BUSH: "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."
Obviously he never heard of "Hurricane Pam"? Actually, this hypothetical Category-3 storm that directly hits New Orleans, a "tabletop" study that was still being worked on when Katrina roared through, didn't "breach" the levees, but effectively did the same by pushing water OVER them, thusly flooding the city, killing an untold number and stranding folks on top of houses. This levee scenario has been on the minds of everyone who seriously looked at this issue over the years.
Regarding Chertoff: I heard this on All Things Considered! It was amazing!
[ROBERT] SIEGEL: We are hearing from our reporter, and he's on another line right now, thousands of people at the Convention Center in New Orleans with no food. Zero.
CHERTOFF: I am telling you we are getting food and water to areas where people are staging. And, uh, you know, the one thing about an episode like this is, if you talk to someone and you get a rumor, where you get someone's anecdotal version of something, I think it's dangerous to extrapolate it all over the place. [In this case only, bold emphasis mine -- Rick]
SIEGEL: But Mr. Secretary, when you say that, uh, we shouldn't listen to rumors, these are things coming from reporters who have not only cover many many other hurricanes, but who have covered wars and refugee camps. These are rumors? They're seeing thousands of people there.
CHERTOFF: I would be... I have not heard a report of thousands of people in the Convention Center who don't have food and water. I can tell you that specifically the Superdome, which was designated staging area for a large number of evacuees, does have food and water and that we have teams putting food and water out at other designated staging areas.
SIEGEL: And our reporter said two thousand people at the Convention Center, without anything.
CHERTOFF: I understand and I can't argue with you about what your reporter tells you...
But yes, this story was tagged out with mention that Chertoff's spokeswoman later called to say he had since become aware of this Convention Center situation, and they were now working on it.
Regarding FEMA Director Mike Brown's comments, I did hear him mention somewhere (CNN? NPR?) something like "...those who are stranded, who chose not to evacuate, who chose not to leave the city..." But they way I heard it was "...those who chose not to leave the city, and those that couldn't..." When the interviewer called him on it, he sort of backed away from the first part.
Regarding Dennis Hastert: "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."
Had this particular brand of forward-thinking existed when New York mostly burned down during the Revolutionary War, as did Washington during the War of 1812, and Atlanta in the Civil War, and Chicago in the 1870s, or about San Francisco when it fell down in 1906, we'd never be able to see those cities alive and doing so well today.
The most articulate answer to Hastert's pessimistic "bulldozer solution" I've heard so far comes from New Orleans trumpeter Irvin Mayfield, that city's official cultural ambassador, on NPR's Morning Edition today (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4829486). At the moment, he's a refugee in Baton Rouge. It should be noted that he was apparently not speaking specifically to what Hastert said, although he might just as well have been:
"I mean, we have to rebuild, we have to move forward; cities must be resilient if we're going to show the resilience of our country ... we don't have that option as Americans to look at ANY part of our country in a sense of abandonment ... but this country has endured many things, and the world has also, and, you know, this is another major catastrophe that we are going to have to deal with, and we'll have to endure."
What's with these people?
All I can believe is that conservative politicians, by and large, get somewhat nervous whenever a local catastrophe occurs that calls for help from the community at large. I always imagine that, within their brains, there's this little prancing elf, tap-dancing on the precipice, resisting with all its might the temptation to let forth with another inappropriate lecture on the virtues of "individual responsibility".
"No, now is not the time," they seem to be cautioning themselves, "at least not so soon before the upcoming election."