Friday, September 30, 2005

Floodwalls Built on Sand

NBC aired a report saying that there were questions about the strength of the floodwalls lining the 17th Street Canal when they were built ten yeas ago. You can read a print version here.
A 1998 ruling, by an administrative judge for the Corps' Board of Contract Appeals, shows that the contractor, Pittman Construction, told the Corps that the soil and the foundation for the walls were “not of sufficient strength, rigidity and stability” to build on.
For the last month the left has been blaming Bush personally for the levee failure saying that he cut funds that would have shored up the levees (although the levees did not fail, the floodwalls did).

Since Bill Clinton was president when the floodwalls were built I guess he must have been personally responsible instead. Clinton and political consultant James Carvell must have known all about the problem with the walls (actually, Carvell might have since this is his turf). Did they knowingly allow defective floodgates to be built out of racism or were they hoping that the walls would break during a Republican administration?

No, I don't take any of this seriously but I can make as good a case against Clinton as the left has been making against Bush. Maybe they should appologize. (ha!)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Cindy's Smiles

Stories vary on the attendance at last weekend's anti-war protests - everything from 2,000 to 250,000. The most widely carried wire service report quoted the organizer as saying that they met the goal of 100,000. This is meaningless since organizers always say that they met their targets. Regardless, it is obvious that they were short of the estimated million who protested at the start of the war.

The Instapundit pointed out that there is no real anti-war movement. No major politicians showed up and the protests are led by the anti-American left. Christopher Hitchens points out that they are not anti-war, they are anti-American.

Never the less, Cindy Sheehan had a bit of fun hugging Jesse Jackson from the rear. Check out her smile here.

Cindy has been doing a lot of smiling recently. Two days later she was still smiling when she was arrested for blocking the sidewalk.

Why was she smiling? She says that she was having fun plus:
There is another and more important reason that I was smiling. I had not genuinely smiled since Casey was killed in Iraq. I thought my hope was buried along with my son and I was in a pit of hopeless despair. Camp Casey gave me back my hope because America came out in huge numbers to support us and they raised their voices with ours in unison to take our country back and to hold this administration accountable for the lies and mistakes that are killing tens of thousands of innocent people. There were hundreds of thousands of regular Americans who came out to protest the war and Bush's policies this past Saturday. Hundreds of faithful Americans turned out for our interfaith religious service Sunday night next to the Washington Monument. The so-called religious right doesn't have a monopoly on God. I am so pleased that the people of America are becoming active participants in Democracy and America is ready to put their money where their collective mouths are: to bring our troops home and hold BushCo accountable. It is a wonderful thing to be doing something that makes a difference and it is a wonderful and miraculous thing to have my hope back. That is why I am smiling.
She hasn't smiled since Casey died? What was that goofy expression on her face when she pressed herself against Jackson?

Regardless, I think that the real reason that she was smiling was that she managed to attract a camera again. Her Saturday protest totally failed at getting press. It seems that everyone was paying attention to Hurricane Rita instead of Cindy. Cindy has this to say:
Now about Hurricane Rita: I woke up on Saturday morning filled with excitement. I knew that the rally and march were going to be amazing events and I was thrilled to be a part of them. I switched on the TV and turned on CNN and for 2 hours, I watched one of their reporters in front of the same downed tree and it wasn't even raining. I knew that there was a hurricane and it was damaging. At the point of the news cycle though, I thought CNN could be covering other news. 40 soldiers have been killed this month so far in Iraq and countless Iraqis have been killed. The war is still going on and the news has been dominated by hurricanes and the terrible aftermaths. I actually think the mainstream media has been doing a good job of pointing out the dropped balls in the Gulf States. However, CNN and other mainstream news outlets ALWAYS report other news besides the illegal occupation of Iraq.

[...] I was also disappointed that that tragedy superseded the protest coverage. Wolf Blitzer called our protests: Insignificant.
Saturday was the most important event in peace history in decades. The numbers were underreported and the wonderful energy was unreported by the mainstream media. With the MSM there will always be something more important than covering the atrocity of Iraq: Michael Jackson, Scott Peterson, Terry Schiavo, The Runaway Bride, etc. It is time we hold our media accountable, too. Balanced coverage of all issues and some investigative reporting would be extremely refreshing.

