hit it til it breaks

frustrated and in a rage after the last election, I decided that rather than leaving the country or refusing to speak to my Southern family, I was going to talk until their ears turned blue. I gathered up every family email address I could find, and I sent them a nice introductory letter and proceeded to bombard them almost daily with all manner of progressive/liberal/informative articles/cartoons/columns/whatever. This is the poorly updated archive of my exchanges with them.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

international aid being refused

feel free to skip my ranting and just read the list of aid being turned away. It really doesn't need comment.

A week later, and there are still trapped people dying because they still haven't gotten help. It isn't for lack of resources, we live in the wealthiest nation on the planet and even if we didn't, international help is being offered like crazy...and being turned away. But then so is help being offered by rescue teams from within the country.

FEMA (like most other important agencies under this administration) is being run by political hires with no emergency response experience, so they have no idea how to manage the crisis and their incompetence is killing people. The American public has stepped to the plate to offer assistance and expertise, and the feds are tying their hands and making us sit back and watch while people die. Make no mistake: this isn't a failure of government in general; this is a failure because of political hires instead of merit-based hiring. There are experts prepared to handle and organize on this scale, but they are not the people appointed by this admin. Their appointments are strictly political and they don't care one bit about expertise and punish those whose expertise goes against their political desires. They sidelined the recommendations of generals and career military leaders and made messes of our military endevours in Iraq and Afganistan. I didn't think we should have invaded Iraq, but it could have been done properly and should have been. The failure isn't because we didn't have people with the expertise to do it right, they just weren't the ones running the show.

Now they want to put through john roberts, with 2 (count them, 2) years experience as a judge to lead the supreme court! Not just be a justice, but to be CHIEF JUSTICE! I haven't screamed about him even though I think he is an awful pick (brief career, questionable stances on racial and gender issues, federalist membership/lying about it, but mostly because he is a coroporate stooge. We don't need another creep who thinks companies are more important than people) but to lead the court? This isn't about ideology, this is about expertise and this administration hiring one inexperienced dupe after another and us paying for it in blood.

anyway, this is a list of what resources and help we have been offered. Part of this backlog is because the secretary of state stayed on vacation til she was run out of NYC last thursday instead of coordinating international aid, but also FEMA being run by people who dont' know what to do so they are just telling everyone to hold their horses.

and their incompetence is killing people.

(this can be seen in its original form at: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/9/5/03413/61586 )

The Feds are STILL refusing assistance!!!!!!

by Ptolemy

Sun Sep 4th, 2005 at 21:34:13 PDT

NGOs are still being held at the borders of NOLA and other affected areas. Refugees are often being bused directly past these staging zones to the processing centers in TX.

Physicians are going by the thousands to the Gulf of Mexico, but they are being turned away in many cases or told to wait at the periphery.

And International Aid? The inmates are still running the State Department.

CNN is reporting that the White House and the State Dept. refuse to say whether they've refused or accepted most of the aid pledged.

International aid listed below the fold ... appreciate the enormity of the Federal callousness. And the good will of the world to Americans.

Ptolemy's diary :: ::

The US has only officially accepted first aid kits, blankets, water trucks and 500,000 MREs from the EU and another set of MREs from NATO. That's it. The EU and NATO want to give more, but that's all that's been taken in so far.

All help from the UN still awaits the green light from the White House. They have offered medical teams, cash grants, and tents. None of it has been accepted.

The UN has also offered to take the burden off of the US State Department and organize the aid effort, but State has refused that offer.

The OAS stands ready to offer anything we ask for. We've asked for nothing.

WHO has offered the same. Our response has been the same.

The UN Commission for Refugees ... same offer, same response.

Nigeria wants to give 1 million dollars.

China has offered 5 million, divisions of its armed forces, and physicians.

Japan has offered 200,000 dollars, tents, blankets, and power generators.

India is offering 5 million, as well as any requested medicines.

Singapore offered helicopters. The Feds said no, and TX took them. TX National Guard is deploying the helicopters directly to NOLA.

South Korea will give us whatever we ask for. We've asked for nothing.

Afghanistan wants to give us 100,000.

Sri Lanka wants to give us 25,000

Taiwan wants to give us 3 million.

Canada's Navy is still on hold. That's rescue workers and supplies just being held at bay by mild threats of being attacked if they go against the Federal level refusal.

Cuba has offered 26 tons of medicine and 1,100 physicians. He has offered to send it to NOLA. Then he offered to send it to Houston. No acceptance.

Mexico is taking the "Canada route." They have 15 truckloads of water waiting at the border, with food and medical supplies. The Mexican navy has offered to send two ships, two helicopters and 15 amphibious vehicles. All waiting. No answer. 1 million dollars as well.

