Thursday, December 22, 2005

Looting Homeland Security

Sunset Over St. Louis Cemetery #1, New Orleans

This article is long. And it's not politically correct. By not politically correct, I mean it's biased against the current administration (as is the truth), and so it will piss off any of you true believers still drinking the Bush Kool-Aid. If this is you, you do not need to tell me that the article pisses you off, or that it's biased, because I know this already, and because, frankly, I no longer care what you think about anything.

Rolling Stone - Looting Homeland Security
"Natural disasters have a way of exposing the cracks in the foundation of our civilization -- the scary things that we all suspect to be just under the surface, but that, in ordinary times, we would prefer not to think about. The sudden visibility of poverty in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina laid waste to the city is the most vivid example of this effect. So, too, is the fact -- now plain for all to see -- that the Department of Homeland Security, the arm of the federal government responsible for ensuring our safety in times of national emergency, has become little more than an arm of big business, a radical experiment in President Bush's brand of market-based government.

The most glaring example of the for-profit marketization of DHS came on September 26th, barely a month after Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, when some 300 corporate lobbyists and lawyers assembled for the Katrina Reconstruction Summit to learn how they could cash in on the federal effort to rebuild New Orleans. Such how-to sessions are nothing new in Washington, of course, and private firms certainly have a major role to play in relocating the 1.5 million people uprooted by the worst natural disaster in American history. What was extraordinary about this particular summit, however, was that it was held not in some conference room at a Beltway hotel, but in an office building of the U.S. Senate. It was a seminar on profiteering, held on the grounds of the very institution to be plundered."
Previously, related:
Eight Years, Two Americas
Questions On God And Government
You Are On Your Own
A Wavering Hope


Crack Head said...

I have just been diagnosed with high blood pressure. I sterted the medicine for it on wendsday. Today is Friday and Ithink after reading thigns like this they need to up my dosage!

Only in America can we rape the very system designed to help us and profit ourselves into coprorate hell.

I am not a religious person, but if there is a heaven and hell may they burn in the eternal fires of hell!

Anonymous said...

clayton, i'm from new orleans (born and raised) and am 19 years old. this entire thing has turned my life upside down and really changed the course of my life as i knew it. one day i thought i had everything figured out, the next day i was being ripped from the only home i'd ever known and forced to watch the storm from 400 miles away.

everything you are doign is awesome. shedding light on what is still going on here, long after CNN stopped sensationalizing it.

i love that picture of st louis cemetary.

- whitney

puppeteer said...

Making money out of somebody's misfortune.... Oh, I hope and pray that they rot in hell!

slidell said...

I'm sick, sick, sick of it. Living here in Slidell, just north of NOLA, seeing the results of how that corporate money is spent, witnessing people who need help and must wait months for these a-holes to cut thru their ~own~ red tape makes me sick, sick, sick. I want to go far away from this nightmare but I can't.

I wasn't affected by Katrina physically, but watching so many people I love deal with the crap just to live in a freaking tin can trailer while they wait for the freking insurance adjusters to get their act together FOUR MONTHS AFTER THE STORM makes me insane with rage. I want to scream for days with the rage.

Thanks, Clayton for bringing this disgusting news to light. People need to know this. Things need to change.

Cheryl of Slidell said...

I agree with slidell and all the others.People are still waiting for trailers,St.Tammany parish requested 20,000 and only 3,000 have been delivered.Travel up to Purvis Ms.and look in a field on the West side of I-59.Thousands of trailers all shapes and sizes,with more going in each day and night.NOT FEMA village.
Who's making money off these?What politican or BIG WIG is gaining the BIG FAT WALLET?

Leslie said...

Slidell said:
I wasn't affected by Katrina physically, but watching so many people I love deal with the crap just to live in a freaking tin can trailer while they wait for the freking insurance adjusters to get their act together FOUR MONTHS AFTER THE STORM makes me insane with rage. I want to scream for days with the rage.

Just wait until 2 years from now and things aren't really any different than this very day - 2 days before Xmas. People who lived through Isabelle more than 2 years ago are still waiting on checks and still fighting with insurance and still living in those tin can trailers.

