April 14, 2005 Header

Married, moved, and getting it together.

September 2005 Nine posts

Lyrics of the Week

A beautiful song, so simple, so serene:

Brian Eno.

We climbed and we climbed,
Oh, how we climbed
My, how
We climbed
Over the stars
To top
Tiger Mountain
Forcing the lines through the snow.

We climbed and we climbed,
Oh, how we climbed
My, how
We climbed
Over the stars
To top
Tiger Mountain
Forcing the lines through the snow.

It’s been a trying week. Back out of hibernation next week.

New Orleans Must Be

New Orleans: A Geopolitical Prize (Stratfor):

…it was geography — the extraordinary system of rivers that flowed through the Midwest and allowed them to ship their surplus to the rest of the world. All of the rivers flowed into one — the Mississippi — and the Mississippi flowed to the ports in and around one city: New Orleans. It was in New Orleans that the barges from upstream were unloaded and their cargos stored, sold and reloaded on ocean-going vessels. Until last Sunday, New Orleans was, in many ways, the pivot of the American economy.

For that reason, the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815 was a key moment in American history. Even though the battle occurred after the War of 1812 was over, had the British taken New Orleans, we suspect they wouldn’t have given it back. Without New Orleans, the entire Louisiana Purchase would have been valueless to the United States. Or, to state it more precisely, the British would control the region because, at the end of the day, the value of the Purchase was the land and the rivers – which all converged on the Mississippi and the ultimate port of New Orleans. The hero of the battle was Andrew Jackson, and when he became president, his obsession with Texas had much to do with keeping the Mexicans away from New Orleans.

During the Cold War, a macabre topic of discussion among bored graduate students who studied such things was this: If the Soviets could destroy one city with a large nuclear device, which would it be? The usual answers were Washington or New York. For me, the answer was simple: New Orleans. If the Mississippi River was shut to traffic, then the foundations of the economy would be shattered. The industrial minerals needed in the factories wouldn’t come in, and the agricultural wealth wouldn’t flow out. Alternative routes really weren’t available. The Germans knew it too: A U-boat campaign occurred near the mouth of the Mississippi during World War II.

It follows from this that the port will have to be revived and, one would assume, the city as well. The ports around New Orleans are located as far north as they can be and still be accessed by ocean-going vessels. The need for ships to be able to pass each other in the waterways, which narrow to the north, adds to the problem. Besides, the Highway 190 bridge in Baton Rouge blocks the river going north. New Orleans is where it is for a reason: The United States needs a city right there.

New Orleans is not optional for the United States’ commercial infrastructure. It is a terrible place for a city to be located, but exactly the place where a city must exist. With that as a given, a city will return there because the alternatives are too devastating. The harvest is coming, and that means that the port will have to be opened soon. As in Iraq, premiums will be paid to people prepared to endure the hardships of working in New Orleans. But in the end, the city will return because it has to.

The whole thing is worth a read.

Will Reed and Astrodome Internet

An email from my friend Susan, about a friend of hers who is doing great work at the Astrodome:

A friend of mine, Will Reed, runs a program in Houston that sets up community tech centers. When Will heard that evacuees were coming to town, he immediately went to work to set up a tech center in the Astrodome. He worked the phones (Will is good at that!) and got donations, equipment and volunteers. It was operational by Saturday Sept 3rd with 90 computers and WiFi. They’ve helped thousands of people post “I’m OK” messages and try to track down their families. Another friend, Gene Crick, is doing a similar effort in Austin. If you read Will’s blog & notice when messages are posted, you’ll see that he’s working from 5 in the morning to 11 at night. But what they’re doing is amazing and heartbreaking.


Will, YOU ROCK and I want everyone to know it. I’m so proud of you!!

Awesome stuff.

White House authorized FEMA on 27 Aug 05

Blame Game, Set and Match

On Saturday, August 27, 2005 — two days before Hurricane Katrina made landfall — President George W. Bush assumed responsibility for the coordination of “all disaster relief efforts” in the State of Louisiana. This is the specific, undisputed language of Bush’s declaration of a State of Emergency, issued that day by the White House, and still available for viewing on the White House website. The responsibility for coordinating all disaster relief efforts in New Orleans clearly rested with the White House. Despite all the post-disaster spin by the Bush Faction and its sycophants, despite all the earnest media analyses, the lines of authority are clear and indisputable. Here is the voice of George W. Bush himself, in the proclamation issued in his name, over his signature on Saturday, August 27, 2005:

“The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of Louisiana and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts in the parishes located in the path of Hurricane Katrina beginning on August 26, 2005, and continuing. The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures”

Bush goes on to say: “Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.”

