Patterico's Pontifications

3/2/2006

L.A. Times Dishonestly Portrays Contents of Video in Which Bush Is Warned About Katrina

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 4:53 am



The L.A. Times web site is trumpeting a story titled Bush Is Warned on Katrina in Video. I suspect that this will be Page One in the print edition this morning. The story dishonestly reports the facts to try to make President Bush seem like a liar:

The edited video, released by Associated Press, shows Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, briefing state and federal officials — including Chertoff and Michael D. Brown, then director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency — on Aug. 28. Bush was at his Texas ranch and participated by videophone.

Mayfield tells the officials he wants “to make it absolutely clear to everyone that there is potential for large loss of life … in the coastal areas from the storm surge,” and emphasizes that there is a “very, very grave concern” about the ability of the levees that separated Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans to stand up against the storm.

On Sept. 1, Bush said on ABC’s “Good Morning America”: “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.”

The part of the quotation I have bolded is dishonest in the extreme. It is designed to suggest that Bush was warned beforehand that the levees might be breached — and therefore lied when he said that nobody anticipated the breach of the levees.

But the “very, very grave concern” referred to in the video is not whether the levees would “stand up against the storm” (i.e. whether or not they would be breached), but whether they would be topped. Let’s go to the transcript, which (inconveniently for The Times) dispels the dark suggestion that BushLied™. You can read what Mayfield actually said at page 6 of the transcript:

I don’t think any model can tell you with any confidence right now whether the levies [sic] will be topped or not, but that’s obviously a very, very grave concern.

(My emphasis.)

Whether levees were going to “stand up against the storm” — in other words, whether they are going to be breached — is a very different question from whether levees are going to be overtopped by flooding. As John Hinderaker and Dafydd ab Hugh have already observed about the AP story on the video, there is a big difference between the levees being overtopped and the levees breaking. Let me quote Dafydd on the related AP story:

[T]he video footage shows no such warning, either inside or outside the meeting, that Katrina might “breach levees.”

The video shows one person . . . warning that people could be in danger if the levees were “overtopped.” Overtopping is not breaching, as common sense and English as our primary language should tell us.

The distinction is critical, because Bush never said nobody anticipated that the levees might be overtopped. He said nobody anticipated the breach of the levees — a much more serious event.

As I have already said, I believe some people did indeed anticipate the breach of the levees beforehand. I was not pleased with Bush’s statement when he made it.

But this video adds nothing to the story. And the L.A. Times (and the AP) have to completely distort what is said in the video to make it sound like news.

Far from showing us that Bush lied, today’s story tells us that L.A. Times editors and reporters are willing to lie to their readers.

UPDATE: Dafydd’s inaccurate reference to Max Mayfield as a “TV weatherman” in one of the above quotes has been removed with ellipses. I never meant to endorse that part of the quote, but I think it’s better to simply remove it entirely to make that clear.

UPDATE x2: Thanks to Instapundit, Mickey Kaus, Jeff Goldstein, Pajamas Media, and others who have linked the post.

UPDATE x3: Thanks also to Lucianne Goldberg for the link.

UPDATE x4 [3-3-06]: A debate is raging in the comments concerning the distinction between overtopping and breaching, with lefties straining hard to equate the two, but failing. I’m no expert in this area, but from the materials I have seen, it appears to me that overtopping can (but need not) cause an eventual breach, depending on the circumstances. This does not mean that overtopping is the same as breaching — they are different concepts with different consequences, again depending on the particular circumstances of the flooding event. Reinforcing the point is the star of the video discussed above, Max Mayfield, in this NBC report from yesterday:

Today, Mayfield told NBC News that he warned only that the levees might be topped, not breached, and that on the many conference calls he monitored, “Nobody talked about the possibility of a levee breach or failure until after it happened.”

Thanks to commenter MayBee for the link.

UPDATE x5: Thanks to Hugh Hewitt for linking this post.

I’d like to note a New York Times story from September 2:

[O]n Thursday, disaster experts and frustrated officials said a crucial shortcoming may have been the failure to predict that the levees keeping Lake Pontchartrain out of the city would be breached, not just overflow.

. . . .

“We knew if it was going to be a Category 5, some levees and some flood walls would be overtopped,” [Army Corps of Engineers deputy district engineer Greg Breerwood] said. “We never did think they would actually be breached.”

Just more support for the proposition that the L.A. Times‘s characterization is garbage. Under any rational reading, a failure to “stand up” means breaching — but that’s not what Bush was warned about.

Even the AP is no longer pretending that breaching and overtopping are the same thing . . .

161 Responses to “L.A. Times Dishonestly Portrays Contents of Video in Which Bush Is Warned About Katrina”

  1. The Katrina kerfuffle, part deux

    The blogosphere is abuzz this morning regarding the story about a ’secure’ (hah!) goverment tape as well as seven days of transcripts obtained by the AP show disaster officials warning the President and Homeland Security head honcho Michae…

    Sister Toldjah (3e6668)

  2. The “Bush Knew” Conspiracy And Other Thoughts

    I saw this last night and decided to look at it some more before commenting. At first you think “well, that’s pretty damning”. But with the media, the number one rule is always “what you see isn’t always exactly what you get”. Let’s just say …

    Iowa Voice (075f33)

  3. Memo to the slavering ‘gotcha’ gang

    Breached is not synonymous with topped. Too bad about, you know, transcripts. See: Patterico Powerline Dafydd ab Hugh…

    Darleen's Place (1650a7)

  4. […] It ought not be a surprise that the media are going to look for stories they can use to trash President Bush. As Sis noted, Powerline and Wizbang and Patterico and Dafydd ab Hugh all do good jobs explaining why this story is a non-story; I certainly don’t need to try to do it further. […]

    Common Sense Political Thought » Blog Archive » Promoting fluff, while ignoring news (819604)

  5. I still fail to see why Bush was playing air guitar in San Diego on the morning New Orleans was drowning though.

    Martin (da46a2)

  6. I still fail to see why Ray Nagin was playing at whatever he was playing at on the morning unused New Orleans buses were drowning.

    Laura (0ac173)

  7. Because Nagin is an idiot. So what’s your excuse for Bush?

    Martin (da46a2)

  8. What is wrong with the media? Why are they so sloppy and loose with their facts? And why is “getting” the President so much more important to them than doing something in depth and useful that can help the country? Is that too naive of me? I have now come to believe that the greatest danger our country faces is the loss of a truly legitimate press.

    Florence Schmieg (a1e126)

  9. “But the “very, very grave concern” referred to in the video is not whether the levees would “stand up against the storm” (i.e. whether or not they would be breached), but whether they would be topped.”

    Were the levees stretched? You know, like the point you’re trying to make?

    “The video shows one person — a TV weatherman, not a person in the presidential emergency briefing, as AP tries to make it appear — warning that people could be in danger if the levees were “overtopped.””

    “TV weatherman” is dishonest. That is a person in the briefing. Its the director of the national hurricane center. Did Daffy or hindraker watch the video? The guy is identified! [I think that’s a good point, Actus. I never meant to endorse that part of Dafydd’s quote; I quoted him for the distinction between overtopping and breaching levees. Still, I think I need to make that clear. Accordingly, I have removed that portion from the quote with ellipses and done an update to explain what I have done. The link is still there to Dafydd’s piece for anyone who wants to see his original quote and criticize him on that basis. — Patterico]

    You people are pathetic.

    actus (6234ee)

  10. The levies didn’t break because of how the president ‘felt’ about their security. It was a big storm. Those in the media attempting to link the president actions with the outcome seem to believe that our president has superhuman abilities. Activities that happened after the storm are another matter, but here too we find people expert at composing words incapable of understanding what it goes in to a massive rebuilding effort. They seem to believe that it largely consists of national dialogues.

    Menlo Bob (ef8d7e)

  11. Is there anyone in America with a TV who wasn’t warned the Hurricane was on the way and NOLA’s levees were at risk? I recall several days of dire predictions and constant warnings.

    Democrats Ray Nagin and Kathleen Blanco obstructed federal efforts to prepare for the impending storm. They failed to implement the disaster plan, and left the dependent poor to fend for themselves. NOLA’s misery is a product of Democrat control of local and state government. Those unused school buses sitting in the flooded parking lot reveal the truth.

    Katrina is a clear example of the Democrat Party’s towering incompetence, and proof the MSM will go to any length to blame GWB for Democrat failures.

    Black Jack (d8da01)

  12. The original point is the human habitation and gross overdevelopment of one of the most delicate pieces of land on this continent.

    The secondary point is the thorough local and state corruption which allowed that mess to take place over decades of time.

    Talk to natives in the Gulf, they don’t blame Bush. They see the thing for what it really is. Decades of human folly just begging for fiasco, not unlike building homes on the slopes of Pompeii.

    Houston is what it is because of Galveston 1900, when that particular jewel of the future was hurricaned out of economic contention. Houston became the inland Plan B.

    Time for New Orleans’ Plan B, not New Orleans redux.

    Laura (0ac173)

  13. “Still, I think I need to make that clear. Accordingly, I have removed that portion from the quote with ellipses and done an update to explain what I have done. The link is still there to Dafydd’s piece for anyone who wants to see his original quote and criticize him on that basis. ”

    In order to make clear, you remove the fact that he makes a mistake and then leave it as ‘one person’ rather than ‘the director of the hurricane center.’ Great work.

    [How did I remove the fact that he made a mistake? Did you read my update? I said he made an inaccurate reference to the guy as a “TV weatherman” — and the rest of my post already makes it clear who the one person is. Please don’t try to mislead my readers. Thanks. — Patterico]

    actus (ebc508)

  14. You’re talking to a native of the Gulf. No one here blames Bush for the hurricane, nor even the levees failure (completely preventable btw). Most people around here do view Bush as an idiot however.

    Hell-forget the days after the storm. If you think Bush is effectively managing your FEMA tax dollars right this very minute, you are grossly mistaken.
    Blue roofs, cruise ships, debris contracts, hotel rooms-it’s one fiscal horror story after another.

    As for your point on Pompeii-whatever. It is what it is. Galveston is still there with plenty of federally flood insured property right on the beach. And Houston itself is quite capable of being wiped out by a hurricane. The next season is less than 100 days away, and New Orleans still has no levee protection whatsoever. Should be fun.

    Martin (da46a2)

  15. btw, Martin, you fail to make the distinctions between levels of government – local, State and Federal. Feds are last, exactly as it should be.

    If you want your top-level Government to think-and-do everything for you, there are definitely countries where you can go to live. China, North Korea, Cuba et al. By all means check it out. Yeah, they’ll be there for you when your rice paddies overflow with chems and sewage and your back is permanently bent from labor.

    Enjoy.

    Laura (0ac173)

  16. The Federal government is still mismanaging the Katrina disaster… and the buck stops where? Not with the LA Times.

    D'Orly (6734e4)

  17. “If you want your top-level Government to think-and-do everything for you, there are definitely countries where you can go to live. China, North Korea, Cuba et al.”

    Cuba is actually quite competent in handling hurricanes.

    actus (ebc508)

  18. Nice non sequitur, you brainless cow. I deal in reality, however.

    Are the local or state governments in charge of FEMA? Hint stupid, the answer is no. Yet FEMA is on the ground right now in Louisiana and Mississippi, still failing miserably-(unless their mandate is to waste money, in which case it’s a smashing success)

    Did you know FEMA actually trucked ice to Portland Maine in the days after the hurricane?

    Did you know that right NOW the federal government is prosecuting the Sheriff of Forrest County Mississippi for commandeering a FEMA ice truck in the days after the hurricane that FEMA had told to go north and await instructions?

    [Martin, please tone it down. — Patterico]

    Martin (da46a2)

  19. Right, Laura. It’s all the fault of socialists, lefties and commies – the South is rife with them, after all.

    D'Orly (6734e4)

  20. I saw the video. Has it been edited to show Bush in the worst light possible? And what was he supposed to do about the levees anyway?
    Federal contracts for any type of construction work take months to prepare and then the selection process to find the General Contractor will take many more months. It isn’t something that can happen in an instant.
    Wouldn’t it be better to eliminate the city to insure such a diaster could never be repeated? The Occupational Health and Safety Act should also come into play here. There is a serious threat to workers and others in the city at the end of the Mississippi River. Eliminate the hazards. It’s Federal law.

    Joe (d6f550)

  21. Patterico-I said Bush is mismanaging FEMA and the woman told me to go live in North Korea. But I apologize. To cows. For the comparison.

    Martin (da46a2)

  22. Actus wrote:

    Cuba is actually quite competent in handling hurricanes.

    That’s true: by having nothing of value, they have prevented having hurricanes destroy anything of value.

    Dana (3e4784)

  23. Joe – by the same logic, one could argue that the infiill portions of the San Francisco Bay Area should be eliminated due to earthquake hazards, or that the below-sea-level farmlands of the delta should be abandoned due to levee failure risk.

    Neither of those is going to happen, and eliminating New Orleans isn’t going to happen, either; so the use of that idea as a rhetorical device is somewhat misleading. Like it or not, people live – in large numbers – in places which, absent modern technology, would not be safe for them; and, in general, our society expects government to provide the means to make those areas safe for habitation.

    What happened after Hurricane Katrina was a massive failure at all levels of government, which revealed an ongoing failure at all levels of government. Neither the City of New Orleans, nor the State of Louisiana, nor the Federal Government, were adequately prepared for the event (despite it being repeatedly listed as one of the most likely large-scale disasters to happen). They weren’t prepared because almost nobody took the risk seriously.

    I find this haunting, because it has a strong parallel in the risks that I face as an urban Californian. Almost nobody takes earthquake risk seriously; few people have supplies to last them for a long interruption in power, water, and gas; and many do not have or are unable to get earthquake insurance. Most of us expect that when the “big one” finally comes, the state and federal governments will step in to manage the crisis. Hurricane Katrina demonstrated that it is an error to do that.

    I’m also more annoyed at the federal government than the State of Louisiana on this one because I view the Bush Administration to have made dealing with terrorism its raison d’etre … and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina demonstrates that in the event of a large-scale terrorist attack, the federal government won’t be ready. I understand that they’re focusing on prevention, not reaction … but not being prepared to react strikes me as being foolhardy in the extreme.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  24. Because Nagin is an idiot. So what’s your excuse for Bush?

    Oh, I dunno, but I have an inkling that it might have a leetle bit to do with the fact that Bush is not the friggin’ mayor of New Friggin’ Orleans.

    Xrlq (f52b4f)

  25. XRLQ – hey, here’s an idea! Lets get some competent authority to declare New Orleans to have a nonfunctional government and place it under federal receivership for a decade or two ….

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  26. Let’s see:

    1.- New Orleans is built in a hole, several feet below sea level.

    B.- The federal government continues to appropriate money, to strengthen the levees, over the course of several administrations.

    3.- The city of New Orleans, the state of Louisiana and the Corps of Engineers continually divert levee money for other projects.

