Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Blame Game Poll

Wow, CNN must have polled outside of the DNC to get these results!!!

CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of 609 adults taken September 5-6 shows: Blame Game -- 13% said George W. Bush is "most responsible for the problems in New Orleans after the hurricane"; 18% said "federal agencies"; 25% said "state and local officials"; 38% said "no one is to blame"; 6% had no opinion. -- 29% said that "top officials in the federal agencies responsible for handling emergencies should be fired"; 63% said they should not; 8% had no opinion. Government Performance -- 10% said George W. Bush has done a "great" job in "responding to the hurricane and subsequent flooding"; 25% said "good"; 21% said "neither good nor bad"; 18% said "bad"; 24% said "terrible"; 2% had no opinion. -- 8% said federal government agencies responsible for handling emergencies have done a "great" job in "responding to the hurricane and subsequent flooding"; 27% said "good"; 20% said "neither good nor bad"; 20% said "bad"; 22% said "terrible"; 3% had no opinion. -- 7% said state and local officials in Louisiana have done a "great" job in "responding to the hurricane and subsequent flooding"; 30% said "good"; 23% said "neither good nor bad"; 20% said "bad"; 15% said "terrible"; 5% had no opinion.


At 9/09/2005 09:53:00 AM, Anonymous Dick Smith said...


You really ought to use the most recent poll resuts. "A Pew Research Center poll found 67 percent of Americans believed Bush could have done more to speed up relief efforts, and just 28 percent believed he did all he could. His approval rating slipped to 40 percent, down four points since July to the lowest point Pew has recorded."

But polls aside (because this administration never governed based on polls) consider the following letter from someone who, thankfully, isn't very pleased with our so-called "conservative" government:

Dear President Bush:

I want to share a little history with you.

On May 7, 1940, Leo Amery, a longtime personal friend and political ally to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, rocked the British Parliament by delivering a devastating attack against Chamberlain's conduct of the war. In concluding the speech, which became one of the major factors leading to Chamberlain's resignation and Winston Churchill's rise to PM, Amery famously repeated Oliver Cromwell's words chastising the Long Parliament:

"You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go."

It's sort of funny, don't you think, Mr. President, how words first spoken over 350 years ago can continue to have relevance today?

* * *

Where were you, Mr. President?

Americans were dying by the thousands, with thousands of others hanging on by a thread. These were people who desperately needed help, not in five, six or seven days, but right then. You had to know this was going on; everyone in the world with a television set knew. And all across the country, probably all across the world, people were screaming at their televisions, "Help them! For the love of God, someone help those people!"

But as hour after hour became day after day nothing happened. And so we watched them suffer and we watched them die -- old women and new born baby boys, toddlers and retirees, native-born Americans and immigrants chasing a better life, black people and to a much lesser degree white people. All joined together in the sweep of history; all betrayed.

We watched them perched on top of roofs, hanging out of attics and swimming in the unimaginable filth of the flood water. This was death and human misery 21st century style, live and on the air.

"Where are the helicopters? Where are the boats?" we cried out as one. And still, nothing.

Where were you, Mr. President?

Where the fuck were you?

Where, for that matter, was the whole federal government during those critical first 48-to-72 hours?

The American people, the folks you supposedly work for, did our part: We always do in times of disaster. We gave and we gave and we gave. We're still giving. But one thing we couldn't do, as much as many of us wanted to, was to take charge of the situation and make sure that the job on the ground got done. That was your job.

And you went AWOL: Clearing brush on your ranch, playing the guitar with a country music singer in California and cutting cake with John McCain in Arizona. And it wasn't just you personally: It was the entire upper level of your administration: There was Dick Cheney, well positioned at his vacation home, ready, I suppose, to respond at a moment's notice in case the hurricane struck Wyoming, and Condoleezza Rice personally inspecting the nation's shoe supply, making certain rescue efforts wouldn't be impeded by a shortage of $700 pumps.

