nothing is beneath these people

Not an Onion headline: White House Enacts a Plan to Ease Political Damage

In many ways, the unfolding public relations campaign reflects the style Mr. Rove has brought to the political campaigns he has run for Mr. Bush. For example, administration officials who went on television on Sunday were instructed to avoid getting drawn into exchanges about the problems of the past week, and to turn the discussion to what the government is doing now. [...] In a reflection of what has long been a hallmark of Mr. Rove's tough political style, the administration is also working to shift the blame away from the White House and toward officials of New Orleans and Louisiana who, as it happens, are Democrats.

Blame Game, Set and Match:

On Saturday, August 27, 2005 -- two days before Hurricane Katrina made landfall -- President George W. Bush assumed responsibility for the coordination of "all disaster relief efforts" in the State of Louisiana. This is the specific, undisputed language of Bush's declaration of a State of Emergency, issued that day by the White House, and still available for viewing on the White House website. [...] What's more, FEMA was given specific, direct, presidential authority to act at its discretion -- it did not have to wait for approval from elsewhere in the federal government or from state or local authorities.
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more first-person accounts

auryn24 is a nurse who was working at a New Orleans hospital when the hurricane hit. Day 1, 2, 3, & 4.

"We limited our water intake to 1/2 a glass a day. We watched the patients take their meds with just a small sip, and told them that the water had to be conserved throughout the day as much as possible.

Also, our NOPD (cops) that we had stationed at the hospital, along with our National Guard boys (who were all teenagers and didn't help out worth crap) decided to use their "marshal law" and boat to Walgreens to get us supplies. They got some food products and water (which we got a small bottle of gatoraide and sparkling water, that's all. never saw anything else), but also went to Dillards and "used marshal law" to acquire expensive Polo shirts, jeans, Fendi purses, perfume, candles in which they traded (?) to family members on the floor. It didn't help patients or staff. I was disgusted about this. Our own cops LOOTED. They are all crooked. That's why I want out of Louisiana. You can't trust anyone.

Trapped in New Orleans by the flood--and martial law: This story has been making the unattributed-cut-and-paste rounds today. As far as I can tell, the above link is the original copy. I don't know how trustworthy this source is (and they used the phrase "heroes and sheroes" which makes me inclined to ignore anything else they have to say), but the story is pretty horrifying:

As we approached the bridge, armed sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions. [...]

The sheriffs informed us that there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move. We questioned why we couldn't cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the six-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans, and there would be no Superdomes in their city. These were code words for: if you are poor and Black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River, and you are not getting out of New Orleans. [...]

Now--secure with these two necessities, food and water--cooperation, community and creativity flowered. We organized a clean-up and hung garbage bags from the rebar poles. We made beds from wood pallets and cardboard. [...] Our encampment grew to 80 or 90 people.

Just as dusk set in, a sheriff showed up, jumped out of his patrol vehicle, aimed his gun at our faces and screamed, "Get off the fucking freeway." A helicopter arrived and used the wind from its blades to blow away our flimsy structures. As we retreated, the sheriff loaded up his truck with our food and water.

Once again, at gunpoint, we were forced off the freeway. All the law enforcement agencies appeared threatened when we congregated into groups of 20 or more. In every congregation of "victims," they saw "mob" or "riot." We felt safety in numbers. Our "we must stay together" attitude was impossible because the agencies would force us into small atomized groups.

Update: The above story got some coverage in the SF Chronicle and the Washington Times. This appears to be an account from someone else who was in the same group.

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escape story

Here's one of doubtless many first-hand accounts of escape to come... It's pretty fucked up. Wasn't there supposed to be a little bit of a grace period, like more than 24 hours, before the world went all Mad Max on us?

Sean Carmack:

With the looting beginning, Ann Mike and I start discussing whether evacuating might be a good idea now that the storm is over and the looting is beginning. There are still reservations about whether the car is road-worthy and whether there's enough gas. A few moments later, a pick-up truck full of thugs comes rolling up the street, yelling "Get out!" Not a friendly kind of "Hey, you should get somewhere safe" but more of a "Get the fuck out so we can take over". [...]

Overnight we'd also heard that 40,000 troops are on the way and should be in today, on Wednesday. Boy THAT was a lie. We hear Bush's speech, thanking the local government and promising all these "assets" are coming in. Meanwhile, all we want for Christmas is to see an APC rolling down the street with an M60, but no dice. [...]

On his way out the door he tells me he should be about ten minutes. About an hour later he finally comes back... apparently there are kids no older than 14 riding around on the streets packing 9mm's and shooting at people. He decided to wait for that shit to clear out before heading back. Also, an old man had been walking his dog at 6am and was beaten to death on the street a couple of blocks away, for really no good reason.

After hearing what life is like in the prison-camp-like evacuation centers, it's not at all surprising to me that so many people still in the city are choosing the devil they know:

Scores Refusing to Evacuate:

Out on Interstate 10, where a flooded highway exit served as a ramp to launch rescue boats, search crews said hundreds of people had declined to be rescued over the past two days. One Texas crew operating east of the interstate was turned way by 450 people living in houses surrounded by water.

"They have water up to the porch, but they don't want to go," Parker said. "They sit up on the second floor and say: 'We got food. We got water. We're staying.'" Parker said his crews had no authority to forcibly remove anyone, but had passed the information on to state and city agencies.

Nagin has said the city will remove all residents. He has not provided details on how or when the process would be carried out. But Riley warned Monday that officials were considering "stopping food drops" to the stragglers to increase the pressure on them to leave.

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