    4.- The Corps of Engineers begins a multi-year study to determine how to strengthen the levees, a survey that had not been completed when the hurricane struck.

    E.- George Bush is informed about a week before the hurricane strikes that things could go pretty badly.

    6.- The hurricane strikes, and a city built below sea level is flooded.

    Logical conclusion: it’s all George Bush’s fault!

    Dana (3e4784)

  27. Aphrael-you are so right. The scariest thing part of that whole damn thing was the loss of a sense of order. No power. No phones. No cell phones. No chance of 911. No government response on any level for three entire days. And this after a hurricane whose approach could be seen on radar days in advance, and whose exact moment of landfall was known.

    With an earthquake or terrorist attack that gives no warning, well I hope we all do better…

    Martin (da46a2)

  28. Martin: with all due respect, it seems entirely predictable that in a large-scale disaster there would be no power, no phones, no cell phones, no 911. That’s what it means to be in a large-scale disaster.

    That said, the level of the government response was underwhelming. At the end of the day, nobody stepped forward and took charge and made things happen – nobody led. And without that leadership the normal bureaucratic infighting took place instead.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  29. Aphrael wrote:

    I find this haunting, because it has a strong parallel in the risks that I face as an urban Californian. Almost nobody takes earthquake risk seriously; few people have supplies to last them for a long interruption in power, water, and gas; and many do not have or are unable to get earthquake insurance. Most of us expect that when the “big one” finally comes, the state and federal governments will step in to manage the crisis. Hurricane Katrina demonstrated that it is an error to do that.

    Well, it certainly raises the question of why the taxpayers who don’t live in areas that are subject to disasters of such proportion ought to subsidize the risk for those who do choose to live in such risky areas. Why ought I to be taxed because “many (who) do not have or are unable to get earthquake insurance” have chosenj to live in an area prone to earthquakes? Why should I be taxed because someone else decides to run a stupid risk?

    Dana (3e4784)

  30. Aphrael-you missed my point. Of course it’s entirely predictable.

    That’s why it shouldn’t take three entire days to get some relief into the disaster area!

    Martin (da46a2)

  31. The fact that the “director of the hurricane center” (as opposed to a TV weatherman) characterized the potential danger as overtopping, not breaching, enforces Patterico’s point.

    eddie haskell (51058c)

  32. Martin – I think you are overstating. There was relief in the disaster area. What is not clear is the extent to which the relief available was less than the amount of relief which could have been available given the infrastructure at the time.

    One of the interesting things about the way people respond to this is that there is a group which is predisposed to believe that the federal government did everything in its power to deal with the situation, and there is a different group which is predisposed to believe that the federal government did nothing to deal with the situation, and that both of those groups seem to be operating inconsistently with their general beliefs regarding the efficacy of the federal government. It’s a stunning example of how people’s view of individual figureheads influence their view of large bureaucracies.

    I think the truth lies somewhere in between. The federal government did not do nothing; it also did not do enough. The reasons for that are complex, and attempts by both sides to sound-bite them and lay all of the blame on particular individuals (Bush, say some; Nagin, say others) are entirely missing the point.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  33. Dana – perhaps we’re starting from different assumptions; if I follow the logic you imply in your post, I end up at the libertarian no-state solution, because taxation is never justified if it provides a greater benefit to someone other than the person taxed than to the person being taxed.

    I believe us to be members of a political community, and if the community votes to tax itself for a particular purpose, absent some particular reason to believe that purpose to be illigitimate, I believe the tax to be a legitimate one.

    Note that this applies only to taxes imposed through the normal legislative or initiative process; taxes imposed by judges drive me up the wall.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  34. Dana – also, with particular respect to earthquakes, since the overwhelming majority of Californians live in areas which have earthquake risk, and since there are well-known problems with the earthquake insurance market, expecting the state of California to socialize that risk is not unreasonable. Everyone has the risk, but only a few will bear the costs at any given time, absent some form of socialization.

    That doesn’t per se justify California expecting the federal government to step in and help.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  35. 24 hours before Rita struck the National Weather Service had it making landfall directly on Houston/Galveston – and local weather boobs were forecasting a 22′ storm surge putting my house under water. Guess what? It didn’t even fooking rain here. That is utterly normal. As anyone that has lived on the gulf coast for any significant length of time knows they are never able to accurately forecast where these storms will make landfall or how strong they will be when they do so.

    More people died in the Rita evacuation than had died in the three previous largest Houston area storm events – as documented on the Houston Chronicle science blog. Some things just aren’t under human control.

    Dwilkers (a1687a)

  36. Did you know that right NOW the federal government is prosecuting the Sheriff of Forrest County Mississippi for commandeering a FEMA ice truck in the days after the hurricane that FEMA had told to go north and await instructions?

    No I didn’t. Do you suppose if the MSM weren’t spending all their time playing “get Bush,” we might know about stuff like that? (But I guess “getting” some idiot federal prosecutor doesn’t yield a big enough scalp.)

    Old Grouch (fa300b)

  37. Here you go Old Crouch. I don’t know if the Laurel MS TV station is MSM, but they’re on top of it:

    McGee hearing delayed; supporters rally

    Martin (da46a2)

  38. Even after the Communist shot puter from the Farm has passed his legacy carries on. Another reason I don’t regret ending my subscription 18 years ago. LAT still prints propaganda as “news”. The good thing is they have seen their mark share drop for almost 2 decades and unlike the front page article on “Big O”. He did not turn it into a big $ maker he turned it into a money loser – Which is how and why the Trib took it over years ago. Bio O’s grandfather mad the LAT a big money maker while he was still on the track team at the Farm. A second example of the LAT printing propaganda as “news” in this one comment.

    If the LAT is your onlu source of “news” you have no idea of what is actually going on.

    Rod Stanton (4c0788)

  39. “That’s true: by having nothing of value, they have prevented having hurricanes destroy anything of value. ”

    Lives too.

    actus (ebc508)

  40. Whats wrong with the media? too many things to mention.

    But there is a solution coming:

    http://www.makethenewsbetter.com

    jj (76f5f1)

  41. Martin

    #1 – FEMA is there for AFTER the event. With money. It has no helicopters, troops, buses, trucks, etc. Disaster preparedness and evacuation is the sole responsibility of locals..including “Chocolate City” Nagin and “I won’t give up power” Blanco.

    2 – I absolutely love the people who expected the US military to parachute into the Louisanna capitol and take over when Blanco blinked – the same people who constantly think GWB is already a dictator!

    3 – I live in SoCal…native Angeleno. And we have always been told to be prepared to be on our own for 3-7 days. When my girls were in school, each school year as parents we had to provide an emergency pack per child (water, snacks, bandaids, etc) that was stored in each classroom (returned to us at end of school year).

    But what the heck…the whole “the government owes ME” schtick that is part and parcel of the Left’s raison d’etre is so engrained that the full failure of PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY evidenced by Katrina (and I’ll also include the unconscionable MSM coverage that was so breathless in spreading rumors of murder, shootings, lootings that a lot of rescue personnel hesistated in entering the area) still hasn’t be breached.

    Darleen (f20213)

  42. I keep wondering, by what measure people are using to consider the hurricane response a “failure”

    A city of 1.5 million…
    Evacuated 1.2 million before the storm…
    The response rescued 70,000 people in the week after the storm…
    1077 people died in Louisiana…

    We should thank God that things went that well.

    Keith, Indy (cdb3a0)

  43. Darleen dear-if you check this comment thread the only thing I criticized Bush for after the hurricane is strumming an air guitar in San Diego the same day the hurricane was killing people throughout the Gulf Coast and mismanaging FEMA right now.

    I do not believe the government owes me crap. In fact, if they weren’t pissing so much money away down here, maybe I would owe them less.

    Martin (da46a2)

  44. Darleen – I expected the US to parachute in and take over when the city government failed. I think that a short-term emergency takeover is necessary and proper during crises, and that the only things that are required are that (a) power be handed back over to the local government as soon as the immediate crisis has passed, and that (b) normal rules regarding things the state can’t do continue to be enforced.

    But then, left-wing as I am, I don’t think Bush is a dictator, so at least in some respect I stand in opposition to your claim.

    aphrael (e7c761)

  45. “Disaster preparedness and evacuation is the sole responsibility of locals..including “Chocolate City” Nagin and “I won’t give up power” Blanco.”

    This is a lesson of federalism I don’t understand. Why is it the job of a mayor to move his city to somoene else’s city? the job of a government to move people from their state to another state? It seems to me the best place to put the coordination is in the hands of the governmental unit that oversees both the source and destination of the evacuation.

    actus (ebc508)

  46. Re (Re)Thinking Katrina

    Patterico looks closely at the LA Times' portrayal of Bush's actions in light of the new "Katrina Tapes":The L.A. Times web site is trumpeting a story titled "Bush Is Warned on Katrina in Video." I suspect that this will b…

    protein wisdom (c0db44)

  47. ‘NOTHER EXAMPLE OF LEFTIES USING CONFLATION TO DELIBERATELY MISLEAD.

    I WISH THEY SOLD TV’S AND NEWSPAPERS WITH CONFLATION ALARM – BECASUE THIS IS THE FAVORITE TACTIC OF THE LEFTIST MSM. TAKE THE PORTS DEAL KERFUFFLE – THEY CONFLATE “PORTS AND SOVEREIGNITY AND SECURITY” WITH A CONATINER TERMINAL OPERATION DEAL INVOLVING ABOUT 25 CONTAINER TERMINALS IN 6 PORTS WITH 830 TERMINALS.

    IF THEY HAD A REAL CASE OR A RAL PLATFORM I THINK THEY WOULD USE IT.

    SO ALL THEY HAVE REALLY PROVED – ONCE AGAIN – IS THAT THEY ARE INTELLECTUALLY AND MORALLY BANKRUPT.

    reliapundit (883d87)

  48. Issues abound with this for sure. Some things leap out at me, though, regarding order of business and just how you go through the matters associated with stationing, logistics, etc., relative to any situation/requirement of this magnitude.

    The order of business goes from local to federal, and the feds are there to provide assistance, not provide command and control of the situation. That responsibility belongs at local levels (includes state). The President did in fact declare disaster area early (NOLA), even though Katrina did divert from original predicted path (landfall west of NOLA, for example). Second, the President cannot simply (in peacetime or for peacetime activities – this event falls into that category) activate the National Guards from the states. In these type events, that responsibility belongs to each governor, which is fully in line with the US Constitution. That The respective governors can then offer their forces up for assistance. However, in the case of the LA ARNG, Gov Blanco (not the Pres) had full responsibility to activate and chose to delay that effort. Once other states’ governors offer up the assistance, it is still up to the affected locale to determine when and where to use these assets. They canb request that the Pres federalize their troops, and then all can fall under the same chain of command. However, they are still going to look for direction from someone such as Gov Blanco. Of course, they – military – can and will make recommendations for appropriate stationing and use.

    As to logistics/stationing, it would have likely proven fruitless for units, personnel, FEMA organizational assets, etc. to be placed in the direct path and at the immediate coastal area as those asses would have faced destruction and or other manner of loss. While the storm is moving and after the storm passed it would then be appropriate to evaluate and ascertain where best to move support elements. Some of the issues associated with that include cleared routes, washed out bridges, unstable bridges, etc, especially for heavy vehicles. That simply doesn’t happen in the blink of an eye; it takes time and physical efforts (including use of air assets). Safe routes of travel/march are critical for effective support. Again, so much of the priority of effort for this has to come from the local level (states in this case), and it will be based on available or lack of available communications means. Maybe one lesson to learn from this is to have available cell phones and other communications means capable of satellite coverage. Those won’t rely on cell towers that may have been lost in affected areas. Also, movement of supplies into affected areas (and that means ALL of the affected area) after an event of this magnitude will take more time than many believe would be the case. That is one of the reasons that taking personal responsibility to ensure you can be self sufficient for 72-96 hours (as is always recommended under every disaster plan recommendations I have seen) is paramount. AND New Orleans was not the only place affected, as others have pointed out. In fact, the National Guard was in NOLA in significant #s within 3 days, as opposed to 5 days for Hurricane Andrew in Homestead area in FL in 1992 (which didn’t have the significant flooding problems as NOLA did). So there was some progress there.

    Also, it would have been great to be able to use air assets to drop in supplies, etc. but the air assets were being used (in a very busy and potentially very dangerous air space control environment) to rescue people. A good many people personally decided to remain in their homes, despite warnings. That is their fault, even though good people worked very hard to work as quickly as possible to bring relief.

    I think that blame does exist on all levels, but when lookinfg at this we must all be very aware that this was the worst natural disaster to hit this ountry and over a very large area. That means that it will take time – and a lot of it – to get things back to a real semblance of normalcy. The key now is to look at what we can glean from this as real lessons learned and work as quickly as possible to incorporate/implement changes into our operating environments. There will be tough roads ahead on doing that, unfortunately.

    Sorry for the long post, but I hope this can help to the understanding of various issues/matters associated with this event – at least from one person’s perspective.

    MikeW (21ac27)

  49. Yep, I’m convinced. When Bush got this news, he should have stood up and canceled the Hurricane. What a jerk!

    Defense Guy (0a296f)

  50. Actus:

    Actus, let’s get a couple of things straight.

    First, I was not being “dishonest” in misidentifying Max Mayfield as a TV weatherman; I simply made a mistake. Like most leftists, you have a very, very difficult time understanding the distinction… when someone to your right makes the mistake, that is. (There are of course no enemies to the left.)

    I watched the video once. I was listening to hear if anyone warns, in that video, that the levees might be breached — as AP promised they had. I missed the identification of Mayfield (who would have been just a name to me anyway, since I’m not a meteorologist); he was clearly on a separate video, and I leapt to an erroneous conclusion.

    As soon as Patterico informed me about the mistake (rather, as soon as I read his comment), I corrected it… and unlike the L.A. Times, when I make a correction, I note that I made a correction, and even what I had erroneously said in the first place, in the very article in question.

    So don’t again accuse me of dishonesty, lest you see your own reputation — such as it is — detereorate.

    Second, you could as easily have commented on Big Lizards yourself. Patterico supplied the link. You know how to click on the Comments button (it works just like here).

    Instead, you made your snarky claim (that I was being “dishonest,” which evidently nullifies the points somehow) on another blog; one that I read, of course, but not where it would do any good — since I don’t normally read comments on other blogs.

    Were it not for the fact that Patterico was nice enough to leave a comment to me himself, I wouldn’t have found out.

    Was it your hope that I wouldn’t discover the mistake, wouldn’t make the correction… and that you could therefore claim for days that I was still being “dishonest?” Without, of course, me finding out about it or being able to respond?

    Isn’t that rather — dare I suggest it — dishonest?

    Third, you nitwit, what the heck difference does it make to my argument whether Max Mayfield is the director of the National Hurricane Center or a TV weatherman? Are you completely deranged?

