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August 29, 2007

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Yet--and I can't begin to tell you how this boggles my mind--a majority of my formerly fellow Louisianians (I moved away 8 years ago) still want to support the party which enabled this President. It pains me to no end, because I love my state dearly and would love to be able to move back one day, but I won't as long as they've got such a myopic view of the world.

Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but:

Yet--and I can't begin to tell you how this boggles my mind--a majority of my formerly fellow Louisianians (I moved away 8 years ago) still want to support the party which enabled this President.

Where do these "formerly fellow Louisianans" live? In New Orleans? Or upstate?

And, are these FFL'ans, by any chance, African-American? Or white?

I think that this is only part of the story (this is unusual for a hilzoy post). NOLA was, pre-Katerina, a very poor city, with a high unemployment rate--which would imply that its population was due to shrink. (See, for the same thing in operation, all those towns in the Great Plains that are shrinking, often to the point of disappearance). I'd argue that Katrina simply sped this up, and that to expect NOLA to go back to where it was is unrealistic. Note that the port operation seems to have been back to normal in a short time, so presumably few of the people who left were associated with that.

All that said, I do not doubt for a moment that the GWB administration has no interest in helping NOLA rebuild, as dispersing its population may well turn Lousiana Republican.

This is a good post about the state of things now.

Right now, I'm a hour from NO and I'm not sure if the port facility is utilizing the same people who were formerly employed, or if a large number of immigrant workers came in to take their places. I also don't think that NO was shrinking in the same way that towns on the Plains have been. New Orleans has always been a place where deep family ties provided an alternative social net that allowed families to subsist at a level that would be impossible in other major cities. Thus, I think that Katrina affected NO to an extent far greater than it would have other urban centers.

"... one of America's greatest cities."

Man, that must be a remarkably long list!

Compare this to, say, the rebuilding done in Mississippi over the past two years, and I believe the neglect becomes all the more clear.

I don't know the facts first-hand in Mississippi, but it looks as though state and municipal government are taking the lion's share of responsibility for getting things up and running, so that may be the difference.

If I had a bunch of money to invest in real estate, I would be much more inclined to buy in Gulfport than NO.

Well, the rebuilding in Mississippi is driven by casinos and Haley Barbour, who seems to have interesting < href="http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2007/08/impeach-haley-b.html">incentives to get things going.

crap, screwed up link is here

Where do these "formerly fellow Louisianans" live? In New Orleans? Or upstate?

Just north of New Orleans, across the lake, and majority white, though the majority isn't huge, though the amount of local power they hold, as you might expect, is vast. And the farther you get upstate, the worse it gets.

I don't think planet Earth should have been rebuilt following the biblical Flood. Too expensive. Also, I think it was unfair that Noah received a heads-up and no one else did.

It's been nothing but moral hazard ever since.

Early in the 19th century, the most powerful earthquake in U.S. history occurred with an epicenter in Missouri. There were hundreds of devastating aftershocks. The Mississippi River reversed course for some period of time.

And yet Mark Twain went right ahead, without so much as by-your-leave, whatever that is, and let Huck Finn and Jim float that river on a FEMA raft.

That should have been prevented via usurious insurance rates, if the market had been permitted to work.

The Netherlands. With apologies to dutchmarbel, get thee to higher ground.

Bangladesh. The kabillions of people living there need to be evacuated to live under Glenn Beck's toupee, which is quite roomy in order to fit over that head full of Mussolinisms.

I always have thought that Paul at Wizbang did the best blog coverage.

He's still mighty angry.

Suffice it to say the city is a freaking mess, the local government is worthless, the state government is worthless and the Feds are worthless as well.

Can't say as I'd blame him.

It's a below sea level hole, next to the ocean, in a hurricane zone. It makes no sense to rebuild, instead of relocating. Unless you view the city as a sort of theme park, and the inhabitants as just convenient extras. In which case maybe we ought to deed the place to Disney, and let THEM handle the reconstruction... It would probably turn out a lot cleaner.

