[Editor's Note: "Here's the Beef" normally appears on Sundays, but Mr. Moo's busy schedule required a delay this week. He plans to be back on schedule this Sunday.]
As I have watched the news over the past few weeks, I have noticed that there are many problems along the Gulf Coast. There were plenty of problems there prior to Katrina's visit but there are even more now. Not only are there plenty of problems but there is plenty of blame to go around for the way the situation has been handled.
Now, I wasn't in New York City in September of 2001 and I have not been to the Gulf Coast yet but there seems to me to be a difference in the way things have been handled. Following the attack at the Pentagon and the World Trade Center (which anniversary we remember today) it appeared as though the relief effort for the individuals affected was somewhat organized. However, this past couple of weeks we have seen ineptness at so many levels, it makes Mr. Moo weep and rant at the same time.
The best way to deal with the disaster from the perspective of the bull is just to quote the individuals and officials involved.
"FEMA is not going to hesitate at all in this storm. We are not going to sit back and make this a bureaucratic process. We are going to move fast, we are going to move quick, and we are going to do whatever it takes to help disaster victims." --FEMA Director Michael Brown, Aug. 28, 2005
"I don't want to alarm everybody that, you know, New Orleans is filling up like a bowl. That's just not happening." -Bill Lokey, FEMA's New Orleans coordinator, in a press briefing from Baton Rouge, Aug. 30, 2005
"It's totally wiped out. ... It's devastating, it's got to be doubly devastating on the ground." –President Bush, turning to his aides while surveying Hurricane Katrina flood damage from Air Force One, Aug. 31, 2005
"It makes no sense to spend billions of dollars to rebuild a city that's seven feet under sea level....It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed." –House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Aug. 31, 2005
On Washington Week tonight, one of the panelists said that a doctor at a New Orleans hospital (I think Charity) had operated on Al Gore's son. He had communicated with Al Gore who made arrangements for two private (American Airlines) planes to evacuate patients to hospitals which had agreed to take them. However, FEMA would not approve the plan because they can only work with public officials. In general, they also said that for whatever reason FEMA can only work with public institutions, they cannot provide assistance to private hospitals.
Ged Scott, 36, of Liverpool, England was with his wife and seven-year-old daughter in the Ramada Hotel when the flood waters started rising. "At one point, there were a load of girls on the roof of the hotel saying 'Can you help us?' and the policemen said 'Show us what you've got' and made signs for them to lift their T-shirts. When the girls refused, they said `Fine' and motored off down the road in their boat." Scott watched as American rescuers turned their boat around and sped off when the women refused.
"Thank President Clinton and former President Bush for their strong statements of support and comfort today. I thank all the leaders that are coming to Louisiana, and Mississippi and Alabama to our help and rescue. We are grateful for the military assets that are being brought to bear. I want to thank Senator Frist and Senator Reid for their extraordinary efforts. Anderson, tonight, I don't know if you've heard – maybe you all have announced it -- but Congress is going to an unprecedented session to pass a $10 billion supplemental bill tonight to keep FEMA and the Red Cross up and operating." –Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), to CNN's Anderson Cooper, Aug. 31, 2005, to which Cooper responded: "I haven't heard that, because, for the last four days, I've been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi. And to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other, you know, I got to tell you, there are a lot of people here who are very upset, and very angry, and very frustrated. And when they hear politicians slap – you know, thanking one another, it just, you know, it kind of cuts them the wrong way right now, because literally there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats because this woman had been laying in the street for 48 hours. And there's not enough facilities to take her up. Do you get the anger that is out here?"
The US Navy asked Halliburton to repair naval facilities damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The work was assigned to Halliburton's KBR subsidiary under the Navy's $500 million contract awarded in 2001 and renewed in 2004. The repairs will take place in Louisiana and Mississippi. Houston Chronicle reported September 1. (Oh boy, Halliburton is back on the job. I feel so much better now. )
"We just learned of the convention center – we being the federal government – today." –FEMA Director Michael Brown, to ABC's Ted Koppel, Sept. 1, 2005, to which Koppel responded " Don't you guys watch television? Don't you guys listen to the radio? Our reporters have been reporting on it for more than just today."
"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." –President Bush, on "Good Morning America," Sept. 1, 2005, six days after repeated warnings from experts about the scope of damage expected from Hurricane Katrina.
"Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans, virtually a city that has been destroyed, things are going relatively well." –FEMA Director Michael Brown, Sept. 1, 2005.
"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." –President Bush, to FEMA director Michael Brown, while touring Hurricane-ravaged Mississippi, Sept. 2, 2005 .
"What didn't go right?'" –President Bush, as quoted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), after she urged him to fire FEMA Director Michael Brown "because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right" in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.
"We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did." –Rep. Richard Baker (R-LA) to lobbyists, as quoted in the Wall Street Journal.
"Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?" –House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX), to three young hurricane evacuees from New Orleans at the Astrodome in Houston
"What I'm hearing which is sort of scary is that they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this (chuckle) – this is working very well for them." –Former First Lady Barbara Bush, on the Hurricane flood evacuees in the Houston Astrodome, Sept. 5, 2005
The Federal Emergency Management Agency rejected journalists' requests to accompany rescue boats searching for storm victims. An agency spokeswoman said space was needed on the rescue boats. (that makes sense) "We have requested that no photographs of the deceased be made by the media," the spokeswoman said in an e-mail. (Don't report the dead and dying. We don't want to discourage the folks that are working on the ground.) Reported on September 10.
There are hundreds of thousands of people hundreds or even thousand miles from home. There are tens of thousands dead. Folks, we need to be able to help in any way we can. The one sure way we can help situations like this in the future is make sure some of these folks are not in government positions anymore.
Money, bottled water, supporting an organized trip to Mississippi, raising awareness of the ongoing problems, is some of what I have done. For the ones looking for a place to go, come to northwest Iowa. Mr. Moo has room for you. And me and the Mrs. have already made contact to check on foster care or adoption of any orphans.
Get a life. Get a grip. And, in the words of Larry, the cable guy, let's "git ‘er done". This is an ongoing situation. Can you help?