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September 06, 2005

Comments

Agreed. Get Brown his dang Medal of Freedom and bump him up to the UN already.

among duties of these employees was to "convey a positive image" about the government's response

it would take me more than a bit of searching to find a single instance where that hasn't been a/the priority for this gang of ninnies. Potemkin President, indeed.

yes, Brown should go. but his replacement won't change anything - this disease of appearance over implementation flows from the White House itself. their goal is a permanent Republican majority, not actual competent leadership.

Nice to see you pop your head in Edward. You've been rather quiet recently, much to our loss.

But to the point, there's been a question on my mind, and this post seems the best to ask it. Do those of you who live in large cities expect the government to be able to save you in a disaster? That's been the thing I find most incomprehensible about the whole blame parade.

One of the tradeoffs of population density is there's nowhere to go. It's a tradeoff I'm willing to make for such a small risk, but I don't doubt for a second that I'd be screwed in a disaster. I'd estimate about 30min for the freeways out of LA to become unpassable (assuming they ever become passable), and I'm not going to be swimming my way out of anywhere. Survival skills were not a required course at my university, so if LA becomes uninhabitable, I'm dead. I know this and it would seem silly to pretend otherwise.

But the impression I've gotten the last week is that everybody else expects someone to drop in and save them. Am I really the only person who feels this way?

via rilkefan, in the thread below: more appearance over implementation

Brown isn't that important. Brown was given the job precisely because it wasn't a position of power or responsibility. And any decision he would make had to be vetted and authorized from even above Chertoff. It wasn't Brown who decided to gut the department.

For instance the cutting of the Jefferson County communication lines(Broussard MTP interview, link on request). Do you think Brown made that decision, whyever it was made, on his lonesome?

Brown is about as important in this administration as the Treasury Secretaries or Undersecretaries. His replacement will not have the power, even if he has an increase in competence.

I think the probable real story is that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld weren't available and nobody else felt confident to make decisions. Later in the week the White House was gaming it to see how they could gain maximum advantage.

Great question laden, but it gets to the granular level of philosophy about government's raison d'etre.

Do those of you who live in large cities expect the government to be able to save you in a disaster? That's been the thing I find most incomprehensible about the whole blame parade.

I expect one of two things. For the government's first priority to be saving my life or for the government to step the f*ck out of my way and let me get out by any means necessary. What I won't accept is a government insisting it has the authority to order me around even though its first priority is something other than protecting my life. That's unacceptable.

Even before I managed to walk to my apartment on 9/11 there were police checkpoints between me and my apartment, three of them, if I recall correctly. The government was stepping in and saying that I could not enter my residence without their approval. Everything I needed to survive was in my apartment. I had to believe that the government was looking out for my well being in standing between me and my survival. Otherwise, they become part of the threat to me.

Government has no choice, therefore, but to put saving people's lives at the top of their priorities. By not doing so, leaving moral considerations aside for the sake of argument, they would ensure even greater chaos.

But the impression I've gotten the last week is that everybody else expects someone to drop in and save them.

Call me a coward, but if I'm trapped, yeah. Especially if there's a entire multi-billion dollar federal agency that's supposed to do it.

Edward, this is the "ownership society." This means, if anything happens, you're on your own. [It makes me think of Groucho: "And don't forget the guarantee...My personal guarantee: If these lots don't double in value in a year, I don't know what you can do about it."]

Here is a Kos diary you might like to read about do-it-yourself rescue.

This means, if anything happens, you're on your own.

that's not what it really means, though, ral.

If I were really "on my own" in an emergency I'd break in and create a fortress in a ranch a bit outside Crawford, Texas (just an example, Mr. Gonzales, please don't send me to g-Bay). The SS and local authorities who would try to stop me would have no societal grounds on which to do so either, should your argument be taken to its logical conclusion.

I have to disagree. Remember the golden rule, we must all follow the golden rule: he who has the gold makes the rules. [from the Wizard of Id]

The authorities who will stop you have all the authority they need.

Have to agree with cleek. Expect Brown to be replaced by the former general counsel for the small-dog breeders association, who met Rove at a dog obedience school.

You won't get competence when the source of incompetence is much higher than Brown.

