Tuesday, September 27, 2005

6 Billion bullets: US forces fire 250,000 Bullets per Dead enemy

Yes you read that Right, and No,  it's neither a typo nor a joke. The Number comes from an Independent UK Story

US forces have fired so many bullets in Iraq and Afghanistan - an estimated 250,000 for every insurgent killed - that American ammunition-makers cannot keep up with demand. As a result the US is having to import supplies from Israel.{which will be totally non-controversial in the Arab World, and not at all supporting their theories that we invaded Iraq to help Israel, I'm Sure}


And if that number beggars common sense and seems completely improbable; try this one on for size:

A government report says that US forces are now using 1.8 billion rounds of small-arms ammunition a year. The total has more than doubled in five years, largely as a result of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as changes in military doctrine.....US forces [have]expended around six billion bullets between 2002 and 2005

We're popping  so many caps it seems, That even the Gun loving good ol' USA can't make enough

three government-owned, contractor-operated plants that produce small- and medium-calibre ammunition.... Though millions of dollars have been spent on upgrading the facilities, they remain unable to meet current munitions needs in their current state. "

..."Also, commercial producers within the national technology and industrial base have not had the capacity to meet these requirements. As a result, the Department of Defense had to rely at least in part on foreign commercial producers to meet its small-calibre ammunition needs."

Now to be fair the 250,000 rounds per insurgent thing is a bit of a gimmick derived from dividing the the total number of insurgents the US has claimed to kill (20,000) by the number of rounds expended by the entirre us armed forces this year.   And as the military points out this includes those used in training  

However, as John Pike, director of the Washington military research group GlobalSecurity.org, (who derived the 250,000 number notes:

Pointing out that officials say many of these bullets have been used for training purposes, he said: "What are you training for? To kill insurgents."

But this number is just a sideshow to the  larger point, which  is staggering if you stop to ponder it for a minute:

We've fired 6,000,000,000 bullets during this war!!  each and every one of which is capable of taking a life, of richoeting and hitting an unintended target, of catching an innocent person in the cross fire, of killing a fellow soldier by friendly fire.  6 BILLION bullets.  That's roughly one bullet for every single person on earth.

It's so many, even the disposal of the toxic lead left behind becomes a non-trivial issue.  If I recall correctly a Military issue .223 Cal M-16 bullet is about 100 Grains.  Multiply 100 *6,000,000,000  and convert at the ratio of  (1 grains = 0.00228571429 ounces)   and you get:

60,000,000 POUNDS of lead or 30,000 TONS of lead fired in the form of bullets at our enemies.

{thanks to a Commentator who corrected my math on this)

Is there any better symbol of the Staggering cost and futility of this war than 6 BILLION empty shell casings? It puts all the larger questions of the war into a digestible nutshell.  How many Bullets will be enough?  When will we have shot our guns enough to "win" the war;  and what is the final tab in lives and dollars going to be at the end of the day?

And all we know now is that we've fired 6  billion bullets and we haven't come anywhere close to hitting the target.

Friday, September 23, 2005

When Cronyism Kills!: FEMA Subcontracted out NO evacuation to incompetent Bush-backer

Chalk a few hundred more bodies onto the count of what Grover Norquist and his "privatization at all costs" ideology has cost this country

Today's Today's Chicago Tribune tells the story of Thousands of Motorcoaches Offered to FEMA The day after Katrina hit NO.  Unfortunately,  FEMA didn't return their phone calls :

Peter Pantuso of the American Bus Association said he spent much of the day on Wednesday, Aug. 31, trying to find someone at the Federal Emergency Management Agency who could tell him how many buses were needed for an evacuation, where they should be sent and who was overseeing the effort.

"We never talked directly to FEMA or got a call back from them," Pantuso said.

But as bad as that is the WHY of it is far, far,  worse:

Pantuso, eventually learned that the job of extracting tens of thousands of residents from flooded New Orleans wasn't being handled by FEMA at all.

