.2005 12:45pm
Artful Dodger (mail):
I'm sorry, but all this talk of federalism is well and good, but missing the essential point. The question is one of leadership, not necessarily policy. The President should've provided a rallying cry for the nation to pitch in and help when this problem first happened. I mean for chrissakes, it was no problem for him to leave vacation at one in the morning to sign a bill for the Terri Schaivo debacle, but it's taken him three days after the complete oblideration of a major city to deal with a federal emergency greater in scope than 9-11. During the Battle of Britain, Churchill was on the street reassuring citizens within hours of a bombing's end. It's a pity how much less we expect of our leaders a mere sixty years later.
9.2.2005 12:45pm
Artful Dodger (mail):
Glenn said: "regardless, LA has a state/county/municipal system of government- where is it?" It's twenty feet of water.
9.2.2005 12:47pm
Huey Long:
Thank goodness elliotg won't "blame George for the storm." (Of course, those Bushies have a bad record with Hurricanes--Hugo, Andrew, and now this. Maybe it's those vapor trails.) Unfortunately, elliotg's reasonableness distinguishes him only slightly from RFK, Jr. and al-Jazeera. I won't bother with ridiculous talk of levee-funding vel non: Impeach LBJ!

Having once worked for Rudy (though not on 9/11), it is obvious to me that strong leadership and aggressive preventive measures (i.e., police deployments) in anticipation of disaster or unrest only provoke frothing at the mouth about repression. Though I'm no Blanco fan, no amount of government or leadership, at any level, can catch up to stupidity (e.g., staying in NO so kids can "watch" the storm) and immorality (e.g., stealing-hoarding Nikes) on such a mass scale, in a city so poverty-stricken and crime-ridden as NO, particularly not within a few days. In my visits to NO, on "good" days, the absence of chaos seemed precarious at best.
9.2.2005 12:52pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Joining the commenters who understand Kerr's point: it's not what Bush could "do on the ground," it's leadership.

That said, I think he *could* have done a lot had he recognized the gravity of the situation. If his people had told him on Tuesday, "we have no plan," he could've called up some pals/donors in Texas and said, "look, I need 50 semis of bottled water here, &I need 'em yesterday" and gotten them rounded up.

He could also have cut through the bewilderment of the competing officials. (I give the mayor some slack post-flood---his city was underwater, and his operational structure doubtless collapsed. But he should've been at the Convention Center.) When someone picks up the phone and it's The President on the line, they snap to it in a way that the mayor or the governor or the FEMA guy can't inspire.

Gov. Blanco has probably earned her resignation by her terrible response. I am patiently waiting for someone to use her as an argument against female executives in a crisis ... at Outside the Beltway, commenters are already blaming disorderly "jigs" for the crisis.
9.2.2005 12:56pm
unhyphenatedconservative (mail):
We had warning. This wasn't an earthquake that hits without warning. If Fox News knew to get reporters in there to get the obligatory "reporter in rainslicker getting blown away by huge winds" shot, it is inexcusable for the local, state and federal governments to have been caught with their pants down.

Another thought on this. We've heard that since September 11th, we are prepared for a terrorist strike. The terrorists will not give us the warning we had of the hurricane. If they detonate a dirty bomb or something even worse, will we be prepared? Or will we again see an utter breakdown as in New Orleans.

Our enemies are watching this. They are seeing that criminal gangs have taken over portions of a major American city because authorities were not prepared. They are seeing that people left the shelters because they felt safer on the street than inside the buildings authorities claimed offered safety.

We had a chance to show that when the hurricane came, America was ready to assist the survivors and rebuild. The terrorists have now had a chance to see a disorganization and lack of will that can only be described as provocative weakness.
9.2.2005 12:57pm
Noah Snyder (mail):
A. Nonymous raises a great point about George's team. 5 years of replacing career experts with unexperienced partisans has real affects. One of the real affects is that FEMA isn't ready to handle events like this.

Why aren't isn't their food and water already dropped off (by airlift if necessary)? Why did no one think to find busses to evacuate the people with no transportation before the storm hit? If the POTUS had called Greyhound 48 hours before the storm and said he needed 500 busses there tonight, or if someone had thought to use all the school busses in the city, then things just wouldn't be like they are now.

