Blame It On Cain

It’s been a rather impressive millennium on the natural disaster front, wouldn’t you say?

Major earthquakes in Gujarat, India (2001) and Iran (2003) killed over 40,000 people, and in December 2004, the strongest earthquake anywhere in the world in over 40 years, a 9.0 temblor beneath the Indian Ocean, spawned massive tidal waves that devastated coastal areas of Sri Lanka, Thailand, India, and Sumatra, killing nearly 300,000 people.

Presumably, many animals and other living things perished in these things as well, but let’s try and stay focused on the human factor, since we are the only species on the planet to entertain the notion we might:

a) have any thing to do with natural disasters;
and/or
b) be able to do anything about them.

Wildfires have long plagued the American West: 2003 saw California’s worst in a decade torch nearly 2000 homes and destroy billions of dollars of real property, while other heat-related aberrations left over 20,000 dead in Italy, France, and Portugal, in the worst heat-wave and wildfires to strike Southern Europe in a generation.

The annual parade of hurricanes through the Caribbean Sea, South Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico has seen seven of the ten most disastrous hurricanes in history present during the past five years, with four of them bitch-slapping Florida and the Gulf Coast last year alone.

Hurricane Katrina brings this week a new measure of the distance between things, and whether one believes it’s an expression of “intelligent design,” or of “some vast conspiracy,” the effect of “global warming” wrought by man, or even of something we have nothing to do with, and can do nothing about –it’s worth noting a few things:

THE EARTH IS ALIVE. An earthquake of magnatude 5.0 or more is recorded somewhere on earth over 1300 times a year, and a wealth of information and data points to our planet’s throbbing core.

Little of what mankind does on earth will have much of an effect, in the end. The powers, forces, and changes of NATURE will trump our brilliance, and planning, and effort every time. Our relentless pursuit of progress and profit may indeed have the effect of rendering the earth’s natural forces more ferocious and destructive; or perhaps those skeptical of science are correct, and man’s designs are inconsequential. Either way, Mother Earth will have the final say.

That certainty, should it have been debatable for any reason prior to this past Monday and Tuesday, ought now be clear in the face of what has become of New Orleans and nearby parts of the Gulf Coast. Can anyone doubt the Earth will reclaim Louisiana’s swamps and wetlands in her own time and manner? For good reason do the cultures of people with the longest histories on our planet feature knowledge, ritual, and celebration of living in harmony with the forces and elements of Nature.

As a relatively short-lived people ourselves, we Americans would do well to seek a greater measure of that kind of harmony, and soon, if we wish to keep spreading our way of life all over the globe.

It is also worth noting that the Bush administration, with typical wrongheadedness, malfeasance, and poor timing, recently gutted the budget for the New Orleans District of the Army Corps of Engineers, almost certainly making what would have been a bad situation in any event, even worse.

One may also rightly consider the possibility that, had not the vast majority of our National Guard been deployed on a fool’s errand in Iraq, the chaos, and looting, and mayhem that have plagued New Orleans in Katrina’s wake might have been less.

Comments

  1. Tom - September 2, 2005 @ 4:56 am

    Why New Orleans Is in Deep Water
    By Molly Ivins
    Creators Syndicate

    Thursday 01 September 2005

    Austin, Texas – Like many of you who love New Orleans, I find myself taking short mental walks there today, turning a familiar corner, glimpsing a favorite scene, square or vista. And worrying about the beloved friends and the city, and how they are now.

    To use a fine Southern word, it’s tacky to start playing the blame game before the dead are even counted. It is not too soon, however, to make a point that needs to be hammered home again and again, and that is that government policies have real consequences in people’s lives.

    This is not “just politics” or blaming for political advantage. This is about the real consequences of what governments do and do not do about their responsibilities. And about who winds up paying the price for those policies.

    This is a column for everyone in the path of Hurricane Katrina who ever said, “I’m sorry, I’m just not interested in politics,” or, “There’s nothing I can do about it,” or, “Eh, they’re all crooks anyway.”

