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Thursday, September 1, 2005

America the Ugly

"If Bush didn't have us blowing hundreds of billions in Iraq, we could have reinforced the levees of New Orleans."

"Listen to those liberals. Now they're blaming Bush for the hurricane. What a bunch of moonbats."

Dear Lord, what has happened to my country? A city of a half-million people has been destroyed. Hundreds, maybe thousands, are dead. Demon-possessed people are looting what's left and shooting police officers in the face.

And this is how we're talking to each other about it?

Comments (51)


i agree that reasonable dialogue has largely been lost. however, that reality doesn't change the fact that money for flood prevention in the region WAS reduced at the same time lots of money was being spent on our multiple wars.

some of the particulars can be found here


Just wondering if anyone has noticed that FEMA is being phased out by Homeland Security.

All events, no matter how sad, ugly, or tragic, are viewed through the lens of "my side is right; their side is stupid and evil."

It's as if these are the only lenses we have anymore.

The examples you show are evidence that we're perilously close to forgetting the very humanity of our political opponents.

How did this happen? Or has it always been this bad?

This is what I think happened: After 9/11 Americans were united as never before. We were all one hurting American family, and as awful as the emotions were, there was a beauty in our shared response. Then the Bush administration cynically hijacked these emotions to get what it wanted all along: Iraq. And that’s how we got here. The only difference is Katrina was a genuine threat to the United States, while Iraq wasn’t. Sure, it isn't a time for politics, but the misguided adventure in Iraq affects everything right now, including our ability to respond to this heartbreaking tragedy.

Yes, this isn't a time for politics so let's post about it!

Funny thing, the No Child Left Behind Act also increased government expenditures that could have gone to flood prevention. Ergo-post-hoc-QED-smoke-a-bowl, primary and secondary education exacerbated the hurricane effects. Blame the children!

Nothing like shallow empathy totally enveloped by self-aggrandizement.

i knew you sounded waaaay too reasonable to be a Kool Aide Drinker. of course we have to blame the President. it was his fault that New Orleans (sitting 12 feet below sea level, next to the ocean) didn't have good levees. it's the federal government's job to protect all of us from the elements. didn't GW pay for your raingear and your new roof? after all, we know it must have been the President that diverted money from the Levees of New Orleans for the war (and not of course for the education funding that has increased by double digits, or for prescription drugs, or for any of the myriad of other federal programs). i prefer to think that the levees of New orleans has to be sacrificed so that P-town could afford another billion dollar, mostly federally funded choo choo train called MAX

Jack--I've got to disagree with you on this one. Why should we not point out the fact that much of the aftermath (not the hurricane itself, but the aftermath) could have been prevented?

The simple fact is that those "on the ground," those who actually understood the potential consequences of a levee break, were requesting more money. And, the simple fact is that the Bush administration slashed the ACE's budget, slashed the budget of the agency that coordinates flood response in Louisiana, and shipped 3,000 members of the LANG (as well as all the heavy equipment that goes along, like trucks, helicopters, generators, pumps) to Iraq. Those facts are beyond dispute.

And, please, nobody is "blaming Bush for the hurricane." People are blaming Bush for making it a bigger priority to paint schools in Iraq than prepare for a disaster that everyone warned was increasingly likely.

I think the last 9 posts pretty much proved Bogdanski's point. Hopefully, all the posters will give some blood and send some money for the relief effort. Maybe we can at least all agree on that?


"""I think the last 9 posts pretty much proved Bogdanski's point."""

No kidding.

Especailly the stuff of "much of the aftermath could have been prevented".

What an agenda serving ludicrous statement.

A problem that was decades in the making is now a result of GW's 5 years?

I have noticed that as of this morning, aerial evacuations have been temporarily suspended because shots were fired at a military helicopter. Clearly, some folks still have an agenda.

BTW, a software firm (Coffecup Software) in Texas is asking for donations of diapers, wipes, toothpaste, and similar essentials - along with nonessentials such as coloring books and crayons.

They ask that you not send food or money to them, but to other organizations. Portable radios and batteries happily accepted. They urge you to consider what you might need in this sort of situation, and send it. They'll load up the trucks and head across the state lines to distribute them through agencies.


Can we blame Bush for taking those extra days of vacation on Monday and Tuesday so that he can do photo-ops playing the guitar with a country-western singer and making a WWII-WOT similarities speach instead of working on behalf of suffering Americans (both in New Orleans and Iraq)?

And Lars, do you realize that the Portland Metro Area IS in the Columbia River floodplain and the ONLY reason it has not flooded since 1938 is that the Federal Government built dams along the river? Are you advocating for removing the dams and letting the free market price electricity and let the chips fall where they may?

