September 12, 2005


There's too much of it — the political trickery of scoring points off Katrina.


Sloanasaurus said...

Bush should reassert the conservative agenda. The ownership society, school choice, welfare to work, personal responsibility.

As the true facts become known about Katrina (lower death toll, faster recover time, etc..), Americans are going to start realizing that they have been hoodwinked by the television media into believing this disaster is far worse than any other disaster.

Meade said...

Where is the evidence that President Bush is, himself, a "racist?" Perhaps it's there and my own blinders keep me from seeing it.

What a grand historic moment it would be if, in the appropriate context and without "hurrichicanery," Pres. Bush could convey our common evolutionary essence. A la "Ich bin ein Berliner" or "We are all New Yorkers," I would love to hear him acknowledge, "I am African American." As we all are.

Too Many Jims said...


Though the media has, perhaps, overhyped it, this disaster is far worse than any other disaster to hit our country in some time. I mean this in terms of cost, loss of human life, amount of time it takes for the region to recover and ancillary damage to the nation/economy.

To the extent that it turns out that the media overestimated the scope of destruction (particularly the loss of human life) it will be a benefit to those who are trying to rehabilitate their standing. Let's say that "only" 3,000 are dead vs. the 10,000 that was bantied about. They will be able to argue that their efforts saved 7,000 lives (I don't buy this argument, but I think it will be made more subtly).

Sloanasaurus said...

Maybe you are right Jim, but it is looking like even your whittled down estimations are way too high.

Its not 3000 dead, it might only be a few hundred dead.

Now it turns out that the part of New Orleans is up and running again (the business district has power), and the whole city may be drained by October. Further, it now appears that the disaster will have far less impact on the economy, and that oil prices are actually falling. These are vast improvements from the original concerns and estimates.

Im not arguing that it isn't still a disaster, it's just not the worst disaster, and may soon be falling out of the top 10.

The reporting on this story could turn out to be the largest media fraud in history. People are going to be PISSED. What if you usally give a few $hundred for these types of disasters, but gave $1000 because this was supposed to be the worst disaster only to find out a few weeks later that it wasn't.

Meade said...

Sloanasaurus asked: What if you usally give a few $hundred for these types of disasters, but gave $1000 because this was supposed to be the worst disaster only to find out a few weeks later that it wasn't.

You mean like maybe I'd want my money back? I don't think so. I gave to a worthwhile agency; not to the disaster. And I'll be glad, assuming my taxes continue to be reduced, that I'll have even more to give.

Too Many Jims said...


It may turn out that you are right that it "may be falling out of the top 10" disasters. Time will tell.

Here is a site that shows dollar amount of damages of weather related disasters in the U.S. since 1980. Unclear whether dollars are adjusted for inflation but I think even if they aren't this disaster will rank highly (if not #1).

About 60 people died (directly and indirectly) in Andrew, more than 400 are confirmed dead due to Katrina. I do not know what the final number will be, I used 3,000 but readily admit that the number may well be lower. Unless few more deaths are confirmed, I think it is fair to say the number will be north of a few hundred dead.

me said...

I do think that the disaster does point out flaws in free market economics. I am all for free market where it makes sense. However, in the future, I think a little more governmental intervention to get people out would be appropriate. Also, there are going to be some serious issues with respect to insurance, as no insurance company will insure homes in New Orleans.

I think New Orleans is worth rebuilding if it is done in a way to compartmentalize any future disaster, so the whole city is not destroyed. Maybe set aside a portion now to be a future resevoir in the event of a levy break.

On a broader scale, the notion that this country is going to have to dig in its pockets and rebuild the infrastructure of bridges, highways and trains is still out there.

We can't continue to be penny wise pound foolish. A month before 9/11 I watched half of my boy scout troop walk through airport security with pocket knives.

Unknown said...

Saul wrote: "I do think that the disaster does point out flaws in free market economics. I am all for free market where it makes sense. However, in the future, I think a little more governmental intervention to get people out would be appropriate."

