Why Now?
Friday, September 30, 2005
  First Class Treatment

Muppets Get Their Own Stamps

To convince him that it was time to go, the Postal Service agreed to issue a new Michael Brown first class stamp.

While Brown said he didn't think it was a terribly good likeness, he felt that the fact that it was a "first class stamp" was recognition of the great job he did at FEMA.

Muppets Get Their Own Stamps

Secretary Chertoff said that he didn't needed it, but appreciated the stamp that was created for him.

Update: This is a graphic of all the stamps.


  New Research
While similar behavior has been seen in captivity new studies document that wild gorillas use tools. What's important is that the behavior wasn't related to food gathering and the use is taught.

I guess there is hope for Republicans.


  Look It Up
Main Entry: incompetent

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: unskillful

Synonyms: amateur, amateurish, awkward, bungling, bush, bush league, clumsy, disqualified, floundering, helpless, inadequate, incapable, incapacitated, ineffectual, inefficient, ineligible, inept, inexperienced, inexpert, insufficient, maladroit, raw, skill-less, unable, unadapted, uncool, unequipped, unfit, unfitted, unhandy, uninitiated, unproficient, unqualified, unskilled, untrained, useless

Antonyms: competent, skillful

Source: Roget's New Millennium™ Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.1.1) © 2005 by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC


  Friday Cat Blogging [™ Kevin Drum]

The Usual Suspects

Friday Cat Blogging

You can't prove a thing, Copper!

[Editor: From the front: Tonto, Mittens, and the Lone Ranger. Seen loitering near the scene of the crime.]

Friday Ark


Thursday, September 29, 2005
  Running With A Bad Crowd
Tony "Judge Bullingham" Blair, really needs to show a little more discretion in his friends. He has picked up some bad habits.

The BBC report on the Labour Party conference is not reassuring: Wolfgang highlights deeper disquiet.
Headlines about an 82-year old Jewish escapee from the Nazis being manhandled out of Labour conference for daring to yell "nonsense" at the Foreign Secretary is probably not the way Tony Blair wanted to end this rally.

But, for many regular conference visitors, this was far from a surprise.

Ever-tightening security and a distinctly intolerant attitude towards "interruptions", as the prime minister called them, meant this was a headline waiting to happen.
Tony has been attempting to build his own version of the "Bubble", like his best buddy, the Shrubbery.

A hint: if you don't like "interruptions", get out of democratic politics. Getting yelled at and an occasional pie are part of the job.


In a couple of different places¹ I've seen the quote attributed to Michael Brown that he didn't understand why FEMA was supposed to supply ice. This example is from KWTX, Waco, Texas:
Brown also testified it isn't the government's job to provide ice in the wake of a hurricane or other disaster.

Brown told the House panel that it's wrong for the federal government to be providing ice to keep "beer and diet coke cool."

He says that is why the government stresses people should have several days of non-perishable food on hand.

Brown says the ice should be used to keep baby formula and medications fresh.
Without getting into the practice of using cold drinks to maintain temperatures in a cooler, or the effect of having something cold to drink when the heat index is 105°, or the use of ice in treating heat-related illnesses, or the economic impact on a family of losing the contents of their refrigerator, I will ignore those benefits of ice and deal with a more fundamental truth: ice is made from water and is drinkable.

After Opal I was down to melted ice for drinking on a couple of occasions. The freeze-dried foods I was using required water to be semi-palatable. The minor wounds required clean water to prevent infection. Frozen water stays cleaner, longer that standing water in a jug, which is why I won't buy a five-gallon water jug: it's too easy for the jug to become contaminated.

The effect of a cold drink can applied to your face and neck can only be appreciated by someone who has been without electricity for a week and is working outside to clear trees and brush away from utility lines to speed the re-establishment of air conditioning.

What FEMA needs to do is to drop representatives into areas after a disaster with what they are wearing and a satellite phone. Let the representatives directly experience the effects of the decisions made by their agency and we might see an improvement in service delivery.

I also heard Mr. Brown talk about having trouble knowing where supplies were. I don't imagine FEMA has thought of talking to any large trucking firms to learn how they track their trucks all over the country using satellites and computer links. FEMA might want to have someone look at GIS [Geographic Information Systems] and other mapping solutions. They could probably get a good deal from the multiple federal agencies that use it and provide the underlying databases.

1. I know, I should have said blogtopia™ [skippy the bush kangaroo].


Wednesday, September 28, 2005
  Geographically Challenged
Governor Blanco of Louisiana issued a press release explaining that former FEMA Director Mike Brown erred in his testimony before Congress claiming that she hadn't included the affected parishes in her request.

I noticed on September 7th that FEMA had erred in its preliminary disaster declaration and excluded the parishes that would be most subject to damage.

Melanie at Just A Bump In The Beltway may have located the problem: FEMA's Map Assistance Center. If you are more used to asking about "supersizing" than reading maps, you may not give the correct answers about locations, or even be aware that counties are called parishes in Louisiana.

I'm sure Brown is one of those guys who won't stop and ask directions.


After hearing Brown tell a committee of Congress what a great job FEMA did in Mississippi, I think he needs a complete medical examination as I suspect a stress-related disorder. Fortunately I know a specialist on stress-related disorders caused by the FEMA response in Mississippi, Dr. Ben Marble. Having helped the Vice President, I'm sure Dr. Marble would be more than happy to help Mr. Brown resolve some issues.

After watching Governor Haley Barbour on television my Mother is interested in knowing what planet the state of Mississippi he is describing is on, as the state on this planet is still awaiting help.

Oh, anytime FEMA would like to start paying its bills on Ivan, that would be appreciated, and we could probably send more help to those forgotten in southern Mississippi.


The military-industrial complex has launched a Battle Over Model War Planes.

The taxpayers pay these people to develop the aircraft and then buy them for millions. Now the companies want more money from middle school consumers who build model airplanes. Any royalties will be paid by the people who buy the kits.

Avarice, plain and simple. What's next - a fee on teddy bears in uniform?


  Solar Challenge 2005
They're off on a 3,000+ kilometer trip across Australia powered by the Sun. The Dutch team is again in the lead according to the CBC.

Update: Dutch team wins in 29 hours and 11 minutes of driving time.


  An Altered View
Ron Franscell of Under The News is an editor at The Beaumont Enterprise. While they are having trouble getting a print edition out they have been running the paper on the 'Net.

When they ran into problems uploading pictures to the paper's site he started Rita Images. Now the site is running pictures being sent in by readers.


  A New Equation
In honor of the centennial of E = MC²

Shrubbery = Corruption + Cronyism


  Florida Politics
John Ellis has been term limited, and he needed to spend more time with the defense attorneys for various members of his family anyway, so we are having a Republican primary for governor. The top contenders are attorney general Charlie Crist and chief financial officer Tom Gallagher. Both have been considered moderates, but to get the nominations they need to change their message for "the base", which is pretty damn base in Florida.

The St. Petersberg Times wants us to: Meet the new Tom Gallagher.
Now there's a new Tom Gallagher making his fourth run for governor. This one wants Roe vs. Wade overturned, cheered on legislators as they tried to force the insertion of a feeding tube into Terri Schiavo, favors a constitutional ban on gay marriage and denounces "activist judges."
I don't expect much from politicians but it would be nice if they would at pretend to believe in the rule of law. The man will sell his few principles for votes, so we should trust him because?


DeLay indicted for conspiracy!

Justice not DeLay'd!


Tuesday, September 27, 2005
  CSI: Cinco Bayou

Preliminary Report

Crime Scene

Victim is a female brown rat [rattus norvegicus] estimated to be 3 months of age, weight: 6 ounces, overall length: 14 inches.

Based on the state of rigor mortis, lividity and body temperature the victim died at approximately 6:00 AM, plus or minus 30 minutes.

While there are puncture wounds on both sides of the neck at the base of the skull, the probable proximate cause of death is assumed to be the fracture of a cervical vertebra.

None of those lived in the area had any knowledge of the individual or the incident.

The remains were removed for further processing.


  Scooting By The Gas Station
The Vestal Vespa has seen the future and it has two wheels. In the face of gasoline at $3/gallon and climbing something that gets 70 to 100+ miles per gallon is looking like a better choice than a 7 to 10 miles per gallon SUV.