I prefer to think that the levees of New Orleans had to be sacrificed so that P-town can have cheap subsidized electricity, flood protection, and navigable rivers.

Oh, and don't forget tax cuts for rich people.

the notion that this is Bush's fault is ludicrous.

The article states that work on the levees would not be completed "for at least a decade." Which seems to imply that even if the work had been fully funded since 2001, it would not be finished until at least 2011, six years from now.

Which seems to mean that even assuming that what the Times-Picayune reported is true (and who knows with the media so partisan these days), and work was continuing on schedule, the levee improvement project would have been less than half finished Monday morning.

Perhaps a half-finished improvement could have mitigated damage somewhat, but to say the flooding wouldn't have happened is wishful thinking at best.

I hope everyone caught the photo caption on Page One of Tuesday's edition of the Oregonian, which stated that New Orleans had avoided the catastrophe many had predicted. I wonder how The O defines "catastrophe?"

I think the last 9 posts pretty much proved Bogdanski's point. Hopefully, all the posters will give some blood and send some money for the relief effort. Maybe we can at least all agree on that?

Agreed, but isn't it possible to have empathy for the victims, do your part to help them out AND talk about policies or lack of funding that might have exacerbated the negative effects of Katrina?

To Anahit/Lars:

You can keep your NCLB (it's left plenty of children behind) and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit (handout to Big Pharma). These two programs are thousands of times more expensive than the $$$ the Bush Administration and Republican Congress cut from budgets for hurricane preparedness and levee construction and improvement in New Orleans.

It’s mind-boggling that they cut these *critical* programs over a period of years where forecasts were predicting much higher than average hurricane activity in the Atlantic!

Fully funding these projects wouldn't have stopped Katrina, but it would've given New Orleans it's best chance to survive its aftermath.

What an agenda serving ludicrous statement.

The facts in this case seem to have a profound anti-Bush agenda, I agree.

Jack, I'm new around your joint, so I don't exactly have a footing, but I'll wade into this anyhow. I agree with you 100%. It seems ludicrous that both sides of the political spectrum seem intent on not only hijacking Katrina, but any major event that comes along in order to serve their ends. It's insane. And inane. And oh so tiring.

Why do people insist in couching every little thing in terms of politics? Why not keep it on a purely personal level? One of our nation's largest cities has been devastated, and their are a million individual stories to go along with the devastation. Let's focus on them, and on doing what we can to help with the situation, rather than deciding who was to blame for a natural disaster.

Er, bad HTML tag apparently. Looks like your end-of-paragraph parsing stopped the italics before they ran rampant, but still...oops.

You go, Jack.

And for all of you out there that use disasters to further your political points...I hope that you open your wallets as well as you do your mouths (keyboards) and contribute to this catastrophic disaster. Those people barely had anything to begin with, and whether that was due to their own back luck, choices, or lack of government, the fact is now that they have less than nothing...can you imagine not having a place to live...a place to family...not even an identity...the last thing those people care about is your political agendas.

Just a quick one here: if that comment represents anything like the quality of Lars Larson's, who the hell gave the guy a mike? If I were conservative, I'd be embarrassed.

But, overall, I agree with the sentiment of Jack's original thought. Sure, it's true that money was shifted out of FEMA's budget, much of it in areas pertaining specifically to mitigating hurricane damage in NO - though it has to be said that pointing out that the work would not have been completed when Katrina hit is just bafflingly irrelevant; the end-result there would be that it would never be done (and how's that better?).

At the same time, consider the political pressure 9/11 generated. How many times have you read on some liberal blog that Bush needed to take care of this or that homeland security priority - whether it's securing the ports, getting more funding to defending against bio-terror, loose Russian nukes, etc. All that costs money. And while not totally finite, there are limits to the federal budget. 9/11 made everyone go a bit crazy.

The best perspective I've read on this came with an Washington Post op-ed that looked at why we ought to prioritize natural disasters over terrorism - at least to some extent. Here's the passage:

"To be sure, America may well be hit by another major terrorist attack, and we must be prepared for such an event. But I can guarantee you that hurricanes like the one that ripped into Louisiana and Mississippi yesterday, along with tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, floods, windstorms, mudslides, power outages, fires and perhaps a pandemic flu will have to be dealt with on a weekly and daily basis throughout this country. They are coming for sure, sooner or later, even as we are, to an unconscionable degree, weakening our ability to respond to them."