    Nothing to do with me, nothing to do with my life, nothing I can do about any of it. Look around you this morning. I suppose the National Rifle Association would argue, “Government policies don’t kill people, hurricanes kill people.” Actually, hurricanes plus government policies kill people.

    One of the main reasons New Orleans is so vulnerable to hurricanes is the gradual disappearance of the wetlands on the Gulf Coast that once stood as a natural buffer between the city and storms coming in from the water. The disappearance of those wetlands does not have the name of a political party or a particular administration attached to it. No one wants to play, “The Democrats did it,” or, “It’s all Reagan’s fault.” Many environmentalists will tell you more than a century’s interference with the natural flow of the Mississippi is the root cause of the problem, cutting off the movement of alluvial soil to the river’s delta.

    But in addition to long-range consequences of long-term policies like letting the Corps of Engineers try to build a better river than God, there are real short-term consequences, as well. It is a fact that the Clinton administration set some tough policies on wetlands, and it is a fact that the Bush administration repealed those policies – ordering federal agencies to stop protecting as many as 20 million acres of wetlands.

    Last year, four environmental groups cooperated on a joint report showing the Bush administration’s policies had allowed developers to drain thousands of acres of wetlands.

    Does this mean we should blame President Bush for the fact that New Orleans is underwater? No, but it means we can blame Bush when a Category 3 or Category 2 hurricane puts New Orleans under. At this point, it is a matter of making a bad situation worse, of failing to observe the First Rule of Holes (when you’re in one, stop digging).

    Had a storm the size of Katrina just had the grace to hold off for a while, it’s quite likely no one would even remember what the Bush administration did two months ago. The national press corps has the attention span of a gnat, and trying to get anyone in Washington to remember longer than a year ago is like asking them what happened in Iznik, Turkey, in A.D. 325.

    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.”

    The commander of the corps’ New Orleans district also immediately instituted a hiring freeze and canceled the annual corps picnic.

    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 governmentwide 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.

    Unfortunately, the war in Iraq is directly related to the devastation left by the hurricane. About 35 percent of Louisiana’s National Guard is now serving in Iraq, where four out of every 10 soldiers are guardsmen. Recruiting for the Guard is also down significantly because people are afraid of being sent to Iraq if they join, leaving the Guard even more short-handed.

    The Louisiana National Guard also notes that dozens of its high-water vehicles, Humvees, refuelers and generators have also been sent abroad. (I hate to be picky, but why do they need high-water vehicles in Iraq?)

    This, in turn, goes back to the original policy decision to go into Iraq without enough soldiers and the subsequent failure to admit that mistake and to rectify it by instituting a draft.

    The levees of New Orleans, two of which are now broken and flooding the city, were also victims of Iraq war spending. Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, said on June 8, 2004, “It appears that the money has been moved in the president’s budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq.”

    This, friends, is why we need to pay attention to government policies, not political personalities, and to know whereon we vote. It is about our lives.
    .
    ——-

  2. Jon Heller - September 2, 2005 @ 7:01 am

    Way Down Yonder In New Orleans…

    That’s The Land Of Those…Dreamy Dreams…

    In The Garden Of Eden…You Know What I mean…

    Creole Babies With Flashin’ Eyes…

    I’m not here really to cast any blame as far as the lack or depth of Federal response. By the time the Federal response is truly felt and apparent, thousands in the ‘City That Care Forgot’ will have already perished, as they have been already. I will go out on the racial limb so-to-speak in at least exposing had the hoards of New Orleans survivors been affluent white people or, more specifically, perhaps (and that’s a weak perhaps) we would have seen more urgent and timely response. I damn well think the venerable Rev. Jesse Jackson just might agree with that.