While I drove a Lambretta for a while, they are out of production, as are the Cushmans that were once the American counterpart. Today there are a range of choices from around the world: Kymco [Taiwan], Piaggio [Italy], Vespa [Italy], Honda [Japan], Yamaha [Japan], and Bajaj [India]. Except for Honda, which jumps from 80cc to over 200cc, these are in the 150cc range, which will get you up to about 60mph.


  Spinning The Air
In the western Pacific region they are called typhoons, but Category 3 by any other name is a mess. My old stomping ground on the island of Okinawa is about to get a visit from typhoon Longwang. The briefing on that one at Kadina AB would be good for a few chuckles.

Closer to home the Mayan god Huracan would appear to have made time for the possibility of another visit according to Tropical Weather Outlook:
A vigorous tropical wave centered a couple hundred miles southeast of Jamaica is producing cloudiness and thunderstorms over much of the central Caribbean Sea. This system has become better organized today... and upper-level winds have also become more favorable for a tropical depression to develop during the next day or so. An Air Force Reserve unit reconnaissance aircraft is scheduled to investigate the system tomorrow... if necessary. Interests in Jamaica... the Cayman Islands... and in the northwestern Caribbean Sea should closely monitor the progress of this system over the next few days as it moves west-northwestward at about 10 mph.
At this point we know the drill.


Monday, September 26, 2005
  Snark In The Big Easy
The people of The New Orleans Times-Picayune have been doing some great reporting under trying circumstances and I think they are getting really fed up with what others are saying about their city.

Today they dealt with the many reports about what was happening as people waited for help. The fact that the link ends with "2005_09_26.html#bs" and the variation on Mark Twain's quote shows the effect of blogging: Rumors of deaths greatly exaggerated.

During the period of "rampant lawlessness" there have been four murders confirmed, which is normal for New Orleans without floods or hurricanes. The widely reported attacks are shown to be false or are still unsubstantiated. There were 6 bodies retrieved from the SuperDome and 4 at the Convention Center, all but three are considered "natural causes". The three are listed as a drug overdose, a suicide, and one possible homicide.

People outside the city were reporting rumors of violence, but the proof isn't there. No one can find a pilot who reported being fired upon while flying over the city.

I've been in a few hurricanes and the electrical arcs caused by rain blowing onto transformers are explosive sounding. When water floods a major building there is apt to be arcing from electrical equipment, which can cause fires. It can sound like gun fire or explosions.


  A Flashback
The New Orleans Times-Picayune has a report, Blanco wants to create hurricane aid program, that shows the presence of James Lee Witt on her team. What she is proposing is essentially what FEMA did after hurricane Opal in 1995 when Witt headed the Agency.


  Life In The Parking Lane
Douglas of Enthalpy has been blogging at the People's Republic of Seabrook while Jack [Northstar] has been in Virginia. He was down on the Texas Gulf coast and participated in the evacuation.

He has a few observations and questions about the manner in which the authorities conducted the operations.


  Generating Death
In another tragedy, The Beaumont Enterprise reports: Five die in Beaumont apartment. The cause of death is suspected to be carbon monoxide poisoning as the result of using a generator.

Who would push their lawnmower into their living room and start it? Carbon monoxide poisoning is a leading cause of death following hurricanes. Is lighting important enough to die for, because most of the generators sold are not big enough to power a refrigerator or air conditioner?

I have a generator. It is big enough to power both a refrigerator and an 8,000 btu air conditioner. I'm building a pad to put it on and running wiring to separate sockets inside to be used in an emergency.

The booklet that comes with generators details all of the places you shouldn't put the generator. During the run-up to hurricanes in Florida at every press conference there is a run down on places you shouldn't put a generator. Nothing seems to work, because people are continuing to die. It's senseless.


  Steve Is Back Home
That would be his "home" on the Web, Yellow Doggerel Democrat, as opposed to the YDD Annex.


Sunday, September 25, 2005
  A Timely Concept
Publius at Legal Fiction has The Best Business Idea Ever.

You have to wonder how long the individual who came up with TimesSelect is going to last when the ad buyers want their rates reduced because of the decrease in traffic on the site.

Having just announced the lay off of 500 employees, I can't see the quality of the product improving, unless the 500 are all coming from upper management. If you are trying to cut costs, those are the people who make the real money.


  Does He Ever Listen?
I heard a report on the radio about Bush planning to ask Congress about making the military the lead agency in large disasters, in response to a military request for a national plan for catastrophes. Something just sounded wrong. The military has more than enough on it's plate, it doesn't need any more work, besides the only thing Congress would have to get involved in would be law enforcement matters, and the military is not very good at law enforcement.

Finally I caught this article at MSNBC: Military to Bush: U.S. needs search-rescue plan. The military wants to streamline and coordinate the search and rescue operations, not take over the responsibility for the catastrophe.

Bush wants Congress to change the "Posse Comitatus" law to fix a problem caused by the President not acting in a timely matter to allow the military to help, and the Department of Homeland Security not coordinating rescue operations with local governments.

After September 11th, it was determined that a large number of first responders died because of communications failures. The biggest problem in New Orleans was the loss of communications at all levels of government. Search and rescue operations were not being carried out in an efficient manner because of communications problems that prevented the effective coordination of effort.

Gee, I seem to detect a pattern, an item common to all of these situations. The Department of Homeland Security is supposed to coordinate in National disasters. It says that in its National Response Plan. You can't coordinate if you can't communicate.

Where is the emergency communication plan and equipment?

Why has nothing been done about the problem in New York City?

What does the "Posse Comitatus" law have to do with search and rescue or the lack of emergency communications?

If law enforcement was a real concern, any problems could be solved by the Pentagon expanding the regular military and sending the National Guard and its equipment back to the states that need them. If Congress wants to get involved, it could ban the deployment of the Guard overseas during the hurricane season.


  The Vocal Minority?
Sam's valet and personal photographer, NTodd, has been wandering around taking pictures in Washington. If you would like a ground level view of the more outspoken of the 60% of the US population that thinks that the Shrubbery should be uprooted from the public property at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, stop by Sam's place.

Remember: Iraq is nothing like Vietnam.


So the AP needed a story for the Freeper event and came up with: Defenders of Iraq war counter-rally.

If you were a cynic you might compare it to AP's Huge rally against Iraq war and note that the two would seem to share several paragraphs.

The newest version is worth a read for Vietnam era people as it features the re-birth of one of Nixon's favorite memes:
"It's the silent majority," said 22-year-old Stephanie Grgurich of Leesburg, Virginia, who has a brother serving in Iraq.
My emphasis because Stephanie isn't old enough to understand that she's become a Nixon Republican. Oh, I'm sorry, Iraq is nothing like Vietnam.


Saturday, September 24, 2005
  Firefox 1.0.7 Available
Firefox has released an upgrade version to patch a security concern. I didn't have any problems with the installation, but "your mileage may vary".


  Reality From The Media?
After a weak earlier story, CNN now has Huge rally against Iraq war, an AP report that estimates the crowd size as at least 100,000. They mention the pro-war rally at the end of the article, with an estimate of 150 people.

The link is the same as in the post below, but at that time the AP post mentioned only "thousands" for the anti-war demonstration, and "hundreds" for the pro-war group. This report replaces the earlier one.


  Why Colorado?
If you were wondering why the Shrubbery went to Colorado to watch the news coverage instead of watching from the White House situation room: Cindy Sheehan is outside the White House with a few friends.

What a wimp!


  Good News
Steve, Stella, Samantha, and Tabitha has made it through with only minor damage in Houston.

Update: The People's Republic of Seabrook is also in good shape.


Friday, September 23, 2005
  After The Storm
A few thoughts about venturing out after the storm is passed. If there is no immediate need, wait for daylight. Many things have probably been rearranged outside and you probably haven't been sleeping well, so wait until you are rested and there is good light before going outside.

Wear heavy boots, sturdy pants, a long sleeved shirt, and work gloves. If you have access to a hard hat, wear it. You should use a mosquito repellant before going outside and take a stout stick with you.

