« Seeing Oil Spots | Main | A long-overdue recommendation »

September 01, 2005

Comments

Since he is from Louisiana, I'll give him a pass on the rhetoric: I don't get bent out of shape by what people say two days after large chunks of their home state have been destroyed.

Thanks for reminding me of this: I bore it in mind as I read. Currently I am still feeling numb and angry over the 'mandatory evacuation': what else should have been done is something that will doubtless be argued back and forth for years, but one thing I hope will be a legacy of this - when it becomes necessary to evacuate people from a disaster-site-going-to-happen, it's just not acceptable to rely on a Titanic-based model.

This Knight Ridder article is relevant.

So is this 2004 article on FEMA, via Kevin Drum.

How would one determine which errors are "beyond the normal range of human fallibility", and shouldn't even normal errors be criticized to avoid repeating them?

At one point there, you seem to have more other hands than a subway groper! Holy dialectics!

I'm really glad to see a thread open on this here, since most of the places I'd seen the political debate open up were hopelessly partisan one way or another. I'm not sure I'll be able to add to discussion here, but I'll surely follow it.

Well, to start with the controversy, I'll pose a question. How exactly should a democratic government go about prioritizing protections for "our most wonderful cities"?

Jackmormon, I never know about priorities, but something that really adds to a great city is lots of poets to sing its praises, and a nice little house for me and Mrs. R. in say Noe Valley would be a tiny budget item in case you've got any pull with the mayor of SF.

(4) It's probably bad form to criticize policy makers for not planning to completely mitigate a monster hurricane this year. Reasonable ex ante risk/benefit analysis would probably have placed equal likelihood on the event occuring in each of the next, say, 50 years, so it wouldn't have been rational to spend any more than a couple billion dollars or so each year on improved flood control and whatnot.

This is probably a moot point. I somehow doubt we have been spending anywhere near the efficient level.

(I am particularly curious about the seemingly inadequate National Guard, etc. response. From the reports I've seen, NOPD and local emergency response has been completely overwhelmed, unable to, e.g., both rescue stranded people AND stop the looting. Wikipedia says, "The initial call-up of guardsmen was affected by the deployment of some 35% of the Louisiana National Guard troops to Iraq, including equipment such as high-water Humvees that could prove useful in flooded areas.")

I don't get bent out of shape by what people say two days after large chunks of their home state have been destroyed.

That is true, but I was struck by the effort he put into searching out people saying things that he could get angry about.

I was also stuck by the fact that many travelers were stuck in NO when their flights were cancelled, apparently as many airlines cancelled flights because they would be flying in empty. I also understand the Greyhound bus service stopped well before the hurricane, trapping more people.

Furthermore, this was the first time that many hotels apparently did not offer help to residents, limiting themselves to only helping stranded travelers, though the practice may also smack of classism

Evacuating to hotels has become a controversial practice this hurricane season, as many hotel operators began to question whether they really wanted to be responsible for hundreds of guests without power and water for an extended period of time if the city flooded. Public safety officials decry the practice, but many locals love to avoid the traffic jams and spend the storm throwing back cocktails. And hotels long have viewed housing locals in a storm as a valiant community service.
link

I've also been thinking about (thanks to dr. ngo's comments) the Chinese notion of 'the judgement of Heaven', (this is dimly remembered from various readings) This is (I think) a Confucian notion that claims that a natural disaster heralds a change in government.

I also note that Mike Brown, director of FEMA, is getting raked over the coals on CNN. Some googling turns up his bio

"The initial call-up of guardsmen was affected by the deployment of some 35% of the Louisiana National Guard troops to Iraq, including equipment such as high-water Humvees that could prove.. "

Numbers

Tacitus has that pre-empted.

"It can, though, pursue a band of fanatical murderers to the ends of the earth, in implicit recognition that the deaths by their hands, unlike the deaths at the hands of the anthropomorphized Katrina, are something irretrievably foul, base, and -- murderous. God save those who would have a numbers game obscure that."

Every last one of those LA Nat Guard units and equipment were needed overseas to track something "irretrievably foul" to the ends of the earth, and "God save those" who would think otherwise.

Rilkefan,
Alas I have no pull in the region of my birth. And with housing costs there, I wonder how much pull any citizen could exercise. Now, if you were willing to consider Salt Lake or Nauvoo, I might be able to swing something...

At last, to bed.

"Gibbering yard apes"? Why do you consider that level of discourse worth linking to, hilzoy? What's next, your take on VDARE's latest?

Mistakes were not made, deliberate conscious decisions were made with inevitable consequences, i.e., not doing whatever it took to increase troop levels in 2002-03-04 so that the National Guard could remain at home to perform its function. Or to do the budgeting, in either tax increases or other budget cuts to insure fragile infrastructure was maintained. This was of choice, not necessity;of irresponsibility, not incompetence;of indifference, not ignorance.

This is directly comparable to whatever economic consequences may derive from the huge deficits; to call the unrestrained spending and insistence on tax cuts "mistakes" or "incompetence" is suicidally overgenerous. They may not know exactly what is coming; they are entirely responsible.

And after repeated patterns of such irresponsible decisions...from ignoring Clarke to Tora Bora to dissolving the Iraqi Army to the corruption of the reconstruction to not having any leverage in Iraq one must make judgements not of competence but of character. Who and what George Bush is is becoming obvious, and when the country has such a dangerous thing with its hands on the levers of power this should be the sole topic of discussion.

Many, many more will die.

Tacitus has that pre-empted.

Ugh. What utter nonsense.

There's always some uncertainty about the true costs and benefits, but if given a clear choice between spending the same amount of money to chase "Evil" around in the mountains of Afghanistan and save X lives, or to reinforce flood levees (or buy flu shots, or build sewer systems, or research stem cells...) and save 10*X lives, I know what my choice would be.

I guess I must not have Tacitus' moral clarity.

Every last one of those LA Nat Guard units and equipment were needed overseas to track something "irretrievably foul" to the ends of the earth, and "God save those" who would think otherwise.