    Back in early 1980s, when Lon and I were no more than mere undergraduate misfits (but intelligent misfits) at Tulane University amongst the hundreds of wild oaks and the many pretty Southern belles in the beautiful Uptown area, New Orleans was a fairly crude environment way back then. The delivery of typical city services was below average at best, but we didn’t really care. We were young, party-going, intelligence-seeking sorts, who studied and worked hard and played even harder in the Big Easy. New Orleans was very good to us, even at 5AM when we were stumbling out of Tipitina’s after a heavy night of the Neville’s or, if our timing was exceptional, John Lee Hooker – unloading our bodily functions on some poor sprawling oak tree that always welcomed us. We obviously didn’t have the responsibilities that we all have now. New Orleans truly grew on all of us who lived there. It was one of those unique cities that captured you, where one learned a helluva lot more about people OUTSIDE the classroom than with books and professors inside the classroom. We truly marveled at times at human behavior itself way down yonder, not only during Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest, but every day of the year brought us something so special – because were were lucky enough to live in that town. There was no other place on this earth in which I looked so forward to April so much. Forget about the fact I was born April 2, 1960. There was nothing like April in New Orleans. The constant sweet smell of azealas truly permeated reality and made one feel they were not only so fortunate to live there, but for the most part, we were in utter utopia.

    It goes without saying this has been an utter American tragedy on our own soil. Neglect, anger, apathy, yes those words have all come to my mind this week. It’s definitely been an emotionally tough week for me and one that caused me to open up my wallet, only to find there was no cash in it. Now THAT’S New Orleans. I thank the great lord almighty for credit cards.

    I’ve been hearing the late great Louis Armstrong all week long playing in my head with his raspy voice – DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO MISS NEW ORLEANS? It’s no wonder he’s buried in New York. He wouldn’t have wanted to see any of this devestation down there. New Orleans will never be the same for many years to come and that makes me very sad.

    Please give generously.

  3. Michael Herdegen - September 2, 2005 @ 10:34 am

    It’s been predicted since 1980 that a major hurricane could put New Orleans under water, so blaming cuts made three months ago for what happened is deranged.

    One may also rightly consider the possibility that, had everyone evacuated New Orleans, as any prudent person would, the chaos, looting, and mayhem that have plagued New Orleans in Katrina’s wake would certainly have been less.

    Further, if you were going to ride out a hurricane, wouldn’t it make sense to stock up on water, food, and candles ?
    But, apparently, many of the idiots still in New Orleans DID NOTHING to prepare.

    [W]e are the only species on the planet to entertain the notion we might:

    b) be able to do anything about [natural disasters].

    […] The powers, forces, and changes of NATURE will trump our brilliance, and planning, and effort every time. […]
    As a relatively short-lived people ourselves, we Americans would do well to seek a greater measure […] of harmony, and soon, if we wish to keep spreading our way of life all over the globe.

    Humans can’t control ALL natural disasters, but we can mitigate some, if we care to do so.
    The damage to New Orleans was made much worse by a century of disaster-averting FLOOD CONTROL measures on the Mississippi River, and a lack of action over the past 25 years regarding the coastal marshes of Louisiana.
    Even with the devastation, humans over the past century might be NET better off, due to contained flooding upriver over the decades.
    The 2003 California wildfires consumed so many homes because the homeowners didn’t take prudent precautions against wildfires.
    Many people DID take such precautions, and few of their homes burned.
    The people who died in Europe would not have died if, again, prudent measures had been taken. Avoiding death by heat in only 100 degree(F) weather is fairly easy.

    None of this is rocket science, but it does take some minimal effort on the part of those likely to be affected. Natural disasters don’t trump planning and effort EVERY time…
    The smaller the disaster, the more likely it could have been mitigated.

    Spreading the American way of life is the MOST effective measure against loss of life due to natural disaster.
    30,000 people died in Bam because their primary construction method is mud-brick masonry. If they had built to California code, maybe 300 people would have died.
    Even given mud-brick construction, there are very cheap, easy techniques that can be used to strengthen buildings, such as using nylon-twine reinforcement of walls. That the Iranians don’t use such is due simply to indifference, not lack of money or ability.

    The death toll from the Indian Ocean tsunami could NEVER happen to the advanced nations around the Pacific, since we have a system of warning buoys in place against just such an event.
    If the nations surrounding the Indian Ocean had been as affluent as the U.S. or Japan, they wouldn’t have thought twice about spending the few millions necessary to install a similar system.

