Aaron Brown, race-baiter. Plus Stephanie Tubbs Jones

From this transcript of the Sep. 2 NewsNight with Aaron Brown interviewing Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones:

Brown: "I think what I'm wondering is, do you think black America's sitting there thinking, if these were middle class white people, there would be cruise ships in New Orleans, not the Superdome?"
Jones: "Let me say it to you like this, Aaron. We are offended. We are outraged that America, the democracy, is not living up to its calling. We are offended that so many African-American folk -- I'm offended that there are black, brown, whatever color they are, they are sitting in the Astrodome somewhere, not being taken care of. I'm offended that the government has not allocated the resources. It wasn't yesterday that they knew this was going to happen. It was six days ago... [...Red Horse...]"
Brown: "Now, look, here's the question, okay? And then we'll end this. Do you think the reason that they're not there or the food is not there or the cruise ships aren't there or all this stuff that you believe should be there, isn't this a matter of race and/or class?"
Jones: "I think it's mostly a matter of class, but clearly, race is a factor in the areas in which we're operating in southern America. And that were it different, were I the President, it wouldn't be happening."

From the 9/02 article "Black Lawmakers Angry Over Relief Response":

"The issue is not about race right now," said Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio. "There will be another time to have issues about color."

Wolf Blitzer: "They are so black", plus Elijah Cummings

From Sep. 1's The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer:

"You simply get chills every time you see these poor individuals, as Jack Cafferty just pointed out, so tragically, so many of these people, almost all of them that we see, are so poor and they are so black, and this is going to raise lots of questions for people who are watching this story unfold."

Here's one of those questions from Sep. 2:

CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Friday afternoon repeatedly prodded reluctant Congressional Black Caucus member Elijiah Cummings to blame racism for delays in rescuing hurricane victims in New Orleans. Blitzer asked Cummings on The Situation Room: "Do you believe, if it was, in fact, a slow response, as many now believe it was, was it in part the result of racism?" When Cummings demurred from such a blanket accusation, Blitzer wouldn't give up: "There are some critics who are saying, and I don't know if you're among those, but people have said to me, had this happened in a predominantly white community, the federal government would have responded much more quickly. Do you believe that?"

Cummings reply:

"I think that that's a pretty good probability. The fact is, though, and keep in mind another thing, Wolf, we have not even seen emerge from all of this those people who have passed away. There's another wave coming over this thing. Number one, we have to bring relief. Number two, we have to reconstruct and reconstruct people's lives...."

Sen. Mary Landrieu on Bush's Sep. 2 "photo op"

On Sep. 3, LA Sen. Mary Landrieu accused Bush of creating a potemkin repair site. She appears to have been wrong. First, here's her claim:

...But perhaps the greatest disappointment stands at the breached 17th Street levee. Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning [Saturday Sep. 3], less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment...

The same day, Kevin Drum introduced this quote with this:

George Bush's photo-op tour of New Orleans yesterday has apparently driven Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu over the edge. Today she blasted FEMA for its feeble response to Hurricane Katrina and Bush for his phony, stage managed promises of action...

However, "Local officials complain of disease, neglect" (posted on 09/04/2005 02:13:32 AM) says:

The Army Corps of Engineers said crews had closed a 300-foot gap in the 17th Street Canal levee, where the heaviest floodwaters had entered the city, and said they expected to close a second gap in another canal over the weekend.


Work to repair a 500-yard stretch of embankment along the 17th Street Canal was completed late on Sunday after an operation so urgent and intense that helicopter crews refused even to land for refuelling during shifts, instead hooking up to a giant flying tanker that circled overhead.

And, if that wasn't enough, from the ACOE themselves comes this PDF file:

On east side of the 17th Street Canal, the closure was 75 percent complete by midday Friday and a complete closure was expected by nightfall. Helicopters were dropping large sandbags made of strong, synthetic materials, and heavy equipment on the ground has been placing rock. Ground access was created by building a rock road more than 700-feet long from Hammond Highway, which is about 700 feet lake-ward of the breach.

Note that the first (since shown to be erroneous as to the victims) report of people being shot was posted on 09/04 6:10PM Eastern and contains:

The contractors were walking across a bridge on their way to launch barges into Lake Pontchartrain to fix the 17th Street Canal...