Proceed cautiously and scan your surroundings, including what's overhead. Stuff gets blown around, ends up in trees or on roofs, and may drop. Large limbs may have broken, but are caught in lower limbs. There are a lot of things that might fall on you after the storm, so you need to look for them.

There are a lot of creatures that don't like getting wet, so they will climb up on to things to avoid the water, or warm up. That's the reason for the stout stick. There's not much point in just killing them, but with a six-foot closet rod you could encourage them to seek other accommodations at minimal risk.

A dry wooden stick may be necessary if you notice that the electric lines are no longer connected to your house. Don't assume that the power is off. If you can locate the ends mark the area in some way and put a sign up on the power pole on the street indicating that there are down lines. The power company will have crews checking on damage, and while they probably won't reattach them to your house immediately, they can handle the lines safely and get them out of your yard. Treat any broken wire as high voltage electrical unless you know that it isn't.

You are surveying damage, but should concentrate on things that might cause further damage or injury if not dealt with immediately. If something is damaged to the point of instability you might want to push over in a convenient direction, as in not on your car or house. If you have roof damage you need to think about getting a tarp or plastic sheeting to cover the damage to prevent further leaking until permanent repairs.

Take a realistic look at your experience and capability before deciding to do something yourself, and hold off on anything dangerous until medical assistance is available.

Pace yourself until the power is back on and you have access to air conditioning. Drink water and rest frequently. If you have finished your yard, help your neighbors. If you have older people in your area, check on them.


  Hurricane Evacuation Routes
A little suggestion for emergency management officials in Texas: Why don't you read what Alabama and Florida do for evacuations, especially concerning making major roads one-way?

When we need to evacuate officials announce the evacuation and announce the time at which they are going to turn roads one-way to facilitate evacuation. The Department of Transportation takes care of the signage and it is done by starting inland and working towards the coast to flush out the traffic already on the road.

It's really simple to do and it doesn't require specialized training. You also do it early in the evacuation to get people out of the way. The longer you wait, the greater the risk of creating parking lots on Interstates.


  Just In Case You Thought There Was Going To Be Competence
On All Things Considered [audio link] Adam Davidson's story, Texas Towns Brace for Possible Direct Hit, deals with preparations in Jefferson County, Texas, the probable location where Rita will come ashore.

After listening to what's being done, and what isn't, they talk to Carl Griffith, County Judge and a member of the Jefferson County Office of Emergency Management.

The county made a decision five years ago that they didn't have the resources to deal with an evacuation on their own, so they contracted with a company to provide 200 buses and 700 ambulances if it became necessary to evacuate.

Faced with Rita, they called, the company responded, and then the state of Texas commandeered the buses and ambulances for Houston. Jefferson County ended up with a few buses and 15 extra ambulances.

A lot of people who wanted to leave or needed to leave are stuck, left behind by the state of Texas.

Hopefully there will be few injuries or deaths from Rita, but what good does it do for local governments to plan, and pay for their plans for years, when the state steps in and seizes their emergency assets when they are most needed? Where was the state and Federal help for Jefferson County?


  Buttoned Up For Now
Steve Bates has shut down and buttoned up to await the storm. His regular site and e-mail have been down so he has been using The YDD Annex. It is possible that he will be off-line for a while due to power and connectivity issues.

It looks like Beaumont is the new landfall target, and like the New Orleans Times-Picayune, The Beaumont Enterprise is going to be publishing on the Internet until regular printing can resume after the storm.

As Rita has moderated, we can hope that we are not looking at a large death toll again.


  Two More Months
Tropical Weather Outlook - Statement as of 10:30 PM EDT on September 22, 2005:
A broad area of low pressure has formed about 500 miles south of Bermuda...and a few hundred miles southwest of Tropical Storm Philippe. Thunderstorm activity is somewhat limited...but this system has the potential for some gradual development during the next couple of days.
No one wants to hear this. We all need a break. Everyone needs to decompress and process all of the information we have received.

[Editor: That link automatically updates. There are now two areas of interest.]


  Friday Cat Blogging [™ Kevin Drum]

Right Foot Conspiracy

Friday Cat Blogging

Oh, no! Busted!

[Editor: Why only right shoes?]

Friday Ark


Thursday, September 22, 2005
  A Verbal Mugging
In case you missed it: Phil Donahue versus Bill O'Reilly [video link] from Crooks & Liars or [transcript] from Newshounds.


  A Bridge Too Far
Most people are aware of the incredibly stupid bridge that Don Young, the Chairman of the House Transportation Committee stuck in that slab of fatback called the Transportation Bill. The Gravina bridge is often quoted as costing $230 million, but the real cost will be around $315 million. This is a bridge between two islands with a total of less 9,000 people affected that will put a ferry service out of business.

Some are of the opinion that the real reason for the bridge is to promote residential development on the island with the airport, which currently has 50 residents who work at the airport.

Don is Alaska's only Congressman so he is always hustling for projects to bring Federal dollars to Alaska, as exemplified by this press release: Delegation Announces Grants And Loans To Alaska Programs. As this table shows, he manages to get Alaska about $6.50 for every dollar Alaska sends to the Federal government in transportation taxes.

The thing is Alaskans don't pay state taxes. State government is funded by the $31.5 billion permanent fund created from the North Slope oil field and pipeline. With the rising price of oil they are becoming more comfortable than ever. You would probably wonder why he thinks he needs all of this money from other states when the state of Alaska makes an annual payment to every person who has been a legal resident of Alaska for a year.

While the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Alaska dividend payout drops for fifth straight year, every "eligible man, woman and child will receive $845.76 just for living in Alaska"

If Alaskans really want that bridge they can afford to build it without adding to the Federal deficit.

I think that most people have seen that there is a major lack of transportation resources along the Gulf coast, and that lack makes hurricane evacuations rather problematical. It would be nice if there were at least one four-lane road North out of every county on the Florida Panhandle, and if the main East-West road, Interstate 10 wasn't so readily damaged in a hurricane. But that can't be important or the states along the Gulf coast would get more than 85¢ back for every dollar they pay in Federal transportation taxes.


  Why We Should Tax The Rich Until They Qualify For Food Stamps
We absolutely can't instill common sense in these people, so we have to confiscate their money for their own good and the good of society.

South of Pensacola there is a barrier island named Perdido Key. The island keeps getting sliced and diced by storms, and not just major hurricanes. Unlike other barrier islands where you lease land and there is an authority to limit what you can do, Perdido Key is owned by private individuals and the most the government can do is strictly enforce building codes and then send in the front loaders to scrape up the debris that started as houses from the public right-of-way.

As CBS reports nothing stops development. Every time someone's house is deposited in a landfill, developers rush in to build another high-rise luxury building.

With penthouses selling for $1 million+, it is obvious that some people have too much money and need to be separated from it for their own good. Escambia County can't make enough in taxes to pay the costs associated with having to provide services to the island. With more and more people living on it, evacuating it is a major problem.


  Yellow Doggerel Update:
For the moment Steve, Stella and the cats are staying put in Houston. They are not in the mandatory evacuation area and the roads are clogged with the people that are.

Under the Houston plan, after you get on one of the evacuation routes you have to go where they direct you. This only makes sense if you are aware that Houston is the fourth most populous city in the US with over 2 million people and there are almost 5 million people living in and around the city. There aren't that many major roads in the area, and they will have been converted to one way to effect the evacuation.

With more than 1.3 million people in the mandatory evacuation zone it is going to take a while to get out and there are not apt to be any motel rooms available within a couple of hundred miles of Houston.

Steve is staying at Stella's place and doesn't have access to his blog except for comments. He has been watching comments on his More Rita Blogging post.

His regular blog is hosted locally and is apt to be down when the power is lost, so he will have to use his YDD Annex on Blogspot if he can get on-line.

The people along the Texas coast need to be held in your thoughts and prayers. They also need your voices after the storm passes to be sure that they get the aid that wasn't provided in Louisiana.

UPDATE:[09/22 - 0830 CDT] The main site is down, so Steve is at YDD Annex until further notice.

UPDATE:[09/22 - 1130 CDT] Steve's host has come back on line with a back-up, but it is not the current page and Steve can't access it. So stay with the YDD Annex.