Sorry, but I've got to call time out on this Karl Rove crap. You cite a Froomkin piece, for god's sake, which in turns cites an unattributed name drop in the 8th or 9th paragraph of a NY Times piece, for even more god's sake. There has not been a story anywhere that I have seen confirming that Rove is in charge of or oversees this business, or has anything whatsoever to do with it.Donald Powell has been the point man for ages. Why not Colin Powell? Does anyone know that Colin Powell wants this task instead of hitting the salons?I'm ready to place my bet.
I live in New Orleans. My family's lived here for more than 200 years. It's a huge mess; lots of it was a huge mess before. In the opinion of most of us, the biggest holdup in recovery is that no one in their right mind would want to move here when there's a decent chance they will get their ass shot off.That is not Bush's responsibility to prevent, you know (despite that, the fed gov't has largely taken over the criminal justice system and the National Guard patrols the streets).You want to talk about the federal government dropping the ball, fine, I'm with you (but the La-Miss split is a lot more complex than you say). You want to be honest, you'll point out what an ineffectual fool Blanco has been, and what a destructively detached and incompetent gasbag Nagin has been (and the citizens of NO re-elected him).But to drop Rove into it is just ridiculous.
This place doesn't deserve to be a theme park. A lot of people would freeze in the winter if not for the pipelines running through here. But we are paying a huge price for incompetence at every single level of government, and a lot of it has not a damn thing to do with Bush.And the belief that all this is a plan to turn Louisiana conservative? Stupid. It's been conservative for generations, except for this city. And if black voting power has been negated, how do you think we got this jackass mayor, and William Jefferson, re-elected? You want to talk about reality down here?I'd like nothing better. But let's deal with reality.

Thanks Arthur for pointing out that NOLA is a lot more complicated problem than hilzoy allows, and that it isn't just Rove's fault.

There is a good discussion in the comments over at EdCone, especially relevant comments about sewer and water problems pointed out in this article.

So, rereading Brinkley's article, I see

And why are volunteers practically the only ones working to reconstruct homes in communities that may never again have sewage service, garbage collection or electricity?

Eventually, the volunteers' altruism turns to bewilderment and finally to outrage. They've been hoodwinked. The stalled recovery can't be blamed on bureaucratic inertia or red tape alone. Many volunteers come to understand what I've concluded is the heartless reality: The Bush administration actually wants these neighborhoods below sea level to die on the vine.

I see self-evident answers to the questions about why nobody is working on houses where there are no sewers, and the reason the neighborhoods below sea level are being neglected. When the sewers and water are extremely difficult to provide, why not work first on the areas that are most easily fixed? Don't create more demand for services that simply cannot be provided yet.

I don't think that is being a heartless conservative, I think it's just common sense.

At what point does work on the most easily fixed areas of the city stops and the work on the more difficult areas begin? Remember, it has been two years.

What the federal government is supposed to be good at is 'big picture' thinking, but I challenge anyone to point to such thinking where NOLA is involved.

The reason you don't find "big picture" thinking involved in rebuilding New Orleans is that anybody who does that kind of thinking ends up concluding that it's stark insanity to rebuild New Orleans. We're going to end up doing it anyway, for purely irrational political reasons, but don't expect irrational goals to be accomplished in rational ways.

And don't tell me about the Netherlands, you might notice that, unlike the Dutch, we are not suffering from a severe shortage of land.

DaveC said: I see self-evident answers to the questions about why nobody is working on houses where there are no sewers... .

In reference to:

And why are volunteers practically the only ones working to reconstruct homes in communities that may never again have sewage service, garbage collection or electricity?

Not to put on an ill-fitting Captain Obvious uniform, but Brinkley's use of 'again' would seem to indicate that these areas used to have basic infrastructure such as a sewage system (in addition to garbage collection and electricity - ain't 'civilization' grand?) Pre-Katrina Metro NOLA (even the 9th Ward) wasn't Calcutta.

Considering that the U.S. Gov't has bailed out landowners from hurricanes in Florida time after time after time, it should do the same for those living in New Orleans.

That said, I would be fine with the federal gov't announcing a policy of: we will no longer provide financial or other assistance to people who build their houses in areas that a prone to disasterous flooding or hurricanes as of X date.

The reason you don't find "big picture" thinking involved in rebuilding New Orleans is that anybody who does that kind of thinking ends up concluding that it's stark insanity to rebuild New Orleans.

Then 'big thinking' would be to put forth a proposal along those lines. Leadership is what the administration claims it does, and we see the gap between rhetoric and action clearly.

I've volunteered on physical and legal recovery efforts in NOLA and agree with Dr. Brinkley--the New Orleans area has been shamefully neglected.

In response to the argument not to relieve human suffering that results from known risks, doesn't that mean:

1. That if the Washington DC (where I live) or New York areas are again attacked by terrorists, the cities and those injured should be left to fend for themselves because it is evident from history and terrorists' statements that those places are likely to be hit again?

