September 6, 2005

Killed by Contempt

Paul Krugman gets it.

Each day since Katrina brings more evidence of the lethal ineptitude of federal officials. I'm not letting state and local officials off the hook, but federal officials had access to resources that could have made all the difference, but were never mobilized.

Here's one of many examples: The Chicago Tribune reports that the U.S.S. Bataan, equipped with six operating rooms, hundreds of hospital beds and the ability to produce 100,000 gallons of fresh water a day, has been sitting off the Gulf Coast since last Monday - without patients.

Experts say that the first 72 hours after a natural disaster are the crucial window during which prompt action can save many lives. Yet action after Katrina was anything but prompt. Newsweek reports that a "strange paralysis" set in among Bush administration officials, who debated lines of authority while thousands died.

What caused that paralysis? President Bush certainly failed his test. After 9/11, all the country really needed from him was a speech. This time it needed action - and he didn't deliver.

But the federal government's lethal ineptitude wasn't just a consequence of Mr. Bush's personal inadequacy; it was a consequence of ideological hostility to the very idea of using government to serve the public good. For 25 years the right has been denigrating the public sector, telling us that government is always the problem, not the solution. Why should we be surprised that when we needed a government solution, it wasn't forthcoming?

Does anyone remember the fight over federalizing airport security? Even after 9/11, the administration and conservative members of Congress tried to keep airport security in the hands of private companies. They were more worried about adding federal employees than about closing a deadly hole in national security.

Of course, the attempt to keep airport security private wasn't just about philosophy; it was also an attempt to protect private interests. But that's not really a contradiction. Ideological cynicism about government easily morphs into a readiness to treat government spending as a way to reward your friends. After all, if you don't believe government can do any good, why not?

Which brings us to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In my last column, I asked whether the Bush administration had destroyed FEMA's effectiveness. Now we know the answer.

Several recent news analyses on FEMA's sorry state have attributed the agency's decline to its inclusion in the Department of Homeland Security, whose prime concern is terrorism, not natural disasters. But that supposed change in focus misses a crucial part of the story.

For one thing, the undermining of FEMA began as soon as President Bush took office. Instead of choosing a professional with expertise in responses to disaster to head the agency, Mr. Bush appointed Joseph Allbaugh, a close political confidant. Mr. Allbaugh quickly began trying to scale back some of FEMA's preparedness programs.

You might have expected the administration to reconsider its hostility to emergency preparedness after 9/11 - after all, emergency management is as important in the aftermath of a terrorist attack as it is following a natural disaster. As many people have noticed, the failed response to Katrina shows that we are less ready to cope with a terrorist attack today than we were four years ago.

But the downgrading of FEMA continued, with the appointment of Michael Brown as Mr. Allbaugh's successor.

Mr. Brown had no obvious qualifications, other than having been Mr. Allbaugh's college roommate. But Mr. Brown was made deputy director of FEMA; The Boston Herald reports that he was forced out of his previous job, overseeing horse shows. And when Mr. Allbaugh left, Mr. Brown became the agency's director. The raw cronyism of that appointment showed the contempt the administration felt for the agency; one can only imagine the effects on staff morale.


That contempt, as I've said, reflects a general hostility to the role of government as a force for good. And Americans living along the Gulf Coast have now reaped the consequences of that hostility.

The administration has always tried to treat 9/11 purely as a lesson about good versus evil. But disasters must be coped with, even if they aren't caused by evildoers. Now we have another deadly lesson in why we need an effective government, and why dedicated public servants deserve our respect. Will we listen?

25 Comments:

At 9/06/2005 10:56 AM, Blogger DownLeft said...

I love the new poll. :)

 
At 9/06/2005 11:27 AM, Blogger diehard said...

In a way this is taking attention away from Iraq. But the problems in Lousiana cannot be seperate from Iraq.
You know those big Chinook Helicopters you see in Iraq?
I haven;t seen any of them in Lousiana.
The Guard is stationed in Iraq and cannot deal with a crisis 4,000 miles away!

 
At 9/06/2005 11:36 AM, Blogger Whetam Knauckweirst said...