In the name of simple decency, Mr. President, if you didn't want to lead this nation through desperate times, then why did you work so hard to get and keep the job?

This is, after all, a big part of what we have a president for: Someone to lead us when things get rough -- someone ready, able and willing to move heaven, earth and even hell itself, if need be, to keep us safe.

But the people of the Gulf Coast didn't get that sort of president when they needed one. They got one who thought tax cuts for the wealthy were more important than maintaining the levee system protecting New Orleans; one who thought that leaving wetlands unmolested to protect the city from storm surges was less important than maximizing the profits of developers; and one who, judging by his actions, thought that winging it was a perfectly appropriate way to "prepare" for an impending natural catastrophe.

And, please, Mr. President, stop insulting our intelligence with all this crap about the federal government's failures being somehow caused by delays in obtaining approval from the locals. Even aside from the dubious nature of your factual assertions, are you seriously trying to tell us that while untold numbers of Americans were dying right in front of your eyes you were just standing there whistling Dixie because you didn't have the right piece of paper in your hand?

Shit, you sure picked one hell of a time to become fastidious about legal niceties. You are, after all, the same president who seemed to have no problem at all with pitching the rule of law right out the window when it came time to authorize things like "stress and duress" (torture-lite) interrogation practices, the holding of American citizens without charge or access to a lawyer, repeatedly denying public access to governmental records clearly subject to disclosure under controlling law and habitually refusing to enforce the clear intent of environmental and worker protection legislation when doing so advanced the interests of your wealthy campaign contributors.

And now you want us to believe that you just couldn't bring yourself to take an "act now and ask for forgiveness later" approach to saving the City of New Orleans?


Besides, if you really were having such an awful time in obtaining local cooperation, why didn't you raise hell about it? Why not go on television to let the people of Louisiana know the way their leaders are betraying them while there is still time to do something about it? You certainly are showing no hesitation about attacking the political leadership of Louisiana today, now that it's in your political interests to do so: So why the strange silence back when it could have made all the difference?

Oh, and by the way, the early federal response to Katrina didn't just suck in Louisiana; it was pathetic in Mississippi and Alabama as well. Yet, for some strange reason, it's only Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco who's being attacked as an excuse for federal inaction, not Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour or Alabama Governor Bob Riley.

Surely this couldn't be because Blanco is a Democrat, while Barbour and Riley are Republicans.

But regardless, given that you're not blaming the local governments in Mississippi and Alabama, Mr. President, may we safely assume that you're willing to accept personal responsibility for the slow response in at least those states?

Just asking.

Here, I think, is the bottom line, Mr. President: Responding to Katrina just didn't interest you much. So you punted it to underlings. Unfortunately for the Gulf Coast, those underlings didn't begin to have the qualifications needed for the job. As the website Think Progress recently reported, Director Mike Brown isn't the only politico with no experience in emergency management who you pawned off on FEMA: Brown's two principal aides, Chief of Staff, Patrick Rhode (whose major qualification for the job was acting as an advance man for the Bush campaign), and Deputy Chief of Staff, Scott Morris (who worked for the company that produced Bush's campaign commercials), are, if anything, even less qualified.

I mean, Jesus, what kind of a moron regards an agency that constitutes the nation's primary line of defense against natural disasters as just one more opportunity for political payoffs?

So is it really such a big surprise that these bozos screwed up FEMA?

And that FEMA then screwed up the response to Katrina?

But even then, Mr. President, even with all hell breaking loose, you still didn't trouble your beautiful mind to become personally involved in the crisis until political circumstances demanded it.

Paul Krugman got it about right in his September 2, 1995 column, A Can't-Do Government. Here's part of what he said, "At a fundamental level, I'd argue, our current leaders just aren't serious about some of the essential functions of government."

Bingo. At the end of the day, President Bush, you run an administration that has very little interest in the actual art of governance, except, of course, where your pet projects are concerned.