I'm tempted to invoke something of "We had to burn the village in order to save it" here, the notion that saving lives is somehow less important than transmuting ourselves into agents of the divine, whether of purgation (the anonymous Vietnam quote above) or retribution (Tacitus' quote on Red State). The problem is that my mind balks at envisioning that kind of hubris; so all I'm left with is wonder at the nature of a morality that admits of such extremes as to render the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dead in New Orleans a worthy sacrifice. It's like watching an ethical dumbshow of the St Petersburg paradox and the dangers of infinite expectation.

"Why do you consider that level of discourse worth linking to, hilzoy?"

Obviously as a service to those who may not yet understand the nature of the opposition; who may not realize the response that will be forthcoming to any fair questions and criticism; and those who do yet recognize the physical danger they are in from people who repeatedly label their political opponents as less than human.

Do I respond in kind? I do, but "Who swung first and worse" is the appropriate question in arguments of self-defense.

People are dead;I think FEMA is a good idea, yet I do feel somewhat responsible. Gentle and genial policy disagreements appear futile and self-serving at this time, yet I am so far unable to alert my friends that a suspension of the rules might be in order. The rules are so warm and comforting.

liberal japonicus: That is true, but I was struck by the effort he put into searching out people saying things that he could get angry about.

Well, that is one way of reacting to being in a state of grief, shock, and pain. Anger is a great resource. I'm sorry to say that I know this from personal experience. It's no more helpful that a big shot of brandy is, but no less, either.

Jesurgislac, that's also a standard method of 'slime and defend'. Expect much more of that.

As for Josh Trevino, "It can, though, pursue a band of fanatical murderers to the ends of the earth, in implicit recognition that the deaths by their hands, unlike the deaths at the hands of the anthropomorphized Katrina, are something irretrievably foul, base, and -- murderous. God save those who would have a numbers game obscure that." is a flat-out lie. The vast majority of the NG/Reservists are in Iraq, not Afghanistan, and certainly not in Dafur.

I should add, before I meander off to bed, that there is a legitimate argument that's related to the one Tacitus made, namely that we needed to send those Guard units to Iraq in order to curtail the activities of people who would otherwise have killed as many people as died due to Katrina. [One can make a better, more refined statement of position, but I'm simply illustrating a point here.] It's a valid utilitarian argument, albeit a greater remove and one I don't agree with. To argue, however, that it's immaterial what life was lost because of the pursuit of this quixoticism -- excuse me, this most noble of causes, whatever the heck that might happen to be this week -- is a completely different kettle o' fish, and (I think) the subject of most of the scorn here.

Barry: Jesurgislac, that's also a standard method of 'slime and defend'. Expect much more of that.

Oh, I do. Amanda at Pandagon nailed it. We're going to hear that the people who didn't leave for the most part chose not to go: we won't hear that there was no way for anyone without a car to leave. We'll hear that one reason people who didn't go stayed behind was so that they could loot. (Rumsfeld will probably not claim that "Freedom is messy", however.) We'll hear that the money that was diverted to Iraq from the levees was well-spent, because look, the levees broke anyway! And I doubt that anyone will ask IEM what went wrong - or inquire what contracts Halliburton has been awarded to rebuild.

But I'm with Hilzoy: for the next few days, anyone living in/near the disaster zone gets a free pass on overblown angry rhetoric.

I should add, before I meander off to bed, that there is a legitimate argument that's related to the one Tacitus made, namely that we needed to send those Guard units to Iraq in order to curtail the activities of people who would otherwise have killed as many people as died due to Katrina

There is no such legitimate argument.

Jesurgislac: "But I'm with Hilzoy: for the next few days, anyone living in/near the disaster zone gets a free pass on overblown angry rhetoric."

I would be also, except that that free pass will be heavily abused, on behalf of people who are at least partially to blame.

We're going to hear that the people who didn't leave for the most part chose not to go: we won't hear that there was no way for anyone without a car to leave.

While there were in fact people who chose not to evacuate, I wouldn't expect the argument that everyone didn't evacuate chose to stay. Then again, no one expects...

Slarti:

It was mentioned in the comments of that particular entry that the locals shown on the news tended to be the blustery type — “Evacuation be damned! I’m going to stick it out!” It’s easy to put these people on TV, because they make for good soundbytes — and they make it easier for the masses to care less when they get killed. Why, they practically asked for it! Darwin’s system is at work, and those too stupid to escape got what was coming to ‘em.

But the truth is this: people with no resources and no possibility of evacuation would rather look stubborn and angry than helpless and trapped. There is dignity in the appearance of willfullness, and in obstinate defiance of authority. It saves face to say, “Screw you all! I don’t want to leave and you can’t make me!” rather than to admit the truth, which is that they couldn’t go even if they wanted to.

Whoops. The above quote is from Cherie Priest's blog.

Barry: I would be also, except that that free pass will be heavily abused, on behalf of people who are at least partially to blame.

Oh, we don't have to agree with them. We can accept that they've got good reason to be grieving, angry, shocked, and mad as hell, without actually agreeing with or supporting their choice of targets.

Good post, Hilzoy.

One salient point made by Thomas, I think, and some commenters on the thread is why can't local and state residents tax themselves to rebuild the levees, etc. and stop relying on the Federal government.

This is, of course, a multi-dimensional problem, with bi-partisan subtleties and in New Orleans' case, full of historical precedent. I mean, it could be argued that New Orleans is a gigantic festering puddle of moral hazard and that rational people would never have built there, if not for everyone else picking up the tab. Probably true. Also true about Israel, oddly enough. Thing is, I like Mardi Gras and Yom Kippur. It's my reward for subsidization. One place has too much water and the other has none. We should only build where the water table is just right. That would be ... ?

But, my answer to this tax question is that the anti-tax crusade run so ferociously by Grover Norquist and the Club for Growth (merely the militant arms of the wider Republican Party's crusade) is not just a national campaign, it has its chapters at the state, county, schoolboard levels, too, right down to the smallest unit of government.