  4. lonbud - September 2, 2005 @ 1:29 pm

    Michael, your lack of compassion and “blame the victim” mentality is appalling. You obviously have never been to New Orleans and have no idea about the idiots who live there or what their lives are –or were– like.

    I didn’t blame dubya, I just said his decimation of the Army Corps’ budget made things worse than they had to be. However, as this disaster continues to unfold it is becoming more and more clear the Conncecticut Cowboy is once again lost inside a debacle over which he has no control, the way out of which he has no clue how to lead anyone.

  5. Bubbles - September 4, 2005 @ 12:30 am

    Brought forth a tear at the end: http://nytimes.com/2005/09/04/opinion/04rice.html

    Quote of the day goes to Frank Rich “The world is more perilous than ever, and for now, to paraphrase Mr. Rumsfeld, we have no choice but to fight the war with the president we have.”

    Woe is we.

  6. Bubbles - September 4, 2005 @ 1:01 am

    I need to add one more point. Surely hurricanes are natural disasters. Yet, it is absolutely and indisputably true that they are made more severe by warm water. Even the untrained need look no further than the time of year in which they occur and how they accelerate over warm bodies of water. Add to that the absolute and indisputably measurable fact that the Gulf of Mexico’s temperature is rising. So Michael come on tell us how Dubya’s obfuscation and denial of global warming is defensible in the context or the increased frequency and ferocity of these storms in any way shape or form? In the end even political truth must be made true. Thus, neither publicity stunts nor repetitions of carefully crafted message can compete with the truth that the Earth exhorts upon its inhabitants. Nature makes us all small even the rich and powerful.

  7. Michael Herdegen - September 5, 2005 @ 7:20 am

    lonbud:

    I feel pity for those who suffer.

    I don’t have much sympathy for those who “ask for it”.

    If you drive at excessive speeds without wearing a seatbelt, it’s a shame when you die, but predictable and avoidable, and I shed no tears.

    Bubbles:

    You may want to read up on global warming.

    It’s neither cut and dried that what we’re seeing is a long term trend, nor that, if it is, humans are responsible. Shame on you for holding strong opinions on subjects that you know nothing about.

  8. meredith - September 5, 2005 @ 2:00 pm

    there are several inconsistencies in the ongoing Michael Bubbles debate… but mostly I like noting that, 1. The current administation need not take the blame alone for the lack of preparedness, they can share it with their Republican predecessors. for all but 8 of the 25 years that a threat of hurricane has lingered over NewOrleans’ head, republicans have tought fit to look away, and one democrat with 8 years in office acted responsibly with what all our grandmothers would proclaim An ounce of prevention. without it we are surely having to corral a whole lot of cure.

    and 2. If the “American way of life”, is all that it takes to ward off the Tsunami like disasters via our technological alert systems and applied sciences of the like, as Michael suggests, then where exactly does New Orleans fit into the picture? Louisiana was in fact purchased for a song by the U.S. quite a long time ago.

    What I fear is that the argument is not full of wholes at all, but that the “American way of life” is in fact only a guarantee of total security from all dangers, natural and otherwise, to those with yachts big enough to ride out the waves, that their global warming, and world wide exploitation wrought. And those up there proclaiming the spread of this “way of life” know this fully well. That’s what I fear. And almighty god, unfortunately missed in his strike against evil in our time. just kidding. I think we ought to steer away from bible metaphors for the time being.

    good read. thank you. did you all see the current tv website footage. it’s good. love to the remaining. and power to the peaceful

  9. lonbud - September 5, 2005 @ 4:13 pm

    well, that reckless driver metaphor can’t be argued with, michael.

    though there was a time, back before the automakers finally buckled (so to speak) to political pressure and deigned to provide seatbelts, when plenty of the people who died in auto accidents weren’t necessarily asking for it. up until that time, the automakers had made billions of dollars of profit marketing an inherently dangerous product they could have easily produced to be less so.

    only because ralph nader utilized the citizens’ judicial redress for grievances did the fundamental balance of power change. the automakers would have never done it on their own, and the people who were maimed or killed driving around in vehicles more-dangerous-than-they-had-to-be would have continued to be blamed for their own bad fortune.