    Why on earth would I have deliberately tried to mislead people as to Mayfield’s job — which is what you suggest by calling me “dishonest?” It doesn’t weaken my argument that Mayfield gave his warning about overtopping in the briefing.

    My two points are (1) nobody is shown “warning” Bush that the levees could break, which makes absolute hash out of AP’s claim that Bush lied when he said he wasn’t warned the levees could break; and (2) suppose he had been warned… what was he supposed to do about it? Do you have an answer, Actus?

    Should Bush have declared martial law and taken over from the governor and the mayor — before the hurricane even hit?

    Can you sit there, with your hat on, and convince us that if Bush had done such a thing, a couple of days before landfall, you wouldn’t have been the very first in line to scream that he was a tyrannical dictator, King George the First, and had to be impeached immediately?

    So the next time you want to call me a liar, please be adult about it: come to my blog and do it where at least I have a good chance of seeing it and making any necessary corrections… instead of running off to tell on me, like a tattling little child.

    Crimeny.

    Dafydd

    Dafydd (6e94cd)

  51. acthole manages to defecate on yet another comment thread. Surprised??

    rls (0516f0)

  52. “First, I was not being “dishonest” in misidentifying Max Mayfield as a TV weatherman; I simply made a mistake”

    I shouldn’t have assumed that you saw the video you were criticizing. Sorry.

    “I missed the identification of Mayfield (who would have been just a name to me anyway, since I’m not a meteorologist); he was clearly on a separate video, and I leapt to an erroneous conclusion.”

    His ID was on the AP video.

    “Instead, you made your snarky claim (that I was being “dishonest,” which evidently nullifies the points somehow) on another blog; one that I read, of course, but not where it would do any good — since I don’t normally read comments on other blogs.”

    You read the comments here. And your blog requires registration. Besides, Patterico needs correcting too, he shouldn’t just repeat your inaccuracies.

    “Third, you nitwit, what the heck difference does it make to my argument whether Max Mayfield is the director of the National Hurricane Center or a TV weatherman?”

    You really can’t tell? Its because dubya wouldn’t be hearing from a weatherman, but a would from Mayfield.

    “(2) suppose he had been warned… what was he supposed to do about it? Do you have an answer, Actus?”

    I don’t think there’s much that could have been done about levees being breached. Dubya said he was doing everything possible, and I don’t think he’s lying.

    But I don’t see this fascination with topped/breached. The two go together for me.

    actus (ebc508)

  53. MikeW – no need to apologize; that was a fantastic, thoughtful, informative comment.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  54. About The Katrina Teleconferencing Videos

    All that video undermines the claim that the Administration didn’t take the hurricane threat seriously. There’s videotape from sessions over the course of six days. Sounds like they took it quite seriously.

    A Blog For All (59ce3a)

  55. Aphrael wrote:

    Dana – perhaps we’re starting from different assumptions; if I follow the logic you imply in your post, I end up at the libertarian no-state solution, because taxation is never justified if it provides a greater benefit to someone other than the person taxed than to the person being taxed.

    I believe us to be members of a political community, and if the community votes to tax itself for a particular purpose, absent some particular reason to believe that purpose to be illigitimate, I believe the tax to be a legitimate one.

    Note that this applies only to taxes imposed through the normal legislative or initiative process; taxes imposed by judges drive me up the wall.

    This is a different situation, Mr A. The people of New Orleans, and the people of, as you described it, “urban California,” have taken on an excessive risk. Why ought the people who have chosen to live in areas which do not have excessive risks associated with them to have to subsidize the risk-takers?

    Dana (9f37aa)

  56. Aphrael also wrote:

    Dana – also, with particular respect to earthquakes, since the overwhelming majority of Californians live in areas which have earthquake risk, and since there are well-known problems with the earthquake insurance market, expecting the state of California to socialize that risk is not unreasonable. Everyone has the risk, but only a few will bear the costs at any given time, absent some form of socialization.

    That doesn’t per se justify California expecting the federal government to step in and help.

    It makes some sense (assuming that socializing anything makes sense), to assume that if the entire population is at an elevated risk of a particular thing, such risk can be spread across the jurisdiction. But, as you said, that sure doesn’t justify California expecting the feds tro step in.

    Dana (9f37aa)

  57. Daffyd: “I simply made a mistake”

    You expect to be granted slack that you’re not willing to grant to others. You have no problem calling the reporters liars, even though you are very far from being in a position to prove that.

    Aside from that, your “overtop” vs. “breach” analysis is all wet. See here, 3/2, 1:42 pm.

    esquirerumson (b6b500)

  58. Leave it to liberals not to know the difference between making a mistake and deliberately lying.

    sharon (fecb65)

  59. Bush and gang are the exemplar of lies. As are the majority (Republicans) in Congress. If you don’t know that, where have you been? Oh, FOX, that explains it. LOL

    blubonnet (dc52ec)

  60. actus sez

    This is a lesson of federalism I don’t understand. Why is it the job of a mayor to move his city to somoene else’s city? the job of a government to move people from their state to another state?

    That, ladies and gents, is the essential actus. A young’un who doesn’t want to grow up, a young’un pining for Nanny in D.C. to control All.Things essential to undisturbed lotus eating.

    Darleen (f20213)

  61. “That, ladies and gents, is the essential actus. A young’un who doesn’t want to grow up, a young’un pining for Nanny in D.C. to control All.Things essential to undisturbed lotus eating.”

    Not DC control all. It seems to me to be a state level thing to move people from one city to another. A federal thing to move people from one state to another. That’s the governmental unit that would encompass both the destination and departure.

    Makes the most sense to set it up that way. That’s not, however, how we do it in america.

    actus (6234ee)

  62. I suggest you go into your upstairs bathroom, put the plug in and turn on the tap. Wait an hour. Does it really matter to the state of your house that the bathtub has not been “breached” at this point?

    Normally, there would be a significant difference between overtopping and breaching. But for New Orleans, the assumption was that overtopping caused by a storm surge would mean that the bowl would fill. And usually breaches would occur as well.

    Agnana (e5ba29)

  63. Hey Actus, lemme try to clear up the whole “topped/breached” thingee for you.

    If the Hoover Dam is “topped” (i.e., water flows over the top of it), that is obviously an undesirable situation, and people nearby might seem some flooding.

    If the Hoover Dam is “breached,” (i.e., has a big frickin’ hole punched in it), then anything within 20 miles is going to be devasted as if the hand of God himself had done it.

    Do you get it?

    Joey (372f25)

  64. Martin, sweetheart

    the only thing I criticized Bush for after the hurricane is strumming an air guitar in San Diego the same day the hurricane was killing people throughout the Gulf Coast

    Damn that Bush. He was visiting soldiers when people were dying. I bet when he got back to the White House, he kissed Laura and hugged the twins when people were dying. I bet he even had a nice dinner, a warm shower, and slept on clean sheets when people were dying.

    I bet even Jhimmi Carter enjoyed a moment or two of happiness in the White House during the Iranian hostage crisis.

    Since when have we demanded our Presidents to wear hairshirts and engage in endless rounds of self-flagellation?

    Darleen (f20213)

  65. Actus,

    But I don’t see this fascination with topped/breached. The two go together for me.

    It’s the difference between reaching the highest top of the mountain, and falling off the edge of the very same highest point.

    When you are so far to the left though, nuances such as those can be tricky to detect.

    Alexandra (51bfeb)

  66. Alexandra: “When you are so far to the left though, nuances such as those can be tricky to detect.”

    When you’re so far to the right, it becomes hard to comprehend simple facts.

    You’re missing the fact that once the levies were “overtopped,” it was inevitable that they would fail completely. Anyone with a clue knew this. Why do you think Mayfield said overtopping was a “very, very grave concern?” It was a “very, very grave concern” because it would be quickly followed by complete failure. This has to do with very simple features of how the levees were constructed. This is what was predicted (by Mayfield and many others), and this is precisely what happened.

    The longer version of this argument, with extensive documentation, is here, 3/2, 1:42 pm.

    esquirerumson (b6b500)

  67. Katrina struck Aug 29, and Blanco tells Bush

    We keep getting reports in some places that maybe water is coming over the levees,” Gov. Kathleen Blanco said shortly after noon on Aug. 29, according to the video. “We heard a report unconfirmed, I think, we have not breached the levee. I think we have not breached the levee at this time.*

    ‘Course, some would have it that it was up to Bush to ignore LA’s own governor and have had the 101st Airborne drag her out of office in chains.

    Or maybe GW should have stood at the coast and done a Moses and stopped Katrina right there and then.

    Darleen (f20213)

  68. I sense another “sixteen words” moment here. What President Bush actually said wasn’t a lie; so rather than admit that the President didn’t lie, the Bush haters are going to insist that he meant something other than what he actually said, and that what he meant was a lie. And the more deranged (or dishonest) among them will insist that he actually said what he didn’t say, because they want to strengthen their claim of lying. The less deranged will try to attack the credibility of those who point out the flaw in their logic, so as to distract us from that flaw.

    Same playbook, different period. All we need now is a former FEMA field agent to send her husband on a fact-finding mission to New Orleans so he can write a false but inflammatory NY Times OpEd about it, and we’ve got the perfect analogue to the sixteen words.

    Martin L. Shoemaker (9dba84)

  69. Lately I seem to be agreeing with commenter #26 on this site whatever the subject may be or whoever he/she may be. Should I be concerned?

    As for FEMA vs. New Orleans — FEMA was designed for America, not Bangladesh. New Orleans was a dysfunctional city to begin with. “Greed, incompetence and corruption” could be its motto as well as the motto of the whole state. We should have just let it die. Whatever its value as a port, the money we are spending rebuilding it could build ten ports elsewhere on the Gulf.

    nk (d5dd10)

  70. Martin: “What President Bush actually said wasn’t a lie”

    Your unsubstantiated declaration is a waste of innocent electrons if you’re not willing to lift a finger to present any substantive counterargument to the evidence presented here (3/2, 1:42 pm).

    esquirerumson (b6b500)

  71. If the Hoover Dam is “breached,” (i.e., has a big frickin’ hole punched in it), then anything within 20 miles is going to be devasted as if the hand of God himself had done it.

    Do you get it?

    Oh I get it. Its just that when the hoover dam gets topped, I start worried about it getting breached. These things aren’t designed for that.

    actus (6234ee)

  72. Reading the comments on Patterico’s and Captain Ed’s posts regarding this subject, I’m amazed at the angry,visceral reaction regarding a relatively simple subject. Overtopped and breached are not the same thing. Seems simple enough, yet judging by the comments, it is blasphemy. It is a typical response when someone questions a liberal “known fact”, i.e Bush is a moron who was asleep at the switch (or worse, didn’t care due to the racial makeup of the city) and let Katrina happen.

    Note to the left, the angry ranting doesn’t work. Sure it’s fun, annoys conservatives and gets the base riled up, but it doesn’t win votes and it does drive away moderates. All you have to do is look at the 2000 (Gore losing despite peace and prosperity), 2002 (GOP picking up seats although the incumbent president almost always looses seats in the midterm) and 2004 (Zogby’s guarantee of a Kerry win) elections. I had been concerned about 2006, where frankly, the Republicans deserve to lose due to the corruption and out of control spending. But look at the alternative.

    Jeff C (428193)

  73. jeff: “Overtopped and breached are not the same thing”

    It’s not a question of claiming that they’re precisely the same thing. It’s a question of understanding that the latter inevitably follows the former.

    Jumping off a building, and striking the ground at high speed, are not precisely the same thing (the former doesn’t hurt at all, while the latter hurts a lot). However, the latter inevitably follows the former.

    Nevertheless, our host says this: “Bush never said nobody anticipated that the levees might be overtopped. He said nobody anticipated the breach of the levees — a much more serious event.”

    That’s nonsense.

    Imagine if I interrupt John Hinderaker’s 5-week vacation to tell him that his pal Scott Johnson is about to jump off the roof. Hinderaker yawns and resumes his vacation. Later, Hinderaker tries to gloss over the warning I gave him. He says “no one anticipated that Johnson was going to strike the ground at high speed, ending his life.”

    I then speak up to let people know that I warned Hinderaker. People then understand that Hinderaker’s statement (“no one anticipated that Johnson was going to strike the ground at high speed, ending his life”) is simply a lie.

    But then Patterico chimes in, defending Hinderaker. Patterico says this: “Hinderaker never said nobody anticipated that Patterico might jump off the roof. Hinderaker merely said nobody anticipated that Johnson would strike the ground at high speed, ending his life — a much more serious event.”

    Now in addition to understanding that Hinderaker is a liar, everyone understands that Patterico has an irrational inclination to defend a liar.

    esquirerumson (b6b500)

  74. It’s a question of understanding that the latter inevitably follows the former.

    We’re at inevitably now?
    Inevitably?
    Don’t you mean possibly?

    MayBee (c5700f)

  75. Breaching inevitably follows topping like gravity leads to falling? I can’t find any proof of that, and I looked pretty hard. And some string of hyotheticals in some blog comment, with no real facts and citations, doesn’t sway me as proof.

    If you have the proof, you might want to share it with the folks at factcheck.org (not exactly fans of the President) who concluded (emphasis added):

    Bush is technically correct that a “breach” wasn’t anticipated by the Corps, but that’s doesn’t mean the flooding wasn’t forseen. It was. But the Corps thought it would happen differently, from water washing over the levees, rather than cutting wide breaks in them.

    Greg Breerword, a deputy district engineer for project management with the Army Corps of Engineers, told the New York Times:

    Breerword: We knew if it was going to be a Category 5, some levees and some flood walls would be overtopped. We never did think they would actually be breached.

    And while Bush is also technically correct that the Corps did not “anticipate” a breach – in the sense that they believed it was a likely event – at least some in the Corps thought a breach was a possibility worth examining.

    As I predicted above, they spun it in the most negative way they could; but they still grudgingly concluded that the President spoke the truth. So like me, they seem to have found no proof that breaching follows topping as night follows day.

    But if you have proof that I and they both missed, you should also share it with the Federation of American Scientists (again, not exactly fans of the President) who in one of their Congressional Research Services Reports (link is PDF) declared (emphasis added):

    Flooding in New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina was predicted, but the extent of the
    inundation was uncertain. Because of the topography of the city — much of it below sealevel
    and lacking natural drainage — precipitation often causes local flooding which is
    controlled by a network of canals and pumps. Flooding as the result of overtopping of
    levees and floodwalls was predicted for a storm stronger than a fast-moving Category 3
    hurricane; that is, it was expected that some water would flow over the levees and
    floodwalls based on Katrina’s forecasted strength.
    Although the city did not receive Katrina’s strongest force head-on, the levee and floodwall infrastructure’s capability to protect the city was exceeded.

    Failure (often called a breach) of levees and floodwalls reportedly was a contingency
    not central to emergency planning and response. Four breaches along three New Orleans
    canals occurred as the result of Katrina. Failure is an inherent risk of any flood control
    structure, and can result in catastrophic damage. Breaches represent a structural failure, which is distinct from overtopping of levees and floodwalls which happens when their design is exceeded. The causes of the multiple breaches in New Orleans are the subject
    of speculation, and likely will be the subject of investigations and congressional interest.

