Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Katrina's Revenge

Last night I had an argument with my smug roommate, arguing that Bush's lack of preparation for Katrina was inexcusable. The poor response was due to unqualified staff at FEMA, I argued. Perhaps the former head of the Arabian Horse Assn of America was in over his head when New Orleans drowned. My smug roommate (MSR) ridiculed me, saying that such preparations were impossible, and no one would have done a good job. He even argued Katrina would simply wash away troops & provisions stored 200 miles north of the coast in advance of the storm. Nothing could be done!

Under MSR's logic, our final salvation still lies with the village Shaman, who will beat his magic horse femur against a hollow log to ward off Katrina-sized storms. Paying 1/3 of my salary to the Fed, the most expensive item in my budget besides booze and hookers, I naively expect as good a bang for my buck from the Fed as I get from other expenses.

With Rita threatening the coast of Texas, the Washington Post reported the following:

"In Washington, the acting director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, R. David Paulison, outlined a massive effort to pour military equipment and provisions into Texas ahead of the hurricane's landfall."

MSR, you are a jackass. Bureaucracy is supposed to be proactive, not reactive. A former Admiral, Paulison seems to recognize that fact. Texas is fortunate for it.


Scott said...

Hey - I just found your blog and I've been enjoying your posts. (From all of you, I suppose)
Regarding Rita, when my wife heard about the massive preparations for Rita, her response was, "At least they learned their lesson from Katrina". I'll bet that's the reaction from most Americans. But we learned this lesson a long, long time ago! We get hit by hurricanes every year! What made Katrina remarkable was not that it was unexpected, but that the complete incompetence of Bush's government was revealed. What's happening today in Texas is only what should be happening - it's nothign extraordinary.

bob said...

you and your friends are both right. katrina was a 150 year storm, with a 1-2 punch. Nothing the federal bureacracy has ever had could have dealt with it. But the local state and federal governments made a bad situation worse with poor coordination and poor leadership. The attempts to blame Bush entirely is as misguided as saying it was just an unmanagable storm. My blame lies more with gov. blanco, who was a control freak in a time when flexibility was needed

Unlegal said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unlegal said...

The author makes a sage point, I would add that there were structural-institutional problems at work as well. First, from what I understand, FEMA has been distracted from it's main mission after it was folded into the bosom of Homeland Security. Too many hours spent processing forms to protect midwestern dairy farmers from dirty bombs, and not enough spent watching the weather channel. Second, the lack of experiance in the FEMA leadership (1st, 2nd & 3rd being largely unqualified) may be laid partly at the feet of Congress. It was their job to approve the nominiations after all. While politics as usual & the patronage system didn't do us any favors, neither did the Senate's rubber stamp.