FEMA Sends Evacuees to Right City, Wrong State

FEMA sends evacuees to wrong CharlestonAdd geography to the list of FEMA’s bumbling screw-ups:

A South Carolina health official said his colleagues scrambled Tuesday when FEMA gave only a half-hour notice to prepare for the arrival of a plane carrying as many as 180 evacuees to Charleston.

But the plane, instead, landed in Charleston, West Virginia, 400 miles away.

Oh, and can I shout a big fuck you to the talkings heads asking us to stop the “blame game.” Yeah, fuck them… this is not blaming, this is demanding responsibility and accountability and calling it like we see it. Stepping up and calling FEMA, the Louisiana Governer, and the New Orleans Mayor incompetent was the only thing that got the government’s ass in gear, and we’re only going to keep riding them now until this is over. Because we’re fed up with incompetence and now is the time to call bullshit as we see it and not be placated by talking heads asking us not to play some “blame game.”

This isn’t some “blame game,” this is demanding government that doesn’t suck.

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Fire Fighters Arrive, FEMA Says: “Hand Out Fliers”

fireman picture at KatrinaWords… cannot convey just how upsetting this is. Are we to believe that FEMA is really this stupid. Fire fighters coming from all parts of the USA to help stop the suffering are put into 8 hour training seminars, which includes topics such as “sexual harassment”? HELLLLLOOOO. There. are. people. DYING. Right now, in the streets. Everyone is bitching in moaning how there are not enough troops, not enough supplies, and basically how they need more of everything, yet it is all right there! FEMA just wont’ let it in.

FEMA. You suck. You have been given every chance to save the people in this city. You are failing.

Private charities have offered you money. You’ve turned them away.

Private citizens have showed up with food. You’ve turned them away.

Private companies, like Walmart, have offered supplies like water and fuel. You’ve turned them away.

Citizens have tried to leave the FEMA concentration camps. You’ve turned them back… sometimes at gun point.

FEMA. You have failed. You have failed your mission. You have failed the American people who actually thought you might do something. YOU HAVE FAILED AT LIFE.

And now. Fireman show up at your door to save the few people that might be left alive and trapped in their houses, and you train them as PR agents to hand out fliers?

This is intolerable. I wouldn’t care so much if FEMA was just stupid. Private companies, organizations, and citizens have been outpouring support to make up the difference. So why is FEMA sabotaging everything? I refuse to believe that all of this is just incompetence. Cutting emergency phone lines is not an “accident” folks.

I will say this again, and will not take it back. FEMA. You have not only failed, but your actions demonstrate clear criminal intent. This is not an accusation I make lightly. Every upper level manager in your organization should be tried for treason.

Please spread the word people. This needs to end.

Update: Still not convinced? How about a quote from this article.

WASHINGTON (Sept. 7) – The government’s disaster chief waited until hours after Hurricane Katrina had already struck the Gulf Coast before asking his boss to dispatch 1,000 Homeland Security workers to support rescuers in the region – and gave them two days to arrive, according to internal documents.

Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, sought the approval from Homeland Security Secretary Mike Chertoff roughly five hours after Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29. Brown said that among duties of these employees was to “convey a positive image” about the government’s response for victims.

Well sir. You have a 10,000+ death toll coming your way. I’d like to see how “positive” you’ll feel after that.


Katrina Aftermath Editorial Cartoons

While I’m still waiting for the cartoon depicting FEMA as the only levee that didn’t break (against the flood of private aid they kept turning away and keeping out of New Orleans), there’s been a few stand-out cartoons that I’ve seen. Here’s a few of them (more after the jump):

Katrina aftermath editorial cartoon

see more…


Katrina: Want Rescue Help? Show us your Tits

I don’t know about all of you reading this blog, but just when I think things couldn’t possibly get more degrading and unacceptable, I read this story from World Net Daily.

From the story:

“I could not describe how bad the authorities were, taking photographs of us as we are standing on the roof waving for help, for their own personal photo albums, little snapshot photographs,” Scott told BBC News.

Scott said there was a group of girls standing on the lobby’s roof, calling out to passing rescuers for help.

“[The authorities] said to them, ‘Well, show us what you’ve got’ — doing signs for them to lift their T-shirts up. The girls said no, and [the rescuers] said ‘well fine,’ and motored off down the road in their motorboat. That’s the sort of help we had from the authorities,” he said.

What kind of sick fuck is trying to get turned on by girls wading through shit filled water while trying to get rescued? I hope this later turns out to be a complete hoax story, but based on what I’ve been reading, it’s just another “oops” moment on behalf of the rescue efforts. It’s almost impossible to get shocked anymore. This whole travesty is UNACCEPTABLE people. And people want a bigger and stronger FEMA? HELLO? They have had every opportunity to remedy this situation and have failed. Failed failed failed!

I need some air. Hopefully I won’t have to flash someone along the way for the privilege.