2. That if California is devastated by earthquakes, the destroyed areas and people who live in them should be abandoned because California is quite likely, if not certain, to have earthquakes?

3. That we should not spend precious blood and treasure trying to create humanitarian polities in places with a history of recividist barbarism?

If you reject principles 1-3, then you should support rebuilding New Orleans.
In fact, New Orleans arguably provides even a stronger case, because experts contend that what is needed to protect the city from flooding is entirely within human control while the risks in my other examples are not.

The fact of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of the destruction in the New Orleans area resulted from failures of the federal government to provide adequate flood protection. The continued neglect of the people who have suffered from this is unworthy of our nation.

The "it will just happen again, so why bother" argument is technically inaccurate and it is morally lazy. It is nothing more than an excuse to ignore a problem that can be prevented but may recur if it is ignored. I suspect many of those who make this argument would be first in line for help if hurricanes, terrorists or earthquakes come to their neighborhood. I doubt there will be people living in trailers for years in Marin County or McLean Virginia if something evil but predictable wipes these well-heeled communities out.

And if we are a decent nation, if disaster comes these people's way we'd be there to give them the help they need. Not the back of our hand.

When something like Katrina or 9/11 happens, we should all be in it together and for each other. Otherwise we're not very much of a country, are we?

Charlie Martel



which administration are you talking about? The federal government left it to the mayor of the City of New Orleans, and those he selected--who, after all, ought to know the place better than Bush, don't you think?-- to make those decisions. That's where the big thinking was supposed to come from on a new footprint. But he crapped out. I know, it's Bush's fault , and Brownie's, etc. All I can tell you is most people down here know there's more than enough blame to go around. But the people who run this place needed to create their plans and then seek the funding. They created no plan, and still demanded the funding. Any wonder there's plenty of skepticism around the country?

Bush made an absolutely stupid pledge. At least he's doing the right thing by not following through on it.

I am perfectly willing to have new homes be built for those who lost them in Katrina by federal dollars. Bailing out people hit by disasters has been Federalized to the point where it would be unfair not to do so for those victimized by hurricanes.

But not one Federal dollar should go to the insanity of rebuilding below sea level in a hurricane zone. Put the people's new houses somewhere else. You don't build new structures in California without requiring that they are designed to withstand moderate earthquakes. It's similarly insane to build a structure that would naturally be under water, and only avoids that fate through constant human intervention (the pumps).

which administration are you talking about? The federal government left it to the mayor of the City of New Orleans, and those he selected

The same administration that demanded that Blanco turn over everything to the federal government?

Arthur, I can accept your earlier statement about not painting a target on Rove for this, but the first letter in FEMA is Federal not Folks round here. And given that the sub sea level of NOLA is due in large part to wetlands degradation and channeling to ensure shipping passage, I'm at a loss how Ray Nagin was supposed to do something about that. And given that Louisana wetlands comprise of 30% of the United States total wetlands area, it seems that the big thinking would be on the part of the United States Government rather than an office on Perdido.

LJ-wetlands destruction is a long, complicated and multi-faceted problem, which first started when they built the river levees after the 1927 flood, and in doing so, prevented silt deposits. Since then it's been aggravated by many things, including oil pipeline dredging and the MRGO shipping channel. But those things were driven, and supported, by our local political class, which depended hugely on oil revenues(and still does) and at the time had a lot of clout in Congress.
Of course you're right, Nagin can't be blamed for that.Nor can Bush be blamed for the levees and floodwalls failing-all that crappy work was done over the course of 40 years. But it will take years and years to reverse the wetlands, if its reversible at all, and we don't have that time.Nor can we take time to wonder why Nagin didn't have bottled water and port-o-lets stored in the Superdome before he labeled it a shelter. The question was and is, what should we do now, in this lifetime? Nagin has to make some hard calls; he refuses to make any of them.Instead, he whines about being forgotten, calls murderers "knuckleheads" who "at least keep our brand in the public eye",says the market will determine what gets rebuilt (sound republican?) and travels the country raising money to run for Jefferson's seat.
I repeat, I'm no fan of Bush's or FEMA's. But these decisions are generally local, funded by the feds;that's how the country works.Don't get me started on Road Home Blanco.I'll go on for pages, but one thing I can tell you--Nagin himself wanted Bush to federalize the operation, to get looting under control and rescue organized.Blanco's refusal has infuriated him ever since.

