Harvey Could Still Be Trump’s Katrina

Trump Maladministration

Amy Davidson Sorkin writes at the New Yorker:

The problem is not that President Trump does not realize that Harvey is huge; a number of his tweets on the storm have contained the word “Wow,” and he called it “epic” and “historic,” adding that “Texas can handle anything!” But the enormity of the situation does not seem to have organized his thoughts beyond declarations of how it will be matched by the greatness of his Administration and its allies. On the flight to Texas, on Tuesday morning, he had retweeted a message from Brazoria County, which consisted of a red box containing the words “notice: The Levee at Columbia Lakes has been breached!! get out now!!” Get out to where? What are the practical consequences of a breach? Trump didn’t say. (Vox has a more technical breakdown of the levee situation.)

In Corpus Christi, speaking to Governor Abbott, Trump began by acknowledging that it wasn’t time for congratulations, but offered a prediction that Houston would soon be better than ever: “We’ll congratulate each other when it’s all finished.” Later in the day, at a briefing at a control center in Austin, he said that his team’s coördination had been “incredible—everybody’s talking about it,” then offered this observation on the challenge that they faced: “Nobody has ever seen this much water. . . . The water has never been seen like this, to this, to the extent. And it’s, uh, maybe someday going to disappear. We keep waiting!”

Trump seems to think that once the water goes away, everything will just go back to normal.

What will be harder is persuading not only Trump but the Republican Party that Harvey has a reality that reaches beyond the borders of this storm, and involves major policy issues. Both Senators Cruz and Cornyn voted against a major emergency-relief bill allocating funds for rebuilding and recovery after Superstorm Sandy. Cruz, in particular, has misrepresented that bill’s contents and its purpose, saying that two-thirds of the money in it wasn’t really related to Sandy but was, rather, pork and other wasteful government spending. (Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post’s fact checker, gave Cruz three Pinocchios for that.) Cruz and others, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, also complained that the bill wasn’t really for emergency spending because it covered things like improving forecasts and repairing damaged infrastructure in a way that protected it against the next storm. This time, for the congressional Republicans, as much as for Trump, the emergency can’t stop when the rain does.

Here’s Glenn Kessler’s fact check of Cruz’s claim.

I think most Americans are looking at Texas and thinking it’s going to take a ton of money to put things right. I have read that up to a million cars are ruined. I have read that 80 percent of people whose homes were damaged or destroyed have no flood insurance. We’re hearing about exploding chemical plants and who knows how much petroleum and other toxic things being released into the water. So far I haven’t heard an assessment of how many businesses have been shut down and how many jobs are lost. I haven’t heard an assessment of repairing roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

And most of the issues involved in all these things deal with policy matters that Republicans don’t like to deal with. They want the private sector to somehow take care of it all.

Speaking of the private sector, there’s a pernicious pattern of disasters being used as opportunities for all kinds of political patronage and profit. See Naomi Klein, “How Power Profits From Disaster.”

One of those moments arrived in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, as I watched hordes of private military contractors descend on the flooded city to find ways to profit from the disaster, even as thousands of the city’s residents, abandoned by their government, were treated like dangerous criminals just for trying to survive.

I don’t think we ever got an honest assessment of how much taxpayer “recovery” money was lost to waste and fraud after Katrina, and a lot of that money disappeared into the pockets of contractors, sub-contractors and various middlemen. People’s lives were put on hold for months and years waiting for help. The Bush Administration was colossally inept, but does anyone think the Trump Administration is going to do better?

On top of that — while everyone’s been focused on Hurricane Harvey, wildfires are raging through the Pacific Coast states. Home owners are getting evacuation orders. Yosemite National Park is threatened.

On top of that, there’s a category 3 hurricane out in the Atlantic named Irma that might strike the Atlantic coast next weekend. That’s not certain though.

On top of that, North Korea.

So, shit’s getting real, and Republicans plan on converging in Washington this month to cut taxes for rich people.

Back to Amy Sorkin:

If the tragedy of Harvey is not met properly and consistently, on a national level and with an eye toward a long-term commitment, it could mean the decline and fall of a great American city.

Today’s Republicans have absolutely no grasp of what “properly and consistently, on a national level and with an eye toward a long-term commitment” even means, and Trump is incapable of commitment except to himself. Twelve years ago, Republicans were perfectly content to leave New Orleans to rot. And they largely got away with it. Somehow, I don’t think they’ll get away with letting Houston rot.

See also:

Donald Trump in Houston: “Have A Good Time Everybody”

He Can’t Even Fake It

And an old Mahablog post, What Is Evil?

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  1. Bonnie  •  Sep 3, 2017 @10:44 pm

    I think Atrios summed it up best:

    Sunday, September 03, 2017
    Laughing All The Way To The Apocalypse
    I veer from “haha Trump’s a big dumdum” to “oh shit we’re all going to die.”

    Crazy days.
    by Atrios at 16:11

  2. Swami  •  Sep 4, 2017 @12:51 am

    The He Can’t Even Fake It link is a really great read. Not to take anything from Josh Marshall’s excellent writing and analysis, but I could have summed up everything he had to say in seven words.. Trump is a big bag of shit.
    That harkens back to the days of my learning the secret of success in writing an effectual business letter when I was in high school. The teacher said…”make it brief and to the point”.

  3. KC  •  Sep 4, 2017 @1:39 am

    Gawd I hope you are right. That calls for a lot of older white people to come to their senses though.