FEMA Response: Incompetence or Malicious?

WING TV lisa - vicLet’s not mince words. I can understand human error. I can understand that in times of crisis, things will not always go as planned. However, at what point do we stop considering mere incompetence and start questioning whether there is something more to the story? It’s not just me, but many others around the blogsphere are starting to wonder why FEMA is not only failing at their job, but why do they appear to be hampering the rescue efforts of relief organizations and private citizens? They obviously need the help and are even crying for help, yet they have turned away almost all assistance. WTF?

WING TV’s online newscast on September 5th may help shed some of the more gruesome details. Also, the last 7 minutes of this episode is an sound clip from an interview with a resident in New Orleans who is NOT allowed to leave. He offers a first hand account at the horrors that he is facing, including the death of a baby in his group and the unlivable conditions that they are faced with. It’s heartbreaking. Worse yet, I bet there are thousands of stories just like his.

Before you make any judgments, watch the show and at least consider the possibility that people are not just stupid when they do things like cut emergency lines. To me, that’s not incompetence, that’s attempted murder.


And Now… The Coverage of the Coverage

Slate readers responded to a call for comments asking what they hated most about the Katrina disaster recovery (part 1, part 2). The qualms seem to accurately identify how the media reacts and covers almost every story, so no big surprises:

hate the fundamental dishonesty of 24/7 coverage. Because it’s in their economic interests to keep you watching as long as possible, the networks never allow the possibility that the story has zenithed and that you can stay informed if you check back in a couple of hours. Instead, every new fire and helicopter mission — anything that looks “disastery” is treated with the same urgency as the first news of the levee giving way. Today, Sunday, Sept. 4, the networks are panning the empty streets with the same intensity as they did the crowds of victims lined up outside the Convention Center a couple of days ago

Titles that announce a news story, such as “America Responds” on Fox.

In 10 minutes of watching Telemundo, three of which covered New Orleans, I really got a better depiction of being there than I did on all the major U.S. networks that I had been watching for several hours, and I don’t speak any Spanish.

Previous coverage of the coverage: Crisis News Networks: Sloganizing Katrina, Hurricane Katrina Spares Sensationalist Media

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Rehnquist Dead; Roberts Promoted to Replace

SCOTUS Roberts nomination promotionIt’s hard to really focus on something as contextually trivial as the SCOTUS right now, but we’ve had our ears to the ground none the less. In fact the jokes tying the two together are already flowing:

[Rehnquist]’s actually been dead for 4 days but FEMA just found him.

Bush moved so quickly in nominating John Roberts to replace Chief Justice William Rehniquist, but others seem bent on raising questions about Roberts’s qualifications. [No experience, too young, no leadership] may be a problem, but there’s a resume fix, an experience so profound that it magically qualifies one for any federal appointment available. The Bush administration just needs find a horse association for the guy to run for a couple weeks. . .

On a more serious note, it seems that the most pissed recipients of Roberts as Chief Justice may be… the other Justices, as some of the other experienced Justices may feel slighted for not being chosen for promotion. SCOTUSblog thinks there may need to be a new nomination and confirmation process due to the de facto and legal differences of the two position, even if Roberts is still the nominee.

Regardless, this probably will be back-burner news for a while unless there’s some really interesting twist.

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Coast Guard Launches “Request a Rescue”

Note: this article contains dead links, the url is still in the hover/alt text. Keep the web working, curate content well!

The Coast Guard now has an automated website to request a rescue of friend or relative you know who may still be trapped in NOLA floodwaters or elsewhere on the Gulf coast. You can also get online updates once you are assigned a case ID. This should come in handy for the rare spots that still have phone service, but there’s still going to be a lot of roof cutting, door-to-door knocking and evacuation spray-painting to do considering the poverty levels here. [via Boing Boing]

As a side note, would someone from the media please get into the FEMA operations center and see just how they are mapping the rescue grid and to get an idea of what progress is being made? It would be awesome if the city map was on a giant projection screen with green and red dots denoting checked or not and water depths as varying topographical shades of yellow, but uh… I’m gonna actually bet on a big paper map with pushpins.

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Broussard, Jefferson Parish President: “I’m Sick of the Press Conferences”

Broussard on Meet the PressI know Rick already posted this as an update, but this deserved its own entry for obvious reasons.

This is simply another stunning interview (video link) that trailed right after an interview with Michael Chertoff, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, on Sunday’s Meet The Press. Aaron F. Broussard, President of Jefferson Parish had scathing words for FEMA and had more disturbing news:

We have been abandoned by our own country. Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst storms ever to hit an American coast, but the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history.

[…]Let me give you just three quick examples. We had Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of water, trailer trucks of water. FEMA turned them back. They said we didn´t need them. This was a week ago. FEMA–we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. The Coast Guard said, “Come get the fuel right away.” When we got there with our trucks, they got a word. “FEMA says d on´t give you the fuel.” Yesterday–yesterday–FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards on our line and says, “No one is getting near these lines.” Sheriff Harry Lee said that if America–American government would have responded like Wal-Mart has responded, we wouldn´t be in this crisis.

