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I know that many diaries have been posted to refute individual GOP talking points regarding the response to Hurricane Katrina, and they were much appreciated. However, there seems to have been a crystallization and dissemination of certain specific GOP points over the last week. I've been hearing the following talking points (which, naturally, accuse Democrats of all wrongdoing) everywhere in the past few days, and I would like to develop a concise, convincing refutation of each point, which can then be copied to one single document for emailing and/or use for background in a LTE campaign.  I'll need your help to develop it.

More after the jump.

The GOP spin is summarized quite neatly in a letter received by Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo.

The points are as follows:

  1. The levee failures were due to corrupt local government. "The local Levee Boards(run by Democrats, as is the City of New Orleans, for decades) stole or misspent milllions of taxpayer dollars when their sole responsibility was a prevention of the failure of the levees."

  2. The school busses!  The SCHOOL BUSSES! "The cable TV guy-turned Mayor refused to let 40 school buses (now under water) be used to evacuate people, another Dem."

  3. The Democratic Governor was responsible for the Red Cross not being let into New Orleans.  "The Governor, a Dem as well, refused to let in American Red Cross disaster aid already waiting in trucks because she didn't want to create a "magnet" for evacuees to the Superdome and Convention Center."

  4. Disaster response is the local government's baliwick, not federal. "The local government is "First Responders" in an emergency. The State is Second. The Feds are Third, only allowed in at the request of the Governor."

And of course, that old canard:

5) Local politicians didn't ask for help (in the right way/in a timely manner/using the secret FEMA decoder ring they were issued!)

If we could get together a concise, short, and convincing refutation of each of these points, backed with hard facts and links to resources, it would be really useful.

Standard caveat: if an identical diary to this one has been posted, I apologize.  I wasn't able to find one in the last 200 diaries.  [I remember seeing a really large and detailed refutation diary within the last week or so, but it was much more detailed than what I'm looking for, and I can't seem to locate it anyway.]  Thanks.

Originally posted to Rumblelizard on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 09:09 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  My take (4.00)
    On the role of the federal government during Katrina is here.
    •  Nitpicker, that's an excellent post. (none)
      Can you distill it into a short talking point?

      Also, thanks to those who have recommended this diary.

      •  Short version (4.00)
        Bush and the Republicans who voted for aid obviously feel that the federal government has a role and the Department of Homeland Security was created to have -- and still claims -- "primary responsibility...for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation" in the event of "a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency."

        If you believe that government has a role, why shouldn't it have worked to help people earlier, when it could make a bigger difference? If not, why aren't you protesting the aid packages?

        Not short enough?

  •  yes, please recommend (none)
    There have been lots of individual diaries with individual talking points refuted, but I'd love it if we could have something a little more comprehensive like this.

    Sadly, I'm not the girl to provide said talking points. But I could sure use them!

  •  IT WILL BACKFIRE (none)
    it seems to me that the blame game is going to backfire on bush. all it`s done is make him look weak and his ratings prove it.
  •  Blanco stands, Bush shrinks in the face of danger (none)
    New Bush photo just out:

    (via Yahoo!)

    "A whole lotta HOOAH and not enough DO-AH." - Lt. Gen. Russel Honore

    by joejoejoe on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 09:21:32 AM PDT

  •  #4 here (none)


    For Immediate Release

    August 27.

    Statement on Federal Emergency Assistance for Louisiana
    Office of the Press Secretary
    August 27, 2005

    The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of Louisiana and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts in the parishes located in the path of Hurricane Katrina beginning on August 26, 2005, and continuing.

    Preparing America

    In the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency, the Department of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility on March 1st for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation. This will entail providing a coordinated, comprehensive federal response to any large-scale crisis and mounting a swift and effective recovery effort. The new Department will also prioritize the important issue of citizen preparedness. Educating America's families on how best to prepare their homes for a disaster and tips for citizens on how to respond in a crisis will be given special attention at DHS.


    Behind the scene story.

  •  here. (4.00)
    1.  locals asked for 400 mill, they got like 20  mill.  if the repug asks, what'd they spend that 20 mill on, you can say 20 mill worth of maintenance on a 25 mile system of levees.  it only goes so far.  if the repug says "well i don't even think that 20 mill was spent on the levees, the local gov't was just too corrupt", well that's great, you can at least point out how many billions have just been lost (poof) in iraq.

    2.  easy.  no drivers for school buses.  nothing prohibited FEMA from giving the city the drivers they needed to complete the evacuation.  

    3.  red cross isn't the issue.  FEMA is.

    4.  and  5.  i have decided upon a simple analogy.  copied and pasted from my last comment on this in another diary:

    there's a larger issue at stake here as far as gov. blanco is concerned, and to drive it home, you can use a simple analogy:  if your house is on fire, you can concede after the fact you didn't have fire alarms, or created a fire hazard by plugging 35 different appliances into one outlet.  you can concede these things.  but the one thing i believe is non-negotiable is that once the fire has started, it is our right as citizens of cities, towns, and this nation to call a fire department and expect them to come put out the fire WITHOUT asking those questions first.

    so if your two kids died in the fire on the second floor, then i believe some of this tragic responsibility falls to the homeowner.... BUT ONLY IF AND ONLY IF the fire department responds appropriately.

