Aftermath

Via America Blog comes this summary from Editor and Publisher.

This time, during a catastrophe, the president did not merely dither for seven minutes, but for three days, and his top advisors followed suit....

While a rising chorus in the press has taken the White House, FEMA and the Pentagon to task for performing miserably in their response to the human disaster on the Gulf Coast, few have focused on the most telling aspect of the entire failure. It's not just incompetence. It's a shameful lack of concern: The 9/11 "My Pet Goat" dithering on an administration-wide scale.

Simply stated, the president and his top advisers chose vacation over action.

While the media has done a good job in portraying the overall deadly failure of leadership, it has not focused enough on this deadly dereliction of duty....

This follows Bush himself remaining on vacation for more than two days after the storm hit, despite acknowledging this was the worst disaster in the nation's history. He did take a trip during those days, not back to Washington but out to San Diego to deliver a political speech comparing his Iraq war to World War II. It got little play because nearly everyone else in the country, besides his inner circle, was focused on New Orleans instead. If this didn't have fatal consequences one would be tempted to merely say: Serves him right.

But at least Bush did start heading home late Wednesday. As he did, Secretary of State Rice was still enjoying her vacation in New York.

In fact, that night she enjoyed a few good yucks while attending the silly Broadway play "Spamalot." Ironically, the Bush team's performance this week did indeed seem like something out of a Monty Python skit. Each, in his or her own way, took a bunch of "silly walks."

Condi also played tennis with Monica Seles and on Thursday went on a shoe-shopping spree on Fifth Avenue until a fellow customer yelled at her for not doing her job and bloggers exposed all of this. Then she hurriedly headed back to Washington. Turns out she was overdue in getting a grip on offers to help that were pouring in from overseas governments and organizations.

Paging Andrew Card: Turns out he was Bush's Maine man....

While the 9/11 "My Pet Goat" episode was certainly illuminating, it's not certain what might have worked out better that day had the president dropped the book and taken action. But his failure to grab the reins in the hurricane catastrophe for three days this week probably doomed hundreds, or more, to death.

Now certainly, the relevant local and (especially) state authorities deserve some blame here. But in a catastrophe of this magnitude, covering several states, an disaster area "the size of Great Britain" (George Bush's own description), simple common sense dictates that the buck ultimately stops with the federal government.

If I have any problem with this article, it is that I think the comparison made to "My Pet Goat" in fact minimizes the sheer incompetence of the administration's response. I've always felt the "My Pet Goat" criticism was a bit of cheap shot. Clearly, the Bush administration was, in fact, on top of the events of 9/11 within a day of them having occurred. In the aftermath of Katrina, charitably, one could say the response began on Wednesday night, but it was not until Friday that any sense was given that the government, a) understood the sheer magnitude of what had occurred, and b) was able to implement any kind of plan to mitigate its effects. So, in other words, what took less than 24 hours in the wake of 9/11 took four days in the case of Katrina, a disaster whose direct human and material costs is going to be much higher. Simply put, I had the feeling for much of this week that the federal government ceased to function.

Indeed, that the Bush administration and its various fellow travellers and PR flacs are right now so desperately trying to deflect blame - "we couldn't have anticipated this,""its Blanco's fault,""its Nagin's fault" (needless to say were not just talking about New Orleans or Louisiana here) - shows they know as much.

Tags: Republicans (all tags)

Comments

18 Comments

Sunday morning
I woke up Sunday morning to my parents watching CNN saying that a Category 5 hurricane was headed straight for New Orleans, and it would probably flood the city. I stayed up late that night flipping between CNN and the Weather Channel, hoping that the storm would miss, and wishing that there was something I could do.

The president of the United States, however, had the full resources of the federal government at his disposal. What did he do?

He stayed on vacation three more days, a dereliction of duty that warrants impeachment.

by Gpack3 2005-09-03 02:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Sunday morning
Wasn't it Saturday that the word went out that New Orleans was in real trouble?

And even after he returned from his "working vacation" (golf and playing guitar at fundraisers is hard work), he spent the next couple of days making excuses.

by jonweasel 2005-09-03 02:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Sunday morning
They knew for several days that area was screwed.  The plot was right on.
by jrflorida 2005-09-03 04:09PM | 0 recs
Well put, Ben
The Editor & Publisher article is damning and right on.  And it occurs to me that there are echoes in this disaster of Bush's lackadaisical response to the Asian Tsunami in December.