[…]I just repaired a breach on my side of the 17th Street canal that the secretary didn´t foresee, a 300-foot breach. I just completed it yesterday with convoys of National Guard and local parish workers and levee board people. It took us two and a half days working 24/7. I just closed it.

[…]Nobody´s coming to get us. Nobody´s coming to get us. The secretary has promised. Everybody´s promised. They´ve had press conferences. I´m sick of the press conferences. For God sakes, shut up and send us somebody.

For some reason though, he wants to give FEMA more power and more money, which is just ludicrous. We’ve been throwing power and money at FEMA for years (and the DHS when they swallowed FEMA after 9/11) and they finally showed that they are just a giant paper tiger that causes amazing amounts of harm by being in the way and not letting the help in. And we should give them more power and money? Give me a break.

Reader Lenny Zimmerman, resident of Jefferson Parish, gave this email account:

I’m currently in Abita Springs, which is part of the Covington/Mandeville area on the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain. I live in Metairie in Jefferson Parish, which is a suburb of New Orleans, directly to the West. I live maybe 5 miles from the 17th Street Canal (but on the unbreached side.)

Being in Metairie will pretty much mean being incognito for a while, so there’s little I can do. As for refugees… well I guess you can say that I AM one of those, so the comments I’ve been posting on your site and Liberty For Sale are not at all uncommon of the feelings of many of us. Although I am an evacuee, not one of those who got stuck in the city. At any rate, I’m not certain how I want to handle things right now.

I’m extremely unhappy about how things are being handled in Jefferson Parish. We will be let in starting at 6 am (and ending at 6pm, since that is when “curfew” starts) tomorrow. We will be let in Tuesday and Wednesday as well, but they are asking us to leave no later than Thursday morning. I have work commitments that I can follow (so I can finally be sure I still have my job) but I am sorely tempted to stay to report on what “martial law” is like for a law abiding citizen who must live under those conditions. I’d be without any kind of electricity, though, and certainly no way to charge my laptop and likely no phone (since I had cox digital phone, which I have heard is mostly all down). That only leaves a cell phone (well, PDA phone) with the barest of very slow web capabilities and an iffy car charger.


The FEMA/Katrina Debacle

Words cannot express how revolting this FEMA debacle has become. I wish I could update you on every aspect/tragedy, but there are literally dozens of new stories, posts, and articles going up every few hours. It is safe to say that at least 95%, if not all, of these stories have pointed out the shear failure of the government to do much of anything.

Let this be a lesson to everyone out there. Protect yourselves. Don’t believe for a second that FEMA is going to save your ass in times of crisis. Trust your friends, family, and close neighbors.

In the mean time, here’s a shotgun style list of the creme de la obscene in no particular order.

Katrina cop looters

There is a huge shortage of cops everywhere to catch the looters… except the cops at walmart who are looking for a new pair of nikes. Granted, some are stealing necessities, while others are just stealing out of greed.

Now we all know that politicians like photo ops, but can you imagine setting up a food distribution only for the duration of the photos? Sorry folks, we need to take this food back.

Ahh, the irony! It burns! Did you know september is national preparedness month? It’s sponsored by the American Red Cross and the Department of Homeland Security. You haven’t heard of it? Perhaps they forgot to send out the press release.

It’s good to know that the contracts for cleanup and reconstruction include such fine organizations like Halliburton. Hey Cheney, tell Bush to back off and let some more destruction happen. That way, more contract money for you!

Even the children could be terrorists. I mean, why else would the military be frisking children that they are trying to save? Those muslim terrorist sure are sneaky, training our 4 year olds from 4000 miles away.

Hey you stinking survivors. You better not start eating that emergency food before the First Lady shows up!

But Bush is doing a fine job. I mean, he says he can still handle Iraq and Katrina. I’m glad our President can multitask so well.

You remember how this was “national preparedness month” run by red cross and the department of homeland (in)security? Well, homeland security still won’t let the red cross in.

WARNING. Some graphic pictures are finally coming in. Death is never pretty, so be forewarned. Update: more photos.

You’d think with all the support pouring in from around the country, that some of the few national guards wouldn’t be playing cards while people are dying all around.

I could go on and on, but I getting close to punching my computer monitor out of sheer anger. Basically put, the severity of this tragedy has been amplified, not diminished, by FEMA. The outrage is all around this country. Even the mainstream media is beginning to become sickened by the whitewashing and the lies.

I gotta go vent. Please spread the word. This is far more serious than I originally thought possible.

For more information (big link lists), go to:
Katrina Mistake List
What Really Happened.

Again. Get the freagin word out.

