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Thursday, September 01, 2005

I heard Incurious George on the radio today:

I don't think anyone anticipated that the levees would be breached.

[Sounds of coughing and spluttering. See Sunday's post.]


I almost always strenuously disagree with your political asides, but because I'm here for the writing advice that I enjoy and appreciate, I refrain from commenting on the politics. I can't refrain from this one, though.

See today's New York Times,page A-1. Headline: "GOVERNMENT SAW FLOOD RISK BUT NOT LEVEE FAILURE."

From the article: "The response will be dissected for years. But on Thursday, disaster experts and frustrated officials said a crucial shortcoming may have been the failure to predict that the levees keeping Lake Pontchartrain out of the city would be breached, not just overflow."

Perhaps you should see someone about that cough. :\

By Blogger Clint, at 5:08 PM  

Everything I heard on the radio and TV on Sunday night was "will the levees hold?" Why do you think I was blogging about the risk of the levees failing on Sunday night? And in the "Hurricane Pam" scenario run earlier in the year, the assumption was that New Orleans would be swamped by a storm surge that simply washed over the levees, creating the same amount of flooding we're facing now.

It is true that the Administration did not see levee failure as a risk. But scientists have been complaining about the risk of levee failure for YEARS. Just, no one in the Administration listens to scientists. That's why the Army Corps of Engineers was begging for money to shore up the levees, until the Administration cut their New Orleans budget by 44% and froze hiring.

Try to imagine it's Bill Clinton saying "I don't think anyone anticipated the levees would be breached." Wouldn't you be absolutely furious? I know I would. Why is it that you guys on the right never, ever hold George Bush responsible for his mistakes?

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 5:35 PM  


"Try to imagine it's Bill Clinton saying 'I don't think anyone anticipated the levees would be breached.' Wouldn't you be absolutely furious? I know I would. Why is it that you guys on the right never, ever hold George Bush responsible for his mistakes?"

Oh yes, because I don't hold the feds responsible for something that's properly the responsibility of state and local government, I "never, ever hold George Bush responsible for his mistakes." As it happens, I've complained bitterly about Bush over the years, but from the libertarian-right side, not from the left. No, I wouldn't be furious, because I don't consider it to be the job of the President of the United States, or the U.S. Congress, to ensure that a city and state have taken the proper precautions against natural disasters. That's their job. That's federalism, what little of it is left these days. If a particularly terrible natural disaster occurs, the Constitution allows for the federal government to step in with assistance, but it's certainly not the federal government's *responsibility* beforehand. So no, I'm not going to hold someone accountable for a mistake that isn't his. Why do people on the left reflexively try to blame every local or state issue that doesn't break the way they feel it should on federal Republicans?

As for your Corps of Engineers/levee underfunding complaint, the Corps itself says the accusation is bogus from top to bottom. From the Chicago Tribune yesterday:

"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday that a lack of funding for hurricane-protection projects around New Orleans did not contribute to the disastrous flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina.

"In a telephone interview with reporters, corps officials said that although portions of the flood-protection levees remain incomplete, the levees near Lake Pontchartrain that gave way--inundating much of the city--were completed and in good condition before the hurricane.

"However, they noted that the levees were designed for a Category 3 hurricane and couldn't handle the ferocious winds and raging waters from Hurricane Katrina, which was a Category 4 storm when it hit the coastline. The decision to build levees for a Category 3 hurricane was made decades ago based on a cost-benefit analysis."

"'I don't see that the level of funding was really a contributing factor in this case,' said Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, chief of engineers for the corps. 'Had this project been fully complete, it is my opinion that based on the intensity of this storm that the flooding of the business district and the French Quarter would have still taken place.'

"Strock also denied that escalating costs from the war in Iraq contributed to reductions in funding for hurricane projects in Louisiana, as some critics have suggested. Records show that corps funding for the Louisiana projects has generally decreased in recent years.",1,7189346.story?coll=chi-news-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true
(free reg. req'd)

True enough: Funding for those projects began declining under Clinton in '98 and have continued to do so, with a planned study to reinforce the levees not even scheduled to begin until next year.

George W. Bush has made a number of mistakes over the years in my opinion, and frankly I'm downright pissed off at Congressional Republicans these days, but not doing enough to shore up the levees that Lousiana failed to build to account for a hurricane of this magnitude, or to keep Louisiana from destroying its own marshlands that would have helped relieve the strain, ain't one of 'em.


By Blogger Clint, at 6:53 PM  

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