This is a bi-partisan problem; the anti-tax crusade has been so successful that any ballot-measure to raise money to rebuild levees would have been demagogued and defeated successfully in the city of New Orleans and surrounding parishes.

It's easy to demagogue taxes because nobody likes them, except for me, and I only like them because it tickles me to see the veins stick out on the necks of the sputtering tax-haters.

The Democratic Party, particularly in the South, has been completely intimidated on the tax issue for which they should be roundly and viciously condemned, he said, rending his bi-partisan clothing. They watched Republican Governor Riley get his n--- handed to him on HIS tax proposals -- and even God liked that tax hike.

So, I'm in downtown Denver about a month ago, and we are currently gearing up for a ballot issue to make some mild changes to the Tabor Amendment which strangles government, especially during bad times, you know, the very times for which government was created. There are pro-tax folks on the sidewalk and a few feet over there are anti-tax folks.

I give a thumbs up to the pro- people and then I notice that the anti-tax people (all equally and fully human despite recent evidence of a 99% genetic link to chimpanzees) have a sign claiming heroically that one of the Amendments -- C -- stands for "Communist", because it will let the State keep a little more money rather than refunding it constantly. These anti- folks were from the Independence Institute, funded by Coors, Norquist's organizational web, and
Club for Growth.

No thumbs up for them; I engaged them in civil discourse with another finger. After all, when a simple ballot measure is deemed Communist, there's only one way the discussion can go. Somebody kicked my fender, and being an unarmed liberal, I spared the guys' life.

Credit where credit is due, however. Republican Governor Bill Owens, whose tax-hating creds are impeccable, is campaigning to loosen the Tabor Amendment to ease the State's fiscal crisis. Like me, he is a fully human, pragmatic chimpanzee, who should have a very fine career in the private sector after Norquist and his goons in the Colorado State House get done with him.

"Many are concerned that federal disaster assistance may have evolved into both an oversized entitlement program and a disincentive to effective state and local risk management," he said. "Expectations of when the federal government should be involved and the degree of involvement may have ballooned beyond what is an appropriate level." ...The FEMA article, at Drum's, as linked by Katherine

Understand clearly now, that to the degree that private charity mitigates the suffering,
it will be seen as a vindication of this right-wing ideology, and a justification for further cuts and elimination of Federal disaster services. Any protests that it was not the intention to enable the callous and uncaring will go unheard, and mitigation and prevention will lose more funding. And people in the future will die.

Whereas a giant unalleviated crisis on national tv might draw the nation's attention to the debate. I am sure most Americans believe in insurance, and pooling risk in anticipation of the unexpected. These Americans may not be aware that the people in charge of this country would prefer to withdraw their own money from the pool, and leave those of modest means on their own. The debate should be as public as possible, but will have no force or immediacy if the victims of Katrina become invisible.

And, of course, as Thullen said yesterday, the debate is directly pertinent to Social Security, Medicare, etc. They are deliberately trying to destroy the safety net, and it will be destroyed unless its necessity is demonstrated.

"We're going to hear that the people who didn't leave for the most part chose not to go: we won't hear that there was no way for anyone without a car to leave."

Hmm, my closet friend at work is from New Orleans and knows people who stayed. They weren't all poor, they were proud. His aunt's house was completely destroyed (by falling trees, not water) though she was at a sister's house elsewhere. I don't know what percentage of those who stayed could not have left, but to discount the idea that many who stayed really did choose to stay is to misunderstand the hard-headed nature of many Americans. (Not to mention Americans from Louisiana).

Sebastian: I don't know what percentage of those who stayed could not have left, but to discount the idea that many who stayed really did choose to stay is to misunderstand the hard-headed nature of many Americans.

To discount the idea that many who stayed stayed because they could not have left is to misunderstand exactly how poor most of the people were who stayed.

White per capita income in Orleans parish, 2000 census: $31,971. Black per capita: $11,332. Median *household* income in B.W. Cooper (Calliope) Housing Projects, 2000: $13,263. cite

One Southern writer summarises it with chilling precision: They stayed because they could not run, and now they might die because they cannot swim.
How many of your friend's friends have a total household income of around $13,263 per year, Sebastian?

This is a question I've wrestled with for years on a personal level, since I have a highly variable set of chronic health problems and so do a lot of other people I happen to know and associate with. The question "How much slack do you grant them for the rough spot?" can be individual as well as big collective like now.

It seems to me that there's one particular category of outburst that I'm least likely to cut slack for: the angry tirade consisting of precisely the same vile points that the person likes to make all the time, and has good reason to know are unacceptable then as now. If Uncle Willamettey is prone, for instance, to white-power diatribes, and wants to use his fibromyalgia to justify this particular one, that's not very okay with me. If Aunt Berubia is normally very decent and kind but has a moment of anger that leads to a racist outburst when she gets in a tangle while having a sudden down swing thanks to a misadjusted dosage for one of her medications, that's what I cut slack for. I say "Let's get you home and safe now, and we can talk about it more after you rest up." And then often we don't, or we do only for her to say "Oh no, that was awful of me, I'm sorry" and me to say "I knew you would see it that way when you recovered."

Basically, the more it actually is shock, pain, and grief speaking for a moment, the more I forgive. The more that it's just a cover for recurring bad behavior, the less I forgive.

Similarly, the idea that because someone doesn't have a car, they cannot hitch a ride with, say, a friend or neighbor, is not worthy of regard. So, we have sets of extremes that ought not to be inhabited by anyone reasonable (except as supported by loads of data, which so far haven't made an appearance):

1) Everyone who stayed was stupid and/or stubborn.

2) Everyone who stayed could not find transportation.

And given the true dearth of data, even occupying a specific place in the middle ground seems untenable. It's probably safe to say that some people stayed because they couldn't evacuate, while other stayed because they wouldn't.

Consider this my entire avoidance-of-a-position for the day; I don't have time for anything more elaborate than this.

What strikes me is, "what if it had been a small nuke hitting N.O. instead of a hurricane?" Or, hell, someone in the al-Qaeda fan club dynamiting a levee or two?