Update: While I disagree with this guys desire to “empower FEMA”, this video clip shows just how little the government actually cares for the citizens. It’s highly emotional at the end, and to the point.

Update: Apparently, the looting cops are being questioned. I hope they get the 2 shown on the video at Walmart, though it’s a small and trivial worry when compared to the rebuilding of New Orleans.


Crisis News Networks: Sloganizing Katrina

FOXNews Katrina televisionOh come on, we all knew it was just a matter of time until they started giving the evacuation and relief effort some patriotic jingoist slogans, or at least some clever phonetic alliteration. Here’s the one’s I’ve seen so far with my own comments:

FOX News – America’s Challenge
We love being reminded what country this happened in, by gosh we shore do.

MSNBC – Katrina: Crisis and Recovery
Kinda blah, gets the point across but not an official sloganizing. Maybe covering the event is their priority, who knows.

CNN – Sudden Fury: In Katrina’s Deadly Wake
Not actually sure if this is the official slogan, but you gotta hand it to CNN for realizing just how dire their slogan response was after 5 days that they came up with this mouthful.

Can anyone help us with news about how they’re sloganizing the gas price crunch? Leave it in the comments and we’ll update.

Previously: Hurricane Katrina Spares Sensationalist Media


Katrina and the Libertarian Party

Tim West was complaining earlier this week about the silence on Katrina at LP.org and offered his own, but what sums it up best is one of the comments left on an unrelated post:

Wow — when it comes to hurricane relief, it now appears that the only entity slower to respond than the federal government is… the Libertarian Party.

Websites all over the country now have links to Red Cross et al for people to donate to hurricane relief. Oh yeah – the LP certainly wouldn’t want people to donate to anyone other than the LP, would they?

I guess charitable voluntarism is a nice thing to have in the platform, but something the national LP can’t practice in real life.

Ouch. I would suggest switching the splash banner on the front page to a link to a charity list.

Update: Tim West is asking in another post. So is Third Party Watch, saying: “Nothing about Hurricane Katrina and nothing about the huge developments on the Supreme Court. Weird.”

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NOLA Exodus in Full Swing… Thanks to Iraq War?

NOLA supplies arrivingIt looks like there’s finally just enough support in place to get people the fuck out of New Orleans, secure the situation to a reasonable modicum, get food and supplies to the thousands of refugees, and finish the search and rescue operation. Six days in and we’re finally starting to see some calm restored. This was a government screw-up on a massive scale no doubt, but we’re just grateful to see that there is finally some improvement and headway being made.

But what really gets my gall is how the republican spin on this is shaping up and latching onto Iraq once again. The libertarian republicans have got to have the most bizarre praising of the Iraq War I have ever seen. Check out this press release they sent out linking Katrina and the war in Iraq:

CNN and Fox News are now showing scenes of American Military Troops storming into New Orleans and other Katrina ravaged areas of the Gulf Coast. The “Cavalary has arrived” screamed the Mayor of New Orleans and City Residents.

These Troops are War Ready. Many fresh from fighting in Baghdad.

They are used to misery and terribly demanding situations. This, in contrast to fresh, green National Guardsmen who have never seen combat and who have been widely criticized for their lackluster and late response.

What’s starting to become clear is that the War in Iraq has proved to be a positive in a way that no Americans ever imagined; Preparedness for Natural Disasters.

“This doesn’t mean we should be intervening in every Nation in the World to boost Military Prepardness, every little conflict. But it does show that in this one instance the War in Iraq has proved incredibly helpful to the Citizens of New Orleans…” Says Rick Ariazi, Michigan Neolibertarian, former Volunteer Aide to MI State Rep. Leon Drolet and former long-time Michigan Republican Liberty Caucus Chairman.

Ironically, many Anti-War Cindy Sheehan/Michael Moore types, and sadly their allies in the Anti-War Wing of the libertarian movement, have been bashing Bush and our Military Troops in Iraq.

It is now clear for anyone who has been watching the tragedy unfold on CNN and Fox that the Cavalry has finally arrived and they are War Prepared Troops offering greater assistance to those aflicted than the locals.

How do the Sheehans and the “Lew Rockwell/Justin Raimondo types in the Anti-War Wing of the libertarian movement respond to the charge that their actions in opposing the War in Iraq are now contributing to the hurt and suffering and even death in New Orleans in the Gulf Coast? [emphasis added]

Holy fuck… how can they possibly praise the Iraq war at a time like this? Please tell me this is some clever fucking satire and I just don’t get it. Because if the new metric for supporting the Iraq War (“Preparedness for Natural Disasters”), then I applaud them for being able to channel Nostradamus back in late 2002. Who should we invade to start preparing our troops for when the big one hits California?

I would reply with a well-formed response to that rhetorical bullshit at the end, but instead I’ll just thank them for having the balls to finally use the troops stationed in Iraq to save American lives from an actual looming crisis.

