September 7, 2005

38% said "no one is to blame."

How impressively cool-headed people are about absorbing tragedy. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll taken in the last two days.
13% said George W. Bush is "most responsible for the problems in New Orleans after the hurricane"; 18% said "federal agencies"; 25% said "state and local officials"; 38% said "no one is to blame"; 6% had no opinion. -- 29% said that "top officials in the federal agencies responsible for handling emergencies should be fired"; 63% said they should not; 8% had no opinion....

10% said George W. Bush has done a "great" job in "responding to the hurricane and subsequent flooding"; 25% said "good"; 21% said "neither good nor bad"; 18% said "bad"; 24% said "terrible"; 2% had no opinion. -- 8% said federal government agencies responsible for handling emergencies have done a "great" job in "responding to the hurricane and subsequent flooding"; 27% said "good"; 20% said "neither good nor bad"; 20% said "bad"; 22% said "terrible"; 3% had no opinion. -- 7% said state and local officials in Louisiana have done a "great" job in "responding to the hurricane and subsequent flooding"; 30% said "good"; 23% said "neither good nor bad"; 20% said "bad"; 15% said "terrible"; 5% had no opinion.
So 31% put the blame on the federal level and 25% put it at the state/local level. Why do they break down the federal response into Bush and federal agencies and then aggregate the state and local numbers? I guess it's the usual obsession with what everything means for Bush's popularity. No one cares anywhere near as much about the political fortunes of a particular mayor and governor. Yet the actions at the state and city level were quite different, and it's important to think hard about which level of government to trust in various situations.

I like that ordinary people don't go for the demands that someone ought to be fired. We've heard a lot of demands of this kind in recent years, and they usually strike me as beside the point — political rhetoric heated up and served by the party out of power. The new person will have to struggle with the real world difficulties too, and he or she will have less experience. Meanwhile, there will be a superficial impression that action has been taken. And the party out of power can gloat. It's not surprising that Bush doesn't respond to that sort of thing. But it is quite nice that the average person perceives the nature of the political game and disengages.

UPDATE: I talk about more recent polls here.

72 comments:

Steven A. Stehling said...

I wonder how peoples understanding of the rights and responsibilities of State and local governments and the laws limiting the role and power of the Federal government influenced this polls result.

Meade said...

"most responsible for the problems in New Orleans after the hurricane"

I'm an average ordinary person who wants to know who it is I should give credit for the successful evacuation of the 80% of New Orleans' population in the two days before the storm hit.

Also, is there a poll on who is most responsible for the problems in the rest of the coastal states after the hurricane or does CNN/USA Today/Gallup not find anything there to be poll worthy?

MD said...

Well, but who else is actually doing the work of dealing with the aftermath but those 'regular' people? They are calm and cool headed because they are the actual doers, not those who poll and critique (even when well placed and needed). Who else is doing the rescuing, fixing powerlines, clearing roads, doctoring, nursing, organizing places for people to stay, holding meetings to raise money and opening up of care facilities and donating time and effort and money? Who were the real first responders, politically?

It's always this way. The pundit and political class often forget who the actual arms and legs are of the body politic, so to speak. Frankly, the 'regular' people are often the real brains, for all the pollsters and shiny suited types think they are....

Ok, I have to stop commenting now. One too many cheesy analogies in the comments does that to a gal.

Sloanasaurus said...

Actually, I think the Dems and the MSM are shocked by this polling. If you have been watching the MSM and reading the Times, one would have expected the blame Bush crowd to be in the 50%. I think the MSM assumed that the public was with them in their blame for Bush. Now it appears that the public is not with the MSM. Therefore, prepare to see the MSM take a different tact (and not report the results of the poll either...)

madcat said...

I have to agree with today's Times editorial that calling it a "blame game" is a bit of a misnomer: "This is not a game. It is critical to know what "things went wrong," as Mr. Bush put it. But we also need to know which officials failed - not to humiliate them, but to replace them with competent people."

For my more extensive thoughts on why "blame game" is a misnomer, see my post "Stepping Back: Blame and Implications" here:

madcat said...

(link to go with above post: http://madcat444.blogspot.com/)

Sloanasaurus said...

Madcat, do you think we should have replaced Brigadier General Eisenhower after the failure at Kasserine Pass? Instead some idiot had the gall to promote him...

Meade said...

madcat: spamming. is that a game?

madcat said...

lmeade: spamming? I've only been on blogspot a week, and still trying to figure the rules of the blogosphere? Are you referring to my posting a link to my blame game post... is that a no-no? If so, I reiterate my thoughts on the subject here instead, if anyone wishes. I just thought it would be shorter and easier to point to where they're already spelled out in full (as well as more polite, giving folks the option whether or not to read it). Or is that not what you meant by spamming?
- A blogosphere newbie :)

BoneUSA said...

