Katrina, Part Deux

I’ve been operating under a weird haze of rage for the last few days.

It started when I read about how funding for flood management and levee construction had been slashed in the past few years, and how advice from experts has been steadily ignored for even longer. (This is not a bash on the Bush administration, by the way—Clinton was just as guilty of ignoring sound advice about development on flood plains and not funding flood management research adequately.)

It escalated when I read that big chunks of the National Guard are in Iraq, instead of back home.

It shot through the fucking roof when I realized that help was going to be a long time a-coming for the people hit hard by Katrina, especially the residents of New Orleans, and that the authorities were trying to spin everything to a fare-thee-well so they don’t look like quite the incompetent, brain-dead fuckasses that they are. Then I read about how a guy who should’ve hailed as a motherfucking hero was instead called an “extreme looter.” (What, does he snowboard, eat Doritos AND drink Mountain Dew on top of stealing an unused bus to ferry over a hundred people to safety?) And then I read this bit here on Daily Kos (link courtesy of Kate Rothwell):

It goes to show how overwhelming things are here right now that I encountered the First Lady yesterday and I almost forgot to put it in this e-mail.  It actually couldn’t have been a worse experience; a team of us were working to put up a website with directions to every Red Cross shelter in the region when we were evicted from the computer room by the Secret Service.  There’s only one room in the Cajundome with telephones and internet access for refugees, and Laura Bush shut it down for eight hours (along with the food service rooms to the side and the women’s showers).  You may have seen it on CNN; apparently seven refugees were allowed back so Laura could help them in front of the cameras.

Add to that an article about how food sat undistributed all fucking day because of Bush’s visit to New Orleans, plus assorted comments from assorted people on assorted blogs about how it’s the residents’ own damn fault for not evacuating and/or for being poor, and I can’t concentrate on anything right now. My husband has had to listen to me ranting and raving all day. I suspect the poor darling has resorted to drink to drown out the sound of my dulcet voice.

Regular programming should resume tomorrow.

I think.

Edited to add:

Just found this link courtesy of Making Light:

The state Homeland Security Department had requested—and continues to request—that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.

Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.

Motherfucking…what the…GAAAAAAAHHHHHHH.

That popping sound you heard? Was the sweet symphony of several blood vessels exploding in my head.

Carry on.


News, The Link-O-Lator

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    fiveandfour says:

    I’m right there with you, Candy.  The only things that have saved my blood vessels from bursting inside my skull have been the radio interview with the Mayor of New Orleans (“get your asses down here” – love it!) and Shepard Smith and Geraldo Rivera essentially telling Sean Hannity he didn’t know what the fuck he was talking about, especially when Sean attempted to interject some “perspective” onto what was going on.  Well that, and realizing I have a new hero in Anderson Cooper. 

    I was listening to a BBC 4 podcast this afternoon where Trent Lott explained that there was no reason to blame Bush because he was there “helping” and I felt the GAAHH-ging reflex kick in and it was like a Tourette’s victim on crack had taken over my body.  I wish I knew a couple more languages – or at least the cuss words in them – because here’s a situation that calls for the full retinue of the biggest nasties the world has ever invented so far as I’m concerned.

    My God, but the fuckwittedness has been utterly astonishing.  It’s a tragedy in the true sense of the word.

  2. 2
    Sharon says:

    Blood pressure.  Oh yeah, mine’s been up, been there, blogged that.  I don’t have any non four letter words left to describe my feelings on the issue.

  3. 3
    Jennifer says:

    It’s mind-boggling what is happening. I actually read an article where someone said it was a man-made disaster because of the welfare state and the people who were left were all wellfare parasites and criminals.

    (An Unnatural Disaster: A Hurricane Exposes the Man-Made Disaster of the Welfare State by Robert Tracinski
    Sep 02, 2005 – Source: TIA Daily)

