Katrina - the shaming of America

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
#1
For those who don't have access to a print version of The Economist, thought this piece ( front cover headlined " The Shaming of America " might be of interest:

Source: http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=4370617
-------------------------extract--------------------------
The shaming of America

Sep 8th 2005

Hurricane Katrina has exposed both personal and structural weaknesses in America's government

EVEN America's many enemies around the world tend to accord it respect. It might be arrogant, overbearing and insensitive—but, by God, it can get things done.

Since Hurricane Katrina, the world's view of America has changed. The disaster has exposed some shocking truths about the place: the bitterness of its sharp racial divide, the abandonment of the dispossessed, the weakness of critical infrastructure. But the most astonishing and most shaming revelation has been of its government's failure to bring succour to its people at their time of greatest need.

----------------------

The article continues:

Blame for the shame
Natural disasters on this scale inevitably bring chaos and suffering. Katrina wreaked havoc over an area the size of Britain. And even the best-laid hurricane plans cannot deal with the quirks of human nature. People who live in areas prone to hurricanes tend to become blasé about storm warnings. This insouciance is native to New Orleans, where a lethal local cocktail is called The Hurricane. But none of that excuses government's failure.

Local government must shoulder some of the blame. The authorities in Louisiana have a reputation for confusion, inefficiency and worse. Different authorities are responsible for different levees, for example, and several close associates of the former mayor were recently indicted for corruption. Local incompetence exacerbated the disaster: in Orleans Parish, for instance, where 60,000 households do not own a car, hundreds of city buses which might have shipped out stranded people were left to be swamped by the rising waters.

Still, Washington is mostly at fault. The responsibility for mobilising the response to a disaster lies squarely with the federal government. And the responsibility for galvanising the federal government lies squarely with the president.

The administration's initial response recalled Donald Rumsfeld's reaction to the anarchy in Iraq: stuff happens. George Bush was listless and confused. Dick Cheney, the vice-president, remained on holiday in Wyoming. Condoleezza Rice, the highest ranking black in the country, saw a Broadway show, “Spamalot”, while New Orleans's poor looked out at the floodwaters. Mr Bush then added disingenuity to leaden-footedness, declaring that nobody had anticipated the breaching of the levees—even though people have been worrying about the possibility for years and an official report published in 2001 warned of impending disaster.

Mr Bush's personal weakness is shaming; but the structural failures in government that Katrina has revealed are perhaps more worrying. After September 11th Mr Bush poured billions into creating the Department of Homeland Security, but the department has flunked its first big test. It is a bureaucratic monstrosity that includes organisations as different as the Coast Guard and the immigration authorities and spends most of its energies in perpetual reorganisation. The department's focus on fighting terrorism has also distracted attention from coping with natural disasters, reducing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from a cabinet-level agency into a neglected stepchild. The best illustration of this is its boss: Michael Brown spent nine years at the Arabian Horse Association, before finally being eased out and joining FEMA as general counsel, brought in by its previous head, his college room-mate.
The Economist goes on to say:

Out of the depths
The polls suggest that the majority of people don't hold Mr Bush personally responsible for the bungling. Things are slowly improving on the ground. The federal government is pouring resources into the region, and ordinary Americans are opening their wallets to charities and their homes to refugees. But if Mr Bush is to rise to this occasion he needs to do more than take charge. He needs to make sure that America is better prepared for future calamities. This means rejigging his second-term agenda: downplaying favourite issues like Social Security reform and fixing the flaws in America's government that Katrina has exposed.

The most urgent task is to address the mess that is the Department of Homeland Security. He should upgrade FEMA and re-examine the wisdom of bundling disaster relief with terrorism prevention. He needs to confront the corrupt legislative culture in Washington: the job of the president is to look to the national interest rather than to reward his friends. If he managed to persuade Congress to regurgitate the pork in the transport bill, that would go a long way towards paying for rebuilding the levees. And he needs to start wielding his red pencil and exercising his right to veto bad legislation.

If Mr Bush addresses America's failings with the same vigour that he addressed Islamic terrorism in the wake of September 11th, he has a chance of reinvigorating his presidency and restoring respect in his country; if he doesn't, he will go the way of his father, limping wounded into retirement.
-----ends-----------------------------
For those who haven't come across it , The Economist has a circulation of 830,000 , of which around 300,000 copies are sold in the US.