    it turns out that particular tool in the average american’s constitutional tool kit is fast disappearing, but that’s a discussion for an upcoming thread on chief justice roberts.

    meanwhile, there’s the question of whether the victims of hurricane katrina and a thoroughly incompetent federal emergency management administration were in fact asking for it.

    true, many of the most prudent and (not coincidentally) well-to-do, those with transportation, access to tv and the internet, to credit lines and inland relatives, got out in time to avoid the stink and rot that began to fester by midday on tuesday. but even they are victims of what the storm left behind, victims of dubya’s utter indifference and incompetence.

    even those who evacuated have been irreparably harmed by the untimely cuts to the NOLA District Army Corps’ budget and, as meredith noted above, years of Republican-managaed inattention to the possibilities of disaster from a strong hurricane in or near new orleans.

    even the wealthy survivors are victims of FEMA head michael brown’s glaring lack of qualifications for his job, victims of dubya’s loyalty to his friends and fundraisers over his duty to serve the interests of ALL americans.

    and those who stayed behind, were they all really asking for it? where was the coordinated evacuation plan and effort they would have had to turn down for that to be the case? how are you going to actually evacuate over half a million people in the 12 to 24 hour peiod of time the people of new orleans could reasonably have had to get out of the way?

    i don’t doubt that america is capable of coming up with a mechanism to manage such a feat, but the fact is, there was no plan. just like there was no plan for securing our victory in iraq, just as there has never been a plan for anything george w. bush has ever done in his entire life.

    so, you can withold your pity and your compassion for the idiots who live down new orleans way if you like, michael, but i’d say what we have witnessed this past week is grave cause for concern, and compassion, and pity for every single one of us, for we are all victims of our assclown, jerk of a president and his army of fundraisers and crony capitalists.

    there is officially no one minding the store, and we are just one more natural disaster or terror-induced one away from showing the entire world just exactly how rotten and weak this country is at its divided core. i wonder who’ll be asking for it next?

  10. Bubbles - September 5, 2005 @ 10:52 pm

    Umm… rather presumptive aren’t you Michael? Turn’s out I do know somthing on the subject. Yet you, with a wave of the keyboard make it sound like there is no scientific literature supporting global warming or man’s role. I don’t deny that there is also work that has cast doubt but clearly the preponderance of evidence is far and away supportive.

    One of the better current articles I‚Äôve read that responsibly explains the science that‚Äôs been used both for and against can be found in the cover story of the March 2005 issue of Scientific American. The essence of the article is that following the 22,000 year cycles (precession of equinoxes due to wobble of Earth’s axis) we would be moving into another ‚ÄòIce Age‚Äô but for the impact of mankind‚Äôs deforestation and pumping of carbon into the atmosphere for the last few 1000 years (and especially the last 200) –temperatures are rapidly rising. Thus the impact is so great we‚Äôre witnessing it in spite of the fact that the earth would otherwise be cooling.

    Perhaps you‚Äôre the one who ought to have a read, or do you get most of your disinformation from the Karl Rove, Fox News AM Radio ‘Infotainment Military Industrial Complex’? Please Sir, cut the pat rhetoric and attempts to bolster your credibility by casting doubt on others, and begin quoting something real and verifiable.

  11. Jon Heller - September 6, 2005 @ 7:53 pm

    “The current administation need not take the blame alone for the lack of preparedness, they can share it with their Republican predecessors. for all but 8 of the 25 years that a threat of hurricane has lingered over NewOrleans‚Äô head, republicans have tought fit to look away, and one democrat with 8 years in office acted responsibly with what all our grandmothers would proclaim An ounce of prevention. without it we are surely having to corral a whole lot of cure.”

    THANK YOU MEREDITH. I BELIEVE LONBUD AND I WERE AROUT 20 – BUT VERY LEGAL – IN NEW ORLEANS WHEN THE UNEQUIVOCALLY BRILLIANT REAGAN ADMINSTRATION MASTERED IGNORANCE, MOST RELATIVE TO…THE ARMY CORP. OF ENGINEERS.