So, there's that. Anyway, while I can't say that I blame Bush, I have indulged in some half fruitful second-guessing (LINK and LINK).

We have allowed ourselves to become a nation of opportunists and polemicists. United we stand; divided we continue falling.

I love hearing people blame Bush for the Hurricane. It totally cracks me up.

I'm not a Bush supporter, but I think that blaming him for Katrina, might be giving him a little too much credit. I don't think he controls the weather. But hey, maybe I'm wrong on this one.

Blaming Bush for the hurricane? Nice strawman.

FEMA is now run by political cronies who have never responded to kitchen fires, much less a disaster. Nope, nothing to be angry about there, even though the incompetence of the response is increasing the suffering and tragedy in New Orleans.

I agree with Jack. Let's open our wallets, or make in kind contributions NOW. There will be plenty of time for the blame game later.

I assume by "strawman" you mean "joke".

we have a long road to hoe if we think that rebuilding new orleans is viable when it's sinking rapidly and when we are facing a couple hundred years of increasingly worse weather

the mississippi wasn't even flooding this time

I'd love to find a reason to stick it to this administration over the choices they've made regarding Iraq. But this ain't it.

Delivery of double the requested funding last year would not have made any difference at all. The problems were longstanding, and would have taken several years to correct. The vulnerability of New Orleans has been known for many, many years. The engineers knew the system was only designed to handle a direct hit by a category 3 storm. If y'all are so eager to blame someone, find the people who decided that designing for a mere 100-year event was good enough, and that any higher standard was just too expensive.

I hope those people are alive to see the bill for recovery, and I hope the rest of us learn a lesson about the long-term consequences of short-term thinking.

I hereby pledge $100.00 of my Labor Day holiday funds to aid in disaster relief. Please provide a hot link to an automated donation site and it's gone.

Further, I challenge every other reader of this blog to do the same. I think we all share a mutual concern for humanity. It's time to show it!!


lars larson alleging absurdity and warped logic is like robert novak questioning a person's ethics.

hey lars, when you're ranting about the waste of money by the government, be sure to talk about the cost of the medicare bill, homeland security and this "global struggle against violent extremism".

please respond to me, lars, i want to see if my eyes call roll even further back in my head.

out of fear of sounding like dennis hastert, i retract my earlier comment that it doesn't make sense to rebuild new orleans

i'd rather see federal insolvency than sound like that dude

Poor Lars Larson does not remember his own dirt poor family shopping with LBJ's food stamps after "Dad" left their cozy little shack in Tillamook County for-focking-ever in mid-1960's.

History is such a BITCH!

That should get Sid banned again

The fact of the matter is, more people are moving to coastal areas of the United States. These areas are the most hazard prone - whether it be from hurricanes (east and gulf coasts) or from earthquakes (west coast).

People also are drawn to the mountains - another high hazard area with forest fires and landslides that follow the forest fires.

The NOLA scenario was a disaster waiting happen.
There are a lot of disasters waiting to happen and recovery will occur via the Federal treasury. But one of the things that makes our country great - we can live wherever we (d*mn) well please. I say that sincerely and I say that tongue-in-cheek.

The biggest contribution you can make is to minimze the risks you and your community are exposed to.

In regards to Allen's comment:
The engineers knew the system was only designed to handle a direct hit by a category 3 storm. If y'all are so eager to blame someone, find the people who decided that designing for a mere 100-year event was good enough, and that any higher standard was just too expensive.

Engineering your way out of mother nature will never work. The answer is not to design better bigger higher. The 'answer' is to live smarter with the real risks.

I think the whole situation isn't necesarily indicative of some political failing, but rather a human mistake to think we can beat the elements. I don't know what we can do about people choosing to live in dangerous areas other than expect them to understand and deal with the associated natural disasters that occur.

The levy system may have protected NO, but it also dried up much of the wetland area between the city and the sea - a natural buffer zone for storms. Better understanding of our environment might be one step to take after this disaster, as would be a recognition of our complete inability to regularly predict and prepare adequately for what nature has to offer in terms of destruction. We'll never win that game.

"There are a lot of disasters waiting to happen"

Building high rises in the most seismic at risk location is the State?

No problem? Build them to endure a 7.0 earthquake?

Then an 8.5 quake topples them at great loss.

Who's fault would that be?

to follow up on Jack's last post:

"Engineering your way out of mother nature will never work. The answer is not to design better bigger higher. The 'answer' is to live smarter with the real risks."

