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HURRICANE KATRINA: Indexed Quotations etc. | September 5, 2005

Scope | FEMA | Security | Flood Prevention | Political/Economic Fallout


Researched by Douglas Drenkow, "Progressive Thinking"

"The results are not acceptable." -- President George W. Bush

"You could almost see Mr. Bush's political base starting to crumble at its very epicenter, Fox News, by Thursday night." -- Frank Rich

"...the political culture is about to undergo some big change. We're not really at a tipping point as much as a bursting point." -- David Brooks

"The raw cronyism of that appointment [of Bush's first FEMA director, with no experience] showed the contempt the administration felt for the agency; one can only imagine the effects on staff morale. That contempt...reflects a general hostility to the role of government as a force for good. And Americans living along the Gulf Coast have now reaped the consequences of that hostility." -- Paul Krugman

"...when you combine limited government with incompetent government, lethal stuff happens." -- Maureen Dowd

"But as culpable, criminal, and loathsome as the Bush Administration is, it is only the apotheosis of an overarching trend in American society that has been gathering force for decades: the destruction of the idea of a common good, a public sector whose benefits and responsibilities are shared by all, and directed by the consent of the governed." -- Chris Floyd

"We're going to have to ask why it took almost two days of people being without food, shelter, and water for Mr. Bush to get back to Washington." -- Frank Rich

"The unmistakable conclusion one would draw from this was this was a massive administration failure." -- Donald P. Green, professor of political science at Yale University

"So America, once famous for its can-do attitude, now has a can't-do government that makes excuses instead of doing its job. And while it makes those excuses, Americans are dying." -- Paul Krugman

"I think it puts into question all of the Homeland Security and Northern Command planning for the last four years, because if we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?" -- Newt Gingrich

"Three out of every four dollars the agency provides in local preparedness and first-responder grants go to terrorism-related activities, even though a recent Government Accountability Office report quotes local officials as saying what they really need is money to prepare for natural disasters and accidents." -- Los Angeles Times

"Did they not have a contingency for a disaster of this magnitude?" -- John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org

"FEMA has known this for 20 years. Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent, in studies, training and contingency plans, scenarios, all of that." -- Martha Madden, Louisiana secretary of environmental quality from 1987-1988

"Americans who had been humbled by failures in Iraq saw that the authorities could not quickly cope with a natural disaster at home." -- New York Times Editorial

"More than 950 people were killed and hundreds more injured Wednesday morning when rumors of a suicide bomber provoked a frenzied stampede in a procession of Shiite pilgrims as they crossed a bridge in northern Baghdad...Most of the dead were crushed or suffocated...but many drowned after falling or jumping into the Tigris River after the panicking crowd broke through the bridge's railings. The disaster was by far the greatest one-day loss of life since the American-led invasion in March 2003." -- New York Times

"Who are we if we can't take care of our own?" -- Maureen Dowd

"We are not sewage." -- Doug Drenkow

"...as scenes of horror that seemed to be coming from some Third World country flashed before us, official Washington was like a dog watching television. It saw the lights and images, but did not seem to comprehend their meaning or see any link to reality...This was just survival of the richest." -- Bob Shieffer

"...a replay of the sinking of the Titanic. New Orleans's first-class passengers made it safely into lifeboats; for those in steerage, it was a horrifying spectacle of every man, woman and child for himself." -- Frank Rich

"When they were deaf for so long to the horrific misery and cries for help of the victims in New Orleans -- most of them poor and black, like those stuck at the back of the evacuation line yesterday while 700 guests and employees of the Hyatt Hotel were bused out first -- they shook the faith of all Americans in American ideals. And made us ashamed." -- Maureen Dowd

"The hellish confines stood in stark contrast to those of people nearby in the restricted-access New Orleans Centre and Hyatt Hotel, where those who could get in lounged in relative comfort. A few blocks farther away, guests were being fed 'foie gras and rack of lamb' for dinner, according to a photographer who stayed there, while the masses, most of them poor, huddled in the Dome." -- The Times-Picayune

"Despite robust economic growth last year, 1.1 million more Americans slipped into poverty in 2004, while household incomes stagnated and earnings fell...The number of Americans without health insurance rose...The poverty rate climbed in 2004...the fourth year in a row that poverty has risen." -- Washington Post

"...Sen. Bill Frist will move forward with a vote to permanently repeal the estate tax next week, likely on Tuesday." -- ThinkProgress.org


"In 1889 in Pennsylvania, a great flood washed away much of Johnstown... Witnesses watched hundreds of people trapped on a burning bridge, forced to choose between burning to death or throwing themselves into the churning waters to drown.