I read that Kos diary earlier. It's terrifying, if true. (It documents a bunch of people whose attempts to escape New Orleans were being actively thwarted by the police.)

That assumes I can't spend a moment explaining to those authorities that those with the gold will sacrifice them next. I don't want to toot my own horn too much, but I'm known for being rather convincing in a crisis. I suspect more than a few of those charged with protecting Bush's ranch would join me inside it instead after I explained why that was to their advantage.

Edward
I don't mean to get into a "Role of government" argument here, this site is probably not the place.

I was thinking more about expectations of capability. I agree that no govt. agency is going to get out of your way. And I agree that they should all have priority #1 be saving lives. I just don't know why anybody would expect them to be very effective at it.

I work for a local Muni, and I've taken courses on disaster response, first aid, etc. I have a little badge that lets me get past police blockades to get where I need to go to help out. I've seen the plans and they mean well. Priority #1 is definitely where it should be, but people are going to die.

And this is in California, where heirarchy and authority are pretty spelled out. Even someone at my level could jump in at an EOC and know pretty much where to go for help and who is expecting help from you.

But disaster response is a downright impossible job if you have your priorities right. Because you are going to fail, and people are going to die. In spite of, and because of decisions you make, regardless of which decision you make.

I suppose I've gone on too long already, so let me just point out the upshot. Do not count on somebody saving you. There's a reason those people are called heroes.

The fixation on Brown is an attempt by the adminstration's apologists (maybe even the administration itself) to push accountability as far down as possible yet again. This is basically the same as the successful campaign to blame the Abu Gharib fiasco on a handful of enlisted hillbillies.

Of course Brown is an unqualified incompetent who got his job due to cronyism. This is the Bush administration we're talking about. But the fixation on him is quite useful to the people who hired him.

I don't mean to get into a "Role of government" argument here, this site is probably not the place.

I was thinking more about expectations of capability.

Got ya.

I think it's a mix though. Not sure this isn't coming across as rather vigilante/survialist-esque, but I expect the government to have saving me its first priority, but I do what I need to when it's clear that's not gonna be enough to keep me safe.

I talked my way through the checkpoints on more than one occassion after 9/11, talked folks into following my orders in other dangerous settings, including cabbies, etc. ...just going on instinct about what motivated them. The authorities are people with families and fears and such as well (i.e., they can have their buttons pushed, and I'm not above pushing 'em if I feel I need to...it's all a matter of how steely you remain...my blood turns to frozen helium in a life-and-death crisis...always has).

In other words, it doesn't matter what they're capable of, so long as THEY believe saving me is their obligation...after that I'll fend for myself and my loved ones.

But that's not your question either...it's not about me specifically, but the populace in general. Do they think the authorities will save them.

Can't speak for them, but I assume I'm on my own should it get doomsday bad.

I recall brainstorming with my friend Mike years ago (I mention his name in light of the fact he just got married this weekend I had the honor of being his best man, and I'm very happy for him, so I'll work it in every chance I can)...when we both lived in New York on how to escape the city in a crisis. The tunnels are parking lots, the bridges the same. The uber-wealthy got the helicopters, etc. etc. Mike's been kidnapped in Iraq, carjacked in Haiti, blindfolded and driven to a secret terrorist location, etc. etc. and like me he remains calm in such settings. We agreed that stealing a kayak from the boat house on the Hudson was probably out best bet from our neighborhoods, but that you'd likely have to fight to get one.

But that's just theory. Who knows what the river would be like?

It wouldn't matter though...survival is the only thing that matters at that point...anyone not focused on that fact won't make it. Staying so focused on that point that the authorities are just another obstacle you work around is key. You stay focused, ruthless, and calm.

Of course Brown is an unqualified incompetent who got his job due to cronyism. This is the Bush administration we're talking about. But the fixation on him is quite useful to the people who hired him.

Deal with what's practical first, Brian. Firing Brown may not solve all the problems, but it's a reasonable first step in that direction. Your statement implies that those who need fired are Brown's higher ups...charming idea (seriously, I love it), but it's hardly in the realm of possibility at this point.