Update: The American Red Cross has a FAQ up that confirms FEMA still won’t let them into NOLA. Considering that the pace of removal of refugees is quickening, this may no longer be that big of an issue, but you better believe it’s more proof of FEMA’s massive failure to provide aid to the people being kept in the city for 6 days.


I need 500 buses, man…

Here is the caption for the AP photo above:

An aerial view of flooded school buses in a lot, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2005, in New Orleans, LA. The flood is a result of Hurricane Katrina that passed through the area last Monday.

Here is a segment from the overplayed diatribe that the Mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, gave yesterday to radio station WWL-AM. The emphasis is mine:

WWL: What do you need right now to get control of this situation?

NAGIN: I need reinforcements, I need troops, man. I need 500 buses, man. We ain’t talking about — you know, one of the briefings we had, they were talking about getting public school bus drivers to come down here and bus people out here.

I’m like, “You got to be kidding me. This is a national disaster. Get every doggone Greyhound bus line in the country and get their asses moving to New Orleans.

That’s — they’re thinking small, man. And this is a major, major, major deal. And I can’t emphasize it enough, man. This is crazy.

I’ve got 15,000 to 20,000 people over at the convention center. It’s bursting at the seams. The poor people in Plaquemines Parish. … We don’t have anything, and we’re sharing with our brothers in Plaquemines Parish.

It’s awful down here, man.

I heard that, then found the photo above, and just couldn’t believe what I was seeing.


I just read about this story:

The first busload of New Orleans refugees to reach the Reliant Astrodome overnight was a group of people who commandeered a school bus in the city ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and drove to Houston looking for shelter. [HoustonChronicle.com]

See Mayor… the people could have used those buses themselves…

Another update:
I didn’t think I would have to say that the buses in the photo should have been used BEFORE the hurricane, but apparently I do. Obviously the buses in the photo are useless NOW. Unfortunately, lessons have been learned the hard way, and I can bet that the NEXT time (Yeah, I’m sure there will be a next time after we rebuild) you won’t see any buses in that parking lot.

This photo really pissed me off. I couldn’t believe that a plan was never created to use them for situations like this. While searching for a reason, I found an article posted in November of last year by Shirley Laska of the Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology titled “What if Hurricane Ivan had not missed New Orleans?” Here is an excerpt from this amazingly prophetic piece about what occurred when Hurricane Ivan buzzed New Orleans last year:

Residents who did not have personal transportation were unable to evacuate even if they wanted to. Approximately 120,000 residents (51,000 housing units x 2.4 persons/unit) do not have cars. A proposal made after the evacuation for Hurricane Georges to use public transit buses to assist in their evacuation out of the city was not implemented for Ivan. If Ivan had struck New Orleans directly it is estimated that 40-60,000 residents of the area would have perished. (emphasis added)

Read the whole article when you get a moment: What if Hurricane Ivan had not missed New Orleans?

Update by Stephen VanDyke: Coyote Blog calls it a missed opportunity and blames the local government for not using them, saying:

The city declared a mandatory evacuation. Why then did it stick tens of thousands in the Superdome, right in the middle of town, rather than evacuate them with the assets they already owned in quantity?

Some critics are calling it a racist plot. If we rely on Coyote’s Law, the most likely answer is incompetence and stupidity.

Yet ANOTHER update:
Drudge Report just posted the same photo I did on this post and is running the following tagline: WHY DIDN’T YOU DEPLOY THE BUSES DURING THE MANDATORY EVACUATION, MAYOR?…

And then quotes the following from the Louisiana disaster plan, pg 13, para 5 , dated 01/00:

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

This will come back up later if it isn’t addressed by the mass media outlets now…


New Orleans Mayor Fuming Over FEMAilure

Note: this article contains dead links, the url is still in the hover/alt text. Keep the web working, curate content well!

Katrina, NOLA rescue operationsThis is an incredibly candid and emotional interview with Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans. Boing Boing and a few other have high-traffic links to the uncensored interview, but here’s a great snippet I transcribed from the end:

This is ridiculous, I don’t want to see anybody do any more goddamn press conferences. Put a moratorium on press conferences. Don’t do another press conference until the resources are in this city. Then come down to this city, and stand with us when there are [so many] military trucks and troops that we can’t even count [them]. Don’t tell me 40,000 people are coming here. They’re not here. It’s too doggone late. Now get off your asses and let’s do something, and let’s fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country.

I’m getting sick of the posturing and bottlenecking by FEMA and the federal government. Right now they need to get the hell out of the way if they can’t handle this, and get Red Cross and the dozens of charities in there to help. And get those hundreds of private airboaters being held up by FEMA, that are loaded with food and supplies, into New Orleans to help distribute aid and finish the rescue.

Because right now, the politicians, and FEMA in particular are failing, and their incompetence is getting people killed every day.

