Saturday, September 03, 2005

Death in America

via Talkleft, pictures of the tragedy.

via TPM CafeWho are they kidding

On Gov. Blanco: Again, no excuses for her here. It's hard to get a good sense of her actions from the national coverage, but I've seen nothing to suggest she's been Guiliani-like in her leadership. It seems entirely possible that she, and many other local/state officials, will turn out to have performed poorly in this situation.


That said, the line from Chertoff -- which has been popping up all over the press for the last two days -- is that she either failed to order up enough troops or, at the very least, failed to use the proper legal channels for requesting such assistance. And this is the reason it took so long to get enough military personnel into N.O.

Here's the problem. Even if that is correct (and we don't really know yet), in a disaster of this scope, somebody in Washington should have been paying enough attention to the situation to realize that more help was needed -- if not before the storm, than in the first 24 to 36 hours afterwards, once the reports of deprivation and mass refugees were coming in all over the news.

Yet everything we've seen suggests that the administraiton was basically out to lunch -- from the fact that key White House officials were away from Washington, on vacation, to the fact that FEMA's own director didn't even know about all the refugees at the now-notorious convention center until journalists informed him of it (after it had been on the air for many hours).

Can you imagine Bill Clinton being this detached -- or allowing his deputites to be this out of touch? How about John McCain?

In fact, to me the most telling quote of the press conference was when Chertoff explained the difficulties of moving the Natl Guard and regular military troops into position. He said that they can't move that quickly even for overseas deployment, except for a grave national crisis. (That's not his precise wording; I didn't manage to get it down. I'll update when I see the transcript.)

Again, is he kidding?

via Mark Kleiman: Distinctions

Update John Cole is eloquent on this point:

... the vast majority of people who are stranded, and, I fear, dead in the flooded parts of NO in numbers we have not yet begun to discover and comprehend, did not 'choose' to 'ignore' the warnings.

They simply had no place to go, no way to get there, no way to afford living in a motel/hotel somewhere else, no relatives outside the region, no automobile. I know it is always funny to make fun of the "Hurricane Strikes- Poor Hit Hardest" headlines, but there is some truth to it.

Sure, a lot of the people interviewed on cable may say they just stayed because they have seen all sorts of hurricanes. They may say that. But I am willing to bet a lot of them are just saying that to save face. Ever been broke? And I mean, chronically, long-term, without ANY money, broke? It sucks, and it can be embarassing, and it isnt likely most people are going to admit it.


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