Is There A Roster Available?

If demanding punishment for those responsible for the destruction of a world-famous metropolis and the deaths of thousands of people through sheer blunder and incompetence is “playing the blame game,” I only have one question:

Where do I sign up?

Aparently, I am also among those who hate the land-mass where I was born. Stupid fertile soil! Ooooooh, I hate it so much!

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7 thoughts on “Is There A Roster Available?

  1. Some of the deaths were preventable, but I don’t think it’s possible to pin blame on someone “for the destruction of a world-famous metropolis”. There certainly wasn’t a malevolent human influence directing a hurricane toward New Orleans, and despite human knowledge and power the best defense against a hurricane is still basically boarding up the buildings in its path and praying.

  2. Hmmmmm:

    I wish that your posts about crap like this didn’t appear on planet gnome.

    -Monkey

  3. Jeff:

    I’m not suggesting that only one person is responsible. There is a whole cadre of people, from top-to-bottom, that had to screw up for this to happen.

    Some of the screwups are incompetence, some are policy. And there was a lot that could’ve been done besides just “boarding up the buildings in it’s path and praying”: building levees so the city can withstand a category five hurricane. Evacuating people before the storm hit. Providing shelters for people at the start of the disaster, not the end. Not waiting five days to evacuate people.

    Monkey:

    What criteria would you prefer I restrict myself to when syndicating to pgo?

  4. Wow! While I do find the President’s statements about a blame game slightly disheartening, he is kind of right. Nobody knows the answers at this point. What good does it do to ask the President every five minutes who is to blame? None. Now, the FEMA director has been removed from the situation, but why? He was doing a fine job after the ball started rolling. No, he got removed because he was vocal and he was low hanging fruit in the blame game. Look at the costs of building something to withstand a category 5 hurricane. Few, including the Louisiana state legislature, want to pay for that. Now, few want to be at war, either, but a different story. I remember the last blog that you wrote complaining about the National Guard’s response time. Nobody wants to pay for that either. All of these things are way beyond the scope of continued funding. We are constantly assessing risk and living with risk that is acceptable. For a once in a lifetime storm to hit in the exact spot it needed to, is pretty spectacular. If we funded even all of the “likely” disasters, we would be broke. Let alone the unlikely ones. My $.02.

  5. I’m not asking the President who’s to blame every five minutes. I’m demanding that someone actually own up to their failures and take what they’ve got coming to them. And there are a lot of failures.

    While it is true that “once the ball was rolling” things started to get better, it took FEMA and the DHS five days to get the ball rolling. People can go without water for three days under the best of conditions, and then they start having kidney failure. 200 National Guardsmen from New Mexico were not allowed to go to New Orleans for three days after the request went to the NG HQ in Washington. Helicopter squads were packed and ready, waiting for orders that never came, a scant hundred miles away.

    Once FEMA finally did get it’s shit together, they went around throwing turf fights with the local and state officials (one Parish President claimed FEMA people cut his phone lines, requiring him to get the Sheriff to re-attach them and post guards — meanwhile those deputies could’ve been rescuing people).

    Thousands of S&R trained firefighters came at FEMA’s request, only to be put to work handing out debit cards — the only ones who actually entered the disaster area were used as backdrop for the President’s photo-opportunities.

    The “relief station” that Bush was posing in front of in Biloxi was dismantled as soon as he left.

    Either the Louisiana EMA or FEMA (or both) prevented the Red Cross from actually entering New Orleans because “people might want to stay if they had food and water” — this, in the middle of the horror at the Superdome and Convention Center.

    The police across the I-10 bridge from New Orleans prevented people from leaving the city on foot by shooting over their heads.

    So yeah, I think the people who made the decisions for those blunders should have to pay for them. If I go driving while drunk off my ass and hit somebody, I have to go to jail for vehicular manslaughter. If a bunch of government officials’ rank ineptitude costs thousands of lives, they should have to pay for it too.

    So far as “it costs to much”, all I can say is “bullshit”. The Corps of Engineers estimated offhand that it’d cost $1bn to build levees to withstand a hurricane greater than Category 4 (the estimate was after Hurricane Ivan, last year). Last week Congress authorized $51bn, just for evacuation, relocation, and relief for survivors. So your “it costs too much” answer just ended up costing everyone 51 times what it would’ve cost to avoid it.

    I should note that we’ve already spent $250bn just on Iraq, and we spent $440bn on the military last year alone. So by not invading Iraq, we could’ve easily afforded to save New Orleans 250 times over, or, by shifting 0.25% of the military budget into the Corps of Engineers, we could’ve fixed the levees, and saved an entire city — and the fifth-largest port in the world, I might add. Ironic, considering we’re told that we need to spend that much on the military to keep us safe.

    And the flooding of New Orleans was #3 on FEMA’s list of “three most-likely disasters,” behind a terrorist attack on New York (9/11) and a massive earthquake in California (knock-on-wood). So it wasn’t an “unlikely” disaster according to the people we pay to study disasters — the very same people that totally fell flat on their ass when one of their most-likely disasters actually happened.

    I mean, think about it: if you’ve had a list of “top three things to worry about”, one of which has already happened, what possible excuse do you have for being caught off-guard when another one happens, four years later. Four years is simultaneously more than enough time to prepare, and nowhere near enough time to get lazy. That’s why I’ve no hestitation in demanding punishment.