What the county needs is a different organization than FEMA. FEMA is Emergency Management. Well, this is an emergency, but it's beyond the first 2 weeks which is all FEMA was really designed for.

[laughing maniacally] Wanna bet it happens? Look for those flying pigs of Clayton's and then maybe it'll happen.


Anonymous said...

Happy holidays.

I hope the new year brings many blessings for you and your family.

Love, Sassy.

Leslie said...

Hey there.

Just got word that I can no longer use any Habitat's name when requesting assistance from church groups, civil groups or other Habitats. That came from on high at Habitat International.

I'm doing the research now to start a letter writing campaign that will include their Washington Office, their world headquarters, the head of the Katrina effort within HI and - Jimmy Carter - since he's their "poster child".

More information here and on my blog in the next week....


fletch65 said...

You'll get no argument or critique from me, CJC...the Bush Administration has committed more questionable and anti-American acts--indeed, crimes, in my anti-Bush opinion--than any administration since the Nixon presidency. That does not amaze me. What amazes me is the number of ignorant Americans who still defend him and offend liberals and others, even fellow conservatives (who are more moderate) and former Republicans, still supporting a president that caters not to them or to their nation but to his own friends and even his foes. This is not the United States of is the Divided State of A Merry Bush and His Merry Cohorts in Crime

Anonymous said...

Why don't you pie in the sky dummycrats just sprinkle some magic dust on it and make it all better? Seriously, you want to know why everyone doesn't have a new house 3 months after a storm of this magnitude? Even better... is that for 10 years you all KNEW this was coming? Poverty is a choice, not a lifestyle. I know you can't wrap your little "what about me" minds around that, so here is another news flash for you... Most people want to be paid for thier work. (Gasp! Horror! the dummycrats say) Not everyone wants to sit on their big fat govt cheese ass and collect a check every month. SOME of them got together and said, "Hey, instead of some poor, flood prone housing area, why don't we build something that will generate revenue (tourism versus property tax) and make a couple bucks while we are at it?" And then you know it all idiots want say, "no way! That's our way of life!" Flood prone, poor and crime ridden towns. Oh, and where is my check and cheese!

Anyone that rebuilds a house in this area deserves to pay 200% higher insurance rates. While the dust settles from this glorious wedding, remember... There will be one or two more hurricanes taking aim at you in about 8 months. So let me propose a toast! To the poor idiots who call a hurricane and flood prone coast home...may you get all the democratic cheese you deserve...

Gee I hope I didn't upset any of you Bush bashers. Although I could care less as well clayton. Can you guys take it as well as you give it? I didn't think so..flame away.

clayton cubitt said...

Anonymous Coward,

Go back and read the linked article. Then, turn off Fox News so you can think straight, and come back and attempt to leave some relevant comments next time.

I know it's all very fun and sneaky to anonymously piss in someone's living room, but it gets quite boring for the rest of us who've already heard nonsense like yours a hundred times.

Bonus points for anyone with societal conscience retardation as severe as yours who's actually got enough balls to stand behind their comments with an email or website, the way I am here.

Anonymous said...

It's ironic that you tell me to turn off foxnews when this article is so slanted left that it can't even see the right side of the room. It's pains me to read stuff like this because I have to spend three times longer fact checking that crap. They just dish it out and you guys just accept it as fact. Amazing...sheep.

-The Coward

clayton cubitt said...

You need to understand that it's not about Left or Right, it's about right or wrong.

Anonymous said...

Again...the irony is killing me. The article has a lot of things wrong with it. It's classic liberal Bush bashing. One of the authors is a sociologist from NYU. HELLO!? You may think that NY is the cultural center of the world, but the majority of us in the rest of the country think you guys are full of yourselves and pay too much for rent.(that's my attempt at Doug Adams-like humor)

Look, I didn't mean to come in and piss in your living room. I don't have a Flickr or Myspace account, and I don't have a blog. I just come out here to see what anti-govt rant you have posted and this time I decided to fire off a response. I agree that big govt is bad, and a lot of what is done, under Dem or Repub leadership is wrong. But there is NOTHING that any of us can do to stop it. I learned a long time ago to shut up and play the game. It may leave a bad taste in your mouth, but it pays the bills.