    IF the fire department shows up and starts .. first thing..  asking you questions about wether or not you have smoke detectors or wether or not you're willing to sign over the deed to your house!! BEFORE putting out the fire, then i absolve the most ignorant of homeowners of any responsibility.  in this case, a bizarre case, but clearly analogous to NO, the fire dept/FEMA is to blame and SHOULD be held responsible for ANY deaths at all caused BY THEIR DELAY!!!!!

    ask your republican friend how they'd feel if their house was on fire, and they called the fire department and the first thing they did when they arrived is ask you if you really want your fire put out, and then ask you if you relinquish all rights of ownership to anything salvageable within your house prior to them putting out the fire???

    ask them that question.  verbatim.

    "It behooves us therefore to see each thing directly as it is, be it the sound of a tin whistle or the elegant Lepiota Procera." -- John Cage

    by BiminiCat on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 09:27:43 AM PDT

  •  "Disaster Relief is not Federal" (none)
    Day 2 after the Tsunami:

    YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Airmen from here load a C-130 Hercules with mission-support materials Dec. 28. The Airmen are deploying to Thailand supporting relief efforts after an earthquake and tsunamis devastated coastal regions of the Indian Ocean on Dec. 26. They will help establish a forward-operating base and assess the needs for additional relief efforts in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Katie Thomas)  Download Full Image

    KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Airman Autumn McHam attaches cargo netting to an aircraft pallet of packaged meals bound for Southeast Asia. The meals are part of a disaster relief package destined for the area struck by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake Dec. 26 off the coast of Indonesia. The quake caused tsunami waves that killed more than 100,000 people in 12 countries. More than 3,000 cases of meals and four aircraft pallets of fresh water were processed through Kadena's cargo area Dec. 28. Airmen from the 18th Wing here are providing supplies to help with the humanitarian effort. Airman McHam is assigned to the 733rd Air Mobility Squadron.

    Day 3 after the Tsunami:

    Airmen continue tsunami relief
    KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- An Air Force C-130 Hercules prepares for takeoff after being loaded with two aircraft pallets of packaged meals bound for Southeast Asia as part of disaster relief following a 9.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Dec.26 off the coast of Indonesia. The quake caused tsunami waves that have affected 12 countries and have killed more than 100,000 people. More than 3,000 cases of meals and four aircraft pallets of fresh water were processed through the cargo area here Dec. 29. The 18th Wing is providing relief supplies and personnel to help with the humanitarian effort.

    KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Airmen here help load an aircraft pallet of packaged meals bound for Southeast Asia as part of disaster relief following a 9.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Dec. 26 off the coast of Indonesia. The quake caused tsunami waves that have affected 12 countries and have killed more than 100,000 people. More than 3,000 cases of meals and four aircraft pallets of fresh water were processed through the cargo area here Dec. 29. The 18th Wing is providing relief supplies and personnel to help with the humanitarian effort.

    From Whitehouse homepage:

    The Defense Department brought into action military assets to support relief operations in Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. The Defense Department has been providing vital supplies and logistics to the humanitarian effort since December 30.
    At the height of the DOD humanitarian support activities, there were nearly 16,000 U.S. military personnel in the region focused on this effort.
    There were 26 ships, 58 helicopters, and 43 fixed wing aircraft.
    DOD delivered over 10 million pounds of food and supplies and provided well over 400,000 gallons of fresh water.
    To date, DOD has treated almost 2,500 patients.
    Other agencies have also contributed to the effort including the State Department with diplomatic coordination, the Department of Health and Human Services by deploying technical health experts, the Department of Agriculture with food aid, and the Treasury Department through the efforts of the international financial institutions.

  •  sure... (none)
    1. The Army Corps of Engineers was tasked with the levee construction, through SELA. The (federal!) money disappeared because of Iraq, not because of some shadowy, unnamed local government officials.
    2. As Nagin said on Meet The Press--they did bus people to the Superdome, and they barely had enough bus drivers for that. Also, it is not a mayor's responsibility to send people out of his city. Where would he send them to? That's clearly not at the local level.
    3. Actually depending on who you ask, it was either FEMA, or the State Director of Homeland Security who did that. And personally, I'd like to know what the Regional Director of Homeland Security was doing at the time. (that's right, there are 10 regional directors...) Remember, FEMA and DHS at all levels are supposed to be co-ordinating these things, so that this doesn't happen. I haven't caught them co-ordinating anything yet.
    4. They waited 2 to 3 days for the Feds to show up, as promised. They didn't show. The governor had already requested the aid. The Feds couldn't even be bothered to drop food and water by helicopter to help the poor starving people in the Superdome. They didn't even know about the people in the Convention Center! There's just no way to spin this away.