The Bush administration are businessmen, not politicians. Politics is a means to an end. The end? Profits. It's been clear since 9/11 that BushCo is absolutely not serious about averting disasters. Catastrophes are great for business if you're connected to Carlysle Group, Halliburton, Kellogg, Brown & Root, Bechtel and numerous other contractors.

There are no more "citizens" any longer, just consumers. All you ever hear in the news is about consumer confidence. Shopping is the only meaningful way people avail of their personal freedoms and the faux democracy they perceive around themselves. The poor are not part of this, and therefore fall away to the margins.

Businessmen figured out decades ago where the big money was stored in America -- tax dollars -- and they headed for the golden glow on the horizon. Coming from corporate life, which is distinctly not democratic, where corporations have all the protections human beings enjoy, but none of the responsibility, we see a presidential administration filled with former CEOs who bring a corporate mindset to public life. These two mindsets are antithetical to one another. And we now see how this ant-trail into government has halted the essential functions of government.

And to see how unconsciously malicious, how completely unaware and innately insensitive these people are, read the comments by Barbara Bush yesterday about the victims of Hurricane Katrina who were brought to Texas: "So many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this -- this is working very well for them"...

BushCo and his cronies and his family are not even aware of their own inhumanity. Barbara Bush thought she was saying something encouraging. The disconnect between reality and fantasy and humanity and corporate-coldness has never been more apparent.

 
At 9/06/2005 1:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey post the interview of Mayor Ray blaming Banco, you Bush hatin dumbass

 
At 9/06/2005 2:42 PM, Blogger diehard said...

I saw Bill O'Reily comparing the Mayor of New Orleans to Gulliani's handeling of 9/11.
Totally different circumstances!
Now if all of New York was washed into the ocean then you could compare.
Besides the Bush Admin new about it anyway just like this disaster and did nothing!

 
At 9/06/2005 3:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Bush knew 9/11 was coming?

 
At 9/06/2005 4:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Battan story is bogus, don't rely on Krugman for research or facts. Dumbasses

 
At 9/06/2005 4:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and if that's one many examples, what are the others? Inside Dumbass?

 
At 9/06/2005 4:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

google the USS Battan find out what they have been up to. I'll await your correction.

 
At 9/06/2005 4:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

if you're gonna google it don't spell it like I did, correction Bataan

 
At 9/06/2005 5:10 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

anon, you might try being slightly coherant in you posts. That would go a long way.

Oh yeah... I almost forgot... dumbass.

 
At 9/06/2005 5:16 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anonymous troll... I googled it, and came up with this... dumbass.

Read it. I'll await your retraction.

You suggest that Krugman was wrong in his reporting, and then made the ridiculous leap of logic that nothing he says must be true. WELL, his reporting was spot on, as always. I await your pointing out any other inaccuracies in his article. Dumbass.

"Navy ship nearby underused
Craft with food, water, doctors needed orders


By Stephen J. Hedges
Tribune national correspondent
Published September 4, 2005


ON THE USS BATAAN -- While federal and state emergency planners scramble to get more military relief to Gulf Coast communities stricken by Hurricane Katrina, a massive naval goodwill station has been cruising offshore, underused and waiting for a larger role in the effort.

The USS Bataan, a 844-foot ship designed to dispatch Marines in amphibious assaults, has helicopters, doctors, hospital beds, food and water. It also can make its own water, up to 100,000 gallons a day. And it just happened to be in the Gulf of Mexico when Katrina came roaring ashore.

The Bataan rode out the storm and then followed it toward shore, awaiting relief orders. Helicopter pilots flying from its deck were some of the first to begin plucking stranded New Orleans residents.

But now the Bataan's hospital facilities, including six operating rooms and beds for 600 patients, are empty. A good share of its 1,200 sailors could also go ashore to help with the relief effort, but they haven't been asked. The Bataan has been in the stricken region the longest of any military unit, but federal authorities have yet to fully utilize the ship.

Captain ready, waiting

"Could we do more?" said Capt. Nora Tyson, commander of the Bataan. "Sure. I've got sailors who could be on the beach plucking through garbage or distributing water and food and stuff. But I can't force myself on people.