Update [linked in the comments by Rick]: Senator David Vitter (R-LA) is saying the deployment of 40,000 troops is far too slow (he wants regular troops, which requires an act of Congress and is still slow) and gave the federal government a grade ‘F’ for its response to the disaster so far.

Which begs the question: Why is it we can invade, topple and occupy a foreign nation in under 48 hours, but it takes nearly a week just to get 40,000 troops to Louisiana to respond to a disaster?

Update [via Knappster]: Crash Landing weighs in and calls it a government disaster:

Make no mistake. When New Orleans appeared out from under Katrina, it was mostly cosmetic damage. Lines down, roof shingles scattered and the normal aftermath of a good sized hurricane. It was annoying but it wasn’t a disaster. What happened in the hours AFTER Katrina was a completely man-made catastrophe. It started years ago when people gladly accepted that the government can protect them.


The Fair Tax – Same old problem with a new face?

I’m about three-quarters of the way through Neal Boortz and John Linder’s NY Times Bestseller “The Fair Tax Book” and can’t say that I agree with their endorsement of the “Fair Tax Act of 2005.”

While researching alternative perspectives of the FTA I found an article written by Laurence Vance of the “Ludwig von Mises Institute,” an Alabama-based Libertarian think-tank, where he points out the “real problem” with this proposal by using FairTax.org‘s own words with my emphasis:

We are not calling for elimination of federal taxation, which would be irresponsible and undesirable. Nor does our endorsement call for reduced federal spending. The tax reform plan we endorse is revenue neutral, collecting as much federal tax revenue as the current income tax code, including payroll withholding taxes.

The FTA does not eliminate the IRS, it renames it. The FTA does not reduce government spending it actually creates language making it EASIER for government to increase taxes later on. It does not repeal the 16th amendment (Which requires a Constitutional Amendment) but provides Congress with the ability to implement the income tax again after the FTA is passed!

As Vance points out in his article, even the “tax payer’s friend’ himself, Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), is absent from the co-Sponsor list for the FTA. Ron Paul sums up this whole situation quite nicely:

“The real issue is total spending by government, not tax reform.”

And that is what it comes down to. Big Government could care less how you feed its addiction, just as long as you keep feeding it!

I’ll finish the book and research the FTA further, but as of right now I don’t see it changing the way ‘the beast’ does business, just the way it gets its money.


Airboaters stalled by FEMA

Airboats in New OrleansOriginal article here.

Words cannot explain how much this makes by blood boil. From the article:

As a flooded New Orleans sinks further into despair, up to 500 Florida airboat pilots have volunteered to rescue Hurricane Katrina victims, transport relief workers and ferry supplies.

But they aren’t being allowed in. And they’re growing frustrated.

a few more paragraphs down.

On standby since Monday, the pilots — many from Central Florida — have spent thousands of their own dollars stocking their boats and swamp buggies with food, water, medical supplies and fuel.

But the Federal Emergency Management Agency will not authorize the airboaters to enter New Orleans. Without that permission, they would be subject to arrest and would not receive security and support services.

Basically, FEMA is claiming it’s unsafe to come in due to the looters. Maybe it’s just me, but perhaps these people are looting because THEY WANT TO EAT! So, these civilians with airboats come by with thousands of dollars of food that they have purchased by themselves, but they are not allowed to come in due to safety concerns. Simply amazing.

Here is the ultimate kicker. It’s too dangerous for ordinary citizens to come in and drop goods off… but it’s perfectly acceptable to enlist NBC rent-a-cops because most of our national guard is in in Iraq.

Update: Oh, and in case your forgot… the American taxpayer recently footed a 2 billion dollar bill to relocate settlers out of portions of Gaza. For those keeping score, that ends up being ~$200,000-$300,000 per family. Hmm, I wonder how much the citizens of New Orleans will get? Look, I don’t approve of the government handing out money to anyone. But certainly, it should be to those in this country first, but maybe I’m just old fashion that way.


Helping the Gulf Coast

Navy support shipThe support lines for Katrina victims are finally starting to drop into place outside of the government, and as anyone who reads the site knows, we prefer private assistance and organizations that ask nicely to the public behemoths that take it at the point of the gun.

But hey, this isn’t the time for evangelizing. Instead let’s just get down to the nitty gritty here and let you know how you can help the people who are displaced in the wake of Katrina:

Geeks / Computer Industry
This encompasses a lot of libertarians I know, and if you can lend your hand or time, there is an effort underway over at Boing Boing to install a huge network at the Astrodome and set people up to get back in contact. I know it seems like a small thing, but these folks are gonna be offline for months, and some of them may be trying to run businesses or stay in contact with relatives this way.

Charities / Cash Donations
You have your pick here. I won’t bother listing them out and will instead direct people to the massive Instapundit post on the subject. Yahoo is linking to Network for Good. Suffice to say, cash is the gift of choice.

