Da Black Whole

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Primping Amidst the Deluge

Documents Show Katrina's Political Storm


Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 7 minutes ago [12/03/05]

NEW ORLEANS - As Hurricane Katrina roared ashore and began its assault on homes and lives across Louisiana, a political storm was brewing in the Louisiana governor's office and the White House, newly released documents show.

Memos, handwritten notes, e-mails and phone logs turned over late Friday to congressional committees investigating failures in the government's disaster response shed more light on what happened behind the scenes in the frantic days surrounding the Aug. 29 storm.
Katrina stranded thousands of people in homes, on rooftops and in the Superdome for days, flooded neighborhoods and killed over 1,000 people in Louisiana alone.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco and others blamed the federal government for a slow response. The White House said that the governor was slow to ask for troops and that state and local officials were unorganized and indecisive.

The 100,000 pages of documents that Blanco sent to Congress on Friday include a series of letters starting with one Blanco sent
President Bush' name a day before the hurricane hit.

"I have determined that this incident will be of such severity and magnitude that effective response will be beyond the capabilities of the state and the affected local governments and that supplementary federal assistance will be necessary," Blanco wrote.

Three days after the storm, Blanco wrote Bush asking that the 256th Louisiana National Guard Brigade be sent home from
Iraq to help. The governor also asked for more generators, medicine, health care workers and mortuaries.

Five days later, Bush assistant Maggie Grant e-mailed Blanco aide Paine Gowen to say that the White House did not receive the letter.

"We found it on the governor's Web site but we need 'an original,' for our staff secretary to formally process the requests she is making," Grant wrote. "We are on the job but appreciate your help with a technical request. Tnx!"

The stack of documents also includes a timeline put together by Blanco's staff detailing the state response; notes expressing frustration about missing items such as a communications center for police and rescuers promised by the Federal Emergency Management Agency; and e-mails working out logistics for New Orleans visits from Bush and cabinet members.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Saturday that she hadn't seen the documents.

"There are many reviews underway to look back and review how the events unfolded during that week and all levels of government have to take stock of what happened, act on that and make sure that it doesn't happen again," Perino said.

Other exchanges between the governor's staff and the White House show public relations was a priority for both administrations.

Grant, Bush's aide, e-mailed Gowen Sep. 13 asking if Blanco would be attending a Washington, D.C., service marking the president's "National Day of Prayer." If she didn't, Grant wrote, "We'd love to have someone like Homeland Security Secretary (Michael) Chertoff attend a service with her."

For the state's part, Blanco's chief of staff Andy Kopplin e-mailed employees Sept. 4 saying they needed to get national supporters to say "that the federal response was anemic" and asked them to point out budget cuts to levee programs.

While Blanco's office wanted to blame the federal government, the documents show that her staff didn't want it to appear as if the federal government was seizing state power.

When Bush visited New Orleans on Sept. 5 Blanco was initially supposed to visit evacuees in Houston, but Blanco spokeswoman Denise Bottcher didn't like the idea of Bush being in the state when the governor wasn't.

"Reinforces the notion that she's not in charge and LA needs to be federalized," she e-mailed Kopplin.

Blanco's communication's director Bob Mann agreed, the documents show, and Blanco stayed to meet Bush.

The Democratic governor's staff also griped that Republicans were attacking Blanco.

"Rove is on the prowl," says one unexplained Sept. 3 message from Kopplin to Mann, a reference to Bush adviser Karl Rove.

Folks suffering and dying, and what response from our bi-partisan "leaders"?

They're jockeying for public-relations position, avidly attempting to spin the scenario and place themselves in the most profitable media light.

These are the very same people and political parties constantly jabbering about morality, family values, personal responsibility and -- worst of all -- their twisted versions of "Christianity."

It's beyond pathetic: it's criminal, and illustrates the devolution of America. While southern Louisiana floats away before their eyes, the man and woman chiefly responsible for attending to the citizenry's needs masturbate their egos and attempt to capitalize on the disaster.

My dogs have more developed senses of honor, duty, and commitment than these Republicraps. Behind our backs they dance with glee, count our money, and betray our trust, shitting on the good name this country once had.

The cynicism of these people is matched only by their hypocrisy.

They send Americn boys across the world to be mutilated and blown up, while they jerk each other off and primp for the cameras.

I live near a small town with a handful of gas stations. One of them is an old-style, three-pump station, owned and operated by a grizzle-faced coot in his late-fifties or early-sixties. I think he's been there for decades.

Just to survive, he has to charge a few pennies more than the nearby mega-stations. His profit-margin is infinitesimal. He does not drive a Humvee.

Today the average temperature was about fifteen degrees. Yet there he was at 6:30 a.m. -- just like every other frozen morning -- wrenching on rigs and bustling about his shop like it was summer in Acapulco.

He won't let you pump your own gas. He'd never mention it, but it's more than a business-edge: it's obviously a point-of-honor also. He's fairly taciturn, but always ready with a kind word or a brief exchange of pleasantries. If you drive past and honk, he stops what he's doing and waves.

He doesn't know me from Adam. But you think I ain't going to bat for him?

Think again.

Yesterday, we stood in the snow while he pumped my gas. I commented on the cold and mini-blizzard. His remark was "We need it. Every little bit helps."

Perhaps this vignette helps explain why, when I read news accounts like the above, my radiator boils over.

Mere incompetence can be overcome. But no matter how many cops you have, no matter how many laws, no matter how much Homeland "Security," no nation can survive the willful dereliction of duty of marginal-humans like Blanco and Bush. Our "leadership" is not merely ineffective, it's traitorous . . . not to mention a mockery of the "God" they claim to "worship."

Down with them all. That station-owner probably didn't finish high-school. But he's the salt of this nation, infinitely more qualified for high office than the thieves -- and worse -- that "lead" this country.

No-one is asking scum like Bush and Blanco to love the people they putatively serve. I don't think either one of them is capable of love. But it sure would be nice if our mistresses and masters didn't actively ignore the interests of the citizenry.

With (mis)leadership like theirs, America needs no enemies.


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