Instead the agency had farmed the work out to a trucking logistics firm, Landstar Express America, which in turn hired a limousine company, which in turn engaged a travel management company.

Mad yet?  You will be:


 This story follows a depressingly familiar script:

1)A vital government service is taken away from the Government employees who have handled it competently and efficiently for years and farmed out to a barely qualified, but politically well connected  private company with for a huge sum of money:

Landstar, {a} Jacksonville company ... held a federal contract that at the time was worth up to $100 million annually for disaster transportation

and Landstar was Well Connected:

Landstar Express is a subsidiary of Landstar System, a $2 billion company whose board chairman, Jeff Crowe, also was chairman of the    U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the nation's premier business lobbies, from June 2003 until May 2004.

Yes THAT US Chamber of Commerce, the one that's Spent millions creating/supporting Bushco policies

2) After taking a huge amount of government money; do nothing but count your profits. Don't worry about acutally performing on your contract until its too late:

Though it was well-known that New Orleans, much of it below sea level, would flood in a major hurricane, Landstar, ... did not ask its subcontractor, Carey Limousine, to order buses until the early hours of Aug. 30, roughly 18 hours after the storm hit,

But then,  calling Carey Limousine a "subcontractor" gives Landstar WAY too much credit, as it implies some sort of prior business arrangement.  The reality is far far worse:

[Sally Snead a senior Carey Vice president] said Landstar turned to her company for buses Sunday after learning from Carey's Internet site that it had a meetings and events division that touted its ability to move large groups of people. "They really found us on the Web site," Snead said.

THEY FOUND THEM ON THE WEB!!!!! DURING THE HURRICANE!!!!  THAT  was the extensive and thorough planning and vetting process Landstar used before deciding to award this company a "subcontract" to do this vitally important job!

Let that sink in for a good few minutes.    Deep cleansing breaths. Get that blood pressure down.  Ready? Okay:

In other words:

this Company signed a $100 Million contract to provide disaster relief services  and then did precisely, and exactly,  NOTHING to prepare to actually provide those services should they be needed.  

Even when the largest hurricane in a decade is headed straight for the most vulnerable and poorest city in America, they do NOTHING.  It's Only DURING the Hurricane on Sunday while New Orleans is being ripped apart that somebody at the company remembers "oh Yeah, I think we're supposed to do something when Hurricanes hit".  

  Then, and only then they   leap into action and apparently assign some office flunky the job of Asking Jeeves "how do I get thousands of people the hell out of Dodge during an Apocalypse?". They follow this decisve and bold actions with an extremely crack and efficient phone call to a few places to do some price shopping  before finally deciding what to do.  (It's amazing they didn't try to rent 1000 buses on Priceline first)

Give the "Subcontractor" credit, they DID try to help:

Snead said she tapped Transportation Management Services of Vienna, Va., which specializes in arranging buses for conventions and other large events, to help fill an initial order for 300 coaches.

"It's like taking your phone book and dividing it in half and saying, `You take half and I'll take half,'" Snead said.

But while they are desperately seeking a few hundred buses (and lets just acknowledge how woefully inadequate 300 buses would have been for 80,000 people);  Literally thousands of buses are ready and standing by, with drivers, waiting for  someone to tell them where to go:

Unbeknownst to them, two key players who could reach the owners of an estimated 70 percent of the nation's 35,000 charter and tour buses had contacted FEMA seeking to supply coaches to the evacuation effort.

The day the hurricane made landfall, Victor Parra, president of the United Motorcoach Association, called FEMA's Washington office "to let them know our members could help out."

and Fema's lightning fast and oh-so-brilliant response?:

Parra said FEMA responded the next day, referring him to an agency Web page labeled "Doing Business with FEMA" but containing no information on the hurricane relief effort.

So let's review one last time:  Flood waters rising, 10's of thousand of trapped an desperate people Stuck in New Orleans.  

FEMA, not only is not springing into action, they've actually subcontracted that whole rescuing people thing out.  