Isn't that what we've been preparing for since 9/11? It would present many similar problems: evacuees, food water shelter, etc.

What have we been doing to prepare for a major attack on a city? Nothing, evidently.

This is a question I've wrestled with for years on a personal level, since I have a highly variable set of chronic health problems and so do a lot of other people I happen to know and associate with. The question "How much slack do you grant them for the rough spot?" can be individual as well as big collective like now.

It seems to me that there's one particular category of outburst that I'm least likely to cut slack for: the angry tirade consisting of precisely the same vile points that the person likes to make all the time, and has good reason to know are unacceptable then as now. If Uncle Willamettey is prone, for instance, to white-power diatribes, and wants to use his fibromyalgia to justify this particular one, that's not very okay with me. If Aunt Berubia is normally very decent and kind but has a moment of anger that leads to a racist outburst when she gets in a tangle while having a sudden down swing thanks to a misadjusted dosage for one of her medications, that's what I cut slack for. I say "Let's get you home and safe now, and we can talk about it more after you rest up." And then often we don't, or we do only for her to say "Oh no, that was awful of me, I'm sorry" and me to say "I knew you would see it that way when you recovered."

Basically, the more it actually is shock, pain, and grief speaking for a moment, the more I forgive. The more that it's just a cover for recurring bad behavior, the less I forgive.

Slarti: Similarly, the idea that because someone doesn't have a car, they cannot hitch a ride with, say, a friend or neighbor, is not worthy of regard.

(cite):
-10,000 people left behind in 9 city hospitals. Should they have hitched a ride?
-7,600 prison inmates left behind. Is this really excusable? They surely can't be accused of "choosing to stay".
-Between 30-80 thousand other people left behind.
I'd say there were an awful lot of neighborhoods where there just weren't friends/neighbors with cars you could hitch a ride with.
How many families can be squeezed into one car, in your experience, Slarti?

Sorry for the double post. I'm trying out Opera and not reading all of its cues right yet.

"How many of your friend's friends have a total household income of around $13,263 per year, Sebastian?"

Considering some don't work at all (and not because they are rich), quite a few. And that doesn't even answer the question since I have no idea if the rich ones stayed and the poor ones left. I'm not sure if I'll ask him. Doesn't seem like a natural way to work that into my conversations with him.

But since we aren't talking about hundreds of thousands of deaths, or even tens of thousands--in a situation where most of a city of more than 400,000 is much closer to wiped off the map than I ever thought I would see outside of a nuclear blast--it is readily apparent that even the average poor person got out of New Orleans so links to genocide of poor people are just ridiculous.

And your most recent link doesn't prove what you apparently think it does. Of course everyone wants to get out NOW. Even rich people who foolishly stayed. And of course they will both rich and poor. The question if you approaching it from this intentional genocide angle, is how many of them tried to get out at the time?

And, given that a so-called "mandatory evacuation" was ordered, why didn't city and state authorities, using emergency powers, commandeer a number of school buses and/or Greyhounds, take them into neighborhoods where they knew people without means were likely to be found, and bloody well evacuate them? Mandatory means mandatory, for heaven's sake, and if you're going to order it, you need to be prepared to help those who are unprepared.

Ohh, partial retraction, the intentional genocide link wasn't the one Jesurgislac linked to, it was somewhere I got to right after that. My bad.

How many families can be squeezed into one car, in your experience, Slarti?

Clown families: a lot. Other families: not so many.

If it's your contention that I've said everyone that stayed, stayed by choice, better go back and read, this time with comprehension.

But since we aren't talking about hundreds of thousands of deaths, or even tens of thousands--

I hope you're right. I hope the scale of casualties remains in the thousands rather than the tens of thousands, but right now doesn't seem to be the time to be optimistic without data. The death toll of Katrina so far is in the thousands, but it will take weeks before accurate numbers are known: for obvious reasons, right now everyone's focussing on getting out the living rather than enumerating the dead.

In any case, the point I wanted to make (to Slarti, rather than to you) was:

Everyone who wanted to get out should have been able to do so. This was certainly not the case. That being so, pointing at the survivors and asserting that you know some of them chose to stay is... well, we'll call it unhelpful, shall we?

Slarti: If it's your contention that I've said everyone that stayed, stayed by choice, better go back and read, this time with comprehension.

Ah, you were being intentionally ambiguous again. My bad. Okay.

Ah, you were being intentionally ambiguous again.

Actually, I was being very explicitly unambiguous about that folks should avoid being unambiguous without being equipped with proper data. Looks as if I failed to properly convey the warning, though.

I didn't find Slart's comment particularly ambiguous. He's reacting as I do to a "debate" that seems to consist of the following:

"Some people stayed because they couldn't get out!"

"Oh yeah? Well, some people stayed because they wanted to!"

I think Slart's saying that maybe it's a floor wax and a dessert topping.

Phil: Mandatory means mandatory, for heaven's sake, and if you're going to order it, you need to be prepared to help those who are unprepared.

*nods* This is what drives me nuts about "they chose to stay". As Slarti says, though it appears he misunderstood my response to it, some people may actually have chosen to stay. Others, unable to get out, may have claimed they chose to stay. But it's certain that, if you didn't have a car and didn't have $300+ disposable money, you couldn't get out.

The only function that assertion fulfils (that some/most/all of those who stayed, stayed because they wanted to, not because they couldn't leave) is as a defence mechanism for the heart: if they chose to stay, it's no one's fault they drowned, and no American needs to look at the bodies floating in the bowl of poisoned water in New Orleans and think: that was our Titanic.

I can't give him a pass on this.

I no longer see the Left as a set of political opponents. I understand them now to be what they are: An uncompromising, barely human mass of malignancy, that exists only to be crushed electorally and culturally once and for all. Or, as a wiser man than I put it, The Evil Party.

It's eliminationist rhetoric and it needs to stop.

It's eliminationist rhetoric and it needs to stop.

Yeah, this Thomas fellow wrote more or less like that *before* Katrina, so pardon me if I spare him my sympathy. He's just not veiling his wish to see me dead or in Gitmo quite so much as usual.