Seriously, if you had a seven figure job up there and this happened, you would have brought your mom and your brother up to NYC and put them up in a nice place until all of this got sorted out. Then when it came time for her to go back, you'd put them up in one of those nice new high rises they are going to build down there. Money makes all the difference.

clayton cubitt said...

"classic liberal Bush bashing"?

Sorry to insult your Prince. But, this has nothing to do with bashing your Prince, and everything to do with exposing a group of extremely greedy people who are looting the American people on a scale never before seen in this country. It's about corruption, and cronyism, and incompetence, and rampant cynicism, and it would be sickening whether it came from the Right or the Left.

It's about how this cronyism and corruption is making all of us less safe, by diverting extremely important Homeland Security dollars into the pockets of effete frat boy dilettantes and their corporate backers.

And we are all less safe in ways that go way beyond "choosing" to live in a hurricane zone, or a flood plane. I'm not even going to touch the idiocy of your earlier statement that "poverty is a choice."

I was in NYC on 9/11. The people who died on 9/11 spanned the entire socio-economic strata from those who "chose" to be poor busboys, to those who "chose" to be rich financiers. Those who were making seven figure salaries were no safer than those making poverty wages, and they all died together.

Your idiot slacker Prince, was, however, quite safe in a bunker somewhere.

So, if your "playing the game" entails allowing your politicians to raise themselves above the people, above the law, above the Constitution, even, then, no, I think I'd rather not play that game.

There may be nothing you can do about it, but the rest of us who care would like to keep trying.

Anonymous said...

Idiot slacker bashing there!
In a bunker when the planes hit...come on, you know damn well he was in a classroom with children.
Remember? Your people still accuse him of doing nothing while the attacks were happening.

The left just make stuff up and hope no one questions them.

Clayton I admire you. I like your work, I like what you did for your Mom and I like the private sector attention you are getting for the area(honestly).
That being said... you are in denial if you don't think you're some left wing liberal nut, and it's classic liberal nuttiness too. All you do is just spit out the same stuff that is being fed to you from the NY Times and the Washington Post or even Rolling Stone. You do it in some melodramatic fashion and get the collective "Yeah! What he said!" from all the rest of left wing melodramatic nuts.
Didn't you ever pick up a newspaper on the drive down to your Mom's place and read it? Do you ever try to look at it from the red state point of view? We like watching you guys yell "Bush lied kids died!" and "Bush was behind the 9/11 attack so he could start wars!" It's much like a circus.

Now you start up with his business dealings again. If those no-bid contracts had been open to a 30, 60 or 90 day contract bid period, you would be screaming even louder about how long it is taking to get reconstruction going. What I am trying to say is that NOTHING the President does will make the left happy and all you do is complain.

I'm sure you will get your panties in a bunch about this post, but I'll give you the last word and retreat into the audience. I just want to watch the show and snicker at the funny parts.

Good luck playing the game.

spittinmad said...

oh anonymous.

Your touching care for the red state residers, the people living here is so ambiguous. First post you say people got what they deserved, and by the end you're claiming the southern brethern as salt of the earth.

Do you understand that there are potholes that you could lose a small sedan in here? That the water mains are broken and running into the streets in many places. That there are FEWER not more people to handle the essential city services? That the privatized electric company is dragging it's feet reservicing the city, trying to stall so that the feds will bail it out. If being a lefty means pointing out the obvious, that we as a society can do better, then call we should aspire to be leftists....people who believe that you can Do and Fix and Hold People Accountable. Stive for more. Make it better. Isn't that the American Goal?

Come help. Come help three old ladies. Come help an old crazy man who doesn't even realize a hurricane hit. Come help a retired social worker who worked hard and is going through her savings at an unimaginable rate. Come see what it is really like, not what you have decided it's like. People need help. How will you help?

The infrastructure of this country is built with government money. Our roads, our dams,our schools, our communications, and yes, our flood control structures. We would have never have left the great depresion without massive progressive government spending. It is now time to spend money to rebuild New Orleans. Personally, I hope that some of the money comes in the form of grants for homeowners and businesses in the area who want to rebuild, grow and prosper. Knowing the hardworking entrepreneurs down here that will probably go out of business in the next few months, it would be well spent money.

clayton cubitt said...

