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Friday, April 25. 2008
I read the Los Angeles Times article we linked about how the Bush administration failed to protect New Orleans, and it just didn’t smell right. We looked into the departmental files and found a clipping from a blog called MemeFirst, and it reminded us of the Save Our Wetlands lawsuit where a wise Federal Judge stopped the Corps from building proper dikes.
Some of you will recall that in the comments section of this post last week, I mentioned that flood planning and abatement measures take decades to build, and I wrote that I wouldn't be surprised to find out that relevant planning decisions went back to the Carter or Reagan administrations. Actually, it was the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson that set in motion the modern flood protection system for New Orleans - or at least the flood protection system that New Orleans was intended to have. After Hurricane Betsy in 1965, Congress approved and Johnson signed a law to build the Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane Barrier Project to protect New Orleans from future catastrophic hurricanes.
The centerpiece walls and gate systems mandated by the bill, however, were never built. Why?
A lawsuit begun in the mid-70s by environmentalists stalled development well into the 80s. After nearly a decade of litigation that prevented implementation of the plan, the Army Corps of Engineers finally threw in the towel and shifted to a compromise plan that had less of an "environmental impact." Some protection, after all, was better than none. Bottom line, the federal government had a plan to protect New Orleans from hurricanes like Katrina, but was unable to implement it due to interference from local environmentalists and the local judiciary.
The environmental group that brought the lawsuit - the now-ironically named "Save our Wetlands" - hasn't yet taken down the web page boasting of shutting down the Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane Barrier Project. In the document, the group claims that because its attorney broke down and wept in front of Judge Schwartz, he issued an injunction that shut down hurricane barrier construction. Here's the text:
...And also the reason New Orleans does not exist today.
Getting-what-they-want-by-crying has been the modus operandi of the environmental movement in the U.S. for decades, figuratively speaking. In this case, environmentalist do-gooder busybodies actually cried to get what they wanted. On a lark I used Google Earth to investigate the fate of the home of the presiding judge - Charles Schwartz, Jr. - which backs up on the Metairie Country Club. It's still standing, but he'd better find himself a pair of waders, especially if he plans on playing the back nine anytime soon. Who's crying now?
The left-wing think tank, Center for Progressive Reform, takes the position that the injunction was simply a minor annoyance that would shortly have gone away, but also reveals that the left, the enviro-loonies (and the local Democrat machine) had mounted fierce opposition to the Corps.
Let us look at the sentence that starts with “It is beyond dispute that”. Has the dear reader previously noticed how the left loves that phrase? The actual translation is, “I don’t want to talk about it!” That in turn relates to the fact that the speaker actually lacks the facts, the logic, or both to dispute it. The writer would have us believe that if the Corps had merely written a more extensive (expensive) environmental impact statement, the litigants would have happily dropped their complaint. Anyone with even the most passing familiarity with environmental strike suits knows that complaining about the EIS is merely the opening gambit for litigation designed either to stop a project altogether or to make it too expensive for the proponents to proceed.
The Corps chose to drop its fight and comply with the community’s expressed wishes, for which they are entirely unwilling to accept the consequences. In fact the city sued the Corps for $77 BILLION in damages for its actions, but in an article February 1 entitled “In Court Ruling on Floods, More Pain for New Orleans”, the Times sniffs, “There is disappointment but little surprise in New Orleans after a federal judge grudgingly absolved the Army Corps of Engineers of liability in the flooding of the city after Hurricane Katrina.”
The leftyloonies at the Times (and the federal judge) appear to actually believe that the Corps of Engineers should be held liable for damages to New Orleans for conceding that it had lost a lawsuit
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--i really wish a story such as this would shock me -- but such recapitulations of comprehensive and unacknowledged left-wing destruction of value in ever realm from the most abstract concepts of supreme court justice to the mundane building of seaward protection in hurricane alley, just no longer surprise.
Get to the bottom of most economic or other kind of major malfeasance and you find government and the interests it serves. It's the nature of the beast and why the beast needs controls and limits.
