AP Aims For White House, Hits Blumenthal
The headline is “White House Backpedals on Flood Control,” but every source interviewed for the article agrees that even if an array of Army Corps of Engineers flood-control projects had been fully funded, they would not have made much of a difference.
Despite the headline, this story is actually a strong refutation to those like Sidney Blumenthal who are trying to blame the Bush administration for leaving New Orleans vulnerable to a Cat4/5 hurricane — as if any city 10 feet below sea level and surrounded by water wouldn’t be.
Has the government made mistakes in this relief effort? It’s impossible to conclude otherwise after watching reports like this one. But this idea going around on the left that Bush was responsible for some fatal shortchanging of New Orleans is rapidly losing credibility, as are those who are making the argument.
“Critics Say” Bush’s Family is a Dumb Debate
Several MB readers have written in about a story by Terry Neal, who chooses today to recycle the “If this war is so noble, why haven’t Jenna and Barbara signed up?” argument.
Um, because Iraq doesn’t have a Prada?
Seriously, what does it say about the level of intellectual discourse in this country when a major national daily (The Washington Post) publishes something this stupid? I don’t think an “argument” like this even merits a response, but Matt at Blogs for Bush responds anyway — a great response, actually, considering the unserious nature of this particular debate.
The funniest part of Neal’s column is when he tries to get us to care whether Bush has encouraged his nephews to volunteer. So what? My uncle encouraged me to chew tobacco and try “calf fries.” Uncles don’t make decisions for their grown nieces and nephews. How is Bush — how is Cindy Sheehan, for that matter — responsible for these adults?
Another thing: Terry Neal is a recidivist practitioner of this “critics say” garbage. Look at this mess:
Increasingly, though, some critics are asking who serves and whether the pain is being shared equally. This week, the liberal Web site buzzflash.com noted in an unsigned editorial that “not one — not one — of any of Bush’s children…
Nonetheless, critics on the left are comparing Bush unfavorably to Franklin Roosevelt, whose four sons served as decorated officers in World War II…
Some on the right are defending the president, arguing that the entire issue is just a subterfuge to detract from the left’s hatred of the military and distaste for all wars. And Sheehan — who they characterize as a kooky nutball — is just the left’s latest spokesperson…
Other critics on the right note that lefties didn’t demand that President Clinton urge his daughter to enlist when America was fighting wars in the Balkans…
But critics on the political left argue back that Clinton didn’t lead the nation into a dubious war based on false premises. And his supporters didn’t accuse those who opposed his military actions of being unpatriotic…
The overall effect is to give Neal’s opinion column the appearance of news. Just tell us what you think Terry. We know what buzzflash.com and the Huffington Post writers think already.
Shepard Smith Has Distinguished Himself
Two months ago, Shepard Smith was the subject of a Howard Kurtz profile that portrayed him as a total lightweight.
All of the journalists who are down in Louisiana and Mississippi right now are doing an incredible job, but Smith’s coverage has been extraordinary. I don’t think he’ll be underestimated again.
RELATED: TVNewser on one of the grimmest and most dramatic moments I’ve ever seen on television.
Howard Fineman’s “Common Sense”
MB Reader Chris H. writes:
Howard Fineman was quick to sow the seeds of the “Gosh, if only all those troops weren’t in Iraq everything would’ve been fine…” myth that I’m sure we’ll hear A LOT more of in the weeks and months to come. He says, ” National Guard officials insist that they have enough men and women on hand to do the job, but common sense tells you that they could use the others stationed abroad.” I guess Fineman’s common sense knows more about the availablity and deployment etc. than the National Guard itself. Common sense would say a lot of things about this disaster, but that has no bearing whatsoever on what is actually possible or necessary on the ground. That is just such a weak statement.
“Common sense” is often a drastic oversimplification. Pandering to people’s “common sense” is just exploiting their ignorance to take a cheap shot. Chuck Schumer likes to be the hero by demanding that we tap the strategic petroleum reserve. After all common sense tells us that this will make prices go down, right? Thanks Chuck! But what do we do if the problem had more to do with refining capacity than with crude supplies? And what do we do if Iran or Saudi or Venuzuela one day decide to cut our supply altogether? Please journalists and politicians, we can handle the details — its ok, we’re pretty stupid but not that stupid.
