Myths Busted

I had a long post just about composed here, but luckily for you folks, I lost it to a mysterious system glitch. So here’s the abbreviated version:

Two of the most explosive post-Katrina charges were debunked over the last 24 hours. One of them, that the eeeevil Bush Administration has starved the Army Corps of Engineers for money to maintain and repair New Orleans’ levee system, was demolished in that noted redoubt of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, the Washington Post:

In Katrina’s wake, Louisiana politicians and other critics have complained about paltry funding for the Army Corps in general and Louisiana projects in particular. But over the five years of President Bush’s administration, Louisiana has received far more money for Corps civil works projects than any other state, about $1.9 billion; California was a distant second with less than $1.4 billion, even though its population is more than seven times as large.

Much of that Louisiana money was spent to try to keep low-lying New Orleans dry. But hundreds of millions of dollars have gone to unrelated water projects demanded by the state’s congressional delegation and approved by the Corps, often after economic analyses that turned out to be inaccurate. Despite a series of independent investigations criticizing Army Corps construction projects as wasteful pork-barrel spending, Louisiana’s representatives have kept bringing home the bacon.

For example, after a $194 million deepening project for the Port of Iberia flunked a Corps cost-benefit analysis, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) tucked language into an emergency Iraq spending bill ordering the agency to redo its calculations. The Corps also spends tens of millions of dollars a year dredging little-used waterways such as the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, the Atchafalaya River and the Red River — now known as the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway, in honor of the project’s congressional godfather — for barge traffic that is less than forecast.

The Industrial Canal lock is one of the agency’s most controversial projects, sued by residents of a New Orleans low-income black neighborhood and cited by an alliance of environmentalists and taxpayer advocates as the fifth-worst current Corps boondoggle. In 1998, the Corps justified its plan to build a new lock — rather than fix the old lock for a tiny fraction of the cost — by predicting huge increases in use by barges traveling between the Port of New Orleans and the Mississippi River.

In fact, barge traffic on the canal had been plummeting since 1994, but the Corps left that data out of its study.

Landrieu was quoted over the weekend threatening to “punch in the mouth” anybody who criticized the local officials in Louisiana over their response to the hurricane. I doubt she’s rethinking that threat in light of this Fox News report from yesterday, but after I first saw it, I definitely thought a few mouth-punches were in order:

[Brit] Hume: [The Red Cross was] Standing by, ready. Why didn’t FEMA send The Red Cross into New Orleans when we had all of the people there on that bridge overpass and elsewhere. Why not?

[Major] Garrett: First of all, no jurisdiction. FEMA works with The Red Cross, The Salvation Army and other organizations but it has no control to order them to go one place or the other. Secondarily, The Red Cross was ready. I got off the phone with one of their officials. They had a vanguard, Brit, of trucks with water, food, hygiene equipment, all sorts of things ready to go where? To the Superdome and convention center. Why weren’t they there? The Louisiana Department of Homeland Security told them they could not go.

Hume: This is isn’t the Louisiana branch of the federal Homeland Security? This is —

Garrett: The state’s own agency devoted to the state’s homeland security. They told them you cannot go there. Why? The Red Cross tells me that state agency in Louisiana said, look, we do not want to create a magnet for more people to come to the Superdome or convention center, we want to get them out. So at the same time local officials were screaming where is the food, where is the water? The Red Cross was standing by ready, the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security said you can’t go.

Hume: FEMA does, presumably at some point, have some jurisdiction over some military forces. Of course, the first responders there are the National Guard. Why didn’t FEMA send the National Guard in? You heard that cry from many people.

Garrett: FEMA does not have jurisdictional control over any state’s National Guard, only the governor does. The governor in this case, Kathleen Blanco, A democrat, did use the Louisiana National Guard for some purposes, did not deploy them in massive numbers initially and they were not used to move any of these relief organizations in and they could have been for the very same reason I talked about earlier, the state decided they didn’t want the relief organizations where the people needed it most because they wanted those people to get out.

