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day permlink Sunday, 4 September 2005

permlink "God .. in His mercy purged all of that stuff out of there"

Friday, from the website of New York University's Center for Religion and Media (with the Dept. of Journalism):

The Revealer: "The Rest of the Goddamn Nation"
...notably lacking in the response to this disaster are suggestions that Katrina is a punishment sent by God. When the tsunami struck Asia, such notions came from across the spectrum, but most pungently from Christian conservatives who noted that Aceh, an "exporter of radical Islam," as National Association of Evangelicals president Ted Haggard put it, had been hardest hit. Such neanderthal theology apparently does not apply to the U.S.
Oh, if only that were true.

Columbia Christians for Life [from Monday Aug. 29, relayed by Eve's Apple]:
Hurricane Katrina satellite image looks like 6-week fetus

...check out NOAA website:

The image of the hurricane above with its eye already ashore at 12:32 PM Monday, August 29 looks like a fetus (unborn human baby) facing to the left (west) in the womb, in the early weeks of gestation (approx. 6 weeks). Even the orange color of the image is reminiscent of a commonly used pro-life picture of early prenatal development...

Louisiana has 10 child-murder-by-abortion centers - FIVE are in New Orleans...

God's message: REPENT AMERICA !
OK, you say, that's just some fringe group who no one takes seriously (except, of course, the people who they threaten to blow up and/or shoot).

Here's another "They asked for it":

"Although the loss of lives is deeply saddening, this act of God destroyed a wicked city," stated Repent America director Michael Marcavage. "From 'Girls Gone Wild' to 'Southern Decadence,' New Orleans was a city that had its doors wide open to the public celebration of sin. From the devastation may a city full of righteousness emerge," he continued.

New Orleans was also known for its Mardi Gras parties where thousands of drunken men would revel in the streets to exchange plastic jewelry for drunken women to expose their breasts and to engage in other sex acts. This annual event sparked the creation of the "Girls Gone Wild" video series. Furthermore, Louisiana had a total of ten abortion clinics with half of them operating in New Orleans, where countless numbers of children were murdered at the hands of abortionists. Additionally, New Orleans has always been known as one of the "Murder Capitals of the World" with a rate ten times the national average.

"We must help and pray for those ravaged by this disaster, but let us not forget that the citizens of New Orleans tolerated and welcomed the wickedness in their city for so long," Marcavage said. "May this act of God cause us all to think about what we tolerate in our city limits, and bring us trembling before the throne of Almighty God," Marcavage concluded.
About that one, I'll just say that God's aim must be off, since the storm arrived a week too early to really Punish The Icky Awful Gay People. But again, this press release may just be some hopped-up street corner howlers; I've never heard of Repent America being terribly influential.

No, here's the genuine article: the very influential-in-Washington American Family Association wants to speak for God too:
New Orleans Residents: God's Mercy Evident in Katrina's Wake
By Jody Brown and Allie Martin
September 2, 2005

...Rev. Bill Shanks, pastor of New Covenant Fellowship of New Orleans ... says the hurricane has wiped out much of the rampant sin common to the city.

The pastor explains that for years he has warned people that unless Christians in New Orleans took a strong stand against such things as local abortion clinics, the yearly Mardi Gras celebrations, and the annual event known as "Southern Decadence" -- an annual six-day "gay pride" event scheduled to be hosted by the city this week -- God's judgment would be felt.

"New Orleans now is abortion free. New Orleans now is Mardi Gras free. New Orleans now is free of Southern Decadence and the sodomites, the witchcraft workers, false religion -- it's free of all of those things now," Shanks says. "God simply, I believe, in His mercy purged all of that stuff out of there -- and now we're going to start over again."
Oh, what I would give to see any journalist ask any Bush administration official what their reaction is to these statements.

These are the people who were instrumental in returning Our Holy Infallible Guitar-Strumming Savior to office! So does He wish to ally Himself with their interpretations of events, or not?

For that matter, do any other Republicans? They're happy to vote alongside these people to get their guy into office, so it seems a fair question to me: does this in fact represent the mainstream of Republican thought?

I would love to know, myself. In fact, I bet the AFA would like to know too.

This can wait till the immediate crisis is over, but: Anyone out there with a microphone and access to someone in power, please, please ask sometime. permlink   Current Events   0 comment(s)   Add a comment...

permlink One Response to Saint Reagan

Trickle-Down [blah, blah, black sheep ||]
Somehow I doubt many residents of the Gulf Coast would agree with the late President Reagan when he said that "the 10 most frightening words in the English language are, 'I'm from the Federal Government, and I'm here to help'."

I'd venture that "there's no clean water, shelter, food, medical facilities, or security" is more frightening.
Natural disasters, especially disasters that span multiple states and take out economically important targets like oil refineries and a major port, are something that the federal government is best suited to respond to - it cannot fall to an individual city to cope with it (there simply aren't enough resources in one city), and it's certainly not going to get done by The Free Market.

