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September 12, 2005

A Rant About Hurricane Politics

A rant. Read on at your own peril, Skippy. Cover the children's eyes & ears, Bigwig.

The federal government is getting massive grief over not having pre-positioned food, troops, all sorts of emergency workers, medicine, and pretty much anything you can think of, in the New Orleans / Gulf area prior to Hurricane Katrina.

Well kids, people are trying to tell me there's a reason that you don't pre-position your emergency supplies anywhere in the path of a Cat V hurricane.

This is the reason.

A week after Hurricane Katrina ripped through Gulf Coast communities, federal agencies in the region continue looking for displaced employees -- and at their options for resuming business operations. About 91,620 federal civilian employees, a total that includes 28,000 postal employees, worked in counties across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida that were hit by Katrina. . .

Oh, that's nice. So there were 90,000+ plus federal employees in the affected area. Well, why didn't they help out? Surely, that's Bush's fault?

Officials said they could not estimate how many of the missing employees might be injured or dead but suggested that workers who have not contacted their supervisors are probably relocated and could be frustrated by snarled communication systems in the region.

Oh, they are missing, dead, or cut off from communications. I'm sure the failure of the telephone companies to have all the phones at 100% two weeks after an area the size of England got half- to mostly-flattened, is Bush's fault too.

The Internal Revenue Service, for example, said 10 of its 11 offices in the region are closed but that as many as five might open this week. Two offices in New Orleans and one in Gulfport, Miss., are closed indefinitely, and two other offices, in Hattiesburg, Miss., face electrical power and drinking water problems that might keep them closed longer than others. The IRS set up a command center in Nashville and worked through the Labor Day weekend calling hospitals and emergency shelters in an attempt to locate the 517 employees who worked in areas hit by Katrina. As of yesterday afternoon, the command center had not accounted for 21 of the workers, spokesman Dan Boone said.

Well, that's Bush's fault too. If he'd have been on top of things, he'd have pre-positioned more IRS workers to help the IRS workers taken out of commission by the storm. Or something like that.

Mark Hinkle, deputy press officer at the Social Security Administration, said Katrina had damaged eight field offices in Louisiana and three in Mississippi where citizens walk in to apply for Social Security cards, benefits and other assistance. Five other telecenters and appeals offices were also shut down. About 500 Social Security employees work in the hurricane zone, and, Hinkle said, "many are still displaced, lost their homes and are affected by the hurricane like others." Where personal circumstances allow, employees are reporting to work in Social Security offices north of the damage zone, he said.

You see, if Bush didn't hate old people so much, he'd have done more to pre-position duplicate copies of the social security checks, so the old people weren't forced, like sub-human scum or military enlistees, to eat MRE's in a common dining facilities. Or he'd have bought more computers for the Social Security Administration. Or sent in the Marines to un-f*** the Social Security Deficit Problem or something like that.

But still, as perfesser Atrios, smartest man on web or old media (just ask him, he'll tell you) would say, Bush could have pre-positioned troops on the military bases, more ships, more helicopters, more supplies... f***ers!" *

*["F***ers" is Duncan Black's signature line, the rather futile fist shaken at the storm, the literary summation of his life, much like Dan Rather's was "courage" and Cronkite's was "That's the way it was..." I think I prefer Cronkite's.]

An array of federal installations were damaged by Katrina, including Navy bases in Pascagoula, Gulfport and New Orleans and NASA's Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Miss. About 12,360 Navy military and civilian personnel worked at bases hit by the hurricane, a Navy spokesman estimated.

Um, so the military bases were heavily damaged... big deal! Excuses excuses. Those bastards could have been out there in the storm getting the swamped school buses out of the parking lots. And they're mostly Republican voters, so we know they're cowardly chickenhawk shirkers. (BTW, where did actual chickenhawks, the birds, go to during the storm? Maybe Sierra Club can sue to stop storm damage to them, just as they sued to stop the construction of new levees.) As Eugene Robinson bravely reminds us, "It's the Feds' Job," "it" meaning "all of it," apparently.

But wait, it gets better. How come Bush didn't use Keeler Air Force Base, not far from N'awlins, as a staging area for relief efforts, pre-positioning helicopters and soldiers and supplies there? What the hell is wrong with this incompetent bungler? Well, this, apparently.

The dorms, built to withstand the shock of hurricane winds, are in good shape. But half of the 2,000 homes on the base were destroyed by Katrina, including the home of the wing commander, Brig. Gen. William T. Lord. "Many of us barely have any personal possessions any more," Lord said in a telephone interview. "We're figuring out our personal lives, while helping the local community with humanitarian efforts, while preparing for an influx of relief workers."

WWKD - What would Kos Do? I know... posture from a comfortable perch and say, "Screw 'em... mercenaries." Yep, our gutless Air Force, led by an incompetent President, sitting out while people died in New Orleans. That's the talking point, or at least it was until NorthCom left the scene.