The Subcontractor takes the decisive actions of hiring thier own subcontractor, a Limo Company at the last minute.  They scarmble as best they can to scrounge up a few hundred buses.

Meanwhile Thousands of huge  Motor coaches are ready, willing and able to rush to the disaster site and effect a rescue, but every time they are offered, FEMA gives the caller the modern equivalent of the Voice mail.  Thanks to "privatization" nobody is able to connect the offer to the desperate need.

Back in New Orleans, dozens, perhaps even hundreds of desperate people needlessly die, hundreds more are raped and assaulted while waiting in the dark for rescue.

AND for this spectacularly incompetent performance when lives were on the line, what can we expect for Landstar? Indictments? Civil court suits?  A cancellation of all government contracts?  The CEO doing the perp walk?  

Boy you really haven't been paying attention in the last five years have you?

In a regulatory filing last week, Landstar Express said it has received government orders worth at least $125 million for Katrina-related work. ..... Landstar's regulatory filing also said that because of Hurricane Katrina, the maximum annual value of its government contract for disaster relief services has been increased to $400 million

In this story we see the basic Republican SOP in full and glorious action: larceny masquerading as ideology. Vital government Functions and trusts are treated as nothing more than fat piggy banks to be raided by corporate allies and campaign supporters.   That these jobs are important and people will die if they aren't done well, never seems to trouble either the public or private members of the Kleptocratic administration.

Its an sequence of events that we've seen repeated everywhere from Iraq (Halliburton, Custer-Battles, Blackwater etc. ad nauseam) to Kuwait, to our very own Gulf Coast.  Rarely however has it been so nakedly obvious what happened and rarely have the consequences been so utterly disastrous as they were for those tens of thousands of people trapped by Katrina, and abandoned by their own government.  If this isn't enough to wake people up to the utter ruin that Bushco has made of our once powerful country, what will be?

Bob Novak Playing enforcer for Busch Co- Again!

Some people just never learn, or they simply believe themselves to be untouchable .
Bob Novak is Exhibit A. Leaving aside the stomach-churning question of who'd want to touch Bob Novak voluntarily; its clear he believes himself above the law and any standards of journalistic decency. Rabid Rabbie clearly hasn't learned one damn thing from Plamegate (then again why should he? He hasn't done any time at the DC Hilton-at least not yet)
Bob "the Human Toad" Novak once again he uses his weekly column to play Karl Rove's legbreaker, and warn the increasingly disenchanted super-rich that used to make up W's base that they'd better get back in line or else.
The column starts deceptively. At first, it reads as though Novak is joining the growing chorus of Bush critics on the Right:

ASPEN, Colo. -- For two full days, George W. Bush was bashed. He was taken to
task on his handling of stem cell research, population control, the Iraq war
and, especially, Hurricane Katrina. The critics were no left-wing bloggers. They
were rich, mainly Republican and presumably Bush voters in the last two
presidential elections.
But then this IS Bob Novak we're talking about. And Novak isn't reporting on this bashing to make a political point about how deep the Doo-doo really is that W's in. Instead he's really expressing his sense of outrage and betrayal that is should come at an illuminati-esque private gathering of the mega-rich sponsored by a very wealthy investment banking firm:

The Bush-bashing occurred last weekend at the annual Aspen conference
sponsored by the New York investment firm Forstmann Little & Co. Over 200
invited guests, mostly prestigious, arrived Thursday night (many by private
aircraft) and stayed until Sunday morning for more than golf, hikes and gourmet

Can't you almost see them putting on funny robes and singing a rousing chorus of The StoneCutter's Song?