"We've heard a lot of demands of this kind [to fire someone] in recent years, and they usually strike me as beside the point[.]"

Totally agree. For some (Andrew Sullivan quickly comes to mind) this has become a virtual political philosophy -- something went wrong, therefore the person in charge is "incompetent," therefore that person must be fired, and if that person is not fired then those with authority to terminate him/her are "divorced from reality." In nearly all cases where I've seen this argument, it is riddled with logical flaws and questionable assumptions. First, there's Ann's point about the successor being less experienced. This is very significant because usually the person charged with incompetence does in fact have a substantial degree of competence (hence his selection in the first place) and removing that person based on poor decision-making does not mean that his replacement (a) is more competent in a general sense, and (b) would have made those particular fateful decisions any differently. By potentially leaving matters in less-capable hands, the "sack 'em" approach can be pretty reckless.

I also find those poll results reassuring for another reason. There certainly has been no shortage of media attention to local, state and federal actions regarding Katrina both before it (she?) hit and after -- and some reports to date do seem to reveal some really bad choices. But I find it hard to have any confidence that we've heard anything close to the complete story (and my hunch is that the polls reflect this sentiment). In my practice I often advise/litigate large scale disputes in both the public and private sectors that draw tons of press coverage. It is amazing just how much the press can get wrong. This is particularly true when it comes to reporting on major decisions made by officials; to evaluate such decisions with fairness and accuracy, we really need to know what information the decision-maker had available at the time (or whether he was delinquent in failing to obtain relevant information), whether and what kind of constraints the decision-maker faced (e.g., from his superiors, from institutional concerns, from budgetary priorities), what were the known alternatives at the time, etc. (along the lines of Rumsfeld's "known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns"). The press, in my personal experience, is rarely willing or able to undertake such an analysis. But in a situation like Katrina, with so many players involved and so many decisions made along the way, the press (and many bloggers) jump to slap the incompetent label on officials and call for their heads.

Maybe it'll turn out that Bush or Michael Brown or Blanco or Nagin or someone else truly deserves a public thrashing. But nothing reported to date makes a thorough and compelling case for that. I like to think that those poll respondents feel the same way.

Meade said...

No worries, madcat. Far be it from me to criticize other commenters' blogging etiquette.

Tom said...

Ah, Sloan, you always bring a smile to my face with your attempts to draw analogies between the actions of the Bush administration and WWII. Here's why this one doesn't work: 1) Ike got where he did based on merit, he wasn't an incompetent political hack who achieved his position because he knew someone who ran FDR's campaign. 2) Kaserine Pass was a failure of execution, not leadership. New Orleans was an abysmal failure of leadership.

I'm also usually reluctant to call for symbolic resignations because they don't mean anything. This time, though, I think it's needed simply because it's not symbolic. As long as "Brownie" is in charge, I don't trust FEMA to rescue a cat from a tree.

J said...

Re: The new person will have to struggle with the real world difficulties too, and he or she will have less experience.

Less experience? Less experience than running an Arabian Horse Association? Or is your point that now we have someone who has done a thoroughly awful job during a disaster, but he *has* experienced the disaster; thus, we better keep him around.

Good Lord, your standards are low.

Ann Althouse said...

Jill: Yes, my point really is that whenever you fire someone, you are losing the experience they have in that job. That's not a low standard, that's a recognition of one of the factors in a rational decision that includes multiple factors.

Susan said...

Actually, I think the Dems and the MSM are shocked by this polling. If you have been watching the MSM and reading the Times, one would have expected the blame Bush crowd to be in the 50%.

I agree. I watched the Noon News on my NBC local affiliate today (checking for news of Ophelia) and for the absolutely first time (I don't have cable/Fox News) saw on TV what I would consider a scathing report on the hurricane preparations by the local and state officials. I was actually kind of stunned by this completely different slant and paid special attention at the end as to who had filed the report. It was Kitty Pilgrim of CNN which a quick Google revealed is a business reporter and regular correspondent for the Lou Dobbs show.

Dash said...

I'm not ready to defend Brownie, but on the issue of experience The MSM is being rather unfair to the man. He has been on the job for four years which is almost a career in washington. During that time we have had a number of hurricanes and other assorted disasters. Fema's response in those cases was lauded as exemplary. If Brown was better than average when Hurricanes hit Florida why is he suddenly incompetent here. It could be that the lack of local leadership in this case really was a deciding factor.

Fianally, I think that the average American recognizes that it takes time to mobilize resources even in favorable conditions. It is really a sign of how good we are at this that people demand instant and flawless responses to things like this.

It is one thing to say that my five kids should be able to turn off the TV and get in the van to go somewhere in less than five minutes. The reality is that it usually takes fifteen.

Sloanasaurus said...

"...Ike got where he did based on merit, he wasn't an incompetent political hack who achieved his position because he knew someone who ran FDR's campaign..."