But these decisions are generally local, funded by the feds;that's how the country works.

I think we agree on the hindsight part of this, but my point has nothing to do the decisions that were made, it is about the decisions that need to be made and the role of the federal government is to provide some mechanisms and some vision to deal with long term problems that were laid bare by Katrina. I don't know about your politics, but Brett has, iirc, been a strong supporter of the administration, so the 'geez, why don't the locals get their s**t together?' line is hypocritical, especially when the administration's leadership gets touted as a reason to support it.

Despite growing up 60 mins away from NO, I don't have the kind of fierce attachment to it, so I'm not demanding that it be brought back to the standards of pre-Katrina. But people who think that there is no need for any city where New Orleans stands display no understanding of how shipping and trade works, and even less of the actual facts of geography. New Orleans as a port and shipping trans shipment point not just a sop tossed out to people who lived in the 9th ward, but something that is a linchpin for the entire national economy and as such, it is the Bush administration which should show some leadership and vision. I challenge you or anyone else to point to one thing that the Bush administration has done that demonstrates even a preliminary grasp of these points.

But people who think that there is no need for any city where New Orleans stands display no understanding of how shipping and trade works, and even less of the actual facts of geography.

Quote again to hammer it in.

I'm not much of a geography guy, but it's pretty clear that it is not an option NOT to rebuild---way too much of the national economy depends on a port being there. (Now, how much to rebuild? That's a different question entirely, but muddy, limited focus thinking, from either side of the aisle, isn't going to do the country much good).

First off, let me say that for reasons of sentiment, history, and culture, of course I want to see NO rebuilt.

However, that being said, we may need to look at NO from a climatological and geographical viewpoint. From that viewpoint, we ought to consider replanning the area before we think about rebuilding it to pre-Katrina levels.

Geography is against the city. The only reason NO lasted as long as it did was because, besides the levies, there were barrier islands/wetlands, AND because the Mississippi river was constantly under control to keep it from shifting course, as it would have done left to its natural tendencies.

Climate change is also against the city. There will be, if not more hurricanes, more Category 4 and 5 hurricanes over the next few decades. Rebuild NO - esp. the barrier islands - and we will have more devastations, over and over again.

What would happen if we left NO to nature? If we don't redevelop the barrier islands, they'll go back to wetlands. If we let the Mississippi shift course, it'll flow somewhere else. A new equilibrium will form between what is, essentially, a giant swamp and the Gulf.

What about the port? Well, would it be possible to build a floating port facility? One that can be moved to follow the Mississippi as the river carves a new natural port area, and can also be moved away from approaching hurricanes?

Despite my nostalgia for NO-that-was, I do find it a bit odd that, just as we're beginning to accept the fact of global climate change, there are still people who want to rebuild a city right on one of the spots that GCC is going to change drastically.

What about the port? Well, would it be possible to build a floating port facility?

I don't think you appreciate the economic, engineering and social problems involved in that.

"... one of America's greatest cities."
Man, that must be a remarkably long list!

New York.
LA.
San Francisco.
Maybe, just maybe, Chicago.
And New Orleans.

Straight up, New Orleans is one of a very small number of absolutely irreplaceable cities in this country. There is no, absolutely no, other place like it, here or anywhere.

It's a below sea level hole, next to the ocean, in a hurricane zone. It makes no sense to rebuild, instead of relocating.

LA -- not enough water of its own to sustain it's population. Ditto for pretty much every major city in the Southwest -- Phoenix, Tuscon, Las Vegas, take your pick.

San Francisco is waiting to fall into the ocean.

Lots of the upper midwest is subject to extreme amounts of lake effect snow, each and every year. It costs a lot of money to plow that stuff.

Your comments also apply, pretty much as written, to the entire state of Florida.

Screw them all. Next them there's a problem, they can freaking move.

And, you know, look at a map. NOLA's not on the ocean. It's on a river. Half the major cities in the US are closer to blue water than NOLA is.

Unless you view the city as a sort of theme park, and the inhabitants as just convenient extras.

Hey, just set up a Pat O'Briens at Epcot. Serve up Hurricanes on tap, get a couple of piano players to crank out bad versions of "House of the Rising Sun" for the drunks, and it's just like being there.

Right?

I don't know the facts first-hand in Mississippi, but it looks as though state and municipal government are taking the lion's share of responsibility for getting things up and running, so that may be the difference.