I'm hoping that by firing Brown, Bush develops a taste for it and moves on up the lines. If he got as far as Rumsfeld, the nation would be much better off for it.

Either way, there's no excuse whatsoever for leaving the incompetent, as you dub him, in office regardless.

If Bush fires Brown it will mean that finally Republicans are pressuring him instead of excusing or enabling him.

According to a poll sited on Donkey Rising, Bush's overall approval rating is down to 45%. You can fool some of the people some of the time...

Edward
I had always laughed off movies where some scientist or bus driver becomes an action hero. Little did I know such people really exist. I'm sure Soldier of Fortune would be shocked to find out they have you as a subscriber ;). Also, congrats on being called a Bush apologist. Surely that's a first for you.

I gamed out a situation based on a 28 Days Later kind of disaster. Hiding out is not likely, we decided to commandeer a jetski and hope for Catalina. That depended on early action and also had a pretty good chance of failing, but was the best of a bad bunch.

Well, it doesn't look like we disagree on much, which is good since it seems you and your friend Mike would both make short work of me. Have a nice night.

Brown Chertoff Timeline

AP 13 minutes ago, so I hope Gary didn't beat me to it.

From this article, it is fairly obvious that Brown's job was apparently PR. He was not supposed to direct major resources, nor did he have the resources or authority to assign.

They wanted to privatize and localize disaster relief, and Brown at FEMA was liason{?} between local needs and private charities. Brown is getting a very bad rap here.

Hiding out is not likely, we decided to commandeer a jetski and hope for Catalina.

With thinking like that, laden, you can join Mike and me in any crisis!

It's all theory of course, I've never had to put it to test, but I do think having some notion of how to deal with a crisis is your first step toward surviving one. I also think believing you will survive is key, whether based on action hero fantasy or not, it's better, as you note, than assuming a knight in shining armor is going to show up to save you.

Brown said that among duties of these employees was to "convey a positive image" about the government's response for victims.

This is why Bush appointed him and why Bush is defending him. Brownie, knows the primary job of all political appointees is public relations.

This is why Bush appointed him and why Bush is defending him. Brownie, knows the primary job of all political appointees is public relations.

There seems to be a rising consensus about that. Only problem is, if Bush was defending him for doing a good PR job, Bush is even more out of touch than I thought. Not even a deaf mute in a coma could think the PR part of this effort has gone well.

I didn't know Brown's title was "Public Relations Officer." I thought it was "Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response." Is that a PR position?

If Brown wasn't actually, functionally, the head of FEMA, then who was?

Or is heading FEMA now merely a PR job?

Ha, the government hasn't been a knight in shining armor since the Middle Ages. But we will still muddle through as best we can. Which is what I suppose I actually would do in a crisis. Even if my chances are slim, everybody's chances get slimmer if those who can keep basic services running bail.

But I cut a lot of slack to those who were in charge in NO. It's a sickening responsibility, and the most important traits in a crunch are not easy to spot beforehand and are not (except for Brown) what they were elected for in the first place.

Certainly replace Brown going forward, and the others when the time comes, but I won't look down on him for what I'm not sure I could have done better.

Edward, you must be thinking of the old style government, you know the one actually responsible to the people.

I think as far as most conservatives go, they are perfectly happy to see government positions that are primarily PR, if that is what it takes to keep conservatives in power.

"AP 13 minutes ago, so I hope Gary didn't beat me to it."

I have no idea, Bob; I posted it at 8:15 p.m., Rocky Mountain Time (an hour earlier than Central; an hour later than West Coast), but I'm sure others posted elsewhere earlier. I've been taking a relatively lazy day, actually; I'm a bit tired, and the crisis peaked, after all. (Now we get our friend, Mr. Disease, coming to visit, though.)

This technique of flying evacuees off to Utah and deliberately not telling them them where they are going, because previous evacuees refused to go when informed of the destination, is an interesting one, though.

The really unpleasant flipside of charity and welcome is less interesting, and unsurprising, and I don't believe it's too widespread in any depth, but it's not pleasant, either.

I still think Kristof got it right, though.

This Administration doesn't do firings. That would be admitting a mistake.

Brown may decide he wants to spend more time with his family soon, though.

btw, it is lovely to see Edward, but what ever happened to idea of a guest blogger?