I am sorry for what seemed to be an insensitive remark about the people who were affected by Rita, but that was not my intention. I am very aware that the failed policies of the Bush administration have all put us in the same boat, so to speak, and we need to take responsibility for righting the wrongs here in our country and in Iraq.
To Cindy, everything has to be about her. If the MSM chooses to pay attention to a major storm instead of her protest then she wants to hold it accountable. And I'm at a loss at why she thinks that Bush is responsible for Rita.

Wolf Blitzer was right. The protests were insignificant. Cindy managed to rally her base but her support never went beyond that and she is 14 minutes and 59 seconds into her fifteen minutes of fame. Even a second arrest is unlikely to be very well covered.

Actually, I wouldn't have bothered writing about it if it wasn't for her smile.

Manufactured News

In the days after Katrina we were treated to daily reports of how quickly a city can sink into depravity. As the world looked on, we wondered how America could come to this? Of course, some were quick to respond that racism was somehow to blame.

If you were paying close attention you noticed that all of the reports came from one place - New Orleans. No where else was reporting this kind of lawlessness or violence. This raised a new question: what was different about New Orleans?

One difference was the level of reporting. Most of the hurricane's devastation was ignored in favor of shots of flooded streets. In the rush to find new stories, reporters repeated nearly anything that they were told, especially if it came from an authority figure.

Which is the second difference. Most city authorities try to downplay reports that make their city look bad. Not Mayor Nagin. Early on he was quoted as saying that the death toll would be 10,000 or more. What was his source for this? He made it up. As time went on, he found that he could get on Oprah by repeating the worst stories he had heard. On Sept. 6 he was on Oprah and told the world about piles of dead bodies and babies being raped at the Superdome. Police Chief Compass, who was also on Oprah, added more details about general lawlessness including alledging that the Ritz-Carlton hotel had been taken over by armed thugs and his own daughter had been raped there. Nothing of the kind happened.

The official murder count for the week of flooding was four - a typical week for New Orleans.

Articles about the misinformation have appeared but it is too late. America has been given a black eye. A lot of the foreign press including the BBC exaggerated the already-false stories. Any follow-up they do will be buried. The world now thinks of America as one storm away from barbarians.

Probably this is part of why Chief Compass resigned.

Congressional hearings began this week on what went wrong. I wonder how closely they will look at the stream of mis-information and its source. Mayor Nagin might get another national TV interview yet.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Democrats Roberts Problem

John Roberts is well-qualified for the post of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. By all expectations he will be more moderate than Justice Renquist which will move the court slightly to the center. During his hearing Roberts came near to promising that he would respect the precedent of RoeVsWade. Nothing in his background is controversial which was implicitly acknowledged when the Democrats demanded privledged documents.

Given all of this, there is no valid reason to oppose Roberts' confirmation. Democrats should go ahead and vote him in and thank the stars that Bush didn't nominate Scalia or Thomas for Chief Justice. Most Democrats in the Senate know this.

But this response has the far left really upset. Posters on Huffington and elsewhere want a real fight. They want blood. Groups such as MoveOn are egging them on. One column on Huffington wanted to know what good an opposition party is if it doesn't oppose? Another complains that the Democrats always promise to fight the next battle but not the current one.

None of these people give any good reasons for opposing Roberts. The implication is that anyone Bush nominates must be unacceptable just because Bush nominated him.

This creates a big problem for Senate Democrats. If they don't fight Roberts then they anger the left wing that is spoiling for a battle.

On the other hand, if they oppose Roberts then they lose the public relations battle with the rest of the country. After all, if they oppose Roberts they will oppose anyone Bush nominates.

As the winner of the election, Bush gets to nominate justices. This is not a surprise - it was a campaign issue. That means that Bush gets to change the makeup of the court and with a Republican majority in the Senate it means that any qualified nominee should be confirmed.

If the Senate Democrats give in to the extremist wing then they are handing Bush a PR win in the fight to replace O'Connor. If they don't they risk offending MoveOn, Soros, and a vocal minority.

