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Debunking Katrina Propaganda

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Lasher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-14-05 08:44 AM
Original message
Debunking Katrina Propaganda
I just received an email from some Republican friends of mine. They are treasured old friends of mine, and I enjoy political debates with them via email. It was a copy-and-paste of hurricane rules attributed to George Carlin. I had seen this one before, and Ill bet some of you have also.

Im sharing the exchange with you because I thought it was fun, and Im hoping you will enjoy it too. Further, some of you might find this helpful if you receive a similar message.

I have edited to protect my friends identities, and also just because I felt like it.

Here is my first response (all responses were reply-to-all except as noted):

When are you going to learn? Any time you see an email in which either George Carlin, Andy Rooney, or Robin Williams is espousing right-wing talking points, you are looking at a string of lies.

Urban Legends

But keep em comin. Your messages are always fun.

Have you seen the latest CBS News Poll? Your boy Dubya now has an approval rating of 35%. Well, at least hes doing better than Tricky Dick.


This triggered the following response:

Right wing / left wing, I don't care who actually wrote it. It makes sense! The levies were not built to withstand the power of that storm. The local govt in New Orleans and the La state govt. failed to act when they had time. People were shooting at the rescue workers. The media was full of pictures of people stealing everything that wasn't nailed down. What is it about this that upsets you, the fact that it was attributed to George Carlin or that fact that it is true? I used to have a poster that said inactivity on your part does not create an emergency for me.

To which I replied:

The thing that bothers me is that it is falsely attributed to George Carlin, which I have proved. That means it is a lie. As such, I dont think the rest of the messages contents deserve any respect. Do you think its OK to spread lies?

Then right wing friend #2 pitched in with:

I don't see them as lies either. I had the pleasure of spending a number of days in New Orleans this past July and I was made aware by the owners of the campground where we stayed of the areas of New Orleans to stay away from. At that time they would joke about what a mess the city was, well unfortunately, no one is laughing now. They even joked on the history of corrupt policies in Louisiana, New Orleans in particular. This is nothing new, the corruption goes back over 50 years. So attribute the statements to me rather than George Carlin, and don't recall ever being accused of being a liar.

Where I live, when a "mandatory evacuation" is called, the "local" government provides for transportation to those that are ill, disabled, etc... All others usually do get out of harms way to shelters and then go back to see what happened, except those that feel they can "ride it out". These people are informed it may be up to a week before anyone can get to help them dependent upon the severity of the storm, and to store up food and water for that.

Not a single sole in this country felt poorly towards any person breaking into a grocery store, etc... for food and water. The breaking in just to steal TVs, etc. was inexcusable.

Could the feds have done better? Sure, but the first responders (the field organizations) were chaotic at best, yet everyone wants to blame the feds.


I followed with this reply:

You want to shift blame for Bushs failures onto others, and I dont think thats appropriate. Let me give you a few reasons I feel that way:

Bush installed an unqualified political crony, Joe M. Allbaugh, as his first Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director. In
testimony before the Senate Allbaugh referred to FEMA as an oversized entitlement program. He also said, We must restore the predominant role of State and local response to most disasters. Federal assistance needs to supplement, not supplant, State and local efforts.

In April 2001 Budget Director Mitch Daniels announced the Bush administration's goal of privatizing much of FEMA's work. In May, Allbaugh confirmed that FEMA would be downsized.

After less than two years at FEMA, Allbaugh announced he was leaving to start up a consulting firm that now advises Halliburton and other companies seeking to do business in Iraq. He is also helping these clients obtain contracts associated with the Katrina recovery. He was succeeded by his deputy and former college friend, Michael Brown, who had no previous experience in disaster management.

In March 2003 FEMA was downgraded from a cabinet level position and was folded into the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Its mission was refocused on fighting acts of terrorism. Under its new organization chart within DHS, FEMA's preparation and planning functions were reassigned to a new Office of Preparedness and Response. FEMA would henceforth focus only on response and recovery.