There were quite a few who believed Ike was an incompetent leader. After all, Eisenhower never had a combat command before North Africa and he failed miserably in his first scuffle with the Germans at Kasserine.

I don't know about Brown. My point is that there is a lot more to leadership than one particular incident.

IrishLad said...

I agree with boneusa. We have no idea what was going on. Example: Nagin talked about the private meeting between the gov and the pres and how she wanted 24 hours to think about it. We have no idea what the pres offered, why she wanted the time, or any other info. There's a political culture in NO, and we don't know what it is (though rumors are, it's not good). There are laws and limitations on the actions of governors and presidents, and we have no idea what role those laws and limitations had. There are logistical problems of which I doubt most people (me included) understand the full scope.

It's easy to look at a catastrophe and, from the midst of it, start yelling that someone has been ineffective, as if there is certain knowledge that things done differently would've produced a different result. Unfortunately, we don't REALLY have that certain knowledge.

Iraq is an example of not having that certain knowledge. We went in, did what we did, and we have the situation we have now. Had we not gone in, perhaps Saddam would've benignly resided in his palaces and caused no trouble. On the other hand, perhaps he would've reconstitued his bioweapons program and paid Zarqawi to deliver a serious blow to Los Angeles. We will never know. (And the right and left fervently disagree on which would've been the case.)

I literally just heard a Red Cross executive say that he thinks FEMA is about where they should be based on his experience. Go figure.

XWL said...

Actually I think there will be a series of firings in the wake of Katrina, just not in the government.

Neal Shapiro just stepped down as head of NBC News, Klein at CNN can consider his days numbered, the NYT leadership is in shambles, and the less said about the ChiTrib/LATimes the better.

Those that agreed with Bill Maher who said last week, "We got our media back" are now beginning to realize that what he really meant is that the small cadre of coastal elites finally lifted the thin veil of feigned objectivity from their snarling contemptous maws with regards to their opinion of the current administration and the plurality of americans that support them.

That plurality is noticing, and listening, and once again they are tuning out the shrill voices from left of center and they are making choices (possibly for a long time to come) about what brand of news they will continue to consume.

Some have already pulled way back (ABC, NBC) others continue the charge (CNN, CBS, NYT) while others are getting a lot of credit for being much more of an honest broker than they had previously been deemed (FNC), if you want proof read the coverage at the TVNewser blog, never a fan of FNC, they have been commenting that the best most consistent coverage has come from Rupert Murdoch's evil empire and the ratings numbers show that the viewers are agreeing.

Elizabeth said...

Ann, Brown's experience gained on this job ought to be a tiny, microscopic, miniscule, don't give it much credence, factor in deciding whether to keep him on. As for calling for his being fired, this is a unique situation, and not just political symbolism. FEMA still has much work to do, and need good leadership to get it done.

I just can't follow that logic--the man performed poorly, is performing poorly, wasn't qualified for the position to begin with, but it's okay, he'll grow on the job? Only with jobs that don't have "emergency" in the title can I see that as a rational factor.

The Exalted said...

Defending Brownie on the grounds that, having the experience of miserably failing to protect our nation in the aftermath of this tragedy is, after all, experience, only reveals that this blog is not reality-based.

Brownie blew it. Chertoff blew it. FEMA and Homeland Security blew it.

In the wake of a catastrophic failure, there needs to be accountability.

Case closed.

BoneUSA said...

But Exatled, Elizabeth, and others . . .

Do you know whether Brown is at fault for whatever things you think he did wrong? Are you sure? Are you confident that a someone else would have done better?

We do know certain things. Brown is head of a large organization which is part of a behemoth agency. It's safe to say Brown makes decisions based on information provided to him by others (i.e., he is not able nor expected to paddle around New Orleans, or walk the affected Gulf coastline, and assess conditions himself). So maybe he made poor decisions because he received bad information. So maybe the source of the bad information be fired? Or maybe he made good decisions that weren't implemented properly. Let's fire the implementers. Or maybe Chertoff was stepping on Brown and he made all the bad decisions. Or maybe it was Chertoff's undersecretary, or deputy, or assistant deputy. Which one was it? Oh hell, fire them all.

Of course neither you nor I can know the answers, largely because those who are supposed to obtain this information (the media) have not. They have gotten nothing more than bits and pieces, one-sided and/or uncorroborated accounts, etc. And this is largely because it is simply impossible to sort all this out in the middle of this situation.

You want somebody fired now for the sake of accountability, fine. But I hope you're sure that doing so would improve things. And "things couldn't be any worse" is not a legit response, because you just don't know that. Remind me, how did the last mayor/governor/FEMA head/cabinet secretary perform when faced with this level of disaster?

ATMX said...