Hume: But even today we know that Governor Blanco has now decided that a mandatory evacuation may not be necessarily after all. But we can go into that later. What about the use by her of the National Guard to impose law and order during the early looting and all of that?

Garrett: She had a choice, as I am told. She could have taken up the offer from FEMA to federalize all of the activities in Louisiana, meaning that FEMA would be in control of everything. Not only law enforcement, but everything else. She declined to give them that authority. So essentially FEMA was trapped between two bureaucracies. One the Department Of Homeland Security where many of its decisions have to be reviewed and in some cases approved, and a recalcitrant state bureaucracy that wasn’t going to give them the authority they needed to make things happen, among them, the National Guard.

Blogger John from Wuzzadem independently confirmed Garrett’s story–which, for some strange reason, has not been picked up by any major news outlet other than Fox:

Here’s the Red Cross FAQ entry (entitled “Hurricane Katrina: Why is the Red Cross not in New Orleans?”) that liberal web sites (and irresponsible politicians) are using to indict FEMA and the USDHS:

Access to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders.

Yesterday I called the National Affairs office of the Red Cross (202-303-5551) and talked with Red Cross spokesperson Lesly Simmons, who told me that the shipment was not turned away by the US Dept of Homeland Security, but by this agency:

The Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (LHLS & EP); formally the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness (LOEP), was created by the Civil Act of 1950 and is under the Louisiana Military Department.

Ms. Simmons also told me that the Red Cross has never mentioned any involvement in this incident by FEMA, because FEMA wasn’t involved.

Note to the MSM: this is called reporting. I think it might be in some of your job descriptions, but I’d be happy to post a correction if I’m wrong about that.

So here we have the governor of Louisiana, acting out of God-knows-what motivation–probably nothing more malign than bureaucratic cowardice, but that was plenty destructive enough–refusing to send nearby food and water to all those people who were trapped in downtown New Orleans, at the mercy of both the natural elements, and an unleashed criminal element in their midst. And she also refused to give authority to her own National Guard to enter the city in force and end the violence

Again, this has not been reported elsewhere. Can you imagine–can you even conceive of the reaction if George Bush had told the Red Cross to stay away from the Superdome?

But hey, if you’re the MSM, there’s a simple answer: Doesn’t matter. It was all Bush’s fault.

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26 Responses to “Myths Busted”

  1. cirby Says:

    The other, really interesting thing is how pretty much everyone (both sides, not just the lefties) are all in a “blame FEMA for this crap” mode, when it turns out that they didn’t have anything to do with 90% of the stuff they were getting blamed for, and did have something to do with 90% of the stuff that went right.

    There’s still a heckuva lot of folks who fell for the “Louisiana DHS” name confusion (I wonder if that’s why the changed their name a while back?), and think that “FEMA officials” told people to do things that “DHS” morons from the state government did.

  2. Lynxx Pherrett Says:

    Along with diversion of Corps funds into Louisiana pols’ pet pork projects, you can probably add this. It seem that in 1977, environmentalists sued and blocked the Corps project that would have put up floodgates to prevent a storm surge from travelling up into Lake Pontchartrain.

  3. Drumwaster's Rants Says:

    I am going to do something I don't want to do…..

    We have to look at the timeline of events….what happened when, where Katrina was concerned.  We have to be dispassionate…and that is hard, with 2000-6000 dead in the ravaged areas.  However, to see the real story, we should go over…

  4. John Cross Says:

    Spot on. As this goes on, the governor is steadily becoming more of an idiotarian…is this all politically motivated? If so, how many died because of it? I’ll agree that Michael Brown should have done better, and may need to have his job given to someone else, but this Blanco is starting to become a roadblock to everything that shoudl be addressed or done. Nagin’s idiocy in the first three days of this disaster cost many lives…that is sure, but I believe that’s more due to incompetency than a desire to maintain his political standing and power.

    Damn….this looks terrible. I hope she is held accountable for what she has done…and not just by the voters of the state of Louisiana.

  5. Mike Says:

    “acting out of God-knows-what motivation…”

    And then there’s always this.