UPDATE: RedState continues to debunk
the “insufficient National Guard” myth.
We Report, They Correct
Monday, I reported that the NY Times had misquoted President Bush, making it sound like he had criticized the act of protesting rather than the protesters’ message. Today, after hearing about it from me and other MB readers, the NY Times ran a correction:
The White House Letter column on Monday, about the prominent role of women in the debate over the Iraq war, incorrectly summarized comments by President Bush about Cindy Sheehan’s protest. He said that an immediate withdrawal of American troops, as advocated by such protests, would weaken the United States and embolden terrorists. He did not say that protesters like Ms. Sheehan were themselves weakening the United States and emboldening terrorists. (Go to Article)
Thanks to Pittsburgh Media Watch and MB reader Sean for the big assists.
Follow-up On NYT Misquote
When Did Bush Say That?
The hurricane of hatred that the left has unleashed at President Bush in the wake of Katrina has taken many voices, but the most telling might be Sidney Blumenthal’s. His latest effort demonstrates that even though Bush could have done little to mitigate the damage of the worst natural disaster in American history, this hurricane gives the left an opportunity to vent all their accumulated greivances over Bush’s environmental policies.
Blumenthal starts out by trying to lay blame for the hurricane at Bush’s feet, citing two examples of how Bush policies made the aftermath worse. First, he says, Bush cut funding for Army Corps of Engineers flood control efforts. According to Blumenthal, “A year ago the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed to study how New Orleans could be protected from a catastrophic hurricane, but the Bush administration ordered that the research not be undertaken.”
This story, already widely discussed on the left, was addressed yesterday in a lengthy and well-sourced post on RedState.org:
Was it rational and defensible to shift funding from any source toward defense- and war-related activities in the aftermath of 9/11? Of course. Did that shift leave the levees unready to handle Katrina’s deadly burden? No. The levees were inherently unready: even at maximum proposed funding, their design was only for a Cat3 storm, not the Cat4/5 that Katrina was. It is true that in 2004, proposals were floated to upgrade to a Cat4/5-capable levee system; it is also true that even in an ideal situation, the studies — not the construction! — necessary to assess what that would entail would not be finished before 2008.
Blumenthal then argues that, “The Bush administration’s policy of turning over wetlands to developers almost certainly also contributed to the heightened level of the storm surge.” But development was never a real threat to the wetlands — they were eroded away by a Mississippi River that was never allowed to flood. As MSNBC technology correspondent Bob Sullivan reported
Bush on GMA
Just watched Bush’s chat with Diane Sawyer — I think people who were disappointed with Bush’s speech yesterday could take comfort in his performance this morning.
Diane Sawyer asked at least three times about U.S. preparedness for and reaction to the storm. Bush reminded people that no one expected the levees to fail and New Orleans to flood. Bush described the steps he started taking as soon as the extent of the catastrophe was apparent. He also said he hoped people would refrain from politicizing the national tragedy. I wonder if he’s read today’s New York Times.
He also explained why he hasn’t visited yet, which is because a President landing in the area would take too many resources away from the rescue effort. When asked whether other nations were offering to help, Bush said not really because we haven’t asked. This is America and we take care of our own.
Which reminds me: today is blog-for-hurricane-relief day. Glenn Reynolds’ Instapundit and NZ Bear both have great guides to relief efforts throughout the blogs. National Review contributor Mark Steyn is giving all the proceeds from book sales via his Web site to hurricane relief. The Katrina Help Wiki also has links, and there’s always the Salvation Army donation page.
MSNBC Anchors Praise Clinton, Slam Both Bush Administrations
NRO readers are writing in after Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell attributed FEMA’s preparedness to bold moves by the Clinton administration. At one point, according to an MB reader, Matthews said, “Imagine the help that would be available if we weren’t bogged down in Iraq.” Mike B. wrote:
In what has got to be the most politicized coverage of the natural disaster in New Orleans and the surrounding areas, both Matthews and Mitchell took the opportunity, while footage of the disaster was shown on the screen, to talk up the hypocrisy of states’ rights people in times like this, basically opining that the federal government is looked up to in these situations, as if this somehow proves they should be looked up to in every situation. They also ‘wondered’ aloud on how the National Guard deployment in Iraq has affected Guard deployment in the devastated areas. While they admitted such an issue is unquantifiable, nevertheless they assumed the Iraq War hampered our rescue efforts in this instance.