It has been said elsewhere that the Brown did a good job during the response to the series of hurricanes that hit Florida in 2004. So much so that when the Bush sent Jeb along with Colin Powell to tsunami struck regions, the left was demanding that he send Brown instead because of his experience. Now they want him to be fired. Then and now it was nothing more than political posturing by the left, with their goal being nothing other than getting a Presidential scalp.

People who want an instaneous and perfect response to a disaster of enormous scale are simply unrealistic and not a members of the "reality-based" community.

madcat said...

I don't remember FEMA under past administrations/directors doing something like (turning away massive amounts of offered international aid) or this (the volunteer firefighter fiasco) or the other numerous documented accounts of FEMA actually thwarting efforts to help... turning away truckloads of water from Wal-Mart last week, more truckloads of emergency relief supplies from the City of Chicago, from so many others, I've lost track... it's really immense, the number of incidents that are piling up. I don't quite get why the Director of FEMA shouldn't be held responsible for the actions of his organization... the first time a mistake happens, sure, everyone should get cut some slack. But for this to be as massive, systemic, and repeating problem as it is, surely at some point he would be expected to be able to control his own organization. If not, even more reason for him to be fired.

PatCA said...

Things are changing so fast that it may take some time to see who should get the ax and how protocols need to change.

What's really surprising to me is how the polling against Bush is falling, in spite of (or maybe because of) the histrionics of the Dems. Is Harry Reid actually serious that we should investigate the issue of Bush's vacation? They seem completely tone deaf. I can't see one good thing for them using this campaign, except maybe keeping Dems in control of LA reconstruction money.

madcat said...

Actually, it wouldn't help the left one bit if Bush fired Brown. The Republican party is at great risk of losing their southern electoral stronghold right now, and that's where the vast majority of fury at FEMA lies, with those who are witnessing firsthand how poorly FEMA is doing its jobs. If he fires Brown, he helps, no pun intended, shore up that southern support again. By demanding Brown's resignation, those on the left aren't acting strategically... they're acting out of a sense of moral outrage and fear for our country's safety. If Bush leaves Brown in place, it will only drive his polls down farther. Democrats know that, but they'd rather have a competent FEMA than be led by pure politics.

tcd said...

Oh madcat, how altruistic of you and the liberals. Yes, yes we all know how evil Republicans are. Please protect us from them.

God, do you ever choke on your own crap because you are spewing a lot of it here.

madcat said...

tcd-

I don't know what I did to warrant that attack. I've been nothing but civil (if probative of larger issues) in my posts in my first week on the blogosphere, and I wish I could say the civility in my first week on blogspot had been reciprocated, but I'm really at a loss in knowing how to respond to your words...

You have NO IDEA how this hurricane has affected loved ones in my life, what kind of mourning I've gone through for the thousands of lives lost last week, and how very real my feelings of fear and dismay are.

I've acknowledged mistakes by both locals and feds, Democrats and Republicans, I've tried to no avail to convey that this is NOT about politics... it's about the horror of all the lives that were lost last week and the desperate need to make sure it never happens like this again.

All I can say is... I really, truly, hope that a catastropic disaster never hits the town you live in.

You can keep your White House, your Congress, your courts... I just want to keep the cities in this country, and those who live in them, safer and treated with more civility and care than the people of New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast have been treated by their government the past horrible ten days.

I will continue to express my opinions, civility, and with many deep breaths, and hope that others do the same.

I'm not giving up on the blogosphere yet. I still believe there's more good than bad in the world, and in each person in it.

APF said...

Like Bush (gah) I don't want to leap in and play the blame game (lets perhaps wait at least until the bodies are recovered and we have a better hold on the scope of the disaster); like the NYT I dislike that phrase. But it seems to me that the above Times quote is somewhat disingenuous in that it essentially begs the question. How can you assert the need for an impartial investigation when you predicate that call with the assumption that there is a fireable official whose incompetence necessitates their being replaced? Even if you assume that the federal response was the weakest link, was the response inadequate and therefore unacceptable because an individual failed, or because the system failed? Perhaps the system itself is what needs to be replaced by something more competent. The immediate call for heads is nothing more than the desire to hold a trophy over the graves of the unfortunate folks who lost their lives in this tragedy. Only they don't even have graves yet. :/

tcd said...

madcat,

Yes, I agree that things probably could have been done better and I hope that the disaster relief effort on all levels is fully investigated. What I don't buy is that Democrats have been led only by pure goodness and intent this past week in their criticisms of FEMA. It was unbelievable to me that in the midst of this crisis, liberals got into Bush-bashing gear faster than Katrina lay waste New Orleans. You know it. I know it. Every rational American knows it. So don't try to tell me the sky is green!