I heard a story last evening on the local news radio station regarding an upcoming meeting of the State of New York Thruway Authority and their need to raise tolls rather substantially. It seems that not enough traffic is currently utilizing the facility and their 'solution' is to increase the user fees. Genius!!!
"Government work! Drought strikes. People, exhorted by the politicians and functionaries of municipal utilities exert themselves and conserve water. Then comes the reward for all their scrimping on water: Massive fee increases because the water authorities didn't make enough money what with people saving water and all."
Senator McCain as reported by Fox and LA Times said, as he toured New New Orleans this week, "I think everybody knows how it was a failure," McCain said of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina. "There [were] unqualified people in charge. There was a total misreading of the dimensions of the disaster. There was a failure of communications. . . . I don't think that anybody in America, hardly, is unaware of the many failings that took place."
two different ways of parsing that text, isn't there -- BDSers will hear a Bush smear, people who can actually read & comprehend the text will see something different. All in all, a pretty adroit comment, imho.
Seeing as I am an inhabitant of the hurricane-prone Gulf Coast, I made an exception and watched daytime television all week as the grisly story unfolded. McCain is mistaken when he blames the Feds for Katrina rescue efforts. Blame lies closer to home.
Bush began begging Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco on the Monday before Katrina made landfall to ask for National Guard intervention so he could send in help from neighboring states. She stalled and said she wanted "to think about it." Those of us who remember our high school Civics classes know that local and state governments have to request help from the Feds. If they just came in and took over, it wouldn't be a democracy, would it?
N.O. Mayor Ray Nagin left town over the weekend previous to the Monday landfall to buy his wife a house in Dallas, so he wasn't around to initiate rescue efforts. He had more than 250 school buses parked in various areas which he could have used to evacuate people. He didn't. He didn't stock the Superdome with food and water supplies because he didn't really want it to be used as a temporary refuge.
The only federal organization which had a legal mandate to function as a rescue group was the U.S. Coast Guard. Their federal mandate includes action as a local police force in times of crisis. They did an amazing and heroic job of rescuing people whose homes were flooded, from roof tops and by boat, as did the National Guard when Nagin finally allowed them to come in on Friday.
We who live in Houston know how to handle rescues. When we were finally notified that refugees were headed here, our city government did an exemplary job of preparing our Astrodome and Reliant stadium for refugees, including stocking the venues with food and water, setting up hospital facilities, getting cots and other emergency equipment -- all within 24 hours. We accommodated 75,000 people initially and more than 125,000 people temporarily, many of whom were taken to other states on a temporary basis.
That's the way rescues should be run. Before I would blame the Federal government, I would blame Ray Nagin and the New Orleans city administration, Governor Kathleen Blanco for her criminal shilly-shallying [talk about fiddling while Rome burns!] and the corrupt politicians [an outstanding feature in Louisiana] into whose pockets the hugely generous federal Katrina monies vanished, never to be used for city restoration.
The rescue of New New Orleans is on-going to this day.
Senator McCain's tour of the 9th Ward illustrates that all the players, feds, state, and city have failed and that is whom he pointed at.
Jindal is right along side Nagin in yall's indictment, too.
The Right and the Liberterians have completely missed the boat on Katrina. It was a complete failure of Goverment, Federal, State and Local! Let me clarify that. IT SHOWED THE COMPLETE FOLLY OF RELYING ON A GOVERMENT TO PROTECT US!
Instead, the right got suckered into a straw man debate over who's fault it was.
DickieT ... "the complete folly of relying on government to protect us"? Most of us on the right are grown-up enough to have learned that it's our job to protect ourselves. Most of us [the grown-ups, remember?] learned this when we were in our 'teens, if not earlier. When you wait around and let someone else "protect" you, he does it his way, and in his time-frame. On top of that, he figures you owe him. And he expects to collect. Freedom means that you learn how to protect yourself, and hold closely to the right to do so.
well, a hurricane is a hurricane, and both Katrina & following closely Rita intended to do much damage -- much like Audrey, and Andrew, and a half a dozen others in living memory. What's made us all so sick is the interaction between bad local gov't and FEMA. Fema wasn't around for three American cities which roughly a hundred years ago were as completely destroyed as New Orleans -- Galveston, San Francisco, and Chicago. All three were rebuilt by a much poorer local citizenry, fast and well, and with pride and zest. New Orleans, with unlimited federal money, is, three years and how many hundred billions on, still mostly an uninhabitable wreck. Money has to be spent by its owners, or it just gets given away for favors and trinkets.