Now even though this event was strictly off the record, it appears that Mr. (and i use the honorific only for lack of an alternative) Novak doesn't think that all promises of confidentiality are created equal (after all THIS one doesn't help the WH so what good is it?):

All discussions are off the record," admonished the conference's printed
schedule. Consequently, I will refrain from specifically quoting panelists and
audience members. But the admonition says nothing about personal
conversations outside the sessions. Nor do I feel inhibited in quoting myself.
Even if I am violating the spirit of secrecy rules, revealing criticism of Bush
by this elite group, and the paucity of defense for him, is valuable in
reflecting the president's parlous political condition

However despite his explanation as to why he breaking the rules, as you read further, it becomes clear that Novak isn't Reporting so much as informing on his fellow participants. He is reporting their private disloyalty to his superiors and doing it in a public way so they'll know they've been ratted out.

In the classic tradition of all tattle-tales, he of course, he invents his own version of events where he is perfectly virtuous protagonist beset by evil-doers:

...the first panel, on stem cell research, consisted solely of
scientists hostile to the Bush administration's position. In the absence of any
disagreement, I took the floor to suggest there are scientists and bioethicists
with dissenting views and that it was not productive to demean opposing views as
based on "religious dogma." The response was peeved criticism of my intervention
and certainly no support....
I felt constrained to argue against
implications that Hurricane Katrina should cause the president to rediscover
race and poverty. My comments again generated more criticism from the
audience and obvious exasperation by Charlie Rose. Indeed, after the closing
dinner Saturday night, the moderator made clear he was displeased by my
{"See I stuck up for you Georgie but all them other kids said
Mean things about you, behind your back even"

And then Novak invents a conveniently anonymous silent majority who secretly agree with him but lack his manly courage to stand up and be counted:

But during a break, one of the president's closest friends -- who had
remained silent -- thanked me profusely for my comments. That set a pattern.
Throughout the next two days, men and women who were mute publicly thanked me
privately for speaking up. When I said nothing during one panel discussion, some
people asked me why I was silent

Quite the hero isn't He?

Our Man Bob wants the WH to know was fighting the good fight, while those other wishy-washy conservatives cowered in their Posh hotel rooms. But cowardly as the W supporters were; Bob wants you to know that the impudent curs, who dared Question the Great Man (by which of course Novak means Rove not W) were far more gutless when confronted with his awesomeness:

U.S. News & World Report disclosed this week, with apparent disdain,
that presidential adviser Karl Rove took time off from the Katrina relief effort to be at Aspen. He was needed as a counterweight

Because saving lives and reconstructing homes is all well and good, but confronting heresy and ideological impurity is far more important. Rove apparently agreed with that assessment (I wonder if Novak used the Bat-signal to summon him to the conference when he saw how badly it was going?0 Since he seemed to spend most of his time doing some very pointed Meme-making ; including a very nasty swipe at Cindy Sheehan-(she must be really pissing him off )

But Novak seem to want to make sure that Uncle Karl knows that even though all those other kids are acting nice now, they were being bad when he wasn't in the room.:

I settled in for serious fireworks, expecting Bush-bashers to assault his
alter ego at the conference's final session. However, direct confrontation with a senior aide must have been more difficult than a remote attack on the president.

But then Bob switches from tattletale to Scary Mode. He makes an unmistakable and very pointed threat to all the infidels at the conference:

It would be a shame if Rove returned to Washington without informing George W. Bush how erstwhile friends have turned against him.

About as subtle as a Mack Truck our Robbie Boy is, isn't he? In his eyes the WH has been the victim of an intolerable lese majesty, from the very people this WH cares most about, and he is taking it upon himself (or more likely taking orders from Uncle Karl) to warn the perpetrators that they've been noticed, named and identified, and they'd better hop quickly back in line or else
But let's never let it be said that the Douchebag of Liberty lacks a sense of humor. After all he was also able to write this in the column and not expire in a fit of evil cackling:

I do not see myself as a defender of the Bush presidency, and I am sure the White House does not regard me as such

Defender? Well perhaps not. Enforcer? Yep.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

WH DID take immediate action- but only to save the oil

I posted something about this article yesterday, ;However a very thoughtful comment to the original made me realize I'd missed a crucial and larger point hiding in this story.