The rest of Drum's post will be discussed later, but the last four excerpts cast a great deal of doubt on Landrieu's interpretation of events, which, of course, were then echoed by WM and others.
The use of the term "levee" might be inaccurate. As I understand it, all of the levees held; the problems were in the "flood walls" for the canals.
Apparently Landrieu was less hostile during her interview with Anderson Cooper. That was the one during which he recounted his story about seeing rats eating a dead body.
District Fire Chief Gary Savelle "developed the city's hurricane fire and rescue plan" ("Haunted by Katrina").
WTAE's news director, Bob Longo, quotes Landrieu's press release without any analysis in "My View: Responsibility And The Relief Effort". Please post links to other discussions of her allegations in the comments.

Technical info on repairing levees

Sep. 2's "Repairing Levees, Getting the Water Out" has more:

...The Army Corps of Engineers learned that the [17th Street Canal levee or flood wall] had broken early Monday even as the storm hit, but it was impossible to do anything about it before lake water cascaded unimpeded into the below-sea-level city for 36 hours, turning a really bad storm into an unimaginable abomination. There was no public announcement that the levee had broken until late Monday.
Lt. Gen. Carl A. Strock, the Corps' commander, told reporters at the Pentagon on Friday that Katrina had simply overpowered levees designed 30 years ago with a 99.5 percent chance of enduring for 200 to 300 years: "We, unfortunately, have had that 0.5 percent" happen, Strock said.
On Friday, the Corps was trying to close the 17th Street breach and another breach at London Avenue to the east. A third break -- two breaks actually -- in the Industrial Canal, were left alone because water levels in the lake and the surrounding wetlands had subsided so much that water was draining out instead of coming in.
Col. Richard P. Wagenaar, the Corps' New Orleans District commander who is the on-site commander at 17th Street, said a police officer called him Monday morning to tell him about the break, but he could not drive there. On Tuesday, the Corps tried to drop some sandbags into the breach, but "it didn't work real well," Wagenaar said. "They were too small, and the water velocity carried them away."
It was better on Friday, but there was a big, deep hole to fill, and the bags -- made to hold 20 tons of sand -- were only carrying five, because the helicopters that arrived every five minutes or so, Black Hawks, Sikorskys and even the Chinooks, could not haul more.
Still, the Corps had a plan. Michael Zumstein, action officer for the Corps' "unwatering team," said the canal had been sealed off from the lake with steel slabs, causing water levels in the canal to drop further. That should eventually make it easier to plug the breach.
While the preferred strategy was to plug the breach and allow the city's pumps to discharge floodwater into the canal, the Corps was also prepared to use emergency pumps to flush directly over the steel dam and into the lake if stopping up the hole proved too difficult.
Zumstein said engineers were using the same strategy at a 250-foot breach in the London Avenue Canal, where they were closing the canal mouth even as they tried to stopper the hole: "They're tearing up Lakeshore Drive and using the concrete as fill," Zumstein said.
Elsewhere, flood teams were taking advantage of the fact that the city is divided by internal levees and floodwalls into 13 "sub-basins" with their own drainage systems and pumping stations -- like separate basements with their own sump pumps.
Walter Baumy Jr., engineering chief for the Corps' New Orleans District, said water levels in the lake had subsided by mid-afternoon Friday to within a foot of normal levels, and "when the water inside the bowl is higher than the lake level, we want to drain the water out of the bowl as much as possible."
Baumy said engineers planned to cut new breaches, or "notches" in levees elsewhere in the city, creating makeshift gutters in flooded areas to let water leak out. "We'll see an immediate improvement," he predicted...

HuffPost's Randall Robinson retracts cannibalism claim

If there's anything funny to come out of this tragedy, it was this claim from the Huffington Post's Randall Robinson:

It is reported that black hurricane victims in New Orleans have begun eating corpses to survive.

Now, that post has been prepended with this:

The claim in the first sentence in my post was incorrect. I had been told this was happening, but these claims have turned out to be unsubstantiated. I therefore retract them -- but stand behind everything else I wrote without reservation.