I mean, when you're writing stuff that is indistinguishable from Nazi rhetoric, that should be a sign to you. Sort of a corollary of Godwin's Law.

Jes--

In this case, I don't find Slartibartfast's statement ambiguous.

"Similarly, the idea that because someone doesn't have a car, they cannot hitch a ride with, say, a friend or neighbor, is not worthy of regard."

If you lean on the "because", then I find the statement unambiguous. It simply says that, whatever caused these people to be unable to hitch a ride, it was not simply the mere and unadorned fact of carlessness.

That is, the suggestion that mere fact of one's own carlessness, all by itself, presents a bar to hitching, is absurd, as Slartibartfast says. Someone would have the cited idea, only if they thought that a person's carlessness *caused* them to suffer a blanket inability to hitch, and that would surely be a strange idea to have.

So I'm very glad that Slartibartfast steered all of us away from thinking that carlessness, in the absence of any other factors, *causes* an inability to hitch rides.

I don't know that anyone ever thought this, or that it would have come up in any discussions of the case, but it certainly is a thought that is not worthy of regard. And Slartibartfast expressed it unambiguously, provided that we really lean on the "because".

Of course, if you *don't* lean on the "because" as I have done, then it sounds more like:

"Similarly, the idea that someone who doesn't have a car cannot hitch a ride with, say, a friend or neighbor, is not worthy of regard. "

If he had said that, then I would disagree. But Slartibartfast did not say that.

So, having set aside one idea that is not worthy of regard, now we can perhaps turn to other ideas.

What were the causal factors that prevented some of the carless from hitching? Surely personal choice in some cases. Perhaps, in other cases, it was the fact (not of their own carlessness, but) that no one around them had a car. Perhaps in some instances it was the fact that rides were being sold for money they didn't have.

Perhaps, in fact, a wide range of socio-economic factors made it impossible for many people who lacked cars to hitch a ride with a friend or neighbor.

But whatever caused them to be unable to hitch, it was not simply and only *because* they lacked a car. That idea would not be worthy of regard.

Thanks for that, Tad. You are the wind beneath my...uh, wings, I guess.

Slart? Before thanking Tad, I'd reread his comment looking for signs that it might be dripping with something (seven letters, starting with an 's' and ending with an 'm'.)

Tad, as I said earlier: given the sheer numbers of people who could not get out and whose "choice" was therefore to stay at home or try to get into the Superdome, I find it singularly unhelpful (though doubtless soothing to people's hearts) to protest that some of those who didn't get out could have done, no problem, but chose to stay because they are "hardheaded Americans".

Where no mass evacuation using public transportation was organised, and where Greyhound and Amtrak closed down, airlines refusing to fly empty planes in so that they could pick up people who wanted to get out... what, precisely, is the point of asserting that among all the people who had no choice but to stay, there may be some who stayed out of choice?

Well, I see the point - or I see a point: it makes people feel better in an effortless kind of way about the thousands drowned.

And if it will end this topic forever, I'm quite willing to acknowledge that if you don't have a car but you know someone who does, you can hitch a lift. Unless, of course, that someone packed their family into their car already and got out of the city. In which case, your ability to hitch a ride suddenly becomes meaningless, doesn't it?

LB, I meant the thanks in exactly the same spirit that Tad wrote his last post. Maybe I wasn't dripping nearly enough.

I address this next especially to the highly sensitive Left, most of whom have never been to Louisiana, and think of it as That state where Mississippi Burning happened, or maybe it was In the Heat of the Night?

What a jacklegged fool. The longer I stare at this sentence the dumber it looks. Thomas would undoubtedly regard me as a member of his hypostasized "Left" and I've not only lived in New Orleans, but I have family in D'Iberville who lost nearly everything in this storm. Thousands are living in filth while this boy sits at his computer and rages at imaginary enemies. I blame assburgers.

LB--

I'm sure both my original post and Slartibartfast's thanks were meant in the same spirit, which involved no sorghum, spagnum, stick 'em, or any other drippy products.

Yeah, this Thomas fellow wrote more or less like that *before* Katrina, so pardon me if I spare him my sympathy. He's just not veiling his wish to see me dead or in Gitmo quite so much as usual.

I have to say...I found his post shocking for it's hate. I mean what, at this time of true disaster, could be the motivation for such words.

Especially if he is, as was mentioned, from Louisiana.

Biting the hand that helps, I guess.

[MegaSnark] Well, look who Mr. Compassionate Conservative is running to for help again in the midst of a humanitarian crisis: His daddy and his predecessor. It's like he's trying to tell us something.[/MegaSnark]

From the comment section of Kevin Drum:

This afternoon Blitzer had the guy from LSU on whose team has been computer modeling this disaster. So far, the guy said that their modeling has been right on. He said that the model predicts that one third of the some 250,000 people who stayed in New Orleans were killed.

Good lord. Even if a fraction of that.

Well, look who Mr. Compassionate Conservative is running to for help again in the midst of a humanitarian crisis: His daddy and his predecessor. It's like he's trying to tell us something.

"In time of trouble, turn to real presidents." Yep, I heard that loud & clear.

And I'm sure that the federal response would be even worse if John Kerry had been elected. Didn't he say he wanted to deal with hurricanes as if they were mere natural events, and not acts of God? Just like a Democrat.

So, having set aside one idea that is not worthy of regard, now we can perhaps turn to other ideas.

Thank you, Tad Brennan, for your persistent efforts to steer these conversations away from unending cycles of... I don't know what to call it - argument for argument's sake?

Bush states

"I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."

Sounds just so much like Condi's classic:

"I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile - a hijacked airplane as a missile."

In each case, it was widely known among experts. In each case, they were on vacation.

This has never been an administration. They have never been interested in governance--the hard work of keeping a country in good health.

It has been an organized asset-stripping operation. They got into control, and began systematically siphoning off funds for their own interests--whether to enrich their friends, or to settle their personal vendettas.