Open Your Home
There are also some places being set-up to help people find a place to stay for the months that these folks may be displaced. We are the most giving nation in world, and if you have an extra room and can open your arms and home to a refugee, please do. The place to do this seems to be on Craigslist, with cities affected highlighted with > red <. Oh, and please don’t be like these morons (or these).


Nevermind the Suitcase on the Side of the Train

Parasite guerilla train artYou know, artists always seem to be pushing the boundaries when it comes to public expression. And Parasite (QT vid) is definitely scoring up in the top ten for pushing that boundary, for a couple reasons:

“…Parasite is a projection-system that can be attached to subways and other trains. Using the speed of the vehicle as parameter for the projected content, the projection starts with the train moving inside a tunnel. All along their journey, travellers see images mysteriously appearing through the train windows: words, aquatic animals, etc. Confusing the routine of your train-travelling-journey, your habits and perception Parallel allows you a glimpse into a different world full of surrealist imagery….”

Now, call me crazy… but if I see a bald guy dressed in all black (or anyone dressed in any manner, really) sticking something on the side of a train and walking off, my first thought isn’t that it’s filled with yummy art goodness. Then again, maybe Berliners aren’t really worried about things like that.

This isn’t to say that the art isn’t very cool… and I’m betting advertisers will eat this up and start professionally installing these things on trains at some point. But at the same time, common sense would make me suspicious of some dude just sticking stuff on the side of a train and walking off.

[via Wooster Collective and We Make Money not Art]


We need your donation, three days ago…

New Jersey PawlowskiToday I received a letter from the campaign for the election of Jeffrey Pawlowski, a Libertarian running for Governor in New Jersey, asking for donations of at least $30.00 before August 26th… Yeah, that was several days ago.

The letter was dated August 12,2005 and I JUST received it!? The letter states the campaign is trying to raise $300,000 before September 1st so Pawlowski can qualify for matching funds which, according to state law, would guarantee his position in the televised debates.

Well, I guess it’s too late isn’t it? Richard Edgar, chair for “Pawlowski for Governor” has some splainin to do!

On the front page of Pawlowski’s website an “Urgent Update!” is posted:

We’ve received many calls and emails from people that just received their campaign brochure. The letter says, “We need your donation before August 26th so that Jeff can be in the debates!”

The filing deadline is September 1st. We need time to process your donations and record the results. We need time to match your donation with your signature on the Donation Form. The sooner you donate, the more time we will have to make sure your donation is included in our deadline. Donations made after September 1 will still help the campaign to buy radio and print ads.

Please, donate as much as possible as soon as possible. Thank you.

I emailed the campaign for an explanation and to see if they made their $300,000 goal.

And the Libertarians wonder why they aren’t getting anywhere…

» Variation of the donation letter

Update by Stephen VanDyke: Looks like the Pawlowski campaign raised enough (by the skin of their teeth it seems):

Thanks to all your support, we are able to apply to be in the debates. We’re not out of the woods yet. The beaurocrats still have to examine our application, and we expect them to say we are not eligible. We may have to bring suit against NJ ELEC to compell them to follow the law and let us participate.

This qualification process has also drained our bank accounts. We need your help now more than ever. We need to buy airtime, print ads, billboards, etc. If you already gave, you allowed us to apply to be in the debates. If you were waiting to see how we did, it’s now time for you to donate.

Oh, and I don’t know whether to laugh or be impressed by their selling of political influence on eBay. I mean hell, this is Jersey we’re talking about, but it looks like the mafia hasn’t quite gotten all high-tech on eBay yet, since the highest bid item, “Christmas Dinner,” is a paltry $63.32.

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WH: Katrina to “Add Jobs and Growth to the Economy”

Bernanke White HouseI want to know what the hell White House economic adviser Ben Bernanke is smoking, because he seriously needs a reality check. Here’s what he had to say about the economic impact of Hurricane Katrina:

“Clearly, it’s going to affect the Gulf Coast economy quite a bit,” Bernanke told CNBC television. “That’s going to be enough to have at least a noticeable or at least some impact on the aggregate (national) data.

Ok, so the hurricane really whacked the Gulf Coast, but is this going to affect the economy in a good way or bad? Listen to this pearl of wisdom to see if you can tell:

“Looking forward … reconstruction is going to add jobs and growth to the economy,” he added. “As long as we find that the energy impact is only temporary and there’s not permanent damage to the infrastructure, my guess is that the effects on the overall economy will be fairly modest.”

Modest, but uh… that’s going to be modest economic growth?

HELLOOOO… MC-BERNANKE… THE CLUETRAIN FROM 1850 JUST ROLLED INTO TOWN… This was already firmly rebutted back in 2004 by TownHall, but listen up:

Why are Florida’s hurricanes a “plus”? It’s simple. According to St. Petersburg Times reporter Joni James, “Construction creates thousands of jobs, insurance provides for billions in consumer purchases, and new facilities built to higher standards might help offset future storm-related losses.”

