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September 14, 2005

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The Onion headline for the week, surmounted over a picture of Katrina's devastation:

God Outdoes Terrorists Yet Again

Okay, it sounds like we need a glossary. What is the bureaucratic distinction between a local state of emergency and a national state of emergency, and between a disaster area and an event of national significance?

It's starting to sound like the least descriptive term (Event of National Significance) is the most forcing to action for the federal government, but these different categories are getting very confusing.

Does anyone know where I could find such a glossary?

Purely guessing (and this should be read in the explanation not justification vein), but I would suspect that premature (and wrong) mobilization under "Incident of National Significance" ends up spending lots of money and there are bureaucratic/bean-counting incentives to not declare such an incident. I didn't really understand this concept well until I had worked on Sarbanes-Oxley compliance.

Now, in my understanding of things a Cat 4 or 5 hurricane that is aimed at New Orleans should count since it represented the 50-year worst-case scenario. So bureaucratic inertia isn't a good excuse.

I am reminded of an interview Ted Koppel did with the Ukranian Ambassador just after the Chernobyl disaster. The Ambassador, unused to the give-and-take of a free press, was fumfering along about how nothing had been done right away to evacuate or provide relief because the guy in charge for that region had already gone home on Friday and wasn't answering his home phone and nobody could get hold of him...when Koppel burst in, "Sir, are you trying to tell me you couldn't evacuate because it was the weekend?!

As so often in recent years, I find myself wondering why, exactly, we decided to turn into the Soviet Union.

"As so often in recent years, I find myself wondering why, exactly, we decided to turn into the Soviet Union."

Um... because McCarthy was right about Communist moles in the US government; he was just lying about which party they were in?

What I really want to know is who's going to decide to turn into the USA.

What Sebastian said. Remember Bush having one of his first meetings with Greenspan? I don't know who was in contact with who. It is hard for me to imagine Chertoff not being able to get Bush on the phone to authorize big spending.

But read somewhere nobody likes to give Bush bad news.

Bob, there was this from Time

A youngish aide who is a Bush favorite described the perils of correcting the boss. “The first time I told him he was wrong, he started yelling at me,” the aide recalled about a session during the first term. “Then I showed him where he was wrong, and he said, ‘All right. I understand. Good job.’ He patted me on the shoulder. I went and had dry heaves in the bathroom.”

This is not to deny what Seb noted about Sarbanes-Oxley. However, it makes me think that as people push these sorts of things as a way to get to smaller government, what we end up with is half a horse, a large government that can't do large government things.

Mr. Holsclaw: "So bureaucratic inertia isn't a good excuse."

It may not be a 'good' excuse, but it is the reason. A massive federal bureaucracy cannot respond quickly !!! Count on it. http://www.townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/ts20050915.shtml>This is a fact that will never change.

So, then, therfore, our govenment has to stop pretending that it can, and prepare the proper plan that acknowledges reality.

I mentioned a few posts back that my President screwed up. This is exactly what I mean. He knows FEMA cannot respond in much less than 72 hours; and someone knew that New Orleans was a mess in process and that the Louisiana State house was inept. He needed to transcend politics and federal protocol and take action.

He would have been impeached, but he could look himself in the mirror the next day.

someone knew that New Orleans was a mess in process and that the Louisiana State house was inept

I don't want to pull on anyone's chain, but that someone may have been Michael Brown, according to his interview in the NYTimes.

Mr. Brown, then director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said he told the officials in Washington that the Louisiana governor, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, and her staff were proving incapable of organizing a coherent state effort and that his field officers in the city were reporting an "out of control" situation.

"I am having a horrible time," Mr. Brown said he told Mr. Chertoff and a White House official - either Mr. Card or his deputy, Joe Hagin - in a status report that evening. "I can't get a unified command established."

Naturally, Gary has already commented on it.

blogbudsman: " He knows FEMA cannot respond in much less than 72 hours; and someone knew that New Orleans was a mess in process and that the Louisiana State house was inept. He needed to transcend politics and federal protocol and take action. "


In 2004, in Florida, didn't FEMA start operations *before* landfall of at least one hurricane? They prepositioned supplies and equipment, so that things were ready to go.

And in a situation where the high probability forecast (e.g., the two days before Katrina's landfall) indicates the destruction of a city, the federal government had best be ramping up then and there.

In 2004, in Florida, didn't FEMA start operations *before* landfall of at least one hurricane? They prepositioned supplies and equipment, so that things were ready to go.

So, also, with Katrina. Really, this stuff is out there for anyone who cares to look. In fact, you can see what FEMA did prior to Florida's hurricanes last year, here. Short answer: not much at all. Most pre-storm preparation was in the form of disaster-recovery teams assembled by Governor Bush. In accordance with the plans, you know.

LJ's post about Brown discusses difficulties getting coordinated with the Governor "hours after" the storm hit, which was far too late.

Bob McManus: But read somewhere nobody likes to give Bush bad news.

Probably in this Newsweek feature.

LJ's post about Brown discusses difficulties getting coordinated with the Governor "hours after" the storm hit, which was far too late.

Just to be clear, it's not my post, it's a link to an interview with Brown, who has some motive to be embellish the truth. As Gary said, he could be right. Unfortunately, without an investigation, there is no way we can even get close to the truth.

"What is the bureaucratic distinction between a local state of emergency and a national state of emergency, and between a disaster area and an event of national significance?"

In a local state of emergency, you stick your head under your ass and kiss it goodbye.

In a national state of emergency, we all stick our heads under our asses and kiss it goodbye.

In a disaster area, aid is rushed in by all available means.

In an Event of National Significance, we ponder the significance with all available means.

"What is the bureaucratic distinction between a local state of emergency and a national state of emergency, and between a disaster area and an event of national significance?"

In a local state of emergency, you stick your head under your ass and kiss it goodbye.

In a national state of emergency, we all stick our heads under our asses and kiss them goodbye.

In a disaster area, aid is rushed in by all available means.

In an Event of National Significance, we ponder the significance with all available means.

Of course all of this ignores the essential fact that supplies were ready to be moved in by the Red Cross much earlier - but were kept out by the state.

That is the key to the whole disaster. The state cut those people off from supplies that volunteers were ready to bring them, and left the people of New Orleans to suffer, and suffer they did until a massive Federal response could be mounted.

I can understand the Feds being faulted if they didn't plan for obstacles to supply presented by a disaster or by terrorists. But to call them inept because they didn't plan for the state government to disrupt the flow of supplies? That's completely insane.

Unless we're supposed to consider the State of Louisiana a potentially hostile power. Maybe we should, but that is truly one thing that no one even came close to predicting or planning for...

You don't suppose the French lineage had anything to do with anything. 'Spose not.

No, I don't. But then again, I don't suppose my French lineage has much to do with anything, either.

That is the key to the whole disaster. The state cut those people off from supplies that volunteers were ready to bring them, and left the people of New Orleans to suffer, and suffer they did until a massive Federal response could be mounted.

I would note that this analysis is much more disturbing than any other one if you start working on why this would occur.

I think it's that the state of Louisiana doesn't care about black people.

Not really, but it's something for people making related statements to consider.

Mr. slartibartfast, I hope I didn't gaul you.

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