I don't think that people are blaming Bush for the hurricane. That is stupid and noone is doing that. The problem is, for people on the left AND the right, is that it is difficult to fathom how, after 9-11, the department created specifically to deal with national preparedness in a multi-faceted way, to deal with situations like this (even if it is "unprecedented" could drop the ball. 9-11, if you generously buy Bush's argument, was unpredictable at least by the criteria of having "actionable intelligence." in order to prevent or mitigate the damage inflicted. This hurricane, and the damage done by thhe horrendous flooding of New Orleans, WAS one of the top 3 most predicted catastrophes to hit the united States along with an earthquake in California and another terrorist atack on New York or Washington. Plus, they were given 2 whole days once the hurricanes course was plotted, to prepare before the storm hit! HOW is it possible that FEMA annd the Dept. of Homeland Security could be so hopelessly disrganized and unprepared for this unfolding disaster? If Wal-Mart could get 3 tractor trailers of water and food into the disaster area, why couldnn't the government and military of the United States? Why is a man whose previous job (from which he was fired for inncompetence) was as a lawyer for the Int'l Arabian Horse Assoc, with no experience whatsoever in the field of emergency services, in charge of FEMA, the govt's point agency in crises? We're not blaming Bush for the Hurricane, we're questioning his priorities and his competence. I don't expect him to jump on an airboat or pilot a rescue helicopter himself, but I do expect him (and the rest of his admministration to at least cut their vacation short in order to deal with the worst natural disaster to hit the US in decades if not a century? (I'm told Cheney is still on vacation). you will disagree with me, obviously, but I believe Bush's actions (or rather inactions) inn this regard are completely indefensible. They will now try to spin this failure off onto the Governor of La and the mayor of NOLA, but the fact remians that the dept of Homeland security, Bush's own creation, "assumes primary responsibility" for everything in these situations. The scary thing is.... if Bush and Co. screwed up this disaster so badly, (and Iraq, despite what I see on AFN and FOX is not looking so hot either) what will the response be like when, not if, we suffer a catastrophhic terrorist attack? I don't want to destroy Bush, I want him to step up to the plate. give us a president we can believe in, not apologize for.

Posted by for petes sake at September 5, 2005 12:37 PM

There are people blaming Dubya for everything from terrorism to toenail fungus. More's the horror, some of them are bright enough, although apparently not mature enough, to know better.

Posted by Francis W. Porretto at September 5, 2005 01:59 PM

Actually, in response to the 1st commenter, there ARE people blaming Bush. Consiracy theorists are claiming that Hurrican Katrina was man-made and they're taking this very very seriously (and there are more than you think on that off-side).

Meanwhile. I'm not even pro-Bush and I tire of everyone becoming expert disaster-fixers. Everyone knows better than the people in place. But those people aren't doing anything much other than point fingers & bitch.

That people could compare 9-11 to Katrina is odd but not surprising to me. The 2 have nothing but deaths in common; and a willed death shouldn't be compared to a natural disaster. I think it takes away from both events than to compare them to each other. I'm sure the people of NOLA and other affected regions would be pretty pissed off if they could follow the news right now.

Posted by Julie at September 5, 2005 02:18 PM

There are different dimensions along which these events can be compared. In terms of lives lost, cost to rebuild, etc., Katrina WAS worse. There are other dimenions, moral ones, on which 9/11 was worse.

Posted by Pericles at September 5, 2005 03:53 PM

I think the people who were stucked in NOLA are pissed of already, and they will have to find out at who. For those who died, well they won't point fingers and bitch any more.

Posted by bap at September 5, 2005 05:17 PM

Here's the Kos quote:

"This is the greatest disaster to hit our nation in most of our lifetimes. Worse than 9-11. New Orleans is underwater. Biloxi is 90 percent destroyed. Who knows how many dead. Who knows how many homeless. Who knows how many jobless. We have a bona fide refugee crisis on our hands."

I don't see anything to disagree with there. There will be more dead. There will be more damage. Why the tirade against that statement? It seems more like an attempt to distract people from the outrageous failures of DHS/FEMA, and demonize people that Charles would despise no matter what they said.

Posted by VOT at September 6, 2005 12:26 AM

"But the only thing that Katrina has in common with 9/11 is that neither of them were President Bush's fault."