 
At 9/06/2005 5:17 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

And this isn't about defending the mayor, or defending anyone. If anyone was negligent or didn't react appropriately or do what they should, then they should be held accountible, no matter who they are.
But the facts as they exist strongly show that Bush, FEMA, and the federal government were in la-la land when it came to mobilizing resources.

 
At 9/06/2005 5:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Power Line, DUMBASS

The New York Times is in full hysteria mode, trying to turn the human tragedy associated with Hurricane Katrina into political fodder for the Democrats. Paul Krugman is one cog in the Times' wheel; on cue, he chimed in with a strident denunciation of the Bush administration's response to the hurricane. It was, of course terrible; Krugman begins:

Each day since Katrina brings more evidence of the lethal ineptitude of federal officials. I'm not letting state and local officials off the hook, but federal officials had access to resources that could have made all the difference, but were never mobilized.
Characteristically, Krugman avoids facts whenever possible. His columns consist almost entirely of invective; he grudgingly throws in a fact only when it can't be helped. Yesterday's column included exactly one fact, one instance of a "resource" that "could have made all the difference," but was "never mobilized." Krugman's one such example was the U.S.S. Bataan:

Here's one of many examples: The Chicago Tribune reports that the U.S.S. Bataan, equipped with six operating rooms, hundreds of hospital beds and the ability to produce 100,000 gallons of fresh water a day, has been sitting off the Gulf Coast since last Monday - without patients.
Experts say that the first 72 hours after a natural disaster are the crucial window during which prompt action can save many lives. Yet action after Katrina was anything but prompt. Newsweek reports that a "strange paralysis" set in among Bush administration officials, who debated lines of authority while thousands died.


So, according to Krugman, the Bataan, with its hospital and fresh water, constituted a resource that was "never mobilized," apparently because of "paralysis" on the part of the administration. In citing the Bataan as his best example of federal ineptitude, Krugman relied, as he so often does, on an urban legend that circulated on left-wing blogs: that the Bataan, which had been cruising in the Caribbean when Katrina struck, was ready and able to aid the hurricane's victims, but was prevented from doing so because the Defense Department never gave the order authorizing it to act. This rumor became so persistent that one of the ship's officers, Lt. Commander Sean Kelly, wrote to one of the left-wing sites to debunk the myth:

USNORTHCOM was prepositioned for response to the hurricane, but as per the National Response Plan, we support the lead federal agency in disaster relief — in this case, FEMA. The simple description of the process is the state requests federal assistance from FEMA which in turn may request assistance from the military upon approval by the president or Secretary of Defense. Having worked the hurricanes from last year as well as Dennis this year, we knew that FEMA would make requests of the military — primarily in the areas of transportation, communications, logistics, and medicine. Thus we began staging such assets and waited for the storm to hit.
The biggest hurdles to responding to the storm were the storm itself — couldn't begin really helping until it passed — and damage assessment — figuring out which roads were passable, where communications and power were out, etc. Military helos began damage assessment and SAR on Tuesday. Thus we had permission to operate as soon as it was possible. We even brought in night SAR helos to continue the mission on Tuesday night.

The President and Secretary of Defense did authorize us to act right away and are not to blame on this end. Yes, we have to wait for authorization, but it was given in a timely manner.


Poor Paul, always a day late and a dollar short, apparently didn't get the memo.

Still, if I were writing a column that I expected to be read by many thousands of people--oh, wait, I do--and if I were going to rest my column on a single "example" on the basis of which I intended to charge government officials with "lethal ineptitude," I would do a little fact-checking. Sadly, however, research is something of which Paul Krugman is simply incapable.

Perhaps Krugman doesn't know that large naval vessels like the U.S.S. Bataan all have web sites. Perhaps he doesn't know that there is a tool called "Google" that would enable him to find the Bataan's web site in less than ten seconds. Or perhaps he just didn't care enough to go here and read up on the Bataan's contributions to hurricane relief efforts.