And, today he offers "The Lessons of New Orleans":

Last Friday, I wrote "New Orleans". No-one wants the opening sentence of "New Orleans" to be untrue more deeply than I. I am grateful that it has not been substantiated, and willingly re-tract that sentence...
...I have spoken and written extensively in an attempt to awaken the conscience of the American people; to cause them to see that millions upon millions of black Americans were drowning…..right here in America - long before Katrina - and few were doing anything to save them. Drowning in substandard schools. Drowning in neighborhoods in which there are no jobs. Drowning without health care. Drowning from red-lining. Drowning, drowning, drowning in a society in which, impassioned protestations to the contrary, race has always and continues to matter...
...Nearly a century and a half after the Emancipation Proclamation, the descendents of slaves, whose cruelly coerced exertions made America a wealthy and powerful nation, are told that "slavery and Jim Crow were long ago and we must now move on".
What was it that William Faulkner reminded us about the past never being dead and buried, and that indeed it is not even past? Yet, White America recoils at the mere suggestion that the time has come for an honest appraisal of the ongoing impact of America's past on the painful racial realities that confront us today...

This follows the Sep 2 post from Max Blumenthal "The Right Plays the Race-Card, Randall Robinson Unwittingly Indulges Them", which tries to get Robinson to retract his lunatic statement but ends up verging into its own, not entirely unknown to the HuffPost, lunatic territory:

On this blog, veteran civil rights activist Randall Robinson referred to "reports" of poor New Orleans blacks "eating human corpses to survive." I haven't seen these reports. I've looked endlessly. They don't exist. Robinson must either source these "reports" or retract them immediately because they are profoundly destructive to a cause he's fought his whole life for.
By raising the specter of cannibalistic blacks, Robinson indulged the racist right's wildest fantasy...
The conservative American Spectator's executive editor George Neumayr practically plagiarized the Turner Diaries [in the penultimate para here]...
...My sense is that the "war on terror" and its bearded, olive-skinned bogeyman, has brought only a momentary respite from the right's traditional racial demagogy -- blacks and Mexicans as "looters." If American fears of radical Islamic terror begins to fade by 2008, look for the GOP to start dealing the race-card again.
The backlashers will be back. To Robinson -- someone whose work I have admired -- I say, let's not give them any ammo they don't already have.

Meanwhile, back in reality:

From the 1960s through the mid-1990s, Washington spent more than $5 trillion on anti-poverty programs that did not make a dent in the poverty rate. Record-low poverty rates were finally achieved in the late 1990s not because of extra federal funding, but as a result of welfare reforms moving low-income individuals out of the welfare system and into the workforce while also promoting family formation...

And, from this 2004 Robinson article:

...And we must realize that the same "information" machine that lied about WMD and Jessica Lynch lies about much more- including Aristide and Haiti.
However, American officials who had vehemently opposed the restoration of Haiti's elected government in 1994, now seized on the run_off controversy to further demonize Aristide, break the Haitian people's spirit, and "prove" the Haitian Revolution a failure...
They loathe Aristide because he represents the poorer, blacker masses of Haitian society, whereas America's traditional allies have always been Haiti's moneyed, white or mulatto "elite." The parallels between America's policies toward Haiti and our policies towards apartheid South Africa have never been lost on me...

Huffington Post blog coverage, Part 1

As of Sunday, August 28, the blog side of HP hadn't mentioned the hurricane: there's nothing in Arianna's wrapup nor in that from Richard Valeriani.
On Monday, August 29, the very first mention of the hurricane seems to be in Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s "For They That Sow the Wind Shall Reap the Whirlwind". From the current version; note the update at the end:

As Hurricane Katrina dismantles Mississippi's Gulf Coast, it's worth recalling the central role that Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour played in derailing the Kyoto Protocol and kiboshing President Bush's iron-clad campaign promise to regulate CO2...
...Now we are all learning what it's like to reap the whirlwind of fossil fuel dependence which Barbour and his cronies have encouraged. Our destructive addiction has given us a catastrophic war in the Middle East and--now--Katrina is giving our nation a glimpse of the climate chaos we are bequeathing our children.
In 1998, Republican icon Pat Robertson warned that hurricanes were likely to hit communities that offended God. Perhaps it was Barbour's memo that caused Katrina, at the last moment, to spare New Orleans and save its worst flailings for the Mississippi coast. [UPDATE: Alas, the reprieve for New Orleans was only temporary. But Haley Barbour still has much to answer for.]