The American public is starting to see an ugly pattern in the administration's incompetence and devil-may-care attitude towards essential government functions.

by jonweasel 2005-09-03 02:44PM | 0 recs
Okay there is some wild speculation
and concerns going on with certain things being only partially reported. Some of which, I've heard. One of them is that at least 45 thousand people right now are missing. Now, as someone pointed out to me over at D Kos this could be because of any number of reasons, but this high number concerns me. A Republican Senator has said that the number of dead could go above 10,000 people, and that he said that maybe the floor. Now, over at D Kos they are saying that Mosley Braun, the former Senator from IL, is saying by phone on CNN that the administration maybe considering burying the dead in mass graves. I know this situation is horrible, but what the extent here? Just how many people died not only in the inniatial wave, but have died due fed negligence. These are all questions that are in my mind. OT: By the way, I have donated to the Red Cross, but am curious to get people's opinion about whether I should also donate to an organization like Habitat for Humanity (the survivors will eventually need housinig)?
by bruh21 2005-09-03 03:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Okay there is some wild speculation
How many people were plucked from rootops after fleeing to attics?  What is the likelihood that such an attempt to flee into an attic would be successful.  1) You have to be sure your attic is actually above water 2) You have to either be ready to survive there until the water goes down, some did not OR you have to be able to break through.  I challenge anyone to go up to their attic without tools and while pretending to be standing in and unknown depth of water bust through the roof. Granted some people actually prepositioned axes in their attic.  Why they didn't instead preposition themselves in Ohio I have no clue.  Clearly they thought it a possible scenario.  If you can't break through be prepared to survive the heat of the coming days.  Now I think making it into the attic would be an amazing feat given how tiny those holes are (and flimsy the ladders are).  So I think that ist is very possible that a lot of people died.

If you take the practical chances of accomplishing making it out and then count backwards how many could have chosen poorly?  I don't know what the percentage chance is of making it out through the attic route but I suspect we are about to see a real world calcualtion.

by jrflorida 2005-09-03 04:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Okay there is some wild speculation
I am concerned that the Red Cross is too easy to give money to.  It sounds good, but I have no confidence in them personally.  I would find an organization, like habitat for humanity... good choice.

P.S.  Watch out for OPERATION BLESSING .. it is Pat Robertson's group.  Need I say more?

by wmkrayer 2005-09-03 04:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Okay there is some wild speculation
Thanks, I think I will go with Habitat. I just heard them on CNN, and they fit my idea of what Christianity is about.
by bruh21 2005-09-03 05:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Okay there is some wild speculation
They better start building motor homes! Everybody and their uncle knows damn well that the housing bubble is more set to blow than that volcano in Alaska!
by blues 2005-09-03 07:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Okay there is some wild speculation
This will cause demand for housing.   I suspect this will be beneficial for that problem.  At least in certain areas.  Of course I don't know how the economic effect will drive down demand for housing because people will be concerned about their finances for a while.  Many gas stations are out of fuel here in North Florida.  That may change in time and people are driving on full tanks at the moment.  Give it a few days and no fuel and there will be issues.  Convenience stores will lose business, already are.  No one will be driving for fun and others will choose not to go into work and work from home.  In my case that removes my business from fast food places.  I know its eating into disposable income.  I'm not able to see it on the streets yet.   A few more days with reduced available or no availability of fuel on this area, otherwise unaffected by the storm, and I think it will show.
by jrflorida 2005-09-04 07:50AM | 0 recs
Orelans Parish is more than 10% of Louisana.
Orleans is a parish of 462,000 in a state of 4.52 million.  The idea that Louisiana should be able to handle a disaster that displaces more than ten percent of its population - at a minimum, as that does not count other parishes in a metropolitan area of 1.32 million - without federal help is ridiculous.

By that logic, the United States should be able to handle, easily, a disaster that displaces every resident of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas - at least.

And given the federal response in New Orleans, I very much doubt they could.

by Drew 2005-09-03 03:38PM | 0 recs
quick question
Anyone see Cheney yet?
by Adam B 2005-09-03 04:02PM | 0 recs
Re: quick question
As far as I know, he's still 'telecommuting' from Wyoming.
by Scott Shields 2005-09-03 04:13PM | 0 recs
Who is in Charge here?
I found this on democratic underground.  It seems that Bush was in charge, as usual.  Did he do anything?  Of course not, he was too busy reading a book, or was that humping for money?