If the subject is a punitive one -- waging war, imposing the death penalty, locking people up and throwing away the key -- or involves padding the pockets of your wealthy sponsors -- tax cuts, corporate giveaways, unlimited oil exploration -- or concerns furthering the agenda of the Religious Right -- banning all abortions, restricting birth control and sex education, demonizing gays and lesbians -- you guys are always Johnny-on-the-spot.

But when it comes to the part of governing that involves protecting the health and welfare of average and poor Americans, you just yawn.

You didn't betray New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast out of malice.

You just didn't give a shit.

* * *

You're a fair minded man, Mr. Bush -- well, we'll pretend anyway. So let me ask you: How much more do you think we should have to suffer? How many more unnecessary deaths? How many blunders? How many lies?

Wasn't the morass in Iraq enough?

And all of the blunders leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks?

And letting Osama bin Laden escape at Tora Bora?

And burying America in debt in order to fund your huge tax giveaways to your rich campaign contributors?

And junking scientific research through unethical political meddling and censorship?

And turning public wilderness lands into a government operated Wal-Mart Super Store for developers?

And using the national grief over Sept. 11 for political gain?

And, now, at last, we have the Coup de Grâce, the betrayal of New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast.

In all fairness, Sir, isn't that enough? May we not now fairly state what follows loud and clear to you and your whole crowd?

"You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go."

Be gone, Mr. President. In the name of God, go.


Winston, on behalf of,
The Last Chance Democracy Café

At 9/11/2005 01:15:00 AM, Blogger criticallythinking said...

The dick smith post is representative of what made bacon's rebellion blow up.

I've written some pretty long responses in my time, but they were always my own words.

To people like dick I say, get your own blog.

To anybody who says "use the most recent poll results", I don't know what to say. Polls are not an interchangeable commodity where each new poll is more representative of the facts than the previous poll.

Rasmussen is a more recent poll than Pew, but it should be listened to NOT because of its timeliness but because it happens to have been more accurate than Pew. Rasmussen has Bush's approval at 48%.

Now, I think that political polling in the middle of a crisis is both useless AND remarkably unhelpful.

You do actually have republicans and democrats chosing up sides for hurricane relief because of the partisan politics the democrats injected into this disaster.

One democrat on Democrat Underground confessed to leaving a black woman and her small child stranded on a road because she had a bush bumper sticker on her car.

Republicans refuse to call into the ABC fundraiser because one of the entertainers who is supposed to be encouraging relief funds instead choses to insult the president.

With Ted Kennedy on the floor of the senate decrying how millions of people were effected by Katrina "even though" we have a homeland security department that is supposed to protect us, what more is there to say about partisan politics?

I'd like to know the 33% who think Bush couldn't have possibly done any better. In hindsight we all can do better.

The question is should we have EXPECTED better, and the answer to that question on the federal level is no. We certainly WANT to expect better, but given FEMA already dealing with Katrina in Florida, and now having to deal with three states, it is hard to imagine things going much better.

But they could go better, just not much better. There are places that still haven't seen relief workers, and FEMA should be coordinating better. However, there are good reasons why coordination is hard given the widespread area of damage.

Anyway, we already know that much of the reports that might cause people to answer one way or another in the polls was misleading or completely false.

And we can only hope (at least I hope that ALL of us can only hope) that the new reports of lower casualty figures hold up; if they do that will help us all recover from this tragedy.

Let me close with this: If you received a call last friday, and were asked if you were happy with the situation in this country today, could ANY of you answered "yes" knowing the suffering that was occuring at that moment?

What responsible news organization asks a question like that and then reports the results as if they mean anything more than that America is NOT divided over concern for the victims of Katrina.

At 9/11/2005 10:51:00 AM, Blogger Mitch Cumstein said...