    So apparently a lot of people who put a lot of thought into it do not believe that topping equals breaching.

    While I think they’re much more partisan than they’ll admit, I think factcheck.org drew a nice distinction between anticipated (“in the sense that they believed it was a likely event”) and possible (“Another scenario is that some part of the levee would fail”). If you want to fault the President for lack of imagination in not seeing the possibility… Well, I’ll still want to see your evidence that he didn’t see it, but I’m open to the possibility. (Hint: start with that factcheck.org article, as they strive mightily to make that case.) But if you want to say he lied when he said no one anticipated a breach and cite as proof people who anticipated a topping, you’re going to have to convince factcheck.org and FAS if you want to convince me.

    Topping may sometimes lead to breaching, but it is by no means inevitable.

    Martin L. Shoemaker (9dba84)

  76. maybee: “Don’t you mean possibly?”

    No, I don’t mean “possibly.” I said “inevitably” because I mean “inevitably.” And I mean “inevitably” because there is ample proof to support “inevitably.”

    Here are some examples of such proof, which I’m borrowing from a post elsewhere, that I’ve already cited.

    This FEMA document (pdf) describes a different part of the country, but it clearly explains that overtopping leads to breaching: “A major flood under existing conditions would overtop Forest Lake Dam and Lake Katherine Dam. The high water velocities would erode the downstream faces of both dams causing them to fail.”

    Please note the word that is used: “would.” Not “could.”

    From the WSJ, discussing Katrina: “The first concern was that it would overtop in some ways. In other words, the water is going to start coming over the top and then begin to erode the levee. You normally don’t find out the cause until much later, because all of a sudden it starts. The levee starts to unravel, and the minute you have water going over the top, it begins to carry away the earth that’s there … Once a levee break starts, it is extremely difficult to stop it in its initial stages, and as it is now, to close it back up.” (Emphasis added.)

    Notice the complete absence of qualifiers. No “might.” No “could.” No “maybe.” Just simple cause and effect: once A happens, B follows. That’s what “inevitably” means.

    The following is from a hydrology textbook (pdf): “Highhazard dams (dams whose failure would result in loss of lives and widespread property damage) are required, by modern standards, to contain 100 percent of a PMF [Probable Maximum Flood] without water overtopping (spilling over) the dam. A dam overtopped would quickly erode and eventually breach (fail).” (Emphasis added.)

    Again, “would,” not “could.”

    If I jump off a tall building, I will not “possibly” strike the ground and end my life. I will “inevitably” do so. The above citations indicate that a similar analysis holds when a levee is overtopped during a severe storm.

    Martin: “Breaching inevitably follows topping like gravity leads to falling? I can’t find any proof of that, and I looked pretty hard”

    Since you “looked pretty hard,” it’s hard to understand why you didn’t notice the above citations, which are only a click or two away from messages I’ve posted here.

    “factcheck.org”

    Their source is Breerwood. I discuss him extensively here.

    “Breaches represent a structural failure, which is distinct from overtopping of levees and floodwalls which happens when their design is exceeded.”

    I have no problem with this statement, and it doesn’t prove much, one way or another. Jumping off the building is also “distinct from” striking the ground. It’s also true that a breach can be the result of various causes (not just overtopping), and I think that is correctly implied by the statement you cited. However, I still maintain that overtopping leads to breaching, and your citation says nothing to deny that.

    “it was expected that some water would flow over the levees and floodwalls based on Katrina’s forecasted strength.”

    Likewise, I have no problem with this. It’s a true statement, and it’s a statement which says nothing to deny another true statement: as this water “would flow over the levees and floodwalls,” it would weaken those structures, which would inevitably fail.

    By the way, this report that you like quotes COE as follows: “it’s believed that the force of the water overtopped the floodwall and scoured the structure from behind and then moved the levee wall horizontally.” In other words, it’s yet another source indicating that overtopping leads to greater failures.

    By the way, I don’t intend to make a claim that is so extreme that it is absurd. If the water is one millimeter below the top of the wall, on a perfectly calm, glassy day, and a duck swims by, and splashes an ounce of water over the wall, I am not going to claim that this is overtopping that will “inevitably” knock the wall over. On the other hand, the citations I’ve offered indicate that substantial overtopping, during an actual storm severe enough to make the water that high to begin with, does inevitably cause walls to tip over.

    “If you want to fault the President for lack of imagination in not seeing the possibility”

    As I’ve said several times in various places, my main focus (at the moment) is not what Bush did (or didn’t do) on Sunday. It’s what he did on Thursday: lie.

    “if you want to say he lied when he said no one anticipated a breach and cite as proof people who anticipated a topping … ”

    All I really need to cite is Mayfield, because Mayfield clearly felt that “topping” was a matter of “very, very grave concern.” There would be no reason for Mayfield to feel this way, unless he agreed with the various other experts I’ve cited, who claim that once overtopping begins, breaching is hard to avoid.

    “Topping may sometimes lead to breaching, but it is by no means inevitable.”

    If you claim that only a weak connection exists between topping and breaching, please explain why Mayfield expressed the idea that topping was a matter of “very, very grave concern.”

    esquirerumson (b6b500)

  77. Have a cup of coffee and fill it to the top. Then you will be changing your outfit before you go to work. I can’t believe I have to, or anyone has to make this simple point.

    Bush has lied and lied and lied about so many things, why even give him a benefit of a doubt about anything. He is not worthy of it. Lying men and women into an unncecesarry illegal war, and there are those of you still trying to defend his “honor”.

    And whether you think taxes are something you should have to pay or not, it’s what most of those folks down in New Orleans were doing, expecting the United part of the United States to be part of the mind set. Unity is a beautiful thing. “You are all on your own, even if we destroy the economy with outsourcing and corporate robbery of employees and stockholders”
    is what I’m hearing from the rightwingers, which whether you are acknowledging it or not is pro-corporate. Don’t you realize that it takes money to make money. Many are born into poverty, and dysfunctional homes and don’t really have a chance to escape it. Taxes help all to have an equal opportunity to escape(education, adequate medical care, etc.) it if it isn’t all spent on defense. Basically, FEMA was gutted because it was spent on the illegal war in Iraq. Michael Brown acknowledged that not enough funding existed to make FEMA functional. Fidel Castro cleared everyone in time for the devastating hurricanes.

    blubonnet (dc52ec)

  78. “Bush and gang are the exemplar of lies.”

    Only if you are stupid enough not to understand the difference between mistakes and lies, as most Democrats seem not to be able to make this distinction.

    “As are the majority (Republicans) in Congress.”

    Don’t forget all those “honest” Democrats. The ones who lied that they didn’t know what they were doing authorizing Bush to go to war, etc., etc.

    “If you don’t know that, where have you been? Oh, FOX, that explains it. LOL”

    Better than using that lying MSM like CBS which is, I’m sure your paragon of virtue.

    “And whether you think taxes are something you should have to pay or not, it’s what most of those folks down in New Orleans were doing, expecting the United part of the United States to be part of the mind set.”

    Given the high crime and unemployment rate, the only taxes most of them were paying were for unemployment.

    “Unity is a beautiful thing.”

    Or an ugly one if it is a mob.

    ““You are all on your own, even if we destroy the economy with outsourcing and corporate robbery of employees and stockholders”
    is what I’m hearing from the rightwingers, which whether you are acknowledging it or not is pro-corporate.”

    Yes, expecting adults to take care of themselves instead of having the feds wipe one’s butt must be a pro-corporate stance. I mean, not that NO wasn’t warned days ahead of time about the coming storm. Not that the state and local officials were more concerned with liability. Not that residents decided that hurricane predictions are faulty at best and decided to stay home. Nope. Must be those “lying” Bush people.

    “Don’t you realize that it takes money to make money.”

    It also takes hard work to make money.

    “Many are born into poverty, and dysfunctional homes and don’t really have a chance to escape it.”

    This is weak-willed and wrong. Many are also born into poverty but escape it through their own decision-making. It’s pathetic to whine that because some people make poor choices and refuse to take responsibility for themselves that everyone else is required to make them comfortable.

    “Taxes help all to have an equal opportunity to escape(education, adequate medical care, etc.) it if it isn’t all spent on defense.”

    Wrong. Taxes are an unequal redistribution of hard-earned money from producers to non-producers by (sometimes) well meaning bureaucrats who always think they know better how to spend one’s money. And if taxes help “all to have an equal opportunity,” then why are liberal leeches still whining they haven’t taken enough?

    “Basically, FEMA was gutted because it was spent on the illegal war in Iraq.”

    Setting aside the silly and idiotic notion of an “illegal war in Iraq” (barf), FEMA was not gutted and it responded to Katrina with the same speed it responds to every disaster. Ask Florida.

    “Michael Brown acknowledged that not enough funding existed to make FEMA functional.”

    And here I thought you liberals said he was incompetent. Brown has also said that the primary responsibility for evacuation and the immediate response to the hurricane was at the local and state level, but I guess you get to forget that part of his statements.

    “Fidel Castro cleared everyone in time for the devastating hurricanes.”

    Does this mean he cleared the jail of all those political dissidents and librarians he locks up in his “free” country? Hey, they have a high literacy rate, so to hell with freedom, right?

    sharon (fecb65)

  79. esquire- don’t use Mayfield’s words, because this is what he said:

    Today, Mayfield told NBC News that he warned only that the levees might be topped, not breached, and that on the many conference calls he monitored, “Nobody talked about the possibility of a levee breach or failure until after it happened.”

    I have no idea what the ‘these particular conditions’ might be in your first example about ANOTHER levee.

    Your WSJ quote is a direct answer to the question:
    What were the primary reasons for the levee breaches in New Orleans?
    If we knew that, it wouldn’t have breached.

    So the question assumes a breach, assumes a certain outcome and asks how that outcome came about. That in no way means every time a levee overtops it breaches, it means if a levee has breached it possibly starts with an overtopping.
    You have it exactly backwards.
    Once we know it happened, we know that something led to it.
    It’s only inevitable under the right conditions, and the conditions are obviously 100% there if it happened.

    SO to use a hypothetical like yours:
    Someone dies in a car accident, and we know their car skidded on wet pavement. We know the wet pavement made their car skid and caused their death.
    Does that mean everytime someone drives in the rain their car will skid- or everytime a car skids on wet pavement they will die? Is it inevitable?

    As for whether they thought the NO levees would top without breaching? It isn’t hypothetical. They did think it:

    In the Aug. 29 tape obtained by NBC News from Bush supporters, a senior White House official asks Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco how the levees are holding up.

    “We keep getting reports in some places that maybe water is coming over the levees,” Blanco says on the tape. “We’ve heard a report, unconfirmed. I think we have not breached the levee. We have not breached the levee at this point in time.”

    They thought they had topping but not breeching.

    MayBee (c5700f)

  80. Esquirerumson:

    You say that overtopping “inevitably” causes breaching.

    The Federation of American Scientists disagrees.

    Can you please tell us your civil-engineering credentials that make you an expert on the structural engineering of New Orleans’ levees?

    I would appreciate knowing what degrees in CE you have, where you earned them, what work you have done on the structural integrity of levees and dams, and specifically, what studies you have led on the levee system in New Orleans.

    Please include at least a representative sample of your publications in refereed journals of civil engineering and hydrology.

    Thanks,

    Dafydd

    Dafydd (6e94cd)

  81. “The first part of creating a mass movement is the mythic idea.. We put the myth out there that America was in chaos. America was not in chaos. … When 100,000 people marched on the Pentagon in 1967, we put out the myth that America was divided in two. America was not divided in two. But we put the myth out there and what happened, by ’69, ’70, America was divided in two.” – Jerry Rubin

    (What liberal media?

    / s)

    . (fc515f)

  82. “illegal war”
    “Bush lies”
    “Castro is wonderful”

    blubonnet is really one of those autogenerated Leftist talking-point bots, right?

    Darleen (f20213)

  83. If you claim that only a weak connection exists between topping and breaching, please explain why Mayfield expressed the idea that topping was a matter of “very, very grave concern.”

    Umm, maybe because, even without a breach, topping will flood low-lying lands and put a lot of people at risk?

    Forget it. You’re proving my point again. The President didn’t say what you wanted him to say, so you’re just going to mischaracterize what he said so as to make it a lie. You’re going to argue from specific to general, you’re going to quote out of context, you’re going to quote selectively, and you’re going to attack the character of anyone who disagrees with you, because that’s what it takes to maintain your delusion.

    Martin L. Shoemaker (9dba84)

  84. Commenters might find this article, written one year prior to Katrina, interesting.

    http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/o/nov04/nov04c.html

    I live on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. In past years, we have witnessed the levees on the south shore overtopping during severe storms and I don’t recall levee breaching as a resulting.

    As one who is living through this history, I’d like to add: finger-pointing , namecalling and blaming is NOT getting us anywhere. It doesn’t further the solutions; it only extends the length of time to gain political points and posturing.

    Meanwhile, we down here are taking it day by day and working toward rebuilding a better city. I am sorry if some people think New Orleans is filled with nothing but corrupt leaders, welfare slackers, criminals and partyers. Some of us actually work.

    ReNew Orleans

    Chris Teague (698789)

  85. sharon, if you for one minute expect to participate in a rational, facts-oriented, logical argument with blu, think again. I commend your attempt at civil discourse but if you expect a serious intellectual exchange, well … blu prefers unsubstantiated allegations, conspiracy theories, inuendo and ad hominem to logical analysis of facts.

    Harry Arthur (40c0a6)

  86. Good luck, Chris Teague.

    MayBee (c5700f)

  87. maybee: “Nobody talked about the possibility of a levee breach or failure until after it happened”

    I would be glad to describe how I interpret those words, but first I’d appreciate you letting us know where you found them. I looked around, and found them nowhere.

    “I have no idea what the ‘these particular conditions’ might be in your first example about ANOTHER levee.”

    I think you mean “existing conditions” (see #78, paragraph #4). It doesn’t hurt your credibility when you quote carelessly.

    Aside from that, you don’t need to know anything about the “existing conditions.” Here’s the quote: “A major flood under existing conditions would overtop Forest Lake Dam and Lake Katherine Dam. The high water velocities would erode the downstream faces of both dams causing them to fail.”

    The writer is indicating that “existing conditions,” if there is a flood, would lead to overtopping. Then it is overtopping that would cause failure. The writer does not say “overtopping, under existing conditions, would lead to failure.” That is a different statement from what is actually said, which amounts to this: “existing conditions could lead to overtopping. Once there is overtopping, there will be failure.”

    In other words, the “existing conditions” would be relevant if we were having an argument about whether or not overtopping is likely to occur. We’re not. We’re having an argument about the likelihood that overtopping will lead to breaching.

    Anyway, the point of this citation is not to suggest that the two situations are identical in every way. The point of this citation is to indicate that it is commonly understood that overtopping leads to failure.

