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Monday, September 05, 2005

Round the traps

Rather than go into the details of the Katrina debate, plenty of other posts are doing that, or doing detailed fiskings of the loonier debators I give here just a few comments on the weekend's reading of the usual traps.

In Sweden the pundits have been a bit annoyed that the offer of a water cleaner and the five man operation team were turned down. I suspect that it is more that there is no shortage of hardware an operators available in the US rather than snubbing international offers. But when the headlines are "Bush accused of racism" and "USA government on PR tour of the south" among others its not difficult to see what is going on. Most of these are written by one Britt Marie-Mattsson who is the US correspondent who seems to get most of her material from the NYT and is so desperately anti-Republican she'll run almost any line regardless of the idiocy. After the severe storms of last winter, where some areas were without power for going on two months(!) the more balanced sources seem to be playing a calmer line though. It appears that the more thoughtful realise that an evacuation of a Swedish city would be a complete and unmitigated disaster. Few seem to imagine that if it happened here that the perceived failures of the US federal government they are ranting about would not be failures here because that level simply does not exist. If the equivalent crisis were to occur here then we'd be looking at total disaster since there would be no federal government to pass the buck to or await funding and manpower from.

On the NZ front the usual suspects have been quiet until the overseas sites were in with their stories. The redoutable Brown has the favoured approach, start off in anguish at the failure of local, state and federal levels. Then conveniently switch to a blame Bush mode, while demonising Fox and Poweline giving free pass to a bimbo rap artist flinging accusations of racism everywhichway. It is a giveaway when a blog is accused of something but he can't actually be bothered giving a link to specific posts, in other words what he accuses of does not really exist as portrayed. Then there are links to NYT and Salon articles who seem to be arguing in a roundabout way for an interventionist federal government, funny but I think there was a civil war over that sort of thing. That red-herrings such as Iraq are played up is a dead giveaway, but it plays well to the crowd that reads this stuff. Just like the WaPo article cited by Brown, where it comes back to Sept 11 funding changes. See, another link to bad Bush policies. It's almost believable that W wanted this to happen.

Common in many thread is the confirmation of the underlying dogma that "America" is innately corrupt and this is some sort of natural outcome. For example NRT sees everything that is wrong in America because of the failure of systems to handle such a disaster. The implication seems to be that a caring society would have managed its greatest evacuation challenge in history without chaos and anarchy. This seems to be a remarkably long bow to draw and left unsaid is what would have happened in other places. I doubt very much that we'd see much better anywhere else in attempting such a thing.

Curiously at one political party blog, Frogblog, doesn't intend on commenting about the whole thing... except by running a lengthy reprint of a virulently deranged article that exemplifies everything mentioned above. Funny way of commenting without commenting if you ask me.

The whole evolving racism thing is rather curious, although par for the course in any discussion about "the South" I suppose. About the only reference I've seen to it elsewhere is here, where the writer wonders at the care taken to photograph mostly white looters.

But it seems that everyone begins seeing their own demons lurking in the shadows, as illustrated above. Some are just more obvious than others, such as inveterate whackjobs like Farrakhan, crazier evangelists and anti-gay loons seem to be having a field day seeing biblical wrath wrought on a corrupt city, not unlike Islamofascists who appear to be a bit upset the limelight has been stolen away. But it gives communist dictators the chance to parade doctors around generously gloating in their offers of help.
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Posted by Chefen | 9/05/2005 05:23:00 pm


Blogger Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Chefen, for a physicist you have an excellent reservoir of healthy cynicism. Pity some of your predecessors in the 1950s didn't have it.

9/05/2005 06:42:00 pm  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

"The response from some of the more prominent pillars of the right-wing blogosphere has been appalling. For them, the victims are not in New Orleans, but Washington, and the most important thing is not saving them, but saving the reputation of the Bush administration. It's ironic to see them coming over all indignant about other people "exploiting" the tragedy to make a political point. It's not so long since the same ugly crowd was busting a gut to depict the Asian tsunami relief effort (which really looks pretty competent now) as an indictment of the United Nations. Scarily, some of them seem to regard the New Orleans victims as something other than real Americans."

God Brown is the biggest dork with a blog today. Where's the evidence Brown? Why do people bother reading him.

