September 26, 2005

The end of the early post-Katrina period.

We're in the middle post-Katrina period now -- aren't we? -- where fear of greed and corruption have replaced our initial love and generosity. And rightly so. Our instant readiness to spend seeemingly any amount of money naturally activated people to do what they can to get the money to flow in their direction. It's not unlike the the way the flood itself set off looting. There is just far more money at stake, and it's harder to catch people taking advantage of the situation on camera.


Donna B. said...

Like looting. Yeah, that's pretty close. I'm a Louisianan and I'm embarrassed by that bill.

Charles Giacometti said...

Sort of like the budget for the US DOD and pretty much any other large agency, especially when Bush's and Cheney's cronies get involved. The looting never stops.

The difference in the Gulf Coast is that people are homeless and uprooted. I judge white collar looting as harshly as I judge the looting in New Orleans.

Perhaps you should ask yourself why you are as angry as you are at the needy.

Ann Althouse said...

Charles: I don't think you've understood the post. Read it and the links more carefully. I'm not talking about the poor!

Charles Giacometti said...

The rightwing suddenly wants to cut the budget and is worried about spending--just when people really need help. Where was the urge to cut spending before? Where was the anger?

And why do so-called conservatives not see the irony in this? A true conservative would have been inflamed over government spending for all of the last five years, and screaming for budget cuts. Suddenly, in the face of enormous human need, the so-called conservatives are looking to trim the fat. Porkbusters emerges not when Republican special interests are looting the federal budget, but when hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged people are horribly displaced.

Your cynical reference to looting showed your biases loud and clear. Don't blame me for pointing out where your blinders are and where your true feelings lie.

Ann Althouse said...

Charles: I'm just talking about human nature. There are situations where some people give in to what is a very strong temptation. Try reading my old posts about the looting when it was taking place so you don't continue to embarrass yourself by you ignorance about the place where you see fit to write. We have a civil community here. You can join it.

Charles Giacometti said...

OK, I accept that the tone and language of your posting does not reveal any bias. And, yes, you wrote one sympathetic post about the looters, where you distanced yourself from Michelle Malkin.

But to my point about the right's sudden intense interest in cutting the pork? You don't see irony here? I think it screams irony.

And why do you make a special point about challenging the validity of this particular piece of spending when thousands of pork-laden special interest bills have been passed without a word over the last five years? Don't you think that the ballooning deficits of the last five years also represent, in your words, "situations where some people give in to what is a very strong temptation." Of course they do.

So I am left with the question I began with. Why only question spending in the face of enormous human need?

betsybounds said...

Well, Charles, of course each person is free to speak for him/herself. But my experience as part of "the right" is that those of us in what you might call the "grass roots" have been interested in cutting pork for a very long time. There are breath-taking amounts of money being made available in the wake of Katrina, and by no means all of it is from the government (maybe not even most of it!). I don't know that anyone has even an idea how much is being donated and spent. I for one am pretty darned tired of being accused of greed and grasping just because I oppose these nearly uncontrolled government outlays, and it has nothing at all to do with wanting to hurt the poor. The New Orleans poor have been at the tender mercy of the Democrats (not cronies of Bush and Cheney) for decades, and one would be hard-pressed to say how it has done them the first bit of good. And when huge amounts of government money are made available as they are now, no one should be surprised when people line up to get a share. Milo Minderbinder, anyone? "It's all a part of the syndicate, and everyone gets a share."

Jack said...

"So I am left with the question I began with. Why only question spending in the face of enormous human need?"

Because you've been ignoring that people on the right have been lamenting Republican heavy spending for years?

Save war spending, the budget should be slashed whereever possible.

Ann Althouse said...

Charles: I haven't been one of the bloggers talking about pork. Do a search on my blog for the word "pork." You'll find exactly one hit, a mention of George Carlin's book "When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?"

My post today is worried about corruption and malfeasance in the spending of money!

Charles Giacometti said...

Hi Cutler and Betsy,

I have no doubt there are millions of responsible conservatives out there who are upset about the profligate spending of this administration. Unfortunately, you have almost no voice in the public debate, and especially in the rightwing blogosphere.

So you folks should be demanding the Congress, the President, and their supporters in the media and the blogosphere take the staggering problems with the budget seriously.

As a fiscally conservative but socially liberal Democrat, I am dumbfounded by the last five years. The deficits only mount, and your party controls the executive and the legislative branch. Where is the political will to cut spending and eliminate the deficits? I would be furious with my party if I were you. I would also be furious with the rightwing blogosphere for only taking up the cause now, after five years of the most irresponsible budgeting our country has ever seen.

I was voting and just as involved in things during the Reagan years. Guess what? Reagan actually wanted to cut some things, and he spelled out where the cuts would take place. And he took a lot of heat for it. This current crew wants it all ways. They want to spend what they want, provide the tax relief that they want, and put the entire tab on the taxpayers of tomorrow. I think it is time that all of these choices were spelled out, and decisions were made.


Sloanasaurus said...

I agree with Charles. The first place we need to start with is Katrina. We need to limit the spending on this large federal program. The $200 billion pricetag is ludicrous. YOu could probably build a copy of New Orleans somewhere else with $200 billion.

Congress needs to take its time so it can pass meaningful spending when the emotional outburst caused by fraud from the media has passed.

Condoleesa said...

I guess I am just really jaded. I pretty much refrain from making cash donations to any of the causes. I have a very compassionate side and would love to help everyone that needs it but I guess my feeling is that most of the donations never make it to those that need it and are instead hijacked by the undeserving. There just isn't a good way to know.

Charles Giacometti said...

Believe it or not, I am with Sloanasaurus 100% on taking a hard look at what to spend on Katrina, though I am not sure what he means by media fraud. I just think such a massive effort has to be a combination of private and public effort.

Condoleesa, I have a sure-fire solution to your concerns. Volunteer at any Salvation Army sponsored center. You will see up close how money helps people who need it. And the Salvation Army is not the only charity that does excellent work, efficiently, at the front lines of need. Good work does get done. There are indeed the truly needy (as Reagan liked to say) who need help and get it.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully, more people with develop some healthy skepticism about the $200 billion pricetag that's been bandied about. That is an enormous amount of money (probably much more than will actually be required.)

Brando said...

With Karl Rove in charge of reconstruction, i am sure we have nothing to worry about. Like, they wouldn't dare hand out fat cat no-bid contracts to ethically challenged cronies.

Beth said...


Charles is right: you should have little problem finding a way to put your donation, of time or money, right into the hands of those who need it. There are possibly Katrina or Rita evacuees in your town. Find them, and ask what would help. They might need furniture, or clothes, or help buying textbooks they had to leave behind. The Red Cross and the Salvation Army could use your help, and it will get to those who need it.

The New Orleans poor have been at the tender mercy of the Democrats (not cronies of Bush and Cheney) for decades, and one would be hard-pressed to say how it has done them the first bit of good.

I'm not sure how you are able to pull out the Republican presidents, congresses, and courts from having any effect on the lives of poor people in New Orleans. Many programs for education, healthcare, and food for women and dependent children are federally funded, and last I checked, the fed is GOP these days, and has been for a good while. Two of the past four governors in Louisiana have been Republican, and the state House and Senate are dominated by Republicans. The mayor, Ray Nagin, switched parties to run as a Democrat. He was a registered Republican, and is known around town as Ray Reagan. It's simply wrong to blame the problems with poverty in New Orleans, or anywhere, on Democrats alone.

Beth said...

The bill that is the subject of Ann's topic here is sponsored by a Democrat, Mary Landrieu, and...oh my gosh..a REPUBLICAN, David Vitter. How can that be?

And speaking of looters, Halliburton already has contracts in New Orleans. And politically connected soldiers of fortune, the Blackwater thugs, are running around our streets, armed and acting as agents of Homeland Security. The looting already started, long before our senators asked for all this pork.

Further, it appears Micheal Brown will be involved in investigating "what went wrong" with Katrina. More looting, this time of integrity and responsibility.

Eli Blake said...


Actually, considering that we are talking about rebuilding a major American city, including many of its suburbs, and the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast, I question whether $200 billion (or even the $300 billion I heard) will be enough.

However, what we SHOULD do is build it as a flood proof city (in other words, let's do it ONCE).

In the US News story, Why Didn't Anyone do Anything about the Warnings? we find that New Orleans Corps of Engineers chief Al Naomi had proposed a plan for upgrading the levees to withstand a category 5 hurricane following the now-infamous 2001 FEMA report describing the risk. According to the US News story, Naomi's proposal to raise the levees to provide Category 5 protection, outlined in a slide-show presentation he created that includes slides like "Benefits of category 5 Protection: Loss of Life Prevented; Makes evacuation manageable," is still awaiting federal funding--for a feasibility study.

concrete proposal #1: Incorporate Naomi's plan or another guaranteeing cat 5 protection into the rebuilding plan.

2) The Dutch have the experience of having millions of people living below sea level. After a storm breached the dikes in 1953 and killed 2000 people, they began the construction of enormous hydraulic sea walls that can wall off sections of the country and localize any future floods.

concrete proposal #2: Either build hydraulic seawalls like the Dutch or by use of landfill create barrier walls of higher ground sectioning off areas which are below ground.

3) The existence of shipping canals (which in fact were breached) going through the city as well as outlying areas has to be questioned. They have damaged the wetlands (Louisiana is losing 24 square miles per year to the sea), which wetlands act like sponge and if left alone absorb much of the energy of hurricanes and storm surges. Additionally, it was the canals themselves which ruptured and flooded the city. It may cost some shipping magnate a few dollars, but the risk makes it just not worth the risk to have shipping canals running through the city (and that is aside from the additional risk that now that terrorists have observed this, they certainly know that if the canals are rebuilt, they can create another major disaster just by blowing up a truck bomb next to one of them).

concrete proposal #3: Get rid of MRGO and make ships leave out the natural route to the gulf, via the river.

I don't mind spending the money, but we must make sure it is spent with an eye towards permanently preventing this from happening again.

vbspurs said...

We're in the middle post-Katrina period now -- aren't we? -- where fear of greed and corruption have replaced our initial love and generosity

Not only that, but now NPR, who almost had a collective hissy fit the week after Katrina, are now COMPLAINING that the increase in Federal troops in the area is somehow sinister.

You can't win.