    I blew a gasket when I read that and shot off a note saying that “Hitler would have said something like that, and coming from an American it was frankly horrifying.”
    But it made me wonder how much the feds don’t think along those lines.
    It seems like the poor are all being rounded up and shipped off to concentration camps.
    Here is why I say this:

    by Jordan Flaherty

    Friday, September 2, 2005

    “I just left New Orleans a couple hours ago. I traveled from the apartment I was staying in by boat to a helicopter to a refugee camp. If anyone wants to examine the attitude of federal and state officials towards the victims of hurricane Katrina, I advise you to visit one of the refugee camps.
    In the refugee camp I just left, on the I-10 freeway near Causeway, thousands of people (at least 90% black and poor) stood and squatted in mud and trash behind metal barricades, under an unforgiving sun, with heavily armed soldiers standing guard over them. When a bus would
    come through, it would stop at a random spot, state police would open a gap in one of the barricades, and people would rush for the bus, with no information given about where the bus was going. Once inside (we were told) evacuees would be told where the bus was taking them – Baton Rouge, Houston, Arkansas, Dallas, or other locations. I was told that if you boarded a bus bound for Arkansas (for example), even people with family and a place to stay in Baton Rouge would not be
    allowed to get out of the bus as it passed through Baton Rouge. You had no choice but to go to the shelter in Arkansas. If you had people willing to come to New Orleans to pick you up, they could not come within 17 miles of the camp.
    I traveled throughout the camp and spoke to Red Cross workers, Salvation Army workers, National Guard, and state police, and although they were friendly, no one could give me any details on when buses would arrive, how many, where they would go to, or any other information. I spoke to the several teams of journalists nearby, and asked if any of them had been able to get any information from any federal or state officials on any of these questions, and all of them, from Australian tv to local Fox affiliates complained of an unorganized, non-communicative, mess. One cameraman told me “as someone who’s been here in this camp for two days, the only information I can give you is this: get out by nightfall. You don’t want to be here at night.”

    Sorry for being so long-winded, but I think that the US government is dealing with this calamity as if all the refugees were all dangerous criminals, not people in desperate need of help.

  4. 4

    In some ways, for the first time in my life, I’m ashamed to be an American.  We have been telling ourselves and the rest of the world that we’re the best and the brightest, the greatest country on earth, willing to leap forward to help other countries in crisis.  But when a crisis _that was anticipated_ strikes our own country, we’re without leadership or direction.  There is no excuse.

    If we’ve known for 40 years that New Orleans was in danger of the levees being breached, and that the city would have to be evacuated, why wasn’t there an evacuation plan in place with transportation for urban residents who don’t have private vehicles, for hospital patients, for prisoners, for the elderly and homebound?

    Forget why the funding for the levees didn’t go through. That’s a no brainer. Don’t plan for tomorrow, deal with today’s pork and get re-elected, and the Democrats and Republicans share the blame equally on this one.

    I could go on, but I won’t.  We have plenty of time to rant, but now is the time to act.  I’m going to close this letter with a tribute to some of the unsung heroes of New Orleans and the Gulf area, the local reporters who stayed on the job and got the news out.  Some of them are my friends from college and later, and they’ve been working around the clock.  If you want to read what the locals are saying, go to NOLA.com, where the Times-Picayune has been publishing online.

  5. 5
    Kate R says:


    “Bureaucracy has committed murder.”

  6. 6
    Christina in Houston says:

    I want to know why the Mayor and Govenor didn’t follow the Louisiana state evacuation plan and let over 400 buses sit idle.

  7. 7
  8. 8

    Exactly how I feel, Sarah.

  9. 9
    RomaBabe says:

    I was glued to CNN and watched interview after interview where the ass munching politicians avoided answering the simplest questions about this disaster. QUESTION:  “Mr. Representative, do you think race was an issue in why a rescue attempts took so long?” ANSWER: “I think we should thank the people who are helping out down here, they are doing a good job, *evade, evade*” For cryin’ out loud- 90% of the time their answer didn’t have one bloody thing to do with the damn question. Would it have killed someone to actually answer a question? Even if all they said was “I honestly don’t know.” ?

    And you know what would be nice? To hear someone say “Yep- we fucked up. Hell yeah- I fucked up! I fucked up big time. I am humilated and I will make sure I never fuck up like this again. I will devote the rest of my career to making sure the other people in the government don’t fuck up like this again either. And I hope that will, in part, make up for the misery and destruction of human lives I   fuckwittedly added to.” God forbid ANYONE in this whole entire country should take responsibility for something. 

    As for the looting… all I know is that if my kid’s life depended on that bottle of water sitting in a locked Walgreens- it’s an no-brainer. Sorry Walgreens folks, but I will steal to keep to my child alive, and I would do worse than that to protect her.

    And that concludes my rant for today. Thanks for listening. I need a martini now. Maybe a valium too. And a hug.

  10. 10
    Robin says:

    “I actually read an article where someone said it was a man-made disaster because of the welfare state and the people who were left were all wellfare parasites and criminals.”