Breathing for People

EMS & Hurricane Katrina: Hurricane Katrina – Our Experiences:

We also suspect the media will have been inundated with “hero” images of the National Guard, the troops and the police struggling to help the “victims” of the Hurricane. What you will not see, but what we witnessed,were the real heroes and sheroes of the hurricane relief effort: the working class of New

Orleans. The maintenance workers who used a fork lift to carry the sick and disabled. The engineers, who rigged, nurtured and kept the generators running. The electricians who improvised thick extension cords stretching over blocks to share the little electricity we had in order to free cars stuck on rooftop parking lots. Nurses who took over for mechanical ventilators and spent many hours on end manually forcing air into the lungs of unconscious patients to keep them alive. Doormen who rescued folks stuck in elevators. Refinery workers who broke into boat yards, “stealing” boats to rescue their neighbors clinging to their roofs in flood waters. Mechanics who helped hot-wire any car that could be found to ferry people out of the City. And the food service workers who scoured the commercial kitchens improvising communal meals for hundreds of those stranded.

The many hours of manual ventilation, that is, breathing for someone with a bag like these, reminds me of my RT days.

Moorpark Packers

The Moorpark Packers website: (www.moorparkpackers.com) has gotten a facelift. Devon is helping work on the PHP backend, I did the minimal styling, and Tony and Ty are on one of the actual teams. It’s a family affair.

In a few days it should even be the #1 hit for a search on google for moorpark packers, since we ditched the HTML frames layout.

Kudos to Dev for learning on the job some pretty fun PHP/MySQL programming. I’m very proud of his work.

More Katrina Links

Keith Olbermann/MSNBC: Editorial comment on Katrina and failed government.
City of New Orleans, Disaster Preparedness: Hurricanes
Bush’s cynical photo ops on the Gulf Coast
New Orleans Times-Picayune keeps on keeping on.
Some Astrodome Pix
First hand hurricane account: Mayhem.
FEMA timeline: yuck
Satellite/aerial photos of Katrina damage (links from Rafe Colburn)
LiveJournal of a Nurse from N.O.
Crews Wage Five-Day Battle To Plug 17th Street Breach
Houston Chronicle: KEEPING ITS HEAD ABOVE WATER: New Orleans faces doomsday scenario, December 2001
Mark Cuban: Katrina – Disaster Relief – The Media and the Web 2.0: yes, the web can do much better
Lyrics to Good Old Boys: Louisiana 1927 by Randy Newman

What has happened down here is the winds have changed
Clouds roll in from the north and it started to rain
Rained real hard and it rained for a real long time
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline

The river rose all day
The river rose all night
Some people got lost in the flood
Some people got away alright
The river have busted through clear down to Plaquemines
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangelne

Louisiana, Louisiana
They’re tyrin’ to wash us away
They’re tryin’ to wash us away
Louisiana, Louisiana
They’re tryin’ to wash us away
They’re tryin’ to wash us away

President Coolidge came down in a railroad train
With a little fat man with a note-pad in his hand
The President say, “Little fat man isn’t it a shame what the river has done
To this poor crackers land.”

Louisiana, Louisiana
They’re tryin’ to wash us away
They’re tryin’ to wash us away
Louisiana, Louisiana
They’re tryin’ to wash us away
They’re tryin’ to wash us away
They’re tryin’ to wash us away
They’re tryin’ to wash us away

Nice ranty Thomas PM Barnett on it all: The storm surge begins. Bolding added to the best bits by me:

So much blame to go around.

New Orleans is revealed, to no one’s surprise, as a woefully loose-ruled environment barely managed by a corrupt, incompetent government.

Support networks in the poor, rural coastal areas are revealed as meager and painfully brittle.

State governments are revealed as low-ballers on a host of long-term investments in infrastructure and network resiliency, only to be superceded by the federal government’s enduring penchant for unfunded mandates.

