I was going to write something last night, and again this afternoon. I’ll try to abstract it now.

I was going to predict that at roughly American network prime-time today, as it moved through the time zones from Pacific to Eastern, the Bush presidency would collapse.

There isn’t any clever way to say this: Hurricane Katrina has become the worst natural disaster and the most titanic governmental fuckup in American history. Everything we’ve said, for years, about Bush’s incompetence, his backwards priorities, his personal weirdness and the pervasive dishonesty of his administration, is now on public view, in a way that brooks no excuses and leaves very little room for spin. And the media isn’t just angry at what’s happening in New Orleans; it’s horrified. Network anchors are losing their shit on-camera. GOP spokespeople are staring like headlit deer. The public seems nearly insensate. After all the blaring orange alerts and relentless pimping of national security — the use of 9-11 to justify every national setback, every policy initiative, every unpalatable decision the Bush administration has made, a foreign war of choice at enormous cost — finally, an emergency happened. And it was worse than we, even we, had feared.

The combined strength of the DHS and FEMA, the National Guard, and the Presidency and its powers, not only allowed a disaster to happen as though in slow motion, while warnings shrieked through the press; but even now, days later, they CAN’T EVEN GET IT TOGETHER TO DELIVER SUPPLIES into a major American city. They CAN’T FIGURE OUT how to put boxes on trucks or in planes and drop them off. For days, as the city sinks deeper into chaos. With bodies eaten by rats in the streets. This is our homeland security.

With all the cheap talk about encouraging America’s enemies, can there be any purer, more flagrant encouragement to those who wish to harm civilians here? If it had been one of those dirty bombs or suitcase nukes we’ve all heard so much about, what would have happened then? And this question also hangs: It’s just like 9-11, isn’t it? Warnings unheeded, a late, strangely toothless military response, an absent President — then later, denials and eqivocations, and aid promised but dilatorily sent. If you’d like to be startled, hunt out the clip of Bush’s first appearance after 9-11, a short prepared speech done as a touch-and-go on the way to an undisclosed location. He looks dissociated and terrified. The ‘strong leader’ PR began later. That was the face of George Bush in a crisis.

I was following a New Orleans police scanner earlier. Three trucks of water and MREs were being delivered to the Superdome. On another blog, I read that Dick Cheney is strangely missing — on vacation in Wyoming, with no expected date of return. Perhaps he’s ill; that would explain why no one in the Executive Branch seems in charge, or even paying attention. Rice is still on vacation, caught shoe-shopping in New York. The National Guard reportedly abandoned operations in New Orleans yesterday, after tangling with a couple of dudes with pistols. Today, according to the scanner, they’re back doing something until the Army can arrive. No citywide evacuation plan is in place.

But at least they got three truckloads of food and water to the Superdome. And although it doesn’t feel good at all, politics in America have changed, these past few days, in ways that will take a long time to be fully understood.


Comments: 26


Sir, I profoundly regret to say this, but you deceive yourself. You need to get drunk and angry. Your next President will be even less fit than this one.


It is a complete parallel to 9/11 though, and nearly 4 years to the day. Courtesy of Mother Nature and extreme incompetence.


Right on the money. This is almost exactly what I’ve been thinking all day long today.


I’m afraid MFB is right. The country gets the leadership it deserves, and it will sleepwalk through this nightmare just like it’s done the last 3-4 years, scared and angry and blaming everyone and everything but themselves.
Here in Germany, my wife asked me “How is it that the Americans were not prepared to respond to something like this?” The only thing I can think of to say is that no other country would be able to cope any better, but that answer sounds hollow when it comes out. This is the kind of thing that we have been supposedly preparing the last 4 years for. They’ve been “wargaming” this scenario, doing those quaint little “what it?” exercises and emergency preparedness drills and so on, and now when push comes to shove this is what we get? Martial law and people left to stew in piles of their own garbage?The problem of New Orleans was no secret. There were very specific things that could have been done to fix the problem, or at least alleviate it’s worst effects. All at a fraction of the cost of things the government undertakes. Yet nothing was done. Those who are supposed to be in charge — and those who are supposed to hold them accountable, the voting public — just sat back and relied on the hope that nothing would happen, and now here we are.


This is an unmitigated disaster.
I can only sit here and watch this slow motion disaster. I want to get on a plane and get as close to new orleans as possible then drive as far as i can till i need to wade and get some goddam water and food an insulin to these people.
I wasn’t worried about this, i assumed that after all this time, all this money and politiking that america would have plans for this kind of shit. I am absolutely stunned… I’m really starting to question wether this is incompetance or a more milignant ignorance of the needs of the poorer and browner of us. That’s how badly the government fucked this up…


Google News “Typhoon Talim” = Proof of US Impotence.
AP has now picked up the story.

