Republicans Party On as Hurricane and Disaster Loom

(Before the Deluge.)

Isaac will be a Cateogry 1 Hurricane when it hits Louisiana around 7 pm tonight. New Orleans is directly in its cross-hairs. Here's the latest advisory.

How much has been learned in the seven years since Hurricane Katrina? Even the $10 billion invested in its hurricane risk reduction system hasn't fixed the attitudes of some:

Jefferson Parish officials issued a stern warning to anyone who dares tread outside during Tropical Storm Isaac. "If you create damage, you are going to jail,'' Sheriff Newell Normand said during a news conference that just wrapped up.


And in 2005, during Katrina, off to jail they went. Many unfortunate enough to already be in jail were abused or left to die -- intentionally:

In the days before the hurricane, when other citizens of New Orleans were ordered to leave, city leaders were asked: "What about the prisoners in the jail?"

"The prisoners will stay where they belong," replied Marlin Gusman, the criminal sheriff in charge of the city jail. .

Most of those in the Orleans Parish Prison were there for minor offenses like unpaid fines and jaywalking. Some hadn't been charged. One third were charged but couldn't make bond and were waiting for their trials --still cloaked in innocence. After Katrina hit, violent offenders from other prisons were moved in with them.

Here are some of their letters and testimony of the evacuees.

Some of the heaviest looters were the police. Among those who were not: three people who looted a liquor store got 15 year sentences. They were lucky compared to the unarmed civilians who were just shot and killed by police: A developmentally disabled man was shot in the back. Part of a woman's arm was "blown off." Two of the men died. The officers were cleared by the New Orleans Police Department's internal investigation. Then they were indicted for murder. then, due to misconduct by the district attorney's office, charges were dropped. In 2010, they were charged and convicted by a federal jury of a coverup and civil rights violations.

Among the more heartwarming stories: Texas prison inmates served as caretakers to the evacuees and Louisiana inmates became first responders.

Katrina was a colossal failure for the Bush Administration from GW Bush on down to "Heck of a job Brownie," Michael Brown.

It was also a civil rights disaster, from martial law being imposed, to orders by the Governor to shoot to kill, to rampant inmate abuse, and the abandonment of the elderly and sick who were left to die. 46 bodies were recovered from one hospital alone.

Then there was the Louisiana National Guard's Combat Operations:

Combat operations are underway on the streets “to take this city back” in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. “This place is going to look like Little Somalia,” Brig. Gen. Gary Jones, commander of the Louisiana National Guard’s Joint Task Force told Army Times Friday as hundreds of armed troops under his charge prepared to launch a massive citywide security mission from a staging area outside the Louisiana Superdome. “We’re going to go out and take this city back. This will be a combat operation to get this city under control.”

As Republicans gather in Tampa to celebrate the coronation of their lackluster candidate, Mitt Romney, here's a smattering of Republican responses at the time to the plight of Hurricane Katrina victims:

There's Barbara Bush, giving her informed opinion that the plight of those in the Houston Astrodome wasn't too bad -- they were mostly poor people anyway, so they must be used to these conditions:

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."

Putting aside the elitism in her Marie Antoinette-ish comment, how was it working well for them? Here's a picture of the evacuees at the Astrodome. Conditions were better than at the Superdome, but still inadequate for such huge numbers of people. Is anyone used to living like that?

Condi Rice went shopping for shoes in New York. Dick Cheney was nowhere to be found. But he was heard from -- he directed that power be restored to a pipeline pumping station in Southern Mississippi, at the expense of restoring power to a rural hospital first. The repair crews were diverted.

Rick Santorum was concerned with those who didn't voluntarily evacuate, saying they should be fined:

You have people who don't heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving."

Then-President Bush proposed militarizing part of FEMA.

Republicans were concerned about the cost of Katrina relief. One of their proposals: cut funding to PBS (but nothing about cutting the infamous bridge to nowhere in Alaska.) Another absurd Republican suggestion: Audit the tax returns of poor people to make sure they qualify for the earned income tax credit.

The Bush Administration's massive Fail during Katrina was all the worse considering the damage from Katrina was predictable. On Sunday, August 28, 2005, the day before Katrina hit, experts predicted New Orleans will turn into an Atlantis and more than 1 million people will be homeless.

When Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans on Monday, it could turn one of America's most charming cities into a vast cesspool tainted with toxic chemicals, human waste and even coffins released by floodwaters from the city's legendary cemeteries.

Here was the NOA's official description of the potential damage the night before Katrina hit:

Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks...perhaps longer. At least one half of well constructed homes will have roof and wall failure. All gabled roofs will fail...leaving those homes severely damaged or destroyed.