 The Article comes from a small local paper called Hattiesburg American  and the facts by themselves are simple and outrageous.

Shortly after Hurricane Katrina roared through South Mississippi knocking out electricity and communication systems, the White House ordered power restored to a pipeline that sends fuel to the Northeast.

That order - to restart two power substations in Collins that serve Colonial Pipeline Co. - delayed efforts by at least 24 hours to restore power to two rural hospitals and a number of water systems in the Pine Belt.

But as bad as this story is on the surface, it gets far worse when you consider its implications.  But before I get ahead of myself, lets get the facts straight so there can be no misunderstanding:

The White House itself took direct action to get those pipelines running at any cost immediately  on the heels of the Storm; and the order came from the VERY top (higher than W even) level of the White House:

Dan Jordan, manager of Southern Pines Electric Power Association, said Vice President Dick Cheney's office called and left voice mails twice shortly after the storm struck, saying the Collins substations needed power restored immediately.


Jordan dated the first call the night of Aug. 30 and the second call the morning of Aug. 31.

Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Mike Callahan said the U.S. Department of Energy called him on Aug. 31. Callahan said department officials said opening the fuel line was a national priority.
I considered it a presidential directive to get those pipelines operating," said Jim Compton, general manager of the South Mississippi Electric Power Association ...


And those calls were empathic about the level of emergency the WH thought this represented, EVERYTHING else had to wait:

..."We were led to believe a national emergency was created when the pipelines were shut down," Compton said....

"I reluctantly agreed to pull half our transmission line crews off other projects and made getting the transmission lines to the Collins substations a priority," Compton said. ...

Compton said workers who were trying to restore substations that power two rural hospitals - worked instead on the Colonial Pipeline project.

And the, the work on the Pipelines could have created another crisis :

Callahan said the process of getting the pipelines flowing would be difficult and that there was a chance the voltage required to do so would knock out the system - including power to Wesley Medical Center in Hattiesburg. Wesley was the only hospital operating with full electric power in the Pine Belt in the days following Katrina.

"Our concern was that if Wesley went down, it would be a national crisis for Mississippi," Callahan said.

Compton, though, followed the White House's directive

And it was extremely dangerous work for the crews

Line foreman Matt Ready was in charge of one of the teams that worked to power the substations and the pipeline. .

"We had real safety issues because there were fires in the trees on the lines and broken power poles."
Everything was dangerous," he said.

Now when I diaried this yesterday, my primary emotion was outrage at what i felt were badly misplaced priorities, but then an extremely insightful comment by DKos user Viget Really focused attention on the deeper meaning of it all:

Why this (sadly) had to be done... (none / 1)

...and I'm not saying that if I were the guy in charge, that I'd necessarily make the same call, but here it is.

The mid-Atlantic states (MD,DC,VA)and the coastal southeast (NC,SC,GA,FL) don't really have any refineries, and therefore are absolutely dependent on distillates being shipped up the Colonial pipeline from refineries on the Gulf Coast and in Texas.  The weak link in the pipeline was in MS, where extensive storm damage left pumping stations without power, in essence trapping all that mogas and other distillates in the pipeline.

If Cheney didn't give the order to prioritize electrical grid repairs to the pipeline, there would have been a full-blown gasoline crisis in the Atlanta metro and DC metro areas (as it was, Atlanta area almost had one, and certainly had some crazy price-gouging going on, although I expect that was because of panic-induced buying, and the prices were being raised as a way to keep panicked buyers away and conserving what little supplies they had).

Does that justify leaving rural hospitals to rot with no power?  Not in my book, but I'm not surprised that the DC power class was primarily concerned about their own first, so there you go.

What will be interesting to see is if this move only delayed the gas crisis, as the pipeline supposedly only holds 20 days of distillates.  Since it was up and running at 100% as of Sep.3, we'll see what happens on the 23rd, when the loss of refinery capacity finally ripples in to the supply stream.