And, to top it off, they gave Clinton credit for making FEMA work as well as it does, even in spite of both Bushes’ efforts to undermine it in some fashion (though how they did, and do, manage to undermine it is not mentioned).
I teach middle school kids, and if any one of them attempted to pass off as well-thought-out answers the garbage Mathews and Mitchell just did, I would have a long, stern talk with them about applying critical thinking techniques.
I also heard Matthews saying something like (I’m paraphrasing), “You know, al Qaeda could be watching this and saying, ‘Well, look at how much damage this did, all we would have to do is blow up one of these levees…” at which point NBC’s science correspondent corrected him, saying “Well, I don’t think they could match the devastating power of a hurricane, which has the force of hundreds of nuclear bombs…”
UPDATE: NewsBusters now has the full transcript.
Politicization Update: That E&P Story
The left-wing hurricane exploiters are now hitching a ride on this story in Editor & Publisher (motto: Editors and publishers should be trying to get the U.S. out of Iraq), which, surprise, accuses Bush of funding the war with money that could have saved New Orleans!
This is just the first shot in what I’m sure will be an inevitable campaign to blame the Bush administration for this tragedy. Thankfully, RedState has launched a pre-emptive debunking of this garbage. It’s a must-read. Here’s the key passage:
In the rational world — which the “reality-based” community increasingly does not inhabit — governance is an exercise in prioritization. Was it rational and defensible to shift funding from any source toward defense- and war-related activities in the aftermath of 9/11? Of course. Did that shift leave the levees unready to handle Katrina’s deadly burden? No. The levees were inherently unready: even at maximum proposed funding, their design was only for a Cat3 storm, not the Cat4/5 that Katrina was. It is true that in 2004, proposals were floated to upgrade to a Cat4/5-capable levee system; it is also true that even in an ideal situation, the studies — not the construction! — necessary to assess what that would entail would not be finished before 2008.
This madness is all of a piece with the “Bush was on vacation when this happened” idiocy. Yes, we could have used his heat vision to seal some of the levees at weak points, and his superhuman strength might have been enough to save some collapsing concrete. But what we really needed was for him to get the rest of the Justice League out there, especially Green Lantern. Or at least to reverse the Earth’s rotation and save us from this disaster.
This last paragraph is pretty naive, actually. Why would Bush use his superpowers to stop a hurricane that he created with his nefarious weather machine in order to distract the media from Cindy Sheehan?
Blogger Relief Efforts
Glenn Reynolds is organizing Thursday’s blog-a-thon for victims of the hurricane.
Yesterday I promised I would watch the memorable telethon scene from the movie UHF to get some ideas. I came across this classic speech, delivered by Michael Richards as Stanley Spadowski, the host of “Stanley Spadowski’s Clubhouse” and the station’s janitor. I post it here, not to trivialize the suffering, but hopefully to add a bit of humor to an otherwise bleak situation.
STANLEY: This is my new mop. See? My friend George gave it to me. It’s a good mop. Of course, it’s not as good as my old mop, but… sometimes you just gotta take what life gives you. Cause, you know, life is like a mop. Yeah. See… when your life is full of dirt and crud and bugs and hairballs, you just gotta rinse it off and ring it out and start all over again.
And sometimes, life sticks to the floor so bad, a mop just isn’t enough… you gotta get on your hands and knees and use a toothbrush! And if that doesn’t work, you gotta get up – you gotta get right up and go over to the window and shout – “This floor is dirty as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore!”
Over at the Corner, Ed Whelan shares an e-mail that expresses similar sentiments in a slightly more serious way.
Nola.com (the New Orleans Times-Picayune) and WWL-TV in New Orleans have lots of breaking news. Michelle Malkin is tracking all the blog coverage. Find out how to help at the Katrina Help Wiki or the Salvation Army.