Wednesday, September 21, 2005
  Rita Drove By
She's 500 miles south but her outer bands are dropping rain on us and generating thunderstorms. No more than an inch is expected but there is heavy surf on the coast.

Just to help us out the Shrubbery is sending the 842nd Signal Company of the Reserves to Iraq for a year. Well, Santa Rosa county [to my west] didn't really need the 90 men and their mobile communications equipment. Fortunately those who were in Mississippi repairing telephone lines got back, or they would have been AWOL. I'm sure Bell South and Sprint don't mind losing repair people, nor do the communities mind losing cops and firemen, right?

It would be nice if Rita would stall and spin down to a tropical storm from her current Cat 5 status, but that's not likely to happen. The best vibes from the Panhandle go to those in the path.


  Giving A Hand
Mississippi town feels forgotten in recovery
PEARLINGTON, Mississippi (AP) -- For more than a week, Pearlington survived largely on its own.

Then, 10 days after Hurricane Katrina annihilated this tiny hamlet on the Louisiana state line, Jeff McVay and five other members of a state emergency response team from Walton County, Florida, arrived at the request of Hancock County.

McVay, who's been through many hurricanes, was stunned by what he found -- a town that had nothing but a place to get water, ice and military-issued meals. There was no Red Cross. There was no shelter. He called home and asked for six more men.
Walton County is the next county to the east of me, so they've experienced the same storms I have and know the drill on recovery.

Notice he called back to Walton County for more people, knowing that he wasn't going to get support from FEMA, and Hancock County called because they weren't getting any help from the state.

This is why we are working with local officials and organization in the affected areas: the people in charge of the effort don't know what they are doing and we are well aware of that after Ivan. The Red Cross is trying to coordinate its efforts with a group that doesn't actually understand the concept of coordination, even though that is their main function.

Keep this story in mind when you hear the governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour, talk about how great things are going.


  Harry Reid Just Says No
CNN says Top Senate democrat opposes Roberts. Harry says he doesn't have enough information to be comfortable voting for Roberts, especially since the White House refused to give the Senate all of the documents that were requested.

The White House responds:
Dana Perino, White House deputy press secretary, said in response to Reid's remarks that Roberts was "clearly qualified in terms of intellect, ethics and temperament, and it would be unfortunate if some in the Senate use his confirmation to seek to change the historic approach to Supreme Court confirmations."
Apparently no one in this White House can remember what "advice and consent" means. The Republicans have totally changed the procedure for handling nominations of all kinds and have politicized the process. The historic approach was to consult with the Senate before making nominations, and to release documents 12 years after a President left office.


  New Orleans Isn't The Only Problem
CBS has an article on the barrier islands in the Gulf:Katrina-Damaged Islands Overlooked.

The barrier islands and wetlands have to be replenished or the area will take a bigger hit the next time a hurricane hits. These features act as natural seawalls against the storm surge. If they aren't re-established the same storm surge that Katrina generated will come on shore with even more force.


  Insurance Realities
This MSNBC article, Homeowners at odd with their insurers, shows why the government has to get involved in what should be a private sector problem.
The storm surge from Lake Pontchartrain, whipped up by Katrina, put a neighbor's hot tub and boat in Warren Willoz's back yard. He hopes his $150,000 flood policy covers the damage done to his $275,000 house. But already there are issues.

"They said they'll only cover the bottom cabinets but not the top," says Willoz, "because the water didn't get up high enough to damage the top."
Flood insurance is a government program, because the private sector refuses to offer the protection. Corporations, which the Founding Fathers suspected of being criminal enterprises, are predicated on reducing risks. Today insurance companies don't want to insure anyone who might file a claim. The government is stuck picking up the slack, because the corporate private sector doesn't want to work for its money.


Tuesday, September 20, 2005
  Selective Memory
Terry at Nitpicker has a long post, Memories on the reaction among the wingnuts to the Big Dog pointing out what an incompetent the Shrubbery has been.

It seems like they forget that Shrubbery blamed every that has gone wrong on the Clinton administration, or that Reagan and Bush the Elder were constantly kvetching about what Clinton was doing.

This is the same as when they claimed that only supporters of the enemy complained about American policy when there were troops in danger. Many of those making the claim are on record complaining almost daily during the Bosnia and Kosovo campaigns. A few of them were repeating Milosovic talking points as Serbian forces were shooting at American aircraft.



  Our Government Is A Bunch Of Rude Louts
In their report, Canadian warships leave U.S. Gulf Coast after finishing hurricane mission, the CBC notes:
On Wednesday, the coast guard ship was told not to unload all of its relief supplies when it was in Pensacola, since some of the items such as tents were no longer required.
Somehow I think that people in small towns in Mississippi and Louisiana would be prepared to argue that large tents are very much needed where they are, because they have no confidence anything else will be provided for them.

By now you've read that the FDA has declared that German and British military rations are "unfit for human consumption" and will be burned. As anyone who has ever eaten MREs will tell you there are no military rations fit for human consumption, but you eat them anyway because they will keep you alive. They are a damn sight better than FEMA promises.

No agency that permits the sale of Chicken McNuggets has the right to look down its nose at "creamed braunschweiger on toast" or "bangers with mashed peas".

As my Mother used to tell me: "You eat those cookies and tell your Grandmother how much you love them! She thinks you like them, so she bakes them, and you will love them!" Society doesn't always make sense, but it works.


  A Hurricane Is More Than The Eye
SciGuy points out that the thin black line that indicates the path of the eye of the storm is the center of the destruction and the most powerful part of the storm, but not the totality.

When Katrina came ashore there were hurricane force winds all the way to the Alabama-Florida border and tropical storm force winds east to Panama City, Florida. A tornado may only be a block wide, but hurricanes are corridors of destruction hundreds of miles wide.

If Rita hits Lake Charles, Louisiana, Houston to New Orleans have a problem.

Right now it looks like Northstar of The People's Republic of Seabrook picked the right time to visit Virginia and Steve Bates of The Yellow Doggerel Democrat is breathing a little easier.

I'm reaching an age when I will evacuate because I'm getting really tired of dealing with the mess.

If we run through Stan, Tammy, Vince, and Wilma, they will designate the storms with the Greek alphabet. I have a problem with filing a damage claim base on being hit by a Beta hurricane. The IT and Sci-Fi jokes would be too much.


  House Prices
Former Dublin tool shed snapped up for $350,000.

A 10 by 28 foot building originally used as a tool shed has sold in Dublin, Ireland for three-eights of a million dollars. There's no yard, no famous crime was committed there, nothing of note was created there, no one famous slept there, and it's worth $350,000!?


Monday, September 19, 2005
  Avast Ye Lubbers!
It’ll be double rations of grog all around in the galley as ye throw the pasta and pesto down your gullet for the final day of Pasta Week, on Talk Like a Pirate Day.
Belay that! ‘T’would be better done by swilling lambrusco directly from the flask!


Sunday, September 18, 2005
  Here and There
Wanda was commenting at Steve's place and referring the Shrubbery's "Fantasyland" speech providing the basis for a great country song: "Thing is, I can't bear looking at his lying eyes and hearing his tired old alibis."

Let's see: Brown-drown, shoes-blues, guitar-Qatar, later-'gator...

Some good news heard on this week's This American Life, a lady survived in her flooded house by resting atop her Stearns & Foster queen-sized mattress for most of week. I've never considered use as a floatation device when buying a mattress before.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel was irritated when they discovered that people who weren't within 100 miles of a hurricane had gotten FEMA checks before the election last year. So they have looked the agency's record and today is the first of a two-part series: FEMA: A Legacy of Waste.

People who need help can't get it, but other people are making out like bandits.

[Update 9/19: Part II now available.]

Steve over at No More Mr. Nice Blog looks at a Richard Brookhiser column in the New York Observer and generally agrees that no one would have complained about the Marines or Army being sent in immediately to maintain order until help arrived.

In an oil dependent world Australia hosts a great event: World Solar Challenge, a race from Darwin to Adelaide in solar-powered cars. With a straight-line distance of over 1600 miles, or about the same distance as from New Orleans to San Diego, it is a major test of solar technology.
The race starts next weekend.