The title of the piece was "Clout and Casinos Boost Gulfport's Rebuilding". Nuff said.

The inability of this nation to respond adequately to New Orleans after Katrina is nothing less than an utter failure of civil life. I don't a flying f*%k whether you want to pin that on the federal, state, local, or purely private level. It's an absolute failure, and we all share it.

I was in NOLA last March, a year and half after Katrina. There are vast areas -- square miles -- of the city which still do not have reliable electric and water service. The police force works out of trailers and used portable toilets when they have to evacuate their bowels.

It's the third world, and they are your neighbors and countrymen.

Or, just ignore everything I've said here and just listen to Charlie.

When something like Katrina or 9/11 happens, we should all be in it together and for each other. Otherwise we're not very much of a country, are we?

Thank you, Charlie.

I think we need more of that good old American can't do attitude.

Jamestown: Christ, whatta a buggy place, let's get outa here. And those are the dumbest looking birds I've ever seen.

The Nina, Pinta, the Santa Maria: A subsidized long jump off a short, flat pier. Sheesh.

Washington D. C.: Swampland. I remember some Republican shortly after the Gingrich horseshitolution expressing his goal of returning our Capital to a sleepy wetland hamlet by, I don't know, 1997.

Warren Buffet has famously said, after considering the sheer difficulty of making a profit in the airline industry, that if capitalists had been present at the Wright brothers' first flight they would have been well advised to shoot the plane down.

Couple of dreamers, those putzes.

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I ... wait, it's getting late and I need to clean out the gutters and call my accountant, so I'd better head back. What's the difference?"

Robert Frost, after Nurse Ratchit removed his poetry gland.

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I ... wait, it's getting late and I need to clean out the gutters and call my accountant, so I'd better head back. What's the difference?"

Badly need emoticon for wheezing, wiping-away-tears laughter.

LJ-Nothing I have said can be seen as a ringing endorsement, or any kind of endorsement, of the Bush administration. My question is, why do they have to show the leadership and have the ideas? What the hell do they know about the place, anyway? Two things have ever made New Orleans worthwhile--it's economic importance, which doesn't need to be proven to anyone with a brain and an AC/heater that uses natural gas; and it's distinctiveness, which I sure as hell don't need George Bush or anyone else to tell me about.
The port facility, pipelines/shipping channels are largely undamaged. Have been for quite a while. No federal ideas needed there. The residential neighborhoods are another matter-but we don't need any federal "ideas" there either.Wetlands repair? Great--talk to you in about a hundred years.We need people to think they'd like to live here (hence my point about the crime).We need federal money, and competent work by the Corps of Engineers;the rest should be planned by people who have a clue, which does not include Colin Powell, or James Baker, or George Bush--or Mrs. Clinton, or John Edwards or Nancy Pelosi.
That's my point- you want to use this problem as another reason to hammer Bush (so does Hilroy-why else throw in the bogus Rove point?), but it doesn't work. There's plenty of reasons to hammer him, if you like, but an unwillingness of the national government to come in here with anything more than an engineering blueprint for long-term flood control (which is what they're supposed to be doing already), ain't it.

Arthur,
I was responding to Brett's 2:53, and at any rate, a statement like

which administration are you talking about? The federal government left it to the mayor of the City of New Orleans, and those he selected--who, after all, ought to know the place better than Bush, don't you think?-- to make those decisions. That's where the big thinking was supposed to come from on a new footprint.

does not sound like a ringing statement of a critic of the administration.

As for the damage to the pipelines and the shipping facilities, Katrina was a near miss, and I don't see them surviving a direct hit, which is why everyone was watching the TV so closely for Hurricane Dean.

Furthermore, I agreed with your point about Rove (which was one line in the post, not a central pillar to hilzoy's argument, I think) And I would be interested to know who you think locally should be put in charge, if you were the putting in charge person. Though I didn't moot any candidates, I think that anyone you listed would have done a better job than Bush and Brownie. Throwing up those names as if I suggested them is a bit of a smoke screen.

And given that Florida has received approval for a 35 year, 8 billion dollar project to restore freshwater flow to the Everglades, you are being a bit hypocritical to suggest that the government can't do something similar for NOLA, especially when you acknowledge the economic importance of the port and pipeline facilities, but even if you argue that you also don't support the everglades project, it took lobbying by Landrieu and Vitter that shouldn't have been needed to get the Corps to consider closing the MRGO, something which should be started on immediately and doesn't lie in Nagin or Blanco's realm.