Just as with Cindy Sheehan's anti-war crusade, the anti-Roberts push will alienate moderate (electable) Democrats from the radical left.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Democrat's Cindy Problem - part II

If I was a congressional Democrat, chances are that I would be hoping for Cindy Sheehan's anti-war campaign to flame out and blow away. After failing to talk with President Bush, she now announced that she expects every member of Congress to meet with her to answer these "simple" questions:
  • President Bush has said that brave Americans like my son Casey have died for a "noble cause." What is that "noble cause "?
  • How many more lives are we as a country willing to sacrifice in Iraq?
  • How many are you personally willing to sacrifice?
  • What are you specifically doing to bring our sons and daughters home from this needless war?
The catch here is that Cindy has already decided what answers are acceptable so even members of Congress who meet with here can end up on her Hall of Fame and Shame. In fact, a meeting can end up looking worse than refusing to meet. Dianne Feinstein had an aid meet with Cindy. This earned Feinstein an entry detailing how rude the aid was and why Cindy rejected Feinstein's responses. Compare this long entry with the one-sentence entries for DeLay and Hastert.

By most measures Dianne Feinstein is one of Congress's more liberal members and a frequent critic of President Bush. That is not enough for Cindy. She gives negative marks to anyone who does not endorse her position of "bring the troops home now".

Likely 2008 candidate, Hillary Clinton has scheduled a meeting with Cindy. It is hard to see how this can go well. Either Hillary will endorse Cindy's position and apologies for her pro-war votes or Cindy will denounce her. While this will help Hillary position herself as a moderate, the moderates are not paying attention right now. It is the anti-war, anti-Bush, Howard Dean faction that is watching and they already dislike Hillary. This could turn into white-hot hatred if Hillary is not careful.

Cindy has a big anti-war rally scheduled for this weekend. The best thing that could happen for Hillary would be if Hurricane Rita takes up all of the media's attention. Since Katrina, Cindy's road show has been starved for ink. The only mention they got in weeks was when the NYPD shut them down for not having a permit (there has been speculation that they didn't get a permit in order to get coverage). If Cindy is not able to generate any further coverage her supporters will move on elsewhere.

That still doesn't address a central problem that the Democrats have had since McGovern - no one trusts them to keep the country safe. Prior to McGovern there were a lot of hawks in the Democratic Party and the anti-war people were non-aligned. While it makes sense to pick up a big voting block like the anti-war crowd, they are not the majority. When Americans feel threatened they turn away from the party of peace and appeasement. The only two democrats elected since McGovern ran during times when Americans felt safe enough that economics were the main issue.

At some point the Democrats will have to eject their anti-war wing, especially the Cindy Sheehan fanatics. They are too unrealistic to ever be trusted with the country and they drag the party down with them.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Katrina Myths

This article should put to rest any rumors that the Bush administration was responsible for the levy failures that flooded New Orleans.
Louisiana's top hurricane experts have rejected the official explanations for the floodwall collapses that inundated much of New Orleans, concluding that Hurricane Katrina's storm surges were much smaller than authorities have suggested and that the city's flood-protection system should have kept most of the city dry.

[...] But with the help of complex computer models and stark visual evidence, scientists and engineers at Louisiana State University's Hurricane Center have concluded that Katrina's surges did not come close to overtopping those barriers. That would make faulty design, inadequate construction or some combination of the two the likely cause of the breaching of the floodwalls along the 17th Street and London Avenue canals — and the flooding of most of New Orleans.
Nothing here about inadequate funding. The implication is that corrupt contractors used inferior materials.

Also, the MSM made a lot of jokes about Bush's statement that no one expected the levees to break. Here's confirmation further down the same article:
Former senator J. Bennett Johnston (D-La.) said he remembers numerous briefings from Corps officials about the danger of a hurricane overtopping the New Orleans levees. But he says he never envisioned a scenario like this one. "This came as a surprise," he said.
Another myth is that the federal government was slow or just didn't care about the people still in New Orleans. It has been poorly reported (I think that it was limited to Fox News) but the Red Cross and the Salvation Army were prevented from bringing in food and water. Here is an account.

Given the endless hyping of the 10,000 dead figure and numerous descriptions of bloated corpses floating in the water when both were highly exaggerated it is obvious that the MSM wrote their narative before the storm had lifted. Bush and the federal government were going to be pictured as failing to help the common people. As with any good story, reporters hate to let the facts get in the way.

Bush didn't help matters by waiting so long before being seen being involved. He should have cleared his schedule the day the hurricane hit and he should have made a tour of the destruction before returning to the White House instead of looking down from Air Force One.

With another major hurricane heading for Texas, we will see what happens. The new narative might be how much improved federal response is or how much better Texas authorities handle a disaster than Louisiana authorities.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Debating the War

Last week Christopher Hitchens debated George Galloway on the Iraq war. This is an interesting matchup. Hitchens is a former leftist turned neoconservative. Galloway, an unreformed leftist, is a MP representing the most Moslem district in Britian. He is currently on an anti-war tour of the US with Jane Fonda.