Venezuela is offering as much cheap fuel as we ask for. AS MUCH AS WE NEED TO FIX THIS MESS. No answer. Chavez also wants to send relief workers with supplies.

Australia's 10 million hasn't been accepted either.

The French are offering rescue teams, civil defense forces, tents, camp beds, generators, motor pumps, water treatment units and emergency kits, two CASA cargo aircraft, a ship (Batral Francis Garnier), the frigate Ventose with its Panther helicopter, and a hurricane disaster unit. France also has offered several aircraft. In addition, the NGO Telecoms Sans Frontieres, which specializes in restoring phone lines and Internet service in disasters, is ready to send a team of experts and equipment. Veolia Environment, which has facilities in Louisiana, has offered to make its local water management resources available. Nothing. Not a one of these has been given the green light.

Germany has offered a range of assistance, including medical and transportation services, water treatment capabilities and aid in searching for victims and supplies. Germany also has said it is ready and willing to "dip into its own emergency oil reserves" to release some 2 million barrels a day for 30 days. Someone try to convince me that Bush isn't trying to drive up the price of oil.

Italy has offered to send aid and evacuation specialists immediately, Italy's civil protection unit said. Authorities have prepared two military transport planes to fly amphibious vessels, pumps, generators, tents and personnel to New Orleans, Louisiana, and other areas. They were awaiting word from U.S. officials, the unit said.

The Netherlands will provide teams for inspecting dikes and for identifying victims if there is a formal request from the United States. It also will send a frigate from Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles to New Orleans shortly to provide emergency assistance, the Dutch government said.

Russia has offered to help with rescue efforts but is awaiting a reply from Washington.

Spain expects to receive a formal request to release gasoline stocks to the United States and is prepared to grant it, an Industry Ministry spokesman said.

Sweden's Rescue Authority said it was on standby to supply water purifying equipment, health care supplies and emergency shelters if needed.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said his country stands ready to help the United States in whatever way it can.

Qatar has offered the United States $100 million to assist in the humanitarian crisis triggered by Hurricane Katrina.

Saudi Refining, a Houston-based subsidiary of state oil firm Saudi Aramco, will donate $5 million to the American Red Cross to support relief efforts for hurricane victims.

Iran has offered to send humanitarian aid to hurricane victims.


At 2:46 PM, Blogger d. earl griffin said...

from my uncle:

It’s not COMPLETELY the Federal Government’s blame. According to reports I have, the state of LA and the city of New Orleans are refusing to accept the aid, even though they had a disaster plan all spelled out. LA and New Orleans (especially New Orleans) is where the main incompetence lies. For example, they have refused tetanus shots which the state of FL has been offering. Be careful to place the blame (if that’s where your interests lie) where it belongs! I’d rather save lives than continually place blame! I’m sure you will write me a blistering reaction . . . that’s fine with me. You will not change my point of view!

At 2:46 PM, Blogger Melanie Alamo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 2:51 PM, Blogger d. earl griffin said...

me to him (notably a different uncle than the last e-spat; note that caps, while over used, are not omnipresent in his responses):

Of course it isn't entirely the federal government's fault.

I love the city of New Orleans but I know it is also a dirty poor city with rampant crime and corruption. But on this scale, the relief effort has to be coordinated at the federal level, particularly with regard to international aid. I don't think the state folks have been perfect in this, but the govenor did send the president a detailed list of the aid they needed to fully enact their evacuation plan TWO days before the hurricane hit, what federal authorization she needed to facilitate the evacuation and to ready for the aftermath. She got no response.

I don't know what local officials you have heard have been turning down aid, but everything that I have heard any of them say has been begging for the aid and for the authority to allow it to come in. I have heard that some of the international aid, certain emergency response teams, which is being turned away was specifically requested by LA officials. I have read story after story, many of them first hand accounts, of the FEMA officials turning aid away or telling people to just wait. You can still drive straight up to the superdome and it took almost a week to get people out of there? I don't think the fema folks are evil and want peole to die, but they are incompetent and unprepared. Why did they put a horse lawyer with a history of incompetence at the head of the agency?

