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Post Katrina Docs

Katrina Post-Katrina

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#1 The Oncoming Storm

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Posted 04 December 2005 - 05:04 PM

La. Government Swamped Post Katrina

I know that Gov. Blanco is the face of the situation in La, but this just puts a burr under my saddle:

Quote

As looters and Hurricane Katrina floodwaters ravaged New Orleans, Gov. Kathleen Blanco's top aides were inundated with requests from around the world, from celebrities, dignitaries and people whose relatives were trapped in the city, according to newly released documents.

Dan Rather and Oprah Winfrey wanted interviews. An outspoken congresswoman wanted a security escort in the flooded city.

There were other requests made, such as Cuba offering medical help.  Bthe others, such as Rather's and Oprah's, were just clogging an already overtaxed machine.  Useless and self-important people irritate me.  :grr:

Now, the other thing the docs show is that La. was scrambling with all manner of troubles.  (After a Cat 4 Hurricane rocks the port in La. that generates 1/3 of the state's revenue, I would expect that.)  But, the docs display a serious lack of leadership quality on Blanco's part that is very politically damaging to her future as La. Gov'r.   She was not the person needed for such a cataclysmic event.

Rose: [disgusted] Oh, look at what the cat dragged in: "The Oncoming Storm."

"Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday." -- John Wayne


Sometimes the best causes worth fighting for are lost causes. -- Me.

Formerly Known as "Lost Cause."


#2 Godeskian

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Posted 04 December 2005 - 05:09 PM

I'm confused. It seems as if you're saying that all these celebrity types trying to contact her is Blanco's fault?

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#3 The Oncoming Storm

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Posted 04 December 2005 - 05:50 PM

No.  I'm frustrated the celebrity types were contacting her at the height of the crisis wanting all kinds of interviews.  

Like she didn't have enough to do.

Rose: [disgusted] Oh, look at what the cat dragged in: "The Oncoming Storm."

"Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday." -- John Wayne


Sometimes the best causes worth fighting for are lost causes. -- Me.

Formerly Known as "Lost Cause."


#4 Spectacles

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Posted 04 December 2005 - 08:25 PM

Well, that's FoxNew's take on the documents. Here's another from the Washington Post:

http://www.washingto...5120301480.html


Quote

Thousands of documents released by Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Friday night shed new light on clashes between state officials, New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin and the Bush administration as they struggled to respond to Hurricane Katrina.

Among the more than 100,000 pages of newly released records, which ranged from after-action reports to hand-scrawled notes written at the height of the storm, are memos showing Blanco frustrated and angered over delays in evacuations and the slow delivery of promised federal aid.


"We need everything you've got," Blanco is quoted in a memo as telling President Bush on Aug. 29, the day Katrina made landfall. But despite assurances from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that 500 buses were "standing by," Blanco's aides were compelled to take action when the FEMA buses failed to materialize, documents show. "We need buses," Andy Kopplin, chief of staff to Blanco, said in an e-mail to Blanco staffers late on Aug. 30, the day after the storm hit. "Find buses that can go to NO [New Orleans] ASAP."

Two days later, on Sept. 2, Blanco complained to the White House that FEMA had still failed to fulfill its promises of aid. While cloaked in customary political courtesies, Blanco noted that she had already requested 40,000 more troops; ice, water and food; buses, base camps, staging areas, amphibious vehicles, mobile morgues, rescue teams, housing, airlift and communications systems, according to a press office e-mail of the text of her letter to Bush.

"Even if these initial requests had been fully honored, these assets would not be sufficient," Blanco said. She also asked for the return of the Louisiana Army National Guard's 256th Brigade Combat Team, then deployed to Iraq.

Tensions between state leaders and the White House seemed at times near the boiling point. At 3:49 p.m. on Sept. 2, after spending three hours to appear with Bush at a Mississippi news conference, Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.) wrote Blanco's staff, "I am returning home to baron[sic] rouge in hoping I can accomplish something for the people I represent other than being occupied with PR."

He added that Bush's "entire effort on behalf of the federal government has been reflected in his and his people's nonchalant attitude to the people of LA. You may give him this to read."

The documents, which were posted on the Internet late Friday, also provide the most detailed account yet of the harrowing conditions at the storm's epicenter, as state officials and emergency workers fought to retain control amid rising floodwaters and failing communications systems. Their release comes amid new efforts by Blanco to defend her government's much-criticized response to the nation's costliest natural disaster.

Interesting, isn't it? Fox attempts to link Blanco with the "Hollywood elite" and Latin American socialists, but ignores the conflict between LA and DC. And the WaPo ignored the celebrities.

Also, Fox neglects to mention that Blanco released the documents publicly, chosing instead to present Blanco as releasing them reluctantly and only at the request of a congressional committee.

Quote

Raw and frequently conflicting, reflecting the chaotic conditions in the initial hours after the storm hit, the records paint an intimate portrait of a state struggling to overcome extremes of weather and bureaucratic incompetence as the storm ripped its way across the state.

