The legitimate complaints against Bush regarding the response to Hurricane Katrina

Discussion in 'Politics' started by hapaboy, Sep 2, 2005.

  1. Continued:

    The Corps began as a tiny regiment during the Revolutionary War era; it now employs about 35,000 people to build dams, deepen harbors, dig ditches and erect seawalls, among other things. But critics say some projects are make-work boondoggles.

    In 2000, Corps leaders were found to have manipulated an economic study to justify a Mississippi River project that would have cost billions. The agency also launched a secret growth initiative to boost its budget by 50%. And the Pentagon found in 2000 that the Corps' cost-benefit analyses were systematically skewed to warrant large-scale construction projects.

    As a result, said a senior staffer with the Senate Appropriations Committee who spoke on condition of anonymity, requests by the Corps for flood control money were especially vulnerable to budget cutting. "A lot of people just look at it as pork," said the staffer.

    The Bush administration's former budget director, Mitch Daniels, was known as an aggressive advocate for Corps reform who cast a skeptical eye on its budget requests.

    "The Army Corps of Engineers has a very large budget, and it has grown a lot over recent years," Daniels, now the governor of Indiana, said. "To the extent there's been any limitation of [the Corps'] budget, it has to do with previous tendencies to build marinas and things that don't have much to do with preparing us for disaster."

    The Bush White House maintains it never ignored the security needs of the Gulf Coast. "Flood control has been a priority of this administration from Day One," said White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan.

    He said hundreds of millions of dollars were spent in the New Orleans area in recent years for flood prevention, and he said the failure of the levees was not a matter of money so much as a problem with drawing the right plans for the dike work and other improvements.

    "It's been more of a design issue with the levees," he said.

    Other administration officials said there were not enough construction companies and equipment to handle all the work that had been proposed.

    John Paul Woodley Jr., assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works, who has responsibility for the Corps of Engineers, said: "It's true, we cannot accomplish all of our projects at full funding all the time. I think that's true of any agency, particularly any public works agency, but we had a lot of work underway in New Orleans, and I was personally supportive of it.

    "As a native of Louisiana," Woodley said, "I understand the problems associated with flooding in New Orleans. I don't think there's any lack of support for flood control projects in New Orleans, particularly within the context of other projects around the country."

    On Capitol Hill in recent years, several Democrats warned that more money should be marked for the protection of New Orleans. For instance, in September 2004, Landrieu said she was tired of hearing there was no money to do more work on levees.

    "We're told, can't do it this year. Don't have enough money. It's not a high enough priority," she said in a Senate speech. "Well, I know when it's going to get to be a high enough priority."

    She then told of a New Orleans emergency worker who had collected several thousand body bags in the event of a major flood. "Let's hope that never happens," she said.

    But in May 2004, then Senate Minority Whip Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he had visited the levees as a guest of Landrieu and believed them adequate.

    He praised the ancient water pumps for keeping the waters from cascading into the city, proclaiming them "these old, old pumps that hadn't been changed since before the turn of the century, that still keep New Orleans dry."

    "It was as clean as a restaurant," he added. "These big old pumps work."

    Today, eight of those 22 pumps are underwater and inoperable.

    Over the years, several projects either were short-changed or never got started. The Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project was authorized by Congress after a rainstorm killed six people in May 1995. It was to be finished in 10 years, but funding reductions prevented its completion before Katrina struck.

    The Army Corps of Engineers did spend $430 million to renovate pumping stations and shore up the levees. But experts said the project fell behind schedule after funding was reduced in 2003 and 2004.

    The Lake Pontchartrain Project was a $750-million Corps operation for new levees and beefed-up pumping stations. Because of funding cuts, it was only 80% complete when the hurricane hit.

    The project that never was started was an examination of storm surges from large hurricanes. Congress approved the study but did not allocate the funds for it.

    In May, Al Naomi, the Corps' senior project manager for the New Orleans district, reminded political and business leaders and emergency management officials that a Category 4 or 5 hurricane was always possible. After that meeting, Walter Brooks, the regional planning commission director, came away shaking his head.

    "We've learned that we're not as safe as we thought we were," he told the local newspaper, the Times-Picayune.