And while I am torn with concern for the people in the disaster and keep going on about this because we are desperate for the people running fema to do their job and do it well and prevent further damage, it is the federal response that will effect me. If this were all local officials' fault, that is horrible, but I don't live there and won't have to deal with them if there is a disaster here, but I will have to deal with the federal response. Of the three worst case scenarios of domestic disaster, I am living in the city that is the location of one of those. New York has a lot of money and lot of police and lots of resources of our own, but if we have another terrorist attack, we will need federal aid and coordination and military involvement to keep the aftermath from being as traumatic as the event. Watching how one of those scenarios is being handled and seeing who is running what makes me pray that all our prevention efforts work, because our homeland security isn't ready to handle any sizable domestic crisis. This was a scenario that for years people have been saying was possible and likely and that there needed to be a plan ready for national response. Those who tried to implement the necessary precautions were met with indifference at the federal level where authorization had to come from. Legislation has been in congress for years to take care of those levees and to implement a plan to bolster the LA coastline and make preparations for this exact disaster. In New York, people have been pushing legislation to secure chemical plants and power plants and to inspect containers entering the ports. Again met with indifference, and while I pray it never happens or someone finally wakes up and helps these precautions through, if one of the chemical plants in Newark (or down the street from me) or the nearby nuclear reactor is blown up and the city is being evacuated in a dire situation, I want someone coordinating it nationally who is extremely competent. I want some one who is the best at what he does and I want someone who has invested in making their organization run as smoothly and effectively as possible.

this isn't abstract to me; this isn't just political. And it isn't just about placing blame for the sake of placing blame, it is about identifying what isn't working and why and replacing those not qualified to do their jobs. FEMA can't handle a large disaster and this has to do with how it is being run and how it is being coodinated and organized, so it needs to be reorganized and it needs to be done fast. If they can't handle this, switch who has authority to act and run the show; there are people in this country who can do a better job.

I'm not complaining because there are republicans in charge. A week ago, I never would have even considered that this could have been mismanaged like this by anyone. I'm upset that there are incompetent people in charge and getting in the way of people who want to, and are trained to help. If we had a democratic administration filling important posts with people whose ONLY creditials are party loyalty, the results would likely be the same and I would be screaming up a storm about them too.

I am glad the our family is safe and that you and Aunt * were there to help Aunt ** when she needed it. Even if the over-arching coordination of the response to this disaster has been confused, it is always reassuring to see our personal safety nets firmly in place and helping how we can.

Thanks for writing back and tell all the folks there I say 'hi'.

D (your annoying nephew)

At 2:52 PM, Blogger d. earl griffin said...


I don’t believe your motives are as PURE as you say. You DO have a political agenda as we all have seen from the dribble you send us. You need to listen to and read other points of view other than the sources you always site. If you feel that you are intelligent enough to know what should be done in terms of disaster relief, go south to New Orleans and provide support and leadership firsthand!

Your Annoying Uncle *

At 2:55 PM, Blogger d. earl griffin said...


what assistance I can offer I would be happy to give, but honestly, I wouldn't hire myself for a leadership position at FEMA any more than mr. brown should have been. My training isn't in disaster management and although were I given charge of this situation I would have spent less time giving press conferences and certainly couldn't have performed worse, I know that I shouldn't be leading a national disaster agency. I work in biology because I am trained in biology. But given the way things are going, given the chance, maybe I would step to the plate if I were given the chance to bat.

and I have never claimed that my motives are pristine and pure. I've been very blunt and clear about how it isn't only concern for others that makes me upset about this; this is very much about self interest and not wanting to find myself in a situation where incompetent people are organizing the recovery from a disaster that I have found myself trapped in because of where I live. I live paycheck to paycheck in a major metropolitan area where most people do not have cars and where public transportation would likely be disrupted in the event of a disaster and would likely have to be part of an official evacuation plan to get out. I live in a big bull's eye and will likely live in earthquake zones on the west coast and certainly back in hurricane country before I am done, so having our national disaster response work quickly and effectively is a real concern for me. Having lived in Mobile, Pensacola, and Charleston for most of my adult life, I have been through more than a few hurricane evacuations and reconstructions and seen them well managed and bungled both and don't care to see more disastrous disaster responses.

I do have a political agenda and a really clear one: holding our leaders accountable for their job performance and demanding they do a decent job. Like every other American taxpayer, I am their employer and you fire employees who can't handle their jobs.

I care way too much for and think too highly of this country to ever accept this performance as acceptable.


At 2:57 PM, Blogger d. earl griffin said...

Where you live (New York) is of your own choosing. From the stuff you send out, if seems that the US had no problems and was just a wonderful little country until President Bush was elected. I guess we had no problems prior to his first term and everything was handled to your liking until then. I believe your TRUE political agenda is Democrat = utopia, but Republican = disaster and chaos. This comes through in the vast amount of misinformation you spew out.