Well, Bush didn't cause the hurricane, but he was directly responsible for a great deal of the havoc caused by it. Through through the 'wetland protection act,' he pave the wetlands that would have proteeted the levies fro the storm surge. He also cut the budgets of FEMA to the bone, and the Army Corp of Engineers so that no work was done on the levies. He also has done nothing to slow CO2 emissions. There is not absolute link between this hurricane and global warming, but at this point there is a consensus among scientists that global warning is caused by greenhouse gas emissions, and that the hurricane's sevarity was due to unusually high temperatures in the gulf.

Bush also failed to sign off on mobilizing the Navy for days:

Bush also waited four days to sign off on allowing Nat'l guard from other states to enter LA:

He wasn't responsible for the hurricane, but his choices in governance have had a huge impact on the scale of the disaster and the number of deaths it has caused.

Finally, haven't we visited the 'Bush is an honest guy' thing enough times now? There have been enought lies he has stated brought up in various discussions that you haven't been able to refute. Instead you just ignore them.

The bottom line here is that you really have a serious problem. By ignoring the clear evidence in front of you because it doesn't fit with your partisan ideas of how things should be, you are in a chronic state of ignorance.

A person needs to have the courage to take a look at the way things actually are, and be willing to admit that you are wrong before that person can understand a situation. By pretending that Bush is an honest person you are ignoring reality. No president has ever been honest. Politicians lie to get power. Bush has lied more than many, and if you had any courage at all you would be able to recognize that.

You claim that you are 'trying to grok,' which was why I visited and ommented. But you aren't really trying to grok at all. You think you have it all figured out, and you can't learn until you figure out that you don't. I'm not pretending I am enlightened, but I will say that I am happy to admint my errors, and I am willing to have my beliefs challenged, and I am am happy to be shown when I am wrong, since I take it as being cured of ignorance. Understanding the way things are is far important than supporting any politician, or any political party.

Posted by VOT at September 6, 2005 01:03 AM

I think this makes it clear that Sept. 11 really changed nothing. Four years after 9/11, the biggest seaport in the US gets destroyed and THIS is the best the Feds could do? Do you think the terrorists won't notice how utterly pathetic our response has been and take some notes? The fact that there has been so much confusion about whose responsibility this all is/was, points out that Bush's restructuring of FEMA under DHS was a disaster on its own, and that disaster is an obvious huge opening in our national security right now. What has Bush been doing for the last four years that we could get a response to a disaster like this? We had some advanced notice that this was coming, we won't have any notice for an attack from a terrorist. And the best response that Bush can come up with for FEMA failing to assert the authority they had is to blame the victims, blame the mayor and blame the Governor? There is no question that the Feds. dropped the ball here, will Bush ever take responsibility for any administration screwup ever? Bush ran on a platform of 'personal responsibility,' in a society where this is scarce, and at one point had my support, but not any more. Since when did 'personal responsibility' get redefined to 'deflect blame at all costs?' And now the Bush administration is lying to reporters at Newsweek, the Washinton Post, and who knows where else through 'anonymous sources' saying that Blanco did not ask for help. The only reason you would lie to cover your ass, is because you know you screwed up. I used to think he was, but now I know Bush is not honest. He is not a good man. He is a coward who will not take responsibility for any error he has made, and will lie about others to try to deflect the blame, and he has put our nation at risk by not taking responsibility for the job he had. I have never been so disgusted. I guess it's time to vote Libertarian.

Posted by ex-republican at September 6, 2005 03:00 AM

Have you been out spreading loon-bait in the garden again, Sarah?


Compare the federal response to Katrina with that to previous hurricanes, and you'll find that it is significantly faster and better co-ordinated. Far from perfect, but better than in the past.

However, the city and state performance in New Orleans and Louisiana in general has been abysmal. The city has first responsibility, then the state, then the feds. It takes tune to organise the response at the federal level, and city and state officials know that. And yet, they not only sat on their hands but actively obstructed federal efforts.

The reason people are blaming the mayor and the governor is that they failed. Actively. The governor wouldn't call up the National Guard - her responsibility, her authority, and she did not use it - wouldn't even hand that authority over to the feds. New Orleans had a comprehensive disaster plan, and they simply didn't implement it.

It's interesting to compare the disastrous situation in New Orleans with the situation in Mississippi, which actually caught the worst of the storm, but wasn't saddled with direly incompetent local and state governments.

