Mush on mush
This from Riehl World: “Now They Tell Us: Post-Katrina, Nagin To Blame
Everything was Bush’s fault when he was in the WH. Now, when it comes to FEMA, it’s just the bureaucracy, stupid. But with the New Orlean’s recovery still failing, someone has to get the blame. And it won’t be the Obama administration. Besides, he’s leaving office. So, Ray Nagin has out-lived his useful uselessness.”
That’s Riehl’s part – which is OK, except for the “recovery” failing part. The parts of the city that middle class people lived in is surprisingly vibrant. The parts of the city where the poor were are still empty because they’re not coming back, which they’ve made clear through their efforts to settle where they wound up. Where which they discovered, per previous AP analysis of data, they were better off than if they returned to N.O. Did this AP writer consider or even remember some erstwhile colleague’s report of a month or so ago? Did Riehl? Hmm. Though it’s FEMA which has to set the flood maps on which mortgages and renovation loans are predicated, and FEMA took forever, and is still not done, at least not that I can discern. So it’s FEMA that didn’t do the first part which would lead to the second part. And where it did do maps it made it that all houses had to be elevated – which is not an easy thing to do. Now, Riehl’s point is, I believe, the way that the AP first blamed Bush, now Nagin, but is not blaming Obama. A valid point on one level, especially since Obama did say he’ll “rebuild” New Orleans. But it’s the AP mush itself which bugs me, and I’m not sure Riehl, in the pursuit of one objective, sees the rest. He certainly didn’t comment on it – so I will. Thanks Mr. Riehld, though, for bringing me the tidbit in the first place.
But it is an object lesson on how to read the news – and the importance of such a huge amount of general information before one writes like the AP does – for they write like tripe. It’s the part written by AP this is odd. So government-centric as to be simply, well, socialist:
NEW ORLEANS(AP) — As Mayor Ray Nagin leaves office, hundreds* of damaged city buildings including police stations and fire houses sit unrepaired more than four years after Hurricane Katrina, stark reminders of how the recovery has floundered.
Only seven percent of *283 (ah ha, “hundreds” is 283. Hundreds is some how almost always more than 500. But given the known number, why even the guess-number in the first line?) city-owned structures (the city also owned a bunch of housing projects which were going to be replaced before the storm hit anyway – is this in the 283 figure? And a bunch of other buildings around town, mostly caught up in the blighted properties movement. And does this include parks not mowed yet or something else. What sort of buildings? Important information, no?) slated to be (hoped to be, depending on FEMA and a returning population, but no people, so point of buildings is?) rebuilt have been completed or are under construction, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. Those figures back up an impression many residents have had for more than a year (residents are never satisfied, and been so for more than a year! If all 283 were rebuilt they would be in the wrong color I’m sure. Meanwhile, residents in N.O. Are persnicketty about historical accuracy which would always slow down anything.) – the Nagin administration has failed to renew much of New Orleans. (I thought it was just the city owned structures – now it’s “much of New Orleans”? Or does the AP think that if you build a firehouse in an empty neighborhood the people will move back into the destroyed housing?)
“New Orleans has struggled with a vision from the very beginning of the disaster,” said Drew Sachs, vice president of James Lee Witt Associates, a consulting firm that has worked extensively on Louisiana’s hurricane recovery. (Why on earth would the city have, or need, a vision? That’s the problem – the expectation that the city should have a vision and should lead the way in doing this or that, and not some other thing. The building lots are still owned, the houses are still there, the rules and laws of construction, the zoning, the uses, the roads, etc, — and design even — before the hurricane were still there – why should the “city” have a vision? It had a “vision” — one that kept New Orleans moribund in the first place, at the behest of a preservationist public. Visions of rebuilding were in the eyes of the private owners who have to figure out a way around the City’s redtape and moribund and corrupt bureaucracy. My, the city’s vision should have been to sit down, shut up and stay out of the way. The city should not have even called Mr. Sachs, but let Mr. Sachs peddle his services to real buyers with their own money. And while Sachs was envisioning and planning on the taxpayer’s dime nothing would be done. The city is a needless distraction in people doing what they needed to do. Not only that – the city was filled with substandard housing – those people couldn’t move back, if their structures stood, nor did they. So they simply needed less police, and less fire protection – and thus the hope slated right after the storm met with the reality that the city is half the people now – so they don’t even need a few fire and police stations that were hopefully slated.)