Why should Dick get his own blog? The whole reason for blogs of this type are to share ideas. While I might night agree with all of his points and opinions, I likely don't agree with many of yours either. But that isn't required, nor is it even a good thing. I encourage everyone, regardless of beliefs and political affiliation, to be part of the discussion. Asking only those who agree with you to join the argument lends itself to a very narrow, closed-minded point of view. And we have enough ogfthat in both parties to go around.

By the way, this "Dick Smith" sounds liberal enough to be my father.

At 9/11/2005 06:15:00 PM, Anonymous Dick Smith said...

To criticallythinking -- OK, here it is my own words:

Bush is our CEO (even those of us who were for anybody but Bush.) CEOs who consistently hire screw-ups and don't have a clue about what's going on get fired. Republicans ought to know this (and I think most, in their hearts do.) New Orleans' Mayor (a former Republican) was in over his head and the Governor didn't know she had to be so specific when she requested federal help on Friday (a full week before Bush showed-up.) But disaster plans presume that locals might be overwhelmed and therefore insist on early federal management. Anyone who had an ounce of competence would have been in there with everything before Katrina hit. (like they did in pre-election Florida last year.)

That's why we have a federal government: to do for the states what they can't do for themselves. Even if you, like Saint Grover, want to shrink government to the point where you can drown it in a bathtub, you should still not allow that drowning to include human beings.

I blame Bush for the tone he personally set and for appointing political hacks to positions that matter in peoples' lives. It's onr thing to appoint big campaign contributors to ambassadorships in unimportant places; it's altogether different to give them operational control over the most important line of defense against disasters. That isn't partisan; that's realistic, practical, and (pardon my use of your stolen term) conservative.

Bush (IMHO) will do more for liberals than any candidate we could ever field because he is living proof that the once justifiably proud Republican Party has been hijacked by incompetent oligarchists. There aren't any conservatives in positions of power anymore, just greedy, antisocial pawns of the religious right and multinational (and not particularly pro-American) corporations. It's not wise to wake a sleeping giant and the people (even the mainstream, corporate-owned but so-called liberal media) are awakening.

The AP-Ipsos poll shows Bush at 39% approval. Zogby has him at 41%. Newsweek - 38%. Time and CBS - 42% Pew - 40% Rasmussen is a Republican.

As Katrina demonstrated, water finds its natural level and I believe Bush is finding his. After years of stumbling only to be propped back up by his highly effective spinners, Bush will start to pay a price and, with him, some almost innocent Republican bystanders. I say almost innocent because (again IMHO) anyone who enables people like Bush and Delay and Rove can't be blameless.

Now for my liberal bias. I hope Fitzgerald's grand jury is a PO'd as I am by Bush's callous indifference and the (criminal?) neglect of his minions and indicts an extra 10 or 20 deserving administration officials in the Plame-outing case. Perjury, violations of the espionage act, you name it. And I hope to TIVO every single perp walk.

Dick Smith (indeed liberal enouh to be Mitch's father...)

At 9/11/2005 11:44:00 PM, Blogger criticallythinking said...

Mitch, the context of my comment was that huge dumps of non-original data in comments is what upset Bacon's Rebellion, and in fact is making it hard to participate in blogs.

The same information appears again and again, spam-like, in comments on multiple threads, making it difficult to wade through the comments to find original thoughts to discuss.

If I had a large, tangential comment to make about something, I'd include a link to my blog where I posted it.

I hope this clarifies why I said dick should get his own blog. Of course, that is just my opinion, since I have nothing to do with THIS blog's operation.

And Mitch, not to pick a fight, but I dare you to find a single word in my comment that suggests I called dick on his post because of WHAT he said. Tell me to butt out because it isn't my blog. Tell me you don't care how long comments are. Tell me whatever you want to tell me.

But don't accuse me of trying to argue that only people who have one point of view should be commenting. Because that is the polar oppositive of what I think, and is an idea that I have never expressed, in my previous comment here or in any other comments I have made on this site or any other so far as I can recollect.