The feds aren't going to be there half an hour after the storm goes through. That's why you're supposed to keep non-perishable food and bottled water on hand, that's why the city is supposed to have it's own disaster response plans, and the same for the state. If the first three rungs of the ladder all fail, that is hardly the fault of the fourth rung.

Posted by Pixy Misa at September 6, 2005 04:19 AM

I guess it's time to vote Libertarian.

Well, sure. And then there would be no federal disaster management at all, so you'd have no-one to bitch at.

Posted by Pixy Misa at September 6, 2005 04:20 AM

Nice job repeating party-line talking points, I am sure you are comforted by not having to understand anything, and having nice easy answers that shift the blame from your heroes onto others. But there is no truth in anything that you said - if you tried to investigate you will find that you can not back up any of it up, except perhaps for citing partisan blogs which aren't really what anyone would call reliable sources.

Let's start with Nagin. From reading the accounts, he acted quickly, and actually did what you would expect:
Interesting quotes:
"Nagin also dispatched police and firefighters to rouse people out with sirens and bullhorns, and even gave them the authority to commandeer vehicles to aid in the evacuation... The city arranged buses to take people to 10 last-resort shelters, including the Superdome."
"As of 9:30 a.m., Mayor Nagin has issued a mandatory evacuation for New Orleans. […] The city has set up ten pickup areas to take people to emergency shelters. RTA buses will be picking up citizens for free and take them to these shelters."

Blanco called in the Nat'l guard, and they were on the job before the hurricane hit, assisting with the evacuation. Nagin got 80% of the city evacuated. He may have been able to get more out had he started earlier, but given the fact that there were >100,000 people who did not have transportation, or were immobile in the city, and given the timeframe of at best 60 hours there was no way to get everybody out, even with every bus and train in the city going full bore non-stop. How can they be blamed, exactly? It is clear that the Feds, with their far greater resources, and ability to coordinate many resources would be needed for rescue ops afterwards.

But what about the talking point that the governor had not called in the feds?
August 26: Blanco declares a state level state of emergency.
August 27: Blanco asks the president to declare a federal state of emergency for the state of Louisiana.
August 27: Bush declares a federal state of emergency for Louisiana.

The moment the president declared a federal state of emergency, it became a federal responsibility. From that point on the federal government took ownership over the response. That means that on Saturday FEMA was responsible for disaster coordination. While you can say what you will about Nagin and Blanco, they reported to the Feds. If the feds were too weak to assert the authority they had, all the more pathetic of them for failing to live up to their responsibility.

Despite this, we saw this in the Wash. Post: "As of Saturday, [Louisiana governor Kathleen] Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, [a] senior Bush official said." That was a lie from a senior administration official. The Post removed the quote once it was clear that it was false, but it got repeated in Newsweek:

A lie from our administration sent to multiple media sources. One wonders why? To cover their asses, since they know they have seriously screwed up. Besides FEMA sitting on their hands for days, besides Bush staying on vacation through the disaster, besides Condi Rice going on vacation after the crisis started, besides halting rescue operations so Bush could get a photo op, how else have they screwed up?

Bush dragged his feet on deploying the navy - it was his job to authorize their use and he sat on his hands. The USS Bataan, a naval vessel with helicopters, doctors, hospital beds, food, and water has been cruising off the Gulf since last Friday unable to act until recently:,1,4144825.story?page=1&coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed

The White House held up deployment of other state's Nat'l Guard in LA:

Volunteers with flotilla of boats were refused entry by FEMA:

Wal-Mart trucks were stopped from delivering food and water by FEMA:

The emergency response folks on the ground have good things to say for Nagin and Blanco, and are cursing FEMA, why do you suppose they would be doing that if the state and local authorities were the obstructionists here?

I'm not saying that Nagin and Blanco were perfect, they weren't, I'm just saying that they screwed up less, and ultimately were less responsible than the Feds. I could go on for pages citing the abysmal job that the Feds. did, and how severely FEMA dropped the ball, but you should learn to do your own research, so go to and read for yourself. Do yourself a favor and try reading news without filtering it through LGF/FreeRepublic/PowerLine/Instapundit. You will find that learning to think for yourself is a rewarding experience, and will free you from a lot of ignorance and falsehood that partisans spew. Same for Atrios/Kos/etc, though I don't expect many here read them.