"If Brown wasn't actually, functionally, the head of FEMA, then who was?"

Actually, functionally, I suspect the FEMA that Witt directed in the 90s no longer exists. The one that can direct resources to emergencies. The one that help devastated people.

Heck, when they gave DHS to the Bushies and it became an umbrella (trashcan?) to fold all the other agencies into this is pretty much what I expected. I am surprised there is still a coast guard, I expected it to be downsized into yacht security. True story.

Check out DeLong on "worse than expected, and then worse again" Or Schmitt yesterday on the big lie. Most people who voted for them I would expect would rather die than admit to the reality of what they have put into power in this country. Bushco takes advantage of that guilt, gives them every opportunity for self-delusion.

They will skate on this too. Nobody wants to see the truth. Good Germans couldn't even smell the furnaces.

Here is the Mark Schmitt link:

The Will to Believe

"we've come to grips with the fact that our lives and our assumptions are in some degree of peril because of the president, in a way that we never felt about Nixon, Reagan or Bush I" ...Schmitt

ladan: as a long beach resident, i've always thought that stealing (ahem, liberating) a sailboat would be the best way to escape a major LA disaster.

major point: SKILL MATTERS.... A LOT!

i've come to believe that one of the most important attributes for a president, if not the most important, is his ability to hire competent people. Both Reagan and Clinton placed qualified technocrats at key (and not so key) positions in their administrations, and it made a huge difference. In an area I know something about firsthand, Clinton had a major impact on the enforcement of environmental laws, and it was due virtually entirely to the competence of those who filled patronage positions.

Both Bushes have sucked at their appointments, and it's making a big difference in the quality of life for way too many people on this planet.

I understand what Schmitt is saying, I believe, Bob, and without either disagreeing or taking up the issue, I wish to note, in the spirit of not viewing the past through overly-rosy lenses, that plenty of folks felt a great deal of personal peril under Nixon, whether simply due to the draft, or out of fear of being shot while protesting like students (some of whom were just walking by) at Jackson State and Kent State were, or if they were very political, during a police raid, as so many Black Panthers were, or out of general paranoia under COINTELPRO, Nixon's Plumbers, and on and on and on.

And under Reagan, many were quite convinced that Reagan was going to blow up the world, after all, with his IRBM Pershings in Europe, or MXs, or general arms buildup, etc. He was considered quite the major threat in some circles, I'm sure you'll recall.

Ah, the good old days.

Amid the gloom and strife, what I consider historic good news: the California assembly has voted to approve gay marriage. The senate voted for it last week. Ok, it'll probably get terminated, but still.

"Ok, it'll probably get terminated, but still"

As is often the case, I have not a good feel for the internals of Republican politics. I do not know why, for instance, Trevino left RedState....and as said on Tacitus.org, this gives us permission to speculate...but the question may have been party vs president, and Trevino, with inside knowledge and good instincts, may have jumped a sinking ship. Or, heck, could even be integrity. Josh has not been George's biggest fan for a long time.

Arnie may be better off signing than vetoing.

It seems to me that this whole question of "what do you expect from your government in times of crisis" is a very deep one about how each of us defines the social contract between "ourselves" and "authority". There is also a question as to how high level can an economy be developed if we go back to "every man for himself."

Does Grover Norquist really understand what we get when government is totally drowned in a bathtub? He and those of his ilk may believe that Utopia will arrive--myself, I'm thinking the best one can expect is a warlord structure in places like Afghanistan or Somalia. Forget about being a first-class power--we're more likely to be an economic basket-case.

laden: Do those of you who live in large cities expect the government to be able to save you in a disaster?

Yes. But then I live in the UK. From the reaction from my American friends, they're coming to the conclusion that their government won't save them in the event of a disaster - certainly not until the news cameras can get there.

Another British friend (a civil servant, not allowed to make public comments about this kind of thing, so I must paraphrase and not link) said that the thing we (she meant people in Britain/EU countries) don't understand about the US is that it's basically an ultra-rich Third World country.