The fact of the matter is that it seems that George Bush didn't bother to hire anyone competent enough to deal with this or to give them the resources necessary to do their jobs. This was one of the three most likely major disasters in the country, FEMA should have plans in place to deal with it competantly. Disaster management is hard, but like most hard things, some smart well-trained people with a lot of resources and a lot of preparation could have gone a long way.
9.2.2005 1:01pm
elliottg (mail):
The new talking points emerge. Blame Blanco. Blame Nagin. Blame FEMA. Blame the victims. Blame the looters. In 2004, it was anyone but Bush, and now, in 2005 it's still ABB.
9.2.2005 1:06pm
Tom Perkins (mail):
Bush declared the place a disaster area before the hurricane even made landfall, what steps did the state and local governments ask FEMA for? Nothing. FEMA has what authority to direct the civilian population and local resources around without their sayso? None.

1/4 quarter of the LANG is in Iraq, 3/4 are under the control of the Governor, when did she send them in?

The mayor knew his city couldn't take a Cat 3 hit without flooding, so when the storm was two days out, and a Cat 5, does he order a mandatory evac? NOOO...

Buses should have been collecting people days before the landfall, and it should have been done under mandatory evacuation order, and that was the mayor's call.

If, if George Bush deserves a share of blame for the handling of Katrina's landfall and aftermath, he's rightfully last in line for it.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
9.2.2005 1:30pm
chris (mail):
Of course it's blame the locals. The idea that the Federal government can do everything is absurd. The locals have or should have all the information. The problem here is that NO is and has always been a completely disfunctional place. The idea that the Federal Government can come in and create order from scratch is ridiculous. That the head of EMERGENCY PLANNING of NO is on TV complaining about the Federal government is obscene. What the hell has this guy been doing before the flood hit?
9.2.2005 1:33pm
Tom Perkins (mail):
chris wrote:

"That the head of EMERGENCY PLANNING of NO is on TV complaining about the Federal government is obscene. What the hell has this guy been doing before the flood hit?"

From what I could see before the storm hit, they weren't doing squat.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
9.2.2005 1:38pm
Sigivald (mail):
So, lemme get this straight, Noah.

The President is supposed to "get" busses (how? nationalise them? use the super-secret Federal Bus Pool we don't have?) ready before the hurricane hits, Just In Case The Levee Breaks Afterward And We Need To Evacuate The Whole City For A Few Months?

I'm with Tom on this. The fact that we want someone to have done something doesn't mean that it's the President's fault that those things didn't happen. Especially when we're talking hindsight; I assume everyone saying "X should have been done" was saying that at the time, and wondering why the Governor's office and Mayor weren't doing that?

No? But evidently the President is supposed to be psychic, and know the future, and do the perfect thing? (And can anyone deny that if he had, oh, nationalised a bus fleet, and then the hurricane had veered off of N.O. and none of them been needed, he'd have been slammed for "creating a climate of fear" or "overreaching his power" or "this is the start of a police state"? He can't win, can he?

It's always either not enough or too much, and it's always his fault for not just knowing that the Governor would be incompetent or anything else that happens.)

Oh, and Noah. What makes you think Greyhound will just send 500 busses somewhere because the President says so, before the storm hits? What authority does he even have to do that, before the local authorities even order an evacuation? (Remember, the evac order came about 24 hours before the storm hit, not 48.) Plus, uh, you might recall the roads were jammed and there was general chaos. (Oh, and outside busses couldn't get in, what with the inbound roads used for outgoing traffic.)

(And one last note. Greyhound's TOTAL fleet is under 2000 busses. 500 is over 1/4 of their entire nationwide fleet; and not all the busses are operational at any one time.)

But it's somehow Bush's fault.
9.2.2005 1:49pm
Shelby (mail):
There's certainly plenty of Bush-bashing going on, and some of it is probably justified. I don't know whether he really screwed up FEMA with appointments; I've seen Kevin Drum's argument but there's often a cogent counter-argument, and I haven't heard that yet. Bush is NOT responsible for the levee failure -- see this, where the Army Corps of Engineers says so.

Bush has not done a great job of coordination, planning and management -- or his people have not. Nothing new there. He should be making persuasive, intelligent addresses to the locals and the nation explaining what's going on and who's in charge. Alas, he has never been very good at that.

It's absurd to say he should have promptly gone to the scene. It wasn't until Monday night or Tuesday morning that the true scope of the disaster was clear. Moreover, his presence and attendant security would only distract the focus from rescuing people and maintaining order.

He should, however, absolutely be cracking heads and establishing a chain of command. If he has to run roughshod over Louisiana's legal authority and sort out the details later, it might still be worth it.
9.2.2005 1:49pm
Kelly (mail):
There is a tragedy of errors going on here.