  4. c u n d gulag  •  Sep 4, 2017 @2:12 am

    Depending on the people of Houston and their neighbors – in that grating state full of proud and preening assholes: Texas! – allowing themselves to be treated by inept and sociopathic Federal Government assclowns like Dumbaya, Dickie Death, and their GOP enablers treated the “Nigrah’s” and “poor’s”in “The Big Easy,” and their LA neighbors in and after Katrina, is a fool’s error of monumental proportions!

    And so, as if on cue, the man who is easily one of the top-ten monumental fools in American history, t-RUMPLE-THIN-sKKKin decends through the fog and clouds via escalator from his lonely perch in the Oval Office, onto the devastated scene.

    Incapable of empathy, he mumbles empathetic, but hollow and empty, sounding words written for him by others.
    Donald t-RUMP doesn’t “feel” anyones pain, like Bill Clinton did – and does.
    Within his narcissistic personal skill set, he lacks Obama’s ability to use our language’s words, via carefully considered prose, to paint poetic salves and bandages which can be applied by victim’s to their pains – no matter how temporary the relief might be.

    Instead, if you look it the big picture, it becomes fairly obvious that t-RUMP is piling one non sequitur on top of, or next to, the last one, hoping he can build a beautiful wall of words which will keep the press’s and public’s critics far away from his tender, easily bruised, ego.

    Completely lacking any sense of history and historical context, he doesn’t understand the level of this storm’s destruction, and the effect it will have throught the rest of the survivor’s lives.

    And thus is fate a cruel master:
    It leaves Houston’s and Texas’s recovery efforts to be spear-headed by a raging narcissistic dullard who doesn’t give a shit about what eventually happens to Harvey’s survivor’s.
    All he gives a shit about, is how he looks while he’s play-acting prezidentin’ during a state of emergency – and how he’s being treated or mistreated by the people and press right now, tomorrow, and for the rest of his miserable, lonely, self-absorbed life….

    May God (He/She/and-or It) help us…………

  5. uncledad  •  Sep 4, 2017 @10:26 am

    “Republicans don’t like to deal with. They want the private sector to somehow take care of it all”

    That’s fine with me as long as my tax-dollars don’t go into the private coffers? I say Texas is a perfect test case for the tea-tard libertarian experiment, let them clean up without all those burdensome regulations that come with FEMA cash, why just a short 1-2 years ago most Texans wanted to secede anyway. That may sound harsh but why should the rest of us pay to re-build in flood plains, where city and county planners refuse to impose a single regulation on the unplanned sprawl that has resulted in the preventable mess they have down there? Maybe they could use some of the states income tax, oh wait Texans don’t pay state income taxes?

  6. bernie  •  Sep 4, 2017 @10:55 am

    Rugged individualism, I heard on Public Radio from Texas this morning,  may loose a notch or two as a mantra in the state.  They certainly did get themselves into a mess, and have needed, and will continue to need, other’s help to get out of it. Quite contrary to the rugged individualism maxim of, you got yourself into this mess you get yourself out, which they love to preach and brag about.  Well, a little humility never hurt anything but runaway pride.  Here a silver lining may be found.

    Mother nature spoke clearly that the care and understanding of her needs comes first.  Denial is not an option.  Warmer gulf water yields, in general, bigger hurricanes and greater rainfall.  More pavement and less adsorbing ground yields more flooding.  These are not difficult ideas to master.  Harmony with mother nature is the ultimate lesson.  She is an unforgiving teacher.  Her needs and our needs must become one and the same.  

    The bail out bucket always comes with a little preaching and teaching.  We can only hope it works.  It is a bad time to have slow-learners and ones afflicted with empathy deficit disorder in power.  I am not sure there ever is a good time for that.

  7. csm  •  Sep 4, 2017 @11:38 am

    Other than his die-hard supporters, I can’t imagine anyone, left or right, who actually expects Trump to truly succeed at anything at this point, let alone the aftermath of Harvey. Early returns show he’s staying true to form, i.e. screwing up badly. But the bar has been set so low, if Trump would just keep his mouth shut and stay out of the way he’d be declared “presidential.”

  8. Doug  •  Sep 4, 2017 @5:33 pm

    I have a paranoid suspicion that Trump is going to compromise letting dreamers stay if democrats will vote to fund the wall. No evidence to support but…

  9. Dickeylee  •  Sep 4, 2017 @8:39 pm

    Death toll over 60, with close to 500 people still unaccounted for. Over 3000 homes and businesses still flooded. Main issue is the water being released from the two reservoirs west of town.

  10. moonbat  •  Sep 4, 2017 @10:42 pm

    Houston will founder in the same way New Orleans did after Katrina. Disasters are one way that wealth flows from weaker hands to stronger hands. Conservatives see this as the natural order of things, spoils that go to more deserving hands. Do you really think Texas is going to change overnight?

  11. uncledad  •  Sep 4, 2017 @10:47 pm

    “letting dreamers stay if democrats will vote to fund the wall”

    I hope not, that’s not really a deal at all, the democrats should feel no pressure if Trump wants to kick them out, that’s his deal. A more likely scenario (and one I agree with) would be to strike Obama’s executive order but have a 6 month delay so congress can try to do something? I’m not for deporting the dreamers but DACA runs right up against the constitution, if we allow laws that would deport dreamers go unenforced how can the left bitch when and if Trumps DOJ decides not to enforce laws passed regarding the environment or civil rights?

  12. Dan  •  Sep 4, 2017 @11:33 pm

    Don’t buy a used car in the next year or two…