Luskin Lacerates Krugman’s Korrection
Don Luskin’s Krugman Truth Squad was partly responsible for the two corrections Krugman was forced to run last week. But as many noted, Krugman’s second correction wasn’t really a correction — it was just a mealy-mouthed restatement of the original error. Today, Luskin is back on case, with suggested text for a new correction:
Corrections: In my column of August 22, and again in a correction appended to my column last Friday, I misstated the results of the 2000 Florida election study by a media consortium led by The Miami Herald, saying it showed Al Gore winning two out of three statewide manual recounts. In fact it showed him winning only two out of four. In light of this, the public editor says, rightly, that I must correct the statement in my column of August 19 that both of two media consortiums
Follow-up On NYT Misquote
After a reader sent me a tip yesterday morning, I reported that it looked like NY Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller had misquoted President Bush, making it seem like he had taken issue with Cindy Sheehan’s right to protest rather than her politics. I thought it was an important story and so did Brit Hume, who mentioned the misquotation on Special Report last night.
Now another MB reader informs me that the NY Times is looking into this matter and might be running a correction. Stay tuned.
Other Than Cafferty’s Cheap Shot...
… I thought the Situation Room was pretty compelling yesterday. Normally the fact that there are six or seven screens on the walls showing different things at the same time is kind of disorienting. There’s usually not enough news to justify that many screens, and most of the shots are unrecognizable. But on huge stories like Hurricane Katrina, being able to show so many aspects at once was a valuable capability. One screen would be a helicopter shot of the wrecked I-10 bridge over Lake Pontchartrain, and another would show a family being rescued from a rooftop, while still another could show an arial view of the city submerged in water. Having a Situation Room is pointless when the top story is Mother Sheehan’s traveling Bush-hatin’ show. But it works when you have an actual situation.
The Politicization Continues
Yesterday on CNN’s The Situation Room, Jack Cafferty took a cheap shot at President Bush, saying “Where is President Bush? Is he still on vacation?” Wolf Blitzer said, “He’s cut short his vacation. He’s coming back to Washington tomorrow.” Cafferty siad, “Well, that would be a good idea. He was out in San Diego, I think, at a Naval air station giving a speech on Japan and the war in Iraq today. Based on his approval rating in the latest polls, my guess is getting back to work might not be a terrible idea.”
But this lame attempt at sarcasm was nothing compared to the feverish rantings of the left-wing bloggers. For the Bush-haters at AmericaBlog, literally every post about the hurricane tried to blame some aspect of the devastation on the Bush administration.
And yesterday, I linked to the Daily Kos as an example of liberals who had not bought into this crass politicization. I clearly spoke to soon.
Besides just the whole “he’s on vacation” jeer (as if he should have been in New Orleans holding up the levee himself), these bloggers have been insinuating that because of the war in Iraq, we have insufficient National Guardsmen to deal with the crisis. Trevino at RedState demonstrated the absurdity of these claims by simply going through the numbers.
The left is seriously frustrated right now. First the whole Rove-Plame thing evaporated under their noses, and now a bunch of suffering people in New Orleans have the temerity to steal the spotlight from Cindy Sheehan’s impeachment tour. The cult of Bush hatred only knows one speed.
Blog For Hurricane Relief
After Hugh Hewitt suggested that bloggers dedicate a day to blog for hurricane relief, Glenn Reynolds recommended Thursday and volunteered to help organize. I’m in. In the meantime, I’m just going to keep a link to the Red Cross close by.
Click here to help.
Brendan Loy has the best blog coverage, including an entire sidebar dedicated to coverage with links to other charities.
WWL-TV in New Orleans has lots of updates.
If there’s a media tie-in anywhere in this, it’s that the blogs can now complement the TV news operations in boosting aid to the victims. I’ll be reviewing the movie UHF tonight for blog-a-thon ideas.
Krugman’s Korrections Katches On
Last Friday I said that the “correction” that Paul Krugman had appended to his latest column did so little to address Krugman’s error, it would be more accurately described as a “korrection.” It’s an idea that’s katching on.
Powerline plays along in the process of criticizing two other newspapers that syndicate Krugman’s kolumn — the Minneapolis Star-Tribune for running Krugman’s korrections four days after numerous bloggers had pointed out that Krugman didn’t even korrect his original error, and the Portland Oregonian for running Krugman’s kolumn without any korrections at all.
It’s bad enough that the NY Times doesn’t edit Krugman’s kolumns. Now the papers that carry them are editing out the korrections.