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John Dowdell

The people of Mississippi and Alabama (and certainly Texas, Florida, and other states hosting refugees) are being misused by the incompetence, venality, and agressive defense of the political structure in New Orleans and Louisiana. Nagin gets much press time, yet commercial reports have to date even avoided the AP/satellite bus shots. (Update: I just saw Brit Humes carry the photos... first mention I've seen.)

So what's going on? I can't judge the incentives to not evacuate. (I'm assuming that subsequent problems, like not calling in the state guard Monday, or letting the rescue buses drown on low ground, were ripple effects out of some unknown original pressure not to evacuate.) Possibilities include intergroup fights among NO Police, state National Guard, Forestry... I have to investigate the economic costs of an evacuation and see if this would be paid by any major influencers in the state... neither Nigan nor Blanco wanting to blink first on an evacuation order (for god-knows-what reason)... the signing of an order then triggering some other legislative event, maybe (but then why not at least implement it once signed?)... there's something there, though.

The Louisiana State National Guard website is still down... I've been checking for a day on whether they had any recent preparedness tests. This might be indicative of other problems at LA state guard. One Google Cache showed that terms like "performance testing" only turned up in context of an exercise & weight-loss program for state staff. And what was up with that Nagin "send 'em to Vegas!" line this week!? If he's a rational player then he would have known to hold off on that, unless the internal pressures of his organization are so great that he would throw away any remaining personal creditability in such an absurd soundbite...!?

There's something there. Among the principals, Nagin quickly came out with a "best defense is a strong offense" stance, while Blanco was first weepy, then shellshocked. Terry Ebbert, head of New Orleans emergency services (a Nagin appointee) has dropped 'way down in news citations since the flood hit.

The commercial media were all online, same set of talking points, extremely quickly. The odds of going so strongly negative on FEMA, particularly considering that FEMA halved their usual response time due to the long info lead, would be slim to none, if spontaneous. Tim Russert was a caricature of himself yesterday, going straight for "Will you resign from FEMA?" from the get-go. There's something there. They don't act quite this dysfunctionally naturally. There are pressures I'm not seeing.

But... there has been very little out of Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, and the rest. Today Harry Reid called for a Katrina Panel, like the Gorelick-tainted 9/11 Panel. But that's the only comment I've seen from the Democratic Party.

So... aggressive "dazzling" behavior from the guilty principals... sudden anti-FEMA lockstep in media for an eventual "he said she said" argument... silent lockstep among party Democrats who would usually blister Bush for far less. What are they hiding?

Most likely possible cause (and I'm wild-goose guessing here) would be the siphoning of post-9/11 funds. But it could be an insurer or other financially-interested party who would pay automatic costs were an evacuation order signed, or implemented. Nagin wedged against Blanco a bit Monday, they're not best buddies anymore. But what kind of game could they be playing where they would attempt to ignore, and then refuse to implement, the evacuation of their own people from near-certain calamnity...?

New Orleans is also the archetype of Democrats' plantation-style politics. Does loss of the party machine in Louisiana have national effects in some way? Or maybe the local boss leaders have enough dirt on others, like J. Edgar Hoover did, so that no one can afford to ignore their requests? There's enough juice in the deal to make all networks/press synch up on cue... enough dynamite that the DNC lips are relatively zipped. Why did Nagin and Blanco commit political suicide? What forced them to such a terrible failure?

(Pfeh, right now I'm watching local ABC rants on Michael Brown of FEMA, of how his inexperience *might* be bad in the future... this is ridiculous, they should cover what actually happened already. )

Anyway... this has been roiling around my head the last few days, and although I may not act on it otherwise, at least I need to get it into the public record.

John Dowdell

Rick Moran has a timeline of events... something I've not been able to find (to satisfactory degree) among the professional news services.

There's mention of a possible reason for evacuation delay: "Nagin said late Saturday that he’s having his legal staff look into whether he can order a mandatory evacuation of the city, a step he’s been hesitant to do because of potential liability on the part of the city for closing hotels and other businesses."

Katrina also apparently escalated to Category 5 strength SatPM/SunAM. The NO voluntary evacuation was signed 5pm Sat, the mandatory 9am Sun.

On Sunday evening, before Katrina landfall, the LA National Guard did deliver three trucks of water and seven of rations to the Superdome, approximately a 45,000 person-day supply.

Landfall was 8am Mon (local time).

Looting of non-essentials was reported in several areas by mid-aft Mon.

Jail evacuations started Tue AM.

Looting by New Orleans police is reported late Tuesday afternoon. 8pm reports discussed the Superdome/CanalSt shopping tour.

Blanco called for an evacuation of New Orleans Wednesday morning. FEMA had nearly 500 buses in the area by then, used for evacuation of 15,000 at the Superdome.

Hospital evacuations start (?) Thursday afternoon.

Nagin's Thursday afternoon rant gets wide media coverage. By this point he already had 500 non-NO buses, who had nearly completed the Superdome evacuation. No mention made of New Orleans' own 500 submerged buses.

Fri AM, Coast Guard reported 4000 water rescues.

John Dowdell

I learned last night, via a Nagin quote, that the LA-controlled schoolbuses were used before landfall to transport some to the Superdome. No word on use of the city's transit fleet.

NO also achieved an 80% evacuation rate, which is indeed quite high.

After reading the White House press briefing, I'm really starting to wonder not only how many people these commercial storytellers evacuated, and not only how many supplies they brought in, but what type of evacuation warnings they issued on their shows and in their written stories in the days before the hurricane hit.

John Dowdell

This is prettyy stupid/evil argument-by-volume story at MediaMatters... they spend enough kilobytes to confuse the naive, while quoting neither source material nor rebuttal material. I wish their finances/staffing were transparent.

If this story about the Red Cross being stopped by LA order holds up (it's currently hearsay and searching reveals no corroboration), then Blanco is toast. Nagin's position might change... he's been acting like it the last 36 hours. Reid and Pelosi opened the yapgates today, so maybe they know she has to be tossed over. Whatever, there will be either increased centralization of police/defense services, or intensive re-org'ing with similar result.

John Dowdell

Nagin on Russert today... Russert gave high-profile to the "drowned buses" photo... Nagin says the limiting factor was drivers, "with a category 5 hurricane bearing down on you". This suggests that the prior delays on evacuation orders had a ripple effect... at that point he was bound by his previous choices.

Landrieu was incredibly... something... when performing on "Meet The Press" today. Russert was a total asshat last week, but did bring up the photos and the evacuation plan this week. He did raise the toughest questions with Nagin. Last week's questions were more the more sensationalistic charges than questions.

Key question: If Nagin had sent evacuees out of the fishbowl, then did he actually have a place to send them? Or was he blocked from regional favors, due to last year's endorsement of Rindal over Blanco or whatever?

(Nagin's strange... there's something about him that I trust at a deep level, but up on top there's a whole lot of bs too. An interesting individual.)

Do the demographics of the evacuated regions affect the next state elections? What was the difference between rural and urban voting patterns in LA recently?

John Dowdell

Well, there it is... Pres. Bush:"It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces...."

Feels like an hour into 9/11, once I realized that the Libertarian Party was dead.

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