Federal relief agencies are revealed as surprisingly incoherent in their “coordinated response,” begging the question, How many 9/11-like shocks must there be before Washington gets its lines of authority straight?

The military, which has gone to untold lengths to brag every chance it can since 9/11 that homeland security is job #1, still seems to be under the impression that it requires an engraved invitation from a Constitutional Congress to get off its collective ass and respond rapidly to a domestic emergency.

And perhaps most damaging of all, the Bush Administration is revealed—yet again—as strangely incapable of grabbing the bull by the horn when disaster strikes, as though such leadership is only to be summoned once it becomes a public relations damage-control function.

Sad to say, the best-working aspect of the emergency response to date has been the media—the MEDIA for crying out loud!

A lot of long-held biases are likewise revealed.

The Fed’s tendency to wait until local and state resources are depleted or overwhelmed is revealed as hopelessly antiquated in this connected age. By then, too much damage is irreversible and a long-term recovery is locked-in. This is a national emergency, not some bureaucratic means test. The “I’m-with-stupid” approach to chain of command just doesn’t cut it when disaster strikes

The military’s strong bias against involving itself with civilian situations reveals itself as a weird sort of inability to take charge in situations that naturally demand it. For a culture that prizes decisiveness in challenging, austere environments, the military tends to tip-toe around whenever it’s called into action domestically–talking a big game but never leading. I mean, where’s the cigar-chomping general who couldn’t give a rat’s ass about pissing off the locals because he’s got a job to do and he doesn’t take no for an answer. Because wherever he is, he’s missing his best chance to jump-start a presidential run in 2008.

[Then I wake up this morning (3 Sept) in my hotel room to find: a) a small, strangely cuddly Chinese female in my bed; and b) a cigarette-smoking, casually “Goddam’ing” African-American Lt. Gen with a Cajun-sounding name (Honore) doing a Patton-like tirade on a street-corner (can anyone say, “Answer Man”?), screaming at soldiers to put their weapons down and ordering trucks around like he’s really pissed off, which is good, because we need a public face for “pissed off” instead of the happy-glad stuff from Laura and Bush uttering “adequate” over and over and over again. Because, you know what? Babies dying from dehydration and old women slumped dead in their wheelchairs isn’t “adequate.”]

The usual bias of the two political parties is revealed all too predictably: the Republicans look incapable of caring and the Democrats look incapable of leading—except in correctly pointing out their opponents’ odd detachment from a sense of personal responsibility. Good God, the Bush people look almost startled that the country expects them to lead!

Finger-pointing is all directions has already begun, with the vast majority of these heat-seeking missiles naturally coming round to President Bush himself, who remains white-hot from the emotional scorching put on him recently by Cindy Sheehan, in what can only be described as the revenge of Michael Moore (don’t tell me you don’t see the similarities between her quest and Moore’s breakthrough documentary “Roger and Me”). You’d think his handlers would have learned from “Fahrenheit 9/11” that silence is deadly when it comes from leaders who hesitate to lead at moments of obvious crisis.

Honestly, that crew makes Jon Stewart’s job such a frickin’ cakewalk that the man should send his Peabody’s to the White House as a thank-you.

The presidential election of 2008 began on Tuesday—for all of you who didn’t pick up on that. Bush’s second term (“Oh why does America ever bet on sequels!” the self-righteous blogger types furiously as his “vol. II” is being printed in vast numbers this very day) is now cast irretrievably as a two-and-a-half-year effort to live down its past mistakes: the systematic alienation of allies from day one, the tax cuts, the lack of peace in Iraq (and—sadly but not justifiably—the war in Iraq by extension), and now this. We are witnessing the earliest onset of post-presidency ever.

And that’s more than bad, it’s tragic. Bush’s instinct for action and leadership is his best quality, but he seems often to put it on the shelf in a strange sort of blind trust in the people he picks for positions of leadership around him. Frankly, other than Rummy and a few of his direct managers, I don’t think I’d pick any of the rest of this administration’s senior people for my team. They’re just plain mediocre, despite all the past job titles. There simply isn’t much imagination with this crowd: they know what to cut but not what to add. I don’t anticipate any initiatives worth mentioning from this bunch absent Rummy’s continued push to revamp the Pentagon. The rest, including Rice, just seem to be treading water. Rove seems lost now that he’s won Bush’s re-election. The ambition just isn’t there any more (Remember the big push on Social Security? Won’t that be a great Trivial Pursuit question years from now?). Instead, Bush looks increasingly uncomfortable, like the dog that caught the car. He has his second term, besting the old man, but all that seems to have gotten him is the resurrection of the ambivalent, rather aimless politician he was so often accused of being in the past.