I live in a very low-lying area of the UK, near the sea (though above sea level). I work in an office about six feet above sea level and a few yards from the sea. It is entirely possible that, within my lifetime, the office where I am typing now (yes, blogging at work, and I'm going to shut down in a minute) will be flooded.

And no doubt, were that to happen, we'd have injustices and inconveniences and people losing what they deserved to keep, and some people being treated better than others. But one thing I know for sure: no matter what the political complexion of the government of the day, a British government that left a hundred thousand people behind to drown, or who abandoned twenty thousand people without food or water for days, no matter what their excuses, would see mass resignations at Cabinet level, might well lose a vote of confidence in the House, and would most likely lose the next election. Their most supportive newspaper friends would dump them and dump on them. Someone would quote Oliver Cromwell's words to the Rump Parliament in 1653. No one would find this acceptable.

I'm sorry. I made a prediction in my journal the other day that some Americans would find excuses for this because so many of them expect nothing better and they don't believe any country is better off than them: and I keep seeing that prediction fulfilled. I wish - with all my heart I wish - that no American found this behavior on the part of their government acceptable, because it is not.

Oliver Cromwell, April 1653: "You have been sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!"

ladan: as a long beach resident, i've always thought that stealing (ahem, liberating) a sailboat would be the best way to escape a major LA disaster.

I've always thought that a dirt bike or motorcycle is a handy thing to have in an emergency. Doesn't need a whole lot of gas and there would be plenty of cars to syphon from.

Er, yes, that's me up there sounding off. Oops.

Jes,
I understand you would like to make this all a moral failing of Bush and those wascally Americans. But your faith in Brittish govt. employees is misguided. They are people, and some of them, even some in critical postions, are going to fold under pressure. And all the demanding, all the expecting, all the faith you have in them is going to be a fitting epitath on your tombstone.

When things get tough, the ability to command and control is tough, and very rare. Our current leadership certainly doesn't have it. And unfortunately, it doesn't come with UK citizenship any more than it comes with American.

As said above, certainly replace Brown going forward, and the rest when their time comes, but they are no less of men for not being heroes.

I too am at work and apologize in advance for not responding to any comments today.

Is that the new spin, ladan? "Yes, things were all effed up, but nobody could have done any better?" I guess it's better than blaming the locals for everything, but not by much.

This disaster relief stuff is hard work.

For Pete's sake tadan, China just managed to evacuate close to a million people in the path of a typhoon. Cuba did it a while ago with a Cat 5 hurricane and lost less than a dozen people. Saying that things inevitably disintegrate because of human failing is not true. That's why you supposedly have planners and managers.

ladan: When things get tough, the ability to command and control is tough, and very rare. Our current leadership certainly doesn't have it.

Yes, as Bush himself says, leading a nation of 300 million people is "hard work". If he's not up to it (and who can now honestly argue that he is?) he should resign rather than subject the United States to three more years of his lethal mismanagement.

Another British friend (a civil servant, not allowed to make public comments about this kind of thing, so I must paraphrase and not link) said that the thing we (she meant people in Britain/EU countries) don't understand about the US is that it's basically an ultra-rich Third World country.

This is about the dumbest thing I've heard all week, and I heard George Bush say he was going to personally lead an investigation into his own government. (My bon mot of the day when I saw it: "George Bush apparently couldn't lead flies to a turd." My wife found it quite funny.) I suspect that what you don't understand about the US would fill several Astrodomes.

ladan: I expect human fallibility to affect the response to any crisis. Moreover, I do not expect the government to save me, if that means: being sure, or even confident, that it will. I didn't really expect that before Katrina, and I certainly don't now.

But I do think it's important to say: we ought to be able to expect that our government will really try to save people in the event of a catastrophe like this. If it does not recognize this responsibility, it should just fold up FEMA and save a lot of money. If it does, though, I really have to ask: who was really trying to make sure that it happened? What person, with the authority to knock heads and get things done, was overseeing e.g. Brown and saying: no, this is not acceptable, get troops and supplies in there now? And as far as I can tell, the answer is: no one, until the political embarrassment got to be too much. And that's appalling.