Lee Shaver
 
#2
Shame on you Goatman, for quoting from that notorious lefty, America-hating rag, the ermmmmm.. Economist.


And I never knew that they sold over a third of their print in America.
 
#3
But the most astonishing and most shaming revelation has been of its government's failure to bring succour to its people at their time of greatest need.

Bring succour? They brought a scourge and boy did they ever use it:

** Chasing away would-be providers of relief who weren't affiliated with or sponsored by the US government.

** Involuntarily confining people in that hell-hole sports stadium.

** Refusing to disclose identities of persons in their "care" to those who would have provided real relief on the basis of sham solicitude for personal privacy.

** Cutting emergency communications of local officials apparently judged insufficiently pliable.
 
#5
WHAT DON'T THEY WANT YOU TO SEE?

The administration is routinely violating both the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of the press and a U.S. District Court restraining order.

Outside one house on Kentucky Street, a member of the Army 82nd Airborne Division summoned a reporter and photographer standing nearby and told them that if they took pictures or wrote a story about the body recovery process, he would take away their press credentials and kick them out of the state.

"No photos. No stories," said the man, wearing camouflage fatigues and a red beret.

On Saturday, after being challenged in court by CNN, the Bush administration agreed not to prevent the news media from following the effort to recover the bodies of Hurricane Katrina victims.

But on Monday, in the Bywater district, that assurance wasn't being followed....


As bodies recovered, reporters are told 'no photos, no stories'
Cecilia M. Vega, Chronicle Staff Writer

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/09/13/MNG3HEMQHG1.DTL
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
#6
bernoulli said:
Shame on you Goatman, for quoting from that notorious lefty, America-hating rag, the ermmmmm.. Economist.


And I never knew that they sold over a third of their print in America.
;-) aw gee Bernoulli.....that's me outed as a Pinko-LSE-tree huggin' Guardianisto then.....if a business journal like The Economiser is curling its editorial lip then I can only imagine what Libération and Bild are printing....


mind you, criticising US govt policy is kinda water off a duck's back these days, n'est-ce pas ?

Good luck to all those doing their damndest to make up for the politicos mistakes and lack of interest. Nuff said.


Lee Shaver
 
#7
My recollection from having been in the area in the past is that the area concerned is about the size of England & Wales. We are not talking about a bit of a breeze over Rainham marshes.
If I am correct, I am in no way surprised that things went awry. Those who should have given orders were overwhelmed at the scale of the problems. In a minor way, I recall the hurricane that struck SE England. Roads blocked - no one seemed to be doing anything. No power - no one seemed to be doing anything. As a motorist my attention was that roads should be cleared as top priority - sod the rest.
As an example of can do post the event look at what has been done about the wells and refineries in the Gulf - great recovery.
 
#8
oldredcap's correct about the much larger than you'd think scale of the disaster. Some folks along the delta...bayous...rivers and coasal areas including offshore islands...have had entire communities anf families lost.
No one to remember them...no on to notice they're gone...except for perhaps the taxman...

It's STILL a greater tradgey than is known...and the news blackout is perhaps to save aunt rea up north from seeing little lizza jane's poor bloated body being recovered from her home. Imagine little timmy watching the nightly news and seeing his granny carted out of her nursing home after a week with the rats and crabs. NO this is NOT for public consumption.

NO this will not be forgotten or overlooked or hid from those who will seek justice. Those officials who failed us and the bottom feeder predators who vitimized the weakest victims will someday stand in judgement...the sooner the better...but not trial by media please. Not vigilantes. Not today.

The humanity of the recovery should have dignity for the dead and the responders. Let 'em puke in private. Let 'em cry for the losses. As even this Nation loses a bit more innocence...let us hide our faces in shame
and not incite violence against law enforcement or military responders
to vent the outrage at the unnecessary waste of life and property.
 
#9
I can't help feeling that all this secrecy with the stiffs still to be recovered is in reality only preparation for cynically rigging the total loss of human life and presenting some sort of "acceptable" figure to the public.
Of course, I might be wrong, but I wouldn't put anything past Bush and his bunch of crooks, hucksters, shysters and con-men.

MsG
 
#10
Governments operate on precedent.

If the news people can be run off at bayonet point because some Army general (Russel Honore of the 82nd Airborne) claims that pictures of corpses offend his sense of propriety, that can only mean that the media can only report what the government chooses to allow.