Eric Alterman has this to say about the debate:
I was disgusted to watch the Hitchens/Galloway debate on CSPAN yesterday. Both are brilliant debaters without much care whether the points they are making are consistent with the known evidence. Galloway is a considerably more offensive individual, and while he’s right about much of what he says regarding Iraq, he’s right for all the wrong reasons. He is the face of that part of the global left that really does abhor democracy and blames Israel for everything.
Alterman's description of Galoway is rather mild. He was ejected from the Labour party for encouraging Iraqi insurgents to kill British soldiers. He has also been implicated as a recipient of nearly a half million dollars in oil-for-food bribes.

A transcript of the debate is here. A couple of Galloway's points stand out. Here is the first:
Are you with the foreign occupation of Iraq, or are you with the right of the Iraqi people to be free and to resist the foreign armies who have violently invaded them.
Saddam attempted genocide against his own people but Galloway refuses to recognize this. Then of course, there is the paradox that the US will leave when the resistance ends.

And the second:
It won't matter, how many fly-swats we invest in, how many PATRIOT Acts we pass, how many anti-terrorist measures we pass. If you live beside a swamp, no amount of fly-swats will protect you from the monsters who will come out of that swamp. We have to drain that swamp by stopping that support for Sharon's Israel, his apartheid war, his crimes against the Palestinians.
It all comes down to the Jews. Saudis killed Americans in order to help Palestinians agaisnt Israel.

Cindy Shehan has said things very similar to both of these statements and she continues to be the most visible face of the anti-war movement.

So, when Eric Alterman says that Galloway is right for the wrong reasons, what does he expect? Why are the anti-war leaders also anti-democracy?

Then there is the anti-semitism. Ever since September 12, 2001, the left has been making noises about root causes. This is usually thinly disguised code to mean that we should cut all ties with Israel.

I read the influential blogs from both the far-right and the far-left. What the right says in private is pretty much the same thing that they say in public. The far-left, on the other hand, feels the need to clean up their language. Shehan disowned some of her statements. The anti-war group International ANSWER is a front for socialists.

Then there is the logical disconnect within the anti-war movement. Four years ago the woman's group Not In Our Name was demonstrating in favor of the Taliban. How in heaven's name can any American woman say anything in favor of the Taliban? The same is true when Shehan acts as though Iraq was a paradise prior to the US invasion. Galloway has gone as far as suggesting that the socialists and the Islamists make a common cause against the West.

The people opposing the war need to look more closely at the adgenda being pushed by their leaders. I doubt that most people who oppose the war ethically are in favor of the socialist platform they are supporting.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

How Low Can They Go?

Starting slightly before Hurricane Katrina his the Gulf Coast, the left descided to blame as much as they could on Bush. They started by blaming the storm itself on Bush. If only he had signed the Kyoto Protocals, the storm would have been a gentle shower.

There were lots of recriminations about the speed of the response. News viewers saw the Mayor of New Orleans in the packed Superdome asking where reliefe workers were when they had been turned away, either on his orders or the Governor's orders. They feared that people would not leave the Superdome if they had food and water.

The left found some recent figures on money spent on levees and concluded that Bush cut flood-control funds to pay for Iraq.

They also insisted that the reason that the federal response was so slow was because everyone in the National Guard was in Iraq.

Or that no one wanted to mobilize troops to help poor blacks. This got a lot of attention.

Most recently, posters at the DailyKOS announced that Bush had the Army Corp of Engineers blow the levees. This was echoed by Louis Farrakhan:

Farrakhan also shared his thoughts on how the levee breached in the first place.

"I heard from a very reliable source who saw a 25 foot deep crater under the levee breach. It may have been blown up to destroy the black part of town and keep the white part dry," Farrakhan said.

Conspiracy theorists point out that the poor black areas received the worst ofthe flooding while the rich white areas and the tourist spots received little damage. The French Quarter might even be open by this weekend.

So is there anything to the allegations? Of course not.

First, the areas hit hardest are the lowest ones. The older and richer parts of the city are built on higher ground.

Second, the 25 foot crater is a myth. Here's what the Army Corp of Engineers says:

Floodwalls were breached in the 17th Street Canal, at two places in the London Avenue Canal, and at two places in the Industrial Canal, Suhayda said. Naomi said last week that one of the Industrial Canal breaches likely was caused by a loose barge that broke through it.

