Monday, September 12, 2005


Don't Even Get Me Started

I haven't mentioned what I great word I think apophasis is, have I?

Monday, September 05, 2005


The Real Cost of Gas, 1950-2004

I remember saying in the late '90s that gas was an absolute bargain compared to what it had cost in the past and compared to the rate at which other commodities had increased in cost. Here's a neat graph that demonstrates that fact. Notice that the graph ends in 2004 and that if you extrapolate to today's near $3 per gallon prices, current prices are in the same range as inflation adjusted early 80s oil crises prices. Good times.


Is FEMA to Blame?

Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, located immediately southwest of New Orleans, appeared on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday. He was angry and deeply saddened by FEMA's response to the destruction caused by Huricane Katrina, accusing the agency of murder by bureaucracy. Here are a few quotes from lopsided interview:
We have been abandoned by our own country. Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst storms ever to hit an American coast, but the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history. I am personally asking our bipartisan congressional delegation here in Louisiana to immediately begin congressional hearings to find out just what happened here. Why did it happen? Who needs to be fired? And believe me, they need to be fired right away, because we still have weeks to go in this tragedy. We have months to go. We have years to go. And whoever is at the top of this totem pole, that totem pole needs to be chain-sawed off and we've got to start with some new leadership.
It's not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here. Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area, and bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now. It's so obvious. FEMA needs more congressional funding. It needs more presidential support. It needs to be a Cabinet-level director. It needs to be an independent agency that will be able to fulfill its mission to work in partnership with state and local governments around America. FEMA needs to be empowered to do the things it was created to do. It needs to come somewhere, like New Orleans, with all of its force immediately, without red tape, without bureaucracy, act immediately with common sense and leadership, and save lives. Forget about the property. We can rebuild the property. It's got to be able to come in and save lives.
Let me give you just three quick examples. We had Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of water, trailer trucks of water. FEMA turned them back. They said we didn't need them. This was a week ago. FEMA--we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. The Coast Guard said, "Come get the fuel right away." When we got there with our trucks, they got a word. "FEMA says don't give you the fuel." Yesterday--yesterday--FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards on our line and says, "No one is getting near these lines." Sheriff Harry Lee said that if America--American government would have responded like Wal-Mart has responded, we wouldn't be in this crisis.
The guy who runs this building I'm in, emergency management, he's responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, "Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?" And he said, "Yeah, Mama, somebody's coming to get you. Somebody's coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody's coming to get you on Friday." And she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night.
Nobody's coming to get us. Nobody's coming to get us. The secretary has promised. Everybody's promised. They've had press conferences. I'm sick of the press conferences. For God sakes, shut up and send us somebody.
I was astonished that the interviewer, Tim Russert, tried to pin the blame on the local officials for inadequately evacuation proceedures. While those officials should probably bear some blame, I believe that FEMA's seems to be most cuplable when nearly a week after the event little appears to have been done to help the decentralized victims. The obvious victims, like those gathered in the Superdome, are receiving well reported help, but it seems likely to me that there are as many or more folks in need of assistance scattered throughout the affected area. After seeing a first hand report like the above and a story about an underutilized naval vessel off the Louisiana shore which has essentially sat idle for lack of direction, I believe that FEMA and its ultimate leadership bear the lion's share of blame for the loss of life subsequent to the storm due to its unpreparedness, inaction, and miscalculation. FEMA has failed its mission.

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