I also think we ought to expect much better planning before disaster strikes. We have a Department of Homeland Security, at which we have thrown billions of dollars. The steps that need to be taken to evacuate a city after a terrorist attack are pretty similar to those needing to be taken after Katrina. Apparently, our DHS has not figured out what those steps are, four years after 9/11. And that's not acceptable: it's not OK to think that given billions of dollars and years of planning, all we ended up with was color coded threat levels.

Nor, finally, will I find it acceptable if, after all of this, there isn't the kind of shakeup Jes described. This isn't OK, and we shouldn't pretend that it is. And if enough of my fellow citizens think it is OK that Bush can ride this out without a problem, then that's incredibly depressing in its own right.

So, basically: if I were trapped somewhere, I would not sit around expecting the government to save me. (Though I would sit around not expecting that if I were one of the many people who are bedridden, who have serious mobility problems, or who otherwise can't do the dirt-bike thing.) But as a citizen, I absolutely expect my government both to try its damnedest to save people, and to do the planning beforehand to make that effort as likely as possible to be effective.

Certainly replace Brown going forward, and the others when the time comes, but I won't look down on him for what I'm not sure I could have done better.

The soft bigotry of low expectations indeed.

the government hasn't been a knight in shining armor since the Middle Ages

It wasn't then, either, as you may know. I don't know anyone today who thinks that government should be "a knight in shining armor," (whatever that even means) but I do know that Americans deserve a government--broadly speaking, state, local, and federal--that makes an effort to protect them when they can't protect themselves.

To me, that seems so obvious as not to be worth arguing over, not even on the internet.

And might I also point out that, while true leadership is indeed rare, we don't pick our leaders by lottery? People voted for this idiot. They can't simply throw their hands up in the air and say "oh well, true leaders are rare, what you gonna do?" There are 300 million people in this country, and a large fraction of that number are eligible to serve as President. Out of that very large number, there must be some competent leaders, right?

So the real question is why the Republican Party put forth George W. Bush as their candidate for leader of the free world and why America voted him into office. Is the American public unconsciously sabotaging its own success? I am certainly becoming convinced that the Democratic party is not helping by putting forth candidates like John Kerry, but his hardly compares to the irresponsibility of voting for a man who sees the job of leading our top disaster-relief agency as a sinecure.

This, along with this whole stupid discussion about who is "politicizing" an already inherently political event is cementing my view that people have lost sight of the fact that politics has serious consequences. People live and die by our voting decisions. It is not simply a game in which points are scored, and everyone goes home at the end of the day, no better or worse for winning or losing. People die when you put an imbecile in charge of the country. We, as a nation, have to realize that we have royally f*cked up in picking our leaders.

ladan: I understand you would like to make this all a moral failing of Bush and those wascally Americans.

Then your understanding is flawed.

They are people, and some of them, even some in critical postions, are going to fold under pressure.

That's really not an acceptable excuse for FEMA's failings, and I would think you'd know it.

Phil: I suspect that what you don't understand about the US would fill several Astrodomes.

I suspect you don't understand the impact on European countries of what we've seen from the US in the past week. Tens of thousands of people abandoned for days with no effort being made to get food or water to them, and their government - and their fellow citizens - asserting as if as a matter of fact that it just wasn't possible for their country to respond that fast to such a huge disaster.

I suspect you don't understand the impact on European countries of what we've seen from the US in the past week.

Aside from the fact that I suppose that makes us even, I also am not particularly interested in what kinds of foolish conclusions foolish people several thousand miles away, who by the way do not vote here, draw from the events of the past week. I'm more interested in the proper conclusions being drawn, and categorizing the US as a Third World country is not among them.

(I'll try to resist the urge to point out that your government recently "protected" its citizens by delivering seven head shots to an unarmed, innocent Brazilian -- a situation created largely because its crack surveillance team was in the loo at a critical moment -- then tried to cover it up by lying about it.)

Oops, couldn't resist. Well, there -- now we've both had an opportunity to slag each other's countries. Doesn't everyone feel better now?

Phil, that comment about the US doesn't mean, IMHO, that the US is poor, or lacks infrastructure or technology. It's about the attitude. It's saying that things which first-world countries generally don't tolerate are being tolerated and defended by the mainstream politics of the US.