Rescue efforts are being turned away - In Virginia, 20 sheriff deputies and rescuers loaded with trucks and supplies headed out of town, only to be told to turn around because they weren't authorized to come down. Local National Guard and Reserve units are waiting to go, without any information on orders. There are skilled people with resources and experience willing and ready to go, and they're not being allowed to go.

What is the federal government doing? I know that there are federalism issues here, but COME ON. We did far better in response to 9/11. One has to wonder if it doesn't mean more to the federal government since it's not DC or NYC. This looks like white America letting black America down. The perception of racism and classism, even if not intentional, is horrifying.

What is Homeland Security doing? I keep seeing Michael Chertoff standing behind Bush in photo ops and press briefings, looking like Bush's boy, but what's the deal? Either Homeland Security is a major player in this relief effort, in which case Chertoff should be off DOING something rather than standing behind Bush on camera, or Homeland Security isn't involved, in which case, why is Chertoff there? I have absolutely zero confidence in Homeland Security anymore. We knew this hurricane was coming. From the time it crossed South Florida, we knew it was coming. From 2 days before it hit, we knew generally where and at Category 4 or 5 levels. We knew N.O. was under sea-level. Heck, I spent hours on Sunday watching the Weather Channel, knowing something big and potentially awful was on its way. If this is part of Homeland Security's job, what will happen when it's a terrorist attack - that happens with absolutely NO warning. Sure, this is an enormous problem on a large scale, but it looks like Homeland Security is doing nothing. What will they be able to do when they are completely unprepared? (BTW, if this isn't a roadmap for terrorists, I don't know what is. Attack a non-DC or NYC target and know you'll get great bang-for-the-buck because we don't have enough National Guardsmen left in this country for domestic actions.)

And FEMA. I had hoped that FEMA was doing all it could with the resources it had, but today I heard the FEMA director ADMIT on TV that he had no clue that thousands of people were at the N.O. Convention Center. That is unacceptable. N. O. is in a hurricane-prone area. Isn't there some federal office with maps and lists of likely shelters? Is there NO communication between FEMA and local agencies?

The picture of lawlessness has made those that would actually enter the city to help out very nervous and reluctant. I understand that - I've heard that buses are sitting outside of town and the drivers refuse to drive in. That may be the fault of the media for playing up those few sniping incidents too highl. But I am not understanding why every major city within a day's drive hasn't sent all available city buses loaded to the gills with water and food (and one or two armed policemen, if need be) into N.O. to drop off these supplies and to take busloads of refugees back out. God Bless, Detroit - they're doing it. Where's Atlanta, Jacksonville, Charlotte, St. Louis? Why aren't we dropping rations from helicopters and planes (heck, put 'em in plastic bags so they stay edible) - it won't help everyone, but it's a start until we can get to all of them.

It's such a huge problem, to be sure, but it seems like so very little is getting done. Bush's wishy-washy 'help is on the way" is crap to people who haven't food or water or diapers standing with 5,000 others in 90+ degree heat TODAY. This is not a we'll rebuild you in couple weeks kind of thing. This is a pack up the buses now, we're going to feed you and get you to dry ground and worry about the cost later kind of thing.

I don't need GWB on the ground - that's a distraction for the police forces with all that security he commands. But I do demand some centralized, informed control over the response - this is absurd.
9.2.2005 1:51pm
jallgor (mail):
"The new talking points emerge. Blame Blanco. Blame Nagin. Blame FEMA. Blame the victims. Blame the looters. In 2004, it was anyone but Bush, and now, in 2005 it's still ABB."

How can anyone with any intellectual honesty rattle off this list of people (the governor of LA, the Mayor of NO, the federal agency in charge of disaster relief, looters) and try to make the point that Bush is more responsible than these people for the problems in NO?
I can't believe how fast the partisan nonsense and finger pointing has worked its way into this whole mess.

And am I the only one who is a little disgusted by Mayor Nagin's anguished complaints about the lack of help? It would be one thing if he was a mere citizen stuck at the Superdome but he is the Mayor for godsake. Here's one quote:
"I need reinforcements. I need troops, man. I need 500 buses, man," he said. "Now get off your asses and fix this. Let's do something and let's fix the biggest goddam crisis in the history of this country."

Did he make arrangements for those reinforcements, troops and buses before this disaster? By all accounts his handling of this situation from the moment the hurricane was forecasted to hit NO has been completely incompetent. "Get off your asses and fix this"? Who is he talking to? Because i know for damn sure that if I lived in NO, the fist person I would be screaming at "to get off their ass and fix this" would be HIM!