    At a time like this, when compassion seems like the natural response, it’s really hard to fathom how fear and ignorance continue to shape the thoughts of some.  Where it gets really hard for me is when those folks are the ones who claim the moral high ground—gotta practice my yoga breathing there.

    Although I felt that some of the comments by Black members of Congress actually hurt their case more than helped it, early on I worried about the fact that so many of those displaced by Katrina were BOTH poor and Black.  I’m not convinced that such a fact, in and of itself, caused the delay in response, but I think the often negative portrayal of many of the refugees by the media is widening, not narrowing, the race and class divides that continue to plague us.  Frankly, I think that ultimately the reasons this happened have to do with poor planning on everyone’s part, as Candy noted.  My understanding is that back in 1998 New Orleans came to FEMA with a plan to strengthen the levees AND restore the wetlands, but at $38M it was deemed too expensive (and that’s under Clinton, not Bush).  From the lack of local evacuation plans to what appears to be FEMA’s total incompetence, to the sluggish response of anyone outside of local rescue groups, churches, universities like LSU, charities and other groups like the Red Cross, it’s been mind-boggling to watch everything unfold.  And unfortunately, I suspect that the small group of people (relatively speaking) who are committing the crimes we hear about (rapes, shootings, etc.) are being magnified and replayed for America, coloring (literally and figuratively) the way many outside the disaster zone see the victims. 

    And now, in the midst of all this, comes the nomination of John Roberts for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. 

    We probably won’t ever know exactly what happened here, who dropped the ball, and WHAT Bush was doing for those three days he was absent from view (wasn’t he at his ranch in Texas when the storm hit, or do I have that wrong?).  And for all those who argue that this wasn’t his fault, I agree in that it was no one person or one agency’s fault.  But damn, why, why, why didn’t that man get on television the very first hours after all this started to unfold and throw everything he and this country have into planning and responding and reassuring and generally demonstrating that one of the most important aspects of a leader is his ability to LEAD?  We know the area was partially accessible, since tv cameras got in there lickety split.  And to think of the swiftness with which Congress returned to session during the Terry Schiavo case, I’m stupified by what’s happened this past week.

    I’ve actually had to turn away from the news reports, because I don’t think my anger contributes anything positive to this situation.  I can so easily fall into worry that we’re losing so much more than lives and homes and cities (as if that weren’t enough), and wonder about any damage to our national character and unity (as fragile and wavering as it is during the best of times). Truly, I’ve tried to simply do what I can from a remote state, which includes sending as many thoughts of peace and healing as I can to everyone affected (in addition to money and goods, of course).  I do have to say, though, that for those who have been helping from the beginning, well, I hope by the time this is over that there will be a system in place to designate them as national heroes, because IMO, they’ve been our true national leaders this past week.

  11. 11
    Vicki says:

    Ok..here is my take. (I am not a Bush fan btw).

    My Monday Morning Quarterbacking…

    At first, Bush followed standard procedures ..(ie declaring an emergency 2 days ahead of time to give the Gov. the powers to coordinate with Federal Relief agencies and get the National Guard down there…remember..thats the Governors job…not the presidents)

    The initial failure:
    1. Mayor of New Orleans-for not evacuating the city. They had seven days notice, WTF were they doing?

    2. Gov. of Louisiana not initiating the (a)plan. Failing to coordinate with the federal agencies.

    Shame on Gov and Mayor for building casinos with federal money instead of investing in the levees and emergency coordinating.

    Fed. Government should have stepped in RIGHT AWAY when they realized that leadership was not occuring on the local and state level. (even though its the governor’s job to coordinate with the federal agencies.)

    Shame on everyone for not strengthening the levees when they had the opportunity.


  12. 12
    Robin says:

    “Shame on Gov and Mayor for building casinos with federal money instead of investing in the levees and emergency coordinating.

    Fed. Government should have stepped in RIGHT AWAY when they realized that leadership was not occuring on the local and state level. (even though its the governor’s job to coordinate with the federal agencies.)

    Shame on everyone for not strengthening the levees when they had the opportunity.”

    From what I understand, EVERYONE knew something like this was eventually going to happen, but, like most of us, they just kept living on borrowed time.  And unfortunately, when you think about those who’ve lost the most, it’s generally those who had the least social capital to being with and who literally have NOTHING now.  Some people were clearly profiting from all the short term decisions that were being made in the city, and without a doubt, there will be those who ultimately profit from Katrina’s aftermath and the rebuilding process (I, for one, want to see the profit statements from the oil companies for this period).  I understand why people who had nothing more than the land on which they lived didn’t want to leave the ONLY source of financial security they had, especially since it’s not at all clear that they will be looked after in any meaningful way.  The layers of stuff here—from the dynamics of who feels it’s worth it and/or has the means to evacuate to questions of why one or another level of government didn’t step into the multiple breaches that emerged over the past week—are almost overwhelming to contemplate.