I'm well aware of what Jesurgislac thinks about my country, Barry, and well I'm sure your intentions are noble, I doubt she needs you to run interference for her. I also think such a statement is far, far too forgiving toward EU member nations concerning what first-world countries will and won't tolerate.

Yes, this was a FUBAR of major proportions, and I'm sad, angry and disappointed. Let's not all pretend now that Europe hasn't had plenty of its own FUBARs, and thus provide cover for the bashing to begin by disinterested parties an ocean away.

Also, suffice to say that, while I'm not interested in getting into a drawn-out discussion on this topic, my country is suffering enough right now that I don't think anonymous English civil servants kicking us in the teeth via their all-too-willing online proxies is particularly constructive right now, you know? If either of these two upstanding UKers wants to do something useful rather than insult my country, they can click here.

If either of these two upstanding UKers wants to do something useful rather than insult my country,

Europeans are trying to help, as they would any other Third World country. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/06/AR2005090601994.html>Trying

I'm not that happy about snark from abroad either, but if the shoe fits . . .

"Europeans are trying to help, as they would any other Third World country."

I had comments about this a couple of hours ago.

Also: that time gap of Brownie's.

Rewarding helo pilots. Not.

See no evil; no photos allowed.

The water; Broussard quote.

No forced removals yet.

Just get on the plane.

Resettlement.

Send those trucks somewhere.

The real story.

Attacking stegosaurus, or at least a wild boar.

We're from the Republican Party and we're here to help you with your bankruptcy.

The $2k debit card plan.

The dirty blue line.

And so on and so forth.

Gary- Strange I don't see any comments there now.

Let's not all pretend now that Europe hasn't had plenty of its own FUBARs, and thus provide cover for the bashing to begin by disinterested parties an ocean away.

You have really no idea how flabbergasted most Europeans are. Not because we are perfect and most definately not because we want to slam the US. It is just..... shocking.

One of the big differences between the approach in the Netherlands and the approach in the US is that we rely on prevention. We have to, we don't have enough room to do anything else, especially in view of how much would be left after a big flood in the wrong region. The US however has a lower level of protection (= less costs) and relies more on evacuation and shelter - a different philosophy.

That *does* mean that those evacuations and shelters should work properly. Other countries that depend more on evacuation and sheltering can evacuate better (China, Cuba - even the Netherlands did a better job in 1995 when we had to evacuate 250.000 people, pets and cattle) and that is allready suprising. I don't understand why hospitals, ill people, jails and such were not evacuated beforehand but that might be the 'sheltering' bit of the US approach, if you assume the buildings will hold.

However, what happened AFTER the flood is really what boggles the mind. That went wrong on so many levels and in so many area's...

For the Dutch, this brings strong memories of our 1953 flood. (the reason our Deltaworks exist). It took a long time before people even realized there was a flood, since telephones were not a commodity, radio was not on for 24 hours and the biggest flooding happened on a sunday (in those days the country more or less closed down on sundays). Monday afternoon the first reliefpackages were dropped and Tuesday afternoon allmost all the people were evacuated and brought to safer places.

With that in mind, can you imagine how speechless we are when we see what goes on in NO? I am shocked, flabbergasted, sad, speechless - and frankly very very angry. They may not be my countrymen, but I very strongly feel that in this day and age no inhabitant of a forward and rich country should experience what those who were left in NO have experienced.

All of that has NOTHING to do with my opinion about my own government. Appearantly my expectations of what they would do for me in case of disaster is higher than yours - and by the looks of it that is more justified. But that doesn't mean that there isn't plenty that goes wrong with my government.

A rather nauseating trip through the wayback machine, courtesy of TPMCafe.

Oh, and Gary, guess what you get when you cross the $2000 debit card story with The Onion's "gnaw on your own bootstraps" story?

This.

"Gary- Strange I don't see any comments there now."

And yet there they are.

Also: the firefighters are still in Atlanta, playing cards.

evacuees barred by housing covenant; how lovely of the homeowners association to remind everyone.

Jane Fonda cancels bus tour, oh no!

Yahoo cooperates with Chinese state security.

Disaster numbers squishy; Kanye's followup; making fun of Barbara Bush's silver foot.