As usual, anons, you're all talk and no action, just a waste of time. Your talking points duly parroted, thank you for retreating, yet again.

If you have something of substance to say, something not related to the tired Right vs Left nonsense, perhaps an actual defense to the linked damning article, you're welcome back. I doubt I'll see much of that.

Life's too short, and too important, and there's too much hard work to be done, to waste it bickering with hot air.

Anonymous said...


You claim you only care about right and wrong, not right versus left...if that is true, why do you call Bush names like "idiot prince"? You claim the previous poster was talking out of both sides of his or her mouth, yet you are doing the same thing. There is nothing wrong with being a left wing democrat - why don't you come out and embrace it? The previous poster is clearly a right wing republican (and proud of it) so why don't you just come out and say it: I am a dyed-in-the wool left wing democrat.
Secondly, I don't think it was fair to bash Bush for being in a bunker at any point during 9/11. The Secret Service and the US Govt have protocol and procedures for attacks like 9/11. Clinton would have been in a bunker as well. They are not going to send the President of the United States to ground zero in the middle of an attack, republican or democrat.
Lastly, instead of only blaming Bush for this mess after Katrina, why don't you at least place SOME of the blame on the Democratic Adminsrtations in LA that have siphoned off money meant for the levees to their own pet projects? Why don't you give any blame to the state and local governments that for years have ignored the Army Corps of Eningeers stuides that said the Levees could not withstand a Cat 4 or higher hurricane. Do some research - look at the United States Budget Office website ( Research the previous years where MILLIONS of dollars was given to LA specifically for the repair and strengthing of the levees. The line items and amounts are right there for the viewing. Ask Kathleen Blanco why all that money was never used for the intended purpose and where it went.
I accept the fact that the Bush Administration has some blame for this disaster, but to listen to your posters, he is SOLEY responsible. There is plenty of blame to go around and if you want to play the blame game, look around locally before looking to Washington.

clayton cubitt said...

Yet Another Anon,

I'm not a left wing anything. Describing Bush as an "Idiot Prince" is not indicative of a leftist slant, it's merely descriptive of his behavior. Died in the wool, hardcore conservatives have begun to grumble much the same. Anyone who can't recognize his imperial behavior simply astounds me, and I can only draw the conclusion that there are many Royalists still alive and well in modern America, willing to eagerly shout down anyone who speaks against their moron king, despite any facts obvious in the light of day.

I'm not bashing Bush for being in a bunker (after tearing himself away from My Pet Goat) on 9/11. I'm bashing him for being in a bunker every day since, and I'm not speaking physically. America is a democracy, and democracies don't run well from bunkers.

I've also said, time and again, that the people of New Orleans and the Gulf were failed by their government, from local to federal, and on a massive scale. If you read the blog, and the comments, this will be obvious to you. I'm not giving anyone a pass.

But again, for many and quite obvious reasons, I must insist that the bulk of the blame for what has happened after the storm, and why the storm has been such a horrible disaster, rests with federal entities, particularly FEMA, and Homeland Security.

Which brings us back to the post at hand, and the linked article, which not one single anonymous drive-by commenter has bothered even attempting to refute. Anyone care to talk about the culture of corruption, cronyism, kickbacks, and incompetence that now infests the Department of Homeland Security? Anyone care to talk about how this is a situation that renders us all less safe, whether you live in a blue state or red, or earn seven figures or five, and whether the danger comes from nature or terror?

That's the real issue here. Anything else is just distraction, hot air, smoke and mirrors, and a huge waste of time. Please stop wasting my time.

Kate said...

Keep on keeping on, Clayton.

Anonymous commenters acknowledge how meaningless they are by their anonymity. Odd, isn`t it, to be afraid of identifying yourself, of owning your own opinions. But then we reward chickenhawk cowards in this country now with medals of freedom and the presidency. Go figure!

Muchos abrazos --

Jenifer D. said...

Ever feel like our country is being run by a D-minus Student, guys? I do.

Anonymous said...

How can these people lives with themselves?! How can they sleep at night?

What a thing humanity has come to when there are those who care more about money (and how are little bits of paper going to keep your heart warm at night?) than they care about each other?