On Friday's show · Sept. 16, 2005, Fresh Air from WHYY presented an interview with historian and author Douglas Brinkley who teaches at Tulane University and was displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

He has since returned to New Orleans begun gathering oral histories -- he hopes to collect as many as 20,000 -- for a book, tentatively titled The Great Deluge.

He doesn't want the truth of what happened forgotten. He is concerned that if the situation isn't immediately documented there will be an effort to "forget" what really happened.

He stayed in New Orleans during the hurricane, then evacuated his family and returned, so he knew the conditions regarding access to the city and some of the efforts to block assistance reaching those who couldn't leave.


Saturday, September 17, 2005
  USS Bataan

USS Bataan crest
USS Bataan [LHD-5]

As hurricane Katrina moved up the Gulf taking aim at New Orleans, Captain Nora Tyson and the crew of the USS Bataan were right behind it.

By coincidence this vessel, based in Norfolk, Virginia, was operating in the Gulf. Jo Fish might know of another class of US vessel that was better, but I can't imagine anything more suited to aiding coastal cities.

The Bataan is a multipurpose amphibious assault ship. She was designed to support landing Marines on a shore. She has a flight deck for her helicopters and VTOL aircraft, she has amphibious landing craft, she has a 600-bed hospital, and she can generate 100,000 gallons of drinking water a day. Everything that was needed was there: food, water, medical care, transportation, communications, mobile generators, everything was on that ship and it arrived within range as Katrina hit New Orleans.

Northern Command, the area command for US operations, was ready to go. They put people on alert to leap into action. All they needed was the word from the President.

The helicopters from the Bataan rushed in with Coast Guard helicopters on search and rescue [SAR] missions, but no one was transferred to the hospital and none of her supplies was used in New Orleans.

At some point, someone in FEMA made the decision that the way to deal with New Orleans was to evacuate the city, so there was no need for supplies in the city. Not being clear on geography, that "no aid" decision was apparently applied to all of the parishes around New Orleans.

The Bataan was later shifted East and helped support operations on the Mississippi coast, but she could have held the patients from all of the hospitals and nursing homes in the area. She could have supplied water to the people of New Orleans and a lot of food. She could have saved a lot more people if she had been allowed to do what she was capable of doing.

I hope that the Navy and DoD are generous with awards for the vessel and her crew. They did their duty and would have done a lot more if they had been allowed.


  Giving Credit Where Credit's Due
I'm sick of it! I keep hearing supposedly intelligent people saying that the Shrubbery deserves credit for accepting "responsibility" for the failed response. He hasn't even apologized.


He is wasting money flying around the country staging photo ops while he should be in Washington getting things done. If he spent some time in the office, he might find out what was going on, and that goes for his entire administration. If his people can light Jackson Square in a few hours for a photo op, why didn't they have lights in the SuperDome for days? Are those generators and the fuel to run them only available for photo ops?

He failed to call in the military. The military wasn't used because of George W. Bush, not the laws.

Bush has maxed out his credit account. A minimal payment after years of abusing that account, doesn't cut it. People raised his credit limit after September 11th, but he has been wasting it.

People died.


Friday, September 16, 2005
  The View From Afar, Part 2
Leigh Sales of Australian Broadcasting has Part 2 of her observations on-line.

[John Travolta is more important than an Australian Consul General according to the Red Cross?]


  Camille versus Katrina
You keep hearing how terrible Katrina, what an unprecedented event it represented. Is that true? Have they checked?

If you go back to the records of hurricane Camille in 1969 you will find that it was a more powerful storm and made a more direct hit on New Orleans than Katrina. Camille didn't flood the city, like Katrina did, because it moved at an angle, west of north, and moved over the city. That meant it was pushing the water of Lake Pontchartrain away from the city.

Katrina came in traveling due north and passed to the east of the city. After the eye was northeast of the city, its winds were pushing the water of the Lake back into the city, which caused the levees to break. The path of Katrina also caused the more massive surge on the Mississippi coast and higher winds in Mississippi than Camille, because of the track it followed.


  Brainless Twit
Last night the guy who keeps claiming the Constitution contains no restraints said:
...It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces, the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moment's notice.
The authority was there, based on a declaration of emergency, all that was needed was someone to say GO!. That was his job, and he didn't do it. His Dad did it. The Big Dog did it. But Karl forgot to tell the Shrubbery to order the military to assist.

The air-conditioned tents, "water buffalo" tankers, bridges, amphibious vehicles, field hospitals, field kitchens, dozens of aircraft types: all available, and all unused because the President didn't issue an order.

The real restriction on the use of the military in the US is law enforcement, and that restriction doesn't apply to the National Guard or the Coast Guard. There were more than enough law enforcement officers available, but they needed communications, vehicles, and other equipment that was under water.

If there had been food, water, portable toilets, and transportation out of the flooded area, the looting and civil disorder would never have gotten as bad as it did.


  Friday Cat Blogging [™ Kevin Drum]

Hanging with Sox

Friday Cat Blogging

Does she have be there?

[Editor: Ringo has decided that annoying Sox is a worthy goal.]

Friday Ark


Thursday, September 15, 2005
  Black, Poor, Old, Sick Or Disabled
The words of the Australian journalist who toured the Gulf coast state a truth that most of America would like to ignore. Get over it.

The Gretna Police would not have let Oprah Winfrey or Bill Cosby walk over that bridge.

How many of the talking heads couldn't understand that some people just didn't have the money to evacuate. There were people who thought they needed money to be rescued. The working poor get bills for ambulance rides and emergency room visits. If the poor fit the stereotype of the talking heads they would have called limos for a ride.

The old get to lie down and die from dehydration while the people who are supposed to be in charge argue about who should be bringing in clean water.

The sick or disabled lay in nursing homes while the owners dither about evacuation. As the floodwaters rise, unable to escape, they drown.

If you voted for Bush/Cheney, this is your fault. This is what you voted for.

If you claim to be a Christian you know the moral answer to: "Am I my brother's keeper?"


  Don't Forget Mississippi
While the governor of Mississippi is busy sucking up to the Shrubbery, the people of southern Mississippi have been forgotten by FEMA.

Locally we are gathering supplies and shipping them West while providing refuge to many displaced people from the coast and New Orleans. We are working full out because they helped us after Ivan. The road is open now and we can ship things to them without having to go through the Federal or state government for distribution. Our county treasurer is a leader in the effort, spurred on, no doubt, by the lack of response he has seen from FEMA since Ivan. He is a local elected official, so it would be redundant to say he was a Republican or conservative. He knows what the local governments in Mississippi can expect so he has turned to raising funds and goods to help.

I whipped by Sam's Club to get some towels for the last load because everyone knows the importance of a towel.

This is the area that the Australian reporter went to from Mobile, and there aren't enough local government resources left to do people much good.

When comes to the fuel pipeline that runs from Texas to New Jersey, Dick Cheney manages to pop-up from his hole in the ground to harass the local power company to restore power to the pipeline before hospitals, claiming that it's a matter of "National Security" that the Northeast not suffer from an inconvenience while poor people in Mississippi are suffering.

If Dick knew to call on August 30th, what happened to the rest of his administration.

Utility companies have detailed plans for restoring power after a hurricane. Those plans are given to other companies who will come in to help. They have been created using computer modeling to get power to shelters, hospitals, and nursing homes first, then restoring lines in a predetermined order based on where there are outages and where power is available. When the plan is altered and the sequence changed, that has a ripple effect on the entire plan.

There is some good news in Mississippi: State to sue insurers over flood damage
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood plans to sue insurance companies to force them to pay for flood damage to homes in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, a source familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

The Democrat[sic] attorney general believes that Katrina's horrific winds caused the flooding, said the source, who declined to be named.
[I notice that CNN/Money is also unaware of the adjectival form: Democratic.]


  Global Warming and Hurricanes
I haven't read anything suggesting that we are having a greater number of tropical waves because of global warming. The frequency of tropical waves is cyclical and we are in a period of more frequent storms after nearly two decades of calm.