Elizabeth said...

madcat when you say "I've acknowledged mistakes by both locals and feds, Democrats and Republicans, I've tried to no avail to convey that this is NOT about politics... it's about the horror of all the lives that were lost last week and the desperate need to make sure it never happens like this again" it means nothing. You've criticized Bush and/or one of his appointees, and that's pretty much beyond the rules of the right-leaning blog commenters. While most of the posters here are reasonable and simply argue from a set of assumptions that are at odds with my values and beliefs about government, there are others that I'd bet supported every flea-bitten investigation of every shady rumor about Clinton, starting the day after he was first elected. But question Bush's judgment or actions and it's suddenly "hold on, we don't know this, we don't know that, can we really make that judgment?, you're just a deranged Bush hater..." Get used to it, because it's going to keep happening. I think a few folks might actually be software programs, set to search blog comments for certain terms and churn out canned, frequently non-sequitur, responses.

Fortunately, the blog itself is more complex and wideranging than most you'll find, left, right or center, and that keeps me coming back.

tcd said...

Elizabeth,

Don't pretend that you know anything about me or other right-leaning commentator on this blog. I actually voted for Clinton, but that's beside the point. I was responding to madcat's post about how the Democrats only want what was best for America and did not have any political agenda. I just called madcat's bullshit on it.

Elizabeth said...

tcd, madcat didn't say that at all. You're misquoting him, and I can see that for myself. My comments were not about you specifically, but in response to madcat's surprise at the tone of some--not just yours, I took it--comments.

madcat said...

tcd,

I may be more liberal than you, but I am no blind partisan. Of *course* I and others have been angry at Bush this week, due to the perception he did give of being too slow to respond and too callous to the dire nature of the catastrophe our dying neighbors were facing in the first half of last week. I'd list all the examples, but I really don't want to be accused of Bush-bashing.

If it were a Democratic president who responded that way, I'd be JUST as furious.

Due to certain policy decision of Clinton that again, struck me as callous to the needs of the people he was charged with representing and protecting (NOT because of the Monica Lewinsky fiasco), I got similarly upset and didn't vote for him a second time.

In the past week, I have *defended* conservatives to liberals, explaining that we're all upset and partisan fingers may fly as we try to deal with our emotions, but I truly believe that - other than those who come out and actually say that those who stayed behind in got what they deserved - we are ALL in mourning, we are ALL horrified by what we've seen the past ten days, even if we express it differently.

I'm starting to wonder if I'm the one who's been too generous in my estimation of people.

I suppose an apology for your description of me: "God, do you ever choke on your own crap because you are spewing a lot of it here will never be forthcoming.

And honestly, it's really difficult for me to dialogue with you when I know you already have ME painted with that kind of brush when you don't know a thing about me.

I may be willing to give those I disagree with the benefit of the doubt, assume that all people are motivated by the best of intentions and sharing my horror at the catastrophe, just expressing it differently... but if others are so determined to resort to smearing and dividing and insulting instead of rational discourse, then maybe this isn't the place I thought it was.

As a constitutional scholar, I thought that this particular blog would be a nice fit for me and I could engage on an intellectually honest, probative level, with people, but this level of discourse is simply NOT what I expected here.

madcat said...

Elizabeth-

Thank you.

And I'm sorry for all you've gone through the past two weeks...

Best to you and strength in all that lies ahead... I'm glad the worst is behind.

ploopusgirl said...

madcat: I think I love you.

And yes, unfortunately, this is the way it works. People are completely partisan and hate the other side entirely. Meanwhile, they don't realize that they themselves come off as total idiots in defending every. single. aspect of their 'side.'

Oh, well. You could be Mother Theresa, and tcd would accuse you of being a lying liberal.

Hope all works out well with your loved ones involved with Katrina.

APF said...

Elizabeth: doesn’t the possibility of hypocrisy you assert safely eliminate the willingness of anyone to directly address points which may run contrary to their own preconceptions? Why discuss--or even more pointlessly, argue--with anyone then? Why post in the first place? You may be talking to a dirty dirty hypocrite! Whether their actual posted words are contradictory is of course besides the point; better not pollute yourself with what they have to say long enough to find out.

Ploo: Ever read/hear Hitchens' take on Teresa?

madcat said...

Thanks, Ploopus. It's been an interesting intro to this world, to say the least. :)

All are accounted for and physically intact... just not their homes and lives as they once existed...

ploopusgirl said...

Um, no, Adam? Care to elaborate?

Larry said...

ploopusgirl: And yes, unfortunately, this is the way it works. People are completely partisan and hate the other side entirely. Meanwhile, they don't realize that they themselves come off as total idiots in defending every. single. aspect of their 'side.'

You can only hope that ploopusgirl, madcat, Elizabeth and the Bush-bashers all have mirrors handy when they say and read a passage like that.

Sloanasaurus said...

"...The Republican party is at great risk of losing their southern electoral stronghold right now..."

I just don't get where people are coming up with this? Do you actually think people blame Bush for the Hurricane and Flood? Gallup just did a poll where only 13% of the nation blamed Bush for the disaster.

The attacks on the Federal government are way over done. For example, someone above stated in regards to FEMA..."in the wake of a catastrophic failure, there needs to be accountability."

