August 31, 2005

Katrina talk, Bush talk.

I haven't gone looking — not very far, at least — but I'm expecting to see the talk about Katrina turn into talk about Bush. There's already been the early blaming: try to find ways to see any problem that may emerge as Bush's fault. On the other side: Bush will be praised for whatever response he takes. Bush's critics will accuse him of exploiting the disaster for photo ops and political advantage. There should be lots of squawking about the stories that are getting overshadowed. Sheehan! Plame! The women's names upon whom such hopes rested are drowned out by the louder name Katrina.

And you know Bush's people are deviously orchestrating that.

UPDATE: A reader notes that Kevin Drum has also come out against politicizing Katrina. But then there are all those comments on his posts (which he can't control). The link in my original post goes to Daily Kos, and I just went over and read some of the hundreds of comments there. Really awful! Well, I'm glad there are blogs with comments right there for all of us to see the kind of things that would otherwise be said outside of our hearing. Funny that the people making the comments don't seem aware of how they look to those outside their insular group.

Anyway, you don't need me to tell you, but Drum's post makes me feel that I should add to the chorus and say it would be good to make a contribution to hurricane relief. Glenn Reynolds has posted what I'm going to assume is a good set of links for that purpose.


Dave Schuler said...

I haunt a pretty sizeable chunk of the blogosphere and read roughly the same number of left-leaning, center, and right-leaning blogs.

The right-leaning and center blogs are behaving like good de-Tocquevillian Americans.

There's a pretty consistent silence from the Left Blogosphere on Katrina (MY's “other people are a better source” post is one of the exceptions). Regardless of the best intentions of the bloggers the comments sections of such posts as there are very nearly immediately descend into implicit criticisms of the Administration e.g. “we should have signed Kyoto” (to reduce the number of powerful hurricanes!), “there aren't enough National Guardsmen because they're in Iraq”, etc.

Goesh said...

When will our movie stars and singers pitch in and start raising money?? Or have they already??

Sloanasaurus said...

People go to far in trying to think that the government or people in general can do anything to stop these disasters. Bush is just a human after all....

Instead, people should concentrate on rebuilding. We will be amazaed at how quickly the area recovers.

Simon Kenton said...

Sloanasaurus wrote:

"Instead, people should concentrate on rebuilding. We will be amazaed at how quickly the area recovers."

This is a heartening thing to say, but there are matters of public policy that will be addressed, either now, early and consciously; or later, based on economic collapse. You just cannot sustain a major city below sea level, on a delta. Not for long. Nobody can. The river will leave it, the sea will take it. We can love New Orleans or not, but it's untenable in that position, with that size and population density. It becomes a question of what percentage of national resources we decide to devote to sustaining what cannot be sustained.

Underlying the laws of economics are the laws of thermodynamics.

alkali said...

I haven't gone looking — not very far, at least — but I'm expecting to see the talk about whether the administration could have done anything to prevent the damage caused by Katrina turn into talk about why it's not OK to talk about political matters when something really bad happens. There's already been the early tsk-tsking: try to find ways to label any criticism of administration policy as "hindsight" and "inappropriate."

StrangerInTheseParts said...

At the national political level there is only one question that will hang over the next few weeks, no?:

Do our public institutions seem to be able to effectively recover from such a disaster or not?

This disaster is nothing less then a test run for another major terrorist attack. We can argue from dawn till death about preventing either, but there is no way to argue that America shouln't be - 5 years post 9/11 - armed with an awesome ability to recover and rebuild promptly after a major disaster in a large urban area.

StrangerInTheseParts said...

Yeah yeah - 4 years post 9/11 (not 5). Typo. My bad.

amba said...

Simon: "Underlying the laws of economics are the laws of thermodynamics." Very quotable.

Dave Schuler is being too bashful in not linking to his own strong post at The Glittering Eye (which for me became "The Hurricane's Eye" during the Katrina watch), in which he quotes from Kos, showing that the left continues to disgrace and marginalize itself.

Dave Schuler said...

Simon Kenton above is posing a hard question but a question that certainly needs to be addressed: we can re-build New Orleans; should we? There will be enormous temptations to re-build including politcs, defiance, nostalgia, and the various stresses to our system of personal and real property that failing to re-build New Orleans would entail.

But there's a real “broken window” issue here. What's the most prudent use of the resources?

Paul said...

Rovian genuis. It's Pinnacle; he created a hurricane and aimed it straight at New Orleans too.
How to counter a Mother Sheehan visit to soothe and comfort soon to come, that is the question.

Sloanasaurus said...

"...But there's a real “broken window” issue here. What's the most prudent use of the resources?..."

Of course we should rebuild New Orleans! You can't just abandon 300 years of civilization because of one hurricane. Besides its the people who make the city not the buildings.

Further, you talk about prudent use of resources... the amount of resources available for rebuilding New Orleans will be ten times the amount for rebuilding something else. You are going to have a lot of people cleaning up their own houses and lawns and hotels etc... for the next year when they would have been doing other non-productive things (such as watching TV or reading blogs).

Kathy Herrmann said...

Dave Schuler raises an excellent question and one I raised myself today in my blog.

New Orleans is located in a geologically unstable location. The city is sinking from the combination of sedimentary compaction and also encroaching seas as sea level rises. Development has further exaspperated the problem by destroying wetlands. And to top it off, man-made attempts to lock the Mississippi into its current path is a losing proposition. Eventually Mother Nature will succeed in switching the bulk of the water volume to the Atchafalaya.

New Orleans has a limited life-span in the long-term. In the short-term, though, the city and Gulf Coast are too important not to rebuild because of oil production and refining, and also as a ports for grain exports.

At some point in LA's future, though, we're going to have to grapple with what to do with N.O. and the infrastructure along the coast.

Simon Kenton said...

Roaring Tiger and I are on the same page here, I think. But it seems likely that some of these decisions are going to be made by relatively simple mechanisms. A couple of rhetorical questions: ever try to get insurance on a house with mold? Get insurance after submitting a major claim? Whether or not it becomes policy to rebuild New Orleans - I think from a geologic perspective that we can either pull back and take the hit now, or take a much bigger hit later, when the river abandons it - there are large parts of the city which are now a scrape.

Elizabeth said...


If you're saying there are parts of the city that shouldn't be restored in a rebuild, then I might agree. The French Quarter ought not to be one of those. There are quite a few neighborhoods that are in good flood positions and did better than others in this event.

Brando said...

New Orleans has a limited life-span in the long-term. In the short-term, though, the city and Gulf Coast are too important not to rebuild because of oil production and refining, and also as a ports for grain exports.

Don't you think, then, that it would have been prudent to adequately fund New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for maintaining the now-breached levee system, as well as Louisiana's chief hurricane protection project.

I mean, it's not like the goverment hasn't been spending like a drunken sailor. The recent pork-laden Energy bill comes to mind. And of course there is Iraq, where are spending billions reconstructing (or attempting to reconstruct).

Nor is the case that we didn't know the potential for disaster here, since in early 2001 the Federal Emergency Management Agency ranked the potential damage to New Orleans as among the three likeliest, most castastrophic disasters facing this country. (The other two? A massive earthquake in San Francisco and a terrorist attack on New York City.)

If somebody had made a decision to earmark NOLA for obliteration, it would have at least been gracious to inform them that their fate was now being left entirely in the hands of thermodynamics.

Sloanasaurus said...

Perhaps it is all God's punishment for America producing too much greenhouse gases.

Sorry, I just had to add that.