Global warming affects the surface temperature of the oceans, and while a single degree of increase may not seem like much, it has been sufficient to turn more of those waves into depressions, more depressions into storms, more storms into hurricanes, and more hurricanes are becoming major hurricanes. There is more energy available. It is the intensity of the storms that has increased.

Four of the eight most expensive storms in US records hit Florida last year.

Andrew, in 1992, was the first named storm of the season when it hit in August. There were only six named storms that year. Katrina was the 11 named storm in August of this year, and we have had four named storms since.


  Holy Pasta Week

The Day of His Noodly Appendage

The holiest of holidays for Pastafarrians, is of course the birthday of His Most Holy Prophet, Marco Polo (b. Sept 15, 1254), who brought the word of his Noodly Appendage back from the East. As Talk Like A Pirate Day falls on September 19th, this five-day period constitutes Holy Pasta Week, during which spaghetti is consumed liberally. With a nice Chianti, of course.
[...and people think librarians lack a sense of humor.]

Wednesday, September 14, 2005
  Oh, NO!
I have made the snarky comment in a number of places that somehow this mess was going to be fault of the Democrats.

So, I'm checking CNN and on the right in the "Watch Free Video" box is: Dems to Blame for Brown Hire?

I swear there are no more "conspiracy theories", "tinfoil hats" have no meaning - when the Coke bottle dropped out of the sky it hit me on the head. This is insane and it is presented by a major media outlet.

And people wonder why Jon Stewart is the most trusted source for news.


  As I Said
The Times Picayune carries an article about one family discovering the truth about their homeowner's insurance: Debate over wind, flood damage rages.

I'd forgotten about the $250,000 limit on the flood insurance, but I knew that the insurance companies were going to screw policyholders. If any damage can be shown to be caused by flooding, they will claim everything is flood related. The insurance companies are going to claim massive payouts, but many policyholders will get nothing. Remember that the people in the article filed a claim and that will show up on their records, even though the company doesn't intend to pay them anything.


Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler was upset in his September 6th post about Senator Mary Landrieu referring to her family's waterfront home as a "camp". Bob feels that she should have talked about a million dollar home on the water.

The problem for Bob, and other people who are not native to the Gulf coast region, is that they think in terms of what is being built by the newcomers, and not what the old-timers build.

Those of us who grew up down here, like Ms. Landrieu, expect that anything built near the water will be wiped out by a hurricane. You built "fish camps" down by the water to go fishing, not to live in permanently, and many were built from the debris after a storm.

When people started moving down, they were amazed at the amount of vacant land by the water, with even fisherman living well back from the water. Locals did not build anything permanent on the barrier islands or on the coast of the Gulf: they knew better.

The increase in deaths and destruction are a result of people building on land that locals knew would flood in a hurricane. When Ramada Inn put a sunken bar in their hotel on the local barrier island, most of the locals thought they were going to have an indoor swimming pool, which it became after the first hurricane.


  Private Failure
You may remember the emotional interview with Mr. Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, describing the head of his emergency management team talking to his mother in a nursing home as the waters were rising. The lady was in St. Rita's Nursing Home in the town of Chalmette, and she drowned.

MSNBC reports that Louisiana nursing home owners charged in 34 deaths. The owners, Salvador A. Mangano and his wife, Mable, were charged with negligent homicide. Each count carries up to five years in prison.

They had been required to have an evacuation plan and demonstrate the ability to implement it. They had repeatedly been asked by authorities if they needed assistance to evacuate, and declined offers of help.

In an audio link on Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans, Robert Siegel talks with The Washington Post's Doug Struck on the situation in that hospital and its failure to evacuate patients.

The owners of the hospital, Tenet HealthSystem Medical, Inc., acted surprised when Louisiana officials contacted them and asked them how they were going to evacuate their patients.

Over 40 bodies were recovered from Memorial.

Rook offers his riff on St. Rita, Court Costs, with a CNN link.


  Premeditated Poetry
An audio link from All Things Considered provides you with A Dream of New Orleans, Interrupted by Andrei Codrescu, a writer/poet from Romania who adopted New Orleans as his home.

New Orleans was a gateway to Faery, neither here nor there, a place between. It was industrial and whimsical. It embraced everything and everyone. Obscene wealth was linked to grinding poverty by a streetcar. There is no good way of explaining New Orleans; it had to be experienced.

Charles at The Fulcrum shared his memories of the "Big Easy" earlier.


  When FEMA Worked
I have been looking for articles on hurricane Opal in 1995 to give people a clearer vision of how FEMA once functioned and stumbled across Another flood, another FEMA, a comparison between New Orleans and the Grand Forks, ND flood of 1997 in the Minneapolis Star Tribune by Ashley Shelby.

Jillian came to the article via a different route.

Go and read what FEMA was capable of under competent leaders.


  The Delayed Losses
I wrote about the possible loss of hospitals in the New Orleans region because of the diaspora, but another loss may be The Times-Picayune.

A powerful voice for the people of New Orleans during this crisis and a certain contender for multiple awards for their continuing coverage in the face of massive obstacles, the newspaper requires subscribers and advertisers to exist.

I fear that circumstances are working against the paper and another voice of reason may be lost.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005
  Vacancy On The Court
In his opening remarks John Roberts gave people the impression that he was a humble Indiana farm boy, not the corporate attorney with a multi-million dollar portfolio that he actually is.

That portfolio, under the current rules of the Supreme Court, will sideline him during many of the cases coming before the Court according to this CNN article.

Since the rules say he must recuse himself when his private interests are affected by the case before the court, what's the rush to appoint him? Many of the cases on tap are going to be before an 8 Justice panel whether he's confirmed or not.


  Health Care Crisis
The health care system around New Orleans that survived the hurricane and flood and is ready to receive patients may be destroyed by the diaspora of the population.

CNN reports that: New Orleans hospitals need patients, money to stay open.


  The New Orleans Police Department
The BBC report, New Orleans police under pressure deals with some of the realities of NOPD: "Almost 80% of police are homeless. More than 400 of the city's 1,750 officers are still missing."

The US Capitol Police, responsible only for Capitol Hill, has three officers per member of Congress, essentially the same size as the NOPD.


  The View From Afar
Australian Broadcasting sent their North America correspondent, Leigh Sales, to report on the aftermath of Katrina along the Gulf coast.

Her report, Hurricane Katrina: Reporter's diary, ends with this paragraph:

"The story is devastating to cover. It seems impossible to escape the conclusion that if you are black, poor, old, sick or disabled, you are a second-class citizen in this country."


Monday, September 12, 2005
Our friends from the Great White North are working to open Bayou La Batre, a small Alabama fishing port. The Canadian salvage divers are working to raise vessels and clear the entrance to the bayou.

If you need a break, drop by 3 Old Men and check out Mickey's China trip.

After you have come to grips with what happened you can hear stories from some of the people swept up by the storm at This American Life, a Public Radio International program, broadcast on NPR stations.

The show, After the Flood, will be available as a RealAudio stream next week, or they would be happy to sell you a CD. Some programs are available as Podcasts, but they can't always do that because of releases and copyrights.

Don't listen if you are down.

Brown is toast. How can you expect a man who can't deal with criticism to handle emergencies?

Maybe he can go out and get a real job for his resumé.

Update: If you are a fan of puns, go immediately to Dark Bilious Vapors and see Len.


Sunday, September 11, 2005
  New Orleans Deaths
Evacuation to his brother's house in Texas and loss of his own house in Slidell, Louisiana probably contributed to the death of Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown a blues/jazz/Cajun musician at age 81.

Commenting on what happened in his city, Dr. John said:

"It makes me think of what my friend Reverend Goat just told me: 'Let me say this before it goes any further; New Orleans didn't die of natural causes, she was murdered.'"

...and the fifth rider was mounted not upon a horse, but a massive pachyderm with wild eyes and no reins; and this rider was called Incompetence and was the most dangerous for his brethren followed close on his path.


  Survival School
Part of earning your Combat Crew badge was attending survival schools.

The basic school was at Fairchild AFB outside of Spokane, Washington. You learned the basics of escape and evasion: map reading, compass use, unarmed combat, camping, etc. The testing was practical, in the Cascade Mountains with limited food and 50 miles to cover.