Russel, are you high on something? I've been to New Orleans, and I've been to Chicago, and they don't deserve to be mentioned in the same breath. Sure, NO was entertaining, in a dilapidated, dissolute kind of way, but a "great" city? Not on your life.

Liberal, "but Brett has, iirc, been a strong supporter of the administration,". No, you don't recall correctly. Admittedly, I'm not as virulent an opponent of the administration as most here, but I've on more than one occasion described Bush as, "The lesser of two evils, and not nearly so lesser as I'd hoped." I purely despise Bush, would be delighted if Democrats did manage to impeach him, and not only because it would distract them from doing anything destructive for the next year or so.

I just think the criticism of him here gets a little over the top occasionally.

Brett: , but I've on more than one occasion described Bush as, "The lesser of two evils, and not nearly so lesser as I'd hoped."

Anyone who can think of the Bush administration as the lesser of two evils is indeed a strong supporter, since their support for the Bush administration evidently overcomes all the evidence that the Bush administration is an utter disaster.

Russel, are you high on something?

Not these days.

I've been to New Orleans, and I've been to Chicago, and they don't deserve to be mentioned in the same breath. Sure, NO was entertaining, in a dilapidated, dissolute kind of way, but a "great" city? Not on your life.

To each his own.

Many folks look at NOLA and see nothing more than Mardi Gras, visiting businessmen getting hammered at Pat O'Briens, and drunken frat boys pissing in the alleys. In other words, NOLA's a great place to go slumming, but not good for much else.

Honi soit qui mal y pense.

Thanks -

Jes, "strong" is an adjective. It modifies "supporter", and implicitly indicates that we're not dealing with a binary distinction. In the context of this website, I suppose I'd be considered a Bush "supporter", despite conceding that he's committed impeachable acts, calling him a liar, and citing numerous points where I don't like his policies. In the context of THIS website, all it takes to be considered a Bush supporter is to not think him the focus of evil in the modern world.

But a "strong" supporter? Got me confused with Bart DePalma, I think.

But a "strong" supporter?

a strong defender, then.

i know you just told us how you're disappointed with him, but the vibe you give off is of someone who never tires of finding ways to say "stupid liberals. at least Bush isn't as bad as [some Dem or Dem position]". there's no fault in Bush that you don't seek to minimize by pointing out some Dem failing (imagined or otherwise). it's the reason i assume your middle name is tu quoque. and someone just slightly snarkier than i could say that you're objectively pro-Bush, even.

So, essentially, in order to not be, (In your view, anyway.) not just a defender, but a strong defender, of Bush, I'd have to show some evidence of liking Democrats? Sorry, not gonna happen. "A plague on both your houses!" is the closest I'm ever going to get to that.

The situation, from my point of view, is this: The two major parties have conspired to make successful third parties a practical impossiblity. (Though they don't mind letting people play at it as a pressure relief mechanism.) The two major parties are both about equally corrupt. On those points it's a wash.

I don't like income redistribution, I don't like gun control, I don't like censorship of political speech. And while the Democratic party makes noises about being better than the Republicans on the civil liberties it's not actively hostile to, even posters here must admit that's all it's been in practice: Noises.

Bush sucks so bad I'm in awe, but a Democrat might competently try to do things I really, really don't want done. If you think hating Democrats more than Republicans makes me a Republican booster, think it. It certainly won't be the only thing you're wrong about...

Brett,
I'm not trying to run you off, and apologies if you felt I misrepresented your position on the current administration, but when making the unexceptional point that the federal government has shown little to no leadership in dealing with the situation in NOLA, your riposte is to suggest that the federal government has no role in it comes across as a defense of the administration by stealth. It is also hard to imagine Bush getting impeached without a racheting up of the level of criticism of Bush, far beyond what the level expressed around here. Saying you want Bush impeached but you think the criticism is too shrill seems, at least to me, a bit strange.

And while the Democratic party makes noises about being better than the Republicans on the civil liberties it's not actively hostile to, even posters here must admit that's all it's been in practice: Noises.

Wow. Now this is the kind of pernicious tosh that really makes you sound like a strong supporter of Bush and of the Republicans. I think the problem is you're too intelligent and too well-informed not to know that Bush is a disaster of a President: so your strong support for him takes the form of attempting to claim that the Democrats would be just as bad.