The majority of industrial buildings will become non functional. Partial to complete wall and roof failure is expected. All wood framed low rising apartment buildings will be destroyed. Concrete block low rise apartments will sustain major damage...including some wall and roof failure.

High rise office and apartment buildings will sway dangerously...a few to the point of total collapse. All windows will blow out.

Airborne debris will be widespread...and may include heavy items such as household appliances and even light vehicles. Sport utility vehicles and light trucks will be moved. The blown debris will create additional destruction. Persons...pets...and livestock exposed to the winds will face certain death if struck.

Power outages will last for weeks...as most power poles will be down and transformers destroyed. Water shortages will make human suffering incredible by modern standards.

The vast majority of native trees will be snapped or uprooted. Only the heartiest will remain standing...but be totally defoliated. Few crops will remain. Livestock left exposed to the winds will be killed.

Republicans carried on business as usual in the wake of Katrina. President Bush was blasted from both sides, including this conservative newspaper in New Hampshire for giving a speech(like Republicans will be giving tonight and Wednesday night) in San Diego right after Katrina:

AS THE EXTENT of Hurricane Katrina's devastation became clearer on Tuesday millions without power, tens of thousands homeless, a death toll unknowable because rescue crews cant reach some regions President Bush carried on with his plans to speak in San Diego, as if nothing important had happened the day before. Katrina already is measured as one of the worst storms in American history. And yet, President Bush decided that his plans to commemorate the 60th anniversary of VJ Day with a speech were more pressing than responding to the carnage.

The international press was even harsher. "Bush Panics and Sends in the Marines".

The New York Times recounted the political fallout and the blame game tactics used by Republicans in the months after Katrina.

Leopards don't change their spots. Republicans will dine and and drink and listen to speeches while the Gulf Coast goes down. They will pay more attention to the ditzy tea partier and former TV actress giving a convention speech on (of all things) the importance of the Constitution than they will to the plight of those affected by the hurricane.

For all their lip service to family values and patriotism, it's a marvel how out of touch Republicans are with America. Perhaps tonight and Wednesday, as people channel surf from hurricane news to vapid Republican speeches, the disconnect will be too glaring to overlook.

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  • Display: Sort:
    You forgot Bush vacationing and partying (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by scribe on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 05:14:37 AM EST
    while NOLA drowned.

    Google bush katrina guitar in the images tab for a collection of him (in California) mugging with a custom guitar, getting a cake from John McCain, and looking out the window of Air Force One at the sump that was a great city.

    And let's not forget the Potemkin illumination of a building, just to be a backdrop, for his speech post-Katrina.  Bring in the generators, illuminate the building, he speaks, when done turn off the generators again.

    And the formaldehyde-laden FEMA trailers people were expected to live in.

    And a claims process designed to get people to quit trying to get compensation.

    Words fail.

    Now why didn't I think of that? (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by lentinel on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 09:22:23 AM EST
    Sheriff Newell of Jefferson Parish has the answer - and it's so simple:

    Jefferson Parish officials issued a stern warning to anyone who dares tread outside during Tropical Storm Isaac. "If you create damage, you are going to jail,'' Sheriff Newell Normand said during a news conference that just wrapped up.

    Sure, that's ok as far as it goes, but the obvious answer is to threaten Isaac directly since it will be creating the most damage.
    Send Isaac to jail, and we can all relax and watch the dreck unfolding in Florida.

    Don't Forget... (5.00 / 4) (#5)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 09:27:08 AM EST
    ...the D's are up next week, and as much as I would like to think they do better, there is no doubt people will be suffering while they wine and dine.

    The D convention starts next Tuesday, day after Labor Day, and if this plays out the way they are predicting, next Monday will most certainly be a day/week of need for Gulf Residents.

    I would be very cautious about calling the R's black before this thing plays out.  Unless it fizzles out, the D's will be doing what the R's are doing, partying while the Nation is in need.  But that pretty much encapsulates who we have become, the haves living it up while the have nots suffer.

    Oh stop that (1.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Slado on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 11:00:17 AM EST
    It doesn't matter what dems do because they really care.

    As long as you support more government it doesn't matter what you do or say.  We know what you meant.


    What ? (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 02:12:49 PM EST
    I support a government that takes care of people who can't, if you need to fit that on a bumper sticker, be my guest.

    But that had nothing to do with my point, which of course was D's will most likely be wining and dining while people suffer.  They do it every day, and while they do it less then their opponents, they aren't going to walk away from their convention without some scars.  The very scars this post tells us we should hold the other guys to the flame for.