  6. I’m not suggesting that only one person is responsible. There is a whole cadre of people, from top-to-bottom, that had to screw up for this to happen.

    I wasn’t suggesting only one person could be responsible, either. A human influence needn’t be just one person – the deforestation of swaths of the country during westward expansion was a human influence perpetrated by many people.

    In response to your comment in general, however, some of what you say is relevant to saving human lives, which is specifically not what I was disputing. I started my comment by saying, “Some of the deaths were preventable”, which is to some degree in accordance with your views. I have some issues with your treatment of the human aspect of this, but I intentionally didn’t bring them up in the comment. (I admit as I look back that this may not be completely clear because I unintentionally meshed the ideas together in the first sentence, but I do think the basic thrust is clear.) What I was specifically disputing was that the property damage was a direct result of “sheer blunder and incompetence”.

    Some of the screwups are incompetence, some are policy. And there was a lot that could’ve been done besides just “boarding up the buildings in it’s path and praying”: building levees so the city can withstand a category five hurricane.

    (First, on trivial side, I must note that I didn’t type “it’s” and instead typed “its”, which is the grammatically correct choice. Usually I do my best to ignore these things in what others write, but when I’m being quoted I feel obligated to correct it. 😉 )

    Building levees is a valid response, and in hindsight it seems obvious. However, I don’t think a failure to build them or a denial of the necessary resources to build them is a failure on the part of people in charge, any more than the “negligence” before any unforeseeable disaster (more or less; we had at most a week’s notice before Katrina made landfall that it would [as opposed to might] hit New Orleans – many strong hurricanes might hit many different major cities along the southeastern coast) is a failure on the part of people who could have ameliorated it. (This is why I find it difficult to understand people who blame Clinton or Bush for allowing 9-11 to happen; our national alertness at the time was such that neither was really making an effort to do any more or less than was expected at the time.)

    Evacuating people before the storm hit. Providing shelters for people at the start of the disaster, not the end. Not waiting five days to evacuate people.

    These are all responses which would lessen the human impact, not the property impact. As I mention above, I’m not arguing the human side could or could not have been alleviated.

    Anyway, it’s good to be having some discussion of this; I find I’m fleshing out my opinions better by having to express them, and discussion is certainly useful after events such as these.

  7. [Sorry it took so long to put your comment up, WordPress is fucking up, and your comment was lost among 70 spams.]

    metropolis |məˈträp(ə)ləs|
    noun

    the capital or chief city of a country or region.

    a very large and densely populated industrial and commercial city.

    IOW, when discussing the distruction a metropolis, the human impact is a not distinct from the property impact, because together they form the metropolis. (sorry if that sounds prick-ish, but you started it w/ the grammer bit ;-))

    There’s mis-interpretation on both sides — I’m talking about both the people and their place, and imagining you’re doing the same, whereas you’re talking about just the place, and imagining I’m doing the same.

    Secondly, what does “national alertness” mean, and how does it excuse anyone from responsibility? How does “the nation” not worrying about terrorism all the time affect how the FBI, CIA, and most importantly, airport screeners do their job? I’m part of the nation, and have only even set foot inside an airport twice in the last 10 years. How does my “lack of alertness” prevent the FBI from following up on warnings about a dude in his mid-twenties who wants to learn how to fly an airliner but not how to land one? Likewise, how does my “lack of alertness” about major hurricanes in the Gulf Coast prevent the Army Corps of Engineers from getting the funding they need to save the city? Worse still, how does my “lack of alertness” to the threats hurricanes pose to the Southeast prevent the entire federal bureaucracy dedicated to disaster relief from doing anything for days on end?

    Lets say you worked at a dot-bomb. Lets say there was an entire department at your company dedicated to network security and another entire department dedicated to network backup and system-recovery. Lets say the board cut the former’s budgets back so far they couldn’t protect the network against some random nasty virus that was decades old, but could still fry CPUs (somehow, I know that part of the analogy is a stretch).

    Now lets say the virus attacks your network, and kills a third of your company. The entire (internet-based) company is offline for a week, while the network recovery people are sitting on their thumbs. Announcers get on the PA system to tell you that the main backup machine is being wiped. Now imagine the network recovery people telling you with a straight face that they don’t know anything about the backup machine even being on the network.

    Meanwhile, pointless, poison-pill-laden hostile takeover of another corporation continues at extraordinary cost to your company. Many people (particularly some network security people) suspect that the reason why the network security people have no budget is because the board is spending all their time, energy, and the company’s money on this takeover bid. Now, imagine that this is the second time something disastrous like this has happened.

    If someone came up to you as you were getting laid off (remember: dot-bomb, offline for a week) and told you the reason why you were losing your job was because “employee alertness” on the issue of network security wasn’t very high, what would you say?

    Would you agree, or would you say (angrily) “the reason this happened was because the network recovery people were fucking incompetent, and the firewall people had no budget, because the company is trying to pull a stupid hostile-takeover”

    You may even look at your former co-workers in line at the unemployment office, shake your head, and mention that “the CEO didn’t care about the employees.”

    Peace.

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