American Essay: WAITING FOR THE TALKING POINTS not much word yet from conservative pundits on Katrina
The rich history of New Orleans
Definition of Force majeure:

Force majeure (French for “greater force”) is a common clause in contracts which essentially frees one or both parties from liabilities when an extraordinary event beyond the control of the parties, such as flood, war, riots, acts of God, et cetera prevents one or both parties from fulfilling their obligations under the contract.

Under international law it refers to an irresistible force or unforeseen event, beyond the control of a State making it materially impossible to fulfill an international obligation. Force majeure precludes an international act from being wrongful, where it otherwise would have been.

Fire Michael Brown, to do otherwise is immoderate
Doc Searls has some great pointers to the blog-ohs-fear
Viewpoint: Has Katrina saved US media?
Broussard: “We have been abandoned by our own country.” and here:

MR. BROUSSARD: I’m telling you most importantly I want to thank my public employees…

MR. RUSSERT: All right.

MR. BROUSSARD: …that have worked 24/7. They’re burned out, the doctors, the nurses. And I want to give you one last story and I’ll shut up and let you tell me whatever you want to tell me. The guy who runs this building I’m in, emergency management, he’s responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, “Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?” And he said, “Yeah, Mama, somebody’s coming to get you. Somebody’s coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Friday.” And she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night.

MR. RUSSERT: Mr. President…

MR. BROUSSARD: Nobody’s coming to get us. Nobody’s coming to get us. The secretary has promised. Everybody’s promised. They’ve had press conferences. I’m sick of the press conferences. For God sakes, shut up and send us somebody.

Another NO Story from the inside on DailyKos

Long Weekend

Long weekend. Getting back in the swing. Rock on. More later today. I have another dose of KatrinaLinks today.

New Orleans and Katrina

Damn difficult to blog about my drawings as a 15 year old with New Orleans underwater and in apocalyptic chaos.

In addition to work going into this 3-day weekend, here’s what I’m looking at lately with regards to New Orleans.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Missisipi Valley Region
Wikpedia: FEMA (I teared up as I read what FEMA’s responsibilities and capabilities are. It’s been gutted in the name of the Department of Homeland Security. The Federal response to this sucks.
Coast2050.gov was a site that was working to get a plan in place to protect Louisiana’s coast. Too late.
Mr. Bill and the inevitable Hurricane (windows media)
Doc Searls on a Disaster Management guy from LAs Vegas who is not impressed with the Fed response to all this.
From several years ago: Times Picayune from several years ago predicting most of this
Hurricane Housing dot org
neworleans.craigslist.org up and running and a vital piece of the communications pie. cell phones may be weak, but craigslist keeps humming.
Katrina.Louisiana.gov: Donate to LA
People TURNED DOWN from helping people get out of New Orleans. A damn shame: ” Thanks but no thanks”
Bureaucratic screwups seem to be the norm.
NOLA View: A weblog: absolutely heartbreaking scary stories here
Lots of good coverage over on crooksandliars.com
Some good maps of NO, on the NYTimes website
Ted Koppel grills FEMA head Mike Brown. Sorry, but expressions of stern interest are pretty weak. Get your ass on the job Mr. Brown.
jwz has a nice set of links from yesterday
Nice short collection of photos that tell the story
more photos on washingtonpost.com
CNN covers misinformation, lying, ignorance, and the huge disconnect between incompetent feds and boots-on-the-ground people saying it’s a mess
slightly confusing (and too small) map of NO with recent sat imagery
actual progress: trucks getting in. how many days later?
Other nations offer aid and assistance
Interdictor is a LJ by a webhost/colo facility in New Orleans. riveting stuff, the guy’s a nut, but he gets several million points for style AND substance
Slidell Hurricane Damage Blog: it’s not just New Orleans
Lots of Overhead Photos http://ngs.woc.noaa.gov/katrina/

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