They are leaving the country in ruins--trillions of dollars poorer, our world-wide reputation sullied and besmirched, our infrastructure artificially bulked up with pork in some districts, atrophied by neglect in the poor and Democratic ones.

No wonder they have a soft spot for looters.

I can't let this one slide.

Sebastian: But since we aren't talking about hundreds of thousands of deaths, or even tens of thousands--in a situation where most of a city of more than 400,000 is much closer to wiped off the map than I ever thought I would see outside of a nuclear blast--it is readily apparent that even the average poor person got out of New Orleans so links to genocide of poor people are just ridiculous.

My aren't we smug. Look, we are talking about thousands of deaths, quite possibly in the low 5 digits. It's going to take many days to get an accurate estimate. The scale of this disaster is staggering.

Oh, and those 25,000 people who ended up at the Superdome - I'm pretty sure that a lot of them would have left town if they could. In addition, CNN is reporting, on Thursday morning mind you, that tens of thousands of people are still seeking evacuation, beyond those that were already at the Superdome :

"It's no longer just evacuees from the Superdome, as citizens who were holed up in high-rise office buildings and hotels saw buses moving into the dome, they realized this is an evacuation point," Lt. Col. Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard said.

He estimated between 50,000 and 60,000 people were seeking evacuation.

Look, I agree with Slarti that there's no way to judge how many people stayed out of choice rather than necessity. But the fact is that over 100,000 people didn't get out before the storm and are now facing serious health and safety issues.

re the Redstate thread: wow there's a lot of hate over there.

Now, it seems to me that the politicization of everything on a 24/7 basis really took off during the Clinton admin, that a lot of what goes on now is largely payback, and therefore that a lot of the vileness directed toward the "Left" by Redstate is, in some cosmic sense, unfair.

i'm willing to be proved wrong, though. So, conservatives, what were the liberal equivalents of Rush "feminazi" Limbaugh during Bush I and Reagan?

unending cycles of... I don't know what to call it - argument for argument's sake?

Lord, yes. It's a classic pattern.

A: [Statement.]
B: Aha, [statement] can be construed as [horrible/stupid thing to say].
A: But I didn't mean that.
B: Well, you said that.
A: No, I didn't. Or at least I didn't mean to.
B: But you have to admit that [statement] can be construed to mean [horrible/stupid thing to say].
A: Whatever.
B: Ah, so you *don't care* about ....

Interpretive charity, please!

"The critical thing was to get people out of there before the disaster," he said on NBC's "Today" program. "Some people chose not to obey that order. That was a mistake on their part."

-Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff

Now that is leadership. I feel ill.

TV Coverage is all looting, all the time. Pictures very bad for Republican politicians. Too disorderly in NO, well violent, to do the evacuation. Private busdrivers and helipilots refusing to work in a free-fire zone. Simply not enough security forces soon enough.

Reporters told not to eat or drink on the street, could cause a riot. Networks have called for private security, but they needn't bother. The cameras will be moved out fairly soon as the cleaners move in. Evacuation will proceed smoothly when we can stack em like cordwood. Nobody will be doing autopsies.

Seb, if you would give me the name of your friends who stayed, I would be happy to scan the pages that I've been looking at (primarily the nola.com site and the hurricanekatrinasurvivors.com. cnn.com has also started a survivors page)

I'm really glad Tad has tried to move us away from the no car meme. I'm not sure where people would have gone had they had a car, and if you are living from paycheck to paycheck, with the beginning of the month being payday, it's hard to imagine packing up and going away just before payday to spend whatever savings you have, especially given the uncertainty with hurricanes. Also, it wasn't the hurricane itself that is causing so many problems, it was the failure of the levees. Given that the levees have never failed to this extent before, it is hard to imagine a calculus that would have gotten people to leave without providing them both means and a landing spot. The areas that were most dangerous are the lowest income neighborhoods and more than 25% of the people in New Orleans live below the poverty line. When I flew down to see my parents the week before last, I was really shocked to see how East New Orleans (which is now submerged, and it is impossible to leave towards the East because the I-10 bridge is gone and this is probably why we don't hear of Florida offering to take anyone, because there is no way to get them over there) had really declined. The Ninth Ward, which is next to Lake Ponchartrain, is also a low income area and it is completely submerged. A previous proposal to conduct a second set of levees that would have protected the Central Business District and the major hospitals floundered because it basically offered up the lower class neighborhoods as a way to deal with flooding. Unfortunately, there are a lot of social/racial/class faultlines in New Orleans and they are being exposed.

I would like to say that there are not similar problems in Mississippi, but this article about NBC hiring private security for teams in Gulfport suggests that I am optimistic. Many of those who have relocated to the coast have come there for jobs in the gaming industry, with few ties to the region, and probably absent the safety net that long time residents have, which I would think would be a factor in this kind of behavior.

cnn has just said that FEMA has suspended all rescue operations.

Anderson--

"Interpretive charity, please!"

Bravo, seconded, and hear hear.

But charity on the uptake end is only half the game--it is also important for people to strive for clarity on the expression end. *Some* of the impasses are caused by uncharitable reading. *Some* are caused by unnecessarily obscure writing.

I think it's Pope who says to an aristocratic amateur author "you write with ease, to show your breeding/but easy writing is curst hard reading". Taking less effort on the typing end means off-loading more effort onto the reading end. And it is never wise to force your readers to be charitable too often.

So: "Intepretive charity, please! Expressive clarity, please!"

"Intepretive charity, please! Expressive clarity, please!"

I like this as a motto.

Now, if we could just get some frickin' sharks with laser beams attached to their heads, everything would be groovy.

I realized there's a bright side to all this: At least Thomas called you human filth.

"Similarly, the idea that because someone doesn't have a car, they cannot hitch a ride with, say, a friend or neighbor, is not worthy of regard."

It's not worthy to regard such facts as that it's perfectly likely to be poor and urban and have only a handful of friends and family with cars, and to find that they're all full or gone or unavailable?