…Bastiat wrote a parable about this that has become known as the “Broken Window Fallacy.” A shopkeeper’s window is broken by a vandal. A crowd forms, sympathizing with the man, but pretty soon, the people start to suggest the boy wasn’t guilty of vandalism; instead, he was a public benefactor, creating economic benefits for everyone in town. After all, fixing the broken window creates employment for the glazier, who will then buy bread and benefit the baker, who will then buy shoes and benefit the cobbler, and so forth.

Those are the seen effects of the broken window. What’s unseen is what the shopkeeper would have done with the money had the vandal not broken his window. He might have employed the tailor by purchasing a suit.

And that is why hurricanes NEVER help the economy, no matter how hard some White House adviser blusters on about it.


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Rebuild it, and they will stay…

New Orleans floodedYes, I’m a cold-hearted insensitive bastard for even asking this question now but, oh well…

Should tax-payer money be used to rebuild communities that reside in areas where natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes etc. are regular occurrences?

The initial estimate for the hurricane Katrina disaster runs between $12 and $26 billion. Insurance will cover some of the cost, but ultimately tax-payers will end up funding the rebuilding process through FEMA (Which is now part of the Homeland Security Department). Despite the documented abuses of FEMA funding claims in the past, is this organization encouraging irrational behavior by paying people to rebuild and continue living in areas prone to these disasters?

Somebody asked me after we experienced three of the four hurricanes that hit Florida last year and then witnessed first-hand the abuses of FEMA declarations: Is it altruism when it’s forced?

Hey, you paid for it, might as well get it back right?

Update by Stephen VanDyke: Some people may not know that FEMA requires people in certain flood zones to carry mandatory flood insurance that pays something like $250K (if I heard it on TV right). New Orleans is definitely one of those areas that’s deemed high risk.

The kicker here is that mandatory insurance is also only offered by the government, who seems to have a monopoly on the flood insurance industry.


Hurricane Katrina Spares Sensationalist Media

live report in the hurricaneNews reports are just now coming in that confirm that no sensationalism-chasing crews for FOX News, CNN, MSNBC or other large networks who covered the storm live were injured by flying debris. All crews are reported as being accounted for and uninjured. Save for a totalled CNN coverage vehicle, damage to the Hurricane Coverage News Teams was minimal and the reporters should be ready for the next on-location crisis in no time.

After whipping across Florida only to pick up steam and slam into the Gulf states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, Hurricane Katrina Coverage News Teams are blowing their last puffs of hot air and will soon be heading north to their headquarters in Atlanta, D.C. and New York to report on missing white girls in Aruba. Flood Coverage News Teams are now on the scene across the Gulf coasts, saturating the airwaves with scenes of people driving through water and wading to the market. Many of the Flood Coverage Teams are also informing us that we should not walk in the water because of the amount of bacteria, while standing in that same water. Many people do not realize that Flood Coverage Teams are above the laws of immunization.

Our award for most likely to be impaled by a ball-point pen hurling at 120MPH belongs to Steve Harrigan of FOX News, letting us have rain-specked views of danger with his leaning-into-the-wind reports. Harrigan gave us such insightful news about the hurricane’s effect on the human body, with reporting such as:

“The water is already knee-deep, and it’s already higher than when we got just here.”

“So far I can still stand up!”

“I’m getting out of here, the roof of a building just blew right at my feet!”

“The winds are very strong…”

“It’s gotten to the scary level here…”

“You can see the debris flying now. Okay I’m getting out of here…”

“Whoooah! There’s broken glass. It sounded like a window in the hotel just went.” (Harrigan then covered his eye, but since Hurricane Coverage News Teams are beyond the reach of the laws of physics, we know this was just for show)

Truly, we should be in awe of such in-depth reporting on such a catastrophic event. But FOX News also picks up the award for best coverage of locals, when they ask a resident why he hasn’t evacuated, and he answers them: “None of your fucking business.”

Wrong sir, our heroic Hurricane Coverage News Teams make it their business to cover all the significant news so they can report and we can decide, and your evacuation choices up to this exact moment is critical to that reporting… don’t you see?

Update: More coverage of the coverage over at Buzzmachine. This exchange between Geraldo and some blonde weatherbabe (I’m guessing) is classic:

FOX NEWS WEATHER BABE: The situation in New Orleans has the potential to be horrific.
GERALDO RIVERA: Would you say it could be hell?
FNWB: Uh, yes, I guess so.
GR: So we have hell and high water.
FNWB: Oh, yes — ha ha.

Another Update: (Usually) animated Internet celebrity, Foamy the Squirrel, weighs in on the hurricane disaster reports (thanks Nick!).

Amazing Redemption Update: Wow, this clip of FOX News’ Shepard Smith and Geraldo Rivera freaking out at the convention center on day 6 is just gripping. You know when even FOX is boiling mad, the government fucked up.