  6. Rich Says:

    While a good timeline has been established for decisions made or not made in Louisiana, I have not seen one for Mississippi. I think a comparison would be useful, particularly in calling up the National Guard. Haley Barbour struck me as much more forceful and decisive.

    What has been stunning is the general level of ignorance in the MSM on issues such as who command’s a state’s National Guard. I would also point out that most states also have a State Guard. Its job is to take over the duties of the National Guard when the National Guard is overseas. Does Louisiana have a State Guard?
    Anybody know?

  7. kmm Says:

    Add Salvation Army to it too. FOX had another segment tonight that had reps. from both organizations saying it was so.

  8. Eric J Says:

    Well, it seems like the Left has Moved On to complain about FEMA’s handling of the Houston Astrodome. For example, see most of today’s posts at Boing Boing.

  9. joonitree Says:

    I think as more time passes, it will become clearer and clearer that there is no one person to blame for all the mis-handling of the NO disaster and aftermath. Hopefully, we don’t all end up hating each other after the wash is hung up to dry…

  10. RightNumberOne Says:

    So far, every single allegation that the left has made has been debunked in less than 24 hours. None have stuck.

    1) Bush caused the hurricane because he didn’t sign the Kyoto protocol

    2) Global warming caused the hurricane to be a Cat4

    3) Survivors were turning to cannibalism to survive.

    4) FEMA turned back water donated by Wal Mart headed for New Orleans (it was redirected to another area)

    5) The feds turned back a floatilla of 500 boats (they were actually turned back by agents of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries)

    6) The levee’s were deliberately breached (this question was asked of Clinton and Bush, Sr., at their fundraising event.)

    7) The White House is censoring news agencies preventing them from showing bodies (they merely asked the media not to show dead bodies).

    8) Rapes of children in the Superdome (no victims have come forward)

    9) Brown didn’t get FEMA moving until 5 hours after Katrina landfall (it was 12 hours before winds were below 100 miles per hour).

    And on, and on and on.

    Tomorrow’s new meme, now that they can no longer claim Bush kept the Red Cross out of New Orleans, is that Bush is benefiting campaign donors in awarding body removal contract.

    It’s amazing how quiet the left got … their outrage totally disappeared, once it was discovered that a Democrat had kept the Red Cross out of New Orleans.

    Democrats don’t care about the Red Cross, or the black folks in New Orleans. Really, it’s all about scoring political points on the backs of floating dead bodies.

    Every day, there will be a new allegation that must be debunked.

    I’m keeping a list. I suggest you do to.

    Keep up the good work.

  11. Cake Eater Chronicles Says:

    Required Viewing

    I saw this on Fox last night, but it deserves WIDE play, so I’m going to link it—just like everyone else in the blogosphere is doing. If this turns out to be true—and I don’t see why it wouldn’t be…

  12. erp Says:

    I read somewhere a couple of days ago that Jesse Jackson was upset that people were being evacuated to different places. He wanted them to all be brought of an army base where they could stay together. The poverty pimps are afraid they’ll lose their meal tickets if they learn there’s a better way to live.

  13. TIm P Says:

    The facts may be debunking the myths, but that isn’t stopping the MSM from spreading the lies as fast as someone hands them their talking/writing points.

    Just today, on the way home, I was listening to NPR’s ‘small things considered’ and they were bashing FEMA hard. They even interviewed an ‘expert’ who blamed the problems on the Bush administration’s gutting of FEMA as well as the evil republicans in general, who wanted FEMA shrunk as part of making government smaller.

    This was in contrast to FEMA’s almost cabinet level status under St. Clinton, when all things were better. The grass was greener, the sky bluer, the air purer, water tasted better, sex was more pleasurable, people were just nicer, everone loved us, life made sense and all was right with the world.

    It was pretty hard to take. Our local newspaper was having none of it regarding those pesky ‘facts’ either. Even the letters to the editor were almost all condemning a)Bush, b)Republicans, c)conservatives or d) white people in general, that is unless they were condemning a) through d) for some other grievous sin, of omission, commission, complicity or complacency, you get the picture.

