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Where is James Lee Witt when we need him?

posted by Last Night in Little Rock, on the road for 4 days, MM447, NY Thruway

I don't know about you, but the New Orleans disaster has rocked me to the center of my being, almost to the degree of 9/11. Why? It is a different type of loss, brought on by an "enemy," but the property damage and loss of life will be greater and it was brought on by budget cuts to fund tax cuts for the rich. Instead of dying in an instant or an hour, thousands will die a slow death. The pathetic response we are seeing from the federal government, both Executive and Legislative branches, should make us want to revolt that the government has failed us because we have squandered people, lives, resources, and money in Iraq.

Remember the Preamble to the Constitution that we had to learn in the Fifth Grade?

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The Bush Administration apparently never read it.

FEMA is now just another bureaucratic level within the Department of Homeland Security. It has become a dinosaur stuck in the tar pits, and it is dying before our eyes.

James Lee Witt, an Arkansan, was FEMA Director under President Clinton, and he had the cojones to immediately go to the scene and take control. Clinton gave him power, and he used it for the national good. We were served well by him. In any natural disaster, he was there, he was on TV telling us what was going on, and he got things done. He did not sit on his hands in a Washington office getting information from CNN or FoxNews. James Lee Witt works in Little Rock, and I'll bet my house he's working on this disaster somehow. If he ran FEMA, the response would be markedly different, instead of the "what do I do now?" look of Michael Chertoff we see today.

I'm on the road, so my source of information is Air America Radio. I only get sadder as this worsens. My daughter lives in NYC, and I took her terrified call from her Med School dorm room four years ago because she could see the WTC from 200 blocks away asking me what was going on. I have friends in NOLA I can't find out if they are safe.

The federal response to 9/11 was to capitalize on it. The federal response to Katrina is to minimize it. But there is a photo op tomorrow. Heard about the snipers shooting at helicopters, Mr. President? Take time away from your Gameboy and catch up.

If Congress and the President had any guts, they would be meeting today, getting things done. Instead, we will have a photo op of Bush flying into NOLA tomorrow, with all his security forces, making it harder for those who need to save people to do their jobs. Instead of using a dozen helicopters for a photo op while CNN just reported sniper fire at hospital patients being evacuated, for God's sake, save the trip and ACT--send them down there to save lives. Call out 100,000 National Guardsmen, if they aren't already in Iraq fighting your stupid war.

"We fighting them there so we don't have to fight them here." How safe are we? If a terrorist took out that levee without warning, 200,000 people would have died.

Is stupidity and incompetence a "high crime [or] misdemeanor"? When a President has a mental vapor lock over a natural disaster, yes it is. Every person in America should be outraged.

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  • Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Sep 01, 2005 at 12:16:11 PM EST
    Well, me being active duty military, and therefore not rich, at least the tax cut I received did not contribute to the hurricane like the tax cut for the nasty rich. Plus I was able to put that money in the bank and keep out of circulation thereby preventing some worker from being exploited in order to make consumer goods for me.

    Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#2)
    by DawesFred60 on Thu Sep 01, 2005 at 12:21:23 PM EST
    If we "our" the people, you wouldn't know it from the total mass in new orleans. in fact this would be the "perfect", time for bin laden to attack, this non nation, but if he can't attack we don't really have a real enemy only a made up one by bush and business. cnn killing all over new orleans dead and cops shooting it out with gangs. oh yes food drop now starting and some little help has come into the city. people being arrested for escaping and people being shot be gangs and cops at one time, what a plan for life as bush just said.

    Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Sep 01, 2005 at 12:21:46 PM EST
    Wyle- The cartoon version of you was more interesting. Good to see that trickle down ecomics has worked for you. Hope you do not have to use VA hospital caus it'll be your savings or your life.

    Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#4)
    by DawesFred60 on Thu Sep 01, 2005 at 12:24:16 PM EST
    wile e. coyote kill bin laden, and thank you for being in the military long live the old USA.

    Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#5)
    by scribe on Thu Sep 01, 2005 at 12:33:33 PM EST
    Cuttin' 'n' pastin', one of the droids from NRO had this to say about W's speech (and all this N.O. stuff): "Look, it's not too much to say that the continued viability of his presidency resides in how he and the administration respond in the next week." With friends like that....

    Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Sep 01, 2005 at 12:59:50 PM EST
    As we say in education, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Remember W's dad... when he did even go see the worst oil spill in American history. Indifference to everything except the bottom line could be in the Bush family genes. Some intellegent design!

    Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#7)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Sep 01, 2005 at 01:02:01 PM EST
    Like everyone else, I'm horrified at the sheer incompetence showed by the Bush administration over this catastrophe. But I'm not in the slightest bit surprised. This is how they have acted in evertyhing they've touched since the moment Bush was sworn in - poorly. (Note to rightwingers, who often have difficulty comprehending plain English: Of course the hurricane itself was an act of God. But what is causing deaths is the lack of emergency response, which is Bush's responsibility. He was warned, just as he was warned about bin Laden. And he simply crippled the agencies that warned him. Face it my friends, Bush is a flake.)

    Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Sep 01, 2005 at 01:23:23 PM EST
    Have the American public had enough of our current administration yet? Our President doesn't have the brains God gave a goose! He seems to have absolutely no ability to plan and anticipate various scenarios. Where was "Homeland Security"? Two years ago I heard a report on NPR concerning what would happen to New Orleans if it was hit my a big hurricane or if the levees broke--you can't tell me that no one ever thought that something like this could happen. It is plain for me to see that the suffering people left in New Orleans are the poor--they probably couldn't afford to get out of the city before the storm hit and now they are left to endure the consequences of the wealthiest of American's greed! America should be totally embarrassed at the video being shown around the world of the color of the faces left in New Orleans! I've never seen my country in such horrible shape. Over the last five years we have slid further and further down the slippery slope into degradation.

    Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#9)
    by terry on Thu Sep 01, 2005 at 01:41:04 PM EST
    I would even settle for Guiliani at this point. Whether he really managed things well after 9/11 or simply portrayed an aura of competence and calm in the face of disaster, he helped rally a city and a nation in the face of calamity. Neither Bush nor the local officials have been able to do that with Katrina and it appears that the worst of human nature rather than the best has been brought out. Of course Bush is incompetent, perhaps criminally so, but some competent people have to come to the rescue. Right now it seems like a lot of people in this country are displaying their patriotism by opening their wallets for their fellow citizens, but no one is able to exercise even the most minimal sort of leadership to keep some level of order and get the supplies to those in the most dire need. Has Mr Witt volunteered his services publicly so that Bush can not claim later he never offered? How about drafting Guiliani to give press reports every hour on the hour concerning progress that is being made? When will the national guard troops arrive in sufficent numbers to establish security? Are they still in "staging" areas? Are the ships which should have left port on the East Coast Saturday night in position yet? I mean up here in Wisconsin it looks like a couple of football players are doing more to provide immediate help then the government of the world's only "super power"

    Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#10)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Sep 01, 2005 at 01:45:39 PM EST
    Fats Domino is missing in the flood.
    Domino has sold more than 110 million records in his long career, including the legendary singles "Blueberry Hill" and "Ain't That a Shame."
    His 1950 recording of "The Fat Man" is sometimes called the first real rock 'n' roll record. He was among the first honorees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


    Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#11)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Sep 01, 2005 at 02:02:16 PM EST
    terry-Guiliani would be safe in another city while ordering his army to shoot all looters on sight and ask questions later. His city would be then be safe and free of the trash. Guiliani is as bad as Bush, and nastier.

    Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#12)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Sep 01, 2005 at 02:06:38 PM EST
    Posted by tristero: "Like everyone else, I'm horrified at the sheer incompetence showed by the Bush administration over this catastrophe." Not like everyone. Many of us recognize NEGLIGENCE when we see it. It takes a special kind of HATRED for the common man to find ways to act as negligent as possible. The guitar bit was SPECIAL. It joins a long list of Special Expressions of a Dictator's Hatred. Bush feels, as did Hitler (paraphrased): 'There is a special thrill that comes from realizing how vulnerable the public is to being misled.' It's the hatred of the con artist; in this case seeing citizens as MARKS. Mission Accomplished. Let them eat sewage.

    Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#13)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 01, 2005 at 02:44:47 PM EST
    Leaders have always been accountable for their actions, Bush style. In 2002 Mike Parker was fired.
    The assistant secretary of the Army, Mississippi's former U.S. Rep. Mike Parker, was forced out Wednesday after he criticized the Bush administration's proposed spending cuts on Army Corps of Engineers' water projects, members of Congress said. "I think he was fired for being too honest and not loyal enough to the president," said lobbyist Colin Bell, who represents communities with corps-funded projects. Bell said Parker resigned about noon after being given about 30 minutes to choose between resigning or being fired.
    link And if that is not enough:
    ....on March 1, 2003, Brown assured skeptics that under the new arrangement, the country would be served by "FEMA on steroids"--a faster, more effective disaster agency.
    That is if you live in Jeb's Florida. Witt continues to do a great job:
    Lately, though, Witt has had nothing to say publicly about the agency's performance. His disaster management company, James Lee Witt Associates, recently won a $250,000 contract with Orlando, Fla., to help the city get its share of post-hurricane FEMA money. A company spokesman says that Witt will be making no comment while Florida's recovery efforts continue, out of respect for his former colleagues.
    link via josh marshall

    Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#14)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Sep 01, 2005 at 02:47:03 PM EST
    One more thing: THIS ISN'T THE LAST HURRICANE. There are going to be a string of these, the next perhaps in a few weeks. By tanking the economy and destroying the Guard, by defunding the ACE (with their PRIMARY responsibility being the mouth of the Mississippi), by malconfiguring the Federal response organizing around political protest and recreational drugs -- Bush has set the country up for SUCH a fall, that this sort of shaking is going to seem like a minor 4.0 on the scale to come. If he takes us down, it will have been through the hard work of the CONSPIRACY that employs him.

    Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#15)
    by DawesFred60 on Thu Sep 01, 2005 at 03:00:59 PM EST
    listen to Ray Cooper he has the facts.

    Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#16)
    by scarshapedstar on Thu Sep 01, 2005 at 03:09:28 PM EST
    I refuse to believe this is the best that the world's most advanced country can do in the year 2005.

    Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#17)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Sep 01, 2005 at 03:15:21 PM EST
    I refuse to believe this is the best that the world's most advanced country can do in the year 2005.
    Guess your going to have a real problem when someone spills the beans on Santa Claus then.

    Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#18)
    by squeaky on Thu Sep 01, 2005 at 04:00:05 PM EST
    Pat Robertson is in on the relief action. I wonder how much of a cut he gets for administering the funds.
    FEMA has released to the media and on its Web site a list of suggested charities to help the storm’s hundreds of thousands of victims. The Red Cross is first on the list. The Rev. Pat Robertson’s “Operation Blessing” is next on the list.
    link Now it is third. via atrios

    Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#19)
    by john horse on Thu Sep 01, 2005 at 04:29:32 PM EST
    The federal response, or more precisely, lack of response, to New Orleans is a national disgrace. This was the perfect storm. The devastation of a category 4 hurricane paired with the incompetence of the Bush adminstration.

    Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#20)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:01 PM EST
    Incompetent they are -- but this is NEGLIGENCE. They are PROUD of it.

    Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#21)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:02 PM EST
    And that is what most depresses me, Paul in LA. This group of sociopaths that are in control of our country relish the sight of the poor, the weak, the infirm, and the minorities being destroyed. I think it gets them and their followers off. Just look how they are blaming all the groups I mentioned before for not having the wherewithall to get out of the way of this tragedy.

    Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#22)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:04 PM EST
    Answer me this: if Bush is truly the Christian he says he is, and if he is truly the leader he claims to be, then shouldn't he be ministering to those poor, hapless "American Refugees" who need him most? Oh, that's right, I forgot: he's not up for reelection. Sorry.

    Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#23)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:04 PM EST
    Shrub believes in intelligent design and natural selection. God has punished those poor black democrats and rewarded him with riches and power due to the mysterious workings of intelligent design. We do not need FEMA or Homeland Security because we have god on our side. Stay tuned for the next episode.

    Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#24)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:08 PM EST
    That is a good question. Where is James Lee Witt? An even better question is what did he do with the $500 million he was awarded in a contract last year to develop "a catastrophic hurricane disaster plan for Southeast Louisiana and the City of New Orleans"? link

    Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#25)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:08 PM EST
    "An even better question is what did he do with the $500 million" According to the cached google site you mention, it was 500 thousand dollars, not 500 million. And it was to develop a plan, not to implement it. I am guessing that the plan was finalized but never implemented, probably because it was found to cost too much by the Bushies, who can't pay for the Iraq war and the welfare of people in the United States at the same time (and Iraq takes precedence because of the threat posed by Saddam's weapons of mass destruction).

    Re: Where is James Lee Witt when we need him? (none / 0) (#26)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:18 PM EST
    BREAKING NEWS: Former FEMA Director and Clinton Appointee James Lee Witt has been hired by LA Governor to run relations between Federal and State authorities. There is more here.