"The flood was so abnormal that the country seemed to have trouble grasping what had happened...

"Prejudices were let loose...'Drunken Hungarians, Dancing, Singing, Cursing and Fighting Amid the Ruins' a New York Herald headline blared.

"Then, as David McCullough notes in 'The Johnstown Flood,' public fury turned on the Pittsburgh millionaires whose club's fishing pond had emptied on the town. The Chicago Herald depicted the millionaires as Roman aristocrats, seeking pleasure while the poor died like beasts in the Coliseum.

"Even before the flood, public resentment was building against the newly rich industrialists. Protests were growing against the trusts, against industrialization, and against the new concentrations of wealth. The Johnstown flood crystallized popular anger, for the fishing club was indeed partly to blame. Public reaction to the disaster helped set the stage for the progressive movement and the trust-busting that was to come...

"Then in 1927, the great Mississippi flood rumbled down upon New Orleans. As Barry writes in his account, 'Rising Tide,' the disaster ripped the veil off the genteel, feudal relations between whites and blacks, and revealed the festering iniquities. Blacks were rounded up into work camps and held by armed guards. They were prevented from leaving as the waters rose. A steamer, the Capitol, played 'Bye Bye Blackbird' as it sailed away. The racist violence that followed the floods helped persuade many blacks to move north.

"Civic leaders intentionally flooded poor and middle-class areas to ease the water's pressure on the city, and then reneged on promises to compensate those whose homes were destroyed. That helped fuel the populist anger that led to Huey Long's success. Across the country people demanded that the federal government get involved in disaster relief, helping to set the stage for the New Deal."

-- David Brooks


"Hospitals with deathly ill patients were left without power, with ventilators that didn't work, with floodwaters rising on the lower floors and with corpses rotting in the corridors and stairwells. People unable to breathe on their own, or with cancer or heart disease or kidney failure, slipped into comas and sank into their final sleep in front of helpless doctors and relatives. These were Americans in desperate trouble.

"The president didn't seem to notice.

"Death and the stink of decay were all over the city. Corpses were propped up in wheelchairs and on lawn furniture, or left to decompose on sunbaked sidewalks. Some floated by in water fouled by human feces.

"Degenerates roamed the city, shooting at rescue workers, beating and robbing distraught residents and tourists, raping women and girls. The president of the richest, most powerful country in the history of the world didn't seem to notice.

"Viewers could watch diabetics go into insulin shock on national television, and you could see babies with the pale, vacant look of hunger that we're more used to seeing in dispatches from the third world. You could see their mothers, dirty and hungry themselves, weeping.

"Old, critically ill people were left to soil themselves and in some cases die like stray animals on the floor of an airport triage center. For days the president of the United States didn't seem to notice.

"He would have noticed if the majority of these stricken folks had been white and prosperous. But they weren't. Most were black and poor, and thus, to the George W. Bush administration, still invisible...

"And when the president is so obviously clueless about matters so obviously important, it means that the rest of us, like the people left stranded in New Orleans, are in deep, deep trouble."

-- Bob Herbert


"In a reflection of what has long been a hallmark of Mr. Rove's tough political style, the administration is also working to shift the blame away from the White House and toward officials of New Orleans and Louisiana who, as it happens, are Democrats. 'The way that emergency operations act under the law is the responsibility and the power, the authority, to order an evacuation rests with state and local officials,'" Mr. Chertoff said in his television interview. 'The federal government comes in and supports those officials.'" -- New York Times

"'They can't do that,' former agency chief of staff Jane Bullock said of Bush administration efforts to shift responsibility away from Washington. 'The moment the president declared a federal disaster, it became a federal responsibility….The federal government took ownership over the response,' she said. Bush declared a disaster in Louisiana and Mississippi when the storm hit a week ago." -- Los Angeles Times


"Yesterday, I was hoping President Bush would come away from his tour of the regional devastation triggered by Hurricane Katrina with a new understanding for the magnitude of the suffering and for the abject failures of the current Federal Emergency Management Agency. 24 hours later, the President has yet to answer my call for a cabinet-level official to lead our efforts. Meanwhile, FEMA, now a shell of what it once was, continues to be overwhelmed by the task at hand...