People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

That's when I really got it. Viget made a good point. There was a  valid argument to be made that getting that pipeline running averted a severe fuel shortage up and down the East Coast that could have caused  chaos, disruptions of critical supplies  and possibly violence.  Keeping the Oil flowing might have meant delaying humanitarian services, but this is arguably (giving them the  benefit of all doubts) one of those hard calls that we rely on steel-willed clear-eyed leaders to make in a time of crisis.

   Okay so far, so good.  Crisis happens, competent grown ups swing into action immediately, on Tuesday night they are already on the case, solving problems, barking orders.  Even the vacationing President  wakes from his nap long enough on the next day to Order a release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve  to stabilize refinery supplies disrupted by the storm.  

  But once the oil supply is safe, then what?  What did they do for an encore?  Did the Veep's office them get Brownie and Chertoff, and Blanco together on a Conference call and coordinate a similarly swift and decisive response to the humanitarian crisis?  Did They roll up their sleeves and start calling sherrifs, and fire chief all over the region like they called power copmany people?

Well, not exactly, or in point of fact, NO.

When you look at this Katrina Response Timeline and Compare the Swift decisive action the White House took on the oil Crisis as opposed to the humanitarian one it become devastatingly clear:

The Crisis in New Orleans was not a primarily a failure of Communication, preparation, coordination, or even resources.  It was, at it Core a failure of Will, and a failure of concern.  The things that the leaders of our government truly cared about, namely safeguarding the oil supply, were taken care of and rescued in a highly efficient manner.  The things they didn't care about, namely poor people, not so much:

1)Tuesday Night Aug 30th:

     a.    Oil Crisis: VP's Office personally

        calls  the power company to demand

        immediate action on the restoration of

        power to the pipeline, all other

         consequences be damned

      b. Human Crisis:

         i. Bush: Still on Vacation

         ii.FEMA:"Just made aware of the Levee  

            Breach", USS Bataan offshore awaiting

            orders, Pentagon says "plenty" of

            troops available

         iii.New Orleans: Desperate for Food and

             water, widespread Looting/Finding of

             supplies begins

2)Wednesday Morning August 31st:

      a. Oil Crisis:

        i. Second call from VP's Office, Follow

           up Call from the Secretary of energy.

           Power Company managers told "pipeline

           failure is a "National crisis" and

           given a "presidential directive, to

           stop work on repairing power to    

           hospitals and water systems, until the

           work is complete.  Power crews

           dispatched to work round the clock

           under extremely dangerous conditions

        ii.Bush: Orders Release of Strategic

           Petroleum reserve to ensure supply of

           oil to refineries

b Human Crisis:

     i.    Bush:  Finally back in Washington, he

        begins to organize task force.  Isn't

        available to speak with Gov. Blanco when

        she call the first time,  hours later she

        finally talks to him when she calls

        back.  Gives a speech on TV

     ii.FEMA:  Decisively orders 4000 ambulances

        to New Orleans, unfortunately, they Don't

        exist. Chertoff "extremely pleased" with

        Response, Brown "surprised" at size of


    iii. New Orleans:Food and Water gone at both

         the Superdome and convention center.

         Tens of Thousands trapped, at both

         sites surrounded by filth and receiving

         no aid.  Thousand more trapped in their

         homes by rising water, rescue efforts

         sporadic to non-existent

I could go on, but really what else is there to say?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Oh Hell Yes This W's Fault

Lets even leave aside Bush's utter lethargic response to the tragedy for now. Call me old fashioned but I really think when your sixth largest city is looking like the set of Waterworld II you really ought to take less than 3 days getting home to deal with the crisis....but that's just me.