"This was on the episode of BBC World News which played on a local (Philadelphia area) PBS station at 6:00 am this morning. I can't find a stream or transcript online. It's sitting on my TIVO right now marked do not delete but I have no way to put it onto my hard drive and no place to serve it from anyway. If you do have a recording of it, it starts about 9 minutes in. I've done a hand written transcript, the spelling and punctuation are mine. The bolding is also mine to emphasize what I think is the important part. The BBC announcer was interviewing Lieutenant Commander Sean Kelly whom she referred to as Leftenant Commander. This is the entire interview with no missing context.

Announcer: The relief operation is the largest ever conducted in America. It's being coordinated by the US Northern Command in Colorado. Leftenant Commander Sean Kelly explains how the relief effort is being organized.

Kelly: US Northern Command is the command that coordinates the military support for our federal and state agencies. They call up and request a capability and we try and provide that capability, whether it's medical resources, search and rescue helicopters, food, water, transportation, communications; that's what we provide.

A: So it sounds like you're providing a bit of everything. I mean, do you know how much you're actually providing?

K: Right now we've got 4,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and marine and coast guardsmen supporting this. They've delivered more than 9 million meals, I can't remember how many millions of liters of water.

A: 9 million meals? Do you actually have 9 million meals?

K: It's those "meals ready to eat". The packaged meals that the Army takes out with them out in the field. We have 9 million of 'em ready. I know at least 100,000 went to the Superdome the other night to help the people out there in New Orleans. So they're staged at various places throughout Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana.

A: Now I'm sure you're aware of the criticism that the authorities have been slow to respond to this. When did you get the order to start relied work?

K: NorthCom started planning before the storm even hit. We were ready for the storm when it hit Florida because, as you remember, it crossed the bottom part of Florida, and then we were plaining, you know, once it was pointed towards the Gulf Coast. So what we did was we activated what we call defense coordinating officers to work with the state to say okay, what do you think you'll need, and we set up staging bases that could be started. We had the USS Baton sailing almost behind the hurricane so that after the hurricane made landfall it's search and rescue helicopters would be available almost immediately. So we had things ready. The only caveat is, we have to wait until the President authorizes us to do so. The laws of the United States say that the military can't just act in this fashion, we have to wait for the President to give us permission.

A: Now I gather that your engineers are also involved in pumping some of that flood water out of the areas.

K: Yes, our military personnel are helping to reconstruct the levees which frees up the engineers to start pumping out the waters so that hopefully New Orleans can be high and dry soon enough."

So apparently everything was in position, waiting for Bush to do something.

by ntisuzi 2005-09-03 04:05PM | 0 recs
vacation time
Simply stated, the president and his top advisers chose vacation over action.

Anyone else wonder if it's a coincidence that the shit seems to hit the fan with Bush right around the end of his vacations? First we had "Bin Laden Determined to Strike Within the United States," which wasn't dealt with because brush needed cutting. Now we have this incident--I hope when Congress convenes hearings that they probe very deeply if there was a similar warning about the magnitude of the threat to New Orleans wending its way up the chain from a career expert or some other agency etc. I'm no expert, but it seems to me that no matter who was doing the shouting there's no way his handlers would have disturbed Mr. "Nobody thought the levees would break's" vacation over a mere hurricane. I mean it's pretty clear that there were several levels of responsibility below Bush who were incompetently cavalier about the peril, but even if they'd been engaged that couldn't have unleashed the resources required without presidential approval.

It's still clear Bush doesn't get it, yukking it up with Trent Lott and mugging for the cameras. Apart from the bone numbing loss of life and breakdown of society and exposure of the raw nerves of what's wrong with America (which can be fixed with what's right with America, make no mistake; just it's clear even more than I could have conceived that yep, Dubya doesn't fall under that latter category)--we are in real peril of losing a major American city. We've never lost part of the continental United States to an invader, but now because of bumbling and feckless indifference and an insistence on--what?? making sure the inheritance tax repeal is made permanent?? the jackasses running the country might just pull off what foreign enemies never could.

by KevStar 2005-09-03 04:19PM | 0 recs
Aftermath : Simplemath IT IS TIME FOR LEADERSHIP
The miserable response by the Bush administration should be no shock to any of us here.  I think though that there is a bigger story.  Our Congressmen and Senators have let Bush lead us into acceptance of the Department of Homeland Security. Everything changed all in the name of safety.  We were guaranteed that this system would in fact leave us prepared to have all government agencies act in concert with each other in case of a terrorist attack.  This terrorist was mother nature; she warned us in Miami with a category 1 and threatened louder each day: 2, 3, 4, 5.....  What next, an attack on the Sahara desert for being the launching ground for these horrific storms?  