I have a fantastic idea. (However, it's Friday, I had a glass of white wine with lunch and a cup of mocha coffee an hour ago, so I'm about as stoned as I get on weekdays.) As sane Republicans (in which category I'm sure Brett and Sebastian will be happy to know I include them both) are looking wistfully at the Democratic Party and going "see, they're just as bad as us", all sane Republicans should do a mass move to the Democratic Party.

Everyone in the Democratic Party can then do a step to the left, a jump to the right, a swing of the hips and bring your knees in tight, and form a new party.

Following that, send Riff-Raff and Magenta to collect everyone left in the Republican Party and take them home to the planet Transsexual in the far galaxy of Transylvania. Or just round them all up and fence them into Texas, whichever is faster.

HTH. HAND.

Jes, I think the whole point here is that Democrats have been in charge as Governor of Louisiana and mayor of New Orleans. And well look at what has happened. As Arthur noted, the National Guard has had to be called in to keep the peace in NOLA this year. The responsibility for local police departments, sewer and water, etc. is ultimately local. Now, it can be fairly argued that the Federal Govt has messed a bunch of stuff up, but that's not the only problem, unless you are only interested in Bush-bashing.

I'm a real, live Bush supporter. And I generally am a supporter of the President, regardless of party.

"Its hard work."

(Wish I had SNL clip of 2004 debates.)

Well, it is hard work, anyway.

A couple of interesting posts by Daniel Rothschild. (via Insty)

the primary problem they face is not a lack of funding, but the mass confusion created by federal, state, and local governments about the rules of the game when it comes to rebuilding

but the mass confusion created by federal, state, and local governments about the rules of the game when it comes to rebuilding

sounds like a situation that demands the kind of strong leadership Bush's supporters keep telling us he's so good at.

This is what passes for bold leadership.

By the way, I note that when Galveston was rebuilt (after the Category 4 hurricane that destroyed it), the people of Galveston actually had the sense to raise the land above sea level.

You think I'm wrong, Jes, or just wrong to point it out? Refresh my memory: When was the last time Congressional Democrats got into a big fight with Republicans over civil liberties? What's that I hear, crickets?

Sure, my wife's phone conversations with her family in the Philippines are at risk of being tapped. With the eager consent of Democrats, you notice. Meanwhile, the real civil liberties problems in this country, like prison rape, aren't even on the radar screen. That's because both major parties are cool with those horrible violations.

And there are major civil liberties where the Democrats are worse than the Republicans. Censorship of political speech. Violations of the Right to keep and bear arms. The takings clause.

No, a rational person can quite easily decide that somebody like Bush, as awful as he is, was the least bad of a pair of really, really bad choices. Though if I had it to do over again, Mickey Mouse might have gotten my write in. Didn't realize Bush was quite THAT unserious about going after terrorists.

I don't like income redistribution...

Unless it's upward, of course.

Defining a failure to redistribute income downwards as much as liberals would like to be "upwards" income redistribution doesn't make it so, Phil. Though, to be fair, there are government programs, such as farm subsidies, which could fairly be described as "upwards income redistribution"... See the Democrats on the front line, fighting to end them?

When was the last time Congressional Democrats got into a big fight with Republicans over civil liberties?

last year's Torture Bill
Senate: 1 R against, 32 D against.
House: 7 R against, 162 D against.

the recent FISA bill
Senate: 0 R against, 27 D against
House: 2 R against, 181 D against

so yes, the parties are exactly the same on civil rights.

That's your definition of a big fight? One where Democrats are split down the middle?
No, they're not exactly the same on civil rights. On some rights Democrats are better, on some, Republicans are. Overall? I think the Democrats are a bit worse than the Republicans. Perhaps that's because I care more about whether the BATF kicks down my door at 3:00AM, than if the government is listening in to overseas phone calls.

That's your definition of a big fight? One where Democrats are split down the middle?

so, essentially all of the Reps vote against civil rights in those two fights and you still try to make it about the Dems.

you just keep proving my point.

Now, it can be fairly argued that the Federal Govt has messed a bunch of stuff up, but that's not the only problem, unless you are only interested in Bush-bashing.

Couldn't agree with you more. There's plenty of blame to go around for lots of folks, going back decades.

My issue with the feds here is that federal money that has been allocated for Katrina relief is not making it to the folks it's intended for. As of March when I was in NOLA, something like 100+ "Road Home" program grants had been awarded, out of 100,000+ applications. To put a point on it, nobody at the federal level gives enough of a crap about the situation to make something happen. And yes, there is a federal responsibility.