I love arguing with people who disagree with me.

At 9/12/2005 12:12:00 AM, Blogger criticallythinking said...


Maybe republicans are better at running reliable polls than democrats. In any case, your dismissal of the Rasmussen poll with an ad-hominen attack is irrational, unless you have evidence that Rasmussen specifically cheated on his poll to get the results he wanted.

The problem with natural disasters is that, no matter how early you know they are going to happen, you can't actually start recovery efforts until AFTER the disaster. The idea of having the federal government administering relief before the storm hit probably isn't even what you meant by your comment.

You do have a common thread though -- Naggin, former republican, bad. Blanco, democrat, misunderstood. Bush, republican, bad.

And I'm not sure what kind of country you want to live in (other than one not run by Bush) but to suggest that a prosecuter should get a grand jury to bring indictments against people simply because he is mad about how a relief effort went, well, that just doesn't sound like how our criminal justice system is supposed to work. Maybe you didn't mean to say that either.

I may write more about this later, but disaster plans exist because in a crisis nobody can think clearly, and the plan compensates for that unfortunate fact of human nature.

If you have an emergency plan that you have to throw out in an emergency, you screwed up. Certainly where you work they have an emergency evacuation plan for fires, and certainly when the fire bell goes off you don't all have a meeting to decide if the plan is really the best thing for this particular fire drill?

FEMA was in place as best it could be before the hurricane. There are limits to what you can put in place ahead of time since the storm is hitting the places closest to where you will need help. And nothing would suck quite as much as pre-positioning vast quantities of emergency equipment and people, only to have the storm take a sudden turn and hit your force head-on, rendering them less than useless as you now have to rescue them.

Forget politics for a minute, and try to remember what you were thinking during the hurricane. I remember thinking that New Orleans must have walls around their pumps, must know how to handle water, how to handle evacuations. I presumed they had supplies in their shelters, and a way to get people out.

I was shocked to find out how many presumptions I made were wrong. I was shocked that they had no plan to get more supplies to the shelters (not as shocked as when I found that it was a deliberate decision by the governor to prevent all aid from being delivered to the superdome and convention center, in the hopes that lack of supplies would convince people to leave and not come anymore).

Brown was not a "big campaign contributer". A couple of $500 donations. He was a friend of he first Bush FEMA appointee, and so he was made deputy. I know it's easier just to claim that every republican is a huge campaign contributer, but the Wilson's gave twice as much money to Gore as Brown gave to Bush.

Last thing -- The democrats were in charge of the Senate in 2002, when Brown was confirmed. The Democrats have proven that they have NO PROBLEM with doing their duty regarding confirmations, have no compunction to rubber stamp. They have in fact promised the american people that they will dutifully, consciensiosly, fully evaluate all bush appointees, and will stop any that aren't highly qualified.

So if Brown was so obviously unqualfied in 2002, why did the Democrat Controlled Senate confirm him on a voice vote?

Bush is responsible for his nominees. My point is that either it wasn't as obvious that he was a bad choice when all but one democrat voted to confirm him, or the democrats in 2002 didn't take their job seriously.

Everybody can identify a non-performer after the fact. Of course, somehow we went through the worst set of hurricanes in florida history last year, and it wasn't clear to anybody that Brown was incapable of running FEMA then.

An odd person this Brown, able to get virtually every democrat to agree to his qualifications, able to survive a horrendous hurricane season, able to make it halfway through THIS hurricane season.

But when the worst disaster in our history hits, wiping out every expected support from our response, and it takes THE SAME TIME to respond as it did for Andrew, suddenly the democrats are all talking about how obvious it was to them forever how bad a choice he was, and how incompetent Bush must have been to ever think Brown could handle the job.

At 9/12/2005 05:50:00 AM, Blogger Mitch Cumstein said...


Point taken. Bad assumption on my part.


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