    Slado (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by jondee on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 03:03:12 PM EST
    so, "less government" across the board? Really?

    Less regulation in the financial markets?

    ..Just let natural selection take it's course, and let the chips - and your fellow citizens - fall where they may?



    From the NYT editorial, August 28: (5.00 / 5) (#7)
    by KeysDan on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 10:10:33 AM EST
    "..Isaac is more than just a logistical inconvenience for Republicans gathered in Tampa, it is a powerful reminder both of Republican incompetence in handling Katrina seven years ago, and the party's no-less-disastrous plans to further cut emergency-related spending.  

    That is not something you will hear Paul Ryan talk about, nor any of the other lawmakers who make simplistic promises about the power of slashing government spending.. But, the budgets assembled by Mr. Ryan and warmly embraced by Mitt Romney severely cut spending for emergency preparation..  Between 2010 and 2012 House Republicans forced a reduction of 43 percent in the primary grants from FEMA that pay for disaster preparedness.  That is $1.8 billion that will not be available for evacuation equipment and supplies, communications gear that lets first responders speak to one another, and training exercises.  

     ....One of the themes of the Tampa convention will be the failure of government, and the prosperity that will result if is is cut to ribbons.  But in a different corner of the television screen, the winds of Isaac are a reminder of the necessity of government--its labor, its expertise, its money--in the nation's most dire moments."    

    I followed every link (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by sj on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 10:30:44 AM EST
    And my soul was filled with horror all over again.  The year 2005 was also personally devastating for my family.  It took a long time to build emotional scar tissue over all of that and apparently it isn't very thick.  For three seasons tears were never very far away.  They aren't right now either.

    And reading the comments to some of your posts makes me want to troll rate the 7 year-old a$$ of "those" more interested blaming "leftys" for what amounts to bad press, than opening "their" eyes to what was unfolding before "them".

    BTW, the pre-disaster federal relief that (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by ruffian on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 04:23:21 PM EST
    Jindal, Scott and Barber have already applied for was passed by the Dems and Obama, and fought by Paul Ryan. I hope the Dems bring that up next week.

    Katrina was a collosal (2.00 / 3) (#11)
    by Slado on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 11:04:22 AM EST
    Failure of government at all levels.

    Local, State and Federal.

    But don't forget the Army Core of Engineers.   They ultimately where at fault for the massive flooding.

    There would have been no Katrina disaster in NO if they had built a decent wall.  

    That said we'll see how the new group handle sit but I suspect we shouldn't read to much into it because this will not be another Katrina.  

    it was the Bush Administration (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 11:15:45 AM EST
    I always found it a bit too convenient (5.00 / 4) (#13)
    by CST on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 11:48:06 AM EST
    that republicans argue that government is incompetent, while simultaneously denying the funding and oversight needed to make government competent.

    I forgot (none / 0) (#2)
    by jbindc on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 07:32:00 AM EST
    That in 008, the Republican convention had the first day also basically cut because of Hurricane Gustav.  Most of the day was used as a "call to action" to help victims, and the partying and formal business  didn't really start until the second day.

    Guess they learned their lesson from Katrina.

    Speaking of channel surfing (none / 0) (#3)
    by fishcamp on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 07:42:04 AM EST
    I stopped on Fox News for a second (horrors) while Gretchen was interviewing Michele Bachman.  Regardless what Michele was saying her nasal twanged out voice made me want to scream.  So I did.

    Even before Katrina's landfall... (none / 0) (#6)
    by unitron on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 09:30:37 AM EST
    ...the very first thing to flood was the Louisiana National Guard's Jackson Barracks where they had concentrated most of their resources, like communications gear, big trucks, etc.

    "Brownie" had to run everything through Chertoff at DHS, so instead of being able to just get things done, he was micromanaged.

    The bridge to "nowhere" actually went to an island where the Murkowski family owned land, the value of which would have skyrocketed with the improved access.

    Rainfall (none / 0) (#8)
    by CoralGables on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 10:12:49 AM EST
    With the right side of the storm cruising South Florida, the highest rainfall total I could find for the 48 hours of Isaac was 13 inches.

    Expected rainfall far to the right side could be much more than the left as the outer bands right now are over the Carolinas. Expect post storm flooding to be a bigger issue than the wind as the storm makes its way north and then northeast.

    After Louisiana and Mississippi, the 5 day tracking map has it dumping heavy rains in Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and possibly even Michigan as we head for the weekend. Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky will also likely get a good bath.

    What is Obama doing today? (none / 0) (#17)
    by Payaso on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 06:57:16 PM EST
    Last time I checked he was out campaigning.