Before entering the POW camp you were required to crawl through an obstacle course with things blowing up all around you. In the POW camp you were subjected to duress.

Then there was sea survival at MacDill AFB on Tampa Bay - you got very wet, and the equipment was designed not to work flawlessly, so you could learn to improvise.

For jungle survival you went to the Philippines to get chased all over the place by a local tribe [Negritos] hired to make your life miserable.

Arctic survival at Eielson AFB, near Fairbanks, Alaska provided camping to -40°.

After going through it you supplemented what the Air Force provided with purchases from camping stores.

They ought send FEMA's management to survival schools.

We could drop a mock-up roof in a swimming pool and let them experience life in an attic while the water rises.

Maybe put them in jon boats anchored out in Lake Pontchartrain for a few days without food and water.

We could use a hog factory barn to simulate conditions in the SuperDome, followed by a couple of days in the yard of an Alabama maximum security prison, during August, without food or water.

After completing all those things I would load them onto buses and take them to one of the current recovery shelters with only the clothes on their backs and nothing in their pockets to experience what evacuees have to go through.

After you go through survival school you have a feeling for how difficult things can be and why people want a rapid response.


  Truth in Headlines
This CBC article nails it: First Katrina recovery contracts go to Bush friends.


  September 11, 2001
Approximately 3,000 people died and the individual most responsible is still at large - why?

In the intervening four years we have spent hundreds of billions of dollars, trampled on peoples rights, created huge new structures, and can't respond as well as the third world to a natural disaster.

In November of 2004 people assumed they had elected a "strong leader" - where is he?

We don't need more people to act like they care by talking to victims; we need people with the leadership that would have prevented many of those people from becoming victims.

After the September 11th attack we were told that nothing could have been done because the information wasn't specific enough. This time the information couldn't have been more specific or more accurate, and they still failed to provide protection for the American people.

With our nation's flags at half-staff in mourning for the lives lost in this disaster, the Pentagon is holding a march and a concert in the nation's capitol. As Joseph Welch said to Senator Joseph McCarthy: "Have You No Sense of Decency?"


Saturday, September 10, 2005
  A Modest Proposal
The hurricane states should demand that the Federal government re-start the draft whenever military operations require National Guard units be Federalized for more than six months. In addition, the Pentagon should be supplying the equipment for operations outside the US.

If there aren’t enough regular troops for a period that long, the regular military needs to be increased in size, and only a draft will ensure that the necessary increase will be achieved.

The coastal states should stop acting like a temp agency for Rumsfield.


  This And That
Remember Rumsfeld's claim that his base closing plan would generate $50 billion in savings? He was a little off, about $30 billion high.

The BRAC commission reports that $30 billion of the claimed savings are based on a reduction of military personnel on closed facilities. However those people aren't being eliminated, they are being moved to other bases.

Sixty percent of Rumsfield's claim was BOGUS!

The Otter, a doctor working in New Orleans, reports that the Army Chemical Corps has found Cholera, Hepatitis A, and Hepatitis B in the water. This is in addition to the fecal and lead contamination already reported.

Anything that was flooded by this mess is going to be next to impossible to disinfect. It's about time that the debris was treated as hazardous waste, not construction waste. If they don't keep it out of the ground, it will show up in the water.

Another physician of note is: Ben Marble, MD, the individual who quoted Dick Cheney on live television.

If anyone wonders why he was perturbed, you can see Dr. Ben's house, after Katrina's extreme make-over.


  To The Gretna Police Department
Regarding your road block on the bridge out of New Orleans:
United States Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 13 , Section 242

Deprivation of rights under color of law

Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.
You might want to get together with some lawyers that have been admitted to the Federal bar. People died because they could not get out of New Orleans.


  Weekend Rant
I have a separate page up on the FEMA disaster declarations with maps showing the winds from Katrina and the areas of the states that FEMA declared eligible for assistance. The maps are large to show the counties.

State and local officials got about 90% of the people to evacuate, and had to deal with the 10% that couldn't or wouldn't leave. They didn't have the resources or time to force people out.

The famous "200 school buses" didn't belong to the mayor of New Orleans so he would have had to find 200 people who could hot-wire and drive a bus, fuel for the buses, and then travel around the city to transport another 15,000 people - if he had remembered they existed under the pressure of the approaching storm.

It might surprise some people, but bus drivers are not considered "first responders", or "essential personnel". The bus drivers evacuated with their families.

While there were about 4,000 Louisiana Guardsmen available, their equipment was in Iraq. Yes, the special equipment designed for use in the swamps of Louisiana was sitting in a desert. That equipment included their generators and communications gear.

At the heart of the problem was a total break down of communications. They were left with short-range radios that quickly failed as the batteries ran down. The vehicles with radios were lost in the flood. Without communications the police in New Orleans couldn't be used effectively. Without communications, the state didn't know what was available in the areas that were struck, or what was needed. Ninety thousand square miles of the United States was damaged by this storm. That's a square 300 miles on a side.

In the aftermath of the hurricane and flood there was no way of coordinating efforts. There was almost no means of transport left in the city, and many of the first responders died in the storm.

As of today, the Federal government as still not delivered communications equipment requested by the governor. Local officials are talking to the media because that's the only way they have of communicating and it's one-way.

The bulk of the looting could have been eliminated with food and water airdrops. If food and water are available the majority of people aren't going to break into stores and there are un-looted stores with food and water in them in the city of New Orleans. The looting started because the local public supplies were generally under water, and no outside supplies were sent in to replace what was ruined.

Along with food and water, it would have been nice if they had dropped a few thousand of these things: light & radio - crank, solar, and battery powered unit that retails for $30, weighs 2 pounds, and can receive AM, FM, & short-wave signals.

I would prefer a stripped down model, perhaps only a single band radio that could be readily available through local emergency management offices for $10, and handed out to food stamp recipients.


Friday, September 09, 2005
  She's Okay
Riverbend at Baghdad Burning has her first post up since July 15th.

Go and read her reasons for yourself.


  Why Are You Here?
You need to be over at NPR listening to two reports from Daniel Zwerdling and Laura Sullivan of All Things Considered:

Katrina Timeline: Unexecuted Plans

Katrina Timeline: Misdirected Aid

Chertoff may think that sending Michael Brown to his room for a "time out" shows leadership, but the Federal government is now paying someone else to do Brown's job while Brown continues to receive his paycheck.

[Editor: Bloody Blogger is down for "scheduled maintenance" for an hour.]


  Can It Get Worse? [of course it can]
So they tell you to call their 1-800 number, but it's overwhelmed, so you find a guy with a computer, a Mac, and an Internet connection to sign up at their web site.

You log on only to discover that they require you to use Internet Explorer 6.0 to complete their form, and IE 6.0 doesn't exist for the Mac.

You have been FEMA'd!

[Editor: Heard on the BBC World Service.]


  Friday Cat Blogging [™ Kevin Drum]

Ringo Sleeping

Friday Cat Blogging


[Editor: Ringo has been learning many weird things from Sox.]

Friday Ark


Thursday, September 08, 2005
  Thank You Canada


St. Bernard parish was in dire straits, but 50 EMTs from Vancouver got to them to help rescue people trapped in the flooded area.

My neighbor, the schoolbus driver, has five elementary school kids on her bus now from St. Bernard parish.

Thank you for remaining friends in spite of our current government.

Canadian Dog Sign

You know Vancouver has to be a nice place to live.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005
  FEMA's Initial Screw-Up
The original Federal Disaster Declaration issued on August 27th included every parish in Louisiana except those likely to be struck. It does not include New Orleans or the surrounding area.

A second Disaster Declaration that included New Orleans was not issued until August 29th.

These are from the White House site. They screwed up. The tip of Louisiana was the last area to receive a disaster declaration.

Nothing was being sent to New Orleans until after the storm because there was no authorization.

Update: The area in yellow are those parishes included in the 08/27/2005 declaration:


  Post It Notes Not necessarily the news:
Egypt held its first election in which more than one name was on the ballot for President. While initially skeptical, after a conversation with Karl Rove President Mubarek was convinced that it looked good and wouldn't make a difference in the outcome.