If Krugman had taken the trouble, he would have found that on August 30, the same day on which New Orleans' levees burst, precipitating the crisis, men and women from the Bataan were already in action, and by the following day they were busy saving lives:

The crews flew off Tuesday night towards New Orleans and were tasked by the on-scene rescue coordinators. “Our first mission was to provide food and water and to take some people to a safer haven and to help with the levee by providing sandbags,” said AS2(AW/NAC) Johnny Ramirez, MH-53 Aircrewman for HM-15. “We weren't able to complete our assigned mission Tuesday night because it got too dark and it was too risky to land anywhere with all of the water and power lines. Instead, we just flew Tuesday night to survey the area.”
On Wednesday, a crew from HM-15 assisted with lifting numerous stranded citizens in a very short period of time. “My crew and I airlifted nearly 100 people from the roof of a building and onto a field where ambulances and busses were waiting for them,” said LCDR David Hopper, detachment Officer in Charge of HM-15. “Ten of those who we rescued couldn't even walk; my crewmen had to carry them.”

One of the missions of the MH-60 aircraft is search and rescue. HSC-28 personnel have rescued 71 people in their first two days of operation, seven in the first 30 minutes. HSC-28 has three crews and two aircraft and is alternating flight and crew rest time.


Here is a summary of the Bataan's efforts as of yesterday, when Krugman's column implied that the ship was a "resource" that was "never mobilized":

“We've been extremely busy this past week with more tasks than there are hours in a day,” said Cmdr. Jeffrey Bocchicchio, Bataan 's Air Boss. “The shortest day the department has had was 16 hours long, but they understand that everything we do is critical to the mission.”
"All of the divisions and Combat Cargo working together allows the ship to have a 24-hour flight deck with the manning for 10-hour days,” said Bocchicchio. “Military units are the nation's biggest assets and what better use for them than to save our own people.”

To date, the two squadrons have transported 1,613 displaced people and delivered more than 100,000 pounds of cargo. Bataan also provided 8,000 gallons of fresh drinking water to the ravished Gulfport, Mississippi area. Sailors filled eight 500-gallon water bladders with the ship's potable water and HM 15's MH-53 helicopters transported them from the flight deck of Bataan to land.


How about the unused operating rooms and empty hospital beds? It seems not to have occurred to Krugman that the most efficient way to get medical treatment to hurricane survivors is not to helicopter them, individually or in small groups, to a ship at sea. Instead, what happened was that medical personnel were assembled and equipped on board the Bataan, then flown to shore where they could treat the sick and wounded:

Two medical fly-away teams from the Navy's Casualty Receiving and Treatment Ship Team (CRTS) 8, based at Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Fla., left the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2005 , to provide medical support to Hurricane Katrina survivors at the New Orleans International Airport and a high school in Biloxi , Mississippi .
A 26-member primary care treatment team consisting of a pediatrician, family practice physician, an obstetrician along with seven nurses and 16 hospital corpsman departed early Sunday morning for New Orleans International Airport . They expect to return to the ship on Monday.

The second flyaway team, which consisted of an internal medicine physician, two nurses, a respiratory therapy technician and two general hospital corpsman, flew to Biloxi High School to take care of patients with respiratory illnesses. The team's main mission is to provide treatment for those who have respiratory problems. They are expected to return to the ship in two or three days.

The diversity of CRTS 8's composition allows the flexibility of establishing multiple mission-specific medical teams within a short time period. “The CRTS 8 team is glad to be onboard Bataan participating in the relief efforts,” said Cmdr. Michael Illovsky, MC, USN, Director of Medical Services for CRTS 8. “We are ready and willing to help out in any way possible. We are enthused about the opportunity to send groups into the affected areas where they are needed most.”

The 24-member medical team who left Saturday for the New Orleans Convention Center returned to Bataan Sunday afternoon.


This all happened during the three days prior to the appearance of Krugman's column describing the "hospital beds" "without patients" aboard the Bataan.

 
At 9/06/2005 5:49 PM, Blogger Randall Sherman said...

One must realize that any officer or spokesman from the USS Bataan would be VERY careful about saying anything that could be construed as criticizing their Commander-in-Chief, George W. Bush, even if Bush is clueless about what is going on.

 
At 9/06/2005 7:01 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Oh... you get your information from "Ass Missile", huh? Nice.