Emergency services and disaster recovery, like home or flood insurance, are not places to roll the dice. But this administration, only needing to satisfy one political party for years now to pass its budgets, was happy to bet on not ever needing much from FEMA. gets even harder to understand given that FEMA has been rolled into Homeland Security, which is supposedly a priority for them. As a letter-writer on the usually-dense Andrew Sullivan's site says:
"In the aftermath of the disaster in New Orleans, I honestly thought we would be wowed by the federal response. This seemed the perfect opportunity for the administration to showcase the training Homeland Security has coordinated over the past four years. The disaster, after all, is not so different from a terrorist attack. A dirty bomb would leave much the same refugee concerns. And while there had been much noise over the possiblity of terrorists blowing up dams, it couldn't have escaped the authorities' attention that someone could blow a hole in New Orleans' levees. But I sit back now and watch the devastation escalate, and I keep asking myself: What exactly have they been doing for the past four years?"

I'm asking the same question; and my anger wells up.
permlink   Current Events

permlink Bring Back Witt

From about Tuesday on, I kept asking myself "Why doesn't somebody find James Lee Witt [the last competent director of FEMA] and ask for his help?"

The simple answer is of course that no one in the Bush Administration ever does anything wrong (in fact, it's a sure bet around the Internet that FEMA head Mike Brown is in line for a Medal of Freedom for screwing up so colossally), so why should they call anyone else for help or advice?

Yesterday I was gratified to at least see this from Louisiana Governor Blanco:

Governor hires former FEMA director for Katrina recovery
BATON ROUGE, La. The former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency has joined the Louisiana government to help direct hurricane recovery efforts.

James Lee Witt ran FEMA from 1993 to 2001. He says he'll stay as long as necessary.

Witt has more than 25 years of disaster management experience.

During his years with FEMA, the agency won praise for its vigorous reaction to the Midwest floods and the 1994 Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles.
What qualifications did the current director of FEMA, Mike Brown, have? "He was an estate planning lawyer in Colorado and of counsel for the International Arabian Horse Association Legal Department. And yes, it is the same Michael D. Brown." [War and Piece]

Not only that, he was fired from the horse gig for being a "total disaster".

So what got him the job in the first place? Well, he did contribute a bunch of money to Bush's election campaign... but I'm sure that doesn't count for anything.

Mike Brown should be removed from FEMA and one of three things happen:
  1. James Lee Witt should be put back in charge of FEMA.
  2. A person James Lee Witt recommends should be put in charge of FEMA.
  3. A person with at least some damned disaster relief experience who has not been fired from his most recent gig should be put in charge of FEMA.
Not to mention, FEMA's budget should be simultaneously un-gutted.

I am not optimistic. permlink   Current Events   0 comment(s)   Add a comment...

permlink Open Letter from the Times-Picayune; Some Questions

Via Chuck, who's been diligently tracking the status of New Orleans' musicians (dozens of whom are known to be safe).

"An open letter to the President" (their permalink is broken; search for "OUR OPINIONS")
Dear Mr. President:

We heard you loud and clear Friday when you visited our devastated city and the Gulf Coast and said, "What is not working, we’re going to make it right."

Please forgive us if we wait to see proof of your promise before believing you. But we have good reason for our skepticism.

Bienville built New Orleans where he built it for one main reason: It’s accessible. The city between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain was easy to reach in 1718.

How much easier it is to access in 2005 now that there are interstates and bridges, airports and helipads, cruise ships, barges, buses and diesel-powered trucks.

Despite the city’s multiple points of entry, our nation’s bureaucrats spent days after last week’s hurricane wringing their hands, lamenting the fact that they could neither rescue the city’s stranded victims nor bring them food, water and medical supplies.

Meanwhile there were journalists, including some who work for The Times-Picayune, going in and out of the city via the Crescent City Connection. On Thursday morning, that crew saw a caravan of 13 Wal-Mart tractor trailers headed into town to bring food, water and supplies to a dying city.

Television reporters were doing live reports from downtown New Orleans streets. Harry Connick Jr. brought in some aid Thursday, and his efforts were the focus of a "Today" show story Friday morning.

Yet, the people trained to protect our nation, the people whose job it is to quickly bring in aid were absent. Those who should have been deploying troops were singing a sad song about how our city was impossible to reach.

We’re angry, Mr. President, and we’ll be angry long after our beloved city and surrounding parishes have been pumped dry. Our people deserved rescuing. Many who could have been were not. That’s to the government’s shame.