Suhayda said that his inspection of the debris from the 17th Street Canal breach suggests the wall simply gave way. "It looks to have been laterally pushed, not scoured in back with dirt being removed in pieces," he said. "You can see levee material, some distance pushed inside the floodwall area, like a bulldozer pushed it."
And finally, it appears that someone starts saying that the flooding was deliberate whenever the city floods. Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu remembers a 1957 hurricane:

But Betsy passed far enough away to the west so that the waters of Lake Borgne and Lake Ponchatrain, which normally caress the city limits, were not pushed up into the city by fierce winds, overpowering levees and flood walls. This was everyone’s nightmare scenario. Even so there was serious damage. My grandmother’s house in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward was flooded to about four feet. Dark rumors flew that city officials had colluded to dynamite the levee, thereby taking the pressure off the rest of the city while abandoning the “poor folks” to their fates. “I heard dat explosion,” one on Grandmother’s neighbors told me, with great intensity. The perennial state of bureaucratic corruption that characterizes New Orleans politics lent credibility to the rumor, although nothing city officials had accomplished to date would support the degree of proficiency necessary to accomplish such a complex task as picking the exact spot to blow the levee and the precise charge with which to accomplish the mission.
Just like the "stolen election", this will go into urban myth, releated by Bush detractors and believed by too many.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Staying On-Message and Anti-Bush

In 1992 Hurricane Andrew swept over Florida. Not long after the governor (Jeb Bush's Democrat predecessor) complained to the media that the federal government was being slow to respond. This got the headlines. The fact that the governor was slow to request aid was relegated to the bottom of an inside page. This added to the perception that G. W. H. Bush was aloof and out-of-touch and contributed to his defeat that November.

I doubt that any Democratic operatives have forgotten this. They have been working overtime, with some success, to create the same impression about G. W. Bush and Katrina. Even before the floodwaters started rising in New Orleans, the far left was blaming Bush. At that point, the best that they could come up with was global warming. If Bush had only joined Kyoto a few months earlier then the oceans would have cooled and the storm would have been a gentle breeze.

Next they started insisting that Iraq had drained so many troops from the National Guard that they were unable to respond to a domestic crisis. This had as much basis as the global warming theory - none.

Then they struck paydirt. Bush had cut funds for levee work. It didn't matter that this would have been a 20-40 year plan that could not possibly have made a difference so soon or that the levee that failed was upgraded just this Summer. They had something that they could pin on Bush.

Things got even better when the Mayor of New Orleans started complaining about the slowness of relief workers. It didn't matter that his police force had lost control of the city and that relief workers had turned back in the face of gunfire. It also didn't matter that the Governor of Louisiana had been reluctant to authorize federal control. She worried (with cause) that once the feds took over they would blame the current mess on the state and local authorities (the ones in charge to that point).

So far most of the MSM has taken the lazy route and followed the Democrat's pre-written storyline. There has been a lot of coverage that Bush cut levee funds. Much less covered is that presidents have been cutting levee funds since Jimmy Carter. Also not reported is that there was a floodgate project proposed in 1977 that would have made the levees proof against a Category 5 storm. This was stopped by environmentalists.

Here is one timeline supporting the left's storyline. While much of it is accurate, it has some significant omissions. Bush declared a state of emergency on Saturday, August 27 and was urging residents to evacuate on Sunday, August 28.

Democrats are also playing "gotcha", trying to find quotes that prove people knew that the levees would fail. This is an example: the Think Progress timeline has this headline, "LOUISIANA NEWSPAPER SIGNALS LEVEES MAY GIVE". If you read the linked story you find that what it really says is:
Forecasters feared Sunday afternoon that storm driven waters will lap over the New Orleans levees when monster Hurricane Katrina pushes past the Crescent City tomorrow.

“Some levees in the Greater New Orleans area could be overtopped,” he said.

The model showed a storm surge of as much as 16 feet moving up the Mississippi River and topping levees in Chalmette and New Orleans. High water flowing from Lake Pontchartrain through St. Charles Parish would also flood over levees into Kenner.

I hope I don't have to explain the difference between a storm surge coming over the top of a levee and a levee collapsing.

The Sep. 6 Daily Show had a similar "gotcha". They showed a levee engineer talking about flooding and told us that she was predicting levee collapse.