    Last week, Corps commander Strock defended past work, saying, it was his "personal and professional assessment" that work in New Orleans was never underfunded. What he meant by that, he explained, was that no one expected such a large disaster before all the renovations and other improvements could be completed.

    "That was as good as it was going to get," he said. " We knew that it would protect from a Category 3 hurricane. In fact, it has been through a number of Category 3 hurricanes."

    But, he said, Katrina's intensity "simply exceeded the design capacity of the levee."

    Asked whether in hindsight he wished more had been done, Strock said: "I really don't express surprise in my business. We don't sit around and say 'Gee whiz.' "
    #31     Sep 4, 2005
  2. September 4, 2005
    The Bursting Point

    As Ross Douthat observed on his blog, The American Scene, Katrina was the anti-9/11.

    On Sept. 11, Rudy Giuliani took control. The government response was quick and decisive. The rich and poor suffered alike. Americans had been hit, but felt united and strong. Public confidence in institutions surged.

    Last week in New Orleans, by contrast, nobody took control. Authority was diffuse and action was ineffective. The rich escaped while the poor were abandoned. Leaders spun while looters rampaged. Partisans squabbled while the nation was ashamed.

    The first rule of the social fabric - that in times of crisis you protect the vulnerable - was trampled. Leaving the poor in New Orleans was the moral equivalent of leaving the injured on the battlefield. No wonder confidence in civic institutions is plummeting.

    And the key fact to understanding why this is such a huge cultural moment is this: Last week's national humiliation comes at the end of a string of confidence-shaking institutional failures that have cumulatively changed the nation's psyche.

    Over the past few years, we have seen intelligence failures in the inability to prevent Sept. 11 and find W.M.D.'s in Iraq. We have seen incompetent postwar planning. We have seen the collapse of Enron and corruption scandals on Wall Street. We have seen scandals at our leading magazines and newspapers, steroids in baseball, the horror of Abu Ghraib.

    Public confidence has been shaken too by the steady rain of suicide bombings, the grisly horror of Beslan and the world's inability to do anything about rising oil prices.

    Each institutional failure and sign of helplessness is another blow to national morale. The sour mood builds on itself, the outraged and defensive reaction to one event serving as the emotional groundwork for the next.

    The scrapbook of history accords but a few pages to each decade, and it is already clear that the pages devoted to this one will be grisly. There will be pictures of bodies falling from the twin towers, beheaded kidnapping victims in Iraq and corpses still floating in the waterways of New Orleans five days after the disaster that caused them.

    It's already clear this will be known as the grueling decade, the Hobbesian decade. Americans have had to acknowledge dark realities that it is not in our nature to readily acknowledge: the thin veneer of civilization, the elemental violence in human nature, the lurking ferocity of the environment, the limitations on what we can plan and know, the cumbersome reactions of bureaucracies, the uncertain progress good makes over evil.

    As a result, it is beginning to feel a bit like the 1970's, another decade in which people lost faith in their institutions and lost a sense of confidence about the future.

    "Rats on the West Side, bedbugs uptown/What a mess! This town's in tatters/I've been shattered," Mick Jagger sang in 1978.

    Midge Decter woke up the morning after the night of looting during the New York blackout of 1977 feeling as if she had "been given a sudden glimpse into the foundations of one's house and seen, with horror, that it was utterly infested and rotting away."

    Americans in 2005 are not quite in that bad a shape, since the fundamental realities of everyday life are good. The economy and the moral culture are strong. But there is a loss of confidence in institutions. In case after case there has been a failure of administration, of sheer competence. Hence, polls show a widespread feeling the country is headed in the wrong direction.

    Katrina means that the political culture, already sour and bloody-minded in many quarters, will shift. There will be a reaction. There will be more impatience for something new. There is going to be some sort of big bang as people respond to the cumulative blows of bad events and try to fundamentally change the way things are.

    Reaganite conservatism was the response to the pessimism and feebleness of the 1970's. Maybe this time there will be a progressive resurgence. Maybe we are entering an age of hardheaded law and order. (Rudy Giuliani, an unlikely G.O.P. nominee a few months ago, could now win in a walk.) Maybe there will be call for McCainist patriotism and nonpartisan independence. All we can be sure of is that the political culture is about to undergo some big change.