I have two general issues with folks who say we should just let the city sink into the mud and start over.

Contra Brett, NOLA is an absolutely irreplaceable part of our history and culture. For many, many years it was the only significant place in the US, perhaps in North America, where African and Caribbean culture were allowed free expression. Either that's a heritage that you think is an important American legacy, and is worth acknowledging and treasuring, or you don't. I do.

The second issue is that, regardless of how "valuable" NOLA is to the rest of us, or not, thousands upon thousands of our countrymen and women had their lives destroyed through a natural disaster. Yes, lots of the city is lower than sea level. The plain fact is that many major American cities exist in places that either present significant natural risks, or which are otherwise incapable of sustaining populations of their size without more or less extraordinary measures. Nobody says they should be left to shift for themselves.

You and I both help pay to make sure LA, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and other major southwestern cities have water.

You and I helped pay to rebuild southern FL after hurricane Andrew.

If and when the "big one" hits the bay area, you and I will both pay to bail those folks out as well.

My personal opinion is that New Orleans has been neglected because it's a big blue dot in a red state, and because most of the folks who were hardest hit were black. Other folks may have other opinions on why so little has been done.

But I find it impossible to imagine that, if a disaster of similar magnitude hit any other American city of similar size and importance -- whether you want to measure that culturally, economically, or any other way -- that we would be sitting around, two years later, watching people trying to make a go of it in neighborhoods where the body counts were still spray-painted on the ruined shells of their neighbors homes.

It's been two damned years. It's a travesty, and we should all be ashamed.

Thanks -

Defining a failure to redistribute income downwards as much as liberals would like to be "upwards" income redistribution doesn't make it so, Phil.

You . . . crap, have to be charitable here. You don't actually understand what's been happening in our economy the last decade, do you?

And this would be funny if it weren't sad: And there are major civil liberties where the Democrats are worse than the Republicans. Censorship of political speech. Violations of the Right to keep and bear arms. The takings clause.

OK, as far as the first one, you also haven't been paying attention to, say, what's been happening to -- for example -- people who show up at Bush speeches and rallies with anti-war or anti-Bush signs and clothing, have you? (Don't answer, as you clearly haven't.) You really think that Al Franken is a bigger censor than Bill O'Reilly? Can I get away with "nigga pleez" here?

I'm pretty sure, also, that John McCain is not a Democrat, nor is George W. Bush, who merrily signed McCain-Feingold into law, figuring -- out loud! -- that, hey, if there's anything wrong with it, the Court will figger it out.

The second I won't bother with, because I support private ownership of arms but don't believe that any right in the Constitution is so plainly delineated that it has no restrictions or modifications implicit.

The third, well, you're a dogmatist rather than a thinker, so whatever, but the idea that any law that in any way keeps you from realizing the maximum theoretical commercial value of your property is a "taking," you're the liberal one. A conservative, strict constructionist view would, um, not be that one.

So, Phil, you think the few Republicans who conspired with Democrats to foist the "bipartisan" campaign reform act on us erase the fact that campaign censorship in the guise of "reform" is overwhelmingly a Democratic obsession?

Yes, Bush signed the damned bill, after promising a veto. Just one of the things I hold against him.

"but don't believe that any right in the Constitution is so plainly delineated that it has no restrictions or modifications implicit."

And the ambitions of Democratic gun banners, as demonstrated over and over, demonstrate that the "restrictions or modifications" they want amount to the right's complete abolition. Republicans proposed scaling back DC's gun laws, the harshest in the country, a bit, and Democrats called the amendment a "poison pill"!

Finally, the takings clause. You maybe noticed the Kelo case? Had nothing at all to do with regulation of commercial uses, and everything to do with taking private homes to hand them over to commercial interests?

Though, of course, the takings clause doesn't contain a "commercial uses" exemption. And regulations of use have frequently been used to transfer ownership to the government in all but name, without compensation.

But, of course, you leaped to the conclusion that I was talking about starting up a slaughterhouse in the middle of a residential neighborhood, or some such. Because Democrats, in general, don't want the takings clause to get in the way of anything they approve of.

But that's what rights do, Phil, if you take them seriously. They get in your way. If you only want them respected when they don't get in the way, when it's convenient, then you're not treating them as rights, just privileges.

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