I really hate the media witch hunts that seem to follow every disaster that befalls this country. It happened after 9/11 and I was just as disgusted by the "Bush should have known" camp as I was by the "Clinton should have gotten OSB when we had the chance" crew. All this ridiculous finger pointing for political gain is pathetic but I find Nagin's buck-passing really contemptible.
9.2.2005 1:53pm
gwangung (mail):
Hrm. I thought the Army Corps said that the preparations for Cat 5 storms would not have been finished...but that the preparations for strengthening the levees were scheduled in 2003 [but were not funded]. True or an overlooked nuance?
9.2.2005 1:56pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
Last year, when Bush declared part of Florida a disaster area BEFORE a hurricane hit, he was ripped all over the media for a "political ploy." If he was running in front of every camera, he'd be getting criticized for "deflecting attention from Iraq" or some other nonsense. Blaming Bush is dumb. It overlooks the fact that New Orleans has been corrupt for years. Their police force is a disgrace. Their crime rate is 10 times the national average. Their DA is a racist who fired every white attorney in the office when he took over, some of them with 20+ years in office.

Can you imagine what would happen if Bush ordered the military in there to restore order by all means necessary? He'd be called a murderer and a racist.

I feel sorry for people that hate Bush so much, all they see in this story is a new way to blame him for something. New Orleans is much more than just Bourbon Street, and has been a corrupt and crime-infested cesspool for many years.

Instead of blaming Bush, offer some solutions: Should we have the looters shot or not? Should our military, on U.S. soil, run thorugh and ravage every potential criminal? Should we drop sandwiches in the water?

Every time you hear an emergency planning official and politican blame Bush, ask yourself this: What are they supposed to be doing? What have they been doing? An emergency planning official who blames Bush or the Feds has failed at his job, pure and simple. Of course, were it you, you'd blame Bush too to deflect from your failure.
9.2.2005 1:57pm
David Timothy Beito (mail) (www):
How can anyone with any intellectual honesty rattle off this list of people (the governor of LA, the Mayor of NO, the federal agency in charge of disaster relief, looters) and try to make the point that Bush is more responsible than these people for the problems in NO?

Perhaps....but just because the mayor and governor have fumbled doesn't let Bush off the hook.

9.2.2005 2:00pm
Leadership was repealing the death tax. Think of all the lucky heirs.
9.2.2005 2:04pm
Tom Perkins (mail):
Shelby wrote:
"He should, however, absolutely be cracking heads and establishing a chain of command."

The Louisiana legislature could cede the territory to the Feds and then the Pres and Congress would have direct authority to do things

I won't hold my breath.

"If he has to run roughshod over Louisiana's legal authority and sort out the details later, it might still be worth it."

And it's ironic that doing that would give the Dems ACTUAL grounds for impeaching him but probably also make it politically impossible to do it...

Might be worth it to watch the Kos kids foam, but I think it would be superfluous at this point.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
9.2.2005 2:08pm
elliottg (mail):
It's useless to argue with blind ideologues. The salient point of that list is that unquestionably Bush is at the top. He commands the most resources. He can commandeer busses; look at the powers he claims in the court documents relating to Guantanamo. Finally, noone has said anything about the fact that Bush did not clear the decks and call everyone back from vacation. It's not about arguing whether that would have made an incremental difference, it's about a defining action that shows he just can't lead, doesn't know how to lead, and won't lead.
9.2.2005 2:09pm
jallgor (mail):
"Perhaps....but just because the mayor and governor have fumbled doesn't let Bush off the hook."

My point is that nobody should be on "the hook" for this but it is intellectually dishonest and clearly politically motivated to jump over a long list of responsible people and go right to Bush. I find Nagin deplorable not becuase he may have been incompetent but because he seems to have lost all sense of responsibility to his constituents.

A month from now somebody should sit down and say how can we do this better next time. Anyone pointing fingers now has an agenda and that agenda has nothing to do with helping those hungry, thristy and homeless people.
9.2.2005 2:11pm
Yule (mail):
Perhaps GWB should just stay quiet. This morning I heard him say (I think he actually said it yesterday) "No one anticipated that the levies would be breached." Pardon me? Every damn Discovery Channel special about severe weather, every news cast about a hurricane in the Gulf in the last 5 years at least, has talked about the levies around NO being vulnerable to even a category 2 or 3 storm. This seems like a small point (and in empirical terms it certainly is), but it seems indicative of a how much trouble GWB has sounding like a real leader when he's not just writing something that someone else wrote. His preference for being willfully uninformed about the world does not play when when he has to speak and think on his feet. Rudy both had a great team and rose to the occasion personally. Bush lacks both the team and the personal qualities to inspire any confidence here.
9.2.2005 2:14pm
Tom Perkins (mail):
"In Virginia, 20 sheriff deputies and rescuers loaded with trucks and supplies headed out of town, only to be told to turn around because they weren't authorized to come down."