The documents were prepared in response to requests by two congressional committees investigating the federal response to Katrina. Blanco spokeswoman Denise Bottcher said the governor decided to release the documents "publicly not to vindicate herself, but to set the record straight."

"You can see the requests that were made, day after day, hour after hour," Bottcher said yesterday.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said she has not seen the documents, but noted multiple reviews of the week of the storm are underway, "and all levels of government have a responsibility to take stock of what happened, act on it, and then make sure it doesn't ever happen again."

Aloo, Fox left out the following in it's account, perhaps because it contradicts the Republican's narrative of Blanco fiddling while New Orleans burned:

Quote

By early Saturday, with predictions for Katrina becoming increasingly dire, Blanco had launched a desperate effort to persuade New Orleanians to evacuate ahead of the storm, memos show.

Her staff began calling ministers in African American churches, telling them to advise parishioners to "pack and pray." But with the city's evacuation efforts still lagging, Blanco decided she needed to appear publicly with Nagin. Some on her staff expressed concern that such an "artificial event" would pull people from their posts during evacuation preparation, but Blanco "seems to feel that a show of unity is important for the people of the area to see," according to an e-mail. It was decided that the meeting would be held on "Nagin's turf."

All in all, it's interesting to read these two stories side by side. The WaPo doesn't exonerate Blanco, but it doesn't villify her quite like the Fox spin attempts to do.
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#5 The Oncoming Storm

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Posted 04 December 2005 - 10:58 PM

Yeah, but here's the rub.  I've got a brother-in-law who's a 2nd Lt with the La.Nat'l Grd who was mobilized immediately after Katrina rolled through.  Over the holiday, we talked about the situation down in N.O. (he's currently in Chalmette with an Eng.Bde. trying to shore up the levees in St. Bernard Parish) and he gave me some interesting information.  There were over 20K Nat'l Guard troops in N.O. (Jefferson, Orleans, and St. Bernard Parishes) two days after Katrina hit.  There were troops in the city under direct authority of Gov'r Blanco while she was asking for Fed'l troops.  

As for FEMA, we all know about Mike Brown.  He wasn't capable of the situation and the fault for having him in that pos'n of responsibility lies with Bush.  I got no problem with the heat going where it should be.  But, you have to understand N.O. "nonchalant" attitude toward the storm.  I'm from La.  I lived in N.O. two times in my life for a total of about 5 years.  They had not been hit since 1948 and every other storm that threatened to hit them bypassed them, even Andrew in 1992.  N.O. is a metroplex of over 2 million people; it is estimated that it would take 72-96 hrs to evacuate all of them.  Those were the numbers being touted in the news.  They didn't begin evac'ing until they were inside the 72 hrs mark.  They had already passed the threshhold and it turned into pure gridlock on I-10W and the Ponchatrain Causeway going north.  There were folk who stopped in Baton Rouge, an hour or so north of N.O. on I10 saying it took them eight or ten hours to make the trip.  (For me, reminiscent of what happened 'round here with Rita.)  The people of N.O. did not take this storm seriously until it was almost too late.  Personally, I am amazed that the lower parishes of Plaquemines, Lafourche, and Terrebone were as evacuated as they were.  

As for the political systems in La, it's always been rife with corruption which is apt to slow the process down.  Add to it a rookie gov'r who had no clue what she was up against (and it wouldn't have mattered who was gov'r--her or Jindal--b/c this was only 6 mths or so after she took office) and failed to project confidence going into the crisis.  I saw the press conference where she and Nagin declared the manditory evac of N.O. inside the 72 hr mark.  She looked like she'd seen a ghost.  I honestly thought she'd faint, that's how bad she looked.  She really didn't give the picture of confidence that a gov'r should give.  

Anyway, my main problem was that all those self-important people were pestering her immediately after the storm passed, when she had enough on her plate to deal with.  Blanco keeps pointing fingers at the Bush administration for the whole debacle, but there's plenty of manure to go around.  

In all fairness, N.O. of 2005 was not the N.O. of 1948 when Betsy roared through.

Rose: [disgusted] Oh, look at what the cat dragged in: "The Oncoming Storm."

"Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday." -- John Wayne


Sometimes the best causes worth fighting for are lost causes. -- Me.

Formerly Known as "Lost Cause."


#6 Spectacles

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 09:38 AM

Hi LC,

I agree with all that you wrote. Blanco made some mistakes, as did Nagin, and New Orleans is famously corrupt.

I just wanted to point out the strangeness of what Fox highlighted in this story--and what it neglected to mention at all.

:)

Specs
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"Although health care enrollment is actually going pretty well at this point, thousands and maybe millions of Americans have failed to sign up for coverage because they believe the false horror stories they keep hearing." -- Paul Krugman

#7 rponiarski

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 01:18 PM

Spectacles, on Dec 5 2005, 10:38 AM, said:

I just wanted to point out the strangeness of what Fox highlighted in this story--and what it neglected to mention at all.