    “It’s only inevitable under the right conditions, and the conditions are obviously 100% there if it happened.”

    I think you’re confused. Your statement implies that 100% of the time that a levee is breached, the cause was overtopping. No one is claiming that (until you, inexplicably, just now). In other words, you’re the one that has it “exactly backwards.”

    “Does that mean everytime someone drives in the rain their car will skid- or everytime a car skids on wet pavement they will die?”

    Of course not. But your analogy is silly. For you to say “everytime someone drives in the rain their car will skid” is the equivalent of me saying “every time it rains, the levee will be overtopped.” Obviously I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is more like this: once your car is in a real skid (i.e., once a levee is overtopped in a substantive, non-trivial manner) it is reasonable to predict that your car will come to a stop only upon striking a solid object. In other words, there is a powerful causal relationship between A (skidding) and B (striking a solid object).

    Our host is suggesting that it’s “dishonest in the extreme” to acknowledge this powerful causal relationship. That’s nonsense, and it’s dishonest in the extreme.

    Here’s another analogy. Let’s say I have a huge party, and I make sure that every single guest is extremely drunk before I hand them the car keys and send them home. Can I be sure someone will die? Of course not. But if someone dies, a rational, honest person would not pretend to be surprised (and a pretense of surprise is the essence of Bush’s “no one” anticipated remark). A rational personal would not deny the powerful causal relationship between A and B. It would be “dishonest in the extreme” to deny that relationship. Trouble is, denying that causal relationship is exactly what the usual gang of Bush cultists is doing.

    “We have not breached the levee at this point in time.” (Emphasis added.)

    No one is claiming that overtopping causes breaching instantly. Yes, overtopping can occur without breaching, but not for long.

    My gravity example is a little extreme because it implies instantaneity. My key point is not instantaneity, it’s inevitability.

    Here’s a different example, at the other extreme of the time scale. If you smoke 10 packs a day, this will kill you. You can say “look at me, I’m not dead yet” (which is similar to Blanco saying “at this point in time”), but you will be dead, soon enough. My point is the inevitability.

    If you suddenly quit, will you still die? Maybe not. If the overtopping suddenly stopped, for some magical reason, would breaching still occur? Maybe not. But the problem with overtopping is that once it starts, there is a very natural tendency (barring a miracle) for it to keep going.

    “they thought they had topping but not breeching.”

    This is a separate point, but we now know that Blanco was simply wrong. By the way, I have never claimed that Blanco (or Nagin, for that matter) is anything other than an idiot.

    esquirerumson (b6b500)

  88. Daffyd: “The Federation of American Scientists disagrees.”

    Making a sweeping statement without lifting a finger to cite specifics is highly typical for you. If you’re referring to the material mentioned in #77, I addressed it in #78.

    “tell us your civil-engineering credentials”

    Comprehending the very simple language in the numerous citations I’ve provided doesn’t require “civil-engineering credentials.” It does require common sense, however, and your impairment in that area is obvious.

    esquirerumson (b6b500)

  89. martin: “maybe because, even without a breach, topping will flood low-lying lands and put a lot of people at risk?”

    Sorry, I don’t buy it. I would appreciate a reference to any authority who suggested (before, during or after) that if the levees had been only overtopped, but not breached, that this would have “put a lot of people at risk,” and been a matter of “very, very grave concern.”

    If levees somehow manage to not be breached, but are only overtopped, that means, by definition, that the water available for flooding is relatively limited, and there is a natural tendency for the flooding to stop. This is because once water runs over the wall, the water level behind the wall drops to the level of the wall, which means that water is no longer running over the wall. That’s what happens in the imaginary world that our host et al inhabit, where overtopping and breaching are entirely unrelated phenomena.

    In the real world, these phenomena have a causal relationship, which means that the first substantial flow of water over the wall immediately begins to erode and scour the dirt at the base of the wall, which immediately begins to weaken the wall. As the wall tilts, moves and cracks, more water begins to run under, through, and over it. In other words, there is a self-perpetuating process. In the real world, there is a natural tendency for the flooding to accelerate, once the threshold of overtopping has been reached.

    “you’re just going to mischaracterize what he said … You’re going to argue from specific to general, you’re going to quote out of context, you’re going to quote selectively”

    English translation: “I can’t counter you with facts, so I’m going to make a bunch of vague accusations without lifting a finger to substantiate them.”

    In other words, that laundry list of accusations doesn’t mean much if you can’t be bothered to provide a single example.

    esquirerumson (b6b500)

  90. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11643327/

    It doesn’t hurt your credibility when you quote carelessly.
    Thanks. That means a lot coming from you.

    What I’m saying is more like this: once your car is in a real skid …it is reasonable to predict that your car will come to a stop only upon striking a solid object. In other words, there is a powerful causal relationship between A (skidding) and B (striking a solid object).

    And your reasonable prediction about the car is again a poor prediction. A skidding car can stop due to friction from the brakes, from the pavement, loss of momentum, coming across a dry patch…any number of things other than a solid object can make your car stop. The skidding car MAY lead to striking a solid object, but there is no inevitability and not even a definite probability.

    No one is claiming that overtopping causes breaching instantly. Yes, overtopping can occur without breaching, but not for long.

    Careful, that term ‘no one’ will turn you into a liar. So not instantly but not for long. Sounds very sciency.

    MayBee (c5700f)

  91. Speaking of “dishonest in the extreme,” it is indeed dishonest in the extreme that the righty bloggers making a giant fuss about this overtop/breach nonsense (Hinderaker, Ed Morrisey, our host and many others) do not drop even the slightest hint that there is undeniably a powerful causal relationship between overtopping and breaching.

    Even if one asserts that the relationship is not perfect 100% inevitability, no rational, well-informed person can pretend that there is not a powerful causal relationship. Yet all the people I mentioned drop not even the slightest clue that there is any causal relationship whatsoever. This would be like talking about drunk driving and wrecked cars, and pretending that there is no relationship, and that the former does not inevitably lead, sooner or later, to the latter. And especially in the absence of updates and corrections on this point, the conclusion is inescapable: these people intend to mislead, not inform.

    esquirerumson (b6b500)

  92. maybee, thanks for the Mayfield citation. That’s helpful. Here’s my interpretation: Mayfield has come to his senses and remembered that Bush, ultimately, is the person who signs his paycheck. And maybe he had some help remembering this, in the form of a phone call from someone who got a phone call from someone who got a phone call from Rove.

    Mayfield still needs to explain why overtopping, in the absence of breaching, would be a matter of “very, very grave concern.”

    “Nobody talked about the possibility of a levee breach or failure until after it happened.”

    Maybe no one mentioned it explicitly because it was so obvious. “People only talked about the fact that Harry was about to jump off the roof. No one was talking about the fact that he was going to strike the ground at high speed, ending his life. That latter reality was only discussed after it happened.”

    “That means a lot coming from you.”

    You quoted carelessly. I proved it. Now you are suggesting that I have done the same. Proof, please.

    “The skidding car MAY lead to striking a solid object, but there is no inevitability and not even a definite probability.”

    No analogy is perfect. The likelihood of any outcome is a continuum, from 0% to 100%. As I’ve pointed out, our host et al are acting as if the causal relationship between overtopping and breaching is 0%. In other words, they’re acting as if the phenomena are entirely separate and independent. That’s utter nonsense.

    “Careful, that term ‘no one’ will turn you into a liar.”

    Only if you can find someone who seriously claims that “overtopping causes breaching instantly.” I’ll be waiting patiently.

    Anyway, that wouldn’t prove I’m a liar. It would only prove I made a mistake. To prove I’m a liar, you’d have to show that an authority has said to me that “overtopping causes breaching instantly.”

    Bush didn’t just make a mistake. Bush lied. The difference is that Mayfield did not just make a statement. Mayfield made a statement to Bush.

    esquirerumson (b6b500)

  93. Overtopping can and sometimes does cause breaching, however, it isn’t the inevitable or even most likely result. That depends on the specifics.

    NOLA’s problems were well known and long ignored, by municipal authorities and by state government. Anyone aware of the situation knew that eventually a storm would cause the levee system to fail.

    Mayor Ray Nagin and Governor Kathleen Blanco gambled that once again NO would dodge Katrina’s bullet. They fiddled while NO flooded.

    Black Jack (d8da01)

  94. esquirerumson:

    But the problem with overtopping is that once it starts, there is a very natural tendency (barring a miracle) for it to keep going.

    That’s nonsense … who has no relationship with common sense. A twenty foot high flood wall would be overtopped if the water level goes above twenty feet. But the overtopping would stop the instant the water level falls below twenty feet. It would NOT keep going. That’s simple science (and common sense) – not a miracle.

    But it’s obvious that you’re a master of conflation and lies of omission. It is undoubtedly true that overtopping can lead to a breach. But you consistently neglect some pertinent factors – because they do not support your argument; time and the volume of water flowing over the flood wall.

    Given enough time, even a CAT 1 hurricane can cause a breach in a CAT 5 levee, without the levees being overtopped even once. The CAT 1 hurricane may have to rage for a long time but eventually, it would breach any levee.

    Secondly, a specific volume of water per unit inch/meter/etc. is necessary to be flowing consistently over the levee for overtopping to result in a breach within a particular amount of time. i.e. for levee A to be breached in one hour as a direct result of overtopping, an average of X feet of water must be flowing over its ramparts within that period of time.

    Capiche?

    Furthermore, just because a CAT 3 levee is not designed to prevent overtopping in a CAT 5 hurricane does NOT mean it would be breached in a CAT 5 hurricane. Overtopping and Breaching may have a relationship but they are two distinct things.

    Levee A could be made of the toughest of materials, be three hundred feet thick and have foundations going 100 feet into the ground. But if it is just twenty feet high, then it would be overtopped if the water level rises to twenty-five feet. But for the levee to be breached as a result of this overtopping could easily mean that the water level has to remain above twenty feet for years.

    Let me take the time to note here that the New Orleans levees that failed were certified as CAT 3 levees but have since been determined to have been chock-full of design and construction errors, i.e. shallow foundations, inferior materials, etc.

    Either way, even if it would take less than ten minutes for a CAT 4 hurricane to overtop a CAT 3 levee, it may take two years for a CAT 5 to breach that same levee.

    In other words, esquirenumbskull, for you to be taken seriously, you have to prove that it was considered even a remote possibility prior to its making landfall that Katrina (in terms of its strength and longevity) met the conditions necessary to not only overtop the New Orleans’ levees concerned, but to breach them.

    Don’t hurt yourself, okay?

    Martin A. Knight (d769dc)

  95. […] Oh, do go and read Patterico, but then save some time for the comments thread at Jeff’s place, since 1) that’s where my title for this post came from, and 2) it’s great sport watching those who are personally invested in believing in “correct think,” at least as foisted by the media, sullenly lower their heads and push along, undeterred by fact, logic or reason. […]

    Neptunus Lex » Topping in a time of breaches (f67377)

  96. Oh My God ! IF the amount of energy being spent pointing fingers was channelled into rebuilding the hurricane devastated areas – they would be rebuilt and done! As a Californian with a multi-mulit generational familial historical outlook – a devasting earthquake does not frighten me. It is the panic-y response by all the “urban” californians who will be running around like over-sized infants whining and pointing to their open mouths. My neighbors and I will take care of one another – as we have in the past and will in the future. Loot or make trouble and we will shoot you dead.

    Katrina was an example of local government collapsing. So by all means keep supporting it so as to “hurt” a national government you don’t particularlly like. Local government to Feds: “You can’t tell us what to do! You aren’t our “masters”!!” Local government after their own collapse “Help me, help me! Why aren’t you telling me what to do!! Damn you, I say take over our lives you distant and uncaring Federal government!!” On a strictly governing level – this whole debacle has been HILARIOUS!!!

    Californio (5cdb2c)

  97. jack: “Overtopping can and sometimes does cause breaching, however, it isn’t the inevitable or even most likely result. That depends on the specifics.”

    Baumy’s words are sufficient to show that given the “specifics” of this situation, there was a very powerful causal relationship between topping and breaching. If you think you can apply some other intepretation to his words, you should show us how you do that.

    esquirerumson (b6b500)

  98. mak: “A twenty foot high flood wall would be overtopped if the water level goes above twenty feet. But the overtopping would stop the instant the water level falls below twenty feet. It would NOT keep going.”

    Baumy addresses this exact point (and the point is also addressed in various other resources I’ve cited). He was asked why there was no “concrete apron over the earthen part, to guard against that [scouring and erosion].” In the presence of a concrete apron, or other similar measures, you’d be right. The overflow would bounce off the apron and the dirt below would be protected from scouring and erosion, and the wall would remain stable. But for various reasons (cost, presumably), there was no such apron. Therefore it was essential to avoid overtopping.

    “It is undoubtedly true that overtopping can lead to a breach.”

    It’s nice that you’re willing to make that grudging acknowledgement. It’s a shame that the various righty bloggers I’ve mentioned lack the intellectual honesty to take even that small step. On the contrary: they imply that overtopping and breaching are totally independent, and that the former does not lead to the latter. That’s “dishonest in the extreme.”

    “Given enough time, even a CAT 1 hurricane can cause a breach in a CAT 5 levee, without the levees being overtopped even once. The CAT 1 hurricane may have to rage for a long time but eventually, it would breach any levee.”

    First of all, it’s not clear why this statement matters, or how it undermines any assertion I’ve made. Secondly, I doubt it. In the absence of proof on this point, your casual speculaton (masquerading as a factual statement) is not impressive.

    Please explain why your statement is true, or show proof that there is some authority who shares your belief.

    “a specific volume of water per unit inch/meter/etc. is necessary to be flowing consistently over the levee for overtopping to result in a breach”

    That statement is obviously true, and I have no problem with that statement. I realize magnitude matters, which is why I pointed out that a duck splashing is not going to wreck a levee. But the kind of overtopping that occurs in a major storm will.

    “just because a CAT 3 levee is not designed to prevent overtopping in a CAT 5 hurricane does NOT mean it would be breached in a CAT 5 hurricane”

    The primary issue is not regarding CAT 3 vs CAT 5. The primary issue is whether or not overtopping occurs (which of course is more likely in a more severe storm). Once overtopping occurs, breaching is just a matter of time, and perhaps a very short period of time.

    “Overtopping and Breaching may have a relationship but they are two distinct things.”

    I have acknowledged that they are “two distinct things.” The problem is that people who get all their information from Hinderaker and Morrisey have no way of knowing that these two distinct things “have a relationship.”

    Incidentally, your reluctance to get friendly with the truth is revealed in your phrase “may have a relationship.” That’s like saying cigarettes and lung cancer “may have a relationship.” No one who’s not on the Philip Morris payroll talks that way.

    “Levee A could be made of the toughest of materials … But for the levee to be breached as a result of this overtopping could easily mean that the water level has to remain above twenty feet for years.”