    We're not really at a tipping point as much as a bursting point. People are mad as hell, unwilling to take it anymore.
    #32     Sep 4, 2005
  3. Brandonf

    Brandonf ET Sponsor

    It is George W. Bushes fault Katrina got so God damn strong. After all he has been the President since 2000 and we have been hearing about this global warming thing for like 20 years. Certainly he could have done something about it where all of those before him did not. If we had only elected Al Gore in 2000 mother nature would have rejoiced and reversed its trend. The Gulf of Mexico would be cold like the Pacific Ocean off the California coast and we wouldnt have any God damn hurricanes at all.
    #33     Sep 4, 2005
  4. The concept is contributory negligence....

    "The rule of law under which an act or omission of plaintiff is a contributing cause of injury and a bar to recovery."

    #34     Sep 4, 2005
  5. Somewhere in here it says Time Mag back in 2000.

    >>> So much for those in government who say -- and I saw Clinton and Bush
    >>> senior say it today -- that no one ever saw this coming...
    >>> PARAGRAPH!!!
    >>> I am aghast at my president and at the entire federal government
    >>> response, not to mention the local/regional response--but for different
    >>> time-place-race considerations, that could be us down there. I would
    >>> retrack my vote for Bush if I could. He has just lost me.
    >>> July 10, 2000 Vol. 156 No. 2 Special Issue/The Pulse of America
    >>> The Big Easy On the Brink
    >>> If it doesn't act fast, the city could become the next Atlantis
    >>> If a flood of Biblical proportions were to lay waste to New Orleans, Joe
    >>> Suhayda has a good idea how it would happen. A Category 5 hurricane
    >>> would come barreling out of the Gulf of Mexico. It would cause Lake
    >>> Pontchartrain, north of New Orleans, to overflow, pouring down millions
    >>> of gallons of water on the city. Then things would really get ugly.
    >>> Evacuation routes would be blocked. Buildings would collapse. Chemicals
    >>> and hazardous waste would dissolve, turning the floodwaters into a
    >>> lethal soup. In the end, what was left of the city might not be worth
    >>> saving. "There's concern it would essentially destroy New Orleans," says
    >>> Suhayda.
    >>> Suhayda, a water-resources expert at Louisiana State University, is the
    >>> kind of guy who could have given Noah a computer model of all 40 days
    >>> and 40 nights of rain, including the Ark's soft landing on Mount Ararat.
    >>> So it is real cause for concern that he has joined the chorus of
    >>> scientists and environmentalists who are saying that the watery threat
    >>> to New Orleans is extreme--that in the worst-case scenario, in fact,
    >>> there might not be a city of New Orleans left standing by the end of the
    >>> century.
    >>> New Orleans has always had a complicated relationship with the water
    >>> surrounding it. Everyone told the first settlers this was the wrong
    >>> place to build a city. It is wedged precariously between the mighty
    >>> Mississippi and Lake Pontchartrain, and most of it was once swampland.
    >>> Aggravating the problem is the fact that much of New Orleans is below
    >>> sea level, so that after a good rain, the water just settles in. There
    >>> is now a decent pumping system, which helps. Old-timers, however, still
    >>> talk of the days when, after a bad storm, bodies washed out of the
    >>> cemeteries.
    >>> What is threatening New Orleans is a combination of two man-made
    >>> problems: more levees and fewer wetlands. The levees installed along the
    >>> Mississippi to protect the city from water surges have had a perverse
    >>> effect: they have actually made it more vulnerable to flooding. That's
    >>> because New Orleans has been kept in place by the precarious balance of
    >>> two opposing forces. Because the city is constructed on 100 feet of soft
    >>> silt, sand and clay, it naturally "subsides," or sinks, several feet a
    >>> century. Historically, that subsidence has been counteracted by
    >>> sedimentation: new silt, sand and clay that are deposited when the river
    >>> floods. But since the levees went up--mostly after the great flood of
    >>> 1927--the river has not been flooding, and sedimentation has stopped.
    >>> The upshot is that New Orleans has been sinking as much as 3 ft. a
    >>> century. That's bad news for a city that is already an average of 8 ft.
    >>> below sea level. Making things worse: sea levels worldwide are rising as
    >>> much as 3 ft. a century on account of global warming. The lower New
    >>> Orleans plunges, the worse it will be when the big one hits.
    >>> New Orleans' other major man-made problem is that its wetlands and its
    >>> low-lying barrier islands are disappearing. The Louisiana coast is
    >>> losing 16,000 acres of wetland each year, mostly as a result of
    >>> population expansion into once pristine areas, destructive oil and gas
    >>> drilling, pollution and land loss through lack of sedimentation. As it
    >>> turns out, wetlands and barrier islands aren't just nice to look at;
    >>> they are also a key natural barrier to hurricanes. (Every 2.7 miles of
    >>> wetland absorbs a foot of storm surge.) As the wetlands go, the chance
    >>> of a hurricane blowing the city away grows.
    >>> So environmentalists and engineers are frantically coming up with plans
    >>> to save New Orleans. One idea is to raise levee walls to increase their
    >>> effectiveness against storm surges. Another is to create large-scale
    >>> diversions that would allow the Mississippi to flood in a controlled
    >>> manner--and through sedimentation add thousands of acres a year of new
    >>> land. Yet another would be to take immediate steps to reverse the loss
    >>> of sensitive wetlands. Adding land through sedimentation is one of the
    >>> best ways of restoring wetlands. Among other possible schemes: cutting
    >>> back on shipping routes that harm marshes, installing wave absorbers to
    >>> reduce wetland erosion and rebuilding damaged barrier islands.
    >>> The big sticking point, not surprisingly, is money. The price tag for a
    >>> complete solution could be as much as $14 billion in federal and state
    >>> money--which may be more than Washington wants to spend, and more than
    >>> Baton Rouge can. But experts are also working on scaled-down remedies,
    >>> including construction of a "curtain wall" that would bisect the city,
    >>> creating a safe haven to which residents could evacuate.
    >>> So far, little has been done. Part of the problem, of course, is that
    >>> excessive worrying and planning are radically at odds with the spirit of
    >>> the Big Easy. Despite the damage inflicted by Hurricane Betsy in 1965
    >>> and the near miss of Andrew in 1992, New
    >>> Orleans is still a place where the primary meaning of hurricane is a
    >>> fruity rum drink the law lets you carry openly as you carouse in the
    >>> French Quarter. While the grimmest of the doomsayers warn that New
    >>> Orleans could be the next Atlantis, some laid-back residents are saying
    >>> that it could just as easily become the next Venice and that after the
    >>> deluge, the good times won't roll--they'll float.
    #35     Sep 4, 2005

    SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) - Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans
    will probably cost more than $100 billion in total economic losses, Risk
    Management Solutions, a leading catastrophe risk-modeling firm, said on

    Wouldn't if have been nice not to have PISSED AWAY $200,000,000,000 ++ dollars in the illegitimate war in Iraq? Sure would be nice to have some of that (admittedly borrowed) money to spend in THIS COUNTRY.

    #36     Sep 4, 2005
  7. Contributory negligence is a defense to negligence, not available to a plaintiff. As President Bush is the putative defendant, whereas the People are the putative plaintiff, contributory negligence is inapplicable.

    The correct legal theory is simply to prove that the President was negligent. Regardless, under federal law, the President of the United States is absolutely immune from personal liability for negligence associated with actions/omissions taken within the scope of his official duties. Therefore, the President cannot be held liable for failing to recognize and prepare for hurricanes, actually or reasonably likely to have occurred as the result of global warming, under any legal theory, even assuming that those hurricanes were, in fact, caused by global warming.

    Note: President Clinton was sued for things that he had done prior to becoming President, therefore he was not immune from liability, because his actions were not taken within the scope of his official duties.
    #37     Sep 4, 2005
  8. "But for" principle.....

    Actually I would argue that it is still contributory negligence.

    "An injured person's failure to exercise due care, which along with another person's (the defendant's) negligence, contributed to the injury."

    The people who voted in this mentally injured numbskull of a president are the defendants who are ultimately negligent of the needs of the American people, and Bush's contributory negligence to the situation is obvious.

    #38     Sep 4, 2005
  9. Brandonf

    Brandonf ET Sponsor

    Coulda woulda shoulda. Yes, it would have been. But, its not. So what do we do?
    #39     Sep 4, 2005
  10. Simple.

    Replace the incompetents.

    #40     Sep 4, 2005