Besides missteps by the Nagin administration, rebuilding has been complicated because of the extent of damage, (not Nagin’s fault, is it?) FEMA’s paralyzing bureaucracy (Feds to the rescue! But not Nagin’s fault) as well as loss of population (Not Nagin’s fault) which has hurt revenues and made it hard for city officials to determine where to put its limited resources. (The amount of lessened revenues doesn’t determine where to put its limited resources – it merely means that they can’t put as much into the lessened number of fire and police stations. Look, if there’s half as many people, and half as many revenues, and half as many needs, then the numbers work out that the less revenues are good for the less need, exactly as the prior more R was for more N. Not to mention that no city in this country doesn’t face the exact same problem – they all claim they have less revenues – limited resources – and always thus struggle with how many signs the current mayor can put up with his name on it to show the people he’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing – doing the very definition of the job while shamelessly promoting his efforts to do the sought job and for which he’s paid. It’s as if a baker put a sign on every cake: “Made under the administration of Guido the Baker.” It’s nuts anyway.)
The city lags both urban and rural neighbors (the city lagged both for more than a century, well before any hurricane ever hit, nothing new there.) hit hard by the catastrophic 2005 storm (which destroyed New Orleans like it didn’t do its urban and rural neighbors. Metairie, the urban neighbor, was not flooded, so of course New Orleans “lags” — it was so far behind that it could almost never catch up – not to mention that Metairie was already so far ahead that it would take a storm to knock the bad out of New Orleans to give it a chance,) according to rebuilding figures provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. (Well, nothing like going to the agency in the running for the blame and asking them if they were guilty or to blame for something. “Nope, not us, not us!” I can hear them saying it right now. An agency which had to sell 500,000,000 bucks in trailers for dimes on the dollar, fend of a lawsuit related to the sale, and it is the go to agency for facts and figures? I know where there was $500 Million for renovation! HA! And why is FEMA even in the rebuilding business? How is that managing an emergency anymore – five years after the storm?)
For instance, 87 percent of St. Bernard Parish’s government buildings are under construction or have been reopened and 55 percent of Plaquemines Parish’s government buildings are rebuilt or are at least close to being finished. (Well, the numbers as percentages look so good. Look at the way the AP conflates two sorts of measurements – 283 buildings in New Orleans. And 87% in St. Bernard. Let’s see, um, St. Bernard had about 20,000 people before the storm, versus some 450,000 in New Orleans. So 283 N.O buildings, versus maybe, what, a dozen in St. Bernard? Nothing in St. B. was very historic. And I doubt, with their rural, conservative, even Palin-esque mindset, St. B bothered to call a visionary consultant to lead the way to do anything. Plus pretty much all their people came back – so they rebuilt their buildings pronto. Not only that though, there are only so many construction crews available, and it was estimated that there wouldn’t be enough such men in all the nation, stopping what they were doing, and running to New Orleans, to do all the work. I doubt New Orleans could even find the crews to get their wildest hopes done even if they had the money.)
But you know what – it’s for this reason that the news is so weird to me. I can’t read a danged paragraph without going off the deep end in ripping it apart.
Then I saw a video of Bill Maher saying Brazil doesn’t rely on oil. “It relies on sugar cane.” Maher also says in the video that Democrat’s energy policy is to drill for oil just like the Republicans.
The response at http://gatewaypundit.firstthings.com/ was: “Not only does Brazil still depend on oil and produce oil but for Maher to compare the anti-energy policies of the democrats to the Republican Party is complete lunacy.”
Even more crazy is that Obama, or one of his henchmen, specifically lauded Brazil’s safety record while blaming American companies for the accident. Which is funny for a number of reasons, primarily that PetroBras, the Brazilian state owned oil company (for the good of the people of course) relies on American companies to do the actual work. Funnier even, for Maher to extol sugar cane as a fuel – one of the environmentally dangerous crops – ripping out tens of thousands of acres of the Amazon jungle to grow the stuff – to save some oil drilling – except for the oil needed for fertilizers and harvesting, grinding, milling, transporting, and for all the legions of poor Brazilian peasants stuck in the colonial era’s cash crop instead of everyone getting rich off of mineral wealth and the educations required to produce it. Talk about keeping the peasants down on the farm. And I’d imagine too that Maher doesn’t know that because of suger price supports the US pays 34 cents a pound for sugar and the world pays just 14 cents. Whatelse doesn’t Maher, an opinion maker, know?
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