“NEARLY 600,000 people were evacuated as Typhoon Talim ploughed into southern China yesterday, packing winds of up to 114mph…”

AP link

“Fujian authorities evacuated 286,000 people, ordering boats into port and placing rescue teams on standby, according to the Web site of the Fujian Meteorological Bureau.

Just to the north in Zhejiang province, more than 291,000 people were moved away from the coastline, rivers, aging reservoirs, mountain villages and dilapidated housing…”

Meanwhile in America, Patrick Rhode, FEMA’s deputy director, commenting on his agency’s performance in New Orleans, insisted that “this has been probably one of the most efficient and effective responses in the country’s history.”

It’s over, people. I pledge allegiance to President Hu. Maybe he can annex us when he visits the US next week.

To all the wingers: Hang your heads in shame, and stfu. A country you still consider “third-world,” “evil,” and “communist” has bested us.


When I’m not snarking aronud here, I work for an Australian State Government – and after 911, I was chucked onto a cross-Government taskforce that meets from time to work out policy shit for dealing with some of the issues that happen after a major attack/fuckup/disaster.

We’ve just had a meeting called for Monday morning and the email subject line was “No New Orleans here”.

So, in less than a week, NOLA has now become a worse case study for other Governments around the world.

Say what you like, it takes real talent to achieve that if you’re the world’s richest nation who’s regime has supposedly been rejigging their operations to deal with such shit for four years now.

If terrorists struck in a big way right now -like cracking a reactor containment vessel – the US’s whole national emergency/FEMA/DHS apparatus would just pop like a soap bubble wouldn’t it?

Our State Government offered on Wednesday, the same trained people-sniffer dogs and the cheap, fast, assembled-in-minutes emergency housing and water purification systems that we have pioneered, and rushed to our neighbours after last year’s tsunami. It’s been 72 hours now and the US Department of State hasn’t even acknowledged the offer, let alone said “yes please” or “no thanks, we’re right” or even “”can we get back to you?” . We could have had stuff onsite and working by now – as we did in places as far from us as Sri Lanka .

But I guess they have it all under control and so can take some time to do a little shopping as well.

However I hear the French Quarter missed the worst. I was contemplating another jaunt to the lower 48 next year and that does it. I’m be there next May injecting money into the local economy.


Whoever put the anti-wuss juice in the coffee over at CNN, I salute you. They’ve just about made up for fifteen years of gross incompetence in the last few days.

Last night, I saw Paula Zahn school a FEMA offical something fierce, live on air. When she finished interviewing him, she asked her next interview subject, a senator from New Orleans, if the senator had found any of the responses the FEMA guy gave even vaguely acceptable.

This morning, I just watched Soledad O’Brien ask Sanjay Gupta – who is at the hospital that keeps getting attacked by snipers – how come *he* can get into that area, but the national guard can’t.

The media may be our last hope of reviving a completely stultified, apathetic public. And it sure seems like they’re trying.


Well said, Gavin.


If terrorists struck in a big way right now -like cracking a reactor containment vessel – the US’s whole national emergency/FEMA/DHS apparatus would just pop like a soap bubble wouldn’t it?

Of course that’s not true.

As we’re seeing, there is no national emergency/FEMA/DHS apparatus.


NHL, I took the liberty of posting your comment on my blog (http://samsarashmamsara.blogspot.com/) and I’m asking retroactively for your permission. If it’s not OK, tell me, I’ll remove it. Thanks in advance.


I agree. And with surging gas prices and gas shortages thrown in the mix, things can only get worse for the administration. Senator Lindesy Graham is calling for a Congressional investigation into price spiking by the oil companies. It will never get taken up, but the fact that he’s talking about it is a big deal.


It is a complete parallel to 9/11 though, and nearly 4 years to the day. Courtesy of Mother Nature and extreme incompetence.

I was thinking in terms of campaign advertisements this morning. Picture this: two women having coffee. One says, “The administration has done what it could to deal with the hand it was dealt, to keep the nation safe.” (I hear this all the time from my more wingnutty pals).

The other woman says “Well, I don’t want to tell you how to vote, Susan, but the Department of Homeland Security and the Bush admninistration couldn’t deal with the hurricane in Louisiana. How do you think they would deal with another terrorist attack? I for one am going to vote for a change in the White House.”

I know it is crass to be thinking in these terms now, but Jesus, if we don’t make some big changes in 06, we’re fucked.