I know only one person here in town I might think it reasonably possible I could get a ride with out of town, and if her car were full of her possessions, or broken or gone, odds are extremly high I'd find that the couple of other acquaintances I have with cars were full or gone or I couldn't reach them. Odds are very high that I'd have no way to evacuate from here in similar circumstances. (And if I did, I'd be doing it with about $20 in toto, and a small bag of clothing [and possibly a pulled hard drive or two].)

I don't find it comforting that you regard this idea, this fact of my life, that I'd likely not be able to get out in a "mandatory evacuation" as "not worthy of regard."

This was, perhaps, an unfortunate choice of phrase.

Every other phrase out of Scotty at the gaggle:"We pre-positioned FEMA assets."

From the CT comments

The other thing may be that people we consider rich are actually poor.
Fats Domino hasn’t been heard from since Monday.
Allen Toussaint (Allen Toussaint!) is stuck in the Superdome, waiting for a bus.

I wonder how many other people in my cd collection are there.

Anderson: Yeah, this Thomas fellow wrote more or less like that *before* Katrina, so pardon me if I spare him my sympathy. He's just not veiling his wish to see me dead or in Gitmo quite so much as usual.

Thomas is a hatemonger, through and through, and a crass one at that. I found his admonishment for "peeing on a grave" particularly ironic in light of this diary he posted on the occasion of Arthur Miller's death. He is perfectly happy to pee on others' graves, and he is perfectly happy to politicize death when it suits his agenda.

He sources his animus for all things liberal to Erick Erickson's inexcusable treatment at the hands of a few miscreants. Now, I know for a fact that Thomas followed the Terri Schiavo circus very closely. He is one of RedState's most outspoken culture warriors, after all, and he commented on pretty much every Schiavo thread I read on that site. I find the idea that he was unaware that Michael Schiavo and his family received quite a lot of threats incredible. Yet he considers this phenomenon peculiar to the left?

And here we can see Erick dancing a jig now that Katrina has, in their view, blown Cindy Sheehan off the media's radar. But of course, to Thomas, it is those who ask why so many lives had to be lost who are politicizing this tragedy.

I stopped cutting Thomas any slack sometime after he demonstrated that children are fair game in a political fight, or was it after he proved himself incapable of argument without personally attacking his opponent? At this point, I can't recall. His oeuvre is such a swirling cesspool of incoherent, abusive filth that it is hard to pick out just where he revealed himself for what he truly is.

Bob's gagging at the gaggle should be exacerbated by this

For example, in the 1990s, in planning for a New Orleans nightmare scenario, the federal government figured it would pre-deploy nearby ships with pumps to remove water from the below-sea-level city and have hospital ships nearby, said James Lee Witt, who was FEMA director under President Clinton.

Federal officials said a hospital ship would leave from Baltimore on Friday.

The whole article is replete with autonomic reflex moments.

Some people chose not to obey that order. That was a mistake on their part

Why do I think that the usual suspects are going to excuse this disgusting statement based on the qualifier "some"...

This is a quote from Bush on Good Morning America this morning:

"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm. But these levees got breached. And as a result, much of New Orleans is flooded. And now we are having to deal with it and will."

It's so unbelievable that I'd dismiss it as a misstatement, except that they acted like they really did not anticipate it.

A few weeks ago, I posited the question why neoconservative pundits and supporters should be allowed back into polite society. I think this can question can now be extended to the Thomas's and Erick's of RedState.

If you go to RedState right now, it's simply a litany of excuse making, topped with the cherry of smug self-righteousness. A pathetic spectacle, if ever there was one.

For example, The Un-Missing National Guard, which focuses solely on the LNG ability regarding "fixing the levees", ignoring the more pressing problem of simply re-establishing the rule of law.

And that's one of the nicer stories.

Good Lord.

I wonder if Thomas thinks Leftist parents love their children?

I wonder if Thomas thinks Leftist parents love their children?

Silly McDuff! We're too busy sodomizing each other to have children! What do you think we are, breeders or something?

Deploring idiocy on RedState is, in my opinion, not unlike deploring nudity in a strip club.

To be sure, most of the people in any given strip club are clothed. They're just there for the entertainment value of seeing the nude people. OK, not even all of the clothed people are doing that: some are there supporting their friends who are getting married, sheepishly going along with a modestly degrading but generally harmless bit of embarrassment. Others are there just trying to make a living. Still others show up from time to time to deplore the whole thing, and maybe try to evangelize the strippers a little.

Based on very infrequent reading, I'm sure that a great many of the RedState people -- posters and commenters -- are not consumed with hate. It seems undeniable to me, though, that there is just enough tolerance of hate in that community, that posts like that of Thomas are within the Pale, if not the mainstream. In my view, this tolerance significantly impairs the site's ability to reach its true potential, but I have no doubt at all that my views on this subject are neither welcome nor sought.

I am fair and reasonable.
You have an understandable bias.
He is just being political.

But as a wiser fool than I might have said, "Political is as political does."

Granted, wmr. Calling people 'filth' hardly fits into any of those three categories.

OT, but I'm more annoyed right now by http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/08/31/abu.ghraib.photos.ap/index.html>this. Hey, I'm all for avoiding injury to our troops, when it can be done in a manner consistent with democratic governance. So I have a porposal to make: the Court should appoint a special master to write a very detailed description of each and every photograph, and video. Then the President signs it, with a statement saying 'We did this. And it's bad. And I ask that no one who works for me, or supports me, offer any excuses for this." I'd accept that in lieu of release.

CharleyCarp: Deploring idiocy on RedState is, in my opinion, not unlike deploring nudity in a strip club.

But, unlike nudity, idiocy is to be deplored wherever it is found.

Other than that, I am in complete agreement with your comment.

Tacitus wanted to make Redstate a more elevated and popular dKos for the right. Unfortunately he may have done all to well in the emulation.

Unfortunately he may have done all to well in the emulation.

I freely admit I avoid dKos comments like the plague, but are there any comparable examples from Kos? Because at some point it's no longer "emulation", it's "pioneering"...

Anarch--

Classically, "emulate" included the idea of not simply imitating, but excelling or exceeding the original. Seems like it's pretty easy for Red Staters to be excessive.