This sums up the problem with the Democrats' storyline. It just isn't true.

Similarly, the MSM has spent most of its efforts reporting on New Orleans. This is understandable. It is the largest city affected and it continues to be a developing story. The rest of Katrina's devistation consists of flattened communities, just like any other major hurricane.

The focus on New Orleans allows activists to insist that Bush is moving slowly because the victims are poor and black. while this is true of the thousands of people left in New Orleans, it ignores the areas hit hardest by Katrina. This includes the whitest counties in Mississippi. In this case, the Democrats don't even have to write the storyline. They can just react to the newscasts.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Don't Blame Bush

It turns out, Bush cannot possibly be blamed for the flooding in New Orleans. The section of levee that gave way was renovated just this Summer. It was thick cement instead of packed earth. The engineers in charge admit that this was the section they thought was least likely to fail.

Worse for the editorial writers were statements by the chief engineer of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lt. Gen Carl Strock: "I don't see that the level of funding was really a contributing factor in this case. Had this project been fully complete, it is my opinion that based on the intensity of this storm that the flooding of the business district and the French Quarter would have still taken place."
See more here including a discussion about Louisiana's sinking coastline.

This article looks at our current vulnerability to hurricane strikes because of the amount of development in danger zones.
Adjusted to 2004 dollars, Hurricane Andrew of 1992 was the costliest hurricane on record, at about $44 billion. It remains to be seen whether the Katrina event will exceed this record. If it does, it will be more attributable to the desire of so many people to live and build in coastal areas than to the inherent strength of the hurricane itself. Indeed, if we ask the question, "which land falling hurricane in U.S. history would be the most expensive if it happened today?" the clear front-runner would be the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926. It is estimated that, if that hurricane occurred today, the costs would reach about $110 billion.

Plenty of Blame to Go Around

The Huffington Post and the Democratic Underground are blaming everything that went wrong on Bush. Their reasoning - he cut money for levees and he folded FEEMA into Homeland Security. They also think that he caused global warming which caused the storm.

In reverse order, even if you do believe that global warming is happening, Kyoto is not meant to stop it, only to slow it slightly. Since it just went into effect this year, there is no way it could have mitigated Katrina. Other data shows that big hurricanes happen.

Feema and Homeland Security seem like a good fit to me. There is not a lot of difference between responding to a man-made disaster and a natural one.

As for the levees, piling up dirt to hold back huge bodies of water is a bad idea. The levees are in constant need of repair. When one fails it fails spectacularly.

Now, this is where the blame starts spreading. The Huffposties point out that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the top three predicted disasters. There was also talk a year ago of doing a new four year study on New Orleans surviving a category 4 or 5 hurricane.

This does not prove what the Huffposties think it does. If anyone knew about the danger of levees breaking, it would be the mayor. The current Mayor says that he did not expect it. The same is true of his predecessor. I believe them. The disaster plans only make sense if you assume that the levees will hold and the pumps will work.

The plan has worked before. The last time a hurricane hit near New Orleans it dumped a lot of water on the city. Parts flooded but the levees held and the pumps got rid of the water. People only had to stay in the Superdome for a few days.

That's what they expected this time. That's why they let so many people stay behind and why the Superdome is so poorly stocked.

This points to failures that go back much earlier than Bush. In fact, it was recognized when New Orleans was founded that it is in an unsafe place.

Then there is what I sad earlier about levees being a bad idea. This is especially true when the levees sink on their own and have to be constantly added to.

The trouble is that no one will tell people who are living in an unsafe place to move. Consider this exchange in Huffpost

"Americans' hearts go out to the people in Katrina's path... But if the people of New Orleans and other low-lying areas insist on living in harm's way, they ought to accept responsibility for what happens to them and their property."
from a Waterbury, Conn., Republican-American newspaper editorial Wednesday, echoed by House Speaker Dennis Hastert in the Chicago Daily Herald Thursday, who said rebuilding New Orleans "doesn't make sense to me."

"That's like saying we should shut down Los Angeles because it's built in an earthquake zone... Or like saying that after the Great Chicago fire of 1871, the U.S. government should have just abandoned the city."
former Sen. John Breaux, D-La., responding to Hastert's comments.

Yes it is, senator and we need to be aware that large sections of California will eventually be destroyed. There are estimates that it will cost as much as the entire US GNP to de-contaminate and rebuild New Orleans. Is this a cost that we can bear?

An additional problem is the number of people who decided to ride out the storm. Glenn Reynolds has complained before about hurricane hype. News stations boost ratings by telling you that storms are stronger than they are. When a real monster comes, people don't give it proper respect because they think they have been through a similar one before.

But the real blame goes to random chance. Higher than expected waters breached the levees. It should have been expected but it was not. Everyone knew that it would happen eventually but expected that it would be in someone else's lifetime. This has been going on for nearly two centuries. Trying to blame any specific person is pointless.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

It Must Be Bush's Fault

It can be addictive reading the Huffington Post and seeing how many ways they can blame Bush for the disaster in New Orleans. No matter what he does, it is absolutely the wrong thing. Here are some examples:

Arianna herself on the Flyover President.
The president's 35-minute Air Force One flyover of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama was the perfect metaphor for his entire presidency: detached, disconnected, and disengaged. Preferring to take in America's suffering -- whether caused by the war in Iraq or Hurricane Katrina -- from a distance. In this case, 2,500 feet.
And if he had toured the disaster area personally from a helecopter she would have complained that he was taking up valuable resources that could have been used to rescue survivers.

Laurisa Alexandrovna - a classic.
On September 11, 2001, The Vacationing and un-elected President of this country was tooling around on his holiday and even making time to fit in a little PR in Florida too
So Bush is at fault for not reacting to 9/11 before it happened?
So while children are drowning and others are floating around, dead in the water, the wannabe Yale cowboy struts around the set of his faux town hall meetings, has a bit of cake with John McCain, and takes in some fresh air in Colorado.
This is echoing Cindy Sheehan's complaint. How dare Bush do anything when people are dead? There's more but if I dig any more I'm going to need a rabies shot.

Dal LaMagna (among many others) complains about the number of National Guard in Iraq.
We’ve got more than 118,000 National Guardsmen and women on active duty either in Iraq or supporting war efforts there, which clearly makes the number of people available for our own disaster-relief services smaller.

We’ve got about 4,300 National Guard currently supporting the cleanup efforts from Hurricane Katrina, now believed to be even more catastrophic in human and economic terms than Hurricane Andrew.

Where is the perspective?
Actually, the number is up to 26,000 guards called up to help with the disaster. This is more than have been mobilized for any prior disaster.

Harry Shearer posts constantly. In one he asks
from the President's late Wednesday afternoon White House remarks tell the whole story. As he enumerated the impressive-sounding statistics, he added, in a fillip intended to sound determined and forward-looking, "And we're just getting started." Some of us are already wondering, what took you so long?
Let's see - the storm hit Monday morning. It was Tuesday before the damage could be assessed. By that time, Bush had already ordered that a response package be put together. He announced the specifics Wednesday afternoon. I doubt that a response that specific has been put together that fast before.

In a different one he writes:
Fortunately, some in the very old-fashioned newspaper business have been covering budget issues. Hence, this summary of articles cataloguing the steady reduction in federal funds for shoring up the levee system, and the 17th St floodwall, in the New Orleans-Jefferson Parish area.
I could write a book on the trade-offs involved. Bush critics want to see more spent on supplies for the troops in Iraq but don't want the money to come from anywhere. There is the question of how much federal money should be spent on a purely local issue (that's a book in itself). Then there is the problem that the current levee system was never meant to withstand a category 4 hurricane and a massive storm surge. Regardless, it is all Bush's fault.

Then there is the all-time champion post. It's Reagan's fault .
Still I am wondering if those voters in Louisiana and Mississippi who helped polluter-allied Reagan win in 1980 would have found themselves fated differently under a second Carter term. If Carter came in, we could have had an alternative fuels program and tighter auto emission standards in effect by now. Sparked by his prodding, we might have had decades of global warming controls in place.

Whose to say if those steps might not have rendered the waters of the Atlantic and Gulf even 1/100th of a degree cooler than they are now?
Right. The least effective president in modern times (with the possible exception of Gerald Ford) would have stopped global warming. At a time when climatologists thought that the next ice age was coming. Global warming was first announced as a theory in 1988 and Carter's second term would have ended in 1985.

It is possible to find fault with anyone if you look hard enough. I could point out that a rich woman like Arianna could be spending all of her time raising money and materials to help. Instead she complains about others.

Could Bush have responded differently? Yes. Would it have made any difference given the unpresidented magnitude of the storm? No. The moonbats at Huffington just love to find excuses to bash Bush.