    It is indeed possible to design a levee that can sustain overtopping (I again remind you to look at Baumy’s transcript, in particular the portion where he is asked about a concrete apron), and not be breached. But such levees mostly exist only in some imaginary world. What you have offered is not a description of the actual levees that were protecting NO.

    “the New Orleans levees that failed were certified as CAT 3 levees but have since been determined to have been chock-full of design and construction errors, i.e. shallow foundations, inferior materials, etc.”

    I have no argument with that assertion, just as I have no argument with the assertion that Blanco and Nagin are idiots.

    It is indeed very important to understand that these levees were fragile. Baumy essentially admitted that they were explicitly designed to sustain no overtopping whatsoever.

    “even if it would take less than ten minutes for a CAT 4 hurricane to overtop a CAT 3 levee, it may take two years for a CAT 5 to breach that same levee.”

    Again, you’re making a point about some theoretical levee existing in an imaginary world, where the levee is designed to resist overtopping indefinitely. You’ve indicated yourself that such a levee is exactly what NO did not have.

    “prove that it was considered even a remote possibility … that Katrina … [could] not only overtop the New Orleans’ levees concerned, but to breach them.”

    Baumy has essentially told us that these levees were designed to resist no overtopping whatsoever. That’s precisely why Mayfield treated topping as a matter of “very, very grave concern.” What else do you need to know?

    Let me remind of just one the citations I’ve referenced (directly or indirectly). Long before before the storm, COE said that “overtopping of a levee could be catastrophic.” Why would overtopping be considered “catastrophic” unless it was understood that it would lead to breaching?

    esquirerumson (b6b500)

  99. Dana – re. #57, my apologies. I took your previous comment as a libertarian-style “it is illegitimate for the government to be doing this”, not as a “it is legitimate for the government ot be doing this, but I think it is a wrong choice for it to do so.” I’m prone to that particular overreaction.

    I don’t have a good answer for your question. My instinctive response boils down along the following lines:

    a) for certain of these high-risk cities, the country’s economy as a whole benefits from the city being there, and so the risk will be assumed by people who don’t live there but derive economic benefits, whether or not the state steps in to help socialize the risk. (New Orleans is a good example of this; while it is less important than it used to be, a port at the conjunction of the Mississippi and the Gulf was for a long time essential to our economy).
    b) there is a degree to which rational people discount high-value tiny-frequency risks. If i’m killed by a falling meteor, I lose everything — but the likelihood is so tiny that I don’t worry about it. I suspect that for most people, the risk of total destruction of the town they live in falls into the category of “so unlikely that I’m not going to worry about it”.

    To the extent that the latter is true, state involvement is the only way to go — the state becomes, at that point, the only actor involved which is capable of hedging that risk. I am aware that this carries with it a “moral hazard” that state hedging of the risk will encourage more people to live there than otherwise might. But, fundamentally, that’s no different than the state trucking water hundreds of miles around for the benefit of the people who live at the destination; and that’s a well-accepted province of state action.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  100. esquirerumson, et al,

    I’m a civil engineer/hydrologist, though I don’t have a specialty in soils. (I’m not a PE yet either, though I’m taking the test this April).

    I read through the arguments you linked to provided by egbooth.

    IMO, I believe he was basin his opinions on early analysis (and at one point, quoted the analysts saying, “we believe” – as opposed to “we know”.)

    The most recent analysis I have seen (the best coverage seems to be in the Times-Picayune), says that the levees were never overtopped. What happened, in the case of at least one levee breach, was that during the design phase, drawings representing the soil types were improperly transferred from the boring logs to the design drawings. This resulted in the footings of the wall being placed at an inadequate depth (they should have been placed deeper).

    What happened next is the soils beneath the levee, over time, became saturated. In their saturated state, they were unable to support the loading the levee wall placed on the soil. The soil went into a state of liquefaction – essentially quicksand – where it acts as a liquid instead of a solid.

    When the soils could no longer structurally support the wall, the wall collapsed. The evident erosion is caused by the breach. Erosion due to overtopping would not be significant unless the overtopping was, say, greater than 1′ for an extended period of time, say, 2 hours+. (Off the cuff guess).

    If overtopping had happened, and it was significant, we would see erosive evidence along nearly every levee – it would not be limited to areas within 25′ +/- of the breach occurances.

    I do appreciate your argument though – you’re arguing from the best facts available.

    Unfortunately, the combination of ignorance on the part of the media about what they’re covering and their desire to “get somebody” (the MSM paradigm – we’re going to take xxx down) results in the shoddy reporting that leaves people mis-informed.

    Check out the latest Popular Mechanics mag for some followup – they debunk most of the Katrina myths that the media perpetrated on us.

    From everything I’ve seen, there were zero positive outcomes from actions taken by local and state gov’t in Louisianna, and many negative outcomes. There were however, some federal gov’t successes.

    Local gov’t – failed to evacuate ‘at-risk’ population, was unaware of local conditions (Nagin perpetrated rumors, Blanco was unaware of levee breaches and telling the President that 3 hours after the levees breached), refused to federalize control, turned back FEMA and Red Cross supplies which were headed towards the SuperDome and the Convention Center – two evacuation centers established by local gov’t which they did not supply with any supplies themselves, and were actually unaware that there were even evacuees at the convention center (for a time).

    Meanwhile, the Feds improved their response time from the previous worst hurricane (Andrew) by two days (40% – from 5 to 3), had some rescue units on site in NOLA within 2 hours after the storm passed, executing helicopter evacuations, responded to a much larger impact area (an area the size of the entire country of England), and tried to respond to unfactual reporting being done by the MSM, straining resources and diverting resources from areas of need.

    Long story short – a) there will never be a ‘perfect’ response, and b) this was an error 20-30+ years in the making, based on the design errors when the levees were originally built.

    NED

    NewEnglandDevil (cc6b20)

  101. NK – re #71, while it may be true that we could build ten ports elsewhere on the gulf for the cost of rebuilding NOLA, it is also true that those ports would not be on the Mississippi. Much of the value of the Port comes from its location and the conjunction of the waters.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  102. Sharon – re #60, are you aware of any statistical studies which indicate that liberals are more likely to conflate the two than conservatives are? Conflation of deliberate lying and making a mistake is incredibly common whenever you are interacting with people whom you are predisposed not to trust, and i’ve seen both leftists and rightists do it.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  103. Martin – re #96, thank you for a cogent analysis of the issue.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  104. I suppose I could add, as a followup, that overtopping DOES NOT lead inevitably to a breach. In many instances, we actually design for overtopping – these are called weirs. Also, Dams are also designed for overtopping. Some dams have continuous overtopping, some dams have overtopping at a spillway, but it would not be out of the question to design a dam to handle a certain depth of overtopping for a specified period of time.

    Anywho…

    NED

    NewEnglandDevil (cc6b20)

  105. Why would overtopping be considered “catastrophic” unless it was understood that it would lead to breaching?

    Are you actually suggesting that water flooding in from an overtopped levee is a minor issue? I would assume that water overtopping a levee even if there is no possibility of a breach would always be a disaster.

    Is that really your argument? That just because the people you’ve cited stated that water overtopping the levee would be a disaster (“very, very grave concern”), they must (absolutely mustabsolutely no other possible meaning) have been saying that the levee would collapse? How come I can find not a single person using the word “breach”?

    You’ve indicated yourself that such a levee is exactly what NO did not have.

    Yep … but we only found out that the levees were built wrong and did not deserve their CAT 3 certification after Katrina. Back then, no-one had the benefit of hindsight. Everybody believed that NO had proper CAT 3 levees and plans were built around that erroneous belief.

    Secondly, I doubt it. In the absence of proof on this point, your casual speculaton (masquerading as a factual statement) is not impressive.

    Erosion. Look it up. Flowing water (scour included) would erode anything. Even concrete. That’s why even if floodwalls have never been overtopped or come face with a hurricane, they’re constantly being re-enforced. You really need to sit down with a Civil Engineer and/or Hydrologist to get your facts some proper context.

    And finally, none of your cites do anything to prove that anybody believed that Hurricane Katrina (given it’s size, strength and longevity) could cause such severe enough overtopping that it would compromise the integrity of the well-designed and well-constructed CAT 3 levees New Orleans was believed to have had, that they would be breached.

    All you have going for you is that people said it would be a disaster if it is overtopped. From that you leapt to the conclusion, without them ever saying it, or arguably even implying it, that they must, absolutely must have meant that the levees would be breached. As if thousands of tons of water flooding into a city from overtopped canal walls was not something to be worried about.

    In fact, I suggest we e-mail Baumy and ask him specifically if the levees/canal walls would have been breached if they had actually been built and designed to their CAT 3 certification. Let’s get a clear answer (not just your frankly wierd interpretation), shall we?

    Martin A. Knight (d769dc)

  106. Once overtopping occurs, breaching is just a matter of time, and perhaps a very short period of time.

    True.

    Now let’s go ask Baumy the volume of water that would need to overtop a well-designed and well-constructed CAT 3 levee/canal wall and over what period of time it would need to keep overtopping said levee before it collapses.

    If this threshold is above that of Hurricane Katrina in terms volume of water or the amount of time necessary for the actual volume of water that did overtop the levee/canal wall, then we can all agree that you’ve been talking out your a** …

    Martin A. Knight (d769dc)

  107. Your unsubstantiated declaration is a waste of innocent electrons if you’re not willing to lift a finger to present any substantive counterargument to the evidence presented here.

    Instead of linking to a discussion thread with about 500 posts as your “evidence”, why don’t you summarize exactly how you conclude Bush lied about whether he thought the levees would break. I assume it’s because you don’t actually have any logical basis for such a conclusion. A discussion thread is not evidence.

    Gerald A (fe1f90)

  108. Esquirerumson:

    Comprehending the very simple language in the numerous citations I’ve provided doesn’t require “civil-engineering credentials.” It does require common sense, however, and your impairment in that area is obvious.

    All right; I will take this as an admission that you have, in fact, no engineering credentials whatsoever. And therefore, there is no reason to pay any attention to any proclamation you make about civil engineering topics — such as that overtopping always leads to breach.

    Since we also have testimony from at least one resident of New Orleans that those particular levees had overtopped in the past, yet had not breached, I have to say that pretty much puts the nail in your coffin on this issue.

    Adios.

    Dafydd

    Dafydd (6e94cd)

  109. Personally, I’m with the civil engineer on this one regarding the mechanics of the levee breaches. Great analysis NED (#102 & 106).

    I’d also argue that Bush’s statement that “no one anticipated the breach of the levees” was also entirely and obviously correct. Certainly the local mayor and LA governor had no such anticipation or they clearly would have mandated an early evacuation, as Bush encouraged them to do so prior to landfall.

    I guess we’re to the point in our “national discourse” that we feel we have to parse every word of the chief executive to find some hidden meaning, half-truth or sinister motive, when perhaps just taking the statement in its normal context should be adequate to understand that the president said what we meant in clear language understandable to the average citizen.

    The bottom line is that there is adequate blame to be shared at every governmental level from the mayor of NO, to the governor of LA, to the president thanks to both inadequate planning and equally poor execution at each of these levels. Arguing over the definition of “topping” and “breaching”, which leads to which, which guarantees which, which may lead to which, etc, etc, just about ends up being the equivalent of picking fly poop out of pepper. Great fun, very interesting, but one has to ask the obvious question: “So what?” Is there something to be learned from this? Are we ready for the next terrorist attack? Doubtful.

    Arguing that Bush was on a five week vacation, and was therefore disengaged from the process is just vacuous nonsense. No president is ever truly “on vacation” as even the latest videos clearly show. Furthermore, the idea that Bush should have come riding in on his white stallion to save the day or to show the world that he “feels your pain” is similarly nonsense. The president has dozens of subordinates who should clearly have been able to handle the situation along the Gulf coast. Whether they did so or not is certainly open to debate.

    Whether Bush chose his subordinates well is also certainly open to debate. Whether the federal government reacted swiftly and appropriately is certainly open to debate. And finally, whether FEMA and the DHS are properly stuctured and manned to react to natural and man-made disasters is certainly open to debate.

    Whether Bush was “on vacation”, whether he was “playing an air guitar” in another state, or whether he decided to read another paragraph of “My Pet Goat” is of no consequence whatsoever to the federal government’s response in this or any other situation.

    Harry Arthur (40c0a6)

  110. It is interesting that Mayor Nagin actually did predict that the levees would “most likely topple” the system of levees and canal walls around New Orleans, according to this WaPo article, which cites a New York Times article wherein Nagin’s prediction is quoted. Does that mean that Bush lied? No but if Bush read the Times or someone advising the President had, Bush could not have honestly said what he did. Strange that it would have been Mayor Nagin that actually did fortell the breach of the levees. Who’d have thought that the guy who couldn’t forsee the need for school buses to evacuate people from his city could forsee the breach that necessitated those buses?

    Craig R. Harnon (6d29d5)

  111. #87–Thanks, Harry Arthur for the insight. I frequently have the bad habit of assuming a logical conversation can be held regardless of the original positions. Periodically, I need someone to smack me upside the head to make me realize which wingnut will drive me crazy with his/her responses. Ok, now I can just ignore Blu & get on with life.

    And I am not sure which one was a commenter living on Lake Ponchitrain, but I wanted to say cheers to you and everyone there struggling to rebuild the area. I work with a woman who was a Katrina refugee & she has told me about the good and the bad of the city. My hope is that the rebuilt NO will be a much nicer place to live.

    #104–Aphrael, you are right to call my bluff. I was specifically thinking of people like Michael Moore who called everything Bush says a “lie.” I do remember quite vividly the anti-Clinton crowd who couldn’t give him any credit, even when he did the right things. But all in all, you are correct that both sides do this a lot. It really angers and frustrates me, though, when something could simply be a mistake but it’s called a “lie.”

    sharon (fecb65)

  112. Sharon – I agree. There’s an old saw about never attributing to malice what could be attributed to incompetence, and I think a weaker version applies here: it’s always better, and likely more accurate, to presume a mistake than a lie. People are generally more likely to make mistakes than they are to be openly dishonest.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  113. Eventually a Democrat will become President again (although, hopefully, not for many decades), and he will do (or not do) something, and it will be regarded as a mistake by his supporters and incompetence by his opponents. We might as well count on that one.

    Dana (9f37aa)

  114. Dana – oh, absolutely. Although I think I was making an equivalence between incompetence and a mistake, and a different equivalent between malice and lies.

    I have no doubt that when President $SOME_DEMOCRAT is in office, there will be Republicans denouncing him as a liar, and many of those who now denounce Bush as a liar will be suggesting $POSSIBLE_LIE would be better interpreted as a mistake.

    And then there will be squishy moderates like me who think both should be interpreted as mistakes. 🙂

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  115. The shame in all of this is that the media-frenzy fed partisan bickering makes people feel all queasy inside when we even hear about Katrina. And not in a ‘I want to donate money and time to help these poor people’ sort of way. Goodwill toward the victims gets sucked into a general Katrina-fatigue vaccuum.
    It could be so different.