Who told them that? I really want to know.

"I have absolutely zero confidence in Homeland Security anymore."

I never had it to start with, the whole thing was a feelgood measure.

"but today I heard the FEMA director ADMIT on TV that he had no clue that thousands of people were at the N.O. Convention Center. That is unacceptable."

It's someone's job to tell FEMA the people were there, and that is a local govt. person. Did FEMA get the call?

FEMA's main job in this kind of thing has been to sign checks, not pass out fresh new dry land to the tune of 90,000sq. miles.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &fpp
9.2.2005 2:20pm
Heh. (mail):

Heh. Surprised you didn't find a way to work in THE JOOOOOOOOOOOSSSS!

Not impressive.
9.2.2005 2:23pm
Shelby (mail):

Strock added that despite a May report by the Corps' Louisiana district that a lack of federal funding had slowed construction of hurricane protection, nothing the Corps could have done recently would have prevented Katrina from flooding New Orleans.

"The levee projects that failed were at full project design and were not really going to be improved," Strock said.

Here's a link that hasn't yet been firewalled.
9.2.2005 2:36pm
Kelly (mail):
The problem with seeing the report on TV news is that you often can't find the story in print online. But, NBC4 (DC) reported this morning that trucks and sheriff deputies from Leesburg, VA packed up and headed out yesterday evening, only to get several miles down the road and to be told that they weren't authorized to go. Now, whether this was the Virginia government telling them they didn't have permission (which is one thing) or the Louisiana or federal government telling them to hold off, I don't know and it wasn't made clear, but the tone of the story was that is was the latter.

True, it's a local's job to tell FEMA where the shelters are. Do you possibly think that no one, even after the storm hit, in NO local govt or fire or police told someone at FEMA that thousands of people were also at the Convention Center? I can't imagine that's the case. Instead, it would appear that that information never made anywhere within FEMA. What's more, as an "emergency management" organization that appears in the wake of natural disasters, you don't think that as a baseline of readiness, that they should have basic guidelines as to where prominent shelters in major cities would be? C'mon, if you or I did or jobs with so little advance preparation, we'd surely be fired.

I'm not absolving NO or LA government - they prepared miserably and have responded miserably - but we assume (and pray!) that the federal government has more preparation for such things in mind, esp. since in recent years we've been beaten to death with the "be prepared" mantra.
9.2.2005 2:39pm
Tom Perkins (mail):
elliotg, wrote:

"He commands the most resources. He can commandeer busses;..."

He can?

"...look at the powers he claims in the court documents relating to Guantanamo."

And he can't do that here because this isn't terrorist related, besides, I think the PARIOT ACT would let him seize the paperwork for the busses, I don't think he could seize the busses just to make what he thought was a better use of them.

Yule, after the storm passed and the levees were intact (and at first it was thought they were) it would not occur to most people to think they would break when the stress was less. I think that was what he meant. You assume the worst pretty easily; you're one of those ideologues elliotg talked about.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
9.2.2005 2:40pm
cirby (mail):
People who are complaining about the Feds not doing anything aren't seeing the huge amount of work that's going on outside of the disaster area.

People who are complaining about the lack of troops don't know that it's the job of the Governors of those states to deploy them and ask for more troops from other states. FEMA helps coordinate things, but they don't run the show.

People who are complaining about the anarchy in New Orleans don't know that it's the job of the Mayor and the other local officials to stop it or prevent it from happening in the first place.

The Federal response is designed, specifically, to assist the state and local folks, not run the job.

The timeline:
Saturday - The storm strengthens, and turns north. Bush declares a disaster area. The locals suggest some folks might want to evacuate.
Sunday - The Mayor of New Orleans orders a mandatory evacuation, which is the entirety of the planned response to a major hurricane.
Monday - Storm hits. Things are bad in New Orleans, horrible in Biloxi.
Tuesday - Levee breaks. Things just went to horrible in NO. People are starting to clear roads and inspect bridges, while figuring out where to send stuff. LA government sits on their hands. Feds are starting to move stuff closer in.
Wednesday - Things go completely to hell in NO. State and local government drop the ball 100%. Government effectively collapses in NO. Feds start moving in, generally take control.
Thursday - Things really start to happen. Thousands evacuated to Red Cross shelters in Texas.
Friday - Look at the TV.
9.2.2005 3:00pm
Yule (mail):
You assume the worst pretty easily; you're one of those ideologues elliotg talked about.

