Other things that caught my attention:
Rumors and Anectdotal information:
Director of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff categorized the reports of thousands of people at the New Orleans Convention Center thusly, while speaking with NPR's Rober Seigel. To my surprise and much to his credit, Seigel called him on that characterization.
Of course, it was easy for Seigel to do that, since he had John Burnett on the other line.
Burnett told about the folks at the convention center, who were told to go there because it was a staging area, living like animals in a cage. No one was in charge; no one was doing anything about them. And this was eight blocks from the Superdome.
At the end of the report, you'll hear Seigel update the story, telling you that Chertoff got independent verification of what Seigel was telling him. In other words, he turned on CNN. OK, maybe not, but what does it say when the guy in charge doesn't know what's going on?
Later on in the broadcast, David Kestenbaum does a piece on the Army Corps of Engingeers, and the huge job they have in front of them. Leading into the first sound bite, Kestenbaum mentions that the Corps' cel and satellite phones don't work.
Waitaminnit...we just had a report from John Burnett, who was on his cel phone. Why don't the Corps' phones work?
Could it be because they're broke?:
Just plain political bad luck that, in June, Bush took his little ax and chopped $71.2 million from the budget of the New Orleans Corps of Engineers, a 44 percent reduction. As was reported in New Orleans CityBusiness at the time, that meant "major hurricane and flood projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved for now."
That was the observation of Molly Ivins, pointing out that the President's chickens are coming home to roost.
Another tidbit from Ms. Ivins:
Our friends at the Center for American Progress note the Office of Technology Assessment used to produce forward-thinking plans such as "Floods: A National Policy Concern" and "A Framework for Flood Hazards Management." Unfortunately, the office was targeted by Newt Gingrich and the Republican right, and gutted years ago.
In fact, there is now a government-wide movement away from basing policy on science, expertise and professionalism, and in favor of choices based on ideology. If you're wondering what the ideological position on flood management might be, look at the pictures of New Orleans -- it seems to consist of gutting the programs that do anything.This is not a time for I-told-you-so's. This is a time to do some serious work. We had no control over where Katrina went. However, the policy choices taken by this administration raise the question as to whether or not the extent of the flooding could have been prevented, or at least severely curtailed.
Bush is now proposing ten billion dollars in relief for the area. In case you're wondering, that's more than 1400% more than the 71.2 million he saved in July.