I am still trying to figure out where the "catastrophic" failure is? Is it the supposed 24 hour delay? Someone explain to me how that was "catastrophic." If you want an example of catastrophic failure, look at the HMS Titanic, or Rome's defeat at Cannae.

Conservatives criticise the Louisana governor and the mayor only to point out the fallacy of the left's attack on Bush. In reality most conservatives wonder why so many people choose to stay in New Orleans and face the music, and why so many people relied on the government rather than themselves or their families.

In the end, we want the government to maintain a civil society, not to bail us all out for our personal and community failures.

madcat said...

et tu, Larry? what on earth have I said that causes you to call me a hater? that causes tc(?) to tell me I'm choking on my crap and full of bullshit?

are we really THAT beyond civility? is it so impossible?

*boggling*

*looking in the mirror and seeing a very sad face that really IS on the verge of giving up on humanity at this point*

I give up.

Good night.

Elizabeth said...

Adam, in a word, no. I did not indicate that it's not worth talking with anyone with whom one disagrees. My point, as I think Larry goes on to illustrate very well, is that one should not be surprised to find that there will inevitably be some with whom there is no point arguing.

Elizabeth said...

Sloan, I don't think "the only reason conservatives criticize Blanco and Nagin is to point out the fallacy of the left's attack on Bush," but I did want to say that your comment is another illustration supporting my point that Adam twisted. You very cogently sum up the assumptions that sum up some conservative reaction to the Katrina crisis, i.e., what you say about the role of the federal government in emergency management. I don't think it's hypocritical or useless to debate that assumption with you or others who hold that view. I think that's vital to maintaining a strong American culture.

ploopusgirl said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ploopusgirl said...

Sloan, you're my favorite. I hope your house (and only YOUR house, not your neighbor's or anything--although, if they are capable of living next to you, then who knows what else they're capable of)is hit with a massive typhoon. I hope it then takes twenty-four hours for anyone to help you out.

Conservatives wonder why people didn't get out!!!!!!!!!! ploopusgirl wonders why you didn't drive your ass down there and pick some people up if it was so damn easy getting in and out of New Orleans last week.

Sloanasaurus said...

Madcat, I just dont get your hurry to can Brown as head of FEMA. Brown has performed well for the last three years, and the only identifiable error made could be that he was 24 hours delayed in providing relief. Although we really don't know the truth behind this.

FEMA is going to be charged with spending $50 billion over the next year. Brown has already shown he can do this efficiently and well in other disasters. Why would you dump him now? It doesn't make any sense from a practical/management point of view.

People keep calling Brown "incompetent" and then point to the one example of the supposed delay in providing relief to some citizens in New Orleans. It's ridiculous.

ploopusgirl said...

Yah, it's sooo ridiculous. ALLEGEDLY, he just took his time saving the leftover peeps in NO. Who cares, though, really? If they REALLY wanted to get out they could have. Plus, they're just black and poor anyways; it's not like anyone will miss them! ...

Sloanasaurus said...

Ploopus, I try not to respond to your rants, but a bit of advice... If you want to debate these things you need to recognize that there are differences in the way people view the world and if you want to solve any problems, sometimes you need to reach compromises and agreements from these differences.

There is definately a sliding scale of "help" that people expect from the government. Some think if you build your house in a Hurricane zone you accept the risk. On the other side, someone may think the government should take all the risk. Most are somewhere in between.

People like you may respond to the "at your own risk" argument by ridiculing the argument and calling the person an uncaring jerk and praying for their demise. As a second approach, a better debater may try to point out that it's better for the individual if some risk can be shared to avoid shocks. How much sharing there should be is the core of the debate.

Ploopus, you get a lot of responses on this board to your rants, but if you want to be influential, I suggest you try out the second approach.

Sloanasaurus said...

"...Plus, they're just black and poor anyways; it's not like anyone will miss them!..."

So are you implying that Brown delayed rescue efforts because he dislikes black and poor people?

bos0x said...

Sloanasaurus: I love how you're so judgmental about these people who apparently would rather rely on government than themselves and their families. Do you mean people who went to the Superdome, for instance? Because I'm sure that was everyone's first choice of shelter when they decided to evacuate, just to burden the government out of pure spite. I'm sure they were so excited to sit there in the heat with thousands of other people under a leaky ceiling during a hurricane. Sometimes I like to think of ways I could evacuate if there was an emergency near my home. First I count up all my available funds: my parents have approximately $2 in their saving account, and the rest depends on what day of the week it is! Next I ask myself about transportation: How much gas could I expect to have? Will the car even start? I sure hope so! It's a challenging mental activity, but very rewarding as well!