With all due respect, I think the folks in Holland would disagree. They've been living below sea level for a long time, and they manage the risks well. This disaster was predictable and even predicted. It was also probably preventable. (Certainly the flood control engineer from Holland I heard on the radio yesterday thought it was.) Someone decided to gamble that the worst wouldn't happen, rather than spending the resources necessary to reduce the risk.

(That's not to say that I think all environmental problems can be solved through engineering... not by a long shot. I'm well aware that nature bats last.)

I'm well aware that nature bats last.

And with a corked bat...

I agree that blaming anyone for the disaster itself is absurd. Nothing that could have been done by Bush would have prevented this. Long-term greater focus on infrastructure, maybe.

BUT. Disaster response is something I expect the federal government to do well, and for the head of FEMA to be on CNN claiming not to have known there *were* people at the convention center until he saw it on television indicates that something has gone horribly wrong. I think people have the right to complain about that.

I share with Anderson Cooper the sense that if I see one more federal official refer to desperate, starving, dying people as "frustrated," I'm putting a foot through my television. The federal government is the only entity with the resources to respond to a disaster of this magnitude. The flooding is obviously not Bush's fault. But the federal response is his responsibility.

What an utterly disappointing thread this has become. Thanks goodness for the last 10 posts or so, that have pulled this back out of the slime with a few reasonable, valid points.

JS said:
"Agreed, but isn't it possible to have empathy for the victims, do your part to help them out AND talk about policies or lack of funding that might have exacerbated the negative effects of Katrina?"

My response? Of course it's possible. But just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD. For God's sake, let's put aside the partisan arguments, valid or not, for a few days. It's hard enough to turn on the TV and see what's happening down there, but to then hear people arguing over who's at fault strikes me as so callous and unnecessary right now.

This is one of the most catastrophic events in our young nation's history. If we can't get together and put aside our bickering now, what freakin' hope do we have? It's very disheartening to me.

Thank you, Jennifer and Silver Fox for your reasonable comments.

To Alan, I'd like to point out that I don't see Holland's situation as relevant, as they don't get hurricanes. Throw a CAT5 at the tulips and those levees may not hold either.

"Nothing that could have been done by Bush would have prevented this."

Bush could have ended his vaction, stopped cutting cake with John McCain, and shown some actual proactive leadership to urge, and assign assets to assist, the evacuation of the impact zone.

I'm sorry, Bush does not get a pass on this.

Following in all caps is NOAA's warning on Sunday. Where was the leadership when it mattered?







Dude. I didn't give him a pass. I'm saying that nothing he could have done would have prevented the flooding. There have been claims that the bad condition of the levees is Bush's fault, and thus the flooding itself is his fault. That's what I'm objecting to. If you read my post and got "Bush gets a pass" out of it, I would respectfully suggest that isn't what it says.

Well, no. Hurricanes don't make it up there. There's some nasty weather off the North Sea, of course, but it is presumably whole magnitudes milder. Still, they assessed the risks and constructed a system that was sufficient to protect them from all but 10,000-year events. If you like, you can listen here.

Anyway, it doesn't matter now. (Water over the bridge?) What matters is that we as a nation start dealing with forseeable problems early, rather than waiting for a crisis to hit. We have a bad habit of leaving things for future generations to fix, and we need to stop doing that.

By the way, if y'all haven't read the link provided by "one alert reader", it's very educational.

FYI, here's an interview with Mayor Nagin.

Blogs have directed almost $400K to over 100 different organizations.

We're doing our part.

The thing is, I find the Mainstream Media more to blame than anyone. If they didn't blow up each previous hurricane to be like the end of the world, more people would have been saved.

But, that's me being my angry and cynical self.

There will be blame enough to go around. But, a chilling prediction of what would happen if a Cat 4 or 5 hurricane hit New Orleans can be found in the Oct, 2004 National Geographic. I just read it, and it is earily prophetic and based on FEMA estimates of what would happen. So, folks can blame the Governer and Mayor, when this is said and done.

BTW, Mayor Nagin is a REPUBLICAN. Think his gripes are political? They are humanitarian and the questioning going on in the aftermath of Katrina ain't about the disaster, but about THE RESPONSE.

Read Paul Krugman today folks (NYT, or linked via my blog). You simply can't argue with the facts. We should have been better prepared, and all America should be ashamed (and ready to help).

I can't disagree with Matt more. What kind of political suicide would it have been to commit "assets" (by which we can only mean troops) to "assist" with a MANDATORY evacuation? You think the partisan language is bad now? After we got footage of troops forcing people onto trucks at the order of the president, what kind of things would they be saying?


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Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
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Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
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Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
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Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria DermoČ—t - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
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Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 113
At this date last year: 155
Total run in 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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