At least until recently, these propositions enjoyed general acceptance in the USA:

1. Law-making power, about matters of federal cognizance, was vested in Congress, not the president or the armed forces.

2. Consistent with the US Constitution, no organ of the federal government has any business telling the press what it can and can't report.

3. The armed forces are forbidden to function as a domestic police agency.

That's off now. So we are treated to a spectacle which is somewhat novel here but would seem quite familiar in most any banana republic.
 
#11
Katrina is a disaster caused by nature and complicated by the incompetance of the city government. The death toll while high will not be anywhere near the 10,000 figure the mayor of NO used early on in the disaster. As for body recovery the military feel's there should be some respect for the dead. Same policy that we have for soldiers KIA in the sand box.
 
#12
Not_Whistlin_Dixie said:
Governments operate on precedent.

If the news people can be run off at bayonet point because some Army general (Russel Honore of the 82nd Airborne) claims that pictures of corpses offend his sense of propriety, that can only mean that the media can only report what the government chooses to allow.
He commands the 1st Army and is not part of the 82nd.
 
#13
"We're from the government and we're here to help." Help you die faster.


In the midst of administering chest compressions to a dying woman several days after Hurricane Katrina struck, Dr. Mark N. Perlmutter was ordered to stop by a federal official because he wasn't registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"I begged him to let me continue," said Perlmutter, who left his home and practice as an orthopedic surgeon in Pennsylvania to come to Louisiana and volunteer to care for hurricane victims. "People were dying, and I was the only doctor on the tarmac (at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport) where scores of nonresponsive patients lay on stretchers. Two patients died in front of me.

"I showed him (the U.S. Coast Guard official in charge) my medical credentials. I had tried to get through to FEMA for 12 hours the day before and finally gave up. I asked him to let me stay until I was replaced by another doctor, but he refused. He said he was afraid of being sued. I informed him about the Good Samaritan laws and asked him if he was willing to let people die so the government wouldn't be sued, but he would not back down. I had to leave."

.....

Perlmutter spent some time at the Department of Health and Hospital's operational center at Jimmy Swaggart Ministries before moving to the makeshift "Kmart Hospital" doctors established at an abandoned store to care for patients. After organizing an orthopedics room and setting up ventilators there, Perlmutter went back to the Swaggart Center and then to the LSU Pete Maravich Assembly Center's field hospital to care for patients being flown in from the New Orleans area.

"We saw elderly patients who had been off their medicine for days, diabetics without insulin going into shock, uncontrolled hypertension, patients with psychosis and other mental disorders, lots of diarrhea, dehydration and things you would expect. I slept on a patient cot there every night until I came home."


"Doctor says FEMA ordered him to stop treating hurricane victims" by LAURIE SMITH ANDERSON. 16 September 2005
http://2theadvocate.com/stories/091605/new_doctorordered001.shtml
 
#14
Dr. Bong Mui and his staff, evacuated with 300 patients after three hellish days at Chalmette Medical Center, arrived at the New Orleans airport, and were amazed to see hundreds of sick people. They offered to help. But, the doctor told CNN, FEMA officials said they were worried about legal liability. "They told us that, you know, you could help us by mopping the floor." And so they mopped, while people died around them. "I started crying," he recalled. "We felt like we could help, and were not allowed to do anything." (Watch the video of hundreds languishing sick at the airport...)

"Leadership vacuum stymied aid offers" 16 September 2005
http://edition.cnn.com/2005/US/09/15/katrina.response/

The article recounts other similar and equally infuriating episodes.
 
#15
I can assure you that the recited justification for thus chasing doctors away from the sick and the dying, the alleged fear of federal officials that they personally would incur civil liability for medical malpractice, is rubbish.

Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, the official himself is immune from tort liability for official malfeasance and nonfeasance; only the government itself can be impleaded as a defendant.

If these "public servants" really gave a damn about civil liability, they would have given some thought to the government's potential liability for whimsically and cruelly chasing away health care volunteers.
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
#16
Folks, posted for info...with no agenda....I guess there's nothing here that most people weren't already well aware of:

US government 'failed' on Katrina
All levels of the US government, from President Bush down, were at fault for the poor response to Hurricane Katrina, a leaked Congressional report says.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is singled out for particular criticism in the document, which is due to be published on Wednesday.

Overall, it says, the government's response was marked by "fecklessness, flailing and organisational paralysis".