  13. 13

    From CNN

    “The director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Thursday those New Orleans residents who chose not to heed warnings to evacuate before Hurricane Katrina bear some responsibility for their fates.”

    Obviously this baboon thinks it’s the residents’ fault.

    On Tuesday after Katrina, Bush went to San Diego for fundraisers.  Cheney was in Wyoming (vacation), and he’s still there from what I can tell from reading the Washington Post.  Rice was seen buying shoes in NYC after Katrina.

  14. 14
    fiveandfour says:

    WHAT Bush was doing for those three days he was absent from view

    Here’s one thing he was doing on Tuesday the 30th:


    Some people have compared this to Nero fiddling while Rome burned…

  15. 15

    Want to know why people didn’t leave? They couldn’t afford to. Because they were living paycheck-to-paycheck. Should we call it a “coincidence” that the poor and the sick who were left behind were overwhelmingly African-American? Or should we call it what it is: living proof of the fact that the class and race divide is still alive and kickin’ in America?

    I don’t care how many Fox News anchors or fat-cat politicians croak. No matter how many people stayed (for whatever reason) the fact that it took FIVE FUCKING DAYS to get some help in there (because Bush gutted FEMA to pay for Iraq), not to mention the fact that the government KNEW THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN (An Army Corps guy was forced to resign after telling everyone something like this was going to happen; and the head of FEMA? A Bush crony took his place) is CRIMINAL. Purely and simply criminal.

    Oh, and just for the record? The Governer of LA did declare a state of emergency. For August 26-Sept 25, 2005. ‘Cause the perfect storm was brewing, y’all. The state of emergency was in effect and the federal gov’t still dragged its feet getting help in there.

    I am reduced to spluttering rage at this turn of events. I can’t be calm, so I am going to practice some deep breathing until my blood pressure lowers and the red haze over my vision goes away.

  16. 16

    Whoops, that last link should be: did declare a state of emergency. Sorry ‘bout that.

  17. 17
    fiveandfour says:

    Ooops sorry – just realized it’s no longer valid and I’m not savvy enough to be able to just paste the picture directly here :(.

  18. 18
    Stevie says:

    Ohforgoshsakes, people.  Stop pointing fingers.  If you’re outraged stop complaining and do something constructive.  Start building a community instead of tearing it a part.  THIS is the sickening part.  Just exactly what are you contributing to the state of the world by bitching and moaning about it besides hatred, anger and divisiveness? Send money, clothes, open your homes, organize a blanket drive, sell lemonade on the street corner to raise funds but don’t do this and don’t use a natural disaster and the efforts of those helping to bash your country—that’s just pitiful.

  19. 19

    Not to burst your bubble, Steve, but we already have given and will continue to give. I can’t think of a single Smart Bitch or commenter who hasn’t made a point of giving what they can (hey, I read all your weblogs, I suppose I’m pathetic.


    And pointing out what has gone wrong with our government is the duty we owe as Americans. Can you imagine the Founding Fathers without their criticism of the British government? To state the problem is the beginning of fixing it. To remain silent, to let our outrage drain away, is to let the problem reman.

  20. 20
    Candy says:

    “If you’re outraged stop complaining and do something constructive.”

    I did something constructive looooong before I started bitching. Or are you not a regular reader of this blog?

    “…don’t do this and don’t use a natural disaster and the efforts of those helping to bash your country—that’s just pitiful.”

    First of all: we’re not bashing those who are on the ground and actually doing something. I doubt you’ll hear a single person here bash the cops, guardsmen, hospital workers and volunteers who have been working their fucking asses off in awful conditions to help the people and animals stranded in Katrina’s wake.

    Our anger is reserved for the stupid bureaucratic fucknuts who knew shit was on the horizon but didn’t do crap, and who are now mugging at cameras, getting in the way of actual relief efforts, and promising help in the fucking FUTURE TENSE instead of doing something constructive now.

    Second of all: it’s not MY country. Shit, I only became a permanent resident a few months ago. Does this make my criticism sting any less or be any more valid? Back when I lived in Malaysia, I was every bit as critical of the government there as I am of the government here. Blind patriotism isn’t my bag.