During a super-secret, cross-your-heart, deep background briefing conducted in the "cone of silence", a senior administration official who can't remember his own name claimed that the fact that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides over the impeachment hearing for the President, had nothing to do with the request to conduct the confirmation hearings for John Roberts during the funeral service for Justice Rehnquist.

During his survey of the devastation on the Gulf coast, Vice President Cheney will be staying at the Convention Center in New Orleans. Mr. Cheney's decision was based on the fact that even though people were watching live television shots of the Convention Center it took the government three days to find it, making it the most "undisclosed location" in the country.

A senior aide said that the government suspected voodoo was involved, or "one of those 'invisibility cloaks' we've been hearing about."

The delay in the Federal response to the disaster was explained today when a member of the White House staff discovered the Louisiana governor's request for Federal assistance in the lint trap of the dryer.

A spokeman remarked, "You know how it is. Someone hands you a note while you're on vacation, and you put it in your pocket. Next thing you know it gets thrown in the washer."


Tuesday, September 06, 2005
  So, How's It Going?
For an historical perspective Susie points to a timeline of the San Francisco Earthquake in 1906 and the Federal response. You would have thought that we would be better at responding after 99 years, not worse.

Three audio links from NPR's All Things Considered:

Today: [available after 7:30PM EDT]

Robert Siegel's A Family's Life in Limbo After Katrina, covers the American tribute to Franz Kafka - applying for assistance from FEMA. Understand this is a story about the trials of an extended family of middle class homeowners, professionals with insurance, college educated, trying to make their way through an artificial labyrinth create by people who are supposed to help them.

[Editor: note the reference to the SBA, the Small Business Administration. She is not mistaken, they are, for some reason, involved in the process, even if you are not applying for aid as a small business owner.]

Jim Zarroli's Small Towns Await Katrina Aid points to the lack of concern for remote areas and confirms the FEMA policy that vehicles are more important than people - every vehicle gets one ration, whether it's for a single person or three families.

Yesterday in Looking to Rebuild on the Mississippi Coast, Melissa Block talks with Rep. Gene Taylor (D-MS).

Taylor talks about the loss of 80% of the homes along the coast, including his, and how people have been coping - by "borrowing" the contents of the local Wal-Mart [it's not New Orleans, so he must be wrong when he says looting].

Mr. Taylor wants the local FEMA representative fired for interfering with the efforts to help the people affected. FEMA insists that individuals should make their own way to a central distribution point. This is a very efficient system for FEMA but it assumes a way of communicating with those affected and that they have transportation. In the FEMA system the individuals have the responsibility of finding help rather than expecting FEMA to find them.

"Where's the cavalry?" They're in the fort waiting for you to make your way there.


  RIP Maynard G. Krebs
While his real name was Bob Denver, and his best known role was Gilligan, he will always be Maynard G. Krebs - the eternal beatnik, the proto-type for the slacker, to me.

CNN has a short obituary.


My life became a little easier as a result of this tragedy. My Mother has always been reluctant to leave when faced with a hurricane. She has some health problems and cannot exist down here without air conditioning.

We have a generator that is capable of powering a small air conditioner, the refrigerator, lighting, and a radio, specifically because it is always a battle to get her out.

After watching the coverage, she told me today that she's leaving four days before any storms hit the area because: "those people would kill me. I can't stand in line in this heat. What good is a generator if you can't get gas for it? They just don't care, there's not a Christian among them."

The local "special needs" shelter doesn't even have a generator, and we found out that our local hospice tries to get their patients admitted to the hospitals for the duration of the storm, because there's no other place for them to go that's has any hope of maintaining their life. If you're wondering why hospice does this, remember that they are trying to help these people to live their last days in comfort and dignity. I didn't see much of that at the SuperDome.


  The Sun Bleeds For New Orleans
My Mother asked me to check for a fire behind her house because of the flashes of red-orange she was seeing from her bedroom window. It was the sun setting through the haze of pollution from the fires and chemical releases in New Orleans.

The "dead zone", an area in the Gulf south of New Orleans in which nothing can live because of the absence of oxygen in the water, will no doubt expand as the toxic slug and sewage filling the depression that holds the city is pumped out.

It will be a while before I try another oyster or mudbug.


Monday, September 05, 2005
  The Siege of New Orleans
SIEGE -The surrounding and blockading of a city, town, or fortress by an army attempting to capture it.

By now everyone has heard that assistance was prevented from entering New Orleans for days after it was available and people were begging for it. The reasoning put forward by Homeland Security was: if food and water was allowed into New Orleans people would refuse to evacuate.

I was somewhat stunned to be asked to accept that the Federal officials in charge of this effort actually believed that human beings would choose to live in the abject conditions of filth, discomfort and danger seen in and around the SuperDome and Convention Center if you gave them something to eat and clean water to drink. I can only conclude that Mr. Chertoff assumes that the residents of New Orleans are less than human.

The Federal officials wanted people out of New Orleans, so they laid siege to the city. They sealed it off from the outside world. They didn't provide the communications equipment that was sitting in warehouses and might have helped the overwhelmed public safety personnel maintain control of the situation. On Meet The Press Mr. Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, tells us that FEMA cut emergency communications in his area. They might have been successful if members of the media with satellite phones hadn't managed to get in before they could complete their encirclement of the area.

They are still intent on starving out any stragglers. They have declared war on the city. They didn't want civil order to be maintained, they have done everything they could to prevent it.


  My FEMA Experience
I've written an external page to give you a feeling for my experience in dealing with FEMA over the course of 10 years.

This page will open in a new window. I've read the glowing reports about the response to Florida's storms last year. I wish that people could listen to the local Emergency Operations Center briefings up here on the Panhandle. Many of our local officials are not quite as thrilled with the response as some national media outlets.

Update 1: This is from the archives of the Pensacola News Journal [no link because they charge for archived articles] an editorial from March 22, 2005:
Will FEMA deliver before the next storm? It's getting to be an old, old story. But that makes it even harder to understand. So just what is the Federal Emergency Management Agency waiting for before it reimburses area governments for Hurricane Ivan cleanup -- another hurricane season? A few months ago, that might have been the tag line for a bad joke. Now it looks like a serious possibility. We could go through another hurricane before FEMA finishes reimbursing expenses from the last...

Update 2 [Ivan response]: The "Blue Roof" program is only for owner-occupied homes. If you rent, you can drown while your landlord tries to find a roofer or a tarp.

FEMA distribution points are only for vehicles: people don't count. You can only get food and water if you drive through, and every vehicle gets the same ration. If a group of people pool their gas to get one vehicle to the distribution point, they are only going to get one ration.


Sunday, September 04, 2005
  If You Wondered
This is the Louisiana declaration of a state of emergency prior to the storm, which is required before the President can issue the Federal declaration of a state of emergency and put the Federal Emergency Management Agency in charge of the emergency.

Both were issued and in place while Katrina was out in the Gulf.

I keep hearing this crap about "the local officials didn't ask". Excuse me, but when exactly did the governor of Louisiana ask the Federal government to ship the state's National Guard and equipment to Iraq?

Update: Jillian of skippy pointed to a Larry Johnson post at the TPM Cafe on the National Response Plan that gives FEMA the power and responsibility to do whatever it believes is necessary, like they did last year in Florida.


  Christmas Katrinamas
The Culture Ghost has made a note to himself to take the money that he would normally spend on Christmas and use it to help the victims of Katrina.

If you can't make that commitment, remember: there are any number of projects that offer various merchandise with the proceeds going to disaster relief that can be used as gifts.

You can make donations in the name of those on your gift list and many organizations will send a letter acknowledging the gift to the person.

This is a long-term problem and I think we can all agree that the government is not up to the task.


  Foreign Relations
In addition to preventing private assistance to the victims in New Orleans, FEMA is interfering with foreign governments attempting to contact their citizens. Australian Broadcasting says Australian officials are frustrated by limited access to hurricane victims.

For those who wondered why the Secretary of State needed to cancel her vacation for a "domestic problem", this is why.

You would think that the senior cabinet officer [check your Constitution] might be able to do something about this, but apparently not.


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