I don't get your point. 'Getting people out' prior to, and after a disaster is essentially a 100% governmental function as shown clearly in the excerpts below from the Louisiana State Emergency Operations Plan April 2005, and Supliment 1A (Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Evacuation and Sheltering Plan):


A. The Governor is responsible for the coordinated delivery of all emergency services, public, quasi volunteer, and private, during a natural, technological and/or national security emergency/disaster situation. The Governor has delegated the LOHSEP (ed: Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness) Director the authority to implement this plan, and to direct State level emergency operations through the regularly constituted governmental structure.
D. Local governments are responsible under all applicable laws, executive orders, proclamations, rules, regulations, and ordinances for emergency management within their respective jurisdiction. Local emergency management organizations shall function from designated EOC's (ed: Emergency Operations Center) and are subject to the direction and control of the executive heads of government, in coordination with the Governor and the LOHSEP Director.

"The primary means of hurricane evacuation will be personal vehicles. School and municipal buses, government-owned vehicles and vehicles provided by volunteer agencies may be used to provide transportation for individuals who lack transportation and require assistance in

Could you be more specific as to exactly how free market economics negatively impacted evacuation efforts and prevented state and local governmental authorities from fulfilling their duties as outlined above?

leeontheroad said...

re: "school choice:" many folks from LA and MI are getting just that, beyond their own districts!

Truly, some people are quite consciously choosing where to enroll. Of course, many others have insufficient information or wherewithall to do so.

But I would suggest we keep in mind that scales of disaster are about more than how much property damage is done.

The dislocation of this huge number of people is one of the larger unintended social experiments in US history.

Unknown said...

leeontheroad. Good observation regarding evacuated people and the effect as social experiment. I suppose the final number actually remaining displaced from New Orleans will determine the scale, scope, and value of the 'experiment' aspect of the disaster. I know our city has taken in quite a few evacuees here in California. We are about as much *not* New Orleans as you can find. We'll see if they stay or go back home.

Either way, I wish these people all the best and sincerely hope their futures are bright and safe...

PodPoet said...

I run a site of poems written by, for and about those affected by Hurricane Katrina. There are a few submitted which comment on or allude to the "race" question regarding Hurricane Katrina. It's at Hellicane

California Conservative said...

Debit card chicanery...

KCFleming said...

Ann is right on the money again. Just like her call on John Stewart.

Bumiller's rant es muy estupido. An anonymous negative comment by a Bush supporter? Suuuure. I believe it. But I love this line most: Bishop Jakes, a multimillionaire and best-selling author, is to deliver the sermon this Friday ... Say what? He's black and rich? Well, that must mean something, but I wonder what??

The breathless media talking heads caused much panic and anger among the hurricane victims and across the nation. Their method was not planned strategery, but an example of the standard MSM viewpoint for all of its stories, every day. The bias is usually not so evident, but more often rather subtle, marked more by what part of the story was excluded than anything overt.

But this was take-the-gloves-off exploitation. And it made things worse. I only watched one day of the news, and found it so sickening, I just read blogs, and watched with the sound off.

Of late, I find the mute botton on TV enormously useful.

stavr0s said...

It's quite possible that when the final body count is in, there will be less dead in the hurricane than on the staffs of some of the mainstream media organizations.

Coco said...

I certainly don't buy into the idea that Bush or his administration is racist or uncaring about blacks or any race for that matter, but the important question, regardless of the media coverage on the subject, is whether the victims of Katrina believed that there was a racial component to their unfortunate circumstances. And I say regardless of the media coverage because the victims here were obviously not watching TV nor reading the NY Times (since they had no electricity and no water, let alone newspapers. Moreover, the TV coverage could have been broadcast without sound and many people watching the tube might have legitimately raised these type of questions. Indeed, I believe that this blog discussed these images in the early days of the aftermath.

Like it or not, racism is often a question of perception. Thus, I don't really understand how the story Ann linked to is illegitimate or proof of Hurricichanery (which is a great word). If many people perceive events in a certain way and it stands to reason that there may be political fallout from this perception, analyzing the issue seems more than fair game for a news analysis piece. Indeed, at least to me it would seem odder if it was not analyzed.

Sigivald said...

Saul: Not insuring homes in New Orleans would not be a market failure, but the market working as it should; that's a signal to people that it's a really bad idea to build a house there, if it's so risky nobody will insure it (or won't insure it at rates anyone's willing to pay).

That we do not like the information market signals give us does not mean the market is failing.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

"regardless of the media coverage on the subject, is whether the victims of Katrina believed that there was a racial component to their unfortunate circumstances."