Posted by VOT at September 6, 2005 05:19 AM


I'm started a clooection for you in case you still feel the need to pretend that the Governor and Mayor are the only ones screwing up:

FEMA won't accept Amtrak's help in evacuations:

FEMA turns away power generators:

FEMA prevents Coast Guard from delivering diesel fuel:

FEMA won't allow Red Cross deliver food:

FEMA blocks morticians from entering New Orleans:

FEMA snubs Chicago's offer of assistance -Send just one truck:,1,2011979.story?coll=chi-news-hed

Posted by VOT at September 6, 2005 06:40 AM

"Nice job repeating party-line talking points"

Oh, the irony.

Posted by Patrick Chester at September 6, 2005 09:33 AM

FEMA does seem to have screwed up more than once, and Michael Brown has said some stupid things. Michelle Malkin (for one) has been posting on this.

But the feds aren't supposed to be first on the scene, and they were on the scene faster than they have been in previous situations. As fast as they could have been? Coast guard helicopters were rescuing people even before the hurricane had fully passed. I'm sure that some things could have, should have been done better.

But leaving hundreds of buses, intended for evacuation in the city's own plans, on ground expected to be flooded? Evacuating tens of thousands of people to the Superdome and the Civic Centre with no supplies?

I'll check your point on the national guard - if that was wrong, and she did call them out in a timely manner, then that is in Governor Blanco's favour.

But the key point is this: The feds won't be on the scene in force for 72 to 96 hours. Everyone knows that; in fact in previous events it's taken much longer. The city and state have to be prepared to cover those 3 to 4 days. They know that. It's written into their plans. (It is written into the NO disaster management plans.) The city and the state need to be able to cover those days because they are already on the scene, they don't have to move supplies over flooded roads and downed bridges; they are already there.

The city and the state weren't prepared for anything at all.

If you want to say that once FEMA arrived they weren't as organised as the should have been, I'll probably agree wholeheartedly. If you want to blame the first four days of hell on the feds, then you lose.

Posted by Pixy Misa at September 6, 2005 10:55 AM

Yes, I misconstrued a post on another blog. Governor Blanco did indeed call out the National Guard; she may be criticised on other points but not for failing to do so. I apologise.

Posted by Pixy Misa at September 6, 2005 11:08 AM

This detailed timeline makes everyone look better than the media reports - Mayor Nagin, Governor Blanco, President Bush, FEMA, the Army - everyone except the New Orleans Police Dept. and the looters.

Posted by Pixy Misa at September 6, 2005 01:46 PM

It also invalidates another one of my points - the "no supplies" point was wrong.

From the timeline, we see an adequate if not exceptional response from the local, state and federal authorities (and an exceptional response from the military).

What we also see is a lot of people turning into idiots the moment they are facing a TV camera.

Posted by Pixy Misa at September 6, 2005 01:51 PM

interesting debate. glad i started it. Thank you Pixy and VOT, I'm sure the truth is probably somewhere in between.

Just a small interesting tidbit about the New Orleans PD...
These poor bastards apparently have a starting wage just barely above the poverty line. only about $4000/year above.

no wonder these people have been deserting in droves and have appalling morale, they'd make better money at Wal-Mart. I read today that between 400-500 cops aren't reporting for duty and that there have been several suicides this past week. Not to mention pictures of cops themselves looting some of the stores.

Is this common in the USA? As someone whose lived abroad for a long time, I had no idea. I have a hard time believing Canadian or German cops (I live at a US military installation in germany) are paid so little to do so much and have so much expected of them.

Posted by for petes sake at September 6, 2005 05:32 PM

Here is a link that I thought you and your readers might enjoy. God bless you and your husband who stand at the wall and keeps the wolf at bay. You folks are a beacon of sanity in a world that seems to be more and more insane.


Posted by Plowman at September 7, 2005 11:20 PM

"this poor man" is supposed to be the president of the United States. He can take the heat, or he can damn well stay out of the kitchen.

Posted by braz at September 10, 2005 09:12 AM

Compare the federal response to Katrina with that to previous hurricanes, and you'll find that it is significantly faster and better co-ordinated.

I don't believe this. Links?

Posted by jpe at September 11, 2005 07:22 AM

jpe, compare the response to Ivan (after which "Brownie" really should have been fired) or that to Andrew when big George was president, and you'll see that the response to Katrina doesn't stack up that badly.When the inept are compared to the incompetent all things even out.

Posted by Braz at September 12, 2005 07:19 AM