Tom's point about the levies standing after the storm is a good one and I hadn't taken it into account. Perhaps that was what Bush was talking about.

But please don't call me an ideologue without backing up your insult claim. What, exactly, was the ideological content of my original comment? It is Bush himself who repeatedly states that he prefers to get his information from advisors and his wife rather than watching the news, etc. himself. From many people he surely gets political points for this claim. This is not an issue of political ideology but rather of one's understanding of the world. Are you claiming that Bush is spontaneously articulate and that he thinks and speaks well on his feet? Because there seems to be a mountain of evidence against that point. This is, as Professor Kerr has pointed out, and issue of symbolism. And let's face it, Bush is not working as a symbol of confidence and competence right now.
9.2.2005 3:47pm
Tom Perkins (mail):
Yule wrote:
"But please don't call me an ideologue without backing up your insult claim."

Yule wrote:
"...Perhaps GWB should just stay quiet..."

When he is being castigated for not leading, you like him better silent.

"...but it seems indicative of a how much trouble GWB has sounding like a real leader when he's not just writing something that someone else wrote..."

I think he sounded like a leader on top of the rubble pile in NYC, and I don't think anyone wrote that for him.

"...His preference for being willfully uninformed about the world does not play when when he has to speak and think on his feet..."

Conflating a preference to ignore the news telecasts with being willfully uninformed is itself a bias on your part that the newscasts are able to inform. "This is not an issue of political ideology but rather of one's understanding of the world." An assumption that the major media in the United States is able to inform without slant as opposed to propagandize IS an ideological position. I don't think the major media has a good understanding of the world.

I do not claim Bush is especially articulate, and never have. I also do not, as you admit you did, assume the worst about what he says.

And because you wrote these things I believe you are an ideologue.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
9.2.2005 4:29pm
akiva eisenberg (mail):
Could it be that Bush had a belief in the competence of the local authorities in NO? Could it be that he assumed at least a minimal level of personal responsibility?

There is a culture in NO that in modern culture is referenced as "whatever." The NO equivalent is subsumed in "The Big Easy." The results are plain for all to see.

Yes, Bush (and previous administrations) and the rest of the federal response can and should be faulted - for not declaring the governments of LA and NO incompetent and imposing federal law on the area long ago. On the other hand, there are many other municipal areas that would qualify for that treatment.

I do not know all the facts, nor can anybody yet. My gut instinct is that post-disaster analyses will uncover misfeasance and malfeasance at the local level of inconceivable proportion.

By the way, while this is primarily a tragedy of the poor - because NO is (was) a city of predominantly lower-income people, it is in no way purely, or even mainly, a tragedy of the Afro-American community. Enormous areas populated mainly by whites were also devastated. For whatever reason, that does not seem to show up in MSM coverage.
9.2.2005 4:53pm
Syd Henderson (mail):
The National Guard of each state is the state militia. They are under the authority of each state's governor. The president can't just go in and take over the LANG or the MING or the ALNG.
9.2.2005 4:56pm
Syd (mail):
Sorry, that wasn't supposed to post.

Yes he can take over. "The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States." It's not limited just to war. I think this qualifies as a national emergency.
9.2.2005 5:01pm
Justin Kee (mail):
Nothing like blaming the mayor of the city.....
9.2.2005 5:14pm
jallgor (mail):
My understanding of that clause is that the President is commander in chief of the National Guard only after they have been "called into the actual Service of the United States." I think this means that if the National Guard is mobilized to fight, in Iraq for example, they fall under the POTUS chain of command. In addition, I think the NG needs to be mobilized either by their own state or by Congress pursuant to clause that gives Congress the power "to provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions" I am certainly no expert on this stuff. Anyone else know more?
9.2.2005 5:22pm
Yule (mail):

