The Electric Commentary

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

I leave for one weekend and look what happens.

William Rehnquist has died, and John Roberts has been nominated for Chief Justice.

Michael Brown is apparently incompetent.

Check out this quote from Meet the Press and Andrew Broussard (via Andrew Sullivan):

Let me give you just three quick examples. We had Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of water, trailer trucks of water. FEMA turned them back. They said we didn't need them. This was a week ago. FEMA--we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. The Coast Guard said, "Come get the fuel right away." When we got there with our trucks, they got a word. "FEMA says don't give you the fuel." Yesterday--yesterday--FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards on our line and says, "No one is getting near these lines." Sheriff Harry Lee said that if America--American government would have responded like Wal-Mart has responded, we wouldn't be in this crisis."

And this is just reprehensible. You have to read it all to believe it. Here is Brad DeLong's synopsis:

They were going to make a DVD. A DVD saying, "you all are on your own." They didn't even care enough to make the DVD before the hurricane season began.

No. New Orleans did not have a functioning government as of the summer of 2005. This is a catastrophic failure of local governance--much worse than FEMA's failures.

You would think that somebody--somewhere--would have called Washington and said, "You know, New Orleans doesn't have its act together enough to have a hurricane evacuation plan."

And that somebody, somewhere--in Washington or in Baton Rouge--would have cared.

And if you think that's bad:

The American Red Cross -- an exemplary voluntary disaster-relief organization with almost 125 years of experience -- was told by the National Guard and local authorities not to go to Katrina-devastated New Orleans.


Judging from the Red Cross's explanation (above), government apparently feared that the Red Cross would deliver relief with too much success. Why else would people choose not to leave a destroyed city, and even want to return to it?

So, government decided that letting people die was a better course than risking any success that the Red Cross would likely have at providing disaster relief.

Yesterday, E.J. Dionne wrote in the Washington Post that major disaster relief cannot be done without government. The truth is that, at the same time the government was proving itself to be utterly incompetent at providing disaster relief, it was doing what it does with unparalleled skill: f*&King things up.

But wait, it gets even worse!

According to this Knight-Ridder report, the Red Cross isn't alone among well-respected private relief organizations kept, by government, from saving lives in New Orleans. The Salvation Army was stopped from carrying out a planned rescue operation.


As federal officials tried to get some control over the deteriorating situation in New Orleans, chaos was being replaced with bureaucratic rules that inhibited private relief organizations' efforts.

"We've tried desperately to rescue 250 people trapped in a Salvation Army facility. They've been trapped in there since the flood came in. Many are on dialysis machines," said Maj. George Hood, national communications secretary for the relief organization.

"Yesterday we rented big fan boats to pull them out and the National Guard would not let us enter the city," he said. The reason: a new plan to evacuate the embattled city grid by grid - and the Salvation Army's facility didn't fall in the right grid that day, Hood said in a telephone interview from Jackson, Miss.

"No, it doesn't make sense," he said.

Simply stunning.

Meanwhile, Dan Drezner fears a presidential overreaction as a response to the president's previous underreaction. Seems plausible.

At least the Badgers won.

From the world of science, we have shrinking penises, brainwashed grasshoppers, and robotic space penguins.

Now, back to work.


  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:13 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:14 AM  

  • Wow. And here is another 'told ya so bitch slap for good measure.

    By Anonymous Rashid Muhammad, at 7:02 AM  

  • Good post Rashid. I'm actually not shocked, I'm sure there are several other instances out there where cities & states & fed are putting off preparations and hoping the worst doesn't happen.

    By Anonymous Scott H, at 2:30 PM  

  • Man, the incompetence is mind-boggling. It seems like every official screwed it up, from the mayor to the Governor, to the federal officials, and then to the president. The buck really does stop there. I think that by Wednesday morning, Bush should have wrote a check in the amount of his yearly salary to the Red cross, shut down the white house kitchen and pile all the usable food, sent ever single aid out in D.C. to buy as much water as possible, brought it to New Orleans on Air force one, while encouraging everyone with a boat within a 12 hour drive to come down and help. Meanwhile, he should have dropped any and all airborne units, (pull them out of Iraq if need be but there have to be some stateside), into the superdome within hours. Meanwhile he could have begged or ordered port-o-john companys and nutrigrain manufacturers to donate and deliver toilets and nurigrain bars themselves, I don't think they would say no, maybe it would be illegal, but he has time to be sued later. I know that sounds idealistic and chaotic in practice, but I don't know what the alternative would be. If ever there was a time to micromanage and take total control of a situation, that was it. No, it probably would not be as efficient as a real coordinated effort, but there was no real effort. Hell, he should have strapped on a bullet proof vest 50-cent style and stayed in the Superdome, if he got beat up, well, that is too bad, but being a leader means putting your life on the line sometimes, when things are that desperate. If you are going to land on an aircraft carrier, then you should be prepared to stay in the superdome until the last person is evacuated, even if it means filth, no sleep, and peril from the elements and the citizenry. In conclusion, I feel that is what Harrison Ford's Character in that movie where he was the President (Air Force One?) would have done.

    By Anonymous Phil, at 10:28 AM  

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