The report, leaked to the US media, is one of several into the disaster.

Entitled "A Failure of Initiative", the 600-page document suggests something approaching a national disgrace, says the BBC's Justin Webb in Washington.

Produced by a special Republican-dominated House inquiry, it issues 90 separate findings.

"Our investigation revealed that Katrina was a national failure, an abdication of the most solemn obligation to provide for the common welfare," says the report's summary, seen by the Associated Press.

"At every level - individual, corporate, philanthropic and governmental - we failed to meet the challenge that was Katrina."

Prolonged suffering

According to reports, the document concludes:


Michael Chertoff implemented the emergency response systems "late, ineffectively or not at all", which delayed federal troops and supplies by as much as three days

White House staff were unable to effectively "substantiate, analyse and act on the information at its disposal", giving President Bush poor and incomplete counsel

Late decisions to issue mandatory evacuations by New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco led to deaths and prolonged suffering

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) suffered from a lack of trained and experienced personnel.

"If 9/11 was a failure of imagination, then Katrina was a failure of initiative,"
the report's summary states.

"In this instance, blinding lack of situational awareness and disjointed decision-making needlessly compounded and prolonged Katrina's horror."

'Path to failure'

The investigators said they "are left scratching our heads at the range of clumsiness and ineptitude that characterised government behaviour before and after this storm.

"If this is what happens when we have advance warning, we shudder to imagine the consequences when we do not."
President Bush, after a relatively strong start to this year, is suddenly faced by an immense political challenge with this report, our correspondent says.


Hurricane Katrina was one the worst natural disasters in US history, killing more than 1,300 people across five states when it hit last August. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced in its aftermath.
On Friday, Michael Brown - who quit as Fema chief after the disaster - told a Senate oversight panel that officials knew levees were breached in New Orleans much earlier than admitted but did not act swiftly enough.

He also criticised the Department of Homeland Security, which controls Fema, saying its policies had put his organisation on "a path to failure".

Mr Brown argued that the response to Hurricane Katrina would have been more effective if a terrorist had blown up one of the levees.

Natural disaster, he said, had become the "step-child" in the Department of Homeland Security.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/americas/4707536.stm

Published: 2006/02/13 05:55:03 GMT
Dog bites man......the main hope is that lessons identified will be LEARNED....hats off to all those who are STILL working to make good.


Lee Shaver
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
#18
hmmmm.....what's the word on this then Neo/T6 ?
Video shows Bush Katrina warning


Video showing President George W Bush being warned on the eve of Hurricane Katrina that the storm could breach New Orleans' flood defences has emerged.
The footage, obtained by the Associated Press, also shows Mr Bush being told of the risk to evacuees in the Superdome.

It appears to contradict Mr Bush's statement four days after Katrina hit, when he said: "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."

Critics say more could have been done sooner to evacuate the city.


I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees
George W Bush, speaking after the disaster

Speaking by video link from a room in his Texan holiday ranch on 28 August last year, Mr Bush is shown telling federal disaster officials: "We are fully prepared."

He does not ask any questions as the situation is outlined to him.

Along with the video, AP obtained transcripts of seven days of briefings relating to Katrina.

Clear warning

The footage does the president no favours, the BBC's Justin Webb reports from Washington.


It shows plainly worried officials telling Mr Bush very clearly before the storm hit that it could breach New Orleans' flood barriers.

In the past, the president has said nobody anticipated a breach but the video shows Michael Brown, the top emergency response official who has since resigned, saying the storm would be "a bad one, a big one".

"We're going to need everything that we can possibly muster, not only in this state and in the region, but the nation, to respond to this event," Mr Brown says.

He also gives a strong, clear warning that evacuees in the Superdome in New Orleans could not be given proper assistance.

'Very, very grave'

Another official, Max Mayfield of the National Hurricane Center, tells the final briefing that storm models predict minimal flooding inside New Orleans during the hurricane.


It surprises me that if there was that kind of awareness, why was the response so slow?
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin

But he adds that the possibility that anticlockwise winds and storm surges could cause the levees at Lake Pontchartrain to be overrun afterwards is "obviously a very, very grave concern".
His concern was borne out by events when levees collapsed, letting in the floodwater disastrously.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, shown the footage for the first time at a press conference, told Reuters he was "shocked" by what it revealed.

"It surprises me that if there was that kind of awareness, why was the response so slow?" he asked.

But Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said most transcripts of discussions had already been made available to congressional investigators examining the response to Katrina.

"There's nothing new or insightful on these tapes," he said.

Mr Bush has accepted he shared some of the responsibility for the flawed response to Katrina and the White House has talked of the "fog of war" rendering decision-making difficult.

Michael Brown told AP this week that he did not "buy the 'fog of war' defence".

"It was a fog of bureaucracy," he said
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/americas/4765058.stm

Published: 2006/03/02 11:02:44 GMT

..........old news...get over it ?

Le Chevre
 
#19
Goatman said:
hmmmm.....what's the word on this then Neo/T6 ?
Video shows Bush Katrina warning


Video showing President George W Bush being warned on the eve of Hurricane Katrina that the storm could breach New Orleans' flood defences has emerged.
The footage, obtained by the Associated Press, also shows Mr Bush being told of the risk to evacuees in the Superdome.

It appears to contradict Mr Bush's statement four days after Katrina hit, when he said: "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."

Critics say more could have been done sooner to evacuate the city.


I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees
George W Bush, speaking after the disaster

Speaking by video link from a room in his Texan holiday ranch on 28 August last year, Mr Bush is shown telling federal disaster officials: "We are fully prepared."

He does not ask any questions as the situation is outlined to him.

Along with the video, AP obtained transcripts of seven days of briefings relating to Katrina.

Clear warning

The footage does the president no favours, the BBC's Justin Webb reports from Washington.


It shows plainly worried officials telling Mr Bush very clearly before the storm hit that it could breach New Orleans' flood barriers.

In the past, the president has said nobody anticipated a breach but the video shows Michael Brown, the top emergency response official who has since resigned, saying the storm would be "a bad one, a big one".

"We're going to need everything that we can possibly muster, not only in this state and in the region, but the nation, to respond to this event," Mr Brown says.

He also gives a strong, clear warning that evacuees in the Superdome in New Orleans could not be given proper assistance.

'Very, very grave'

Another official, Max Mayfield of the National Hurricane Center, tells the final briefing that storm models predict minimal flooding inside New Orleans during the hurricane.


It surprises me that if there was that kind of awareness, why was the response so slow?
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin

But he adds that the possibility that anticlockwise winds and storm surges could cause the levees at Lake Pontchartrain to be overrun afterwards is "obviously a very, very grave concern".
His concern was borne out by events when levees collapsed, letting in the floodwater disastrously.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, shown the footage for the first time at a press conference, told Reuters he was "shocked" by what it revealed.

"It surprises me that if there was that kind of awareness, why was the response so slow?" he asked.

But Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said most transcripts of discussions had already been made available to congressional investigators examining the response to Katrina.

"There's nothing new or insightful on these tapes," he said.

Mr Bush has accepted he shared some of the responsibility for the flawed response to Katrina and the White House has talked of the "fog of war" rendering decision-making difficult.

Michael Brown told AP this week that he did not "buy the 'fog of war' defence".

"It was a fog of bureaucracy," he said
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/americas/4765058.stm

Published: 2006/03/02 11:02:44 GMT

..........old news...get over it ?

Le Chevre
Has already been met with the standard "fcuk you" response that comes from the White House every time they get caught with their pants down.
 
#20
Nawlins is going to be in trouble for decades.. less than half of the population has returned so far and not likely to attract any ' refugees ' back anytime soon.. Rebuilding is going on in ' White ' areas and the destroyed black area - which were slums and low rent fleatraps before, are too badly damaged to be ' rebuilt ' and in areas that suffered severe damage so that , realistically, they shouldn't be ' rebuilt ' only relocated [ assuming that the new structures will be built to a much higher standard which, of course, will price them out of the market for those who lived there previously.. etc., etc...]

Who has ' flooded ' into New Orleans are thousands of transient workers looking to make a buck on the tear down/build up phase almost exclusively illegal Hispanic workers from you know where who are the only ones willing to do the scut and nasty jobs for bottom dollar...Whites are ignoring them, Blacks are despising them and, of course, the ' locals' are crying that they take jobs away from the ' real Americans ' who could use the work but who don't want to work for that kind of low pay because they are being given lots more cash as displaced refugees/victims of Katrina..

total f**ked up mess that even Wild Co-Eds exposing their boobs at Mardi Gras won't fix..
don't be booking no vacation time for jumbalaya and jazz anytime soon...
 

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