Where did I say that he should watch "telecasts"? Where did I say that he should get all his news from the major media? You write, "An assumption that the major media in the United States is able to inform without slant as opposed to propagandize IS an ideological position. I don't think the major media has a good understanding of the world." Where did I say otherwise? I completely agree with what you are saying here. That's why people should get their news from multiple sources, not just their friends (or in this case advisers that share a very similar ideology). So given that your position seems to be that I'm an ideologue because I trust the major media is without slant, and I never said anything even resembling that (nor do I believe it in the slightest), I once again say you shouldn't engage in name calling without basis. Disagreeing with me is fine, but throwing out insults based on your guesses about someone's ideological background (guesses which, trust me, you are way off on here) just doesn't add anything to these discussions.
9.2.2005 6:55pm
Engineer-Poet (mail) (www):
It is incomprehensible that the situation in e.g. the NO Convention Center went on as long as it did.  Or the stranded tourists.  FEMA commandeered buses rented by the hotels to get the tourists out, and failed to make any other arrangements for them?  Not even filling the buses with MRE's and bottled water to sustain the people who could not be evacuated immediately?

Bush's picks for these offices are some of the most incompetent hacks I can imagine.  I heard Chertoff on NPR yesterday.  If the man has any shame at all, he may put a bullet in his own head soon.

I've seen a letter being circulated, demanding the immediate resignation of Bush and Cheney.  I am as opposed to MOVEON and its ilk as most everyone... and right now I would sign a petition put in front of me without hesitation.
9.2.2005 7:53pm
TDPerkins (mail):
Yule, you wrote:

"His preference for being willfully uninformed about the world does not play when when he has to speak and think on his feet."

And in response to my criticism of that you wrote:

"It is Bush himself who repeatedly states that he prefers to get his information from advisors and his wife rather than watching the news, etc. himself"

And then you wrote:

"Where did I say that he should watch "telecasts"? Where did I say that he should get all his news from the major media?"

If you can't figure it out, I'm done with you.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
9.2.2005 10:32pm
Splunge (mail):
Wow, I am certainly impressed with the general expertise among VC readers in the correct emergency management procedures when a city of half a million souls is suddenly inundated, all major roads into it are destroyed, the local government has folded up, the state government is having hysterics, the most capable of its citizens have fled, there's no running water or power, and all communications are gone because there's no electricity.

Now, I'd have thought that this was a damn difficult problem on the face of it, an unholy situation, something almost as overwhelming as a nuclear strike (and not really comparable to 9/11's attack on a single building in which no roads were compromised and all communications remained intact.) I'd have thought you'd need decades of experience in large-scale emergency management to be smart enough to second-guess the folks who are responding today, and figure out how they could have gotten X or Y to happen 12 hours sooner.

But I can see this is naive. Alas! If only I'd not wasted my time studying thermodynamics and chemistry, nor screwed around learning boring stuff like how to calculate the stress on a bridge from the water flow underneath it, and instead taken one or two law classes -- or, better yet, become a law professor! -- then I would find it easier to keep up with the high-octane critical thinking here. I, too, would find it obvious the "Something" the President (that fool) should have done yesterday or the day before to prevent all this human misery.

I am ashamed to admit that the few facts I do know about New Orleans leave me completely in the dark about what in hell anyone could have done to significantly improve this situation 6 or 12 hours faster. Oh, sure, I have theories -- but my lack of brilliant insight (or lack of training in the law, if that isn't a redundancy) compels me to the embarassing admission that I am quite unsure whether any of my theories would pan out in the real world.
9.3.2005 7:13am
Yule (mail):

Bad choice of verb on my part. As I don't have a TV, but do watch news clips from all over the internet, including sources major and not, it just didn't occur to me that "watching" the news would have to mean sitting down in front of ABC at dinner time. I'm a bit out of touch, I guess. But again, you called me an ideologue because of the my assumption that the major media is unbiased, not because you thought I refered to watching TV. Yet again, you have no answer and yet again you choose insult over intelligent discourse. Thanks for your contribution!
9.3.2005 10:09am
Tom Perkins (mail):
Yule, you wrote what you wrote. The first rule of holes is to stop digging when you're in one.

Yes you are an ideologue--you are free to call that an insult if you wish. You made silly, unsupported, and even irresponsible statements to the effect the at President was willfully ignorant because he didn't watch the news, and instead listened to his advisors. That is the usual construction to be made of the text you wrote, if you wrote poorly, that was your responsiblity.

If you get most of your news from the internet, then would you say you were watching or reading it?

As for his information sources, I believe a few months ago leftist commentators were shocked at the intellectually "deep" nature of his vacation reading material, and I doubt his advisors are substantially less erudite--your presumption that they are is further evidence you are an ideologue out to make and justify cheap shots at Pres. Bush.

As for your supposed points to which I did not respond, which were those?