T xx

Angie said...

I have never posted at any sights and am new here.

I live in northern Louisiana and did not have any family members but do have many friends that have been directly affected by Hurricane Katrina or Rita.

I like most was devastated by what happened in New Orleans and the lack of help that the people stranded there received. I could not believe this was happening 5 hours south of me and no one seemed to be helping the helpless mothers, children, brothers, sisters that were in need of so much.

But as I read through some of the posts I am amazed at the blame that is placed on the federal government.

Why did the Mayor of New Orleans not use the school buses that sat in parking lots and eventually got flooded away (AFTER a young boy stole one and saved several elderly people and mothers with young children) Could the Governor not have done more. From what I saw the local government failed utterly!

Now I do not believe there is not enough blame to reach to the highest government officials but when you have local police shooting at people to get them to go back to that ****&$!@ convention center and citizens having to steal cars and busses to get people out. WHERE WERE THE LOCAL GOVT OFFICIALS????

I have and will continue to do what I can to help any one that I can that was affected and if we all do what we can then the gulf coast region will rise again.


clayton cubitt said...

Hi Angie, welcome.

A storm the size of Katrina is, by its immensity, a national event, sure to overwhelm even the most effective and well-funded local governments. As you know, Louisiana and New Orleans have never been well-funded, and thus they've never been very effective.

But this article talks about how well-funded Homeland Security is, and how that surplus of funding has only enriched corporate insiders connected with the current ruling officials in Washington. This same department who's task it is to keep the residents of Louisiana (and the rest of the country) safe, but who turned out to be just as or more inefective as the underfunded locals were.

It's not just about how many school buses were flooded in New Orleans, it's about how may lobbyists have flooded Washington.

Chap said...

I don't know how angry I would be after an event like this, but it would certainly be angry. My family lost everything it had in a hurricane when I was a kid in 1972--no FEMA there, no insurance, no nothing, we did what we could; my wife and I lost everything we had to a fire twenty years later, and poor college students with insurance that was going to take effect two days later. Disaster sucks, and it takes a lot out of the survivors.

I've also spent some time learning some history and logistics. I've learned that everything humans touch is flawed; profiteering and bad judgement and bad practice is not unknown in the sweep of human history.

What bothers me about the Rolling Stone article is that in bashing the one guy in charge, it missed all the other people and organizations it should also be bashing. Sure, the guy at the top is responsible for what happens on his watch; sure, this was a spectacular disaster that caught lots of people flatfooted. But the article has the format I've seen in some other government bashing articles, R and D, in the kinds of people it quotes and the context it uses. Because of that there's a missed opportunity for enlightenment instead of only anger.

The article misses some things that should be brought out to make people aware for a next time:
--If nobody practices a plan, the plan falls apart. When's the last major disaster drill run in different places? What does Omaha do?
--This size disaster hadn't been anticipated before, and learning happened too late. The Omaha Red Cross, for instance, has been working on what to do when their disaster center goes away--because nobody had thought of it before enough to plan and exercise it. Many learning experiences like that occurred, not just at the Red Cross.
--There is a fine line between hiring the person who would be one of the few best in the country at understanding big movements of logistics and hiring a conflict of interest, just as there is a fine line between wasting money by getting an overly profitable contract and wasting time and lives and money by delaying the award of that contract. This is the toughest pair of tasks I've seen in government, and to an extent you'll never get it right. If there were better policies in place at FEMA and HLS then perhaps the waste could have been less egregious. That key lesson is lost in the article.
--There are always moneychangers in the temple. Lobbyists aren't just in that one spot, and didn't suddenly appear in one administration.
--There is a half life for this knowledge about what to do in a big disaster. At some point we'll forget some of it and the next type of disaster will catch us flatfooted. How does that knowledge stay captured?

That, I guess, is why the article bothered me.

You keep doing what you're doing, man--every time I drop by here or One House At A Time I think of Scarlett "As God Is My Witness, I Will Never Go Hungry Again!!" O'Hara, but unlike that silly woman you've found a calling, and we are all the better for your selfless efforts.

If I can ever afford a trip to NYC, dinner is on me.