I also pay huge amounts of taxes, even though retired, and have so for over 35 years, but I’m not whining! I’m entirely happy with the response of the Federal Government. I’m watching the national news as I write. The DEMOCRATIC governor of LA delayed the receipt of federal assistance for over 24 hours because she said the Federal response plan was too complicated! She is totally incompetent! Also, the New Orleans major would not use the city buses to get folks out of NO. He was completely overwhelmed and just took people to the superdome telling them to bring their own food and eat a full meal before getting there.

D, there are other places that hire biology majors other than Miami, Pensacola, Charleston, and New York City. Why live in a place where you have to live pay check to pay check, crammed in a miniscule residence? I’m sure there are lots of better biology jobs in more desirable parts of this country.

By the way, if you are being paid to WORK, how do you explain having the time to research, draft, and send out so much stuff during normal working hours???

Again, your Annoying Uncle *

At 3:03 PM, Blogger d. earl griffin said...

me (and nice as I try to be, the way he quickly turns this personal and tries to make it an indictment of me rather than a discussion of federal performance pisses me off.):

First off, I have flexible hours at work and when I take extra time to send emails during the day, I stay late at work. I don't work generally normal hours. And I ride the train for 3 to 4 hours a day and you can digest a quite a bit of news in that time.

And no, there are not lots of more desirable biology jobs in other parts of the country. There are some, but most of them don't pay a whole lot better until you have accumulated a bit of experience (which I am currently working on) or require advanced degrees to get. Living paycheck to paycheck isn't ideal but right now there aren't a whole lot of jobs out there and I long ago decided that I was choosing to work in a field that I cared about and loved over other more lucrative options. Actually I am pretty well compensated compared to jobs I looked at in other areas and leaving this job I will have several years of experience at an institution that is respected and known around the world. And with my focus having always been on marine bio, I am always going to be in a hurricane prone region. (although I might would consider a career change; maybe journalism or politics)

And I don't think political problems fall so neatly into a democratic = good, republican = bad dichotomy, but with the way the country has been run the last several years with both the legislature and the whitehouse controlled by republicans and such a bad performance by the government, it gets harder to steer clear of blanket criticisms. But I just want a responsible, honest, and transparent government acting in good faith towards the common good. There were plenty of things wrong with the Clinton administration, but they (with a republican majority in congress) worked towards balancing the budget and getting the deficit down. That was responsible policy and that was supported by responsible leaders on both sides. I don't dislike the current president because he is a republican, it is that he is incompetent. He is good at politics (or his handlers are) but his policy has been awful and how he charms a crowd at a meeting filled with carefully selected supporters interests me less than how his actual policy is going to effect my neighborhood. His policies have taken away my fire station and reduced the number of police officers (through cuts to federal programs that funded extra police on our streets and rebuilding funds promised but never delivered post 9/11).

And as long as jobs have been mentioned, the funding for the jobs which I would fill have been cut right and left by this administration and they have waged war against science from the second they got into office. His policies have directly effected what jobs there are availible for me. I was looking at job listings long before I graduated college and after bush entered office, I watched the listings and funding shrivel up. A year before he entered office, there were plenty of jobs for which I was competitively qualified and which I watched disappear and suddenly faced a pool of more qualified folks who no longer had funding for the work they previously did. Our military strength, our international dominance, our public health and safety all depend on our scientific advances and he has hacked away at science the whole time.

Where did you hear that the govenor delayed federal assistance and that the mayor didn't use city buses for evacuation? I don't necessarily doubt either scenario, but want to double check. I've wondered about why the city's buses weren't utilized but haven't seen a whole lot of commentary on it.

once again (and probably for the last time at least tonight),

the annoying nephew, D-

At 3:05 PM, Blogger d. earl griffin said...


I do not agree that President Bush is incompetent. President Clinton never had 9/11 or disaster flooding equal to the level of Katrina. Considering what has occurred during President Bush’s terms, President Clinton had it easy in my opinion. The information on the Governor of LA and the Mayor of New Orleans was reported on the national news. I’m sure you’ll have an explanation for why these actions were appropriate.

Also, I quickly looked at Gov’t jobs for marine biologist. There are jobs out there working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Dept. of Agriculture, etc. You might want to look into these. They paid good and were not located in New York. Why would you want a job where you have to spend 3 to 4 hours a day on the train? Over and out! No need for further reply.

See you,

Uncle *

At 3:08 PM, Blogger d. earl griffin said...

so I didn't email back to that last comment. He wanted the last word, and my good christian upbringing reminded me that well placed kindness will burn an adversary up, and allowing the last word isn't too big a deal anyway.

There is family speculation that he is going a little crazy anyway, so I figure there is no need to push the politics too far.


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