CharleyCarp--

Calling people 'filth' hardly fits into any of those three categories.

Too soon to tell. If later we hear a call to, ummm, "take out the garbage", it becomes political retroactively.

"Bush states

"I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees.""

Wow. Is that actually a quote?

Re: RedState, I unsubscribed from the feed yesterday. The only recent value I've found was the excellent Horserace Blogger, who seems to have left, and Tacitus' less righteous and embittered side, which is also incommunicado.

"is that actually a quote?"

Yup. On Good Morning America. Right around 7:05a.m.

Follow the link up top.

Compare what was forseen with "I don't think anyone anticipated."

"foreseen," that is.

For the record: when I said I'd give Thomas a pass on the rhetoric, I meant him, not the rhetoric itself, which is of course wrong. (Chalk my attitude up to one too many accounts of people at funerals criticizing the bereaved for not grieving in the right way, whatever that is, and a resolution that I would never, ever do that.)

I agree with those who say that if the person saying the hateful things does so regularly, it's a lot more likely that it's not grief at work, but settled character. On the other hand, since Thomas is not someone whose every mistake must be caught (e.g., he's not translating a holy text, or conveying military orders, or something), generosity costs us little. If he does this sort of thing generally, then he'll present us with another opportunity to jump all over him soon enough; if not, then we'd be wrong to do so now.

generosity costs us little

Do you ever get the feeling, though, that "Thomas" wouldn't hesitate to have you put up against a wall and shot if he had the power?

Anyways, that's a very magnaminous attitude from someone who has just been labelled subhuman.

"Do you ever get the feeling, though, that "Thomas" wouldn't hesitate to have you put up against a wall and shot if he had the power?"

He lives his life; I live mine.

A summary:

1. Cutting to the bone federal flood control spending for essential structures to protect New Orleans with full knowledge of potential catastrophic consequences if the work is not performed.

2. Forcing the resignation of the head of the Army Corps of Engineers in 2002 (or so) because he protested the cuts.

3. FEMA an agency that had been reformed and was functional after its problems were disclosed in the early 90s; then turning it into an outfit run by cronies, and underfunded. (Including the corrupt FEMA cash give-away in Florida in the 2004 election cycle; any doubt now about the political manipulation of the agency at the time?)

4. Homeland Security was supposed to take over some FEMA functions, which was the justification for reducing FEMA -- I assume that would include emergency preparedness in response to major terrorist disasters, or natural disasters since the response is functionally the same. So what's happening?

5. Plenty of advanced warning of a potential impending disaster in New Orleans/Gulf Coast. If per 3 or 4 above, there were emergency response plans in place by FEMA or Homeland Security, they should have been ready to jump pre-Katrina landfall.

6. The disaster response? Horrible, including Bush claiming that levee failure was not anticipated (truly scum bucket behavior). Others blaming the 20% either not able or unwilling to leave. Excusing inadequate levees on the assumption that better ones would not have made a difference (although the fired head of Army Corps of Engineers per 2 above says otherwise). And by the way, how about all of the victims along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi or Alabama, who were not under mandatory evacuation, but where there is also a heavy loss of life. Can they be blamed also?

So, it seems to me that something this seriously wrong certainly merits political comment -- right now. Criticism is absolutely fair game -- right now.

Those who jump to the front to revile the critics? -- just another episode of the right wing politics of hatred. No different than sliming soldiers or grieving survivors of dead soldiers who also happen to criticize Bush.

"...including Bush claiming that levee failure was not anticipated (truly scum bucket behavior)."

Perhaps I'm naive, but I have no trouble believing simple ignorance and briefers who didn't bring up the point.

If it's ignorance, it's pretty spectacular ignorance, and shameful in itself.

"If it's ignorance, it's pretty spectacular ignorance, and shameful in itself."

Ya think?

Ya think?

So does that make it any less scum-bucketty?

Gary:

Perhaps I'm naive, but I have no trouble believing simple ignorance and briefers who didn't bring up the point.

If you are simply ignorant (as in unaware -- which seems to be your context), then you should say "I don't know whether or not levee failure was anticipated."

If you were not briefed on the topic, then you say "I don't know whether or not levee failure was anticipated -- I'll have someone from my staff give me that information and get back to you."

What you don't do is make up baloney to try to rephrase the issue as one of "Act of God" vs. official screw-ups re disaster preparedness and planning.

I tried to get a transcript of the Bush/Sawyer interview to get the exact context of his remark, but did not find one. So I'll speculate that Bush volunteered the remark -- I seriously doubt that Diane Sawyer, of all people, was pressing him to answer a question about whether or not levee failure was anticipated.

In other words, he just made up crap to avoid accountability for what looks like Bush administration incompetence making a bad thing much worse. Hard to see the logic supporting a less damning interpretation.

Gary:

Found text from here

Sawyer: "But given the fact that everyone anticipated a hurricane five, a possible hurricane five hitting shore, are you satisfied with the pace at which this is arriving? And which it was planned to arrive?"

Bush: "Well, I fully understand people wanting things to have happened yesterday. I mean, I understand the anxiety of people on the ground. I can imagine -- I just can't imagine what it is like to be waving a sign saying 'come and get me now'. So there is frustration. But I want people to know there is a lot of help coming.

"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm. But these levees got breached. And as a result, much of New Orleans is flooded. And now we are having to deal with it and will."

He just made up crap to deflect heat regarding the crappy response to the emergency. He is literally saying "no one thought it could be this bad" in response to the question "are you satisfied by the level of response given that a category 5 hurricane was expected?"

I take this break from not defecating in someone else's sink to add this to this debate:

hilzoy, you're wrong on some particulars, but I have to confess to thinking more highly of you now. I may need to go bathe.

2shoes, "up against the wall" is mostly associated with the Left. We on the Right drop walls on people.

Gromit, the love's still there. Come home.

Sebastian, this does explain some things.

Jack Lecou, no, you don't.

sidereal, no loss on either side.

To the rest of you: Adieu.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad