I will frankly admit that I have been sickened by the lack of compassion for those victimized by Hurricane Katrina that I’ve seen in some corners of the Bloggernacle.
Comments along the lines of “well, if they’d only had 72 hour kits. . .” or “if they had followed the evacuation order. . .” or “I never would have ended up in the Superdome” have made me spitting mad, but for reasons that I couldn’t quite articulate–until I was working on my Sunday School lesson. This is how Colonel Kane describes the last refugees to leave Nauvoo:
Here, among the docks and rushes, sheltered only by the darkness, without roof between them and the sky, I came upon a crowd of several hundred human creatures, whom my movements roused from uneasy slumber upon the ground. Dreadful indeed, was the suffering of these forsaken beings; bowed and cramped by cold and sunburn, alternating as each weary day and night dragged on, they were, almost all of them, the crippled victims of disease. They were there because they had no homes, nor hospitals, nor poor house, not friends to offer them any. They could not satisfy the feeble cravings of their sick; they had not bread to quiet the fractious hunger-cries of their children. Mothers and babes, daughters and grandparents, all of them alike, were bivouacked in tatters, wanting even covering to comfort those whom the sick shivers of fever were searching to the marrow. These were Mormons, famishing in Lee county, Iowa, in the fourth week of the month of September, in the year of our Lord 1846. They were, all told, not more than six hundred and forty persons who were thus lying on the river flats. But the Mormons in Nauvoo and its dependencies had been numbered the year before at over twenty thousand.
Sound eerily familiar? It should come as no surprise to anyone that the poor and sick. mothers with babes in arms and the elderly, will have the hardest time evacuating a city. Here’s how B. H. Roberts describes it in The Comprehensive History of the Church:
The remnant expelled from Nauvoo under circumstances of such great cruelty, was made up of those who were either too poor to purchase an outfit with which to leave the city, or else of those who could not dispose of property to buy teams with which to remove. When driven from their homes by the mob they took refuge on the Iowa side of the Mississippi, where they bivouacked as best they could on the river bottoms. They numbered about six hundred and forty, all told. An encampment was improvised of such materials as were at hand. There were a few old wagons with covers: tents were constructed by stretching quilts and blankets over frames made of small poles; other shelters still were made by weaving brush between stakes driven into the ground; and here were huddled women and children destitute of both food and adequate clothing. It was the latter part of September, and the cold fall rains frequently drenched them. It was the sickly season of the year and most of the camp suffered from alternating chills and fever. Such as were able to leave camp went into neighboring towns up and down the river and applied to farmers and settlers about them for work and relief from starvation. Their camp from the general destitution that prevailed is called in the church annals “the poor camp.”
I suppose if we were there, we might have wondered why these Saints didn’t get an earlier start. Why didn’t they have better provisions? (What’s wrong with them, anyway?)
Here’s a different response–God’s response–to their situation (again from B. H. Roberts):
In the midst of their greatest distress for want of food, a most remarkable circumstance, yet well attested, happened. This was no other than the falling into their camp–and for several miles up and down the river–of immense numbers of quails. The birds are quite common in that country, but these flocks were so exhausted, evidently from a long flight, that the women and children and even the sick, since they came tumbling into the tents or bowers, could take them up with their hands. Thousands were so caught, and the sick and the destitute were fed upon daintiest food.
If we choose to criticize those who are victimized by Katrina instead of helping them, we are not choosing the Lord’s response. We, unlike the Saints miles away and with little or no communication with “the poor camp,” are in a position to aid God in a modern miracle of the quail. Click here or here.
I agree that such criticisms of the victims are clumsy at best, and heartless at worst.
What I can get over is how what should have been just your ordinary, run-of-the-mill hurricane (now there’s an oxymoron!), has turned into such a tragic fiasco.
There have been hurricanes before this one, and while the destruction is horrible, it usually lasts only 48 hours, maybe 10 people die, and then everyone is back home picking up the pieces. At least, that’s how most hurricanes in the US play out.
Not this one. This looks more like a scene out of Indonesia or Nigeria. For some reason, the usual hurricane drill has completely broken down at the governmental level.
I don’t get it.
Anyway, if any finger pointing is to be done, do it to local and federal government. That’s what they’re there for. Don’t sling mud at the victims.
Julie, your insights in this post are good, but I think you are still mishearing what at least some of the commenters you refer to are saying. It weakens your position to make this into a personal censure of those you disagree with.
I too, have been struck by the similarities between how the poorest and most vulnerable are bearing the brunt of the suffering in this disaster and how the early saints suffered during their time as refugees.. But there are also many important differences that shouldn’t be ignored.
Pointing out some of those differences doesn’t make the commenters you refer to any less compassionate for those who are the least of our society.
Thank you for the reminder via BH Roberts of what our response could be- part of a modern miracle as you say.
Julie, thank you for reminding me of two things – the heavy burden of my own responsibility, and the reality of God’s love.
It is interesting to note the date – September 1846. Section 136, where Brigham Young organized companies to “bear an equal proportion in taking the poor, the widows and the fatherless” wasn’t given until January, 1847. Why were they left behind in the first place? Are we any better now, or do “the cries of the widows and fatherless come up into the ears of the Lord against this people”?
I find myself pretty much agreeing with everybody. Both sides make sense to me. What’s up with that?
I think we should focus on helping as much as possible and helping out when possible. Too many people are spending too much time working backwards from their support or distaste for current political administrations and casting blame based on that.
Time enough for blame and recriminations later – whatever politician or governmental agency you hate most will still be around to throw mud at.
However, I think Julie is too quick to read malevolence in comments that are at worst, tactless and at best, misdirected.
Can we help AND criticize? I know God wouldn’t like it, but I can go out and put gas in my daughter’s car (yet again), saying, “dammit, I told you to get gas” while I’m pouring it in the gas tank. NEXT TIME LISTEN TO ME.
Well meaning people can get frustrated at the helpless fury of those who failed to prepare, it’s human.
I, myself, have been everywhere in this and that debate. I, myself, in the safety and comfort of my air conditioned house, can look on and figure out just what everybody’s problem is, from infertility, to the war in Iraq, to that guy who hearts Mormons so much he wants to save us from ourselves. I’m easy, I can go from one opinion to another at the click of a mouse.
This is ONLY a blog, only opinions. We’re not the ones who chose to stay in New Orleans unprepared, we’re not the ones FORCED to stay because we were too poor to leave, we’re not the ones piling the bodies in the morgues, we’re not the ones driving the buses. We’re just people looking on, thanking God we are not 20 feet below sea level depending on faulty levees.
But, you guys, next week, we could be the ones who lose everything in a major earthquake. And others, unaffected, will sit back and uh, damn, whats that word, evaluate the situation and place blame. What is up with that American tendency to blame?
Skipping church today, guys. Eat your hearts out. Now I’m going back to bed with my Little Debbie snack cake (not fasting either, but I’m giving lots of money, relatively speaking).
Julie, I understand your indignation, and agree with it in principle, but perhaps the emotion makes you a little too harsh. You say: “If we choose to criticize those who are victimized by Katrina instead of helping them, we are not choosing the Lord’s response.” Criticism does not exclude giving help and we should not presume that anyone who makes such a remark is turning his back indifferently. Indeed, some criticisms may have been said with a tone of true compassion: “Poor good people, if they had only…” Also, since the matter is complex and involves tens of thousands, some criticisms may well be justified for a number of people, though not the ideal thing to say at this time. Finally some criticisms can also be read as warnings to ourselves that we should be prepared and give heed.
In comparing Nauvoo and New Orleans, I tend to agree with C Jones (3) that “there are also many important differences that shouldn’t be ignored.”
All this, of course, does not diminish your heartfelt plea for what we need to do.
It is a luxury to be prepared. But even the poorest in America have access to resources that the poor in other parts of the world can only dream of. When we talk of the wealth of the United States, it includes making sure all are prepared because we should have the resources to do so. It’s not something that poorer people can necessarily do on an individual level. Government or churches or other groups need to teach people how to do it in many cases and/or provide the necessary resources. I do blame the government on every level for not being prepared and not educating people. But yelling at Mayor Nagin or President Bush right now doesn’t do much good.
Sure, things would have been better if almost everyone, as seems reasonable, along a coast prone to hurricanes had a bit of extra food on hand. But I’m not blaming the victims It’s just a simple statement that things could have gone much better if there had been individual preparation too.
I agree with Wilfried. When FEMA workers, whose very occupation is to help (and who continue to help at this moment), explained that a lot of people could have and should have evacuated earlier, I do not think they were simply playing a blame game. I think the general public has much to learn from this experience, and I think it would be wrong of us to ignore it.
Wilfried (and others who express similar ideas),
It may be that blogging is too crude of a tool to convey nuances, both mine and those of the people that I criticize in this post. It is obvious that we should look to this situation to identify what went wrong and how to avoid it in the future.
At the same time, comments that were perhaps intended to convey something along the lines of ‘I am going to help these victims and a lot of this tragedy could have been avoided if we had done X, so we should be sure to do X in the future. . .’ don’t mention the helping part (which may be a good instinct to not trumpet one’s charity) but often come off sounding as if they are blaming the victims (“if only they had done X they wouldn’t be in this mess!”).
Further, armchair quarterbacking (“If they had 72 hour kits . . .”) can often lead others to a lack of compassion (“Why should I go out of my way to help people who weren’t prepared?”), even if the original speaker is plenty compassionate.
While, obviously, Nauvoo and New Orleans aren’t identical situations, it was my hope that some readers who can’t see themselves in the faces of poor black refugees might be able to see themselves in the faces of poor LDS refugees, and be moved to respond to their plight.
I went to New Orleans three times last year for major family events (wedding, Catholic baptism, wedding shower). With a slight turn of events, my only sibling and his family could have lost their lives and they have probably lost all of their possessions. At the same time, my brother’s family (and a friend with no family who came with them) has been basically fine through this. Why? Because they have a car, because they have credit cards for gas and food, because a few lost days of work wouldn’t mean being evicted, because they have extended family with resources in the next state, etc. There in the Superdome–but for the accidents of birth, race, class–goes my own flesh and blood.
So perhaps this makes me a little emotional. But I do not want to let comments that convey blaming the victim–even if they are well-intentioned and not malicious–go unchallenged.
Agreed, Julie. Well nuanced and well said.
Good point. Well taken. Hopefully _everyone_ will stop pointing fingers and start helping. Frankly, those that started the blaming have only made it harder for those trying to help to do their job; now distracted by the need for spin control also.
Julie, thank you so much for your post, and, as always, for your sensible compassion. I’ve been unable to read most of the blogs regarding Katrina, because they upset me too much, but I’ve also had to turn the t.v. off at a certain point for the same reasons.
For me, I’ve found that a way to navigate situations in which tricky questions of compassion and need are discussed is to be a “reverse hypocrite.” I feel like I should hold myself to a higher standard than I hold others. I know that there are lessons to be learned, but I feel like I should apply them to myself. Yes, I am re-evaluating my own emergency preparedness, and frankly, my own spiritual preparedness and finding shortcomings. That’s something I’ll have to work on. However, others get the benefit of the doubt, and the help I can manage to give. That seems to be the King Benjamin approved route. I know that there are problems with this philosophy, and I don’t always manage to carry through, but it’s what I’m working for because ultimately, I can’t imagine what circumstances brought those people to where they are, and it seems fruitless to speculate.
Nice post, Julie. I’m not sure where the lack of compassion comes from (and the bloggernacle has been mighty tame compared to other message boards and talking heads on tv), but perhaps it’s just an amazing amount of ignorance of how a great many people in this country live.
People seem to be acting like, “Gee, why didn’t they just gas up the 4 Runner, throw some bottled spring water in the back, and cruise out to their vacation cabin in Illinois?” It shows that we have a lot to learn about what poverty really means. When you live paycheck to paycheck, you can’t always fill up the car with gas (assuming you own a car), even when prices aren’t outrageous. If you’ve only lived in the inner-city of New Orleans, you might not be all that anxious to leave the only place you’ve ever known. Where do people go? Perhaps they don’t have relatives spread across the country. Perhaps they can’t afford a hotel room.
There may have been some foolish decisions by some people in the region, but I’m stunned at the attitude displayed by some people.
And going a tad to the political, it doesn’t help that the head of FEMA is a completely unqualified man who was asked to resign his last job. He got the job for being a huge GOP supporter, and for being college buddies with the last FEMA director. Those quick to point blame at the victims in the south, also ought to direct some attention to the government and their failed response.
I want to say publicly that my comment on 72-hour kits was a lighthearted comment intended to highlight a common Mormon theme of emergency preparedness. In fact, as I was writing the comment, I realized that 72-hour kits probably wouldn’t have helped that much in this situation. I sympathize very much with the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and I hope others did not interpret my comment to be callous to their plight. I remember the victims in my daily prayers, and I hope that we all contribute to help them to get back on their feet again.
The best thing about all of these posts is that no one has accused anyone else of poaching ;)
Seriously much of this was the theme of our Gospel Doctrine class today.
Made me think, are we not all beggers?
That is what our local group did. Started by an LDS nurse and my neighbor.
BTW, someone has moved in at http://fowles.blogspot.com/ — it is now a calling card advertisement.
Too bad that blog archive is gone, and replaced with advertiser spam.
In the Spirit World
Book of Mormon Diary
Mormon Blog . Net
The Kolob Network
needs an update, which is too bad.
I honestly don’t remember your comment about 72 hours kits; nothing in my post was directed toward you. I don’t want to point fingers, but several different comments in the Bloggernacle (which may have been good-intentioned) came off as blaming the victim. Several other things that I have heard out of Houston and Dallas have expressed dismay at “these people” (i.e., poor blacks) coming to their cities–possibly to stay. That’s what I was responding to, not you.
Reverse hypocrisy is the best idea I’ve heard all week.
Critizing the victims? Well, maybe there’s been a little of that going on around here, but I can’t imagine that there are very many who are so cold hearted that they would refuse what resources they have to give for the relief of those victims.
What I can’t stand is all the shouting about the “dad blame” government. Y’all (some of you) sound like Huck Finn’s father. The dad blame gov’ment this! The dad blame gov’ment that!
The FEMA has stated in no uncertain terms that it is important for everyone–so far as it is possible–to have a 72hr emergency kit. Not so we’d have a good reason to turn the blame those who don’t when distaster strikes (sheesh), but because the FEMA knows it will probably take 2 or 3 days before they can really be effective in their relief efforts–especially on such a grand scale as seen in recent events.
That said, Julie is right that we have some learning to do as to what conditions are really like among the poor–though I think there are some around here who do have first hand experience. But, good gracious, let’s be a little grateful. Can you imagine the loss such a disaster would have would have inflicted a hundred years ago? It’s unthinkable.
What bothers me the most is the media’s obvious glee over the “slow to react” federal government, and their complete lack of respect for our President. Anytime they can nitpick President Bush, they will. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Our church services today were filled with an outpouring of care, concern, and a resolve to sacrifice whatever we can to alleviate the suffering. That to me is what we should be seeing in the media coverage, not constant criticism
I taught a lesson in a combined High Priest/Elder’s Quorum meeting on what was supposed to be a “fire and brimstone” message on home teaching. It evolved into a lesson on being a committed disciple of Jesus Christ. We read from Mosaih 18, and when we got to the “every needy, naked soul” part, I just about lost it, and poured out my heart to encourage the brethren to do all they can and them some to relieve the suffering.
John H. –
There will be plenty of blame to spread around. According to the Washington Post:
Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans, a source within the state’s emergency operations center said Saturday.
The administration sought unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. Some officials in the state suspected a political motive behind the request. . . Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday, three state and federal officials said. As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said.
While I agree some comments about the victims were unthinkingly tactless or at least charitably misguided, I am rather disturbed by your implications that racism is behind it all. Are you so sure that these commentators in the Bloggernacle are all racists at heart?
I agree wholeheartedly with the message that we shouldn’t criticize the victims of the hurricane, and do everything we can to help.
But I also think we shouldn’t blow a few offhand remarks out of proportion or take them out of context.
It wasn’t my contention that racism is behind it. (At least, not the bloggernacle comments. I think it is behind some of what I am hearing out of Houston and Dallas.) I think what stands behind the insensitive bloggernacle comments (which, again, seem to usually be well-intentioned) is the belief that Us Prepared and Organized Mormons would never ended up in such a desperate situation. I think the comments would have been about the same regardless of what color the Gentiles involved were.
Also, in your WP quote, is that midnight Friday before the hurricane hit or midnight Friday two days ago?
Anyone who has not been to the Astrodome or Superdome with the refugees really has no standing to comment. I have been to the Astrodome twice in the last few days. Words fail. The stench, the grief, the disease, the death. It is very horrendous and heart wrenching. Perhaps the only thing more staggering is the lack of response from the refugees in the relief process. “Response from the refugees?!”, you ask with indignation. “What response would you expect from someone who has lost everything?!”
I’ll tell you. I expect those in need, the able-bodied ones, of course, which a majority are, to help pull themselves out of the mire. Nothing is harder to lift than dead weight that is living. I expect folks to pick up their own trash and not strew it on the floor of the Astrodome. I expect basic rules of law and order to be followed. I expect those who have lost all to have an interest in rebuilding instead of waiting for things to be built around them. I expect race to not matter.
Julie, your comparison to the early saints fails for several reasons. The most basic reason why it fails is because persecution and procrastination are antithetical principles.
Understood – as I reread your comments I can see the distinction being made.
As for the WaPo article, from the context of the article (which doesn’t give dates, but talks about the Wednesday after the Friday under discussion) I think the Friday being referred to is Friday before the Hurricane hit. The rest of the article seems to confirm that supposition.
Ivan, here’s the correction that the Washington Post ran: “A Sept. 4 article on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina incorrectly said that Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) had not declared a state of emergency. She declared an emergency on Aug. 26.”
bottom line pack your 72hr kits / FEMA is slow as demonstrated this week / local govt is incompetent as demonstrated this week (e.g. 100s of unused N.O. buses) / never know when you’re next
Jonathan Green –
Thanks for the heads up on the correction, though it doesn’t invalidate the main point of the excerpt (that the Bush admin. was slowed in getting relief efforts going by the distrust of the NO gov’t) . However, I don’t want to blame the Governor, the Mayor or the President. I was just trying to show that there’s enough blame in the air choke most people. We need to help the victims. Cheap poltical shots (such as John H.’s above) should wait until it’s all over.
No criticism for the poor souls of the Gulf Coast who are suffering but I’ll have a ton of criticism for the active members who don’t have a 72 hour kit, don’t have food, water and resouces stored in their homes and don’t have any family emergency plan. How many tragedies do we have to witness before the counsel of the prophets sinks in?
No, Ivan, the time has definitely come for cheap political shots. I am ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with John H. and cast cheap shots in all directions with no regard for innocent bystanders. The biggest cookie jar in the nation just got smashed live on TV, and there are familiar fingerprints all over the pieces. The stories of the living and the dead in New Orleans fill me with sorrow or anger, but when I consider all the fat targets for blame–bad policies, skewed priorities, or incompetent politicians–I can hardly suppress the maniacal cackling. In the world of cheap political shots, we have entered a new and target-rich environment. It’s been a long time coming.
Fortunately, T&S is a better place than that, and there are better issues that we can all discuss responsibly, like how to help the victims, and how to prepare our families or wards for the next disaster, or how grateful I am that nothing like Katrina ever hit us while we were living on the southeast Atlantic coastline. But political unity? That’s, like, so 2002.
Julie, thanks for giving voice to this. It breaks my heart too. I had to quit reading. I wonder if the remoteness of the culture is part of the reason. Maybe because it’s so close to us here, both in terms of many friends and family connections, more frequently having visited the area, or feeling more at home with or connected to the local culture, the people around here (Alabama) seem mostly to have just grieved and tried to help. I don’t know.
We sent a truckload of the Priesthood from my ward into the devastation with supplies and tools to begin cleaning up. Haven’t had the full report yet but from what I’ve heard it was quite an experience.
Part of the lack of compassion quite likely comes from the frustration people feel at being unable to help. I can understand that reaction, and yet it still makes me very sad. It tends to erode my faith in Zion, though I know it shouldn’t, and I refuse to let it.
While I think the head of both FEMA and Homeland Security ought be immediately fired after a public castigation, I also think the load of the blame rests on the local level. Reports are coming out that as many as 2/3 of the New Orleans police went awol this last week. 2/3! The Governor is in charge of the National Guard and has been nearly criminally incompetent (which is why the Feds are trying to take over) Neither the State nor City planners planed for the poor. Which points to the some of the amazingly class structures in Louisiana.
FEMA is incompetent, yes. (Sending equipment for a chemical weapons attack by some accounts) But Federal planners always have said that it would be at least 3 days for Federal folks to arrive.
I should add that it sounds like the bureaucracy of FEMA isn’t only to blame. It sounds like the Red Cross has been struggling with bureaucratic hurdles as well. But the main blame rests with the State and the City. The way the poor have been neglected by the city is simply astounding. The way there was no planning so people could even know what the chain of command should be is amazing.
Just to add, one perhaps ought compare Mississippi to Louisiana. Mississippi which has gotten precious little of the press even though it was hit harder. Here’s great comparison I was reading today.
Julie, excellent posting. I agree that King Benjamin’s should be our response. He didn’t say to help beggars only if they already had done all they could and you’d made sure they weren’t scamming. Some members in our Gospel Doctine class complained about an old lady who was begging at the neighborhood gas station wasn’t really homeless. Two weeks later, they were answered when that lady’s shopping cart was at the station, filled with flowers and candles, a notice of her death and memorial service attached. The notice told how long she’d been homeless.
Without trying to divine which roadside beggars are faking their situation, the stress of possibly slighting a “genuine” case is avoided — just help every one you can.
I like the sentiment shared by Pres. Monson recently in Conference. “I’ve wept in the night / for the shortness of sight / that to somebody’s need made me blind./ But, I never have yet / felt a twinge of regret / for being a little too kind.”
He also gave a simple formula in Oct., ’04 Conference that writers here generally follow:
* Fill your minds with truth.
* Fill your hearts with love.
* Fill your lives with service.
I’m heartsick at the poor response to the survivor’s needs and the tragedies that are occuring:
* The broadcast interview with a doctor who’d just left Mercy hospital in Baton Rouge. The hospital was down to one doctor and three nurses. No electricity, food, water, medication, or transportionf for the bed-ridden patients. The doctor and nursed had just walked out and he was explaining how it felt to leave 300 patients to die.
In the Superdome:
* The man who scuffled with a National Guardsman, took his weapon, and shot him dead.
* The man who raped and killed a seven-year-old girl.
* The ten other men who beat to death that rapist.
What times are these?
that’s my understanding as well – that most of the problems can be blamed by the local politicians – but I feel I should withhold judgement until later. However, I”m sickened by those who see this as nothing more than one more chance to rant about how much they hate Bush and how all that is bad in America is his fault (not saying anyone on this board is doing that, but it is happening all over the net).
“Cheap poltical shots (such as John H.’s above) should wait until it’s all over.”
Ivan, I understand where you’re coming from, but I disagree. If we wait until it’s all over, then people’s outrage will have subsided. Congressional hearings will be covered in the back of the paper, not page one. Change happens when people demand it.
No one is trying to take a “cheap political shot.” I’ll happily lay just as much of the blame on local leaders. But the reality is (which you have entirely failed to respond to beyond crying dirty pool) that the President of the United States appointed a man who had no qualifications whatsoever, most likely because of his support of the GOP. If people can be upset about that, then such actions can be discouraged for the future, regardless of the political party.
Finally, I think lamenting that “now is not the time” and claiming we need to wait until it’s all over, is just as political a statement as those who are critical of government and the federal and local leadership – again, which crosses political party lines.
John H. –
To me, It’s the same principle as speaking ill of the dead – fine criticize someone who is dead – but wait until at least a few days after their death. When Ronald Reagan died, I was rather sickened by those who couldn’t wait even a day to start the vilification (same with when Derrida died or Arthur Miller).
There will be plenty of time in a half a week or so to start venting the hatred of W. Too bad there were those who seemed to care more about attacking Bush than helping those in need.
Julie- I agree. Yesterday at church (in the ward I was visiting) some guy got up during testimony and spent 30 minutes preaching about how the people left in New Orleans are there because they “did not obey their leaders” and how they should have “obeyed their leaders.” He was trying to make it into an analogy for how we need to “obey our leaders.” How there was any testimony in that, I do not know, but it sounded particularly sanctimonious, harsh, and un-Christlike.
Stephen- I deleted fowles.blogspot.com a while ago, so some other entity must have claimed it.
One thing I do worry about John is that a lot that has come out is rumors. A lot doesn’t pan out. In particular the “battles” between FEMA and local authorities is a big question. Thus far I’m not impressed with FEMA. But recent information has come out that suggests there may have been more method in their madness. Apparently when they war gamed this last year, the after effect was Al Queda launching attacks. Yeah it sounds a little silly. But that might explain some of the actions of FEMA. Also apparently local authorities were locking out FEMA from communication channels. (Local authorities say FEMA was screwing up their communications and put guards to ensure FEMA couldn’t access channels – not exactly inspiring)
I’m sure there will be hearings on all this. But I have to confess that some of my initial opinions have tempered somewhat as the extent of local incompetence and corruption has become more known. Even after living there it is shocking. I knew how bad the NO police was. But who thought 2/3 would abandon their posts?
RE the police abandoning their posts — The same thing happened during the L.A. riots. They new the situation was going to be way beyond their power to control it. Now maybe there’s not a perfect analogue between the two incidents, but I do think there’s some crossover. When the National Guard rolled into L.A. that was pretty-much the end of the more severe cases of looting and violence–though it took them a few days to get it under control. But even so, though the response was quicker in L.A.(one of the big reasons being there wasn’t a natural distaster to contend with!) there was still plenty of time for those of the same lawless disposition to cause a lot of destruction. I remember being able to see several plumes of smoke from where we were staying during the riots. (we stayed with my inlaws for a few days as they lived farther away from the affected areas than we did–there being only about half a mile from our home to the nearest mall which was being ransacked)
Yeah there’s corruption, but (imo) it’s a miracle that out of a population ranging upwards to a million that so few have perished–not to lessen the suffering of those who have lost loved ones and/or property.
It seems that remoteness and unfamiliarity with similar situations breeds the lack of compassion that is seen. The attitude I’ve experienced in southern Utah is rather hipocritical: those who built homes in the flood zone of the Santa Clara River deserve our compassion, but those who didn’t get out of New Orleans don’t. Additionally, because the Church teaches self-sufficiency and we like to see ourselves as being “prepared,” we unfortunately have impatience for those who don’t have the teachings or the means whereby to avoid being in the situation thay many find themselves in. Ultimately, I must hold myself to a much more rigorous standard than I hold anyone else as far as living the gospel and I must strive to be as understanding and patient with others’ poor choices as a loving Heavenly Father is with mine. Then compassion can flow. Then charity is realized. Until then we will never be a Zion people, within the Church or without.
What bothers me about the compassion is that many of those you saw were in government housing. The poorest of the poor. While there are a lot of very valid criticisms of how the extreme poor are handled in America, as well as the self-sustaining social problems in such communities, the fact is that most were put there by the government and were living in government housing. Something to keep in mind.
The ones most guilty of building where they shouldn’t weren’t the refugees. They were people who’d largely had the means to flee. But I seriously think restrictions on where people build need to be enforced in the region. Also the way the Mississippi is diverted and controlled needs to be rethought.
The fact is that a direct hit by a Cat 4 hurricane or worse a Cat 5 would overwhelm pretty much any man made system. And such an event isn’t just a possibility but an inevitability. If the city is rebuilt, that must be kept in mind.
Does anyone think that Mayor Nagin is partially or largely to blame for much of the results that we are seeing? Sure, he has lots of criticism for the federal government, but wouldn’t he have been responsible for evacuating the city when he could see a category 4 hurricane bearing down on it rather than blandly “warning” people to leave? Isn’t it true that the city of New Orleans and the Army Corps of Engineers have been fighting for a long time about who is responsible for the levees, with the city of New Orleans insisting that they, and not the federal government, are in charge of their upkeep and protection? Interesting that the city would steadily make that argument until the levees fail and the city floods, at which time Mayor Nagin cusses out the federal government and calls the nation racist because those trapped in a city flooded by failed levees were not rescued 24 hours after the water started rising. Where is the understanding for the lapse of time that inevitably results from a bureaucratic reaction to anything. Three days seems like a pretty normal time frame for a federal agency to get into full swing to react to a sudden occurence, doesn’t it–especially in a federal system where the primary responsibility and excercise of the policy power resides in the states, and at the local level. The charges of racism are an example of political opportunism.
Let’s help the victims without saying that we are all racists because they became victims. If we turn this into an opportunity to slam politicians we hate in the federal government, let’s not be so unobjective that we overlook Mayor Nagin’s and Governor Blanco’s failures of leadership.
That should be “police power” and not “policy power”
John, I fully agree. However at the same time there were some *huge* failures by FEMA and Homeland Security. Further I’m distressed by reports about some of Bush’s photo-ops being largely fake acts of service. I also think that questions about who is doing what needs to be sorted out. While clearly the Governor bears the main blame, I’m not at all convinced but what the Federal Government has some huge failures.
Nothing I said implied that FEMA couldn’t have responded better–but I highly doubt that racism had anything at all to do with a slow response.
If FEMA and Homeland Security need to be a subject of congressional hearings and investigation, then so does Mayor Nagin, any loud deflections of responsibility on his part to the contrary notwithstanding.
Agreed. What makes me nervous is the “it’s all Bush’s fault” (often trying to tie it to Iraq) or the “it’s all Nagin’s fault.” I think the local authorities deserver the brunt of the blame for having no planning. But the Bush administration, by his own admission, had many failures as well. I’d welcome hearings. I also suspect Republicans will unfortunately pay a political price come the mid term elections. On the other hand the Mississippi governor is in excellent shape to run for President. (Although I personally would prefer Condi run)
Wow! The governement, our ever protective nanny, is supposed to be ready to fix every problem the instant it occurs. Golly, why can’t the government just prevent it from happening in the first place?
There were plenty of mistakes. Why wouldn’t there be? How many times have American cities the size of New Orleans been underwater? You mean thaty didn’t run twenty simulations of the emergency response plan? Shame on them! I live in Texas and used to travel to Lousiana. French America is the most corrupt part of our country. You can’t mix a force 5 storm and that level of corruption and expect anything good to happen. The police all ran away!
It’s interesting that the local newspapers here in my part of Texas have interviews with poor New Orleaner evacuees who claim that this was God’s judgement on their wicked city. Go figure…
Our bishop yesterday addressed the situation from the pulpit, as he was handing out a survey from the SP asking how many evacuees we could house “for a month or two”. Someone asked a question from the congregation as to whether these people “were people who obeyed the order or not.” Our bishop’s comment was, and I’m paraphrasing, that it didn’t make any difference to us or not, that too many of us in the Church would have seen the storm coming and heard the warnings to leave and would have said, “gee, looks like we’re in for a spot of weather.”
I look at the way New Orleans has apparently been run, and I look at the ways Dallas and Ft. Worth are run, and I shudder, and I think, we’d better never have a bad tornado that goes right through downtown and wipes out a city.
You mean thaty didn’t run twenty simulations of the emergency response plan?
That’s the thing, TV: meteorologists and other experts had run simulations like that–had, in fact, anticipated a scenario eerily like the one that came to pass. They had also asked, repeatedly, for funds to pre-mitigate such a disaster. Unfortunately, the current administration repeatedly gutted budget requests for such things as levee repair because after FEMA was absorbed by DHS funds previously dedicated to disaster preparedness increasingly went to anti-terrorism efforts. Also, it didn’t help that FEMA was being run not by a disaster management expert, but by a lawyer with literally no disaster response experience (he had been fired from his previous job as a compliance guy for horse shows), who had inherited the job from his college buddy, who had taken the FEMA helm solely because he had done such a good job as a campaign op. for Bush in Texas. In short, the guy in charge of the agency whose stated purpose is to be the country’s “protective nanny,” as you call it, was a second-generation know-nothing yuk who had no business running such an important organization.
Sorry if I sound strident, but: if I’ve done everything I can do within the limitations of my budget and my geographic location, the only thing left for me to do is to voice outrage at the systemic problems that contributed to this horrible mess. I disagree profoundly with those who say “the time for pointing fingers is not now, but after the smoke has cleared.” No. If there’s nothing else to do, the time is now, while the outrage retains that fresh edge that compels to action.
I think there’s a scriptural precedent for this. The D&C counsels to “reprove betimes with sharpness” when necessary. Contrary to popular belief, “betimes” doesn’t mean “occasionally.” It means “in good time; before it is too late.”
Save your outrage for the mayor of New Orleans– a corrupt little rascal. How many billions should we have spent to get ready for this storm and the major earthquakes in California and the major earthquake in Utah, and the comet that will New York, and the tidal wave that wipes out Hawaii. They have all been simulated too. Big deal. No other country in the world could or would mount the relief efforts that we are mounting as successfully as we are doing. Its a tragedy but finger pointing isn’t going to get us there. Sorry for my sharp reproof…
It’s cold comfort to compare ourselves to other countries, don’t you think?
A quick survey of the web will show you that the NO hurricane scenario was predicted (not just speculatively, like, say, a comet hitting New York) and botched, horribly, by FEMA.
Its a tragedy but finger pointing isn’t going to get us there.
Wrong. If finger pointing, right now, when the iron’s hot, gets Mike Brown fired as head of FEMA and initiates some top-down reform in that organization, we’ll be in much better shape for the next disaster. No one’s complaints are hampering efforts, just making people look bad; the only only ones to benefit from the supression of outrage are those who deserve it and don’t want to face it.
It’s funny, even the local republicans in the gulf were outraged at Bush and FEMA until the GOP talking points went out redirecting the rage towards (democratic) state and local officials.
I think it undeniable that Bush screwed up royally on this one. There’s plenty of blame to go around, with most at the State and local levels. But FEMA was totally misrun and Bush is completely responsible for who was appointed. Likewise both Bush and the head of HS demonstrated that they weren’t paying close attention to events, even while the tragedy was underway. That’s just criminal. And I say that as a Bush supporter. I’m sickened by how Democrats are gleefully using this to make hay on important issues like Iraq. But the fact is that Bush screwed up and screwed up royally.
Regardless of how the political chips fall, I really don’t think “glee” is a fair reading. PO’d, and anxious for change; perhaps even a sense of validation (I’ve long been bothered by the type of cronyism that put such a dolt in charge of FEMA). But I would not call what I, as a democrat, feel as anything like unto “glee.”
Jeremy, maybe I’m just cursed to actually read Liberal Blogs. But it’s hard to take the comments at places like The Daily Kos as anything more than glee.
BTW – I agree with your comment on cronyism. I’m given Bush a lot of benefit of doubt. But this combined with a lot of other issues (such as his lack of any fiscal conservativism) makes me quite angry. Sadly I suspect this will be reflected in the midterm elections. Which is sad, as I personally think the leading Democrats are far worse than Bush, as bad as he is. . .
But that’s a political discussion probably inappropriate for here.
I’m an engineer by training, and one of the lessons you learn very quickly, is that you learn a lot more from failure than success. It may seem harsh but we need to learn from the failure of some people in the gulf coast to plan. This certainly includes discovering and pointing out the failures. It may seem like undo harsh to criticize those who failed to plan, but don’t let this stop you from learning from their failures. By all means prepare a 72-hour kit, stockpile a year supply of food, create escape plans, discuss scenarios with your family, do your best to keep your own fate your own hands, and not in the hands of the government.
There is no glee in the comments on dKos. Thousands of people dying unnecessarily, and hundreds of thousands more suffering, is not an occasion for glee. Do you really think that liberals are so callous? Think about it. This started with an excellent lesson on the need for understanding and compassion towards the worst-off victims of the hurricane. How about a little understanding for the other side of the political divide? To say that their comments are not “anything more than glee” means there literally is nothing in them of value. No real grief. No righteous anger. Just a show. Just politics. As if old people, mothers and children abandoned without food, water, sanitation, or protection is just politics. When you deny the righteous anger over their suffering, you deny their suffering.
There is glee in the comments on Kos and other places (Finally! That ******* Bush is gonna get in trouble!!!!) I don’t see much “righteous anger” over the plight of the refugees, I see a lot of political hatred aimed at the President.
As for the budgets for the leevee repairs that Bush gutted – hmm, interesting that according to the army corps of Engineers, even if those budgets hadn’t been gutted, the actual work on the leevees wouldn’t have started until 2008.
But hey – if ya hate Bush, go ahead and blame him for everything.
Talk about 72 hour bags and stockpiling food is all very well, but those who think this is something anyone can do has no real concept of what being poor actually means. I suspect a lot of the callousness we’re seeing towards the victims stems from such ignorance. Ingnorance, however, is easy to cure for those who don’t prefer to remain ignorant. A true and accurate listing of actual examples of what it means to be poor can be found at:
Those of you who have ever experienced true poverty will recognize its truth. For those of you who haven’t it will probably read like a despatch from another planet. It isn’t, though. It’s from this one, and describes conditions that hundreds of thousands of your fellow citizens have to deal with every single day of their lives.
Those of us who dislike Bush may see political vulnerability in his failure on this front. And politically it would be senseless for the DNC to not draw attention to that failure (can you imagine the mud that would be flying if Rove batted for the other team?!). However, that does not mean that anger towards Bush precludes compassion towards the victims; indeed, the righteous indignation on the part of reporters on the ground is probably responsible in some part for the outpouring of assistance on the part of the American public. Likewise, isn’t a little disingenuous for the administration to be caught napping on the job and then try to deflect criticism by playing the “partisanship” card? “Let’s not point fingers” is always an attractive argument when you’re the one being pointed at.
If you dont’ see “righteous anger” about this you’re not looking very hard.
I think that its ok to be a Mormon who disagrees with George Bush. I think its ok to be a Mormon who voted against George Bush. But I don’t trust the Mormonism for one minute of anyone who hates George Bush.
Why? Because we’re not supposed to hate anybody? That’s a stupid statement. My neighbor down the street hates him because two of her sons are fighting in Iraq and she’s a strong Mormon. Mormons are human beings and human beings hate. So what if we’re not supposed to? That’s what being human is all about.
The news are/is full of stories about who’s to blame. Who cares? Why can’t we say this happened, this should have happened, next time we’ll do better. How productive is it to have a scapegoat?
Here are some great thoughts on the subject by Orson Scott Card:
Poor lady who’s sons are fighting in Iraq.
Were they drafted? Sorry my statement stands. If she hates George Bush I don’t trust her Mormonism no matter how fervent its manifestation.
But I don’t trust the Mormonism for one minute of anyone who hates George Bush.
I suppose it depends on what exactly you mean by “hate,” and how specific your distrust is of hate directed towards George Bush in particular. Do mean “hate towards the standing President of the United States?” If so, I bet a straw poll in the mid-1990s of any ward I’ve ever lived in would turn up a majority of self-described Clinton-“haters”.
At any rate, I’ll count myself lucky that you don’t write the temple recommend questions…
Poor lady whose sons are fighting in Iraq. How many kids you got over there and if you are dismissing her, I will come to your house and kick your behind in twenty-five different ways, you creep.
Is it just people who hate George Bush whose religion you distrust or is it people who hate? Because that would pretty much eliminate every Mormon. Who hasn’t felt hatred? And why is George Bush so sacred?
Although I personally like him. But I will defend to the death anybody’s right to hate him. Bring it on, hon, I could so beat you up right now.
Statement stands: If you can find me come and kick my butt. Its safe. I don’t kick back. Work your hate out on me.
Thanks for the OSC link. It’s nice to hear a voice of reason.
There is another compelling reason to keep the political pressure on during times like these, one that hasn’t come up yet: if rendered opaque by the decorum of “not pointing fingers,” etc. (or by the far worse anti-decorum of blaming the victims!), the allocation of billions of dollars of aid money would inevitably become a corrupt enterprise.
Face it, whether or not you supported the Iraq effort, it’s hard to argue that reconstruction contracts were all carried out above-board; the same agencies that entered into suspect arrangements in Iraq are the ones lining up at the trough now. (The White House is working already to set up a no-bid contracting process for NOLA reconstruction.)
Former horse-show organizer and current FEMA director Mike Brown has already been involved in suspicious aid money distribution in Florida after hurricane Frances. And Mike Brown’s predecessor at FEMA (and his former college buddy), Joe Allbaugh, left FEMA to become a lobbyist specializing in securing Iraq reconstruction contracts.
So, after doing what one can to alleviate the immediate suffering of victims, it seems to me in the civic interest to keep a close (and even suspicious) eye on those in charge of the rebuilding effort. Since those people trying to escape “finger pointing” for their alleged lack of action before and during the disaster are the same people in a position to benefit or peddle pork from the reconstruction afterwards, I think it’s only appropriate to eye them with suspicion.
I sure as he[ck] don’t think that Bush should get off scot free – there should be reprecussions for him and his administration. But anger at the administration has reached epically absurd levels, especially since it too often ignores the corrupt ineptitude of the Democratic regime in Lousiana and New Orleans.
Unless we think only Republicans should carry the blame for bad things that happen, which is what commentators on Kos (and other places) seems to think.
I haven’t agreed with much of what texasviolinist has said, but that OSC essay should be required reading.
It’s clear now that the federal response to local forces’ requests when they became overwhelmed was slow (half the country was better informed than Chertoff was?!). I’m sure there is local blame to go around, and I’m sure it’ll get around, regardless of where the bloggers direct their ire. On the other hand, if our criticism is to be somehow constructive and premitigative with an eye to the next disaster for the country as a whole, it makes sense to take a hard look at the problems on the federal level, and it so happens that the people in charge on the federal level are republicans. I haven’t entrusted Ray Nagin with my safety, and I don’t pay his salary with my tax dollars.
I have no problem with constructive criticism aimed at preventing or at least alleviating the next disaster.
But most of the rhetoric used isn’t aimed at that – it’s aimed at doing political damage to Bush (or whoever is the target of their vengeful wrath). There’s a world of difference between the two. And I think that’s all I have to say on the subject. Work calls!
it’s aimed at doing political damage to Bush
Like I said before, if the admin made a mistake, drawing attention to it can be constructive while at the same time carrying political leverage. In fact, that’s the best kind of politics: when the scoring of “political” points center on actual actions, events, and policy (rather than media, talking points messaging, and image).
And there are many of us who are of the opinion that political damage to Bush is inherently constructive, because we think his policies have hurt this country. Isn’t it a good thing to use actual mistakes made as the basis for ones politica criticisms?
That, my friends, is my demonstration on how not to elevate a discussion. Sorry.
The essay by Orson Scott Card was right on.
CNN says 100 times a day that Bush and the feds have failed miserably and simultaneously asks, “shouldn’t troops that are in Iraq be here helping repair the levees, save everyone from their attics (including those who still refuse to leave right now when money and transportation, etc., isn’t an issue at all), and transport tens of thousands of people away from the place that the state and local governments designated as their place of refuge, namely the Superdome?” This despite the fact that the bureaucratic response time would likely have been exactly the same if not a single troop were in Iraq and despite the fact that even a half-awake observer can tell that Iraq is a complete red herring here. Those who are dragging it in are being blatantly dishonest and are engaging in repugnant political opportunism: building an anti-Iraq-war campaign on the rotting corpses of the unfortunate victims, black and white–for Hurricane Katrina was certifiably colorblind–is truly shameful.
Jeremy and TomB, of course, you are right, there is no glee that a natural disaster has presented a perfect opportunity to blame Bush-Hitler for all the deaths. After all, notwithstanding the fact that the federal government is a massive bureaucracy which naturally takes days to mobilize into a completely destroyed region, Bush-Hitler should have had helicopters dropping sandwiches on the Superdome within 12 hours of the last windgust of the hurricane (this despite the fact of our federal system of government, in which the state and local authorities are responsible for police power and welfare issues). No glee, just perfectly justifiable outrage that Bush-Hitler happened to be on vacation when the Hurricane struck and that he didn’t immediately leave his vacation after that last windgust because, after all, Clinton left his vacations early immediately after every Hurricane just in case something unforeseeable, such as, e.g., levees (which New Orleans had argued that it was in charge of maintaining and readying for such storms), happened so that he could, personally, begin helping to make those sandwiches.
Of course, Mayor Nagin is completely a victim here. On NPR this morning, after all, that objective source of news was asking how the federal response (because the federal government is primarily responsible for cleaning up local disasters) could have taken three days when they saw the storm coming four days in advance. The feds could see it coming but Mayor Nagin couldn’t, at least that is how it appears from the media coverage. Mayor Nagin is one lucky person. Because he shouted early and loud, and because of his politics, undoubtedly, the media is not asking any questions about the apparent complete lack of any local plan for the very easily foreseeable disaster of a breach of levees in a city twenty feet below sea level at some points.
The mayor of New Orleans should be bearing the brunt of criticism here, not the feds. But, amazingly, he is not, and neither is the state’s democratic governor. Interesting case study, is it not? Mayor Nagin, like the feds, also had four days advance warning of the storm. Apparently he, like the feds, figured it would be just like any other run-of-the-mill hurricane that at worst makes the power go out for a week. If this was his assumption, then how can the feds be criticized for making the same assumption? Mayor Nagin should have:
(1) taken responsibility to make sure that the levees were in good repair so that they did not breach (that, and not the hurricane itself, is what caused the gravity of this problem);
(2) evacuated all those who stayed because they ostensibly couldn’t afford to leave. What prevented Nagin from getting all those people on buses and transporting them out in advance of the storm? Problably the same thing that prevented the feds from gearing up to drop sandwiches on the Superdome before the actual results of the storm became apparent.
(3) put in place a reliable disaster response plan for the contingency that the city be inundated with twenty feet of water.
He apparently did none of these, but the press, the blogs, and Sean Penn aren’t mad at him, they are mad at Bush-Hitler because there are troops (who belong to a mercenary and not a draft army) in Iraq fighting his pet war who should have been occupying New Orleans within 24 hours of the levee breaches, rather than giving democracy to a people who are entirely ungrateful for it (if the press coverage of Iraq is to be believed).
Orson Scott Card wrote:
This is a good example of political spin-control, letting the president off the hook by demonizing anyone who questions him. How would you like to be called a “jackal”? Not very much, I would expect. As for the main point, that is not borne out by history. Bush was widely praised when he proposed funding to fight AIDS in Africa. I could give other examples.
It’s very tempting to believe that your leader, the person you’ve chosen to support, is blameless. From that, it follows naturally that anyone who criticizes him must be doing so for base motives of political gain, or gleeful joy in the destruction. There can’t be any validity to their charges. The idea that they are normal decent Americans who are simply horrified by the tragedy, and outraged by the obvious corruption and failures of leadership, well I can understand why you can’t go there. Just keep in mind that by doing so, you have fallen off a moral cliff, and need to climb back.
TomB, what of Nagin’s negligence and incompetence? Why are Bush-Hitler and the feds the first line of criticism from you and there is no blame laid on Nagin and Blanco for their lack of plan or decisive action when the need arose. What of the famous school bus example? If Pruden in the Washington Times is to be believed, then Nagin kept approx 2000 school buses locked up in neat rows when there was still time to bus the displaced in the Superdome and Convention Center to more accessible ground. Instead, they now sit, ruined, in four feet of water, unused, while Nagin screams profanity at the feds on national radio.
I think every single finger pointer is correct; I also think most finger pointers are using this finger-pointing opportunity to advance their favorite political/social causes and/or may be hampering the search and rescue efforts by requiring their victims to expend energy on spin control.
How can all the finger-pointers be correct? Because this disaster could have been stopped/reduced at several points, so if any one person had stepped up, the results would have been different:
*If* Mayor Nagin had followed NOLA’s evacuation plan and called out the busses for those w/o transportation, the death toll would have been reduced. So go ahead and blame him.
*If* FEMA had not overemphasized terrorism, if the Army C. of E. had built better levees, etc., this wouldn’t have happened. So blame the Feds, including Bush.
*If* NOLA hadn’t destroyed most of its marshland, when 4 miles of marsh will cut a storm surge in half, this wouldn’t have happened. So blame the local developers or the local, state, and feds for not stopping them (depending on your view of who should be responsible for this sort of thing).
*If* individuals who were capable (not sick, not too poor, not elderly, not mentally ill) had been better prepared, this wouldn’t have happened. So blame them.
There’s probably about 10 others points at which the damage here could have been significantly mitigated if not eliminated. So there’s plenty of blame to go around.
This commentary interjects some reasonable counterarguments to the exuberant Bush-Hitler haters. I am not saying that Bush and the feds handled the immediate response immaculately. I am sure that things could have been somewhat more efficient. Hindsight is, after all, 20/20. I am just saying that the lack of emphasis that the mainstream media is putting on the primary responsibility of Nagin and Blanco to plan for, prepare for, and deal with this type of emergency, and their incompetence in doing so is, quite frankly, astounding. The first line of criticism, levied most heavily, should in any reasonable view be aimed at these local failings. The next line of criticism should be directed at whether FEMA can’t be made more efficient in its response to natural disasters that the state and local levels haven’t or can’t handle. The first line of criticism has been altogether missing, especially when Nagin starts yelling at the feds. He should be in hiding, but he has nothing to fear from CNN or Ted Kennedy.
The Iraq War is irrelevant in this discussion; race also is not relevant except to the extent that the hurricane has put the lower income neighborhoods into the spotlight.
john fowles, you are putting many words in my mouth that I wouldn’t say. I am not going to dirty this debate by repeating them.
You have some good points in your very long post, but unfortunately there is a lot else in there where you jump to conclusions that are not supported by the facts, and then there is the angry sarcasm that is not supported by the facts. That is a shame, because I would prefer that the good points not be lost.
I am an engineer, and I believe in finding what is wrong and fixing it. Obviously we will find problems at all levels. Everyone involved should be held responsible. Which brings up the most important point. The ultimately responsible party is we, the people of the United States. What happened in New Orleans is a reflection of the choices, political, economic, and moral, that all of us made. All of us. We could try to push responsibility off onto a small group of designated scapegoats, but that would be wrong. The people responsible for building the levees to handle a category 3 storm and not category 4 or 5, that’s us. We chose to not care. We chose to pretend it wasn’t our problem. That is the attitude that led us to disaster, as surely as night follows day. This should be a moment for sober reexamination, not denial and finger-pointing. We are the wealthiest and most powerful people the Earth has ever seen, and if we want to solve a problem, no matter how hard, we can. All we have to do is decide that solving the problem is more important than wallowing in our self-indulgences, both material and moral, more important than our preconceptions and our prejudices, more important than our hate. We have no excuses. Really, none.
Tom B –
but the New York times editorial page did exactly what OSC said:
the NY Times editorial board in April of 2005:
Anyone who cares about responsible budgeting and the health of America’s rivers and wetlands should pay attention to a bill now before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The bill would shovel $17 billion at the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control and other water-related projects — this at a time when President Bush is asking for major cuts in Medicaid and other important domestic programs. Among these projects is a $2.7 billion boondoggle on the Mississippi River that has twice flunked inspection by the National Academy of Sciences… [snip]
This is a bad piece of legislation.
Lesson: Don’t listen to the NY Times editorial board. (via Don Luskin)
Your caricaturizations and superimpositions serves no good purpose here. Stamping my and others’ arguments as “Bush-Hitler” rhetoric paints our position as categorically sloppy, haphazard, and driven purely by irrational emotion which it is not. Your silly scenarios serve as straw men; there really were feasible plans that really were supposed to be in place and really could have been carried out.
And like I said before, sure, there’s blame to be distributed locally–but it should have been apparent that the locals would be overwhelmed in such a circumstance, and the body whose mission it is to step in under such circumstances, FEMA, dropped the ball badly. FEMA bears the brunt of my rage because it’s FEMA, not the mayor of New Orleans, that will be answering the call if a large-scale disaster strikes in my neighborhood. And Bush, in turn, is the target of my rage because he entrusted FEMA to know-nothing cronies.
Hmmm, let me just put my head above the shouting and say (honestly) that I have heard plenty of criticism of local government in the media. We hear what we want to hear, methinks. OK, back to bed…
The Iraq War is irrelevant in this discussion
Directly, yes. I suspect those who say the problem stemmed from troop shortages are overstating the case.
However, the Iraq war does figure into this discussion in another way. Many of us who have opposed Bush’s strategy in Iraq have done so because we’ve seen it as part of Bush’s general abuse of the “anti-terrorism” card. That same overextension of his post-9/11 political capital led him to gut FEMA by reducing it from a cabinet-level position to the ugly stepsister of the Department of Homeland Security. This reorganization corresponded with massive reallocation of funds: FEMA’s budget was slashed and the money was diverted to often cosmetic and haphazardly implemented anti-terror initiatives. (Just ask the employee of the health department in some rural town the acrobatics they have to perform to use funds earmarked for “anti-terrorism” to buy stuff they actually need to help people).
It is interesting that you bring 9/11 into the equation here. I think it is plausible that the media simply convinced itself that it would never allow Bush to get a boost from another national tragedy and thus has an innate reaction to criticize Bush’s handling of the situation, even if more direct blame belongs elsewhere in our federal system, early and loud in order to prevent that from happening again.
Today’s Washington Times editorial by Pruden suggests that such loud protestations in the media are not working in turning Americans against Bush as a result of this tragedy. My personal view is that the Iraq War is sufficient to do that and Bush opponents don’t need to stoop to political opportunism arising from a hurricane to do the trick. I am serious that this protestation has been very pronounced on CNN, with e.g. Soledad O’Brian attacking FEMA and Bush in every other sentence, especially in interviews with the victims or with rich-actor-turned-beneficial-heroes such as Sean Penn. I mean it is the height of political cynicism and opportunism to ask a survivor in the Superdome on national TV why they think the feds have been slow in coming. I didn’t see any CNN reporters ask people in the Convention Center or Superdome why they think that Nagin didn’t do a better job in preventing this catastrophe or what they think about the fact that he didn’t bus them out while there was a chance with his fleet of buses.
Lesson: Don’t listen to the NY Times editorial board.
No argument there.
Julie said’ “We, unlike the Saints miles away and with little or no communication with “the poor camp,” are in a position to aid God in a modern miracle of the quail. ”
There’s an organization with some pretty good non-political ideas about how to do that. In fact, I’ll bet most of those commenting here already belong to it.
Nagin could have done a better job. Unfortunately, he could not have bused everyone out before the storm hit. That is a fantasy. There weren’t enough buses for that, within the time window available. Also, most of them are light-weight school buses that you don’t want to drive heavily-loaded in a major storm. However, he could have moved the buses to high ground so they would have been available if needed. Remember that very few people died in the storm. The evac and shelter strategy worked. It was the flooding after the storm that killed. That and the lack of evac transport, and the lack of basic assistance. Nagin could have been more clear and decisive in announcing the need to evacuate before the storm. Also, he appeared to be overly involved in the rescue efforts during the flooding. Somebody needed to do it, but he needed to delegate better, because the city needed help in several ways. Overall, I think he didn’t make any really bad decisions, but he was not as prepared as he needed to be.
I have less knowledge of Governor Blanco, but she seems to have been doing the basics, like calling out the Guard ahead of time and getting a disaster declared. I would not be surprised if she could have done more.
I am not going to weigh in on the feds, because they are such an easy target, and it’s been done. However, there is one point that I think people have been missing, in some otherwise good comments:
Disaster preparedness is a core competency in defending our country from terrorist attack. It is not an either-or thing. We need to be hardening our infrastructure so terrorists won’t have easy ways to multiply the damage by say, bombing a levee in New Orleans. We need a much stronger ability to evacuate people out of harm’s way, and to care for those who are injured or stranded in an emergency. We cannot and should not assume that everyone is already ready for disaster. We need to be training local officials, like the much maligned Mayor Nagin, so they know what to do. This is basic leadership. We should be demanding better leadership at all levels, not just at the bottom, and not just at the last place were a disaster happened to hit.
I agree with OSC. They’re Jackals.
When was the last time an entire major city was evacuated in the U.S.? Anyone? Anyone?
I find it absolutely ridiculous that the media carnivores would nash their teeth upon the feds when a precedent for a proper response to such a catastrophe has never been established by experience in modern history.
When was the last time an entire major city was evacuated in the U.S.? Anyone? Anyone?
I see the grin. However, Nauvoo or any comparable city is not a major city by modern standards which (city) would have a population of at least half a million or so.
IMO, regardless of whatever bungling there may have been, no one seems to care about the fact that the evacuation of New Orleans is unprecedented.
Thanks for realizing that I was just joking.
However, there is something of a precedent: NOLA was evacuated last year for hurricane Ivan (I think it was Ivan. . .). Anyway, they got about 1/2 the population out. That should have raised some warning bells in terms of what was possible.
My understanding is that after sitting in traffic FOREVER (the trip took my brother 16ish hours instead of 8ish) and worrying that they’d get to enjoy a cat 4 storm from the safety of a car on a swamp bridge (!), and the fact that Ivan didn’t so much as get one drop of water on NOLA, spending money they didn’t have on hotels, gas, and food, some people who evacuated last time decided not to this time.
Even if someone comes up with another city in modern times, NOLA presents unique challenges: those swamp bridges are the only way out on the west and to go east or north was not to get out of Katrina’s path.
Do you know what ever became of the residents of poor camp? Were they eventually remembered or cared for?
I’ve been thinking – maybe some of the dead in New Orleans were members of our church. If so, they were on somebody’s home teaching or visiting teaching list. Yikes.
I don’t know. Anyone?
Sobering thought about HT/VT.
I think last year’s evacuation was voluntary–a little over 1/3 of the metropolitan area.
Reading some of these posts was quite disheartening and disillusioning. The level of animosity and criticism between what I assume to be church members has left me with quite a sour taste. The Bush / FEMA / Mayor / Governor criticism and defending will all be played out in other media and the purpose of the original post, as I read it, was to remind us of the compassion and love that we should have toward anyone in need. It is our responsibility to help and care for those in dire circumstances without judging as to how they got where they are. We are our brother’s keeper – whether or not he had a 72 hour kit prepared.
Mark, all Mormons in New Orleans and surrounding regions were evacuated by the church prior to the arrival of the storm.
I find that hard to believe, especially in light of the trial we ran of our Stake Emergency plan a few months ago in Atlanta (and we were only asked to contact the members, not evacuate them).. A large percentage of our ward do not have telephone service, or they’ve changed their numbers so many times we’ve lost track of them. We are spread out over a large, inner city area, where going house to house to even locate people would take several days.
the purpose of the original post, as I read it, was to remind us of the compassion and love that we should have toward anyone in need
The animosity and criticism run through all of our society, as do the fault lines and the fear that divides us. That’s why I was so glad to see the original post. As for the lack of compassion, well the Romans didn’t have much compassion and since then human nature hasn’t changed in the least. Besides, compassion is hard. That Jesus guy was not an easy one to follow. We would not be seeing posts on the need for compassion if it was easy and everyone was already doing it.
Whoa… wait a minute! There is plenty of room for argument here and still have a lot of compassion. I am responsible for my welfare and I am responsible to God to respond to the plight of the poor around me. That is beyond debate in any forum that calls itself LDS.
What is debatable is just how responsible the government is. Anyone who believes in moral agency and the plan of salvation has to be concerned about the limits of government. We know it is necessary but we know its’ capacity for evil. The brakes must always be on. Especially when a crisis hits. Its the cry of the mob in tough times that opens the door to tyranny. The mob of the main stream media is howling now and I intend to make my voice heard in opposition to their pandering.
And yes it is fair to debate individual responsibility of the victims of the flood just as long as we don’t let the discussion keep us from extending help. We are obliged to help even the stupid and irresponsible (and don’t howl back at me that I called the victims stupid. I did not.) Discussing it and denying it are two different things. No. 1 on the list of non-discussable topics today is individual responsibility. Say the words and a depraved segment of our society howls.
I was trying to find the article that claimed that Claire. It was a rather positive writeup in one of the major newspapers. Admittedly there may be inactives who couldn’t be found. (As there are in all wards) But I seem to distinctly recall them saying that they found all the people on their lists and got them out. I suspect that the coming hurricane might have made participation a bit stronger. Also note that in a lot of the poor areas people don’t always have phones so people would have directly had to visit to get them.
I’d like to see the story if you can find it, Clark, if only to see how they did it. Did they get busses? Perhaps there is less of an ‘urban’ population of members in NO then there is here; we have lots of members who use public transportation.
Sorry to be such a pessimist, but I’m often overwhelmed with our ‘regular/normal’ welfare needs, so contemplating how to deal with this sort of catastrophe is fairly mindboggling.
No. 1 on the list of non-discussable topics today is individual responsibility. Say the words and a depraved segment of our society howls.
I guess that means I’m supposed to be depraved as well as a jackal and so on. Howling. Please excuse me for feeling that isn’t really me.
The big deal with individual responsibility seems to be which individuals should be held responsible.
In regards to your comments on government, I share your concern about its capacity for evil. All organizations made of human beings are capable of evil, and limited in their ability to accomplish good. However, I think the surest road towards evil is to abrogate responsibility for doing good. Also, you should consider that many people feel that what the government is doing now is evil: telling lies, starting an unnecessary, destructive and expensive war, excusing massive corruption in business, running up the worst debt of all time, looting our seniors retirement savings, cutting science and education, polluting our environment, catering to religious extremists, and persecuting minorities. I’m sure I’m missing some, but you probably can see what I mean. This sets up an interesting contrast. You argue that government must not be allowed to good works because it might lead to tyranny. Others, including myself, feel that we have something like a tyranny now, and that explains much of why the government is not doing good works. Quite simply, it is serving the interests of a powerful few rather than the common good. You may not agree with this, but you really should think about which of our positions is more rational.
When the quest
Begins to rest
Upon the chest
That I infest
I cease to jest
On others test
And do invest
My very best
In my zest
I become the pest
In others nest.
Harold B. Curtis
TomB, do you hate personal reposnibility? Do you want this tyranny to take even more responsibility?
If it causes you to howl let me say it again, personal responsibility, personal responsibility, personal responsibility, ……..
I am not PC
In the great scale of eternity, I shall not be judged for others response to Katrina’s swarthy swath of terror, but rather for my response.
I shall be indicted for the measure of my love or my loathing.
I shall be weighed for my attribution and my retribution, my emulation and my demolition.
I am the quail sent by God to feed and quiet these quivering huddled masses.
My test is not to survive the storm but weather the fallout.
Now we shall see if Zion is able to put on her beautiful garments, by clothing the downtrodden.
We shall see if we will eat at the table of fat things, by feeding the hungry.
We shall see if we have a mansion on high, by visiting the homeless.
We shall see if we have eternal increase, by what we give away.
It’s close to home now, it’s personal. It didn’t happen in a far away place with strange sounding names. It happened in America. I suspect this is just the beginning. I should wonder whether placing blame is productive, if the Storm indeed came from God! The greater wisdom is to prepare for the storms, and let the wind blow where it may.
Harold B. Curtis
I found one quote Claire. It was from the New Orleans Times Picayune. It was reposted at this blog. I’ll quote the relevant paragraph. It doesn’t, however, mention the success (or failures).
“Meanwhile, some churches appear to have moved on their own to create evacuation plans that assist members without cars. Since the Hurricane Ivan evacuation of 2004, Mormon churches have begun matching members who have empty seats in cars with those needing seats, said Scott Conlin, president of the church’s local stake. Eleven local congregations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints share a common evacuation plan, and many church members have three-day emergency kits packed and ready to go, he said. Mormon churches in Jackson, Miss., Hattiesburg, Miss., and Alexandria, La., have arranged to receive evacuees. The denomination also maintains a toll-free telephone number that functions as a central information drop, where members on the road can leave information about their whereabouts that church leaders can pick up and relay as necessary, Conlin said.”
Not to detract from from your weightier thoughts which are nicely put–
But for some 9/11 was the beginning. For others it was the eruption of Mt. St. Helen. And for a great many others it was WWII. And yet for others of the nineteenth century the Civil War was the beginning of the end. Surely nothing can compare to the misery and heartache that were inflicted upon Americans during that period of history.
TomB, do you hate personal reposnibility?
Of course not. We need more of it. As human beings, we grow up in and belong in and benefit from many social networks. Our families, communities, churches, businesses and (gasp, sorry) government. This is a debt that we can never pay back. We can only pay it forward, so our children and our neighbors children will have at least the opportunities that we got, hopefully better. That’s a responsibility. We have a responsibility to work hard to achieve the best within our potential, to do our parents and our communities proud, or at least to avoid becoming too much of a burden on them. Those of us who do well have a responsibility to put in a little extra to sustain the social networks. It’s only fair. These are the same social networks that made it possible for the more fortunate among us to be so successful, and they take away some of the bitterness and suffering felt by the least fortunate among us. We have a responsibility to be compassionate, to help those who need it not because of cost-benefit ratios (although compassion can be justified on that basis), and not because of what we have in common, but regardless, because compassion should be stronger than that.
Do you want this tyranny to take even more responsibility?
It’s just taking power. If it took responsibility, I wouldn’t have so much to complain about.
Jack you’re right
In this dispensation of the FULLNESS of TIME, misery mounts each moment. President Woodruff announced that the angels had left their portals and commenced their work on the earth as early as around 1890. Just since then the catalogue of catastrophe is bulging. On a world scale the levee’s are bursting one by one. I hope the day never comes when God will not allow aid to be sent, to rescue and to help. Such aid was not allowed to Sodom and Gomorrah, such aid was not allowed in the great flood. I hope we can escape such days. Meanwhile, three tropical storms are brewing in the Atlantic.
Think of the poor widow who could only afford to offer two tiny coins when she came to the temple to pray. She had no resources. If she’d been living in New Orleans this year, she’d have no car, no 72-hour kit, no potent credit card to buy her passage out of a beleaguered city. Yet Jesus would not have despised her. He said she had given more than any of the other worshippers there. They had made their offerings out of their superfluity — their extra, what they had over and above what they needed to live. The widow, in her abject poverty, had given all she had.
We can’t know the circumstances that led to a specific person’s being trapped in New Orleans. And even if we thought we knew the circumstances, we wouldn’t know what was in their hearts and minds that led them to make their decisions. In interviews filmed just before the storm hit the city, there were plenty of people who knew they should leave, but who didn’t have the means to do so, or who were taking care of others even poorer or more helpless than themselves.
Who deserves our charity? Everyone. We aren’t taught to means-test the help we give our suffering brethren, to winnow out the deserving from the undeserving poor. We’re told to pray that God will forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. We’re told that in the last days, when the Lord gathers the nations to stand before him, and separates the sheep from the goats, he’ll ask whether we gave meat to the hungry and drink to the thirsty, whether we clothed the naked, took in the homeless stranger, and visited the sick and those in prison, saying “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
Christ taught us to feed the hungry, help the afflicted, and comfort those who mourn. Time after time, we see him refuse to condemn or to withhold blessings from those who are imperfectly needy and pious. Ten lepers were cured. Only one turned back to give thanks; yet the other nine were still cured. Elsewhere, we hear the story of a vineyard at harvest time, and how those who were hired to work only the last couple of hours were given the same pay as those who’d worked since sunup. In the story of the Prodigal Son, the returning sinner is welcomed and given a feast. More than once, we see Christ giving his blessings and mercy to sinners, saying only “Go your way, and sin no more.” And at the end, crucified between two thieves, he responds to one thief asking only that he remember him when he comes into his kingdom by saying “This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.”
Of all the gifts we’re given, one of the greatest is that we have the opportunity to help one another. There’s virtue in giving God our superfluity, but what he wants is our hearts. He wants us to give ourselves. That’s a gift we give in humility, because it’s needed, and because we’re all God’s children. We don’t give it when we’re all puffed up with pride like the religious hypocrites Jesus so disliked, sure that we know who does and doesn’t deserve our charity. We don’t know. We can’t know. But God knows all our hearts, and what he tells us to do is love one another.
It couldn’t be simpler. It couldn’t be clearer. All we need is to buckle down and do it.
I’ve been googling around a little in an effort to find out more about the fate of the Nauvoo refugees in poor camp, across the Mississippi from Nauvoo.
It appears that shortly after the miracle of the quail that Julie mentioned, relief arrived from the advance parties. This is how an online history of Iowa put it:
“The Mormons who tried to remain in Nauvoo after the first body left were harshly used. In September they were attacked by Gentiles, and after brief resistance capitulated. They were compelled to hasty flight, and those overtaken on the Illinois shore were ducked, and sent, dripping, over the river on flatboats. The place in Iowa where they huddled, miserable and poor, was termed “Poor Camp.” Their plight was so wretched that Illinois people sent them provisions.
“Poor Camp” was two miles above Montrose. From Garden Grove and Mt. Pisgah the Mormons in advance dispatched wagons to the relief of their suffering brethren. Before these arrived, a multitude of quail fell in “Poor Camp,” and all along the river for forty miles. This was thought to be an act of divine favor.
In October “Poor Camp” was deserted.”
The Making of Iowa, chapter 26
THe Nauvoo journal of Thomas Bullock records that the residents of poor camp arrived at Winter Quarters in December, 1846.
Teresa, well-put words – thank you and amen!
Pres. Kimball clarified “as a man thinketh, so is he” by offering its opposite: “How could a man possibly become what he is not thinking?” Jesus likewise clarified the verse you cited with its opposite: “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” (Matt 25:45).
I refer all who think the effects of Katrina on New Orleans could not have been predicted to this 2001 Article from Scientific American of October 2001. http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&articleID=00060286-CB58-1315-8B5883414B7F0000
I have known about the imminent danger to New Orleans of this flooding since I read this article, and I’ve heard others tell of reading about it much earlier.
We can say a lot of things, I suppose, about what we should have done in advance, but we can’t claim this article is hindsight, or that we didn’t see this coming.
Tatiana: Excellent point. The Politicos need to own up to the facts that this was a known and possible fear. However, the media and America need to be even more clear that responsibility on this matter go from the local to state to federal levels. This is a bottom up chain of command; one which failed miserably; not because of the system, but because those at the bottom of the chain. Impeach Nagin! Impeach Blanco!
Clark, thanks, that sheds some light (112). I forget that people living in NO have considered this a very real possibility, and especially since the last year’s evacuation, have put a lot of thought and planning into emergency preparedness there. Since we aren’t coastal, storm evacuation is not likely in Atlanta. Our biggest threat is tornadoes spawned by these storms, and they give much less notice. We’ve had local evacuations with gas leaks, etc. and of course there is the constant threat of terrorism since we are the biggest city in the SE. The 800 number is an innovative idea.
C’mon, can’t you overcome your admittedly tenacious party loyalty and add “Fire Brown!” to that list? And, at the very least, “Scold Bush!” for hiring the fool?
Lets say–let’s just say–that Nagin and Blanco dropped the ball as drastically as you say they did (which I’m allowing just for argument, not because I think it’s true). The head of the weather bureau communicated with the WH before the hurricane and tried to convey to them the gravity of the impending situation. Do you really think that Bush, Chertoff, and Brown, were fretting by the phone, just wishing they’d get permission from Nagin to help all those people? And after the local and state system’s failed (through the fault of whomever), don’t you think it’s outrageous that Chertoff learned, on camera, during an interview, about the dire situation at the convention center, when the rest of us had been reading about it for two days? And that Brown’s first–belated–FEMA memo said to send in 1000 troop, maybe 2, and then went on to discuss how to message the whole production to the media?
I really don’t care what happens to Nagin or Blanco. But Bush, Brown, and Chertoff still answer to me and the rest of the American public. My interest isn’t in blame, it’s in accountability, and Nagin and are accountable to their constituents, not to me. Whether or not Nagin and Blanco failed New Orleans, Bush, Chertoff, and Brown failed me.
…and to add to Jeremy’s comments (go, go J!), as a citizen who lives in hurricane country, the idea that the directorship of FEMA was chosen by this administration as a position of such low importance that a crony could be safely tucked away there angers me beyond words.
the idea that the directorship of FEMA was chosen by this administration as a position of such low importance that a crony could be safely tucked away there angers me beyond words.
If that outrages you, then what do you think of this from last night’s Lou Dobbs segment on CNN?
RAY NAGIN, MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS: I don’t feel like we’re overwhelmed. (read full transcript of Sept. 6, 2005 Lou Dobbs hour here, scroll down for Kitty Pilgrim’s report from which this quote is taken)
Does this outrage you too? Or is your outrage merely and conveniently confined to Bush, Brown, and Chertoff? If so, why is that? Is it merely partisan? I am in favor of holding FEMA accountable for any failures in their response that can be demonstrated. I am not in favor of allowing Nagin and Blanco a get-out-of-jail-free card simply because of their political party. I want to see at least equal, if not substantially more, criticism levied at them as at the feds in this situation where Nagin and Blanco had the primary responsibility of prevention and response to this disaster, and they botched it.
As Mayor of New Orleans, Nagin and his administration and agencies/boards was the one primarily responsible in advance of the hurricane for securing the levees, evacuating the poor who could not evacuate themselves, and for making the necessary evacuation arrangements once the levees broke and the water started to rise. Instead, he told CNN that things were under control, that New Orleans wasn’t overwhelmed. The next day, Nagin is on the radio screaming profanity at the feds telling them to get down there. Maybe the fact that they weren’t already there had something to do with the fact that Nagin had been saying that things were under control and that New Orleans was not overwhelmed for its resources?
Earlier, I wrote about 2000 school buses. That was obviously a typo–it should have read 200 school buses, which doesn’t change the analysis one bit.
By the way, Lou Dobbs had an interesting exchange with Jesse Jackson on the September 5 Lou Dobbs broadcast, transcript here, calling Jackson to task for the political opportunism and divisiveness of using the suffering and death of thousands of people to play the race card and advance his own agenda.
How did they fail you Jeremy? How didn’t Nagin and Brown fail you? If Brown and Nagin had done their first responder part do you think that we would be this deep in it?
This constant harping on the government is part of our animal human nature that can’t won’t take personal responsibility. Tell me what you’re doing about it besides whining.
I live in Texas I know what I am doing about it. One thing for sure I intend to do about it is make sure that I take some responsibility for myself and my family and that I give time and money now and over the long haul. That all has started and will continue.
I also intend to shout at the mob and make sure that personal family and local responsibility continues to be a HUGE part of the debate.
No doubt mistakes were made by the Bush administration. MISTAKES WILL ALWAYS BE MADE. Get over it.
I am shocked, SHOCKED, to see politics going on here.
“No doubt mistakes were made by the Bush administration. MISTAKES WILL ALWAYS BE MADE. Get over it. ”
That may be, but there is a difference between a reasonable level of mistakes, and wholesale incompetency. And when wholesale incompetency is not recognized for what it is, but rather, constantly excused in some misguided attempt at “bipartisanship”, we can only expect it to continue.
Sorry, that should have been “imcompetence”
See, some mistakes are less important than others.
John, you will note that I couched my reference in terms of me as a citizen in hurricane country. I have said nothing about political party. Neither Ray nor Blanco are part of my world, I leave it to the people of NO and LA to deal with them. Brown in his federal position does affect me, and I have every reason to wonder given FEMA’s utter failure to handle Katrina.
As of this moment, I have no idea how my Republican mayor nor my Democrat governor would have handled the situation, and the last time a storm of this magnitude hit my region (1989) I wasn’t here, so I can’t speak to that. You can be very sure they both are being scrutinized on that very topic now.
Why do you feel it so important to protect Michael Brown, john? The man has fallen flat on his face. I forget where you are specifically (Wasatch front?) but do you really think that given FEMA’s missteps this week that someone as unqualified as he is should remain in the position? Are you confident that the medical supplies, the food, the water, the medics, etc., that your taxes are paying for will be there when the Wasatch Fault snaps? FEMA’s failures this week have cost a lot of lives so far. That is something for which we citizens have every right and responsibility to question.
Katrina didn’t care what party the leaders held to and in this case neither do I. Before you go accusing me of crass partisanship, look at where you appear to stand on that very continuum based on your argument in post #124.
What’s interesting to me is how this debate occasionally *defies* party affiliation: isn’t OSC rather famously a democrat? And at least one other Bush-defending participant on this thread has not, to my knowledge, been a Bush supporter in the past. Something about this tragedy seems to have pulled a few closeted Bush loyalties out into the open.
Testimony meeting last Sunday was rather interesting.
One man got up and told how watching the hurricane and aftermath unfold had moved him. He began telling of his experiences in Angola in the war and living in refuge prison camps for several years. He did not get far into it before he completely broke down in tears and cried. He tried to compose himself several times but could not and had to leave.
Another man got up and pointed out that this same kind of catastrophy is going on right here in Atlanta and in every other large city in America, only in slow motion. The suffering of the poor, which to a great extend many of them bring upon themselves and their children by their poor life decisions goes on every day and we hardly notice. BTW this man’s very own children who were raised in the church as first generation Black Mormons (and who once were the subject of a nice article in the Ensign about what a great job they were doing living the gospel) are among the worst of the poor because of drug addictions, whoredoms and the other usual reasons. Katrina becomes a metaphor for so much of what is going wrong here in this blessed nation.
For some reason I felt the pain of those people more intensely than at any other time. Perhaps this is the only rational response. Tears.
Maybe the various responses to the disaster Katrina will become a metaphor for redemption. Nice that the word sort of resembles the Source of redemption.
I don’t care about Brown. Fire him if his failure can be demonstrated and are attributable to negligence rather than the exigencies and consequences of a natural disaster of this magnitude.
Chad, while I largely agree with many of the views of FEMA, there is something to keep in mind. First FEMA always said to expect 72 – 90 hours for them to come in. (And that was about the time in New York after 9/11) Second, FEMA faced all the problems with no power in the region, no gas in the region, and many roads blocked. Third the extent and breadth of the damage was massive, overwhelming anything FEMA could put together. Finally, FEMA works through local governments.
While those mitigate FEMA’s actions somewhat, some things are coming out (beyond questions about Brown’s qualifications) For one, the reorganization put issues of planning and funding of the local response into separate divisions. I’m confident that will be one of the big criticisms made. Third, FEMA, from what I understand, abandoned local FEMA offices who coordinate with local authorities. That’s an other huge systemic problem with the change with FEMA. Finally, I think it safe to say that the main criticism is that when local authorities showed themselves overwhelmed and sometimes amazingly incompetent (cough governor cough) the leadership should have stepped in, cut red tape, and ordered things.
The biggest problems appear to have been limiting independent civilians from going into the region. I think that’ll be the biggest issue. Who’s exactly responsible for this isn’t clear yet. Is it FEMA, the Governor, or local New Orleans officials? But there were many trucks able to deliver food and water into New Orleans (including several semis from the Church) There were people with boats and airboats wanting to go help with the rescue not allowed in. Some reports suggest that this was because in last year’s war gaming of a hurricane disaster in New Orleans included secondary terrorist attacks by Al Queda to hamper rescues. So the structures may have been put in place to focus on security and having a firm perimeter. While I think we can all agree that wasn’t wise, there may have been method to the madness. I think we have to wait a little bit before leaping to too many conclusions. (And I fully admit I’ve been guilty of that)
I’d add that the Church got pretty good kudos for our planning for the disaster, as the quote I provided (112) showed. Given that Mormons in general aren’t too well thought of in the area, that’s a big deal I think. I think having semis on the road (14 the first day as I recall) was a big deal too, even if we weren’t able to move them in due to red tape.
With regard to the suffering of the poor, I tend to agree. However I think far too many view the symptom as the disease. That’s not in the least to say we shouldn’t help. But after having lived in the ghettos of Louisiana and seen the problems, I think things are far more complex than well meaning people suggest.
I would bet that any administration, any FEMA director, any mayor, and governor that would be around during a disaster like this would all be questioned by all different sides of people. Some might say that Clinton’s administration would have done better. Who knows, in fact, we will never know. We don’t even have a disaster to compare this to. Some may say this compares to the Tsunami. Sorry, wrong place, different situation.
There are great arguments across the board as to who was responsible. Many cited excellent reasons in this post. I wonder what I would do if I had ALL the facts at my disposal as many of you seem to have. And while I might agree with one or the other, I find that when it comes down to it, I am responsible for my own family. Arguably, I have little control over the government and what they should or should not be doing. I will vote, I can put my voice out there, but unless I can get a following, I am simply not important enough to make a nation change. But I can take care of my own family, and perhaps have enough resources left over to teach and help others.
The big picture is this We blame Bush, or Brown, or Nagin or Blanco. But what about the Lord, why did he allow this to happen? Why wasn’t he helping? etc. etc. etc. Do you not think that he is in control? If he wanted to destroy New Oreans but then limit the destruction, he could do so. If he knew that the agencies were setup to take care of this kind of destruction, but he didn’t want them to, he could have slowed their progress.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see one person or another get fired or lose the next election. But perhaps rather than complaining about one person or another or one party vs. another, we shoud step up to the plate and help. Perhaps the Lord is testing our charitible spirits. Are we going to have the gift of charity or are we going to have the spirit of contention? If the latter, I fear that we may have failed this test.
TV says: This constant harping on the government is part of our animal human nature that can’t won’t take personal responsibility. Tell me what you’re doing about it besides whining.
Animal human nature? I didn’t anticipate you, of all people, steering this thread towards the topic of organic evolution…
Seriously, is the “animal human nature” that makes me prone to “whining” any more irrational than the “animal human nature” that makes you want to protect your (political) territory?
You have no business speculating on the extent to which I’m contributing of my time and means to the recovery effort, within my personal geographic and financial abilities. You have no position from which to question my sense of “personal responsibility.” You have no way of knowing the extent to which I would be prepared to protect my family in a disaster. (And, even though it’s none of your business, I’ll have you know our FHE on Monday night was dedicated to orienting our kids to the contents of the 72-hour kits we keep in the closet by the door, outlining our disaster preparedness plan, and running fire drills.)
And you really have no business categorizing my political voice as “whining.” When I voice my opinion that my president and his appointed officers botched their job on this scale, that’s hardly whining; it contributes to the most important kind of civic discourse there is.
Good. You raise your voice and you’ll also hear my voice.
I’ll keep saying personal responsibility as long as I am alive. I am not going to let someone stifle that discussion with a misplaced compassion discussion. I know my duty to the poor. I heard the Good Samaritan lesson in Sunday School. When I run into an unfortunate traveler I don’t intend to walk the other side of the road. But when y errand is done and I get to my destination I’ll remind everyone of their personal responsibility for their safety on the road.
Somehow the part about the governemnt taking over got left out of my Sunday School lesson…. What did I miss?
Misplaced compassion? Tens of thousands of human beings are dead, many of them drowned in filthy water in the reeking heat and darkness of their own attics. Thousands more are suffering, some of them dying, because inept disaster response kept the most basic relief operations out of the city for almost a week. A person who has no drinkable water will die in three days. New Orleans has been without water for twice that long.
Our personal responsibility is to help our fellow man. When we stand before God, he won’t ask us how well we succeeded in limiting our charitable liabilities, or whether we did enough for George Bush. He’ll tell us that whatever we did or failed to do for the least of his children, we did or failed to do for him.
Where do people come by this fear of kind and loving actions? Death is a greater tyrant than any government agency. Oppression doesn’t grow out of basic relief efforts. Life is short, eternity long, and our obligation to help the poor, sick, and needy is as clearly stated as anything in scripture.
On another issue: I’ve seen various people make remarks in this discussion about the supposed dereliction of the Mayor of New Orleans, and the Governor of Louisiana. They are laboring under a misapprehension. Governors and mayors do what they can, but they’re always going to be the amateurs of emergency relief. The federal government handles the serious disaster relief. That’s why FEMA exists. Haven’t you noticed, on previous occasions when hurricanes have smashed into some area, how the feds are the ones who show up to do the serious rescue, relief, and reconstruction work? Usually they show up as soon as the hurricane’s over. This time they have’t. It’s a massive snafu.
This is the way the government works. It’s standard operating procedure. The only thing that’s different is that this time around, it hasn’t worked.
Here’s where real personal responsibiity comes into it: the people who were personally responsible for overseeing this process have done a terrible job. I’m not stating an opinion. This one’s a fact: they screwed up big time.
We’ll be a while sorting that one out. What’s important right now is to give help where it’s desperately needed.
In the previous hurricanes in 89 and 92 (Hugo and Andrew I believe), the FEMA directors were drilled just as much. Don’t think that this is new. There is always somebody pointing fingers to somebody else. How unfortunate. I honestly can’t believe that any of the four named culprits had intentions to slow relief or resist preperation unless it was for good judgement.
Hindsight is 20/20.
Yes, hindsight is 20/20. I’ve never understood why some use this as an argument to disregard hindsight.
Yes! N Miller.
I pulled this off of “In the News” at Yahoo:
It’s not uncommon for the Federal Emergency Management Agency — and whoever is in charge at the time — to catch blame in the messy aftermath of disaster.
It happened after Hugo hit South Carolina in 1989 and Andrew struck Florida in 1992.
After Andrew, Mikulski slammed the agency for a “pathetically sluggish” response, and on the ground, Dade County emergency director Kathleen Hale famously summed up the frustration felt throughout the stricken areas when she cried, “Where the hell is the cavalry?”
“There is nothing more powerful than the urge to blame,” said Eric Dezenhall, a crisis-management consultant who helps corporate leaders and other prominent figures try to repair tattered images. “It happens every time. It is a deeply embedded archetype in the human mind.”
He said the Brown episode is playing out in classic fashion.
“You can follow the steps,” he said. “First, outrage. Second, the headline: ‘What went wrong?’ Third, the telltale memo that supposedly suggests somebody knew and did nothing. I just don’t find this to be unique at all.”
Here’s the link to the article:
Yes, FEMA was famously anemic throughout the 80s and early 90s. Then Clinton brought in James Witt, an actual disaster management expert, who turned the organization around and established a reputation for efficiency and efficacy in disaster response.
Then, when FEMA was absorbed by the DHS, its budget was slashed and it was entrusted to campaign cronies (first Allbaugh, then Brown, neither of whom had disaster response experience). Virtually overnight it became anemic and ineffective again.
So, to say that FEMA today is comparable to FEMA in 1989 or 1992 actually amounts to a pointed indictment of Mike Brown, not a defense of Mike Brown.
Even if James Witt hadn’t turned FEMA into an effective organization, and even if Bush & Co. hadn’t made a shambles of it, this disaster would be several degrees of magnitude worse than those earlier hurricanes where there were complaints about the quality of the response. The situations are not comparable.
Wow, I didn’t know you were a Times and Seasons lurker. Welcome. I’ve read Making Light for a couple of years now, it seems, and I don’t think I’ve ever commented. Thanks for making your presence known.
I’ve written some about this already on my own blog here; on another list, I’ve written up my basic two cents:
1. At a certain point, disasters of this size are always nationalized. What the town can’t handle, the state handles; what the state can’t handle, the federal government handles. This is one of the most basic logical realities of politics: the wider the problem, the wider the needed scope of collective action. Hence, when you are talking about a hurricane that has killed thousands, dispossessed hundreds of thousands, and destroyed billions of dollars in property and trade, of course the buck stops with the federal government. That doesn’t mean municipalities and states needn’t do their part, and come under criticism for such if warranted; it just means that, in the end, it is to be expected that the federal government will provide aid where needed. Or at least, that’s the only reasonable conclusion which can be made about our own post-14th Amendment polity.
2. Of course government can’t and shouldn’t do everything. But if there is anything that government can and should do, it is provide basic security and aid when other infrastructures are overwhelmed. When you family can’t feed you, you turn to your neighbors; when your neighbors can’t, you turn to a larger civic entity, and so on up that ladder. Again, this is one of the most basic logics of government: it is there to provide collective support for those times–when because of disaster, invasion, or some other catastrophe–when people cannot take care of themselves on their own. There are a lot of other things which a government can and should do, depending on how you understand the common good or individual liberty or the basic ideals of your society. But keeping order, rescuing the dying, responding to breakdowns of communication and the civic fabric–that’s just fundamental.
3. On the basis of the preceding points, I can’t help but conclude that the Bush administration has, over the last few days, failed its most basic test, and has been oblivious to how basic a test it has failed. Yes, New Orleans and Louisiana and whomever else can be targeted as incompetents too. (I feel bad for the New Orleans mayor–an apparently smart and relatively uncorrupt politician in a very corrupt city, his city fell apart underneath him (some reports suggest nearly half the New Orleans police force abandoned their posts early on in the disaster, and a lot of them contributed to the looting) and he panicked, fleeing to Baton Rouge and issuing denunciations. His political career is toast, and probably doesn’t deserve to be–not everyone can be Rudy Gulliani. But what would it mean to not blame him? “Well, stuff happens, I guess we should just give him credit for trying hard?” That’s no way to run a responsive polity.) But that doesn’t let the feds off the hook. Bush’s usual refusal to countenance any criticism of FEMA Director Michael Brown; the huge disconnect between this administration’s obsession with national security and its inability to effectively communicate priorities, move troops and rescue workers, fund basic and long-pointed-out problems with its disaster-response capability…etc., etc.–it’s all just appalling. I watched the news unfold on the TV from my hotel room last week in Washington, and my feelings just grew darker and darker. I realize that it’s easy to point fingers when I’m not the one deciding budgets and dealing with day after day of horrible news. But in the same way the great Mississippi flood of 1927 resulted massive changes in our socio-economic fabric (though many of them weren’t seen until years later, in the midst of the New Deal), so one should hope that this event will have similar widespread consequences. And even David Brooks is hinting that perhaps they may need to start at the top.
Rosalynde, re #131: OSC is a smart writer, but he gets a lot more mileage out of the fact that he describes himself as a Democrat than he probably deserves. He may support the local Democratic Party there in North Carolina, but nationally, I don’t believe he’s supported a Democratic candidate for president since the 1980s. (He certainly never supported Clinton.) In short, insofar as these sorts of discussions go, OSC is a “Democrat” in the same way DKL is a “feminist”–that is, he may call himself that, but his definition doesn’t fit the way the label is commonly used in ordinary discourse. That might be cause of regret (heaven knows the Democratic party is a basket case, and in any case in an ideal world, OSC and I would probably vote much the same way, supporting socially conservative, economically liberal causes), but that doesn’t change the fact that the label suggests something about him (that he’s bravely going against his own party interest, etc.) that probably isn’t true.
Then start with God.
My position on this thread has been one of “stop playing the blame game.” I have pointed no fingers in any direction–though I’ve been tempted to point ‘one’ at the press.
I’ll reiterate–y’all sound like Huck Finn’s father.
I’m sick of it.
You are making a general kind of critique, Russell Fox, that does not respond to the specifics of the case. I’m not well-informed on the issue, but it seems that people are arguing on specific things that should have been done and specific obstacles that prevented them being done, instead of blandly asserting that (1) the feds are responsible for helping with big disasters and (2) the government is responsible for helping with disasters and (3) therefore the Bush administration screwed up.
Where do you (and Scott McClellan) draw the line between “playing the blame game” (as the talking point emerged in the press briefing today) and simply accounting for one’s actions? What’s so wrong with the press demanding answers? (After giving the WH such a free pass for the past four years?)
Oh, for heaven’s sake, it’s God’s fault. I don’t know where He was or what He was thinking, but Hello, Heavenly Father, your children are suffering here, could you move that hurricane a little south?
God was so not on top of this.
annegb: “God was so not on top of this.”
You know, more and more, I’m actually believing that the truth is the exact opposite.
If I thought the press wasn’t bating and fishing for the only answers it’s capable of accepting I would say that there’s no problem with its trying to get answers. As far as *demanding* answers goes–I didn’t vote for the press.
Sorry, for my rudeness–even though only the first sentence (#147) was aimed at you specifically.
I know it is easier to blame others. By doing so I can put a face on what I cannot otherwise understand.
So I am going to put blame where I think it belongs. Here Goes…..
Satan, for inspiring evil men to build weapons of mass destruction, even weapons that can rev up a hurricane, and make it change course…..drive it if you will……to do the maximum damage, to the most vulnerable place, and the most vulnerable people.
Secret combinations who wreck this havoc, and cause this terror.
Governments who aid these secret combinations.
Now thats enough to get my blame juices up and running.
Think I’m crazy………..Read the Book of Mormon………….
Harold B. Curtis
Elder Henry B. Eyring’s 10/04 GenCon talk gives an interesting contrast between a dam break in Idaho and the levee break in Louisiana; between human agencies and the Church:
A dam in Idaho broke on a June day. A wall of water struck the communities below it. Thousands of people, mostly Latter-day Saints, fled their homes to go to safety.
I was there as the people faced the terrible task of recovery. I saw the stake president gather his bishops to lead the people. We were cut off in those first days from any supervision from outside. I was in the meeting of local leaders when a director from the federal disaster agency arrived.
He tried to take over the meeting. With great force he began to list the things that he said needed to be done. As he read aloud each item, the stake president, who was sitting near him, said quietly, “We’ve already done that.” After that went on for five or ten minutes, the federal official grew silent and sat down. He listened quietly as the stake president took reports from the bishops and gave directions.
For the meeting the next day, the federal disaster official arrived early. He sat toward the back. The stake president began the meeting. He took more reports, and he gave instructions. After a few minutes, the federal official, who had come with all the authority and resources of his great agency, said, “President Ricks, what would you like us to do?”
He recognized power. I saw more. I recognized the evidence of keys and the faith that unlocks their power.
It happened again when a man and his wife arrived back in town just after the dam had broken. They didn’t go to their home. They went first to find their bishop. He was covered in mud, leading his members in mucking out homes. They asked what he would have them do.
They went to work. Much later, they took a few minutes to check on their own house. It was gone. So they went back to work wherever their bishop asked them to help. They knew where to go to get the Lord’s direction for service in His Church.
I learned then as I have since how the stakes of Zion become places of safety. They become like a great family, united, caring for each other. It comes by simple faith.
(#69) annegb – “Is it just people who hate George Bush whose religion you distrust or is it people who hate? Because that would pretty much eliminate every Mormon.”
That’s a fairly cynical view. I do not consider myself a very compassionate person, but I can’t think of one person that I hate. There are people who bother me, but I do not hate them. Hopefully, we’re talking about the very same emotion, just calling it something different. If every Mormon were hateful, then the religion has done nothing for them. I’m not prepared to believe that.
I really, REALLY hope that your comment (#153) is just a fun way of showing how out of control all of this finger pointing has gotten.
If not, well … uh … all I can say is that I’ve read the BoM many times.
hmmm…..good point. I was trying to point out that most human beings (ie Mormons in this case) feel hatred at one time or another. Even if it’s only fleeting.
I certainly wouldn’t judge somebody’s worthiness to be a Mormon just because they had a virulent reaction to another human being. Nobody has that right except the Lord.
Although, as I read uh, that guy’s comments, I mostly agree, except for the hyperbole about hate. I was making fun.
You’re lucky you haven’t felt that emotion. I think (without doing a survey) most people do at one time or another.
Yeah, you’re just having a little fun–I like it!
I just finished watching a cheezy sci-fi flick (Stargate) and my head was still swirling in that galactic silliness when I read your comment.
The Washington Post concludes that part of the problem is that the Army Corps of Engineers, for some time now, has mainly been a vehicle for pork barrell:
I just heard an interesting annecdote on the radio the other day. It doesn’t necessarily represent my own views, but I thought I’d throw it out anyway.
The reporter was interviewing a poor woman who had lived in “the projects” of New Orleans with her children. She told the reporter that she actually felt like she was better off now, sitting in a shelter at a church, with all her possessions destroyed, than she was a month ago before the hurricane. The reporter sounded skeptical.
The woman explained that before, her neighborhood was full of drugs, shootings, violence, and ugliness. She said it was like God had simply washed the filth away and given her a fresh start. She then emphatically stated that the destruction of that neighborhood was, in hindsight, a good thing.
Like I said, not necessarily my own take on the situation. But it does get you thinking. Take it how you will.
I read that article, Adam; it’s a good one. It makes me think a little bit about the different aspects of governing: legislative power is presumably about shaping and protecting society through the construction of laws, whereas executive power is about the enforcement and management (including crisis management) of those laws. If various executives (the mayor, the governor, and the president) can be faulted for their disregard for the short-terms means of protecting life and property available to them, then various legislatures can be equally faulted for not having made use of the power and monies available to them to think in the long term. President Bush is, I think, ultimately accountable for federal government’s poor response to the disaster, but I would not say he is in any way accountable for the unprepared environment which suffered the disaster–that goes to Congress, and specifically Louisiana legislators who consistently pushed the Army Corps of Engineers to work on short-term, rather than long-term, concerns. Former Democratic senator John Breaux’s comment–“We thought all [these] projects were important–not just levees….Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but navigation projects were critical to our economic survival”–is I think rather damning, considering the fact that the navigation projects he pushed were practically worthless make-work projects.
Incidentally, a lot of liberals have criticized Dennis Hasert for his comments about how it probably doesn?t make much sense to even try to rebuild New Orleans, and while I agree it was a politically asinine thing to say, ultimately such a question, or something much like it, ought to be asked. Very likely New Orleans isn?t just going to go away; if nothing else, a large port city and railway center near the Gulf is vital for our trade. But, assuming some serious planning and thinking goes into the rebuilding of New Orleans (by no means a sure thing), perhaps the fact that the city is very likely going to be quite a bit smaller in population for years to come will allow for major changes in how the levees and other infrastructure is put together. Maybe the bulldozers could clear huge tracts of empty homes, and hundreds of thousands of tons of sand could be dumped on the vacated parts of the city, to lessen the ?bowl? effect, if not to raise the whole ground level up as in the Netherlands? Anyway, here?s a couple of additional voices on the same point (the second one is written by a geophysicist):
This discussion of the Army Corp of Engineers just reminded me of the book “Cadillac Desert.”
Fun read if your interested in government pork.
Another executive failure (state or local, I think), although the motives are maybe defensible:
Red Cross not allowed into New Orleans, http://www.redcross.org/faq/0,1096,0_682_4524,00.html
Barbara Bush’s take on the Katrina evacuees is interesting:
“What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas,” Barbara Bush said in an interview on Monday with the radio program “Marketplace.” “Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality.”
“And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway,” she said, “so this is working very well for them.”
– Barbara Bush
Concerning New Orleans future importance as a port,
Colby Cosh had this observation:
“Some may be wondering how long it took for the Port of Kobe to recover from its annihilation. The short answer is that 11 years later, it hasn’t happened yet. At the time of the disaster Kobe was Asia’s largest port by shipped volume and the world’s second largest overall. Today, even though no expense was spared in its reconstruction, it ranks #43 in the world.”
I wonder which junctions connecting the Mississippi Basin with the Atlantic Ocean can replace the Port of New Orleans.
annebg “You’re lucky you haven’t felt that emotion. I think (without doing a survey) most people do at one time or another. ”
I’m not sure if this was directed to me or not. Technically, I didn’t say that I have never felt that emotion, because I’m fairly certain that I have. What I tried to say is that I do not (currently) know anybody that I “hate.” I do know a few people who bother me. I’d like to believe that as most people mature in the gospel (and elsewhere, for that matter), they become slower to judge.
Re Seth #160–
I heard the same report and I have been pondering it. People who chose to see God’s hand of destruction in Katrina usually focus on the debauchery of NOLA, but perhaps they could see it as offering a second chance to the forgotten poor of NOLA. (Just tossing ideas out here, don’t know that I agree with this.)
Re Adam #164:
I’m surprised with all of the blame going around that no one has thought to blame the lawyers yet: it seems that at least some of the FEMA holdup was related to procedures designed to render them lawsuit proof. I heard something about firefighters sent to an Atlanta hotel for sexual harrassment training before they were allowed into NOLA under FEMA . . .
yeah, that was you. That was what I meant. I rarely feel hatred anymore. More irritation.
Boy, am I a thick headed dolt. After twenty-four hours of mundane living the idea that your “hurricane” just might be a metaphor finally found it’s way into the cobwebed catacombs of my mind. Hello McFly!
I am well in to middle age now and I have had a little opportunity to observe human nature. My observation is that people who take personal responsibility seriously are the ones that you’ll see at the service projects. They’re the ones who help move their neighbors, they’re the ones who help clean up after a ward party, they’re the ones who are full tithepayers (presumably because they are in the temple) and the ones who fulfill their callings faithfully. They may say tsk, tsk tsk, when someone is unprepared but they will help out. These are the people who get up again after cancer knocks them down. These are the folks who deal with unemployment, wayward children, and family illness with courage. They’re the ones who rebuild their homes after a fire or flood and thank God for his loving kindness and mercy.
Then I have have seen the pity party that is always talking about our duty to the poor, feeling compassion for the unfortunate etc. etc. blah blah blah. My experience with most of these folks is that they are unreliable. All I can count on them for is talk.
By their fruits (not words) shall ye know them.
If personal responsibility lessons got them to this point then I’ll take more personal responsibility lessons. The unprepared, the poor, the sick, the afflicted and all the rest of us are better off because of these people. I still want to be like them when I grow up.
TV: you know, there are people who have their food storage and prepare their 72 hour kits and get their temple recommends and clean up after the ward party AND ” talk… about our duty to the poor, feeling compassion for the unfortunate etc. etc. blah blah,” as you put it. Your categorical assumption that those two ideas are mutually exclusive, that people who advocate for the poor are “unreliable” to actually help, is simply false. And, frankly, offensive.
#171 You could start your maturation by realizing that you are not in a position to decide about anybody’s Mormonism.
For one in middle age, you sure have a lot of answers. As I made my journey into middle age, and now into old age, I find I know less and less.
That is the other thing that I will say, categorically, about the compassion crowd: They are easily offended and they are full of doubts and uncertainties. The personal responsibility group never seems to be offended and they are always confident of God’s love.
Gag a maggot.
Holy crap, TV. I agree with probably 95% of what you are saying, and yet I want you to please, please stop saying it. Please.
You could just as easily rewrite 174 from this perspective: the compassion crowd tries to see things from others’ points of view and realizes that not every situation is black and white. The PR group always seems oblivious and therefore confident of God’s approval.
I don’t really believe that characterization any more than I believe yours.
It’s easier and more justifiable to judge performance rather than motive. That’s why, not wanting to indulge in the soft bigotry of low expectations, I can’t give a pass to the Bush administration.
The personal responsibility group never seems to be offended and they are always confident of God’s love.
The same is true of bullies, pharisees, and Jim Jones’ Kool-aid drinkers.
You seem to be drawing some pretty bright lines between poeple who feel personal responsibility and people who feel compassion. Among people I know, there is almost 100% overlap, so it doesn’t make sense to me to speak of them as different groups.
Bobby Jindal complains of the Katrina red tape (which is, I’m afraid, unavoidable):
Nice link, Adam. Nice to hear something positive–despite his frustration with the “red tape.”
We got Prudence, we got Lilly, now we got some yo-yo ma from Texas, I really have to think these are not real people. It’s so easy to yank my chain. Who are you, really?
More hindsight-is-20/20, this time with respect to environmentalists:
Are there any T&S readers out there who, like me, are also fans of “The Office”? If so, you’ll find this passage on Mike Brown’s bio exaggerations, as reported by MSNBC, particularly amusing:
Brown’s biography on the FEMA Web site says he had once served as an “assistant city manager with emergency services oversight…” for the city of Edmond, Okla., in the 1970s “overseeing the emergency-services division.” …However, a city spokeswoman told Time magazine that Brown had actually worked as “an assistant to the city manager.”
No wonder it was a disaster! FEMA is being run by Gareth Keenan!
Incidentally, Mike Brown has been put out to pasture, so to speak. And even as adept an accountability deflector as Donald Rumsfeld, no “blame-gamer” he, said today that local and state officials shouldn’t be the focus of attention because they “were in fact victims and not able to respond.”
This in contrast:
* 10 k LDS volunteers, 3k immediately.
* 4k people sheltered in 20 LDS buildings.
* 40 trucks of supplies.
That is hilarious, Jeremy! Thanks for sharing. One distinction between Michael Brown and Gareth Keenan, though, is that Gareth Keenan actually knew what he was doing in an emergency – even if he didn’t carry the woman in the wheelchair all the way down the stairwell.
STOP! Move a-way from the cookie jar! I love that show.
Ack. Sorry for the bad tags. The link to Gareth bleeds over into the next paragraph, where the words “out to pasture” were supposed to send you here.
Of course! Gareth was in the (territorial) army!
185. How do you account for someone in the Bush administration accepting responsibility or at least not blaming someone like state and local officials. Is this some sort of clever Karl Rove strategem to make W. and his administration look mature? These sneaky Republicans, they are th very devil.
Well, at first you try to treat with local antiseptic, but if that doesn’t work you eventually have to amputate before the blame spreads. See Richard Clark, George Tenet, Colin Powell, et al.
Utah — the new New Orleans?
Save your breath. Once one assumes bad faith, they can’t be convinced otherwise.
annegb: “…now we got some yo-yo ma from Texas.”
Actually, Yo-Yo Ma plays the cello–though I don’t texasviolinist would be offended by the comparison in talent.
I love The Office, too. Has anybody seen The Forty Year Old Virgin?
Manean, I am really proud of those statistics. I am so proud of us. It’s nice to feel that way instead of something I feel I must explain.
Yo-Yo Ma plays the cello? Nah…you got him mixed up with somebody else. I know this.
Sorry, annegb — cello it is.
Still blaming after all these years
Still gloat’n to cover all my fears
Still drink’n to drown it in my beers
Still cuss’n with all my peers
Still sinning cause it feels so good
Still hide’n from the Bishop of the hood
Still lying cause I knew I could
Still mockin the way I should
Still Scream’n so I can’t hear
The voice of reason in my ear
Still Point’n cause I like to Jeer
The poor and weak so very near
Still reading to make the date
The act is small, the meaning great
Perhaps a sift fore it’s to late
The Mormon book could make or break!
Harold B. Curtis
No, I’m positive you guys are wrong, he doesn’t play the cello. I saw him on TV just the other day.
I have several CDs by (or featuring) yo yo ma and he plays cello on every single one.
Ivan, are you sure you know what a cello is? It different than the bass or the violin, but they look the same. I know what I’m talking about. He is sometimes confused with another guy.
now I’m questioning your sanity.
Here – I’ll list the credits directly from some of my CDs:
Bobby McFerrin – vocals
Yo-yo Ma: Cello
Mark O’Connor – Fiddle
Edgar Meyer – Bass
Yo-yo Ma: Cello
Mark O’Connor – Fiddle
Edgar Meyer – Bass
Yo-yo Ma: Cello
From the official Yo-Yo Ma website: (http://www.yo-yoma.com/)
“The many-faceted career of cellist Yo-Yo Ma is testament to his continual search for new ways to communicate with audiences, and to his personal desire for artistic growth and renewal”
“His latest recording is Vivaldi’s Cello, which features his first recordings of concertos and new transcriptions of the music of Antonio Vivaldi, with Ton Koopman and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra.”
Congartulations to BYU for being the fittest university in the nation, according to Mens Fitness Magazine. Go Cougs.
Is it politically incorrect to note who the two fattest universities in the nation are?
No I am not going to say it I just can’t. It just isnt right.
I have a question……if I wanted to make a health fitness donation of $10.00 to say the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and the University of New Orleans, do I note it on the humanitarian aid line of the donation slip at church, or do I buy two $10.00 debit cards and mail them to Mike Brown in care of Fema?
Annegb — Ivan’s right. You must be thinking of somebody else.
Speaking of music — Harold, are you embarking on a country music career?
That was just my experiment on how easy it is to yank somebody’s chain with an erroneous conclusion.
So…now I know it can truly be done. Then I have to think back when people argue hotly and wonder who is right? And think how easy it is to change the subject and get people supporting their argument.
Hmm…I must ponder the implications.
202 Your characterization of Lousiana college student is lacking in compassion.
Like I said, somebody like TV talks absolute crap and get all these responses as we argue and somebody writes something like –oh, I don’t know, lots of people write good stuff–and we ignore them.
What’s up with that? There has to be something profound about that. Some commentary on the blog essence or spirit or something.
Heck, I flunked music in high school. You know how stupid you have to be to flunk music?
depends on what music class you’re taking. If you flunked ear training, aural dictation and/or sight singing, than you can be a genius and still flunk those classes.
As per posts #170 and #158
Sorry I didn’t get back with you earlier, (busy week with trying to make a living, having one of our married daughters give birth to our 13th grandchild, going to the temple on stake temple night, and taking care of my 90 year old mother in law that stays with us.) Blast I should have gotten my home teaching visits made this week too, but just didnt quite get done. I’ve got to check up on my home teaching families Book of Mormon reading. We have guys in our High Priest Group who are 179 pages away from being done. The ward is really cooking over the prophets council.
Anyway as pertaing to weather modification, I believe it to be a real and ongoing thing. In all likely hood the attack on our southern boundaries was a terroist attack against the soverignty of the United States of America. Most of the larger nations have this technology, and probably other nations have developed or purchased it. I have much to say on this from a theological viewpoint, but won’t in favor of just suggesting to you to pay a little extra attention next time going through the temple to the stated designs, purposes and ambitions of he who reigns with blood and horror. Remeber the scriptures are replete with examples of terrorist governments God allows to wreck havoc on his people who are not listening to his servants warnings. Read again President Hinckleys First Presidency message on the Book of Mormon and note what he says about one of lessons of the Book of Mormon and its teachings on evil government. Also reread the Proclamation on the Family and the warning of Gods judgements, also reread Pres. Hinckleys talk in October 1998 to get our Houses in order, where he used the imagery of seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. It will have been seven years of plenty as of this October. Anyway its all my opinion and what do I know. But then again I might know quite a lot about some things.
This is a paradigm buster, but it certainly explains alot of weather weirdness. As far as paradigms go we in the church should understand new paradigms better than any other people.
Below are a few sites and individuals who address this issue. Hang on to your hat The wind she is a blowing.
View the Government site of the Haarp weapon
Then read about Tom Bearden
Then spend a few days finding out who James McCanney is and what he has to say
Then spend some time looking at modified clouds on meteorologist Scott Stevens
Then we will talk about weather modification, secret combinations and the sifting process of reading the Book of Mormon, and doing it by the deadline. Remember by small and simple things…….
Harold B. Curtis
Wow! Then I read you’re comment correctly the first time. (see comment #156)
I’m one of those bury-my-head-in-the-sand kind o’ saints. I prefere watching a Disney classic to studying conspiracy. I’ve entertained a lot of fun ideas–some real doozies, mind you, that were strangely plausible–but as of late I’ve become more concerned with not following in the footsteps of my father who lives like a hermit in the the middle of the Sierras and listens all day long to protest radio piped out of Berkley. All day! From sun up to sun down.
That said, I think I’m resigned to the idea that when secret combinations become powerful enough to take thousands of lives they tend to become more visible. It may not be possible to track every individual involved, but the organization they belong to begins to manifest itself plainly as it becomes more powerful–so plainly, in fact, that they soon fear not to be met on the open battlefield. I guess what I’m saying is that when it comes to conspiracy–a la BoM–I have to see (a little) to believe.
Guys, if you check Harold’s references, it will scare you to death.
Either because the governments of the world are all going nuts or there are a lot of nuts in the world who believe all this stuff. Either way it’s pretty scary.
I think I’m with Jack.
I wish I could say I will be more skeptical overall but I pretty much think I will be just as easily sucked in as usual.
About 900 comments ago, someone asked what happened to the poor camp. Here’s info:
William G. Hartley, “How Shall I Gather?” Ensign, Oct. 1997, 5
It was well said. I’ve just been researching 72 hour kits and the like and its interesting to notice that they all say that it takes between 72 and 96 hours for the rescue/recovery teams to get into an area that has been hit by a disaster such as this. From what I could tell, that is how long it took this time.
Yes, the government could’ve gathered up its public transportation to assist the evacuation of the residents who did not have the ability to make it out on their own power, but as for the rest, the ones in the Superdome who went in thinking it was a party…
Yes, I’m sure that there are parts of the aftermath of this disaster that could’ve been lessened.
No, I don’t think the govenrment has any control over what the weather does. If it did, I’m sure they would make it rain enough in the deserts that they could be fertile; remove inversions that cause tornadoes and hurricanes; make flight conditions perfect for air traffic…
Yes, the world is full of nuts. Some of them even make it to public offices.
All in all, my opinion in this matter is, if anyone is to blame it is everyone’s fault for this disaster becoming the fiasco it has become. And instead of bickering over who to blame, we need to buckle down and rebuild.
Just a note……….Here comes Rita and Phillip is on the way also……….Hurricanes brewing
Harold B. Curtis
You guys, in the light of Hurricane Rita and the one on the west coast, perhaps we should take Harold’s theories more seriously.
The first link is to a place that studies how radio broadcasts are affected by the ionosphere, and how solar flares can affect power transmissions. It’s mainstream science.
I just spent a while reading that Tom Bearden thing and I have to say that it’s complete bunk. I can’t tell if he believes it or not, (he may be clinically paranoid) but several of the things he says are totally scientifically unsupported and completely outlandish. Since this is from New Zealand, we don’t have any way to judge the venue, if is it fringe or mainstream. But instead we can just judge by the content.
First he claims the Soviets had some way of directing energy from a distance without sending anything through the intervening space. He discusses the vacuum energy, which is indeed great if there were some way to tap into it. So far it sounds plausible and science-y. But quite apart from the science, just examine what he says about the cold war. If the Soviets had some hugely powerful action-at-a-distance vacuum energy weapon not long after the Cuban Missile Crisis, why did they lose the cold war? Why would our missile defense program have upset them? If they could reach inside our own missle silos and explode our own weapons in place before they ever launched? It’s just not plausible.
Next he skips from there and says they have a way of copying the disease state of one cell and making it happen in every other cell of the body. And he claims they tested it and killed 3 diplomats, that they were beaming microwaves into that embassy. So was it microwaves or the vacuum-energy-action-at-a-distance weapon that killed the diplomats? Notice that he’s skipped directly from something that has crude macro effects, like a bomb, to something requiring enormous finesse, copying a disease state from one cell into trillions of others. Microwaves cook things, we’re all very familiar with how they act. They don’t copy disease states, they transmit heat via electromagnetic waves, just like a sun lamp, but using different frequencies. The energy is there in the intervening space around the transmitter, which is why our microwave ovens have shielding. It’s not quantum vacuum energy.
Next he claims that Gulf War syndrome was evidence of use of the same weapon, causing disease from a distance. So wait, were the Soviets our foes in the Gulf War? And wouldn’t it be more effective to kill enemy soldiers outright than induce some long term slow acting disease process? Again if they could do this, why didn’t they use it to actually kill US soldiers and win the confrontation? This isn’t a plausible claim either.
There’s plenty that we need to be worried about in the future, and secrecy in government and covert operations is a bad thing that doesn’t go well with democracy. I’m all for getting rid of the secrets in a free society. But the claims of this man are not plausible to even a quick surface check of sensibleness. I believe I could invent a paranoid-secret-evil story that had more internal consistency than this, and was based on sounder science.
Okay, that Jim McCanney is quite a character. I’m not going to spend any more time on this, but I’ll just say as an engineer and science geek that none of this stuff is serious or plausible. Nobody is starting or directing any hurricanes. You’re safe to worry about something else.
I live in Houston Texas. Today we are anticipating a hurricane striking the Texas Gulf Coast up to 90 miles east to 45 miles west. Obviously we are praying for the least damage possible. But I am also angry at the mass hysteria that has been created. Hysteria now is the biggest threat to public safety.
There is no doubt that evacuation from areas within the possible storm surge must begin before there is any certainty of the location of landfall. The investment in infrastructure to shorten this process would be enormous. But the cost of evacuation isn’t trivial either. So its a big guessing game. Its critical that evacuation be limited to those who need to leave. There is no way that any major city can provide a 48 hour escape from the city. We cannot afford it.
The problem we are experiencing is that all the ninny politicians spooked by Katrina have encouraged a voluntary general evacuation. This is pure sheer stupidity. There is no need for a voluntary general evacuation. Every outbound freeway out of Houston is a parking lot. We have reports of people who should evacuate (from the storm surge area) spending 12 to 18 hours going 30 miles. ]. They are stuck in traffic created by scaredy cat nonnies.
Our “take no risks” “big-daddy government” mentality has done it again. It has created a nightmarish situation.
It has convinced me that in the peak of a crisis the we are all responsible for our safety. The evacuation of the surge zones was wise. The general evacuation was a monstrous folly and heads should role. I am afraid though that the media and the local governmental officals are all going to pronounce themselves heros and we’ll never hold them accountable.
Andddd…..yet. We have three hurricanes in a month that destroys 25% of our oil refineries?
This is an act of God?
annegb: Yes, acts of God or nature.
The climate is getting warmer, and a hurricane is a vast engine that converts heat into winds. The rotation of the earth means that air masses that happen to be moving northwards in the tropical Atlantic swing toward the east, and those that happen to be moving southwards swing toward the west, because the equator is farther away from the spin center than the poles. It’s like a skater pulling in her arms, which makes her speed up. The air moving northward is pulling closer to the axis of spin, so its spin is sped up. The air moving southward is drifting farther from the axis of spin, so its spin slows down. It happens on all rotating planets with atmospheres. Just be glad you don’t live on Jupiter. The hurricanes there can be bigger than the whole Earth.
This hurricane season in the Pacific is unusually active too, and Hawaii had two big storms headed toward it a couple of weeks ago. What happens is there are bands of tropical winds, similar to what you see with Jupiter, and every so often they crinkle into waves which then turn into whirlpool storms. You can count about a dozen on Jupiter in that picture I linked.
The only reason we know of for the increasing frequency and intensity of the storms lately is the climate is getting warmer. So we humans do exercise a very rough sort of control over hurricanes, we think. By digging up all the buried carbon (in the form of oil, coal, and natural gas) and releasing it into the atmosphere, we think we’re making the planet warmer. On the other hand, the Earth’s climate fluctuated quite a bit before we ever started doing that, so we may just have prevented the next ice age from happening. We’re not totally sure. We’re running sort of an uncontrolled experiment in climate dynamics on our only liveable planet, which some people think isn’t a very wise use of our stewardship of Earth.
The only thing left out by those guys who wrote the websites Harold linked to was the magic carburetor that allows your car’s engine to run on a mixture of gasoline and water and get twice the horsepower and 150 miles per gallon.
If you haven’t heard about it, it’s because the government is in bed with the oil companies and they’re suppressing the good news.
I can appreciate ones skepticism of such things as scalar engineering. However skepticism is not in and of itself a rebuttal to reality. Many time’s it is more revelatory to the state of mind of the skeptic. Joseph Smith told Brigham Young on one occasion that there were many things he could tell him, but that if he did so Brigham would leave him. Brigham Young replied to Joseph, then don’t tell me. I suppose there are any number of things that Brigham Young could tell us that could likewise cause us to leave him. Of course Pres. Hinckley has to bite his tongue. The greatest example of keeping certain things from the skeptical public are the sealed plates of the Book of Mormon, plates which show all things from the beginning of creation to the very end. Obviously there are issues that would not be received by man today, other wise we would have them.
I am so grateful that God has poured out His spirit upon all flesh and not just a few cloistered scientists huddled in their monastic peer review citadels of wisdom. The thought of the journal of science, nature, the new england journal of medicine, lancet and other such good old boy publications, being the final word on what’s real, sends a cold chill down my skeletal underpinnings. The search for truth in every field is wrought with the well intended, as well as the unintended conclusions, delusions, illusions, and contusions of cerebral Pharaohs who say this is the way it is.
There is no such thing as the main stream of science, if that were the case science would die, immediately. Today’s quacks may be tomorrow’s earthquakes. I am reminded of an early church film, “Mans Search For happiness.” The buzz phrase for this movie was…..Only if you are unafraid of the truth will you ever find it.
In no place is new science received with less enthusiasm than old science. And it all goes back to old science losing its funding, i.e. turf wars. Science is all about getting funding and then keeping it. Unfortunately the reality is also “who provides the funding controls the flow of information for that which is funded.” I have nothing against science, I have angst only for the flow of information from science, the hands that control that flow may not be holy hands.
In any case I am not trying to convince any one of anything. I am suggesting that
1. Man has been made lord over all the earth and everything on it.
2. Some scientists attempt to deify themselves, just before they die.
3. Secret combinations can be found in most all organizations.
4. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and others may be dead, but there are those alive who would gladly fill their shoes.
5. Much of technology is hidden technology.
6. God allows evil persons, government, associations, corporations, and combinations of all kinds to chasten his people. The scriptures are replete with examples.
7. Billions have been expended to create weapons of mass destruction, by our own government as well as others. Do you honestly believe that you are aware of everything?
8. The confluence of events we are now seeing are startling in their strategic targeting.
9. I have a very long list, you fill in the rest.
10. Read the Book of Mormon by years end. Its all in there!
Harold B. Curtis
Here is a nice view of Saturn, showing dozens of tropical storm systems there, as well. Each of these small spots is a storm larger than any hurricane on earth. These storms are features of all rotating planets with atmospheres.
More evidence you might want to consider is why, if these two storms were generated and controlled by malevolent forces, did Katrina lose strength from category 5 to 4 and veer to the right missing New Orleans, just before it came ashore? Why did Rita drastically lose strength from what would be a category 6 if there were such a thing, to a 3 not long before landfall and miss Dallas by a good long way?
Warm oceans such as occur at the end of the summer cause warm moist air to rise. The rising air is replaced by cooler air moving inward from every direction. The air that moves from the north toward the south veers westward because of the planet’s rotation. It has to catch up, via friction, to the greater rotation velocity nearer the equator. The air moving in from the south veers eastward because it’s already rotating faster and friction has to slow it down. Add up these effects over time and you get a whirling storm.
If someone were to go about deliberately intensifying the storms, they’d have to do it by the same slow awkward means that nature uses, namely warming the entire Atlantic Ocean. The exact track a hurricane takes can’t even be predicted, must less controlled. Do not worry that any humans are affecting these storms other than possibly all our collective greenhouse gas emissions which are gradually warming the planet. Fears of malevolent powerful enemies who can control hurricanes are completely unfounded.
Does anyone know if the church is able to help out with the relief efforts for the earthquake in Pakistan? There’s nothing specific about the earthquake on the LDS website, but I’d like to give to humanitarian aid emergency relief to go toward that. It’s been three days so far with no mention. Are we unable to help because of it being an Islamic country? Can anyone tell me?
Okay, to continue with my expired equine flagellation, I want to post this excellent entry from the FAQ on the NOAA hurricane site on exactly why it’s impossible for humanity to control hurricanes.
By the way, the church website was updated to tell of the help we’re giving to Pakistani earthquake victims. The church can’t be there, apparently, but they are going through an Islamic relief agency. I’m so glad. It really bothers me that some people are witholding help for political reasons.