"But perhaps the greatest disappointment stands at the breached 17th Street levee. Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment." -- US Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana), one of The Group of 14 senators key to "the nuclear option" in the upcoming Supreme Court nominations


"I think he's really undermined his credibility at this point, and it really saddles him with the kind of problems that Johnson and Nixon faced. These crises are such a heavy burden, and they are so self-inflicted, except for the court vacancies, that if he is not very careful and tries to put across someone who is seen as an ultraconservative, he is going to touch off a conflagration in the Senate." -- Robert Dallek, a presidential historian and Johnson biographer


An Open Letter to the President, from The Times-Picayune

"Dear Mr. President:

"We heard you loud and clear Friday when you visited our devastated city and the Gulf Coast and said, 'What is not working, we're going to make it right.'

"Please forgive us if we wait to see proof of your promise before believing you. But we have good reason for our skepticism...

"We're angry, Mr. President, and we'll be angry long after our beloved city and surrounding parishes have been pumped dry. Our people deserved rescuing. Many who could have been were not. That's to the government's shame...

"In a nationally televised interview Thursday night, he [FEMA Director Michael Brown] said his agency hadn't known until that day that thousands of storm victims were stranded at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. He gave another nationally televised interview the next morning and said, 'We've provided food to the people at the Convention Center so that they've gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day.'

"Lies don't get more bald-faced than that, Mr. President.

"Yet, when you met with Mr. Brown Friday morning, you told him, 'You're doing a heck of a job.'

"That's unbelievable...

"We, who are from New Orleans, are no less American than those who live on the Great Plains or along the Atlantic Seaboard. We're no less important than those from the Pacific Northwest or Appalachia. Our people deserved to be rescued.

"No expense should have been spared. No excuses should have been voiced. Especially not one as preposterous as the claim that New Orleans couldn't be reached.

"Mr. President, we sincerely hope you fulfill your promise to make our beloved communities work right once again.

"When you do, we will be the first to applaud."


"It doesn't make sense to me." -- Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois), about re-building New Orleans with federal money

"The whole coastal area of the state has been destroyed, virtually destroyed. It was quiet. It was eerie. It was horrible to behold." -- US Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.)


"...[an expert on post-disaster re-construction] compared it to the 1995 earthquake that struck Kobe, Japan, killing 6,000 people and running up more than $150 billion reconstruction costs. More than 100,000 buildings were destroyed and 300,000 people were left homeless. Kobe took up to 10 years to rebuild...

"Housing will be a long-term problem -- especially for New Orleans' sizable low-income population, which will find it harder to secure resources to rebuild. Apartments are always the last to be rebuilt...and low-income housing lags behind that. The result could be an explosion in the homeless population.

"'In Japan people lived in temporary housing for eight years.'" -- The Times-Picayune


"...the biggest domestic relief and security effort in US history...

"The US Senate approved a $US10.5 billion ($A13.8 billion) emergency funding bill requested by Bush to speed help to Katrina's victims, and the House of Representatives is expected to pass identical legislation today...

"With several refineries on the US Gulf Coast shut, retail petrol prices soared to new records.

"Federal disaster declarations covered 234,000 square kilometres along the US Gulf Coast, an area roughly the size of Britain.

"As many as 400,000 people had been forced to leave their homes...

"Much of the city was still under several feet of water and officials said it could take a month to get the water out."

-- Reuters, as reported in "The Age" (Melbourne, Australia)


"Consumers can expect retail gas prices to rise to $4 a gallon soon, but whether they stay there depends on the long-term damage to oil facilities from Hurricane Katrina..." -- CNN Money

"Join me, if you will, in shedding a tear for the plight of Big Oil, which earned so much money in 2004 -- the 10 largest companies had sales of more than $1 trillion, with profits of more than $100 billion -- that they can't find enough places to invest it." -- Delta Farm Press

"Not since 1976, almost 40 years ago, has a major new refining facility been built in the United States. That ain't all: As best anyone can tell, no new refineries are on the drawing board in this country. Nada. Zip. Zilch." -- Delta Farm Press

"Katrina forced operators to close more than a tenth of the country's refining capacity and a quarter of its oil production..." -- CNN Money

"...the three global recessions since World War II were all driven by spikes in oil prices, and although the world economy is currently very strong, the current jump in oil prices looks pretty serious." -- Associated Press

Scope | FEMA | Security | Flood Prevention | Political/Economic Fallout

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