I, too, am a resident of the Gulf Coast.
First off, New Orleans does still exist. Not in the same manner we have been accustomed to, but the French Quarter and garden district thrive. Jazzfest will go on. The charm is not dead.
Second off, I am sick and f&*king tired of everyone equating the devastation of New Orleans with Katrina and vice versus. New Orleans wasn't even hit with a Cat 4! Only Cat 3. Wind is not what killed the 9th Ward. Surge is not what killed the 9th Ward. Busted levees killed the 9th Ward.
Am I the only one who wonders why the media never pulls up a few Mississippians when they discuss the hardship of recovery? Mississippi got the Cat 4 hits. Not Nawlins.
We've suffered Cat 3 and 4. It's no big deal. Some trees down, some wind damage, the electricity off for a few days. Life is back to normal in a week. Frederick, Dennis, Ivan, Opal, Georges, Daniel.
Frederick hit us directly with 125 to 145 mph winds. Preparedness in Alabama kept the death toll to five with estimates of 350,000 persons evacuated from the threatened area.
And damn, more than a few living inhabitants of New Orleans recall the only real huge hurricane to hit in living memory, Camille. How can they not use that memory to their advantage and prepare for the possibility?!
Am I the only one who sees the stark contrast between the recovery efforts in Mississippi and those in New Orleans?
Am I the only person who sees the recovery in Homestead, after Andrew, not nearly the condemnation on the gov't that Katrina is for New Orleans (a city that was on the mild -western- side of the storm)?
For those of you who don't know...the Eastern side of the eye has the strongest winds. The Western side is, by far, milder. Look on a map. Find Pass Christian and Waveland, Mississippi and see where it is in relation to New Orleans. They are the towns that got the shit. And they are still getting the shit in comparison to New Orleans.
As you report above, the suffering in New Orleans was a man made disaster, only exacerbated by the populace's conception that the gov't is responsible for their survival and well being. Obviously, the folks in Mississippi aren't of that same mindset. And, obviously, they are of the right complexion to evoke the sympathy of the gov't or the media.
Katrina is a gov't disgrace (and a media disgrace), but not for the reasons usually cited.
Lunacy on the Third Coast
And, obviously, I'm not the only one who sees.
Forgive me. I was on a rant.
take a look:
here's a hodgepodge blended ellipsed snip:
"New Orleans (is) ...making every effort to capitalize on trade liberalization that will flow from these FTAs (free trade agreements). Our port system is ideally situated to take advantage of the Latin American FTAs."
"(But) Congress is unmoved because free trade produces less graft than massive aid projects. But it's funny that this hasn't gotten much attention from the press."
Lunacy ... that was a justifiable "rant." You made some excellent points above. You're right also, that Katrina came ashore as a Category Three hurricane, not a Category Four. And Pass Christian, home of Bret Favre, and the Manning boys [there must be something in the water that makes great quarterbacks] was virtually wiped out. Pass Christian and Biloxi, Mississippi were on the dirty side of the storm.
I think you mentioned Homestead, Florida and Galveston, Texas as having been hit horribly by hurricanes . Galveston's Great Hurricane in 1900 covered the entire city in several feet of water, and killed more than 1300 people. The citizens didn't sit around whining and waiting for government assistance. Within five years, they had raised the ground level within the city limits by 15 feet and rebuilt many of the important buildings -- all without government help.
Then they went on to bigger things.
Katrina is a disgrace, yes, but it is not the fault of the federal government, except to the extent that years of so-called "government entitlements" have developed a citizenry that expects to have life's problems and set-backs solved by the government. But, as I said above, when you let someone else solve your problems for you, he does it his way and in his time-frame. And then he figures you owe him. And I guess you do.
Katrina was an act of God punishing the people of New Orleans.
God has great timing and did it when Ray Nagin was mayor.