    MayBee (c5700f)

  116. Speaking of moderates, this video has caused The Moderate Voice, one of the most vehement blogs in its criticisms during Katrina, to apologize to Michael Brown. Mr. Brown has apparently accepted the apology.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  117. First, I was not being “dishonest” in misidentifying Max Mayfield as a TV weatherman; I simply made a mistake. Instead, you made your snarky claim (that I was being “dishonest,” which evidently nullifies the points somehow) on another blog

    So by this logic if the LA Times implies, at best, that the president was warned about the possiblitiy of a levy breech (something you would hope he/his staff already knew since the levies were built to withstand a category 3 hurricane and when the briefing took place Katrina was a category 4)and it is just a mistake, shouldn’t we give the paperthe benefit of the doubt. Afterall the headline merely states “Bush was warned on Katrina in Video” which is absolutely true. The passage this blog’s host is so upset with doesn’t say ‘President told levies would fail and the city would flood’. It states the president was told that director of the Hurrican Center was very concerned with the levys ability to stand up to the storm. This is also absolutely true. So no where in the article is there a lie. Sure the reporter could have worded the offending sentence better. Probably just an honest mistake that we all make sometimes. Like thinking the current president would want to include his favorite tv weatherman in a secure briefing about and impending disaster so the weatherman could break down the results of the forcasting models and flooding simulations into concepts he could understand.

    chocolat (0ce116)

  118. aphrael, There’s an old saw about never attributing to malice what could be attributed to incompetence, and I think a weaker version applies here: it’s always better, and likely more accurate, to presume a mistake than a lie. People are generally more likely to make mistakes than they are to be openly dishonest.

    I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment in your statement, whether we are talking about Bush, Clinton, or even the next Clinton co-presidency. Another point I’d like to add is that to accurately brand an incorrect statement a lie one must either be privy to the mindset and motivation of the “liar” (mind reading skills), or provide convincing proof that the “liar” clearly understood that the statement was false, meant it to be false and intended to deceive with the false statement. For that matter, even a precisely true statement, can be considered a lie if delivered with the intent to deceive in a deceptive context. Remember the parsing of “… the meaning of is”?

    It is generally fairly easy to demonstrate a statement to be false, a much higher level of proof to demonstrate it to be a lie. Of course in this case, I have previously suggested that we have yet to cross the first barrier, let alone the latter. I’ll also add that Bush’s choice of words is fairly often, to be charitable, less than optimum, providing ample opportunity for detractors to find fault with his factual accuracy. That’s not entirely unfair on their part, depending of course on their mindset and motivation.

    Bush is arguably most often guilty of the “Reaganesque” tendency toward speaking too simply about complex facts or subjects while failing to understand that the lack of precision in the simple explanation opens him to such criticism. I would describe his speaking style, his father’s and Reagan’s, as sort of “bumper stickerish” simple and straightforward. I consider it to be a valid criticism that he is all too often imprecise with facts. I consider it an invalid criticism to leap immediately to the “Bush is a liar” ad hominem, often amounting to nothing more than a mind reading exercise.

    If we are to accomplish anything at all in the political arena, both sides of the isle must relearn the ability to disagree strongly on the facts, problems and solutions without demonizing the other. Sometimes we just see things differently and need to have a good strong civil debate to attempt to resolve our differences. Failing that, sometimes we’ll just have to go with the majority opinion. I believe that’s how our system is designed to work.

    Harry Arthur (b318a5)

  119. No analogy is perfect.

    And this arguably renders argument from analogy a generally poor form of argument. Analogies are sometimes valuable for illustration but should be used very sparingly if at all. I found the preponderance of the analogies suggested above to be unconvincing and generally over-reaching. I believe that the fact that we spent a fair amount of time arguing over the analogies rather than the facts illustrates my point.

    If I understand the convention wisdom on the subject, it is generally agreed by the civil engineering experts that the levee/seawall breeches were predominantly due to engineering and design failures combined with decades of neglect. In this case we had the “perfect storm” in the engineering sense as very accurately detailed by NED. This does illustrate the need for professional oversight of the manner in which our precious tax dollars are spent on projects such as these levees.

    Perhaps the press can spend some time investigating this aspect of this disaster as opposed to “picking fly poop out of pepper” analyses of what the weatherman said to Bush and whether Bush subsequently “lied”. They might spend some time in NO educating themselves and then proceed to California where the extensive levee system is in a sorry state of repair and easily as potentially dangerous to the citizenry.

    Finally, one of the primary reasons for the flooding and hurricane damage has nothing at all to do with the levees and everything to do with the destruction of the natural barriers to hurricane generated water surges – the marshlands and barrier islands. Every mile of natural marsh/barrier island can reduce a hurricane generated ocean surge by something like one foot, yet the marshlands have been neglected for decades to the point where we have come to rely on man-made barriers now demonstrably shown to be inadequate to the task.

    Harry Arthur (b318a5)

  120. If given a guess as to whether Bush lied or was in error, I’ve taken note that the liklihood of him lying is much more a given. There ‘s dozens of professionals in the government and the military that will attest to that. Look it up if you doubt it. If you still think Bush has any honor, you are in the 34% minority, and you are also delusional. Bush is a liar! He is sociopathic as well. It is sad that you guys are so unaware of what is going on. You appear to be co-dependents of the Republican party. Excuse yet another horrific catastophe killing over a thousand, but a couple thousand are still missing, most likely dead by now, being unaccounted for, and you guys are falling all over yourselves apologizing for the criminality of either error or neglect. If he murdered a family member of yours, you’d probably say he didn’t mean it. Astonishing! Him being a Republican is all that matters to you, therefore, “He must have just made an honest mistake”. He is detriment to humanity, and the rest of the planet knows it. Every country except China where they will be shot if they do it, protests his presence in massive marches, some in the millions in one march, expressing disgust at him even being in their country. When are you people going to realize he and his cabal make the mafia look like choir boys?

    blubonnet (dc52ec)

  121. Governor ‘Firing Blancos’

    The news today comes as no surprise to me, but may indeed burst the bubble of many an aspiring President Bush basher. New tapes have come to light and this is indeed not good news for the left’s angry rants:

    All Things Beautiful (72c8fd)

  122. I usually try to answer everyone who addresses me. At the moment, time does not allow that, but I want to generally acknowledge various helpful and interesting remarks that at the moment I can’t address individually.

    Here is a remark that I do want to address individually, because it sort of goes to the heart of the matter:

    mak: “none of your cites do anything to prove that anybody believed that Hurricane Katrina … could cause such severe enough overtopping that it would compromise the integrity of the …. levees … that they would be breached.”

    I’m grateful to a helpful poster at CQ who pointed out this article, which was published on Monday, around noon: “computer models suggest that more than 80 percent of buildings would be badly damaged or destroyed, said Ivor van Heerden, deputy director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center and director of the Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes in Baton Rouge. … van Heerden … has studied computer models about the impact of a strong hurricane for four years. … The levees … are vulnerable because they are made of earth … ‘You’re going to have enormous waves develop on that lake’ … Those waves will erode the levees, raising the possibility of their collapse … This is what we’ve been saying has been going to happen for years … Unfortunately, it’s coming true.”

    You’re claiming no one predicted the levees would be breached. Trouble is, this particular expert predicted “collapse.” Are you claiming that “collapse” is significantly different from “breach?”

    I’ve cited this article elsewhere, but I did not highlight this quote: “experts inside and outside New Orleans have said for years that a powerful hurricane could send water surging over the city’s flood walls and earthen berms, and that could cause a breach.” (Emphasis added.)

    By the way, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s misguided to focus too much attention on the words “breach” vs “overtop.” Lots of people have been doing that, including me. I think the focus should be on a broader point, which is the question of whether catastrophic failure of the levees was predicted. In the end the details of how that failure came to pass (overtop, breach, whatever) are secondary to the fact of the failure itself.

    in my opinion, the intent of Bush’s remark was to create the impression that the catastrophic levee failure which occurred was something that no one anticipated. Trouble is, there are numerous indications that various experts did indeed predict catastrophic failure, given a storm as big as Katrina. It’s also my opinion that his statement was specifically designed to get himself off the hook.

    It’s also my opinion that Mayfield’s words (“very, very grave concern”) are an example of an expert warning Bush to his face that catastrophic failure was a distinct possibility. I think all this is sufficient to conclude that Bush lied.

    Those who complain that Mayfield didn’t use the exact same word Bush did (“breach”) are being pedantic. Their position is sort of like claiming that Bush was justified in ignoring the famous PDB because it didn’t give the actual flight numbers and seat numbers the 9/11 hijackers were planning to use.

    esquirerumson (b6b500)

  123. Interesting article in the San Diego Tribune here.

    And of course Bush did “murder” the missing in NO … heh? I guess I’m just being my old obtuse-partisan-right-wing-wacko-Rovian-mind-beam-controlled self again by not seeing this. After all, if there are “dozens of [un-named] professionals in the government and military” asserting that Bush is a sociopathic liar, who am I to disagree? Especially since I’m delusional.

    If I were less mature, I’d say “it takes one to know one” but I’ll refrain.

    Harry Arthur (b318a5)

  124. Those who complain that Mayfield didn’t use the exact same word Bush did (”breach”) are being pedantic. Their position is sort of like claiming that Bush was justified in ignoring the famous PDB because it didn’t give the actual flight numbers and seat numbers the 9/11 hijackers were planning to use.

    Unfortunately, another bad analogy. You can argue the first sentence, and we’ll just have to disagree, as I do with the preponderance of the rest of your post, but your analogy of the “famous PDB” is an argument against an absurdity.

    Harry Arthur (b318a5)

  125. esqrum, from the article you cited I don’t think we had a plan [to address New Orleans levee breaches] because there was no way to predict what happened here,” said Larry Banks, watershed chief for the Corps’ Mississippi Valley Division and a veteran flood fighter. “If there was something that could have been done, I know the Corps would not have sat there and watched something happen that we could prevent.”

    The federal government, along with the state of Louisiana, held an exercise in 2004 – called “Hurricane Pam” – designed to prepare for a disastrous storm hitting and flooding New Orleans.

    But, as the outline for the Pam exercise noted, “For the purpose of this plan it is assumed there are no levee breaches. This is the worst-case situation.”

    During Katrina, that worst case occurred.

    Excellent reference, BTW, but I would respectfully suggest that you are cherry-picking your facts to suit your argument. My reading of the entire article suggests high levels of official ambiguity regarding the potential for toppings and breaches when the real culprit after all was said and done was a decades-old design failure and a general lack of appreciation for the potential for disaster at all levels of government.

    Bush asserted in one of the videos that “we’re ready” because his subordinates assured him that we were. We weren’t, and probably still aren’t should a terrorist attack occur in almost any major city in the country. Bad news. Another bit of bad news was that NO emergency responders couldn’t communicate with each other because they didn’t spend $24 million for the equipment to do so. Why not? It turns out there was some $56 million unspent DHS funds available that NO and LA simply didn’t use.

    If you re-read the article you linked you will also note that apparently FEMA generated the 2004 hurricane study in near record time at least according to the participants. Unfortunately either the lessons were not sufficiently heeded by any of the various levels of government or there was insufficient time to do so prior to Katrina, or some combination of the above.

    In my mind the real lesson here has little to nothing to do with Bush’s veracity or lack thereof, and everything to do with whether we’ve truly learned anything from 9/11 and subsequently Katrina that has actually produced improvement in governmental response, aside from massive waste of DHS dollars on local trinkets having little to do with emergency response. A valid subject for another thread, I trust.

    Harry Arthur (b318a5)

  126. Harry, there are those in the psychiatric field that attest to him being sociopathic. There are those within the government both military and civilian that attest to him being a liar.

    There is even an organization now for whistleblowers that is meant to protect one from the repercussions of merely telling the truth on the lying criminal administration, protecting them from attempts to destroy their lives through demotions or smear campaigns that those in power have been known for. There is quite a list them.

    Sibel Edmonds might be on it. Do you know who she is, Harry? She is a whistleblower who worked for a government intelligence agency (I believe it was the FBI) that told of the pre-knowledge the government had prior to 911. Look her up.

    Or just close your eyes, ask a question and open up your bible. Then, the first thing you read, maybe then you’ll know. After all your logic puts you there, in Evangelical high ground. You got everything figured out, don’t you? Silly professionals in their field, what do they know?

    blubonnet (dc52ec)

  127. in my opinion, the intent of Bush’s remark was to create the impression that the catastrophic levee failure which occurred was something that no one anticipated. Trouble is, there are numerous indications that various experts did indeed predict catastrophic failure, given a storm as big as Katrina. It’s also my opinion that his statement was specifically designed to get himself off the hook.

    Both opinions are fair enough, but they are after all, your opinions. I would simply disagree that you’ve developed a sufficient logical argument that in addition to predictions, that there was any level of general “anticipation” that the levees would fail, resulting in massive irreversable flooding. I would again argue that if there was such general anticipation of levee failure that it certainly didn’t extend to the mayor or governor or their pre-landfall actions should have been radically different.

    I have not changed my opinion that Bush was correct in his assertion that “no one anticipated that the levees would be breached” with all that implies. Your article citation quotes Larry Banks’ comment that “there was no way to predict what happened here”.

    It’s also my opinion that Mayfield’s words (”very, very grave concern”) are an example of an expert warning Bush to his face that catastrophic failure was a distinct possibility. I think all this is sufficient to conclude that Bush lied.

    Nope. Your assertion is not sufficient to conclude that Bush lied. I’ve addressed this argument in detail above. In fact, even subsequent to the breach of the levee/seawalls the governor of the state did not believe there to have been a breach. I would suggest that evidences a mind set that although possible, a breach was not anticipated. And Mayfield, although an expert in hurricane and storm surge prediction is really not qualified to opine on the potential for levee destruction. That is the purvue of the ACOE and their expert indicates that “there was no way to predict what happened here.”

    Harry Arthur (b318a5)

  128. Or just close your eyes, ask a question and open up your bible. Then, the first thing you read, maybe then you’ll know. After all your logic puts you there, in Evangelical high ground. You got everything figured out, don’t you?

    Aren’t we obsessing some here? As I’ve mentioned before, my particular belief system is entireley irrelevant to the quality of any facts I cite or argument I make. Totally. Irrelevant. Whether I’m a christian, buddist, jew, muslim, animist or an atheist or agnostic is. totally. irrelevant. to. the. quality. of. my. argument. and. facts. Should I ever make an argument from the Bible, please feel free to challenge my understanding of the text, my assertion of facts, or my logic. That’s fair, otherwise, it’s irrelevant.

    Cogent thoughts, demonstrable facts, and logical arguments remain my sole concerns. Unsubstantiated allegations, assertions, and inuendo are not helpful in any discussion worthy of consideration.

    Harry, there are those in the psychiatric field that attest to him being sociopathic. There are those within the government both military and civilian that attest to him being a liar.