Increasingly, the explanation that seems to make the most sense is that the people running our country simply couldn’t be bothered to deal with this crisis. Or, just don’t care. Either one.


I think Doghouse put it well: “These people, from the president on down, are simply pissed off they have to deal with a disaster they can’t make political hay out of.”


“As we’re seeing, there is no national emergency/FEMA/DHS apparatus.”

I stand corrected. But none the less apalled.

Don’t get me wrong, I love America, some of my best friends are Yanks, and I have spent quite of time there.

But the way this disaster is being handled (or rather not) just beggars belief. I saw at first hand how Sri Lanka handled the aftermath of the 26/12/04 tsunami and thatlittle third world country was a model of efficiency and basic humanity compared to what’s going on in the deep and very damp south now.


“I know it is crass to be thinking in these terms now, but Jesus, if we don’t make some big changes in 06, we’re fucked.”

Agreed. It’s a matter of self-preservation.


I think the main problem that we’re witnessing is the result of 5 years of cronyism:

Contracts have been handed out to corporate buddies of folks in power, not to the people who can actually do the job correctly.

Money that was previously spent on making govt agencies run efficiently was re-directed to “privatizing” efforts, because in theory, “the free market will do it better” than the govt. But when you privatize just to get contracts for your buddies rather than for efficiency, you get crap.

The guy currently in charge of FEMA has ZERO emergency management experience. He was picked for the job because he was a loyal Bushite, not ecause he had anything remotely resembling a single qualification. (Dude, you can’t say “I couldn’t have imagined it would be this bad”–Disaster planning is ALWAYS done based on the WORST CASE SCENARIO! It’s your JOB to IMAGINE shit like that.)

The different agencies are bickering and playing CYA games instead of concentrating on getting the job done. When you put incompetant people into positions they aren’t suited for, this is the shit you end up with.

Regardless of ideology or policy or politics, this level of incompetance is completely and totally inexcusable.

Which means, in this administration, that Mr. Brown is due for a Medal of Freedom…


So, in less than a week, NOLA has now become a worse case study for other Governments around the world.
Shit. I knew it would be bad but to have other countries use it as a template for disasterous planning this soon… (they’ve also not responded to Canada’s offer of help)
I have a feeling historians will look back on things like this disaster and oh maybe Iraq as some of the most poorly planned, ineptly executed, bafflingly costly excersizes in history. I don’t want to play the GOP scare card but can anyone imagine what it would be like if the REALLY disasterous shit they’ve also been planning for happened or happens still?

I can see the headlines now “Small nuke detonated in middle america: Martial law declared across the country, Bush and cheyney whisked to seperate bunkers, old and infirm left to fend for themselves. Mob rule, shadow government who knows what else is possible given the way they’ve dealt with this so far.


It’s hard work. We were attacked on 9/11. Freeance and peeance. [More inanities.] God bless America.


How dare you be so racist! How dare you think you are intelligent when you use filth for words? The one on VACATION WAS THE MAYOR! Where was his plan for escape? I would of had one for people.
God bless America and all those who watch the whole story. 200 school buses could have been used in that area alone! All bus services could have been part of a well thought out plan to remove people out of New Orleans. The mayor had NO PLAN! Over a million dollars has been already given from KABC radio CA to help those in need

Forwarded Message:
Subj: Sadly, No
Date: 09/02/2005 6:46:22 P.M. Pacific Standard Time
From: timmah420@hotmail.com
To: MarieMarie22@aol.com
Sent from the Internet (Details)

My reply on sadly, no in case you missed it

Oh and marie… this isn’t something I say often, How dare you!

I thought your post was a joke, and then I realized the only joke here is the shriveled, blackened, pathetically poor and wizened excuse for hotdog filler you must call a heart.

Seriously… How fucking dare you spew that vile shit from your diseased mind while poeple die at this very moment. If I was a lesser person I would wish such hardship on you, but I’m a mature adult and realize that *no one* should be in the position of not knowing if anyone’s coming or if anyone cares or if you’ll starve to death while outside a gang of thugs are stealing guns and raping your friends and family in the street because Bush was on vacation a couple days too long.

Even if they are poor and black they’re still human beings you stone cold bitch.


Brown, of FEMA, was fired from his job on the International Arabian Horse Assoc. He essentially ruined that organization financially to the point it had to merge with another horse-breeding org., just to survive. Looks like he’s shoveling the horseshit again.


If you’d like to be startled, hunt out the clip of Bush’s first appearance after 9-11, a short prepared speech done as a touch-and-go on the way to an undisclosed location.

That was no undisclosed location. That was Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.


You couldn’t be more right. It’s unfortunate for the Us of A 4 years after 9-11.


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