In 2004 FEMA denied Louisiana's pre-disaster mitigation funding requests. Says Jefferson Parish flood zone manager Tom Rodrigue: "You would think we would get maximum consideration....This is what the grant program called for. We were more than qualified for it."

In June 2004 the Army Corps of Engineers budget for levee construction in New Orleans was slashed. Jefferson Parish emergency management chief Walter Maestri commented, "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay."

In June 2005 funding for the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is cut by a record $71.2 million. One of the hardest-hit areas was the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, which was created after the May 1995 flood to improve drainage in Jefferson, Orleans and St. Tammany parishes.

There are those who argue that the construction funding cuts didnt matter in the case of Katrina, because the levees were not designed to protect against category 5 hurricanes. New Orleans was spared a direct hit, however, as the center of the storm passed over the Louisiana-Mississippi state line 35 miles away from the city. New Orleans was subjected to a category 3 storm with 125 mph winds. At 8 AM on August 29, an 18 to 25 foot storm surge overtopped levees whose actual height varied between 11 and 15 feet above sea level. This caused flooding in the eastern part of the city and Bernard Parish.

Late in the morning of that same day, the vital 17th Street Canal levee gave way, sending the water from Lake Pontchartrain into the city in a second, slower wave of flooding than inundated the downtown area. There was little or no overtopping at these spots and the best evidence suggests that waters remained 3 to 5 feet below the tops of the walls. A National Science Foundation study concluded, "These three levee failures were likely caused by failures in the foundation soils underlying the levees." But it also says the failures could easily have been prevented: "The performance of many of the levees and floodwalls could have been significantly improved, and some of the failures likely prevented, with relatively inexpensive modifications of the levee and floodwall system details."

So Im not going to give Dubya a pass on cutting funding for levee infrastructure improvement.

Ive received similar advice about dangerous areas when visiting New Orleans, Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, DC. Thats a pretty sad thing to know that some people in our cities will kill you, just because you happen to be in their section of town.

I did not approve of the looting. Unfortunately, New Orleans didnt have a monopoly on that behavior. Remember Hurricane Charley last year? There was looting in the aftermath. I wouldnt loot and I know you wouldnt either. But the fact is, there will always be those who will. There is a direct relationship between the extent of looting, and the length of time & degree to which anarchy is permitted to prevail.

All these things are part of the dark side of human nature, which will surface anywhere under the right (or more correctly, wrong) conditions.

You correctly assert that first responders should have done better. Bush gutted FEMA, however, without checking to see if State and local entities were prepared to start assuming a predominant role in responses to disasters. This was a reckless recipe for disaster.

FEMAs lack of planning, not the failures of state and local officials, was to blame for much of what went wrong with the government's response to Hurricane Katrina, according to Bushs Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. His assessment contrasts sharply with testimony offered earlier by former FEMA Director Michael Brown. Brown had blamed the "dysfunction" of Louisiana state and local officials for the problems that hobbled the relief effort.

From my own experience, I don't endorse those views," Chertoff said.

He told lawmakers that he found the governors and mayors of the region to be responsive as the crisis unfolded.

On September 13, 2005, Bush said, Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government. And to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility.


Here was the last reply, to me alone, from right wing friend #2.

I feel sorry for you...
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expatriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-14-05 08:50 AM
Response to Original message
1. "I feel sorry for you..." is a non-response. You won.
If he could have responded with facts, if he could have countered your argument, he would have.
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Lasher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-14-05 09:01 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. He was conceding, in his own way
Like I said, these guys have been good friends of mine for a long time.

Have you checked out the research forum lately? It was really a good idea. The Senate 2006 thread, to which we both contributed, is looking better all the time. I saw where somebody started a House 2006 thread, and I'm going to help with that one also.

Hey look, I finally contributed to DU and got a star. This feels like it did in grade school when I did something good.
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