Specs

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Fox always "spins" its news, even though they say they don't. Look at O'Reilly, Hannity and the like and they are just shills for the GOP. I would never expect them to try to see the whole story and am not surprised at where they put their emphasis. Just wait, it will be very similar to the next Republican talking points... :glare:
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#8 The Oncoming Storm

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 07:20 PM

New follow up.  This from a N.O. Times-Picayune Reporter via Houston Chronicle:

Blanco Playing CYA Post Katrina

Quote

Blanco's staff got word that Bush was planning to visit New Orleans at 9 a.m. Sept. 5, when the governor was scheduled to meet with evacuees in Houston. Blanco's aides decided it would be politically damaging to leave the state.

"Why are we leaving ... when he's here?" Denise Bottcher, Blanco's press secretary, wrote Mann and Kopplin at 12:49 a.m. Sept. 5. "Reinforces the notion that she's not in charge and LA needs to be federalized. She's got to be in New Orleans tomorrow morning meet with Nagin before he meets with President."

Blanco also refused to allow Bush to federalize the La. Natl Guard in the aftermath.  She was so worried about who appeared to be in control.  Is that her idea of helpin' the state:  Get into a spittin' match over who's what?  

FEMA response may have been slow, but she wasn't helpin' things by trying to assert her dominance.

ETA:  Smells more like they were playin' politics with the whole mess instead of cleanin' it up.

Edited by Lost Cause, 05 December 2005 - 07:20 PM.

Rose: [disgusted] Oh, look at what the cat dragged in: "The Oncoming Storm."

"Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday." -- John Wayne


Sometimes the best causes worth fighting for are lost causes. -- Me.

Formerly Known as "Lost Cause."


#9 Spectacles

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 07:34 PM

Well, in fairness, Blanco didn't allow the National Guard to be federalized because then they'd be disarmed. As long as the National Guard was under state control, they could carry weapons--and use them if necessary. And given how New Orleans descended into pure anarchy, it looked like it could be necessary.

Not allowing them to be federalized isn't the same thing as not deploying them. It all goes to a matter of how they are deployed.

And the Bush surprise trip, I remember that day. According to CNN, tensions were at their highest point between Bush and Blanco, and so Bush didn't notify Blanco that he was coming to Louisiana--a pretty big slight, actually, and one that is still hard for me to understand considering the gravity of the situation and the need for the two to coordinate relief efforts. Blanco made a point to be at the airport when Bush's plane arrived, and the cameras showed a stiff and formal greeting between them. Nagin at the time was making public statement that the two of them needed to get over their differences and work together--one thing that I agreed with heartily.

So, for every goof-up and politicized decision Blanco made, the Bush administration has a matching one, including Bush's umpteen trips to the region when it dawned on him that his administration looked out-of-touch in the immediate aftermath.

Bottom line, no one looks good in this.

And worse, there are still a lot of people in Louisiana and all along the Gulf who are homeless and suffering through a kind of red-tape hell this holiday season.  :(
"Facts are stupid things." -Ronald Reagan at the 1988 Republican National Convention, attempting to quote John Adams, who said, "Facts are stubborn things"

"Although health care enrollment is actually going pretty well at this point, thousands and maybe millions of Americans have failed to sign up for coverage because they believe the false horror stories they keep hearing." -- Paul Krugman

#10 The Oncoming Storm

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 07:45 PM

Quote

Quote

Well, in fairness, Blanco didn't allow the National Guard to be federalized because then they'd be disarmed. As long as the National Guard was under state control, they could carry weapons--and use them if necessary. And given how New Orleans descended into pure anarchy, it looked like it could be necessary.


True, considerin' the military was literally running ops to hunt down and eliminate the armed thuggery that was makin' N.O. a hell worse than hell.  However, most of the Nat'l Guard units deployed did some security work, but were mostly deployed for clearing roadways and clean up work.  My brother-in-law started in Slidell doing security/clean up and has since been shifted to Chalmette for levee recontruction.  (He said the levees in St. Bernard Parish, which are NOT Corps of Engineer levees, were joke to begin with and are jokes now.  They're just tryin' to keep the water out of St Bernard and dry the place out somewhat.) 

Anyway, I had been of the mind all along that Congress should've declared N.O. under martial law and federalize that zone.  Might've moved things along quicker, IMHO.  But, it wasn't, so only history will sort this mess out.
So, for every goof-up and politicized decision Blanco made, the Bush administration has a matching one, including Bush's umpteen trips to the region when it dawned on him that his administration looked out-of-touch in the immediate aftermath.

I'm not doubtin' it.  Why do you think I carped, "ETA: Smells more like they were playin' politics with the whole mess instead of cleanin' it up."  Probably should've been clearer on that, 'cause even from the article, ya get a sense that it was on major spittin' match by both sides.

Quote

And worse, there are still a lot of people in Louisiana and all along the Gulf who are homeless and suffering through a kind of red-tape hell this holiday season. 

I know.  Wrong kinda red for Xmas Season.

Rose: [disgusted] Oh, look at what the cat dragged in: "The Oncoming Storm."

"Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday." -- John Wayne


Sometimes the best causes worth fighting for are lost causes. -- Me.

Formerly Known as "Lost Cause."




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