Okay it’s Day 5 and this is no longer about the hurricane; it’s about what’s not happening in its aftermath. On CNN yesterday, Anderson Cooper hauled off on Louisiana Sentator Mary Landrieu when she announced proudly that the Senate was passing an emergency-rellief bill for $10-plus billion: “Excuse me, Senator, I’m sorry for interrupting. I haven’t heard that, because, for the last four days, I’ve been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi.” He went on to descibe seeing a woman’s body being eaten by rats, and said it was time for someone to stand up and take responsibility for everything that wasn’t being done. NB Landrieu is not some slick politician, though; her father was Mayor of New Orleans and she says she’s represented it and the surrounding area for her whole life. Can’t be easy on her either. The full transcript is at TVNewser; the video is at Crooks & Liars.
Does this guy have that excuse, though? He’s FEMA director Michael Brown, who is quoted by CNN as actually saying that “things are going relatively well.” Yes, relative to the total fucking Apocalypse. Apparently Soledad O’Brien went off on him this morning. Not surprising, considering his clucking comments about how, well, the city was evacuated and if these people didn’t leave… ouch. (NB whoever wrote this CNN story clearly hates Brown, or at least wants us to. He comes off very much like a slimy politician). An emailer writes: “Basically he was telling her how good it was all going and she tried to interrupt him two times saying “but sir” and he twice tried to scold her with a drawling ‘S O L E D A D.’ Then she shifted gears and asked something to the effect of, ‘Looking at these images, would you say FEMA is proud of the job they have done so far?'” Apparently he deflected and returned to the point that water, troops and aid was on the way. Previously, when asked why authorities weren’t prepared for this oft-predicted disaster, he smoothly promises that “government officials and engineers will debate that and figure that out.” Great. Looking forward. But he does say that “right now, I’m trying to focus on saving lives.” Go to it, man. It’s been 5 days but there are still plenty to save.
UPDATE: FishbowlDC has more, and the transcript.
In print, the blame game continues. Over at Slate, Timothy Naftali has a stinging rebuke for the Department of Homeland Security: “How is it possible that with the fourth anniversary of 9/11 almost upon us, the federal government doesn’t have in hand the capability to prepare for and then manage a large urban disaster, natural or man-made?” He wonders what the hell the DHS has been doing. Daniel Gross, meanwhile, thinks the long-term economic impact of the hurricane will be far worse than 9/11: “The problem is that New Orleans lies at the heavily trafficked intersection of the Old and New Economies. The region’s economy is based on agriculture, water transport, and natural resources…. The networked economy isn’t just about bytes and fiber-optic cable, it’s about oil, grain, and sugar. And when the infrastructure of these networks gets damaged, it can’t be replaced easily or cheaply.” The effects, he says, will be far-reaching.
With respect to blame, I’ll take some on behalf of Canada: our Prime Minister Paul Martin sure took his sweet time offering condolences or aid. Canada’s navy is loading up a ship and Martin has pledged to give whatever was needed. I believe Israel was the first to offer aid.
A note on the blame game: an emailer writes “Just out of curiosity I checked out some blogs. All major conservative blogs are talking about the disaster relief, fund raising and helping the victims. There is a major effort going on and everyone is pitching in.
Liberal blogs (Kos Kids, DU, etc.) are only talking about the blame
game and Bush bashing. I did not see links on their sites for helping the victims.” (NB I’m on dial-up here in the Canadian hinterlands so I haven’t checked; please email me with confirmations/clarifications). The emailer does provide a link to what the military is doing; get updates here.
UPDATE: An emailer writes: “DailyKos is raising money for the victims. If you look at the site, you will see that. Nearly $90,000 as of last count.”
Finally, a thought from another emailer, which sticks:
The situation in New Orleans has absolutely nothing to do with the hurricane any more. It hasn’t for days. People are dying in the New Orleans convention center, and they’re putting them in the corners. People sat in luxury boxes in a football stadium, drinking beer with human feces on their shoes. In America, in 2005.
NB thank you to those of you who have sent in links, facts and opinions – it is much and always appreciated.