9/05/2005 07:18:00 pm  
Blogger Chefen said...

Bother reading? Well two reasons, for news or for entertainment. You decide which camp you are in ;) The jab at Powerline was very weak, even by his standards.

9/05/2005 07:24:00 pm  
Anonymous Andrei said...

Did you see John Campbell tonite?

In full bash mode re-inforcing the 'if they were white something would have been done quicker' meme.

I would love to see Mr Campbell organize the evacuation of the superdome.

How well do you think he would do?

9/05/2005 07:35:00 pm  
Blogger Chefen said...

Can't see Johnny any more, such a pity! But I'm sure if they had all been Democrats for the Kyoto protocol driving enviro-cars then Katrina would have done a u-turn back into the Gulf.

My word verification is "uqwrpeep". Looks a bit homophobic to me.

9/05/2005 07:42:00 pm  
Anonymous andrei said...

Do you think John Campbell would be as effective in his rescue attempts as Sean Penn was?

9/05/2005 07:42:00 pm  
Blogger Chefen said...


9/05/2005 08:45:00 pm  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

yeah, funny article was that chefen!

9/05/2005 08:49:00 pm  
Blogger reid said...

Blame aside, does anyone really think the response was onto it? Especially given the several days notice of the event.

Given also that one of the first things you'd have expected Homeland Security/FEMA to do (in 2002!), was to develop plans for major urban evacuations in the event of nuclear detonation. Surely that's a no-brainer, and they would have had drawers full of such plans.

Blame aside, it's a poor response, which, given they MUST have been considering such eventualities, is hard to explain. If they weren't considering such eventualities, then surely those responsible in FEMA, are complete fools.

9/05/2005 10:22:00 pm  
Blogger Chefen said...

Reid, I think you'll find much of this covered in other threads prior to this one.

9/05/2005 10:41:00 pm  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

Blaming FEMA or Bush now is sort of like blaming Clark if Wanganui or some other regularly-flooded city was flooded. Completely ridiculous.

New Orleans was clearly a disaster waiting to happen given as much of it is located below sea level and in an area struck regularly by hurricanes, yet the yocals seem completely unprepared (prison department aside).

9/05/2005 10:54:00 pm  
Blogger reid said...

I'm not blaming anyone, merely pointing out there were agencies dedicated to performing the very work that would have ameliorated the disaster that has unfolded.

To me the question is why it turned out so badly. Could it be because required resources were deployed elsewhere? Could it be because there was no urgency transmitted from the high command in the crucial early stages? If so, why, and how much did those factors affect the outcome? What other factors were there? To me, those answers are worth looking into. And if it results in an unfavourable light shining on Bush, FEMA, Homeland Security or the Wizard of Oz, so be it.

9/05/2005 11:02:00 pm  
Blogger reid said...

Just came across this apposite story.

9/05/2005 11:11:00 pm  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

Well as to the 'required resources', Mississippi bore the brunt of the hurricane but it didn't descend into anarchy despite not having XX,XXX troops poured into it. FEMA is involved there as well. Does that make their performance competent?

The reaction to the flooding of New Orleans is the big problem. Who decided not to evacuate the car-less people from the city? That was a local decision.

Some FEMA guy said it is standard part of planning for disasters that local agencies budget for ~72-96 hours without Federal or neighbouring State assistance. This was a previous post we've done. New Orleans has had literally hundreds of years to plan for a major flooding.

9/05/2005 11:14:00 pm  
Blogger reid said...

AL all this to me is hindsight, but from US sources I read it was predictable that New Orleans in Katrina conditions would have been flooded given the known condition of the levees which weren't properly maintained due to other priorities.

To me I really don't care what happened prior, my focus is exclusively from the moment someone knew Katrina was building into a serious threat to the US coast.

One of the most interesting question of all is why did the people descend so quickly into anarchy and would it happen here. Danny Watson discussed it this arvo on ZB, I never listen to him so have no idea what he and his callers came up with. But to me, that is a telling, scary and interesing phenomena.

9/06/2005 12:00:00 am  
Blogger reid said...

Respectfully suggest one listens to this MSN podcast for Friday, 2 Sep:


To set expectations: a one hour long, MSN summary. Illuminating. Worthwhile. Tragic.

9/06/2005 01:47:00 am  

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