Mayor Ray Nagin did the right thing Sunday when he allowed those with no other alternative to seek shelter from the storm inside the Louisiana Superdome. We still don’t know what the death toll is, but one thing is certain: Had the Superdome not been opened, the city’s death toll would have been higher. The toll may even have been exponentially higher.

It was clear to us by late morning Monday that many people inside the Superdome would not be returning home. It should have been clear to our government, Mr. President. So why weren’t they evacuated out of the city immediately? We learned seven years ago, when Hurricane Georges threatened, that the Dome isn’t suitable as a long-term shelter. So what did state and national officials think would happen to tens of thousands of people trapped inside with no air conditioning, overflowing toilets and dwindling amounts of food, water and other essentials?

State Rep. Karen Carter was right Friday when she said the city didn’t have but two urgent needs: "Buses! And gas!" Every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be fired, Director Michael Brown especially.

In a nationally televised interview Thursday night, he said his agency hadn’t known until that day that thousands of storm victims were stranded at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. He gave another nationally televised interview the next morning and said, "We’ve provided food to the people at the Convention Center so that they’ve gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day."

Lies don’t get more bald-faced than that, Mr. President.

Yet, when you met with Mr. Brown Friday morning, you told him, "You’re doing a heck of a job."

That’s unbelievable.

There were thousands of people at the Convention Center because the riverfront is high ground. The fact that so many people had reached there on foot is proof that rescue vehicles could have gotten there, too.

We, who are from New Orleans, are no less American than those who live on the Great Plains or along the Atlantic Seaboard. We’re no less important than those from the Pacific Northwest or Appalachia. Our people deserved to be rescued.

No expense should have been spared. No excuses should have been voiced. Especially not one as preposterous as the claim that New Orleans couldn’t be reached.

Mr. President, we sincerely hope you fulfill your promise to make our beloved communities work right once again.

When you do, we will be the first to applaud.
There are so many things that have gone so very wrong in the aftermath of Katrina that it's hard to even know where to start digging to find the problems we need to fix for the next disaster. Fortunately Mark A.R. Kleiman & Mike O'Hare have a start:

"Thoughts toward an after-action report"
(1) What was it about (i) the NHC/NOAA forecasts and videos all last week, showing a Category 5 hurricane big enough to rain simultaneously on Florida, Louisiana, and the Yucatan on a bee-line path to New Orleans, and (ii) the voluminous engineering studies forecasting overtopping levees (never mind breaches) into a soup bowl where the pumps and the utilities would instantly drown, that state and federal agencies didn't understand well enough to have a relief operation ready to roll on Monday afternoon?

How can it be that the Comfort wasn't at sea Monday, steaming south at flank speed? That C5A's weren't lined up at all the inland airstrips Monday night full of tents, water, MRE's, small boats, and the like? That every heavy-lift helicopter in the South wasn't under contract to drop bulldozers in case the airfields on the coast needed to be cleaned up, or even scraped out anew for the C5As?

Were the officials involved desperately paralyzed by fear that they would be days late and dollars short with relief on the one hand, which would be most regrettable, or all dressed up and not needed (e.g., if the levees had held and the storm not so bad at landfall), which would have been a really terrible example of government waste?...

(2) The roads into a lot of the affected areas are blocked with debris or fallen into the water in pieces, and this may or may not have been predicted. It's hard to get a relief operation in where it's needed. However, the Navy and the Marines are especially good at bringing large ships, full of people and heavy equipment, right up to a beach and putting that stuff ashore. Actually, it's sort of a specialty of those outfits. (They even do it with people shooting at them, which would not be a problem in this case.) There may be a good reason why this capability couldn't be brought to bear on Gulfport, Biloxi, etc. around about Wednesday morning (I understand why the flotilla wouldn't be sitting out in the Gulf under the storm on Sunday), with earthmoving equipment, food, medical supplies, and such instead of tanks and artillery, but I haven't heard it and I'd like to. (PS: Beach landing resources can hardly have been tied up in any operations in Iraq.)

(3) A fair number of commentators, and not just whining liberal fault-finding malcontents, have noticed that the people left in the unbelievable conditions of New Orleans are almost entirely black and poor. When it was thought wise to tell people to leave the city, did anyone ask about plain old city and school buses for the folks who didn't have cars? And when they did, what was the answer, and who gave it?...
Let alone the answers that we will surely never hear from the White House to questions like these from Dan Froomkin (written Wednesday):
* If the reason Bush returned to Washington is that he is more effective here, then why didn't he come back two days ago?

* If the White House considers the return from vacation largely symbolic, then what is the symbolism of his long vacation during a war?

* Could Bush and the federal government have done more to prepare for hurricane recovery? Unlike the Asian tsunami, this hurricane was forecast days ahead of time.

* Did any of his previous budget decisions allow the hurricane to cause more damage than it might have otherwise?
permlink   Current Events   0 comment(s)   Add a comment...

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