    Two final mentions: I know many people don't like him, but Andrew Sullivan has been on top of the Katrina disaster from the beginning, and he's got tons of excellent and very informative links on it throughout his blog. Also, dkosopedia is a great resource. Especially check out and/or update the timeline and the commentary.
  •  I've recommended (none)
    this diary.  I think trying to keep a record of this is one of the more valuable things we can do.  Also, I've got a link to an interview with Mayor Nagin in the NO Times-Picayune that's worth reading.
  •  Please do a follow-up with responses (none)
    I've recommended this diary. I think it would be great if after gathering responses to the talking points, Rumblelizard could do a follow-up summarizing the responses in a brief, cogent form that can be used in LTEs and other venues to refute the talking points.

    This is a very valuable exercise. Thank you.

  •  You'll find a lot here (none)
    This is a point by point refutation of the "Politics Over Duty" neocon disinformation email that is widely circulating. I put this to together instead of sleeping late last night/early this morning, with the help of the community.

    I hope you find it useful in answering some of your questions.

    Remember New Orleans

    by Rat on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 09:41:51 AM PDT

  •  I'll give it a whirl: (4.00)
    1. Levees on navigable waterways are under federal regulation and oversight, thus the Army Corps of Engineers hand in their construction and maintenance. Duh, wingnut.

    2. 400 buses don't run by themselves. The drivers were evacuating like the mayor told them to. Which is it gonna be--everyone should have evacuated or anyone involved in any public transportation should have stayed?  Make up your feeble mind, wingnut.

    3. FEMA kept out the Red Cross, not the Governor.  They also kept out hundreds of professional rescue workers and medical personnel from neighboring states. Nice try, wingnut.

    4. The local authorities had no power or phones.  That's why the National Guard are brought in in these cases with their communications equipment, which was mostly in Iraq.  Oops, did you not want me to bring that up, wingnut?

    5. White House and State of Louisiana public records say otherwise.  And if this were the case, when are we gonna prosecute Haley Barbour for not even issuing a mandatory evac order that could have save the hundreds that died in his state?  Is it IOKIYAR, wingnut?

    Well girls, it's 1950 all over again-don your aprons and prepare to be put in your place.

    by jandey on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 09:43:26 AM PDT

    •  Learn something new everyday (none)
      Didnt know what it meant so I googled it and found:

      Republicans in the House took more than 140 hours of testimony to investigate whether the Clinton White House misused its holiday card database but less than five hours of testimony regarding how the Bush administration treated Iraqi detainees.

      "If you're not complaining, you're not paying attention."--My grandfather

      by JackAshe on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 10:03:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  #3 (none)
    Here is an article from Media Matters that indicatates that the Red Cross has changed its story.  Originally, they said they did not go in because of security concerns.  The head of the Red Cross, Marty Evans, is apparently a Bush supporter, and the Red Cross has close ties with FEMA.

    I saw an interview of the Red Cross CEO Marty Evans over the weekend and she was only asked about current efforts to help--not about the FOX News story of Red Cross allegedly being ordered to stay out of New Orleans in order to avoid becoming a magnet for others.

  •  The Think Progress Katrina timeline is (none)
    an excellent source of documents to dispute some of the talking points given to TPM: Katrina Timeline.
  •  Help Me With the School Buses (none)
    I kept getting pounded on my radio show about the frickin buses.  Even my co-host went after me about the g.d. busses.
    How many were there?  Callers kept saying 400 buses.
    Even if the buses weren't part of a plan, could any other buses have been used?  And what about this rich guy, Jimmy Reiss, who the Wall STreet Journal mentioned  was also  the head of the Regional TRANSIT Authority for Mayor Nagin.  He helicoptered to safety to Aspen.
    Can I get a timeline on the buses?

    "Life is a zoo in a jungle." Peter De Vries

    by MontanaMaven on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 10:57:20 AM PDT

    •  In the flurry of diaries over the past (none)
      10 days, I remember a few things about the buses, but don't have any documentation.

      a.) The school buses are not owned by the city or the county, they are owned and then subcontracted out to transport the children to school. My county does that and it is very common in poorer counties/states to not own the school buses.

      b.) I read here on Kos that the company was only able to find 5 bus drivers once the evacuation order was in effect. There was also some discussion about the insurance liability of the city vs. the bus company, once winds gusts became higher the 40mph. 40-45 mph is the point at which buses will tip over from wind.

      c.) According to the city or state requirements, they are only required to get them to safe ground. It us up to FEMA to evacuate them away completely from the area.

      d.) How many people could be evacuated on the school buses in how much time? It would take 500 buses to carry 50 people each, to get 25000 out of the city. Where would they be able to get the gas and who would pay? Where would they evacuate to? No shelters had been set up because FEMA said 'We don't shelter Americans in tents'.

      Don't know if this helps, or gives you any info to google. Read through all the gov't documents on the Think Progress timeline that I linked to below.

    •  The spin on the bus goes round and round! (none)
      . . . and comes to an abrupt halt at MediaMatters:

      Sorry so brief.  I'm in a bit of a rush.  The short of it is that N.O. had ~700 city/school busses total, but not all of those were functional.  And some of the city busses were used to get people to the SuperDome.

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