Hopefully someone else can provide a summary of the response to RFK Jr.'s post.
This lack of initial coverage at the HP is despite one of their contributors, Harry Shearer, being a resident of New Orleans. Later that day, he weighed in with "Katrina and the Waves of Fear":

As an adopted New Orleanian, I sat glued to the news channels as the only way of knowing what was happening to my residence, my friends, and my favorite city. Thankfully, nature was kinder to New Orleans than the news channels, particularly Fox. At approximately 7:50 am PDT Monday, an offscreen Fox anchor declared that one of New Orleans' levees had been breached.
Had New Orleans' levee system failed, that presaged very serious flooding for the city.
However, just ten minutes earlier on CNN, a FEMA official stated plainly that the levee system appeared to be holding, and several hours later this Reuters report pinpointed the only levee break as occurring in St. Bernard Parish, which is not New Orleans... [...reporters get locations wrong...]
...But, scaring out of towners about damage to a part of New Orleans they've heard of (no breasts are bared in the CBD, after all) was a higher priority for much of the past two days for the news channels, though MSNBC played it straighter most of the time...

A commenter calls him on his blase coverage, and at 8/30 11:32AM he responds in the comments:

...I had the opportunity to take a "virtual car trip" around much of NO on MOnday, seeing raw tape footage of the city, so I know, as of Monday afternoon, that much of the high ground--the Quarter, certain other areas, had window, sign, sheet metal damage, but no serious flooding. What's breached now, according to a Corps of Engineer spokesman on npr, is a water wall along the 17th St. canal, not a levee. Reporting potential disasters before they happen is not news, it's fear mongering...

A couple hours later, a commenter adds:

Mr. Shearer, CNN and FNC are reporting 80% of the city is under water and the level is rising. (Of course this may just be a ratings stunt.) If you take any actual (rather than virtual) tours for the next few days (or maybe weeks) I would suggest it be a boat tour not a auto tour...

Another commenter mentions HAARP after that comment; note that the first Bush-bashing in those comments appears to have started on 8/30 in the morning.
On August 31, a commenter adds:

I must defend Harry on this one. Everyone got this one wrong. Even today, TUESDAY! I cannot believe the lack of coverage and consistency. Sure, they had the pictures of rescues and damage. That's fine. But I cannot believe they will not really discuss the end of New Orleans. At least the end of New Orleans for a really long time.

Katrina timelines

From the left:
NKA (see the comments for some corrections)
Indymedia (very left, no comments)
DailyKos: 1, 2 (has restrictive comments policy)
Ledge of Liberty: "Why Bush is to blame for disaster" (link; many comments take issue with his findings)
From the right:
Rightwing Nuthouse: link, also here.
FR: link. Not detailed.
UPDATE: Here's yet another leftie timeline.


Ray Nagin: the "CIA might take me out"

...Last night [Sep. 2] he told a reporter for the Associated Press: "If the CIA slips me something and next week you don't see me, you'll all know what happened."
Today [Sep. 3] he told interviewers for CNN on a live broadcast he feared the "CIA might take me out."

From this.

Robert Hilburn doesn't correct the "looting/finding" urban legend

Hilburn is the L.A. Times' pop music critic, and he discusses Kanye West's outburst in "The Show Didn't Benefit by Censors":

...NBC may have been nervous about West's comments, including the notion that America and its president are unresponsive to the needs of the poor. But you can be sure those remarks would have been cheered more than anything else in the program by the black parents and children still trapped in the New Orleans Convention Center and the Superdome if they had been able to hear them...
Because he is widely seen by critics and industry tastemakers as an influential spokesman for the American black experience, you could feel the strain of his attempt to fulfill that role - to step beyond the generic comments of other celebrities Friday to reflect on the horror being experienced by the flood victims...
[West:] "I hate the way they portray us in the media... If you see a black family, it says they're looting. See a white family, it says they're looking for food."
...[West] seemed to be talking extemporaneously, so he might have chosen his words differently if he'd had time to write them down.
But maybe not...

"Looting" vs. "finding"

On August 30, Yahoo News printed two photos of people wading through water: the first of a black man with a garbage bag full of stuff he obtained by "looting", and the second of a white couple with bread and soda that they obtained by "finding" those items.
This trivial difference was immediately seized upon by the left as proof of racism.
From Van Jones: "This is the kind of shameful bias that keeps the country divided, even during awful tragedies like this."
From Byron Williams: "The journalistic double standard is so obvious it does not warrant comment, but there is something more important than the apparent racism."
Snopes has demolished the claim of racism by printing the comments of the photographers involved.
Links to other sites that showed these pictures will be provided later.


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