    SOMETHING MORE BASIC. IN LOOKING AT SOCIO-PSYCHOLOGICAL ISSUES, HERE’S WHAT’S VERY INCONCEIVABLE…AT LEAST TO ME…HOW DO A HALF MILLION PEOPLE LEAVE A DESTROYED LIFE IN NEW ORLEANS – PARTICULARLY NATIVE NEW ORLEANIANS – GO OFF SOMEWHERE DISTANT, WORK HARDER THAN IS EVER IMAGINABLE AT JUST REASSIMILATING THEMSELVES INTO SOCIETY AND A NEW LIFE ELSEWHERE, AND THEN MIGRATE BACK TO A REBUILT NEW ORLEANS MANY YEARS FROM NOW? IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE? I’M ALL FOR IT, BUT I TEND TO DAYDREAM A LOT. I WILL SAY RFK DREAMED A LOT TOO.

    SOMETHING EVEN MORE BASIC. WHAT ABOUT REVIVING AND SLIGHTLY MODIFYING THE OLD WORKER’S PROGRESS ADMINISTRATION WITH A COMMON, UNIFIED GOAL OF COMPLETELY REBUILDING THE ENTIRE NEW ORLEANS/GULF COAST AREAS, IF IT’S EVEN POSSIBLE. WITH THE HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS BEING SQUANDERED IN IRAQ, THIS IS A NO-BRAINER TO PROTECT AND INSURE THE LIVES OF THOSE TAX-PAYING AMERICANS LIVING DOMESTICALLY.

    SORRY FOR ALL THE CAPS BUT I FEEL LIKE A BIG MAN TONIGHT.

  12. C Milam - September 6, 2005 @ 10:00 pm

    I have been a distant spectator of Lonbud’s blog for a few years. It’s always entertaining and always extemely well written. I usually disagree with the jist of the postings but it is always put forward in an agreeable fashion……

    As one of the young patrons of all that New Orleans has to offer, the place did leave a mark on your soul and your heart. It was tough to watch as the floodwaters rose in put so many people in peril. The places we loved were decimated but we all watched in horror as the water continued to rise and you knew that people were suffering and dying. It was a totally helpless feeling that turned into total revulsion when the looting started. People shooting at the rescuers? I’m sorry I can’t find any compassion or explanation for such an act.

    As to who to blame for this total debacle? Government and beauracracy.

    Start from the bottom and work your way up.

    Needless to say there is a lot of blame to go around and unfortunately people couldn’t even wait until the waters had crested before they started laying blame. That is reprehensible, from either side of the political aisle. Spend some energy trying to help, unfortunately the partisans couldn’t help themselves.

    At this point I do have to respond to some of the postings that suggest that the problem lies in the fact that Republicans have been in the white house in 17 of the last 25 years. If you feel that is a good argument, why not apply the same standard to New Orleans and Louisianna. The state and local governments by almost all accounts are the most corrupt in the nation and have been run by the local democratic machines for all but 8 years since the civil war………

    It’s also a bit ironic that Bush had to call Govenor Blanco on the Saturday before the storm to insist that a mandatory evacuation be implemented. She then had to call Nagin at home and push him into action. Amazingly they issued the order 14 hours before the storm hit….

    Also don’t you find it a bit odd that suggest people evacuate to the Superdome, then you make sure that there is no water, no food and no security.

    The photos of all of the school buses lined up in neat rows covered with water is another point that needs addressing. Why didn’t they use these buses to evacuate those without means to leave the city…..SO much for compassion for the poor……

    Also Nagin was just quoted as saying that Blanco was offered Federal Military Assistance and had to wait 24 hours to give a response. She said that the offer was “extremely complex and she needed time to go over the offer”!!!!!!Then she said no!!. Again I have no comprehension of what she could have been thinking…..

    At any rate the house of cards had already fallen before the Fed’s even had a chance to screw up….Again there is more blame to go around but everyone on the hard left has already used up half the oxygen on the planet spouting the failings of the Bush administration.

