Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Yet another thing to investigate in 2007!

OK Folks,

I've been traveling for the last several days and while I've seen a lot of the news I haven't been listening/watching as closely as I normally do until today. As I catch up on the news,
I'm increasingly disgusted by the Republican/Bush/Federal response to this disaster in New Orleans. First there is mounting evidence that FEMA was briefed BEFORE the hurricane hit, that the destruction of New Orleans would be a likely event (which is why the Mayor of that city ordered the mandatory evacuation). See this article from the Times-Picayun. See especially: "
Dr. Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center, said Sunday that officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, including FEMA Director Mike Brown and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, listened in on electronic briefings given by his staff in advance of Hurricane Katrina slamming Louisiana and Mississippi and were advised of the storm�s potential deadly effects. Mayfield said the strength of the storm and the potential disaster it could bring were made clear during both the briefings and in formal advisories, which warned of a storm surge capable of overtopping levees in New Orleans and winds strong enough to blow out windows of high-rise buildings. He said the briefings included information on expected wind speed, storm surge, rainfall and the potential for tornados to accompany the storm as it came ashore.... In the days before Katrina hit, Mayfield said, his staff also briefed FEMA, which under the Department of Homeland Security, at FEMA�s headquarters in Washington, D.C., its Region 6 office in Dallas and the Region 4 office in Atlanta about the potential effects of the storm. He said all of those briefings were logged in the hurricane center�s records."

Third, my Republican relatives are emailing furiously about how awful it is that the victims of this disaster are angry. Railing about "entitlement" (on the part of New Orleans' displaced population who are demanding more immediate aid) and "lawlessness" (i.e. the looting), my republican relatives hold up FOX News as the only place that isn't playing what they see as political games with the disaster.

Bush praises his FEMA director while journalists repeatedly show him to have lied about what he's done and shown him to be far slower to actually get to the city than either journalists, private rescue operations or local authorities (again, this despite several days warning that a hurricane large enough to breach New Orleans' sea walls was coming).

The situation got this bad because of the near sighted and narrow minded policies of modern conservatives. The suffering is being born by the poor (overwhelmingly African Americans) of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. The bill will be paid by tax payers in "Blue States" and "Swing States." But Bush will try to claim the credit! I think I have good idea WHY this sort of thing happens but that doesn't mean I should sit back and condone it or ignore it.

Shame on our government. Shame on those who make excuses for them. Shame on us all for our part in this!


Dr. Strangelove said...

It is clear that the Federal Government's preparation for and response to Hurricane Katrina was dreadful. Senators and Representatives of both parties have called for hearings, and now even President Bush is calling for an investigation of what went wrong with the Federal Gov't's response. But let's not be fooled: those who call for investigations of government misdeeds implicitly absolve themselves of responsibility for them.

Congressmen blame poor preparation for the failure, as though the consistent lack of funding from Congress over the past few decades had nothing to do with it. The President blames the "bureaucracy" for the failed response, as though lack of leadership from the White House had nothing to do with it. How easy it is to blame one's appointees and subordinates; how hard it is to accept that the responsibility lies with the policymakers.

But it's not about assigning blame; it's about changing the culture. The real danger is that the lesson of this disaster--that it was preventable--will not be heeded. LA Times reports that, for years, the President offered and the Congress consistently authorized less than half of what Louisiana requested for flood control measures. And the Army Corps of Engineers was denied funding for major renovation projects along the Mississippi to shore up levees and dams. All of this was done in the name of "responsible" budget-cutting. Now, for the benefit of saving a few hundred million each year, we will spend tens of billions to repair a disaster in which thousands are likely to have died. A false economy, indeed.

Let us pour money into projects for safety and infrastructure. And if this means we need to let some of the recent tax cuts for the wealthy sunset (as originally planned, by the way) then let's do that. Those who are taxed more should thank us; in the long run, we'll be saving them money. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And it costs a lot less too. Any politician who accepts "mea culpa" and calls for a strong reversal of our decades-long policy of neglect will get my vote.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Note on finances: Congress has already approved $10.5 Billion. Relief efforts are around $0.5 Billion per day. Another $40 Billion is expected in a request later this month. NY Times says it could top $100 Billion. That's $1 for every star in our galaxy. Truly, an astronomical figure.

Yesterday, Sen. Majority Leader Frist "hastily" postponed a scheduled vote to repeal the Estate Tax, a move that would have given $70 billion per year in tax breaks (once fully implemented) to the wealthiest 1% of the nation. At least they realize such a giveaway would look bad right now, even if they don't realize we actually need the money.

The Financial Times says that FEMA's core budget has been cut each year since it was absorbed by the Homeland Security Department in 2003, and they've lost 10% of their jobs, including one of its three emergency management teams. Furthermore, 75% of the funds FEMA provides to local preparedness and first-responder grants now go to terrorism-related activities, "even though a recent Government Accountability Office report quotes local officials as saying what they really need is money to prepare for natural disasters and accidents."

Of course, trimming the budget and the workforce is not the same as making it less effective. But clearly there was no attempt to enlarge its role. And by now I hope we all realize that we need to significantly increase the priority and funding we give to non-military homeland security and national defense projects like building higher dams.

Anonymous said...

And let's not forget the rest of us. We blame "government" but we cheered every tax cut and smiled (even if we opposed them) when we got our refunds. Most of us were blissfully unconcerned with the deteriorating infrastructure our tax cuts were allowing to worsen.  

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Bob Lewis said...

Have you guys either read / posted anything on the links between GWBush and Jeff Davis? The two have some remarkable coincidences going. I read a Jeff Davis bio last year and came to this conclusion ... but someone else beat me to it a few years back. Anyway I posted a little something on my blog about it a couple of days ago. Good job on this one btw, I'll link to yours on mine .... two of my loves, Simpsons and politics!

Anonymous said...

NPR just reported that Jefferson Davis' "presidential" library was destroyed by Katrina. FYI. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans