Wednesday, September 07, 2005

pinions of buddy don: water aint thonly thang that flooded us

william raspberry of the washington post has writ one of the best articulls bout whuts really a'goin on so that we kin have such a deesaster as we are havin in the gulf states n new awlins: Two Storms, Ample Warning. whilst them waters wuz risin in new awlins n gittin everbidys attenchun, ye mite coulda missed how poverty rose fer the fourth strate year:
That is to say, while no one could have predicted the ferocity of Katrina -- a storm of unprecedented fury -- it was known that New Orleans was in jeopardy from deteriorating levees.

And back in 1998, former senator Fred Harris and Alan Curtis, president of the Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation, the private-sector continuation of the 1968 Kerner Commission, were warning of resurgent poverty.

"If anything, the numbers out of the Census Bureau underestimate the problem of poverty in America," Curtis said in an interview last week. "The bureau's definition of the poverty threshold is $19,300 a year for a family of four. But a lot depends on where you happen to live. By one scale I'm familiar with, that family of four -- if they lived in Baltimore -- would cross the poverty threshold at $44,000 a year.

"But the major mistake is to take the census report as a one-year phenomenon. This is the fourth straight year of increasing poverty, following a seven-year decline, from 1993 to 2000. Shouldn't wise journalists be asking why?"
meanwhile, one of the thangs that orta been swamped is the publican agenda of cuttin taxes on the rich agin, starvin the gummint by underfundin infrastructchur n cuttin entitlement spendin that heps the poorest amung us. fer this to wurk them publicans has to git us to quit noticin the poor, witch tiz a lot harder now that thar on tv near 24 hours a day.

but ye kin easly make the argument that the real problem is jes the blind unwillingness of them in cuntrol to understand that thay is poor folk amung us n to understand the lease lil thang bout whut it means to be poor. as result, ye git such tone deef statements as this by rick santorum:
In a weekend interview with WTAE-TV about the victims of Hurricane Katrina, Santorum said: "You have people who don't heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving."
as is generly the case when he opens his mouth befor a microfone, mr santorum had to start splainin whut he meant, but twuz way too late fer that. we know whut he meant. still, twuz his turn to talk, so he used it to blame local authorties:
"Obviously most of the people here in this case, an overwhelming majority of people just literally couldn't have gotten out on their own," he said. "Many didn't have cars ... and that really was a failure on the part of local officials in not making transportation available to get people out."
corse he wonts to make that case, even ifn it means tellin a lie, but tiz confounded by them stubborn facks bout how mr bush dun dismantled -- disassembled? -- fema. in a articull name of Why FEMA failed; Ideologically opposed to a strong federal role in disaster relief and obsessed with terrorism, the Bush administration let a once-admired agency fall apart thays plenty eggsplained bout this (pallgies fer the long quote -- ye really orta read the hold thang):
During the 1990s, FEMA was routinely praised as one of the best-functioning federal agencies. Its response to the Midwestern floods of 1993, the Northridge earthquake of 1994, and 1995's Oklahoma City terrorist attack are considered models of emergency response. By contrast, its performance during Katrina is almost universally acknowledged to have been abysmally poor. At first, FEMA's post-Katrina failure appears baffling: What happened to the once-great FEMA? But George Haddow, who served as the deputy chief of staff at FEMA under James Lee Witt, Bill Clinton's FEMA director, thinks that FEMA's current flaws are all too understandable -- and are a direct consequence of the Bush administration's decision to pull the federal government out of the natural disaster-relief business and turn over more power to state and local officials.

Indeed, the White House's new response to the political disaster prompted by Katrina -- one in which officials are attempting to blame authorities in Louisiana, rather than in Washington, for the slow aid -- underscores the Bush philosophy. According to Haddow, instead of working with local officials to try to minimize the impacts of an impending storm, the White House has decided its best strategy is to keep its distance from people on the ground. That way if anything goes wrong, the White House can "attack, attack, attack."

We began to see some of these attacks over the weekend. Sunday's Washington Post cited an anonymous Bush administration official who explained that one reason that the federal government didn't intervene more quickly in Louisiana was because Kathleen Blanco, the state's Democratic governor, failed to declare a state of emergency there, a necessary step for federal help to flow. An article in Newsweek repeats the same claim.

But there's a problem with the White House's excuse: It's patently false. As Josh Marshall points out, Blanco declared a state of emergency on Aug. 26 -- a day before Bush declared a federal emergency in Louisiana. (You can see Blanco's official declaration in PDF format here; the Washington Post has corrected its article.) On Aug. 28 -- the day before Katrina made landfall -- Blanco followed her declaration with an official letter (PDF) to Bush that requested all manner of emergency supplies her state would need for the aftermath.

Haddow says that these requests should have been enough -- more than enough -- to prompt a full-scale federal response. Under the Clinton administration's FEMA, with Witt as the head, a storm of Katrina's magnitude would have prompted federal and state officials to actually meet in order to coordinate their response. "You were all working together to anticipate needs," Haddow says. "You're all sitting in the same room when the things happened -- the Midwest flood, the Northridge quake, the Oklahoma City bombing and all the disasters we responded to. We were in the same room together and nobody had to point fingers."

Close coordination with state officials was key to the Clinton administration's capacity to act quickly in the heat of a disaster, Haddow says. "We had a really solid partnership, so we received solid, timely information from the ground. Then we managed that information and turned it into a mission assignment." In other words, when people on the ground needed something, they knew who in the federal government to ask, and when the federal government had extra resources at the ready -- cops from Chicago, say, or water from Wal-Mart -- it would know where to send them. Contrast that situation to what happened after Katrina, when both Michael Chertoff, the secretary of Homeland Security, and Michael Brown, the FEMA director, admitted to several reporters that they had no idea that people were starving at the New Orleans Convention Center, even though the grim scene there had been played and replayed on television all day.

The Bush administration's distance from local disaster-relief officials is by design. From the moment Bush stepped into office, he's been determined to move away from the coordinated state/local/federal disaster-relief approach used by Clinton. Instead, as Joe Allbaugh, Bush's first FEMA dirctor, told a congressional panel in 2001, Bush wanted to pull the federal government out of the disaster-relief business and aimed to "restore the predominant role of state and local response to most disasters." The federal government became even less involved in natural disaster relief after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when FEMA's mission was shifted toward responding to terrorist attacks. In 2002, Congress created the Department of Homeland Security, and FEMA -- which Clinton had elevated to a Cabinet-level agency -- was made one department in the massive bureaucracy. As a result, although George W. Bush has a nickname for FEMA director Brown ("Brownie"), Brown enjoys far less clout under Bush than Witt enjoyed under Clinton, which Haddow says is an "incalculable loss of influence" for FEMA.
nuther articull that splains thangs purty well was writ by eugene robinson, It's Your Failure, Too, Mr. Bush. tiz a nuther that deeserves a full readin, but heres a taste:
First, an administration that since Sept. 11, 2001, has told us a major terrorist strike is inevitable should have had in place a well-elaborated plan for evacuating a major American city. Even if there wasn't a specific plan for New Orleans -- although it was clear that a breach of the city's levees was one of the likeliest natural catastrophes -- there should have been a generic plan. George W. Bush told us time and again that our cities were threatened. Shouldn't he have ordered up a plan to get people out?

Second, someone should have thought about what to do with hundreds of thousands of evacuees, both in the days after a disaster and in the long term. As people flooded out of New Orleans, it was officials at the state and local level who rose to the challenge, making it up as they went along. Bring a bunch of people to the Astrodome. We have a vacant hotel that we can use. Send a hundred or so down to our church and we'll do the best we can.
taint lack they wuznt offerd hep, as tiz splaind in a articull name of Offers of Aid Immediate, but U.S. Approval Delayed for Days writ by elizabeth williamson:
Offers of foreign aid worth tens of millions of dollars -- including a Swedish water purification system, a German cellular telephone network and two Canadian rescue ships -- have been delayed for days awaiting review by backlogged federal agencies, according to European diplomats and information collected by the State Department.

Since Hurricane Katrina, more than 90 countries and international organizations offered to assist in recovery efforts for the flood-stricken region, but nearly all endeavors remained mired yesterday in bureaucratic entanglements, in most cases, at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
fortchunuttly, mr bush has promissd he will lead the investigayshun into his own addministrayshun! i reckun he has the best view, but seems unlackly we wood allow innybidy else accused of makin miss takes that leads to folks dyin to investigate thar ownself. is he hoping to git rid of groups that investigates fer a livin, folks lack law enforcement n congress? how bout one of the bipartisan commisshuns lack they dun with 9/11, once twuz allowd. instead, he wonts to doot:
Stung by criticism of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, President Bush yesterday promised to investigate his own administration's emergency management, then readied a request for tens of billions of dollars for relief and cleanup.

From the Pentagon to Capitol Hill, official Washington spent yesterday grappling with a hurricane recovery effort that, according to some estimates, will cost more than $100 billion and influence a broad range of federal policy, from emergency response to coastal development, from expanded domestic oil exploration to the future of the estate tax.
corse, timin is everthang, as tiz eggsplaind in a articull name of Deconstructing Katrina:
But there was a disconnect yesterday at opposite ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. On the Hill, outraged lawmakers launched a bipartisan investigation and demanded to know what good had come from all that homeland security spending. At the White House, the president was still operating in the conditional. "If things went wrong, we'll correct them," he said. "And when things went right, we'll duplicate them."

Collins and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, had scheduled their announcement of an investigation for 11:15 yesterday morning. Bush preempted them, inviting reporters into the Cabinet Room at 11:08. "What I intend to do is to lead an investigation to find out what went right and what went wrong," the president said.

Bush was in no hurry to probe. "There will be ample time to assess," he said. Rearranging a presidential coaster on the Cabinet table, he said that to ask questions while the relief operation is underway would be "to play a blame game."
sumbidy orta tell im taint no game. tiz dedly serious, real life n real death.

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