The fact still remains that the ships capacity was not being used.

Are you too stupid for that to sink in?

And since this tiny distinction is the only thing you have your little lacies in a knot about, you don't dispute the rest of Krugman's column.

Good.

Now go kick your dog or something, unless you're up to some more futile attempts to defend yourself.

What a sap.

 
At 9/06/2005 7:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That fact does not remain, you and Krugman are fucked up. I won you little bitch now go find diehard so he can make you feel better about your pathetic self. BTW I'm waiting for your theory on Rove killing Renquist to get Katrina out of the news, you moonbat fucknut, bye bye

 
At 9/06/2005 7:29 PM, Blogger diehard said...

Well 9/11 was planned ahead of time. No one new that the hurricane would do what it did.
If they had hurricanes and floods in Crawford were your idol George Bush likes to pretend he's a real man, a rancher or something, then maybe he would have understood it.

 
At 9/06/2005 7:29 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

See ya. So nice to have your contributions.

 
At 9/06/2005 8:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you got your ass kicked dopey

 
At 9/07/2005 10:44 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Saying in essence, "Nuh uh!!" calling me names, and skulking away is NOT kicking someone's ass.

Dream on.

 
At 9/07/2005 11:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You were wrong, won't admit it, you got your ass kicked.

 
At 9/08/2005 7:54 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

OK. One more time. I know you're just being stupid on purpose, but still, for the others.

Krugman: "Here's one of many examples: The Chicago Tribune reports that the U.S.S. Bataan, equipped with six operating rooms, hundreds of hospital beds and the ability to produce 100,000 gallons of fresh water a day, has been sitting off the Gulf Coast since last Monday - without patients."

OK? I'll give you a little time to read that again, since it has some big words in it.

Got it?

Now cut to the asshole anonymous (they're all assholes, it seems) comments. He cites some ridiculous right wing blog which tries unsucessfully to prove Krugman wrong.
It says that troops from the Bataan were flown in and set up some mobile medical tent or something, and that helicopters from the ship were flown on rescue missions.

OK? Have you got that?

The Chicago Trib DID report just what Krugman said it did, as is proved by the excerpt I included in comments above.

So follow me here.

A. Krugman was absolutely correct in characterizing what the Chicago Trib reported.

B. The Trib story was absolutely correct, and even included the CAPTAIN saying they could have done much more.

C. What Krugman said was that the ship was sitting there WITHOUT PATIENTS.

D. The Battan DID NOT HAVE ANY PATIENTS on board, where there are "six operating rooms, hundreds of hospital beds and the ability to produce 100,000 gallons of fresh water a day" OK???

All of that capability was being unused for patients and not one victim was brought on board.

Now tell me where Krugman was wrong and you two asshats are right.

Unless you can, (and you can't)please don't treat us to more of your idiocy.

 
At 9/08/2005 7:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

blah, blah you got your ass handed to you. he left the impression the ship had done nothing, and nothing, dunbass, could be furhter from the truth. he coould have said it did not have any patients because all the fucking medical staff went ashore to help people (or something).

 
At 9/09/2005 3:03 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

OK bonehead, what part of "The Chicago Tribune reports that the U.S.S. Bataan, equipped with six operating rooms, hundreds of hospital beds and the ability to produce 100,000 gallons of fresh water a day, has been sitting off the Gulf Coast since last Monday - without patients." is incorrect??

Come on.. Tell me, jackhole. What don't you understand. Where does it suggest that the ship did nothing? And where did Krugman go wrong in reporting what the TRIB was reporting? Did he mischaracterize the Trib piece. No.

And how do you explain that the ship's CAPTAIN said they could have done more?

And of course, all the rest of the damning article you have no problem with. That's good.

Hope you're not beating your wife because your saited Chimp is going down in flames.

You're truly a brain-dead butt-munch. It's like dealing with a child. Go Cheney yourself and give it up.

I see now that it's ridiculous to even respond to such an idiot. After all, the only evidence you cretins could muster was something some supid lawyer who calls himself ASSMISSLE on his blog writes. How pathetic.
Babble on all you want. I'm through with you.

 

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