    I was also struck by the people in the Quarter partying after the storm on Monday Night. I can say that if it were 26 years earlier we probably would have been some of those guys drinking warm beer and walking home at 5 in the morning.

    A’dios

  13. Michael Herdegen - September 7, 2005 @ 11:53 pm

    lonbud:

    American & foreign automakers offered seatbelts as an OPTION long before they were mandated, but few buyers were willing to pony up the extra $ 80. (~$ 600 in today’s dollars).
    All Congress did was force CONSUMERS to BUY seatbelts, not force automakers to start installing them, as they were already doing so, pace your assertation that they would not do so sans public pressure.

    Access to a TV or the internet was necessary to know about Katrina’s approach ?

    Please.
    There were no radio broadcasts, no newspaper articles, no talk among neighbors or friends ?

    One would have had to be a hermit to NOT know that Katrina might be coming.

    Access to transportation makes one “well-to-do” ?
    Not in America, where even our “poverty stricken” citizens often own their own vehicles.

    In any case, anyone with a higher socioeconomic status than a homeless person could have prepared for Katrina: A couple of gallon jugs of water, a few candles, a lighter, a few loaves of bread, and perhaps some cold cuts wouldn’t have cost more than $ 20 – and yet few of those who stayed behind took those rather elementry precautions.

    THAT is what I mean by “asking for it”.
    By neither evacuating nor stocking up on the essentials of life, they left their continued well-being totally up to fate.

    [W]e are just one more natural disaster or terror-induced one away from showing the entire world just exactly how rotten and weak this country is at its divided core.

    Yeah, that’s what America’s enemies have always thought, that the U.S. is like a dead tree, and only needs a bit of a push to topple.

    However, with the exception of the Civil War period, the U.S. has NEVER been very rotten, weak, or divided, as the French, British, Spanish, Mexicans, Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, and Koreans found out to their detriment, as well as Saddam Hussein, the Taliban, and al Qaeda.

    The idea that America is weak, rotten, and divided is more of an article of faith, rather than a sober analysis, and is common among those who don’t understand that mature and prosperous democracies can afford to have shallow fads and political tempests play out over a core of strength and ability.

    Bubbles:

    Please Sir, cut the pat rhetoric and attempts to bolster your credibility by casting doubt on others, and begin quoting something real and verifiable.

    Will you accept YOURSELF as credible and verifiable ?
    As you say:

    I don’t deny that there is also work that has cast doubt [on global warming or man’s role in it].

    You WANT to believe, and therefore you DO believe, although as you point out, the Earth may well be entering a new Ice Age, rendering any current global warming moot.

    Jon Heller:

    No, many of those who have left New Orleans are never going to come back.
    If New Orleans ever again becomes a large city, (and it should not), most of the residents will be newcomers.

  14. lonbud - September 8, 2005 @ 12:45 am

    michael: you reflect a reality portrayed on TV. you also have a severely deficient awareness of the character of the average american. perhaps where you live everyone is prudent and thrifty, foresighted, and true –my experience differs.

    but then, i’m no demi-god.

  15. Michael Herdegen - September 8, 2005 @ 12:59 am

    Well said.

    Except that I believe that it applies to you, rather than me, that YOU are analyzing America by what you see on TV, and are also severely misjudging the character of the average American.

    We could just leave it up to time to see who has best captured the essence of America, but I prefer to point out that all of recorded American history supports my position, and thus for you to be correct would require Americans to have somehow become quite different from anything they’ve been in the past.

    That there are evil people who are Americans does not imply that ALL Americans are shallow and venal.

  16. Michael Herdegen - September 8, 2005 @ 1:16 am

    Also, a few weeks ago you had this to say about me:

    “[I]t’s amazing to me how obtuse some of you cats can be… one of the sharpest tools in your tool belt not only explains in clear language the basics of supply and demand, but also cites authoritative references and you refuse to give him his due…

    Posted by: lonbud at August 18

    But now I’m an idiot ?

  17. lonbud - September 8, 2005 @ 1:30 am

    i missed the part where i called you an idiot.

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