Joint Katrina hearings settled on.

Nerves in Baton Rouge.

More blame game.

On the lighter, smaller, side, Apples ROKR and Ipod-nano.

Gromit, reading that piece, I have to agree with this:

I know, these are old fashioned and it might bother you, but they used to be priced values.
Wait. I'm sure I'd agree. If I knew what the hell it meant.

("Prized values," I'm guessing.)

I realize that this is sticking my head in a fight, but this quotes from J. G. Ballard (written well before Katrina) from Boing-Boing are apropos.

"We now have an adolescent America with enough intelligence to run a war and run a vast economy. It's beginning to swallow its own myth. I worry for the future when the infantilizing process takes America and parts of Western Europe (including us) down with it, to be ten years old, or even younger. What happens when we get down to the nursery, and find we can't change our own diapers?" (from an interview with Graeme Revell. 2003)

"I sometimes think that in a sense we're entering a New Dark Age. The lights are full on, but there's an inner darkness ... because we're retreating into a sort of [mind-set] of our pre-rational forebears who lived in a kind of animist world where everything had a spirit -- every twig, every stone in a stream ... where questions of guilt and anxiety and fear and aggression ruled our reflexes." (from an interview with V. Vale. 2004)

Unfortunately, I see the emotions that are at the root of Phil's umbrage (which on one level, I share) are being used by admin apologists to deflect blame and avoid taking responsibility. If I were to follow what I think is Bob McManus' position, which is that everyone on the other side should be run out of town on a rail (my interpretation, mind you)

I'm sure I'm making a big mistake sticking my head in this, but Dutchmarbel's point exactly mirrors my feelings and my philosophy is coming very close to what I think Bob's is.

Phil: While I understand the anger at Jes' post, I don't get why you think it's dumb, let alone the dumbest thing you've heard all week. If you feel like conversing more on the matter would you mind expanding? If not, well, no worries.

Just for the record, I'm a great admirer of Ballard, and a keen enthusiast for his work, and always have been. Which is why I know that he's been writing stuff like this about America since at least 1963 or so, and possibly earlier. Ever since the Assassination Of John Fitzgerald Kennedy was Considered As A Downhill Motor Race, you know.

You might also want to point out that his prescience extends to predicting that Reagan be elected president in a short story in 1967 with a title that would run afoul of posting rules.

My own impression (since I was born in 61, his short story ouvre didn't make the impact on me that it would have to someone actually aware of what was going on) is that though his fiction has always been challenging, he has become more outspoken as a public speaker with the new millenium, especially with his refusal of a CBE in 2003. Comparing his interview in Platt's _Dreammakers_ and his more recent interviews underlines this, I think. Of course, this might be because there are more outlets with less self censorship and he was basically making the same kind of comments back then, but they didn't make their way into print.

All of my admittedly dramatic hyperbole aside, Anarch, I really, really don't feel like getting into it. I'm just sick and effing tired of hearing about how America Is Teh Suck from Jes.

Fair nuff. Maybe later, maybe never. Fine by me either way.

Chuchundra
I'm not sure who you think I am. Whatever spin I put on things is not likely to become "the" spin of anything.

Gromit
It wouldn't bother me if Bush resigns. I've tried to resign him twice already. Sadly, we will have to wait for the constitution to do so as the odds of him going voluntarily are an engineer's zero. Katrina would not be the reason I felt that way however.
If we did want to elect our leaders based upon grace under fire, being able to handle a simple press conference would have been a good start.

Tim
I know other nations have done a better job at disaster response. The US has done a better job as well. That's the reason this is so shocking. But cluster&%[email protected] can happen even when decent people are doing their best.

Hilzoy
The pessimist in me thinks airport security is the perfect exemplar of how useful DHS is.
The optimist thinks it could be like DOD, full of pork but also full of smart people planning for every scenario.
But I suppose the basic disagreement I have is that Katrina did not reveal some intrinsic flaw in our government. It was a horrible situation that spiraled out of control. Even my optimist admits that is going to happen. The DOD blew the Bay of Pigs pretty hard.
I expect you will get your shakeup in 2006. I also think it will be the right decision made for the wrong reasons. I'm fine with that.

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