Long before the storm Winds blew though W made a series of even worse choices that have directly led to the mess we're in right now
So lets get the record straight before the spinmiesters try to have thier way with it. Here's the case against W:

I. Under funding Flood Control Efforts in New Orleans:

Editor and Publisher found no less than 9 Time-Picayune articles talking about how BushCo funding cuts (largely for the war in Iraq ) were putting the city in danger
To Quote them:

When flooding from a massive rainstorm in May 1995 killed six people,
Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project,
or SELA.Over the next 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with
carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and building
pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid. But at least $250 million in crucial projects remained, even as hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin increased dramatically and the levees surrounding New Orleans continued to subsideYet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain.

and to get specific

    1. On June 8, 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for
      Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; told the Times-Picayune: "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us."
    2. Also that June, with the 2004 hurricane season starting, the Corps' project manager Al Naomi went before a local agency, the East Jefferson Levee Authority, and essentially begged for $2 million for urgent work that Washington was now unable to pay for. From the June 18, 2004
      Times-Picayune:"The system is in great shape, but the levees are sinking.
      Everything is sinking, and if we don't get the money fast enough to raise them,
      then we can't stay ahead of the settlement," he said. "The problem that we have isn't that the levee is low, but that the federal funds have dried up so that we can't raise them."
    3. The 2004 hurricane season was the worst in decades. In spite
      of that, the federal government came back this spring with the steepest
      reduction in hurricane and flood-control funding for New Orleans in history.
      Because of the proposed cuts, the Corps office there imposed a hiring freeze.
      Officials said that money targeted for the SELA project -- $10.4 million, down
      from $36.5 million -- was not enough to start any new jobs.
    4. There was, at the same time, a growing recognition that more research was needed to see what New Orleans must do to protect itself from a Category 4 or 5 hurricane. But once again, the money was not there. As the Times-Picayune reported last Sept. 22:"That second study would take about four years to complete and would cost about $4 million, said Army Corps of Engineers project manager Al Naomi. About $300,000 in federal money was proposed for the 2005 fiscal-year budget, and the state had agreed to match that amount. But the cost of the Iraq war forced the Bush administration to order the New Orleans district office not to begin any new studies, and the 2005 budget no longer includes the needed money, he said
    5. The Newhouse News Service article published Tuesday night observed, "The
      Louisiana congressional delegation urged Congress earlier this year to dedicate
      a stream of federal money to Louisiana's coast, only to be opposed by the White House.... In its budget, the Bush administration proposed a significant
      reduction in funding for southeast Louisiana's chief hurricane protection
      project. Bush proposed $10.4 million, a sixth of what local officials say they
    6. And if you need specifics: One project that a contractor had been racing
      to finish this summer: a bridge and levee job right at the 17th Street Canal,
      site of the main breach on Monday.

II. Destroying FEMA

Read This Op-ed in the Washington Post called "destroying FEMA"
It lays out chapter and verse why we weren't prepared and why our response times have sucked so bad, and most importantly it ran on Tuesday before yesterday's complete meltdown
Why weren't we prepared? Well:

FEMA -- is being, in effect, systematically downgraded and all but dismantled by
the Department of Homeland Security....the advent of the Bush administration in
January 2001 signaled the beginning of the end for FEMA. The newly appointed
leadership of the agency showed little interest in its work or in the missions
pursued by the departed Witt. {
Clinton's FEMA head who re-oriented the agency
into the premiere disaster response agency in the country}
Then came
the Sept. 11 attacks and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security.
Soon FEMA was being absorbed into the "homeland security borg."
This year it
was announced that FEMA is to "officially" lose the disaster preparedness
function that it has had since its creation. The move is a death blow to an
agency that was already on life support. In fact, FEMA employees have been
directed not to become involved in disaster preparedness functions, since a new
directorate (yet to be established) will have that mission

That is why the response to this disaster has been, -not to put too fine a point on it-, a disaster itself. There's literally nobody minding the store when it comes to being prepared for something like this. The folks whose job it was had it taken away, and the honchos at DHS simply hadn't bothered to get around to creating a new department to handle it.

End result?

During the worst natural disaster in at least 100 years, over 50% the state's disaster response resources have been taken by the federal government and sent overseas, and There is a total vacuum at the federal level to fill the gap. It's a miracle things aren't far worse than the horror show we are seeing now.