  14. Mike Says:

    Personnally, I have several rental homes in KY. I hope they all become section 8 / FEMA homes….remind me to call my property manager tonight….

    Regards.

  15. Sandy P Says:

    Via Polipundit, very interesting from Landrieu’s site:

    DISASTER ASSISTANCE

    Emergency management operations for disasters include three phases: preparedness, response, and recovery. In the preparedness phase, state and local governments administer emergency preparedness programs with ongoing activities to help ensure that they are ready to respond to disasters. The Louisiana Department of Emergency Preparedness is responsible for all initial damage assessment prior to federal involvement.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) partially funds disaster assistance and emergency preparedness programs. Victims whose immediate needs are not met by voluntary relief organizations, such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, can register with FEMA.

  16. Ian Wood Says:

    Eric J:

    You’ve noticed BoingBoing descent into nonsense too, huh? Ms. Jardin seems to have entirely lost her peroxided mind.

    Gosh…I remember when BB really was a directory of wonderful things. Now it’s just occasional gadgetry and “art” sandwiched between echo-chambered West Coast political blather.

  17. rosignol Says:

    Note to the MSM: this is called reporting.

    The MSM thinks reporting is pass

  18. msdl5 Says:

    The Diceman used to have a bit,

    He’d pick a couple out of the front row and ask if they were dating. If they said yes, he’d ask them if they had done the deed yet. The answer was yes. He’d ask the guy if the woman was any good the first time they did it. With her sitting there he’d say good/great/fantastic.

    Dice would ask, “how do you think she got that way?”

    Well, watching the the poor folks in New Orleans come out of their homes and evacuate, we learn around the nation just how poor they were. The poorest of the poor with crime statistics that shoot above the national average. The national media acted shocked, shocked that these people were forgotten. They’s always been forgotten, ignored and out of sight.

    People went to New Orleans to party and raise hell and seldom were exposed to the third world conditions that the majority of New Orleans minority population lived in. I didn’t know it was soo bad and I’d been there a couple times.

    So the Dicemans question rings again… “How do you think they got that way?”

    It took time, decades or maybe ever since the end of the Civil War to get that way. The same political machines (some are families) offered no hope for these folks for decades and no hope at the Superdome and the Convention Center.

    Here’s some cash, shut up and come back on election day and if you don’t vote a certain way the cash will stop and you’ll be lunched.

    Governor Blanco’s administrations actions just lynched about 100,000 American citizens but the country was watching this time. The media needs to get the story straight or they willbe the ones with the egg all over their face when hearings begin.

  19. raptor Says:

    If this keeps-up history is going to look at the Demos/Lefties as one of the most shamefull orginazations in modern history.

  20. Crank Says:

    But . . . but . . . George W. Bush doesn’t care about black people! QED! I know because Howard Dean says so!

  21. richard mcenroe Says:

    Crank

  22. Duane Says:

    “…So here we have the governor of Louisiana, acting out of God-knows-what motivation…”

    I’ve been wondering if perhaps Blanco’s reluctance to turn over control to the feds or the Red Cross was an effort to orchestrate a “Rudy Gulliani moment” for the media.

    If she could be seen as a take charge kind of person responding heroically in the wake of the disaster it would help advance her political career. If that’s the case, and God help her if it is, she’s failed miserably.

  23. The Forest For The Trees Says:

    Media Darling or Natural Disaster

    Will Collier takes a look at the poor decisions made by NOLA officials.

  24. Zsa Zsa Says:

    WILLisms.com has a great post on Huey P. Long!…I think that FDR got into office for fear that Huey might become President! Anyhow, Huey P. sounds like the BIGGEST Socialist I have ever heard. Even more than Marx! That Louisiana government is soooooo corrupt! Half of New Orleans is under water and the other half is under indictment! I forgot who said that but I really like it!…Thanks!

  25. snowy egret Says:

    I guess theres not enough for the pork projects they want it sounds like robby byrd brain isnt happy

  26. David R. Block Says:

    Zsa Zsa, the quote originally referenced the whole state, and it was former Louisiana Congress-critter Billy Tauzin who said it.

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