If you mean your first post, I'll dismantle it here:

"Perhaps GWB should just stay quiet."

Why? Because you'd prefer him to give you more ammunition?

"This morning I heard him say (I think he actually said it yesterday) "No one anticipated that the levies would be breached." Pardon me? Every damn Discovery Channel special about severe weather, every news cast about a hurricane in the Gulf in the last 5 years at least, has talked about the levies around NO being vulnerable to even a category 2 or 3 storm."

As already diuscussed, what was in fact true is the it was a Cat 3 as NO experienced it, the levees were not known to have failed until after the storm passed, and the parts of the levees that failed was designed to withstand a Cat 3. A design or construction failure, and nothing that could be anticipated by Bush before hand.

"This seems like a small point (and in empirical terms it certainly is), but it seems indicative of a how much trouble GWB has sounding like a real leader when he's not just writing something that someone else wrote."

I've just shown what he said was reasonable at the time he said it.

"His preference for being willfully uninformed about the world does not play when when he has to speak and think on his feet."

We've already covered this in detail, it is the statement of an ideologue and not defensible, see the first rule of holes above.

"Rudy both had a great team and rose to the occasion personally. Bush lacks both the team and the personal qualities to inspire any confidence here."

Rudy had a vastly smaller issue to deal with and proportionally larger resources to do it with. It was also a terrorist attack on the country with which the federal government is intended to deal, where the feds have original jurisdiction so to speak. This gave the President and his team a much freer hand to organize things in a top down fashion, where in a natural disaster, the locals are supposed to be very plugged in and responding according to plan, making requests to which the feds respond, and here they turned themselves off, not plugging in at all. It's the locals who are supposed to be the governmental face in such a disaster, you'd do better asking why the Mayor and Governor weren't following the plan.

"This is, as Professor Kerr has pointed out, and issue of symbolism. And let's face it, Bush is not working as a symbol of confidence and competence right now."

As I mentioned above, it's not his job to be a leader on this, that's Nagin's and Blanco's job. Whatever failure's FEMA may have made, it's clear the problems started and have been magnified at every turn by local incompetency.

"I once again say you shouldn't engage in name calling without basis."

You are giving me the basis for it every time you post.

Tell you what, you think up some good reason why Bush should have ignored the laws which govern a natural disaster--litteraly breaking the law and giving such ideologues as you and Turgidson, and NCYer every legal basis for actually impeaching him--and why it is seems irrelevant to you that the locals just didn't do any part of their job, in some cases at all so far not without prompting. Let's make this a two way exchange. How satisfied are you with the locals performance? Why isn't the cause of people being stranded in NO first and foremost the problem for you to demand accountability for?

Thank you, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
9.4.2005 3:17pm
Tom Perkins (mail):
Until someone mentions something fundamentally new, this will be my last post on this topic:

These links can be found at

I hope no one will mistake the significance of what even the Democratic party organ called the Washington Post sees fit to write and quote.

First Article

"Other federal and state officials pointed to Louisiana's failure to measure up to national disaster response standards, noting that the federal plan advises state and local emergency managers not to expect federal aid for 72 to 96 hours, and base their own preparedness efforts on the need to be self-sufficient for at least that period. "Fundamentally the first breakdown occurred at the local level," said one state official who works with FEMA. 'Did the city have the situational awareness of what was going on within its borders? The answer was no.""

Second Article

"Behind the scenes, a power struggle emerged, as federal officials tried to wrest authority from Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D). Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans, a source within the state's emergency operations center said Saturday.
The administration sought unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. Some officials in the state suspected a political motive behind the request. "Quite frankly, if they'd been able to pull off taking it away from the locals, they then could have blamed everything on the locals," said the source, who does not have the authority to speak publicly."

And given the failure of the locals to follow the plan, I ask why it shouldn't be blamed on the locals, since as the first paragraph quoted shows, even as late as they have been moving, the feds have been doing pretty much what they said they could do before hand.


"Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday, three state and federal officials said. As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said.
"The federal government stands ready to work with state and local officials to secure New Orleans and the state of Louisiana," White House spokesman Dan Bartlett said. "The president will not let any form of bureaucracy get in the way of protecting the citizens of Louisiana."
Blanco made two moves Saturday that protected her independence from the federal government: She created a philanthropic fund for the state's victims and hired James Lee Witt, Federal Emergency Management Agency director in the Clinton administration, to advise her on the relief effort."

CYA Blanco, babies died of thirst and you and Nagin are CYA.

That's leadership.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
9.4.2005 3:49pm