Also, your latest post is extremely touching, and I absolutely agree. Debate depends on recognizing differences in people's worldview. If only the dirty, worthless, terrorist-symphatizing liberals would understand that! The liberal media would drop its dangerous, cocksucking agenda and careless Bush-bashing and would become an upstanding, demure, patriotic medium of truth and freedom. Ideally, all contributors to the Times would also meet in their top-secret headquarters and light themselves on fire so that their baby-killing, pacifist, PC reputation will not taint our majestic image as a nation.

Also, I mean a certain group of people when I say "liberal" so don't get all offended now! For example, moderates and Republicans are not liberals. Neither are conservatives. A Democrat acquaintances of mine are not liberals either. You know who you are, basically.

Larry said...

Well, I guess they didn't have any mirrors around, did they?

From madcat we just get ridiculous self-pity; from ploopus we just get the usual insults and curses; from Elizabeth (sadly) we at least get the valid statement that there's no point in debating "some" people; and from bosox, we get this, which I can only guess is a weak but bizarre attempt at satire:

Ideally, all contributors to the Times would also meet in their top-secret headquarters and light themselves on fire so that their baby-killing, pacifist, PC reputation will not taint our majestic image as a nation.

Looks like ploopus was at least half-right the first time -- "completely partisan" aptly describes one side of the "debate".

ploopusgirl said...

Oh truly, Larry. The right is always so understanding and willing to listen to any valid points the left is willing to make. You're all so wonderful, and we're all so evil.

Mike said...

Time for an update. The American public, perhaps no a bit more removed, is realizing the Federal government's ineptitude and incompetence: 58% disapprove of Bush's handling.

Obviously the public thinks that now is a good time to start the finger pointing!

tcd said...

Hi Larry and Sloan,

Thanks for responding to madcat, Elizabeth and ploopusgirl. I actually went to bed after my last post and had an early morning meeting today so I am just reading their responses now. Wow, the screeching is really hurting my ears.

Elizabeth said...

tcd, calling my posts "screeching" proves you really have no point other than to vilify. I am happy to be an object of your disdain.

tcd said...

Elizabeth,

I already made my point. Just because you wilfully misread or ignored it does not mean I did not make my point. And my point, to repeat, was that madcat was being disingenous to say that the Democrats' behavior the last week was totally altruistic. I quote madcat, "By demanding Brown's resignation, those on the left aren't acting strategically... they're acting out of a sense of moral outrage and fear for our country's safety. If Bush leaves Brown in place, it will only drive his polls down farther. Democrats know that, but they'd rather have a competent FEMA than be led by pure politics." My response was to call madcat's bull.

By the way, it was rude of me not to acknowledge what you've been through this last week. I have read your other posts and I hope that your life gets back to normal or as normal as can be and soon. I am glad you made it out safely.

Larry said...

ploopusgirl: The right is always so understanding and willing to listen to any valid points the left is willing to make. You're all so wonderful, and we're all so evil.

Well, not all of the right is so wonderful, ploopus, nor all the left so evil. Just when the shoe fits.

Elizabeth said...

tcd, I see some distinction in what you point to in your quote, but I do think madcat said a great deal more than that that mitigates the notion of Democrats being purely altruistic. My impression is that he is trying to challenge the zero-sum positions on left and right.

And I can tell you from my point of view, I want an effective FEMA, not a political scalp on my belt. Brown is not an effective leader, and sadly, but we can't count on Bush to objectively evaluate the performance of his ranking appointees. His years in office have shown that he passes the buck down much lower, and protects his own. And by the way, I'm not a Democrat.

I want a full, objective analysis of what went right and what went wrong with the city, state and national response to Katrina, and I accept that blame will fall on both parties, and all levels of government. My complaints are with people on the right and on the left who are determined to protect their parties or leaders from examiniation and accountability. Because this blog's commentators tend to lean right, and Ann Althouse, while a moderate, has a pro-Bush reflex, I end up repeating quite a bit of the Bush criticism in attempt at balance. I wish there were opportunities for more even-handed discussion. I'm open to it.

Thanks for your good wishes, and be assured that I don't consider to have been rude--no apologies necessary.

Elizabeth said...

Just wondering--is it time to update this post, Ann, with CBS and Zogby polls showing different figures, with b/w 58% and 60% disapproving of Bush's handling of Katrina? I'm not particularly enamored of poll chasing, but if the 38% figure called for it, does fairness demand keeping up with changes?

bos0x said...

...and from Larry we get a hateful, absolutely irrelevant recap of all the leftist commenters. Thanks Larry! I hope everyone recognizes the selfless sense of community service that you bring to the Althouse blog.

The Exalted said...

Explanation of the liberal view

1) Why Brown is incompetent

After refugees had been at the Superdome for 2 days, Brown said on national tv that FEMA was not aware of any refugees at the Superdome.

After the storm hit, Brown requested 1000 FEMA personnel to come down, and gave them 2 days to arrive.