Never mind the global warming that doesn't exist and the warmer waters that are the cause of something natural we just haven't figured out yet.  Good science, bad science... no science.

How anyone can say they did not see this coming is besides me.  Chertoff claiming that no one saw two catastrophes coming at once... nobody said anything about the potential of what would happen should a category 3 hit....GIVE ME A BREAK.  Simple math folks;  The Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project came to a halt in 2003 due to budget cuts.
http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001051313
Even though the warmer waters in the gulf, the engine behind a hurricane, was not good enough science for the Bush administration.  They are more concerned with intelligent design, as if intelligence drives any of their decisions.  Warmer waters, category three would devastate, category 4 heading for New Orleans ... and we didn't know this would happen.  Please!

Money cut from essential government programs designed to protect our citizens and the infrastructure that is our heritage.  What are we going to do when the earthquake finally hits San Francisco or Los Angeles?  What are we going to do when a terrorist really does hit us with a dirty bomb, or a God awful virus, or or or.... This current administration is more concerned about corporate loses, then human loses.  They secured New Orleans; secured &*(%$#!  Those people went nuts days after this happened.  How did the citizens of New Orleans take a back seat to preventing looting: who cares about a store full of soggy waste?  Please!

Now Halliburton gets a contract to rape us here: http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/business/3335685 isn't Iraq enough for the Bush, Cheney gravy train.  Can't wait till the profiteers are in full gear down there.  Look at the cost of gasoline.... what penalty will they pay when we finally determine the prices where illegally inflated.  Nothing.... they will be spanked and sent home with billions in profits that should be spent to help our fellow citizens.    

We are all being taken advantage of by an administration that has an agenda that will leave the majority of us at the whims of idiots.  Bush will be around for 3 more years and I am worried we can't survive with him there.  When done, he will retire and claim the spoils of his sleazy relationships.  If the heat is too much here, he will take the money and run.  He is the worst president in my time... I hope it stays that way!  

The Democrats need to start screaming at the top of their lungs: they need to get some backbone .... what is happening on so many issues is so wrong, one would have to be in a coma to not sense it.  We can no longer stand for this nonsense.  

2006 is around the corner and if Democrats can not take advantage of the realities around us, they do not deserve to be in office any more then these idiot republicans.  Perhaps a strong third party to weaken the voice of those to the right, and those in the middle, who are to complacent to realize that this is no time for compromise.

Howard Dean has been my hero for longer than many of you may have known he exist.  Take the damn muzzle off the man and start listening to him.  Take no prisoners... they don't.  They are raping elections with fraud, they are raping us all with dangerous spending of our tax dollars.  Tax cuts that benefit so few... trickle down my ass!  The environment is going to hell, the goodwill towards America is in the toilet ... and where are the Democrats.  

The Estate tax will be pushed through by Frist in a time when we are all distracted (THIS TUESDAY)..... simplemath my friends.... I have nothing left to give, the money must come from somewhere ... these folks don't need another break.  Oil companies do not need the break they received in the energy bill.  The highway bill is pork-plus..... who are the winners there?  How many contracts do we give Halliburton?  Which of Bush's buddies will get all these contracts?  What laws will they write to funnel the funds?  How many Democrats will stand against this madness, loud and clear?  The time is now or never!  

Wake up DNC ... your silence is deafening and you scare me.... I am starting to question your motives.  Bush is wrong for America and if you can't get a clear concise message across, with this idiot in office.... then give up and let God sort it out.... I'm sick of waiting for Democrats to be democrats..... SPEAK UP DAMNIT: the message should be clear!

by wmkrayer 2005-09-03 04:20PM | 0 recs
by Winston Smith 2005-09-03 06:25PM | 0 recs
not to be all obnoxious
but i really don't understand comments to the effect that Bush was so gosh darn splendiferous with 9/11.  once the towers came down, that thing was pretty much over in terms of trying to rescue folks.  as with New Orleans, Bush was utterly out of the loop only to emerge a few days later for a couple of nicely staged photo ops.  even assuming that he did not fuck up royally in preventing 9/11 (which is, i think, open to significant question), his response was, as best, cosmetic photo ops (oh my god!  is bravery is awe inspiring as he throws out that baseball!)
by slb 2005-09-04 03:29AM | 0 recs

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