  21. 21
    Candy says:

    Kate: I edited the link you provided so it points to the movie.

    I just got done watching it. The feds turned back water and fuel? WHAT THE FUCK?

    And that last part in the end…

    I feel ill now. Literally. Ill.

    Everyone: scroll up to Kate’s post and watch the movie.

  22. 22
    Kate R says:

    Hey, look, a ray of hope from some fellow bitches. They’re hitting the road.


  23. 23

    Here’s some more inanity trying to mask itself as logical reasoning by a Richard L. Davis, adjunct professor at Quincy College at Plymouth.  Full of tacit racist venom.

    Why Are Looters Always Democrats?

  24. 24
    Candy says:

    Wow. That article. Just…wow.

    “I bring this up only because Democrats and their media lackeys are having a field day blaming Bush for everything from the hurricane itself (“If only he had signed Kyoto!”) to the criminal orgy of looting and destruction (“Why didn’t he stop us?!”).”

    This is possibly the most beautiful, elaborately constructed straw man I’ve ever seen. Most of the hootin’ and hollerin’ I’ve seen has centered around inadequate federal support for the evacuation, the fact that troops badly needed back home are in Iraq, and the slash-and-burn attitude towards flood management/levee repair funding. I have yet to see anyone sane blaming Katrina on the Kyoto Protocol, nor have I seen anyone blaming Dubya for the looting.

    “As for the hoodlums doing the looting, vandalizing, raping and random criminalizing, not a Republican in the bunch.”

    How does he know this? Did he stop each looter and ask for party verification?

    Or did he just use Democrat as some sort of weird-ass code for “young, male and black”?

    Because, as has been established, white people find things, but black people loot them.

    I can’t read any more of that article. I just can’t. Not when this dude has had a such a massive psychotic break from reality.

  25. 25

    Candy, my questions exactly that put on my blog.  The assumptions are obviously racist and without substantiation.  Just a crackpot but one in a teaching position.  Imagine.

  26. 26
    Stevie says:

    Candy wrote: Second of all: it’s not MY country. Shit, I only became a permanent resident a few months ago. Does this make my criticism sting any less or be any more valid? Posted by Candy on 09/05 at 11:12 AM

    Me: Candy, you became a citizen a few months ago?  Then this IS your country. And yes one of the freedoms here is to say pretty much whatever you want.  And with that same right I can defend the other position.  However, it is your website and provoking you serves no purpose, does it.

    Lilith wrote: Not to burst your bubble, Steve, but we already have given and will continue to give.  (hey, I read all your weblogs, I suppose I’m pathetic.

    Me: Lilith I don’t know who you’re referring to; my name is Stevie, not Steve.  I’m a female and I don’t have a weblog.

    I do read this blog frequently and I enjoy it. There’s a lot of anger here and my only purpose was to direct it toward something more productive.  Giving blood tomorrow would be a good thing and help out tremendously.


  27. 27

    Okay, “Stevie.” The weblogs I read are those of the commenters that maintain blogs. Sorry I didn’t make that quite clear.

    As for productive anger, in my personal opinion the anger here is quite productive, thank you very much. Anger is a clear sign that something wrong has happened and that boundaries have been trespassed. With all the spin the right wing is doing to shift blame away from Bush and his culture of patronizing the rich, not to mention his imperialism, the anger of those in the blogosphere who are providing links to news articles and providing commentary as well is incredibly necessary and productive, lest the mainstream media short-strokes Bush like they did in the infamous Rush To War With Iraq.

    Trust me, a Smart Bitch doesn’t open her mouth until she’s done what she can for the victims first. And like I said, we shall continue to give- and to be productively angry.

  28. 28
    Candy says:

    “Candy, you became a citizen a few months ago?”

    Permanent resident != citizen. Go to the USCIS website to look up the difference.

    As of now, I can’t vote. Hell, because of my conditional green card, I can’t even leave the country without going through a bunch of red tape and paying a couple of hundred dollars in filing fees for the privilege.

  29. 29
    Candy says:

    Oh yeah, and I can’t move without informing the Department of Homeland Security within 10 days of the move. Can’t forget THAT, since we’re moving in just a few weeks.

  30. 30
    Stevie says:

    As I mentioned earlier, I’ve enjoyed this blog in the past and thought comments were accepted.  Sorry to have taken up your time and the treatment here is noted.  Signing off and won’t be bothering again. 


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