2) Why liberals jumped into "bush-bashing"

The administration and its flacks rather quickly began pushing outright falsehoods to defend the federal delays, aka, Blanco wouldnt declare an emergency (she declared it before the storm hit), its the locals' job to call in the feds (DHS has primary authority and responsiblity once an emergency is declared, and, again, this was done before the storm hit), there was not one but TWO disasters (as if the levees breaking could have occurred without Katrina), and, most egregiously, the statement "nobody could have predicted the levees breaking" (in fact, of course, many had predicted such an occurrence in the event of a Cat 4 hurricane, and this reminds people of similar false statements like "nobody could have predicted terrorists using airplanes as weapons" when, naturally, it had been hypothesized).

These egregious face-saving falsehoods, on top of the fact that the appointees running the show all had zero disaster management experience (compared to Clinton's people, who are professors in disaster management), is what led to the liberal outpouring of rage.

3) Why Harry Reid questioned Bush's vacation

Bush continued to participate in photo-ops, including playing a guitar in public, after the crisis began. Secretary of State Condi Rice famously went shopping on 5th Avenue. These careless acts, when the heads of the administration should have been holed up in dark rooms planning the region's rescue and recovery, are appalling and, in and of themselves, signs of dire incompetence.

Larry said...

bosox: Thanks Larry! I hope everyone recognizes the selfless sense of community service that you bring to the Althouse blog.

I doubt everyone does, bosox, but I'm warmed by your recognition. As for my recap of the leftist comments, I would have described it as closer to disappointed than hateful.

Here's a statement from Elizabeth, though (someone who, as I see it, tends more to your "side" of things, bosox), that I would subscribe to completely:

I want a full, objective analysis of what went right and what went wrong with the city, state and national response to Katrina, and I accept that blame will fall on both parties, and all levels of government. My complaints are with people on the right and on the left who are determined to protect their parties or leaders from examiniation and accountability.

Larry said...

I should add that I also have complaints with people on the right or the left who are determined to use any and every possible event or circumstance as a merely a blunt instrument with which to club their political opponents.

Ann Althouse said...

Elizabeth: Seems like those polls are asking a different question.

Elizabeth said...

Looking at the CNN/USA poll, the first question aims at apportioning blame, but there was also a section of rating government performance, which is what the CBS poll today does. Would you mind elaborating on the difference, and why these two recent polls stating poor approval for Bush are not relevant?

Sloanasaurus said...

"...These careless acts, when the heads of the administration should have been holed up in dark rooms planning the region's rescue and recovery, are appalling and, in and of themselves, signs of dire incompetence...."

How could they see if they are in dark rooms?

Elizabeth said...

Heh heh--can't see in the dark! 'cause that's the point, Sloan, after all.

I've seen Bush as a sort of shadow Prince Hal, whose sun never comes out from behind the clouds of his immaturity to reveal the shining hero of Agincourt. But maybe I'm using the wrong metaphor; this adminstration increasingly reminds me of pre-revolution France. Condi's gone shopping (she does look hot in a fine pair of shoes!), the King is well-rested on his estate, and his viceroy's buying a home in the country while the southland floods. Mais oui, it is tacky of me to point this out; so unsophisticated, and lacking in humor. Your quip, on the other hand, captures the French court's appreciation of form over substance! Oh, and we even have Barbara Bush's "let them eat cake" line about the Astrodome refugees. The resemblance is downright eerie.

No doubt someone will froth up with a serious reply, critiqing my comparison in minute, analytical detail. But don't bother; it's just a flight of fancy--don't get your panties in a wad.

Sloanasaurus said...

Well, I am always a sucker for historical comparisons. So I welcome yours. Regardless of the truth of the characteristics you cite about the French Court, your comparison doesn't bold well for the populist opposition who would then lead our great country into a devestating reign of terror followed by a more devestating dictatorship. Thus, perhaps it would be better for the people to understand the real reality of things to avoid the risk of uprisings because of populist symbolism.

I would chalk up the various sentiment to traditional American political criticism going back to accusations of Jefferson's slave mistress.

Elizabeth said...

Sloan, yes, it's an omninous comparison all around, and I'm sure the images of mass upheaval in NOLA worked subliminally on my imagination as well. The failed Prince Hal metaphor still works, too.

Sloanasaurus said...

Prince Hal Only in your eyes Elizabeth.

On the international side, George W. Bush's historical legacy will fall on the failure or success in Iraq. If the Iraq policy is successful, democracy will certianly spread throughout the region and Bush will be a grand historical figure who changed the world as we know it. If it fails, Bush will be forgotten.

On the domestic front, no one remembers good economies, so Bush will get nothing from the economy. I think Bush has a chance to resolve some of the New Deal problems with his ownership society ideas, but I think that will be delayed until the crisis is actually upon us (and for another President).

Bush may be able to set a legacy on the Supreme Court (for good or ill depending on what side you agree with).

Molly Johnson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.