Bush's "problem" with being seen as racist obviously pertains to all of the African Americans in this country, not just the victims. It has been race baiters like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson & Kanye West who have made this allegation to the nation as a whole. I don't think there is any doubt that most African Americans (i.e. non-victims) believe that there was at least some racial component to the predicament of the victims at the Super Dome.

However, you can't separate the media's coverage from the opinions of black people about the recovery efforts. The media has done everything it can to lay the blame on Bush and to portray the FEMA response as apathetic and poorly planned. That is the basis for people claiming that Bush is racist. They believe that he didn't do what was necessary to help the victims and he wasn't adequately concerned about them because they were black.

The only problem with that belief is that we are now finding out that FEMA's response was seriously hindered by state and local authorities and the break down in the emergency response and evacuation plan occurred at the city level. Furthermore, we now know that the emergency plan called for FEMA to begin delivering services no earlier than 72 hours yet, it appears that it was ready to do so almost immediately in this case(at least in regard to the Red Cross aid that was prevented from entering the city by the State DHS). FEMA's rsponse, no matter how inadequate, was better than it has ever been.

I don't know anyone that wasn't angry about the lack of aid given to the victims at the Super Dome and Convention Center. That anger was directed at those responsible for their rescue. The fact that Bush has been targeted by the media is the very reason black people could even consider that he is a racist. If the media were more honest about the culpability of the mayor, racism would obviously be taken out of the mix because he is himself black.

As far as the death toll. It is disingenuous to chastise people for pointing out that the death toll is a fraction of the original reports. Of course hundreds of casualties are too many. Those pointing out the lower numbers are merely responding to the ghouls on the left who were gleefully reporting the "10,000 dead" and "25,000 body bags" memes because it was being tacked on to the "Bush blew it" story line.

This was a tragedy. However, it was a natural disaster that hit an area populated predominantly by African Americans rather than evidence of racial bias, this story is evidence of the incompetence of large government bureaucracies.

leaddog2 said...

How do you measure damage? Property or Lives lost? Both are bad, but the 1900 Galveston Hurricane and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake killed the most people.

As for racism.... I will bluntly state that Jessee Jackson and Al Sharpton should be hung. They have polluted America for too long.

Unknown said...

Most of these posts must be done by K Rove puppets. Take the blame away from a blundering president whose remarks and behavior before and after the hurricane was inept and lacked any background information and knowledge about what happened before, after and during the hurricane. I think the media has been to soft on Bush and his administration. He blundered and know he is being scripted. Without a script he was stupid and did not have his act together which is what happens when he is not scripted or does not have a planted scripted audience. I am not certain if he is racist or not but he favors the rich at every turn. Bush blew it and now Rove likes are trying to cover up by putting all the blame on local democrats instead of owning up to their own blunders. This administration has never admitted to any blunders and turns things around to make it look like everyone messed up but them. Nice job Brownie, no levee problems, etc. All the right wing media is so slanted and now they are trying to back the Rove deceptions of blaming, smearing and lying about those that criticize Bush and the administration. The conservative agenda, Rove's deceptive and unethical tacticss, along with right wing media have created a polarized and divided society. I do not think any of the media should let up on Bush and the administration. They have screwed up just about everything they have touched and need to be held accountable. That is what the media is supposed to do instead of sucking up to them as they have done in the past.

Richard McEnroe said...

Because the first talent of a true moderate is to realize everything is Karl Rove's fault.


Unknown said...

Dear Richard,
No, not Karl Rove's fault. It is the fault of bush. Rove is the cya guy for bush blunders. Rove is an intelligent, unethical, vicous behind the scenes sneak. Bush blunder, Rove deviously and without honor covers for the spoiled kid now and in the past. I just wanted to make sure you did not misrepresent who is at fault and that the blame belongs to georgie porgie.
Goooooooooo Brownie, or should I say gone Brownie.

Mack the Knife said...


I realize it is a difficult concept, but Bush is President of the United States, not Governor of the State of Lousiana, let alone Mayor of New Orleans. It is called Federalism. I realize this is a difficult concept for L³eftists to understand.

Bush did not have the authority to do anything more than he did, nor did he have the responsibility to do more than he did. He can't run every city and State in the Union. What would you have had him do? When the incompetence of the State and Local governments became manifest, I guess he could have declared Louisiana in a state of insurrection, and sent in the Army.

Then you'd be whining about his military coup. You know you would, I know you would, everyone knows you would.

Bush couldn't have gotten it right, because, no matter what he does, even if it exactly what you called on him to do 24 hours earlier, it will be wrong.

The evil Chimpy McHalliburton Bushitler should have been smarter than to take your advice.

Everyone focuses on New Orleans. Here’s some information for you. There are poor black people in Mississippi and Alabama too. Somehow they managed to restrain themselves and didn’t rape, kill, pillage, and burn.

Must have been those awful Republican Governors, like, doing their job.

Oh, and that black people can be decent people too. The fault of the looting and rioting doesn’t lie with the Bush administration, nor, really, the incompetence of the State and Local leadership.

And it has nothing to do with race. In a bad situation, some bad people did some really bad things. The smallest unit in Federalism is the individual.

The blame for what they did rests squarely on their shoulders, and I hope to G-d that they reap every grain of the harvest that they have sown.

Sloanasaurus said...

While I agree with Mack in his comments above, I wonder if questions need to be asked about whether FEMA should be a first responder. Considering that FEMA is going to get blamed in the future over any mishap that isn't their fault to begin with, maybe the Feds should take control over everything else to correct those mistakes. The problem, however, is that no Governor would ever relinquish this power to the feds.

ploopusgirl said...

Sloanasaurus: Whether this hurricane turns out to be less catastrophic than was originally thought or not-and you're being either extremely naive or extremely pigheaded in believing death tally is the only measure that matters; most of these people had little to nothing to begin with, and now they have no shelter; America can't even fund its own health care system correctly, how is it going to rebuild the homes of thousands of people in 3 months? winter's fast approaching-the fact that you're trying to downplay it is odd at best. This was an American tragedy, and the fact that you've written so much to downplay how bad it was makes it seem as though, to put it in your terms, YOU HATE AMERICA.

Beth said...

Given the market working, won't we see those areas of New Orleans with few claims still able to find insurance at reasonable rates? My house will need some roof tiles, my refridgerator will have to be replaced (it's a toxic dump by now), and I may have some sheetrock and window panes to replace as well. And that may be the case with a large swath of the city.

There are more voices than Kanye West's talking to black constituents; Carol Mosley Braun said she specifically does not believe the slow response and various problems on the city, state and national level were due to racism, in terms of acts of commission, but rather acts of ommission--the fact that so often mainstream American--whites and middleclass blacks both--don't see or give much thought to poverty-class blacks. Certainly Mayor Nagin is going to have to atone for his failure to help the poor and ill get out of the city. Usher called Kanye West's comments exaggerated, and Chris Rock lampooned West as well.

Sloanasaurus said...

Ploops, I agree that the property destruction matters. However, it does not matter on the same scale as the death toll. Property is even worth less in 21st century America where one can do the work that took hundreds or even thousands of workers 100 years ago.

At any given time in the United states there are some 12 million vacant housing units. Perhaps some will be available for the evacuees from New Orleans.

I am not downplaying the disaster. I am just pointing out the fraud being committed by those who want to make the disaster something it is not.

ploopusgirl said...

Uh, no sloan. You're kind of taking every opportunity you get to lecture about how the hurricane isn't that bad a disaster. And while, yes, construction is miles ahead of where it was 100 years go, we still don't have the powers of magic. It still takes time and money to reconstruct things.

Coco said...

What "fraud" is being referred to here? The very lucky fact that, somewhat miraculously, far less people died during this calamnity than the very early estimates? How is this fraudulent? Did Mayor Nagin have some actual way of knowing a week ago that there would be far less than 10,000 deaths in the entire gulf area? Did the media? I simply don't understand this line of posting if it is truly intended as intellectual discourse. If its just partisan spin, well, then I guess I understand it. But really, if the folks who have been writing this as well as the "only the death toll matters" actually have a point that somehow advances our collective knowledge or understanding other than a knee-jerk, "see look at that craven and complicit liberal media machine at work," I'd like to hear it...really.

Beth said...

This story is unfolding; it's not told yet. Naming anything--fraud, failure, success--is premature.