Lord helped lead a successful evacuation and shelter effort at Keesler. The base had about 16,000 uniformed and civilian personnel. About 10,000 drove north before Katrina hit the base with sustained winds of 105 to 110 mph for 12 hours, Lord said. About 6,000 stayed in shelters on the base, including in its medical center. Damage to the base will probably hit a half-billion dollars, Lord estimated. All the base's military personnel have been accounted for, but 24 civilian employees were still missing as of Friday.

Twenty four dead or missing? A piffle. The nerve of them to not start search & rescue (assuming they had any birds that avoided destruction) immediately after the mild breeze died down. As the pundits said of NorthCom, "it's commanded by the Air Force, and I don't think they know what they are doing."

Here's another example of Bush's and the Federal Government's failure:

In addition to knocking down homes and trees, Katrina created some harrowing moments at the base hospital. When the storm surge spilled into the hospital basement, technicians cut off emergency generators and put the building on battery power, which lasted about three hours. When the power began failing, Air Force medics kept ventilators going by hand. Some patients were taken to the front of the hospital, where a gasoline generator -- chained to the building to keep it from blowing away -- was plugged into the ventilators. Doctors, working by flashlight, delivered one baby by Caesarean section. The hurricane, Lord said, "was a disaster of epic proportions."

See? If only Bush had pre-positioned an Army combat support hospital, they wouldn't have had all those problems. Sure, you could argue that a CSH deploys in a tent city that would have been ripped to shreds, killing the occupants, but that would only prove you're a right wing Bush fellater.

Efforts like this one are too late to retrieve the blown opportunities:

But Lord and base employees are too busy now to look back. The base's 5,500-foot runway is open, and helicopters are conducting search and rescue missions across the Gulf states. The base is using one of its water tanks to provide safe drinking water to Biloxi. Helicopters ferry prepackaged meals and water to shelters and fire stations in remote areas of the state. Base chaplains and employees go out with tractor-trailers loaded with food, water, clothing and supplies to stock churches, shelters and community centers. Roving medical teams from the base, including doctors and nurses, serve people now living in shelters. In the meantime, Lord said, "the rest of the Air Force is coming to our rescue."

As Governor Blanco bravely pointed out, speaking truth to power, these servicemembers could have helped with the search and rescue operation in New Orleans. The fact that their own base was 50% destroyed, and their runways and flight operations crippled, with flooding, is no excuse. Bush could have ordered these nearby Air Force personnel to help in downtown New Orleans, and he didn't, so it's yet another miserable failure of the Bush regime...


There. Sorry to throw that load of extremely bitter sarcasm in your face, but I'm tired of hearing lectures about the Katrina disaster from pundits whose sole experience with natural disasters and humanitarian relief, is traveling to the site of a disaster to milk it for ratings. I'm tired of hearing the response termed as racist, when the roads to the east of NOLA were typically wiped out or blocked with debris, and the local airfields destroyed. I'm tired of hearing about how FEMA, an agency with 2,500 full time staff, 4,000 part timers and maybe 10,000 volunteers around the country, should have had every aspect of the disaster, involving 1.2 million displaced persons, under control, when the local mayor and governor couldn't even gain accountability over their own people and 10 emergency shelters. And most of all I'm tired of the sick bastards who will politicize a hurricane for temporary gain. People are dead and dying, bloated corpses are still floating in NOLA's fetid swamp, and the Democratic leadership is attempting to blame anyone remotely connected to Bush, including his father, his mother and a Supreme Court nominee for the disaster, and for the necessarily bloated, massive, sclerotic federal response (which still appears to have set a record for size and speed with respect to hurricane relief). What the f*** is wrong with people in this country, that we put up with this level of insane, stupid screeching about politics, such that every aspect of our lives is contaminated?

Naah, no pious sighs coming from me any more about the level of discourse in this country. No moaning any more about how debased and stupid we are. I give up on the screamers. I think I may just quit complaining about it, and start carrying around a small silk glove, and slap anybody who says anything stupid - like "why didn't Bush pre-position all the relief forces." My argumments and facts can't convince anybody of anything; I might as well deliver a slap at any wingnut dumb enough to confront me, and at least feel good about the encounter.

Yeah, sure, it's a pretty stupid idea. But have you heard any useful ideas at all from our politicians and the mainstream media?

Here's a good source for silk gloves.

Posted by Blackavar at September 12, 2005 10:27 PM | TrackBack
First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself.

Scapegoats used to just be scapegoats. Now, given the level of discourse, no matter how obvious the cause of a disaster (Nagin, Blanco) the default storyline of the media means that the person chosen for that role has to be a certain sex and a certain color. Persons and facts not fitting into the storyline are glossed over. By the time the actual story is revealed, no one is paying attention anymore.

Posted by: Bigwig at September 13, 2005 09:55 AM
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