    And there are also those in the psychiatric field and those within government and the military who believe we have captured alien spacecraft at Area 51, the moon landing was faked, and that we attacked ourselves on 9/11. So?

    Harry Arthur (b318a5)

  129. there are those in the psychiatric field that attest to him being sociopathic

    Blu-leftybot doesn’t give us a link to any such psychiatrist that has personally examined GW and made such a clinical diagnosis.

    Anyone outside that parameter that claims such is in breach of psychiatric ethics and could easily lose their license. Thus, such people in the “psychiatric field” will remain ‘anonymous’.

    Bespeaks volumes of blu-bot.

    Darleen (f20213)

  130. Bushitlerburton Co. must have missed a couple of moonbats on the Blackhawk Gitmo roundup. I guess the domestic spying dissent elimination program isn’t run any better than FEMA. What a pity, these lonnytoons are giving me a headache.

    Faster, please.

    brian (361ba4)

  131. Since Bush is such a piece of work, a phenomenon worthy of study, many professionals (oh they’re full of crap, you would know more than them, huh, Harry?) have written on Bush and his astonishing violations of the law, both nationally and internationally, his blatent disregard for putting honor in his words and deeds, and there was a psychiatrist, having studied him, wrote a book about him, called, BUSH ON THE COUCH. More damning observations of his inhumanity.

    Believe me, I don’t like having to hate my president. I hate what he’s doing to the world. Many innocent men, women and children are being blown up by our bombs. The MSM won’t show it, but our bombs are killing many many more of the innocent Iraqis, than the insurgents are killing of anyone else.

    So, I am angry that you guys by just believing the MSM who most of which own stock in the military industrial complex, are not giving you the whole story.

    Excuse me for being rude. It’s not your fault you don’t know the media consolidation problem, and the stockholding of the war machine within it all. I wish you guys would google up and watch online: ORWELL ROLLS IN HIS GRAVE to understand what I mean.

    Oh, and back to the subject of Katrina, read this letter from Governor Blanco written on August 27th or 28th (?) to Bush.

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1481043/posts

    blubonnet (dc52ec)

  132. Yeah, Brian, that’s the Nazi perspective. Lock up and torture us dissenters. That’s hillarious. Your kind of views is what makes people in other countries find us unworthy of respect these last five years. It’s your kind of reptilian attitude that makes me have to feel shame your type occupy my country. Bush and his way of operating have brought disgrace to the US. I can’t wait for a different occupant of the Whitehouse to reclaim the honor that was once the US of A.

    blubonnet (dc52ec)

  133. […] Power Line takes credit for the clarification, and I think that’s right. Power Line is the first place I saw the point made, and I linked Power Line in my post on the issue, which focused on a related claim made by the L.A. Times. […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » A.P. Corrects Clarifies Levee Story — How About the L.A. Times? (421107)

  134. No wonder the LA Times has become little mor than a morning exercise. If I didn’t have to go downstairs to pick it up every morning, I may not get that added daily workout. I can see no other reason for maintaining my subscription.

    For you, a dog trainer, for me, a morning routine.

    Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest) (d8da01)

  135. I wish to correct something I wrote yesterday.
    >In past years, we have witnessed the levees on the south shore overtopping during severe storms and I don’t recall levee breaching as a resulting.

    The seawalls that are OUTSIDE the levee and that surround the lake on the southshore are what overtopped in recent storms, not the levees themselves (the seawalls on the northshore have as well and caused localized flooding) and I wish to make this clarification and correct my error. I don’t want there to be more disinformation and I regret that I am the cause!

    The levee systems and canals are confusing and I don’t know if any part of them have overtopped in the past. If they indeed have, I will stand recorrected.

    That aside, residents who live along the 17th Street canal breach complained to the Sewage and Water Board long before Katrina that they had standing water on their properties and were told further investigation was required to determine where it was coming from. In this instance, no one informed the Corps of Engineers. Had they done so, one wonders if the pilings would have been inspected and replaced in time to prevent what happened there. It appears that undermining, not overtopping, is the cause of the 17th Street canal breach.

    This breach is only one of the ones that occurred here during Katrina and I don’t know the final cause of the others. I say it like that because unless the final analysis has been released, there are statements from residents who claim to have heard a large explosion, a barge that knocked down a wall, etc. I have lost track at this point in time and await an official final report.

    Chris Teague (698789)

  136. I’m surprised Blu-botsky hasn’t started quoting Chomsky. Yes, he “hates hating America” so much that he spews the venom, cites unnamed ax-grinders as proof that Bush is a sociopath, and claims the U.S. kills more than the terrorists. This is my definition of a patriot, for sure.

    sharon (fecb65)

  137. “I can’t wait for a different occupant of the Whitehouse to reclaim the honor that was once the US of A.”

    Yeah, I know what you mean. I kinda miss those days too when the president could have oral sex in the oval office with an intern. What an honorable time that was.

    bubbaj (b25f95)

  138. LA Times Lies About Bush & Katrina

    Was President Bush warned about the possibility of the New Orlean’s levies being breached, or was he warned about something else, not nearly as disastrous? That’s the question now being asked and answered after the Lefties went wild over the edited v…

    OKIE on the LAM - In LA (e2cef7)

  139. blubonnet,

    You seem to know a lot about psychiatry. Could it be that you have been on a few couches yourself?

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since liberals tend to suffer from depression more than conservatives.

    bubbaj (b25f95)

  140. It appears that undermining, not overtopping, is the cause of the 17th Street canal breach.

    I believe the best information out there is that there was in fact little if any “overtopping” and that the levee/seawall breaches were due to undermining as both Chris and NED have indicated. I’m still looking for the report by the engineering department (Berkeley I think) that is doing the failure analysis.

    In any case, we may have strayed from topic some here.

    Many innocent men, women and children are being blown up by our bombs. The MSM won’t show it, but our bombs are killing many many more of the innocent Iraqis, than the insurgents are killing of anyone else.

    So if this is true, and it’s being suppressed by the government-controlled MSM, I can’t help but wonder, how is it that we know?

    Me too, brian, my nazi brother. Be patient, soon we’ll be able to run the camps again when Bush assumes complete control in January 2009, ushering in the IVth Reich for which we have waited far too long.

    Harry Arthur (b318a5)

  141. Excellent, Harry. My comment was sarcastic, obviuosly. But it proves my point very well. Didn’t take long to get called a reptilian nazi, did it? The fact that you moonbats aren’t intelligent enough to even take a little humor shows how you can’t be trusted to run this nation at all. You don’t know anything about this country except what you read on you fellow idiot’s misspelled protest signs. Why aren’t Nagin and Blanco held to any accountability?
    Because they aren’t Bush, that’s why!

    Where was the Clintoon federal government when all this flood mitigation was being funded? Do you guys know that a La.state office has three people under indictment by the DoJ for misallocating federal flood mitigation funds and obstructing a federal audit of their office?
    Here it is straight off the DoJ website:

    http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/law/news/wdl20041129.html
    November 29, 2004 Press Release

    brian (361ba4)

  142. Notice the date is 2004, before Katrina. The state government is responsible for the shoddy quality of the levees. Any thoeries about how that is really Bushitlerburton at work?

    brian (361ba4)

  143. no. 71, take a look at the map and see how the mississippi river flows. then you will see why there is a new orleans.

    brian (71415b)

  144. 102 new england devil, if you are referring to the 17th st. canal your analysis is basically correct. the army corps has since found that the supports were actually dug deeper than the plans called for. a major factor in that levee breech was that dredging of canal was deeper on the orleans parish side than on the jefferson parish side. that allowed the supports to be undermined on that side only.

    brian (71415b)

  145. Re #134 blubonnet butter:

    You just don’t get it do you? The point of Brian’s comment was that the fact that you aren’t cooling your heels in Gitmo disproves your outrageous claims of Bushitler fascism dominating America.

    Hoystory (449133)

  146. I’m suprised that noone has mentioned the real heroes of Katrina, Adm. Thad Allen, USCG and Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, US Army. These men and those under their command swept in with massive rescue efforts and saved tens of thousands of lives. But they are part of the Bushitlerburton petro-military complex, so screw them and their Commander in Cheif, right blubonet?

    brian (361ba4)

  147. Excellent point, brian.

    Let’s also not forget that the USCG is now part of the DHS. They acquited themselves well in extremely difficult conditions, in and around wires, including night rescues with NVG, all incredibly safely, as did the other crews from the US military. These brave men and women deserve our appreciation and respect.

    Your estimate of “tens of thousands of lives” saved is right on the money. The initial rescue efforts began immediately in the aftermath of Katrina while the winds were still as high as 60 mph, not insignificant to helicopter operations, and potentially very dangerous. Many of the Army helicopters were not outfitted for rescue, no external rescue hoist, so they hovered lightly on the roofs of buildings, low enough to rescue people but light enough not to collapse the buildings. This was difficult and dangerous work and our magnificent men and women did it like it was routine.

    There are some success stories here.

    Harry Arthur (b318a5)

  148. Absolutely correct, Harry. But this doesn’t help destroy the Bush Reich, so why mention it?

    brian (361ba4)

  149. […] Patrick Frey, the Los Angeles blogger who runs Patterico’s Pontifications, has been all over the non-story of the video which purports to show President Bush in a bad light over how much warning he received about the possible damage from Hurricane Katrina, here, here, here and here. Mr. Frey’s primary concern has been the reporting of The Los Angeles Times on this story. Sister Toldjah thanked those who want to demagogue the issue (those people would be the Democratic leaders). […]

    Common Sense Political Thought » Blog Archive » Ridiculous (819604)

  150. 100 or so remarks on how Bush lied about the levee breech? Incredible, but after reading most of this stuff, I just want to say…To all of you guys defending the President, thanks for presenting great arguments and reasoning. And to all of you bitter lefties who hate Bush…please stop with the the pissin and moanin’ that seems to permeate 90 percent of your arguments. If you don’t like how things are going, than have your party win some elections, which I doubt will happen in 06 and 08 because regardless of what the polls say (Bush’s numbers are down, but so are the numbers for Pelosi, Reid, Schumer, and Clinton, just to name a few) most Americans do not want to be led by whiny, spineless, cry baby leaders in times of national disaster or war.

    Coconutkid (defe8b)

  151. Another attempt to excuse the inexcusable…

    Charlie (8ea405)

  152. Sharon, Just for you, I thought I would quote Noam Chompsky. “The media want to maintain their intimate relations to state power. They want to get leaks, they want to get invited to press conferences, they want to rub shoulders with the Secretary of State, all that kind of business. To do that, you’ve got to play the game, and playing the game means telling their lies, serving as their disinformation apparatus”

    Of course though it only works until the real journalists that are more than just transcribers for the political powers do their work, then the common MSM will touch on it. The FOX will apologize for the criminality and CNN will cover it lightly (since so many know already through the blogs)but are still lame in that they say little. There is a film by Chompsky called “Manufacturer’s Consent” that exposes the ineptitude of the MSM. A little of topic, but since I was assumed to be quoting Noam Chompsky, I thought I WOULD. He really dares say what is going on, which is why he is so marginalized by the right. Being a patriot is more than just applauding your country. It is required to be concerned when we are not behaving as good citizens of the world.

    blubonnet (dc52ec)

  153. I will apologize in advance for not having the patience to read this entire thread to see if actus ever understood the difference between a net storm surge of 5 feet topping a levee and 25 feet of water gushing its way through a breach. I believe there would be a lot less flooding if there were only 5 feet of water coming past the levee…but that’s just me, I guess.

    BTW, at least a few years ago there was something on TV about the risk to NOLA from a hit by a major hurricane spelling out exactly the risks of either a topping or breach – I think it might have been on PBS. So we should ALL have been aware of it…

    Finally, at the risk of sounding callous, it was the responsibility of the local government, and more importantly the people themselves to get out of NOLA BEFORE the hurricane hit. The Feds should only be criticised for not moving in and forcing the permanent evacuation of the city – things would be better if it was simply abandoned instead of being left to wait on the NEXT major hurricane to destroy it. There should be virtually no criticism of a delay bringing relief supplies to a city that is to be abandoned…

    Greg Franklin (2d3183)

  154. Blu-botsky,

    How predictable. I can see why the “Manufacturing Consent” conspiracy theory is swallowed so easily by the left. It makes all the other lefty B.S. go down easier.

    sharon (e51965)

  155. Sharon – I don’t generally approve of conspiracy theories, but I do think it is useful to look at what incentives people have and analyse how those incentives are reflected in their behavior.

    Large-scale media do, in fact, have an incentive to collaborate with individuals in government in order to maintain “access” – both access to having their ideas heard in the halls of power and access in the sense of being the people whom the government employees talk to, access to the story that will be tomorrow’s headline. That can, for a certain type of journalist, cause them to be somewhat easier on the government than they might otherwise be: it’s not worth risking that access unless there is some price to be paid for not doing so.

    That said, there is a competing incentive to find the next big story, and if the next big story involves beating up on the government, the incentives are in tension with one another, and its not necessarily easy to predict what the result will be; it depends on the details of the issue.

    But I don’t think the idea that sometimes the media have incentives to get in bed with the government, as it were, is necessarily a conspiracy theory.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  156. aph, then I suggest you spend some time re-reading blu’s insightful comments for context.

    Harry Arthur (b318a5)

  157. Harry Arthur – ahh, but I don’t care to spend time seeing what his incentives are!

    Seriously, though, I’m objecting out-of-context to the derision sharon levied against the ideas encased in “manufacturing consent”; as I understand them, those ideas are not themselves risable. That doesn’t indicate anything one way or the other regarding particular applications of those ideas.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  158. aph, I sense that you took my comment in the tongue-in-cheek manner in which it was intended. Good.

    As you said, “seriously”, I suspect there is a bit of both sides of the coin with the MSM. That they are clearly not the lapdog of the Bush administration is in my mind clear to anyone in even the slightest touch with reality. Do they sometimes cozy up to the WH for access? Probably. After all, CNN has admitted cozying up to Sadam for access, and since Bush is just a little worse than Sadam … well …

    I’d have to argue that the MSM views their role as generally adversarial toward whichever party happens to be in power. I think that’s a fair take on their constitutional role as well. Overall, I think they’re just the slightest bit more sympathetic to democratic administrations than to republican, especially of the conservative tilt. However, if I was a journalist, I’d much rather be the next Woodward or Bernstein than the next Cooper. Just my opinion FWIW.

    Harry Arthur (b318a5)

  159. You want some actual news? You can catch these guys on television if you have DEEP DISH satellite, of DIRECT TV satellite. This will share what other networks won’t. You will be amazed by what does not make it onto MSM for the reason I’ve stated earlier. You can read it here and then, you can find where to watch it or listen to it by way of TV or radio. Much more fascinating than MSM. It isn’t sterilized. There are documentaries that expose much also on FSTV and LINK TV. Go here:
    http://www.democracynow.org

    blubonnet (dc52ec)


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